From Food

RECIPE: Homemade Coconut Milk (or Coconut Creamer) – Easy, Fast, GREAT for Dairy-Free Travelers!

This summer, I have been doing quite a bit of traveling. Starting off in beautiful Italy and then making my way to Latin America, I currently find myself in the middle of a legit jungle – monkeys howling and all – in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica.

Just hanging out off my balcony in Positano, Italy. Totally casual.

This tropical rainforest is amazing and refreshing, but also makes me miss a few small foodie preferences that have been a part of my daily routine for years.

Especially through the most recent experience living off-grid in an isolated, glorified tree house (thankfully with pretty impressive internet to benefit my online clients and me), I learned how to do without a number of American luxuries. These include everything from transportation (no car), no paved roads, no 24-hour convenience stores (or any stores within two miles), and no access to anything from supplements to electronics to mail being reliably being delivered…

Cuddly kittens and warm weather make everything better.

It also includes not being able to find carton-style coconut milk – never mind coconut creamer for coffee. And if you didn’t know, Costa Rica is known for its amazing coffee.

Needless to say, I’m not a milk drinker and never really have been. Anytime I’ve needed a “milk” for something, I’ve opted for the almond or coconut substitution. (If you have my book The Grocery Store Tour Guide, you’re probably familiar with this suggestion.)

Considering the fact that mango, banana, papaya, AND coconut trees are everywhere in this tropical part of the world, I was somewhat surprised that I couldn’t find any carton coconut (or almond) milk near the home I am currently living in. There is one market down the mountain (over 2 miles away and a 90-minute steady walk thanks to the incline) that has one small almond milk carton option, which was unsurprisingly overpriced… and expired by six months.

Luckily, there is also a decently stocked chain supermercado in the nearest town that is accessible by a 20-minute bus ride (in addition to the nearly three mile walk to the bus stop) where I did find a higher quality carton of pure organic coconut cream… but still no sign of a reasonably priced carton coconut OR almond milk.

Did I mention I’m in the [captivating, relaxing, sometimes boring, always magical, yet very remote] jungle?

Here is what I did manage to find in the local market: canned coconut cream (and canned coconut milk).

And the good news for my fellow dairy-free, non-leche drinking people out there? To make homemade Coconut Milk (a comparable version to Silk or Almond Breeze brands that you can use for shakes, cereal, or to simply drink as is) AND/OR Coconut Creamer for coffee or tea, all you need is a can or carton of coconut cream (a second option could be canned coconut milk), water, and a pour-able container to keep it in.

That’s it.

Fun fact: if you read the ingredients on a carton of the aforementioned popular American brands of coconut milk, you will see that they are mainly filtered water and coconut cream (with some added preservatives and vitamins)… which is exactly what’s happening here!

Of course I tend to get a little fancy and doctor things up, so I added a little bit of vanilla extract and a few stevia drops (which I obviously brought with me from the States) to make it taste just like slightly sweetened, cartoned vanilla coconut milk.

Whisking in a small amount of natural thickener such as xantham gum, guar gum, or gellan gum (if you can access it where you are) will lend a slightly thicker consistency that mimics store-bought Coconut Creamer even more – but the thinner, milkier version that results from this recipe suits my needs just fine. :)

And cost wise? One can of coconut cream cost me about 1500 colones (around $3 USD) and is enough for TWO to THREE GALLONS of drinkable coconut milk or creamer. One HALF gallon of Silk brand coconut milk typically costs $3-5 USD anywhere in the world that I’ve been, so this recipe is a very budget-friendly one that is well worth trying no matter where you are!

To prepare, you can whisk everything together or blend it in a blender. Then just pour into your chosen container like this perfect one I found on Amazon. It’s important to remember to keep it refrigerated and shake it up well before using each time since it does slightly separate (adding the thickening gum does help keep it more consistently smooth).

I mainly use this as a “creamer” for my coffee, but it would also make a great milk replacement for any of your milky needs.

Here’s the crazy simple recipe :) Enjoy!

