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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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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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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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Hormone Balancing Energy Bites

Remember those chewable Flintstone multivitamins? How about the grape flavored children's Tylenol? I LOVED them both and actually looked forward to my daily vitamin. In fact, I loved chewable Tylenol so much that three year old Jill snuck into the medicine cabinet and consumed the contents of an entire bottle - which resulted in a trip to the hospital and a round of ipecac. Fun!

Anyway, the reason I am telling you this is because it seems as though I still love to eat my vitamins but I am pretty sure these powerfully magical beauties will never result in vomiting! I am pumped to share this recipe with you, especially if you are a woman!

For months I have been on a quest to naturally balance my hormones - I have been struggling with irregular periods for the past few years and as an otherwise thriving 29 year old honestly, enough is enough. I have upped my fat to carb to protein ratio (yes, I was on the 80-10-10 train for a while and I think it may have done a little damage), altered my exercise routine and have been *trying* to stress less. In addition to these things I have also been eating the most delicious hormone-balancing "vitamin" daily - a cacao sprinkled  date wrapped in a brazil nut. I learned all about the hormone balancing powers of dates, brazil nuts and cacao in the book 'How Not To Die' by the wonderful Dr. Michael Greger - which the bible for anyone interested in the intrinsic link between good health and diet. One day, I shared my magic bullet of healing on Instagram and the photo got such a reaction that a light bulb went off, "this would make a really great energy bite", I thought. Any excuse for another energy bite recipe, AM I RIGHT?

One of the most wonderful things about Dr. Greger's book is that he makes actual suggestions of foods you can eat to improve specific health conditions - and he goes further still by suggesting combinations of foods that enhance one another's healing effects. For instance, I now always make sure to add pepper to any dish containing turmeric because the anti inflammatory properties are greatly magnified when you do. Dr. Gregor cautions against supplementation and urges us to consume whole foods as much as possible as the complexity of minerals, vitamins and fatty acids in our foods work together, in unison. We are designed to benefit from the delivery of these nutrients through food! They rarely benefit us quarantined in a bottle, as suggested by the supplement industry. 'How Not to Die' is a super dense read and I actually got a lot more from it by listening to it on tape - which is a great thing to do during any tedious task - driving, walking, cleaning, *rolling out energy bites*. 

The way the compounds in these energy bites work together is fascinating. Here's a quick break down - Brazil nuts are SUPER high in selenium, an important trace mineral supporting thyroid function. Selenium's power is magnified when combined with vitamin E, found abundantly in cacao along with antioxidants and other stress reducing compounds like magnesium. Dates further amplify this blend by providing a healthy dose of potassium and manganese - which play a part in regulating sex hormones, energy and metabolism. Although dates are high in sugar the manganese also helps to maintain a healthy blood sugar level and regulates brain and nerve function. 

I went further still adding maca powder - the hormone balancer of hormone balancers and ashwaganda which acts more gently to lower cortizol levels. 

Most days, I enjoy these as a pre-workout pick me up and I am happy to report I am beginning to feel more balanced. I have gotten a period since starting this daily practice and gained a little weight, which I am trying my best to embrace as I course correct my healing journey...NOT easy!  

But the whole reason I am sharing these babies with you is because they are also GOD DAMMED DELICIOUS. I mean - dates, chocolate, nuts - how could you go wrong? I love how the maca powder adds a malted-honey note! My boyfriend - aka my official taste tester - who had no idea about the "medicinal" element, said these are the BEST energy bites I have ever made. Woah, thats big coming from a guy who makes anything I create disappear! 

So, if you're like me, and you're looking for a whole foods solution to your hormonal struggle - give these a try, I am so interested to know if they help. OR, if you aren't struggling with hormones but just want a delicious pre-workout delight let me know how these babies stack up!


Serves: Apx. 24 1.5" Bites • Prep Time: 10 minutes • Total Time: 30 minutes


 

  • 24 Medjool dates
  • 1 cup gluten free oats, ground into flour
  • 1 cup brazil nuts, pulsed into a meal 
  • 3 tbsp. cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp. maca powder *optional
  • 2 tbsp. ashwaganda powder *optional
  • 1/2 tsp. pink salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Pit all of your dates, place them in a bowl and pour hot water to cover - allow them to soak for 3-4 minutes and then drain well, removing all excess water

NOTE: Skip this step if your dates are super moist

2. Measure out the oats into a food processor and wiz them up till the consistency is that of a coarse flour. Pour oat flour into a bowl.

3. Measure out the brazil nuts into the food processor and pulse in 5 second bursts until you reach the texture of coarse sand. Pour the nuts into the bowl with the oats.

