Kale Me Maybe [recipe].

So…this weather. I can’t complain too much, considering how much the East coast has been dumped on with snow and freezing rain lately. When you East Coasters were huddled inside hoping the polar vortex would just leave, I was enjoying the sunshine and 60-degree weather with an iced tea in hand. Sorry not sorry, guys.

But now I feel for you. After a few glorious days of well-above-average temps for Colorado this time of year, we were graced by the presence of snow. Okay, like an inch or two at the most. But I was getting ready to store my sweaters and boots until next fall. Guess I’ll be keeping them around for a little while.

Whether you’re so over the snow, were shocked by a dusting of it after spring-like weather or you’re already sunbathing and wearing sandals, you’ll enjoy these kale chips. They’re inspired by Mexican hot chocolate, which is a fun spin on the classic winter drink. Recipes vary, but it basically involved cocoa powder, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Sweet and spicy is totally my thing, so I had to take these flavors and transform them into a magical coating for kale chips.

Of course, I made them raw vegan friendly. I started a raw challenge at the beginning of this month, and honestly, I don’t have any intentions of stopping once February has left. I feel so great with a diet based around raw veggies & fruits, nuts & seeds and fun superfoods. And hey, if I can make it through one of the coldest months of the year (though we’ve been pretty lucky here this year) eating fully raw, I can certainly do it into spring and summer!

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can certainly bake these kale chips. Personally, I prefer dehydrated kale chips as they stay perfectly crispy without any burned bits. Either way, kale me maybe and make these chips!

Sweet, spicy and crunchy!

Sweet, spicy and crunchy!

Mexican Hot Chocolate Kale Chips (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free, no added sugar)

  • 1 medium bunch curly kale
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I used 1/2 tsp because I like them spicy)
  • sprinkling cinnamon
  • stevia, to taste (if you want a sweet and spicy kale chip)
  • 2 tbsp expeller pressed extra virgin coconut oil
  • warm water, to thin

In a large bowl, mix cacao, cayenne, cinnamon, stevia and melted coconut oil until combined. Add in warm water slowly, until mixture is liquefied but somewhat thick. Rinse kale and tear into small pieces and place in bowl with spice mixture. Massage spice mixture into kale leaves and set aside for 20-30 minutes to marinate. Place kale on Teflex-lined dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 105-118 degrees for 2-3 hours, or until desired crispness. Store in airtight container.

Do you like spicy foods?

Recipe submitted to Raw Foods Thursdays.

Oxymoron Bagels [recipe].

Bagels. Oh bagels. Bagels and I have a love-hate relationship. See, I like the texture of bagels, how doughy and chewy they are, and they remind me of my childhood. When we’d go camping, sometimes my dad would drive into town and bring back a dozen bagels from Einstein and my family would eat them for breakfast and lunch. My favorite flavors back then were chocolate chip (that hasn’t changed) and asiago (hold the cheese, please). I haven’t had a donut in a good 3 or 4 years. Thinking about them now, they’re too carby and filling and most of them aren’t gluten free (and the ones that are probably aren’t that good, or are made with eggs). But sometimes, a girl’s gotta have a bagel. Spread with homemade cashew cheese, or dipped in peanut butter mixed with real maple syrup.

So how do I get my bagel fix now, as a health-conscious, clean eating, (mostly) gluten free vegan? Homemade GRAIN FREE bagels, of course!

Now, grain free bagels. That may seem like a bit of an oxymoron, amiright? I mean, bagels are all about the gluten, the carbs. How exactly does a grain free bagel work? Being completely honest, these aren’t exactly the same as those carby bagels you knew and loved, but they’re pretty darn close in texture for being made from coconut flour, and they taste amazing (especially warmed up) and best of all, they’re a lot more fiber-full and nutritious than those empty calorie cream-cheese-slathered bagels from bagel shops. And I’m more than happy to devour these, because they’re mini (so they’re a lot cuter–that’s just how things work) and I finally made a grain free vegan baked good that didn’t totally fail on me!

Awww look, mini bagels!

Awww look, mini bagels!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Raisin Bagels (vegan, gluten free, grain free)

  • 2-3 tbsp flax, ground
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4-1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1-2 tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tbsp melted extra virgin coconut oil
  • cinnamon, to taste (I used a lot!)
  • 2-4 tbsp raisins (I used a mix of raisins and chopped dates)
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and place foil or parchment paper on a baking sheet. In a food processor or stand mixer, process the ingredients from flax through almond milk until combined. Add in each remaining ingredient, one by one, until dough is formed. You may have to add a little more coconut flour or a little more liquid to get it to be the right consistency. It shouldn’t be too dry or too wet, but you should be able to form it into balls without it falling apart or being too sticky. Form dough into a large ball between your hands (you may have to wet your hands with a little coconut oil), divide the ball in half and divide each half into 4 separate, smaller balls. Roll each of the 8 balls in your hands, place them on the lined baking sheet and form each into a ring, pressing your thumb into the center of each to make a bagel hole. If the dough starts falling apart, use your fingers to reform the rings. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until bagels are starting to brown. Makes 8 bagels.

