Creamy Kale Caesar Salad & Cashew Croutons

I'm not new to the world of a kale caesar salad. In fact I've been making them for years now. I love the tangy-ness of the anchovies and lemon along with tons of garlic and sea salt. But this version is anchovy free ❤️ 👏🏼. And instead of an oil base it's creamy from the addition of cashews [of course]. We get the tangy flavor from capers and apple cider vinegar. But the key to this dressing: toasted nutrition yeast. 

Creamy Vegan Kale Caesar Style Salad. Cashew Croutons & Crispy Leeks.

I even added crispy leeks on top as well as "garlicy" cashew croutons. Talk about gourmet! This salad will wow those non vegans as well. It's a very unique and easy to make salad. The addition of kale to the romaine not only adds a variety of texture but it adds a boost of nutrition as well. 

Creamy Kale Caesar Salad with Cashew Croutons and Crispy Leeks. Recipe and photos via PureKitchen Blog
Creamy Kale Caesar Salad with Cashew Croutons and Crispy Leeks. Recipe and photos via PureKitchen Blog

This salad has loads of protein, healthy fats and cheesy, creamy flavors without the use of dairy, eggs, mayonnaise or anchovies. 

In my opinion romaine lettuce doesn't get enough nutritional credit. It's full of dietary fiber, manganese, potassium, copper, iron and vitamin C and is a good source of vitamin B2, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, phosphorus, chromium, magnesium, calcium and pantothenic acid. Phew. That's a long list. 

Kale is a super food and on trend. I almost feel like it's almost pointless to list the health benefits at this point in its career 😜. But here addition to it also being high in fiber, it has zero fat. One cup of kale has only 36 calories. It is great for aiding in digestion and elimination. It's also filled with so many nutrients, vitamins, folate, magnesium and more. It's dark green leaves are proof of its intense nutrient content. 

Creamy Kale Caesar Salad with Cashew Croutons and Crispy Leeks. Recipe and photos via PureKitchen Blog

Just look at that photo! I swear that salad just screams healthy! Am I right?

Creamy Kale Caesar Salad with Cashew Croutons and Crispy Leeks. Recipe and photos via PureKitchen Blog

Lately I have heard a lot of my friends and colleagues who are avid meat eaters say things like "beans bloat me" or "raw veggies make me feel bloated" or "I can't eat too much salad or I get super bloated". And that makes total sense. Sometimes I think that many people aren't used to eating so much fiber. I also don't think that people are used to going number 2 once or twice a day. ICK!!! I know. But I just thought that I had to talk about this today. 

Meat has no fiber and either does cheese. A lot of my high protein or even Paleo friends (paleo friends tend to eat a lot of veggies so I hesitate to mention them) might have low bloat stomachs but is that good for us? Are they thinking they are "bloated" or is this just a reaction to having more fiber in the diet? I'm open to a discussion because I don't have the answer, but this is the first thing that comes to mind. No pooping often is not a good thing, that's one thing I learned while studying nutrition. 

But on the other hand I don't have conversation with friends about their 💩 everyday so I can't really say for sure that this is the case. Thoughts? I bet you have officially lost your appetite now. 

But in case you do get our appetite back soon or you do feel like maybe you need more fiber in your diet - the recipe for my kale caesar is below.  

Creamy Kale Caesar Salad with Cashew Croutons and Crispy Leeks. Recipe and photos via PureKitchen Blog

Creamy Kale Caesar Salad

Yields approx 2 dinner salads


  • 2 x cookie sheet or baking pan
  • Blender
  • Salad Bowl
  • Small Frying Pan



  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for an hour
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp capers
  • 1 Tbsp (vegan) worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice


  1. On a stovetop in a small frying pan add nutritional yeast. Heat on medium. Stir so that it doesn't burn. Get it nice and toasty and fragrant. 
  2. Blend nutritional yeast and all the rest of the ingredients up in a high speed blender until creamy and smooth. 
  3. Set aside. 



  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt 
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder


  1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.
  2. On a baking sheet add cashews, oil, sea salt and spices. Using your hands coat them well. 
  3. Bake for about 10-12 minutes until toasted. Set aside and let cool.  
  4. Leave oven on for the leeks. 



