Corn, Squash + Broccoli Quesadillas (Vegetarian)

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These vegetable filled quesadillas happened because I have a summer squash left over from another recipe. I just couldn't figure out what to make. Of course, my mind when to dessert and I started interesting ideas for a molasses summer squash quickbread but then forgot about it. It's probably for the best because these quesadillas were great! 

The veggie mix it delicious on it's own. It would be great for a pot luck or picnic served as a salad. Or for lunch as a taco or burrito filling. Even over greens for a veg filled salad. 

This dish is vegetarian friendly but can be easily modified to be grain and gluten free depending on what kind go tortilla you use. Homemade plantain, cassava or corn are great options for those with special diets. If you have a non dairy cheese, you could make this vegan friendly too. 

I used a grill pan but feel free to use a griddle or sauce pan instead. 

Serves 4. 

Corn, Squash + Broccoli Quesadillas

1.5 cups  thinly sliced yellow summer squash (about 1)

1.5 cups thinly sliced broccoli florets (about 1 small stalk)

1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)

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1/4 teaspoon chile powder

juice of 1/2 lime

8 eight inch tortillas (wheat, corn, cassava, plantain)

2 cups shredded cheese (I used a mexican blend from Trader Joe's)

Heat a grill pan over medium high heat. Lightly oil. Grill squash and broccoli slices, cooking about 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. You want to see grill marks here. Transfer to bowl. Toss corn kernels in pan for about 3 minutes to cook down some of their starch. Add to bowl with squash and broccoli. Season with salt, pepper, chile powder and lime juice. 

Place a tortilla flat on lightly oiled grill pan over medium heat. Spread with 1/4 cup shredded cheese, then 1/4 of the veggies, top with 1/4 cup of cheese and a tortilla flat. Cook until cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip. Cook until tortilla is crisped and there are grill marks, about 2 minutes. Transfer to board and cut into wedges. Repeat with remaining ingredients for a total of 4 quesadillas. 

 

Breakfast Potato Mushroom Kale Hash (GF, DF, Vegan)

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Here's another gluten free, grain free breakfast for you! I made this vegetarian hash for brunch as an addition to scrambled eggs, toast and turkey bacon. And made a little scramble with eggs to take to work. It would also be good wrapped in a tortilla with hot sauce and melted cheese as a breakfast burrito to go. 

Serves 6. 

Breakfast Hash with Potato Mushroom + Kale

2 tablespoons olive oil 

3 russet potatoes, peeled, 1/2 inch dice

1 large or 2 small leeks, halved, thinly sliced

10 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried sage

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 big handfuls of chopped kale

In a 12 inch skillet, set over medium heat, warm oil. Add potatoes, leeks, mushrooms. Season with salt, thyme, sage, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika. Cook until potatoes are tender, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. Stir in kale and cook about 5 minutes more. 

Pineapple Coconut Oatmeal (Vegan, GF, DF)

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Somehow, I became a breakfast person. It started off as a smoothie and piece of toast type thing but has turned into a full on demand for tasty, healthy breakfast food every morning. I have a couple go-tos in rotation that I'll be sharing soon. I'll start with this tropical pina colada inspired oatmeal. It's pretty quick but feels impressive for some reason. (I think it's the garnish.) 

I used coconut milk beverage (the boxed stuff) and it's good but a can of full fat or light coconut milk and a bit of water would be even better with more body and a stronger coconut flavor. I also used quick oats because it's what I had but the recipe can be made with old fashioned oats, they will just have to be cooked longer. See instructions on packaging for reference when cooking. 

serves 2.

Pineapple Coconut Oatmeal

2 cups coconut milk

1/2 cup chopped fresh or canned pineapple, plus more for topping

dash cinnamon

dash salt

dash vanilla extract

1 cup quick cooking gluten free oats

2 tablespoons maple syrup

toppings: toasted unsweetened coconut flakes, chopped pistachios or pecans, berries, chia seeds

Combine milk, pineapple, cinnamon, salt and vanilla in a 2 qt sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Stir in oats. Reduce heat to medium. Cook until oats are tender, about 2 minutes. Add maple syrup. Portion into bowls and add toppings. 

Baked Chicken + Cauliflower Parmesan

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Cameron is vegetarian and I'm a full on carnivore so making dinner can sometimes be tricky. I was dead set on a chicken parm and figured cauliflower would be a good meat stand it. (I was right!) Depending on your preference, you can make a pan with the chicken and a pan with the cauliflower to keep things separate. 

To keep things healthier, I decided not to fry the chicken and cauliflower. Everything was breaded as usual but instead for frying on the stove in oil, a simple baking rack over a pan in a hot oven did the trick in getting things nice and crispy. If you don't have a baking rack, just place chicken and cauliflower on a baking sheet. 

This recipe can easily be modified to be fully vegetarian by omitting the chicken and using less (about 1 cup) bread crumbs. It will them only serve 2. It can also be made gluten free by using gluten free breadcrumbs. 

Serves 4. 

