Roasted Pumpkin Soup

It is that cold time of year again where all I want to eat is soup. I love the warmth and comfort every bowl of soup has. It is like drinking a hug. With the long cold nights, this roasted pumpkin soup is sure to warm your tummy. Plus, it is dairy, egg, and gluten free. So, your warm tummy will also be a happy tummy.

Roasted pumpkins

Let’s get started by talking about pumpkins. I choose two smaller pumpkins. I used a Wee-Be-Little, and a Sweet Sugar Pie. I wanted the sweetness of the pumpkin to be accented in the soup without adding sugar. The benefit of using a Wee-Be-Little is because they are small, and perfect for roasting. They are meaty for their size, and really help drive the pumpkin flavor home in the soup.

You could use canned pumpkin, but you will loose out on most of that fresh flavor. I love roasting pumpkin, and keeping it in the freezer for the next time I need to add a burst of flavor to a soup, pasta sauce, or just wanting some good old fashioned pumpkin pie.

I am not going to lie, this soup is so easy. You can basically dump anything in your fridge, and it will add amazing flavor. If you are missing any of the ingredients, you can leave them out, and try them next time. I used carrots and apples in this recipe because I needed to use them up before they went bad. If you don’t have them, no worries. you will still have an amazing flavorful soup. You will need an immersion blender or just a regular stand blender for this recipe. Nothing beats the silky texture of a beautifully blended hearty soup.

Ingredients

  • 2 small 2-3 pound pumpkins (this will give about 5 cups)
  • 1 large white onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/2 inches of grated ginger (or 1 1/4 tsp dried ground ginger)
  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 2 hearty apples (I used granny smith)
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2 cans full fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • 1 tsp clove
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • salt and pepper
  1. 1/2 the pumpkins, and remove seeds (Save the seeds for later as a garnish, or amazing snack). With the varieties I used, the skin was so thick, I scooped the pumpkin out with no issues. Other varieties, you might have to peel before putting them in the oven. Place in a 450 degree oven until fork tender (it took about 45 minutes for my pumpkins to get there).
  2. Chop the onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno (remove ribs and seeds if you want a milder soup). Place in a large pot over medium heat. Cook for 5-10 minutes
  3. Add chopped carrots and apples. Allow the onions to finish cooking all the way through.
  4. Add veggie stock, coconut milk, and coconut cream. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. By this time, your pumpkins should be almost done roasting. Scoop out the flesh, and add to your simmering soup.
  6. Add clove, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, salt, and pepper.
  7. Blend soup until it is smooth and silky.
  8. Return to heat for 15-20 minutes.
  9. Garnish with pumpkin seeds (chopped fresh apple or pomegranate seeds would make an amazing garnish as well).

Serves 6-8

I love making large batches of soup. You can freeze leftovers. Or my favorite way is to make it into a pasta sauce for later in the week. Because this soup is thicker, you can add it to your favorite noodle, or ravioli. If you want a thicker sauce you can add some arrowroot powder. Start with a teaspoon, and go from there.

I hope you enjoy this soup as much as we do!

Love, Liv

Lemon Blueberry Muffin Tops

Guys. It is that wonderful time of the year when we get fresh blueberries. I love blueberries. Plus, I am sure as most of you know they are little bombs of health. So, you can justify eating the entire batch of muffin tops for the sake of health. Just kidding. Please don’t do that.

Homemaking

I made this recipe with Namaste gluten-free flour. This is one of the best gluten free flours I have used. It is a cup-for-cup switch, and it is comparable in price to other sprouted flours. My sister-in-law recommended the brand to me, and I would suggest it to anyone that is gluten intolerant or just looking to eat more gluten free items.

Glazed Muffin Tops

Let’s Get Baking!

