RECIPE: AIP Banana Bread Pancakes

I have been trying to make a good AIP pancake now for months. I’m talking since way back in September. And when I say ‘good’ I mean so good that Willow doesn’t even miss the chocolate chips. When I presented this trial to her a couple of weeks ago, she hesitated to take a bite, but when she did, her face lit up. After three pancakes worth, she said, “these are my favorite! Can you keep making them??” YAY!! I finally did it! And the best part was that she didn’t even ask where the chocolate chips were, she just kept eating.

AIP Banana Bread Pancakes
In past trials, I’ve thrown in chocolate chips to make up for the gummy or mushy center…or to cover up the strange aftertaste. Thus defeating the purpose of AIP! After adjusting a few key ingredients, there is no need for masking flavors and I actually prefer these without maple syrup to keep the sweetness level lower…but I totally add a TON of extra cinnamon on top!

Every time we make these, our house smells like freshly baked banana bread for the rest of the day. It’s wonderful!

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AIP Banana Bread Pancakes
AIP BANANA BREAD PANCAKES

{grain-free, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, vegan}

Makes 7-8 small pancakes

What you need:

  • 1 cup tigernut flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda*
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar*
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon
  • pinch Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup gum-free coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider

*The combination of baking soda + cream of tartar is to replicate baking powder. Being on an AIP diet means staying away from commercial baking powders as they tend to contain cornstarch. If you’re not following an AIP diet, use 1 teaspoon of baking powder instead of the baking soda + cream of tartar.

How to:

  1. Start heating your pan over low-medium heat. I tend to keep it at notch 4 with my electric stove.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients; breaking apart any clumps of tigernut flour.
  3. Next, stir in the mashed banana and coconut milk. Finally, add in the apple cider vinegar and stir until just combined. This batter will be very thick.
  4. Add about a teaspoon of coconut oil to your hot pan and scoop small amounts of pancake batter into the pan and smooth it out into a circle with the back of a spoon. I personally like to use an ice cream scooper to make pancakes. With this specific recipe, I fill the scoop halfway because I find that they’re easier to flip when smaller.
  5. Allow to cook for 3 minutes, flip, and cook for another 3 minutes. Unlike usual pancakes, these do not bubble up or get super dry edges to indicate when it’s time to flip. Depending on what pan you use, you might have to add more oil.
  6. Enjoy with maple syrup, fresh fruit, and extra cinnamon!

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 AIP Banana Bread Pancakes

Let me know if you give this recipe a try! Either come back and leave me some feedback or tag me on Instagram @be.sol.ful

Thanks for stopping by!

Simple Breakfast Potatoes

Breakfast.  My favorite meal of the day and honestly, I could eat breakfast-y foods all day long – there’s a sense of comfort that comes along with them. For the last few weeks, I’ve been obsessed with these breakfast potatoes – they’re savory, full of flavor, and satisfying. They’re also super versatile! I’m sharing a basic version below, but if you’re not following an AIP diet, the options are literally endless! I’ll provide some ways to change them up in the notes below.

These are delicious on their own or stuffed into a tortilla (or Paleo Wrap)!

Simple Breakfast Potatoes

SIMPLE BREAKFAST POTATOES {Vegan, AIP, Oil-free option}

Serves 2-3

What you need:

  • 1 large sweet potato*
  • 1 small onion
  • 1-2 teaspoons coconut oil*
  • 1 Tablespoon Sari Foods Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika (omit if AIP)
  • salt to taste
  • 4-5 cups fresh baby spinach*
  • Optional add-ins or toppings: avocado, chives, guacamole, salsa, hot sauce, mushrooms, jalapeños , vegan sour cream, cheeze sauce, ketchup.

*NOTES* I used white sweet potato for this recipe, but really any variety of potato will do. If you are following a strict AIP diet, you will have to stick with sweet potatoes or yams. Instead of coconut oil you can use vegetable or mushroom broth – it will add a different flavor and the onions + potatoes may not crisp or brown as nicely. You can use kale or arugula instead of spinach or do a combo of all three.

Other flavor ideas: Garlic + sage, curry, chipotle, salt + black pepper, Italian seasoning.

