Raw, Vegan Fudge Brownies With Cashew Cream Frosting!!

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I’ve recently been trolling the raw cooking youtube channels and came across this dessert. One thing that I love about raw desserts is that they are most likely gluten free, and quick/easy because there’s no baking involved! The brownie dough tastes like real brownie dough. I was shocked! And those medjool dates are a game changer when it comes to raw desserts. I am so surprised how sweet they are. They are like a treat all alone.

Also, the cashew cream frosting is sooooo delicious and this dessert feels, looks,  and tastes so decadent but has no added sugar, is all natural, vegan and gluten free. Try this recipe and be amazed! I could post the recipe here but the youtube video is so much better to watch and below it the recipe is written out for you. Also, check out this raw cooking channel. It’s filled with wonderful, easy recipes and the mother daughter duo is super cute : )

P.S. I bought my cacao powder here. It’s the best deal that I’ve found and you can add it to smoothies as well as using it for baking/raw dessert making.

 

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The Benefits of Buckwheat

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With a name like buckwheat it’s hard not to think that this product is related to wheat. But in truth,  it has no relation at all. Buckwheat is actually a fruit seed, who’s closest relative is rhubarb and sorrel….who would have thought? Lately we have been making buckwheat pancakes,  and just kind of assumed that they were healthier than regular wheat pancakes. Until we did some research, we didn’t realize how beneficial this food really is. There really are quite a few benefits of buckwheat but I’m just going to list several that stood out for me.

It’s gluten free! There is so much hype lately about benefits of going gluten free. Both of us tried going gluten free and discovered that, for us, the hype was true. We both felt lighter, healthier, less bloated, and just overall better.  So in our search to find healthier gluten free alternatives (especially for pancakes) buckwheat is king. There are many ways to incorporate it into your diet, but our favorite option is in pancake form!

Low glycemic index. Recent studies have shown that buckwheat may aid in helping manage diabetes. After reading the book “Wheat Belly” I was blown away to find out that a couple pieces of wheat bread can spike your blood sugar as much, or more than a snickers bar!? Buckwheat has a low GI and is a better alternative to bring those blood sugar levels down to normal.

Mood enhancer. Buckwheat contains tryptophan, which has been shown to improve your mood. Thus, making you a little bit happier. Who doesn’t want to eat something that is not also healthy but can lift your spirits as well!?

Its Chemical free!! Buckwheat grows so fast that farmers don’t have to use pesticides or herbicides. It can grow in very poor soil while also enhancing the soil quality.

Buckwheat sounds like a win win option for everyone, not just individuals who are trying to lead a gluten free lifestyle.

Top 5 Reasons to Juice!

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1.    It’s and easy way to get your greens. It is commonly known that most Americans do not meet their daily intake of vegetables and juicing is an easy way to meet those needs without all of the laborious work of cooking. Just throw a healthy amount of kale or spinach into your juice and you’re set for the day!

2.    Your skin will be GLOWING! Give it a little time but after you’ve consistently juiced for several weeks, your friends are going to be complimenting your skin and asking what’s your secret to looking great.

3.    It extends your life expediency. Studies have shown that nutrients in juice help keep your cells from dying ahead of their time, which, in return, allows them to benefit you a little bit longer.

4.    It helps restore pH balance! There has been an overwhelming amount of research lately that shows an acidic pH can lead to cancer. Normalizing your pH can help stop cancer in it’s tracks. Leafy greens and low sugary veggies will help balance your pH so if you still aren’t ready to completely change your diet yet at least you can start with incorporating a healthy juice to assist your body in that pH fight.

5.    You’ll feel much better. Who here doesn’t know that vegetables are good for you? The antioxidants and nutrients found in vegetables will have your body functioning better, you will wake up feeling more energized and your body will thank you for it. Everyone seems to want to consume more veggies and you’ll never have any regrets incorporating them into your diet!

Sweet Potato Tacos!

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These tacos are deelish. They got the seal of approval from Matt and, I think the star ingredient in these is the sweet potato. After the potato gets done baking, it has a nice golden crust on the outside with a soft sweet core. The mixture of sweet and spicy from the jalapenos and cilantro is a killer combo in my opinion. This recipe is just a taco base, you can really add anything to the sauté mixture (E.g. bell peppers, broccoli).

Ingredients:

1 Sweet Potato cubed into approx. 1in cubes

1 red onion

1 handful of cilantro

1 clove of garlic

Kale or a leafy green of your choice

2/3 cup of corn (canned or frozen)

1 can of black beans drained

canned sliced jalapenos (optional)

Salt and pepper

Paprika (optional)

Cayenne Pepper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss the cubed sweet potatoes in olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika and a couple dashes of cayenne pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes turning halfway through so the potatoes brown evenly.

While the potatoes are roasting dice your onion, garlic, and sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the corn and black beans. When everything is warmed, add your sweet potatoes to the mix. Warm corn tortillas in a sauté pan on low heat and then add the contents of your sauté mixture. Add sliced jalapenos and then the kale and cilantro as garnish. Enjoy. I’ve also made these tacos dirty, which means I add a little cheese and let it melt on the tortillas before adding the filling.

