Coconut Adzuki Beans w/Acorn Squash

Here is  a great recipe to try for Meatless Monday- or any day of the week you’d like a hearty, filling meal that tastes like a spicy tropical stew. Beans are a great source of plant protein and there are many varieties to try.

I’ve recently discovered adzuki beans and love them. They are small, solid red beans that hold their texture well. Sort of like a cousin of my beloved black bean. Unlike larger beans, they don’t take too long to cook either so this dish was made in about an hour.

Adzuki Beans

I boiled, then simmered the dried adzuki beans in water until tender.

Acorn Squash

While they were cooking I peeled and chopped an acorn squash. I’m not going to lie- this was not fun- if anyone knows of a trick to easily peel hard winter squash please share! I tried softening it a bit in the microwave but that didn’t help either. Anyway, I got what I needed- some good chunks of sweet orange flesh. You could use butternut squash, or even sweet potatoes in this as well.

In coconut oil I sauteed a half of white onion,  2 cloves of fresh garlic, and  the squash cubes until soft and golden.

squash, onion, garlic

Then I added the beans and poured in one can of coconut milk and stirred well.

coconut milk over beans

The spices I chose to add were: red pepper flakes, cumin, and chili powder which gave it a rich, comforting flavor mixed with the sweetness of the coconut.

spicy bean stew

I let this all simmer so the flavors could mingle together after adding a can of unsalted diced tomatoes with juice.

bean stew

I served over brown rice. It was very filling, yet still not as heavy tasting as a regular chili might be. Good dish to try for a meatless meal!

bean, squash, tomatoes


Clean Eating Vacay Part 2

The beach in Mexico was full of interesting offerings- check out this fresh fruit cart with cucumber, jicama and melons:


And this beautiful photo I got at the end of the day…..wish I was still there….


While in Mexico I tried to eat small meals spread throughout the day. I loaded up on bottled water and perused the markets for local ingredients to try. I got freshly made corn tortillas at the local supermarket the first day there and made my own chips rather than eating the packaged greasy ones.

I cut them into triangles while they were still warm and soft.


Then spread on a cookie sheet to go into an oven at 325


I checked often to make sure they didn’t burn


The guac was easy with such fresh ripe ingredients: Avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro and pepper


I added a fresh squeeze of lime after mixing. Perfectly Clean!


I may or may not have had a fresh lime margarita with these chips and guacamole……….

I was completely spoiled with fresh fruit everyday for breakfast



And enjoyed delicious local fish tacos one night


I actually had a bite or two of these as well. They were so pretty!


Back to reality and the gym!

My Clean-Eating Mexican Vacation

I’m back after a beautiful, sun-filled week in Manzanillo, Mexico! I’m lucky enough to have family with a beautiful home down there and am able to visit whenever I want! I prepared well by packing some of my own food. You never can be sure what items  will be available in another country and I didn’t want to be stuck without my favorites;  oatmeal, almonds, herbal tea, dried cranberries, peanut butter, and rice cakes. I packed all these in my suitcase along with my bathing suit and shorts.

I was greeted by the sight of this pineapple top that I had planted the last time I was there. It had grown tremendously and now had it’s own baby pineapple!

grow your own pineapple

The first morning there we went to the weekly open air market and I was overwhelmed by the displays of fresh, local produce! It was a shopping frenzy for me as I stocked up for the week on vegetables and tropical fruit that I would never get at home.

These fresh fruit cups were less than a dollar each

These fresh fruit cups were less than a dollar each

I kept saying “At Whole Foods, this would be $7.99!” “At Whole foods that would be $9.99” It made me sadly realize how long and far produce has to travel -only to be marked up to an exorbitant price- before it ever hits our mouths.

The busiest stand was the freshly picked blueberries and strawberries, and for good reason- they were incredibly sweet and juicy!

Pick and bag as much as you want

Pick and bag as much as you want

I wanted to a huge hefty bag full of these beauties!!

I wanted to a huge hefty bag full of these beauties!!

There was more tropical fruit around the corner- mangoes, pineapples, papaya, watermelon…..


The local mexican pineapples are a bit smaller and MUCH sweeter than the ones shipped in unripened from hawaii to the grocery.

mexican pineapple

I got some tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, onion and plenty of avocados to prepare guacamole later. I also found white sweet potatoes which are difficult to find where I live. They are sweeter than yams and used a lot in island cooking. No fresh corn tortillas at this market but we scored some the next day and more a few days later. I could LIVE off of the freshly made tortillas from Lulu’s……

mexican peppers

The last time I was in mexico I picked up some type of bacteria that my system couldn’t tolerate so I was really careful what I ate this time. I didn’t eat any animal products except a little bit of yogurt once or twice. I stayed away from meat and eggs entirely which wasn’t hard since I’m not eating meat lately. I also took digestive enzymes the first few meals to give my system some help with breaking down all the different foods. I felt amazing the whole time and enjoyed the produce and much more healthy eating all week long!

Tempeh Buddha Bowl

I love having tempeh in my kitchen for those nights that I need something substantial that doesn’t require a ton of prep work. It’s a good vegetarian source of protein but I don’t eat it too often because I don’t like a lot of soy in my diet. I usually have it once a week like this or in a stir-fry

In preparation for my vacation in 1 more day I’ve been trying to eat lighter but have a hit a few rough spots. Dinner at an indian restaurant, sunday brunch (I ordered kale salad instead of waffles), and a thai lunch have all added up to too much restaurant food for my taste. Plus the fact I decided to make a batch of these lovelies for no particular reason.

Last night I got back on track with a delicious light meal-in-a-bowl.


