Easy Mac and Cheddar Cheese with Broccoli * Vegetarian

Mac and Cheddar Cheese with Broccoli * Vegetarian 

Hi and welcome back to Ria Lives Well!

I have a large bowl of cheesy deliciousness for you guys!

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It is 100% vegetarian, and can be made vegan by switching from vegetarian cheese to vegan cheese, such as Daiya cheddar.

It came out so well. It was full of flavor and exploded with cheese from my cheddar sauce. I was truly taken by surprise. You see, I winged this mac and cheese recipe. All I wanted was a less expensive, but highly superior version of Amy´s Broccoli and Cheddar Mac and Cheese.

While grocery shopping, I took Amy´s box and purchased all of the ingredients I knew and trusted that were listed on their broccoli cheddar mac. With no ingredient measurements or directions, it was sort of dash as you please in the seasoning department, with full reign on how cheesy, salty or peppery I wanted to make my sauce.

Now, seeing as I am an amateur cook, it could have gone either way, favoring the way of the Epic Fail.

Yet it did not. With a few choice ingredients, this dish was an easy prep, and an epic success.

Ingredients

  • 6 oz Fusilli pasta
  • 1 broccoli stem (broken up into small pieces)
  • Half of 1 white onion (minced)
  • Dash of smoked paprika
  • Dash of red pepper flakes
  • Splash of olive oil (for frying)
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil

For the Cheddar Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 cup non dairy milk (I used cashew milk)
  • 9 oz extra sharp cheddar, vegetarian (Microbial Enzymes), grated
  • Dash of salt
  • Generous dash of pepper

Directions

In a pot, cook pasta until al dente, adding salt for flavor. For 6 ounces of pasta, use roughly 2 quarts of water. Once cooked, set pasta aside.

Prepare your vegetables. Chop half a white onion. Rinse broccoli and remove one stem. Break small pieces of the broccoli florets into a large bowl. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, mixing the flakes thoroughly into the broccoli.

Set a skillet to medium heat. Add one tablespoon of olive oil. Once heated, add your onions. Cook for a few minutes, and then add broccoli, followed by smoked paprika. Cook until broccoli florets soften. Add pasta. Mix until everything is combined. Remove from heat.

Grate cheddar. Set aside.

In a small pot (or use the same pot in which you cooked your pasta), add one tablespoon of olive oil. Set the heat to medium. Once the oil crackles, add one tablespoon of all purpose flour. Mix until flour dissolves smoothly into the olive oil. Add 1 cup of milk, and stir.

Add cheese in small portions, making sure that it melts into the sauce before adding another portion. Stir the sauce and pour it over your broccoli pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy.

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You can eat this cheesy dish as is, or you can turn it into a bake. If I had thought about it, I would have bought panko, sprinkled it over my mac and turned this into an easy mac and cheese bake. I didn´t try it myself, but I would recommend it.

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Broccoli in your face. Enjoy!

But I have no complaints. It turned out cheesy and delicious, and it was easy to make. This recipe is a winner in my house.

For those who follow my Instagram and expected to see this bad boy as my next recipe…it´s coming. I promise. I want to tweak the recipe a bit and make it better. But it will be the next recipe on the blog, so if you are a sandwich guru like me, keep your eyes peeled.

Live Well!

Henna + Castile Protein Shampoo – DIY

Henna + Castile Protein Shampoo – DIY 

Hi and welcome back to Ria Lives Well!

You may now call me a mixologist.

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I’m not what you’d call a DIY person…I think I’ve said this before, but it rings so much truth, it’s worth repeating.

Most of my creations come out whack, or I never use them.

But I do enjoy being crafty in all areas of my life. Making friendship bracelets, vegan protein conditioners, or painting seashells are all things I have done and have enjoyed immensely. I like the idea of throwing myself into a project and seeing it through to the end. I love that feeling of self accomplishment and pride that comes afterward. The pride of creation, completion, success–all that glory good stuff. It’s healthy for the soul.

So if you think about it…DIY projects are good for the soul….

Therefor, instrumental in living well….? Hmm? Maybe?

So the other day, while searching for DIY flee treatments for my cats, I got way off track and googled “homemade shampoo recipes” for myself.

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32 ounces of pure castile peppermint soap!

I used to be that girl who spent tons of money on hair products…but not these days.

These days, I only need a few natural products to get the job done: water, oils, my fave conditioner and {some kind of} shampoo.

The “shampoo” part of my hair regimen varies.

Sometimes I make a cleanser consisting of apple cider vinegar, sometimes I use baking soda-based shampoos, and other times I get lazy and use the chemical crap that’s lying around the house. But when I saw this beautiful recipe of the “Perfect Shampoo” on Pretty Smart Girl, I knew it was a Must-Make recipe, even if it wouldn’t become a staple.

Read Also: ACV Rinse for Hair and Scalp Health!

I liked the original version, but I tweaked it to add a few nutritional benefits to strengthen the hair. So henna happened.

