Creamy Chocolate Date Candy

I don’t know what to call these, but for real, they taste like candy. I swear it’s like eating a twix or snickers, or something I remember from childhood. I can’t put my finger on exactly what these taste like, but they taste like a candy bar. I’m sure I’m not the first person to come up with this, but here’s my story: I’m in the final weeks of pregnancy, and I read some studies about the benefits of eating dates for natural cervix dilation and even shortened labor lengths. Debatable sure, but there are a couple of studies out there that made me say, shoot, worth a try! This means eating 3 large medjool dates every day from 36weeks onward. I mean dates are delicious, but they get really old really fast when you eat them every single day! And with my glucose intolerance, I am tasked with eating these instead of other fruit in my diet, and pairing them with some protein/fat to help delay their sugary release into my bloodstream! So I’ve been eating them with a lot of peanut butter, almond butter, pecans walnuts, and pistachios. Lately, I’d say in the last week or so, my craving for chocolate and sweets in general has suddenly skyrocketed, and sticking to my diabetic diet is becoming increasingly difficult. So in my boredom with eating the same old, the fact that I’ve hopefully got only a week left to go, and in light of my intense chocolate cravings, I came up with a chocolatey modification of my typical nut butter/date snack.

Here’s all I did: Cut open several medjool dates and remove the pit. Fill this opening in the middle with peanut butter or almond butter (while both are good, I prefer the peanut butter ones by far!). Then I popped these into the freezer for about an hour. Next I put some 80% dark chocolate into the microwave, stirring about every 10 seconds until melted (for a total of about 40seconds but depends on the amount of chocolate and your microwave). Then I rolled the dates in the chocolate and returned them to the freezer to set. I recommend storing in the fridge to keep everything intact and from melting! These are delicious and decadent, and not diabetic friendly, but if we compare them to a Twix or snickers bar, these are packed full of micronutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, no preservatives or fake foods, and way less refined sugars. So, I call this a win :). YUMMY.

Pumpkin PB Oat Cookies

Another healthy vegan treat! I’m focusing on nourishing foods for my body right now as I approach the end of pregnancy and make plans help my body recover and nourish another person! I know there are some other key ingredients to “lactation cookies” that some swear by, but instead of buying new stuff, I figure I start with foods I know for sure have health benefits, and improve lactation, like oats and flax! Also I used molasses for its iron boosting properties as I’m aware I will need plenty of iron in the postpartum period too! Plus it’s officially fall time, and time to bust out the pumpkin purée! SO I made these chewy pumpkin-y oatmeal cookies that are delicious and body nourishing!

You need:

-1/3 cup pumpkin purée

-1/2 cup peanut butter

-1 tbs flaxmeal+ 3tbs warm water

-1 tbs pumpkin pie spice

-1 pinch salt

-handful of cranberries

-1/4 tsp baking powder

-1.5 cups quick oats

-1/3 cup molasses

Combine all ingredients an drop onto a cookie sheet with a spoon (batter is pretty sticky) and bake at 350 x 10-12 minutes until slight browning around the edges.

Then I drizzled some melted dark chocolate on top because.. why not :D. Enjoy!

Easy Peasy Split Pea Soup

OK I did not take great photos of this, and it really doesn’t photograph well, but it tastes so good, so savory and comforting! And it is SO EASY.

Here I am on week 3 of maternity leave, and to be honest, I rushed all the preparations I wanted to make before baby into the first 2 weeks, due to an urgency I felt that this little boy would come about 2 weeks early! Reason being, both my husband and I were born 2.5 weeks before our due dates! However, we are almost at 39 weeks and little guy is still cozily tucked away, and I find myself with, gasp, free time! So I decided it is time to rebuild healthy habits, both for $$ saving while I’m off work for several months, and for that postnatal nutrition that will hopefully fuel effective breastfeeding! That being said, my energy levels are pretty low, and I know they will be even lower when I’m sleep deprived a few weeks from now, so the goal tonight was an easy recipe I can replicate when I’m exhausted but need hydrating nourishment! This one was pretty darn easy. I used my instant pot and a carton of veggie broth from the store. All you need:

-1 carton (4 cup) of broth of choice

-1.3 cups split peas (i had a mix of yellow and green)

-2 large bay leaves

-3 cups water

-2 large shallots, chopped

-2 cloves garlic, chopped

-1 large stalk celery, sliced

-1 very large carrot, sliced

-salt 1/3 tsp

-pepper 1/3 tsp

-basil/oregano, dash each

-random garlic/herb seasoning, dash

-earth balance/butter/coconut oil for sauté

OK, so all I did was sauté the veggies in some earth balance on the sauté feature on the instant pot for a few minutes until shallots were becoming translucent. Then, I added my herbs/seasoning, carton of broth, water, and split peas. Then I closed the instant pot and put it on bean setting for 20 minutes and used slow release setting. THAT IS LITERALLY IT. And this was so savory and delicious and hydrating, and healthy! I served it with some cornbread I had bought earlier today off the salad bar at Whole Foods, and this meal was SO filling!

I will definitely remember this when I need an easy meal this winter! You could easily add so many other veggies, any type of potatoes, greens, and even some whole grains. Enjoy!

Vegan Pot Pie!

