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Speedy Minestrone Stew

WOW it’s been awhile! I blame pregnancy.

Everyone who knows me in real life knows… I’m pregnant and due at the end of this month! If not, well, surprise!

The first trimester was rough, struggling with food aversions. It’s just weird to only want refined carbs. Bagels and cream cheese, cereal, crackers… and I didn’t even want water. When I did make myself drink it had to be ice water, when usually I am totally a room temperature water type of gal. I told myself that my nutrition is usually on point so if I had to eat this way to keep food/drinks down for a couple weeks then that was more than fine. I still tried to make better choices when possible… I was more comfortable eating organic crackers like these rather than traditional ones with questionable ingredients.

Then the second trimester hit and I felt so much better! Pretty great in fact. It’s fun when you look like you’re pregnant to strangers and not just that you have a “food baby.” The only problem was I felt like my headspace was different. Pregnancy brain, anyone? I had trouble making decisions, and I wanted my husband to cook more. That did not lead to any recipe development. When I did find myself cooking or baking, I would follow a recipe to a T, which is usually just not me!

The past couple weeks I’ve been back to playing around with food and recipes! Not sure how much I can commit to with the impending due date, but here is at least one new one for you.
I feel SO healthy eating this, especially considering the time of year (hello Christmas cookies). Plus, it was loved by all.

The only potentially weird thing is that because we aren’t using pasta in this, my family found that we liked the quinoa cooked separately, laid in the bowl, then the soup ladled over it while at the table. Like you’re at a fancy restaurant. 😉 However, you can feel free to just dump the cooked quinoa in your pot if that floats your boat.

ENJOY and happy holidays!

Speedy Minestrone Stew
Serves: 4-6 servings
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Using previously cooked quinoa and frozen vegetables make this stew SPEEDY! It may also be the healthiest minestrone ever, with quinoa instead of white noodles. Not to mention the beans and vegetables, this soup is nutritious and delicious!
  • Cooked quinoa, for serving.
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. Italian spices
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • splash of red wine (optional)
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 28 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • *3 cups frozen mixed vegetables (I used carrots, corn, peas, green beans, broccoli)
  • 1-2 cups spinach
  • optional shredded goat pecorino for topping
  1. Heat oil in a large soup pot.
  2. Add onions and garlic, and saute until translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add spices and saute another 30 seconds or so.
  4. Add splash of red wine or broth.
  5. Then combine broth, tomatoes, beans, and vegetables.
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in the spinach and simmer for a couple more minutes.
  8. Lay a bed of quinoa in a bowl, top with soup. (Or mix quinoa in pot)
  9. Garnish with cheese if desired.
  10. Serve and enjoy!
*Feel free to mix it up with the veggies. Add in cauliflower, peppers, etc. Fresh is also fine! I just like using the prepared frozen vegetables to make this recipe live up to its name, "Speedy."


I’d love to hear from you!  Do you have any nutritionally dense recipes to share, since it seems to be the season filled with sugar? 

Leave me a comment! 

Mama Natural Book Review + Giveaway!

I don’t know about you, but my “natural” living tendencies really got amped up when I found out I was pregnant. It wasn’t just about me anymore! I was responsible for this amazing life growing inside me.

21 weeks pregnant in winter 2014

Healthy eating was already a priority, but even more so now.  Which was kind of unfortunate because I remember in my first trimester all I wanted to eat was bread and bagels. I was banking on the fact that I had been fueling my body with nutrient dense food up until this point, and hoped it would pass.  Luckily, it did… because it was WEIRD having an aversion to green smoothies!  Not only that, but I was conscious about picking out a whole-foods based prenatal vitamin (read my post about it here), and avoiding chemicals related to cleaners or personal care products.  I even used coconut oil on my growing belly as opposed to any creams marketed for stretch marks (and it worked, although it may have just been genetics!)


