[Vegan] Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ok ok, i know I’m falling off the healthy wagon posting cookie recipes lately, but hey these are health(ier), recipes. After all, these recipes are made at home with no preservatives and healthier ingredient options to choose from based on your dietary preferences. Prime example – these can be made vegan by using coconut oil, coconut milk and dairy-free chocolate chips. Hey, remember although healthier, no one ever said that eating vegan was lo-cal. Portion control is key!! One of these at a time would be a treat without feeling too guilty. Try it! Self control combined with healthier ingredients are always a win/win. Can’t wait to make these for my partner and parents.

Ingredients
100g granulated sugar
100g brown sugar
270g flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
112g coconut oil or butter
3 tbsp full fat coconut or regular milk
3 tbsp aquafaba (chickpea water) or egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
120g large non-dairy chocolate chunks

Preparation
– Mix granulated sugar, brown sugar, melted coconut oil, aquafaba (egg), coconut milk and vanilla extract until combined

– sift in flour and baking soda

– add salt

– fold in the dry ingredients with spatula until it forms a dough-like texture

– fold in the chocolate chips (and nuts) until evenly dispersed throughout the batter

– cover with lid and chill for 30 minutes

– preheat your oven to 355

– line 2 baking trays with parchment

– portion cookie dough into equal sized medium balls

– scoop narrow balls with 2 inches bet.

– bake 12-15 minutes (cookies should feel soft when taking out of the oven. They’ll harden as they cool)

– cool on tray (5 minutes)

– transfer to a wire rack

Banana Bread Cookies

Leave those Lenny & Larry’s high carb/low quality protein cookies on the shelf! Hey y’all, yup I’m still on a plant-based kick these days. Also wanted something low-carb and minimally-to-non processed; so I was inspired, since I also had a very ripe banana – to make these light, yummy, non-greasy delights. They remind me of short bread cookies. Note, the ingredients are adapted from an online recipe. With my modifications, they were amazingly good and they’re only going to get better as I bake them more. They also yield less than 10 cookies per batch, so no worries that you’ll get stuck with a ton of leftovers.

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • .5 cup – 1.25 cup overly ripe mashed bananas (our recipe was on the lesser side)
  • 1 egg (optional)

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350℉ and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Add the almond flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon to a bowl and mix well
  • Mash the bananas with a fork and add them to the dry ingredients (I mash, then measure)
  • Add maple syrup
  • Mix with spoon until ingredients are evenly mixed
  • With a 1.5 tbsp cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto the baking sheet
  • Flatten cookies with a fork or back of a spoon softly.
  • Bake for 26-30 minutes until the middles have set and aren’t wet (27/28 minutes is perfect)
  • Take out of oven, place on a plate to cool
  • eat at room temperature
  • Keep in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days

Plant Based Ease

With all the talk around Covid and the fact that African Americans are dying at alarming rates partly due to cormorbitities that are in large part very preventable with certain diet choices and/or changes. This reality has caused me to dig a little deeper into the investigation of seeing how a more plant based diet would benefit me by consuming less animal protein and processed foods.

Growing up in the late 70’s, 80’s hitting adulthood in the 90’s, those people I knew that adopted this “vegetarian” lifestyle (as the terms “vegan” and “plant-based” weren’t yet conceived) – for the most part these people ate all of this unhealthy fried, fake meat/processed bullshit; Fast food included – as long as it didn’t contain meat. And frankly, in my opinion, it was arguably way less healthy than a meal with responsibly sourced low in saturated fat meals with quality animal protein options.

Fast forward, its 2020 and the vegan plant-based industry is booming in that this time around, its a much healthier approach to now, a “plant-based” approach that includes more WHOLE foods and less processed/cancer-causing foods than existed in the 90’s and prior.

This article provides a simple way to start eating more in this direction without much stress. Also, lets face it, eating this simple doesn’t need to break the bank ala Whole Foods Market-style. Eating a diet that is predominantly void of meat protein should – and is – cheaper, even with organic foods. Note everything doesn’t need to be organic. Refer to the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen list.


