Soothing Winter Veggie Soup with Lentils and Beans- Vegan, Gluten Free,

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This cooler weather in Southern California has been such a refreshing change and its resulted in constant cravings for soup. I am not complaining. I really love soup and the endless ways you can make it. My boyfriend Jaime is a master in the kitchen and he has been whipping up so many delicious dishes this winter like this chili! I am really excited to share this veggie soup recipe with you because it represents the style of soup I love the most: broth based and loaded with veggies! Additionally, it is super high in plantbased protien from the beans and lentils. Wel rounded and hearty in deed. This recipe is a large batch and perfect for eating throughout the week for freezing some. It really is delicious, Thanks, Jaime (kisses)!

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What you need:
Olive Oil for sauteeing
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
10 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 teaspoons thyme, dried
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano, dried
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups cut green beans, fresh or frozen
1 medium zucchini, sliced and quartered
3/4 cups lentils – I used Bob’s Red Mill
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1 cup mushrooms, slice
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled, quartered, and sliced
1 teaspoon Sriracha
Fresh parsley for garnish

Method:
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat with enough oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Once hot, add the onions and garlic and cook until fragrant and traslucent.
Add herbs and saute for a couple minutes.
Add stock, vegetables, salt and pepper, and sriracha. Bring to a boil and then add lentils.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until lentils and potatoes are thoroughly cooked
Adjust for seasoning and serve hot with fresh parsley

Recipe by Jaime Craten @pastry_guy_jaime

XX
-Cara

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Spiced Vegan Chili- Holiday Party Style

Vegan chili 2

Chili has always been a favorite comfort food of mine. Growing up my mom would make big batches of it and we would eat it for the entire week following. She would make it with ground beef, of course, as she has never been a vegetarian or vegan, but I know that my plant based recipe is inspired by hers. There is something so well rounded about a bowl of chili that it has the ability to stand alone even without the addition of an artisinal loaf of bread that is required by a tomato or minestone soup. 

The recipe I am sharing with you today comes from my boyfriend, Jaime, who is a talented pastry chef here in Los Angeles. He crafted this dish for the Holiday version of Los Angeles Vegan Potluck, hosted by some of my favorite vegan instagramers and bloggers this past weekend, (see incriminating photo below). I loved meeting Jasmine and Yvonne who I have been long time fans of, along with so many fun foodies. We talk about heath, our favorite foods, documentaries and books as well as played games and won prizes. I ate so many delicious dishes and I believe our chili was a hit as we didn’t go home with much left over! The recipe has been scaled down so it is for 4-5 people instead of 15! I hope you guys enjoy!  

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Vegan Raw Pumpkin Pie – Happy Thanksgiving

pumpkin pie 3

When someone says “Thanksgiving” to me, the first thing that comes to mind is food. Then specifically pumpkin pie and then mashed potatoes. Growing up I remember pumpkin pie being my older brothers favorite dessert so we always had it around from November to December, not just on the actual holidays each month but all month long. Last year, i was going home for Thanksgiving and I really wanted to make a raw, vegan version of the pie for my family. I shot a YouTube Video, which didnt turn out as good as it could have but hey, I am a beginner! I wanted to share the recipe again with you all incase you are looking for an excellent one for this years festivities! I adjusted it slightly from what is presented in the video and it is a real improvment in texture and flavor! Enjoy!

pumpkin pie2

Pretty Pumpkin Pie Serves: 6 to 8

What you need:
Spring form pan 6 to 8 inches
Crust:
1 cup almonds- soaked 1 hr
1/2 cup walnuts- soaked 1 hr
1 cup dates- pitted
1/4 cup raisin
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut- optional
1-2 tsp vanilla or water

Pumpkin Pie Filling:
3 cups diced pie pumpkin or sugar pumpkin- soaked 1 hour
1 cup dates, raison or combo of both- be sure to remove pit from dates
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
4 Tbs melted coconut oil
2 Tbs maple syrup

Method:
To make the crust add the nuts to the process and grind until a fine meal forms. Add the dates and process until a sticky dough is formed. Add in the coconut and vanilla, process until combined. Press into the bottom of an 6-8 inch spring foam pan. place in fridge.

To make the filling add the pumpkin, vanilla and spices to the process and process until well pureed. Add the dates and blend until well incorporated and combined. next add the coconut oil, almond milk and maple syrup then process well. Taste it and adjust if necessary to your preference.

Spread filling into the crust and chill for 6 hours in the fridge or freezer. If you put in the freezer let defrost for 1 hour in the fridge before serving. The longer you let it set the better it will taste as the flavors have more time to combine into pumpkin pie bliss.
Enjoy!

