Oil Free Basil Pesto

One of the foods that I enjoyed in Italy last year was gluten free pasta with fresh basil pesto. Oh my, that dish quickly became a favorite meal. I’ve tried different plant based packaged pesto mixes in the past year, and while they were good, they couldn’t beat freshly made.

This summer, I grew more basil in my herb garden than I usually do, with the intention of making my own pesto. The plants are big enough and full enough now to snip leaves. After missing lunch today, I created my own fresh oil free basil pesto, for a meal that fell in between lunch and dinner. Lunner? Dinch?

Oil Free Basil Pesto

Here’s the recipe I adapted:

Oil Free Basil Pesto

1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed

1/2 ripe avocado

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup cashews

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons water

Blend basil leaves, avocado, garlic, cashews, and sea salt in food processor or high speed blender, until well combined. Add water a tablespoon at a time, until pesto is smooth and creamy. Serve over pasta or zucchini noodles. Garnish with cherry tomatoes.

Oil Free Basil Pesto

I loved snipping basil from the garden for this recipe. This aromatic herb releases its scent whenever you touch the plant and I inhaled deeply as I gathered leaves.

The recipe was extremely easy to prepare. However, I had trouble getting the pesto smooth enough. The blades of my Ninja blender pushed the mixture to the sides and didn’t blend it well enough.

In hindsight, the pesto might have blended better if I had added more water. I was concerned with making it too thin. The other solution is to double the recipe next time so that the blades of my blender have more to bite into.

The result was a rather chunky oil free basil pesto. I prepared raw zucchini noodles with my spiralizer and topped them with my fresh basil pesto and cherry tomatoes from my veggie garden.

My pesto wasn’t the prettiest, in appearance. However, it tasted wonderful. The freshness of the basil was evident and I savored every bite. I have lots of basil growing in the garden. I’ll practice until I perfect fresh oil free basil pesto.

Oil Free Basil Pesto

Healthy Wacky Cupcakes

Yesterday was one of those unique holidays, that people don’t know about. Cupcake Day is celebrated the third Monday of August each year. I sometimes enjoy participating in these celebrations although I initially passed this one up since traditional sweets are on my “no” list.

I felt like being creative in the kitchen however, and inspired by the egg free wacky cake my mom made when I was a child, I adapted a recipe to create my own version of healthy wacky cupcakes.

Healthy Wacky Cupcakes

Healthy Wacky Cupcake Recipe

This simple cupcake recipe comes together in minutes.

Wacky Chocolate Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups gluten free flour (I used gluten free oat flour)

1 cup coconut sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons light olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 cup cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop 12 cupcake papers into a cupcake baking pan.

Mix gluten free flour, coconut sugar, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder in a large bowl, stirring until well combined. Make three wells in the dry mixture. Add olive oil to one well, apple cider vinegar to another, and vanilla to the third. Pour cold water over the top of everything. Using a wooden spoon or a spatula, hand mix batter until mixture is smooth and slightly bubbly.

Immediately pour batter into cupcake papers, dividing evenly among the 12 compartments. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in cupcake comes out clean. Top with whipped coconut cream, unsweetened dried fruit, fresh fruit or nuts.

Healthy Wacky Cupcakes

Healthy Wacky Cupcakes

Visually the batter reminded me so much of Mom’s wacky cake. I sampled it by swiping a finger along the edge of the bowl, and it tasted like her cake. The kitchen smelled wonderful as the cupcakes baked while I cleaned up. I ended up baking my cupcakes for 24 minutes.

Refined sugar is not on my diet. Coconut sugar, which resembles unrefined brown sugar, or pure maple syrup or raw honey are the only sweeteners I use. So no frosting allowed for these wacky cupcakes. Instead, I topped my mini cakes with unsweetened shredded coconut and wild blueberries, thawed.

