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Vegan Lentil Loaf (aka Meatless Meatloaf)

29 Jul

Ok. I am still a blogger in progress… I learn things from trial and error. Case in point: I now know that I should have spread some ketchup on the top of this to make it “pop” more in the pictures. It looks bland, it looks boring, it looks…like meatloaf. But I assure you, this loaf is not only cheap to make, healthy to eat, packed with protein, and unphotogenic — it’s also really, really tasty. I had my worries when I served it to my friends Matt and Megan; I had finally actually measured what I put into this dish, and written a real recipe down. I worry that meals don’t turn out as well when I have to use tablespoons to calculate instead of handfuls and pinches. But Matt and Megan ended up asking for the recipe to make an appearance on the blog! I figure, if Matt was comfortable saying, “This is my new favorite food! Something Loaf! What did you call it?” it can’t be that bad. This is a very tame recipe, too, so it’s a decent way to introduce lentils to someone not very well acquainted with them. I’d like to do more potent variations — strong Italian flavors, and so on. Mmm. So on.

Also… Meat Loaf is my ALL TIME favorite 80s/90s rocker. My friends and family totally know what I mean when I casually talk about “The Loaf.” In high school, I once jammed out in my little red Saturn to his best song ever (see below) with my friend Haley. As we sat parked in her driveway, Sonic Limeaides in the cupholders (forgive me), at the height of the ballad, I grabbed my car lighter and proceeded to wave it around like a “real” lighter. You know, just like you would at a concert? Yeah. One limeaide too many, apparently, because my thumb slipped… The burns didn’t go away until late college. ( = I had a circle on my fingerprint for years.) True fan devotion.

There is a fine line between “ironically” liking something (the 80s, for instance), and actually liking something. Meat Loaf was once in the blurry overlap of these categories for me. Now, I think I’ve discovered that I legitimately enjoy the doofus. He’s lovable, in a stray cat kind of way, you know? A really, really large, odd, stray cat. That likes to dress up in costumes. Bonus: I do the best rendition of “I Would Do Anything for Love” (the 12 minute version) that you will ever see. Seriously. I have witnesses.

Back to the Non-Meat Loaf… I honestly don’t remember where I first learned about the concept of a lentil loaf, so I’m not sure who to credit for initially inspiring the idea! I’ve been making these types of loaves for a year or so, and this week when I did a search to try and find out where I encountered it back then, I found that there are a myriad of similar recipes out there. That did not make sorting through them easy, and I still don’t know who the catalyst was for me. But I did find Angela at Oh She Glows’ lentil loaf recipe in the process, and Angela’s version looks wonderful, with accents of apple, raisin, and walnut. I would definitely recommend checking out her unique take on this dish if you’re looking for something a little different. Also, she used the blending method with success as well, so trust us — it works : )

1/4 C flax meal
1/2 C water
1-2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
1 C shredded carrot (I used a cheese grater…classy)
1 small onion (I always use red)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 Tb oregano
1 Tb (heaping) cumin
2 C cooked lentils (I used French; they were on sale)
1/2 C almond flour

1) With a fork, whisk together flax and water in a bowl and set aside.
2) Dice onions and garlic.
3) In a large pan, saute onions and shredded carrots in olive oil over medium heat. (I sprinkle salt on mine to get them to sweat out moisture.)
4) Add garlic after a few minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning.
5) Remove from heat after onions become translucent. Add lentils and almond flour.
6) Place 80-90% of the mixture in a food processor or blender until it is more processed than not. (See below for pictures.) Place back in pan or a large bowl.
7) Salt (and pepper) generously, and add flax “egg” mix to lentil mix.
8 ) Press into two loaf pans (mine are the strange size of 7 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 2 1/4, but you can use bigger or smaller ones — the baking time will vary, however), and place in a 375* oven.
9) Check on the loaf periodically, but they will most likely take at least 45 minutes. It’s done when you tap on the top and it’s stiff, and sides are browned. Let them cool before slicing!

Some tips: I tend to put some parchment or foil into my pans before I make this (mainly because my pans are kind of…”used”). It makes taking the loaf out a cinch, so I remove it after a few minutes of cooling to speed up the process. Here is the texture I achieved when I processed the lentil mix (go a tad smoother than this, though — I liked it better that way when I re-tested):

Here’s the contrast of how the processed lentil mixture looks next to the whole mixture.

You can omit this step, but it will most likely be crumbly if you do. Just a head’s up!

We love to have these loaves on hand during the school year, especially, because they make a portable, fast lunch, and a quick, easy dinner if made ahead of time on a lazy Sunday afternoon. We douse ours in agave ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce. It sounds juvenile, but really it’s just delicious ; )

Have you tried lentil loaf before?


