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Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta

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Tangy. Savory. Spicy. Sweet. Man. Oh. Man. 

This pesto is insane - all you need is a blender and a few minutes and you're on your way to a super impressive plant-based pesto pasta dinner. Actually, I don't know if you can call this a pesto, I'm not going to google what constitutes one so, please, don't call the pesto police on me. Anyway, this, ahem, SAUCE  is one for the books...and by books I mean blog. 

I've heard a lot of talk about bean-based creamy sauces lately which are a lower-fat alternative to the overtly rich and oh-so-popular nut based vegan sauces. Using beans as a base means your sauce is inherently high in protein aka really filling which is always great and I could totally see how a soft, white bean would create a really nice base for many different flavors.

After some disappointing experimentation, I decided to pair the beans with sweet sun-dried tomatoes, red chili flake and fire-roasted red pepper for a multi-layered flavor parade - sweet, acidic, smokey, spicy and slightly 'cheezy' thanks to the holy-grail combination of nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar and cashews. 

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This sauce is super well rounded and it tastes good on everything - not just pasta but is magic when enrobing linguine and the like. The recipe makes enough sauce for two meals so be sure to save the extra for tomorrow's dinner - just see my tip about thinning it out below!

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Take a stab at this one and let me know what you think!

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Serves: 2-4 • Prep Time: 10 minutes • Cook Time: 10 minutes


  • 1 can low sodium white/canilleni beans
  • 1/2 cup packed oil free sun-dried tomatoes (I used Trader Joe's dry-packed variety)
  • 1/4 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 whole red pepper, roasted on a gas stovetop OR 1/2 jar of roasted red peppers in water, drained
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 low sodium veggie boullion
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar, more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. chili flakes, salt and pepper
  • 2-2 1/2 cups water, plus more if you like a thinner sauce

1. Add all of the ingredients to a high speed blender but hold back half the water. Use a tamper to ensure an even blend and stop a few times to scrape down the sides. 

2. Once fully blended, add in the other half of the water. Check for desired consistency and flavor profile - adjust as needed.  Blend again until fully smooth.

NOTE: The sauce will thicken up a bit as it sits, I used some of the cooking liquid from the pasta to thin it out when preparing the dish but I did notice upon reheating the leftover sauce the next day that I had to add a significant amount of water just to get it back to the right consistency. If re-heating, Just play it on the safe side, adding a little water at a time - that way you won't risk over-thinning the sauce. If the sauce does come out too thin, simply bring to a low simmer on the stove for 5-10 minutes to allow it to reduce slightly. 


1. Cook the pasta according to packaged directions. Drain and rinse the pasta with cold water (skip the rinse if using regular pasta), carefully reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid in a small cup or dish.

2. In a large shallow pot, steam the spinach and tomatoes in a small amount of water until the tomatoes begin to release their juices and the spinach is fully wilted.

NOTE: I added the tomatoes in first, cooking for about 3 minutes before adding the spinach as it wilts so quickly.

3. Once the vegetables are cooked, turn the heat to low and add in your pasta, cooking liquid and half the sauce - stirring gently to pull the sauce and veggies through the noodles. 

4. Plate up the pasta and top with nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan. 

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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GF Breakfast Baked Fruit Crumble - Ginger Berry Peach

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I am in a self admitted breakfast rut. I eat the same oatmeal dish almost everyday - and honestly, I love it, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't give new things a try. Recently I was cleaning out my freezer and found some beautiful peaches and berries which inspired the base of this recipe. It's the perfect fresh take on breakfast for those mornings where you can to take a little more time to sip your coffee, cuddle with your partner or pet and smell the fragrant scent of this dish baking slowly in the oven. The warm fruit enveloped in a spicy, sweet crumble is sure to fill you up with what you need to conquer the day.

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The slow roasting of berries and peaches allows them to slowly create a naturally sweet syrup that blends perfectly with the deliciously healthy crumble topping. The hints of ginger, vanilla and cardamom add to the addictive nature of this nourishing breakfast and will leave you dreaming of all the different fruit combinations that would be lovely here.

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While crumbles are usually a dessert item, I worked hard to ensure that the topping was both as healthy and delicious as it could be - nutty, gluten free buckwheat flour, hearty oats, low glycemic coconut sugar, and rich almond flour.

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I love this dish because it makes me slow down and truly enjoy - I hope it does the same for you.


