BLT Zoodle Salad

This is a super simplified BLT, in all of its glory, with all the nutritive qualities you'd want and none of the bad stuff! We've got coconut bacon, fresh ripe tomatoes, and the spiralized zucchini stands in for the lettuce. Super easy to put together, incredibly tasty and filling. Just make sure you have enough coconut bacon on hand, as you'll want to make this again and again!

1 zucchini, spiralized

1 tomato, chopped

1/4 cup sliced red onions

drizzle of olive oil

drizzle of raw apple cider vinegar

sea salt and crushed black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons coconut bacon (recipe found here)

Combine zucchini, tomato, onion, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper together and taste for seasoning. Serve with a  sprinkle of coconut bacon on top and devour. 

Jackfruit Pulled Pork

Maybe you've heard of this new phenomenon involving jackfruit, imbibing it in glorious barbecue sauce, on a whole wheat bun with some creamy and crunchy cole slaw.... I wanted to take a stab at it, but there were so many recipes to use and I didn't want to be disappointed, so I went with one of the best online chefs around: Minimalist Baker. You can find her recipe here. 

These are some reflections on making the pulled pork that I thought might be helpful....In essence, you pop open the can, rinse the jackfruit pieces, sprinkle them in spices Minimalist Baker recommends, sauté them in some oil to brown, add in the barbecue sauce and simmer for about 20 minutes. Pull the fibers apart with two forks and Voila...vegan barbecue pulled pork that not only tastes but looks like the real thing. Easy peasy. 

Since I had bought 6 cans of jackfruit, I felt like I could experiment a little bit. When you first pull out the jackfruit from the brine, it looks almost like pineapple triangles, with a soft outside and a harder inner core. Minimalist Baker suggests that you cut that core out and only use the soft shred-like outside of the fruit. I did this the first time and certainly it was very easy to use a fork to separate all the fine fibers so it looked like legitimate pork, but I wasn't as keen on having to throw out all of those little hard triangles...I thought maybe there could be a better way?

Second time through the recipe, I cut the hard bits off, and added them to the pot (and they were hard to chew). So finally, I realized why she mentioned to throw them out ~ it required effort to chew! 

Third time I made the pulled pork was perfect: I sliced off the hard bits but then sliced them super small so they were easier to chew. Nothing was discarded, and the pulled pork came out great. Highly recommend this version!

I really enjoyed having leftover pulled pork salads too (I like them even better on a roll)...super filling, with veggies, rice, and avocado. 

Sour Cherry Berry Breakfast Bowl

Recently, I was gifted the most beautiful sour cherries by my friend Carolyn, who is also a chef herself (check out her site here!). She mentioned she turned around for a minute, and her kids ended up harvesting 13 pounds in no time, which makes me the lucky one...since she ended up sharing with me. 

Little did she know that sour cherries are very dear to my heart. They are very popular in Romania and I remember growing up eating them every summer...sometimes, picking them as a little girl, from my grandmother's cherry infused liquor (I ended up just fine, never got drunk, I promise), in glorious vanilla pound cakes, or straight from the tree (and everyone seemed to have one). But in all of these, I ended up isolating the cherries, dismissing anything that was around them, and just enjoying their pure taste.

I have to admit, I had to force myself to make something with them. My desire was two eat them straight out of the bag, but I had to come up with something more interesting than that. Also the whole low-glycemic thing came into play...if I made pound cake, well, there's not enough stevia to make pound cake palatable. But here's what eventually did happen:

1. I made a berry crumble for my boys, and they loved it (not pictured) with the crumble topping from Minimalist Baker found here. (I also cut the sugar in 1/2 and mixed cherries with peaches, gooseberries, blueberries and strawberries...a potentially weird combo, but it rocked!)

2. I froze some for my sister (since she has to taste them, but she's returning from a trip in July), and gave some to my mother (who was beside herself, since she obviously spent more time in Romania than I have and she remembers sour cherries fondly). 

3. I made a yummy raw hazelnut vanilla torte with sour cherries and chickory flowers, which I'll be using in my wild edibles book (out whenever I get my act together...currently working on two others now). 

4. And last but not least, this sour cherry berry breakfast bowl. In love with the last sweet tart tastes of these beauties, and breakfast is complete. 

1/2 cup coconut yoghurt (plain or unsweetened vanilla)

1/2 cup almond milk, unsweetened

1/2 cup sour cherries, pitted

1/2 cup frozen strawberries

1 scoop chocolate classic protein powder (Sunwarrior, vegan, raw)

sprinkles of blueberries, unsweetened coconut flakes,  cacao nibs, and chia

Blend yoghurt, milk, berries and powder until smooth. Pour into your favorite bowl and decorate with blueberries, coconut, cacao and chia. Enjoy!