Healthy Wacky Cupcakes

Taste Test

After the cakes cooled and the wild blueberries thawed it was time to sample the wacky cupcakes. They smelled wonderful but how would they taste?

These little treasures were perfect…tender, full of chocolate flavor, and not too sweet. The shredded coconut and wild blueberries made an excellent topping. Next time I create these I want to try making my own whipped coconut cream for a topping.

I could not have wished for a better way to celebrate Cupcake Day, in my own way. Healthy Wacky Cupcakes made a great special treat!

Healthy Wacky Cupcakes

3 Ingredient Chocolate Cookies

I’m always on the lookout for healthy treats. It’s not easy because I have tough criteria. The snack can’t contain gluten, refined sugar, eggs or dairy products. Thankfully, such recipes do exist. For Try This Tuesday, I tried out a quick and recipe for 3 ingredient chocolate cookies.

3 Ingredient Chocolate Cookies

This recipe comes from Listotic. Check out her website HERE

3 Ingredient Chocolate Cookies

2 large very ripe bananas

1 cup quick rolled oats, gluten free

2 tablespoons unsweetened cacao powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mash bananas in a bowl. Add oats and cacao powder and stir until cookie dough like consistency is reached. Depending on size of the bananas, you may need less oats. Start with 3/4 of a cup and add more to make a dough that holds its shape. Optional: add in a handful of unsweetened coconut flakes, dark chocolate chips sweetened with stevia, dried fruit or nuts.

Drop by spoonfuls on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Use fingers or a fork to mash down dough, forming a cookie shape. Bake 10 – 12 minutes. Enjoy warm from the oven. Makes 12 – 15 cookies.

3 Ingredient Chocolate Cookies

3 Ingredient Chocolate Cookies

These were so easy to make and turned out well! The cookies hold their shape during baking and have a wonderful texture and chocolate flavor without being too sweet. I like how versatile the recipe is. I added a handful of unsweetened coconut flakes to this batch. I’ll try adding nuts or dark chocolate chips sweetened with stevia next time.

I sampled two warm, fresh from the oven cookies with my afternoon tea. This is what I love, hot tea made from herbs plucked from my garden, and light, wholesome snacks that contribute to health, rather than complicate it. I’ll be experimenting with different versions of this basic recipe!

3 Ingredient Chocolate Cookies

Radish Cucumber Dill Salad

As one who has recently begun to enjoy radishes, for the first time in her life, I was excited to try another wonderful looking recipe. After all, I have radishes in my refrigerator crisper to use up.

Radish Cucumber Dill Salad

This easy to prepare recipe was created by Anthony William.

Radish Cucumber Dill Salad

2 cups of radishes, thinly sliced

2 cups cucumbers, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons minced tarragon

4 tablespoons minced dill

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 lemon, juiced

Sea salt to taste

Place radish and cucumber slices in a medium sized bowl and toss with remaining ingredients. Chill salad in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Serves 2.

I used ingredients fresh from my garden, except for the radishes, to create the salad. Since I was the only one who would be eating this gorgeous salad, I cut the recipe in half, which was just the right amount. I didn’t have tarragon on hand, but I had plenty of fresh dill from my herb garden. And, in place of a lemon, I substituted a lime. The beauty of this recipe is that it can be adapted and still taste amazing.

Radish Cucumber Dill Salad

I loved the radish cucumber dill salad. It was refreshingly crunchy and the dill and sprinkle of sea salt added so much flavor. I am still astounded…at myself. I used to dislike radishes and cucumbers were marginal for me. Now, two years in on a plant based journey, I marveled at the beauty and tastiness of my lunch. And this salad is incredibly healthy for me, with the combination of powerful foods and herbs.

I chopped up a tomato from my garden, and toted it and my bowl of salad to the office, so I could eat while I prepped for a listing appointment. My pretty lunch was so satisfying, on so many different levels.

