Happy Meatless Monday, friends!
I love sharing #MeatlessMonday recipes, and this one is definitely one of my go-to’s. Aside from the yummy flavors of this recipe, these loaded sweet potatoes are not only easy to make, they’re filling, nutritious and best of all, inexpensive. Plus, loaded sweet potatoes are so easy to change and customize, you can rotate them into your weekly meals without much effort.
- Two sweet potatoes (organic, if possible)
- 1 can of sweet corn
- 1 can of black beans
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 TBS olive oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 avocado, diced (optional, for serving)
- 1 TBS fresh cilantro (optional, for serving)
- Salsa for serving
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
- Under cold running water, wash / scrub your sweet potatoes. Since we’re going to be leaving the skin on, I recommend buying organic sweet potatoes if possible, but if not, just make sure that you’re scrubbing the skin really well to wash off any pesticides.
- Once washed, place your sweet potatoes on to a foil-lined baking sheet. Use a fork to poke a few holes over the surface of each potato.
- When your oven is up to temp, pop your potatoes into the oven and set a timer for 1 hour.
- While your potatoes are baking, pour your corn into a strainer and give it a good rinse under cold water. Once rinsed, pour into a large mixing bowl. Do the same with your black beans and add them to your corn.
- Dice up your red bell pepper and add to corn and bean mixture. Stir everything to combine.
- Next up, drizzle 1 TBS of olive oil over peppers, beans and corn and stir to combine, making sure the oil is evenly distributed.
- Add your garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper to pepper, beans and corn mixture.
- Give everything a good stir and then pour mixture onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Make sure to spread the mixture out over your baking sheet so that everything has room to cook.
- At the 20 minute mark on your timer, pop your veggies and beans into the oven.
- At the 10 minute mark on your timer, take your veggies + beans out to give everything a stir to ensure even cooking.
- When your timer is up, pull everything out of the oven. Set veggies and beans aside. Let sweet potatoes cool for a few minutes until they’re safe to handle. Totally normal if your potatoes are oozing. : )
- Slice sweet potatoes in half length-wise and check the middle with a fork. If you can easily scrape the flesh in the middle, your potatoes are done! If they’re still a little tough, put them back in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Once your potatoes are cooked, scrape the inside flesh a little bit with a fork to make room for corn, beans and peppers. You will definitely leftovers of this mixture! Add it to a salad for lunch or use as a sided dish for another meal later in the week!
- Scoop some of the mixture into each half of the potato and top with diced avocado, cilantro and salsa. Other additional topping ideas: sour cream (if you’re not vegan), diced jalapeño, olives, pico de gallo, etc.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!
What are your favorite ways to make sweet potatoes? : )
If there is one thing I could eat every day for the rest of my life, it’s guacamole. I’m obsessed: the creaminess of the avocado, the tang of the lime juice, the bite from the red onion and refreshing taste of the cilantro make me a big fan of this nutrient-dense dip.
Avocado is an awesome source of healthy fats and is great for promoting healthy skin, heart health and lowering cholesterol. Sweet potatoes aid in digestion, reduce inflammation in the body and help promote the health of our skin. Pair some guacamole with sweet potato chips, and you’ve got a total snack game-changer.
I love guac because it comes together really quickly and easily, so I wanted to share this recipe in case you needed last minute recipe inspiration or ideas for any NYE parties you may be hosting or attending tonight! Check out the recipes below and have a great + safe NYE. <3
- 2 medium avocados
- Juice of 1 lime (if you’re not a big fan of citrus, you can just use 1/2 of a lime)
- 1/2 medium red onion, diced
- 2 TBS fresh cilantro, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 small jalapeño, seeded and diced (optional)
- Cut your avocados in half length-wise, separate the two halves and remove pit.
- Scoop out avocado flesh into a bowl and add salt and pepper.
- Using the back of a fork, mash the avocado so that you have a relatively smooth consistency with some smaller chunks of avocado.
- Add lime juice, red onion and cilantro (and jalapeño if using) and stir until all ingredients are combined.
- Taste test, adding salt and pepper or other seasoning as needed.
Sweet Potato Chips
- 1 organic sweet potato
- 1 TBS olive oil
- 1/4 tsp sea salt or pink himalayan salt (optional)
If you’ve followed my other posts, you’ll know that I LOVE making sweet potato chips and that I swear by this sweet potato chip recipe from Minimalist Baker. She has everything down to a science and these chips always come out perfectly crisp and yummy!
