Guilt-free, fat burning delicious dessert, anyone?

Guilt-free, fat burning delicious dessert, anyone?

THIS is yet another guilt-free “cheesecake” recipe. It seems like its all the rage with bloggers lately, so I am jumping on the bandwagon. I love these recipes!  They are low glycemic, delicious, decadent, and guilt free.  Hello…what more could you want from life??  I, however, want to change it up and have my own version. I made an orange and blueberry cheesecake for Passover (check out the post here), and I have made similar chocolate ganache tarts, but I’m if I serve blueberries again my husband might get tired of my  raw, vegan antics, and sometimes all chocolate is just too rich (wow, did I just say that??).

Another thing that I love about these recipes is this:  many people who want to lose weight and/or eat healthier think they have to give up good food and tasty treats.  NOT SO!  This delectable dessert is a perfect fat loss, burn-those-hips-down-to-size example of how healthy can be delicious and guilt free. The coconut oil, coconut cream,  and cashews are all extremely nutritious.  They are good sources of healthy fats and protein, which help the body to burn fat.  I use real maple syrup for these  recipes, which is lower glycemic than other sweeteners.  The dates–have you ever opened a date?  They have tons of fiber!  But, you’d never know you’re eating something healthy with this delight.  When you eat foods balanced with healthy fats and proteins your body secretes less insulin, and this creates a little magic in the body.  Glucagon, the fat-burning hormone is released and BAM!  This is why people can eat all day and not get fat.  Its a fine line, though.  If there is too much insulin (because there’s too much sugar/carbs in the bloodstream at once), then glucagon can’t come out to make energy.    This is one of the secrets to fat loss that people forget, which causes massive frustration, which ultimately results in giving up, feeling like a failure again, and demoralization (all the usual things that go along with diets on the back end).  These types of dishes show that you can have your cake and eat it too!

This week I’m going to experiment, so stay tuned for pictures! I’m going to take the basic raw, vegan, gluten free cheesecake deliciousness (trust me, it is GOOD), and use strawberries and raw cacao nibs. Who DOESN’T like strawberries and chocolate!  My hubby is not a fan of strawberries, so to make everyone happy, I’m going to alternate blackberries and strawberries.  This is sounding better and better by the minute!

Its my daughter’s birthday, too. Strawberries (or any berries) and chocolate is such a great combo for a special occasion.

So, go over to Savanna’s blog and check out the recipe and then stay tuned for my version with strawberries and raw cacao nibs!

Wish me luck in the kitchen!  🙂  Elyse

Holiday dessert that will impress

A couple of weeks ago, we had our occasional vegan gourmet club I lovingly call Veggie Fest.  You should try this.  Gourmet clubs have a reputation for being food orgies that usually involve a lot of decadent, unusual food with a theme, alcohol, and indigestion, so a VEGAN gourmet club might seem like an oxymoron.

Its actually one of the most fabulous and looked-forward-to event events at my house.  My HUSBAND even asks, “when’s the next veggiefest??” with anticipation!

None of us are actually vegan.  It all started when I flirted with veganism, or what I like to refer to as plant-based eating, after watching a few too many food documentaries.  I decided to try it for  as long as I could.  I made it 6 months.  Not too shabby.

We always impress ourselves about how good we have gotten at finding amazingly delicious recipes that use only plants, and we joke and laugh about how the first few dinners caused some “intestinal discomfort.”  Despite that, we hung in there and now share great recipes that we mostly get from other awesome vegan bloggers.

This past dinner I made a delicious Raw Orange and Blueberry Cheesecake (yes, vegan), from OneGreenPlanet .  YUM!  It’s not only impressive looking, but it really is delicious.  AND, you can make it for Passover or Easter (or for a summer birthday cake, or a baby shower, etc).  I made a few modifications, but otherwise I used the recipe on the OneGreenPlanet.

For the crust, I used 2 cups of hazelnuts and 1 heaping tbsp of raw cacao powder, about 10 dates and a pinch of salt.  This was combined in a  food processor until very fine and sticky.  I put it in a lined (with plastic wrap) springform pan.