How to:

  1. Wash and cube the sweet potato – I leave the peel on. Place into a pot of water and boil for 5-7 minutes to soften/pre-cook them a bit. Make sure to not overcook them as they will become mushy. Drain and set aside.
  2. While your potatoes are cooking, thinly slice your onion. Over medium heat, warm up a large pan with 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil (or broth). Depending on the type of pan you use, you might need more or less oil. Add the onions to the pan and sauté until golden and slightly crispy.
  3. Once the onions are done and potatoes are boiled, add the potatoes to the pan of onions and sauté until they begin to brown. I’ve learned to not be an over-stirrer! It’s OK to walk away from the pan for a few minutes. If the potatoes are sticking to the pan, add more oil or broth. I used a ceramic pan for this recipe and used a very small amount of oil.
  4. Once the potatoes are evenly browned, stir in the seasonings and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Next add in the spinach and sauté for another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Remove from heat and serve!

Salsa goes really well with these potatoes and one of our favorite store-bought salsas is Green Mountain Gringo! It tastes super fresh and doesn’t contain citric acid or any weird ingredients. We love the Roasted Garlic option.

Simple Breakfast Potatoes

I’d love to hear if you give these breakfast potatoes a try!

Thanks for stopping by!

Pumpkin Tapioca Pudding

Are you tired of pumpkin recipes? Not yet? Good! Because I have an insanely easy recipe for you today. I almost didn’t share it because it is so easy and tapioca pudding isn’t anything new, but my family enjoys this so much that I decided to type up a little post for it.

I meant to share this earlier in the week, but I got wrapped up in the WORLD SERIES!!!! What an amazing Game 7! We are over the moon that the Cubs did it!!! 

But back to this recipe…

When I created this, I thought it looked a little naked. Like it needed something to go with it. I brainstormed AIP friendly sauces and toppings, but none of them seemed exciting. Then my friend, Natalie, over at Feasting on Fruit, posted her recipe for a Date Caramel Sauce and I knew instantly that I found what I was looking for! PERFECT match! If you’re not following an AIP diet, you could top it with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and/or chocolate chips. You’ll see a photo below with some chocolate chips sprinkled on top…that would be Willow’s handy work 😉

My family and I prefer eating this pudding warm, right off the stove with a little caramel sauce swirled in. 

Pumpkin Tapioca Pudding
PUMPKIN TAPIOCA PUDDING 

{AIP, oil-free, vegan}

Serves 4

What you need:

  • 1/3 cup small tapioca pearls
  • 1 cup filtered water*
  • 1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz)*
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin purée 
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • Dash of ginger powder
  • Pinch of Himalayan salt
  • Optional: vanilla bean powder (or extract) or ground cardamom.

* For an even creamier option, use coconut milk instead of water. I use Trader Joe’s organic canned coconut as it doesn’t contain any gums/thickeners. I don’t recommend using lite coconut milk.

How to:

  1. In a small pot, combine the tapioca pearls and water. Allow to soak for at least an hour.
  2. Do not drain the water – add the remaining ingredients (except if you’re using vanilla extract) to the pot and heat over medium, stirring frequently.
  3. Once the mixture begins to lightly boil, reduce the heat to low-med and continue to cook until the pearls are translucent, stirring often. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Once the pearls are translucent and the mixture has thickened, remove from heat. At this time, you can add in vanilla extract.
  5. You can eat this warm or cold. It will thicken even more once chilled in the fridge.
  6. Top it with extra cinnamon, a sprinkle of coconut sugar, chocolate chips, cardamom, coconut whipped cream, or our favorite…Natalie’s Caramel Sauce!! 

Pumpkin Tapioca Pudding
Pumpkin Tapioca Pudding
Thanks for stopping by!

❤️

RECIPE: Spicy Chickpea & Kale Salad

This Chickpea & Kale Salad is similar to your standard chickpea mash, but with a little spice and greens thrown in. It’s creamy, full of flavor, and easily customizable! Pair it with some celery + carrot sticks for a quick snack or turn it into a main meal as a big salad or sandwich. 

RECIPE: Spicy Chickpea & Kale Salad

I love the accidental, throw-together meals that end up being share-worthy. The recipe I’m about to share with you is one of those meals! I can’t take full credit for this creation…I have my hubby to thank. Sometimes he uses ingredients I wouldn’t normally think to combine and also has a heavier hand for spices, but more often than not, the outcome is delicious and packed with flavor. The day he threw this together, I made him give me the rundown on the ingredients he used, but he couldn’t tell me measurements…go figure! So the trials began. I’m excited to share a savory recipe with you – it’s been a while!

