Vegan and Gluten Free Banana Pudding

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November is Banana Pudding Lover’s Month. I grew up enjoying that classic dessert. My mom layered vanilla wafers, sliced bananas and creamy vanilla puddling and topped it with whipped cream.

Since switching to a plant based, low sugar, gluten free lifestyle, regular banana pudding is not on my acceptable list. I can enjoy a banana but the rest of the ingredients are not good for me.

In honor of the month, and remembering that banana pudding I grew up with, I wondered if a vegan and gluten free banana puddling recipe existed. It does!

I found an easy recipe on Pinterest and adapted it slightly.

Vegan and Gluten Free Banana Pudding title meme

The Birth of Banana Pudding

The first recipe for banana pudding, served over sponge cake, showed up in the US in 1888. Good Housekeeping published the recipe in its magazine.

The availability of the exotic fruit enabled cooks to create new desserts. An early banana pudding recipe showed up in “The Kentucky Recipe Book” in 1903.

The introduction of Nabisco’s Nilla Wafer in the 1940s popularized banana pudding. Nabisco printed the recipe on every box of cookies.

Rodgers Pudding Company launched Banana Pudding Lover’s Month after a successful National Banana Pudding Festival in 2010. The two day festival was held in Tennessee.

Vegan and Gluten Free Banana Pudding vanilla wafers
Vegan and Gluten Free Banana Pudding – gluten free vanilla wafers

Vegan and Gluten Free Banana Pudding Recipe

This quick and easy recipe, adapted from the Southern In Law website, only uses six ingredients and comes together in minutes.

This banana pudding is gluten, egg, dairy and sugar free.

Gluten free cornstarch or potato starch may be used. And any dairy free milk is fine. I used almond milk.

I purchased gluten free vanilla wafers from Natural Grocer’s. Omit the cookies, if desired. And I topped my banana pudding cups with non dairy coconut whipped topping, also purchased from Natural Grocer’s.

Vegan and Gluten Free Banana Pudding ready to chill
Vegan and Gluten Free Banana Pudding – ready to chill
Vegan and Gluten Free Banana Pudding

Vegan & Gluten Free Banana Pudding

journeywithhealthyme
This quick and easy recipe is gluten, eggs, dairy and sugar free.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Chilling Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 8 Servings

Ingredients
  

  • 3 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 cups almond milk
  • 1/4 cup corn or potato starch
  • 1/8 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 box gluten free vanilla wafers

Instructions
 

  • Combine mashed bananas, almond milk, vanilla, maple syrup and corn or potato starch to a large saucepan.
  • Over medium heat, stir mixture until it just comes to boiling.
  • Reduce heat slightly and continue to stir while mixture simmers. Cook and stir until pudding reaches desired consistency, about 3 - 5 minutes. Stir continually to prevent scorching. Pudding will thicken more as it cools. Remove from heat.
  • In individual bowls, add 1 or 2 gluten free vanilla wafers to the bottom of each container. Pour pudding into bowls. Add 4 - 6 vanilla wafers to pudding cups, pushing cookies into mixture around the edges of bowls. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least one hour.
  • Before serving, top with dairy free coconut milk whipped topping, crushed vanilla wafers or sliced bananas. Makes 8 servings.
Keyword Banana Pudding, Gluten Free, Vegan

Celebrating Banana Pudding Lover’s Month

I tried a banana pudding cup today, after lunch, in celebration of the month.

My initial verdict: this dessert is delicious. The pudding texture is lighter than the classic dessert but I can live with that. The taste is just right. This recipe provides an excellent healthy alternative to classic banana pudding. The gluten free vanilla wafers added that necessary cookie component and the dairy free whipped topping made the dessert perfect.

I’ll certainly make this dessert again, in November or any other month of the year!

Do you love banana pudding?

Vegan and Gluten Free Banana Pudding cups
Vegan and Gluten Free Banana Pudding cups

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Recipes for National Blueberry Day

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July is National Blueberry Month and the 8th, National Blueberry Day. Summer provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy this seasonal fruit. Thankfully, however, frozen blueberries allow us to benefit from their goodness year around.

Wild blueberries, especially, offer amazing health benefits. Check out how they boost health and support wellness here. My dad introduced me to blueberries while I was still a toddler. He loved blueberry pie and cobbler. I’m grateful that I grew up appreciating this dark blue berry.

After embracing a plant based lifestyle, I discovered it’s not only simple to include blueberries in my diet, it is extremely desirable!

Check out these easy recipes for National Blueberry Day and enjoy summer’s bounty!

Recipes for National Blueberry Day title meme

Easy Ways to Include Blueberries

Before sharing links to recipes, consider these simple ways to add blueberries to your diet.

