How to make perfect quinoa.

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Quinoa has been cultivated in the Andes for over 5,000 years.  It is referred to as the “Gold of the Incas”.  Today (Keen-wah) is incredibly popular for being a great source of protein, iron, fiber, magnesium and fiber.  Perfect for those from vegans to carnivores alike.  This nutritional powerhouse is quite mainstream today, and can be purchased at any grocery store to big box warehouse stores.  Cooking it can be quite tricky and I wanted to share a full-proof way to make it perfect every single time.  This works for white, black or red quinoa equally.  Now just think of all the awesome ways to incorporate quinoa into your menu.  Substitute it for rice, pasta… pair it with veggies, stuff it in peppers, soups, add it to meatballs, meatloaf… mix it with honey or maple syrup and add fruit for breakfast.   Add an scrambled egg to it and make a fun breakfast bowl.   This is so versatile!  Can be eaten hot or cold.  Great to pack in lunches too!  Vegan.  Gluten free. 

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— Knead to Cook

Raw Almond Butter and Banana Pie.

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I’ve been quite interested in trying my hand at a raw dessert lately. Then came last week and we had a big reason to celebrate and I wanted to make our pizza night extra special.  My oldest had just passed her lifeguarding course earning her certification.  That was reason enough.  She had worked so hard and this will be her very first “real” job and that warranted an extra special pizza night in her honor.

I purchased some awesome supplies (raw cashews, almonds, hemp protein etc. from Nuts.com) who I highly recommend (this is NOT a paid sponsorship).  I love passing along great finds to my friends.  Their products are incredibly fresh and the shipping was insanely fast!  Win! Win!  Will definitely be a repeat customer.

Okay so this recipe does need to set up and chill in the freezer for at least 6-8 hours but I did it overnight.  So remember that when preparing. This would be a fun Easter dessert or for a summer party.  Nice and chilled.  Packed with healthy ingredients and great fats that your body needs.  Not all fats are bad – remember that!  Nuts are a great source of protein and fats. Plus the addition of almond butter and bananas… I believe I was channeling Elvis on some level.

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— Knead to Cook

Tortilla Soup. Meatless Monday.

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Happy Monday!  I cannot believe it’s the last day of March!  Seriously, where did this month go?  Wow.  Well it looks like I’ll be battling my husband’s cold he shared with me as we approach April, which is fine as the weather looks to be improving on the East Coast.  I have so many recipes that I have backlogged to share with you all.  Make  sure you check back often as a new recipe will be posted each day Monday through Friday.

Today I thought I would pick a Meatless Monday selection that I made last week.  It was a cross between a soup I make and one from my newly purchased cookbook Oh She Glows (which I highly recommend if you are vegan or are looking for delicious plant-based recipes).  This recipe is super easy and flexible.  You can add or delete as you go and customize to your needs.  This soup is great for Meatless Mondays if you try to do a meatless day during the week.  If not, cook some ground turkey or beef and add it for a meat version.

Super filling and protein/vitamin rich!  I served this with sprouted sweet potato tortilla chips for dipping and crunching.  My family (kids included) all loved this!

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— Knead to Cook

Crispy Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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Oh I’ve been enjoying my new vegan cookbooks my husband got for me.  They’ve been the highlight of this incredibly long, difficult week.  I’m not sure what its been this week but everyone I’ve spoken to has felt the same way.  Weird, right?  Definitely a cookie because I survived the day kinda week.  Ha ha. Altho a super long dragging week it has been productive.  Kids passports photos/applications/processing done. My oldest is officially a trained and certified lifeguard!  Myriad of doc appointment completed.  We’ve decided that we need to buy a new car.  Oh how I loathe this process.  Not my car, but my husband’s.  This probably means a bit of changing around.  He will take mine, he drives an hour each way to work and I have the hybrid and I will get said “new” vehicle.  As much as I love cars… I do not like shopping, researching and doing all of the due diligence to acquire a new one.  Anyone who would like to share what they drive and their opinion with me, please feel free!  Looking for something a bit more rugged.  Something we can throw our bikes on and go.  Hiking.  Trails. Oh I miss my Hummer.  Okay back to reality at hand… cookies.  Happy place.

I’ve been testing out so many awesome recipes and I have really enjoyed sharing them with my family as well.  These were a huge hit!!!  One batch I divided up – half with vegan chocolate chips and half without because my husband is allergic to cocoa.  I made them and they were gone in 2 days!  They are super crunchy yet chewy.  Packed with flaxseed, oats, almonds… great vitamins, minerals and protein.  Gluten-free too!  Great snack for school lunches or for after-school.  

Face it, who doesn’t want to have a cookie once in a while (or more often)?  So why not make it healthy without losing the flavor, texture or yumminess.  These fit the bill… hook, line and sinker!

Adapted from Oh She Glows cookbook.
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— Knead to Cook

Raw Nutty Seed Cupcakes.

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If you’re a fan of my energy balls/bites – these are quite similar and equally as tasty.  Another recipe I’m testing out from Brendan Brazier’s Thrive cookbook- I may be posting each and every recipe shortly.  These bite-sized treats are raw and gluten free. Packed with protein and a great post-workout recovery.  Very filling, which is why I made them in mini cupcake cups.  Literally a bite or two is quite satisfying.  These are also great when you are craving something not-so-healthy to curb your hunger until lunch or dinner is ready.  Also great after-school snack idea or treat for kids.  Fats aren’t bad… bad fats are bad.  Fats from nuts and seeds are heart healthy and quite necessary for the body to operate efficiently.

