Yesterday I enjoyed the day grocery shopping, eating a huge greek lunch with tzatziki (my favorite!), and drinking a little white wine… or A LOT of white wine. No biggie. For a quality nutritious dinner, I destroyed a giant cup of frozen yogurt with four flavors: pistachio, cheesecake, vanilla bean, and red velvet cake batter. Seriously extraordinary.
But then today a little bit of magic happened.
Cause I made this banana bread.
And I made it vegan.
And irresistibly healthy.
Because I love you, duh.
This recipe was inspired by my dark chocolate raspberry oatmeal banana bread, which happens to be my favorite banana bread EVER. The ingredients call for gluten-free oat flour and I love making it myself; all you do is throw rolled oats (oatmeal) into your blender and blend until they oats are ground into a fine flour. Simple and easy!
Sometimes I find myself in an entranced state when I cook. It’s as though I get lost in the food; in the flavors, the smells, and sometimes just the simple pleasure that good food brings to my soul.
I also get lost pinning things on Pinterest. Which is mostly just a distraction from what I’m actually trying to do which is work like a normal person and get to the gym.
Speaking of the gym, I have an update on my Big Foot/marine/professional wrestler trainer! Uhhh… he is legit crazy (yes I just said that). He made us do 30 jumpsquats, some weird miliary squats with weights, 20 billion planks, and suicides. It’s like high school basketball practice all over, and again, I thought I was going to die. Apparently he enjoys torturing people while he sits there and plans his next attack as Sasquatch or whatever he does in his free time. I mean he even told us to eat a Paleo based diet, which of course I won’t be doing. Only because I really like carbs and pumpkin pie season is coming (my obsession).
What?! No one tells me what to eat.
…Unless it’s someone really ridiculously good-looking like Pacey from Dawson’s Creek. Then I MIGHT consider his suggestion.
Bruschetta is delicious and quite healthy as far as appetizers go. Well unless you put fried onion rings and bacon on it.. then not so much.
However, I like good-for-you sorts of things. So toasted slices of whole grain french bread are slathered with one of my favorites: heart-healthy smashed avocado mixed with sea salt and fresh lime juice. Then I pile on a mixture of tomato, balsamic vinegar, garlic and olive oil. Oh and let’s not forget a little fresh basil!
Goodness. These cute toasts are simply delightful. Especially with fresh tomatoes from your garden!
They only take about 10 minutes to throw together.
Annnnndddd they are vegan! But I mean, if you hate vegan things you could just add a little goat cheese. Or bacon.
Hey by the way… did you guys know that I don’t eat pork or beef?
Whole grain slices of french bread are toasted to perfection and topped with smashed avocado and a garlicky tomato basil mixture.
1/2 loaf whole grain french bread (or 1 petite loaf), sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 avocados, smashed
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus exta
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 large roma tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3-4 basil leaves, chopped
Preheat oven on broiler setting.
Place slices of bread on baking sheet, spray with olive oil cooking spray and sprinkle with sea salt; broil slices in oven about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove from oven and rub with one clove of garlic (make sure to cut it in half before rubbing).
In a medium bowl, mix smashed avocado, lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt and ground pepper.
In a separate large bowl, combine tomatoes, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Mince other garlic clove and add it into tomato mixture.
Spread smashed avocado mixture onto each slice of toast, then generously spoon tomato topping on top. Garnish with basil and serve immediately.
Live deliciously. Fight for the things you want the most. Take risks. Dream big. Wear red lipstick and heels every chance you get. Go on lots of first dates, but few second ones. Be weird. Drink too many margaritas every once in a while. Laugh until you get a 6-pack. Be yourself. Be unforgettable. Live in a big city. Exercise. Learn how to roast a chicken. Get to know your grandparents. Don’t be a slave to the ordinary. Bungee jump. Go on a vacation. Kiss a stranger.
How do we accomplish it all? Start with a healthy breakfast full of whole grains.