  • add fresh or frozen berries to smoothies and smoothie bowls
  • top pancakes or waffles with blueberries
  • use as a dessert topping, such as for vegan wacky cupcakes
  • mix fresh or frozen blueberries with other berries for a simple fruit bowl
  • my favorite, grab a handful of fresh blueberries to snack on
Recipes for National Blueberry Day pancakes
Recipes for National Blueberry Day – gluten free pancakes with organic maple syrup and fruit

Recipes for National Blueberry Day

Try any of these delicious blueberry recipes in today’s round up. They are all healthy versions of traditional favorites.

Gluten Free and Oil Free Blueberry Mini Bites

These snack sized blueberry muffins are perfect with afternoon tea or to pack along on a picnic. And they are gluten, oil, egg and refined sugar free as well, making them extra healthy.

Recipes for National Blueberry Day mini muffins
Recipes for National Blueberry Day – mini muffins

Raw Wild Blueberry Pie

This wonderful plant based recipe, from Life Changing Foods by Anthony William, is sugar and gluten free, with no baking required. Light, fruity and so satisfying, this pretty pie is perfect for holidays or special occasions.

Recipes for National Blueberry Day pie
Recipes for National Blueberry Day – raw pie

Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread

Do you enjoy banana bread? This one ups the yums by adding wild blueberries. This beautiful loaf is free from gluten, refined sugar, eggs and diary products. However it’s full of flavor. I love a slice of this bread with a cup of herbal tea.

Recipes for National Blueberry Day bread
Recipes for National Blueberry Day – blueberry banana bread

Blueberry Scones

I love scones. They perfectly complement a cup of hot tea. The challenge is finding a vegan recipe that is also gluten free. This recipe is the best one I’ve tried yet, although I’m always on the hunt for more scone recipes.

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.

Recipes for National Blueberry Day scones
Recipes for National Blueberry Day – scones

Healthy Blueberry Crisp

I’m excited to try this recipe from the blog Erin Lives Whole. This blueberry crisp is vegan, gluten free and comes together in just ten minutes. Instead of a traditional crust for the topping, Erin combines oats with almond flour, walnuts, coconut oil and maple syrup.

Recipes for National Blueberry Day crisp
Blueberry crisp – photo from Erin Lives Whole blog.

Triple Layer Vegan Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

And one more luscious dessert from Erin Lives Whole. These cheesecake bars, using vegan cream cheese, granola and a chia blueberry jam, look amazing. I am excited to try them as well.

Recipes for National Blueberry Day cheesecake
Triple Layer Blueberry Cheesecake Bars – photo from Erin Lives Whole blog.

Favorite Blueberry Dessert

I love blueberries so much that any dessert featuring these berries is a winner with me. What I love even more are these healthier versions of blueberry desserts that don’t contain unwanted sugar, fat, eggs or dairy products.

I hope you’ll enjoy these special treats. And remember that the whole month of July is for celebrating the blueberry. I’d love to see what you create with these tasty berries.

Recipes for National Blueberry Day smoothie bowl
Recipes for National Blueberry Day – smoothie bowl

 

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Vegan Cowboy Beans

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Since embracing a plant based lifestyle, I’ve looked for a replacement for my mom’s famous Settler Baked Beans. That tasty dish contains bacon, ground beef and brown sugar, all ingredients that I now avoid.

While preparing a round up of vegan one pot meals, I came across this recipe for vegan cowboy beans by Contentedness Cooking. Check out the original recipe HERE.

I adapted the recipe slightly. That’s one of the pluses of this simple recipe, it is easy to create your own unique dish based on preferences and what you have on hand.

Vegan Cowboy Beans title meme

Vegan Cowboy Beans

I love that this recipe comes together in minutes, using canned beans and pantry staples. And all the ingredients go into one pot for easy prep, cooking and cleanup.

The original recipe called for homemade barbecue sauce. I’d love to make my own soon. However, to keep it simple and quick this evening, I picked up sugar free classic barbecue sauce at Natural Grocers. I also grabbed several cans of organic beans there too along with a can of organic tomato sauce.

Any canned beans are fine. Use what you have or get creative and mix things up. I chose great northern beans, black eyed peas and a blend of pinto, kidney and black beans.

Vegan Cowboy Beans ingredients
Ingredients for Vegan Cowboy Beans

Vegan Cowboy Beans Recipe

Vegan Cowboy Beans

This savory bean dish is full of flavor.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 6 cups mixed beans, drained and cooked
  • 1/4 cup sugar free barbecue sauce
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • In a large pan, saute onion and green bell pepper in olive oil. Cook until veggies soften, about five minutes.
  • Add beans, barbecue sauce and tomato sauce. Stir well. Add ground mustard and garlic powder.
  • Bring beans just to boil, over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 6 servings.
Keyword Cowboy Beans, Vegan

 

 

Vegan Cowboy Beans simmering
Vegan Cowboy Beans simmering.

Enjoying This Flavorful Dish

By the time I cleaned up my prep area and washed the few dishes I dirtied, the beans were done.

