Raise your hand if spring break is not going as you had planned... everyone, ok, that's what I thought. I was talking to my Grandma (on the phone), and she said, “in all my 80 years of life, I have never experienced anything like what is happening now.” The world has stopped. Flights have been canceled, schools are online, restaurants are closed, beaches and parks are closed and the Kennedy Expressway is WIDE open (I promise, that NEVER happens!) I found myself looking through an endless stream of photos from spring breaks of the past and checking the weather hour by hour for some kind of sign that spring was going to join us when it hit me. What are the flavors of “spring break?” Why can’t I at least recreate one of the 5 senses of Spring Break? Is it, fresh pineapple by the beach? Or coconut water straight from the coconut? Or strawberry daiquiris? Check, check and check! I got to work and created the easiest and most delicious Spring Break Smoothie! I promise, if you sip it slowly enough, lay your beach towel down and sit by the window (add sunglasses for effect) and close your eyes, you’re ON THAT BEACH! I know it’s not my normal, prepare for your week ahead, recipe. BUT, this will hopefully bring you some sunshine on a cloudy day. Enjoy!
Ingredients (smoothie for one)
1 cup of canned coconut milk
1 cup of fresh or frozen pineapple
½ cup of frozen strawberries
2 ice cubes
This recipe is dedicated to my chocolate loving best friend, Traci. I have countless fun memories of Traci and I going to chocolate shops in college together, sharing chocolate desserts at the Walnut room, drinking sipping chocolate on our yearly reunions and making chocolate desserts in our college apartment kitchen. When we were in Portland together this fall, I was wandering around alone and I found THE BEST chocolate shop. It was wall to wall chocolate!! I wanted to create this recipe for Traci to eat for breakfast during her birthday week. I wish we didn't live so far way so I could make this for her on her on her birthday morning, just like the good old days when we lived together. (Happy Birthday Traci!) I hope you all enjoy this super easy Chocolate Lover's Oatmeal!
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
½ cup steel cut oats
2 + 1/4 cups of unsweetened non dairy milk
½ tsp vanilla
2 tsp maple syrup (or to taste)
1 small square of dark chocolate (optional, but amazing)
Directions (makes two servings)
I have a very fond memory of going to Chicago with my cousins from Arizona, my sister and my mom and grandma a few years ago. We stopped at Eataly and enjoyed an Italian lunch and then wandered around the sweets floor. We happened upon a drink that featured basil and blueberries and I never forgot how refreshing and energizing that made me feel. I decided to recreate it at home and have been making it ever since for a healthy source of immune boosting antioxidants. I usually make this in the summer when I have an abundance of fresh basil in my garden and when fresh blueberries are in season, however, in light of the Coronavirus and flu that have us all feeling panic, I thought that it would be a good time to share this tonic. Blueberries are some of the most nutrient dense berries and I love using wild blueberries because they are even richer in antioxidants!! (see article)
Even though most of us are not headed into our normal work routine this week, I thought I it was still important to share a recipe in hopes that it could be helpful for your week(s) ahead at home. Taking care of our bodies is so incredibly important during this time of uncertainty. Stay healthy everyone!
Ingredients (makes one tonic)
1 cup fresh or frozen wild blueberries
¼ cup packed fresh basil leaves
Juice from ½ of a lemon
1 cup of filtered water
2 ice cubes
Place all of the ingredients in a high speed blender and blend on high until juice like consistency is achieved. Enjoy immediately or assemble in the evening, store in the fridge and re-blend in the morning.
My first memory of cooking, with my now husband, is of him making his Thai Curry pizza creation for me. He showed such pride in this dish and the results were incredibly yummy and unique. Think, stir fry + crispy crust pizza!! The key to achieve the crispiest crust is to slide the parchment lined pizza off of the pan (but keep it on the parchment) and directly onto the oven rack. This creates the crispiest crust EVER and perfectly stands up to the heavy toppings on this pizza. We make our own crust from a recipe in a cookbook Bill has had since college, but you can easily get fresh store bought dough from Trader Joes or Whole foods with the same results! We hope you enjoy this crispy, Make ahead of Monday creation by my favorite Chef Bill!
