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!

RECIPE: Raw “Breaded” Italian Zucchini Chips

If you follow me on Instagram, chances are you saw the teaser for these last week! This crispy little snack is super addictive like your favorite bag of chips, but without the oil or guilt. Willow and I couldn’t stop eating them right off the dehydrator trays – so they’re also kid-approved!

RECIPE: Raw "Breaded" Italian Zucchini Chips

They’re cheezy, zesty, and slightly buttery…and did I mention that they’re addicting? And hey, if you’ve got a picky eater, I promise the veggie taste goes completely undetected!

RECIPE: Raw "Breaded" Italian Zucchini Chips

RAW “BREADED” ITALIAN ZUCCHINI CHIPS

{raw, oil-free, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free}

What you Need:

  • Three small bowls, tongs, whisk, dehydrator.
  • 2 small-medium organic zucchinis
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened, homemade, raw almond milk (or your choice of plant-based milk)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut aminos*
  • 4 Tablespoons blanched almond flour*
  • 2 Tablespoons unfortified nutritional yeast*
  • 1 heaping teaspoon salt-free Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)

* Can omit the coconut aminos and use a pinch of Himalayan salt in the breading instead.

* We use Honeyville’s blanched almond flour and buy it for a great deal at Costco. You can replace the almond flour and/or nutritional yeast with homemade (or store-bought) vegan Parmesan. You can find my recipe for a simple homemade Parmesan HERE (omit the nutritional yeast if you can’t have it). I have made it both ways, but prefer the almond flour-nutritional yeast combo as it provides a perfect “cheesy” flavor and the finely ground almond flour sticks to the zucchini really well.

RECIPE: Raw "Breaded" Italian Zucchini Chips

How To:

  1. Wash, peel, and thinly slice your zucchini. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the milk and coconut aminos.
  3. In a second bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients; break up any clumps from the almond flour or Parmesan.
  4. Fill a third bowl with warm water.
  5. Using tongs (or fingers if you don’t mind getting a little messy), dip zucchini slices, one at a time, in the almond milk mixture. Tap any excess off and then dip it in the “breading” mixture to coat the slice evenly. Place the slice on a mesh dehydrator sheet and then dip your tongs in the warm water to remove any excess breading. Tap excess water off and repeat this process until all the slices are coated. I highly recommend whisking the “breading” after every few slices to break up any clumps.
  6. Place trays in the dehydrator and set it at 115° for 8-12 hours. Times will vary depending on thickness of zucchini slices or how much “breading” you used. You’re looking for a crispy texture.
  7. Store any chips that you don’t eat in a glass jar with a lid….but be warned…you will most likely just eat them right off the tray!

I realize that the process to make these can be a bit time consuming with dipping each individual slice in the breading, but this ensures that they’re evenly coated…you can thank my perfectionist tendencies for that! You could try throwing the breading ingredients in a Ziploc bag and shaking the slices in there, but I cannot vouch for the results. If you make these, please let me know! Come back and leave me some feedback or tag me on Instagram 🙂

UPDATE!! My best friend gave this recipe a try using the oven and my suggestion to use aquafaba. She omitted the almond milk and used just aquafaba (and breading recipe) and baked it at 175° F for 30 minutes and then at 400° for another 30 minutes. Oven times will vary depending on how thin you slice the zucchini. She recommends checking on them after 15 minutes. Thanks, Jen!! xo

RECIPE: Raw "Breaded" Italian Zucchini Chips

RECIPE: Raw "Breaded" Italian Zucchini Chips

RECIPE: Raw "Breaded" Italian Zucchini Chips

Thank you for stopping by!

Blender Vanilla Cake with Coconut-Raspberry Frosting

 

RECIPE: Blender Vanilla Cake with Coconut-Raspberry Frosting

I have never worked so hard on a recipe before and quite frankly, I hope I don’t have to for a while! Lots of frustration and tears shed, but I was SO determined to create the cake that Willow requested for her birthday. There came a point when I was close to throwing in the towel and just making someone else’s recipe, but I felt like I was getting closer to success and didn’t want to give up. After about 20 trials (not exaggerating), I finally got it and I finally got the frosting recipe the day before the big day…talk about a huge relief! Oddly enough, while the cake tasted really good, I felt it could be better, so I ran two more trials after Willow’s birthday and I’m SO glad that I did, because the cake turned out lighter, fluffier, and cut like a dream!