Asian Peanut Salad Dressing + Dipping Sauce

8 Jul

When I used to go out for sushi on a semi-normal basis, my favorite part wasn’t necessarily the sushi… It was the complementary salad that some of the restaurants I frequented would offer. More specifically, it was the ridiculously delicious peanut dressing that was dolloped on the lettuce leaves. However… the whole “mayo” and “high fructose corny syrup” and “preservative” thang was sort of a turn-off.

Do you want to know something funny? I love lettuce — I will eat it like an apple right off the head, I will chomp on leaves like a rabbit, I will eat a salad without any dressing at all. And I’ll like it. I am not a dressing person… But I also know that I am a freak little different than most people. And since I want to serve healthy food to the people I love, I realize that I’m a lot more persuasive when I serve my veggies with a little somethin’ somethin’ to drench them in. I’m no fool, folks — I am fully cognizant that my friend Joshua comes over to our place to eat solely for the honey mustard poppyseed dressing. Hey, I’m just glad he’s eating a fresh vegetable… those bachelors like to get a little reliant on smoothies and breakfast burritos, from what I hear… (<3 you Joshua!)

When a lovely reader named Brenda asked if I could please post some more dressings (apparently she, too, is hooked on the honey mustard poppyseed), and preferably ones that don’t require a blender, I was more than delighted to oblige. So, here is the first in hopefully a string of successful vegetable-disguising-or-complementing-depending-on-your-perspective dressings! I served an unfortunately water-ed down version of this with the cucumber-wrapped salads (apparently I have sushi on the brain lately, eh?), along with another dressing yet to be published. I tweaked this by eliminating the added water altogether and voila! Perfection. It’s now gone after just one sitting between the Husband and myself. Yes, we like to eat.

The best part? You probably already have all the ingredients, and it takes about 2 minutes total to get everything together, poured, and whipped up. Win!

1/4 C peanut butter
2 Tb agave
1.5 Tb lemon or lime juice (fresh)
1 Tb apple cider vinegar
2 tsp gluten-free tamari (you can sub soy sauce if you eat gluten)

1) Mix all ingredients in a bowl or small glass mason jar. Cover and store in the fridge.

Wow. One step. That’s pretty easy, yes? Not to mention it is crazy healthy! This dressing has a protein punch thanks to the peanut butter, which I don’t think any other variety of salad dressing can boast. It’s also versatile; it would be delicious as a sauce to toss with stir-fry, or pour over whole grains like millet or brown rice (my BFF Manfriend will be coating his pasta with this from now on), or in a number of other delicious scenarios. (Personally, I’ll be eating the salad I just made for these photos. It’s 8am, but I don’t care. It’s awesome. So. Yeah.)

Go nuts with the possibilities! (No pun intended; peanuts are legumes, not nuts…hehe.)

In other news, this weekend, I will be staying up in the mountains with my mom’s side of the family. We get the chance to celebrate my grandma (I called her G-Funk, and yes, she was adorable and loved it) and her life, which ended early this spring. Even though I am saying my final goodbye to one of my best friends (I mean that sincerely), and it will feel strange to be savoring all the things she loved without her, I am so thankful that we get to be together in one of her favorite places, and enjoy nature just as she would have.

What are you doing this weekend?

Have you ever tried the awesomesauce that sushi places serve on salads?

Cucumber Lettuce Wraps (aka The Sushi-Shaped Salad)

6 Jul

While we were at the Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference a couple weeks ago, we had the privilege of being served dinner by Whole Foods out on their patio. This meal was made extra special not only by the new friends it was shared with, or the gorgeous backdrop of the Flatirons, but also by the accommodating vegan menu! That meant no one had to worry about triggering a dairy allergy, or picking meat out of their food, or feeling awkward. I didn’t hear a single person say they missed anything, either; we all just rejoiced in how delicious it was. Isn’t that a mark of great cooking — when no one has to be left out, or disappointed with flavor, and everyone can (literally) break bread together? The evening was lovely, in a word. It was the kind of food you relish (no pun intended) the opportunity to capture in pictures. Definitely check out Anne, Lori, Theodora, and Gretchen’s posts for some gorgeous photo recaps of that night.

My favorite (other than the Lemon Tart with Date and Almond Crust [I'm literally drooling right now]) was the cucumber lettuce wrap. It’s essentially what it sounds like: they wrapped a little salad of lettuce and radish inside a cucumber, and drizzled it with green goddess dressing. I finally decided to recreate the presentation/method this past week — an hour before we had to be at a birthday party. Because I thoroughly enjoy putting as much pressure on myself as possible in any given situation. Try some weird new culinary experiment I just came up with that seems impossible but intriguing? Ten minutes before someone comes over? Yes, that’s a GREAT idea!

