Sunday, February 21, 2016

Herbed Quinoa

It's the simple things in life.

1. Getting a new pair of jeans. (Thank you, Jessica Simpson! Seriously, these jeans are as soft as pajama bottoms and as stretchy as yoga pants. And I got them on sale for $10!)

2. Finding delicious plant-based milk. Silk Nutchello, you little devil you. I absolutely cannot live without nut milk, so finding different varieties is a beautiful surprise. I bought the toasted coconut and cashew and the dark chocolate and walnut. Talk about YUM. What I love most is that it's delicious with my Orgain protein powder or all on its own. Nom nom nom.

3. Growing out your nails. Man. It has been a SO HARD to not cut these bad boys. I usually trim my nails every few days, but I haven't cut them now for over a week and I'll tell ya, the STRUGGLE IS REAL.

4. And of course, one of the simplest things in life...eating a clean, simple dish. This Herbed Quinoa dish is just that. So easy, so straightforward, that a monkey could make it. (Well maybe not that simple. Ha.)

The hubby and I are all about quick meals during the week. Between work, travel, church callings, and sports, we are hardly ever home enough to cook a decent meal. So cooking up a big batch of this stuff--in a rice cooker to save on time--is essential. Don't get me wrong, we LOVE rice. Once I converted my husband to short-grain brown rice, he never looked back. But switching up the grain every once in a while is fun. Quinoa is my new obsession. I think I tried to order it for every meal when we were in Arizona last week. Haha. :) --- Oh, oh oh! And PLEASE, if you are ever in Glendale, Arizona--eat at the Rogue Tomato! (And order the quinoa dish, of course.) It literally opened the day before we ate there. It was super delicious. Click here for their Facebook page.

If you are feeling super awesome, sprinkle on some parmesan cheese. While I am not a big fan of cheese (stupid lactose/whey sensitivity), my body can digest parmesan okay. (Nobody likes gas, nobody.)

Herbed Quinoa

gluten-free, vegan option

serves: 4-6
time: 20 minutes


2 cups uncooked quinoa
4 cups liquid (chicken broth, vegetable broth, or salted water)
1/2 cup white onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups frozen peas, thawed in microwave and drained
+ 1/4 cup grated or powdered parmesan cheese (optional)

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve, if you are weird like that. :)
  2. Pour the quinoa and broth into the rice cooker.
  3. Stir in the onion, garlic, herbs, and pepper.
  4. Turn on your rice cooker and set it to "cook".
  5. Walk away. (Thank you, modern technology!)
  6. It should be finished in 15-20 minutes.
  7. Fluff the quinoa with a spoon and stir in the peas.
  8. Sprinkle with parmesan. 
  9. Thank me later.  ;-)

If you're curious, here is how it should look when preparing it in the rice cooker.

Basically, throw everything in the rice cooker bowl and get ready for a big bowl of...

...fluffy goodness!!

While my husband loves all animal protein...chicken, hamburger, pork, etc. I gag at the sight of it. While you could honestly eat this delicious dish all on its own, I would recommend some sort of protein-element added in. As for me, I am completely fine with drinking my favorite protein with my meal. :-)

Have a beautiful day!
<3  Sarah Lou

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Vegan Cookie Dough Fudge



If those aren't the best before-and-after shots you've ever seen, then I don't know what is.
(Insert some random fitness hashtag here ... #healthy, #fitness, #progress #girlswholift)   ;-)
And you are in luck, because these before-and-afters taste A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.
Like the best-things-you-will-eat-all-day amazing.
And a bonus: you will feel-healthy-before-and-after-eating-them amazing.
Okay, enough with the hyphens.

The first time I made this recipe was 4 years ago. At that time, I was newly engaged, living in an old creaky house full of girls, and really only cared about 3 things: running, making vegan dishes, and my fiance (now husband). Life was so simple: sleep, run, school, eat, repeat. It's funny how you can't wait to grow up and be a "real adult." You don't realize that life gets more complicated--more messy--the older you get. Your goals change. I will say, however, that my goal to keep eating as vegan as possible has not changed.

Just look at that ingredient list...
  • coconut oil, dates, bananas, almonds, and oats

Real ingredients people--for real!

It's as easy as 1-2-3.
There I go again with the hyphens.

Have I mentioned that I love this cookie dough fudge? Well, I do! Nom nom noms.

If you're a fan of cookie dough--you will love these bars!
If you like the texture of fudge--you will love these bars!
If you want to indulge while still feeling wholesome--you will love these bars!
Et cetera, et cetera...