Now, if you don’t have a blender, you can either use a stand up mixer or just a simple mixing bowl + spoon/spatula. While it can be a bit of a pain to scrape out the final bit of batter, the blender does a great job of breaking up any clumps of flour or coconut butter.

RECIPE: Blender Vanilla Cake with Coconut-Raspberry Frosting

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Willow was SO quick to blow out the candles! She had such a great day with family and enjoyed listening to the Taylor Swift station on Pandora ALL. DAY. LONG.

As for the frosting, we ran several trials using a variety of bases (cashew, sweet potato, and aquafaba) – while I loved the idea of using sweet potato to keep it lower in fat, we could not get past the flavor and texture. Had we made chocolate frosting, I could see how that would work out better. Anyways….I saw SO many different frosting recipes using aquafaba, but every single one of them used either cane sugar, oil/butter, or both. I didn’t want any of those, so I went to work figuring out ways to keep it “healthier.” I did try using coconut sugar instead of maple syrup, but the color was off, along with the flavor.

RECIPE: Blender Vanilla Cake with Coconut-Raspberry Frosting

I swear that’s not mold in the center layer! Ha! I did a thin layer of coconut-blueberry frosting along with the coconut-raspberry.

OH! And if you’ve never frosted a cake before, I HIGHLY recommend watching some YouTube videos…especially if you choose to double this recipe and make a layer cake like I did for Willow’s birthday. I, however, did not learn these tricks until after putting this layer cake together. The lovely Cara over at caraschrock.com shares a birthday with Willow and we both made layer cakes for the first time. She’s the one who told me to check out YouTube videos next time! Ha!! Here’s one that I found really helpful:

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BLENDER VANILLA CAKE: 

Gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free, refined sugar-free, gum-free, vegan

Makes one 9-inch* round cake or 8 cupcakes

*I recommend a smaller cake pan if you’re looking for a taller cake. As you’ll see in pics below, my cake was rather short, but all I own is a 9″ cake pan. You may have to adjust baking times depending on size of cake pan. Also note that if you want to make a layer cake like the one I made for Willow’s birthday, you will NEED to double both the cake recipe and frosting recipe.

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 cup sweet sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon psyllium husk powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • 6 Tablespoons pure maple syrup (room temperature)
  • 6 Tablespoons aquafaba (room temperature)*
  • 6 Tablespoons coconut butter (softened)
  • 6 Tablespoons warm water
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

*I use homemade rather than from canned chickpeas, but that’s just a personal preference. To do that, I cooked up a couple of cups of dried chickpeas and once the chickpeas were cooked, I removed them and let the liquid cook down a bit more (approximately 10-15 minutes) on low-med heat. Allow to cool before refrigerating in a glass jar.

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and either lightly oil cake pans or line with parchment paper. If you’re making cupcakes, grab your cupcake liners + cupcake pan!
  2. Place your wet ingredients in the blender and mix until smooth and slightly fluffy; scrape down the sides as needed.
  3. Add your dry ingredients and blend again until well incorporated (no lumps).
  4. Pour the batter into your cake pan and smooth the top out as best as you can. I found that using wet fingers did the trick. It doesn’t have to be perfect because you’ll be frosting it!
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the center isn’t jiggly (clean toothpick test) and springs back to the touch. Edges should be slightly golden. Please note that my oven is horrendous (requires longer baking), so baking times will vary.
  6. Allow to sit in the pan for 25 minutes before removing, then allow to cool completely before slicing or frosting.

RECIPE: Blender Vanilla Cake with Coconut-Raspberry Frosting

Blender Vanilla Layer Cake

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COCONUT-RASPBERRY FROSTING:

I achieved the fluffiness by using the same method I incorporate for my body butters…chilling the mixture before whipping gives it a nice, light texture!