Low-Glycemic Mushroom Risotto with Peas & Rosemary

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Who doesn't love creamy, robust risotto with savory mushrooms, sweet peas, and herbs? Give me a plate! But if you've read my blog by now, you know I love low-glycemic foods so that I don't fall asleep after a meal. This meal is packed with fiber and that prized "umami" flavor from mushrooms (which literally means "deliciousness"), sweetness from caremelized onions and peas, a little kick from your favorite herbs.

The pasta itself is the brilliant part: it's low glycemic rice called "Miracle Rice", which is gluten free, soy free, and has zero calories. It's also made from....get this...konjac flour, which has also been used as a vegan gelatin, completely plant based, and doesn't spike blood sugar (but if you're checking blood sugar, be sure to check this one anyway as results are individual). Konjac is a root and has been used in Asian countries for over 2000 years! It's also high in soluble fiber, which we all need,  and they absorb the flavors of your dish (so on their own, they're pretty tasteless). 

Now, I want you to know that I'm not big on low-calorie foods in general, the processed kinds. I want food that's filling, whole, real and genuine. But I find that risotto rice is white, has a high carb content, and can spike blood sugars if you don't watch it. Who wants that? This is the best of both worlds: have your risotto and eat it too. 

You do need to read the package instructions to know how to prepare the rice. Initially when you open the bag, they smell a bit funky. That's totally normal, and the following procedure will take care of the smell. Rinse rice well, then soak in a bowl of boiling water for 2-4 minutes. Rinse again, and add in to the recipe below. 

1 tsp coconut oil

1/2 red onion, diced

a few pinches sea salt

2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms

1/3 cup peas

one package Miracle Rice, prepared according to package instructions

a few pinches rosemary, fresh or dried

black pepper, to taste

Heat a skillet and add in coconut oil, onion and salt. Sauté over medium heat until the onions sweat and release some water (sometimes I do this with the lid on to help it along). Add in the mushrooms and allow them to release their juices, a few minutes, covered, over medium heat. Once the mushrooms are soft, add in the peas, rice, and rosemary. Cover and heat through over medium low heat, a few minutes. Season with black pepper, and enjoy. 

Low-Glycemic Garlic Noodle Love Bowl

Noodle bowls are incredible; can I get an AMEN? Stir fry's are fun, warming, filling and nurturing, especially when you're cramped for time, hungry, and it's a cold, rainy night. I've found that I can't tolerate regular noodles in general, however, as they make me sleepy ~ probably from a carbohydrate coma. High in gluten, high in flour and carbs that spike your blood sugar, they can seriously impact your health if you have them often. They also impede digestion, as they're made of flour, and can often constipate sensitive digestive systems. 

Recently I've found a brand of noodles made from Konjac Flour named "Miracle Noodles": they're low glycemic, low in calories, gluten free, soy free, and made in the USA! Best part is that they're super delicious, easy to use, require minimal cooking time, are low glycemic and won't make you sleepy after you eat them. Since they're low calorie and high in fiber, many people use products made from Konjac to help with weight loss, and are also sometimes used as a vegan gelatin substitute. That said, you just need to stock up on these packages, which come in rice size, angel hair, and fettuccine. You can find them here in a bulk pack of 6. 

The noodles do have a funny smell at first, I won't lie. You need to rinse them well, place them in bowl and soak in boiling water for 2 minutes (I go to 5 just to make sure), drain, rinse again and by this point, the smell will be completely gone.

You really can use any veggies you'd like ~ make it fun, and use whatever is in your fridge and whatever is your favorite. 

Ingredients:

1 tsp coconut oil

2 pinches of sea salt

1 clove garlic, sliced thin

1/2 cup sliced shitake mushrooms

1 cup sliced broccoli

1 small bunch thin asparagus, woody ends cut off, and sliced into 1 inch pieces

3 scallions, sliced in 1 inch pieces

2/3 cup of 1 package Miracle Noodles, Angel hair, rinsed well, soaked in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, and drained

2/3 cup Coconut Aminos Garlic Sauce

1 tsp white sesame seeds

a drizzle of your favorite hot sauce (I love Ninja Squirrel)

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the coconut oil and melt. Add in the garlic & the sea salt, and sauté for one minute to release the flavors. Add in the mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus, and scallions and sauté another 3 minutes or so, stirring often to prevent sticking, until the veggies turn bright green. Add in the sauce and noodles, cover and turn down to medium heat just until heated through, about 5 more minutes. Place in two bowls, sprinkle with the sesame seeds, and a drizzle of your favorite hot sauce. Makes two servings.

NOTE: One time when I didn't have the garlic sauce on hand, I actually used a little bit of vegan Worcestershire sauce and some vegan hoisin Sauce and it came out really tangy, dark, rich and delicious. Feel free to experiment. 

Leek & Dill Soup

From the start, I have to state that this is my Romanian Aunt Anca's recipe and I fell in love with it from first taste. It's low in fat, full of fiber and vegetables, surprisingly sweet and savory at the same time, and absolutley delicious. This also fits really well in the "easy peasy" department as you don't have to babysit it much and it practically makes itself.

