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Sweet Potato Pecan Scones with Tahini Maple Glaze - Vegan!

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IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR! 

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I know it's only early September but in my house I let Fall reign as long as I possibly can. Growing up in New England I couldn't get enough of the slightly cooler season - I was one of the weird kids who was happy to cover my books in brown paper bags, organize my school supplies, get out of the sun and get into a pile of crisp orange leaves. As I grew older my fondness for fall only became stronger and as 'pumpkin everything' became the norm - but I believe pumpkin is only a prince in the realm of fall foods because in my book sweet potato is king. It's sweeter, slightly more dense and has a better all around flavor. 

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And if we are on the subject of royalty - another majesty in my kitchen kingdom is the scone. Light, flaky, tender yet crisp. I promise you, this vegan scone recipe is better than any butter-laden batch. The method is pretty fast and fool proof, too. The simple ingredient list is loaded with healthier choices like coconut sugar in leu of white sugar, spelt flour instead of white flour and coconut oil over vegan butter. I love how the pecans add an interesting crunch and an extra pop of flavor. But of course the thing that makes this recipe a star is the glaze - a shockingly simple blend of equal parts high quality tahini and maple syrup. The way it pairs with the just-slightly-sweet but well spiced pastry is uniquely addictive.

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A few things to note: It's pretty easy to find canned sweet potato these days if you can't be bothered to first bake one as that can take a pret-ty long time when you just want to get on with your scones. Subbing canned pumpkin should also work fine - I just might up the sweetness a bit by adding a full cup of coconut sugar instead of 3/4 cup. 

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I based this scone recipe off one that I developed earlier this year using a Minimalist Baker recipe as my initial jumping off point. I have made many variations of these scones over the past few months - mixing in whatever fruit is fresh and in season - to almost all positive results. I do believe some of Minimalist Baker's readers found scone-success subbing vegan butter in leu of coconut oil but I personally think coconut oil makes for a more tender final product - not to mention, it's one ingredient vs. the many unpronounceable additives in vegan butter. 

Make this recipe - it's still a treat but a healthier one and it will convert even the most summer loving, non-scone-eater you know. Enjoy Fall Lovers! <3


Serves: 8 • Prep Time: 10 min • Bake Time: 15-17 min


Ingredients

For the scones

  • 2 cups spelt flour (sub wheat flour or gluten free alternative with varied results)
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar (sub 1/2 cup white sugar)
  • 2 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. pumpkin spice (or combine a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cardamom to make your own)
  • 1/2 tsp. pink salt
  • 6 tbsp. solid, room temperature coconut oil
  • 1 cup mashed or canned sweet potato (sub pumpkin puree)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetned almond milk + 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans (plus some left whole for garnish)

For the glaze

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup high quality tahini
  • 1/2 tsp. pink salt

 


1. Preheat your oven to 425*F (yes, its a high temp. for baked goods). Measure out your almond milk and stir in the apple cider vinegar, let the mixture curdle while you prepare the rest of the scone batter. 

2. In a large mixing bowl combine your dry ingredients - flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices and stir to combine.

 3. Scoop the room temperature coconut oil into the bowl and incorporate into the dry ingredients with a fork or pastry cutter. Keep going until the entire mixture resembles dry sand and there are no large pieces of coconut oil left. 

4. Using a spatula, gently mix in the sweet potato puree, almond milk and pecans just until everything starts to come together to form a loose dough. Do NOT over mix! 

5. Once the dough begins to come together, transfer the mixture onto a floured surface and use your hands to form it into an even, round disk that is about 1.5" thick. Ideally at this stage you still want to be able to see little pieces of unmelted coconut oil as this is what will help the pastry to get nice and light and flaky. 

6. Use a sharp knife to slice the disk into 8 equal triangles - as you would a pie. Carefully transfer each piece to a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little more coconut sugar or top with more pecan pieces for garnish. 

7. Bake for 15-17 minutes - once a toothpick comes out clean, they're done!

8. While baking mix together the glaze ingredients with a fork. 

9. Allow the scones to come to room temperature before applying the glaze - which can be drizzled or "painted" on - your preference. Top with a few more pecan pieces if desired. 

10. These do well at room temperature and store great in the fridge for a few days! If you do plan on heating them back up, apply the glaze at the time you plan on consuming them or else you'll end up with a sticky mess. 

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

 

 

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Vegan 'White Cheddar' Mac and Cheese - Just like Annie's

While attending college in NYC, I LIVED off Annie's 'White Cheddar' Mac & Cheese. I remember thinking it was really healthy because I would add (the cheapest) frozen veggies to bulk it up. I would make four, yes, four boxes at a time and demolish as much as I could in one sitting because...why not?! This paired with my other food staples of peanut butter & jelly and (man, this is embarrassing) frozen raspberries with cool whip (?!?!?) left much to be desired but I felt like I was eating like a queen! While I did have a lot to learn (namely, the answer to why my stomach hurt all the time) I do still get a hankering for that classic, tangy "white cheddar" mac & cheese on occassion. I know the Annie's brand now makes a vegan version but I thought it would be so much better if I finally just attempted it for myself using whole food ingredients. Like any good college recipe this sauce is quick and easy to make - I did it while the pasta boiled! This is a no-frills recipe that is remarkably similar to the purpled-boxed original in taste and texture - but it doesn't start as packet full of white powder, so thats a plus! 

