Tis’ The “Flu” Season

Right now, as I write this, we are in the thick of the holidays. With Thanksgiving already behind us, its full steam ahead to New Years Day. It’s cold, windy and rainy/snowy outside. We are running around trying to get things done before the end of the year. Holiday parties and family obligations are keeping us up later than normal. Many of us are skipping the usual exercise routine, eating more processed unhealthy foods and consuming higher amounts of alcohol. All of this can leave us feeling run down and tired; but we keep going…..and going….and going. Our immune systems are starting to feel the effects. It starts with a cough, then a sneeze, then before we know it, a full-blown cold or flu. But this is NOT the time to get sick. So we push through. We do whatever we can to feel good enough to continue on. The cold and flu lingers and lingers until eventually our body says ENOUGH!

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I’ve seen quite a few yogi’s in my classes with colds lately, and I understand. Many of us feel that yoga will help us get rid of our cold or flu, and it can………sometimes. Many public yoga classes can be really challenging physically. You may end up feeling worse than when you walked in. Not to mention, when you have a stuffy nose, it’s impossible to breathe deeply, making it difficult to focus. It’s common to feel light-headed in class if you can’t breathe properly which can result in injury.  And finally, you are sharing space with other yogis who are now breathing in whatever germs you have, leaving them vulnerable, and that’s not good either.

So my suggestion is, when you are really sick, stop, stay home and rest. By doing this, you help your immune system fight whatever is happening, and you will feel better sooner. If you get sick, please don’t come to yoga class, or any group fitness class. Stay home, take care of yourself, drink plenty of fluids, sleep, eat a spicy broth soup, drink herbal tea, catch up on your favorite TV shows, and take care of yourself!

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Some restorative yoga can help ease the aches and pains that are associate with colds and the flu. Below are a few of my favorites that you can practice at home. Practice one or all of them any time you feel under the weather. I recommend resting in the pose for a minimum of five minutes. Set the tone by creating a calming atmosphere; dim the lights, use candles or oils, play soothing music. I highly recommend getting rid of distractions like cell phones if possible. While in the posture, focus on taking slow and smooth breaths. Bolsters, blankets and blocks are great yoga tools for restoratives. Manduka and Hugger Mugger sell really good quality and eco-friendly yoga props.

“Balasana” Restorative Childs Pose

You can do this without a bolster between your legs, but the added support feels really good. Childs pose is a lovely way to get grounded, release tension in the low back and stretch the hips. Use extra padding for knees and ankles if needed.


Rotating Childs Pose

Great pose to release tension in the back and neck. Make sure to do both sides.


“Supta Baddha Konasana” Reclined Bound Angle Pose

This pose is a great way to gently open the shoulders and hips. I like to place a blanket behind my head for added lift. Placing blocks or pillows under the knees is optional. You can also do this with the legs straight or feet flat on the floor, knees bent.


“Setu Bandha Sarvangasana” Restorative Bridge Pose #1

Another great gentle front body opener and shoulder release. I could fall asleep in this pose. Make sure your legs and hips are elevated either on blankets or a bolster and your shoulders and head are on the floor.


Restorative Bridge Pose #2

This is a great grounding pose that opens up the shoulders and releases tension in the low back. Arms overhead is optional, just rest your arms wherever feels most comfortable. You can also use a bolster or blankets to elevate the hips. Make sure your entire low back feels supported.


“Sarvangasana” Restorative Shoulder Stand

Gentle inversions like these can be very soothing, calming and healing, however if you have lot’s of congestion, you may start to feel light-headed, so use your best judgement. Again make sure the block or bolster is supporting your low back and reach your legs straight up (not towards your chest). This can also be done with knees bent and feet off the floor if the hamstrings feel tight.


“Paschimottanasana” Supported Forward Fold

Forward folds help stretch and release hamstrings. This variation also helps release back muscles when done passively with the support of a bolster or blanket. If your hamstrings are really tight, I recommend skipping this one and moving to the next pose. You can also take this pose with legs wide.


“Vapirita Kirani” Legs up the Wall Variations

This is one of the loveliest and easiest ways to invert with little to no effort. These are three different leg variations. You do not have to be as close to the wall as pictured. This is not meant to be a hamstring stretch.

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Thanksvegan…Round 3


We vegan’s can be very adamant about what we don’t eat; meat, dairy, eggs or anything else that comes from animals. But what I want to write about is what vegans DO eat.

