{Recipe} Nut-free lunchbox snacks: chilli and parsley crackers; oaty carob bites

The following recipes are suitable for a nut-free lunchbox.

Many of the lunchbox snacks that I prepare at home contain nuts, as my school-aged tiny vegans are not restricted from bringing nuts to school. However, 4 year old Tiny Vegan began attending a ‘nut-free’ pre-school earlier this year. Consequently, this has inspired me to experiment with nut-free lunchbox snacks.

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These tasty crackers consist of dried chilli flakes, fresh parsley, nutritional yeast, ground flaxseeds, tahini, oats and brown rice flour.

This recipe was inspired by a gluten-free cracker that I featured during Vegan MoFo. I decided to experiment with a nut-free cracker recipe that consists of pantry staples – like dried chilli flakes and tahini – and fresh herbs. I chose parsley as it grows so abundantly in our little herb garden.

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Ingredients

(Quantity – approximately 40 small crackers)

1 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (savoury yeast flakes)

1 Tbsp ground flaxseeds (golden or brown)

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 – 1/4 tsp chilli flakes

1 tightly packed tsp of finely chopped fresh parsley

1/4 tsp asofoetida (hing) or garlic powder

2 tsp tahini (sesame paste)

5 Tbsp water

Method

1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/160C fan-forced/350F. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Use a food processor or coffee grinder to grind the oats to a fine flour. Add the oats to a mixing bowl.

3. Add the remaining dry ingredients, including the fresh parsley and chilli flakes.

4. Add the tahini and water. Mix well with a spatula or fork, then use your hands to form the mixture into a ball of dough.

5. Sprinkle brown rice flour onto a wooden board or kitchen counter. Knead the dough for several minutes on the floured surface, then divide the dough it into about 6 segments*. Use a rolling pin to roll each segment, one at a time, to a thickness of about 3mm. Use a pizza cutter (or knife) to cut the dough into small crackers, roughly 4cm x 4cm.

6. Transfer the crackers to the baking tray. Prick each cracker with the prongs of a fork a couple of times. Bake for approximately 15 -18 minutes, or until the crackers are a light golden brown colour.

7. The crackers will harden as they cool. Once cooled, store in an air tight container.

*I divide the dough into segments as I find it easier to ‘manage’ (ie. roll and cut) a smaller quantity of dough.

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The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts

The tiny vegans are enthusiastic about spicy food, so I use the full 1/4 tsp in this recipe. If you – or your kids – are not keen on spicy crackers, use 1/8 tsp for a subtler ‘kick’.

The tiny vegans enjoy these crackers plain, or with dips like hummus.

***

oatbites1

This recipe is a nut-free version of a recipe that I developed for Vegan MoFo, Nutty Cinnamon Bites.

Ingredients

1 cup oats

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup raw carob powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup dates

1/2 cup sultanas or pitted prunes

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

coconut sugar and/or shredded coconut for coating

Method

1. Place all of the ingredients into a food processor in the order that they are listed.

2. Process the mixture for about 2 minutes, until it clumps together and forms a large ball on the blade. The mixture will stick together when pressed between your fingers and thumb.

3. To form into balls: Scoop out a heaped tablespoon of the mixture, and roll it between the palms of your hands until it forms a ball. Repeat with the remaining mixture. Roll the balls in shredded coconut and/or coconut sugar. Can be eaten immediately, or refrigerated for half an hour before serving. Store leftovers in the fridge.

4. To form into bars: Transfer the mixture from the food processor to a loaf tin lined with baking paper. Press the mixture into the tin with your fingers or a spatula. Smooth the top. Place in the freezer for a couple of hours. Remove from the freezer and cut into bars. The bars can be topped with raw cacao nibs or shredded coconut.

oatbars

The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts

This recipe is a popular lunchbox snack with the tiny vegans – in ball or bar form.

Every Monday, I feature a delicious vegan recipe that is enjoyed by my own family. I hope your family enjoys it too.

Ally 🙂

{Recipe} Almond-Goji-Cacao-Buckwheat Muesli

Yes, the name of this muesli (granola) is a mouthful!

But, it is a mouthful of deliciousness.

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This muesli consists of oats, whole almonds, sprouted buckwheat groats, dried goji berries, cacao nibs, coconut, and pumpkin seeds (pepitas). It is sweetened with maple syrup, and flavoured with cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg.

Serve after a light roasting in the oven or – for a raw version – after dehydration.

Buckwheat Groats

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Buckwheat groats (or buckwheat kernels) are available at ‘health food’ stores. Despite the name, buckwheat is wheat-free and gluten-free. It is not a grain. Buckwheat is derived from the seeds of a flowering plant, and is related to rhubarb.

