Ballin' on a Budget: Lemon Asparagus Risotto by audrey gebhardt

I moved away from the home I lived in my whole life a bit less than a year ago. Some things have felt like a huge adjustment (not having a beach, not having a dozen houses nearby I can walk into unannounced, not eating pizza four times a week).

One of the things that I didn’t think about when I moved was the crocuses. The tiny white flowers that would pop up through the frost right outside my front door! The little flowers that could! Like clockwork, they’d show up within the first few days of March every year, snow or sunshine.

They were like the lighthouse bringing us to shore. The microwave minute nearing an end. The last hour of a red eye flight. And I miss them! I miss their cute lil faces popping up to remind us that one day we’ll be barefoot again.

So today, in Colorado, I’m calling in the crocuses of home with this Lemon Asparagus Risotto. This creamy, bright, flavorful dish comes together in about 30 minutes and pops in your mouth with a zing. All of the flavors of spring with the comfort of a still needed warm bowl of food.

In this recipe you can absolutely swap out the asparagus for whatever dark leafy green you have on hand, or even broccoli if that’s what you have! Risotto is extremely forgiving so this is a very loose recipe.

Lemon Asparagus Risotto

Lemon Asparagus Risotto (vegan optional)
Makes enough for 4 as a side dish

1/3 c diced onion
1 bunch asparagus, chopped into 3/4-1” chunks
1 lemon
1 c arborio rice
4 c vegetable stock (room temperature or warmed up-not cold!)
1 c water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese (optional)
2 Tbsp butter (optional)

Toast the rice. In a large saucepan over a medium low flame, place the dry cup of arborio rice. Allow the rice to toast, moving around every so often so it doesn’t burn on one side. It will turn light brown and smell super nutty- remove from pan and place aside for now.

In the pan you just used, add the olive oil and onions over a medium flame. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the toasted rice and two cups of the vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally until almost all of the liquid is absorbed.

When almost all of the liquid is absorbed, add another cup of stock and repeat the simmering process.

Repeat with the final cup of stock. At the end of this simmering point, the rice should be nearly finished cooking.

Add the cup of water and the chopped asparagus, cook for another five minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed and the asparagus is bright bright green.

Stir in the lemon zest, salt and pepper (and at this point you can add the parm + butter if you’re using them! It’s still creamy and delicious without it but that definitely adds an extra layer of flavor!).

Serve immediately.


Ballin' on a Budget: Vegan Carrot Ginger Soup by audrey gebhardt


Omg. I got an enormous bag that I can make 4x this soup with for $4. ORGANIC!

I’m gonna have the best eyesight in town.

For real though this soup is fool proof and so budget friendly. The one tip I want to leave you with is the note that carrots will dye your white counter orange if you leave them on there too long- so make sure to wipe that up ASAP!

Let’s get it.

(Also also, this recipe may look like it has lots of ingredients but most of them are water and salt and pepper. You shouldn’t have to buy more than 6 things to make this!)

Vegan Carrot Ginger Soup


Carrot Ginger Soup
(makes 1 quart)

1.5 lbs carrots (about 7 large)
1/2 vidalia onion (or one whole medium onion, about 1 C diced)
1 TBSP grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 c vegetable stock
1 c water
2 TBSP olive oil

1/2 c raw cashews
1/2 c boiling water

1/4 c pumpkin seeds (raw)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP olive oil

First, dice the onions and the carrots. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over a medium low flame and sauté the onions in the oil for about a minute before adding the diced carrots. Add the carrots and sauté for another 5-7 minutes or so, until the onions are translucent and soft. Keep an eye on the mixture and move it around every so often so nothing browns on the bottom. Add the ginger, salt and pepper and sauté for another minute or so before covering the vegetables in the stock and 1 c water. Bring to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer, covered for about 30 minutes or so.

While the soup is simmering, toast the pumpkin seeds. Mix the pumpkin seeds with 1/4 tsp salt and pepper and 1 TBSP olive oil and spread out onto a baking sheet. Bake at 350 (I did mine in the toaster oven) for 12-15 minutes until golden and they are making popping sounds in the oven.

Make the cashew cream while the soup is still simmering. This will serve as a way to make the soup creamy as well as a garnish for the top of the soup! Put the cashews into the container of a blender and boil enough water to just cover the top of the cashews, cover cashews with boiling water. Screw the lid on tight or hold a towel over the top of the blender and blend for at least one minute, until the mixture is silky and smooth.

After about a half an hour the carrots should be fork tender and should’ve absorbed some of the liquid. Transfer the entire mixture to a blender with 1/4 c of the cashew cream and blend until smooth. Top with remaining cashew cream, toasted pumpkin seeds and a crank of fresh black pepper to serve.