That’s why I was so grateful to find the Mama Natural website! I started watching Genevieve’s videos and I felt like I found a friend!  It was cool that she was pregnant with her daughter while I was pregnant, too!  She was ahead of me, but I still loved watching her videos, and what would potentially be coming for me! It was also on her site that I first heard about some more natural practices like baby led weaning and elimination communication (EC). I went on to write my own posts about baby led weaning too!  Check them out here and here.  Although we didn’t practice elimination communication, we did cloth diaper and then potty train at an “early” age (quotes because it’s only early in our country), around 22 months. And I wouldn’t rule out EC for a future kid!

And besides being informative posts and videos, there are hilarious ones.  Check out this “Sh*t Crunchy Dads Say” video.  The part where he says, “YEAH I caught the baby.” Well, that was TOTALLY my husband telling people our birth story!


This all brings me to my excitement over this book, the world’s first pregnancy guide from a natural perspective!

It is available on Amazon (for a great price! link above) and Barnes and Noble. I am hoping to see it into other mainstream stores too, because there is NO QUESTION I would give this to someone over “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” Even to my friends who don’t consider themselves crunchy… This quote from the book says it all, “There is no one right way to deliver, and as much as I believe in the power of going natural, no mama should ever be made to feel bad about her choices. That’s why this book was written with all mamas in mind… Empowerment- rather than judgment – is what this book is about.”

Although I haven’t read the entire book yet (it’s 500 pages), I can tell you a couple things about it. It is:

  • Not a textbook.  It is almost as if a friend is taking you on a pregnancy journey
  • Evidence-based. Although I consider myself “crunchy,” I am also healthcare professional, and following the latest science is important to me
  • Filled with beautiful illustrations
  • Positive. There are birth affirmations throughout the book
  • THE pregnancy book for moms who want a more natural experience

And something else I (of course) love, it includes real-food recipes! Pistachio pesto, non-alcoholic hot toddy, and beet kvass, to name a few.


Because I love this book so much and want to see it in more hands, I’m working with the MamaNatural Team to give away TWO copies! All you have to do is subscribe to my emails, and leave me a comment below. Who is this book for if you win? Yourself, a friend, to pass on to your midwife office as a patient resource?  Let me know! 

Winners will be randomly selected on Wednesday, 5/3/17 at 9PM EST.

Homemade Protein-Packed Granola Bars

I have tried my hand at making granola bars or protein bars countless times before.  While they tasted good, they were nothing like the traditional store bought bars.  They either fell apart into crumbles, or were too goopy.  I couldn’t get the consistency right.  Until now.

Look at those beauts!

The secret to it was brown rice syrup, for it’s binding abilities.  It’s not something I usually buy, but I had some left over from making these healthy rice crispy treats.

If you find yourself wanting a similar-to-store-bought granola bar that you can make yourself with healthier ingredients, these are for you.  It is nutrient dense, filling, and chock full of good fats and protein. With the right packaging, I think it would make a really cute gift too!  Perfect, perhaps, for a new mom to eat one-handed while still getting enough calories to nourish her baby! I remember being starving during the 1AM breastfeeding sessions and always needing a granola bar. Wish I had had these!

Homemade Protein Packed Granola Bars
A granola bar that is nutrient dense and chock full of good fats and protein
  • ¼ cup chopped almonds (can sub other nuts)
  • 1½ cups rolled oats (certified gluten free if necessary)
  • 1 cup puffed brown rice cereal
  • ¾ cup raisins (can sub with dried cranberries)
  • ¾ cup chopped medjool dates
  • 1½ cups dried apricots
  • ½ cup protein powder
  • ½ cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup brown rice syrup
  • ½ cup raw honey
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter (can sub other nut butter for peanut-free option)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. In a large bowl, mix almonds, oats, rice cereal, raisins, dates, apricots protein powder, and flax.
  2. Heat brown rice syrup in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and stir in honey, peanut butter, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.
  3. Pour the syrup over the mixture and stir well.
  4. Spread the warm mixture into a 8x8 glass baking dish.
  5. Place a piece of parchment paper on the mixture and use it to press it down into an even layer. Try to work quickly to prevent it from becoming too difficult to mold.
  6. Chill until cold and firmed up, about 6 hours.
  7. Remove from dish and place on cutting board.
  8. Using a large chopping knife, cut the mixture into large pieces for meal sized bars and smaller pieces for snack bars (or portion control... these are a little addicting!)
  9. Store in refrigerator (or freezer for longer storage).

