Fall Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash and Golden Berries
I love fall for the weather, changing colors (okay not so much now that I'm living in California), and delicious, sweet, pumpkin-y baked goods. Which is also the problem...a girl can only eat so many of those baked goods before your belly is like WHOA GIRL and you just need to eat something a little healthier, a little lighter. We're trying to balance our Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookie and Pumpkin Zucchini Bread intake with this savory, flavorful salad. It'll wake your tastebuds up and remind you that healthier dishes can taste pretty damn good, too! It's a great dish for detoxing the crap that has accumulated in your system all month and because quinoa is a complete protein, it'll keep you full longer than you'd expect. This salad has a great mix of sweet (golden berries, roasted butternut squash) and savory (celery, onions, parsley) that makes it a real crowd pleaser. We love using Essential Living Foods Golden Berries in this salad 'cause they keep their foods completely raw, organic, and full of superfood goodness...and they taste amazing! (We're huge fans, and you can check out their complete line of superfoods for yourself here.) It's perfect as a Thanksgiving side dish or a packed-lunch for the week, and we just know you're gonna love it so let's EAT!
3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
2 cups water
1 cup rainbow (or really any kind) quinoa
1/3 cup celery, sliced thinly
1/3 cup red onions, diced
1/3 cup golden berries, roughly chopped
1/3 cup sliced almonds
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon champagne or apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Peel and cut butternut squash into 1/4 cubes and place on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt + pepper and bake about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
While squash bakes, place quinoa and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, then cover with a lid and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
Prepare celery, red onions, golden berries, sliced almonds, and fresh parsley and place it into a large bowl. Set aside.
In another small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, dijon, maple syrup, salt and pepper.
When squash and quinoa have finished cooking and cooled, pour the quinoa and roasted butternut squash into the large bowl of veggies and gently toss with a wooden spoon. Drizzle the vinaigrette mixture over the salad and toss again to combine. Serve immediately or save in the fridge up to 3 days in an airtight container. Serves 6-8. Enjoy!
If you don't have/ don't like golden berries or almonds or any other ingredient, sub it out for something you LOVE! This salad is super customizable and you should totally take advantage of that based on your preferences and what you have in the pantry.
Here in Southern California, the growing season starts earlier than most places. Thanks to our high temps and sunny days, our garden started growing back in March and hasn't stopped since. In other words, our parsley plant is bigger than most peoples large dog. We have SO MUCH parsely- we're overrun! And there's only so much garnishing you can do with parsley before you're sick of it. A better way to use up mass amounts of fresh, fragrant parsley? This simple Parsley Pesto recipe! It whips up quickly and taste great spread on everything! I'm loving pairing it with sweet cherry tomatoes on crackers and crusty bread and mixing it into pasta dishes like this Caprese Pasta Salad. I was hesitant when I started messing around with this stuff- what if I didn't like it as much as my traditional Hemp Seed Basil Pesto? What if it just didn't taste right? Well, SURPRISE! It tastes AMAZING! Adding the green onions and extra garlic give it a ton of flavor and take away from the bitterness of having too much parsley, and the nuts keep it smooth and mellow. It's green gold! And it saves well in the fridge for up to a week, so you can enjoy fresh, flavorful pesto all week long. Lets eat!
3 packed cups fresh parsley, stems removed
1 cup almonds or cashews
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice
4 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
In a high speed blender (we used our Vitamix) or a food processor, combine all ingredients. Blend until smooth, or until your desired texture- you can leave it chunkier if you like! [If you don't have a great blender to work with, try soaking your nuts in warm water for at least an hour before blending them, it'll help break them down much more easily.] Spread it on everything from bread and crackers to pizza dough and rice cakes. Saves well in an airtight container for about a week, or until pesto begins to brown. Enjoy!
Fig + Almond Chia Oat Pudding
I love a good chia pudding. When I first went vegan the idea sort of repulsed me, but after 6 years chia seeds and the strangely gelatinous pudding they can create has become a favorite. I don't make it as often as I should, but when I do I tend to get a little binge-y on it. Its so good! And chia seeds are so good for you and packed with omegas- there's no guilt in this pudding. Plus its vegan, gluten-free, AND raw! This time around, we added oats to both thicken it up and add a little texture and fiber to the pudding. Since figs have just made their spring arrival in grocery stores around here we decided to incorporate some of those, too. The sweet, earthy flavor of ripe figs just contrasts so nicely with the flavor of almond and the crunch of fresh almonds sprinkled on top. And this sweet little recipe whips up in just 5 minutes! Make it the night before and enjoy it as an on-the-go breakfast or take the time to make a small batch for a hike. Its the perfect workout fuel...or late-night snack. Let's eat!
