Citrus Pesto and Pasta

Zest.  Such an underrated world.  You have to have zest for life!  I like to think I have a zest for life and a try-anything-once sort of attitude.  Just this month I was traveling, skiing, hiking, skydiving (that’s right, 18,000ft!), and began a new startup.  As exhausting as it can be, I feel blessed to have these opportunities and I want to take advantage of them all!  Of course… couch time with a warm bowl of zesty pasta is good, too!

citrus pesto welli citrus pesto skydive

Citrus pesto pasta is quick, light delicious and fills you up just enough.

 

Citrus Pesto and Pasta

Citrus Pesto and Pasta

Citrus Pesto Pasta

(serves 4)

vegan, gluten free

Ingredients:

 

  • 4c cooked brown rice pasta (or gluten free pasta of choice)
  • 1/2c almonds
  • 2 handfuls fresh parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1T orange zest
  • 1T lemon zest
  • 1T lime zest
  • 1T coconut oil
  • 3T water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can artichokes (chopped)
  • 1.5-2c chopped leeks (be sure to clean these suckers well!).

Directions:

In a blender or food processor, add almonds, parsley, garlic, zests, coconut oil and water.  Begin blending or processing until you have a pesto consistency.  Season with salt and pepper.

Next, in a cook pan at 2T water or oil, and over medium heat begin to saute your thoroughly cleaned leeks.  Saute for about five minutes, adding more water or oil as needed.  When leeks are soft, add artichokes and begin to warm.

Citrus Pesto Pasta

Finally, add brown rice pasta and pesto to the pan.  Fold together all of your ingredients until warmed and well incorporated.

A few great additions to this pasta are olives, sundried tomatoes, and vegan parmesan (a homemade version is super simple).

 Citrus Pesto Pasta - vegan

So whether you go out and experience new things this week or chill on the couch for a bit; add just a bit of zest!

 

 

 

 

Ginger Brownies

Ginger brownies, because one can never enjoy too many brownies in life.  And speaking of enjoying life, it has been quite a while since my last post.  And we (the boyfriend and me) have been uber busy yet again!

In the last few weeks we’ve gone to casinos (never been before), a few parties, hiking in Tahoe, celebrated St. Patricks Day/someone’s 40th birthday party… not either of ours, lol… and I not only got to see snow, but I got to ski in it, too! Something I haven’t done in almost 10 years.

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What made it all more wonderful was enjoying these epic events with my boyfriend who is just as crazy as I am.  Did I mention we decided to wear wigs on our hike, and maybe for the rest of the day?  Sadly, no, that is not our real hair though I think he looks pretty good with a mullet.

ginger brownies 4 ginger brownies 3

Despite the business of life, I’m still trying to stay busy in the kitchen.  I made “award winning” Frangelico brownies (not the brownie recipe I’m sharing today), peppermint protein bars and chocolate, caramel cookies to name just a few of the treats going on in my kitchen.  Of course I make actual food, too, but my sweet tooth comes first.

Here it goes, Ginger Brownies with a hint of orange…

Ginger Brownies

Ginger Brownies

Ginger Brownies

(grain free, vegan)

serves 8; double recipe for 8×8 pan

Ingredients:

  • 1/2c coconut flour
  • 1/2c arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 cacao powder (sub 1/2c with carob powder if you’d like; I do!)
  • 1/8t uncut stevia
  • 1/4c maple syrup
  • 3T coconut oil
  • 1 ripe plantain (pureed)
  • 1 1/2t ginger powder
  • 1/4t baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 2T Grand Marnier (orange juice works, too)
  • 1/4c dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 2-4T ginger chips
  • 2T almond milk 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a loaf pan with parchment paper; or double the recipe and line an 8×8″ baking pan.  Stir together dry ingredients.  Mix in wet ingredients and stir until well combined.  Now mix in chocolate chips and crystalized ginger chips.

Pour batter into lined pan and bake 25 min.  Let cool then devour.

Ginger Brownies v, gf

The brownies are thick and fudgy, and not cake-like at all.  Brownies should not be cakey—that’s what cake is for, right?  And with every tasty bite, you can be happy knowing that you’re eating wholesome ingredients cleverly disguised as delicious dessert.  With a hint of spice from the ginger and a few chewy ginger bits, it takes the taste of these brownies to an exotic level.  They go from a typical brownie to something a wee bit fancier.  Awesome.

So if you feel the need to impress your friends, family members or coworkers with a touch of spice and wholesome brownie goodness, these will certainly do just that.

ginger brownies 7

Carrot and Parsnip Mash

Do you sometimes feel like your life is uber busy?  I feel like I live in a whirl wind of work, life and more awesomeness.  One week I was in California, the next week at a race, then working long hours, Church, time with friends, a surprise stay-cation with the boyfriend, and wouldn’t you know it?  Back to California next week!  If that was a lot to read, believe me, it’s a lot to do.

carrot and parsnip savannah carrot and parsnip race

Despite the business of life, I still love to take time to sit and eat a good dinner with my loved ones.  I’m a little obsessive about it actually.  Sitting down and reflecting and sharing with the people you are living life with is so important and it gives me an excuse to try new recipes on my victims loved ones….

carrot and parsnip girls

I’m so used to passing the mashed potatoes at dinner but this time I went a new direction with my root vegetables.  Carrot and parsnip mash!  It could not be any easier and has such a fresh and down-to-earth taste, you may be swapping your spuds out more often.

