Cheesy Polenta Fries

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I’ve been on a polenta kick lately. I’m a little late to the party, but I recently discovered all the many fun and delicious things you can do with polenta, and better yet, its so simple to make (especially when you buy pre-cooked polenta tubes!).

This recipe is incredibly easy to throw together, in fact the prep should only take a few minutes. The longest part of the recipe is the time spent baking in the oven (but you can have your feet up enjoying a cup of tea while that is happening!).

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Cheesy Polenta Fries
1 tube of pre-cooked polenta
Olive oil
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Cheesy Marina Sauce
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 cup of organic canned tomatoes
Dash of red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper to taste
1 teaspoon oregano
2 bay leaves finely chopped

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Cut polenta tube in half, then cut in half again and slice into one inch fry pieces.

Coat each piece with olive oil and toss into a bowl of nutritional yeast, then lay flat on an oiled baking sheet. Throw in the oven for approx 20-25 minutes (making sure to watch closely around the 20 minute mark to ensure they don’t burn).

While the fries are cooking, put olive oil in a medium skillet and saute garlic for a few minutes, add tomatoes and seasoning and simmer on low for approx 15 minutes. Place cooked sauce in a blender, add bay leaves and blend until smooth.

Enjoy sauce as a dip for the fries (or as a sauce for pizza or pasta). Or you can simply pop open a jar of store bought marina and kick this step entirely.

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I made these fries as a side dish (originally as experiment) while I was baking my Polenta Mexican Pizza for a guest vegan post on my, oh so adorable friend’s blog, Oh Dear Drea. Please hop over to her blog (and first spend hours reading her honest, heartwarming posts while admiring her outrageously adorable daughter) then give my Mexican concoction a try! I swear its amazingly delicious (and toddler approved!)

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Have a fantastic three day weekend full of lots of family, fun and food!




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Berlin Snacks: Coconut Pineapple Popsicles

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The weather here continues to be unseasonably warm, its been upper 80′s for days in the city, which is unheard of for San Francisco. This is the second heat wave in less than a month and I’ve been desperate to whip up something to cool us down.

This simple popsicle treat was just the trick, and not only was it refreshing, but it also helped with Berlin’s teething, got to love that! We haven’t been on a full shopping excursion for weeks, so I just threw whatever I could find into the blender, trying to include some greens, fat and fiber. I think it turned out pretty good for a “cleaning out the fridge” recipe. Here it is…

Coconut Pineapple Popsicles

1 can of Organic Coconut Milk

1 1/2 cups frozen pineapple chunks

1 cup organic kale

1 banana

2 tablespoons chia seeds

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Place all ingredients into Vitamix (or high power blender) and mix until smooth. Pour mixture into popsicle molds, making sure to fill completely to the brim and insert popsicle stick. Freeze for a min of 3-4 hours.

Once the pops are ready, place into a shallow dish of warm water for approx 30 seconds to loosen up the mold, then carefully pull the pops out of the mold.

If you don’t have popsicle molds they can easily be made in a large ice cube tray or a few dixie cups. Simply pour the mixture into the trays (or cups), insert a wooden popsicle stick into the center. Cover with saran wrap and freeze.

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If your little one is not ready to eat popsicles just yet, simply serve it up as a smoothie. It provides perfect nutrition for the littles.

This picture cracks me up, she was pretty skeptical on her first bite, but she warmed up to it. Plus she downed a whole cup of the smoothie.



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Berlin Bites: Lentil Pasta

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Now I don’t normally plug specific brands, but I’m so in love with this pasta that I had to share this delicious Tolerant pasta with you. I happen to come upon it while shopping at our local co-op and thought the idea was interesting (pasta made with legumes), but was unsure of how it would taste. I sprung for a box and served it up to Berlin and she devoured (I mean devoured) it! I have never seen her eat so much pasta in one sitting, and the brilliant part about it; she was getting a full serving of protein without any added ingredients. She was happy and I was happy. :)

I have prepared the pasta in a few different ways; sometimes only sauteing in butter or olive oil, but usually adding a few greens to the mix to serve up a fully balanced meal. Either way, it tastes good no matter how I’ve prepared it, and she has yet to get tired of it {and she eats it a few times a week}.

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Lentil Pasta

1/2 cup Tolerant Lentil Rotini

1/2 cup of canned chopped tomatoes (I use Pomi)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove of garlic

1/4 small onion chopped

1 small carrot julienned

1/4 cup organic spinach finely chopped

Cook pasta according to directions, I find that it takes a bit longer to cook through than it says on the package-however I do like it extra soft since I’m serving it to a toddler.

