Date Carmelitas

Date Carmelitas 5

So, back in October, I attended a Halloween party at a friend’s house. Loads of fun with lots of treats. A particularly unhealthy treat was served that contained caramel, chocolate, oatmeal crust, loads of butter…you get the idea. Ever since then I have been on a quest to make my own healthy version of this decadent treat. Well, shout it from the rooftops I HAVE DONE IT! These cookie bars are THE BOMB! They have the perfect oat crust, soft chocolatey/caramel center, and topped with more perfect oat crust. The best part about these cookie bars is that they are completely allergen free! They contain fiber, potassium, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients…and this is all in a delicious treat! These are not too sweet, but have a perfect balance of an oatmeal cookie flavor with caramel and chocolate. You will want to make these, guaranteed. Enjoy!

Date Carmelitas 3

Date Carmelitas 2

Date Carmelitas 4

1 cup date caramel

1/2 cup applesauce

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

3/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup gluten-free flour

1 1/4 cups gluten-free oats

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life brand)

Line a 9×9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine applesauce and coconut oil. Mix well. Add in the sugar and vanilla and mix well. Add in the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Mix until well combined. Pat 2/3 of oatmeal mixture into bottom of pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Pour date caramel over chocolate chips and smooth out with a spatula. The chocolate chips and date caramel will melt together like a “fudge”. Crumble the remaining oatmeal mixture over the chocolate chip/caramel layer. Return to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan before placing the pan in the refrigerator to get it nice and cold (about 1 hour). Remove the bars from the pan by lifting out the parchment and cutting into squares. Devour!

Date Caramel

Date Caramel

I LOVE this caramel! Not only is it packed with nutrients and fiber, but it is a whole-food sweetener – no refinement, just natural sweetness. This recipe is so easy to make! All you need is a food processor, dates and some hot water and you’re good to go! I love to use this caramel in sweet recipes, savory recipes (to add in a bit of sweetness where needed), place a dollop on my hot cereal, mix this into muffins, spread it on toast, pancakes, waffles…you get the idea! Get creative with date caramel and enjoy the creamy texture and fabulous sweetness! Check out my favorite date paste recipe too!

Date Caramel 3

40 Medjool dates

1/2 cup hot water

pinch of sea salt, optional

It’s very important to buy really sticky dates for this recipe. If you buy dates that are dry, you can soak them for a few hours or overnight to soften them, but I find that getting really moist dates makes for the best date caramel. Remove pits from dates. Place dates in the bowl of a food processor. Attach lid and pulse the dates until they start to break down. Once they start to break down, press start and slowly add the hot water into the liquid chute. The dates will break down further and become creamy. I ran my food processor for about 3 minutes to achieve a nice, thick, creamy texture. You can use this caramel right away or store it in a container in the refrigerator for about a week. You can also freeze it for longer storage. This recipe makes about 2 – 2 1/2 cups.

Curried Quinoa with Vegetables

Curried Quinoa with Vegetables 2

Are you a curry fan like I am? There is something very comforting about curry dishes. Maybe it has to do with the anti-inflammatory properties found in the spice itself. Curcumin, which is found in the curry spice and turmeric, has been found to ease pain in the body and is a powerful antioxidant. Awesome! I love this simple Vegetable Coconut Curry, Curried Cauliflower, Curried Cauliflower SoupSpicy Curry Sauce, and this Curried Quinoa Salad is one of my all-time favorites! I really do like curry don’t I?!! This recipe is simple and can be made in 30 minutes. It is very versatile too because you can add in whatever vegetables you have on hand. I simply looked in my fridge and used what I had – carrot, celery, zucchini, and kale. I love the flavors in this dish that blend so well together. This dish will last about 4 days in the fridge, so it is a great lunch to make for the week! Enjoy!