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2.5 year old henna bricks that I stored in the freezer…and it’s still good ;)

Henna + Castile Protein Shampoo

Ingredients

  • 1 cup liquid castile soap (pure, unscented)
  • 1/4 extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 tablespoon of 100% pure body art henna*

Directions

Prepare your henna*.

Pour all ingredients into a bowl and mix until fully combined. Pour into a shampoo bottle.

Apply to hair and scalp. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Rinse. Apply your favorite conditioner.

Store this protein rich castile shampoo in a cool, dry place…not in your shower, or on top of the sink….preferably in the bathroom cabinet.

I made a large batch {doubling the ingredients above} and poured the ‘poo into a large jar. I then poured a small amount into a travel size shampoo/lotion bottle, and stored the larger batch in the freezer.

And that’s pretty much it. How great is that?

Even though this shampoo contains natural ingredients, you should follow up with conditioner. The henna acts as a protein treatment, which gives you strength, but it can also dry out your your hair.

I didn’t follow up with conditioner, because my hair is processed and needs that extra strength. It didn’t dry out my hair. Oh, the contrary. My hair was as soft as when I pay for it to be treated by a pro.

Note: For the light-haired ladies or ladies who have begun to grey, henna will change the color of your hair by darkening it. For ladies who have very dark hair, like me, it may lighten your hair. Lightening changes will not be noticeable unless standing in the sunlight. You can find out more about the color changes at Henna for Hair.

Tip: You can release the dye in henna by storing in the freezer for long periods of time.

I hope you all try this shampoo and enjoy it. If you do, post before and after pictures! I would love to see the results if your color changed.

~Live Well!

Spring Salad Bowl with Fried Nori and Rice – Vegetarian

Spring Salad Bowl with Fried Nori and Rice – Vegetarian 

Hi and welcome back to Ria Lives Well!

I believe in lots of simple ingredients that come together to create a medley of flavor. I also believe in spring salad bowls that are inspired by one of my favorite places to eat, Cafe Yumm.

Since returning to South Florida, I haven’t had a Yumm Bowl in a while. Little did I know, this humble restaurant chain only serves in two states: Oregon and Washington.

Naturally, my decision not to buy Cafe Yumm’s biggest jar of Yumm! Sauce (a blended mystery sauce that can be likened to a healthy version of McDonald’s super sketch “secret sauce”) before leaving Oregon is a decision I regret, hmm…let me think… ev-er-y-day. Just follow that Yumm Sauce link, look at those jars stacked in their slanted row, and you’ll understand why it’s so hard for me to let it go.

But then I realized how easy it is to recreate my own Yumm Bowl, even without the Yumm Sauce.

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So my version, the Spring Salad Bowl, isn’t as fancy as Cafe Yumm’s popular bowls, but on the plus side, it didn’t take long to prepare, and it was every bit as delicious as I expected. And then some. Now let me show you just how easy it is to prepare.

Ingredients:

  • Lettuce
  • Fresh Spinach
  • Tomatoes (chopped or diced)
  • Avocado (thin slices)
  • Cooked rice*
  • Lima Beans* (frozen)
  • Corn* (frozen)
  • Garlic Dressing or Hummus (optional)

Directions:

*Prepare rice in advance, following these instructions on how to cook rice perfectly.

*Cook Lima beans according to instructions on the box.

*Prepare corn according to instructions on the box.

Slice your tomatoes and avocado, choosing an amount to your liking. In a salad bowl, add lettuce and fresh spinach to your choosing (I used roughly one handful of both). Add avocado, tomato, prepped Lima beans and corn. Add cooked rice. While the rice is still warm, shred fried nori over the rice. The steam from the rice will nicely soften the nori.

To replace to the Yumm! Sauce, add a creamy sauce/dressing of your choosing. I went with Marie’s Italian Garlic salad dressing. To keep this spring salad bowl vegan, you can also add a few teaspoons of hummus.

Before adding a creamy element, sprinkle on a small amount of salt and pepper over your salad bowl to help bring out the flavors. Then after a few dollops of sauce, dressing or hummus of your choice, you’re ready to enjoy nature’s bounty.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated!

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After my Spring Salad Bowl, I enjoyed an ice cold bottle of water with sliced lemons. It was so refreshing. These days when I go to the gym, I find that water quenches my thirst but doesn’t give me the necessary energy to keep going. So instead of plain water, I’ve been adding fruits for a boost of natural sugar and a boost of needed energy.  Lemon water has worked like a charm!

But there is one other drink that works better than everything else, and it’s also my latest obsession. The “BIG REVEAL” will be included in my next blog post, but you can head over to my Instagram, where I’ll soon upload a sneaky peaky. :)

~Live Well!

Easy Beet & Bean Vegan Burger Recipe

Easy Beet & Bean Vegan Burger Recipe

Hi and welcome back to Ria Lives Well!

Easy Beet & Bean Vegan Burger

Let me apologize in advance for these crummy photos :)

I’ve been experimenting with vegan burger recipes a lot these days. I actually think I’m getting the hang of it. I love a good burger {big sandwiches in general}, but now that I’m vegan, I can no longer enjoy my favorite meatless burgers. They’re vegetarian. But they definitely aren’t vegan.