Why did I think this would work, again? I wondered, as I threw another strip of cucumber on the “discard” (aka Eat Later) pile. Then the BFF Manfriend convinced me that I needed to slice the cukes very thin. I first muttered dismissively a little as he sliced one  – and then, after seeing that the cucumber piece didn’t break for the umpteenth time when I rolled it, said, “Oh, wow. Yeah, you’re right.” Marriage is all about love, honesty, communication… and a lot of humility.

(But I still hate being wrong.)

In my haste I didn’t take step-by-step snapshots (man, those would be helpful, eh?)… And my natural light was fading, thus these photos don’t accurately convey how vibrant the salads will appear. So. Sorry about that. I’ll add some process photos when I make these next. But, in the meantime, just keep this in mind: slice your cukes thin. Thinner than you might think you should. And trust.

2 large cucumbers
1 head lettuce (use a fairly pliable variety like butter or red leaf)
1-2 carrots
long toothpicks

1) Slice cucumbers length-wise, to as thin a thickness as possible. They should hold together, and bend without breaking. We ingeniously used the cheese slicer on the side of our broken grater. Classy.
2) Cut carrots into short (~1″), thin matchsticks.
3) Place one or two lettuce leaves on the cucumber slice (line them up length-wise). I rolled my leaves to get them to fit.
4) Place a carrot matchstick or two at the end of the slice.
5) Start rolling the cucumber tightly (like you would cinnamon roll dough; click here for example).
6) Use a toothpick to spear the roll together.

I know it seems complicated, but after a few attempts, you’ll totally get your groove.

These are great as appetizers and fingers food (if you roll them small enough, as I did). You can drizzle dressing on the tops when all are finished and plated, or serve them with dressings to use as a dip. Stay tuned for some recommendations… I have at least two new recipes to share : )


What creative ways have you seen salad served?

Petite Vanilla Scones: Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, + Vegan!

29 Jun

Ok, so. About this… I had to practice a lot of self-restraint to not blurt out what I had made all over Twitter and Facebook. Instead, I teased. I talked about riding my bike to various grocery stores 5 times in 95*+ heat. I talked about my 4 failed attempts. I talked about standing in front of my stove for hours with no air conditioning in the middle of summer. I talked about letting some frustrations slip out of my mouth as I paid for yet another jar of vanilla beans. And I taunted that I had hit the vegan, gluten-free jackpot of deliciousness with the final success batch. After all that dramatic build-up, you can see what I was so dedicated to making…

When I saw Mama Pea’s take on a vegan version of Starbucks’ Petite Vanilla Scones last week, I was excited. I had been contemplating making a gluten-free version for months — literally, months. Somehow I had gotten wind of this Starbucks scone craze, and then ran across it via a random link to The Pioneer Woman’s blog. The wheels were churning. If you take a look at that version, you might notice why I would need to use some creativity; cream, wheat, and butter aren’t so much included in my diet. I was totally overwhelmed. What would they be made out of?! But then I saw Mama Pea’s genius “health-ified” upgrade — and a vegan one at that! No more excuses. No more missing out on tasty treats. It was time to vegan-ify my scone recipe, and make a gluten-free alternative to these adorable little scones. At last — gluten-free eaters, rejoice! You can partake in the deliciousness. Huzzah!

P.S. My recipe looks way more complicated than it is — trust me.

3 Tb water + 1 Tb ground flax seed
2 1/2 C blanched almond flour (make your own and save)
2 Tb arrowroot powder
2 Tb coconut flour
3/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/4 C agave nectar
1/2 Tb vanilla extract
1 t fresh lemon juice
1 vanilla bean pod

1) Mix water and flax together with a fork and set aside for 10 minutes (ideally, you can put everything else together during this time).
2) Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3) Mix agave, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and vanilla bean pod scrapings (click here for tutorial).
4) Add agave mixture to dry ingredients. Stir, and add flax egg.
5) Stir until combined. I like to actually use my hands to mix gently and thoroughly.
6) Flatten into a rectangle on a parchment-lined baking sheet. It won’t rise much in the oven, so keep that in mind, thickness-wise. My dough was around 1/2″-3/4″, I would guess.
7) Cut four even lines into dough with a sharp knife,. (Example)
8 ) Cut three more even lines in the opposite direction. (Example)
9) Cut each small rectangle/square in half on the diagonal for a total of 24 mini scone triangles.
10) Arrange carefully on the baking sheet so that they are spread evenly. Pop in a 350* oven for about 10-12 minutes — until the edges and tops are lightly browned. Let cool.

