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Thanks for stopping by! I'm young, I'm in love with my man, and I'm a mommy. We're busy, but happy. I'll share with you how to eat natural, healthy, whole foods while balancing family life! Learn to love your food, it will love you back!
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Friday, August 31, 2012

Crock-Pot Vegetarian Lasagna



 Happy weekend to everyone! I've started adding a few new recipes to my crock-pot list like this fun little creation tonight! I know I called it lasagna, well that is because I had originally planned on using lasagna noodles. Unfortunately I was unable to find a whole grain or wheat lasagna noodle. It was all the enriched white pasta, so I opted for some whole grain penne.

Once again this is a very simple prep and comes out tasting great. I wanted to find a way to get the creamy cheesy feel back into a lasagna dish and I think this end result was really nice! There is plenty of wiggle room for this baby, add any vegetables you want and you will love it~


Vegetarian Lasagna
1 lb whole wheat pasta
1 can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
2 T basil
1 T Italian seasoning
1 T parsley
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 c nutritional yeast
2 BIG handfuls of spinach
12 oz silken tofu
1/4 c almond milk
Combine tofu, milk, garlic, lemon juice yeast and 1 T of basil to a blender. Blend until well mixed, then add spinach. Pulse until there are only a few larger pieces of spinach left. Mix together tomato sauce and paste with bell pepper, onion, parsley, Italian seasoning and remaining basil in a medium bowl. Stir until pretty well combined, it's mostly just to blend the paste. Layer 1/3 of sauce on the bottom of crock pot add 1/3 of the uncooked pasta and 1/3 of blender mixture. Repeat layers until it is all used up. Cook on low for about 5 hours or on high for 2-3 hours. You may need to stir it up sometimes to make sure the noodles are cooking evenly! Serve with salad! Yum!

* This is vegan, but if you'd like just vegetarian, add some Mozzarella  cheese on top and cook for 20-30 minutes!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Crock Pot Vegetarian Meatballs



This is an oxymoron if I ever heard! Vegetarian meatballs! Well I am here to say after experiencing this meal, no one can tell me that vegetarian/vegan meals are bland and boring! These were awesome! My little boy ate all of it! Seriously usually he never is full because he ends up throwing a lot of food on the ground, this one he actually was acting like he wanted to stop eating because he was FULL! These had excellent flavor and really were a great alternative to meatballs...obviously it didn't have a meaty taste, but texture wise they were almost twins!

These would be excellent with spaghetti or on subs! They do take some prep time outside of the crock- pot but they are still simple to make, it's just not quite like my crock pot mac and cheese where you just throw it all in! We had ours served over rice and it was fantastic! There is only one small ity, bity reason they aren't a completely vegan meal....I used onion soup mix for flavoring, and it has traces of milk so if you're looking for 100% vegan leave that mix out and season it with Mrs. Dash or other seasonings, me personally....I thought the onion soup mix made it fantastic! Meat lovers will love these too....if you're looking to add a few meatless meals in, you want to try this one.... you won't feel deprived I promise!

Crock Pot Vegetarian Meatballs

1 1/2 C lentils
2 c vegetable stock
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 packet of onion soup mix divided
1/2 onion
2 T ground flax seed
3 T cornstarch
1 can stewed or crushed tomatoes (28 oz)
1 can tomato paste
1 T Italian seasoning
1 T basil

In a sauce pan add lentils, vegetable stock, half onion soup mix and garlic and heat on med. Let it simmer for 20 minutes or until lentils have absorbed liquid. Meanwhile add tomatoes and tomato paste to the crock pot with Italian seasoning and basil. Begin to cook on high. Add chopped onion to a small skillet with small amount of olive oil and saute until cooked. Add onion, flax seed, cornstarch, remaining onion soup mix, and half of the lentil mixture to a food processor or blender. Blend until solid. Combine with remaining blender mixture and place in the fridge to cool for about an hour. Once it has cooled form into medium sized balls and place them in the crock pot. Cook for another 1 1/2 to two hours! Enjoy!