What you need:

  • 1/3 cup Aquafaba (room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup (room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup coconut butter (softened)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons freeze dried raspberries, ground*

*you can use strawberries instead, but Willow requested raspberries. Since they are super seedy, I ground them into a powder (using a nut/spice grinder) and then used a sieve to filter out the seeds that didn’t get ground. I did not have to do this when using freeze dried strawberries.

**you can use any freeze dried fruit for color (blueberries, bananas, mango, etc.) or natural food coloring.

RECIPE: Blender Vanilla Cake with Coconut-Raspberry Frosting

This is how it looks after being blended…smooth + glossy.

RECIPE: Blender Vanilla Cake with Coconut-Raspberry Frosting

RECIPE: Blender Vanilla Cake with Coconut-Raspberry Frosting

How to:

  1. Pour the Aquafaba into a high-speed blender and blend on high for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and glossy (see photos above).
  3. Transfer the mixture into a mixing bowl; place into the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Remove and using a stand-up mixer (or handheld) mix on high until fluffy. This will take anywhere from 5-10 minutes. If the frosting does not fluff up, place in the freezer to chill for a few more minutes.
  5. Once you’ve achieved the right texture, you’re ready to frost your cake/cupcakes! If your cake isn’t ready yet, store the frosting in the fridge…but remove 45-60 minutes before ready to frost – otherwise the frosting will be too firm to work with.
  6. Refrigerate the frosted cake and remove it 30-40 minutes before you’re planning to slice and serve it.

RECIPE: Blender Vanilla Cake with Coconut-Raspberry Frosting

RECIPE: Blender Vanilla Cake with Coconut-Raspberry Frosting

Thanks for stopping by!

Why I Broke up with “Gums”

If there’s one thing I pride myself in, it’s being in tune with my body. When something feels “off” I don’t look for a quick fix or band-aid to cover up the problem. I’ve learned to dig deep and look for the cause – the root of the problem. Over the last few months, I’ve struggled a bit with feeling bloated (sorry, for the overshare) and my initial thought was that it had to be oats. Back when I had to go gluten-free (nine years ago), I was unable to consume gluten-free oats – I’m talking lots of pain and I looked like I was pregnant. I later became OK with gf oats after doing a cleanse and removing soy from my diet, but back in October, I began to notice the bloating and minor pain returned. I immediately cut oats out of my diet and within a week or two, I started to notice a difference. Fast forward a couple of months….bloating returned, but I hadn’t consumed any oats. I was seriously stumped.

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When I was actually pregnant with Willow, but that’s how I felt when eating the wrong foods.

After a lot of research, looking through our pantry and fridge, and by elimination, I figured out the culprit. GUMS! And I’m not talking about chewing gum, I’m talking about the additives found in SO MANY foods, baked goods, flours, protein powders, beverages, etc. For those with sensitive digestive systems, those who have IBS or other gut issues (leaky gut, etc.), I would HIGHLY recommend doing a little research or some trial and error. The purpose of all of these gums is to act as a “glue” to hold baked goods together (especially gluten-free, vegan items), thicken products such as coconut milk, ice cream, yogurt, etc.

image from LoveToKnow

  • Xanthan Gum – a substance produced by bacterial fermentation (or synthetically) and used in foods as a gelling agent and thickener. It’s actually the same bacteria that causes black spots (“rot”) on broccoli and cauliflower. Since it’s derived mainly from corn or soy, if the products you’re buying aren’t organic and they contain xanthan gum, there’s a very high chance it’s genetically modified (GMO) unless it actually states “certified non GMO.”
  • Guar Gum – actually comes from food and used as a thickener…but can cause stomach upset in those with a sensitive digestive system. Click HERE for a great breakdown about this ingredient.
  • Gellan Gum – similar to xanthan gum in that it is produced by bacterial fermentation.

