There are certain things that we all take for granted. We easily forget how blessed we are to have caring people in our lives, to have good food on our plates, and to have opportunities in our future. Little things like a simple conversation with a friend or an embrace with a loved one may seem to always be there. We go through our day to day motions of buying overpriced cappuccinos and putting gas in our cars without a thought. We hardly ever think about how privileged we truly are.
There are days when we even take ourselves for granted. We forget what we love to do, those passions we all have, and get lost in the big world for a moment or two. Often, we put our dreams aside because we’re afraid to fail. We forget to say I love you to those who matter. And sometimes, we just forget to be ourselves. Our pursuit of happiness gets buried somewhere.
And so before we talk about super amazing things with bacon and maple syrup, I thought I’d write you a little inspirational post about how awesome you truly are. Because I think sometimes we all need a little reminder about the things we should never forget.
Never forget you’re beautiful and unique. You aren’t like anyone else on the planet, so don’t even try to be normal. Always, always be yourself. Embrace your quirks and weirdness. Be who you are and then you will find what you want.
Never forget to believe in yourself and those around you. This is life. We’re all just getting along on our journey; figuring it out and taking those uphill battles one day at a time. In some way, we’re all struggling, so offer compassion to those around you. Be encouraging to both yourself and others. Projecting kindness never feels bad.
Never forget to follow your dreams. Don’t be afraid of failure, because it leads to success. Having a passion is daring, but it makes you inspiring and remarkable. Remember that part of life is pursuing a happiness. Forget what others think or say, go after what’s in your heart. Life is short and moments are always passing.
Never settle. On love or in life. You deserve something amazing because you are amazing.
Random cravings. I get them all the time. In fact, I go through these weird phases where I’ll eat the same thing for a month straight. Does that ever happen to you?
Throughout August I was in love with frozen yogurt topped with cacao nibs and those frosted animal crackers (pink ones, obviously). I also couldn’t get enough of this amazing honey crusted tilapia that I dreamt up and fed to my roommates. During the month of September I found myself digging into the Nutella jar, pouring Tabasco smoked chipotle sauce on everything, eating sushi whenever possible, and chowing down on pancakes every morning.
Now that it’s October, I’ve been obsessing over Trader Joe’s sprouted 7-grain bread (topped with roasted garlic hummus… OMG!), pumpkin muffins, greek yogurt with pumpkin butter, and of course, my favorite little grain: quinoa!
From pancakes to stir-frys, quinoa is a great gluten-free grain to throw into recipes. It’s full of protein and fiber, packs a delicious nutty flavor, and expands as it cooks — meaning that it will take on the flavor of the liquid you cook it in.
Another thing that’s wonderful? Quinoa cooks in only 15 minutes, which makes it perfect to store in the fridge and add to your weeknight dinner menu or toss in your lunch. Of course, making sure you know how to properly cook quinoa will make your meals that much better. Thus, I’ve created a photo collage with steps below to assist you in your quinoa cooking.
Oh, and I’ve also linked to some of my best quinoa recipes that you absolutely need to try! Ready?
I have a few foods that I have fond memories of. They continue to be my favorites throughout the years.
This got me thinking… what makes food memorable? It is simply the taste of it? Or more of what we associate with our food experiences?
Every time I have hot chocolate I’m taken back to when I used to ice skate with my girlfriends. We’d grab a cup of rich creamy hot cocoa with excessive jumbo marshmallows, whole milk, and all things that fitness magazines say we shouldn’t have.
When I want to indulge in things like that, I remind myself that I’m just living life. You know, enjoying those simple moments filled with laughter, good food and friendship. In fact, those moments are building memories. So damn right, I’m having that hot chocolate!
With extra whip cream thank you very much.
Often times I wonder why I find pumpkin pie to be the best dessert on the planet. I mean, it’s so simple! But eating pumpkin pie reminds me of the first time I made a pie by all by myself. How I crafted the crust with such determination. In that very moment, I was discovering my passion and creativity for baking. So really it’s not the dessert itself, it’s the memories that come with each bite.