We eat fruits and vegetables, lots of fruits and vegetables. We eat nuts, seeds and grains. We consume beans, tofu, tempeh. We drink coffee and wine and beer and juice and tea. We eat cookies and cupcakes and ice cream and doughnuts. We use olive oil, flax  oil, avocado oils, coconut oils, variety of seasonings and herbs. We eat dark chocolate! We enjoy flax, almond, soy, coconut, rice and cashew milk. We eat pizza, bread, pasta, nachos and burgers. We get plenty of protein. We are not starving, we are full of abundance and life that comes from our food. We are happy, we are healthy, we are fulfilled. We do not miss eating meat, eggs or dairy because, well, with all the delicious plant-based foods out there, what’s to be missed.

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In honor of what vegans do eat, I want to share my 2015 Thanksgiving recipes with you. I made everything here on Thanksgiving night this year, and it all came out pretty darn amazing. Enjoy!!!




  • 1 Acorn Squash, cut in half
  • ½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup cranberries, frozen or fresh
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter


Turn your oven to 375F. Combine walnuts, cranberries and brown sugar. Toss to combine. Cut each acorn squash in half. Remove and discard seeds. Split the mixture between two halves of the squash. Top with 1 tablespoon butter each half. Place in a baking dish, loosely cover with foil and bake in a for 1 hour 15 minutes, to 1 hour 30 minutes, or until fork inserted into the squash goes in easily. Remove from the oven, place on a plate and serve right away. With each spoonful try to catch a little bit of everything, the walnuts, the cranberries and some of the syrup built up at the bottom of the squash. If it is not sweet enough, add a spoon of honey. Serves two.

Recipe from: letthebakingbeginblog.com




  • 1 half round loaf of Rosemary Artisan Bread, toasted, sliced thick and cubed
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (original recipe called for currents but I decided to use cranberries instead)
  • 1 1/2 cup Vegetable Stock
  • 1 cup rinsed, chopped Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • 3 -4 Celery Stalks, washed, rough dice
  • 2 Tbs. Vegan Butter
  • 2 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried Rosemary, minced well
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp Black Pepper – to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. Fennel Seeds, minced well (Optional)
  • pinch of Sea Salt, more depending on your Vegetable Broth


Toast and cube bread slices. Add the dried Currants to the Vegetable stock to soak while you prepare the vegetables. In a large saute pan, heat butter and oil on medium low heat. Add in Onion, Celery and Mushrooms. Stir vegetables over low heat until the Onion has softened and begins to become translucent. Add in the dried Rosemary, Garlic, Black Pepper and Fennel. Stir to cook 5 minutes more then remove from heat. Pour in the Vegetable stock with soaked Currants to the pan and stir. Add in the toasted Bread cubes. Transfer the mixed stuffing to a medium size bake pan. Bake stuffing covered with foil wrap at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes at 375. Let stuffing stand for 10 to 15 minutes prior to serving. Makes about 6 – 7 servings.

Recipe from: canned-time.com




  • 3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 8 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 lbs. fresh green beans, trimmed
  • salt + pepper to taste


Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add shallots and a pinch of salt. Cook until caramelized, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently as shallots begin to brown. Depending on your stove, this could take between a half an hour to a little over an hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss green beans with olive oil, salt, and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until tender and just beginning to brown. Transfer to serving dish and top with shallots.

Recipe from: rikkisnyder.com




  • ½ of a large white/yellow onion, finely chopped, enough for one heaping cup
  • 3 extra large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups LOW sodium veggie broth, separated
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown rice flour
  • 2 long sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon Cabernet Sauvignon


It’s best to have all of your ingredients measured out and ready to go, so as the sauce is cooking, it is very easy to quickly add the ingredients. Add your onion, garlic, ONLY 1 cup of the broth, salt and pepper to a small pot and stir it well. Bring to a boil and once boiling, turn the heat down to between medium and low and put a lid on. Let it cook for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times during along the bottom and sides. After 10 minutes, it should have greatly reduced by about half, with some broth still remaining. Very slowly add the brown rice flour to the pot while whisking at the same time, so it blends in easily and doesn’t clump. It will start to thicken immediately. Add your remaining 1 cup of broth, cabernet, nutritional yeast and sprigs of fresh thyme and stir. You will be adding the sprigs whole, as the herbs will fall off on their own as it cooks. Bring the gravy back to a boil and once boiling, turn to the lowest heat setting and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes until it has thickened up nicely. Check on it a few times during, stirring the sides and bottom. I cooked mine for exactly 20 minutes. If you want it a bit thicker in the end, just cook it a little longer or very slowly whisk in another tablespoon of flour. Rice flour is much easier to work with than regular flour and blends in well when whisked in slowly. Now remove from heat and pull out the sticks from the thyme and discard. Using a hand immersion blender, VERY carefully blend it up to a smooth consistency. Just pulse it a few times going around the pan. Be very careful to watch for spatter. If you don’t have an immersion blender, just add it to a food processor to blend up, or eat it as is with the texture. Blending it does thicken it up some. makes 1 1/2 cups

