Coconut + Peppermint Patties

IMG_3704This recipe has been on my radar for awhile. Peppermint Patties have always been a favorite of mine, but I don’t love the ingredients that make them up.  Thankfully there is a healthier alternative, making my own. Same satisfying taste, but with ingredients you can feel confident about. My kind of dessert. Store these in the fridge or freezer to ensure the chocolate stays hard. Although there is a good chance they will all be eaten within minutes of making them, so you may not get around to putting them back in the fridge or freezer.

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Piña Colada Green Smoothie

IMG_3683The entire country seems to be jumping on the cold weather band wagon.  I think it is safe to say we could all use a break from the bone chilling weather. Lucky for you I have a way you can bring a tropical vacation into your kitchen, no airplane ticket or packing required. My Piña Colada Green Smoothie will take you from the numbing cold to white sandy beaches in seconds. It tastes like a vacation.

There are a few reasons this green smoothie has become a favorite of mine. Number 1- It tastes like a vacation. Number 2- it is the smoothie that turned my husband into a green smoothie lover. He is always a bit reluctant to drink my smoothies, but this smoothie was different. He smelled it, took a sip, took another sip and then finished it off in one big gulp. It was a proud moment of mine when he told me he could drink it everyday. I could too.

Swap kale for spinach or any other greens you have on hand. You’ll still achieve the full tropical vacation effect. If you don’t have any hemp seeds, feel free to use flax seed, chia seed or a mix of all three. They all blend well into this recipe

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Mint + Dark Chocolate Smoothie

IMG_3304Our house is officially ready for Christmas. This past weekend I bought Target, Hobby Lobby and Michaels out of all their Christmas décor and pasted it all over our house. Nothing makes me happier than walking through the door to a festive house. Actually, there is one thing that makes me happier than walking through the door to a festive house…that would be sitting on the couch, watching Home Alone while sipping on a holiday inspired smoothie. That is exactly how I spent my night last night. It was awesome. I put a festive holiday spin on my usual green smoothie by adding fresh mint leaves and dark chocolate. It tasted more like a milkshake than a smoothie. Very indulgent without being super heavy. A green mint smoothie is the perfect addition to a cozy night in or a great way to start a day of holiday shopping.

I used hempseeds in my smoothie. Flax seed or chia seed would also work well.

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Sesame Seared Ahi Salad

IMG_3294This recipe is a bit of a tease for me. I love love love seared ahi tuna but for the next 5 months it is off limits (one of the many perks of being pregnant…major sarcasm). Making this salad without taking a bite of the ahi was torture, but I managed to do it. Lucky for Taber he got double the amount of ahi while I enjoy the salad vegetarian style.

This salad is crisp and refreshing, which is a nice break from holiday comfort food. I tossed the cabbage, carrot, pepper and tomato mixture with a sesame dressing and then topped it with seared tuna. It is substantial enough for a main course salad.

With that I will leave you the recipe. The more I write about it the more I want seared ahi. So this post is done.

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Honey + Cinnamon + Vanilla Almond Milk

IMG_3290The other day I was roaming the grocery store when I passed an entire section dedicated to flavored milks. That’s right, an entire shelf!  Pumpkin, eggnog, peppermint, hazelnut…the list goes on. Those flavors sound great, especially for the holiday season, but it got me thinking…if I were to drink a flavored milk what would I choose? I settled on honey, cinnamon and vanilla almond milk. Once an idea is in my head I get a bit obsessive. It’s all I can think about until I make it. Thankfully this recipe idea conveniently came to me while in a grocery store. Which meant I could buy the ingredients, head home and have the almond milk made before sunset. Oh boy, was I wrong. I got so caught up in my excitement that I forgot almond milk takes time and patience. The almonds need to be soaked for 24 hours before transforming them into milk. I did have the almonds soaking in water by sunset, but would have to wait until the following day to turn them into honey, cinnamon and vanilla almond milk.

The wait was worth it. This milk is happy dance material. The kind of yumminess that automatically makes you shake your booty. You can drink it straight up, in tea/coffee, or blend with some ice and a banana to make a bomb milkshake. Using a vanilla bean made the milk taste (and look) extra special. Vanilla beans are pricey so feel free to substitute vanilla extract for the bean.

Using a nut bag is the easiest way to drain the almond milk from the almond pulp. They can be found at most grocery stores. You may also use a few layers of cheesecloth.