Now it’s my soul food; it feeds me happiness in the form of good memories.
To date, one of my favorite meals was scallops with spaghetti squash, roasted red peppers, with this incredible creamy sauce. It was finished with a chocolate soufflé and rich chocolate ice cream. Which of course I devoured. I think it’s memorable to me specifically because of the person I was with.
Time spent with good people can make food special. This I know to be true. Just think about some of your favorite foods. Or the best meal you’ve ever had. It was probably more of an experience and memory rather just based on taste alone.
I thought it would be fun to start off the week with 10 random things. Ready?
1. You should rent the movie The Lucky One. I watched it this past weekend and decided that the plot was weird but that Zac Efron is probably one of the most good looking human beings on the planet and totally worth staring at for 1.5 hours. Do it.
3. Trader Joe’s makes Nonfat Pumpkin Greek Yogurt. It’s like a drug, so plan accordingly. Swirl that in your oatmeal in the morning, dip a pita chip in it, or put it in a smoothie. Addictive. Like really freaking addictive.
10. October is National Chili month. Let’s celebrate by eating this chili! It’s vegetarian, hearty, and amazing with a smoked chipotle greek yogurt sauce. Extra points if you serve it with cornbread.
I ate this chili all weekend. At first it’s slightly sweet, but has a tiny bit of kick from the chipotle tabasco sauce (a must have condiment in my opinion). It’s also full of a medley of spices including tumeric, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg. Ugh it was everything I wanted: sweet, savory, and perfect for a chilly fall day.
I swear you’ll fall in love with it. And it’s hearty enough to last you a couple of days. Or if you prefer, you can freeze half of it and take it out later during the winter when you need a big bowl of comfort.
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.
Since being in LA, I’ve been trying to get out and do as many things as possible. Most days all I wanted to do is eat ice cream but you know I guess I have to get out and do things besides cook. This past weekend a friend invited me to go hiking and have a picnic in Ranchos Palos Verdes, California. We purchased delicious salads at Trader Joe’s (the best place evaaaa) and packed fresh fruit. I mean for heaven’s sake I was eating those peanut butter chocolate chip cookies with sea salt allllll last week so sweat and salad sounded pretty awesome.
Ohhhh and sweat is exactly what I did. The hike was uphill and grueling, but the views were absolutely breathtaking! We could see the beach, the bright blue ocean and Catalina Island in the distance. Sometimes there is nothing more fun then getting out and being a little adventurous. It just feels good, you know?
After our hike I was still incredibly hungry, but I wanted a healthy snack since I knew I was going out for dinner that night and would be most likely stuffing my face with warm tortilla chips and a giant Mexican salad. So what did I decided to make? Zucchini chips!
Don’t you look at your computer screen like that. Just trust in the power of your oven.
Zucchini is in season and if you haven’t found a recipe to use with it, here’s your chance! These are easy to make, cheap, and healthy. Who knew zucchini was such a triple threat?
I should also mention that zucchini is low in calories so I love finding new ways to eat it.
To make these I simply cut my zucchini into about 1/4 inch thick rounds, then dipped them in egg whites and coated them in a bread crumb and parmesan cheese mixture. I even added a little bit of red pepper flakes for spice, which I highly recommend!
These would be the perfect side dish to any burger you are cooking up for labor day. However, if you’re chowing down on them for a snack, I suggest dipping them in a classic marinara sauce!
Zucchini coated in bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese then baked until crispy and golden.
2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
1/2 cup egg whites
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes, if desired
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cover baking sheet with Parchment paper.
Place egg whites in small bowl. In separate small bowl, combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, garlic powder, red pepper flakes and a little black pepper.
Dip each zucchini slice in egg whites then dip each round into the Parmesan bread crumb mixture, making sure to coat it evenly on boat sides. Place slices evenly on prepared baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Flip and bake another 5-10 minutes or until zucchini chips are golden brown and crisp. Serve immediately.
Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.