Serves: 2-4 • Prep Time: 7 minutes • Cook Time: 30-40 minutes


Fruit

  • 1 16 oz. bag frozen peaches
  • 1 16 oz. bag frozen mixed berries
  • 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger

NOTE: Obviously the fruit combination above is just a suggestion. You can use any combination of your favorite fruits - fresh or frozen. I used frozen fruit in this particular recipe so the baking time suggestions below are relative to the temperature and type of fruit you choose but it would be a great way to use up fresh fruit that is starting to go off. Just keep an eye on it after the 20 minute mark and you should be all good!

Other great fruit combinations:

  • Pears + fresh cranberries
  • Mango + raspberries
  • Apples + blackberries

Crumble (double this recipe if you like a lot of crumble)

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flour (or other gluten free flour)
  • 1/4 cup sticky sweetener (maple syrup, agave, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup room temperature coconut oil (if avoiding oil you can try the same amount of mashed banana)
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. pink salt

Toppings

  • Plant based yogurt
  • Warming spices
  • Toasted nuts
  • Sliced banana

1. Preheat the oven to 375*F

2. Prepare your fruit - if frozen, remove from the freeze and allow to defrost for a few minutes. If fresh, dice into even sized pieces if nessesary.

3. In a shallow glass baking dish, combine your fruit and sprinkle over the grated ginger - toss well. 

4. In a medium sized bowl combine all of the topping ingredients using your fingers to fully incorporate the solid coconut oil - the mixture should have the consistency of wet sand. 

5. Press the crumble over the fruit, packing it down slightly so that it settles into the nooks and crannies. 

6. Pop the dish into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the fruit below is soft and juicy. 

7. Allow to cool slighly before spooning into bowls and topping with whatever you so choose - my favorite is a little vanilla soy yogurt. 

 

LIMITLESS LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Crisp + Chewy Orange Vanilla Granola Bars - Chocolate Covered!

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Does the smell of fresh oranges remind anyone else of the holidays? Growing up my mom...I mean, Santa, would always top our stocking with a fresh, juicy orange, and we had to eat it before we could open any gifts. That unmistakable citrusy scent takes me directly to Christmas morning, especially when paired with sweet spices like vanilla and cardamom. So when planning recipes for the holidays I knew orange had to be involved... but I wanted it to be something totally unique.

Now, I make your standard, pour-and-go granola at home pretty often - it's cheaper than store bought, super quick and I can make any flavor I want. But when I recently went make a fresh batch I realized I haven't EVER made a granola bar recipe on the blog! That had to change. While regular granola is great for a quick breakfast or snack these are even more on-the-go efficient and better for gifting (food makes the best gifts, right?). Naturally sweetened, filled with healthy ingredients and scented with the elegant combination of vanilla and orange - these granola bars will leave your sweet tooth satisfied anytime. They are the perfect mid-point between crispy and chewy so they will satisfy everyone's preference and if the texture doesn't do it, the chocolate coating certainly will.

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This recipe also makes a great base for different flavors - once you get the hang of the method and proportions you can easily omit and sub in the nuts, buckwheat, orange zest and vanilla and mix in your favorite flavors - like coconut, chocolate, cinnamon, etc. 

Let me know if you give them a try!

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Serves: 12 large granola bars/24 small • Total Time: 45 minutes 


Dry Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups oats
  • 1/4 cut buckwheat groats (or sub more oats)
  • 1 cup slivered raw almonds
  • 1 cup packed and pitted dates, dried apricots or any combination of the two

Wet Ingredients

  • Rounded 1/4 cup almond butter or other neutral nut/seed butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or agave 
  • 1 tsp. fresh orange zest
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (using the seeds from a vanilla bean would be INCREDIBLE here)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp. ground flax seeds

Chocolate Coating (optional)

  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil 

Toppings: sea salt, orange zest, almonds, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, etc.


1. Preheat your oven to 350*F. On a parchment lined sheet pan, mix together the oats, buckwheat and silvered almonds - add to the oven and toast dry for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Check often and toss with a spatula to make sure no over browning occurs. 

NOTE: If your almonds are already toasted, add them in after this step.

2. While the mixture is toasting, use a food processor to puree together the dates/apricots until there are no more large chunks of fruit and it forms into a mass. 

NOTE: I used a combination of dates and apricots for this recipe. If you do plan to use all apricots or another dried fruit (raisins and figs should work quite well), make sure they are quite moist. If you notice that they are a bit dry you can soak your fruit in boiling water for about an hour and drain before adding to the food processor - that should do the trick. 

