vegan chocolate mint milkshake.

I have a treat for us today! As you may know, I’m not a sweets person. Give me chips over cake any day of the week. There are exceptions. Growing up, before I learned of my dairy allergy, I LOVED milkshakes. I have fond memories of my younger brother and I making milkshakes in my mom’s house with her blender that was from 1972. Vanilla low-fat ice cream (hey, it was the 90s), skim milk, chocolate syrup… YUM. I’ve always been a super thick milkshake girl.

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The other day, I caught the milkshake craving. Since regular milk and ice cream haven’t graced my lips in over a decade, but I suddenly remembered that I had a vegan “ice cream” hanging out in my freezer from about a month ago when my friend brought it over. Any vegan and/or non-dairy frozen “ice cream” dessert will work for this, but the brand I used is here. I find that it has the best consistency; soy or coconut-based is fine. I used a 2:1 ratio of the frozen treat and cashew milk, a splash of vanilla extract, and a few springs of fresh mint, and gave it a whirl. The fresh mint is essential, as it provides such freshness. Don’t like mint? Try almond extract and a scoop of almond butter, or even peanut butter!

Even though non-dairy ice cream can be icy/not as lusciously creamy as traditional ice cream, adding in the nut milk yields an incredibly thick, creamy shake. Good news? One 8 ounce glass is under 200 calories! Now THAT is a dessert I can totally get behind.

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vegan chocolate mint shake.
a ‘PTL’ original. 

ingredients
1 pint of coconut or soy-based chocolate ice “cream”/frozen dessert
1 cup unsweetened cashew milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-5 fresh mint leaves, plus 4 for garnish

directions
Add all ingredients except for reserved mint leaves to a high speed blender. Blend, starting on medium speed, increasing to high. Blend for 1 minute, adding up to 1/4 cup additional cashew milk if needed/desired.

Divide between four glasses. Garnish each with a mint leaf. Serve immediately.

 

 

beef noodle bowls with sesame ginger dressing.

I’ve been trying to get more iron into my diet. I recently had some blood work, and it was revealed that I’m pretty deficient in my iron stores. I’ll soon be starting on some iron supplements, but I truly believe that the best way to get essential vitamins and minerals is through food. Since beef is one of the most well-known sources of iron, I figured it was the perfect starting point. I had a beautiful, lean top round steak in my freezer, and one Friday evening I decided to grill it up. It was nearly 1.25 pounds, so I had a lot leftover. Regular leftover steak sounded boring, so I made the leftover meat a focal point into a brand new, remade dish: asian beef noodle bowls.
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What a hit. Delicious cold, room temperature or hot, this is the ideal lunchtime food. I ate it cold on day one, and heated up the next day at work and both were equally delicious. You can bulk out the noodles with extra vegetables, and a delicious, luscious sesame ginger dressing. The dressing is thin, but coats the noodles, vegetables, and meat in the more delicate way. Give this a garnish with some sesame seeds and additional scallions, and you have a takeout-worthy dish that will simultaneously help you repurpose leftovers and clean out your vegetable crisper. Win-win!

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beef noodle bowls.
dressing adapted from The Pioneer Woman.

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ingredients
6-8 ounces leftover steak, thinly sliced (top sirloin, hanger, skirt, flank)*
4 ounces brown rice noodles or whole wheat thin spaghetti
1/2 cup white mushrooms, thinly sliced
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil

salad dressing:
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce (or 1/4 cup tamari)
1.5 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon avocado oil (can use olive or grapeseed)
1.5 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar OR coconut palm sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced

directions
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl. Meanwhile, take the leftover steak out of the fridge to pull the chill off of it.

Make the dressing: Combine the ingredients in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously until well combined. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Heat a non stick skillet over medium heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Once the oil is heated, add the mushrooms, carrots and pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until just slightly tender. Remove vegetables and add to the noodles. Add the scallions and beef and 1/2 of the dressing and toss to combine, adding more to your taste.

