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Cozy Harvest Risotto. Butternut Squash. Sage. Almonds.


This Cozy Harvest Risotto starts with creamy arborio rice, cooked to risotto perfection, slow-simmered on a stove-top while stirring gently. Then I add in a colorful array of harvest veggies including butternut squash cubes, celery and onions. Accents of sage and thyme. I also fold in some crunchy sliced almonds to complete the plate. A splash of warmed non-dairy milk or creamer over top if desired. For an elegant (surprisingly easy) meal night at home, try this recipe!..


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Pumpkin Spice Popcorn & more holiday movie-watching recipes!


Hot Cocoa. Bowl of Popcorn. Cozy Blanket. One or two favorite holiday movies. Someone to snuggle with (people or pets!) These are my ingredients for a wonderful holiday season evening or afternoon!..

Movie-Watching Snacks Hot Cocoa. Popcorn. Kale Chips. A festive smoothie. A platter of holiday cookies. These vegan recipes will make your holiday movie watching experience a thing of bliss. So snuggle on the couch, grab a big bowl of this super cozy Pumpkin Spice Popcorn (recipe ahead!) and a warm mug of vegan cocoa. Sit by a few twinkly lights strung across a window, a glowing candle or maybe a sparkly Christmas tree.

This is indeed the coziest time of year so embrace it with these recipes! Get a few of my movie-watching recipes + my holiday movie list too..


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Mountain Fudge Sandwich Cookies. Vegan. Chocolate + Walnuts.


These rustic Mountain Fudge Cookies pack everything I love about sandwich cookies into one tender, nutty, fudge-chocolate-filled bite.

Chocolate Fudge + Walnuts. Rich vegan chocolate filling is squished between two cinnamon-accented, tender, walnut cookies. Toss a few of these cookies in your pouch as you scale the mountain climbs of your day..


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No-Cream of Mushroom Soup. Rosemary. Pepper.


Mushroom lovers' listen up. This No-Cream of Mushroom Soup is pretty darn fantastic. Minimal ingredients, simple steps and an end result that looks oh-so-fancy and tastes amazing. Roasted mushrooms, caramelized until tender, infused with pepper and rosemary. Plus a secret ingredient to get all the "creamy" you crave, without adding cream. And sure, add a splash of soy creamer over top to serve if you'd like. Because the white crescent pool of faux creamer does look kinda pretty. Optional though.

Serve with some crusty bread - or even better - in a bread bowl! This mushroom-lovers' soup will warm you up and cozy-up your evening...


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Vegan Hot Cocoa Cinna-Buns. Toasty Marshmallow Swirled.


These Hot Cocoa, Toasty Marshmallow Swirled Cinna-Buns have all the cozy-sweet flavor of rich, steamy, hot cocoa with marshmallows, wrapped into each tender, swirled bite. Rich chocolate spirals are slathered in vegan agave-sweetened cream-cheese frosting and oven-baked, toasted vegan marshmallows. This recipe makes a fun splurge-worthy treat for your holiday season.

And every single bite is vegan. Stay inside and cozy up to these homemade "cinnamon bun" style treats..


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Mint Matcha Green Tea Latte.


This warm and frothy, pastel green, Mint Matcha Latte will warm you up from the inside out. After one cool minty sip you will start to feel your body glow from the green tea Zenergy that comes with matcha beverages. There is a bit of caffeine in each serving of matcha, but you will not feel those shaky jitters like you may from coffee. (One teaspoon matcha powder has around 68mg caffeine, 8oz. coffee has around 100-200mg - 8oz. Starbucks coffee has about 160mg.)

Matcha powder is made by grinding up whole leaves of green tea. And most people describe the "Zenergy" from matcha as a slow and steady energy release. I find it is a feeling that is quite calming and centering. Skip the coffee or espresso latte and give this green tea beverage a try..


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Hope You Had a Happy Holiday!


Hope you guys all had a happy Thanksgiving filled with people and pets you love, amazing food simmering in your kitchens and plenty of pumpkin pie to finish off your day. Here are a few images (and a recipe) from my family's vegan holiday feast this year..


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Citrus-Tamari Tofu Steaks with Warm Satsumas & Rosemary


My Citrus-Tamari Rosemary Tofu Steaks, served with warm maple-brushed satsumas would look lovely on your Thanksgiving table. This is a super easy protein-rich entree to add to your vegan or veg-friendly feast. Tender steaks of tofu are marinated with citrus, tamari, maple and rosemary flavors, then sauteed until sticky and blackened. Crispy edges, silky insides.

