Vegan Lentil Meatballs (grain-free, meat-free)

Hooray for meatballs without the meat. No soy, no gluten, no seitan; simply made from lentils and almonds. These lentil meatballs are a new favorite around here; perfect to add to our Magical no-cook tomato sauce

lentil meatballs. vegan. high protein. simple to make. delicious. kids approved. grain-free.

In addition to being high in protein these meatballs are full of fiber. Each meatball has about 5 grams of protein. That's 20 grams in the bowl shown above. Add that to a bowl of pasta and you got all kinds of healthy "good" carbs, vitamin C, micronutrients, fiber, essential enzymes and protein. No dairy or meat needed. 

meatless lentil meatballs. 5g protein per ball. vegan. dairy-free. grain free. soy free.

These meatballs are so easy, no need to sauté any onions or garlic and the only fat I used was vegan butter. I'm obsessed with Miyoco's European style cultured vegan butter. Have you tried it yet? Holy moly. And it's Free of cholesterol, lactose, egg, gluten and palm oil and made without GMOs. 

I just threw all the meatless meatball ingredients into a food processor and once it turned into a dough paste type of thing it was ready to cook up. So simple. And you can play around with your own spices and herbs.  

vegan meatless meatballs. lentil protein. 5 grams protein in each meatball. grain-free.
Meatless meatballs. Homemade lentil meatballs made with fresh ingredients. 5 grams of protein in each ball. Dairy-free. Grain-free. Soy free.

These meatballs taste light and airy but also hearty and spicy. They are drop-the-mic delicious. Simple, fresh and easy to whip up. Tip: try using the Trader Joes already cooked lentils to save you time! If you do that, you just made your life a whole lot easier and dinner prep time so much more tolerable. 

Vegan meatless lentil meatballs. Dairy-free. Grain-free. High protein. Soy-free.

Your kids will love them, too. Store them in an airtight container and throw them in your kids' lunch boxes along with some tomato dipping sauce or leftover pasta. Eat them on top of salads or inside a big collard green like a taco. They are versatile little meatballs. 

dairy-free, soy-free, grain-free meatless lentil meatballs. high protein. simple fresh ingredients.

Lentil Meatballs Recipe

Yields approx 12-14 balls

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
  2. In a food processor bowl add all of the ingredients. 
  3. Pulse and scrape the ingredients over and over until you have a smooth dough. Not too wet and pasty but more like a clumpy dough. I know when my dough is ready because the dough starts to ball up and roll around in the food processor as one large blob. 
  4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
  5. Remove dough by forming small balls using your hands. If it seems too wet (it shouldn't stick to your fingers) then add a touch more almond flour. Place balls onto the lined cookie sheet. 
  6. Before you bake them you'll first want to sauté / cook them in a large skillet using butter or olive oil. You will want to toss them to be sure they roll around and cook evenly. About 5 minutes or until they start to brown. 
  7. Place the balls back onto the parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake the meatballs for about 30 minutes. Keep checking on them. You want them cooked all the way through. 
  8. In the meantime prep your noodles and marinara or your salad. 
  9. Once thoroughly cooked, let them cook before serving. 
  10. Store leftovers in the freezer until ready to use. Bake them at 375 degrees F until they are warmed all the way through. 

note: recipe adapted from http://minimalistbaker.com/easy-lentil-meatballs/. 

Creamy Coconut Almond Butter Spread

As most of us plant-eaters would agree, toast is the on the weekly breakfast line up. Whether it's almond butter toast, avocado toast or unicorn toast (😛) we are always looking for something new to slather on it. This time it's homemade coconut almond butter spread and it's divine. Not only is this coconut butter rich, creamy and divine, it's also super healthy and super easy to whip up at home in your food processor.  

I had a fun conversation recently with the folks over at a local health food brand here in town. We were discussing whether using the term "vegan" hurts or helps a brand. It was a super interesting topic and of course I was a tad biased because I would for sure vote for HELPS! But I'm curious what you guys think, too. Vegan has a bad wrap because of the "hate" and judgement that is often associated with the people that follow it. But on the flip side I think anybody who is super passionate (myself included sometimes) about something can get lost in the frustration and/or excitement about it. The tendency to wonder why others don't see it the way you see it can be torture at times.  

