Mother’s Day

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Happy Mother’s Day, Grandma’s Day, Auntie Day, Special Person Day!

This is a hard post to write, not because it’s Mother’s Day (that is hard) but because I’m really letting stuff out. Letting things go. When I started my blogging journey, I wanted it to be authentic, not realizing how open I was really going to be.

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I haven’t really processed my momma’s death. It actually started to sink in a couple of months ago that she is actually gone. I have barely cried since she passed and have put on this face, this mask, that everything is okay. Last year, it was so fresh, so new. My family took my grandmother out to lunch and celebrated her. We acknowledged that my mom wasn’t there but kind of swept it under the rug.

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I have really started realizing that my mom is gone. It hurts so much. Sometimes the pain is unbearable. I wrote this note exactly one month ago from today…

There are times you miss your mom so much. The pain is unbearable. You have a choice… what do you do? Let it take over or hide it. Hide it in a deep, dark place thinking that it is helping you. To hide it. To suppress it. But it’s not. My therapist told me that covering it up with alcohol and drugs, makes you not actually feel it. To go through the grieving process. To fully accept what has happened. To feel for real. It’s been over a year and it’s the first time I have really cried since my mom has passed. Like the ugly cry where your face gets all scrunched up and you cry so hard you can’t breathe. The one where you can’t stop and snot is running down your face. The kind where you can’t catch your breath. Wishing that it wasn’t real but knowing that this it is. She isn’t coming back. Ever. Maybe in dreams or sunsets or feathers. But not physically here. Gone. Never coming back. Having to accept and understand that. Being the strong one in my family, I had to be the one. The one who took over and made sure everything was okay. Ran smoothly. Hide my Feelings. Be okay when I wasn’t. To put a half hazard smile on and greet people. To accept their words. To know your mom is dead. To accept that. It took a while, for me over a year. My mom, who was my best friend… my sister, my mother, my father, my friend …. my best friend. The beautiful soul she was. The bright light in many people’s day. My mom.

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I wrote that while I was ugly crying, not knowing what to do.  My emotions were everywhere and I didn’t know how to make it stop.  At that point, I didn’t even know if I was going to stop crying.

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All these beautiful memories… the pictures, her words. The love that comes through them.  That is where I find happiness and sadness all at the same time. It is hard to lose someone. It is hard to lose a family member.  It is hard to lose someone you are so close to. It is even harder to lose your person.

Xoxo

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Shrimp Tacos with Mango Slaw

Shrimp Tacos with Mango Slaw

Just in time for Taco Tuesday and the Cinco de Mayo!!! 

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OH MY GOODNESS!!! These were sooooo good!!! It’s the perfect touch of spice with creamy slaw. The mango takes it to a whole new level. I like to experiment with different flavors of spicy and sweet. This is the perfect combination, if you ask me!

 

What You Need:

Raw Shrimp (peeled and deveined)

Drizzle of Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

1 Clove of Crushed Garlic

2 teaspoons Crushed Red Pepper

Corn Tortillas

Salsa

Guacamole

What You Need for the Slaw:

1 cup Shredded Cabbage

1 cup Shredded Purple Cabbage

½ cup Shredded Carrots

¼ cup Olive Oil

¼ cup Water

¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar

2 Cloves of Crushed Garlic

½ cup Plain Greek Yogurt

Juice of Two Limes

Salt and Pepper

2 Mangos, sliced and diced

What You Need To Do:

Make the slaw ahead of time and let it sit for at least an hour in the refrigerator before serving. In a large bowl, add both cabbages and carrots. In a small bowl, mix together the wet ingredients with the spices and garlic. Once incorporated, pour into the large bowl and mix together. Add in the mangos and stir again. Let the slaw sit in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle a light coat of olive oil on a baking pan. Place peeled shrimp, garlic, and spices on the baking pan. Mix and cook in oven for about 8 minutes (depending on the size of your shrimp). You will know they are cooked when the shrimp turn pink and curl a bit. If they curl too much, they will be over cooked. Let the shrimp cool for a minute.

Take a warm corn tortilla and fill the bottom with shrimp. Layer on guacamole and salsa (if you like). Top with the mango slaw and enjoy! xoxo

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Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Chocolate Avocado Mousse 

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Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone! I hope we are all enjoying the day and spreading love throughout. I made a healthier version of a chocolate mousse that feels decadent but is made from healthy fats.

