Picnic Perfect Israeli Couscous

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It’s almost time for Thanksgiving! Whether you are hosting it yourself or just bringing a side dish to the celebration, why not offer your guests something just a little bit unexpected? While I know my dream of throwing a Moroccan themed Thanksgiving will never come to fruition, (my family likes to keep it traditional) I can still sneak in the occasional side dish with some Mediterranean flavors!

This is a great potluck dish because it can be eaten hot or cold. It has big, bright sweet and savory flavors and makes a pretty accompaniment on any plate. I originally created this recipe for an outdoor picnic brunch, hence the name, so as you can see it is a quite the versatile side dish!

Picnic Perfect Israeli Couscous

makes about 10 servings

3.5 cups vegetable broth

1 tbs olive oil

1 1/2 cups Israeli Couscous

1/2 cup orzo

1/2 cup quinoa

1/2 orange bell pepper, finely chopped

zest + juice of one small lemon

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/3 chives, finely choppped

1/3 cup mint leaves, finely chopped

1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped

1/2 cup yellow raisins, roughly chopped

2 tsp red pepper flakes (or adjust to your spiciness preference)

1 tsp turmeric

salt to taste

1 additional splash of olive oil

 

Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the olive oil, couscous, orzo, and quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 10 minutes.

While that’s cooking, get all your other ingredients chopped up. Once the couscous mixture is cooked, stir in all the remaining ingredients. Keep the pot over the heat and stir for a couple minutes to let all the flavors really blend. Serve hot or cold!

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Winter Bliss Bowl

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Winter is coming. Brace yourselves!

Just kidding, it’s still 80 degrees here. But still, the holidays are coming. One of the reasons people tend to get the flu and gain weight around this time of year is that they turn to hot comfort foods as the weather cools. Not to mention the marathon of holiday feasts we lovingly prepare for eachother. This increase in warm bowls of steamy goodness correlates to a direct decrease in fresh, raw, nutrient-dense fruits and veggie consumption. While it’s natural and beneficial to adjust your food choices with the seasons, things can get out of hand- we’ve all been there!

This winter bliss bowl is just the thing to get you the cold-fighting nutrients your immune system craves, while filling that void in your soul that demands potatoes and biscuits and gravy. It comes together in less than 30 minutes, so it’s perfect for a weeknight dinner or a Thanksgiving side dish.  One serving is about 500 hearty calories, 12 grams of protein, and 9 grams of fiber.

Winter Bliss Bowl

makes 2 servings

1 small yam, chopped into little 1/4″ chunks

1 tbs olive oil

a pinch of salt, pepper, paprika, nutmeg, and cinnamon (tiny pinch)

4 big kale leaves, stemmed and julienned (about 3 cups)

2 dates, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup cooked tricolor quinoa

1/2 cup pine nuts

2 green onions, thinly sliced

4 tbs balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the chopped yam, 1 tbs olive oil and spices on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Set aside to cool while you chop everything else.

Combine the kale, dates, garlic, quinoa, pine nuts, and green onions, and baked yam in a big bowl and toss well. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and toss one more time.

For another cozy but healthy salad, try the Harvest Bliss Bowl!

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Tropical Bliss Bowl

Tropical Bliss Bowl

This is a spin off of the avocado mango salad that you can typically find at Thai or sometimes Japanese restaurants. This flavorful version offers a tropical twist with coconut quinoa and a vanilla champagne vinaigrette. I know vanilla sounds a little crazy, but give it a try, and tell me what you think!

