3-Ingredient Date Caramel Sauce

This creamy date caramel sauce is made with just dates, plant-based milk, and a tiny pinch of salt. A pourable sauce to drizzle all over apples, oatmeal, cinnamon rolls, or add to any autumnal dessert.

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Apple season is upon us and there’s no better way to enjoy apples than sprinkled with cinnamon and dipped in date caramel sauce.

This caramel sauce is silky smooth, not sticky or chewy like traditional caramel, so it’s much easier on your teeth, and with no added sugar, it’s a healthier alternative too.

The best part is that you can make this with only three ingredients:

Dates, vanilla plant-based milk, and a tiny pinch of salt (optional). That’s it!

For a pourable sauce, use 1 cup of plant milk, or for a thicker caramel use 1/2 cup. I prefer the thinner sauce because it’s easier to drizzle it all over everything, and that’s mainly how I like to use it.

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Here are few of the ways I’ve been using this date caramel sauce:

  • as a dip for sliced apples and pears

  • on top of oatmeal, baked oatmeal bars, or in overnight oats

  • drizzled all over homemade cinnamon rolls or apple pie

  • blended with apples to make a caramel apple smoothie

  • add some to granola

  • swirl into the batter of your next cinnamon loaf or cake

  • stir into your morning coffee or tea for a refined sugar-free sweetener

  • blend with frozen bananas and apples to make caramel apple nice cream

This recipe makes about 12 oz of sauce. This will keep fresh for up to 10 days in a sealed jar in the fridge.

If you try this out, let me know what you use it on and leave a comment below!


Calming Cherry Hibiscus Moon Milk

A soft pink & frothy night-time beverage with homemade pumpkin seed milk, tart cherry juice, hibiscus tea, and lavender syrup. Each ingredient aids in sleep and relaxation.

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Hibiscus tea is incredibly healthy and I’ve known for a while that I need to be having it more often, but for a long time I couldn’t get into the strong, tangy flavor on it’s own. By blending it with a creamy, rich, pumpkin seed milk and adding a touch of lavender syrup to sweeten it up, it has become my new favorite nightly drink.

Autumn can be a very busy time of year, so it’s extra important to take care of ourselves through eating nourishing plant foods as well as making sure to get a good night’s sleep. This cozy, frothy drink is full of nutritious, antioxidant-rich ingredients which each have unique properties that support sleep quality through reducing stress and promoting relaxation.


Pumpkin Seed Milk

Pumpkin seeds have relatively high amounts of the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is the amino acid the body uses to make the neurotransmitter serotonin. Pumpkin seeds also contain high amounts of zinc, which can help the brain convert tryptophan into serotonin. Adequate serotonin levels are related to the ability to stay asleep and not wake throughout the night. 

Hibiscus Tea

Hibiscus tea, made from the dried petals of hibiscus flowers, is one of the most healthful drinks around due to its high antioxidant & manganese content. It also has a very strong effect on lowering blood pressure. One six-week study found that three cups of hibiscus tea daily lowered systolic blood pressure significantly, without unpleasant side effects (Journal of Nutrition, February 2010).

Tart Cherry Juice

Tart cherries contain a lot of melatonin which aids in sleep. In a study published in Natural Medicine Journal participants drank 30 ml of tart cherry juice 30 minutes after waking and 30 minutes before their evening meal, thereby boosting their exogenous melatonin intake by 85 mcg a day. The results showed significant increase in time in total sleep time and sleep efficiency with cherry juice supplementation.

Lavender Syrup

Much of the research on the relaxing effects of lavender has been done on the inhalation of lavender oils, and not on ingesting lavender in the form of tea, syrup, or other tinctures, but I’d expect ingesting lavender would still have similar effects and the floral flavor and scent is a perfect complement to the hibiscus flowers.

The recipe for the lavender syrup can be found here, or feel free to use maple syrup or other unrefined liquid sweetener of choice.

Optional Relaxing Add-ins

  • Ashwagandha root powder

  • Amla powder

  • Fresh ginger (grated and steeped along with the hibiscus), or powdered ginger

  • Green tea, for a day-time version

  • Turmeric, expect a color change

  • Reishi mushroom powder



Hibiscus tea and tart cherry juice are both acidic, which means when combined with milk it will curdle immediately. Knowing this, I was hesitant to try making a milky hibiscus tea drink. Then I found this recipe and realized that if I blended it, it will go from curdled to deliciously frothy and smooth.

I experimented with this recipe and blending it definitely took care of the curdling issue, however you should still expect some separation to occur. The pink fluffy latte-like foam will sit on top of the hibiscus tea if it sits out for a while, so this drink is best made right before consuming it, or stirred/shaken well if it sits for a while. If enjoying the drink slowly, it can helpful to keep a tea spoon near by to stir in the frothy layer if the separation becomes a little much.

I hope you enjoy this relaxing night-time beverage!


Vanilla Peach Coconut Butter Scones [Vegan & Oil-free!]

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These delicious peach scones are made with whole grain spelt flour, coconut butter, and vanilla. They're just the right amount of lightly sweet, crumbly, and buttery, with no oil or refined sugar needed!

Coconut butter is simply coconut meat that has been blended. None of the fiber has been removed and nothing about it is refined, unlike coconut oil, which is much more heavily processed. Coconut butter still contains all of the fiber, minerals, and vitamins found in coconuts. 

These scones are sweetened with unprocessed raw coconut sugar as well as being naturally sweet from the addition of ripe juicy peaches.

It's rare that I use peaches in baking because around here they usually get eaten raw as soon as they're ripe, but some of the peaches we've been getting just aren't quite as good as the others when eaten fresh, so I chose to save them and use them for baking instead as the baking process makes them even sweeter.  

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These scones are so easy to make, with a very simple ingredient list and such a quick baking time that you can start making these now and be enjoying the most delicious scones in under 30 minutes! 

First, preheat your oven to 425F, then mix together the dry ingredients. Slice in the soft coconut butter using a pastry dough mixer or a fork until the coconut butter is broken into smaller than pea sized pieces. Mix the wet ingredients together in a bowl, then add the wet mixture and the peaches to the dry ingredients and mix using a utensil at first and then your fingertips to mix the dough for up to 2 minutes. 

Sculpt the dough ball into a circle that's 8 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Slice it into 8 wedges using a serrated bread knife or floss. Transfer the wedges to a parchment lined baking pan and bake for 10-15 minutes.  Check on them after 10 minutes and watch carefully so you can remove from the oven as soon as the edges turn lightly golden brown (I left mine in maybe 1 or 2 minutes too long so my edges are a little darker than what you're looking for). 