I thought it would be better for my waistline if I stopped rolling out pie crust and started eating things like rainbow salads, better-for-you muffins, and loads of things made with quinoa. I don’t know if it’s the cuteness of this little nutty grain, or my general obsession for the taste, but quinoa is now featured in 72% of my weekly meals (not like I actually calculated or anything). It’s like when I was 18 and had this crazy obsession with Panera Bread’s veggie sandwich; I had it nearly every day for a month. That was weird.
However, I’m confident my love for quinoa isn’t just a phase I’m going through. It’s kind of like a real marriage. True dedication. I mean, blueberry quinoa pancakes and enchilada quinoa stuffed bell peppers… and now this breakfast quinoa? It’s time to step outside of the boxed mac & (neon) cheese or those Lean Cuisines that never fill you up.
Let’s make our lives a little more delicious.
Now my eating isn’t perfect, but I’ve realized that whole, clean foods in my diet make me happier and healthier. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and packed with protein which means it keeps me full for hours. But that isn’t the only reason I love it for breakfast: it only takes about 15 minutes to prepare and can be stored in the fridge for reheating throughout the week. Sometimes I throw it in individual portioned containers with different add-ins or flavor combinations and zap in the microwave when I’m in a rush. It’s incredibly convenient and easy!
Intimidated by quinoa? Don’t be afraid to try out new foods just because they’re unfamiliar. I came across some great tips on making your quinoa fluffy from Kathy that I’ve consistently followed; I always end up with a bowl of perfect fluffy quinoa to fill my belly.
So how do you cook quinoa?
First start with a 1:2 ratio–one part quinoa, two parts water. It’s important to rinse your quinoa to prevent a bitter taste. Place water and rinsed quinoa in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over high heat. (At this point I usually add in my spices or vanilla). Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand another 5-10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, add in fruit, nuts, milk, whatever your heart desires and serve!
I wanted to make my breakfast quinoa vegan so once I was done cooking it, I poured in a cup of coconut milk, added sliced bananas (which I actually grilled a bit), strawberries, toasted almonds and pecans, and sprinkled a bit unsweetened toasted coconut on top.
Of course, there are endless combinations to try with your breakfast quinoa including different berries, milks, nut butters, honey, and nuts. It’s just a feel good breakfast.
Strawberries, bananas, toasted nuts and are adding to a delicious gluten free and vegan breakfast quinoa.
1 cup of water
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups milk of your choice (to make vegan use coconut or almond milk), divided
1 small banana, sliced
1/2 cup strawberries, diced
2 tablespoons sliced toasted almonds
2 tablespoons unsweetened toasted coconut
Place water and rinsed quinoa in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over high heat. Add cinnamon and vanilla and reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand another 5-10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork.
Divide into two bowls, adding 3/4 cup of milk. Top each bowl with bananas, strawberries, toasted nuts, and unsweetened coconut. Serve immediately.
Optional add-ins: honey, agave nectar, peanut or almond butter, berry variety, mango, pineapple, apples, applesauce or toasted nuts If you'd like you can double the recipe and store the extra quinoa (without milk and toppings) in a container and place in fridge. Take out portions during the week, reheat, and add toppings.
I’ve neglected one of my favorite things: writing and cooking for you!
It’s been so beautiful that hot summer days and beach sunsets are getting my grocery shopping obsession a little bit off track. I just can’t help but soak up the sun and ocean every chance I get.
I’m also the girl who can never turn down breakfast, which is why I’ve been brunching around LA quite a bit. Brunching for hours is good for the soul. And quite tasty too! Fresh squeezed orange juice, dirty chai tea lattes (a must-try!), gorgeous fried egg-avocado sandwiches, acai bowls, blueberry buttermilk muffins; these things make me overjoyed.
I mean, you just know it’s been a good weekend when you can go to brunch and chow down on chocolate chip pancakes bigger than your face. Double points if you’re eating to cure a headache. Come on and laugh… you know it’s true.