What a delicious and quick meal. And how versatile. The barbecue sauce I selected added a bit of a kick, which I loved. Substitute any style and flavor of barbecue sauce. And swap out the teaspoon of ground mustard for a tablespoon of prepared mustard, if desired. Or used minced garlic instead of garlic powder.

I enjoy including chopped green bell peppers. Use your favorite vegetables. Plus, any combination of beans may be used.

I enjoyed these vegan cowboy beans! They are perfect for a backyard cookout or to tote along to a family potluck dinner. If you intend to share with others, the recipe is easily doubled.

That’s what I’ll do when I cook up my next pot of cowboy beans!

Vegan Cowboy Beans ready to eat
Ready to eat!

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Herbal Iced Teas for Summer

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June 10 is National Iced Tea day. It’s the perfect time to cool off with a refreshing icy drink as temperatures soar.

Most people think of iced tea, sweetened or unsweetened, as the traditional drink made from black tea. I drank the unsweetened version for years. After adopting the practice of afternoon tea, and realizing that my body reacted to traditional teas, I switched to herbal teas.

Herbs make flavorful teas, served hot or cold. And they offer health benefits as well.

Try one of these amazing herbal iced teas for summer.

Herbal Iced Teas for Summer title meme 2

History of Iced Tea

Iced tea is primarily a drink served in the US. Ask for iced tea in England or Scotland and they wonder why you’d ruin a good cup of tea!

South Carolina first grew and produced tea commercially. Tea plants arrived in the late 1700s when French botanist Andre Michaux imported them for Charleston planters.

By the 1800s American cookbooks offered recipes for cold tea in the form of green tea punches. Added liquor often flavored those punches. At the 1893 Chicago World Fair iced green tea and lemonade sold briskly.

By the early 1900s less expensive black tea replaced green tea as the preferred choice for iced tea drinks. The 1904 St. Louis World Fair helped popularize iced tea. Due to the hot summer weather, fair goers sought out cold drinks. Richard Blechynden, India Tea Commissioner, offered free iced tea when he realized no one wanted hot tea. After the fair, he continued to promote iced tea as a desirable summer drink.

Today we drink iced tea year around in the US, with sweet tea common in the southern states.

Herbal Iced Teas for Summer hibiscus
Herbal Iced Teas for Summer – hibiscus and lemon

Herbal Iced Teas for Summer

Try one of these herbal iced teas, for a burst of flavor and a boost of nutrients.

Hibiscus and Lemon

This tart and tasty combination of dried hibiscus and fresh lemon juice refreshes on a hot summer day. It’s one of my favorite herbal iced teas.

4 cups of water, divided

2 teaspoons dried hibiscus or 1 hibiscus tea bag

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 tablespoons raw organic honey

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, add dried hibiscus and cover. Allow to steep for 10 – 15 minutes. Strain tea and chill in refrigerator.

In a small bowl combine remaining water, lemon juice and honey, whisking until honey dissolves. Chill lemon water while hibiscus tea cools. Combine cold liquids to create hibiscus lemon tea. Garnish with lemon slices.

Lemon Balm with Wild Blueberries

Lemon balm grows easily in the garden or a container. It’s delicately flavored leaves create a delicious tea. Combine lemon balm tea with berries for a colorful and nutritious drink.

1/2 cup fresh lemon balm leaves or 3 teaspoons dried herb or 1 tea bag

2 cups water, boiling

1/4 cup frozen wild blueberries, thawed

Add lemon balm to cup and pour in boiling water. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Strain tea and chill in refrigerator until cold.

Place thawed blueberries in bottom of large glass. Pour lemon balm tea over berries, add ice and sweeten with organic honey if desired.

Herbal Iced Teas for Summer lemon balm and blueberries
Herbal Iced Teas for Summer – lemon balm and wild blueberries

Thyme and Raspberries

This tasty combo is high in antioxidants and helps destroy viruses. Thyme is another herb easily grown in the garden.

1/3 cup of fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried herb or 1 tea bag

2 cups water, boiling

1/4 cup fresh raspberries or frozen raspberries, thawed

Combine thyme and boiling water. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Strain tea and chill in refrigerator until cold. Pour thyme tea into a large glass. Add 1/4 cup raspberries and ice. Sweeten tea with organic honey if desired.

Herbal Iced Teas for Summer thyme with raspberries
Herbal Iced Teas for Summer – thyme with raspberries

White Clover

Foraging for wild foods provides fun ingredients for iced teas. Sweet violets, honeysuckle, purslane, cleavers, dandelion and white clover grows in yards and fields. Gather these wild herbs from areas free from pesticides and create a tasty iced tea.

3/4 cup white clover blossoms

2 cups boiling water

Combine clover blossoms and boiling water. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Strain tea and chill in refrigerator until cold. Add ice and sweeten with organic honey if desired.

