Sweet Potato Quinoa Bites w/ Vegan BBQ Mayo

Even as a health coach with a pretty clean diet, sometimes a girl just need a little comfort food. It’s rare that I get to participate in a greasy bar-food binge…someone needs to make an entirely gluten-free & vegan bar and I’m there. So for now, I’ll settle on making delicious finger foods at home like these too-good-to-be-healthy sweet potato quinoa bites:

sweet potato quinoa bites

Tastes like a guilty pleasure, but loaded with healthy ingredients.

Ingredients [adapted from Hope for Healing‘s recipe]

For bites:
2 c cooked quinoa [2 c water or vegetable broth w/ 1 c quinoa]
2-3 small sweet potatoes, baked, skinned & mashed
1 c gluten free flour
1/2 c nutritional yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp each of paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, tumeric, cumin, sea salt and black pepper
2-3 green onion stalks, chopped

Prep Work:
Cook your quinoa by boiling 2 cups water or vegetable broth w/ 1 cup rinsed quinoa. Cook until liquid is absorbed.
Bake your sweet potatoes by poking a few holes in their skin with a fork & placing in the oven for 30-50 minutes, or until softened.
Remove skin from sweet potato & mash together in a large bowl.

In the bowl with your mashed sweet potatoes, add cooked quinoa, flour, nutritional yeast, olive oil, spices, & green onions. Stir until combined.
Using your hands or a rounded spoon, form your mixture into bite sized balls & place on a lined cookie sheet.
Bake @ 375 F for 30 minutes or until outer layer is crispy.

For dip combine:
2 parts vegan mayo
1 part BBQ sauce

Serve with BBQ mayo or your favorite dipping sauce. Enjoy.

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To Keep Your Balance You Must Keep Moving

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you’re spending the first day of 2014 doing things that cause you joy. After all, the superstition says that whatever you do on the 1st of the year will set the tone for all the days that follow.

bicycle

For me, I want 2014 to be all about balance. These past few years I’ve developed some extreme habits and quirks that I’ve been slowly breaking down. I’m trying to be less dogmatic and extremist about my health & my relationships. There is good and bad in everything so we shouldn’t expect perfection from ourselves or those around us. It’s all about simply moving forward and finding the fun along the way.

My 1st started out with a little sesame tofu at an asian cafe near my apartment:

sesame tofu

Yum! But lots of soy & fried food [not to mention white rice], not the healthiest way to kick off 2014.

So for dessert, I whipped up a chocolate/cherry superfood smoothie:

chocolate cherry smoothie

Frozen cherries have become one of my favorite smoothie additions & of course they pair perfectly with chocolate.

Ingredients:

1 banana, frozen
5-6 sweet cherries, frozen
1 tsp cacao powder
1 tsp Sun Is Shining green superfood powder
1/2 tsp maca powder
1/4-1/3 can light coconut milk

Place all ingredients in blender & process until smooth. Add more coconut milk for a thinner texture, if desired.
Enjoy.

Happy 2014!

Almond Butter Oatmeal w/ “Caramelized” Bananas & Coconut Sprinkles

It’s getting cold outside in Chicago. Winter has reared it’s chilly head & won’t be leaving us again for months. Frankly, once the temperatures drop below 20 outside, the last thing I want to have for breakfast is an icy green smoothie. So instead, I’ve switched to oatmeal for my go-to morning meal.

Too bad my old favorite apple/cinnamon/date combo can get a little old when it becomes daily occurrence.

That’s why this weekend, I decided to mix things up a bit with almond butter, stove-top oats, and bananas sautéed in coconut oil. Top it all off with a few sprinklings of shredded coconut & I had a tropical-flavored breakfast with still plenty of warmth to send me out into the day. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

almond butter oatmeal with caramelized bananas & coconut sprinkles

For more yummy food photos, follow me on Instagram @michelleshea.

Ingredients

2 c water
1 c gluten free rolled oats
a pinch of salt
1 ripe banana, sliced
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp almond butter
approx. 1 tsp unsweetened, shredded coconut

In a small to medium saucepan, bring 2 c of water & a pinch of salt to boil.
Add oats to water & reduce heat slightly to avoid boiling over. Let cook for 10-20 minutes.
In a medium skillet, heat coconut oil until melted & evenly distributed around pan.
Over medium heat, add banana slices to coconut oil & sauté until soft.
[Note: this is my lazy-girl’s version of “caramelized” bananas, if you’re looking for the real thing, drizzle some agave…or honey if you’re bee-gan…on top of your bananas while they sauté.]
Once your oatmeal has cooked, add your almond butter & maple syrup while still over heat & stir until combined.
Place your cooked oats into a bowl, top with sautéed bananas & sprinkle your shredded coconut on top. Enjoy.

Relish Tray: Daiya’s Havarti-Style “Cheese” Wedge

relishverb. to delight in something that satisfies one’s tastes, inclinations, or desires.

daiya havarti

My name is Michelle & I am a Havarti-aholic. It all started several months ago when, upon release of Daiya’s wedge-style flavors, my friend Diva LaVida recommended that I try their Havarti flavor immediately because it was just that good. However, I rarely purchase vegan cheeses anymore. With so many great vegan restaurants in Chicago, I find that I can get my fill of cheesy flavors without adding it to my grocery list. Cut to last week when I decided to pick up a cheddar wedge as a gift for a recently dairy-free client. As I stood in the aisle at Whole Foods, cheddar in one hand, Daiya coupon in the the other, I decided now was as good of time as any to try this Havarti flavor for myself.

