Wednesday, November 7, 2018

smokey butternut squash chili

This is a great recipe for meal prep. It makes a huge pot of chili that you can have for lunches and dinners all week long. In Hawaii we eat chili with rice, but growing up on the mainland we always had chili with warm fresh tortillas. Both are an excellent addition to this hearty soup and make it a well rounded winter meal.

This recipe can be done with butternut squash, pumpkin, kabocha squash, or even sweet potato. Don't be intimidated by squash, sure that initial incision can be challenging, but I've got some tips for you.

When cutting a butternut squash, even the largest gourd can be conquered with the right approach. First, cut off the very top of the squash where the stem was attached, then cut the squash right at the base of it's neck, before it flares out into the section full of seeds. The neck section is the easiest to deal with. While it is standing upright on a cutting board, carefully peel with a knife. Slice the entire section in half and then cube or slice according to your recipe. The section that holds the seeds can be more difficult to maneuver, though not impossible. Cut it in half and then scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut off the bottom of the section where the knot is so it will stand up steadily on the cutting board. Use a knife to carefully peel. This can be difficult depending on the shape of your squash but just take your time. You can use a peeler here as well but I have found that to be even more time consuming.

Tips for smaller squash: place the entire squash in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, rotate to get all sides. Remove the squash and wait until it is cool enough to handle before cutting.

Once you've conquered the cutting, it's just throwing everything into a pot!

Smokey butternut squash chili
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 head of roasted garlic* or 3 cloves raw
  • 3-4 cups cubed butternut squash (or pumpkin or sweet potato)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, blended
  • 2 cans water (3 cups)
  • 2 cans beans, drained and rinsed (black, kidney, pinto, or a combination of the three)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch + 1/2 cup water (optional)
*Roasting garlic adds a complex and rich flavor to any meal. Just cut off the top of a head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap in foil. Roast in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes, or until the top begins to brown and the aroma fills your kitchen. I used to roast garlic all the time but it can be time consuming, I was inspired to roast again since working with Down to Earth Hawaii, more on this later. Allow the roasted garlic to cool enough to handle, then using a fork you can easily remove the individual cloves. They'll be super soft so no need to chop, it will turn into a roasted garlic paste instantly! Sometimes you can even just squeeze the head of garlic to extract the paste, careful not to get any of the skins into your recipe. When using roasted garlic you can use much more due to the subdued flavor. If replacing roasted garlic for raw garlic in any recipe, usually one head of roasted garlic can be substituted for each 1-2 cloves raw.

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the diced onion and minced raw garlic, if you are using it. Cook the onions until soft and translucent, then add the roasted garlic, if you are using it, the cubed butternut squash, blended tomatoes, 3 cups of water, and spices (salt, pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, and chili powder). Cover and bring to a low simmer until squash is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Uncover and add the beans, drained and rinsed.

If you'd like a thicker chili whisk together 2 Tbsp cornstarch with 1/2 cup water and add to chili. Add other veggies if you have them like bell peppers (add with the onions at the beginning), mushrooms, or greens.

This chili is rich and hearty, perfect for a fall or winter meal.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

pumpkin breakfast cookies

Cookies for breakfast! Yay! These are hearty and filling, gluten free, vegan, and irresistible. I am a breakfast person but sometimes it can be a drag. Whether it's changing up a boring breakfast routine, or finding something for those days on the go, these cookies are where it's at. And 'tis the pumpkin season so let's get festive!

pumpkin breakfast cookies
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil or earth balance vegan butter (room temp)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp of each ground cloves, cardamom, and nutmeg (or 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3 cups oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together the almond milk and chia seeds and let it sit to thicken.  In a large mixing bowl combine pumpkin puree, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, spices, and salt. In another bowl combine the dry ingredients; almond flour, oats, baking soda, and baking powder. Add the chia mixture to the wet ingredients and whisk to incorporate. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and fold until completely incorporated. Fold in the dark chocolate chips.

Using a large spoon portion cookies onto a cookie sheet. I make these cookies extra large so they satisfy my hungry husband. The bigger size makes just one enough for a sufficient snack or breaky on the go!

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F. Remove from tray and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container in the fridge. I store these cookies in the fridge because they are very moist and don't want them to spoil in the warm Hawaii heat, not that they would last that long anyway. 😉

Check out my other breakfast cookies and also how to make your own pumpkin puree!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

tofu pokē

Here is another recipe that I make all the time but somehow I have never posted! Hawaiian pokē is traditionally made with raw fish, onion, and limu (seaweed). Check out my beetroot pokē for another vegan version of this island style dish.

tofu pokē
  • 1 block tofu, extra firm
  • 1 small sweet onion (Maui onion if you are in Hawaii!)
  • 1 Tbsp Bragg's amino acids
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp furikake (or combination of seaweed flakes and sesame seeds) 

Before cutting the tofu into bite sized cubes, drain and press it between two tea towels or paper towels for a few minutes to get out some of the excess moisture. Adding some weight on top, such as a bowl or pan, will help.

