Black Bean Dip Recipe

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Football season is in full swing!  This zesty dip is perfect for serving with raw veggies or chips on game day.  It can even be used as a healthy spread in place of mayo or meat for your sandwich or wrap.

Black Bean Dip Recipe

Health Benefits of Black Beans
Beans are technically a mature form of legumes and are part of the protein AND vegetable group.  So, they make a great option for vegetarians or anyone trying to increase their veggie intake.  They also provide fiber and important nutrients such as iron and zinc.  Because of their high nutrient content, eating beans is recommended for everyone (including those who do eat meat, poultry and fish).


  • 2 cans of black beans
  • ½ cup chopped onion or shallot
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 of a hot pepper (add more for added heat)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Rinse beans from can and place in food processor
  2. Puree with all ingredients until smooth
  3. Serve with your favorite veggies or chips
  4. Garnish with cilantro


Black Bean Dip Recipe

  • 2 cans of black beans
  • ½ cup chopped onion or shallot
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ¼ of a hot pepper (add more for added heat)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. Rinse beans from can and place in food processor
  2. Puree with all ingredients until smooth
  3. Serve with your favorite veggies or chips
  4. Garnish with cilantro

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No-Cook Breakfast: Simple Muesli with Fresh Fruit

A no-cook, healthy breakfast that you can make the night before – no fuss in the morning!  It is full of fiber, fruit and whole grains to start your day on the right track.


  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup steel cut oats
  • ½ cup fresh seasonal fruit (suggestion: ½ nectarine (diced), blueberries and raspberries)
  • 1 packet of Stevia or ½ tsp. agave syrup
  • 1/8 cup raw walnut pieces (optional)


  1. Combine oats and milk in glass container overnight
  2. In the morning, stir in your sweetener Stevia or agave
  3. Top with fresh seasonal fruit and nuts (optional)

Just as easy as pouring a bowl of cereal!

Health Benefits of Breakfast
Why is breakfast important?  It kick-starts your metabolism for the day and helps give your body the energy it needs to think faster and more clearly while preventing overeating later in the day by keeping you satisfied.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a healthy breakfast.  It sets the tone for your entire day.


No-Cook Breakfast: Simple Muesli with Fresh Fruit

  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ⅓ cup steel cut oats
  • ½ cup fresh seasonal fruit (suggestion: ½ nectarine (diced), blueberries and raspberries)
  • 1 packet of Stevia or ½ tsp. agave syrup
  • ⅛ cup raw walnut pieces (optional)

  1. Combine oats and milk in glass container overnight
  2. In the morning, stir in your sweetener Stevia or agave
  3. Top with fresh seasonal fruit and nuts (optional)

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Gluten-Free Cookie Bites

I recently received a sample of all four flavors of Enjoy Life Food’s Crunchy Cookies.  Each box has 14 large, handcrafted cookies.  Flavors include Chocolate Chip, Double Chocolate, Suar Crisp and Vanilla Honey Graham.  Like all Enjoy Life products they are completely free of wheat/gluten, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy and other common  food allergens.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of crunchy cookies but these were very good!  Using the cookies, I created this playful recipe:Enjoy Life Crunchy Cookies Cookie Dough Bites


  • In a mini food processor, combine cookies and sunflower seed butter
  • Roll into small balls and place in freezer for 10 minutes to allow to harden
  • Top with raw seeds or nuts, dried berries and mini chocolate chips
It is sort of like an ice cream sundae and cookie dough bite all rolled into one lovely dessert!  My husband promptly devoured it.
Enjoy Life Cookies

Enjoy Life Crunchy Cookies all 4 flavors

Enjoy Life Crunchy Cookies


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Endless Summer Penne with Arugula

I’m always searching for new and interesting ways to make pasta differently.  This dish packs the right amount of heat and flavor with spicy jalapeno sausage and peppery arugula but is balanced out by the sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes and tomato paste.

It is chock full of summer’s fresh produce for an endless summer meal: bell peppers, garlic, tomatoes, shallots, jalapeno peppers and zucchini.

Serves 6



  • ½ avocado, diced
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. Boil water and cook pasta.  Follow instructions on pasta package for best results.  My box suggested boiling the water, adding 1 tsp oil and 1 tsp salt before adding the pasta and boiling it for 8 minutes.  It also stated to rinse the pasta with cold water after straining it.
  2. While pasta cooks, sauté shallot, spring onion, zucchini, bell pepper and sausage in olive oil and butter on medium heat
  3. Mix in the cooked pasta and add sun-dried tomatoes and tomato paste
  4. Add arugula at the last minute so it does not wilt too much as it cooks down
  5. Flavor with garlic, pepper and salt
  6. Serve immediately and top with avocado and Parmesan cheese

Health Benefits of Arugula

Arugula is technically a cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli and cauliflower and may help prevent colorectal cancer.  According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), “cruciferous vegetables contain nutrients and compounds with cancer-fighting components beta-carotene, fiber and vitamin C, among others. As an added bonus, cruciferous vegetables supply calcium, iron and folate.”

