tuscan roasted tomatoes with sesame parmesan (vegan, dairy free, nut free, gluten free)

As much as I love sharing the fun, creative recipes (like these matcha coconut lime energy bites or these weeknight tacos), I also love giving equal play to recipes that are meant for the every day or moments when you’re not sure what to throw together. Like these tuscan roasted tomatoes.

I came up with these lovelies one Sunday evening when we were going to have a mishmash of leftovers and family coming over at the last minute. Throwing together a medley of vegetables prepared in a number of ways is still one of my favorite things to do…it speaks of abundance and simplicity and letting my pickier (ahem) eaters load up on the veggies they prefer over the ones they don’t.

This is a great way to use up an abundance of tomatoes from your hardworking garden and takes only minutes to prep before sliding in the oven. With a hearty slice of toasted bread, you also could serve these as an appetizer and leftovers could easily be cooked down into a pasta sauce. The extra sesame parmesan can be saved for pasta or even soup recipes, like this one.

 

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Tuscan Roasted Tomatoes with Sesame Seed Parmesan
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

Pulling together simple, fresh flavors with the transition of summer to fall in mind, these Tuscan Roasted Tomatoes come together easily as a casual side dish or hearty appetizer.

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • fresh tomatoes
  • roasted red pepper hummus
  • fresh basil, diced
  • salt & pepper
  • sesame seed parmesan
  • whole grain, hearty bread (optional)
For the sesame seed parmesan
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 4 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2-1 tsp olive oil
Instructions
  1. Rinse tomatoes and slice into rounds that are between 1/4" and 1/2" thick. Generally, plan around 1 tomato per person. Place tomato rounds onto a baking sheet. Add a generous spoonful of hummus to each tomato slice and spread. Place in a 350 degree F oven for about 15-20 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, add all sesame Parmesan ingredients to a food process or high speed blender and blend until the sesame seeds are crumbly and resemble Parmesan cheese.

  3. When the tomatoes are done, remove from oven and top with basil and a few sprinkles of sesame parmesan. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES

  • If serving as an appetizer, cut bread into thick slices (about 1" thick), place on a baking sheet and lightly toast in the same oven as the tomatoes. Keep an eye on it though so it doesn't burn! Remove from oven when toasted and then top with a roasted tomato, the basil, sesame parmesan and salt and pepper if desired.

 

 

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  •  My go-to brand of hummus (both original and roasted red pepper) is Sabra.
  • Click here for my favorite mini food processor
  • I get both my nutritional yeast and sesame seeds in bulk at Whole Foods, but you also can find them here and here.

 

game, set, matcha coconut lime energy bites (vegan, no added sugar, gluten free, paleo)

As we’re learning, life in high school is busy…especially when you throw in sports. It usually makes for a long day and a late arrival home.

To brighten up my daughter’s long day and making snacking on the run easier, I whipped up these matcha coconut lime energy bites – a nod to her chosen sport this season and because matcha naturally boosts energy. It also helps with mental alertness, has antioxidant powers (hello bright green powder!), boosts the immune system and cardiovascular health and can fight infections – which gives it an A+ in my books.

 

 

This was my first time trying matcha after hearing of it several years ago on Kathy Patalsky’s blog, Healthy Happy Life. Yep, even thought I’m a tea drinker, it took me this long to try it since it’s more expensive than the tea I normally buy, but happily, I found that a little goes a looong way. And I’m excited to experiment and see what this does for my own energy.

If you’ve never tried matcha, it tastes like green tea because it is, um, green tea, but carries greater health benefits. If you want to learn more about its history, how it’s grown and it’s properties, click here.

Making these game, set, matcha energy bites is as easy as 1-2-3. Just thoroughly mix the ingredients in a food processor, form into bite-sized balls and coat in unsweetened shredded coconut since the batter is very sticky. You could coat them in matcha powder as I did here, but that amount of undiluted matcha powder carries a bitter overtone. So unless you don’t mind a little bitter with you no-added-sugar sweet, I’d stick with the unsweetened coconut.