3 tablespoons chia seeds
3 tablespoons rolled oats
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon maple syrup or agave (optional)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4-6 figs, roughly chopped
sliced almonds, for garnish
In a medium sized bowl mix chia seeds, rolled oats, milk, sweetener, and extracts. Set aside to coagulate for 15-20 mins. Top with figs and sliced almonds and enjoy! Leftovers last in the fridge up to a week.
Homemade Chick'n Salad
One of my favorite on-the-go summer lunches when I was growing up was a chicken salad sandwich piled high with lettuce and onion. My sister was more of a chicken nuggets kid, but I would've been satisfied with a can of shredded chicken and a jar of mayo any day. (Saying that out loud sounds a bit disgusting.) Since the summer heat's been hitting and we've been spending more time eating picnic-like meals outside, I've been craving a chicken-salad sandwich. Now, before we go any further, let it be said that I understand chicken salad is a totally regional dish. It's made differently everywhere you go; sometimes stuffed with raisins and walnuts, sometimes grapes and almonds, and sometimes with carrots, cucumbers & radishes. I made it simply, the classic way 10-year-old me would have enjoyed it- with some fresh onion and celery, the slight crunch of almonds, and a lot of lettuce on top. There's something about the dill and lemon juice flavors that really make this simple sandwich POP (and totally picnic-worthy). You're gonna love it. Let's eat!
3 cups vegan chick'n, cubed & chopped (we used Beyond Meat GF Chicken-Free Grilled Strips!)
3/4 cup celery stalks, diced
3/4 cup red onion, diced
1/3 cup almonds, chopped
3-4 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley
1 cup vegan mayo
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried dill (or 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Chop chick'n and place into a a large mixing bowl. Toss in diced celery, onion, almonds, and parsley. Stir and set aside.
In a separate, smaller bowl whisk together mayo, lemon juice, salt, pepper, mustard, dill, & cayenne pepper. Pour dressing into the larger bowl and toss to coat ingredients evenly. Et voila, chick'n salad! Serve topped with a sprinkle of parsley and a twist of ground black pepper on some crusty bread or a bed of greens. Saves well in the refrigerator for about a week. Makes 4-6 servings. Enjoy!
Mini Key Lime Cheesecakes
Its (almost) SUMMERTIME and I've been craving guilt-free goodies. Nothing taste more like summer to me than a giant slice of key lime pie and a margarita, and today, I'm going to do just that. One mini-cheesecake, one stiff drink, a beach towel, and a book. Anyone care to join me?
These cheesecakes are so easy to whip up they'll have you feeling like you really ARE on summer vacation already. And maybe you are! In that case, have two margaritas. This recipe is broken up into several 'set it & forget it' steps, followed by a large serving of DELICIOUS. You're gonna love the creamy, zesty lime flavor, accented by a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and the chewy, sweet, date & nut crust. Perfect for sharing, summer sized-portions, and adorable snacking. Can also be made in cake pan-size, if you prefer. Either way, I'll see you at the beach. Enjoy!
1/2 cup pitted dates
1 1/2 cup nuts (I used almonds and cashews)
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
3 cups soaked cashews
3/4 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice
2/3 cup agave nectar or maple syrup
3/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 key lime, zested (about 1 teaspoon)
sprinkle of coarse sea salt, for garnish
Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or high speed blender. Grease or line 4-6 ramekins or tart dishes OR 1 9-inch spring form pan. Press date & nut mixture into bottom of ramekins or pan. Refrigerate or freeze to set coconut oil, about one hour.
Soak cashews in warm water for at least one hour. Blend cashews, lime juice, agave, coconut oil, salt, vanilla, and lime zest in a food processor or high speed blender until completely combined. Remove ramekins or cake pan from the fridge and fill to the top with key lime mixture. Put in the freezer or fridge to set for at least 3 hours before serving (or just eat it- it might not keep its shape as well but it'll still taste delicious). When ready, remove from the fridge and plate. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and a lime wedge to garnish. Serve, and enjoy! Great topped with coconut whipped cream or all by itself. Last indefinitely covered in the freezer and at least 1 week in the fridge. Makes 4-6 small ramekins or tarts OR one 9-in cake pan worth of cheesecake.
Extra Chewy Chocolate Steel Cut Oat Bars
I know, I know...Steel Cut Oat bars? Have I totally lost it?! But eating raw oats is bad for you! NOT. In fact, while raw oats are a little harder to digest and might make some people a little extra gassy (which is totally normal, bro), they're chock full of fiber and when a glass of water is enjoyed alongside a bar, you'll have NO PROBLEMS. These bars are sweet, extra chewy, and fill you up unlike a lot of granola bars parading the grocery aisles these days. These bars are also sugar free (!) which is always a plus. I've been enjoying these chocolatey little things after a long snowshoe outside or as a sweet treat after breakfast.They're delicious! And a great way to use up all those steel cut oats sitting in the back of the cupboard. The drizzle of chocolate adds just a bit more sweetness...and who doesn't love a little extra chocolate?
