Simple Blueberry Breakfast Smoothies

A delicious and refreshing start to the morning

(Vegan, Autoimmune protocol friendly)

Close up of blueberries on a wooden table

The weather has been absolutely frigid for several days now… the kind of cold I can’t seem to shake, even in our cozy home. It seeps up through the tile on the floor, and seems to melt lazily in through our windows at night.

These would typically be the days when bowls of hot steel cut oats appear for breakfast at our house, filled with apples, cranberries, pecans, and chia.

(That sounds like some fairy makes these bowls for us, and they float down through the air to our dining table… just give me some wings…)

But for a short time, oats and nuts and seeds are off the table for me, so I’ve been trying to find a tasty alternative to brighten our mornings.

While this smoothie definitely does not help out with the chill (itself being quite cold), it is absolutely delicious, super healthy, and keeps us full for a surprisingly long time.

We are using coconut milk right now, but as soon as I start eating nuts again, almonds or walnuts and water will replace the coconut milk.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 large leaves organic lacinato “dino” kale, tough center stem removed (I promise, you can’t taste the kale!)

1 organic banana, peeled

2 cups frozen organic blueberries

1 can full fat organic coconut milk

Put all ingredients in the blender, adding water as needed (I usually add about 1/2 – 3/4 of a cup). Blend until smooth and enjoy! This makes plenty for both my husband and I.

What is your favorite healthy breakfast right now?

So much love,

~A

Vegan Lentil Masala

Close up of orange and yellow carrots and a bunch of tomatoes on a table

(GF, oil free, sugar free)

This recipe is adapted from Red Lentil Masala with Spinach from naturallyella.com

This is a meal I would make weekly. It is SO good! SO GOOD. The key is pinch of yum’s masala paste, found here: pinchofyum.com/life-changing-30-minute-masala-sauce

I always have some of this masala paste in the freezer to make cauliflower masala, veggie tikka masala, pinch of yum’s vegetarian meatballs, and before I started the vegan thing, chicken tikka masala. Lindsay was not exaggerating when she called this “life-changing.”

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 “puck” frozen masala paste (about 1/3C.)

1 small red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup diced tomatoes

1 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup lentils

1 cup vegetable broth

1/2-1 teaspoon salt

2 cups fresh spinach, packed

Hot rice

Combine all except coconut milk and spinach (and rice, of course) together in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stirring occasionally, bring to a boil, then add coconut milk, reduce heat, and simmer at least until lentils are soft. Turning down to low and allowing it to sit on the stove for a while is even better. About 30 minutes before serving, cook rice in a separate pan. A few minutes before serving, add spinach to the masala, allowing it to wilt, and stirring to incorporate.

This recipe doubles well and tastes even better the next day!

So much love,

~A

Pasta Bowls!

Close up of tri-color rotini pasta

This has been a fun meal my whole family enjoys. Again, with the bowls. Seriously. Flexible, simple meals free of complaining.

This particular bowl is highly adaptable… choose your pasta: regular, gluten-free, egg, shapes… You can do Alfredo bowls or Marinara bowls, or olive oil and herb bowls, or offer all of those as toppings.

I like to sauté some mushrooms, onions, spinach, shrimp, and fresh tomatoes all separately and with some minced garlic for additional toppings. You can offer some grated Parmesan cheese as well, or even try a vegan Parmesan option.

Serve this with a fresh green salad, maybe some French bread, and just about any human could sit down at your dinner table and find a way to enjoy filling their belly.

Each of the following components can be placed in a serving dish for folks to fill their own bowls. As you fill serving dishes, they can be placed in the oven to keep warm as you sauté the next ingredient. Amounts will vary based on the number of people you want to serve and what those people love to eat. The good news is that leftover bowls are great for work lunches the next day, so when in doubt, make more 🙂

Components of Pasta Bowls:

Pasta of your choice, cooked, drizzled with a bit of olive oil, and stirred through to keep the sticking to a minimum

Alfredo Sauce (recipe below)

Marinara Sauce (recipe below)

Olive oil with oregano, basil, thyme, salt, and pepper (I don’t actually measure here… you do you)

Shiitake, cremini, or baby bella mushrooms, sautéed with minced garlic

Onions, chopped or sliced and sautéed (or, if you have time, caramelized!)

Baby spinach sautéed with minced garlic

Fresh tomatoes, chopped and sautéed with minced garlic

Shrimp sautéed with mince garlic

Grated Parmesan cheese

Vegan Parmesan cheese (recipe below)

For the Alfredo sauce:

In saucepan, melt 4T (1/2 stick) of butter over medium heat. Stir in 1 can of condensed milk and 1/2C. Parmesan cheese, continuing to stir until cheese is melty. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: if you prefer Alfredo sauce that doesn’t separate, add a couple tablespoons (or up to 1/4C.) of flour… simply place flour in the saucepan at the beginning and stir to combine it with the melting butter.