Speaking of sweet…as with most of my recipes, these energy bites do not have any energy-sapping, immune suppressing added sugar! They also work for gluten-free and paleo diets since they are free from grains.

 

Print
Game, Set, Matcha Coconut Lime Energy Bites
Prep Time
15 mins
 

These coconut lime energy bites carry the subtle flavor of green tea and are perfect for hectic days when you're on the go and need a natural boost of energy.

Course: Snack
Servings: 9 energy bites
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 6 medjool dates
  • 3 T fresh lime juice
  • 1.5 tsp matcha powder
  • 1 scoop 100% pure stevia powder
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (plus more for coating)
  • 2 pinches salt
Instructions
  1. Pit the dates, then put all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender and mix until thoroughly combined and the cashews have mostly been chopped into very fine pieces. Since the mixture is very sticky, keep your hands slightly wet with water to form the bite-size balls. Place additional coconut in a plastic bag, drop in each energy bite one at a time and shake to coat. For best results, refrigerate for at least one hour before eating.

    Can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for several days.

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES

It's best to buy Medjool dates with the pits still in them as they tend to stay juicer than when the pits are removed. Make sure you are using 100% PURE stevia - read the ingredients closely! - as most stevia powders have added sweeteners and/or artificial ingredients.

 

 

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • Since this was my first time trying matcha, I purchased a small amount from Whole Foods. But you can find it cheaper here and in a larger quantity
  • Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.
  • Pure stevia: It’s critical to use 100% pure stevia with no additives or fillers. I get mine at Trader Joe’s, but try the NOW BetterStevia™ Organic Zero Calorie Powdered Sweetener — 1 oz brand here. Even though it appears pricey, a little goes a looong way, and my container lasted me for several years! This link will save you $5 on your order…comment or message me if you want to know which products I stock up on to get the free shipping

minestrone soup with sesame parmesan (vegan, dairy free, soy free)

(This post contains affiliate links which helps fund this blog but at no cost to you.)

With fall officially peeking around the corner and an early chill in the air – at least around here – I’m starting to crave  warm, comforting foods. Especially big pots of them for plenty of leftovers which matches with our busier back-to-school schedule. Like this minestrone soup.

I first came across this minestrone soup recipe in this cook book while I was trying to find more veggie-based recipes but before I went all in with a plant-based diet. It’s been a favorite of mine ever since.

One of the things I love about it is the subtle addition of zucchini. This is key when your garden produces monster-sized ones because you forgot to pick it (ahem). And when you are more of a zucchini liker than zucchini lovers. And in case you didn’t catch it, here’s a zucchini recipe I shared last week. The other thing I love is the use of rosemary – an herb I thought was a strange addition at first, but it definitely makes this soup sing.

 

I’ll warn you that although this minestrone soup is more labor intensive than many of my other soup recipes (like this one and this one), it’s completely worth it because of the quantity it makes and how well it freezes. If you have children who are able to handle a knife, have them help you with the chopping. Even a young child could help break the frozen green beans or help with the lettuce spinner for the spinach.

The original recipe called for using parmesan cheese. Since this wouldn’t fly for a vegan recipe, I whipped up some sesame seed parmesan which can be sprinkled on or stirred in (which also happens to boost the calcium and protein as well!). For those of you watching your fat intake (especially due to heart disease), you’ll be happy to know the soup is made without any oil and you can skip adding the parmesan altogether.

 

 

 

This soup tastes even better the second day because the flavors are able to develop. If it works, plan ahead and make it the day before you actually plan to eat it!

 

Print
Minestrone Soup with Sesame Seed Parmesan
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
1 hrs 30 mins
 

This soup is chock full of vegetables and herbs and tastes even better the second day after it's been made. The sesame seed parm is a nod to the traditional recipe and boosts the calcium and plant-protein and is just plain fun to sprinkle on.

