Coconut Lime Ice Pops

On hot summer days, nothing hits the spot like a delicious lineup of icy drinks and snacks to keep yourself cool.  These refreshing and creamy Coconut Lime Ice Pops by my husband are the perfect treat to beat the heat!  The ingredients take only moments to whisk together.

(These pops are not overly sweet as a personal preference, but could be very easily adjusted to have more sweetness if desired!)

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

13.5 oz Coconut Milk

1/3 Cup Shredded Coconut

1/2 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice (approx. 4 medium limes)

Zest of 2 Limes

2 1/2 Tbsp Agave Syrup

1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Directions: 

Whisk all the ingredients together and pour into ice pop molds

(Whisk between each mold pour to prevent settling)

Freeze until solid (about 8 hours)

Enjoy!

Ingredient recommendations linked!

Easy Vegan Fruit & Seed Smoothie

This 4-ingredient snack couldn’t be easier to make!  Keeping a stash of a variety of frozen fruit in the freezer is so helpful when creating smoothies on a whim.  I love combining handfuls of it with some sunflower seed butter and water which beautifully blends into a sweet, creamy, and refreshing snack that just so happens to be vegan and gluten free!

This is a snack-size portion, but if you were looking for more of a meal you could easily double the measurements.  I love drinking this as a side with a sandwich at lunch, or as a mid-afternoon bite.  It’s one of my favorite ways to add a couple extra servings of fruit into my day!

Servings: 1

Ingredients:

1 Large Frozen Banana (sliced before freezing to ease blending)

12 Frozen Dark Cherries

2 Large Frozen Strawberries

2 Tbsp Sunbutter

2/3 Cup Water

Directions:

Blend and enjoy!

Ingredient recommendations linked!

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

If you’ve never been a Brussels sprouts fan, these will convert you!  When they’re crispy, crunchy, and salty it’s very hard not to eat the whole batch at once.  They’re such a versatile side dish, and so easy to whip up when you’re short on time.  They’re also always a crowd pleaser at holiday gatherings, and taste best when they’re fresh from the oven!

Ingredients:

Brussels Sprouts

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (roughly 2 tablespoons per 16 ounces of spouts)

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°

Cut the bottoms/tips off of the sprouts and peel off the outer layer

Cut each sprout in half (smaller ones can be left whole)

Toss in a bowl with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper

Spread evenly on a baking sheet

Cook for about 35 minutes (stirring/flipping halfway) or until the outside is brown and crispy

Add additional sea salt and black pepper if needed after taste testing

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cherry Protein Oats

It tastes like a PB&J sandwich turned oatmeal bowl!  It’s not overly sweet, and the textures of the oats, cherries, and creamy peanut butter topping make for a super satisfying yet ridiculously easy breakfast on hectic mornings.  Bonus – They’re vegan and gluten free!

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Quick Oats with Water (I love Bob’s Red Mill – Gluten Free)

4 – 6 Tablespoons Betty Lou’s Inc. Powdered Peanut Butter (Depending on preference)

Optional: Dash of Sweetener of Choice

1 Cup Dark Sweet Cherries

Drizzle of Traditional Peanut Butter

Directions:

Cook up the oats with water

Stir in the powdered peanut butter (and optional sweetener if desired)

Add the cherries

Drizzle the traditional peanut butter on top

Enjoy!

Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Circles

They’re so basic, so easy, and the perfect nutritious and delicious side to have on hand.  This is a Thanksgiving classic at our house!

Ingredients:

Sweet Potatoes

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Directions:

Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into medium-thin slices | You can leave the peel on if you prefer!

Toss with extra virgin olive oil | I do this in a ziplock bag – 1 tablespoon per potato

Bake at 425° for 45-50 minutes | Or until they’re crispy on the outside and soft on the inside – flipping at the halfway point

You can include your sea salt and black pepper either before or after baking

Enjoy!

Sunflower Pumpkin Spice Oats

It’s the perfect breakfast on chilly autumn mornings! They’re creamy, vegan, and gluten free. They’re also nutrient dense with lots of Iron, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E.

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Quick Oats with Water

1/4 Cup Canned Pumpkin Purée

Dashes of Saigon Cinnamon, Allspice, and Nutmeg to taste

Sweetener of Choice (like maple syrup)

2 Tbsp Sunbutter

Directions:

Cook up the oats with water

Stir in the pumpkin, then spices, then sweetener, then Sunbutter

Enjoy!

Ratatouille-Italiana

Ratatouille Italiana

An Italian twist on the French classic, this dish is extremely versatile. It can be enjoyed on its own, over pasta, as a side, however you like! Plus it’s vegan, dairy free, and gluten free.

We personally loved it over pasta with sausage.