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack for a few minutes. Then serve plain or with more coconut butter, nut butter, jam, or other toppings of your choosing. I always like keeping these scones plain because I find it makes them easier to take on the go, and I think these taste so good already without any toppings needed!

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I have started posting my recipe videos on our YouTube channel again!

We started our YouTube channel when we were traveling to Hawaii in 2016 and wanted to make some home videos to preserve some memories of our trip, then quickly it turned into an Airstream channel when we moved into our travel trailer and documented our travels across the US from NYC all the way to Seattle. Now that we're here, I'm finally all settled in and ready to film all of the recipe videos I've been wanting to make but didn't quite have the space to film when we were living in the Airstream. 

I plan on filming many more videos for my recipes and posting them on our channel and on my blog from here on out. Making a video for each and every new recipe, as well as going back and filming videos for some of my old favorite recipes here on my blog is no simple task, but I know how much it helps me to have a video to reference for other recipes that I follow, so hopefully you find them helpful too! 

If peaches are already going out of season where you are, feel free to use defrosted frozen peaches, canned peaches, or even another kind of fruit if you want. 

Let me know what you think of these scones if you try them out!


How to Make Oil-free Vegan Mushroom "Bacon"

Crispy, savory, vegan mushroom bacon. Made on the stove top with a simple, oil-free marinade of tamari, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar. 

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Okay, so I guess everyone can stop eating bacon from pigs now... right?

I mean seriously, look at those mushrooms, it doesn't get any meatier than that. The marinade is just the right amount of smoky and salty with a hint of maple syrup to caramelize the mushrooms. The chewy texture of these large king oyster mushrooms makes them an even more realistic vegan bacon-replacement. 


 A sweet gentle pig sleeping after getting belly rubs at Catskill Farm Animal Sanctuary. 

A sweet gentle pig sleeping after getting belly rubs at Catskill Farm Animal Sanctuary. 

A few reasons to stop eating bacon:

  • Processed meats like bacon are classified as a class 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization. 
  • Pigs are more intelligent than dogs and chimpanzees and they can even use a joystick to play video games. Pigs are also very social, they remember locations well, they remember negative and positive experiences, can tell the difference between individual pigs and humans, recognize themselves in mirrors and learn from other pigs.
  • Bacon contains high amounts of saturated and trans fats which lead to our #1 killer, heart disease. 
  • Ninety-seven percent of pigs in the United States today are raised in factory farms, where they are crowded into warehouses with no ability to move. They are fed drugs to keep them alive despite neglect and make them grow faster, but they grow so large so fast that many of the animals to become crippled under their own weight. 
  • Factory farmed pigs are on a steady diet of the antibiotics that we depend on to treat human illnesses. This overuse of antibiotics has led to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains.
  • An average slaughterhouse kills up to 1,100 pigs every hour, which makes it impossible for them to be given humane, painless deaths. Even on small farms, pigs are smart enough to know when they are about to be killed and will fight to stay alive and resist going to slaughter just like we would if we were in their situation. 
  • We have so many wonderful alternatives to bacon, from packaged pre-made options, to less expensive homemade versions made form coconut, tempeh, seitan, eggplant, tofu, and of course... mushrooms!

Choosing your 'shrooms

The best "bacon" mushrooms are going to be the larger ones like king oyster mushrooms, also called king trumpet mushrooms (shown below), as well as portobello mushrooms. Both kinds will work well for this recipe, but I prefer king oyster mushrooms when I can find them.

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How to perfectly slice king oyster mushrooms using a mandoline

King oyster mushrooms are best sliced on a mandoline using a serrated slicing blade. This will give them the perfect looking texture for this recipe as well as ensure that the mushrooms are an even thickness which will help them to cook evenly. Aim for anywhere from 1/16th--1/8th of an inch in thickness. 

 King Oyster mushrooms sliced on a serrated mandoline blade

King Oyster mushrooms sliced on a serrated mandoline blade

How to slice portobello mushrooms with a knife

For portobello mushrooms, while you could slice them on a mandolin, I prefer to thinly slice them using a knife. Make sure your knife is freshly sharpened- it's especially important when slicing softer produce. 

Remove the portobello mushroom stem, then place your mushroom gills side up and carefully slice into long slices which are roughly 1/16th-1/8th in thickness, as evenly as possible. 

 Portobello mushrooms thinly sliced with a sharp knife

Portobello mushrooms thinly sliced with a sharp knife


How to pan fry mushrooms without oil

  1. First, mix together all of the marinade ingredients (2 tbsp tamari, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp maple syrup, and 1/2 tsp liquid smoke) in a small bowl. Place your sliced mushrooms (8 oz.) in a large bowl, then pour over the marinade. Toss a few times to fully coat each mushroom, then let them sit in the marinade for 10-15 minutes. 
  2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat, then once warm add a portion of the marinated mushrooms to the dry pan, placing as many as you can flat in the pan without layering or crowding them. You may need to do this in batches. Leave the marinade in the bowl for later use in the recipe.
  3. Let the mushrooms cook, undisturbed, for about a minute or until the bottom of the mushrooms turns golden brown. You may need to turn the heat down to medium/low or low if your pan starts smoking, but keep the pan pretty warm. Using tongs, flip the mushrooms back and forth every minute or two until each side is lightly charred and crispy. This could take anywhere from 5-8 minutes. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside. 
  4. Add your next batch of mushrooms to the pan in a single layer and again let them sit for the first minute until the bottoms turn golden, then flip them every couple of minutes until each side is light brown and slightly charred. This will take less time than the previous batch because the pan will be hotter, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Once all batches have finished cooking, add the mushrooms you cooked in the previous batch(es) back to the pan and pour over the marinade. Turn the heat to low and cook for another 3 minutes or until the marinade has boiled away and the mushrooms are crispy on the edges but still have a nice sheen, then remove from pan and serve over rice or in any recipe where a bacon alternative is called for such as- sandwiches, wraps, or pasta. 

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If you can't find king oyster mushrooms at your grocery store, try your local Asian market. I think the king oysters look a little more meaty, but whichever mushrooms you choose, both make for a fantastic, healthy, plant-based version of bacon.

Portobello mushrooms are much easier to find and will also work well. You may actually find that they cook slightly faster than the time listed for the king oyster mushrooms, depending on how thinly you slice them. 

 portobello mushroom bacon

portobello mushroom bacon

My favorite way to enjoy mushroom bacon is on top of some vegan mac and cheese. It's the ultimate comfort food, made extra healthy with mostly unprocessed, 100% plant-based ingredients. 

 Nut-free  Vegan sweet potato Mac & Cheese  topped with mushroom bacon

Nut-free Vegan sweet potato Mac & Cheese topped with mushroom bacon

If you try this mushroom bacon recipe, let me know how it goes and what you serve it with!


