Cheesy Baked Pasta (Dairy-Free)

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Baked pasta takes simple pasta to a much higher level. A little extra time to crisp in the oven allows for flavors to intensify and for a baked, crispy topping. In this cheesy baked pasta, the creamy sauce covered noodles bubble into this crisp topping as they meld together to create an amazing balance of creamy and crispy. This combination of baked crispness, creaminess, and cheesiness creates a pasta that tastes wonderful and is so satiating.

The topping of this cheesy baked pasta is made from chunks of bread coated in herb-infused olive oil. Digging into this crispy golden topping reveals noodles drenched in a creamy sauce that soaks into the olive oil coated breadcrumbs. But this pasta could actually be considered fairly nutritious, considering the secret sauce ingredient (buttery golden potatoes) is full of vitamins and minerals. It is also dairy free, thanks to this ingredient, and the noodles and breadcrumbs can be substituted for gluten free versions. It’s a great recipe for allergy-friendly comfort-food that is wonderfully cheesy, creamy, crispy, and satisfying. Thankfully, all you need are some simple ingredients to whip up a batch of this creamy, cheesy baked pasta.

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Cheesy Baked Pasta

2 cups boiled chopped potatoes (Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes were used in this recipe)
1/4 cup cooking water 
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. sea salt and a dash of black pepper
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Breadcrumb Topping:
2 slices of sourdough bread (or a GF version), crumbled into chunks
3 tbsp. herb infused olive oil (Regular olive oil works too)
Additional sea salt and black pepper to taste

Cook noodles of choice until el dente, about 12 minutes. Meanwhile, boil the chopped potatoes in another pot for about 15 minutes. Drain the noodles and add them to a small casserole dish. Once the potatoes have finished boiling, add them to a high-speed blender or food processor along with 1 cup of the hot water. Add in the seasonings and blend on high speed until smooth. Pour this sauce over the noodles and mix. Now to assemble the breadcrumb topping, add chunks of bread to a pan and coat in olive oil and Italian herbs. Top with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Next, bake the pasta and the breadcrumbs separately for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, then top the pasta with this topping and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until it has reached desired crispness.

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Golden Spiced Thai Noodles

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The vibrant flavors of Thai cooking create amazing dishes like these golden spiced Thai noodles, which are light yet surprisingly filling and satisfying. The flavors of lime juice, spicy peppers and curry taste amazing when balanced with the subtle sweet flavors of coconut milk and rice. The coconut milk also cools the spiciness to create a wonderful balance of spiciness and creaminess. 

This recipe for Golden Spiced Thai Noodles incorporates wonderfully fragrant Thai spices into a simple noodle dish. Fragrant, hot, and subtly sweet, the creamy coconut sauce soaks into the soft Jasmine rice noodles. This tasty sauce combines aromatic spices with sweet coconut cream and spicy peppers. To accentuate these flavors, fresh lime juice is splashed into the sauce to bring out the flavors and to add some zest. Overall, these golden spiced Thai noodles are light and fresh yet comforting and nourishing–a healthy and delicious main dish or side.

It’s also a simple recipe to make that contains just a few ingredients plus spices. Simply cook up some rice noodles (They cook so quickly!) while making the sauce. Creating the sauce involves heating up spices,ginger, and garlic, then cooling everything down with some coconut milk and fresh lime juice. Top with optional tomatoes and Thai basil for additional freshness and flavor. 

