Breadless Toast: Madness, Genius or Just Plain Deliciousness?

Today’s kitchen creation is being served with a confession on the side.

I’m not a bread person.

Did you even know that’s a thing? To not like bread? My secret shame. Nope, can’t even order avocado¬†toast for¬†Sunday Brunch despite my all-consuming avoddiction (P.S. that word DOES¬†exist. Look it up).

But *insert sigh of relief* order is now restored to the galaxy because¬†I’ve discovered a breadless alternative‚ÄĒsweet potato toast. A.K.A. the latest foodie trend currently taking over my life. Forreal.

And if plant-based + gluten-free + downright delectable sounds like the ultimate jam, then prepare for a takeover on your life too.

I rest my case. Times three, in fact. Because you’re about to experience…

sweet potato toast three ways

Just grab a¬†sweet potato, then go culinary crazy¬†with¬†all¬†the¬†fixings. And here’s some inspo to get those creative juices (not to mention, appetite!)¬†flowing.


Ingredients:

sweet potato toast savory ingredients2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 small can Chickpeas

1/2 tsp. Ground Paprika

1/4 tsp. Ground Cumin

1 Juiced Lemon

                             sweet potato toast sweet ingredients

2 tbsp. Chopped Raw Almonds

1 tbsp. Organic Almond Butter

1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

1/2 Sliced Apple

sweet potato toast spicy ingredients

1/2 tsp. Sriracha Sauce

4-5 Spinach Leaves

1/2 Hass Avocado

1/4 tsp. Sea Salt

                                                                                                                   


 Preparation:

  1. Cut the Potato into 3 slices about, 1/4-inch thick, leaving the skin on.
  2. Put each slice in a toaster and cook for 5 minutes, or until the texture becomes pliable but still firm.
  3. Drain and rinse the Chickpeas, then transfer 1/2 into a food processor.
  4. Add the Lemon and 1 tbsp. Olive Oil, then puree this mixture until a hummus consistency forms.
  5. Place the remaining Chickpeas on a foil-lined baking sheet and pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Drizzle them with 1 tbsp. Olive Oil, Cumin and Paprika, then cook in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the Chickpeas become crispy.
  7. Spread the hummus over the first Potato slice and top with the roasted Chickpeas to make savory toast.
  8. Chop the Almonds coarsely and slice the Apple, then spread Almond Butter over the second Potato slice.
  9. Top with the Apples, Almonds and Cinnamon to make sweet toast.
  10. Mash the Avocado until a guacamole consistency forms and spread over the third Potato slice.
  11. Top with the Spinach and Sea Salt, then drizzle on Sriracha to make spicy toast.

Seriously…moment of silent introspection for these wondrous little tubers.

Alright, moment over. Girl’s gotta eat!

Make Your Mornings Count With a Dash of Matcha Madness

So, guess I’ve been feeling the Eastern vibes lately. Between last week’s Korean Boribap recipe and this week’s love letter to all things matcha, I should probably just book a flight to Asia. Donate to my travel fund, and I’ll get right on that!

No takers? Shocking. Fine then…living vicariously through my taste buds isn’t the worst consolation prize. Lucky for this girl, my fianc√©’s sister did go to Asia recently, and she brought me back some authentic ceremonial-grade Japanese matcha.

Talk about earning brownie points with the future sis-in-law. Give me pretentious sounding superfoods, and I’m your friend for life. Well played, Kristin…well played.

If you’re a matcha virgin, it’s literally just powdered green tea. Observe:

matcha powder

But what makes it so freaking fabulous? Check out these impressive stats:

  • Yields more antioxidants than any other superfood including goji berries, acai, kale and spinach.
  • Contains a powerful blend of essential nutrients like fiber, chlorophyll, zinc, magnesium, and Vitamin C.
  • Strengthens immune function, promotes anti-inflmmatory benefits and works like a natural detoxifier.
  • Boosts the metabolism to burn calories more efficiently, and regulates healthy cholesterol levels.
  • Reduces physical and mental stress, enhances concentration and balances fluctuating mood states.