I sauteed the tempeh in sesame seed oil with some white onion slices. I dusted liberally with paprika and a bit of cumin. I didn’t add any liquid because tempeh really soaks up whatever you put it in and I wanted it subtle enough to take the tahini.

paprika dusted tempeh

For the sauce I used tahini, tamari, water to thin, a dash of olive oil, juice from 1/2 fresh lemon, minced garlic and a smidge of maple syrup.

tahini sauce

I sauteed some rainbow chard in coconut oil.  Nothing makes me feel lighter and happier than fresh greens prepared in coconut oil. It’s one of my favorite things on the planet.

sauteed kale

I put the whole thing in a bowl on top of brown rice so it sort of mixed together as I ate.

tempeh with tahini

You could vary the bowl with different greens; kale, broccoli, spinach or bok choy. Toppings could include raw cashews or slivered almonds.

Buddha Bowls are the Best!

10 Spring-Cleaning Tips for your Diet

Spring is almost here and we are ready to renew, refresh and clear-out clutter. Cleaning up the yard and home is awesome and necessary, but have you considered cleaning up your diet? I am not talking about a deep cleanse or fasting- I don’t do those. I believe a gentler, more moderate approach creates lasting effects. Here are some things you can try out and see what feels right for you:

1. Start the day with a cup of warm lemon water on an empty stomach. It naturally and gently cleanses the lympthatic and digestive system.


2. Switch from fruit juices to the whole piece of fruit. Instead of a glass of orange juice, which is high in sugar, eat an orange and get the benefits of the fiber. (Same with apple, grape, etc)

fruits at farmers market

3. If you eat meat add in 1 or more meatless day to your week. Substitute veggies in your sandwiches and explore other sources of protein like beans and nuts.

beans and rice

4. Keep eating your greens and add in more raw greens too. Kale, spinach, broccoli, parsley, dark lettuces all have tons of phytonutrients and chlorophyl which is a natural cleanser. Just as in winter when we eat more grounding, root veggies, Spring begs for lightness and growth with sun-reaching plants like greens.

Dark leafy greens

5. Lighten up on the dairy products. If you still drink cows milk, try coconut or almond milk instead. Dairy causes mucous build-up and with spring allergies this can be a major issue for some people.

6. Eat less food more frequently. Smaller meals are easier on your system and as the weather warms up, we naturally need less food.

small lunch

7. Drink more water. We will begin needing even more hydration than usual in the coming season so get into the habit now. Carry a bottle with you and keep it full.

8. Use fresh herbs. Throw some parsley into your next juice or smoothie, it is one of the most cleansing foods we can eat. Add cilantro, basil, thyme into your cooking for exciting flavor without salt.

thyrme and cilantro

9. If you haven’t already, try eliminating white flour and white sugar from your diet. These are both very processed and sugar is potentially addicting. Try whole wheat flour, oat flour, almond flour for baking. Switch to natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, agave or brown rice syrup.

10. Eat outside! As the weather permits, why not enjoy your meal in the fresh air and sun? Get away from your desk or, worse yet, Television set and eat in nature!


How do you “Spring-Clean”?

Weekly Nosh-Up

I haven’t had meat for about 8 weeks. In fact, I’ve only had meat twice in the last 3 months, but for some reason yesterday I was craving chicken. Maybe I haven’t had enough protein lately? I’m eating lighter because of not being able to work-out and also in preparation for my trip to Mexico next week as I plan on being in a swimsuit most of the time.

I made chicken fried rice last night. I only ate one small piece of chicken, probably 2 ounces, and it was plenty. Luckily I had my meat-eating man on hand to finish the rest! The addition of store-bought fresh basil was a welcome treat as I haven’t had it since last year’s garden. Can’t wait for Spring to grow my own herbs!!


This week I made a big batch of unsalted roasted almonds to munch on for protein and between meal snacks. I never want to be starving between meals and  eat mindlessly out of hunger.

roasted almonds

I ate lots of baked apples and pears with cinnamon and walnuts.

apples with cinnamon

I spoon them over yogurt or mix with oatmeal.

Greek Yogurt with Winter Fruit Bake

I also stocked up on carrots, celery, and green apples for more juicing. I am so going to miss my juicer on vacation!

The other thing I’ve enjoyed a lot this week is freshly ground peanut butter. I spread on rice cakes and top with honey for a sweet treat, or put on whole grain tortillas with sliced bananas for lunch on the go.

sweet treat honey and PB

All in all a good week of protein, fresh produce, and lots of hot tea as I patiently await that warm weather ahead.

Creamy Vegan Broccoli Soup

March has come in like a lion with windy, cold weather. The one thing good about it is making hot soup. I haven’t made nearly enough soup this year and I miss it. I usually make at least 6 or 7 kinds throughout the winter.  I threw this together with some leftover steamed broccoli and was able to use the rest of my nutritional yeast which I will be buying more of now that I’ve figured out some good uses.


I started by softening some garlic, onion and baby carrots in olive oil

baby carrots and onions

I added equal parts water and unsweetened almond milk

The steamed broccoli was added in after the other veggies had cooked. I used some lemon pepper and a small dash of nutmeg. Salt is optional, I added just a tiny bit.

broccoli soup

The nutritional yeast adds a “cheesy” flavor without the dairy. It’s not a substitute for real cheese, but definitely adds a tangy sharpness

nutritional yeast adds cheesy flavor

I blended some whole oats in the blender until they were fine and added in as a thickener. A good way to avoid flour.

oats as a soup thickener

I scooped out the broccoli and blended well before adding back into the pot. You can leave the pieces whole if you prefer a chunkier soup.

creamy broccoli soup

After it was cooked I added the juice of a half of lemon for some tartness

Vegan Broccoli soup

What is your favorite winter soup?

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