For the main “cheesecake” layer, I followed the recipe here and added 5 drops of doTerra Wild Orange essential oil to give it a little more orange flavor (it needed it even with using the juice of 3 oranges and their zest). Only use doTerra brand.  Other brands are not edible.  Wild Orange also has awesome antioxidant properties (double bonus!). If you would like to order a bottle, just contact me.  (read  about essential oils here).

There were a lot of OOOH’s and AAAH’s.  The nutella-like crust was an amazing little extra.  There was none left over.  And all the ingredients are kosher for passover! YAY for healthy delicious Passover treats!!

Please let me know how YOURS turns out and if you made any modifications by leaving a comment below!  Happy Spring Holidays!!  Elyse

 

 

delicious, fast and easy mediterranean quinoa tacos

my tabouli with hummus

my tabouli with hummus

Last night during his new 1 hour commute home, my hubby called to request a Mediterranean-inspired dinner.  I’m not much of a cook, especially during the week, but this sounded easy enough and I had the night off (normally I’m training till 7).

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been more deliberate about my food choices.  The holidays were quite relaxed for this food geek.  I really wanted to have a meat-free night.  I’m working on an incredible cleanse that I will be releasing soon (called the Inner Beauty Challenge) so I have been thinking about cleansing, healthy foods anyway.

Parsley is a wonderfully cleansing food, AND is really inexpensive, AND its readily available (heck, you can grow it in a pot).  So I decided to make some kind of tabouli and make Mediterranean-inspired tacos.

quinoa is a seed grain that is packed with protein. Its a great sub for most grains.  You can use it as is, or grind into a flour.

quinoa (in the back)  is a seed grain that is packed with protein. Its a great sub for most grains. You can use it as is, or grind into a flour.

Here’s the concept:

spinach flour tortillas (see ingredient list–these can be tricky), filled with hummus, my quinoa tabouli (see recipe below), cucumbers, mushrooms, lettuce (you could add feta cheese, tomato).  Its almost like a little slice of summer in January!

As you can see, these tortillas contain all the ingredients you would use in your own kitchen.

As you can see, these tortillas contain all the ingredients you would use in your own kitchen.

My hubby is not a big fan of tomatoes so I left that out, but they are normally a key ingredient in tabouli.  Another key ingredient is couscous, which can be hard to find.  Since this was a meatless dish I wanted to bump up the protein and plant fat content, so I used QUINOA and avocado in place of the tomatoes.

I absolutely love quinoa, especially for this kind of dish.  Its super fast, easy, versatile, and packed with protein.  It provides texture without being overpowering.

Hummus is super easy to make, but I prefer to buy mine (I told you, I’m not much of a cook–at least not THAT much!).  I always look at the ingredients, even in these seemingly simple foods, because food companies use preservatives, like potassium sorbate.  Sounds healthy enough, right–potassium is natural? Here are two short articles on potassium sorbate and other preservatives that companies sneak into foods.  This one even has a hummus recipe! And this one briefly lists other ingredients you should avoid.

Back to my dinner…

Here is the end result:

Its got a nice texture, not too much grain, and not mushy.  It tasted amazing!  My husband raved!!

Ingredients: I use as many organic ingredients as possible.

1/2 avocado chopped (firm but not hard)

1/4 red onion chopped (my hubby is not a huge fan of onions so I just added a little–I chopped up 1/2 and then saved the rest for a quick-add to something else)

2 cups of chopped fresh parsley

half an english cucumber (I like the english cuke because it has less seeds, but you can use a regular cucumber and seed it).

1/2 cup cooked quinoa (just add 1/2 cup quinoa to about 1 cup of water–cover and cook until water is gone–takes about 5-10 min)

1-2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Chop all the veggies and put into bowl.  Add cooked quinoa (I added mine hot and it didn’t mess anything up) and mix thoroughly.  Add lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Viola!  You are done!

For Mediterranean-inspired tacos, take the spinach flour tortillas, add hummus (holds other ingredients in place), tabouli, and any other ingredients you want on it.  I like to set it up like a taco bar, where everyone can make their own and customize their dinner.  Feta cheese, tomatoes, lettuce or more spinach, olives.  YUM!!!!

The flour tortillas can add a lot of calories, so opt for smaller ones and read the ingredients.  I’m not a huge fan of counting calories, but with something like this I want to go in eyes wide open.  I look at ingredients first. Then, if someone is really working on keeping their calorie load down to lose fat, I look at how much we are adding with a tortilla.  The avocado is so packed with nutrients, it doesn’t matter how many cals are in that.  Its pure nutritious plant fiber and fat–exactly the kind of fat your body craves and needs.

