Vegan Cinnamon Spiced Horchata

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I updated this traditional Mexican drink by making it dairy-free, but it's still full of flavor and nutrients! When you begin to try new recipes out, you'll realize that you can upgrade a lot of other recipes you used to make, by taking out inflammatory ingredients such as dairy, flour, and sugar. This recipe is the perfect example!

The soaked rice blended together with water and almond milk provide a silky smooth texture, and the dates add a natural sweetness. Cinnamon is one of my favorite spices to use especially during the holiday season, it just has that warming effect on your soul. This drink is a great alcohol free option to offer your guests during the holidays and if you want to add alcohol to half of your batch, feel free to add some rum to the mix.

I remember when I first started transitioning my diet, I would make classic dishes I loved and craved but would use healthier substitutes. For example, I would make pancakes and oatmeal using GF oats, almond milk, flaxseed eggs, and maple syrup instead of eggs, milk, and flour. The flavor was still there, but the inflammatory ingredients were gone! I began to have more energy, was able to work out harder, think more clearly, and was getting sick a lot less! The better and better I felt, the more motivated I became and I just kept searching for healthy restaurants and recipes, because when you have a variety of options available, you won't be missing anything. I promise you! You'll only be excited about trying all these new things!

So I hope you enjoy testing this recipe out and please let me know what you think in the comments below! 


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Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup basmati rice
  • 6 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup unsweetened plain 
  • 8-9 pitted medjool dates 
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cinnamon stick 

Instructions

  1. Soak the rice in 2 cups of hot water for at least 2 hours. The rice should be soft and easily break in half. Drain and add to a blender.
  2. Add 4 cups water, almond milk, dates, vanilla, and the cinnamon stick, top with lid and cover with a towel to ensure it doesn't splash. Blend for about 5 minutes until the mixture is extremely smooth and there aren't any large pieces of dates or cinnamon. 
  3. Taste your horchata to see if it needs more dates for sweetness or if its too sweet you can add more almond milk. 
  4. In two batches, pour the mixture over a bowl or pitcher covered with ca cheesecloth or a nut milk bag. This will sift out all of the pulp and make your horchata nice and smooth. 
  5. Strain the mixture until only pulp remains in the cloth, squeezing to get every last drop out. Set nut milk bag aside with pulp aside. 
  6. Next, whisk together the mixture and pour into a mason jar and keep in your fridge for up to 3 days. Serve your horchata over ice with a cinnamon stick for garnish and enjoy!

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Protein Salad Bowl

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I decided to use all my favorite ingredients and make a protein filled salad bowl. Since I'm eating strictly plant-based now (I decided to cut out dairy, meat and eggs for good) I've been incorporating more beans and potatoes into the mix, especially on days I work out hard. You know what I've noticed? I have WAY more energy (YES!), less breakouts (I think eggs were the culprit), and in a better mood. Food really does affect your gut and the way you energetically feel. I go back and forth experimenting with incorporating animal foods into my diet, but I honestly always feel best just eating strictly plant-based. 

Not only do beans and potatoes contain high amounts of protein, greens like spinach and broccoli do as well. So you can imagine how much protein is in this salad! 

You can also substitute the white potato with sweet potato. I bought these purple skinned potatoes from the local farmers market, so I wanted to use them up. 

What really brings this salad together is the vegan rawmesan 'cheese,' which I've been sprinkling on just about anything I can. Its made with nutritional yeast, which is high in vitamin B. When eating strictly pant-based you need to be very conscious that you're receiving all the nutrients your body needs. When your body is deficient in vitamin B you'll notice you're constantly tired, moody, sleep poorly, and your skin may even begin to look flushed and pale. Avoid these symptoms by eating more vitamin B rich foods like greens, nutritional yeast, nuts, seeds, and other foods listed here

I hope you enjoy this recipe, and remember to generously sprinkle that rawmesan 'cheese' on top!