  • 2 cups chopped or thinly sliced leeks 
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt 
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp butter (vegan butter)
  • 1 clove garlic


  1. On a baking sheet add all of the ingredients. Using your hands coat them well. 
  2. Bake for about 10-12 minutes until browned toasted. 
  3. Keep checking on them so they don't burn. Toss them if they seem to be cooking unevenly. 
  4. Set aside and let cool.  



  • 2 cups kale (1 head will be fine), thinly sliced/chopped
  • 9 oz (about 5 cups) baby romaine lettuce, thinly/finely chopped


  1. De-stem the kale. Chop into super thin strips. 
  2. Thinly chop the romaine into pieces. Combine in a bowl with kale. 
  3. Top lettuce with dressing, croutons and crispy leeks. 
  4. Serve immediately. 
  5. Salt and pepper to taste if need be. 
Creamy Kale Caesar Salad with Cashew Croutons and Crispy Leeks. Recipe and photos via PureKitchen Blog

Recipe Inspiration From: Oh She Glows

Tahini Chickpea Brownies (grain-free & vegan)

Remember my last post about homemade tahini? As promised I created gluten-free vegan, healthy recipe for tahini brownies that you can make using your homemade tahini. These are really moist, rich and filling. There are 6 grams of protein in each serving and my kids loved them! Woohoo! 

Tahini Chickpea Brownies | High Protein Plant-based | Gluten-free Grain-free egg-free | Kid Approved #purekitchenblog

These are actually super fun and simple to make; have your kids help you next time you have a snow day or a holiday. Then devour them with little to no guilt. 

Each brownie consists of these ingredients:

chia seeds

garbanzo beans


sesame seeds

and natural sugar! 

That is a lot of healthy ingredients right there as opposed to the usual list of brownie ingredients: refined white sugar or brown sugar, wheat flour, eggs and milk. Ok, well, I guess some of us moms do in fact like the idea of eggs and milk as healthy ingredients for kids in general but let's be real - animal protein and milk are the things kids eat most of so changing it up with plant-based options every once in awhile is a fun idea. 

By the way this recipe took a bit of tweaking. It does come out pretty gooey, which I personally like, but if you want the brownies to be lighter and airier you might want to add some rice flour. I would say to add about 1/4 cup or more to this recipe for that consistency. But the way these turn out, as I have it now, is how I prefer my brownies

Protein Tahini Chickpea Brownies | GF Vegan Grain-Free Egg-Free | Kid Approved | Healthy Snacks

Tahini Chickpea Brownies

Yields approx 9 brownies

What You'll Need:

  • 8x8 in baking dish
  • Parchment or oil/grease for pan
  • Food processor
  • Rubber Spatula


  • ⅓ cup + Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • ½ can chickpeas (about 8 oz or half cup)
  • ¼ cup chickpea water inside the can
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup Tbsp baking cocoa powder
  • 1 ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¾ cup can sugar
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter (vegan butter preferably) or coconut oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Grease glass baking dish or cover in parchment. 
  3. To make the tahini you will have to do the following: In a food processor add the chia and sesame seeds. Keep blending them until they turn to a paste, scraping sides as needed. Add the water and blend again until smooth - about 1 minute. You will have to stop to scrape the sides with a rubber spatula a few times in between. 
  4. Set aside. 
  5. In the same food processor bowl blend up the garbanzo beans and garbanzo bean liquid. Blend until it turns to a smooth paste - no chunks - stopping to scrape sides as needed. 
  6. Warm up the butter or coconut oil in a microwave or in a pan on the stovetop. 
  7. Add the rest of the ingredients, blending each time you add a couple ingredients. Add the tahini and blend again. Add the butter and blend again. 
  8. Transfer to greased baking dish with a rubber spatula spread evenly. 
  9. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until sides are crunchy and extra brown. 
  10. Let cool before serving. 
Chickpea Tahini Brownies | Perfect Protein Treat for kids | Plant-Based Vegan | gluten-free grain-free

Easy Homemade Tahini

I love tahini and like any other nuts or seed butter, it's super easy to make at home. But I know, trust me, it's even easier to buy it already made (sigh!). 