* you can also bake them if you want to for go the crock pot, just make the sauce in a skillet and bake the meatballs for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. I've never done it so I can't vouge for the end results! 




Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Crock Pot Peppermint Patty Brownies!



No dinner recipe to post this evening~ it's all sweet tooth tonight! These brownies have been made healthier, but still eat in moderation, the homemade sweetened condensed milk has some sugar in it! The good news....you can make these in a lot of different ways, I kept mine vegan, but you can use an egg, or real sweetened condensed milk, my version is just lighter in sugar than canned milk! It is much faster cook time in the oven for brownies, but you can't beat just throwing the ingredients in the crock pot and letting them cook themselves! And it was just kind of a fun shake up of things! These little babies are quite homely looking in my pictures, but they were so tasty, my kids wanted to eat all of them, I told them they had to save some for their dad who has been at school all day! I'd say these will be a nice treat for him to come home too!

The idea from crock pot brownies came from a blog I found on one of my many google searches for unique crock-pot meals! I obviously made some changes from the original to make it better for you, but I think they turned out as tasty as a brownie can be. 

Some ideas for revamping this recipe to make it your own, for your own tastes:

~ Blend 5 pitted dates with 1/2 C almond milk and throw that paste in for all sweeteners

~Use nuts instead of oats

~ add peppermint extract to the homemade sweetened condensed milk or brownie mix instead of using the candy peppermint patties

~ melt dark chocolate chips on top

~ Use a gluten free flour to make it gluten free

Wow, take your pick of how you make this, I'm sure it will still come out awesome!

Peppermint Patty Brownies
1 T vegan margarine
1 C water
1 chia -flax egg (1 T chia seed +1 T flax seed +3-4 T warm water)
1 1/2 C spelt flour (or any whole grain flour)
3/4 C cacao powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 C date paste (optional)
1/2 C oats
4-5 small peppermint patties

Homemade sweetened condensed milk
2 T vegan margarine
1/4 C raw turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)
1 1/4 C vanilla soy milk
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional) 

Add 1 T margarine to crock-pot while on low. While it is melting begin making the sweetened condensed milk. In a small sauce pan add margarine and melt it, in another sauce pan add soy milk and bring to a low boil. Add sugar to melted margarine and stir constantly until it is a rolling boil. Combine with soy milk and heat until low boil. Stir in cinnamon.

After the margarine is melted in the crock pot add the chia -flax egg, water and brownie mix (make sure you mix the dry ingredients together first) Mix until the dry ingredients are wet,

 add sweetened condensed milk and top with oats.

 Cook on low for 2-3 hours. Check with a fork and see if it is done. Add patties to the top and cook another 30-45 minutes. Enjoy



* if you use a date paste add the paste before the brownie mix then mix it well and don't add sugar to the sweetened condensed milk!

We did enjoy dinner tonight, we didn't just eat brownies I promise. I wanted to show how I was able to utilize some great leftovers and make a tasty healthy dinner! I used the leftover sauce from the zucchini boats the other night and cooked up some wheat noodles. I mixed in the sauce so it was lightly coated and let the noodles cool slightly, then I mixed in some spinach and carrot chips and topped it will a small amount of balsamic, or you can use a little Italian dressing. The sauce from the noodles helps create a dressing! And there you go! A tasty quick meal full of healthy ingredients! Use those leftovers! Has anyone been able to create something deliciously healthy using leftovers?






Monday, August 27, 2012

Quinoa Corn Chowder!

Well so far so good in the crock-pot challenge...okay so it's only day two. I have a feeling by the end of this I'm going to be reeeeeaaaalllly sick of cleaning my crock-pot out! Already though I am just loving the ease of dinner, I forget how nice it is when dinner time rolls around and I realize I'm sitting down waiting just like everyone else instead of being all over the place in the kitchen!

