Recipes

Blueberry Wheat Germ Muffins

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A couple of months ago we won a “health food basket” through a local giveaway and in it came a huge bag of wheat germ. This isn’t an ingredient we normally use, so after sitting in the refrigerator for awhile I decided to find a way to use it up. Other than adding it to smoothies, I’ve worked it into a few recipes, including this one for muffins!

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These were delicious! They held up well and their packed with healthy ingredients.

Blueberry Wheat Germ Muffins

1 1/2 cup wheat germ

1 cup wheat flour

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1 1/2 tsps baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

sprinkle of sea salt

1 cup almond milk

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup applesauce

2 tbsps molasses

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 cup blueberries (i used frozen)

Steps

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix almond milk and ACV together and set aside.

Mix together all dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add in milk mixture, molasses, oil, applesauce, and vanilla.

Mix well and then add in blueberries, stirring until distributed throughout.

Spray muffin pan and then pour in batter, filling each well most of the way.

Bake for about 28-30 minutes. You can test if their done by inserting a toothpick and seeing if it comes out clean, though keep in mind the blueberries will be wet. The dough should not be.

Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before removing from muffin tin.

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Th finished product! Store in a  airtight container (they are best warm!). Enjoy!

Chocolate Cherry Nib Smoothie Recipe

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Recently Ka’Chava sent me some free samples to review of their Tribal Superfood Plant Based Whole Meal Powder.

It’s Vegan, Gluten free, Soy Free and has zero preservatives. It boasts 24 grams of protein, 9 grams of Fiber, Omegas, Antioxidants, Probiotics, Super Greens, Adaptogens, Vitamins and Minerals. And it tastes great to boot! I’ve tried several plant protein powders and many seem grainy or bland or gritty. Ka’Chava blends smoothly and tastes great! It also contains a good variety of nutrients to get you through your day. Perfect for busy mornings where you need a grab and go breakfast that will actually keep you sustained.

This week Whole Foods Santa Cruz has cherries for a great price so I decided to incorporate them into a smoothie. I definitely recommend picking some up for this weekend. A great Memorial Weekend treat. This was delicious!

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Chocolate Cherry Nib Smoothie

1/2 cup fresh pitted cherries

1/2 a large frozen banana

1 scoop (1/2 a serving) of Ka’Chava Chocolate Protein

1 tsp raw dark cocoa powder

1 cup cashew milk unsweetened

1 tsp cacao nibs

4 drops liquid stevia (optional-I would also switch it for a pitted date)

Blend! It was cold and sweet and perfect for my sweet tooth. The Ka’Chava helps make the smoothie thick and filling.

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Last week I managed to pull a muscle somehow and I’ve been in some pain whenever I walk. I’ve been resting a lot and on the doctor’s recommendation I took some pain medication which has definitely helped. Hopefully I’ll be back to 100% soon so I can be active again.

Looking forward to the long weekend. (no classes Monday)! Hopefully I will be doing something fun!

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A Family Act

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If there’s one dish my mom loves to make it’s blueberry buckle. A cake like breakfast dish packed with berries and topped with a delicious streusel topping. I remember many weekend mornings walking into the kitchen sleepy-eyed and seeing her busy at work surrounded by flour, sugars and mixing bowls. It’s the dish a friend would receive in a time of need, a dish we would take to my grandma’s with hot coffee in hand.

And it’s very not-vegan. Butter, milk, egg. All play a hand in it’s creation.

Over this Christmas break my parents have been eating and cooking vegan meals with me a most every night. We had a vegan Christmas Eve and a vegan Christmas. They really enjoyed all the dishes we made and were enthusiastic to cook their own. (The Isa Does it cookbook has been our go-to).

We’re now in the post-holidays stretch and I’ll be heading back to school on Sunday. (boo) We’ve been trying to make all the dishes we wanted to try before I leave and trust me there are plenty. So many great vegan recipes and blogs out there! So when my mom asked me last night: “Hey do you think we could veganize the blueberry buckle recipe?” I was game. I’ve gotten a lot better at learning how to successfully adapt recipes and make them vegan.

We switched out the butter for solid coconut oil, the egg for a flax egg, and the milk for almond milk. It turned out so good! Just like the original.

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Mom’s Blueberry Buckle (Veganized)

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup raw cane sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup solid coconut oil

1/2 cup almond milk

1 tsp vanilla

1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax mixed with 2 tbsp water)

5 1/2 cups fresh or frozen berries (thaw the frozen first and include all juice!!)

