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.
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Roasted Delicata Squash With Maple Tahini Sauce

This dish is just screaming FALL! And who doesn’t love Fall? Boots, scarfs, leaves and squash. Out of all the squash in season at the moment Delicata is one of my favorites (along side spaghetti squash) due to it’s amazing flavor and easy preparation. The skin on this squash is edible so no need for peeling or scraping.  Just rinse, roast and enjoy. This recipe makes the perfect side dish or can be served over quinoa or raw spinach to make a bowl or salad.

Roasted Delicata Squash With Maple Tahini Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 delicata squash (I cook for 3 people so I prepared 1 per person)
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut or avocado oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cumin
  • Pinch of pink salt

Maple tahini sauce

  • 1/4 cup of tahini
  • 1 fresh garlic clove diced or 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of aminos or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup
  • 3 table spoons of warm water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Rinse squash, cut lengthwise, remove seeds cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  3. Toss with oil and spices and lay out on parchment lined baking sheet
  4. Roast in your oven for 30-35 minutes (until fork tender)
  5. While your squash is roasting, combine all ingredients together for your sauce and whisk until pourable
  6. Remove squash and drizzle with tahini sauc

Coconutty Chocolate Almond Bites

chocolate, coconutty, almond bites
chocolate, coconutty, almond bites

Today is the last day of summer and I am going out with a bang! I was sitting on my balcony enjoying the warmth from the sun on a cool day and thought, the only way this could get better is if I had a snack. So I made one, I was craving something healthy, yet chocolaty and gluten free so it can second as a school snack for my son. I am so thankful I had all the ingredients on hand to make date bites. Between the coconut, almonds and cocoa powder they taste just like an almond joy and the best part is how simple this recipe is. Just three steps, blend, roll, and enjoy. no baking necessary. They are friendly to any diet imaginable being vegan, gluten free, and paleo. If you don’t like chocolate (but who doesn’t like chocolate?) or almonds, maybe you will like these coconut cashew bites.

 

Ingredients **makes about 10**

  • 1 cup of dates
  • 1/2 cup of almonds
  • 3/4 cup of unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of  sea salt

Instructions

  1. Pulse the almonds to into smaller pieces in a food processor or blender
  2. Add all other ingredients and run on low speed until everything is broken down and your mixture looks more rollable. almost like a thick, sticky paste.
  3. Roll into balls, about  1 to 1 1/2 inches in size or your desired size, this size make 10 bites.
  4. I left half of the batch naked and rolled the other half in shredded coconut. They are good both ways so either mix it up, leave them all naked or if you are a coconut lover roll them all in coconut.

Carrot Top Pesto

Carrots are the most commonly used vegetable in my home. They are tasty, affordable, and palate approved by my eight year old son. Aside from all that, I love that I can use the entire carrot. Skin, leaves, stems…Everything! If you skin your carrot, clean, season, and roast those skins up to make root vegetable chips or toss them in a bag with the stems and other vegetable scraps to make broth. Carrot leaves are also edible, delicious, and contain high amounts of protein, vitamins and minerals. Carrot leaves can be used in place of parsley in recipes or can be added to salads and dishes for extra flavor. I also enjoy making sauces like chimicurri or pesto out of carrot leaves. Making the most of your food is also making the most of your money, all while reducing food waste.

Just last week I made a batch of pesto. The recipe is creamy and flavorful. It’s also vegan, but If you are not and would like to add cheese to your pesto, cut the amount of salt in the recipe in half and cut out the nutritional yeast. This recipe makes enough to fill an 8oz. mason jar which gave me 2 meals. One meal was pesto tossed with zucchini noodles, diced tomatoes, and a side of carrots. The other with pasta, but you can serve this pesto over potatoes, pizza, with spaghetti squash.. the options are endless.

Notes: I like my Pesto a prefer my on the creamy side. If you don’t, cut the pine nut measurements down to 1/4 cup.

Ingredients

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup of pine nuts
  • Half of a lemon, juiced
  • 2 cups of carrot leaves
  • 1 – 2 springs of basil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes (double if you like a little spice)
  • 1/8 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup of evoo

Instructions

  1. Toss all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until your desired consistency.

No Bake Date & Apricot Granola Bars

No Bake Granola Bars
No Bake Granola Bars

School is back in session, and my son is now a third grader. The time sure does fly! I absolutely love his school, they work towards being a zero waste school and encourage parents to pack zero waste lunches! This is great because it also encourages healthy lunches and snacks to be packed for students since most of the nutritious foods don’t come in wrappers and packages. Last year I did a decent job at packing a zero waste lunch but I did sneak in the occasional granola bar or Justin’s peanut butter packet every once in a while. Since there is always room for improvement, this year I am going to do a better job.

When my family and I visit Santa Cruz we always go to one of our favorite coffee shops in town, Verve Coffee Roasters. Along with their coffee they have the most delicious vegan & gluten free date bars there. So I am going to mimic those and add a couple of other ingredients that I know my son will enjoy. I am wrapping them in compostable parchment paper in hopes my son will fold the paper up nicely and bring back to me for reuse… but who are we kidding he is an eight year old boy. If the paper doesn’t come back for reuse at least he knows to put it in the compost at school.