Makes 2 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups mixed greens (divided) 
  • 3 small potatoes (or 1 medium potato of your choice: sweet potato, red potato, white potato)
  • 3 sprigs of thyme 
  • 2 portobello mushrooms
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1/2 head of broccoli 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli powder 
  • 1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 ear of sweet corn
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 Tbsp Vegan rawmesan 'cheese'

Instructions: 

Roasted Potatoes:

1. Preheat oven to 375'F. 

2. Cut your potato in to small pieces, and spread in baking dish and drizzle avocado oil or olive oil on top, and salt and pepper. Mix in the sprigs of thyme, and roast until golden brown for about 40 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes. 

Portobello Mushrooms:

1. Chop mushrooms into bite sized pieces and cook in your skillet with salt and pepper on medium heat stirring frequently for about 15-20 minutes.

2. Set aside once cooked. 

Chickpeas and broccoli: 

1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and add in broccoli, and cook until softened. For about 5-7 minutes. Drain broccoli once softened. 

2. Add 1 Tbsp of avocado or olive oil, cooked broccoli, chickpeas, spices, and salt and pepper into your pan and cook on medium heat with a splash of water for about 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste. 

Sweet Corn:

1. Husk corn. 

2. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and add corn. Cook for about 5-7 minutes. Cut the kernels off the core and set aside. 

Assembly:

1. Add 1 1/2 cups of mixed greens to each bowl and then divide all the toppings to each bowl. Add the avocado and the vegan rawmesan on top. 

2. Use your favorite dressing. I used a simple French vinaigrette dressing and it tasted great! Enjoy!

 

 

Banana Coconut Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies


Ingredients:

  • 2 large ripe bananas (mashed)

  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil

  • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

  • 1/3 cup shredded dried coconut

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts

  • 1/4 mulberries or dried fruit of choice

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)

  • Pinch fine sea salt


Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  

2. In a large bowl, stir together bananas and coconut oil until smooth. Stir in oats, dried coconut, walnuts, mulberries, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, chia seeds and salt.

3. With your hands, roll mixture into 12 balls, each about the size of a Ping-Pong ball, and place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.

4. With the bottom of a glass or the palm of your hand, flatten cookies until they are about 2 inches in diameter. (If they flatten unevenly or edges crack, you can press them into a neater round shape but it’s not necessary.)   

5. Bake until cookies are lightly browned and dried, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and let cool completely.

6. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Butternut Squash and Vegetable Thai Coconut Curry with Tamari Tempeh

This recipe blew me away. I adapted it slightly from a one I came across, and was worried because I didn't use all the ingredients it called for it wouldn't come out the same, but it came out even more flavorful than I expected!

The butternut quash and leek combination is the perfect seasonal mix for the wintertime. The thai infused flavors of the coconut, lime, ginger, and garlic provide so much flavor! As you know by now when I cook, I'm all about FLAVOR! 

Not sure what to make during your busy work week? This quick recipe doesn't take long to whip up and is way better than ordering takeout. It also makes about 6 servings, so you'll have leftovers for lunch or dinner during the week ahead. 

Also, people tend to think that ordering takeout food that claims to be "healthy" is nourishing. However, eating lots of takeout can actually stunt your weight loss goals. A lot of the food you order out has poor quality oils and salts added to it. This not only adds unnecessary calories to your meals, it also harms your digestive system and causes indigestion and weight gain.

Don't get me wrong, I recommend incorporating oils in your diet, but high quality ones like organic olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and flaxseed oil. You should be controlling your intake of these oils though, and when you eat out you're unfortunately allowing someone else to. A lot of the time the preferred oil of choice in restaurants is canola oil or extremely processed olive oil and its best to avoid these oils altogether! 

Cooking more at home allows you to control what goes into your food and body, and you want it to be the best quality stuff right? 



Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients: 

Curry:

  • 1 Tbsp. avocado oil
  • 6 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 2 inch piece of ginger (finely chopped)
  • 2 (13.5oz) cans of full fat organic coconut milk 
  • Rind of 2 limes
  • Juice from 4-6 limes (to taste)
  • 1/2 large butternut squash (peeling and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces)
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 2 leeks (thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric 
  • 2 red peppers (thinly sliced)
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • Cilantro and lime wedges to serve
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Tempeh:

  • 4 Tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 package of organic tempeh
  • 4 Tablespoons organic tamari

Instructions:

1. Heat 1 Tbsp. of avocado oil to your saucepan and add in your garlic, ginger and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. 

