Vegan Pizza with Grilled Asparagus

VeganPizzaWGrilledAsparagas

This Vegan Pizza with Grilled Asparagus is easy to make and so delicious the whole family will love it.  On those nights when cooking an elaborate dinner is just not an option I, like a lot of moms, turn to pizza.  Grilled vegetables on pizza are on of my favorite toppings. Although I must admit, my grilling skills are not at all where I would like them to be.  To be honest, the grill intimidates me.  I am definitely more comfortable in the kitchen.  I am planning to use this summer to learn and perfect my grillin’ skills.  Thankfully my husband is a Grill Master.  He is not really a grill master but he definitely loves grilling and does it well.  I think I can learn a lot from him and I know he will be a great teacher.  Needless to say my sweet husband grilled up these beautiful asparagus for me and boy, were they amazing.

The Ingredients:

2 brown rice tortillas
1 c marinara sauce
1/2 c Daiya mozzarella cheese
1/2 bunch of asparagus
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spoon the marinara sauce onto each tortilla, sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese and top with the grilled asparagus.  Place the tortillas in the oven for about 3-5 minutes until the cheese has melted.  Remove the tortillas from the oven and serve.

Enjoy!

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Lemon Herbed Quinoa

LemonHerbedQuinoa

The first time I ever made quinoa it was a disaster.  For the life of me I could not figure out how to make it look as light and fluffy as I had seen it in Whole Foods.  My poor quinoa came out looking mushy and not all that appetizing.  I eventually figured out what I had been doing wrong, once the quinoa is done cooking to turn the heat off but leave it on the warm burner, fluff it with a fork and covered it for an additional 5 minutes.  Once I perfected cooking quinoa, I quickly fell in love.  I usually make a fresh batch of quinoa about every week and I store it in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.  Quinoa is so versatile that we always have it on hand for a quick bite.  This Lemon Herbed Quinoa is a perfect dish to have as a side, bring to a BBQ, or to just snack on.

The Ingredients:

1 c quinoa
2 c vegetable broth

The Dressing:

1 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 c basil, chopped
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tsp thyme, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sauce pan cook quinoa according to package.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together all the Dressing ingredients.

Once quinoa has cooled fold in the dressing and serve.

Enjoy!

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Stuffed Sweet Potato Taco

StuffedSweetPotato

Now that BBQ season is officially here I have been so inspired to lighten up some of those heavy winter meals.  Nothing says summer more than light, refreshing Mexican dishes.  Between the freshness of the vegetables and the creamy yet spicy avocado crema this Stuffed Sweet Potato Taco makes my mouth sing.

Mexican food reminds me of our first summer in Colorado.  We had a rough winter and I think the entire state was longing for warmer days.  At the time, we were living in Boulder and there was this great little Mexican restaurant right across the street from our apartment.  Once the warm weather hit you could find us there, sitting outside on the patio, drinking margaritas and eating a lot of chips and salsa.  Their salsa was delicious.  When we moved a town over, we were in search for a new favorite place.  Without fail we fell in love with a new local “Authentic Mexican” restaurant.  This one was even better:  they have a bigger, more kid-friendly outdoor patio where they have live music on the weekends.   Now that I am a mom, these types of family friendly establishments really excite me.  Ah, the little things.

The Ingredients:

1 sweet potato
1 c Black Bean Salsa
2-3 tbsp Avocado Crema

Black Bean Salsa:

1 c black beans
1 c sweet corn
1/2 red onion, diced
1-2 tomatoes, diced
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
sea salt and pepper to taste

Avocado Crema:

1/2 avocado
1/2 jalapeño
1/4 c boiling water
1/2 c cashews, soaked overnight
1/2 tsp sea salt
pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Poke holes in the sweet potato before placing it in the oven.  You don’t want this little guy exploding on you.  Cook for 45- 60 minutes or until the potato is soft to the touch.  Use oven mitts (wink).

In a medium mixing bowl, add all the Salsa ingredients and mix well.

In a small bowl pour the boiling water over the jalapeño.  Let it sit for 5 minutes.  Place in a high-speed blender with the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth and fluffy.

Once the potato has cooled to the touch, slice it in half and begin assembling the “taco”

Enjoy!

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Dairy-Free Chocolate Milk

VeganChocolateMilk

When my sister and I were diagnosed with Celiac Disease we decided that when the time came to have babies, we would raise them gluten-free until they were old enough to say, “My belly hurts.”  We had not considered the possibility of our babes needing to be dairy-free as well.  Very early on, my sister and I learned that her middle child (my nephew) and my little guy had dairy sensitivities.  We quickly researched all the dairy-free alternatives available and changed their diets accordingly.  It was easy for our boys to transition because they were too young to know the difference.

