Sunday, July 15, 2012

Light Vegetable Lasagna Recipe: Time Saving Tips for the 9 - 5 Working Vegan

Dear Readers,

I hope this post finds you all doing quite well.  I have recently started working a full time 9 -5 job.  As you may know, for the past three years I have worked for myself as a yoga instructor and while I was busy my schedule was much more flexible.  I am enjoying my new job but it has taken some getting used.  I find I have to really plan and schedule ahead to make sure I have healthy delicious meals to eat every day.  I am also working on creating a new schedule for blogging so that I can continue to post new recipes with helpful tips for this lifestyle on a time budget.

Today I am sharing a light vegetable lasagna that is a wonderful summer meal.  The main ingredients are currently in season such as the tomatoes, zucchini, and basil.  In fact the reason I decided to make this recipe was because my boyfriend brought me a giant zucchini that was given to him by a coworker picked from his garden.  I wish I had taken a picture of this zucchini because it was about 3 times the size of a typical zucchini.  Also, speaking of tomatoes, I have a picture of our tomato garden below.  You can't see them but they are covered with tons of green tomatoes!  We are impatiently waiting for our green tomatoes to turn red so we can start enjoying them!

Five Time Saving Tips For the Working Vegan:

1.  Create snacks ahead of time that you can enjoy during the week or take into work in    addition to lunches.  Right now I have got some flax granola going in the dehydrator that I plan on using for snacks for the week.

2.  Prep your fruits and vegetables ahead of time so that when you reach for them they are already chopped, sliced and diced and ready to go for cooking or smoothies.

3.  Have a go to fast food healthy choice in case your in a pinch and stuck without food.  My healthy fast food choices are Chipotle ( veggie bean burrito bowl), Wendy's    (Bakedpotato) or a grocery store's fresh cut fruit.

4.  Bring no hassle fruits with you that do not require a lot of prep work to enjoy.  Bananas and apples are great examples.

5.  Make sure you have a stash of nuts and or dried fruit if you need a snack or have a hunger attack.

Do you have any time saving tips that you can share?

Vegetable Lasagna Recipe:

2 medium zucchini
3 avocados
Handful of basil
4 tomatoes
4 carrots shredded
1/4 onion
Sea Salt to taste

1.  Peel zucchini into thin strips.
2.  In a food processor, blend the avocados with fresh basil, 1/4 onion and sea salt to taste.  
3.  Slice tomatoes thinly.
4.  You are now ready to assemble your lasagna!  
5.  First, create a layer of zucchini noodles on the bottom of a glass baking pan.
6.  Next create a layer of your avocado pesto.
7.  Sprinkle the shredded carrots on top of the avocado pest.
8.  For your final layer, add a layer of sliced tomatoes.  
9.  Continue to build up your layers until you are out of ingredients.  If you use a smaller pan you will probably make two to three layers.  With a larger pan, you may only have one layer.  
10.  Allow the lasagna to set for half an hour and then dig in and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Green Smoothie with Blueberries! Happy 4th of July!

Thank you for all of the comments on my last post for my mango, banana, carrot, coconut breakfast pudding!  I hope some of you got to try that super easy and delicious recipe.  I think the carrot especially adds a lot of depth to that recipe, providing some veggies for the day in a very palatable way.  The carrot also turns the smoothie a very pretty rich orange color.

As I mentioned in my last post, I went to the restaurant cafe sunflower to celebrate my birthday.  The picture above is myself with my boyfriend at Cafe Sunflower.  This is definitely my favorite vegan restaurant in Atlanta and I love to go there on special occasions!  The restaurant has two different locations but my favorite location is the one in Buckhead, the heart of Atlanta.  This one is my favorite because of the atmosphere inside of the restaurant, I love the interior decorating at this location.  Both locations have different menu options and I like the menu options at the Buckhead location best.  My two favorite menu items are the Orzo Eggplant Lasagna and the Sesame Chicken.  

