Peanut Butter + Jelly Smoothie

My constant desire to turn beloved desserts into smoothies is now taking on classic sandwich pairings, and I couldn't be more pleased. Peanut butter and jelly has been my favorite sandwich since well forever, so I'm kind of shocked I didn't fall into this remix a little earlier. And although I could eat this childhood standard on the regular, something tells me my vegetable intake would drastically suffer. In an effort to squeeze in as many greens as possible, I'm left with not much room for daily sandwich eating. Enter the breakfast smoothie. I can turn almost any craving of mine into a frozen drink, within reason. The endless smoothie combinations makes eating drinking the rainbow pretty enjoyable. Treating myself to a healthy milkshake everyday is another great perk. 

For this spin on your average pb + j, I used frozen grapes as my jelly substitute. This goes against basically everything I stand for when making the real thing, because if you're not using strawberry jam in the middle of your bread, you're doing it wrong. You'd have to be near insane to open up a jar of grape jelly and think I won't be judging you (not really, but sort of). Throwing caution to the wind, I popped some red grapes into the freezer, and never looked back. I loved the risky results so much, that I have yet to even try it with some frozen strawberries. This sweet and nutty duo combines everything great about peanut butter and jelly with everything just as great about peanut butter and banana. The bee pollen took the place of the honey I typically drizzle in with the pb + b combo. And there you have it - a sippable sandwich. 

Peanut Butter + Jelly Smoothie
I've jumped ship on store-bought almond milk, so if I don't have any homemade on 
hand I'll reach for coconut water. Definitely go with almond milk though if you're 
looking for something more creamy and decadent

1 cup coconut water (or almond milk)
1 banana, frozen
1 cup red grapes, frozen
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon bee pollen

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth. Sprinkle with bee pollen. Enjoy!


Banana Chip Chia Pancakes

**Another post I did for Sakara Life...enjoy!** 

Watching others indulge in garbage over the holidays is motivation for me to up my game in the kitchen. I'm looking for meals that taste like cookies, pies, and pancakes, but feel like salad. Is that possible? These buttermilk knockoffs definitely hit the spot. They're packed with nutritious ingredients, are super satisfying, and are perfectly reasonable lunch and dinner options. Is anything more mouth-watering than a fluffy stack of pancakes drizzled with maple syrup? Probably, but at the moment, no. Obviously my plating skills are above average when I want the pecan-pie-for-breakfast-folks to be a little jealous of what's in front of me. Here's to 2015!

Banana Chip Chia Pancakes

1/4 cup oats, ground
2 tablespoons almond meal (or protein powder)
pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon chia seeds + 3 tablespoons water (chia egg)
1 large banana, mashed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coconut water (or almond milk)
1 tablespoon cacao nibs

Stir together the chia seeds and water, and set aside to thicken. This is your egg replacement. Meanwhile, mix the ground oats, almond meal, and salt in a small bowl. Add the mashed banana, vanilla, and coconut water, and give it a stir. When the chia mixture is thick enough (5 minutes), add it to the pancake batter, along with the cacao nibs. Stir until combined.

Heat a frying pan over medium with a little coconut oil. Use a 1/4 measuring cup to make 4 small pancakes. Cook on medium/medium low for about 5-10 minutes per side. They take longer to cook than your standard pancake. When golden on either side, remove from heat, and start stacking. Layer with peanut butter, more banana slices, and maple syrup.


Curried Kale + Brown Rice Bowl

**Another post I did for Sakara Life...enjoy!**

I'm always trying to recreate favorite dishes of mine - to make them more healthy, to save some money, or both. This particular bowl was inspired by one of my favorite Cambridge hotspots, Life Alive. It's one of the few restaurants I go to that I actually feel really good about eating anything on the menu. They're 100% vegetarian, have tons of vegan, gluten-free, macrobiotic, and raw options, and some really delicious fresh juices and smoothies. And although I make it a point to swing by whenever I'm in the area, I pretty much always order the same thing. I'm a creature of habit, what can I say? This curried kale and brown rice bowl is my take on their Swami Bowl. Packed with greens, seasoned with a sweet and spicy miso curry sauce, and topped with nutritional yeast, raisins, and almonds, this nutrient dense bowl screams flavor. And now that I've mastered it, I feel even better knowing exactly what I'm eating, and in what quantities. It also allows me to sneak in some more of the green stuff (insider info: I always order half the rice and double the kale - just as good. 

Curried Kale + Brown Rice Bowl 

1 serving cooked brown rice
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1-2 cups broccoli florets 
1/2 an onion, sliced
2-3 stalks kale, leaves removed
2 tablespoons tamari almonds, chopped
2 tablespoons raisins

Curry Miso Sauce

1/2 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tablespoon bragg's
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

Whisk all of the curry miso sauce ingredients together, and set aside.

Heat a saute pan over medium heat. Add the carrots, broccoli, onion, and kale, season with salt, add about 1/4-1/2 cup water, and cover for a few minutes to steam the vegetables. When the onions are soft, and the broccoli is still bright green, uncover, and turn the heat to low. Add the brown rice and the curry miso sauce. Mix everything together on low heat until the flavors are evenly distributed. Top with the raisins and almonds, and an extra sprinkle of nutritional yeast. Serve with some sliced avocado for even more skin-loving superfoods.


