Cheesey Macaroni with Chickpeas and Spinach

Cheesey Macaroni with Chickpeas and Spinach

This is a low fat recipe that is also vegan and gluten-free. It makes for a simple yet hearty dinner and can be packaged for lunch throughout the week as well.

Ingredients
2 cups dry brown rice macaroni
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
16 oz of organic baby spinach
1/4 cup plain unsweetened coconut yogurt. I use So Delicious brand*.
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
pepper and sea salt, to taste

*If you cannot find this yogurt, you can use a little unsweetened plain almond milk. To thicken (if needed), you can try adding a bit of corn starch.

Instructions
1. Cook the pasta in a medium-large saucepan following the package instructions. Drain (although not in excess) and return back to pot immediately in its slightly damp state.

2. On the lowest heat setting, add in all of the ingredients and stir together gently until everything is mixed and the spinach is lightly wilted.

This recipe yields 4 small servings for a side dish or two large servings for a meal.

Enjoy!

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Homemade Oat Pancakes Topped with Hot Strawberries

Homemade Oat Pancakes Topped with Hot Strawberries

Pancakes! Most conventional pancake mixes have additives, preservatives, and processed soy and whey in them. If you are looking for a quick, healthy, and delicious alternative to this weekend breakfast favorite, look no further.

Ingredients
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 of one large ripe speckled banana
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
A tiny pinch of sea salt
1 16-oz bag of organic frozen strawberries
Pure maple syrup (optional)

Instructions
1. In a high speed blender, blend all of the ingredients (except berries) to form a light-medium consistency pancake batter.

2. In a medium saucepan with a lid, heat the berries on low, stirring often. They will become a compote-like consistency. Turn heat off and keep covered.

3. Heat a nonstick skillet on low-medium. You can use coconut oil spray to coat the pan too (optional).

4. Pour the batter onto the pan to desired pancake size. Cook on one side until bubbling on the top and the edges are golden brown, then flip, as you would cook any pancakes.

5. Plate finished pancakes and top with the strawberries and a drizzle of maple syrup (optional).

This recipe yields 3 large pancakes or 6 small – good for one very hungry individual or two people. This can easily be doubled for a family of 3-4 people. Enjoy!

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Basil Cashew Cream Spread

Basil Cashew Cream Spread

My basil cashew cream spread is quick and simple to make and perfect for collard wraps, zucchini noodles, raw lasagna, or as a dip for veggies and crackers. I hope you enjoy the creamy texture and fresh basil flavor.

Ingredients
1 cup raw cashews
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 handful fresh basil
1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
pepper to taste
water

Directions

1. Place cashews in a bowl and cover with filtered water. Let them soak in the fridge for 5 hours.

2. Next, drain and rinse cashews

3. In a high speed blender or food processor, put in the cashews, 1/4 cup water, and remaining ingredients.

4. Blend well until a creamy texture is achieved. You may need to add more water to achieve the desired consistency you are looking for.

This is a versatile recipe; you can make the spread thick or thin it out with more water for noodle dishes. I made collard wraps, using beautiful collard leaves that were growing in my garden.

Thanks for reading!

Be the light,
Mary

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Homemade Maple Coconut Bacon

Homemade Maple Coconut Bacon

No piggies were harmed in the making of this bacon. Holy wow! I’m so proud of myself for this one (but honestly, it’s quite simple to make). I really got a solid coconut bacon recipe down. It took only 20 min total including prep and bake time. It’s low-effort and ummm… tastes better than bacon made from a pig, in my honest opinion. REALLY good! You don’t have to miss bacon at all when you have this delicious treat! Salty, savory, sweet, and crunchy – plus it’s a healthy fat made with organic shaved coconut (a real, whole food, my friends).

You can eat this by itself for a treat, in a breakfast scramble, in an avocado sandwich, in wraps, on top of salads – you get the idea.

Ingredients:
2 cups of organic shaved coconut (Note: not shredded; and the only ingredient should be coconut)
1.5 tbsp liquid smoke
1 tbsp maple syrup
Option 1: 1 tbsp (or to taste) tamari or liquid aminos – this option will taste saltier and more like bacon
Option 2: sea salt generously sprinkled (or to taste) – this option is less salty and more mild in flavor

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place nonstick baking paper on a cookie sheet.