Divide amongst two bowls and top with sesame seeds. Eat cold or warm.

Serves 2.

**Please use grass fed beef and organic ingredients wherever possible**

Note: If you do not have leftover steak, you can simply sprinkle your choice of steak with sea salt and pepper and grill for 4-5 minutes per side, until medium rare. Let rest and slice, proceeding with the recipe.

 

 

 

zucchini lemon cookies.

Two dessert recipes in a row! I’m not sure what has gotten into me, but I kinda like it. Granted, desserts tend to be a touch more time consuming then putting together a salad or pizza, but I assure you this cookie recipe is easy, can be done without an electric mixer, and comes together in under 30 minutes, prep and baking time included!

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These are cake like in texture — a soft and buttery base and a pillowy texture. They reminded me of a yeast free British tea cake. The addition of lemon zest and juice make them undeniably bright and fresh with a slight vegetal undertone of the zucchini. These are great for your garden’s surplus of this super versatile vegetable! Serve with a latte or tea for an afternoon snack, or even breakfast. I won’t tell!

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zucchini lemon cookies.
adapted from Food52 cookbook.

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ingredients
2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of coarse sea salt
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 cup of shredded/grated zucchini

directions
Preheat oven to 350 degree. Line a baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and whisk. Add the zucchini and lemon zest and juice until well combined. Add the flour mixture in thirds, mixing until just combined. Do not over mix or over beat if using an electric mixer.

Spoon rounded tablespoons on to the baking sheet. Bake for 16-18 minutes. Let cool for 1-2 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Keep in an airtight container. Makes 24 cookies.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

raw corn + grilled zucchini quinoa with smoky lime vinaigrette.

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This salad is so simple and perfect for hot late summer days. It makes an amazingly simple dinner, and is even better the next day for lunch. I like this both warm and at room temperature. The salad is both gluten free and vegan, but if you wanted to add some additional protein, I think grilled shrimp would be divine.

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I didn’t even cook the corn for this, I simply cut it off the cob and added it to the bowl. If you prefer, you can cook the corn, but I love the simplicity of sweet, raw corn. I also thought the juxtaposition of the grilled zucchini and raw corn was just lovely.

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The vinaigrette really takes this over the top though. The dressing gets some smokiness from the cumin, but we’re going to up the ante by grilling the limes. Yes! The squeezed juice will retain some of that smoky, caramelized flavor and will punctuate the finished dressing. Only a minute or two is needed on the grill (or grill pan!).

raw corn and grilled zucchini quinoa salad with smoky lime vinaigrette. 

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ingredients
2 cups cooked quinoa
3 ears of corn, kernels cut off the cobs
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

dressing:
1-2 limes, grilled (see note below); 3 tablespoons of juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

directions
Preheat grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Lightly brush olive oil onto zucchini slices. Grill 2 minutes per side, oiled side down first. Oil the other side. Once barely tender, remove from heat. Slice down the middle vertically, and then rotate, cutting the slices into 1/2 inch pieces.

While the zucchini is grilling, cut the lime(s) in half. Grill the lime, cut side down, for 1 minute per side. Remove and juice the grilled lime halves. (*I had a very juicy lime, so one lime yielded more than enough juice).

Once you’ve juiced the limes, make the dressing. In a blender, add the lime juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, cumin, sea salt and pepper. Turn the blender on, and stream in olive oil until well combined.

In a large bowl, add the cooked quinoa, raw corn, grilled zucchini, cilantro, salt and pepper. Pour 2/3 of the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Taste, and add the rest of the dressing if needed. Serve immediately, or at room temperature.

Serves 4 as a side.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

green beans with roasted bell peppers.

This recipe just epitomizes summer to me. Easy, fast, fresh and bursting with flavors, thanks to local vegetables, adorned simply with good olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. That’s it. An incredibly simple side dish that is sure to become a mainstay on your dinner table, just like it is on mine.

