Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sweet Salty Chocolate Chip Cookies - GF & Vegan

I've been experimenting with gluten free cooking and baking in an effort to bring you more healthy, gluten free recipes.

It has been a bit of a challenge.

Seems that more than 7 days without gluten makes me very angry/grumpy/irritable.

This is apparently a withdrawal system.



It's pretty much impossible to be grumpy when you have fresh baked cookies.

These delicious bites of sweet, salty love contain no refined sugar and are made with walnuts and flaxseeds - full of antioxidants and brain healthy fats.

So if you need a little pick me up and still want to stick to your healthy eating #goals bake up these crazy yummy, gluten free cookies...and smile.

makes about 16 cookies

1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1/4 cup Earth Balance (vegan butter)
1/4 cup almond butter
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp brown rice syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup gluten free oats
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
1 Tbsp coarse sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the ground flaxseed with 3 Tbsp of warm water in a small bowl and set aside.

Put the sea salt in a shallow bowl and set aside.

Place the walnuts in a blender or food processor and pulse until they become almost a flour.

Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the almond butter and Earth Balance until well combined. Add the brown rice syrup, coconut sugar, vanilla and mix for 1 minute.

Mix in the flax mixture, baking powder and cinnamon, followed by the oats, brown rice flour and blended walnuts. The dough will be sticky. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spoon.

Form the dough into 1.5 inch balls and place them on the lined baking sheet. Press each ball down lightly with a spoon (wet the spoon with cold water to keep it from sticking to the dough).  The chocolate chips may fall away from the dough - you can push them back in with your fingers.

Sprinkle a pinch of the sea salt on top of each unbaked cookie.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes then let cool for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet - if you can wait that long.

Sending you sunshine, happiness and sweet salty love,


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Monday, January 18, 2016

Clean Protein Lasagna

Lasagna is not necessarily considered a vegan, gluten free food...

But it's delicious.

And in the heart of January when its chilly and you want something hearty and warm it definitely calls your name.

Traditional lasagna is usually made with ground beef which yes is a protein, however not the clean protein that keeps your heart and your digestive system healthy. A study from Harvard Medicine shows replacing red meat with ANY other protein reduces your risk of both heart disease and cancer. Replacing it with nuts and beans had the greatest reduction rates.

So today's Meatless Monday recipe gives you all the flavour and feeling of a hearty lasagna without the red meat, dairy or gluten. Brown rice noodles replace traditional noodles and I feel they cook beautifully. I used the "no cook" ones because I was short on time, feel free to boil them first if you prefer. The meat is replaced with lentils and cannellini beans for clean iron, protein and fibre (more than you will ever get from ground beef) and the mozzarella is replaced with Daiya cheese which is a vegan cheese and honestly pretty good.


"What you do today can improve all your tomorrows"
~Ralph Marston

Clean Protein Lasagna

1/2 cup of lentils, rinsed and drained
1/2 white onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp oregano
Fresh ground pepper and sea salt
2 28 oz cans of organic crushed tomatoes
15 fresh basil leaves, torn
1 can organic cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 crimini mushrooms, sliced and halved
1/2 bell pepper, chopped (colour of your choice)
1 12oz package of oven ready brown rice lasagna noodles 
3 cups loosely packed spinach
2 1/2 cups shredded Daiya mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350. 

Place the lentils in a small pot and cover them with a couple inches of water. Cook them on low heat for about 30 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. This will give you strong (not mushy) lentils.

In a large pot sauté the onion and garlic with the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper and basil and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add in the bell pepper, mushrooms, cannellini beans, mushrooms and cooked lentils and simmer for another 10 - 15 minutes. 

Line the bottom of your lasagna pan (I use an 11" x 15" glass one which gave me three layers of noodles) with noodles so that they cover the bottom of the pan put do not overlap. 

Cover the noodles with the tomato veggie sauce. If you are using the no cook noodles make sure you evenly cover all the noodles. Layer spinach leaves over top of the sauce. Sprinkle a little Daiya cheese on top of the spinach and then repeat this step. on the final layer of noodles only cover with sauce and sprinkled cheese. 

Bake the lasagna in the oven for 30 minutes covered with tin foil and then 30 minutes uncovered until it is bubbling and the top is a bit crispy. 

Sending you sunshine, happiness and lasagna love,


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Sweet Potato Fries Before Guys

So I'm a salt girl.

And I love french fries.

However as we all know they aren't the healthiest food on earth.

Enter the sweet potato fry - I'm not talking about the ones that are deep fried at restaurants - although those do have more vitamins than Mr. Regular Potato Fry - I'm talking about the homemade, baked in the oven, salty, crispy, beautiful, (healthy) sweet potato fry.

Sweet potatoes are full of potassium, fibre and loaded with vitamin A that is amazing for your skin and your immune system.

I add turmeric to mine because it is one of the healthiest spices there is - super anti-inflammatory (topic for another blog post) - but trust me, its so good for you!

So if you are craving fries and want to be healthy, make these tonight.


Ps. If you can't live without the sweatshirt get it at http://www.brunettethelabel.com

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garlic powder
fresh ground pepper and sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400 and line a rimed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut the potatoes into 1/4" slices and then cut those slices into strips to make "fries". In a large mixing bowl toss the fries with olive oil, spices and lots of salt and pepper until they are well coated.

Arrange the fries in a single layer and without overcrowding on the lined baking sheet and cook in the oven for 15 minutes. Flip them with a spatula and cook for about another 15 minutes. You will be able to tell when they are done because they will be a bit puffed up and golden brown.

Sending you sunshine, happiness and sweet potato fries love,

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

7 Healthy Resolutions You Will Actually Keep

Yes, its January 13 and yes that would make me about 13 days late on this "resolutions" post - but notice its not called 'New Year's' Resolutions - its just called Resolutions - makes me feel better about being so late ;-) and it also means that you can start them anytime - not just January first. There, now we all feel better!

