A Kinder Thanksgiving

Dark Faerie Creations

This year we’re headed to family for our Thanksgiving feast. My part of the cooking duties is desert, not pies though. My Mother-In-Law is the amazing pie maker of the family!  So I’ve been scouring the web seeking out recipes because at the moment I’m not taking the time to whip up my own and give a test run or two. So I thought I’d share some fabulous vegetarian and vegan recipes that I’ve stumbled across in hopes you may be inspired to try something different and make a new tradition of a kinder, gentler holiday! Enjoy browsing the recipes and let me know if you tried one or two and how it turned out! 

Here are my picks for my part of the holiday feast baking!


Arbonne Truffles (No Bake)

Mix 3 cups of oats, 2 1/4 cups Arbonne Protein Mix, 2 cups Almond butter, and 1 3/4 cup honey or agave (low glycemic). After mixing ingredients, roll into 1″ balls. Microwave Wilton’s Candy Melts (try 1/3 of a bag) at 30 second intervals. With a fork dip each ball into the chocolate and tap off excess. Sprinkle with topping!

Gluten-Free Chai Latte Cupcakes

Keep scrolling for more delicious recipe ideas!




Main Courses

Pumpkin Pot Pie

Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Balsamic Sage Brown Butter

Whole Roasted Stuffed Delicata Squash

Warm Autumn Tart

Vegan Thanksgiving Wraps

Pumpkin Chili

Classic Nut Loaf

Kale And Ricotta Stuffed Shells With Butternut Squash Sauce

Hefty enough for a main course – Roasted Sweet Potato, Kale & Farro Salad

Mini Pumpkin & White Bean Pot Pies

Vegan Thanksgiving Torte

Roasted Squash with Shallots, Grapes & Sage



Sides & Soups

Baked Acorn Squash With Walnuts And Cranberries

Quinoa “Stuffing”

Simple Pumpkin Soup

Roasted Pumpkin salad With Walnuts

Roasted Green Beans With Lemon and Walnuts

Smokey Butternut Mac & Cheese


Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprout, and Bread Stuffing with Apples



Breads & Appetizers

Cauliflower Garlic Bread

Herb & Cheese Drop Biscuits

Cloud Bread With Garlic and Cheese

Rosemary Cloud Bread

Savory Sweet Potato Bruschetta

Cannellini Bean Dip On Cucumber Chips

Healthier Homemade Biscuits 




Desert & Beverages

Mini Pumpkin Pie Tarts with a Sunflower Cookie Crust

Coconut Whipped Cream

Pumpkin Pie

Peppermint Mocha






Thanksgiving Leftovers Veggie Burger



Let’s talk diet specific goals and shame….



forward-right-arrow-button_318-76852.jpg No, no they don’t. And they don’t want change. I resisted so many changes for so long. Change means leaving a comfort zone. I retreated back to my comfort zone more than once. But it doesn’t change the facts. Somewhere in my deepest inner being I know that eating animals is wrong, wrong for me, the animals and the environment.  Despite nay-sayers I know that eating animals is contributing to global warming. And I KNOW eating all the junk food consumers eat is horrible for our health and longevity. But despite knowing, we have a hard time with change and accepting something is bad or wrong for us. We will make every excuse in the book to continue eating something that’s so wrong but tastes so good. I made every excuse in the book. But the biggest and truest is that I had a hard time when I tried to go full vegan. I haven’t taken enough time to work with beans and legumes to know how to cook a variety of dishes and I don’t want to use soy and need to limit wheat gluten. Plus my husband was a hard core meat eater when we first got together. 



For a long time I battled a war inside me bouncing between veganism and being a meat eater. Every time I ate meat I felt it was wrong. But I had no clue how to juggle healthy vs compassionate. And I began disliking myself more every bite I took. I was ashamed to stand and say I was an animal rights activist and yet I still ate meat. I lied often, so I could still stand up against animal cruelty and not receive condemnation from vegans. I think a large reason I have had weight issues has been over guilty eating and dislike for myself because of eating meat. Most of the time when I was trying to be meat free, I ate a lot of junk food. I wasn’t healthy. 

And it’s difficult trying to speak with people who go meatless because of animal rights issues when quitting meat was a breeze for them. But nutrition is a complicated jungle and if you have any health issues stacked on top make it even more difficult. And many in the animal rights community (at least who I’ve encountered) meet people with nutritional concerns and questions with disdain and anger. Feeling they are not actual issues when compared to the plight of animals. And although I agree, a life is indeed more important that a pork chop in my belly, my human life and health is also important. 


So why did I personally struggle so much going vegan? I only knew how to cook your basic meat and potato meals. I was born and raised on meat, potatoes and sweets. Vegetables were not a big part of my Mom’s cooking, but meat was. Beef and pork were like an every other night swap. With a night for chicken, or a pasta night thrown in. I grew up in a turbulent home and sweets were a refuge and an “I’m sorry” for what I did. Into adulthood I loathed the taste of almost all vegetables. My staple veggies on my adult table were, corn, corn and oh yeah, corn. Eventually I branched out into salad with a cucumber thrown on top with mounds of cheese and croutons to cover the taste of the green stuff.