The other day I learned my niece, Izzie (my sisters oldest) also needs to get off of dairy for health reasons.  The news broke my heart.  How do you tell a 7-year-old they are no longer allowed to enjoy some of their favorite foods?  Izzie was the first baby of our family, the first niece, the first granddaughter.  I remember the moment I first held her in my arms.  The amount of love I instantly felt for this little girl was so overwhelming it brought me to tears.  My friends always refer to that protective mother instinct as “Mama Bear” and my sister and I certainly have that Bear in us.  We also have a severe case of “Aunt Mama Bear” when it comes to any of my nieces or nephews.

My Aunt Mama Bear kicked in and I quickly asked my sister for some of Izzie’s favorite foods that contain dairy.  I may live 1800 miles away but I wanted to help in any way I could.  Chocolate Milk and Cream Cheese are favorites and she does not like the alternatives my sister already has in the house.  Of course, right?  Hah, kids.  The cream cheese is a tough one, I will need to think about that.  However, chocolate milk, no problem.  I got this.  So I created this delicious Dairy-Free Chocolate Milk in an effort to help this little sweetie have a smoother transition into a dairy-free lifestyle.  An alternative to the alternative.  (She gave it 5 stars.)

The Ingredients:

4 c almond milk
6 tbsp cocoa
8 pitted dates
1/2 c raw cashews

Place all of the ingredients into a high-speed blender until smooth.  Store in an air-tight container up to a week.

Enjoy IzzieB!

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Risotto Marinara

RisottoMarinara

I’ll admit, I have a love affair with risotto and it all began with a trip to Italy.  Four years ago my husband and I went on our honeymoon to Italy.  We visited Torino, Rome and Florence.  It was an amazing, beautiful, life changing experience. I am so thankful we had that opportunity to travel a bit before we started a family.  Although, that trip did make me hungry for more traveling.

Being (only) gluten-free at the time we traveled to Italy, I was a little hesitant about the possibility of not getting to eat all of the amazing foods Italy has to offer.  My husband was amazing when it came to dining out.  Every time we sat down at a restaurant or cafe he would look over the menu with me to make sure there were a few things I could eat.  Once we were sure I could eat, Kevin would ooh and aah over all the amazing foods he had to choose from.  I think one of my favorite moments was when I saw his face light up after taking a huge bite of his first real Italian slice of pizza.  There were, of course, times I thought about cheating…especially when I saw that pizza.  But when I weighed the options to eat gluten and lose a day of sightseeing, seeing Italy always won.

It wasn’t until Florence where I fell in love with Risotto.  On our first day there, we ate at the sweetest little trattoria.  I can still remember this place as if it were yesterday.  It was tucked away in a narrow alley on a slight hill with outdoor patio.  This place was so special to me because after a week in Rome I was longing for some real Italian food.  A gluten-free dish with red sauce.  My husband was eating his way through Italy and I had been drooling over his meals with complete jealousy.  As we sat down and opened our menu, I could not believe my eyes!  Risotto Marinara.  Wait, What?!  I almost yelled from the top of my lungs,  I’m going to eat real ITALIAN FOOD!  I wish I could remember the name of this little place but if I close my eyes I can remember almost every detail of our table, where we sat, the view and of course my delicious Risotto Marinara.

The Ingredients:

2 c Arborio rice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, diced
2/3 c dry white wine
6 c vegetable broth
4-6 c marinara sauce
1/4 c vegan parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan warm the broth and set aside.

In a medium saucepan warm the marinara sauce and set aside

In a dutch oven (it heats more evenly) warm oil over medium-high heat.  Saute shallots until translucent.  Add the rice.  Mix well coating every grain and lightly toast rice for 1-2 minutes.  Add the dry white wine.  Stirring frequently.  The rice will absorb the wine in about 3 minutes.  Once the wine is absorbed, add two ladle of broth.  Again, stir until rice has absorbed the broth about 3-5 minutes.  Repeat until all of the broth is used. Once all of the broth is absorbed, remove it from the heat.  Lastly, pour the marinara over the risotto.

Garnish with vegan parmesan.

Serve piping hot.

Enjoy!

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Not-A-Fish Taco

NotAFishTaco

We have a restaurant in town who makes the most incredible fish tacos I had ever eaten.  When I was pregnant, I could not get enough of them.  The waitresses even knew exactly what I was going to order before I sat down (nowadays it’s a vegan salad).  What I loved most about those tacos was the freshness of the slaw along with the spicy, creamy avocado crema.  Although the fish in their tacos was grilled, this Not-A-Fish Taco is my spin on an old favorite.

