October 2017 Favorites

Hello, friends!! Happy November!

Good news…I’m typing most of this from our computer (cue happy dancing)! Bad news….I can’t upload photos to the computer, so we’re dealing with low quality phone pics again, but hey, I’ll take what I can get!


Before I dive into the highlights and favorites from October, I wanted to share a quick story. About a month ago, I received an email from WordPress telling me that the card they have on file expired and that I needed to update it if I wanted to renew my site. At that point, I was on the fence about where I was headed – I was in the middle of debating whether or not to continue writing in this space. You see, I was feeling a bit lost, unworthy, and unmotivated (in regards to this blog). Definitely not a good place to be. One night, before bed, I asked for a sign to tell me what I should do. The next morning I woke up to two new subscribers to this little blog of mine and took that as my sign to continue here for the time being. SO, thank you, to those two new subscribers. I was surprised to see that, considering I’ve only published two posts over the course of six months. I’ve renewed my site for the next year and I guess we’ll see what happens. My hope is that I’ll feel more motivated to actually share some of the recipes I’ve created over these last several months! I really do love to write and have done a lot of it outside of this space, but I think it just took some time and gentle reminders from friends as to why I even started this blog. Thank you to those who continue to read my rambles and support me here, it really does mean a lot. ❤

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OCTOBER FAVORITES:


ZUCCA SPICE >> Osmia Organics | Artisanal Soap >> My friend, Jen, sent me a beautiful ‘Happy Autumn’ box and in it was this delicious bar of soap. I almost didn’t want to use it because it was so perfectly and wonderfully packaged AND I wanted to be able to smell it forever! But I’m using it and loving it…A LOT. It’s incredibly creamy with a gentle lather and doesn’t leave a perfume-y, intoxicating scent on your skin. The aroma is warm and cozy in the shower (literally screams Autumn…kinda like pumpkin spice latte meets the woods) and you’re left with soft, happy skin. It looks like they’re all sold out of Zucca Spice, but I’ve got my eye on a few other scents!

October 2017 Favorites // Be Sol-Ful Living
CHEWY CHOCOLATE BROWNIE COOKIES >> Feasting on Fruit >> Willow had been asking to make these ever since I showed her Natalie’s video…and since it involved a lot of chocolate, she was super happy to help make them! We skipped the walnuts (since we’re avoiding them for Willow) and ours didn’t turn out nearly as dark as Natalie’s, BUT they tasted delicious! Definitely brownie-like, chewy, fudgy, and not overly sweet.


CINNAMON STREUSEL ZUCCHINI BREAD >> Feasting on Fruit >> We made this not once, not twice, BUT THREE TIMES!!! It’s seriously that good. So good that we shared some of the second loaf with friends (non vegan) and they all asked for the recipe. I think this is my favorite recipe of Natalie’s…and I’ve made quite a few of her creations, so that’s saying a lot! If you were to offer me something chocolatey or a slice of this zucchini bread, I would take the bread every time. I loved lightly reheating a slice in the oven to go with my tea and I’m not ashamed to admit that I ate some for breakfast one morning with Willow.

October 2017 Favorites // Be Sol-Ful Living

October 2017 Favorites // Be Sol-Ful Living

TRADER JOE’S VEGAN KALE CASHEW & BASIL PESTO >> Josh brought this home from work a couple of weeks ago and it has become our new favorite! Yes, I know we could make our own, but when a store carries a legit pre-packaged item (no citric acid, sugar, gums, etc.), I like to support that. It tastes super fresh and packs a lot of flavor. We even got Willow to eat some, which is huge. Things we’ve tried it with: Simple Mills crackers, fresh veggies, Trader Joe’s lentil noodles, potatoes, and homemade pizza.

October 2017 Favorites // Be Sol-Ful Living

TESSEMAE’S ORGANIC KETCHUP >> I feel so silly for putting store bought ketchup on my favorites list, BUT it’s seriously good. I’m all about making things from scratch, but I’m always on the hunt for healthy, convenient options when you’re in a pinch. Most store bought ketchups contain sugar, citric acid, and other random additives that we avoid….So I was excited to find an alternative that was free from all of that! It’s sweetened with dates, but doesn’t taste like dates – I promise. I don’t use ketchup very often, but Josh and I were talking about it randomly one day and suddenly craved it! I’ve been loving it with roasted potato wedges. I found it in the refrigerated section at Natural Grocers.