Course: Main Course, Soup
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
For the soup
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped carrots
  • 4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups finely diced tomatoes (or 1-14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4.5 cups water
  • 2 small zucchini, shredded
  • 1 cup green beans in 1" lengths
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped spinach
  • 2 cups beans (white or kidney)
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp crumbled rosemary
  • freshly ground pepper
For the sesame parm
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 4 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
Instructions
For the soup:
  1. Add the onion and garlic along with 1" water to a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook until the onion is translucent, then add in the carrots, celery and tomatoes. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Add all remaining soup ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45-minutes to 1 hour or until the potatoes are tender. Adjust seasonings as needed.

For the sesame parm:
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or high speed blender and mix until thoroughly combined and the sesame seeds are crumbly and look like parmesan cheese. Can be stored in an air-tight jar in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

Recipe Notes

Recipe Notes:

I prefer this soup with the vegetables (especially the tomatoes and zucchini) finely chopped - or in the case of the zucchini, shredded. This especially helps when serving it to children who tend to be suspicious of large chunks of vegetables - or adults who feel the same way. 😉

 

 

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  •  Click here for my favorite mini food processor
  • I get both my nutritional yeast and sesame seeds in bulk at Whole Foods, but you also can find them here and here.

 

 

Product Review: Banza Penne Pasta

 

My review of Banza Penne Pasta is my own opinion and I was not compensated by the makers of Banza for this post in any way. Some links in the post may contain affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you.

I love doing these product reviews! To catch the others, click here. This week, I’m featuring this penne pasta by Banza. Since pasta is in my meal plan weekly and I’m always looking for ways to boost the nutrients in our diet, I had to try this when I saw a coupon for it in the Ibotta app*. If you want my go-to marinara sauce recipe, click here.

Ever since I changed my diet, my taste for wheat-based products has naturally fallen by the wayside. Although I can tolerate it and don’t have a gluten sensitivity, I’ve found that I just don’t like it as much. For years now, I’ve been using brown rice fusili which I buy at Trader Joe’s and brown rice spaghetti from Aldi. But I’ve missed the penne pasta shape and was excited when I saw Banza was making their garbanza-bean pasta in this shape.

 

HERE’S THE FULL SCOOP:

Where I bought it: Whole Foods

Regular purchase price: $3.99

On sale? No

Which money-saving app? Ibotta*

Cost savings: $1.50 ($.50 for the coupon + I an additional dollar off by earning the Weekend Warrior bonus – I only had to buy two products to earn an extra $2!)

Total purchase price: $2.49

How does it compare to what I normally buy? Even with the coupons from Ibotta*, it’s more than twice the price per ounce from what I normally buy. However, it also has more than twice the amount of protein per 2 oz serving size.

How did it taste? Watch this video which I recorded LIVE on my FB page:

 

Would I buy it again? Probably. Especially since my children seemed to like it – and that is often the biggest hurdle to overcome. Although it wouldn’t normally be part of my pasta rotation unless it comes down in price, I like having this option available to freshen up our meal plan and think it would be excellent in pasta salads. I’d keep a lookout for coupons and discounts though! I did find at a cheaper regular price at Target online. OR you can get it here (affiliate link – no cost to you).

 

If you have an idea for a vegan food, personal care or household product I should try, leave a comment telling me the product name, where you found it and why I should try it.

 

*If you’re not familiar with Ibotta, it’s a free money-saving app you download to your phone. I would love to have you join my team so we help each other earn more savings together! I do get a bonus when you join with me but there’s never any cost to you…just cost-savings including a $10 sign up bonus!

O Canada cherry berry creamsicles (vegan, sugar free)

Every year I tell myself I will plan ahead and get my holiday-related posts up before the actual day.
Ahem!

But inevitably, I leave inspiration to strike at the last minute. 

(For those of you who don’t know me, I live in the US and am now a citizen but I was born in Canada.)

I came across this idea on Pinterest, and had to try it while dreaming up my own recipe.

I was so excited how these Cherry Berry Creamsicles turned out! They were easy to make and are packed with whole fruit and are dairy and sugar free.

