The Quiet Bluebird, Calming Blueberry Smoothie. + Nelly Update.

Sorry I have been a bit MIA this week, but as I hinted in this post, I have been having a pretty tough week with my best friend, my kitty cat Nelly. I'm not really ready to talk about things, and quite honestly we still don't know exactly what is going on. But things like liver cancer, 2-3 months, bile acid tests, ultrasounds, CT scans, B12 injections, steroids, antioxidant pills, insulin checking, weight checking, feeding tubes, surgery and more have all been swirling through our tired heads this week. I know a lot of you have expressed concern via twitter and facebook and for that I want to say thank you. It means so much to me, my husband and Nelly to know that so many people are thinking of and praying for little Nelly cat.

And though I haven't cooked all week (thank goodness for Native Foods & Veggie Grill) I have been blending very quick smoothies during the day. I'm not hungry from all the crying, worrying and stress, but I know I have to eat nutritious foods to be alert to take care of Nelly and not leave her side. And the only reason I am writing this post is because she had such a good morning this morning, running around and eating like normal and even playing a little - so I felt positive enough to whip up this post. Plus I think she likes watching me act normal by type type type-ing on my laptop from the comfort of her kitty tent on the couch.

So today, I am sharing my favorite recipe from the "Calming Smoothies" section of my book. Click ahead for my Quiet Bluebird Smoothie + a few Nelly pics...


Loveliest Lemon Vegan Pancakes. Comfort Food Breakfast.

This is sure to bring you and your family a good morning: You float into the kitchen, lured by a buttery, warm vanilla aroma. On the table: a tall, golden, fluffy stack of steamy pancakes with a silky melting pat of vegan butter on top - rivers of flowing maple syrup streaming over the top and down the sides, pooling on the plate, slowly soaking into the round pillows of bliss. You pull up a seat and grab a shiny silver fork. You press the side of your fork into the pancakes and slice out a triangle-shaped bite. One taste and cozy vanilla-cinnamon floods your senses and the light yet lively accent of fresh lemon zest perks you up. Maple melts your into a dreamy state. These are my loveliest lemon pancakes..

Craving Pancakes. I have been aching to post another pancake recipe lately. Mostly because 1) I do not have nearly enough pancake recipes in my recipe index and 2) I think I have finally (truly) mastered the art of perfect vegan pancakes. I used to think the key to pancake success was the batter - but it is actually in the technique! You can have the perfect batter and still manage to come out with burnt, floppy, #fail pancakes if you do not have the proper cooking method. Today I'll share my recipe for Loveliest Lemon Vegan Pancakes and a few pancake making techniques I use for fluffy, warm, golden, pillow-y, delicious vegan pancakes.

It has been a rough weekend and I'm craving some comfort, so lets warm up a frying pan and bring some pancake visions to life...


Napa Valley: 15 Travel Tips! + My "Suite" Stay at Jordan Vineyards!

Last weekend I headed up to Northern California for a quick trip to one of my favorite places: Napa Valley. Wine tasting, vineyard visits, spa-ing, grape vine-frolicking, long drives with gorgeous views, sunny weather, friendly people (who might be a tad tipsy too, ha) and plenty of amazing food to keep you energized and ready for (more wine.)

Get my 15 Napa Valley Travel Tips and check out my trip pics! Plus check out what it feels like to stay overnight in one of Jordan Winery's luxurious and exclusive guest suites. (And find out how you can stay over too!) Grab a glass of vino and click ahead. Next stop on the wine train, Napa!...


Light & Lovely Recipe: Jicama-Apple Slaw Pitas! Sweet-Dijon Tossed.

File this recipe under "light 'n lovely & totally refreshing!"

These inviting Jicama-Apple Slaw Pitas are a fantastic recipe to serve as a light lunch or appetizer dish. The slaw can also be served on its own as a side salad or light bite snack. Get creative by adding in chopped walnuts, sunflower seeds or even a few golden raisins.

Light and crunchy jicama is grated and tossed with crunchy sweet green apple, onion, finely chopped parsley, black pepper and a lightly creamy sweet-Dijon dressing. This refreshing slaw salad can be served on its own or as I did, in a toasted pita pocket alongside some hummus.

Grab some jicama at the store and whip up this super delicious recipe!..


33 Potluck Perfect Vegan Dishes!

This end-of-summer time of year reminds us that all these friendly warm breezes, blush and citrus sunsets, sunshine-filled days and lazy seasonal moods are soon coming to a close. Cool, crisp fall air will be rushing in as stores fill their shelves with Halloween costume displays and pumpkin-themed everything. But we still have a good month to embrace this laid back season so lets do it with some gusto and fun by celebrating together!

End of summer potlucks are my fave. So don't be shy! Text your friends and organize something sassy, casual, silly, fancy-schmancy, kid-approved, girly, backyard-y, hipster-ish, picnic-y or beachy before the summer sun fades. Amazing vegan food was meant to be shared, so break out of your shell and lets do this thing! I'll bring the rose champagne! :)

Here are 33 potluck perfect vegan recipes to inspire your feast..


