Easy Chickpea Salad

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I have been squeezing lemons and limes on my salads lately for a quick and easy dressing on these warm summer days.  Lemons and limes not only bring out flavor, they provide some benefits to the body.  They are and excellent source of Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, are an antioxidant, and help aid in digestion.  All the more reason to squeeze freshness into your food.

This is a salad that I whipped up with some basic ingredients I have stocked in the kitchen.  If you follow me on Instagram, you know I am a huge fan of chickpeas.  Another incredible nutrition powerhouse that can go in just about any meal, just about :)  A few favorite things about this flavorful salad is that is was not only easy to make, but so refreshing to eat on a warm day. Also, oil free is a bonus!

Ingredients:

2 cans rinsed and drained chickpeas
2 garlic cloves, diced (I used a couple large ones)
1 small red onion, diced
the juice of 4 limes (freshly squeezed, no store container stuff)
1 jalapeño, diced and seeded to your level of heat
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 avocado, chopped
desired amount of arugula or preferred greens

Directions:

Using a medium size bowl, add all ingredients (except avocado) and mix well.  Eat right away or chill in the refrigerator for a few hours (my preferred method).  When you are ready to eat, add the avocado and greens. I made it with arugula and dandelion greens and it was delicious.

 

Blender Pancakes

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Since some mornings can be more hectic than others, who is a fan of anything quick to make and easy to clean up?

ME! ME! ME!…

With most meals, I am always looking to change things up. Breakfast is one of those meals that tends to get stagnant because the kids are responsible for getting themselves fed in the mornings.

However, if I am ready and make time to prepare something for everyone, then they eat that.  But that doesn’t happen too regularly.  Both girls have a sport activity 4 out of the 5 days each week, so it is imperative they have a nutritious breakfast to get through the start of their school day. Their minds and bodies are still growing.

Breakfast for the kids usually consists of a smoothie and something else like oatmeal, toast (with nut butter and fruit) or quinoa bowl with fruit. If I make it for everyone then it is usually breakfast potato/veggie burritos, chickpea scramble or pancakes.  We get creative sometimes, but some days its basic breakfast.

The kids always ask for pancakes, and on a very very rare occasion I will get a premix pancake mix and adjust the additions to make them. However, I am eliminating as much packaged pre-made food from our home so finding ways to make pancakes has been quite the priority lately (and I have another one to share soon).

These rounds of goodness are a favorite to eat and to make.  Everything goes into a blender.. SCORE!!  If we have leftovers made, I wrap them up and the kids either take them to school for a snack, to sports or heat them in the toaster oven for a snack when they get home from school.

ready to blend

Ingredients:

1 flax egg (place 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed into blender and add 3 tablespoons of water) and let sit for a few minutes before adding the remaining ingredients.
2 average sized bananas (not very large) and put it in the blender
1 cup almond milk
1 generous tablespoon of pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 generous teaspoon of cinnamon
little shake of turmeric
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups of rolled oats (you can use gluten free option)
1/2 cup dairy free chocolate chips OR blueberries

pouring pancakes

Directions:

Get the flax egg started if you haven’t already and while you’re gathering your other ingredients, it will form into a egg like texture

Depending on what you are cooking them on, get the pan heated and ready

Add everything EXCEPT the chocolate chips or blueberries and then blend until smooth, like a pancake batter.  Once blended smooth, add your chocolate chips or blueberries and stir in by hand.

Begin scooping the batter out with a tablespoon, about 2 tablespoons per pancake as it keeps them fluffy and cooking thoroughly.  Flip when bubbling around edges starts to pop, depending on how your pan cooks it may be sooner. A couple minutes on each side.

After done, top with your favorite toppings: ours are usually consumed plain as the kids like them just as they are. Peanut or almond butter with chopped strawberries and bananas and a drizzle of syrup are favorites as well.  Get creative, make them into sandwiches or top with nuts, share your favorites with us.