Before I dive in, I have to talk about our little addiction. A few months ago we discovered Jeff’s Naturals Diced Tamed™ Jalapeno Peppers and can’t get enough. They’re so good that we were going back and buying a jar a week! We’ve been throwing them in tacos, sauces, salads, pasta, and more. I don’t normally buy jarred products like this, but not only is the jar labeled ‘vegan and gluten-free’ but it’s also non-GMO, free from sulfites, and citric acid. If you haven’t guessed it by now, these jalapenos make an appearance in this recipe 🙂

RECIPE: Spicy Chickpea & Kale Salad

SPICY CHICKPEA & KALE SALAD

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

Serves 6-8

What you need:

  • 1 bunch of organic kale
  • 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan salt
  • 3 cups of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 TBSP Jeff’s Naturals Diced Tamed™ Jalapeno Peppers*
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup soy-free vegan mayo*
  • 2 TBSP (or more) diced red onion
  • Optional add-ins: chopped carrot, red bell pepper, or tomatoes

*We love this homemade version (but omit the sriracha) or you can use Soy-Free Vegenaise

How to:

  1. Tear the leaves of kale away from the stem and wash thoroughly. Shake the water off, but don’t worry about getting the kale completely dry because any water remaining will aid in cooking. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and toss it with the granulated garlic and salt.
  2. Add the kale to a pan, cover with a lid, and cook on medium heat. Stir frequently and if needed, add a splash of veggie broth or oil. Cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the kale is softened/tender.
  3. Next, throw your chickpeas, cooked kale, jalapenos, and seasonings into a food processor. Pulse until broken down into smaller pieces*
  4. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and fold in your mayo one tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. If you want a super creamy texture, go heavier on the mayo. Then fold in the diced red onion*
  5. Add to a bed of lettuce, in a sandwich, spread between two tortillas and warmed up, or as is!

NOTES:

*I have not tried making this with fresh jalapenos, but I imagine they would produce a higher heat/spice level – I probably wouldn’t throw in 2 TBSP off the bat! The jalapenos I used are fairly mild/tame.

*If you prefer a smoother consistency as opposed to the chunkier way I’ve done – add your mayo and onion directly into the food processor instead of folding it in. Process until smooth.

**If you or your kiddo don’t like spicy, simply omit the jalapenos and either cut the spices back or omit all together.

RECIPE: Spicy Chickpea & Kale Salad

Here we enjoyed it in a sandwich with red leaf lettuce, thick slices of homemade cashew cheese, extra red onion slices, and a smear of vegan mayo…

RECIPE: Spicy Chickpea & Kale Salad

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

REVIEW: December Favorites

Happy New Year, everyone!!! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday (to those who celebrated) – I’m wishing each and every one of you a beautiful and healthy 2016! December was a very BUSY month for me and while I didn’t get all the blog posts up that I had hoped to, I am beyond grateful for those who kept me and my Etsy shop busy! Wow! Can’t thank you enough! I have a few products, recipes and books to share with you from last month. As always, please feel free to comment here and share any of your recent favorites!

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DECEMBER FAVORITES:

CALIFIA FARMS >> NOG and PEPPERMINT MOCHA COLD BREWED COFFEE 

Oh, my. It was love at first sip with the Peppermint Mocha – so incredibly creamy, dreamy and pretty much heavenly! We drank it as is and also used it to make a delicious chia pudding (inspired by my friends over at CiCi Kitchen). The Nog, on the other hand, took me a second glass to really fall in love with it. It’s essentially a nog flavored almond milk – I went in expecting a thick beverage like the other nogs on the market, but once I realized that, I was able to enjoy it for what it was. It’s more on the gingery side, but I LOVE ginger…and apparently, Willow does, too!