I will warn you that this recipe does take a little time / patience, but they are totally worth it – I promise.
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
- Thoroughly rinse and dry your sweet potato and slice it as uniformly thin as possible (I used my mandolin and it worked perfectly. If you don’t have one, just use a very sharp knife to get the slices as thin and consistent in size as you can).
- Toss slices in 1 TBS of olive oil to lightly coat, then sprinkle with salt. Lay out in a single layer (overlapping a little bit is fine as they’ll shrink in size as they cook) on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for about 2 hours (this is the patience part), flipping the chips once at the halfway point to ensure even cooking.
- Remove the chips once they’re crisp and golden brown. It’s okay if some of them feel a little tender in the middle — take them out and let them rest for at least 10 minutes to continue to crisp up.
- Serve immediately with guacamole
If peas were on your “refuse to eat” list as a kid, I hope you’ll reconsider them as an adult because they are amazing.
Seriously? Amazing? They’re just…peas.
Maybe so, but check it:
- Protein: Green peas are one of the best sources of plant-based protein. 1 cup of peas provides nearly 10g of protein.
- Fiber: Yup, we’re bringing up fiber again. 1 cup of peas gives you nearly 9g of fiber which you know is great for our digestive systems and weight management. The fiber and protein content in peas also help to control blood sugar levels.
- B-Vitamins: Folate, vitamins B6 and B12 are abundant in peas, which help to create red blood cells and in turn, carry nutrients and oxygen to our cells.
- Vitamin C: While your first instinct when you get a cold might be to reach for an orange or orange juice, know that 1 cup of peas gives us 97% of our daily recommended intake of vitamin C.
- Vitamins and minerals: Peas are a really rich source of other essential minerals like calcium, iron, copper, manganese as well as vitamins K and A (great for our eye health).
Peas are super easy to add to soups (split pea soup is a favorite of mine), stir fry dishes, pastas, salads and more. For my fellow #AvocadoToast lovers out there, this recipe is for you:
- 2 slices of bread (I am using sprouted grain Ezekiel bread)
- 1/2 cup peas (if frozen, prepare according to package instructions)
- 1/2 avocado, cubed
- Juice of 1 small lime
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Salt + pepper to taste
- Red pepper flakes (optional)
- Chia + hemp seeds (optional)
- Toast your bread, set aside.
- Place peas, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper into a bowl. Using a fork, mash the peas and mix ingredients together.
- Add avocado and stir to combine, mashing some of the avocado pieces.
- Scoop mixture onto toast and sprinkle with red pepper flakes and chia + hemp seeds.
Day 8 of our #PlantPoweredProtein series brings us to black beans. Black beans are another food that I genuinely love because of their versatility in recipes. From black bean burgers to soups to stews to brownies (yes, brownies!), I love how easy black beans are to cook with, and their extremely mild flavor make them a great addition to almost any recipe. A few other reasons to consider adding black beans into your diet:
- Protein: A 1 cup serving of black beans gives us 15 grams of protein or ~30% of our recommended daily intake.
- Fiber: A 1 cup serving of black beans also gives us 15 grams of fiber, providing more than 50% of the recommended daily intake! Due to their high fiber content, black beans are filling, but their combination of complex carbohydrates and protein also helps fill us up. As Dr. Axe puts it, “The macronutrients found in beans, including fiber, work together to give us a feeling of satiety after eating.”
- Aiding in digestive issues: With their high levels of fiber and protein, black beans are great at helping regulate our digestive systems by helping food move through the digestive tract. They also take longer for our bodies to digest than meat, leaving us fuller, longer. Lastly, because they’re smaller in size as compared to other beans, they’re more likely to be easier to digest.
- Blood sugar control: Because black beans are relatively easy to digest and take our bodies longer to digest, they’re also great a helping us regulate our blood sugar levels, making it less likely that our blood sugar will peak and then crash.
- Improved heart heat: Black beans reduce inflammation and are exceptionally high in soluble fiber, which helps flight heart disease. As fiber removes waste from the body, it helps to reduce inflammation, keeping arteries clear from the build up of dangerous plague.
If you’re like me and love Chipotle, I always enjoy trying to recreate their burrito bowls at home. So today, we’re going to do just that! This is an adaptation of FabLunch’s DIY Chipotle Burrito Bowl.
Cilantro lime Rice:
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 TBS fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 TBS lime juice
- 1 can of organic black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 TBS olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 orange bell pepper, sliced
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Fresh salsa (whatever your favorite may be)
- Cook rice according to package instructions. Before water starts to boil, add salt. Once rice is cooked, placed into a large mixing bowl and add lime juice and cilantro. Mix well.
