BODY

Over the last few years, I have come to realize the significance of my relationship with food, and food’s significance to me. For me, food is more meaningful than edible. In deciphering food’s system of meaning for myself, I have also been confronted with what feeds me well and what does not. Thus, I am also confronted – repeatedly – with: 1) the choice to eat foods that have a higher or lower value for me, and 2) the loving or judging intention that guides my food choices.

For the record, my body, mind and spirit highly value plant-based (i.e. vegetarian/vegan) cuisine. Nevertheless, my plant-based journey has taught me that there is no room at the table – nor in my belly – for me to judge other types of food or other people who eat said food. Suffice to say, I am plant-based, not plant-bonded.

Cooking

While eating is my favorite pastime, cooking is a different story. In fact, it’s a short story. Yet, my cooking efforts are expanding alongside my expansive self-love journey. The fact is that cooking is a form of self-love because my willingness to cook for myself demonstrates my capability of caring for (i.e. loving) myself as well. In essence, I’m feeding myself in more ways than one!

So, here are the general parameters for my style of cooking: 1) fresh onion and garlic, 2) vegetables and legumes (i.e. chickpeas!), 3) quinoa, and 4) the liberal redistribution of prepackaged items and leftovers. Additionally, I try to keep the amount of cookware that I use to a minimum because minimal cookware means minimal clean-up. Below are snaps of some of my delicious meals.

Fourteen (14) One-Pot/Pan Wonders

Snap 1: Broccoli-Chickpea Red Curry with Quinoa
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Snap 2: Kale-Fried Rice-Tofu Scramble with Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds
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Snap 3: Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds a.k.a. ‘Cheeze’ (available at Kroger and other stores)
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Snap 4: Kale-Kimchi-Chickpea Risotto with a Mission Gluten-Free/Vegan Spinach Tortilla
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Snap 6: Kale-Kimchi-Roasted Beets Stew
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Snap 7: Korean-Style Kimchi (available at Kroger and many stores)
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Snap 8: Broccoli-Purple Cabbage-Tofu Stir Fry
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Snap 9: Chickpea-Veggie-Quinoa Hash with JUST Egg
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Snap 10: JUST Egg, liquid (available at Kroger and other stores)
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Snap 11: Veggie-Lentil Spaghetti with Barilla Red Lentil Gluten-Free Spaghetti
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Snap 12: Barilla Red Lentil Gluten-Free Spaghetti (available at Publix and other stores)
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Snap 13: Kale-Scrambled JUST Egg-Chickpea Alfredo with Barilla Gluten-Free Rotini, Daiya Deluxe Cheeze Sauce and Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk
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Snap 14: Barilla Gluten-Free Rotini (available at Publix and other stores)
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Snap 15: Daiya Deluxe Cheeze Sauce and Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk (available at Publix and other stores)
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Snap 16: Kale-Chickpea Primavera with Primal Kitchen No Dairy Garlic Alfredo Sauce and Ronzoni Gluten-Free Spaghetti
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Snap 17: Primal Kitchen No Dairy Garlic Alfredo Sauce (available at Kroger and other stores)
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Snap 18: Ronzoni Gluten-Free Spaghetti (available at Kroger and other stores)
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Snap 19: Kale-Chickpea-Broccoli Spaghetti also with Ronzoni Gluten-Free Spaghetti
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Snap 20: Veggie-Quinoa Scramble with JUST Egg and Brooklyn Dehli Golden Coconut Curry Indian Simmer Sauce
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Snap 21: Brooklyn Dehli Golden Coconut Curry Indian Simmer Sauce (available at Publix and other stores)
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Snap 22: JUST Egg, frozen (available at Whole Foods and other stores)
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Snap 23: Broccoli-Tomato Fettuccine & Gardein Plant-Based Meatballs
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Snap 24: Gardein Plant-Based Meatballs (available at Kroger and other stores)
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Snap 25: Barilla Gluten-Free Fettuccine (available at Kroger and other stores)
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Snap 26: Southwestern Scramble with quinoa, Daiya Mexican Style Shreds and Marjon Tofu Crumbles (available at Publix and other stores)
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Snap 27: Marjon Tofu Crumbles (available at Publix)
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Snap 28: Chickpea-Veggie Yellow Curry featuring “the usual suspects”
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Snap 29: The usual suspects (left to right): Sky Valley Sriracha, Frontier Co-op Nutritional Yeast Flakes, JUST Egg and Brooklyn Dehli Golden Coconut Curry Indian Simmer Sauce (available at Kroger and other stores)

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In addition, I enjoy just about every type of cuisine that’s placed inside of a wrap.