We had been making our own nut + seed milks for about six years, but would always supplement with a store bought one as well. Being mindful about the ingredient list and avoiding ones that contained carrageenan or sweeteners. Over the last couple of years we got a bit lazy and began to enjoy the convenience of store bought and made less homemade. THEN Kite Hill had to go ahead and create a dreamy soy-free yogurt that actually tasted amazing!! Have you tried it…we were hooked.

Well, it all caught up with me.

The day I dumped out my jar of xanthan gum and tried rinsing it out was the day I woke up. Holy crap. Have you ever tried cleaning that junk up? It was goop-y, slimy and gross…and thinking about that sitting in my system literally made me feel ill. You might be wondering, “why did you have a jar of actual xanthan gum sitting around?!” Answer: for the few times a gluten-free recipe called for it. I know better now.

I thought I was doing an awesome job over the years of watching my intake of xanthan gum (and any other gums), but then I took a closer look. It was in our unsweetened almond milk, yogurt, bread, flatbread pizza crust, crackers and SO much more. All the little things began to add up. I was horrified. Knowing the effect it was taking on me and my sensitive system, I immediately thought, “what is it doing to little Willow?!”

Some of my favorite products contain some type of gum:

  • Trader Joe’s Sriracha
  • Mary’s Gone Crackers Graham Crackers
  • OrganicVille’s Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Organic, soft, corn tortillas
  • Full fat coconut milk (canned)
  • Store bought vegan cheese
  • Kite Hill cream cheese
  • Coconut Bliss Ice Cream
  • Steve’s Ice Cream

None of the above items are things we would consume on a regular basis, but still…crazy to think just how many products contain some type of gum (xanthan, guar, gellan, etc).

Luckily, our favorite protein powders are xanthan gum-free! We LOVE Sunwarrior’s Warrior Blend Vanilla and Garden of Life’s Organic Plant Protein (Smooth Chocolate). Again, we don’t use them all the time, but it’s good to know these products don’t contain any sneaky gums.

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I am in NO way trying to scare anyone and don’t claim to be an expert about any of this, BUT I wanted to share my personal experience and how I’ve improved. I also do not want to come off as elitist nor do I judge anyone for consuming pre-packaged foods that contain gums.

Am I cutting gums out 100%? No.

Am I going to do my very best to do so? Yes.

Considering it’s in just about everything that’s store bought/pre-made, I will do what I can to stop purchasing products that contain it and if we happen to go out to eat, I’m not going to stress about it. We’ve always been good about limiting our processed food purchases, but I will be the first to admit that when you’ve had a rough day, week, month, sometimes foods of convenience become a go-to…but planning ahead and food prepping has been huge for us. For the last few weeks we’ve gone back to exclusively making ALL of our milks at home (almond, cashew, hazelnut, hemp) as well as making our own yogurt. Here’s my current go-to  yogurt recipe. We blend it up and let it set in our yogurt maker for 13-14 hours – literally the best texture I’ve had AND way less sweet.

We’ve had our T-Fal yogurt maker for a few years and I can’t seem to find it on Amazon anymore…HERE is one that is similar.

Why I Broke up with "Gums"

Why I Broke up with "Gums"

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I’ve shared in a few of my posts how we make our own milk, but here’s a quick recap:

1 cup of raw, organic nuts (soaked overnight, drain & rinse)

3.5-4 cups filtered water

Sweeten if desired with maple syrup, coconut sugar or dates

Blend until smooth, strain using a nutmilk bag and store in fridge. You can sweeten if desired, but we always leave it unsweetened since we use it for various savory dishes as well.

It tastes WAY better than any store-bought milk and it’s less expensive.

Why I Broke up with "Gums"

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What about recipes that call for xanthan gum? Pizza crust, breads, etc? You can actually substitute it with psyllium husks!

Now that I’ve rambled all over the place, let me swing it back to the beginning where I talked about oats. I did a test and made some oatmeal…no pains anymore! I’m still limiting my intake just in case and I don’t want to overdo it – even though I’m insanely anxious to make all the recipes I’ve missed out on for the last four months! I’ve been consuming almost no xanthan gum and I no longer look like a pregnant woman and my digestive system is back to normal.