Streusel topping ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

6 tbs solid coconut oil

Steps: 

Streusel:

1) In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Using a pastry blender or fork cut in oil until fine crumbs form.

2) Using hands squeeze together most of the mixture to form large clumps. The topping can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Buckle:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use coconut oil to grease a springform pan and dust with flour. Mix flax with water and set aside.

2) In a large bowl cream coconut oil and sugar. Add flax egg and vanilla beat again.

3) In a second bowl mix flour, baking powder, salt. Add alternating almond milk with flour mixture into oil and sugar. Fold in blueberries.

4) Pour into a springform pan and then sprinkle with streusel topping. Bake 60-70 minutes until an inserted knife comes out clean.

It may take longer to bake…don’t worry! It will take longer with thawed frozen berries than fresh. Enjoy a slice best when heated up! Good for breakfast or dessert. Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee!

Tofu Picatta: An Old Family Favorite done Vegan

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A couple weeks ago we received a bag of fancy Morrel mushrooms from a family friend who had gone mushroom hunting. These cost $38 a pound!!! Seriously. So we were lucky to get some for free to try. My mom, dad, and I all love mushrooms, but we usually stick to crimini, button, or portabello.

Right away my dad wanted to make picatta! An old family favorite. We had chicken picatta a lot growing up (I try not to dwell on the meat I ate growing up). But it was actually my dads idea to try to do a meat free version with extra firm tofu and that definitely made me happy. I love when my family is excited to try meat free meals!

We served it up with lentils, and sautéed morels with zucchini and onion. It was so good! My dad even said he liked the tofu version better than the chicken 🙂 Veg for the win!

Tofu Picatta

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1 block extra firm organic tofu

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

dash sea salt

dash black pepper

1 tbsp EVOO

1 cup low sodium veggie broth

1 tbsp garlic

1/4 cup vegan white wine

juice from half a lemon (about 1-2 tbsp)

1 tbsp capers

other half a lemon thinly sliced

finely chopped parsely for topping

Steps

  1. Press tofu for about 10-15 minutes. I used a tofu press, but you can always do it with heavy books 🙂
  2. Place flour, salt, and pepper on a plate. slice tofu and coat in mixture on both sides.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp EVOO in pan on medium high and once hot add the tofu slices. Cook until golden on both sides. About 6 minutes total. IMG_2874
  4. Remove tofu from pan and add in wine to pan. Add minced garlic. And simmer for 30 seconds. Then add in broth, lemon juice, capers, and heat for 1 minute. Add tofu slices back into pan so they can soak in the flavor. IMG_2876
  5. Add lemon slices onto top of cooking tofu.IMG_2878
  6. Remove from pan and serve garnished with parsley.

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Enjoy!

Almond Coconut Cranberry Granola

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It’s really no secret I love making granola. It’s one of the few things you can really experiment with and in all likelihood it will turn out great in the end. We’re getting ready to embark on a long road trip Thursday so my snack preparation has already begun.

I don’t want to run into any snags along the way, as any vegan or veg-friendly person knows it can be hard to find places to eat along the way. I’ll post a full break down of what we’re bringing closer to the trip, but for today here’s the granola I’ve prepped for the trip (I made extra because in all honesty one batch wouldn’t last all the way until Thursday in my house 🙂 ).

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Ingredients

1 1/2 cup oats

1/4 cup almonds

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp ground flax seeds

1/4 cup dried cranberries

2 tbsp coconut sugar

1/4 cup raw agave+1 tbsp

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cardamom

2 tbsp natural crunchy Peanut Butter (you could also sub almond butter)

1 tbsp coconut oil (melted)

2 tsp vanilla

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients: oats, seeds, almonds, cranberries, coconut sugar, spices in a bowl.
  3. Add in peanut butter, oil, vanilla, and agave. Stir well until it’s mixed evenly. There will be some chunks from peanut butter I usually break up the larger ones and leave the smaller ones.
  4. Spread on silicone lined baking sheet (or you could use parchment paper. Silicone baking sheets are awesome and one of my favorite kitchen tools).
  5. Bake for about 10-15 minutes checking occasionally and stirring until golden and toasted. Remove from oven and let cool before transferring to an airtight container for storage.

Enjoy! IMG_2316

Stuffed Bell Peppers and Family Dinners

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Family dinners have always been a tradition in our family. We always came home from school or work and ate at the table together. We hardly ever ate out and both my parents loved to cook (maybe thats where I get it from?). So it was really strange for me when I would go over to friends houses and they would eat in the living room in front of the TV or in their rooms. I quickly learned the importance of family dinners because I would listen to my friends talk about their families and realized how disconnected certain families were. Dinner was the time for us to all come home from a long day and talk about our experiences and laugh and tell jokes. We would cook together and clean up together before my brother and I rushed off to do our homework.