I prefer to use sprouted buckwheat in this recipe, as sprouting enhances the nutritional value. For directions on how to sprout buckwheat, click here.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to sprout the buckwheat, an overnight soak is sufficient preparation. After soaking, ensure that you rinse and drain the groats adequately before using them in this recipe.

Cacao Nibs

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Cacao nibs are available in ‘health food’ shops, and some supermarkets. They have a very bitter taste, and are a good source of magnesium. In my opinion, they add ‘decadence’ to this muesli. Chocolate for breakfast!

Goji Berries

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Ah, goji berries.  Depending on who you talk to they are either a superfood or an over-hyped food! They are available in ‘health food’ shops, and supermarkets – usually in the ‘health food’ aisle. They add vibrant colour to this muesli blend.

Pumpkin Seeds

pepitas

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are a good source of iron, zinc, and magnesium. They add a delicious crunch to each spoonful.

***

Five years ago – for my birthday – Mat gifted me with a ticket to a weekend raw food preparation course in Brisbane. We traveled there with our two little ones, and I attended the course for two days while Mat and the kids explored Brisbane.

The recipe booklet distributed at the course contained many tasty and simple recipes, including a raw muesli.  The muesli recipe was my inspiration for Almond – Goji – Cacao – Buckwheat muesli. 

If you would like to make a raw version of this muesli, you could replace the rolled oats with oat groats; the maple syrup with agave syrup. Spread the muesli over the dehydrator trays and dehydrate on 115F/46C for about 24 hours (yes, for readers not familiar with raw food prep, 24 hours. That is not a misprint!).

Ingredients

Serves 5

1 cup sprouted (or soaked) buckwheat groats

1/2 cup dessicated coconut

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup raw almonds

3/4 cup rolled oats

4 Tbsp pure maple syrup

1 Tbsp cacao nibs

2 Tbsp dried goji berries

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Method

1.Pre-heat oven to 100C/212F.

2. To a large mixing bowl, add buckwheat, coconut, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and oats. Mix well.

3. Add the maple syrup, and mix well.

4. Spread the mixture evenly across a lined baking tray, and place in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

6. Return the mixture to the mixing bowl, and add the cacao nibs, goji berries, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well.

7. Serve with nut milk or other non-dairy milk. Top with fresh, seasonal fruit and a sprinkling of chia seeds.

Store leftovers in an airtight container.

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The tiny vegans’ verdict:

The tiny vegans love this muesli! My 9-year old daughter prefers to eat it without milk, as she feels that it is more flavoursome that way. My sons prefer to eat it with soy or rice milk. My 4-year old son recently ate 3 bowlfuls in a row!

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What is your favourite breakfast meal?

Ally

Each Monday, I feature a scrumptious vegan recipe that is enjoyed by my own family  – I hope your family enjoys it too.

Submitting to Healthy Vegan Fridays.

{Recipe} Banana Oat Bars

I am all ‘chocolated’ out! Yes, it is a bona fide condition (and word). Not one I ever thought I would suffer from but, nonetheless, that is the case.

I hope you have had an enjoyable Easter.

Today I am featuring a healthy, chocolate-free bar. One that is suitable for lunchboxes and picnics.

In fact, I baked it for a recent Vegan Parents Australia meet-up on the Gold Coast. The weather was glorious, and 7 families attended. The children were aged 4 months to 9 years. It was our largest Gold Coast meet-up to date. My kids had a ball!

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Banana Oat Bars are loaded with nutritious ingredients. The taste is reminiscent of a muesli bar. They do not contain oil, refined sugar, or liquid sweeteners. They are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, and nourishing oats. They are simple and quick to prepare.

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Yes, that is the entire ingredients list.

I made  a couple of small variations to the recipe.

The recipe requires a 1/2 cup of dates or raisins. Instead, I used 1/4 cup of chopped dried apricots and 1/4 cup of raisins. Rather than mash the bananas, as specified in the directions, I liquified them with an immersion blender.

Also, my bars were ready within 25 minutes (the recipe specifies a baking time of 30 mins).

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The recipe is available here (scroll down to ‘Yummy Banana Oat Bars’).

You could drizzle the bars with melted chocolate if you wanted to jazz them up. Might be nice.  😉

***

APT7

APT7

During our weekend trip to the Gold Coast, we drove north to Brisbane to visit the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). We took the kids to the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art  (APT7).

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APT7

It was a feast for the eyes, and ears.