Ingredients:

For Crumb Topping

  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Namaste Gluten Free Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegan Butter

For Muffin Tops:

  • 2 1/2 cup Namaste Gluten Free Flour
  • 1/4 cup Organic Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • Zest from one Lemon
  • 1/3 cup Applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups Non-Dairy Creamer-Original Flavor
  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/2 cup melted Coconut Oil
  • 2 cups Blueberries

For Glaze

  • 2 cups Organic Powdered Sugar
  • Juice from one Lemon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Coat muffin top pan with vegan butter or coconut oil. I used a mini muffin top pan.
  2. Mix crumb ingredients together in a small bowl. Using a fork or a pastry cutter will work best. Mix until the ingredients come together. Set aside for later.
  3. In a large bowl, combine together: flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest.
  4. In a small bowl combine, whisk together non-dairy creamer and apple cider vinegar. This makes a vegan buttermilk.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the vegan buttermilk, applesauce, coconut oil, and vanilla.
  6. Combine wet mixture with the dry ingredients. Stir just enough to combine all the ingredients. Fold in blueberries. Do not over mix the batter, or it will break in the oven. Be gentle with the blueberries because you want them to stay intact.
  7. Fill muffin top pan. Top each muffin top with some of the crumb topping previously made.
  8. Bake 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on them, the baking time will depend on your oven.
  9. While the muffin tops are baking, make your glaze. Whisk powdered sugar and lemon juice together.
  10. Remove the muffin tops from the oven, and let cool. Lightly drizzle each muffin top with the glaze.
Mixed Batter
Do not over mix, or the batter will break in the oven

I hope you all enjoy these just as much as I have!

Love, Liv

Composting in an Apartment

I have wanting to start composting for a while, but I live in an apartment. I always thought I wouldn’t have space, or it would be really difficult. Good news for everyone: I was wrong! Composting can be done anywhere, and is way easier than you think.

First off, composting is not just letting your food rot in a container. It does take some work. You can use worms to help break down your food, but I want to figure out what I am doing; otherwise, we might have a worm massacre on our hands.  Instead I used some news paper. Newspaper breaks down really easily, and gets the process going.

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I decided to use a standard 5 gallon bucket to start, I figured I can always go up in size. I normally cook for two people. So far, the 5 gallon bucket is a perfect size for the amount of compostable waste my husband and I produce. You will need to drill a bunch of holes all over the bucket and lid. You will want a lot of air flow through your compost bin. The more air flow the better. Air flow does not mean dry, I keep a spray bottle near my compost bucket. When I go and mix the compost, I give it a spritz if the compost is looking dry. Healthy compost should always be slightly damp.

I keep my compost bin out side under our porch. Do not keep your bin in direct sunlight. Whenever I am cooking, I grab the bin, bring it in the house, and put all my kitchen scraps in. I keep a brick on the top to help keep pests out of the bin. Get a bin that has an easy lid to remove. You will want to mix your compost every day.

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I started my compost with a few vegetable scraps that had seen better days.  You can cut the scraps down to a smaller size to make the compost process faster. Kitchen scraps are great to start composting; they will give the end result a hearty mix of carbon and nitrogen. Which is what helps makes a healthy soil. Egg shells are quick to break down, and get the composting process started. Since I am vegan, I don’t have egg shells. That is where the news paper comes in. It works very similar to the egg shells, and it breaks down quickly.

Here are a few ideas to start your compost:

  • Vegetable scraps/peels
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea
  • Dried leaves and twigs
  • Grass clippings
  • Untreated wood scraps/sawdust

Let’s talk about things not to compost:

  • Poop-just don’t do it. Poop, especially from critters, can contain organisms caring diseases, and can be transferred to whatever you use your compost on.
  • Dairy products: although they break down, when the bacteria in dairy spoils it can become toxic, and make people very sick. Because the bacteria is not being denatured, it will become toxic. Assuming you will want to use your compost in a garden, or around plants you will eat, just be safe and keep dairy out of your compost.
  • Meat, fat, bone, animal products: composting can actually preserve animal products, and attract critters to your compost.
  • Glossy paper: unlike news paper, glossy paper does not break down, and will remain in your compost.
  • Plants treated with pesticides: the pesticides will not break down, and will transfer to your compost.
  • Metal, tin, plastic: Things that are not biodegradable

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Happy Composting!

