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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
 
Author:
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!
Ingredients
soup
  • 1 (16oz) jar of salsa
  • 2 cans of black beans
  • 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
Instructions
  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
 
Author:
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!
Ingredients
  • 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*
Instructions
  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!
Notes
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: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-healthiest-sweetener/.  (The founder of nutritionfacts.org, 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!
 
Author:
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!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup nut milk*
  • 1 tbsp. cacao powder
  • 3 tbsp. date sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch sea salt
Instructions
  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!
Notes
*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!

Immune Boosting Elderberry Jello

None of us are invincible.

I knew this intellectually, but seemed to have forgotten over the past couple of weeks, as I tried to do everything.

My husband had surgery and I was taking care of him, taking care of our daughter, cooking, cleaning, and picking up extra shifts at work to cover for him.  I was taking care of everyone else, but not myself!  If you follow my Instagram you saw my vitamin c + ginger packed smoothie that I made when I was feeling under the weather. What else did I make?

Enter: Elderberry jello.

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Elderberry has a very long history of medicinal use. Additionally, it has been studied and found to be effective in the treatment of cold and flu in adults and children, as well as other conditions (source, source, source). We buy elderberry concentrate from our chiropractor. You can also buy it here.

Protein is important for optimal immune function.  Protein can come from many healthy sources, organic eggs and meats, beans and legumes, nuts.  In these jello jigglers, we have grass-fed gelatin, which provides us with important amino acids, “building blocks” of proteins. Make sure you buy a quality, grass-fed gelatin, like this one.

I used Organic Antioxidant Force juice for this recipe.  This is the exact one, which I bought from Aldi for around $4 for a large bottle.  There are many brands though, I know Trader Joe’s has a 7 juice blend, and I believe Santa Cruz makes one as well. You can sub in any juice you want, although I always make sure to buy organic and in a glass bottle.

Honey! In my regular healthy gelatin jigglers recipe, I don’t use sweetener.  I like to use honey as a sweetener for this recipe, as the elderberry extract is not sweet tasting, and honey has antioxidant, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties.  Make sure you use raw and local honey, if possible.  The majority of honey you find in stores is refined and processed, and like most refined/processed foods, it can damage your health rather than help.

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These are kid-approved too!  My little girl loves them, and I think they helped prevent her from getting sick.

Now, if you excuse me, I’m back to being super mom!  (With more handwashing, vitamins, and rest 😉

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Immune Boosting Elderberry Jello
 
Author:
 
These healthy gelatin jigglers have elderberry concentrate, which is shown to be effective in treatment of flu in adults and children. Along with grass-fed gelatin, raw and local honey, and organic antioxidant force juice, these are an immune boosting treat that taste great!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups organic juice (I used antioxidant force, which is a blend of pomegranate, tart cherry, red grape, purple carrot, cranberry, and blueberry)
  • 3 tbsp. grass-fed gelatin
  • 3 tbsp. elderberry concentrate
  • 1 tbsp. raw local honey
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan heat the juices and honey just until steaming.
  2. Remove from heat and while stirring SLOWLY sprinkle the gelatin into the juice blend and continue stirring until mixed. You may see some clumps this is fine and if you let the hot juice sit for 5 minutes the clumps will dissolve.
  3. Once all the gelatin is dissolved, transfer the jello liquid into your preferred mold and refrigerate at least 3 hours or until firm.

 

 

I’d love to hear from you!  Have you ever added elderberry in your diet when you were sick or to help prevent sickness? Leave me a comment!

Chewy Molasses Cookies (vegan and gluten free!)

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a month since my last new post!  We had a great November, with plenty of outside time!

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Then… the snow hit!  We actually got to have some fun in the snow too, unlike last year, where it seemed like we got her all bundled up but then she only wanted to be out in it for one minute.  We got a solid 30 minutes this time before she needed to go in for a potty break!

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Anyway, the blog front may have been quiet, but I’ve still been experimenting in the kitchen, as usual! Made several batches of butternut squash risotto, that has amazing flavor, but I really wanted to perfect it in the crock pot, and the texture wasn’t quite right, yet.

