Fourth of July Berries and “Cream” Parfait

Happy (almost) 4th of July!!

I know, I know, it’s not even technically July yet, but what can I say, I love holidays. I’m not always the celebrate-with-decorations type (except for at Christmas time), but I am always the celebrate-with-food type :)

I know the temperatures have been up around the hundreds for much of the country and that most people will be grilling over the weekend and on the 4th, so I thought I should come up with a cool, sweet, and, dare I say, healthy dessert. Heck, this would even be good for breakfast! Not to mention, it’s red, white, and blue! Yes, I’m such a cheese.


And did I mention that this parfait is also dairy-free and gluten-free?! I even added a note in the recipe about how to make this sugar-free (I tried it both ways and they’re equally delicious).

I must warn you, though: even though this dessert is cool and light, it’s still quite rich, so if you’re the sharing type (which I know can be very hard), then you might want to share this with a family member or a friend. And if you’re really nice, you could even make parfaits for everyone!

Berries and “Cream” Parfait
Serves: 1 large parfait (this is rich, so it could easily serve 2 people)
  • 1 cup of cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours, rinsed and drained
  • ⅓-1/2 cup filtered water
  • 2-3 Tbs. raw honey (or 15-20 drops of liquid stevia for a sugar-free version)
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ banana, sliced
  • 3 Tbs. goji berries (or ¼ cup strawberry slices)
  • 3 Tbs. buckwheat groats (preferably soaked and dehydrated)
  • blueberries, for topping
  1. To make the whipped “cream”: Place the cashews, water, honey/stevia, and vanilla extract into a high-speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth and fluffy.
  2. To make the parfait: In a bowl or cup, layer the bananas, goji berries, buckwheat groats, and whipped “cream.” Repeat layers again and top with blueberries.
  3. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  4. Enjoy!
For more servings, simple double or even quadruple the recipe.

Raw Taco Night!

I’ve been on a HUGE taco kick recently! I made my Quinoa and Adzuki Bean Tacos twice last week and my husband and I can’t stop going to Digg’s Taco Shop, our new favorite haunt. They have the best vegetarian tacos!!

I saw a recipe for raw tacos not too long ago here and, although they looked awesome, I was a little skeptical about trying them. Well, last night when I was pondering what to make for dinner, nothing sounded good, which Is unusual for me because typically everything sounds good! I started looking through cookbooks and searching through my massive archives of the recipes that I’ve saved and nothing was inspiring me. Until I remembered those raw tacos.

By that point, looking at pictures of food had made me so hungry that I wanted to just throw something together in a hurry so I settled on the raw tacos. Besides, raw often equals fast, right? No cooking means you’re eating sooner and I always love the sound of that. Not to mention, the temperatures have already reached (and surpassed) 100 degrees here in Dallas, so a piping-hot meal just doesn’t sound very appetizing.


Fortunately, in this case, raw did mean fast. It took me maybe 20 minutes to get everything ready, including time to take pictures of the food, and the tacos were done. Not only that, they were AMAZING!! I couldn’t believe how insanely good these tacos were!

I also made a huge batch of raw salsa for the tacos. I ended up eating half of the salsa with a spoon straight from the bowl! Thankfully, I have enough left over that I plan on putting some on my salad for lunch today and saving the rest to make tacos again tonight. Yes, the tacos were that good.


I can already tell I will be making this dish a bunch over the Summer. I know eating raw tacos sounds like a crazy concept–trust me, I was pretty skeptical, too–but these are so much better than I could have ever imagined!! So delicious, in fact, that I’ll be making these healthy, light tacos from this point on when those nagging taco cravings strike.


Raw Tacos
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4 tacos
  • ~~For the taco “meat”:
  • 1 cup walnuts (preferably soaked and dehydrated)
  • 1 Tbs. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce–not raw)
  • 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • ~~For the raw salsa:
  • 1 large, firm vine-ripened tomato, seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper, seeds removed and chopped
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. raw honey
  • ⅛-1/4 tsp. salt
  • ~~For assembling:
  • ½ avocado, chopped
  • Romaine lettuce leaves
  1. To make the taco meat: Place the walnuts into a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse a few more times, just enough so that everything is combined but still has some texture.
  2. To make the salsa: Toss all of the ingredients into a large bowl and stir to combine. This is best after it’s had time to sit and let the flavors meld (a couple of hours in the fridge would work), but it can also be used immediately.
  3. To assemble the tacos: Tear off large Romaine leaves for the taco shell. Layer the taco “meat,” salsa, and chopped avocado.
  4. Serve and enjoy! It’s that easy!