During my recent trip to Cafe Sunflower I decided to be different and order something new off of the menu, it was a coconut curry vegetable dish.  When I ordered it I was thinking of some of the delicious thai dishes that I have ordered that are so wonderful.  Unfortunately, I wasn't as pleased with my order and the flavors didn't taste quite right.  I guess that is what happens when you try something different rather than sticking with the tried and true.  However, dessert definitely made up for it, I ordered a slice of coconut cake which was delicious!  I don't have cake often but a slice of vegan cake on my birthday is fine by me.  I am sorry that I don't have any food pictures from my trip to Cafe Sunflower.  I only have people pictures!

The next day I went blueberry picking with my family.  My dad has a friend that has a blueberry farm and he only charges $6 per gallon of blueberries that you pick.  We picked a gallon and they were so delicious!  We do plan on going back again very soon to stock up on blueberries!  

Lately I have been enjoying this green smoothie posted above.  It is filled with mango, banana, kale, and topped off with some fresh picked blueberries.  This is a great breakfast that is quick and easy to make. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Fourth of July!  I will be out of town the next couple of days, vacationing in the North Georgia Mountains!  I can't wait!

Green Smoothie Recipe:

2 mangoes
2 frozen bananas
1 cup of kale
1/4 cup of blueberries


1. Place the sliced mangoes, frozen bananas, and kale into the vitamixer.  If you are using a blender you may need to add half a cup of liquid.
2. Mix until well combined.
3. Pour the smoothie into a bowl and top off with blueberries.  So delicious!  Enjoy!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Mango Banana Carrot Coconut Breakfast Pudding!

This delicious mango banana carrot coconut pudding has been a breakfast staple for me this week!  I can't get enough of it!  It is a quick way to get enough fuel and energy that lasts until lunch time.  It also tastes delicious and is very nutritious!  That is a winning combination if you ask me!

I am sorry but this is going to be a short post!  Today is my birthday and my boyfriend is taking me out for dinner.  Tomorrow I am going out with my family and my boyfriend for lunch at a vegan restaurant.  I will take pictures and post a review of the restaurant!  On Sunday we are going blueberry picking!  Have a wonderful weekend and you have to try this recipe!

Breakfast Pudding:

2 small mangoes
2 frozen bananas
2 carrots
1/4 cup of shredded coconut

1.  Put the mangoes, frozen bananas, and carrots into a vita mixer or blender and blend until you have a smooth consistency.  
2.  Sprinkle the shredded coconut on top of your pudding.  Eat and enjoy!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Interview with Cecilia Kinzie: Before and After Raw Food

Before Raw Food
After Raw Food Diet

Today I am very excited to bring you the results of my interview with Cecilia Kinzie.  You can see her inspiring before and after pictures above.  Many years ago, when I was first researching the raw food diet I came across her blog and was very touched by her story.  I was honored when she contacted me a few weeks ago to write a blog post featuring some of my recipes.  You can read her blog post here.  In return I asked to interview her for my blog and was thrilled when she accepted.  I hope you are inspired and informed from the interview below!

1.  How long have you been eating a raw food diet?  How did you first hear about the raw food diet?

I discovered the diet in 2002, so about ten years ago. I was exclusively raw for the first five years and for 5 years I been high raw but not exclusively raw. I was searching for a way to recover from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and was very open at the time to anything that might help me feel better.

A friend of mine mentioned that a friend of his got better from CFS through raw foods. That same night I did a web search and discovered a few raw food websites which had a lot of great information. The next day I bought my first raw food “cook” book. I started going to raw food potlucks and dived into not only the diet, but the lifestyle as well. It was like a whole new world opened up to me!

2.  How has eating a raw food diet changed you (physically, mentally, and spiritually)?

I was able to heal from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Asthma, depression, and significantly reduce my symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis (IC). I no longer think about my weight, dieting, or calories. I feel satisfied and nourished by what I am eating and no longer have cravings or the desire to binge eat. I have lost all desire to eat any type of junk food. I feel more comfortable and confident in my body. I am able to really listen to the messages my body is giving me. I have more compassion for animals and much more awareness of where my food comes from and how it is grown. I am so much more in tune with nature and the seasons because I eat mostly local. I feel much more aware intuitively and awake in my life. I guess you could say I feel more me!