Homemade Coconut Milk or Coffee Creamer

  • 14 C. coconut cream (ingredients should be only 100% coconut cream, if possible) OR 12 C. canned coconut milk (full fat, not “light”)  – shake cans well before opening
  • Slightly less than a 12 gallon of chilled, filtered water
  • Small pinch of sea salt
  • Optional (for vanilla flavor): 12 to 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Optional (for sweetness): Stevia drops to taste OR 1 Tbsp. cane sugar liquified in a small amount of warm water OR 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • Optional (for chocolate flavored): 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Optional (for coffee flavored): 2 Tbsp. instant coffee granules liquified in a small amount of hot water
  • Optional (for thickness): 12 tsp. guar gum, xanthan gum, or gellan gum

Directions

  1. Put coconut cream or milk, chilled water, sea salt, and your optional ingredients of choice in a blender and blend on low until all incorporated, about 1-2 minutes (you can also whisk very well in a large bowl).
  2. Carefully pour into your milk jug or container.
  3. Refrigerate (shaking well before each use) and enjoy as a milk or creamer! It should be good for about two weeks, though mine never lasts that long. Yum!

*If it doesn’t turn out “milky” enough for you, simply add more coconut cream by the teaspoon (or coconut milk by the tablespoon) until your desired flavor and consistency is reached. To make it thicker and creamier, add in more thickening gum by the one-eighth of a teaspoon and blend well after each addition.

*You can freeze your remaining coconut cream/milk in a separate container for future use.

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RECIPE: How to Make HIGH PROTEIN PLANT BASED ICE CREAM – Vegan / Gluten Free / Nice Cream / Chocolate Lovers

I absolutely love this rich, chocolate “nice” cream and make it on the regular. It is not only easy and delicious, but the extra love from the legit hard chocolate shell topping really make it over the top.

ICE CREAM

This filling and flavorful dessert also happens to be a completely plant-based source of HIGH protein with over 30 grams in this recipe!  Plus, it’s great for any time of day: pre-workout, post-workout, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Shoot, even dessert after a big ol’ salad.

Watch the video here, recipe is below:

EASY, RICH, CHOCOLATE “NICE” CREAM

Ingredients:

1 cup Frozen Blueberries

2 Ripe Bananas, sliced and frozen solid

1-2 Tbsp High-Quality Cocoa Powder (like my favorite: Pernigotti Cocoa)

1 Scoop Plant Based Protein Powder (recommend: RawFusion Plant-Based Protein)

Generous Sprinkle of Ground Cinnamon

Small splash of Balsamic Vinegar

About a quarter to a third cup of Unsweetened Almond Milk (for desired consistency)

Directions:

  • Put the ingredients, in the order shown, into a high powder blender or food processor. Blend until all incorporated. Add more almond milk for desired consistency. Blend until smooth. Pour into bowl and set in freezer for 15-20 minutes.

To make the HARD CHOCOLATE SHELL COATING:

In a small bowl, mix: ½ Tbsp. melted coconut oil, 4-5 drops Liquid Stevia, a scant teaspoon high-quality cocoa powder, and a pinch of salt. Mix until smooth.

  • Take the bowl of ice cream out of the freezer and pour the chocolate shell coating mixture all over the top, using a spatula to get every last bit. It will harden in seconds.
  • Top your “nice” cream with something crunchy, like hemp hearts, chopped nuts, or sesame seeds.
  • Enjoy! :)

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Find more recipes and smart food-shopping tips in my Grocery Store Tour Guide!

RECIPE: How to Make the BEST Banana Pancakes – Vegan / Easy / Single-Serving / Gluten Free

This is one of my GO-TO recipes for the easiest, most delicious, minimal-ingredient Banana Pancakes ever…

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I have this almost every morning with my “moon egg” (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this video: https://youtu.be/pNkGUw9HPNE).

These Banana Pancakes are not only moist and delicious, but also happen to be vegan, gluten free, and sugar free (for you fans of the “free’s” out there) while being very fiber- and nutrient-rich. Not to mention, crazy flavorful!

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE, FULL RECIPE IS BELOW:

 
SINGLE-SERVING BANANA PANCAKES

Ingredients:

A Splash of Apple Cider Vinegar (about 2 tsp.)

½ cup Unsweetened Almond Milk to start (have more on hand to get batter consistency)

A small splash of Pure Vanilla Extract (about ½ tsp.)

