I am loving quick grab and go salads from Trader Joe's and other grocers, but cost and ingredient quality always makes me feel a little guilty for taking the short cut and that making them at home would be a better option. Like many things in life, homemade is best! What I have for you today is really a SUPER simple and easy salad to toss together, and like many things it tastes better after a day or so in the fridge - Balela Salad.
It is a delicious bean salad with bright lemon and refreshing parsley flavors. If you are a fan of tabbouleh or other Mediterranean salads, then this is right up your alley!
Balela means "cooked chickpea" and this is an outstanding way to get in more plant based protein and fiber into your day. It makes a great side or snack and is very versatile in that you can add to a salad in lieu of dressing, or mix in with pasta, rice, or quinoa for a more full-bodied main dish. You can use it as stuffing in stuffed tomatoes, in pita pockets, or on top of a flatbread for a simple pizza idea. If you eat meat, grilled chicken breast would compliment this nicely.
This slightly smokey sauce is chocked full of vegetable protein and good for you fiber. You can adjust the heat by controlling how many Chipotle peppers you add.
2 cups of cooked brown rice (or riced cauliflower or other preferred riced veggie)
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 small can of Chipotle peppers in adobe sauce
1 medium Vidalia/sweet onion, roughly chopped
1 tsp of minced garlic
1 package of Gimme Lean brand ground beef style (or 1lb ground beef for Paleo option)
Vegetable broth or water for sautéing
Line a sauté pan with vegetable broth or water.
Sauté onion, garlic and gimme lean over medium high heat until gimme lean is cooked through and the onion is transparent (if using ground beef brown and drain the beef during this step)
Add in 1/2 can of crushed tomatoes to start
Now to add the heat: start with just the adobe sauce and then add 1 Chipotle pepper at a time - diced.
I add the whole can, but this is a very subjective seasoning, and always better to err on the side of less is more.
If you add too many Chipotle peppers or sauce, add in more crushed tomatoes.
Heat the sauce all the way through and serve over brown rice or riced veggies.
To make this dish more plant strong, serve with a side salad or serve the whole rice dish over a bed of raw baby spinach leaves. This also helps temper the heat while providing many additional nutrients!
I top with a fair sprinkling of nutritional yeast for an additional boost!
One of the first recipes that I created myself was a rosemary and chocolate vegan cookie. I had a surplus of the herb and as I was muddling it I realized that this must be wonderful when paired with chocolate, so to the Labs I ran! After some playing around this is what I came out with and I to this day love the warm and comforting aroma of this cookie. It is not too sweet and with rosemary is the perfect seasonal addition making these cookies fit right in this Holiday season!
- 2 1/4 cup of flour (you can use whole wheat or all-purpose) I used Whole Wheat
- 1 TBS rosemary, ground. I used a molcajete however you can use any method to grind
- 1 cup of flax meal
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp of sea salt (I used Himalayan Pink)
- 1/2 cup of raw sugar (I used dark raw in the recipe originally but coconut sugar would be a wonderful substitute as well)
- 2 tsp of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 TBS sipping chocolate powder or hot cocoa mix
- 2/3 cup of maple syrup
- 1/2 cup of black strap molasses (unsulphured)
Pre- heat oven to 350*
Mix all dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
Mix all wet ingredients together in a separate mixing bowl then combine both bowls together by creating a well in the middle of the dry ingredients to pour the wet ingredients into
Add a little water if and as needed to get to fully combine
Roll into balls and then top with more ground rosemary (I stamped each ball onto a sprinkling of COURSELY ground rosemary.)
Place balls ~ 2" apart onto a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicon baking sheet and bake for 11-15 minutes or longer if needed.
The rosemary on top really sets off the fine rosemary taste in the cookie itself so do not be afraid to dust it liberally!
Here is a quick and easy recipe for a single serving of a warming quinoa flake breakfast that is both fast and nourishing in these chilly wintry days.
Add to 1 cup of boiling water 1/3 cup of quinoa flakes, 2 tsp maple syrup and 1 Tbs of sipping chocolate powder or cocoa powder Mix and let cook for 60-90 seconds.
Add a palmful of raisins and a palmful of crushed pecans. Enjoy!
I need to thank my friend Jamie Sak for introducing me a delicious poppy seed dressing recipe that I of course had to alter a little bit because that is just how I roll. :-) This was adapted from a recipe for a Summer Spinach and Berry salad, however this dressing is great over any salad bed and as an unconventional topping for a bowl of chopped strawberries and blueberries with walnuts. Trust me, it is that good!
