2017’s Eco Friendly Swaps

2017 Eco swaps

2017 was the year of change for my family and I. My boyfriend took a new position with work, we moved to Northern California, I started a new hobby (this blog) and I started making some eco-friendly switches around our house. I am far from zero waste, but I think it is extremely important to be more conscious of the waste we create, become more mindful of the purchases we make, understand how they effect the Earth and other people. My 2017 New Years resolution was to purchase my clothes used from consignment shops or from ethical brands. I am not going to lie, I cheated 3 times. I’m not perfect but I tried and I had fun with it. I love shopping consignment because you never know what you’re going find. This is something I intend to continue throughout the years. I also tried to make one eco-friendly swap a month, I found this to be something I really enjoyed as well. My swaps were spaced out enough so I was not overwhelmed and towards the end of one month I started looking forward to planning what the next month would have in store for me! So here are some of the changes I made.

      1. Stainless Steel Reusable Water Bottles – This swap is an easy one. It pays for itself in just a couple of months with all the money you’ll be saving by not purchasing one use plastic water bottles.  I have to admit, we have been drinking from reusable water bottles for a couple years now but we started with glass. My family made the switch from glass to stainless steel this year when my sons lifecycle glass bottle broke (I mean duh, who buys glass for a little boy), It also sweat, leaked and did not keep our water cold very long. So I made the switch to Healthy Human stainless steel and have been using this brand for about year now, I was really looking for something I thought was going to last. It’s very durable, perfect for everyday use, hikes and traveling. It has never leaked and keeps water cold for up to 12 hours. (I don’t want to deter anyone from purchasing glass if that is what you think will work best for you, glass and stainless steel are both great options.)
      2. Travel Coffee Mug – Since I love my Healthy human water bottle so much I also purchased their tumbler this year as well. It’s so great for tea to go or filling up at your favorite coffee shop, keeps your beverages hot for up to 4 hours. Plus, most coffee shops give a discount when you BYOC! Save the Earth, save some money.
      3. Reusable Straws  – American’s alone use 500 million straws a day! Doesn’t this number seem just insane? This is completely avoidable by simply requesting “No straw please” When you’re out and about. If you’re like me and find it hard to live without straws due to sensitive teeth or just personal preference I recommend investing in reusable straws, it makes it so much easier to refuse a straw in public when you bring your own back up. There happens to be couple different reusable straw options, stainless steel, glass and bamboo. I went with stainless steel because I was looking for something that was going to last and these seem pretty indestructible. They are easy to clean and affordable. I keep one in my back pack, in my home, and in my car.
      4. Reusable Produce Bags & Grocery bags – Bringing your own grocery bags to the store is probably the easiest on this list, reusable bags are highly available for purchase. I truly cringe when I see the amount of plastic bags people use at the grocery store. So I ended up purchasing two kinds of bags to see which I would prefer. Mesh and 100% organic cotton bags. Unfortunately some of my mesh bags did not hold up very well  in the wash. On the other hand I really love my 100% cotton bags. They can be used with both produce items and bulk items and seem to hold up very well. Also something I learned months into having these bags is to make sure you tell your cashier there is a tare weight on your bag (mine is.7) so you are not paying for the weight of the bag.