Note: I used Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein or Sunwarrior – Warrior Blend Natural.  Whatever you have on hand should work just fine though!  I think a vanilla flavored one would be delicious!

I used this brand of brown rice cereal.

I’d love to hear from you!  Do you have a tried-and-true granola bar or protein bar recipe? Leave me a comment, below!



Light and Fluffy Chocolate Mousse (with a surprising ingredient!)

Ok, I know it’s April, but this is not an April fool’s joke!

One of the main ingredients in this mousse is… the liquid from a can of chickpeas.  I kid you not! And it makes for the fluffiest mousse I have ever made!

I first heard about using chickpea liquid, or aquafaba (literally meaning bean water) in a vegan group.  Someone posted about using it to make meringue, as it acts just like egg whites.  I was so intrigued but at the same time, a little weirded out.  I mean, I eat or use chickpeas in recipes all the time, and whether I open a can or cook them from dried… I always pour the liquid down the drain.

Well, it’s been a couple months, and I decided to get over it because I knew how using ingredients in a different way can turn into something so delicious.  Pizza crusts made from cauliflower, “cheese” made from cashews, decadent desserts made from avocado, and the most common (for me), fruit smoothies packed with tons of greens!

I am SO GLAD I got over it and my husband and daughter are too because they loved this dessert.  I also sent it out for taste testing with another family.  Everyone loved it. And no one complained that it tasted like beans. (Because it doesn’t!)

All the times I tested this I used the liquid from a can of chickpeas that contained salt.  If I had unsalted, I would have used that and just added a pinch of salt to bring out the sweetness.

Ok, ingredients:

Liquid from a can of chickpeas (I used these or Wegmans brand), 70% dark chocolate dollops (like these), and raw honey (like this).  That’s it!

It is really quite forgiving of a recipe, too.  I tested it with anywhere from 2/3 to 1 cup chocolate dollops.  The one with more chocolate was the clear winner from all my taste testers.  However, without anything to compare it to, the one with less chocolate was amazing too. You can also use a different sweetener, such as stevia or maple syrup, or leave it out altogether.

Top with fruit, extra chocolate, or chopped nuts if desired!

I liked serving in these pastel fancy glasses, perfect for spring!

Light and Fluffy Chocolate Mousse (with a surprising ingredient!)
The fluffiest chocolate mousse, no eggs needed!
  • Liquid from one can of chickpeas
  • 1 cup 70% chocolate dollops or chips (alternatively may use a dark chocolate bar)
  • 1 tbsp. raw honey
  1. Pour liquid from can of chickpeas into a medium bowl. (Save chickpeas for eating or another recipe).
  2. Using a hand mixer, beat for a couple of minutes until frothy peaks form.
  3. Melt chocolate dollops in a double boiler until smooth and glossy.
  4. Add honey to the melted chocolate and stir until combined.
  5. Fold in, or use electric mixer, to combine melted chocolate with aquafaba until completely combined but not overmixed.
  6. Set in fridge for a couple of hours.
If you are using an unsalted can, add a pinch of salt to the aquafaba.

If you want to read more about aquafaba, check out the website, here.

I’d love to hear from you!  Have you ever used chickpea liquid in your cooking or baking? Leave me a comment!

Very Berry Basil Smoothie

The inspiration for this recipe comes from… our VERY happy indoor basil plant!

Smiling? Or munching on some basil?