Way to kick some nutritional ass, Matcha! And that’s why I jumpstart each morning with this little green powerhouse I’ve become *slightly* dependent on. Sure, you can drink it like the socially acceptable human you are. OR you can get creative, steal a chapter from my cookbook…

And breakfast will never be the same.

matcha for breakfast

MATCHA GINGER OATMEAL

Ingredients:

1 cup Cashew Milk (unsweetened)

1/2 cup Whole-Grain Oats

2 tsp. Matcha Powder

2 packets Stevia (organic)

1 tsp. Almond Butter (all-natural)

2‚Äď3 pinches Sesame Seeds

1/4 tsp. Ground Ginger

Preparation:

  1. Pour the Cashew Milk into a small saucepan and preheat the stovetop burner on a medium-high setting.
  2. Add the Oats and stir occasionally until the mixture begins to boil, then reduce to a simmer and continue stirring until the texture thickens.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the stove, add the Matcha, Ginger and Stevia, then stir to combine.
  4. Transfer the oatmeal into a serving bowl, then top with Almond Butter and Sesame Seeds for extra crunch. (NOTE: feel free to use whatever toppings you prefer…I just choose sesame seeds in keeping with our Asian theme!)

matcha oatmeal before pic

matcha oatmeal after pic

MATCHA BLUEBERRY PANCAKES

Ingredients:

1 cup Cashew Milk (unsweetened)

3/4 cup Spelt Flour (or, a GF alternative)

1/3 cup Fresh Blueberries

1/2 tbsp. Matcha Powder

2 packets Stevia (organic)

2 tsp. Almond Butter (all-natural)

Preparation:

  1. Pour the Cashew Milk and Spelt Flour into a mixing bowl, then stir vigorously until no lumps remain.
  2. Add the Blueberries, Matcha and Stevia into this batter, then stir again to combine.
  3. Preheat the stovetop burner on a medium-high setting, place a griddle on this burner and coat with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Ladle the batter in small batches onto the griddle, allow to cook about 2 minutes on each side, then transfer the pancakes to a serving plate once they’re done.
  5. Spread the Almond Butter over the pancake stack and garnish with leftover blueberries, if desired.

matcha pancakes before pic

matcha pancakes after pic

Reader Poll (just because I’m curious): Do you cook with matcha, or are you a purist who thinks tea is for drinking, thankyouverymuch?

A Tastier-than-Takeout Asian Flavor Invasion

My parents live in Orlando, about 15 minutes away from Disney World (tough break, huh?), and I recently visited them over Memorial Day weekend. No, for real…seeing my parents¬†was the main motivator. Not my fault the Happiest Place on Earth shares their same zipcode!

Anyway, during that visit, we made reservations at Morimoto Asia‚ÄĒa new Eastern fusion restaurant in Downtown Disney (I’m a nonconformist Disnerd who refuses to call it¬†“Disney Springs,” by the way). I ordered their signature menu item¬†Korean Boribap, a traditional half-rice/half-barley¬†dish mixed with kimchi, bean sprouts, sushi grade fish and egg yolk.

And now…I want boribap for like every single meal. Damn you, Morimoto. Chinese takeout has lost its appeal for all eternity. So,¬†what’s a girl to do when these random boribap¬†cravings hit? Create my own riff on the original. Duh.

In this version, I swapped out the kimchi for kale, made it vegetarian by opting for mushrooms instead of meat, then tossed in radishes for some color and texture. Also, for the sake of convenience (read: laziness), I just used rice. Let’s call the finished product¬†Boribap 2.0‚ÄĒa healthy weeknight “quick fix” when you’re feeling Asian but can’t bear¬†the sight of¬†another¬†to-go carton loaded with MSG. Yep,¬†this recipe’s a game changer!

meatless marvels korean boribap

Ingredients:

2 cups Baby Kale

2 Eggs (cage-free)

1 cup Jasmine Rice

1/2 cup Mushrooms (sliced)

1/2 cup Radishes (sliced)

2 tbsp. Sesame Oil

2 tbsp. Rice Wine Vinegar

1 tbsp. Soy Sauce (low sodium)

1 clove Garlic (minced)

Preparation:

  1. Pre-heat a stockpot on the highest stovetop setting, pour in 1 1 /2 cups Water and bring to a rolling boil.
  2. Add the Jasmine Rice, reduce the heat to low, cover the stockpot with a tight-fitting lid and allow the rice to simmer, stirring occasionally, until all the water is absorbed.
  3. Pre-heat a skillet on the medium stovetop setting, coat the bottom with 1 tbsp. Sesame Oil and stir in the Kale, Mushrooms and Radishes, then sauté the vegetables until they soften.
  4. Pre-heat another skillet on the medium stovetop setting, coat the bottom with cooking spray, crack the Eggs directly into the skillet and allow them to pan-fry until the yolk sets.
  5. Whisk together the Soy Sauce, Rice Wine Vinegar, Garlic and remaining tbsp. of Sesame Oil in a small mixing bowl.
  6. Pour this mixture on the rice, stir thoroughly to combine and portion out the rice into 2 serving bowls.
  7. Distribute the vegetables evenly over the rice, then top each bowl with a fried egg for some hearty protein.
Korean Boribap

that yolk though…mildly foodgasmic.

So, What’s the Deal With that “Buddha Bowl” Bandwagon?

