Beyond Healthy Blondies ie Vegan Protein-Packed Cookie Bars!

I owe this recipe and blogpost to my girlfriend Korrin who shared the recipe with me a few months back. I’ve tweaked it just slightly but we literally make it once or twice a week! My husband and stepson request this more than anything else! And I must admit–they are absolutely mind-blowing! Nobody would ever guess that the secret ingredient in these Cookie Bars is Chick Peas…that’s right, legumes!

This recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan and refined sugar-free. It is sweetened with liquid stevia and maple syrup. I do use natural peanut butter or almond butter, but in the case of allergies, I suspect you could replace with sunbutter. I have not tried that yet.

This would be a fantastic way to sneak protein into your picky kiddo’s diet–they will be pleading for more!

Ingredients:
~1 can of organic garbanzo beans aka chick peas, strained and rinsed
~1/2 cup of natural peanut butter or almond butter (we like the grind-your-own one ingredient style from HEB or Whole Foods)
~1/8 cup of 100% Maple Syrup
~15 drops of Liquid Stevia–I prefer the Sweet Leaf Stevia Clear brand.
~2 tsp Vanilla
~1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
~1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
~1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
~1/4 cup of Enjoy Life Allergy-free, Dairy-free Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips– they are $4.91 a bag at HEB but I keep them in the freezer and they last us a good while! Perfect for these bars or chocolate chip pancakes or over some Nada Moo Dairy Free Ice Cream!

Instructions:

~Preheat Oven to 350 degrees F.
~Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips in a food processor–I prefer my Kitchen Ninja!
~Blend well.
~Add half of the chocolate chips and pulse to combine.
~Spread the “batter” into a brownie pan spritzed with olive oil or coconut oil–I like to use my pre-divided brownie pan. This recipe makes 9 bars, or half of the pan, while doubling this recipe would fill up the pan with 18 brownie-sized bars!
~Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes and serve with a cold glass of Almond Milk! Don’t forget to let them cool for 15 minutes or more so they retain their bar form as they get dunked into that almond milk!

Thank you so much Korrin for turning me on to this amazing treat! Enjoy!

Baby Bellalfredo …Dairy-free, Gluten-free & Guilt-free!

There are several dishes that have become staples on our dinner menu, but only a few that become weekly requests by my husband and stepson, and this pasta is absolutely one of them! As I was enjoying this dish last night, I couldn’t help but think that this really is the dairy-free equivalent of Mac n Cheese and based on requests for this recipe, others will feel the same way! This recipe is especially skin-friendly because ditching the dairy is one of the best things you can do for your skin! So if you crave alfredo but not the oily skin or breakouts that go along with it, this dish is for you!

bella cashew cream pasta

Besides the amazing taste of this dish, my favorite part is the overall easiness! While my pasta water is boiling, I start the sauce by combining the ingredients in the Kitchen Ninja–my favorite food processor! As the quinoa pasta is cooking, I prepare our salads and saute the baby bella mushrooms. Strain the pasta, add the sauce and mushrooms and top off with sauce, and the dish is complete! I wish they all were this simple!

As is, this recipe will serve 2. When my stepson is with us, I double the recipe and end up with a little bit leftover.

Ingredients:
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 Veggie Boullion Cube
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp tapioca starch
1 tsp EVOO
1 tsp Melt Vegan Buttery Spread
3/4 cup finely ground cashews (I pre-grind these and then add the ground cashews to this recipe)
Hint of nutmeg
1 1/2 cups boiling water
Baby Portabella mushrooms aka Crimimi mushrooms
tsp Coconut Oil (or olive oil) for preparing the mushrooms
1 Box Ancient Grains Quinoa Penne — it’s my favorite gluten-free pasta so far!

ancient harvest GF pasta

Instructions:
Wash and cut the mushrooms into slices. Heat the Coconut Oil and saute the mushrooms as the pasta is being prepared.

Boil water for the pasta.

In a powerful food processor or blender–I use my trusty Kitchen Ninja Pro–combine all of the ingredients to the nutmeg. Add the very hot water (it doesn’t have to be boiling necessarily, but I do use the tea kettle to heat the water). Blend until completely combined. The sauce may separate and that is ok.

Add the pasta and as the box states, do not overcook. I cook my noodles for 6-7 minutes and then strain. Add the pasta back into the pasta pan and add the cashew cream sauce. Combine well. Top with the mushrooms and serve!

You can be creative and add in any veggies you choose from spinach to zucchini to sweet onion!

Best Bang For Your Buck Burrito Bowls!

Pics do no justice!

Pics do no justice!

So it seems inevitable that when we are just due slightly overdue to head to the grocery store, my husband will ask, “What are you planning for dinner, babe?” At this point, I must admit that I will always suggest Rice & Beans although I’m secretly hoping my husband will politely decline! Despite the fact that brown rice and beans are extremely nutritious, healthy, inexpensive and are always in my pantry, to be honest, I do not enjoy them much at all–until today!

And full disclosure, as soon as I was able to start writing this entry, my 5 month old woke up to nurse, so I am truly multi-tasking as I type! This one will be short and sweet!

Ingredients:
2 cups dry pinto beans, which makes 4 cups cooked
1 cup dry brown rice, which makes about 2 cups cooked
1 can rotel diced tomatoes with cilantro and lime (or one large diced tomato + cilantro and lime juice!)
1 diced onion
3 cloves minced garlic (I used the jarred stuff!)
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp sea salt
1 veggie boullion cube + 2 cups bowling water (or 2 cups veggie stock)
Tofutti Sour Cream (optional but delicious)
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Sliced Avocado

First, cover the dry pinto beans with 2 inches of water and simmer for about 75 minutes. Next, prepare the brown rice as instructed.

In a large and deep skillet, heat the grapeseed oil and the spices for about a minute. Add the diced onion and saute until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to saute. After 5 minutes, add the pinto beans and rice, plus the 2 cups of veggie stock and the mostly strained can of tomatoes. Simmer on low-medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. I like to keep the consistency just slightly soupy, like a thick stew, as opposed to more dry.

Looks almost like vegetarian jambalaya!

Looks almost like vegetarian jambalaya!

This recipe should make 4 generous sized burrito bowls. Top with shredded lettuce, sour cream or Tofutti sour cream and sliced avocado.

My carnivore 11 year old stepson told me that this has instantly surpassed my baked “fried” chicken tenders–the only meat that I ever prepare–as his favorite and he requested it for his birthday! That is about the best compliment his sweet little heart can give!

This dish probably cost me no more than $5 for the entire meal and was packed full of protein and fiber! This meal is vegan and gluten-free, of course and has all of the flavor of your favorite Mexican food restaurant without the grease, fat or absolutely addictive and bottomless basket of tortilla chips!