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup brown rice syrup, sorghum syrup, or date syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups quick-cooking steel cut oats*
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup ground flax
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chopped bar chocolate
1-2 ounces of melted chocolate, for topping
*Regular steel cut oats are a little thicker. If using those, throw about half into a coffer grinder to get a similar consistency
In a large mixing bowl combine oats, almonds and ground flax, and chocolate. Set aside.
In a small sauce pan, combine coconut oil, brown rice syrup, and vanilla. Simmer on low, stirring occasionally, until mixture melts together and comes to a uniform consistency. Pour over the dry ingredients, using a wooden spoon to mix everything together. The chocolate will get melty at this point and turn the whole mix deliciously chocolatey...if you're not into that, feel free to keep the chocolate chips separate and add them to the top, last.
Once mixture is uniform in texture, pour batter into a small glass baking dish (about 8x8), press to the sides and bottom, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to set. Once bars have set, melt 1-2 ounces of chocolate and use a whisk or spoon to drizzle chocolate evenly over the bars. Let harden, about 10 minutes in a cool place, cut, and serve. Makes about 10 bars that save well in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.
Strawberries 'n' Cream Chia Pudding
Chia seeds are a powerhouse of nutrition, and largely considered a 'superfood', which basically means its the best of the best as far as eating goes. Chia seeds pack a whopping 11 grams in fiber and almost 5 grams of protein per ounce, are filled with Omega-3 fatty acids, and have been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels and help you fight snack-y hunger. We love that you can turn something this crazy healthy into sweet, decadent PUDDING. I know, it sounds weird, and the texture?! But trust me on this one- its delicious. The seeds absorb up to 10x their weight in water and turn into a softer, cohesive gel-like substance that is easy to flavor even easier to eat. Sweet, light, satisfying- the perfect replacement for a sugary dessert. Try it, I think you'll dig it.
1/2 cup chia seeds
2 cups coconut milk (any non-dairy milk will do)
3 tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries (fresh, frozen or thawed)
sprinkle of chopped almonds (optional, for topping)
In a large glass jar (quart sized works perfectly), combine chia seeds, milk, maple syrup, & vanilla. Put the lid back on and vigorously shake the jar until everything is well mixed. If large chunks of chia seeds seems to be stuck to the bottom (which sometimes happens and is totally normal), open the jar and use a spoon to scrape the chia seeds off the side, and shake again to reincorporate them. Put the jar in a cool place, like the fridge (or if you live where I live right now, outside on the porch will be cold enough) and let it sit and gelatinize for at least 2 hours. Once ready, pull the jar out, give it one more good shake, and pour into a serving dish. Top with strawberries and a sprinkle of almonds, and enjoy! Makes about 4 servings, saves in the fridge for about a week.
Spinach & Wild Mushroom Lasagna with Basil Almond Cream
On weeks I work a lot, I like to make giant pots full of something to bring for lunch all week. I like it full of protein to keep me from snacking, be easy to reheat if I get the chance, and if not- taste good enough cold to enjoy. After weeks of chili and potato based soups, I was craving something a little different. With plenty of dehydrated mushrooms from late summer gathering and lots of fresh spinach in the fridge, I got to work using up those GF lasagna noodles I picked up so long ago. We were pleasantly surprised with the amount of flavor in this dish, and loved the almost meaty texture of the mushrooms. Topped with a little homemade parmesan cheeze, it was a serious treat as leftovers for three days before we'd gobbled up the whole pan. And don't worry- we give instructions for regular 'boil' noodles and the often criticized (but equally delicious in our opinion) 'no-boil' noodles. Let's eat!
Basil Almond Cream Sauce:
1 cup soaked almonds
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons dried basil OR a heaping 1/2 cup fresh basil
1 cup water
Soak 1 cup almonds in warm water for at least an hour. Drain the almonds, set aside, and save 1 cup of the soaking water for blending.
Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor until a creamy consistency is reached, about 30 seconds to a minute. Scoop into a bowl and set aside to use later in the lasagna.
Spinach & Wild Mushroom Lasagna:
1 box (about 9 ounces) gluten-free no-boil lasagna noodles*
25-30 ounces of pasta sauce (about 3+ cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 ounces of dried, wild mushrooms OR 8 ounces fresh wild mushrooms, roughly chopped**
4 packed cups fresh spinach
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon dried oregano
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 recipe vegan parmesan cheeze OR about 1/2 cup of your favorite parmesan substitute
*If using noodles that require boiling, cook to instructions on package, drain, and use in place of the noodles in our recipe. Also, remove about 10-15 minutes earlier than the total cook time of about 45 minutes that ours requires.