Carrot & Parsnip Mash

Carrot & Parsnip Mash

Carrot and Parsnip Mash

(vegan, grain free)

Ingredients:

  • 6  medium-large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3  medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 1T dried thyme [though fresh might be better...)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring a pot with 1/2c salted water to a boil.  Once it's boiling, toss in your chopped root vegetables.  Bring the water from high heat to medium and let steam 15-20 minutes until soft.

carrot and parsnip

(rainbow carrots)

Begin to mash the vegetables adding the coconut milk and thyme and mashing until it's the consistency you like.  I like 'em mushy!  Add salt and pepper to taste. [A teaspoon or two of coconut oil might be good, too.  Let me know if you try!]

Another simple side dish for your next dinner.  Food should not be complicated.  Healthy, wholesome and simple is best.  This mash doesn’t taste like your everyday mashed potatoes.  The carrots lend a smooth sweetness that is countered by the spice of the parsnips.  The coconut milk and thyme blend and smooth the sweet and spicy duo.  Enjoy!

carrot and parsnip JK

Vegan Ricotta

The boyfriend and I are studying to get our Personal Trainer Certification. Let me clarify…. The boyfriend and I, and his Dad are studying! haha. It’s too much fun getting together once a week to go over materials and videos and being equally confused by the terminology together.

vegan ricotta

In my opinion, no gathering whether it be a party or a study session, is complete without delicious food. I’ve kind of made it my job to whip up a special dinner each week before the guests arrive. One week it was tempeh tacos, last week socca bread and a few side dishes and this week a TVP bolognese, steamed broccoli, spiralized zucchini pasta (quinoa pasta, too) and ricotta. Excuse me, vegan ricotta!

Vegan ricotta and vegan parmesan

Vegan ricotta tastes every bit as creamy and rich as the yucky, not-good-for-you dairy version, and better yet it’s faster to make then driving to the store for a tub.

Vegan Ricotta

Vegan Ricotta

Vegan Ricotta
(serves 5-6)

Ingredients:

  • 1 package firm (or extra firm) tofu
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1t lemon juice
  • 2T water or non dairy milk
  • 1T dried basil
  • 1T dried oregano
  • 2-4T nutritional yeast

Directions:

In a blender or food processor add your liquid ingredients and toss in about half the tofu.  Begin to blend or process (do not over process, you don’t want it to be creamy yet).  Now you can add in your dry ingredients and blend or process the mixture until it reaches your desired consistency.

Vegan Ricotta and Parmesan

Stop and taste a few times in the process to get the taste you like.  Play with the seasonings, start by adding a little and then more as necessary.  I for one am a huge fan of garlic and can get way too carried away… hope the boyfriend doesn’t mind.

Anyway, that’s it, that’s all there is to it.  Easy, right?  Try the ricotta with your next spaghetti dinner or lasagna or cannelloni, anything Italian really.  Now, MANGE!

vegan ricotta Italian meal

Other recipes you might enjoy:

"Spaghetti and Meat Sauce"

“Spaghetti and meatsauce”

Sun Dried Tomato Spread

Sun Dried Tomato Spread

stuffed cabbage

Stuffed Cabbage

Raspberry Chambord Brownies

It’s no surprise that I am a brownie junkie.  The  fact that I am wheat, meat and dairy free will not stop me from devouring these densely, delicious treats.  For Valentine’s day I thought of making brownies but I wanted to do something special with my Raspberry Chocolate Balsamic Pie; now that the lovely holiday is over, bring on the brownies!

raspberry chambord and flowers    IMG_2804

raspberry chambord

There are some ingredients in my brownies I don’t like to mess with (i.e. plantains, maple syrup, chocolate) but then I like to get a little creative.  This time around I wanted to put the raspberry balsamic to good use again and what better to compliment its raspberry flavor than CHAMBORD! yum.

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These brownies won’t knock you out but they will leave you feeling good.  That goodness comes from the rich (but not overly sweet) raspberry chocolate flavor and the fact that these are some of the healthiest brownies you’ll ever eat.

Raspberry Chambord Brownies

Raspberry Chambord Brownies

Raspberry Chambord Brownies
(Vegan, Grain Free)

(serves 8)

Ingredients:

  • 6T hemp flour*
  • 2T coconut flour
  • 2T arrowroot starch
  • 1/2c cacao powder (I used half carob and half cacao)
  • 1/4t baking soda
  • 1/8t uncut stevia
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 c shredded coconut (you can omit or maybe add your favorite nut)
  • 1 ripe plantain
  • 2T raspberry balsamic (sub almond milk)
  • 2T chambord
  • 1T vanilla extract
  • 1/4c maple syrup
  • 2T (or more) chocolate chips

*If you don’t have hemp flour, sub with ground oats or gluten free flour of choice but know that they may no longer be grain free depending on what you choose.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a loaf pan (or line with parchment paper.  In a mixing bowl, sift together all of your dry ingredients.  In a blender, blend the plantain and liquid ingredients.  Pour the liquid ingredients into the mixing bowl and stir together until well combined.  Now add the desired amount of chocolate chips [2T was plenty good for me and I love chocolate! but feel free to add more...].