Endless Summer Penne with Arugula
Serves: 6

  • 12 oz. of brown rice penne pasta (tonight I used Lundberg’s Organic Brown Rice Pasta)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter (I use Earth Balance’s Soy-Free Butter)
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 spring onion, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 spicy jalapeno chicken sausages, sliced thinly (I use Spicy Jalapeños Chicken Sausage from Trader Joe’s )
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 cups of arugula
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 tsp fresh black pepper
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ½ avocado, diced
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

  1. Boil water and cook pasta. Follow instructions on pasta package for best results. My box suggested boiling the water, adding 1 tsp oil and 1 tsp salt before adding the pasta and boiling it for 8 minutes. It also stated to rinse the pasta with cold water after straining it.
  2. While pasta cooks, sauté shallot, spring onion, zucchini, bell pepper and sausage in olive oil and butter on medium heat
  3. Mix in the cooked pasta and add sun-dried tomatoes and tomato paste
  4. Add arugula at the last minute so it does not wilt too much as it cooks down
  5. Flavor with garlic, pepper and salt
  6. Serve immediately and top with avocado and Parmesan cheese


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Pizza Burgers

One of my favorite Food Network Stars, Giada, created this brilliant, all-American, grill-ific meal that combines the best of both worlds – pizza and burgers!  I gave it a mini-makeover to make it healthier by:

  • Switching the sourdough rolls for 100% whole wheat buns for added fiber (or you can go completely “bunless”).
  • Subbing extra lean organic ground chicken meat instead of ground sirloin beef to save calories and saturated fat.

I also made mine without cheese but for my husband we used reduced fat shredded cheese.

Toppings included avocado, fresh sliced tomato and onions.  I tested it out with the marinara sauce and that worked well too.

Giada’s concept is really great for those who love all the amazing flavor of pizza but want to stick to a protein-filled meal on the grill.

Serving Size: makes 4 burgers


  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup shredded, reduced fat mozzarella and Parmesan (optional but still delicious without)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound extra lean ground chicken meat
  • 4 100% whole wheat burger buns
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • Topping suggestions: avocado, fresh basil leaves, sliced tomatoes, marinara sauce, sliced olives, roasted red bell peppers, arugula, ketchup or any of your favorite pizza toppings



  1. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill
  2. In a food processor, pulse together the garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, cheeses, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Process until blended
  3. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the chicken and, using a wooden spoon, stir until combined
  4. Form the mixture into 4 patties
  5. Grill each side until cooked through, 6 minutes on medium-low heat
  6. Allow to rest for 5 minutes
  7. Brush the cut side of the rolls with olive oil and grill until lightly toasted, about 1 minute
  8. Place the burgers on the buns, add toppings and enjoy!


Can also be served without the bun if you are gluten-free or carb-free.  It is delicious on top of arugula with sliced avocado and dipped in garlic marinara sauce. Enjoy!

Giada’s original recipe can be found here.


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Pink Frozen Lemonade

Summer is not officially over yet (not until Sept 22nd at least)!  It is important to stay hydrated especially throughout thehot summer months.

We are made up of roughly 60-70% water and it is important that we replace what is lost through everyday activities and workouts.  Even being slightly dehydrated can have a negative affect on both physical and mental functioning.  So drink up with this guilt-free and very refreshing beverage.  It will hydrate you without empty calories from added sugar.

It is tart from the lemon and sweet from the berries.  Enjoy!


  • 5 frozen strawberries or 3/4 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 lemon skin removed
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 stevia packet or 1 tsp agave syrup


  1. Puree all ingredients together in a blender
  2. Serve immediately and enjoy (garnish with lemon peel if desired)

Did You Know? A tablespoon of lemon juice has just 4 calories.

Health Benefits

Citrus fruits such as lemons offer more than just vitamin C.  Studies have shown they aid in overall heart health and may prevent anemia, cataracts, cancer and birth defects.


Pink Frozen Lemonade

  • 5 frozen strawberries or ¾ cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 lemon skin removed
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 stevia packet or 1 tsp agave syrup

  1. Puree all ingredients together in a blender
  2. Serve immediately and enjoy (garnish with lemon peel if desired)

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Shrimp Scampi

This dish is full of fresh ingredients that contain bold flavors.  It is easy to make, yet super gourmet.

Shrimp Scampi

  • 4 oz. spaghetti style whole grain pasta*
  • ½ pound of fresh wild caught shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter**
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed through garlic press
  • ⅛ cup fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Optional: Add peas or spinach for additional vegetables

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. I add a pinch of sea salt and a drop of oil to boiling water before adding pasta
  2. Drain pasta in colander and set aside
  3. Meanwhile, sauté shallots, red pepper and shrimp in large pan on medium heat with extra virgin olive oil and butter
  4. Add lemon zest and juice
  5. When shrimp are fully cooked, add the pasta (shrimp are cooked when they turn from translucent to pink)
  6. Add fresh garlic and parsley
  7. Add salt and pepper


*I use gluten-free pasta by Tinkyada which uses organic brown rice.  This is my favorite brand of gluten-free pasta; it has the best texture and consistency of all the gluten-free pastas I have tried so far. 

**I use soy-free, gluten-free, vegan butter from Earth Balance.

Health Benefits

Using whole grain pasta, fresh seafood and vegetables make for a healthy, balanced and refreshing dinner.

