Raw Vegan Gluten-Free Hawaiian Vegetable Wraps

There are many days where I wake up craving dark leafy greens. I know this will sound a little bizarre to some, but if you’ve eaten a plant-based diet high in earthy green foods you know what I mean. Our bodies begin to crave the flavor, texture, and feeling they provide our cells with!

If you are someone who is not crazy about dark greens just yet, these wraps are a great way to introduce them to your pallet. I’ve combined the raw leafy flavor of collard leaves and spinach with fresh raw vegetables and my favorite vegan fat free sweet Hawaiian ginger dressing. I’m such a burrito lover myself, so these are something I have often!

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Ingredients:

Makes 2 –

2 large raw collard green leaves washed and dried,
thick part of the bottom stem removed

2 organic juicy ripe tomatoes

1 thinly sliced orange bell pepper

1 cup of raw broccoli slaw (shredded broccoli, shredded carrot, shredded purple cabbage)

1/2 sliced naval orange

2 tbsp Bragg’s Fat Free Hawaiian Dressing
(made from organic Noni juice, organic pineapple, organic mango,
organic passion fruit, organic raw ginger, apple cider vinegar, and stevia)

cracked pepper

Directions:

Fill your large leaves with your ingredients and wrap tight. Enjoy!

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These are awesome to pre-make and pack with you to take for a lunch at work or school.
The collard leaves are strong and thick enough to hold up without getting completely soggy.

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I hope you try and enjoy. Have a beautiful day everyone!!
xo Sarah

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Vegan Gluten-Free Southwestern Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas

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Holy guacamole. I think quesadillas should have their own food group. Since going plant-based vegan a few years ago this is the first time I’ve recreated them in a healthy animal-free way, and I have NO CLUE what took me so long! These are wholesome, filling, guilt-free, low-fat, PACKED with nutrients (sweet potatoes are one of the best foods you can possibly eat), and even better than I remember them being in restaurants. I will also add  my really simple guacamole recipe, because it should be smothered on most everything – especially these!

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Ingredients:

1 Food for Life Gluten Free Brown Rice Tortilla
1/2 mashed sweet potato
1/2 cup slow cooked black beans
1/2 clove minced garlic
1 tbsp minced onion
1/4 diced seeded jalapeno (more of less depending on how hot you like it)
1 diced Roma tomato
1 tbsp fresh minced cilantro
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F. In a skillet, cook minced garlic and onion on low for 3-5 minutes, then add black beans and cumin powder. Cook until beans are heated through. Skin your steamed sweet potato and mash half, then stir in your black beans, and all the other ingredients. Spread the mixture on half of your tortilla then fold over the other half and bake for 8-10 minutes on each side. Serve with a big scoop of guacomole and fresh pico de gallo.

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Creamy Guacomole:

1 ripe avocado
1 tbsp diced seeded jalapeno
2 tbsp diced cheery tomatoes
1 tbsp diced sweet onion
1 tbsp fresh minced cilantro
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
cracked pepper/sea salt to taste

Combine all and mash until you get your desired consistency.
I like mine very creamy and easily spreadable, so I add a bit more lime juice as I go to get a creamier texture. Do what you like!
This makes a small batch – double or triple to make more at once. It keeps well sealed in the fridge.

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I always have some pre-made to spread on toast, salads, fresh vegetables, or whatever else is laying around! Avocados are such an excellent source of healthy fats and this delicious side dish is full of great vitamins and nutrients for your body.

 

If there are any of your favorite dishes you’d like to see “veganized” please comment them below! I always love a good challenge. Have a great week everyone!
xo Sarah

Going Vegan in 2015 – Tips and Tricks to starting a Plant-Based Diet

Hello all!

The year of 2014 is coming to a quick close, and it has been a great one! One of the most wonderful things about this year for me has been all of the incredible people I have met through this blog and through the social media platforms I use to promote a cruelty-free life. I can’t even begin to count how many of you I’ve emailed with who had an interest in going vegan and changing your lives. I feel beyond humbled to be part of each journey!

I have seen many people show interest in going vegan in the new year, so I wanted to do a post on how to get started and my best tips for success in this lifestyle!

