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Easy Vegan Hot Chocolate + Hot Chocolate Protein Oats

 
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Who says hot chocolate is just for the holidays? I for one think it is now, in the throws of winter, that we most likely need this kind of sweet and simple pick-me-up! I am excited to be finally posting this recipe as it is one I have made for a few years and its a total two-for-one.

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First, I show you how to make a SUPER simple hot chocolate that is wildly healthy and full of chocolate flavor! This creamy hot coco is the perfect night cap on a chilly evening. I enjoy it as dessert - it keeps my sweets cravings satisfied without leaving me over-stuffed like some other sweet treats will do. You whip up this recipe in your blender and takes just minutes to make …if you don’t have a high speed blender (that gets hot) you can heat (and re-heat) the coco on your stove. This recipe makes enough for one steaming mug AND leftovers because….

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I transform the extra hot cocoa into something even better (if that’s possible) by pouring it over oats and other goodies to create the BEST overnight oats you’ll ever enjoy. This oat recipe is protein packed and full of ALL the good things. I enjoy this kind of thing during a busy morning, post workout. I use hemp protein, which is a super clean source of this essential macronutrient but usually a little unenjoyable for me….yet when you mix it with hot chocolate, well, that problem goes away.

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I love that you can customize this recipe and make it your own - I usually throw in whatever superfood powders I have lying around, most of them (especially the more earthy flavored ones) tend to bring out the flavor of the cacao - which is a great added bonus. I also love taking one thing recipe and using it as the base for another, especially this year as I commit to less waste … this recipe lets me do that in all the best ways!

Scroll down for the recipe!


Serves: 1 (twice) • Prep Time: 10 minutes/overnight


SUPER SIMPLE VEGAN HOT CHOCOLATE

  • 1 16oz. can lite coconut milk

  • 1.5 cup plant milk

  • 1/4 cup cacao powder (sub cocoa powder)

  • 1/4 cup liquid sweetener of choice (I love maple syrup, date syrup or agave)

  • pinch sea salt and cinnamon

  • Optional: reishi mushroom powder, maca powder, dandelion root powder, ashwaganda, etc, you can ALWAYS top with coconut cream, as I did in the photo


Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and blend on high for 3-4 minutes or until very warm. Taste and adjust sweetness, salt or spices. You can serve warm from the blender (it should be nice and frothy) OR you can take it a step further by adding it to a small saucepan on medium heat and simmering for 5 additional minutes, or until the mixture has thickened slightly. Serve in a cozy mug and top with coconut cream (the solids from a can of regular, not lite, coconut milk mixed with a little liquid sweetener) and a sprinkle of cinnamon. *This recipe can be double and tripled, be sure to reserve 1.5 cups for the overnight protein oats.


CHOCOLATE PROTEIN OATS

  • 3/4 cup old fashioned oats

  • 1 tsp. chia seeds

  • 1 tsp. flaked coconut

  • 1 scoop unflavored hemp protein powder (optional, can sub any other protein powder)

  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened dried cranberries

  • 2 tbsp. nuts or seeds such as walnuts, cashews or pumpkin seeds *optional

  • 1.5 cup of hot chocolate recipe from above, slightly or entirely cooled

  • Top with 1/4 cup fresh/frozen blueberries, sliced banana, flaked coconut, nut butter, etc.


The night before you want to enjoy your oats, take a clean 16 oz. mason jar and combine all of the ingredients above save the hot cocoa and toppings. Put the lid on and give the dry ingredients a shake to combine throughly. Then, add in the hot chocolate - once again put the lid on and shake til really well combined. Set in the fridge overnight. In the morning, top the jar off with any fresh additions and enjoy cold OR reheat in a sauce pan (adding additional liquid as needed, I used about 1/2 cup almond milk). Serve in a bowl or eat it right out of the jar!

 

LOVE THROUGH FOOD, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN




 

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Carrot Cake Oatmeal with Cashew Cream Cheese Icing

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Just in time for Spring! I love having something warm and nourishing in the morning and nothing is more nourishing than...cake. But really though, carrot cake is my jam. I would eat it for breakfast if I could (I even made a muffin recipe so that it wouldn't seem so crazy) but this oatmeal bowl miiiight actually be closer to the real thing. It's chock full of all the good stuff - raisins, carrot, pineapple, coconut and I even include a cashew cream cheese recipe below if you want to take it over the top.