This dish features shrimp.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), eating about 8 ounces per week of a variety of seafood contributes to the prevention of heart disease.

Shrimp is a great way to reach this goal.  In fact, according to the American Dietetic Association, shrimp are low in saturated fat and a good source of nutrients such as niacin, iron, phosphorus, zinc, protein, vitamin B12 and selenium.  Shrimp is high in cholesterol, so eat it in moderation.  Seven medium sized shrimp = 2 oz. cooked.

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Chilled Sesame Soba Noodles with Avocado

This light and refreshing gluten-free dish will fill you up without making you uncomfortable.  The star of the dish is the soba noodle, which comes from buckwheat, a perfect alternative for those avoiding gluten.  Even if you are not avoiding gluten, this delicious noodle is perfect for providing protein.

Chilled Sesame Soba Noodles with Avocado
Serves: 4

  • 8 ounces of soba noodles
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
  • 4 green onions, diced
  • 1 cup grape tomatos, sliced in half
  • Dressing
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp agave syrup
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of sea salt

  1. Place soba noodles in boiling water for 6 minutes
  2. Place in colander and rinse with cold water and let dry
  3. Transfer to large bowl and add remaining ingredients
  4. Mix dressing ingredients together in small mixing bowl
  5. Pour the dressing on top of the soba noodles and mix
  6. Top with freshly ground black pepper and sesame seeds
  7. Optional Add-Ons
  8. Sautéed shrimp pairs excellent with this dish for those that can eat seafood. It is light and absorbs the dressing well. Saute shrimp on medium heat with olive oil and pepper and let cool completely before adding to the dish.
  9. Fresh basil gives this dish an herbaceous aroma. Mince and add last minute

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“Pesto” Veggie Soup

Loaded with fresh veggies and a powerful pesto-like flavor makes getting your nutrients fun!


“Pesto” Veggie Soup
Serves: 4-6

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 bag of baby carrots (about 2 cups)
  • 1 bag of mixed broccoli and cauliflower (about 4 cups)
  • 4 cup low sodium broth
  • 1 carton of fresh spinach (about 2 cups)
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened almond milk (optional)

  1. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat
  2. Add chopped onions, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots and saute for 10 minutes
  3. Add broth and let simmer for 15-20 minutes until veggies are very tender
  4. Turn heat off
  5. Add remaining ingredients to pot
  6. Using an immersion hand blender, blend all ingredients until smooth while in pot (if you don’t have an immersion hand blender than transfer to food processor or blender)
  7. Serve in bowls immediately or store


Health Benefits of Veggies

This flavorful vegetable soup is loaded with essential vitamins, minerals and fiber that are important for overall good health.  Vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and are incredibly filling.  According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthy diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.

Calculate how many fruits and vegetables YOU need per day based on your weight, age and activity level.


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Crunchy Double Chocolate Truffles

This amazingly decadent dessert is allergy friendly, gluten-free and vegan (especially great for those with nut allergies).  The inside is full of heart-healthy sunflower seed butter and mixed with crunchy chocolate granola.  The outside is a crunchy chocolate shell.  The final product is similar to a Ferrero Rocher.

Makes 8-10 truffles



  1. Melt chocolate and oil in double boiler and set aside
  2. Combine sunbutter with agave nectar and vanilla extract in mix bowl
  3. Stir in ½ cup granola
  4. Roll 8-10 balls of the sunbutter/granola mixture
  5. Place ½ cup remaining granola on flat surface
  6. Dip each ball in the melted chocolate and then roll in the remaining granola so the outside of each ball is fully coated
  7. Place each ball on plate lined with parchment paper
  8. Place in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes
  9. Enjoy in moderation

Health Benefits of Sunflower Seed Butter

  • Sunflower seeds contain less saturated fat than peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds contain heart-healthy fats, protein, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese
  • Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that may lower the risk of certain diseases and can help protect cells against damage.  In fact, according to the American Dietetic Association, 1 oz. of sunflower seeds provides ½ of the Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin E.
  • Sunflower seeds are high in the mineral selenium.  According to the National Institute of Health, selenium is essential for good health and helps to prevent cellular damage from free radicals.  Free radicals may contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.  Selenium also helps regulate thyroid function and plays a role in the immune system.


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Chicken “Parmesan”

Living with food allergies means sometimes there are dishes you just have to give up. One of my favorites is chicken parmesan. Being allergic to dairy and gluten makes this dish impossible to recreate unless you are armed with the right products in your pantry.

So, you can imagine my excitement when I learned about a new product of allergy-friendly chips flavored with garlic and parmesan: Plentils. This light and flavorful lentil chip takes care of the parmesan flavor and the breadcrumb crunch all in one shot! No extra seasoning needed!

This simple recipe uses Plentils as a healthy and allergy-friendly “breadcrumb” coating on white meat chicken. Find out how I turned this chip into everyone’s favorite comfort food. My husband, who loves cheese, was shocked that there was no real cheese in this dish. Amazing – one dish both cheese lovers and dairy-free diners can all enjoy. Read More »

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Chocolate-Berry Sorbet

Sorbet shown in gluten-free cone

This heavenly dessert is for everyone out there without an ice cream maker (and with a dairy allergy)!I wanted an easy to make, quick dessert that was dairy free… I have been experimenting with the ingredients and proportions and so far this is the best combo for a rich and creamy texture with the right amount of chocolate decadence.

