As you may know (or perhaps you don’t), I don’t eat beef. It’s actually a little weird to think about since growing up I was in love with cheeseburger happy meals from McDonald’s. My dad loved a good burger too, topped high with condiments and every fixin’ in the refrigerator. Burgers were essential year round in our house, yet during my high school years I converted to turkey burgers, and then throughout college veggie burgers filled my plate.
Now there is no question that the tastes and textures between the three of them are completely different—juicy beef burgers, moist turkey burgers, and unbelievable flavored hearty vegetarian burgers. I actually prefer the satisfying flavor from veggies burgers — beans, fresh herbs, spices, and a delicious texture just can’t be surpassed.
Yesterday I was craving one of those veggie burgers made with good-for-you ingredients. Since I’m an Alexia Tastemaker, and have the honor of developing delicious recipes using Alexia products, I wanted to incorporate their new sweet potato rolls. I knew they would be perfect with my veggie burgers, especially since they have sweet potatoes in them. Yum!
I was just thinking about how much has changed this past year. I mean isn’t it a bit exhilarating how fast life happens? We’re learning tough truths, letting go of the things that are out of our control, and heck, we’re growing and changing!
Last year I was working on the east coast. I barely had any time to blog and was struggling with what I wanted to do with my life. I referred to it as my early quarter life crisis. It was like when Felicity had to choose Ben or Noah, and decided to become an artist (seriously, go buy all the seasons of Felicity). Anyway, it wasn’t until I was completely lost did I discover my passion that I absolutely had to pursue. It was so obvious at that point: food is the recipe to my heart and happiness! I love creating it, photographing it, and eating it.
I know I talk a lot about following your dreams and living your passion, but that’s because I completely believe in it! Helping you, whether it’s in your kitchen or in your life is essentially apart of my success.
Today’s success comes in the form of soup. A soup that I’m completely in love with. Of course, I’m in love with a lot of things, but simple soup fills me up with contentment. Adding crispy lime and salt studded corn tortilla chips on top just makes it that much better.
Soup is one of my favorite things during the cold winter months. I literally dream about the days where I can sit with a good book, a cup of soup, and a slice of crusty bread to soak up all that warm comfort left on the bottom of my bowl.
And of course in between eating pie for breakfast (there were leftovers!) and shoveling Christmas cookies in my mouth; my soul craves soup. Perhaps because it’s the only thing that isn’t made up of purely sugar and butter. Goodness, my body needs a break from that. And this soup? Well, it leaves me full, warm, and richly satisfied.
The butternut squash is roasted in the oven to bring out it’s natural sweetness. Meanwhile the apples, carrots and onions are sauteed with a bit of cinnamon. Lastly the maple and milk are added. The soup is easily pureed into a fairly thick and creamy delight which ends up being quite delicious paired with croutons, or a warm crusty bread for dipping.
It’s really quite perfect in between those overindulgent family get-togethers, cookies exchanges, and peppermint lattes.
Besides my grocery shopping obsession, I have a couple other little addictions.
One is the internet. Twitter specifically; I just love it! Also now that I’m finally getting an iPhone, (I can’t even talk about it), I’ll probably be bonkers obsessed with Instagram and every app that I’ll more than likely forget what it’s like to function as a real human being. I mean, it’s already tough enough for me to keep up with all of the new blogs I’ve been discovering online lately. My new favorite is A Beautiful Mess, a blog about everything from beauty and fashion, to crafts and photography. You totally need to check it out!
Another favorite is my friend Stephanie’s blog Frest Tart. Her unbelievably gorgeous food photography, recipes, and fun writing style immediately invites you in. Stephanie also photographs Andrew Zimmern’s recipes for Food & Wine Magazine which makes it even more fun to follow what she’s up to! Visit and tell her hello!
Something else that has been taking up a lot of my time lately? Baking! So you’ve probably noticed. Well, let me just inform you now that the sweet recipes will continue to live on this blog. I just can’t stop. I’ve always loved to bake but this is getting out of control. Seriously, did I need to make pumpkin muffins, cookies, AND apple crisp this weekend? Probably not. But you see, somedays I find that there is nothing that I would rather do then bake my heart out; my stress seems to diminish while mixing batter and browning butter. Why yes, I am a weird human being, thank you.