1. Abundance. What do I mean by this? It’s actually really simple – while there are hundreds of delicious fun plant-based foods you can eat and recipes to try, the basics of eating a vegan diet are really simple. FILL your home with an ABUNDANCE of FRESH foods! Do 90% of your shopping in the produce section of your store, and leave the other 10% for whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. If a product contains an ingredient your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize, do not eat it or buy it. Pack your refrigerator and pantry full of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. These are the ultimate fast food! When you’re hungry and craving something sweet, grab a banana, a couple of dates, an apple, some grapes, make a smoothie, or a “nicecream“ (blended frozen bananas). If you’re craving something savory, roast some vegetables/potatoes and throw them on the biggest bowl full of greens you can find, make a veggie burger, make a veggie sandwich on Ezekiel bread, or a massize bowl of zoodles (zucchini noodles) with a plant-based sauce – all of these are super filling and satisfying meals. These are just a few examples of meals we eat constantly! EAT a LOT. Do not ever limit your fruit or vegetable intake. Counting calories is a thing of the past for you. You are counting nutrients now!

2. Educate yourself. The best way to insure success and longevity in this lifestyle is to be fully informed of the reasons why it is so important for each person, our planet, and the creatures we share it with. Veganism is best for our health, the health of the world our children inherit, and the health of the animals we co-exist with. Read books (“The China Study” by Dr. T Colin Campbell, “Whole” by Dr. T Colin Campbell, “801010” by Dr. Douglas Graham), watch documentaries (Forks Over Knives, Earthlings, Vegucated, Cowspiracy), and follow vegan blogs with great tips and recipes (ohsheglows.com, delciouslyella.com, minimalistbaker.com, mywholefoodlife.com, rawsomeveganlife.com).

3. Give yourself grace. This is not a simple transition when you’ve been eating a certain way your whole life. What I can tell you is, it gets easier and easier the longer you do it. I know it seems as though it would be the opposite but it’s not. You will probably feel a little like death for the first few weeks. Your body has MANY chemicals and toxins it will be detoxing from, and it will suck. You will crave sugars, fats, and processed foods like drugs – because they act like drugs to the brain. It’s scientifically proven, refined sugars have the same effect as crack on your brain. IT WILL SUCK. But push through and don’t be too hard on yourself for struggling, it’s inevitable. When you push past the first month, you are in the clear. It only gets easier from there! Your body will begin to crave things like kale, spinach, broccoli, fresh fruits, omega-3’s, and whole grains. You will begin to feel better than ever!

4. Eat out smart. You do not have to confine yourself to your home to eat! Most restaurants have vegan options or are happy to accommodate you, just ASK. Google is your friend! Research a restaurant before going there to plan out what options are available. You do not always have to stick with a simple “garden salad”, how boring is that for every meal? If there are no good vegan options readily available for you somewhere, get creative with menu options and transform a dish by taking away/adding certain ingredients. You will be surprised just how helpful most places are! With all of this being said, I DO recommend most meals be cooked yourself. It’s just better to know where your food is coming from, how it’s being prepared, and what is going into the process. We have become so accustomed to other people making our food for us, we need to take that responsibility back for ourselves and take charge of the fuel we put in our bodies.

5. Invite others on your journey, but never push them. I can say without a doubt, this is an easier transition to make with a loved one! It’s so wonderful to have a partner to hold each other accountable and share your highs and lows with. If you can find that, great! If you can’t, never try to force someone to do this if they aren’t ready. This is not simply a “diet” to lose weight , it is a whole life change. You can be a great example to another person just by living your life and allowing them to see what a positive impact this has on you. Eventually, they may desire it for themselves when they’re ready!

6. Blenders are your friend. I use my blender and food processor constantly. I make soups, desserts, sauces, smoothies, juices, crackers, crusts, breads, and just about everything else you can imagine with these two tools. They make a plant-based diet much more enjoyable! You don’t need a ton of fancy tools, but I do absolutely recommend a great high speed blender and a good food processor.

