Kale is a difficult vegetable to enjoy due to its rough texture and odd flavor that resembles the dollar weeds thriving in my back yard. Sauteeing or transforming them into kale chips are great alternatives, but nutrients for kale are at its peak when eaten raw, but the problem lies there… I’ve eaten kale salads but the plethora of toppings and dressing to mask the weed-like flavor defeat the purpose of eating kale in the first place. However, healthy fats, vegetables, and dressings can can easily turn the high fiber vegetable into a decadent, protein-packed meal that’ll have you wanting for more. I experimented with ingredients I had at home and whipped up a delicious kale salad that is definitely one for the books. Topped with avocado, pumpkin seeds, roasted brussels sprouts, soy protein, and an almond butter dressing, I seriously think even non-salad lovers would enjoy the flavors and health benefits of this magnificent bowl.
Green Goddess Salad (Vegan)
yield: 2 servings/bowls
For the salad:
- 1/2 stalk kale, stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
- 1 small avocado
- 3 tbsp. pumpkin seeds
- 8 large brussels sprouts, each one vertically cut into threes
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper to taste
- 1 oz. soy protein like tempeh or tofu, I used a homemade soy product
For the dressing:
- 1/4 c. almond butter
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 c. unsweetened warm almond milk OR warm water
- 1 tsp honey
- salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Toss the brussels sprouts with oil, salt, and pepper and bake in the oven for 30 min, turning the sprouts every 5-7 min.
- Pan fry the soy protein with salt or soy sauce.
- Whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour on top of the kale in a large bowl. Use bare hands to massage the kale for approx. 2 minutes to soften the kale and infuse the flavors.
- Toss the pumpkin seeds into the salad and combine.
- After the brussels sprouts have been baked, top them onto the salad or toss them in, along with avocado and soy protein.
Green Goddess bowl
raw brussels sprouts
On my journey to consuming less meat, this salad makes it difficult to not consume meat. While I know that I will never become full vegetarian since my parents do not permit it, it has been 2 weeks since I have eaten meat and it feels great. Additionally, kale is packed with fiber, iron, and has anti-inflammatory agents, so am definitely now a promoter of kale!
As I strolled around my kitchen, staring at the sad image of limited items in my pantry, I wondered if I should even attempt to make banana bread. The 3 limp and dark bananas laying on my counter top had an imminent death and I wanted to make use of them because all bananas deserve to turn into something beautiful rather than end up in my backyard’s soil. I’ve successfully made healthy banana bread in the past, but I had some source of fat replacement such as Greek yogurt or applesauce. But today, I had neither. However, my food science course has taught me a lot this year, making me more knowledgeable than ever on how I can ingeniously utilize my pantry staples. And with some playing around, I somehow created my BEST ever healthy banana bread. It was so surprisingly moist and flavorful versus an expected dense and dry bread. Well, science really does wonders…
Healthy Banana Bread (Oil-Free, GF, Vegan)
yield: 1 loaf OR 3 mini loaves
- 2 c. oat flour (I made my own; instructions below)
- 3 ripe medium bananas
- 1/3 c. sweetened soymilk, unsweetened may also be used, just add more of the sugar source
- 8 dates (medjool or regular) soaked in hot water for 5 min. (use 12 dates if you used unsweetened soymilk)
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tbsp. ACV or lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- To make oat flour (if necessary), blend 2 cups of oats in batches in a high speed blender. Blend until a fine flour is formed and sift all the flour! The sifting is necessary for the bread to be as flaky and smooth as possible. Discard any extra chunks left behind or blend until it’s able to sift through the sieve.
- In a large bowl, combine the oat flour, baking powder and soda, and salt.
- Mix the soymilk with ACV or vinegar in a small bowl. It should curdle in a minute or two.
- In a blender or food processor, blend the dates until a caramel paste is formed. You can add a tsp. of the hot water to help the mixture blend as well.
