It’s fall!!! Well – let me rephrase, it’s fall [wherever you are]. Here in Florida, we are super happy when we hit 70. Nonetheless, I LOVE THIS DISH and this season. I was actually never too into the original shepherd’s pie but this puppy is AMAZING and a must for fall. It’s easy peasy and lasts through the week! Lots of fiber and delicious plant based protein!
4 medium sweet potatoes [or potato of your choice]
3/4 cup diced onions
3/4 cup diced celery
2/4 cup diced carrots
4 1/2 cups prepared lentils
2 diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon basil + more for garnish
1/2 cup chopped spinach
2 tablespoons non-dairy milk [we used almond]
Salt to taste
2 Tbsp Butter [optional]
Preheat oven to 350
Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into small chunks. Get them in a pot of water and let them boil for at least 15-20 minutes, depending on size.
Chop the carrots, onion, and celery. Add this to a large skillet over medium heat with a tablespoon of water and allow them to soften.
Once the veggies are softened, add the prepared lentils to the pan [you can use any kind of lentils you’d like. I used dried and cooked them myself on the stove first].
Allow to cook for several minutes
Add diced tomatoes
Add tablespoon of chopped (or dried) basil leaves, a handful of chopped spinach, and a splash of soy sauce. Let this filling simmer for 10-15 minutes.
When the sweet potatoes are soft all the way through, remove them from the heat and drain the water. Mash with a little salt and a splash of non-dairy milk until the consistency is perfect. If you are not vegan, feel free to add 2 tablespoons of butter [this is not necessary].
Add the lentil filling to a 9 x 13 pan and top with a layer of sweet potatoes. Or you can add to individual oven-safe bowls. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until the topping becomes slightly browned. Allow to cool before serving.
This is slightly tweaked from my mom’s recipe because we try to avoid red meat where we can. I used ground turkey but you can use whatever your heart desires. My mom throws in short ribs, spare ribs, sausage and regular beef meatballs! Love this sauce with everything from spaghetti squash to lasagna to Banza pasta! It. is. by. far. my favorite red sauce!
1 Can Progresso tomato puree
1 12 oz can of tomato paste
2 Tbsp Sugar [we used coconut sugar]
1 large, yellow onion [sliced]
1/2 Tsp of oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 lbs ground turkey
In a large pot mix all ingredients except the onion and add enough water to fill puree can twice. Sauce should not be thick
Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer
In a large frying pan, brown any meat that you are going to add to the sauce [if necessary add a tbsp or two of olive oil to the frying pan- I did not add any]
When you have finished browning meat, add meat to the red sauce BUT DO NOT THROW AWAY DRIPPINGS FROM MEAT
Saute onion in the drippings from the meat until the onion is tender, scrape the onion and all drippings into the sauce pot
Let sauce with meat simmer [covered] for about 45 minutes to 1 hour
if sauce begins to get thick, add water to desired consistency while still cooking
Oil and grease from the meat will rise to the top of the sauce when it is done. You can skim it off before you serve
This is by far Patrick’s favorite thing that my mom has ever made for him. Which is of course, why he asked me to make it on his birthday this year [with meat sauce]. If you are ever looking for a recipe to please a crowd, this is definitely it!! The beauty is it lasts all week and is family friendly. If you’re vegan, skip the meat sauce and use vegan cheese to make it plant based!
1 box of whole wheat lasagna
1 lb of ricotta
1 lb mozzarella [sliced thin or grated. i used freshed, sliced mozarella]
1/2 C grated Locatelli cheese [it’s the only Parmesan we use. in the refrigerated section]
If you all follow us on Instagram, you know we recently celebrated Patrick’s birthday with his favorite dessert [aka carrot cake cheesecake]. This is now my 4th time trying out different recipes and this is by far my favorite. Just know, the cake is large and you will definitely have lots to share. If you’d like it to be smaller, we recommend cutting the recipe in half! This cake is a bit time consuming [about 2 hours] but well worth it for special occasions!
recipe adapted from: life, love and sugar
24 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
20 oz peeled raw carrots
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut in cubes
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 large egg white
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
8 Medjool Dates, diced
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp all spice
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
whipped cream cheese frosting
16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 1/2 cups chopped pecans and/or walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line the entire inside of a 9 inch cake pan with aluminum foil. Press it into the pan to get it as flat as you can. Grease [we sprayed olive oil]. You’ll use the aluminum foil to lift the cheesecake out of the pan when it’s baked and cooled.
