Choco Cake Bites [Low Sugar/Vegan/Grain Free]

Happy weekend, y’all!

It’s been awhile since I wrote my last post – apologies for being MIA. Summer is one hell of a chaotic (the good kind of course) ride. And somehow along the way, you lose concept of time because of the summer memories you’re busy creating.

To make it up to you, here’s one of my favourite cake recipes. You know how I do: low sugar, gluten/wheat free, vegan and crap-free.

It’s also a chocolate cake.

That’s how sorry I am.

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Cause chocolate makes everything better, amiright?

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What you’ll need:

1 cup of buckwheat flour

6-7 tbsp of organic raw cacao

1/2 tsp of sea salt

1/2 tsp of baking soda

3/4 cup of organic coconut sugar or granulated xylitol + 3 packets of stevia (adjust to sweet tooth!)

1/4 cup of plain unsweetened coconut yogurt

3/4 cup of unsweetened almond/coconut milk (or filtered water)

1/4 cup of raw almond butter (or Sunbutter if you want it nut-free)

2 tsp of alcohol free vanilla extract

2 tbsp of organic coconut oil + 1 tsp of organic coconut oil for pan greasing

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8″ square pan with 1 tsp of organic coconut oil. Set it aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and use a fork to get rid of any clumps. In a second bowl, bring in nut butter, yogurt, milk, coconut oil and vanilla. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and mix. Do not over mix! Transfer into pan and distribute evenly.

Bake for 22-26 minutes. Remove and let it sit to cool.

For the coconut yogurt icing, you’ll need:

1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut yogurt (or non dairy option – I love using Yoso Coconut Yogurt)

1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract

1-2 pinches of uncut stevia (or 1/4 of organic coconut sugar)

3 tbsp of coconut cream (not oil!)

1 tsp of organic raw cacao

Combine everything in a frosting bowl until completely smooth. Taste and adjust sweetness. Spread icing on the cooled cake, cut into desired square slices and top with sugar free chocolate chips (or carob chips). Nom nom away!

 

Super Lentil Veggie Tacos [Vegan + Bad Fat Free]

Who says taco nights only have to be on Tuesdays?

Secretly, I wish taco night was every night. Taco Monday, Taco Wednesday, Taco Sundays, Taco errrday. These hearty and nourishing tacos were made (on a Saturday) so that I was able to stuff as many tacos in my face without feeling guilty about it.

The trick to making a hearty meatless bunch of tacos is to choose dense ingredients that are deep and rich in flavor – and of course, satisfyingly filling. Think chickpeas, beans, lentils, avocados, sweet potatoes, organic quinoa….the possibilities are endless and delicious!! The goal when loading up your perfect taco is to create an interesting and tasty abundance of flavors and textures. By mixing these ingredients with savory spices and your favourite preservative free fresh salsa you’ll have a crave worthy taco for any night of the week. Not just Tuesdays! You can’t tell, but I’m already drooling.

These tacos are not only vegan, they’re also absolutely bad fat and cholesterol free (cause some fats are good for you) and so substantial that your tummy will thank you. Thought I can’t guarantee that you’ll stop at just eating one. 😉

Warm lentils simmered in crushed minced garlic pair so well with the tangy, mildly spiced salsa by Green Mountain Gringo. They’re salsa is non GMO, versatile and made with natural unprocessed clean ingredients. No sugars, artificial or funky stuff added. See for yourself here!

I chose to use brown lentils as the main base because they’re fulfilling (even for the meat eaters out there) and they offer a plethora of heart health nutrients and vitamins. Being “bad fat free”, these magical legumes also help to lower cholesterol since they contain high levels of soluble fibers. The (soluble and insoluble) dietary fibers found in lentils have also shown to help prevent constipation and other digestive disorders like IBS and diverticulitis. Lentils are also high in good protein, stabilize blood sugars and an excellent source of iron and energy (good carbs).

I’ll now leave you with the recipe of awesomeness. You’re welcome. Happy taco eating!

Green Gringo

What you’ll need:

1 cup of washed and drained whole brown lentils (try not to use canned lentils if you can)

1 medium yellow onion, minced

4-5 garlic cloves, crushed then minced

1/2 large bell pepper, chopped

1/2 tsp of chili powder

2 tsp of cumin powder

2.5 tsp of dried thyme

1/2 tsp of smoked paprika

1 tsp of oregano

Dash of cayenne pepper

1.5 cups of Green Mountain Gringo salsa (medium or hot – your call!)

1 tbsp of lime juice (or lime squeeze)

Heat 1/4 cup of filtered water in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onions for a few minutes until nicely browned and softened. Stir in the minced garlic. Stir for 2 minutes. Throw in bell peppers and spices. Mix well. If the pan starts to dry up a bit, add a few more teaspoons of filtered water. Pour in salsa. Add the washed lentils and stir well to mix. Add enough water to cover the lentils. Bring the lentils to a boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and let lentils cook until they are very tender and fully cooked. Add more water if needed but no more than 1/2 cup at a time. Don’t add too much because you want the lentils to be hearty not liquid-y. Add in lime juice or squeeze one lime over mixture. Stir until well cooked and flavorful to taste. Remove from heat. Assemble organic taco corn shells with raw baby spinach (or any leafy greens of choice) and stuff desired amount of lentil mixture. Top with more salsa. Enjoy!