Tacos with Sweet Potato Wedges

Our family tends to eat our fair share of beans and legumes, rice, millet or quinoa and veggies all mixed together in some form.  I love that they offer versatility, are filling yet satisfying and full of yummy goodness our active bodies thrive on. These ingredients haven’t failed me and adding different mixes of spices to them gives them a variety in taste.  Sometimes potatoes are added as well. Whether we packed them in a tortilla, fill a taco or toss in a bowl, some of our favorite meals are created with these staples.

I took a typical taco dish I make and added sweet potato wedges and different toppings to create a newish dinner for taco Tuesday.  Now, I didn’t want to bake the sweet potatoes in the oven because that would take too long and I didn’t have any prepped to use.  So the quickest way is to steam/pan cook them on the stove.  I tried the microwave first to get them a little cooked, then into the pan on the stove.  They were fine, but you just want to be sure they aren’t over cooked from the microwave.  So the better results were the way I listed in the recipe below.

The results were well received by the family with happy full bellies.  There isn’t much added to this dish, but the flavors balanced well with each other. Besides the chopping, which is usually involved in most meals (must keep on top of prepping ahead more) this meal was easy and fairly quick to make.

 

cooking sweet potato tacos

 

Makes: 8 – 10 tacos

Ingredients:

2 medium size sweet potatoes sliced into wedges, about 1/2 inch thick (I am guessing, I just sliced them to what I felt would be manageable to eat)
1 can of black beans
1 cup of corn, if frozen rinse well
1 small red onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 – 1 teaspoon chili powder (depending on your preference)
handful cilantro, chopped well
2-3 green onions fully chopped
juice from 1 lime
1 avocado
corn tortilas

 

seet potato taco

 

Directions:

Cut the sweet potatoes into wedges if not done already

Add about 3/4 cup of water to a large saute pan over medium high heat and then add the sweet potatoes.  Cover and simmer for about 8 minutes or until they are cooked through but not too soft they start to fall apart.  Remove from pan and set aside.

I used the same pan, but use separate one if you prefer.  Next you will need to add the onion and garlic with 2 tablespoons of water and cover on low heat for about 10 minutes.

Now add the sweet potato, corn, beans, and spices.  Continue to cook over medium low heat and stir gently until heated through. Add about a table spoon of lime juice and continue to stir.  Cook them for about 5 minutes.

While that is cooking, take the avocado and mash it in a bowl with the remaining lime juice, salt/pepper, splash of franks hot sauce if you’d like.

Mix together the cilantro and green onions in a separate bowl

You can add diced tomatoes as well

Heat your tortillas and fill’er up.  I spread the avocado on the tortilla then added the taco mixture and sprinkled the cilantro/green onion on top.  If you like avocado, top the taco off with more!

Enjoy!

 

Coconut Cashew Hangry Bars

Not sure how many Lara Bars we have purchased over the years, but more than enough to have given one to everyone at a soccer tournament!  Peanut Butter Cookie and Coconut Cream Pie are the top favorites in this house.

I decided that it was time to make them as it was getting challenging to find them on sale and it was just getting a bit expensive to purchase them regularly.  But I had to be sure I could make them for less than I was purchasing them.  Dates are pricey and I managed to find some at an acceptable price but I am still searching for a bulk source. (if you know any, please LMK :)   Also, I wanted to add other ingredients that provide more vitamins and minerals.

Proportions are not my expertise, but if I didn’t try I would never figure it out.  After a couple batches, I finally got the desired texture/substance ratio.  Then it was getting the add ins to the right measurements so it wouldn’t change the texture too much.  Let’s just say we had a lot of samples in the kitchen.

Now for why I was really excited about making these… Nutrient packed yumminess!!  The bars are high in calcium, iron, fiber, protein, carbohydrates and antioxidants, with NO FAKE INGREDIENTS  woot woot!!