Curried Quinoa with Vegetables

Curried Quinoa with Vegetables 3

1 1/4 cups dry quinoa
1 14-ounce can light coconut milk or 1 3/4 cups almond milk
1 1/4 cups water
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sesame oil (optional)
¼ cup green onions, white parts only (use the green tops for garnish)
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger (I like to use my microplane)
4 cups chopped vegetables of choice
½ cup thawed, frozen green peas
1 tablespoon coconut aminos
1 teaspoon coconut vinegar

Place quinoa in a medium sized pot with a lid and add coconut milk, water, salt, curry, turmeric and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the quinoa to rest for 10 minutes. While the quinoa cooks, heat the oil in a medium sized skillet or sauté pan. Add the onions, and ginger. Saute for a few minutes, until the onions start to become translucent. Add in some water so that the onions don’t stick to the pan. (You can dry saute the onions and ginger and add in water instead of using oil) Add in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until very fragrant. Add the vegetables and saute for a few minutes. Cover the pan with a lid and allow the vegetables to steam cook for about 5 minutes – add in some water and watch the vegetables so that they don’t burn. When the vegetables are tender, add in the coconut aminos and coconut vinegar and add them to the quinoa. Mix the vegetables in with the quinoa and transfer to a large serving bowl. Garnish with chopped green onion tops and sesame seeds or sliced almonds. (Adapted from Recipe Source: The Full Helping)


Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Cinnamon Glaze

Baked Donuts with Cinnamon Glaze

Sometimes you just need a donut. A yummy, satisfying, moist, flavorful donut. Comfort food that boosts serotonin a bit…or at least you feel like it does. I’m not talking about a fat-laden fried donut, but a deliciously light baked donut with a flavor packed glaze. These little beauties are some of my favorite treats because 1) they contain pumpkin – hello betacarotene! 2) they contain flaxseeds – lignans contain powerful antioxidants 3) they don’t contain added fat – which means I can eat these treats without getting a gut ache! So, get to your kitchen and whip up these lovely donuts. Then make a nice cup of tea, wrap up in a cozy blanket, and enjoy a delicious, nutritious DONUT! Yum!

Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Cinnamon Glaze

Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Cinnamon Glaze 3

Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Cinnamon Glaze 4

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend of choice
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal mixed with 3 tablespoons boiling water (let sit and “gel” for 5 minutes)
1 cup almond milk or other dairy free milk
6 tablespoons canned pure pumpkin
2 tablespoons applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla

*I use a non-stick donut pan, which doesn’t require any greasing. There are several brands on the market.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. In a seperate bowl, mix the flaxseed “egg” mixture, almond milk, pumpkin puree, applesauce and vanilla. Slowly stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Place about 1/4 cup batter in each donut spot in donut baking pan. (I used my cookie scoop and placed two scoops in each donut spot) Bake for 12-15 minutes. Cool donuts in pan for 15 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Cinnamon Glaze
1 cup organic powdered sugar
1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 – 4 tablespoons almond or other dairy free milk
Put powdered sugar into a bowl, stir in the cinnamon and vanilla. Stir in some almond milk, one tablespoon at a time, until desired glazing consistency is achieved.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Cauliflower Fried Rice 3

This recipe is so fun and quick! A great lunch option in my book – the asian flavors are subtle in this dish and very yummy! You may know by now that I am a BIG fan of the lovely cruciferous cauliflower. I love to eat it raw, steamed, roasted, made into soup, made into mac’n’cheez…the possibilities are endless really, so this cauliflower fried rice adds to the versatility of this amazing vegetable! I usually eat a cruciferous (anti-cancer) vegetable everyday, so I have been getting creative in the kitchen with the Brassica family! I love to serve this cauliflower fried rice with some baby bok choy, spinach, broccoli, or green beans for a satisfying lunch!

Cauliflower Fried Rice 2

Cauliflower Fried Rice

1 small head of cauliflower

½ cup frozen peas, thawed (or fresh)

2 cups fresh baby spinach

2 small carrots, cut into small dice

1 small white or red onion, chopped

1-2 sweet peppers, chopped (optional)

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil

1-2 tablespoons gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos

sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Remove the outer leaves of the cauliflower. Rinse and dry the cauliflower well. Cut into florets and place in food processor. Pulse until “rice”-like texture is achieved. You should roughly get about 2 1/2 cups of cauliflower “rice”. Heat a wok over high heat and add the sesame oil (if you prefer not to use oil, you can dry saute the vegetables and add a bit of water or vegetable broth to keep vegetables from sticking). Add the onions, carrots, and sweet peppers (if using) and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the riced cauliflower and gluten-free tamari and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the peas and spinach and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Lemon Poppyseed Bread