The Ingredients:

Fried polenta
Fresh Slaw
Avocado Crema
Corn tortillas

The Polenta:

1 c polenta
2 c water
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 c cilantro, chopped

The Slaw:

1/2 head of red cabbage, sliced
1/2 head of green cabbage, sliced
1-2 carrots, julienne
1/2 jalapeño, minced and seeded or not (depending on the heat you prefer)
1/4 red onion, sliced
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
3 limes, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

The Crema:

1 avocado
1/2 c cashews, soaked overnight and rinsed
1/2 jalapeño, seeded or not (depending on the heat you prefer)
1/4 c boiling water
1/2 c water
1/2 tsp sea salt

Prepare the Slaw a day earlier so all the ingredients have a chance to marry.  Place all of the Slaw ingredients into a large mixing bowl, stir every few hours to prevent the vinegar from sitting on the bottom of the bowl.  Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

In a medium sauce pan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil then whisk in the polenta.  You will need to stir constantly for about five minutes until polenta starts to thicken.  Once the polenta has thickened, add the garlic and cilantro.  Whisk frequently so the polenta does not stick and the garlic is cooked though (about 10 minutes).  Transfer the polenta into a glass baking dish and place in the refrigerator for about 2-3 hours to solidify.  Once the polenta is cooled, cut the polenta into strips and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Once the oil is hot all the polenta and cook until the strips are golden brown on each side.  About 3-5 minutes per side.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, pour the boiling water over the jalapeño.  Let it sit for 5-10 minutes.  Pour the jalapeño along with the boiling water into a high-speed blender. Add the remaining Crema ingredients and blend until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.  Add more water to for a thinner consistency.

Warm the tortillas on the stovetop or in the oven for about 2-3 minutes.  Assemble the tacos and drizzle each one with the Avocado Crema.

Enjoy!

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Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

SpringRoll

Lately, I have been seeing spring rolls over Instagram. (Follow me if you aren’t already. 😉 )  So, I finally caved and attempted to make my own Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce.  These little guys were originally inspired by www.ThePlantStrongVegan.com and like her, I too have become addicted.  This is such an unbelievably easy meal to whip together and you will be surprised of how healthy yet filling they are.  There are so many different combinations that would taste amazing in these rolls.  So get in your kitchen and let those creative juices start flowing.

SpringRollPrep

The Ingredients:

3 pieces of rice paper
1/4 c carrots, julienne
1/4 c purple cabbage, sliced
1/4 c broccoli stem, julienne
1/4 avocado, sliced

The Sauce:

1/4 c homemade peanut butter
1/4 c water
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 inch piece ginger, minced
1 tbsp agave
1 tbsp soy-free soy sauce (recipe coming soon) or Braggs Liquid Aminos
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Soften rice paper according to package.

Once rice paper is soft, place on a flat surface and add the ingredients onto the center of the Spring Roll and wrap it like an envelope. Fold in left side, than right side, then roll.  Place on a dish and set aside.

In a medium bowl, add all Sauce ingredients and whisk together.  If you are looking for a smoother consistency, place in a blender.

Serve cold and Enjoy!

 

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Asparagus Risotto

RisottoWAsparagus

This Asparagus Risotto was one of the delicious meals my family and I enjoyed this past Mother’s Day weekend.  Risotto is a dish that tends to be rich and heavy but you can always lighten it up with some fresh vegetables.  I feel the freshness of the vegetable can make all the difference. Blanching vegetables is a great way to add color, crunch and flavor to a risotto dish.

The Ingredients:

2 c Arborio rice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, diced
2/3 c dry white wine
6 c vegetable broth
1/2 c lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces and blanched
1/4 c vegan Parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan warm broth.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring 4-6 cups of water to a boil. Add asparagus.  Cook for 3 minutes then remove from boiling water and place directly into a bowl of ice water.  This will shock the cooking process and leave you with bright green, crunchy asparagus.

In a Dutch oven (it heats more evenly) warm oil over medium high heat.  Sauté the shallots until they are translucent.  Add Arborio rice.  Mix well coating every grain and lightly toast rice for 1-2 minutes.  Add dry white wine.  Stirring frequently.  Rice will absorb the wine in about 3 minutes.  Once the wine is absorbed, add two ladle of broth.  Again, stir until rice has absorbed the broth about 3-5 minutes.  Repeat until all of the broth is used.

Remove Dutch oven from heat.

Fold in the lemon juice and asparagus.  Garnish with vegan Parmesan.

Serve piping hot.

Enjoy!

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Wholesome Bowl with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Wholesome Bowl with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I had a beautiful, chilly Mother’s Day weekend filled with shopping, good food, great company and the perfect amount of sweets.  My husband and son did such an amazing job of making me feel really special and appreciated.  I had a fun weekend celebrating me but it is time reset my gut and get back to my healthy lifestyle.  This Wholesome Bowl with Roasted Brussels Sprouts is the perfect way to do it.  There is something about salads that make me feel good inside and out.  Packed with enough protein, fats and veggies it can fill me up and give me plenty of energy.  I love the thought of having a salad after a hard workout or just as a light summer dinner.  This however, was not always the case and I was not always so in touch with my body.  Nowadays, I can tell pretty quickly if a meal was not balanced just by the way I feel afterwards.

