Soy Buckwheat Zoodle Kale Killer Buddha Bowl

Okay I think I actually might have outdone myself this time. Tonight’s dinner was the most perfect combination of a zillion different flavors AND nutrients and I can’t wait to share it with y’all!

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I will share many more details below, but here are all the components of the bowl (clockwise from the top, then the center):

  • Kale with olive oil, lemon, and TJ’s Seasoning Salt
  • Zucchini noodles with olive oil, salt, and black sesame seeds
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Cabbage and beet Sauerkraut
  • Buckwheat with soy sauce and cherry tomatoes
  • Kale/cashew Pesto
  • Baked silken tofu

Although there are a ton of components to this bowl, they’re all surprisingly easy to make!

The kale salad, steamed broccoli, and sauerkraut (since it’s store bought) are pretty straight forward, but I will explain the other components here!

For the Zoodles: I simply cook the zucchini noodles in a sauce pan with just a small bit of olive oil, salt, garlic and black sesame seeds.

For the Buckwheat: In a sauce pan, heat around a cup of water until it’s about to boil. Reduce heat and add about a half cup of riced, raw buckwheat groats and add 1 tbsp of soy sauce and one or two finely minced garlic clove.  Cook for a little over 10 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed, adding tomatoes for the last few minutes.

For the Kale-Cashew Pesto, I created an original recipe! Here it is below:

Kale-Cashew Pesto

This pesto is so easy to make and it tastes freakin awesome with basically anything. All you need are the ingredients and a blender!

In the blender, combine:

  • 1/2 C raw cashews
  • 2 handfulls tuscan kale
  • 3 pinches dried basil (or 1 handful of fresh basil)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 tbsp unsweetened cashew yogurt
  • juice of half of one lemon
  • salt, to taste

simply blend all of this together, adding a table spoon of water a few times during the process in order to achieve your preferred consistency

For the Silken Tofu:

I usually like to use firm tofu, but all I had in the house was silken tofu today so I tried something new and it turned out amazing!

Heat your oven to 450 degrees and cut up the tofu into somewhat small pieces (no need to be a perfectionist) and dry them a fair amount. Spread the tofu pieces a baking sheet greased with olive or coconut oil and generously sprinkle Italian seasonings and salt (I use himalayan pink salt). Bake for about 15 minutes or until the tofu pieces are slightly browned on the edges.

I probably wouldn’t eat this tofu alone, but it was a great, mild compliment to the kale tofu as well as the other bold flavors in this buddha bowl!

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I loved this bowl a) because it tastes amazing (obviously) but b) because it’s good for my body! It’s got all all my macros and tons of greens, as well as probiotics, fiber, and vitamins. Enjoy!! 🙂

A Lazy Vegans Guide to Trader Joes

If you know me, you know that I am not whole without a fridge stocked with all my Trader Joe’s essentials. As a girl who often needs to cook a quick, easy, nutritious meal in a pinch, I would not survive without my beloved T.J.’s.

It’s hard to come by a grocery store that can offer healthy, tasty, and (emphasis on this one) economical vegan options… but if anyone has accomplished this feat, it absolutely is Trader Joe’s! Here is a list of some of my very favorite T.J.’s foods that I always have on hand:

 

1. T.J.s Frozen Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli Florets, Pearl Onions, and Mushroom Medley

Say what you want about frozen vegetables, but in a pinch a skillet of frozen veggies beats fast food any day of the week. I recently discovered the Mushroom Medley (seasoned with olive oil, garlic, and parsley) which gives my boring vegetable bowls an awesome pop of flavor and also adds some extra fiber and healthy carbs into the mix.

2. Olive Oil and Coconut Oil Aerosol Sprays

I’m not proud of my unhealthy dependence on these two oil sprays, but I do use them both on a daily basis. I use them to oil a baking sheet, to season air popped popcorn, to add flavor to my roasted veggies, you name it.

3. Hummus: Sriracha Hummus & Hummus Quartet (which includes Roasted Garlic Hummus, Tomato Basil Hummus, Spicy Hummus, and Original Hummus)

Hummus is always a staple in my life. T.J.’s Sriracha Hummus is constantly a must-have in my fridge, but the Hummus Quartet provides the perfect variety platter that provides awesome flavors for everybody tastes which makes it perfect to serve up to guests!

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Pictured: Hummus Quartet & Reduced Giult Pita Chips with Sea Salt

4. T.J.’s Steamed & Peeled Baby Beats (Ready to Eat Hot or Cold) and Mixed Medley Cherry Tomatoes

Yes – on a regular basis I am way too lazy to steam and peel my own beets. These perfectly portioned and ready to eat beets along with my favorite cherry tomato medley are perfect for whipping up a quick batch of flavored hummus or adding to any sandwich or salad.