You can feel good about indulging in this chocolaty dessert without all the calories and fat that comes with standard chocolate ice cream. The wonderful thing about using cocoa powder is you get the entire flavor that is divine about chocolate without all the added sugar. Read More »

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Mayo-Free Coleslaw

This healthy side dish is a great alternative to salad. Cabbage is an inexpensive veggie and full of fiber, vitamin C & K and other important antioxidants. Rather than the typical mayo-based dressing, this recipe uses a light dressing loaded with herbs. Adding the nectar, granny smith apple, pistachios and avocado takes coleslaw from basic to extraordinary (and mildly sweet).

Serves 6

Slaw Ingredients

  • 4 cups cabbage, shredded into slaw
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
  • ½ English cucumber, skinned & diced
  • ¼ cup pistachios, roughly chopped
  • ½ granny smith apple, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 spring onions, diced
  • 1 nectar, diced
  • ½ avocado, diced


  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp canola
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp agave nectar light
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro


  1. Combine all slaw ingredients in large mixing bowl
  2. Put all dressing ingredients in mini food processor and pulse until incorporated
  3. Pour dressing on slaw and mix
  4. Chill well before serving

Pair with a flavorful entree or enjoy by itself.

Health Benefits

Cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C (1 serving which is ½ cup has 30% DV of vitamin C). The American Dietetic Association (ADA), reminds us that cabbage is touted for its potential cancer-fighting properties, along with other vegetables in the cruciferous family.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should avoid slicing or shredding cabbage in advance. This will cause it to lose some of its vitamin C content. The ADA recommends that once cut, cover the cabbage with plastic wrap to slow the loss of vitamins.

Posted in dairy-free, gluten-free, lunch, raw, salad, side, side dish, vegan, vegetable, vegetarian | Leave a comment

Bobby Flay’s Spanish Spice Rubbed Chicken Breasts with Parsley-Mint Sauce

I recently met the world famous Bobby Flay in Baltimore City! He was in town checking up on his new restaurant, Bobby’s Burgers Palace, in Arundel Mills’ Maryland Casino Live. I spotted him at the Four Seasons Hotel in Harbor East at a new hot Japanese Restaurant, Pabu.

As a huge Food Network fan I introduced myself and was impressed at how friendly and kind the food legend was to me as I babbled about how much I enjoyed his Sixteen Spiced Chicken dish at MESA grill while on vacation almost 3 years ago (I still remember it as the best chicken I have ever had).

This amazing celebrity run-in reminded me of how truly delicious chicken can be if prepared with the right spices and flavors. So, in honor of my recent Bobby Flay run-in, I cooked another fantastically flavorful chicken dish that was recently aired on the Food Network (All-Star Grillfest: South Beach [originally filmed in 2007]). In this segment, Bobby Flay shares his “Spanish Spice Rubbed Chicken Breast with Parsley-Mint Sauce” (full recipe).

The chicken rub is so much fun and every bite is full of smoky, spicy, earthy flavor. He brilliantly pairs the chicken with a spicy and “herbaceous” pesto-like sauce. It takes chicken from bland to BAM!

Several tips from Bobby:

  1. Add salt and pepper to the chicken before the oil and the spice rub
  2. Always oil the chicken and not the grill
  3. Don’t overpower the chicken: put the spice rub on one-side only
  4. Brush oil on chicken after you flip (the non-rub side)
  5. Drizzle the parsley-mint sauce rustically on top of the chicken

I serve with my light and sweet mayo-free coleslaw salad. This cold and refreshing salad offsets the heat and spice from Bobby’s chicken.

Shown here with the chicken on a salad using the Parsley-Mint Sauce as the salad dressing (I left out the jalepeno and found it more enjoyable).

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Cold Mint Pea Soup

This recipe is inspired by a past colleague of mine who keeps a health blog with fitness tips and nutritious recipes.  Her version of the recipe can be found here.  Thanks, Monica!
This cold soup is super easy and quick to make (definitely under 5 minutes).
I slightly modified it by adding spinach to the blender and pistachios as garnish for a bit of crunch.  The classic mint/pea combo is beyond refreshing on a hot summer day.  It makes for a quick and healthy snack or even can be served as a side during lunch. 
Serves 2
  • 1.5 cups frozen peas
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • Small handful of fresh mint
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • pinch of sea salt
  • fresh black pepper to taste
  • 1/8 cup lightly salted pistachios, roughly chopped

  1. Add all ingredients (except the pistachios) to blender and puree
  2. Serve immediately and garnish with pistachios and fresh mint leaves

Health Benefits
This recipe gets bonus healthy points for mixing peas (an excellent source of vitamins A and C) with raw spinach.  As I mentioned in my last post, when you combine vitamin C with raw spinach your body is able to absorb its iron and calcium.
Plus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, peas are a good low calorie source of protein.  1 serving of this recipe contains more protein than a whole egg or a tablespoon of peanut butter.  And, unlike eggs, 1 serving of peas has less than one gram of fat and no cholesterol.

