the balance bowl ~a healthy meal made easy~

Creating a balanced meal in a hurry can be a bit of a challenge.

 I have the solution: The Balance Bowl

The Balance Bowl ~vegan, gluten free~ A simple solution to creating a healthy and balanced meal!

I’ve talked before about the importance of planning and prepping food to have on hand for times when you just don’t know what to make or are in a rush.  With a refrigerator stocked full of healthy ingredients, you can’t go wrong!

The Balance Bowl ~vegan, gluten free~ A simple solution to creating a healthy and balanced meal!

Take one day a week to cook a batch of quinoa, roast some vegetables, make salad dressing and sauté up some beans.

 To season chickpeas:  Add one can of rinsed and drained chickpeas to a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add a tablespoon of paprika and sea salt to taste, saute until golden.

The Balance Bowl ~vegan, gluten free~ A simple solution to creating a healthy and balanced meal!

Keep cut up vegetables fresh by storing in an air-tight container and covering with a damp paper towel.

The Balance Bowl ~vegan, gluten free~ A simple solution to creating a healthy and balanced meal!

The key to constructing a balanced meal is having a combination of complex carbohydrates, protein, healthy fat and an abundance of greens!  This combination will keep you full longer and will help to stabilize blood sugars.

Here is how to balance your bowl…

The Balance Bowl ~vegan, gluten free~ A simple solution to creating a healthy and balanced meal!

1.  Begin with a bed of greens:

Greens – arugula, baby kale, romaine, spinach, mixed greens, red or green leaf lettuce

2.  Add as much raw veggies as you want:

Vegetables – cucumbers, shredded carrots, red cabbage, peppers, sprouts, shredded beets, radishes, tomatoes, scallions, onions, broccoli

3.  Choose 1-2 of each from the following categories:

Healthy Fat – avocado, walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, olive oil, hummus, hemp seeds, coconut flakes, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds

Protein – chickpeas, black beans, tofu, tempeh, nuts, edamame, white beans, kidney beans, (non-vegan version: hard-boiled eggs, chicken, fish)

Complex Carbohydrates – quinoa, brown rice, roasted sweet potatoes, farro, barley

4.  Optional Add-Ins:

Roasted Vegetables – asparagus, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, beets, corn

I like to add roasted vegetables especially in the winter for added warmth and satiety.

Fruit – pomegranate seeds, raisins, apple slices, mango, orange or grapefruit sections, dried cranberries

5.  Dressing:

Creamy Avocado Dressing

Peanut Sauce

Or, try this recipe!

Sweet Miso Dressing

1/4 cup water

4 tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons white miso paste

2 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons maple syrup

sea salt

~Blend, drizzle and enjoy!~

The Balance Bowl ~vegan, gluten free~ A simple solution to creating a healthy and balanced meal!

We eat a variation of this meal at least 3 times a week.  It makes a satisfying dinner and can be easily packed for lunch.  Keeping cut up veggies, cooked grains, homemade dressing and seasoned beans or tofu readily available, you don’t have to put any thought into the never-ending question of “what’s for dinner?”

The Balance Bowl ~vegan, gluten free~ A simple solution to creating a healthy and balanced meal!

I hope this makes meal planning easier!

chocolate banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting ~vegan~

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

I’m not going to pretend that these are healthy just because they are vegan.  Sometimes, just because a food is labeled vegan, all-natural or gluten-free doesn’t mean it is healthy!

Yes, these cupcakes are made without eggs, butter or cream, but they contain WAY more sugar then I like to bake with.  But, they are birthday cupcakes and in my book, all bets are off on birthdays!

This past week my baby turned 2!!!  Noah has blessed our lives in more ways than we can count.  It’s been two years of love, light and laughter!


Not only did we celebrate our little man’s big day, we celebrated successfully surviving being first time parents!  (Well, we’d like to think we are successful!)  We went out for a Birthday Eve dinner (yes, we celebrate Birthday Eve!) and indulged in chocolate banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting :)

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting ~vegan~

On a healthy note, these cupcakes are made with whole wheat flour instead of white flour, and banana in place of added fat such as butter.  Plus,  they are void of chemicals and preservatives found in most store-bought cupcakes.