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Fact was, when I first tried to be a non meat eater, my diet may have been kind, but nutritionally it was a major disaster. I ate salad (as in lettuce), processed boxed crap, pastas and, you guessed it, sweets. I lived off coffee cake, muffins, and bread. I was tired allllll the time. And during this time is when I found out how unhealthy all that boxed stuff was that has a list of 30 ingredients with names you can’t pronounce. And was also finding out that many of the vegan brand products (which I already thought tasted like cardboard or too much green vegetation) had the same problem, a lot of unhealthy added ingredients. Plus I was hearing the negative aspects of eating soy and wheat gluten on a daily basis and recently learning that wheat gluten makes me bloat and may have a big part in my stagnant weight loss. And processed sugars are extremely unhealthy period!

But I’ve learned a lot and am ready for the next steps towards a kinder, more environmentally friendly, and healthier nutrition plan. What are my nutritional goals based on all I’ve learned? As we move closer to the end of my 30 Day Challenge and headed towards the New Year, here is what I’m aiming for in our kitchen…


My husband and I have been moving towards a gradual shift to become meat free. We’ve both been at different stages, and at different times, for different reasons. My husband’s tastes lean vastly more towards a Mediterranean Diet. And I too have found greater health benefits in the Mediterranean Diet, the more I learn about nutrition, and how my body reacts to foods. But I also know that wheat gluten affects me, so now I know that after this cleanse is over I need to lessen the amount of gluten I have in my diet. I won’t be eliminating it, but I do see the reasons to reduce the amount I eat. It’s a filler for the most part, with minimal nutritional value in comparison. And I’m sick of belly bloat!

You can lessen the amount of gluten you eat with some simple changes. Switch from eating regular pasta to a rice pasta, or you can easily make/buy gluten free breads. Also watch labels.  

I’ve spent a lot of time in my life worrying what others think of me and my choices, and I’m tired of playing this game. I worry what vegans will think, I worry what my friends and family will think. No more. My husband and I have taken the time to learn about nutrition and alternate choices when it comes to meat, dairy and sweets. We are making a hard core commitment now in implementing all we’ve learned along the way and all we will learn as we make changes permanent. The chart below shows the breakdown of  the nutrition plan that my husband and I can both work with as we progress our way to a Vegetarian/Vegan lifestyle. I modified the Mediterranean Diet to rely less heavily on fish, this would be called an to be Ovo-Vegetarian/Pescatarian diet. 

This Is The Basics Of A Mediterranean Diet


Starting From The Top….

Tier 1 – Sweets, especially those made with processed sugars and animal products will be severely limited. There are enough raw recipes that have no funky ingredients that can be sweet and delicious. It’s just a matter of either taking the time to learn to make them, or finding a good vegan bakery that maybe specializes in raw treats. Here are some examples …. Raw Deserts

Tier 2 – is all about my glass or two of wine I have when we go out to dinner or are at a social event where drinking is available. We don’t buy alcohol for the house unless it’s the holidays usually. In the summer we may get sangria or beer. But it’s an occasional thing. 

Tier 3 – Fish and sea food for now will remain in our meal planning. But over time I want to phase it out and either move it up to the top and one day I will finally be completely meat free and it will no longer be in our kitchen. 

And tier 4 – Eggs are a pretty regular part of our diet and like fish will be phased out too. 



This right here is the future of protein and could very well one day be our main source of protein. I highly recommend this soy free, gmo free product for your Meatless Monday and beyond!



I could survive almost completely off of tier 5 through 8 –  I’m a pasta lover but until I discovered and actually used gluten free pastas, it meant I had to live with tummy bloat. Tier 5 through 8 is my rock now and we already have been about 90% dairy free (cheese on pizza mainly),  but are now 100% dairy free. The supplements I use from Arbonne keep it all nutritionally sound. 


  • Added sugar: Soda, candies, ice cream, table sugar and many others.
  • Refined grains: White bread, pasta made with refined wheat, etc.
  • Trans fats: Found in margarine and various processed foods.
  • Refined Oils: Soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil and others.
  • Highly processed foods: Everything labelled “low-fat” or “diet” or looks like it was made in a factory. Other than Beyond Meat and a few other similar plant based meatless options. 

One day, I will be completely meat free as I play with more and more recipes and become a better cook in my kitchen. I tried and failed so many times doing it the wrong way so that it would become permanent change. Soy can be unhealthy, as well as gluten can be. I feel very lucky to have come across Arbonne. Because in learning how to be gluten free I’ve learned how I can leap to being meat free without being unhealthy. You just need the right fooducation 😉. To be healthy, you need to cook. And to be a more compassionate consumer you need to cook, and cook the right things to be healthy. We are changing our habits, and you can too. For the animals, for the planet and for YOUR health!