Let me know what kind of variations YOU used in your Mediterranean-inspired Tacos!  Leave a comment (and pic) below!

Enjoy!

Elyse

 

 

want to get more protein without artificial ingredients?

This is a brilliant post from Oh My Veggies.  Protein is such an important nutrient, especially when you are trying to:

burn fat

regulate sugar

build muscle

But, protein powders are full of a lot of junk.  There are some good ones out there.  I personally love Usana Nutrimeal as a meal replacement (which has 15 grams of protein).

When people think of adding more protein to their diet they almost always turn to animal protein.

When people are trying to burn fat or are on the go, they make smoothies, but a lot of people use greek yogurt for protein which is acidifying (increases chances of cancer, osteoporosis (YES) and kidney stones).

Enter plant protein to add to your smoothies.  Here, Oh My Veggies gives us ideas and recipes.  Serve some up, yo! and share with me which one you made!  take a picture!!!

Brilliant post from Oh My Veggies

Brilliant post from Oh My Veggies

Kosher for Passover treat that is healthy too! BUCKEYES!!

Every 3-4 months we invite some friends over for a gourmet club.  This is no ordinary gourmet club, though.  When you think of gourmet club, usually very decadent dishes come to mind, but this dinner club is focused on healthy food.  So, most people would think aaah, no thanks!  But, the food is DELICIOUS!  And, that is really the whole point: to show (especially the hubbies) how eating healthy can be scrumptious. 

Oh, I forgot to mention that its a VEGAN gourmet club, even though no one in the group is actually a practicing vegan.  I will tell you about the conception of our group another time (and hopefully it will inspire you to start your own!!), because I really want to share this surprisingly delicious recipe for Buckeyes.  Not only are the vegan (gotta use vegan dark chocolate to be official–but that is readily available these days), they are A LOT healthier than the traditional version which uses about a pound of confectioners sugar. 

 

Image

The sweetness in this recipe comes from medjool dates, which are high in fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals.  They are so easy and take so little time, I’m just gonna share so you can get to it! 

Oh, and I forgot, it being the weekend before Passover, this is a great dessert!!!  As long as you eat peanut butter or you can also use almond butter. 

This is not my recipe.  Someone in the group made them (Diana Klein)–Thank you Diana!

Rolos/Buckeyes (I think I’ll call them Buckos :-))

7 oz or 1 cup of pitted soft Medjool dates. If they are not really soft, soak them in water for 30 minutes then drain
2 TBL peanut butter
pinch of sea salt

mix the above in a food processor and pulse until a sticky paste forms.
scoop into a bowl and freeze uncovered for 10 minutes
line a plate with parchment paper and roll into balls and place on the parchment paper. it helps if your hands are wet.
freeze for 10 minutes to firm up.

Chocolate Coating
1/2 to 1 cup of dark chocolate chips.
1/2 tsp coconut oil
melt chocolate in either the microwave or in a saucepan.

stick a toothpick in the date mixture and dip each ball in the chocolate to coat.
place back on the parchment paper.
freeze when done. Keep frozen until you are ready to eat.. Enjoy

 

YUMMNESS!!!! Happy Holiday!!

 

Aside

This will tickle your tastebuds! Curry Butternut squash and shallots

Curry Stacked Butternut Squash and Shallots

stackedsquash

Omg! this is by far one of the best vegetable dishes I have ever TASTED let alone made!  I lost the original recipe and kind of winged it this time.  Necessity is the mother of invention and this little invention is yummy!

Just in time for fall, this butternut squash is elegant, versatile, and easy (after you peel the squash).  I wasn’t quite sure if it was going to be worth posting so i didn’t take as many pictures, but its so easy you will get the point.

Enjoy!  Elyse

Curry Stacked Butternut Squash and Shallots

butternut squash sliced into disks and chopped (the rest of it that is not in disks)

2 shallots sliced

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp curry

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

a pinch of cumin

1/2 tsp of cinnamon

Directions:

After carefully peeling the butternut squash (I use a very sturdy vegetable peeler (one that is not rotating), cut the solid part into slices.  Clean out the seeds and chop the other half.