No-oil Jalapeño Avocado Salad Dressing

I’ll be the first one to admit that I have a borderline-crazy obsession with Whole Foods and Central Market. I go into both markets at least once a week and I think I could set up a cot and just sleep at either one and be completely happy (provided that my boys were there with me, too, of course).

I’m currently hooked on the Whole Foods salad bar. I’m pretty sure that I’ve tried every ingredient in every combination possible and I have yet to create something I don’t like. No, it’s not because I’m stellar at combining ingredients–I’ve come up with more failures at home than I care to admit. It’s because everything there is amazing! And because they always post all of the ingredients, I don’t have to worry about the side effects and discomfort that can come from mystery ingredients.

Better yet, a few times I’ve been inspired to go home and create something of my own. The past few times I’ve gotten food from the salad bar, I’ve also gotten the No-Oil Avocado Dressing. I don’t know why it took so long, but it finally dawned on me to try making my own version at home!


After a couple of tries in which I added a few things here and took away a few things there, I’m so happy with the results! No, it’s not exactly like the dressing at Whole Foods, but it’s close enough that I won’t feel the need to rush over there and get something from the salad bar just so that I can get a bunch of the dressing (yes, I’ve done that before).

No-oil Jalapeño Avocado Dressing
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • ½ large avocado
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeds removed and chopped
  • 2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. lime juice (or ½ of a lime)
  • ¼-1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp. dried dill
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper (if you really want a kick!)
  1. Add all of the ingredients (except for water) to a food processor. Process until smooth. With the processor running, slowly add the water to the spout on top. Add until you reach the consistency you like.
  2. Serve on top of your favorite salad and enjoy!
Pour any unused dressing into an air-tight container or jar and save in the fridge for up to three days.

Millet, the Super “Grain,” and Millet Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Basil

Just in case you haven’t formally met, let me introduce you to quinoa’s equally delicious cousin: Millet


Like its cousin quinoa, millet is a gluten-free grain-like seed that is considered a grain in the culinary world because it is cooked much the same way as rice and other grains. Millet has been grown for centuries in Africa, India, Asia, and Europe and has been used in everything from couscous to bread. In fact, there is even mention in the Bible of using millet to make bread! Because of millet’s amazingly mild, somewhat nutty flavor, it’s a versatile “grain” to use in almost any dish.

Besides the great flavor, there are also many health benefits associated with eating millet:

~Digests easily

~Alkalizing in the body

~Is abundant in lignans, a phytonutrient that protects against heart disease

~Has been shown to substantially lower risk for Type 2 diabetes

~Contains niacin, which can help lower cholesterol

~Considered a whole grain and whole grains have been shown to protect against breast cancer

~Contains many wonderful nutrients, including magnesium, calcium, manganese, tryptophan, fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants

Now that you and millet have become better acquainted, let me also introduce you to one of my all-time favorite dishes: Millet Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Basil


This dish is so easy to throw together and it’s amazingly good. I’ll make up a huge serving of this dish and eat it for lunch and dinner for days to come and it never gets old. For those who do eat meat, you could easily toss in some shredded grilled chicken or serve the Millet Salad alongside some grilled or steamed fish.

This is the perfect light Summer salad that will fill you up and keep you feeling healthy and energized. I know I probably shouldn’t say that it’s one of my absolute favorite dishes (because they all are, right?), but it really is! I hope you enjoy, too!