Need a Nutrition Boost? Sip on this: Rainbow Juice! + Half Day Juicing.

Frothy swirls of pink, gold and green greet you in a frosty glass. One sip from a cool glass straw and those vibrant spicy-sweet flavors hit your palate and send your taste buds dancing in bliss. Sipping these sassy flavors will energize your day and fuel you with nutrients. And before you know it, you have chugged your Rainbow Juice.

Most of you know me as the smoothie girl. And while I certainly get my fill of blended bliss smoothies each week, there is another wellness practice I adore: juicing! I haven't done a juicing post in quite a while so here it goes. Today I'm sharing three favorite juicing recipes, what their health benefits are and how I merge them into my Rainbow Juice blend. Plus find out how you can try one of my favorite wellness habits: a half day juice cleanse!..


One-Bowl Wonder, Comfort Meal: Speedy Sweet Potato Chili.

This meatless chili is warming and cozy with a spicy kick! It is rich in healthy ingredients like lentils, kidney beans, diced sweet potato, tomato, onion and my secret ingredient that you have to try: chocolate!

This speedy chili is perfect for whipping up for dinner on a busy weeknight. Just throw everything in a large pot and let the ingredients simmer while you run around the house or chill on the couch. In under 30 minutes, you will be all ready to serve up homemade, comfort food, one-pot-wonder, slow-cooked-tasting chili that will help you melt away any stresses from the day.

So hop in the kitchen and make yourself some of my Speedy Sweet Potato Chili!..


Sandwich Meal: Spicy Peanut Tofu.

This Spicy Peanut Tofu Sandwich reminds me of a "bánh mì" Vietnamese sandwich due to the crunchy shredded veggies mingling with fresh cilantro all served on a hearty baguette style, long sandwich roll. But really, this protein-infused recipe has an identity all its own.

Entree Sandwich. Spicy sauteed rectangles of firm tofu have been smothered in my spicy peanut sauce. Crispy browned edges and spicy, nutty peanut flavor in each bite. The bold and flavorful tofu is layered inside a toasty warm sandwich roll along with some lime-infused shredded carrot and daikon, a chipotle vegan mayo sauce, crunchy peanuts, fresh cilantro and some buttery avocado cubes as well. This sandwich is a meal! Easy to make and ready in under 20 minutes.

And if you think tofu isn't for you, check out some encouraging tofu facts and insight. Plus get my tips for vegan nutrition success!..


Laura Beck: Veggie Girl Power Interview!

Next up in my 2013 Veggie Girl Power Interview Series is Laura Beck! Laura is the founding editor of the popular vegan website Vegansaurus. She is a brilliantly entertaining (and lol-inducing) writer who always lightens my mood with her articles. You may have seen her work on Jezebel, VegNews, (of course Vegansaurus) and more. Meet Laura in her VGP interview!..


How-to Make Acai Bowls (and Smoothies!) for Summer.

If you cannot make it to Brazil, aka Brasil, to taste freshly picked acai berries, here is the next best thing.

One of my favorite smoothie flavors: Acai. Rich in antioxidants, fiber, omega fatty acids and more - acai is a delicious Amazonian superfood that is known for its chocolate-y berry flavor and deep purple color.

Today I will show you how to build your own acai bowl, or smoothie. Plus a few shopping and acai brand tips. Dive into purple bliss with ah-sigh-eee..


Coconut Oil Rice Crispy Treats. S'mores Inspired. Easy Dessert!

It's Monday, the workweek begins! And for me, Mondays always feel better when I embrace all things "easy" at the end of the day...

1. Easy dinner (maybe this or this or this or this. Or takeout from Native Foods or Veggie Grill!)
2. Easy plans (Maybe a quickie yoga break or have a 'turn off my phone' night. Or escape TV!.. Perfect night for some mindless reality TV .. who will admit they are watching The Bachelorette finale tonight with me??)
3. And yes easy desserts. This is one of my most favorite easy desserts..

Rice crispy treats are such an easy "no-bake" dessert to whip up, and they are perfect for sharing with friends. These on-the-go friendly treats are fun for packing as you hit the road for an end-of-summer adventure, or to pack in a lunchbox for back-to-school. (Back to school? Yikes!) Outdoor adventures, potlucks and beachy bonfires would love to host a platter of these sweet simple squares.

These "S'mores" inspired Coconut Oil Rice Crispy Treats have nutty crisp rice flavor mingling with chewy, fluffy melted vegan marshmallow in every chocolate-drizzled bite. To veganize this classic kid-approved treat you will need to snag some gelatin-free, plant-based marshmallows and dairy-free dark chocolate. The coconut oil is naturally vegan and provides a wonderful silky rich texture for these crispy treat gems. I usually use vegan butter for rice crispy treats, but I really enjoyed this coco oil version!..