Breadless Toast: Madness, Genius or Just Plain Deliciousness?

Today’s kitchen creation is being served with a confession on the side.

I’m not a bread person.

Did you even know that’s a thing? To not like bread? My secret shame. Nope, can’t even order avocado¬†toast for¬†Sunday Brunch despite my all-consuming avoddiction (P.S. that word DOES¬†exist. Look it up).

But *insert sigh of relief* order is now restored to the galaxy because¬†I’ve discovered a breadless alternative‚ÄĒsweet potato toast. A.K.A. the latest foodie trend currently taking over my life. Forreal.

And if plant-based + gluten-free + downright delectable sounds like the ultimate jam, then prepare for a takeover on your life too.

I rest my case. Times three, in fact. Because you’re about to experience…

sweet potato toast three ways

Just grab a¬†sweet potato, then go culinary crazy¬†with¬†all¬†the¬†fixings. And here’s some inspo to get those creative juices (not to mention, appetite!)¬†flowing.


Ingredients:

sweet potato toast savory ingredients2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 small can Chickpeas

1/2 tsp. Ground Paprika

1/4 tsp. Ground Cumin

1 Juiced Lemon

                             sweet potato toast sweet ingredients

2 tbsp. Chopped Raw Almonds

1 tbsp. Organic Almond Butter

1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

1/2 Sliced Apple

sweet potato toast spicy ingredients

1/2 tsp. Sriracha Sauce

4-5 Spinach Leaves

1/2 Hass Avocado

1/4 tsp. Sea Salt

                                                                                                                   


 Preparation:

  1. Cut the Potato into 3 slices about, 1/4-inch thick, leaving the skin on.
  2. Put each slice in a toaster and cook for 5 minutes, or until the texture becomes pliable but still firm.
  3. Drain and rinse the Chickpeas, then transfer 1/2 into a food processor.
  4. Add the Lemon and 1 tbsp. Olive Oil, then puree this mixture until a hummus consistency forms.
  5. Place the remaining Chickpeas on a foil-lined baking sheet and pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Drizzle them with 1 tbsp. Olive Oil, Cumin and Paprika, then cook in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the Chickpeas become crispy.
  7. Spread the hummus over the first Potato slice and top with the roasted Chickpeas to make savory toast.
  8. Chop the Almonds coarsely and slice the Apple, then spread Almond Butter over the second Potato slice.
  9. Top with the Apples, Almonds and Cinnamon to make sweet toast.
  10. Mash the Avocado until a guacamole consistency forms and spread over the third Potato slice.
  11. Top with the Spinach and Sea Salt, then drizzle on Sriracha to make spicy toast.

Seriously…moment of silent introspection for these wondrous little tubers.

Alright, moment over. Girl’s gotta eat!

Summer Eats, (Slightly!) Slimmed-Down

I say “slightly” because some of the ingredients featured in these recipes aren’t as —¬†errrhealthy as they could be. For example, Brioche is used rather than a more nutritious whole wheat alternative.

But, hey…Sometimes you just gotta have those comfort carbs!

(Alright. I confess: my eating habits are, in fact, subject to slip-ups. You caught me. I’m human, too!)

Anywho, since May is underway, classic warm weather¬†favorites¬†are making their seasonal debut, and in my kitchen, I can’t resist showcasing those fresh ‘n airy flavors all day long — from breakfast to dinner!

Whether you crave¬†“brekky” in bed or a poolside cookout this weekend, here’s what I’ve got in the works to tickle your summertime¬†taste buds:


First, on the menu…Who’s up for¬†brunchin’ it?!

AVOCADO & ALMOND BUTTER PROTEIN PANCAKES

Ingredients:

1/2 Hass Avocado

1 c. Whole Wheat Flour

1 Egg (omit if Vegan)

3 tbsp. Water

1 tbsp. Agave Nectar

1 tbsp. Almond Butter

1 tbsp. Whole Grain Oats

Preparation:

  1. Peel and core the halved Avocado, then transfer it into a small mixing bowl and mash until smooth, as though you’re making guacamole.
  2. Add the Flour,¬†Oats, Water, Egg (unless, of course, you’re vegan!),¬†Agave Nectar and Oats¬†into the mixing bowl, then combine all the ingredients together thoroughly.
  3. Coat a small skillet with non-stick Cooking Spray and pre-heat the skillet on a medium stovetop setting.
  4. Spoon the desired amounts of Batter into the skillet, then cook evenly on both sides, about 2-3 minutes each.
  5. Transfer the Pancakes onto a plate and allow them to cool slightly, then top each pancake with a dollop of Almond Butter.

avocado pancakes


And, now for round two…Did someone say¬†din-din?!