Recipe type: Entree, Side Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: Approx. 2 large main dishes, or 6 smaller side dishes
  • ⅔ cup millet, soaked for at least 8 hours, rinsed and drained
  • 1½ cups water
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup cucumber, chopped
  • ¼ cup sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 Tbs. kalamata olives, sliced
  • ¼ cup basil leaves, sliced in to thin strips
  • ½ Tbs. olive oil
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ⅛-1/4 tsp. powdered stevia (or sweetener of choice)
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  1. To roast the tomatoes, heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Slice the tomatoes in half and place them on a sheet pan, cut side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place the pan in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the tomatoes are tender and their skins are beginning to brown.
  2. While the tomatoes are cooking, also cook the millet. Bring the water to a boil in a small to medium-sized sauce pan. Once the water begins to boil, turn the heat down to low and add the millet. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. I know it’s hard but try not to peek. Check after 15 minutes to see if the water has been absorbed. Once it has, fluff the millet with a fork or spoon, re-cover the pan and remove from heat. It’s best to let the millet sit for at least 5 minutes to allow it to really fluff.
  3. While the tomatoes and the millet are cooking, prepare the cucumber, onion, and olives, tossing them into a large bowl as you go.
  4. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and stevia and set aside.
  5. When the tomatoes are done and have been allowed to cool, pour the delicious juice from the tomatoes into the big bowl with the veggies. Then, roughly chop the tomatoes into large chunks and toss them into the bowl, too.
  6. Add the millet to the large bowl once it has cooled to room temperature. Top with the olive oil mixture and stir everything together until fully combined.
  7. Serve and top with the sliced basil leaves. Enjoy!

Adapted from here


Cookie Dough Makes Everything Better…

It’s been a while since my last post and I’ve missed you guys! Last week was pretty rough, though. In fact, I had two hysterical, crying, emotional breakdowns this past weekend. Yes, two. I’m so ashamed.

It all started when I fell while I was jogging on Monday. I wish I had some heroic story to explain my fall–like, I dove in front of a car to push a defenseless puppy out of harms way–but I’m pretty sure I just tripped over my own two feet and dove onto the concrete. I’ve never done that before and it hurt. Although, not nearly as much as when I had to take a shower afterward. I looked pretty ridiculous limping around with my bandaged knees, hip, elbow and hand over the next few days. As much as I wanted to, I didn’t cry then.

Next up, a completely unexpected hail storm–the worst I’ve ever experienced.

20120617-001536.jpg Fortunately, I was on my way to get groceries and was able to take cover in underground parking before the storm got really bad. I stood around with a bunch of others who had rushed to take cover, too, and we all just watched in awe. And uploaded photos to Facebook, of course :) Some of those hail stones were as large as baseballs!! My car escaped with only minor dents, but I saw some cars with shattered windshields and much more serious damage.

The next day while operating on 4 hours of sleep and taking a timed online midterm, the computer just decided to shut down and not start back up. That’s when the hysterics began. My poor, sweet husband had to deal with me while I threw my tantrum and then again on Saturday when I had yet another fit. Poor guy. He’s a true hero for putting up with my crap.

I don’t mean to complain. It was just one of those rough weeks. Besides, I have to remind myself that there are plenty of ways my week could have been much worse. And as crummy as the week may have begun, it ended with Father’s Day and spending time with my 4 favorite men (and two amazing fathers): my dad, my husband, my brother, and my step-son. I might sometimes forget, but I really am a lucky girl :)

It’s amazing how time with my family can make everything better. That and food, of course. Because my week wasn’t going well, I ended up making and eating a lot of this cookie dough (because cookie dough really does make everything better).


Actually, I have to come clean…it’s not really cookie dough (like the old-fashioned butter, sugar, and eggs kind), it’s better! This cookie dough is completely sugar-free, Vegan-friendly, and made from only healthy ingredients, but still tastes amazingly like the real thing!! I made 3 or 4 batches over the weekend and still can’t get enough of this stuff! You can easily multiply the recipe and make some for your friends, too (if you’re able to share). You could serve this as a spread or a dip and I promise you no one will even guess that it’s healthy! Or just eat it all by yourself with a spoon like I did ;)

Healthy Cookie Dough Spread
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbs. shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 Tbs. almond butter
  • ½ tsp. stevia
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbs. cacao nibs (or chocolate chips)
  1. Add all of the ingredients (except for the cacao nibs/chocolate chips) to a food processor and blend until everything is sticking together and begins to ball up.
  2. If you’re using cacao nibs, you can just toss them into the food processor and pulse a couple of times. If you’re using chocolate chips, fold it into the batter after you’ve removed it from the food processor.
  3. Eat this with a spoon or spread it on top of some toast or, better yet, pancakes! The possibilities are endless!
The consistency of this cookie dough really depends upon how much almond butter you use and how creamy the almond butter is. For example, if you want this to be more like a yummy cookie dough spread (which I HIGHLY recommend), use almond butter that’s more creamy or simply add a little more almond butter to the recipe.

I just love when yummy food is healthy, too, don’t you?