Vegan Garlic and Parsley Dip

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My coworker, Jenny, brought in this dip and let me try some. I was hooked! Apparently this is a family recipe and a go-to for her when trying to think of something to bring to or serve at parties because it’s so easy. When she told me how healthy and easy this dip was to make, I knew I had to feature it on this blog. This is a wonderful dip to bring to a potluck or for serving at parties. It’s vegan, gluten free, garlicky and delicious. Matt and I ate nearly the entire bowl in one sitting. P.S. it’s also really filling because the base is tofu. This dip is soo easy. Here’s how  you make it.

Ingredients:

Extra firm tofu drained and patted dry (we used a 15.5 oz package for our recipe)

Italian Parsley (fresh)

2-3 garlic cloves (add these to taste. You will need more if making a larger batch)

Spike Seasoning (we used the salt-free yellow bottle)

Vegenaise

Salt/pepper to taste

Directions:

In a food processor add the tofu, garlic cloves, and parsley. Blend until everything is incorporated. The mixture won’t be completely smooth. This is how you want it. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add in the spike seasoning, salt, pepper, and vegenaise to taste. Enjoy.

Also,  Jenny insisted that blue corn chips were essential with this dip and I agree. The blue corn chips make this dip even more special. I have never seen a dip with a tofu base before but after making this I was thinking this would make a wonderful sandwich spread in a veggie sandwich. You could also use a variation of this recipe as a egg salad substitute for egg salad sandwiches maybe some mustard, chives, red onions, curry and spike seasoning added to the tofu : ). Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.

Top 5 Reasons to eat Popcorn!

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First of all I’m not talking about the popcorn you get at the movie theatres with all of the butter on it. Secondly, certainly not GMO’d. But homemade popcorn with a little bit of nutritional yeast sprinkled on it can be a very healthy snack.

 

1. Popcorn is high in fiber. Most Americans, when it comes to fiber, only consume half of their daily intake. Fiber is known to help you stay regular and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

2. Popcorn is a good source of protein. Just 3 ounces of popcorn will provide you with 1/6 of your daily requirement.

3. Popcorn contains 0 sodium. For those of you out there who need to watch your sodium intake. You don’t have to think twice with this lovely snack!

4. Popcorn is a fat-free treat. As long as you don’t smother your popcorn with butter…this snack is completely fat-free!

5. Popcorn has no sugar. No low crashes when you indulge in this little treat. Need something to substitute that dessert cake for? Try a bowl of popcorn.

Simple Pleasure-Farmers Markets

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The farmer’s market is something that I look forward to every week. It has not only become a simple pleasure, but also a necessity for me; something that I rely on for procuring my weekly fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers. When you are gluten free and vegetarian, vegetables are a necessity! Reading “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan was the catalyst that began my diet transformation. In this book, he argues that how we eat determines, not only our health, but also how we want the world to be. The typical American eats at least 3 times/day and is therefore spending money on food at least 3 times per day, per person, on average. How we buy our food matters and the fact that we spend money on food daily gives us an enormous amount of power in determining how we want our food produced. The increase of gluten free options and organic selections are evidence that consumers have power to change the system and selection of food available. Michael Pollan explains that every dollar we spend as consumers counts a a vote for how we want the world to be. The more we spend money on organic produce, the more the industry will put into producing food organically. Simple supply and demand. The more we support local, organic farmers, the more likely these farmers are to stay in business. What we spend our money on matters!

Michael Pollan also argues that transparency is crucial in transforming the food industry. In a standard supermarket, the farmer is left out of the interaction, and thus transparency is impossible. Accountability is also much less likely to be present in the interaction between you and the corporate grocery store. However, when you take the middle man out and have a real face-to-face interaction with the farmer who grew the produce you’re buying, you can ask questions like “do you use pesticides on your produce” “how do I cook this squash”, “how do I know when a peach is ripe” “what is this odd looking edible plant” (because you will surely see produce at a farmer’s market that you’ve never seen in a grocery store before. You are able to give your money directly to the person/farm that grew your produce and they are able to put a face to their customers, increasing the farmer’s sense of accountability. At a farmers market, suddenly, food gets personal. It becomes an aesthetic, sensory, personal experience. You are able to smell the produce, speak to, and ask questions of the farmers, listen to the local blue grass band that plays live during the market, and give your money to the person who actually grows your produce. It’s romantic, idealistic, and reconnects you with the process of buying food for you and your family. This process is something that our culture has become disconnected with.

Matt and I have built relationships with some of the farmers. We have our favorite stands/farms and often, vendors will remember if we’ve missed the week before. We have learned how to cook new produce like acorn squash and how to tell if a peach is ripe thanks to the farmers sharing their knowledge with us. Also, it’s just a great place to get kick-ass deals! We can buy organic produce for half of what it would cost us at Whole Foods and have a good time while doing it. The produce is local, and therefore seasonal, picked when at its peak, and very high-quality. I couldn’t imagine buying my flowers anywhere else, and I feel good knowing that I am spending my money supporting a philosophy that I believe in! Often the markets will include ready-made food stands from local restaurants, or coffee. I love to get a bag of kettle corn for dessert or a cup of coffee at the morning markets.

