An easy and versatile recipe! Add a little spice to your life...

This is an easy, peasy slow cooker recipe. It's super tasty, a little spicy and it fits the Meditteranean, vegan or pescatarian lifestyle. If you're vegan, just omit the shrimp and add an extra vegan sausage link (it's just as tasty).  The sausage is plant-based so it fits most diets. I do not add a lot of sausage as I now see any meat or processed food as a seasoning/flavoring and not a large part of the meal. I've included two nutritional analyses below; one for the pescatarian version and the other is for the vegan version. It is analyzed by VeryWell, not me. I am not a health/nutrition expert.

Feel free to chop your own tomatoes (I'm lazy in this area if I can find canned, no-salt-added). 2 Large tomatoes should be fine.

Use a slow cooker on low or a dutch oven, placed in the oven, set to 190 degrees. I like the dutch oven since I can brown and slow cook all in one pot. I recommend being in the house if using the oven method. I also slow cook my meals for a shorter period of time than usual as I see no reason to kill all of those great nutrients in your food.

You will also see that I use both sodium and potassium salts. Sodium makes your blood pressure go up and potassium lowers it so I usually use a balance of both when I want more salty taste. You can use any salt you desire for this recipe. Talk to your doctor, some people can't have sad :(

Vegan/Pescatarian Jambalaya (plant based recipe)

Prep:  20 MIN Cook:  4-5 hours on low, slow cooker setting.
Makes:  8 Servings

Spritz of avocado oil/or olive oil
1 Vegan Field Roast Italian Sausage link (click here), use 2 links if keeping this recipe entirely vegan.
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 Cup large onion, Chopped
1 Cup large celery stalks, chopped (approximately 2 stalks)
1 large Bell Pepper, chopped (any color, green is more traditional but I used 1/2 orange/1/2 Yellow)
2 cans 14.5 ounces organic, no salt added diced tomatoes with juice.
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce (click here)
1 teaspoon Crystal Hot Sauce or preferred brand (adjust for taste)

1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 TB onion flakes
1 tsp Italian seasonings
1/2 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp salt substitute (potassium-based)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (red pepper, adjust for taste preference)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp regular paprika
1 tsp parsley

Rice:  4 cups cooked (any rice you desire/white is traditional). Exchange half the water in your rice recipe for low sodium vegetable broth and add a teaspoon of vegan or regular butter. This will make your rice extra tasty. Please note that it will also add sodium.

For the Pescatarian, add 1/2 pound uncooked, peeled deveined large shrimp, thawed if frozen. Add into the pot 10-20 minutes before serving. I check them every 10 minutes so they don't shrink too much. Make sure they are cooked before serving.

Using a dutch oven (if you have a low crockpot setting for your oven) or crockpot. Slice sausage into thick quarter size chunks and brown in avocado/olive oil. You can do this right in the dutch oven if you have one, otherwise, use a frying pan. Transfer sausage to crockpot if necessary, Turn off heat (if using a dutch oven) and add garlic, celery, bell pepper, onion, Worcestershire sauce, and tomatoes.

Add all seasonings to the pot and stir. Later you may add more hot sauce if you like it spicy or omit it altogether, along with the cayenne if you are sensitive.

Cook on LOW crockpot setting for 4-5 hours. If you are adding shrimp (non-vegan version), add them before serving (see above).

Cook your rice following the directions on the box and see the rice note above for preparing. You will need 4 cups, cooked.

Add the rice to your dutch oven or slow cooker OR place some rice at the bottom of the bowl and spoon the Jambalaya over the rice.

Brown the sausage in a spritz of avocado oil

Spices to kick it up a notch

Add all the veggies and you're off and cooking

Nutritional facts below include the shrimp (pescatarian version, see vegan version below)...

Nutritional analysis below is for the vegan version...

Loom Knit and CrochetTriangle Santa Ornament Free Pattern

Hello fiber artists! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend. Today I have a stash busting Christmas ornament with versions for loom knitters and Crocheters. The crochet version was a quickie copy of the original loom knit version and it's a little bigger. If you're looking for a quick project, special holiday tag or homemade ornament then I'm sure you'll love making these adorable Santas.

Feel free to mix and match your yarn and try different colors. The sizing should stay relatively the same if you use the same types of yarn (example, faux fur for the beard, fluffy yarn for the trim of the hat, etc.) Once you get the idea behind how you make the triangles, you should easily be able to add/subtract rows as needed.

Things you'll need...loom or crochet hook, loom knitting tool (loom knit version), 4 types of yarn, and small pom-poms for the nose (red or tan, depending on if your Santa's nose is cold or not). 

Enjoy the holiday season and happy looming!-Nicole

The Santa on the left is the loom knit version and the one on the right is the crochet version.