October 2017 Favorites

Easy DIY Halloween Luminaries >> This was such a FUN craft to do with Willow!!! She even asked to make a couple for her favorite Natural Grocers and Whole Foods employees ❤ Be prepared though to get sticky and messy! The YouTube video is insanely cute and worth the watch. We bought some of those LED tea lights from the dollar store, repurposed some tomato sauce and salsa jars, and found tissue paper on sale…so this was a really inexpensive project!

They look more yellow (as opposed to orange) in the photo below, but I think it’s because of the yellow tea light inside the jar.


INSIGHT TIMER >> I’ve been working a lot more with focusing on my personal path, digging deep, and letting go of the things hindering my growth. One of the things that has helped tremendously is the free app, Insight Timer. There are countless guided meditations, talks, and music for various areas (sleep, inspiration, calming, refocus, etc.). I try to take time to listen to music or a guided mediation twice a day and I’ve noticed tremendous change in my overall attitude and well-being. The best part is that even Willow asks to listen to some of the sessions (she loves the singing bowls most). There was a period of time last month where I was struggling with insomnia and the sleep meditations really helped to calm my mind and get me ready to sleep. I highly recommend it!

OUR ANNUAL ADVENTURE TO DEVILS LAKE! This is about an hour away from us and we love to go before they close access for the winter. We weren’t prepared for as much snow and hiked to the lake in regular hiking shoes (Willow wore rain boots) and forgot our gloves at home! But there is nothing better than being surrounded by tall trees, fresh snow, and stillness. The only noise is from the gentle rippling stream and an occasional bird. Absolute peace. Here are some of my favorite photos from the day:



VEGAN CREAM CHEESE ALFREDO >> The Vegan 8 >> Brandi does it again! Another delicious (almost drinkable) sauce that I want to put on everything. She’s kind of the queen of heavenly sauces – I had already made her garlic afredo sauce from a few years ago and loved it, so I already knew that I was going to really enjoy this one! Brandi is so good about seasonings and flavor and she’s taught me to have a heavier hand when it comes to using spices/herbs…a tablespoon of dried Italian herbs in this recipe was so perfect. Incredibly creamy, rich, and went so well with everything I paired it with! The first night we poured some over cauliflower and purple sweet potato. The next night I dipped roasted potato wedges in it. SO GOOD!

October 2017 Favorites
October 2017 Favorites

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH ICE CREAM >> Feasting on Fruit >> Natalie has introduced me to a new favorite way to use roasted butternut squash! My brain always goes to soup – in fact, we’ve made butternut squash soup at least four times this season already. So when I saw this new recipe waiting for me in my inbox from Natalie, I was intrigued. Roasted butternut is the way to go – roasting brings out the flavor and natural sweetness of this divine squash. It’s what we do for soup, so it made perfect sense to me to roast it up for this delicious ice cream! And oh, goodness. It WAS delicious! So cinnamon-y, creamy, sweet, and she was right when she said, “cold + cozy.” We topped ours with extra (lots of extra) cinnamon and chopped pecans. I can’t wait to make it again!

October 2017 Favorites

HOLIDAY CHEERS >> HEALTH-ADE KOMBUCHA >> I found it! I finally found it!!! And I know it’s not the holiday season just yet, but I couldn’t resist. Thank you, Whole Foods, for carrying this!! I tried finding it last year, but didn’t have any luck. This is definitely one of my top 3 brands because the sugar content is super low….this entire bottle has 4g. I love the cozy, but not overpowering flavor (ginger + cacao + allspice) and slight sweetness. I think I need to stock up on more next shopping trip!

October 2017 Favorites
 
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BOOKS:

Here is what I read and loved from mid-September through October! (Not pictured: Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown – I loaned my copy to my Mom). I HIGHLY recommend reading it.

October 2017 Favorites
I read Light is the New Black for the third time and I swear it helps to refocus and recenter me every time. I know I’ll read it again and again.