Lemon Poppyseed Bread

I’ve recently had a fetish with all things lemon. Maybe it’s because I had 6 lemons staring at me in my fridge every time I opened it! Well, I decided to add the cute little poppyseed into the mix and make a sweet bread. Now, typically in a lemon poppyseed scenario you are able to see the poppyseeds because white flour and refined white sugar are used in the recipe, but I use whole-grain flour and non-refined sugar, which is brown and makes it a bit difficult to see the poppyseeds! Rest assured that this bread is moist, perfectly lemony, and full of cute poppyseeds…even if it is difficult to see them! (I’d rather not see the poppyseeds and know that I am eating nutrients, rather than refined fluff! Just sayin…)

Lemon Poppyseed Bread 2

Lemon Poppyseed Bread 3

2 Tablespoons flaxseed meal mixed with 5 Tablespoons boiling water

3/4 cup coconut palm sugar

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

zest of 1 lemon

3/4 cup almond milk or coconut milk

1/2 cup applesauce

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

2 tablespoons poppyseeds

1 lemon half

1 cup organic powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment. Set aside. Mix flaxseed meal and water in a large bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes to “gel”. Add coconut palm sugar, 2 T. lemon juice, lemon zest, milk, applesauce, and vanilla and stir well. Mix flour, baking soda, xanthan gum, and poppyseeds in a small bowl, then add to liquid and mix well. Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes. Cool bread completely on wire rack. Combine powdered sugar and the juice from half a lemon. Mix to thoroughly combine (consistency should be a glaze). Pour over bread. Enjoy!

Root Vegetable Soup

Root Vegetable Soup

You know those Roasted Root Vegetables that I made and LOVED? Well, I happen to love the leftovers in this soup even MORE! Honestly, this soup is incredibly delicious! It’s smooth, creamy, and tastes incredible rich with a slightly sweet, smoky undertone from the roasted vegetables. This is the perfect winter soup. YUM! Here is another great lunch option for you that comes together quickly because you simply use the leftover root vegetables you made the night before and VOILA! Hot, healthy, satisfying soup for lunch! I served this alongside some millet, but you can serve this with some delicious bread or croutons and a simple salad for a fantastic lunch or dinner. Don’t you love it when you get 2 great meals out of a simple dish?!! Enjoy!

Root Vegetable Soup 2

Root Vegetable Soup 3

1 recipe Roasted Root Vegetables

1 tablespoon Earth Balance Spread (optional)

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

4 cups vegetable broth

water as needed

juice of 1/2 lemon

Melt Earth Balance Spread in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot. Stir in celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until celery is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, thyme and bay leaf; cook 1 minute more. Add leftover root vegetables and 4 cups vegetable broth, Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf. Using an immersion blender, purée soup until smooth. (Alternatively, you can purée the soup in batches in a blender or food processor.) If the soup is too thick, add water until desired consistency is achieved. Season with lemon juice and more salt to taste. Serve with crushed red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasted Root Vegetables 2

Winter is the season for root vegetables. I happen to LOVE roasting root vegetables to bring out the natural sugars and get a nice caramelization going on. Nothing better than that! This recipe is very flexible as you can use whatever root vegetables you have on hand – branch out and try some roots you haven’t before! (maybe parsnips, rutabaga, celery root) The beautiful hues of these vegetables gives you a clue to their vitamin and mineral content, as in good for you! I served these lovely roasted veggies as a side dish and my boys liked every single vegetable…my oldest said turnips were so delicious! That’s what happens when roasting comes into play. Suddenly vegetables become candy (wink-wink).

Roasted Root Vegetables 3

Roasted Root Vegetables

1 small butternut squash, halved, seeded and peeled
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
3 medium golden beets, scrubbed and tops trimmed
1 medium sweet onion
2 large turnips, scrubbed
5 large carrots, peeled
2 tablespoons grape seed oil*
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

*If you prefer not to use oil, moisten the vegetables with a bit of vegetable broth before seasoning.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut all the vegetables into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Toss all the vegetables with grape seed oil and salt in large bowl. Season generously with pepper. Divide the vegetables evenly between the 2 pans, spreading them out to assure they don’t steam while roasting. Roast the vegetables until tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Enjoy!

