Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Latkes, latkes, latkes!

I love the taste of homemade latkes, but I only make them once a year because:

1. The oil smell permeates your entire life for like 3 days
2.  It is so time consuming!
3.  MESSY!

This year I was determined to take at least one of those things out of the equation.

I decided to roast my latkes!

I looked up a few recipes, but I love my own recipe so much I decided to just try things as I went tonight and see how it turned out.

Usually, that is a recipe for disaster, but it turned out SO WELL!
The smell is not as permanent or pervasive.  SO much less messy, and since I don't have to stand over the oven turning just 4 at a time, MUCH less time consuming.

Here is the recipe... it makes 52 latkes:

5 lbs yellow potatoes
3 large yellow onions
5 eggs
1 cup flour
1 tbsp baking powder
salt & pepper


Preheat the oven to 425 and using two pans (I use a glass casserole and a baking stone), pour oil onto the bottom so it fully coats it in a thick layer.  In one pan I did avocado oil, in the other I did olive oil.  I think I will stick to avocado, it's a little lighter-- but both work.  Put the pans in the oven to preheat.

1. Shred all the potatoes in the food processor (you can peel or not, I ted to peel a bit of each but not the entire potato)
2.  Transfer the shredded potatoes into a bowl of cold water
3.  Finely chop the onions in the food processor (should look like applesauce)
4.  Beat 5 eggs with a fork in a  separate bowl
5.  After about 10-30 minutes, drain out the potatoes in a  colander.  Press down firmly and rotate, press again, rotate.  Add the onion-- keep on pressing and rotating, squeezing out the water.  Add several paper towels on top and squeeze one more time.  Toss the paper towel and dump the potato/onion mixture into a very big bowl.
6.  Add the egg and flour, salt & pepper and mixx well using your hands.
7. Scoop the mixture onto the hot oiled pans, I use a rounded scoop shown below.  After you've scooped them all, pat them down with the rounded side of the scoop.
8.  Roast for 8 minutes, then flip the and roast another 8 minutes.  They made need up to 10 minutes per side-- you decide.
9.  Plate them on a platter with paper towels underneath and enjoy with applesauce!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Hanukkah Theme Nights

Happy Hanukkah! Tuesday it begins!
Here are some fun traditions to make theme nights for each night, or a gelt pocket present Hanukkah calendar.
Find it at: www.etsy.com/shop/thezestynest
Light it up!

#happyhanukkah #hanukkahcalendar#hanukkahthemenights #hanukkahtheme#chanukah #chanukahtheme #gelt#hanukkahpresent

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Chocolate Pie

I saw this on the Today Show years ago-- maybe around New Year's.

Anyway, I skipped making the crust and just bought a vegan one .

This is SO easy and delicious-- I make 2 pies at once.

It is supposed to be served warm, but I really prefer it chilled:

1 crust (bake it 10 mins)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup milk (I used almond milk)
8 oz 365 brand chocolate chunks chips
2 eggs, beaten

Heat a pan and add milk & cream.
Once it boils, take it off heat and whisk in the chips till totally melted and mixed.
Add eggs and completely mix in.
Scrape into pie shell and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  (If it's jiggly in the middle and you want to serve it warm, bake longer-- if you want it chilled, allow it to cool, then chill at least 1 hour.)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Our Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu

We love Vegetarian Thanksgiving!  Honestly-- I think we get more veggies in (compared to the traditional meal) by about 200% and still feel so full we take a family nap in the afternoon!

More than half of our Thanksgiving meal is vegan-- but all of our desserts are vegetarian and my two little ones' favorite dish on Thanksgiving is mac & cheese.

 We may try to slowly veganize that mac & cheese, but over the last 10 years we went from full out turkey and everything to vegetarian Thanksgiving, and now (mostly) vegan.  So these recipes were slowly added in and eventually the ones I grew up with became unappealing to me after a few years of Thanksgivings.

Take a peek (or taste!) at all the recipes that end up on our Thanksgiving table and see if there's anything you can replace to start having a more plant-based Thanksgiving holiday.

Our Thanksgiving Menu (scroll down for recipes):

  • 365 brand vegan stuffing
  • Vegan gravy
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Mac & cheese
  • Big chunky salad (avocado, nuts, greens, cranberries)
  • Green beans almondine
  • Roasted veggies
  • Cheese plate


  • Vegan pumpkin pie (vegan crusts)
  • Chocolate pie (vegan crusts)

I can honestly say-- I have never tasted a better gravy than this vegan gravy.  And having a huge chunky salad instead of a turkey feels so much better in my body.  And it was hard for me to part with Pepperidge Farm stuffing a couple years ago-- but HOLY COW-- 365 brand vegan stuffing BLOWS IT AWAY!  Like, but a LOT!  Better tasting AND no crap added.

