Tag Archives: vegan

Chipotle- Cheddar Kale Chips



My love for kale chips borders on obsession. It’s probably illegal in most states. I’ve made several version of kale chips including plain salt and olive oil, sour cream and onion, and applewood smoked. These are my favorite yet and I just had to share!
I first started making kale chips in the oven, but after burning  them almost every time I decided to try a dehydrator. What a huge difference it makes! Now I can have kale chips that are crispy and crunchy but never burned, every time. Even when I forget about them and end up cooking them for almost 24 hours. Not only does the dehydrator save energy and preserve nutrients, but it’s also fool proof to use since it “cooks” so slowly that the amount of time doesn’t have to be exact.
But don’t let not having a dehydrator prevent you from trying these out. They are so ridiculously delicious and packed with nutrition that you will want to try them out. Kale haters have been known to fall in love with these chips. I have been known to forget to tell the husband I made these in order to keep them all for myself…

Kale is an excellent source of vitamins A,C, and K as well as a good source of minerals like calcium, iron, and manganese. Additionally, as a member of the Brassica Family (like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower), this veggie contains compounds which have been shown to inhibit cancer activity. So what are you waiting for?


Chipotle-Cheddar Kale Chips:

– 1 bunch kale (curly varieties work best for kale chips, but lacinato will work too)

-3/4 cup raw cashews, preferably soaked for at least an hour

-1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce

-1 clove garlic, peeled

– 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast (helps contribute to “cheesy flavor and is high in B vitamins)

– 1 Tablespoon olive oil

– 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (lemon juice can be substituted)

– 1 teaspoon agave nectar

– scant 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

– 1/3 to 1/2 cup water as needed for blending


1. Wash and dry kale. Remove the tough stems and tear into bite sized pieces, placing them in a large bowl. There should be able 6-7 cups. It will look much smalled when it is dehydrated though!

2. Combine all other ingredients except water in a high speed blender. Add about 1/4 cup water and blend until smooth, adding more water as needed.

3. Pour the sauce over the kale and mix well. Distribute evenly among the trays of your dehydrator and dehydrate about 10-12 hours. I like to do this over night so I don’t feel like I have to wait so long.  OR you can bake these at about 250F for about an hour, or until crispy.

These can be stored in jars or plastic containers (just not bags- they may crumble) and make a great on-the-go snack. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!


Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Dip and NuNaturals Giveaway


Cookie dough dip!

Who doesn’t love free things? Free samples, free gifts, free coffee and  food during finals week at school… I can’t lie, my ears perk up when I here the word “free” mentioned.
But what about sugar-free? Gluten-free? Dairy and egg-free? Some seek these labels out of necessity, always longing for products that will indeed not taste as though they are free from, or lacking, the ingredient in question. Those who don’t seek these labels tend to be turned off by them, assuming they are simply an inferior product. Simply removing the offending ingredient would produce an inferior product. But a little creativity can go a long way…
I was invited to a party in where I knew the hostess was trying to cut sugar and refined carbs out of her diet. Having a mouth full of sweet teeth myself, I felt that I should create a dish to bring that would be sweet and decadent tasting, but fit into the guidelines of her diet as well as my own views on healthy eating. As I mentioned before, I recently was lucky enough to be a winner in Laura’s blog giveaway for a package of NuNatural Stevia products, and used stevia to sweeten without adding calories or sugar. This dip is sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free!
And while we are on the subject of FREE,  I’m happy to announce that you all have a chance to win a package of NuNatural’s Stevia products as well! NuNaturals is letting me give away packages to four lucky readers- those are pretty good odds, since my  young blog doesn’t get a lot of traffic! See the end of this post for details on how to enter!
First, I have to share this recipe… All I can say is you have to trust me. No, you have to try it. The ingredient list sounds weird, I know. I saw some similar recipes circulating around the blog-world months ago and was intrigued but not convinced enough to try it out. This dip is basically like a sweet hummus. Sweet hummus? You say. Why would anyone do such a thing to such a wonderful food? Umm, because it tastes like cookie dough and has the nutritional profile of hummus! You can even eat it by the spoonful and won’t get sick! Not that I’ve ever made myself sick from eating too much cookie dough…
If you aren’t a fan of peanut butter, or are allergic, try using almond, sunflower seed, or cashew butter for a milder but equally delicious variation!
Peanut Butter-Cookie Dough Dip:
*1.5 cup cooked white beans
*1/3 cup peanut butter (I use natural)
*2 teaspoons vanilla
*1 teaspoon cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar or lemon juice
*1/4 teaspoon NuNaturals Clear Liquid Stevia ( If not using stevia, try 2-3 tablespoon agave nectar and omit milk)
*1 dropper full NuNaturals Vanilla Stevia
*1 dropper full NuNaturals Cocoa Extract (optional)
*1-2 tablespoons nondairy milk
*1/4 cup cacao nibs (for completely sugar-free dip) or 1/3 cup chocolate chips
1.)Simply combine all ingredients except nondairy milk and cacao nibs or chocolate chips in the bowl of food processor and puree until smooth and creamy. Add the milk as needed to achieve desired consistency.
2.) Add the cacao nibs or chocolate chips and pulse briefly, just enough to combine.
3.) If you can resist eating it by the spoonful, serve with crackers and sliced fresh fruit such as bananas and apples. Also makes a great substitute for peanut butter in a peanut-butter-banana sandwich!
Now for the giveaway details:


