Steel-Cut Muesli, California-Style

While I’m proud of my Floridian heritage (haha), there’s no doubt that my heart belongs on the west coast. I’m completely in LOVE with the food culture in my new California home. The most gorgeous produce is both cheap and plentiful. The bulk bins overfloweth with every healthy ingredient. It’s really locavorism at its finest.

Since we’ve already been talking about planning ahead for our meals, let’s convert all those good vibrations into a make-ahead breakfast fit for a California king!

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Sweet Chili Tofu Salad

Some people start the day with a crossword puzzle, but my morning mental exercise regimen is a little more practical. It involves staring into the fridge, jumbling together edible odds and ends to fill a lunchbox balanced enough to sustain myself through a day at the office. I’m usually pretty good at this game, so that’s my excuse for not being super organized with meal planning. But the day that I struggled to find a better “protein” than a bag of Trader Joe’s peanut butter pretzels… I knew it was time to get serious.

Last weekend I made a very minimal investment of time and efforts, which yielded big lunchtime results. It started with an idea to attempt a copycat recipe for the sweet chili tofu cubes stocked at the Whole Foods salad bar. For a time I used to live in an apartment right across the street from Whole Foods, and since this was during my busy grad student years, I built a pretty strong affinity for some of their healthy convenience foods. That salad bar saved me for dinner many nights, and those sweet, chewy tofu cubes were always a welcome addition to my leafy greens.

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Blueberry Cocoa Hemp Smoothie

As much as I like to try new things in the kitchen, lately I’ve been succumbing to summertime simplicity. We’re eating well, but my efforts haven’t exactly been innovative, and I know that the basic foods we’ve been thriving on are just too boring to blog about (nobody needs me to tell them how to make tacos, for real). But this – antioxidants and omega 3s, whipped into something that tastes like a fruity chocolate milkshake? – thankfully, it’s both a new flavor and a total no-brainer.

I’m a big fan of hemp – it appeals to my classic hippie sensibilities, of course, and it’s also a nutritional wonder! Hemp seeds are high in fiber, rich in omega 3s, and they’re even a complete protein (soy and quinoa are the only other plants that can make this claim).
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Black Bean Crunch Patties

This healthy and quick summer meal happened last weekend after pressure-cooking a pot of black beans to stock my freezer. Black beans are the standard legume in my house; we eat them alllll the time, mostly in Mexican and Cuban-style dishes. But as I scooped the magical fruits into plastic bags flattened for efficient storage, lacking any dinner plans, I decided to set a bowl aside to get out of the rut and try something different.

I’ve been in the mood for Mediterranean food lately, and it’s been forever since I’ve had a good falafel, which in my house we refer to as “crunch patties” in honor of the classic episode of The Simpsons. And they’re perfect for light summer dining, so why not mix things up with some black beans?

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Lemon Mint + Pineapple Kale Salad

I can’t get enough kale salad. In all seriousness, I think I might be able to actually FEEL it doing my body good. I still never get tired of my favorite kale slaw, but my repertoire seemed like it could use something a little more seasonal for summertime. This salad definitely fits the bill: all seasonal produce and so refreshing! It’s like if a pineapple mojito was a salad… not the worst way to eat a bowl of greens, right? Continue reading “Lemon Mint + Pineapple Kale Salad”

Simple DIY Vinaigrette

Hey people! Are you feeling the warm approach of summertime? I’ve had a taste, and I am fully on board to embrace the breezy summer mindset. I’m currently still coasting on good vibes from an incredible Memorial Day weekend that involved an excess of many of the best things life has to offer: good friends, beach lounging, city exploring, burgers, beers and breakfast burritos. It was beautiful, but in the interest of balance I’ve been consequently feeling the need to stuff my face with salad.

And what better time to get excited about salad?? The warm weather simultaneously decreases our desire to turn on the oven and brings markets bursting with fresh produce so flawless that all they need is a quick chop and toss with vinaigrette. Store-bought dressings are convenient, but it’s not easy to find products without unnecessary preservatives and excess sodium. See where this is going?

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[Instant Pot] Greek Vegetable Soup

A funny thing happened on the way to writing this post. We’re only here talking about this soup today because two months ago on RD Day, I took the opportunity to scope out a list of fellow RD bloggers. On one of the many links I clicked, I came across a giveaway raffle and entered on a whim. And out of the zillion entries, I actually won! That day I gained an awesome new Mediterranean cookbook, and my first glimpse into what has become one of my new favorite RD blogs, Zen and Spice by the talented Emily Hein. This girl inspires me to live right! If you’re like me and love cooking/eating beautiful whole foods, growing some of them yourself, and generally taking a mindful and appreciative approach to it all, you should definitely check it out!

The book that I won in the giveaway is Eating the Greek Way, by Dr. Fedon Alexander Lindberg. Emily mentioned that this is one of her favorite cookbooks, and I can totally see why. The book features gorgeous photos and recipes featuring the kind of simple but perfect food I can imagine being served up in Mediterranean kitchens on real life weeknights. And now in my kitchen too! On my weeknights! Life is grand.

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Polenta-Crusted Asparagus and Feta Quiche (Gluten-Free!)

Most of the time when I make a baked egg dish, it’s a frittata. Crustless and effortless! I love them, and they’re such an easy way to pack in protein and veggies… but sometimes I have to break it up with something just a little bit more special. Pinkies up, folks: it’s quiche time!

This recipe was posted and revisited recently on a blog that inspires me CONSTANTLY, Take A Megabite. I couldn’t pull out my grocery list fast enough – I mean, cheesy veggie-filled quiche in a polenta crust? You don’t have to tell me twice. After baking it, the thing was just so gorgeous and unique that I couldn’t help but whip out the camera and wax poetic about it over here. Just too good not to share!

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Super Greens Rice

It’s not every day that I stop to consider whether a side of brown rice should be made even healthier. Tell me, am I crazy? In my defense, my real intention was just to make our grains tastier. But when I decided to give them the pesto treatment, I couldn’t deny that I was upgrading the nutrition too. Instead of just a carby side, I ended up with a well-rounded, nutrient-dense food. A vehicle for healthy fats, leafy greens, and – obviously – more flavor! If it didn’t deliver in the flavor department, I hope you realize by now that I wouldn’t be telling you to make this.

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Banana Jam

You’re looking at a luxurious breakfast, fragrant with flavors of the tropics. If you want to close your eyes and feel transported to a sunny veranda, I recommend this recipe as a starting point. You can almost feel the ocean breeze, and while it’s distinctly tropical, I can’t tell you if you’re in the Caribbean, southeast Asia, or on a Pacific island… that’s up to your imagination, and the flavors you choose to pair with it.

In addition to offering a vacation in a jar, this is also a recipe for those times when your bananas are browning faster than you can handle. I didn’t know that banana jam was even a thing until a friend from my RD program enlightened me, and I am so glad she did. If I end up with overripe bananas, I don’t often muster up the enthusiasm to bake banana bread. I usually just toss the neglected fruits in a freezer bag for smoothies, but I love having this easy option for a little something special.

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