These are a great source of energy for the body without the feeling of heaviness.  They provide enough nutrients and carbohydrates to the body that can easily be digested and will not make the body work overtime to digest during activity, unlike other snacks or sports bars (look closely at ingredients)

Please share your feedback, I would love to know if you made these and how they turned out.

unwrapped

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup pepitas
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup goji berries
14-16 medium-large Medjool dates, be sure they are soft (I can not guarantee the result using soaked dates)
5 dried figs
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
Optional – 3 Tablespoons cacao nibs or chocolate chips

hangry bar ingredients

Directions:

Line a glass baking dish with parchment paper (7″ x 11″)

Using a food processor, place everything except the shredded coconut (if you put it in sooner it produces a wet oily texture from the heat of the processor, I know from experience!) * see note below about the chocolate chips before adding

Mix processor until it starts to get crumbly, ( the dates and figs are broken down and not chunky) and you will see it begin to hold together, don’t let it get fully sticky where it starts to ball up.  You can check it and if you pinch some of the mix together and it sticks then its starting to hold.

hangry bar process coconut

Add the coconut (if using chocolate chips add those now) once it is blended, process until it begins to stick, you may need to scrape in between. It should form a more solid texture (sticks together on its own) and that is when it is done.

 

Once it is sticking together, scoop from processor and place in the line baking dish and begin to evenly flatten it out with a spatula or use a piece of parchment paper and press with your hands.

going in dish

Once it is all in the pan, place in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.  Cut them into bars or squares.  You can store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator.  These hold well for a couple hours out of the fridge as long as they are not sitting in a hot car :) or in direct sunlight.

NOTE: If you are using the chocolate chips, the mix will appear dark from some of the chocolate melting from the warmth of the food processor. You can also add them in with the coconut and they will be more chunky.  The cacao nibs will not give the same result so those can go in with everything at once. The kids preferred these plain (without chocolate chips) but they also liked the ones with the cacao nibs.

all shown

 

DATES: are a whole food and rich in antioxidants (polyphenols) and are not going to reek havoc on your blood sugar or overall health like processed and granulated sugars will. This doesn’t mean to go buy a pound of dates and chow down,  but rather instead of reaching for the candy bar, cliff bar, protein bar, sports bar or can of soda, grab a date! Dates provide fiber for cholesterol levels and helps with digestion, potassium for your blood and heart, calcium for your bones and the use of other essential nutrients, zinc for hormone balance, aids in your immune system, is an anti-inflammatory and provides iron for your blood. They are high in sugar, but your digestion can process it easier and you won’t disrupt your body during physical activity.

DRIED FIGS: provide calcium, copper, potassium, manganese, iron, selenium and zinc. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is essential for red blood cell formation as well for cellular oxidation. (Source: USDA National Nutrient database). Figs contain both soluble fiber which slows digestion and blood sugar control and also helps lower blood cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber improves bowel function. Calcium supports bone health and growth, according to the California Fig Advisory Board. Iron is an essential mineral needed to help transport oxygen in your blood.

RAW CASHEWS: according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database, cashews are high in calories.  1oz. serving size has 5.2 grams of protein, 12.4 grams of total fat, 8.6 grams of carbohydrates and 1.7 grams of sugar. Raw cashews also contain several minerals, including magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and potassium. Cashews are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Roughly 62% of the cashew’s fats are monounsaturated fat, 18% polyunsaturated fats and the rest a mix of saturated fats.

CHIA SEEDS: have maximum nutrients with minimal calories. They contain high levels of ALA omega-3 fatty acids (higher than salmon), are good source of fiber and antioxidants (which neutralize free radicals). These little beads are also high in calcium and manganese (good for bones and helps our body use other essential nutrients), provide plenty of phosphorus to maintain healthy bones and teeth.  And for those who are so caught up in the protein trend, they are a high protein source.

