Sunday, September 29, 2013

Easy No-Cook Pumpkin Cream Sauce

Is it Fall yet? IS IT?! I think it IS!

I love all things Fall. Cool weather, hoodies, football season, soups and of course, PUMPKIN. I think this recipe will put you in the mood. It's comforting, warm, creamy, delicious and has PUMPKIN! Can't truly be Fall unless we're cooking up and eatin' up some pumpkin, right? Exactly.

So here's your big chance to get in the spirit.

Ready. go.

Easy No-Cook Pumpkin Cream Sauce

This has gotta be the best NON-CHEESE, cream sauce I've ever made. It's so yummy and so good for you it should be a crime. It made me feel so good to serve this to my boys, see them gobble it up and have no clue just how nourishing it was for them! It's better than mac n' cheese. Yes, I went there. Now you have to make it. I boiled up some brown rice macaroni (making this also gluten-free!), tossed in some broccoli, kale and peas, (during the last few minutes of cooking) and then tossed this sauce with it. I also had some Beyond Meat chicken-less chicken strips I forgot about so I added some of that too. Made a nice salad to go along side and it was a HUGE success!! 


Servings: 6

Weight Watchers Points Plus Value: 4 per 1/2 cup serving

Protein Grams: 11 grams

1 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix!)
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed. About 1 1/2 cups 
(Cannelini, white kidney, etc.)
1/3 cup Vegan butter
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
**I added unsweetened almond milk to thin mine out a bit. It equaled about 3 cups of sauce.


Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. I used my Vitamix. Add non-dairy milk to it as desired to reach the consistency your after. Add to freshly drained, hot, pasta. Mix it up and enjoy! This sauce would be good as fondue or over chili or nachos....or, or, or!!

The finished product was so delish! I ate it on the patio in beautiful fall weather...

Kid approved!

Kid #2 approved! Evidence on the face :)

Caught in the act of jacking brother's leftovers... 

I rest my case.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What a difference a year makes...

Can you believe it's been almost a year since we moved to South Dakota? I can't.

What's even more shocking is the fact that we're already back in California!

It's hard to believe that our family was uprooted from California and moved all the way to South Dakota. We lived there for six months and then moved all the way back. I don't think I ever fully adjusted to living there before we were already back here! It's been crazy. The road of opportunity was paved for us in both directions. We really couldn't have asked for a more clear sign to move both times. Nor could we have done it if it wasn't for God's hand in making it all possible. When I think back on everything that's happened over the last year I have to remember two simple facts...

We moved away for a reason.
We moved back for a reason.

God know's what He's doing. No matter where you're at in your life, there is a beginning and an end to everything you experience. Through the pain and tears, the joy and the blessings He is with YOU! He will never leave you or forsake YOU. God's promises are real. WE ARE LIVING PROOF OF THAT!! Proof that even when something hurts, it doesn't make it wrong. Sometimes pain is necessary. You can NEVER give up. Never lose faith. You HAVE to keep believing. Keep going. Pursue happiness and love. Always! God knew that we had to leave for awhile but in the end, California would be our home. We may have left physically but this is where our heart has always been.

These are just some of the moments we longed for and what South Dakota couldn't give us.

We're SO happy we're back! Nothing can compare to the feeling of being home. With family. With friends. It's priceless.

There are things I will miss about South Dakota. One thing in particular that we all know the High Desert can RARELY, EVER give...


I will miss the snow. My husband won't, but I will. The good thing about California though is that during the Winter time, this kind of weather is only an hour drive away. The beach too. And let's not forget we're only two hours outside of Las Vegas! It's really a win-win situation.

All THAT being said, I did lose my way a bit with being a Vegan. I'm not gonna lie. I strayed. I slipped. I'm human. Do you even know how hard it is to be a Vegan in the Midwest?!?!?!
But I've also paid for it dearly. I've gained weight, I'm tired and I've developed a gluten/wheat allergy. I'm assuming it was a stress response from my poor body after all the life changing "events" and eating all that comfort food to some how self soothe. Now that life seems a bit more settled I've decided to come back to the wonderful world of a whole foods, plant based diet that made me feel so good before. I've been nothing but sick with no energy and ailments since I started to eat "non-vegan" things. I'm tired of it! It feels wrong and I'm coming back. I've blown the dust off of my Eat To Live book by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and I'm doing this once again. When I was fully plant based, I felt on top of the world. I felt light, energetic, guilt free! No more obsessing, meticulous planning over what I ate or how much. No sadness over the brutal treatment and slaughtering of animals. Just feasting on fabulous food from God's green Earth. I'm so ready to get back to that 100%! I've still eaten my share of fruits and veggies since we've been back but they've had animal products accompanying them here and there. I'm here to say, "NO MORE!". It's time to go back to what works FOR ME. What makes me thrive!