With no gluten-free crackers suitable for cheese at home, I opted to try my wedge on apple slices…and proceeded to devour half of the package in one sitting. Thankfully, my consumption has slowed down slightly [and I’ve learned to pre-arrange my slices on a plate to prevent mindless grazing from the package], but I still should buy stock in Daiya with as often as I’m purchasing this wedge. It’s amazing, guys! And for the most part, it’s pretty neutral on the nutrition scale. With a tapioca flour, palm oil & coconut base, it’s soy-free, gluten-free, & of course, dairy-free without too many unnecessary ingredients or preservatives. Overall, I feel okay about getting my apple a day with a side of this stuff…it’ll still keep the doctor away.

Want to go dairy-free, but you’re not quite sure how? As your health coach, I can help.
click here button

Make Something Monday: Vegan, Gluten-free Sum’Bitches [inspired by How I Met Your Mother]

There are some sources for recipe inspiration that are simply too good to pass up. Last week’s premiere episode of How I Met Your Mother was one of them. If you’re not a fan, first of all, you should be, but you should know that this is the season in which we, the audience finally get to meet the long-anticipated “Mother.” There’s a lot of pressure for this character to be the absolute perfect girl for Ted & her first official scene of the season did not disappoint.

sumbitches scene

And with that scene, my love for the Mother character AND the inspiration for vegan, gluten-free Sum’bitches [with chocolate AND peanut better AND caramel!] was born.

How was my first batch of Mother-worthy comfort food? Legen…wait for it…

…Dary. Legendary!

Ingredients

For the cookies:
2 c Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/2 c brown rice flour
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 c coconut oil
1 c maple syrup
1 tsp molasses
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 c applesauce
3/4 c peanut butter
3/4 c Enjoy Life chocolate chips

In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients [from the flours to salt].
In a smaller bowl, mix together wet ingredients [from the coconut oil to the peanut butter].
Pour wet ingredients into dry & stir until combined.
Fold in chocolate chips until distributed throughout batter.
Spoon tablespoon sized mounds of dough onto a prepared cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until cookies are a light golden color.

For the caramel sauce:
Confession: I made about 3 versions of caramel sauce trying to get the consistency just right, but the recipe I ultimately settled on was heavily inspired by Angela’s over at Oh She Glows.
I recommend you eliminate the trial and error from my version & just go straight to her recipe.

Once your cookies have been removed from the oven, immediately spoon caramel sauce over top of them & let cool. The residual heat from baking will melt the caramel and it will then cool into a nice glaze. Enjoy them on a train with Ted’s future wife…or while watching the rest of HIMYM’s final season.

Make Something Monday: Gluten-free Blueberry Cinnamon Muffins

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that can take a recipe from “Oh, that’s good.” to “Oh My God!” Cinnamon is often one of those things. So, the other day when I was searching for a slightly healthy breakfast, but craving the slightly less healthy blueberry streusel cake, I decided to marry the two & make some cinnamon blueberry muffins [gluten-free, of course].

cinnamon blueberry muffins

Ingredients

2 c Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/4 c brown rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 c coconut oil
2/3 c maple syrup
2/3 c So Delicious coconut milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice or lemon extract
2/3 c blueberries, fresh or frozen

Optional [but delicious!] cinnamon topping: Mix together 1/2 cinnamon, 1/2 coconut sugar.

In a medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients [flours, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, xanthan gum].
In a separate bowl, stir together wet ingredients [coconut oil, syrup, coconut milk, vanilla, lemon].
Combine wet ingredients with dry & stir until smooth. Fold in blueberries.
Pour batter into prepared [read: greased or lined] muffin tins til 3/4 full.
Bake at 325 for approximately 30 minutes, rotating pan & sprinkling cinnamon topping on each muffin at around the 10 minute marker before returning pan to oven.
Enjoy with a little soy-free Earth Balance and/or naturally sweetened strawberry jam.

Health is Beauty Bonus: Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants which are all kind of good for your skin, protecting you from certain cancers, and keeping that healthy glow. Cinnamon, for it’s part is anti-inflammatory, helping to fight the body’s main cause of wrinkles, acne, & disease.

#KaleEveryDamnDay Recipe: Kale Chips on Chili

You guys, I’ve found a new meal obsession & it’s all thanks to the #KaleEveryDamnDay project!

You see, a few days ago, the weather felt a little crisp & I was craving a nice, warm bowl of chili. However, I still hadn’t had my serving of kale for the day so I decided to whip up a batch of kale chips to snack on before dinner. Then, as luck would have it, the chips were ready at the exact same time as the chili…so I did this:

kale chips on chili

It. was. AMAZING!

The salty crunchiness of the kale chips married perfectly with the spicy sweetness of the chili.

Go, try it, & get your glow on!