Each of the four winners will receive a bottle of Vanilla Stevia Liquid (so good!)


and a box of 50 stevia packets (great for travel!)


To enter, simply leave a comment in the comment section telling me what you would like to use stevia for!  (U.S. residents only) If you don’t have a blog, be sure to leave your email address so that I may contact you if you win.
Note: I’m not getting anything for advertising these products, I just was honestly quite impressed with their quality and want to share this with others who are looking for a natural sugar alternative. Some stevia products can have a bitter aftertaste, but I have found these to be truly superior in flavor!
If you aren’t chosen to receive a package, you can still get free samples! (sorry, only for U.S. residents) Go to www.nunaturals.com for more information. Also, if you decide to purchase anything from their website, you can get a  15% discount on your order by entering the promo code BLG930. You even get free shipping to the continental U.S. if you spend $35 or more.
This contest will be open until Thursday at midnight, PST, and I will announce the winner Friday morning. I will notify you by email. What a great way to start the weekend!
Best of luck!
xo/ Nikita

Super Easy Vegan Pistachio Pudding





Pistachios make me feel fancy. They are also a great source of protein and fiber as well as vitamin E, folate, copper, and many other vitamins and minerals. A few months ago Andrew and I were at the grocery store together and he saw some Jello mix pistachio pudding and excitedly told me how much he looooved pistachio putting. I looked at the ingredients on the box:


Sorry, honey, things like this just aren’t allowed in my cart! However, I do love pistachios and promised him I would make a more wholesome homemade version. After looking at a few more traditional pistachio pudding recipes using egg yolks and whole milk to thicken, I remembered that when I was vegan I used to make the simplest pudding with silken tofu and decided to use that as a base. I swirled some pistachios with agave and vanilla, added a bit of coconut oil to replace the richness of the milk fat and egg yolk, and added that to a creamy silken tofu base. Garnished with a few pistachios and an extra agave swirl, it didn’t need anything else. Andrew was in heaven and proclaimed it “better than Jell-O’s pistachio pudding.” I didn’t think that was much competition… that stuff is scary! But really, this is so delicious and easy to make!

 5 ingredient Vegan Pistachio Pudding:

serves 2-3

*1/2 cup shelled roasted pistachios (I used salted)

*2 tablespoons Agave nectar (or more depending on how sweet you like it. Stevia can be substituted also), plus more for serving

*1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil

*1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*1 box Mori Nu firm silken tofu (12.3 oz), chilled


1. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the pistachios for garnish. Add the rest of the pistachios, the agave, coconut oil, and vanilla to a food processor and process until smooth. Add the tofu and process until smooth again.

2. Spoon into dishes, garnish with whole or coarsely chopped pistachios and an agave drizzle and serve immediately. The ungarnished pudding will keep in the refrigerator for several days as well.

PS: Recognize the bowls? They are the ones we made during our Eugene trip! They make perfect desert dishes.

