Thursday, January 30, 2014

Spicy Asian Tofu Lettuce Wraps

"It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression 'as pretty as an airport.'" - Douglas Adams

Stuck at the Minneapolis airport for my "Christmas" trip home. Forgot how much I hate the cold weather! In honor of California flavors, I'm posting these delicious (spicy!) lettuce wraps. They aren't vegan as is, but they would be if you remove the fish sauce. Excited to see my family, but already ready to be back home to the warm beautiful sun. Bon voyage!

1/3 red onion finely chopped
1 red pepper chopped
1 green pepper chopped
½ cup shredded carrots
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
6 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (vegans and strict vegetarians please skip this!)
2 tablespoons sesame seed oil
5 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoons sriracha
½ head of lettuce
1 container firm tofu
1 tablespoon natural crunchy peanut butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


Step 1: Press firm (or extra firm) tofu between two plates and set a weight on top (I used four cans) for one hour.

Step 2: In a large bowl mix red onion, red pepper, green pepper, carrots, garlic, and ginger. 

Step 3: In a separate small bowl mix sweet chili sauce, fish sauce (if using), sesame seed oil, soy sauce, and sriracha sauce. Set aside.

Step 4: Put olive oil in a large skillet and turn heat on medium. Once the tofu is well pressed, crumble the tofu into the pan and gently toss with the contents of the large bowl. Reduce heat to medium/low, and cook for 20 minutes.

Step 4: Slowly pour sauce onto the tofu mixture. Drizzle the peanut butter. Throw in the cilantro. Gently toss until all pieces are covered. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

Step 5: Let the mixture cool for five minutes and then pour into individual washed lettuce cups. Enjoy!

Makes 12 lettuce wraps

California dreaming!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lite Lime and Pinto Bean Salad

"You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?" - Rumi

Okay, so my quote for this post doesn't have much to do with the food that I cooked. But I just loved it so much, I had to share it. Happy eating!

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 cups cooked pinto beans
1 avocado, sliced in 1/2 an inch to 1 inch pieces
1 tomato, sliced in 1/2 an inch to 1 inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon cumin
juice of 1 lime
pinch of salt
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 leaf kale, torn into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon garlic grapeseed oil (can be substituted for olive oil and crushed garlic)


Step 1: Cook and rinse beans according to package (you can also use canned beans). My pinto package didn't have instructions, so I used wikihow's instructions and they turned out perfectly. Put the beans in a small bowl and pour white wine vinegar over the beans. Let the marinate while you prepare the rest of your salad (about 10-20 minutes).

Step 2: In a large bowl place sliced tomatoes, kale, and avocado. In a smaller bowl mix cumin, lime, and salt. Pour mixture over the tomatoes and avocado. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Step 3: Add onion and cilantro to your large bowl. Toss carefully to not squish your avocado!

Step 4: Drain your beans from the white wine vinegar (or leave to give your salad an extra kick!). Slowly add beans to the large bowl and toss to distribute pieces equally. Drizzle with garlic grapeseed oil. Toss lightly.

Serves 6-8 sides.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Happy and Healthy Fresh Spring Rolls

"Do. Or do not. There is no try." - Yoda

I've always wanted to make fresh spring rolls, but they've always looked so delicate and difficult. But recently I've been wanting to eat more vegan and vegetarian foods, and I've also had a craving for fresh spring rolls for days. I bought some at my local grocery store, but there was one problem--I am not a huge fan of mint. And lately, it seems like every fresh spring roll is just packed with mint! So instead of picking out the mint pieces, I decided to dissected my spring rolls and make them myself with only my favorite ingredients. The result...

Surprisingly easy! My first attempt was a big success (just finished eating my third hahaha). They look way more intimidating than they are to make. So here is my "got it right the first time" spring roll recipe. If you want to make it even easier, skip the peanut sauce and use sweet chili sauce. But trust me, the sauce is worth making!

4 ounces thin rice noodles, cooked and rinsed
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/8 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup shredded carrots
5 leaves of lettuce, torn
1/2 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar
brown rice spring roll wrappers


Step 1: In a large bowl, toss cilantro, green onions, shredded carrots, lettuce and rice vinegar. Toss until thoroughly mixed.

Step 2: Soak your spring roll wrappers according to the directions on the package. When they are flexible and soft, place on a plate. On one side of the wrapper, add 1/2 ounce of the rice noodles, then top with a handful of your fresh mix.

Step 3: Roll ingredients inside the roll wrapper like a delicious, healthy burrito. Let sit for five minutes before eating.

Serves 6-8.

If you've opted to make the sauce, here is the recipe. This is a mild peanut sauce. For more traditional spice, add additional red pepper flakes and cook them longer in the oil.