I also wrapped up A Court of Thorns and Roses series and just, wow. I was SO sad to finish it and even struggled to get into another book afterwards because Maas did such an amazing job sucking me into the world and its characters.


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Have you watched anything good lately??? It’s been a few months since I’ve watched anything on Netflix or really anything besides an occasional YouTube video, but last week my parents watched Willow for a few hours so Josh and I could start the second season of Stranger Things! Gah!!!! It is so good. We’re hoping to finish it up this week or next.

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I’ll leave you with this photo of my little Wonder Woman ❤

She only knows about Wonder Woman through reading books and has become obsessed with her…so it was no surprise to us when she asked to get a Wonder Woman costume.


I hope you all have a wonderful November!

Thanks for stopping by!

TIPS: Keeping a Budget & Menu Planning

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Keeping her babies close!

I have been meaning to sit down and write this post for months, but life has been somewhat chaotic lately with the holidays and a sleep deprived toddler. I’ve received some questions via Instagram regarding meal planning and budgeting, so I hope this helps some of you! For almost three years now, Josh and I have been menu planning together; we sit down at the end of the week and write out meals for the following week and get our grocery lists together. We’ll look through cookbooks, my Pinterest boards, blogs and make room for our own experiments. This works for us, and here’s why:

  1. Saves money
  2. Keeps us organized
  3. Saves us unnecessary trips to the store
  4. We don’t waste food
  5. It keeps us from buying a lot of pre-packaged, processed food
  6. Reduces stress

We used to just fly by the seat of our pants and that evening scramble to figure out dinner. Trips to the grocery store would be multiple times a week (at least 3-4), we’d buy things we didn’t need and end up wasting food…which meant we were also throwing away money. We were both appalled at what we were spending weekly – which forced us to look at our overall budget. There were weeks when we were spending $250/week on groceries alone for just two people!

We rented apartments and townhouses for years, which was also in a sense throwing money away. We wanted to have a baby and buy a house, but with all the bills (student loans, utilities, car payments, etc.) we just weren’t able to save any money. After reviewing what we paid each month for the various bills, we were able to create a grocery budget. It took some adjusting and tweaking, but we figured out an amount that worked for us.

Every Sunday, we run to the ATM and take out $220 ($240 every other week) and divide the cash into fixed amounts among the following:

  • Grocery
  • Date (I’ll be honest, we’ve been on two dates since having Willow and they were lunch dates…so we use that money for either going out to eat as a family, save for a special occasion or a coffee/tea date)
  • Household (any odds and ends we may need, such as trash bags, light bulbs, toothbrushes, shampoo, etc.)
  • Miscellaneous (buffer in case we need to buy a gift for a birthday or a random item)
  • Bi-weekly allowance – Josh gets paid every other week and we each get $10. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but it forces us to really think about making a purchase and live a simpler life…is it something we really want? Or we might put it towards something we’re saving for, a bigger purchase.

Keeping a Budget & Menu Planning // Be Sol-Ful

Keeping a Budget & Menu Planning

We bought a small expandable file folder with dividers (from Target for $3.99), which we use to keep the money organized and to hold receipts. We have a section for “Online Purchases” – for example, let’s say we order toothpaste for Willow, we would then take money from the “Household” section and move it to “Online Purchases” – the following week, we would take the money that is in the “Online Purchases” file and let’s say there’s $40 dollars in there, we would take out $40 less from the bank for the week and disperse it among “Grocery” or “Household.”

Any grocery money we don’t use, gets moved into the “Grocery Surplus” file – that is for items we don’t buy often, such as maple syrup, superfoods, coconut oil, rice, coffee – they’re pricier items, which keeps us from depleting our actual grocery budget.

Back to menu planning….

Planning ahead has saved us! Life just flows and has made our days easier. Having meals lined out for us takes the stress away, not to mention that either one of us can jump in the kitchen and get dinner going. Willow is a mama’s girl, so it has helped tremendously to have Josh be able to just open the cookbook or find the blog post to follow a recipe while I spend quality time with our sweet girl. It’s been great to try new recipes and discover favorites – often times, I get inspired when I make a new recipe. Most of what we eat is homemade, but we do pick up the occasional carton of organic tomato soup or Luke’s crackers for Willow because she loves them. It’s nice to have the quick and convenient option, but we don’t make a habit of it. Cooking in bulk ensures that we have leftovers as the “convenient” option.