Rawlicious indulgence


As the weather finally begins to warm up around here, my body naturally starts to crave more fresh and raw foods. While looking online for some raw inspiration last week, I came across Ani Phyo‘s site and saw that she was coming to Portland for a talk and book signing Thursday! The timing couldn’t have been better. Ani was great! I think her gorgeous looks alone sell a lot of people on eating raw foods- I can’t believe she’s 42! She talked about the benefits of raw foods, and answered questions about eating raw on-the-go or while traveling, eating raw in colder climates, and more. She was promoting her new book, Ani’s Raw Food Asia, but I purchased her Ani’s Raw Food Essentials book because I wanted a more basic book to start. I try to eat a lot of big salads and smoothies (especially smoothies with spinach or kale- my husband thinks I’m disgusting, but it’s such a yummy way to get your greens!) but as far as the more complex raw foods preparation, I really have little experience. I also don’t have a dehydrator yet, which many raw recipes call for.

Raw food, which Ani considers food that is not heated above 104F,  is great because it is unprocessed and retains all the beneficial nutrients and enzymes that nature intended it to have. I personally don’t believe that it’s healthy for me to eat too much raw foods during the colder months because when I do I get very chilled. I have a rather cold constitution. When I did my yoga training we had a class on Ayurveda and I am predominantly Vata with a bit of Kapha.  I try to consume warming spices such as cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne, but even that isn’t enough to warm me! So it’s hard for me to imagine living a completely raw lifestyle while living in Portland, but once it warms up I like to a much higher ratio of raw to cooked foods in my diet.

While raw food diets should be based mostly on vegetables, they also lend themselves well to some amazing desserts! Raw food desserts are generally not low calorie, but they are packed with nutrients and satisfying. Yesterday was my last day of clinicals this semester (!) and so we brought in some treats. I wanted to bring something gluten-free, because a friend of mine in the group is allergic to gluten and I also wanted to bring something raw so I adapted a recipe from Angela‘s no bake date bars to make some amazing chocolate coconut date bars. These were a big hit! I always worry when I bring my “healthy treats” that people will turn up their noses at them, but my class mates gobbled them up!

Raw Coconut Chocolate Date Bars:


1.5 cups almonds

1.5 cups dried unsweetened coconut (Angela uses oats and I have used these too with yummy results, but I didn’t have any gluten free oats)

10 pitted and chopped dates

2-4 tablespoons coconut oil (you can use another kind of oil, but the flavor of coconut oil is worth seeking out!)

1/2 teaspoon salt


2.5 cups pitted dates

2 tablespoons raw cacao or regular cocoa powder

2 tablespoon cacao nibs (optional)

1 teaspoon maca powder (optional but gives a delicious malty flavor)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup pure water as needed


Line a 9×9 in square baking pan with parchment paper. Pulse ingredients for crust in food processor until a crumbly and slightly sticky mixture forms. Start with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and add more if your mixture is still too dry. Press 3/4 of this mixture into your prepared pan. Reserve the rest for topping.

Now wipe out the food processor (it doesn’t need to be washed) and add your filling ingredients, starting with 1/4 cup water and adding more as needed to form a thick, spreadable paste. Spread the filling over the first layer and top with the reserved crust, pressing down lightly. Top with a few more cacao nibs if desired. Freeze for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate for a few hours to set up before slicing into 16 squares. Store in the fridge or freezer for longest shelf life.

Have a beautiful day! I get to take it easy today because tomorrow I’m running my first 10k! 😀


The search for a delicious and nutritious cookie wages on…


Just another pretty chocolate cookie?

I could call these cookies “Double Chocolate Cookies” or something equally unoriginal… but the truth is, these babies are Chocolate-Chocolate chip-almond butter- chickpea flour- quinoa cookies. Vegan and gluten free. When put like that, they sound terrible don’t they? I promise they are not. They are soft and fudgey, definitely not a “crisp” cookie. They are sweet enough for dessert, but nutritious enough to be a stand alone snack or even part of a breakfast. I may have eaten 6 total today.

The fact is, I am a shameless chocolate addict and compulsive baker. This can be problematic… and by problematic I mean it can cause my pants to get too tight. My mother’s words of wisdom on staying thin : “Never buy bigger pants.”  Since walking around in public with your pants unbuttoned is seen as uncouth, I guess it’s time to explore other options. ..

