Chickpea Tacos

Chickpeas are so versatile, they are loaded with of fiber, carbs, calcium, iron, protein and vitamin A, so I suggest you use them :)  They can be roasted, cooked on stove top, used in salads, soups and stews, mashed for ‘tuna’ or hummus, baked in treats and many other easy meals.  These tacos are simple and quick. They have more flavor than I expected as I added what I usually add when making a ‘taco’ type dish and with the avocado cream sauce, it just comes together nicely.  I didn’t add extra toppings to these as I didn’t feel the need to, but you add what you like on your taco :) You could add your favorite taco seasoning if you prefer.  Share your chickpea favorites!

 

 

 

Makes about 6-8 tacos depending on size/amount used, I always double this recipe.

 

chickpeas cooking

 

Recipe inspired by the talented Jenn at  Veggie Inspired

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (you can use other beans, I have only tried chickpeas and black beans, so no guarantee on results :)
Roughly 1 cup of diced bell pepper, I mix yellow and orange
1/4 cup diced red onions
A couple handfuls of spinach, chopped
1 generous teaspoon (I used 1 1/2 tsp of minced garlic) or 1-2 large clove minced
1/4 cup vegetable broth, I leave in measuring cup because it doesn’t get used all at once
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 generous teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 generous teaspoon dried oregano
A shake or two of cayenne, (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
Tortillas of choice, we used corn

chopping

Avocado Sauce:

1 1/2  large avocado
handful of cilantro
juice of 3 limes
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
add water if needed to thin
salt & pepper to taste

Or Veggie Inspired’s , which is what I used.

Avocado sauce, add all ingredients into a blender until creamy. It makes a lot, so plan for other uses so it doesn’t go to waste.

avovado sauce

Directions:

On the stove, heat about 2 tablespoons of the vegetable broth in a pan/skillet over medium heat

Add the spices and garlic and stirring constantly for about 2 minutes then add the bell peppers and onion.stir for a couple minutes, then add the chickpeas. Saute for about 3 minutes while stirring occasionally.

Add the remaining broth and saute for about 5 minutes, add salt & pepper if needed

Heat your tortillas, add the spinach top with the avocado sauce then finish with the chickpeas and you are ready for grubbin’

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Exercise the Mind

feed our soul

 

We know real wholesome food, as in fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts and grains :) and exercise is an important part of our survival AND what the damages processed foods and lack of exercise can do to our bodies, but I feel that we often neglect exercising our minds. Mindfulness plays a key role in our survival as well. I am a huge advocate of plant based consumption,  but I also feel that if you find something that works for you, then stick to it. Putting the food aspect of our lifestyle aside and focusing on balance in our lives is detrimental to our health. Now when I say balance, for me it means balancing your life so that you have happiness and be the happiest version of yourself.  Learning how to manage the YUCK around you.  It is often overlooked, pushed aside because we think we are too busy or it isn’t something we even consider necessary for our health.  In order to feel good, we must consume ourselves in what is around us, food from the earth, air to breathe, water to replenish, nature for our well being and people who can balance us whether it is us giving or us receiving. Learning to be grateful for all we have access to is a great start.

When we started this lifestyle change, in the beginning there wasn’t a considerable focus on mindfulness, feeling centered and presence.  We started with the focus of a plant based lifestyle.  We continue to learn in this lifestyle.  As time went on, we learned the importance of developing mindfulness and inner balance.  Contributing that into our daily lives has provided much needed grounding, focus, in the moment and ease into our lifestyle. We began to incorporate more calm into our lives with meditation and focus on surrounding ourselves with more positiveness from various aspects of our day to day interactions.  Meditation and yoga have been around for ions (I may exaggerate a tad sometimes) and some of us have kinda laughed at it or have said “I am too busy for that” or “I just don’t sit still enough to focus like that”.  To those of us who have told ourselves those things, STOP! We are what we tell ourselves.  So when you complain about not having quiet time to yourselves or just needing a break, try meditation or yoga for 10-15 minutes and see what happens. Consistency is key, doing it around the same time each day, in the same place has benefits, but if you aren’t able to due to jobs, kids, school, then make time to do it everyday where it is best for you.

Look beyond the food and exercise. Find what makes your soul happy. Surround yourself with people and things that are grateful, positive, curious and passionate.  Using your energy on what drives yourself to feel good, happy and present is the same amount of energy you use on the opposite, so why not feed your soul what it will flourish on.