TANGY CUCUMBER, LEMON & DILL SALMON BURGERS

Ingredients:

1 Skinless Salmon Fillet

2-3 Cucumber Slices

2 slices Brioche (I used St. Pierre)

1 Garlic Clove

1 tbsp. Lemon Juice

2 tsp. Lemon Zest

1 tsp. Dried Dill Weed

2 tbsp. Feta (sub. for Cashew Cream if vegan)

1/4 c. Plain Greek Yogurt (check out this non-dairy guide if vegan)

Preparation:

  1. Coat a small skillet with non-stick Cooking Spray and pre-heat the skillet on a medium stovetop setting.
  2. Place the Salmon in the skillet and saute evenly on both sides until the fish is cooked thoroughly, about 5-7 minutes each.
  3. While the fish is cooking, whisk the Yogurt, Garlic, Dill, Lemon Juice and Lemon Zest together in a small bowl, then set aside temporarily.
  4. Place the Brioche slices in a toaster until they turn golden-brown and crispy, then transfer them onto a plate.
  5. Spread a thin layer of the Yogurt Sauce on each Brioche slice and place the Salmon on one of the slices.
  6. Garnish with the Cucumber slices and crumbled Feta (or cashew cream), then place the remaining Brioche slice on top.
  7. Serve this¬†Salmon Burger¬†alongside a tropical fruit medley — such as Mango, Kiwi and Avocado.

salmon burger

(In other news: it just occurred to me that I might be suffering from an Avo-Addiction.)

Spring Has Sprung. Here’s a Smoothie to Celebrate.

With the weather FINALLY¬†warming up and this life-giving season in full, glorious swing, let’s do a smoothie recipe!

Wanna cool off from a day spent soaking up the sun, while treating your body to essential nourishment at the same time? Sure ya do! So, whether you need to refuel after a workout, snack smart between meals, or stay energized and refreshed in the great outdoors, I’ve got a SUPER SMOOTHIE that will satisfy on all cylinders.

This blendiful thirst-quencher is also a ¬†nutritional powerhouse — featuring protein packed edamame, Omega-3¬†enriched avocado, antioxidant fortified papaya, and vitamin loaded spinach.

But, if those health benefits don’t quite tickle your taste buds, maybe the lusciously creamy texture will.¬†Trust me, getting more greens in your diet has never been so indulgent!


Avocado & Edamame Green Smoothie

total time: 5 minutes; yields: 1 serving

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. Spinach (shredded)

1/4 c. Papaya (fresh or frozen, diced)

1/4 c. Edamame (shelled)

1/2 Avocado (peeled & diced)

1/2 tsp. Rolled Oats (whole grain)

1 tsp. Almond Butter (organic)

1 c. Cashew Milk (unsweetened)

1 scoop Greenberry Shakeology Powder (optional, if you’re an avid Shakeology fan, like me!)*

*If you’re looking for a natural protein powder but can’t afford Shakeology, I’d highly recommend checking out Fuel-6¬†from DailyBurn. This supplement is an excellent source of plant-based protein; plus it’s vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free.¬†Can’t beat those stats, right?

green smoothie ingredients

Preparation:

Combine these ingredients together in a blender and puree until smooth.

green smoothieSpringtime just got sweeter. Bottoms up, my fellow smoothie enthusiasts!


P.S.¬†Sharing is caring, so spread the love by re-posting this recipe on social media — or even feature your own blended concoction — with the hashtag #ShowUsYourSmoothie.

10 Ingenious Ingredient Hacks that Equal Smoothie Perfection

Yeaaaah. I’m that girl, who’s best friends with her blender and thinks smoothie-making should be considered the ultimate in culinary expertise.

And, therefore, I don’t just limit myself to the standard, predictable “fruity fare.” Not that I don’t love a classic strawberry-banana combo, but experimenting with unusual flavor profiles is what keeps luring me back to the kitchen.

That’s why no liquid concoction in my repertoire would be complete without the following add-ins. Once blended all together, you might not even notice their subtle, sublime presence; nevertheless, these “superfood” ingredients boost your diet with natural, (mostly) plant-based nutrition without compromising the velvety texture and refreshing taste that you expect from a perfectly-pureed smoothie.

1. Hemp Hearts

hemp hearts

image courtesy of babble.com

 These crisp and nutty seeds are loaded with protein, iron, Vitamin E, whole grains, and Omega-3 & Omega-6 fatty acids for cardiovascular, cholesterol, metabolic, reproductive, and anti-inflammatory health.