Healthy, filling and absolutely indulgent - enjoy this breakfast anytime of year. 

P.S - I have an insane overnight version of this recipe in my Make-Ahead-Mornings Breakfast e-book - download it for FREE today by entering your email at the top of the site!

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CARROT CAKE OATMEAL

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats (or sub quick cooking steel cut oats)
  • 1/2 cup peeled + grated carrot plus 1 tbsp. for garnish
  • 1 cup coconut milk (sub water)
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen pineapple *optional
  • 1/4 cup raisins *optional
  • 2-3 tbsp. coconut sugar (omit or sub maple syrup/sweetener of choice)
  • 1-2 tbsp. coconut flakes
  • 1-2 tbsp. chopped walnuts (sub any other nut or nut butter)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla powder *optional 
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt

CASHEW CREAM CHEESE ICING

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight or for at least ten minutes in very hot water
  • 1/4 coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • The juice of half of one lemon
  • 1 tsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

METHOD

To make the oatmeal:

In a small sauce pan begin heating the milk on medium as you peel and grate your carrots (one very large carrot was enough). Add the oats, carrots, raisins, pineapple, coconut sugar and spices to the simmering milk and stir frequently, cooking until the carrot is soft and tender and the oats have absorbed most of the liquid - apx. 5 minutes. f you like your oats more runny add more liquid. 

Transfer the oats to a bowl and top with walnuts, more raisins, coconut and the reserved raw grated carrot. You can also add more cinnamon, coconut sugar or more pineapple. To take it over the top, blend up some cashew cream cheese icing (method below)!

To make the cashew cream cheese icing, add all ingredients to a blender and blend for at least one minute on high. The mixture should be totally smooth and pretty runny. There will be plenty left over (you need to make a reasonable amount in order for it to blend properly) but you can use it as you would a sweetened cream cheese on toast, bagels or any pastry. It stores in the fridge for a few days and thickens up a bit so it should get to a spreadable consistency using these ratios after sitting overnight.

 

LIVE IN THE LIGHT, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

 

 

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Coconut Quinoa Breakfast Bowl with Roasted Figs

coconut quinoa breakfast porridge with roasted figs

I am back! Moving across the country and diving back into 'reality' head first has proven to be very different and much more exhausting than my idealistic mind had dreamed of. It has always been my goal to be honest and real here on LCK, so while I am still in the throws of finding my way I ask for your support, understanding and patience as I might be at a 'slower roll' than usual with recipes, inspiration and more. 

Now that that's out of the way I really am excited to share this recipe with you because i have been dreaming of testing and posting it for the last month! I developed this energizing breakfast based off a dish I had at a cute little cafe in Santa Fe, NM on our way across the U.S last month. I LOVED the nutrient profile and unique flavor combination but wanted to make it my own with coconut milk and cardamom - so here is my take.  

I cook protein loaded quinoa with creamy, sweet coconut milk and spices to create a warm, nourishing base to nestle sweet and plump roasted figs, antioxidant rich berries and crunchy toasted nuts. This is all topped with tangy coconut yogurt that balances the flavors perfectly.

As with all my breakfast meals I look for a balanced ratio of proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats because that will leave you feeling fully satisfied and ready to start your day. A bowl like this gives you sustained energy, a boost of protein and a kick of micronutrients and it's great for mornings where you want something slightly more elevated than your old breakfast standards -oats, cereal, granola, avo toast, pancakes. Yes, roasting figs make be a little 'extra' and it may take a bit more time but trust me, it's so very worth it.

As always, let me know how you customize this recipe - it's so easy to top it with whatever you're craving and I can imagine any number of things would be amazing piled atop this creamy quinoa porridge - raspberries, coconut flakes, goji berries, etc.


Serves: 2 • Cook Time: 20 minutes


Quinoa Porridge

  • 1/2 cup quinoa (I used a multi-color variety but white or red quinoa will work nicely here as well)
  • 1 cup coconut milk from a can (or tetraback for less creamy consistency)

NOTE: If you're in a colder climate, the fat solids and liquid from the coconut milk will be separate in the can. You'll need an homogenous mixture for this recipe - simply pour the entire contents of the can into a small pot and simmer on medium heat while using a whisk or fork to combine. Once combined, pour the mixture into a storage vessel, measure out your required amount and use the rest to pour over the porridge or in a smoothie or over granola!