 

Love, Liv

Grow Your Own Kombucha

Kombucha. What is it? Can you grow it at home? Let’s find out!

First off, let’s talk about kombucha. You have probably have seen it in a grocery or heath food store. Kombucha is a probiotic that you can drink. Probiotics help replace the healthy bacteria in your intestines. Scoby gives kombucha the healthy probiotic power. For anyone who doesn’t know: scoby is the big snot looking thing that hangs out in the kombucha. Scoby is an acronym that stands for: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. Basically, scoby feeds on sugar to turn tea into kombucha. (Because Kombucha is fermented, which means there is trace amounts of alcohol in the drink).

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Yes. You can make it at home. It is under $4.00 for your starter batch, and under $1.00 for any following batches.You will need a few things before you begin:

I use a 1 gallon glass jar to start my kombucha. You can find one here. Because your scoby is developing in this batch, it will not produce a large batch for a few months. You will eventually need a 2 gallon glass jar. You always need to keep kombucha in a glass jar. Once you have processed your first batch, you will need glass containers to hold the freshly processed kombucha. (Old wine bottles or coffee syrup containers work really well for this). Or you can get these nifty storage jars here.

Few disclaimers here: I use regular, organic black tea, which has caffeine. Thus, there will be trace amounts of caffeine in the processed kombucha. If you need a caffeine free option, purchase a caffeine free tea. Also, as we discussed, kombucha is fermented. So, where will trace amounts of alcohol in the processed komucha. And by trace, I mean .05% on average.

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You can either purchase a scoby online, or you can grow your own from a store bought kombucha. You can purchase any brand of kombucha, you will want original flavor. Look and find the bottle with the most amount of scoby you can find. But make sure it is ORIGINAL flavor.

You will want the original flavor because flavoring changes the scoby. If you want to add a flavor to your kombucha-NEVER ADD IT TO THE BATCH. You always add it after processing. Process your scoby, and add organic juice to your storage container. Let the kombucha process on your counter for 2-3 more days, then move it to the fridge.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Original flavor kombucha
  • All the chunks out of the kombucha-if the store bought kombucha doesn’t have a lot of chunks do not panic, it will grow just fine.
  • 6 bags black tea
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 8 cups of water

First, you are working with a living organism here. Even if you think everything you are working with is clean- clean it again. Trust me. I normally clean all my pots, measuring cups, and utensils; then give everything a rinse with vinegar. This just helps make sure there is no soap scum or other residue left on the utensil. For maximum sanitation, leave everything air dry. If your scoby grows mold, you will be able to wipe it off. Your scoby will naturally have white spots come and go on the surface. If there is mold, you can wipe it off the surface.

If you ever question if your scoby has died or grown something funky, just throw it out and start over. A healthy scoby really does what ever it wants. Sometimes it hangs out on top, sometimes it hangs out at the bottom, sometimes it hangs out in the middle. There will be chunks on the bottom. Just let your kombucha do its own thing.

It is really simple to make your own:

  1. Clean Everything and rinse with vinegar
  2. Reserve 1 cup of your original flavor kombucha. Try to get as many chunks as you can. I strained my kombucha over a bowl. Reserved the chunks, and then reserved the cup. If you don’t have a ton of scoby bits-don’t worry, it will grow just fine.
  3. Boil water
  4. Add sugar
  5. Add tea bags
  6. Stir to combine
  7. Let water cool to room temperature. Make sure it is room temperature. If your tea is too hot, it will kill the scoby.
  8. Add your sugar/tea mixture to your glass jar.
  9. Add the cup of kombucha and chunks
  10. Let sit 4-6 weeks until your scoby grows

Store out of direct sunlight. Cover with a coffee filter. The kombucha needs to breathe, but keep the bugs out. A cheese cloth is not tight enough to keeps bugs out, and certain cloths are too tight that don’t allow the kombucha to breathe.  Secure the coffee filter to the jar. Jar rings, hair ties, rubber bands, all work great. The room temperature should stay between 62-75 degrees (Fahrenheit).