For this meal, lets start with the frosting. The frosting on the cake to this meal is the roasted roasted garlic. Its so deliciously sweet and takes time to prepare. We do this at the very beginning since it takes the longest to prepare but the goal here is to make enough to last several meals but not so much that it goes bad before you can eat it all – but trust us, if you’re cooking daily or regularly at home you wont waste it. Place a handful (or more) of peeled garlic cloves in aluminum foil and drizzle with EVOO – (extra virgin olive oil) dont be too shy here, topping with salt + pepper. Place in a baking dish. We used a small cast iron pan. Cook on 400 for an hour, tossing/stirring every 20 minutes. When ready, and after cooling a bit, use desired amount and save the remainder in the fridge by storing in a glass jar along with the EVOO from the roasting for later.


Rice comes in many colors and grains. For the purpose of this article, we’ll use white jasmine rice. In terms of methods, I’m now hooked to the instapot way! It’s mainly a “set it and forget it“ process to the perfect rice and it goes like this…(1) clean and measure 1c of jasmine rice (2) place into instapot (3) add 1c water (4) set on High Pressure for three minutes (5) when done let it release naturally for 10 mins then release remaining steam over stovetop air vent. (6) rinse rice in a strainer to remove some of the stickiness, let drain and add liquid fat of choice in stainless steel bowl and mix adding salt to taste. Store unused portion in the fridge.


Black beans and lentils! This is the meat of the meal and starting out, the goal here is to make it simple and non-intimidating but delicious. For simplicity sake, lets use organic drained canned black beans and lentils (1 container each).

This is where it gets good. After draining and rinsing the beans + lentils, add curry powder, onion powder, salt, pepper to taste. Last, add a can of full or low-fat coconut milk. If you want to get fancy, add minced garlic + chopped onions. We even mixed vindaloo curry and regular curry to add a bit of debt and kick to the curry taste. Let all of this simmer slowly at a low heat, stirring periodically.


Broccoli – To retain most of its nutritional value (outside of eating it raw), can be prepared baked, steamed or air fried. We’ll use the steaming method for this article. If steaming, use an inexpensive metal steamer. This method will take the shortest time to prepare. Place a small amount of water in a boiler (0.5-1 inch from the bottom of boiler). Place the strainer in the boiler with the broccoli in the strainer and cover. Let water come to a boil, turn down heat to medium and let cook with steam for 5-8 minutes (depending on desired doneness). The crunchier the healthier + better! When done, place in stainless steel mixing bowls add seasoning and fat of choice. Toss + Serve.


When all ingredients above are ready, create a bowl with the rice as your base. Top with coconut curry beans + lentils. Adorn with broccoli and crown with roasted garlic. Wow, Yumminess overload!!

Buffalo Cauliflower

Trying something new in the way of plant based eating due to my over-consumption of plant based sensationalism this Covid 19 Memorial Day weekend by the likes of What The Health, The Game Changers and Forks Over Knives. I had always heard of these documentaries but never took the time to see them; and while happy I was able to get that level of awareness, I’m not sure I will 100% follow this lifestyle to a T, as many of the sensationalized claims have been debunked. As with all things, I tread responsibly and in moderation.

It’s unfortunate that the (meat) industry is what it is in many areas, and me deciding to make a change to go plant-based exclusively isn’t going to put a dent into the damage already caused by this industry on an agricultural level.


Healthwise, yes there is some truth to the sensationalized claims as most people have over consumed and abused meat to the point of disease, but the total absence of animal protein can arguably have its disadvantages. However a more balanced and inclusive plant-based diet can be of great benefit; And with that mindset, here’s a first shot at a plant based recipe I tried. It’s so good that the entire bunch was consumed in one setting.

Warning – While this recipe is still being perfected, I’m encouraging you to start with this as a base and modify it as you see fit. I personally would’ve preferred it just a bit crispier.

