Dreams Do Come True... & A Gluten-Free, Vegan and Oil-Free Tailgating

Seriously - when you least expect it, the universe has a way of working out.
I was staying busy with life and not really paying attention to my own self-care (we all let it slip from time-to-time) or things that would be of fun to me. I was trying to stay focused on helping mom achieve her summer wish list and was leaving mine to sit on the back burner.

Then, one weekday, when I was rather busy with meetings and running around, my sister sends me a screenshot of a Groupon Deal for the Maroon 5 concert in our local area. Umm... yes, yes, yes - no questions to be asked, if we already had plans, lady...we are rescheduling and we are making this happen! Yes, someone has a bit of a celebrity crush... let us be honest, a girl can and should dream!

We decided to tailgate a Nicole-Friendly style menu.
Our menu:
- Peanut Butter Cookies
- Curried Pinto Beans
- Cucumber Tomato Salad
- Pineapple Salsa
- Plantain Chips
- Marinated and Grilled Zucchini and Portobello Mushrooms.

Peanut Butter Cookies:

Gluten-Free & Vegan Oatmeal Zucchini Bread

This recipe is super simple, healthy and delicious!

-2 1/2 cups oats -1ish cups mashed banana -1ish cups zucchini -1 tsp baking soda -some cinnamon -some vanilla -1/2 cup bee pollen -4/5 dried dates rehydrated into a paste (this will be used not only as a binder but a sweetener as well) -a touch of ACV
Bake at 350 for at least an hour. 
I placed every ingredient into the Vitamix, turned it on. Blended until everything was mixed to my desire. Bake for an hour-ish at 350.

Preserving Summer's Bounty

It's that time of year when produce is a bit more abundant than it has been and here in central PA, we have really struggled in 2018 to find fresh produce throughout the fall and winter months… well, actually, even for most of the early spring as well. This being for a couple of reasons, the weather was certainly a large factor but also random bugs and fungi (I recall having these conversations with the local farmers but not as well versed in this area to write about it….).
Trying to avoid being left desperate again this coming year, I plan to get what I can now and then preserve it in ways that will last me throughout the winter.
Some of the produce I have had recent access to in abundance: ZucchiniZucchini ChipsZoodlesZucchini Oatmeal BreadZucchini SoupZucchini Pasta SaucePickled ZucchiniSautee some for some Kitchari later in the fallBananasFrozen…. Those that I don't eat right away that isStrawberriesFrozen (can be used for a wide variety of things later)Dehydrated…. Turned…

Quick and simple summer squash soup in a rice cooker! (Gluten-Free & Vegan)

It is not every night that I have access to the family stove and or oven. More often than not, I am either already creating 10 other recipes that require this appliance OR my parents are utilizing it. Perhaps they are making pasta or homemade bread, something that is very much so not Nicole-Friendly and I need to steer clear - which has forced me more times than not, to get creative in my cooking methods.
Knowing that I had a busier week than usual and that I had summer squash that was ripening faster than I was preserving it, I needed to find a way to get into that kitchen and cook up a storm in a very short period of time, as my to-list was continuously growing.
I pulled out the rice cooker and just as I would have with the stove top, I dry-sautéed my spices. I simply did this by plugging in the rice cooker and turning it on, not adding any liquids and tossing in my spices (turmeric, ginger, cardamom, star anise, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, garlic, garlic and seaweed strips).
Once I…

Family Reunion In Granville, Oh (Vega & Gluten-Free)

Too many times I hear those with allergies complaining that travel is impossible and no one is willing to accommodate them.

For me, I have not found this the case, ever. While yes, traveling with allergies does require a bit more preparation and packing space, it is achievable! And by no means do I ever lay the burden on someone else to provide for me. I am always grateful when there are accommodations but I come prepared and with all of my meals and snacks planned out, just to be safe!

For this past weekend, the family was driving out to Granville, OH for a camping stay. I was aware that a microwave would be available for use, making my food options a bit more flexible than if I was to tent camp.

For my breakfasts, I had made a carrot, apple and celery juice. I packed a variety of fruit to snack on and Enjoy Life's new Sweet Potato with Maple Syrup bars.

For my lunch and dinners, I packed two options:
1. My vegan "meatballs" with Cybele's Lentil, Kale, and Broccoli p…

Enjoy Life Products for the Win! (Top 8 Free)

Folks, if you follow me on istagram, than you saw my recent post on Enjoy Life's new Grain & Seed bars and how my mother (normally dislikes anything gluten-free or vegan) devoured these babies!

Check out my instagram post if you missed it.  And use the below code to save 15% (not available on individual bar purchases) on your next purchasae of Enjoy Life's Grain & Seed bars!

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Father's Day Goodies

Last weekend we celebrated Father's Day and decided to revisit a local park for a family picnic. Little did we know when we planned this picnic that it would be close to 100 degrees and very humid out!

Good thing we got there is time to claim a fully-shaded picnic table!

On the menu for this event was a roasted asparagus salad and cauliflower wings.

Asparagus Salad
-Fresh asparagus
-Olive Oil
-Garlic, minced
-Balsamic Vinegar
-Bell Peppers
-Salt and Pepper

Trim the asparagus

Toss the asparagus in some olive oil, salt and pepper and then roast for 10-15 minutes at 350.

While the asparagus is roasting, chop your vegetables. Mix with remaining ingrediants and let sit.

Once the asparagus has roasted. Remove from the oven and let it cool for about 15 minutes.

Cut the asparagus into smaller pieces and then mix with remaining ingrediants.

Let the salad sit for better flavor, but you could serve immediatly if need be.

Cauliflower Wings
-Salt a…

Vegan Carrot Pulp Tuna Salad (Gluten-Free, Oil-Free, Soy-Free, & Nut-Free)

Vegan Carrot Pulp Tuna Salad

-Carrot Pulp
-Spicy Mustard
-Cayenne Pepper
-Fresh Parsley
-Pickly Juice
-Lemon Juice
-Black Pepper

Juice a couple of carrots (I then used them for a carrot, celery apple juice)
Soak some dried seaweed for about 6 minutes
Chop: celery and onions
Mix together: All ingrediants and let soak a good 24 hours to really take in all of the flavors.

I choose to skip a tuna salad sandwich and went with a beet noodle salad instead!

My Favorite Vegan, Gluten-Free and Oil-Free Vegetable Burger

I may have perfected the vegetable burger, too bad I measured nothing and was so exhausted the day I was cooking that I am not 100% certain what I had put into this creation - BUT while rocking these burgers during a work lunch, everyone assumed I was eating a real burger and was amazed when I told them it was a vegan and gluten-free burger.

I know they looked realistic, smelled delicious, but the taste and texture are what made this burger my favorite version thus far!

What I do know is that I started with a base of a white sweet potato, broccoli, carrots, beets, dried acorn squash, and then used spices like ginger, turmeric, garlic, onion, curry leaves and red pepper... and I know I rolled the burgers in my green banana flour - but other than that - not really sure what I did differently than I have been, but these babies rocked!

 So go have fun with whatever ingredients you have chilling in your fridge and cupboards and make something awesome, or making a complete fail, but either …

Trying Dehydrated Strawberries...again...

This time, I was lucky enough to get in season and locally picked berries so I couldn't resist and of course, accepted the offer to purchase an entire case.

This time, I knew I still wanted to keep the berries in their whole form but wanted to help them dry out a bit quicker.

I took the time to cut off each berries top and then placed them in a strict line placement in the dehydrator. I set the temperature for 135 and time for 12 hours and walked away.