 

 

Meditation app Headspace is highly recommended for keeping it real

You can YouTube or search the internet for free Yoga instruction

Typical Breakfast

When I worked full time as an apparel buyer I was up at 5 AM to the gym and out the door to work by 7:30. That typically meant I was eating my breakfast at my desk when I arrived at work. I kept a bag of rolled oats, slivered almonds, dried cranberries, local honey and cinnamon in my desk for most of those mornings that I did not eat before I left the house. Occasionally I would manage to eat toast with almond butter on the way into work, as it was a 35 minute drive. Those are days of the past, but my mornings are still very similar when it comes to the early rise to the gym, especially during the winter when it is a bit more wet in the mornings. Except now, I usually eat with my kids before they head off to school and I don’t keep food in a desk anymore :) The variations have changed and are not as plain as I used to eat it, but I still enjoy those basic ingredients from time to time.

 

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Oatmeal is a main breakfast for my family which means it makes the menu a few times a week for them and almost every day for myself. We use anything from cinnamon, tumeric, vanilla, cayenne or pumpkin spice to frozen berries, pan roasted peaches or apples. Seeds and nuts are frequent in the oatmeal as is local honey.  I haven’t been too creative with any vegetables, except zucchini. When I say oatmeal, I am not referring to the box of little packaged packets of “Quaker Oats” or “Trader Joe’s Maple and Brown Sugar or Apple Cinnamon” flavors, that defeats the purpose of getting solid nutrition to start your day off because those are loaded with processed sugars and artificial flavorings. I am talking, good ‘ol old fashioned rolled oats.

Zucchini Bread Oatmeal

Zucchini Bread Oatmeal

 

Oatmeal is a great base for adding various ingredients and creating your own recipe.
A breakfast full of nutrients and beneficial energy is vital to our bodies and minds. Oatmeal packs quite a bit in a bowl on it’s own, and with just the right ingredients incorporated, you can end up with quite the powerhouse of a meal. Simply adding some fresh or frozen fruit, seeds, nuts or even mixing steel-cut oats with your rolled oats can provide nearly half of your daily nutritional needs in fiber, protein, carbs and fat. Just stay clear of brown sugar, refined sugar, sugar coated fruits, etc. stick to fresh ingredients to get the most benefit of your meal. Adding in nut butters, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax seed can boost the nutritional value of your oatmeal.

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Oatmeal is an excellent energy source with fiber, carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein.  1/4 cup oatmeal will provide 2.5g protein, 1.5g fat, 14g carbohydrates and 2g fiber. Because oatmeal is minimally processed and is a whole grain, it contains more vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients than refined and processed grains and cereals. These nutrients not only give you energy, but also help maintain muscle mass, body fluids, tissues and cell structure, and aid in absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Because oatmeal is a whole grain, it contains complex carbohydrates, such as dietary fiber which the body relies on to help maintain proper digestion.  Beneficial minerals obtained in oatmeal such as manganese which aids in energy metabolism, calcium absorption, blood sugar regulation and normal brain function, phosphorus, zinc and selenium which support your immune system, healthy bones and teeth and proper red blood cell production.

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Adding steel-cut oats can boost your power bowl to get you started off for the day. Steel cut oats do cook longer, but are worth adding into your breakfast. These oats are never cooked and start from the whole grain that is then passed through slender blades that cut the oat kernel into thin slices, where as the rolled oats are steamed then rolled. Adding in 1/4 cup of steel cut oats adds 4g of fiber, 2.5g fat,  7g of protein, 27g carbohydrates and 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance for iron, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and niacin.

Oatmeal isn’t the only choice, but it is definitely my regular go-to breakfast. Quinoa with fruit, drizzle of local honey and almond milk is a common choice in our house as is, toast. Toast is dressed up with nut butters, bananas, strawberries (when in season), cinnamon, turmeric, chia and hemp seeds and drizzled with honey or sometimes the kids drizzle pure maple syrup. Often toast with spinach rubbed with fresh lemon, avocado spread on top and sprinkled with chili flakes is the hubs favorite breakfast meal. Also, breakfast burritos (potato based) make the morning menu from time to time and I can load in the veggies. There are many options in this house and finding what works isn’t difficult because we keep as much of these ingredients on hand to make our mornings go smooth. Now sometimes we are in a rush and thankfully I keep zucchini muffins or kinda like muffins in the freezer and the kids grab one with a smoothie and they are off to school, it isn’t always rainbows and sunshine in the morning :) Most of the mornings on the weekend go a bit differently depending on what sport the kids have and may consist of french toast or blender pancakes or a long walk downtown to the local cafe.