7. Quit the artificial sugars – NOW. No more splenda, sweet & low, or anything next to them on the shelf. These are cancer causing chemicals that are highly addictive and very dangerous to our bodies. The sweetener I suggest, aside from pure maple and natural fruits, is stevia. It’s made from a plant and actually tastes much better than the alternatives! Liquid stevia may cost a bit more, but if you need to sweeten teas, dessert, lemonade, or smoothies this is the best way hands down. They come in all kinds of flavors (vanilla crème and English toffee are my favorites!). No more carbonated drinks and sugary sodas. Just quit them, cold turkey, and never look back. It is NOT too late to take control of your health.

8. Try new things! There are SO many times on my journey where I would ask my husband to try one of my vegan creations and he would do the Jimmy Fallon “EW” before even tasting it. I would then plead with him to be open minded, and after tasting them, he would be shocked! There are so many incredible foods we are so unaccustomed to seeing in our McDonalds/Taco Bell infested society. Be open to trying new plant-foods and cooking them in different ways to find out what you prefer. Experimenting is your friend. Take a recipe from someone and make it your own based on what YOU like!

9. Be patient with others ridicule. You will be very surprised at how many people will criticize you for your decision. THIS IS OKAY. Most people would be less concerned with you eating a big mac than eating 5 bananas in one sitting. “Don’t bananas have a lot of sugar? Ew.” We as a culture are very confused with food. You will be asked about your protein, daily. Here is a really simple response – all food has protein, and with a well balanced vegan diet you can easily exceed the amount of protein needed to thrive. Have you ever actually met someone with a protein deficiency? I have been vegan for 3 years now, and after getting my blood tested my protein levels were way above what was considered “acceptable”. This is from plant foods only! You will have many people tell you you’re being “irresponsible” with your health by going vegan. This is simply so twisted. This is always why my #2 tip is so important – be INFORMED so you know how to answer the criticism.

10. Do not quit on yourself. This is the rest of your life here. If you drop your phone and it gets a tiny crack do you proceed to chunk it at the wall until it breaks into 1,000 pieces? No. So if you fall off track and make one mistake do not sabotage the rest of your life due to one mess up. There are so many important reasons to commit to a vegan lifestyle, and the more you research the more you’ll learn them in detail, so keep those at the front of your mind and keep pushing forward. Do not quit on your health, you are worth the struggle it takes to get where you want to be.

I hope some of these can help you on your journey forward! As always, if any of you has any questions ask away. I certainly do not claim to have all the answers but I’m here to help any way I can!

I hope you make 2015 the best year of your life!
Xo Sarah

Vegan Butternut Barley Risotto || Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Fat-Free, Oil-Free, Vegan

One grain I don’t see used too often is barley. I think it’s one of my very favorites and it’s really so easy to make. You can use barley in soups, salads, in place of rice or meat in just about any dish, or just by itself it is so nutty and delicious! Barley is high in fiber, and has been proven to help prevent type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and gallstones. It’s among the list of the world’s healthiest foods.

I came up with this recipe the other day playing around with a few of my favorite vegetables and flavors, creating a super creamy, savory, satisfying sauce to coat my cooked barley creating a “risotto”.

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Ingredients:

1 cup hulled barley
3 cups low sodium vegetable stock
1/4 cup steamed butternut squash
4-5 steamed baby carrots
1/4 cup drained rinsed chickpeas
3-4 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
1 clove mined garlic
1-2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 cup chopped steamed broccoli
parsley flakes (optional)

Instructions:

To cook your hulled barley, add 3 cups of stock to 1 cup barley in a large pot with a pinch of salt and bring it to a boil. Once it’s boiling stir well and turn the heat down to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take off heat and cover for 10 minutes, then “fluff” well.

To make your sauce, add all ingredients to your high speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour sauce over your barley and stir well.

Add in your chopped broccoli and mix well. Salt and pepper as desired!

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I also added parsley flakes on top. It would be great with fresh parsley mixed in! My husband enjoyed this so much, I think it will now be part of our Christmas meal.

I hope you all are able to enjoy this week and the holidays with the ones you love! I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

xo Sarah

Roasted Garlic & Smoked Paprika Okra

Any time I eat okra, I can’t help but think of my sweet Nana. I remember vividly as a child, watching her cook in her little kitchen – a small framed woman bursting with this warm gentle spirit. She made everything from scratch, and without measuring a single ingredient, her recipes came out perfect every time. A good motto for us in our kitchen is “WWND” (what would Nana do). She’s not with us anymore, but she is missed greatly by all the people she left behind here – that precious woman left her mark in many hearts.