Quinoa Fried Rice [Vegan + GF]

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Substitute rice with some wholesome protein packed quinoa in this delicious fried rice dish! 

Vegan, sugar free, low sodium, wheat and gluten free, preservative free and soy free. This recipe serves  about 4.

What you’ll need:

1 cup of organic white quinoa (pre soaked)

2 cups of water

1 tbsp of organic pure sesame oil

1 bell pepper, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup of organic green peas or Non GMO organic edamame beans

2 cups of baby spinach

2 tbsp of gluten free tamari sauce (or gluten free low sodium soy sauce)

1/2 tsp of grated fresh ginger

A squeeze of lemon

Optional: a pinch of himalayan or sea salt, cracked black pepper

In a medium pot, bring quinoa and water to a boil. While the quinoa is cooking, chop vegetables.

In a large pan or wok, saute the garlic cloves with the sesame oil on medium to low heat. Add the diced peppers. Cook until softened and fragrant.

Toss in 1 cup of spinach or half the amount of spinach with green peas in pan. Keep the other half raw to add enzymes to dish!

Add in cooked quinoa, grated ginger and gluten free tamari sauce. Stir well to combine.

Serve on the other half of raw baby spinach.

Raw Zucchini Pasta w/ Chunky Vegan Sauce!

I’ve been wanting a spiralizer for quite some time now. But I just don’t have the counter space for it since my gigantic handy blender and can’t- live-without juicer takes up most of it up. Maybe the answer to this is getting a bigger kitchen? 🙂

So as a kind (and surprising!) gift, Tina from Classic Chef sent me the very popular Zyliss Julienne Peeler for my cooking needs. It’s the handy little device that can shred vegetables and fruits into decent strips. I haven’t tried using a spiralizer yet, but this one seems to be doing the trick perfectly well. It’s easy to handle, small enough to store away and pretty good quality. You don’t need to spend big bucks on spiralizing tools either since this gadget is easy on the wallet (approx 10 bucks!)

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So what’s the deal with wanting to tatter my food up anyway? For one, I try to keep my dishes grain free (gluten free as well) so this means cutting out carbs when possible and sticking to whole plant based dishes. This doesn’t mean I deprive myself of the awesome-ness of the psuedo grains like organic quinoa, buckwheat or the occasional whole grain brown rice! However, it’s easy to eat more of these carbs as the main part of the dish and then subconsciously eat less vegetables. So moderation and balance is key. Whether you want to lose some stubborn weight, improve your blood chemistry, increase your energy levels or get more vitamin intake, making some meals grain free can help you to achieve that. This means filling the place of (hopefully gluten free) breads, pastas and brown rice dishes with a favourite vegetable like zucchinis and sweet potatoes and preparing them in the same delicious way.

Pasta is one of my favourite dishes EVER. If I could eat it everyday, I would. Oodles of noodles and a rich creamy tomato sauce always hits the spot. I’m sure it does for a lot of people too! I’ll usually make it with organic brown rice pasta or Explore Asia mung bean noodles and both would do the trick. Of course, too much of a good thing is never good. So thanks to my handy dandy Julienne peeler, I am able to shred vegetables like zucchinis and cucumbers to pasta shaped noodles. So not only do I cut the carbs and calories down by a heck of a whole lot by making it grain free, I also get more doses of healthy greens onto my plate. The key to not compromising the taste of this grain free pasta dish: a kick ass flavorful chunky vegan sauce to go on top of the zucchini noodles!

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Vegan, grain free, wheat free, gluten free, preservative free, soy free, protein rich delicious-ness! 

As they say in Italy: Buon Appetito!

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What you’ll need:

Spiralized or peeled zucchini – try to keep it raw to take in full plant based enzymes

Sauce

2 cups of organic crushed tomatoes

1 cup of sodium free chickpeas or soaked/cooked garbanzo beans

1/2 cup of chopped bell peppers

1 cup of diced dinosaur kale

1 tsp of 100% tomato paste

1 tsp of dried oregano

1 tsp of dried basil

1 tsp of coriander

1 tsp of dried thyme

1 tsp of organic coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup of yellow onion, minced

Black pepper and himalayan salt to taste

In a small pot, heat oil and diced onions for a few minutes until golden brown on medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 5 minutes or until softened and translucent. Add chickpeas and mix well. Coat the tomato paste and crushed tomatoes over. Let cook for a minute or two. Throw over all spices. Combine well. Lower heat. Add bell peppers and kale and stir. Adjust to taste.

Pour sauce over peeled zucchini noodles and top with cracked black pepper. Devour.