Vanilla Bean Glaze

1 C powdered sugar (corn-free for some of us!)
2 Tb unsweetened almond milk (I used vanilla for added flair)
2 vanilla bean pod

1) Add almond milk to powdered sugar. It will seem to dry at first, but just trust and keep stirring with a fork until smooth.
2) Scrape the vanilla bean pod and stir into glaze mixture.

You can certainly halve the glaze recipe and just lightly lace your scones with a slight drizzle of frosting. I just included the whole recipe in case you are crazy about the glaze…y. I avoid refined-type sugar as much as possible (my body doesn’t do well with it), but I’m still working on a mild-tasting, sugar-free alternative. If you can’t eat this small amount of powdered sugar, don’t fret! Simply mix the vanilla bean scrapings with agave or honey and drizzle immediately before serving (it will eventually soak into the scone and make it soft). Still delicious — just different : )

So. Do they look worth the teasing? Perhaps not after you look at Mama Pea and The Pioneer Woman’s beautiful photography. I admit it, I don’t have a DSLR, or — what really counts – mad skillz. BUT if you taste these, do come back and let me know what you think. I’m guessing somewhere in between “vanilla sugar cookie” and “what a rainbow would taste like if it exploded with joy in my mouth.”

Oh yeah — and speaking of exploding (good transition, Katie)… If you want to make a fun 4th of July brunch spread, how about this banner of delicious, patriotic themed scones?! Thanks to Kelly of The Spunky Coconut for hosting another great Our Spunky Holiday Gluten-Free Carnival!

Red (ish)


And blue:


Any other fun ideas you’d like to see adapted?

GF (+ Veg) Camp Food

16 Jun

I’m back! So, some of you saw my hints on Twitter and Facebook already…oh my word, do I have some stories to share. But more on that later. I feel badly that the blog has been kind of wacky lately. I would guess that, although you seem to enjoy laughing at my travel exploits, you might miss the recipes. Thus, today I will start with the food from our trip, and save the chronicles of craziness for another time. These aren’t really straight-up recipes; they are more methods that you can adapt to your needs and tastes. I just wanted to share some ideas, in case you’re overwhelmed with “What will I eat?!” camping dilemmas. Please do not assume that camping has to be rough just because you don’t eat gluten, or dairy, or meat. Even if you’re not in any of those boats, after this (egregiously long) post, you’ll know what to pack for your (high-maintenance) friends  ; )

These are some “essentials” for camp cooking that I personally bring, and recommend:
- cast iron skillet (even just a small one)
- heavy duty aluminum foil
- metal utensils (fork, spoon)
- paring knife
- substantial water container (more on that tomorrow…)
- Klean Kanteen

I prefer to use a firepit with a retractable grill instead of lugging around a propane stove. All you have to do is wrap your metal skillet, pot, or food itself (see below) in heavy duty foil. Everything will be fine. Really.

(And of course, please reuse what foil you can!)

Any guesses as to what I’m stirring?

The first night we arrived, I tried something a little different than our usual camp food fare: I made curry!

This is a method, not a recipe; and I assure you, anyone can pull this off! Just trust yourself, and taste along the way. Place your (foil-laden) pot on the grill, and cover the bottom of the inside with a thin layer of curry powder, a generous sprinkling of cumin and turmeric, and a little ginger or garlic (powder, for ease). Give the spices a stir, and once they are a bit fragrant, pour some olive oil in, and stir. Add chopped onions and carrots. Stir. Add more veggies — whatever you have. We used cabbage, and precut cauliflower, broccoli, and zucchini. I also added the bag of frozen peas for protein; I love using them as “ice packs” on trips!

Add a splash (or a few) of water, and keep spicing as you go. Make the dish suit you. And don’t forget to add salt — copious amounts of salt.

Happy campers, indeed.

Save dishes, and trees: just eat right out of your pan (and lid)… Ain’t no shame in my game.

The next morning, we awoke to rain. It was not only a great excuse to snuggle into our sleeping bags a little longer, it was also the ideal setting for a hot breakfast once the sun broke through…*

And by hot, you knew I meant made with fire, right?

(Yes, I almost burned down my house as a child once. Why do you ask?)

Grilled toast (for the BFF Manfriend). Just place bread on the frame, watch, and flip. Easiest toast ever.

These (ethically-sourced) eggs were awesome, I’m not going to lie to you.