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Since I get so many questions about our favorite breads and flours, here they are and they do not contain “gums”:

Silver Hills Gluten-Free Chia Chia Bread or Gluten-Free Omega Flax Bread (organic, non GMO, sprouted)

King Arthur Gluten-Free Mulit-Purpose Flour >> We don’t use it very often as it is pricey, but it’s the best gf flour you can buy. We find it at Natural Grocers, Whole Foods or order it online (depends on who has the best deal).

Another fantastic gluten-free flour blend is a homemade version found in Somer’s book The Abundance Diet.

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If you’re experiencing stomach cramps, inflammation, migraines/headaches, bloating or any other digestive discomfort, I would definitely take a closer look at your labels – you might be consuming more “gums” than you think…I know I was. And if your kiddo is on a gluten-free “diet” I would absolutely be more mindful of labels.

Here are some articles and/or blog posts that I found interesting and helpful during my quest to learn more about these sneaky ingredients:

And HERE is a book that’s on my to-read list.

Again, I am only sharing this because I found out what was causing trouble for me and maybe this information could help someone else. I’m not a health expert, but I know my body and what it can and cannot tolerate. I urge you to do your own research and make your own conclusions.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

RECIPE: Rich, Creamy (Vegan) Hot Cocoa

RECIPE: Rich, Creamy (Vegan) Hot Cocoa // Be Sol-Ful Living

After a day of sledding or snow fort building, there was nothing better than warming up to a mug of cocoa. For me, every time I sip on hot cocoa, I’m flooded with childhood memories of playing out in the snow and cold with my brother – and we’d come inside to hot cocoa with marshmallows. My grandmother used to make some of the best homemade hot cocoa and I’m pretty sure it was because she used whole milk and for all I know, she could have used Hershey’s syrup, but it was darn good. For the last couple of years, I’ve been making my own homemade version and my sweet Willow LOVES it. Josh has been on me to share my recipe here on the blog, but it seems so simple and silly to me…but with winter upon us now I guess there’s no better time!

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The key to this recipe comes in two parts:

  • The addition of full fat coconut milk to make it extra creamy
  • The coconut sugar-maple syrup combo gives it a rich, somewhat caramel-y, sweet flavor.

RICH, CREAMY (VEGAN) HOT COCOA:

Gluten-free, Soy-free, Dairy-free, Oil-free, Vegan

Serves 2-4

What you need:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your choice of milk)
  • 1 cup coconut milk (preferably full fat)
  • 2-3 heaping Tablespoons raw cacao powder (use 3 for a richer flavor)
  • 1.5-2 Tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • pinch Himalayan salt
  • Optional Add ins: 1/2-1 tsp peppermint extract/flavor OR 1 tsp pure vanilla extract OR a square of dark chocolate OR 1/4-1/2 tsp Ceylon cinnamon.

How to:

  1. In a small pot, gently warm your milk over medium-low heat, whisking often. You DO NOT want the milk to come to a boil – steaming is OK,  just not boiling (approx 10-12 minutes). Don’t worry if it isn’t “hot” enough because you’re going to whirl it in the Vitamix and it will warm up some more. If you’re using the additional square of chocolate, add it to the milk to melt.
  2. Once the milk is warmed up, carefully pour it into a high speed blender with the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth and frothy, approximately 1-2 minutes. Adjust the sweetness level as needed. If it’s not warm enough for you, simply return the mixture to your pot and heat on the stove. I keep it on the cooler side for Willow’s sake.
  3. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream or marshmallows! Enjoy!

*** For an added superfood boost, after blending the ingredients together, add in 1 teaspoon mesquite powder + 1 teaspoon maca, then whirl again for a few seconds. This combo isn’t recommended if you’re using peppermint.

*** If you don’t have a Vitamix or high-speed blender, that’s ok! Simply warm the milk over the stove with all of the ingredients (except the peppermint or vanilla), whisking often. Once heated to desired temp, remove from heat and whisk in the peppermint or vanilla (if using). I love using the Vitamix to get the super frothy top.