It’s unfair that we can’t eat french fries and pancakes all the time, but with incredibly delicious vegan soups like this I don’t even miss them. That’s just a lie; I actually LOVE french fries all the time (especially with these homemade dipping sauces)!
Nevertheless this soup still is exceptionally good. The ingredients make the perfect combination of sweet and savory. It just reminds me of all things summer. Garlic! Onion! Carrots! Chickpeas! Tomatoes! Sweet Potatoes! Cumin! Fresh Basil!
I felt extremely satisfied after finishing off a bowl. In fact, I even told myself that it canceled out all that weekend eating and margarita downing. I only wish that were true.
This soup was inspired by a recipe for tomato-chickpea soup from one of my favorite new vegetarian cookbooks, Herbivoracious. A few weeks ago, I attended a book signing and cooking demonstration by Michael Natkin, author of the cookbook and blog Herbivoracious. The book if FULL of gorgeous vegetarian photos. I can’t wait to try out more recipes; some are even vegan and/or gluten-free too!
Michael sampled delicious stuffed polenta (a recipe in his book) at the event, signed my cookbook, and even told me he LOVED my blog name! Awwww.
One last thing. I’m excited to announce that I’ll be giving away this cookbook to one of my readers!
All you have to do is leave a comment below and tell me your favorite brunch spot (and what you eat there, obviously)! Also, be sure to like my Facebook page; where I’ll announce the winner a week from today!
Don’t forget to make this soup! You might love it as much as french fries.
Vegan Tomato, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Soup -- healthy, easy to make and delicious!
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small white onion, chopped
1 orange pepper, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1-(16 oz. can) chickpeas
1-(16 oz can) diced tomatoes (I prefer fire roasted)
2 cups vegetarian broth
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
salt and pepper for seasoning
fresh chopped basil, for garnish
1 sliced avocado, for garnish (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and salt; saute for 2 minute. Add the diced orange pepper and carrots to the pot and saute for 5 minutes.
Add the entire can of tomatoes to the pot. Next add the chickpeas, vegetarian broth, cumin, basil, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a simmer; reduce the heat to medium, add diced sweet potatoes. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Serve, garnished with additional basil and/or avocado slices if desired. Serves 4.
Adding things like quinoa, chicken, pork, or turkey would make this dish higher in protein
Feel free to add parsley or cilantro instead of basil
Hey you! Yes, YOU! I like you… a lot. You brighten my day.
I feel so lucky to have such incredible readers; readers who make me feel amazing and inspired every single day. Many of you have been tweeting with me or posting on my Facebook page letting me know which recipes you’re loving, or what’s inspiring you to cook. Some of you have even sent me an email saying how my recipes have encouraged you to eat healthier. You are all so sweet and I’m OVERJOYED that this blog has inspired you.
I don’t know what to say other than… THANK YOU! It’s appreciated more than you know!
Now, let’s talk about quesadillas.
I love them. Adore them. Salivite over them! Yeah, I’m pretty weird but you’re probably okay with that by now if you’re still reading this.
Quesadillas are a traditional mexican dish that usually involves cheese and a savory mixture of vegetables and/or meat. They’re one of my favorite meals to put together at the last-minute because it involves throwing delicious combinations in a tortilla and toasting or frying it until crispy and golden brown. These days the traditional quesadillas have evolved into something wonderful: breakfast (or dessert) quesadillas!
It’s as simple as this: I am obsessed with the peanut butter and banana combo. Typically when I’m in a rush I put the duo on an english muffin and barely remember inhaling my breakfast, but I was getting a little bored with that. So instead of the usual, I thought I’d make it interesting by making peanut butter and banana quesadillas and adding in seasonal, ripe strawberries for a sort of PB&J twist.
My mind was BLOWN AWAY after one bite. In all seriousness, yours probably will be too.
If you’ve never experienced the peanut butter, strawberry, and banana combo–prepare to be amazed!
