Cucumber Peach Goodness Smoothie

On a busy weekday mornings, a smoothies hits the spot. Since it’s officially Spring, I am using my blender more and experimenting with new smoothie recipes.  Peaches are so naturally sweet that you don’t need honey or any other type of sweetener for this smoothie. IMG_20160129_091535 (1)

Cucumber Peach Goodness Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1/2 peeled cucumber
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup frozen, peeled, and chopped peaches
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
Place all ingredients in high speed blender.
Blend on high.
Enjoy your breakfast.

 

 

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Fried Egg and Veggie Toast

There are so many ways to cook eggs and I don’t think I can say which is my preferred method.  I’m sure you have your favorite ways to eat eggs, but just expand your mind a bit and imagine the countless ways and the variety of recipes that utilize eggs.  Here I share one of those ways. Eggs are what I often eat for breakfast or lunch.  For example, use whatever vegetables you have in your fridge and get creative by looking for ways to incorporate veggies into your diet.

In this recipe I used yellow bell peppers, portobello mushrooms, onions, and kale.  If you have zucchini, eggplant, spinach, or anything else that can be sauteed, go for it.  After you do it a couple of times, you won’t need a recipe, because it just becomes second nature.  My kids love these veggie toasts as much as I do and it makes me feel like a good mom because I’m feeding them veggies for breakfast.

 

Fried Egg and Veggie Toast

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Serving Size: Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of bread. (I use gluten free bread but any bread of your choice will do.)
  • 1/4 of a yellow or red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 portobello mushroom, sliced
  • 1 kale leaf roughly chopped (remove rib from center)
  • 1/4 yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 eggs, fried
Chop veggies and sautee in olive oil or coconut oil.
Fry eggs.
Toast bread slices
Place veggies on toast. Top with egg.
*Optional (Serve with Salsa)

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Vegan Overnight Buckwheat Groats

I’m crazy about overnight oats for several reasons, but mainly because they are so simple to prepare and are so nutritious. Preparation requires about five minutes of your time and you won’t be disappointed. The best part is that it’s all done when you wake up and are ready to feed your family. It’s very easy to change the recipe around by adding cocoa, as in the case for this recipe or a simple teaspoon of vanilla for a simpler version, which works well with a variety of fruit toppings. But sometimes you just gotta have chocolate, or maybe you always gotta it. Either way, you’ll love the flavor and texture.

In this recipe I used Raw Buckwheat Groats. Widely available at your grocery store or health food store such as Whole Foods.  Look for them in the bulk section where they are super affordable.  I prefer Raw Buckwheat over the toasted groats because of its delicate flavor and nuttiness. Buckwheat is actually not a grain but a seed, therefore it’s great for those who are sensitive to wheat such as myself.

Buckwheat is great for your cardiovascular system, regulates flood sugar, and has health promoting nutrients equal to or higher than many veggies. Can you believe that one cup of groats contains 23 grams pf protein and 17 grams of fiber?

Raw Buckwheat groats

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Chia seeds, yogurt, almond milk, mashed bananas, and honey are added into the groats to create a powerhouse of nutrients.

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Your oats and chia will absorb the almond milk and expand overnight in the fridge.

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Layer with berries, bananas, almonds, and coconut cream or yogurt.

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Your family will feel like you are feeding them dessert for breakfast.

So delicious!

 

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Vegan Overnight Buckwheat Groats

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups almond milk
  • 4 Tbl chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbl raw buckwheat groats
  • 2 mashed bananas (not too finely mashed)
  • 2Tbl cocoa powder
  • 1tsp organic honey
I medium sized bowl, combine buckwheat and chia seeds with almond milk.
Mix in yogurt. Then add mashed bananas, cocoa powder, and honey.
Cover bowl and store in fridge overnight.
Layer with berries, bananas, coconut bream, or yogurt.

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“Featherlite” Pancakes (Adapted from Rosa Parks recipe)

This week the Library of Congress released some interesting information regarding one of America’s most famous civil rights activist, Rosa Park, whom we all know as the woman who wouldn’t give up her seat to a white man.

Rosa said, “You must never be fearful of what you are doing if it is right.” She said she was simply tired of “giving up.”