- Combine all ingredients for garlic beans in small pot over medium heat for five minutes.
- Slice peppers and onion into strips.
- Add olive oil to skillet. Once oil begins to shimmer, add onions and sauté over medium – high heat for 3 – 5 minutes.
- Add peppers to onions and cook for additional five minutes.
- Add salt and pepper and continue to cook until vegetables are soft.
- For serving, divide rice, beans and veggies into two servings and top with desired toppings!
What are your favorite ways to incorporate black beans into your diet?
It’s day 7 of our #PlantPoweredProtein series and we’re going a little nuts on the blog! Today, we’re going to dive into five different kinds of nuts that are a great source of protein / other yummy health benefits as well as a really easy granola bar recipe.
- Almonds promote a healthy heart, support strong bones / teeth and aid in weight loss.
- Protein: A 1.5oz serving of almonds provides over 9g of protein.
- Vitamin E: A 1oz serving of almonds dishes around 37% of our recommended daily intake of Vitamin E and is considered to be one of the best sources for it out there. What’s great about Vitamin E is that it does things like: fights free radicals in our bodies and helps to prevent disease, repairs our skin by improving moisture and elasticity and fights of inflammation.
- Antioxidants: Almonds are a wonderful source of antioxidants, many of which are found in the brown layer of skin.
- Cashews promote heart health, increase our levels of energy, boost brain function and support healthy bones and blood.
- Protein: Cashews offer 6.5 grams of protein per a 1.5 oz serving.
- Blood health: The copper and iron content in cashews are a great combination that help our bodies form and utilize red blood cells, which keep our immune system, bones, nerves and blood vessels healthy and functioning properly. Cashews contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which are essential fatty acids that have been associated with lower levels of unhealthy LDL cholesterol and higher levels of healthy HDL cholesterol. Consuming these healthy fats may help decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Eye health: Everyone knows that carrots keep our eyes healthy, but did you know that cashews do, too? Cashew nuts contain small amounts of zeaxanthin – an important antioxidant – which gets selectively absorbed into the eye and protects our eyes from harmful high-energy light waves like ultraviolet rays in sunlight..
- Awesome “cream” substitute: cashews are used a lot in the plant-based community as a substitute for cream and/or cheese. I have made “cheese” cream sauces, ricotta “cheese”, pesto sauce, dips, etc. using cashews and you can hardly tell the difference! In fact, I think it makes the dishes taste even better.
- Pistachios boost brain health, support blood sugar regulation and weight loss and improve good cholesterol.
- Protein: 9g of protein can be found in 1.5oz of pistachios and 20% of a pistachio’s weight is in protein. Plus, they’re amongst the lowest-calorie nuts.
- Fiber: Pistachios are high in fiber, with over 3g per serving. In other good news for our guts: pistachios can increase the number of butyrate-producing bacteria in our gut, which help reduced the risk of developing digestive disorders and heart disease.
- Vitamin and mineral-rich: Pistachios are rich in essential vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, etc.
- Fun to eat: Plain and simple, pistachios are just fun to eat, and, they’re a great snack for weight loss. Since the process for eating pistachios is a little more involved by having to crack the shell, you’re more likely to recognize when you’re full vs. just mindlessly snacking.
- Walnuts promote heart health, support blood sugar regulation and insulin response and reduce inflammation.
- Protein: 1.5oz of walnuts contain almost 7g of protein.
- Brain function: Not to be weird, but have you ever noticed how a walnut looks like a little brain? It’s no coincidence that they’re great for brain health. Walnuts have a high concentration of DHA (a type of Omega-3 fatty acid), which has been shown to protect brain health in newborns, improve cognitive performance in adults, and help prevent age-related cognitive decline, according to Brain HQ. 1/4 cup of walnuts gives us almost 100% of the recommended daily intake of DHA.
- Cardiovascular benefits: Walnuts can help lower cholesterol, protect us against free radicals and decrease unhealthy inflammation in our bodies.
- Peanuts promote heart health, support brain health and reduce inflammation.
- Protein: Over 10g of protein can be found in 1.5oz of peanuts, with the protein content ranging from 22-30% of peanuts calories.
- Healthy heart: While peanuts may get a bad rap because of their high fat content, they contain heart-healthy fats like monounsaturated fats, which as we’ve talked about throughout this series, are associated with lower cardiovascular risk.