Baked Sweet Potato with Coconut Oil + Avocado Mash

"If you don't take care of your body, then where are you going to live?"

**Another post I did for Sakara Life...enjoy!**

Like many of you, I'm sure, the more I learn about food, the more my diet evolves. I'm at a place now, where if it doesn't make me feel good and look good, I really don't want anything to do with it. As someone who has dealt with skin issues for the entirety of their existence, learning about all of the amazing beauty benefits that go hand-in-hand with a whole foods diet has been incredible, and really encouraging in those "I might just eat an entire pizza" moments. For the reasons I wouldn't be caught dead smoking a cigarette, are the same ones keeping me from a "happy meal." Because I like myself way too much to deal with premature aging, even if it requires a lot more time in the kitchen. Lucky for me, time in the kitchen is my favorite time of all, but for those of you who feel the exact opposite, this one's for you. If you're running on empty, and you don't know a carrot from a turnip, eating a healthy meal can take as much or as little effort as you like. This recipe (if you can call it that) is for those days when you can't be bothered to do anything more than to turn the oven on, because Mondays are hard for me too.

If you can wait the hour it takes to bake a potato, and not devour the leftover cake on your counter, then cheers to you, you're halfway there. Grab an avocado (because seriously, what doesn't taste better with avocado), and some coconut oil, and you've got yourself a facial in the form of dinner. And because we're really into ourselves, of course we went with a sweet potato. The candy-like cousin to your standard Idaho is packed with vitamin A and betacarotene, the same ingredients your probably paying an arm and a leg for in your fancy night creams. The coconut oil you've replaced the butter with is a solid pat on the back, for these 75 reasons and more. Finished with a healthy spread of mashed avocado, and you're wondering who invented sour cream anyways.     

Baked Sweet Potato with Coconut Oil + Avocado Mash
I found these incredible purple sweet potatoes at my local health food store. 
They just scream superfood to me. 

1 sweet potato
1 tablespoon coconut oil (organic, unrefined)
1/2 ripe avocado
juice of 1/2 a lime
pink himalayan salt (or sea salt)

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Make a few slits in your potato to let steam escape, and toss it in - I like to cook mine on a baking sheet, to catch any drips. Depending on the size of your potato, it should take about an hour to be cooked through. 

Once cooked, slice your potato open, sprinkle with salt and stir in the tablespoon of coconut oil. On a separate plate, mash up the avocado half with some more salt and the lime juice. Spread the avocado mash onto the potato, and dig in. 


Raw Brownie Bites

**Here's another post I did for Sakara Life a couple summers ago. More holiday treat inspiration! Perfect for cocktail parties, hostess gifts, long car rides, or late-night snacking!**

If you're like me, then you're probably aboard the breakfast-for-dinner-train, solely for an excuse to eat another sweet meal. As a kid, my eating habits were far from healthy, and even though I've cleaned myself up quite a bit, my sweet tooth remains intact. If you're trying to lead more of a whole foods diet, but still can't end your day without dessert, I give you dates. I honestly don't know why this amazingly rich, sweet treat has not gone mainstream. Medjool dates are Mother Nature's caramel, and I really don't think it's my biased earthy-crunchy attitude towards food in general. This candy-like fruit grows on the date palm in large hanging clusters near the top of the tree, very similar to the coconut variety. Although most of the calories in dates come from sugar, eating just one or two can really satisfy a craving for something sweet. Take out the pits and fill them with a scoop of almond or coconut butter, and suddenly I think we should be friends. They're a great source of fiber, copper, and manganese, and have more potassium than bananas. They're also the main ingredient in most raw food desserts and bars, making this ancient fruit a perfect substitute for your daily cookie break or pre-workout energy boost.

This past summer (two summers ago) I put together a weekend with some of my favorite gal pals, filled with great music and even better snacks. We threw on our crop tops and high-waisted shorts, adorned ourselves with flower crowns, and piled into a Volkswagen, hoping to bring a bit of the 1969 Woodstock to the 2013 Nines Festival. Now typically I tend not to make big batches of desserts, no matter how raw and healthy they are, because I have no self control and will eat 45 brownie bites as quickly as I roll them out. My digestive system wishes I wouldn't. But when I have a group of fellow food lovers to share with, I'll gladly pull out all the stops. Our festival menu included these raw brownies, almond butter and coconut cups, homegrown peach salsa, a fancy quince jam and cheese board, all sorts of chips and hummus, and the most delicious huckleberry vodka and pear cocktail. We definitely got after it. Vodka milkshakes happened, too. I can't be sure what happened after that. All I know is, I woke up around 3 a.m., turned into The Hulk, and shoveled a handful of these brownies into my mouth. Surprisingly, the next morning wasn't too painful. Must be all those superfoods running through my system. 

Raw Brownie Bites
I realize maple syrup is not raw, but like, cut me some slack

12 medjool dates
1 cup raw pecans
3 tablespoons cacao powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Throw the pecans into a food processor and blend until crumbly. Add the dates and blend again. Mix in the cacao and maple syrup and process one last time until the dough comes together. 

Form into balls. Leave plain or roll in shredded coconut, cacao nibs, finely chopped walnuts, or extra cacao powder. Refrigerate or freeze to keep fresh (they thaw really quickly, and keep for months in the freezer!). 

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