  • Vegan stuffing:
    In a hot pot, melt 1 stick Earth Balance
    Saute 1 cup finely chopped celery + 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
    Add 2 cups water + 1 vegan Rapunzel boullion cube
    Add 2 bags 365 brand Vegan Multigrain Stuffing and mix
    Bake 25 minutes at 350 and serve!

    Vegan gravy:
      • 1/2 cup oil (avocado, oil, grapeseed)
      • 1/3 cup chopped onion
      • 5 cloves garlic, minced
      • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
      • 4 teaspoons nutritional yeast
      • 4 tablespoons light soy sauce
      • 2 cups vegetable broth
      • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

      1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour, nutritional yeast, and soy sauce to form a smooth paste. Gradually whisk in the broth. Season with sage, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring constantly, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until thickened

      2. Mashed potatoes:
      3. 5 lbs (1 bag) russet or yellow potatoes
      4. 1/2 stick Earth Balance
      5. 1/2- 1 cup 365 brand unsweetened almond milk (to desired consistency)
      6. Real Salt to taste
      7. Boil potatoes (put cut in large pieces in a pot of cold water, then turn on high)
      8. Put Earth Balance & milk in large bowl. Once potatoes come apart when you stick a form in them, scoop with wire skimmer into the bowl. Mash with hand masher.

      9. Mac & cheese recipe is here

      10. Big chunky salad (avocado, slivered almonds, greens, cranberries, arugala, kale, goat cheese, purple cabbage)

        Optional: Roasted veggies: Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, sweet potato-- toss in avocado oil, salt and roast at 400 for 35 mins

      1. Green beans almondine:
      2. Fresh green beans
      3. Slivered almonds
      4. Lemon
      5. Salt
      Steam beans-- toss in the rest!

      Roasted veggies:
      Chop up cauliflower, Brussels sprouts-- any other veggies you like (carrots, sweet potato, onion, etc)-- toss in avocado oil & salt-- roast for 35-45 min at 400

      Pumpkin pie-- I use Minimalist baker's recipe, but with pre-bought vegan crusts

      Chocolate pie, click here

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The foods we eat at Mother Daughter Book Club

I'm part of a fabulous Mother Daughter book club based on Her Next Chapter.
Every month, we read a book, then we get together and each bring a food that was mentioned in the book.  I think that might be the best part! 
For November, we read Tortilla Sun and had some of the delicious foods featured in the book. The recipe for vegan homemade tortillas is here.
Homemade tortillas – I am no Nana, I could not get them round like the sun!… Slow cooked black beans, avocados, tortilla chips… All kinds of goodness. This was a great book to end the year on and we are excited for our book throw down next month to pick our 11 books for 2018. 📚📚

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Pebble Meditation Bags

We had a cozy little family meeting early last weekend in the backyard. We read this wonderful book on pebble meditation. We wish we had learned about meditation as children, so we want to start planting the seeds with our kids. We read the book, each made our own pebble meditation bag, and practiced the four meditations together. A Handful of Quiet is a wonderful book to get started with little ones on meditation.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

My Daily Checklist

I was having a hard time… Getting started on a regimen...and then stopping, getting started again, stopping… So I decided to sit down and think of 10 things I could do every day that weren't too hard. An easy-ish list that would start to push me into a pattern that I couldn't stop so easily… I came up with this little daily checklist for myself and it's really been helping the last two weeks. I feel really good when I can check something off, and I feel like it helps me to continue making good choices, and even if I make a not so great choice, I just try to check another thing off.

Want to print copies for your week?  Click here.

👍#goodchoices #selfcare #healthyliving#dailychecklist @bragglivefoods @wholefoods #iodine

Monday, October 16, 2017

Dinner Shortcut: Tortilla Night

This is a spin we do on leftovers in our house.

We take out all the containers of leftovers, big and small-- plus peanut butter & jelly & hummus...
we buy 365 tortillas and just lay it all out.

We call it Tortilla Night.

Make you own tortilla out of leftovers!

We try to finish off a much as we can and anything still left goes into lunches for school the next day.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Hurricane Prep!

We are preparing here in Florida for the history-making Hurricane Irma.

No single Hurricane Prep list was doing it for me... 
I put together a 2 page "To DO" plus "Tips" for hurricane preparedness compiled from a few hours researching different lists and tips... please use it if it's helpful to you as well... it prints as 2 regular sized pages.

Be safe!

Click here for the 2 page Hurricane List & Tips document.