Herbal Iced Teas for Summer white clover
Herbal Iced Teas for Summer – white clover

Create Your Own Herbal Blends

The above basic tea recipes are extremely adaptable. Combine mint leaves with cucumber slices, fresh ginger with lemon slices, bee balm with lime juice and fresh strawberries, hibiscus with orange juice, or lemon balm with strawberries.

Herbs and fruits or veggies go well together. However, combine two or more herbs, or foraged wild foods with herbs.

The possibilities truly are endless and that’s perfect for the long, warm summer months ahead.

Herbal Iced Teas for Summer lemon balm and strawberries
Herbal iced teas for summer – lemon balm and strawberries

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10 Easy One Pot Vegan Meals

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A one pot meal uses simple ingredients and just one pot or skillet to prepare a delicious lunch or dinner. Typically, the meal is ready to eat in under 30 minutes. And these 10 easy one pot vegan meals take this convenient concept one step further. They are all plant based.

When you need a quick and nutritious meal, try one of these. Whether you are vegan or not, I think you’ll find them an amazing option for a satisfying meatless meal.

10 Easy One Pot Vegan Meals

Round Up of 10 Easy One Pot Vegan Meals

I love the convenience of these easily prepared meals. Using a soup pot, dutch oven or skillet, a hot, nutritious dinner is on the table in short order. One pot means less mess in the kitchen and a speedy clean up too. Less time in the kitchen frees up more time to spend with family, play outside or enjoy some downtime in the evening.

Check out these recipes from Journey With Healthy Me and other awesome health conscious, foodie bloggers. Just click on the underlined titles to go to the recipes.

Vegan Pot Pie Soup

from Journey With Healthy Me

This yummy alternative to traditional pot pie brings all those homey flavors into a soup that’s dairy free. It’s comfort food without the distress that dairy products can bring.

10 Easy One Pot Vegan Meals pot pie soup
10 easy one pot vegan meals – pot pie soup

Creamy Tomato One Pot Pasta

from Food With Feeling

This dinner comes together in minutes using pantry staples. Swap out the fresh vegetables for frozen, if desired. And use gluten free pasta of your choice, if you are gluten sensitive.

Basic One Pan Pasta

from Feel Good Foodie

Martha Stewart perfected the one pan pasta recipes, back in 2013. Uncooked pasta is added to the pot, along with the other ingredients, and they all cook together. I’ve tried several of these recipes and they work! You don’t have to precook the pasta. This recipe is a basic version that’s easy to adapt. Add more veggies or herbs, if desired.

 

One Pan Pasta
10 easy one pot vegan meals – basic one pan pasta. Photo from Feel Good Foodie blog.

Creamy Vegan Caprese Pasta

from She Likes Food

This simple pasta dish uses fresh cherry tomatoes and basil. Use penne pasta, regular or gluten free. This recipe makes a great summer time meal.

Creamy Caprese Pasta
10 easy one pot vegan meals – creamy caprese pasta. Photo from She Likes Food blog.

Thai Peanut Zucchini Noodles

from Flavor the Moments

I love Thai food. This easy to prepare meal combines zucchini noodles with veggies in a Thai peanut sauce.  This light, summery meal does require a spiralizer, to turn zucchini into noodles. Pick up one below.

Vegan Thai Peanut Zucchini Noodles
10 easy one pot vegan meals – Thai peanut zucchini noodles. Photo from Flavor the Moments blog.

Creamy Spinach Pasta

from Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen

One pot, 10 simple ingredients, 10 minutes for this flavorful dish! The recipe calls for vegan cream cheese, or the recipe creator provides a DIY version that you can substitute. As with all the pasta dishes, you can use gluten free pasta if you want.

One Pot Creamy Spinach Pasta
10 easy one pot vegan meals – creamy spinach pasta. Photo from Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen blog.

Cowboy Beans

from Contentedness Cooking

I can’t wait to try this recipe! Really, I’ll be cooking these up this weekend. This hearty meal uses a homemade, sugar free BBQ sauce, recipe included, or you can substitute your favorite brand. Ready in just 15 minutes, Cowboy Beans are perfect to take to family gatherings.

Cowboy Beans
10 easy one pot vegan meals – cowboy beans. Photo from Contentedness Cooking blog.

Veggie Spring Rolls Fried Rice

from Vegan Richa

Do you love those spring rolls that come with Chinese food? Then you’ll love this gluten free, nut free recipe that’s ready to eat in 30 minutes. Use up that leftover rice in the fridge for this one.

Veggie Spring Rolls Fried Rice
10 easy one pot vegan meals – veggie spring rolls fried rice. Photo from Vegan Richa blog.

Chickpea, Cashew & Broccoli Skillet

from Make It Dairy Free

This delicious combination of chickpeas, broccoli and cashews in a savory garlic sauce is ready in 20 minutes. Use a skillet for the Chinese takeout inspired dish.

Chickpea, Cashew and Broccoli Skillet
10 easy one pot vegan meals – chickpea, cashew and broccoli skillet. Photo from Make It Dairy Free blog.