 Baked Chicken + Cauliflower Parmesan

 3 eggs, beaten

1 1/4 cups bread crumbs

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 head cauliflower, sliced into larger, flatter pieces of several florets

1 lb thin sliced chicken breast cutlets, seasoned with s + p 

14 oz marinara sauce - jarred or homemade

8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

Heat oven to 475 degrees, use the convection or fan setting if you have it. Grease a baking rack. Arrange over a rimmed baking tray. Set aside. 

In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, basil and oregano.

Set up your breading station assembly line style with your chicken and cauliflower on one end, then the beaten eggs in a shallow bowl, next the shallow bowl of now seasoned bread crumbs and finally the prepared rack. Start with the cauliflower. Dip a piece in the eggs, coating completely, dip into breadcrumbs - coating completely and place on rack. Repeat with all the cauliflower and then chicken. Bake 20 minutes, flip and bake about 10 minutes more. Check on things here and there to make sure nothing is burning. Things should be a crispy golden brown and the chicken should have an internal temperature of 160 degrees. 

Remove from oven. Carefully separate rack from tray. Arrange chicken and cauliflower on rimmed tray and top with marinara sauce and cheese. Return to oven and bake until sauce is hot and cheese is melted, about 8 minutes. 

Clementine Cake (DF)

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I made this on Friday and Cameron and I happily snacked on it all weekend. It's an excellent snacking cake. I had a bag of super seedy clementine that I decide to turn into a cake. Serious cake cravings were happening over here. 

This cake is rich, moist, not too sweet and full of refreshing citrusy bites of clementine through out. It's one of those that are good anytime of day - a slice for breakfast, a slice as a snack or after dinner as dessert. When isn't a good time for cake? 

So good and similar to an olive oil cake. I used a combination of olive oil and coconut oil - its a flexible recipe. Just use what you like or have. Just keep in mind that different oils will lend different flavors to your cake. I'd recommend grape seed for mild flavor, olive oil for a moderate flavor or coconut for a heavy flavor. 

For the clementines, discard the peels and chop into small pieces. Pick out any seeds. That's it. We're adding pith and flesh to the batter. 

serves 8.

Clementine Cake

2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon course kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup oil (coconut, grape seed, olive oil, or any combination)

1 1/4 cup coconut milk (I used boxed coconut milk beverage but any milk is ok)

3 eggs

4 clementines, peeled, chopped, seeds removed

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9" round cake pan. Set aside. 

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder. In another bowl, whisk oil, milk, eggs and clementines. Stir wet ingredients into dry. Do not over mix, just stir until it comes together and there are no steaks of dry flour or lumps. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes or until set in the middle. A cake tester should come out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pan before serving. 

Clean + Natural Skincare Favorites on Etsy

I've gotten really into skincare. I blame winter and the fact that there are so many great brands seemingly available everywhere. Let's just say I have a nice long list going of items to try. Etsy is still one of my favorite places for online shopping. It has a nice sense of community and the sellers are friendly and there are so many items. And seriously, who doesn't love falling down an Etsy hole? I'm telling you, it is worse than pinterest. 

So here's a little round up of some fun skincare and beauty products on Etsy that check boxes for eco, organic, green, clean, vegan, small batch and natural. Enjoy!

This shop is beautiful. If I had a bath tub, I'd scoop this right up. Chamomile, rose and honeysuckle sound like the perfect combination with a warm bath. Epicurean Bathing Tea, $35

This shop is beautiful. If I had a bath tub, I'd scoop this right up. Chamomile, rose and honeysuckle sound like the perfect combination with a warm bath. Epicurean Bathing Tea, $35

Finally think I found a gentle, chemical free makeup remover. Love the idea of aloe, coconut oil and witch hazel. Make up Remover, $18

Finally think I found a gentle, chemical free makeup remover. Love the idea of aloe, coconut oil and witch hazel. Make up Remover, $18

It's apple scented lip balm. Love it. Comforting Organic Lip Balm, $5

It's apple scented lip balm. Love it. Comforting Organic Lip Balm, $5

Not sure how I wouldn't just drink this toner. It could be the missing step in my skincare regime. Exfoliating Strawberry Toner, $24

Not sure how I wouldn't just drink this toner. It could be the missing step in my skincare regime. Exfoliating Strawberry Toner, $24

Not a skincare item but I would light this while I'm going through my nightly skincare routine and love it. Evening in Paris Soy Candle, $24

Not a skincare item but I would light this while I'm going through my nightly skincare routine and love it. Evening in Paris Soy Candle, $24

My mind was really blown with this one - it's a lip scrub in a tube! So easy and tidy to apply. Lip Polisher, $10

My mind was really blown with this one - it's a lip scrub in a tube! So easy and tidy to apply. Lip Polisher, $10

It looks so inky and intense. I see tiny, clear pores in the future. Activated Charcoal Mask, $14

It looks so inky and intense. I see tiny, clear pores in the future. Activated Charcoal Mask, $14