Pattern notes (loom & crochet version)

  • Loom used:  3/8” peg spacing loom, loom knit version.
  • Hook used:  I-5.5mm, crochet version.
  • This is a stash buster ornament so varying yarn weights were used. The white yarn is 5/6 weight and the Red and tan were 4 weight (worsted/tan to heavy worsted/red)
  • Size will vary depending on the yarn used. Sample ornament is 4” w x 3” high. You may have to play with row counts if using different yarn weights for both versions.
  • The crochet version is larger than the knit version.

Loom Knit Triangle Santa Ornament

If you are new to loom knitting HERE'S A FULL GLOSSARY of terms and video instruction.

Foundation row:  E-wrap cast on 14 pegs with color A (white/fur yarn, Sirdar Alpine luxe fur)
Row 1:  Purl
Row 2:  Knit
Change to color B (tan, worsted weight, lion brand pounds of love)
Row 3:  Knit
Row 4:  K2tog, purl to last 2 pegs, ssk. (12 sts)
Row 5:  Knit
Row 6:  Purl
Row 7:  Knit
Row 8:  K2tog, purl to last 2 pegs, ssk. (10 sts)
Change to color C (white, fluffy type yarn, baby blanket #5)
Row 9:  Knit
Row 10:  K2tog, purl to last 2 sts, ssk. (8 sts)
Change to Color D (Red tweed, this is a heavy worsted)
Row 11:  Knit
Row 12:  Purl
Row 13:  Knit
Row 14:  Purl
Row 15:  K2tog, knit to last 2 sts, ssk.  (6 sts)
Row 16:  Purl
Row 17:  Knit
Row 18:  Purl
Row 19:  K2tog, knit to last 2 sts, ssk. (4 sts)
Row 20:  Knit
Row 21:  Purl
Row 22:  Knit
Row 23:  K2tog, ssk. (2 sts)
Row 24:  Purl
Row 25:  K2tog
Bind off. Optional: Leave a long tail if you wish to make a single strand hanger.
Finish:  Weave in ends. Add a hanger to your ornament or use the tail as a hanger securing it to the top of the hat. If you know how to make a chain with a crochet hook, then chain 20 and slip stitch into the 1st chain, then bind off to make the hanger. Glue a small pom pom to the center of Santas face, see picture for placement.

Crochet Triangle Santa Ornament

hdc = half double crochet
Sc =single crochet
ch = chain
Please use YouTube/Google as a resource if you need crochet instruction.

finished measurements 4” x 4”. See the above pattern notes. I didn’t need to do much decreasing as I just omitted some of the chains at the beginning of the round and the ornament just naturally pulled inward to form the triangle. The ornament will bend inward slightly but lays flat as soon as you block it (it's very slight unless you crochet tightly) Feel free to play with it and add decreases if you would like to make the chains at the beginning of the round.

Ch12, turn.
Single crochet into every chain, turn.
Change to tan color (Santa's face)
ch1, hdc into every single crochet, ch1, turn.
Hdc into every hdc, turn.
Change to white (Santa's hat trim)
ch1, single crochet into every hdc, turn.
Change to red (hat)
ch1, single crochet decrease, single crochet to last 2 hdc’s, single crochet decrease; turn.
Ch1, single crochet across; turn.
Repeat last 2 rows until hat is fully decreased.
At the tip of the hat you can either bind off or chain 20 and slip stitch into the 1st chain, then bind off and weave in all of your ends.

Hello all! I hope you are enjoying this Fall season as much as I am. I've taken a bit of a departure this month from loom knitting (don't worry, loom knitting is still my first fiber love). I've been honing my crochet skills and presently am going crazy making Christmas ornaments and baby gifts. Below I've shared my favorite crochet star pattern. I encourage everyone to try it (even if you are not a crocheter). They are fun and easy and also make thoughtful little gifts!

Crochet Star Ornament Pattern

Pattern notes
  • Make sure to place your hook into the top of each group for best results on rounds 2 and 3.
  • Use a natural fiber.
  • Finish off your star with a cute ribbon and button or place it on a decorative ornament hook.
  • These stars look extra cute tied onto your holiday presents with ribbon.
  • I do not have a video for this pattern, thanks for understanding. Video links to the skills used are included below. Please support the kind people who are generous enough to share their skills for free!
Yarn:  Knit Picks Wool of The Andes Tweed, Color:  Firecracker Heather. Find it here. 100% Cotton also works well for this pattern. Use worsted weight. Use a natural fiber as the star looks best blocked to accentuate the points (otherwise points may look rounded).

Hook:  I-5.5 mm

Finished Measurements (after blocking): 4.5"/11.4 cm x 4.5"/11.4 cm.