      5. Menstrual Cup – Have you ever wondered what the environmental impact of your period is? The average women throws away 250 – 300 pounds of pads, tampons and applicators in her lifetime. Now obviously a period is unavoidable so I invested in a menstrual cup. Specifically the Lunette. I am not going to lie, It’s not easy to use at first and takes a lot of getting used to. I’m months in and still not 100% used to it. So do your research and find out what brand might be best for you. Reusable pads are an awesome option as well.
      6. Chain Mail Cast Iron Scrubber – Made of stainless steel and heavy duty, this thing rocks and looks like it will last me a life time! So worth the $10. I’ll literally never have to purchase a scrubby again!
      7. Reusable Storage Bags – I don’t usually use a ton of storage bags because I repurpose glass jars (from apple sauce, pasta sauce, etc..) for storage but it is handy to have a few around. A couple of reusable bags I do happen to use are two gallon Blue Avocado bags I keep in my freezer, 1. for when my bananas get too ripe, perfect time to freeze for ice cream or smoothies. 2. to hold my vegetable scraps to make vegetable broth. Also I really love Stasher bags for packing on the go snacks.
      8. Bamboo Toothbrush – Toothbrushes represent 50 million pounds of waste that end up in our landfill yearly. I have yet to find a bamboo toothbrush that is 100% compostable in stores but I break the tops off with the bristles and at least I am able to compost the handle. If any of you have found a 100% compostable toothbrush, let me know!!!
      9. Shampoo Bar – I have officially broken up with shampoo and conditioner and I’m not mad about it. I purchased a Lush shampoo bar not too long ago and I love it so much. Lush shampoo bars are cruelty free and package free. One shampoo bar is supposed to last about 80 washes outlasting regular shampoo by 3x! I also just quit using conditioner cold turkey, who needs it? I have long, thick curly hair and I’m doing just fine without it.
      10. Bulk Spices – If you have the ability to purchase spices bulk, do so. I am grateful my local stores have great bulk spice section. Every time I run out of a spice, I wash my spice jar, bring it on my next grocery haul, they weigh my jar at costumer service and I fill it with whatever I need for over half the price I would have paid. Not only is this hack environmentally friendly but wallet friendly as well and who doesn’t love a good deal?
      11. Stainless Steel Ice Cube Tray – This was a hard purchase for me to make because they are not cheap but you get what you pay for. I was going through a good amount of (cheap) plastic ice cube trays because they would continue to crack and not hold water. I felt extremely guilty every time one broke and we needed a new one so I finally pulled the trigger on stainless steel this year in hopes it will last a while and so far so good. Now, I have to admit, at first I was a little frustrated because my cubes were shattering but there is a trick to be learned, set your ice cube tray out about 7 minutes in advance, then you’ll get the perfect cubes.
      12. DIY Non Dairy Milk – I started making my own milks this year out of bulk almonds and shredded coconut. There are many types of milks you can make (oat, rice, hemp, etc.) these are just my personal favorite. With these specific milks I can dehydrate the left over pulp to make coconut and almond flour for gluten free baking. Its a total 2-4-1.
      13. Bulk Tea – I quit using tea bags this year. I am very grateful Whole Foods in Oakland, Ca has a small yet mighty bulk tea section that I purchase my green tea from for my everyday morning tea. There are also a lot of other great coffee & tea shops or apothecary stores to get bulk herbs for tea blends.
      14. Espresso & Coffee – Same as tea, always feeling very grateful to be able to purchase these items bulk for my local stores.
      15. Bamboo Utensils – I purchased 3 sets of reusable bamboo utensils that I pack with my son and boyfriends lunches daily with a reusable cloth napkin. I keep mine in my backpack just incase I pop into a cafe that serves plastic. These have come in handy plenty of times and are also awesome for camping.

