Killer Vegan Black Beans

On a warm summer evening in Durango, Colorado, I sat beneath the pines on the deck at my beautiful friend Carrie’s home sipping handmade mojitos, hanging out with her family and excited to try the  vegan dishes she was preparing for dinner. Little did I know how GREAT of a cook she was until I tasted her  Killer Vegan Black Beans which accompanied grilled Portobello’s and red peppers, muy rico guacamole, and feisty chipotle salsa. My my were the tacos good!! Hands down the best meal I had in a LONG time. I polished off the tortillas then subbed in tortilla chips to scoop up the beans and veggies on my plate. The beans completely addictive (and she’s not even vegan).

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My Birthday Skydiving Adventure!

I didn’t take many photos but here is the drop zone. The landings are so precise, that you land between the flags.

I was born with an adventurous spirit and each year I honor it by flying somewhere fun and exotic for my birthday. However, with the Covid lockdowns around the world, flying was not possible!!! I pondered this and  thought, “Well, I CAN’T fly in an airplane for my birthday – but I CAN jump from one”….So, I went SKYDIVING. I love experiencing things (even though I am typically terrified) and it’s not everyday you get to jump out of an airplane at 13,000 feet. Plus….it’s one gift I won’t have to return (LOL).

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Amazing Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

amazing cupcakes

For the entire week of my husband’s birthday, he went “vegan”. I cooked a lot of delicious meals for him but went BIG for the grand finale! I opted to surprise him with these amazing vegan gluten-free chocolate cupcakes.  They were the perfect birthday treat. Not only did they taste heavenly, but they were beautiful to boot. Now, I usually bake “healthier treats” so even though these are gluten free they are FULL SUGAR… and I was pushed OUTSIDE MY COMFORT ZONE!! I quickly rationalized that it’s ok to splurge on birthdays which allowed me to fully enjoy each rich, chocolaty bite!!!

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Hiking Mammoth

Hiking MammothHiking Mammoth

Mammoth in California’s Sierra Mountains is best known as ski resort for California winters but it also has an abundance of summer activities like hiking, fishing, camping, mountain biking and horse back riding.  Until last summer, we hadn’t been to Mammoth in over ten years, but this year we’ve visited three times already. The beauty of the mountains is awe-inspiring but we keep discovering great restaurants, excellent beer and delicious coffee (with plant milk options).  Despite having car trouble (every time we go – ugghh), we’ve developed a fondness for Mammoth.

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Small Batch Flourless Vegan Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies (GF, Vegan)

vegan, gf, chocolate chip peanut butter cookie

I’m eating two of these small batch flourless (GF) vegan chocolate chip peanut butter cookies as I write this and appreciating how rich and chewy they are. It’s impossible to eat just one (trust me….I’ve tried).  My husband says the are decadent like a “brownie-cookie”. Sounds good no?

Unlike some vegan, GF cookies, which are crumbly or taste like cardboard, these delicious treats TASTE sinful but secretly use healthier ingredients like GF oats, unsweetened dried coconut, and peanut only – peanut butter while omitting oil, flour, eggs, and dairy altogether. They also avoid highly processed ingredients like soy lecithin, palm oil, etc.

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Highlights from a Road Trip to Durango, Colorado

durango silverton stream train

Due to the Covid pandemic, we had to cancel 2 major trips to Europe this summer. With limited international travel options, we opted for a road trip to Durango, Colorado.

Durango is a small mountain town nestled in the San Juan Mountains in the Southwest corner of Colorado. It attracts outdoor enthusiasts like bikers, hikers and skiers as well as retirees. It’s home to the iconic Durango/Silverton coal train and Fort Lewis college. You can hike in the mountains, walk along the Animas river or sip beer at craft breweries. Several parks and hikes were closed due to the Corona virus but there are still fun things to do.

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Vegan Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) with Orecchiette

My friend Ann is a terrific cook. She uses exciting, high quality ingredients and has a knack for putting flavors together. Years ago, she served Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) with Orecchiette, an Italian dish that blew me away. It’s been my favorite pasta dish ever since. Typically, I avoid pasta because most dishes are weighed down with heavy sauces. But this classic dish from Puglia, home of the vegetable lovers, is refreshingly light and healthy. It has a ton of nutritious Broccoli Rabe and adorable ear shaped pasta. If you are looking for a bright, healthy taste of Italy for your vegan and non-vegan friends, this is it!!

My husband is now the chef of this recipe and rather than use strict measurements, he eyes the proportions. This is where your chef di cucina can emerge.

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Everyday Powerhouse Steamed Greens Bowl with Tahini Dressing

steamed greens bowl

As the Covid Quarantine drags on (it’s now over 2 months), I feel like Bill Murry in Groundhog Day! My motivation to try new things is suffering so my kitchen routine doesn’t vary much. I go on autopilot and repeat  the same ol’ dishes with slight variations. However, this everyday powerhouse steamed greens bowl with tahini dressing is just as fresh and tasty as ever!  It’s ultra healthy (te quiero kale and broccoli) and served with an addictive tangy, umami dressing that makes it hard to resist (even if you don’t like broccoli). I crave this bowl so often that I sometimes have it for breakfast (shhhhh)…!

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Healthy Gluten-Free Seed Bread from The Bojon Gourmet

gluten-free seed bread

Yes it’s another bread recipe!!!  I just found out that my month-long trip to Portugal has been canceled which is such a bummer. I planned it almost a year ago and was looking forward to experiencing Fado music, lingering in wine bars, and trying every cute cafe in Lisbon. Plus, I’m feeling stir crazy with the extended Covid quarantine. So, it’s no surprise that I’m craving comfort foods like my favorite: toast and tomatoes. I’ve been trying different breads, but this healthy, grainy slightly sweetened seed bread could be my favorite so far. The recipe is the genus work of Alanna, a former pastry chef turned full time blogger of The Bojon Gourmet. If you haven’t ogled her site yet, stop now and click over.

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5 Exceptional Podcasts to Help you Through the Corona Virus Pandemic

It’s been over 3 weeks since the Covid-19 shelter in place restrictions were announced in California. Our routines were uprooted overnight as we face a new uncertainty. Many are anxious and scared.  Rather than focusing on fear we could use this time to go deeper. For example, meditate, keep a journal, stretch, read, cook, spend time with family and listen to podcasts.  I’m using these 5 exceptional podcasts to get through this time.

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