I made this recipe gluten free by using a quinoa + corn shell style pasta (linked below) and kept it college-classic by adding frozen sweet peas - I am admittedly addicted to the combination of sweet peas and this tangy, cheesy sauce. Not the healthiest thing but it surely satisfied my craving in a much more nutritionally responsible way! 

Give it a try yourself and then tell me, what were your 'go-to' meals in college, and do you still crave them?!

While attending college in NYC, I LIVED off Annie's 'White Cheddar' Mac & Cheese. I remember thinking it was really healthy because I would add (the cheapest) frozen veggies to bulk it up. I would make four, yes, four boxes at a time and demolish as much as I could in one sitting because...why not?! This paired with my other food staples of peanut butter & jelly and (man, this is embarrassing) frozen raspberries with cool whip (?!?!?) left much to be desired but I felt like I was eating like a queen! While I did have a lot to learn (namely, the answer to why my stomach hurt all the time) I do still get a hankering for that classic, tangy "white cheddar" mac & cheese on occassion. I know the Annie's brand now makes a vegan version but I thought it would be so much better if I finally just attempted it for myself using whole food ingredients. Like any good college recipe this sauce is quick and easy to make - I did it while the pasta boiled! This is a no-frills recipe that is remarkably similar to the purpled-boxed original in taste and texture - but it doesn't start as packet full of white powder, so thats a plus! 

I made this recipe a bit more nutrient dense by using a quinoa + corn shell style pasta (linked below) but kept it college-classic by adding frozen sweet peas - I am admittedly addicted to the combination of sweet peas and this tangy, cheesy sauce. Not the healthiest thing but it surely satisfied my craving in a much more nutritionally responsible way! 

Give it a try yourself and then tell me, what were your 'go-to' meals in college, and do you still crave them?!


Serves: One, no, actually four, but realistically, one • Prep/Cook Time: 15 minutes all in 


For the Sauce...

  • Scant 3/4 cups raw cashews
  • Apx. 1.5 cups boiling hot water, added 1/2 cup at a time (you don't want the sauce to be too thick or else it won't coat the pasta properly so if doesn't drip off the back of a spoon, keep adding more water)
  • 2-3 tbsp. lemon juice, adjust to taste
  • 3 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tbsp. stone ground mustard
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder or 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • splash (maybe 1/2 tsp.) apple cider vinegar
  • lots of fresh cracked pepper
  • salt to taste

And for the pasta...

  • 1 8 oz. box of small 'shell'-style pasta, I used this gluten free Quinoa + Corn variety from Ancient Harvest - so good!
  • 1/2 cup of frozen english peas, or other veggies of your choosing (broccoli or spinach would be great)

1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, drop in your pasta and cook according to packaged instructions. 

2. While the pasta is cooking add all of the sauce ingredients to a high speed blender and blend on high till you reach a smooth, even consistency. You want the sauce to appear relativley thin - just like the sauce for Annie's original does, (it will thicken as it cools) so don't be afraid to add more water than you might think necessary. 

NOTE: I used the cooking liquid from the pasta as the hot water in the sauce (because I am just that lazy) but you could also boil water for the sauce separately if you can spare the extra 2 seconds of effort. :)

3. Once your pasta is almost done, drop in the frozen peas to the boiling water for maybe 30 seconds (adjust this time if you are adding larger frozen or fresh). Drain your pasta and veggies. 

4. Pour the sauce from your blender into the empty hot pot and heat slightly. Then add your drained pasta and veggies back in and stir gently to combine. If the sauce appears too thick around the pasta add a bit more hot water.

5. Fill up a bowl and enjoy your creation- ideally when cramming for a test, or in the case of a Parsons student (my alma mater), pulling an all nighter to finish making a miniature-bat-wing out of thread, chalk, toxic glue and plexiglas only to have it fall apart on the way to class.

NOTE: You may want to double the sauce recipe as it makes just enough for one box of pasta!

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Vegan Nutella - Plant Based Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

You've seen me post about it incessantly for the past few months and FINALLY my better-than-the-real-thing + easy-as-pie vegan Nutella has been perfected and I really can't remember EVER being more excited to share a recipe!

I recall the minute I found out nutella wasn't vegan - reading the label in a lonely grocery store aisle I was understandingly surprised and disappointed. I guess I always knew Nutella wasn't great for you I just never assumed it use dairy as the base because it's so shelf stable. But yes, its true - brand name Nutella uses dairy, a ton of processed sugar, loads of oil and just a little kiss of hazelnut and chocolate to make up it's ingredient list - HOW RUDE?! 

Although I dreamed of it forever, It wasn't until this year that I got around to testing this recipe and let me tell you, it was a serious touch and go mind-game the first few times around. With a tired arm (from continuously using the Vitamix tamper) and a gloppy, oily mess in the blender I wanted to give up so many times but something inside told me *KEEP GOING*. I played with the near-disastrous spread for what felt like hours, switching between Vitamix and food processor and back again, tinkering with tablespoons of coconut oil, maple syrup and almond milk - and then somehow, like magic, the mass came together to form the most glorious spread! The consistency was perfect, the flavor was spot on, the scent was intoxicating but now, I had to see if I could re-create it. I knew there had to be an easier way than praying and swearing loudly for two hours in my kitchen so I bought a bulk batch of raw hazelnuts and got to testing (much to my boyfriends delight, who literally ate his weight in the stuff).  It took me another few tries but I finally developed the proper method for making light-as-air, deeply chocolatey, nutty and creamy vegan Nutella - and surprisingly, it's much easier than I ever could have imagined! 

