All-Veggie-Everythang Kale “Tacos”

image
I am not a huge fan of heavy lunches when it’s the middle of the hundred plus degree summers, so this is one of my favorite light meals on super hot days here in AZ.

I’m going to call this recipe kale “tacos”. Okay, so they’re basically salad boats made of vegetables and filled with vegetables…but I promise you they’re addictive. And who doesn’t like food that serves as an edible container?

Serve whole, washed Lacinato kale leaves (this is also sometimes called dinosaur kale) topped with chopped broccoli, green, yellow, and red bell peppers, cucumber, strawberries, & cilantro.

Drizzle with tahini lime dressing (1/2 tbsp of tahini/sesame paste mixed with juice of 1/2 lime & a little water).

Homemade Granola

In my opinion, there is absolutely no better breakfast than homemade granola sprinkled on top of some coconut yogurt and topped with berries. It’s easy, satisfying, and (best of all in the morning)….quick.

As it turns out, granola is pretty easy to make for yourself, and the secret isn’t what you put in it as much as it is the process. Making you own breakfast cereal can be a much healthier (and cost friendly) alternative to store-bought cereals and granolas that are packed with additional sugar and food additives.

Who needs that junk anyway?

IMG_1843

So here’s my basic, go-to recipe and process for making the perfect homemade granola.

Dry Ingredients:
5 cups whole oats (check for gluten free if necessary)
1 cups chopped almonds
1 cup pepitas (I use Trader Joe’s roasted and salted)
1 cup chopped pecans
3 tbsp cinnamon

Mix all above ingredients in a large bowl. Preheat oven to 350. Cover 2 cookie sheets in parchment paper or spray them down with oil and set aside

Mix these ingredients together in a saucepan until they’re warm:
1/2 cup honey (use agave syrup for vegan)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup coconut oil

Once the liquids are warm, toss them together with the dry ingredients & mix well.

After mixing, divide the granola in even layers between the two sheets. Put it in the oven.

You’re going to want to set a timer for 10 minutes. At this point, take both trays out of the oven and stir the granola around, mixing completely before putting it back in and setting another 10 minute timer.

You’ll repeat this process roughly 3-5 times (totally dependent on your oven) for a cooking time of roughly 30-45 minutes or until nicely browned.

IMG_1835

After removing the granola from the oven, toss in 1 cup of dried fruit (I like to use dried orange-infused cranberries, but anything goes here)

Allow the granola to cool and place into a container to store in the fridge where it’ll keep for several months.

Pro tip #1: even when it’s done, it won’t actually be crispy until it cools down. It can be really easy to overcook or burn by feel, because it stays pretty soft the entire time. A good indication is the color; when it looks golden and toasty.

Pro tip #2: It’s soo easy to burn the crap out of soo quickly (as I discovered), so the secret is constantly watching it, especially on the 3rd or 4th round in the oven. It can be a bit persnickety, but it gets significantly better each time you make it.

Pro tip #3: You can control the size of the granola clusters by stirring more or less when you take it out of the oven. For larger clusters, be mindful not to stir as vigorously and let the granola rest until cooled after removing from the oven when finished.

This recipe can be diversified by adding whatever nuts, spices, or dried fruits you prefer.

IMG_1836

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Serves: 2-4

IMG_1927

Highlights:

  • Gluten free
  • Low carb.
  • High in fiber
  • Super Easy!
  • Could easily be made vegan with the substitution of Daiya (or other brand) vegan cheese and replacing the egg with a flax or chia egg.

Pizza is definitely an all time favorite comfort food, but the kind you have delivered to your door has a reputation for being notoriously greasy, and full of carbs and fat. This cauliflower pizza crust is a fantastic way to replace the greasy bread with a mellow flavored, nutrient-packed vegetable instead.

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that is naturally low in fat and carbohydrates and an excellent source of vitamin C,  fiber, and folate. It is also a good source of choline, vitamin B6, vitamin K, potassium, manganese, vitamin B5, protein and iron. It possesses a high nutrient density, meaning that it contains a very high number of nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and a very low amount of energy (calories and fat).  Nutrient dense foods, such a fruits and veggies, pack the highest levels of nutrients for the least amount of calories, making them the opposite of “empty calorie” or energy-dense foods, such as processed or sugary snacks, which carry relatively low amounts of nutrients with an excessive amount of calories or fat.

