Fall Quinoa Vegetable Soup (gluten free, vegan, healthy)

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Sometimes the weather just says SOUP. Not like in the movie it’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (if you have kids you may have watched it, ha.) BUT seriously, I love cuddling up with some hot soup a blanket and Netflix. Add some wine and it’s a party for one!

Sofia as always is my little helper. She LOVED this soup (TODDLER APPROVED, what?) Bonus we froze half of it and thats a lunch or dinner I don’t have to make in the future. WINNING!

This soup was pretty easy to make. Have you thought about using quinoa in soup before? I have tried pasta and rice but not quinoa. IT is awesome. It’s hearty and filling while absorbing the flavors and being extra tasty.

I hope you guys enjoy!

What you will need:

  • 1 Box of Organic Veggie Stock (4 cups) or 2 if you subtract the water below
  • 4 Cups of water
  • 1 Cup Organic Quinoa (uncooked)
  • 3 Organic Carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 sweet potato chopped at the same thickness as the carrots
  • 2 Organic celery stalks chopped
  • 1 Large can of organic Diced Tomatoes, drained and rinsed
  • 6 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 Small onions chopped finely, or 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 tsp dried organic thyme
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Zucchini and 1 Yellow Squash (or about 1-2 cups of seasonal veggies of your choice)
  • Pink Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
  • spinach or kale (1-2 cups)
  • 1 can of chick peas, rinsed (BPA free can!)
  • 3 TBSP Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Wash, Dry, and Chop produce
  2. In a large pot over medium heat add olive oil and then add onion, carrot, celery, and sweet potato. Season with salt and pepper
  3. Cook for 4 min or so when onion becomes translucent
  4. Add seasonal veggies, cook for 4 more min or so, stirring often
  5. Add the garlic and Thyme, cooking about 1 minute when it becomes extra fragrant
  6. Pour in the rinsed tomatoes and cook for 3 more minutes, still stirring quite often
  7. Add the cup of quinoa, broth and water (or just broth). It’s ok to use a little less quinoa if you’d like for extra soupiness and less stew-iness.
  8. Add 1 tsp of salt, 2 bay leaves and a couple shakes of red pepper flakes
  9. Generously season with cracked black pepper
  10. Raise heat to bring the soup to a boil, then cover partially with a little edge open to steam out and reduce heat to simmer for 25 minutes
  11. After 25 minutes add chick peas or rinsed canned beans of your choice and spinach. Continue cooking for 5 or so minutes more.
  12. If the soup is not broth-y enough for your desire from the quinoa soaking it up, add broth or water here.
  13. Taste and season as desired, remove the bay leaves and stir in the lemon juice
  14. Plate and enjoy!
  15. PS -You can freeze your leftovers!

Here’s to a healthy and happy you!

Thanks in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

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I am so sad to be writing this post just days after we left with the news of Fires ravaging this area. We stayed in a cabin in Pigeon Forge, TN with my husband’s family over the Thanksgiving Holiday and we had a great time! We visited Gatlinburg (notice the tourist traffic above), cooked all day on Thursday which followed with a bountiful feast and went to a Trampoline jumping place on Friday for Sofia. The views were incredible and we had a blast with all the kids and parents. I made sooooo much food — I’m not sure why I didn’t capture many photos of it unless you follow me on instagram stories (@missjessashley) — I made: Sweet Potato Casserole, Green Bean Casserole, gluten free pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, 2 chocolate pies, 1 Maple Pecan and Chocolate Pie and my Butternut Squash and Spinach Stuffed Shells with Browned Butter Sage. I feel like I am still full!

Although the history about Thanksgiving is one that is quite horrible and painful especially for the native people of this country, I feel that it is important to remember to be grateful for our abundance. I’m not sure if it is ironic what is happening in Standing Rock at North Dakota right now with (once again) the Native people being victimized by the agenda of big business and US politics…namely the Oil industry. If you do not know much about this story please message me so I can help inform you! Water is life.