RECIPE: Rich, Creamy (Vegan) Hot Cocoa

RECIPE: Rich, Creamy (Vegan) Hot Cocoa

 

 

DSCN1938

I’ve shared how I make my whipped cream before, but I’ve since then learned a trick for a guaranteed perfect batch! I have tried literally every brand of organic full fat coconut milk and hands down the best one is Whole Foods brand and it’s always 2 for $4. I know it has guar gum (I try to avoid too many “gums”), but I’ve tried a couple brands without it and you will never get a thick, fluffy whipped cream AND the flavor was really bad, in my opinion. You can also use Trader Joe’s canned coconut cream, but it is very strong in coconut flavor (my mom wasn’t a fan when I used it). Ok, so the trick?!? Before you buy the can, give it a little shake and if you hear a lot of sloshing around, don’t buy it! Sounds silly, but since learning this trick, I’ve made successful whipped cream every single time!

Homemade Coconut Whipped Cream:

What you need:

  • 1 can organic full fat coconut milk (use two cans for a bigger batch)
  • Your choice of sweetener (maple syrup, coconut nectar, coconut sugar, etc.)

How to:

  1. Chill the coconut milk can in the fridge for 24 hours, at least.
  2. Chill your mixing bowl in the freezer for 10-15 minutes prior to making the whipped cream.
  3. Gently turn the coconut milk can upside down, open it, discard the liquid and scoop the thick cream into your chilled mixing bowl.
  4. Mix until fluffy and smooth – adding sweetener, as desired (I usually do a drizzle of pure maple syrup). Store any leftovers in the fridge and use within a couple of days.
RECIPE: Rich, Creamy (Vegan) Hot Cocoa

Willow insisted on a chocolate chip topping…surprise, surprise!

RECIPE: Rich, Creamy (Vegan) Hot Cocoa

RECIPE: Rich, Creamy (Vegan) Hot Cocoa

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by!

RECIPE: Baked Coconut Pecan Mini Donuts with Cinnamon-Maple Sugar

How many of you actually love your job? I’m talking passionate, happy, excited and motivated by the life you’ve chosen. Sadly, I don’t know too many people who would raise their hands. The last paying job (early 2010) I had just about broke me. I was at an all-time low – physically falling apart with numerous ailments, mentally and emotionally unwell and I remember day dreaming about things I wish I could be doing. I felt defeated. Sounds depressing, doesn’t it? I promise, this story has a happy ending…obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t be typing this, right? After connecting the dots and realizing that my job was the cause of my unhappiness, I gave my notice and quit. I needed to take control of my life, health and well-being, as well as find my true passion…my calling. I brainstormed all sorts of ideas – everything from homemade jewelry to opening some sort of vegan, gluten-free bakery or food cart. So, I started experimenting in the kitchen with homemade donut recipes. I spent a couple of months running various trials and scribbled my creations down in an old notebook which later got lost during one of our moves. Luckily (and I owe thanks to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up book) I found a few of my recipes from almost six years ago!

As for finding my true passion or calling, I’m living my dream now. Being a stay-at-home mom and being able to have fun with my hobbies (recipe creating and product making) is more than I could ask for. I actually wake up in the morning excited for what the day holds, for what adventure awaits. I feel truly blessed.

I’ve spent the last few weeks refining these recipes – adjusting the ingredients to my current way of eating and making them even “healthier” than they were originally. In the last few weeks I have gone through MANY trials and attempted to make these oil-free, but I gotta tell you, this is an instance where a little oil takes it from: “It’s OK” to “Whoa. This. Is. Amazing!”  I am SO excited to share this first donut recipe with you!

RECIPE: Baked Coconut Pecan Mini Donuts with Cinnamon-Maple Sugar

BAKED COCONUT PECAN MINI DONUTS: {vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free}

Makes 24 mini donuts

Soft, cake-y, sweet and almost melt in your mouth delicious! The combination of ground pecans and coconut oil create a buttery treat.