2. In a large mixer bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar and flour together until combined. Use low speed to keep less air from getting into the batter, which can cause cracks. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract and and cinnamon and mix on low speed until well combined.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
5. Pour the cheesecake batter into the lined cake pan.
6. Place the cake pan inside another larger pan. I use a larger cake pan, but you can use a roasting pan or any other larger baking pan. Fill the outside pan with enough warm water to go about halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake for 1 hour.
7. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door closed for 30 minutes. Do not open the door or you’ll release the heat.
8. Crack oven door and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another 30 minutes. This cooling process helps the cheesecake cool slowly to prevent cracks.
9. Remove cheesecake from oven and chill until firm, 5-6 hours.
10. Puree carrots in food processor.
11. Preheat the oven to 350°F.Line the bottom of two 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease the sides.
13. In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light in color and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Don’t skimp on the creaming time.
14. Add the vanilla extract and vegetable oil and mix until combined.
15. Add the eggs one at a time
16. Add the egg white and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is combined.
17. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
18. Add half of the flour mixture to the batter and mix until combined.
19. Add the carrot puree to the batter and mix until combined.
20. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until well combined and smooth.
21. Stir in the coconut flakes and dates. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to ensure everything is well combined.
22. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs.
23. Remove cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 3-4 minutes, then remove from the pans to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
Frosting + Assembly:
24. Add the cream cheese to a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth, then set aside.
25. Add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon to another bowl and whip until soft peaks form.
26. Add the cream cheese to the whipped cream and whip until stiff peaks form. It will happen fairly quickly. Set whipped frosting in the refrigerator.
27. Use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the two carrot cakes.
28. Place the first layer of cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round. Spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake layer.
29. Use the aluminum foil to lift the cheesecake out of the cake pan, remove the foil and place the cheesecake on top of the cake.
30. Spread another cup of frosting evenly on top of the cheesecake, then add the second layer of cake on top. If the sides of the cake don’t line up, use a serrated knife to trim off the excess cake or cheesecake.
31. Frost the outside of the cake
33. Sprinkle nuts on top of cake.
It’s been awhile since we posted a fantastic dessert recipe, so HERE. IT. IS. The best cookie of all time. There is only ONE way I love my cookies and that is super chewy/gooey. The key to this is making your cookies HUGE. Yes, that is the answer. I am still all about portion control sooo I typically cut our gigantic cookies in half or in fourths depending how I’m feeling/how hungry! Definitely give these guys a try and if you prefer crunch, just make them a bit smaller!
There are two ways to make this recipe depending on how decadent you want to get or what the occasion is! Try subbing half the butter for applesauce to decrease some of that saturated fat! Delicious both ways, if you are bringing to an event or if it is an occasion or if you just feel like the real thing, we recommend keeping the recipe as is. It definitely is a cookie that will impress!!!
1 C Butter [cut into cubes for easier mixing] As mentioned above you can sub half of the butter for applesauce
1 C Brown Sugar
1/2 C Sugar [we used coconut sugar]
2 Eggs [we used vital farms]
2 1/2 C Flour [we used 100% whole wheat]
1/2 C Coconut Flour [if you don’t have it, just add another 1/2 of reg flour or whatever you used for the above- we just love that little hint of coconut]
1 Tsp Corn starch
3/4 Tsp Baking soda
1 Tsp Salt
2 C Chocolate Chips
1 C Walnuts Chopped
1 Package of Pistachio Pudding Mix OR 1 C Pistachios [this step is optional]
Preheat oven to 410 degrees
In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, and regular sugar until creamy
Add eggs one at a time
Stir in flours, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Mix just until combined without over mixing
Stir in chocolate chips, walnuts and/or pistachios
Separate dough into LARGE balls and place on pre-greased cookie sheet.
The dough should make 8 extra large cookies [they will look gigantic]
Bake for 9-12 minutes. They will look like they are not thoroughly cooked but they are!