This recipe is so easy and quick with just 5 ingredients and no baking involved. This recipe is vegan and gluten free, you can make them grain free/Paleo if you leave the oats out and add more cashews! Just toss those dates and apricots in your blender or food processor for about one minute just to get a little head start. Then simply add the rest of your ingredients in and blend for about another minute, maybe even less. Just make sure everything is chopped and mixed well together. Then flatten the mixture out and cut them into desired shape and sized. I cut mine into squares to make 6. Wrap them up in parchment and they are ready for healthy and eco friendly on the go snacks.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of pitted dates
  • 1 cup diced apricots
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 cashews
  • 1 tablespoons chia seeds

Instructions

  1. Add dates and apricots to food processor blend for 30-60 seconds
  2. Add the rest of your ingredients to the food processor blend until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed well
  3. Flatten, form and cut into desired shapes and sizes
  4. Wrap in parchment paper or portion out in reusable bags and enjoy on the go

The Best Grain Free Granola

Grain Free Granola
Grain Free Granola

You guys have to try this granola!  I’ve made it a couple times now and it is my new go to. This recipe is completely grain-free and made mostly with nuts, seeds and some coconut! It is sweet, salty with the right amount of crunch that is perfect to add fresh berries to for breakfast or to yogurt for an afternoon snack. Now, this particular recipe is made with honey but can be made vegan with one ingredient swap, maple syrup.  Also, this recipe is Paleo as is.  It’s also a great way to use some of that almond meal we made last week! Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. First, add all your dry ingredients to a bowl, followed by your wet ingredients, then, mix well. Spread onto a cookie sheet.  I lined mine with parchment paper which makes it easier for transferring into a jar later on. cook for  28-32 mins depending on how dark or toasty you like it! let sit and cook for a couple of minutes before transferring into an airtight jar. Makes about 6 cups.

Ingredients (Organic perferred)

  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup of honey or maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Add all dry ingredients to bowl
  3. Stir in wet ingredients and mix well
  4. Spread mixture on parchment paper lined cookie sheet
  5. Bake for 28-32 minutes depending on how toasted you like your granola
  6. Let cool for at least 5 minutes
  7. Add in raisins, dried cranberries, or goji berries (optional)
  8. Mix if you added dried fruit
  9. add to airtight container and enjoy

Preservative Free Almond Milk

IMG_2666

Once you get a taste of this fresh, homemade almond milk, there’s no turning back. I remember the first time I took a sip of pure almond milk, I was blown away by the flavor and thick creamy texture. I had just realized that’s what almond milk is supposed to taste like. I couldn’t believe the difference in flavor and body between homemade and store bought. Plus, It’s just 3 ingredients.  Almonds, salt and water!

Preservative Free Almond Milk

Since this recipe is preservative free, it is good to keep note of the date your milk is made, the shelf life is 5 days and it makes about 4 cups. If you think you will not use 4 cups in 5 days then half the recipe so you don’t have spoiled nut milk on your hands. Nut milk does not require refrigeration, so feel free to pack it with you on your next picnic or for work/school lunches. Almond milk is low in calories, carbs, and sugars (if left unsweetened) and high in healthy fats. If you prefer vanilla or sweetened almond milk then play around with the recipe a bit. You can add a couple drops of vanilla extract or maple syrup before you blend.

As far as cost, I always purchase my nuts in bulk because they are cheaper and if you bring your own bag there is no package or plastic bag waste. Your milk will now be zero waste! My organic almonds are $8.99lb, each pound is about 3 cups of almonds. This puts the cost at $2.99 for 4 cups of fresh almond milk plus, I get to save my pulp, dehydrate it and make my own almond meal

Had I known how easy it was to make almond milk I would have been doing it a lot sooner! Just a couple simple steps.  So simple you can do them in your sleep… No really, you can just soak the almonds when you are sleeping! Take 1 cup of almonds and soak them in a bowl of water over night (or for about 8 hours). In the morning, strain, rinse, and place the almonds in a blender with 4 cups of filtered water and a pinch of salt. **If you will be enjoying your milk right away chill your water beforehand** Blend your almonds, water and salt for 45-60 seconds, then strain your milk with either a nut milk bag or fine strainer such as a chinois. I have tried both and personally think the chinois is more efficient. If using a nut milk bag you have to get a little dirty and use your hands to squeeze all of milk out of the bag and then clean the bag afterwards. With a fine mesh strainer, all  you do is run the milk through and let it sit and strain over a bowl for a couple of minutes. When you’re ready, transfer your milk into an airtight container or grab yourself a cookie to dip in your almond milk!

Ingredients

•1 cup almonds
•4 cups filtered water
•Pinch of salt

**optional for sweetened or flavored

•1/8 teaspoon vanilla
•2 teaspoons of maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Soak almonds in bowl of water for 8 hours
  2. Strain and rinse almonds
  3. Blend almonds with 4 cups of water for 45-60 seconds
  4. Strain almond milk with nut milk bag or fine mesh strainer
  5. Transfer milk to airtight container

Makes 4 cups of milk. Use within 5 days

Spice Up Your Life!