This can be frozen!


Peach Apple Pie (V) by audrey gebhardt

Let's talk about making people feel special for a second. 

Vegan Peach Pie

The other day I was at the doctor for my annual when she asked me to hop on the scale.

I do not own a scale, I don't much care about the number and I don't really feel a need to obsess over it the way I did when I was 14. I care so much more about how I feel in my body and my clothes.

Anyway, I hopped on the scale and the doctor immediately looked at the number and subtracted two pounds and said, 'how do we feel about this number'. And I just couldn't get over her willingness to overlook science for how someone might feel. I thought it was the simplest thing ever that could make the majority of women standing naked on a scale feel so so good, that she's willing to record the weight as a lower number because at the end of the day those two pounds don't really matter. 

It got me thinking about where else could we make people feel special when it's not really expected- which got me thinking about injecting small kindness everywhere. I can't even tell you how many grocery store check-out clerks are astonished when I make eye contact and ask them how their day is and actually listen to the answer on the other end of that question. 

Palisade Peaches

Tiny things like when someone holds the top of the receipt for you when you sign it make me feel so human to human with other humans. And my faaaaavorite- when someone holds your hand in both of yours when you shake their hand for the first time. Omgggg that is the best way to make a person feel special.

How else can we make people feel special? What if you baked this pie and left it cooling in the windowsill and then invited your neighbor over for a slice and some tea this afternoon like it was 1956? Would that be so strange? Could it also be SO GOOD?!

Vegan Peach Pie

Peach Apple Pie (Vegan)

1 Olive Oil Pie Crust, divided in two

3 medium ripe peaches
3 medium apples (I used Gala because it's what I had, anything super crisp will do-- honey crisp, gala, green)
1 TBSP cornstarch
1/3 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 TBSP almond milk
1 TBSP maple syrup

Prepare the crust, separate into two parts and wrap tightly before setting aside while you prepare the filling.

Cut the peaches in half, remove the pit and then cut each half into eighths lengthwise. Cut the apples into quarters, cut out the core and then cut each quarter into thirds. (You read that right. We are barbarically not going to peel these fruits because you won't event notice the peel after it's baked and you will do like a tenth of the work to make this pie.)

In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. 

In a large bowl, toss together the spice mixture with the cut fruit.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Roll out one half of the dough so it's 1/8" thick (about the thickness of a nickel) between two pieces of parchment. Peel away the top layer of parchment and use the bottom layer to help you flip the dough into the 10" pie plate.

Roll out the other half of the dough and if you plan on losing your mind and making yourself crazy cut it into 1/4" strips but if you want to stay sane just use it like a regular pie crust.

Top the crust with the fruit then top the fruit with the crust however you see fit! To make it look how I did there's a bunch of pinching and twisting and crust breaking and tears involved. To make it look like a regular pie, just run a fork around the edge of the pie to seal it all together.

In a small bowl, mix together the almond milk and maple syrup.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes until the fruit just begins to bubble then remove from the oven and brush with the almond milk/maple syrup mixture. 

Bake for another 10 minutes until it's golden brown on top and let cool before serving! 

This pie is BOMB the next day after it's been in the fridge. Or maybe it's just me. I love cold pie. I love you!


Sweet Potato Waffles (V + GF) by audrey gebhardt

Two of my Christmas gifts from the year 2000 have proven to be timeless so far.

Vegan + Gluten Free Sweet Potato Waffles

My bike (I'm still riding a kid-sized 21 speed Raleigh and I LOVE it), and my Grinch Waffle Iron.

This waffle iron made our house the sleepover house. That, and my mom was the sleepover queen. We could stay up as late as we wanted as long as we were dancing with her. She would let us use air mattresses as slides, she would have a craft ready for us to do, she made the comfiest beds on couches to sleep on and in the morning- she always made grinch waffles. 

Much more exciting than your standard belgian waffle, grinch waffles were a topic of discussion. The swirls that the syrup could swim through- the perfect circle in the middle for a pool of butter or whipped cream.

Vegan + Gluten Free Sweet Potato Waffles

My mom was also the cool aunt. The one who let my little cousins and I eat whipped cream straight from the can at 8am. 

My mom didn't have lots of rules, she mostly just did whatever she could to make sure everyone around her was having the most fun at all times. 