Unlike store-bought Nutella, this version is full of real, whole food ingredients. I use a blend of freshly roasted nuts as the base, then employ maple syrup to sweeten, cacao to give a chocolate boost, plant milk to make it creamy and melted coconut oil to give it body. Although my version is light and almost "whipped" in appearance it is still very rich and calorically dense so a little goes a long way there, guys! 

Perhaps the thing I love most about this spread is it's rich and varied possible uses - spread on warm toast, or enveloped by vegan crepes, dolloped onto fresh strawberries, stirred into breakfast bowls, and my personal favorite, by the spoonful, right out of the jar. And please don't be intimidated by my heroic struggle above, it is super easy to make as long as you follow the details below and have a high-speed blender! Give it a whirl and I can promise you, you will never, ever, want store-bought Nutella again!


Serves: 20, 2 tbsp. servings • Prep Time: 20 minutes • Blender Time: 10 minutes


  • 1.5 cups blanched hazelnuts - I used these so you don't have to worry about removing the skins!
  • 1 cup raw walnuts, cashews or brazil nuts (I've used all three with great results)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup cacao powder or unsweetened good quality coco powder
  • 2.5-3 cups plant milk, total, added in 1/2 cup increments (add more for thinner consistency)
  • 1 scant tsp. pink salt
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tbsp. coconut oil *OPTIONAL, but recommended for consistencies sake*

PRO TIP: For optimal consistency, it is essential that you do not half or reduce the recipe by any amount. The blender requires a good amount of ingredients to grab onto so it is really able to combine them effectively. PLUS who really wants to make a *little* bit of vegan Nutella, common?!


1. Preheat your oven to 350* F. Spread the hazelnuts onto a parchment lined baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 minutes, give them a gentle shake and toast for another 3-4 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool just slightly on the stovetop.

2. Add your toasted hazelnuts to a high-speed blender with the raw nuts of your choosing plus the maple syrup and first 1/2 cup of plant milk - blend on low speed, gradually turning it up to high. 

3. Once you reach high speed, go in with your tamper and stir, helping the mixture to blend - it will be grainy and thick at this point (it will also be quite hot, so use caution). Continue adding milk in 1/2 cup increments until the mixture begins to look more smooth. 

4. At this point, add in the rest of your ingredients and another 1/2 cup of almond milk - blend using the tamper again. In total, you will be blending and using the tamper for 3-5 minutes. It may look rough there for a minute or two -just keep going -scrape down the sides if needed and BELIEVE!

5. Once you've reached a totally smooth and creamy consistency, add a few tablespoons of coconut oil to a sauce pan and melt on low heat until it is totally liquified. Then, turn your blender on low speed and stream in the liquid coconut oil until well combined - THIS is the key to getting the best, most spreadable texture!

NOTE: You WANT the spread to look a little bit runny at this point, it will firm up in the fridge as the ingredients cool!

6. Transfer to mason jars or other airtight containers. Store in the fridge for up to ten days!


LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Baked Tandoori Cauliflower Wings and Minty Lentil Salad

I love the flavors in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking - the ingredients and spice combinations make those cusines far and away my favorite to veganize. As you well know I LOVE a good, hearty curry but now that it's summer I have been dreaming of lighter fare with a spicy edge - cue my dream of making a smokey, crispy, kicked up cauliflower tandoori.

Tandoori cooked food (usually chicken) actually gets it's name from the cooking apparatus it is prepared in, a tandoor oven (which I don't have). But the spice flavoring itself is a tangy, spicy, savory blend of ginger, tamarind, garlic, coriander, cumin and a ton of paprika which gives it a vibrant red color. To me, Tandoori spice has a smokey BBQ flavor that is quite unique and totally addictive. You can certainly go through the trouble of making tandoori paste on your own (a recipe is easily googled) but I used this prepared brand for ease and convenience - because, let's face it, when I am having a craving for something I am super impatient. 

When first testing this recipe I went into my cupboard to grab regular flour only to realize I was totally out. I had bought a bit of chic pea flour a while back and when I saw it wayyyy in the back collecting dust I thought "how bad could it be?", but what I should have asked is, "WHY HAVEN'T YOU USED CHIC PEA FLOUR TO MAKE BATTER ALL ALONG?!". Not only is this option gluten free and more nutrient dense but in my opinion chic pea flour offers a richer mouth feel and flavor profile compared to wheat flour Traditionally, tandoori chicken is marinated in a combination of spices + yogurt to keep it super moist and I feel as if the chic pea flour helps to mimic this better than regular wheat flour. I also choose not to double bake my wings (which is usually the way of things with recipes like these) but rather mix the seasonings directly into the batter - it adds to the addictive, moist on the inside, crispy on the outside texture. 

Pair these Cauliflower wings with my fresh, protein packed lentil salad and you have a summer meal that will leave everyone fully satisfied and begging for the recipe. 


Serves: 4-6 • Prep Time: 15 minutes • Cook Time: 30 minutes


Tandoori-Style Cauliflower

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 cup chic pea flour
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened plain soy or almond milk 
  • 2/3 cup tandoori paste OR tandoor dry spice to taste
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup (to ensure browning and provide a hint of sweetness)
  • 1 tsp. salt & pepper
  • OPTIONAL: I also added a bit of garam masala spice and garlic powder to kick up the flavor a bit

1. Preheat your oven to 425*F and cut the cauliflower similar sized into florets. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 

2. In either a large ziplock bag or bowl whisk together the rest of the ingredients to make your batter. The batter should have the consistency of a conventional pancake batter - thick enough to coat the florets. Taste and adjust seasonings. 