Nutrition and Health Benefits of Raw Vegan Pumpkin Pie

-Pumpkin is high in Carotenoids and Beta-Carotene great for fighting cancer and keeping wrinkles at bay
High in fiber – great for digestion and helps keep you full
great source of Vitamin C – boosts the immune system

-Walnuts- high in vitamin E for healthy skin, is linked to slowing cognitive decline and rich in alpha-linolenic acid and is thought to be heart protective in times of stress.

Coconut Oil- anti-fungal, anti-bacterial- helps reduce risk of getting sick. It also helps regulate our hormones for proper thyroid function and metabolism.

– Cinnamon helps regulate your blood sugar level

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Homemade Vegan Pho Broth

pho broth 2

Vegan Pho is Pho-king amazing but traditional Vietnamese Pho is not vegan at all. It is, in its essence, a beef broth made from the bones of cows and a whole bunch of other wonderful spices. Yes, thats right guys, bones. The tought of cooking with bones really weirds me out but growing up my mom used to make homemade chicken, pork, or beef stock with the left over bones from the meaty dinners we would have. The one thing that I can appreciate about stocks is that they give use to ingredients that you might otherwise throw away, including vegetable bits for veggie broth, and not letting things go to waste is ideal (animal or not). 

This Pho broth is extremely soothing and medicinal. My boyfriend created the recipe using alkalizing and immunity boosting garlic, ginger, and jalepeno. With the addition of shiitake mushroms, lemon grass and cinnamon sticks this broth is full of flavor and nutrients certain to help you combat the colder season. This is the first time in my adult life that I have ever made homemade broth and I will say that it is worth the effort and it truly is the star in any Pho recipe. I really hope you all love this recipe as much as I do.

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Autumn Peanut Butter Pumpkin Brownies- Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free

Autumn Pumpkin

Fall in LA is sort of like Spring (or summer) in LA. The mornings start out with partly cloudy skies, and cool crisp air that burns off into a 75f+ and sunny day. Although, there are some leaves on the ground, for the most part I would have no idea what time of year it was except for the fact that the sun starts to set around 5:00pm (which is such a drainer). Nonetheless, I am finding it very easy to make an abundance of seasonally appropiate dishes that are making it feel like fall in my kitchen. The recipe for these Autumn Peanut Butter Pumpkin Brownies can be found in my Disguising Superfoods as Cake dessert ebook along with 24 other recipes that are all raw and vegan. As I flipped through my ebook to find this recipe, a very nastalgic feeling came over me, realizing that I created something I loved for the sole purpose of creating. Much of our lives we create things because they are required of us, like a homework assingment for school or for a project at work. Finding this passion on the side of recipe development, food photography and a huge community of foodies via social media has brought an excitement back into my life that I lost after leaving my career in fashion to fight the battle against my eating disorder. Everyday, I look forward to seeing what other creative, healthy foodies are whipping up in the kitchen. It keeps motivated, inspired and connected so if you are reading this and are one of those foodies, thank YOU. From the bottom of my heart and always hungry tummy. XX -C

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Cinnamon, Banana Steel Cut Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins- Vegan

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Breakfast is hands down my favorite meal. It is without doubt because of my equal love for a cup of joe, the quite-ness of that time of day and my desire to fill a hungry belly that has been waiting all night. Sometimes, however my mornings do not allow enough time to indulge in a cooked breakfast at home and that’s where these incrediable little muffins really come into play. Long gone are the days where I skip breakfast so a little planning ahead ensures I am fed with nutritious and delicious “will travel” types of breakfast. Make these on a lazy Sunday morning and they will keep well for the whole week. These guys are full of fiber, protien, and potassium to ensure your day is off to a great start!

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Slightly Sweet Almond Loaf- Small Change, Big Impact – Gluten Free, Paleo

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This is almost the same exact bread I posted last week but I adjusted the ratios and 2 ingredients and now it tastes just right. Sometimes the smallest change can have a very big impact, not only when it comes to baking.

I have a confession to make. Recently, I have stopped working out, almost entirely. Like not even once a week am I breaking a sweat. This is so unlike the Cara I thought I knew myself to be. I mean even if it was after a night of intense drinking I would still manage to get my ass on a hike or at the very least, a walk. Not anymore. I literally have lost the desire to do anything workout related and I do not feel guilty about it all at. 