Do you know that basil is surprisingly delicious when mixed with fruit? I first discovered it when I used to make this orange basil smoothie by FullyRawKristina, check out her video below:


I hadn’t used basil in smoothies much (if at all!) since I used to make the orange one.  Now that we had such a thriving plant, I knew I needed to mix up my greens and create a delicious smoothie recipe!

Do you mix up your leafy greens? I have to admit, spinach is our go-to, followed by kale. Spinach just blends so easily without altering the taste, which is why I love it.  However it IS important to rotate greens.  This will provide your body with a whole spectrum of different nutrients that you may be missing out on if you use the same green, smoothie after smoothie, day after day.  Variety is important in your smoothies as well as the rest of your diet! For example, dandelion greens have more calcium and iron than spinach and kale!

There are so many possibilities too, especially during the peak grow seasons near you.  I love going to the farmer’s market and seeing what they have… collards, cabbage, bok choy, chard, leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce… And if I buy beets, there is no way those beet greens are going to waste!  Or herbs!  You can throw in parsley, cilantro, or BASIL!



Note this makes one LARGE smoothie.  If I am having it as a meal, I will have it by myself, usually in a bowl with a lot of toppings (I added granola, banana, chia, hemp seeds all to the smoothie bowl above after I shot a pic!)  Why a bowl? I love smoothie bowls if I am sitting down to a meal, it forces you to eat slower, and it feels more like eating vs just sucking it down through a straw. You can’t beat the convenience of a smoothie if you need a meal-on-the-go though!

If I want it as a snack, I will split it with the fam.

Very Berry Basil Smoothie
Berries marry basil beautifully in this bright pink smoothie! A delicious change of pace from your typical green smoothie.
  • 1 cup water
  • ⅓ cup basil (loosely packed)
  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries (I used strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tbsp raw almonds
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  1. If not using a high speed blender, blend water and spinach first, then add all other ingredients until smooth, adding more water if necessary.
  2. If using a high speed blender, add all ingredients and blend until smooth.
This is a THICK smoothie. If you want to drink it as opposed to eating it as a bowl, you may want to add a little more water.


Note: I get asked if it matters what type of blender you have.  This can be made in a standard blender, it will probably work better if you blend your greens and liquid FIRST, as noted in the instructions.

I swear by THIS BLENDER though.  I use it in my kitchen daily, if not multiple times per day. Yes, there is an SNL skit (or something related) making fun of how expensive it is.  For us, the warranty made it more worth it, especially since we had burned through a couple blenders before getting it. You can also check out certified refurbished ones.

I’d love to hear from you!  Do you mix up your greens in your smoothies? What is your favorite? Leave me a comment!


Green Tea Crepe Cake (dairy free and gluten free!)

I am so pumped about this new recipe!

Both my mom and mother-in-law get Martha Stewart Living magazine, and I remember seeing her recipe for this green tea crepe cake twice because of flipping through their mags.  The second time seeing it, I said, I AM making this.

Of course, Martha’s has white flour and white sugar, which my family avoids, so that had to be subbed out.  I also am doing another six week dairy-free period.  I consume less dairy than most people as it is (hello nut milk!), but in the past I have felt better going completely dairy-free, so I’m trying it again and am going to pay attention to any changes I notice both while not eating it and if introducing again. Martha’s crepe cake has butter, heavy cream,  and whole milk. So much dairy!  That had to be changed too. 😉

This is sweetened naturally with maple syrup in the crepes, and honey in the matcha pastry cream.

Still a dessert, but one that I feel good about feeding to my family and friends! Especially because there are many health benefits to matcha green tea. Wellness Mama has a nice post about the benefits, you can read it here.

Where to buy matcha? I bought mine online, but you can also find it at most grocery stores. After doing a bit of research, I paid a bit more for Japanese matcha because Chinese teas have been found to have dangerous pesticides, while Japanese tea has more strict standards regarding pesticide use. (Greenpeace randomly tested 18 Chinese green tea samples in 2103, and 12 of them tested positive for banned pesticides.) Make sure that you are not buying one with added sugar or powdered milk.  The only ingredient should be matcha. If it is organic or non-gmo, that is ideal.  This is the one I bought: Matcha Green Tea Powder.