  • Maple syrup to taste (I used 1-2 tbsp.)
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom (you can sub cinnamon or vanilla)
  • Pinch of pink salt

Roasted Figs

  • 8-10 dried figs (I used both blonde and mission varieties)
  • 1/2 tsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup

Toppings

  • Spinkel of toasted slivered almonds
  • Dollop of coconut yogurt (or sub any type of plant-based yogurt or even coconut cream, aka a bit of the solids from the coconut milk can)
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Splash of coconut milk
  • Sprinkle of cardamom and pink salt

Method

Preheat your oven to 375*F. Add quinoa, coconut milk, maple syrup, cardamom and salt to a small pot off the heat and stir to combine. Simmer on medium heat for about 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and fragrant, stirring every few minutes. The quinoa should absorb most of the coconut milk without being overly dry, if it dried out too soon, add more liquid.

While the quinoa is cooking, remove the stems from the dried figs and slice them in half so that the seeds are exposed. You can also use fresh figs if they are in season although the roasting time will be longer. Add the figs to a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. Massage them with coconut oil and maple syrup and cook in the over for 10-12 minutes until they are plump, fragrant and caramelized.

NOTE: Allow the figs cool for at least 5 minutes before plating so the sugars have a chance to harden, otherwise they might have a "tacky" texture.

Add the cooked quinoa into two bowls and top with the roasted figs and all other desired toppings. 

 

LIVE IN THE LIGHT, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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GF Breakfast Baked Fruit Crumble - Ginger Berry Peach

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

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

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

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


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


Fruit

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

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

Other great fruit combinations:

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

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

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

Toppings

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

1. Preheat the oven to 375*F

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

LIMITLESS LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Crisp + Chewy Orange Vanilla Granola Bars - Chocolate Covered!

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

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

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

Let me know if you give them a try!

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


Dry Ingredients

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

Wet Ingredients

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

Chocolate Coating (optional)

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

LIMITLESS LOVE,  LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

 

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Sweet Zucchinni Protein Breakfast Bowl

I've wanted to post this recipe for a while but I've put it off, because, well, this delicious dish is hard to make *look* pretty ... and when describing it, it doesn't exactly *sound* delicious either BUT LISTEN, it's great, just try it, just trust me, I promise! You'll never even notice the zucchini but you'll love how full and satisfied you'll feel and you just won't believe and tasty this bowl is!

I have a love affair with zucchinis - and let me tell you why...

1. They are super cheap (we grow our own in the summer)

2. They are nutrient dense (B vitamins, magnesium are two of my favorites for balancing hormones) 

3. They are absolutely flavor neutral, which leads me to my next point...

4. They are a great bulking agent for a huge variety of dishes like this breakfast bowl - not to mention soups, stir fry and YES, even smoothies (in place of frozen banana). 

YES, that's right - zucchini isn't just for savory dishes! I am telling you, you are going to love it as an addition to your breakfast bowls because it bulks them out with healthy fiber and plant nutrients ... bigger bowl of food = happier tummy. Look at it this way - If you can get a vegetable worked into your morning meal without even knowing it's there flavor wise - why wouldn't you give it a try? 

I up the anty even more by using quinoa AND oatmeal for a boost of grain-free protein (quinoa is actually a seed) but you can of course use full-on oats here, no judgement. Alternatively, you can use only quinoa (if you're gluten free or paleo-based, for example) - just be sure to add flax or chia or else it will stay far too watery, especially with the addition of the squash. 

You can flavor this bowl anyway you like but I include my favorite mix of warm, spicy sweetness below. 

HOT TIP: *If* you're still like - WOAH, I kinda want to try this but I think you're bat shit crazy for putting squash in oatmeal...you can use half a small grated zucchini and half a mashed banana to ease you into the idea. 

Let me know if you give this a try, you brave, brave soul! 