Tropical Bliss Bowl

Makes one large serving

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

dash of salt

1/2 vanilla bean pod (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)

4 tbs champagne vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)

1 tbs first cold pressed olive oil

2 tsp agave nectar

1/2 mango, thinly sliced

1 avocado, thinly sliced

2 cups shredded kale (I used Trader Joe’s Cruciferous Crunch)

2 green onions, thinly sliced

2 tbs cucumber, cut into matchsticks

1 tsp raw sesame seeds

Toss the coconut oil with the warm cooked quinoa and a sprinkle of salt and put this at the bottom of your salad bowl. Next, in a small bowl, scrape out the tiny black seeds from half of a vanilla bean pod. Mix in the champagne vinegar, olive oil, and agave nectar. Taste it and adjust if necessary. In a medium bowl, combine the shredded kale, green onions, and cucumber, and toss with the dressing. Then lay this mixture on top of your quinoa. Finally, lay your slices of mango and avocado on top of the salad mixture in an alternating pattern. Finish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. For a lighter salad, you can use butter lettuce instead of kale, and for a Caribbean spin, try adding some cooked black beans. I had a difficult mango so it’s not exactly the prettiest thing in the world, but I promise this flavor combo won’t let you down!

Rainbow Bliss Bowl

Rainbow Bliss Bowl

It’s Saint Patrick’s Day, a great day to taste the rainbow! This salad is fun to make, beautiful to look at, chalk full of healthy nutrients, and magically delicious. You can play with your food like me and make it into a rainbow as shown here, or you can just serve it as a traditional bliss bowl, with quinoa at the bottom and veggies tossed with the dressing on top. It’s pretty uncanny how much the maple-mustard dressing resembles a pot of gold isn’t it? I made the fluffy quinoa clouds by just piling up little tablespoons of cooked quinoa, but you could also make this dish completely raw and use cauliflower florets for clouds.

Rainbow Bliss Bowl

Serves 2 

1 cup of cooked quinoa (or raw cauliflower florets)

10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1/2 cup shredded carrot

1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced thinly

1 small avocado, sliced thinly

2 tbs roughly chopped cilantro

2tbs roughly chopped parsley

1/2 cup purple kale, sliced thinly

1/2 cup purple cabbage, thinly sliced

3 Tbs maple syrup

3 tbs stone ground mustard

Start by scooping little spoonfuls of your quinoa into a pile to form the clouds, then arrange your veggies in neat rows across the plate. In a small bowl, mix together the maple syrup and mustard to make the dressing. After marveling at your lovely creation, pour the dressing evenly over the veggies and dig in. Enjoy with a big mug of green beer. Cheers!

Pot of Gold

Harvest Bliss Bowl

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A good salad is a work of art. While I love a big green salad with every color of the raw rainbow, there is no reason why a salad can’t also be a rich and decadent comfort food, making you feel full and cozy on a cold day. The Harvest Bliss Bowl is just such a salad. With an array of textures and flavors, this sweet and savory bowl is like being wrapped in a warm blanket of yum.

Plus, I have a bonus tip for you about the beloved vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which we all know leads to stronger bones. It also helps prevent cancer, improves your immune system, and prevents aging. If you are eating a well rounded whole foods plant based diet, you are already on your way to having much stronger bones that your dairy drinking friends. Crazy you say? Actually the newest research on dairy has shown that it creates an acidic environment in the body. Your body does not want to be acidic, so it draws calcium OUT of your bones to neutralize the acidity. This is why osteoporosis is so much higher in regions around the world that depend heavily on dairy, like the UK and North America; whereas in places where they do not consume dairy, osteoporosis is almost non-existent. Think about who is telling you that milk ‘does a body good’, the company selling you milk? The government approved food pyramid created by representatives with ties to the dairy industry? Sorry to burst your yogurt bubble guys, but dairy is making swiss cheese out of your femurs.

Feel free to google it on your own. Here’s a  start.

Now back to that bonus tip I started to tell you about! We know that your body can create it’s own vitamin D just by getting a little sunshine, but guess what else does that? Mushrooms! If you leave 100 grams of fresh mushrooms out in a sunny spot, gills up, for 8 hours, they will increase there vitamin D content from 40 IU to 46ooo IU!!! Do you know what the average daily recommendation is? Only 800 IU a day! All the vitamin D you could ever ask for, just waiting to be activated in that cute little mushroom cap. This also means that leaving them out in the sun for even 10 minutes will give them a boost. And on top of that, mushrooms create an alkaline environment in your body, so not only do they not throw your PH off balance, they actually make it better!