Creamy Sauteed Mushrooms and Spinach with Quinoa Red Lentil Pasta

Mushroom and Spinach Red Lentil Pasta

I have another quick and fabulous lunch option for you! I recently tried this new lentil quinoa pasta and LOVE it! It is gluten-free, hearty, full of fiber, cooks quickly, and is delicious! I wanted to top this pasta with a yummy vegetable sauce, so the recipe follows with what I came up with. I hope you eat mushrooms – white button mushrooms to be more specific – they are a top cancer fighter and full of antioxidants. They add such a wonderful “meaty” element to any dish and they act like a sponge for flavor, so they are an excellent vehicle to cook with. This pasta dish is creamy, flavorful, filling, and healthy. A delicious lunch that can be made quickly and enjoyed fully!

Mushroom and Spinach Red Lentil Pasta 2

Mushroom and Spinach Red Lentil Pasta 3

1 package Ancient Harvest Gluten-Free Lentil & Quinoa Supergrain Pasta (I used the red lentil variety)

drizzle of grape seed oil

1/4 cup shallots or sweet onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup white wine

8-ounces white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

5 cups baby spinach


1/2 cup water

1/2 cup cannellini beans

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/4 teaspoon oregano

splash of fresh lemon juice

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions, except don’t add oil to the water – add salt! It’s best to cook your pasta while you are cooking the vegetables, so the pasta will remain hot and be ready for the sauce. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and drizzle in a bit of grape seed oil. Add shallots and saute until softened. Add in garlic clove and saute just until fragrant – about 30 seconds. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add in the mushrooms and saute until they achieve a nice golden color. Add in the spinach and saute until it just starts to wilt. Pour sauce over the mushrooms and spinach and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve pasta in bowls topped with some sauce. Enjoy!


Lunch Bowl

Lunch Bowl

I have had quite a few requests for hearty lunch ideas. Sometimes lunch seems to get lost in the shuffle of life or maybe you get stuck in the ‘same old’ boring lunch routine. The midday meal can be exciting, quick to make, and really fun to eat! I love to make several different ingredients and throw together a yummy lunch bowl. I always have extra food to last me for several lunches, so this is a great option. I love the versatility of making a lunch bowl – really any favorite grain, vegetable, green, and legume will work here. I like adding a simple dressing to tie everything together, but you don’t have to. This is a very nutritious and fun way to eat your vegetables. My kids like to help choose what ingredients they would like for their bowls too – great way for children to eat their veggies! This example is very flexible, so get creative and make your own lunch bowl to enjoy. It’s time to get excited about lunch and get out of the “lunch rut”!

Lunch Bowl 2

Lunch Bowl 4

Curried Cauliflower

1 can (15-ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained

2/3 cup millet

2 cups water with 2 tablespoons Fresh Vegetable Bouillon

5 ounces baby spinach

1 garlic clove, minced

juice from 1/2 lemon

yellow squash or zucchini

1 large carrot

2 tablespoons tahini mixed with water to make a dressing

Make the Curried Cauliflower and during the last 10 minutes of cooking time, place cut yellow squash or zucchini on baking sheet and drizzle with a bit of grape seed oil and season with salt and pepper. Place millet in a medium pot with a lid and toast over medium heat for a minute. Add in vegetable bouillon water, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. In a medium skillet, heat a drizzle of grape seed oil over medium heat. Add in garlic and saute until fragrant for 30 seconds. Add in spinach and saute until it starts to wilt. Turn off heat and drizzle with lemon juice.

Assemble Your Lunch Bowl: Place a scoop of millet, then a scoop of beans, then a scoop of spinach, then a scoop of cauliflower, then a scoop of squash next to each other in a large bowl. Shave some carrot over the top. Drizzle with some tahini dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy! *You can place these ingredients in a bento box for children’s lunches or in a container to bring to work.