How To Talk To Friends And Family About A Plant Based Diet

In summary: Just like 3/4 of the rest if the world I’m trying to find healthy. And just like all the other animal advocates out there I’m trying to live kinder, but I also want to be healthy. I know I’m not the only other animal rights person who has had issues with becoming vegan. And I know many vegans don’t understand my dilemma. I know many who had trouble with health and veganism hide in the shadows afraid to admit they just don’t have the skills to live life a healthy vegan. I’m trying to find my way back there, but this time in a healthy way. So don’t bash me if you’re a vegan who just doesn’t get it. Help me, share recipes with me and tell me how you found the balance. And in the meantime, I will continue to move forward towards healthy and ethical sustainable living by learning and experimenting with cooking. And as I learn, I will share what I’ve learned so others can lead a kinder more ethical life with food.

Why Veganism Is The Future






The info below is from PETA. I am personally not a fan of PETA and the way they themselves treat animals and their views on euthanasia and especially their views on the Pit Bull breeds. There are many other animals rights/welfare organizations that are more compassionate and much less egotistical. But they are a wealth of information on veganism and sources for vegan products. Arbonne is PETA certified for the products being vegan and cruelty free!



Meatless;  Soy-Free and Gluten-Free 

  • Neat “meat” is a new product made from a mix of nuts and garbanzo beans. It comes in four flavors: Mexican, Italian, Breakfast, and Original.
  • Great Life by Lucinda has a variety of veggie burger mixes.
  • Beyond Meat’s Beyond Beef Crumbles come in both Feisty Crumbles and Beefy Crumbles flavors, and they’re made from pea protein.
  • Beyond Meat’s Beast Burger boasts the fact that it contains more iron and protein than its meaty equivalent, and more omegas than salmon.
  • Cool Foods’ Vegi Bacon are “bacon bits” derived from pinto beans, and are ready to top your baked potato, salad, or soup.
  • Sunshine Burgers are made from a variety of beans, seeds, and brown rice. They come in eight flavors, including Shiitake Mushroom, Loco Chipotle, and Hemp & Sage.
  • Amy’s Sonoma Veggie Burger is made from quinoa, garbanzo beans, nuts, and vegetables.
  • Hilary’s Eat Well Veggie Bites and several types of veggie burgers are made with grains, beans, seeds, and greens and are certified kosher as well.

Meatless; Gluten-Free (*These are not certified gluten-free, but the ingredient labels do not list gluten or wheat.)

  • Gardein offers four gluten-free varieties: Chick’n Scallopini, Chipotle Black Bean Burger, the Ultimate Beefless Ground, and Garden Veggie Burger. These delectable options are made with a soy protein base.
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP) is a dehydrated soy product that looks like little flaky nuggets and is a great stand-in for ground beef. It can be rehydrated in about a minute and works well in spaghetti sauces, chili, tacos, and veggie burgers.
  • Butler Soy Curls are perfect for grilling or cooking in soups, salads, stir-fries, and fajitas.
  • Simply Balanced Smoky Chipotle Meatless Chickenpacks a lot of protein and is perfect for the summer grilling season.
  • Simply Balanced Korean Barbecue Meatless Chickenis another variety from this brand, which is carried exclusively by Target.
  • Simply Balanced Mushroom Miso Meatless Turkeyis the brand’s third faux-meat flavor. Mushroom miso sounds delicious. It’s time to taste-test these cruelty-free meats!
  • Tempeh is a fermented soy product that comes in the form of a dense cake, perfect sliced or cubed and then steamed or fried and added to stir-fries, pasta dishes, salads, and sandwiches. It’s especially delicious when smoked for a “BLT.”
  • Praeger’s veggie burgers come in both kale and California varieties.
  • Amy’s Veggie Loaf is packaged ready to eat! You can also opt for the low-sodium version.
  • Beyond Meat has delectable chicken tenders that you should stock your freezer with ASAP.

Meatless; Soy-Free

  • Seitan is a delectable meatless option made of wheat gluten. Available from many companies, it’s popular because it soaks up flavors extremely well and the texture is chewy and satisfying. You can also make your own!
  • Field Roast vegan meat products are all wheat- and grain-based. They specialize in links, roasts, and meatless loafs—perfect for the holidays or anytime.
  • Bahama Rice Burgers are rice-based and come in seven flavors.
  • Amy’s California Veggie Burgers come in original and low-sodium varieties.
  • Hot Dang Original Grain Burger is so delicious, but remember that only the original flavor is vegan.

*I found a pretty clear explanation here about my issues with soy, and she lays it out much better than I ever could!  Wellness Mama – Is Soy Healthy


Meal Plan Days 16-30 Healthy Living Challenge (with recipes!)


Over halfway done and I’ve already learned so much more about how my body responds to food differently and how easy a shift to eating gluten, dairy and sugar free can be, if you let it, and let it become habit. Having a group of people all making the same changes has been super helpful and insightful. Everyone has their own reasons for taking this challenge. Some it’s just to lose weight, when for some it can be a matter of life or death when they have a life threatening allergic reaction to gluten, to those who suffer from diabetes and other health issues. Then for some who already ditched dairy and most of the sugar from their diet, learning to prepare meals without gluten. At first that task is daunting. Gluten is in EVERYTHING we eat. Boxed foods, breads, pastas, etc… And at it’s best gluten bloats tummy’s, creates digestive issues and limits weight loss. At it’s worst, it’s a severe allergic reaction that can be life threatening.