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Golden Spiced Thai Noodles

Golden Spiced Thai Noodles
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Ingredients
  1. 1 package or 8 oz. of rice noodles
  2. 1 tbsp. oil of choice
  3. 2 tbsp. vegetable broth
  4. 1 tbsp. minced ginger
  5. 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  6. 1/4 tsp. each of chili powder and cumin
  7. 1/2 tsp. favorite curry powder
  8. 1/4 tsp. paprika
  9. A pinch of sea salt and black pepper
  10. 2 tbsp. brown sugar or coconut sugar
  11. 1/2 cup coconut cream
  12. Optional fresh ingredients: Thai basil and chopped cherry tomatoes
Instructions
  1. Add rice noodles to boiling water for around four minutes. Let sit then assemble the sauce ingredients. Add the oil, vegetable broth, minced ginger and garlic, and the spices to a skillet or low pan and sauté for a few minutes until the spices are fragrant and the garlic becomes golden. Add in the coconut cream, brown sugar, and salt & pepper, while mixing over low heat just until warm. Drain the rice noodles, then add them to the sauce and toss until the noodles are evenly coated. Enjoy!
Simple Sweets & Treats http://simplesweetsandtreats.com/

Simple Holiday Desserts

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One of the best parts about the holiday season is baking. Baking warm and sweet desserts with family and friends is sure to welcome the holiday spirit.

Although, sometimes it is a challenge to find something simple to make that will also taste amazing. Intimidating mixer machines, rising yeast, creaming this, whipping that, and all the sifting of sugar and flour can make baking seem confusing.

This is why I put together some holiday dessert recipes that are simple and delicious. Plus, they are perfect for sharing with loved ones. Christmas sugar cookies, gingerbread men, chocolate mint brownies, and a sugar cookie shake are a few of these tasty yet simple recipes. And the best part is that they don’t require fancy mixers, whipped egg whites, or anything too time consuming or kitchen destroying—well not positive about the last part, as I always find a way to make a mess out of the simplest of recipes. :) But what matters is that these recipes are simple to bake and taste amazing.

Christmas Cookies and Holiday Desserts

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Italian Style Lentils

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During the hectic holiday season, it is super convenient to put a hearty soup on low to simmer so that you can work on something else while dinner cooks itself. Simmering also allows the flavors in the soup to slowly develop and soak into any and all beans, legumes, veggies, or grains being used; this creates a fragrant and savory tasting soup. Slow-cooked soups can be made in a slow cooker, pressure cooker, or even left on the stove over low heat. These meals require some prep, but leaving them to cook on their own makes up for any prep time.

This recipe for savory Italian style lentils is just that–quick prep, yet deep in flavor thanks to the long cooking time. The herb-infused lentils are also hearty and full of protein–a satisfying and warm winter meal after an icy day. Along with plenty of sautéed garlic, the lentils absorb flavors from the herbs and spices as they simmer until tender. Italian style lentils are delicious over noodles, rice, or even as a soup served with a side of crusty bread.

Besides being delicious and versatile in so many recipe, lentils are amazing for your health. Plus, they are an easy, delicious way to consume loads of protein and minerals. With 18 grams of protein in just one cup, they are a great source of plant-based protein. They also contain folate, iron, copper, phosphorous, pantothenic acid, potassium, and manganese as well as vitamins B1 and B6 just to name a few of the minerals and vitamins contributing to healthy function of the body. They are also a great source of fiber, making them excellent for digestion, stabilizing blood sugar, and balancing overall health. This high fiber content helps lower cholesterol while the high magnesium and folate content also contribute to enhancing heart health.
*A great link for learning more about the benefits of Lentils

Italian Style Lentils
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup dry lentils
  2. 4 cups water
  3. 1/2 onion, chopped
  4. 3 to 4 cloves of minced garlic
  5. 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  6. 1 red pepper, diced
  7. 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  8. 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  9. 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  10. 1 tsp. basil
  11. 1 tsp. parsley
  12. 1 tsp. oregano
  13. 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  14. 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Rinse lentils and add to a slow cooker or a medium-sized pot along with water. Add the additional prepared vegetables, then spices, and stir until combined. Cook on low for about 9 hours or on high for about 5 hours. Serve warm over pasta or rice, and garnish with additional herbs, salt & pepper. Enjoy!
  2. If using the stove-top cooking method, bring lentils and veggies to a boil, then allow lentils to simmer for about 45 minutes or until tender. When lentils are soft, add the spices and simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve warm and garnish with additional herbs, salt & pepper. Enjoy!
Simple Sweets & Treats http://simplesweetsandtreats.com/
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Pumpkin Curry

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The abundance of pumpkins and the crisp fall weather makes for the perfect time to start cooking warming dishes with heating spices and hearty ingredients like pumpkin curry. While we normally think of pumpkins as a decoration or an ingredient in pies, it’s easy to forget how delicious this seasonal ingredient is in savory recipes such as curry.