Bake these for birthdays or today for Valentine’s Day!!!

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting ~vegan~

Vegan Chocolate Banana Cupcakes 

1 ripe banana

1 1/4 whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil

2/3 cup soy milk or almond milk

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (vegan if desired)

~Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray a mini-cupcake tin with cooking spray or line with liners and set aside.

~Combine banana and soy milk together using a blender or food processor.  (I used my vitamix)

~Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar into a large bowl.

~In a different bowl, mix together oil, soy milk/banana mixture, vanilla extract and almond extract.

~Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir in mini chocolate chips.  Don’t over mix!

~Pour batter 2/3 full into cupcake tin.

~Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

~Cool on wire racks and top with peanut butter frosting.

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting ~vegan~

Vegan Peanut Butter Frosting

2/3 cup all-natural creamy peanut butter

6 tablespoons powdered sugar

8 tablespoons soy or almond milk (more if needed)

~Using a hand-held mixer, combine all ingredients until fluffy, adding soy milk slowly until desired consistency.  (I started with 4 tablespoons and added extra as needed)

~Taste and add extra powdered sugar if needed.

I frosted the cupcakes by using a plastic sandwich bag.  Just fill, seal, cut the corner off one of the ends and frost away!

Remember to store in an air-tight container to maintain freshness!

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting ~vegan~

Top with a few mini-chips for fun!

For those of you counting; each cupcake is around 120 calories and 5 grams of fat. (depending on how much frosting is on top!)

Wishing everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day xoxo

red velvet chocolate beet cupcakes ~vegan~

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner!  Show your loved ones how much you care by making them a batch of Red Velvet Chocolate Beet Cupcakes!!
red velvet chocolate beet cupcakes ~vegan~

Mother Nature tries to drop us subtle hints…walnuts are good for brain health and they resemble a brain, carrots are good for eye health and when sliced crosswise resemble an eye, a bulb of ginger root mimics the shape of the stomach and ginger is great for settling an upset stomach.  And, beets….you guessed it, not only do they slightly resemble a heart, but they are great for heart health!

red velvet chocolate beet cupcakes ~vegan~

The bright red color of beets is from the abundance of phytocompounds and antioxidants.  The most researched compound of the beet is one called betalains.  Betalains is a medicinal compound that is useful in the detoxification process and is a powerful anti-inflammatory.  It has even been shown to decrease tumor growth.  Another medicinal quality of beets is that when consumed, they increase the amount of nitric oxide in the body.  Nitric oxide dilates vessels, which in turn, lowers blood pressure!

Beets are great juiced, roasted, raw  or used for baking.  Similar to using applesauce, beet puree can be used to decrease fat while maintaining moisture in baked products.  Plus, they lend a beautiful color!

red velvet chocolate beet cupcakes ~vegan~

Red Velvet Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

1 medium beet

applesauce (as needed)

1/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup soy or almond milk

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup + 1 tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch sea salt

red velvet chocolate beet cupcakes ~vegan~

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a mini-muffin tin with cooking spray or line with liners, set aside.

-Wash, peel and cube beet.  Add chopped beet to a small pan of boiling water.  Cook until tender, drain and set aside.

-When beet is cooled, add to a food processor with orange juice.  Puree until consistency of applesauce.

-Measure out 1 cup of beet puree and add to a medium sized bowl.

(If you fall short of 1 cup, add applesauce to make up the difference.  I ended up using about 2 tablespoons of applesauce.)

-Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together soy milk and apple cider vinegar.  Set aside.  The mixture will curdle.  Don’t worry, this is normal!

-Add soy milk mixture, melted coconut oil, sugar and vanilla to beet puree.  Whisk until frothy.

-In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and pinch of sea salt.

-Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.  Using an electric mixer mix until combined.

-Fill muffin cups until 3/4 full.

-Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

-Dust with powdered sugar if desired and enjoy!

red velvet chocolate beet cupcakes ~vegan~

This recipe made about 30 mini cupcakes.  It probably would have made a few more if I didn’t eat so much of the batter!  That’s the great thing about vegan baking…raw batter is safe for consumption!  Increase baking time to 25-30 minutes for regular sized cupcakes.

my valentine!

my valentine!