Quick, Easy & Healthy Vegan Recipe: Avocado Pesto-Inspired Pasta

Last week, when I returned from St. Lucia late, tired and starving, I quickly looked at what was available in my kitchen so I could make a quick and simple meal. What resulted was a quite filling meal that was made in about 20 minutes. It is inspired by the following recipes:

http://loveandlentils.com/2014/03/24/walnut-hemp-seed-pesto-pasta-with-fresh-tomatoes-olives/

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/pesto_pasta_with_spinach_and_avocado/

http://againstallgrain.com/2013/04/05/dairy-free-pesto-sauce/

Due to lack of certain ingredients, such as basil which really gives pesto its flavour, I modified between these 3 recipes and made my own yummy and healthy vegan version.

 

Avocado Pasta

Serves: 1 or 2

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1 cup fusilli or penne pasta (I used gluten-free fusilli)

1 tablespoon organic almonds

1 tablespoon organic pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon organic sunflower seeds

1 garlic clove

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 avocado, peeled and chopped

ground black pepper

 

Instructions:

1. Boil pasta as indicated by package instructions. Remove from heat, drain and pour pasta back into the pot, and set it aside.

2. Blend almond, seeds, garlic, rosemary leaves, lemon juice, sea salt and olive oil in a food processor/blender until smooth.

3. Put sauce into the pot of pasta over low heat and quickly combine pasta and sauce together until warm.

4. Put pasta onto a plate.  Add avocado on top and sprinkle some black pepper to taste.

5. Mix avocado and ground pepper with pasta; to be eaten warm or at room temperature. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Special Notes:

-I found one plate of this pasta very filling due to the avocado, so my suggestion is to take half of the portion and pair it with a mixed greens salad tossed in a few drops of raw apple cider vinegar and olive oil. That way, you can share the other portion with someone else, or you have extras for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner!

“Fall-ing” Back into Routines & Avocado Vegan Milkshake Recipe

While I was away in South Korea, I didn’t have frequent access to the internet/computer so I didn’t really have a chance to announce the winner to my book giveaway. Congratulations to my reader Safu79 for winning the book! 🙂

Even though September has arrived and a new school year and season has begun, which is always a busy month for me as I adjust back to regular and new routines, trying to achieve work-life balance again, I plan to slowly catch up with what all my blogger friends have been up to, and will be posting some more summer adventures or discoveries in Vancouver and Korea whenever I have time. I have so many things to tell you about!!

Without further ado, I would love to tell you about this new drink I discovered and fell in love with…

When I returned from Vancouver, my friend Faith and I met up at her favourite Vietnamese restaurant. Every time she has a meal there, she also orders the avocado milkshake. I was curious as to how it tasted since I love avocados so I ordered one to try that night. To my delight, it had a very creamy rich taste and it wasn’t as sweet as I thought. Therefore, I felt it was healthier than most milkshakes.

Before I left for Korea, I recreated my own healthy version using almond milk and pure maple syrup as the natural sweetener. Today I followed the same recipe with only one more addition which was the banana, and it tastes absolutely divine! This milkshake is reserved for days when you feel like having something totally decadent but at the same time you want something healthy too. 🙂

Below you’ll find my Vietnamese-inspired dairy-free naturally sweetened Avocado Milkshake recipe. Enjoy and savour every single sip! 🙂

Happy Fall & September!

XO,

Violet

Avocado Milkshake

 

Makes: 1 milkshake

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Blending Time: 1-2 minutes

Total Time: about 8 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1 ripe medium avocado

1 ripe banana, chopped

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 cup unsweetened cold almond milk (if you prefer a sweeter taste, go with original)

Optional: 1 tablespoon raw cacao nibs for topping

 

Instructions:

1. Put all ingredients (except the cacao nibs) into the blender and mix.

2. Sprinkle with cacao nibs on top, and enjoy drinking with a straw! 🙂

 

Special Note:

I also added 1 tablespoon of Macro Greens. It is a greens product that is abundant in antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and probiotic cultures.  It is also gluten-free, raw, organic and vegan. I have it almost every day. I find it boosts my energy level and helps with keeping my immune system stronger.