Not only is homemade way cheaper but it's fresher (the oils haven't yet gone rancid) which means it's also healthier. In addition, knowing how to whip up your own at home can make life a lot easier when your recipe calls for it and you are all out! Just keep raw sesame seeds on hand at home in the pantry or freezer. 

Homemade Tahini Recipe | unhulled Sesame Seeds | nut-free sauce #vegan #purekitchenblog

The photos make the tahini look like almond butter, right? Well that's partially because I used unhulled sesame seeds. You can use hulled, which most store bought tahini is made from, but unhulled is easier to find and the taste/flavor is almost the same. 

homemade tahini recipe | nut free gluten-free dairy-free

The photos above demonstrate just how simple and easy it is to make a batch of it at home. And really all you need is one or two ingredients. And the most difficult part is literally toasting the seeds! And we all know at this point in our cooking careers that toasting nuts and seeds really isn't hard at all. Just alway remember: 350 Degrees F | 8 minutes. That's my usual nut-toasting quick go-to instructions. But these seeds took a tad longer. I cooked them for about 15 minutes instead of the usual 8-10. 

Sesame Seed Tahini | Homemade | Nut-free | Vegan | Simple & easy recipe

From there, just throw them into your good old food processor. If you don't already have one of these, please get one. I use this and my Vitamix every single day. At least one if not both of them. To lead a healthy plant-based (or whole foods) diet, you need good equipment. 

These items are so easy to clean, too, as long as you rinse them off or soak them directly after using them. It's when the sauce or ingredients sit in the bowl for a long time that makes them hard to clean. You don't even need a dishwasher. Much easier to clean than a frying pan. 

Now go ahead and bookmark this recipe - it will come in hand when you're in a pinch at home and need some tahini for a divine salad dressing or dipping sauce. 

Simple Homemade Tahini Recipe | Unhulled Sesame Seeds | Simple Easy | Basic Healthy | plant-based living

Easy Homemade Tahini Recipe

Yields approx 8oz or 1 cup


  • 2 cups raw unhulled or hulled sesame seeds
  • 1-2 Tbsp sesame oil (toasted or not)
  • sea salt, pinch


  1. Spread the raw seeds onto a cookie sheet. Bake them in the oven (aka toast) for 15 minutes at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2.  While they are cooling get out your food processor and the S blade. Add cooled, toasted seeds to the food processor mixing bowl. Add the sesame oil 1 Tbsp at a time. 
  3. Blend on high for about 1 minute. Scrape sides. Blend again until smooth, about one more minute. Add sea salt. Pulse a few times to mix up. 
  4. Store in a jar or other air tight container. This should last you a few months in the refrigerator. 
Sesame Seed Tahini Recipe | Homemade | Super healthy, easy & delicious #purekitchenblog #plantbaseddiet

Mint & Ginger Pesto Over Kelp Noodles

Oh my goodness, today is my second day back from Cabo, Mexico. It's raining here in San Diego and kind of cold. I am happy to be home safe and sound with kiddos. I did miss them. But I have to be honest I am kind of missing the sunshine, pool time, warm air, ocean views and the no kid vibe. I had four nights away. That's four more than I have had in almost 3 years. Whoa!

Mint & Ginger Pesto Over Kelp Noodles | #glutenfree #vegan #rawvegan @julinovotny

But as promised to you all on instagram, I spent my first work day back perfecting my pesto for the kelp noodle dish. It's a little sweet, kind of tangy, definitely garlicy, toasty from the almonds but also super duper fresh thanks to the mint.

Usually pesto is super savory and oily but this recipe is more asian in style. I prefer this style sauce when working with kelp noodles. 

Mint Ginger Pesto over Kelp Noodles | @julinovotny #purektichen
Mint Ginger Pesto over Kelp Noodles | raw vegan gluten free
Kelp Noodles with Mint Pesto | Pure Kitchen Blog | @julinovotny

I have been making kelp noodle recipes for years now. But just the other day, the brilliant Meredith Baird shared a really handy dandy trick: soak the kelp noodles first in baking soda. WHAAAA? Why didn't I know this? It helps the noodles to soften. Kind of the same way marinating kale in lemon and a dash of olive oil helps them soften and become more palatable. I love all these vegan (raw) cooking tricks. Thanks Meredith!