The cash method keeps us honest and we only buy what we need…often times eliminating that impulse buy. Most grocery trips, I’ll keep a running tab of the total in my head and if I do happen upon a treat or something not on the list, I make sure we have the cash for it before adding it to the shopping cart.

So, here’s how we do it:

  1. We take inventory of what we already have (ingredients) in our kitchen and first choose recipes based on that. Then we look through our cookbooks and online – picking recipes that don’t require too many additional ingredients….that’s not to say we don’t occasionally experiment with a more complex recipe. Tuesdays will always be taco night and Fridays are usually leftovers since Josh works really late and I can’t spend too much time in the kitchen. We very rarely plan breakfast or lunch, but rather keep the basic staples on hand (fruit, oats, buckwheat, Silver Hills gf bread, nut/seed butters, hummus, etc.) along with leftovers as an option.
  2. We decide which day to prepare each recipe and write out grocery lists – Josh does the Trader Joe’s shopping since he works there, while Willow and I go to Natural Grocers and Whole Foods. Mondays are our grocery shopping days.
  3. We write the meals out on our little white board in the kitchen so it’s in plain sight.
  4. Eat good food and enjoy the week!

*** I apologize for the old photos below, but I wanted to be sure you at least get the idea of the process.

Keeping a Budget & Menu Planning

Keeping a Budget & Menu Planning // Be Sol-Ful

Keeping a Budget & Menu Planning

I’m not saying this method will work for everyone, but I’m hoping you might be able to take away some ideas and incorporate them into your household. Living with a set budget and meal planning has helped us pay off one of the cars, we have zero credit card debt (only use in emergencies), Josh’s student loans are almost paid off, we were able to buy our first house (also have my parents to thank for giving us a place to live for 8mo) and not live paycheck to paycheck. Most importantly, we opened a savings account for Willow when she was born and have been able to continue depositing $100 a month into it, which has allowed us to get a pretty nice cushion going for her.

Other ways we save money:

  • We don’t have cable, instead we pay $9/mo for Netflix…which is our only form of television options.
  • Buy used whenever possible (thrift stores, consignment shops).
  • We used to buy books like they were going out of style, now we borrow more from the library and limit what we do buy.
  • Shop clearance racks.
  • Buy some things in bulk, such as dried beans, rice, spices, coconut oil (to make our body care products).
  • Make our own products (toothpaste, deodorant, lip balm, body butter, cleaning products, baby wipes, etc.)
  • I am fortunate to be able to be a stay-at-home mom, which means we don’t pay for daycare or a babysitter.
  • When the weather gets a little nicer, Josh will be riding his bike to work more…thus saving on gas.
  • We don’t use credit cards and if we do, we use them with the intention of paying it off immediately.
  • We research and hunt for the best price before buying, whether it’s online or in an actual store.
  • We limit how often we eat out or order in – using it as a special treat instead.
  • Our “diet” and lifestyle keeps us healthy, which means no extra trips to the doctor or prescription meds.
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Homemade body butter…hope to one day have this in my Etsy shop.

What are ways that YOU save money? Do you meal plan?

Thanks for stopping by!

REVIEW: Summer Favorites 2014

I can’t believe how fast the summer flew by and I never got a chance….ok, I honestly kept forgetting, to post some monthly favorites. I’ve been noticing some fellow bloggers posting some of their favorite things each month and thought, what a fun idea! I love seeing what other people are using or eating – sometimes you learn about new things.

Over the summer I stumbled upon some awesome products that have become fast favorites. I’ll also share some of our old favorites from beauty products to food.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you probably know that I’m a huge fan of using baking soda and apple cider vinegar in my hair as opposed to using regular shampoo and conditioner – I’ve been doing it for years and have noticed it has really improved the health of my hair. To learn more about this method, you can read an old blog post of mine HERE. This summer I thought I would venture out and try an actual shampoo and conditioner to change it up a bit. After browsing through EWG’s Cosmetics Database, I decided to try Hugo Naturals Smoothing & Defining Coconut shampoo and conditioner. I chose it because not only did it get an AWESOME rating on EWG (a ZERO, in fact!), but they also believe in giving back – they support Celiac Sprue Association, Farm Sanctuary, HealthRIGHT360, Leaping Bunny, LUNAFEST, Open the Cages, The Breast Cancer Survivors’ Network, The Orang Utan Republik Foundation, Vitamin Angels, AND Whole Planet Foundation. They’re seriously an awesome company – please check out their website HERE.