Aloo Matar Soup

from Journey With Healthy Me

And finally, this soup is inspired by the mildly spicy Indian dish, Aloo Matar. Potatoes, onions, garlic and peas combine in a rich tomato broth seasoned with garam masala and curry. I created this recipe during my 62 Outrageous Things to Do for My 62nd Birthday celebration.

I hope you’ll visit the other blogs and find more healthy and delicious recipes to try. Happy cooking…and enjoy spending less time in the kitchen!

10 Easy One Pot Vegan Meals aloo matar soup
10 easy one pot vegan meals – aloo matar soup

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International Hummus Day

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May 13 is International Hummus Day! Established in 2012, this unique holiday celebrates appreciation for this dairy free, gluten free, plant based treat.

Created by Ben Lang, International Hummus Day sets the intention that people from around the world come together to share a meal featuring this dish originally made from chickpeas. We may not be able to gather currently, however we can enjoy hummus from our homes and share favorite recipes with each other.

In fact, hummus is incredible easy to make, using a blender or food processor. And it requires very few ingredients. Check out the eight fun recipes below!

International Hummus Day title meme

Good for You Hummus

Although both Israel and Lebanon claim the origination of hummus, we do know the chickpea dish has been around since the 12th century. And for good reason.

Hummus, which means “chickpea” in Arabic, is not only yummy to eat, it is good for us too. Filled with protein, fiber, potassium, B6, folate, vitamin C, iron and antioxidants, hummus helps to curb hunger cravings, lowers cholesterol and can even reduce the risks of certain types of cancers.

Traditionally made with chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, lentils, black beans and avocados make amazing hummus as well.

Try one or all of these simple to prepare recipes.

Easy Classic Hummus

With a food processor, a few pantry staples combine to form this healthy and delicious snack or meal, served up with fresh veggies or gluten free crackers.

Check out the recipe for easy classic hummus from my blog site, and enjoy!

International Hummus Day classic
International Hummus Day – classic

Black Bean Hummus

This hummus recipe from Anthony William features black beans, avocado, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, garlic, cumin and coriander. It makes an excellent wholesome meal that provides tons of health benefits. Check out the recipe and benefits for Black Bean Hummus or visit the Medical Medium site.

International Hummus Day black bean
International Hummus Day – black bean

Chipotle Hummus

Spicy Chipotle Hummus, from Hey Nutrition Lady, is oil free and made with tahini, garlic, and spicy chipotle peppers. It’s perfect served as a spread on sandwiches and wraps or with gluten free crackers.

Chipotle hummus
International Hummus Day – chipotle. Photo from Hey Nutrition Lady blog.

Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus

This hummus is spicy as well, thanks to jalapeno peppers, with a kick of lime. Created by Food, Faith, Fitness, Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus does not use the traditional ingredient tahini (a paste made from sesame seeds), making it perfect when you don’t have any on hand!

Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus
International Hummus Day – cilantro jalapeno hummus. Photo from Food Faith Fitness blog.

Everything Bagel Hummus

This simple, creamy hummus, from Choosing Chia, makes the perfect yummy snack. Everything Bagel Hummus features roasted garlic, sesame oil and onion powder for that everything bagel flavor.

Everything Bagel Hummus
International Hummus Day – everything bagel. Photo from Choosing Chia blog.

Dill Pickle Hummus

This fun hummus, created by Bree’s Vegan Life, is tangy with dill and it’s oil free also. Dill Pickle Hummus is a flavorful choice with pita chips, cucumber slices or veggie sticks.

Dill Pickle Hummus
International Hummus Day – dill pickle. Photo from Bree’s Vegan Life blog.

Lentil Hummus

I love protein packed lentils. They are so good for us. This Lentil Hummus, from Elephantastic Vegan, is super easy to make and oil free. It’s great served with veggie sticks or gluten free crackers.

Lentil Hummus
International Hummus Day – lentil. Photo from Elephantastic Vegan blog.

Avocado Hummus

Home. Made. Interest. offers this tasty combination of chickpeas and fresh avocados in Avocado Hummus. This wonderfully flavored dip makes a great lunch or afternoon snack, paired with veggies or non GMO tortilla chips.

Avocado Hummus
International Hummus Day – avocado. Photo from Home. Made. Interest. blog.

International Hummus Day

These recipes can help you get started, trying out a variety of hummus recipes. And of course, you can always purchase hummus at the grocery store. The hummus industry grew from $5 million in 2002, to $725 million annually in 2016. That’s an amazing jump and an indication that people love this healthy treat.

Which recipe do you want to try first? Please visit these wonderful websites and then let me know…what’s your favorite hummus? And if you have a hummus recipe to share, send it to me! I love passing on healthy plant based recipes.

International Hummus Day sesame seed
International Hummus Day – sesame seed

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Vegan and Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars

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One thing that many people enjoy about fall is pumpkin flavored everything. From pumpkin spice lattes to pumpkin donuts and gnocchi, this rich and homey flavor defines the season.