5. T.J.’s Whole Wheat Pita Bread (Comes with 6 Pita Pockets)

What I love love love about these pitas is there ingredients – or lack there of. With just 5 ingredients in these, I feel great eating them! They’re ideal for dipping in hummus or using for a sandwich or pita wrap. I also LOVE T.J.’s Reduced Guilt Pita Chips with Sea Salt which come in at a record low of only 2.5 grams of fat per serving!

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6. Fresh Zucchini Four Pack

Lets face it – I’m addicted to zoodles. I buy all my zucchini’s at T.J.’s because the four pack is only like $2!

7. Seasonings: Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend, and T.J.’s All-Purpose Savory Seasoning Salt

I put these two on EVERYTHING!! I have a nostalgic attachment to the Savory Seasoning Salt because it reminds me of the flavors of Chicken Top Ramen Seasoning.

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8. Bagged Greens: Power to the Greens (Organic Baby Kale, Organic Baby Chard, and Organic Baby Spinach)

I always need lots of baby greens at my disposal because basically every bowl I make has a bed of greens, every sandwich is stuffed with them, every smoothie packed with them… you get the point. I go through greens like it’s my job and this is my favorite mix because it’s fresh, easy to store, affordable, and TASTY. If you prefer different greens, there are tons of other options so you can have your pick!

9. Sauce Sauce Sauce!

T.J.’s has a beautiful selection of any sort of sauce your heart could ever desire for an affordable price. Right now my favorites are T.J.’s Yellow Curry Sauce, Sweet Chili Sauce, and Trader Giotto’s Organic Marinara Sauce with No Salt Added (it only has 35 mg of sodium!! Compared to other marinara sauces which usually have between 200-500 mg)

10. T.J.’s Organic Raw Almonds

Nuts are my favorite on-the-go snack and of course Trader Joe’s has them perfectly pre-packaged into snack sized bags for my on-the-go convenience. The nut section at T.J.’s is incredible so whatever your favorites may be, you’re sure to find them there!

11. Trader Giotto’s Misto Alla Griglia (Marinated Grilled Eggplant, Zucchini, & Red Peppers – Frozen)

This is probably my favorite thing in the freezer section. This veg mix is so tasty and nutritious, it’s perfect for a quick meal if you have no time – I like to put it over a bed of greens with some hummus and chili flakes for a quick but hearty salad!

12. Dark Chocolate Bars

I love the dark chocolate selection at Trader Joe’s because of how easy it is to find vegan options (and because of the LOW PRICES)! I almost always have one or two of The Dark Choclate Lover’s Chocolate Bar on hand.

 

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Here is an example of one meal I make using only the ingredients from this list – a beet, cherry tomato, mixed greens & hummus sandwich on a pita!

All in all, Trader Joe’s is a vegans definition of heaven. The items on this list are merely the staple items that I couldn’t get through the week without – but T.J.’s has an infinite number of vegan goodies.

The freezer section is packed with amazing vegan options, from dairy free ice cream and baking mixes, to ready to heat & eat falafel, zucchini fries, vegan pizzas and crusts, veggie patties, chicken-less morsels… you name it and they make it. Don’t even get me started on the ready-made food and the snack section! While these are all absolutely wonderful, make sure you look out for high fat, sugar, sodium, and calorie counts – remember that just because something is vegan or organic or all natural, that does not necessarily make it HEALTHY! 

 

 

 

 

Guilt-Free Piña Colada Smoothie Bowl

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I think we can all agree that on a hot summer day there is nothing that hits the spot quite like a fresh, icy Piña Colada. The combination of coconut and pineapple are just about the only surefire way to evoke those tropical beach-side vacation feels that we’re all craving during these hot summer months.

Unfortunately, “piña colada” and “high-calorie indulgence” were basically synonymous in my book until recently, when I decided to take matters into my own hands.

The result was the most refreshing, tasty and (here’s the kicker) NUTRITIOUS smoothie bowl I have had in quite some time. Not only does this bowl satisfy those summer coconut-pineapple cravings, it also packs in fruit, veggies, healthy fats, and plant protein!

In the blender:

  • 1/2 Cup Frozen Cauliflower
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Pineapple
  • 1/2 Cup Ice
  • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 2 Tbsp of Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 1 Tbsp Agave
  • 1 Tbsp Flax Meal
  • 1 Tbsp Hemp Seed Hearts

It took these ingredients slightly longer to combine smoothly than some of my other bowls, so I recommend letting it blend on medium or high for 3 minutes or until the consistency is somewhat thicker than that of a smoothie.

On Top:

  • 3 Fresh Strawberries
  • Granola
  • Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • Cinnamon

This was absolutely the perfect breakfast for a hot summer morning, and I will most definitely be recreating it in the very near future. I would love to know if you have any modifications or substitutions that might improve it!

