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This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, grain-free, paleo, vegetarian and vegan.

I absolutely love roasted vegetables. Cauliflower provides a great source of Vitamin C, which boosts immune function, as well as Dietary Fiber, which helps in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. The basic roasting technique in this recipe can be applied to any root vegetable and seasoning options are up to you, although salt, pepper and olive oil is simple and delicious.

I like tossing leftover roasted veggies with fresh spinach, leftover cooked grains (such as brown rice or quinoa), and a simple Dijon & lemon vinaigrette. By adding nuts, seeds or beans to the mix, you can get extra protein in as well.

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: 4 servings
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Heads of cauliflower
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Turmeric
  • 2 tsp. Cumin
  • 2 tsp. Chili powder
  • 1 tsp. Yellow mustard seed
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 425° and place a rimmed cookie sheet in the oven while it’s preheating.
  2. Meanwhile, rinse cauliflower and cut into pieces (any size you like, just make sure they’re consistent in size).
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil and all spices.
  4. Toss cut cauliflower in the spice oil and use your hands to make sure the spice oil is distributed evenly.
  5. Remove heated baking sheet from oven and spread the cauliflower evenly on the sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes.

Serve as a side dish with Lentil Dal, or on its own with brown rice, chopped fresh spinach and chickpeas for a complete meal.

Happy Roasting!

-Holly

If you are reading this post, you are probably one of two groups of people. You either know deep down that it’s important to buy organic, but if you were asked to list the reasons, you might not be able to do so, or you are not yet convinced that it’s important to buy organic and are interested in what I have to say about it. Although I feel there are about a million and a half reasons to buy organic, I’ll keep this post short.

Reasons to buy organic:

  • Organic foods have no synthetic fertilizers, no synthetic pesticides or insecticides, no genetically engineered plants or animals… (Um… that means that conventional foods DO have those things. Who wants to eat fertilizer or genetically engineered animals?! Not I!)
  • Organic foods have less pesticide residue than conventionally grown foods and it is well documented that children who eat a predominantly organic diet have lower levels of pesticide residue in their bodies. (Oh the innocent children! Don’t feed them chemicals!)
  • Buying organic can be expensive, so here are the top foods to buy organic, since they have the highest amount of pesticides: celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, kale, cherries, potatoes and imported grapes. Hormone and antibiotic free butter, milk, eggs and meat are good too. Although it can be pricey, the money you spend now to eat better will be far less than what you’ll spend later in life with all the medicine and drug treatments you’ll need because of all the pesticides you consumed.
  • Organic farms are less damaging to the environment and when you buy organic you subscribe to a different kind of environment ethic. Buying organic tells store owners and farmers that there is a demand for organic food.

So there you have it. Moral of the story—take care of yourself. Don’t feed yourself (or the innocent children) chemicals.

Peace, love and pesticide-free food,

Melissa

I love soups, stews and chilies. During cold-weather months, soup is my go-to meal. Not only is it a great comfort food, it can be a great way to get essential vitamins and nutrients to keep your body and immune system strong during the cold and flu season.

Additionally, soup is a great make-ahead meal that can be low in calories and fat, which helps you stay satisfied while working towards those 2013 personal health goals.

Here is my step-by-step guide to making great soups with some basic ingredients and options to utilize items you already have in your pantry and fridge.

Step One: Building the base

For a great tasting soup, I always start with a simple mirepoix, which is a fancy French cooking term for chopped onions, carrots and celery. Adding 3-5 chopped garlic cloves (depending on your taste for garlic), while the mirepoix is sautéing in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil will create a nice flavor base for your soup.

Step Two: Choosing a broth

Depending on your personal dietary choices, the broth type is up to your tastes. I recommend using a low-sodium, organic broth base or homemade stock. The amount also depends on how much soup you want to make. I typically use about 2 quarts of stock.

Step Three: Pick a healthy starch

Potatoes, pasta, and grains (cooked brown rice, farro, barley or quinoa) are great for a hearty soup. Potatoes, pasta and quinoa can be cooked in the soup, but any cooked starch you have on-hand is a good addition and reduces cooking time while utilizing leftovers.

Step Four: Add essential nutrients

Canned whole tomatoes (if you can, get them in a glass jar), with their juices, helps balance flavors while adding lycopene to your diet, which has been shown to be a cancer-fighting agent. Also, adding dark leafy greens like spinach, kale or collards provide essential vitamins such as A, C and K as well as folate and calcium. I just use my hands to lightly crush the tomatoes and after washing my greens, I give them a rough chop and add them to the simmering soup.