Radish Cucumber Dill Salad

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Radish Slaw with Jalapeño Dressing

This colorful slaw was inspired by a sample that I tasted at a local indie theater that specializes in vegan food. It contained the tasty combo of shredded cabbage and radishes, with the spicy tang of a jalapeño dressing.

I attempted a similar slaw of my own this evening, created without a recipe, combining red cabbage, radishes and carrots, and mixed with my version of a jalapeño dressing.

Radish Slaw with Jalapeño Dressing

Here’s my “this and that” recipe:

Radish Slaw with Jalapeño Dressing

1 cup red cabbage, shredded

1 cup carrots, shredded

4 – 6 radishes, cut into thin slivers

Jalapeño Dressing

1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water

2 limes, juiced

1 cup cilantro

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 jalapeño, seeded

4 tablespoons water

Sea salt & pepper to taste

Combine shredded red cabbage, carrots and radish slivers in a medium sized bowl.

Drain cashews. Combine cashews, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, jalapeño and water in a blender and blend until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour over slaw and mix well. Refrigerate. Makes 4 servings.

Radish Slaw with Jalapeño Dressing

This slaw came together in minutes. The dressing is delicious without being too spicy, although I was more aware of the slight heat from the jalapeño after I finished the slaw. I suspect the slaw I sampled at the theater had an oil and vinegar base. This version has neither, nor does it contain sugar.

I tried my radish slaw and I loved it. This is a big deal to me, as I used to dislike radishes. They seemed too peppery and pithy to me. My grandfather, whom we affectionately called Pop, grew radishes every year in his huge garden. And every year he would offer me one of those little round red vegetables and say “Have a radish!” I always declined.

I’ve learned recently that radishes are so beneficial. Watch for a blog post about radishes and their health benefits this Friday. Pop…I’m eating radishes now, and enjoying them. You would be so happy about that!

Radish Slaw with Jalapeño Dressing

Mixed Berries with Honey

Today’s Try This Tuesday recipe is so incredibly simple, and yummy, that I wondered why I had not tried this before. I’ve declared this week Berry Week, for the blog posts, as I participate in a Berry Challenge on Instagram during the month of July. Created by Anthony William, the Medical Medium, the purpose of the Berry Challenge is to encourage and inspire people to eat berries every day.

It’s achieving its purpose!

Mixed Berries with Honey

I’ll post about the health benefits of these little superfoods on Friday. Today I’m sharing this easy recipe from Anthony, who has been posting lots of ideas for incorporating more berries into our lives

Mixed Berries with Honey

1/2 cup of strawberries, quartered

1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries, thawed

1/2 cup raspberries

1/2 cup blackberries

1 – 2 tablespoons raw organic honey

Gently combine berries with honey. Makes 2 servings.

Mixed Berries with Honey

So simple! I didn’t have raspberries so I increased strawberries to one cup. Any combination of berries can be used. All are beneficial, so pick your favorites and mix them up. Use locally produced raw organic honey, to receive health benefits that are specifically geared toward you.

I typically eat berries, and I do eat them everyday, without any sweetener at all, so I wondered if adding honey would make them taste too sweet. It didn’t! The honey added a rich warm taste that was just right. This would be a great alternative for those who are accustomed to adding refined sugar to their berries.

Honey coated berries can be eaten as is, added to a smoothie bowl, or…my favorite…used to top a bowl of frozen banana nice cream. Oh my…what a wonderful, and healthy, summer treat!

Mixed Berries with Honey

Cucumber Tomato and Dill Salad

Summer heat and long sunny days create in me the desire for simple meals that don’t require cooking. It’s too warm and muggy to heat up the kitchen. I’ve been enjoying meals of watermelon or cantaloupe, leafy greens or salsas made from fresh chopped veggies. This easy cucumber and tomato salad has become one of my favorites!

Cucumber Tomato and Dill Salad

I didn’t use a recipe for this summer salad. Instead, I let intuition guide me, adding the ingredients my body craved.