But that’s not all…

Slice. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, wrap carefully in foil, set directly in hot coals, near a flame if possible. Turn it halfway through to cook the other side. This method works with regular potatoes, as well as squash! Just keep it upright, so that oil doesn’t leak out. Remove and carefully open the foil to check for doneness. You can always reseal it and drop it back into the heat.

I also diced half the sweet potato and fried it in the cast iron until crisp — ’twas perfect!*

Can you see something hiding in the coals?

Both methods are superb. Just don’t be so adult that you leave your agave ketchup behind… Adulthood is overrated!

At this point, we embarked on our hike. Which, again, is a tale in itself, and shall be recounted in detail soon. I will share that we were utterly depleted when we reached base camp again, and I was not about to spend an hour slaving over a hot stove burning fire. At this point in the camping day, I like meals that I can just throw into coals and walk away from. Call me lazy.

Foil-Wrapped, Fire-Cooked, Easy Stuffed Bell Peppers

2-3 green bell peppers
1 can of black beans
1 can or small jar of salsa or Ro-Tel (or a mix)
organic cheese or Daiya, if desired

1) Carefully cut tops of bell peppers, like you would a jack-o-lantern.
2) Remove seeds.
3) Pour beans (I rinsed and drained mine a couple times in the can) to cover the bottom of each pepper.
4) Add a layer of salsa/Ro-Tel.
5) Repeat.
6) Replace top, and carefully wrap in foil. Keep upright and place in hot coals/fire.
7) Turn halfway through (again, check for doneness at any point, just be careful when resealing).
8 ) Remove and top with cheese if you prefer. Eat directly out of foil with a fork.

If your significant other tries to pass off their pepper remains to you once the filling is gone, fight the urge to selfishly devour it, and hint that some salt will really bring out the flavor. Be patient with his or her skepticism. Then bask in the glow of a happy spouse and no leftovers.

Whew! That’s a serious recap. But I know that so many of you are traveling this summer, and I don’t ever want you to feel left out because of a dietary restriction. Hopefully these examples can provide some inspiration and encouragement for your own creative camp meals. And don’t be intimidated by the fire: remember, everything tastes better when cooked outdoors! : )

Featured in Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free

Any other camp cooking ideas?

*Sorry for the inconsistent quality in photos… The lighting was a bit tricky to work with on this trip!

Summer Grilling Marinade

5 Jun

First of all, before you tell me you hate mushrooms, let me tell you a story:

I didn’t used to like mushrooms

My husband didn’t used to like mushrooms.

Kids (in general) didn’t used to like mushrooms.

Guess who’s bringin’ mushrooms back? (Be honest, do you have Justin Timberlake stuck in your head now?)  I threw this dressing together on the fly the other day as we prepared a meal for my in-laws. There was some teasing at the generous amount of mushrooms I had bought, but after they had marinated in this dressing and were served up at the table, even my little one year old nephew was asking for “Mo!” I am taking that as a win. I know the kid loves food, but…hey. A mushroom is a mushroom.

That, and they tasted like pepperoni. In a very vegan way. Or something.

The zucchini we marinated and grilled was delicious as well. We didn’t bother adding the sauce to the onions, as they seem to not soak it up, and are plenty flavorful on their own. You can make these into shish kebabs, broil them, or grill the zucchini in long strips, as we did. (Just try not to engulf them in flames get too much char on them like we did.)

1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
2 Tb red wine vinegar
1 Tb white (regular) vinegar
2 t oregano
2 t basil
2 t garlic powder (I rarely use garlic powder, but it’s better than fresh garlic in this case, for texture and a smoother flavor)
2-3 t dried onions
salt and fresh ground pepper

1) In a bowl, mix the olive oil and vinegars together.
2) Whisk in dry spices, and taste.
3) Add salt, pepper, and more or less of any other ingredient to taste.
3) To use as a marinade, pour into a large bag (or a glass baking dish), and add vegetables. Shake to distribute.
4) Lay bag flat, and flip over after 20-30 minutes. Marinate for 40-60 minutes, if you can.
5) Grill or broil vegetables.

We served these alongside whole grain pasta tossed in homemade pesto (obviously, I didn’t partake of this). I remember one summer we had grilled vegetables for the majority of our dinners each week. It got a little out of control…. Even so, we aren’t sick of it, and grilled veggies are the sure sign that summer has arrived! It’s so easy, there’s just no reason to use that processed bottled stuff that’s filled with preservatives and fillers. This dressing is high-fructose corn syrup, metabulsulfite, and Red #40 free, and tasty to boot! It comes together in less than five minutes — just add veggies and walk away for an hour. Zing.

What’s your go-to summer meal?