3. In a small sauce pan on low heat combine the wet ingredients - almond butter, maple syrup and pureed dried fruit. Break up the dried fruit and stir with a whisk or spatula until the entire mixture becomes well blended. Turn off the heat and add orange zest, vanilla, salt and cardamom. 

4. When the oat mixture comes out of the oven, let it cool slightly before transferring to a bowl and add in the wet ingredients. Stir until well combined, then add the chia and flax seeds, stirring once more.

5. Re-line your sheet pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with coconut oil spray. Dump the granola mixture onto the pan and press it into a thin, compact, even layer with a spatula or your hands.

TIP: To prevent a huge mess you can dampen your palms and fingers with water or coconut oil when pressing the granola into the pan - it will prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands.

6. For a toasted taste and crisp yet chewy texture, add the granola back into the oven for 15 minutes, checking often. When you remove the granola from the oven you want it to be golden brown and slightly darker at the edges. 

7. Allow the granola to come to room temperature before moving the entire sheet pan to the freezer for at least a half hour (or overnight) to firm up. 

8. When you're ready to slice and coat your granola in chocolate remove the pan from the freezer and use a sharp knife to cut the granola into the shape and size of your choosing (I opted for 12 large squares here). 

9. Melt the chocolate and coconut oil together in a small sauce pan on low heat or in the microwave in 20 second intervals. Once you have a smooth mixture, coat half or all of each granola square with the hot chocolate and place them on another parchment lined plate or sheet pan.

10. Sprinkle the chocolate coating with toppings if desired and then add the bars back into the freezer to set up for at least 10 minutes. 

These bars store well in the fridge or freezer for up to two weeks! 

 

LIMITLESS LOVE,  LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

 

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Super-charged Gingerbread Coffee

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It's my favorite time of year again - cool days, warm drinks, getting cozy and using the quiet time to reflect and plan ahead (any other crazy calendar organizers in the house?!). I know this isn't everyone's favorite season but hey, at least there's this recipe for a vegan gingerbread latte to get you through the months ahead.

Naturally sweetened, no refined oils, healthy fats and a flavor to rival any coffee shop concoction - you are gonna love this simple treat that keeps you fuller for longer, provides a boost of nutrition and gives you the warm holiday fuzzies. 

When living in Los Angeles I was only a few blocks away from the original Bulletproof coffee shop and while I see the appeal of giving yourself a blast of healthy fats to keep you full I wasn't really into the texture that coconut oil gave my coffee - not to mention, it was literally $8 for a small cup. Fast forward a few years later and these 'super-charged' coffees are on every street corner and in kitchens around the globe so needless to say I have been itching to throw my hat in the right with the perfect vegan version. Now, one of my major hang ups with the original was that it lacked flavor - I mean, common, if I am going to pay $8 for a cup of coffee I'd rather get some ridiculous sugary thing that is obviously no good for you but is good to the last drop. So when I saw that gingerbread lattes were back at Starbucks, I thought to myself "Gingerbread! Now THAT'S the perfect way to get both nutrition and seasonal flavor into one cup". 

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Here's what we got going on:

Blackstrap molasses - loaded with vitamins and minerals and its also a critical part of the flavor profile in this cup. 

Dates - a natural sweetener that also adds to the creamy, frothy texture

Ginger - an obvious addition for flavor but it's also great for gut health

Maca powder - a great addition as it really adds to the flavor profile but also provides you with extra energy and hormone balancing powder

Almond butter - a heathy source of fat that keeps you full and makes the whole drink creamy as can be

I am not a huge fan of refined fats like oils which is why I didn't use coconut oil or anything - I just don't get why refined sugar gets such a bad wrap but refined fats do not. Of course natural fat is essential but why are we eating it in such concentrated doses? Anyway, this is a rant for another time.

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While testing this recipe I didn't tell my boyfriend what the flavor was supposed to be mimicking and he guessed right away - so it's pretty spot on and I am excited for you to try it! 

Let me know what you think! 

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Serves: 2 large cups • Prep Time: 10 minutes 


  • 3 cups strongly brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup plant milk (use soy or coconut milk if you're looking for maximum creaminess)
  • 2 large medjool dates, pits removed
  • 1.5 tbsp. nut butter (I used MaraNatha almond butter here, my favorite!)
  • 1 tsp. blackstrap molases
  • 1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon or pumpkin spice blend
  • 1/2 tsp. maca powder
  • pinch sea salt
  • optional addition: protein powder (I did not add any but imagine that that this would make the ultimate post-workout snack)

1. Brew your coffee in a french press and let it steep for 8-10 minutes so you get a strong flavor, you could also make espresso if you're fancy like that. 

