Pepita Avocado-Lime Sauce

It was several years ago when I found myself first enjoying a fully raw, plant-based meal at Café Gratitude in San Francisco, a plant-based restaurant specializing in gourmet cuisines that later closed in 2011. You can still find CG all over Southern California or in your home through their cookbook, I Am Grateful: Recipes and Lifestyle of Cafe Gratitude.

I remember taking the first bite of a Sundried Tomato Pizza with an olive tapenade and cashew cream sauce. I was blown away at the flavors and how satisfying this all plant-based meal was. And, so began my love affair with this soul-satisfying lifestyle. Yes, of course, I had eaten vegetables in my life – but not like this. This was on another level. The warmth of a bite of flavor-packed forkfuls, layered with a comforting richness, did it for me. This Pepita Avocado-Lime Sauce salad dressing sauce is incredible and takes me back to that first experience.

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Pepita Avocado-Lime Sauce

(Gluten-Free, Vegan, Paleo, Keto)

What You'll Need

1/2 medium avocado
2 cloves of garlic
2 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil*
1/4 cup pepitas pumpkin seeds (I used this brand)
1 tsp cumin
1 lime, peeled and diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 cup water
1 tsp White Truffled Sea Salt (I used this brand)**

What You'll Need To Know

Place all ingredients into a food processor or high-speed blender, and pulse until smooth (about 30-45 seconds).

This dressing will be thick and can be used as a dip. Add more water for a runnier consistency (another 1/4 cup).

Keep in an airtight container for at least a week, but 3 to 4 days is best.

* I recommend using California olive oil for it's bright and green with a rich, buttery mouthfeel.

** Optional. You can also use plan sea salt. 

Blue Majik Almond Milk / Homemade Almond Milk

blue majik almond milk

If you follow health food trends, you might have noticed that in the last year or so, Blue Majik is popping up in just about everything. This magical-sounding ingredient has made its way into cold-pressed juices, protein powders, smoothies, nut mylks and even lattes that I'm sure flood your Instagram feed. And, it's made its way into my account and blog as well!

When mixed into drinks, the effect is a little like a blue raspberry slushie, but the nutritional structure of Blue Majik couldn't be more different from the sugar-laden frozen treat.

SO WHAT EXACTLY IS BLUE MAJIK?

It's a blue-green algae that's derived from Spirulina, Blue Majik is a proprietary extract of the blue-green algae Arthrospira platensis. 

On the superfoods ranking list, Blue Majik powder would rank pretty high. Just like green spirulina, Blue Majik is praised for being nutrient dense. It's packed with vitamins like especially B12, iron, calcium, enzymes, minerals, and antioxidants. 

It gets its bright blue hue from C-phycocyanin, a type of storage protein rich in amino acids. C-phycocyanin is also what puts the blue in Blue Majik and so much of the value in the popular ingredient. Studies show C-phycocyanin to be rich in antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties, and it may promote brain health.

Given that it's essentially an algae, you can imagine that on its own, it's not that tasty. But when mixed into smoothies or nut mylks, it's easy to mask the unsavory flavor. 

One way that I'm enjoying it is in homemade almond milk! Here's a recipe you'll love!

Blue Majik Almond Milk
Blue Majik Almond Milk
Blue Majik Almond Milk
Blue Majik Almond Milk

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

1 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight
7 cups water, filtered
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp vanilla bean
1 scoop Blue Majik (I used this brand)
4 pitted Medjool dates or stevia, to taste

Nut Mylk bag (I used Ellie's Best brand*)

 

* Use promo code 'Valeriea' and get 10% off your order!

WHAT YOU'LL NEED TO KNOW

Soak the almonds overnight or up to 2 days. Drain and rinse the almonds. Combine the almonds and water in a blender. Blend at the highest speed for 2 minutes. 

Strain the almonds using a nut mylk bag. Press all the almond milk from the almond meal. 

Sweeten to taste with dates or stevia, if desired.  

Add to blender almond milk, cardamom, vanilla, and cinnamon and blend for two minutes. 

Refrigerate almond milk. It will stay fresh in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.

 

Looking for some more Blue Majik recipes? You can find more here!

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Follow @ValerieFidan on Instagram for the latest bits + bites!

Super Easy, Healthy Blondies For Girls Who Can't Bake

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Have I mentioned how I can’t bake to save my life? It's true. 🤦🏻‍♀️ I have a couple of foolproof recipes that I can make and nail it each time. Now, I can say three, if you include this one. So, as you can probably imagine (and maybe even relate) when the baking gods are on my side, and things turn out great, I sort of expect someone to walk in with a medal or trophy. I'm totally kidding, but you know what I mean!