 

I had a great Thanksgiving with family and didn’t do ANY cooking over those couple days, except for some no-bake Pumpkin Pie Bars with my sister.

 

What do I have for you, today, then? A new take on one of my favorite cookies as a kid… Molasses cookies!  I didn’t even bother looking at the recipe my mom used… I knew it would be full of white flour, white sugar, and butter!

 

I’m very happy with this new version of an old favorite of mine, and it is SO darn healthy, for a cookie! It is sweetened with banana, dates, and molasses (of course), and has other great ingredients in there too.

Make sure you use blackstrap molasses (buy it here) for this recipe so you get all the health benefits!  What health benefits?  I love this image from Dr. Axe’s website:

blackstrapmolassesbenefits

Typically, I like my cookies under-done, but in this case, I liked the version I cooked for longer.  The shorter cook time will give it more of a soft larabar-like consistency, which is fine if that’s what you want.

 

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The only thing I wasn’t thrilled with was the pictures… thanks to winter lighting I was trying to take them in the dark, and editing only helped so much.  I promise you, the flavor will not let you down though.  And, you don’t have to go through the holiday cookie season without any cookies, just make a healthy cookie like these!

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This recipe was inspired by and adapted from 5 Ingredient Cookies by Minimalist Baker.

 

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The molasses cookies I remembered as a kid had a vanilla frosting, so of course I wanted to whip up a quick frosting for these.  Just 3 ingredients… coconut butter, maple syrup and vanilla extract!  Coconut butter is funny in that it is rock solid when it’s cold, and liquid when warmed.  What I do is put the whole jar of coconut butter (I get this kind), and put it in a bowl of really hot water while I make the cookies.  Then, it’s softened enough to mix with maple syrup and vanilla.  Easy peasy!

 

Chewy Molasses Cookies (vegan and gluten free!)
 
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Delicious soft molasses cookies, that may be the healthiest molasses cookie ever. No white flour and sugar, no butter. And they are easy to make too, just requiring you to blitz everything in a food processor!
Ingredients
Cookie Ingredients
  • 1 banana (ripe with spots)
  • 1 cup dates
  • 2 tbsp. almond butter
  • ¾ cup almond meal
  • 2/4 cup oats
  • 2 tbsp. flaxseed
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup molasses
Frosting
  • 2 tbsp. coconut butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup, room temperature or warmed
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine all cookie ingredients in food processor.
  3. Pulverize until well mixed and uniform, stopping to scrape down sides if necessary.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes.
  5. Mix together frosting ingredients in small bowl.
  6. Frost cookies after they have cooled completely.

 

Hope you enjoy!

Molasses not your thing? Make these Chewy Coconut Oat Cookies.  By far my most popular recipe!

 

I’d love to hear from you!  Do you have a go-to healthier than normal cookie recipe?  Share with me in the comments!

 

Travel Oat Jars

How convenient do these little oat cups look? You’ve seen them, right?

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Perfect for on-the-go, or if you are staying over a friend’s house and don’t want to “help yourself to the poptarts,” which happened to my husband lately. 🙂

But, at over $2 for one, you can definitely make them cheaper at home and keep them ready to go in your pantry!

I buy organic oats in bulk, and they are about $1.50 per pound.  Yes, you can get A POUND of oats for cheaper than one of these little store-bought cups!

 

Homemade Travel Oat Jars to the rescue!

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I’ve talked before about how I like to re-use jars, like nearly-empty nut butter jars for this Spiced Pear Overnight Oats recipe.

But, as you can see by this picture, it’s true… all those jars are different!  It just makes sense.  If I’m going to try my hand at canning (maybe next year?), I’ll spring for brand new ball jars and lids.

I tried out about a million different combinations for these, and they were all really good!  For the base, I pretty much always do 1/2 cup of oats (sometimes give my husband more, about 3/4 cup), 2 tbsp. chia seeds, and 1-2 tbsp. flaxseed.  Then I add in a sweetener, spices, dried fruit, seeds, nuts, etc. Then, all you have to do when you want to eat it is add hot water!  I’ve made these at work with water from a Keurig, even!  Stir and wait a couple of minutes, and then dig in!

