Tagged plant-based

RECIPE: Cilantro Lime Rice & Beans (better than Chipotle!) – Easy, Plant-based dish!

Everyone loves Chipotle (right?) and their simple yet delicious spread of Tex-Mex goodness.

But… let’s be honest. Cost-wise, they make a killing charging what they do for some of the most affordable types of food around. Namely, rice ‘n beans (or arroz y frijoles).

Even if you do skimp on the guac (which, if so, who ARE you?) eating at places like Chipotle often can definitely put a dent in your finances.

So, allow me to bring to you my HOMEMADE CILANTRO LIME RICE & BEANS (that are better than Chipotle).

I love me some rice ‘n beans, as do most people I know. Especially while traveling through Latin America, where gallos pinto – the traditional rice ‘n beans dish – is typically served with breakfast.. AND lunch.. AND dinner at times… I grew to love them even more rather than get tired of them.

I love this dish so much that there are at least 5 different, flavorful rice ‘n beans recipes I plan to share here on the blog (as well as helpful tips and advice for anyone who plans on traveling or living in places like Costa Rica).

It all starts with the two [obvious] key ingredients…

Arroz.

Y frijoles.

Now, if you don’t have the kitchen blessing that is a rice cooker, you’re still good to go. You can use a saucepan on the stove top. Yes, this may be the easiest, better-tasting, restaurant-replica recipe you have ever made.

What kind of rice do you need? Whatever you have on hand. I had a blend of brown and white.

What kind of beans? Well, for this recipe, classic black beans. And yes, canned is just fine (though I’d recommend low or no-salt added to have better control of the sodium in your recipe).

Grab a handful of other ingredients – like fresh cilantro, onion, extra virgin olive oil, and lime – and you’re basically good to go.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm yas.

The bigger plus? This recipe makes at least 6-12 Chipotle portions if you get their rice bowl… and it costs less than one or two orders.

By the way, you can find an amazing tex-mex bowl recipe (along with tons of helpful info) in one of my best-selling books, the grocery store tour guide, which is also available as an ebook!

Without further ado – here it is! Try it out, share, and let me know what you think :)


CILANTRO LIME RICE & BEANS (makes around 6 cooked cups)

  • 2 cups brown and/or white rice (before cooking) *cook according to packaging or using leftover rice is fine!
  • Half a large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 (~8 oz.) can of Black Beans (preferably organic and low or no sodium to better control salt content), drained and rinsed
  • 1 small bushel of fresh cilantro, leaves picked and chopped (about 1/3 cup chopped)
  • The juice from one lime
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt (or more, to taste preference)
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper (or according to taste)

Directions

  1. Cook rice according to package or use leftover rice. Two uncooked cups yields 4.5 to 6 cooked cups.
  2. In a fairly large saute pan heated at medium to high, saute onions in olive oil until fragrant and softened (about 2-3 minutes). Add rice and stir, letting cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add black beans, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir to all incorporate. Lower heat to higher “low” spectrum, cover the pan, and let flavors marry for 3-4 minutes. You can also add 1/4 cup or so of water before covering, especially if the rice was leftover. This will add more moisture while cooking.
  4. Uncover and remove from heat. Stir in lime juice and cilantro, then taste and add more salt if necessary. Stir again and then ENJOY! :)

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: The BEST Cranberry Sauce (with a twist!) – Healthy, Vegan, Gluten Free

The holidays are upon us! A time for festive decoration, plenty of social events with coworkers, friends, and family, and a plethora of seasonal food favorites to enjoy.

If you’ve visited this blog before (or are subscribed to my YouTube channel), you have already gotten a taste for some of my go-to recipes for this time of year like:

I recently realized that the popular side dish and condiment, Cranberry Sauce, was missing from my growing arsenal of holiday recipes! So, now is the time to fix that.

Not only is the following recipe incredibly easy and with minimal ingredients, but it has an extra twist of flavor thanks to the mango juice, spices, and alternate sugar (like coconut). Plus, including apples and pears bumps up the nutritional value by increasing the vitamins, fiber, and flavonols to make your body one happy machine.

 

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Whatever you do – I beg you – never, ever choose those processed tin jars filled with a solid cylinder of cranberry jam. Then again, I can assure you that once you make this recipe you will never want to go back.

Without further ado, here’s this simple and amazing recipe! Try it out and let me know what you think… and feel free to share the link with others, too :)

 


The BEST Cranberry Sauce… with a twist!