I am so happy with all the positive changes made in 2017 and excited to continue to be more aware of my purchases and habits in 2018. If this is something you are looking to do as well I hope this list is helpful to you. Happy New Year!

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Cheesy Broccoli & Rice Bake

Cheesy Broccoli & Rice Bake
Cheesy Broccoli & Rice Bake

This was the last weekend of winter break and I must say I am a bit relieved my son is going back to school tomorrow. I love having him home but with all the neighborhood kids constantly running in and out of the house playing it is hard to, 1. get anything productive done 2. have any alone time 3. listen to my music of choice, lol. Since I have been feeling a little behind I was in need of an easy, yet cozy meal. I get my Imperfect Produce delivery Saturday mornings to help replenish my fridge and pantry for the weekend without having to run to the store, which is such a life saver. Plus, I got most of the items I needed for this cheesy broccoli rice bake.

I’m always on the hunt to find new ways to get the most bang for my buck and produce less waste by utilizing all of my fruits and vegetables. One of my favorite ways to use my broccoli stalks is to make broccoli slaw. But in this recipe we will be incorporating both the broccoli florets and stalks by making broccoli rice. Watch your back cauliflower, broccoli is coming for ya…

Vegan, Gluten free – Serves 6 – Total bake time 1hr 15mins

Ingredients:

Broccoli Bake

  • 2 cups short grain brown rice
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 2 broccoli stalks florets cut into small to med pieces & stalks chopped into broccoli rice
  • 1 tsp pink salt

Cheese sauce (makes 3 cups)

  • 2 cups potatoes peeled & chopped
  • 1 cup carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp pink salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Add short grain brown rice, vegetable broth, garlic, onion and salt to a 13 x 9 baking dish or something similar in size.
  3. Cover and bake for 45 minutes.
  4. Boil carrots and potatoes until soft.
  5. Strain carrots and potatoes.
  6. Toss all cheese sauce ingredients into a blender and blend until you come to a smooth and creamy consistency.
  7. Prepare the broccoli by cutting the tops into small-med sized florets.
  8. Cut the stalks in half or in quarters and toss them into a food processor(or blender), pulse until the stalks are chopped into rice-sized pieces.
  9. After your rice has been baking for 45 minutes, take the baking dish out of the oven and fold in 1 1/2 cups of cheese sauce and broccoli rice. Mix well. Then top the rice mixture with the florets.
  10. Cover and bake for another 30 minutes.
  11. Once the rice is done baking, drizzle the top with the desired amount of cheese sauce and enjoy!

 

Instant Pot Mexican Quinoa

Instant Pot Mexican Quinoa

Although the Holidays are over, my son is still on winter break. I love having him home from school but trying to keep him busy and catch up from traveling, house guests, life and household duties, I am having a bit of a difficult time balancing it all and getting back into my daily routine. Anyone else with me on this? With all that being said, I have not been in the kitchen as much as I would like to and needed a quick and easy meal idea. As I was looking around in my bare fridge trying to figure out what the heck to make for dinner, all the pieces came together when I realized with what little I had, I always have Mexican flavors! So I busted out my Instant Pot and got to work with a one pot meal. This dish can be served as a main, side or vegan taco filling. It makes about 8 cups.

Ingredients

  1. 1 can or 1/2 cup of dried black beans (makes 1 1/2 cups cooked)
  2. 2 1/2 cups of quinoa
  3. 3 garlic cloves diced
  4. 1 yellow onion diced
  5. 1/2 cup green pepper diced (about half the pepper)
  6. 2 teaspoons avocado oil
  7. 4 cups of water
  8. 1 cup of diced tomatoes (I used canned but always check for BPA free cans)
  9. 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  10. 1 teaspoon of pink salt
  11. 1 tablespoon chili powder
  12. 1 teaspoon cumin
  13. 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  14. Cilantro and extra lime for topping, maybe some hot sauce if you like it spicy

Directions

  1. Skip this step if using canned beans: Cook dried black bean in Instant Pot for for 15 minutes, when cooked strain and rinse, set black beans aside. (15 minutes slightly undercooks the beans, they will be cooked thoroughly with quinoa)
  2. In your empty Instant Pot, add the avocado oil and use the sauté function to sauté the garlic, onions and green pepper for about 3 minutes.
  3. Toss in diced tomatoes, lime juice and spices, stir well.
  4. Add the quinoa and the black beans to the pot, stir until all quinoa and beans are coated with spices.
  5. lastly, add 4 cups of water to the pot, stir, close the lid and cook on high pressure for 1 minute, then letting your instant pot naturally release pressure.
  6. When your Instant Pot is ready to be opened, stir quinoa and serve adding extra flavor like cilantro, green onions, hot sauce or extra lime.

 

2017 $25 and Under Holiday Gift Guide

Yay!! The holiday season is in full swing! December 1st starts the gift giving count down for Hanukkah & Christmas. This time of year can be extremely exciting for some and stressful for others. My hopes for this guide is to bring awareness to some eco-friendly and/or ethical brands and to lift some weight off of the shoulders for those that need some gift giving ideas. Whether its for your sister, co worker or a white elephant, this guide has something for everyone. Have fun with your gift giving this year and give a gift that supports your local small shops, artists, and has a purpose or that gives back. Happy Holidays!