2 leeks, white part and a little of green, cleaned and chopped fine

1/2 zucchini, cubed (optional)

handful of peas

water to cover

1/4 cup chopped dill, saved for the end

Combine leeks, zucchini and peas and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. You can blend 1/2 of it with an immersion blender until smooth, or leave it as is, chunky. Add in the dill, and season to taste with salt & pepper. 

You can easily add anything else to this soup you'd like: a potato, carrots, celery, etc. Enjoy and experiment. 

Fresh Spring Rolls with Parsley Dipping Sauce

Right before a frost a few weeks ago, my husband and I were able to harvest bowls and bowls of spring mix, kale, parsley, cilantro and herbs. We lived off of those greens and I was happy that I had FREE salad for about 10 days (somehow it kept much better than the greens bought in a store! Probably since it wasn't shipped!).

I easily harvested about 5 cups of parsley and had to get to work, creating something with these amazing rich-green leaves. I found this recipe (which is for a dressing) and adapted it a bit to create an amazingly emerald green dipping sauce that I dunk practically everything into! I'd imagine you can do the same thing with cilantro leaves as well for an extra special dressing. If you find wild edibles such as chickweed or nettles, or a mixture...even better...

Be sure to not over-blend: herbs get bitter the more they're processed. 

2 cups parsley leaves, tightly packed

1 generous clove of garlic

1/2 cup mixed oils (I used flax seed oil and unfiltered cold pressed olive oil)

juice from 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

sea salt and pepper (adjust to taste)

Blend all ingredients together in a high-speed blender. You can definitely use this as a dressing but I found it was pretty thick, like a dip....I served them with fresh spring rolls, which made the perfect lunch. I filled brown-rice wrappers with red peppers, spring mix (from our garden), and avocado, and dug right in! Hope you enjoy these as much as I did. 

Spring Asparagus Thai Bisque

This past spring has been interesting...hot (as in 70 degrees) and then it's snowing, mix 30's, then hot again, cold again. I can't really keep up, except that it's been warm enough for me to get inspired over seeds, gardening and growing healthy green food. I'll take the warm weather speckled in the cold if it means I can get to gardening sooner.  

Spring comes with its own bounty: sprouts, greens, and one of my favorites, asparagus. Buying asparagus in the spring (try growing it too!) is completely different than any other time of the year since it's at its peak, fresh, a little sweet and very flavorful. 

I knew I wanted something light: loads of veggies in a coconut broth, but something all the while spicy and warming, so I paired the veggies with some red curry paste. This creamy, slightly spicy bisque is a balanced marriage of both light and warming that will soothe your bones on chilly spring evenings while giving you the best of the season's produce.

Ingredients:

1 tsp coconut oil

1 yellow or red onion, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

1 bunch thin asparagus, chopped (be sure to discard the woody bottoms)

1/2 cup coconut cream (I prefer the thicker part of the Trader Joe's Coconut Milk)

1 heaping tablespoon Red Curry Paste (I like this one

In a medium heavy bottomed stock pot, melt the coconut oil and sauté the onions on medium heat, until translucent. Add in the zucchini and asparagus, and cover with about 1 inch of water. Add in the coconut cream and bring to a boil, then let simmer half-covered about 25 minutes (until all the veggies soften). Add in the red curry paste, season with salt to taste, and then using an immersion blender, blend until semi-smooth (I like it a little bit chunky). Feel free to give it a finishing touch of red pepper flakes and crushed black pepper. Enjoy! 

Raw Vegan Fudge In A Jar

This was a vamp off a frosting recipe that inspired me, I tweaked and then refrigerated and then voila - it hardened into fudge. I went with it. Happy little accident, and Bob Ross would be proud. 

It couldn't be easier.  It's low-glycemic (I used stevia), loaded with healthy coconut fats, high in antioxidants from the cacao powder (or carob if you choose to use that), and just plain delicious. Depending on whether or not you actually like the flavor of coconut manna, you can opt for 1/2 coconut mana and maybe 1/2 melted cacao butter. More chocolate flavor, less coconut. Either way. Just make it, love it, and enjoy. Honestly, I have this covered in plastic in the fridge and eat about a tablespoon at a time with some fruit and it really hits the spot when I want some chocolate. It also keeps well for about 5 or 6 days, so it's perfect in that regard, that you don't really have to think about dessert: it's already waiting for you!

1/2 cup softened coconut manna/butter (do not use coconut oil though)

       (You can also do 1/2 and 1/2 with melted cacao butter)

1/2 cup hot water

1 dropper full hazelnut stevia

1 tsp hazelnut extract

2 tablespoons cacoa powder

1/2 tsp reishi, maca, maqui, or other medicinal powder (Optional but fun)

pinch sea salt

Blend ingredients in a mini personal blender, pour into a ball jar, cover and refrigerate. After a few hours, the coconut will harden and turn into a soft fudge: hard enough to spoon up and devour! You can also change this up and add in some cinnamon, nutmeg, go crazy...make it your own. Enjoy! 