I AM part of the vegan crowd because I follow such a diet for the most part but at the same time, I get it, I get that it's often not a "healthy" atmosphere and if you eat honey every so often you're like shamed for using the word vegan when talking about yourself. Or your carseats are leather, etc. It's all pretty confusing to me because as seriously as I take my diet (which is pretty seriously), I can't take anything that seriously only because there are so many things I care about and I have to find balance and also find sanity and peace. 

Vegan to me is a descriptive word I use to explain my daily diet which is plant-healthy and void of animal products. 

However, Plant-based is the new term people are using to disassociate with the "dogmatic vegan lifestyle". BTW - this is all just an explanation for those who don't understand it all or get confused sometimes at the difference - I'm not actually saying that I feel this way about the word vegan or vegans themselves; I'm merely trying to explain the culture and the politics around it.  

Anyways...although it's basically the same diet people usually affiliate with one or the other and not both. Vegans are more into the ideas that no animal is harmed in the process of making the food or product they are consuming. Meaning, jellybeans are vegan. Oreos are vegan! You get my drift. But whole foods plant-based diets are more about eating foods that come from the ground, do not come from packages and contain no dairy or meat.   

But aside from the stigma that comes with that word vegan, whether you know and like it or not, vegan diets are saving lives (literally) and being prescribed to many patients to not only lose weight but to reverse disease. A whole foods plant-based diet free of processed, overly cooked foods helped me rid my life of all kinds of health problems. I can't say enough about how great and healthy I feel daily. It's crazy how quickly you can change the inside of your body by making just a few (but very big) changes in your diet.  

Back to my original conversation here - often people who are new to the vegan diet want to easily grab products from shelves...right? They don't want to read a million labels. So the little V (stands for certified vegan) on the package helps a consumer know that there is no meat or dairy in the foods they are purchasing. Easy. Quick. Not complicated. No label reading necessary.

The complications arise when a product is super clean and uses plant-based ingredients that are free of dairy and meat but might use honey for example (which to me is so healthy) but can't use the famous V on their labels. Or when companies are afraid to hop on the V train because they think it will hurt their brand? This is where I'm curious what you guys all think. Do you think it hurts or helps?

I have a solution - maybe we need to create a plant-based certification. Is anybody even listening because this is a great idea here. 😜 

As a food manufacturer who packaged and sold my own goods to consumers, I do feel like the Vegan label was helpful because when it comes to cookies, for example, I believed they should be vegan. No need for eggs to sit on a shelf for six months and no need for white processed sugar either (when there are some great healthy alternatives out there). 

Now it's recipe time! Coconut butter is really simple to make. All you need is coconut chips, a food processor and some patience. Then voila - you have creamy coconut butter. Use it in smoothies, on toast, in recipes, for vegan frosting, etc. The possibilities are endless. 

Add some almond or cashew or even walnut butter to your coconut oil with a touch of raw honey or maple syrup and you have an amazing spread. Store is in an airtight container so it's easily accessible to your kids and husband or wife (partner). 

Creamy Coconut Almond Butter Spread Recipe

yields approx 12 ounces

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz organic coconut chips 
  • 1 1/2 cup raw almond butter
  • 1 heaping Tbsp raw honey
  • pinch sea salt (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a food processor add coconut chips. Let the food processor run for a good 3 minutes.
  2. Then using a spatula you'll want to scrape the sides of the bowl.
  3. Process again for another 3-5 minutes. Check the coconut and repeat first two steps if necessary. 
  4. Once your coconut chips become oil/butter, you'll want to add raw almond butter to the coconut oil. 
  5. Add the honey. 
  6. Mix the ingredients up until totally smooth and well combined. 
  7. Store in an airtight container for 3-4 weeks. Refrigerate for a longer shelf life. 

Note: The texture of the coconut almond butter spread mixture will become pretty hard after you refrigerate it for a day or so. That's ok. I suggest using it right away on your warm toast, that will melt it back to room temp and make it super easy to spread. 