My top suggestions for hurricane food are-- OF COURSE-- all 365 products:

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Emily's Vegan Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies


In one bowl, mix:
1 stick Earth Balance vegan butter (soy free), melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup 365 brand unsweetened applesauce

In another bowl, mix:
1 cup flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2  tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

Combine the two bowls and mix thoroughly
Add in
3/4 cups 365 brand chocolate chunks, mix
3 cups 365 brand rolled oats, mix well
Scoop in 2 tbsp scoops onto a cookie sheet/stone
Bake 14 minutes

Makes about 30 cookies
Freeze up to 1 month

Perfect for quick breakfast

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Natural Bug Spray/Balm with Lemon Eucalyptus

I have been seeing LOTS of posts about Lemon Eucalyptus Oil as a natural bug repellent lately.


Here are the recipes I use for natural Bug Spray-- and Bug Balm.  The spray is based in water/witch hazel and the balm is beeswax/coconut oil based.

I did a bit of a mashup of different recipes I found online.

Check out my Instagram to see videos of me making both recipes.

2 oz distilled water
1 oz Witch hazel (real stuff, not the $1 bottle)
30 drops Lemon Eucalyptus oil
10 drops tea tree oil
Mix! Pour into spray bottle.

Bug Balm Repellent

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp beeswax
Melt those two…
Then add…
5 drops each:
Lemon eucalyptus oil
Lavender oil
Citronella oil

Pour into small glass jar and allow to cool for 2 hours

Monday, May 29, 2017

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

I got this recipe from Epicurious-- find the original here.

I modified it to the below for my family.

Makes 8 servings


    • 4 medium sweet potatoes 
    • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
    • 1/2 cup red onion, coarsely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 2 cans black beans, rinsed, drained
    • 1.5 cups water + 1 vegan bullion cube
    • 2 ripe avocados, mashed
    • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, divided
    • Juice of 1 lime
    • 2 cups baby spinach, chopped
    • 1 cup feta
    • Tortilla chips (optional; for serving)


    1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Brush with avocado oil, roast for 60 min
    2. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium skillet over medium. Add onion and half of garlic and cook, stirring, until onion starts to release moisture and turns translucent, 2–3 minutes. Add beans, broth, spices, and cook until liquid is reduced and beans soften, about 10 minutes.
    3. Meanwhile, mash avocado and lime juice, add salt to taste 
    4. Using the back of a spoon, gently push down in center of potato halves to create a divot. Spoon bean mixture into potato halves, then top evenly with  avocado mixture, feta, cilantro and spinach.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Cabbage Crunch Jr.

Whole Foods has this item on the salad bar I LOVE.
It's called Cabbage Crunch.
It is delicious.
Sometimes they don't have it, so I took a stab at replicating it.  It is almost as good.

1 head green organic cabbage, shredded
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (Bragg's)
1/8 cup black sesame seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1/8 cup avocado oil
Real Salt to taste

Mix it all in a  bowl and refrigerate!

Good for 5-7 days-- this picture is on day 6 and still tasted great.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Homemade Granola Bars #2

You may have seen the other homemade granola bars I make on this post.
These are a little easier to make (less steps, maybe 1-2 less ingredients)...

4 cups 365 brand rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped almonds (from bulk at Whole Foods)
1/4 cup chopped salty peanuts
1/4 cup 365 brand light brown sugar

1/2 cup organic applesauce, unsweetened
1 cup 365 brand peanut butter (natural is key)
1/4 cup 365 brand honey
1/2 cup 365 brand mini chocolate chips

Mix first 4 ingredients in large bowl

Add other ingredients and mix very very well

Spread onto bar pan and pack down--- put a sheet of parchment paper over the mixture and really spread it out and pack in down tight (slap it!)

Cut in to 4 rows of 7 and store in refrigerator up to 1 week (probably fine longer than this but may not taste as good)
Taking for lunch?
Put in a  container (not ziploc) and throw an ice pack into the lunch bag

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Peanut Butter Cups

365 brand creamy peanut butter
365 brand dark chocolate chunks

In a 12-count muffin pan, line with paper muffin wrappers

Melt half a bag of the chocolate
Spoon one spoonful into each paper cup and spread out (thin layer)
Freeze 10 mins
Now spread out 1 spoonful on peanut butter in each (on top)
Freeze 20 minutes
Now another layer of chocolate
Keep in freezer up to a week-- enjoy!

Half a bag of chocolate chunks should make these 12 cups

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Emily's 6 Biggest Cost Saving Tips at Whole Foods

Family of 5 on a Budget: 12 meals for $103


5 people. 

$103.  12 meals-- all ingredients purchased at Whole Foods.

I get requests for this all the time... LEAST expensive, but still fairly healthy meals.
I've put together my top 12 inexpensive meals-- all calculated based on Whole Foods prices-- I buy everything at Whole Foods. (Obviously.)