I love soup, stew, even stewp! They are flavorful and so easy to prepare and with the crock pot it's even better! You just throw it all in and let it cook! When I was searching around trying to find new recipes for the crock pot I stumbled upon an idea for corn chowder with quiona. here and decided it had to be on the list! I made it my own and I loved it and my kids did too. Derek liked it but he enjoys anything with jalapenos in it~  this is one of those that would be great to freeze the leftovers since it makes a ton of chowder! Awesome- two meals in one whack!

The best things I'm noticing about using the crock-pot

~ creativity in the kitchen
~ Easy clean up and easy prep
~ more time to spend with my sweet kids!

That last one is by far the best! Sometimes around dinner time my kids get a little whiny! Does anyone else know the feeling? By the time I've gotten them in their chairs with their plates in front of them I'm feeling a little stressed out! These last two nights, however, have been great. We've gone on extra walks, I've sat down and played barbies and Legos! It's been great. 

Well onto this delicious heartwarming soup!
 
Quinoa Corn Chowder
1 1/2 C uncooked quinoa
4 C water
1 can low sodium vegetable broth
4-5 potatoes chopped
1 red bell pepper
1 C frozen corn
3-4 canned jalapenos with 3-4 T of juice
1/2 onion, minced
1 T cumin
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Soak Quinoa in water for about 5 minutes, while you chop the vegetables. Add remaining ingredients to crock-pot and let it cook on high for 3-4 hours. Enjoy



Crock Pot Mac and Cheeze



This crock- pot challenge is going to to be so much fun! I gives some variety to our meals and sure frees up some time in the kitchen. This mac and cheese was an easy start and I mean who doesn't love some homemade mac and cheese every once in a while!

To tell you the truth I've never made pasta in the crock pot, it never even crossed my mind that it was something you could do! What do you know, it works! The end result was really good, it did taste alot like my other mac and cheese recipes, it just didn't need to be baby sat the whole time.


Now there are several ways you can make this. You can use a cashew sauce, like I did, you can use some dairy free cheese, or vegan cream cheese to make this creamy. I had wanted to try the cream cheese way instead of a cashew sauce for once, but we went grocery shopping really late at night and our grocery store didn't have vegan cream cheese and the health food store was closed, so cashew sauce it was! I would love to hear if someone tries a cheese in place of the cashews how it turns out!

Crock Pot Mac and Cheeze
1/2 C cashews
1 C hot water
3/4 C tomato paste
3/4 C nutritional yeast
3 cloves garlic
1 T lemon juice
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
2 T non-dairy margarine (optional)
1 C almond milk
1 lb pasta of choice

Add cashews, garlic and water to the blender (it helps to soak them for an hour before) blend until completely smooth. Add cashew sauce to the crock pot add remaining ingredients besides the pasta. Cook on low for 3 hours, you might want to mix it up occasionally. Change temperature to high and add pasta, cook for another 45 minutes until pasta is tender. Top with dairy free cheese
and let it melt for a few minutes! Enjoy

*If you use cream cheese in place of the chashews just throw all the ingredients into the crock-pot, no need for the blender.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Crock Pot for 2 weeks!



School is starting and schedules are getting jam packed! I am a crock pot fan, but I haven't used it much for meals apart from soup since we started eating plant food the majority of the time. I usually used it for a lot of meat dinners! SO! I've developed a new challenge for myself and for this blog to create some healthy crock-pot food for two weeks! I'm so excited, yes there are going to be a few soups, but that also is because the seasons are changing and I'm starting to rush fall into my house because I can't wait for the holidays!!!!

So I'm going to do a week at a time, since I do my grocery shopping by the week! It starts today, I'm just getting ready to go rev up the crock-pot now! This will be so fun, and such a relief to know that dinner will be on it's way to being done without any thinking from me during the busy transition with school starting for the hubs! Not every meal is a dinner since I utilize leftovers into my plan....no wasted food right! Everything is going to be vegetarian or vegan, I'm really excited for the meat balls. I've made a sweet n' sour pork meatball before that my husband adores and I'm anxious to see how these compare!