Ingredients:

1 white onion

4 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 eggplants

3 medium zucchini

1 jar Mezzetta Artisan Ingredients Italian Plum Tomato Marinara

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

cayenne pepper

black pepper

sea salt

Directions:

Dice the onion

Finally chop the garlic or use a garlic press

Peel & chop the eggplant into small cubes

Chop the zucchini into small cubes

Add the onion, garlic, and first 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a pan and sauté over medium heat until the onions are translucent

Add in the eggplant and the third tablespoon of olive oil, then continue cooking until eggplant is soft

Add in the zucchini

Once the zucchini is thoroughly cooked as well, turn down your heat to low and stir in the marinara

Stir in the parsley as well as small dashes of cayenne pepper and black pepper, plus a pinch of sea salt to taste

Enjoy!

Vegan Carob Brownies

Vegan-Carob-Brownies_web2

Made with whole grains & healthy fats!

I’ve seriously been craving chocolate recently, but with my caffeine sensitivity it’s just not a practical choice in large doses. Too much chocolate gives me major jitters, bad skin, and messes with my sleep. Luckily, I really love baking with carob. It doesn’t replace the taste of chocolate, but it has a lovely roasted/sweet/nutty flavor that is unique, delicious, and really satisfies chocolate cravings!

Ingredients: 

2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour (I used King Arthur)

3/4 cup Roasted Carob Powder (I use Australian Carob Company)

1 tsp Sea Salt

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 cup Extra Virgin Avocado Oil

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

2 cups Cane Sugar

1 cup water

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350°

In a large bowl, beat together your oil, sugar, vanilla extract, and water with a hand mixer

In a second large bowl, stir together your whole wheat flour, salt, baking powder, and carob powder

Pour the bowl of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients

Use the hand mixer to combine until there are no lumps left

Pour the batter into a 9×13 baking pan and evenly smooth

Bake for around 22 minutes (I like mine fudgy in the center, but keep an eye on them and bake to your doneness preference!)

Let them sit for a few hours before enjoying for their consistency to be ideal

Enjoy on their own or with a scoop of ice cream!

Nut-Free Pesto

Nut-Free Pesto_web

It can easily be made vegan as well!

I absolutely love pesto. However, as someone with nut allergies, 9 times out of 10, I’m not able to eat it. Most restaurants and grocery brands make their pesto with pine nuts. This pesto is 100% nut-free, and can easily be made vegan if you leave out the parmesan or use a vegan alternative.

Ingredients:

3 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)

4 cloves garlic

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

Wash and prep the basil leaves.

Combine basil leaves and garlic in a food processor, and then add in the oil to make it easier to blend until all of the oil has been added.

Add in sea salt and black pepper to taste and mix again.

Pour the pesto into a bowl and stir in the cheese. (This can be skipped, or subbed with a vegan alternative.)

Add extra sea salt and black pepper if desired, but do a taste test first on your pasta or meal of choice and see what you prefer.

Enjoy!

Why I’m Not Currently Vegan

Why I'm Not Currently Vegan

Like many, over the years I have made the attempt to go vegan for the sake of the planet and the animals.  Many of my vegan readers have asked me why I personally did not stick with it.  Unfortunately, these are the 4 biggest reasons that a vegan diet has never been sustainable for me:

Skin

Eliminating animal protein majorly aggravates my skin.  I have genetic predispositions for acne, and already have to work quite hard to keep my skin clear, so anything that causes additional flare ups is an added stressor and a big no thank you for me 🙂

Digestion

There are many vegans out there who swear that cutting animal products is a cure-all for digestive issues. However, when I adopted a vegan diet, I experienced nothing but negative digestive side effects (that never affected me previously). Reintroducing animal products brought back my normal problem-free digestion.

Supplement Intolerances

When you go vegan, there are a number of supplements that are recommended. These can include B12, which can only be found in animal foods, and oftentimes Vitamin D and Calcium (depending on your specific deficiencies or diet shortcomings). I’m very sensitive when it comes to supplements. 99.9% of the time they lead to either severe nausea, stomach cramps, or intense headaches. I’ve also experienced side effects such as loss of appetite, rashes, and insomnia. Therefore, I personally need to rely on getting my vitamins from food sources alone.

Food Allergies & Sensitivities

I’ve had food allergies for all of my life. Many of these foods are unfortunately big vegan staples. A couple of main examples:
-Soy
-Tree Nuts (Almonds, Cashews, Pecans, Walnuts, Pine Nuts, Etc.)

Therefore, if I am in a position where the only options are packaged or takeout vegan food, 9 times out of 10 it includes one of those ingredients.

I’ll admit, I often feel guilty that I am not a vegan. With the environment in need of our assistance and the inhumane ways that so many animals are treated, I have tried to do my part in this way. Needless to say I still try my best to only purchase the most humane animal products such as eggs from the pasture, etc.

I do feel that my own health takes precedence. Every human body is incredibly different. Only you know what works for you, and I urge you to follow your own health journey outside of the influence of others.

I think it’s wonderful that veganism works for so many, because it can have great impacts on this planet and for certain people’s health. I know that there are many vegans who follow me, and to all of you I say: amazing. I hope you can understand the other side of the coin.