Deprivation is for suckers. I want to have my cake and eat it… well 6 times. So I head to the kitchen to work some magic…

I adapted this recipe from Marla‘s Almond Chickpea Cookies but changed several things. I was really pleased with these but I think next time I will tweak them again in my quest for perfection. If it turns out better, I will post the new recipe, but these were great, too!

Chocolate-Chick(pea) Almond Cookies

1 cup chickpea flour

3/4 cup quinoa or other gluten free flour (or regular flour if you are not avoiding gluten)

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

stevia to taste if desired

1/2 cup almond butter

1 ripe banana

1/4 cup agave (or more to taste)

1/2 cup vanilla soymilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

1/2- 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

ground almonds, shredded coconut, or coarse sugar for rolling

Method: Preheat over to 350F. Combine almond butter, banana, agave, and extracts and beat with electric mixer. Slowly beat in the soymilk. Combine dry ingredients separately and slowly beat in. Fold in the chocolate chips. Roll in balls (about 1.5- 2 Tablespoons worth of dough) and dust with almonds, coconut, or sugar if using. Place on a baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake 10-12 minutes.

I haven’t run the nutritional info, but these are clearly loaded with protein and fiber and low in sugar. More importantly, they’re chocolate.



Tamale Tutorial: Authentic Recipe Reworked


Tamales are a near and dear to my heart. They were always served at major holiday get togethers and handmade with care by my abuela. Of course, she made them with traditional ingredients like lard and meat fillings. I have adapted mine to be vegetarian or vegan friendly, while preserving as much authenticity as possible. When I was in high school, I was entrusted with the task of learning how to make them. I wrote everything down on a couple little pieces of paper. Seven years later and 2200 miles away, I was amazed when I found this while cleaning:

The original recipe! Complete with a diagram!

Seriously, I don’t know how it got here, but I took it as a sign that I needed to make some tamales asap.

I’m not going to lie. Making tamales is not for sissies. There is a reason why these are a fiesta food, not a lazy weeknight cooking food. They take time! But they are oh so rewarding… delicious and homey yet fancy enough to impress your friends 🙂

I decided to prep my fillings the night before I planned to serve them. Tamales are usually filled with meat, but you can really put anything you can imagine in them. My abuela used to make some filled with pinto beans for me (she understood that I didn’t eat meat, but never got the whole lard thing…) and she also made cinnamon raisin ones. I decided on a Spinach and Cheese filling and a Chipotle-Kissed Pinto Bean filling.

Popeye would be proud

Spinach and Cheese:

1 small onion, minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

10 frozen chopped spinach (thawed)

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon cumin

6 oz queso fresco

1-2 oz chevre

1-2 Tbsp parmesan

1 Tbsp lemon juice

salt and pepper


Saute the onion in oil until translucent. Add the spinach, oregano, and cumin and season with salt and pepper. You may also need to add about 1/4 cup water or broth to keep it from drying out. Cook about 5 minutes and remove from heat. Let cool a few more minutes before adding the crumbled queso fresco, chevre, parmesan, and lemon juice. Stir to combine and either use right away or refrigerate for later use.

Chipotle-Kissed Pinto Bean


1. 5 cups cooked pinto beans (or about 15 oz can)

1 small onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup canned tomatoes with green chiles

2 Tbsp chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (the rest freezes beautifully for later use)

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke

salt and pepper


Saute onion until translucent, then add garlic and saute a few minutes more. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened. You can mash them up a bit to thicken them, but leave them chunky for the best texture in the tamale. Again, use now or refrigerate for later.

Ready to begin working on the dough? Get your hojas soaking! Soak hojas in hot water while you prepare the dough. Corn husks are traditional, as are banana leaves in some areas. In a pinch, tin foil will do the trick too, but it wont be as cute.


Now for making the dough:

*For truly authentic tamales, you would soak a dried ancho chili in water overnight, and blend it in the morning to add to the dough. My abuela told me this was just for color, not flavor because the ancho is so mild, but I disagree! It has a subtle kick and adds a more complex note to the masa. It can be left out, but its worth it if you can find dried anchos.*

*This recipe makes about 35-40 tamales. That may sound like a lot, but you can always freeze leftovers (before cooking)*

Masa Dough:

Combine dry ingredients:

6 cups masa harina

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp tumeric (something I discovered also gives a nice color. Use double if you could not locate anchos)

Combine fats (beat until smooth):

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup coconut oil, softened

*for vegan tamales, use all coconut oil*

Blend your chile up, if using. Add the dry ingredients to the fats and add the blended chile plus warm water as needed to make the dough soft and pliable. It should not be crumbly, but it shouldn’t be too wet either. This might take about 1.5- 2.5 more cups of water.