Iced Lavender Earl Grey London Fog Latte

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If you love summery floral flavors and creamy lightly-sweetened beverages, you're going to want to try this recipe! This Earl Grey latte, also called a "London Fog" is made with black Earl Grey tea, lavender syrup made from unrefined coconut sugar, and creamy almond milk. It can be served over ice for a refreshing summer drink, or served hot for a more cozy floral experience. 

Now that we're living in a small city again, we've gotten back into the costly habit of going out for coffee and tea on the weekends. I unintentionally stopped drinking coffee a while ago- oddly, I lost my taste for both coffee and alcohol at the same time about four years ago and haven't had either since, but my love for tea endures all.

Our local coffee shop makes the best sweetened tea lattes; matcha, chai, and one that I hadn't tried until very recently- a London fog latte, which is a vanilla sweetened milky earl grey tea. As soon as I tried one it became an instant new favorite morning drink. The floral flavors of the bergamot Earl Grey tea make it the perfect summer beverage. 

While I love the version my coffee shop makes, it's definitely borderline too sweet to have regularly, not to mention quite expensive for something I could learn to make at home, so that's exactly what I did!

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My favorite part of making any milky tea recipe is watching as the milk and tea blend and swirl together in a glass. Does anyone else find this as mesmerizing as I do? The swirls only last for a split second before it all turns a uniform rosy beige color, so if you blink you might miss it. 

There are only two main steps to this recipe, with an optional third step-

  1. Make the Earl Grey tea concentrate
  2. Make the lavender syrup
  3. Make your own almond milk, or you can just use any store-bought plant based milk you prefer

How to make Earl Grey tea concentrate 

To make the Earl Grey tea concentrate, bring 2 cups of water to boil in a kettle. Pour the boiling water over two Earl Grey tea bags and steep for 10-12 minutes. This will make for a strong tea concentrate that isn't too bitter. Once it has steeped, remove the tea bags and allow to cool, then pour it into a liter-sized jar and cool it in the fridge. 

*Note: This recipe is for an Iced London Fog Latte. If you just want a single cup of hot tea, you can make a mug of Earl Grey tea and steep it to desired strength, keeping in mind that the almond milk and lavender syrup will dilute it a bit. Then add almond milk and lavender syrup to taste. 


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How to make lavender syrup

Ingredients: 1 cup coconut sugar, 1 cup water, 1 tbsp dried culinary lavender flowers, 1 tsp vanilla extract 

Instructions:

  1. Pour the water and coconut sugar in a small pot or saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved into the syrup, about 3 minutes. 
  2. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the lavender. Steep for 7 minutes, not too much longer than that or it will start to get bitter.
  3. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove the lavender buds, then stir in the vanilla extract. Store in a sealed container in the fridge, it will keep fresh for about 2 to 3 weeks. Use 1 tsp-1 tbsp of syrup to add sweet lavender flavor into coffee and tea, or use it in your oatmeal or anywhere else you'd enjoy the flavor of lavender. 

 

This lavender syrup recipe is inspired by Kathy Hester.


How to make your own creamy almond milk (optional)

Store bought almond milk just doesn't compare to the creamy goodness that is homemade almond milk. All you need is 1 cup of raw almonds, a blender, and a nut milk bag or fine mesh sieve.

If you don't want to make the almond milk yourself, this latte will still be delicious, but it won't be quite as rich and decadent as it would with the homemade milk. 

Soak your raw almonds overnight, then drain out the soaking water and give them a good rinse. Place them in a blender with 4 cups of water and blend for a few minutes until very smooth. Pour this mixture through a sieve or nut milk bag, straining out the almond pulp. Save the almond pulp to use in other recipes throughout the week. It functions similarly to almond flour in some recipes. 

Pour the strained almond milk into a glass jar using a funnel if needed and store in the fridge for up to a week. 

 NOTe: The flowers on the left are not lavender, just lavender-colored flowers I found growing in my garden. The dried flowers on the right are actually dried lavender flowers. 

NOTe: The flowers on the left are not lavender, just lavender-colored flowers I found growing in my garden. The dried flowers on the right are actually dried lavender flowers. 


To Assemble

In the 1-liter jar that your 2 cups of Earl Grey concentrate is in, pour in 2 cups of homemade almond milk (check out those groovy swirls!) Taste and add more almond milk if desired. Add in your lavender syrup to taste, I used 3 tablespoons for this one liter serving size, but start with a little and taste until you have your own preferred level of lavender flavor and sweetness. Put a cap on the jar and shake to distribute the syrup, or you can give it a good stir. 

Serve in individual glasses over ice and enjoy!


Mediterranean Summer Squash Boats With Smashed Chickpeas & Almond Cheese Crumbles

Sunny yellow summer squash are stuffed with a Mediterranean inspired smashed chickpea filling and topped with sliced kalamata olives, fresh herbs, and almond cheese crumbles made from leftover homemade almond milk pulp.

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When summer squash made their first appearance in our CSA produce box this past week, I knew right away that I wanted to enjoy these golden beauties roasted and stuffed with a chickpea filling. 

Stuffed summer squash and zucchini are sometimes referred to as "zucchini boats" given their long hollow shape. They're so much fun to make and to eat! You can use any kind of summer squash you'd like including the classic zucchini and other colorful and striped varieties. 

Slice your squash in half the long way and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. You can save the seeds to add to smoothies or place them in a freezer bag to make your own vegetable broth. The seeds contain a lot of nutrients, so don't miss out! 

The more you scoop out, the less stable these boats will become, so only scoop out the seeds and be sure to keep lots of the fleshy part of the squash in there. 

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To make the smashed chickpea filling:

  1. Drain and rinse 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas and place them in a medium sized bowl. 
  2. Add in 1/2 cup pasta sauce of choice, I really like Engine 2 brand oil-free tomato basil marinara for this recipe, and add in 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast.
  3. Smash it all together using a potato masher or a fork, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Making vegan cheese from leftover almond milk pulp:

I've been making my own almond milk for the past few months now, so lately I've been finding myself with lots of leftover almond pulp. I've tried several almond pulp recipes, from cookies to crackers to muffins, all of which have never really worked out for me. Almond pulp varies so much in moisture content based on how much liquid you're able squeeze out of it when making almond milk, that it can be difficult to use in baked goods which require very specific amounts of liquid. 

Instead of baking it into something, I prefer to use it raw and make it into a crumbly nut cheese, which is very similar to Cotija cheese or an extra crumbly feta. It's salty, savory, and makes the perfect cheese topping on so many of my favorite meals. The slight bit of moisture in the pulp allows it to stick together and clump perfectly. 