Conscious naked eating. Stay healthy. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

• Cauliflower florets, 1 head

• 3/4 cup flour (I mixed 1/2c flour + 1/4 tapioca starch)

• 1 tsp paprika

• 1 tsp onion powder

• 1 tsp garlic powder

• 1 tsp cayenne pepper

• 1 tsp salt

• 3/4 cup butter milk (or plant based beverage + 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar)

• 2 tbsp melted butter (or coconut oil)

• 1/3 c buffalo sauce (i.e. Franks)


PREPARATION

• preheat oven 375/400

• line 1-2 baking sheets with parchment paper

• Combined spices, and flour

• Add in liquid til batter is formed

• Place on baking sheets and bake 20 mins on each side

• Separately make the buffalo sauce by combining buffalo sauce + butter (or coconut oil)

• Toss cooked cauliflower with sauce

• Place in air fryer at 350 shaking periodically until desired crispiness

Spinach Soup Love

This recipe is for my HS classmate Sonya in Atlanta (adapted from a Rachel Ray recipe)! Yes you might have noticed that we’re loving our love of soups lately. Well its because, they’re quick, very easy to make, versatile [as you can have them as a side, appetizer or a complete meal (when adding protein like chopped chicken breast)]!  And trust us – after making this a couple of times you won’t need this recipe at all. Yes, its that easy! Lets jump right into it as I don’t have a story to share behind this other than the fact that its delicious and that you might want to have some buttery pan-toasted sourdough bread to accompany this jewel of a soup.

One last thing I want to note here is that if you have a large amount of produce on hand making soups out of it is a good way for it not to sit in your refrigerator and go bad. I do this a lot with broccoli and cauliflower. Oh and if you don’t have one yet an immersion (i.e hand) blender, is an amazing investment for sauces soups smoothies, shakes, etc.


Ingredients:
* 1 quart of chicken stock
* 3 tablespoons of fat (butter, coconut oil, or ghee)
* 1 medium onion
* 2 large shallots (or another onion)
* 4 cloves of garlic chopped or thinly sliced (or as much as you want depending on your preference)
* 1/4 c all purpose flour (feel free to leave this out if you’re cutting carbs but its not much)
* 1.5 lbs of spinach coarsely chopped
* juice from half a lemon (roughly 1 tbsp)
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* smoked paprika, salt, pepper (to taste)


Preparation:
> over med heat bring stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan (or heat in microwave 3-4 mins)
> melt butter over heat in large pot (medium heat)
> when butter melts and foams add in onion, shallots and garlic, then partially cover and cook while stirring for roughly 5 mins until they soften
> add flour and wish for roughly a minute
> wisk in the warmed stock
> add spinach and stir til wilted
> simmer 10-15 mins
> add lemon juice and season with salt + pepper
> use an immersion/hand blender to puree the soup (you may also use a regular blender or food processor to do this in batches then return to pot when finished)
> stir in the heavy cream
> simmer on low for 5 mins
> serve with a dash of smoked paprika and toasted sourdough bread

Air WINGS

How can one not love the essence of a good wing? From hot to buffalo to lemon pepper to barbecue + all cooking methods in between from baked, to deep fried with breading to deep fried without breading, to grilled and finally the subject of this article – AIR FRIED! The new kid on the block.

Those of you that have been following our posts know that we’re not big on measuring exact amounts because we like to give you the freedom of seasoning to your own taste liking. This is especially in the case of non-baked foods. This being one of them.


Lets start with the main ingredient – WINGS! In this recipe we started with a package of cleaned organic wings from Costco (roughly 12 pieces mixed both drums + flats as separate pieces). Pat dry wings and season.

Season

The basic seasoning used here is garlic + onion powder, blk + red pepper, salt of choice + paprika.

Marinade

In a small squeeze bottle, mix half yellow mustard and half pickle juice. Then coat the seasoned wings with the mustard mixture, gently combine til fully covered. Put in fridge and let marinate (ideally overnight but), at least a couple of hours.

