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4 ingredient maca-powered chocolate clusters

Have you used maca powder yet? Its nickname is “Peruvian ginseng” and was even used as currency during the Incan empire due to its energy and libido enhancing properties. It’s loaded with vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Buying it in powder form makes it easy to incorporate in many dishes: add it to smoothies, baked goods, sprinkle on salads, and add it to your morning oatmeal. 

I was so excited to find the Nature’s Path granola on sale this week. Apparently I didn’t have enough chocolate over the holidays so I grabbed a bag of chocolate too- which was also $1 off. Score! I’ll take any extra $$$ in my pocket to pay off the December credit card bill. 

These clusters can be made with almost anything you have on hand. Throw in some nuts and seeds into melted chocolate, chill in the fridge- and you have clusters. Get creative with cranberries, oranges, coconut chips, slivered almonds, etc. What I used was simply what I had in my kitchen at the time.  

Ingredients:

1/4 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips
1 tsp of maca powder
1/2 cup of granola
a handful of raisins
 
Instructions:
1) Melt chocolate (roughly 60 seconds in the microwave, or in a bowl over boiling water)
2) Blend in the remaining ingredients
3) Pour into parchment paper covered cookie sheet. With a fork or a knife separate the “batter” into small clusters. Chill in refrigerator for 15 mins.

Career opportunities in the plant based food scene

Some lucky ducks are gifted with having careers they love, but they don’t always start that way.  As awareness of the health benefits from eating plants spreads like wildfire many people are changing career paths to participate. Entrepreneurs are developing new products catering to new  tastes, educators are helping inform the public, more vegan restaurants are opening, and the internet is abuzz new websites sharing recipes.

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Warm golden beet salad

I promise this will be last recipe with buckwheat for a while, but you're going to want to try this one! The golden beets are perfect natural sweeteners. You can serve this while the beets and buckwheat are warm, or eat it cold. It'll be just as good. I made a big batch of this for a party over the weekend and it was a big hit. 

Ingredients:
2 golden beets, boiled and shredded
1 cup of cooked buckwheat
1 tomato, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1 pickle, diced
1 tbsp red onion, diced
2 tbsp of vegan mayo

Instructions
mix all the ingredients in a bowl
 

Stress free kids lunch ideas

Congratulations fellow parents! We've made it through the summer. Somewhere between the last day of school, camp fires and beach vacations the summer flew by and it's time to send our kids off to school again. A collective celebratory dance is in order. The only caveat is having to make a healthy lunch for the kiddos during the morning rush.

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Savory bok choy with toasted sesame sauce

Add this recipe to your menu this week. It's such a delicious combination of sesame seeds and nutty flavors. Plus, it's bok choy! A superfood packed with vitamin A and calcium.

Ingredients

3/4 cups of vegetable broth (divided)

pinch of chili pepper flakes

1 garlic clove sliced

2 heaping tbsp of nut butter (of your choice)

4-6 baby bok choy, chopped into quarters 

Sauce

2 1/2 tbsp of sesame seeds

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tbsp of low sodium tamari/ Braggs amino acids

 2 tsp blackstrap molasses

3 tbsp of vegetable broth

Instructions

1) Dry sauté sesame seeds until they turn slightly brown.  Let them cool. Once cool, mix in the remaining sauce ingredients. Set aside.

2) In a sauce pan heat 2 tbsp of vegetable sauce. Add sliced garlic and pinch of chili pepper flakes. Sauté for about 1 min.

3) Add nut butter. Keep adding broth to dilute the nut butter to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The nut butter should be liquid.

4) Add the boy choy and mix well. Cook until the boy choy is tender. All leaves should be translucent in the thickest area of the white section.

5) Pour the sauce over the bok choy when it's done cooking. Serve over a bed of rice, or another grain of choice.

 

 

2- Minute Breakfast: Kasha with White Bean & Beet Hummus

Buckwheat is a food that doesn't get enough attention. Let's right this wrong. It's packed with nutrients, gluten free and it's delicious. In Russia it's typically referred to as Kasha.

I'm currently going through a love affair it. It reminds me of my childhood, when it used to be a standard breakfast. Granted back then it was cooked with butter, salted, and I poured milk over it.

Here is my adult version that only takes 2 minutes of active kitchen time to assemble. The hummus is store bought- made with white beans and beets, giving it the beautiful purple color. The only thing I had to do was throw the kasha into the rice cooker and combine it with the hummus when it was done cooking.