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It was impossible to photograph my favourite piece of the exhibition, Fukushima Esperanto by Japanese artist Tadasu Takamine. It was a multi-media experience of light, music, voice, shadow, and disparate objects. Click here for a description of Fukushima Esperanto, and some photos.

APT1

APT7

There were 13 activities for children, many of them craft based. My kids were in craft heaven!

APT5

Have you seen any great exhibitions, concerts, or shows lately?

APT7

APT7

Each Monday, I feature a delicious vegan recipe that is enjoyed by my family. I hope your family enjoys it too.

Ally

{Recipe} Tamari-roasted Chickpeas | Nutty Veggie Burgers

My eldest children returned to school last week after 7 weeks of summer school holidays.

We spent the last week of the holidays at Burleigh Heads, on the Gold Coast. One highlight of the holiday was a ‘sky walk’ at North Tambourine in the Gold Coast hinterland.

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The walk commences on an elevated steel ‘bridge’, entering directly into the middle and upper canopy of the rainforest (photo, top left). It gradually descends to the rainforest floor, where we followed a designated track until we reached a creek (which was flowing fast after recent heavy rain; photo below).

creek

A highlight of the walk is a free-standing cantilever – 30 metres above the creek bed.

The cantilever sways from side to side as you walk out to the farthest reaches (hence why Mat is holding onto the railing in the photo above). This precarious swaying provides excitement for kids and adults!

After our skywalk adventure, we returned to Cardamon Pod Vegetarian for a late lunch of raw desserts and smoothies. The photos speak for themselves, but I have to tell you – the Tiramisu is amazing!

We spoke to the staff member who made the raw desserts. She told me that she uses coconut oil to ‘set’ the cheesecakes. She uses agave, dates and coconut sugar to sweeten the desserts.  The Tiramisu contains ground coffee beans.

I also ordered a Byron Chai smoothie but while I was distracted talking about raw desserts, Mousse Boy launched in and devoured most of it. I barely got a sip, let alone a photo! The desserts were served with fruit and coconut milk ice cream.

desserts1

***

I apologise for tantalising you with pictures of mango cheesecake and mousse. How can a veggie burger compete? Even if it is a Dreena Burton veggie burger! In fact, both of today’s featured recipes are delicious Dreena Burton creations.

Back to School

The end of the school holidays signals the return of a ubiquitous feature of daily school life – The Lunchbox. Oh, how I relished a 7 week break from preparing school lunches.

Today, I am highlighting two recipes that are suitable for lunchboxes – Tamari-roasted Chickpeas and Nutty Veggie Burgers.

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Tamari-roasted Chickpeas

These chickpeas are very moreish and scrumptious – I enjoy snacking on them. They are quick and simple to prepare, and delicious eaten by the handful or tossed into a salad.

You can use canned chickpeas, but I prefer to use dried chickpeas that I have soaked and cooked. The recipe is gluten-free and has an oil-free option (I omit the oil).

This scrumptious recipe is available  here.

***

veggie burgers1

Nutty Veggie Burgers

Gluten-free

Yields 5-6 large patties or 10 small patties

Recipe available here.

Amendments that I make when preparing these burgers:

  • I double the quantities of dried sage and dried thyme (I don’t use poultry seasoning).
  • I use salt-free tomato paste rather than tomato sauce (ketchup).
  • I use 1 cup of rolled oats.
  • I omit the garlic.

The Tiny Vegan’s Verdict

My daughter enjoys these burgers.  They can be eaten hot or cold. When I pack one in her lunch box, I include a small container of hummus. I pack the burger on a bed of baby spinach, accompanied by ‘vegie sticks’ – carrots, capsicum and cucumber (not photographed). Unfortunately, our Least Adventurous Eater isn’t keen on these burgers. He prefers marinated tofu. Little Baker likes them broken into small pieces. Easy and tasty finger food!

Mat raves about these veggie burgers. I agree, they are very tasty.

Occasionally, I double the recipe and freeze a batch of uncooked patties. Healthy fast food!

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Every Monday I post a delicious vegan recipe (or two!), that is enjoyed by (most of!) my own family  – I hope your family enjoys it too!

Ally

[edited on 20 August 2013, to provide link to nutty veggie burgers recipe.]

{Recipe} Raw Chocolate Tarts

A few years ago, a dear friend loaned me a book called Naked Chocolate. That’s all I needed to know.  Naked chocolate…. Naked. Chocolate…

A ‘special note’ on the back cover states:

‘The recipes in these pages allow you to find that perfect alchemical potion that causes all heaven to break loose’. 

