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Hearty Vegan Minestrone Soup

I think fall is going to be a good season for recipes around here - I am just so much more inspired to cook and create in the cooler months, how about you?

But in all honesty, what inspired me to make this soup was nothing more than feeling really shitty. I started a new schedule at work coming hot off the heels of our largest wedding of the season (I work as a cook/baker at an Inn on the Northern California coast) and I have just been so run down. Today I took a NAP, something I haven't been able to do in years and upon waking I had a bit of a sore throat. But after laying there, worried about this little tickle for a minute I was hit with a blast of energy to make a soup...a minestrone soup - something that always made me feel better kid (Progresso anyone?). But rather than being a less than appealing water-y version, I would make the best vegan version of the classic Italian soup...there's a secret to that and it involves a on for the recipe.

The best thing about a soup like this is that you probably already have all of the ingredients in your kitchen right now. This minestrone is rich, filling and full of flavor but its also inexpensive, easy to prepare and so damn quick (perfect for those nights you're feeling like shit). I imagine that you will (like me) also feel much better after eating a meal so high in nutrients, veggies and fiber rich beans. It also has no salt, oil, gluten or added sugar to boot. Certain to chase away the sniffles.

Serves: 6 • Total Prep + Cook Time: 30 minutes

  • I clove minced garlic + 1 whole clove garlic
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 5 celery stalks, diced
  • 6-8 mini gold potatoes, diced (or 4-5 small gold potatoes)
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1/4 cup + 3 cups water
  • 1 vegan salt-free boulion cube
  • 1 16 oz can salt-free diced tomatoes
  • 1 oz. can salt-free tomato paste
  • 1 16 oz can salt-free canillini beans, rinsed well
  • 1 16 oz can salt-free kidney beans, rinsed well
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 handfuls fresh or frozen greens (I used a mix of baby kale, spinach and chard)
  • 1 handful fresh herbs (I used a combo of parsley, rosemary and basil from my garden)
  • Fresh cracked pepper to taste

1. Add minced garlic and chopped onion to a large pot with 1/4 cup water and turn on med-high heat.

2. While your aromatics get soft, chop carrots, celery and potatoes into 1/2" pieces and add to the pot. Allow the vegetables to soften as the water evaporates (about 5 minutes).

3. Once most of the water is gone add in 3 more cups of water and a veggie bouillon cube. Cook on medium-high until the veggies are tender (about 10 minutes).

4. In the meantime prep zucchini and greens. Open all cans, rinse and drain your beans.

5. To a blender add the can of tomatoes and tomato paste along with about 1/3 of the beans, nutritional yeast, a whole clove of garlic and the handful of fresh herbs. Blend until smooth and add the the pot, stirring to combine.

5. Add in the zucchini and greens to the pot and cook until just tender (about three minutes).

6. Remove from the heat, add a bit more fresh parsley to top and serve alone or with pasta, quinoa or crusty bread.





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4 Ingredient Raw Vegan Brownie Bites

You are 4 ingredients away from sheer and utter bliss. These things should come with a gold metal - if you can get them to the point of completion without eating half the mix before hand (because you've gotta 'test it') then I applaud you, it was really hard for me. Chewy, nutty, chocolatey, bite-size little nuggets of energy packed, whole ingredient, raw, vegan, heaven. If you haven't noticed, chocolate (more specifically, brownies) is kinda a theme around here but I just can't help myself, I constantly crave them and when they are this healthy my indulgence is to your benefit! Dates pack a nutritional punch, as do walnuts. Google the specifics ... or just trust me.

Now, a recipe for date balls isn't revolutionary by any means but it should be shared none the less and that's because you can have so much fun making this your own - I make a ton of add-in suggestions below but the base recipe is just so simple and takes no time to come together!

So without anymore blabbing...the recipe...

Makes: 14 bites (Roughly, 1.5" Diameter) • Active Time: 15 minutes • Inactive Time: 30 minutes

  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raw oats ground into flour
  • 1 cup pitted Medjool dates (about 12 large dates)
  • 1-2 tbsp raw cacao powder

Add-in ideas:

Spices - Cinnamon, cardamom, chili, all spice

Flavorings - Instant coffee, vanilla, almond extract, mint extract, coconut extract, orange zest, maca powder (mmm...malty), sea salt

Bulk builders - Coconut flakes, cacao nibs, chocolate chips, chopped nuts or whole seeds, dried fruits

Coat it - Chocolate "shell" (see below), coconut flakes, extra cacao, hemp seeds, protein powder

1. In a food processor, use the "s" blade to finely grind your oats into flour, then remove oats and add to a bowl.

2. Pulse the raw walnuts in the processor until they are a sand-like consistency, remove and add to a bowl.

3. Add the pitted dates to the food processor and pulse till nearly smooth.

Note re: dates: You want your dates to be as moist as possible to keep the mixture together, so if they feel too hard or don't process well, give them a soak in some hot water for 10 minutes - then drain and towel dry before adding to your food processor. 

4. Add all the ingredients into the food processor and pulse to combine.

Note: Mixture should appear loose but easily come together when squeezed between your finger tips.