2. Rolled Oats

image courtesy of keeperofthehome.org

image courtesy of keeperofthehome.org

This hearty and filling cereal is loaded with fiber, protein, magnesium, zinc, Vitamin E, whole grains, and antioxidants (polyphenols, carotenoids & flavonoids) for cardiovascular, cholesterol, immune, and digestive health.

3. Almond Butter

almond butter

image courtesy of amyshealthybaking.com

 This thick and creamy spread is loaded with protein, calcium, copper, fiber, Vitamin E, magnesium, and Omega-3 fatty acids for cardiovascular, cholesterol musculoskeletal, neurological, nervous, and digestive health.   

4. Leafy Greens

leafy greens

image courtesy of busterbucks.hubpages.com

These fresh and nutrient-dense veggies are loaded with potassium, calcium, iron, Vitamins A, C & K, folate, magnesium, and antioxidants for cardiovascular, circulatory, immune, and respiratory health (serving suggestions: spinach, kale, chard, collards & watercress).

5. Chia Seeds

chia seeds

image courtesy of mindbodygreen.com

These crunchy and micro-sized seedlings are loaded with protein, manganese, magnesium, calcium, zinc, Vitamin B, potassium, and Omega-3 fatty acids for cardiovascular, immune, anti-aging, energy endurance, and metabolic health.

6. Green Tea

green tea

image courtesy of webhealthjournal.com

This light and invigorating beverage is loaded with antioxidants (catechins & flavonoids) and natural caffeine for  cardiovascular, immune, dental metabolic, energy endurance, neurological, and circulatory health (serving suggestion: matcha, or finely powdered green tea).

7. Coconut Water

image courtesy of coconutwaterlife.com

image courtesy of coconutwaterlife.com

This tangy and hydrating beverage is loaded with fiber, electrolytes, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, bio-active enzymes, Vitamin B, and natural sugar (glucose) for digestive, circulatory, anti-aging, and gastrointestinal health.

8. Raw Cacao

image courtesy of iquitsugar.com

image courtesy of iquitsugar.com

This tart and chocolatey powder is rich in antioxidants (polyphenols & flavonoids), fiber, digestive enzymes, Vitamins A, B, C & E, chromium, magnesium, zinc, iron, sulphur, manganese, and Omega-fatty acids for cardiovascular, cholesterol, immune, circulatory, and neurological health.

9. Greek Yogurt

image courtesy of leanitup.com

This rich and satisfying dairy product is loaded with protein, calcium, iodine, potassium, Vitamin B, and probiotics for musculoskeletal, energy endurance, gastrointestinal, metabolic, and neurological health (serving suggestion: unsweetened variety).

10. Avocados

image courtesy of iwashyoudry.com

image courtesy of iwashyoudry.com

 These indulgent and buttery fruits are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, potassium, zinc, copper, iron, phosphorus, folate, and Vitamins A, B, C, E & K for cardiovascular, cholesterol, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and circulatory health.

So, yeah. That’s my arsenal of secret smoothie superbness. Got any of your own faves worth adding to the list? Share in the comments below!

Behold: the Not-so-Average Avocado

I’m an avocado aficionado. And not just because of Chipotle guacamole (Although, real talk: what’s more delectable than a creamy, gloppy mound of Chipotle guac? Uhhh…what is “NOTHING for 200,” Alex!)

But — I digress — there’s¬†more to this superfood than a slathering of lusciousness on top of your burrito bowl.

The avocado is truly a nutritional powerhouse, which may just be the best news you’ve heard all day. Why? Because¬†you can enjoy all that rich texture and flavor without ¬†questioning your life choices afterward.

YAAAAAAAS!!!

avocado good fat

image courtesy of Theresa Garnero — defeatdiabetes.org

This wondrous fruit runs the full spectrum of health benefits, thanks to 15 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, 6 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, and a veritable pantheon of essential nutrients.

For example, in just a single serving, here’s what you’re ingesting:

  • Vitamin C (17% Recommended Daily Value)
  • Vitamin B5 (14% Recommended Daily Value)
  • Vitamin B6 (13% Recommended Daily Value)
  • Vitamin E (10% Recommended Daily Value)
  • Vitamin K (26% Recommended Daily Value)
  • Potassium (14% Recommended Daily Value)
  • Folate (20% Recommended Daily Value)
  • Vitamin A (Trace Amounts)
  • Vitamin B1 (Trace Amounts)
  • Vitamin B2 (Trace Amounts)
  • Magnesium (Trace Amounts)
  • Manganese (Trace Amounts)
  • Copper (Trace Amounts)
  • Iron (Trace Amounts)
  • Zinc (Trace Amounts)

Sorry, butter. You should be so lucky to have these star ingredients on your nutrition label.