Vegan + Gluten Free Waffles

Sweet Potato Waffles (Vegan + Gluten Free)
makes 4

1 c cooked sweet potato
1 c oats
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp ground Flax seed + 3 Tbsp water, let sit for five minutes)
1/2 c almond milk
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla

cooking spray, for waffle iron.

coconut cream (the top part of refrigerated coconut milk), for serving

In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Add more almond milk a tablespoon at a time if it doesn't seem like it will pour smoothly until it's pourable.

Heat the waffle iron and spray with cooking spray.

Pour about 1/3 cup of batter  into the iron and cook for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve with a dollop of coconut cream (which you make by refrigerating a can of coconut milk and scooping off the thick creamy white part from the top) and maple syrup. I serve it like this for the nostalgia of when you get a waffle at a diner served with an ice cream scoop full of butter. 

This batter can be refrigerated for up to 2 days! Add a bit more milk to thin out before using.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake (V/GF) by audrey gebhardt

It wouldn't be fair to this dessert to call it a brownie. 

Vegan/Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cake

There are hundreds of health food junkies out there running around calling recipes similar to this 'Sweet Potato Brownies' but that's just not okay. 

Because a brownie- a brownie needs to be dense. A brownie feels like dead weight in your hands. It sticks to the roof of your mouth it's so fudgy. It has a crackly shiny top and just a 1" square is enough to satisfy.

That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with what this is- it's just simply not a brownie. It's a light, fluffy chocolate cake with a depth of flavor and ZERO DAIRY, GLUTEN or REFINED SUGAR! 

Are you kidding me? I wouldn't have believed it either. This cake is unbelievably decadent and moist and you won't even miss the sugar- I promise.

vegan gluten free peanut butter chocolate cake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake (vegan/gluten free)

1/2 c almond butter
1/2 c cooked sweet potato (from an actual baked sweet potato, not canned puree)
1 flax egg (1 TBSP flaxseed meal + 2.5 TBSP water)
6 TBSP maple syrup
1/4 c cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 c coconut manna
1/2 c creamy peanut butter
1 can full fat coconut milk, chilled overnight
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP maple syrup

Start by making the flax egg- in a small bowl combine the flaxseed meal and water and set aside for five minutes until it firms up.

Preheat the oven to 350 and line an 8x8" pan with parchment.

In a medium bowl, combine the almond butter and sweet potato with a fork or whisk until smooth and creamy. Whip in the flax egg and maple syrup until combined. Whisk in the cocoa powder, vanilla and baking soda. 

Pour the batter into the parchment lined baking pan, bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Once the brownies have cooled completely in the pan, prepare the peanut butter frosting.

DO NOT SHAKE the can of coconut milk. Open the can and scrape the top into a small bowl, saving the transparent liquid in the fridge for smoothies at another time. Beat the coconut cream until it's light and fluffy like whipped cream. Set aside. 

In a medium bowl, beat the coconut manna with the peanut butter and maple syrup until completely combined. Fold in the whipped coconut cream until smooth and spread over cooled cake. 

Store cake in fridge until you're ready to serve. Prepare for people to propose to you when they take a bite. And then tell them it's made with all wholesome ingredients!


Strawberry Smoothie Bowl by audrey gebhardt

This is the strawberry smoothie bowl that I eat for breakfast It keeps me full, energized and satisfies my morning (all day) sweet tooth!

When I was making this this morning I started to think about routines, and how our body falls into such a pattern that most things we do are unconscious. I really recognized this after I had moved out of the house I lived in for 23 years and went back two months later to pack up a few remaining things. It was so strange how even after two months of not being somewhere, my body had the exact same pattern as it always did. Pull into the driveway, hit the garage door opener, walk in the house as I lock my car with my right hand, kick off my shoes, immediately walk through the kitchen to the living room to open the front door and check the mail. 

The first time I did that it felt like there was a ghost of a previous version that took over my body momentarily and knew what to do for me. It got me thinking about where else in my life my pattern has become unconscious. Kind've like how when you are a commuter your morning schedule is perfected down to the second. You look at the clock in your car at 6:27 each morning as you get out to hop on the train. 

Where in your life are you a zombie? What part of your routine has become so monotonous that you no longer need to think about it? What would it be like to switch it up and make yourself a smoothie bowl instead of just grabbing that same cup of coffee on your way out of the house? Could it feel like a treat?

Vegan Strawberry Smoothie Bowl

Strawberry Smoothie Bowl

1 1/2 c frozen whole strawberries
3/4 c unsweetened almond milk
1/4 c orange juice
1 scoop Plant Based Vanilla Protein

to top:
1 TBSP Justin's Vanilla Almond Butter
coconut flakes (I get the unsweetened ones at Trader Joe's)
chia seeds
raw pecans

In a blender, blend the first four ingredients for a little longer than you think you need to- this is the difference between a kind've smooth smoothie and a dreamy fluffy creamy smoothie.