This evening I happily tried a new pumpkin recipe, adapted from litecravings.com. These easy to prepare bars are full of pumpkin flavor and spices. They do not contain gluten, eggs, oil, grains or refined sugar.

Vegan Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars Title Meme

 

Vegan and Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars

I used organic canned pumpkin puree for this recipe. The rest of my ingredients were organic as well and non GMO. Make sure you are using pumpkin puree, rather than pumpkin pie filling, which is loaded with sugar. I found non GMO peanut butter powder at my local Natural Grocers, in the refrigerator section of the bulk foods aisle. I located the almond meal, which gives the bars a nice texture, in the same section. You can use almond flour instead, if desired.

The original recipe required two eggs. I used “flax eggs” instead. Check out this post, for four egg substitutes, including flax eggs, that work well for baking.

Vegan & Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars

These easy to prepare bars are rich with pumpkin flavor and spices and do not contain eggs, oil, refined sugar or gluten.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 9

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree, organic if possible
  • 1/4 cup powdered peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce, organic if possible
  • 2 flax eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, aluminum free
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup almond meal or almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces optional

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except for the almond meal.
  • Fold in almond meal, just until combined. Pour mixture into an 8x8 cooking pan, lightly greased with coconut oil.
  • Top with walnut pieces, if desired. Dark chocolate chips would be good too.
  • Bake 20 - 30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in middle comes out with just a bit of batter clinging to it. It's okay to slightly undercook the bars. Begin testing for doneness at 20 minutes.
  • Let cool completely, at least one hour. Bars do even better chilled for several hours in the fridge so that they set. Cut into 9 bars,
Keyword Gluten Free, Pumpkin Bars, Vegan
Ingredients for vegan pumpkin bars
Ingredients for vegan and gluten free pumpkin bars.

Pumpkin Bars that Taste Like Fall

I admit, I rushed the cooling process so I could finish up photos and complete my blog post! However, these vegan and gluten free bars are so good! The bars are slightly sweet and loaded with spiced pumpkin goodness. Because my bars were still warm, they tasted like a delightful cross between pumpkin pie and pumpkin brownies.

The remainder of the bars will chill in the refrigerator overnight. I baked them for about 25 minutes. I think next time…and there will be a next time…I’ll leave them in two minutes longer.

I enjoyed a couple of vegan and gluten free pumpkin bars with a cup of hot peppermint tea. They were perfection…and the taste of fall….in every yummy bite.

Vegan and Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars

 

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Curried Chickpeas

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I love curry! Early in my plant based journey, I discovered how easy it is to make a delicious and healthy vegan curry. This madras curried lentils recipe was the first one I made, and remains a frequent meal.

These simple curried chickpeas seem destined to become my next favorite. And preparing them in the pressure cooker speeds up the process.

Curried Chickpeas Title Meme

Curry

Curry is a broad term for a variety of dishes originating in India. The recipes use a combination of spices and herbs that typically includes turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger and fresh or dried chilies. Curry can be sweet and mild. Or the flavor can be hot and spicy.

Curry is usually prepared as a sauce and combined with vegetables, fruits or proteins. These delightful curried chickpeas are mild and gain their flavor from a combination of six spices and herbs.

Curried Chickpeas Spices
Start with dried chickpeas and a combination of spices.

Curried Chickpeas Recipe

This recipe is adapted from Vegan Under Pressure. Soak dried chickpeas for eight hours before cooking. Because the cook time is so short, start the chickpeas soaking in the morning and drain and rinse them when you are ready to add to the pressure cooker.

I use my DIY vegetable broth in this recipe. Found out how easy it is to make your own, from veggie scraps. And, I prepare a batch of brown rice in the pressure cooker prior to making the curry. Combine two cups of dried brown rice with 3 cups of vegetable broth, in the pressure cooker. Lock on lid. Bring to pressure and cook for 25 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally.

Curried Chickpeas

Curried Chickpeas

This easy to prepare curry derives it's amazing flavor from a combination of spices. Use the pressure cooker to create a meal in minutes.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker

Ingredients
  

  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp ground ginger may substitute fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked 8 hours and drained
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • sea salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • Rinse chickpeas after soaking for 8 hours. Set aside.
  • Heat pressure cooker (I use meat setting) and saute onions in small amount of vegetable broth for 1 - 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Add spices and stir. Add drained and rinsed chickpeas and vegetable broth.
  • Lock on lid. Bring to pressure and cook for 15 minutes. Allow pressure to come down naturally. Carefully remove lid.
  • Test a chickpea to see if it is done. If not, lock on lid again and return to pressure, cooking for 1 - 2 minutes more.
  • Stir chickpeas and add the tomato paste and sea salt to taste. Serve with brown rice.