Life is a process, so you may as well enjoy every part you can. My simple pleasure for the week is the farmers market because it allows me to get great deals, make my dollar stand for something that I believe in, and enjoy the process of buying fruit, herbs, veggies and flowers for the week.

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Heirloom Tomato and Basil Salad

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This salad is wonderfully simple and therefore must be made with high-quality ingredients. The heirloom tomatoes must be ripe. The olive oil must be extra virgin. The salt must be coarse kosher or sea, and the basil must be fresh. The good news is that this salad is soo simple. I made this for dinner tonight solo as Matt has a standing Tuesday night tradition to do dinner with a specific friend. For one serving (this was my entire meal) I used two large heirloom tomatoes and a handful of basil.

Ingredients:

heirloom tomatoes (2/person if an entire meal, less if using as an appetizer)

1 bunch of basil

extra virgen olive oil

coarse sea or kosher salt

Directions: Remove the stem and slice the tomatoes into thin rounds. Arrange around the plate to your personal aesthetic (I chose to use yellow and red heirlooms and to alternate them for visual interest when plating). Next, chiffonade the basil. This is key as basil can bruise easily and therefore must be cut properly. If you don’t know how to chiffonade check out this short youtube video. Finally sprinkle the ribbons of basil atop the tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt. Done. So easy, but this is really a delicious combo! One thing that I love about this salad is how beautiful it looks on a plate. I also love how simple it is! When I was in Italy, the food was amazing, and amazingly simple. The key with simple food is that you must use high quality ingredients and therefore simple cooking is really just a celebration of the ingredients you choose to use. If you haven’t had a fresh, organic heirloom tomato, you must! These tomatoes are NOTHING like the tomatoes you buy at Safeway. They are bursting with flavor, sweet, and very special. They are also one of the most beautiful pieces of produce at the farmer’s market when they are in season and I believe that we eat, with our eyes! Take advantage of this season to try one as soon as possible (if you have a local farmer’s market, that’s the place you want to go to get these beauts). This recipe is especially wonderful paired with a glass of red or white wine.       Enjoy : )

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Top 5 Reasons to eat Kale

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1. Kale is very high in iron. Kale has more iron per calorie than beef. When you don’t have enough iron you can become lethargic. Also anemia can become a problem when you have an iron deficiency, which makes it harder for your body to fight off illness and disease.

2. Kale is high in fiber, low in calorie and has no fat!  A cup of kale has only 34 calories. The fiber content is great for helping with digestion and it’s also filled with many vitamins and nutrients.

3. Kale is high in vitamin K. Vitamin K is essential for optimal health. It can help stave off blood clotting, keep your bones healthy and helps prevent various forms of cancers.

4. Kale promotes healthier nails and skin. Kale is filled with healthy omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids that help your skin glow and nails grow strong. Who doesn’t want healthy glowing skin?

 5. Kale’s also an anti-inflammatory. If you have arthritis or stiff joints kale can help provide relief from the aches and pains. It is also know to be beneficial for autoimmune disorders as well.

Chipotle Bowls

IMG_0959Matt and I have been obsessed with the burrito bowls from Chipotle and my mom gave me the idea to make our own. Duh, why didn’t I think of that sooner? Basically this bowl is just created by layering ingredients together. We layered brown rice, black beans (canned), a corn salsa, regular salsa, guacamole and lettuce. We have been using our rice cooker like crazy because it’s so easy. You add the rice, water, and then walk away and let it cook to perfection. For our brown rice, we use 1 part rice to 4 parts of water. We then use canned black beans rinsed and drained and canned corn for the salsa.

Corn Salsa Ingredients:

One can of sweet corn drained and rinsed

One bell pepper

One red onion

One bunch Cilantro

2 Limes

Olive Oil

Salt/Pepper

Tapatio or Tabasco

Cayenne Pepper

Cumin

Directions:

Chop the bell pepper and red onion and cilantro and then add to the corn. In a separate bowl mix together olive oil, juice and zest from two limes, a pinch of cumin and cayenne pepper, tapatio/tabasco, salt and pepper and then add to the veggies. Mix. The amount of spices is really to taste because some like it more spicy than others.

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To make the guacamole, mash the pitted and skinned avocado together with salt and pepper. You can add red onion or lemon/lime juice if you wish (I’ve had homemade guac with mango added and it was deeeelish).

Simply layer in a bowl first the brown rice, then black beans, corn salsa, regular salsa (we bought ours from a local taqueria), guacamole and then lettuce and enjoy. If you’re a carnivore you can add sliced steak, chicken or even fish on top of the black beans. We like ours vegetarian though : ). This is also gluten free and vegan.