Crispy Homemade Falafel with Garlic Tahini Sauce

Homemade Falafel is SO much better! Learn how to make this deliciously crispy, light and fluffy chickpea fritter the right way, from scratch, with good wholesome and nutritious ingredients! It’s much easier than you think!

Homemade Falafel is SO much better! Learn how to make this deliciously crispy, light and fluffy chickpea fritter the right way, from scratch, with good wholesome and nutritious ingredients! It's much easier than you think!

For the longest time, I believed that falafel was extremely long and complicated to make. Pfft! I just didn’t know better… I guess it’s only because it’s not something I’m really used to making, for they were never really a part of my diet growing up. But eventually, once I got the hang of it, I came to realize that they are in fact extremely easy to make: just throw everything in the food processor and blitz away!

The only thing is that they do require a bit of planning, because the key to making good falafel is that you must absolutely, imperatively make them with dried, soaked but uncooked chickpeas. This is a case where you cannot cheat and get away with using the canned beans. Why? Because since the canned chickpeas have already been cooked, the starch molecules within them have pretty much been washed away in the cooking liquid, leaving the actual beans with very little binding power. If you try to grind them, form them into balls, and deep-fry them, they will invariably completely fall apart in the oil. Sure, there are ways to work around that, like adding flour or other binding agents to the mixture, but then the texture of the fritters will suffer big time! You end up with dense, pasty, almost doughy balls…

Trust me, starting with dry chickpeas and giving them ample time to soak is the only way to go! 

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Cream of Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

Rich, creamy, thick, comforting, soul warming, and crazy delicious! Yet, you will never believe just how nutritious this Vegan Cream of Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup actually is…

Rich, creamy, thick, comforting, soul warming, and crazy delicious! Yet, you will never believe just how nutritious this Vegan Cream of Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup actually is...

Looks like I’ve been in revisiting old posts” mode lately… Trust me, it’s not a bad thing; not a bad thing at all! In fact, I’m bringing a bunch of truly worthy recipes back to the top of the pile! This beautiful cream of mushroom soup, for instance… I’d created it a while back after I’d gotten inspired by one of my favorite fellow bloggers of the time, and to this day, I remember having fallen head over heels for it at first bite!

However, over the years, certain people had reported in the comments that they hadn’t had much success with the recipe. Some found their rendition turned out too watery, or grainy, while others found it to be kind of bland. I could never quite figure out why, as bland food is something I simply do not do. I would never post a recipe for something that tasted bland…

So I retested the recipe exactly as written — save for a minor change that I had to do to accommodate my new dietary reality — and frankly, I fell in love all over again. This soup, it tastes absolutely fantastic! It’s delicate, simple and earthy, just like any mushroom soup should be… but it tastes really, really good! And it’s crazy creamy, silky, and thick. So thick! Plus, it’s loaded with all kinds of pieces of creamy mushrooms and nutty, chewy wild rice. So good!

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Easy Recipe ideas for Valentines Day

Whether you’re single or coupled up…

This blog post will have you fallin’ in love.

Brunch is the most romantic meal for me. If my husband wants to sweep me off my feet (and he does, what a great guy!) he prepares brunch for me.

Every time I come home from yoga on the weekend to find he’s prepared brunch, I fall a little harder for the guy.

Lately I’ve been obsessed with Cajun foods, so Tofu Scramble with Cajun Potatoes are what I want on Valentines Day.

Plus I also find in order to be fully satiated, I need a starch like toast or potatoes to go with my tofu scramble.

Here’s how to make the Cajun Potatoes:

Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cube your potatoes and rinse them under cold water in a colander. Shake off excess water but you want them to be damp. Toss generously with Cajun seasoning (I also add oregano) plus salt and pepper. Spread out on your baking sheet and bake until roasted around the edges, about 20 minutes.

The one-way ticket to Scott’s heart is Mexican Food. He LOVES anything Mexican, especially burritos and enchiladas.

Since Valentine’s Day is falling on a workday this year, I’m making Crockpot Mexican Casserole so dinner is ready when we get home.

