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.


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.

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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!


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


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.

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!

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.

Make Something Monday: A Healthy Starbucks Iced Green Tea Latte [Vegan]

Last Wednesday was my 29th birthday, which meant a lovely dinner at Karyn’s on Green, followed by an evening of vegan desserts with friends and several rounds of Pac-man & Frogger at our local beercade. Needless to say, much fun was had.

But more importantly [or at least more relevant to today’s post], celebrating a birthday meant receiving a free drink from Starbucks thanks to my trusty rewards card.

starbucks green tea latte iced

As I watched the barista prepare my venti iced soy green tea latte, I observed how incredibly easy it looked: ice, soy milk, & Starbucks’ special blend of matcha powder & way too much sugar were added to my cup, followed by a vigorous shaking.

“I could do that,” I thought, “and with much healthier ingredients too.”

So tonight, I did. And it was delicious.

homemade vegan starbucks green tea latte

No soy. No sugar. Just healthy, green tea goodness.

1 tsp loose matcha powder
approx. 2 c. So Delicious coconut milk [or your favorite soy-free, non-dairy milk]
4-6 ice cubes
agave nectar to taste [I used 2 healthy drizzles, swirled around the jar]

In a 16 ounce lidded jar, combine ice, matcha powder and just enough coconut milk to fill container, leaving about an inch below the rim. Place lid on jar & shake vigorously until all ingredients are combined and a healthy foam forms at the top. If the matcha powder starts to clump slightly, stir about with a spoon until dispersed, then add desired amount of agave & shake one last time. Enjoy while relaxing at home with a baked good or re-place the lid & take it with you to-go [just like the real thing!].

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Quick Bite: Single-serving Gluten-free, Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie

One of my favorite films of all time is Stranger Than Fiction. Aside from being madly in love with the city it’s filmed in, I find the entire plot completely adorable. I particularly relate to Ana Pascal’s character, a connection that’s grown stronger over time. You see, when the film was released in 2006, the only baking I’d ever done was boxed mix brownies. I had no idea that flour came in different varieties and could never have foreseen that I would one day consider baking my absolute passion. Since going vegan [and eventually gluten-free], I’ve opened myself up to a whole world of ingredients, which means that the scene in which Harold gives Ana a box full of flours now makes me swoon more than roses.

i bought you flours.

But before that scene happens, this scene happens:

After a really awful, no good day didn’t your mama ever make you milk and cookies?

I think of that line anytime I’m craving warm & gooey cookies straight from the oven. The only problem is, it’s hard to eat gluten-free cookies straight from the oven. They tend to need a bit of time to cool and set up, otherwise they simply fall apart before they reach your mouth. Not to mention the fact that it’s only the first 2 or 3 cookies from a batch that can be consumed in their warm and gooey state. After that, you’re simply left with the fully cooled, properly set up remainder of the batch…still delicious, but more satisfying for the tea-dunking variety of cookie cravings.

That’s why I was so excited to stumble upon Topped With Cinnamon‘s single-serving cookie recipe. Since these cookies are prepared & served in ramekins, it no longer matters whether or not the gluten-free version has cooled and set. And because they’re individual servings, you’re always guaranteed that fresh-from-the-oven gooeyness.

single serving cookie

Serving Tip: I recommend serving these with a glass of So Delicious coconut milk. I’m not usually a huge fan of pouring myself a big ole glass of vegan milk alternative, but in this case, the combination is absolutely divine. I crave it.

So, after a really awful, no good day have some [coconut] milk & [vegan] cookies. 


1 1/2 tsp coconut oil, melted [+ more as needed to achieve desired dough texture]
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla [feel free to over pour ;)]
1/8 tsp sea salt + more for sprinkling
1/8 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp all-purpose gluten-free flour
1-2 tbsp Enjoy Life chocolate chips

In a small bowl, combine everything but the chocolate chips & stir until thick & doughy.*
*If dough appears slightly flaky, add up to another tsp of coconut oil to moisten.
Fold in chocolate chips & smooth into an oven-safe ramekin [I used a creme brulee dish].
Top with a sprinkling of salt for extra flavor.
Bake at 35oF for 7-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve with coconut milk & eat it hot, straight from the dish.

Make Something Monday: The Best Allergy-Free Brownies Ever

You guys, I’m totally addicted.

Forget the choco-peanut butter dip, never mind the pumpkin pie smoothies, there’s a new favorite recipe in town that I simply can’t stop making: Gluten-free, Soy-free, Low-Glycemic Vegan Brownies!