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Watermelon-Lime Berry Fusion

After a Memorial Day BBQ party you are typically left with watermelon and possibly a hangover.  The inspiration for this smoothie came from that very situation.  I wanted to create an incredibly thirst-quenching “cooler” to enjoy on a hot and humid day.  Watermelon is 92% water and 8% sugar, plus it has electrolytes to help with your hangover. 
This incredibly refreshing beverage will perk you right up with invigorating lime, hydrating melon and sweet strawberries and raspberries.
  • 2 cups fresh seedless watermelon
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • ½ cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 lime
  • ½ cup crushed ice

  1. Place watermelon, strawberries and raspberries in blender
  2. Zest lime and set aside for garnish
  3. Squeeze lime juice into blender
  4. Add ice and blend until fully incorporated
  5. Serve immediately and garnish with lime zest and extra raspberries

Health Benefits
The star of this recipe is clearly the watermelon which is technically a vegetable and part of the cucumber and squash family.  Who knew!?  This vegetable in disguise also contains high concentrations of lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant that may reduce your risk of cancer and other diseases.  Enjoy the taste, immediate uplifting perks and the long-term health benefits of this easy to make watermelon recipe.

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Southwest Jicama Slaw

Just coming back from the Southwest has inspired me to experiment with new flavors and ingredients.  This fresh and healthy jicama salad is perfect as a fun side for a BBQ.

  • 1 large jicama, peeled and sliced thinly into short strips
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup red poblano pepper
  • ½ purple onion, diced
  • 1 champagne mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 green poblano chili
  • 1 lime, squeezed
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tsp cumin powder
  • onion powder and black pepper to taste
  • other ingredient options: shredded carrots, granny smith apples, scallions

  1. Combine all ingredients in large bowl and toss
  2. Let chill in fridge for 1-2 hours and serve

Jicama is a vegetable and is like a cross between a potato and an apple or pear in terms of texture and taste.  It has almost no flavor and is crunchy.  I found jicama at Whole Foods (had to ask twice – not easy to find) but is available year-round.  It looks similar to a turnip with tan skin.  It is very low in calories and high in Vitamin C.

Storage: You can store jicama for up to 2 weeks in a plastic bag in your fridge.

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Almond Butter and Berry Smoothie

This morning I woke up craving a refreshing and filling smoothie.  But, oh no!  Out of protein powder… What is a healthy foodie to do?!

My protein powder is what gives my smoothies their thick texture so I had to think quick for a substitution… So, I’m thinking thick and then it comes to me: almond butter and oats!
The result was something entirely natural and much more delicious!  I may be obsessed with this new creation (even though I will warn you that it sounds… different).  Here we go…
  • 1 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 cup mixed frozen berries, unsweetened
  • 2 tbsp almond butter, unsalted
  • ¼ cup old fashion oats (helps with thickness) 
Puree ingredients in blender and serve immediately.
Made with only raspberries

Health Benefits
This all-natural recipe features fruit, whole grains and almonds.  We know almonds are “nuterrific” because they are high in fiber, the antioxidant Vitamin E and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat that won’t raise your cholesterol.
This breakfast is incredibly filling and full of natural energy – Now all you have to do is “bring it”!
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Salmon Stuffed Mushrooms

This elegant and light appetizer is perfect for a quick snack or for entertaining.  Most stuffed mushroom recipes contain cheese and/or mayo – this recipe keeps it creamy with hummus and flavorful with dill and garlic.

The health factor of this tiny bite is huge… salmon is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids and contains important vitamins (A, C, D, E) and minerals such as zinc, calcium, selenium and iron; hummus is a healthy form of lean protein; and low-calorie mushrooms are full of B vitamins, selenium, potassium and vitamin D. 
  • 10 large organic white button mushrooms, rinsed in cold water and patted dry
  • 1 can wild Alaskan salmon in water
  • 1/3 C garlic hummus (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp dill (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • Optional garnish ingredients: fresh dill, fresh basil, avocado, roasted shallot ring 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Open canned salmon and drain thoroughly
  3. In a mixing bowl, add mustard, dill and pepper to the salmon and set aside
  4. Lightly spray a baking sheet with extra virgin olive oil
  5. Remove the entire stem of each mushroom, leaving a small pocket in the underbelly of each mushroom
  6. Fill the empty space with hummus and top with the salmon mixture
  7. Place in oven for 10 minutes
  8. Let cool for 5 minutes and garnish with dill, basil, a single roasted shallot ring or even avocado!
Did you know?
  • Mushrooms are technically a fungus, not a vegetable (no roots, leaves or seeds) and contain 90% water!
  • It is best to store extra mushrooms in a paper bag in the fridge and they can be stored for up to one week.

Posted in appetizer | Leave a comment

Yummy Batter Cookies

I named these after the fact that I couldn’t stop eating the batter.  But don’t let the name fool you, the actual cookie post-baking is incredible.  These are by far my favorite gluten-free, vegan cookies yet!  And for those who know me, I make cookies almost every other night and love to experiment with different flours, measurements and different ingredients to keep things interesting.