4-5 drops of Liquid Stevia (to taste)

½ of One Large, Ripe Banana (make sure it is spotty with brown and NOT green or all yellow)

1 Tbsp. Chia or Flaxseeds (or one packet of this Flax Chia Blend by Carrington Farms)

½ cup Quick Cooking Oats, pulsed in a blender or food processor to be semi-ground

½ tsp. Baking Powder

Generous sprinkle of Ground Cinnamon

A pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS

  • Get out a 2-cup Liquid measuring cup, like this one I use in the video and a mini-spatula or fork. Put all of the liquid ingredients in the measuring cup (measuring as you go), stir, and let sit for a few minutes.
  • Take half of the banana and break it apart with your fingers as you add to the liquid ingredients. Then take a fork and mash/mix it in until larger chunks are gone.
  • Add in all dry ingredients, mixing well. Add more almond milk (typically ¼ to of a cup) until it is more of a moderate batter consistency – not too thin, but not thick. Allow the batter to thicken by letting it sit ~5-10 minutes.
  • Preheat stove top to medium heat (I typically go to level 4). Once pan is heated, spray pan with coconut oil spray. Give batter a quick stir and pour in about ¼ cup per pancake.
  • Set a timer for 3 minutes, then flip. Pancakes should be a light golden brown. Let other side cook another 3 minutes.
  • This makes 4-6 pancakes depending on your size. I like to pour a little maple syrup on the side and dip them, but you can also stack ’em up pretty and pour maple syrup on top! Feel free to slice up the other half of your banana to top them off, too!
  • ENJOY (I know you will… they’re amazing) :)

bananapancakes


Find more recipes and smart food-shopping tips in my Grocery Store Tour Guide!

 

Healing Magic Panda Soup – Delicious & Satisfying Hug in a Bowl (RECIPE)

*This recipe is featured as a BONUS RECIPE in The Grocery Store Tour Guide & Nutritional Workbook, available HERE

Are you a soup person? Me neither. Or, at least I wasn’t before coming up with this amazingly magical and ridiculously simple recipe this a few winter ago.

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There is something so wonderful, comforting, filling, and peaceful about this soup. It is the perfect amount of sweet and savory, not too broth-y with a touch of bite, and completely enjoyable regardless to which diet or lifestyle you are following (unless you are allergic to any of the minimal ingredients, of course).

It proves to be the perfect side dish- complementing any salad, sandwich, main course, crusty bread, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It can even suffice as its own full-meal show. Additionally, it can act an amazing base recipe for whatever additions your heart desires; from greens to corn, veggies to grains, and meat to tofu.

Whether you are Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, counting points, raw ‘til 4, or have never particularly liked soup before, I am confident that you will love this Sweet Panda Soup as much my family, friends, and I do. Winter has long past as we now experience scorching summer days, yet this is still a staple in my kitchen for winding down in the evenings (and is surprisingly delicious cold, too)!

Not to mention, Healing Magic Panda Soup packs a punch in maintaining or improving your health by providing nutrient-rich hydration, anti-inflammatory compounds, natural fiber, and vitamin B-12. If you are hypoglycemic, it may even help to balance blood sugar levels.

Another bonus that others have found and that I can vouch for myself? It not only fills you up, but can also help keep any late-night cravings at bay.

With no further ado, here is my recipe for Healing Magic Panda Soup.

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HEALING MAGIC PANDA SOUP

Single-Serving Ingredients *use organic, if possible

1 (medium to large) Sweet Vidalia Onion, chopped

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

1 ½ Cups (or about two-thirds of your favorite bowl-full) of Organic, Low-Sodium Vegetable or Chicken Stock

A large pinch of Freshly Ground Sea Salt (I use Pink Himalayan)

A large pinch of Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 tsp. Dried Thyme (or 1 tsp. fresh Thyme leaves, chopped)

¼ tsp. (or a modest sprinkle) All Spice

1 heaping tsp. sugar of choice (coconut, organic cane, honey) or 2 drops of liquid stevia

Optional, but recommended: 1 Tbsp. Nutritional Yeast flakes

Optional: 1 tsp. Dried (or chopped fresh) Parsley

Directions (Photos Below CROCK-POT VERSION)

  • Preheat a medium to large pan on stove at medium-high.
  • Put in coconut oil, chopped onions, and salt. Cover and let cook, stirring around every 5 minutes or so, until onions are translucent and beginning to caramelize into a light brown (about 20 minutes).
  • Add in garlic and let saute with onions for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. *Always avoid burning or browning garlic, as it may cause bitterness in the dish.
  • Add in balsamic vinegar, pepper, thyme, all spice, sugar/stevia, and stock. Bring to a simmer before turning heat down to medium-low. Cover and let cook another 5-10 minutes until flavors marry.
  • Pour in your favorite bowl; sprinkle the top with Nutritional Yeast flakes and parsley… Enjoy!
CROCK-POT VERSION

Ingredients (makes 8-12 servings) *use organic, if possible

6-8 (medium to large) Sweet Vidalia Onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1-2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