Special Stitches
Making a chain:  Video
Puff Stitch:  *Yarn over hook, insert hook into center ring and pull up a new loop, rep from * 3 times. Yarn over again and pull the yarn through all stitches on the hook (7 sts should be on your hook). Slip stitch 1 time. Note:  Puff st is easiest if you do not make them too tight. Here's a good video.  You can make your puff st different sizes but please follow the repeat number given above.
DC = Double Crochet. Here's a video.

Begin here...
Chain 8, then join into the 1st chain forming a ring. Chain more if you want a larger center circle.
Round 1:  Puff stitch 5 times into the center ring.
Round 2:  Dc 3 times, chain 1, dc 3 times into the top of each puff stitch (into the last slip stitch). Place a slip stitch into the space between each puff stitch as you work around to anchor.
Round 3:  Dc 3 times, chain 3, dc 3 times into the top of each dc group made in the last round; repeat 5 times placing a slip stitch into the space between each group to anchor.
Fasten off. Block star to accent points. Weave in ends. Add a ribbon or hanger. 

Making a change to a Plant-Based Lifestyle...

Recently, for health reasons, I decided to change my diet to one that is plant-based. Like over 60 percent of Americans, I have suffered from a host of upper and lower GI issues and really wanted an answer to the problem. My husband and I watched a documentary called "What The Health" and were intrigued by the information given. The next day we went all-in with a trip to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. 

So what did we do...We've eliminated all dairy products, eggs and most meat also. We have been eating small amounts of fish about 2 times a week and will probably re-introduce eggs into our diet when we can get them from a friend or farm that raises chickens locally (otherwise we probably won't eat them). We started eating at home, only going out three times during the last 6 weeks (once to a vegan cafe and the 2nd time to Chili's with the family, ordered the shrimp fajitas with none of cheese/sour cream etc., the 3rd trip to Bonefish Grill where they are extremely accommodating to diet needs).

So what were the results? 6 weeks later, almost all of our GI issues are gone and we feel great. As a side note, my husband, who has always had high blood pressure is off of meds completely, woohoo. 

I won't lie to you, I spend A LOT more time in the kitchen then I used to but don't mind at all as I'm now putting our health at the top of my priority list. I even bake now (a lot) so we have plenty of vegan cookies in the freezer, which by the way, I like better than regular cookies. I'm learning to bake bread in a Dutch Oven too.

Benefits...No GI issues, low blood pressure, normal cholesterol, and weight loss. The food is great and we have minimal cravings (bonus). I know what is in 85% of my food as it's mostly, whole and non-processed. This is a good feeling, particularly when you spend a day Googling food ingredients like Gelatin, Rennet, etc. It's also crazy that we know more about what is in dog food than human food. An example, most dog food commercials advertise by-products as a bad walks Gelatin for humans. It's made by boiling by-products. Why is it not ok for a dog but great for humans, LOL? Just a question.

No preaching here. I'm a big believer in doing what works for you as an individual. I just wanted to share this experience for those who might also be suffering from dietary health issues and let you know that there is an answer. Let's face it, we need to be healthy to keep on loom knitting and other crafting!

I hope you enjoy this recipe, it's so delish that you won't even miss the dairy!

  • spritz Avocado oil spray
  • 7 cups chopped broccoli florets (Reserve 2 Cups for later)
  • Chopped carrots (Reserve 1 carrot for later)
  • ribs Chopped Celery (Reserve 1 rib for later)
  • 2 cups Raw Baby Spinach (Reserve 1 cup for later)
  • 1 medium finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons Oat Flour
  • 4 cups Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
  • 2 cups Almond Milk
  • 34 cup Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • 14 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • Cube Not-Beef Bouillon Cube (Edward & Sons Brand used OR Vegetable Bouillon)
  • Black Pepper to taste

    1 So easy in a Dutch Oven but works in any pot! You will also need a hand blender for blending the soup.

      2 Spritz the bottom of your dutch oven with avocado oil. Heat on low. Add the broccoli, celery, carrot, spinach and onion (leaving the reserve to the side for later). Cook on low/medium heat for approximately 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.

        3 Sprinkle oat flour over veggies, stirring constantly to coat for about 1 minute.

          4 Gradually add vegetable broth, almond milk and coconut milk, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, soy sauce, vegetable cube and black pepper to taste. Simmer the soup for 10 to 15 minutes or until veggies are tender.

            5 Blend the soup to your liking, 1/2 to 2/3 of the soup smooth.

              6 Add reserve vegetables to soup and simmer for 15 minutes on low with the lid on.

                7 OPTIONAL (makes it extra delish!): Make Broccoli Croutons by Sauteeing broccoli florets in avocado oil and a little salt until brown on edges. Place on top of the soup and sprinkle a little vegan parmesan cheese on top too.

                  8 Enjoy! Serve with bread, a salad or your main dish.

                  This soup is full of healthy veggies!

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