Pour the brownie batter into the loaf pan and place in the oven to bake 25 min.

The brownies should probably cool before you slice into them, though I am guilty of eating the scalding hot brownies and making a mess.  Your call.

Raspberry Chambord Brownies vegan, grainfree

If 8 brownies doesn’t cut it for you, double the recipe and use an 8×8 pan.  Eight brownies hardly lasts 8 minutes in my place!

If you like these brownies, give some of these other brownies and desserts a whirl!

raspberry cham orlando

(My city is beautiful)

Raspberry Balsamic Chocolate Pie

I love family dinners.  My mom makes the most fantastic meals (and a special vegan dish for me and the boyfriend) and my responsibility, much like at the holidays, is dessert!  So, I love family dinners and I love dessert.  I think I’m pretty easy to please.  This last family dinner was a belated birthday celebration for one of my brother’s and the boyfriend.  As usual, mom was shopping for dinner all week and I should have been in dessert planning mode but with all the traveling and time spent with a certain someone special, I had no time to prep! [not that I'm complaining, haha].

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So in a mad rush after work and before the dinner that evening I came up with this deliciously creamy pie.  Minimal ingredients and time needed, the key is to have a delicious flavored balsamic on hand.

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(Yup, still marinating in my Seahawks victory!)

  I have a raspberry and a pomegranate at home but the raspberry is my favorite, so go ahead and choose your favorite.  Not quite sure how regular balsamic will work but if you try it, let me know!  Anyway, here’s the pie:

Raspberry Balsamic Chocolate Pie

Raspberry Balsamic Chocolate Pie

Raspberry Balsamic Chocolate Pie

 

vegan, gluten free

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 package silken tofu (shelf stable variety, not refrigerated because they taste funny)
  • 1 generous cup chocolate chips; or your favorite crushed chocolate bars
  • 2t cacao powder
  • 1/4 c raspberries
  • 3T raspberry balsamic
  • 1T vanilla extract
  • *optional stevia if the chocolate is just not cutting it for you

Directions:

In a food processor, begin to process the tofu, balsamic, raspberries and vanilla until creamy.  Now you’ll add in the two teaspoons of cacao powder.  In a separate bowl carefully melt the chocolate.  You can do this over the stove top or pop it in the microwave for about 15 seconds at a time (stir in between).  When the chocolate is nicely melted, add it to the food processor and blend, blend, blend.  All in all, this recipe takes about 5 minutes to make (and even less to consume, it’s yummy).

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When you’ve finished, pour the contents of the food processor into a prepared pie crust and place in the fridge to cool for an hour or two.  This pie will freeze well, too!

For my pie crust I used walnuts, dates and a few store bought “oreos” [vegan and gf variety!].  Next time I’ll probably skip the “oreos” and just use cacao powder and coconut but it was a special occasion.

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And speaking of special occasions, maybe you can whip this up for your loved ones tonight.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Sweet Potato Hummus

Sweet potatoes, good.  hummus, good.  Sweet potato hummus, SO GOOD!  I love sweet potatoes and I could probably eat one every day of the week.  They are so stinkin’ delicious, especially after you’ve roasted them and released all the sweet caramely goodness.  It’s really easy to roast a sweet potato.  Preheat oven to 420F, wrap the sweet potato in aluminum foil, put in oven till mushy and soft, or about 45min to an hour.   Sweet potatoes are utterly versatile!  You can use them in everything from breakfast, desserts and smoothies to easy, peasy hummus dip.

Grab a chip, cracker or spoon and dig in to this recipe:

Sweet Potato Hummus

Sweet Potato Hummus

Sweet Potato Hummus

Vegan, gluten free

Ingredients:

  • 1 can rinsed, drained garbanzo beans
  • 1 medium size roasted sweet potato (remove skin if you prefer)
  • 1T lemon juice
  • 1T tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves (optional or one if you don’t like garlic)
  • 2+ T of water (to reach desired consistency)
  • salt to taste

Directions:

Place beans, sweet potato, and lemon juice in food processer (or high powered blender) and begin to process.  It will not reach a smooth consistency yet, so no worries.  Now add in tahini and optional garlic, salt to taste and begin to blend.  Now is when you want to begin adding water one tablespoon at a time to reach your desired consistency.  [some people use oil but I think this is every bit as delicious and crazier healthier without it!].

Sweet potato hummus vegan

This hummus is also great in salads, wraps and on sandwiches, too.  It’s amazing how creative you can get with hummus or a sweet potato!

 

Other recipes you might enjoy:

sweet potato ice cream

Autumn Ice Cream

ginger cookies

Soft Baked Ginger Snaps

Thai Spring Rolls

Easy Peanut Sauce