The perfect little multi-tasker that will give  little rosy glow to lips or cheeks in 4 shades. Lip + Cheek Tint Plant Makeup, $16

The perfect little multi-tasker that will give  little rosy glow to lips or cheeks in 4 shades. Lip + Cheek Tint Plant Makeup, $16

I've demanded a back massage for my birthday and the vanilla hibiscus scent of this oil sounds like a dreamy massage oil option. Vanilla Body Oil, $27  

I've demanded a back massage for my birthday and the vanilla hibiscus scent of this oil sounds like a dreamy massage oil option. Vanilla Body Oil, $27  

We are a soap obsessed household and we love handmade soaps in new scents. Pick 5 from the list of unique scents. Natural Soap Gift Set, $20

We are a soap obsessed household and we love handmade soaps in new scents. Pick 5 from the list of unique scents. Natural Soap Gift Set, $20

Lots of fancy oils in this hydrator. I like to use oils instead of creams at night, especially in the winter. My skin just drinks it up. Hydrate Face Oil, $30

Lots of fancy oils in this hydrator. I like to use oils instead of creams at night, especially in the winter. My skin just drinks it up. Hydrate Face Oil, $30

How badly do you want to slather this all over your face and let slough off all those dead skin cells? Exfoliating Pumpkin Face Mask, $12

How badly do you want to slather this all over your face and let slough off all those dead skin cells? Exfoliating Pumpkin Face Mask, $12

This shop is full of soaps that are too beautiful to use. Tonka Bean Lime & Coconut Soap, $6.50

This shop is full of soaps that are too beautiful to use. Tonka Bean Lime & Coconut Soap, $6.50

Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie (Paleo, GF, DF)

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I'm really on a nut butter kick, especially peanut butter. I've been putting it on toast, dipping apple slices into it, smearing it on banana, making peanut butter and chocolate chip pancakes. I also made this smoothie. I'm always super hungry after the gym and this is my new treat. I love it so much, sometimes I go to the gym just because I know I'll make this post workout. Silly, I know but whatever gets me there!

This shake is paleo friendly, gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free. No sweetener at all, actually, just a very ripe banana. It's a peanut butter banana bomb with yummy notes of chocolate. It's also not very thick - more of a shake than a smoothie. Blend a bit more chocolate or use chocolate flavored protein powder instead of the collagen and chocolate.

Not sure if I've shared this before, but I've found that instead of a traditional or high speed blender, we use a stick or immersion blender. Its so convenient to use - just stick it in whatever you want to blend and zip zip. It crushes ice no problem and is so much easier to clean. We have had and used this one everyday for about 4 years straight. It's a beast. 

Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie

1 small or 1/2 a large ripe banana

1/2 cup coconut milk beverage

1 tablespoon dark chocolate powder

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 scoop collagen peptides (This one!)

2-4 ice cubes

Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth. 

Healthy Things I do Everyday

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The beginning of a new year always gets me thinking about my habits and routines: ones I have, ones to break, new ones to start, ones I want to research. Much of this always centers around health and wellness. For me this goes beyond just staying healthy with things like eating habits and exercise, its about taking care of myself and monitoring my general well being. 

Pondering this, I realized some of the funny little things I do everyday. After my Still's diagnosis in 2016, I've been interested in staying healthy like never before. Previously, being healthy was more about looking healthy than being healthy. I exercised and ate to be trim and toned. Nothing wrong with this but now my motivations are more about my overall health with an emphasis on preventative care.

Here's a list of my current daily wellness 'must do's':

1. Eat a spoonful of coconut oil or blend it into bulletproof style coffee. Right before I start drinking coffee, which is about 10 minutes after I wake up, I take a nice, beautiful spoonful of coconut oil. Mostly because my functional doctor told me to but also, it gives me energy and helps me avoid coffee crash. 

2. Eat a teaspoon raw local honey because raw honey is good for you and its an anti inflammatory immune system booster that fights allergies and tastes good. I like to take it with the coconut oil so the fat balances out the sugar spike a bit.

3. Drink a scoop of collagen dissolved in water. I do this almost entirely for the cosmetic benefits. It's high in helpful amino acids and is beneficial to digestion, joints and skin. 

4. Take a probiotic supplement or two because everything I read says that our overall health is related to the gut and guts love probiotics. 

5. Limit coffee to no more than 6oz and all before 3pm. That's right - a strict limit on coffee. It's not the easiest one to stick as I love coffee but I like sleep more. Sleeping is much easier since I lowered my caffeine intake. 

6. Drink a cup of ginger tea because I have to have something to perk me up at 3pm. Ginger is good for digestion too but I like it because it's so energizing. Sometimes I make a cup and add the honey and collagen mentioned above to get all that out of the way in one powerful little cup of tea. 

7. Think happy thoughts. I'm not kidding. It's important to recognize the things that make me happy on a daily basis. It's not always big things but sometimes just the little things like a joke someone told me, a thing that I ate, how bright and sunny the weather finally is, Chibi's general cuteness. Life is good so why not? 