My 3 year old kiddo loved playing with it. Sticking the individual buckwheat grains to the hummus and mixing all the colors together. He gobbled up his whole plate and asked for seconds. 

Prep:

1. In a rice cooker or in a pot combine 1 cup of buckwheat* and 2 cups of cold water. I used a rice cooker so I just turned it on and let it's do it's job. If you're using a pot, bring it to a boil, reduce to medium low heat and cook until it's tender.

You can cook a batch of kasha a day ahead if you are in a rush in the morning and don't have time to wait. This dish is great both hot and cold. 

* It's a good idea to sort through the buckwheat before cooking it to make sure there aren't any black bits or stones in it. 

What are some of your favorite foods from childhood, and how do you cook them now?

School Gardens: A Growing Trend to Get Kids to Eat Better

In a sea of dismal health statistics it can often seem the cards are stacked high against parents who are trying to instill healthy eating habits in their kids. The current landscape of nutritional void is too big of a problem for parents to navigate alone. 

At every point of contact with food our kids are bombarded with messages to consume more sugar and processed food. TV commercials, restaurants, school cafeterias and social events reaffirm the new norm: faux food is in, real food is out.

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WTF do Vegans eat???

The assumption is always the same: fake meat and cheese, grass, which all tastes like cardboard. Basically, bland and boring food. Besides, who in their right mind would give up steak for tofurky!?!?

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Chili

When it's cold outside it makes perfect sense to eat something called chili :) A bowl of this dish and you'll get nicely warmed up. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 onion, diced

2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/4 cup of water or broth

2 carrots, diced

1 bell pepper, diced

1 small head of cauliflower, stemmed and cut into small florets

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tbsp chili powder (or to taste)

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

3 crushed tomatoes

3 whole tomatoes, seeds removed and roughly chopped

2 cups cooked kidney beans (pinto beans will go well here too)

salt and pepper, to taste

1 to 2 avocados, diced

1/2 cup Cashew Sour Cream

Instructions:

1) Broth sauté the onions until they are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup of water and the carrots. Let the carrots cook for about 5 minutes, or until they start to soften a bit.

2) Next add the bell pepper, cauliflower and cook until they start to soften slightly, about 5 minutes or so.

3) Add cumin, chili powder, vinegar, tomatoes, beans and 1 cup of water. Bring the chili to a boil and then reduce to low and cook for 45 mins to an hour. Stir and test the chili occasionally to prevent sticking. If it’s too thick, add a touch more water. Chili is done when the vegetables are cooked through.

4) Salt and pepper to taste right before serving. Top it off with some avocado slices and cashew sour cream

Cashew Sour Cream:

1 cup of raw cashews, soaked overnight

1 tbsp of lemon juice

1/2- 3/4 cups of water

1 1/2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar

1/4 tsp of salt


Blend all ingredients in a blender. Add more water as needed to thin out the mixture and make it smoother.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Israeli Couscous

I love butternut squash and I love Israeli couscous....so I had make a dish to put them together.

Ingredients:
 

1 small butternut squash
1.5 cups of israeli couscous (also called pearled couscous)
1 tbsp of dried basil
1/4 tsp of cinnamon 
1/4 tsp of ground ginger
1/4 tsp of salt
pinch of nutmeg
3 cups of broth or water
2-3 handfuls of spinach


Instructions:
 

1) Cut squash in half length wise, place in an oven safe dish skin side down. Bake @ 350 for about an hour. 

2) While the squash is baking place couscous, spices and broth in a pot and cook until the couscous is al dente.

3) When the squash is done, carefully remove it from the oven and cut cross section into the meaty side. Try to avoid cutting the skin. Spoon the cubes and toss into the pot with couscous. Add the spinach. Cook for a few more minutes until the spinach is wilted and everything is well mixed.
 

Everyday Lentils

Lentils should be a staple item in every kitchen. Red, black, green... so many to choose from! My favorite is French lentils. They are hearty, which allows them to cook longer and have a more meaty texture. This recipe is a staple in our house. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. of vegetable broth

1 large onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp of dried basil

1/4 tsp each of: ground ginger, ground cinnamon, 

1/8 tsp each of: ground nutmeg, paprika

1 bunch of kale (or other greens like spinach/swiss chard)

2 carrots, chopped

2 1/2 cups of water

1 cup of French lentils

salt and pepper to taste

 

Instructions:

 

1) Sauté onion in broth until onion is translucent. Keep adding broth to prevent onions from sticking. Add garlic, basil and the remaining spices and cook for about 1 min. Add kale and carrots. Cook until kale is slightly wilted.