My old self would have agonized constantly over making sure I worked out enough. If I missed more than a day I would really beat myself up about it and not only restrict food but push myself extra hard once I finally got back to yoga, or the stairs or whatever. However, the slightest change in my attitude has made this no longer an issue for me. You see, I used to be obbsessed with having the perfect body and I would work out so much that I had constant pain in my legs and it was my normal. The shift in my attitude to knowing that I am worth more than just my physical body let me be ok with this lifestyle adjustment. I value myself for more than the number on the tag in my jeans, but as a young woman who is smart, hardworking, quick witted and full of big dreams. 

Although, a slight change in my attitude towards myself is a huge accomplishment, all I did was start to think differently and it has had a huge impact on my overall self acceptance. But, slow your roll! I am by no means saying that working out is not important. I know that for overall vitality begin active and moving your body is a key component. But I now know that when I am finally ready to put back on my lululemon pants, I will be doing it for the right reasons: happiness and health.   

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Gluten Free Almond Cranberry Bread -Paleo

cranberry loaf2

Recently, I have been doing a lot of gluten free baking and find that I like the healthy alternatives as much if not more as their less healthy counterparts. This loaf of bread is dense and satisfying a consists of mostly almonds and eggs making it nutrient and protien rich. It would be ideal for a cup of tea, to use as toast or the two ends to a perfect sandwich. It is not overly sweet, and I used a minimal amount of cranberry sauce to minimize the dessert aspect and to add a slight seasonal touch. You can use more or less or none at all if you want a straight forward savory bread.

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes or Muffins w/ Optional Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin spice cupcakes2

Its sunny and warm in Los Angeles right now but it felt like fall in my kitchen when I was making these pumpkin spice muffins. It’s only been over the last couple of years that I have really begun to enjoy pumpkin flavored dishes. I remember when I was living in Australia, a fellow classmate who was Australian, brought a can of pumpkin soup to school for lunch. I thought it was the weirdest thing. I mean, pumpkin in my mind was not a standard food item that we had during any other part of the year except the holidays and it was typically in a dessert.  Here we were in March and she was eating a can of pumpkin soup. Does pumpkin soup even come in a can in America? I do not know but I think the differences in culture and food are truly fascinating and watching my friend eat pumpkin soup from a can opened my mind to a whole new view of what pumpkin dishes could be.

pumpkin spice cupcakes

These cupcakes could be muffins if you omit the cream cheese frosting. I was making these for a cheese lover which is why I choose to make the frosting. I myself limit the amount of dairy in my diet so much that it is almost non-existent but I will say this frosting was really good and super easy to make. The muffins/cupcakes are dairy, soy, gluten free and can be vegan if you use an egg substitute. Be creative and make this recipe work for you! 
pumpkin spice cupcakes3

What you need:
1 1/2 cups almond meal
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup pureed pumpkin (I used canned)
1/4 cup coconut nectar
1 egg or egg substitute
1 tbsp coconut oil
3/4 tbsp arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp of each cinnamon, nutmeg & ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch pink salt

For the Frosting (optional)
1 8oz container of cream cheese
1/2 cup xylitol
5-7 drops liquid stevia

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
3. In a different bowl mix all the wet ingredients until emulsified.
4. Combine the dry and wet ingredients until smooth consistency is reached
5. prepare a muffin/cupcake tray by coating with coconut oil, i use spray. Then evenly disperse the batter in the tins. about 3/4 full for 6 regular sized muffins/cupcakes.
6. Bake for 15-20 minuets. poke with tooth pick to make sure in comes out clean which means they are done baking. Let cool completely

For the Frosting: 
1. Combine everything in a bowl and whip together using an electric hand mixer. taste it and adjust as needed.
2. Put in a plastic ziplock and put in the fridge while the muffins/cupcakes bake. 
3. After the muffins/cupcakes cool completely, cut a small hole in the corner of the back and squeeze out the frosting on to the cupcake turning the cupcake by hand to frost in a circular way. 

Enjoy!
xx
Cara

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Carrot, Ginger, Parsnip Perfection. Vegan, Gluten Free

Carrot Ginger Parsnip soup

Where do I even begin with this soup? It was a Saturday night and my boyfriend, Jaime and I were staying in and decided soup was going to be on the menu. I had a long day volunteering with Stray Cat Alliance for their annual fundraiser event called the Stray Cat Club. It is a fundraiser in full on celebrity style gala that Los Angeles is known for. Attending fancy ass fundriasers are what wealthy people do for fun in this city. Not kidding.

This event has vegan food made by Chef Tanya from Native Foods Cafe, Animal Planet TV hosts galore, with black tie attire and art abundant silent auction items. For the last three years I have helped design the flower arrangements which is something I really enjoy doing and this year we bought over 2500 roses. Lets just say I got a few cuts on my fingers from the thorns. #worthit

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