Heat olive oil in a small saucepan. Saute onion, garlic and carrots for approx 5 minutes, Add tomatoes and tomato paste, simmer on low for another 5 minutes.

Once pasta is done cooking place chopped spinach on the bottom of strainer and pour pasta over spinach (to steam spinach).

Place pasta, sauce and spinach in a serving bowl and enjoy.

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Tolerant also makes a black bean pasta and provides Fettuccine, Penne and Rotini shape in both the lentil and black bean pastas. I have yet to try the black bean version, but when I do I was thinking I would serve it up as a Macaroni and Cheese. I mean how brilliant is this?? Your picky toddler will never know the difference, and you can feel good about serving them pasta every day if you like!

BTW-I am not getting paid in any way for this post, but I sure should be!



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Berlin Bites: Vegan Almond Ice Cream

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It has been hot, hot, hot here in SF. I’m talking nearly 90 degrees, that is pretty much unheard of around here. It’s been nuts!

But I’m definitely not complaining, I’m a lover of the heat and Berlin and I have enjoyed every minute of it. We went to the beach (twice), went on a hike, visited the Golden Gate Bridge and had lots of park time. Its been pretty much the best week ever.

As you can imagine with this kind of heat, I’ve had a hankering for ice cream. But seeing as I don’t eat dairy, I generally don’t bother (not a fan of much vegan ice cream out there). However since we are sweltering over here, I decided ice cream was a must.

As you guessed already, I didn’t want to expose Berlin to the usual sugary treat, so I whipped up some of my own. It only took five minutes and was delicious and refreshing.

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Vegan Almond Ice Cream

1 cup almond milk

2 tablespoons almond butter

2 large frozen bananas sliced

Toppings: cinnamon and sliced almonds (optional)

Add half of the frozen bananas and half the milk to your Vitamix (or high power blender) and slowly blend until bananas are blended, then do the same thing with the remainder of the bananas and milk. The idea is to take it slow so that the consistency remains creamy and doesn’t get too runny. You want it to be more ice cream like than smoothie like. Then add the almond butter and slowly blend until mixed. Scoop into bowls and top with cinnamon and almonds.

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So simple yet so delicious! Enjoy!




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Berlin Snacks: Almond Zucchini Chips

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I originally set out to make kale chips for Berlin’s snack, but decided against it as I didn’t think she would be down to eat kale alone. But I really wanted to make some sort of vegetable chip since I know she loves chips (don’t worry she’s only had baked tortilla chips!). So I did a little research and discovered yummy zucchini chips. I’ve personally never had them before, but after the last (three) batches I made this week, I’m a fan! The recipes I found were mostly fat laden with butter, whole milk and cheese-making them not so healthy, so I stripped it down to only healthy ingredients to keep the true taste and nutrition of the zucchinis.

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Almond Zucchini Chips

1/2 cup raw almonds

1 large organic zucchini

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon Herbamare (optional)

1/2 cup coconut milk

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Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place raw almonds in a coffee grinder (making sure to clean out the coffee grinder since you’re serving to toddlers).

Grind the almonds down until they are finely processed into almond meal.

Slice washed zucchini with a mandolin slicer. Then mix almond meal and spices in a large ziplock bag.

Dip zucchini slices into coconut milk and place in meal mixture and shake until well coated.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, line zucchini slices onto the sheet and bake for approx 20-30 minutes.

You must watch them very closely while they are baking, they go from not cooked to burnt in seconds (I totally burnt my first batch). I suggest baking them for the first 20 minutes, then watching them every minute there after. You know they are done with they are crispy and lightly browned.

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These are such healthy, easy and delicious treats for you or your little. Hope you enjoy.

Happy Friday!




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Easy Cashew Milk

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I’m not sure that I’ve ever fully discussed my dairy free lifestyle on the blog before, but I’m pretty certain you’re all aware that I’m dairy free. Its been almost three years to the date since I cut dairy out of my diet, right after watching the startling documentary, Food, Inc. This documentary was so eye opening for me that I immediately began to abstain from all animal products.

While I was only a vegan for one year, I have since continued being dairy free and only meat on occasion (usually once or twice a week). I struggled with my decision on how to raise Berlin, while I considered raising her vegan in the beginning, I decided against it since we do still eat meat from time to time in our household. I then decided to raise her dairy free, and did so for the first fourteen months of her life, however with a strong suggestion from pediatrician to at least introduce dairy to her for allergy precautions, I eventually gave her yogurt and butter. She now drinks Kefir on occasion and cashew milk as her replacement for breast milk and I’m happy with my decision as it stands currently.