I hope you all had a healthy and happy thanksgiving – more recipes will be coming soon!

Here’s to a healthy and happy you, xo!

Thanksgiving Butternut Squash and Spinach Stuffed Shells w/ Sage Browned Butter (gluten free!)

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Ok if you have any vegetarian guests to your Thanksgiving this year, you HAVE to make this dish. I made it for our Friendsgiving a few weekends ago and it is now one of my favorite recipes. These are not as sweet as traditional butternut squash ravioli, they are salty and savory and the SAGE BROWNED BUTTER IS THE BOMB.

I made these with gluten free brown rice shells however, you can easily make it with regular shells if you ❤ gluten. Let me know what you guys think!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 container of butternut squash, precut (to reduce time, but you can always buy and cut yourself) **COSTCO sells the perfect size and it’s ORGANIC!!!**
  • 1 Box of Pasta Shells (gluten free if you’d like)
  • 2 Cups of Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 1 big handful of spinach, chop after measuring with your hand
  • 1 Lemon (zest plus juice)
  • Pink Salt/Pepper
  • 10 FRESH Sage leaves
  • 1 Stick of Butter (original recipe calls for that, however, I chose 1/2 stick plus 1/2 cup olive oil)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Begin by preheating oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the cubed butternut squash with 1-2 TBSP of olive oil, pink salt and pepper and roast in oven for 15-20 min (should be soft and able to mash with a fork when done)–As soon as the squash is ready, take a handheld blender and make sure it is whipped up nice and evenly- place in fridge to cool to room temperature.
  2. Reduce oven to 400 degrees
  3. Boil Water for Pasta Shells and cook according to the box directions
  4. In a bowl, combine ricotta, parmesan, room temperature squash, garlic, spinach, egg, salt, pepper, and the fresh lemon zest from 1 lemon. MIX WELL!
  5. Spray a 9×13 inch pan (I used glass!) with coconut oil non stick spray
  6. When the pasta shells are finished cooking, run cool water over them and begin to fill them with the butternut squash and cheese mixture – you might not use all the shells depending on how much mix you use– I opted to make a quick fix with remaining cheese and spinach and made a few w/o the squash!
  7. Place stuffed shells in oven for 18-20 minutes, until hot all the way through
  8. While shells are baking, take a small sauce pan and place the stick of butter OR 1/2 stick plus olive oil mixture depending on your preference. Add the sage leaves, juice of one lemon and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Heat over medium low heat for about 10-12 minutes making sure to frequently stir the mixture. The mixture should be a darker color when it is finished and the leaves should be crispy.
  10. After the shells are finished cooking, pour butter mixture over top and serve with crispy sage leaves!

Enjoy!

 

Here’s to a healthy and happy you, xo

Ancient Ayurvedic Practice: The Neti Pot

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Have you heard of the Neti Pot before? It’s one of the more popular Ayurvedic practices in the Western World…you can even find them sold at Wal-Mart (I know, shocking!). It may be thousands of years old, but it is one of the best at-home remedies to cure or prevent a cold!

Now that Fall is here in full swing, I can’t help but hear people with the sniffles. Our bodies are AMAZING-There is an ENTIRE universe inside of us that operates on its own. Creating new cells, fighting off bad bacteria, making sure our heart beats, and our lungs breathe oxygen and convert it to carbon dioxide, etc. Our nasal passages are one of the first defenses combating illness, allergens, irritants, and even pollution! There are little hairs in there that trap the bad stuff and try to get rid of it via mucus production.

The Neti Pot is a nasal saline irrigation therapy. Neti pots can be made of plastic, ceramic, glass and other materials–My opinion on the bacteria alone is to stay away from plastic. (Although you may remember my views on plastic in this old blog post here.) My neti pot is ceramic and I love being able to put it in the dishwasher for a deep clean.

During the fall/winter time or when it’s your allergy season I would incorporate the Neti pot into your morning routine every single day. I know it’s tough to incorporate yet another thing into your morning regimen especially when it’s cold and your bed is beckoning you to stay for a few more hours, but this will truly help prevent illness and clear out the sinuses for the rest of the day. If I am feeling under the weather I will incorporate the routine morning and night.