Serves: 1 • Prep Time: 3 minutes • Cook Time: 6 minutes


  • 1 small zucchini, grated (option to peel if you wish)
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 -1.5 cup plant based milk or water
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. ground flax OR chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom 
  • 1/4 pink salt
  • TOPPINGS: I used sliced banana, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, almond butter

1. Grate a small zucchini directly into a small pot with the oats, quinoa, flax seeds, maple syrup, seasonings and plant milk.

2. Stir to combine and put the mixture on med-high heat. Stir frequently for 5-6 minutes or until the zucchini is tender. If you notice your mixture getting too thick for your liking before the zucchini is totally cooked, add more plant milk or water and continue to stir.

3. Pour the cereal into a bowl and top with your favorite flavorings - I include what I added above but you could just as soon add fresh mango, berries, pear, apple, almonds, raisins, etc. Yum!

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Chocolate Protein Quinoa Waffles

QUE ALL THE BREAKFAST FEELS. I am so excited about this recipe, you guys...I barely have words. It is by far the best waffle batter I have ever made from a taste and texture standpoint and that is saying something because I am basically a Lesley Knope when it comes to waffles. I think the proportions of ingredients are just spot on and I can't wait to experiment with it more so I can offer more pancake/waffle variations. I love how simple they are to make - its as easy as throwing ingredients you probably already have on hand into your blender and turning the waffle iron on!

The hero of these waffles is most certainly the quinioa 'flour' as it aids in getting the exterior of the waffle super crisp and almost nutty in flavor while the inside stays soft and fluffy. Banana adds a subtle sweetness and moistens the batter while the chia acts as a binder (the chia seeds are blended into the batter here so you don't have to worry about getting little black seeds stuck in your teeth). Chocolate protein powder rounds out the macronutrient profile of this recipe making them as healthy as they are delicious. 

These are the perfect Sunday morning breakfast. Try them out and let me know what you think! 

 


Serves: 3 large waffles (depends on your waffle iron) • Prep Time: 5 min • Cook Time: 3-5 min each waffle so all-in breakfast is ready in around 20 minutes time


  • 2/3 cup oats, blended into flour
  • 2/3 cup (uncooked) qunioa, blended into flour
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1.5 cups almond milk
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa/cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp. vegan chocolate  protein powder* 

ADDITIONAL NOTES ON INGREDIENTS:

Protein powder is optional here, to omit just be sure to compensate with more cocoa powder or else your batter will be a little too wet, making the end result kind of...damp (aka not cute).

If you aren't a chocolate lover (yes, I know you people exist) and wanted to make these sans chocolate flavor, omit the cocoa and chocolate protein and replace with a vanilla (or plain) protein powder. 

If you wanted to use this recipe for pancakes, I would recommend experimenting with the amount of milk. Waffle batters are traditionally a little less thick than American pancake batter so I might try by cutting it down to just a cup.


1. In a high speed blender, add in oats and uncooked quinoa then blend until a fine flour-like consistency is reached. Transfer the dry mixture to a bowl while you blend the rest of the ingredients.

2. In the empty blender, add bananas, plant milk, baking soda, chia seeds, cocoa powder and protein powder - blend till frothy.

3. Add the flour mixture back into the blender with the wet ingredients. Blend until fully combined. Plug in your waffle iron at this time to get it up to temp.

NOTE: Your mixture should slightly thinner than a standard pancake batter as waffle batter is traditionally this way. 

4. Spray your waffle iron well with cooking spray (I use the coconut spray from Trader Joes). Do NOT skip this step or you will experience devastating waffle carnage. 

5. Add about 1/3 of the batter to your hot waffle iron and spread it out slightly using a spatula. Exact amount of batter depends on your iron. Cook time will also vary but be sure to "flip" your iron half way though (if it has that feature) to ensure crispness on both sides.

6. Carefully remove from the waffle iron and repeat! Dress these up to your hearts content with syrup, melted chocolate, jam, fruit, nuts, etc. I made a delicious drizzle out of equal parts maple syrup, cocoa powder and almond butter. Yum.

 

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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The Best Granola You've Ever Had

I don't know whether to start with the fact that this granola is seriously healthy, or that it's insanely delicious - whatever angle works best to convince you that you MUST MAKE IT, ASAP.

