Easy, refreshing mediterranean pasta salad

This is part of my "real life recipes" series on youtube, where I share recipes that I genuinely cook in my home on a regular basis. Basically these are our go-to recipes that are in regular rotation, not just for special occasions. 

 

What I like about this recipe is you don't need every ingredient. I had intended on making it with the veggies shown PLUS artichokes and red onion. But when I didn't have those two, I made it anyway and it was delicious! I personally would've added kalamata olives too - but some of the pickier eaters in my family don't like them. Plus the exact amounts don't REALLY matter. Like olives? Add as much as you want. Hate cucumber? Leave it out!

 

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

  • 10-14 oz pasta, cooked, drained, and rinsed
  • 2 small cans of black olives
  • 1 chopped bell pepper
  • 1 chopped cucumber
  • 1 can of great northern beans (drained and rinsed)
  • ¼ cup chopped pepperoncini peppers

For the dressing:

  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • 2+ tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp garlic (or more)
  • Salt to taste (add water if necessary to thin)

Start by boiling the pasta. While it's cooking, chop the veggies and mix up the dressing. For the dressing, just combine the ingredients (lemon juice, tahini, garlic, and salt) and mix very well until a thick dressing forms. If it is TOO thick and you're unable to stir it well, just add a little water. Once the pasta has cooked, drain it and rinse it. Toss all ingredients together and serve cold.

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Overnight Yogurt Oats + High Protein Options

These overnight oats are HUGE hit with my yogurt-obsessed kids, but are also super nutritious and very filling for breakfast. Mix everything together the night before, then keep in the fridge until you're ready to eat. Top with granola, pumpkin seeds, berries, dried fruit, sliced banana, more almond butter, hemp seeds, or anything you can imagine!

 

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Basic Overnight Yogurt Oats:

  • 1 package of soy or almond yogurt (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew, etc)
  • 1/2 cup plant milk (soy, almond, rice, etc)
  • 1/2 cup quick oats

 

 

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Want to transform these into protein-packed oats? Just do the following!

  1. Replace soy yogurt with high-protein cashew milk yogurt like Vega brand
  2. Use a fortified soy milk for maximum protein
  3. Add 1/2 serving of protein powder
  4. Top with high-protein flavors like hemp or pumpkin seeds

Thanksgiving 2017 Menu - a Holiday Food Guide

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Every Thanksgiving I tell myself I’m not going to cook a huge feast, and every year I end up cooking a huge feast anyway. Below are some of my favorite holiday recipes from this year (and previous years!). It's a guide for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other big family gathering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving 2017 Menu

Vegan Turkey Loaf

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Pumpkin Bread

  • This was my own personal recipe, but at the last minute I decided to make it into muffins instead of a loaf. This made cutting/serving much easier for our “help yourself” style dinner. I baked them for about 5 minutes less and put them in cupcake liners for easy removal.

Garlic Rolls

  • I have an old video about these rolls, but the premise is pretty basic. Use any homemade bread recipe but after the second rise cut the tops with an “X” pattern and stuff with (vegan) garlic butter. You could even skip the homemade bread part and stuff store bought yeast rolls as long as they’re vegan-friendly. My favorite vegan butter is Miyoko’s because its palm oil free and made from whole food ingredients. Plus they sell it at Trader Joe’s!

Mac & Cheese

  • My recipe is based on VeganYumYum’s recipe -- with a few changes. I like to increase the amount of miso and tahini, and leave out the vegan margarine. To increase the creaminess I also add a little extra cashews. I triple the recipe for a 9x13 pan of mac & cheese -- we like ours extra cheesy!

Green Bean Casserole

  • There isn’t really a recipe for this, so much as a general process. I sautéed mushroom, onion, and garlic until the onion was translucent. Then I added 2 cups of vegetable broth and a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch. Stir until a creamy gravy has formed. Mix the gravy with canned or blanched fresh green beans, then add to a casserole dish and top with crunchy fried onions. Not the healthiest but brings back all my childhood memories of the canned “cream of mushroom soup” version my mom used to make.