Peanut Sauce Ingredients:
2 green onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons natural crunchy peanut butter
1 tablespoon organic ketchup
1/2 teaspoon gluten-free Worcestershire sauce


Step 1: In a small saucepan or pot, add chopped onions, garlic, peanut oil, and red pepper flakes. Cook on medium heat for 3-5 minutes.

Step 2: Turn heat down to low and add peanut butter, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. Cool before serving.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

"Berry Good for You" Kale Juice

"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself." - Rumi

Today I had my first vegan pizza. It was kind of an eye-opening experience. Food can taste really good, and reflect my values.

Honestly, my general impression of vegans has been people who live on vegetables and unhappiness. Its hard for me to picture myself being satisfied and eating vegan. But lately, I've really been aware of the impact I have on the world with my food choices. I've also been noticing the impact my food choices have on my body, and my thinking is starting to shift. 

I still don't think I have the discipline to ever go completely vegan, but I'm really interested in cooking more environmentally and animal friendly foods. So, hopefully you will see more vegetarian and vegan gluten-free recipes popping up on my blog. (vegan pizza from Plant Based Pizza)

Speaking of which...yep, I'm still obsessed with juicing. And kale.  This is the fusion of my two obsessions. Perfection in a glass!

7 strawberries
1/3 cup blueberries
1 1/2 cups kale
13 raspberries
6 blackberries

I'm using the Breville juicer pictured below (links to amazon if you want the same one!):

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Adventures in Alternative Health: Cupping

“The core of mans' spirit comes from new experiences.” – Christopher McCandless

Was I attacked by a squid? Abducted by aliens? No…I tried cupping. People who know me well know that I will try anything health related at least once, and I always keep an open mind. So when I won a 50 minute essential oil massage with cupping at “Our Sacred Space Wellness Center” as part of their “12 days of Christmas giveaway,” I was super excited to have the chance to try something new.

So what is cupping? Well, it’s an ancient Chinese art designed to alleviate pain and improve blood flow to key parts of the body. As far as I could find (in my limited internet research), there isn’t any scientific proof that defends cupping’s effectiveness, but the fact that it’s lasted this long as an alternative therapy got me interested.

When I arrived at my Our Sacred Space Wellness Center for my cupping experience, Tish immediately put me at ease. I’ve got to Our Sacred Space Wellness Center before (and received fabulous massages by Lynetta Denniston) so I knew I was going to have a great experience. After an inspiring conversation, Tish showed me what the cups looked like, and how they worked. I was definitely nervous, but a pre-massage melted away my nerves.

The actual cups themselves didn’t hurt in the way that I’d expected, they just felt a little uncomfortable, like a really deep tissue massage. I never felt pain, and if I had, I’m sure Trish would have released the suction. But I wanted the full experience and toughed out any discomfort for the few minutes that the cups were on suction.

In the end, I don’t know if it was the cupping or the amazing massage that Tish gave me, but I felt buttery and tranquil for the rest of the day.

It was a great adventure, but Holy Bruises Batman! For the rest of the day I looked like I had giant hickies on my back. It’s probably because I’m a red-headed, pretty-much-albino girl that my body had this reaction, and it took a few days for them to be mostly faded.  I should say that they didn’t hurt, not even a little. My spouse poked me a few times just to check haha.

Life is a journey, and I’m glad I gifted myself that experience. Every massage I’ve gotten at OSSWC has been both a physical and spiritual experience, and one that I’m always grateful for. I’ll leave you with this wonderful quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: "The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences." 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Kale Garlic Superfood Stir-Fry

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." - Hippocrates

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm totally sucked into the kale trend. It's a powerhouse of nutrients (calcium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C), helps prevent cancer according to the Stanford Cancer Institute, and it tastes pretty darn good. I'm making all sorts of recipes with kale lately, and this is one of my favorites. Enjoy!

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
7 cups baby kale
½ yellow onion, chopped to your preference
2 zucchini
1 yellow squash
2 tablespoons gluten-free chicken broth*
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste


Step 1: In a large (and I mean large to fit all that good kale!) skillet, warm olive oil on low heat. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute.

Step 2: Increase heat to low/medium and add onions to the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes. Add sliced zucchini and yellow squash to the skillet. Continue to cook for 8-12 minutes.

Step 3: When your current stir-fry is almost completely cooked, add gluten-free chicken broth. Turn the heat up to medium. Slowly stir in kale, making sure it gets covered in that garlicy goodness. Cook for 1-5 minutes, depending on how well-done you like your kale. I like mine fully cooked, but you get more nutrition out of the kale if you leave it kind of crunchy!

Step 4: Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the stir fry and cook for 1 more minute. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Serves 4.