Feel free to add or subtract spices to suit your tastes.
Sometimes I find myself in an entranced state when I cook. It’s as though I get lost in the food; in the flavors, the smells, and sometimes just the simple pleasure that good food brings to my soul.
I also get lost pinning things on Pinterest. Which is mostly just a distraction from what I’m actually trying to do which is work like a normal person and get to the gym.
Speaking of the gym, I have an update on my Big Foot/marine/professional wrestler trainer! Uhhh… he is legit crazy (yes I just said that). He made us do 30 jumpsquats, some weird miliary squats with weights, 20 billion planks, and suicides. It’s like high school basketball practice all over, and again, I thought I was going to die. Apparently he enjoys torturing people while he sits there and plans his next attack as Sasquatch or whatever he does in his free time. I mean he even told us to eat a Paleo based diet, which of course I won’t be doing. Only because I really like carbs and pumpkin pie season is coming (my obsession).
What?! No one tells me what to eat.
…Unless it’s someone really ridiculously good-looking like Pacey from Dawson’s Creek. Then I MIGHT consider his suggestion.
Bruschetta is delicious and quite healthy as far as appetizers go. Well unless you put fried onion rings and bacon on it.. then not so much.
However, I like good-for-you sorts of things. So toasted slices of whole grain french bread are slathered with one of my favorites: heart-healthy smashed avocado mixed with sea salt and fresh lime juice. Then I pile on a mixture of tomato, balsamic vinegar, garlic and olive oil. Oh and let’s not forget a little fresh basil!
Goodness. These cute toasts are simply delightful. Especially with fresh tomatoes from your garden!
They only take about 10 minutes to throw together.
Annnnndddd they are vegan! But I mean, if you hate vegan things you could just add a little goat cheese. Or bacon.
Hey by the way… did you guys know that I don’t eat pork or beef?
Whole grain slices of french bread are toasted to perfection and topped with smashed avocado and a garlicky tomato basil mixture.
1/2 loaf whole grain french bread (or 1 petite loaf), sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 avocados, smashed
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus exta
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 large roma tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3-4 basil leaves, chopped
Preheat oven on broiler setting.
Place slices of bread on baking sheet, spray with olive oil cooking spray and sprinkle with sea salt; broil slices in oven about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove from oven and rub with one clove of garlic (make sure to cut it in half before rubbing).
In a medium bowl, mix smashed avocado, lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt and ground pepper.
In a separate large bowl, combine tomatoes, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Mince other garlic clove and add it into tomato mixture.
Spread smashed avocado mixture onto each slice of toast, then generously spoon tomato topping on top. Garnish with basil and serve immediately.
This Summer I’ve discovered a lot of really good things.
Farmer’s markets. Romance. Gluten-free breads. Coconut flour. Trader Joe’s Fig Jam. Adorable red skinny jeans. Chocolate nut butters. Oatmeal pancakes. Tzatiki. California. Traveling. Writing. Letting go of inhibitions.
I have to say starting brand new has been the best experience yet; because what is life really without a little bit of adventure?
Or crazy weird (and delicious) grilled cheese sandwiches for that matter?
I enjoy living life as it comes. Mostly through food experiences. And let me tell you, raspberry jam is simply the best there is. Seriously grape jelly weirds me out. But maybe that’s because I’m used to seeing it in that creepy Welch’s squeezable container.
Are we on the same page here? Probably not, because I have no idea where I’m going with that. I really just wanted to tell you how much I love raspberry jam. I don’t think I could live a week without it.
Once I brought raspberry jam swirled-dark chocolate brownies over for a dinner party. They were really, really good. Apparently so good that the guy who ate them tried to ask me out on a date. That’s not a joke. The world is a weird, weird place sometimes.
Especially when you find out that raspberry brownies cast magical love spells.
I can contribute to the weirdness of the world I guess. I mean, I put raspberry jam, goat cheese and peaches in a sandwich, grilled it, then watched the Bachelor Pad.