 

Sugar Free Salsa + Baked Tortilla Chips

“Life without Mexican food is like no life at all.” – Unknown 

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I couldn’t agree more! Known for their array of picante (or muy caliente!) dishes and the use of tomatoes, beans, different rices, hot peppers, and spices, Mexican food, regardless of heritage, is one the most beloved and hottest cuisines on the market. Ask the average North American if they like Mexican, and they’ll probably tell you they had it last week. 🙂 But moderation is always key to optimal health. Believe me, if I could have it everyday, I would. And I have, once upon time (aka the time when I ate just cheese in “lacto ovo vegetarian” diet!)

One of my favourite Mexican past time snacks to have is a good bowl of tortilla chips and spicy salsa! Mmmmm.

The problem? It can be unhealthy especially the Westernized Mexican kind! If you go to any Mexican restaurant (even “Chipotle!”) or buy commercial products like Ol El Paso, you are most likely to consume genetically modified engineered products. Yuck! Everything is made or fried with highly refined canola, corn or vegetable oil and a large percentage of it has been likely derived from genetically engineered crops. How it it even remotely possible to go to a Mexican restaurant and NOT have those enticing, savory chips, tortillas and salsas as appetizers?! It won’t be an enjoyable time if you avoid it, that’s for sure!

Most people have probably been alarmed about the negative health effects that GMO products, such as corn, or at least have heard about these 3 letters. Whether you’re against it, don’t care about it or like me, urging companies to label GMO, your best option for most food is to try and buy organic, local products that have the least amount of additives, preservatives and sugars – or in it’s most natural form (like veggies/fruits).

While I’m sure there are restaurants and companies that offer Mexican products with healthy ingredients, the safest and most enjoyable way is by making your own! You can avoid the added table salt sodium, pesky SUGARS, gluten, high fructose corn syrups, artificial flavors and colors and other “nasties” with just a few simple natural ingredients. If the idea of making salsa and chips intimidates you, be not afraid! After 15 minutes, I created the most delicious and rewarding salsa ever! Let’s face it peeps, buying organic, local, sugar free salsa from your local health store can be expensive especially if it’s a staple part of your fridge.

The baked tortilla chips is ridiculously easy to make as well. This requires you to buy the bestest oil free organic corn tortillas in the world. 🙂 Food For Life‘s Sprouted Corn Tortillas is the one I often use. You can get them at your local health store or Loblaws for about $3.99 and it’s the perfect, nourishing base for all of your Mexican dishes.

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Shall we Salsa? Ole! 

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What you’ll need:

Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips

5 organic corn tortillas (sprouted is best!)

Pinch of cayenne pepper, chili powder and/or cumin powder

Optional: virgin coconut oil for light coating

Preheat oven to 350 F. Break a tortilla into 4 triangular slices by folding it in half – twice – to resemble chips. Repeat for other tortillas.

Dust with seasoning.

Spread on a lined cookie sheet and bake for 7 minutes until lightly brown and crispy. Remove from oven and let cool.

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Enjoy this salsa with your homemade baked tortilla chips, during taco nights or on top of my healthy soy free vegan scrambled eggs. You can double the batch and store the rest in tightly sealed jars for future uses. Using the most ripe tomatoes will make your salsa more vibrant and delicious. My lovely neighbour has a lovely garden in her backyard where she’s been growing her own vegetables all summer. She came by the other day to generously give me 10 beautiful full grown tomatoes which made my salsa so much more succulent and fruitful. I dedicate this recipe to her. x

Sugar Free Salsa

6 organic/local tomatoes

1 red bell pepper

1-2 organic tomatillo

1/2 small yellow onion

1/2 jalapeno

1/4 red chili pepper

2 tbsp of coriander powder or crushed coriander

Squeeze of lime

Squeeze of lemon

3 tbsp of tomato paste or crushed tomatoes

2 tbsp of organic raw apple cider vinegar

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp of chili powder

1 garlic clove, minced

Pepper to taste

Coconut oil for frying

Preheat oven to 300 F. Cut tomatoes and tomatillo in half and remove core/stem. Place them all on a lined oven tray.

Cut the bell pepper into strips and place them on the tray with the tomatoes. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the skin of the tomatoes come off easily and the bell pepper slices are soft.

In a skillet or pan, heat coconut oil and cook chopped onions and minced garlic until translucent or lightly brown. Try not to burn them. Keep on low heat if necessary. Add cumin, chili powder, coriander, cayenne and black pepper. Stir!

Once tomatoes and tomatillos are cooked, carefully remove skins and transfer the soft tomato flesh to the heated pan. Chop the baked pepper strips and toss into pan and mix well. Add tomato paste/crushed tomatoes, lemon and lime squeezes, ACV, chopped jalapenos and red chili pepper. Stir well and cook for another 15 minutes on medium heat. Stir, stir, stir!

Transfer salsa onto a bowl and keep the rest in an airtight jar. Enjoy with homemade healthy baked chips.

 

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