¼ Cup Balsamic Vinegar

2 ½ to 3 (32 oz) Cartons of Organic, Low-Sodium Vegetable or Chicken Stock

3 good pinches of Freshly Ground Sea Salt

3 good pinches of Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 heaping Tbsp. Dried Thyme

½ tsp. (or a good sprinkle) All Spice

1 Tbsp. sugar of choice (coconut, organic cane, honey) or 4 drops of liquid stevia

1 Tbsp. Nutritional Yeast flakes (per bowl)

1 tsp. Dried (or chopped fresh) Parsley (per bowl)

Directions

  • Set Crock-Pot to HIGH and drizzle half of your coconut oil at the bottom.
  • Put in half the onions and sprinkle salt. Drizzle the rest of your coconut oil and put in the remaining onions, garlic, thyme, pepper, all spice, and salt. Stir around and cover.
  • Let onions cook and caramelize until they begin to sweat and turn a light brown (about 5-6 hours), opening to stir around once or twice in that time.
  • Add in stock, balsamic vinegar, and sugar/stevia. Stir well and cover again. Let cook for another 1-2 hours (up to 4) before serving it up in your favorite bowl with Nutritional Yeast flakes and a bit of parsley. Enjoy!

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Oh, and don’t worry. No pandas were harmed in the making of this glorious dish. I just happen to love pandas, and it only seemed fit that this amazing soup be named after something I adore just as much!

Classic Sweet Potato Casserole with a twist (RECIPE) – Dairy free, Vegan, Delicious!

Did you know that the delicious and sugary Thanksgiving dish we know and love – the sweet potato casserole with browned marshmallows on top – was created by the marshmallow lobby in the early 1900’s? (You can learn a little more here.)

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I know, that may slightly tear away some magic from this classic dish. But the fact is, so many popularized, American foods that aren’t actually nutritious or beneficial – such as marshmallows – have simply become what they are due to smart advertising. Instead of getting too into the psychology and economics involved in the food industry (and further crapping on anyone’s marshmallow-loving parade), let’s just learn a little bit about marshmallows and where they came from.

Originating in ancient Egypt, marshmallows were a honey-sweetened candy made using the sap from the marshmallow root plant. It was soft and chewy, and used medicinally for ailments like sore throats.

Fast forward a few hundred years to the 19th century, and the labor-intensive methods of extracting marshmallow root sap made manufacturers come up with new processes (and involve new ingredients) which brought us to how we know the marshmallow today – as a light, fluffy, campfire treat which also tops the holiday sweet potato casserole.

Today’s version of the confection no longer contains the source ingredient of it’s name – marshmallow root – but instead, it is made up of a stabilizing protein such as gelatin (or agar, in Vegan versions) and sucrose (often with high fructose corn syrup).

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That said, there is nothing wrong with incorporating the better quality versions of marshmallows when making this crowd-pleasing dish once or twice a year. I use Dandies mini marshmallows, which contain no corn syrup, no gelatin, and no genetically modified ingredients. And, yes, they taste EXACTLY like your classic, name brand marshmallows – if not better.

As for the secret ingredient that gives this casserole a twist? Well, that would be mango juice of course.

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Most “classic” recipes call for heavy cream, which is meant to contribute creamy richness. It doesn’t really alter the flavor, but it does bring in a LOT of unnecessary fat and calories. You won’t find heavy cream or ANY dairy within this recipe, which has been a hit at many-a-holiday-dinner time and time again.

A Helpful Hint: If you choose go to back to your traditional sweet potato casserole recipe after trying this one (dare I say, doubtful?) try substituting canned coconut milk for your heavy cream. Though it will not lessen the overall calories or fat content, it will maintain the same creamy consistency and add a complimentary touch of flavor. All while being more plant-based friendly and allergen free.

If you just want to make a great sweet potato mash, you can stop before step 4 below and enjoy as is. It is just as delicious (and plenty sweet) without the marshmallow topping!

Sometimes the deliciousness can't wait for a photo opp, as shown here.
Sometimes the deliciousness can’t wait for a photo opp, as proven by the devoured portion above.