 

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If you’re interested in learning more tips and tricks for low calories smoothie bowls or trying any of my other recipes, check out some of these posts: Low Sugar Smoothie Bowl Hack, Sweet-Green Smoothie Bowl, Strawberry-Dragon Bowl

 

A Kombuchanary Fail

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Let’s be real, kombucha is seriously awesome. Incase you’re unfamiliar with Kombucha it’s a fermented beverage of black tea, a special colony of bacteria and yeast, and some sort of sugar (could be from fruit, honey, cane sugar, or other various sources) that becomes carbonated and contains probiotics, enzymes, b-vitamins, vinegar, and tons of other good stuff. It’s great for your gut flora and it tastes amazing, it gives you energy and an immune boost, it detoxifies and aids digestion, it’s basically a super-beverage.

Every time I have had kombucha, I have absolutely loved it and experienced many benefits from it… except for one thing: it made my skin break out the next day, every single time I drink it without fail. I knew that this side effect was simply the detoxification process beginning and my body getting used to these new bacteria colonies in my gut, but even still my vanity stopped me from consuming any kombucha – I avoided it like the plague for almost three years!

Recently I decided to do a little experiment on myself and see how long this negative side effect would stick around if I drank a little bit of Kombucha every day. I am happy to report that the subtle blemishes subsided in only a couple of days and I am now able to drink Kombucha in peace!

The moral of the story? Trust the process of detoxification! It has to happen somehow, and the sooner you let it happen the sooner you’ll reap the benefits. Happy Kombuching, y’all!

 

 

 

 

If #RAW is Wrong, I Don’t Want to be Right

Today I finally got the chance to go to #Raw, a vegan cafe in Florence, and once again I was blown away by the vegan presence here in Italia. Let me just start out by saying that they served me coconut water straight out of the coconut… I mean, does it get any better than that? Not to mention that it was hands down the best coconut water I have ever tasted.

The inside of #Raw is a minimalistic, trendy atmosphere laden with bamboo furniture and plates as well as hanging plants and cotton pillows. It’s light, fresh, and welcoming and I will be spending a great deal of time there.

Today, I ordered a vegan falafel veggie wrap with avocado and a light peanut sauce. It was completely raw and completely delicious! I usually am not a huge fan of raw bread substitutes, but this wrap was one of the only exceptions I have found thus far. I absolutely loved it!

The menu at #Raw is the stuff of my dreams, there are beautiful salads, smoothie and chia bowls, a vegan burger, a full smoothie and fresh juice menu, vegan deserts and baked goods, and much more… It’s safe to say #Raw is a vegans paradise in basically every way possible, and I can’t wait to try everything on the menu!

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Chickpea-Spinach Burger of my Dreams

It’s official, Florence will never cease to amaze me with its vegan friendliness. Today I had the most interesting, intelligent, and downright awesome meal at a darling restaurant called simBIOsi, and I will 100% be back for more. SimBIOsi offers the most beautifully unique collection of dishes and wines all made from local and organic ingredients, served to you in an equally beautiful and unique atmosphere.

Today, I tried the chickpea and spinach “burger” that comes with vegan pesto and a side of potatoes. The “burger” patty was unlike anything I have ever seen or tasted before, it almost felt like a hybrid of a giant falafel and a crispy veggie burger – whatever it was, it was magnificent. The rosemary potatoes and vegan pesto that came with it were equally as delectable and the three elements complemented each other to no end. Needless to say, I was in heaven and I will be returning as soon as possible.

Just when I thought a menu including a vegan chickpea and spinach burger with rosemary potatoes and vegan pesto couldn’t get any better, I flipped to the wine list. The wine is also all organic and local, we decided to try their “Orange Wine” because we had never heard of Orange Wine before. Our glass of wine followed suit with the rest of our experience in its delightful and unexpected flavor, and it was the perfect refreshment to go along with our decadent meal.

All in all, it’s no question that this was undoubtably one of my favorite meals in Italy thus far – definitely the most unique. I absolutely cannot wait to return to SimBIOsi, there were countless other dishes that I am dying to try (like a handful of “potato” ravioli, vegan pesto, and zucchini dishes). I think this is the beginning of an extremely symBIOtic relationship 🙂

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An Acai Bowl Abroad

If there’s one thing you can probably deduce from the food section of my blog (aside from my flaming veganism) it’s that I am nothing short of obsessed with smoothie bowls. From my point of view, they’re just the most perfect food: delicious, nutritious, versatile, customizable, and the list goes on..

Anyway, you can probably imagine the separation anxiety I have been feeling from my soul-mate-meal since I have come to Italy, leaving behind my blender and my go-to Bay Area smoothie bowl spots. There’s nothing like a big, satisfying bowl of health and deliciousness to start the day off right, and I was about to go crazy if I went another day without one.