For the Marinara Sauce:

18oz. tomato paste

4-6C. water

2tsp. of each, basil, oregano, and parsley

1tsp. of each, salt and sugar

1/2tsp. thyme

1/4tsp. pepper

1 bay leaf

1/4C. red wine (optional)

Combine all together. This can sit all day on low on the stove or in a crockpot. Taste and season more as desired.

For the vegan Parmesan:

(From Minimalist Baker — http://www.minimalistbaker.com)

Place 3/4C. cashews, 3T. nutritional yeast, 3/4tsp. salt, and 1/4tsp. garlic powder in food processor and process until everything is a fine meal. Store in refrigerator to maintain freshness.

I hope you and your family enjoy pasta bowls as much as we do!

So much love,

~A

The Human Garbage Disposal

Caregiving is complex, both in the reward it offers and in the toll it exacts

Plate of spaghetti Alfredo with Parmesan sprinkled on top

Several years ago I called myself the human garbage disposal… it was sort of in jest, but like all jokes, had a pretty solid thread of truth.

Two of my kids were quite little and not only did I rarely have a moment to myself, I frequently didn’t have time to sit down and eat. I was busy preparing and serving food, cutting it up, and helping my kids eat, only to become the referee, or the bath-giver, or the naptime rocker almost immediately after they were done. When I had a chance to eat, it was what I could grab easily, and since I hate wasting food, it was most often the things my kids hadn’t eaten.

The result was a pretty sad food existence… Not only was I not eating the things I wanted, I had diversely picky eaters dictating the food I prepared.

Don’t get me wrong, I have thoroughly enjoyed a good homemade mac’n’cheese in my day, but we all know that a steady diet of refined carbs and dairy does not a happy body make.

Through the years I have frequently resolved to treat my body better by eating more veggies, less sugar, and only whole grains, but my resolutions have consistently failed in the face of uneaten food that I can’t bear to throw out (hello, awful-day-old-cookies-sitting-out-in-the-open-on-the-cooling-rack-getting-stale). But with the birth of my youngest son a couple years ago, my body decided to stage a sit-in and get my attention.

It started in my hands as I was driving long distances for work: sharp pain around my thumbs. Then numbness and tingling in my hands and up my arms. Then in my feet and legs. My body needed my attention.

“A whole-foods plant-based diet is great,” my doctor said, “try to reduce your stress and get some exercise as well. Yoga would be good.”

So while my doctor is running tests, I am trying to eat better. I cook oil-free vegan food every chance I get and research kid-friendly options for my picky eaters. I throw away more things that they aren’t finishing, and have just about eliminated added sugars and caffeine.

The food part of taking care of my body is going a whole lot better. But the exercise? Not so much.

When does one fit such a thing in? 4am seemed like my best bet. By 5am my middle son is almost always awake. My youngest is a natural night owl, so by the time we outlast him with the bedtime routine I am a virtual zombie, unable to walk up stairs let alone get into some at-home exercise routine from YouTube.

Getting up ridiculously early didn’t work. My body was also telling me it needed sleep, the rarest gem in my life for over a decade. My next idea was to exercise during my toddler’s naps on the days I was home. That went well for about two weeks.

Last Saturday I sat on the couch with my husband and started to cry. “What is the balance?” I asked, tears streaming down my face. “How do I balance taking care of everyone else and taking care of myself?”

Like the good man he is, he listened. He heard the whole thing… all the reasons why cooking is so hard and exercising is even harder… all the struggles to take care of our family and not slowly kill myself in the process.

You know there’s some octopus (maybe all octopuses??) who lays her eggs and spends all she has left nurturing them into being. Then she dies.

Melodramatic me feels like that octopus sometimes… like raising these kids is going to take everything I’ve got. They’ll grow up, move out, and I’ll be dead.

Totally over the top. Untrue.

Maybe.

The honest truth is raising kids is hard. Special needs ups the ante. How do we, as parents, do this well and not die trying? Even better, how do we truly, deeply enjoy the life we are living? I want to thrive!!

But there are many times when taking care of ourselves is in direct opposition to taking care of another. How do we manage that? Is there such a thing as balance?

Caregiving is complex, both in the rewards it offers and in the toll it exacts.

So I come back to breath. I come back to this moment. Today I ate wonderful, healthy vegetables. Today I fit in exercise by playing with my toddler. Today my kids enjoyed their food and, most importantly, they enjoyed being with their mama.

