Fudgy Almond Bars

_MG_5969

We don’t eat sweets very often, so when we do indulge, it had better be delicious! These certainly were! Yum! 😀

 

Fudgy Almond Bars

_MG_5944

Here’s what you need:

CRUST

  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 8 large dates (pits removed)
  • Pinch salt

ALMOND LAYER

  • 1 cup almond butter (or sub other nut or seed butter)
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • Pinch salt

GANACHE

  • 1 bag of vegan dark chocolate chips (at least 70% cocoa) (I used HEB Organics 70% dark chocolate chips in the 10 oz bag)
  • 1 can coconut milk (with about 2 tablespoons of the water poured out)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Here’s what you do:

Crust

  • Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until you have a coarse mixture that holds together when you mash it.
  • Empty mixture into 8×8 dish that has been lined with parchment paper. Pack down until it’s evenly placed on the bottom of the dish.

Almond Layer

  • Add all ingredients in a small bowl and stir together.
  • Empty out onto the top of the crust and spread evenly.
  • Place in freezer.

Ganache

  • This will make more than what’s needed for the top of the bars (unless you want an insanely thick layer of ganache!). You can save the rest to eat on its own!
  • Place chocolate chips in a large glass bowl.
  • Heat coconut milk in a sauce pan on top of the stove until it just starts to boil.
  • Pour on top of the chocolate chips and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.
  • Add cocoa powder.
  • Whisk all of the ingredients together until creamy smooth.
  • Place in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes to let it start setting.
  • Remove the crust/almond layer mixture from the freezer and add ganache on top (use as much or as little as you like.), spreading it out smooth.
  • Return to the freezer and let sit for about 30 minutes, or until the ganache is firm.
  • Cut into 12 squares, serve and enjoy.

**You can keep them either in the freezer or the fridge, depending on which you like better. If kept in the freezer, you can actually just pick them up and eat them. If kept in the fridge, you’ll need a fork. 😉

Spinach Pesto Lasagna Rolls with “Cream Sauce”

5955

So, my Mom, Husband and I have all gone Vegan. I’ll write more about the “why’s” later. Until then, check out: Forks Over Knives, What the Health and Eating You Alive. So eye-opening!

I’ve been posting pictures of our meals on Facebook, just to show how yummy Whole Food Plant Based meals can be (gluten free also). Since I’ve had some requests for the actual recipes, here’s the one for the Spinach Pesto Lasagna Rolls with “Cream Sauce” that I made last night. They were SO good! 😀 ❤

 

Spinach Pesto Lasagna Rolls with “Cream Sauce”

_MG_5953

Here’s what you need:

10-12 brown rice lasagna noodles

“Cream Sauce”:
1 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons arrowroot powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pesto:
2 cloves garlic + 1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups fresh basil, loosely packed
1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds + extra for topping
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Ricotta:
1 1/2 cup cashews, soaked at least 2 hours
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
½ cup water
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Spinach:
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz baby spinach

Here’s what you do:

Cream Sauce:
Drain cashews. In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until completely smooth.

Pesto:
Place all ingredients in a blender  and blend. It should not be completely smooth. Thin with water to get it into a spreadable consistency. Reserve half for the inside of the rolls and half for topping.

Ricotta:
Drain cashews. In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.

Spinach:
In a large cast iron skillet, saute garlic in olive oil for about 1 minute, then add about 8-10 oz of the spinach (setting aside the rest) and cook until wilted.

Make the noodles:
Cook noodles according to instructions on package. You want them to be more al dente. Once cooked, drain them in a colander and run them under cold water to make them suitable for handling.

Assembling:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly spray a 9×13 inch casserole dish or line with parchment paper.
  • Spread about 3 tablespoons of ricotta mixture evenly over each lasagna noodle.
  • Spread about 1-2 teaspoons of pesto on top of the ricotta mixture of each lasagna noodle.  (Alternatively, you could mix half of the pesto with the ricotta to cut out this step.)
  • Line about 3 tablespoons of spinach mixture over the ricotta/pesto mixture.
  • Use the rest of the fresh spinach to cover the top of the mixtures of each lasagna noodle.
  • Carefully roll each noodle up and place them seam side down in the casserole dish.
  • Pour the white sauce all over the rolls.
  • Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until edges are lightly browned and white sauce is thickened.
  • Remove from oven, spread on the remaining pesto and sprinkle extra pumpkin seeds on top.
  • Place under broiler until the tops and pumpkin seeds are golden brown. This doesn’t take long, so watch it carefully!
  • Remove, serve and enjoy!

