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Quinoa Black Bean Roasted Bell Peppers


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 It’s this time of the year I find my cravings go crazy on me. I go back and forth between comfort food and fresh vibrant food…

What do I really want? 

I want a filling hearty meal that feels like comfort-food but with a lightness and freshness of a Spring meal. I think these Quinoa & Black Bean Roasted Bell Peppers fit all these mixed cravings into one perfectly. 


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These are light and fresh tasting (and so pretty with all these colours, no?) but they also have a heartiness and warmth of a comfort-food meal.

Best of all they come together in less than 30 minutes. Just as the peppers finish roasting in the oven, the one-pot quinoa dish is ready to get filled in. Simple, tasty, beautiful and of course very healthy! My kind of food. 

This is a healthy recipe that is naturally gluten-free and plant-based, which means vegan, dairy and egg free. Which also means that this recipe is allergen-friendly. Perfect for families with mixed diets or allergies. 

The Quinoa Black Bean mix also makes a perfect meal or side dish on its own. I think you will love this healthy gluten-free recipe!


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To get the recipe, I invite you to visit Gourmande in the Kitchen where I share the recipe on Sylvie’s blog today. She is an incredible source of inspiration for healthy eating as well as stunning photography. I am honoured to be invited as a guest. Do come and say hello and grab the recipe. xo



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5 Ingredient Gluten-free Date Squares



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I don’t know about you, but I catch myself sometimes dreaming about the perfect dessert. Lately, it’s been the thought of biting into those incredibly delicious and seductive classic Date Squares. I can be a master at making my dreams come true (wink!) because just then – this happened! Gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free Date Squares with completely clean ingredients and sugar-free too! 

I am telling you guys – this dessert is completely guilt-free, gluten-free and dare I say… healthy – and it’s easy to make with just 5 ingredients!!!

F.I.V.E. ai. 5 ingredients! Enough said!


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I want to change the way people view desserts and making it an enjoyable, pleasurable experience. Why should you cringe when you see desserts and drain yourself from not enjoying it as you salivate. Or when you do, you’re torn from the guilt because god knows what awful things are hiding in there?

There are two ways of enjoying dessert again!

1. You avoid that confusion, ingredient-list reading and simply don’t buy store-made desserts. Sometimes, even ‘baked fresh’ really means it comes from a pre-made artificial source. Just because the place you shop at had a big industrial oven doesn’t mean there’s skilled bakers making things from scratch from good ingredients. Same thing goes for coffee shops or bakeries – unless it is of course a specialty place – those do exist and that’s great but a fancy single date square holds a price tag of about $3.50! (for that price, your ‘date’ might as well be just you!:) )

2. You make your own desserts from quality ingredients! You know what you eat because you know exactly what’s in it. You find quality ingredients that are organic, avoid gluten or other allergens if that’s a concern to you. Or perhaps you just want to eat healthier. (You know I don’t actually have ‘official’ allergies to wheat or gluten, dairy or eggs – but avoiding these foods makes me feel better and be healthier.) 

This recipe is simple enough for beginners and keeps your shopping list nice and short. Or, I maybe you already have these in your kitchen already – did I mention these are just 5 simple ingredients! 



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Gluten-free Vegan 5 Ingredient Date Squares

sugar-free gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free

Ingredients :

1 cup gluten-free oat flour OR gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/2 cup certified gluten-free rolled oats or quick oats (not instant)
3/4 cup organic coconut palm sugar
3/4 cup vegan organic margarine OR coconut oil, cold & hardened, cubed
2 cups pitted medjool dates

Directions :

Line a 8 x 8″ pan with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350F.

Pit the dates and soak them in a bowl with hot water for about 5 minutes. Then strain well and add to a food processor and mix to form a paste. Set aside.

To make the crumble, first make sure the margarine or coconut oil is very cold. I like to place mine in the freezer for about 20 minutes so it hardens up more. Then cut into cubes.

In a food processor, pulse the flour, oats, sugar and margarine or oil until crumbs form. Do not overmix. Transfer half into the baking dish and press into the pan with your fingers. If the dough is too crumbly, wet the tips of your fingers with water and press down. If the mixture is too wet, simply dust the top with a little extra all-purpose flour and continue pressing to cover the bottom of the pan evenly.

Spread out date paste evenly on top.

Sprinkle the remaining crumble that’s  on top of the pie evenly.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes. Top should be nice and golden.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes before serving.

These Crumb Squares are lovely still warm from the oven, just as they’re great the next day straight from the fridge – you decide! ;)
Cutting them however when they are still warm will make them fall apart slightly. 

Keep for up to 7 days in the refrigerator. Freezer friendly for up to 3 months in an airtight container with parchment paper in between squares.


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I hope you will enjoy these Date Squares soon! They are my favourite quick treat to make right now.

Do make it a ‘date’ and enjoy your Date Squares with someone special! :)

ps. I have missed regular blogging so much ~ thank you all for your continued support in this space and enjoying my recipes and taking your health to the next level. Times are so busy with my little baby girl, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. Also, do stay tuned for some really exciting news coming up soon – I just have to put that post together with my announcement, so check back often ;) xoxo Thanks so much for being here! 