2. Add the hot coffee to a blender along with the rest of the ingredients and blend for 1 minute on the highest setting until the beverage is creamy and frothy. 

NOTE: This type of beverage is best made in a high speed blender with a vented top for the steam to escape. If you're using a blender with a screw on bottom (nurtibullet) you'll have to cool your coffee first as there is no vents for the steam to escape - which could result in a molten hot explosion. Yikes. 

3. Pour into a mug of your choice and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon or allow to cool slightly and pour over ice. 

 

LIMITLESS LOVE, 

LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Fall Salad with Roasted Kabocha Squash and Creamy Dressing

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This is my go to Fall Salad! It's an all around winner, the perfect combination of flavors, textures and ingredients. If you don't like salads or struggle to eat them, you need to try this recipe. I have been eating it at least a few times a week for the past few weeks and it's safe to say I am addicted, sometimes having a variation for both lunch and dinner. Even though theres some chopping and roasting involved, the whole thing comes together pretty simply and I love that I can prep most of the ingredients ahead of time. I usually eat it as full-on-entree not a side but this would be great to bring to a party or other dinner gathering as it makes a gorgeous presentation.

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My favorite thing about this salad is it's nutritional density and flavor combinations - a complete and healthy meal for sure! Dark leafy greens, filling carbs from the kabocha squash, a boost of protein from the chic peas and healthy fats from the creamy tahini mustard dressing. The addition of tart, dried cherries and pumkin seeds only adds to the healthy benefits (pumpkin seeds are antimicrobial and tart cherries are known to be a natural pain killer)

If you haven't tried kabocha squash you are seriously missing out for a few reasons. One, the texture is my absolute favorite in the squash kingdom - once cooked its soft, creamy and almost custard like. Two, the flavor is sweet but not over powering and three, you don't have to peel it  - yes, you can 100% eat the skin - lazy people rejoice! I've always had luck finding kabocha in my local markets but I didn't always know of it's existence - if you're looking it's dark green with lighter vertical stripes, a round flat shape and a thick stem - it sort of looks like an acorn squash on steroids. I eat this type of squash regularly (in curries, over rice or plain as a snack), I've tried to prepare them many ways but the bake-steam method I detail below is my all-time favorite - especially when seasoned with fall spices. Yum!

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Most salads I make are drizzled with some version of the dressing recipe in this post - it's just the perfect creamy style dressing that taste good on pretty much anything. Make sure you use a high quality, authentic Israeli or Middle Eastern brand of tahini because some of the conventional brands are too thick and taste a bit bitter. You will love it drizzled atop any fresh veg (I particularly love it on tomatoes)  and when you take a bite that includes all of the goodies in this salad, you will know why I haven't been able to eat much else for the past few weeks. 

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The thing about salads is this - you can totally make swaps for all of these ingredients - can't find kabocha, use butternut squash. Don't like tomatoes? Use another veggie instead. Out of pumpkin seeds? Use sunflower seeds or walnuts! Want more? Bulk it up with quinoa, rice or another grain. I often hesitate when writing a recipe for a salad because it can be so straightforward and intuitive but this one is totally worth it!


Serves: 1 large salad, 2 side salads • Prep Time: 30-40 minutes 


Sweet roasted Kabocha Squash

  • 1/2 small kabocha squash, cleaned, de-seeded and cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup 
  • 1 tbsp. pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup water

1. Preheat your oven to 425*F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil. Clean, de-seed and dice the kabocha squash (remember you can eat the skin of this particular squash) and transfer the squash to your sheet pan. 

2. Sprinkle on salt, spices and maple syrup - toss to combine and spread the squash out in an even layer on the pan. Place the pan in the oven and carefully pour 1/4 cup water over the top - this will help the squash cook without oil, leaving the pieces tender and slightly crisp on the outside.

3. Roast the squash for 20-25 minutes until desired done-ness is reached. 

4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool fully before serving on the salad


Roasted Spiced Chic peas

  • Can of chic peas, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 tsp. garam masala spice blend
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

1. Preheat your oven to 425*F (I recommend doing it at the same time as the squash since they cook at the same temperature) and line and baking sheet with parchment paper

2. Drain and rinse a can of chic peas (I always go for the low-sodium variety) and use a paper towel or tea towel to lightly press some of the dampness off the beans

3. Transfer to the sheet pan and sprinkle with spices and salt - toss to combine

4. Add the chic peas to the oven and roast for apx. 10-15 minutes. The end result with be crisp on the outside and still soft inside - I love this texture but you could roast them longer to get them fully crunchy-crisp - just watch them carefully so they don't burn.