This recipe is a bit needier than most of my other recipes, but I think it is worth it!  It tastes amazing (as long as you like the slightly earthy flavor of matcha!) and it is different and pretty to serve!

First, you start off with your crepe batter. Whisk it all together and get cooking your crepes.  For the crepe connoisseur, these may be a little thicker and take longer to cook than you are used to.  I did the best that I could!  Making it dairy free, gluten free, and naturally sweetened will change the consistency I guess.

Play it by ear with the heat, size of your crepes, and how thinly you pour the batter.

Mine took about 4 minutes on one side, then flip and just about a minute (or less) on the other.

I got two pans going because I was impatient.

Stack them up on a plate (they won’t stick together!) as you go, and get working on your pastry cream.

The essential part about this is to use only the chilled “cream” portion of your canned coconut milk. (This is my favorite brand).

Then, start the layering process!  Lay down a crepe, spread on some cream.

Lay down another crepe.

Keep going until you use all of the crepes, or it gets high enough for you!  We ended up with 15-18 crepes in our cake, considering the first crepe is almost always a throw-away (well, we still eat it! but not pretty), and Caterina wanted to eat some during the cooking process. You may end up with more if you can get keep them thin and don’t have a hungry toddler around!

Note that the pastry cream gets more runny at room temperature, and firms up more if kept in the fridge. After all the layering (and I left the cream out while cooking the crepes), our cake was a bit wobbly.

It firmed up nicely in the fridge though, to help with cutting and serving.

Look how gorgeous it is with all those layers!


Is this not the perfect green dessert for upcoming St. Patrick’s Day?

Green Tea Crepe Cake (dairy free and gluten free!)
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 6 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ Cups almond milk
  • ½ Cup oat flour
  • ½ Cup almond meal
  • ½ Cup maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Matcha Cream:
  • Solid cream from 2 cans coconut milk
  • ¼ Cup honey
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1Tbsp matcha powder
  1. Combine crepe batter ingredients and whisk until well mixed.
  2. In a greased hot skillet add a small amount of batter, just enough for a thin layer in the pan. After 3-4 minutes flip and cook another minute. Stack finished crepes on a plate and set aside.
  3. While the crepes are cooking, make the matcha cream by whipping all the ingredients in a large bowl until smooth. It is best to chill the cans coconut milk for several hours prior to making as it will help the cream thicken.
  4. Once all the crepes are finished and the cream is made begin layering the cake. Layer each crepe with a scoop of the matcha cream as tall as you dare. Mine was about 15 crepes tall.
  5. Chill for 2 hours before serving to ensure your cream doesn't squish out when you try to cut the cake.

I’d love to hear from you!  What is your favorite way to enjoy matcha?  Or, what is your favorite GREEN recipe for St. Patrick’s Day?

Sweet Potato Black Bean Dip

I’m baaaaack, and with another black bean recipe!  My last post mostly boasted about how easy and cheap beans were.

But, I didn’t talk about how insanely good for you beans are!  You won’t catch me on any diet that cuts out legumes. 🙂

Check out this study: Legumes: The most important dietary predictor of survival…

To summarize,

  • They looked at five different cohorts aged 70 and over from around the world
  • Of all the food factors they looked at, only ONE was associated with longer lifespan across the board: intake of legumes
  • It didn’t seem to matter what kind (Japanese eating mostly soy in tofu or miso, those in the Mediterranean eating mostly lentils, white beans and chickpeas, Swedish eating brown beans and peas)
  • Again, like the title of the study, higher legume intake is the most protective dietary predictor of survival

If that isn’t a reason to try out this bean dip, I don’t know what is.  Oh, maybe that it was approved by a group of about 10 moms who tried it?  “Yum! This is so good! Blog it!” is a direct quote.   😉 

This recipe is inspired by a recipe for burgers that we’ve made several times from Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr.