I like to make all the parts of this salad ahead of time, then assembly is only a two minute process. This is great even if everything is served cold!

Harvest Bliss Bowl

Makes about 4 servings

for the quinoa:

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup rinsed quinoa

Combine the quinoa and broth in a medium pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, cook for approx. 15 minutes. Fluff and set aside or refrigerate.

for the roasted veggies:

2 portobello mushroom caps (vitamin D turbo-charged preferred) cut into 1/2 inch cubes

8 ounces butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

8 cloves garlic, cut in half

1/2 sweet vidalia onion, roughly quartered

3 tbs olive oil

1/2 tsp each of crushed dried rosemary, dried thyme, black pepper, dried oregano (or just a couple tsp of italian seasoning)

salt to taste

For the garlic croutons:

3 slices crusty bread, chopped into small cubes

1 tbs olive oil

a heavy sprinkle of garlic powder

for the roasted pecans:

1/2 cup raw pecans

2 tbs maple syrup,

salt to taste

1 tsp black pepper

Everything else:

3 cups of rocket arugula

2 tbs first cold pressed olive oil

a little squeeze of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

1 tbs balsamic vinegar reduction per portion, for drizzling (directions for reducing balsamic here.)

Assuming that you have already made your quinoa and it is waiting for you in the fridge, preheat the oven to 400. Toss all the roasting vegetables in a big bowl with the herbs, salt, and olive oil until evenly coated. Lay them out on a foil lined pan. The more you space them apart, the more they will caramelize, the more you cram them together, the more they will steam. I was in a hurry so I crammed, and they still came out great. Put the veggies in the oven and roast for 30-40 minutes, giving them a good stir every 10 minutes.

Reduce the oven temp to 375. In a small bowl toss all of the crouton ingredients until they are well coated. In a separate bowl, toss all your pecan ingredients until well coated. These can go in the oven together on separate sides of a big foil lined roasting pan to save you time. Check on them about every 3 minutes and give them a toss. Both of these items toast up fast and burn easily, so I just commit to standing there watching and tossing until they are perfect, about 8 minutes.

Finally, in another bowl, toss the arugula and oil and lemon juice until well coated.

To assemble, scoop a big pile of quinoa into the bottom of your salad bowl. Top with the arugula, and then scatter the roasted vegetables, pecans, and croutons on top. Drizzle with balsamic reduction or eat as is. Cozy and delicious!

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Sunny Curry Crunch Bliss Bowl

Sunny Curry Crunch Bliss Bowl

Do you like alliteration? Oh good, you do! Great, because just when you thought the title of this post couldn’t get any longer, I thought I’d share that the full description of this dish is the Sunny Curry Cruciferous Crunch Bliss Bowl, with Coconut Quinoa. And it’s C-C-Crazy good! I found a new salad mix at Trader Joe’s that I got probably way too excited about-  the Cruciferous Crunch mix. I was actually feeling silly for how pleased I was, but then the cashier at the register was like, ‘How exciting is this new salad mix?!’, and proceeded to tell me 3 different recipes he’s used it in so far, unsolicited. So at least I’m not completely alone in my enthusiasm. Thanks cashier guy. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, that’s fine, below I’ll tell you how to recreate it. The main thing I got excited about was the 20 minutes of chopping it saves me from. When you eat as much salad as I do, chopping is a big part of your life. This salad dressing is like a sweet and tangy cole slaw dressing, and the slaw part of this bowl itself would also be great in a raw wrap or in a pita.