Creamy Mustard Tahini Dressing

  • 1/4 cup good quality tahini
  • 2 tbsp. grainy mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp. maple syrup, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar (you can also try using balsamic, just add a bit more to get the right acid balance)
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (try fresh orange juice if you like a sweeter dressing)
  • 2 - 4 tbsp. water
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, salt

1. In a mason jar or bowl add all ingredients (except water) and whisk together till well combined.

2. Slowly add water 1 tbsp. at a time till a rich-creamy-drizzel-able consistency is reached. You can store this in your fridge for up to two weeks, and it is good on everything so I reccomend making a double batch!

NOTE: If you have ever made tahini dressing before you will know that it thickens up FAST! I can make a batch with perfect consistency one minute and the next it is wayyyy to thick so you may have to whisk in a bit more water right before pouring it over the salad. If you are making it in advance, always know that you'll have to thin it out when taking it out of the fridge. This is a total win-win thought because this stuff can really stretch!


The Salad Components

  • A healthy few handfuls of any greens you like - I especially love asian mix, baby kale or arugula
  • A generous sprinkle of pumpkin seeds
  • A few Roma tomatoes, cut into half moon slices
  • Cucumber, cut into  half moon slices
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries

1. To assemble the salad place a bed of lettuce in a large shallow bowl and toss with a squeeze of lemon juice

2. Chop your fresh veggies and lay them on top, then place some of your cooled squash and  chic peas over the salad (you will have left overs which is great). 

3. Next, sprinkle on the dried cherries and pumpkin seeds. 

4. Finally, drizzle the dressing across the top (you will have a bit extra left over, which I use for dipping).

 

Here's to eating food that feels good!

LIMITLESS LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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WFPB Vegan Queso

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WFPB Vegan Queso

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That's right! It's the moment you've been waiting for WHOLE FOOD PLANT BASED VEGAN QUESO that tastes just like the creamy, spicy queso you remember from back in the day. 

The most popular recipe on my blog to date is my low-fat vegan cheese sauce and that does not surprise me in the least - it's easy, pretty much fool proof, super healthy and CRAZY good. When I first heard that you could make a creamy, 'cheeze' sauce out of vegetables I didn't believe it but when I finally perfected my own, I swear, I almost heard angels singing - I danced around my kitchen, called myself a genius as I kept eating the stuff off the spoon (much to the deep, external embarrassment of my boyfriend). In the past I was a huge cheese lover and although I can't say I have craved real cheese since becoming vegan, this is a recipe I make time and time again when I want something super comforting. 

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This spicy, creamy, south-of-the-border version is probably my favorite variation yet AND its even SIMPLER than the original! The mouth feel and flavor profile are unreal and even the biggest cheese lover wouldn't think twice about double dipping into this plant-based-bowl. 

In my original 'cheeze' sauce recipe I use a tiny bit of hummus to give the mixture a creamy, savory kick. I love using hummus as a lighter alternative to the usual nut-based vegan cheeses which can honestly leave most people feeling a little too full because of their calorically dense nature. This time around I use tahini (aka sesame seed butter, aka the base of most hummus) to create a smooth, silky texture that cannot be beat. I also didn't add any turmeric in this variation - it is used to give the sauce a 'cheese-like' color but I think the combo of carrots and red pepper do the trick here. 

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Again - This sauce is actually good for you - it is just veggies, nutritional yeast, sesame seeds and some seasoning but when combined it turns into something all it's own that will seriously have your head spinning. 

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Give it a try and let me know how you like it!


Serves: 4-6 people (as a dip) • Prep Time: 10 minutes • Cook Time: 15 minutes 


  • 1 large idaho gold/yellow potato, roughly diced
  • 2 small carrots, roughly roughly diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, roughly diced (bonus points and a more smokey flavor if you slightly char the pepper on your stovetop or grill first)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, roughly diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, whole
  • 1 low sodium veggie bouillon (optional, can omit or use vegetable stock instead)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp. of your favorite hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp. good, runny tahini (like this brand)
  • roughly 1/3 cup vegetable cooking liquid
  • Salt or coconut aminos to taste
  • 1/2 jar of your favorite salsa

1. Chop the potato, carrots, red pepper, onion and add to a pot along with your garlic and veggie boullion. Add enough water (or veggie stock if you don't have veggie bouillion cubes) to cover the vegetables about half way - turn the heat to medium high and cook till the vegetables to become soft enough to easily pierce with a fork, apx. 10 minutes. 