- In a medium bowl, mash the bananas and add the curdled soymilk, date paste, and vanilla extract and stir to combine.
- Pour the wet mixture into the dry mix and stir until the batter is completely homogeneous. OPTIONAL: Add in some nuts, dried fruit, or chocolate chips:)
- In a greased loaf pan or one lined with parchment paper, pour the batter in. If using a loaf pan, bake for 50 min. If using mini loaf pans, bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove loaves from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for a minimum of 5 minutes.
I honestly cannot contain my excitement over how scrumptious this banana bread is. If you take a moment and consider what your are eating, you’re basically eating a bowl of oatmeal in solid form! All the fiber, antioxidants, and minerals from the oat flour, potassium from bananas, and Vitamin B6 and B12 from the soymilk help to keep your body full of energy without any ounce of fat! It’s hard to believe, but this banana bread is actually gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free, and oil-free!! It’s a long pretentious list of “healthiness”, but why not make a delicious, moist cake-dessert healthy? It’s a win-win right here.
moist and flaky
And thus, I sat at my table and feasted on the best-ever healthy banana bread with a cup of cold milk. As you could tell, it was a beautiful moment.
Have you ever dreamed of a scrumptious, decadent, warm brownie cookie that simply melts in your mouth? Paired with a cup of milk and it almost suddenly feels as if the world is free of problems. I think about such chocolate-y goodness on a daily basis, but the sad reality of the poor nutritional value of a brownie cookie permits me to consume only a few in a month. However, a wave of excitement recently inundated my insides when I discovered that sweet potatoes make an incredibly convincing substitute for butter and sugar. Additionally, a simple swap of all purpose flour to oat flour lowers the glycemic index of the cookies and adds a boost of fiber to a diet. All natural ingredients packed in one cookie. Let’s stop blabbing and just get to the recipe…
Fudgy Brownie Cookies (GF, Vegan, + Refined Sugar-Free)
(Scroll below recipe for step pictures)
yield: 9 cookies
- 3/4 c. mashed sweet potato (yellow and purple yams work as well; I just a yellow yam)
- 1/4 c. nut butter (I recommend almond or cashew butter; peanut butter will overpower the chocolate flavor) (Here is the recipe for 1 ingredient homemade almond butter)
- 1 1/2 tbsp. oat flour
- 2 tbsp. non-dairy milk
- 2 1/2 tbsp. unsweetened dark cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tbsp. liquid sweetener (i.e. agave or maple syrup)
- 3 tbsp. dark chocolate chips
- chopped nuts (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
- In a blender, combine the sweet potato, nut butter, liquid sweetener, and milk for about 30 seconds until mixture is smooth and evenly incorporated.
- Add in the oat flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder until the mixture is the consistency of cookie dough. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts.
- Wet hands to prevent the dough from sticking. Roll the dough balls and pat down slightly to form cookies on a greased cookie sheet or non-stick pan.
- Bake in the oven for approximately 12 min.
- Remove from the oven and let them set for approx. 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and enjoy with a cup of milk!
The cookies will come out of the oven a little fudgy, but I like them best when they have set for a little, hardened a bit on the outside, and pipe hot steam when broken apart. These cookies are ideal for breakfast on to go or as a snack, and will fuel your day without a doubt. Fiber from the sweet potatoes and oats ensure lasting energy, and Vitamin E and monounsaturated fats from the almond butter helps maintain heart and brain health.
Whip these cookies up, give it a try, and I can guarantee you that you may not want to return to an original cookie recipe because of how delightful and nutritious these fudgy cookies are!
Fudgy brownie cookies
I have recently been intrigued by a website called Feasting on Fruit, where the author, Natalie, creates mostly sweet but also savory recipes that uses fruit to replace the fats or the refined sugars. After watching some of her videos, I was a little skeptical of these recipes because some of the outcomes looked a little dry, but I decided to try a few of her recipes and was pleasantly surprised with how scrumptious the desserts were. It is so difficult to fathom that these desserts are good for you and made with natural ingredients. I was inspired by Natalie to make up my own recipe, and using her techniques, which often involves using a date paste as the fat and sugar, I came up with a soft maple cookie recipe that is out of this world. I highly recommend you all to check out Natalie’s site, and without further ado, let’s get baking!
