Sunday, July 28, 2019

Plant Based Dairy Alternatives

Plant Based Dairy Alternatives

Plant based dairy alternatives are very popular. For years nut and soy based products have filled the space in the marketplace. They are facing more competition each day. The new products fill the space for the people who are seeking dairy free and are unable to consume nuts and soy.

Sesame Milk 

Sesame milk is a great product for the consumer who wishes a product that tastes like a nut milk but is more sustainable. For the consumer who is concerned that it takes 1 gallon of water to produce 1 almond, sesame milk is a great alternative. Sesame milk contains sesame and pea protein. Each serving is 8 grams of protein and includes calcium and vitamin D.  I enjoy drinking Hope & Sesame sesame milk and using it in recipes like Sesame Milk Chia Pudding.

Oat Milk

Oat milk production is simple. Gluten-free oats are soaked in water, pulverized in a blender, strained, and packaged. For the consumer who does not wish to make it at home, many companies have entered the marketplace so there is a chance there are a few options in your local store! Typically, oat milk has more fiber and protein than almond milk, but its calorie count and fat content is higher. Oat milk's advantage is that it contains more B2, B12, Vitamin D, and phosphorus than almond milk helping boost metabolism, energize the body, and prevent disease. I have found that oat milk is thicker than almond milk. Some brands have a bit of oat crumbles as residue in the bottom of the carton, so I suggest you shake the carton each time before using it! I enjoy drinking oat milk and have been working on recipes using it.

When looking for oat milk in your local store, look for Malk Sprouted Organic Oat Malk Original. Malk is dedicated to conscious sourcing and has pursued The Detox Project's Glyphosate Residue Free Certification, guaranteeing the oats used in the product are not contaminated. 

Disclaimer: “This post (or portions of this post) was provided by New Hope Network. I am a member of the New Hope Influencer Co-op, a network of health and wellness bloggers committed to spreading more health to more people.”

Friday, July 19, 2019

Protein Bites Featuring Cocomels

I enjoy making changes to tried-and-true recipes to add some new life into them. Once I find a recipe I love, it becomes a blank canvas for me to try to create a new masterpiece.

Recently I made modifications to my PB Protein Bites Recipe to make it not only gluten free but also nut free, vegan, and include JJ's Sweets Coconut Sugar Cocomels (you can find them here).

My modified recipe pictured here includes:
1 cup gluten free oats (DRY)
1/2 cup SunButter
1/2 cup ground flax seed meal
1/3 cup Honey (or sugar)
1 tsp vanilla
6  Coconut Sugar Cocomels ... diced
  • I doubled the batch and used a stand-up mixture to combine the ingredients. 
  • Combine the ingredients and form the mixture into balls. I like to make bite-site sized or two-bite-sized balls.  
  • Refrigerate in an air tight container to let the balls become firm ... about 30 minutes. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Black Garlic ... A Nutrient Treasure Chest

I became aware of BLACK GARLIC when I was walking through the farmer's market a few weeks ago. I spoke to the proprietor of the stand and learned about the product.

I am so glad that I took the time to ask questions and learn about black garlic. Through fermentation,  fresh white garlic turns into black garlic. The taste is savory and not overpowering. For people who shy away from garlic as they do not want to "smell" like they just ate garlic, this is just the product to try!

Black garlic has a soft and spongy texture. When you open a clove to cut and add to a recipe you will notice how soft and pliable the cloves are.

Health Benefits

  • Black garlic is known to have properties that help lower cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglycerides
  • Black garlic contains phosphorus which helps build strong bones and teeth, facilitate nerve conduction, and filter off waste in kidneys. 
  • Black garlic has TWICE the antioxidants fund in white garlic 

Recipes Using Black Garlic

Black garlic can be substituted for garlic in recipes when you are looking for a savory-yet-sweet taste. I substitute it in recipes where I am looking to layer flavors, rather than infuse a dish with flavors. I made an OYSTER MUSHROOM GLUTEN FREE PIZZA and added black garlic to the dish.


I modified the pizza recipe by adding the garlic AFTER preparing the veggies. After I placed the veggies on the gluten free pizza crust, I added 5 medium size cloves of black garlic, diced, on top of the veggies. I followed with cheese and a decorative vegetable detail to the center of the pizza.The result was amazing. The vegan pizza had a savory taste ... a little bit of a meaty undertone. It was a great addition to a recipe that I have come to enjoy! Healthy Recipe Variations loves to find variations of tried-and-true recipes to open the door to a variety of nutrients ... and make cooking healthy simple!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

French Onion Soup ... Reimagined Gluten Free and Vegan

I enjoy making soups. I find there to be something satisfying and comforting about enjoying a bowl or cup of warm soup.

French Onion Soup Memories

French Onion Soup is something that I enjoy ordering in restaurants, but have shied away from ordering since I had to start following a gluten free diet. I loved the warm soup, the melting cheesy and crunchy topping, and the crunchy cheese that oozed down the side of the bowl. Just thinking about a bowl of French Onion soup makes me smile!

A while ago I found a recipe that I liked and have been able to make french onion soup at home ... deconstructed with gluten free bread and melted cheese on the side! I can, once again, enjoy one of my comfort foods.