 

What is or was your favorite bagel flavor?

Addictive (and Healthy) Pasta

When you hear the word ‘pasta’, what comes to mind? Silky red sauce, creamy alfredo, maybe just garlic and butter. Most people don’t automatically think pasta is healthy, and usually it isn’t. Restaurants usually serve it in giant portions, usually made from white flour, and drenched in way too much sauce. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

What if I told you you could make a healthy AND tasty pasta dish from these ingredients: kelp noodles, butternut squash, cashews, nutritional yeast, spinach and hemp seeds? You’d probably tell me to step away from the kale chips–those don’t sound like pasta at all. I’m not completely crazy, though. I based my recipe off a similar one that also features squash and cashews as the sauce base, and there are plenty of squash-based pasta recipes floating around the blog world during squash season. I just made mine a bit more nutrient-dense by swapping out the grain-based pasta for noodles made from a nutritious sea veggie with the texture of angel hair pasta and adding some nutritional yeast to the sauce, as well as topping it with spinach and hemp seeds. The key is roasting the squash and soaking the cashews to get a super creamy and flavorful sauce without the cream. This is a truly healthy vegan comfort meal!

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Cheezy Butternut Noodles (vegan, gluten free, grain free)

  • 1/2 butternut squash, roasted
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4-1/3 cup cashews, soaked at least 3 hours
  • unsweetened almond milk, to thin
  • pink sea salt, to taste
  • spices, to taste (I used garlic & herb and cayenne pepper)
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper (optional, adds some heat)
  • 1/2 bag kelp noodles, soaked and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • handful spinach

In a blender or food processor (I used my Ninja food processor), pulse roasted squash, soaked cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, spices and pepper (if using) until combined. Add enough almond milk to thin the sauce to preferred consistency. Spoon 1/4 of the sauce over kelp noodles and warm in the microwave or on the stove. Top with hemp seeds and spinach. Makes 4-5 servings of sauce. 

What’s your favorite pasta sauce?

Stocking Your College Kitchen the Healthy Way

Fridge food.

Fridge food.

College doesn’t have to be about all-you-can-eat dining halls and weekends spent playing beer pong. In fact, it really shouldn’t be about either of those! Yes, it is possible AND easy to eat healthy as a busy college student–it’s all about stocking your kitchen right and prepping when you have time.

A lot of these tips are best for college students with an apartment and access to a kitchen because that’s my current situation, but if you’re a dorm-dweller you can still give these a try or keep them in mind for your first apartment experience.

Produce is the best thing you can spend your money on.

Produce is the best thing you can spend your money on.

Produce may be expensive but it’s one of the best investments you can make in your health. The best part is you can save money on it. Some stores discount their fruits and veggies when they’re about to go bad so you can get a ton of produce and save it for later. Or you can buy produce in season and freeze it it to have year round. Sprouts is my go to store for cheaper produce and they have organics at reasonable prices. Whole Foods is great for specialties and exotics and they’re not always outrageously priced.

Pantry staples.

Pantry staples.

Having plenty of nonperishables on hand is key to saving time and money.  Canned beans (no salt added, just beans and water), nut butters, plant-based protein powders,  dried fruit (no added sugars), no salt no oil microwave popcorn, spices, stevia, dried grains and legumes, tomato paste, coconut oil and almond meal are all things that I keep on hand most of the time. They’re all super simple to prepare and have ingredients I feel good about eating.  They also keep for awhile so they’re worth buying, and anyway,  they’re a lot cheaper than prepackaged stuff!

A typical college food gone healthy!

A typical college food gone healthy!

You can still indulge in college student favorites without compromising your healthy standards. I used to avoid most cereals because they were too sugary or had questionable additives, but once I discovered One Degree Organic Foods there was no turning back. They use sprouted grains (easier to digest than regular ones), coconut sugar (unrefined and low glycemic) and organic ingredients,  among other healthy business practices. Their cacao crisps are way better than cocoa Krispies!

You can still enjoy tthe sweet stuff without a sugar hangover.

You can still enjoy the sweet stuff without a sugar hangover.

If you know me at all, you know I have a MAJOR sweet tooth! But…refined sugar isn’t the best for you. That doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to desserts forever,  you just have to do them smarter. Dark chocolate (the darker the better), Larabars (I looove the chocolate chip ones and the cappuccino flavor), dates with coconut oil and fruit are what I rely on for daily desserts. For more more special occasions (aka the weekend), I make vegan and gluten free desserts made with honey or maple syrup,  oftentimes raw or protein packed and with whole foods ingredients. That way, I satisfy my desire for desserts without feeling bad later!

Eating healthy in college shouldn’t be expensive, boring or hard–just do your healthy eating homework ahead of time, shop smart, prep when you have time and enjoy what you’re making!