Recipe from: thevegan8.com




  • 1 large cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 2 big cloves of roasted garlic (or 1 clove raw garlic)
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp vegan margarine
  • 1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
  • salt & pepper


Chop the head of cauliflower into small florets. Place cauliflower in a large pot and fill with just enough water to cover the florets. Bring the water to boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Steam until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain the cauliflower well. Place the cauliflower in a large bowl, and puree with potato masher or immersion (stick) blender. Mix in remaining ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste. Serves four.

Recipe from: vegangela.com




  • 1 Tablespoon Orange Zest (about 1 large orange)
  • 4 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
  • 3 Tablespoons Cranberry Juice
  • ⅓ Cup Dark or Light Brown Sugar
  • ½ Cup Honey
  • ½ Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ¼ Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • ¼-1/2 Teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 12 ounce Bag Fresh Cranberries
  • 1 Cup Frozen Blackberries


Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the cranberry juice, orange juice (reserving the zest for the end), brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, ginger and chili powder. Bring to a boil and turn to medium low. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cranberries and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Add the blackberries and cook an additional 5-10 minutes or until the berries have popped and the sauce is beginning to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the orange zest. Allow to cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour, covered in a dish. Sit at room temperature for a bit before serving to take the chill off. Makes 4-6 servings

Recipe from: ohsweetbasil.com

And just so you know I’m not lying, here are actual non-edited, non-professional photos from my Thanksgiving table.

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To Care Or Not To Care, That Is The Question.

Sometimes while I plan my week of teaching yoga, I look for inspirational thoughts to share. I often look online via Google, Pinterest, or blogs sites like Elephant Journal and Huffington Post. I’ll find hundreds and hundreds of quotes, articles and pictures just by searching things like “letting go of resentment”, or “learning to trust your instincts”. I recently did a search on Pinterest for “being happy” and oddly enough, these two quotes popped up, side by side.

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The fact that their messages were so different left me slightly perplexed. One basically states we should care, while the other says we shouldn’t. After I spent some time mulling it over, I knew which one I favored…….


A few years ago, I was subbing a yoga class that was described as gentle/pre-natal. I was a little apprehensive at first because I didn’t have a ton of pre-natal yoga experience nor had I ever been pregnant. In addition, I mostly taught level 2/3 vinyasa flow style classes, so “gentle” was a little foreign to me. The studio owner had faith that I would do great so I went ahead and taught the class. There were about ten women in the class, and only two were pregnant. As the ladies settled in, one of the two pregnant ladies walked up to me. She seemed nervous that I was the teacher and didn’t fully trust that I knew what I was doing in regards to her specific needs. I taught the class and everyone seemed happy, however, this particular woman was so upset with my class that she took it upon herself to write the owner of the studio an email with her complaints. She basically wrote that I didn’t know what I was doing and that I should not be a yoga teacher. Luckily, the owner of the studio was very understanding of the situation, but I was totally shaken.

The truth is, that woman had every right not to trust me, because I didn’t trust me. I never should have taught a class style that I wasn’t comfortable with. After telling several people about what happened, almost all of them responded with “don’t let it bother you” or “let it go”, but I decided to take a different approach. Rather than forgetting and “letting it go”, I decided to take time to research and study gentle & pre-natal yoga, as well as modifications for pregnant women.

I still think about her from time to time, and in a way, I am grateful to her for writing the email. It woke me up and made me a better teacher. And by me becoming a better teacher, my yoga students benefit. I am now much more confident teaching yoga to the pregnant women who frequent my classes. I have also added two more gentle style yoga classes to my teaching schedule, and I am happy to say they are both doing very well.

To say “the less you give a damn the happier you will be” is basically saying “ignorance is bliss”. If someone has a negative thing to say about what I am doing, I will care enough to at least give it some thought. It would have been irresponsible of me to just ignore this woman’s opinion, even if she was slightly nasty in her delivery. Any time I get feedback, I take it to heart, and for me that is one of the ways I learn and better myself.