This is 12 meals for a family of 5 using approximately* $103-- so 2 weeks of dinners.
In many cases there will be leftovers that can be used the next day for lunch, or on the 7th night if you want to try to do 7 dinners for $50.

This list was not created in an effort to make sure your diet is well rounded (although it's fairly healthy.)  This list was created for those weeks when you have to get your grocery budget to stretch super tight.  Or, for months when you have an unexpected expense and had to dip into grocery money to cover it--this is for THAT.

When I tell people I blog/Instagram about how to shop & save at Whole Foods, some are really surprised.  Whole Foods often has an unfair reputation as being too expensive.  Sure... if you want to compare buying "anything-goes" groceries to the items Whole Foods allows (at last count they have 81 ingredients banned from being on their shelves), then technically there are many items that are "cheaper" at another grocery store.  But, I stick to a tight budget-- and over time I slowly gave up all other stores for Whole Foods.  (I still buy ONE thing at Publix-- olives.  It's the only 365 Brand item I don't totally love-- but I do splurge on the amazing olive bar when I can.)  But Whole Foods wins out in terms of lower cost for healthy/natural/responsible ingredients.

The reason I'd rather figure out how to shop at Whole Foods is simple.  I would rather pay the farmer than the doctor.  And to get real for a second here--- with healthcare the way it is at this moment-- this is more important to me for my family than ever.  Quality ingredients, sustainable, healthy--- and foods that will improve my health, not diminish it.

Let's do it

All of these are vegetarian, some are also vegan, and some are also gluten free.
Click on the meal to go to the recipe.

Week 1:  (serves 5 people)

1.  Lentil Soup- $7

2.  Quesadillas- $8

3.  Pasta Salad- $8

4.  Barley Soup- $7

5.  Frittata- $8

6.  Shepherd's Pie - $12 (you will have enough to make this again, though)

$50 total

Week 2:  (serves 5 people)

7.  Mac & Cheese- $9

8.  5 Bean Chili- $11

9.  Loaded Baked Potatoes-$9

10.  Pizza- $9

11.  Nachos- $8

12.  Avocado Pasta - $7- boil pasta, top with avocado, salt, olive oil, garlic- simple!

$53 total

I also have a great Split Pea Soup recipe here that costs $6 to make-- you could sub that in for one of the $11 or $12 meals above and the total cost would be even a couple dollars under $100.

Tag me if you try any of these recipe @ilovewholefoods
Eat well & have fun!


*I say approximately because, for example, this week avocados are $1 each at Whole Foods, but in the off season they may be $2.50-- so it's an average.

***The above costs assume you have spices and condiments already.  (Salt, pepper, cumin, thyme, olive oil, etc) Even if you don't have them you could technically make it without-- they'd just be blander!  If you are starting from scratch and have no spices, try to buy 1-2 new species a week if you can budget for it.

Sunday, January 29, 2017


The trick to saving on this super cheap meal is to make your own tortillas.
If you buy your own, you're going to probably double the cost of this recipe.
Here's my recipe.

1 can 365 brand black beans
Shredded cheese (to taste-- I only use 1 tablespoon per tortilla)

Optional:  Onion, tomato, jalepeno, salsa, sour cream, avocado

I like to make my quesadillas in a  panini maker, but you can just do it in a  pan, too.
Sprinkle in your beans and cheese, and press/pan fry for a few minutes (stay close by)-- the end!
You can make really full quesadillas and this will make about 6 big ones-- or you can make 10-12 tortillas and just spread the beans a little further.  The nice one about this recipe, is if you always have flour & canned black beans on hand-- you don't really need much to make this happen.

One in the panini maker, finished ones been cut up, and a tortilla cooking.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Mac & Cheese

Well, there's nothing healthy about this one, but it is delicious and the ingredients only run about $9!

1 package boiled pasta- elbows
12 oz shredded cheddar
1 brick cream cheese
1 stick butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups almond milk (any milk)

After boiling pasta and setting aside, melt butter in large pot
add flour and mix
add milk
whisk til creamy
add cheeses
whisk til creamy
Add elbows and mix
Pour mixture into casserole dish
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes


This is my current go-to when I don't feel like cooking.

It is somewhat healthy, inexpensive, but more of all... easy.

1 bag of 365 brand organic blue corn tortilla chips
1 bag 365 shredded cheddar- to taste, i only use about 1/2 cup
1 can 365 black beans

Makes 2 batches-- use half of everything, then make again

everything else is optional!  You can leave it at the above if you want.
Melt at 375 for 6-10 minutes

Optional... jalepeno, sour cream, salsa, avocado, onion, anything!