Now you’re ready to start assembling the tamales!

1. Lay soften corn husk on a flat surface and spread about 2 heaping Tbsp of masa dough onto it.

2. Spread a scant Tbsp of filling in a line down the middle of this.

3. Now roll the tamale length wise, THEN tuck the end, and secure with a slim strip of corn husk.

4. Holy crap! now all you have to do is cook them! Steam these babies for about 15 minutes.You will have to do this in batches unless you have a ginormous steamer.

5. Serve with salsa (I made a roasted tomatillo green salsa to accompany),  regular or tofu sour cream or greek yogurt, cilantro pesto, jalepeno hummus- hey go crazy. Your worked hard and deserve to have a little fun!

Three in one Granola Recipe


Confession: I am a granola addict. I make it every week, and when I was in India last January, it was the number one food I missed. I know, I know, the internet is full of granola recipes, but I have tried many styles and I think this way is really special! What I love about it most, besides the great flavor, is its amazing versatility. The ingredients are highly customizable to what you have on hand or prefer and it can be used to make chewy granola bars, crunchy granola bars, or crunchy loose granola. What more could you ask for? I am such a granola enthusiast that I actually like to divide the batch in half and do one pan of chewy granola bars for taking to school as snacks and one pan of crunchy crumbles to top my oatmeal with. Here is the general recipe, feel free to substitute your favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.

The People’s Granola


Dry ingredients


2 cups rolled oats (regular or gluten free)

1.5 cups chopped or sliced nuts (I used hazelnuts and almonds today)

1 cup dried fruit (I used mission figs, but cranberries are a favorite also), chopped if not already small pieces

1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut

1/2 cup puffed rice or other puffed whole grain (adds great crisp and lightness)

1/4 cup sesame, sunflower seeds, or pepitas.


Wet Ingredients


1/3 cup each: Peanut butter (or any nut butter), honey (vegans can use agave), brown sugar *If you have coconut oil on hand, add a tablespoon and use a little less of the former three. It will take it to a whole new level!*

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt (I love the salty-sweet combo- if you are not a fan or avoid salt, you can cut it down to 1/2 teaspoon)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine oats and nuts (not seeds or coconut yet) on a baking sheet and toast about 10 minutes, until just barely beginning to become fragrant. Add the seeds and coconut and continue roasting about 5 minutes longer, until everything is a light golden brown and smells fragrant.

Meanwhile, chop the dried fruit if necessary and combine the wet ingredients, either in a small sauce pan or in a microwave safe glass container, such as Pyrex. The saucepan method is more accurate, because you don’t want to burn this mixture, but the microwave is a safe bet as long as you check it frequently.

When all ingredients are toasted, transfer them to a large bowl and add the puffed rice and the dried fruit. Stir to combine. Heat the wet mixture, either over medium- low heat on the stove, or in 30 second intervals in the microwave until the sugar is dissolved. Careful not to boil or burn it! A little bubbling is okay, but too much and it will dry rock hard. I like a caramel-like consistency, especially for the chewy bars.

Now you have to decide what kind of granola you want!

chewy bars

Chewy Bars

For chewy bars:

Line a baking dish with parchment  paper or coat in with cooking spray and turn the mixture out onto it. Wet hands with cold water and press the mixture down until the granola is packed and even. Stick them in the freezer or refrigerator- they can be sliced once they have cooled. They will store well in the fridge for at least two weeks, at least up to a month in the freezer. I have never had them last longer than that in this house!

For Crunchy bars:

Follow the above directions, except instead of sticking them in the freezer, put them back in the over for about 15-20 minutes longer.

Granola Crumbles in Soymilk

For Crunchy Crumbles:

Spray a pan with cooking spray and pour the granola on. Bake 15-20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Alternately, make crunchy granola bars and just crumble half and for cereal use.

What is your favorite way to enjoy granola?