Because I tried out so so many combinations, I felt like I needed to narrow it down a little, while still giving flavor options. So I came up with a beginner, intermediate and advanced.  The beginner is also the cheapest, while the advanced will be most expensive.  Feel free to try one, or all though, whether you are just starting on your healthy eating journey or if you are a health nut! I figured that pretty much everyone has oats and raisins, while the “advanced” uses ingredients that may not be in everyone’s cupboard, like goji berries, which are almost $20/lb, depending on where you get them.

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Beginner: Cinnamon Raisin ($)

1/2 cup oatmeal

2 tbsp. chia seeds

2 tbsp. flaxseed

1-2 tbsp. date sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp. raisins

1-2 tbsp. walnuts

 

Intermediate: Cranberry Hemp ($$)

1/2 cup oatmeal

2 tbsp. chia seeds

1 tbsp. flaxseed

3 tbsp. hemp hearts

2 tbsp. dried cranberries (I like naturally sweetened ones, like this brand)

1-2 tbsp. date sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

 

Advanced: Green Tea Goji ($$$)

1/2 cup oatmeal

2 tbsp. chia seeds

1 tbsp. flaxseed

2 tbsp. hemp hearts

2 tbsp. goji berries

1 tbsp. coconut sugar

1/2 tsp matcha

 

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A note about sweeteners:  My preferred sweetener in these jars is date sugar, like this.  I like it because it is simply dried ground up dates! In the Green Tea Goji, I felt the coconut sugar was better than date sugar because it helps with the slight bitterness from the matcha. You could try using stevia, or cane sugar.  If you know you will have access to honey or maple syrup when you are going to eat these, then you can leave out the dry sweetener and just add it to taste after you add the hot water.

 

Where to buy?  You should be able to find these at any healthfood store. Most mainstream grocery stores (at least near me!) have these ingredients, as well.  I have seen all of these at Wegmans, and Trader Joe’s has many of these ingredients too.  I even saw goji berries at Aldi!

As I mentioned, I get ingredients that I use a lot of through our local buying group, which saves me some money on oats, chia seeds, raisins, cranberries, and coconut sugar, and more.  I also buy online because of convenience and price.  Amazon Prime is helpful because of fast shipping, and no minimum order, and the prices beat the stores sometimes, like these organic goji berries.

If you like ordering online (I know my friends with kiddos say it is much easier!), Thrive Market is also worth looking into, it’s like an online BJ’s or Costco, but for natural and organic products.  I have been a member for about a year and a half, and while you cannot do your complete shopping there (no fresh produce), it is so great for pantry items.  Thrive beats the cheapest Amazon price (listed above) for goji berries.  It’s the cheapest I’ve seen for many other products, like my favorite canned coconut milk, Purely Elizabeth granola, and even natural toothpaste and shampoo.  They also added a lot of baby and kid products recently!  In addition, they give back. For each friend that becomes a member, they will donate a membership to a low-income family.  And, you get 15% off YOUR first order if you use my link (this also starts a 30 day trial membership to try it out, and you can cancel any time!) Check it out, here: http://thrv.me/pharmersarah

 

Travel Oat Jars
 
Author:
 