 

What You Need:

1 Ripe Avocado

1/4 cup Cocoa Powder

1/2 cup Melted, Dark Chocolate Chips

1 Tablespoon Honey

1/4 cup Coconut Milk

Pinch of Salt

Raspberries or Strawberries

Whipped Cream

What To Do:

In a food processor, pulse all the ingredients until you get a creamy consistency. Put into prepared mini cups and put in the refrigerator until cold. I left mine in the refrigerator over night. When chilled, top with whipped cream and your favorite berry. You won’t believe how decadent and rich this tastes!

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Enjoy xoxo

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Vegan Heart Pancakes

Vegan Heart Pancakes

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Everywhere you go, all you see is a massive amounts of hearts and roses, etc. The cool thing would be if we celebrate love all the time and not on one designated day. Either way, I love anything love related and played around with my pancake recipe to try and make them fluffier and vegan.

It sounds a little crazy to add vinegar to pancakes. I was a little nervous at first. I didn’t want the flavor to affect the pancakes. I used apple cider vinegar because it is a sweeter vinegar and really good for you. A little chemistry lesson here (sorry it’s the teacher in me). When you mix an acid (vinegar) and a base (baking powder), a chemical reaction occurs. You have heard of the volcano experiment where you mix together baking soda and vinegar, the chemical reaction happens right away and forms carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide produces lots of bubbles and boom, volcano. Well, baking powder has baking soda in it but needs to be heated to form that chemical reaction with the bubbles. When you mix in the vinegar, you will see some bubbles (that’s the baking soda) but what you won’t see is the pancake mix getting air bubbles incorporated into it. When heated, it will produce fluffier pancakes. Okay lesson complete… back to baking.

What You Need:

1 cup Gluten Free Baking Flour

1 tablespoon Organic Cane Sugar

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1/8 teaspoon Salt

2 tablespoons Coconut Oil

1 cup Soy Milk

1/2 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar

Organic Red Food Dye (4 drops)

Coconut Spray

What To Do:

In a mixing bowl, combine all your dry ingredients. Mix to incorporate the ingredients. Then add all your wet ingredients and mix. You will notice when you add the vinegar, it will bubble a bit. Don’t worry! We have had our chemistry lesson 🙂

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In a skillet under medium heat, spray with coconut oil. I made my pancakes into hearts but you can make any shape you want. I didn’t have any heart cookie cutters so I free-handed it. The first  ones were lopsided but I eventually got the hang of it.

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I topped mine with vegan butter and real maple syrup, not the processed kind that is just chemicals.

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Enjoy xoxo

Gluten Free Margarita Pizza

Happy National Pizza Day!

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So I know yesterday was National Pizza Day but I had no power due to the massive snowstorm in Massachusetts.  So for me and my friends, today is National Pizza Day!

What You Need:

Pizza Dough Mix

Tomato Sauce (check out my easy tomato sauce under Sunday Dinner)

Fresh Mozzarella

Fresh Basil

What To Do: 

Make your pizza dough according to the mix.  I used Bob’s Red Mill pizza dough. First I had the yeast mix, then stirred in eggs and oil.  I let it sit for 20 minutes.

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After your dough has rested, put a little gluten free flour on the counter and roll out the dough.

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Put the dough on top of a baking pan sprayed with olive oil.

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Put a layer of tomato sauce on the dough.  Then top with fresh mozzarella and basil.

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Bake in the oven for 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until the top is bubbly.

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Enjoy with friends and a nice glass of wine xo

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Gluten Free Buffalo Chicken Dip

Gluten Free Buffalo Chicken Dip

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Happy Super Bowl Sunday!! Although my team isn’t playing in the Super Bowl this year, it is still fun to go to football parties and watch the game. I am more excited for the commercials and the half time show.

This quick buffalo chicken dip is a crowd favorite and sure to please at any party.

What You Need:

2 large chicken breasts, halved

salt and pepper

red pepper

coconut spray

1/2 cup to 1 cup of buffalo sauce (I love Franks Red Hot)

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 package of light or half fat cream cheese, room temperature

1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese (save 1/2 cup for top)

What To Do:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray a baking pan with coconut spray.  Season the chicken breasts with the salt, pepper, and red pepper mixture.  I didn’t included a measurement because everyone likes different combinations of spices.  Cook for about 20-25 minutes, depending on how thick your chicken is.

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Let the chicken cool and when it has cooled off, shred the chicken breast in a bowl, add in the hot sauce and Greek yogurt.  Mix until incorporated.

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Mix in the cream cheese and cheddar cheese.

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Spray a baking pan with the coconut oil spray and put in the dip.  Spread the rest of the cheddar cheese on top and bake for 20ish minutes -you want the top to be melted and bubbly.