An adaptation from Thrive cookbook.

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— Knead to Cook

Cookies and Cream Recovery Smoothie. Vegan.

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I recently received Brendan Brazier’s second book – Thrive Energy Cookbook.  It’s insane!  I love every single recipe and have been voraciously been working through the book quite systematically.  This, thus far, ranks among the tops for me.  Totally vegan but totally delectable.  It is so indulgent!  I cannot stress this to you enough.  I love it on particularly rough workout days to help boost my protein to help muscles recover quickly – the premise of his books.  Good in, fast recovery, less injuries, better performance.  Even if you aren’t an elite athlete… this smoothie is nutrient dense and will have everyone clambering for it.  I promise!

Adapted from Thrive’s Cookies and Cream Recovery Smoothie.

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— Knead to Cook

Cream of Asparagus Soup. Vegan.

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I have been making copious amounts of cashew cream in my kitchen.  It’s so versatile – adapting to either sweet or savory dishes.  This weekend I scored several pounds of fresh asparagus from my local farmer’s market and knew I wanted to make soup.  I love asparagus soup and wanted to try this healthier version.  It turned out great.  Thickened the soup perfectly and I added some hemp protein, after all it’s green as well, to the soup for an extra protein punch which is great for muscle recovery.

I whipped this soup up in about 30 minutes and it was perfect before we headed off to church service.  Leftovers only taste better as the flavors deepen.  Would be a great weeknight Meatless Monday dish served up with some whole grain crackers or a crusty loaf of bread.  Leftovers make the perfect lunch the next day.

If you’re hosting an Easter brunch… think about this one on your menu.  Make ahead.  Would keep perfectly on the warm setting of your slow cooker.  Although my daughter insisted I use the Malbec wine for this photo, I would pair up with a white wine of your choice.  So good!

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— Knead to Cook

Chocolate Mint Matcha Magic Smoothie.

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I’m addicted to Thrive Cookbook!  Brendan Brazier is a genius, accomplished triathlete who has focused much of his life on plant-based nutrition and how it can help the body recover, regenerate and operate at an optimum capacity.  I’ve been enjoying so many of his awesome recipes and this one my daughter wanted to try for breakfast yesterday morning.  It was so good, gluten free, raw and protein packed.  Perfect for breakfast, post recovery from a workout or when you need a chocolate pick-me-up without any of the bad!

Recipe modified from the Thrive Cookbook.

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— Knead to Cook

Vegan Kale and Basil Pesto.

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On a vegan roll this week with the recipes.  Again, I think many people shy away or turn their nose up to trying vegan recipes – trust me, don’t!  All of these recipes I’m sharing I “test run” on my family and my kids and father are all staunch carnivores.  It is nice to mix up your menu choices.  Add more veggies and sub out the meat once in awhile, remember Meatless Mondays?  Okay so my kids LOVE LOVE love, pesto.  I haven’t made it all winter – well because it reminds me of spring and summer.  It’s light and fresh and normally has ingredients that come from our garden.  Well now that the snow has melted (Amen!) and spring has SPRUNG (finally) I wanted to whip up a different pesto that was nutritionally set up as a powerhouse, who doesn’t want their kids to eat more green veggies right?, and was totally vegan (because you can try a vegan recipe without dying I promise).

This pesto is so packed with vitamins and minerals – your body will be humming along nicely and when you eat lots of color (remember science and photosynthesis?) – that comes from the sun, that energy and glow will happen to you.  Insert the wahhh wahhh wahhhh from Charlie Brown but I’m serious.  Since becoming a vegetarian – consuming more and more vegetables has changed my skin texture and it now has a glow plus I have a ton of energy.  Meat doesn’t do that for you, sorry.

Back to the recipe at hand… this recipe can be made solely with basil or a combination of basil, kale and spinach – whatever you like.  Totally flexible and totally tasty.  Also refrigerates or freezes beautifully.  Plus how easy is this dinner… process it in your food processor or Vitamix and keep it in the fridge till you boil your pasta.  Ummmm hello easy weeknight dinner.  Also spreads great on crackers, acts as a dip for veggies or a spread on your sandwich, top your favorite protein, in soup… the ideas are endless.

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— Knead to Cook

Cashew Cream Dijon Sauce, Dressing, Dip.

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Today I made a batch of cashew cream and coincidentally roasted about 4 lbs of golden beets that I scored at the grocery store (rare gems that they are).  I am a huge beet fan.  I love red, candy cane and golden beets – with the latter being my favorite.  So while they cooled, I sat thinking that I need to make a sauce to top these (my standard is some aged balsamic) and immediately came up with this recipe.  I will now admit that I think I ate about 2 lbs of the beets for lunch with the sauce because it was SO GOOD!  Seriously, I’m counting the minutes until its socially acceptable for me to gorge myself of the remaining beets and sauce.  You have to try this!  No other words necessary.

Additional uses for this sauce:  Salad dressing, vegetable dip, toss with pasta, top chicken, pork or fish or as a sandwich spread.  Totally vegan.
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— Knead to Cook