When I was younger, I swam competitively for about 13 years (4th grade – college) and although I looked healthy my diet certainly wasn’t.  Pasta was a huge part of my diet, raw vegetables and salads did make an appearance on my plate too often.  There was a lot of meat, cheese, complex carbs, processed foods and sugar.  My swimming career eventually came to an end and soon after I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.  I gained weight and a lot of it.  It took some time but with no longer swimming 2 hours every day and now eating a ton of gluten-free over-processed foods I became depressed about my weight (200+lbs) and a bit lost nutritionally.  I basically had to retrain myself on everything I thought I knew about nutrition and healthy eating.  I am still learning new things every day.

My journey has been a long and bumpy one.  There has been many ups and downs but I can honesty say at this point in my life I am good.  I am not where I want to be, I am still working on belly from being pregnant but I am okay with that.  We are all a work in progress.  If we weren’t, what would be the point of all of this?  I am always trying to better myself.  Whether it be my weight, my parenting, my relationships, my lifestyle or my cooking I am always making strides to a better me.  I love the feeling of always moving forward and working towards a goal in a healthy, beneficial way.

Life is a journey it is not the destination. So enjoy each moment along the way.

The Ingredients:

2 c mixed greens
1/2 c black beans
1/2 c quinoa
1/4 c carrots
1/4 c cucumber
1/4 c tomatoes
1/4 c red bell pepper
1/4 c Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 tbsp chia seeds

The Dressing:

1 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
splash of apple cider vinegar
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

Place all ingredients in a bowl and enjoy!

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Gluten-free Coconut Pancakes with Strawberries

Coconut Panckakes w Strawberries

Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing Mamas out there!

I wanted to make something special to honor all the Moms in my life and although most of them are not geographically close to me to eat these delicious pancakes, I could feel them in the kitchen with me as I cooked.  I made these beautiful Gluten-free Coconut Pancakes with Strawberries yesterday with my little sous chef and even though it was not Mother’s Day, I certainly felt special eating them with my little man. Mother’s Day is such an amazing day. It has always been filled with so many emotions for me.  There is love, honor, respect, admiration but it is always joined with sadness and loss of mothers, grandmothers and children.

Growing up, Mother’s Day had always been a day of great joy!  I loved having the opportunity to do something really special for my overworked mom who actually got a chance to rest on this Sunday every year.  The only gift she ever asked for was to spend time with her children and for my Dad to take care of the meals that day.  I have such fond memories of us all being together and enjoying each other (without bickering) and even though she got to rest this day her gift is the reason we all enjoyed Mother’s Day so much.

I also loved celebrating my Nanny (grandmother) on Mother’s Day.  A woman who had overcome such great obstacles in her life and still had the heart to smile, dance, laugh and tell you honestly how you looked. Hah!  She had a heart of gold but was a little rough around the edges.  About four years ago my Nanny passed of Colon Cancer.  The two years that followed, this holiday was met with my usual love and admiration for the mothers in my life but also a deep sadness.  My sadness was that my Nanny is no longer physically with us but even more for my mom who had lost her mom.  Like all moms my Nanny had her good days and bad but she was always there for each of us and for me, she was one of my greatest supporters. I miss her terribly and will forever honor her on this day.

Two years ago was my first Mother’s Day as a Mom. The amount of love and gratitude I feel on this day has become so incredible it is hard to put into words.  Becoming a Mama was and is the best thing that has ever happened to me. There is nothing in this world that I love more than this little boy. He is my light, my love, my everything.  He is such an amazing little guy and I cherish him everyday.  I am so thankful to have a son who allows me to smother him with kisses on a daily basis and who smothers me right back.  I am blessed.

I hope no matter how you spend your Mother’s Day whether you are near your loved ones or not, that you take a moment to tell the Mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and other mamas in your life how incredible they are and how much they have impacted your life.  For without this woman none of us would be here.  I also think it is important to recognize the children, if it weren’t for them these amazing mothers would have never had an opportunity to shine.

I hope you all have a beautiful Sunday.

The Ingredients:

1 c brown rice flour
1/4 c coconut flour
1/4 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 c Almond milk
1 egg substitute
2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
1 c strawberries, sliced

In one bowl mix all of the dry ingredients well.  In a separate bowl mix all of the wet ingredients. Slowly pour the wet into the dry and mix well.

Heat flattop grill pan over medium-high heat.  Coat the pan with coconut oil.  Once the pan is hot pour about 1/2 cup of batter onto pan for each pancake, you can usually fit about 4 pancakes at a time.   When you start to see little bubbles form in the center of the pancake it is time to flip.  About 1-2 minutes.  Repeat until batter is used.

Serve with sliced strawberries and maple syrup.

Enjoy!

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