I knew that tantalising, chocolaty delights awaited me. I actually still have the book! Sienna, if you are reading this, let me know if you want your book back. 🙂

The book, written by David Wolfe and Shazzie, basically pays homage to the wonders and magic of raw chocolate, otherwise known as cacao (pronounced ka-cow). It includes such delightful recipes as: chocolate pizza, chocolate cheezecake, chocolate banana bread, chocovanilla shake, mint and choc chip ice cream……chocolate, chocolate, chocolate….All of the recipes are raw, and all of them contain cacao.

In all honesty, it is enormously beneficial to have possession of a dehydrator if you want to experience the great heights of chocolate ecstacy that this book offers.

Shazzie and David clearly love and respect cacao. The introduction to the book announces:

‘There is nothing in the world like chocolate. It is luxurious, sensuous, delightful, passionate, inspirational, sexual and exciting to all senses’. 

Naked Chocolate discusses comprehensively the history, uses, and properties of chocolate, before launching into the sensuous recipes. The book comes with a warning:

‘Reading this book may cause you to have The Best Day Ever!’ 

Ah, their enthusiasm is infectious.

raw choc tarts

A recipe that has become a personal favourite is Chocolate Tarts.

The recipe requires a dehydrator. I am fortunate to have a dehydrator in my kitchen, so I use it whenever I make these tarts. However, I experimented with preparing the tart shells in a low oven, instead of a dehydrator, and I achieved a good result . I have included the oven option below, in case it appeals to you.

I varied the chocolate sauce by adding macadamia nuts, coconut water and vanilla. This tempers the bitterness of the cacao, without the need to add more sweetener. The shells are reminiscent of a chewy, apricot muesli bar.

These tarts are luxurious, delightful, and sexual…ah, I mean sensuous!

Sienna will definitely want the book back now.

CHOCOLATE TARTS

Recipe from: Naked Chocolate by David Wolfe and Shazzie

(quantity – a dozen)

You Will Need:

1 cup dry oat groats OR rolled oats*

1 cup raw almonds (do not soak)

1 tsp flax seed

15 dried apricots, soaked for 4-6 hours (whole dried apricots, not halves)

1 serving of dark chocolate sauce (recipe to follow)

12 almonds (for decoration)

tart collage 2

Method for tart shells:

1. Add the flax seed, almond and oats to a food processor, coffee grinder or high speed blender, and grind until a fine flour consistency is achieved.

2. Remove 2 tablespoons of the flour, and set aside to assist with rolling the dough (step 4).

3. In a food processor, process the flour while dropping the soaked apricots down the chute. As the apricots are processed, a dough-like consistency will form. If the mixture appears dry rather than doughy, add a tiny amount of the apricot soak water. Once a ball of dough has formed, turn off the food processor and remove the dough.

tart collage 3

4. Sprinkle a tablespoon of flour onto a wooden board, and place the dough on the board. Sprinkle the remaining flour on the ball of dough. Flatten and roll the dough with a rolling pin, until it is about 4mm thick.

5. Cut 12 circles with a cookie cutter.

6. Place a sheet of cling wrap over a tart (or shallow muffin) tray.

7. Place the circles of dough into the sections of the tray, moulding the pieces with your fingers (see photos below).

8. Set the dehydrator to 105-115 degrees F or 40-46 deg C.

tart collage4

9. Place the tart tray into the dehydrator for 2 hours. The tart shells will harden. Remove the shells from the tray and turn them upside down on a dehydrator  tray, and leave for one hour.

***

Oven option for tart shells:

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‘Oven-hardened’ shell

If you do not have access to a dehydrator, you can use a low oven heat to harden the shells. Once you have used the tart tray to mould the shells, remove the shells from the tray and place them on a baking tray.

In my pre-heated, fan-forced oven the shells harden in about 15 minutes. I set my oven for the lowest temp that is achievable on the dial (80 deg C), placing the shells cup side up for 10 minutes, then turning them upside down for 5 minutes.

***

Dark Chocolate Sauce

Adapted from: Naked Chocolate

You Will Need:

4 heaped tbsp of cacao powder 

4 tbsp liquid sweetener (eg. agave syrup, maple syrup,** etc. )

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

2 tsp coconut water OR water

2/3 cup raw macadamia nuts, soaked for 4-6 hours

Seeds of 1/2 a vanilla pod OR 1/4 tsp vanilla extract 

1-2 tsp additional liquid sweetener (optional) 

2 tsp additional coconut oil (optional)

Method for chocolate sauce:

1. Add all ingredients (except additional liquid sweetener and additional coconut oil) to a small food processor and blend until smooth. Alternatively, use an immersion (hand-held) blender.

