“Seeing Green” Vegan Chocolate Milkshake

With summer on the horizon, Smoothies and Shakes are reentering my life. 

And, in typical “me” fashion, these icy treats are full of flavor AND nutrition.

The surprising combination of bananas, cocoa, and spinach produces a thick, creamy vegan milkshake healthy enough for breakfast, but tasty enough for dessert!

If we are being honest. I totally drank one for lunch on Sunday and felt utterly naughty the entire time, mostly because it tasted so decadent!

Go ahead! Pull out your blender and give this shake a try. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert… Anytime is a perfect time for a treat that will make you smile!

“Seeing Green” Vegan Chocolate Milkshake

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 small Frozen Banana
  • 1 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 large handful Baby Spinach
  • 1 cup Unsweetened Original Almond Milk

Directions:

  1. Place ingredients in a blender in the order listed.
  2. Process until smooth.
  3. Serve immediately.

This post is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays at the Gluten Free Homemaker, and to Allergy Free Wednesdays at Tessa the Domestic Diva.

Sunny Side-up Spinach & Mushroom Skillet

Vegetables are a HUGE part of my life.

I eat them. I drink them. I decorate with them.

The thing is, I am a food snob, of sorts. I refuse to eat something unless it has color and beauty. Vegetables are beautiful. Vegetables are colorful. Vegetables are WONDERFUL!

Today’s dish features a colorful palate and my favorite inexpensive source of protein, the egg. (Cari… look away!) Full of lean protein, vitamins, and minerals, eggs are an excellent addition to any meal. Now, let’s get “crackin’!”

Sunny Side-up Spinach & Mushroom Skillet

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup White Button Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/3 cup Baby Spinach
  • 1/2 large Organic Tomato, chopped
  • 1 large Organic Egg
  • Herbamare & Black Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Dry saute’ mushrooms in a skillet over high heat until they begin to release their moisture.
  2. Add spinach and diced tomatoes and cook until wilted.
  3. Move mushroom/spinach mixture to the sides of the skillet, creating a circle in the middle.
  4. Reduce the stovetop heat to medium-low, and crack the egg into the center of the skillet.
  5. Season with herbamare and black pepper and cook until egg is done.
  6. Gently transfer to a plate.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

Dairy-Free & Sugar-Free Fudgesicles

Who doesn’t love a good popsicle?

It all started with this recipe from the blog Maid In Alaska. I found it on Pinterest and have been meaning to make it for a few months. I finally got around to it this past weekend.

I tweeked it ever so slightly by using Vanilla Creme Liquid Stevia and omitting the Vanilla Extract. My overall impression was that they were a little icy for my personal preference, but still yummy. They certainly did the trick of curbing my sweet tooth!

Sugar-Free Fudgesicles

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 can Coconut Milk
  • 1 cup Unsweetened Original Almond Milk
  • 3 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1/3 tsp Vanilla Creme Liquid Stevia

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
  2. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze 3-5 hours.

Southwestern Avocado Pesto Pizza w/ a Black Bean Crust

Monday, on my 6am flight, I had an idea for a pizza recipe.

….because that’s what normal people do on a 6am flight….

I finally had the opportunity to try it out this weekend, and was thrilled that it worked! In my opinion, if you can make a healthy, low-carb, high protein pizza crust, why not go for it? Any way to make pizza healthier and I’m in!

But first…. my wonderful Father In-Law came to town on business this week. He stayed an extra day just so we could have a Father/Daughter date night!

We went to a wonderful little restaurant, frequented by locals. It is a tiny, authentic Cuban restaurant, called Cuba Cuba, tucked quietly in a residential neighborhood. It masquerades as a little blue house with yellow trim. But, the moment you set foot inside, that perception changes. The place is alive with color and the sounds of laughter. Everyone is happy and relaxed, and the food….. How do I even begin to describe the food? Subtle and complex, each dish is as close to Cuba as you are going to get outside of Havana. And get this, they have a Gluten-Free Menu!!!!!!!

We started with drinks. He got a Mojito, and I went with the nightly special, a Paloma.

….Which I may have ordered because it was pink….

While we were deciding on our entrees, the owner, a firey Cuban woman who moved here from Miami, came over to chat with us. She and my Father In-Law (who is also Cuban) hit it off immediately, discussing the different dishes on the menu, etc… She recommended he try a thin, lightly breaded steak (I’m blanking on the name). He did, and raved over it’s authentic flavor. I, however, went with a light, spicy Seafood Stew served with rice. Scrumptious does not even begin to describe it! It was the nightly special, and I can only pray that they add it to the regular rotation.