 



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Apple, Cucumber & Lemon Juice from Clean Slate Cookbook & Giveaway



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‘Reset your health, detox your body, and feel your best’. That’s what the newest cookbook from Martha Stewart’s Kitchen is all about : Clean Slate is inspiring and so stunning in every way! 

The healthy eating plan and recipes revolve around a plant-based diet, which is not a vegan diet – but rather a diet that puts plant foods first! There’s numerous vegetarian, pescetarian, flexitarian type recipes that are based on real, whole food healthy eating. It’s really a cookbook and guide for clean eating with something for everyone.

I can’t wait to try lots of recipes from this gorgeous book. For now, I am sharing a great simple detox juice, because that’s what I was really needing first! A big vitamin boost that’s quick and simple to make because lately, my life’s just too busy with the baby and exciting projects. I made this juice for me and my 7 year old – what do you know? Kids love this too!! ;)

And Clean Eating goes very well with clean dishware too! Just saying. I love this new Martha Stewart Collection of White Dishware that are available exclusively at Macy’s. I just got a set and I love it – did you see my shot of setting it up for our Family Day on Instagram

Doesn’t Martha Stewart just get everything right. I’ve always loved Martha – ever since I was 12 and watched her shows in complete secrecy and I made a vow to be just like her. #topsecret She opened up my first interests in creativity with crafting, design, making things look pretty and now the delicious world of cooking and baking! hashtag thanks martha!! ;)



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Apple, Cucumber & Lemon Juice

from Clean Slate : a cookbook and guide from Martha Stewart

Ingredients :

1 tart apple (the recipe calls for 2, but I’m all about cutting the sugar lately)
1 English cucumber
1/2 lemon
optional : pinch of cayenne pepper (I skipped this because I was sharing it with a kiddo)

Directions :

Core the apple, peel the cucumber (if not organic), cut a wedge of lemon and remove peel. In a juicer, juice all ingredients, pour into glasses and serve.

This is such a lovely and simple juice. It’s got detoxing properties and it’s very hydrating and alkalizing. This one will definitely be my regular fresh juice because it’s just so delicious yet packs nutrients.



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I can’t wait to try so many other juicing, smoothie and meal recipes for Clean Slate. And did I mention it’s beautiful too? (Sorry, I’m a sucker for gorgeous cookbooks and great crisp photography in them – this one has it all!) 

And did I mention you could get your own copy of Clean Slate too?
Just follow along and enter below! 



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CLEAN SLATE + VITAMINS GIVEAWAY

Receive a copy of the Clean Slate Cookbook along with 2 bottles of Martha Stewart Essentials Vitamins : Multivitamins and Hair, Skin and Nails

For Canadian and US Residents only. 
Contest ends March 7th, 2015

For Pinterest Pins for Bonus entries : Pin first two photos.

 
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Healthy Sugar-free Hot Chocolate topped with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream



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Ahhh… hot chocolate is the quintessential must on a cold winter’s day. For me, that first sip is when time stops still and no matter where I am, (except for driving)… ;) I close my eyes and savour the richness and sweetness of my favourite winter treat. 

It makes sense. I LOVE chocolate and I love sweet treats! (occasionally)
Here’s the crazy part – I don’t eat sugar, even the healthy kind, like honey and organic raw cane sugar is an occasional treat.

So, how do I keep enjoying seductive mugs of hot chocolate, sans sugar, in a pure and natural way?

The secret is in the ingredients! Stevia + Monk Fruit Extract are two beautiful things!

 The key is to be in the know about what’s good for you and for your body! And this is tricky because every single product out there is there for their own gain. You need a little help in knowing what to watch out for. But if you stick with me, I promise to do my best to help you navigate through the bad apples. (sidenote, apples aren’t actually bad, but if you eat 4 of them in one go, they can be!) ;)



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Healthy Sugar-free Hot Chocolate 
topped with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Ingredients :

2 1/2 cups So Delicious Coconut Milk (or another plant milk)
1/2 teaspoon arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon cacao powder
1-3 drops of liquid stevia

Top with :
So Delicious No-Sugar Added Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream (sweetened with Monk Fruit Extract)
sprinkle of cinnamon

 

Directions :

In a small saucepan, whisk together arrowroot and cacao powder with cold milk. Bring to a simmer on medium heat while continuously whisking for about 3 – 5 minutes until the mixture thickens up slightly, but do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in Stevia liquid extract to your taste. (I think just even 1 drop is enough if you’re having the ice cream on top).

Pour into your favourite mug and top with So Delicious No-Sugar Added Ice Cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Enjoy knowing you’re not consuming any sugar naturally!! Crazy!

 



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Stevia is really changing my life. It is a natural extract from the leaves of a Stevia plant. And it literally has zero sugar carbohydrates. It does not spike your blood sugar one bit. 