Lately, my entire Pinterest feed has turned into one continuous love letter¬†to the gloriousness that is a¬†Buddha Bowl. I’ve been hearing this term used more and more in wellness circles, but it’s taken me awhile to join the “Buddha Bowl Bandwagon.” Well, until last weekend anyway.

On a random Saturday night, the fianc√© and I were embroiled in our usual debate: should we make dinner reservations, grab some take-out, or just raid the fridge?¬†Laziness won out (’cause my spirit animal is a 65-year-old in threadbare sweats who¬†calls “lights out” before 10pm), so we settled on Option #3. Then,¬†inspiration struck‚ÄĒHey…I’ll make one of those Buddha Bowl things!

So, through¬†trial-and-error, I debunked the basic formula and concocted my own variation. And now that I’ve graduated¬†from¬†Buddha Bowl virgin to Buddha Bowl addict, I’m passing this formula along to you.

(WARNING: contents might cause obsession!)

how to make a buddha bowl

1. ¬† Building Blocks‚ÄĒWhat Components Will You Need?

  • The¬†Base:¬†choose a whole grain like quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, wheatberry or farro.
  • The Greens:¬†choose leafy greens like spinach, kale, arugula, chard or watercress.
  • The Protein:¬†choose a plant-based protein like chickpeas, almonds, beans, tempeh¬†or tofu.
  • The Extras:¬†choose veggies like sweet potato, broccoli, asparagus, carrots or avocado (okay…not a veggie, but still delish).
  • The Dressing:¬†choose a sauce¬†like the flavor bomb pictured above. Wanna make it? Then, stay tuned…

2. ¬† Assembly Required‚ÄĒHow Do You Put It All Together?

  • The First¬†Layer:¬†cook the whole grains according to their package instructions, then spread¬†onto¬†the bottom of your bowl.
  • The Second Layer:¬†arrange¬†a handful of leafy greens over the whole grain base.
  • The Third Layer:¬†oven roast the protein source (or, leave raw if desired and¬†safe to consume), then arrange over the leafy greens.
  • The Fourth¬†Layer:¬†steam the veggies until tender, then¬†arrange over the leafy greens.
  • The Top Layer:¬†drizzle the sauce to evenly coat the veggies. Oh, and here’s that recipe I hinted at earlier…blend together¬†1 red pepper, ¬† ¬† ¬† 1 garlic clove,¬†2 tbsp. lemon juice,¬†1 tbsp. olive oil,¬†1/2 tsp. paprika,¬†1/4 tsp. turmeric,¬†1/4 tsp. coriander¬†and¬†1/4 tsp. cumin.¬†Viola!
buddha bowl finished product

couldn’t resist posting ANOTHER shot of my finished product in all its glory

Alrighty. That’s the gameplan, people. So, welcome aboard that Buddha Bowl Bandwagon‚ÄĒwhere dinnertime dilemmas have met¬†their match!

Superfood Spotlight: Edamame Goes Green for Spring

With the weather warming up‚ÄĒor¬†heating¬†up¬†if you’re a Sunshine State dweller like me‚ÄĒin preparation for¬†glorious spring, this time of year makes me crave all things green.¬†Especially in the kitchen, amiright?!

And because I’m feeling Green Goddess-y at the moment, my latest recipe sorta resembles a leprechaun explosion. St. Patrick’s Day is next week, after all! The perfect appetizer¬†for a weekend¬†cookout, this fresh and vibrant take on hummus¬†is also loaded with plant-based protein.

Gotta love health benefits disguised as flavor bombs, so feature this superfood spread at your next happy hour. Talk about a hit throughout swimsuit season!

Note: The recipe yields 6-8 servings, so you might need to adjust the ingredient count for larger gatherings. 

superfood snacking edamame hummus

Ingredients: 

1/2 c. Edamame (shelled)

2 tbsp. Grapeseed Oil

1 Garlic Clove (minced)

1 Lemon (juiced)

1/2 tsp. Cumin

1/4 tsp. Sea Salt

2 Thyme Sprigs

Preparation:

  1. Pre-heat a saucepan, filled with about 1 1/2 cups of Water, on a high stovetop setting.
  2. When the water reaches a boil, add the Edamame and reduce to a simmer until the they have cooked thoroughly.
  3. Turn off the heat and drain the edamame through a colander, then transfer them into a food processor or blender.
  4. Add the other Ingredients to the food processor or blender, then puree until smooth.

Serving Suggestion:

For a gluten-free alternative to store bought crackers or pita bread, enjoy this¬†Hummus¬†with sliced avocado and julienned tubers‚ÄĒlike carrots or parsnips.¬†This is also a deceptively delicious way to entice the kiddos with fresh veggies during those after-school snack attacks!