Now, admittedly, it’s been awhile since I made traditional brownies [I usually prefer the no-cutting laziness of brownie cakes], but these beauties rank in my top 3 favorite recipes ever…including the boxed mixes of my childhood. Based on a Babycakes recipe, they’re gluten-free, soy-free, and, thanks to my new bag of coconut sugar, low-glycemic [when made without the chocolate chips]. The only ingredients that’s even sort of unhealthy in these brownies is the coffee, which helps to bring out the chocolate flavor, but if you’re avoiding caffeine, hot water will work just fine.

breakfast brownies

Confession: I pulled a Practical Magic and had these brownies for breakfast…shhh, don’t tell!


1 c Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/4 c brown rice flour
2 tbsp arrowroot
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 c coconut sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 c melted coconut oil + a touch more for the pan
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp vanilla
1/2 c coffee [or hot water if you’re avoiding caffeine]
1-2 handfuls of Enjoy Life chocolate chunks [optional if you’re avoiding sugar]

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, arrowroot, cocoa powder, coconut sugar, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, & salt.
In a smaller bowl, mix coconut oil, applesauce, vanilla, & coffee.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry & stir until combined.
Lightly grease a 9″x 9″ square pan with coconut oil.
Pour in batter & sprinkle chocolate chunks across top.
Bake @ 325 degrees for 10-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool 10 minutes, cut, serve, & enjoy.

Make Something Monday: Protein-Packed Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes

As a food blogger, I take a lot of photos of my meals.

Yep, I’m one of those annoying instagram users delaying the enjoyment of everyone’s first bite until things are properly documented. For the most part, the only people who actually care about my obsessive food photography are my fellow vegan followers. They enable my addiction with immediate likes and kind comments. Occasionally, however, a food photo catches the attention of more than just the usual suspects. For whatever reason, my brunch this weekend was one of them. After posting what I thought were some rather rough looking shots of my gluten-free creation, I received more than one requests for the recipe.

So, without further ado, here is my creation. Packed with protein thanks to garbanzo beans & a few spoonfuls of peanut butter, this batter comes out quite thick. I had no problem spreading it onto the pan, but if the thickness bothers you, just add a few more shots of coconut milk to thin things out. This recipe makes 5-6 medium-sized, ultra-filling pancakes that were plenty for two and then some. Don’t let their size fool you.

protein peanut butter banana pancakes


1 c garbanzo bean flour
1/4 c brown rice flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/3 c maple syrup
1/3 c So Delicious coconut milk
1/3 c unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 large bananas, mashed
1-2 tbsp peanut butter, creamy
1/2 c Enjoy Life chocolate chunks [or your favorite vegan chocolate chips]

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt & xanthan gum.
In a smaller bowl, stir together mashed banana, maple syrup, coconut milk, applesauce, coconut oil, vanilla, & peanut butter.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredient bowl & stir until combined.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Make pancakes. Enjoy.

Make Something Monday: Thin Mint Chewy Brownie Donuts [Gluten-free, Vegan, Soy-free]

There’s something about the approach of Valentine’s Day that makes me crave donuts. I only know this because it was this same time last year that I made my first batch of Gluten-free Chocolate Cake Donuts. I became so obsessed with them that I even purchased an on sale heart-shaped pan after Valentine’s Day to make the baking process that much more girly.

Then, suddenly, about 10 batches of deliciousness later, I stopped making donuts.

It wasn’t until last week, almost a year later, that I started to feel the craving again. And because it’s the time of year that girl scout cookie posts are running amuck , I decided to make a batch of thin mint donuts. Two cravings, one pastry. Technically these are called “cake donuts,” but this recipe came out so chewy and brownie-like that I’m calling them my Thin Mint Brownie Donuts.

thin mint donuts


1/2 c brown rice flour
1/3 c garbanzo bean flour
1 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 c  + 2 tbsp arrowroot
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/3 c maple syrup
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
3 tbsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp mint extract* [depending on desired minty-ness]
1/2 c hot water
1/3 c melted coconut oil + a touch more for the pan

*Helpful Tip: While I’m always a big fan of over-pouring the vanilla, be sure to use your mint extract sparingly. I almost ended up with toothpaste-flavored donuts before adjusting my measurements to the ones I used above.

For topping:
approx. 1/4-1/2 c. Enjoy Life chocolate chips [or your favorite vegan/soy-free brand]
a few tbsp So Delicious coconut milk

In a large bowl, sift together flours, cocoa powder, arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, salt, & xanthan gum.
Add in maple syrup, applesauce, vanilla, mint, coconut oil, & hot water, then stir until combined.
Using a spoon or melon baller, spoon batter into coconut greased donut molds.
Use spoon or a toothpick to spread batter around & distribute evenly.
Bake for 15-20 minutes @ 325 degrees. Remove from oven & allow to cool.
In a small sauce pan, heat chocolate chips with a few tbsp coconut milk over medium heat. Add more coconut milk as desired for a thinner chocolate glaze.
Once donuts have cooled, remove from pan & dip top-side down into chocolate sauce.
Set aside to allow chocolate to cool & harden. Enjoy.