I absolutely LOVE this shampoo and conditioner. It smells great, but not too strong and leaves your hair feeling soft and clean – not greasy or dry.

Hugo Naturals

I loved their shampoo and conditioner so much that I had to try one of their bar soaps and oh, boy! I am in LOVE. The grapefruit scent is invigorating and feels so soft on the skin.

Hugo Naturals

 

Since having a kid, I’ve noticed that quick and convenient sometimes outweighs homemade. We do our best to make our own snacks, desserts, main dishes, and body products, but when you stumble upon a great ingredient list on a prepackaged item, I like to give it a shot. On our trip at the coast, we found a great breakfast item that I think would be great for traveling or camping. Gluten-free Organic Superfood Oat-Based Cereal. It’s packed with tons of superfoods, such as cacao, hemp and maca – and wow, it is delicious and fills you up! You can eat it hot or cold and use water or milk. I ate it cold with unsweetened almond milk. It comes in a few flavors – I had the Maca Double Chocolate flavor.

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Over the summer, one of Willow’s favorite on-the-go snacks were these Organic Veggie-Go’s. Her favorite flavor is the Mountain Berry Spinach – I personally love all three. We chose these because there is NO added sugar or preservatives, just fruits, veggies and spices. They’re great to take on hikes!

 

Another new find that has become a favorite of mine is this Stompin’ Good Seedy Buckwheat Molasses Bread by Happy Campers. MOLASSES bread?!?!? Being a molasses addict, I had to try it! I wasn’t too thrilled with the price, as it is close to $6 a loaf, but it’s a nice treat every now and then. It’s a hearty bread, reminiscent of a seedy rye. I enjoy it with some peanut butter or sunflower seed butter – Definitely needs to be toasted. I found this in the refrigerated section at Natural Grocers. Happy Campers is made in Tigard, OR in a gluten-free facility.

Happy Campers Gluten-Free Bread

 

Now here are some old favorites….

 

We’ve been using The Honest Co. 4 in 1 laundry packs for a couple of years now and LOVE them. No messy pouring or measuring, just throw a pod in the washing machine and you’re set. We’ve even taken them traveling, as there’s no bulky containers. Best of all, they’re not loaded with toxic ingredients or fragrances. The Honest Co. is another fantastic company to support. We’ve been getting their essentials bundle each month for a couple of years – we love their dish soap, hand soap, bar soap, lotion and MUCH more.

The Honest Co.

 

I get a lot of people asking what kind of bread we use and the answer is Silver Hills! Back in 2010, I worked side by side with Silver Hills at VegFest in Portland, OR and got to try their gluten-free options – I fell in love. In the past, the breads I had tried were dry, dense, or just down right disgusting. Silver Hills Gluten Free Chia Chia bread has become a staple in our house. Willow enjoys it with peanut butter or hummus. If you buy it, I highly recommend storing it in the freezer as it molds fast because there are no preservatives.

Silver Hills

So, there you have it! Let me know if you enjoyed this post and I’ll be sure to share more of our favorites in the future. What are some of your current favorites?!

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Recipe: Bliss Bowl

Salads are usually our favorite way to load up on tons of fresh veggies, but today’s weather had me craving more of a comfort food – something hearty and warm. Before I eliminated soy from my diet, going to Café Yumm was a great, quick place to grab a meal – their Yumm Bowls were to die for! I’m not sure if they’ve reformulated their recipe to be soy-free, but I decided to try to create our own version and it was a hit! Super creamy, slightly cheezy, and lots of flavor.

BLISS SAUCE: {vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, sugar-free}

This served 5 of us with plenty of left-overs for tomorrow!