I also decided to do the 30 day challenge to #1 challenge myself, but #2, to test out more of the Arbonne line I had yet to try. And I’m so glad I did! This was not only for myself, but for #3, my future clients so that I can give first hand knowledge of the how the 30 Days To Healthy Living Challenge feels. I now have a wealth of knowledge and know WHY this program can be a vital part of a nutrition plan, weight loss plan or even just eating healthier. The group I’m in (which you would be too if you too the challenge) is a fabulous resource for recipes, tips, motivation, shopping ideas and product finds. I will be in the group permanently for my own nutrition planning and to help my clients who decide they want a change to healthier eating habits.

I’ve taken you all on this journey for the first 15 days, day by day to show you that YOU can do it, anyone can do it. And in my opinion, everyone SHOULD do it. It teaches you a lot about yourself and what you truly are capable of doing once you commit. My daily post on the challenge are getting pretty routine, other than the recipes so I decided to just post my meal plan for the rest of the challenge in one blog post with recipes! We did our beginning of the month shopping and with all the holiday prep and life getting busier I decided to make a simple, healthy menu plan for the next two weeks.

When the challenge is over I’ll blog a post to wrap things up and let you know some final thoughts about my first 30 Day Challenge!!


Arbonne Shake + Arbonne Daily Fiber + Arbonne Daily Greens
I plan to add a fruit of some kind along with this every day, either in the shake, or just to eat with the shake.

On the weekend, greens salads w/roasted chickpeas and other assorted veggies, seeds and nuts w/hummus or apple cider vinegar and EVOO dressing. Or Eggs with wilted spinach and roasted sweet potatoes. On weekdays it will be a smaller version of the salad along with a coconut yogurt. Or hard boiled eggs and veggies to dip in hummus.
30 minutes after lunch, Arbonne Digestion Plus (doubled).

Arbonne Fizz Stick in Pomegranate or Citrus flavor. Arbonne Fit Chew!

Exercise –
Les Mills Bodypump
Run Training
Whatever else we may add in…

Arbonne Daily Protein Shake + Arbonne Protein Boost
This will give me extra protein in my diet on run days which is great for recovery and my muscles!

Arbonne Herbal Detox Tea



DAY 16

Twice Baked Potatoes


2 large sweet potatoes

2 Tbsp. Earth Balance Spread

1 package Beyond Beef Beef Crumbles

taco seasoning (see recipe at freshandcleanrecipes.com)

1 cup spinach

pink Himalayan sea salt & pepper to taste

fresh salsa (see recipe at freshandcleanrecipes.com) – I used store bought

½ avocado


Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cook potatoes in oven 30-45 min. (or until easily pierced in the center with fork)
Brown ground turkey with taco seasoning and a few tsp. of water.
Cut potatoes in half and scrape inside into a med size bowl saving the skins.
Mix in earth balance, crumbles, spinach and S+P to taste.
Fill skins with the mixed potato. Place in shallow baking dish (covered in foil for easy cleanup) and broil for 5 min until top is browned.
Add a scoop of your favorite fresh salsa and avocado.

DAY 17

Crock Pot Bean Soup

1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 tbs fresh ginger, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup wild rice
1 green bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped
6 stalks celery, chopped
4 large carrots, chopped
3 cups kale, rough chopped
3 cups organic vegetable stock
1 can organic white beans
Fill to the top of veggies with water

Add everything to crock pot, put on low, leave it for 8 hours.

Serve with Baked Sweet Potato

DAY 18

Vegan Fish(ish) Tacos
Recipe @ Project K

DAY 19

Curried Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
2 tbsp curry powder
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional; leave out if you don’t want it spicy)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger root
1 pound red lentils (about 2 1/4 cups), rinsed and picked over to remove any debris
8 cups water, vegetable stock or chicken stock
1 15-oz can coconut milk (stir well before using)
1 tsp pink Himalayan sea salt 
1 bunch Swiss chard, ribs removed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, red pepper,
garlic, ginger and spices and saute until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.
Add the water or stock along with the salt, lentils and coconut milk, and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are cooked through, about 10 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, wash and prep the chard and chop the cilantro.
After the lentils have finished cooking, stir the chard and cilantro into the soup — it will
look like a lot of chard for the soup at first, but have no fear. The chard will wilt down as
it heats up. Keep stirring until the chard is bright green and wilted, about another 2
minutes. Taste and season as needed with more salt or pepper, and serve.
Serves 8-10.

Served with a side salad.