This Week's Menu

Crock-pot Vegan Mac and Cheeze

Vegetarian Chili

Quinoa Corn Chowder

Italian Style Potatoes

Peppermint Patty Mugs

Sweet n Sour Meatballs (vegan)

Crock-Pot Brownies

Join the challenge with me and let me know on my facebook page how it's going, or leave me a comment!!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Alphabet Day's End, Zucchini Boats



Well our beloved Alphabet days has come to an end, just in time for school to start. I don't have school aged children, but my hubs is getting ready to start another fun filled semester....hahaha....not so fun actually! I guess we could look at it as one step closer to graduation! Someday it will come!

A few weeks ago my good friend described a dinner she had made out of zucchini! It sounded delightful, she put meat in hers so I wanted to find a way to make ours meatless, but have great flavor! These zucchini boats were so easy and so delicious! I was so happy with the end result. I've felt we haven't been watching as closely what we've been giving our kids the last few days since we've had some busy family get togethers or we've been on the go! So I needed, yes needed for my own guilt to pack them with something nutritious tonight! They loved these little babies, which makes mom all the more happy! These ended up reminding me of a tasty Italian meal, without all the creamy pasta sauces or carbs! So yay for us! Enjoy these easy weekend or weeknight zucchini boats! They are great!

Zucchini Boats
3-4 zucchini squash, cut lengthwise in half
1 C of canned or frozen corn
1-2 C cooked quinoa or brown rice
1 C chopped carrots
1 C peas
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 C green beans
1 T Italian Seasoning 
2 T nutritional Yeast (optional)
1 tsp Mrs. Dash seasoning, (optional)
1/4 C sunflower nuts, for some extra crunch
1 jar of spaghetti sauce (or 1 recipe of easy marinara sauce)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spoon out the inside of the zucchini squash so just the rind is left. Place the spooned squash in a large bowl. Add onion to skillet with a tsp of olive oil and saute, add garlic and finish cooking until garlic is fragrant. Add vegetables, nuts, rice or quinoa, sauce, and seasonings to bowl and stir well. Try and have the zucchini mashed up a bit so you don't have enormous chunks of it. Spoon mixture into the rind of the zucchini. Place on a large cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Serve with salad and garlic bread, yum!!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Healthy Waffle Trifle



Breakfast for dinner is a favorite meal from time to time! Why not shake up the dinner table with breakfast! This meal doesn't consist of sausage, hash browns, bacon or eggs! This is filling, fruity, sweet, gluten free, and full of fiber and protein! And you want to the know the absolute best part? Kids devour this! No problem. My kids couldn't get enough. Ever since I discovered the recipe for the whole grain blender waffles I've been wanting to try this, I found this remake of the waffles from wholefoodmommies, they never let me down! I was so pleased, I only made a few tweaks to the whipped topping.

I had originally planned to make waffle fruit pizzas, which I still plan to do, but unfortunately the first few waffles I ruined somehow. Really how is that possible it's not that hard to watch them on the waffle iron. Anyways, I ended up following the original trifle idea and it was wonderful. We are using these for "Y" day, yes I skipped "X" I mean really, that's a hard one. We're calling these "Yummy" Waffles! Okay, it works. I have a great "Z" meal planned....and yes it really does start with "Z"!

 I do think the pizzas would be fun though! After I put this together I thought "This is so pretty!" This is a perfect brunch or shower dish! No one even needs to know it's GOOD for them! Go ahead, be the talk of your next get together with this beauty!


Healthy Waffle Trifle
Waffles
 2 C water
1 T honey
1 C oats
1/4 C millet or corn meal
1/4 C ground flax seed
1/4 C raw almonds or cashews
1 T cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
 
Combine all ingredients to the blender and blend on high until it is well combined. Pour generous amount to waffle iron. The waffles should be a dark brown, then they are done. 
 