Luckily, this morning I was able to find a great smoothie bowl right in the heart of Florence at Shake Cafe! I tried the classic Acai Bowl with almond milk (substituted for cow’s milk) and every topping offered. They also offer a green bowl, a tropical bowl, a chia bowl, and a power bowl (you know I’ll be trying them all, so stay tuned for the verdict)!

The Acai Bowl was absolutely wonderful, it had the perfect amount of flavor, everything about it was fresh, and the topping-to-base ratio was just right. Not to mention how cute and photogenic it was for the 5 seconds before I devoured it. Anyway, Shake Cafe, you’ve done it again and I will most definitely be back for much, much more!

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P.S. Do you know of any great smoothie bowls for me to try in Florence or the San Francisco Bay Area? Comment below or shoot me a message and I would love to check them out!

P.P.S. Want more of my smoothie bowl obsession? Check out my posts: Low Sugar, Low Calorie Smoothie Bowl HackQuick n’ Easy Sweet Green Smoothie BowlStrawberry Dragonfruit Smoothie Bowl

Le Vespe Cafe: Breakfast Ideals with SF Feels

While I can never say enough wonderful stuff about Italy, what I do miss dearly about the USA are giant cups of coffee and filling breakfasts complete with included sides of potatoes. Probably for their own good, Italians don’t value breakfast and overindulge in it the way us Americans do, which means it can be hard to find the same breakfast options that we have grown accustomed to. Add a vegan diet to this predicament, and the challenge is even more daunting!

This morning I set out on a mission to fill the vegan breakfast void that growing dependent on True Food Kitchen brunch at home has left me with. Fortunately, this problem was easily and quickly solved when I stumbled upon Le Vespe Cafe – an extremely vegan friendly cafe that also offers a hip and funky atmosphere, vegan baked goods to-go, free wifi, and cool vintage board games like Monopoly, Battleship, and Pictionary if you’re into that. Not only does Le Cafe Vespe have amazing vegan food options, it also has a fantastic smoothie and juice menu with options like Matcha Boost and Tropical Trip, as well as an expansive breakfast cocktail menu with Bloody Mary’s and fun takes on Irish Coffee.

This morning, I needed to find a spot to settle in and work on my coding class and enjoy a fortifying breakfast – which is exactly what I got! I ordered an American coffee and I swear my heart almost exploded out of my chest when I saw the giant mug of delicious coffee they brought me… and it only went up hill from here.  I ordered “The Dundas” which is a tofu scramble wrap with chipotle seasoned potatoes, avocado, spinach, mushrooms, and more and also comes with a small salad and a side of breakfast potatoes. It was one of the best breakfast’s I have had, and it definitely filled the aforementioned void that True Food Kitchen’s vegan chorizo burrito left me with.

Basically, this place is absolutely perfect and I will most definitely be back to try their Sunday brunch cocktails, smoothies, vegan baked goods, and multitude of other delicious looking vegan lunch and breakfast options. In a place like this, it’s all I can do not to say “I’ll have one of everything”!

6 go-to Vegan Meals to Have Under your Belt in Italy

If you’re a vegan and anything like me, you always have your go-to restaurant dishes in the back of your head to order in a pinch at any establishment. Coming to Italy as a vegan means adapting your go-to meals to fit the average Italian menu. In the USA, there are tons of vegan options constantly surrounding us that we take for granted like Mexican, Asian, and American style options. In Italy, however, the variety is less obvious. On top of that, Italian Cafe’s, Bars, and Osteria’s have such amazing ambiance that it would be a shame to miss out on them for the sake of keeping to a vegan diet. Luckily, if you keep an eye out for these six basic Italian dishes you’ll be able to enjoy a beautiful, stress free, vegan Italian meal at any restaurant in Italy! Here are my six fool-proof vegan Italian meals:

  1. Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce: This comes in many slight variations, but is always a great choice that will fill you up and taste amazing. Some common variations are different types of pasta noodles, or spaghetti with cherry tomatoes and basil. Gnocchi is also a great option since it is made with potatoes! 
  2. Minestrone or vegetable Soup: I have yet to have a bad bowl of soup in Italy. Each one differs slightly but is equally as delightful. If soup alone isn’t filling enough I often opt for a side of potatoes, french fries, a green salad or a piece of bread or two! Or you can always go fill up on some sorbet afterward…  😉
  3. Bruchetta with Tomato and Basil: As is true of the dishes above, bruschetta will differ slightly from place to place (sometimes it can even come as a panini) but there is almost always a cheese-free option. 
  4. Grilled vegetables: The grilled vegetables in Italy are seriously underrated. They often come beautifully seasoned, slightly blackened, and gorgeously plated. You will see mostly tomato, eggplant, and bell peppers with basil and various other vegitables like carrots, squash, zucchini, potato, artichoke or whatever is in season. Although this dish is more filling than it would seem, if you need something more it goes perfectly with some soup, potatoes, pasta or even bread! I find that I often enjoy the free bread so much that I don’t need more than a heaping plate of veggies anyway. 
  5. Mushroom Risotto: Contrary to what many may think, risotto actually isn’t inherently creamy. The way the rice is cooked just creates a creamy texture, which can be deceptive to those trying to avoid dairy. Having said that, I still like to double-check that there is no cheese or cream in my risotto. Mushroom risotto is on almost every dinner menu, and is one of the most rich, filling, and even decadent vegan Italian dishes you will find. 
  6. vegetable Pizza With No Cheese: Veganism by no means stops me from enjoying pizza just as much as the next guy. All you have to do is find the vegetarian pizza that looks the best to you and ask them to leave off the cheese!

