Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Week at Home: Groceries and Recipes

Today I'm gonna share with you a day of eats, a week's worth of groceries and the recipes I prepared for this past week. I got back from backpacking Ireland with my sister a week ago and Brett and I are only home for a week before we leave again to go visit my family in Virginia.  Normally I cook throughout the week instead of doing all of our food prep in one day -- this is simply because I love cooking and like to experiment all throughout the week -- but for some reason I wanted to make all of our meals for the week right away. 

Thankfully I bought just the right amount of food and all the recipes I chose for our main meals turned out great!

But before we get to the deliciousness, here's one last picture of my sister and me before we left our B&B for our first day of backpacking Ireland. Ruth was apparently still jet-lagged while I was pumped to take on the day!

If you're brave you can watch this music video I made of us dancing all around Ireland. 
Warning: it's a bit ridiculous.


I can't seem to get sick of this breakfast.
1/2 cup oats, 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed, 2 teaspoons chia seeds 
and then topped with peanut or almond butter

A Week of Groceries:
Veggies: Zucchini, Cucumber, Green Bell Pepper, Spinach, Kale, Carrots, Tomatoes, Onions, Parsley
Fruit: Apples, Strawberries, Bananas, Pineapple, Lemons, Lime
Dairy: Almond Milk (Vanilla for Brett, Unsweetened for me), Strawberry Greek Yogurt (for Brett), Cheddar Cheese (for Brett)
Proteins: Dried Black Beans, Dried Chickpeas, Turkey Deli Meat (for Brett), Silken Tofu
Other: Baking Powder, Corn Starch, Dried Raisins, Vegetable Broth, Unsweetened Apple Sauce, White Wine Vinegar, 90% Dark Chocolate (for me!)

You're probably wondering: where are all the carbs? Don't worry. I'm a lover of carbs. When I can I make my own bread (Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, quick breads, flatbreads, tortillas, muffins, etc.), granola cereal, granola bars and crackers (Whole Wheat Rosemary Wheat Thins). I already had bread frozen in the freezer and was going to make more granola and crackers for the week.

Before lunch I got both the chickpeas and black beans cooking on the stove and in the crock pot. Again, when I can, I like to buy dried beans, cook them and freeze them in 1 3/4 cup portions instead of buying canned beans. It's a lot cheaper!


A big ol' salad with tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, craisins, hemp hearts and lemon tahini dressing.
And a package of...

I don't want to tell you how long these packs of almonds have been in my pantry. 
Since Brett and I are moving soon, I'm slowly trying to eat through our pantry and freezer foods.

My other snacks basically consisted of all the taste testing I did while meal prepping for the week. 

Homemade Flax and Pecan Granola:

I'll share this recipe soon! I use applesauce instead of oil and add flaxseed and whole wheat flour to make the granola clump together more. Delicious!

Red Lentil Marinara Sauce:

I made some small changes to this recipe from Kitchen Treaty and I love how it turned out. 
I used tomatoes with green chilies and added more vegetable broth.
There is so much flavor and you can eat this in so many different ways. 
Throughout the week we ate it with whole wheat pasta, on top of steamed kale and just plain like stew. 
Definitely a keeper!

Homemade Whole Wheat Flatbread

This recipe has been a staple in my family ever since I was young. 
It's just whole wheat flour, yeast, equal parts salt and sugar and water.
You can use the dough to make flatbread/focaccia or form it into a loaf.
It's so, so easy.
And as always, recipe to come soon.

Last, but not least, I made Baked Falafel and Vegan Tzatziki Sauce for dinner to eat with the whole wheat flat bread I made earlier.
We had our good friends and neighbors over for a quick dinner 
and everyone gave their stamp of approval.
We also had some of the best pineapple I've had in ages. Summer is here!


A square of this dark, dark chocolate.

If you're not into dark chocolate, check out this Strawberry Rhubarb Tart recipe...

...or check back in a couple days for these 5 ingredient Peanut Butter Oatmeal Squares!

 There you have it! A week of groceries and food prep. Check out Jenn's blog for other recipe ideas.

Eat Consciously,


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Baked Falafel and Vegan Tzatziki Sauce!

Brett and I love trying out foods from all different parts of the world. We'd so much rather eat at a new Indian restaurant or slurp up a big bowl of Pho than eat plain ol' meat at potatoes. It must be all the traveling we've done. Good thing is were walking distance from a bunch of restaurants serving food from all over the world. 

Sometimes though, my frugal nature wants to save money instead of eating out. Thankfully there are now tons of recipes available on the internet for almost any kind of cuisine. So the other day when I was craving some Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food I was able to find a falafel recipe and a vegan tzatziki sauce recipe online, both of which were winners. Now I want to share them with you!