Sunny Curry Crunch Bliss Bowl

Serves 2

1 cup quinoa, cooked

2 tbs coconut oil

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1 tablespoon curry

1.5 cups of Trader Joe’s Cruciferous Crunch Mix

or

2 brussel sprouts, finely shredded

1/2 cup kale, finely shredded

1/4 cup red cabbage finely shredded

1/4 cup green cabbage finely shredded

about 6 matchstick-size slices each of yellow and orange bell pepper

a sprinkle of raw sesame seeds

1 tbs hemp hearts (don’t leave home without ’em)

Gently heat the quinoa and coconut oil, either in the microwave or on the stove, just enough to melt the oil and warm it through. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir it up to evenly coat the quinoa with the oil. (I say gently because I think it’s wierd to have a piping hot ingredient under a purposefully cool/raw ingredient, but I do like it a little warm) Put this in the bottom of your salad bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix the tahini, vinegar, agave, and curry until well combined. then throw in all your shredded cruciferous veggies and toss to coat thoroughly. Put this on top of your quinoa.

Add the bell peppers and seeds, and voila! Curry coconut bliss.

Curry Quinoa Pilaf

Curry Quinoa Pilaf

Quinoa is such a great little seed. I like to make a huge batch at the beginning of the week and eat it just about every day! It’s a great source of complete protein and fiber. This Curry Quinoa Pilaf makes a tasty side dish, or scoop it on top of a big salad for lunch. I am very picky about curry powder, because every brand seems to have a completely different smell and taste. I don’t like it when the dominant spices are cumin, cinnamon, or anise. I like it more in the turmeric and coriander range. One brand that I really like is Spicely, they make the best curry powder I have tasted lately, and it’s organic.

Curry Quinoa Pilaf

makes about 4 servings

2 tbs coconut oil

1/4 c finely minced red bell pepper

1/4 c finely minced onion

1/4 c finely minced carrot

2 finely minced garlic cloves

2 dates, pitted and finely minced

1/4 c finely chopped walnuts

1 c quinoa, rinsed

2 c vegetable broth

2 tbs curry powder

1 tsp turmeric

salt to taste

After all your chopping, melt the coconut oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat. Once it’s crackling hot, add everything up to and including the walnuts. Stir fry it around for about 2 minutes. You don’t want everything to taste raw, but you don’t want them to be mushy. Set the vegetable mixture aside and fill the same pot with the vegetable broth and quinoa. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook about 12 minutes. Once the quinoa is done, keep the flame on and add the vegetables back to the pot and all the spices, stirring constantly for about a minute or until the spices are well blended with everything else and fragrant. It tastes great cold too!

Kale & Quinoa Bliss Bowl

kale & quinoa bliss bowl

I have a love affair with this particular salad from a little place here in Los Angeles called KindKreme. It’s the best salad that has ever lived. The only problem is that I cannot afford to eat it everyday, and yet I keep going back! So the only solution was to recreate it, and I think I got pretty darn close. I really wish I could get a better picture too, it’s so stunning in person! Now this salad is worth every penny I’ve been spending, because it is truly a labor of love. If you were making this for one night, I’m not going to lie, it would take an hour to throw together. It also seems like quite the unusual combination of ingredients on paper. BUT, my recipe below is something you can do at your leisure on a Sunday, and then you will have everything you need to make a fast five minute salad for the week. I know what I’m asking you to do, gamble away 5 days worth of lunches on the assumption that this is so good, you will want to eat it everyday? But trust me. I’m a professional. A professional salad eater. This salad will feel like the heartiest most flavorful meal you have ever eaten, it will keep you full for a good 6 hours (in a pleasant way, not like a pizza binge way) and yet, and YET, I have lost many a pound eating this salad every single day for a month, so really, it is pure bliss in a bowl.