Stuffing

Cranberry Sauce

  • This is Zoee’s favorite! You just combine 1 bag of fresh cranberries, 1 cup of sugar, and 2 cups of liquid. I like to use lemon, lime, or orange juice for part of the liquid. Simmer for 20-30 minutes on the stove until the cranberries have all cooked down into a delicious jelly-like consistency. I add a little citrus zest once it is done for extra flavor. If any is leftover (rare!) we eat it on waffles the morning after Thanksgiving -- soooo tasty!

 

I hope this helps you when making your own holiday menu. Are there any “must have” dishes that your family enjoys?

Check out our Thanksgiving ‘17 Vlog below!

 

Jackfruit Bacon Bites

Jackfruit is everywhere right now. Every time I buy one fresh, I have at least one person stop me in the grocery store to ask me what it is, how it tastes, and how to cook it. I’m not really surprised -- it is super delicious and very versatile. Check out my recent video where I compare fresh jackfruit, canned ripe jackfruit, and canned jackfruit in brine.

 

One of my favorite ways to eat jackfruit is as a savory meat substitute. The internet is overflowing with recipes for pulled pork (I even have my own video here). I wanted to do something different, using one of my favorite flavor combos: salty, sweet, & smokey.

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Jackfruit Bacon Bites

1 can jackfruit (unripe, packed in water or brine)

1 tbsp liquid smoke

3 tbsp maple syrup

3 tbsp tamari

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

Pinch of smoked paprika

 

Trim the jackfruit to remove any tough parts and then slice thinly. Press between two clean cloths to remove excess moisture. Whisk together the remaining ingredients and toss with the trimmed jackfruit. Marinade in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread jackfruit on parchment paper in a single thin layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through the baking time.

Lactation Cookies for Everyone (Oil Free, Vegan, Gluten Free...)

I love any excuse to eat cookies. Who doesn't? Breastfeeding is so challenging, so exhausting, and so deserving of cookies.

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Lactation Cookies!

 

These cookie are soft and chewy, and can be easily made ahead and stored in the freezer. Enjoy!These lactation cookies are vegan, gluten free, oil free, and (fairly) healthy. Best of all: they are full of ingredients that are supposed to boost milk production! (And even if they don't, they still give you a great excuse to make cookies).  If you like your cookies on the sweeter side, add one full cup of sweetener instead of only a half of a cup. And of course, the more chocolate chips you add, the better they taste!

Soft and chewy, these also freeze well. Enjoy!

Lactation Cookies

  • 4 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 mashed ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup sweetener (I used coconut sugar, but I also suggest date sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup oat flour (you can grind oats in a food processor!)
  • 1/4 cup brewer's yeast (if you eat gluten free, be sure to buy a GF version!)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

In a mixing bowl combine the water and flax seeds and let sit for 2-3 minutes until the ground flax seeds have thickened the water. Stir in the mashed banana, vanilla, and sweetener. In another small bowl, combine dry ingredients (rolled oats, oat flour, brewer's yeast, baking soda, and salt). Fold into to the banana mixture and stir just until combined. Add chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes. 

Vegan "Cheese" Square Crackers

Merc loves watching the show Octonauts, where the sea adventurers save animals and feed them cheesy looking "fish crackers". He woke up the other day with one thing on his mind: making "beegan" (vegan) fish crackers!

Fishy tasting crackers don't even sound remotely appealing to me, so I convinced him to make some "Cheese It" type crackers instead. Inspired by this recipe from the Minimalist Baker, these crackers were fast, easy, and really tasty!