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Roasted Tomato Soup

IMG_3230My kitchen has looked like a bomb zone the past few weeks. Every night I clean it only to get it messy  the following day. I can’t stop recipe testing for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Through all my recipe testing I have learned that it’s vital to have a few prepared meals in the fridge I can slurp down between measuring, whipping, roasting and baking. My favorite go-to has been my Roasted Tomato Soup. It is simple and classic. I make a big batch on Sunday and enjoy it throughout the week.

Roasting the tomatoes with garlic and carrots is the secret to this soup.  The roasting takes a bit of extra time, but it is worth it. The depth of flavor is taken to the next level. This soup definitely falls into the comfort food zone. It is not only perfect for a quick meal while recipe testing, but also on a cold Fall day.

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Gluten Free + Baked + Pumpkin + Doughnuts

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I have never been a super fan of doughnuts. I like them, but I don’t love them. Well, that all changed on Saturday morning. I was itching to bake something (I blame it on the season change) and knew I wanted to use pumpkin. I had already made pumpkin bread the week before and didn’t feel like making a pie. I was racking my brain on what to bake when I spotted my trusty doughnut pan. Ah-ha…baked pumpkin doughnuts. They ended up being the perfect weekend breakfast along with a cup of chai tea AND they transformed me into a doughnut lover.

Don’t have a doughnut pan? This recipe would work well as a muffins.

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French Onion Soup

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Have you ever taken a bite out of a raw onion? Not awesome. Have you ever taken a bite of caramelized onions? So awesome. French Onion Soup is like a continuous spoonful of glorified caramelized onions. Sweet, savory and satisfying.  Making French Onion Soup is pretty simple- onions are slowly cooked down to a syrupy golden brown, mixed with a few herbs, wine and broth to create a hearty soup. Although it is simple, it takes time and patience. Slow and steady definitely wins the race when it comes to caramelizing onions. As a result of the natural sugars browning,  raw pungent onions transform into a deep, rich and mild flavor. I should also add that no mints are needed after eating French Onion Soup.  So go ahead and make this on date night.

By topping each bowl with an individual crostini melted with parmesan cheese rather than covering the entire bowl with melted cheese,  this version of French Onion Soup is lighter than it’s traditional restaurant counterpart. It also makes for a very pretty presentation.

I used ghee (clarified butter) to caramelize the onions. You may use butter or olive oil, whichever you prefer. Looking for a vegetarian French Onion Soup? Sub vegetable for the beef broth.

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Salmon + Avocado Lettuce Wraps

IMG_2897People often ask me how I come up with recipes. It usually happens at random times, when I am least expecting it.  An idea will  pop into my head as I am drifting off to sleep, while I am at the grocery store and a piece of seasonal produce jumps out at me, or on the tail end of a run when I am using my thoughts to distract myself from my tired legs. Today my recipe idea came to me while I was driving by a giant billboard. “Fresh. Bold. Spicy. Lettuce Wraps”. In an instant I went from not having a single thought of lettuce wraps to craving them. The gotta have it RIGHT now type of crave. This is how my Salmon Avocado Lettuce Wraps with Caesar Dressing came to life. I wanted lettuce wraps, and I wanted them fast.  These wraps are a snap to put together. Cooking the salmon is the most time consuming part of the recipe, and that isn’t hands on. Easy peasy.

Salmon Avocado Wraps work great for a lunch or dinner. They are also a crowd pleaser for entertaining.  Who doesn’t love a lettuce wrap? For a vegetarian version swap the salmon for some quinoa.

The Yogurt Caesar Dressing makes 1 cup, so depending on how saucy you like your wraps ( I like mine saucy), there is usually left over. The dressing will stay fresh in the fridge for up to a week.

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Avocado Pasta

IMG_2709Avocados are hands down one of my all time favorite foods. Rich, creamy, satisfying and delicious.  Avocados go well beyond just tasting fantastic. They are full of fiber, folate, potassium,  vitamin A, C, E, K and B6. Don’t be afraid of the high calorie and fat content of these alligator pears (that’s really their nickname), the calories are health supportive and a majority of the fat is monounsaturated fat. In other words, the fat and calories found in avocados are A-OK.

I most often find myself eating an avocado straight out of the skin, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. So tasty. So satisfying.  Tonight I switched it up and made a creamy avocado pasta sauce. It was a hit in the Lee household. The avocado lends a buttery texture and mild flavor allowing the lemon and basil to have the spot light. Tossing in a diced tomato adds the perfect amount of color and texture. Taber added a bit of feta and sirracha sauce (note: he adds sirracha to EVERYTHING), but I liked the pasta as is.

Avocado Sauce goes well with all pastas. Fell free to ditch the quinoa pasta and use your favorite pasta or whatever you happen to have in the cupboard.

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