Whipped Topping
 12 oz silken tofu
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 C maple syrup
1/2 C non-dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla
 
Combine everything to the blender and blend until it is well mixed. 
 
Tear small pieces of waffle and spread onto the bottom of a trifle dish or bowl. Add desired fruit in a layer. I used mango, strawberries, and grapes. But any type of fruit would be awesome. Top fruit layer with whipped topping and repeat for two or three layers! Serve chilled. Enjoy

* If you'd like a vegan option take out the honey from the waffles and use 2-3 dates or agave


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Channel Your Emotions into Something Healthy



Wow today has been an emotional roller coaster. My brother has left the state for two years and we won't be able to see him! We had an emotional good-bye this morning and it was not fun watching him kiss my little kids good-bye for a little while. My sister and I and our families made our way down to our parent's home last night to spend time as a family before he left. It is crazy we would be laughing, then I would start crying or my mom would or sister, then we'd be laughing and teasing each other again! I have an amazing family, and I will miss my little bro!

Last night my brother was able to pick whatever meal he wanted for his last night at home for awhile and he had Philly Cheese steak sandwiches. I said I was going to enjoy whatever he picked and eat up...I did. I didn't feel good in my stomach that night, but I enjoyed the meal with my family. It got me thinking on emotional eating. Have you ever been an emotional eater? I have. If I was feeling down, I'd eat...usually something sweet. For date nights that were filled with fun and excitement we always had to have buttery popcorn or cookies. When I was stressed I'd eat. Well I have found a good way to channel emotions so I avoid the emotional eating....fitness. I'm not a guru on fitness, I try and be active. My main focus has always been my diet. But I find that fitness is an awesome way to blow off steam, take your mind of issues or de-stress. I wanted to write out a simple guide to starting a fitness routine for those who may find it difficult to be consistent with fitness

- First I find it very important to assess your fitness levels. You don't want to over-do it. If your like I was you'll have a hard time starting up again

-Assemble your fitness equipment. Running shoes, weights, arm bands whatever. At home you can use just about everything. I've used a huge dictionary before that was stinkin' heavy for a weight.

-Write out your plan. I stick to a plan where I integrate Cardio and weight training. If I do an intense cardio day I do weight training the next day. I try and do 4-5 cardio days with 3-4 weight training days

-Have a goal in sight. I have found if you have something your reaching for it makes it soooo much easier to work hard. Whether it's training for a race or trying to get to a certain weight keep your goal in sight.

- Find a work out buddy. It is so much easier to stick with it when you have another person there to cheer you on.

- Just get started. It seems simple to say, but sometimes not so simple to do. Instead of watching a movie one evening, go for run or pop in a workout video. You'll be glad you got started.   

Develop your routine and you will be so much closer to a healthier lifestyle!

Monday, August 20, 2012

White Hot White Chili


I haven't forgotten about Alphabet Days! It is coming to a close and it is "W" day and we made it spiiiiicy!
I have never been a huge fan of insanely spicy foods; I can never quite understand how it's enjoyable to eat food while you're tongue is burning slowly out of your mouth! Derek on the other hand can't get enough of the "tough guy" spice. He told me he thought this chili had an intense kick to it! So that means I could only eat half of it before I was done. It was really tasty, but tooooo spicy for me!

This chili is a perfect shake up to typical every day chili, a creamy base with tons of white beans floating around. Yes please. If you want to add a major wake up call to your tastes tonight this if for you! I made mine in my crock-pot, but it can easily be made in a sauce pan.

White Hot White Chili

2 cans of white beans
2 C frozen corn
1 onion
1-2 green or yellow chili's, chopped
2 C water
2 C milk ( any milk will do. A good one to try is canned coconut milk)
2 T cornmeal
1-2 T cornstarch
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1 T cumin

Add beans, onion, chili's, corn and 1 cup of water to the crock-pot or sauce pan.