CLASSIC SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE RECIPE (with a twist)

  • 3 lbs Sweet Potatoes (about 4 large or 5 medium spuds)
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mango juice/nectar *I’m sure pineapple or orange juice would work, too… but try to find mango!
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut sugar or light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped
  • Half a bag (5 oz.) of quality marshmallows *I use homemade, locally made, or Dandies mini-marshmallows
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and line a baking sheet with tin foil.
  2. Wash the sweet potatoes in the sink and pat dry. Pierce the tops of the potatoes with a fork, 2-3 times, before placing (holes up) on the baking sheet. Put in the oven for about 45-55 minutes, until sweet potatoes are fork tender and syrup begins to ooze out from the holes. Remove from oven and let cool until they aren’t too hot to be handled (usually 15-20 minutes).
  3. Lower the oven to 375 degrees F. Grab your 8×8 glass baking dish (metal is fine too, I’m sure – and 9×9 would also work). Peel the potatoes, putting the yummy orange flesh straight into the baking dish. Mash well with a potato masher or large fork. Add the vanilla extract, mango juice, sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt. Mash and mix together until all incorporated.
  4. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to even out top of the mash. Sprinkle the chopped pecans evenly all over the surface. Then do the same with the marshmallows.
  5. Place on center rack in oven and bake at 375 degrees F for about 25 minutes, or until marshmallows begin to turn golden brown. Remove, let cool slightly, and enjoy!

*You can also make the dish ahead of time. Simply cover the mash in the baking dish after step 3 and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When ready to bake, remove from fridge for about 20 minutes to take the chill off and preheat the oven. Then add pecans and marshmallows, and bake as instructed above!

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Impromptu dinner paparazzi – starring the BEST sweet potato casserole!

Sweet Potato Soup: Easy, satiating, and delicious! (RECIPE)

‘Tis the season for warm and inviting soups.

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If you’re looking for a flavorful and easy meal – or a nutrient-rich accompaniment to any meal – this rich and creamy sweet potato soup is sure to do the trick. With the sweetness from roasted sweet potatoes and a surprising little kick thanks to fresh ginger root, this takes very minimal prep time and will make you a batch big enough to last a week.

Okay, in my house it’s more like a few days, but you get the idea.

It’s also whole food and plant-based (vegan), Paleo (if you indulge in the tubers), and gluten-free for those with sensitivities. Sugar-free, Low-sodium, blah blah benefits, benefits, benefits, free this, free that… Basically, unless you’re not into nightshades or onions or garlic, this recipe is perfect parts of magic for everyone.

Soups are so satisfying. It is the perfect meal if you’re craving something savory and filling, but aren’t a fan of feeling weighed down after eating. Plus, soups like this are incredibly inexpensive to put together. If you’re a single college student or a part of a monster household, it’s a lot of bang for your buck – financially and nutritionally.

There is virtually no fat in this recipe, it’s high fiber, and drowning in beneficial nutrients to make your mind and body all kinds of happy. You can eat it alone, aside a sandwich, aside a salad, with sprouts on top, as a different kind of salad dressing, tossed with other veggies or pasta, or drink it warm out of a mug. Ver-soup-tility, for the win!

Enough talk. Recipe time!

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SUPER SWEET POTATO SOUP

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • Half a large sweet (yellow) onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 inches fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half (optional, but recommended! Use 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon otherwise)
  • 1 carton (4 cups) low-sodium, organic vegetable or chicken stock
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • Additional water, if needed

Preheat oven to 425 F. Scrub potatoes and poke holes on top of each with a fork. Place on a tin-foiled cookie sheet or baking dish and place in oven for about 45 minutes or until knife tender and syrup begins bubbling through fork holes.

While the potatoes are in the oven, heat a large saute pan on the stove at about medium to medium-high heat.  Warm & melt coconut oil. Add in onion, celery, carrots, and ginger, and stir to mix and coat in oil. Add some salt & pepper.

Once onions are translucent and carrots and celery soften, add in garlic and saute a couple of more minutes (don’t let garlic get burned or too dark, it will result in a bitter taste). Add in about one cup of the vegetable or chicken stock and the cinnamon stick or ground cinnamon. Turn heat down to medium-low and let simmer. Add a little bit more salt & pepper.

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By this time, the ‘taters should be done in the oven. Take them out and let them cool a bit. Carefully cut a slit through the skin to help them cool down faster. Once they’re cool enough to handle, remove the skin and chop roughly.

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Add the potatoes to the saute pan and pour in the rest of the vegetable or chicken stock. Bring the mixture back up to a simmer and cover. Let simmer for about 5-6 minutes. If you have a potato masher, you can also gently mash them up in the saute pan. Add a little bit of salt & pepper.

Remove the cinnamon sticks and transfer the almost-soup from the saute pan into a high speed blender or food processor, and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add water until consistency you like is reached.