One of my favorite things she use to make was her homemade crunchy fried okra. I can’t promise that her recipe was healthy, low fat, or low calorie – but it was delicious. Like, eat 3 plates full and crawl to the living room for a 5 hour nap/coma kind of delicious. My diet has evolved pretty drastically over the years, but my love for okra stays the same. My recipe is different though – I bake instead of fry, and use fresh seasonings instead of breading. It brings out the true taste of the vegetable that I love so much, and allows me to still enjoy a meal that brings back such sweet memories.

Take a bowl full of fresh okra and cut into large piece

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Add 2-3 tbsp vegetable broth to coat, so the seasoning sticks.

Sprinkle of garlic powder, smoked paprika, and natural pink salt.

Bake on non-stick foil at 375F for 40-45 minutes, flipping halfway through.

 

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Easy as that – delicious, oil-free, baked seasoned okra. I hope you enjoy, friends!

 

Have a beautiful day!

xo Sarah

Vegan Cinnamon Berry Fig Bars | Oil-Free, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Fat-Free, Dairy-Free

Well friends, it is officially the first day of fall. I am so looking forward to all the things this season brings – chunky knit sweaters, homemade soups, cool evenings at the park, orange colored trees, and baking like it’s my job. This is such a comforting time of year. I wanted to kick it off with a new recipe, so I got my little 3 year old sidekick in the kitchen and we came up with these – cinnamon berry fig bars. The perfect “first day of Autumn” breakfast.

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Ingredients:

3 ripe organic bananas
1/2 cup organic unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 cup organic gluten-free oats
1/4 tsp natural salt
1 tsp organic baking powder
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup mixed frozen berries
2-3 figs

To a large bowl, add:

3 ripe organic bananas
1/2 cup organic unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 cup organic gluten-free oats
1/4 tsp natural salt
1 tsp organic baking powder

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Pour into bowl and mash all together. Add 1 tbsp ground cinnamon.

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Mix well. Spoon half the oat mixture onto parchment paper and spread into desired shape.

Next, to your food processor add:

1 cup blended frozen berries (I used pomegranate, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
2/3 figs (fresh or dried)
Blend on high until all if combined and easily spread.

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Add the rest of your oat mixture in top and spread to cover the berry layer. Bake at 375F for 30-35 mins or until firm in top.

Let cool and then cut and serve!

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Hope you all enjoy them as much as we did this morning. Happy fall to each of you – from my little one and me!

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xo Sarah

Homemade Marbled Vegan Chocolate Espresso/Cinnamon Vanilla Creme Banana Bread

The smell of banana bread filling my little house, permeating every corner is enough to ensure a good day ahead. There is something so comforting about baking to me – just getting in the kitchen and experimenting with all my favorite flavors and textures until I come up with something new. A new recipe to add to the book I plan to hand down to my daughter, that she can add to, and one day and hand down to her babies. Getting in the kitchen with her and watching her little hands as they carefully add in the flour, try to peel the bananas, and attempt to spoon in the cacao powder (which spills out just a bit, every time) – just does things to my mamma heart. Life is about these little moments. These sweet little moments, that create richness and a calm to these crazy lives we lead.

So here is our creation of the day. Our hands got messy, our counters got dirty, and our tummies got full. That is a successful Sunday morning my friends.

Homemade Marbled Vegan Chocolate Espresso/Cinnamon Vanilla Creme Banana Bread

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Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (can sub for gluten free flour if you need to!)
4 super ripe bananas
3 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
2 tbsp pure raw maple (can use raw agave if you prefer)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp cacao
1tbsp strong brewed coffee
1 squirt vanilla Creme Stevia
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

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Instructions:

Blend together first 6 ingredients and divide in half. To one half – add cacao and strong brewed coffee and blend. To the other half, add vanilla creme and cinnamon and blend. Add chocolate espresso mixture to oiled bread pan, then add cinnamon vanilla creme mixture on top and swirl together. Bake at 350F for 40 mins. Serve warm.

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I hope your Sunday is sweet – full of delicious little moments to calm the busy in your life.

All the love,
xo Sarah