The recipe can also be found here. A couple times we made them, the burgers didn’t hold together very well and we ate them with a fork.  My husband said, “This would make a great dip!” I adapted it by removing some of the binding ingredients, like, cornmeal, added some ingredients, like jalepeno, and tried mixing up the grains.  Delicious!

The only thing is… it isn’t visually that appealing.  That’s kind of the nature of the beast with black bean dip though.

One thought is to save some black beans and sweet potato chunks and put them on top with an herb like cilantro.

Since I was bringing it to a party and serving with chips, I thought some salsa, a little homemade guac, and cilantro on top would brighten it up nicely.

If you are feeling a little more ambitious, you could make a pretty appetizer by utilizing it as a spread.  Get some healthy crackers, spread on some of the dip, and once again put whatever toppings on.  Some with a little avocado, some with black beans and sweet potatoes, some with tomatoes or salsa, green onion, and herbs.  Get creative!


Since I make recipes a couple times to test and got “dipped out”, I also made this into a meal by putting a big scoop onto a salad. Very filling!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Dip
Super healthy dip that is also a hit at parties!
  • 1 cubed sweet potato, boiled
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup cooked "super grains"
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalepeno, diced
  • ½ tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp tamari
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (use vegan sauce if preferred)
  • 2 tbsp broth or water (more if desired)
  1. If not done already, cook sweet potato and grains.
  2. Combine all ingredients in food processor.
  3. Blitz until well combined, adding a little additional liquid if needed.
  4. Serve in a bowl with plenty of "dippers" like organic corn chips or veggies.
Super Grains is a mix I bought that consists of organic buckwheat, millet, red, and white quinoa. If you don't have this, use plain quinoa.


As noted on the recipe card, I liked using “Super Grains” for this recipe (buy here).  If you don’t have this, just use regular quinoa!

If you are looking for another bean dip recipe to try, check out my Lemon Dill White Bean Hummus.


Now, I’d love to hear from you!  Do you try to include beans in your diet every day? What is your favorite way to eat or prepare them? Leave me a comment! 




Quick Black Bean Soup with Avocado Lime Swirl

One of my 2017 goals is to declutter.  I am going to do one “area” of our house each day for the year!  Well, that’s the plan anyway.  😉  January’s main focus was on the kitchen.  To help make it not so overwhelming, I am just spending 10 minutes (somedays are a little less and some a little more) to do one drawer, or one shelf on the pantry, or one cabinet.  The one that is coming up (but I’m putting off) is my recipes and cookbooks.  I know that there are some that I haven’t opened in YEARS, and I also have piles of recipes that I have printed, when realistically, I probably don’t need that paper… more often than not I look up recipes on my phone or iPad.  But for some reason I want to hold on to them!

One book that I found and opened up boasted about fast fix meals, I think all of them were 30 minutes or less.  The only problem was, the reason they were quick is because the “ingredient” in many of them included a can of “cream of mushroom/broccoli/chicken/etc” soup!  I love soup, but I rarely buy them in a can because I find that more often than not, they have ingredients I want to avoid… even “natural” or organic soup!  Adding that book to my donate box!

I loved the idea of using cans to make it really easy, though.  Especially because my husband is still on crutches.  Anything to make life easier lately, I’ll take!  I’d already done a “dump and go” soup with cans in this taco soup recipe. What else could I do?

As if answering me, someone in a Facebook moms group I’m in posted requesting soup recipes.  I shared my taco soup and crockpot curry. Someone else posted about using salsa and black beans to make a black bean soup.  Bingo!

I took it and ran with it, making several versions, that all came out GREAT!

And, no chopping required. (Except for cutting open an avocado for the optional topping).