Need a healthy meal when you will be traveling? These oat jars are fantastic! They are shelf stable, so make them ahead, then all you need to do is add hot water when ready to consume. Delicious, nutritious, and convenient! 3 "levels," from most basic (beginner) and cheapest, to most different (advanced) and also pricier. Try one or try them all!
Ingredients
Beginner: Cinnamon Raisin ($)
  • ½ cup oatmeal
  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp. flaxseed
  • 1-2 tbsp. date sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. raisins
  • 1-2 tbsp. walnuts
Intermediate: Cranberry Hemp ($$)
  • ½ cup oatmeal
  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp. flaxseed
  • 3 tbsp. hemp hearts
  • 2 tbsp. cranberries (I like naturally sweetened ones)
  • 1-2 tbsp. date sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
Advanced: Green Tea Goji ($$$)
  • ½ cup oatmeal
  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp. flaxseed
  • 2 tbsp. hemp hearts
  • 2 tbsp. goji berries
  • 1 tbsp. coconut sugar
  • ½ tsp matcha
Instructions
  1. Add ingredients in a pint mason jar or other jar.
  2. Store in pantry until ready to take, or consume.
  3. Before eating, mix in 1 to 1½ cups boiling or very hot water, depending on how thick you like it. (I usually use about 1¼ cups).
  4. Enjoy!
Notes
I prefer date sugar for most of my oat jars, as it is just dried and ground up dates. If you prefer a sweeter oatmeal, use coconut sugar, maple sugar, or organic cane sugar. You may need less of these sweeteners than the date sugar. Or, if you know you will have access to quality honey or pure maple syrup, leave the sweetener out and add honey or syrup to taste.

 

 

 

I’d love to hear from you!  Do you have a great “travel” recipe? Leave me a comment, below!

 

 

 

 

Crockpot Curry

Crisp air… leaves falling… crockpot simmering in the kitchen!

We went crockpot crazy this week, using it three times! Moving forward into fall and winter, I am going to make sure I have at least one crockpot recipe every week.  It’s so awesome to walk in the door and have dinner ready!

This particular recipe does require a little prep work in the morning (or afternoon if you are home and can put it on a 4 hour setting). It is so worth it though!

Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and about 1 tsp of salt until translucent (about 5-7 minutes). Add the sweet potatoes and another 1 tsp of salt and sauté for another couple of minutes. Stir in spices, ginger, and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in a 1/2 cup of broth and scrape pan to help get all the good stuff off the bottom of the pan, and pour mixture into large crockpot.

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Add all other ingredients to crockpot, EXCEPT coconut milk and spinach. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

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Stir in coconut milk and spinach until wilted.  Serve with lemon wedge, if desired. You can serve this on its own, or over rice or quinoa. Last time we ate this we had it with local organic sourdough toast! Delish!

My husband and I both love this recipe and it is definitely a regular in our rotation! The recipe was originally inspired by and adapted from this one. My version doesn’t have any added sugar, unlike a lot of curries.  It has plenty of sweetness from sweet potato and apple, though.

I also think it’s great how big of a batch this makes. You will have enough to freeze some, share with friends, or have for lunches all week. Yes, please!

 

Crockpot Curry
 
Author:
 
Hearty spiced vegetable curry made in the crockpot, with amazing richness and creaminess from coconut milk. Filling on its own, or can serve over brown rice or quinoa. Makes a really large batch, great to freeze or have as leftovers for lunch throughout the week!
Ingredients
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. curry powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 inch piece ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas, or 2 cans chickpeas (drained)
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 orange or red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 apples, diced
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 can (28 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes with their liquid
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1-2 large handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Sauté the onion and about 1 tsp of salt until translucent (about 5-7 minutes).
  3. Add the sweet potatoes and another 1 tsp of salt and sauté for another couple of minutes.
  4. Stir in spices, ginger, and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Pour in a ½ cup of broth and scrape pan to help get all the good stuff off the bottom of the pan, and pour mixture into large crockpot.
  6. Add all other ingredients to crockpot, EXCEPT coconut milk and spinach and lemon.
  7. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
  8. Stir in coconut milk and spinach about 5 minutes before serving.
  9. Serve on its own, with optional lemon wedges, or over brown rice or quinoa. We also have been liking it with a buttered piece of local organic sourdough toast to dip in!

 

Check out my other crockpot recipes, here:

“Dump and Go” Taco Soup

Crockpot Potato Vegetable Chowder

Slowcooker Applesauce without a Recipe

 

I’d love to hear from you!  Spam me with your favorite crockpot recipes so I can keep my once/week crockpot goal!

Spicy Garden Gazpacho

Is there anything easier than making a meal by just using your blender? Probably not.  Which is one of the reasons I have a smoothie almost daily!

You will also need to turn on your oven, if you want to take this recipe to the next level with delicious potato “croutons,” which I highly recommend.

