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Figgy Ginger Cupcakes 

I've been trying to eat healthy and am trying to follow a diet eliminating processed sugar, gluten, corn, dairy, and eggs.  It has been a challenge, but it has been fun creating different recipes to satisfy my cravings.  This recipes is great for those following a vegan, raw vegan, or paleo diet.

Black Bean Chocolate Cake with Frosting 

I adapted some recipes off the internet to come up with this.  So perhaps, you or your friends might find other ways to tweak it too.  I wanted to make a healthier version of a chocolate cake for my husbands birthday.  I was surprised with how yummy this turned out!

Black Bean Chocolate Cake
1 can black beans rinsed
3 eggs
1 tsp fresh ginger
3 heaping Tbsp cocoa powder unsweetened
1 tsp of baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2- 3/4 cup of dates and or figs
1/2 an organic orange with peel or two clementines
1 tsp vanilla
Handful of unsweetened shredded coconut
2 Handfuls of walnuts (I like the handful measurement.  It works for me.  Just wash your hands first.)
1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips

I used 1/2 cup of dates and figs.  If you want it sweeter, add more dates than figs.  You could increase it to 3/4 cup of the dried fruit if you need it sweeter.  I have some dried orange peel and used about a tsp of it, but you could use fresh orange peel from an organic orange.  I took 2 clementines I had and squeezed the juices over the dates, figs, and peel and added the vanilla and then left the pulp on top sitting maybe an hour or so to let yjr peel and dried fruit soften.

Then I used my Blendtek blender to blend everything down to the vanilla thoroughly.  Then I threw in a handful of unsweetened shredded coconut and a couple of handfuls of walnuts and blended a few seconds more.  Then I poured it into a loaf pan I'd greased and dusted with cocoa powder.

Next I took 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips and put that on the top, and then I baked it at 350 for 45 minutes. 

I made frosting for it, but it seemed silly to put the frosting on top where all the delicious melty chocolate chips are.  So instead I cut a slice and frosted the side like you would a slice of bread.  It was almost more like a chocolate brownie in a way than a cake.  Anyway, here is the frosting:

Chocolate Frosting:

1 cup of cashew
3 dates
4 figs
1/3 Cup of yogurt
1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp of melted coconut oil

Or do 4 dates and 3 figs if you want it sweeter.  Soak the cashews, dates, and figs for at least one hour.  Then blend these with the remaining ingredients.  Then put it in the fridge till you're ready to use it.


Lentils and Veggies 

Lentils are a wonderful food packed with nutrition!  But what to do with them?  I add a little chicken boullion to the water when I cook my lentils to add a little more flavor.  In a separate pan, I add some coconut oil and saute chopped onion, garlic, and celery.  Then I'll chop up other veggies such as carrots and bell peppers and toss them in.  Then eggplant, zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, cilantro, and spinach.  I add mushrooms, cilantro, and spinach last because they take the least amount of time to cook.  Sometimes I add jalopeno for a little kick and season with salt pepper, and maybe a little sage.

Sometimes I'll eat it just like this.  Other times, I'll put it on a bed of lettuce, then top with cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, and squeeze lime or lemon juice.  Then I like to add a dollop of yogurt and some fresh cilantro.  It's quite a hearty meal like this.


Roasted Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds 

I love snacking on nuts and seeds.  There is nothing better than when they come out fresh and warm from the oven!  The trick is going to a health food store or Whole Foods market where you can buy from bulk bins which is usually much cheaper, and you can get organic pumpkin and sunflower seeds.  I set my oven for 300 degrees.  Spread out the seeds on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes.  As soon as I take them out of the oven, I drizzle them with coconut oil and a little olive oil, but you could do one or the other.  I add chili seasoning, cumin, salt and pepper and toss till all the seeds are coated.  By making them this way, I'm able to cut down on the amount of salt than if I bought them roasted from the store, and there so easy and delicious like I said fresh and hot!  They still taste great when they cool down and are wonderful to toss on salads!