Krochet Kids beanie surprise pack – $20.00 –

Krochet Kids provides jobs and fair wages to women in poverty stricken areas of the world. The beanie surprise packs are available while supplies last in men’s and women’s. This is such a fun idea! There are two handmade and hand signed beanies in every mystery pack. 

 

Cocokind rose water facial toner – $16.99 –

I am currently obsessing over Cocokind at the moment. Their mission is to produce pure, quality skincare products with superfoods. Everything on their website seems amazing, but the rose water facial toner is my favorite. It’s organic, vegan and part of their cycle back program. This program allows the person to send back the empty glass bottle once finished in exchange for a 50% coupon to rebuy the product. Eco friendly and a sweet deal!

Tcho Chocolate – $5.99 – $14.99 –

Because who does not love chocolate? Tcho has Christmas and Hanukkah gift collections that range in price. I was recently able to take a tour of their factory and learned so much about Tcho’s connection with the cocoa farmers they work with, and how they source organic and fair trade certified ingredients. I was also lucky enough to taste a good amount of their chocolates and they were all so smooth and flavorful. So good, I ended up leaving the factory with 7  bars of chocolate. This gift will be a guarantee hit!

Healthy Human – Tumbler $22.99 –

Do you know a coffee lover that can use a reusable cup to bring to their favorite coffee shop? Or a busy co worker that drinks their smoothies on the way to work? This Tumbler can hold it all! The 20 oz. Healthy Human cruiser tumbler can keep beverages hot for up to 12 hours or cold for hours 24 hours. It’s also sweat free and lightweight, plus it comes with a reusable stainless steel straw.  This is an eco friendly gift every busy bee will fall in love with.

Pact organic socks gift box – $25.00 –

Socks, the timeless classic. Socks might sounds a tad lame but lets be real, we all need socks. These gift boxes come with 3 pairs of organic cotton socks and are available in mens and women’s. The original price of the gift box is $25 but keep your eyes peeled, there is usually a sale which can lower the price all the way down to $10. I also have a 20% off code I will post below. Pact products are extremely comfortable, I own multiple pairs of  leggings, dresses, shirts and socks and I always feel good about purchasing their goods knowing they are fair trade certified and made with sustainable and organic ingredients.
%20 off code: http://fbuy.me/g-da2

3 pc air plant set – $9.95 + $2.77 shipping to the U.S. –

This is a set of 3 air plants that come in pink sea urchins and are already packed in a gift box for your convenience, so no need to stress about wrapping paper this year! Air plants are a great gift for plant lovers and they are extremely easy to keep alive even if the person you are gifting this to doesn’t have a green thumb (I would know). There is no soil required, they just need to be soaked once a week in water for about 20 minutes.  These will help brighten up any space from an apartment to an office.

Lump O’ Coal holiday bag – $9.99 –

Know someone on the naughty list? This Lump of coal holiday bag comes with 3 hand crafted bars of detox charcoal soap. Pacha soaps are made with environmentally sustainable, real ingredients. Each Pacha purchase helps fuel clean water initiatives and small-scale soap shops, this helps provide much-needed water and sanitation resources in developing countries.

Franklin & Whitman giftcard – $25.00 –

I know what you’re thinking, a gift card? but yes!! Frank & Whit have so much to offer on their website it is too hard choose just one thing, so leave that up to the person you are gifting this to! They have everything from facial masks, dry shampoo, body scrubs to mens beard and grooming supplies, dog balms, and shirts! Everything is plant based and cruelty free. This is a gift that all your dog loving friends and family will appreciate because 5% of their sales are donated to dog rescue organizations.