 

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What ever your breakfast choice is, focus on the beneficial nutrients and energy of what you are consuming. This is the start of your day and fueling your brain and body is key to your daily function and overall wellness. Oatmeal is gentle in digestion (unless you need gluten free, I use Bob’s, but it is packaged in a facility that packages nuts, if you have a nut sensitivity, try GF Harvest), beneficial to the heart, mind and body.      Most of all, take the time and enjoy your meals. Share your oatmeal creations or go-to breakfasts!

 

Sources: Nutrition Facts, Livestrong, Dr. McDougall,

Kale Soup

This was a soup that I made during the summertime, which typically do not go hand in hand, but sometimes soup just sounds good.  Now, with these freezing cold nights lately, soup is happening a couple times a week because it is such a comforting meal to settle the evening with.  Also, it always helps when a meal isn’t very time consuming, tastes good and one everyone will eat.  During the week, I am more together with meal plans, but the weekend dinner meals are not always planned out because we could be going here or there and not be home.  The wonderful thing about soups besides having left overs, is once you have the liquid base, add what sounds good, there are not many vegetables that you can’t put into a soup.  If you don’t have an ingredient, sub it with what you do have. This hearty meal serves great with a salad or steamed veggies.

 

soup

Recipe inspired by:  Dr. McDougall

Ingredients:

2 15oz cans Northern White Beans, cannellini or navy beans
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 cups chopped kale, de-stemmed
1 onion, chopped well
2 carrots, sliced
1/2-1 cup zucchini sliced in quarters
1 cup small elbow macaroni, uncooked
1 lemon, freshly juiced
salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Using a medium-large pot/sauce pan, add about 1/4 of the vegetable broth and saute onions and carrots on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until soft

Add the water and remaining vegetable broth to the pan and add the beans and tomatoes

Simmer for 20 minutes

To create a thicker consistency, use a bean masher/potato masher and mash about 10-15 times.  Or a hand blender.

Add the pasta, cook uncovered for about 4 minutes, then add the kale and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Test noodles, cook more if needed.

Turn heat off and add lemon, salt and pepper to taste or some pepper flakes.  Stir well and enjoy.

 

 

 

Category: Lunch, Main Dish | Tags: , , , , ,

Fallnola

The girls have been putting in a request for granola lately and it is something that I have wanted to try. Our mornings and evenings have been cooling off which is feeling a little like fall as well as making it tolerable to use the oven more. Ava has been on a smoothie bowl fixation and the granola is what she said was missing. The evenings have been long with all the baking and taste testing, I figured granola should be pretty easy to put together. Well it sort-of was, getting the spices (flavor) down was a little harder than I realized because I wasn’t measuring, I was adding and tasting until I liked the taste. After the second batch, I felt I had it figured out. One of the convenient things about granola, you can kinda add what you want in it. This is the recipe for one of the batches I made and the flavor had a “fall” feeling.

 

The granola heading into the oven

The granola heading into the oven

 

Takes about an hour ~ Prep time about 15 minutes ~ Makes about 4 cups

Recipe Inspired by: Straight Up Food

Ingredients:

2 cups gluten free rolled oats (I use Bob’s, but it is packaged in a facility that packages nuts, if you have a nut sensitivity, try GF Harvest)
1/2 cup water
8 Medjool dates
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla
1 1/2 generous teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup dried fruit,  I used half cranberries, half goji berries or dried cranberries or raisins (or your preference)
1/2 cup nuts – optional. I chopped pepitas, sunflower, almonds and walnuts, (any nut you prefer; sliced almonds, chopped pecans, walnuts or sunflower seeds)

Directions:

Using a blender, add water, dates, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg and let it sit for about 15 minutes if dates are not soft.

Preheat oven 250 degrees F

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (you could probably use a silpat)

In a medium bowl combine the oats, raisins and nuts

Blend the date mixture until smooth and pour into the bowl with the oats and thoroughly mix with a fork

Once it is mixed, spread the granola evenly on to the baking sheet. Bake on the center rack for about 30 minutes. Remove and shift the granola around a bit with a spatula. Put back in the oven for about another 25 minutes. It should be light to medium brown when ready to pull out of the oven.