Kelp Noodle Recipe with Mint Pesto. Delicious. Super healthy. Detox Food. Raw Vegan. Gluten-free.
mint pesto with ginger and toasted almonds.

Mint Pesto is so good. Like completely different than basil or kale pesto. But so freakin' good. It's unique in it's flavor. You really have to try it at least once to see what I'm talking about. 

I made my pesto with garlic and ginger and a bit of raw honey too. I like it a touch sweet. 



serves 2-3

cook time 10-15 minutes max


For the pesto:

  • 3/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 3 Tbsp avocado oil (I used lime flavored but you don't have to)
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced or chopped
  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped & toasted
  • 3-4 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp fresh jalapeño, chopped (or less if you don't like spice, but use a little for flavor)
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

For the Noodle Salad (or other crunchy veggies):

  • 1/2 cup raw carrots, chopped or shaved or julienned
  • 1/2 cup raw corn kernels, cut straight from the cob
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 tsp avocado oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1, 12 oz package, kelp noodles
  • 1 tsp baking soda 


For the pesto:

  1. In a food processor add all of the ingredients. Note: You can use raw almonds or toasted. I like the toasty flavor so I toast my almonds first in the oven or toaster oven for about 8 minutes at 350 degrees F.
  2. Process the ingredients by pulsing for about 1 minute. 
  3. Scrape sides of the bowl. Set aside pesto. 

For the noodles + veggies:

  1. In a medium sized bowl mix the kelp noodles with juice of just half a lemon and the baking soda. This will soften the noodles. Using your hands you'll want to mix the noodles well until coated in lemon and baking soda. Set them aside while you prep the rest of the dish. Keep checking on them and mixing by hand so they continue to soften. When ready, you'll want to rinse them first. 
  2. After you are finished prepping the carrots and corn, add the avocado oil, sea salt, and juice of half a lemon. Toss until well coated. 
  3. Add this mixture to the noodles (don't forget to rinse them first and dry them). Top with the mint pesto. 
  4. Serve. Garnish with more mint and toasted almonds. 

The One Pancakes

I know the name of this recipe is a little weird sounding but I love calling these pancakes, One. Not because there is only one ingredient but because there is just one of every ingredient. 

My kids love these pancakes. We make them all the time. My eight year old is getting really good at cooking lately. He makes his siblings all kinds of cool breakfasts. 

The name of this recipe also cracks me up each time I see it because it reminds me of this silly song my son always sings: "I am the one the one the one" or something weird like that. It's actually annoying and he knows it. So now it makes me laugh. You might find no humor in that little side story but now you won't forget the name of this recipe, just watch. 

My mom used to make me similar pancakes growing up. We called them cottage cheese pancakes. You make them with cottage cheese and yogurt. They were so creamy and rich. My sister and I would crave them. 

Good news for you health foodies - this recipe is a super healthy version of the old one but not lack any flavor or creaminess. I couldn't believe it when I first tested this recipe. I felt like a kid again; it had been so long since I had them.

One Pancakes Recipe

yields 10 - 12 pancakes


  • 1 super ripe banana
  • 1 egg (egg substitute) 
  • 1 cup vegan (or regular) yogurt (I used Kite Hill pain)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup gluten-free pancake mix
  • 1 pinch sea salt


  1. In a blender combine the yogurt, egg, banana and milk. Blend until creamy and no chunks.
  2. Add the wet mixture to the dry pancake mix and whisk together by hand. 
  3. Cook on a griddle the same way you would cook any other pancakes. Grease pan with some oil or butter and press down the pancake mixture each time you flip. The batter will be thick. 
  4. Serve when the pancakes are cooked all the way through but not dry. 
  5. Top with fresh fruit and fresh maple syrup. 

Note: If you're making these for a family of 5 you will want to double the recipe. If you are only making them for a few kids, this recipe will do. My entire family eats 4-5 of these so we make a big batch. 

Enjoy! Have a lovely rest of the week. I am currently in Cabo. Visit me on Instagram to see the beautiful photos and videos of this really awesome place!