I love that my parents created this structure in our lives and taught us the importance of spending time together.

When I transitioned to a vegan diet I worried it would make these dinners difficult. You know, having to cook two separate meals or always cook something for myself, but it’s actually been relatively easy. We’ve always eaten pretty vegetable heavy meals and so it’s easy to switch out proteins or add in something separately to accommodate everyone’s desires. It’s also been fun expieremneting with meals that everyone likes and are totally vegan.

After snagging a bag of green bell peppers from the discount organic produce rack at a local co-op these vegan stuffed peppers were born, and everyone loved them.

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Stuffed Bell Peppers:

5 medium sized green bell peppers

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 small red onion chopped

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

1 tsp dried basil

1 tbsp tomato paste

3/4 cup chopped mushrooms

1 cup kale chopped and tough stems removed

1 tomato chopped

3 servings of Italian Seitan by Upton’s Naturals

1 small zucchini finely chopped

1/2 tsp sea salt

black pepper to taste

1 tbsp finely chopped jalapeño, seeds removed (optional)

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Steps: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and remove stems and seeds from peppers by cutting around the top of the stem. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in pan at medium heat and then add garlic and onion and dried basil. Saute until onions soften.
  3. Add mushrooms, zucchini, tomato, seitan and kale. Saute for about 7 minutes and then add in rice and tomato paste and salt and pepper to taste, as well as jalapeño if using. Reduce heat to low and toss so rice is well seasoned.
  4. Stuff the mixture into the peppers until full and place peppers in a casserole dish standing upright. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until peppers are softened. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before eating.

And if you choose to top them with sriracha like me that’s fine too. 😉

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These were very tasty and simple and the seitan pleased the omnivores in my family. You could easily switch out the filling for whatever veggies you have on hand but I highly recommend keeping the mushrooms! They also make great leftovers for an easy lunch the next day!

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Spring/ Summer Time Recipes

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I’m not sure what the weather is like where all of you are, but here in Santa Cruz it’s really warming up. I usually get back to my apartment after class sweaty from the walk. The weather is bouncing back and forth, cloudy and windy 60 degree weather one day and hot 88 degree weather the next. (global warming!) So my meals have definitely been switching towards cooler foods like smoothies, salads, lots of fruit, and fresh juices.

One of my favorite smoothies lately has been my “Green” Vegan Reese’s Smoothie. Chocolate, peanut butter, and a dose of greens? I’m sold! Image

The Recipe:

1 loose cup spinach

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tbsp peanut butter

1 date

1 frozen banana

a few ice cubes

Blend everything well and enjoy!

It’s a super delicious snack or light breakfast and definitely cures my chocolate peanut butter cravings in a healthy way.

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My other go to warm weather food is grain salads! It’s a yummy, filling, light meal with endless variations. My favorite traditional grain based salad is Tabbouleh, typically made with bulgur, parsley, tomatoes, and lemon and olive oil. However I also love making it with couscous! I was inspired by Isa Does It’s Tabbouleh of the Sea I made for Easter and have been adapting it and switching it up in the past few weeks.

I also love her handy cooking tip for couscous! You simply bring the water to a boil. Pour in your couscous and remove from heat. Let the pot sit covered for 10-15 minutes and Tada! Perfectly fluffy couscous that doesn’t require being cooked on the stove.

Here’s my current favorite Tabbouleh mixture:

1 cup cooked couscous

1 cup finely chopped parsley

1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped cucumber

1/2 cup chickpeas

1/2 fresh sweet corn

2 tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 tbsp capers

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper to season

Toss all ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Chill salad and enjoy! Makes about 4 servings. ImageIt’s so good and fresh. It also makes an excellent packed lunch to take throughout the week.

I’ve definitely been taking advantage of the summer weather lately. Sitting in the sun, reading for my classes, and walking to classes. The sunshine makes everything more enjoyable. Hopefully your all getting out there and taking advantage of the great weather too!

Image(The view from the campus press center)

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(View from the recreation field)

Saturdays in Santa Cruz+ Coconut, Almond, Pistachio Granola Recipe

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Every other Saturday morning I get up early, grab breakfast and rush out to the bus stop to make my way downtown. I spend my Saturday mornings volunteering at the Downtown library with the Tails to Tales program. It’s a really sweet program where kids read to service dogs and promotes literacy. A lot of kids may not feel comfortable reading to adults or other children, so this provides an opportunity for them to practice and enhance their skills in a nonjudgmental environment

Overall it’s just a wonderful way to begin my weekend and get out of the apartment nice and early! This Saturday after I finished volunteering I ran some errands around downtown and then begin to feel the hunger bug striking and was craving a nice big salad with lots of fixings. Of course Cafe Gratitude could fix that!