The tzatziki recipe isn't my own and for the falafel I just made a few changes to this recipe that I found on the food network website. The last time I tried making baked falafel they didn't hold together well and never really cooked all the way through. The recipe I used this time had only five star reviews and called for an egg (I used a flax egg) and flour. I knew the flaxseed and flour would help bind all the ingredients together. This recipe is a keeper!

Baked Falafel
(Makes 15 patties)

  • 2 1/4 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed chopped parsley
  • 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  1. Prepare your flax egg by whisking together 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water. Set aside for 5 minutes to thicken.
  2. In a food processor, pulse to combine the chickpeas, onion, garlic, spices, parsley, flax egg, lemon juice and salt to taste. Don't pulse too much that a puree forms, but you don't want there to be large chunks either (see picture below).
  3. Sprinkle the baking powder and flour overtop of the chickpea mixture and pulse a few more times just until everything is combined. 
  4. Pour the chickpea mixture into a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
  6. Remove the chickpea mixture from the fridge and form 15 patties using about 2 tablespoons of mixture for each patty. I like to roll 2 tablespoons of the chickpea mixture into a firm ball and then slightly flatten it into a patty. 
  7. Place the patties on your prepared baking dish. They don't expand while baking so don't worry if they are close together.
  8. Bake the patties for 13 minutes, flip them over and then bake for 15 more minutes until both sides of the patties are browned.
  9. Serve in pita with hummus and veggies or on top of a big bed of lettuce with my favorite Sweet Tahini Dressing!

In the next week I'll be posting my favorite flat bread recipe. The flat bread is what we ate our falafel and tzatziki on the first night. It was a delicious combination. Check back for the recipe soon!

Another great addition to baked falafel is this Vegan Tzatziki Sauce! I found the recipe on and was really happy with how it turned out. Instead of using yogurt as the main ingredient, it's made with silken tofu. It makes a ton so you can enjoy it all week long! I've even used it as a salad dressing.

What's your favorite kind of food? 

Do you like to try out new foods or stick with what's familiar?

Eat Consciously,


Sunday, April 27, 2014

8 Ingredient Strawberry Rhubarb Tart...Summer is Here!

What would your perfect day look like?

Mine would start early in the morning with some oatmeal, tea and reading. Then I would pop a chick-flick on while experimenting in the kitchen. I'd then bring those baked goodies to a brunch with friends and enjoy delicious food and great company.

Then the party would head the beach! We'd drive with the top down and the music blaring, iced coffee in had. Once at the beach I'd simply soak up the sun, read a good book and have good conversation. If the water was warm enough I'd get in.

Before heading home we'd stop at a hole in the wall food joint and eat our fill. Then the day would end with popcorn and a good movie. 

And then I'd sleep like a baby.

Of course this is just one of many days that I would love, but this one was real and happened yesterday! Two of our friends were in town for the weekend and they only had two things they wanted to do: see friends and go to the beach. So we made it happen!

While my sister Ruth and I were in Ireland we went to a farmer's market and of course I couldn't stop thinking of recipes I want to try out in the kitchen based on the colorful produce and baked goods we saw. I have always loved anything combining strawberries and rhubarb, but I had never bought rhubarb before. When we saw the bright, red rhubarb at the farmers market I knew I had to try cooking with it A.S.A.P., and a Saturday brunch with friends was the perfect time to do that.

This Strawberry Rhubarb Tart is oh, so easy and only requires 7 ingredients! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart
(Serves 8)


Single Pie Crust:
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons earth balance spread, chilled + a little more for brushing
  • 3-6 tablespoons ice, cold water
Strawberry Rhubarb Filling:
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb (~1/2 lb.)
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar + a little more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


For the pie crust:

  1. Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add in the chilled, earth balance spread and use a pastry cutter (or your hands) to cut the spread into the flour until course crumbs form. Use an up and down chopping motion. The crumbs should be no larger than pea-sized.
  3. Add in 3 tablespoons of ice water and stir with a fork. Draw the flour from the bottom of the bowl to the top and push down any large clumps.
  4. Add more water by the tablespoon until you can pinch a marble-sized amount of dough with your fingers and it stays together. Only add as much water as is necessary!
  5. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap it in saran wrap or place it in a plastic bag and chill it in the fridge for 1/2 hour to 2 days.
For the filling and to assemble the tart:
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the chopped rhubarb, strawberries, sugar and lemon juice until the strawberries and rhubarb are well coated. Set aside to let the mixture moisten.
  3. Take out your chilled pie crust and on lightly floured parchment paper roll the ball into a 14" circle, about 1/8" thick.
  4. Place the parchment paper and dough on a baking sheet and carefully spoon the strawberry and rhubarb mixture into the middle of the circle, leaving about 2 inches of dough around the edges.
  5. Fold the edges of the dough over the filling one section at a time and push the overlapping dough together slightly so that it sticks together. Continue this all the way around the tart until it's finished.
  6. Brush some melted earth balance on the top of the crust and sprinkle with coarse sugar. 
  7. Bake for 40 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
  8. Let the tart cool for a while and then cut into 8 slices and serve!
Notes: I used the ratios for Crisco's pie crust recipe for the crust and substituted earth balance spread for the crisco.