French Onion Soup ... Re-imagined

This recipe takes the soup to a new level ... adding Beyond Meat Crumbles makes the soup more of a meal. I enjoy the soup with toasted gluten free bread or add some melted cheese.

The soup is GLUTEN FREE and VEGAN. If you use dairy free cheese and a gluten free vegan bread then the entire meal remains gluten free and vegan. Three brands of bread that are gluten free and vegan include: Food for Life, bFree, and Little Northern Bakehouse.


  • 3 large onions (size of a man's fist) ... use a variety or all sweet onions
  • 6 cups of low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBSP thyme
  • 2 -4 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • OPTION: 1 Package Beyond Meat Crumbles


  • Dice the onions into small pieces of relatively uniform size
  • Add the onions, thyme, and olive oil to a soup pan on medium
  • As the onion begins to caramelize, add the balsamic and continue to cook down the onions ... turn the burner down to medium low and stir from time to time ... after about an hour the liquid should have evaporated and the onions soft and caramel in color
  • Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes
  • OPTION: Add the Beyond Meat Crumbles and stir into the soup. Cook an additional 15 minutes for flavors to marry


Enjoy a bowl or cup of soup on its own or with toasted gluten free, vegan bread with melted cheese

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Gluten Free Hope & Sesame Qiche

I did an experiment with my tried-and-true Gluten Free Quiche recipe. I substituted SESAME MILK for almond milk in my recipe and LOVED IT!

Sesame Milk vs Almond Milk Experiment

I used unflavored original Hope & Sesame Milk in the recipe and the swap was not detectable in the texture. I DID NOTICE a slight change in the flavor. Original almond milk (any brand) contains quite a bit of sugar. The use of unflavored sesame milk removed the slightly sweet taste from the quiche that the almond milk provided. I made a second quiche and used original Hope & Sesame and the flavor difference was mitigated. Original Hope & Sesame Milk was a 1-1 match for almond milk in my quiche recipe.

Bottom Line

Quiche is a dish that can take on the flavors of the vegetables that are used in it. The next time I make the quiche I will use unflavored Hope & Sesame if I am trying to lean my dish in a savory direction and the original if I am looking for a sweeter hint in the dish. Hope & Sesame Milk is made from organic sesame seeds. Sesame milk is nutritious, tastes great, and is a better option for the environment as it is made from a drought tolerant crop that revitalizes the soil.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Control Inflammation with Fruits and Vegetables

Control Chronic Inflammation Through Nutrition

This is part two in my investigation into how we can control chronic inflammation, a condition where the body’s immune system doesn’t shut off for some reason and begins to burn out of control, through our diet. It is imperative that a remedy for chronic inflammation is found as it can impede a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living as well as participate in recreational/fitness activities.

What Foods Will Help Me?

In my last post on the topic I looked into cooking with healthy fats and snacking on raw nuts and seeds as a means to help reduce inflammation. You can also get anti-inflammatory phytochemicals from flavonoids in raw cocoa, tea, and berries; carotenoids in yellow and orange vegetables, and anthocyanins in red fruits and vegetables

When I prepare a meal at home, I make sure that over half of my plate includes vegetables and fruits. The remainder of my plate includes gluten free whole grains and a protein source. 

What Meals Can Utilize These Foods?

One way I enjoy eating a rainbow of vegetables to help reduce inflammation is when I make a gluten free pizza. I load my crust with veggies and include a thin layer of cheese. 

A few recipe that are fruit and veggie laden that can help reduce inflammation include:

Try to fight inflammation with good food choices before you opt for medications. We are what we eat. Each day we need to eat to make ourselves the best we can be!

Stay tuned for my next post in the series … healing through whole grains … gluten free whole grains! 

“Portions of this post were provided by New Hope Network. I am a member of the New Hope Influencer Co-op, a network of health and wellness bloggers committed to spreading more health to more people.” Silent Fire: How to Extinguish Chronic Inflammation by Lisa Truesdale

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Roasted Banana Bread, Gluten Free and Vegan

I had some dental work done and needed to have soft foods for a while. To add variety to my diet, I continually made modifications to my quick bread recipes.

One of my favorite modifications was adding a ROASTED BANANA to the top of my banana bread. 

This created a MOIST bread that was great for breakfast ... or dessert. I paired the bread with nut butter and fruit for breakfast ... and a chocolate nut spread (homemade or store bought products by Nutella or Don't Go Nuts).

I started with my popular Valentine Banana Bread Recipe and made modifications.


2 cups Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix
1/2 cup gluten free oats
1 TBSP vanilla
1 1/2 cups ripe bananas (normally 2 medium)
1/2 cup dried fruits or nuts (optional)
1/4 cup coconut butter
1 banana for the top


  • Prepare the flax eggs 
  • Add the vanilla, coconut butter, and ripe bananas 
  • After the wet ingredients are combined, add the dry
  • Add the nuts/dried fruit/seeds if you wish
  • Coat a loaf pan and add the banana on top in a decorative fashion
  • Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes (check after 30 then every 5 minutes thereafter)
  • Let cool enough to cut so the bread does not crumble. 

Cover and store ... for up to a week if it will last that long!