I’ve spent some time perfecting this recipe before posting, as I initially was having some trouble with my cauliflower crust sticking to the pan. The secret I discovered through trial and error: the lightly coated parchment paper is a must! The crust stuck horribly to a coated pizza pan, stone, or tin foil, but slid effortlessly off the parchment paper. The result was a pizza crust that was crispy and golden brown on the outside, soft on the inside, and easy to slice, pick up, and eat with your hands.

Oh, and an added bonus…it’s naturally gluten free!

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup homemade or store bought tomato sauce
  • ½ cup fresh mozzarella
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Sun-dried tomatoes

IMG_1925

Directions:
1) Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees and line a pizza pan or baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly coat parchment paper in olive oil.  (I highly recommend the use of parchment paper; I had a lot of trouble with the crust sticking to the pizza pan or aluminum foil the first couple of times I made this.)

2) Either grate the cauliflower using an old-fashioned cheese grater or place in the food processor until it’s a fine, grated consistency; A rice-like consistency will work just fine, but I’ve found that the finer the cauliflower is, the closer the texture in your mouth feels to real pizza crust.

3) Optional: Place the grated cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 3-5 minutes, until softened. Remove from the microwave and let cool for a few minutes. (For an even crispier crust, skip this microwaving step entirely and move on to Step #4.)

4) Add eggs (or flax egg), Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and minced garlic to the warm cauliflower and mix well. Form into a 12-inch circle on the prepared pizza pan. Lightly brush olive oil over the surface of the crust and bake for 12-18 minutes, or until nice and golden brown.

5) Remove pizza crust from oven and top pizza with sauce, mozzarella, and basil. Add sundried tomatoes, onion and crushed red pepper flakes, or choose whatever toppings you prefer. Place the pizza back into the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and melted. Let cool for a few minutes before slicing up; the pizza should easily slide off the parchment paper and onto a serving plate.

IMG_1943

Garlic and Chive Cashew “Cheese” Dip

Garlic and Chive Cashew “Cheese” Dip

Image

I will start by saying I am a huge lover of cashew cheese and this recipe did not disappoint. It is free of  dairy, is totally vegan, and full of protein, healthy fat, and flavor.

This “cheese” dip gets it’s flavor from nutritional yeast, which can be purchased at health food stores or many places online (I’ve bought it on Amazon before). Nutritional yeast, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is a deactivated yeast that has an almost cheesy flavor. It is an awesome addition to soups, rice, as a topping for popcorn, or anything that needs that extra little bit of “cheese”. Nutritional yeast is a favorite among people on a plant-based or vegan diet because it can serve not only as a replacement to cheese, but also as a dietary supplement. It is actually a complete protein, full of B-complex vitamins (crucial for cell metabolism and energy, and a group of vitamins that can sometimes be a challenge to get enough of for non meat-eaters), and free of gluten, dairy, and sugar.

Ingredients
(Makes about 8 servings)

-2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
-1 cup raw cashews
-1/2 tbsp olive oil
-1 clove garlic
-2 tsp chopped chives

Directions
-Soak raw cashews overnight
-Drain water from cashews
-Combine all ingredients in a food processor until creamy and dip is smooth without any pieces of cashews left

Yeah…SUPER EASY!

Imagecp

Enjoy as a dip with either veggies or crackers. 🙂

Here’s the nutrition facts, for anyone who was wondering:

Image

Gluten Free Banana Pancakes

Banana Pancakes

(recipe yield about 4 small pancakes)
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: <5 minutes

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 3.21.20 PM
Pancakes have always been a favorite of mine, and I’m not just talking breakfast; I could seriously eat pancakes for every single meal. That’s why I was so excited to find a version that was not only lighter and healthier, but so much easier & quicker  to make.

Today’s recipe is just too easy not to share. Not only are these pancakes gluten free (totally grain free, actually), but they only require two ingredients, and contain no added oil or sugar! Oh, and they take WAY less time than the regular variety.

Ingredients:
-2 eggs (or egg whites, or flax egg for vegan)
-1 medium banana (ripe or even a little overripe is perfect)

Directions:
-In a small mixing bowl, mash together 1 medium banana and 2 eggs until mixed (I just use a fork, no fancy equipment here)
-Add mixture to a griddle or pan on medium heat and flip once lightly browned.
-Serve with banana slices, fresh berries, or whatever you like.

Though these only require 2 ingredients to make, I also love to experiment by adding other things to the batter or on top. Some favorites have been almond butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, fresh or frozen berries, cinnamon, or whatever else is on hand. The possibilities are endless. 🙂