**You can use your favorite mushrooms from the grocery store, too. Button, cremini, and chanterelles would all be great here.
If you haven't already made the Basil Almond Cream Sauce, do that (recipe above.) If you have, start here:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a 9 x 13 in. baking dish.
Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet and toss in onions and garlic, and cook until onions are softened and turning slightly translucent. Add mushrooms, water, and spinach by the handful, stirring to wilt spinach and help mushrooms absorb the water. Cover with a lid and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5-8 minutes or until spinach is wilted and mushrooms have absorbed all the liquid and onions are beginning to caramelize. Add in spices and simmer one more minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
Now, pull out that lightly greased casserole dish and spread about 1 cup of pasta sauce across the bottom. Top with noodles, about 4 per layer, spread evenly across and covering the sauce. Next spread about 1/2 of the Basil Almond Cream across the noodles, top with half of the spinach & mushroom mixture, sauce, and more noodles. Do another round of Basil Almond Cream, cooked veggies, and noodles, saving the last of the sauce to cover the top layer of noodles and prevent them from burning. Finally, sprinkle the top with your parmesan cheese, cover with a lid or aluminum foil, and bake for 45-50 minutes, until sauce is bubbling and cheese is slightly browned. Let cool, slice, and enjoy! Saves well in the fridge for about a week.
Healthy Homemade Granola
Keeping up with healthy, clean eating recipes we present our go-to travel favorite: Homemade Granola! We make this recipe all the time and jar it up for easy eating on-the-go, but its just as good in a bowl, on your couch, while watching Saturday morning cartoons (Is that still a thing? We don't have cable.)
Either way, the cashews & almonds keep you full and the light smattering of agave will help curb that sweet tooth. Its the kind of snack you can feel pretty good about snackin' on. And if you like dried fruit (raisins, craisins, ect.) feel free to toss in a handful when its cool. I prefer a few slices of fresh strawberry on top with a little coconut milk, but Alex goes for the raisins every time and swears by it.
3 cups GF rolled oats
1 cup almonds, roughly chopped
1 cup cashews, roughly chopped
1/2 shredded coconut
1/4 hemp seeds
1/4 flax seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup agave nectar or maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
Optional Add-Ins (AFTER granola has cooled):
1 cup raisins or craisins
1/2 cup chocolate chips or cacao nibs
1/2 cup goji berries
a handful of sunflower seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl combine everything but the oil & agave (or maple syrup). Mix well to combine. Add in the liquid coconut oil & sweetener and mix very well, so everything gets coated evenly. Spread onto a large, ungreased baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring about every 5-10 minutes as needed. Granola cooks quickly and even crisps up a bit after being removed from the oven, while sitting on the pan cooling, so remember to pull it from the oven before it gets too dark. Once you have removed the pan from the oven, let it cool for at least 20 minutes. Once cool, add in any additional little bits (i.e. the cacao nibs, dried fruit, or whatever) and move to a sealed storage container, like a glass jar or large plastic bag. Stays fresh for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy!
Tangy Curried Chickpea Salad
I'm a sandwich kind of girl. I love them. You can put just about anything in between two pieces of something bread-like and call it a sandwich. Usually portable, they've been around as long as history can remember.
In 2006, a court in Massachusettes determined that a sandwich does indeed need to include at least two slices of bread, differentiating it from items eaten in a tortilla and ending a dispute between Panera Bread and Qdoba. Yep. That really happened.
But either way, I love things stuck between two slices of bread or on a single piece, open-faced style. This tangy salad travels well, so wrap it up in a jar or bring that bread and munch on it anywhere you go.
1-15 ounce can chickpeas, drained
3/4 cup vegenaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup onions, diced
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup radishes, diced
1 teaspoon curry
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch of smoked paprika
Drain and rinse your chickpeas and pour them into a medium sized mixing bowl. Use a fork to mash the chickpeas until about half are completely smooshed, the other half can be mashed or chunky to your liking.
I prefer to leave about half of the chickpeas unmashed- it adds more texture and holds together better on a sandwich.
A quick note on the ‘chunks’ in the salad: its nice when all of your veggies are diced to about the same size. It makes the texture more pleasant!
Add vegenaise, lemon juice, onions, almonds, celery, radishes, and all spices. Stir until combined. Serve immediately or save in the refrigerator for up to a week.
But like we talked about, its really best in a sandwich.
My favorite is topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and a bit of avocado and served with a side of crunchy potato chips.