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Vegan Cheese Square Crackers:

  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2-3 tbsp oil of choice (I used avocado blend)
  • 2-4 tbsp cold water

 

In a food processor, pulse the oats until they are a fine powder. Add the remaining dry ingredients and pulse until well combined. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil. (Stop and scrape the sides if necessary). Add just enough cold water to form a stiff dough. (If too crumbly, pulse in a little more water -- try squeezing it in your hand, it should stick together but not be too runny!). Roll the dough out and cut into squares. You can make these as thick or thin as you'd like, but we prefer about 1/4 thick cut into 1 inch-ish squares using a pizza cutter. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Check after 12 minutes -- they will brown quickly!

 

 

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Cheap & Easy One Pot Curry Pasta

I'm putting together some simple, cheap recipes that are 100% vegan. Here's the first: One pot red curry pasta based on a recipe found here. 

 

We normally shop at Costco, Trader Joe's, Sprouts, Winco, a local asian grocer, and sometimes Cardenas (not all in one week! Just wherever the best sales are, or wherever we're running errands near).  Everything in this recipe was found at Winco, but I know that everywhere from Walmart to Whole Foods carries the ingredients. I wanted to make something that is healthy, easy, and can be made by anyone!

 

  • 1 pound pasta ($0.75 in the bulk section)
  • 2 zucchini ($1.12)
  • 2 cups chopped tomato (I used cherry tomatoes since they were sale for $0.99)
  • bell pepper (I used mini peppers since they were on sale $2/bag. I used about half)
  • 1 cup frozen peas (about 1/4 a bag that was $1 ... so $0.25 worth)
  • juice of 1 lemon ($0.34)
  • 1 can coconut milk ($1.50)
  • 2 cloves of garlic ($0.10)
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste (1/4 a jar that was $2.50... so about $0.63)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste (1/8 of a tube that was $2... so about $0.25)
  • 4 cups water

Before starting chop all of the vegetables into bite size pieces, and mince the garlic. In a large pot sauté the zucchini and bell pepper in a little water (you can also use oil if you'd prefer) for about two minutes. Add the garlic, stir, and cook for another minute. Add all of the remaining ingredients EXCEPT for the peas and tomatoes, stir well, and cook for approximately 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, add the peas and tomatoes, and cook for 2 more minutes. 

 

This recipe totals around $7 and is 4-6 servings. Very filling, creamy, and delicious!

Healthy(ish) Perfect Pumpkin Bread

So... I normally stay away from oil. And I'm working on an oil-free version of this recipe, but for now enjoy this recipe that includes only 1/3 cup of coconut oil. (If you successfully leave it out, share your trick with me in the comments below!)

 

This bread is seriously perfect, though! Guilt-free because there's no white sugar or flour, but still super fluffy and just sweet enough. This would be prefect with coffee around the holidays! You could always add some chopped pecans or walnuts to give it a little something extra. 

 

(A vegan adaptation of this recipe)

  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup sweetener (maple syrup or agave)
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 5 tbsp water
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup rice/almond/hemp/etc milk
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 425F ***

Whisk until well combined:

  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup sweetener (maple syrup or agave)
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 5 tbsp water

Then mix in:

  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup rice/almond/hemp/etc milk
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Then slowly stir in:

  • 1 3/4 whole wheat flour

And finally, fold in:

  • 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips

Pour into a greased baking dish. 

*** Bake at 435F for 10 minutes, then drop the temperature to 350F and bake for 30-40 more minutes (until toothpick comes out clean). 

Black Bean Brownies

I can't stop making these brownies, so I thought I'd share the recipe again (you can see the YouTube video here). 

 

1 can of black beans (about 1.5 cups)
1 cup of very soft dates (soak in warm water for 30 min if necessary)
1 ¼ cup ground almonds, or other nuts (you can also replace with coconut flour)
4 tbsp maple syrup
6 heaping tbsp of cocoa powder
4 tbsp chia seeds soaked in 9 tbsp of water
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla powder
¾ cup dairy free chocolate chips (try Trader Joe’s semi sweet, or Enjoy Life brand)
(optional) chopped walnuts for topping


1) Combine the black beans and dates in a food processor. Combine until NO whole beans are left. 
2) Add the ground almonds, maple syrup, cocoa powder, chia seeds, salt, and vanilla. Pulse for 30 seconds to a minute until combined. 
3) Stir in the chocolate chips. 
4) Place in a greased baking dish (or use parchment paper, like I did!) and top with walnuts and additional chocolate chips. 
5) Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. It will be a little gooey until it cools. 