NOTE: Be sure to not over blend your brazil nuts, they are quite oily and can turn into brazil nut butter very easily...not that that would be bad, but its just not what we're going for here, we still want little bits of nuts detectable in the final product

4. Now add the soaked and drained dates to the food processor along with the cacao powder, maca powder, ashwaganda powder, salt and vanilla - blend until your mixture is that of a thick paste. 

5. Add the oat flour and crushed brazil nuts back into the food processor and pulse till the entire mixture begins to come together - you may have to scrape the sides of the bowl a few times to ensure an even mix. You want the dough to appear slightly crumbly but to stick together when squeezed between your fingers. 

6. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and allow the chill in the fridge for 15 minutes - you can skip this step but it will help the dough set up and stick to your hands less when rolling out the balls.

7. Use a rounded tablespoon to measure out the balls and roll the mixture between your hands - repeat this process till all the dough is gone. 

8. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks - but they will be gone long before then. 

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Vegan Nutella Energy Bites

Energy bite options are endless. I have a ton of different flavors on the blog already but they are something I never tire of creating and I hope you never tire of enjoying them either. I love storing them in a fridge and having one or two as a pre-workout pick-me-up (they provide a boost of potassium and sustained energy by way of dates, nuts and cacao) but I also love eating half of the mixture while it's still in the food processor as I roll them out - it's all about balance with these guys. 

I have wanted to make a Nutella flavored energy bite for a while now. Nutella, the classically creamy roasted hazelnut spread, is not dairy free which means it's been a long time since I have experienced it's uniquely delicious flavor profile - until now. A key to nailing the flavor was roasting the nuts - I was worried about the (slightly pricey) little hazelnuts but the method I described below was easy and worked out fine and the end result is so worth it!

The rest of the process is pretty much my standard - oats, dates, healthy fat, flavorings - all combined in my trusty $30 food processor (best purchase ever). 

Let me know if you try these nutty little guys, they are such a special treat - I actually used this recipe as an on the fly vegan dessert for a plant-based guest at the inn where I work, I drizzled some chocolate sauce over top and sprinkled some berries, so easy - he LOVED it! 


Serves: 6 (Apx. 12, 1.5" bites) • Duration: 15 minutes (add a little extra if you're hand rolling bites!)


  • 1.5 cups oats, ground
  • 12-16 large Medjool dates (roughly two cups, lightly packed), pitted and soaked, if needed
  • 1/2 cup raw unsalted hazelnuts, toasted
  • 3 tbsp. cacao/coco powder
  • 2 rounded tbsp. almond butter (sub coconut oil or any nut/seed butter of choice)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. pink salt

1. Preheat your oven to 325*F. Once the oven is at temp, place your raw hazelnuts on a lined baking sheet and roast for intervals of 2-3 minutes until fragrant and slightly toasted (this took me about 6 minutes total), allow to cool.

2. While your nuts are roasting, pit your dates, IF they are a bit dry place them in a small vessel - heat water on the stove and pour over the dates and allow to soak for a few minutes until plump. Drain well and dry the dates off with a paper towel.

3. Pulse the oats in a food processor or blender until a flour-like consistency is reached, pour the flour into a separate container.

4. Add the dates, hazelnuts, cacao, almond butter, vanilla and salt to a food processor - blend till the mixture is nearly smooth (you may have to stop the machine and push the mixture down a few times with a spatula). Then add the oats back in and blend again until the oat mixture is fully integrated - it should be very thick, just slightly sticky and easily formable between your fingers.

5. Begin to roll into 1.5" balls and place them in a storage container in the fridge to set up for a few minutes. To decorate, you can roll the balls in coco powder, drizzle chocolate sauce over or press a hazelnut into the center of each one.  Alternatively, you could press the mixture into a pan or other vessel, set in the fridge, slice and enjoy them like brownies. 

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

 

 

 

 

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One-Bowl Single Serve Brownie

Do you ever have a craving that you just can't kick? Nothing else can satisfy the urge and you dream of that one food for days or even weeks until you can indulge? For me that craving is always, without a doubt, brownies. I could literally eat an entire sheet of them if you caught me in a moment of desperation. 

If you are like, "same", then this simple, quick and HEALTHY brownie is just for you! Because this recipe only makes one serving, you won't ever have to worry about eating far more than your share. Additionally, depending on your cooking method you can have a tasty, hot brownie in your mouth in under 6 minutes - um, yes!!!

This is essentially mug cake recipe but it has the simplest, most healthy ingredient list of any mug cake I've ever had and the taste is tops. It is fudgey, gooey, rich and so chocolatey plus it's grain free, gluten free and added sugar free - YES! I kept the ingredient list simple but you can add whatever mix-ins and extra flavorings you please! 

You can make this treat in any microwave/oven-safe mug or ramekin - or in a muffin tin if you aren't quite so trusting of your mugs heat tolerance. I am always the skeptic of oven safe stuff but here is a cool, trustworthy option. 