This recipe only takes a few minutes, the hardest part is soaking the cashews overnight, but as long as you remember to do so, you can have creamy, delicious milk when you rise in the morning. Its perfect with your coffee, on your cereal, in smoothies or just alone (or to dip your cookies in, if your my husband). Now let’s get down to it already!

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Easy Cashew Milk

1 cup raw cashews
2 cups filtered water
1 tablespoon raw honey (if vegan, use pure maple syrup)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt

Soak raw cashews in 4 cups of water overnight. In the morning discard the water and rinse cashews until the water runs clear.

Place cashews and all other ingredients in a high power blender (Vitamix is best) and blend until smooth, approx 2-3 minutes.

I personally find no need to strain cashew milk, however if you don’t like the consistency you can strain through a cheese cloth or nut bag.

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I prefer my milk to be thick and creamy so I use little water in my recipe, but if you like yours more the consistency of regular milk I would suggest adding a cup or two more of water when blending.

Wishing you all a Happy Friday. Enjoy!



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Family Meal: Cheesy Vegan Pot Pie

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Let me start out by saying, these pot pies are delicious! So much in fact, I think I may be making them again this weekend! And I was not the only fan, Berlin ate half a pot pie (that is more than she ever eats!) and Ryan scarfed his down as well. I’m sure we can all agree, that pot pies in general, are usually pretty darn good, but I think the cashew cheese filling made this recipe an extra hit. I contemplated using a traditional flour sauce for the filling, but I wanted it dairy free, and protein filled (to make up for the lack of meat). So I thought why not try cashew cheese, I’ve used it for many other dishes and it never disappoints, and I assure you it didn’t disappoint this time either. The creamy goodness was a perfect compliment to the veggies and worked great with the crust as well. I’m just drooling thinking about it now! So let’s get to it already so you can get started cooking!

Cheesy Vegan Pot Pie

Veggie Filling
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large organic sweet potato chopped
1/3 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup frozen corn
1/3 cup chopped broccoli
1/3 cup chopped carrots
1 can organic white beans rinsed
Herbamare to taste

Cashew Cheese Filling
2 cups soaked raw cashews  (min 2 hours)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Store bought vegan pie crust, both Mrs. Smiths and Pillsbury are dairy free

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Begin by chopping all your veggies and placing the carrots and sweet potatoes in a pot of water. Boil until soft.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the cashew cheese by placing the pre-soaked cashews and all the other ingredients into a high power blender, and blend until smooth (should only take a minute or so max). Add more seasonings as you like.

Next, drain the sweet potatoes, and in the same pot, add the olive oil and saute the remainder of the veggies and beans until warm, approx 5 minutes. I like to season my veggies with Herbamare, but salt and pepper will work as well.

Now preheat the oven to 350 degrees

While the oven is heating roll out the store bought dough to fit the top of your pie dish, I used three 5″ mini pie dishes for this recipe and one pre-made pie crust was sufficient for all three.

Fill each dish with veggies filling, top with cashew cheese and place the dough on top, pressing into the sides of the dish. Then poke a few fork holes in the top of the crust, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for approx 35-40 minutes.

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This recipe may be my secret weapon for getting Berlin to eat more veggies, she didn’t even notice the corn, which typically she would spit out. Next time (dare I say this weekend!) I’m thinking of trying kale and chickpeas and perhaps some cauliflower-hoping Berlin won’t take notice.

As a side note, I used store bought crust for this recipe to shorten the prep, but there is an easy vegan pie crust recipe here if you prefer to make yourself.

Wishing you a pot pie filled weekend!



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Berlin Bites: Cherry Coconut Smoothie

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Can I start off this post by saying just how excited I am that Berlin is (almost) walking! I mean, now there is no stopping this kid. Today she had her sights on a toy from across the room and bolted for it, she took over 10 consecutive steps, and was stable and sure of herself. It’s really amazing to see, brings a tear to my eye just thinking of it now.

Ok enough about Berlin’s monumental milestone, let’s talk smoothies. I have been making this one for Berlin since she began eating solids. It has the perfect amount of sweetness while being packed full of powerful nutrients. The cherries are rich in antioxidants, the almonds provide a good source of fiber and protein, and both the coconut oil and almonds are a great source of healthy fat-all of which are crucial for our young ones developing brains.

This recipe will make enough for a toddler size drink and some left over for yourself. Enjoy!

 

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Cherry Coconut Smoothie

1 cup of almond milk (homemade is best)
1 cup of frozen organic dark sweet cherries
1 tablespoon of raw almonds
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup organic spinach
1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

Place all ingredients in a high power blender and blend until smooth.

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I am honestly not a huge fan of coconut, but I love this smoothie. If you prefer more coconut I would suggest adding a full tablespoon. I’ve also added honey and/or cinnamon to this recipe and both are great.