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The most difficult part of this recipe is the blanching of the beans. You want to cook them until they are crisp tender, and then shock them in ice water, immediately stopping the cooking process. Once they are cool, you toss with the roasted peppers and onions and season with an extra drizzle of olive oil and pepper. So. Easy.

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This is great for a summer potluck or picnic, as it’s equally good warm or at room temperature.

green beans with roasted bell peppers.
barely adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot in Paris.

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ingredients
1.5 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 sweet onion, large dice
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
1 red bell pepper, large dice
sea salt
black pepper
2.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, prepare the ice bath. In a large bowl, fill with cold water and 3-4 cups of ice. Once water is boiling, add green beans and blanch for about 4 minutes. Remove from pot and plunge into the ice bath, stirring to make sure all bean are submerged. Once they are cool, remove and drain.

Arrange the peppers and onions on an oiled baking sheet. Drizzle with 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper until seasoned to your liking. Mix together until they are well combined. Roast for 12-15 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Remove from oven.

In a large bowl, gently toss the green beans and the peppers and onions together; drizzle with remaining one tablespoon of oil. Season with extra salt and/or pepper if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6-8.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**

 

pineapple cucumber agua fresca.

It’s the last day of July, and the hot and steamy weather seems to be here to stay. Since (week)daytime drinking is most likely frowned upon where you live and work, how about a delicious and refreshing aqua fresca to cool you off?

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Aqua fresca is Spanish for “fresh water”, meaning any water that is flavored with fruit, herbs and a simple syrup or other sweetener. This take on it should be incredibly tart due to the pineapple and lemon, but it is tamed by the cooling vegetal taste of the cucumber, resulting in an incredibly mellow and soothing drink that will cool you off on days that are chokingly hot.

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Make sure to refrigerate this after straining, as the flavors are ideal served ice cold. It’s wonderful as is, but I think it’s even better topped with sparkling water. To make this adult-friendly, try adding some light rum or tequila, garnished with some fresh pineapple. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 🙂

pineapple cucumber agua fresca.
from Family Table cookbook. 

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ingredients
2.5 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
2 cups fresh pineapple (frozen, thawed will also work)
1 seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups cold water, plus 2.5 tablespoons

directions
To make the simple syrup: combine the sugar and 5 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and cool.

Working in batches, puree the pineapple and cucumbers with 4 cups of cold water, the simple syrup, lemon juice, and salt in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher or bowl and refrigerate.

This pairs nicely with rum or tequila. For a kid-friendly/non-alcoholic option, serve as is, or top with sparkling water.

Makes 3 cups. Keeps for 3-4 days in refrigerator.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**

spinach + strawberry salad.

As mentioned in the previous post, today’s recipe is dedicated to my favorite way to serve this luscious poppyseed dressing.

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I hesitate to even call this a ‘recipe’. A quick search on Google will show you a plethora of spinach berry salads, but for good reason! They are so, so delicious and seasonal.

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Strawberries out of season? No problem! Simply substitute blueberries, blackberries, or even peaches! Don’t like almonds? Simply use walnuts or pecans. What I’m trying to say is that this is incredibly flexible to suit your taste buds and pantry items. I like to add cool cucumbers to offset the sharp onions, and some shredded carrots to complement the sweet and ripe strawberries.

The combo of tender spinach, berries and that sweet and tangy dressing is a beloved classic for a reason.

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All tossed together with the dressing and ready to devour.

spinach + strawberry salad.

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ingredients
4 cups baby spinach
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup raw almonds, sliced
1/4 cup cucumbers, sliced into half-moons
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup carrots, shredded
sea salt and pepper to taste
poppyseed dressing

directions
In a large bowl, add all salad ingredients, and spoon over some dressing (two tablespoons is plenty for me, but I like my salads lightly dressed). Toss gently and serve immediately. That’s it!

Serves 2 for a main dish salad.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**