And, it’s inexpensive! (all organic from Aldi… jar of salsa $1.99, 2 cans of black beans $0.79 each, quart of broth $1.99, and some cumin which I already had).  Then for the topping it was just one avocado (I don’t usually buy organic) $0.69, a lime $0.25, and some salt.  The grand total for this meal that serves 4-6 depending on serving size… $6.50.

This recipe truly proves that eating healthy doesn’t mean spending hours in the kitchen, and doesn’t mean spending a fortune!  

It would be even cheaper if you made your own beans from dried and made your own broth from vegetable scraps (future blog posts? 🙂 ).  Although, then of course it wouldn’t be “quick.”

One other note is that I always try to buy salsa without added sugar.  Look at the label!  The Aldi brand organic salsa does have added sugar, but they have another brand (at our store) that does not. If you have a choice with the canned beans, always look for a BPA-free can, and “less salt.” And if you have an Aldi by you but have never gone, go check it out!  Organic salsa at Wegmans can be over $6 for the same size jar!

Don’t feel like you have to get the same one I did though.  I actually tried this with 4 different salsas.  One mild, one medium, one smoky, and one chipotle lime.  This recipe was good no matter what I did to change it up!

I had fun making this feel fancier with the avocado lime swirl. Just blitz in a food processor.  But, feel free to just cut up pieces of avocado to put on top to make it even quicker! Or, you could get storebought guacamole.  Again, I would just try to find one with no yucky additives or sugar.  (Sugar in guac? I haven’t seen it, but nothing surprises me with the food industry anymore! I once bought minced garlic in a jar just to get home and see that it had high fructose corn syrup in it). Check your labels!

My daughter also had fun with the extra avocado lime topping.  She kept requesting pictures on corn chips! Here is her little hand trying to eat the soup while my husband was distracting her with the chips so I could take the photo.

Eating the “caterpillar” chip.

And the soup is all gone!  One last smiley face chip…

Quick Black Bean Soup with Avocado Lime Swirl
Serves: 4-6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Delicious creamy black bean soup, with optional avocado lime swirl, proves that healthy eating doesn't have to be hard or expensive!
  • 1 (16oz) jar of salsa
  • 2 cans of black beans (drained)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 quart vegetable broth (can replace with chicken or beef broth)
avocado lime topping
  • 1 avocado
  • juice from ½-1 lime (depending on how juicy your lime is and how much lime flavor you want)
  • ⅛-1/4 tsp salt
  1. Heat the salsa in a medium pot to reduce a little bit, for about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add the black beans, cumin, and broth.
  3. Cook for another 10 minutes or so.
  4. Once heated through, take ½-3/4 of the soup and blend it until smooth in the blender, then pour it back into the pot.
  5. This will give you a soup that is creamy, yet still has some texture.
  6. While the soup is cooking, pit the avocado and add it to food processor, along with lime juice and salt. Process until smooth.
  7. Use a piping bag (I used a plastic bag and cut off the corner), to make a pretty swirl on top of the finished soup bowls.
  8. Garnish with additional beans, greens, or chips if desired.
  9. Enjoy!


Add this recipe to your meal plan for this week and let me know what you think!  I’m so excited to hear from you!

I’d also love to hear your recipes for quick or easy meals!

Leave me a comment below! 



Chai Red Rice Pudding

Oatmeal is one of our go to breakfasts, with good reason. It’s easy, it’s cheap, it’s healthy, especially if you add spices, fruit, and any other toppings like flax and chia seeds.

I like to mix it up with my grains though!  I’ve done that in the past with millet in my Pumpkin Millet Bowl, I’ve tried quinoa flakes in Zucchini Bread Porridge, and I’m doing it again now with rice!

Monday we did some awesome meal prepping… big batches of rice, beans, broth, boiled eggs, cut up veggies, etc. When I saw all that rice and told my husband about my rice pudding for breakfast idea, he was not into it.  He wanted a smoothie instead, and I AM a smoothie lover… so we had smoothies.