Mmmmm now I’m thinking about brown butter. But wait… these muffins don’t actually have any butter OR oil in them! Whatttt?!?! I know, I must explain.
Yesterday I enjoyed the day grocery shopping, eating a huge greek lunch with tzatziki (my favorite!), and drinking a little white wine… or A LOT of white wine. No biggie. For a quality nutritious dinner, I destroyed a giant cup of frozen yogurt with four flavors: pistachio, cheesecake, vanilla bean, and red velvet cake batter. Seriously extraordinary.
But then today a little bit of magic happened.
Cause I made this banana bread.
And I made it vegan.
And irresistibly healthy.
Because I love you, duh.
This recipe was inspired by my dark chocolate raspberry oatmeal banana bread, which happens to be my favorite banana bread EVER. The ingredients call for gluten-free oat flour and I love making it myself; all you do is throw rolled oats (oatmeal) into your blender and blend until they oats are ground into a fine flour. Simple and easy!
I just wanted to tell you all that I’m in a Starbucks writing this post. I’m hungrier than a lion and those little salted caramel cake pops are staring at me. Seriously, whoever invented those is a genius because I want to destroy about three of them… with my mouth.
Sorry if that was too much, but writing about food, staring at food, and smelling food is making me a little bit weird. Minus the fact that I’m already weird, so this post is just extremely weird. Got it?
Anyway I’ve gathered all of my willpower so we can chat about what’s been actually going down in my kitchen. About a month ago I posted a simple photo of tilapia on my Facebook page. Many of you asked for the recipe, so although I don’t have photos of the finished, plated meal, I thought that you would still enjoy it. But here’s some truth: half of the things I create or bake don’t end up on my blog. Sometimes it’s simply because I didn’t snap a photo; realistically it’s because I’m a little bit of a perfectionist now that I own a nice camera. Most of the food I create is made at night for dinner, so finding time to set up a photoshoot when I’m hungry can be difficult. Not to mention I only use natural lighting, so I’m a little bit bummed that it’s getting darker, earlier.
Let me introduce you what’s been happening. Usually my kitchen is a mess.
Mostly because I make a lot of pancakes. Like every morning. They’re always different and damn, they are delicious.
Everything about Fall is lovely. Warm sweaters, over the knee boots, sipping hot cider, apple picking, pumpkin pie (!!!!), soups, winter squash, lasgana…. I could go on forever. And yes, I understand that it may still be August but I’m already pulling out the fall recipes to share with you.
Out of all winter squash varieties, I’d have to say that acorn squash is probably my favorite. It’s creamy, slightly sweet, and incredibly good for you. Often times on Sundays I’ll roast a couple of squashes in my oven, and then enjoy them throughout the week for my meals. I especially LOVE eating it for breakfast with a little bit of honey and cinnamon and greek yogurt; you’d be surprised by how filling and delicious it can be. Sometimes I’ll even mash the squash and throw it in quesadillas with goat cheese.
Of course, stuffing them with southwest flavors is pretty incredible too.
These are probably one of my favorite dinners I’ve made in a while. The creaminess of the squash combined with the southwest black bean and corn filling and the tangy melted goat cheese is out of this world. And of course it’s healthy, easily vegan (take out the cheese) and gluten-free.
I want to declare my love for this banana bread in some sort of outrageous way.
Hmmm maybe I should call Oprah and ask her if I can come jump on her couch like Tom Cruise did when he proclaimed his love for Katie Holmes?
Probably not a good idea. After all this bread is Scientology free and I don’t want people to think I’m nuts. Plus there’s absolutely no way to fall out of love with this bread.
We’ll just have to think of another way to tell the world about the best banana bread I’ve ever made.
In the case of banana breads, the saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ is completely true. I hadn’t baked banana bread in over a month and was dreaming of a unique recipe for you. Luckily the lovely people at Driscoll’s sent me some coupons for raspberries. I knew right away what had to happen. Raspberries and dark chocolate are a combination I can’t resist, but putting them into a banana bread was like an epiphany.