If you want a quick video tip that comes with making these, leave a comment with your email address.

There’s also lots of fun and inspiration happening daily on my Facebook page…www.facebook.com/wildberrycoach. I would love to have you join me there for conversation!

CHERRY BERRY CREAMSICLES

1.5 cups frozen cherries

1.5 cups frozen strawberries

1 T white grape juice (optional)

3 bananas, sliced into rounds and frozen

1 15 oz can full fat coconut milk.

1 tsp. vanilla

1. Bring cherries and one cup of strawberries to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add white grape juice if using. Add to a food processor with the remaining strawberries and blend until smooth. Let cool then add a large spoonful to the bottom of each Popsicle mold. Freeze.

2. Rinse food processor bowl and add frozen bananas, coconut milk and vanilla. Blend until smooth.

3. Take Popsicle mold out of freezer and add 2-3 spoonfuls of banana-coconut mixture. Pop back in freezer for 20-30 minutes.

4. Add remaining cherry strawberry mixture to top off the Popsicle molds and insert stick.

5. Freeze until frozen solid.

6. To release Popsicle from mold, run under warm water. 

brown bag mondays: saving greens

brownbagmondayI’ve lost track of the dollars I’ve wasted in throwing out fresh greens that ended up spoiling before I used them up. Frustrating especially when I need them for a recipe.

So to save some green and some greens, here is today’s tip:

storing greensHere’s how:

Asparagus: store upright in a jar that has a little water in the bottom. Change the water every few days when it starts to get cloudy.

Cilantro, Parsley: Can also be stored upright in a jar that has a little water in the bottom. Change the water every few days when it starts to get cloudy. You also can pesto the herbs with a little water or oil and freeze them to use in recipes.

Basil: Fresh basil turns black after only a short time of being exposed to air. Best way to make it last is to pesto what you can’t use. I like to freeze mine in 1 T quantities so they are recipe ready.

Lettuce/kale: Buying the whole bunch instead of the pre-bagged and washed kind is a great place to start. I also found that removing any elastic bands or ties from around the leaves keeps them from getting slimy. Mine usually keep for a week like this in the plastic bag I place them in from the grocery store.

 

 

quinoa tabouli (vegan, gluten free, low carb, sugar free)

quinoa tabouliI love trying foods from other cultures which have a solid amount of veggies in their diets.

Ever since I tried tabouli, a middle eastern salad that usually features bulgar, I was a fan. However, my enthusiasm for it waivered ever since I began cutting back on wheat products several years go. I also swapped out the oil for hummus for an interesting twist on the dressing.

Thankfully, I discovered that quinoa is a perfect substitute and packs a superfood, plant protein punch into this refreshing salad. The key to great quinoa is thoroughly rinsing off the bitter saponin and using a ratio of water to quinoa that is just shy of 2:1.

If you give this a try, I would love your feedback.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the quinoa tabouli recipe

quinoa tabouli

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

    For the Ingredients

    • 4 T hummus
    • 2 T lemon juice
    • ½ tsp salt
    • dashes freshly ground pepper

    For the Salad

    • ¾ c. uncooked white quinoa
    • 1 cucumber, diced
    • 1 pack cherry tomatoes, sliced
    • ½ onion, finely diced
    • 1/4 -1.2 cup fresh parsley, minced
    • optional: pine nuts

    Instructions

    For the Dressing:

    Combine all ingredients in a glass measuring cup, jar or bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Add water if necessary to thin. Pour over tabouli and gently stir until thoroughly mixed.

    For the Salad:

    Thoroughly rinse quinoa. Best way is to cover with water in a bowl or pot, agitate with you hands, pour into a sieve and repeat 2-3 times with fresh water.

    Add quinoa to a pot with 1.5 cups of water, bring to a boil and then simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

    Cool and fluff with a fork. When cool add cucumber, tomatoes, onion, parsley, and pine nuts, if using.

    Pour dressing over tabouli and gently stir until thoroughly mixed.

    This salad is best eaten fresh, but will keep in the fridge for one day if properly stored.