DAY 20

Garlicky Greens with Pasta

1 tbsp. salt
2 lbs. broccoli rabe, mustard or dandelion greens, cut into 1” strips
1 lb. uncooked brown rice penne, or other tube pasta
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1-2 tsp. fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
2-4 tbsp. pine nuts (can substitute almonds if you don’t mind a nuttier flavor)
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

In large pot, bring 2-3 quarts of water to a boil. Add salt and toss greens into boiling
water. Cook until almost tender, about 8-10 minutes.
With slotted spoon, remove greens from pot (don’t discard water) and toss them in
large bowl of ice water. Let rest 2 minutes in ice water, then drain greens in colander.
Return pot of water to a boil. Add pasta. Cook according to directions on package.
While pasta is cooking, squeeze greens to remove as much water as possible. Toss to
separate and set aside.
In large sauté pan or wok, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring
constantly with wooden spoon, just until garlic begins to turn golden brown. (Burnt
garlic will turn bitter, so do not overcook.) Add red pepper.
Just before pasta is done, add greens to garlic and oil and cook for about 2 minutes,
stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat.
Drain pasta, leaving a bit of water clinging to it. Immediately add pasta to cooked
greens still in pan; toss well with fresh basil and pine nuts and season to taste with salt
and pepper. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings

Serve with a Side Salad

DAY 21

Linguine with Purple Cabbage

¼ cup olive oil
2 med. red onion, thinly sliced
6 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large head red cabbage, thinly sliced (8 cups)
1 lb. brown rice linguine
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
½ cup pine nuts

In large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onions, cover, and cook,
stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes.
Add garlic and cook about 3 minutes more, uncovered, stirring periodically. Add
cabbage, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender, about 20
While cabbage is cooking, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.
Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking water in a bowl or cup. Return pasta to empty
Add cabbage-onion mixture to pasta. Pour in reserved pasta cooking water and toss
well to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve in bowls with pine nuts sprinkled on top.
Yield: 4 servings

Serve with a Side Salad or Asparagus

DAY 22

Sweet Potato Tacos

2 lg. sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 red or yellow bell pepper, finely diced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
8 to 10 small brown rice tortillas
Chopped cilantro for garnish
Salsa for topping

Place a steamer basket in medium saucepan with enough water on the bottom of the
pot to create steam. Place cubed potatoes into the basket, cover and steam over
medium-low heat until for-tender, about 20-25 minutes; drain. Keep an eye on pot to be
sure that water doesn’t evaporate.
Meanwhile, in medium sauté pan over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onion and bell
peppers and cook about 7 minutes, until vegetables are translucent.
When potatoes are finished cooking, transfer to large bowl. Add garlic, cayenne
pepper, jalapeño, onion and pepper mixture; add salt and pepper to taste. Mash all
ingredients – you can leave them chunky or smooth.
Fill tortillas with filling, sprinkle with cilantro, top with salsa and serve.
Yield: 8-10 servings

DAY 23

Tropical Quinoa & Black Bean Salad

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed drained
1 fresh mango, cubed
1 ripe avocado, cubed
1 cucumber, seeds removed and diced
1⁄2 cup mint, chopped
1⁄2 cup fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
1⁄3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp lime juice
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper

Place the quinoa along with 2 cups salted water in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring
to a boil, then reduce to the lowest heat setting. Simmer until water is completely
absorbed and quinoa is fluffy, about 20 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive
oil, lime juice, and garlic. Add the remaining ingredients, including the quinoa, and
gently combine. Season with salt and pepper. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes to let the
salad cool and flavors combine. Serve immediately.

Served with a side of broccoli.

DAY 24

Quinoa “Sliders” – Serves 8
Here’s a delicious veggie burger you can whip up from scratch. Stash a few in the freezer for busy weeknight meals. This makes a great lunch or casual family dinner. The butter lettuce is used in place of buns.

½ cup quinoa
1 small onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped (¼ cup)
1½ cups cooked black beans, or 1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
2 tsp. dried steak seasonings
Whole butter lettuce leaves

Stir together quinoa and 1½ cups water in small saucepan, and season with salt, if
desired. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes,
or until all liquid is absorbed. (You should have 1½ cups cooked quinoa.) Meanwhile,
place onion and sun-dried tomatoes in medium nonstick skillet, and cook over
medium heat. (The oil left on the tomatoes should be enough to sauté the onion.)
Cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until onion has softened. Stir in ¾ cup black beans, garlic,
steak seasoning, and 1½ cups water. Simmer 9 to 11 minutes, or until most of liquid
has evaporated.Transfer bean-onion mixture to food processor, add ¾ cup cooked
quinoa, and process until smooth. Transfer to bowl, and stir in remaining ¾ cup
quinoa and remaining ¾ cup black beans. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and
cool. Preheat oven to 350°F, and generously coat baking sheet with cooking spray.
Shape bean mixture into slider-sized patties and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake
15-20 minutes, or until patties are crisp on top. Flip patties with spatula, and bake 5-
10 minutes more, or until both sides are crisp and brown. Serve on butter lettuce

Served with Baked Sweet Potato

Day 25

Herbed Cod

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
3/4 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 lb cod,or other whitefish
1 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Combine all ingredients except the fish and lemon.
Rub the fish with the spices, then place on a lightly-oiled baking sheet.
Bake for 7 minutes, then turn over and bake another 7 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when scraped with a fork.
Drizzle with lemon to serve.