My husband (who has become my default taste tester) agrees the texture is like a “real” cookie and it has the perfect balance of sweetness (thanks to my new obsession, agave nectar, instead of my go-to stevia which can sometimes be a little too sweet or have a slightly bitter aftertaste).
This recipe makes 12 cookies (unless you eat the batter which is irresistibly yummy).
Dry Ingredients
  • ½ cup quick cooking oats (gluten free)
  • ¼ cup teff flour
  • ¼ cup raw walnut baking pieces
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate mini chips
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • ½ tsp nutmeg or cinnamon

Wet Ingredients
  • ¼ cup raw almond butter
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar (light)

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and stir
  2. Add wet ingredients and mix
  3. Stop to taste the amazing batter (and you can because it is egg-free)
  4. Bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees
  5. Let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before enjoying
  6. Serve with extra cold almond milk for a perfect late night snack!

All About Agave
This recipe uses agave nectar, a vegan natural sweetener that is similar to honey (but better).  Agave nectar comes from the agave plant which is also the starting material for the production of tequila.
Agave syrup has a low glycemic index.  So, it offers a balanced sweetness without the typical “sugar rush” and unhealthy blood sugar spike caused by refined sugars.  You should still use it moderately.  One tablespoon contains 60 calories and 16 grams of sugar.
Posted in dessert, gluten-free, vegan | 1 Response

Mango Sorbet

Shown with berry garnish

This refreshing and extremely healthy homemade sorbet dessert is perfect to end any meal and just so happens to have a difficulty factor of … zero.

Servings: 2

  • 2 cup frozen mango, unsweetened
  • ½ cup vanilla unsweetened almond milk
  1. Allow frozen mango to thaw out for 5-10 minutes
  2. Place mango and milk in mini food processor and pulse for 30 seconds
  3. Scoop mixture into individual bowls
  4. Place in freezer for 10 minutes
  5. Top it off with berries and enjoy!
Health Benefits
Mango sorbet shown without the berry garnish
I love sorbet but the store bought kind often contains added sugar and other unnecessary ingredients.  This two-ingredient version contains only the good stuff ;)
Fruit is an excellent way to satisfy your sweet tooth while packing in nutrients (mangos contain vitamin A and C).
Make it your own…
You could use these measurement guidelines and preparation steps to make your favorite flavor of sorbet – just substitute the frozen mango for another frozen fruit.
Posted in dessert, vegan | 2 Responses

A Complete Breakfast Solution

Shown without wild blueberries

Part of finding your way to a healthier you starts with breakfast.

Why is breakfast important?  It kick-starts your metabolism for the day and helps give your body the energy it needs to think faster and more clearly while preventing overeating later in the day by keeping you satisfied.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a healthy breakfast.  It sets the tone for your entire day.

Here is a complete breakfast solution to get you started.  I call it “Loaded Oatmeal” – this 4 ingredient breakfast fix boasts a complete meal (protein, whole grains and fruit).  It is not only a nutrition powerhouse, but tastes so good you might mistake it for dessert!  At 7:30am – it is my favorite way to start the day.

Loaded Oatmeal 

  1. 1 cup milk or milk alternative (such as unsweetened almond milk)
  2. ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  3. 1 tbsp natural unsalted peanut butter (or any nut butter – almond, cashew)
  4. ½ cup frozen wild blueberries
  5. Fresh berries for garnish
Add Stevia sweetener and cinnamon to taste.
Serving suggestion: garnish with fresh berries
Bonus points is you sprinkle on some ground flax seed and/or chopped walnuts for some added Omega-3 benefits!  Flax seed also provides you with lignans – a cancer-fighter.


  1. Bring milk to boil
  2. Add remaining ingredients and reduce heat.  Cook gently for 3-5 minutes, until mixture becomes uniform and thick
  3. Ladle into bowl and sprinkle with berries (and bonus ingredients if desired).  Serve immediately.
Shown with wild blueberries

Health Benefits

  • Adding berries to your breakfast is a great way to make things more exciting.  Plus, berries are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.  Antioxidants are powerful disease fighters that protect cells from free radicals that may cause diseases like cancer.
  • Fiber: This dish is loaded with fiber which is great for healthy digestion, a healthy heart and of course helps keep you fuller, longer.  Fiber is great for weight management.
  • This dish really has it all: fiber, healthy protein, whole grain oats and delicious fruit – all in one bowl!
This deliciously healthy dish certainly gives me something to get out of bed for in the morning.  And, it is hearty enough to hold me over until my mid-morning snack.
Posted in breakfast, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian | Leave a comment

Nutty Blueberry Cinnamon Muffins

Who doesn’t love a good breakfast muffin?  It is a great on-the go option because it is so portable.  And, depending on the recipe, it can offer some excellent nutrition benefits all in one tiny package. 
This recipe packs loads of nutritional goods including a variety of whole grains, fiber, protein, heart healthy fat and a good amount of fruit.  It is egg-free, dairy-free and naturally sweetened without the use of added sugar.  So what exactly is it made of?
Dry Ingredients
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups of dry ingredients 

                ½ cup whole-wheat flour
                ½ cup whole oats
                ½ cup oat bran
                ½ cup almond flour

  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 2 tbsp flax seed
  • Sprinkle of Stevia extract
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
Wet Ingredients
  • ½ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen wild blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Mix dry ingredients in medium sized bowl
  3. Stir in wet ingredients
  4. Add spoonfuls of the mixture to sprayed muffin pan
  5. Bake 20-22 minutes

Makes about 18 small muffins
Serving suggestions: Serve warm and spread your favorite nut butter on top.
Health Benefits
  • By substituting apple sauce for oil and butter you lower the saturated fat content while keeping the muffins moist and naturally sweet.
  • Using whole-wheat flour adds fiber to the muffins, which will help to fill you up more.  This muffin can go the distance and help you make it to your lunch break.

