Red Lentil Sweet Potato Curry

On my way home from work yesterday I was feeling so drained. I’m a busy bee by nature; I love having a full schedule, but sometimes I wear myself out. I had woken up early to get my work out in, went to coach, came home to pack a lunch and headed off to work. Driving home at 7pm I was tired, hungry, and, despite it being 85 degrees out, craving something warm and comforting.

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Curry is such a nourishing and soothing dish. It’s simple and adaptable ingredients make it a dish that can truly be tailored to your desires. I had a big sweet potato and fresh broccoli on hand, and I’ve been adding more turmeric to my diet – so this recipe was born!

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Don’t be afraid of the strong and robust smell of curry powder. While it’s scent is incredibly complex and different from anything I’ve ever smelt, it’s flavor is pleasing and adjustable. Curry powder is like curry in a bottle – it’s a blend of all the traditional spices! It simplifies the dish because it has all the seasonings in one. If you would like a stronger curry, simply add more curry powder! If you just want more spice, throw in some extra cayenne or paprika. If you’re craving something creamier, substitute the almond milk and half the water for coconut milk instead.

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– Ingredients – 

1 tsp olive oil

2 cups + extra water / liquid

1/4 cup almond milk

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 cup red lentils

1 large sweet potato cubed with skin

1/2 cup brocoli florets

1 tsp tumeric

2 tsp curry powder

sea salt + black pepper

chopped cashews for topping

– Recipe – 

Makes approximately 4 servings

  1. Heat a pot over a medium flame on the stove top and add in the olive oil and onions. Sauté the onion until they’re just beginning to soften, then add in the garlic. Once the garlic is fragrant, toss in the turmeric and curry powder and sauté.
  2. Pour in two cups of water and 1 cup of red lentils, string to ensure the garlic, onions, and spices incorporate evenly. Next add in the sweet potato cubes. Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer.
  3. The mixture will simmer for about 25 minutes in total. Check it frequently, giving it a good stir and adding additional water if necessary. The lentils will absorb the water and become mushy, which is what you want. I added about 1/2 cup extra. Add in the 1/4 cup of almond milk once you start to see the lentils breaking down.
  4. After adding the almond milk, toss in the broccoli florets and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. The broccoli will add some nice crunch and of course added nutrition!
  5. Remove the pot from the stove and allow it to sit for a few minutes so everything can settle together. Top with chopped cashews and serve alongside rice, I used Jasmine. Enjoy!

Almond Butter Blondies

Blondies are so underrated; brownies and cookies steal the show while these tasty hybrids somehow get lost in the mix. I can probably count on one hand the amount of times I’ve had a blondie in my life, none of which are entirely memorable. This recipe is sure to change your mind for good about lackluster blondies. They’re just the right amount of thick, chewy, crumbly, decadent indulgence. The best part? The ingredient list isn’t frightening – they’re a healthy treat!

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This is another recipe my boyfriend’s mom cut out of a magazine for me, which I easily adapted to be vegan! Of course I had to make some changes, I rarely follow recipes perfectly. The original recipe calls for quinoa flour, butter, and eggs; I subbed in brown rice flour, Earth Balance, and flax eggs. I would have loved to try quinoa flour but unfortunately I couldn’t find it and didn’t have enough quinoa to grind on my own and brown rice flour is almost an exact conversion!

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If you’re a dedicated peanut butter lover and almond butter just doesn’t do it for you, have no fear! While almond butter is one of the main ingredients here, it’s light flavor isn’t overpowering in this recipe. It blends in nicely with the mix and adds a subtle nutty flavor without being the star of the show. I’m sure you could use peanut butter instead, but unless you have an allergy of some sort, I would stick with the almond butter. My boyfriend would never choose to eat almond butter over peanut butter, and he enjoyed these just as much as I did!

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If you can stop yourself from eating the whole pan in one sitting, I give you serious credit. I’m just dreaming about the next time I make these. My boyfriend was kind enough to take all these beautiful photos of them as well! He patiently snapped away before devouring this plate 🙂

Original Recipe: Eating Well

– Ingredients – 

1/4 cup softened Earth Balance stick

3/4 cup smooth, natural almond butter

2 flax eggs

3/4 cup organic brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup brown rice flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp sea salt

1 cup dark chocolate chips

– Recipe – 

1. Start by combining 2 tbsp ground flax seeds and 6 tbsp warm water in a small bowl. Stir and allow the mixture to sit. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F and lining a 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper. Lightly oil the parchment paper as well.