"Featherlite Pancakes"

In the hundreds of letters and manuscripts obtained by the Library of Congress was a handwritten recipe for “Featherlite” Pancakes.  Rosa had included a special ingredient in there that makes these pancakes unique. Can you guess what that ingredient is? When I read about these pancakes this morning and saw the recipe, I felt the challenge to remake them in a healthy way.

In honor of Black history month and Rosa Parks, I hope to do this recipe justice.

Featherlite Pancakes

The first thing I did was substitute regular flour for gluten-free all purpose flour. I get mine at a neighborhood health food store but it’s widely available at any grocery store.

I replaced shortening with coconut oil, regular cow’s milk with almond milk, and sugar with honey.

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The dry ingredients are sifted together to ensure you get the smoothest of pancakes.

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Combine wet ingredients and add almond milk to it. When well combines and smooth add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.

Did you guess what the special ingredient is yet?

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 Once the bubbles start to pop, flip your pancakes over. The baking powder makes all the difference in the rising of your pancakes and produces fluffy pancakes.

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Serve with fruit and toppings of your choice. I decided to cut up bananas. I think they make a good combination with “peanut butter,” Rosa’s special ingredient. Drizzle with maple syrup or honey.

I found out that it was unusual for that time to have peanut butter be an ingredient inside the batter. Normally peanut butter or fruit would be incorporated as a topping. Maybe Rosa Parks was ahead of her time.

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These “Featherlite” pancakes are truly light and the peanut butter gives it so much depth and richness.   Any recipe can become healthier and be nourishing by substituting basic ingredients for wholesome ones.  I hope this inspires you you try Rosa’s pancakes and discover ways to make healthy choices daily.

Healthy and Gluten free “Featherlite” Pancakes (Adapted from Rosa Parks recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbl baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups almond milk
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter, melted
  • 1 Tbl coconut oil
In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix wet ingredients except for almond milk. After wet ingredients are well combined add almond milk. Mix all wet ingredients together.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and fold until just combined.
Cook pancakes evenly on both sides.
Serve with bananas or fruit of your choice and maple syrup.

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Cocoa Date Protein Truffles

Can you believe you can satisfy a chocolate craving without sugar? There is nothing artificial in these date truffles. No added sugar, no soy lecithin(an emulsifier used in chocolate and many other chocolate treats), no preservatives, no wheat, no gluten. The only sweetener in this recipe are dates. If you’ve never had dates don’t let them scare you or scare your family with its looks. They aren’t pretty, but rather wrinkly.  First and foremost, they’re easily digested, allowing your body to make full use of its nutrients. They stabilize blood sugar, help your eyes and skin stay healthy and strong, and contain many essential vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium, and magnesium.

Besides the health benefits of dates, they just taste creamy and sweet. I use them often to sweeten treats, homemade almond milk, and smoothies.

Cocoa Date Protein Truffles can be rolled in a variety of nuts. These are rolled in toasted hazelnuts and toasted almonds, but you can use whatever you have in your pantry. Sometimes when I don’t have any nuts, I just make them plain, without the nuts.

 

 

Cocoa Date ProteinTruffles

Prep Time: 12 minutes

Yield: 22 Truffles

Ingredients

  • 20 medjool dates, seeded
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup almond butter or peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Toasted hazelnuts
  • Toasted almonds
Place the dates in the food processor. Pulse until they combine into a ball. Then add the almond butter, coconut, vanilla, and cinnammon and pulse a few seconds until combined. After those ingredients are all combined you can add the cocoa powder. Pulse a few more times until your mixture looks uniform and chocolatey.
Shape into balls.
On a separate plate place your crushed toasted nuts and roll balls around until coated with nut mixture.
They are now ready or you can refrigerate and share them later.
I make these after school often as a snack. They are also great for a quick pick me up anytime of day.

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Cuban Black Beans and Rice

When I think of comfort food, I think of Cuban black beans and rice.  Some people want mac and cheese or chicken pot pie, but this is what I want to eat. Actually, I could go for this most nights, that’s how much I love it. For about ten years I’ve been making my own version of Cuban Black Beans, but after having a Cuban neighbor, who became one of my best friends, I learned some great tips along with a more authentic preparation. To ensure creaminess in this dish, you must simmer at a low temperature otherwise your liquid will quickly be absorbed and your beans and onions will start to burn.