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If you’re not eating it right away, pour the soup into containers and let cool before refrigerating. Otherwise, pour the now smooth-n-creamy soup back into the sauce pan and let simmer a couple of minutes before serving. Hint: It’s great with broccoli sprouts and/or sliced almonds on top.

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ENJOY!

Addictive Roasted Brussels Sprouts (RECIPE) – only THREE ingredients!

Brussels Sprouts are amazing. They are nutritious, all kinds of bite-sized cute, and incredibly versatile.

Versatile, indeed. And, yes, these are the actual sprouts used in today’s recipe. Because multitask (and pigtails).

I’m not going to go into some story-time shpeel before sharing this recipe. It is so delicious and so easy that I am sparing you any pre-recipe childhood memory or suspenseful read before I share the goods. I also like typing out Brussels Sprouts like it’s someone’s proper name. The cuteness wins over being grammatically correct.

Brussels Sprouts are nutritious, with tons of vitamins, minerals, and fiber – but many people miss out because, well, how do you make them tasty? Steam them and they will likely turn into mush, making you feel like you’re eating baby food. Same goes for boiling. Pan-fry them and you may get a crisp outside, but likely a still-raw-ish inside.

People either love cruciferous veggies (like Brussels Sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower) or they don’t. I don’t care what your preference is. If you try this recipe, which has only THREE main ingredients, it will blow your previously-Brussels-Sprout-hating mind.

Get ready for some yummy, candied cruciferous nuggets you will find yourself eating like popcorn.

20151018_160158Brussels Sprouts for dayssssssssss…

 

SWEET, MAPLE-ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUT POPPERS

You will need:

1-2 stalks of Brussels Sprouts, for best flavor (or enough Brussels Sprouts to cover a large, rimmed baking sheet)

1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 Cup high-quality, pure maple syrup

Salt & Pepper (to taste, preferably fresh ground)

Easy-peezy Directions:

  1.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2.  Rinse Brussels Sprouts well. If cutting from stalk (as I did for this recipe), rinse sprouts on stalk before cutting. Then proceed to *cut the sprouts off the stalk, halve them, and I also suggest cutting out a bit of the thick stem part from the base to prevent any bitterness once they are cooked. To do this, cut out a “V” of the firm white “heart” that would have been the base of the Brussels Sprout (you can peep this in the photos). Collect all your sprouts in a large bowl after the cutting.
  3. In a liquid measuring cup, pour in olive oil and maple syrup (measuring as you pour… win-win for less dirty dishes) and whisk well. Pour all over the Brussels Sprouts in the bowl and mix around until they are all coated.
  4. Pour the sprouts on your large, rimmed baking sheet. Season well with salt and pepper (I suggest freshly ground Himalayan Sea Salt & black pepper). Give another quick toss, and add a touch more salt and pepper. Sprouts should be in a single layer on the sheet, for even cooking.
  5. Place in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, making sure to toss half-way through the cooking time to get everything evenly roasted. Sprouts are done when most have a dark brown, crisp outer leaf and the larger ones are fork tender.
  6. Enjoy your insanely delicious cruciferous candy. Eat them as a side dish, pop ’em as a lone snack, mix them into a creamy soup (like my Simply Creamy Butternut Squash Soup), or share them with your veggie-loathing friends to convert them to the dark (leafy green) side.
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Withholding the excitement of such a winning recipe was 98% impossible, as proven by the blurriness (and the fork).

*Careful cutting those things off the stalks, especially if you are really excited and halfway paying attention… and just bought shining, new, sharp specialty knife from Costco. And your name is Jasmin. Yes, I nearly sliced my thumb clear off whilst preparing this recipe. However, the end result was clearly totally worth it.

Fun fact: Brussels Sprouts is commonly misspelled as “Brussel” Sprouts. Who’s guilty?

The BEST and Easiest Banana Pancake Recipe (using Manzano or “Apple” Bananas)

These amazing, healthy, easy-to-make pancakes were tweaked to perfection after about a week of making them daily… for dinner… because sometimes, week long pancakes-for-dinner-kicks just happen. And when they do, you just have to go with it.

Thank goodness I hopped on this nightly breakfast train, because by the end of the week I can hands-down say that I perfected this simple little recipe that I am now super excited to share!

It all started off with a little trip to one of the local Asian markets, where I always make sure to pick up at least one random fruit or veggie that I wouldn’t necessarily find in a typical grocery store.

Enter: These little guys…

Not my photo, but totally my little Asian banana find.
Not my photo, but totally my little Asian banana find.