I'm really impressed with how much this tastes like cheese, and while it's not white like traditional cow's milk cheese, you can make this with blanched or slivered almonds, which have had the skin removed, and then it will be perfectly white and the look of it will be even more similar. 

If you don't make your own almond milk and don't have any almond pulp, you can still make this recipe by using almond flour. You just need to add in water or more lime juice a few teaspoons at a time until it starts to form small clumps. 

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To make the almond pulp vegan cheese crumbles-

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond pulp, or the pulp leftover from making 1 liter of almond milk (1 cup raw almonds, plus 4 cups water), or use 1 cup of almond flour. 
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, or lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir together using a fork to mash the ingredients until well-mixed and crumbly in texture. If using almond flour, add more water or lime juice a teaspoon at a time until small clumps start to form. Taste and add more salt or garlic and mustard powder if desired. 

This nut cheese is best served on top of food and kept mostly dry. If added to a salad and tossed with a wet dressing, it will turn into an almond paste which you may or may not want on your salad. I enjoy it on top of tacos, pasta, avocado toast, and grain/legume bowls. 


Assemble & bake:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, or skip this step if you want to make these in an air fryer.

Scoop 1/4 of the chickpea mixture into each squash half, then place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until the zucchinis are tender and the mixture is browned. If using an air fryer, place the stuffed squash halves into the air fryer basket and cook them in the air fryer for 15 minutes at 380 degrees. Depending on the size of your air fryer you might need to do this in batches.

Remove the squash from the oven or air fryer and top with sliced kalamata olives, raw almond cheese, and fresh chopped herbs.

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Summer squash and zucchini have a very low calorie density, so I find it's best to think of these as a snack and not a full meal. Though, they could be a full meal if you doubled the portion size and served them over a bed of fresh greens. 

Have you ever tried squash or zucchini boats before?

If you make this recipe, I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think of it!


Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

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This chocolate cherry smoothie is the perfect indulgent, yet secretly-healthy summer beverage. Chocolate and cherries are one of my favorite food pairings, but these days when it's too hot to turn on the oven it's time to consider other ways to make that combination happen, so this week I've been making this delicious smoothie quite often.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that we got six pounds of cherries in our CSA box, which we quickly devoured raw and any leftovers went into baked goods. Well, last week we took it to a whole new level when we got a whole 18-pound case of cherries from the farmers market- which I realize sounds insane given that my household has just two people and one small rabbit (who doesn't eat fruit), but once I pitted all of them and put them in the freezer they fit in two gallon sized freezer bags, which is actually a pretty manageable amount to store and use up within a reasonable time frame.

Because of this, you may have noticed that I've been making a lot of cherry recipes lately- probably too many, but I promise there are some cherry-free recipes coming soon!

For now, I've been fully enjoying cooking with them, photographing them, and eating handfuls every time I pass by the fridge. 

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I haven't posted many smoothie recipes on my blog- actually, I just checked and this is the first one! That's because there's only a very brief time of the year when I can enjoy a smoothie without feeling like I'm turning into a human ice cube, and now that it's above 80 degrees most days here in the PNW, I am fully enjoying icy cold smoothies- and not even needing to take a hot shower after to warm up!

While I can't fathom enjoying a smoothie any other time of the year than in the summer, if you're reading this and you're the kind of person who can drink a cold smoothie in the dead of winter, you go right ahead! There's no need to wait for cherry season to come around to make this smoothie since most grocery stores will have frozen cherries available all year. 

For added nutrition, you can blend a handful of spinach or kale into the smoothie and the sweetness of the cherries will completely mask any flavors from the greens. 

I hope you enjoy the recipe!


Sweet Potato Breakfast Toast (SOS-free!)

 Violet attempting to steal a strawberry

Violet attempting to steal a strawberry


Have you ever heard of slicing a sweet potato into bread slice shaped pieces and toasting it? I know It doesn't sound like it would be all that life changing, but ever since I started doing this I eat so many more sweet potatoes and way less bread than ever before! 

I still love a nice toasted slice of whole grain bread, and while bread certainly isn't bad for you, especially when whole grains are involved, bread is still a processed food and processed foods are almost always less healthy than plant foods in their whole, unprocessed form.

I've noticed that I don't feel my best when I eat too much bread or any other processed food and I don't have quite as much energy as when I eat whole foods like sweet potatoes. So for the past couple of weeks I've switched out toast or oatmeal in the morning for baked sweet potato slices and I feel better than ever and stay full for longer as well. I love choosing different combinations of toppings and find myself looking forward to breakfast more than any other meal of the day. 

While sweet potato toast won't replace your sandwich bread and the natural sweetness of the potatoes is sometimes questionable with savory toppings, I find it to be the perfect vehicle for sweet toppings like nut butters, dairy-free yogurt, berries, and other fruits. 

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The sweet potato slices become perfectly crispy on the outside but the inside stays soft and gets super sweet.

With oatmeal, I always have to add a little maple syrup or coconut sugar, but I don't find that I need to add any sweetener to this breakfast besides fruit and it still tastes like a dessert. Actually this recipe is completely salt, oil, and sugar-free, aka SOS-free!

There are several ways in which you can make sweet potato toast, but however you make it, be sure to eat it right after it's been cooked. If it sits out for too long after you toast it, it will be a little soggy and floppy- not at all how the sweet potato toast experience is meant to be. They won't have that same quality that makes them so delicious unless you heat them back up again in the oven or toaster until crispy.

Luckily there are many options, even a make-ahead option, that will make sweet potato toast so quick and easy that it becomes your new favorite breakfast. 

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Tips & Tricks

  • When picking out sweet potatoes at the store, choose ones that are a bit wide and round. While long skinny potatoes will still work, I find that I can cram more toppings on a wider slice. 
  • When it comes time to slice the potato, make sure the large knife you are using is freshly sharpened. Then slice off a very small piece of the potato in the spot where you want it to be balanced while you cut. This will give it some stability so the potato doesn't roll while you're cutting into it.
  • Then, carefully slice it the long way into 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices. It's unlikely that all your pieces will be uniform in size and that's okay, just do your best and as long as they're somewhere near that size range you're good to go! 
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Cooking Options

Once you have your sweet potato sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices, there are a few different ways you can choose to make it into toast.

Here are a few that I've tried and tested-

Oven:

  1. Preheat oven to 400℉.
  2. Place slices on a wire rack or on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-22 minutes until the slices are lightly golden on the outside and the edges are just starting to brown. Flip them over halfway through cooking time for slightly more even crisping. Enjoy right away.

Air-fryer:

This is my favorite way to make sweet potato toast because there's no waiting for the oven to preheat and I don't even have to flip the slices over because the air fryer does such an amazingly even cooking job.