2. Once tender, add the vegetables and 1/3 of the cooking liquid to a high speed blender along with nutritional yeast, hot sauce, tahini and salt. Blend on high till the mixture becomes fully smooth and creamy, you will have to use a spatula or your tamper (Vitamix peeps) along with way. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

NOTE: Yes I want you to blend everything while it's still very HOT. I highly recommend using a high speed blender (with vents) but if you are using a conventional blender (or nutri-bullet type device) let the mixture cool down a bit before blending to prevent an explosion.

3. Transfer the cheezy mixture into a sauce pan and heat at medium-low just until the mixture begins to bubble and thicken slightly, apx. 3 minutes. 

4. Once warmed through, stir in half a jar (or more if you prefer) of your favorite salsa.

PRO TIP: As much as I love fresh style salsas like 'pico de gallo', I would caution against using them in this recipe - they are a bit too watery and will thin out your sauce too much - instead opt for a can of 'thick' style salsa from the Latin section of the grocery store - my favorite brand is Green Mountain Gringo which I can't get in California but, whatever, I make do. 

5. Serve warm with homemade corn chips, on a burrito bowl, in a quesadilla, as a nacho topping, in tacos, in a wrap...you get the idea, this stuff goes great with EVERYTHING. 

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Healthy & Delicious Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Whole foods, plant based, gluten free, no oil, no refined sugar and just-like-the-original chocolate chip cookies. I swear, if you love crispy yet chewy chocolate chip cookies these will leave you 100% satisfied and if  they don't then, well, I don't know what to do for you!

I've probably only had plant based cookies once or twice since going vegan but I had always wanted to come up with my own recipe for chocolate chip cookies I wouldn't feel bad about eating - and now that I've done it, I'm just stuck wondering ...what was I waiting for?! 

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This recipe was a total experiment and I didn't know if it was going to work out. I used no guidelines except for the classic tollhouse cookie recipe I know by heart (I make 8 dozen every week at my day job). My main inspiration was that I finally wanted to use aquafaba in a recipe as an egg replacer and wooo-weeee that stuff is magic! I also love the texture that the combination of oat, quinoa, chia and almond flour gives the cookie - crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside chocolate chip cookie that you can eat the whole batch of and not feel bad about. Enjoy!

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P.S - As with most batters, It's worth noting that the raw cookie dough is just as good as the baked cookies themselves and it's totally safe to eat because there's no eggs! 


Serves: Apx. 18 cookies • Prep Time: 10 min • Cook Time: 12 min


  • 1.5 cups GF oats, blended into flour
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, blended into flour
  • 1/4 cup almonds, blended into flour
  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup/other liquid sweetener
  • 1.5 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup aquafaba (aka the liquid from a can of chic peas)
  • 3-4 tbsp. plant milk
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt, vanilla extract and cinnamon (all optional)
  • 3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used the mini's from the brand Enjoy Life)

1. Preheat your oven to 375*F. Add oats, quinoa, almond and chia seeds in a high speed blender and blend until a fine, flour like consistency is reached. Pour the flour mixture into a large bowl.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine.

NOTE: Start with one or two tablespoons of plant milk and increase in tbsp. increments till you reach a stiff classic-cookie-dough consistency. 

NOTE: You don't have to worry about over-mixing because there's no gluten!

3. Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet sprayed with a teensy bit of coconut oil. Before baking, flatten out the cookies slightly and leave about a 1" diameter around each cookie.

4. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes, checking at the 10 minute mark. 

5. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes before enjoying. 

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Tofu 'Satay' Thai Lettuce Cups with Spicy Peanut Sauce

An easy, fresh lunch or dinner that satisfies that craving for something a little out of the ordinary. When I am feeling in a rut with my food choices I like to change up the way I eat salads - and these lettuce cups totally do the trick. By simply shifting lettuce from a "thing in a bowl" to a crispy vehicle for peanut-y tofu-y cashew-y goodness can make all the difference.

The recipe is inspired by my friend (and house mate) Mimi who totally does not give herself enough credit in the kitchen - shes a genius and she inspires so many of my dishes. She said the basis for this recipe was conceived on a whim while rolling through the isles of Trader Joe's - and if you ask me, it is a total masterpiece. When she first made it for us one night I couldn't help but eat more than my share - lol - sorry, Mimi. 