When I got them from the store, they weren’t as yellow as the photo above (with some black spots and edges). As one who is well versed on the ideal ripeness of regular bananas, they seemed ready to enjoy! But, as I soon found out, these bananas were nothing like regular bananas (except appearing like a mini-version). They were not even close to ripe and actually closer to tasting like a starchy, rough, unpalatable banana fraud.

I then did some research and realized that these particular bananas are ripe when the peel is about black – similar to plantains. So, a week or so later, I tried another one. And I finally understood what others had said about these lil’ nanaz tasting like an apple and banana had a baby with a hint of strawberry. That is pretty much exactly what they taste like – and it’s amazing.

So, lessons to learn here:

  • Baby-looking bananas need to be black (or nearly black) to be the most palatable.
  • They are also “starchier” with more bite than regular bananas, even at their ripest.
  • They taste like an apple and banana had a baby, and that baby only eats strawberries.
  • Most importantly, they’re dang tasty and add the perfect non-mushy-yet-banana-licious texture and flavor to the world of banana pancakes.

Back story over, onto what matters: the recipe!

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The BEST and Easiest Banana Pancake Recipe

(using Manzano or “Apple” Bananas)

Ingredients:

4 manzano bananas (ripe and black), mashed – about 150g *You can use 2 regular bananas equaling the same amount, but this may result in less dense/mushier pancakes
1 egg (or flax substitute using a 1:3 Tbsp. ratio of ground flaxseeds to water) *if using regular bananas and flax substitute, do not add water and use 1 Tbsp. ground flaxseeds only
1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
Scant 1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. quinoa flour
1/2 scoop Rawfusion Protein Powder in Vanilla (or your favorite plant-based protein powder; using whey will change pancake consistency)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp (small splash) apple cider vinegar
Good pinch of salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Mix mashed bananas, egg/flax egg, vanilla extract, coconut oil, and cinnamon together.
  2. Add dry ingredients and apple cider vinegar, and whisk or mix until all incorporated.
  3. Grease skillet lightly at medium/slightly before medium heat (level 5 or 250 degrees).
  4. Spoon 1/4 cup or so of batter into pan and spread out eventually.
  5. Let cook 2-3 minutes until edges look dry and top just begins bubbling, flip and cook another 2 minutes.
  6. Stack up and enjoy! (Makes four 5-inch pancakes, or one serving)

These can also be frozen after cooled, and reheated in a toaster oven! Practical AND tasty!

Kale & Quinoa Bowl: Easiest, Filling, Nutritious Go-To Meal (RECIPE)

I introduce you to my latest obsession:

 

Nom nom nom....

 

 

You can’t really tell by the picture, but that bowl is HUGE and it’s holding 1 cup of cooked quinoa and 100g of chopped kale… along with an insanely delicious dressing that I will share below. This simple whole food duo is the perfect, delicious, filling, hearty base for so many different things – the list is nearly endless.

You can go savory, sweet, or spicy; you can add everything from more vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, or pumpkin – to fruits like chopped dates, figs, berries, or apples.

Another super bonus? If you’ve put yourself into a nutritional category box – I bet this fits into it. It’s all the “free’s” (Gluten-free, Dairy-free, nearly fat-free, egg-free) and all the “friendly’s” (Paleo-friendly, Vegetarian–friendly, Vegan-friendly, Carb-friendly, Allergen-friendly).

And when it comes to macro-nutrient ratios, this particular serving size has:

272 Calories

11g Protein

39g Carbs

5g Fat

7g Fiber

56g Sodium

Adding even more benefit? Both of these foods are incredibly nutrient dense in not only the macros above, but the micros such as: tons of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals ranging from B-vitamins to Vitamin E and zinc, body-loving fibers, and more.

Basically, quinoa and kale are soul mates in my book.

Like I said, there are ENDLESS directions this two-ingredient base can go; but let’s start with one of my favorites these days…

Creamy Southwest Spice Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • .5 to 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 heaping tsp Tahini (sesame seed butter, in Middle Eastern section of most markets)
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 2 tsp Mrs Dash salt-free Southwest Chipotle Seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt (I just fresh grind in to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Scant Tbsp Garlic Powder OR 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tsp Onion Powder OR 2 Tbsp minced red onion
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper (to taste… I like quite a bit)
  • Half a dropper of liquid Stevia, OR 1/2 Tbsp honey, OR 1 Tbsp Stevia in the Raw

Directions: Put it all in a bowl, whisk together, and toss with quinoa and kale…. That’s it. (Hint: make ahead of time by at least 30 minutes to let the flavors all soak up and merry. Nom!)