Serve with brown rice or quinoa & broccoli

DAY 26

Wild Rice & Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash

3 medium acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds each), halved lengthwise and seeds removed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 cups cooked wild rice mix
2/3 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Pink Himalayan Sea Salt salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

Heat the oven to 450°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Place the squash cut-side up on
a baking sheet, brush 1 tablespoon of the melted butter over the tops and insides of the
squash halves, sprinkle with the brown sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in
the oven until just fork tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon of
the melted butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When it foams, add the onion,
shallots, and celery, season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring
occasionally, until just softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the thyme and cook until just
fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the rice, pecans, cranberries,
and measured salt and pepper. Divide the rice filling among the roasted squash halves
(about 1/2 cup for each) and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of butter over top.
Continue roasting until the squash is completely fork tender, the edges have started to
brown, and the filling is heated through, about 20 to 25 minutes.

DAY 27

Stuffed Green Peppers

1 PKG Beyond Meat Crumbles
2 c. Cooked Brown Rice
2 cans organic diced Tomatoes
Diced red cabbage
Diced Onions
Pink Himalayan salt, Garlic powder, oregano to taste

Stuff 6 green peppers
Top with organic tomato sauce
Bake on 350 for 45 mins

Served with a side salad

DAY 28

Recipe @ The Minimalist Baker

DAY 29

Eggs with wilted spinach and roasted sweet potatoes

Roasted Sweet Potatoes


2 Sweet Potatoes (medium size)
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil, melted
1/2 Tbsp Cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Wash & cut sweet potatoes into cubes
Lay sweet potatoes flat on a baking sheet (in one layer)
Melt coconut oil in microwave (approx 30 sec)
Drizzle sweet potatoes with coconut oil & sprinkle with cinnamon
Bake for 15-20 minutes
Flip sweet potatoes & bake for another 15-20 minutes

DAY 30


2 PKG Beyond Meat Crumbles
1 large organic onion, chopped small
1 large organic red bell pepper, chopped small
10-12 cloves of organic fresh garlic, chopped (if cutting the recipe in half, use 6 cloves of
4 Tbs chili powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
4 tsp ground cumin
2 jars of salsa verde from Trader Joes (12 oz each) (Or you can use other green salsa,
taco sauce
½ cup water
2 cans of organic beans, rinsed, One Kidney, one Pinto.

Cook crumbles, onions and red bell pepper in a large soup pot over medium heat,
crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add garlic, chili powder, cumin and cayenne; cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir
in beans, salsa (or sauce) and water; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and
cook stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and flavors blend, about 20
minutes. Serve with fresh avocado


If you’re interested in more info on the 30 Days To Healthy Living Challenge, just fill out the form below and I will be in touch to help you get started on a road to healthier living!


Day 13/30 – Healthy Living Challenge

We had a stay in day yesterday. I had a morning migraine that lingered halfway through the day. Likely caused by what they were calling a nor’easter. This time of year that translated to rain being pushed by a cold front. Barometer changes like that, big ones, and I get a migraine 😣  I was craving warmth all day even though it was warm outside still. So the menu for the day was very autumn like and comforting but in a healthy way.

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We just kind of hung out at the apartment and binge watched Stranger Things. I love this show. It’s different. And this season is even better than last as we get to know the characters  more and more. The show has flavors of the old Stephen King movie Stand By Me mixed with some of the mystery like It. But it’s completely it’s own story. The kids are becoming pretty talented actors in my opinion. And I’ve always been a big Winona Ryder fan and have a soft spot for Sean Astin from back in the Samwise days of Lord Of The Rings. Shows like open up opportunities to actors and actresses that tend to not fit the normal mold for stardom. I tend to lean towards sci-fi for that reason. 


I’m learning so much from this 30 Day Challenge. Learning about how my body responds to foods and how much more energy I have when I don’t eat wheat/gluten. This is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I would rank this up there with quitting smoking. It’s been a huge help to understanding how my body responds to just good nutrition. 

If you’d like any info, or have any questions feel free to drop a message below or send me a quick email. I’d love to hear from you and help you live a healthier version of yourself!


PicMonkey Collage

BREAKFAST: Arbonne Pumpkin Shake (see recipe – I modified a bit with the brand of pumpkin)

LUNCH: Greens salad w/roasted sweet potato and balsamic vinegar dressing. About 30 minutes later, Arbonne Digestion Plus w/water

EXERCISE/SNACK: Les Mills Bodyflow (It’s dance/yoga) + Arbonne Pomegranate Fizz Stick w/water.