Vegan Cookie Dough Fudge

vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free option

Makes: 12 bars


3 tablespoons coconut oil
3/4 cup Sucanat (substitute options: 1 cup honey OR 1 cup date puree)
2 tablespoons almond milk
1/2 cup mashed banana
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1 1/2 cups oats, ground into flour (use gluten-free oats)
1 cup raw whole almonds, ground into flour (or use 1 1/2 cups almond flour)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

  1. In a saucepan, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Stir in your sweetener of choice and the almond milk. Bring that to a small boil. Reduce the heat and stir until the sweetener is dissolved (or well mixed). This should take only a few minutes. Meanwhile, mash the banana.
  2. Turn off the heat. Stir in the mashed banana, vanilla, and salt. Set this aside.
  3. In a blender or food processor, blend the oats until a flour forms. Pour this into a large mixing bowl. Next, blend the almonds in the blender or food processor. After the almonds are ground, stir them into the oat flour. Add in the cinnamon.
  4. Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture. Stir well. At this point, the mixture should resemble...well...regular cookie dough. 
  5. Place the mixing bowl in the freezer for just 5-10 minutes, that way the chocolate chips don't melt when you stir them in later. 
  6. Remove the bowl from the freezer and stir in the chocolate chips. Try your best not to consume all the cookie dough before putting it in a pan. Trust me, you'll want to.
  7. Line an 8x8 square pan with parchment paper. Scoop the cookie dough into the pan. Smooth it out with the back of a spoon.
  8. Place the pan in the freezer for about an hour. After chilling, cut into bars. Store bars in a gallon Ziploc baggie. This fudge needs to be stored in the freezer to stay firm.

  • If using a wet sweetener (honey or pureed dates), you may want to add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more oat flour.
  • If your dates are dry, let them soak in a small bowl of water before pureeing them.
  • This is an updated recipe from an old post from 2012. (I still love it, even after 4 years!) 
  • I love this blogger with all my heart and I have her to thank for my cookie dough fudge obsession.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

White Christmas: White Chocolate Covered Pretzels

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the treetops glisten and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
With every Christmas card I write.
May your days be merry and bright,
And may all your Christmases be white.

I love the movie White Christmas with Bing Crosby. 
Bing Crosby + Danny Kaye = AMAZING
Bing Crosby + Danny Kaye + Rosemary Clooney + Vera-Ellen = AMAZINGLY MAGICAL

One time, my sister Leah and I sang the song "Sisters" from that same movie for a school talent show. As soon as the music came on, we sang our hearts out. After the song was over, I bowed for my "star" performance (haha), and realized that my mic wasn't on--it actually hadn't been turned on for the entire song. So while I could hear myself clearly, the crowd assumed my sister was singing a solo--as for me, I might as well have been dancing up there with the Teletubbies

Anywho...I try to block out that certain memory. I wouldn't wish that sort of shame on anyone. ;)

Here are some wonderful renditions of one of my favorite aforementioned songs: White Christmas...

*If you know any other great renditions, LET ME KNOW in the comments!

Let's get to the recipe...FINALLY!
Because who can say NO to anything dipped in white chocolate?! 
Anything and everything is better dipped in white chocolate--raisins, nuts, and pretzels (especially pretzels).

White Chocolate Covered Pretzels

gluten-free + dairy-free & vegan option


  • 1 (10 ounce) bag white chocolate chips (or white chocolate candy melts)*
  • 1 (14 ounce) bag Glutino gluten-free pretzels 
  • Nonpareils (or sprinkles)


  1. Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. Fill a small saucepan 1/3 of the way with water. Place a small metal bowl in the saucepan (should be a snug fit). If you have a double-boiler, that works as well. Turn your stovetop on high and wait for the water to boil.
  3. Once the water is boiling, turn down heat to medium-low. Pour in the white chocolate chips. Stir until melted. (If you are using just white chocolate chips, and not a combination of chips and candy melts, the chocolate may seize up. If this happens, simply add in a spoonful of shortening or coconut oil.)
  4. Once chocolate is completely melted and smooth, remove from heat. Leave the bowl in the saucepan. 
  5. Place the pan on a towel (on the counter) to do the next step. Add about 5 pretzels to the bowl. Cover the pretzels with chocolate. Using a fork, lift one pretzel out at a time, letting the excess chocolate drip off. Place each pretzel on the baking sheet. Sprinkle on nonpareils (or sprinkles). If you have a child (or husband) handy, have them sprinkle these on in-between batches!
  6. Repeat this process until all the chocolate has been used. (You will have extra pretzels left over). If the chocolate cools and hardens, simply reheat it on the stovetop. 
  7. Allow the pretzels to cool before storing. They will keep for several weeks in the freezer, fridge, or on your countertop--if they last that long! :)

*Dairy-free & Vegan Option

Follow the same recipe above. Replace the white chocolate chips with these dairy-free chips. You may need to add a tablespoon of coconut oil when/if the chocolate starts to seize.

While we eat mostly dairy-free at home, I did have these on hand. And they made for the perfect combination of white chocolate. Seriously, try half Coconut Candy Melts and half Ghirardelli White Chocolate chips.

