Blueberry, Apple, Pumpkin, Banana Bread

In the previous post, I shared about my abundance of pumpkin purée, thanks to my fairytale pumpkin. This is just another concoction using that pumpkin and a whole lot of fruit. I had no idea how it was going to turn out, but I must say that I’m pleasantly surprised! Give it a go, and tell me what you think!

Blueberry, Apple, Pumpkin, Banana Bread
(Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Low-Sulfur)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 45 minutes
Makes 16 squares.

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You have this to look forward to!

Ingredients:
2 cups pumpkin (1 can pumpkin purée)
1/2 pint blueberries
2 small apples (peeled and chopped)
2 small very ripe bananas
2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup dried cherries (or other dried fruit of choice)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/8 cup honey
1 and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
coconut oil (to grease the pan)
1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Combine brown rice flour, coconut, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. (If using a flour other than brown rice flour, the mixture may need to bake longer. Brown rice flour tends to need more liquid so it will not be as dense or as grainy. I promise that this recipe does not taste dense or grainy.)

3. Add pumpkin, coconut milk, mashed bananas, honey, vanilla, lemon zest, almonds, and dried cherries. Once thoroughly mixed, add blueberries and apples. (If on a low-sulfur diet, omit dried fruit, and replace one banana with another cup of pumpkin.)

4. Pour mixture into 9-inch, greased baking pan. Bake for 45 minutes, or until fork is clean when testing the center. The top should be a nice golden brown.

This makes for a great breakfast or guilt-free snack!

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Pumpkin Coconut Curry Lentil Soup

A few weeks ago, I puréed my first pumpkin. Canned pumpkin doesn’t exist in Slovenia, so this presented me with the opportunity to learn something new. Though the process of cutting, baking, peeling, and puréeing the pumpkin took more than two hours, I’m proud that I actually did it. I’m also pretty sure that the fairytale pumpkin I bought for six euros, made the equivalent of eight cans of pumpkin. So, since I have more pumpkin than I know what to do with, I’ve been putting it in everything. But it’s okay, because I love pumpkin!

Pumpkin Coconut Curry Lentil Soup
(Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Makes about 4 servings.

Ingredients:
1 cup lentils (rinsed)
1 and 1/2 cups pumpkin purée
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
3 cups water
1 medium green pepper (diced)
1 medium white onion (diced)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon black pepper

1. In medium saucepan, combine water, lentils, pumpkin purée, coconut milk, and coconut oil. Stir thoroughly and bring to boil.

2. While the lentil mixture is heating, combine olive oil, onion, and green pepper in a medium skillet. Season with a pinch of salt, a pinch of black pepper, and a pinch of curry. Sauté until slightly brown. This brings out the flavor of the veggies.

3. Stir the sautéed onion and green pepper into the lentil mixture. Add curry powder, salt, and black pepper. Stir.

4. Simmer on low-medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

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Guilt-Free Mélange Muffins

One of my roommates recently tried a healthy muffin recipe from Pinterest. She and my other roommates raved about them. When I heard the ingredients, I immediately thought, How can that taste good? But because 3 dozen muffins disappeared within a matter of days, I figured I’d try this recipe for myself (with a few adaptations, of course). And I must say, this recipe is addicting. You don’t even know you’re eating veggies!

You can view the original recipe here. But, honestly, I challenge you to try my version. 

Yes, these muffins are vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free. I know what you probably think when you hear those words, because I used to think the same things. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.

Guilt-Free Mélange Muffins
(Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Low-Sulfur)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Makes 18 muffins

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Ingredients:

2 cups shredded carrot
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 large apple (peeled and chopped)
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped almonds (or nut of choice)
1 cup pumpkin purée
1 ripe banana (if on a low-sulfur diet, omit banana and use an extra cup of pumpkin purée)
2 cups gluten-free oat flour (I also tried the recipe with brown rice flour and also chickpea flour.)
1/2 cup raw honey
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Combine carrot, zucchini, apple, coconut, and almonds in large bowl.

3. In another large bowl, combine pumpkin, flour, honey, coconut milk, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, baking soda, salt. Add ripe banana, and mash into the mixture.

4. Combine both mixtures. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full. (I used coconut oil to grease the tin, but you can also use muffin cups.)

5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. After cooling for about 10 minutes, remove from pan to avoid excess moisture at the bottom of the muffin.

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Just make sure you use some self-control when eating these, because they’re that good!

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To read about how my diet has changed, check out these previous posts: Fighting for Joy: DiscouragementFighting for Joy: AttitudeFighting for Joy: It Continues (Part 1 and 2)Farmers Market JuhaFood for Thought.