And....I hate to brag but by no exaggeration this peanut sauce is the best around. The recipe actually makes a much larger batch than you might wish to use here but I have a feeling you will be wanting more - it's great over any fresh salad, tofu dish, or even spread onto bread as the beginnings of the best Thai-influenced sandwich. Not to mention, it's made with PB2 powder which has 80% less fat than peanut butter so you can eat A LOT without feeling weighed down.

Okay, enough talk, scroll on down and make this recipe for yourself. Let me know how you like it in the comments! 


Serves: 2 • Prep Time: 15 minutes • Cook Time: 6 minutes


 

For the Lettuce Cups/Filling

  • 1-2 heads of bib or butter lettuce (romaine will also work great)
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, sliced in .5" cubes
  • 1/2 red fresh onion, diced finely
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced finely
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews, chopped
  • handful mint or cilantro (optional)

Satay Thai Peanut Sauce

  • 1/2 cup PB2 powder
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. hot sauce of choice (I use Sriracha)
  • 2 tbsp. coconut sugar or other sweetener
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup water, depending on desired thickness
  • salt & pepper to taste

1. Mix together your satay sauce in a small bowl or mason jar (the amount is way too much for this recipe but, I am betting you'll want more)

2. Prep your veggies by washing the lettuce cups and delicately separating the leaves, dicing the onion and red pepper and mincing the fresh herbs. 

3. Sautee your cubed tofu in a dry shallow pan, allowing it to slightly brown each side (this takes about 1-2 minutes per side). Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly.

4. Once the tofu is slightly cool, add it to a bowl and pour in about 1/2 cup of the peanut sauce. Give it a stir till well combined and then add in your fresh herbs, cashews, red onion and pepper. 

5. Spoon the mixture into the lettuce cups and enjoy with extra peanut sauce on the side!

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

 

 

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Chocolate Quinoa Crispy Bars

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It probably comes as no surprise but, I've had Halloween on my mind for quite a while now. Every year I talk about what I am going to be for a solid three months - in August it is always something super specific, extravagant and pricey, in September I have 100 new ideas that are slightly more "practical" and by October 30th, well, I usually panic due to my poor planing and end up being nothing at all. Anyone else? 

Now, if there is something I don't have trouble committing to, its making healthy versions of halloween treats. I am a sweets junkie - but as a plant based vegan I have made it a goal to create as many "feel good" candy recipes as I can that will have even the most sugar-addicted among us totally satisfied. 

This one is a HIT! My quinoa crispy bar is a take on rice crispy treats but with an elevated palate, a killer crunch and a pretty wonderful ingredients list. Everyone who has sampled these has loved them and I fully intend on making them for Halloween - and you should too!

Note: Puffed quinoa can be hard to find in the states, but I found a bulk bag on Amazon that I totally love (link below). 

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Makes: apx. 12 3"x3" bars • Prep Time: 15 min • Total Time: 2 hr 15 min


Base

  • 3/4 cup of any nut butter 
  • 3/4 maple syrup 
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil 
  • 3 cups puffed quinoa or sub puffed rice
  • 3/4 cup oat bran

Chocolate Ganache

  • 2, 3oz. bars of vegan chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup full fat canned coconut cream 

1. In a medium saucepan combine the nut butter, maple syrup and coconut oil until fully melted.

2. Allow the above mixture to cool slightly on the stovetop while adding the puffed quinoa and oat bran to a large bowl.

3. Pour the nut butter mixture over the quinoa mixture and stir until fully coated. Transfer to a parchment lined rimmed baking dish and firmly press it out into an even layer using the back of a spatula. 

4. Before placing in the freezer, place another piece of parchment on top and gently press down on the mixture using your palm to further help compact it. Allow to chill for at least 1 hour. 

5. Chop two 3 oz. chocolate bars and add to a small sauce pan with the coconut cream - heat gently while stirring frequently until the chocolate is fully melted. 

6. Remove the quinoa base from the freezer and pour the chocolate over in a smooth, even layer and place the whole thing back in the freezer for another hour to fully set up. 

NOTE: You can double the chocolate ganache recipe for a thicker chocolate layer, but I think the ratio works out quite nicely here.

7. After freezing, slice the frozen bars into any shape you like using a very sharp knife. You may let the bars de-frost for a few minutes but please enjoy them cold (they get a little crumbly otherwise). Store in the freezer in an airtight container for up to a few weeks.  