3.  What percentage of raw food works best for you (50 %, 75 %, or 100 %)?

I played the 100% game for 5 years. I guess now you could say I am high raw.
Now I don’t even think about percentages unless someone asks me.

These are the only things I worry about:
Does the food I eat satisfy and nourish me?
Does the food I eat make me feel good and look good?
Do I feel good about how my food was grown, raised, or processed?

4.  What is your diet like on a typical day?

It is constantly changing but the one thing that is constant is simplicity. Vegetable juices, blended foods (smoothies, soups, purees), and I enjoy steamed veggies, squash, sweet potato, and/or rice and quinoa in the evenings with a special mineral broth that I make. Over the years, I have gravitated towards the lighter easier to digest blended foods and less nuts and dehydrated foods.

5.  What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a raw foodie?

I think the biggest challenge we face is the cost and availability of organic produce. I live in sunny California, so I am luckier than most, but not everyone can afford the raw food diet and lifestyle. In order to afford the best organic produce and supplements, I definitely make financial sacrifices in other areas of my life because my diet is so important to me.
Another challenge I face, is the time it takes to make all my meals from scratch and feeling like I am cleaning the kitchen constantly. That is why I stick to such a simple diet, if not, I wouldn’t get anything else done! I also try to teach others simple raw food recipes because most people are balancing family and work and just don’t have time for fancy food preparation!

6.  How did your friends and family respond to you when you first began eating this way?  Did you deal with any negative feedback and if so how did you handle it?

My family is a group of free spirits who encourage individuality and they have always been extremely supportive. When I first went raw, I was finishing up college and still living at home. My dad bought a special refrigerator just for me, because all my produce didn’t fit in the family fridge anymore!
I have gotten very little negative feedback, probably because I was so clear that what I was doing was beneficial for me. I would tell people, “I got my energy back, I got my life back, and my Asthma is gone from eating this way”. They really couldn’t say anything negative after that.

7.  What are some of your favorite entrees or desserts to eat?

My all time favorite raw entrée is a sprouted buckwheat salad with mashed avocado, garlic, and parsley. My favorite raw dessert is the no nut coconut cream pie from Café Gratitude.

8.  What are some of your staple foods in your kitchen?

I get two organic produce boxes delivered to my house every week, so I guess whatever is in season in Southern California is a staple for me. Since I do a lot of green juices I always have cucumbers, greens, and apples on hand as well.

9.  What is an interesting fact about yourself that readers might be surprised to find out?

I try to spend at least an hour in deep meditation and energetically send love and blessings to the earth or to people in need every single day.

10.  What are your hobbies and interests outside of raw foods?

I love my two Chihuahuas, love taking long walks in nature or on the beach, I love dance and yoga, and I love to meditate and teach meditation. Besides my raw food website and blog I also have a healing meditation website and blog as well, that teaches meditative self healing techniques.

Thanks for reading about me and to learn more about me and the raw food diet, please check out my raw food blog .

Cecilia Kinzie

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Spicy Lentil Tacos

I love any excuse to put smashed avocado on top of my meal.  By default, Mexican food is probably one of my favorite cuisines.  I had the idea to make spicy lentil tacos while cooking dinner for my boyfriend last week.  I was making him ground up turkey tacos and had just added a taco bell seasoning spice packet to his turkey.  I was curious if I could add this seasoning packet to add more of a kick to lentils.  I think lentils on their own can taste rather bland and need something extra to add flavor.

I love lentils because they are very quick and easy to cook.  They are very healthy and have a lot of potential to create a variety of different meals.  However, lately I have been getting a little tired of lentils and have been looking for a way to make them into a more exciting meal.  For lunch today, I added the taco bell seasoning packet to my lentils and it was wonderful!  It really gave the kick that I was looking for.

In the future I will look for a healthier taco seasoning packet.  I think I have seen some at Trader Joe's.  I finished off both of the above tacos for lunch today and was very happy!
The wraps for my tacos are my homemade gluten free wraps that I have made before and posted about here.  They are delicious and I highly recommend that you try them.  