While this is my little list of vegan meals to look for, there are tons of other options and cuisines available in Italy! As usual, many things can be easily veganized or a few sides can come together to make an awesome meal. On top of that, as I continue to eat my way through the city, I am constantly finding that Florence is riddled with amazing options just for vegans! In any case, never fear my fellow vegans – there is absolutely no shortage of delicious meals in Italy!

Shake Cafe & Vegan Bowl

I have officially found the most perfect spot in Florence – or at least one of them! Shake Cafe is a healthy cafe with the best vibes and even better food, juice, smoothie bowls, buddha bowls, wraps, coffee, and more. They have tons of vegan options and awesome wifi so I have been absolutely in heaven here. Yesterday a I had a delicious veggie wrap  and today I had a vegan curry bowl which had sweet potatoes, chickpeas, beets, cauliflower, quinoa, spinach, and some more of my favorite things.

I have spent some time the past few days taking online coding classes and hanging out here enjoying the adorable, succulent-rich decor and the funky alt music playing. If I could pick a cafe as my spirit animal, you bet it would be this one!

Dairy Farm Pit-Stop Pizza

There are times when you have the freedom to pick a perfectly vegan friendly restaurant, and then there are the times that you wind up eating at a dairy farm in the middle of Italy.  Luckily, these friendly Italiano’s were able to whip up a cheese-free veggie covered pizza just for me, and it was absolutely sensational.

This should serve as a reminder to us all that it’s quite possible to enjoy the wonderful delicacies that Italy is known for without “cheating” or breaking your vegan morals! Bon appetite !pizza

Easy Vegan Zoodle Dinner

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Incase you were wondering what I whip up for dinner if I can’t decide what to make, here it is: One Pan Balsamic Veggie and Zoodle Dinner. And theres good news: it’s SO easy to make, and it’s SO good for you!

All you need are zoodles (you can buy these at the store but I prefer to make my own using my spirilizer which I got on amazon.com for about $25), veggies of your choice (I usually have frozen brussel sprouts and pearl onions on hand), aged balsamic vinegar, red pasta sauce, and seasonings of your choice (I use Himalayan pink salt, pepper, chili flakes, and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast on just about everything).

Here’s how I prepare it:

First I start by heating a pan on high with a little bit of oil and himalayan pink salt, and then I add in the thickest vegetables (I like to cut my brussels in half and cook them face down on the skillet so that they are somewhat crispy by the end) and then continue to add vegetables in based on how long they will take to cook. Feel free to add more oil (I love Trader Joe’s coconut and olive oil aerosol sprays) and now is the time to add seasonings like himalayan pink salt, pepper, and chili flakes as well. When everything seems to be cooked to your liking, turn heat to low and add a generous drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar. Next just transfer it into a bowl, add pasta sauce and nutritional yeast on top, and viola, you have a healthy, refreshing, vegan dinner ready to eat!

It may look somewhat complicated, but as usual it’s very simple and your dishwasher and digestive system will both be thanking you for that fact.

Keep it simple, keep it veg!!! Peace and love y’all

Juice Cleanses: Worth the Hype?

Everyone has their two cents to put in about juice cleansing. Is it great for you? Is it horrible for you? Does it serve a real purpose? Is it totally redundant since your body is constantly detoxifying itself? Who knows! All I know is, I love it. In moderation of course, as with everything.

The longest juice cleanse I have done has been 4 days of nothing but juice, water and herbal tea, so nothing extreme. More frequently, however, I have done 3 days, 2 days and even just 1 day. I have tried all 3 of the popular Pressed Juicery cleanses and I have also tried BluePrints 3 day cleanse, as well as Georgia based Arden’s Garden’s 2 day cleanse, and I have also put together my own cleanses using the juices available at the supermarket. So I’m no expert, but I do know a thing or two about the popular juicing craze and I’m here to share my ~juicy~ philosophy (or philoSophie, if you will):

I want to start by laying it all out there, my feelings about juicing for me and for everyone else, as well as my reasons for juicing and my personal connection to it.