For me, Thanksgiving is really all about the side dishes. The stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, oven-warm rolls, green veggies, gravy and more. OK, and the pumpkin pie dessert too. So for me, a super simple protein-rich entree dish really meshes well with my vegan Thanksgiving menu. If you are like me, give this tofu dish a try. Not a tofu fan? This recipe could also be used with tempeh or even seitan..


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Fun Break! Trapeze-ing. Santa Monica. Acura ILX. Whole Foods Giveaway!


Lets pause on food. For some always-welcome FUN.

This post is filled with fun. Fun for me and fun for you. Ahead, check out my "Week with the ILX" adventure including trapeze-ing in Santa Monica! (Lots of goofy pics of me flying through the ocean air!) Also, enter to win a few awesome giveaway prizes! One reader will win a $100 Whole Foods Gift Card and another reader will win a week-long test drive of their own with the Acura ILX! Fun fun fun...


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Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes. Mega Recipe Round-up.


Here is my annual recipe guide to help you host a healthy, happy, Vegan Thanksgiving feast!

A very vegan holiday. I remember my very first vegan Thanksgiving quite well. My homemade cranberry sauce was chilling in the fridge, my sweet potatoes were baking and caramelizing in the oven. I pulled my heavy, ice-covered Tofurky box out of the freezer and started reading the instructions, yanking out the box components. Some vegan "wishbones" and vegan gravy and that round firm Tofurky. I must say, I do love the Tofurky. But I haven't made one in a few years. I remember it baking up a tad dry. I slathered it in gravy and Dijon mustard sauce. My meal was pretty good, but in the end I just felt so satisfied to have celebrated an entire meal, cruelty free. I had such a light and happy heart. A vegan meal can be delicious, easy, fun and life-changing. If you have never done "vegan Thanksgiving" before, I high recommend you give it a try!

The categorized lists ahead include my personal favorite dishes featured here on my blog. Both traditional favorites (stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie galore) and a few less than traditional ideas as well..


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Roasted Beet Salad. Pecans. Balsamic. Citrus. Endive. Twilight.


This elegant Roasted Beet Salad is dotted with buttery pecans, cannellini beans, a few dashes of spicy cayenne, shavings of spicy vegan pepperjack cheese, elegant pointy-fang spears of endive and bitter purple radicchio, plenty of savory greens and a thick, dark balsamic glaze dressing on top.

Yup, one of my guilty pleasures, Twilight. I didn't even see the first film in theaters, but my husband and I rented it one rainy afternoon and I fell in love with the moody cinematography, irresistible love story, hypnotizing movie score and pure overall entertainment value. Escape from reality? Yes, please! Really, how can you not be fascinated by the Twilight phenomenon? So if you are planning any sort of Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2 festivities in honor of the movie opening this weekend, this salad may be just what you are craving...

..and even if you don't know your Edwards from your Jacobs, you will still love this salad :) ..


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ChocoCado. Chocolate Avocado Smoothie. Protein-Infused.


On super busy days, sometimes I just need a really easy boost of energy to keep me powering through the day. I love smoothies for this type of craving. And smoothies with avocado are pretty fantastic. My smoothies need to satisfy in two ways - 1) they must taste amazing! 2) they should make me feel good from the inside out.

This creamy chocolate shake does both those things.

So for a quick, delicious, energizing boost, blend up this rich and chocolate-y ChocoCado Vegan Protein Shake. Creamy and satisfying with a cravable chocolate flavor...


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Roasted Vegetable Soup. BBQ Beans. Cozy Fall Meal.


This super-comforting Roasted Vegetable Soup has a warm, slightly spicy, fire-roasted tomato broth, with accents of black pepper, bay leaf and celery. The roasted veggies are a colorful array of cubed mushrooms, zucchini, red bell pepper and sweet onion. Accents of fresh rosemary and roasted garlic. Slender slices of roasted sweet potato accent each bowl. This stew contains some unique ingredients too, like golden raisins and kalamata olives.

I paired this soup with some BBQ snow cap heirloom beans. Soaked, boiled and then roasted until tender with seasonings in the oven.

If you are craving some steamy warmth to fold your head over, spoon in hand, grab this recipe and get roasting..! Plus check out my studio vs. natural lighting photo session..


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Travel Feature: Golden Door. Plus Wellness Tips + Spa Recipes!