Recipes Used:
Vegan Chili + Kale Chips

Make Something Monday: Eggplant & Cream “Cheese” Wraps [Vegan, Gluten-free, Soy-free]

Sometimes I forget to post a recipe after making it. It becomes buried in my extensive collection of photos of food, in danger of being lost forever.

Thankfully, there are certain occasions where something jogs my memory, making me re-live how delicious a former creation tasted. In this case, the catalyst was a recent trip to Karyn’s Cooked. Faced with only a few gluten-free options on their delicious vegan menu, I chose the Stuffed Eggplant.

It wasn’t until my first bite that I flashed back to one of Nick‘s amazing kitchen creations from a dinner party months ago: Eggplant & Cream “Cheese” Wraps.

vegan eggplant wraps with cashew cream cheese

Technically a joint creation, it was my idea to make a cashew cream cheese from one of Kris Carr’s recipes to keep things soy-free in addition to gluten-free & vegan. These wraps were addictive!

Ingredients
For cream “cheese” [altered slightly from Crazy Sexy Kitchen recipe]:
2 c raw cashews, soaked for a few hours [optional since this is clearly not a raw recipe]
1/2 c water
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp onion powder
1/4 c parsley, minced
1 1/2 tbsp red onion, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
ground pepper to taste

In a food processor, blend cashews, water, & lemon juice until smooth & creamy.
Transfer to a medium sized bowl & stir in all other ingredients.

For wrap:
1 large egglpant
olive oil
salt & pepper

Slice the eggplant into thin, vertical slices about a quarter of an inch thick.
Drizzle slices with olive oil & sprinkle with salt & pepper.
Grill until eggplant become flexible & slightly soft. [approx. 5 minutes]
Slather one side of the eggplant in cream “cheese” mixture
Roll slices lengthwise into a spiral before placing in an oven-safe pan.
Top with your favorite homemade or store bought tomato sauce.
Cook for approximately 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Enjoy.

Thankful Thursday: Gluten-free Vegan on the Go

For me, today is an especially Thankful Thursday. Nick & I just returned from a 3 day camping trip and I’m feeling particularly grateful to be home and in the vicinity of a hot shower.

camping vegan style

I was also quite thankful to find plenty of healthy, gluten-free & vegan snacks to sustain me while surrounded by hot dogs & s’mores. After stocking up at a suburban Wisconsin Walmart [with a surprisingly good selection], here’s the list of supplies Nick & I purchased for dining in the great outdoors:

garlic hummus
organic baby carrots
Odwalla chocolate chip peanut bars
tri-color bell peppers
corn tortillas
lime juce
Nature’s Path coconut chia granola
So Delicious coconut milk
bananas
& a pack of fajita seasoning

With these supplies, I was able to sustain myself quite well during our vacation. On the road, I kept myself satisfied with baby carrots, hummus, bananas, and Odwalla bars. At the camp site, Nick broke out his trusty zombie survival mess kit to whip up yummy pepper fajitas in a lime juice marinade [+ our camp-mates made some delicious veggie-kabobs for me]. Breakfast consisted of dinner leftovers followed by a bowl of granola with coconut milk. All vegan. All gluten-free.

Who says eating healthy is hard away from home?

Other things I’m thankful for this week:

♥ hot showers ♥ aloe vera [for post-camping redness] ♥ avocados on everything ♥ client testimonials about glowing skin & a bigger bra size ♥ my former/current client Stephanie’s blog about her ongoing health coaching experiences ♥ and as always, Nick Conrad

Vlog: A Rawxies Review [aka my newest snack addiction] + a GIVEAWAY!

As a gluten-free vegan, I’m pretty easily excited by finding just about any store-bought item that fits into my dietary requirements. Depending on the location & circumstance I can find excitement in anything from a rice cake to a well-made, allergy-free cupcake. It’s kind of all relative.

That being said, it’s not often that a pre-packaged gluten-free/vegan food item also excites the health coach in me. Packaging usually means preservatives, additives, & cheap sweeteners which makes my inner health nut crinkle her neti-cleansed nose. That’s why I’m so excited about the product in today’s video review: Rawxies. They’re just pure, wholesome goodness that happen to also be delicious.

Check out what I have to say about these yummy little cookies:

To Enter to Win the Rawxies Sample Pack + “Stop Eating Crap” Sticker:

rawxies

First, if you haven’t already, “Like” Michelle Shea Walker [the blog] on Facebook. This is where the winner will initially be announced so it’s important that you’re on the list of fans to see the news.

Second, post the following tweet on Twitter showing your support for the Rawxies brand & this blog:

“I can’t wait to try @michelleshea ‘s new #healthy snack addiction from @rawxies #raw #glutenfree #vegan”

[Click here to Tweet.]

That’s it! On Friday, July 12th the winner will be selected at random & contacted for their shipping information to receive their prize*. Please be sure to check this blog’s Facebook feed as well as your twitter messages on the day of the announcement to see if you’ve won.

*The winner will have until Friday, July 19th to claim their prize. After that, if no response has been issued, an alternate winner will be selected.

 

Full Disclosure: I was not paid for this review. I just think these cookies are awesome.