 

Gluten Free Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad

_MG_5486

I’m always trying to think of easy, healthy lunch ideas that I can make a lot of. Things that I can throw into containers and that will feed us all week. We’ve been stuck on this one for several weeks now, just because it makes a lot, it keeps in containers rather well, it’s so versatile, it’s tasty, and healthy! I call it “Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad”, as you can throw in just about anything but the kitchen sink.

I’ll give you the base, then also some “throw in” ideas. You can really make it your own based on your tastes. There’s no right or wrong!

**To make it as healthy as possible, buy organic, non-gmo when you can!

Gluten Free Kitchen Sink Pasta Salad

Here’s what you need:

Base

  • 16oz package Brown Rice Pasta (cooked)
  • 8 – 10oz jar Olive Bruschetta (basically olive salad)
  • 1 T. Nutritional Yeast (this is the kind I use: Bragg Nutritional Yeast)
  • 1 T. Turmeric
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Throw In Ideas

  • Grated Carrots
  • Chopped Green Onions
  • Several Handfuls of Fresh Mixed Greens
  • Sliced Bell Peppers
  • Chopped Celery
  • Chopped Onions
  • Minced Garlic
  • Chopped Parsley
  • Sliced Mushrooms
  • Toasted Sunflower & Pumpkin Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • If you’re wanting to add even more protein, Grilled Chicken works really well with it too.

 

Here’s what you do:

  • Cook Pasta.
  • Drain and rinse with cold water.
  • Add to a large bowl.
  • Add Olive Bruschetta, Turmeric, Salt and Pepper, then mix well.
  • Add in all of your other “throw in” ingredients.
  • Stir well with wooden spoon.
  • Refrigerate several hours (even better overnight).
  • Enjoy!

“Bird Seed” Granola

granola2

Many of you have heard me refer to my “Bird Seed” and have asked for the recipe, so I thought I would share it here.

Initially, this started out as primarily just pumpkin and sunflower seeds, which is where my little nickname came from. I was trying an elimination diet to see if I had any food allergies that were causing a skin rash. On this elimination diet (which was pretty brutal I might add) there wasn’t much that I could have. No nuts, corn, soy, gluten, dairy, citrus fruits, nightshade vegetables, coffee, chocolate, wine, etc… This “Bird Seed” was “legal”, so I pretty much became addicted to it, and still am. In fact, I’m having some right now! 😀

I didn’t really see any pattern related to what I was eating and the rash, so I started adding things back (Hallelujah!) and adapted the original recipe to include a little more goodness. This is still gluten and dairy free as those are two things I won’t be adding back to my diet. I haven’t had dairy in years and years because I discovered it triggered migraines, and gluten is just bad, bad, bad!

I typically enjoy mine for breakfast with mixed berries and coconut yogurt, but it’s also delicious with vanilla coconut milk as a cereal, or just to eat plain!

So, here’s how to make some delicious, gluten free, dairy free, low sugar Bird Seed! **It’s best to buy organic ingredients when you can!**

 

Bird Seed Granola

granola

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 Cups Raw Sunflower Seeds
  • 1 Cup Raw Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1 Cup Walnuts (or other nuts of your choosing)
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Flakes
  • 1/2 Cup Gluten Free Oats
  • 3 T Chia Seeds
  • 1 heaping tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/4 to 1/3 Cup Raw Honey (depending on how sweet you want it)
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Oil (melted)

Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Preheat oven to 300.
  • Line large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Combine all ingredients into a food processor fitted with an “S” blade. *
  • Turn on to medium/high speed and let it run until you have a coarse mixture.
  • Transfer to cookie sheet and spread it out evenly.
  • Bake for 30-60 minutes – stirring every 15 minutes. **
  • Once your Bird Seed is golden brown, turn off the oven and leave it inside until the oven is cool.
  • Remove from oven and enjoy! 🙂

*If you have a smaller food processor, chop the ingredients in batches, and place each batch into a large bowl. Once all ingredients have been chopped, then stir well before spreading it onto the cookie sheet.