Kale & Quinoa Bliss Bowl 

makes approximately 7 big bliss bowls

1 recipe for  Spicy Pesto Cashew Creme Dressing:

for the Quinoa:

4 cups water

a sprinkle of salt (to be added each time you make the salad, optional)

2 cups white quinoa (99% of the time I prefer red or tri-color quinoa, but for this, go white)

You know the drill quinoa lovers: rinse your quinoa in a sieve before hand, bring the water and quinoa to a boil in a pot, stir, cover, reduce to low, cook for 10-15 min. Fluff and set aside.

for the Pickled Veggies:

1 big mason jar

1/4 of a purple cabbage, shredded finely

1/2 c shredded carrots

5 parts apple cider vinegar to 1 part agave nectar

Now, these veggies will last you a long time (up to two weeks) and go great on a lot of things, so I’m going to let you choose your mason jar size, fill it about halfway with the vinegar/agave mixture, and then add your shredded veggies. Just make sure the veggies are completely covered. Give it a good shake and refrigerate overnight (or for an hour at least)

for Everything Else:

1 head of green kale

2 tbs olive oil

8 ounces marcona almonds (I like the ones with Rosemary from Trader Joe’s, the original salad uses sweetened almonds, so just find some fancy roasted almonds that make you happy)

1/2 thinly sliced red bell pepper

hemp seeds for sprinkling

Optional: drizzle of hot sauce, just a few dots

Ok, here we go: I like to start with warm quinoa, so if you are pulling it out of the fridge, start with about 1 cup of quinoa, give it a tiny sprinkle of salt, and heat it up, put this at the bottom of your salad bowl.

Next take about 2 kale leaves per bowl, destem, and massage the leaves with the olive oil. If you haven’t been massaging your kale, you have not been living!!! All you do is rub the olive oil onto your finger tips, then literally massage the leaves. You will see that they instantly turn a bright luscious green, as if they have just been steamed. This makes them 10 x easier and more enjoyable to eat, without losing any nutrients from actually steaming. Try it! Next, thinly slice the massaged kale into a thin chiffonade. Add this on top of the warm quinoa.

Now, sprinkle a few of the shredded pickled veggies on top, about 2 tbs. Then sprinkle on about 8 Marcona almonds, the red bell pepper, and a sprinkle of hemp seeds. Finish it off with a hefty drizzle of the Spicy Pesto Cashew Creme. Add a dash of hot sauce if you like.

The drizzled dressing looks very pretty, but another way to do this is to toss the kale with the dressing in a seperate bowl, to really coat every bit, then add it to the quinoa, then add the other ingredients on top.

I know that seemed like a lot, but I promise after the initial prep, you are only ever 5 minutes away from a complete bliss bowl.

Bon Appetit!

Super Granola

supergranolaIt just wouldn’t be a veggie recipe blog without some granola! Usually I don’t really eat breakfast, just a cup of juice or tea. But lately, it has been so darn cold, (I mean by Los Angeles standards) that I feel like I need the extra calories just to brave the frigid weather. I  have been being very lazy and grabbing a granola bar on my way out the door, I don’t even know who bought them (sorry roommate or husband!). A granola bar sounds harmless, but processed packaged food generally is anything but, and so was born the Super Granola. And like me, you probably have at least half of these ingredients lying around anyway. I call this Super Granola because I put just about every conceivable ingredient in here I could think of, and as many super foods as I had on hand. I won’t pretend like this isn’t chalk full of calories and sugar, but hey! It’s the good kind of calories, and the best kind of sugar, packed with manganese and zinc. With 11 kinds of nuts, seeds, and grains, this granola also has tons of protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Not to mention, 1/4 cup serving has about 15% of your daily iron requirement. Plus, when it’s baking, the whole house smells like oatmeal cookies. This would make the perfect pre-workout meal (or gift?) and will keep you full all morning. The ingredients are flexible, omit or add whatever you want. This particular combo was dangerously delicious, but leaving some things out or adding something new won’t hurt. Plus it’s gluten free and will keep for a few weeks in a airtight container. Great for traveling or keeping in your desk at work, if strong will power is on your side.