Sunflower Sprouts

I absolutely love growing my own sprouts. They're very cost effective, easy (they grow on their own with little supervision), they give you an indoor gardening when you don't have the outside space, and they provide unparalleled nutrition. They are the epitome of nutrition, in fact, loaded with fiber, antioxidants, chlorophyll, protein, and abilities to support the body through detoxification. In many instances, they are exponentially more nutritious than their grown counterparts (for example, broccoli sprouts contain more nutrition than broccoli itself!)

Some sprouts are grow in ball jars, need to be rinsed, and then they develop tails in about 3 days. More on those later, article coming.

These particular sprouts, along with wheatgrass, grow in dirt. The benefit of these is that there's very little chance of mold, at least in my experience. And they require minimal babysitting. 

1/2 cup sunflower seeds, organic, soaked overnight

2 cafeteria trays

enough organic soil to fill one cafeteria tray

something heavy, like a 1 pound weight or a plate

a sprayer with water, and extra water

First, take one of the trays, and pour the dirt inside. Brush it to the edges, leaving 1 inch of space before you hit the edge (this helps water pool). Sprinkle the sunflower seeds on top. Then using a slow stream of water, drizzle some water over top of the sunflower seeds in long lines. Turn the tray once and do it again (creating a criss cross pattern). If there's extra water in the 1 inch edge, then pour that out. Cover with the second cafeteria tray, and put a weight on top. Leave it away from sunlight, but indirect sunlight is ok. Wait about 3-4 days until the sprouts themselves push up the tray (and they will!) Next, spray the emerging sprouts with water daily until they reach about 3 inches, trim, and enjoy! 

My Every Morning Protein Smoothie

I know how hard it is to get a proper breakfast. We're all running around, dazed by the alarm and lack of sun, early risers greeting the day with...what's that? A cup of coffee? A glazed donut? Those days are long gone for me, since I know how important it is to set yourself up for the day. But believe me, I lived there for many years.

According to my teacher Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo's research, enjoying protein in the morning can help diminish any later-day cravings for sweets and carbs. I've seen this happen in my life, where in the past, I may have started out with starches or carbohydrates, then I get a quick sugar spike, then I need something again after two hours since my sugars are down...the dreaded rollercoaster! Ideally, your breakfast should have enough protein, greens, & healthy fats to keep you satisfied for hours. Creating something like this isn't that likely if you're rushing out the door and you just need a quick fix. 

This is why I created this smoothie. It takes under 3 minutes to make, is loaded with all the necessary nutrients I need to start my day right, is gluten free, vegan, loaded with bio-available protein, and tastes like a milkshake! Emphasis on the last part. 

I also love this new indian spice box which I bought to assemble all my necessary powders, my add ins: from the top right, going clockwise we have: spirulina, moringa, nigella seeds (I take a tsp and swallow with some smoothie, not blended in), maca, a supplement I take for PCOS, dehydrated low-glycemic berry powder (which I only put in when I'm out of raspberries) and in the middle we have Green Vibrance powder. Guess what? By the time 8:00 am hits, I have this mega smoothie packed with whatever add in's I want for the day (and they're not always the same, by the way).

You can also play with the recipe by adding in some other things, like aloe vera, maybe some E3Live, and even take my vitamin D supplement. I make it work for me, rather than the other way around. Keep it fun but most of all, keep it simple.

The toppings are great also. Why? To slow you down. The only glycemic food here are the raspberries (and by testing them, I know I tolerate them well). But since they're blended and quicker to digest this way, I still like to take my time and keep myself from gulping everything down. Having something to chew really helps you slow down and enjoy your smoothie, starts the digestive process in the mouth, and offers more fiber as well. Also, you can add in any toppings you like (chia is also a good one). 

Ingredients:

2 cups water

1 scoop Sunwarrior Chocolate Protein Powder

3/4 teaspoon each of your favorite add ins (today I included everything but the berry powder)

1/3 cup frozen raspberries

toppings: anything you like, like cacao nibs, unsweetened organic coconut and pumpkin seeds, chia, bee pollen, etc.

Low-Glycemic Lime Mint Smoothie

I feel in love with this smoothie when I first saw this video, titled "Limey Love Shake" by Chef Shelley of PH Miracle. It's literally the perfect smoothie: only veggies, lime and stevia as the sweeter, and it's so cool and refreshing from the mint and ice! It's literally a dream, the first time I had it. I alternate the greens, but for the most part, have something like this almost every other day. 