What you Need:

Mini Donut Pan(s)

RECIPE: Baked Coconut Pecan Mini Donuts with Cinnamon-Maple Sugar

All of the ingredients needed. Our kitchen table is always covered with large brown paper so we can doodle while we sit together…it’s also a great distraction for Willow while she waits for meals.

{DRY}

  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/4 cup finely ground raw pecans (almost flour-like, not butter)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt

{WET}

  • Flax “egg” (1 Tablespoon ground flax + 3 Tablespoons filtered water)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 rounded Tablespoons raw coconut oil (no need to melt)

RECIPE: Baked Coconut Pecan Mini Donuts with Cinnamon-Maple Sugar

RECIPE: Baked Coconut Pecan Mini Donuts with Cinnamon-Maple Sugar

I almost didn’t post this photo because of how messy it looks, but I felt it was important to show the process – it doesn’t need to be perfect.

How To:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit & lightly grease your donut pan(s) with either coconut oil or avocado oil.
  2. In a small dish, stir together the ingredients for the flax “egg” and let it sit for five minutes.
  3. Measure out your milk, ACV and vanilla; add it to a large mixing bowl (preferably to a stand-up mixer or you can use a handheld mixer). Add in the coconut oil and flax “egg,” then mix until well combined.
  4. Next, add in all of the dry ingredients – works best if you sift your flour, sugar and finely ground pecans, but my sifter recently broke…that’s what happens when a three-year-old plays with your kitchen stuff!  Mix until just combined (be careful not to over mix). It will be a somewhat sticky, pudding-like consistency.
  5. Using a piping bag or tablespoon, fill each donut “cup” 1/2 – 2/3 full – do not fill to the brim as they will expand as they bake. Bake for 15-19 minutes. They should spring back to the touch and your tester should come back clean (no wet batter).
  6. Remove from the oven and allow the donuts to rest in the pan for five minutes before removing.
  7. You can enjoy as is OR indulge and coat them in this delicious Cinnamon-Maple Sugar mixture (see below).
  8. As for leftovers, DO NOT store in a plastic container (such as Tupperware or a Ziploc bag) otherwise they will get “wet” and sticky. They’re actually best kept on the cooling rack with a piece of parchment paper or wax paper draped over them loosely. Best eaten within the first 2-3 days.

***UPDATE*** For an oil-free version, simply omit the coconut oil and replace with coconut milk (I used full fat) – so, 3 Tablespoons of coconut milk. You might have to adjust the baking time, but start with the suggested time above.

RECIPE: Baked Coconut Pecan Mini Donuts with Cinnamon-Maple Sugar

You can see which donut “cups” I overfilled! Ha! That’s OK, they got eaten pretty fast!

RECIPE: Baked Coconut Pecan Mini Donuts with Cinnamon-Maple Sugar

A couple of the donuts before being tossed in the Cinnamon-Maple Sugar mix.

CINNAMON-MAPLE SUGAR:

If you’ve never had maple sugar before, you are missing out! We used fresh maple sugar from Graham Farms Maple in Vermont and I’m not kidding when I say, it is the BEST I’ve ever had. Rich, sweet and oh so maple-y. The smell is absolutely intoxicating. Pure heaven. If you don’t have access to maple sugar, you can substitute it with either coconut sugar or regular sugar, but I recommend whirling it through a spice grinder or coffee grinder to get it a bit finer. I’m sure you could use brown sugar too.

RECIPE: Baked Coconut Pecan Mini Donuts with Cinnamon-Maple Sugar

A close up of the maple sugar.

  • 3 Tablespoons Pure Maple Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Ceylon Cinnamon

Measure out the maple sugar and cinnamon – then add it to a medium-large Ziploc bag. After the five minutes of setting in pan, remove the donuts and shake them in the cinnamon/sugar mix. I only had a small bag, so I did a couple at a time.

RECIPE: Baked Coconut Pecan Mini Donuts with Cinnamon-Maple Sugar

My little helper and taste tester patiently waiting for a donut!