If you would like to learn more about it, this is the one I use: http://www.iherb.com/macrolife-naturals-macro-greens-nutrient-rich-super-food-10-oz-283-5-g/7385

 

 

Raw Mango Chocado Mousse

A few days ago I went grocery shopping for some much needed greens and local produce.  As I passed by the front of the store, I couldn’t help but notice the mangoes from Brazil were on sale.  The reason they were on sale, in my opinion, was because they were quite ripe.  Usually I would stay away from overly ripe fruits unless I really want to eat them immediately.  From previous experiences, I also know that sometimes an overly ripe fruit may be more rotten than you think.  When you peel it off, perhaps you can only eat 10-20% of it!  However, I also learned a very handy trick from my mom on how to tell when a mango is ready to be eaten, so I decided to give it a test (for some reason that day the mangoes were calling out to me, and I couldn’t step away from it! lol).  Thanks to my mom’s wise trick, I brought home a few of these perfectly ripe sweet mangoes! 🙂

Anyways,  I was planning to eat one on its own today as an afternoon snack, but then I  saw the ripe avocado and I was suddenly craving for something chocolatey as well.  Therefore, I thought about mixing all of them together.  Below, you will find the recipe to my successful Raw Mango Chocado Mousse, a refreshing twist to my Avo-Banana-Chocolate Mousse! (see https://violetseverydayadventure.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/avo-banana-chocolate-mousse/)

Whether you have it for a snack or dessert, on your own or served to your loved ones and/or friends, I hope you will enjoy its flavours as much as I did! 🙂

A perfect blend of tangy and sweet healthiness using only 6 ingredients !

A perfect blend of tangy and sweet healthiness using only 7 raw ingredients!  Plus, the combination of avocado, mango and flaxseeds contributes to beautiful glowing skin! 🙂

 

Makes: 1 serving

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Blending Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: about 10 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1 small ripe avocado, peeled, seeded, diced

1 ripe mango, peeled, seeded, diced

2 tablespoons flaxseeds

1 tablespoon cacao powder

2-3 tablespoons natural maple syrup

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ cup filtered water

Optional: use a few remaining mango cubes and a handful of raw cacao nibs as topping

 

Special Notes: 

Sweetness- You can control the degree of sweetness by reducing the amount of maple syrup to your preference.

Avocado- It is filled with fiber and healthy fats, lowers cholesterol,  and keeps skin smooth and youthful.  It helps protect the body from heart disease, cancer, degenerative eye and brain diseases. (info taken from my Avocado, Blueberry & Kale Salad Recipe: https://violetseverydayadventure.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/a-scrumptious-simple-satisfying-superfoods-salad/)

Mango- Eating this nutritionally rich fruit is good for you in so many ways!   To name a few health benefits from eating it: it is anti-cancer, alkalizing and has a low glycemic index (regulates blood sugar level).  Also, it aids in digestion and clears the skin!

Flaxseeds-  I love adding them into almost anything! 🙂  They are high in omega-3 essential fatty acids (good fats), lignans and fibre.  In fact, they have among the highest level of fibre in any food.  They help stabilize blood sugar, promoting cleansing.  Also, including them into your diet will help in having radiant and youthful skin.  However, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should avoid consuming them. (info taken from my Super Bite-Sized Peanut Butter Balls Recipe: https://violetseverydayadventure.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/super-bite-sized-peanut-butter-balls/)

 

Instructions:

  1. Put avocado, mango, flaxseeds, cacao powder, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a blender.
  2. Add water slowly, one tablespoon of water at a time to achieve creamy consistency.
  3. Sprinkle a handful of raw cacao nibs (along with remaining mango if you like) at the top.
  4. Enjoy immediately! 🙂

Storage: can be refrigerated up to 2 hours, then must be consumed.

 

*To find out more about nutritional and health benefits of mangoes, read:

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-health-benefits-of-mangos.html

http://healthmeup.com/photogallery-healthy-living/mango-health-benefits-15-healthy-reasons-to-eat-mangoes/20986

Avo-Banana-Chocolate Mousse

It’s back to school and it means packing energizing healthy snacks for the day! 🙂

I’m determined to continue to eat natural whole foods and stay away from processed food, so usually I will bring some fruits and/or veggies for snacks.  However, sometimes I do crave for something sweeter than a fruit but not as heavy as a muffin.  I used to bring a bowl of yogurt with fruits and raw cacao nibs as my morning snack back in the days when I was still eating dairy.  As I’m now dairy-free, I’m trying to find new healthy snacks to satisfy my sometimes sweet tooth.

I was absolutely thrilled when I discovered this awesome website http://thenourishedself.ca (The Nourished Self) that is totally right up my alley: nourishing and nurturing one’s health and well-being through natural whole foods and yoga.

Anyways, I learned from this site how to make a “sensible snack”.  A sensible snack needs to have all 3 macro nutrients: good fat, clean protein and unrefined carbohydrates.  According to The Nourished Self, having these macro nutrients in a snack will help to:

  • maintain balanced blood sugar levels
  • absorb vitamins and nutrients
  • satisfy hunger
  • maintain weight
  • maintain energy levels

(taken from http://thenourishedself.ca/index.php?page=sensible-snacks)

 

Here’s a delicious and sensible snack that I’ve been bringing to school on days I feel I need some natural sweetness and chocolate; it definitely satisfies my sweet tooth and energizes me until lunch time!