These are downright delicious, and surprisingly, healthy(ish) as far as desserts go. They are also everything free (aka soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free) because I'm one of those people and have an intolerance to those ingredients. The secret ingredient that makes these super-duper healthy, packed with protein and fiber? Garbanzo beans! Don't worry... you can't even taste it and wouldn't even know they were in it.


What You'll Need

1 tbsp coconut oil,
2 cups garbanzo beans (or 1 can, rinsed and drained)
1/2 cup sunbutter (I used Wild Friends honey sunflower butter)
2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
8-10 drops stevia
1/4 cup cashew or almond milk, unsweetened
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 scoop vanilla collagen peptides
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Lily's brand), for the mix
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, for melting
fleur de sel
 

What You'll Need To Know

1. Preheat oven to 350F and coat 8x8 inch pan with coconut cooking spray.

2. In a food processor, add 1 tbsp coconut oil, 2 cups garbanzo beans (or 1 can, rinsed and drained), 1/2 cup sunbutter, 2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon stevia, 1/4 cup cashew or almond milk, 1/8 tsp sea salt, 1 scoop vanilla collagen peptides and process until batter is smoooooooth.

3. Fold in 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips and spread batter evenly in prepared pan. pop in the oven and bake for 20-25 min or until toothpick comes out clean and edges are a tiny bit brown. The batter may look underdone, but you don't want them to dry out.

4. Cool pan for 20 min on wire rack.

5. Melt the dark chocolate chips in a bowl and microwave it, stirring every 15-20 seconds so you don't burn it. Spread it over and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Pop it in the freezer for about 60 seconds until the chocolate is hardened. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Recipe makes 12 servings. Each serving has 125 calories.

Tasty AF Chicken Balanced Bowl With Cauli-Rice + Roasted Veggies

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Creating a balanced meal in a hurry can be a bit of a challenge. I have the perfect solution: The Balance Bowl.  It's super simple to make and it's tasty AF!

Mondays and Wednesdays tend to be my tough workout days with killer MegaFormer session at Megaburn Fitness then death-by-boxing (aka Team Quest boxing class.) These are my two days of major sweaty AF cardio! 😅 So, as you can imagine, fueling up is key. This bowl right here, is the perfect meal. It's got the perfect balance of healthy fats, proteins, and carbs.

What You'll Need

Sweet Potato:
1 sweet potato (roughly 150g)
1 tsp coconut oil
sea salt, to taste
11 tsp dried oregano
Mixed Greens:
2 cup mixed spring greens
2 tsp coconut aminos
1/4 cup purple cabbage
2 tsp green onions tops
Cauli-Rice:
1/2 head cauliflower
1/4 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp dried oregano
sea salt, to taste
1 orange bell pepper, sliced
Chicken:
2 - 3-4oz chicken breasts
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
sea salt, to taste
1/2 tsp coconut oil, melted
Toppings:
1/4 Avocado
Chia seeds (sprinkled on avocado)

What You'll Need To Know

Sweet Potato:
Pre heat oven to 400F. Slice 1 sweet potato into medallions, and place in a baking dish and coat with coconut oil and season with sea salt and dried oregano. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until soft and slightly browned.
Chicken:
Rub chicken breasts with coconut oil and sprinkle both sides with salt, smoked paprika and oregano. Place chicken in a broiler pan.
Bake in oven for 10 minutes. Flip chicken and cook until it is no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, about 15 minutes more. Remove chicken from pan and let it cool, then cut into cubes. Note: place chicken pan next to sweet potato baking dish.
Mixed Greens:
Mix together 2 cup mixed spring greens, green onion tops, and purple cabbage and toss with coconut aminos and set aside.
Note: If you are meal prepping, don’t add coconut aminos until ready to eat to avoid wilting!
Cauli-Rice:
In a food processor, add 1/2 head of cauliflower and pulse about 5-6 times until a “rice” consistency forms. Over a medium heat, melt coconut oil and add in cauli-rice and orange bell pepper and season with dried oregano and sea salt. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the bell pepper is soft.
When everything is ready, plate with cauli-rice, mixed greens, sweet potato medallions, and chicken cubes. Top with sliced avocado and chia seeds spoiled on avocado.

Recipe makes 2 servings.

Creamy, Dreamy Arroz Con Leche... And It's DAIRY-FREE!!

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If you watch my Instagram stories, you know where I'm going with these ingredients.

Three words: Arroz con Leche.

A while back, I learned how to make Arroz con Leche from one of my aunts. I learned the labor of love that goes into making this classic dessert.

This creamy, dreamy, delicious classic dessert brings back memories of my childhood. I think of my family, my grandmother, my maternal grandmother who has passed. I think of the warm memories of my childhood.