8. Get enough sleep. This is non negotiable. I am very protective about my sleep time. I keep a strict routine. I wake up 8 hours after I go to bed. At least. I'm able to get enough sleep at this point in my life after years and years of insomnia so I make sure to guard and enjoy it!

9. Drink 64 ounces of water. I get to work, I fill up my quart container. I get home, I fill it up again. If I don't do this, I don't drink enough water and then I'm not hydrated. For me, dehydration makes me feel very foggy and tired. A well hydrated mind has all the lights on.

10. I take good care of my teeth. This is a new one. After taking pretty lazy care of my teeth for awhile, I had to have a deep cleaning. Deep cleaning is not a fun thing. It's also expensive so now I brush, floss, rinse and in between clean with the weirdest little pipe cleaner you've ever seen.

11. Dry brush. It's the best! Between this and the above dental care, it takes me forever to get ready in the morning but it's really smoothed my skin out and helped with circulation and lymphatic health.

For 2018, I want to:

1. More plants! This one is definitely happening. Bringing in many more plants for the apartment. So many you won't know if you're inside or outside. Plants produce oxygen, filter the air and are mood boosters. 

2. Stretching. Adding a short flow of stretches to do first thing in the morning. I'll do this while I wait for the coffee water to boil instead of looking at the internet. 

3.  Develop a soothing, nighttime routine - specifically one that includes getting in bed at 10pm. (Don't judge! I get up at 6am for the gym or quiet time.) I think a self indulgent nighttime ritual sounds like just the cozy thing to incorporate this winter. I'm talking pjs, skin mask, pillow mist and books. 

4. Be patient. Practice compassion and encourage positivity in my interactions with others, even when I'm not receiving those things from them. 

How about you? I'd love to hear about your daily self care practices.

Grain Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pancakes (Paleo, GF, DF)

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Snow day? No problem! If you're on the east coast, you probably experienced this 'bomb cyclone' that hit last week. Happily, I was told to stay home from work. Not only did I stay home but I made these paleo pancakes in my pjs and slippers because why not. Serious Sunday morning vibes happening. 

These are officially my snow day pancakes but you can make them anytime. Best thing is they are grain free, gluten free, dairy and sugar free. Yes! Also, no weird ingredients, just coconut four which you probably have already, right? What I like most about these is that the flavors are balanced with even tastes of banana and peanut butter and a nice does of chocolate here and there. No overwhelming coconut here. 

Serves 2-4. 

Snow Day Paleo Pancakes with Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chips

1 ripe banana, peeled and mashed

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk, your choice but I used coconut milk beverage 

2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

1 tablespoon peanut butter

dash vanilla extract

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

dash cinnamon

dash salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Add all ingredients except chocolate chips into a bowl and blend with a stick blender or hand mixer. You can also use a bender. Just zip everything until smooth, about a minute. Fold in chocolate chips. 

Heat a non stick skillet over medium low heat and lightly oil. Do not use too high of heat, lower is better - these guys need time to cook without burning before flipping than usual pancakes. Add heaping tablespoon sized spoonfuls to warm skillet. Swirl back of spoon over batter to flatten and spread a bit. 

They will be ready to flip when they are fully set in the center, about 3 minutes. Shake to pan slightly and look for wiggling in the center of the pancakes. If they look wiggly and wet, cook a little more before flipping. There will be plenty of bubbles in the batter, too. When, ready flip and finish cooking on other side. Second side will cook much faster, about 1 minute. Serve warm. I find these perfectly sweet so we skipped the maple syrup - whipped cream and strawberries would be just right if you have them!

Pozole Rojo with Pork (GF)

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Oh, pozole. It's just the thing in the winter - a hot, chile infused, pork filled soup with a multitude of little toppings to dress it up. I love it but hardly ever make it at home because it can be pretty time consuming. I've edited this recipe down so it's easy and has minimal steps. 

If you've never had it, it is a brothy mexican soup made with chiles, pork and hominy. There are two kinds that I'm aware of - rojo (red) and verde (green). This is the red one. Toppings like any combination of toasted tortillas, cheese, avocado, sliced radishes, shredded cabbage, cilantro leaves, diced white onion and lime wedges should be served with it. 

A note on ingredients: hominy is a dried corn kernel that has been nixtamalized, meaning it was soaked in an alkali mineral bath that makes it easier to digest. You can find it dried or canned. Canned is much more convenient, just drain, rinse and add it to the soup. Treat the dried stuff as you would dried beans, soak overnight and simmer in a large pot of water for a few hours until softened. They will be puffy and chewy. 

To make the tortilla crisps in the photo, just heat a soft corn tortilla in a skillet over medium heat until it it crisp, golden and blistered, flip and repeat on the reverse. 

serves 4. 