  1. Place the raw sweet potato slices in the air fryer basket and cook for 18-20 minutes 390℉ or whatever setting your air fryer has for potatoes/fries. 
  2. Add toppings and serve immediately after they come out of the air fryer. 

Toaster or Toaster Oven:

Yes, believe it or not you actually can put raw sweet potato in the toaster to make sweet potato toast, but it's probably not the most efficient way to do it. You would have to stand at the toaster for a long time while you keep checking on it to make sure it doesn't burn and end up putting it through a toast cycle several times before it's done.

This might not be the best thing for your toaster too as sweet potatoes can get a little sticky sometimes. So if you do want to try this method, it's best to cook the sweet potatoes in the oven first, then store them in the fridge and toss them in the toaster or toaster oven right before you eat them. 

  1. Preheat oven to 400℉.
  2. Place slices on a wire rack or on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender but not fully cooked.
  3. Remove pan from oven and allow potatoes to cool completely before transferring to storage container. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  4. When you want sweet potato toast, grab a precooked slice from the fridge and put it in your toaster or toaster oven until it's crispy and golden on the outside, then enjoy right away. 
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My Favorite Toppings

  • Nut or seed butter- (pecan, walnut, almond, cashew, sunflower etc.) I like to buy raw nuts in bulk and make nut butter myself in the food processor and always have a jar of it in the fridge. 
  • Dairy-free yogurt- ideally sugar-free, unsweetened, minimal ingredients. My favorite brand is Forager cashew yogurt, but coconut or almond yogurt can be great as well! 
  • Hemp seeds or ground flax seeds- I add these in for omega 3s when I'm using any nut butter that is high in omega 6, such as pecan, almond and cashew. When I make walnut butter which is super high in omega-3s I leave the omega-ratio-balancing seeds off.
  • Bananas- available all year & perfect for when other fruits are out of season
  • Berries- blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.
  • Other seasonal fruit- figs, plums, peaches, etc. 
  • Cinnamon- cloves and nutmeg also pair well with certain fruits like apples and pears

If you decide to try making sweet potato toast, let me know what you think of it and also what cooking method and toppings you chose to use! ☼

Tofu No-Chicken Noodle Soup with Lemon & Black Pepper [Vegan, Oil-Free, Gluten-Free]

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It's still cozy soup season in early April right? Here in the Pacific Northwest, although it's been a little warmer, we are still fully in the rainy season so I've been into all things cozy and comforting these days. 

Chicken noodle soup is one of those timeless classic soups that almost everyone loves. Even though I grew up as a vegetarian, I still remember enjoying cans of the Amy's no chicken noodle soup all the time. Those are great in a pinch, but nothing actually compares to a homemade soup- and this soup is so easy to make there's no excuse to go reaching for the canned stuff. 

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The tofu "chicken" is baked in a marinade of tamari, nutritional yeast, and paprika, which makes it so savory and delicious. I recently got an air-fryer so I've been loving that for making crispy tofu, but it's just as easy and efficient to bake it in the oven for about 20 minutes. 

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This soup is full of zesty flavors like lemon and black pepper along with savory tofu-chicken-complementing herbs like sage, marjoram, and thyme. What brings it all together and gives it that authentic savory broth taste is the no chicken bouillon broth paste made by the brand Better Than Bouillon. It's available in most grocery stores near where they sell the broth and while the packaging says vegetarian, it's actually vegan! It's so delicious but it can be a bit high in sodium so I've listed a low-sodium option in the recipe as well. 

This recipe will please vegans and non-vegans alike! The crispy marinated tofu makes a perfect chicken substitute for even the pickiest of eaters and the broth tastes like the most classic chicken broth from your childhood, all without harming any animals.  

If you try out this recipe, I'd love to hear what you think of it! Hopefully it's exactly the soup recipe you needed to stay cozy through this rainy early spring weather. 

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Oil-Free Veggie Fried Rice with Peanut Sauce

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Lately, I've been loving this rice and veggie stir-fry. Fried rice was a dish I was pretty sure I would never be able to make taste just as good without oil, but with the right sauce it's actually very possible!

Instead of oil, we fry the vegetables in coconut aminos which adds a wonderful umami flavor. Then the cooked rice is added in along with a savory peanut sauce which makes this dish taste rich without needing any refined oil. 

For this recipe, you can use any kind of whole grain rice you like. I've used wild rice, black rice, brown rice, and even quinoa- all with fantastic results. I think black rice is probably my favorite though, and it's actually the highest in antioxidants too!

Whichever rice or other similar whole grain that you decide to use, the first step is to give it a good rinse and then cook it in your rice cooker. 

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While the rice is cooking, prepare your veggies. You can use 2-3 cups of whichever finely chopped vegetables you prefer. I usually go for a mix of bell pepper, carrots, broccoli/broccolini, and edamame or peas.

While the variety of those veggies changes a bit each time I make it, I always use chopped green onions and garlic to add more flavor and give it a more authentic restaurant-style fried rice taste.

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Once you have your veggies chopped, it's time to make the sauce. 

My favorite stir-fry sauce is this spicy & savory peanut sauce. It's a simple mix of coconut aminos (or use low-sodium tamari), peanut butter, hot sauce, and maple syrup. There's no blending required- simply add the ingredients into a small bowl and give it a good stir until creamy. 

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Now on to the oil-free vegetable frying-

To make the veggies extra savory and avoid having them be soggy, I like to use just a 1/2 tablespoon of coconut aminos in place of oil. 

Once the pan is hot, add the coconut aminos and garlic, cook for a few minutes then and the rest of the veggies. Since they are chopped small, they cook in about 5 minutes. Then, add in the cooked rice followed by the sauce. Stir it all together while the rice cooks with the veggies for another 2-3 minutes. Then add in the green onions at the very end, remove from heat and serve. 

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Let me know if you try out this easy oil-free veggie fried rice recipe, I'd love to hear what you think of it!


Tempeh Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato Wrap [Vegan BLT]

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This marinated tempeh & veggie wrap has been one of my favorite quick lunch recipes all week. Ever since getting the hang of preparing tempeh, I've been all about adding it to wraps, sandwiches, salads, and stir-frys. 

The trick with cooking tempeh is either steaming it or water-frying for about 8-10 minutes before marinating it. This removes any bitter fermented flavors from the tempeh and allows it to easily take on the flavors of the marinade. 

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There are so many different ways to marinate and prepare tempeh, but for tempeh in a wrap I like to stick with a simple marinade consisting of coconut aminos (or tamari) maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar. Sometimes I also use just a bit of liquid smoke for a different flavor, but it's not entirely necessary and can be omitted. 