 

Easy Vegan Ranch

I grew up in the south and we ate ranch on EVERYTHING! I looooooove ranch dressing! This is my vegan take on ranch that is fast, easy, and healthy. No oils, soy, or dairy. If you give it a try, let me know what you think!

 

  • 1 cup raw cashew pieces
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar (I like unfiltered)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dried onion (or onion powder)
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water

 

Blend all of the ingredients in a high speed blender until creamy and smooth. The consistency will be a little thin, but it will thicken in the fridge. 

Vegan Hamburger Helper

I grew up eating Hamburger Helper on a regular basis. It was an easy go-to meal for my busy mom. I didn't realize I missed that processed, salty deliciousness until my friend Lizi made some homemade (non-vegan) Hamburger Helper. The smell was so good! Cheesy, savory, garlicy... mmm! I decided to try my hand at a vegan version and this is what I came up with. 

 

Vegan Hamburger Helper

Cheesy Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 cup finely chopped potato
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp miso
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp salt (or more to taste)

Seasoning Mix Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp corn starch 
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • pinch black pepper
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp dried onions
  • 3-4 tbsp water

Hamburger & Pasta:

  • 1 pound of pasta
  • 1 package of vegan ground beef (I used Boca)
  • 6-8 cups of water

 

  1. Combine the diced potato, carrot, and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Simmer until the potatoes and carrots are soft. 
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown the "ground beef". Add the pasta and water and simmer. Keep an eye out and add more water if necessary. Cook for approximately 10 minutes. 
  3. In a high speed blender (or food processor) combine all of the "cheesy sauce" ingredients, including the cooked carrots/potatoes AND their cooking liquid. Blend on high speed until creamy. 
  4. Combine all of the "Seasoning Mix" ingredients in a small bowl and stir. Add to the large skillet with ground beef and pasta. Bring it to a boil. The remaining liquid should thicken. NOTE: adding water to the powdered seasoning before adding them to the skillet will prevent lumps!
  5. Finally, stir the cheesy mixture in the blender into the cooked, seasoned pasta. 
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Healthy No-Bake Protein Brownies

The weather here in Las Vegas has been over 100 degrees, which is way too hot to turn on the oven and bake brownies. These gooey no-bake bars are the perfect solution because they set up quickly in the fridge. Plus, they are grain free, vegan, and paleo-friendly! That means I can eat 5 per day, right? 

 

 

 

 

 

Brownie:  

  • 1/2 cup flour (almond meal or coconut flour -- I used coconut flour)
  • 1/2 cocoa powder 
  • 1 scoop of protein powder (I used hemp protein)
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (I used homemade peanut butter)
  • 3/4 cup brown rice syrup (or other sweetener: maple syrup, agave, etc)
  • 1/2 cup cooked & mashed sweet potato (mash or blend until there are no lumps!)
  • pinch of salt

 

 

Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup dates, soaked in warm water until soft
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1-3 tbsp nut milk (I used homemade brazil nut milk)

 

  1. Sift together the nut flour, cocoa powder, and protein powder and set aside. 
  2. Heat up the sweetener and nut butter until melted and combined. You can do this on the stovetop or microwaves. 
  3. Combine the two mixtures and stir well. Fold in the mashed sweet potato until everything is completely incorporated. The consistency should be similar to cookie dough. If too runny, add a little more flour. 
  4. Line a 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper. Spread the mixture evenly in the baking dish and refrigerate for at least an hour. 
  5. Meanwhile, blend all of the ingredients for the frosting in a food processor or high speed blender. Add the nut milk slowly until frosting consistency. Scrape down the sides often to ensure that the frosting is lump-free. 
  6. After refrigeration, spread frosting onto brownies and slice with a sharp knife. Enjoy!