While the tofu is draining, thinly slice the onion. Whisk together the Bragg's, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Cut the tofu into bite sized cubes and combine all ingredients in a bowl. Toss to combine and refrigerate. Allow pokē to marinate for 30 minutes to a few hours, or even overnight.

Enjoy as an appetizer (pupu) or add to a salad or buddha bowl. This is great with greens and brown rice, or chilled soba noodles, as pictured here.

Thursday, August 30, 2018


Fermenting foods not only extends the storage life of fruits and veggies, but it also enhances their nutritional profile by adding, you guessed it, bacteria! These bacteria are not bad, in fact they play a critical role in maintaining the ecosystem of our bodies. We are host to trillions of bugs, both on and in our bodies, that maintain our immunity and prevent diseases. Fermented foods contain both probiotics, the bacteria themselves, and prebiotics, food for the bacteria. Incorporating these types of foods into your diet helps grow a healthy gut garden.

I was skeptical of home fermenting at first but now I have been doing it for years and am constantly cultivating something in my kitchen. I have a whole fermentation shelf! This kimchi is super simple, quick to prepare, and the perfect amount of spice.

Homemade kimchi
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 Hawaiian chili pepper (or 1 Tbsp chili flakes)
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 daikon
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 head wombok (aka Chinese cabbage, napa cabbage)

Place the garlic, ginger, salt, and chili pepper into a food processor and blend until smooth. In this batch I used Alaea sea salt so the mixture is a bit pinker and chunkier, but with regular salt it becomes sort of a paste.

Grate or shred the carrots and daikon. I have a julienne peeler that I use to make longer strips. Chop the green onions into 1 cm pieces and the wombok into 1 inch pieces.

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Using clean hands, massage the wombok until the liquid begins to pool in the bottom of the bowl. The salt and pressure from massage will help draw the moisture from the vegetables, making the brine for your kimchi. If your hands get tired just take a break! Cover the bowl and set it aside for 10 to 15 minutes, letting time do some of the work. You are ready to jar your kimchi when it has almost halved in volume.

Sanitize a large mouth mason jar with boiling water by either submerging it or pouring it over top. When the glass has cooled slightly start to pack your kimchi into the jar. This size batch usually fits into one quart sized jar. Press kimchi down with each handful, removing any air pockets and allowing the brine to cover the kimchi. If there is any remaining brine in the bowl pour it on top, all veggies should be fully submerged in brine. Top with an airlock lid or a breathable material such as fabric, cheese cloth, or a coffee filter.

Store in a cool dark place in your kitchen. Check kimchi daily, you will need to pack it down as the fermentation creates bubbles throughout the jar. Try to keep the top layer fully submerged in brine throughout the fermentation process. In the heat and humidity of Hawaii, fermentation happens quick. My kimchi is ready within 4-7 days. Taste test along the way to get it how you like it, in colder climates it may take up to 10-14 days. Once it's ready put a proper lid on the jar and place it in the fridge. Refrigeration will slow the fermentation considerably, making it last for weeks in the fridge.

My fermenting adventures were inspired by My New Roots, click the link to check out their Fabulous Fermentation Week post. 

For more info on the microbiome I highly recommend Robynne Chutkan's The Microbiome Solution, or check out her website and blog, Gutbliss.

Friday, August 3, 2018

miso butternut squash tacos

It doesn't have to be Tuesday to have tacos in my house. I love Mexican inspired cuisine. It is so simple and versatile, easy to load up the veggies and still pack with spice and flavor. This dish is a fusion, pairing classic tacos with miso coated butternut and homemade kimchi on top. I am in complete content with these tacos and a fresh margarita. Yes.

As for my homemade kimchi, I just realized I have never done a blog post for it! I have posted homemade saurkraut and karrot kraut, but never my own kimchi recipe. It is so simple, spicy, and I can get everything at the local farmer's market. Until I get that posted, check out My New Roots Fabulous Fermentation Week post, I used this recipe the first time I made kimchi and have adjusted it from there.

And on to the tacos. The farmer's market always has these cute little butternuts for only $1 each! So naturally, I buy two or three. Each one is the perfect size for dinner for two. Miso is another fermented food that I always keep in my fridge. I use it in dressings, sauces, soups, and even spread it on toast with avocado, yum. There are several types of miso paste in stores today, my favorite is Japanese style red miso. Most importantly, I look for the one with the least ingredients.

Stock your tequila shelf and start squeezing some lime because you'll want a margarita with this dinner!

miso butternut squash tacos
  • 1 small butternut squash (about 2 cups peeled and cubed) 
  • 1 Tbsp miso paste
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 2 tsp cornstarch 
  • corn tortillas
  • your choice of toppings- avocado, salsa, cucumbers, red onion, cilantro, or in my case-- kimchi

Peel and cube the squash. Whisk together the miso paste with hot water and cornstarch in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Add the squash and toss to coat. Pour the squash with remaining miso mixture onto a lined baking sheet and spread out into one layer. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes, flip and bake for 5 more minutes.

Meanwhile heat up those tortillas and prep your toppings. I like to wrap the tortillas in foil and throw them in the oven at the same time, but you could also heat them on the stove top.