I am always looking for new ways to be environmentally friendly, produce less waste, and save money, In doing so, I am always making new discovieries but my most recent, bulk spices!  Why has it taken me so long to discover this? This is such a simple money saver! The average cost of organic spices is around $3.99 a jar. Just the past two weeks when my spices ran out I have been washing, and saving my jars for grocery day. The first thing I did when I got to Whole Foods was go to customer service where they are always so kind. I had all my spice and mason jars weighed right there and it only took a minute. They just add a little piece of tape to your jar and write how much it weighs on it so when you check out, the cashier knows how much weight to deduct and you’re only paying for the weight of the contents your jar. Here is a list of spices I have purchased bulk lately with their weight and prices.

Can your old spice jars save you money?
Can your old spice jars save you money?
  • Pink Himalayan salt – 9.6oz – $1.19
  • Organic fine ground pepper – 3.8oz – $5.04
  • Organic Cumin – 1.45oz – $1.53
  • Organic Garlic Powder – 2.72oz – $2.55
  • Organic Paprika – 1.92oz – $1.80
  • Crushed Red Chili Flakes – 1.28oz – $0.76

Can your old spice jars save you money?

Although these weights vary, so do the pre-filled spice jars in the grocery store. I found  most of my pre-filled jars state that they contain about 1.2-1.9 oz of product. It’s hard to visualize weight but they all filled up a typical 3 oz capacity spice jar with the exception of salt and pepper which filled up smaller mason jars that hold about 12oz. I have since used some of these spices so some are fuller than others.

I am so excited I no longer have to toss out my spice jars! No more plastic tops and sea salt containers rotting in the landfill, No more wasted labeling, and I get to save a few bucks and you do too!

2 Ingredient DIY laundry detergent

DIY 2 ingredient laundry detergent

Ever wonder how many toxic chemicals are hiding in your laundry detergent? Is it laundry day? Well, I got you covered with this non-toxic two ingredient laundry detergent recipe. My dear friend Dayna shared this recipe with me a couple years back and I am so thankful for it. This laundry soap works great! It’s all natural, cost efficient, and packagings for both products are recyclable so. For this recipe you will need one bar of Dr. Bronner’s castile hemp soap of your choice, (I go between lavender and peppermint) and one box of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda. Some additional items you will need —besides your ingredients— is a grater, scoop, and a container that will hold about 6-7 cups. This recipe is only two easy steps that will set you back just five minutes of your day.

I have worked out the cost I paid pre-tax and based this on medium sized loads. The total of this non-toxic all natural laundry detergent comes out to $5.64 for 80 tablespoons. This will last me 40 loads at about .14 cents per load.

I also have a fabric softener recipe as well if you are interested.  The specific reason I keep the detergent and the softener separate rather than tossing all the ingredients into one big container is because if you have a dishwasher the laundry detergent we just made can double as dishwasher detergent by using just 1 tablespoon.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of Arm & Hammer washing soda
  • 1 bar of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap

Instructions

  1. Scoop 4 cups of washing soda into your container.
  2. Finely grate the entire bar of Dr. Bronner’s.
  3. Mix the two together and start a load of laundry!

For a medium size load of laundry I use about 2 tablespoons. So if you have a small or larger load just add or subtract a tablespoon.

** This is a conscious consumer side note:

Dr. Bronner’s brand is one of my favorites for so many reasons. Throughout the years they have stayed true to their brand and costumers, making good quality products with integrity. Their soaps are organic, non-gmo, vegan, kosher, not tested on animals, and fair trade! The company as a whole treats the earth with such respect by being involved in soil enrichment, tree planting, and organic farming projects. Also, the facility is in the process of installing solar panels to reduce energy consumption.  They only use recycled materials to make their plastic bottles for liquid soaps and are well on their way to reaching their goal of reducing waste to one dumpster a month. I truly support all of their efforts!

No Bake Coconut Cashew Date Bites

Happy Summer!! We are celebrating with some warm temperatures here in the Bay Area, I certainly did not want to turn my oven on, but had a bit of a sweet tooth this afternoon. These date bites were the perfect solution to satisfy my craving without having to heat up the entire house by baking. My eight year old son is home for the summer and loves to prepare food as much as I do so this was a fun activity for him, as well as a great treat. Dates help regulate digestion, and boost energy, cashews are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and coconut is high in protein, fiber, iron and zinc. These bites are vegan, paleo, have no added sugar yet they are naturally sweet and delicious. Sounds too good to be true right?  This recipe should yield 10-12 bites

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup of shredded coconut plus set aside about 1/3 cup for coating bites
  • 2 tsp of chia seeds
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp of coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons of water

Instructions

  1. Pulse your cashews to smaller pieces in a food processor or blender.
  2. After the cashews are broken down to your desired size (I left mine coarsely chopped) add your pitted dates, unsweetened shredded coconut, chia seeds, cocoa powder, coconut oil and water and blend together until the mixture is finely chopped and looks a little sticky and rollable.
  3. Set aside a little bowl with some extra shredded coconut. Roll the mixture into balls 1 to 1.5 inches in size, then roll the bites around in your coconut bowl to coat.