So, seeking weight management without compromising taste? Grab an avocado! Dying for a Loreal spokesmodel-worthy mane? Yup. There’s an avocado for that! Or, how about a clear complexion? Yet again…avocado for the win!

Now that’s one all-inclusive superfood, which is why I can’t resist sneaking avocados into practically everything I cook — from Asian to Mexican and even some Italian dishes. Versatility at its finest, folks!

And speaking of versatility, here are 5 reasons to make this oval-shaped stud muffin your body’s new BFF:

1. Antioxidant carotenoid properties reduce fine lines, wrinkles, UV damage and other visible signs of aging, while improving skin’s overall firmness and elasticity.

2. Monounsaturated fatty acid properties improve cardiovascular health by lowering harmful cholesterol and blood sugar levels, which cause heart disease.

3. Slow-burning energy properties promote weight loss due to a high density of healthy fats, which satisfies hunger and provides the body with expendable fuel.

4. Numerous protein and vitamin properties stimulate hair growth, while adding noticeable shine to otherwise lackluster locks when used as a deep conditioner. 

5. Anti-inflammatory properties decrease the risk of arthritis-related pain by alleviating joint irritation, while strengthening bone density with potassium. 

So, on the off-chance that sheer delight of shoveling down guacamole isn’t enough incentive to make avocados a regular fixture in your diet…

Oh, who are we kidding?! Of course, it is!

In fact, I might just bite into one right now. Skin and all.

avocados

Who’s judging?¬†We’ve all been there.

*information compiled by authoritynutrition.com and healthiestfoods.co.uk

P.S. Got a favorite avocado recipe in your repertoire? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Quinoa Quesadillas (now, that’s fun to say!)

It’s Saturday night. Yours truly isn’t exactly in the mood for anything that doesn’t involve Netflix. Thus, I’m gearing up for a low-key evening in the comfort of my own humble abode¬†[read: bed].

But…then hunger strikes. What’s a girl to do?

Crank up the stove and start experimenting, of course!

So, tonight’s creation features a mash-up of flavors a la¬†Mexico and South America. I submit for your culinary seal of approval, my friends:

…drumroll, please

Quinoa Quesadillas!!!

Yup. These vegetarian delights are overloaded with protein, whole grains, and essential plant-based nutrients for a meal that will satisfy both your appetite and taste buds.

To utilize my limited command of the Spanish language (because, you know, just keeping with our theme), they’re fantastico.

Legitimate Spanish-speakers: is that actually a word?

Well, regardless…enjoy this delicious and nutritious recipe from my kitchen to yours!

Ingredients:

quinoa quesadillas ingredients

  1. 2 Whole Wheat Tortillas
  2. 1/4 cup Quinoa
  3. 1/4 cup Mushrooms (chopped)
  4. 1/4 cup Red Onions (sliced)
  5. 1/4 cup Tomatoes (chopped)
  6. 1/4 cup Cotija Cheese (crumbled)*

* Make this recipe vegan by substituting the cheese for Silken Tofu.

Preparation:

quinoa quesadillas preparation 1

quinoa quesadillas preparation 2

quinoa quesadillas preparation 3

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, cook the quinoa according to the package instructions.
  2. While the quinoa is simmering, prep the vegetables and cotija cheese (or vegan substitute).
  3. Pre-heat a small skillet over a medium stove top setting and coat with olive oil cooking spray.
  4. Remove the quinoa pan from heat and drain any remaining water, then set aside temporarily.
  5. Combine the mushrooms, red onions and tomatoes in the skillet, then saute them until softened.
  6. Remove the vegetables from heat after approximately 3-5 minutes and set aside temporarily.
  7. Re-coat the skillet with cooking spray and turn the stove top burner back to a medium setting.
  8. Place 1 tortilla¬†in the skillet and spread the quinoa evenly over it, leaving 1/2″ space along the edge.
  9. Add both the cotija cheese and sauteed vegetables, then place the second tortilla on top.
  10. Cook the bottom tortilla for approximately 2 minutes, or until it sizzles, then flip to the other side.
  11. Allow the second tortilla to cook for the same amount of time before removing from heat.
  12. Once the quesadilla has cooled slightly, cut it into 8 equal-sized wedges and ENJOY, of course!

quinoa quesadillas finished product

TA DA!!!

But wait…there’s more:

Serving Suggestion:

Cored avocado halves — mashed with a fork, drizzled in lime juice, then¬†dusted with just a hint of chili powder,¬†stevia and leftover cotija cheese —¬†make a fabulously bold side for this Latin-inspired dish.