In the past I've set big, giant, life changing New Year's resolutions...and they don't always work out. Has the same thing happened to you? Why? Because the way to really make a change for a healthier, better you is to do it in small, obtainable steps that will eventually become a habit - FYI creating a new habit takes about 6 months so be patient peeps!

Here are 7 (seems like a lot but it isn't - don't worry) little resolutions that will make you healthier overall - weight loss, better sleep, more energy...yep its all covered! I've personally written these down and posted them up to look at everyday as a reminder.

1. Chew your food.
This honestly sounds so simple but if you really think about it how much thought do you put into chewing? Usually we are so busy we just wolf down whatever we are eating. Really chewing your food breaks it down for better digestion and will make you realize when you are actually full. Try it. Life changing.

2. Try a new vegetable, fruit, nut or seed once a month.
Who knows, you may fall in love...

3. Drink one more glass of water a day than you already do.
Your brain is 85% water. Enough said.

4. Make physical activity more accessible.
Put a jump rope beside your bed and jump rope for 5 minutes in the morning, go for a walk outside (even just around the block) because everything counts. Mark your workout (whatever that is - yoga class, 15 minutes of cardio, etc) in your calendar as an appointment with a reminder like you would an important meeting and keep it- its the most important meeting you have.

5. Write down 3 things you are thankful for each week.
Put a note in your phone or write in a notebook. Gratitude keeps you healthy just like kale does.

6. Only eat ingredients you can pronounce.
If you don't recognize an ingredient, neither does your body.
Quinoa does count.

7. Take a warm bath with epsom salts once a week.
The epsom salts detox your skin and give you magnesium which relaxes your muscles and helps you sleep. Try and relax - stress = inflammation.

Thats it.
Seems a lot easier than 5am boot camp 5 days a week and no carbs!

Sending you sunshine, happiness and resolution love,

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Cleansing Mushroom Soup

I'm totally on a soup kick.

And for good reasons:
  1. Its January and its cold - at least it is where I live
  2. Soup keeps you full without eating a lot
  3. Soup is easy to make and you can throw anything you have in the fridge in it
  4. Make a big batch...freeze...eat anytime
So without further suspense - today's Meatless Monday recipe is a Cleansing Mushroom Soup. It looks and tastes like a savoury "Cream of Mushroom Soup" but in usual Picky Diet fashion it has no cream or dairy to clog up your beautiful arteries.

January is a popular month for buzz words like 'detox' and 'cleanse' - and why not? The New Year is a great time for a reset. White vegetables are known for their cleansing properties so I've filled this soup up with a nice variety of white veg. Mushrooms are one of the top foods for cancer prevention - they work closely with your immune system to identify "bad" cells and assist in removing them from your body - how amazing is that!

Warm up with this creamy, cleansing soup tonight...enjoy.

"When the diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. 
When the diet is correct, medicine is of no need."
 ~ Ayurvedic proverb

Cleansing Mushroom Soup


1 large baking potato, peeled and cubed
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 white onion, chopped
3 cups white mushrooms, sliced
2 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp Earth Balance
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
fresh ground pepper and sea salt
1/2 cup - 1 cup water


In a large soup pot boil the potato and garlic clove until the potatoes are very soft. Drain the water and keep the cooked potato and garlic clove in the soup pot. Set aside.

Cook the mushrooms and onion in the earth balance in a large sauté pan on medium heat with salt and pepper until the onions and mushrooms are soft.

Add 2/3 of the cooked mushrooms and onions to the pot with the potato and pour in the almond milk. Using an immersion blender, mix the potatoes, mushrooms and onions with the almond milk until everything is smooth and creamy.

Once you are done blending, add the thyme, garlic powder. salt and pepper and remaining mushrooms and onions to the pot and cook on medium low for about 15 - 20 minutes. You may want to stir 1/2 a cup of water if the soup is too thick.

Sending you sunshine, happiness and mushroom soup love,

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Monday, January 4, 2016

Black Bean Taco Salad

Happy 2016!

I love the feeling of January - a fresh, clean start.

Many people are full of "New Years Resolutions" - big plans to change their life, to start a diet, to start an exercise plan...

I've found that instead of making plans for a "big" change, starting small healthy habits that feed your "overall" plan work out really well and are easier to sustain.

Be kind to yourself and take care of your body.

Drinking one more glass of water a day, walking an extra 100 steps and eating a meatless meal once or twice a week are all manageable changes that can lead to new habits which will change your overall lifestyle easily without having to turn your life upside down.

Give it a try... start by making this delicious Black Bean Taco Salad - full of healthy fibre to keep you full, iron and protein to fuel your muscles and blood flow and vitamin C to keep your immune system healthy. To save time, simply slice up 1 avocado instead of making the guacamole.

"Don't count the days. Make the days count"

Black Bean Taco Salad

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, sliced in ribbons
1 yellow pepper, sliced in ribbons
1/2 medium white onion, sliced in ribbons
1 cup wild rice
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp garlic powder
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 large head of romaine lettuce, chopped
20 corn tortilla chips (preferably baked)
guacamole (get the delicious recipe here) or 1 avocado sliced
salsa (optional)

Cook the rice according to package directions. While the rice is cooking, cook the onion and peppers in a large sauté pan with the olive oil on medium heat and continue to cook until peppers are soft and onions are a lightly browned.

Add in the cooked rice and beans to the peppers and onions and season with chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and salt and pepper and stir to mix well. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve the rice, bean and veggie mixture on a bed of romaine lettuce and tortilla chips and top with guacamole or sliced avocado and salsa.


Sending you sunshine, happiness and black bean taco salad love,

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