When squash is tender, remove from the oven. Assemble and enjoy!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

broc tots

Yasss! A healthy take on an old favorite. Revamped from the lunch room tray, pre-fried, and frozen version to full of greens, flavors, and oven baked!

broc tots
  • 1 large russet potato
  • 1/2 lb. broccoli florets
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small or 1/2 large onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour

Peel and cube the potato. Boil until just fork tender and drain. Steam the broccoli florets for just a few minutes, also until fork tender and bright green. In a food processor add the garlic cloves and roughly chopped onion. Process until fully minced then add the cooked potato cubes. Pulse until crumbly with no big chunks. If the potatoes are cooked more they won't crumble but mash in the food processor, but both ways work! Transfer into a bowl. Add the steamed broccoli to the food processor and pulse until crumbly as well, no big chunks but not smooth. Transfer the broccoli to the bowl and add the remaining ingredients; oil, salt, and garbanzo bean flour.

Stir to combine completely. The mixture should be thick enough to handle and shape your tots, if it's not, add more garbanzo flour, a little at a time. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and start shaping your tots! You can do whatever size and shape you want, I like two-bite-sized. Once all are shaped and arranged on the baking tray, pop it in the oven at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. Flip the tots with tongs or a spatula and bake another 10 minutes. They should be a little golden on each size and hold together enough to grab and dip! Yum!

So good with guacamole or herbed lemon tahini dressing. Happy summer!

Friday, June 29, 2018

fig macs

Fig Newtons have been around since 1891! Can you believe that? Needless to say, they are a classic fruity biscuit that was much in need of a healthy upgrade. No offense Fig Newtons. So here is my version: raw, vegan, completely unprocessed, Fig Macs.

These tasty treats are surprisingly easy to make and assemble, and only have 4 main ingredients!

Fig Macs
  • 8 dates, pitted and soaked
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 8 dried figs, soaked
  • sprinkle of flax meal 

Start by pitting the dates and soaking them for a few minutes in warm water. Soak the figs as well while you prepare the rest of the "cookie" coating. Place the oats and walnuts in a food processor and blend into a coarse meal. Drain the dates and add them to the food processor. Blend until a dough is formed.

Transfer the dough into a mixing bowl and divide into two even halves. Line a square or rectangular container or dish with parchment paper. My container is about 8X4 inches. Flatten out half of the cookie mixture into the bottom of the container, making sure to press evenly all the way to the edges.

Drain the figs and blend in the food processor until smooth (ish). Using a rubber spatula, spread the fig filling on top of the bottom layer of cookie. For the top layer, flatten out the cookie dough in your hands as much as possible before placing it on top of the fig layer. It's fine if it breaks into a few pieces because once it is layered you can flatten it and connect the pieces with your fingers. I like to fold over the edges of the parchment paper so I have a less sticky surface to flatten and compress.

Sprinkle with flax meal (optional, just for texture) and place in the freezer for at least one hour. To remove the entire thing from the container just lift the sides of the parchment paper. Place onto a cutting board and unwrap. Slice into even bars, store in the refrigerator, and enjoy!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

easy baked tofu

Summer is here! I am finished with school (finally!) and ready to play and surf all summer! I'll have more time on my hands so I'm planning on posting a lot more recipes, stay tuned!

I am always looking for new ways to prepare tofu. It's a great addition to the vegan diet but can be a bit boring. Not when baked into savory nuggets!

easy baked tofu
  • 1 block tofu
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp Bragg's amino acids (or soy sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp water

Drain the tofu from the package and then place it in a colander with a few paper towels. Cover with another paper towel and weigh it down with a bowl or something with a flat bottom. I usually place something heavy in the bowl to really squeeze the water out. Let it drain for at least 10 minutes.

Whisk together all of the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. After draining the tofu cut it into even cubes and add to the mixing bowl. Gently toss to coat the tofu completely.

Spread evenly on a lined baking tray and cover with any remaining sauce. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and enjoy! These little nuggets are perfect on a salad or buddah bowl.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

protein energy bites

Upon many requests, here are two versions of protein energy bites that I have made for Free Snack Friday's at Orangetheory! These are super easy and versatile, I'll give you a few options here but be creative and add whatever you want!

  • 10 oz dates (15-16 pitted dates)
  • 10 oz oats (3 cups)
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder (or chocolate)
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 1/4 cup almond butter (or peanut butter, or tahini)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • pinch of salt

Pit the dates by cutting them in half and then soak them for a few minutes in hot water. This will soften them enough to blend easily. While the dates are soaking add the oats and protein powder to a food processor and blend into a coarse meal. Transfer the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Drain the dates and add them to the food processor along with the almond butter, maple syrup, and a pinch of salt.

Transfer the wet ingredients into the mixing bowl and add the cacao nibs. Mix everything together with a spatula as much as possible and then completely combine using your hands. If your mixture is really sticky you can put it in the fridge for 15 min to 1 hour before rolling into balls. Section off and roll into balls. Makes 25-30 depending on the size. Roll in desiccated coconut if desired. 

These are the best post workout snacks! Keep them in the fridge and enjoy!