*substitute vegetable broth or water to keep it vegetarian

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Californian Avo-eggo

"I hoped that she had chosen California because she thought that was her true home, the place where she really belonged, where it was always warm and you could dance in the rain, pick grapes right off the vines, and sleep outside at night under the stars." - Jeanette Walls "The Glass Castle" 

Avocados are one of the most popular fruits in California. Yep, they're a fruit. Crazy, huh? And they are everywhere here, which is great for me, because I'm completely in love with avocados!

I love their health benefits (high in potassium, high in protein, and full of amino acids!), and I love how their rich and earthy taste.

I've been finding every excuse to make recipes with avocados, and with only three ingredients (if you don't count pepper!), this is definitely one of the easiest avocado recipes I've made. This is quickly become a breakfast staple for me. Hope you enjoy it, too!

1 ripe avocado
one ounce of shredded cheese*
2 eggs


Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut your avocado in half, lengthwise. Twist the avocado to avoid breaking the avocado apart while separating the two halves. Remove the seed.

Step 2: Cut the hole left by the pit a little wider. Its up to you how wide and how much egg you want to bake. In my picture, I was able to fit about half the egg white and the yolk. Don't waste the delicious avocado meat that you've removed. Set it aside and make yourself some yummy guac! Or cook it alongside your avocado to eat.

Step 3: Place your avocado halves in an oven safe dish. Crack your egg into a small bowl. Using a spoon, fill the avocado with the yolk first, and then any additional egg white.

Step 4: Bake the avocado for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with cheese (and pepper, if desired). Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, the egg is cooked to your desired taste. serve while hot.

Serves 2.

*I used Trader Joe's "Surprise Cheddar Cheese" which has sharp, parmeseany goodness flavor. I think most cheeses would taste great though, so feel free to experiment!

Friday, January 10, 2014

"It's Easy Being Green" Juice

It's official, I'm addicted to juicing. This is my favorite green juice combo so far! It's easy, nutritious, and tastes great. So naturally I had to share it with you!


2 apples
1/4 lime (peeled)
1 large stalk of kale, or 2 small stalks
2 stalks of celery

Bottoms up!

I'm using the Breville juicer pictured below (links to amazon if you want the same one!):

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Orange Strawberry Sunrise Juice aka My Tolkien Drink

Here is what I'm juicing tonight:

I'm calling it my Tolkien drink, because to me it looks like a sunrise, and when I think of sunrises I think of this quote:

"the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise"

4 oranges
1 cucumber
10 strawberries

Serves 2-4.

I'm using the Breville juicer pictured below (links to amazon if you want the same one!):

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

24 hour Juice Cleanse Results!

I started my juice cleanse last night, with my last light meal being at 2:30 pm and my first juice at 8pm. I went to bed a little hungry but feeling good, and woke up this morning absolutely starving. A juice and a half later, and I actually felt pretty full. And pretty darn good. I’m not much of a water drinker, so making myself drink water has given my body a nice hydrated feel, unlike my usual soda slog. Speaking of which…

The only thing that is bothering me right now is not having caffeine. I know I’m a full blown caffeine addict, my throbbing headache is a testament to that, and this is teaching me more about how much I need to break that habit. I mean, I can’t imagine how bad that shit is for you considering my body is raging against not having it.  Even after I’m done juicing, I’m definitely cutting down my caffeine!!!

I’ve tried a few different types of juices in my 24 hour cleanse, and I definitely have favorites. I made “mean greens” aka lots of kale, spinach, and cucumbers with granny apples to sweeten. The tomato heavy one I made was interesting…it was flavored with basil and was like drinking an Italian meal. I think I’d like that one better in small doses when I’m sick of the greens! I also made a mostly fruit drink—this one was my favorite. Grapes, blueberries, cucumber, and apples, yum! Although this wasn’t the most nutrient rich or healthy, it certainly satisfied my sweet tooth.

Overall, the cleanse was a cool experience but was severely dampened by my caffeine addiction. The one good thing about withdrawing from caffeine is that my headache was so bad I didn’t notice if I was hungry! I want to try the cleanse again when I’ve weaned myself off of caffeine more.

Making myself some tea (soda and I are in a fight right now) since its 7:15pm and the 24 hours are officially over. But since I have a lot of leftover fruits and vegetables, I’m not stopping yet! I’m going to continue on until the morning on my juice cleanse. I can tell my body is appreciating it, even through the caffeine withdrawal!

I think juicing is definitely something I'll continue. Maybe not long periods at a time, but as a way to continue to improve my nutrition. It was surprisingly easy and yummy!

Italian juice!

I'm using the Breville juicer pictured below (links to amazon if you want the same one!):

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Taking a Juicing Journey

 This weekend I watched two great documentaries, one was "How to Die in Oregon" which I really can't recommend enough, and the other was the inspiring documentary called "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead."