Step Five: Pack in protein

Finally, I like adding a simple protein such as white beans, cooked chicken or turkey. Almost any bean or cooked, lean meat is a tasty and hearty addition to your soup.

 

One of my favorite recipes is Rachel Ray’s Tuscan Kale & Farro Soup. I use only 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and add 1 cup of chopped celery and use 1 cup of chopped carrots to incorporate more vegetables.

Happy Cooking,

Holly

This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, vegetarian and vegan.

For those of you who know my husband, you know that he’s quite a trooper. If I’m cooking, he’ll eat whatever crazy vegan creation I am making. He embraces healthy eating (for the most part) and in fact, he is the creator of this recipe, which has become one of my favorites! Also, don’t let the name or the ingredients scare you—as it is quite delicious. For those of you scared of greens, the broccoli or celery flavors are not strong at all. It has a nice, subtle taste and the lemon gives it a welcomed “zing.” I encourage you to use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: ~4 servings
  • Prep Time: ~10 minutes
  • Cook Time: ~30 minutes

Ingredients

  • ~1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 bunches of broccoli (depending on their size)
  • 5-6 stalks of celery
  • 1 box (32 oz) vegetable stock
  • Filtered water
  • A small amount of unsweetened original almond milk (optional)
  • 1 lemon

Preparation

  1. Add olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent ( ~5  minutes).
  2. Chop off ends of celery and pull off any obvious “strings”. Chop broccoli into smaller pieces.
  3. Add celery, broccoli, vegetable stock and water to pot. Add enough water so that the chopped veggies in the pot are covered (after the veggie stock has been added).
  4. Simmer covered on medium heat until veggies are soft (~20 minutes).
  5. Take portions of the soup and add to blender or food processor, blending until a creamy texture is reached.
  6. In the “old” version of this recipe, we would add heavy whipping cream to the soup to thicken it up and add “creaminess” to it. Since cream is no longer a part of our diets, we now use unsweetened almond milk (original) on occasion. It’s personal preference, however, as it’s not a necessity.
  7. Pour soup into individual bowls.
  8. Cut lemon wedges for each bowl, squeezing the juice of one wedge into each bowl. Mix juice in with soup and enjoy!

I can’t wait to hear your feedback on this recipe! It’s one of my favorites and I have to tell you, I’m not a huge fan of broccoli OR celery!

Happy Healthy Eating,

Melissa (+ Juan)

This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, grain-free and vegetarian.

When shopping at my favorite local farm in Austin, I picked up a few baby eggplants and asked one of the farmers for recommendations on the best way to cook these beautiful little gems. She suggested to not cook them at all, but to slice them raw into thin slices to best enjoy they’re sweet, light flavor. Wanting to balance the sweetness of the eggplant, I paired them with quick-pickled onions and arugula for a slightly sour and spicy contrast.

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: 4 servings
  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2-3 baby eggplants, thinly sliced
  • ½ red onion, pickled (see Quick-Pickling recipe below)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 10 oz. washed arugula
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Quick-Pickling Recipe

  • 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup white vinegar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 allspice berries (or ¼ tsp. ground allspice)
  • 5 whole cloves (or ¼ tsp. ground cloves)
  • 1 small, dried chile pepper

Directions for Pickling

  1. In a small, non-reactive saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar, salt, seasonings and chile until boiling.
  2. Add the onion slices and lower heat, then simmer gently for 30 seconds.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  4. Transfer onions and liquid into a far and refrigerate until ready to use.

seasonal summer salad eggplantDirections for Salad

  1. Rinse quinoa and cook according to directions. Let cool.
  2. Toss arugula, eggplant, pickled onion (along with 1 tsp. pickling liquid), quinoa and oil in a bowl.
  3. Add salt & pepper to taste.

I made this salad part of a satisfying meal by serving it alongside baked sweet potato fries. For an extra flavor and protein boost, add shavings of parmesan cheese before serving the salad. Using local, seasonal ingredients like eggplant and arugula are a great way to ensure your getting the most nutrition and flavor from your produce, not to mention the environmental advantages of buying local!

If you like this recipe, try our Grilled Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad.

Happy Eating!

Holly

This recipe is raw, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegetarian and vegan.

Nothing makes me happier than delicious dessert food that I can eat and know I’m also doing something good for my body. And I have to brag for a second, because I didn’t actually make these, my wonderful husband did! The recipe had been laying on the kitchen counter for a while, so knowing that I’ve been wanting to try them he surprised me by making them for me! So thank you Juan and thank you to The Urban Poser for this recipe—it’s delicious!