2. Then add in your coconut milk, lime rind, and lime juice and bring to a boil then simmer and cover with lid for about 20 minutes to allow flavors to marinade. 

3. In a separate skillet heat about 4 tablespoons of avocado oil and add in thin sliced of tempeh. Then pour over your tamari. Allow to cook for about 4 minutes on each side until browned. Once fully cooked and browned, set aside. 

4. Add your chopped butternut squash into your coconut milk and lime mixture and allow to cook for 20 minutes until cooked through. 

5. In another skillet add 1 tablespoon of avocado oil and cook your diced onion for about 3 minutes until translucent. Then add in your leeks and turmeric and cook for another 6 minutes on medium heat until tender. Set this mixture aside in a bowl. 

6. Cook your red pepper in another skillet and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. 

7. Finally, add in the leek mixture, red peppers, spinach and cilantro into the coconut milk mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes on medium-low heat. 

8. Then mix in your tempeh to the curry and serve. You can serve this alone or over brown rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges. Enjoy! 

 

Is the Grass Always Greener on the Other Side?

Have you ever been overcome with anxiety because you feel like you aren’t where you need to be in life? This familiar feeling arises within me from time to time, and although I know better than to succumb to these defeated feelings, they can be overwhelming. Pressures that society instills in us and that we instill in ourselves manifest a lot of stress, and we forget to appreciate where we are and all that we are doing.

I’m 26 years old and when I look at my Facebook newsfeed I see posts of friends getting engaged, having kids, and creating homes for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t be happier for these friends, but seeing this makes me think…Am I where I want to be in life? Am I where I thought I would be at this point in my life? There is no grand plan for how your life will turn out, and there is no way in knowing. When you hear about your friend’s lives and what they are up to…do you feel jealous? Anxious? Unsettled? I know I do, and that’s because I am my own worst critic. I know that I want a life where I have financial stability, a home, and a family, and because I don’t have those things yet and other people do, I feel pressure. I recognize this, and it makes me think, will we always believe that the grass is greener on the other side?

Why do we want what we don't have? We latch on to all the reasons why life isn't good enough, and constantly want more. Continuously climbing up a never-ending ladder hoping that when we finally reach the top we will have everything we've ever dreamed of.

What if I told you a little secret? Those feelings will never go away. You will forever yearn for more out of life, your relationships, and career. It's a chronic addiction, and a mind game that will exhaust you to no end.

So how can we overcome this? How do we deal with feeling insignificant? Try not to latch on to the negative, the reasons why things won't work out, why you feel like you aren't good enough, or why you shouldn't keep trying.

Time is on your side my friend. Make the most of it. It's easier said than done to say, "don't rush the process." It's not just some yogi mentality; it's a practice of patience that is acquired with time. When you finally accept that you won't know how long it will take to get to your destination, or if you will ever get there, you finally have given up resistance. You’ve finally learned to accept yourself for who you are in the now, with wrinkles, cellulite, pimples, or other "imperfections." You've learned to embrace everything as a learning experience, a building block, and a part of you.

We have become accustomed to instant gratification, instant results, and have forgotten that worthy things take work, investment and yes, time. Time is contingent to our patience and growth. As we learn and progress, our goals in sight will surprisingly transform as much as we do.

At the end of the day, what we are all searching for is meaning. Meaning in building a prosperous life. Meaning in our relationships. Meaning in the mess of it all. We are all interconnected by this humanistic desire and inner fire that drives us to wake up each morning.

So why is it we always compare our lives to others? What makes what they are doing any better than what you are doing? You see, what's different is the way your friends speak about what they are doing (and we do the same in social situations) or what they share on social media. To you, they seem happy, content and on the right track, because this is what they are forced to portray to ironically make you feel comfortable.