- Essential vitamins and minerals: Peanuts are great sources of biotin, copper, folate, manganese, Vitamin E and magnesium.
A few other things to note…
- Always try to buy your nuts raw (check the bulk food bins!) and either eat them raw or roast them yourself at home. If you’re unable to find raw nuts, look for nuts that are dry roasted. Dry roasted nuts are less likely to have oil or other additives that you don’t want / need. When you’re roasting nuts at home, simply turn your oven on to 350 degrees, place the raw nuts on a baking sheet and roast until they’re a little darker on color and fragrant. No need for oil and you can mix the nuts with any spices after they’re done roasting and are still warm.
- Read your food labels. I’m such a huge advocate for reading food labels because I really want to help people understand just what’s going into their food, and in turn, what they’re putting into their bodies! If you’re going to buy packaged nuts, make sure that the label has ingredients that you recognize and can read/pronounce. A good rule of thumb: the shorter the list of ingredients, the better:
- “Cashews, almonds, sea salt.”
- Avoid options that have an ingredient list like: “Cashews, almonds, peanuts, peanut oil, corn syrup, sea salt, fructose, cornstarch, xanthan gum.”
- Best way to store nuts is in a cool, dry pantry or cupboard. If your pantry is stocked to the brim and you’re out of storage, keep your nuts in the freezer — they’ll stay crunchy and fresh. Always be sure to store them in an air-tight or sealed container.
And now for today’s recipe, I love making granola bars that are simple and easy. These are great for a “grab and go” breakfast on your way out the door or just a snack throughout your day.
- 1 cup packed Medjool dates, pitted
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 ½ cups rolled oats
- ½ cup chopped almonds
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 TBS of chia + hemp seeds
- ½ cup dried blueberries
Line a baking dish with parchment paper, leaving some overhang on the sides for easy removal. Set aside.
In a food processor, mix dates and maple syrup together until they kind of form a paste.
In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia + hemp seeds and dried blueberries.
Add date mixture to the rest of your ingredients and mix until combined (I used my hands to mix everything — much easier to handle!).
Scoop mixture into baking dish and firmly press into an even layer.
Chill in freezer for about 30 minutes until firm. When your 30 minutes are up, take the dish out of the freezer and lift sides of parchment paper to remove. Cut into bars and serve. Enjoy!
What kind of nut is your favorite to eat? 🙂
Welcome to day 6 of our #PlantPoweredProtein series! Throughout this series, one of my objectives has been to be discussing or introducing you to foods that are versatile to cook with or use in your diet and today’s topic is one my favorites for just that: quinoa.
For starters, if quinoa is unfamiliar to you and the name is throwing you off, it’s pronounced “keenwah.” I have used quinoa in tacos, in stuffed peppers, in granola bars, in salads, in breakfast bowls, in veggie burgers…the list goes on. Why do I love it so much?
- Protein: According to mindbodygreen, quinoa is “one of the most protein-rich foods that we can eat” and it’s a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids.
- Fiber: Yes, we’re talking about fiber again…you’re getting the picture of how important it is for us now, right? 🙂 Get this: quinoa has twice as much fiber as most other grains.
- High in Riboflavin (B2): B2 helps to create proper energy production in cells and improves energy metabolism within our brain and muscle cells.
- It’s technically a seed: While quinoa is prepared like a grain, it is actually a member of the same family as spinach, chard and beets. Isn’t that interesting? According to the Bob’s Red Mill brand:
“Quinoa is the seed of the Chenopodium plant, a green leafy plant that sprouts numerous flowers. Occasionally, different parts of the plant are used for medicinal purposes, and the leaves are eaten as a vegetable. Still, quinoa is mostly grown for its seeds which are cooked similarly to rice and can be used in a large variety of recipes.”
- It comes in a variety of colors, all of which impact quinoa differently:
- White quinoa: White quinoa has the lightest taste and a fluffier texture, making it a great substitute for rice dishes.
- Red quinoa: Red quinoa and brown rice have a similar nutty flavor. Red quinoa is often used in baking because it’s a little chewy and hold its shape well.
- Black quinoa: Black quinoa’s flavor is sweet and “earthy.” This variety is also awesome for baking and cooking and is best used in things like muffins and oatmeal.
Quinoa Pro Tips:
- Rinse your quinoa before cooking with it. Even if your package says pre-rinsed, rinse it again anyway. Quinoa contains a protective layer or coating called “saponin.” This coating isn’t dangerous or anything if ingested, but it will definitely make your quinoa taste bitter if it’s not rinsed off.