First of all–the strawberries in the quesadilla! They almost taste like they were roasted–exploding with flavor and juicyness from the heat. It reminds me of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, except with a fresh, more interesting appeal. The crunch of the tortilla and the warm, creamy peanut butter makes me wish I could go back to grade school and demand ask nicely for this in my lunchbox.
When making quesadillas I always use whole wheat-low carb tortillas because I love the nutty flavor of them, plus whole grains keep you fuller, longer. I recommend using Joesph’s Tortillas, but any whole grain tortilla would work well. This also would be an optimal pre or post-workout snack or meal because of the good carbs and healthy fats.
Additionally I HIGHLY recommend trying this for dessert. It’s pretty guilt-free, perfect for sharing, and kids will even love them. Plus they are vegan, and you could certainly make them gluten-free by using GF tortillas.
The possibilities are endless! Think about it.
Wouldn’t replacing nutella for peanut butter be dreamy? Or perhaps sprinkling in a few mini chocolate chips? What about dipping them in a warm chocolate sauce?
THAT could be like tasting a little bite of heaven. But those are just suggestions, feel free to get creative!
As requested, nutritional information is included.
Just please note that after this quesadilla, you’ll never want to settle for a traditional PB&J again. If you try them, be sure to let me know what you think.
Delicious breakfast quesadilla stuffed with peanut butter, bananas and fresh strawberries. A great on the go breakfast.
Cooking spray or butter
2 tablespoons natural creamy peanut butter
2 whole grain tortillas
1 large ripe banana, sliced
4-5 strawberries, sliced
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (if desired)
Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat and spray pan with cooking spray.
Spread 1 tablespoon of the peanut butter evenly over each tortilla. Arrange both the banana and strawberry slices over one tortilla, sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon, and top with the remaining tortilla, peanut butter side down. Press gently to help them stick together.
When the skillet is hot, add the quesadilla, flipping once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Cut each quesadilla into halves or quarters.
For a dessert version try adding 1 teaspoon of mini chocolate chips in Serve with honey, maple syrup, vanilla greek yogurt, or chocolate sauce Try with different nut butters, nutella or almond butter would be good The nutritional information below is based on using a flour tortilla. Using a low carb, whole grain tortilla would lower the calories and carb count. It would also increase the fiber.
I mean, have you ever wondered why old people love butterscotch candies so much? I did and I googled it… here is the answer. Please read the entire explanation.
I think the best part is the last sentence. Spot on, right?
I’ve discovered that my soul must be about 70 because some of my favorite sweets include butterscotch candies, Fig Newtons, peppermint patties, and Almond Joys. Simplicity is good in the candy world. The sweet and salty versions and contrasting textures that make up a good bar.
Almond joys are great examples: coconut, almonds, and dark chocolate. I mean, it’s kind of just simple perfection. Or perfect enough for me to want to put the ingredients on top of my ice cream anyway.
When you dream and work in the food world — you always want to experiment with what you create. To be wild and explorative makes things interesting. Adding bourbon to sauces and cookies, baking with brown butter, adding green chile to eggs. These things are totally what I’m about–keeping it fearless and sassy.
Anyway my point is that applying more spontenaity to my actual life could be beneficial. These days I tell myself to pursue the projects I think I might enjoy. If they don’t work out, then it’s not meant to be. Right now, I’ve got A LOT of thing I’m working on… including a guest post from someone VERY special this week!
Opportunities are endless.
Can ice cream be endless too?
Without a doubt. Especially when it’s healthy and vegan. Although I will admit that this really isn’t ice cream — it’s a one ingredient guiltless summer treat. All you need is a couple of frozen bananas and a food processor (or a blender). Once the frozen banana are processed, they turn into a creamy treat that mimicks your favorite soft serve! Make sure you use ripe bananas to ensure sweetness and an irresistable texture. You’ll be surprised by this one.