Neti Pot Benefits*:

  • Reduces snoring!!!-every gf should gift this for Christmas!
  • Cleared nostrils resulting in improved breathing
  • Reducing dryness in your nose
  • Helping with sinus headaches
  • Improved sense of taste and smell
  • Allergy relief
  • Allowing deeper breathing
  • Prevention cold/illness
  • Reduces the need for over the counter medications or going to see your doctor

*Benefits are from SpiritScience’s article, seen here.

The most important part of using the neti pot is using distilled water–I boil mine extra and then let it cool down to just warm before using in the netipot.

Let me know if you guys have any questions!

Here’s to a healthy and happy you, xo

Maui Helicopter Adventure

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I am having major Maui withdrawal today!! I wanted to share the AirMaui helicopter experience with you. It was by far the most incredible adventure we have done together. If you haven’t been in a helicopter before – Don’t be scared! I was surprised with how smooth the ride was. When you are ascending it feels almost like going up in an elevator. We were required to watch a mini safety video and to wear life jackets (pictured above). Our pilot, Richie, was awesome! He provided so much knowledge of the land as we flew above it — from pointing out Maui’s waterfalls which are home to one of the tallest waterfalls in the world, to learning about the Hawaiian heritage and history…we can see now why Maui is consistently rated a top island in the world.

I know this blog is mostly based on health — it’s important to do things that invigorate and excite you. Traveling and experiencing new things definitely fuels my spirit. Hope you guys enjoy the photos and let me know if you end up taking a helicopter ride sometime! I am deeply, deeply grateful for this experience and being able to share it with Kiril.

 

Here’s to a healthy and happy you, xo!

Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (no cane sugar, gluten free, healthy-ish…)

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Am I the only one who craves something sweet in the afternoon? We made these babies last night and they were sooooo good…they are all gone by the way (ahhh!). These were pretty easy to make. I adapted this recipe from DishingDelish, but I wanted to get creative and change up the white and brown sugar originally required. Next time, I am going to try coconut oil or coconut butter rather than the butter that this requires since I didn’t want to change up the recipe too much. How perfect would these be to bring for your next “friendsgiving”??? As you can see in the pics, Sofia enjoyed stealing all my chocolate chips and kept stealing cookies every time I turned around for ONE second!

***The keys to this recipe is to refrigerate the dough for AT LEAST 20 minutes before baking in the oven, use room temperature butter, AND use parchment paper for an easy removal and cleanup. ***

Hope you guys enjoy baking these, they are definitely on my list to make for Thanksgiving this year. They pair really well with some unsweetened vanilla almond milk…YUM.

What you will need:

  • Organic Pumpkin Puree (1 can)
  • Parchment Paper
  • 1 and 3/4 cup of Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
  • 1.5 cups of Gluten Free Old Fashioned Uncooked Oats
  • 1 Cup of Coconut Crystals Sugar (this stuff is amazing and you should be able to find at your local grocery store or on Amazon!)
  • 3/4 Cup of Agave Syrup
  • 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 2 sticks organic unsalted butter softened at ROOM temperature
  • 1 Large Organic Egg
  • 1 cup of mini semi sweet organic chocolate chips
  • 1½ tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp pink himalayan salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit, prepare baking sheet with Parchment paper
  2. In a large mixing bowl add flour, oats, coconut crystals sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and pink salt. Whisk together until well combined.
  3. In a different bowl mix together the egg, pumpkin puree, agave, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, along with butter.
  4. Using a hand mixer or kitchen aid, blend all ingredients together until well combined.
  5. Mix in chocolate chips gently with a large spoon.
  6. Place dough in refrigerator and allow to chill for at least 20 minutes.
  7. When dough is chilled, use a spoon to scoop dough onto cookie sheet, leaving about 2-inches of space between each cookie.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown and slightly firm to the touch. Remove and allow to cool…EAT UPPPP!