Cucumber Tomato and Dill Salad

1 medium cucumber, diced

1 tomato, diced

1/4 – 1/2 red or yellow onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh or dried dill

2 tablespoons rice vinegar OR fresh lime juice

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Flavors blend and improve as salad chills.

Cucumber Tomato and Dill Salad

Cucumber Tomato and Dill Salad

My garden provides fresh cucumbers, tomatoes and dill. I’ve only needed to purchase onions from the farmer’s market or grocery store. I especially love snipping dill from my herb garden and inhaling its amazing aroma as I add it to the chopped veggies.

This salad reminds me of one my grandmother made when I was a child. The thinly sliced cucumbers and onions marinated in vinegar overnight before we enjoyed it. I limit my use of vinegar, and use rice vinegar as a healthier option, when I do use it. This salad is equally tasty made with lime juice.

Cucumber, tomato and dill salad makes a great meal on its own and also serves as an excellent side dish with other veggies, legumes or brown rice. I’m relishing this wholesome taste of summer!

Cucumber Tomato and Dill Salad

Healthy Blueberry Scone

I enjoy the tradition of afternoon tea, a habit I’ve cultivated after my first trip to Scotland in 2014. After switching to a plant based lifestyle, my tea time foods changed dramatically. Gone are the finger sandwiches, the sweet treats and the shortbread cookies. Instead I typically have fresh fruit with my tea or a simple snack such as hummus and veggies. Occasionally though, I long for a popular afternoon tea food…the scone.

In Scotland and England scones more resemble tall, light, fluffy American-style biscuits. They are sweeter than our biscuits, and so delicious served with strawberry preserves and clotted cream. I can’t have such scones now. I know I wouldn’t feel well if I ate one. So for months I’ve been adapting different recipes, in search of an acceptable blueberry scone recipe. After many failures, I at last have a winner.

Healthy Blueberry Scone

This recipe is adapted from one I found on Pinterest, by Alisa Fleming, who was going for a Panera scone copycat.

With adaptations, here is the recipe.

Healthy Blueberry Scones

2 cups gluten free flour

1/2 cup organic coconut sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries (or 1/4 cup dried wild blueberries)

1 cup full-fat coconut milk, from a can

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine flour, coconut sugar, baking powder and sea salt in a large bowl. Add frozen blueberries and stir to coat berries in flour mixture. Add full-fat coconut milk and vanilla. Stir until ingredients are well mixed and sticky dough forms.

Drop mixture by the spoonful onto parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes 10 scones.

Healthy Blueberry Scone

Healthy Blueberry Scone

For the flour, I use a cup of oat flour and a cup of garbanzo flour. Another good gluten free choice is almond flour. The coconut sugar resembles coarse brown sugar. It is much less sweet and drier. And it is very important to use canned full-fat coconut milk. I shake the can well before opening, to mix the coconut water with the fat that has collected at the top of the can. I save the left over coconut milk and use it to make another batch of scones.

These blueberry scones are so easy to make, and they are gluten, dairy, refined sugar, egg and oil free. And the taste? They are wonderful and satisfy my desire for a tea time treat. As healthy as they are, I only indulge in these scones once a month or so. Most of the time, my afternoon break unfolds quite well with an herbal tea and a juicy piece of fruit. I save the blueberry scones for a special treat!

Healthy Blueberry Scone

Garlic Tahini Salad Dressing

Living the plant based lifestyle, I’ve come to appreciate the value of healthy flavorful sauces and dressings to drizzle over salads and veggie bowls. A few ingredients and a blender is all that is required to create sauces that range from sweet and mild to tangy and spicy.

Having just posted about garlic as a featured food on Friday, I followed up today with this easy Garlic Tahini Salad Dressing.

Garlic Tahini Salad Dressing

Garlic Tahini Salad Dressing by Anthony William

1/4 cup raw tahini

1 tablespoon olive oil

2-3 garlic cloves

2 medium dates, pitted

1/2 cup water

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve with favorite salad greens or a veggie bowl or use as a dip with veggies. Makes 2 servings.