Spicy Lentil Tacos:


2 cups of dried lentils
4 cups of water
Taco bell seasoning packet (or get a healthier version of this like I plan to do!)
Diced tomatoes
Spring salad mix
1/2 avocado

1.  Pour 2 cups of dried lentils into a pot with four cups of water.  
2.  Cover the pot with a lid. Bring the lentils to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
3.  Allow the lentils to simmer for 20 - 25 minutes.
4.  Once they are full cooked, drain the lentils to get rid of excess water.
5.  Add the taco bell seasoning spice to the lentils and mix until well combined.
6.  You can buy taco wraps or follow the recipe for gluten free wraps here.  
7.  Fill your taco with the lentils, diced tomatoes, spring mix salad and smashed 
     avocado.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Get Free Stuff on Your Birthday!!

I know some people really dread celebrating their birthday, especially once they get past their twenties and into their thirties or above.  Yikes.  I am going to be thirty-one this year on June 22.  I don't feel like I am going to be thirty-one but I am still excited about my birthday!  I have always enjoyed birthdays!  Well, now there is reason for you to celebrate your birthday for an entire month!  

Last year I found some websites, similar to this one   and this one that list many of the stores and companies that will give you free stuff during the month of your birthday.  Some restaurants offer free meals, or a free dessert.  Last year I got a free Moe's burrito and I blogged about it here.  Unfortunately, this year Moe's only sent me a free drink with a dip when I order a burrito.  Today I am going to Benihana's restaurant with my brother for lunch.  I will use the $30 off my meal coupon that was e-mailed to me.  

Some companies will send you coupons for a discount or a certain amount of money off of their products.  Some of the discount offers that I received and plan on using are: $5 free at DSW, $10 free at pacifica (awesome natural perfume!), and 2 free bowling games.  
Last week, Aveda sent me a post card in the mail that said they had a $24 gift waiting for me in one of their store locations.  Over the weekend I went to their store location and got to choose between a few different full sized aveda products.  I picked the bath salts! You can see the picture of my free gift from aveda above!

All you have to do to get all of this free stuff is go to the particular company's website and sign up to be on their e-mail subscription list.  I wanted to share this with you so that you can enjoy this birthday perk as much as I have enjoyed it!

Above I have posted my breakfast this morning!  It is the the exact same recipe as my mixed berry oatmeal yesterday, however, the only difference is that I replaced the oatmeal with sliced apples and sprinkled dried coconut on top!  Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mixed Berry Granola with a Splash of Citrus

This is a quick and delicious breakfast filled with colorful antioxidant rich berries.  As long as I can remember, my family has taken me blueberry picking every summer.  When I was a child we would go blueberry picking up in North Carolina near our family cabin.  For the most part this tradition has stayed with me and every summer I love picking berries!  Two weekends ago I went strawberry picking at Washington Farms, which is a strawberry farm in Georgia.  You can see me below with my gallon of strawberries.  The farm charged $10 for the gallon.  It took us around thirty minutes to pick the entire gallon.

The blueberry farm I go to in Georgia charges us $6 per gallon of blueberries!  What a great deal right?  The blueberries at this farm are normally ripe July through early August so I will have to wait a few more weeks to pick blueberries.  Last year my boyfriend and I picked a total of four gallons of blueberries.  We froze most of them to use in smoothies or to top with oatmeal.  I think this year I need to make a blueberry pie!

During the summer months I buy a lot of local food from markets and local farms and the raspberries in my oatmeal this morning are local organic Georgia raspberries.  They are delicious!  Fresh picked berries always taste so much better to me than the kind that you buy in the stores.  Do you plan to pick any berries this summer?  

Mixed Berry Granola Recipe:

1 cup of oatmeal
Handful of blueberries
Handful of raspberries
1 orange juiced
1/4 cup of boiled water
1 tbsp of cinnamon
1 tbsp on agave nectar or honey


1.  Boil water on the stove.
2.  Juice your orange.
3.  Once the water has boiled pour it over your dried oatmeal.
4.  Add the orange juice, blueberries, raspberries, cinnamon, and honey to the oatmeal.
5.  Eat and enjoy!