Cuban Black Beans and Rice

Ingredients

  • 8 cups black beans (if you're in a pinch, canned beans work just fine but make sure you drain and rinse them to remove salt)
  • 1 medium to large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 2tbl olive oil
  • Spanish olives
  • White distilled vinegar
  • 2tsp cumin or more. It's up to you.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • In a heavy bottomed pan sautéed onion, garlic, and pepper until soft.
  • Add beans and simmer for a five minutes. Add water. Cover. If you want it kinda runny add about 1/2 cup or more. If not 1/4 cup at the most.
  • Simmer on low for about 10 minutes. Add about 10-12 Spanish olives and simmer a few more minutes.
  • Optional: When ready to serve, add a 1-2 tbl of vinegar.
  • Very important: sautéed veggies must be cooked well before adding beans or they'll be crunchy. The dish should be completely creamy.
  • (The green you see in the pot is the secret, or not so secret anymore. During the last 10 minutes of simmering throw in a few Spanish olives. Gives it a little zing of authentic flavor)
  • Makes me miss my Cuban friend every time I make it.
  • Serve on a bed of rice.
In a heavy bottomed pan sautéed onion, garlic, and pepper until soft.
Add beans and simmer for a five minutes. Add water. Cover. If you want it kinda runny add about 1/2 cup or more. If not 1/4 cup at the most.
Simmer on low for about 10 minutes. Add about 10-12 Spanish olives and simmer a few more minutes.
Optional: When ready to serve, add a 1-2 tbl of vinegar.
Very important: sautéed veggies must be cooked well before adding beans or they'll be crunchy. The dish should be completely creamy.
(The green you see in the pot is the secret, or not so secret anymore. During the last 10 minutes of simmering throw in a few Spanish olives. Gives it a little zing of authentic flavor)
Makes me miss my Cuban friend every time I make it.
Serve on a bed of rice.

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Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles) with Kale-Basil Pesto

It all starts with this Spirilizer. I really want one! I actually borrowed this one from my Sister-in-law. But you can also make zoodles with a julianne peeler or with a mandolin. If you don’t have any of these things, just slice your zucchini very thinly with a sharp knife. My Sister-in-law taught me how to make Zoodles at our Cooking Club.  A bunch of us take turns hosting and we meet once a month and demonstrate yummy meals and then we eat and chat. Doesn’t get better than that!

I made these Zoodles last night and we had them for dinner. I think I made dinner in under 20 minutes! That includes making hte pesto sauce and cooking the Zucchini noodles. The zucchini cooks up so quickly, maybe about one to two minutes and you’re done. i just sauteed it in a pan with a little bit of olive oil. Some people cook it in water or steam the zucchini, but i wanted a quick stir fry kind of a taste. Plus I think the zoodles hold up better and don’t get really mushy and wet like they do when they are steamed or cooked other ways.

I’m always trying to find a healthy alternative to pasta for two reasons. First of all because it’s healthier to eat a veggie noodle over regular pasta, and secondly because I have a gluten intolerance.  You will not be disappointed with these zoodles and neither will your family.  My kids devoured this dish and they are already huge pesto fans, so it was a win win.  I know your family will feel the same way.  Any type of sauce would work with zoodles. Last time I made them I served it with my homemade marinara sauce. But there’s something special about pesto. It’s spicy because of the fresh garlic and the basil has such a distinct Italian flavor, always taking me back to my childhood and my mom’s pesto.

 

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In a heavy bottomed dutch oven or saucepan, heat olive oil and add zucchini noodles and sautee for about 1-2 minutes.  Add a little salt and pepper and you’re done.

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In the meantime make your pesto. My food processor is my favorite kitchen appliance. I pretty much use it daily. Pesto is so easy to prepare because it all goes into the processor and it’s done in about three minutes from start to finish. But I have to share a tip with you. It’s very important that your olive oil be combines after you have mixed all the other ingredients or your pesto will turn brown, which isn’t very aesthetically appealing. It doesn’t hurt the flavor at all, it just doesn’t look pretty.