2. Combine the Earth Balance and almond butter into a creamy mixture using a standup mixer. In a separate bowl, stir the brown rice flour baking powder, and salt together.

3. Add in the brown sugar and vanilla extract to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Add in your flax eggs, which should be a slightly gel-like consistency, and mix well.

4. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and mix until ingredients are just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips!

5. Carefully pour the batter into the oiled and lined 8 x 8 baking pan. Be sure to spread the batter evenly so that blondies are relatively uniform in thickness and cook at the same rate.

6. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, using a toothpick test. Allow the blondie to cool completely (the hardest part) – around 45 minutes. After cooled, pull the parchment paper and lift the blondies out and onto a cutting board to be divided up.

7. Try not to eat the whole pan in one sitting…. Enjoy!

Simple Chunky Guacamole

Guacamole is a summertime favorite in my house. We look forward to spending our summer days at the beach and coming home to a bowl of fresh guacamole and corn chips to munch on while hanging out in the backyard. It’s the perfect appetizer for any gathering, or any day really.

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I threw this guacamole together last summer and it’s been a favorite ever since. It’s crazy simple and destined to please. What’s not to love about creamy avocado goodness? When you get the perfect – a hearty scoop of citrus infused avocado, crisp red onion, chunky tomato and just the right amount of salt and red pepper topping a crunchy corn chip… Honestly, what could be better?

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Avocados provide monounsaturated fats, which are heart healthy, essential fats that our bodies love! They also are loaded with potassium, folate, phosphorous, vitamin A and magnesium. All of which are essential for the proper functioning of our cells. Avocados are truly nature’s butter – creamy and delicious!

I hope you give this recipe a try – it’s incredibly easy and perfectly satisfying.

– Ingredients – 

4 avocados

1/2 tomato

1/4 red onion

1 clove garlic

juice of 1/2 lime

juice of 1/2 lemon

sea salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes

– Recipe – 

1. Slice open your avocados, remove the seed, and scoop the creamy flesh into a medium sized bowl. Use a fork to mash it thoroughly.

2. Dice 1/2 a tomato and 1/4 a red onion. You want to guacamole to be chunky, so don’t go crazy but make sure the pieces are a reasonable size. Add the tomato and red onion to the avocado and mix well.

3. Mince a clove of garlic and squeeze the juice from 1/2 a lemon and 1/2 a lime. Add these to the avocado mixture and combine. Ladybug

4. Finally, season with sea salt, black pepper (just a sprinkle of this), and red pepper flakes (for some spice!) to desire taste. I usually enlist some eager taste testers for this part.

5. Cover with tinfoil and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Before serving, mix well to refresh the green color; the mixture will look slightly darker initially but will lighten when mixed. Serve with Trader Joe’s corn tortilla chips or Garden of Eatin’ Blue corn tortilla chips (my favorites) or chips of choice!

Farro Tabbouleh Salad

I threw together this simple and light tabbouleh salad to bring with me for a weekend at my boyfriend’s lake house. His mom is super thoughtful and is always pulling recipes she thinks I would like or “sound like me.” This is one of them!

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We enjoyed this tabbouleh salad for lunch while sitting on the deck admiring the perfect day. It was great as a light salad for lunch, but would also work wonderfully as a side dish. White wine vinegar, dijon mustard and lemon juice give it a refreshing taste and pair perfectly with the abundant parsley and mint. It’s also a perfect use for your summer-fresh tomatoes and cucumbers!

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I decided to go with farro instead of quinoa because I wanted a bigger grain for a heartier bite. If you’re new to this ancient grain I highly recommend it! Farro has Italian origins and is the perfect way to amp up a salad, stew, soup, or even breakfast. It has a chewier, al dente consistency and contains 7 grams of protein and in a 1/2 cup serving. It also packs in 5 grams of fiber! I’m always looking for new, healthy ingredients to add to my arsenal of nutrient packed options. Being able to constantly change it up makes eating nutritiously fun and simple too.