Cuba Cuba is now our date night place whenever my Father In-Law is in town. AND if you are ever visiting Denver and in the mood for great food away from the tourist hustle and bustle, you MUST try Cuba Cuba.

Now, on to my recipe!

Southwestern Avocado Pesto Pizza w/ a Black Bean Crust

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Southwestern Avocado Pesto (see below)
  • 1 recipe Black Bean Pizza Crust (see below)
  • 1 large Organic Tomato, sliced
  • Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • Salsa & Dairy-Free Sour Cream, for serving

Directions:

  1. Spread Pesto over the par-baked pizza crust.
  2. Top with slices of tomato and sprinkle with nutritional yeast.
  3. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. (425 degrees F if at a high altitude)
  4. Serve with salsa and dairy-free sour cream, if desired.

Southwestern Avocado Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh Cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp Chives, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Herbamare
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 1/3 cup Hot Water (may use more or less)
  • 1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Combine Avocado, Cilantro, Nutritional Yeast, Garlic, Salt and Pepper, Olive Oil, and 1/4 cup of the Hot Water in a food processor.
  2. Process until smooth, adding more water if needed.

Black Bean Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 can Black Beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1/2 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Xanthum Gum
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • Pinch of Black Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Water, as needed (if cooking at a low altitude, you may only need 2 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 3/4 tsp Oregano

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (425 if at a high altitude)
  2. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  3. Mixture will be wetter than traditional pizza dough.
  4. Spray a round baking tray with non-stick cooking spray and lightly dust with brown rice flour.
  5. Using moist fingers, spread dough into a thin even circle covering the tray. Have a bowl of water nearby to re-moisten fingers frequently.
  6. Bake dough in the 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.
  7. After baking, remove from the oven and proceed with the above recipe.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free.

 

Berry Good Green Smoothie

Preface: A Green Smoothie isn’t always green…

Sometimes it is purple!

I have been craving Green Smoothies and Juices like crazy these past few weeks! I don’t know what it is. I eat an abnormal amount of greens and vegetables to begin with. Why my body is asking for more is beyond me, but I am happy to oblige! The more greens and color on my plate and in my diet the happier I am.

So, what makes a Smoothie a Green Smoothie? It is the addition of greens! Greens can range from spinach to kale to swiss chard. Whatever you have on hand can be tossed into your blender for an added nutritional boost. For those Green Smoothie newbies out there, I recommend starting with spinach. Spinach has the most innocuous flavor of all the greens.

I added Chia Seeds and GF Oats to my smoothie for extra fiber. Feel free to omit if you don’t have any lying around. 😉

 

Berry Good Green Smoothie

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 frozen Banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen Blueberries
  • 3-4 Strawberries
  • 1 handful Baby Spinach
  • 3/4 cup Unsweetened Original Almond Milk
  • 2 tsp Chia Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Certified Gluten-Free Old Fashioned Oats

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender in the order listed.
  2. Process until smooth.

Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash

Today was an idyllic Saturday…

I awoke at 7am (believe it, or not, that is sleeping in for me) and spent a glorious hour sipping my cup of French Press coffee. Then, it was off to the salon for a haircut and the tailor to have a dress altered. As I was walking out to my car, I couldn’t resist stopping by Anthropologie to try on a few of the seasons new looks. I didn’t buy anything ($148 for a crop top?!!!!), but I was sooo tempted. I am really loving the 70’s inspired lace crop tops they have this season. Instead, I got my ring cleaned and left the mall with a full pocket book on my shoulder and a sparkly ring on my finger. GF Guy was so proud!

To top off the day, I made myself a scrumptious dinner using my new cookware! My mom (who loves me) sent me the EarthPan Hard Anodized NonStick Cookware Set. It doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals and is oven safe. Let me tell you what, after years of using my Great Grandmother’s old pots these felt like heaven! If you are in the market for new pots definitely give these some consideration. THANK YOU MOM!!!!!!

Now on to the recipe! I have a serious love affair with Curry Powder and Maple Syrup. These two unlikely companions turn the simplest of meals into a Rock Star. Don’t take my word for it. Give this recipe a try!