So I headed to the kitchen and started cooking.

I’m pleased with my first foray into vegan burgers, pictured above. All I wanted was a simple beet and black been burger with a firm, hearty texture. I wanted it to be simple, with the inclusion of herbs, beans and grains.

It tasted great, and I’m sharing the recipe for this beet and bean burger today. Recipe below. But this is NOT the finished product. I want to improve the flavor. The burger only tasted good when sandwiched between delicious Cobblestone Mill buns and topped with flavorful ingredients. When eaten alone, I wasn’t impressed.

Easy Beet & Bean Burger

Before I get into this recipe, let me mention my second attempt at vegan burgers.

I made these mushroom and black bean burgers, using vegetables like carrots and celery, grains such as oatmeal and flavored it with sauteed garlic and onions. In the end, this mushroom burger had what the beet and bean recipe was missing: fantastic flavor.

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Unfortunately, it lacked in form. Majorly.

It fell apart during my first batch, and when I added more oatmeal flour to bind them, the inside was way too soft. I plan to tweak this recipe and share it later on. Trust me, it’s a killer.

For now, enjoy this vegan burger that tastes perfect both fried and baked {I prefer it fried}.

Easy Beet & Bean Vegan Burger Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can beets
  • 1 cup oatmeal (blended into flour)
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Blend oatmeal into a flour. Prep vegetables: roughly chop onions, and mince fresh parsley.

In a food processor {or blender}, blend 1 can of black beans and 1 can of beets until roughly blended {not runny, like a dip}. Pour “meat” into a medium sized bowl and add oatmeal. Mix until fully incorporated.

Add the final ingredients: onions, parsley, smoked paprika, sea salt and black pepper.

Shape into patties and pop in the oven at 350 deg. F. for 30 minutes, or place on a skillet and fry until each side is crisp and well-cooked.

You can can double the batch and store half in the freezer for a “lazy day.”

Enjoy Even More Easy, Vegan Recipes!

Easy Vegan Beet & Been Burger Recipe

If you want more quick, delicious vegan recipes, make sure to follow me on Instagram where I post DAILY, including recipes I don’t add to my blog!

~Live Well!

4 Morning Habits for a Better Day

4 Morning Habits for a Better Day

Hi and welcome back to Ria Lives Well!

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What’s in a morning? The tone of a day, for starters.

Morning habits are so routine, you may not realize you have any. Because of this, it’s easy to include bad habits into your routine-completely unbeknownst to you. So take a moment to evaluate your morning routine, and if you think it needs improvement, apply these four morning habits to improve your day.

Stretches–Duh!

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Everybody knows that a morning stretch is a morning delicacy! Do you ever wake up feeling soar after a long rest? Maybe your mattress is like mine {old and squeaky}. You’ll end up carrying the pain of a bad bed all day, and that’s a heavy burden to keep. But even if you your mattress is perfect, stretching a a great morning habit to include for mental and physical strength.

When I wake up, I whip out my yoga mat and do this total body stretch. It only lasts a few minutes, but it works like a charm. It removes my aches and increases my flexibility.

Juicing in the Morning 

Don't have a juicer? Try this blended fruit smoothie!
Don’t have a juicer? Try this blended fruit smoothie!

It is said that one of the best times to eat fruits is in the morning. When eaten alone, your body absorbs the nutrients within fruits much better than when paired with other foods. Esma of Cosmo Verde applies this habit every morning.

“I first started making juice because it is healthy and it gives me more energy,” Esma said. “I really like the taste of freshly squeezed fruit and vegetables. My husband and son have even caught on to juicing. They find it fun mixing different fruits and making new flavors.”

What’s the worst time to eat fruits? At night. Fruits are high in sugar, so avoid them hours before bed time. And if you’re like me and don’t have a juicer, blend your fruits instead! Enjoy this fruity tea smoothie recipe to get enough fruits in your morning.

Also Read: Improve your Mood with Aromatherapy Perfumes

Warm Water Mixed with Honey

Did you know that Olympic athletes would use honey to soothe their aching muscles, boost their energy and improve performance?

Over at Herbolution, Sasha and Veronika follow in mighty footsteps.

“Currently, one habit that we practice is to drink a cup of water with some raw local honey,” Veronika said. “This helps to tone bowel muscles and regulate bowel movement quite effectively for Sasha and Volen, our three year old son.”

Most honey has 17 grams of carbohydrates in one tablespoon. Carbohydrates are known to recover soar muscles, which makes honey an ideal ingredient in a pre-workout snack. This massive carb factor is also good to improve muscles after a long night sleep.

A Morning Jog 

You may not like the idea of waking up first thing in the morning for a brisk jog, but it creates a perfect balance of mental and physical activity. It improves your memory throughout the day and sets positive thinking into motion by increasing endorphins. You may not realize it now, but a short morning jog is exactly what you need to kick-start your day.

During my hey-day, I would wake up every morning for a ten minute jog. Yup, ten minutes. That’s all it takes. I still do my daily jog, but it has become a midday act in the gym.