3. Spread out shaved coconut evenly across the pan.

4. Coat with all of the remaining ingredients. Mix with your hands until everything is coated well and spread out on the pan evenly.

5. Bake for 12 min for soft bacon or 14-15 minutes for crisp, well-done bacon. Please keep an eye on it from the 10-minute mark on, as oven settings will vary.

6. Remove from the oven and let it cool. Use it that day or store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for the week. This also keeps well in the freezer, so you can batch cook this in advance for the month so that you always have some on hand.

Enjoy!

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Homemade Raw Tahini

Homemade Raw Tahini

Homemade raw tahini is a winner! Making your own is such a money saver compared to buying a jar at the store (and in my opinion, it tastes better). You can use this as a spread in wraps, as a base for dressings and dips, or simply treat yourself to a spoonful for healthy, whole fats. It’s so good! 🌻

Sesame seeds are magical – they are an excellent source of manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, and fiber. 🌻

They help with bone health, colon health, support vascular and respiratory health, and are cholesterol lowering. 🌻

Recipe:
🌾2 cups raw sesame seeds
🌾water
🌾juice of 1/2 a lemon
🌾touch of seal salt (opt.)

Directions:
Blend up in a Vitamix or food processor, adding water gradually 1/4 cup at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Enjoy!

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Organic Gluten-Free Vegan Food On a Budget: An Experiment

Organic Gluten-Free Vegan Food On a Budget: An Experiment

When we stop eating crap, we stop feeling like crap. A while back, I wrote a blog article called “Eating Healthy on a Budget: Cut Your Grocery Costs and Feel Amazing.” I priced out healthy food for a family of three for a week for $95.

Well today, I kicked it up a notch and this time I purchased a week’s worth of all certified ORGANIC food for two people from a health food store (in a state where the cost of living is quite high), which is not the most cost effective way to go. I approached it this way on purpose to experiment.

You see, I’m trying to settle the score that “healthy food (and vegan food) is too expensive,” when in fact it can be less expensive than standard American diet food or a meat and dairy based diet. So I purchased these items in the most expensive way possible, and also accounted for vegan Shakeology for two people (two superfood smoothies per day) as well as some convenience foods like organic Amy’s frozen veggie burgers. I also added in $5 to factor in other kitchen staples such as seasonings and condiments used for the week. With that said, my total came out to about $160 (or $80 per person).

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Now, a better way to do this to make this more affordable and practical, is you could easily grow many of your own organic fruits and veggies, pick your own from local organic farms, can and freeze foods, join a CSA or co-op, purchase dry goods in bulk, batch cook, purchase seasonal foods, go to farmer’s markets, shop sales, and do this for MUCH CHEAPER! There are blogs about eating plant-based on as little as $4 a day. And remember, this experiment was done in a pricey manner purchasing organic foods.

You can instead purchase organic when possible or personally necessary; because unfortunately, conventionally grown produce is cheaper. One method is to follow the guidelines of “The Clean Fifteen” and “The Dirty Dozen.” This will help save money as well, if you are flexible.

Trust me. I’m of modest means, and I’m not out of touch with reality. I understand that some families can only afford $50-$75 a week for food and sometimes that’s to feed more people. All we can do is our best. This is not about self-judgement or judgement of others. This is about making health a priority as much as we can within our means.

According to a USA Today report, “The latest numbers for a four-member family: a thrifty food plan, $146 a week; a low-cost food plan, $191 a week; a moderate-cost plan, $239; a liberal plan, $289 a week. Some food waste is built into these costs.”

Expensive foods are usually convenience foods. And with a little time and meal planning, you can reap the health and financial benefits of eating real food you prepare yourself where you know exactly what is going into it.

I would love for you to join my upcoming 30-day health and fitness challenge, “The Glow So Healthy Pre-Summer Challenge” where we will be using PiYo workouts and a plant-based meal plan to reach our health goals (starts May 3, 2015). The kit is $140, and I will be your coach and offer my holistic health coaching services for free. To learn more, please comment or email me for details. I will work with you to help improve your lifestyle habits so you can become the healthiest version of yourself. I hope to hear from you.
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