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.

Cake Pops for Your Valentine [recipe].

I like Valentine’s Day. There, I said it. No, I’m not currently in a relationship. Yes, single ladies can celebrate V Day too without being all bitter or hung up on their single-ness.

For me, it’s all about loving the people who are in my life. Friends. Family. Being single just means you can focus your love on those other people, and show them how much they really mean to you. Like for instance, I bought my sister a vegan chocolate donut from Whole Foods and I’m surprising her with it for breakfast tomorrow. It’s the little things like that that mean a lot more than a giant stuffed teddy bear or a cheap box of chocolates.

Then again, I also like Valentine’s Day because it means…more treats for me! Yes, I’m a little selfish but it’s true. I’m bad at sharing the foods I like because A) they tend to be a little expensive (cough cough, raw desserts) and B) did I mention I’m selfish?

If you like to share your food, then these cake pops are for you. A little bit cheesecake-y without the guilt, plenty of cherry and dark chocolate flavor to make them appropriate for Valentine’s Day…or any day, really. And if you don’t like to share–you’re in luck, too. Because that means more cake pops for you.

Someone went a little crazy on the Picmonkey filters...

Someone went a little crazy on the Picmonkey filters…

Cherry Cheesecake Cake Pops (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free, no added sugar)

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked 1-2 hours
  • 2 tbsp raw coconut flour
  • handful frozen or fresh pitted cherries
  • 1 pitted date
  • stevia, to taste (optional)
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

In a food processor, pulse soaked and drained cashews, coconut flour and date until combined and cakey in texture. Blend in cherries and stevia and set aside. In a small bowl, mix cacao, coconut oil and additional stevia until mixture is thinned. Roll cashew cherry mix into small balls and dip into raw cacao mix. Place balls in fridge or freezer for a few hours, and serve as cake balls in cupcake liners or poke with lollipop sticks or toothpicks for cake pops. Makes 10 small pops, ~50 calories for 2 pops.

Perfect for your Valentine...or for you!

Perfect for your Valentine…or for you!

What’s one food you don’t mind sharing with others? 

Recipe submitted to Raw Foods Thursday

Bacon for Raw Vegans? [recipe].

My carnivorous (seriously, she HATES veggies and many fruits too) sister is a bonafide bacon-lover. She and my dad are currently in Chicago as she auditions for musical theatre colleges and they’re planning on going to a bacon restaurant this week. A. Bacon. Restaurant. What is wrong with America that we glorify shameless, unhealthy meat eating to the point that there are restaurants with a bacon theme?

Getting off my soap box, I realize a lot of people like bacon. Vegetarians and vegans alike, even. If that weren’t true, there wouldn’t be so many faux bacon products out there. I used to eat them occasionally, not really to replicate bacon (because let’s be honest, those products don’t and also I have no desire to eat meat or its imitations) but just to get that flavor. I think it’s the salty, smoky, sweetness that makes people go gaga over bacon. So why can’t raw vegans enjoy this flavor combo too…in a healthier form?

Enter…coconut bacon! I’m definitely not the first to think of this (though I wish I was) but many recipes out there aren’t raw or quite as healthy as this one. I’ve got nothing against maple syrup (love the stuff, actually) but for the sake of staying raw and no-added-sugar, I nixed it for homemade date paste and dehydrated my ‘bacon’. I think I like it better dehydrated than baked, because it keeps the texture perfectly crunchy.

Homemade 'bacon', fresh from the dehydrator.

Homemade ‘bacon’, fresh from the dehydrator.

Coconut ‘Bacon’ (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free, no-added-sugar)

  • 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (can increase amount for more ‘bacon’)
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut aminos (can sub tamari for non-raw version)
  • few drops liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp date paste (soaked dates+a little water blended)

Mix aminos, liquid smoke and date paste in a bowl until combined. Add in coconut and stir until coconut is covered. Spread coconut flakes onto Teflex or parchment paper lined dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 118 degrees for 2-4 hours, or until coconut is crisp. Makes 1 cup.

BLA lettuce wraps with the coconut 'bacon'.