Giving a damn is not always going to make you happy, at least not right away. Sometimes giving a damn hurts. Consider people like Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa and Jane Goodall. These people had to make huge sacrifices because they gave a damn. Giving a damn is really about being selfless. It’s about realizing that you are not perfect and life does not revolve around your needs alone. By caring, you are creating a life of value, substance, and meaning. To me, there is no better reward than “Giving a Damn”.







Sunday Vegan: Kale Yeah!

I planted a few baby kale plants in my garden about a month ago. Since it was my first time planting kale, I had no idea what to expect. After a few weeks of care, they grew and were ready for harvesting.


Kale is considered one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, which is why I always have some in my vegan kitchen. This low-calorie plant is rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium and protein. Kale is also loaded with powerful antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, can help lower cholesterol and may possibly prevent heart disease.

Kale grows great in cooler climates and should still provide big leaves through the beginning of winter. When harvesting, it’s generally a good idea to wait until the plant is full of leaves about the size of you hand. You can snap the individual leaves off, but leave the leaves in the center to support the kale so it can grow in more leaves for a later harvest. Wash thoroughly before using. For more info on planting and harvesting kale, click HERE.

I plan on making lots with my Kale throughout the Summer and Fall.  This is something I made today which was super easy, delicious, protein rich and light in calories.  Enjoy!

Sautéed Kale with Garlic and Lentils

  • Fresh Kale (about 4 cups or more)
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and diced (I love garlic)
  • 1 package of Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste


Start by removing the kale leaves from the stems. I prefer to sauté the large leaves rather than chop them but it’s up to you.

Heat olive oil in pan or wok, add garlic and sauté for about a minute (don’t let it burn).


Add Kale and immediately lower heat to medium. Cook Kale for about another minute until it is nicely coated with oil, then add lentils.

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Sautee until lentils are heated through. Season with salt and pepper.

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Dear Yoga Students….A Love Letter


Dear Yoga Students,

I want you to know that it is only because of you that I am able to successfully teach yoga full-time.

It’s not always easy. I’m not super human, and I am nowhere near perfect. Teaching so many classes and privates a week can be draining on my body and my brain. Some days I wake up in the morning hung over, or tired, or burned out. Some days my body really just aches. Some days I feel completely unmotivated and have no idea what to talk about or what to teach. Some days I wish I could just stay in and not think about yoga. But as soon as I walk into the yoga room, all those feelings disappear. As soon as I see you, feelings of joy and gratitude take over. I immediately feel inspired. And this is not just my big classes; it’s also my smaller classes and privates. You, the yogi’s, are the reason I continue teaching yoga.

I am sincerely happy to see every single one of you; men, women, young, old, tight, flexible, beginner and advanced alike. In many ways, I consider you guys as my yoga teachers. Every day that I teach, I am guaranteed to learn something from at least one of you. It might be a story you share that I resonate with. It might be advice. It might have nothing to do with words. Just watching you practice, watching you move and struggle and find release really affects me in a way that is difficult to explain. I can only describe the feeling as LOVE.

I guess I should simply say it…………I Love You! In all honesty, I sincerely and truly love all of you. Even when you do things that annoy me, like get to class late or text during class. Those things teach me patience. I love you when you are able to nail handstand, and I love you when you decide to take legs up the wall instead. I love you when you fall off of tree pose and laugh. I love when you get super excited because you got your feet off the floor in crow pose. I love watching the transformation that happens from the start of the class to the end, and particularly love seeing you resting blissfully in Savasana. There is not much on this Earth that compares to the vibrations created from that energy.

During class, I see you looking over at me from time to time. I get the feeling that you are wondering whether or not I am impressed or happy with your “performance”. Well, I am writing this love letter to tell you that I am happy the moment I see you. There is absolutely no need to try to impress me with fancy yoga poses. The fact that you showed up and made the effort, regardless of your busy lives is what impresses me the most.

What makes me really happy is seeing you get still. I love watching you breathe deeply, and learn how to find comfort in stillness and quiet. To me, if there was some goal to yoga, that would be it. But even those of you who have a hard time getting still, who are fidgeting during any long holds, I am equally grateful that you are there, trying, wondering what it’s all about. You, the yoga students, remind me that I am doing what I was meant to do, I am living my Dharma.

So I want to thank you, truly, from the bottom of my heart. I don’t really know if there is anything else I could do other than this. Next time you come to class, know that I see you, all of you, and that I love you deeply. To me, you are perfect yogi’s!