It is not as simple as putting the oxygen mask on my own face first, nor is it as sad as being a human garbage disposal. It is a dance… a moving, flowing creativity of caring for myself as I care for my babies, constantly changing and growing with each other. Rough patches and false starts interwoven with deep connection and overflowing hearts.

We may not be able to make a fixed plan that works like a charm, but we can be attentive to ourselves and our loved ones in each moment and discover new ways for everyone to have all that they need.

So much love,

~A

Vegan Thai Red Curry

(This recipe is adapted from COOKIE + kate)

I LOVE cooking, but anything that gets cooked at my house these days has to meet some really stringent criteria:  it has to be vegan, gluten free, sugar free, quick and easy to make, and delicious enough for my meat and dairy eating husband to also enjoy it.  I have given up on the final one, which is that my kids would love it too.  My 23 year old stepson is up for trying new things any time he is around, and my two year old will usually give things a tiny try, but my 12 and 14 year old kiddos are a completely different story… we’re talking plain noodles, pickles, and potato chips here, folks.  It is not pretty.

This recipe meets all my attainable criteria with flying colors.  It is SO good, SO easy, and SO healthy!  We make it with 4 cups of jasmine turmeric rice, which my 14 year old will consume on a good day.  Everything else gets chopped and thrown in one pot.  The longer it sits on the stove, the better it gets, so if your world is anything like mine, that means you can make it when you have 15 minutes and then forget about it other than the occasional stir.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 cups jasmine rice

2 tsp. turmeric

1 small onion, your pick, I use yellow

2 bell peppers, I like red and yellow for the color

3 carrots

4 good-sized handfuls of fresh baby spinach

2 T. Thai red curry paste (note:  if it is important for you, look for a vegan and GF variety)

2 T. soy sauce (remember the vegan, GF part again, if you want)

2 T. lime juice

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 can (7 oz.) coconut milk

7 oz. almond milk, or the rest of the can of coconut milk, your choice

7 oz. water

Mix rice, turmeric and 4 cups of water in a separate pot.  If making and serving immediately, go ahead and cook the rice.  If making ahead of time, cover the pot and let it sit until 30 minutes before supper time.

Chop the onion, peppers, and carrots into pieces of similar size.  Put all ingredients (other than rice and turmeric) into a pot.  Cover, turn heat on medium low, stirring occasionally.  Once it is cooking well, turn down the heat to low and let it sit, stirring occasionally, until you are ready to eat.  That’s it!

I hope you enjoy this super easy, super healthy dinner as much as we do!  And be sure to check out cookieandkate.com for their original recipe, beautiful pictures, and more awesome whole food recipes!

So much love,

~A

Vegan Thai Red Curry

(This recipe is adapted from COOKIE + kate)

I LOVE cooking, but anything that gets cooked at my house these days has to meet some really stringent criteria:  it has to be vegan, gluten free, sugar free, quick and easy to make, and delicious enough for my meat and dairy eating husband to also enjoy it.  I have given up on the final one, which is that my kids would love it too.  My 23 year old stepson is up for trying new things any time he is around, and my two year old will usually give things a tiny try, but my 12 and 14 year old kiddos are a completely different story… we’re talking plain noodles, pickles, and potato chips here, folks.  It is not pretty.

This recipe meets all my attainable criteria with flying colors.  It is SO good, SO easy, and SO healthy!  We make it with 4 cups of jasmine turmeric rice, which my 14 year old will consume on a good day.  Everything else gets chopped and thrown in one pot.  The longer it sits on the stove, the better it gets, so if your world is anything like mine, that means you can make it when you have 15 minutes and then forget about it other than the occasional stir.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 cups jasmine rice

2 tsp. turmeric

1 small onion, your pick, I use yellow

2 bell peppers, I like red and yellow for the color

3 carrots

4 good-sized handfuls of fresh baby spinach

2 T. Thai red curry paste (note:  if it is important for you, look for a vegan and GF variety)

2 T. soy sauce (remember the vegan, GF part again, if you want)

2 T. lime juice

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 can (7 oz.) coconut milk

7 oz. almond milk, or the rest of the can of coconut milk, your choice

7 oz. water

Mix rice, turmeric and 4 cups of water in a separate pot.  If making and serving immediately, go ahead and cook the rice.  If making ahead of time, cover the pot and let it sit until 30 minutes before supper time.

Chop the onion, peppers, and carrots into pieces of similar size.  Put all ingredients (other than rice and turmeric) into a pot.  Cover, turn heat on medium low, stirring occasionally.  Once it is cooking well, turn down the heat to low and let it sit, stirring occasionally, until you are ready to eat.  That’s it!

I hope you enjoy this super easy, super healthy dinner as much as we do!  And be sure to check out cookieandkate.com for their original recipe, beautiful pictures, and more awesome whole food recipes!