Serves: 1 • Prep Time: 4 minutes • Cook Time: 2-15 min (depending on your cooking method)


  • 1 medium ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa/cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp. almond butter (or other nut butter of choice)
  • 1 tbsp. chocolate protein powder - this is optional, leave out for a fudgier brownie
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup mix-ins - chocolate chips, nuts, berries, etc.

1. Preheat oven to 400*F (if you're using the oven)

2. In a small oven safe mug/ramekin, mash the banana till smooth.

3. Mix in the rest of your ingredients and stir till fully incorporated.

4. OVEN METHOD: Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on how gooey you like your brownie. Allow to cool slightly *this is key* and enjoy!

MICROWAVE METHOD: Simply microwave the brownie mixture in 30 second intervals for up to 2 minutes, until desired done-ness is reached! Allow to cool slightly before eating...seriously, it makes all the difference.

UPDATE: You can double this recipe to make 6 cupcakes - the perfect healthy treat to store and take with you on the go!

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LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Well Rooted Beet Hummus

I have always loved hummus but never tried making it on my own until recently and let me tell you - GAME CHANGER. I love being able to create my own flavors and experiment with different additions. This is my current favorite - maybe it's the ruby red color, maybe its the light, creamy texture or maybe it is because I know how good it is for me.

You can make this recipe as easy or as hard as you like - personally I cooked my own chick peas and roasted my own beets but there are ways around both of those things suggested below. I love that I can whip up this impressive and pretty dip in just a few minutes if I wanted to.

If you are a fan of beets (which you should be because they deliver so many nutrients in such a delicious package) then you will not be able to get enough of the savory and sweet combination. Give it a try!


Serves: 10 • Prep Time: 15 minutes OR 2.15 hours (if you cook your chick peas from scratch)


  • 2 cups cooked chick peas (about 1.5 cans)
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 medium or 3 small roasted beets
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 glove of garlic, peeled
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Set the oven to 425*F and wrap your cleaned beets throughly in tin foil and place them on the rack. Roast until fork tender, somewhere between 30-45 minutes. While still hot, rinse the beets with cold water - this should help you peel them easily with a vegetable peeler.

NOTE: You can skip this step by purchasing pre-roasted beets at the store (just make sure you drain them) or by using beet root powder if you have it.

2. If you are going the route of prepping your own chick peas from their uncooked state simply follow package directions. Rinse and allow to fully cool. 

NOTE: I like the option of cooking your own beans because that way you can control the amount of salt that goes into them.in addition, it seems to me that the final texture of the hummus is a bit more fluffy when made with beans from scratch. It is time consuming but simple enough, cook up a whole bag and make a few different hummus's for a party!

3. In a food processor combine chick peas, tahini, lemon juice, cumin and garlic. Pulse till combined - you may have to press the mixture down a few times with a spatula and it may appear a crumbly and dry, if this is the case add a few tablespoons of water but be on the conservative side as the roasted beets contain some moisture.

4. Once the hummus mixture is smooth, nestle roasted beets and pulse till the entire mixture takes on a pink-ish red hue. You can of course add more or less beets depending on your liking.

5. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Keeps for a few days. 

 

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Get Glowing Swirled Superfood Bark

This is one decadent and sexy recipe that makes the perfect Valentine's gift or eat-in-bed dessert. I am not the hugest fan of the phrase "super-food" but these particular ingredients truly deserve that notoriety. I also tried to make sure that with this variety of toppings you got a deep sensory experience in fragrance, flavor and texture - crunchy, chewy, crisp, soft, tangy, spicy, earthy, salty, sweet. Simple to make and packed with hormone balancing ingredients - this bark will get you glowing from the inside out. 

Antioxidant-rich dark chocolate pairs gorgeously with ruby-hued cacao butter to make a stunning base. Pile on the toppings for a truly guilt-less indulgence - balancing rose petals, inflammation banishing turmeric, and tummy-loving cardamom make quiet the pair. Just the benefits of pistachios alone are amazing - heart healthy, dry-skin banishing, iron absorbing and fiber rich - this nut will have you on your way to feeling great in no time.  


Servings: 20 • Prep Time: 20 min • Freezer Time: 30 min


BASE

1. Begin by finely chopping or grating the dark chocolate and cacao butter and placing them in separate glass bowls, each with 1 tbsp. of coconut oil which will help to get things moving.

TIP: I find that grating the cacao butter on a cheese grater works best to get an even and fast melt.

2. Microwave the cacao butter 30-40 second increments, stirring intermittently. It will take apx. 3 minutes to become fully melted.

Alternatively, you can of course do this over a double boiler. 