DINNER:  Minestrone Soup w/(not pictured)  a side salad of greens w/beets and nuts w/balsamic dressing

Gluten Free Minestrone Soup

2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
14.5 oz canned whole peeled tomatoes – no salt added, with juice
1 – 6 oz tomato paste
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1-2 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
15.5 oz canned kidney beans low sodium, rinsed and drained
1 cup gluten-free pasta uncooked
ground black pepper and sea salt to taste

Add tomatoes and juice to a large saucepan and break tomatoes into chunks with the edge of a large spoon.
Add vegetable broth, tomato paste, mixed vegetables, garlic, basil and thyme, stir to mix well, cover and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
Reduce heat to medium and simmer partially covered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add kidney beans and pasta and continue to simmer partially covered on medium or medium low heat for about 15 minutes or until veggies and pasta are soft. (Stir every few minutes and be careful not to overcook the pasta.)
Sprinkle individual servings with ground black pepper, salt and/or vegan parmesan cheese to taste.

BEFORE BED:  Arbonne Herbal Detox Tea 

How to Make Plant Milks, Super Easy, Super Nutritious & Super Delicious! Also How to make Death Wish Irish Coffee!!


How to Make Plant Milks, Super Easy, Super Nutritious & Super Delicious! Also How to make Death Wish Irish Coffee!!

Gluten Free Bread

Recipe by Amy Fothergill, courtesy of The Warm Kitchen Cookbook
This is a tried and true recipe for a simple yet delicious gluten-free bread recipe. It can be made with regular milk or a milk substitute. I usually use almond or coconut as the substitute. If you need to make it egg-free, you can use a flax or chia seed substitute. However, I would add more yeast (3 teaspoons total) or add a 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder to the dry ingredients. Make sure to let it rest about 15 minutes before you slice it; otherwise it might fall apart. It can be left at room temperature for about 24-36 hours. After that, place in the fridge and reheat in a toaster.
If you find pockets of flour in the corners of your bread when it’s done baking, you can mix the dry and liquid ingredients in a bowl first, then add it to the breadmaker pan without the paddle.
To make this in loaf pans, first mix the dry and liquid ingredients in separate bowls. Then vigorously mix the two together in a large bowl with a spatula for about 2 minutes (you can also use a stand up mixer). Spray or grease 2 loaf pans and place bread dough in the two pans, dividing evenly. Let rise covered 30 minutes in a warm place. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top. Let rest in pan 5 minutes. Remove and then let cool before slicing.
To get more recipes, visit thewebsite: www.amythefamilychef.com
The Warm Kitchen cookbook has more detailed information and over 150 recipes and 450 photos.
3 ¼ cups Amy’s gluten-free flour mix (see below or use something similar)
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (more or less depending upon your taste; less if you have regular salt)
2 1/4 teaspoons quick rise yeast (1 packet)
Optional: 1/8 teaspoon dry ground ginger (this helps the bread stay fresher; use if it you think the bread won’t be eaten in 3 days)
1 cup hot water (between 120-130F)
1/2 cup warm milk or milk substitute (you can use all water instead of milk)
2 eggs, beaten, at room temperature
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil like safflower
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
Tip: Measure the oil first and then the honey or agave so it does not stick to the measuring spoon.
  1. Mix flour (or flours), gum, salt, yeast and ginger in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. Place breadmaker pan in breadmaker with the blade/paddle. Add hot water and milk (or all water). In a small bowl, mix eggs, vinegar, oil, and honey or agave; add to bread maker bowl and combine with water.
  3. Carefully add flour mixture to the breadmaker, one cup at a time, so that the flour mixture does not spill.
  4. Turn breadmaker on. Use the Fast or Quick Bake setting for the quick-rise yeast, about 60 minutes. Gluten-free bread dough looks more like cake batter and it’s very sticky; that is normal. You may need to scrape the corners of the bowl while it’s mixing as the flour can accumulate there. Be careful to not move the paddle.
  5. When baking cycle is done, immediately remove hot bread from bowl/pan and place on a wire rack.
  6. Cool for 10 minutes. Carefully remove blade from bottom of the bread. Wait another 5-10 minutes before cutting.
Amy’s gluten-free flour mix
Mix the following and place in an air-tight container:
3 cups superfine brown rice flour
1 cup millet flour (or superfine white rice flour)
1 cup potato starch (not flour)
1 cup tapioca starch or flour
If you want a heartier bread, measure 2 3/4 cups of the above blend into a bowl and then add 1/2 cup sorghum flour to it; Use this for the 3 1/4 cups of gf flour needed in the recipe above.

some of my favorite cookbooks


One Part Plant  

Naturally Nourished 

Wanderlust Find Your True Fork: Journeys in Healthy, Delicious, and Ethical Eating

The Intuitive Eating Workbook: Ten Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food (A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)

Thug Kitchen 

The Pescetarian Plan: The Vegetarian + Seafood Way to Lose Weight and Love Your Food

Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year

Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking: 101 Entirely Plant-based, Mostly Gluten-Free, Easy and Delicious Recipes

Nourish Bowls: Simple and Nutritious Balanced Meals in a Bowl

The Healthy Ketogenic Vegetarian Cookbook: 100 Easy & Delicious Ketogenic Vegetarian Diet Recipes For Weight Loss and Radiant Health

Plant-Strong: Discover the World’s Healthiest Diet–with 150 Engine 2 Recipes




While I myself am not doing a vegan nutrition plan, something vegans and even vegetarians who are finicky need to remember: By eliminating food groups from your diet, you are potentially at risk of missing out on certain micronutrients. By avoiding animal and animal products, a vegan diet is at risk of being low in calcium, vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, if you follow a vegan diet it is essential that you get enough of these nutrients through specific vegan food sources – and may even need to take additional supplements.