What You Need:

  • 2 cups chickpeas, cooked
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast (we always use Dr. Fuhrman’s as it is free from synthetic folic acid)
  • 1/2 of a large roasted red pepper (I cheated and used Trader Joe’s fire roasted red peppers in a jar)
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons Coconut Aminos
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • water
  • salt, to taste

Blend all of the ingredients on high until smooth, adding water to achieve your desired consistency. I made this with a pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt, but next time I’ll skip it because the Coconut Aminos added enough saltiness. I refrigerated the sauce while I prepped the veggies and rice.

This sauce will pair really well with any veggie! Here is what we used to assemble our ‘Bliss Bowls’:

  • Organic basmati rice
  • Steamed organic broccoli
  • Roasted & seasoned cauliflower
  • Raw organic carrots, chopped
  • Raw organic red & green peppers, chopped
  • Cooked black beans
  • Raw Cashew Hemp Dip
  • Sriracha
  • Avocado

I mixed the rice and ‘Bliss Sauce’ and then added everything else (with an extra spoonful of sauce on the side). This definitely qualified as comfort food – full of flavor, warm, and filling….not going to lie, I went back for seconds!

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Our Top 10 Must-Haves and a Review of TERRASOUL Superfoods

I’ve received a handful of emails and messages about going vegan and what items we always have on hand. So I thought I would share our must-have products, our staples.

Top 10 Must-Haves: in no particular order

1.  Coconut Oil (organic & raw) – I, seriously, could NOT live without it. We use it in our homemade body care products, raw treats, cooking, baking, and it’s all we’ve ever used on Willow in the rare case of diaper rash. We use it every day whether it’s on our skin or in our food.

 

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2.  Superfoods – Since we believe in natural health and healing, we keep our pantry stocked with superfoods – our 100% natural vitamins. This is how we prevent colds and various ailments Here is what we always have on hand:

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  • Raw Organic Cacao Powder
  • Raw Organic Cacao Nibs
  • Raw Organic Cacao Butter
  • Raw Organic Maca Powder
  • Raw Organic Lucuma
  • Raw Organic Mesquite
  • Raw Organic Maqui Powder
  • Raw Organic Acai
  • Raw Organic Chlorella
  • Raw Organic Spirulina
  • Raw Organic Camu Camu
  • Raw Organic Hemp Seeds
  • Raw Organic Goji Berries
  • Raw Organic White Mulberries

You can find the above list in some natural food stores or online – we’ve ordered through Ultimate Superfoods, Raw Food World, Earth Shift, Navitas, and Vitacost. I recently learned about TERRASOUL Superfoods through this great blog PlantStrongVegan and thought I’d give them a shot. They’re a family-run business out of Fort Worth, Texas who sells all certified organic and fair-trade products. I ordered a variety of samples to compare them to the ones we already have. Everything arrived yesterday and I couldn’t be happier! I love the simplicity of their labels and packaging (especially that they don’t use clear, transparent bags) and everything smelled and tasted super fresh. Our daughter polished off the sample bag of White Mulberries as soon as we opened it! I will definitely be ordering through them again because I believe in supporting the family-run businesses, not to mention, they’re prices are the best I’ve seen. Please check them out!!

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3.  Raw Almond Butter – We use it in smoothies, on top of pancakes, stuffed in Medjool dates for a treat, raw goodies, baked goods, or right out of the jar. We always have a jar of Trader Joe’s raw almond butter in the fridge for daily use and JEM raw almond butter for a treat! JEM is made right here in Bend, OR and it is BY FAR the best raw almond butter we’ve tried. It is super creamy, rich, and slightly sweet – they use coconut sugar to sweeten, so nothing refined. Our daughter is their biggest fan and would eat a jar in its entirety if we let her!

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4.  Raw Nuts & Seeds – We use raw nuts and seeds in our smoothies, on salad, to make sauces and dips, as a quick protein rich snack, and our favorite – to make homemade raw milks. Raw cashews are our go-to when we’re looking to make a “cheezy” or creamy sauce. Here are our top ones to have on hand:

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Chia seeds

5.  Almond Milk – As mentioned above, we love to make our own nut milks, but almond milk is our favorite. It is so easy to do and a lot less expensive. If you are unable to make your own, Trader Joe’s carries a great unsweetened almond milk that does not have Carrageenan in it, which is hard to find.