Cooking with Couscous: Comfort Food Gone Global

Sorry, all you Paleo proponents out there, but this post is basically a love letter to grain. Couscous, to be exact. What…did I already give that away in the title or something? Silly me.

couscous grain spotlight

Anyway, this traditional North African staple, made from semolina then¬†steamed until fluffy, pairs fabulously with a diverse range of flavors. From robust winter vegetables to zesty¬†spice blends, it’s the perfect canvas¬†for vegetarian and carnivorous dishes.

My latest kitchen creation features this ingredient as the base for an effortless weeknight meal loaded with colorful veggies and plant-based proteins, plus a sweet and savory seasoning mashup. Just watch: everyone at your dinner table will become couscous converts!

This recipe yields approximately 4 servings, and leftovers are guaranteed. So, you’ve also got a ready-made lunch the next day. #Winning.

warm butternut squash and couscous salad

Ingredients:

1 c. Dried Couscous (I used Moroccan, but Israeli works too)

1 c. Butternut Squash (peeled & cubed)

1/2 c. Chick Peas (drained & rinsed)

1/4 c. Raisins (natural & unsulfured)

1/4 c. Raw Almonds (chopped)

3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 tbsp. Ground Cumin

1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

Sea Salt & Black Pepper (to-taste)

Preparation:

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the Couscous with 1 cup Water and 2 tbsp. Olive Oil, then place the pan on a stovetop burner and bring the water to a rolling boil.
  2. Turn the heat down to a low setting and allow the couscous to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the water has been absorbed — about 10 minutes.
  3. While the couscous is simmering, coat the bottom of a skillet with the remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil, then place the skillet on another stovetop burner and turn the heat to a medium setting.
  4. Add the Butternut Squash,¬†Chick Peas, Raisins and Almonds, then ¬†saut√©, stirring frequently, until the butternut squash has softened — about 15 minutes.¬†
  5. Transfer this mixture into the couscous pan and season with Cumin, Cinnamon, Sea Salt and Pepper, then thoroughly combine all the ingredients together.

couscous recipe

Serving Suggestion:

Although I’m a fan of eating this salad as a stand-alone meal (Meatless Monday, anyone?!), it’s also a versatile side dish for grilled fish,¬†baked falafel or another Middle Eastern-inspired protein.

Cherry Quesadillas: a Summertime Twist on a Mexican Mainstay

Out of all the fresh, vibrant, enticing produce I look forward to around this time of year, cherries are the clear stand-out.

Call it nostalgia, but that juicy tartness¬†reminds me of childhood summers spent vacationing with my family in Northern Michigan, where cherries make their way into everything — from pies to paninis. I love cooking with this fruit because even just the aroma drifting¬†through my kitchen calls to mind a special time and place.

Since cherries are currently at¬†the height of peak season, I’m taking full advantage by sneaking them into all my favorite dishes. Like, quesadillas, for example. I’m such a Tex Mex sucker, and cherries definitely turn up the volume on this Southwest staple.

Trust me, it’s summer in your mouth!

******

 Ingredients:

2 Whole Wheat Tortillas

1/2 c. Halved Cherries

1/4 c. Shredded White Cheddar*

4-5 Fresh Basil Leaves

1/2 tbsp. Raw Honey

2 tsp. Orange Zest

*Need a vegan cheese substitute? Check out my Cashew Cream recipe.

******

Preparation:

1. Coat the bottom of a skillet with Cooking Spray and pre-heat the skillet on a medium-high stovetop setting.

2. Place a Tortilla in the skillet and spread the White Cheddar (or vegan substitute) evenly over it, then top with the Cherries and Basil.

3. Drizzle the Honey and Orange Zest over the other ingredients, then place the other Tortilla on top.

4. Press down on the Quesadilla with a spatula until the bottom Tortilla starts sizzling (approx. 2 minutes), then flip to the other side.

5. Once both sides have cooked thoroughly, and the Quesadilla reaches a crispy texture, transfer it from the skillet to a plate.

6. Allow the Quesadilla to cook slightly before slicing into 8 equal wedges. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Do I even have to say what’s next? Enjoy!!!
cherry quesadillas

Serving Suggestion:

Make this summery meal even more refreshing by smothering it with a¬†Cherry-Mango Salsa that’s both colorful and bursting with seasonal flavors.¬†Simply toss together 1/2 tbsp. Honey, 1 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar, ¬† 1 tsp. Sesame Oil, 2 tsp. Chopped Mint, 1/4 c. Diced Mango and 1/4 c. Halved Cherries. The perfect side for a light, fruity entree!

mango cherry relish