Small pumpkins are often used in Thai cuisine–they can be boiled, steamed, or baked. Pumpkin is such a versatile ingredient that is amazing in so many recipes. Surprisingly, it is actually very tasty in non-sweet/dessert recipes so it’s time to start incorporating them into your hearty soups and other savory meals. It tastes similar to sweet potatoes and butternut squash when steamed or baked. Add it to soups, stir-fries, and curries. Plus, it’s such a nourishing food that is both warming and satisfying. Some main health benefits of pumpkin are that it is full of fiber and nutrients that keep your heart, eyes, and skin healthy while also helping the immune system with protecting against seasonal viruses.

This pumpkin curry recipe might be messy, but it is soft, savory, and warm with flavors that are lightly spicy and fragrant from the rich and flavorful herbs and spices. Along with these delicious flavors, coconut milk adds a creamy and buttery element that cools down the spiciness. Soft curried pumpkin can be a delicious topping over rice or simply eaten as a soup. All you need to do to make this recipe is skin and chop a small pumpkin, remove the seeds and then steam/simmer it until soft and then add the other ingredients so that it can soak up the seasonal flavors.

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Pumpkin Curry
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups water
  2. 3 garlic cloves, minced
  3. 1/2 tbsp. fresh ginger or ginger paste
  4. 1 tsp. curry powder
  5. 1 tsp. turmeric
  6. 1 tsp. ground cumin
  7. 1/4 mild red chili pepper or 1/4 tsp chili powder
  8. 1/2 small pumpkin, skinned and chopped into cubes
  9. salt and pepper to taste
  10. 1/2 of 1 zucchini, chopped
  11. 1 diced yellow bell pepper
  12. 1 chopped tomato
  13. 3/4 cup coconut milk
Instructions
  1. Begin by cutting into the pumpkin into quarters, then peel the skin off of the pumpkin. Heat the water in a medium saucepan and add the garlic, ginger, and other spices to the hot water until fragrant. Add the diced pumpkin and chili pepper and steam while covered for about five minutes. Now add the zucchini, bell pepper, tomato, and coconut milk--let simmer for about 10 more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve over quinoa or rice.
Simple Sweets & Treats http://simplesweetsandtreats.com/

Garlic Smashed Potatoes & Baked Beans

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Baked potatoes have always been a trusted comfort food. When baked in the oven, their tender flesh is the perfect blank canvas to top with endless ingredient combinations. Going beyond the standard baked potato meal, these garlic smashed potatoes & baked beans are based on that idea–but this recipe uses miniature baked potatoes that are piled with flavorful, homemade baked beans and a golden garlic butter sauce that is ridiculously delicious. These tender potato bites are roasted until soft, and smashed with the golden garlic butter with a side of baked beans. Coated in this savory sauce with a hint of maple flavor, the glazed baked beans are the perfect complement to the savory garlic butter that coats the potatoes.
Everything is seasoned naturally without artificial flavorings, trans fats, or processed ingredients. It is a filling and satisfying meal, containing complex carbohydrates and protein. Plus, pretty much anything is amazing when drenched with this garlic butter. :)