Pozole Rojo

1 dried ancho chile pepper

2 cup boiling water

dash oil

6oz cooked, shredded pork

2 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1 quart and 1 cup pork, chicken or vegetable stock

1 14 oz tin drained or 8oz dried then cooked hominy

s+p, to taste

lime juice, to taste

In a small skillet over medium high heat, toast ancho pepper. It will puff up and become toasty. Be careful not to burn it - it won't taste good. Once toasted, remove and discard stem, seeds and membranes. Break into pieces, cover with 1 cup boiling water. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes. 

In a medium pot, heat a dash of oil over medium heat. Cook pork, garlic, bay leaf, oregano and cumin until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add stock and hominy. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. 

Blend chile with soaking liquid until very smooth. Add to soup. Continue to simmer until hominy is nice and soft, wanting to fall apart, maybe 30 minutes overall, depends on what kind you used, Add more water or stock during cooking if needed. Season with salt, pepper and lime juice. 

Serve with garnishes on the sides like toasted tortillas, cheese, avocado, sliced radishes, shredded cabbage, cilantro leaves, diced white onion and lime wedges. 

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies (Paleo, GF, DF)

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Happy 2018!! Let's start things off right with these grain free cookies. I've been hiding a bag of chocolate chips on myself for the last month or so until I felt like whipping these up. I have a hiding spot in one of the difficult to reach cupboards that I never go into and that is away from all the other food. I use this to hide things from myself like crackers specifically for a get together, nutella or chocolate chips. I would have eaten these chocolate chips if I had not hidden them, same for said crackers. Maybe not the same for the nutella. 

Back to the cookies! These are a super yummy chocolate chip cookie made with almond flour and sweetened with maple syrup. I'm really pleased with this recipe: grain free, paleo, dairy free, refined sugar free, easy to make and soft. I like a soft cc cookie, don't you? 

A note on ingredients: Use almond flour, not almond meal. I use Nutiva coconut and red palm shortening. The coffee grounds should be very fine, like espresso. I had courser drip sized grounds here so I buzzed them in the grinder for a few seconds until they were fine. They can be considered optional but really give these cookies a warm, toasty flavor. I also used an electric hand mixer for all of the mixing, besides folding in the chocolate chips. You can also use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. 

makes 24 cookies. 

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 cups almond flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon course kosher salt

dash cinnamon

1 tablespoon very finely ground coffee

2/3 cup coconut & red palm shortening, room temperature

2/3 cup maple syrup

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

In a bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and coffee to evenly combine. Set aside. 

In a mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to beat shortening and maple syrup together until it no longer looks curdled, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, mix 2 minutes more. Mixture will look weird and slightly curdled or separated. This is ok. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. 

The batter will seem much different than your usual cookie dough - lighter, wetter and stickier. This is ok. 

Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. In the meantime, heat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with a silicone baking mat or lightly oiled parchment paper. Remove dough from fridge and drop tablespoon sized spoonfuls of dough onto the prepared trays. Give them some room as they will spread when baking. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool a bit on pan before removing. 

Cookies are best warm out of the oven or stored in the fridge in an airtight container. 

Last Minute Gift Guide

Christmas is ONE WEEK AWAY! Have you finished your holiday shopping yet? Here's a little last minute gift guide if you need a little inspiration. You'll find something for her, for him and all those people you might have forgot to shop for. 

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1. Birchbox, $30 for 3 month subscription Your best bet for absolute last minute gifting. Give a 3 month subscription, print out the gift receipt and put it in a card or schedule an email notification to the recipient. Men and womens boxes available. It's s fun gift because everyone like getting things in the mail. 

2. HP Sprocket, $129 at best buy - for printing mini photos (that are also stickers!) wirelessly from your phone or tablet. 

3. Dakota Backpack, $175 at Dagnedover.com The neoprene material is unexpected and holds its shape. Comes in 5 colors. I love the chunky zippers and interior pocket. 

4. Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza, $31 on Amazon.com To perk them up with one beautiful iconic Obama photo after the next. 

5. Breville Compact Juicer, $99 at Bed Bath and Beyond because everyone wants more kale juice in their life. This one accepts whole fruits and vegetables, has a small foot print for tiny NYC apartment life and is easy to clean. 

6. Lekoch flatware, $22.99 on Amazon.com This flatware is so good it drives me CRAZY. It must be the food blogger in me but it's just so damn elegant and modern. 

7. Kombucha Home Brewing Kit, $45 on Uncommongoods.com We all want to make more of our own things and fermentation is bubbly, exciting and impressive. 

8. The First Mess Cookbook, $22 on Amazon.com Because come January first everyone we know will be gyming, cleansing and eating healthy. Give someone a boost with this cookbook full for incredible plant based recipes. 

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9. Mast Brothers Chocolate Library, $75 on Mastbrothers.com or a collection of bars from your city's local artisanal chocolate makers. 

10. Catchphrase, $11.99 at Target and some batteries too. Probably the best game to play after your family holiday dinner. We got one last year and it's the new family tradition.

11. Slip Silk Pillowcase, $75 at Sephora  It's luxurious, defends against wrinkles and helps with frizzy hair. Also, its sooooo soft. 