Bonus(!): A Hearty Light Snack

Left: Kale.
Middle: Avocado, chickpeas, Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies, Del Monte Corn, chopped garlic and Daiya Cheeze Shreds.
Right: Mission Gluten-Free/Vegan Tortilla.

Bonus(!): Tofu Wraps

Snap 1: (clockwise) Daiya Cheeze, Nasoya Extra Firm Organic Tofu and Mission Gluten-Free/Vegan Tortillas (available at Kroger and other stores)
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Snap 2: Spice Islands Organic Garlic & Herb Seasoning (available at Costco and other stores)
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Snap 3: Sliced tofu, lightly fried and seasoned with garlic & herb mix
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Snap 4: Bragg Liquid Aminos (available at many stores)
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Snap 5: Kale and purple cabbage, sautéed with Bragg Liquid Aminos
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Snap 6: Tortilla, warmed
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Snap 7: Tofu wrap ingredients (clockwise): tortillas, my mom’s special sauce (on the side), Daiya Cheeze sprinkled on top of the tofu, kale and cabbage, and fresh avocado!

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In the words of Tabitha Brown, the tofu kebabs featured below “blessed my spirit!” I pray that they are as much of a blessing to you as they were to me and my mom.

Bonus(!): Tofu Kebabs

Snap 1: Chopped veggies include: Organic Portobello mushroom, organic red/yellow/orange bell peppers, onion, garlic, organic jalapeño pepper and organic cucumber
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Snap 2: Chopped steamed beets
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Snap 3: Assembly required, with marinated tofu
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Snap 4: More tofu, more assembly
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Snap 5: Kebabs are prepped, polished (with my mom’s marinade) and placed on parchment paper in an oven-safe pan
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Snap 6: Kebabs are marinated again (halfway through cooking time) and presented after cooking, with mom’s marinade standing by
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Snap 7: Plated with rice
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Snap 8: Eaten with joy!

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And then there are days when I don’t want anything fancy, just something deliciously simple. On those days, I seek the services of ‘Mr. Manwich.’

Bonus(!): Sloppy Joes

Snap 1: Manwich Sloppy Joe Sauce (available at Publix and other stores)
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Snap 2: Lightlife Plant-Based Ground (available at Publix and other stores)
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Snap 3: Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies (available at Publix and other stores)
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Snap 4: Brown the ground, then add the sauce, tomatoes, and chiles, and simmer
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Snap 5: Pour it on a bun, plate it with a salad, and put it in your mouth!

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More often than not, I do my best to use Instagram’s platform for aspiration as a source of genuine inspiration. This means that, sometimes, I allow Instagram to genuinely inspire me to cook.

Bonus(!): Instagram-inspired Vegan Stuffed Bell Peppers (@elavegan)

Snap 1: (left to right) JUST Egg, Organic Almond Butter, Marjon Tofu Crumbles, Onion, Garlic, Organic Red Bell Peppers, Cooked Brown Rice, Coconut Milk, Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Chiles, Bragg Liquid Aminos, Tabitha Brown Sunshine Seasoning, Organic Curry Powder, Smoked Paprika.
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Snap 2: Hollow out bell peppers and heat other ingredients in a skillet
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Snap 3: Stuff
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Snap 4: Bake at 375° F for approx 30 mins.
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Snap 5: Adorn with avocado and enjoy!

Bonus(!): Instagram-inspired Eggplant Snack (@micadeli_) and Sautéed Kale

Snap 1: The un/usual suspects (clockwise): Organic kale, organic eggplant, Seggiano Fresh Basil Pesto Genovese, garlic, onion, organic red bell pepper, organic, and Portobello mushrooms (available at Whole Foods and other stores)
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Snap 2: Slice and dice
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Snap 3: Grapeseed Oil (available at Whole Foods and other stores)
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Snap 4: Spice Islands Organic Garlic & Herb Seasoning (available at Costco and other stores)
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Snap 5: Creative assembly
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Snap 6: Bake at 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit until you smell the red bell pepper roasting
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Snap 7: Sautée kale and remainder of veggies
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Snap 8: Frontier Co-op Premium Nutritional Yeast (available at Whole Foods and other stores)
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Snap 9: Rest
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Snap 10: Plate
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Snap 11: Eat!