Combine

In a separate bowl mix the the ingredients for the batter. Even amounts of the following will do (again not measuring anything): flour of choice, tapioca starch, generic fish fry mix or plain cornmeal into a medium ziplock. Add marinaded room temperature wings to the bag in thirds to effectively coat.

Remove coated wings from ziplock and place on a flat plate. Spray tops with avocado oil and gently place oiled side down on parchment-lined air fryer – not stacking them. When all wings are in fryer (oiled-side down), spray tops with oil and cook.


Cook

Cooking time and temps may vary per air fryer. We cooked these at 350-400 degrees for a total of 25 mins total (carefully turning halfway through). Monitor and discontinue cooking when wings are at the desired crispness.


Wahoo Kickr Vibes!

It took me a while to get things all squared away fitness-wise given our new normal, but I’m proud to say that I found my indoor quarantine cardio fix! And yes this will be something I continue after this pandemic is all said and done.

When it comes to indoor cycling or as some call it – spin, and after nearly 10 years of coaching this format along with a 30-minute format called SPRINT (by Les Mills), at big box gyms in Los Angeles, I consider myself a professional; However, when it comes to outdoor riding and although I’ve been in a few triathlons as a cyclist – mainly as a part of three different relay teams at the Walt Disney company, I still considered myself a novice in this area. Not something that sat well with me. How could I be an indoor cycling coach and not be too versed in the world of outdoor cycling?

Fast forward 2020, and I’m finally introduced to the amazing world or smart trainers and virtual riding. With the exception of training and the triathlons themselves, which was the extent of my outdoor riding life [and honestly, I sometimes slacked on the outdoor training due to own strength training schedule and my rigid indoor coaching schedule (6 days strength training + 5 indoor classes a week), in addition to my full-time career at the world’s largest entertainment company].

Enter COVID-19 in early March 2020, and now being free of my rigid coaching and workout schedule (due to mandatory gym closures), I reflected for approximately 2-3 weeks to determine what my social distancing mojo was going to entail 🤔. After initially running outside during the stay at home order, I was starting to get annoyed af because of the onslaught of other runners that were suddenly outside and not appropriately exercising social distancing orders put in place by the mayor of Los Angeles, and the governor of California.

After having a pretty decent moderately priced (non-smart) indoor trainer (when i lived in NYC), I wanted to see if going the cheaper route this time made a difference; so after researching low-end trainers, I purchased one for under $200 on Amazon – what a joke. When it comes to indoor trainers, this trial + error exercise taught me that, you really do get what you pay for. I was so disappointed, and instantly made the resolve that the only way I’m going to get something that will not only last, but that would equally be fulfilling enough to train well at multiple levels allowing me to grow, I’d need to forget price. I did and could not be happier + more fulfilled. Refurbished, this top of the line smart trainer wasn’t cheap by any stretch, but it’s just what I needed – $1200 new vs $750 refurbished.

Yea being and indoor cycling coach and enthusiast, I contemplated a stationary bike, however, I wanted something so much more than that. For starters, (as of the writing of this article), I have a 20+ year career in the online media space, I wanted amazing technology. I wanted interactivity. I wanted versatility. I wanted quality + longevity; and baby this latest model from the Wahoo Kickr line of smart trainers is the gift that keeps on giving – a work horse that satisfies all of my smart-trainer desires!!! Apps (discussed further down), further enhances this experience.

Allow me to introduce my new obsession – Jai’s Wahoo Kickr v3 (2018 version)!

After sitting on this 11-speed trainer for a few weeks – from trying my own DIY skills to remove cogs to make it fit my old 9-speed road bike. I finally gave in + took it to my neighborhood bike shop for a 10- minute repair job – the rest is history!! I’m up and running. To let you know my level of knowledge for outdoor cycling, I had no idea what a cog was – much less a derailleur; yet I was on YouTube trying to research how to start capitalizing on my investment, needless to say – to no avail. Thank God for the essential bike professionals + workers out there assisting novices like me.