Eco-friendly planner – $13.76 –

It’s that time of year to start stocking up on new 2018 calendars and planners! This is a great gift for your super organized friend or family member. This planner is made with 100% post consumer recycled paper, it’s printed with vegetable based ink and 50% of the proceeds are donated to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org

Some other fun ideas for gift giving under $25 are:

  • A bottle of organic wine.
  • Locally produced honey or olive oil.
  • Cookbooks.
  • Beeswax candles.
  • Handmade ceramic mugs.
  • A bag of locally roasted coffee or espresso.
  • Essential oils.
  • Crystals or a salt lamp.

Multi-Use Matcha Balm

This week when I did my weekly Whole Foods trip I found myself perusing through the whole body section, which is rare, but I have had my eye on a couple products from Cocokind. Cocokind is a skincare line out of San Francisco that is certified organic, vegan and is based around superfoods. This year their brand has also launched a cycle back program. If you purchase any Cocokind product in a glass container you can send it back in exchange for a 50% off coupon to. I love brands that encourage reuse and eco-friendly habits.

I did not end up purchasing any of the Cocokind products from Whole Foods that day because I wanted to come home and check out their website a little more. Some of the products I was looking into are the MYMATCHA moisture stick and the rosewater facial toner. I have never been one to have a soft, smooth complexion so I would love to see if the rosewater can give me the balanced looking skin I so long for. After reading about the cycle back program, I decided to give this product a go and I cannot wait to try it. As far as the matcha stick, I need a little dark circle correction in my life, like now! Matcha has many benefits for skin, some being that it is anti aging and anti inflammatory. But fter looking at the matcha stick ingredients, I knew I had all had all 3 in my pantry so I decided to make my own rather that make the purchase. Especially because the matcha stick is in a plastic tube that is not apart of the cycle back program. The 3 ingredients used are organic extra virgin coconut oil, beeswax and matcha tea powder plus a reusable 2 oz glass container and here are the measurements I used.

Ingredients

  • 7 teaspoons of finely grated beeswax
  • 4 teaspoons of coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon of matcha

Instructions

  1. In a double boiler OR if you’re like me, boil water in a small sauce pan and place a small glass pyrex bowl over the top, put coconut oil into your bowl and wait until the coconut oil melts
  2. Add the finely grated beeswax to the bowl of melted coconut oil and stir well until the beeswax is melted
  3. Now, while stirring, sift the matcha into the bowl. You do not want to skip this step! If you just pour the matcha in it all in at once, it can clump up. I added the teaspoon of matcha into a chinois and tapped the side of the chinois until most of the the matcha was sifted through into the bowl, after most of the matcha sifted through you may be left with a couple of clumps of matcha in your chinois, discard those.
  4. When all your ingredients melted and mixed well together, carefully pour into your container.
  5. Let cool in your refrigerator for 30 minutes and it will be ready for use as a moisturizer, lip or dark circle balm

Kale and Mushroom Stir Fry with Soba Noodles

The weather is getting cooler and cooler by the day here in Northern California and I absolutely love it! Cool weather calls for warm hearty dishes like soups, stews, casseroles and noodles. I am such a huge fan of soba noodles. Well, any type of noodles really, but who isn’t? The Soba noodles have such unique flavor compared to others noodles. Their distinct nutty flavor makes a great pairing with earthy flavored vegetables like mushrooms and kale, so that is exactly what I will be using in this recipe. Even though I will be enjoying this recipe warm as a stir fry, this dish can also be served as a cold salad the next day. Soba noodles are so versatile, which makes packing lunch easy for the next day if you double the recipe.

Soba Noodles are a great gluten free noodle alternative if you can get your hands on pure 100% buckwheat flour noodles. Although the name suggests otherwise, buckwheat flour is actually a gluten free ancient grain and surprisingly not even related to wheat at all. So what gives with the confusing name? If you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity I always suggest checking the ingredients on the label to make sure your noodles are made with 100% buckwheat flour. I have found that some soba noodles can be made with a blend of flours which would no longer make them gluten free.