The recipe is inspired by The Nourished Self (original recipe is found here:  http://thenourishedself.ca/index.php?page=super-food-snacking-recipes) and I slightly adjusted it according to my own dietary needs and preference. 🙂

 

Makes: 1 serving

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Blending Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: about 10 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1 avocado

1/2 banana

4 tablespoons natural maple syrup

1 teaspoon of cocoa powder

¼ cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of sea salt (to taste)

a handful of (or 1-2 tablespoons) raw cacao nibs

Optional: use the remaining half of the banana (sliced) as topping, along with the raw cacao nibs

 

Instructions:

  1. Put avocado, banana, maple syrup, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and sea salt in a blender.
  2. Add water slowly, one tablespoon of water at a time to achieve creamy consistency.
  3. Sprinkle a handful of raw cacao nibs (along with sliced bananas if you like) at the top.
  4. Enjoy immediately! 🙂

 

Storage: can be refrigerated up to 2 hours, then must be consumed.

 

This healthy and yummy mousse can also be a delightful dessert!  I have divided 1 serving (bowl) of this mousse into my 3 tiny dessert cups. :)

This healthy and yummy mousse can also be a delightful dessert! I have divided 1 serving (bowl) of this mousse into my 3 tiny dessert cups. 🙂

 

Up for a Sugar-free Cookie Challenge!!

At the special request of  my mother and grandmother, who are both diabetic, but still have a thing for cookies, I decided to rise to the challenge of baking some real “sugar-free” cookies for them.

They gave me specific criteria of what they want in their sugar-free cookies.  They wanted the cookies to be sugar-free, healthy (as in loaded with fiber, which they want to aid in digestion), and have almonds.

Well, it was very fun to experiment in the kitchen and to come up with the perfect sugar-free almond cookie just for them!

I would like to share the following recipe with you.  These cookies are great for those who are diabetic or health conscious (especially those who do not prefer sweets or sugar too much).  I have it on good authority that they are delicious when paired with a cup of steaming coffee or tea!  My mother brought them to work, and her coworkers liked them so much that they asked me for the recipe.

I hope you will enjoy making them as much as I did, and find joy in feeding them to the people you love!

VIOLET’S ALMOND & AVOCADO SUGAR-FREE COOKIES

Oatmeal Avocado Almond Sugar Free Cookies Photo

Makes: 24 cookies

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: about 1 hour

Special Notes: Avocado is used in replacement of butter.  It’s a healthier option as it’s naturally creamy and rich already.  Also, to give that extra almond flavour, almond meal/flour, unsweetened almond milk, and almond extract are used in addition to the chopped almonds.  When the cookies are done, they should have a “cakey” or “biscuity” texture.

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup almond meal/flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Half an avocado or 1 small avocado

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 large egg whites

1 tablespoon almond extract

1 cup chopped almonds

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Mix oats, whole wheat pastry flour, almond meal/flour, cinnamon, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  3. Mash the avocado or put it into a blender if you want it to be creamy.
  4. Blend avocado with almond milk, egg whites and almond extract in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.
  5. Stir in the oat mixture until just moistened.
  6. Finally, stir in the almonds.
  7. With damp hands, roll 1 tablespoon of the batter into a ball, place it on the baking sheet and flatten it to about 1 cm thick; don’t let the sides crack.  Continue until batter is gone, spacing the flattened balls 2 inches apart.
  8. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Let the cookies cool completely.
  10.  Bon appétit!!

Special Information on Almonds:  Almonds is another superfood, and it is not only tasty but nutritious as well!  There are many health benefits to eating almonds on a daily basis.  To name a few, they…

-protect against diabetes

-build strong bones and teeth

-reduce heart disease/attack risk

-provide healthy fats and aid in weight loss

-provide good brain function

-help prevent gallstones

-provide a good source of protein

-give energy

If you’re interested in reading more about almonds, here are the websites I visited:

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/8-health-benefits-of-almonds-king-of-nuts.html

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-eating-almonds-daily-5007.html

What do you think of these cookies?  Would love to hear from you!

Thanks & Love, Violet

A Simple & Satisfying Superfoods Salad!

My Avocado, Blueberry and Kale Salad, minus the chia seeds and pumpkin seeds.  In my haste to eat it, I forgot to add them for the photo!

My Avocado, Blueberry and Kale Salad, minus the chia seeds and pumpkin seeds. In my haste to eat it, I forgot to add them for the photo!

Lately, I’ve been absorbed in reading about the kinds of healthy food we should eat to maintain good health and nutrition.  I learned about the “superfoods”.  It is a term coined for food that have many health and healing benefits and nutrients for the body.  I have been slowly adding some of them into my daily diet.  Of course, there are so many of them, that one can get overwhelmed.  Therefore, it’s one day at a time for me!