Vegan Stuffed Acorn Squash

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 small Acorn Squash
  • Olive Oil
  • Maple Syrup
  • Salt & Black Pepper
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Nutmeg
  • 1/2 pint sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 1 Carrot, chopped
  • 1/4 Yellow Onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tomato, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1 cup Baby Spinach
  • 1/3 cup cooked Great Northern White Beans
  • 1/4 tsp Curry Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Chinese Five Spice
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Maple Syrup
  • Black Pepper & Salt, to taste
  • 2 tsp Nutritional Yeast Flakes

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Slice squash in half and scoop out seeds and fibers. Using a fork, pierce the inside flesh of the squash a few times.
  3. Place squash skin side down in a glass baking dish. Drizzle squash with olive oil and maple syrup, and sprinkle with a bit of salt, pepper, nutmeg, rosemary, and thyme.
  4. Pour water into the baking dish around the squash, about 1/2″ deep.
  5. Place squash in the oven and roast about 25 minutes until fork tender.
  6. Meanwhile, dry roast mushrooms in a large saute’ pan over medium heat. Once mushrooms begin to release their moisture, about 7 minutes, add carrots and onion and saute until soft.
  7. Add garlic to the pan and saute about 30 seconds before adding chopped tomatoes.
  8. Add tomato paste, spinach, herbs and spices, vinegar, maple syrup, and beans, and cook until heated through and spinach is wilted.
  9. Once tender, remove squash from the oven and pour liquid gathered in the center of the squash into a measuring cup. Set aside.
  10. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
  11. Spoon bean mixture evenly into each squash half and top each half with 1 tsp of nutritional yeast.
  12. Drizzle reserved liquid over top squash.
  13. Add more water to the baking dish if needed and return squash to the oven to bake for 25 minutes.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays and Gluten-Free Wednesday.

Gluten-Free Travel Essentials

Normally, I don’t post much during the week. You see, I travel for my job, which makes cooking near on impossible.

image source

I live out of a suitcase 4 out of 7 days a week. I can pack for a week in 5 minutes flat. (Yes, I timed myself!) AND, I know how to get through airport security faster than the TSA do themselves!

My meals are rather boring. Usually dinner consists of a bed of lettuce with steam in the bag veggies, salsa, and either tofu or tuna. Lunch is eaten on the go. Think, a Larabar, or something similar, baby carrots, or dry-roasted Edamame. I’m not particularly married to either of these meals, but they do the trick. My hunger is satisfied, and my stomach is not upset.

BUT… there are two creature comforts of which I can not do without. When you can’t have your own bed you are entitled to find your comfort wherever possible. For me? My two travel essentials are (and don’t laugh)

The Light My Fire Spork is a fork, knife, and spoon all in one! It has saved me on countless occasions. It sounds dorky, but this is seriously the best travel tool I have ever bought.

Vega One Protein Powder is a nutritious AND delicious way to start any morning! It powers me through the work day without weighing me down. Since I am both gluten-free and diary-free, a protein powder that tastes good mixed with only water is essential. This protein fits the bill! This week, I wasn’t able to find the protein for 2 mornings. I bought a different brand and nearly gagged both mornings! I will NEVER cheat on my Vega ever again!

Do you have any products that you can’t live without? What are your tips and tricks for successful gluten-free travel?

BBQ Sweet Potato & Avocado Grilled Cheese Sandwich (aka Grilled Cheese Nirvana)

It happened! I achieved grilled cheese nirvana!

A few of you may be scratching your heads, wondering how this is so since I don’t eat gluten or dairy. Well, my friends, Udi’s Gluten-Free Bread & Daiya Vegan Mozzarella make fantastic substitutes! They are so delicious, in fact, that GF Guy eats them and actually enjoys them! How’s that for an endorsement?

This month is National Grilled Cheese Month. What better time to introduce this beauty to the world? Originally inspired by a recipe on Pinterest that I made and was not 100% pleased with, my version is the perfect blend of sweet and savory with a decided POW! of BBQ tang.

Admittedly, BBQ sauce is my condiment version of kryptonite. I add it to meatballs… use it as a dip for celery and cucumber slices… I have even been known to drizzle BBQ sauce on a salad in place of dressing! But adding BBQ sauce to a grilled cheese? The idea seemed crazy, until now.

Sit back and prepare for cheesy heaven on a plate!