Recently, amidst the chaos, stresses and frenzy of everyday life, I was ordered to pack my bags, kiss my husband and kitty goodbye and escape to a wellness retreat like no other on earth.

Golden Door in Escondido, California.

I remember hearing about this magical place many years ago. I think I saw it featured on Oprah. I remember watching Deborah Szekely, who founded Golden Door in 1958, strolling through the lush green bamboo-laden gardens, past the Koi pond and rocky waterfalls and Japanese lanterns. With wide eyes I thought to myself, “Someday I HAVE to go there!”

Ahead, my Golden Door 4-Day Diary + 7 Golden Door recipes + 7 wellness tips - habits I picked up during my stay. I hope to pass them on to you to keep the wellness chain moving...


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Baked Vegan Sweet Potatoes. Maple. Cinnamon. Citrus.


I want to share my basic, beloved "Vegan Holiday Sweet Potatoes" recipe with you guys. Just in time for Thanksgiving..

This recipe is pretty simple and lets the flavor and texture of baked sweet potatoes shine through. Flavors of cinnamon, maple, vegan butter and fresh orange accent. Holiday-table approved..


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Fall Holiday Fruit Salad. Organic Apple Citrus Cinnamon.


I call this my Omega-Boosted, Fall Holiday Fruit Salad because it is perfect on fall mornings when special guests are visiting. Or just any day, really. It is fast, easy and kinda cozy. The spice-and-citrus aroma that fills the kitchen when making this bowl is dreamy..

Fresh, bright oranges, sliced into tender thick morsels. Sweet, crisp, green and honeycrisp fall apples as fresh as can be. Fresh lemon juice. Warm, soothing cinnamon. A few peeks of sweet raisins. Crunchy, buttery, raw walnuts. And a slow sweet accent of grade B maple syrup. All these ingredients are delicious on their own, but mix them together and a blissful NEW flavor is born. And the uses for this salad are vast...

You can eat it as is or use it as a hot cereal topper for Apple Citrus Cinnamon Oats. Paired with warm oats, farro porridge, quinoa cereal or rice pudding would be lovely. You could also serve it with some almond butter toast or alongside a fall breakfast sandwich of truffled tofu scramble. And trust me, make this stuff and you will be nibbling all the way through because it smells so irresistible!

Oh! And there is a great big boost of healthy omega-3 fatty acids in there too! Even better. Enjoy..


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Holiday Citrus Stuffed Squash


This Holiday Citrus Stuffed Butternut Squash is filled with the super cozy flavors of cinnamon, orange, golden raisin, maple, rosemary, salted pumpkin seeds and sticky-sweet roasted butternut.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching!
Later this week I will post a complete Vegan Thanksgiving guide filled with recipe ideas. But for now, check out this elegant stuffed squash, the aroma is simply intoxicating. After eating this, you will be ready to cuddle under a giant blanket, close your eyes and collapse into holiday bliss in front of a roaring fire. Or your couch paired with some background holiday-y music will work too...


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Juice Cleanse: 3 Days. 18 juices. Go.


Dive into my wellness-reboot juice cleanse diary: 3 Days. 18 juices. Go. Hopefully my path will motivate you or at least pique your interest and inspire your own wellness reflection. (Plus Los Angeles area readers can enter my The Real Juice 2-day cleanse giveaway!)...


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Sweet 'n Sassy Sweet Potato Pita Pockets for Thanksgiving!


This recipe for Sweet 'n Sassy Sweet Potato Pockets was my very first signature Thanksgiving recipe. I came up with it in college when I needed to bring my own "vegan Thanksgiving" side/entree to a non-vegan family feast. And since I LOVE Thanksgiving, I didn't want to miss out on any of my favorite dishes. So instead of bringing multiple dishes and crowding the already crowded dinner table, I made these little gems.

I wanted my entire vegan Thanksgiving meal stuffed inside a puffy pita pocket. And that is what I got!

Everyone at the table raved about them - with shocked looks in their eyes - and by the end of the night I was scribbling down the recipe on a piece of scrap paper for one of the guests. And emailing it to others.

I make this recipe every year no matter what. I crave it. I love it. And it always reminds me that ANYONE can be inspired to try a vegan lifestyle.

Or at least a vegan dish at Thanksgiving.