I also came across Chef Shelley through the writings of her husband Dr. Young of the PH Miracle. They've done amazing work together to heal acidic states in the body through raw, alkaline foods. I noticed a huge difference when I took their advice and added green powders to most of the water I was drinking through the day, and incorporating this smoothie into my diet. 

Of course, I can never do the same recipe exactly the same way: I decided to alter the recipe a bit in my own way, based on my tastes. Here's my take on the "Limey Love Shake":

1 long english cucumber, sliced

1 large handful of kale, torn

2 limes, peeled

2 full droppers of liquid stevia

1 large handful mint (I put in about a cup)

1 full tray of ice

1/2 avocado

Toppings: cacao nibs and/or unsweetened coconut shreds, optional. 

Blend the cucumber, kale, limes, stevia and mint with enough water to cover ingredients about halfway. Add in the ice and the avocado last, and give it a fast whirl (you don't want to blend the avocado too much as it can turn foamy.) Top with toppings, if using, and enjoy! 

 

 

Light Breakfast Bowls

Breakfast is a funny thing. Sometimes I wake up and don't have to eat until 11:00 am. Sometimes I'm ravenous at 6:30 am. Most of the time, I keep it simple and just have a satisfying protein smoothie, but there are some days when I want something light and refreshing.

These are two of my signature bowls that I've made over and over and they fit the bill perfectly. The first is tart, sweet, and just the right thing when I need something to hold me over, but I'm not starving. The second is a little more substantial and holds me over for longer...but it still follows the same formula. Some fruit and almonds. Love the both and hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Interestingly enough, they're sweet enough (but low-glycemic) to pass for a dessert. 

GRAPEFRUIT ALMOND BREAKFAST BOWL:

1 grapefruit, cut in half, flesh scooped out

1 banana, sliced

a handful of pumpkin seeds.

Combine ingredients and enjoy.

 

COCONUT YOGHURT BLUEBERRY BOWL

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut yoghurt

1/2 cup blueberries

a handful of slivered almonds

Combine ingredients and enjoy.

 

Enjoy! And let me know what you're having for breakfast! 

Fresh Coconut Acai Love Bowl

You've probably seen the glorious photos of Acai Bowls everywhere...on instagram, Facebook, even in some healthy restaurants, made at home by those of us who want to eat healthy. Why do we need ONE more, you ask? Well, this one is loaded with good healthy fats (that keep you satisfied, help your hormones, etc.), and it's also low-glycemic ~ that's the important part! Many of our common Acai Bowls contain sweeteners and are loaded with sweet fruit. While this works for some people, I'd like to make the sugar down a bit and increase the healthy fats. You'll enjoy this delicious bowl of superfood goodness, giving you energy while keeping you away from the blood sugar rollercoaster! 

Acai is a berry that's touted as a superfood, containing fiber, heart-healthy nutrients, Vitamin C, healthy fats, antioxidants and capacities to help us detox (Because the benefits are just SO HUGE and too long to list in this post, here are two super useful and fun articles to read to further your knowledge on Acai : HERE and HERE).  But the bottom line is: Acai berries are delicious, and that's reason enough for us to eat them! Eat more of the good and less of the bad. This fiber-rich antioxidant bowl works really well as a morning breakfast or a mid-afternoon pick me up. 

Also, I've recently ordered fresh frozen coconut meat from Exotic Superfoods in hopes of making low-sugar raw desserts, but I haven't even gotten to that part yet ~ I've just been eating it straight out of the bag and it's absolutely delicious! I did buy the case, which can get expensive, but cutting into regular young thai coconuts and not knowing if they're fresh or not, sprayed with formaldehyde to keep the outside white, or low-yielding, then you have to clean the meat....It's a lot of work! I figured this saves me time, hassle, it's all clean, and I can taste the purity. 

Ingredients:

One packet of unsweetened Acai Berry Puree, defrosted (I like the Sambazon brand)

a few drops liquid stevia 

slivered almonds

blueberries

1/2 cup fresh raw coconut meat, sliced

chia seeds

bee pollen

In a bowl, pour out the Acai puree and stir in a few drops of the stevia. Start with three and taste as you go, making it sweet enough for you. Add in the rest of the ingredients, and enjoy. 



Life Changing Cashew Ranch Dressing

When I first started eating vegan (as with many people, you'll find) the hardest thing to give up was anything creamy, ooey gooey, cheesy, buttery, anything from the dairy department. Especially in the summer, when you don't necessarily want a hot grilled cheese (actually, anything hot for that matter), but rather, a cooling salad with something extra special on top: like ranch dressing.  Is there anything more perfect than cool ranch with a hint of onion or garlic over, well, anything: greens, veggies, cardboard? It can make anything taste out of this world.

While there are so many vegan ranch dressings out there (some use macadamia nuts, some pine nuts, some a mixture of sorts, add onion, don't add onion, add basil, don't add basil, salt, no salt, sheesh...), the variety and options can give you a headache, for real. 