When selecting dairy-free alternatives, make sure you are choosing the fortified options. Humus is a good nutrition choice; tahini (sesame seed paste)  is a good source of calcium, zinc and iron, which are all micronutrients hard to get a hold of on a vegan diet.

While within my own lifestyle I am focusing on a a more pescatarian/vegetarian/ovo-vegetarian, dairy free, gluten free,  centered nutrition plan, I am also trying to keep my nutrition clean and whole food oriented and items like these below that are consumed by many vegetarians and vegans I just keep out of my diet.

Soy, in large or often amounts: “because the soybean contains large quantities of natural toxins or “antinutrients.” First among them are potent enzyme inhibitors that block the action of trypsin and other enzymes needed for protein digestion.”

Nutritional Yeast: Simply because I don’t think it makes ANYTHING really taste like cheese. I would rather just eliminate the cheese and stop trying to emulate it with something that tatses nothing like the cheese I so love and is so bad for me and my health. It just toys with my senses.


Rainbow Lentil Bowls


Rainbow Lentil Bowls


  • 4 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1 cup pico de gallo (or fresh tomato salsa)
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped red cabbage
  • 2 cups cooked brown lentils (or green lentils)
  • 1 cup chopped orange bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes (or grape tomatoes)


  1. Evenly divide salad greens and red cabbage between four serving bowls.
  2. Evenly layer half of pico de gallo, cheese, cabbage, lentils, orange bell pepper, green bell pepper, tomatoes, and remaining half of pico de gallo on top of salad greens in “stripes.”


Photos by Amanda Meixner and Dani Paris

Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad


Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad

I tweaked this recipe to make it more keto and vegan friendly. Great summer dish!


  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch Sea Salt and Pepper


  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Freshly cracked pepper


  • 1 lb chickpea pasta
  • 1/4 bunch Italian parsley


  1. Wash the zucchini, yellow squash, and red bell pepper. Remove the stems, then cut them into large slices or pieces (remove the seeds from the bell pepper. Slice the red onion into thick slices.
  2. Place the zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, red onion, and grape tomatoes on a large baking sheet and drizzle olive oil over top. Gently toss the vegetables until they are well coated in oil. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper over top. (Grape tomatoes are generally too small to place directly on a grill, so if using a grill just add the tomatoes to the salad fresh.)
  3. Grill the vegetables over an open flame until they are charred and tender. OR, adjust your oven’s top rack to be about 6 inches below the broiler unit and turn the broiler on to high. Place the baking sheet under the broiler and watch it closely until the vegetable become charred and tender (about 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven and distance from the broiler).
  4. Allow the vegetables to cool slightly after grilling or broiling. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil to cook the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and boil for 7-10 minutes, or just until the pasta is tender. Drain the pasta in a colander and allow it to cool slightly (until it’s no longer steaming).
  5. While the pasta is cooking and the vegetables are cooling, prepare the creamy balsamic vinaigrette. To a jar or bowl add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper. Whisk the ingredients together or close the jar and shake until combined.**
  6. Once the vegetables are cool enough to handle, chop them into smaller, 1-inch pieces. Roughly chop the parsley leaves.
  7. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, chopped vegetables, and parsley. Pour the vinaigrette over top, starting with half and adding more to your liking. Gently stir the pasta and vegetables until everything is coated in dressing. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.


Adapted Recipe From: Budget Bytes

Summertime Grilled Veggie Marinades

Summer 🌞
Beaches, picnics, vacations, swimming, baseball, sunshiny days, warm balmy nights and, grilling out doors!
Hubby and I are planning one of our firsts. Our first grill! As apartment dwellers we’ve seen a lot of restrictions on grills and just no grills allowed at most places. But where we are now we can have a grill, finally!
Veggies straight off an outdoor
grill is my favorite way to eat them other than raw. Can’t wait to use these on the grill outside instead of toaster oven, inside!!
  • Eggplant with coconut oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, and garlic
  • Zucchini with grapeseed oil, lemon juice, and basil
  • Summer squash with avocado oil, lime juice, and mint
  • Green beans with equal parts sesame oil and grapeseed oil, Chinese black vinegar, ginger, and orange zest
  • Corn on the cob with avocado oil, lime juice, and chile pepper
  • Sweet bell peppers/zucchini with avocado oil, balsamic vinegar, minced onion, fresh basil, minced garlic, sea salt, pepper
  • Eggplant/pattypan squash with avocado oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic clove/grated, sea salt, red chili flakes, fresh mint minced, fresh oregano minced
  • Sweet bell
  • ll peppers with grapeseed oil, vinegar, Italian seasoning, sea salt, pepper
  • Summer squash/carrots/asparagus with pomegranate balsamic vinegar, honey, sea salt, pepper, coconut oil, chopped fresh sage, chopped parsley