Bonus(!): Instagram (@maxlamanna) & Tabitha Brown-inspired Vegan Tuna Melt

Snap 1: (Left to right): Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread, Earth Balance vegan butter, onion, organic garlic, canned chickpeas, Frontier Co-op Premium Nutritional Yeast, celery, O’dang Egg-Free Mayo, Sky Valley Sriracha, and Daiya Mozzarella Shreds (available at Kroger, Publix, Whole Foods, Costco and other stores)
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Snap 2: Uncanned chickpeas
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Snap 3: Mashed chickpeas (with a fork…and the strength of 10 men)
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Snap 4: Chopped celery, onion, and garlic
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Snap 5: Lemon zest and juice
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Snap 6: Mt. Olive Sweet Relish (available at Kroger and other stores)
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Snap 7: Spice Islands Paprika (available at Kroger and other stores)
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Snap 8: Spice Islands Organic Garlic & Herb Seasoning (available at Costco and other stores)
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Snap 9: Heinz Organic Yellow Mustard (available at Publix and other stores)
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Snap 10: O’dang Egg-Free Mayo (available at Publix and other stores)
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Snap 11: Vegan tuna
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Snap 12: Bread and butter, featuring Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread and Earth Balance vegan butter (available at Kroger and other stores)
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Snap 13: Add vegan tuna and vegan cheese (available at Kroger and other stores)
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Snap 14: Fry on both sides until golden brown
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Snap 15: Cut your sandwich diagonally to make it last longer
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Snap 16: Enjoy!

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Truth be told, my mom has dreamed about me and her cooking together since before I was born. Slowly but surely, her dreams are being realized. However, for these Tabitha Brown-inspired vegan “angel” eggs, I realized that it was best for me to stand back and watch (and eat)!

Bonus(!): Tabitha Brown-inspired Vegan Angel Eggs

It’s amazing what can be done with chickpeas and pickled mushroom caps!

Sweets

I believe in balance, which, in terms of food, means that I like to balance my palate with savory and sweet. Here are some snaps of my go-to sweet treats.

Thirteen (13) Sweet Treats

Snap 1: Oatmeal (yep) with: organic rolled oats, organic apples, organic blueberries, organic cacao powder, matcha powder, organic ginger, organic turmeric, organic cinnamon, organic chia seeds, organic hemp seeds, organic flax seeds, organic almond butter, organic freshly squeezed orange juice, and hemp milk (available at Publix, Whole Foods and other stores)
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Snap 2: Ezekiel 4:9 Almond Cereal with: coconut milk, diced peaches, organic papaya chunks and organic cinnamon (available at Publix and other stores)
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Snap 3: Waffles with: almond butter, banana slices, blueberries, So Delicious strawberry coconut milk yogurt and Nate’s Raw Honey (available at Kroger and other stores)
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Snap 4: Organic Apple Slices and Almond Butter (available at many stores)
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Snap 5: Papaya (available at Publix and other stores)
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Snap 6: Watermelon (available at many stores)
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Snap 7: Broiled Orange and Red Bell Peppers (available at many stores)
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Snap 8: Banana Almond Butter Burrito (featured below)
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Snap 9: Indoor S’more (featured below)
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Snap 10: Spiced Apple Rice Pudding, topped with chopped walnuts (featured below)
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Snap 11: Peanut Butter and Jilly’s “30 Minute Vegan Blueberry Donuts” (featured below)
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Snap 12: FeastingonFruit.com’s “No-Bake Mini Blueberry ‘Cheesecakes’” (featured below)
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Snap 13: @healthygirlkitchen’s “Vegan Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Blondies” (featured below)

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By now, you know that I love wraps. But did you know that I love wraps so much that I eat them for dessert?! (Will wonders never cease?)

Banana Almond Butter Burrito

Snap 1: Left to right: Mission Gluten-Free/Vegan Tortillas, MaraNatha Raw Almond Butter, Kite Hill Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk Yogurt, Nate’s Raw Honey and an organic banana (available at Kroger, Whole Foods and other stores) Tip: Use half of a banana, then slice it length-wise.
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Snap 2: Wrap it
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Snap 3: Eat it!

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I was first introduced to s’mores as a Girl Scout. I was re-introduced to s’mores as a teacher who wanted to brighten the lives – and taste buds – of some deserving students. No campfire? No problem. S’mores can taste just as great at your kitchen table as they can in the great outdoors.

Featured: Indoor S’more

Snap 1: Publix Honey Graham Crackers (available at Publix and many other stores)
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Snap 2: Dandies Vegan Marshmallows (available on Amazon and at select stores)
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Snap 3: Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate, 72% Cacao (available at many stores)
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Snap 4: S’more before
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Snap 5: Microwave for approx. 10 seconds
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Snap 6: S’more after
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Snap 7: S’more satisfaction!