So I wanted a recipe I can easily remember (since, as some of you know, I never duplicate the same recipe twice and in fact, my husband asks if I can make "that one thing you made the other day" and I frown since, well, I just can't remember what I put in it, so I make another batch and it comes out completely different). I'm that girl. The one who perpetually reinvents her recipes.

Fret no more! This one is the only cashew ranch recipe you'll ever need, and the one you'll remember since: (1) it's life changing and (2) its' all about 1 ~ 1 ~ 1 ~ 1. That's easy.

The "one of everything" idea actually came from my romanian mother and grandmothers, who, when I was a child told me many times: don't follow a recipe. Just do one handful of this, one handful of that. It caught on. 

So...one of everything:

1 cup cashews, soaked (measured before you soak them) and drained

1 cup water

1 tsp salt

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 handful dill (yes, hand sizes are different, but it's about 1/2 cup loose dill)

Combine cashews, water, salt and powders in a vitamix and blend until really creamy. Chop the dill loosely, add to the mix, and just PULSE to incorporate. Enjoy. 

This is literlaly, life changing. I've had it all week, it gets better as it sits, and is just a dreamy, creamy, loveliness you can't help...but....remmeber :) 

Peace and love, y'all!

 

Zippy Lentil & Tomato Salad

When you’re looking for lean & mean plant-based protein, lentil is one of the top winners in my book. It’s so versatile! You can make a stew, a soup, a “mash”, burgers, and today, even a cold salad to satisfy your craving palate! I’m all about “easy cooking” these days, especially that the weather has warmed up, I want to be in the kitchen less and less and more out in the garden, harvesting herbs, veggies, and eating easily assembled meals. More time playing, less time working, I say!

These lentils take about 25 minutes to cook, and you have an easy addition to your meals for about 5 days ~ how easy is that?

You can use green or red lentils, but they’ll turn soupy, so my “go to” for this dish are either French/puy lentils or black lentils. Both retain their shape really well, and are a delicious chewy texture you’ll love. Use it with any veggies that are in season, herbs of your choice, and you’ve got a meal you can make in minutes!

Ingredients:

1 cup black or puy lentils, rinsed, looked over, and boiled with plenty of water until done (about 25 minutes or so).  Drain, set aside and cool.

1 chopped tomato

¼ cup chopped onion

Dressing:

1 tsp your favorite mustard

1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar

Pinch sea salt

As much black pepper as you can tolerate

In a bowl, combine dressing ingredients and mix up with a fork. Add in about ½ cup of your cooked lentils and stir well. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed. Add in the tomato and onion, mix slightly, and enjoy. 

Tip: This salad is also very good, by the way, with ready made hot lentils also.

Mama's Green Beans

We all know that mama knows best, but honestly, I think MY mama knows best...she's offered wholesome, clean eating and recipes from the time I was a little tot, and I attribute my health journey to my upbringing. These green beans are her own recipe, and are a favorite in our household. No matter how often I make it, I swear hers still tastes the best. 

Best part is that these are hearty, low-glycemic, full of fiber, and super easy to make. Also, how sweet is this? She gave me the following recipe, and at the end, she wrote "...and love is a must". Of course it is. That's why hers are the best. 

3 large handfuls of green beans, cleaned (just the stem end), washed, broken in 2

1 yellow onion, chopped fine

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1/2 tsp sea salt (or per your palate)

One 8oz organic tomato sauce (mom likes the thin kind but you can use crushed, about 1 cup)

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Heat a heavy pot (preferably cast iron) over low heat. Add the oil, onion and salt and stir. Cover and let the mixture soften, about 5 minutes or so. Add in the beans and water. Add a little black pepper, and cover. Cook on medium until done (bite one and test it). Then add in the tomato sauce. At the end, finish with the parsley.....And love is a must.

The "Happy Life Challenge"

Happy New Year, Everyone!  

I'd like to welcome you to a New Year Challenge. But first, I'd like to start with a short story of a happy little accident....I created this little photo (see above) and meant to say "Happy New Year...Detox Your Life Challenge", because well, this whole challenge is about detoxing your life. But it reads "Happy Life Challenge" in bigger bolder wording. I was frustrated at first, seeing how things didn't line up the way I wanted them to, and then I thought..."wow, that's actually perfect". So I'm leaving it right there. 

So this New Year ~ Detox Your Life Challenge....It really is about having a happy life. It's not your typical challenge in many ways, and you'll read why in just a second...but it's based on what I've personally gone through this past year that has helped me in tremendous ways, and has left me a happier person. I hope that in sharing what I've learned can support you in your journey also.