What says "White Christmas" more than deer in your yard?
I love this time of year.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Homemade Blueberry Bliss Bars

I don't know what it is about husbands. Is it normal for them to hate vegetables and fruits?
Like SERIOUSLY, mine claims to be "allergic" to carrots and avocados.
I think he just pretends to be allergic to something when he is trying to avoid it.
Last weekend, he claimed to be allergic to horses when we were out with friends. Really, I think he was just scared of the horses. It was sorta cute. :)
But how can I get mad at that ADORABLE face?

ANYWAY, my point is...sometimes it's hard to please husbands. 
That's why when I made these bars, I was SHOCKED when he LOVED them. 

"These are SO good!" He told me, after taking a bite.

Take my husband's word for it...these bars are the SHIZ!

If you haven't tried a Luna Blueberry Bliss bar, you don't need to! Because these are just like them!
Except they have...
  • less sugar
  • less fat
  • fewer ingredients

Not only are these incredibly simple to make, but they store well in the freezer. I love storing protein-rich snacks in the freezer because...
  1. they last a long time
  2. they don't lose essential nutrients
  3. in the summer, they are the perfect cold treat!

Less talking and more FOOD!

Homemade Blueberry Bliss Bars

no bake, gluten-free, protein-rich, fiber-rich, [can be] vegan


4 cups Crispy Rice Cereal (gluten-free)
1/2 cup Rolled Oats (gluten-free)
2 Tbs. Ground Flaxseed (AKA Flaxseed Meal)
1/2 tsp. Salt

1/2 cup Honey
1/2 cup Almond Butter (creamy)
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 scoops Vanilla Protein Powder (I used Orgain, a plant-based protein)

1 cup Dried Blueberries 

1 Tbl. coconut oil
4 Tbl. Vanilla Protein Powder
+ almond milk (or water) until desired consistency

  1. Line a 9x9 baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cereal, oats, flax and salt. 
  3. In a small (microwave-safe) bowl, stir together the honey and almond butter. Microwave for 30-60 seconds, stirring halfway through. Remove from the microwave and add in vanilla extract. Slowly stir in the protein powder.
  4. Combine the honey mixture with the cereal mixture. Stir in the blueberries.
  5. Scoop mixture into the baking dish and flatten out with your hands (press hard to compress the bars).
  6. For the Icing:
    1. Mix together the coconut oil and protein powder in a small mug. Mixture should be pasty. Add water (or almond milk) one teaspoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency. 
    2. Drizzle with a fork over the bars.
  7. Pop the bars in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Cut bars into 9-12 squares.
  8. Store in Ziplock bags in the freezer.

Thank you Jessica at DWB for the inspiration!

Calories: 270
Fat: 10 g
Sugar: 21 g
Protein: 14 g
Fiber: 4 g

I adjusted this recipe so it was completely plant-based and I formed them into balls instead of bars. (See the recipe above for changes.) They turned out perfectly! The only thing I noticed was that I had to add a few drops of almond milk to the ball-mixture so they would form correctly. When you are forming the balls, simply wet your hands, grab a small handful of the ball-mixture, and squeeze the life out of each one. Haha. Instead of the 9-12 squares, you get 24 balls! Nutrition Facts adjustments are below.

Fat: 4 g
Sugar: 8 g
Protein: 4 g
Fiber: 1 g

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Churro Protein Balls

Do you see that cinnamon-sugary goodness?
Nom nom nom.

You want to know something crazy?
This is the first recipe for Churro Protein Balls EVER to exist!!
Like seriously, there is no such thing as "Churro Protein Balls" on the Internet!
So basically this post is MONUMENTAL.
Mind = blown.

When making these little babies, I used a vanilla protein powder from Quest Nutrition. I love this protein powder because it has a simple ingredient list, is low in sugar, low in calories, and high in protein (duh!). It tastes just like vanilla ice cream when mixed with water and ice. For real. Plus, it's amazing for baking [and for making Churro Protein Balls].   :)

After mixing the ingredients, it may look a bit like dog food, but DON'T WORRY! Everything will work perfectly in the end.

I promise, these are amazing.

Churro Protein Balls

gluten-free, low sugar, high protein


1 cup vanilla protein powder (Quest Nutrition)
1 cup gluten-free oat flour (grind oats in blender)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup creamy almond butter
1/2 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients, except for the white chocolate chips. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, add almond butter. If the almond butter is a bit dry/hard, microwave for about 30 seconds. Add the milk to the bowl. Stir these wet ingredients together until mixture is smooth and pourable. 
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Mix well. Add the white chocolate chips.
  4. Form this deliciousness into bite-sized balls (wetting your hands works well).
  5. Roll balls in Cinnamon Sugar Topping (see below).
  6. Store protein balls in a Ziploc bag in the freezer or fridge.
Makes about 18-20 protein balls.

Cinnamon Sugar Topping
2 tablespoons coconut or granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
*Stir sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.

Nutrition Information (per ball)
Protein: 5.5g       Sugar: 2g       Fat: 4.5g      Carbs: 5.8g      Calories: 86

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