Top with whatever you'd like! Sometimes I add chocolate chips, other times I add granola, sometimes I top it just as it's pictured! The world is your oyster!


The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies for real (V/GF) by audrey gebhardt

I truly believe that chocolate chip cookies are always appropriate. 

Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know this is the second post about cookies this week, but this is extremely important. 

I made these the other day and planned on sharing them at a later time so this doesn't turn into a cookie blog- but after eating them for three breakfasts in a row I decided you need this recipe and you need it right now. 

Meeting your new boo-thang's parents for the first time? Bring them cookies.

Snow day? Warm chocolate chip cookies.

Got home way too late and a little bit tipsy? Grab a stack of cookies and a tall glass of milk.

Your best friend decided to break up with her boyfriend...again? Show up with cookies.

It's Sunday morning? Cookies for breakfast. 

I dare you to tell me a situation that you wouldn't be happier with a plate full of these cookies.

THE BEST Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Best Ever Vegan/Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/4 c almond butter
1/4 c applesauce
1/2 c sunflower oil
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c raw sugar
2/3 c light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c all purpose gluten free flour (I like Bob's)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped**

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sunflower oil and all of the sugars. Stir in the almond butter, vanilla and applesauce until combined. Whisk in the baking soda and salt- then slowly stir in the flour and chocolate chunks. 

Scoop onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, two inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes until the edges just begin to turn golden brown. Right when you take them out of the oven, gently tap the sheet on the counter so the center sinks in a bit. This makes the cookies a consistent texture all the way through and gives them that gorgeous crackly top!

Allow to cool on baking sheet, store in an airtight container!

I froze half of the scoops until solid and now I have a ziplock bag full of cookie dough just waiting for the day that I come home and desperately need a pile of warm, chocolatey sugar. 

** The reason you want to chop your own chocolate instead of using chocolate chips is because chocolate chips are full of wax to help them hold their shape. While I use chips all the time for times that I'm melting chocolate (ganache, frostings, etc)- I always chop my own bars for cookies because it will give you layers of chocolate and flakes of chocolate all throughout the cookie. This is the difference between something that people eat, and something that people remember.


GF/Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies by audrey gebhardt

In high school, I didn't really know how to have friends.


I was in this weird purgatory of being 15 and wanting to fit in but also being 15 having experienced the death of a parent and feeling soooooo far out. 

I didn't really understand how to gossip (mostly because I didn't care). I didn't know how to just 'hang out' with people after school and on the weekends because my mind was on a constant loop of, 'mymomisdeadmymomisdeadheydontyouknowmymomisdeadandherewearealivepretendingthateverythingisokayEVERYTHINGISNOTOKAYBECAUSEMYMOMISDEAD'.

I ate lunch with my teachers, brought coloring books to class instead of textbooks and kept myself busy after school in the kitchen. There were always a plethora of cookies laying around my house (cough cough bakingismycopingmechanism cough), so eventually I started bringing them to school in a basket. 

That's when I figured out how to relate to people because everybody loves a good cookie. Soon I was a Wantagh High School mini-celeb - everybody said hi to me, people would chase me down to see what was in my basket that day. At the time I had no idea what that basket did for me, looking back I know that it gave me the courage to talk to anybody and everybody. 

Chocolate chip cookies were common ground. Humans from all walks of life can stand around a kitchen counter and bite into a warm chocolate chip cookie and feel a little bit of home. I was able to feel a little bit of home in a life that felt so foreign to me every time I ate one of those cookies. In 11th grade we read an essay about a couple who had lost their child who kept spending time with the chef who was supposed to make his birthday cake. The lesson of that essay was that food is love. If there's one thing I learned outside of the classroom in high school it's that gifting food is a way to give a little bit of your heart to someone else, and it's only when you share it that you begin to feel whole again. 

vegan chocolate chip cookies

Vegan/Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 18

1 cup almond butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup brown rice flour
4oz dark chocolate- chips or bar, chopped roughly
flaky salt, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350.
In a medium bowl, mix together the almond butter and brown sugar until combined and smooth. Stir in the applesauce, vanilla and baking soda until mixed in.
Slowly stir in the oats, rice flour and chocolate.
On a parchment lined baking sheet, drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough (I use this scoop) at least an inch apart, lightly sprinkle with flaky salt and send off to the oven for 9-11 minutes juuuuust until the edges start to brown and the cookie seems set. 
Cookies will keep really well in a sealed container at room temperature for up to a week!

xo Audrey