 Combine milk, one cup of water, cornmeal and garlic to blender. Blend for 60 seconds. Add corn starch to the blended milk and stir to help thicken it. Add salt and cumin and pour over the top of beans and vegetables.

 In crock pot cook on low for 4-5 hours in the sauce pan let simmer together over med-low for 30-60 minutes Enjoy

*you can also use cashews in place of the cornstarch, just add them to the blender to thicken.



Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hawaiian Haystacks



As summer is kissing this year good-bye I feel the need to take full advantage of all the delicious, sweet fruit out there! Pineapple is one of the greatest gifts given to this earth! Okay, I'm sure there are a lot of other awesome things, but isn't pineapple so delicious!

I mean you throw it in some ice cream or make a tropical smoothie and you can be sitting on beach getting tan while there's a blizzard going on outside (I don't know why you'd eat ice cream during a blizzard, but in case you do...I'm sure that's how you feel)

Tonight I was missing Hawaiian haystacks. We haven't had them FOREVER! I also haven't made them with anything but cream of chicken soup before or without ham....and those two ingredients just aren't going to fly with me anymore. So I tried two sauces. The ginger vinaigrette and I made a creamy version of the dressing by using cashews. I'm still not sure which I like better. I'm also very open to another saucy idea so leave a comment if you have a tasty creation! I was satisfied with the Asian swing of these haystacks, and honestly I didn't miss the ham...yes you can do meatless and have a flavorful meal! Enjoy the last big of summer with chunky, tangy pineapple over your haystacks....you can thank me later :)


Hawaiian Haystacks

2 C uncooked Brown rice
1 C green onion
1 pineapple, chopped
1 C sweet peas
1 C corn
1 onion finely chopped
1 C shredded carrots
Rice Chow mein noodles, tortilla strips ( I used these) or nuts for some extra crunch 

* other toppings
Black Beans
Red Bell Pepper
Mango
Broccoli
Mushrooms
black olives
cashews


Cashew Ginger Dressing
1/3 C raw cashews
1/2 T ground ginger
2 garlic cloves
1/3 C soy sauce
1/4 C almond milk
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Cook rice in rice cooker until very tender. Two options: you can leave your vegetables raw or if you're like me and have an onion texture issue you can saute some together for a stir fry taste. I sauteed the onion, peas,  carrots and corn for 5 minutes in a skillet to tenderize the vegetables. For the Cashew dressing add all ingredients to blender and blend for 2 minutes until completely smooth. Add pineapple, choice of dressing, and vegetables to the rice. Top with chow mein noodles. Enjoy



And The Winner Is....



Thank you to everyone who joined in the giveaway! It was a lot of fun. I tried to set up a random selecting tool on here, but I couldn't quite figure it out...next time. So my little girl drew it out of a hat for me :)

The winner is.....


Amber Shoemake!

Congrats Amber! I really hope you like the snack bites! Shoot me an email with your address and I'll get them sent out to you!!!!

Thanks again to everyone who participated...I look forward to having some more fun giveaways!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

New SPARK challenge & Eating Healthy Eating Out!



I am really excited for a NEW review! A friend of mine who is a representative for advocare   asked me if I would be willing to participate in a 31 day challenge to promote one of their products called SPARK. Spark uses vitamins and minerals to give you energy and focus.


As a "re-covering pop-a-holic" I understand what it means to need your caffeine energy for the day. Soda gives you so much yuck at the same time as giving you your boost in energy. One time I was watching a show, I think it was The Dr.'s or something and a lady was on there discussing soda. She said if you are a regular soda drinker, like every day, if you cut it out you had the potential to lose 40 lbs a year! Just for cutting out soda! It's pure sugar and just flat out not good for us! If anyone knows how hard it is to give it up, it's me. When I decided not to drink the stuff anymore I remember how hard it was to come off the addiction. It was an addiction for me. I remember going into work and seeing other employees with their huge 44 oz mugs of Diet Coke and I would just salivate...literally. I felt like I was in AA I needed co-worker support and intervention to not let me run to the vending machines to get a bottle of pop! 