12. Udon Blanket Kit, $125 on weareknitters.com For the crafty knitter in your life who hasn't bought a scarf or hat in the past 5 years because she knits them all herself. This is a big, cozy, soft wool blanket kit complete with giant needles.

13. Sorel 1964 Premium CVS Boots, $140 on sorel.com  For keeping those feet warm in the snow and slip free in the slush. 

14. Captivator Love Bath, $12 on cap beauty.com soak up the love with this naturally scented bath mix with magnesium, neroli and sandalwood. 

15. Glow Watermelon Sleep Mask, $45 on Sephora.com Glowing skin? Check. Watermelon? Check. All the work done while she sleeps? Check. 

Cranberry Bundt Cake (Paleo, GF, DF)

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I made a conventional version of this cranberry bundt cake for Thanksgiving and it was so good I knew I wanted to make a healthier, grain free version. This cake is very balanced - a slightly sweet crumb with a bite of fresh cranberry here and there. If this was made in a loaf pan, I'd call it a cranberry bread. 

This can be glazed or dusted with powdered sugar and served as dessert or slice a piece off and smear it with coconut butter for breakfast. Or snack on it as is. Would doesn't need more snacking cake in their life? (We all do.) Either way, its a great festive, paleo cake to make for the holiday. 

Serves 10. 

Paleo Cranberry Bundt Cake

1.5 cups almond flour

1.5 cups coconut flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup agave

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

2 cups unsweetened applesauce

6 eggs, at room temperature

zest and juice of 1 orange

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 oz fresh cranberries

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12 or 14 cup sized bundt pan and set aside. 

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk agave, oil, applesauce, eggs, set, juice and vanilla until very smooth. This can be done with a mixer or by hand. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredient and stir until well combined. Make sure the dry ingredients are very well hydrated. Stir in fresh cranberries.

Transfer batter to bundt pan - since this is not a very pourable batter I spoon it into the bundt pan and the smooth the surface with a spatula or spoon. Make sure its even so the cake isn't lopsided. Bake until deep golden brown on top and set in center - about 1 hour and 30 minutes. I like to start checking every 15 minutes after the 1 hour mark. Remove from oven and cool in pan. Invert onto plate and serve. 

Falafel Roasted Chickpeas (Vegan, GF, DF)

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Did you know you can roast chickpeas to make a crispy, crunchy snack? Until recently, I did not. I had these falafel chickpea snacks awhile ago that got me thinking I could make them my own. If you read Meats and Sweets, you might have noticed that I really like to recreate foods I've had elsewhere, at home. This is especially great with packaged or processed food since home made versions are generally healthier and are free of weird undesirable ingredients. The chickpea snack that inspired me to make these, had canola oil which I avoid. By making my own, I was able to choose which oil I wanted. 

As I mentioned in my hummus post: 

You can use canned chickpeas but I strongly suggest using dried chickpeas. This recipe works for 1 can drained chickpeas or 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas which is a half cup of dried chickpeas. To make prepare the dried chickpeas: measure out 1/2 cup of dried chickpeas and soak them in room temperature water overnight. They will absorb a lot of water during soaking so make sure they are covered with at least 2 inches of water. If you're short on time, use the quick soak method. For this method, add beans to a pot and cover with 2" water. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let soak for 1 hour. After soaking, drain beans. They will now need to cook, as soaking only rehydrates the beans. 

To cook, place in pot of water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, about 1.5 - 2 hours. Just start testing them for tenderness at the 1.5 hour mark. Just start testing them for tenderness at the 1.5 hour mark. Once done, drain. Chickpeas are now ready. 

Falafel Chickpeas

1.5 cups cooked chickpeas

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2  teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon fenugreek leaf 

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil

First, dry chickpeas. Either leave the drained, cooked chickpeas out on a kitchen towel overnight or use a food dehydrator for about 30 minutes or let them dry out in the preheating oven for about 15 minutes. They must be dry in order to become crispy. 

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside. 

In a bowl, mix cumin, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, fenugreek, black pepper and paprika. Add oil and mix. Add chickpeas and stir to coat. Arrange evenly on prepared baking tray. Bake 20 minutes or until crisp. Turn pan once halfway through baking. Cool before eating. 

Lazy Vietnamese Cold Noodle Salad (GF, DF)

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Hello there! Wow. I can't believe it's been over a month since my last post! We're almost in a new season. It's mostly just been a combination of laziness and writer's block but it's all over - I'm full of ideas again. 

In other news, I am not vegan. Blood tests and a general feeling of 'meh' showed that it was not the right diet for me. I loved it at first but after a three months I just started to feel terrible. Meat and veggies are the way to go for me, That said, the husband is still enjoying a vegetarian lifestyle so there will still be many recipes on here for you lovely, brave vegan people. (Just not today.)

This cold noodle salad is refreshing. I usually like a big bowl of hot, soupy something in the colder months but this just sounded right. I call it lazy because I looked at many a Vietnamese noodle salad recipe online with long lists of ingredients or instructions. (No thank you - I just want a salad.) This is bare minimum effort but still has a sweet, sour, umami sauce and soft chewy noodle, crunchy fresh vegetable contrast of texture.  