Are you ready too??

I'm pretty excited for more recipes aren't you?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Quinoa Cornbread with Pumpkin

So I know that we're not in Fall anymore BUT, there is always a need for more things pumpkin. And more things with quinoa too! This is the perfect marriage. 
Quinoa Cornbread with Pumpkin

This cornbread is both sweet and savory with hints of homemade pumpkin pie in the background. The perfect side dish to chili or your favorite soup. It would even be good alone with additional syrup on top...or am I the only one into that sort of thing? Cornmeal comes in both blue and yellow and quinoa comes in red, white and black. Feel free to mix it up and make one gorgeous looking cornbread!

Serves 8

PPV: 4 per slice
Protein: 4 grams per slice


1/2 cup dry quinoa
1 cup water

1 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup rolled oats, ground into flour
1 1/2 tablespoons flaxseed, ground
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie mix
1 cup fresh apple juice
1/4 cup real maple syrup


Cook the quinoa: boil the one cup of water, add the quinoa, reduce to a simmer, cover for 15-20 minutes until the water is gone and the quinoa is fluffy.

While the quinoa is cooking combine the cornmeal, ground oat flour, ground flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.

Have I mentioned that I just got a Vitamix?? It's the best thing EVER! It can do so much! It deserves it's own blog so I'll save that for later. For now, watch it create oat flour in five seconds.

Go!!! Viola!! Amazing.
In a separate bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, apple juice, maple syrup and vanilla.

Combine wet and dry ingredients with a fork, fold in the quinoa. The mixture should be thick but add a little water if its too stiff. Spread batter into a parchment paper lined cast iron skillet or 8x8 inch pan. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Then dig on in!

In other's been so very cold here in South Dakota.


It's a good thing I have hermit like tendencies or I might get a bit stir crazy. I'm fine staying home where it's warm.

I think he's fine with that too. Sweet angel. <3

I have my daily devotional that helps keep me focused too.

I love starting my day with my coffee, my fuzzy slippers and my devotional. Ahh....

And as long as I have someone (the hubs and Grandma Sherry) to bring me food to cook, I'm good. I have these guys to keep me company.


What else do I need? We have a great time.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Cake With Gooey Ganache

There are no words that can be said.

Sometimes you just NEED chocolate cake.

Real, luscious, decadent, ooey-gooey, 'I'm gonna hate myself tomorrow' chocolate cake!

And when you need that, my friends, THIS is the recipe for YOU.

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Gooey Ganache

Inspired by PPK

I doubled the recipe to make a two layer cake. I also filled and topped it with leftover chocolate buttercream frosting I had on hand, THEN poured the ganache on top. Yes, I was feeling quite devilish. As I see it, if your going to have chocolate cake...HAVE chocolate cake! Go all the way, baby!

Makes One 8" circle cake with 8 slices

PPV: 13 (for one layer slice with ganache topping). This recipe can be lightened up by using splenda in place of sugar and apple sauce in place of oil bringing the value you down to only 7 points!!
Protein: 2 grams (Let's be honest here...we're not eating this for the protein!)

  • 1 cup coconut milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup organic granulated cane sugar (you could use stevia, splenda or granulated sugar)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple extract (or more vanilla)
  • 1 cup unbleached, all purpose flour (or regular flour)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the coconut milk and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add sugar, oil, vanilla and maple extract. Mix well.

In separate bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in two batches. Mix until no large lumps remain. A few small lumps are okay.

Lightly grease an 8" cake pan with cooking spray. Cut parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pan and spray again. Pour in the batter and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting with ganache.


Gooey Ganache
  • 2/3 coconut milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
In a small saucepan bring milk to a boil over high heat. Then lower to a simmer, add chocolate and maple syrup. Stir until combined. Remove from heat and continue to stir until all the chocolate is melted. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before using.
To assemble the cake simple pour ganache on top of the cake. Use the back of a spoon to spread the ganache around and allow to drizzle down the sides of the cake. Refrigerate to cool and set the ganache before serving or serve immediately!
I spread my two layers with buttercream before applying the ganache. Feel free to do as you please. This recipe is very forgiving.
Isn't she beautiful?
Oh how sweet the smell...and the site....and the taste of this delicious cake!

Did I mention that kids really love ganache?

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. "Give it back, mom!"