Soft Maple Cookies
yield: 8-10 cookies
- 1 1/4 c. oat flour
- 10 pitted dates soaked in hot water (any type of dates work)
- 1/3 c. non- dairy milk
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tbsp. chia seeds
- 1 tsp. maple extract
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
- Place the dates in a food processor and pulse while slowly adding in the non-dairy milk. Do not add all the milk in at once because it may splash all over the place out of the food processor. Then add in the maple extract. A sticky date paste will form.
- In a medium bowl, combine the oat flour, baking powder, chia seeds, and cornstarch until evenly incorporated.
- Pour the date paste into the dry mixture and mix until a dough is formed.
- Using wet hands, roll the dough into balls and flatten to form a small cookie. You can decorate the top with some cacao nibs or sprinkle with nuts!
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Take out and enjoy!
These cookies taste best when they’re fresh out of the oven and piping with hot steam. They won’t have a gooey consistency, but will instead taste soft, moist, and cake-y. Let’s also not forget to mention that your entire kitchen will smell like maple 🙂
Soft maple cookies
When Vegans say nutritional yeast “really does taste like cheese!” I always mutter mmhmm under my breath and roll my eyes a bit. Cheese is cheese. I may be the biggest cheese lover in the world, so I WILL know if I am eating fake cheese. So the thought of some orange flaky bits being able to replace the gooey goodness of cheese seems too good to be true, but was it too good to be true?
OK. Yes. It was too good to be true and the nutritional yeast vegan queso was simply not up to par as the traditional non-vegan queso, but I do have to say it comes in a close second and serves as a wonderful guilt-free snack. I’ll still relish on my favorite Torchy’s show-stopping queso here and there, but nutritional yeast queso is something I’m going to eat pretty regularly since it actually contains the good stuff. The good stuff, you know? The B-vitamins, folate, zinc, and all other immune-boosting nutrients that trump all the saturated fat in real cheese.
Vegan Cheese (No Cashews)
yield: approx. 2 cups
- 1 1/2 c. potatoes diced
- 1 c. carrots diced
- 1/3 c. water
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar or lemon
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp paprika (optional)
- pinch of pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder (opt.)
- 1/4 tsp onion powder (opt.)
- 1/4 c. nutritional yeast flakes
- Boil the potatoes and carrots together until soft and tender. I like to boil on high, turn the water off and let the remaining heat soften the vegetables to save energy!
- Drain the vegetables and let them cool a bit but not completely.
- Place the vegetables in a high-speed blender along with all other ingredients and blend until completely smooth and creamy.
- The texture should greatly resemble queso. It should be gooey and melty.
look at that queso!
I’m not a food chemist so I don’t understand how this vegan queso gets its gooey consistency, but the resemblance with traditional queso is uncanny. Also, if you’d like to spice up your queso, by all means you may add a roasted pepper!! Now the holidays have rolled around, this is a great dip for parties so go ahead and deceive your friends!
almond flour cookies
Vegan AND gluten-free???? That sounds like a pretty good deal to me. As much as I love “treat yo self” days where I can enjoy a warm, gooey pizookie with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, my GI tract often feels discomfort from the gluten and lactose gone into those cookies due to my unfortunate food intolerance to the two. However, when I made these vegan chocolate chip cookies, I felt more energized and suffered no discomfort at all because everything that went in to the cookie was really clean, pure, and minimally processed!!
Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies (GF)
yield: 14 cookies
- 2 c. almond flour/almond meal
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 flax/chia egg (3 tbsp. water + 1 tbsp. flax meal/chia seeds)
- 3 tbsp. vegan sweetener (or honey if not vegan)
- a pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- dash of vanilla extract (optional)
- 1/4 c. dark chocolate chips
- In a small bowl, combine water and flax/chia and set for a minimum of 5 minutes for the chia egg to form.