**Oven temps vary, therefore; you may have to bake shorter or longer depending on yours. It’s important to check every 15 minutes and stir it around as it has a tendency to burn if you don’t. 😉

 

 

 

 

Super Fudge Protein Brownies

FudgeBrownies

When you’re trying to eat clean, super chocolately, gooey, delicious brownies are probably something you think are off limits. That’s where you’re wrong! Ditch the box and make your own. These are a delightful treat, filled with protein and no nonsense ingredients. It’s not permission to eat the whole pan in one go, though…remember…moderation!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3/4 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Vanilla Protein Powder
  • 3/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Sugar
  • 2 Squares of Dark Chocolate (at least 70%), chopped into pieces
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 T. Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Peanut Butter (make sure it only contains peanuts!)
  • 1/4 Cup Almond Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Pecans (optional)

Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Grease 8×8 baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • Mix all ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. If the batter is too thick, add additional milk by tablespoonfuls until it reaches a better consistency (not runny, but moist enough to where all of the ingredients are mixed together nicely).
  • Pour until baking dish. Using a knife, spread it evenly into the dish.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes or until the top is somewhat crispy.
  • Let cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting.

Enjoy!

Fall is Coming Chicken Soup

chickensoup1

I got a little excited this past weekend because of the cool front that came through. Lows in the upper 50’s was something to celebrate, even if it did get up to 85 during the day. I mean, that’s cool weather for us Texans, right? We wanted something “fall-ish” for dinner, but nothing too complicated because we were busy outside (had to get those fall decorations out!). I figured a nice chicken soup would do! Now, when it comes to soups and stews, I don’t do measurements. I just start dumping things in until it tastes good. 😀

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2lbs Chicken (I used chicken breasts, but whatever cut you prefer will do.)
  • 6-8 Celery Stalks, chopped into roughly 1 inch pieces
  • 1 Small Bag of Carrots, chopped into roughly 1 inch pieces
  • 2 Bell Peppers (any color is fine), chopped
  • 2 Onions, Chopped
  • 2 Shallots, Chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
  • 1 Big Handful Fresh Baby Kale
  • 1 Big Handful Fresh Baby Spinach
  • 1 T. Coconut Oil
  • Herbs & Spices to taste: Salt, Pepper, Thyme, Rosemary, Garlic Powder, Sage, Basil, Bay Leaves

Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Put chicken in a stock pot (I believe mine is a 10qt.) and cover with water. (Leave about 2 inches at the top.)
  • Add in your Herbs and Spices.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 1 hour.
  • Add Celery, Carrots, Bell Peppers, Onions, Shallots, Garlic and Coconut Oil.
  • Bring to a boil again, then reduce heat back to low, cover and simmer for about 30-45 minutes, or until the carrots are soft.
  • Remove Chicken and shred with a fork, then put it back in the pot.
  • Add in your handfuls of Kale and Spinach, and simmer for about 10 minutes more.
  • Remove from heat and let it sit for about 10 minutes, then serve.

Enjoy!

**This makes a lot, and tastes even better the next day!

Salsa Chicken Salad

ChickenSalad

I’m going to give you the easiest way to make lots of tasty chicken, with almost zero effort. Ready? Here it goes:
Take 4-5 chicken breasts and 1 jar of green salsa (make sure there’s almost 0 sugar!), toss it all in the crockpot and let it go, let it go!!! 4-5 Hours on High or 6-8 Hours on Low. Once it’s done, you just take two forks and shred it all up. Easy, right? 🙂
You can eat this on its own, put it over brown rice, or in a whole wheat tortilla. The possibilities are endless. I put mine over a salad for a super healthy lunch or dinner.
Salad Mix:
• Spinach
• Romaine Lettuce
• Purple Cabbage
• Shredded Carrots
Toppings:
• Salsa Chicken
• Raw Sunflower Seeds
• Kalamata Olives
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing:

Mix the following in whatever size glass jar or container you might have. I use an old olive oil bottle and it works perfectly:
• 1 Cup Olive Oil
• ½ Cup Balsamic Vinegar
• 1 tsp. Salt
• 1 tsp. Pepper
• 1 T. Garlic Powder or Chopped Garlic
• 1 T. Italian Seasoning (i.e. Oregano, Basil) Even better, use chopped fresh oregano and basil.
Shake it all up!

Enjoy!