2. Taste the sauce. If it requires more sweetener, add an additional 1-2 tsp of sweetener and blend until combined. If a smoother consistency is desired, add an additional 2 tsp of coconut oil, and blend again.

To assemble the tarts:

1. Scoop the chocolate sauce into the tart shells, and top each one with an almond. Serve.

2. Store leftovers in an air tight container.

3. Leftover chocolate sauce can be added to smoothies.

Notes:

* Use certified gluten-free oats if you want to ensure that the tarts are gluten-free.

** Maple syrup is not a raw product, but it works well in this recipe if you do not have agave syrup available.

final pic

What is your favourite raw dessert? Do you enjoy cacao? 

Every Monday I post a delicious vegan recipe – one that is enjoyed by my own family – I hope your family enjoys it too!

 

Ally

This recipe was submitted to Healthy Vegan Fridays. Check out the other delicious recipes.

 

{Recipe} Banana Oat Pancakes | Scrambled Tofu

What a difference a day makes! As I write, it is raining!

The extreme temperatures of the weekend have subsided – at least in my part of the country. It is a relief. However, high temps are expected later in the week.

I hope the rain is falling where it is so desperately needed.

***

Today I am posting two recipes that are ideal for a weekend breakfast.

Banana Oat Pancakes and Scrambled Tofu.

Take your pick. Sweet or savoury. Or both!

Banana Oat Pancake

Banana Oat Pancakes

From The Cancer Survivor’s Guide by Neal Barnard, MD and Jennifer Reilly, RD

Quantity: 10 pancakes

My children adore these pancakes, and they enjoy helping with the preparation. There is enough mixing and mashing to keep 3 children involved, with only a few minor scuffles over the wooden spoon! I don’t know what we will do when Little Baker wants in on the action!
My school aged kids also enjoy finding a mini pancake (or two) in their lunchboxes.

In the recipe, the walnuts are listed as ‘optional’. We always add them.

The recipe is available here.

[ Edited on 2 March 2013 Gluten-free version: We have made the recipe several times with rice flour in place of wheat flour, and they are delicious.]

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Serve with sliced banana and maple syrup, or berries and maple syrup.

***

Scrambled Tofu

Serves 3.

When I first embraced veganism many moons ago, I regularly indulged in scrambled tofu. It is a versatile, simple-to-prepare meal. It is flexible too. I would use whatever vegies were languishing in my fridge. For some reason, I stopped making it – for years.

Recently, I recalled the charms of scrambled tofu. The good news? My eldest son likes it! When he was 4, my son was very enthusiastic about helping me (and his dad) in the kitchen with food preparation. I used to call him Mini Chef.

Well, Mini Chef is back! He enthusiastically assisted me to prepare our scrambled tofu meal. He also endured his first cooking injury- a tiny burn on his finger. He was stoic. A burn wasn’t going to stop Mini Chef!

This meal is also suitable for a quick, simple dinner. You can ramp up the heat by adding more cayenne pepper, or some chilli flakes.

You will need:

250g firm tofu (approx. 9 oz)

1 tbsp spring onions, chopped (shallots)

1/2 cup grated carrot

1/4 cup red capsicum, diced (bell pepper)

2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes (oil free), chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp cumin seeds

1/8 tsp ginger

1/8 tsp salt

1 tsp nutritional yeast

1/2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

a dash of pepper

sunflower greens or sprouts

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Method

1. Break the tofu into pieces, and crumble between your fingertips. Set aside.

2. Heat a fry pan (skillet) and add a splash of olive oil or water.

3. Add the spring onions, and stir regularly. Add the minced garlic, and cook until fragrant.

4. Add all of the spices, including salt and pepper, and cook until fragrant, stirring regularly.

5. Add the crumbled tofu, and stir until it is coated in the spices and takes on a yellow colour (from the turmeric).

6. Add the nutritional yeast, and mix well. Pour in the soy sauce. Stir.

7. Add the vegetables, stir well, and cook for a few minutes. Sprinkle parsley over the top just prior to serving.

8. Serve immediately with toast, avocado slices and sunflower greens.

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I served the scrambled tofu with store-bought rice and chia bread (gluten-free).

***

Do you prefer a sweet or savoury breakfast? What is your favourite indulgent, weekend breakfast?

Each Monday, I feature a delicious vegan recipe (or two!) that is enjoyed (or outright adored!) by my family. I hope your family enjoys it too.

***

Do you like green smoothies? Do you want to establish a daily green smoothie habit? Check out my e-book giveaway here.

Ally

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