3. Add all the florets to the bag or bowl and mix well to coat evenly. Don't worry if some of your cauliflower breaks apart in the process. 

4. One-by-one, remove each floret from the batter and give it a shake to remove the excess batter and distribute them in one even layer on the baking sheet. There may be some left over batter, but thats okay - just discard OR save to make more tandoori cauliflower tomorrow.

5. Bake the cauliflower in the oven for 30 minutes. You can remove the florets half way through the process and flip them to ensure even browning but it's not necessary. 

6. Serve hot, room temp or cold!

NOTE: I don't own a grill but would be willing to bet that finishing these on one would be a great way to get that traditional tandoori 'char'. I'd get it super hot and spray the grill or grill pan with some cooking oil - I'd place the baked cauliflower on the grates for just a minute to get some charred browning, using tongs to get some even color. I'd imagine that the batter may stick just a little but it would be worth it. Cue me scrolling grill pans on Amazon for 2 hours.


Salad

  • 2 cups cooked brown or green lentils (apx. 1 cup dry)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 large cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 large red pepper, roasted or fresh
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, chopped

Minty Dressing

  • handful fresh mint
  • handful fresh parsley
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp. garam masala spice
  • 1/2 medium white onion
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 rounded tbsp. maple syrup or agave nectar

1. Cook your lentils according to package directions and allow to cool fully. Transfer to a large bowl.

2. Chop all other ingredients and add to the lentils. Mix to combine.

3. Make the dressing in a food processor by pulsing all ingredients until well combined. Toss over the salad and allow to chill for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to marry. *I left it overnight*

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Easy Layered Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake

At the risk of you doubting the deliciousness of this recipe I do want to say that this is the first time I went all out on testing a cashew 'cheese'cake recipe of my own. Maybe it's that I thought it would be too much work (it isn't, just takes some patience) or that I didn't trust myself with *that* much dessert just laying around (I shouldn't have) but I made this extra creamy, chocolatey, layered dream for very good reason - my mom's 60th birthday! She is also vegan and I really wanted to surprise her with something truly special for such a momentous occasion and lets just say that neither she, nor our omnivore family members were disappointed. This is a 'cheese'cake to suit everyone - rich flavor, crunchy crust, creamy filling, chocolatey, tangy, ultra indulgent and fairly healthy. Best part? No one will know it's good for you! It is the perfect thing to bring to a summer party or a birthday event - the presentation is alone gets people all worked up in a chocolate tizzy! 

My Mom always loved chocolate and she used to make a crazy mousse cake topped with whipped cream and fresh berries in the summer months that people would go nuts for. I used her favorite flavor and texture profiles to inform this recipe because the day was about her, after all. In the weeks approaching my Mom's big day, I researched and tested - looking at different methods and recipes for vegan 'cheese'cakes. I even bought cashews in bulk. I was ultimately most informed by Minimalist Baker's killer 'cheese'cake recipes but I took notes from a few other sources as well finding the perfect blend of ingredients to make for a truly decadent dessert.

I should warn that this cheesecake does take some time to prepare - so plan to make it in advance. Upside: It stores in the freezer wonderfully. I topped mine with raspberries (mainly for presentations sake) but next time I'd love to try adding a layer of coconut, a drizzle of peanut butter sauce or even some vegan whipped cream - it will be great any way you 'slice' it (that pun is for you Mom). Happy birthday, I love you.


Serves: 16 small pieces • Prep Time: 30 minutes • Chill Time: 6 hrs - Overnight


EQUIPMENT

  • Spring form pan (8-10" will work best)
  • Food processor
  • High Speed Blender

Crust

  • 20 Medjool dates, pitted (apx. 1.5 cups, packed tightly)
  • 1 cup nuts (I used toasted hazelnuts but almost any nut will do)
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. pink salt

Filling

  • 3 cups raw cashews soaked overnight
  • the juice of two large lemons (scant 2/3 cup)
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1, 14 oz. can full fat coconut milk (add both the solid and liquid)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup cacao/coco powder, divided and added to half the mixture to make the chocolate layer
  • 1/2 tsp. pink salt

Ganache

  • 1/2, 14 oz. can coconut cream (not coconut milk, can be found at Trader Joe's)
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup cacao/coco powder
  • 2-4 tbsp. maple syrup, to taste
  • 1/3-1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. instant coffee powder
  • 1/2 tsp. pink salt

Topping (optional)

  • 1 large carton raspberries

1. A day or two before you want to serve the cake make the crust and filling to ensure ample chill time so the layers can set up. To make the crust combine dates, oats and nuts in a high speed blender on high power till you reach an even, crumbly consistency. Add in vanilla and salt, pulse again. The mixture should come together when pressed between your fingers - if it is too dry, add a tablespoon or two of maple syrup.

2. Press crust into the bottom of a springform pan that is sprayed lightly with oil (to make sure the cake doesn't stick). Work your way up the sides slightly with the crust to make a lip. Set in the freezer to firm up while you make the filling.

3. To make the cheesecake layers add all of the filling ingredients listed above (excluding the coco powder if you want a chocolate and vanilla layer) to a high speed blender. Blend on high till fully combined. The mixture will look thin, but not to worry, it will set in the freezer.

4. Pour half of the cheesecake mixture into a storage vessel and hold in the fridge. This will serve as your "plain" or vanilla layer. Blend the cacao powder into the remainder for your chocolate layer.