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Garlic Smashed Potatoes with Baked Beans
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Ingredients
  1. 5 pounds of small potatoes
  2. Golden Garlic Butter Recipe: http://simplesweetsandtreats.com/golden-garlic-butter/
Baked Beans
  1. 2 cups canned pinto beans (or any bean that you would like to use)
  2. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  3. 2 cups water
  4. 3 tbsp. ketchup
  5. 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  6. 1 tsp. sea salt
  7. 1 tsp. garlic powder
  8. 1/4 tsp. mustard powder
  9. 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  10. 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  11. 1 tbsp. GF flour
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, then wash the potatoes. Line them on a baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes to an hour depending on the oven. Prepare the garlic butter, and set aside. Drain and rinse the beans and set aside, then add the water to a medium saucepan. Once boiling, add the rest of the ingredients (except for the beans and garlic) ending with the flour and whisk everything together until sauce thickens. Add the garlic and the beans to this sauce mixture and simmer on low, about five minutes. Once the potatoes have finished cooking, smash them with a fork and drizzle with the garlic butter, and top with the baked beans. Enjoy!
Simple Sweets & Treats http://simplesweetsandtreats.com/

Chickpea Curry with Basmati Rice

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This chickpea curry with basmati rice combines a sweet, spicy, and savory curry over fluffy basmati rice. It is a classic Indian-inspired dish with traditional spices and savory herbs that are absorbed by the steamed rice and garbanzo beans. The spices add a touch of heat, yet not too much. Creamy and healthy fats, along with lemon juice added at the end of cooking help to cool down the savory spice. Not only is this curry super delicious, but it is a complete meal with complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals such as zinc and magnesium.

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Healing spices provide an extra benefit to this nourishing and healthy curry. The spices in curry have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine as protection against inflammation and disease in the body. Turmeric, a well known ingredient in curry, contains curcumin: an anti-inflammatory compound that has been known to help prevent an array of diseases and conditions such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and several neurological conditions. When inflammation is in check, the body is able to keep on top of its natural processes. It’s amazing to think that for thousands of years, this spice has been used to treat numerous conditions and it is finally being rediscovered as the potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory healing spice that it is.

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Chickpea Curry with Basmati Rice
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Rice
  1. 2 cups dry Basmati rice
  2. 4 cups water
Curry
  1. 1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  2. 1 cup water
  3. 1 minced garlic clove
  4. 1/4 tsp. curry powder
  5. 1/4 tsp. cumin
  6. 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  7. 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  8. 1 tbsp. GF flour
  9. 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  10. Salt and pepper to taste
  11. 1/4 cup corn
  12. 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  13. 1/4 cup coconut cream (optional)
Instructions
  1. Rinse the rice and add to a pot with boiling water. Cook on low until fluffy. Meanwhile, add the water, spices, and garlic to a pot and sauté on low until fragrant and warm. Add the flour and brown sugar, and whisk. Then, add the chickpeas and corn, and let cook for a few minutes over low heat. Top with lemon juice, coconut cream, and salt & pepper to taste. Serve warm over the basmati rice. Enjoy!
Simple Sweets & Treats http://simplesweetsandtreats.com/
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Mint Chocolate Chip Shake (Dairy-Free)

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This mint chocolate chip shake is an amazing frozen dessert to combat the sweltering heat of summer. It’s icy cool and refreshing thanks to the chilled ice cream consistency. Plus, the fresh mint adds a cooling element from its medicinal cooling properties. Creamy and refreshing ingredients are combined with peppermint extract and delectable chocolate chips to create a wonderful mixture of icy and creamy as well as cooling and refreshing. It is so simple yet delicious, and it is made completely without dairy products or highly processed ingredients. It is an unconventional, simple mint chocolate chip shake that can be whipped up in a blender for a quick icy and minty treat.