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And since it was so sunny I ordered it to go and enjoyed it at a table outside!

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Their I am Fulfilled salad loaded with beets, carrots, avocado, almond parmesan, and teriyaki almonds with a raw carrot flax cracker and goji chipotle dressing! With a small carrot, pear, ginger juice. I love that they source local and organic ingredients and everything is vegan!

The day was simply too nice to waste so before I headed home I decided to take a nice long walk out along Westcliff Drive. My favorite view in Santa Cruz! Plus it’s always fun to watch the surfers on these really sunny breezy days!

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Today the water was full of surfers and Westcliff Drive was populated with bikers and dog walkers 🙂

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I got about an hour of reading in before I walked back to catch a bus up to campus. It was wonderful to soak in some sun and watch the ocean waves. I’m committing myself to going out here at least once a week for the rest of the school year. I have this beautiful view at my fingertips! Why waste it?

Now on to the granola! I LOVE whipping up a batch of homemade granola to have on hand during the week. it’s super simple and fun to experiment with whatever I have on hand! This week I made Coconut, Almond, Pistachio Granola

  • 1 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup almond and pistachios
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp hemp hearts
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup agave or pure maple syrup Image

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Then add in oil, almond butter, and sweetener of choice and mix well!

Pour onto a baking sheet (I use silicone baking sheets when I make granola, but parchment paper would work!)

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Bake for between 12-20 minutes checking about every 5 minutes and stirring on pan until golden brown! Allow to cool completely before moving into a storage container. ImageImage

Great on top of non dairy yogurt, sprinkled on top of smoothies, or even eaten with some almond milk and fresh fruit! Or straight out of the container as I often do

Enjoy!

Favorite Places.

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I’ll just say it. I love food, specifically organic, local, homegrown food. So it’s no surprise one of my favorite places to go is the Farmer’s Market. I try to keep my schedule open so that every week I can got to the Downtown Santa Cruz Farmer’s market on Wednesday afternoons, try meaning that when it comes time to pick classes for next quarter I schedule them around keeping my Wednesday afternoons free.

Yes. I’m that person. But there’s just something so incredible about connecting with local farmer’s who grew the food with love and care that you will later eat.

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It’s also a fun way to discover new foods! This week I tried my first guava! It was delicious and probably not something I would have tried if the farmer at his fruit stand hadn’t suggested it. Not only are all the free samples at the farmer’s market super awesome and delicious, but they’re also an example of the pride those who grew them take in their fruit and produce.

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It’s pretty special to be in a place where those around me love and appreciate food as much as I do! Not only for it’s deliciousness but also for the way it enriches and fuels our life.

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After the Farmer’s Market I hit up Cafe Gratitude for a smoothie before heading back to campus. I cannot rave about Cafe Gratitude enough! I just love it. The people, the ambiance, the delicious vegan food! I love how creative they are in coming up with dishes and I want to learn all of their vegan culinary secrets. I ended up walking out with their special smoothie of the day: I am Fruitful. Pear, dates, house made almond milk, and vanilla. (P.S. if you’ve never tried popping 1-2 dates in your smoothie try it now! You won’t be disappointed )

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I ogled over their raw dessert case while I waited for my order.

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As soon as I got back to the apartment I promptly started heating up the stove to roast the beautiful beets I picked up at the farmer’s Market.

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Orange Roasted beets are one of my favorites so I got to chopping. The recipe is actually pretty simple!

Orange Roasted Beets

3 large red beets peeled and chopped

2-3 tbsps fresh squeezed orange juice(this time I actually used a mandarin orange so slightly sweeter)

1 tbsp Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 tbsp extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix beets with orange juice, ACV, and EVOO. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and pour beets and marinade onto it. Place in oven and roast for about 35-40 minutes or until beets are easily pierced by fork.

I love these! and Usually make a lot, then store in a Pyrex container to add to salads or eat straight out during the week! They are also great dipped in hummus.

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They also smell great while roasting. I can smell mine right now. Mhmm. They should get me through a long night of reading for my classes. Speaking of reading I should get to it!

*Make time to check out your farmer’s market if your not already a regular at them. They are pretty special places 🙂