 

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COCOKIND >>

I very rarely enter giveaways, but when I saw that Margaret (@plantstrongvegan) was running a giveaway with CocoKind, I had to take a chance. Guess what?! I WON! I had been wanting to give them a try because they use ingredients that I use in my own products…which means they’re safe enough for Willow to use. All organic with ZERO additives or hidden toxic ingredients. But I have also learned that CocoKind gives back by donating proceeds to those in need (clean water, food and books to children). Definitely a company I’m happy to support. I love backing products like this because I want them to be readily available for everyone. We deserve to have more vegan, cruelty-free AND SAFE products on the store shelves. The giveaway that I won included the following:

Now, I LOVE all things coconut, so I immediately fell in love with these products. Strong coconut scent, very moisturizing and Willow approved. With it being SO cold here and our bathrooms don’t have heat, the Facial Repair Serum and Eye Firming Oil stay solid…so I have to run the bottles under hot water before use. But this is also a good sign because it’s proof that they don’t add any junk to their products and use pure, all natural ingredients! I love how everything feels, smells and it’s all very effective! CocoKind isn’t available to buy in stores here in Bend, OR…but here’s the link to see if you can purchase their products in a store near you:

http://www.cocokind.com/stores/

REVIEW: December Favorites

REVIEW: December Favorites

 

 

RECIPES WE TRIED AND LOVED:

VEGAN CUCUMBER RANCH DRESSING >> VEGETARIAN GASTRONOMY >> I have yet to try one of Anjali’s recipes that I didn’t fall in love with! This ranch was no exception. Before I went vegan, ranch was my absolute favorite dressing – I would pair it with everything from salads, raw veggies, veggie burgers, fries and more. I’ve made vegan ranch dressings before, but none have come close to this version. The flavor was spot on and the texture…amazing! Fresh, creamy and lighter than the dairy-based ranch dressings I’ve had in the past. I had to stop myself from eating it out of the jar with a spoon! We used it on tacos one night and then veggie burgers the next. I highly recommend doubling this recipe…it is that good!

REVIEW: December Favorites

Taco Tuesday featuring Anjali’s Cucumber Ranch!

OIL-FREE PUMPKIN COCONUT SUNBUTTER >> THE PLANT STRONG VEGAN >> 

I was so excited to have all the ingredients on hand to make this right away!  I realize that for most people, once December hits, pumpkin is off their radar and they move on to all things peppermint and ginger, but I couldn’t resist. The flavor combination was too tempting and as expected…absolutely DELICIOUS!! I’m somewhat embarrassed to share this photo because it doesn’t look as creamy & smooth as Margaret’s, but it tastes wonderful! I added the optional pumpkin spice and I’m so glad I did! Besides eating it right out of the jar, we’ve enjoyed it with crackers, toast and sliced apples. Hubby smeared it on Maple Cornmeal Banana Bread…see the next recipe…

REVIEW: December Favorites

 

 

MAPLE CORNMEAL BANANA BREAD >> FEASTING ON FRUIT >> 

When I saw Natalie’s post on IG about this creation, I knew it needed to be made ASAP. I fully admit that I was bummed about the use of oats, but I still made it for my family to enjoy and they LOVED it! Willow actually helped me make this and went overboard with the chopped pecan topping. It took SO much patience for her to wait for the bread to cool…I’m talking every two minutes she was begging for some. When I was finally able to cut it, she devoured two slices! Hubby loved it, too!! I may not have been able to eat it, but goodness, I sure did enjoy how wonderful our house smelled.

REVIEW: December Favorites

 

REVIEW: December Favorites

 

 

SHARP WHITE MAC AND CHEESE BAKE >> VEGGIES DON’T BITE >>

Make this now. Just do it. Literally click on the above link, run to the store and grab any missing ingredients and MAKE THIS!!!! Holy moly, the sauce is TO DIE FOR! As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for any new vegan cheese sauce that surfaces, so it was a no brainer that I was going to make this. Sophia nailed the flavor of this sauce – literally perfection – and there was a whole lot of “oooohhhing” and “aaaaaahhhhhing” going on while eating it. And that crispy topping?! I could have eaten it right out of the food processor it smelled SO good! It was a wonderful addition to the mac and cheese. The sauce is loaded with good, wholesome ingredients – plenty of veggies, but you’d never know it. Makes you feel a lot less guilty going back for seconds….or thirds…don’t judge. I really wish I could have captured a better photo, but considering it gets dark way before we have dinner, this was the best I could do…I think you can see how creamy it is though!