I know after a long day I won’t have a ton of time or energy to prepare a big sexy meal, plus any time or energy I do have I want to spend on my husband 😉

Here’s how to make vegan Crockpot Mexican Casserole:

serves 4

1 cup brown rice (uncooked)
8 oz tomato sauce
1 tsp onion powder
1-2 tsp chili powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp ground cumin
15 oz can kidney beans (or black beans), undrained
1½ cups corn (thawed, if frozen)
1 avocado (or 8 oz guacamole)

Combine rice, 3 cups water (or broth), tomato sauce, spices, and beans in a slow cooker on high
for 4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours. Top with avocado, serve corn on the side.
If you don’t have a slow cooker, combine all ingredients (except avocado) in a 9×15 casserole
dish, stir gently, and bake 1-1½ hours, until rice is tender. Or reduce liquid to 2½ cups, mix rice,
tomato sauce, and seasonings together, and cook on the stove top. Stir occasionally, checking to
see if it needs more water. Rice should be cooked in 40-45 minutes. Add beans and corn before
serving. Top with avocado.

Per serving: 412 calories, 9g fat, 71.7g carbohydrates, 11.9g fiber, 5g sugars, 13.8g protein

Lower Fat: Omit avocado, scoop with 2 corn tortillas per serving.

Add-on: Add more corn. Prep: Make ahead.

For dessert, I’ll probably keep it simple with chocolate (we both love dark chocolate) or if I have a little extra time to pick up strawberry or cherry flavored vegan yogurt, I’ll prepare these lovely Strawberry Parfaits.

My favorite parfait is layers of yogurt, rolled oats (or granola, or Oreo cookie crumbles if you’d like) with fresh fruit slices. There’s something luxurious about the contrasting textures of creamy, crunch, and fresh.

Another fab option for a healthy dessert (or breakfast, especially if it’ll be a day of self-love)…


Get my recipe for this incredible (and healthy) Chocolate Lava Cake Oatmeal and other “date night” favorites as part of your 7-day free trial to Meal Mentor here.

Happy Valentines Day <3


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Thai Coconut Curry Soup

Bursting with all kinds of zesty exotic flavors, coconut sweetness and a bit of a spicy kick, this wholesome and comforting Thai Coconut Curry Soup tastes as heavenly as it is easy to prepare!

Bursting with all kinds of zesty exotic flavors, coconut sweetness and a bit of a spicy kick, this wholesome and comforting Thai Coconut Curry Soup tastes as heavenly as it is easy to prepare!

This Thai Coconut Curry Soup is perfect for those nights when you really don’t feel like cooking and happen to be in need of a little comforting. You know, those kinds of nights when you would be super tempted to reach for the phone and order take-out?

Well, put that phone down right now, cuz we’re about to do even better than this! As in way, way better!

Seriously, this soup is almost as easy to make as instant ramen noodles, yet it’s so incredibly tasty, you’ll probably want to eat it right out of the pot using the ladle as your spoon! And all it requires in order to come to life is a little bit of chopping and slicing, and then your totally minimal efforts will be rewarded with BIG, bold, exotic, exploding flavors, and a bowlful of concentrated soul-warming comfort!

So wadayasay… Got 15 minutes? Let’s do this! 

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Buckwheat Apple Ring Cake

Cakes don’t get much healthier than this Buckwheat Apple Ring Cake. On top of being completely vegan, it also happens to be free of gluten and refined sugar. Of course, it’s also absolutely delicious!

Cakes don't get much healthier than this Buckwheat Apple Ring Cake. On top of being completely vegan, it also happens to be free of gluten and refined sugar. Of course, it's also absolutely delicious!

This Buckwheat Apple Ring Cake I originally created ages ago, in March of 2012 to be exact, after a friend had challenged me to “heatlthify” an apple cake recipe he’d found on the Internet.

I’d readily accepted his challenge and practically reinvented the thing… Not only did I manage to keep it vegan, like the original, but also made it gluten and refined sugar free. Indeed, the only ingredients in charge of bringing sweetness to this gorgeous ring cake are apples and raisins. Yet, it tastes plenty sweet to be enjoyed as dessert!

HA! I’m telling you, cakes don’t get much healthier than this one. Especially not cakes that taste this good! This one has a really dense yet surprisingly moist texture, and offers very pleasant and distinct notes of buckwheat, which remind me of my childhood’s breakfasts, when my dad used to make buckwheat pancakes for us. Paired with apples, it’s like a match made in heaven!

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White Beans Smoked Almonds Hummus

Fan of hummus? This White Beans Smoked Almonds Hummus is a stellar and delectable change from your traditional beloved chickpea dip. It’ll have you fall in love at first bite!

Fan of hummus? This White Beans Smoked Almonds Hummus is a stellar and delectable change from your traditional beloved chickpea dip. It'll have you fall in love at first bite!