My mom used to make chicken pot pie, and it was our FAVORITE. Most leftovers would sit in the fridge and we would complain about having to eat them another night. But with chicken pot pie, you were lucky if there was a serving or two left in the fridge for breakfast the next day, we would eat it so quickly!! So for years I have wanted to recreate a vegan version, and let me tell you, this is TOO EASY. Just as my mom before me, I used a frozen, store bought crust, some are actually vegan! I found a vegan whole wheat version, and while it is no health food, it is a savory treat! I used a chicken substitute from the Beyond brand, but I would totally make this again with extra firm tofu. In the future I will also work on a healthier homemade crust, but for now, the quick and yummy version 😀

You need:

-1 pie crust (mine came with 2 crusts, one I used as the top of the pie

-1 can full fat coconut milk

-1 onion

-1TBS better than bouillon

-8oz sliced mushrooms

-salt/pepper to taste

-1 zucchini, cubed

-6oz frozen peas

-6oz frozen carrots

-6oz frozen corn

-1 bag Better Than Chicken strips, thawed and cubed

-1TBS corn starch

-1/2 tsp poultry seasoning

Sauté onion and mushroom in a little bit of oil of choice until onions are translucent. Add cubed zucchini and protein of choice (faux chicken or tofu). Sauté for about 3 minutes on medium. Then add 1 TBS better than bouillon and 1 can coconut milk. Stir and simmer, adding frozen veggies last. Cover and simmer about 5-7 minutes until veggies are cooked. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tbs corn starch to thicken sauce. Then pour all ingredients into thawed pie crust. I covered mine with a second pie crust and then cut slips in the top to allow steam to escape. Bake at 375 for approx 45 minutes, checking on the crust to make sure it does not burn. You can always cover the edges with foil if they are cooking faster than the middle. Remove and enjoy!!! This is a rich one, so I always serve mine with a salad, some steamed broccoli, or steamed okra for balance. Enjoy!!!

Soft pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

These were great, so chewy and chocolatey and easy to just keep eating! Fortunately they are pretty healthy overall with a relatively small amount of sugar and  shortening considering how many cookies his recipe yields! Cookies are just so easy to transport and eat without needing a plate or fork, but you can still have your pumpkin taste 🙂  I got the idea for these from CheapLazyVegan, one of my fav vegan youtubers:

https://youtu.be/_O2KZ3v5Suw

You need:

1 can pumpkin purée

1.5 cup blend of oat and buckwheat flour

3/4 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup melted vegan shortening

1 cup coconut sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup soymilk

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1+ cups choc chips (my fav brand is Guittard)

1tsp each baking soda and powder

1tsp apple cider vinegar

Mix wet ingredients well, then stir in dry ingredients, adding chocolate chips last. Roll into little balls (mine were about gumball sized). This made about 30 little “two bite” cookies, baked at 350 for 15 min. When cookies came out of the oven, I pressed each one down with a fork to flatten and make the chocolate all mushy gushy 🙂 Which  is a technical baking term;) Enjoy!!

Butternut squash risotto

I love the holidays as an excuse to try out and come up with new recipes! I know that most of the Fam doesn’t eat plant based, so I wanted to bring a couple vegan dishes to share. I love love love all the squash/pumpkin options this time of year, and what better than a creamy comfort food dish as the weather cools off! So savory with classic thanksgiving herbs like thyme, sage, and rosemary, and a little sweet with the butternut squash and nutmeg! I got the basic idea for this recipe here, but then added a bunch! : https://youtu.be/PvJeAzk_6-0

You need:

1 large butternut squash, roasted in the oven on 350Fx 50 minutes

2 cups dry brown rice

4cups veggie broth

2cups unsweetened soymilk

3 small onions chopped

8 small cloves garlic chopped

Garlic olive oil for sautéing

1tbs each fresh thyme, rosemary, and sage

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1cup nutritional yeast

I used a blender and and a instantpot for this recipe

First I sautéed the onions in my instantpot with the garlic olive oil until sight caramelized, added the chopped garlic and sautéed a couple more minutes. Then I took my roasted squash and scooped out about 2/3 of it and set it aside with 3/4 of the garlic/onion mixture. The remaining squash I cubed and set aside too. Next I threw the brown wife into the pot and covered in vegetable broth and cooked the brown rice on manual for 22 minutes with sow natural release setting. Alternately, just cook your rice as you typically would, just use broth instead of water! Next put your set aside squash/onion/garlic mix into your blender with the soy milk, nutritional yeast, and salt/pepper/nutmeg to taste. Once blended and creamy, add to your cooked rice and continue cooking on low/medium heat. Next throw in your chopped fresh herbs, and lastly your cubed squash. Combine well and serve in a pretty casserole dish. Enjoy!!

9

Savory Red Lentils With Sweet Potato

Man, nutrient dense comfort food, that’s what’s up. The earthy, savory flavor of herbs with the creamy sweet goodness of sweet potatoes makes this a dream. Something about the flavors and creamy texture remind me of thanksgiving, eating this gave me the same cozy smile on my face. While I intended to eat this on rice, I ended up just eating this by itself with a spoon, no regrets. 😋  A mere 1/4 cup of dry red lentils has 15% DV of iron. For those of us wanting to avoid red meat for ethical or health reasons, lentils are a great source of this essential nutrient!


You need:

-1 onion chopped

-2 sweet potatoes cubed

-garlic cloves chopped (I used like 6, but I’m a garlic lover, so 2-4 is probably good)

-1 cup rinsed red lentils

-1 bay leaf

– 1/2 tsp black pepper

-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

-1/2 tsp basil

-1/2 tsp oregano

-1/4 tsp sage

-dash of salt if you want (I forgot it and it was great in my opinion)

-1-2 TBS coconut oil 

I used my instant pot so that this was a 1 pot speedy operation, but you could do the same in a large saucepan with lid on the stove.

Start by heating some coconut oil and then sautéing onions, sweet potatoes, and garlic until onions are somewhat wilted. Then add your herbs and spices, followed by lentils and enough water to just cover the lentils completely. Then set instantpot to 15min on the bean setting or simmer on the stove for 15-20min until lentils are soft. Sweet potatoes should be perfectly soft by then as well. If using stovetop, add water as needed while stirring intermittently. If you have an instantpot, just let it slow release and serve hot! Enjoy!