5. Remove the springform pan from the freezer and pour the chocolate layer over the crust. Put back in the freezer to set for at least one hour before pouring over the vanilla layer. 

6. Cover the springform pan with plastic wrap and put the whole cheesecake back the freezer to set for at least three hours or ideally overnight.

7. Once the cheesecake is completely solid it's time to make the ganache. Simply combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan on low-medium heat - whisk till just fully melted and combined. You can also do this ahead of time and store in a glass vessel - reheat to a pourable consistency simply place the jar in simmering water for a few minutes stirring occasionally. 

8. Pour the hot ganache evenly over the cheesecake while still in the springform pan. Decorate with raspberries and set in the fridge for at least an hour or until the ganache is fully set. 

9. About 20-30 minutes before you're ready to serve remove from the fridge and release the springform mold. Slice into pieces and plate it up!

Leftovers: Stores great in the freezer for a week or two - just be sure to keep it covered with some plastic wrap or transfer to a storage container. Allow the slices to defrost for a half hour or so before enjoying!

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Go-To Green Smoothie

This green smoothie is your new go-to - whether you're feeling low-energy, like you have poor digestion or just like you need a green boost. The recipe below makes enough for four 16oz. servings but I'll usually drink a full liter at once (for extra health, you know) - the leftovers store well in the fridge, although you will notice some separation, just shake it up and be on your way.

After drinking this smoothie I instantly feel more alert, balanced and nourished - my digestion improves and I (almost) feel like running up a mountain. It sort of has the same effect as coffee.... but better for you and well, green. This smoothie isn't super sweet and that's kind of the point - it is designed to be nutrient packed but still super tasty. If it's too tart for you, you can always add a date or two to help round out the flavor.

In my opinion adding fresh herbs makes this smoothie, they add a freshness that just can't be beat - I like parsley, cilantro and mint because they are ideal for digestion but you can add whatever you have on hand.

Adding nuts is optional but I do urge you to consider it as plenty of research shows that the fat soluble nutrients in greens is better absorbed in the body when consumed with a healthy source of fat. Brazil nuts are my go-to because they also give me my daily dose of selenium. 

The best part about a green smoothie like this is that it is totally customizable - the measurements below are my rough guide for creating a balanced, nourishing, great tasting smoothie but I urge you to adapt the recipe to match what you have on hand and what tastes best to you. I love the combination below as a guideline but I often make a green smoothie when I know I need to clean out the fridge and therefore it's always a little different. I sometimes like to add cucumber for extra hydration, chia seeds for better digestion, maca powder for hormonal balance, banana for sweetness and potassium or avocado for an extra creamy boost. Listen to your body and add what feels right to you - as long as you have a balance of greens, sweet fruit, acidic fruit and liquid you really can't go wrong!

What do you like to add to your green smoothies?


Serves: 4 16 oz. servings • Prep Time: 5 minutes


  • 2 packed cups fresh spinach or kale
  • 1 full head romaine lettuce
  • handful parsley
  • handful cilantro
  • handful mint
  • 2" knob ginger, no need to peel
  • 1 large grapefruit or 2 lemons, rind removed
  • 3/4-1 cup fresh/frozen mango or peaches for similar flavor
  • 2-3 cups water or coconut water
  • 2 brazil nuts or 2 tbsp any other nut/nut butter

1. Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and blend on high until fully incorporated - you may need to use the tamper to help move the ingredients.

2. To enjoy immediately, pour over ice or store in the fridge for up to 2 days. 

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Healthy Falafel Salad with Tahini Mint Dressing

Looking for a healthy, whole foods baked falafel that rivals it's fried counterpart in taste and texture? Look no further. I've been testing this recipe for what seems like forever, and finally, perfection. I'm excited to share it with you!

If you haven't invested in a simple food processor, what are you waiting for?! My $30 device has allowed me to make a whole slew of dishes that are otherwise impossible - this being on of them. You can use a blender but I find that I go for my food processor more and more when it comes to making savory dishes. 

The falafels themselves can be shaped anyway you like (with varied baking times) but I choose to go with a classic shape and put them on top of a fresh salad inspired by all the fixins' of a traditional pita. Crisp cucumber, home-roasted red pepper, bright pink quick pickled onion, fresh tomato, hummus and a creamy mint-tahini dressing all come together to make this a seriously superior salad perfect for dinner or entertaining. 

As I said above, I've tested healthy falafel recipes every-which-way for at least a year and I think I found the secret to crispy on the outside, tender on the inside baked (not fried) chick pea balls - and it's more chic peas - chic pea flour to be exact. The addition of this ingredient helps to create a nice outer crust without drying out the center. I found chick pea flour in the bulk section of my local grocery store but if you don't have it on hand you can sub regular flour or oat flour for a gluten free option. I also think the addition of just a little bit of baking powder helps to keep these guys so light and airy. This recipe calls for a ton of fresh herbs which along with fresh garlic helps to make these falafel into little flavor bombs. They are a great thing to meal prep and have on hand to add a protein-punch to any dish throughout the week - hot or cold!

I served my falafel salad with hummus and an amazingly simple tahini-mint dressing that, in my opinion, really made the dish. The combination of fresh, bright mint and creamy sesame paste is one for the record books - add a hit of acid from lemon juice plus a little sweetener and you are in business. 

Let me know if you make this recipe - the falafel, the dressing or both! I am so excited to hear how you like it!