And Monk Fruit extract is just my newest find! It’s another amazing natural sweetener that has no calories yet it’s naturally sweet. 
See, there are natural healthy ways you can have sweet things in life! 

And it’s natural and even Diabetes friendly!

Of course Sugar-free means so many things right now. And companies are quickly filling up the shelves of your grocery store with Sugar-free products. But, be careful. In most cases it’s artificial sweeteners that are used – even in foods marketed for children. I am so shocked to find kid’s granola bars, lollipops, candy and of course hot chocolate sweetened with Aspertame, Maltitol or Sucralose. Watch out for these and so many more, it’s a trap.

That’s why I was so excited to find the No-Sugar Added Ice Cream from So Delicious! Although I think that label is so misleading and I wish it could say Naturally Sugar-free or something like that to differentiate it from other ice cream that is artificially sweetened with Sorbitol etc.

Now, I am more aware of my sugar intake and I watch my sugar grams so I don’t have too much. 
Eating sugar-free treats that are naturally sweetened with Stevia or Monk Fruit is amazing but it’s not also an every day event.
These are natural but still processed ingredients. But just like Coconut Oil that is also processed to get the oil out of the coconut! Some processing needs to happen to get these extracts out of the fruit. For those occasional treats, I do allow some processed foods. But ‘processed foods’ also aren’t created equal. (I definitely don’t have boxes of ready-made frozen meals and Tofurkey in my fridge!)

So it shouldn’t be overdone also, but knowing you can have something with zero calories in sugar means you can have a dessert with your hot chocolate and not go overboard! (on those sweet occasions). These treats are also great for a Diabetic diet that is actually natural. 

I had these delicious Bounty Balls with my Healthy Sugar-free Hot Chocolate and Ice Cream and I still stayed within a healthy dose of natural sugars.
(Without the Stevia and Monk fruit this would be unthinkable, and I would have to give up one of the 3 treats!)

I hope you’ll enjoy this treat soon!
Have you tried Stevia and/ or products with Monk Fruit extract before? Please share your thoughts about these sweeteners in the comments.

xo ella

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14 Decadent Guilt-free Desserts : gluten-free, vegan and sugar-free



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14 Decadent Guilt-free Desserts : A Valentine’s Day Roundup
gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free/ vegan and sugar-free

Desserts can be very delicious and even seductive… and this amazing and tasty roundup of healthy desserts for Valentine’s Day proves the point.

Remember that ill feeling you’d get from those desserts you know you shouldn’t have eaten… like that bloated stomach that makes you look pregnant, or cramps, or a splitting headache or a mood swing roller coaster and maybe bad skin? All these symptoms (and more) are connected directly with the food you eat. Ditching wheat, sugar, dairy is your ticket to feeling better and looking great AND still enjoying amazing desserts! Yes, I’ve been there and I am not going back because I don’t have to. There’s nothing missing from my desserts – the best things are right there – amazing ingredients and delicious taste! Win!!

Check out all these delicious healthier desserts as a Valentine’s Day Roundup and indulge in something delish and good-for-you for a change!

First 4 pictured above, top to bottom, left to right.

1. Dark Chocolate Truffle Squares from Gourmande in the Kitchen

2. Dark Chocolate Rose Petal Chocolate Bar from Pure Ella

3. No-bake Dark Chocolate Mousse Tarts from Pure Ella

4. Dark Chocolate Silk Pie with Almond Crust from Vegan Richa

5. Fudgy Mocha Mint Brownies from Nosh and Nourish

6. Raw Chocolate Pudding from Oh She Glows

7. Cherry Chocolate Chia Pudding from Pure Ella

8. Sweetheart Citrus Salad with Cinnamon Maple Syrup from The Clean Dish

9. Healthy Chocolate Raspberry Pudding from Texanerin

10. Strawberry Cheesecake Mousse from The Clean Dish 

11. Raw Hazelnut Chocolate Hearts from Pure Ella

12. Orange Pecan Truffles from Vanilla Verte

13. Chocolate Caramel Peanut Bites from Wholly Vegan

14. Carob Cashew Bites from Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes 

 

I hope you will enjoy some of these delicious dessert recipes that are made with great healthy ingredients. I cannot see dessert any other way now. I hope you are also realizing that you can have a sweet treat without the guilt! Yay!!

Wishing you all a happy Valentine’s Day!

Do tell, what is the best gift you’d like to receive for Valentine’s Day?

For me, it’s a tough request as it would have to come from my 8 month old baby girl, but please please sleep through the night! ;) Once that happens getting swept off to a surprise trip to Bahamas (again) with the mr. would be amazing. (Oh but since I’m breastfeeding I’d have to take the little one with me because she just never transitioned well to a bottle (yet), so if she goes, the older one will get jealous and will also want to go, so that makes us plus 2 kids (no sleeping in or staying up!) unless we take grandma, maybe? Well, so much for a romantic fantasy getaway. Haha! Real life with these munchkins hugging us in the morning is so much better anyway. Real love doesn’t need a fancy trip anyway… right? (maybe next year) ;)

 

 

 

 



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