I hope you enjoy this recipe. If you want to refrain from the butter, use coconut oil/applesauce/or bananas and let me know what you think!!! (this will be on my to do list)

Here’s to a healthy and happy you xo

P.S. I am so grateful for you guys and your support on this blog, thank you.

Avocado, Tomato and Cheese w/ Balsamic Drizzle Sandwich (gluten free, quick and easy)

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Happy Monday! Did you guys see that moon last night? It was HUUUUUGE! We came back from a “Friendsgiving” weekend spent in a Cabin in the mountains and were too tired to cook a meal from scratch so we opted to make sandwiches. Kiril adds smoked turkey or chicken to this sandwich but mine is Vegetarian (obvi.) This is so so so good. The KEY is to use FRESH and Organic Ingredients and to SEASON w/ salt and pepper. It pairs really well with a warm vegetable soup or some sweet potato chips (recipes to come).

Hope you guys enjoy…I have something yummy in the oven right now that I can’t wait to share with you guys soon xoxox

What you will need:

  • 2 Slices of Gluten Free Bread (or bread of your choice)
  • 1-2 Slices of Organic Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 3 Slices of Organic Tomato
  • Organic Mayo
  • Balsamic Drizzle (one without any added sugar!)
  • Pink salt and pepper

Simple ingredients, but tasty sandwich!

Directions:

  1. Toast the bread
  2. Place cheese on bread
  3. Spread Mayo
  4. Add Avocado, tomato
  5. Drizzle balsamic reduction
  6. Season with Salt and Pepper
  7. Eat up!

 

Here’s to a healthy and happy you xo

Caramelized Sweet Potato & Quinoa Salad (vegan, gluten-free, healthy!)

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Always my little helper!

Salad can be fun! I used to think restaurant salads were so much better than salads you made at home. While I was right on a certain level, mostly because they use tons of sugar to make you like their salads– I just didn’t understand you can think of a salad less traditionally. This WARM, toasty, CARAMELIZED sweet potato, quinoa salad with organic Arugula, Italian basil and white beans is by far one of my favorites. It’s a great dish for the fall but in a pinch, can be a quick cold lunch salad!

What you will need:

  • 1 Can of organic white beans
  • 1 Sweet Potato
  • Organic Arugula (or greens of your choice)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Handful of Italian basil, ripped
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1tbsp of Annie’s organic balsamic salad dressing
  • Balsamic Reduction
  • Olive oil
  • pink salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degree f
  2. Chop sweet potato into small cubes
  3. Prepare quinoa as directed, add salt to water it cooks in
  4. Place cubes of sweet potato on cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 17 min, for 3 minutes broil on high, remove from heat right away
  6. In a pan, saute onion, garlic and beans until onion is translucent
  7. Add cooked quinoa, sweet potatoes, basil, season with salt and pepper
  8. Wash and dry arugula or your choice of greens
  9. In a large bowl, place arugula and drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper
  10. Add Annie’s dressing and 1 tablespoon or more of balsamic vinegar, and olive oil to the hot pan with cooked arugula, beans etc…
  11. When it is all mixed, remove from heat and add directly to the arugula bowl
  12. Mix and drizzle with balsamic reduction, plate!

I hope you guys like this recipe, I came up with it last night in a pinch…Enjoy!

 

Here’s to a healthy and happy you! xo

Spicy, Ginger Orange Butternut Squash Noodles with/ Tofu

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Feels so good to be back in the kitchen! I seriously should invest in a wok with all the asian inspired recipes I’ve been whipping up lately. It’s my favorite way to get lots of yummy veggies in our system while also tasting delicious. Asian sauces tend to have TONS of Cane Sugar, Corn Syrup and MSG in them so BE CAREFUL. Always check your ingredients…I prefer to make my own and I value the use of potent spices. On another note, I made this with that four letter word most people fear…TOFU. I’m not sure if it’s because many do not know how to prepare it or the texture or what not, but I swear if you slip it into some of your dishes you won’t even notice.