Fresh raw Pizza dough enough for two pizzas
1 block of extra firm tofu chopped into small cubes
1 T sesame oil
Salt & pepper to taste
1 T avocado oil
2 cloves of chopped garlic
2 T of chopped fresh ginger
I head of broccoli chopped into medium sized pieces
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 LB baby bella mushrooms sliced
1 bottle of Thai Red Curry sauce (We used Trader Joe’s brand)
3 green onions chopped
Toasted sesame seeds
A couple of years ago my husband and I tried a Vegan diet. It was supposed to be a two week experiment, inspired by our trip to Veggie Fest, however, we decided to give it a go for six months! It was fun, it was challenging, but mostly, it was a great opportunity to experiment with new foods. These tacos became our favorite for our weekly Taco Tuesday dinners, so much so, that my nickname became, “chickpea.” This taco filling takes less than 15 minutes to prepare, lasts for a week in the fridge, and is perfect for making taco salads and burrito bowls too! I hope you enjoy as much as we did!
½ chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 Tablespoons of olive oil or avocado oil
1 can of chickpeas (drained, not rinsed)
1.5 Tablespoons of taco seasoning (we recommend Costco brand)
2 T of chopped cilantro
6 hard taco shells warmed in the oven
For most of my life up until a recent heart surgery, I haven’t been able to handle the caffeine in coffee. Instead I turned to green tea for a jolt of energy if I really needed it. Now that I can drink coffee I still prefer the feeling of green tea to the overly intense burst of energy I get from coffee. While I love sipping tea, I thought, why not incorporate it into a smoothie for a healthy breakfast plus a bit of energy. The results were both healthy and delicious! I hope you enjoy this Energizing Matcha Green Smoothie packed with fruit and vegetables that can be prepared ahead for an easy morning breakfast!
1 cup almond or oat milk
2 T vanilla greek yogurt (use vegan yogurt if you’re vegan)
1 green apple cut into cubes
1 frozen banana
¼ - ½ teaspoon of food grade matcha powder
1 T of nut-butter
1 handful of frozen or fresh spinach
Directions to make RIGHT NOW (makes 1 smoothie)
Directions to Make Ahead
I love the heart healthy option of oatmeal in the morning. I recently learned some awesome news about oatmeal, that it can help lower cholesterol and curb inflammation. Eating oatmeal also provides protection from high blood pressure and weight gain and is a good source of fiber too. Check out this article about some of the benefits of eating oatmeal for breakfast.
When coupled with antioxidant rich blueberries, protein packed peanut butter and omega-3 rich chia seed it's such a healthy and delicious start to your morning!
1 cup of steel cut oats
4 cups of unsweetened oat milk
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 t of vanilla
4 dollops of peanut butter
Blueberry Chia Jam
2 cups of frozen wild blueberries
1 T of lemon juice (or orange juice)
1 T of maple syrup
1 T of chia seeds
Directions to make ahead (makes 4 servings)
Valentine's day is right around the corner and I always try to do something special for my sweetie. He loves when I make breakfast so I began experimenting with using warming gingerbread spices in pancakes and it turned out wonderfully! I can’t wait to make a double batch for him on Valentines morning and to save the leftovers for our week ahead! We found that these are best served with a drizzle of maple syrup but you can get creative with berries, or powdered sugar! We hope you enjoy these Gingerbread spiced pancakes!