They’ve somehow pushed your insecurity button and envy and jealously inevitably surface. You want to feel the kind of security and happiness they are portraying. However, unbeknownst to you they don't divulge the pain, the disappointment, and all the bad things they have dealt with along the way to where they have gotten (in your mind).

We think that everyone else has their shit together, is able to make more money than us, and has the secret ingredient to this mysterious formula. It's just not the case. We are just thinking romantically and latching on to ideals that society has engrained in us from a young age. Telling us that we will grow up and be rich and have a happy life and family, and once we have all these things, this is the true definition of happiness and success.

The reality is, things aren’t that simple. The definition of success differs from person to person. I realized this when I began meeting people and they were honest about their struggles in life. They were dealing with exactly the same problems as what I was going through. Not being happy with their job, wanting the freedom to travel, and their struggles with dating and being single. I began to realize, I’m not the only one, and neither are you. Get out of your head, stop over-thinking, and begin to look within. What you want, you have the ability to create, but dwelling on what you don’t have, will get you nowhere. 

You would think by now, after all these years of experience, we would have learned. But you know what? People don't like the truth. And why? It's brutal, raw, and honest. The truth can't be romanticized into some fairytale dream with a knight in shining armor. The truth isn't always happy or fun. The truth makes us confront our deepest insecurities. So of course we want to avoid this!

When I was ready to grow I began to welcome all of my insecurities, all of my inner struggles, and a lot of uncomfortable feelings. Why? Because I finally learned that accepting these feelings, these aspects about myself, meant that I finally accepted myself for who I am. Beautifully broken. I use the word broken in a positive context, because being broken means that you have endured pain, and learned how to be resilient and strong.

Most of all you've learned. You've learned that the bits of you that are cracked don't necessarily need to be fixed. You've learned to take responsibility for your actions and words, and you've become more connected to your individual beauty by accepting what you used to perceive were flaws. Those flaws have transformed just as much as you have. I no longer felt like my flaws defined me, and I began to have the strength to define them, because I knew who I was. I realized that I would forever be evolving into a new beauty, into a new beast, into a more aware person.

I realized when I accepted these uncomfortable feelings that I was more connected to my truth. Instead of avoiding the pain, and escaping it through any vice, I decided to look at pain right in the eye. I developed a more consciously aware relationship with pain. I began to ask why it was present, and reflected on my experience with pain to help me become stronger and avoid any self-destructive patterns in the future.

I’ve learned that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It’s just unknown. It intrigues you, and because others describe their life in a desirable way, you endlessly search for what they have. Not realizing that you’re standing right in your own oasis. Don’t seek what others have, because what they have is unique to their life and their path. Look down where you are standing and notice how the grass feels in between your toes. That’s the beauty in it all. That’s where you will find your success, your strength, and feeling complete in life.

Everyone will always want more, but when you accept what you have in this moment, you will not only attract what you desire, you will become it. That’s the secret, not thinking about how life will be when you have obtained what others have, it’s about realizing all that you have already.  

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash is one of my favorite foods to eat in the wintertime, and this is a quick and simple recipe to make at home. 

I find myself constantly disappointed when ordering this at restaurants. Either they add too much, cream or butter and the flavor of the butternut squash is lost. Thats the whole point right, to taste the main ingredient?

Thats what this recipe does, using a just a few fresh ingredients, and creating a flavorful and addicting soup. Feel free to add a little ginger to the dish if you're feeling a little sick, this antibacterial addition will add a hint of spice. 



Serves 3-4 people

Ingredients: 

  • 1 large butternut squash (peeled and cut into chunks)
  • 6 thin carrots 
  • 1 small yellow onion (diced)
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. grass-fed butter or olive oil
  • 32 oz container of vegetable broth 
  • 2 cups water (if needed) 

Instructions: 

1. Melt the butter on low heat in a saucepan. Add in the onion and cumin. Cook for about 5 minutes until onion is translucent. 

2. Add in butternut squash, carrots, and vegetable broth.

3. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat with lid on top for about 30 minutes until vegetables are fully cooked. 

4. Blend together soup with a hand blender. If the soup needs more liquid add more water to the mixture. Season with salt and pepper according to taste.