When done, pull out and let completely cool before storing it in an air tight container. Store in the fridge for lasting results.

NOTE: instead of water you could use fresh squeezed OJ and some orange zest to add in the mix after adding the date mixture.  Nuts are always optional. You can also add in the fixins after its baked if you prefer to not cook them.

 

Someone is putting granola in their lunch :)

Someone is putting granola in their lunch :)

 

Mashed Potatoes

Oh MY! These mashers are not just for the Holidays! But the holidays are upon us, so add this to your menu!  I made these last year for Ava’s classroom that did a Thanksgiving Feast at school and I somehow managed to volunteer myself for mashed potatoes, I don’t ever make mash potatoes. We are not a family who eats a ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving meal but there are 3 family members who love mashed potatoes.  Because they were so simple and flavorful, I have decided that this is definitely a recipe to be made whenever mashed potatoes are part of a meal!   I have pretty much avoided making them in the past because I thought they were so time consuming (peeling potatoes for days ;) and I just didn’t take the time to figure out how to get them creamy tasting.  Brandi over at the Vegan 8 is genius with her minimal ingredient recipes and I love trying them out. We have had success with just about every recipe we have tried. I saw these come through and thought, perfect timing!! This dish is buttery and creamy and they do not have any of those ingredients in them!! Win Win!!

 

ingredients to add

Coconut milk, garlic and pepper

boiling the taters

Total time: about  30 minutes ~ Makes about 2 cups

I was not able to find large Yukon gold potatoes so I used the little ones. I bought some at a local organic produce store, but I have seen them at Trader Joe’s as well. I did not peel all of them completely, there was some skin left on and they mashed up wonderfully. I would definitely suggest not using any other potato for this recipe because the Yukon golds provide a rich butter flavor to the recipe. I doubled this recipe and it took about an hour total. And I have a decent sized bowl full of mashed potatoes. I followed Brandi’s recipe and did not add any additional flavoring, I liked the end result. Maybe next time I will play around with some chives or thyme.

mashing them up

Click here for the recipe: Fluffy Buttermilk Vegan Mashed Potatoes

Kindness

I came across this quote on Pinterest the other day and when I saw it, it reminded me of many things, but mostly that we really need to remember that all it takes is a smile, saying excuse when needing to reach for something in front of someone else, saying please and thank you, giving a compliment big or small, promote compassion, letting someone move over into your lane, volunteer, a hug and even self-care. The list could go on and on but we all know how to be kind, why isn’t there more of it? Why do some people have a hard time showing it? It isn’t difficult, it is quite simple and easy. Share your daily kindness with us. For everyone has a story…

It doesn’t take much time or energy to be kind; share it, spread it, set the example, BE IT!

Your body, heart and soul will thank you.

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Chipotle Sweet Potato Chili

There has been a request for the same chili just about every week and frankly, it isn’t my favorite but it is super easy to toss everything into the Instant Pot and have dinner done in less than 10 minutes from beginning to end.  So I decided to change things up while keeping the basics of the chili.  I added chipotle peppers to it in hoping it would change the flavor enough to make it a ‘new’ chili.  I haven’t used chipotle peppers much, but the one dish I made with them had such a wonderful flavor and I thought it would make this basic chili a bit more savory.  I was happy with the result and it was a meal that everyone enjoyed.

 

Ingredients:

2 – 14oz cans diced tomatoes with chilies
4 large garlic cloves minced
1 red onion diced
1 orange bell pepper diced
1 14oz can black beans, be sure to rinse and drain
2 cups vegetable broth
1 medium sweet potato, diced in half inch cubes
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt & pepper to taste

Note: I did not add chili powder like I would to the chili because of the chipotle peppers, it adds some heat to it.  Add less peppers if you want to reduce the heat.  I also will heat the diced sweet potato in the microwave for about 3 minutes to speed the process.

Directions:

Using and Instantpot: turn on and select the chili function and lower the time to 3 minutes. While it is heating up, add the onion and bell pepper and sautee for about 2 minutes.  Then add the garlic stir well and let sautee for about a minute.  Add all remaining ingredients, stir well and lock the lid until done.  Be sure to let it release naturally.

Using stove top:  In a large pot add onion and bell pepper and sautee over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sautee for about a minute then add all remaining ingredients, stir well and bring to a simmer.  Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 35 minutes.  If it becomes thick, just add a little water at a time.

Serve with cilantro and avocado on top or any of your favorite toppings.