In a (preferably high-speed)blender mix:
1/4 C onion (Vidalia / sweet onions are really good in this)
1/2 C water
2 TBS plus 2 tap red wine vinegar
2 TBS plus 2 tsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp salt
After fully blended, add in 1 1/2 tsp poppy seeds and blend until combined.
One of my favorite meals that my mother made for me as a child was this great "chop suey" dish. I think that I was drawn to the sweet and umami filled flavors that this dish radiates.
The original recipe calls for 1.25 lbs of various meats - mainly pork chicken and veal, lard, white flour and sugar. No wonder I loved it with all those refined products! To this day my mouth still waters thinking about this dish the way my momma made it.
This revamped recipe has the same taste as the original with a fraction of the fat and no cholesterol if you chose to go meat free with it. If you cannot stand mushrooms but instead want meat, see the meat option in the notes. I add in optional veggies for more vitamins and to round it out with colors, but you can omit those and keep it as simple as you wish. This is a true choose your adventure!
1 package of white or portabella mushrooms, diced into large pieces
vegetable broth or water for lining pan
Whole wheat flour (coconut flour if paleo)
Coconut sugar or maple syrup
1 medium stalk of celery
5 small onions, or 1 large Vidalia onion
2-3 Cups of cubed cabbage (white) (OPTIONAL)
1 Cup of diced yellow and red peppers (OPTIONAL)
1 Cup of broccoli florets or other hearty vegetable (OPTIONAL)
1 can of water chestnuts, sliced or diced
1 large can or 2 regular cans of bean sprouts, drained
Coconut aminos (or soy sauce/GF tamari sauce)
The original recipe called for the meat to be coated in flour and then fried in lard until browned, then simmered in water until cooked through. If you are choosing the meat option, use 1.25 lbs of your preferred diced meat (chicken, pork, veal or a mixture of the three) and replace lard with ghee.
If you are following the vegetable version, line a large pot that has been heated over medium high heat with vegetable broth or water. Add in the diced mushrooms, and any long-cooking veggies (broccoli) you would like, cook until they are glistening and tender. At this point I add in 1 Tbs of whole wheat or coconut flour and simmer for a moment to thicken.
MEAT OR VEGGIE VERSION CONTINUES THE SAME:
Then add enough water to cover the mixture with an inch or two over the top and add in the celery and onions simmering until onions (and peppers if using) are translucent and soft. From this point forward it is really personal preference.
Add in by 1 Tbs at a time, whole wheat flour or coconut flour until you hit a consistency that you like and then add in by 1 Tbs at a time coconut sugar/maple syrup and coconut aminos until it has the sweetness that you enjoy.
Now add in the drained water chestnuts and bean sprouts, adding additional water and flour if needed to keep consistency.
I serve this over either brown or white rice or riced cauliflower if Paleo, or you can omit and serve with a spoon as a stew.
I have a killer sweet tooth and I love pumpkin/sweet potato pies and candied yams around the holidays. I remember my mother opening up that can of Bruce's candied yams and that was the first thing that I went for every Holiday meal!
As an adult I continued on the tradition even buying the exact same brand as it reminded me of family times spent together over a hot meal being grateful for one another and the life around us.
As part of my mission to pack a powerful nutritional punch in everything that I eat and serve my loved ones, I wanted to share these too-easy to believe but better than candied yam recipes.
Guess what - a baked garnet yam tastes just like pie without any of the guilt or added sugars and if you decide to go full on dessert - a little Brulee action or stuffing with candied pecans and walnuts turns this tuber into something SPECTACULAR!
Yams have lots of antioxidants and Vitamin A -
Garnet Yams 1 for each person
For brulee: Coconut sugar
For stuffed: 1/4 C walnuts or pecans plus 1 Tbs pure maple syrup per person,
Poke each yam with a fork to allow steam to escape, and bake at 425° for 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool to the touch.
Once cooled, cut each in half length-wise and open it, cut side facing up.
Sprinkle each with coconut sugar, then take brulee torch or place under the broiler (watch them!) until the sugar caramelizes and bubbles.
Mix the nuts with the maple syrup until well incorporated. You can spice the candied nut mixture if you would like - this is optional. Add in a little cayenne if you like a sweet heat or some cinnamon and cloves if you like a more traditional spice.