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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7 Whole Foods I Eat Everyday: Autumn Edition

While I totally believe in "eating the rainbow" year round (no, I don't mean skittles, I mean a broad range of diverse plant foods) to feel balanced, sustained and healthy most of us are creatures of habit when it comes to daily meals. I love to experiment in the kitchen but if I am being honest, I have my "go-to" diet staples that help me feel nourished and fully satisfied day in and day out. I base my diet around these "bulk" foods and I keep things interesting by I changing up how I prepare them and what I eat them with. Doing this honestly and intuitively (i.e - changing it up when a food no longer appeals to you) is what makes eating whole-food-plant-based easy and effortless.

It is essential to find the foods you love and that make you feel your best in order to sustain a healthful lifestyle - it is my hope that sharing my go-to foods will help you identify your own and inspire how you can incorporate some of these whole plant foods into your diet. 

I have a few requirements for my seasonal staples... they need to be: 

  • affordable (because...student loans)
  • delicious (because...duh)
  • easy to prep in different ways (because I love to be in the kitchen)
  • nutritionally dense (because I like feeling good)
  • filling (because I like feeling full)

Now, if you're really listening you might notice your appetite naturally changes with the seasons according to what is fresh and available in your corner of the world. For instance in winter I crave warm soups and nourishing starches, in spring I move towards salads and lighter cooked food, in summer I need to eat tons of raw, fresh fruit and water rich veggies. In autumn (my personal favorite) I begin to add in more fats and "harvest-time" fruit and veggies.


Here are the seven foods I eat everyday during autumn:

1. Greens

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You will see greens as part of my daily diet year round. Greens are essential - they are full of micronutrients like iron and vitamin D and fiber and they are super filling. It is is easy to get your greens in - I eat them raw, steamed, blended up in smoothies and wilted into soups. I make sure to base my meal around greens at least once a day. My favorites in fall are kale, spinach, red lettuce and romaine. 

PRO TIP: I always keep a pack or two of frozen spinach in the freezer - it is the best for blending into smoothies and adding into soups. Plus you get so much more bang for your buck!

2. Apples

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"An apple a day...". Yes, I eat an apple every-damn-day. I usually opt for green apples as the pectin in their skin has the highest source of dietary fiber in the plant kingdom but around this time of year I love to try seasonal, sweeter varieties like pink lady, gala and galvenstein. I love to cut them up with banana, oats, raisins and chia seeds with almond milk to make a raw breakfast cereal. If I don't have one for breakfast, I'll always have one as a snack - usually spread with a bit of nut butter and sprinkled with cinnamon. 

INTERESTING FACT: You can eat the WHOLE APPLE, core and all. Bite the apple from the bottom to the steam - it's all good stuff! People usually look at me and horror when I do this but I am telling you, there's literally nothing to it. 

3. Chia Seeds

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As far as healthy fiber-rich fats go, chia seeds are my favorite - it took some getting used to but I love the texture they give to everything I add them to. I usually have them sprinkled over my breakfast or blended into a smoothie but if I am feeling snack-y but not hungry, I will add them into a bit of water for a filling boost. You can also use them in baked goods as an egg replacement or get creative with a quick and easy chia seed pudding. 

4. Nuts/nut butter

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For a while I cut nut butters out of my diet as I believed they were too high in fat but let me tell you - they are also full of protein and great mirconutrients we need! Nuts and nut butters keep me full for hours and help to supress my cravings for less than healthy foods. I spread them on apples, mix them into breakfasts, use them in dressings and blend them into smoothies. My favorites are tahini (great for savory dishes), cashew butter (pricey, but worth it), brazil nuts and almonds. 

5. Sweet Potato

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Sweet potatoes are my one true love. I can eat them for breakfast lunch and dinner as there are so many creative ways to use them. I love using them in curries, soups and stews but usually I just bake off 5 or 6 at a time in the oven until they are super soft and eat them straight out of the fridge throughout the week (don't judge me). 

PRO TIP: Make sure to eat the skin because that stuff is full of probiotics sexy older sister, prebiotics, and easy to digest fiber. 

6. Beans

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I try to eat some kind of bean everyday - admittedly sometimes that is store-bought hummus but more often than not is black beans, kidney beans or whole chic peas. I love mixing these filling little jewels into salads, soups and all different types of bowls. 

7. Chocolate

Okay, not a whole food, but I am just being honest...I have some form of chocolate everyday. I truly believe we should enjoy what we consume - I savor chocolate and it makes me happy so I make sure to enjoy it (responsibly) without restriction.

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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