Check out my quick tutorial video below - on how to make your own coconut butter at home (super simple recipe!). 

 

Enjoy!

Spicy Tamari Coconut Meat Jerky

Young coconuts are known for their wonderful, healthy, sweet, electrolyte water. We hear so much about the coconut water but what about the leftover "meat" (or flesh) inside there? You know, the creamy white stuff that sticks to the sides of the shell! 

Spicy Tamari Coconut Meat Jerky | plant-based meat & vegan meat

We buy so much of the water in cans and boxes these days that we almost forget that coconuts also have healthy meat inside full of good fats. I have made this recipe before but have spruced it up a bit today for you guys. 

Think beef jerky meets coconut bacon? That's kind of the idea. A little liquid smoke and some red chili peppers adds a peppy flair and the natural sweetness of the coconut rounds out the saltiness. 

It's actually the texture that I love the most. Because it's dehydrated the soft coconut meat becomes chewy and leathery after the water evaporates. 

Spicy Tamari Coconut Meat Jerky

Clean plant-based eating at its finest right here. Grab the coconut jerky as a healthy snack for those long baseball games or stick them in your child's lunchbox. I prefer to eat it as a pre or post workout snack; easy to grab and the healthy fats keep you feeling satiated. 

Add tons of fresh or dried herbs to the marinade before you cook the coconut meat for added natural flavors. I am excited to make tacos with this dehydrated coconut meat. Add some sour cream or guacamole with fresh cilantro, tomatoes and chives. Delish! 

Spicy Tamari Coconut Meat Jerky

If you don't remember how to open up the young coconuts at home then check out my old post from a few years back or you can always ask the grocery guys/gals to open the coconut for you before buying them. Make sure they cut the top big enough though to get a spoon in there or else you will have a difficult time getting the meat out. 

Or, you can buy the coconut meat already cut up in the freezer section at your local grocery store. Our local Gelson's market had it available - which made the job really easy for me this time around. 

Spicy Tamari Coconut Meat Jerky
Spicy Tamari Coconut Meat Jerky
Spicy Tamari Coconut Meat Jerky

Spicy Tamari Coconut Meat Jerky Recipe

Yields 2 dehydrator trays full or about 4 cups

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 fresh young coconuts, flesh only (or 2 frozen bags of 17 ounce bags of fresh coconut meat already cut up)
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs, chopped (i.e. mint, cilantro, basil, rosemary, dill, tarragon)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke (optional) you can also swap this for smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp olive oil or other oil
  • 1 Tbsp red chili flakes 

DIRECTIONS

  1. If you are using fresh coconuts, follow my instructions for opening them up at home. You will not be using the coconut water for this recipe, just the meat, but please drink or freeze the coconut water for smoothies, etc. (do not throw it away; it's so healthy and flavorful). Using a spoon, scoop/scrape the inside of the coconut (the thick white stuff) out with a spoon into long pieces. Scrape out as much meat out as you can. Discard the coconut shells. 
  2. Set all the coconut meat into a separate bowl as you scrape it. 
  3. In that same bowl (or in a large ziplock bag) add the rest of the ingredients and toss the coconut flesh well. Let sit in the marinade, tossing often, for about 30 minutes. Note: I prefer the baggie method for best marinating results. 
  4. Next, when ready, you'll want to spread the marinated coconut meat onto the teflex sheets of your dehydrator trays. Spread the coconut strips/pieces evenly (don't overlap too much). 
  5. Dehydrate at 115 degrees for at least 8 hours. When the coconut meat is ready it will be dry and it will shrink in size. The pieces shouldn't be "wet" anymore. 
Spicy Tamari Coconut Meat Jerky

Like this on Instagram and if you make the recipe and love it please leave me a comment with your thoughts! I'd love to hear from you! 

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 goes...in 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

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

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

DRESSING

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

DIRECTIONS

  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. 

CROUTONS

INGREDIENTS

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

DIRECTIONS

  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. 

"FRIED LEEKS"

INGREDIENTS

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

DIRECTIONS

  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.  

SALAD ARRANGEMENT

INGREDIENTS

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

DIRECTIONS

  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

almonds

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

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

DIRECTIONS

  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