Perfection. And no animals were harmed during the making of this beauty. almost guilt-free pleasure. ;)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Life-Changing Crock-pot Beans

Beans are amazing. They are literally powerhouses of super nutrition! Studies show that those who ate beans at least twice per week cut their chances of getting colon cancer by 50%!!!

Now if when I say "beans" you instantly think of a can opening then your in for a surprise. Or shock, should I say.

My beans are phenomenal.

Gee, Reyna, why don't you tell us how you really feel.

I'm serious!!

These beans will make you NEVER want canned beans again. I know that opening up a bag of hard beans and cooking them can seem a little intimidating but I'm here to tell you (and show you) that it's a cinch. You can use my recipe on any beans you like and I promise they WILL be a game changer.

**This blog is dedicated to my dad. My poor mom has been trying to mock my beans forever with no success. My dad is a tough critic but one of the biggest fans of my beans. He's been telling me for years, "Give up the recipe already, Colonel Saunders!".

Here you go, Dad! I love you!

Life-Changing Crock-pot Beans

This recipe is for a pound of beans but can easily be doubled. I like to make a bunch at once, freeze some for quick soups, dips and to use through out the week. They're great on salads (It's all about G-BOMBS! Dr. Fuhrman in the house!) in burritos, as taco filling, in chili, soup and in veggie burgers. The flavor in the beans gets so infused by the crock-pot that the taste is simply wonderful. You'll wonder why you never tried this sooner. Don't fret if you want to use a stockpot instead. You totally can, you'll just have to babysit it a bit so it doesn't dry out on you.

Serves 12

PPV: 3 per half cup (these are average points, black beans are slightly less and garbanzo beans slightly more)
Protein: 7-9 grams per cup

Look how many servings one pound of dried beans provides! It's maybe $1 for a bag of dried beans vs. buying one organic, low sodium can for at least $1 each!!

  • 1 pound dried beans of choice, sorted and rinsed (I used half pinto and half white today!)
  • Low sodium vegetable, organic chicken or organic beef broth, enough to cover beans (32oz approximately)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of each of the following: Garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, Italian seasoning, thyme, seasoning salt, garlic salt and black pepper

Ideally you want to cover your beans (roughly 2"above) with cold water and soak in a very large bowl, overnight. If you didn't plan that far in advance, that's ok. I didn't either today. Simply sort and rinse beans. Cover with cold water and bring to a rapid boil. Boil for 15 minutes.

Put the lid on, turn the heat off and let it sit for an hour. Then drain, rinse and your beans are ready for use.

Put the beans in your crock-pot (or large stockpot), add all the seasoning and cover with broth of choice.

*Stockpot pic vs. crock-pot

Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 6 hours. When the beans are done, use them anyway you please. One of my favorite ways to eat beans these days is on salads. If you've never tried it, you should. Makes an excellent meat alternative without having to consume fake meat products. Bon appetite!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012: Mission Accomplished

I'm proud of myself.

No, no modesty. I'm REALLY proud of myself.

In December of last year I set a goal to make 2012 a 90% plant-based year. Here we are one year later and I'm proud to say that we as an entire family have accomplished that goal. I also proved that it is in fact possible to have a gastric bypass and thrive without consuming ANY animal products.


So where will we go from here?

This year has taught me a lot about what feels good in my body, what fuels me and what hurts me. After much prayer, meditation, trial and error, we've decided to reintroduce a limited amount of organic, good quality, lean meat, wild caught fish and organic-free-range eggs into our diet. I've learned that grains are something that I just can't handle much of so I will continue to limit them. They unfortunately cause me much GI upset, inflammation and bloating in my body. Dairy products will also remain out of our diet. This is due to our belief in the study done in the documentary, Forks Over Knives, that concludes any more than 5% of dairy consumption turns on cancer cell growth. As well as the fact that I'm already lactose intolerant. ;)

Why the addition of meat, poultry, eggs and fish again?

Moving to the Midwest has provided us with many benefits as far as access to good quality meat. I'm sorry if this breaks your heart but my gut tells me that the good Lord put cows, chickens and pigs etc. on this Earth for us to eat in moderation. Now before you get your feathers all ruffled, hear me out.

I believe that any and all animals deserve to be treated humanely. I am completely against the poor treatment, boarding or abuse of animals. I do feel though that if the animals were raised in good living conditions (I.e. roaming the fields that surround my house!) and were treated appropriately that there is nothing wrong with consuming them from time to time. Example: A grass-fed roast for Sunday supper, fresh fish ceviche caught out of the river on a hot summer day, free range chicken noodle soup on a cold winter's day.

For the record, I'm pretty sure our ancestors didn't go out and hunt a tofurkey for Thanksgiving.