Beyond Eggs
Did you know you can substitute other ingredients for eggs?  Eggs contain cholesterol, are a common food allergen and create a problem for vegans.  If you are trying to stay away from eggs use this handy substitution:
1 egg = 1 tbsp ground flax seed, simmered in 3 tbsp water
Posted in breakfast | Leave a comment

Avocado Basil Brown Rice

This creamy and flavorful side dish can be easily transformed into a main dish by adding your favorite protein.


Shown with Black Beans
1.5 cups of brown rice (I use Trader Joe’s Frozen Brown Rice – Microwaves in 3 minutes)
Blend this in a mini food processor:
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1-2 cloves or garlic (or garlic powder)
  • Pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice (optional)
Once the rice is cooked and the sauce is blended combine them and mix immediately with whatever protein you want on top.  Garnish with basil.

Pairing Suggestions
Shown with Shrimp
and Chicken Sausage
What is great about this is you can mix in anything with this dish – tofu, beans, chicken, shrimp, fish… whatever.  It really does pair well with anything.

Health Benefits of Avocados
As if you need more reasons to consume this delicious fruit…

Avocados are an excellent source of heart healthy, monounsaturated fat.  They are high in dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, and folate. Avocados even contain 60% more potassium per ounce than bananas!

Why Brown Rice?
Brown rice is considered a whole grain, which means it contains the entire grain kernel (the bran, germ, and endosperm).  Whole grains are loaded with nutrients and reduce your risk of heart disease.  Brown rice has 4 times more fiber than white rice and because of this can help with weight management by providing a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.
Posted in entree, side dish | 4 Responses

Tex Mex Quinoa

I’m always looking for new ways to prepare quinoa.  This southwest twist takes quinoa from basic to flavorfully fun and colorful.  The addition of the black beans is great for added protein and fiber.  Top with an avocado and extra lime juice just before serving for an extra wow factor.
  • ½ cups dry quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed, drained and dried
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • ½ small red onion, diced
  • 1 champagne mango, not too ripe, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/8-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 10 sprigs fresh cilantro, leaves gently torn (discard stems)
  • Optional: Add chunks of avocado right before serving and squeeze extra lime juice on top. Sprinkle with more cilantro in center for a picture perfect dish.

  1. Cook quinoa in water until fully absorbed (approx. 20 minutes)
  2. Add ingredients in the order they appear above and stir to combine
  3. Serve warm or at room temperature

This recipe is adapted from my good friend Amy Kardon.  Original recipe can be found here:
Thanks, Amy!

Posted in entree, gluten-free, lunch, quinoa, side dish, vegan | Leave a comment

Warm Honeycrisp Apple Dessert

This cozy dessert is as delicious as warm apple pie.  America could benefit from this naturally-sweetened and vegan twist on their classic dish. 
Americans love their apples… we eat about 120 apples apiece each year.  Like all fruits, they contain natural antioxidants to give your body a strong defense against disease. This recipe sneaks in some whole grains for fiber to boost the nutrition even further. 
Serves: 3
  • 2 large honeycrisp apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup crushed walnuts, raw
  • 3 tbsp dried cranberries
  • 3 tbsp rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp unsulphered molasses (a natural sweetener high in iron, calcium and potassium)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp agave syrup (a natural sweetener)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Stevia to taste (optional)
  • Sprinkle of ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and let sit for about 5 minutes
  3. Spray glass baking dish with canola oil and add ingredients
  4. Bake for 25 minutes
  5. Serve immediately
  6. Recommended: serve with vanilla ice cream or dairy-free substitute
Video: Slicing the apples…

Thanks to my amazing mom for inventing and cooking this dish with me :)
Posted in dessert, vegan | 1 Response

Crunchy Chicken Salad

Chicken salad can often times be heavy and drenched in mayonnaise.  Not to mention it is typically full of salt.  This recipe is a lighter and healthier version with added crunch from veggies like celery, radishes and red onion.  Your heart will thank you for leaving out the salt and eggs.