 

2) Add water and lentils. Cook for about 30 mins until lentils are tender. 

 

3) salt and pepper to taste

 

Candied Cranberries

The adult version of sour patch kids! These are the perfect poppers for a holiday party. Double the recipe to make enough to go around.

Ingredients

3 cups of fresh cranberries 

3 cups of water

3 cups of granulated sugar + more for coating

Instructions

1) Wash cranberries and set aside in a bowl.

2) Over low to medium heat combine water and 3 cups of sugar. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Do not boil the water. Once sugar is dissolved allow mixture to cool to room temperature.

3) Pour cooled mixture over the cranberries until they are submerged. (If you pour hot water over the berries they will pop) Press berries down because they will naturally float. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

4) Strain berries out of the bowl and dry off with a paper towel. They should be a bit tacky. You can keep the syrup water for another recipe or discard.

5) Pour enough sugar to cover the bottom of a big flat dinner plate with a thin layer. Place berries in batches of about 10 on to the plate. Pick up the plate with both hands and very gently move it side to side. The berries will easily roll and get coated with sugar. Set coated berries aside on a baking sheet to allow the sugar to harden. 

6) Store in refrigerator. 


The BEST Chickpea Salad

This is hands down my favorite chickpea salad recipe. Everyone in the family loves it so much that it has now been served two Mondays in a row. I'm considering creating an official chicky-Monday special in honor of this dish! 

It's a perfect substitute for the tuna version. It's easy and quick to put together. I used dried chickpeas, (soaked for a few hours then cooked for about an hour), but if you are in an absolute time pinch you can used one 28 oz can. 

 

Ingredients:

3 cups of cooked chickpeas

2 pickles, diced

3 tbsp of red onions, diced

2 sheets of Nori (black sushi seaweed wrap ground up)

1/2 tsp of pink salt

1/4 tsp of pepper

3 heaping tbsp of vegan mayo

Instructions:

Mash chickpeas in a bowl, and blend in the remaining ingredients.

 

Banana Muffins

These banana muffins pick up on the nice fall flavors with the added applesauce and spices.  It's a slight variation of the Apple Pumpkin Muffins (the basic recipe is a perfect way to play around with seasonal flavors, or to take advantage of whatever you have in the kitchen).

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)

1/2 cup of rolled oats

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/3 cup of raw turbinado sugar (or brown sugar)

2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp of nutmeg

1/4 tsp of salt

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 cup of applesauce

2 flax eggs (2 tbsp of ground flax seeds + 6 tbsp of water, set aside for 6 mins)

1/4 cup of maple syrup

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, mix flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar and spices together until well combined.

2) Add mashed bananas, applesauce, flax eggs and maple syrup, stir until almost combined. Spoon into lined/ greased muffin cups about 3/4 of the way. Sprinkle additional oats and brown sugar over top if desired. Bake 18-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Apple Pumpkin Muffins

I'm loving the apple and pumpkin combo here. I left the apple chunks a little big so it gave a nice crunch but you can chop them into tiny pieces so that they cook through into a really soft consistency.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)

1/2 cups of rolled oats

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/3 cup of raw turbinado sugar (or brown sugar)

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp of nutmeg

1/4 tsp of salt

1 cup of pumpkin puree

1 cup of apples, chopped 

2 flax eggs (1 tbsp of ground flax seeds + 3 tbsp of water, set aside for 6 mins)

1/4 cup of maple syrup

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, mix flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar and spices together until well combined.

2) Add pumpkin puree, flax eggs and maple syrup, then stir until almost combined. Add apples, stir until just combined. Spoon into lined/ greased muffin cups about 3/4 of the way. Sprinkle additional oats and brown sugar over top if desired. Bake 18-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Baked Apples

Yahoo for apple season! I recently picked up a huge box of apples from the local farmer's market for a super cheap price. Gotta love the fall. Naturally, it calls for baked apples to be made... 

Ingredients:

3 Apples, sliced in half, deseeded 

About 1 cup of oats

2 tbsp maple syrup

Generous sprinkle of cinnamon 

Instructions:
1) Preheat over to 350

2) Arrange apple in an oven safe dish. Spread oats evenly among the apples. Pour in the maple syrup, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for about 1 hour.