I’ll say it again: I love juicing. Short term juice fasts are great for me for so many reasons; they help cut cravings, they flush me out, they give my sensitive digestive system some time off, they pump me full of nutrients, they clear my head, they force me to regulate myself and listen to my body extremely vigilantly, they’re basically just a big reset button for me. I have learned that sometimes my body just needs to take a beat, and this is the method that works for me.

That being said, I’m not under the impression that juice cleansing serves some overarching, pivotal, medicinal purpose or that it is something that my body couldn’t go without. I would never pressure anyone to juice with me or claim any kind of superiority over someone who doesn’t like to juice. My recommendation when it comes to juicing is to listen to your own body, and respond to it. Who knows, you might be like me and feel refreshed and rejuvenated. You also might feel irritable and deprived, no shame in that, just remember it’s not a competition so there’s no shame in quitting! Sometimes it feels like my body is begging for a day of juice, so that’s what I give it. Other times, it feels like my body is begging for a beer and a basket of fries, so that’s what I give it! Long story short, if juicing isn’t your jam then forget it, who needs it if it sucks?

To give you a more in depth history of my emotional relationship with juicing, I have to give you some back ground info. This may come as a surprise, or maybe it won’t, but I used to struggle with an eating disorder. All I ever thought about was food; when I would eat next, what I would eat next, how I could avoid eating, or how I would punish myself if I did overeat. Needless to say, I would find myself in some crazy psychological funks surrounding food. I knew full well that I needed to provide my body with nutrients in order to live, but I also had the eating disorder devil on my shoulder telling me to forget about that and to do whatever it took to avoid ingesting anything. At this particular point in time, it was finals week at my University so I needed to study and just take my mind off of food. Having juiced in the past (before my ED had become serious) and knowing that it worked for me, I decided to do a 3 day cleanse during finals week for the soul purpose of taking my mind off of food. And guess what? It worked! It was the first time that I felt truly “reset” by cleansing, and from then on it was a method that I employed very frequently when my ED would become unbearably overwhelming. Right or wrong, juicing was a tool that I used to help pull myself out of my eating disorder. As a result, it’s something that I feel strong gratitude for and that I feel very lucky to have found.

Lately, I have enjoyed cleansing for just one day here and there (I would say once a month or so) to reset my palette and apatite when I notice myself having lots of cravings or when my body just doesn’t feel right. I like to think of it as my way of hitting the reset button for my innards. Since I work right near two Pressed Juicery locations, that’s basically my go-to for juice. When I do my one day resets I choose the most advanced set of juices (pictured), which consists of 5 green juices and 1 almond milk. If I have an active day, I’ll stop by and grab a 7th juice or almond milk to keep myself from feeling deprived. Contrary to what you might think, these juices almost always last me through the day as long as I pace myself – I like to make a juice schedule when I start my first juice – and keep me feeling full and relatively satiated. They’re also tasty, especially the almond milk, and they have the ingredients listed right on the front so you know exactly what you’re getting!

After I finish a cleanse even as short as one day, I experience a multitude of benefits: cravings significantly diminish, bloat decreases if not vanishes, I sleep soundly and I wake up with ease, I can think more clearly, I don’t feel tempted to overeat, my senses are heightened, and those are just the benefits I can think of off the top of my head! Sometimes the benefits might seem to last longer or to be more or less intense, but no matter what I always feel overwhelmingly refreshed and reenergized.

On a more serious note, there are many stigmas attached to juice cleansing that brand it as some torturous, depriving, quick-fix weight loss tactic. I hope this post will serve to show that if done correctly it can be much more than that, and that it could be something to consider trying if your body or mind feel clogged or foggy. For a first time cleanser, the Pressed Juicery and BluePrint both have awesome beginner options (you can even get them delivered right to your door) – and don’t feel like it’s the end of the world if you need to snack on a raw almond or two while you’re cleansing. Ultimately, any type of cleanse you do is for YOU, so don’t let anyone tell you what’s wrong for YOUR body. Feel it out, and have fun with it!

So my conclusion? Juice cleansing is worth the hype from where I stand! We all stand in different spots, however, and I would love to hear new perspectives on this topic. Whether it’s a green juice, a cup of tea, or a glass of wine, cheers to listening to your body and doing what’s right for YOU!

Destination Relaxation: Monterey Bay Area

As you’re probably well aware at this point, I’m currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area and chronicling my life as a vegan (among other things). Admittedly, California and the Bay Area especially is probably one of the best places in the world for vegans. Even still, it’s always a special treat to escape from your every day environment and see what other places have to offer! This passed weekend, my Mom and I decided to take a quick trip to Pacific Grove and Monterey, CA where I stumbled upon some beautiful vegan meals, beverages and gorgeous views.