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enjoy xo

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Gluten Free French Toast Bake with Apple Compote

Gluten Free French Toast Bake with Apple Compote

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This recipe is perfect for brunch gatherings or for a special breakfast.

 

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What You Need:

1/2 loaf of gluten free sour dough bread, cut in 1 inch pieces

3 eggs

1/3 cup of soy milk

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon apple pie spice

What To Do:

Mix all your ingredients together, except the bread. Soak the bread in the mixture overnight.

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In a casserole dish, layer the soaked bread. Overlap the bread and pour the rest of the mixture on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

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While it is baking, prepare the Apple Compote.

Apple Cinnamon Compote

What You Need:

1 Apple, cored and diced

1 Tablespoon Water

2 Tablespoons Honey

2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon

2 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar

1 Tablespoon of Vegan Butter, melted

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What To Do:

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the apples are soft and the liquids are thick.

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Top the French Toast with the Apple Compote and enjoy! xoxo

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

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I am so happy to close the door to 2016. This year has been one of the most difficult years of my life. Between my mom’s sudden passing and dealing with the emotions with that to my uncle’s passing after he had made so many milestones since the accident. Being with my ex who had brain surgery to us making the difficult decision to not be together anymore. I can’t forget the lessons I learned or how strong I realized I was.

There were happy things that happened too. My cousin got married and two more of my cousins got engaged. The love and bond of my family becoming closer that united us more than we could ever imagine. To the “fierce five” as my aunt calls us who have been through more tragedies than a person should have to endure in a lifetime. To my amazing friends and family who have supported me throughout this difficult year has shown me that I can get through anything. To all my lovegfreelife friends who have helped make my blog successful with their support.

There will always be challenges in life but it is how you react to them that either makes or breaks a person. I have learned this past year to love more, to not hold grudges because you don’t know when it will be the last time you speak to them. Life is precious. It is short and can be taken away at anytime. As I go into 2017, I am choosing love to guide me. “Love is love is love is love”. Happy New Years! Xoxo

 

Gluten Free Cranberry Bread

Gluten Free Cranberry Bread

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This recipe reminds me of my momma so much! She would always make multiple loafs around the holiday season and together we made her recipe gluten free! The bread is the perfect amount of sweet with the tartness from the cranberries. The bread is moist and overall is just delicious!

 

What You Need:

2 Cups of Gluten Free Flour

1 Cup of Sugar

1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1/4 Cup Vegan Butter

1 Egg, beaten

1 Teaspoon Orange Zest

3/4 Cup Orange Juice

1 1/2 Cups Cranberries, diced

Coconut Spray

What To Do:

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl.

Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.

Add in your egg, orange peel, and orange juice and stir until it is evenly mixed in.

Fold in cranberries and put into a greased loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 50-60 minutes. Try to wait until it is cool to eat it. It is hard but it is so good!

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Hope everyone is enjoying the Holiday Season! xoxo

Quick and Easy Taco Dip

Easy Taco Layer Dip

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This is a quick and easy dish to make and bring to a party or for when you have a fiesta at your place. Our Thanksgiving tradition is to have a Mexican Fiesta the day after Thanksgiving. I make my famous fresh margaritas and this year I made this taco layer dip.

I am not going to lie when I said that this Thanksgiving was such a mix of emotions. We were missing two very important people at our table and I didn’t even want to celebrate. This is the first holiday without my mom and recently my uncle also unexpectedly passed away. Our family has been through so much these past two years, so many tragedies and too many deaths. Thankfully, I have the support of my family and friends but it is hard to understand how I am feeling because everyone feels different when a death occurs. I am thankful for my friends and family, my ever-changing health, my dog, my students and coworkers, the support of my lovegfree life community, and being able to share my story along with the struggles that I am facing. Take a minute and reflect on what you are thankful for. Even when it seems like your world is crashing down, there is always something to be thankful for.

What You Need:

Gluten Free Refried Beans

Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt

Gluten Free Taco Seasoning (or you can go back to my taco recipe for a homemade version of my own Taco Seasoning)

Guacamole

Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Tomatoes, diced

Olives, sliced

Lettuce

Tortilla Chips

What To Do:

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In a large baking dish, put down a layer of refried beans.

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Mix together the sour cream/Greek yogurt with the taco seasoning.

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Put the mixture on top of the refried beans and layer on the guacamole and cheddar cheese.

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On top of that, sprinkle the tomatoes, olives, and lettuce.

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Serve the dish cold with tortilla chips and with a delicious fresh strawberry margarita!

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Enjoy xoxo

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