Healthy Herbed Oven-Baked Falafel

  • 1 can chic peas, rinsed and drained well
  • 1/4 cup chic pea flour 
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 low-sodium veggie boulion 
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. masala spice (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. tahini (optional)
  • Pink salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400*F and spray a parchment lined baking sheet pan with coconut oil spray. In a food processor, pulse the onion and garlic till minced.

2. Add the chic peas, chic pea flour, baking soda, lemon, boulion and spices - pulse until well combined, using a spatula  occasionally to ensure even distribution. If it looks a bit dry add more lemon juice or tahini. Then gently pulse in the herbs just until they are mixed through. Mixture should be slightly damp and stick together easily - you should still be able to distinguish some bits of chic pea, onion, etc.  

3. Before forming into balls, give the mixture a taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. Then, shape into 2" diameter rounds and place on the baking sheet. You should get apx. 6-8 falafel. Spray the tops with a bit more coconut oil to ensure browning. Bake for 20 minutes, turn falafel over and cook for another 15 minutes or until the tops are slightly cracked and golden brown. Allow to cool before serving.


For the Salad

  • Fresh spinach or other salad green
  • Sliced red cabbage
  • Hot house cucumber, sliced
  • Bell pepper, roasted on open flame and sliced thin OR pre-jarred roasted red peppers

NOTE: If you have a gas range and have never roasted your own red peppers - what are you waiting for?! This was totally life changing for me because prior to learning this method I didn't really like roasted reds in the jar (kinda mushy, no?) but now I put them on EVERYTHING. It's just so easy and takes a simple pepper from 0 to 60 in only a few minutes. 

Simply turn on your GAS burner (do not attempt if you have an electric stovetop) to medium heat and place your whole red pepper directly on the grates. Toast on all four sides for apx. 1-2 minutes per side until the flesh is somewhat black and charred. Allow to cool off heat and then slice as you normally would. 

  • Fresh tomato, sliced
  • Quick pickled red onion

NOTE: To quick pickle, slice the onion thin and add to a jar with equal parts vinegar, and water, plus 1 tbsp. sweetener of choice. 

  • Hummus (homemade or store bought)
  • Whole wheat pita bread, warmed slightly on an open flame (optional, but recommended) 

No real steps or required measurments for the salad (other than what is listed above) - but it's good to assemble the elements while your falafel are baking/cooling. That way, everything is ready at the same time!


Mint Tahini Dressing

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • handful mint leaves
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • enough water to reach desired consistency (I used about 2-3 tbsp.)

1. In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients till creamy and smooth!

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Chocolate Coconut Crunch Granola

Until recently, the idea of making granola always sounded so intimidating to me. I don't know what it was but now that I've perfected my ratios, I am kind of on a roll with the stuff - I even made a batch to feed 70 for a local community even last month. I think I say this every time but this is seriously the best recipe I've ever come up with. CHOCOLATE + COCONUT + GRANOLA = I'M IN! I had every intention of making this in the afternoon and leaving it overnight but I ate it for dinner - FOR DINNER. It's that good - crunchy, toasty, sweet and best of all chocolate-y! If you loved those chocolate flavored cereals as a kid you are doing to do backflips for this because the flavor is remarkably similar - but you can know that now your repeated bowl-fulls of crunchy goodness are actually good for you. 

Cacao for antioxidants, quinoa and buckwheat for protein, oats and chia for fiber, coconut flakes and oil for healthy fats - this stuff packs a healthy punch! It's also gluten free (if you use gluten free oats that is) and uses no processed sugars! Most cereals and granolas in the stores are loaded with junk-oil, processed sugar and a bunch of other garbage - even the expensive 'good-for-you' stuff is deceivingly loaded with crap. It is so easy to make your own and you get to taste test the entire time, which makes it totally worth it to me! The recipe below makes enough to put those puny ten dollar artisan bags to shame using inexpensive ingredients you probably already have at home. 

I love how nutty and toasted this recipe is - if you're like me, theres nothing like those burnt little bits at the edges. It's great with a plant-based milk of choice, or with tangy coconut yogurt and fruit - I've also enjoyed sprinkling it over smoothies and gobbling handfuls straight out of the jar. You can of course customize here as well - tossing in cacao nibs, vegan chocolate chips, almonds, goji berries, hazelnuts, whatever you wish once the granola is out of the oven.

Let me know if you give this one a try, and what you mix-in to make it your own!


Serves: 10-12 1/2 cup servings • Prep Time: 5 min • Bake Time: 45 min


  • 2 cups gluten free oats
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked

I always have cooked quinoa on hand in the fridge as it is my go-to "grain" ( fun fact: quinoa is actually a seed) but if you don't want to go through the trouble of cooking and cooling quinoa, it's no biggie, just replace with more oats or buckwheat groats.

  • 1 cup buckwheat groats
  • 3/4 cup coconut flakes (large or small, doesn't matter)
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds

Don't leave these out! The chia seeds sort of stick together and make the most enjoyable clusters - OMG yum!

  • 1/2 cup cacao/cocoa powder

Using conventional cocoa powder is GREAT here and will yield the same taste result as cacao powder - you are baking the whole thing anyway, thus killing off many of the beneficial raw properties of cacao (WOMP, WOMP) so don't worry about using "the good stuff" here if you don't want to.

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. pink salt

1. Preheat your oven to 400* F and prepare a large sheet pan with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine oats, quinoa, buckwheat, coconut flakes and chia seeds. Toss with your hands to fully integrate the ingredients. 