What you will need:

  • Butternut Squash noodles, spiraled. Our grocery store (Wegman’s) sells them already spiraled which is a huge advantage into a quicker meal prep.
  • Broccoli or veggies of your choice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • half onion, chopped
  • 2 packs of brown rice noodles
  • Red Garlic Chili Paste
  • non-Gmo, organic Tofu, extra firm (not cubed)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of organic peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • fresh ginger grated
  • lime juice
  • zest of 1/4 of an orange
  • pink salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
  • for extra spicy: use a Jalapeno pepper or spicy pepper of your choice. Make sure to remove the seeds and the membrane and wear gloves esp if you have contacts!!!
  • Soy sauce (gluten free)
  • Organic Sesame oil 1 tablespoon
  • Unrefined Coconut oil 1 tablespoon
  • Asian ginger seasoning (spices)
  • Sriracha (optional)
  • Scallions for topping

Directions:

  1. Drain water from tofu and place tofu on paper towels, in colander with book or something heavy pressed on top (this should be done earlier in the day an hour or so before preparing this meal)
  2. Once the tofu as drained for an hour, chop into cubes and place in bowl. Cover with gluten free soy sauce, lime juice, fresh minced ginger, salt and pepper. Let marinate.
  3. Place rice noodles and butternut squash noodles in cold water to soak
  4. Place large pot on high heat filled halfway with water and heavily salted (this is for the noodles)
  5. Mince 2 cloves garlic, finely chop half a large onion, chop scallions for topping, chop broccoli into florets
  6. Steam broccoli
  7. Place noodles in boiling water for 4 minutes, drain but save 1/2 cup of water for sauce
  8. place coconut and sesame oils in wok or LARGE pan… on med high heat
  9. Add garlic, onion, season with salt, pepper
  10. When onion starts to look translucent (1-2 minutes) add red chili garlic paste, fresh ginger, lime juice, spicy pepper (if using), 2 tbsp soy sauce
  11. After 2 minutes, add 2-3 tablespoons of peanut butter, orange zest, 1 tbsp maple syrup
  12. Pan fry the tofu in this sauce flipping occasionally, adding 1/2 of the sauce it was marinading in
  13. Add cooked broccoli, toss until covered in sauce
  14. Taste and season with more asian spices, add Sriracha here too for extra spiciness
  15. Finally, add cooked noodles with 1/2 cup of the water
  16. Cover and let simmer for 1-2 minutes
  17. Mix together and plate, adding red pepper flakes, topping with scallions and sesame seeds.

Bon apetit!

Here’s to a healthy and happy you! xo

Mount Haleakala Sunrise

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You probably noticed I haven’t been posting the past few weeks — we were on vacation in Hawaii! I am so excited to share some photos with you over the next few days. One of our excursions was with Temptations Tours in Maui to visit Mount Haleakala for the sunrise. Haleakala translates to “house of the sun” and that is exactly how I would describe this dormant volcano that forms 75% of Maui. It is the world’s largest dormant volcano. This is one of the most epic/spiritual/incredible experiences I have ever witnessed. We woke up at 1:30 am and were picked up at 2:30 am to drive all the way up the mountain. I have NEVER seen the stars as bright as they were that night/early morning. I wish my camera could capture what we saw– the Orionid Meteor Shower was still occurring so we saw over 12 shooting stars, 5+ satellites traveling quickly in the sky, the International Space station, several constellations, the milky way and the BRIGHT star-looking thing as the top of the sunrise in these photos is JUPITER!

When the sun began to rise, a native Hawaiian woman sang a traditional song that still gives me goose bumps to this day. In the light of this election, no matter what political front you support, we must be incredibly grateful that we wake up in the morning and the sun shines.

If you ever get a chance to go to Maui, I totally recommend this experience. It was cold and windy at the top of the mountain, but it is 100% worth the memories you will make up there.

 

Here’s to a healthy and happy you, xo!