Nope, this is not your typical challenge or detox. First, most challenges are boxed in, and you have to fit the mould. They're timed and goal specific. Most challenges begin with a start date. And an end date. And they're monumental in some way like "juice for 30 days" or "no meat, no sugar, no flour, no gluten, no grains, no juice, no soda, no angry people in your life, no make-up for the week, no swearing"...well, you get the drift. I'm not making fun of them ~ in fact, I have an October Salad Challenge and about two years ago, I did 30 days of green juice and it was amazing. Adding a salad to your meals once a day isn't anything monumental, I don't think...but in general, most challenges are very rigid and are encapsulated in a time box...what do you do when it's over? Actually, nobody talks about the "post-challenge" part, which in my opinion, is the most important part. What if you falter mid-way? I wanted something different.  I wanted to create a detox challenge that is digestible, in little bites, which would lead us to joy. Like, as in "Little Bites of Joy". This is what it's all about.  I'm proposing here is the following....

1. No date structure.....this is only set up as a January challenge because there will be a prize give away at the end (details below). But in reality, there is no actual end date to the challenge ~ or even start date for that matter (in fact, you can begin doing this today if you wanted to....read more below). Why? Most people give up on their resolutions by February, and then the whole year is shot. Doesn't that just sound crazy? But is health really just a 21-day bandaid, or is it a lifestyle? So many people say they want to "get back on track" (I've said it too)... but what does that really mean? Instead of fixing, failing, fixing, failing, how about we just move in the direction of "better than" vs. "less than" (this is my husband's quote, not mine, and sadly can't take credit for it - but it's a wise one). So, no, this isn't for a month. This challenge is supposed to linger and last as long as you need it. What I'm proposing is a shift in perspective, created by micro-adjustments on a daily basis, and you can take as much time as you need. But yes, technically, this challenge does have a prize, and the winners are announced at the end of the month. That's the only time element in here. 

2. It's about the big picture: this detox is not one-thing specific. It's a comprehensive approach. It's not just about food (did you think it was?). It's about decluttering. Because as I always say, I can't talk to you about cutting back on sugar when you feel there's no sweetness in life. This is about looking at your emotions and the psychology of eating. And your plate size. And your sleep, relationships, creativity, job, household products, chemicals, deodorant, life purpose, toxic relationships. And about mindfulness. Did I miss anything? Actually, yes, a lot. I'll address many things that I believe can assist us in living healthier lives, with one thing in common: simplicity. 

It's about simplifying your life.

I'd like to return to a simpler way of eating, breathing, living, sleeping, cleaning, and relating to people.  So how can you simplify your life so that you only focus on what matters, and you life the healthiest life (mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually) that you possibly can? I'll try to pick this question apart in the coming month and share with you a buffet of tips and tricks that have helped me simplify my life, and as a result, have helped make me a happier person. 

3. Rules: there really are none. Isn't that great? No homework. ...you pick which tips resonate with you and which don't. It's that easy. But what I do ask is that you try to give all or most of these tips a shot. Mull the question over. Do the inner work. These are all life-changing. Also, in order to interact and have community, and to see that you're an actual participant in the challenge (and not a robot)...

Here's what ya gotta do....

  • Check in to the Little Bites Instagram feed (meaning follow) and FB page (meaning like it) and stay tuned on a daily basis. This is where I'll check in daily with you. Offer some tips, questions, tidbits to get you thinking in a different way. 
  • If you decide to follow through on a tip, answer a question, post your response, or anything else, just tag #LittleBitesOfJoy or (@LittleBitesOfJoy on Instagram) so I can see it. 
  • At the end of the month, the two people with the most introspective answers, pictures, answers to questions, what have you...will win a special prize. Which will be revealed at a later time. Since it's not about the prize, right? It's about doing inner work. (But make sure you tag since if you don't, I won't be able to find you). 

Phieu. 

That's it. 

So when do we start? How about right now?

You might say, you could use a week to prep for this challenge, but that's relying on the idea that you need something outside of yourself to get yourself ready. Or you need more time. In actuality, you don't need anything more than what you already have. You come fully equipped to start right now. Just show up as you are. Check in to Instagram or FB and follow along. I'll start the write ups January 3rd. 

Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup

This is probably one of my favorite go-to soups. In addition to eating high-raw in teh winter time, I really do enjoy a hot bowl of broth or soup to warm me up, and in some instances, really delicious creamy comfort food. This is one of the creamiest silkiest soups you'll find without all of the added guilt of cream, milk or butter! And it couldn't be simpler.

1/2 onion, fine dice

1 box mini bella mushrooms, sliced

1 box shitakes, sliced

1 small zucchini (optional), diced

cashew milk made with: 1/2 cup raw cashews blended with 4 cups water (do not strain)

You can make this an oil-free dish by simply sauteeing the onion, zucchini and mushrooms in a bit of broth or water until soft (or you can use a little bit of olive oil). Cook on low, covered, until the mushrooms release all of their juices and they're tender. Add in the cashew milk, and bring to a simmer to heat through. That's it - you're done! 