Since I’ve been trying to eat less wheat lately, I decided that I would use oat flour in my recipe (yes, it’s gluten-free). Can I just say WOW?! The oat flour brought a hearty, incredible flavor to the banana bread! Thankfully oatmeal is naturally high in fiber and protein, which means it’s not only good for you but also super filling. I surprised myself when I didn’t inhale the entire loaf right when it came out of the oven.
Oh and by the way, did you know that making your own oat flour is really easy? Simply throw rolled oats (oatmeal) into your blender and blend until they oats are ground into a fine flour. Done!
I don’t know if it’s biting into the sweet tartness from the raspberries and the creamy bittersweet notes of dark chocolate, or if it’s simply this whole oat flour thing going on, but this banana bread just tastes like heaven. I plan on falling in love with it all over again this weekend.
So here’s what I’d really like to happen: You make this bread and inhale it. Or share it. Just tell everyone you know about it!
Here’s why: Raspberries are good for your health. And a little bit of dark chocolate won’t hurt you; it’s an antioxidant! There is also zero butter or oil in this recipe, minimal sugar, and the only dairy is from the two egg whites (if you want to make it vegan, try it without them)!
I freaking love everything about it. From the way it smells to the way it tastes. Completely devour-able.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
Make oat flour: Place oatmeal into blender and blend for 1-2 minutes until oatmeal resembles flour. You may need to stop blender and stir oats a couple of times to ensure that all oats have been blended.
Measure out just 2 cups of the oat flour and place in a medium bowl. Whisk in baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In a separate large bowl, beat mashed bananas, dark brown sugar, vanilla extract, and eggs for 1-2 minutes until the consistency is smooth and creamy. Slowly add in flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Gently fold in raspberries and dark chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 10-15 minutes, then remove from pan and place on wire rack to finish cooling.
It typically takes 2 1/2-3 cups of oatmeal to make 2 cups of oat flour, so you may have some leftover. This recipe only calls for 2 cups.
To ensure recipe is gluten-free, use gluten-free oatmeal when making your oat flour
I’ve neglected one of my favorite things: writing and cooking for you!
It’s been so beautiful that hot summer days and beach sunsets are getting my grocery shopping obsession a little bit off track. I just can’t help but soak up the sun and ocean every chance I get.
I’m also the girl who can never turn down breakfast, which is why I’ve been brunching around LA quite a bit. Brunching for hours is good for the soul. And quite tasty too! Fresh squeezed orange juice, dirty chai tea lattes (a must-try!), gorgeous fried egg-avocado sandwiches, acai bowls, blueberry buttermilk muffins; these things make me overjoyed.
I mean, you just know it’s been a good weekend when you can go to brunch and chow down on chocolate chip pancakes bigger than your face. Double points if you’re eating to cure a headache. Come on and laugh… you know it’s true.
It’s unfair that we can’t eat french fries and pancakes all the time, but with incredibly delicious vegan soups like this I don’t even miss them. That’s just a lie; I actually LOVE french fries all the time (especially with these homemade dipping sauces)!
Nevertheless this soup still is exceptionally good. The ingredients make the perfect combination of sweet and savory. It just reminds me of all things summer. Garlic! Onion! Carrots! Chickpeas! Tomatoes! Sweet Potatoes! Cumin! Fresh Basil!
I felt extremely satisfied after finishing off a bowl. In fact, I even told myself that it canceled out all that weekend eating and margarita downing. I only wish that were true.
This soup was inspired by a recipe for tomato-chickpea soup from one of my favorite new vegetarian cookbooks, Herbivoracious. A few weeks ago, I attended a book signing and cooking demonstration by Michael Natkin, author of the cookbook and blog Herbivoracious. The book if FULL of gorgeous vegetarian photos. I can’t wait to try out more recipes; some are even vegan and/or gluten-free too!
Michael sampled delicious stuffed polenta (a recipe in his book) at the event, signed my cookbook, and even told me he LOVED my blog name! Awwww.
One last thing. I’m excited to announce that I’ll be giving away this cookbook to one of my readers!
All you have to do is leave a comment below and tell me your favorite brunch spot (and what you eat there, obviously)! Also, be sure to like my Facebook page; where I’ll announce the winner a week from today!
Don’t forget to make this soup! You might love it as much as french fries.