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: ~12 2″ round cake balls
  • Prep Time: ~10 minutes
  • Cook Time: None, it’s a raw dish
  • Chill Time: ~30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 large carrots, peeled (~ ½ pound)
  • 1 large tart apple, peeled and cored
  • 1¼ cup dried shredded coconut
  • ½ cup chopped raisins
  • ¾ cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger (or fresh grated to taste)
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 Tbsp raw honey
  • 3 Tbsp raw nut butter (almond, pecan, walnut, cashew)
  • Juice from half a lime
  • Raw cocoa nibs for decoration
  • ¼ cup unrefined organic coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey (omit for Vegan option)
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 7 Tbsp raw cocoa (+ another ½ Tbsp to make a drizzle)

Preparation

  1. Finely grate carrots and apple by hand or with a food processor. Press out as much juice as possible using a fine sieve or strainer.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients from the first section of ingrdients (except cocoa nibs) to the carrot/apple pulp and mix well.
  3. Roll the dough into balls (~1 Tbsp worth of dough).
  4. Chill cake balls in freezer for ~30 minutes and prepare the chocolate.
  5. Start with room temperature (liquid) coconut oil (it’s liquid point is around 76°F). In a small bowl, combine the coconut oil, vanilla, honey and cocoa. Whisk together until the chocolate is well combined, no lumps. Depending on the size of your cake balls and the amount you end up with in the end, you may need to double the dipping chocolate recipe.
  6. Using a wood skewer or dipping fork, dip the frozen cake balls into the chocolate. Let some of the chocolate drip off  than allow the chocolate to harden while you hold the stick (it will harden pretty fast), sprinkle a few cocoa nibs or nuts on the top of the cake ball before the top hardens. Note: if you don’t  take the time to let some of the chocolate drip off you may not have enough chocolate to finish all the cake balls. They still taste great with a thick coating, but you will have to make extra chocolate sauce. It takes some practice to make your chocolate go far. If practice isn’t your thing just make extra chocolate sauce. Also, to minimize cracking, leave some space at the bottom of the cake ball without chocolate. If a crack does happen, it is easy to cover it up when you drizzle the chocolate over it later.
  7. For the chocolate drizzle, make the same chocolate recipe as above, but add ½-1 Tbsp more of raw cocoa to increase thickness. Using a spoon or a ‘candy making’ squeeze bottle, drizzle the chocolate in thin lines over the cake ball.
  8. For best results, store cake balls in freezer and remove ~5 min prior to serving. They should be fine for up to ~15 min before starting to soften too much. At that point, the coconut oil will become liquid (at around 76 degrees) and the chocolate will begin to melt. I actually stored these in the refrigerator because I preferred them a bit softer. They were a bit messy, but I also really like messes. 🙂
 Thank you again to The Urban Poser for this recipe, I highly recommend it!

This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegetarian and vegan. Oh and very delicious!

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: ~2-4 servings (depending on whether you’re using it as a main dish or a side dish)
  • Prep Time: ~10 minutes
  • Cook Time: ~30 minutes
  • You could actually cook everything in one skillet if you would like

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Cremini mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp. Vegan butter, split into two skillets
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 2½-3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups organic, fresh chopped spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chopped spinach

Preparation

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp. butter in each large skillet over medium heat (2 T total).
  2. Rinse, dry and chop mushrooms and add to the first skillet. Add onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add rice to second skillet and cook, stirring continuously, coating the rice with butter, for 3 minutes.
  4. Add wine to rice and continue stirring until the liquid is completely absorbed, about 1 minute.
  5. Add broth to rice ½ cup at a time, stirring continuously until all the liquid has been absorbed. The mixture should get creamier as you stir.
  6. When rice is cooked al dente, turn off the heat and stir in spinach and combine the two skillets into one.
  7. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Risotto is a great source of complex carbohydrates. It will super charge your energy levels and will definitely fill you up! It’s also a great “comfort food” meal if you’re in the mood for something creamy and healthy! This is one of my favorite recipes. Enjoy!

I eat organic—no big deal. What is a big deal—spending a pretty penny to do so. I’m serious about my health and I won’t sacrifice eating conventional produce covered in pesticides to save a few bucks. Well, that and I won’t eat conventional because it tastes like crap… but that’s another blog post. The point is—I’ve recently come to the realization that I spend far too much money on groceries.

You may or may not have heard of the whole “co-op produce” phenomenon. I was actually introduced to it just a few short weeks ago. A few friends mentioned going to pick up their “co-op vegetables”. Meanwhile, I stood  there—vegetable-less—wondering what in the world they were talking about. I needed to find out.