5. Remove a rounded tablespoon of the brownie mixture and form a ball, repeat until it's all gone. Alternatively, you could press your brownies into a pan and cut into pieces but I prefer the "ball" presentation. 

6. Bring to gathering, impress everyone OR grab one for a run, have energy OR enjoy many by yourself on your couch, love life.

P.S You can eat them straight away but they are better if chilled. Keeps in the fridge for weeks...but lets get real, they won't last that long. 

Get extra-fancy: If you really want to up the decadence level and take these bites from pre-workout indulgence to full blown dessert-to-impress make the chocolate shell coating shown in the photo above. It's easy! Simply heat 2 tbsp coconut oil in a pan on low heat till melted then whisk in 1 tsp. cacao and 1 tbsp maple syrup. Add a brownie bite to the coconut oil mixture and use a spoon to coat. Remove the bite and place it on parchment paper, allow to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so that the "shell" sets completely. 




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One-bowl Vegan Banana Bread

Moist, fluffy, rich and comforting. A one bowl wonder. Simple, clean and some what healthy. The crumble topping - insane. Worthy of many more incomplete sentences. Banana bread is a totally nostalgic thing for me...I think I had it for breakfast every day one summer when working only a block down from my favorite coffee shop which had THE-MOST amazing breakfast sweets and tons of friends who would give me free stuff. Anyway, I somehow never got sick of banana bread but since being vegan, I have struggled to find a totally perfect recipe - they always came out rock hard, undercooked or some weird combination of the two so I set out to make my own...

As someone who doesn't always have the best luck with baking, my favorite thing about this recipe (other than the fact that it's insanely good) is how fool proof it is. I have made it many times with slight variances to the ingredients and it always comes out great, which is not always the case with vegan stuff in general. I've fooled countless carnivores with this one too - everyone is astonished when I tell them there's no eggs, butter, whatever.

Fair's not my healthiest offering (we're talking some oil and refined sugar) but it's not terrible and is a true crowd pleaser.  Make this one, FAST, and let me know how it goes.

  • 3 very ripe peeled bananas
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil/vegan butter/canola oil
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond milk + 1.5 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white flour or spelt flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat or buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon (optional: cardamom, all spice or nutmeg)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Optional Crumble Topping 

  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar/coconut sugar or maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. coconut or canola oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
  • Pinch of salt

Optional: 1 cup chopped walnuts, cut up dates, raisins, vegan chocolate chips, etc.

1. Preheat your over to 350* and mash the bananas well in a large bowl.

2. Add the coconut oil, sugars, plant milk + ACV and vanilla to the bowl and mix til combined. 

3. Add in all of your dry ingredients right on top of the wet and mix just 'til the batter comes together. 

4. Pour your batter into a parchment lined loaf pan.

5. Prepare your topping by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and then sprinkle over the top of the batter.

6. Bake the bread for 60 minutes (25 minutes for muffins) or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the loaf. Let the bread cool to room temperature before slicing. 



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Chocolate Cupcakes with Cookies-and-Cream Frosting - Vegan!


Chocolate Cupcakes with Cookies-and-Cream Frosting - Vegan!

So, I tend to not be the best baker. I'm reasonably terrible at following other peoples' recipes (or listening to anyone about anything...ever) so when I decided to give vegan cupcakes a try for a party I wasn't expecting much. I looked at a few posts online but mostly improvised as I went along, and by some grace of the universe it is hands-down the best cupcake I have ever had- vegan or not!  Gluten-free, oil-free, vegan and low glycemic BUT trust me, there's no loss of flavor, texture or richness. You could fool even the most educated conventional lover with these moist little bad boys. Give them a try and let me know what you think! 

Almost too good to frost...almost. 

Serves: 12 • Prep Time: 10 min • Cook Time: 20-22 min


  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used flax milk)
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar 
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract/paste
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 2 tsp instant coffee
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup high quality coco/cacao powder 
  • 1 cup gluten free flour (I used this one)
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips (optional)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of pink salt

1. Preheat the over to 350° F and line your cupcake tin

2. Add apple cider vinegar to the almond milk, stir and set aside for a 5 minutes to let curdle slightly 

2. In a large bowl mash 1 banana until it reaches a near liquid state, then add in the sugar, flax and vanilla and whisk til well combined and bubbles form (about 1 minute)

3. Add the milk, flour, coco powder, coffee, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the banana and sugar mix 

4. Stir to combine, fold in chocolate chips, and fill your muffin tins 3/4 of the way to the top.

5. Bake in the over for 20-22 minutes

6. Allow to cool completely before frosting


  • 1 can full fat coconut milk, chilled 
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or other liquid sweetener 
  • 1 1/2 cup crushed cookies (I used these)

1. To make the frosting add maple syrup along with the solid part of your can of coconut milk to a cold bowl (set aside the water-y of the coconut milk part in a smoothie or something), whisk until the mixture is light and airy. 

2. Add the cookies to a plastic bag and crush them up as finely as you'd like and add to the coconut cream. You can reserve a bit to sprinkle on top as garnish. 

3. Let chill in the fridge till the cupcakes are completely cool, then frost away! 


Love & Light, Live Clean Kitchen


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