BBQ Sweet Potato & Avocado Grilled Cheese Sandwich

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and line a baking tray with foil.
  2. Put sweet potato rounds in a medium bowl and drizzle with oil, cinnamon, paprika, salt, sugar, and maple syrup. Toss until evenly coated.
  3. Place sweet potato rounds in an even layer on the foil lined baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, until soft.
  4. Once sweet potato rounds are finished cooking, begin assembling your sandwich.
  5. Start by lightly buttering the outside of the 2 slices of Udi’s bread with Earth Balance.
  6. Next, evenly sprinkle the shredded Daiya cheese on the inside of one slice of bread.
  7. Top cheese with 3-4 sweet potato rounds, 4 thin slices of avocado, 2 slices of tomato, and 1/4 cup baby spinach. Spread BBQ sauce on the inside of the second slice of bread, and place on top of the spinach.
  8. Heat a skillet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray over medium-low heat.
  9. Place sandwich in the skillet and cook until desired level of char is achieved and cheese begins to melt.
  10. Using a spatula, carefully flip the sandwich and continue cooking on the other side until done.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.

A Picnic in the Park

Life can be so hectic that it becomes easy to forget to enjoy its simple pleasures.

This past Sunday, Easter Sunday, my good friend “G” and I took a moment to stop and smell the flowers, so to speak. We packed up a picnic lunch and set off for a leisurely afternoon in the park.

On Saturday, in preparation for our picnic, I roasted a chicken with a balsamic glaze. The day of, all that was left to do was pack a salad and various salad toppings, carve the chicken, and wash a pint of fresh, organic strawberries.

The weather was gorgeous! The entire city must have been outside. We lounged lakeside, ate, chatted, and strolled around the park for the better part of 2 hours. It is wonderful to have a friend in the city!

Balsamic Roasted Chicken

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (3.5 – 4 lb) Chicken, neck and giblets removed and discarded
  • Herbamare
  • Black Pepper
  • Poultry Seasoning
  • 1 large Sweet Onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 8 sprigs fresh Rosemary
  • 1/3 cup Water

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
  2. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with a paper towel.
  3. Place chicken in a 9×13 glass casserole dish, and season inside and out with Herbamare, pepper, and poultry seasoning.
  4. Stuff the chicken cavity with half of the chopped onion, and scatter the remaining onion around the chicken.
  5. In a measuring cup, mix together the vinegar, oil, and maple syrup. Pour over the chicken.
  6. Place 3 sprigs of rosemary in the chicken cavity, and the remaining rosemary sprigs tucked around the outside of the chicken.
  7. Pour the water in the bottom of the casserole dish.
  8. Place the chicken in the preheated oven and cook at 475 degrees F for 15 minutes.
  9. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and cook for an hour and a half.
  10. Remove chicken from the oven and allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile in Texas….

This is how GF Guy spent Easter.

Backstage with one of the young cast members. She made his Easter outfit!

Easter Eggs in a Basket

Happy Easter!

What a glorious resurrection day! This is my first Easter away from all members of my family. No Easter egg hunts with the grandparents, no brunch with my husband…. To be honest, it made me a little sad. BUT…. I can’t stay sad on Easter! I have too much to be thankful for!

Instead of moping, I planned an Easter picnic in the park with a dear friend. (after church, of course) Last night, I roasted a chicken for sandwiches and washed fresh, organic strawberries. We will have a feast!

That is this afternoon. This morning, I made myself an Easter breakfast feast of Eggs in a Basket. It seemed appropriate beings that it is Easter, and all.

This was my first time having this breakfast treat. Shocking, I know…. For many of you, Eggs in a Basket was probably a childhood favorite. It was for GF Guy. Do you want to know my favorite part of the meal? It was when I got to the center of the egg and it broke to reveal a golden yolk bursting with savory, rich flavor. It enveloped the bread and lent a richness that elevated this humble dish to an entirely new level. LOVED IT!

Happy Easter, everyone!

Eggs in a Basket

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Heat a skillet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray over medium heat.
  2. Meanwhile, using the mouth of a glass, cut a circle in the center of your slice of bread. Discard the circle of bread or toast to eat along with your meal.
  3. Place the slice of bread with a hole cut in the middle in the skillet and toast until golden on each side.
  4. Once bread is lightly toasted, crack the egg into the center of the hole. Cook about 4 minutes until almost set.
  5. Carefully flip the egg and toast and cook 30-60 seconds more.
  6. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
  7. Serve with baby spinach and tomato slices.

What are your plans for today? Do you have any special Easter traditions you look forward too?