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups coconut sugar, light brown sugar, and/or cane sugar (I will usually use a third of each or whatever I have on hand)
  • 16 oz fresh cranberries (two 8-oz bags)
  • One Fuji apple, peeled and chopped
  • One Bartlett pear (slightly ripe), peeled and chopped
  • One cup mango nectar or juice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg or allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Rinse and drain cranberries. Measure out the mango juice.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring cranberries, sugar, and mango nectar to a boil on high heat. Cranberries should begin to pop and coagulate with the liquid.
  3. Lower heat and let simmer for 10 minutes before adding chopped apple and pear. Also add spices.
  4. Let simmer together another 5 minutes or so, until all incorporated (but apple and pear should maintain their form and not mush up).
  5. Serve warm or let cool and refrigerate overnight if you prefer serving cold cranberry jam… It’s delicious both ways! This will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for a week, though I’ve never had it last longer than a few days :)

Steps in Photos

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ENJOY!

 

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!

Rich, Delicious Pumpkin Cheesecake (RECIPE) – Easy, no bake, dairy-free, vegan!

This is one of my go-to recipes when it comes to last minute requests for dessert, which is exactly what happened on Christmas this year. I was asked to bring a dessert the night before the big day – well after all the grocery stores were closed. Seeing as I normally have all of the ingredients on hand that are needed to put this Pumpkin Cheesecake together, it was easy breezy.

Too delicious to set up for a food photo shoot. Paper plate it is.
Too delicious to set up for a food photo shoot. Paper plate it is.

This dessert turns out super rich, indulgent, creamy, and cheesecake-y… despite not having any dairy whatsoever. Unless you let everyone know this is a plant-based dish, no one will guess that cashews are the “cheese” up in this cake. Not to mention, there are virtually no dirty dishes, give or take a few measuring utensils, because everything goes straight into the blender with no bowls or mixing necessary. It’s also fast to prepare since all you do is blend for a couple of minutes until it becomes nice and creamy.

The hard part is the waiting time for this to set, which still isn’t even that bad at only an hour or two.

Yaaaas this Pumpkin Cheesecake deserves a porcelain plate. But taste > aesthetics.
Yaaaas this Pumpkin Cheesecake deserves a porcelain plate. But taste > aesthetics.

All that said, it’s important to remember this is still an indulgent dessert. Just because it is made with more nutritious and quality ingredients than any store bought (or even traditionally made) cheesecake, doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all to have a handful of giant slices and nudge it off as okay since it’s “healthy“. I mention this because whenever I concoct any food things – whether it is a main dish, appetizer, dessert, drink, anything – I noticed many people assume it is a “healthier” or “lighter” version and, therefore, it’s okay to overindulge. This isn’t the case, as the macro-nutrients (namely, fat and sugar) do still add up which means that sometimes my versions aren’t necessarily lower-calorie versions. They’re just better quality options than others.

Treat any dessert like dessert, and any main dish as a main dish. Eat until your just about satisfied and avoid stuffing yourself. Treat this Pumpkin Cheesecake like you’d treat any special dessert or high-fat-high-sugar treat. (Hint: That means it may be best for your waistline to keep this recipe in your arsenal for potlucks or special date nights. Once you taste it, you’ll see why… It’s really freaking good and tough not to eat the whole thing yourself!)

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High quality ingredients does NOT always equal lower calorie treats!

Now, get to makin’… and make sure you enjoy each bite!

EASY, DELICIOUS PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE

For the filling:

  • 2 cups raw cashews (soaked in cool water overnight, or use boiled water and quick-soak for an hour)
  • ½ cup 100% pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • Juice from one lemon (about 3 Tbsp)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Scant ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • A good pinch of salt
  • tsp. Chinese five-spice powder *this is my secret addition for pumpkin pie, too! Adds a touch of special!
  • Optional: ¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted (to sprinkle on top when serving)
  1. Place all of the above ingredients (except coconut flakes) in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour the creamy filling into a prepared graham-style pie crust, or into a raw crust (recipe below).
  3. Place in the freezer for ~2 hours or until solid.
  4. To serve, remove from freezer and let thaw enough to cut through (about 20 minutes before serving). To avoid the cheesecake from getting too soft, don’t leave out for more than an hour and keep any uneaten portion stored in freezer (it may get too soft in fridge). This will easily keep in the freezer for up to a month, I imagine… Though it’s never lasted more than a week at my house!
  5. ENJOY! :)

NO-BAKE, RAW PIE CRUST RECIPE

  • 1 cup raw almonds (or 1 1/4 cup almond flour) *Pecans would be great, too!
  • 1 cup of packed, pitted Medjool dates (about 15 medium sized dates)
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/16 tsp ground ginger
  • Needed: A spring form pan, if possible, Otherwise a pie dish or even 8×8 baking dish works.
  1. If using a spring form pan, line the bottom with parchment or wax paper (and cut into a circle).
  2. If using whole almonds, place them in a food processor and grind until it becomes a coarse flour (photo below). *If you’re using the almond flour, skip to next step.
  3. Remove ground almonds from food processor and set aside in a bowl.
  4. Place dates in food processor and process until they soften and one big sticky ball forms (photo below).
  5. Add ground almonds back in with salt, cinnamon, and ginger, and continue processing until the texture becomes small crumbles that easily stick together when you press them between your fingers.
  6. Pour the crust mixture into the spring form pan (or pie dish, or baking dish), and press down with your fingers until it covers the entire area (photo below). *Wet your fingers with a little bit of water if you find it’s too sticky.
  7. Pour in your favorite pie filling (like the Pumpkin Cheesecake above) and you’re good to go!
Line your spring form pan…

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Grind up those almonds…

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Process the dates until a ball forms…

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Add ground almonds back in and process to reach this consistency…

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Press crust into bottom of pan…

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Pour in the pumpkin cheesecake filling and smooth with the back of a spatula…

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let set, cut, serve, and enjoy! :)

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EASY, Go-To Protein Shake Recipes!