- The little “tails” that come out after cooking are totally normal. If you have ever looked at uncooked quinoa seeds up close, you’ll notice that they’re oval in shape and have an outer germ layer around each oval.
- When cooked the seed becomes soft, while the outer germ layer remains crunchy and twists outwards away from the seed. Kind of cool, right?
The recipe I’m sharing with you today is actually a dish that I’m taking to a family Christmas party this afternoon! It’s a sweet potato apple quinoa salad by Deb Attinella of Cooking on the Front Burner. I hope you like it as much as I do!
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced 1/4
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 granny smith apple, cored and diced 1/2
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
- 2 cups apple cider
- 2 tablespoons minced red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans, roasted
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon minced shallot
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss the sweet potatoes with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread out onto a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for about 15 – 20 minutes, stirring about every 5 minutes until lightly brown and soft.
- While your sweet potatoes are roasting, prepare quinoa (rinse well) then place cider and quinoa into a medium saucepan; bring to boil; turn to simmer then cover and cook about 15 – 20 minutes (toss your cranberries near the end of the cooking time).
- In a medium bowl add the slightly cooled quinoa, cranberries, sweet potatoes, apples, red onion and toss well.
- In a small food processor combine the maple syrup, shallot, dijon mustard, vinegar and a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Slowly add in the olive oil and mix well.
- Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss.
- Top with the roasted pecans and serve immediately.
What’s your favorite way to have quinoa? 🙂
Not gonna lie: my favorite part about carving pumpkins on Halloween isn’t the actual carving of the pumpkin…it’s the labor of love with the pumpkin seeds! You know, the scooping out the seeds, the separating the seeds from the slimy “guts” of the pumpkin, roasting the seeds in the oven…yum. And, pumpkin seeds have a special place in my heart – my grandma used to always have pumpkin seeds at her house and I loved having them as a snack with her. She taught me how to crack the shells open with my teeth to get to the actual seed, which was always fun to do as a kid…kind of like a game!
If you’re surprised that pumpkin seeds are included in this series for day 5 of #PlantPoweredProtein, check it:
- Protein: A 1oz serving of these guys gives you between 7-9g of protein.
- Zinc: Small but mighty, pumpkin seeds are pretty substantial sources of zinc. According to World’s Healthiest Foods, 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds pack around 23% of the daily recommended intake of zinc for adults.
- Fiber: Fiber has been popping up throughout this series and pumpkin seeds are yet another great source of that.
- Healthy fats: While pumpkin seeds tend to have a higher fat content, the majority are mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which make your heart happy.
- High in antioxidants: Pumpkin seeds contain antioxidants which help our bodies to protect our cells from free radicals, reduce inflammation and even keep us safe from disease.
- High in magnesium: Like fiber, magnesium is essential to our health and is something that many of us don’t get enough of. Magnesium aids our bodies in things like keeping our bones healthy, regulating blood sugar levels and keeping our blood pressure under control.
What to look for when buying pumpkin seeds:
- Check the bulk food bins at your local grocery store for raw or roasted unshelled pumpkin seeds. They tend to be cheaper here.
- If you prefer the pumpkin seeds with the shell, opt for the unsalted varieties. You may find other unwanted / unnecessary additives + too much sodium in the salted kind. Always read your food labels to check the ingredients. 🙂
Ways to incorporate pumpkin seeds into your diet:
- Toss them into your cereal
- Mix them into homemade granola or granola bars
- Sprinkle on top of yogurt
- Eat them alone as a snack
- Incorporate them into pumpkin bread or muffins
- Or, my personal favorite: add them to your favorite salad like this recipe below:
- 1 bunch of organic kale
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 apple, diced (whatever your favorite kind of apple may be)
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
- 2 TBS pumpkin seeds (I’m using raw pumpkin seeds that I got in the bulk good section of my local grocery store)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 TBS of apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp of Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp of maple syrup
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- Throughly wash your kale. Remove stems and place leaves into a bowl with lemon juice.
- Massage the lemon juice into the kale with your hands to start to break down the fibers of the leaves. Set aside to rest.
- Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper.
- Squeeze out the excess water from the kale and place leaves onto plate or in bowl.
- Slice your apple and places pieces on top of your kale. Add your pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds.
- Drizzle with dressing (you’ll have extra dressing so store in fridge to use with another salad) and enjoy!
What is your favorite way to eat pumpkin seeds?