REVIEW: December Favorites

 

VEGAN SUGAR COOKIES (Gluten-free, Oil-free) >> THE VEGAN 8 >>

PURE HEAVEN. I don’t really need to say more, but I’m going to. Easily one of the best cookies I’ve made (and eaten) in a while. I used homemade raw cashew butter, as Brandi does in the recipe, but you can use store bought, too – which will make these even simpler than they already are. These ingredients are perfection and I wouldn’t dare stray from them because I’m not kidding when I say that they’re better than any sugar cookie I’ve had before AND they’re free from all the refined junk and oil!!! WIN, WIN! The cookie dough is good enough to eat on its own and I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t eat about a full cookie’s worth before scooping them onto baking sheets…so good. Vanilla-y, sweet like a sugar cookie should be with a crispy outside and pillow-y, soft center. It took all of my willpower not to devour half the batch in a sitting. Have I convinced you to make them yet?! I hope so!

REVIEW: December Favorites

 

 

LEMON CRANBERRY & PISTACHIO CASHEW CHEESE BALL >> THE PLANT STRONG VEGAN >>

Margaret did an excellent job of luring me in to this festive creation! The pops of color from the cranberries and pistachios are beautiful!! I knew straight away that I had to add it to our Christmas Day menu. Incredibly simple to prepare and absolutely delicious!! I fell in love with the lemony tang and rich, creamy base – paired so perfectly with the cranberries and pistachios! Willow loved this, too! Her favorite way to eat this was with some gluten-free pretzels. This recipe makes a large amount and as Margaret suggested, I chose to split it into two smaller cheese balls.

REVIEW: December Favorites

 

BOOKS I’M ENJOYING:

UNCONVENTIONAL TREATS by AUDREY SNOWE >> My friend, Audrey, over at Unconventional Baker, released her ebook!! You guys! It is GOREGEOUS!!! I spent two (loooong) nights drooling over each recipe and got lured into each dreamy photo. Audrey is incredibly creative and talented in every sense of the word. Reading this book felt like I was sitting at her kitchen table chatting over a nice hot cup of tea. She explains things so perfectly and provides wonderful tips from substitutions, how-to’s, and step by step instructions. I know I will love every single one of these recipes because I’ve tried so many of Audrey’s creations from her blog. We have very similar taste preferences, not to mention the same food sensitivities, so I’ll be making my way through each recipe! Click HERE to download your copy!

REVIEW: December Favorites

 

 

YOU CAN HEAL YOUR LIFE by LOUISE HAY >> Do yourself a HUGE favor and buy this book…now. No joke, I plowed through this book in a couple of nights (stayed up waaaaaay too late reading) and felt incredibly empowered and enlightened. While reading this book, I became more aware of my thinking and where I needed to make some changes. I literally felt like a new person after finishing it and will forever keep Hay’s words very close to my heart. Your thoughts literally change your world, your life. She helped me to better understand my past history with an eating disorder, along with other health issues I battled. This book has changed so many things for me and has helped me to manifest my destiny. I’m more aware of my thinking – more mindful of how my thoughts can impact my health and well-being. I truly feel everyone should read this book as a way to kick off 2016!

REVIEW: December Favorites

 

READY PLAYER ONE by ERNEST CLINE >> This book came recommended to my by my hubby and a dear friend – so far, I’m really enjoying it! I’m only a quarter of the way through it, so I’ll give a full review when I’m finished.

 

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

 

 

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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!

REVIEW: September Favorites

Hello, friends! I don’t know about you, but September flew by faster than any month so far. Hard to believe that the holidays are fast approaching. You’ll be happy to hear that this post isn’t nearly as long as my Summer Favorites round-up! We didn’t try very many new products and my list of books and recipes is short and sweet. As always, if you have any current favorites, please leave me a comment below!

PRODUCTS WE TRIED & LOVED:

Kite Hill Yogurts >>

REVIEW: September Favorites

Kite Hill is a Whole Foods Exclusive brand @ $1.89/ea

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably read how excited I was when these hit our Whole Foods right around Labor Day. I’ve mentioned Kite Hill in a previous favorites post for their Soft Fresh Truffle Chive & Dill product. When I heard that they were coming out with a yogurt, I knew they were going to be amazing. I’ve purchased quite a few other dairy-free yogurts, but none blew me away. The texture was always off or they were overly sweet. When I pulled back the label of Kite Hill’s Blueberry yogurt, my eyes lit up. No curdled, chunky texture, just smooth, creamy deliciousness. I’ve tried all of the options (Plain, Vanilla, Blueberry, Strawberry and Peach) and loved every single one. I was never a fan of the fruit-filled or fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts, but I have to say, these were outstanding. They didn’t require a lot of stirring/mixing up and the fruit actually tasted fresh. If you ask Willow, she’ll tell you Vanilla is her favorite…but she’ll eat around the fruit in the others.