Breaded Zucchini and Zucchini Fries (GF + Vegan)

4 Jun

The night before last, the husband and I walked into my in-laws house (Mom S. was gone, Dad S. knew we were coming), and I looked at the four zucchinis we brought and saw potential. I wanted something more substantive than just sauteed zucchini, so I tried to envision the various ways they could be cut. I sliced most into fry shapes, without giving it much thought. And then I remembered Ashley (of The Edible Perspective)’s post on asparagus fries! Those had looked so good – why not an Italian squash, too? I tend to gravitate more towards grain-less flours like almond, as they are easier on my body, but I also love the nutty, almost buttery flavor almond flour lends to dishes. Not to mention that it adds a protein and fiber punch! These did not disappoint — they were perfect. As you will see below, I also tried breading long strips of zucchini and frying them on the stove (rather than making them into fries and baking them). My taste-tester was just slightly more partial to the fried zucchini. You could also cut the squash into round medallions, and bread them following the same steps, like fried pickles! Easy peasy.

This is another “recipe” that is more of a method… The amounts will vary by how much zucchini you use. But it’s no big thang. Just make more flax egg and add more almond flour as needed. But don’t skimp on the salt – that’s what brings out all the deliciousness.

2 medium-sized zucchini
~1/2-3/4 C almond flour
1/4 C water
2 Tb ground flax seed

1) Mix water with flax seed and set aside for about 5 minutes to gel.
2) For fries, slice zucchini into ~3″ long fry spears (i.e., about the length of normal fries, but about double the thickness). For breaded zucchini, just slice  into long, flat strips. Follow directions the same unless noted.
3) In a deep plate, add about 1/4 C almond flour, and generously mix in salt.
4) Once flax has gelled some, dip or roll zucchini in the flax “egg”.
5) Roll each individual fry in almond flour breading mixture to coat. Set aside.
6) Add more flour/salt mix to plate and make more flax egg as needed until all zucchini is used.
7) Place on greased, flat baking sheet, and cook in oven at 400*, flipping carefully after the first side browns. (Keep a close eye on these — they can burn fairly quickly.) For breaded zucchini, simply fry them in some olive oil on the stove, flipping once browned on one side.

This may not be the most photogenic, but don’t worry about how it looks. It will more than make up for it’s rather non-uniform appearance with it’s uniformly delectable flavor. <3

Featured in Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

What are you cooking this weekend?

Stay tuned for another veggie-centric recipe for tomorrow…!

Easy GF, Vegan Baked Beans

30 May

Oh, hey. Just bought you a ticket to Yum Town. Ready to board?

(Awkward silence.)

Sorry. But seriously. This is beyond words. Still, I am rarely without words, even if something lies far outside the bounds of them. (= I am really annoying.) So let me attempt to explain this to you. Did you know the secret to awesome baked beans is mustard? Yes. Many of you suggested I make this dish in a GF and vegan reconstruction for Memorial Day BBQs. I must admit, I was thinking the same thing. I tried making baked beans the other day by starting with tomato paste. No dice. Too tomato-y. If I have a fail in the kitchen, for some reason it seems like a statement about the state of my life more generally. Bad batch of baked beans = Katie is the worst thing ever and has no purpose. Yep. That’s why I need to write posts like my Think This, Not That series… I am a crazy=pants. So, anyway. I (wo)manned-up, and put my big girl apron on. I tried to summon all my baked bean wisdom and experiences. There was a lot of bacon in that zone, so I tried to go a little deeper… There has to be a (non-meat) secret ingredient, right? I remembered my mom always casually just squeezing half a bottle of mustard into her baked beans. Wait, I thought. Wait just a second. I know what I’m doing wrong here. I’m trying too hard to do this on my own. Think back. Use The Force.

What now, Baked Beans? I will slay you. And no pork necessary. Suckahhh.

1 can (about 1 1/2 C) cooked white beans (I used Great Northern, but Cannelini or even Pinto would work too)
1/2 C water
extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion (I always use red, but do whatever)
1 large or 2 medium sized cloves garlic
2 Tb ketchup (I strongly suggest this awesome agave-sweetened kind by Organicville. It’s rocked my condiment-loving-world.)
2 Tb yellow mustard (prepared — not the powder)
2 Tb molasses
1/2 t paprika
1/4 t garlic powder
salt, pepper, cayenne

1) Chop onions and add them to a stovetop pan with olive oil (I used about 1 Tb evoo) over medium heat.
2) Dice garlic, and add to onion. Sprinkle both with salt, and cook until almost caramelized (browned).
3) You should have a crust of residue from the caramelizing; add just a splash (2-3 Tb?) of water to “deglaze.” Remove from heat.
4) Add rinsed, cooked beans and sprinkle with salt (important to salt the beans, especially after they’ve been rinsed). Set aside.
5) In an 8×8 pyrex baking dish, mix remaining ingredients (I added just a sprinkle of cayenne — feel free to omit).
6) Add beans, onions, and garlic.
7) Place in a preheated 350* oven. Let cook until a nice little pseudo-crust has formed on top (~20/30 minutes?), and remove.