Open the yams like you would a baked potato and scoop in equal amounts of the candied nuts into each and serve immediately.
Alternatively, you can eat them right from the oven with a dollop of vanilla infused ghee, or right from the fridge the next day as a snack to power through any cravings.
Just sayin', yams don't have to be candied to be amazing!
Desserts do not need to be void of nutrition in order to be indulgent and satisfying. Cacao, cherries and chia seeds are all very nutritionally dense foods that when put together in this easy pudding not only satisfy the sweet tooth but incorporate antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and heart healthy fiber in every bite.
This pudding is inspired by one of my favorite Christmas time treats - Cherry Cordials. I thank my father for instilling in me a love for these decadent treats. Now that I am more of a food for fuel person I wanted to still enjoy some familiar flavors while still achieving my health and wellness goals.
This pudding is a great make-ahead no fuss for Holiday entertaining. You can multiply the recipe easily and make in one large bowl for serve yourself ease - or make in individual ramekins for a single-serve more fancy presentation.
Add 1.5 C of the Frozen cherries, almond milk, maple syrup and cacao/cocoa powder to blender and blend until well pureed.
Coarsely chop the remaining 1/2 C of cherries
In a large bowl, add chia seeds, the pureed milk cacao cherry mixture and the remaining chopped cherries.
Stir until well combined and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3 cups cooked lentils (or 1 pound ground beef cooked and drained if Whole30/Paleo)
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 large green pepper or 5-6 sweet mini peppers, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 cup frozen spinach or 2 cups fresh, chopped
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp Himalayan pink or sea salt
1 tsp oregano, dried
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
4 cups cooked brown or white rice or riced vegetables as a low carb/paleo/Whole30 option
To the cooked lentils or beef add tomatoes, green pepper, onion and seasonings; bring to a boil adding a little water, maybe 1/4 to 1/2 cup, if needed.
Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender (or if using frozen vegetables, skip to the next step).
Stir in rice; cover and remove from the heat. Let stand for 2-3 minutes. Stir well and serve.
You can top with tomato sauce if you like, and serve with a salad or other vegetable.
Yes, I went there. Looking for portable protein with a flavorful nutrient punch? Here is your bliss.
Being a triathlete I am always looking for easy to consume energy on the run. Or bike. Or between swim sets.
For me convenience and quality are key, but so is flavor and quite often I am left disappointed in the mouth-feel and taste of conventionally packaged convenience "nutrition".
I am not a huge fan of commercially made products for daily use because many of these products are no better than candy bars and other junk foods. Somehow we have been sold on pre-packaged Gu's and sports "nutrition" as being the secret to performance.
I found a company that I support fully, BASE Performance, and use BASE Salts in many of my sports recipes for added minerals and salt.
The following variations of bliss balls are a great snacks to keep on hand when you are busy on the go - regardless if you are active in sports or active in your daily life running around keeping your family on track. If you are working out more than normal, it is hotter outside, or you find yourself sweating a lot feel free to add in a pinch of electrolyte salts, such as BASE Salts (www.baseperformance.com).
Cacao Date Bliss Balls
8 dates, soaked
2 cups pumpkin seeds, soaked for 5 hours then rinsed
¼ cup raw cacao
½ cup coconut flakes
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (replace with a the internal scrapings of a vanilla bean if following Whole 30 and are mindful of any SWYPO)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
OPTIONAL - a scoop of BASE Salts or other electrolyte/mineral salt blend of preference
Blend all the ingredients using a high-speed blender. Take a spoonful and roll into a ball. Set each ball on a tray. Finally, allow the balls to harden in the refrigerator.
Raw Protein Bliss Balls
Makes 10 balls
2 cups pumpkin seeds, soaked for 12 hours, then drained and rinsed
2 cups dates, soaked for 1 hour, then rinsed
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup water
Dusting of raw cacao
OPTIONAL - a scoop of BASE Salts or other electrolyte/mineral salt blend of preference
Divide the ingredients into two batches when placing them in your high-speed blender. This will avoid your high-speed blender shutting down during the mixing process. Pulse the ingredients for two minutes, then blend on high speed when well mixed.
Once the ingredients are well-blended, roll each batch into bite-sized balls. Next, dust each ball with raw cacao. Add balls to a tray and put in the refrigerator to form for 30 minutes. Then, enjoy or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Here you will find all my creations and interesting recipes that will fit into even the most specialized dietary needs!