HULLED HEMP SEEDS: The hemp “seed” is actually an achene: a simple dry fruit with a hard shell, just like sunflower seeds. It is considered one of the most versatile and economical plants, with many uses from food to bio-fuel. They are an excellent source of Magnesium, zinc and protein and are low in sodium and cholesterol. These seeds are easily digestible, assist in cardiovascular health and general strengthening of the immune system.  Unlike soy which has super high amounts of phytic acid (that anti-nutrient that prevents us from absorbing minerals), hemp seed doesn’t contain phytic acid.  A rich source of phytonutrients, the disease-protective element of plants with benefits protecting your immunity, bloodstream, tissues, cells, skin and organs.

GOJI BERRIES: provide a source for Vitamin A which is a natural antioxidant and helps cells reproduce and Vitamin C, another antioxidant which also aids in maintenance of bones and teeth. Iron, which is essential to make blood cells. ¼ cup of goji berries contains 4 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber .

RAW PEPITAS: Pumpkin seeds are loaded with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, carbohydrates and essential fatty acids. The nutritive value of pumpkin seeds includes vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, iron, phosphorus, fat, carbohydrates and protein. For minerals, they include magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium and copper, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Data Database. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with essential fatty acids, EFA, omega-3 and omega-6. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower your risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

RAW SUNFLOWER SEEDS: provide essential fatty acids; these fatty acids are polyunsaturated and are the kind you want to eat, they allow your body to balance hormones, slow down food absorption and are building blocks for cell membranes. Additionally, sunflower seeds are also an excellent source of fiber, amino acids (especially tryptophan) which make up the building blocks of proteins, B and E Vitamins, phytosterols, copper, magnesium, and carbohydrates.

UNSWEETENED SHREDDED COCONUT: Well coconut is high in fat, period. I rarely use coconut but it really pulls the flavor together in these bars. So I recommend not using coconut too often. It does provide a significant amount of fiber.

CACAO NIBS: are rich in antioxidants, which lower free radicals, which are chemicals that can alter or damage the body. According to Good Cause Wellness, the beans provide some iron and calcium, but are particularly rich in magnesium.

sources:
http://nutritionfacts.org
http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/food-nutrition.html
http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/ac451e/ac451e0b.htm
http://www.livestrong.com/article/-nutrition-information/
http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome

Fluffy Mashed Potatoes (from The Vegan8)

Oh MY! These mashers are not just for the Holidays! But the holidays are upon us, so add this to your menu!

There was never much mash potato making in our kitchen, until I tried these. We are not a family who eats a ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving meal but there is a  love for mashed potatoes. Since these were so simple and flavorful, I have decided that this is definitely a recipe to be made whenever mashed potatoes are requested!

 

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.  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 did not completely peel all of the potatoes and they mashed up wonderfully. Yukon golds provide a rich butter flavor to the recipe.  As a result, I would definitely suggest not using any other potato for this recipe. I followed Brandi’s recipe and did not add any additional flavoring. The result was devoured.  Maybe next time I will play around with some chives or thyme.

 

Click here for the recipe: Fluffy Buttermilk Vegan Mashed Potatoes

 

 

Simple Soup

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Breakfast Muffins

These are a great back to school snack or sports snack.  Stock your freezer!

One of the first “treat” recipes I came across that the kids asked me to make after the first test was called Muffin Tops from Oh She Glows May have had something to with them liking to say the name ;)

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Nut Butter Bombs

Clearly you know by now I like treats.  Dark chocolate and dates go hand in hand. That is why these naughty by nature treats are topping my favorite list!

Sinful, maybe.  Decedent, maybe.  Heavenly, maybe.  Down right freakin amazing, heck YAASS!

Most of all, these nut butter bombs are healthy and nutritious.  They are rich, gooey, sweet and salty (if you use it for a topping) and the ideal treat to keep stocked in your freezer for banishing those sweet tooth cravings. Not to mention, one of the easiest treats to make.

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