Yum Town arrival.

I will be the first to say I think these are even better if they sit overnight in the fridge. Aren’t most things? Especially beans. Also, my husband thinks this dish would be additionally awesome with a higher ratio of beans — feel free to add more, of course! I like mine either way.

Edited to Add: Also, I would strongly recommend doubling, tripling, or quadrupling this recipe. It’s ridiculous. One person already made this and said: “Dude…those baked beans were out of control good. Only thing I would do differently is double the recipe!” So. Take the wonderful Hilary Tina’s advice. She knows what she’s talking about. : )

I was aiming for a flavor similar to the Busch’s of old, but I think I might actually prefer some extra mustard for tang. The wonderful part of this dish is that you can easily adapt it even after it comes out of the oven. Try a taste. Not zingy enough? Add more mustard. Not sweet enough? Add a glop more molasses and/or ketchup. It’s a beautiful thing, this dish. A beautiful, tasty thing.

Featured in Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

Have a great (Memorial) day! What are you cookin’ up (activity-wise, and food-wise)?

Recipe Recycle: Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (Or Pizookie)

29 May

Thanks for understanding that I needed a day to regain my balance, friends. I’m sorry to unexpectedly not show up yesterday, but…life happens. I stayed up the night before last until around 1am hammering out a (very long) post, but when the time came to push “Publish” for Saturday’s (intended) post, it just didn’t feel right. There are some times that I need to write, just to vomit all my thoughts up in a tangible way (sorry for that image…), so that I can revisit and edit them later into something more useful. So it’s not that I just flaked on you, if that makes a difference. I want my posts to be worth reading!

But, to be transparent, I also felt that it would have been disingenuous to post – to say I’m striving to live a holistically healthy life, yet all the while I’m sick, totally depleted, can barely get off the couch, and am still forcing myself to spend hours and a good deal of energy blogging. Is that health — to push myself to the limits of exhaustion, denying myself the rest that I need? No, and I think I would have been a hypocrite if I would have posted yesterday. I often discuss the significance of being good to ourselves, listening to our bodies (and minds) to better understand our individual needs. Stressing out about putting together a new post and other blog-related responsibilities would have been destructive for me, and diametrically opposed to the mission of this website. It would not have nourished a flourishing life for me. Sometimes, “pushing through the pain” is the worst possible option. Sure, canceling plans on (blog-reading) friends sucks. But in the end, it’s what’s best for everyone.

However, I think I can make my “calling in sick” day up by having awesome posts this week. Right? That will be my goal. In the meantime, I have a wonderful recipe for Memorial Day. Or any day. You know, whatever. You’ll notice that this is, admittedly, nearly the same recipe as my Dark Chocolate Chip Biscotti. But, the great news is, it’s also just as delicious! This new method actually saves a few steps. And…it’s a giant cookie. Any objections? Good.  Just think of it as recycling : )

2 1/2 C blanched almond flour (you can easily make your own — yay!)
2 Tb arrowroot powder (you can probably sub a little coconut flour or extra almond flour if you don’t have it)
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/3 C agave or honey
1 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 Tb vanilla
~1/4 C dark chocolate chips

1) Mix all dry ingredients except chocolate chips.
2) Add wet ingredients and stir to combine (it may seem too dry — just trust and keep stirring, or wet hands and mix that way). Add chocolate chips.
3) Lightly oil an 8×8 glass baking dish (I rubbed some coconut oil on mine).
4) With wet hands, press dough into the dish.
5) Place in a preheated 350* oven. Remove when it begins to brown on top, and a fork comes out clean in the middle. Cut into bars.


This is essentially a gluten-free, vegan (if made with agave and vegan chocolate) version of a cookie bar or pizookie. It’s surprisingly healthy, and insanely delicious. Imagine a hint of crunch on the outside, and soft chewy yum-ness with burst of dark melted chocolate on the inside. I would suggest doubling the recipe if you plan to bring this to a Memorial Day cookout, because it is addictive!

What are you doing for Memorial Day?

Or, just tell me what you’re doing to nourish your flourishing life right now : )


Spicy Cabbage Soup for Sassy Sinuses

26 May



We meet again.