Super Granola

makes about 14 1/4 c servings

3.5 cups gluten free raw oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1 medjool date, pitted and diced up

1/4 c hazelnuts, chopped

1/4 c pecans, chopped

1/4 c flax seed meal

2 tbs chia seeds

1/4 cup dry quinoa (I used a tri-color variety, any color will do)

2 tbs almonds, chopped

1 tbs cashews, chopped

1/4 cup raw hemp hearts

1/4 cup pepitas

1/4 cup walnuts, choppd

2 tbs raisins

1 tsp Himalayan sea salt

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 cup grade B maple syrup

1/4 cup raw dark agave

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 tb vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325 F. In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients together (all the way up to the spice.) In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients, then add to the dry. Toss well to incorporate. It should be sticky and clumpy but not wet. If it’s not holding together even a bit, add a little more maple syrup. Give it a taste and see if you want more pumpkin pie spice, I didn’t want to be overwhelmed by cinnamon so I kept the amount low here. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and spread the granola on there, mine piled about 1/2 high. This might require a few batches. Put the pan in the over for about 20 minutes, pulling it out at the 10 minute mark to give it a good stir. Many recipes say to leave it in longer; my first batch was beautifully golden at 22 minutes, but burnt at 30, so keep an eye on it! You want it to be a perfect golden color, not brown. Once you pull it out of the oven, carefully press it down into the pan with the back of a fork, which helps the clumpy clusters form, and allow to cool completely, untouched. Once cool, you can break it up into chunks with your hands and put it into an air tight container. Try not to eat the whole pan!!! Seriously, it’s tempting.

Quinoa Collard Wraps

quinoa collard wraps

This is a surprisingly fast meal to put together, and so delicious too. Not to mention, just look at that thing, that is one clean, healthy, nourishing wrap. I made this one with a Pesto sauce, but it is also great with a Thai Peanut Sauce.

Quinoa Collard Wrap

(Makes 1-2 wraps)

1 cup tricolor quinoa (you’ll have some leftovers)

2 cups water

5 or 6 collard leaves, stems carefully removed, try to find leaves without tears

1/2 avocado, finely sliced

1/2 cup kale, minced

1/8 of a bell pepper, finely sliced

2 tbs coconut oil

1 tsp turmeric

salt to taste

Rinse your quinoa and combine it with the two cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to simmer and cover for 15 min. While quinoa is cooking, lay out your collard leaves so that they are overlapping, you want about two layers thick to roughly form the size of a tortilla. On one half of your collard ‘tortilla’ lay out the avocado slices and smash down slightly, this is really what binds everything together. Add the kale, peppers and Pesto. Once the quinoa is done cooking, add the coconut oil and turmeric and salt and stir thoroughly. Scoop a small mound of quinoa onto the other ingredients- you want all the filling to form a sort or log shaped mound near one edge of the collards. Then very carefully start rolling it up and tucking in the ends as best you can. It ain’t that easy. Cut it in half and serve!

Pepita Lemon Pesto

(Makes about 2 servings as a dressing)

1 cup basil leaves

4 cloves garlic

4 tbs olive oil

salt and pepper

1/3 cup raw pepitas

juice from 1/2 lemon

1.5 tbs agave nectar

Combine everything in a food processor and blend until smooth. You might need to add more olive oil as you go. The raw garlic makes this mighty spicy!

My other favorite sauce is Thai Peanut Sauce, this sauce makes an EXCELLENT dip, spread, dressing, you name it. It can be made completely raw as well. Play around with the amounts of each ingredient to get the consistency you are going for. Oh yeah, and I should probably mention, this is a peanut free sauce! I like to make it with raw almond butter, healthier and tastes just as good!

Thai Peanut Sauce

(makes about 2 servings as a dressing)

2 tbs almond butter

1 tbs agave

1 tbs chile garlic paste (same brand that makes Sriracha, or make your own, following this recipe)

1 tbs soy sauce or nama shoyu

stir all ingredients together and enjoy!