This recipe serves 2-3 people:

Ingredients

  • 8 oz of soba noodles
  • 2 teaspoon of avocado or coconut oil
  • 1/2 red onion sliced
  • 1 bunch of tuscan kale cleaned, destemmed and chopped
  • 2 cups of sliced mushrooms

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of avocado or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of aminos or soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sriracha (1 teaspoon if you like a little kick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup
  • Juice for 1/4 of a lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Add water to a saucepan to prepare the soba noodles per instructions on package.
  2. In a separate sauté pan add 2 teaspoons of avocado or coconut oil on medium heat.
  3. Once the avocado oil heats up add sliced onions, stir around for about 2 minutes, next add the sliced mushrooms and continue to stir for another 2 minutes followed by the kale. Once kale is almost cooked thoroughly, turn burner to low heat to keep warm.
  4. While soba noodles are cooking, whip the sauce ingredients together in a bowl.
  5. Add cooked and strained soba noodles to the sauté pan with your vegetables but turn the heat off completely so the noodles do not continue to cook
  6. Lastly, add sesame soy sauce to the noodles, toss well and serve.

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta

Sundays are for pasta! If it were up to my boyfriend we would eat penne and marinara every single Sunday. Pasta is his all time favorite comfort food, as it is for many Italian’s. Kyle loves to tell me stories about when he was a child. He and his entire family would go to his grandmothers house every single Sunday and eat dinner together, which always consisted of meatballs, sausage, pasta and bread… the bread for dipping in the sauce, followed by pastries. I agree with him, penne and marinara is so comforting and delicious. I love all variations of pasta! In my opinion, pasta is just too versatile to only limit yourself to penne and its red sauce comfort blanket. So every once in a while I like to throw a curve ball on pasta night. This time making a creamy vegan butternut squash sauce tossed with peas and spirals. This recipe can be gluten free or not, I like to use Trader Joe’s organic brown rice and quinoa blend pasta. This butternut squash sauce recipe makes just a little over 2 cups of sauce and is enough for one pound of pasta.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of pasta of your choice
  • 2 teaspoon of avocado oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 full medium yellow onion or 1/2 a large onion, diced
  • 1/2 a medium sized butternut squash, skinned and cubed. Roughly 2 cups
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 cup of peas

Instructions

  1. Heat the avocado oil in a medium sized sauce pan with the yellow onion and garlic while stirring around for about 3 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
  2. Toss in the butternut squash, vegetable broth, lemon juice, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and cover your saucepan with a lid. Let cook for about ten minutes.
  3. Once the butternut squash is cooked through, start to boil your water for your pasta in another saucepan and add the butternut squash mixture to a blender and puree for about 45 second.
  4. Add Nutritional yeast to the blender and maybe a some more salt and pepper to taste. Here you may need to blend for another 15-20 seconds
  5. Sauté the cup of peas in the same sauce pan you cooked the butternut squash. By the time you are done with the peas your sauce for the pasta should be cooked.
  6. Combine the pasta, sauce and peas. serve

Thai Green Curry Fried Rice

I accidentally skipped dinner the night of Halloween due to the excitement and festivities, I hope everyone else had a blast too!  I really made up for it though the night after when I had TWO bowls of this Thai green curry fried rice. It was so comforting and delicious. I love making different variations of things like fried rice (and frittatas for my boys) when I have a good amount of vegetables in the fridge that need to be used. It is such tasty and Hardy way to clean out the fridge. So here are some of the different veggies I had in my fridge that I needed to use and thank god because this dish turned out so flavorful.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of rice of your choice, I used brown
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 2 cups of broccoli florets
  • 1 zucchini chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion diced
  • 1 bell pepper, color of your choice, I used half green and half red because that is what I had
  • 1 cup of peas
  • 1/4 inch knob of ginger, grated
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 2 teaspoons of coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of green curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 wedge of lime
  • Cilantro, green onions and bean sprouts for topping (optional)

Instructions

  1. While the brown rice is cooking, sauté your veggies until cooked through, set the vegetables aside in a separate bowl.
  2. In the same pan you cooked the vegetables in add 2 teaspoons of coconut oil on low-med heat, followed by the green curry paste, coconut amigos, rice vinegar, water and lime. Stir well then grate the garlic clove and ginger and continue to stir for another minute.
  3. Once rice is finished cooking fold into the green curry mixture and stir until rice is coated
  4. Toss in your veggies and mix well while adding salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Top with cilantro, green onions and sprouts and serve.