Take Your NYE Gathering from Forgettable to Gourmet

Break out the “Auld Lang Syne,” folks!¬†New Year’s Eve have finally arrived.

In just a few hours, we’ll gather together with loved ones and ring in 2015, while stuffing our faces with a smorgasbord of delightful — albeit predictable —¬†hors d’oeuvres.¬†

But, this time around, why not surprise your NYE guests with a munchable party favor they weren’t expecting, for a change?! Uh huh. Because boring old finger foods are soooo¬†2014.

Here’s a question to ponder: How many buffet stations have you¬†seen¬†that feature homemade sushi???

Well…ahem, yours could!

And it’s much easier than you might think. Follow these straightforward, step-by-step instructions, and you’ll be a sushi-rolling pro before Ryan Seacrest can chant, “3…2…1…HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!”

So, end 2014 on a culinary high note. Serve up a unique, creative and oh-so-tasty appetizer, which will keep everyone doing the yes-this-is-my-third-helping-don’t-judge-me¬†walk of shame right up until midnight.


  • ¬†Required Cooking Utensils:
  1. Bamboo Sushi Mat
  2. Rice Paddle
  3. Sashimi Knife

sushi kit tools

  • Ingredients:
  1. 4 Nori sheets
  2. 1 cup Sushi Rice
  3. 1 cup low-fat Cream Cheese
  4. 1/2 Avocado
  5. 1/2 Cucumber
  6. 4 slices Smoked Salmon
  7. 1/2 cup cooked & peeled Shrimp
  8. 2 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  9. 1/2 tbsp Sesame Oil
  10. 1 tsp dried Dill Weed
  11. 1 tsp Chives
  • Preparation:

1. Rinse the sushi rice thoroughly in cool water, then transfer the rice to a medium-sized saucepan.

2. Pour 1 1/4 cup water into the saucepan, then place it on a stove-top burner and turn the heat up to high.

3. When the water has reached a boiling point, reduce the heat to low, then cover the saucepan.

4. Allow the rice to simmer for approximately 20 minutes, or until the water has absorbed completely (during this process, DO NOT lift the lid off the saucepan).

5. Remove the saucepan from the stove-top burner and allow it to cool for approximately 10 minutes.

6. Stir in the the rice wine vinegar and sesame oil, then set the rice aside temporarily.

sushi ingredients 1

7. While the rice has been cooking, whisk together the cream cheese, dill weed and chives in a small mixing bowl.

8. Peel the avocado and cut¬†it in half (wrap 1/2 in cellophane and place it in the fridge, so it won’t get overly ripe).

9. Slice the remaining avocado half into thin julienne-cut “matchsticks,” then repeat steps 8-9 with the cucumber.

10. Remove the tails from the shrimp, then thinly slice them in half lengthwise.

11. Slice the smoked salmon into 8 small (approximately 2″ all around) square pieces.

sushi ingredients 2

12. Place 1 Nori sheet flat on the bamboo sushi mat, then spread a thin later of cream cheese over it.

sushi before 1

13. Using the rice paddle, spread a layer of sushi rice on top of the cream cheese.

sushi before 2

sushi before 3

14. Arrange the “filler” ingredients, vertically, in 2 rows on top of the rice (I paired cucumber/salmon and avocado/shrimp, but feel free to get creative here!).

sushi before 4

sushi before 5

15. Using the bamboo mat as a guide, tightly roll the sushi into a long tube-like shape, then set this roll aside temporarily.

sushi before 6

16. Repeat steps 12-15 with the other 3 Nori sheets, alternating ingredient combinations to suite your individual tastes.

17. Place these 4 sushi rolls in the fridge between 5-10 minutes, or until they have firmed up slightly.

sushi before 7

18. Take the sushi rolls out of the fridge, then slice them horizontally into disk-shaped pieces, with the Sashimi knife.

sushi before 8

sushi after

(Okay, so my finished product might not earn Brownie Points for presentation, but I can sure vouch for its deliciousness!)

  • Serving Suggestion:

For a wholesome and uber amazing side dish, throw together this easy-peasy “seaweed” saute (I say “seaweed” in quotes because the main ingredient is actually spinach). In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp¬†Sesame Oil¬†on a medium stove-top setting. Add 2 cups Spinach Leaves¬†and cook them, stirring occasionally, until the leaves have thoroughly wilted. Reduce the heat to low, then pour in¬†2 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar (feel free to add more to-taste) and 1 tbsp White Cooking Wine. Allow the spinach to simmer for approximately 5 minutes, continuing to stir occasionally. Remove from the stove-top burner, then sprinkle a generous handful of Sesame Seeds over the spinach before serving.

spinach seaweed