I currently do not crave soda or any type of drink like that. I agreed to do this challenge since I understand the need for a pick me up. For any friends or readers who struggle with "needing" their soda fix or coffee or whatever you need to pick you up, I wanted to find a healthier option for you to wean off the liquid sugar that soda is. So what does the challenge consist of:

So for 31 days replace all other drinks with one package of SPARK a day and TONS of water. I'll journal about how I'm feeling and then at the end I'll let you know what I think. 

I want to note that I believe that we can get natural energy from eating a diet rich in plant foods, however I realize that many people are not quite there in their road to health or maybe don't feel the same as me, so this may be just what you're looking for! 

Okay- So I also wanted to show you how it is possible to choose healthier choices when you eat out. We decided yesterday to take our kids to the park and have a picnic. We have the cutest, cheapest, and tastiest bakery in town. We love it! So we decided to get some dinner from them. My husband was in charge of going and getting the food. He is very supportive of my decision to not eat animal products! He did so good, this is what he came back with for me
Just a pure veggie sandwich. He did have them put fat free mayo, but he tried and I was very grateful! It's nice to have support! It may take some creativity, but eating out can still be fun and healthier for you. I still believe it's healthier to eat your own food, but every once in awhile it is so much fun to go out with friends and family! Meatless meals, whole foods, and gluten free foods are spreading like wildfire and a lot of restaurants are integrating these foods into their menus. I was a waitress through college so I get it, all you need to do is ask. It's okay to work for tip :)

*If you'd like to order some of your own SPARK and do the challenge with me, email me or leave me a comment with your email and I'll put you in touch with my friend! 

 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Before Cravings...After Cravings



Things I used to eat before changing my lifestyle make me cringe at times. The worst part is I knew things were bad for me but I still ate them. I guess I didn't understand to the full extent why they were bad for me, which is why I'm so excited to launch our eBook...we go over the why!

This is what I used to crave before...literally! Does it look good to you? I would've eaten this whole thing





This is what I crave now! 




I am amazed at how my tastes and desires have changed! I love it, because I love my food! I rarely have guilt after I eat, and rarely when I get up for seconds! I still watch some things that I eat. I take it easy on pastas still because of the carbs, but when I do indulge in my lovely pasta it is filled with delicious vegetables like this! No grease drizzling down my chin with this!
Changing a lifestyle can be tough, but it really does change and evolve over time, I promise! And it's worth it! Keep working hard, try new recipes and take food off your list of frustrations and things to worry about!

Creamy Garden Pasta
1 package of whole grain pasta or gluten free pasta (you can also use rice instead of pasta)
1 crown chopped broccoli
1 C frozen corn
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 onion
1 large handful of spinach
2 cloves garlic
1/2 C raw cashews
1 1/2 C non-dairy milk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp nutmeg
dash of paprika
dash of red pepper flakes

Cook pasta according to package directions. After you strain the pasta add spinach to the bottom of the pan and place the hot pasta over the top so it wilts. Add 1-2 tsp coconut oil or olive oil to a skillet. Add broccoli, corn, onion, and pepper to the skillet and saute for about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, add remaining ingredients to the blender for the sauce. Blend on high for 2 minutes until cashews and sauce are completely smooth. Pour sauce over vegetables in skillet, heat together for another 2 minutes, then pour over pasta and spinach. Toss well so pasta is well coated! Enjoy

Have you lost cravings for certain foods? Or what do you still crave that you want to get rid of?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Orange Brownie (GF)



Sweet, Tangy, mouth watering orange flavor perfectly balanced with rich dark chocolate is what will be in my personal heaven someday! I have had such a sweet tooth lately. I've been doing really well and haven't indulged myself too much! I decided to try and create something for alphabet days letter "V" that was a treat, but not full of sugar (I realize the only "V" in this is vegan). Even if I do use raw sugar, I still have to watch it.