First off, if you feel like you are “all over the place” with your thoughts on this topic, that’s because it’s a very challenging topic to study. It would be “unethical” to do the kind of studies necessary on humans to more definitively say if pesticides, specifically glyphosate [from round up], is safe for humans- that’s why, a majority of the research has been done on animals. Typically, I don’t love research that has only been done on animals but you have to take what you’ve got sometimes! HOWEVER, the fact that it would be “unethical” to do it on humans should tell you something right there. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the health effects of pesticides are not well understood, but their use has been associated with conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and neurological effects. 
Glyphosate: a broad-spectrum contact herbicide to kill weeds in fields prior to the planting of crops. It was also approved for weed control in a variety of non-crop settings. Glyphosate use is the highest of any pesticide in the USA.
GBHs: glyphosate-based herbicides. They are always used as a mixture of glyphosate plus numerous other so called inert ingredients, which are added to alter the herbicide’s physicochemical properties and enhance its herbicidal action. Unfortunately, the full list of these chemicals, collectively known as adjuvants or coformulants, is treated as a “trade secret” by the manufacturers. The composition of GBHs are unknown. GBHs have been shown to be more toxic than glyphosate.
Pros of GMOs + Pesticides: We as consumers often reap the benefits of pesticide use with lower costs and a wider selection of food and clothing. As a way of conserving food supply and lower food costs, they also help to combat hunger and related problems in various parts of the world. 
What we know:
Current safety assessments rely heavily on studies conducted over 30 years ago 
The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) made the decision in 2015 to classify glyphosate as a grade 2A probable human carcinogen followed an extensive review and evaluation of the weight of all available evidence.  The outcome was driven by: (1) limited human evidence from case–control epidemiology studies, including high-quality studies reporting a link with non-Hodgkin lymphoma 
(2) sufficient evidence from unpublished animal studies, which identified an elevated frequency of rare kidney tumors in male mice, hemangiosarcoma in male mice, pancreatic islet-cell adenoma in male rats, and skin tumours and other non-malignant growths in mice and 
(3) strong mechanistic evidence, such as numerous studies demonstrating that glyphosate is genotoxic and can induce oxidative stress in humans, human cells, non-human mammals and non-mammalian species. Some of these studies also suggest increases in lymphoma in male mice exposed even to the lowest doses evaluated (14.5 mg/kg/day). 
HOWEVER. Joint meeting on pesticides residues (JMPR) of the WHO used the IARC hazard assessment evaluation (the one mentioned above, concluding that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen) to establish a safe level of exposure for humans JMPR would not exclude the possibility that glyphosate is a human carcinogen, but concluded that it ‘is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet’. There is a lotttttt of drama with the conclusion JMPR came to as far as establishing a safe level of exposure. They drew their conclusions based only on studies of glyphosate alone; studies of GBHs were not included in the EFSA assessment. The problem with this, is that GBHs have been found to be more harmful than glyphosate alone. Also, studies conducted that suggest causal links between glyphosate and cancer in exposed rodents have been dismissed by agencies including the EPA and EFSA due to speculation about a viral infection in the animal colony, even though no adverse health effects of such an infection have been shown 
Epidemiology studies suggest associations between GBH exposures and adverse health outcomes including chronic kidney disease and some cancers 
Unexplained chronic kidney disease has killed thousands of rice farm workers in Sri Lanka and sugarcane workers in Central America; exposure to herbicides including GBHs has been documented in some of these populations. Some have attributed these issues to dehydration [AKA more research needs to be had before the blame can 100% be placed on pesticides alone]
A number of studies have evaluated the association between exposures to GBHs and other health effects in humans including cancer. In fact, some of the most compelling studies in human populations suggest associations between GBHs and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. 
Exposure to large amounts of pesticides is usually more likely for people such as farmers who may frequently touch and/or breathe in pesticides. 
The effects of long-term exposure to small amounts of these pesticides are unclear, but studies have linked them to a variety of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and neurological defects. 
Studies have shown preliminary evidence that chronic, low-dose exposure to pesticides increases the risk of cognitive impairments and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s later in life 
A study of 50 pesticides and more than 30,000 licensed pesticide applicators linked exposure of seven pesticides that contain chlorinated compounds (including two herbicides, two organophosphate insecticides, and two organochlorines) to increased risk of diabetes . Exposure to pesticides has also been associated with increased infertility in women and developmental problems in children 
Research also shows that pesticides may have a negative impact on the microbiome.