Common Question: How do I USE protein powder?

Depending on the type of protein powder (for the sake of simplicity, I will refer to the two more common comparisons: whey and plant-based), there is little difference when it comes to actual preparation and ways to enjoy.

Compared to whey, plant-based protein (like my favorite: RawFusion), tends to act more like a ‘flour’ when mixed or baked into different things. It is a bit thicker, slightly harder to blend, and can even be made into a pudding quite easily (similar to casein protein for anyone familiar with Casein Fluff). Whey, however (especially whey isolate), tends to become more gummy and liquid-like and would not suffice in a pudding-type treat. Due to this, it does blend into liquids or other foods, like yogurt, much faster and easier.

So in the case of consistency, plant-based proteins = thicker like flour; whey proteins = easier to blend into liquid. Regardless, both are great for blended smoothies. And since most clients I have worked with are in need of a convenient way to use protein powder as opposed to becoming the next Master-of-Creative-Culinary-Uses-For-Protein (guilty, as proven by the video at the bottom of this post), I will share a couple of my favorite go-to protein smoothie ideas that are easy, delicious, and nutritionally-sound.

These are great any time of day: breakfast, an hour or so before your workout, after your workout, or literally any time. Sure, there are certain benefits timing-wise if you want to get more detailed with the science of nutrient absorption versus activity and a whole slew of other metabolic factors, but what ultimately matters is simply getting into the routine of having additional protein and feeding your body favorable nutrients in general. Trust me. Do not over-complicate things, especially with new routines. Focus on the grand scheme rather than minute details. Have your shake or smoothie where it fits best for you and your schedule.

Remember: it is best to start with small and simple habits!

Protein Mocha Frappuccino

  • 8-10 oz. unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 1 scoop Protein Powder of choice (or 2 for active men) *I use RawFusion
  • 1 Tbsp. Instant Coffee Granules
  • 1 Tbsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder *omit if you’re using Chocolate-Flavored Protein
  • 1 Handful of Ice
  • 1 Tbsp. Chia Seeds OR 2 Tbsp. Ground Flaxseed
  • Optional: 1 tsp. vanilla extract, or any extract of choice! Coconut, Mint, Orange, Banana.. tons of fun flavors out there! Be creative!

Blend in blender and enjoy!

Fruity Protein Smoothie

  • 8-10 oz. unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 1 scoop Protein Powder of choice (or 2 for active men) *I use RawFusion Vanilla
  • A big handful of raw spinach
  • 1 Cup Frozen Berries
  • 1 Tbsp. Nut Butter, Coconut Butter, Chia Seeds OR 2 Tbsp. Ground Flaxseed
  • Optional: 1 tsp. vanilla extract, or any extract of choice! Coconut, Orange, Banana… get creative!

 Blend in blender, sprinkle some cinnamon on top, and enjoy!

*For those seeking a trusty, inexpensive little blender, I always suggest this Hamilton Beach Single Serving Blender with Travel Lid. It is easy to find (sold at Wal-Mart or Amazon.com for $12-14), blends your shake smoothly, lasts FOREVER (I’ve had mine for over 6 years, plus check out these reviews), and is great to keep at work and/or at home.

The great thing about smoothies is that you CAN very easily adjust and get creative according to your taste! Make it a Veggie Smoothie by adding in some cucumbers, celery, spinachMake it an Apple Pie Smoothie by using vanilla protein, cinnamon, a chopped apple (or even organic apple sauce), and some walnutsMake a Pumpkin Pie Smoothie by using pumpkin puree, vanilla protein, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and some pecans… Don’t be scared to try new things! You’ll be surprised at some of the deliciousness you come up with.

For those who ARE open to becoming more creative with protein powder, try mixing it into some organic Greek Yogurt, or mixing it into cooked and cooled down oatmeal, or even making it into a pudding like I mentioned and using it as a dip or sweet cream sauce like I did in this recipe.

Want to get really fancy?

Check out this video recipe for Protein Marshmallows!

Coming soon: Recipes for both my easy, homemade chocolate bars and simple, sprouted grain “graham” crackers to use with the Protein Marshmallows for the delicious S’mores-From-Scratch as shown here…

Smores

Like I said, the possibilities really are endless! :)