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    brown bag monday: morning motivation

    brownbagmonday

    Although I’m usually a morning person, there are some days when it’s hard to get out of bed at the crack of dawn. Or before it, during the winter months. The promise of a few extra winks of sleep or warm blankets on chilly mornings are awfully tempting to ignore. But for morning people, this often is our most productive time of day so lingering in bed can throw off our entire day.

    If this also is a struggle for you, here’s the tip to take with you this week:

    morning motivation

    When I add things into my morning that I love and look forward to, it’s much more likely that I’ll get up and moving instead of hitting the snooze button endless times. For example, I love starting my day in prayer and in studying the Bible as these anchor me for the day. When I need extra motivation, I’ll brew a warm mug of black or lemon-ginger cleansing tea and diffuse a favorite essential oil. These activities wake me up enough that I’m ready to tackle my workout and my work.

    There are endless possibilities of things to get you going…the satisfaction of crossing chores off your list first thing, the color of a favorite mug, the texture of a blanket, a favorite spot to curl up, a friend to meet or talk with, a place to go, music to listen to.

    And while these activities, routines or favorite things might change over time or with the seasons or when they no longer hold wonder, the important thing is to find that certain something that puts a sparkle in your eye as your feet hit the floor in the morning.

    Are you a morning person? What are some favorite things you love to do that could be incorporated into your morning routine?

    Need a little help brainstorming…send me a message for a free mini coaching session on this.

    anatomy of a power packed, gluten free breakfast

    gf breakfastAs May winds down, so does my anti-candida diet. Since May is Celiac Awareness Month and the anti-candida diet also is gluten free, I’m sharing the breakfast that has largely been a part of my mornings this past month.

    Have you ever had quinoa for breakfast instead of oatmeal?

    Love this protein-packed grain and often swapped it in over my usual gf standby of buckwheat and millet.

    I try to be mindful in eating a variety of foods that pack in the nutrients, so here’s the breakdown of what is included in this breakfast:

    • Quinoa: is one of the few plants that is a complete protein and also has iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, Vitamin E and fiber
    • Chia seeds: contain fiber, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients
    • Unsweetened shredded coconut: contains protein, fiber, iron, zinc
    • Ground flax seeds: gives you micronutrients, fiber, manganese, vitamin B1, Omega-3
    • Cinnamon: has multiple health benefits and contains antioxidants and is antimicrobial
    • Coconut oil: has beneficial medium-chain fatty acids
    • Blueberries:contains antioxidants, vitamin K, vitamin C, manganese, fiber and copper.
    • Unsweetened almond milk: is rich in phosphorus, potassium and zinc

    What your favorite gluten free breakfast? Favorite hot or cold cereal mix ins?

    brown bag monday: food focus tip

    brownbagmonday

    As I’ve made a major switch in my diet four years ago by choosing to eat a plant-based diet and then tweaking that to reduce my sugar intake a couple years later, I’ve come to appreciate just how closely food is tied to our emotions, memories and sense of community.

    Suddenly, many of our go-to foods are off the list and we may need to learn new cooking techniques or try new foods that are foreign to us. Depending on the dietary change, it can be a small or steep learning curve. And if you’re making these changes for health reasons, like discovering a gluten-intolerance  or cancer or heart disease or diabetes, you also may be dealing with emotions and frustrations related to the diagnosis.

    So here’s the tip that you can take with you for this brown bag monday:

    focus brownbagmonday

    Whenever we focus on what we can’t eat…a list that may be quite extensive…it’s easy to become frustrated and even depressed. Focusing on what you can eat frees you up to be creative, to appreciate the variety that is available to you and helps keep your outlook positive.

    I learned the value of this tip two years ago when I did the anticandida diet for the first time, especially during the strictest part. By switching my mindset, I was better able to come up with a solid meal plan that didn’t make me feel deprived.

    If you’ve had to make a change to your diet, what was the hardest part? If you know you need to make a change and haven’t what is one thing that is holding you back?