- In a large bowl, combine almond flour, baking soda, and salt and combine well.
- Add the solid yet softened coconut oil, sweetener, vanilla, and egg until all the contents are mixed throughout. Mix in the chocolate chips.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees C. Form the cookies and place on a non stick baking tray.
- Bake the cookies for approx. 11 minutes or until the cookie is baked completely through.
These cookies are really to die for and I’ll often eat one as part of my breakfast or as a snack on the go. They also freeze really well so you could make a big batch and save them up, but I honestly finished all these cookies in just a few days
Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
This is a recipe taken from Big Man’s World that is absolutely simple, foolproof, and healthy! I have made these for breakfast multiple times and they never disappoint. The great thing about this recipe is that it is low-cost, vegan, and gluten-free so it’s an ideal bread alternative for someone with Celiac’s disease. All the ingredients used are natural and are a great source of fiber from rolled oats and alpha-linoleic acid from the chia seeds. I ended up making an eggs benedict-type of breakfast with the English muffin, it goes great with almond butter (check out how to make homemade almond butter!), jam (check out how to make homemade chia jam!), honey, ricotta… really whatever you have on hand would serve as a great topping for the muffins.
Microwave English Muffin (Vegan + GF)
yield: 1 large English muffin
- 1/3 cup rolled oats (gluten free, if necessary)
- 1 tbsp chia seeds or flax meal
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce (I used a quick homemade apple sauce where I microwaved apple slices and placed in a food processor)
- 1 tbsp non-dairy milk
- In a blender or food processor, process the oats, chia/flax seeds, and baking powder until a fine and evenly mixed powder forms
- Transfer to a small cup, bowl, or ramekin, and add the applesauce and nondairy milk, and mix until dough forms. Flatten the top of the dough.
- Microwave for 2 minutes on high.
- Let it cool for 2 minutes and then slice, toast (optional), and enjoy with your toppings of choice!
On a side note, I made my English muffin breakfast a tad crazy as I loaded on the toppings, but I am all for creativity so top as you please! I included caramelized onions, tomatoes, goat cheese, cucumber slices, and turkey bacon.
a close up on the goodness
Matcha energy bites
Here I am, yet posting another matcha recipe because matcha is a gorgeous, dainty ingredient that provides antioxidants for the body. Today’s recipe is matcha energy bites, which I played around with by gradually adding ingredients I believed would accompany each other well. On first attempt, the result was divine: perfect consistency, not too sweet, and packed with flavor! Pleased and legitimately overjoyed, I devoured four energy bites in one sitting and uncontrollably reached for more. I really do hope you try this recipe out because these bites are delectable!
Matcha Energy Bites
yield: 16 balls (1 in. diameter)
- 1 1/2. tsp matcha powder
- 3/4 c. rolled oats
- 7 medjool dates soaked in hot water
- 1/2 c. almond flour
- 20 almonds
- 1 tbsp chia seeds.
- t tbsp. flax seeds
- Remove the pits from the dates and soak in hot water for at least 10 minutes. This helps soften the dates, adding moisture, and making them easier to blend.
- Place rolled oats in a food processor and process until a fine oat flour is formed. Add in the matcha powder, almond flour, chia and flax seeds, and pulse until the flour is well incorporated.
- Add the soaked dates and pulse until a smooth, dough-consistency mixture forms.
- Place the mixture into a medium-sized bowl.
- Place the 20 almonds into the empty food processor and pulse until the almonds become “roughly chopped”. This will add crunchy texture to the energy bites and also cleans any leftover sticky mixture left in the food processor. Add the chopped almonds into the mixture in the bowl and thoroughly incorporate with a fork or spatula.
- Using clean hands, damp with a little bit of water, and roll the mixture into balls. You can also dust with a little bit of cocoa or matcha powder if you’d like!