Enter Urban Acres.

At Urban Acres, our goal is to provide our community with the very best local and organic foods while supporting Texas farm families and artisans.

After inquiring about these co-op vegetables, it didn’t take me long to sign up for my membership online! Heck, I’ll try anything once! But this actually seemed like a pretty good deal. I signed up for a half share, which means every two weeks I get 15 lbs. of fresh, local, organic and sustainable produce for $30. Did I mention it is local AND organic?! Music to my ears. There’s nothing  I love more than supporting local farmers and businesses. Besides eating organic… but I already covered that. There’s also a yearly membership fee of $50 and a one-time service fee of $14. Cool, I can handle that.

Co-Op Produce
Co-op produce from Urban Acres

Saturday morning I picked up my very first share of co-op produce. It was exciting and I felt proud to be supporting local farmers. I was also thrilled to be saving some hard-earned cash! There are several pick-up locations in the DFW metroplex. My pick-up location is actually about a mile from my house—so close! I signed in, got my bin full of produce as well as an enormous watermelon! The contents of the bin change each pick-up, but in today’s produce included: watermelon, okra, potatoes, tomatoes, figs, onions, zucchini, romaine lettuce, swiss and rainbow chard and arugula. Wow, that’s a ton of produce! Although I don’t have experience with all of these wonderful items, the Urban Acres website provides some great recipe ideas! I can’t wait to try them out!

So far, my experience with co-op produce has been an exciting one! I will keep you posted as my life as a co-op-er continues. Is that a word… “co-op-er”…? Well, it is now! On another note, I encourage you to check your area for co-op produce! Eating healthy is a necessity, but you shouldn’t break the bank in order to do so! Are you paying too much for produce?

Peace, love and organic produce,

Melissa

This recipe is: Gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, vegetarian and vegan.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Brussel sprouts
  • 2 tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste (or garlic salt/pepper)
  • garlic (optional)

 

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Trim the stem ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Halve each sprout lengthwise, then put in a large bowl for mixing.
  3. Drizzle the the olive oil over the sprouts, mix, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer sprouts to a rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring once or twice, until deep golden brown, crisp outside and tender inside, 30 to 35 minutes.
  5. The leaves that are loose will be especially brown and crispy, and are absolutely delicious if you ask me!
  6. Transfer sprouts to a serving bowl and enjoy!

I completed the 21 days of the CLEAN Program a week ago now. For the first two days “post CLEAN”, I decided that wheat would be the first allergen that I would reintroduce into my diet. Unfortunately, on Day 3, I started to come down with a sinus infection. Ugh! All that hard work! Could it be that I actually have a serious wheat allergy? Or is this just bad timing since the seasons are changing, and in our area the temperature swings are +30 degrees in an hour? It’s so hard to say! However, I was determined not to let my 3 weeks of hard work go to waste. Since I couldn’t really tell if wheat gave me any side effects or if it’s just the changing of the weather that is affecting me, I have actually had to continue CLEAN for another week, throughout the sinus infection. I need to be able to introduce one allergen at a time, in order to figure out which trigger symptoms in my body. Unfortunately, I can’t begin this process until this infection is completely gone, after all, you can’t tell if something clogs your sinuses when they’re clogged from the get-go, so it looks like I will be on CLEAN for at least 4.5 weeks before I get to introduce these allergens!

Not only have I resumed CLEAN without interruption, but I actually cut carbs/sugars for a few days in order to starve the bad bacteria in my body. So it has been a ton of veggies for me! I’ve also heeded my chiropractor/muscle activation therapist’s advice, and started taking colloidal silver, olive leaf extract, zinc, garlic, etc. I’ve kept up my probiotics and of course, lots of apple cider vinegar to thin that mucous! Add in copious amounts of rest, lots of water and decaffeinated green tea, and four days later… I’m starting to feel better! I refused to go to the doctor for this, and it’s been tough. Had I gone, I know they would have given me antibiotics and I would probably be running around by now, but the damage I would have done to my lovely clean system I’ve built, would have been devastating to me. So I’ve toughed it out. After all, the purpose of CLEAN is to “restore the body’s natural ability to heal itself.” So I feel like this is the ultimate test! The timing is so ironic. I JUST finished this program. Now let’s see if my body can heal itself! It’s required SO much rest, I am so tired of my couch, but on the bright side, it did force me to complete the online Defensive Driving class I’ve been putting off for long enough now!

I hope to be able to update you next week with reports on the allergen introductions. But first, let’s get these sinuses cleared up! Off to bed I go!