Banana “Ice Cream” with Toasted Coconuts, Almonds, & Dark Chocolate
To make the banana ice cream:
Start with 2-4 ripe bananas. Peel your bananas and cut them into small chunks. Freeze for just 2-4 hours on a plate or in a plastic bag. Place into food processor and process (you can use a blender as well), making sure to scrape down the bowl when they stick. Again process the bananas until they create a creamy puree. Serve in a cold bowl or in a cone. Each banana will make ½ cup of “ice cream.”
To make Almond Joy version:
Add 2 tablespoons of toasted coconut, 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips, and 1 tablespoon of chopped almonds to a medium bowl. Sprinkle on top of banana ice cream.
Getting my aggression out. Kickboxing, cycling, yoga is all good… plus then I can eat more of the above.
My new camera. It MIGHT be more important to me than cookies. It’s certainly more important than a boyfriend.
Grandma’s buttermilk waffles. Crispy with a lovely fluffy texture. Don’t worry I snatched up the recipe to share.
Peanut butter and banana (and chocolate chips sometimes) sandwiches. Forget the jelly; I’m all about diversity.
Maxi dresses and big sunglasses. I live in this.
Smoothies made with coconut milk. It’s like I’m drinking a tropical vacation!
We all know I’m big into margaritas and all things spanish inspired. I eat spanish food more than anyone I know. And of course I love a good cocktail type beverage during the warm summer months.
Piña Coladas are the official beverage of Puerto Rico (where my family is from), and I thought that I would share with you a lightened up version that you can slurp down whenever! Typically made with coconut creme, pineapple juice, and rum–these tropical beverages can be super high in calories. To make them lighter, I removed the coconut creme and replaced it with coconut milk, added frozen bananas, and said adios to the rum.
Buttttt where did the rum gooooo?
I’m all about the goodness of coconut milk; it’s creamy, rich, and full of nutrients. I’ve been putting it in cupcakes. I pour it over my oatmeal. I’d take a straight shot of it.
Look I don’t know where my heads at, but I do know that blending up this healthy smoothie made me feel like I was in Mexico on spring break. Until I realized I actually wasn’t… annnnd the fact that this drink didn’t actually have any alcoholic in it– which meant I still needed to go to yoga because I was completely capable.
I say after hitting the gym we add the rum and say hello to Summer!
Just a simple favorite.
Vegan Piña Colada Smoothies
1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple chunks
1 cup coconut milk (I like Silk coconut milk, unsweetened)
1 large frozen banana (chunks)
1/2 cup ice cubes
Place pineapple chunks, banana, coconut milk, and ice cubes in blender. Puree until smooth and creamy. Pour into two glasses. Top with pineapple for garnish, whip cream (vegan if desired), or drizzle with honey.
For frozen banana chunks, simply cut up banana, place in small ziploc bag and place in freezer
Recipe would be great using coconut milk ice cream or yogurt instead of coconut milk
My list is huge. Successful women. Chefs. Writers. The mom in Whole Foods with four kids. My bike. The guy in yoga with those incredible abs (call me). Those who live compassionately. History. A challenge. People who believe that everyday brings a new opportunity to grow, take risks, and smile.
Last time I was in California I met up with Veronica, the founder of the vegan, gluten-free Pure Bars. She is a person who truly inspires me. Veronica started her own business and is completely passionate about healthy living. Naturally we had much to talk about including food and her incredible success as an entrepreneur. Veronica also mentioned that California had great restaurants, particularly if you are gluten-free, vegan, or if you only eat raw. I experienced meals in California that I will never forget . Fresh. Healthy. Just damn good!
I got curious and thought I’d challenge myself to make a vegan cupcake, which actually turned out to be very easy and delicious.
Usually I roll out of bed, throw on an outfit, and stop at Starbucks. This happens all before 9am. After I get my sweat on at the gym I head straight to the grocery store, where my cart crashes into at least 3 people. I smile and kindly apologize for being an aggressive cart driver. It’s Sunday after all and I’m feeling extra nice.
Really though, I’m on a mission to get home and put my Kitchen Aid mixer to work, do some laundry, and watch a trashy television show while I eat a giant bowl of pasta.