Where is it BANNED + why [from organicconsumers.org April 2018]
• Belgium: In 2017, the Flemish government banned individual use of glyphosate and voted against reliciensing glyphosate in the EU. • Bermuda: The island outlawed the private and commercial sale of all glyphosate-based herbicides. • Colombia: In 2015, the country forbid the use of glyphosate to eliminate illegal plantations of coca, often used to make cocaine, due to concern that the herbicide causes cancer. However in 2017, the country reinstituted its controversial fumigation program. But instead of using aerial fumigation, glyphosate is now sprayed manually, from the ground. • Netherlands: Dutch officials have banned all non-commercial use of glyphosate. • Sri Lanka: In 2014, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa mandated an all-out ban on glyphosate, following a study linking Roundup to Fatal Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), the second-leading cause of death among males in the country. Sri Lanka was the first country to issue a nationwide ban on glyphosate. • El Salvador: Passed a law banning glyphosate, citing the same study linking fatal chronic kidney disease to Roundup. • Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, have stopped glyphosate use. • France: President Emmanuel Macron announced in Novemenber 2017, an outright ban on glyphosate, to take effect “within three years.”
Choosing organic + what it means:
I’m going to say something that you guys probably aren’t going to love + I certainly don’t love it either. While organic farming certifications prohibit the use of glyphosate, organic products do not always end up completely free of glyphosate residue. This is because glyphosate use has skyrocketed in the past decade, and it maintains the ability to adhere to water and soil particles long enough to travel through the air or in a stream to nearby organic farms. It’s presence in the environment is nearly unavoidable. 
How we see it:
The lack of conclusive evidence ruling out negative effects of chronic exposure to low doses of pesticides means that we should still work to minimize exposure to pesticides when possible . Would I choose a job where I am working with round up daily and in large quantities? Absolutely not. Do we choose organic when we can? Most of the time but honestly, not always. When we eat out, we know that we aren’t being served all organic, and we are both totally fine with it. Everything comes down to – how much you’re having. Many things become toxic when you over consume. Even vitamins! The problem is that the research is not wonderful as to what that toxicity threshold is for glyphosate and GBHs. “The verdict is still out about pesticides and fertilizers as far as the long-term impact on health. There are so many other variables in the environment. It’s hard to say it’s the pesticide on the peach that was the primary cause of a health-related issue,” says Kathy McManus [Registered Dietitian, Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital].
Our recommendations: We recommend that people eat healthy by eating more fruits and vegetables, whether conventional or organic. Choose organic when you can/if you can, but don’t go broke over it + do not avoid fruits/veggies etc because of the possibility of glyphosate contamination. The benefits outweigh the unconfirmed risks. If you are planning on choosing organic but don’t know where to begin. I agree with Kathy McManus’s, RD from Harvard Health, recommendation to start with the dirty dozen + clean fifteen. The purpose is not to decide for you to choose organic but that if you WANT to choose some foods that are organic, to choose the ones that have a higher pesticide residue [typically those fruits and veggies without a tough skin and more surface area]. If you want to stick with conventional and wait for more research- that’s awesome too! Note: Research has shown that even those fruits + veggies on in the “dirty dozen” list are several orders of magnitude below levels required to cause any biological effect. As a result, the potential for synergistic effects resulting from pesticide combinations is negligible [aka even if you are choosing something conventional from the dirty dozen list, it’s still way under harmful limits]
2018 Dirty Dozen: strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and sweet bell peppers.
2018 Clean Fifteen [these foods had low pesticide residue according to EWG]: avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbages, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplants, honeydews, kiwis, cantaloupes, cauliflower and broccoli.
Organic + Being Judgey
Just don’t judge. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Kind of my personal thoughts on choosing organic or not choosing organic. If you’re buying fruits + veggies no matter what kind- that’s a win! If you follow me on instagram, I talk a lot about my “every day” folder compared to my “once in awhile”. Same goes with choosing organic. The answer is- we don’t know if it’s 100% safe and that’s why we choose organic most of the time! A lot of people don’t want to say “I don’t know”. But sometimes- that is the answer! Can you say 100% that someone’s NHL (non-Hodgkin lymphoma) was not caused by using round up every day of their lives. Chances are, you can’t. What we do know, is that choosing organic over conventional, has likely never harmed/killed someone. Plus, some people choose organic for other reasons (ex: animal welfare, environment, or they prefer the taste). My point: don’t judge anyone’s decision to choose organic or to not choose organic. It’s their body and their prerogative.