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Mint Chocolate Chip Shake (Dairy-Free)
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Ingredients
  1. 4 cups nondairy milk such as coconut or almond (Almond milk was used for this recipe)
  2. 1 cup ice
  3. 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
  4. 1/4 cup dairy free chocolate chips
  5. Pinch of unrefined salt
  6. Optional fresh mint leaves
Instructions
  1. Start by freezing the nondairy milk in a bowl overnight or for at least 4 hours. Use a knife to slice down the edge of the frozen milk to lift it out of the bowl. Add to a blender and blend on low, scarping down the sides. Once it has reached a creamy consistency, add the peppermint extract, most of the chocolate chips, and optional fresh mint leaves then blend on low until everything has combined. Top with additional chocolate chips and mint. Enjoy!
Simple Sweets & Treats http://simplesweetsandtreats.com/

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Avocado Bagel Sandwich

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This avocado bagel sandwich is simple, yet it contains an exciting combination of flavors with a complex taste. This simplicity makes for an easy-to-make sandwich that is perfect for a quick lunch on the go. Buttery and satisfying, creamy avocado is mashed between your bagel of choice and topped with a variety of ingredients. This mashed avocado “cream cheese” recipe is crazily similar to a chive and garlic cream cheese. It is savory, creamy, and herby–the perfect base for topping with fresh ingredients.

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This avocado bagel sandwich can also be made gluten free by simply substituting the bagel for a gluten free version. Layer it with crispy lettuce, sweet, salty tomatoes, diced chives, herbs, and mustard or even spicy onions if you’d like—the toppings are completely up to you! There are so many possible ingredient combos to add on top of the essential  base of seasoned, creamy avocado and your bagel of choice. This recipe idea makes for a quick, nutrient-dense, and delicious sandwich!

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Avocado Bagel Sandwich
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Ingredients
  1. 1 regular or gluten free bagel
  2. 2 tbsp. spicy mustard
  3. 3 lettuce leaves
  4. 6 rings of sliced onion
  5. 1 sliced tomato
  6. optional pickles
  7. Avocado "cream cheese"
  8. 1 ripe avocado
  9. 1minced garlic clove
  10. 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  11. 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  12. 1/4 tsp. salt
  13. 1/4 tsp. pepper
  14. 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  15. Optional 1tsp. dried chives
Instructions
  1. Wash and slice the vegetables, then prepare the avocado "cream cheese" by scooping out and mashing the avocado with a fork until creamy. Add the rest of the avocado ingredients to the mashed avocado. Spread the avocado on a toasted and sliced bagel along with the mustard. Add the lettuce, sliced onion and tomato along with optional pickles. Enjoy!
Simple Sweets & Treats http://simplesweetsandtreats.com/
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Ginger Garlic Rice

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This Ginger Garlic Rice is savory and sweet with a slight spice. Similar to a sweet and sour sauce, the sauce is sweet and tangy from the citrus juice and deep maple flavor. The ginger and garlic add the perfect amount of heat to balance out these sweet, tangy, and salty flavors. This contrast of tastes creates such a delightful and vibrant sauce that is perfect as a dipping sauce or glazed over steamed veggies and fluffy jasmine rice. This ginger garlic rice bowl is super nutritious, simple to make, plus it tastes amazing—everything you could want in a veggie-rice bowl. It’s packed with healthy carbs, veggies, protein, and delicious healing herbs that add a warming touch to this satisfying bowl of goodness.

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Garlic Ginger Rice
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup dry white rice
  2. 2 cups boiling water
  3. 1 head of broccoli, rinsed and steamed
Sauce
  1. 1/4 tsp. salt
  2. 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  3. 1/4 tsp. minced ginger
  4. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  5. Sprinkle of black pepper
  6. 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  7. 1/4 tsp. chilli powder
  8. 1 tbsp. maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Add the rice to a pot of boiling water and cook for about 15 minutes, then cover with a lid for 10 minutes to let the rice absorb any excess moisture. Steam or boil the broccoli for around 10 minutes, then toss with the rice. Assemble the sauce ingredients in a small dish or cup and whisk everything together. Pour over the rice and broccoli and top with additional herbs. Enjoy!
Simple Sweets & Treats http://simplesweetsandtreats.com/