3. In a sauce pan, combine maple syrup, coconut oil and cacao powder. Turn on low heat and whisk until the cacao powder is fully incorporated and the coconut oil has melted. This will only take a few seconds. Turn off the heat and add in the salt and vanilla.

4. Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and use a spatula to make sure all ingredients are fully coated in the chocolate-maple-oil mixture. 

5. Dump the granola onto a sheet pan and use your spatula or hands to press it into a firm, even layer (this will ensure you get some bigger clusters in there.)

6. Set your ovens timer for 15 minutes. Once the time is up, come in with your spatula and toss the mixture to ensure even roasting. Do this again at the 30 minute mark and watch your granola carefully for the last 15 minutes  you may have some burnt bits around the edges but in my opinion, thats kinda the best part. It will not be totally set up when you remove it from the oven but will firm up as it cools.

7. Allow your granola to fully cool before putting it into glass jars for storage - lasts up to four weeks!

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Vegan Apricot Ginger Scones

Pastry lovers this one is for you!

Cravings are a strange, strange thing. Not to talk about gross stuff in a recipe post (here I go) but I've gotta give you a little background - I recently came down with food poisoning and once the sickness had subsided all I could think about were scones (weird, right?). I hadn't thrown up since I was 12, so this latest episode was a super big deal for me. Needless to say, it sort of threw me into a funny mood. The day after I recovered, I went to the grocery store on my still empty stomach - as I deliriously walked the aisles, I couldn't stop thinking about ... scones .... so I b-lined it for the bulk aisle for some inspiration. Ginger was a no-brainer as it would further help to settle my stomach and the fresh apricots around the corner looked so ripe and delicious I couldn't resist. I came home with some straaaange stuff from the grocery store that day.

In spite of the strange craving, this recipe is a true winner. In fact - I enjoyed two scones for dinner that night and the next morning when I went to the fridge to grab one for breakfast - only crumbs were left - my boyfriend had devoured the rest. They are truly addictive, as he can vouch. But don't worry, if this happens to you, they are so easy to make that you can whip up another batch in no time.

This recipe is inspired by the blueberry & rosemary vegan scones posted by the truly incredible Dana of Minimalist Baker - I had made her variation last year and always wanted to experiment with my own flavors. Prior to her post I thought scones were something I had to give up as a vegan (scones=butter, right?) - but coconut oil works wonders here and these sweet beauties come together so easily.

Now, depending on your definition they aren't 100% healthy but they are everything a scone should be - light, flaky, sweet, tender. The tartness from the apricot and the spice from the ginger make a truly special combination but feel free to add in any variation of fruit and aromatics - berries, citrus, apples, even savory flavors would work wonderfully here. Enjoy hot or room-temp - they store well in the fridge and re-heat nicely.

I used truvia blended baking sweetener because it happened to be on sale and I had always wanted to try it - it's pretty good and worked well as I would imagine any natural sweetener would - just remember to double the measurement if you are using regular sugar - stevia is sweeeeet. I used a whole wheat pastry flour (which is finer than regular flour) for this recipe because I happened upon it in the bulk aisle - I think it really contributed to the tenderness of these scones and I would highly recommend finding yourself some but with that said I've used regular flour before (or a blend of regular and spelt flour as Minimalist baker suggests) and that batch was just as delicious.


Makes: 8 scones • Prep Time: 15 min • Cook Time: 26 minutes


  • 2 cups whole wheat pasty flour (sub regular flour or gluten free flour with varied results)
  • 1/4 cup truvia baking-blend sweetener (sub 1/2 cup cane or coconut sugar)
  • 1 tbsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. pink salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp. ground flax or chia seed + 2.5 water)
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. room temp. coconut oil OR cold vegan butter
  • 2/3 cup candied ginger, finely chopped
  • 3-4 small fresh apricots, pitted and finely chopped - apx. 1 cup (or sub peaches)
  • 1 tsp. coconut sugar for topping

1. Preheat the oven to 400*F.

2. In a medium sized bowl first prepare your flax egg and let it set-up for at least 5 minutes.

3. In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, sugar and salt.

4. Scoop your room-temp coconut oil into the bowl and cut it into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or fork till only small lumps of coconut oil remain. Note that the mixture will still look rather dry -not quite a sand-like texture.

5. At this point, gently mix in your chopped apricot and ginger pieces into the flour mixture - this ensures the pieces are distributed evenly - if you mix them in after the wet ingredients are combined you have a tendency to over-work the dough.

5. In the bowl with flax egg whisk in almond milk, ACV and vanilla extract till well combined.

6. Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry, stirring gently to combine all the while. Once all the liquid is mostly incorporated you may have to go in with your hands to quickly work in all of the flour. 

7. Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and shape into a large 1" tall disk shape. Cut into eight equal pieces and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle tops with coconut sugar.

8. Bake for 24-26 minutes or until golden brown. 

9. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before removing from the baking sheet and enjoying!

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Thai Style Green Wrap Recipe & Tutorial

"YES, YES, YES!" I am literally straight out of the Herbal Essences commercial right now!

Collard wraps are my new favorite thing, well, I mean, not new, I first experienced them a few years ago at Kye's in Santa Monica. Kye's catered an event I attended and I could not get enough of their awesome concept - a guilt-less, gluten-less, just-as-tasty burrito?! I remember thinking to myself that I would probably never make one myself because it seemed like a pain in the ass to get a leaf act like a tortilla but let me tell you now - IT'S SO EASY and I am so excited to share the method with you! It takes *maybe* 3 more minutes than using a conventional tortilla and I can genuinely say I like collards better - they are more pliable, the filling is less likely to fall out and I can eat my weight in them and not feel like crap afterwards. 