Man do I ever love me a good hummus! I’m a serious fan. I might even be hummus’ number one fan, I dunno… All I know is I could never really be trusted alone with a bowl of this stuff. I’d be totally capable of eating the whole thing by the spoonful!

My ultimate favorite go-to recipe would be my famous Heavenly Velvety Smooth Hummus (Yikes! I should seriously consider revisiting that post!) but sometimes, I like to change things up a bit. Like adding a handful of olives to it, for instance…

In this present case, however, I went all out! I practically threw everything out the window. The chickpeas were given the boot and were replaced by their close cousin, the super creamy cannelli white bean. I then elected to throw in a generous amount of smoked almonds, which not only confer a delightful smokey flavor to the dip, but also contribute greatly to its super velvety, silky texture. A little bit of smoked paprika and chipotle powder totally sealed the deal and made this dip into a seriously delicious, yet super healthy snack!

But don’t take my word for it… I strongly suggest that you whip up your own batch, and the sooner the better!  continue reading

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Vegan Minestrone Soup

Loaded with all kinds of healthy vegetables and hearty beans, simmered in a rich, herby tomato broth, this Vegan Minestrone Soup is the perfect hearty meal to warm you up, inside and out! .

Loaded with all kinds of healthy vegetables and hearty beans, simmered in a rich, herby tomato broth, this Vegan Minestrone Soup is the perfect hearty meal to warm you up, inside and out! .

I can’t believe that I had never shared a Minestrone Soup recipe here before, in all those years of blogging…  I mean seriously, I’m not really big on soup, but Minestrone is one of those comforting soups that I could easily eat on a regular basis without ever getting tired of it.

Not only does it taste amazing, but it also happens to be very filling and satisfying with all the pasta and beans and vegetables that it contains. And it comes together pretty quickly, too, providing that you have some leftover cooked beans lying around in your fridge. And if you don’t, well, you can totally get away with using canned beans here! No one will ever be able to tell the difference…

The best part about this soup, or pretty much any soup for that matter, is that you can easily adapt it to use whatever veggies you really love or happen to have on hand – so feel free to swap and change things up and make this gorgeous soup your own!

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Vegan Carrot Bread – No Added Sugar

Made with nothing but wholesome ingredients such as carrots, dates, applesauce, raisins, whole wheat flour and flax, this Vegan Carrot Bread might be healthy, but no one will ever know. Even kids will love it!

Made with nothing but wholesome ingredients such as carrots, dates, applesauce, raisins, whole wheat flour and flax, this Vegan Carrot Bread might be healthy, but no one will ever know. Even kids will love it!

Here’s a carrot bread that contains nothing but wholesome ingredients and no added sugar or animal products whatsoever… some may think that it must taste and feel like pure cardboard in your mouth, but trust me, nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, this cake has even more flavor and texture than any carrot bread or cake I’ve ever eaten.

It’s crazy moist, dense, plenty sweet, slightly spiced… tasty enough to pass for dessert, but healthful enough to eat as a snack, or even as part of breakfast!

One of the things that I’m most excited about with this carrot bread recipe is the fact that it doesn’t even contain eggs. I’ve only just started experimenting with vegan baking and quite frankly I am totally impressed with the results I have been getting. To be honest, I’d been reading about using ground flax seeds as an egg replacement for years, but for some reason I was extremely skeptical that it would work all that great… plus, I never really bothered because I’d always been a firm believer that eggs were good for me. Now I’m not so sure anymore… 

After experimenting with flax egg replacement it for a little while, I have to admit that I absolutely love it! In fact, I think I even prefer flax eggs to the real deal. It’s consistently produced baked goods that had a perfect texture, were extra moist and held super well, too.

I’m definitely a fan. A super excited fan! And I think the chickens are, too! 

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What Actually Happens to Your Body During a Detox

With my yearly Detox Challenge nearing its end, I’ve gotten a lot of questions from about the actual biological and chemical processes that make detoxing so effective.

For example:

  • What are these “toxins” everyone keeps talking about?
  • Why can’t our bodies get rid of them on their own?
  • Weren’t our livers designed just for that purpose?

In this post, I’m going to answer all of these questions, and show you exactly what happens to each part of your body during a detox.

What Are Toxins (And Where Do They Come From)

The terms “toxins” refers to substances that have accumulated in your body and are likely to cause unwelcome health effects.

As members of modern society, we are exposed to far more toxins than someone living a thousand or even a hundred years ago.