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At times, I can be a fairly inventive and resourceful cook. Much of the time, it is my taste buds rather than my cooking skills that guide my culinary curiosity. That means that, sometimes, I come up with some rather interesting and delectable ideas; my Spiced Apple Rice Pudding is one of those ideas.

Featured: Spiced Apple Rice Pudding

Snap 1: Happy pan with a little water
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Snap 2: Organic apples, diced (available at many stores)
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Snap 3: Santa Cruz Organic Ginger Juice (available at Kroger and other stores)
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Snap 4: Organic ginger (available at many stores)
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Snap 5: Organic cinnamon (available at many stores)
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Snap 6: Sugar (available at many stores)
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Snap 7: Leftover takeout basmati rice (available at many Indian restaurants)
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Snap 8: Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk (available at Costco and other stores)
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Snap 9: Simmer
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Snap 10: Garnish with chopped walnuts and enjoy!

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I love blueberries and I love gluten-free and vegan desserts that taste good. Thank you, Jillian of PeanutButterandJilly.com and Natalie of FeastingonFruit.com, for your baking and matchmaking skills by creating these recipes just for me–and a few others. (Click each link or subheading for the actual recipe.) The following are snaps of what you’ll need to make your gluten-free & vegan blueberry dessert dreams come true.

Featured: PeanutButterandJilly.com’s “30 Minute Vegan Blueberry Donuts

Snap 1: Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (available at many stores)
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Snap 2: Ripple Plant-Based Milk (available at many stores)
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Snap 3: Arm & Hammer Baking soda (available at many stores)
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Snap 4: SweetLeaf Stevia (available at many stores)
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Snap 5: Clabber Girl Baking powder (available at many stores)
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Snap 6: King Arthur Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour (available at many stores)
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Snap 7: Kroger Vanilla extract (available at Kroger and many stores)
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Snap 8: Organic blueberries (available at many stores and somewhat seen here)
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Snap 9: Donut pan (available on Amazon.com; my mom’s slippers are custom)
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Snap 10: Voila! (available in approx. 30 minutes)

Featured: FeastingonFruit.com’s “No-Bake Mini Blueberry ‘Cheesecakes'”

Snap 1: Quaker Quick Oats, Publix Pitted Dates (available at Publix and many stores) and a little water make up the base
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Snap 2: Blend or use a food processor
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Snap 3: Parchment paper makes the lifting process easier at the end
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Snap 4: Plant-based milk, blueberries, almond butter, vanilla extract and sweetener (available at many stores) make up the filling
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Snap 5: Pour and add more blueberries on top
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Snap 6: Freeze
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Snap 7: Thaw
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Snap 8: Admire then eat!

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Just in time for autumn (or whenever you’re in the mood for something scrumptious), @healthygirlkitchen offers a bona fide delight in the form of her Vegan Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Blondies. (Check out her Instagram page for the full recipe.)

Snap 1: (left to right) Clabber Girl Baking Powder, coconut milk, King Arthur Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour, Spice Islands Pumpkin Spice, Whole Foods Organic Almond Butter, McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract, Simple Truth Organic Chickpeas, Simple Truth Organic Pumpkin, Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips, Greenwise Maple Syrup (available at Kroger, Publix and other stores). *Not pictured: Arm & Hammer Baking Soda.
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Snap 2: Put the ingredients in a food processor or blender
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Snap 3: Purée
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Snap 4: Sprinkle chocolate chips like confectionery confetti
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Snap 5: Bake at 350° F for 35 mins.
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Snap 6: Let cool, then slice
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Snap 7: Observe
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Snap 8: Keep observing until you’re ready to eat!

Beverages

I drink water like my life depends on it–because it does. I drink herbal tea like it’s medicine–because it is. And sometimes, I drink fruit and vegetable juice mocktails to add a little effervescence to my life.

Snap 1: Water (at room temperature) and fresh lemon
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Snap 2: Traditional Medicinals’ organic roasted dandelion root, organic turmeric and organic hibiscus teas (available at many stores)
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Snap 3: Organic turmeric/ginger tea with: cinnamon, Ripple Plant-Based Milk, Nature Nate’s Raw Honey and Sicilia Lemon Juice (available at Publix and other stores)
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Snap 4: (Left to right) 100% cranberry juice, R.W. Knudsen Apple Cider, Q Spectacular Ginger Beer, and R.W. Knudsen Organic Beet Juice (available at many stores)
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Snaps 5 & 6: Kevita Sparkling Probiotic Drink Mojita (available at many stores)