3. Once both are fully melted, incorporate the beet root powder and vanilla to the cacao butter - this will turn it a gorgeous pinky red color.

4. While the cacao butter is firming up, perform the same melting method with the chocolate - it will take a bit less time - apx. 2 minutes - to become fully melted.

5. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper and pour the melted chocolate over the top, spreading into an even 1/4 layer with a spatula. 

6. Using a tablespoon, drizzle the cacao and beet powder mixture in long vertical lines over the melted chocolate. Then take a knife and drag it diagonally first left to right and then right to left creating a marbled effect (sort of like this image).

NOTE: Although it looks incredibly cool, you can totally skip the 'marbled' part of this recipe, shaving off time and money - under all those toppings no one will hardly be the wiser anyway.

TOPPINGS

  • 1/2 cup raw pistachios 
  • 1/4 cup dried goji berries
  • 1 tbsp. dried rose petals
  • 2 tbsp. coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom 
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric 
  • 1/2 tsp. pink salt

7. While the chocolate is still warm, sprinkle over all of the toppings evenly and gently press down with the back of your hand to secure the pieces. 

8. Place the entire sheet tray in the freezer and allow it to set up for at least a half hour.

9. Use a knife to break up the bark into jagged pieces. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks!

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEANKITCHEN

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Earl Gray Chia Pudding

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If you love tea, then you are going to love this filling little treat! Earl gray tea has always been my favorite, it's was my go-to long before I started drinking coffee and the smell of bergamot will always have a special place in my heart. 

Chia seeds are full of fiber and healthy fat. I don't eat them in this volume often but I find myself fully satisfied when I do. Among other benefits, they really aid in digestion.

I was blown away by how flavorful and delicious the tea was in this recipe - I could not get enough...and I'm sure the caffiene boost helped! I certainly want to find more creative ways to incorporate my favorite tea blends into cooking. I find that not everyone loves chia pudding but if you are looking for a creative rendition, take it from a tea lover ... this recipe is for you!


Serves: 2 • Prep time: 1-2 hours or overnight


  • 1.5 cups plant milk (I used coconut almond blend)
  • 1 earl gray tea bag - any black tea you love will do
  • 1-2 tbsp maple syrup, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds

1. Warm the milk in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

2. Once you're there, remove the milk from the heat, add the tea bag and cover with a lid and allow the tea to steep and the milk to come to room temperature.

3. Once cool, remove the tea bag ringing out excess moisture. Stir in the maple syrup and pour into a jar with the chia seeds - seal the jar and shake until the seeds are fully distributed. 

4. Store the jar in the fridge for 1-2 hours or overnight to set up. You can add more milk if you prefer a thinner consistency.

5. Serve in the jar or in a tea cup with fruit, and a garnish of black tea leaves - so good!

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Blueberry Muffin Energy Bites

Hey, here I am! Back on track with blogging after releasing my new e-book last week (check it out if you are in the mood for breakfast)! My goal this year is provide you with at least two delicious, plant based recipes each month - that goal has been made all the more legit thanks in part to my new camera, which I am using to photograph anything and everything - want to see 800 photos of my parents cat, anyone?

With all of that said, I am so excited to be posting another recipe for energy bites (you can check the others out here)! These ones hit the spot if you are craving a blueberry muffin but would rather the same flavors packed into a healthier, nutrient rich and spherical package. 

The combination of sweet and creamy cashews with the somewhat tart dried blueberries make this an uncanny replica of everyones most beloved muffin - plus they use only whole, unprocessed plant based ingredients that give you a real jolt of energy. They are the perfect thing to share with friends post-workout or to keep in the fridge for an on-the-go boost. 


Makes: 18-20 bites • Prep Time: 20 min


  • 1.5 cups packed pitted dates, any kind will do
  • 3/4 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup dried blueberries (I find mine in the health food store)
  • 1/2 cup died mulberries *optional
  • 2 tsp. chia seeds
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. salt *optional

1. Add the cashews to a food processor and pulse until a fine crumb forms - be careful to not pulse after this point, as you will literally make cashew butter. Transfer the cashew crumbs to a large bowl.

2. Pit your dates and add them to the food processor, pulse until a soft ball forms. If you are having trouble getting to this point add 1-2 tsp. of warm water to help move the process along. Add the date mixture to the bowl with the cashews.

3. Add the oats, blueberries, chia seeds, vanilla and salt to the bowl with the dates and cashews. Use your hands to fully integrate all of the ingredients - this part takes some muscle but it is totally worth it. 

4. Once fully combined, roll the mixture into 1.5" balls with the palms of both hands. Set in the fridge for a few hours to firm up.

NOTE: Alternatively, you could press the mixture into a baking dish and cut into sweet little blueberry muffin squares for a different take.

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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