  • 2 cans of chicken in water (white meat, 98% fat free)
  • 2 tbsp Vegenaise ® Grapeseed Oil
  • ½ tbsp onion powder
  • 4 tbsp chives, cut into small pieces
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 6 radishes, sliced
  • ½ cup red onion or shallot, chopped
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  1. Drain water from canned chicken, remove chicken from can and pat dry with a paper towel
  2. Place chicken in a bowl and add remaining ingredients
  3. Mix together with a fork until ingredients are incorporated evenly throughout the salad
  4. Serve chilled with whole wheat pita or whole wheat crackers

Keeping it healthy…
  • The chicken in this recipe is in water rather than oil and is white meat (98% fat free) which provides lean protein
  • Rather than seasoning with salt, this recipe uses onion powder, pepper and fresh veggies to bring out the natural flavor of the main ingredient
  • Vegenaise ® Grapeseed Oil is egg-free and is a great substitute for mayonnaise to help avoid cholesterol.  Plus, the grape seed extract contains antioxidants to help fight free radicals

Special thanks to my dad for the inspiration for this recipe.
Posted in lunch | Leave a comment

Drunken Shrimp

This is a fun and impressive recipe for a dinner party or for a fancy dinner night.  The vermouth adds a distinctive herbal flavor and the wine adds an aromatic yet sweet taste that makes this dish extra special without making you extra tipsy.

  • 1 lb / 25 jumbo shrimp (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 tbsp dry vermouth
  • 4 tbsp sauvignon blanc
  • ½ fresh lemon
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 3 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 avocado for garnish
  • 1 lb of whole wheat pasta
  • Optional extra items to add to your drunken shrimp sauté: grape tomatoes, red peppers, black olives


  1. Heat large sauté pan to medium heat and sauté shallot and green onion in olive oil until translucent (approximately 5 minutes)
  2. In separate pot, bring water to boil for pasta
  3. Add portabella mushrooms to sauté pan and then drench with wine, vermouth and fresh lemon juice
  4. Add pasta to boiling water in pot
  5. Add pine nuts, shrimp and spinach to sauté pan and season with fresh pepper, onion powder and pressed garlic
  6. Once pasta is cooked, strain before adding pasta to sauté pan
  7. Before serving, you may want to add an extra tbsp of the vermouth and wine to make the flavor extra bold
  8. When serving dish, add spoonfuls of sauce from sauté and garnish with small chunks of avocado
special thanks to my dad who taught me how to cook with vermouth
Posted in entree, seafood | 1 Response

Southwest Quinoa Burger

My husband found this recipe in Men’s Health magazine and we tried cooking it together.  It was very easy to make and turned out way better than we expected.  It did actually look and taste very similar to a real burger.   And, the southwest flavoring made for exceptional taste.  You can consider it husband approved (a very manly vegan burger for the carnivore in your life).
This burger is high in fiber and protein without any saturated fat like beef burgers.  Quinoa is one of the main ingredients so you know you are getting a complete protein, fiber and important nutrients.  Plus, it is a great way to incorporate antioxidant-rich, heart-healthy black beans into your diet.
  • 2/3 cup quinoa dry (Men’s Health magazine suggests using black quinoa so your patty will look more like beef)
  • 2/3 cup oats (you can use gluten free oats if you are keeping a gluten free diet)
  • 1 ¾ cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 Vidalia onion
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Southwest Flavoring
  • 1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp fresh black pepper
  • Can opener
  • Food processor
  • Medium sized pot
  • Measuring tools
  • Colander
  • Nonstick skillet
  1. Cook quinoa in 2 cups of water until all liquid is absorbed and the seed pops
  2. Combine all ingredients and flavoring in a food processor
  3. Form the mixture into patties
  4. Heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil on your nonstick skillet
  5. Sear patties for 3-5 minutes on each side (they should be crispy on the outside)
Serving Suggestions
  • I recommend adding a slice of tomato, sprouts, lettuce and thinly sliced avocado to your whole wheat buns before enjoying.
  • If you are following a gluten free diet you can enjoy the burger on its own with freshly sliced tomato and avocado on a bed of lettuce and sprouts.
  • Another fun idea is to add homemade guacamole to your patty.
Nutrition Facts
According to Men’s Health magazine, each patty is:
170 calories, 7 grams (g) of protein, 28 g carbs (6 g fiber), 4 g fat, 150 mg sodium
This recipe was adapted from:
Posted in entree, quinoa, vegan | Leave a comment

Sensational Summer Salad

Flavorful, healthy ingredients, refreshing – this salad has it all!  Summer is not over yet!
The Star
  • Grilled sockeye salmon (wild not farm raised and fresh not frozen is best)

(season salmon with extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and onion powder then grill)
The Lettuce
Grilled Salmon

  • Arugula
  • Frisee
  • Spinach

(mix together in large bowl)
  • Fresh basil, cut into thin strips
  • Jicama, sliced
  • Radishes, thinly sliced

Peach and Mango Salsa
  • 2 yellow peaches and 1 mango, diced
  • Red onion, diced
  • Avocado, chunked
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • garlic, pressed
  • 1 lemon, squeezed

(mix all ingredients together in bowl and let marinate for 15+ minutes)
Salad Dressing
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balmasic vinegar
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 lemon, fresh squeezed
  • 5-10 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed

(blend all ingredients in mini food processor until smooth)
How to dish it
  1. Add desired amount of salad dressing to the lettuce in large mixing bowl and toss
  2. Place mixed lettuce on large plate and add toppings around perimeter
  3. Place salmon (fresh off the grill) on the center of the plate on top of lettuce/toppings
  4. Spoon the peach and mango salsa on top of salmon

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Posted in entree, salad | Leave a comment
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