If this recipe is your first time trying farro – it won’t disappoint! Eat in the sunshine for ultimate enjoyment!

Original Recipe: The Front Burner – Chef Central

– Ingredients –

1 cup dry farro

4 tomatoes

2 cucumbers

8 scallions

1 cup mint

1/2 – 2 cups flat leaf parsley

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 tbsp dijon mustard

3 cloves of garlic

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

– Recipe – 

1. Cook the farro in water according to package instructions and allow time to cool. Seed and dice the tomatoes. Peel, seed and dice the cucumbers.

2. Chop the scallions into small ring-like pieces. Use both the green and white portion. Also give the mint and parsley a good chop.

3. Prepare the dressing by simply mixing the olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, dijon, garlic, sea salt, and pepper together with a whisk.

4. Combine all prepared ingredients and pour the dressing over it. Dress the salad before putting it in the refrigerator to cool. The farro and vegetables will soak up the dressing and make it extra flavorful!

A Tasty Read

Have you ever started a book and immediately you’re swept away into its pages? It’s as if this is the book you’ve been looking for when you didn’t even know you were looking. And you’re so very invested in the story or the plot or the information provided that you can’t possibly put it down.

I’m reading a really fantastic book (featuring my coconut iced coffee).

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Obviously, I find nutrition interesting. It’s my chosen field of study and I truly love to learn and grow in my knowledge of overall wellness. Naturally, I was expecting to like Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, but for some reason I did not expect to feel so connected and inspired. I knew the book was a detailed explanation as to why vital nutrients have virtually disappeared from our food supply over time, and how we can work these back into our diets. The idea of eating naturally occurring, wholesome foods speaks to me very deeply.

However, I feel like this is the book about health and nutrition I have been searching for. I cannot stop reading it; it is absolutely incredible. Only 60 pages in and I feel as though I know tons more about food and it’s nutritional capacity than ever before.

The information I’m gathering is empowering. At any given moment I might strike up a conversation about lettuce or onions just so I can throw in all these wonderful facts I’ve learned and amaze people with the power of whole plant foods.

Not only is this book a wealth of nutritional knowledge that is practically a nutrition major’s dream, it is a collection of useful and essential information that any person could benefit from. If your goal is to be healthier – this book can do the job.

The readability and organization are so tastefully simple and direct, you don’t have to be seeking a degree in nutrition to understand her message – simply selecting more nutritious varieties of food can make loads of difference in your overall health.

I’ll definitely do a larger recap and review of the book once I finish it, which judging from my current progress, might be sooner than I imagined. So far, I highly recommend it.

What are you doing to educate yourself today?

Don’t ever stop learning – always crave more.

Peanut Soba Noodle Bowl

I’m a huge fan of Asian inspired meals – mostly because they generally contain ample amounts of vegetables, a whole grain, and a delicious sauce. This soba noodle bowl is no exception! This bold peanut sauce pairs perfectly with light, crisp vegetables and protein-packed soba noodles.

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I love peanut butter, and on my way home from work today I just couldn’t shake the craving for something nutty and delicious. This bowl hit the spot in a healthy way – I loaded it up with vegetables for a boost of vitamins, minerals, and color. Nuts may seem like a confusing food, because they’re deemed a healthy food yet have a high fat content. The stigma against all fat is truly undeserved – it’s all about what kind of fat you’re consuming.

Nuts do contain a higher amount of fat, but these polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are both essential and healthy – so  don’t fear them! When it comes to nuts, it’s all about portion size.

Fun Fact!? – Peanut are actually a legume! They are also a good source of Choline, Vitamin E and Folate! So you’re peanut butter addiction is a healthy addiction 😉

If case you’re still trying to figure out what the heck soba noodles are while I rant about peanuts: these thin noodles are made from buckwheat flour and are typically found in Japanese cuisine. A serving of buckwheat noodles contains approximately 6-10g of protein! They’re light, tasty, and graciously pick up whatever flavor you lend to them!