These pockets contain fiber and vitamin A-rich sweet potatoes, heart-healthy garlic, protein-rich hummus, healthy whole grains in the pita bread and a dose of super-fruit chutney with cranberries and citrus. And a dose of nutrients from the parsley and mixed greens.

pita bread

I toast the olive-oil rubbed pita bread triangles in the oven until crispy warm - soft insides, crisp browned edges. Then stuff those pockets with all the goodies. Then I warm them in the oven just before serving - or serve right away.

Serve these pockets as a side dish or main course for your Thanksgiving Day feast!!

Originally posted: 2009. Updated Nov 2012

Sweet 'n Sassy Sweet Potato Pockets
vegan,makes eight pockets

2 pita pockets, any variety grain pita you'd like (I usually do a mixture of whole grain and basic white flour - for the picky guests) :)
2 cups Kathy's Sweet Potato Mash (ingredients below)
1/2 cup Cran-Citrus Chutney (ingredients below)
1 small tub garlic hummus (as needed)
fresh black pepper
cayenne and fresh thyme
mixed greens or baby spinach
olive oil for rubbing pita bread

Pitas:
Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of fresh thyme and slice into quarters. (8 total from 4 pitas)
Warm in oven for ten minutes at 375 degrees.
Until softened on inside and edges are crisp.

sweet potato mashSweet Potato Mash (slightly modified from original recipe)
1 large garnet sweet potato (about 3 cups), baked
1 cup sweet onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1/4 - 1/2 cup garlic hummus
1/4 cup fresh tangerine or orange juice
1 cup parsley, chopped
1-2 Tbsp maple syrup
0-5 dashes cayenne (for heat)
salt/pepper to taste - (add after tasting if desired)

*to add a crunchier texture, mix in 1/2 cup chopped celery.

cranberry chutneyCran-Citrus Chutney
1/2 can cranberry sauce (or use homemade)
1 tangerine or orange, peeled and cubed
1 Tbsp tangerine or orange juice
1 grind of fresh black pepper
mix well by folding ingredients with fork

Pita Assembly:
Open pita gently and add the following:
Spread 1 tsp garlic hummus
Spoon 2 Tbsp Sweet Potato Mash
Spoon 1 Tbsp Cran-Citrus Chutney
Add a few leaves of mixed greens
squeeze pita tip to close - hummus can help to "seal" the pocket edges a bit

Before Serving:
Re-toast in 350 degree oven for ten minutes.
Serve warm.

Storage:
Store in fridge until ready to eat. Re-toast in oven. Or microwave gently for a soft pocket. They taste delish the next day too. I just microwave or warm in the oven.

Get many more of my Vegan Thanksgiving recipes!




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Peanut Butter Caramel Cheesecake. Pumpkin Cookie Dough Studded. Vegan. No-Bake.


Today's decadent dessert recipe just kind of needed a long name.. Presenting my No-Bake, Vegan Peanut Butter Caramel, Pumpkin Cookie Dough-Studded Cheesecake. On a homemade crumble crust. If you love peanut butter, vegan cheesecake, caramel and all things creamy-delicious, you want to try this recipe..


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Show Me Your Salad'tude Contest! Win a Napa Valley Culinary Adventure from Dole!


Today's BIG contest announcement involves one of my favorite things: SALAD!

Announcing the Healthy. Happy. Life. Show Me Your Salad'tude Contest! One grand prize winner will win a Napa Valley Culinary Adventure + $1000 Spending Money - (hosted by Dole & worth over $6000!) Yes, really. The winner will explore Napa, mingle with celebrity Clinton Kelly (of ABC's The Chew) and indulge in a salad lovers' dream adventure! This prize is generously supplied by Dole. Because Dole Salads truly wants you to embrace your own personal salad'tude each and every day.

I'm SO excited that one of my readers (maybe you!) will win this adventure...


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Peanut Butter Cup Caramel Latte.


This warm mug of peanut butter, espresso and rich chocolate is just what you need to get your day started on a happy, cozy note. Or maybe you just a need an afternoon lift to perk up your mood. Skip the coffee shop and stay in with this homemade hot chocolate-meets-latte-meets-caramel-meets-creamy-peanut-butter sip. Call it a Peanut Butter Caramel Mocha or call it a Peanut Butter Cup Caramel Latte. Either way, this recipe is deliciously vegan and cravable on a chilly day.

And my homemade peanut butter caramel that is drizzled over top is ah-mazing. I used it to make some "leftover Halloween candy caramel apples" too - using leftover vegan peanut butter cups! recipes ahead...


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