6.  Dried Beans – It is significantly cheaper to buy dried beans in bulk than from a can…besides, most of the canned beans are packaged in a BPA lined container. If you do go the route of canned, I recommend either Trader Joe’s private labeled beans or Eden Foods organic beans – their cans are BPA-free. In my opinion, dried beans taste far better and a little goes a long way, as after they’ve soaked, they grow in size.

7.  Quinoa – It’s an excellent source of protein, iron, magnesium, and fiber – and the ways to incorporate it into your diet are endless – soups, salads, cookies, and more!

8.  Fresh Organic Fruits & Vegetables – No explanation necessary 🙂

9.  Raw Organic Coconut Sugar & Pure Vermont Maple Syrup – We don’t use any refined sugar, so we use coconut sugar instead. I bake with it, use it in raw treats, and anytime a recipe calls for sugar or brown sugar, I replace it with coconut sugar. Most natural food stores carry it, if not, it’s available online. We also use maple syrup pretty much on a daily basis – sounds crazy, I know! My husband’s family has a sugar house in Vermont – I’ve turned into quite the maple syrup snob…so if you haven’t tried pure maple syrup, you don’t know what you’re missing! So we order our maple syrup through them – and they’ve got the best prices. In case you’re interested, click HERE to learn more about Graham Farms Maple in Williamstown, VT. My one addiction, besides dark chocolate, is coffee. I used to drink it all doctored up with sugar and/or creamer, but now I just add a small drizzle of maple syrup to my cup of coffee and it seems to bring out the flavor more. We also bake with it when recipes call for agave or honey.

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maple

10.  BRAGG APPLE CIDER VINEGAR – I absolutely could NOT live without ACV! Like coconut oil, the possibilities are endless. We bake with it, use it in salad dressings, dips, drink it daily (I mix 2 TBSP ACV with 6-8oz of water and you can sweeten a bit if needed), AND I rinse my hair with it….check out my post about hair tips, I go into more detail there. The health benefits alone are amazing:

  • Helps digestion
  • Supports the immune system (wards off colds/flu or heals them)
  • Can aid in weight loss
  • Healthy skin and hair
  • Calms an upset tummy
  • Contains potassium and enzymes that can help fight exhaustion/fatigue
  • Can relieve cramps (muscle, joint, and menstrual)
  • Lower cholesterol

The list could go on!

*If you’ve never ordered anything through Vitacost, which is where we order a number of our superfoods and staples,  I highly recommend it. They’re always offering great deals, free shipping on orders over $49 and if you use this link: https://www.vitacostrewards.com/Kb6eyTr we’ll both receive a $10 Coupon – for your first $30 or more purchase!

Recipe: The Best Mac ‘N’ Cheeze

Five years ago we stumbled upon one of our favorite recipes in an issue of VegNews Magazine and over the years, we have played around with ingredients and made it our own. The best part about this Macaroni & Cheese recipe, is that it looks and tastes like the real thing – even the biggest cheese addicts will ask for a second helping. It is by far the creamiest version we’ve tried and the most flavorful.

***Since writing this post, I have created a healthier, oil-free cheeze sauce, you can find it HERE ***

The Best Mac ‘N’ Cheeze { Adapted from VegNews }

Vegan, Gluten-free, Soy-free

Serves 6

What you need:

  • 8 ounces of macaroni noodles (or Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli noodles)
  • 1/3 cup of Soy-free Earth Balance (we’ve also used coconut oil – but it will be strong in coconut flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped (don’t worry if you don’t have them on hand, we’ve had to omit them a few times and it won’t affect the recipe)
  • 1 cup of sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped (we’ve also used cauliflower, but have found sweet potatoes provide the best flavor)
  • 1/4 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 teaspoon of Himalayan pink sea salt
  • 1 – 2 cloves of garlic (if you don’t have a high-speed blender, such as a Vitamix, you’ll want to mince the garlic)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (we usually omit this because it’s too spicy for Willow)
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

How to:

1. Cook your pasta according to the package instructions…ideally you’re looking for al dente. Drain the noodles, rinse in cold water, and set aside.