RECIPE: Baked Coconut Pecan Mini Donuts with Cinnamon-Maple Sugar

RECIPE: Baked Coconut Pecan Mini Donuts with Cinnamon-Maple Sugar

RECIPE: Baked Coconut Pecan Mini Donuts with Cinnamon-Maple Sugar

Thanks for stopping by!

RECIPE: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s the season of all things PUMPKIN!!! My absolute favorite time of year. Crisp air, leaves changing, apples galore and cozy sweaters. And BAKING! After a few months of very limited oven use, we make the switch to roasted veggies, potatoes and LOTS of baked goods…such as cookies. I had this vision in my head of a pumpkin molasses cookie and as soon as the weather cooled down, I started running trials. I cooked up some dried garbanzo beans and saved some brine for an “egg” – used applesauce, did an oil-free batch, played with flours and sweeteners. The first batch turned out way too cake-y for my liking, but got the thumbs up from our toughest critic…Willow. Second batch was still too cake-y and a bit too much molasses – yes, I said too much molasses. Third and fourth trials got closer, but just didn’t grab me. Let me share that through all of the mess up trials, Willow gave each one a thumbs up…clearly in it for the chocolate chips. Fifth batch was a giant win. A slightly crisp initial bite with a soft, chewy center. Exactly what I was looking for! I knew it was the best batch yet when Willow’s eyes lit up with the first bite and asked for a second one when the first cookie wasn’t even half eaten.

RECIPE: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Before I dive into the recipe, I have to share one of my favorite kitchen gadgets. A couple of years ago, my parents bought us this amazing little Cuisinart Spice and Nut Grinder. Since this came into our lives, we buy whole spices and grind the seeds ourselves, along with making a lot of our own flours. Literally within seconds you can turn rolled oats into oat flour. Yes, a Vitamix can do the same thing, but this is easier clean up and faster.

RECIPE: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

RECIPE: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Homemade oat flour

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: {gluten-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free, vegan}

Yields 16 cookies (more or less depending on how big you make them)

What you need:

DRY:

  • 3/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup finely ground raw pecans (flour-like; be careful not to grind too long, it will turn into a butter)
  • 4 TBSP raw coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan salt

WET:

  • 3 TBSP pumpkin puree
  • 1 TBSP avocado oil (or coconut oil, melted)
  • 1/2 TBSP molasses (1 TBSP for molasses lovers)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

RECIPE: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (except chocolate chips). Whisk until incorporated and if you need to, use your fingers or the back of a spatula to break up the pecan clumps.
  3. In a small-med bowl, combine the wet ingredients until smooth.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients bowl. Stir until evenly incorporated, no signs of dry “flour.” Then fold in the chocolate chips. The dough will be slightly sticky
  5. Using your hands or a small cookie scoop, form small balls. My cookie scoop was a bit smaller than a tablespoon measure. Place them on the baking sheet and flatten with the back of a spatula or wooden spoon. You can press in extra chocolate chips to each cookie at this time, if you’d like.
  6. Bake for 12-16 minutes or until the cookies no longer look sticky/wet and can easily be removed from the baking sheet without sticking.They’ll be slightly golden brown. If you’re looking for a super crispy cookie, bake them for a few minutes longer, but keep a close eye on them so as not to burn them. Our oven is awful and we have to always cook/bake things far longer than called for. I baked a trial for 22 minutes and they turned out crispy inside and out. For a softer/chewier center, stick to the initial baking time.
  7. Remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for five minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and ENJOY!

RECIPE: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had to distract Willow with some bad dancing and singing to allow the cookies to cool a bit. This kid is a chocoholic, so patience doesn’t come easy. Be glad that there weren’t any photos to document that portion of our baking session.

RECIPE: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

RECIPE: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are best eaten the first day or two, which is pretty easy to do! If you do have leftovers, store them in an airtight container (preferably a cookie tin).

While we were waiting for the cookies to bake, Willow asked to play around with the camera…here’s a small collage – I picked my favorites from the 50 that she took! I’m rather impressed that she managed to get some selfies in there.

willow pics

RECIPE: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

RECIPE: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe?!