The next day I made this without asking him, served it to him, and he LOVED it!  😛

Perfectly spiced with chai-inspired spices, great to start your morning with on a chilly day!


The secret in making this for breakfast is to cook the rice ahead of time.  Sure, it might be better if you cooked the rice with the milk and spices, but I was being practical here.  There is no way I have an hour to cook breakfast on most days!

You can make this with any kind of rice.  Just how I mix up my grains, I also mix up the type of rice I buy. Right now I’m rocking out with red rice (this is the one I bought).  If you haven’t tried red rice though, I encourage you to give it a try!  It has a wonderful flavor and chewiness to it, as well as health benefits.  It has way more antioxidants than brown rice (10 times more!) The rice’s red color is provided by anthocyanins, which can aid in cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. (source).

Simply combine all ingredients in pot, and cook until it is all deliciously combined, and the milk has cooked down a bit.

Serve up in bowls with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon and additional raisins if you wish!

Yes, please!

I would like to say that this is kid approved, and it probably IS, but not by my kid… She requested “plain rice” both times I’ve made this so far, haha. 😉

Chai Red Rice Pudding
Serves: 3 servings
Cook time:
Total time:
Using antioxidant-rich rice cooked the day before, this breakfast comes together in no time! Creamy and spicy, you will love this (vegan) warm breakfast on a chilly day!
  • 2 cups cooked red rice
  • 2 cups homemade cashew milk
  • 3 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp cardamom
  • ⅛ tsp cloves
  • ⅛ tsp ginger
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup packed raisin/date mixture*
  1. Combine all ingredients in pot and stir to combine.
  2. Heat through and continue cooking until the milk cooks down and it reaches the desired consistency (about 10-15 minutes).
  3. Top with additional cinnamon and raisins if you wish.
  4. Enjoy!
I prefer a mix of raisins and dates. Feel free to use one or the other, whatever you happen to have on hand.

If you like a strongly spiced flavor, increase the cardamom, cloves, and ginger to ¼ tsp each instead of ⅛ tsp.


I’d love to hear from you! What is your favorite grain to have for breakfast? 

The Healthiest Homemade Hot Chocolate!

Temperatures are in the single digits, the sky seems to constantly be gray, snow is falling.

With this winter weather, nothing beats cozy blankets, fuzzy socks, glowing candles, and… your hands wrapped around a cup of hot chocolate!

Of course I would want to make a healthier version of your typical hot chocolate.  Why do I call my recipe the HEALTHIEST homemade hot chocolate? It has the healthiest sweetener!

Check out this video for more info comparting sweeteners:  (The founder of, Dr. Michael Greger, is the author of a book I am currently reading.  I love that he is bringing evidence-based nutritional science to the masses with this book):

Spoiler: It’s date sugar!  And it makes sense that it would be the healthiest considering it is essentially a whole food.  Just ground and dried up dates! It gives this hot chocolate just enough sweetness, while adding a rich creamy thickness. The only caveat is that in order to get it really smooth, I found that a blender was necessary.  Making it on the stove, despite my whisking, seemed to leave some chunks.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to chew my hot chocolate. 😉


I think you will love this and can’t wait for you to try it!  If you don’t have date sugar, go out and buy some and let me know what you think! I also use it in these to-go oat jars.


The Healthiest Homemade Hot Chocolate!
Serves: 1
Ultra decadent hot chocolate, made with the heathiest sweetener. This will not give you a ride on the blood sugar roller coaster because of the fiber in date sugar!
  • 1 cup nut milk*
  • 1 tbsp. cacao powder
  • 3 tbsp. date sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch sea salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Keep blending until hot, OR
  3. transfer to saucepan and heat.
  4. Grate some dark chocolate on top if desired, and enjoy!
*I tested this with storebought organic almond milk, and homemade almond and cashew milk. My husband and I both preferred the homemade cashew milk.



hot chocolate


I’d love to hear from you!  Have you used date sugar? Have you made a healthier version of hot chocolate? Leave me a comment!