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A fork-full of yum 🙂

– Ingredients – 

2 bundles of soba noodles

1/2 large zucchini

1 1/2 carrots

1/2 yellow bell pepper

handful of snap peas

1/4 cup corn

1/2 cup edamame

1/3 cup natural peanut butter

1 clove garlic

2 tsp Bragg’s liquid aminos

1/4 tsp ginger

paprika

red pepper flakes

warm water

– Recipe – 

1. Boil 8 cups of water for the soba noodles. In the meantime, chop your vegetables. I used a spiralizer to create carrot ribbons and zucchini noodles.

2. To make the sauce: Combine peanut butter, garlic, liquid aminos, ginger, a sprinkle of paprika, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and a few tablespoons of warm water as needed. You may also add some of the excess oil that collects in the natural peanut butter (not all though – you’ll have dry peanut butter left over!). Blend these ingredients into a thick, fluffy peanut butter paste

2. Once the water has boiled, place your noodles in gently and allow them to cook for about 4 minutes, or until they are tender. Once done, drain the noodles and rinse with cold water.

3. Add a thin coating of water to a pan and pour the vegetables in. Once this small amount of water heats to a boil, it will cook the vegetables gently. Let this cook for about 4-5 minutes, depending on how crunchy or soft you prefer your vegetables.

4. Add in the peanut sauce and mix to coat the vegetables, then add the soba noodles and mix to combine. The small amount of hot water present will help the sauce break up more and distribute.

5. Allow it to simmer of heat for 2-3 minutes. Then cover and remove from heat and allow to sit for a few more. This short sitting time will help the sauce firm up a bit more and really coat the noodles and vegetables.

6. This meal can be served hot or cold – enjoy!

Ancient Grain Yam Nuggets

Summertime BBQs are in full swing around here, and with them comes the need for easily prepared and pleasing foods. When I think of a BBQ, I think of hamburgers, hotdogs, corn on the cob, quick cold salads such as coleslaw or pasta salad, and of course lots of dessert!

If you’re an herbivore like myself – BBQs can be rough. Generally there are few options, and I typically end up eating about half of the veggie platter or munching on snacks. These little guys saved the day this past weekend when my family hosted a BBQ. I made a batch for my vegan cousin and I – they’re delicious!    

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I served them with a side of organic ketchup and felt like I fit right in at the BBQ without sacrificing my normal eating habits.

I’m always looking for a way to sneak some more healthy foods into the mix. I get it, a BBQ is about relaxing, treating yourself, and spending time with family and good friends. That doesn’t mean you should totally kick your health to the curb though! Practice balance and moderation always. How about a whole wheat bun with that burger? Fresh fruit with whipped coconut or regular cream for dessert?

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I was perfectly content with these ancient grain yam nuggets. Moist, a little crunchy, and satisfying, these nuggets are sure to please the taste buds and the body! They’re loaded with beautiful, nutritious foods. Both freekeh and quinoa contain 6 grams of protein per serving, are low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates. Yams provide starchy carbs, choline, folate, and Vitamin A. Yay for healthy nuggets!

This was my first time making Freekeh, I think it fit well in these little patties but I’m looking forward to trying it on its own as well. Anyone know any good recipes?!

– Ingredients – 

2 yams/sweet potatoes

1/4 cup quinoa

1/4 cup freekeh

sea salt

black pepper

chili powder

garlic powder

– Recipe – 

1. Preheat the oven to 375º Fahrenheit. Wash and pierce yams and place them in the oven. Allow to cook for approximately 45 minutes or until tender.

2. Cook the quinoa and freekeh separately and according to package instructions. After cooked, pour the grains into a mixing bowl while you wait for the yams.

3. When finished cooking, immediately slice open the yams and scoop out the orange flesh. Add this to the quinoa and freekeh mixture and use a fork to mash and combine.

4. Add in the sea salt, black pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder. I did about 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder and 1 tsp chili powder. I usually just season and taste as I go.

5. Wipe / spray a baking sheet with a little olive oil. Use a tablespoon to portion the mixture and form into balls. Press the yam ball down lightly once on the pan to form the patty/nugget shape. Once all the nuggets are on the pan (I got about 16-20) lightly brush each one with olive oil.

6. Bake at 375º Fahrenheit for 20 – 25 minutes. Let them cool and enjoy! Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight if eating the next day.