2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

3. In a saucepan, add the shallots, potatoes, carrots, and onion with the one cup of water. Bring to a boil, cover the pan and let it simmer for about 15 minutes or until the veggies are tender.

4. While your veggies are cooking, throw your cashews, Earth Balance, salt, garlic, mustard, vinegar, pepper, cayenne, and paprika into a high-speed blender….don’t blend just yet.

5. Once the veggies are done, add them, along with the cooking water, into the blender with the remaining ingredients and process until completely smooth.

Recipe: Mac n Cheeze (vegan, gluten-free) | Be Sol-Ful

6. Next, toss the “cheese” sauce with the cooked noodles in a large bowl to ensure even coating.

7. Spread the mixture into a 9 x 12 casserole dish and bake for 25-30 minutes.

8. ENJOY!

* We always double this recipe to have leftovers for Willow – you can freeze what you can’t eat. You can either reheat the Macaroni & Cheese in the oven or in a pan over the stove – I suggest adding a little water or almond milk when you do reheat because the mixture thickens up once refrigerated.

** The “cheese” sauce is also great served with steamed veggies!

*** We have also added fresh sugar plum tomatoes and spinach to the noodles before baking – I highly recommend it!

**** Lately, we’ve been enjoying adding chickpea-miso to the sauce (approximately 1 heaping Tablespoon), but cut back on the salt, as miso adds a good amount of salt.

Recipe: Mac n Cheeze (vegan, gluten-free) |Be Sol-Ful Recipe: Mac n Cheeze (vegan, gluten-free) | Be Sol-Ful

The Truth About Folic Acid

If I had to choose one book to recommend to parents, it would probably be Disease Proof Your Child | Feeding Kids Right by Joel Fuhrman M.D. Especially for those who are on the fence about raising your child on a plant-based diet, this will push you over to the vegan side of things without sounding righteous or gimmicky. He is a physician and father of four children, so he writes not only from a scientific standpoint, but also from the heart.

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I’m not saying that this is the cure-all, but if you knew that you could reduce the chances of your child struggling with obesity, medical problems, and/or diseases, why wouldn’t you?! I’m a firm believer that knowledge is power! There is also evidence that shows how diet and a child’s development go hand in hand. When you start your kids off right with a “nutrient rich” diet and stay away from high processed, sugary, fried foods – you’re setting them up to be healthy eaters and reduce their chances for the diseases that our country is so ridden with. I can personally attest to the benefits of a plant-based diet – I have watched those struggling with their weight and health improve drastically.

drfuhrman

 

If you’re vegan, you probably know all about nutritional yeast and the many benefits, but did you know not all nutritional yeast is equal? We learned all about it about a year ago and no longer buy ours from the local grocery stores. Dr. Fuhrman does a great job explaining why your standard nutritional yeast is actually harmful – it’s loaded with synthetic folic acid.  Please click on the link to learn more http://www.drfuhrman.com/shop/nutritional-yeast.aspx

In a nutshell (about synthetic folic acid):

  • it’s been linked to an increase in breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer
  • increased risk of asthma
  • neural tube defects

{As far as how we use nutritional yeast, we sprinkle it over salads, pasta, or popcorn and use it in sauces and dips. It’s a great way to sneak in some extra protein, vitamins, and minerals…especially when feeding a toddler!}

Same thing goes with the standard multivitamin – they usually contain folic acid. Especially for pregnant women, it is so critical to get the proper nutrition, but doctors are always pushing folic acid – which could be extremely dangerous to the unborn child. Through Dr. Fuhrman’s website, you can order vitamins for the whole family (men, women, children, prenatal). This is where we order Willow’s vitamins Pixie-Vites – it comes in powder form so we sneak it into her water or smoothies.

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Other items we’ve purchased through Dr. Fuhrman’s site:

Organic Mung Bean Fettuccine (packed with 25 grams of protein per serving) – we’ve served it with marinara sauce and cashew cream sauce.

Chocolate Brownie Date-Nut Pop’ems – we like to make our own, but these are great in a pinch!

Gentle Care Formula Multivitamin

Here are the links to check out his sites:

http://www.drfuhrman.com/default.aspx

http://www.diseaseproof.com/