I always have a few cups of cooked quinoa in the fridge that I prepare in bulk in my rice cooker, one or two days a week. As for the kale, get 2-3 BIG handfuls, remove any stems (they tend to be a bit bitter sometimes), and chop up well before tossing.

Coming soon:

The True Health Trifecta Nutrition & Recipe Book:

Simple Salads, Soups, Sauces, & Dressings Edition!

This is turning out to be the perfect collection for everyone; from those beginning their health and fitness journey, to those well on their way and looking for new, EASY, healthy go-to meal ideas!

It will include TONS of crazy-easy yet healthy recipes like the one above; plus photos, nutritional facts & tips, kitchen & pantry basics and recommendations, my Macro-Nutrient Cheat Sheet, Pre- and Post- workout meal ideas, Soups, Salads, Dressings, and more!

Not to mention, unless you are allergic to a specific food, this book is EVERY-diet friendly! So whether you have put yourself in the Paleo box, Vegan category, High-carb-low-fat, Low-carb, Gluten-free, 80/10/10, intermittent fasting, carb-cycling… I purposefully made this a compilation of nutritious options that can be enjoyed by the majority of dietary lifestyles out there!

And, I know most people don’t have the time or interest to become the next Iron Chef in the kitchen… especially with the hustle and bustle of every day life. That’s why I made sure the recipes and tips in this book aren’t incredibly elaborate or time consuming. These are some simple basics to help anyone successfully achieve their goals without spending hours preparing and while getting in nutrient-dense foods that taste flipping amazing.

Can you tell how mega excited I am to be putting this together for you guys?! :)

Make sure to sign up for the newsletter and like the True Health Trifecta Facebook page for word on when it is available for sale in the shop! :)

Homemade, Healthy, EASY Doggy Treats! (RECIPE)

Meet Athena…

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She was less than 3 months old in the photos above, but recently came upon her **drum roll**  1st birthday! As much as I’d love to say this adorable furry creature is mine, she is the four-legged baby of one of my awesome local clients… but that doesn’t mean her birthday goes without a celebratory gift.

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Being the impulsive baker that I am, I took this opportunity to whip up some birthday treats (my first attempt at baking for the canine kind) that ended up turning out pretty amazing according to Athena’s reaction, shared here via her Mommy’s review:

Email Subject: Four out of four paws rating

“I put the A and W on a plate for her and she snatched up the A before I could get a pic! She took it in to the dining room, ate it in a flash, then went back for the W. After it was gone, she went back looking for more. But she’ll have to wait!

Thank you so much. That was extremely thoughtful of you. She LOVED them. Usually she sniffs a new treat a few times and mouths it a bit before eating it. Not yours. She ate them right up. She could tell right away they were awesome.”

 

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Nothing like having your culinary prowess validated by multiple species! WIN.

With a review like that and actually remembering the recipe due to it being so crazy simple, I definitely thought it was worth sharing with the vast population of doggy lovers out there. So, here you go!

Healthy, EASY PB-Sweet Potato Doggy Treats!

  • 2 ½ cups whole wheat or all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 jar of Sweet Potato baby food (ingredients should only be sweet potato + water)
  • 1 Tbsp Black Strap Molasses (or honey)
  • ¼ tsp salt (I used Pink Himalayan)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2-3 heaping Tbsp smooth Peanut Butter
  • Chicken Stock or Broth (or just water works!)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all of the above ingredients (except for the chicken stock/water) in a bowl until it’s all incorporated well.
  3. Add in chicken stock/water to get the desired consistency (it should be a somewhat “dry” dough that you can roll out… you honestly may not even need any extra liquid).
  4. Sprinkle a bit of flour on a flat surface and flop the dough over from the bowl.
  5. Roll it out to be about 1/2 inch thick, and use cool cookie cutters like these (or your free-hand shaping skills like I did!) to form the cookie shapes.
  6. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned on edges and a bit stiff.
  7. Take out and let cool on a cookie rack, or you can just turn the oven off and let them cool in there! (They will harden up a bit as they cool, getting that doggy biscuit kind of feel; so don’t worry if they seem soft when they are freshly done baking.)

Then again, I’m sure your doggy won’t mind one bit!

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Enjoy, Canine Friends!

P.S. If you try out this recipe, share it on Instagram or Facebook and use hashtag #TrueHealthTrifecta so I can see how yours turned out! ;)