The longer you allow the tempeh to marinate (up to 24 hours), the better the flavor will be, but I'm one of those people who never remembers to plan ahead and I usually decide to cook something on a whim, which means often I manage to only marinate the tempeh for anywhere between 15-30 minutes, and it still takes on plenty of flavor in that amount of time.

Once the tempeh has marinated, you can either bake it in the oven or fry it in a pan on the stovetop for a few minutes on each side. I usually go with the baking option so I can cook all of the pieces at the same time. 

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The firm and crispy texture of the tempeh makes it fantastic as a bacon substitute in this BLT style wrap. The marinade is just the right balance of salty, tangy and sweet and makes the tempeh taste savory and delicious. 

I used a spring mix lettuce blend, fresh tomatoes, green onions, avocado with lime juice, and I added shredded carrots for some extra crunch, though finely chopped purple cabbage would well work in place of the carrots too. 

I find that when making a wrap it's important to use a spread of some sort because it helps to hold the wrap together when you're rolling it all up. There are a few different options for the spread to use in this wrap.

This week I've been going back and forth between using this homemade green olive hummus and this homemade pumpkin seed pesto sauce. They are both easy to whip up in the blender in about 5 minutes, but for more classic BLT and less preparation, use a vegan mayo spread.

Let me know if you try this out, I'd love to hear what you think of the recipe!


5-Ingredient Matcha Coconut Crispy Bars [Refined Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan]

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These crispy matcha coconut bars contain only FIVE ingredients and require almost no cooking! The only part of the recipe that comes close to cooking is softening the coconut butter, which can be done on the stovetop but it will also soften up in just 20-30 seconds in the microwave. 

Next you simply mix all of the remaining ingredients together in a bowl and then press the mixture into a dish. Let it cool in the fridge for at least an hour, then slice and serve. It doesn't get any easier than this!

Here are the 5 ingredients you'll need:

  • coconut butter
  • maple syrup
  • vanilla extract
  • matcha powder (optional)
  • brown crisped rice cereal, preferably one-ingredient and sugar free

While I wouldn't consider coconut butter to be a health food and it's definitely more of a special occasion sort of treat, I still consider it to be a healthier alternative to coconut oil. 

One tablespoon of coconut butter provides 2 grams of fiber as well as small amounts of potassium, magnesium, and iron. Meanwhile, coconut oil has had everything good removed including all of the fiber and micronutrients so you're left with 100% refined saturated fat. Coconut butter is much closer to being in its whole food form and still provides some nutrients, so I feel comfortable using it on rare occasions and especially when cooking for others who enjoy a rich dessert or are curious to try vegan food.

Recipe below!

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Chickpea "Tuna" Wrap with Oil-Free Pepita Pesto [Vegan]

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These chickpea "tuna" salad wraps with pesto sauce are the perfect meal-prep lunch recipe to keep you feeling healthy and satisfied during the work week. The best part: NO cooking is required to make either the pesto sauce or the chickpea salad! All you need is a blender for the pesto sauce and a mixing bowl and masher for the chickpeas. 

To be completely honest, I don't quite remember what tuna tastes like. I haven't had a tuna sandwich since I was a little kid, so I couldn't tell you if this actually tastes like tuna fish or just a delicious chickpea salad.

I would've just called it a chickpea salad wrap, but with the addition of some finely chopped seaweed in the mix, I feel pretty confident that these smashed chickpeas have a touch of oceanic flavor and a texture that gives off some tuna vibes. 🐟

While it might not be just like tuna, there are many reasons to try chickpeas instead and avoid eating tuna and other sea life-

  1. Mercury and other toxic heavy metals bioaccumulate up the food chain, so large fish that eat smaller fish, like tuna, often contain extremely high levels of these heavy metals as well as industrial pollutants. Even small amounts of mercury can negatively impact our digestive and nervous systems. This risk greatly outweighs any benefits we would receive from the omega 3 fatty acids in fish, so it's much safer to get your EPA/DHA lower down on the food chain, in the form of a micro algae supplement.
  2. Overfishing is destroying the oceans and the way in which tuna are captured is actually really disturbing. They are caught by net which means they have a slow and painful death and are often crushed by the weight of other tuna and sea life as they are dragged to the surface. 
  3. The CDC says that 75% of all food poisoning comes from seafood. I have experienced this for myself when I once ordered vegan avocado sushi rolls from a sushi restaurant that serves fish and got the worst food poisoning of my life due to cross contamination from the fish they were preparing on the same surface. 
  4. Tuna fishing kills more than just tuna. Dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and other sea life are also often killed when they're accidentally caught in fishing nets. 
  5. Farmed fish are not any better off. They often live in cramped conditions to increase profits, which puts them at a high risk for disease and parasitic infections. To keep the fish alive, fish farmers often give the fish powerful medications and antibiotics which we then ingest. These aquafarms are not even a more environmentally friendly choice. A 2-acre salmon farm produces as much waste as a town of 10,000 people.
  6. Fish DO feel pain and in many ways, such as their memory and cognitive abilities, they are just as smart as certain vertebrates and even primates. They are playful, social, and some fish even use tools. Why choose to eat them when there are other options?

This pesto sauce made with pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) is my new go-to pesto recipe to spread on everything. It only requires a handful of ingredients and as always I made it completely oil-free. Most of the recipes I have found use up to half a cup of oil, which is really damaging for the health of our arteries.

Even so-called "healthy" oils like extra virgin olive oil cause more damage than if we just didn't eat the oil at all. The natural oils found in the pepitas, which still retain their fiber and micronutrients, are a much healthier way to enjoy a delicious fresh pesto, full of necessary unrefined whole plant fats. 

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This pesto is easy to make quickly in the blender. I find that it blends very easily in my high-speed blender, no scraping down the sides required, but a food processor should do a great job of it as well.

It's so tasty I could eat it by the spoonful!

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The chickpea "tuna" salad is also super simple to make. Just throw all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl, then give it a good mash and stir until it's still a little chunky, but evenly mixed. 

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Make the wrap by starting with a layer of pesto sauce, then add a handful of fresh greens, cabbage, and carrots (I forgot to add in the carrots this time), and a nice thick line of the chickpea salad. Fold in the sides of the wrap then roll it up. For extra wrap-security, roll it up again in some parchment paper and tie it with a string.

It's a great recipe to take on the go as a packed lunch for work or school. The leftover chickpea salad and pesto sauce can be stored separately in sealed containers in the fridge for 4-5 days. The leftover pesto sauce is acutally fantastic on pasta as well!

I hope you love this wrap as much as I do! Recipe down below ↓

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How to Make Vegan Parmesan with Only 2 Ingredients

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This vegan parmesan recipe is one of the most simple recipes ever. It only requires two ingredients: raw cashews and nutritional yeast. 