REVIEW: September Favorites

PASCHA Chocolate: 70% Cacao {Organic, Allergen Free}  >> Another Whole Foods find and well worth the price…although, my mom purchased it (on sale) and put it in my shopping bag when I wasn’t looking. It is often times difficult to find chocolate that doesn’t contain soy lecithin, so I’m always excited when I find a brand that is soy-free. This chocolate is incredibly smooth and rich, but not intense like a lot of dark chocolate (I actually love the really intense flavors). What attracted me most to this company was how they use very few ingredients and all of it fair trade and organic. Their chocolate is also made in a dedicated allergen free facility, which is huge. Our Whole Foods carries two of their full size chocolate bars (as seen in the photo below) and their mini bars. On their website, I noticed that they offer several other options, such as one with maca, lucuma or Arabica coffee. The 70% cacao bar is Willow approved, but I’m pretty sure she’d love them all.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Yumbutter Organic Superfood Peanut Butter >> We’ve tried and loved their sunflower seed butter (mentioned in a favorites post a good bit back) and we finally got around to trying their peanut butter this month. SO good. Willow and I packed it with us to take on a recent rockhounding adventure and it hit the spot with Le Pain des fleurs Organic Buckwheat Crispbread.

Rockhounding treasures! LOTS of agates, Jasper and petrified wood.

Books I Read and Enjoyed:

I’ve read quite a few books over the last month or so, but here are the ones that stood out:

Cold Black Earth by Sam Reaves >> This was another Kindle First (free download) for me and it was a well written murder mystery. I only get to read after Willow is asleep and I found myself staying up until almost 1:00 AM because it was almost impossible to put down. I will admit, the book starts off slow, but stick with it…I promise it’s REALLY good. The author did a fantastic job pulling you in and there were times where my heart was racing and I was holding my breath. It takes place in a small town in Illinois (which is partly why I chose it) and is about a woman who comes back home after leaving the combat zone and a painful divorce in hopes to pick up the pieces. While back home, an inmate escapes from a local prison and murders begin. Just when I thought I had figured out who the killer was, I had to think again!

Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story by Mariam Gates >> Every so often, we take Willow to Barnes & Noble to browse and sit on the floor to read a few books. We stumbled upon this sweet book and had to get it. She was so excited to add this into our nightly routine – we do each pose as a family before cuddling up in bed to read some books. The illustrations are beautiful and the author does a wonderful job of inducing relaxation. The poses are simple and we find Willow doing them throughout the day on her own. Such a perfect way to end the day.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) by Eline Snel >> My mom bought this book for us a good bit ago, but I just finished it last month. While the book is geared towards an older age group (5-12), I found it to be incredibly useful – I recommend it to every parent to read and reread. It’s a book to help with anxiety, stress and to help with concentration. It has definitely helped me to be more mindful over the last month. I’d like to share an excerpt from Chapter 2 (Parenting with Greater Mindfulness):

Presence enables you to be simply here – in contact with this moment. With these feelings and thoughts – open, curious, generous, and without an immediate opinion. Present with that small hand in yours. Present with the temper tantrum. Present with the daily school run. Present in all those moments of happiness, misfortune, routine, and everything in between. The more present you are, the less you miss. This is never a question of good or bad. Being fully present is enough.

This book goes hand in hand with my recent post – Unplug to Reconnect. It’s a gentle reminder to be present in this life – to become more focused and patient. I look forward to reading this again with Willow in a year or two. She wanted to read it now, but when she saw that it wasn’t quite a picture book like she’s used to, she lost interest. The book comes with a CD of guided exercises that I have not listened to yet.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson >> I am still reading this one, but I love it so far. I have my dear friend, Julie, to thank for the recommendation. It’s a young adult book that moves fast and keeps you on the edge of your seat. {Steelheart is book one in a series} The story takes place in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic city (Chicago) where we learn about Epics (people with extraordinary powers – evil) and Reckoners (ordinary people who have made it their mission to learn about the Epics’ individual weaknesses and assassinate them). The main character, David, has made it his life’s mission to eliminate Steelheart.