The problem with that? Our livers, kidneys, and other organs were not designed to deal with the amount of industrial toxins we encounter today.

The Center for Disease Prevention and Control has found detectable levels of more than 200 chemicals like pesticides, retardants, and tobacco by-products in the blood and urine samples of large groups.

Some of these are known cancerogens; others have been proven to affect hormone levels in women.

So, where do these toxins come from?

For starters, the standard American diet is full of processed foods, saturated fat, and, worst of all sugar.

Neither is good for the body – or for the brain.

In addition to that, we no longer live in clean, non-toxic environments.

The polluted air we breathe in, the plastic items we use on a daily basis, even the medicine we take – everything is so much more toxic than it once was.

Your body is not equipped to deal with that many chemicals on a daily basis.

However, this is where a well-designed detox program can really help!

What Actually Happens to Your Body During a Detox

A detox helps rebalance the gut bacteria, aid the liver in eliminating these toxins from the body, gives the other organs a rest, and lets the body refuel with lots of healthy nutrients.

Here’s how!

Your gut

The Western diet excess sugar, dairy, and processed foods can wreak havoc on your gut bacteria.

Even plant-based diets are not fool-proof: vegan junk foods and processed vegan substitutions can have a similar effect on your gut if consumed excessively.

Doing a detox can help you rebalance your gut microbiomes and significantly reduce inflammation.

That’s why just a week of eating detoxifying foods can help you reduce digestion issues like bloating, gas, and constipation.

Rebalancing your gut bacteria can also help you see improvements in your sleep, mood, and even allergies!

Your liver

The primary function of your liver is to detoxify your body naturally.

However, your liver was not designed to process the amount of toxins someone living in the modern world encounters every single day.

If you are digesting more toxins than your liver can keep up with, it might need a little help.

It doesn’t take much – a single night of cocktails can send your liver into overdrive and wreak havoc on its ability to eliminate toxins from your body.

A detox helps your liver do its job much more effectively, especially during times when your body is under a lot of stress.

Your skin

A detox will lower the oil production in your skin, which will help those of you who struggle with breakouts or acne.

However, be warned: your skin may actually look worse during the first week of a detox.

You can speed up the detoxifying process (and get clearer, brighter skin a bit sooner) if you do a little high-intensity exercise or hop into the sauna during the detox.

Your brain

The mental energy boost you get from a detox is largely due to the rebalancing of the gut bacteria.

After the first few days of a detox, your “brain fog” should dissipate and you should feel a steady flow of energy going through you.

You can also expect improvements in mental clarity, concentration, and focus.

If you are feeling more cranky thank usual thorough most of the detox week, don’t worry!

The first few days of quitting sugar and caffeine may be rough, but you will definitely experience a mood boost at the end of the detox week.

How Meal Mentor Can Help

Didn’t manage to jump into this year’s Detox Challenge?

No worries!

I’ve got your back with a downloadable PDF Detox Challenge plan you can do on your own time and repeat as needed throughout the year (i.e. after vacations).

It includes tons of healthy, plant-based recipes, a complete grocery list & my beloved detox drink recipe that I drink 365 days a year!

Thinking you might need a little more support on your journey to health and happiness?

OR do you feel SO GOOD you want to keep it going?

Start your membership with Meal Mentor for immediate access hundreds of simple plant-based recipes that are both healthy and delicious. You’ll also get weekly accountability reminders and a copy of the meal plan I’m using to feed MY family.

Ready to make 2019 your healthiest year yet?

Join Meal Mentor now.

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10 Side Effects People Often Experience During a Detox

Doing a detox is a great way to reprogram your body, get rid of unhealthy cravings, and start the new year off strong.

However, every year when I host a yearly Detox Challenge, I observe that some people feel… Worse.

Instead of the clear-headedness they expected, they get brain fog.

Instead of the anticipated energy boost, they experience tiredness and fatigue.

And, instead of feeling more positive optimistic, they end up being cranky and anxious.

If this happens to you, I want to reassure you it is normal and TEMPORARY.

It has happened to me.

I’ve had mild side effects like a nagging headache and more severe ones like all-out flu symptoms that put me in bed.

When you cut things like alcohol, caffeine, and sugar from your diet, experiencing some withdrawal symptoms is almost unavoidable.

If you are experiencing any of these 10 side effects, do not give up on your detox just yet! I promise you, the benefits of detoxing are worth it.

10 Side-Effects You Might Experience During a Detox

1. Headaches.

Headaches are the number one withdrawal symptom reported in the Detox Challenge group every year.