When I first started experimenting with creating my own vegan parmesan at home, I followed a few slightly more complex recipes with more ingredients, and while the end result was delicious, I found that the parmesan wasn't as versatile as I would like it to be. 

I would cook a meal that was already salted and flavored the way I wanted it, then I'd add in my salty garlic-y homemade parm and it would totally overpower the taste. So I stopped adding salt, onion powder, garlic, etc. and before I knew it everytime I made it I was making it the same exact way with only cashews and nutritional yeast and this recipe has worked for me time and time again. 

While the flavor is subtle and not super salty like actual parmesan, you get a lot more control over how much salt you choose to add so you can get away with using more of this parmesan without things getting too salty or overpowering. 

I have tried using nutritional yeast on it's own as vegan parmesan substitute, and while this will work in a pinch, nutritional yeast has a slightly sweet flavor so it's not quite ideal on it's own. When it's balanced with the raw cashews, it lends a nice cheesy flavor without becoming overly sweet. 

I put this stuff on everything; pizza, pasta, potato patties, sauces, breading, soups, etc. so since I use it all the time I like to always have some in a jar in my fridge where it will stay nice and fresh for several weeks. 


Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce [Low-Fat, Vegan, Oil-Free, Nut-Free]

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This alfredo sauce is so flavorful and creamy with no oil, dairy, or nuts needed! It's made from cauliflower, which when cooked for a bit and blended with the right ingredients, it transforms into the most perfect alfredo sauce texture. 

Don't get me wrong, I love a good heavy cashew-based sauce, but over the years I've found that too many nuts can make me feel not so great. So instead of nuts, this recipe uses hemp seeds which are super healthy and contain lots of omega 3 fatty acids that support long-term brain health and cognitive function. 

Hemp seeds help to make the sauce creamy and thick without throwing your omega 3-6 ratios off-balance and they have a delicious nutty flavor that works perfectly with the other flavors in this sauce. 

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Behold, a creamy sauce you can feel good about pouring over your pasta. No dairy, nuts, or oil needed! 

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Does it taste like cauliflower though?

Well, a little bit, but not in the way you might expect.

Because the cauliflower is cooked for about 15 minutes it really softens up and loses that strong fresh vegetable taste. It does taste very subtly of cauliflower, but in a soft delicate way that won't make you feel like you're eating straight up pureed veggies. 

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I used whole wheat pasta and added in some peas and my favorite mushroom bacon, which I highly recommend, but feel free to add whichever veggies you have on hand or enjoy the sauce on it's own over the pasta, it's delicious either way!

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Almond Butter Tempeh Salad With Miso Ginger Dressing [Oil-Free, Vegan]

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This salad with marinated almond butter tempeh and creamy miso ginger dressing has been my go-to salad recipe for the past few weeks. It's filling and savory from the marinated tempeh but also refreshing and spicy from the creamy dressing made with fresh ginger and fermented miso paste. 

I used to think I hated tempeh, no matter what I did it always tasted bitter. Eventually I learned that tempeh really needs to be steamed first to remove the bitter flavors, but even then I didn't know what to do with it. Then I found this recipe for marinated peanut butter tempeh by Minimalist Baker and that changed everything for me. I adjusted the recipe to be oil free and also slightly lower in sodium, but still maintain that delicious flavor, and now I can't get enough of it. I love adding it to fresh salads, but it's also wonderful in warm grain bowls with rice and steamed greens, as shown below. 

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I like the tempeh cut into little triangles. Cut the tempeh in half the long way first and then cut the thin pieces into triangles. 

Making the marinade for the tempeh is really easy. Just mix together the marinade ingredients in a bowl and gently stir or toss the tempeh until it's fully coated. 

If I have time I try to let it sit in the marinade for as long as possible (2-24 hours), but usually I only have about 15 minutes. Even in that small amount of time the tempeh still picks up a lot of flavor. 

Lay out the marinated tempeh pieces on a lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees until golden brown. 

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If you like ginger, you're going to LOVE this salad dressing recipe. As always it's oil-free, vegan, and made with healthy whole food ingredients. It's got quite a kick to it and goes so well with the almond butter tempeh in this salad bowl. All you need is a high speed blender or food processor. Add all of the ingredients and blend until it's super creamy and no chunks remain. Store the dressing in a sealed container in the fridge and it will keep for 4-5 days for use in salads all week. 

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I hope you enjoy this flavorful salad recipe! 



Smoky White Bean & Caramelized Onion Quesadillas [Vegan, Oil-Free]

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Quesadillas hold a very special place in my heart. Since becoming a vegetarian as a young kid, quesadillas were just always the easiest thing to throw together at a friend's house or order out at restaurants. I always wanted them as plain as possible with just a ton of cheese and nothing else except maybe sour cream. Up until a few years ago, I had never heard of the idea of filling them with anything else besides cheese, but since becoming vegan and realizing how important fiber is I have wholeheartedly embraced the idea of healthier filling alternatives. 

These quesadillas are filled with smoky smashed cannellini beans and sweet caramelized onions. They are crispy, savory, and definitely have a tangy cheesy flavor that is so crucial to any quesadilla experience. They get their cheesy flavor from nutritional yeast, tahini, and lemon juice.

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What really takes these quesadillas to the next level is a layer of caramelized onions. They require a bit of time and patience, but add such a good flavor that it's worth it. If you don't have time, the quesadillas will still be delicious though, and by not adding them you can cut the cooking time down from 50 minutes to 10 minutes, so I fully understand if you choose to pass on them. 

If you do decide to take the longer route of adding in the caramelized onions, you'll be so happy you did once you taste how delicious the sweet onions are with the smoky white beans.

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I recently read a post on Sweet Simple Vegan about how to caramelize onions without oil and realized how impatient I had been being when caramelizing onions in the past. I'd always try to get away with saving time by making turning up the heat, but the key is to keep the heat on medium low the whole entire time. This allows them to brown slowly and not dry out, making them extra sweet and juicy. Another key point is to use water while frying, but wait for the pan to completely dry out before adding more water. I found all of these tips super helpful!

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I hope you enjoy this delicious & healthy quesadilla recipe!


Beet Hummus Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms [Vegan, Oil-Free]

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Roasted portobello mushroom caps make a deliciously healthy alternative to the classic hummus and avocado on toast. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with having hummus on some sliced whole grain bread, but it's a good idea to change things up every so often. Since I make a batch of hummus almost every week, after a few days of having it on toast, I find myself looking for other ways to enjoy it. This time I decided to try stuffing it in a roasted portobello mushroom and it was so tasty! 