Smart Trainer apps + my Apple Watch + Strava.

This new wave of smart trainers with Bluetooth and apps like Zwift are a whole new world to me. Paired with my Apple Watch (for tracking my heart rate specifically), I also use a fitness app called Strava for tracking cardio activities like my dog walks + runs, to now my training on the kickr.

Since the watch is also connected, it serves as a conduit, allowing me to track my heart rate while doing these activities. I even use Strava while doing strength training and mobility work. I’ll eventually get to the Zwift app but I started out using the wahoo app to get used to the features of the kickr trainer itself. Zwift is the leader at the moment. It’s easy. It allows you to ride freestyle, or do more structured workouts, FTP tests, races + rides w friends, etc. It’s the gamification of cycling/training done in a very practical, effective way. Sufferfest is another one, that uses real scenery vs avatar/cartoon used by Zwift. Being the novice I am, my plan is to venture into it slowly and start with Sufferfest. They have a sweet 44-day free trial during C-19.

What’s one of your new obsessions out of this 2020 Corona Virus Chronicles time?

Curry Cabbage

This is a favorite from childhood. Mom steamed it with chicken broth and added red pepper flakes for a sweet + spicy veggie that we usually ate with mashed potatoes and fried chicken. This recipe upgrades the original recipe in many ways, with the added benefits of healthy fats and immune boosting spices.

Such a simple but healthy quick dish that pairs with a multitude of things. Pick a protein, [we prefer dishes like boiled shrimp + baked wild white fish or salmon]. Even adding additional veggies like broccoli and carrots go exceptionally well. If you diet allows for simple carbs,feel free to toss in a little pre-cooked rice, potato chunks or pasta. Potato chunks can be first boiled and them simmered in while cooking the cabbage. Cook slow and steady + Be really careful not to overcook.

R E C I P E:

chopped cabbage (full head), coconut oil 1-2 tbsp, spices to taste – curry, salt, pepper, cayenne. 1 can of coconut milk.

H O W:

chop cabbage, onion + garlic. melt oil. sauté onion, add garlic to sauté along with all spices. top with cabbage. pour milk on top. cover and simmer slowly til desired tenderness.

Panfried Chicken Thighs

Deep fried is not cool; But when you want that deep fried taste while keeping it less deadly, here’s a recipe thats lighter and yes still quite tasty! We’re loving these skin-on bone-in thighs!

• skin-on bone-in thighs

• oil (high cook point)

• salt

• pepper
seasoning of choice (we used fajita. Cajun & Jerk are great too)

⁃ clean thighs

⁃ place thighs a dry cloth

⁃ pat dry

⁃ Lightly oil (cast iron) pan (enough to sear thighs)

⁃ start to slowly heat oil

⁃ while oil is slowly heating, season both sides with salt + pepper

⁃ only season side without skin with seasoning other seasoning (we used fajita, but cajun + jerk are also good choices)

⁃ when oil is hot enough, place thighs skin side down, in pan for 6 mins

⁃ remove pan from fire and turn thighs over in oil

⁃ feel free to add garlic cloves + raw veggies to the pan (i.e. brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, asparagus, etc.)

⁃ bake at 350 for 20-25 mins or until internal temperature is 165F

E N J O Y !

Meatball Love!

Love our variations on meatballs! These protein rich delights are so quick + easy to make in a crunch and so freaking good. Make a simple meal like topping them with micro-greens and placing them on a plated smeared with pesto for flavor. We’ve included the nutrition label below as well. Don’t be so rigid tho. The fun in making meatballs is being able to sort of eyeball things.

Ingredients:

• 1 lb ground chicken
• 1 lb ground pork
• 2 tbsp greek yogurt
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 2 medium eggs
• 1/4 cup walnuts (or breadcrumbs)
• 1 tbsp garlic powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

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“Look Good…Feel Great…Enjoy Life”

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