spinach salad with strawberries and toasted almonds

This spinach salad is accompanied by toasted sliced almonds and red ripe strawberries! I made an orange chia seed vinaigrette that consisted of freshly squeezed orange juice, rice vinegar, agave syrup, sesame oil, garlic, and chia seeds.

Are you ready for some fun nutritional facts about chia seeds? Okay! Chia seeds are the highest plant source of omega-3, and are high in calcium, fiber, protein, and antioxidants. If you thought that flax seeds were your go-to for omega-3, then you haven’t heard of chia seeds! Ch-ch-ch-chia! It’s the new black!

I served this tasty-zangy-scrumptious salad with the Kale and Cremini Mushroom Lasagna I made for my very special friends Sandy and Leah.

Another nutritional fun fact, spinach is super high in iron. BUT, unlike the iron found in dead animal flesh, this iron is hard for our body to digest… UNLESS you pair your spinach/leafy greens with something that contains vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), which makes the non-bloody-iron more available for the body to properly absorb. Any kind of healthy fat helps increase the iron absorption even more.

Which means pairing strawberries and almonds with the spinach, and then topping it off with an orange chia seed vinaigrette is the PERFECT way to insure us vegans are getting the benefits of our spinach! Popeye would be proud!

macadamia mango granola

How about a nice bowl of some tropical granola? Yes, please! We found a recipe for this granola in Delicious Living, a monthly publication that we grab at the Sacramento Foods Co-op for inspiration and nutritional information.

Making granola is fun, plus it makes the house smell like cinnamon, vanilla, and toasty delicious things! The recipe straight out of the magazine is as follows, with my little adjustments in parenthesis:

  • 3 cups rolled outs
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 4 tablespoons virgin coconut oil (I used canola oil)
  • 6 tablespoons honey (I used agave syrup)
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt (I used 1/4 teaspoon because I’m a sea salt FIEND)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely chopped dried mango
  • 2/3 cup dried pineapple

Preheat your favorite oven to three hundred degrees fahrenheit.
Mix together the oats, macadamia nuts, sesame seeds, and coconut.
Pour the oil, agave, sea salt, cinnamon, and vanilla, and mix very well.
Spread onto a big pan (I used a 12×17 inch one, which seemed to work out pretty well) and bake for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent any unwanted burning. Burning is only fun if it’s wanted.
When you can smell delicious goodness coming from you oven, and the granola looks toasty and pretty, take it out and let it cool for a while.
Once it is cooled, you can transfer to your favorite granola bowl or container and mix in the dried mango and pineapple for some tropical fun!

Now you can have granola for snack time, breakfast time, or anytime!

So, how’s about some fun nutritional facts?
This granola has the healthy fats that we vegans need to not be skin and bones!  Macadamia nuts are full of monounsaturated fats, which help lower the evil cholesterol (LDL). Macadamia nuts are also high in protein, calcium, potassium, and dietary fiber. Plus, they are magically delicious!
Mangoes are high in vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, natural sugars, iron, fiber, and calicium.
Oats are high in complex carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and iron.

This granola has the power to make you go-go, thanks to all of it’s healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and protein content. Go-Go Granola!

garlic cashew cream pasta with green peas

What time is it? It’s pasta time! We were inspired to make this pasta by the Sacramento Foods Co-op. They have a “Garlic Lover’s Pasta”  in their deli case from time to time, which is vegetarian. But we went ahead and dreamed up a vegan version of this pasta, and MMMM MMM it’s good!

The cream sauce is made up of toasted cashews, garlic, unsweetened soy milk, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, dried basil, dried thyme, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. After some food processoring-ering-ering and stove magic, we poured this sauce over whole wheat fusilli and green peas, and enjoyed it with roasted kale and carrots on the side.

We have found that a combination of nuts (for fat), nutritional yeast (for cheesy flavor), and sea salt (for uh…salt!) are great for replacing cheese, since our tongue recognizes cheese as basically fat and salt. Nuts, seeds, and oils are a great way for us vegans to get the healthy fats that we aren’t getting elsewhere in our diet, and they are also a great source of protein and other nutrients. Some key nutrients in cashews are iron, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, calcium, and protein.

Green peas are also action packed with nutrients and ridiculously delicious! Key nutrients in green peas include calcium, iron, vitamin C, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.

This pasta was enjoyed hot by the bear and the blackberry, but it is also great cold, as in pasta salad. We love pasta time!