My favorite hummus lately has been this vibrant pink beet hummus. The key to making the beets have sweet flavor rather than an earthy bitter flavor is to make sure to use well-cooked beets. Any way you choose to cook them is fine, as long as they are very soft and cooked all the way through. This hummus is so fluffy and easy to blend because we use some of the liquid from the can of chickpeas (aka aquafaba) which becomes really airy when blended making the hummus have a softer whipped texture. I also use a bit more tahini to balance out the flavor of the beets and make the hummus extra savory. 

This recipe takes only slightly more effort then having hummus on toast. The portobello mushrooms are wiped clean, coated in a simple marinade, and then roasted for 10 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and stuff with hummus, then roast for another 10 minutes, remove from the oven and garnish with whichever toppings you like. 

I hope you enjoy the recipe! 


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I used boiled beets so the color of the hummus before it was baked was a light pink color which darkened to hot pink in the oven. If you use roasted beets, the color will be even more vibrant, and will turn dark red when roasted. 

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Mashed Potato & Sauerkraut Casserole [Vegan, Oil-Free]

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This mashed potato & sauerkraut casserole is one of my favorite vegan comfort food recipes. With a juicy layer of quality sauerkraut on the bottom, a layer of fluffy vegan-cheezy garlic mashed potatoes in the middle, and crispy herbed breadcrumbs on top, this sauerkraut packs in all of the best flavors and textures into one package. 

When I think of casseroles, I expect something that's going to require a lot of preparation, but this casserole is so simple! Especially if you don't enjoy chopping lots of different ingredients, because all you have to chop in this recipe is potatoes- and that's it! Mashed potatoes are actually really easy to make from scratch. I recommend russet potatoes because they are the best for mashing, once they're peeled, chopped and steamed, I mash them with a creamy garlic sauce that I whip up in the blender while the potatoes are boiling. Then I place a layer of sauerkraut in the bottom of a baking dish, top it with the mashed potatoes and sprinkle herbed breadcrumbs over the top. 

I've had this idea for a potato and sauerkraut casserole for a few months now, ever since I made a potato and sauerkraut soup recipe and became completely obsessed with the combination. In the process of creating this recipe I've learned a lot about the nature of potatoes. My original version was a scalloped potato casserole, creamy au gratin style, with layers of tangy sauerkraut interlaced between thinly sliced potatoes. When I took it out of the oven, it looked beautiful, but unfortunately when I tried it the potatoes were rock hard and uncooked. I put it back in the oven and cooked it a while longer... and then even longer... but the potatoes refused to cook. I ended up looking online for why this might be happening and as it turns out, potatoes won't cook in acidic substances, such as the tangy sauerkraut that I love so much.

I felt a little defeated and decided to let the idea sit on the backburner for awhile. Eventually, while eating my favorite cheesy potato quesadilla recipe, inspiration struck again and I realized I can use a similar creamy mashed potato filling so that it's already cooked so it can't be disturbed by a layer of sauerkraut. So I tried it out with mashed potatoes and this time it actually worked! The recipe that I had been dreaming about for months was finally a hit and I've been making it over and over again ever since. 

Be sure to use a high quality sauerkraut such as my all time favorite brand, Bubbies. You can find the best sauerkrauts in the refrigerated section at your grocery store. Generally, the sauerkrauts that don't need to be refrigerated aren't as good as the ones that do require refrigeration.

This is a great recipe to make ahead of time or even in a larger portion because it keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days, though mine always tends to disappear very quickly. I hope you enjoy this recipe and that it becomes one of your favorites as well! 


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I ended up using three medium-sized russet potatoes for this recipe, which made about 4 cups, but since potatoes sizes vary I'd recommend measuring out 4 cups of cubed peeled potatoes.

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Place the potatoes in a pot and cover them with cold water until they're just submerged under the water. Place the pot over medium-high heat to bring to a boil. As soon as the potatoes start to come to a rolling boil, set a timer for 7 minutes and turn the heat down to medium. After the time has passed check to make sure the potato chunks are fork tender and then drain the water out of the pot and then return the potatoes to the same pot. 

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Make the creamy garlic sauce in the blender either while the potatoes are boiling or right after by combining all of the sauce ingredients in the blender until smooth. 

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Add the creamy garlic sauce to your steamed potatoes in the pot along with some chopped chives and then mash until well combined. 

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Assemble the casserole in your dish by starting with an even layer of sauerkraut, followed by a layer of mashed potatoes, and then quickly mix together your breadcrumbs and herbs and sprinkle them over the top. I've never had any issues with the sauerkraut sticking to the bottom of the baking pan, so I don't bother greasing the pan first. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from oven, cool for 10 minutes, and then serve. 

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Pumpkin Hot Cocoa [Sugar-Free, Low-Fat, Vegan]

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There's nothing better on a cold day than a thick and creamy cup of hot chocolate. As a kid, I specifically remember having two different types. There was the powdered one that came in a pouch with tiny dehydrated mini marshmallows that always came out watery and lumpy no matter how much you stirred, and then there was the traditional kind of hot chocolate that was so heavy and thick that I could hardly ever finish a whole cup. I set out to replicate the more traditional thicker one, but in a way that makes it healthy enough to drink every day.

For me, this means no sugar and no heavy coconut cream. To make this beverage sweet without sugar, I used soft dates which add the perfect amount of sweet caramel flavor in an unrefined whole food package.

The magical thickening ingredient in this recipe is canned pumpkin puree. Not only does pumpkin make this beverage extra creamy, but it also has loads of fiber and nutrients. This makes for a wonderfully creamy and smooth texture without having to use as many heavy, high-fat ingredients. 

To make this hot chocolate extra rich I sometimes add just a teaspoon of nut butter. It isn't really necessary at all, though I do find it helps to cover up the earthy flavor of the ashwagandha root powder which I've been adding in lately, but you totally can skip that ingredient if you don't have it/don't want it. 

I've never been one to buy into the hype around "superfoods" or ayurvedic herbs and supplements, but I decided to try ashwagandha when I heard about its ability to balance hormones. There's just not enough research to say for sure that it actually does anything, but as someone who has been on and off hormonal contraceptives many times throughout my early 20s, I decided to give it a try and see for myself if I notice any differences. I'll report back if I do! 

This hot chocolate becomes so frothy from the blending process that it almost reminds me of a latte, but with much less effort than actually frothing and steaming the milk. It's as easy as throwing everything in a blender and pressing a button. I usually heat it up in a mug in the microwave to save dishes, but if you prefer to use the stovetop to heat it up that's definitely another good option. 

For an extra-decadent dessert version, I like to top it off with some vegan whipped cream (the kind I use is made from rice milk) and an extra pinch of cinnamon. Even without the whip, it's still such a delicious cozy drink on its own. It's a deliciously healthy and nutrient-rich way to warm up and relax on a cold wintery day. 

Recipe video & written recipe below!