What I’m watching:

I thought I’d start a section in these ‘Favorites’ posts where I share any movies, shows, documentaries that I’ve watched during the month. We don’t have TV service, not even basic cable, so Netflix and Amazon Prime are our sources of entertainment.

True Detective Season 1 >> Josh and I watched this together via DVDs (eight episodes). It is a HBO series and season one stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey…enough said. Ok, I’m kidding, but seriously, you can’t really beat that pair. With each movie/show that I’ve seen with either one of those actors, I am blown away by their talent. This show wasn’t any different – they become the characters – it doesn’t feel like acting. True Detective is a crime drama about two detectives, “Rust” and “Marty,” and a 17-year manhunt. It’s dark, at times very heavy, but nothing short of amazing. We got sucked into the series before the first episode was even over.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Other shows I’ve been watching on occasion via Netflix & Amazon Prime:

  • Bones season 10
  • Covert Affairs
  • Justified

Recipes we tried and loved:

We made a lot of repeat recipes last month, along with creating our own, but here are the few we fell in love with:

Plant Strong Vegan:

Sriracha Sweet Chili Wings >> Words don’t even begin to describe how amazing this recipe is. The first time we made this, I forgot to grab the sweet chili sauce while grocery shopping, so I had to improvise. I used Coconut Aminos Teriyaki sauce and a little avocado oil. Willow LOVED them! Broccoli is my absolute favorite veggie, so finding new ways to cook it makes me happy. And when your picky toddler approves, even better. No joke, Willow requests this all the time. For example, just today she said to me, “Mom, can Dad bring some broccoli home tomorrow so we can have sticky broccoli?” That’s what she calls it – “sticky broccoli” ❤ We’ve made this several times – using teriyaki sauce and the way Margaret wrote the recipe (using Sriracha and sweet chili sauce)….the spicier recipe isn’t Willow friendly, so we make her a separate batch using a mild sauce of some sort. We made homemade pizza last week and chopped up the wings for a topping, along with some homemade white sauce. I love these way more than cauliflower wings – the texture is incredible and her method is genius. The one thing we learned to do is to brush a little oil on the parchment paper before putting the broccoli on there – makes for easier flipping.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Broccoli wings using Coconut Aminos Teriyaki sauce and avocado oil. Served with organic basmati rice.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Homemade pizza crust using the King Arthur gluten-free pizza crust recipe (leaving out buttermilk powder), topped with homemade white sauce and Plant Strong Vegan’s Sriracha Sweet Chili Wings. Ahhhhmazing!

REVIEW: September Favorites

Creamy Hemp Pesto Alfredo Fettuccine with Oil-Free Roasted Garlic >> This was a three-part recipe and each one fantastic. Just more evidence that hemp seeds are truly magical. I also love that Margaret shared her method for roasting garlic that didn’t require oil OR the use of aluminum foil. The creamy Alfredo sauce didn’t use the typical cashews as a base, which was a nice change…and less expensive to make. I loved how well the pesto paired with the Alfredo – it provided a big pop of flavor and I was pleasantly surprised when Willow approved of this meal. We’ll definitely be adding this recipe into our pasta night rotation!

The Vegan 8:

Fudgy Coconut Butter Brownies >> I knew these were going to be amazing before I even made them. Brandi is incredibly talented at creating dessert recipes that are oil-free. While I no longer follow a strict oil-free “diet” I do like to watch my consumption. If you make these, definitely go the extra step and make your own coconut butter…she provides instruction on how to do that if you’ve never made your own before. The brownies are insanely rich and fudgy – If you love chocolate like we do, you will love these…I promise.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash with Black Bean Guacamole (Oh She Glows} >> My dear friend, Diana, has raved about this recipe a few times and we FINALLY made it and loved it. Insanely easy to make and a short ingredient list. Sadly, Willow did not try this as she likes things to be separated…black beans on their own, avocado alone, and “noodles” in either cheeze sauce or tomato sauce…so this was far from being a Willow meal. That’s ok, that just meant more for Josh and me! Don’t worry, she didn’t starve, we made sure to prepare a pasta dish for her.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Thanks for stopping by!