 

October is "Salad A Day" Month

We had so much fun last October 2015 doing this all together, that we're doing it again! 

October is "Salad A Day" month! Challenge starts on Mon, Oct 3rd and runs through Monday, October 31st!

Ok, I pretty much made that title up. The truth is that I think every month should be "salad a day" month, and October is coming up, and what better way to start? Fall is the perfect time to begin a new habit and invest in some much-needed self care! Summer tends to be all over the place with parties, vacations, places to go, people to see...Fall offers us the opportunity to fall into a new and possibly life-changing routine! And a salad a day will be one of the easiest habits to implement with some of the greatest rewards.  

Greens are at the top of the nutritional food pyramid, and sadly most of us don't get enough ~ kale, collards, romaine, arugula, spinach, even herbs like parsley, cilantro. The darker the green, the better for us and more cancer-fighting phytonutrients. In fact, the more chlorophyl, phytonutrients, fiber and veggie-based vitamins we can get, we can expect better elimination, improved skin, more natural energy, calmer nervous systems, and by default, a slimming waistline. You may even experience a better attitude, better body odor {yes! chlorophyl acts like an internal deodorant}, better sleep, and just overall rockstar status! So who's in?  

But we all know that salads can be just, meh. It really takes a fun add-ins, dressings, textures, colors, and a variety of healthy veggies to doctor them up. If you're interested in new recipes, please consider purchasing our latest Salad Ebook, volume 1! It's 14 recipes to ignite your love for salads (and it's on sale here)!

So what are the guidelines of this challenge?

1. Make a salad every day and shout for joy when you're eating it. Well, internally. Your cells are doing just that. If you'd like some extra credit, include a green smoothie {greens and fruit} or even a blended soup {take those veggies and greens and blend them up with spices, garlic and a little avocado ~ yum!}. 
2. Visit & LIKE our Little Bites of Joy FB Page which will act as a platform for sharing tips, salads, dressings, photos, post questions, and start a dialogue with those working in this challenge together!  
3. Take inventory: collect data on weight, attitude, skin, sleep, overall mood, relationships, etc. At the end of the month, mark down how things have improved {since they will!}, and find ways on what has worked in case you'd like to continue. 
4. Inspire those around you to take on this healthy habit too {after they see how fabulous you look!}

And here are some tips for rocking this challenge:

1. As many colors as possible: a green salad is great, but add in some orange carrots, red or yellow peppers, green broccoli, even blueberries or white cabbage. Go crazy. It's ok, nobody's watching.

2. Alternate your greens: you're not getting AS much nutrition as you could be getting if you're having romaine day after day after day. Switch it up ~ spinach, kale, collards, arugula, red leaf, green leaf, baby lettuces, micro-greens & sprouts, escarole, the sky is the limit! Maybe buy three types, eat those throughout the week, then buy another three types and rotate.

3. Include a good fat, but not too much: you can easily add on olive oil, olives, avocado, nuts and seeds, and dressing...but basically you've got a "fat-fest". Many of our vitamins are fat soluble, which means we should be eating our greens with some kind of fat to fully absorb the nutrients, but try to stick to no more than two fats per salad. Love olives and avocado? Then make a no-oil dressing {there are many!} That sort of thing. 

4. Chew, chew, chew. Digestion starts in the mouth, so if you have some digestive issues, perhaps eat in a quiet space {without your laptop or phone} and take time to chew each bite really well. And when you don't feel like chewing or don't have the time, you can even dump your salad into a vitamix and make a blended soup. It's actually ridiculously out of this world delicious and so much more fun when you don't have as much time to sit down to a salad. I've done it and sometimes you can too.  

5. Be prepared: You may want to think about creating your own mini-salad bar. One half hour on a sunday will set you up for the whole week if you just take a long lasagna-shaped pyrex pan and create little sections of cut up peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, etc. And serve yourself when the time comes and create a hassle-free habit to help yourself out when it comes time to eat. 

That's it! You ready to dig in? Here are some pics to feast your eyes on and enjoy the journey! We officially start Monday, October 3rd, 2015, after we all buy some weekend groceries. So keep the pictures coming on social media and reach out with any questions!

Kraut, olives, sprouts, avocado, peppers, onion, no dressing {just mash it all up!}

Kraut, olives, sprouts, avocado, peppers, onion, no dressing {just mash it all up!}

Romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers and dijon {recipe coming up in our next class!}

Romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers and dijon {recipe coming up in our next class!}

Carrots, heirloom tomatoes, romaine, seasoned sunflower seeds. 

Carrots, heirloom tomatoes, romaine, seasoned sunflower seeds. 

Raw vegan Taco salad with chipotle salsa fresca. Find the recipe HERE!

Raw vegan Taco salad with chipotle salsa fresca. Find the recipe HERE!

Chopped salad with pizza crackers and caesar dressing. 

Chopped salad with pizza crackers and caesar dressing.