Saute shallots in olive oil, pepper and himalayan salt.  Add the chopped butternut squash.

sauteingsquash

Add 1/4 cup maple syrup and up to 1 tsp curry.  Stir and add 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup water, and a pinch of cumin.  Also add about 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and cover for about 5 minutes or until soft.

Roast squash rounds in a 9×13 dish at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, brushed with olive oil. Create stacks by placing disk on plate with a small amount of the sauteed mixture.  Another nice touch is garnishing with plain or spiced chopped pecans.

Please leave a comment below!!!  Enjoy!!!

Elyse

The easiest gluten free spaghetti you’ll ever make

Gluten-Free FREE Spaghetti

Nutritious, Delicious, and takes about 10 minutes

(if you have a basic garden it will cost you next to nothing!)

    zukespag

Before you turn the page on this dish, you have to try it.  I’m not the best food photographer, but this dish is worth trying.  My husband, who is not a huge fan of my food experimentations, LOVED this dish.  He is a pretty classic meat and potatoes kind of guy.  He asked if I could make it again!!! (that never happens, especially when its a healthy dish!!  yay! for me)

Sharing with friends:

About every 3 months we get together with a few of our friends to enjoy vegan dishes and its kind of turned into a Vegan Gourmet Club.  It came about by myself experimenting with a plant-based lifestyle.  I find it fascinating what vegan and raw chefs do with plants.  It really is amazing.  Being vegan forced me to look at food in a whole new way, and I was challenged to try new things–new veggies, new preparations, using nuts to make things creamy.  It was really fun!

But, when our friends wanted to get together for dinner, there were very few options in Cincinnati.  I also wanted to challenge them to experiment as well.  Isn’t that what gourmet clubs are about?

None of the people in the group are dedicated vegans (including myself, but I still greatly limit animal products).  However, we have continued to have our dinners and be inspired by each other.

This time I decided to try a raw dish that was inspired by a dish at THE one dedicated vegan restaurant in Cincinnati, The Lovin Hut.  (Seriously, its the only one)  Its raw spiralized zucchini and raw tomato sauce.  My husband RAVED about it and so did everyone else.  So, here it is for all to share!!

There are several recipes online, but I added a secret little twist that gives it an extra special taste.  Here it is:

sauce ingredients

Put these ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor.  cut the tomatoes in half or quarters, use about half of the sundried tomatoes (about 1.5 oz), 2 1/2 cloves of garlic, a handful of basil leaves, and about 1-2 TBSP of high quality olive oil. Add pepper to taste.   Now, for the secret ingredient:  I add about a handful

walnuts  Walnuts are used by non-dairy advocates to give a Parmesan cheese flavor.  You can grind and use to top the dish as well.

NOW, puree all the ingredients until mixed and smooth.

To prepare the zukes:  just cut off the ends and add to a spiralizer.

zucchini  spiralizer

The spiralizer is a fun, easy-to-use tool that can be found on Amazon.com (click here for the link).

When you put the zukes in the spiralizer, it comes out like this:

spiralizerinaction  It takes about 5 minutes to do this.  Your kids could do this while you are prepping the sauce.  (be sure the don’t touch the sharp parts)

I put the dish I’m going to serve the spaghetti on at the base of the spiralizer as shown above, so all I have to do is pour the sauce on and voila!  It’s DINNER!

Sauce:

About 5 small tomatoes or 2-3 regular size

2-3 TBS olive oil

2 cloves of garlic (3 if they are small)

a handful of sun-dried tomatoes (about 1.5 oz)

pepper

a handful of walnuts (shhh…don’t tell my husband) (a lot of vegans use walnuts to add a parmasian cheese flavor)

about a handful of fresh basil leaves

Blend in a high speed blender on “sauces” or in a food processor till smooth and fully blended.

Zucchini Spaghetti:  The easiest  FREAKING way to make spaghetti

take some zucchini (I also used yellow squash)

cut the ends off–blunt

put in spiralizer and have some spiraling fun!!

Pour the sauce (should have a thick consistency) over the top of the spaghetti.

Enjoy!!! I would love to hear what you think!!!

Please leave a comment below!!  Thanks!

Elyse