Vegan Tomato, Chickpea, and Sweet Potato Soup -- healthy, easy to make and delicious!
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small white onion, chopped
1 orange pepper, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1-(16 oz. can) chickpeas
1-(16 oz can) diced tomatoes (I prefer fire roasted)
2 cups vegetarian broth
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
salt and pepper for seasoning
fresh chopped basil, for garnish
1 sliced avocado, for garnish (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and salt; saute for 2 minute. Add the diced orange pepper and carrots to the pot and saute for 5 minutes.
Add the entire can of tomatoes to the pot. Next add the chickpeas, vegetarian broth, cumin, basil, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a simmer; reduce the heat to medium, add diced sweet potatoes. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Serve, garnished with additional basil and/or avocado slices if desired. Serves 4.
Adding things like quinoa, chicken, pork, or turkey would make this dish higher in protein
Feel free to add parsley or cilantro instead of basil
I was really hoping to catch Snowwhite & the Huntsman, but didn’t get around to it. Have you seen it? Charlize Theron looks unbelievable in the previews. I hope I look that good when I’m 35. If I keep running like I have been I might get there.
On Friday my friend and I were supposed to get up at 6am for a 6-mile run. We’re attempting to train for a marathon… or just run really long distances as I haven’t decided if I’ll actually do it. Anyway neither of us could get out of bed so we opted for an evening run instead… which was awful. Miserable even! I thought I was going to die; the sun was beating on my face and I was literally sweating waterfalls. It was 90 degrees out and instead of 6 miles, we decided to run 9. I thought someone was going to have to scoop me off from the pavement and put an IV in my arm. But we made it!
Even though at times running can be torture, I always feel great afterwards; like I could run another 9 miles… or at least bake some pretty unbelievable banana muffins like these.
Baking muffins seems like the only appropriate thing to do with all the leftover ripe bananas just sitting on the kitchen counter. It happens on a weekly basis. Probably because they’re only 19 cents at Trader Joe’s — and I’m never one to pass up a good deal (especially when you grocery shop as much as I do). It’s why I make an obscene amount of banana bread, banana cupcakes… oh, and my new favorite?Banana Ice Cream. Baking things with bananas just makes my heart beat.
I first made these a month ago when visiting my grandparents. I wanted to bake something special for my grandpa–who happens to LOVE everything banana. I mean, we’re obviously related.
He’s also had a couple of heart attacks so I didn’t want to give him something unhealthy (like the bacon and muffins-the-size-of-my-head my grandma makes him EVERY MORNING). I’ve included the nutritional information for these at the bottom of this post.
Seriously even healthy banana muffins never disappoint.
I don’t know about you, but some mornings I want to enjoy a baked good and not feel guilty about it. These better-for-you banana muffins make that happen with simple swaps to cut fat and calories.
Using very ripe bananas provide natural sweetness for the muffins (meaning you don’t need to use as much sugar). Dark brown sugar is also slighty sweeter compared regular brown sugar, so I opted for that. I swapped out the butter for non-fat greek yogurt (mega protein), which makes the muffins moist and deliciously appealing. Adding egg whites vs. whole eggs reduces the fat and calories.
A brown sugar-walnut crumble was completely necessary though. The walnuts add a touch of good fats and the crumbly topping… DIVINE!
My grandpa gobbled them up in less than two days and my competitor grandma even asked me for the recipe. That says something since she makes everything delicious from scratch.
I don’t think I need to tell you that these are especially good for midnight snacking. Warm them up and spread with creamy peanut butter. Muffin heaven!
But then again, when isn’t a muffin good?
Better-For-You Banana Muffins with Brown Sugar-Walnut Crumble
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and line 12 muffin cups with paper cups or spray with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl mix flour, baking soda, and salt together. In a separate bowl combine bananas, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, non-fat greek yogurt, egg whites and melted butter. Stir banana mixture into the flour mixture just until combined and add milk. Batter will be thick. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full.
In a small bowl mix brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, walnuts and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon of butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the muffins. Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean.
*Instead of butter, you can use a vegan friendly alternative, or a healthy oil such as coconut
Muffins freeze well, simply wrap individually in plastic wrap and stick in freezer
You can also sub 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour in for the regular flour, just add another tablespoon of milk