Besides it being SO EASY to make, another reason I love this gazpacho is that all the ingredients came from our garden.  Hence, “garden gazpacho.” 😉 Beautiful large heirloom tomatoes, small sweet cherry tomatoes, a cucumber, a jalepeno (optional, what makes it spicy), a green pepper (feel free to use red if yours have ripened already!), onion, garlic.  The rest of the ingredients are just a little lemon juice, and pantry staples… broth (I used homemade but feel free to use boxed broth ), olive oil, balsamic vinegar, hot sauce (optional, like the jalepeno, to give it a nice kick), ground cumin, and salt and pepper.  We also got the potatoes for the topping from our garden.

One more reason to love this?  You really don’t need a recipe!  You can totally use the one below as just a guide. We were winging it, and it turned out good EVERY TIME. I usually blend the tomatoes first, then blend the rest of the ingredients, then fill the blender the rest of the way with broth. You will have one VERY full blender.

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Such a perfect light meal or appetizer.  Or, filling meal if you have it with piles and piles of potato croutons like I did, last time I made this!

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Spicy Garden Gazpacho with Roasted Potato "Croutons"
 
Author:
 
Could there be an easier and healthier light meal to make? Perfect summer or last-days-of-summer recipe. Adding a jalepeno and hot sauce give this soup a spicy kick! Roasted croutons add delicious texture to this dish.
Ingredients
Gazpacho
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (or other small sweet tomatoes)
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 jalepeno (mostly seeded)
  • 1 green pepper, rough chopped
  • ½ sweet onion, rough chop
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 cup broth
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp hot sacue
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Herbs like parsley or basil (optional, or for garnish)
Potato Croutons
  • 3 medium potatoes
Instructions
Gazpacho
  1. Blend tomatoes in high speed blender.
  2. Add all other ingredients except broth and blend again.
  3. Finally, add broth to the top of blender (was about 1 cup for us) and blend again until silky smooth.
  4. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
  5. Place in fridge to chill.
Potato croutons
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Chop potatoes into ½ inch pieces.
  3. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake for 20-35 minutes or until golden and crispy.

 

I’d love to hear from you!  Do you like gazpacho? Or, what is your favorite end-of-summer recipe? Let me know in the comments!

Coconut Oat Ice Cream Sandwiches

I made coconut milk based ice cream all through July and August.

First, I was trying for a mint chocolate chip with mint from our garden.  I’ve had success in the past using mint extract, like in this shake, but we have several kinds of mint taking over our garden and yard, so I wanted to incorporate real mint.  I found that the flavor of coconut was a bit overpowering when I was using a little mint, and when I used a LOT of mint, the ice cream tasted too earthy.  I actually staged and took pictures of the “final” version, but couldn’t bring myself to post it.  Didn’t think it was “blog worthy” enough!

Then, I went for coffee ice cream, at my husband’s request.  We had just made a big batch of cold brew coffee, so the first step, making strong coffee, was already done for me, woo hoo! Coffee ice cream time!  No. We added way too much coffee, so it was more ice crystal-y than ice cream-y. The next time added less coffee and again, the coffee flavor seemed way too dilute, considering the coconut milk base.

I liked all of them, and we ate a lot of ice cream.  Overall though, I decided I would just stick to banana ice cream.   It’s easier (no ice cream maker needed!), cheaper (how cheap are bananas!), and healthier (I was adding natural sweeteners, either honey or maple syrup to my coconut ice creams, but still).

Then, a brilliant idea struck, as I was making both banana ice cream and making a double batch of my “famous” coconut oat cookies. Ice cream sandwiches!!!!!

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So, that’s what happened. And I’m not even disappointed I didn’t have a “real” ice cream to go in it. These are SO. DARN. GOOD.

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I’ll see you next summer, coconut milk and Ice Cream Maker. Until then, I’ll be eating these ice cream sandwiches!