 

Notes:

  • You can omit the protein powder, and replace it with a little extra almond meal or coconut flour.
  • Warm the sweetener and nut butter just until melted -- don't continue to heat or the sugars will caramelize. 

Clean Green Pancakes - Oil free, gluten free, & vegan!

Once you get past the odd green color, these pancakes are light, fluffy, and sweet. They have no added oil (just cook them on a non-stick griddle) and are gluten free and vegan. 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 chia egg (1 tbsp of chia seeds mixed with 3 tbsp of water)
  • 1/2 cup nut milk (I used homemade cashew milk -- no stabilizers or preservatives!)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (or sweetener of your choice)
  • 1 cup flour (your choice -- I used 1/2 cup spelt and 1/2 cup brown rice and it was PERFECT!)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

 

  1. Stir together the chia seeds and 3 tbsp water and sit aside for 3-5 min until a gel forms. 
  2. In a blender, combine the spinach, banana, nut milk, maple syrup, and chia egg and blend until smooth. 
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 
  4. Empty the blender mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture and fold together gently. Continue until well combined, but don't over mix. 
  5. Heat a nonstick pan and cook. Makes 6-7 medium sized pancakes. 

 

 

Lime & Coconut Soup

This is a weird combination of curry and soup. I broke the noodles into smaller pieces and let them simmer in the broth, which vaguely reminded me of a thai-inspired chicken noodle soup. Either way, it was delicious!

Lime Coconut Curry Soup

This made a ridiculous amount of soup. Elliot & I enjoyed it for dinner, plus leftovers for both of our lunches the next day.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • 8 oz rice noodles broken into small pieces
  • 3-4 tbsp of red thai curry paste
  • juice of 3 limes
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 carrots, chopped
  • 2 cups of broccoli florets
  • Salt (to taste)

Empty two cans of coconut milk into a large stock pot. Add 7 cups of water and the lime juice, thai curry paste, peanut butter, carrots, and onion. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the carrots and onions are tender. Add the broccoli and noodles and continue to simmer until the noodles are soft (about 5 more minutes). Salt to taste. Top with lime zest (peanuts would’ve made a nice topping, too!)

Coffee Brownie Bites

I don’t really like coffee, so it’s strange that I’ve been craving it lately. Such an intense craving, in fact, that I actually came up with this recipe for coffee brownie bites so that I can eat and drink coffee at the same time.

The recipe contains no added oils, no refined sugar, and only coconut flour. There’s around 70 calories per bite and 3 grams of protein. You can leave out the maple syrup entirely if you’re on a health kick. Or if you’re feeling naughty you can add chocolate chips or dip them in melted chocolate. Mmm…

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup nuts (dry roasted peanuts, almonds, or a mix of the two)
  • 2-4 tbsp of very finely ground espresso coffee (for stronger coffee flavor, add more)
  • 1 1/4 cup cooked, drained chickpeas
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1/8-1/8 cup of maple syrup (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup coconut flour

In a food processor, blend nuts and ground espresso until smooth. Add the chickpeas, baking powder, maple syrup, banana, salt, and cacao powder and process (again) until smooth. At this point, depending on the size of your banana, you can add between 1/4 to 1/2 cup of coconut flour. Add just enough flour to make the consistency of very soft cookie dough.

Gently roll the dough into 16-20 small bites. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.

Optional Ideas:

  • Dip in chocolate (!!!)
  • Add chocolate chips
  • Add shredded coconut
  • Use hazelnuts for a delicious hazelnut-coffee flavor
  • Leave out the cacao powder and add pumpkin pie spice (for a pumpkin-spice-latte flavor)