I am not pleased to see you. There, I said it. I get that you are just hypersensitive and want to be all up in my biznass, but seriously, Immune System – I’m a big girl now and I can take care of myself! You are way too overprotective. It’s embarrassing. I walk around with swollen eyes all day long, totally drained, with these powerful headaches, just because you apparently didn’t get the memo that lilacs are not poison. They just smell nice. Chill out, antibodies.

As a result of this autoimmune fun (and by “fun” I mean “horror”), I was in a daze yesterday. Occasionally, my allergies get debilitating — seriously. I’ll spare you the details, but imagine the worst headcold you can, and then throw some Satan into the picture for interesting twists. Yep, that’s about accurate. It can drag me down to just laying on a couch, mumbling incoherently about how I want BFF Manfriend to “pull the plug.”

He is a patient, saintly man. I know this. (And yes, I did drama in high school — why do you ask?)

Anyway. I suspect there may be an actual cold in the background of the allergies as well right now. It’s hard to distinguish the two sometimes, because they tend to go hand in hand, egging each other on in their torturous ways. So I finally went ahead and tried to make something that would kind of “clean out the attic” – if the attic is my head, and my sinuses are the forgotten corners. (Can you tell I’m still delirious? Good metaphor. Not.) There is one type of soup I crave when I feel unwell – whether it be a flu, a cold, a life disappointment, or a paranoid immune system that hates lilacs (WHO HATES LILACS?!?! Come on, I.S.!) It has to include a tomato base, cabbage, garlic, and some heat. Everything else is take-it-or-leave-it. I made do with what I had, and it was amazing. So, for all my fellow allergy and/or cold sufferers, know that while this won’t cure you, it definitely takes the edge off. And the congestion out.

This is yet another free-and-easy, loosey-goosey, do-what-you-will-and-hyphenate-extravagantly kind of recipe. There’s nothing all that creative going on here; it’s really just vegetables. I’m sure there are a bazillion (roughly) other similar recipes out there. And with good reason. It’s utterly simple – the only added spices are salt, pepper, and cayenne (well, and enough garlic to keep the Twilighters away. Joke.). Yep. It’s easy, crazy healthy (I mean – CRAZY), and comes together in probably 15 minutes. Chop chop, stir, pour, stir, shake, stir, eat. It’s even pleasant to make – rhythmic chopping and a comforting smell wafting through your kitchen. What’s not to love?

The fact that I’m allergic to the best smell in the world – lilacs. Ah. Touché. That’s not to love.

This soup can be eaten cold, like gazpacho, warm/room temperature, or hot. Because things are sort of, kind of, maybe, but not for sure yet, starting to warm up around here (it’s Colorado. We have 4 seasons in every single day so…we have to be noncommittal about our assessments.). I devoured this after I got home from working out – two big bowlfuls. It was spicy enough to keep me downing the H20 to rehydrate, but not to the point that I couldn’t taste and enjoy my meal. It was the perfect ending to my day! And it definitely made a difference in my…uh…overcapacitated sinus cavities, and itchy throat.

It a happily-ever-after soup.

extra virgin olive oil
½ head or 1 very small cabbage
½ small red onion
2 medium-sized carrots
2-3 stalks celery
6-8 cloves garlic (I used 7, varying in size)
1 28 oz can chunky tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
~ ½ C water (optional)
salt + pepper
cayenne (or hot sauce, or both)

1) Chop cabbage by first slicing the head into ribbons, and then slicing in the other direction.
2) Chop onion, carrots, celery, and garlic as well. I like mine diced quite small in this recipe, but do what you like.
3) Drizzle enough olive oil into a large pot so that when heated to medium, it covers the bottom in a thin layer.
4) Add vegetables, salt generously (to make them sweat a little), and stir.
5) Once veggies are starting to soften, add tomato sauce/diced tomatoes. and stir. You may want to add some water to thin it out to your desired consistency — I used about ¾ C or so.
6) Add salt, coarse ground pepper, and cayenne and/or hot sauce to taste. Stir, reduce to a lower heat, and let simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Serve.

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I like it with some crunch still in the carrots, so my times reflect this. Feel free to cook longer if you wish. It’s even better the next day! I feel so much better after eating this. It’s not a panacea, but it is delicious, healthy, and quick.

Take that, Sinuses.

Do you have allergies? Any special cures?

My doctor relative swears by drinking a teaspoon of your urine in a glass of water every morning. Something about the amount of antibodies… I mentioned this on Twitter once to some hilarious reactions… Thoughts?

(Do you hear the desperation in my voice?)