Before I begin to gush about all that Pacific Grove and Monterey have to offer, I’d like to give you a little bit of background information about weekend getaways with my mom and I (the self proclaimed real life, authentic version of the Gilmore Girls). Since day one, my mom and I have always been chillers. Hanging out and relaxing, living on island time is our absolute jam and we do all that we can to indulge ourselves in some good old fashioned lazy vacation days at every opportunity we can find. For us, the perfect getaway involves lots of long walks, comfort food, wine, and shopping. The Pacific Grove, Monterey, Carmel area has always been exactly our speed for weekend getaways because of it’s quaint, mellow nature and dog friendly communities as well as it’s close proximity to the Bay Area.

Since I was a little girl, my mom and I have stayed in a picturesque, rustic group of cottages in Pacific Grove called Andril Fireplace Cottages. We love it there because of it’s laid back, vintage feel and it’s dog-loving environment. We also love it there because of it’s walkable yet not-too-close distance from the downtown areas of Pacific Grove and Monterey, if I had to guess I would say that it’s about one mile from downtown Pacific Grove and two miles from downtown Monterey (where the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium is located). Our go-to vacation day activity is covering ourselves head-to-toe in athlesiure wear and setting out on foot to find brunch, shopping, and wine tasting if we’re lucky.

As promised, the best brunch was found this passed weekend in Pacific Grove at a restaurant called Toasties Café on Lighthouse Ave. A die-hard lover of potatoes, you can probably imagine my excitement when I spotted “potato dish” on the menu of an otherwise somewhat traditional, non-vegan brunch menu. A restaurant meal of breakfast style potatoes, vegetables, avocado, and various hot sauces? I honestly don’t think I could name four things I would choose over those for any meal. To make the experience even more wonderful, we were able to sit outside on a sunny patio with our beagle, Diego while we enjoyed mimosas, coffee and our breakfast.

I could seriously go on and on… and on and on and on about how delicious this breakfast was. Maybe it was the mimosas, but this simple dish was exactly the brunch that I always dream of, and as someone who used to enjoy breakfast scrambles it’s the perfect vegan substitute for that simple savory breakfast option.

After our wonderful breakfast experience, we continued to walk around downtown Pacific Grove and all the way through to Monterey. On our walk, I found an awesome store called The Mind Shop Metaphysical Books and Gifts where I was lucky enough to find some low priced quartz, rose quartz, amazonite, selenite, and amethyst. Although I don’t know a lot, or anything really, about crystals, I have been wanting to educate myself on their healing powers and how to use them so I was excited that I could pick some up for less than $10.00! I also got a bumper sticker for my computer that says “There’s No Place Like Om”.

Just down the road, and located in the tourist area of Monterey, we came across another highlight of our trip: the Carmel Ridge wine tasting room overlooking the Monterey Bay! We had the most pleasant experience looking out at the water and tasting some awesome wines (somewhat reasonably priced, too!) and we were even able to veganize their meat and cheese platter, turning it into an assortment of delicious crackers, dried fruit, and nuts! Lucky for me, my mom is completely on board with my choice to be vegan and she even tries to eat vegan as much as possible herself, which makes traveling and eating together super convenient for me.

We loved the Carmel Ridge tasting room so much that we ended up going back the next day! After our long walk home that second night, we were more than ready to indulge in some margaritas and Mexican food. It is a common misconception that vegans would have an extremely difficult time finding fare at Mexican resteraunts. Fortunately for me, the reality is quite contrary! Vegetable Fajitas are a staple on pretty much every single Mexican menu, so they tend to be my go-to when ordering Mexican.

This weekend, however, I was able to mix things up a bit on the Mexican food front with El Torito’s delicious spinach enchiladas! Aside from the fact that they sprinkled some cheese onto my dish (which was very minimal and easy to remove), I was obsessed with everything about this dish. It was as amazing to look at as it was to taste. The margaritas and guacamole were splendid as well, we had the most wonderful time watching the Warrior’s game and enjoying our dinner. All and all, both my mom and I were left with a good taste in our mouth – literally and figuratively!

Along with these four places that we found and loved were countless other adorable spots in Pacific Grove and Monterey. There are tons of vegan eats that I didn’t have time to try, and dozens of charming shops and experiences that we made a note to check out on our next trip. At the end of the day, the Monterey Bay Area is an amazingly beautiful, unique and relaxing part of California and we will definitely continue to cherish our stays there! Walking, eating, drinking, and shopping our way through a new place is by far our favorite way to get to know a new location and after this weekend I have a few other recommendations up my sleeve. Feel more than free to reach out to me if you’re curious. For now, keep on keeping it simple and keeping it whole 🙂

Fluffy Vegan Blueberry Cinnamon Muffins

I’m usually not the type who reaches for a muffin first thing in the morning, but every once and awhile I just crave something sweet and decadent in the morning. As a vegan it can be hard to satisfy certain cravings, especially when it comes to baked goods since options are somewhat limited, that’s why I decided to take matters into my own hands!