Garlic Tahini Salad Dressing

Tahini is a sesame paste. It’s available at health food stores or health conscious grocery stores such as Natural Grocers. The tahini and olive oil combine to create a rich Mediterranean flavor, and pairs well with the garlic and subtle sweetness of the dates. I used 3 garlic cloves when I created the dressing today, and I added a pinch of ground red pepper for a touch of heat. Salt and pepper to taste, if desired.

I placed the dressing in the refrigerator while I made a salad.

Garlic Tahini Salad Dressing

I wanted greens today. I’ve learned to pay close attention to my cravings. Since I’ve eliminated unhealthy cravings, I can now trust them and receive them as signals from my body, telling me what it needs. I started with a bowl containing fresh organic spinach and arugula, and added kale from my garden and dandelion greens from my backyard.

For the rest of my salad, I decided to select ingredients intuitively, trusting my instincts to guide me to what I needed.

I included cucumbers, red and orange peppers, tomatoes, chick peas and half an avocado, diced. I had pulled other veggies out of the fridge but this assortment seemed right for lunch today.

Garlic Tahini Salad Dressing

Garlic Tahini Salad Dressing

I drizzled on the garlic tahini dressing, which had thickened up slightly as it chilled, creating the perfect consistency. The dressing was so good! The whole salad was delicious and satisfied my craving for greens while nourishing my body.

The garlic tahini dressing will keep for up to a week in the fridge. I don’t think mine is going to be in there that long!

Garlic Tahini Salad Dressing

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Black Bean Hummus

Anthony William posted this easy to make hummus recipe yesterday, just in time for me to recreate it for Try This Tuesday. Hummus, which is traditionally made out of chick peas but can be made from other beans as well, makes a great plant based snack or meal. I enjoy hummus several times a week, so I was excited to have a new recipe that features black beans.

Black Bean Hummus

Black Bean Hummus by Anthony William

1/2 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight OR 1 1/2 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed (reserve 4 tablespoons of bean water from the can.)

1/2 cup avocado, diced (1 small avocado)

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped, plus extra for garnish

1/2 jalapeño, seeded and chopped

4 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed (1 lime)

1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon coriander

Salt & pepper to taste

If using dried black beans, drain and add to a medium sized pan. Cover with water and cook 45-75 minutes, until very soft. Reserve 4 tablespoons of liquid. Drain rest of liquid and let beans cool.

Combine beans, avocado, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, garlic, cumin and coriander in a food processor or blender, and blend until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Serve with an assortment of cut up veggies.

Black Bean Hummus

I cut up red, yellow and orange peppers, celery, tomatoes, cucumber and included baby carrots. I had left over chopped cilantro for a garnish.

This delicious recipe makes a fulfilling, wholesome meal. And the different components have health benefits.

Black beans are full of anti-aging antioxidants and anthocyanins, and a great source of calcium, magnesium and zinc. They strengthen the immune system and help to repair collagen fibers in the skin.

Avocados are an excellent source of glutathione, which boosts the immune system, strengthens the heart, slows the aging process and rebuilds the nervous system. The monounsaturated fats in avocados reverse insulin resistance and stabilize blood sugars.

Cilantro pulls heavy metals and toxins from the body, detoxifies the liver, supports the adrenals and balances blood glucose levels. Cilantro is also anti-viral, fighting against Epstein Barr, shingles, HHV-6, cytomegalovirus, all herpetic viruses and HIV.

Cumin helps the body absorb and assimilate nutrients more easily. It has anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties.

And fresh organic vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and disease fighting nutrients.

I enjoyed a colorful, tasty lunch of black bean hummus and fresh veggies. I feel good knowing that everything I ate contributed to my health and wellbeing. Food truly is my medicine!