The best fix? Hydration.

Aim for at least 8-10 glasses of water a day.

You can also supplement your water intake with non-caffeinated herbal teas like ginger or peppermint. I love every tea made by Celestial seasonings, especially Bengal Spice and Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride.

2. Sleep problems.

For the first few days of a detox, you may experience a disruption to your sleep patterns.

Insomnia is not uncommon, but you may also struggle with feeling tired and desperate for a nap.

To minimize the risk of insomnia, power down your electronic devices an hour before bedtime.

I find a calming night ritual helps get my body ready for good sleep, especially during a detox.

I sip bedtime tea an hour before bed while reading a book (this always puts me to sleep) and listening to ocean sounds.

I also try to stretch 5-10 minutes before my tea + reading ritual. Put my legs up at the wall seems to help ease any discomfort in my legs and lower back that sometimes make it difficult for me to “get comfortable.”

Napping in the afternoon means I won’t go to sleep at night, but it doesn’t seem to affect my husband in the same way so power naps might work for you.

If you’re really tired and can’t nap but need energy, set a timer for 10-15 minutes and close your eyes. Even if you don’t fall asleep you’ll be amazed at how rested you feel from that simple practice. Laying down or at an incline in a chair makes this practice even more invigorating.

3. Tiredness and fatigue.

When you cut sugar from your diet, or simply choose to go without your daily caffeine fix, you are going to feel tired for at least a few days.

I usually tell people if you’re cutting sugar don’t try to cut caffeine too. Tackle that next.

Although it seems counterintuitive, exercising (including going for a walk) can help give you more energy.

4. Restlessness.

Instead of feeling tired, some people can end up feeling restless or with “chatterbox” energy during a detox.

While a few of them can use that flutter of energy to get things done, others find it distracting and unpleasant.

If you stick to your detox program, your energy levels should stabilize in just a few short days.

Until then, take special care to stick to your daily routines to keep the nervous energy levels in check. Meditation and yoga can help. If you feel really anxious trying closing your eyes and counting each exhale until you hit 10. Repeat as long as needed.

5. Diarrhea.

Taking too many bathroom trips is probably one of the most common problems people experience during a detox.

Psyllium husk can help you regulate your bowel movements, but your diet should come first.

Make sure your detox plan is balanced and includes plenty of high-fiber foods to keep your bowel movements regular.

6. Constipation.

Depending on what your diet was like before the detox, you may experience stomach troubles on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Again, the easiest way to avoid this is making sure your detox meal plan includes a variety of healthy, plant-based foods.

If you are struggling to find healthy detox recipes that aren’t just plain salads or weird things that cost a fortune, check out my Detox Plan. It’s all simple, healthy foods that you know and love but nourish you too. There’s also plenty of fiber to make sure you clean the pipes!

7. Anger/irritability.

If you are feeling a little more cranky than usual, the side effects of detoxing your body may be to blame.

To cope with increased irritability, consider taking some time to detox your mind as well.

(More on that next week!)

8. Anxiety.

You may experience low-grade anxiety or notice an increase in your anxiety symptoms during the first few days of a detox.

I find it is helpful to acknowledge I’m anxious and then let it go.

9. Skin problems.

Have you noticed that you tend to break out more when you eat poorly?

As strange as it sounds, the same thing can happen during the first few days of a detox, even though you are eating healthy, detoxifying foods.

But don’t worry – after a few more days, your skin will look better than ever!

10. Cravings.

This is something EVERYONE who goes through a detox experiences at one point or another.

(Yes, including me.)

If you find yourself suddenly craving every type of junk food under the sun, don’t panic.

Hang in there, drink lots of water, and know that in just a few short days you will have successfully reprogrammed your body and brain to crave healthy foods instead.

And if you’d like some extra support when it comes to getting rid of your cravings once and for all, join the super supportive folks doing the 2019 Vegan Detox Challenge with me.

We’ve got your back – and will help keep you going!

How Meal Mentor Can Help

The best way to minimize the unpleasant side effects of a detox program?

Sticking to a healthy, plant-based meal plan all year round.

Joining Meal Mentor will give you access to hundreds of delicious plant-based recipes, weekly meal plans, grocery lists, and a tribe of wonderful community members who are here to support you every step of the way.

We’re LOVING all the brand-new detox recipes and know you will too!

Ready to crush your 2019 health goals?

Join Meal Mentor now.

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