Normally, kombucha only takes 2-3 weeks to fully develop; so, this will be a really strong batch. If it is too strong, you can add some essential oils, and make a cleaner. You can find my favorite recipe here. It works as a vinegar substitute.

Move your processed kombucha to the fridge. This stops the fermentation process, and keeps the bacteria cultures alive and healthy. To make another batch, remove scoby and reserve 2 cups of fermented kombucha. Repeat steps 1-7. Let it ferment for 2-3 weeks.

Best of Luck, and let me know how yours turns out!

Love, Liv

Crock-Pot Chili

Guys, I love chili. Maybe a little too much. It is warming to the soul. And when you live in Wisconsin, you can eat it year round because winter never ends here. We are in the middle of a blizzard here in Wisconsin. Yes, you read that right. Blizzard in the middle of April.

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I love this Chili because you can set it, and forget it. Plus, it makes a large batch. So, you can freeze the left overs for an easy meal another night.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 hours
  • Total Time: 5 hours and 10 minutes
  • Serves: 8-10

Ingredients

I used all 15 ounce cans for the beans

  • 2 cans kidney beans
  • 1 can navy beans
  • 1 can great northern beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • 1 can red beans
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 28 oz. water or vegetable broth
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 10 oz. bag organic frozen corn
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 large jalapeno diced
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 3 tbsp. organic chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 3 Bay leaves (REMOVE LATER)
  • 1 tsp. cumin

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This is my favorite part:

  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Cook on high for 5 hours (low 9 hours)

So. SIMPLE. I love recipes that you can just set and go. You can serve the chili over some quinoa or noodles. I love to top with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Or you can add your favorite hamburger alternative too keep the meat lover in your life satisfied.

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ENJOY!

Love, Liv

Bronzer

This bronzer is really easy to make- it only take FOUR steps.  Plus, it is a great alternative to the bronzer in your makeup drawer. To top it all off, this bronzer can actually restore your skin while you wear it! Win, win, and win!

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I love arrowroot powder. It sticks to grease, and absorbs it through out the day.  So, if you are like me, and have extra oil on your face-this bronzer can help absorb some of the extra oil throughout your busy day. You can focus on being awesome, and never worry about how your contour is holding up. I also use arrowroot powder in my dry shampoo recipe found here.

One of the great parts of this recipe is how you can change it to the color you want. If you want a lighter, more subtle bronzer, add more cinnamon. If you like a richer, more robust bronzer, add more nutmeg.

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. Arrowroot Powder
  • 2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/3 c. Cocoa powder
  • 5-6 drops Frankincense
  • 6-7 drops Lavender
  1. Combine arrowroot, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cocoa powder. 20180319_195556.jpg
  2. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Add essential oils.
  4. Mix.
  5. Store in a glass container for up to 2 months.

 

By using frankincense in this recipe,  it restores your skin, and helps to repair any scaring. I have some acne scaring (they are the worst). I love how this bronzer is working to repair those scars while I am at work, running errands, and just living life.  The lavender helps to sooth any blemish or imperfection.

 

This bronzer restores and repairs your skin while your contour is on fleek. WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE?! It is a game changer.

 

Let me know how if works for you!

 

Love, Liv

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn’t love warm chocolate chip cookies? They are the best. I love eating the raw cookie dough just as much as the warm cookies. Nothing is better. This recipe is really easy to make, and taste amazing.

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  • Prep Time: 15 Minutes
  • Rest Time: 30 Minutes
  • Cook time: 12 Minutes
  • Makes 1 dozen cookies

Let’s talk egg alternatives. For this recipe, I use equal parts coconut oil and apple sauce. I have made this recipe more times than I would like to admit. It is a good thing my husband has a sweet tooth, and loves cookies.