Pumpkin Seeds
Sunflower Seeds
Coconut Oil
Olive Oil
Chili Seasoning

Quinoa Raisin Desert 

I like to make enough quinoa that I can have extra.  If I might be using my quinoa for a breakfast or desert dish which this really qualifies for either, I avoid using salt or chicken broth or boullion in the water.  This dish reminds me of rice pudding and is a real comfort food.  I take my quinoa out of the fridge, put it in a bowl, and add some milk, then warm it in the microwave.  Sometimes I add my milk after I heat it, just depends on my mood.  Toss in some raisins, almond slivers, and cinnamon.  You could also add other nuts, nutmeg, and/or apples.

Almond Slivers

Other Nuts
Whatever else you can imagine

Creamy Lemon and Black Pepper Salad Dressing 

This dressing can work great as a dip or a dressing.  Squeeze a fresh lemon and then slowly add and stir plain greek yogurt till it reaches your desired consistency.  Add minced fresh garlic, salt, dill, and lots of black pepper to taste. 

Lemon Juice
Plain Greek Yogurt
Black Pepper

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Lime 'n chili salad dressing 

I like to do a lot of simple home made dressings.  This one is very simple and perfect for a salad that also features avocado and cilantro.  Just drizzle olive oil over the salad, then fresh lime juice, chili seasoning, and salt to taste.  Toss and serve!

Olive Oil
Lime Juice
Chili Seasoning

Bean and Avocado Salad 

Beans and lentils are in the wonderful legume family.  Packed with nutrtion and fiber, these foods can help us maintain a healthy weight and prevent diabetes.  This is a simple delicious cold salad focused around beans.

I take a can of black beans, a can of kidney beans, and open a can of corn.  Then I chop and add red onion, cucumber, green and my other colored bell peppers, tomatoes, a bunch of cilantro, spinach, and green onion too.  I'll stir this up and then add my avocado last.  Squeeze the juice of 1 whole lime in it and add chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.  Don't be stingy with the chili and cumin.  Little secret and buying seasonings.  Go to your local health food store or some place you can buy in bulk rather than the grocery store.  It's much cheaper that way.

Toss this altogether and eat like this or serve over a bed of lettuce greens.  Yum!

Quinoa Italiano 

When I cook my quinoa for a main course dish, I often add chicken or vegetable boullion to the water to add delicious flavor and aromas to the whole house.  I don't add it if I'm fixing the quinoa for a breakfast or dessert dish.   So for this dish, I would add it and cook it following the package directions.

In another pan, I saute my onion and garlic, then celery and carrots, green and other colored bell peppers, eggplant, broccoli, and zucchini.  Then I'll add a spaghetti or marinara sauce and a can of black or other type of beans.  Sometimes I add Morning Star Crumbles which is similar to hamburger but made from soy but not always.  I must confess that I do love Ragu Chunky Garden Style spaghetti sauce probably because it is so sweet.  I know I like to keep my sugars low in my diet, but when I use this sauce, at least I can feel good that it's made with sugar and not high fructose corn syrup.  I also like to add a can of diced tomatoes, and if I've got fresh garden tomatoes, it's even better.  I add my spinach and mushrooms last.  I use basil and oregano, salt, pepper, and cayenne for seasonings. 

To serve, I put my quinoa on the bottom, the sauce next, and top it with parmesan cheese.   Serve with a salad for a lovely satisfying meal.

Quinoa Summer Salad (Gluten Free) 

What to do with left over cooked quinoa in the fridge?  I did this the other day, and it was a delightful lunch.  Add chopped

Green onion
Spinach Leaves
Marinated Artichoke Hearts
Fresh Lemon Juice
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix it all together with the quinoa, and it's a delicious cool summer salad.  You could even put it on a bed of spring greens.  You could also add olives and chopped mozzarella cheese or left over lentils or a can of beans.   Instead of lemon, you could choose a nice balsamic vinaigrette or italian dressing.  Get creative!