Granola is one of those things I love to have around to sprinkle on everything - coconut yogurt, smoothie bowls, fruit bowls -if you have never made granola at home before you might be surprised to learn how easy and inexpensive it is. I mean, we all know store bought granola can be a rip off...its like $6 bucks for a tiny amount that I can practically inhale on the ride home from the store. When you make your own you can make as much as you want, it's usually much healthier than the oil-laden store bought stuff and you can select your own delicious combination of ingredients. Plus, you now no longer have to nearly cry when you run out - just make another batch ...all it takes is a little bit of time and a few simple ingredients!

The recipe below is protein packed (quinoa + pumpkin seeds), gluten free and naturally sweetened with banana and just a little bit of maple syrup. I used a little bit of oil spray but you could easily omit that - the final product may look a bit less toasted but it will taste just as great.The quinoa and buckwheat groats (buckinis) give it a crazy crunch -seriously- this stuff stays so crunchy even after MINUTES in milk - and the coconut and cardamom make the best flavor combination. The method is as simple as tossing together all of the ingredients and throwing it in the oven - let it cool a bit and you have perfect, crispy, toasty, tasty and healthy granola... if you can avoid eating it all in the process.

Of course feel free to use this recipe as a jumping off point for your own special granola recipe - pretty much any combination of grains, nuts and seeds will be amazing! But note that if you do wish to add dried fruit or very oily nuts (like walnuts or pine nuts), fold them in after the cooking process is over or else you'll have a burnt mess.

Now I am going to go eat this granola instead of making an actual dinner! Happy cooking!

 


Serves: 8 • Prep Time: 5 min • Cook Time: 45-50 min


  • 1 cup GF rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup dried buckinis (buckwheat groats)
  • 1 cup large flaked & dried coconut
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 large ripe banana (or 1.5 small bananas), mashed
  • 1 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-2 tbsp. maple syrup (depending on desired sweetness)
  • 1 tsp. coconut spray oil or melted coconut oil (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 325* F.

2. In a large bowl, mash your banana till totally smooth and then add all of your ingredients - mix well.

3. Spread the mixture out on a parchment lined baking tray, spray lightly with oil. Mat down the granola into an even layer with a spatula (this ensures you'll get those much desired clusters). Once in an even layer, liberally spray the top of the granola with the coconut oil spray.

NOTE: If you are using melted coconut oil, simply mix into the bowl with the other ingredients.

ANOTHER NOTE: If you are doubling or tripling the recipe, make sure you use more than one sheet tray - the granola will never crisp up right if it's not in an even thin layer.

4. Place the sheet tray in the oven for a total of 45-50 minutes, pulling it out and tossing it to avoid burning every 15 minutes - you can mat it back down lightly after each toss but don't worry too much, you want uneven clumps. At the end of the cook time the granola should feel dry to the touch but it will continue to brown and crisp as it cools so do not over bake.

5. Allow to cool on the counter. Stores in a mason jar in the fridge for at least a week.

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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Easy Cardamom Banana Oats

These photos may appear to look like just a pile of toppings but trust me, there's some oats under there...and they are THE BEST OATS EVER, which is a lot coming for me because oats are kinda my thing. 

The blend of earthy, warm and spicy cardamom (a welcome break from the usual cinnamon) and sweet banana truly take your usual breakfast to a whole different level of delicious - add blueberries and other toppings and you are in breakfast paradise. I first had the berry + cardamom combination in by way of pancakes at G*Zen, a fantastic vegan restaurant near my home town and I have been obsessed ever since.

Using banana as your sweetener in hot cereals is great for two reasons... (1) it allows you to use up those *really* ripe bananas that may be a little less than appetizing and (2) it adds a natural, subtle sweetness that compliments most flavors very well. When you cook the banana in with the oats from the start as I do in the instructions below, they help to also thicken and bulk up your breakfast.


Serves: 1-2 (depending on hunger level) • Prep time: 7 minutes


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 super ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 cup water + 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice and nutmeg 
  • 1/4 tsp. pink salt

1. Mash your banana well using a fork and add it to a medium sized sauce pan with the oats, water, almond milk and spices. 

2. Cook on medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken to your desired consistency.

3. Add them to a bowl and top with whatever you like. I added more almond milk, blue berries, pistachios, goji berries and date syrup!

Easy as pie!

 

LIGHT & LOVE, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

 

 

 

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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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