The ingredients for traditional flour tortillas often look like this "Enriched Flour Bleached(Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, interesterified soybean oil, glycerin, hydrogenated soybean oil. contains less than 2% of: corn syrup solids, baking powder (sodium aluminum phosphate, baking soda), salt, monoglycerides, potassium sorbate and calcium propionate (preservatives), fumaric acid, enzymes." They usually come in at about 120 calories per wrap and contain up to 350mg of sodium and get 30% of their calories from processed fats. 

Collard greens on the other hand are pillars of health - they supply the body with protein, fiber, calcium and iron and rack in at a whopping 11 calories a leaf meaning, more burritos for you!!!!

I've now tried a whole slew of different fillings in these wraps (because I'm obsessed)  and it's always best to have some kind of grain or filling protein (like beans, quinoa or rice, bulking ingredients (like raw and cooked veggies) and some kind of healthy fat (tahini, avocado, cashews, etc.)- heres a few ideas:

  • roasted sweet potato
  • black beans
  • quinoa
  • corn salsa
  • cilantro
  • avocado

 

  • white rice
  • avocado
  • cucumber
  • sprouts
  • ginger
  • nori

 

  • brown rice
  • butternut squash
  • white beans
  • nutritional yeast
  • tahini drizzle

 

But my favorite has to be the Thai style wrap I share with you below...mostly because of the sauce (recipe included). 

I have perfected my thai-peanut sauce in the past few months and have been eating it on everything. I have been waiting for the perfect time to share it on the blog and this is it! It's spicy, peanut-y, creamy - it uses no oil and is pretty damn good for you! 

Scroll on down to check out the ingredients used in this recipe and then keep reading  for detailed instructions on how to roll the perfect collard wrap - no matter what fillings you choose! Great creative and report back!


Serves: 2 (2 wraps per-person) • Prep Time: 10 minutes • Assembly Time: 5 minutes


  • 4 large collard green leaves, steamed in the process described below
  • 2 servings of extra firm tofu, dry seared in a pan with salt and pepper
  • 2 cups shredded green or purple cabbage 
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/4 -1/2 of a large hot house cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp of finely chopped raw cashews *trust me*
  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • Thai basil, minced

Low-Fat Thai Peanut Sauce

(makes more than enough, but trust me, you want this much)

  • 1/3 cup PB2 powder
  • 2 tbsp. coconut sugar or sweetener of choice
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (unseasoned)
  • 1/2 the juice of a lime
  • 1-2 tbsp. coconut aminos or soy sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp. hot sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. chili flakes
  • enough water to give you your preferred consistency (I use about 2-3 tbsp.)

All you have to do to make this sauce is chuck all the ingredients in a mason jar - throw on the lid and shake away!


MAKE A COLLARD WRAP/BURRITO: STEP-BY-STEP

Firstly, you'll need to get the largest, freshest collard greens you can find. I always have luck at farmers markets and in my experience bundles of 6-8 collard greens can be found in the organic section of most large grocery stores. Inspect the collards for tears and holes - those should be avoided if possible. Rinse them well.

If you won't be making your wraps right away, I like to stick the stems of my collards in a bit of water just as you would a bouquet of flowers and store them on the counter - this helps to to keep them super fresh. Plus, it makes your kitchen look pretty. 

When you are ready to assemble your wraps start by heating a bit of water (2-3 tbsp) in a large, shallow pan that has a lid. 

Grab a leaf and a sharp knife. Flip the leaf so that the underside or stem side is facing up. With your knife, gently shave down the woody part of the stem so that the whole leaf becomes more pliable. Trim the bottom of the stem off.

Place your leaves into the pan and cover with the lid for no more than 45 seconds - blanching the leaf gently - you are doing this to increase the flexibility of the stem, not to wilt the greens. A good way to tell if it's done is to look under the lid - the collard should get brighter, if it begins to darken, you've gone too far. You can add one leaf at a time or do them all at once, it doesn't effect the cook time much!

When ready, carefully remove the collards from the pan, separate them and allow them to cool throughly on the counter. 

To wrap, begin by placing your collard leaf, under-side/stem-side facing up on a plate so that it lays flat. Add your filling into the center of the leaf *length wise* (from stem to tip of the leaf) leaving at least 2" on either side. Don't be afraid to pack these pretty full with sauces and tons of stuff- I actually find collard leaves to be more durable than regular flour tortillas when it comes to stuffing and wrapping!

Now comes the actual wrapping - if you've ever watched the masters at Chipotle, you're golden. The only trick with a collard is making sure you have the correct orientation of the leaf, so listen up! Fold the lengths of the collard leaf into the center- essentially touching the bottom of stem to the tip of the leaf over your filling as seen in the second image above.

Then pull the sides closest to you over your filling and roll upwards making sure to tuck all of your ingredients - end with the seam side facing down on the plate.

Your collard wrap should now look like the first image above - the outside of the leaf facing up so you have a nice clean surface. HOW GOOD DOES THAT LOOK?!

Sorry, getting excited. 

Anyway, if you wish, you can cut your wrap in half - and do it on a bit of a diagonal please...you didn't just go through all of that hard work to not make it look great. Okay?

Enjoy! 

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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