Coconut Curry Soup

I don’t know what it is about the weather in Ljubljana, but I’ve had the constant craving for soup. It must be the cloudy and chilly days. And if this is the case now, I’m in for a long winter, and my stomach is in for a lot of juha.

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Cloudy Ljubljana, but with a rainbow!

In honor of my juha (soup in Slovene) cravings, here is my latest concoction: Coconut Curry Soup. I love the flavors of smooth, creamy coconut and the kick of curry together. Hence this new recipe!

Coconut Curry SoupIMG_3965
(Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free)

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Makes about 4 servings.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dried lentils (sorted and rinsed)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon coconut oil (olive oil works, too)
1/2 cup corn
1 zucchini (diced)
1 dozen cherry tomatoes (halved)
1/2 cup carrots (diced)
1/2 cup broccoli (diced)
1 small onion (diced)
1/4 cup peas
1/4 cup green beans (chopped)
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes (if you like a little heat)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1. In medium saucepan, combine dried lentils, water, coconut milk, coconut oil, and curry. Bring to a boil.

2. Once boiling, stir in corn, zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, onion, peas, and green beans. Add salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Mix thoroughly, then cover.

3. Allow the mixture to simmer on low-medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked.* (You will know when the lentils are done when you don’t notice a crunch when you bite into them.) Stir occasionally.

*Note: Lentils can turn mushy when overcooked, so make sure you check in occasionally.

Serve hot and enjoy the kick! (And let me know what you think when you try it!)

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To read the backstory of how my diet has changed, check out these previous posts: Fighting for Joy: Discouragement; Fighting for Joy: Attitude; Fighting for Joy: It Continues (Part 1 and 2); Farmers Market JuhaFood for Thought.

Food for Thought

After undergoing treatment for heavy metals these past 10.5 months, my way of thinking about food has drastically changed. I never realized how much diet plays into your overall health, especially foods with sugar, hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and preservatives. After all, food was probably the major cause of my metal toxicity. As a result of nearly a year on a sugar-free, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, low-sulfur, mostly organic and antibiotic/hormone-free diet, I can honestly say that I don’t want to go back to a “normal” diet, especially now that I’m feeling so much better! (You’re probably wondering what on earth I have been eating for the past year. You can view the original diet plan here. Some other foods have been added back in because my food allergies went away!!) And all those who were around me at any point in this process know that I still have a weakness of Kettle Brand potato chips. I don’t think that will ever go away.

But, despite all that God taught (and has been teaching) me spiritually, I’ve also learned how to make wiser decisions in food choices. I’ve learned that fruit and honey are naturally sweet as they are, and I’ve learned that food in the simplest of forms actually tastes best. Who would’ve thought that minimally processing foods would actually bring out more of the simple, natural flavors? And even more, who would’ve thought that this once sugar-and-chocolate-addict would actually prefer homemade desserts without added sugar? Amazing, isn’t it? And I bet some of you are cringing at the idea of not having sugar in desserts, but trust me, with the right ingredients, you can totally do it!

Though I could talk for days about food and what I’ve learned through this process, I decided to spare you all the scientific and technical jargon, get off my soapbox, and actually post my recipes. These recipes are pretty easy, and most of the ingredients can be found at a normal grocery store. (If I’m able to do these recipes in Slovenia, I’m sure you can do this elsewhere!)

Without further ado, here’s my version of Roasted Red Pepper and Coconut Alfredo, inspired by one of my favorite restaurant in Pittsburgh, Eden.

Roasted Red Pepper and Coconut Alfredo Sauce
(Vegan, Gluten-free, Low-sulfur, Sugar-free)IMG_3233

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Makes about 4 servings.

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 medium red peppers
1 medium zucchini (sliced)
1/8 cup water
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon basil (I used dried, but fresh works, too.)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon black pepper (fresh ground pepper works best)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.

2. Cut red peppers in half. Clean out seeds. Place face-down on baking sheet. (I put parchment paper on the baking sheet first.) Bake for 15 minutes, or until the peppers begin to turn dark brown on the outside.

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3. Purée cashews, coconut milk, and water in a good blender. (The blender worked better than a food processor for this dish.) Blend until smooth.

4. Add garlic powder, basil, red pepper flakes, pepper, and salt. Blend thoroughly.

5. Add roasted red peppers. Blend until smooth.

6. In medium skillet, pour olive oil and sauté zucchini until golden brown. Pour Alfredo over zucchini and simmer until hot.

Serve with grilled chicken over your favorite pasta! (My favorite is brown rice pasta.)

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Here’s to clean eating! Dober tek!