½ cup of almond milk
½ tsp apple cider vinegar
1 egg whisked
1 Tbsp molasses
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp coconut oil or other vegetable oil
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
¾ cup of oat flour (to make your own, add rolled oats to a blender and blend on high until flour forms)
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
⅛ tsp cloves
⅛ tsp nutmeg
Directions (makes 6 pancakes)
Recipe inspired and adapted from Minimalist baker (gluten free protein pancakes)
Work trips, they are a blessing and a curse. For one, you get to step out of your ordinary life for a few days, explore new cities, drive through new areas and meet new people. But, it can also be extremely difficult to stick to a healthy routine and is especially challenging for vegetarians and vegans. SURPRISE… not every area of the United States is “vegetarian friendly.” In fact, in my preparations for my upcoming conference in Peoria I began searching for dinner and lunch options and found close to NOTHING suitable for a healthy balanced vegetarian diet. I was surprised because it is A. a college town, and B. one of the larger cities in Illinois outside of Chicago. So, I began preparing Make Ahead solutions for the road. Here are a few Make Ahead options to carry along with you as well as a few food travel tips should you find yourself in a similar situation.
- Breakfast -
Yes, there is the hotel breakfast, BUT it’s hardly ever a healthy option. Bagels, waffles, sugar cereal, these are okay in a pinch, but if you can plan ahead you can bring along a healthy breakfast that will satisfy you until lunch. This time I took along my Vegetarian Breakfast Casserole. I simply divided the casserole into reusable containers and packed it in a cooler and popped it into the hotel fridge. Two great vegan options include our Gingerbread Raisin Granola or Pumpkin Spice Granola with vegan yogurt or almond milk and our Sweet Potato Casserole Oatmeal. All of these options contain enough protein to allow you to pass on the sweet treats in the hotel lobby on your way out.
- Lunch -
I know from experience, that the only options at this conference are for meat eaters. Hotdogs, pepperoni pizza, burgers, fried chicken, even if I was a meat eater, I couldn’t eat that for three days straight. So, I pack a lunch! My go to this time is perfect for vegetarians & vegans. my Chickpea Salad Sandwiches are a good source of veggies, protein and they taste amazing. I simply made the sandwich filling at home, toasted three whole wheat buns, topped it with tasty cheese (not vegan) and wrapped each sandwich in foil. I love this option because I can eat my lunch without heating it and it is also mess free. I also packed a few of my favorite crackers, apples, carrots and hummus to add to my healthy lunch. Oh, and don’t forget to pack a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout your day.
- Dinner -
I have to admit, this is where I let myself explore and be social. I use a website called Happy Cow to search for Vegetarian friendly places or I enjoy pizza with coworkers. I always make sure to book a hotel that has a gym so I can get in a good workout before indulging and enjoying the evening. If I am alone on my journey, I search the aisles of Target and make a mini spa experience complete with face masks, soft music and my favorite TV shows.
It’s been snowing nearly every weekend this month and it actually feels like we are closer to Christmas than to Spring. I started really craving warm spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon and I learned that certain herbs can make us feel warmer and improve circulation. I began experimenting with a granola that incorporates some of these warming spices and I decided to try a version that resembled the flavors of gingerbread and that includes two "warming spices," ginger and cinnamon. It turned out great and we ate it all week for breakfast with a dollop of vanilla yogurt and frozen blueberries. We hope you enjoy this crunchy and perfectly spiced Gingerbread and Raisin Granola!
3 cups of oats
1 ½ cups of chopped pecans
¼ cup of pepitas
1 tsp ground ginger
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ cup of molasses or honey or maple syrup*
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
½ cup of raisins**
*Molasses is rather strong but essential for authentic gingerbread flavors. If you don’t like the flavor, honey or maple syrup are great substitutes. You can also use half molasses and half honey so you still get that gingerbread goodness!
*Raisins can be baked with the rest of the ingredients, however, we found that they were a bit hard because they lose their moisture upon baking. There are many granola recipes where raisins are baked along with the granola, but we prefer them to have their original texture, so we suggest adding them after the granola is done baking.
I am a music teacher, professional musician and a vegetarian. I created this site with the mission to share recipes that make life a little more organized, and enjoyable!