Notes

May use 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes or dried ground chili peppers for a spicy curry.
Keyword Chickpeas, Curried Chickpeas, Curry
Curried Chickpeas in the Pressure Cooker
Ready to cook.
Curried Chickpeas Cooked
Curried chickpeas cooked in 15 minutes.

Perfect Quick Curry

I love this curry! Just inhaling the scent of the spices as I prepare the recipe gets me hungry for this tasty dish. And I don’t mind at all cleaning up the kitchen while the curried chickpeas cook. They smell wonderful.

They taste wonderful as well. The combination of spices is perfect. The fun part is you can play around with different spices to change up the flavor slightly. Swap out the curry powder for garam masala. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes. Throw in a bit of chili powder.

For me the current mix of flavors is absolutely right. As cooler weather appears, these curried chickpeas, served over brown rice, will grace my bowl often.

Curried Chickpeas
Perfect curried chickpeas.

Pick up a pressure cooker like I use by clicking link below. And check out the pressure cooker cookbooks too!

 


 

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10 DIY Seasoning Blends

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As a follow up to the post about MSG sensitivity, today’s post offers 10 DIY seasoning blends you can make at home.

There are advantages to creating your own blends. If herbs and spices are bought in bulk, making your own seasoning is cheaper. The flavor of DIY seasoning blends is usually more robust. However, the primary reason for making your own blends is the most crucial…you know exactly what’s in your seasonings. Blending your own makes it possible to eliminate unnecessary…and unhealthy…additives such as MSG, extra sodium, sugar, chemicals, fillers and preservatives.

10 DIY Seasoning Blends

10 DIY Seasoning Blends

Herbal Blend

  • 4 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 4 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 4 tablespoons dried dill
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt (optional)

Combine all ingredients and store in an air tight container. Sprinkle on roasted veggies and potato wedges, or add 1 tablespoon of seasoning to rice and lentil dishes.

This is one of my favorite seasoning blends. I love it with oven roasted potatoes.

Simple Seasoning Salt

  • 4 tablespoons onion powder
  • 4 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt

Combine all ingredients in an air tight container. Use 3 – 4 teaspoons of seasoning for roasted veggies, potato and sweet potato wedges, soups, sauces and bean dishes.

The first blend I ever created, this one is great on oven roasted potato or sweet potato wedges.

Spicy Seasoning Blend

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric

Mix all ingredients together and store in an air tight container. Sprinkle on oven roasted veggies and potatoes or use 1 tablespoon of mix in soups and stir fries.

10 DIY Seasoning Blends Swirl

Curry Blend

  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground mustard
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (less for lower heat level)
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1/4 cup turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine all ingredients and store in an air tight container. Use 1 – 3 teaspoons in recipes such as curried lentils, bean dishes, rice dishes, stir fries and roasted veggies.

Chili Seasoning

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients together and store in an air tight container. Use 2 – 3 teaspoons for chili recipes. This is especially good for veggie or bean chilis.

Italian Seasoning

  • 4 teaspoons basil
  • 4 teaspoons oregano
  • 4 teaspoons rosemary
  • 4 teaspoons thyme

Combine all ingredients in an air tight container. Use 1 – 2 teaspoons, or to taste, in homemade spaghetti sauce, soups, veggies, oven roasted  potatoes, eggplant and other Italian recipes.

10 DIY Seasoning Blends Herbs

Ranch Dressing Mix

  • 1/4 cup dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dill
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Combine all ingredients and store in an air tight container. Season roasted veggies or potatoes with 1 – 2 teaspoons seasoning. To make ranch dressing, mix 1 tablespoon of mix with 1/2 cup of vegan sugar free mayo like Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise and 1/4 cup almond or coconut milk.

Bulk Herbs and Spices

Tips for DIY Seasoning Blends

For convenience and to save money, I purchase dried herbs and spices in bulk, at Natural Grocers. Packages of herbs and spices are often available at health food shops and health conscious grocery stores.

Large containers of herbs and spices can be purchased at warehouse style retailers as well, however check those labels. Even if they say NO MSG, they can contain additives such as modified food starch, preservatives, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, soy, gluten and artificial colors and/or flavors. We don’t need those either!

The bags of spices and herbs I purchase have one ingredient…the dried herb or spice.

Store blends in glass containers, mason jars with lids, or empty spice jars that you re-use. The DIY seasoning blends will keep for up to a year, if kept in a cool, dark place or in the fridge.

Enjoy Your DIY Seasoning Blends

There’s another advantage to making your own seasonings. You can customize the blends to suit your personal tastes. Love garlic powder? Add more. Don’t like oregano? Cut down the amount or leave it out. Love other herbs and spices? Play around with these recipes or create your own DIY seasoning blends. And have the peace of mind of knowing you are creating something healthy and additive free.