Anyways, the other night I was flipping through my newly purchased book written by Kimberly Snyder called The Beauty Detox Foods: Discover the Top 50 Beauty Foods that Will Transform Your Body and Reveal a More Beautiful You, and was excited to try her Blueberry & Avocado Salad recipe, since I love both of these superfoods, and knew I had them in stock.  Today seemed like the perfect day to try it out as I felt like having something light and refreshing for lunch.

In my journey of healthy eating so far, I learned that making your own food is so much better because you control what goes into your mouth, and ultimately your body!

Without further ado, please enjoy my version of the salad, inspired by Kimberly Snyder, using some other superfoods.  I guarantee that you will find this salad simple to taste and make, but very satisfying!

VIOLET’S AVOCADO, BLUEBERRY & KALE SALAD

Makes: 1 serving

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: about 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup kale leaves

1 cup blueberries

1/2 or 1 peeled and chopped into cubes/sliced avocado (the amount depends on how filling you want your salad)

1-2 wedges of lemon

1 tablespoon of chia seeds or pumpkin seeds (or both if you prefer, both are a source of protein; if you prefer to eat your salad without them, you can also leave them out)

Instructions:

  1. Wash, drain and dry blueberries and kale.
  2. Toss kale and blueberries together in a salad bowl with freshly squeezed lemon juice from the wedge of lemon.
  3. Place chopped/sliced avocado on top of the salad, and if you prefer, you can also squeeze a little bit of lemon juice on them.
  4. If you have chia seeds and/or pumpkin seeds, sprinkle them into the salad as well.
  5. Mix the salad and enjoy!

Special Information on Each Superfood & Its Benefits:

Avocado- It is filled with fiber and healthy fats, lowers cholesterol,  and keeps skin smooth and youthful.  It helps protect the body from heart disease, cancer, degenerative eye and brain diseases.

Blueberries- They are high in water and fiber, which help to cut down sugar cravings.  They make eyes (the antioxidant anthocyanin strengthens eyes and vision) and skin beautiful, plus promote brain function, lower stress level, and boost energy.  They also help to prevent the body from diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stomach ulcers and high blood pressure.

Chia Seeds- They are high in fiber, antioxidants, omega-3 fats, protein, calcium, potassium and iron.  They are a good workout food, as they supply the body with strengthening and toning nutrients.  They also help with digestion.  The most amazing thing about this superfood is that they swell more than 5 times their weight in liquid so it means when you add 1-2 tablespoons of them to meals, you will feel fuller faster, and have a long burning source of energy.

Kale-  It is rich in iron, copper, minerals, vitamins A, C, E and K, magnesium,  calcium, and omega-3 fats, and antioxidants.  It is high in fiber so it helps to tone up the body, and make it strong and resilient.  Also, it is an anti-cancer and anti-aging food!  One cup of kale provides about 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.  Other interesting facts about this superfood is that per calorie, it has more iron than beef, and more calcium than milk!  No wonder it is called “the new beef” and “the queen of greens”!!

Lemon- It is rich in vitamin C, balances our pH level, detoxifies the liver, helps to eliminate waste in our body and improves our digestion.

Pumpkin Seeds- They are rich in zinc, magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorous, manganese, copper, sulfur, vitamins A, B, C, E, K, fatty acids, and protein, and contribute to the growth of healthy and shiny hair.  The high zinc content helps in avoiding acne and other skin imbalances.  They help stabilize blood sugar which means weight loss.  Like the lemon, they balance the body’s pH level.  A great fact to know, if you’re looking into moving away from getting protein from meat, is that a 1/4 cup serving of pumpkin seeds provides approximately 16 percent of your daily value of protein.

Sources I took information from, and if you would like to read more about each superfood:

The Beauty Detox Foods: Discover the Top 50 Beauty Foods that Will Transform Your Body and Reveal a More Beautiful You by Kimberly Snyder

http://www.naturalnews.com/038324_food_superfood_nutritional_density.html

http://kimberlysnyder.net/blog/2012/03/31/12-superfoods-for-a-healthier-lifestyle/

http://kimberlysnyder.net/blog/2011/08/23/5-superfoods-that-improve-your-memory/

http://kimberlysnyder.net/blog/2011/06/07/25-snacks-that-will-give-you-energy-througout-the-day/

http://www.drfranklipman.com/the-super-7-foods-with-benefits/

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4408/Top-10-Health-Benefits-of-Eating-Kale.html

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8354/5-amazing-benefits-of-drinking-lemon-water.html

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/16-health-benefits-of-lemons.html

http://getmotivatedpaige.blogspot.ca/2013/01/10-reasons-lemon-juice-is-superfood.html

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-health-benefits-of-pumpkin-seeds.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/253658-what-are-the-benefits-of-eating-pumpkin-seeds/

What are your favourite superfoods, and how do you eat them?

I would love to hear how you add them into your diet, and learn some new recipes for my healthy eating lifestyle!

Thanks & Love, Violet