I found that using only coconut oil makes the cookies greasy, and they dry out faster. Using only apple sauce makes the cookies too fluffy, and not chewy enough to be a cookie. By using equal parts, you get the perfect cookie. They are chewy, but don’t dry out because the applesauce keeps them moist.

If you want a chewier cookie, use 1/3 c. coconut oil and 1/4 c. apple sauce. If you want a fluffier cookie, use 1/3 c. apple sauce and 1/4 c. coconut oil.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. organic cane sugar
  • 3/4 c. packed organic brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 c. non-dairy milk (my favorite is almond for this recipe)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c. unbleached organic flour (or gluten free alternative)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 c. vegan semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. vegan dark chocolate chips

 

  1. Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift four and baking soda together in a mixing bowl.
  3. Combine sugar, brown sugar, and salt.Dry Ingredients
  4. Add melted coconut oil, applesauce, non-dairy milk, and vanilla extract. Mix. (BONUS: add 1/2 c. peanut butter for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. You can use a natural peanut butter, or make your own. Recipe here.)
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 20180319_194332.jpg
  7. Form into golf ball size cookies
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  9. ENJOY!

cookies

If you are looking for an easy vegan recipe to try, look no further. They are perfect for parties, potlucks, bake sales, Sunday afternoons, the possibilities are endless.

Let me know how your cookies turn out!

Love, Liv

Date Protein Balls

I love snacks. I am constantly snacking, and I need snacks that fill me up. These date protein balls are sure to satisfy. This recipe is full of protein-without sugar, grain, or dairy. They are great for a pre-workout snack. Or just a filling afternoon snack. Plus, it only takes 3 ingredients to make!

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  • Prep time: 10 Minutes
  • Makes 15-20 quarter size balls

Ingredients

  • 1 c. chopped dried dates
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter (or almond butter for whole30)
  • 1/2 c. chopped roasted almonds

Medjool dates are my favorite dates to use. They basically become caramel when you put them in the food processor.  Make sure you remove the pits! Find a natural peanut butter that has no extra sugar added -OR- you can make your own! (recipe here).

Directions

  • Roast almonds
  • Remove pits and chop dates
  • Add peanut butter

Dates and Peanut Butter

  • Combine. I used a food processor. It makes it easy, with no mess.
  • Roll in Chopped almonds

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You can use a food processor to chop the almonds. I rough chopped them. The variation of sizes helped to coat the date and peanut butter mixture to make it less sticky.

Keep them in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. They are so good, you will probably have them all eaten before then.

 

Enjoy!

Love, Liv

Dry Shampoo

If you are at all like me, you love a great dry shampoo. I love to skip showers; it is healthier for hair and skin, plus, it helps the environment (also,. When I started thinking about it, I had NO idea what was in my beloved dry shampoo. After researching ingredients in dry shampoo, I found the disheartening truth.

Dry shampoo is made to absorb grease, and there are a few ingredients that do this. Such as: cornstarch, alcohol, butane, scariest of all… Some dry shampoos contain liquefied petroleum gas. WHAT?! So, if you don’t want to spray gas in your hair, here is a great alternative to make at home. You can pronounce all of the ingredients, and it is under $2.00 to make!

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Dry Shampoo- Dark Hair:

  • 4 TBSP Arrow Root Powder
  • 1 tsp Clove
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 10 drops Wild Orange Essential Oil

Combine dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Add oils. Mix again. Store in a glass container. DONE!

Dry Shampoo-Light Hair

  • 4 TBSP Arrow Root Powder
  • 1 tsp Chamomile Powder
  • 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil

Combine dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Add oils. Mix again. Store in a glass container. DONE!

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It is so easy to make, and they smell amazing. I like to apply the dry shampoo with a makeup brush. Apply to the roots of your hair, and let it sit for a few minutes. Allowing your hair to sit gives the oil time to soak into your hair, and the arrowroot powder to absorb the grease. Brush through your hair, and style as normal-no gas needed!

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Get creative with your jars! Leave a comment showing off your storage jar. I would love to see what you all come up with.

Love, Liv