Vegetarians, if you are okay with fish sauce, then sub out the chicken with a brown tofu. If making with chicken, use any type of cooked chicken - grilled leftovers, rotisserie, whatever you may have. Follow the directions on your noodle package. It will probably say to cover dry noodles with boiling water, let sit for 3 minutes, drain and rinse. 

*Note: my lettuce was not photo ready so it's not featured in the above image. 

Serves 4.

Cold Vietnamese Noodle Salad

for the sauce

1/3 c fish sauce

2/3 cup fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons raw or brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, microplaned or finely grated

1/8 teaspoon red chile flakes

for the salad

about 200 grams (4 servings) vermicelli rice noodles, cooked to package directions

4 cups chopped lettuce

2 carrots, peeled, cut into matchsticks

1 bell pepper, stemmed, cut into matchsticks

1 seedless cucumber, peeled, cut into matchsticks

2 cups cooked chicken, in bitesized pieces (12oz brown tofu) 

1/2 cup crushed peanuts

In a small bowl, whisk together fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic and chile flakes until sugar is dissolved. Set aside. 

Build individual bowls by tossing noodles, lettuce, carrots, pepper, cucumber, chicken and cooked peanuts with a bit of sauce.

Ready for Fall?

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Happy Fall! Autumn is officially on but the weather, at least in NYC only just started to agree. Meaning, I wore sandals to work last week and I wasn't the only one. I usually don't fall into the 'I can't wait for Fall!' category but at 75 degrees in mid October, I'm starting to feel for a cozier, sitting in front of a fire under a soft blanket with my loved one drinking cocoa while knitting time of year. I love cozy time. 

What are you most excited about for Fall? Here's a little list of a few fun things: 

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Apple Picking

Getting out of NYC and wandering around an apple orchard or pumpkin patch is usually the first thing I do when I'm in the mood for Fall. Ideally,  there's a farm store where I can stock up on treats. 

Desserts!

Apple, pumpkin, pear, caramel, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, vanilla - all those types of flavors that previously felt unseasonal. Try this, this or this

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Autumn Leaves

Driving through upstate NY, basking in all the Autumn leaf glory. Especially the Hudson Valley with all of its sweet little villages to stop at and explore. 

Layers!

Bundling up in big scarves, sweaters, leather jackets or my coziest grey sweatshirt. Who doesn't love layers? I pile 'em right on. 

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Knit a blanket

A giant blanket. I've ben slowly working on this one at a snails pace all year. If you want something fast but impressive, this arm tutorial and this giant wool will do the trick. 

Hot beverages

Toddies, hot apple cider, chai. Yes! I can't wait to take a stroll through the greenmarket next Saturday with a cup of hot apple cider and a doughnut to dip into it. 

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Using the Oven Again

It's not 9000 degrees in your apartment anymore so take out whatever you were storing in it and replace it with a yummy slow cooking braised dish. Meat people, try this or this. Vegans try this

 
 

Candles

 I don't have a fire place or wood stove to gaze into so instead I light a bunch of candles in different glass vessels that create a beautiful, warm glow. Everything is cozier by candlelight, yes? 

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Sushi Bowls (Vegan, GF, DF)

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Let's think of this more as a serving suggestion than as a recipe. I made these after my week of tempura. I kept these really simple but they would be great served with fish or tofu. Something about the cucumber, avocado, carrot and rice is just like a vegan deconstructed seaweed free california roll. Seaweed and I are not friends so this is perfect. 

You can make everything and then portion it into single serving containers for an easy lunch. Just wait on the avocado and tamari. For those it's best to wait until serving. I used 1/2 an avocado for each serving. 

The lettuce is optional. I just like to make sure I'm getting enough green veggies. You can chop it and treat this like a salad or use the leaves as wraps. 

The best part of this is the sushi rice. Sushi rice is much more than just a type of short grain white rice, it also requires its own method of preparation. Don't worry, its easy. And super delicious, I could eat sushi rice by the sticky handful except I don't because #willpower. 

4-5 servings. 

Vegan Sushi Bowls

1.5 cups sushi rice

rice vinegar, to taste

salt, to taste

2 carrots, cut into matchsticks

2 english cucumber, cut into matchsticks

2 avocados, peeled, pitted, sliced

1 head romaine lettuce, leaves only

pickled ginger

sesame seeds

tamari soy sauce, for serving

In a covered medium sauce pan, bring rice and 3 cups water to a boil. Reduce to low and let cook until water is evaporated, about 20 minutes. Transfer rice to a large shallow bowl, stir with rice paddle and fan to cool. Season with small splashes of rice vinegar and tiny sprinkling or salt. Keep stirring, seasoning and tasting until smooth rice flavor is subtle balanced with the salt and vinegar. Portion rice into bowls. Top with carrots, cucumber, avocado slices, lettuce, pickled ginger. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve with soy sauce. 