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Coconut Oat Ice Cream Sandwiches
 
Author:
Serves: 1 dozen ice cream sandwiches
 
Chewy coconut oat cookies sandwiching vanilla banana ice cream. Vegan, gluten free, absolutely delicious!
Ingredients
Coconut Oat Cookies:
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 11/2 cups almond meal
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • ½ cup oats
banana ice cream
  • 3 ripe bananas that have been frozen
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
Chewy coconut oat cookies:
  1. Make chia egg by putting 1 tbsp. chia + 3 tbsp. water in a mug or bowl and letting it "gel" for about 5 minutes
  2. Mix almond meal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together coconut sugar, coconut oil, vanilla, and chia egg.
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients until well mixed.
  5. Then, add in coconut and oats. This will be a very thick dough.
  6. Drop a tablespoon of dough on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat. Press down slightly to help shape them.
  7. Bake at 350 for ~10 minutes.
  8. Let cool then stick them in the freezer for a couple of hours or until frozen.
Banana Ice cream:
  1. Use a blender (with tamping device) or food processor to blend bananas (and vanilla extract) until creamy, soft serve consistency.
  2. For best results, stick this mixture in the freezer for an hour so the ice cream sandwiches keep their shape.
  3. Eat the extra 😉
  4. Now, put them together! Work quickly and put a big dollop of banana ice cream in between two cookies. Stick them back in the freezer to firm up completely.
  5. Enjoy!

 

I’d love to hear from you!  Do you have a dairy free and refined sugar free ice cream maker recipe? Leave me a comment!

 

Greena Pina Colada

Is there anything more refreshing than a pina colada on a hot summer day? Pina coladas from restaurants tend to be sickly sweet, and kind of tastes like sunscreen. Not exactly light and refreshing!

This smoothie is inspired by pina coladas, with the classic coconut and pineapple combo, but of course I added greens, making it a greena pina colada!

I think the secret to this is using an actual coconut.  Sure… you could buy some coconut water or coconut milk in cartons or cans.  But, I daresay it won’t be the same.  If you haven’t tried young coconuts yet… this is me telling you, go get one! I bought this one at Wegmans. When we lived in NY’s Capital Region, we would get them from an Asian market.  The one I tried stopping into since we moved to this area doesn’t carry them, though. It’s worth a shot to check because they tend to be cheaper at an Asian foods store than a regular grocery store.

 

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Try not to chop your hand off.  Thankfully, my accident-prone husband never did this when using a knife to cut them open.  Since we use them pretty often in smoothies, we bought a Coco-Jack. Now I don’t have to worry when cracking them open!

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Another tip to make this a GREAT smoothie, is make sure your pineapple is really ripe.  I never find ripe ones at the store, so I buy one and let it ripen on my counter.  When the kitchen starts smelling like sweet sweet pineapple, it’s ready to eat! The first time I made this it was with super sweet pineapple that had ripened on our counter, that I froze. The second time I made it was with frozen pineapple I bought from Trader Joe’s, and I didn’t like it quite as much!  Still delish, but I noticed a difference.

Again, it depends on the pineapple a bit for sweetness, so try it as is.  If you want it a bit sweeter (more like an actual pina colada vs a smoothie), add a frozen banana or a couple dates, or a Tbsp. of pure maple syrup.

greena pina colada

Look how vibrant that color is!  Partly because I added some turmeric 😉 .  You don’t even taste it but there are tons of nutritional benefits!  To read my post on turmeric, click here.

 

I’d love to hear from you!  Have you tried young coconuts? What is your favorite way to use them? Leave me a comment, below!

 

 

Greena Pina Colada
 
Author:
Serves: 1-2
 
A refreshing green smoothie with the classic flavors of pineapple + coconut.
Ingredients
  • Meat of 1 young coconut
  • 1 cup of coconut water (drink the remaining, save for another smoothie, or add it all in if you prefer a thinner smoothie)
  • 3 cups pineapple
  • ½ cucumber
  • 1 cup packed lettuce
  • ½ tbsp. turmeric
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in high speed blender until smooth.
  2. Taste. For a sweeter smoothie, add a frozen banana, a couple of dates, or 1 tbsp. of pure maple syrup.
  3. Enjoy!