10 DIY Seasoning Blends

Purchase Dried Herbs Below


 


 

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Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

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Ahhh, honeysuckle. That sweet scent transports me back to my childhood and long, hot summer days. The vine didn’t grow in my yard. However, the flowering plants covered the neighbors’ fence, across the street. In fact, honeysuckle covered one corner section of their yard, creating a small “secret garden”.  I’m grateful for the kindness of this dear couple. Looking out their window, they often spied me sitting quietly there in the corner, breathing in that tantalizing scent.

Later my grandfather, an avid gardener, nurtured a honeysuckle plant in his backyard. I brought home a start from that plant, as an adult with a yard of my own. Sadly, that plant did not thrive.

Now I have a honeysuckle vine, gracing a trellis near the front porch. It is a European variety, showing off cream colored blooms tinged with bright pink. Last fall, as I studied foraging for wild edibles, I discovered that fragrant honeysuckle flowers are suitable for tea.

I’ve patiently waited for spring and for my honeysuckle to bloom, so I can sip on my first cup of honeysuckle tea. Days of heavy rain finally gave way this afternoon to sunshine. To my delight, the first honeysuckle flower fully opened to the warmth.

Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

Beyond its amazing scent, which has benefits as well, honeysuckle is a medicinal plant, used for thousands of years to boost health in a variety of ways. The flower has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Traditionally used in tea form, honeysuckle is available also as an essential oil.

Honeysuckle offers these impressive health benefits:

Powerful Detoxifier

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, honeysuckle tea is known as a natural way to remove heat and toxins from the body, making it an excellent tonic for the liver.

Heals Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

Honeysuckle is an potent remedy for colds, flu symptoms, bronchitis, COPD, asthma, fever and pneumonia. The plant acts as an expectorant, helping to relieve congested air passages.

Relieves Digestive Disorders

This flowering plant is helpful in treating digestive disorders such as ulcers, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, Crohn’s disease, urinary tract disorders and pain and inflammation in the small intestine.

Improves Oral Health

Honeysuckle’s antibacterial and astringent properties improve gum health. Create a natural mouthwash by combining two cups of boiling water with half a cup of honeysuckle flowers and leaves. Let steep for at least five minutes. Remove flowers and leaves and allow mouthwash to cool completely before using. Gargle and swish in mouth daily.

Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

Helps with Type 2 Diabetes

Studies show that honeysuckle decreases high blood sugar levels and reduces insulin resistance when used over a period of time.

Eases Arthritis and Auto-Immune Disorders

Honeysuckle’s powerful anti-inflammatory abilities bring relief to those suffering from arthritis symptoms. The plant shows promise in helping those with auto-immune disorders also, such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, bursitis and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Heals Skin Infections

Native Americans boiled fresh honeysuckle leaves and bathed skin wounds with the tea to prevent infection and speed healing. Today, honeysuckle oil is added to skin creams and ointments to help heal skin rashes, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. Honeysuckle slows the aging process as well, fighting free radicals that damage the skin and cause wrinkles.

Aromatherapy

I’ve recently learned about the benefits of aromatherapy. Inhaling the sweet scent of the honeysuckle flower relaxes and calms the body. Further, the scent stabilizes mood, relieves stress and helps to prevent depression.

Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

Possible Side Effects of Honeysuckle Tea

There are a few possible side effects with honeysuckle. It is not recommended for pregnant women or for young children. Because it regulates blood sugar levels, do not use honeysuckle tea if you are already taking medication for this condition. And there are a few people who are allergic to this plant and may experience mild skin irritation. Talk to your doctor before drinking honeysuckle tea, if you have concerns.

Preparing Honeysuckle Tea

Preparing the tea is simple:

If using fresh flowers, add two or three large blooms to a mug. Pour boiling water over the flowers, cover and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey, if desired.

When fresh flowers aren’t available, add 1 – 2 teaspoons dried honeysuckle to a cup of boiling water. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey, if desired.

I plucked that first honeysuckle bloom this afternoon, and added another that appeared close to blooming. After steeping in hot water for 15 minutes, I tried my first sip.

The freshly brewed tea was light green in color, with a delicate slightly sweet aroma. And the taste? Honeysuckle tea is similar to green tea, with a mild, earthy flavor. Although it doesn’t taste like honeysuckle smells, there is a distinct honeysuckle quality to it, a hint of flavor from that sweet nectar within the flower.

I enjoyed it very much!

Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

Tastes Like Summer

For me, honeysuckle tea tastes like summer. Inhaling the scent as I made tea, sipping on the hot liquid, had the same effect as sitting in the secret garden created by those fragrant vines. I felt peaceful and full of joy, centered and whole.

I could easily see back through the passage of time, to my younger self, sitting happily in that corner garden, thinking big thoughts and watching the bees dance among the honeysuckle flowers. In my imagination, she turned to look at me. I raised my cup of honeysuckle tea in acknowledgement and appreciation.

She smiled.

Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea

Want to experience another wild edible tea? Try Sweet Violet Tea.

Check out Lowe’s Garden Center, for a variety of honeysuckle plants.

And you can order dried honeysuckle by clicking on photo below:


 

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