It’s nostalgic, especially when the smell of cinnamon and vanilla filled my home. In Mexico, Arroz con leche involves milk, cinnamon, sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, orange peel, raisins that are soaked in sherry or rum, and nutmeg. A Bay leaf, too, or at least in the version my aunt taught me.

Dairy Free Arroz Con Leche

Dairy Free Arroz Con Leche

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I had to tweak my family recipe a bit to make it dairy-free. I just switched out cow's milk with dairy-free milk and used a short grain rice instead of the traditionally used long grain rice. Because short grain rice like bomba (used in paella) or arborio (used in risotto) absorb a lot of liquid, this version didn't require too much time and stirring. the rice did all the work.The outcome was just as delicious as the dairy version Give it a try! I guarantee you won't be disappointed.


Dairy-Free Arroz con Leche

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What You'll Need

1 cup uncooked Bomba or Arborio rice (risotto or paella rice)
1/8 tsp. Sea salt
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange peel
1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3 cups cashew milk or coconut milk
1 tbsp light cane sugar*
1/2 tbsp stevia*
1 bay leaf
Optional: Coconut shavings for garnish

What You'll Need To Know

1. Bring the rice, salt, cinnamon, orange peel, vanilla, and 2 cups of the cashew or coconut milk to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.

2. Add the sugar, remaining cashew or coconut milk, bay leaf, and cinnamon sticks. Continue to simmer on low heat and stir until thick, about 20 more minutes.

3. Remove the orange peel, then remove the saucepan from the heat and let sit for 3 minutes. If it is too thick add 1/2 cup of cashew or coconut milk

4. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve warm.

* Alternatively you can swap out the stevia for 1/4 cup light brown cane sugar.

Recipe makes 6 servings.


Carrot Ginger Bisque

Carrot Ginger Bisque, carrots, ginger, soup, gluten-free soup, vegan soup, vegan, gluten-free recipeI love soup. Warm, comfy and healing for the soul. Lately, I've been making lots of soups since winter has now arrived here in California after weeks of endless sunshine and 70 degree weather. And, there is nothing better on a soggy, rainy day than a creamy warm soup to warm the heart. Which is what sparked the idea for this soup: Carrot Ginger Bisque. A smooth bisque of carrots and sweet potatoes with mellow notes of coconut milk and a tart ginger kick is perfect for cold days. This soup is simple enough to whip up for a weeknight meal. Carrot Ginger Bisque, carrots, ginger, soup, gluten-free soup, vegan soup, vegan, gluten-free recipe

What You'll Need

7-8 Carrots, peeled and sliced 1 Tomato 1 Medium Sweet Potato. peeled and sliced 1/2 Onion, chopped 4 Garlic cloves, diced 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger 3 Cups water 1 tablespoon oil 1 teaspoon curry powder 1 cup coconut milk or almond milk

Salt, to taste Garnish: Toasted Coconut Chips Carrot Ginger Bisque, carrots, ginger, soup, gluten-free soup, vegan soup, vegan, gluten-free recipe The blend of these ingredients create a velvety mouthful of flavor. The natural sweetness of the carrots and sweet potato is complemented by the tart kick of ginger and balanced by the coconut milk.

Carrot Ginger Bisque, carrots, ginger, soup, gluten-free soup, vegan soup, vegan, gluten-free recipe The only extra tools you'll need is either a blender or an immersion hand blender. When blending hot liquids remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions.

Carrot Ginger Bisque, carrots, ginger, soup, gluten-free soup, vegan soup, vegan, gluten-free recipe Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

Carrot Ginger Bisque, carrots, ginger, soup, gluten-free soup, vegan soup, vegan, gluten-free recipe This soup gets its wonderfully creamy texture from purèed carrots and sweet potatoes rather than heavy cream and butter.

Carrot Ginger Bisque, carrots, ginger, soup, gluten-free soup, vegan soup, vegan, gluten-free recipe What's so good about this soup? Not your ubiquitous carrot soup, this dish possesses layers of flavor that complement its healing properties. Carrots and sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, which helps promote vision and support a healthy immune system. They are also a good source of fiber. This soup is simple enough to whip up, making this a wonderfully nutritious beginning to a meal or a perfect lunch.

Carrot Ginger Bisque, carrots, ginger, soup, gluten-free soup, vegan soup, vegan, gluten-free recipe

Carrot Ginger Bisque
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 7-8 Carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Medium Sweet Potato. peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 4 Garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 3 Cups water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup coconut milk or almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • Garnish: Toasted Coconut Chips
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add in the tomato, followed by sweet potato, carrots, ginger, and curry powder; cook 2 minutes. Add water and coconut milk; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender; stir in salt.
  2. Pour half of soup in a food processor; pulse until smooth. Repeat procedure with remaining soup.
Notes
When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.