"How to Die in Oregon" really affected me as a nurse, but it was "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" that really got my juices going, pun intended! See, FS&ND is about an Australian man's journey for better health through juicing fresh fruits and vegetables. His body goes under an amazing transformation and, more importantly, he drastically changes the landscape of his personal health (including becoming medication free!).

Usually I'm not a fan of things I think fall into the "fad diet" category. But I really do strive to improve my health (I run a gluten-free blog, for goodness sakes!), and every once in a while I like to try new things to jump start my body.

Some things have stuck with me that I've tried, like meditating, yoga, massage therapy, running ,and eating gluten-free. All these things have had a great, positive impact on my health.

Some things I've tried were duds. I won't name names (I'm looking at you, tapeworms!...just kidding!), but I'm terribly suspicious of anything that makes big promises or quick fixes.

But there is a lot of interesting science behind the effectiveness of juicing and how the nutrients can effectively flood your body. And I don't know about you, but I'm feeling very bogged down from all the holiday food. My belly needs a break.

So I'm basically trying juicing for fun. I've dedicated myself to a 24 hour juice cleanse (which started at 3pm today!). I'm actually really excited because I'm a fan of juice in general, but I'm also NOT excited about not having caffeine. But I think it's worth trying...who knows, it might be my next yoga!

Cheers to you!

I'm using the Breville juicer pictured below (links to amazon if you want the same one!):

Sunday, January 5, 2014

It's Thyme for Chicken!

Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.” - Maya Angelou 

Fun fact: did you know that the word thyme is Greek in origin, and means courage?  Well, I think YOU are courageous for taking steps towards good health by cooking your meals instead of indulging in processed foods today. Your body thanks you!

Even though I love my perfect roast chicken recipe, which you can find here, I do like to spice it up (pun intended, haha) every once in a while and try new things! So here is an alternative roast chicken recipe based on the fantastic flavors of thyme and lemon.

1 tablespon thyme
½ tablespoon lemon juice
½ tablespoon lemon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 ½ cups gluten-free chicken broth
1 yellow onion
1 package baby carrots (can be substituted with any vegetable you'd like!)
1 whole chicken


Step 1: Preheat oven to 425F. In a small mixing bowl add melted butter, olive oil, garlic, salt, lemon pepper, thyme, lemon juice, and olive oil. Mix thoroughly.

Step 2: Remove chicken giblets and rinse chicken. Place chicken in a roasting pan. Gently peel the skin back from the chicken without removing the skin. Using half the mixture, rub the chicken with the mix that you created in step 1. Rub under the skin, over the skin, and in all the crevices for the ultimate chicken experience!  

Step 3: Add gluten-free chicken broth to the remaining half of the spices mixture and stir. Set aside.

Step 4: Cut onion into large chunks. Put one chunk inside the chicken for added flavor, but not the whole onion! Place the remaining onion pieces around the roasting pan. Add carrots to the roasting pan as well.

Step 5: Take the remaining mixture and chicken broth that you set aside and pour it evenly over the vegetables in the roasting pan. Place in oven and cook 80-120 minutes (basting both the chicken and the vegetables half-way), depending on the chicken size and your oven. Remember to cook thoroughly! If you add additional vegetables to stuff your chicken it will take longer to cook.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Crispy Garlic Green Beans

"It's not easy being green." - Kermit the Frog

These green beans are my favorite french fry alternative. I realize that nothing could truly replace french fries, because really, they’re just a convenient way to get ketchup into our mouths, right? But these green beans come close. I've made them in the oven and on the stove-top, and I prefer stove-top just because it's a little easier to regulate the crunchiness!

Personally, I love these when they are extremely crunchy. The more burnt the better, and that is rare for me to say about food!  You can determine your own crunchiness—the longer you cook them, and the more oil you add, the more crunchy they will be. Try making them a couple different times and taste the difference!

1 Tablespoon crushed garlic
2 Tablespoons olive oil
¼ pound of green beans
Salt to taste


Step 1: Add oil and garlic to a pan on medium heat. Saute garlic until it is lightly browned, about 1 minute.

Step 2: Slowly stir green beans into the pan, coating each bean with garlic and oil. Fry green beans, flipping frequently.

Step 3: Continue to fry green beans for 10-15 minutes, or until desired crispiness is reached. Add additional olive oil if necessary.

Step 4: Sprinkle with salt and serve hot!

Serves 2-4.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Favorite Recipes

A few days ago I posted my top recipes from 2012-2013 based on pageviews. Now I'm posting my personal favorite recipes! These are the foods that I just hit the spot every. single. time.

Have a happy and healthy New Year!