Gluten Free, Vegan Twix Bars

I think we can all agree Halloween is the most fun holiday. Everyone gets to dress up, carve pumpkins and eat candy. It does not get better than that. Not to mention we are all still stoked on the seasons changing and all things Fall and pumpkin spice. Hands down the best time of year. For Halloween I usually let my son pick a couple of the items out of his candy bucket to enjoy so he does not feel completely left out, but the truth is he is not allowed to eat junk foods and candy often at all. So, I trade him for organic, healthier treats. This year I made something he would not want to pass up for a trade in, homemade Twix bars! It was really a toss up between Twix and almond butter cups but I wanted to try something new. I am so glad I did, each layer of this faux Twix is flavorful and guilt free if you ask me. These delicious Twix bars are vegan & gluten free and you would never even know it.

Ingredients

Shortbread

  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup of melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup of maple syrup

Caramel

  • 2 cups of pitted dates
  • 5 tablespoons of non dairy milk ( I used almond)
  • Teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt

Chocolate

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life because they are Non- Gmo, nut free, dairy free, soy free)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line a 8×8 square pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all your shortbread ingredients well, add mixture to your pan while pressing firmly and evenly to form to the bottom of your pan.
  3. Pop the shortbread into the oven and let bake for 10-12 minutes, until it is golden in color, then let cool.
  4. While the shortbread is cooling down make the date caramel by tossing all ingredients into your blender or food processor blend until it forms a creamy consistency. If you wish for your caramel to be creamier slowly add a little more non dairy milk or water.
  5. Once the caramel is finished, spread a thick, even layer onto your shortbread, then refrigerate for about an hour or until caramel has firmed.
  6. Now time for the best part, the chocolate. Add coconut oil and chocolate chips to a double boiler and melt down the chocolate chips, poor melted chocolate onto into the middle of your square pan onto the shortbread and caramel, smooth and even out. Let cool in the refrigerator for another hour
  7. Once you are ready slice and portion out into individual bars, make sure your knife is nice and warm to help cut through the hardened chocolate. You can do this by running your knife under hot water or warming by holding it over a warm oven burner. Cut down the middle first then cut 6 pieces on each side to make 12 twix bars. Store in refrigerator.

Fall Brussels Sprout and Kale Salad

It is October 25th and the high today in the Bay Area is 85 degrees, I think mother nature has her seasons a little confused. Where is that Fall weather I was enjoying last week? This heat wave is no joke, it looks like it will be hot all week. With that being said I needed to add some cold items to my weekly meal plan to avoid heating up the entire house (even more) with my oven. But I still wanted something Fall-esque, this salad was the perfect solution. As a matter of fact if the heat continues I will probably be having salads all week, and maybe an ice pop or two.

Shaved brussels sprouts, kale, red onion, pumpkin seeds and pomegranate tossed in honey mustard dressing, I am loving these flavors together. This can be served as a great main dish, starter or side for those warm fall days when mother nature does not want to let go of Summer. This recipe can be friendly most diets, if you are vegan just substitute the honey in the dressing with agave or maple syrup. If you are paleo and want some protein add egg, salmon or chicken. It’s that easy!

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of kale, destemmed, chopped & massaged
  • 5 cups (about a pound) of shaved brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 of red onion, sliced
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup pepitas

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoons of yellow mustard
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of honey, agave or maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon diced shallots or minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash, destem, chop and massage your kale for 3-5 minutes, I know it sounds silly but you don’t want to skip this step. If you don’t massage the kale it will be very rough.
  2. Shred the brussels sprouts, I used the slicing attachment to my food processor which made this step quick and easy.
  3. Whip up the honey mustard dressing, and toss your kale and brussel sprouts in it.
  4. Slice and top your salad with red onion along with the pepitas and pomegranate seeds.