Towards the future:
There is current research oh glyphosate that is to be released from the EPA and FDA in 2019 on safety of glyphosate in diet.
Want to read a little more?? I found this on Mayo Clinic:
There is a growing body of evidence that shows some potential health benefits of organic foods when compared with conventionally grown foods. While these studies have shown differences in the food, there is limited information to draw conclusions about how these differences translate into overall health benefits. 
Potential benefits include the following:
Nutrients. Studies have shown small to moderate increases in some nutrients in organic produce. The best evidence of a significant increase is in certain types of flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties. 
Omega-3 fatty acids. The feeding requirements for organic livestock farming, such as the primary use of grass and alfalfa for cattle, result in generally higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, a kind of fat that is more heart healthy than other fats. These higher omega-3 fatty acids are found in organic meats, dairy and eggs. 
Toxic metal. Cadmium is a toxic chemical naturally found in soils and absorbed by plants. Studies have shown significantly lower cadmium levels in organic grains, but not fruits and vegetables, when compared with conventionally grown crops. The lower cadmium levels in organic grains may be related to the ban on synthetic fertilizers in organic farming. 
Pesticide residue. Compared with conventionally grown produce, organically grown produce has lower detectable levels of pesticide residue. Organic produce may have residue because of pesticides approved for organic farming or because of airborne pesticides from conventional farms. The difference in health outcomes is unclear because of safety regulations for maximum levels of residue allowed on conventional produce. 
Bacteria. Meats produced conventionally may have a higher occurrence of bacteria resistant to antibiotic treatment. 
As you all know, if you follow us on the wonderful world of Instagram, burritos are one of my absolute favorite foods. So why not bundle up a whole bunch, throw them in a pan and call them enchiladas! We made half with ground turkey meat and half with veggies and beans. You can always mix up your personal protein preference.
This was actually our first enchilada go around [homemade] and Patrick said, I really outdid myself aka a definite WIN!! They were so yummy, so easy and great for the whole week.
Note: We had some bell peppers in the house and stuffed them with all the left over ingredients! If you want to do this too, have some extra on hand!
Enchilada Sauce [it was a week night and we opted to use Trader Joe’s brand. It has 220mg of sodium per 1/4 C, not too bad because we definitely did not use that much on each enchilada]
1 small can of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
2lb ground turkey [or your choice of meat/beans]
1 Can of vegetarian refried beans [by choosing vegetarian, you are eliminating the lard/bacon fat that many regular brands contain]
You can use taco seasoning of choice [we like hot + spicy or our own homemade seasoning – see below]
2 sliced jalapenos
Mexican shredded cheese [can omit or use vegan cheese]
1 diced yellow onion
2 diced yellow, red or orange bell peppers
Plain Greek yogurt or sour cream to top
2 chopped scallions
purple potatoes [about 10 small potatoes- ours were about the size of a ping pong ball. if yours are larger, use less]
no salt added canned corn
Avocado to top
optional spicy taco seasoning [you can use this to season beans and/or meat]
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 ½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. paprika
1 tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. red pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Spray 13 x 9 glass baking dish with olive oil + set aside
Bring pot of water to boil + add purple potatoes. Take them off heat once you are able to easily place a fork through it. Drain + set potatoes aside.
Follow instructions to cook ground turkey meat and add taco seasoning [if you are using beans in place of meat, sauté beans in a pan with taco seasoning as well]
Add diced onion and bell peppers to ground meat [or bean]/taco seasoning mixture and sauté until golden
Add chipotle chilis to ground meat [or bean] mixture
Dice purple potatoes. Ours were small to begin with and we diced them into fours.
Once bean or meat mixture is cooked thoroughly, take your first tortilla and layer with bean or meat mixture, then dollop refried beans, then sprinkle corn, then add purple potatoes. Add your enchilada [open side faced down] on your prepped baking dish
Continue until you use all of the tortillas
Pour enchilada sauce over
Then sprinkle cheese [vegan or regular] to taste on top
Sprinkle sliced jalapenos and chopped scallions on top
Cover with tin foil
Bake for 25 minutes
Take off tin foil, then broil for 2-5 min until top is browned
Allow to cool + enjoy with some delish avocado, hot sauce + Greek yogurt or sour cream!