Despite my weirdness, the sandwich was delightful. Tart goat cheese, raspberry jam, and bright ripe peaches made it the perfect quick summer meal. Because I realize that we can’t make salmon and pancakes everyday.
If you’re anything like me, half the time you want to bury your face in a bag of Sun Chips for lunch and save the other half for dinner. But let me tell you that I really do like this sandwich, it’s easy to pull together and full of bright fruity summer flavors.
WAIT… are you thinking what I’m thinking?
I hope so…
Crunchy Sun Chips in the sandwich?
Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwiches with Peaches + Raspberry Jam
Makes 1 sandwich (double for 2)
1 tablespoon good quality raspberry jam (preferably low in sugar)
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled or spreadable kind
1 small peach, sliced
2 slices of good whole wheat sandwich bread (panini would be really good)
Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Butter one side of the bread slices. Place one slice of bread butter side down on the pan. Add goat cheese and place peach slices on top. On other bread slice, spread raspberry jam on the side without the butter; place butter side up on top.
Grill/Cook the sandwich for 4 minutes or until cheese begins to melt and the bread begins to turn golden brown. Flip the sandwich with a spatula and cook for another 2-4 minutes or until the bread golden brown on the opposite side and cheese is thoroughly melted. Remove from pan, cut in half and enjoy.
This can also be made with a sandwich maker, if desired.
I have to admit that this week I was a little bummed. I don’t know if it’s because Bella cheated on Edward, or if it’s because I got rid of THIRTEEN pairs of shoes yesterday. Yes, THIRTEEN! It’s not like I ever wore them, but seriously getting rid of shoes is like throwing away memories.
So I took myself shoe shopping to make up for it.
I’m a girl… it’s what we do. Anyway I feel much better now. I even made myself a cute little appetizer to start the weekend the right.
And I think that you just have to make these little pita pizzas too! They are my new favorite thing.
If you’ve never roasted berries before then now is the time to start; it’s so wonderful! The heat from the oven brings out the sugars and juice, giving you a melt in your mouth sweetness that will make you want to savor every single bite of the fruit.
Roasting berries had been on my bucket list for a while, but throwing them on a whole wheat pita and topping it with caramelized onion, mozzarella, and arugula? Completely spur of the moment and just a little bit heavenly.
I served these at a party and they disappeared in seconds!
Wearing new heels and making delicious pita pizzas with roasted berries.
Someone’s Friday just got better.
Roasted Balsamic Strawberry Cherry Pita Pizzas with Arugula
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
1/4 teaspoon of salt
10 strawberries, hulled and quartered
10 dark red cherries, pitted and halved
3 or 4 whole wheat pitas (I use 100 calorie pitas)
1 cup of reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup arugula
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss strawberries and cherries in 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Spread on baking sheet and place in oven for 15 minutes.
Heat medium saute pan over medium high heat and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add onions and stir frequently until onions begin to brown. Reduce heat to medium low and add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt. Cook 1 more minute and then remove from heat and set aside.
Place whole wheat pitas on a nonstick baking sheet. Brush pitas with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Evenly distribute roasted strawberries and cherries, cheese, onions onto pitas. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees or until edges of pitas begin to turn golden brown.
Top each pita with arugula and cut into triangles. Drizzle with addition balsamic vinegar and top with fresh black pepper and salt if desired.
Usually for peanut butter. Sometimes for a big banana milkshake. Always for a slice of pumpkin pie. But today, I wanted sweet potato fries more than anything else in the world… with a little somethin’ special: homemade honey mustard dipping sauce.
If you’re wondering what the combination of the two is like, it’s quite difficult to say. I mean, how do you explain magic when it happens?
Honeymustardoholic: Not a word, but probably will be soon. This stuff is addictive.
With only three ingredients this honey mustard is incredibly easy to throw together. All you need is low-fat mayo, honey, and dijon mustard. Whip the three together in a small bowl, then be prepared to make more. Why? Because you will be putting it on everything.