Pear Crumble Pie Bars (Vegan, GF, DF)

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I made a conventional version of these a couple years ago and really wanted to make a gluten free vegan version. After following the AIP and now a gluten free vegan diet, it's so weird to look back at my old recipes and see ingredients like all purpose flour and butter. Did I really used to cook with that stuff? It's so funny how much your outlook can change in a short period of time. I guess I've really changed how I eat and cook. 

Feel free to change up the fruit on these. Personally, I love pear desserts but pears usually never make it into baked goods around here because they're so good on their own. If they had been ripe when I bought them, they definitely would not have made it into bar form. Apples or peaches would be great stand ins. If you do change anything - please leave a comment and let me know how it goes!

These are really easy to make. I use a fork for all the mashing and mixing and then switch to my hands. Easy stuff. 

I've made this with both Trader Joe's gluten free baking flour and Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1 baking flour. Either one will do or your own preferred gf flour. 

Makes one 8 x 8 inch pan. 

Pear Pie Bars

1 very ripe banana, well mashed

1/2 cup unsweetened non dairy milk (I used boxed coconut milk beverage)

1/2 cup coconut oil, in liquid state

1/3 cup maple syrup

juice and zest of one lemon

3 cups gluten free flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

pinch salt

2 pears, cored and sliced

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ginger powder

Heat oven to 375 degrees, Paper or grease an 8 x 8 baking dish and set aside. 

In a medium bowl, combine mashed banana, milk, oil, syrup, lemon zest and juice. Stir until well combined. In another bowl, whisk flour with baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Stir or work with hands until flour is hydrated. Evenly press 2/3 of dough into prepared pan. 

In another bowl, toss pear slices in cornstarch, nutmeg and ginger powder. Arrange pear slices in an even layer on top of pressed crust. Sprinkle little pinched off pieces of remainign dough over pear layer but don't completely cover the pear. You want it to look crumbly. Dust your hands in flour and lightly press down on surface. 

Bake 40 minute. Top should be golden brown. Let cool. 

Vegetable Tempura (Vegan, GF, DF)

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Tempura time! My mom brought a bunch of delicata squashes from her garden on her last visit and I wanted to do something besides roasting. So, deep frying. Naturally. 

This recipe makes a lot of tempura. When I was coming up with what i wanted to batch cook for the week I decided on my favorite Japanese take out go to's like miso soup, tempura, green salad with carrot ginger dressing and steamed broccoli. I had a great, envy inducing lunches. If you plant to do this, note that summer squash and any other 'wet' vegetables will not store well. The green beans and squash tempura are great for leftovers but the summer squash is much better eaten straight away. 

The batter is super simple - Just gf flour and club soda. It's a light and crisp batter and best mixed right before you are ready to dip the vegetables in and fry. I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Flour and sparkled tap water with our Soda Stream. Besides the Chemex, it's definitely my favorite kitchen gadget/appliance. Who doesn't want club soda and bitters whenever they like? 

The amount of frying oil will depend on the size of your pan. I used about a quart of oil in a 3 qt sauce pan which was cheap and easy to clean up but took forever to fry. More oil and a larger pan is probably more desirable but as long as you have at least 2" of oil you'll be good. 

Serves 6.

Vegan Vegetable Tempura

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1 delicata squash, halved, seeded, 1/4" thin slices

1 large fistful green beans, trimmed

1 sumer squash, 1/4" slices

1.5 cup gluten free flour 

1.5 cup club soda

2 teaspoons grated ginger

1/4 cup tamari soy sauce or coconut aminos

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons mirin

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

In a deep pan, start heating oil to 375 degrees - use a thermometer. While it's coming to temperature, make an assembly line of batter bowl (don't mix yet), cut vegetables and a large baking tray lined with several layers of paper towels. Get your tongs ready. When oil comes to temp, stir in club soda into the flour. Batter should be lumpy with all flour hydrated. 

Dip vegetable slices one by one into the batter and then into the hot oil. Fry as many pieces as you can at a time without the pieces touching - we don't want them sticking together. Fry about 1 minutes on each side. As they are done, remove from oil and place on paper towel lined tray to drain. Repeat until all vegetables are tempurafied. 

In a small bowl, whisk together ginger, soy sauce, water, miring and vinegar. Use as dining sauce of tempura. 

Buon Weekend

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Happy Friday! What are you doing this weekend? I'm getting over a cold - which I never get so I'm a pretty big baby when I do. We're looking forward to a low key Brooklyn weekend - Im hoping to do a little cooking (maybe a little slow cooker something?) and work on a painting. 

Here are some fun internet things to look at: 

This mini series of Hidden Brain podcasts for you but version 2.0 

This skincare brand I've been wanting to try is offering free samples. 

Supporting this relief fund. 

Loving this delicate piece. 

Saying YUM to this breakfast recipe. 

Started reading this incredible book about gut health. 

Anyone seeing this movie? (It was shot with film!)