We are off to the wine country for the weekend, celebrating Ryan’s birthday. Can’t wait for a relaxing weekend at the hot springs! Wishing everyone a fabulous weekend.



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Berlin Bites: Sweet Potato Hot Pockets

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I’m always trying to come up with recipes that are easy, on-the-go meals for Berlin. I would much prefer to pack a meal that can be eaten with her hands, rather than pack a fork or spoon while we are out and about.

When I’m in a rush (which is always) I end up falling back on the food pouches (she likes the Wise Punkin brand), but of course I prefer to have homemade food prepared if at all possible.

I came up with this idea when I spied the frozen Hot Pockets on the shelf (you know, the ones from when you were a little kid?) while strolling through the freezer aisle of the grocery store. I thought for sure I could replicate these, but in a healthy way, and the filling possibilities are endless.

I chose to use spelt flour as it is rich in both fiber and protein and has a high water solubility content; making it easier to digest than other flours (such as whole wheat). I added sunflower seeds for a little flavor and texture and considered next time maybe adding a bit of honey for some sweetness (give it a try and let me know what you think).

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Sweet Potato Hot Pockets

Dough Ingredients:
2 cups spelt flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup warm water
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds

Filling Ingredients:
Medium sweet potato
1/2 cup organic, no salt canned black beans
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 cup organic shredded spinach

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Pierce sweet potato and bake for approx 45 minutes on 400 degrees (I threw mine in the toaster oven in the morning).

While the sweet potato is cooking prepare the dough by combining all ingredients (except 1/3 cup of water) into a food processor and pulsing until a dough forms

Slowly add in the additional 1/3 cup of water as needed, you may not need it, or you may need all of it

Lay the dough in-between two pieces of parchment paper (if rolling impaired like me) and roll until flat

Next use a cookie cutter of choice and cut out the dough (in case you’re wondering, this is a porcupine-doesn’t look like much of anything really)

Once the sweet potato is done baking, remove from the skin and place in a medium mixing bowl, add black beans, cumin and spinach and mash together

Then place your filling on the dough shapes and either fold over or place another shape on top (if small), then crimp the edges with a fork (be careful not to overfill).

Then bake on a cookie sheet in the 400 degree oven for approx 10-12 minutes. Pockets are done when dough is browned.

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You can use just about any filling your heart desires, I chose these specific ingredients as I knew they would satisfy Berlin’s picky tastes.

They will keep in the fridge for a day or two, but then I suggest freezing the leftovers for a quick grab-and-go meal. They can be heated in the microwave for a minute or so, however I prefer throwing them in the toaster oven to keep the dough from getting soggy.

Enjoy!




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Berlin Snacks: Cheesy Crackers

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You might have heard me mention before that Berlin is obsessed with crackers. I don’t know when it all started, but I will tell you there is no turning back. For awhile I was trying to ignore her passion for the salty snack in hopes it would pass, but my denial was getting us nowhere. Every grocery trip was like a broken record, “crackers, crackers” throughout the entire store until I would finally give in (if you don’t know I’m a total pushover when it comes to my daughter). In all honesty, I’m ok with her having crackers on occasion, but since its grown into a love affair I’ve become a bit more concerned with all the processed ingredients and even more so the high sodium.

So this week I set out to make my own healthy, low sodium crackers. Let me start by saying this was no easy task. It took me three tries to get to this recipe and I still feel like it could use some tweaking. However, Berlin was satisfied and ate almost the whole batch in one sitting, so I dubbed this recipe complete.

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Cheesy Crackers

2 cups blanched almond flour

4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 egg (or flax egg to make vegan)

1-2 tablespoons of water

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large mixing bowl mix all dry ingredients together.

In a smaller bowl whisk egg and oil together.

Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms. If the dough is crumbly add the water until dough is solid (I needed approx 1 tablespoon).

Cut two pieces of parchment paper the size of your baking sheet. Lay the first piece on a cutting board (or counter) and place dough in the middle.

Lay second piece of parchment paper over the dough and roll out until dough is about 1/4″ thick.

Cut crackers with a pizza roller into desired size and poke a hole in the middle (I used a chopstick).

Then transfer the parchment paper with the dough onto the baking sheet and bake for approx 10-12 minutes

I wanted the crackers to be soft and chewy for Berlin so they were less of a choking hazard, but if you like your crackers crispier then I would suggest baking them closer to 15-20 minutes.

These can easily be made vegan by substituting the egg with a flax egg or they could be made with dairy by using real cheddar cheese instead of nutritional yeast.

Hope your little one enjoys.




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