It’s unusually versatile: Slather it on a slice of bread and top with turkey, dunk your kids chicken nuggets in it (eating them yourself, obviously), dip some veggies in it (you’re so healthy!), or just do like I do and eat it by the spoonful (I like you).
Oh and now you want to know about these crispy, LOW-FAT sweet potato fries?
I’ve been making my own fries for a couple of years now, so I’ve experimented with several different methods. Here are five tips that I’d like to pass along to ensure a crispy, delicious baked sweet potato fry.
Cut them thick. Cutting your fries into large slices about 1/2-3/4 inch thick will ensure a nice sweet interior that doesn’t dry up when baking.
Use cornstarch to keep them crispy. Sweet potatoes are made up of a higher percentage of water compared to regular potatoes which causes them to sometimes get soggy when baked. Coating the fries with a little bit of cornstarch prevents this, as the cornstarch will form a crust on the outside of the fry. I got the corn starch idea from The Art of Doing Stuff. I’ve also thought about using flour, but I’m not sure it would have the same effect.
Drizzle them with a little olive oil. We’re not fry baking them, so a lot of olive oil isn’t necessary. Usually 1 or 2 tablespoons is sufficient enough to crisp them up and add flavor.
Give them room to breathe. Don’t allow your fries to touch on your baking sheet. You want the air to circulate around them so that they will bake and crisp evenly. You can use two baking sheets if you are making a lot of fries; be sure to rotate the sheet halfway through baking time.
Turn them halfway through. We want crispy fries on all sides, not just one.
Hmm… what else could you possibly need to know about these?
Oh yeah, how about how to flavor them?
My favorite way is with a little bit of cinnamon and sea salt, but it’s up to you! If you like your sweet potato fries spicy, try adding cayenne pepper. Another great option is cumin and garlic powder for a little bit of mexican pizazz. I know a lot of people who prefer paprika as their seasoning of choice too. It’s fun experimenting with different flavors.
I love to make a giant batch of these because I never feel guilty about eating them. They are low in fat, and just so happen to be packed with vitamins and minerals! Technically sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat; they’re full of vitamin A, C, and E, plus fiber, potassium and beta carotene. They’re also a complex carbohydrate which means that they take longer for your body to break down, keeping you fuller, longer. Read more about sweet potatoes and their nutritional value here.
The daily health information session is now over. Let’s get back to drooling.
Crispy, golden orange, salty-sweet, incredible, plus one million other delicious adjectives.
My goodness I love these fries… and I think you should make them.
But don’t you dare forget that dipping sauce!
Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Homemade Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
For the fries
2-4 large sweet potatoes, peeled if desired
1-2 tablespoons of corn starch
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (if desired) or your own spice combination
For the honey mustard dipping sauce
1/4 cup low-fat mayo (can also use fat-free or olive oil based)
1/4 cup dijon mustard (whole grain dijon is good too)
2 tablespoons honey
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.
Cut your sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut the sweet potatoes evenly into even fry shapes and place into a large bowl.
Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch over the uncooked fries and use your hands to gently toss sweet potatoes and corn starch together to lightly coat the sweet potatoes. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the fries and toss with your hands, adding more if you feel the fries are not LIGHTLY coated. Sprinkle whatever spices you’d like onto the fries (I use sea salt and cinnamon) and gently toss again.
Spread sweet potatoes evenly on your baking sheet(s), making sure that they aren’t touching each other. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip fries with a spatula, and bake for 10-15 minutes more or until the fries are golden brown and crispy. Do not overbake or they will burn. A little caramelization on the edges of the fries is good, but we don’t want black fries.
To make the homemade honey mustard combine mayo and dijon mustard in a small bowl and mix until well combined and creamy. Slowly add in the honey and stir again until combined. Keep in refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
Preheating your baking sheet will also result in a crisper fry, but sometimes my fries cook quicker so just be aware of the timing.
I do not recommend using aluminum foil, as every time I do my fries come out soggy.
If you are making a smaller batch of fries, or if you cut them thinner, I recommend flipping them after 10 minutes and only baking for a total of 20 minutes.