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I love a colorful meal because it really gets the whole family excited about the dish. I cut up some some cherry tomatoes and drizzled a bit of olive oil over the top.

 

The Zoodles were so delicious and the raw cherry tomatoes as a topping really added some crunch and sweetness to the spiciness of the herbs and garlic.

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Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles) with Kale-Basil Pesto

Ingredients

  • 6 meduim zucchini
  • 2 large Kale leaves
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Approx 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup almonds (you can use pine nuts or walnuts)
  • about 1/8 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste
Before you add any ingredients you will want to put in your nuts. If you wait and pulse them later, they will be too big. Then add garlic to process and pulse for a few seconds. Now you are ready for your kale and basil leaves. Pulse for about 20 seconds. Then add the water. Pulse again for a few seconds. Slowly pour in the oil and pulse until the sauce comes together. After everything is combined, add the parmesan cheese. At this point, you don't want to disturb the sauce much so pulse only until combined.
Add salt and pepper to taste
Serve with zoodles. Can be used with other veggies as well.

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Sicilian Chickpeas from Scratch

I’ve had several requests about the way I cook my beans and legumes. I know I keep saying this is a favorite and I don’t want to continue using that word, but this is a family favorite. Soaking and cooking beans is so easy and so inexpensive. Soak your beans overnight in a large bowl and make sure you have enough water in the bowl to not only cover the beans but fill  with water one and one half times the amount of beans. They will expand and the next day will have absorbed tons of water.

In the morning or afternoon, or whenever you are ready to cook your beans, drain and rinse them. They are now ready to cook.

Sicilian Chickpeas from Scratch

Yield: Serves 8-10

Ingredients

  • 1 lb chickpeas(garbanzo beans)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 onion, quartered
  • Two celery ribs with tops, cut into thirds
  • 2-3 quarts of water
  • salt and pepper
Soak chickpeas overnight. Drain the next day and rinse well.
Add chickpeas into pot along with onion and garlic.
Stir in about 2 tsp of salt after one hour of cooking. Cook in several quarts of water for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until soft.
In Separate pot add cooked chickpeas and about one third of the water from the original pot.
Toss in the celery ribs and tops. It's important that you include the tops. They add such great flavor.
Crush two garlic cloves and add to pot.
Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.

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Homemade Marinara Sauce

I have looked and experimented for years with a homemade marinara sauce. All the ones I have tried in the past are more like a spaghetti sauce or like the sauces I grew up making with my mom, which even though delicious, require two to three hours of simmering. I’m just too busy for that especially after my kids gets home. This sauce is super simple to make. I guarantee you it will become a family favorite.

There are only three essential ingredients. First, you’ll need tomatoes. The best tomatoes for making anything Italian are Roma tomatoes. They are sweet and don’t have as many seeds as a regular large or hothouse, or vine tomato. Growing up my mom always planted Romas and we had heavenly sauces and salads throughout the summer and fall in Southern California.  Secondly, you’ll also need one large can unsalted whole and peeled tomatoes. You’ll want a little acidity and with the tomatoes already stewed, it speeds up your cooking, and you’ll be eating in 30 minutes. last but not least, Italian food can’t be Italian food without garlic. I use several large cloves, but you can adjust it to your family’s taste.

Homemade Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

  • 6 medium to large Roma tomoatoes
  • 1-27oz. large can unsalted stewed tomatoes(plain or Italian recipe)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Dry Oregano
  • Dry Basil
  • 3 Tbl Olive Oil
  • sugar or other sweetener optional
Put 3-4 cloves in food processor. Pulse a few seconds.
Add canned tomatoes and fresh Roma Tomatoes. Pulse for 20 seconds.
Warm up olive oil in Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pan.
Add ingredients.
Simmer on low for 20 minutes.
Add seasonings. (I like to use basil and oregano). If you need to sweeten it a bit, sweeten to taste with sweetener of choice. I use a teaspoon of coconut sugar. You can use regular granulated sugar or brown sugar.

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Fennel and Cilantro Salad

One of the things I love about this salad is the crispness and of the fennel and the tanginess of the lemons with every bite. It takes me right back to warmer days, which I am missing right about now. I make it pretty often and even though most people are familiar with fennel as a cooked vegetable, 

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