For step-by-step pictures see below!

Eat Consciously,


Friday, April 25, 2014

A Dream Come True: Ireland Sister Trip! (Plus Date-Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies)

It still seems surreal.

My sister and I have been dreaming of backpacking Ireland for 14 years and it finally happened! 

This trip couldn't have gone better. We never got lost and it only drizzled once for about five minutes. We landed in Dublin early Thursday morning and with heavy backpacks on our backs bussed to four different locations and stayed at three different B&Bs before Sunday. A lot of walking, eating, talking and laughing took place and we kept saying that we couldn't believe our dream was actually coming true.

I wasn't sure how trying to eat mostly plant-based would go, but overall it was never a problem. We even brought some snacks with us (oatmeal, granola bars and homemade, Date-Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies - recipe at the end of this post!), but I didn't need them most days. The Irish really know how to cook and Ruth and I fell in love with their Brown Bread and ate it every chance we could. Tea also became a big staple in our diet.

Lunch on our first day in Cashel

Ross Castle in Killarney

Killarney was both Ruth and my favorite city. We got up early after a deep, jet-lagged sleep and ate a big Irish breakfast before walking 45 minutes to Ross Castle. It was a perfect day and we kept on having to remove layers of clothing because we were getting too hot. After checking out the Castle we walked another 30 minutes or so into the city center of Killarney where I had my favorite meal of the entire trip.

We ate a place called Dyne and started our meal with some french-pressed coffee. We each got salads with a side of brown bread. My salad had chickpeas, roasted veggies and tahini dressing and it was fantastic. We stayed and talked for a couple of hours and enjoyed another cup of coffee with one of my Date-Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies. A perfect lunch.

Another one of our favorite parts of the trip was going to the Milk Market in Limerick. After showering and eating some breakfast we walking into town to scope out the huge tent full of different vendors. We were in heaven! Fresh bread and scones, coffee shops, produce out the wazoo and much more. We made sure we saw all of our options before deciding on some olive bread and oranges. Yes, a weird combination, but it was delicious!

I love the way people in Ireland do life. They never seem to be rushed and take their time at meals to savor their food and enjoy the company around them. It only took Ruth and I a day or so to get into this mindset.

The second half of our trip was actually spent with Ruth's 14-year pen pal and her family. Yes, 14 years of writing letters and they finally got to meet in person. And...they have the same name! "Irish Ruth" met up with us in Galway and we spent the evening in the city before sharing a room at another B&B. The next morning, after another filling Irish breakfast, we drove to the Cliffs of Moher.

We couldn't have asked for a more perfect day! There wasn't a cloud in the sky and we no longer had to walk around with our backpacks because "Irish Ruth" generously offered to drive us to the Cliffs. I couldn't stop taking pictures. 

After soaking up the Cliffs, we drove back to Navan (a city near Dublin) where Ruth's family lives for the last few days of our trip.  We ate delicious home-cooked food, shopped around Dublin and had some awesome girl time with Ruth and her sister.

Lunch in Dublin at Bewleys

It was bittersweet to leave such a beautiful country and the people we met, but Ruth and I couldn't help but be thankful that our dream finally came true and that everything went so well. We hope it wont be too long before we go back!

Now for some cookies.

I made these cookies specifically for this trip and they turned out so well. I love the ingredients and they make the perfect snack or healthy dessert. I was worried I didn't bring enough after Ruth and I put a dent in my stash just on the plane ride over!

Date-Sweetened Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup rolled oats (processed into flour)
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 cup dairy-free chocolate chips, chopped

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Whisk together 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water and set aside.
  3. In a food processor, process your oats until you get flour. Pour the oat flour into a bowl and whisk in the salt, cornstarch and baking soda.
  4. Chop up your dates and place them in the food processor. Process them until they begin to break down into a sticky dough. Add in the coconut oil, flax egg and vanilla extract and process until as smooth as possible.
  5. Add in the dry ingredients and pulse to combine. I used my processor's dough blade for this part, but you don't have to. Remove the dough into a bowl (or just remove the processor blade) and add in the chopped chocolate chips and mix well to combine.
  6. Form the dough into balls and slightly flatten them before placing them on your baking dish.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes. They will still be somewhat soft right after you remove them from the oven, but they will harden as they cool. Place them in the fridge after they've mostly cooled to help them set.
  8. Store them in an airtight container for a few days or in the fridge for longer!

Eat Consciously,