Just sayin'!!!

Did I mention that I love living in the country?! I see these very animals every single day! Grass-fed HAPPY cows, wild turkeys, free range chickens and fresh walleye, catfish and bass swimming in the Missouri river outside my window. My yard is also filled with trees and perfectly rich soil for growing plants, fruits and vegetables.

First of all, how awesome is that???

Second of all, who wouldn't want to live off the land??

The more research I do on how our ancestors lived, the more it makes sense to me to be a gatherer AND a hunter. A great read for those of you who find what I'm saying disturbing or my decision confusing, is It Starts With Food.

If you haven't noticed, I'm always reading new information and research studies that are being done for the greater good of my and my family's health. This website and book is PHENOMENAL. I absolutely loved all the information and it was very eye opening in the respect of how we've evolved and how going back to the basics of how our ancestors lived is the way to optimum health. A definite MUST READ.

So, my plan for us as a family as we head into 2013 is to thrive on a 75% plant based diet (including juicing!) and the remaining 25% will come from good quality, reliable sources of meat, poultry and fish as well as healthy fats. In addition to that I want us to be well-rounded. There is so much more to good health than just what we eat. My goal is for all of us to get adequate rest every night, to have quality "fun time" as a family, to practice stress relieving exercises, to move our bodies everyday and spend time reading God's word. All things that will enrich our quality of life as a family unit. Balance is key.

Needless to say, I'm stripping myself of my "Vegan" title. I'll just be known as "the gastric bypass omnivore" from here on out. I will still get most of my nutrients from plants but I know the Vegans as a people (LOL!) and a community hold that title to some very serious guidelines that I will no longer be abiding. And I'm ok with that.

In other news, I'm currently teaching Turbo Kick here on the Indian Reservation three nights a week! I absolutely love it! I'm also being sent to Leader training for Weight Watchers at the end of January! God is working through me in so many ways. I love that he is using me to reach and to help others get healthy.

I'm so glad that all of you are still here supporting me on this crazy journey called life! Now that the holidays are coming to a close and we are finally settled here in our new home in South Dakota I'll be blogging much more. So stay tuned for new upcoming recipes, events and challenges that 2013 will bring. I promise to not disappoint. :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

On The Road Again

Before we left California, a friend of mine told me, "You should try to teach turbo kick on the Indian reservation!".

Gotta admit I totally dismissed the idea.

Didn't even entertain the possibility!

Wouldn't you know the Lord would have other plans!

Who remembers my post about "waiting on Him to open doors" for me???

I am living, breathing, proof that our God can do anything at anytime and ANYWHERE!

Our reservation has a multi-million dollar fitness/community center with a diabetes prevention program and its almost completely not in use. Currently zero fitness classes are being taught.

You guys know me and what I'm about right? Well news spreads like wildfire in a town of 800 and the word about me got around rather quickly. It wasn't long before I was offered a fitness instructor position in which THEY asked ME what I wanted to teach!

Amazing right? Anyone know the odds on that one???

Not only was I able to pick turbo kick but I was also told that the certification class and the entire trip to North Dakota would be paid for. Oh! And all my men could come too!

*insert squeal here*

So away we went, on what seemed like a short 5 hour drive, to Bismarck North Dakota.

It was snowing when we got here! And yes, it made me squeal with delight. Something else that made me squeal (doesn't take much!) Was the Starbucks that we saw when we pulled into town. Sure I've HAD coffee since we left California but....NOT Starbucks! I knew it was red cup season and I'd be getting me a gingerbread soy latte in the morning.

Morning couldn't come quick enough.

Saturday came and went as fast as a jab-cross-hook-uppercut. I had so much fun and learned more than I can even begin to explain. My instructor was amazing! She (as well as my original AWESOME instructor, Barbara!) Is everything a turbo kick instructor should be. Perfect form and queueing, full of power, fun-loving, fireball of energy and oh so cute in trendy turbo attire.Turbo kick is not for the weak at heart. It's an in your face, body slamming, butt kicking, PARTY all rolled into one! By far one of the best cardio and resistance training workouts I've ever done. I feel so humbled to have this opportunity to "BRING IT" to the people of Lower Brule. You better believe that all my free time will be spent practicing, practicing, practicing! I'm not gonna teach this class until I can do it justice and feel confident with what I'm bringing. I got the gear and the Elite 11(a set of 11 rounds of turbo kick) to get me started.

As we head back home today I can hardly wait to get going on this new journey! I think I'll throw in a turbo kick CD and start practicing my queueing. The boys shouldn't mind much. ;)