Even beyond the fact that there are few vegan baked goods available to buy (although the options are improving exponentially), I prefer my own homemade baked goods because I like to know exactly what I am putting into my body. I tend to be weary of store bought baked goods because it’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting, especially when it comes to preservatives and the quality of the ingredients.

This recipe is extra near and dear to my heart because it will forever go down in history as my very first original vegan breakfast baked goods recipe. As such, it’s extra simple with no complicated directions or uncommon ingredients which makes it super easy to replicate! I always love to whip up a batch of some yummy vegan food to share because it gives me the opportunity to show the people in my life that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor or indulgence in order to enjoy a vegan lifestyle!

Without further adieu, here’s the recipe:

You’ll Need:

For the Muffins:

  • 2 Cups of Brown Rice Flour
  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cup Coconut Sugar
  • 3 tbsp. Baking Soda
  • 3 tbsp. melted Coconut Oil
  • 3 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 1/5 Cup Blueberries

For the Topping:

  • 1/4 cup Chopped Raw Almonds
  • 1/4 cup Oats
  • 2 tbsp. Coconut Sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Agave Syrup (maple syrup will do as well)

To Prepare:

This is the easy part! Preheat oven to 225 degrees. In a big mixing bowl combine all of the muffin ingredients except for the blueberries together until the batter is smooth and even. In a separate bowl, combine all topping ingredients to make a granola-ish mixture. In a greased muffin tin, fill each muffin hole about 1/3 of the way, and add 2-3 blueberries to each one. Bake in for 20 minutes. At this point, sprinkle the topping mixture over top of each muffin, and bake another 5-10 minutes or until the tops are just solid. Let cool, and watch them disappear! 🙂

The cool thing about this recipe is that it’s extremely versatile so it gives you the freedom do customize it however you want. For example, you may want to exclude the coconut flakes and add in chocolate chips or substitute the blueberries for goji berries! The options are endless. The other awesome part about this recipe is that the batter is so light and fluffy that it works as a vegan baked doughnut recipe as well! To make vegan doughnuts, just grease a doughnut tin and fill up each doughnut about 1/3 of the way, bake for 15-20 minutes and voila! Vegan Doughnuts! I actually made a few flower shape mini muffins as you can see in the photos below, and they turned out great as well.

Since this recipe is so new, I would absolutely love to hear any feedback or constructive criticism that you might have for it! I hope you enjoy these as much as my friends, family and coworkers that I served them to did! Keep it simple, keep it vegan and keep it whole!

Vegan Rosemary Flatbread Crust

When I think of some of life’s greatest pleasures, it’s hard not to think of pizza. Unfortunately, it can be tough to find a truly satisfying and delicious vegan pizza, which is why today I decided to take matters into my own hands! The final product was this addicting Rosemary and Brown Rice Flour Flatbread Crust topped with a modified version of my garbanzo avocado mash (see my recent post Worlds Best Garbanzo Avocado Mash), heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced radishes, and black sesame seeds.

I want to share this vegan pizza crust recipe with y’all because I’m pretty sure it’s the best thing to ever grace my oven, and it will definitely be a staple for me from now on. It has the perfect combination of rich flavors (rosemary is my favorite in this) and crunchy yet doughy texture. It’s also easy and quick to make, and you have the freedom to customize the toppings to your hearts desire! I tried to keep it to as few ingredients as possible, but feel free to add or take out any spices based on your tastes and what you have in your pantry.

You’ll Need:

  • 1 tsp active yeast
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/3 tsp dried rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Cooking Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine 1 tsp active yeast with 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tbsp of all purpose flour, let sit for 5 minutes to let yeast activate
  2. Add in 1/2 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 cup brown rice flour as well as all of the seasonings and 1 tsp olive oil and mix and kneed until dough is soft and slightly sticky
  3. Roll dough into a ball and let sit for 15 minutes, preheat oven to 435 degrees
  4. Add about 1/2 tsp olive oil to the outside of the ball of dough, and use your hands and a bit of flour to spread the dough thin on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper – remember that the dough will rise slightly in the oven so spread it thin, leaving it just slightly thicker around the edges (think 13-14 inches)
  5. At this point you can add sauce and toppings to your pizza, or you can bake it with no toppings and wait until after the crust is cooked to add toppings (depending on if you want the toppings to be hot or cold)
  6. Bake for 17 minutes or until dough becomes golden brown on the edges
  7. Remove from oven, add toppings, and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did. Pizza is one of my favorite foods, and it’s even better knowing that each ingredient has nutritional value that will benefit my body. I might consider adding hemp hearts or changing up the spices in the future based on what toppings I intend to use, but I can’t imagine an outcome much better than this rosemary and brown rice flour combo!

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As I said above, I used my yummy Worlds Best Garbanzo Avocado Mash as topping tonight. I modified the mash by adding some baby arugula, another half of an avocado, chili pepper, and pink Himalayan salt.

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Stay healthy and stay compassionate y’all! B-)