These energy bites are great for a snack and can last in the fridge for up to two weeks!
Soft and chewy
Pulse the mixture
Power Smoothie Bowl
To say that I love smoothie bowls would be honestly be an understatement. I enjoy having a smoothie bowl for breakfast, lunch, and sometimes even dinner to pack in potassium, fiber, and folic acid for the day! While I am more than happy to consume a bowl of sliced fruits topped with granola, there is something extremely refreshing about an icy, cold mixture that cools the body down during the sizzling summer days. The seemingly never ending list of smoothie bowl pro’s often conceals the fact that smoothie bowls are alarmingly high in sugar content (ahh!!), and I hate how my body feels lethargic when I consumer too much sugar. The fructose in fruit is all-natural, but consuming many grams of fructose does not benefit the body, and so I have concocted an flawless blend of fruits that keep the sugar content in a smoothie bowl relatively low. 🙂
Power Smoothie Bowl
- 1/4 c. frozen spinach or kale
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 1/3 c. sliced frozen strawberries
- 1/3 c. non-frozen mango
- 1/4 c. unsweetened (vanilla) almond milk
- Blend all the ingredients in a food processor or powerful blender until smooth.
- Top with toppings of your choice! I used fresh dragon fruit, mango, pumpkin seeds, unfrosted bran flakes, and chia seeds.
Blend all ingredients together
The major sweetener in this smoothie bowl was the non-frozen mango, and it’s important to use non-frozen because it’ll make the smoothie bowl sweeter since it’s really the only sweetener here. Although bananas and strawberries can be sweet, they lose sweetness once they are frozen so they don’t contribute much sweet flavor to the smoothie bowl.
This power smoothie bowl kept be full for 5 hours and I felt exceptionally energetic after consumption!
Homemade almond butter
If only almond butter were as cheap as peanut butter, I would have jars after jars of almond butter orderly lined up on my pantry shelves. But unfortunately, a typical 12 oz. jar costs at least $7 and at the rate that I consume almond butter, I’ll be exceptionally broke in no time. However, I recently whipped up a batch of homemade almond butter at home, resulting in a jar made at a fraction of the cost of store-bought AND the recipe requires 1 ingredient ONLY. You heard that right, 1 ingredient almond butter? I was utterly shocked as well, but through experimenting, I found that the natural oils in the almonds is enough to make the spread creamy. No added sweeteners, fats, or preservatives. Need I say more?
1 Ingredient Almond Butter
yield: 12 oz.
- 3 c. unsalted almonds ( roasted or raw, doesn’t matter)
- Spread the almonds out on a baking sheet and bake at 300°C for around 8 minutes. This activates the oils in the almonds and gives the almond butter a deep, decadent roasted flavor. Once baked, remove the almonds from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes to prevent heat from touching the plastic food processor.
- Pour the almonds into a food processor with a blade and process for 15-20 minutes. I used the “chop” mode and kept the processor running consistently. After every 2-3 minutes, I scraped down the sides with a spatula so that the mixture would all be on the bottom of the food processor. side note: the almonds will become a coarse texture, like almond butter. After more processing, the almonds start to look like a thick paste, and you’ll be tempted to add oil because it’ll look too dry, but DON’T, just continue to process for about 5 additional minutes.
- After 20 minutes, the almonds should have become almond butter: thick and creamy, and your entire kitchen will smell like almond paradise.
- Store the almond in an airtight jar and store at room temperature. Because the almond butter is literally almonds, the butter can last for up to a year.
If you had enough patience to finally see the almonds transform to almond butter, I want to congratulate you!! It’ll be difficult for me to ever buy almond butter, knowing that I can save money by making it at home as well knowing that it is only made with 1 ingredient.
Enjoy you almond butter with toast, make cookies, or muffins, or simply eat it out of the jar!
Processed almond butter after 20 minutes
Store in an airtight container