Did anyone know that medjool dates are commonly used in place of sweeteners? I haven't used them for a long time, but today I was gung ho on using them to decrease my sugar amount in these decadent brownies! These were perfect to make use of my new cacao powder from my giveaway, be sure and enter, these products are sooooo worth it! Most of my gluten free brownies involve beans, not these ones these are very cake like and will be served often! The orange flavor was subtle, but showed it's self at the same time...perfection! I love chocolate oranges so I loved this flavor, however you really could use any flavoring you'd like, coconut, raspberry, almond, mint, peppermint...make these yours! The glaze is optional, but highly recommended. The reason it calls for being optional is...it does have sugar. I tried, but I have yet to perfect a good glaze without throwing in some powdered sugar. If anyone has any suggestions please feel free to comment at the bottom! You'll thank me later after you try these, preferably nestled next to some berry soft serve!

Vegan Chocolate Orange Brownies
1 1/4 white rice flour +1 3/4 all purpose gluten free flour
(or 3 cups of whole wheat flour)
1/2 C cacao powder (or regular cocoa powder)
1 1/2 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C applesauce
1, 12 oz container of firm tofu
1/2 C non dairy butter, I used vegan smart balance
1/2 C pitted medjool dates
1/4 C agave
2 C almond milk
1 T vanilla
1 T orange extract

Glaze
1/4 C cacao powder
1/4 C powdered sugar
1/4 C agave
2 T non dairy milk
1 tsp orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, cacao powder baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and pitted dates to blender or food processor. Blend together for 20 seconds. Add remaining wet ingredients to the blender. Blend well for about 2 minutes to make sure tofu and dates are well blended. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in the bowl. Bake for 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes clean. 
while the brownies are cooling combine all your ingredients for the glaze. Once brownies have had time to cool spread the glaze over the top! Serve warm. Keep refrigerated. Enjoy





source: bring-joy.com

Product Review and FIRST GIVEAWAY!



I am so excited to share this post with everyone! I found Navita's Naturals about a year ago and I always buy their seeds (chia and flax). I love their products. So a few weeks ago I contacted them and asked if they would be willing to let me share some of their goodness with you! After surfing their website for awhile I had no idea all the awesome products they have! I can't wait to try their chocolate kits!

Anyways they contacted me within a few hours and said they were going to send me whatever samples I wanted! I was so excited. I've never been so pumped about a product, yes I love it that much!

They sent me some delicious Cacao Powder and Cacao Nibs! If you have ever had good quality Cacao Powder there is no comparison to store bought brands! It has more fiber and antioxidants and the flavor is amazing! I have the same to say about the Cacao Nibs, pure dark chocolate is far superior to other processed chocolate. They were delicious and I can't wait to try them in some recipes.

They also sent me some dried white mulberries! I had never tried these before and was so excited to see what they held for my mouth! They are a Turkish superfood, filled with vitamin C and antioxidants. Okay, now onto the taste. They were really great! I'm not much for dried fruit or raisins, but these were so much tastier! My son devoured half the bag before I could even stop him! They are odd looking, but they will make an awesome addition to salads, breads or smoothies! Yay for Turkish Superfood!



Now onto the GIVEAWAY! I'm so excited for one of you to try this! This is organic, vegan, gluten free, and healthy!


Blueberry Hemp Power Snack! This is jam packed with goodness. You get all organic product shoved into one healthy bite size snack! Talk about a helpful companion to curb the midnight cravings! Awesome! These can be enjoyed by numerous people, they do contain cashews so if you have a nut allergy I'm sorry :( 
They are a great source of protein they contain no refined sugars, nothing fake about these little babies and they are full of antioxidants!

Okay so here's what you do~ 
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Have you ever used Navita's Naturals? What's your favorite product! Leave me a comment below!

 This will close Saturday 8/18

*these products were given to me not purchased through Navita's Naturals