Peace, Love and Nourishment,



Sunday Vegan: That’s a spicy cauliflower!

Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables. When pureed, it an excellent alternative to mashed potatoes.  It can be roasted, steamed, or simply eaten raw with hummus or some olive oil, salt and pepper. It’s also one of the few vegetables my husband really likes, so I use it a lot.

For this week’s Sunday Vegan, I was seeking a recipe that felt warm and comforting (because it’s still quite cold here in Chicago), but also light and fresh (since it is Spring). I found this cauliflower soup recipe on food blog Produce On Parade. I was sold when the blogger mentioned that she is “never eating cauliflower in any other form from now on”. Although I am not sure I necessary agree with that statement, the soup was deliciously satisfying and light at the same time. I played around a little with the seasonings by adding more red pepper flakes and incorporating smoked paprika. Please enjoy this super easy, super low-calorie dish any night of the week.

Creamy Spicy Cauliflower Soup 


  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 1/2 cups veggie broth
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • dash of smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • fresh dill for garnish (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


In a large pot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat until fragrant. Add onions, cumin, turmeric, coriander, cardamom and red pepper. Sauté until onions become translucent (about 8 minutes). Add garlic and sauté for two more minutes.


Add vegetable broth and cauliflower to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes or until cauliflower is really tender (you can easily pinch a fork into it).


Remove from heat. Use a hand-held blender and blend soup until it has a creamy texture.


Stir in coconut milk, paprika and apple cider vinegar. Bring pot back to stove over low heat (do not let it boil). Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with fresh dill if you would like. Serve hot. I saved the remainder in an air tight container and have been eating it all week. Enjoy!

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Sunday Vegan: “chickpizza”

It’s common for Sunday night to be pizza night in the Gonzalez household. That being said, I have never been a huge fan of pizza delivery. What I usually do is buy a pre-made dough and pizza sauce from Whole Foods, and add whatever toppings I want. My husband will sometimes add sausage or cheese on his half and my half remains vegan.

Lately, I have been eyeing some interesting pizza dough recipes, particularly chickpea flour pizza dough; mainly because I loooooove chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), but also because chickpea flour is said to be a healthier, more nutrient dense alternative to regular flour. I found a simple recipe online from food blog site www.dollyandoatmeal.com and decided to use it with my own spicy tomato sauce. I topped it with mushrooms, fresh basil and onions however I imagine you can add just about anything you want. It came out really yummy! My husband actually told me that it was the best tasting pizza crust I’ve ever made! 🙂

Chickpea Pizza w/ Spicy Tomato Sauce, Sautéed Mushrooms, Onions and Basil


  • 2 cups garbanzo bean/chickpea flour plus more for dusting
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for coating
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 6-8 tbsp water

Spicy Tomato Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15 oz can organic crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp crushed red pepper (more if you like it hot!)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • salt to taste


  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced


For the crust:

In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the olive oil and mix with your hands until oil is evenly dispersed and the flour resembles small crumbles.  By the tablespoon, work water in little by little with your hands – you may need more or less water depending on your brand of flour. In the end, you want your dough to be pliable, but not too sticky.  Once dough comes together kneed and form into a smooth ball, brush with a bit of oil and cover with a dish towel – let rest in the bowl for 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400° and begin to prepare the sauce.


For the Sauce & Toppings:

Heat olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once oil is warm, add minced garlic and cook, stirring frequently for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Keep a close eye on the garlic; if it becomes brown or scorched it will taste bitter. In a medium bowl, combine garlic oil mixture with the remaining ingredients. Season with salt to taste. Set aside. (May refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.)  In a separate pan, heat a small splash of olive oil and sauté mushrooms and onions lightly (not too much since they will cook a little more in the oven)

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Place chickpea dough ball in a greased pizza pan or baking sheet and form dough into a disk. Start by using your hands then roll into a thin sheet with a rolling pin (or use an empty wine bottle like I did). Flour the top of the dough and roll dough into a 9-10 inch circle – if edges crack just pinch back together. Using a spoon, add tomato sauce to the center of the dough disk and spread evenly (start with a small amount, remember you can always add but you cannot taketh away). Arrange onions and mushrooms onto the pizza and cook for about 25 minutes or more if needed (the edges should start to brown). Add basil and cook for 1 more minute. Remove pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board, add a small amount of cheese or vegan cheese (optional) and enjoy.

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