BLA lettuce wraps with the coconut ‘bacon’.

You can just eat the ‘bacon’ by the spoonful if you want, but it also makes a delicious addition to BLA (‘bacon’, lettuce and avocado) lettuce wraps, salads, sweet & salty desserts and basically anything that needs a little ‘bacon’!

Recipe submitted to Raw Food Thursdays

Have you ever tried non-meat alternatives to bacon? 

How to Love Lettuce Wraps

You know that eating salads is good for you, but what if you still can’t stomach them…or get bored after two weeks straight of salads for lunch?

Who said you had to have salads every day if you don’t like ’em? You can still get in your daily dose of greens by incorporating lettuce wraps into your day in place of (or in addition to) traditional green salads. You don’t have to be a creature habit to eat healthy, you just have to get creative!

  1. Choose the right wrapper. I personally love romaine hearts and green leaf lettuce, because both are sturdy wrappers and the perfect size for plenty of fillings. You can also do Swiss chard, kale, red leaf lettuce…the options are nearly endless. Just make sure your wrapper of choice can hold up to your fillings of choice and will roll up well if you’re taking them to-go.
  2. Pick your fillings. You can go with anything you love–staying on the healthy side, of course! Try to avoid ‘wet’ ingredients because they can soak through the lettuce and make things messy, but you can still make these work if you keep them light. You can go salty, spicy or sweet…just make sure you love what you’re stickin’ in there, or you won’t love your lettuce wraps.
  3. Try new things. One of the best lettuce wrap combos I’ve found is romaine+Medjool dates+coconut butter. Seriously. It sounds SO bizarre, but the flavors really mesh well together, and I love the contrast between the crunch of the lettuce and the gooeyness of the date. So give those weird-sounding flavor combos a try…you never know what’ll become your new favorite!
  4. Wrap it up. Add toppings, sauces, whatever and then devour. Or wrap ’em up tight, put in a Tupperware and take with you for lunch at school or work or on the bus. Lettuce wraps work really well as a quick lunch wherever you want to eat them–definitely less mess than a salad, and more fun to eat!
My latest favorite lettuce wrap variation: romaine heart filled with homemade sprouted wild rice salad, homemade spicy guacamole and hemp seeds.

My latest favorite lettuce wrap variation: romaine heart filled with homemade sprouted wild rice salad, homemade spicy guacamole and hemp seeds.

How do you enjoy lettuce wraps?

Spicy Raw Tacos [recipe].

What’s your go-to menu item at Chipotle? For me, it’s the vegetarian salad bowl with black beans, spicy salsa and tonnnnns of guacamole. I gotta admit though, that if Chipotle offered soft corn tortillas as a taco option, I’d be all over that. I LOVE tacos, because you can stuff them with all sorts of yummy stuff but they aren’t as ridiculously-sized as burritos. Especially the burritos at Chipotle. Those are the size of a small car.

vegan mofo

I know it’s not Taco Tuesday anymore, but these tacos are perfect for enjoying any night of the week, and they make great leftovers for lunch! The best part is, these are completely raw, vegan and grain free. I like wrapping the taco filling in romaine leaves and topping it with homemade avocado-cashew dressing, sauerkraut and red cabbage, but feel free to use a sprouted corn tortilla as the wrapper (it’ll still be raw) and switch up the toppings. These are way healthier than Chipotle’s tacos and P.S. way tastier too.

Image

Spicy Raw Tacos (vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free)

  • 1/2 cup almond meal (you can make your own, too!)
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked
  • 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh hot pepper (I used a Hatch chile pepper)
  • cayenne and garlic powder, to taste
  • pink sea salt, to taste (or regular sea salt)

In a blender or food processor (I used a Ninja chopper), process all ingredients for a few seconds, until roughly chopped and sticking together. Add more coconut oil or 1 tbsp of water if the mixture isn’t sticky enough to hold together. Serve in romaine lettuce leaves, sprouted corn tortillas or on top of a salad or flax crackers. Makes 2-3 small servings.

Recipe submitted to Healthy Vegan Friday #61.

Do you prefer tacos or burritos?