Thursday, July 31, 2014

Simple Ratatouille

It's hard to believe we haven't even been in our new apartment for a week! Just today a week ago Brett and I were driving up from Florida and stayed the night at my parents house. It was such a blessing to get part of a day with them before jumping into life in New York City. We packed a lot into that short day too. We napped, loaded up more furniture into our Uhaul and had a mini birthday celebration for my niece and sister-in-law at my brother's house. Gosh, I love my family!

My parents were so generous to us too. They too are preparing to move so they gave Brett and me a futon, coffee table, side table and a kitchen aid mixer! They also sent us out the door with beautiful squash and zucchini from their garden. 

Ever since watching the movie Ratatouille I've wanted to try making ratatouille. It always intimidated me though. So many colors and layers and I figured if it's made up of mostly vegetables, there has to be some intense process to make it taste so good. Wrong.

Ratatouille isn't hard at all and it's so fun to wow people with how pretty it looks when you pull it out of the oven. Since my parents gave us squash and zucchini before we left--and since I already had a jar of tomato paste, olive oil and homemade vegan parmesan in my kitchen--all I had to pick up at the store was an onion, eggplant, red pepper and garlic. Then I just had to thinly slice the veggies, layer them over some tomato paste and seasoning, and drizzle olive oil on top. Done and Done. 

(Serves 4)

  • 1 can tomato past (6 oz.)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or two pinches dried thyme)
  • Optional: Vegan Parmesan Cheese for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Prepare your vegetables by thinly slicing them in circular disks
  3. Spread the tomato past on the bottom of a 10x10-inch baking dish, or a dish similar in size.
  4. Sprinkle on the onion, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Add the water and stir well to combine.
  5. Arrange alternating slices of the vegetables in the pan by starting on the outside and working your way towards the center until you fill the entire dish. 
  6. Drizzle the top with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with thyme and more salt and pepper.
  7. Cover the vegetables by cutting out a piece of parchment paper to fit inside the baking dish. Bake for 35-45 minutes until all your vegetables are tender.
  8. Garnish with Vegan Parmesan Cheese and serve warm!

 Notes: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple days.

Sorry for the poor lighting in these pictures!

Eat Consciously,


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WIAW: The First Week in Our New Apartment

I love New York! We haven't even been here a week, but so far Brett and I are having a great time exploring different parts of the city and getting settled into our new apartment, which we couldn't be happier with. It's located right on the edge of Jackson Heights, a subway stop is literally right across the street, and there's tons of natural lighting from the wall to wall windows in our family room. Also, there is the best international food mart right across the street that has a wide variety of produce, cheap sushi and so many ingredients I've never seen or used before. The inspiration is endless and I've been cooking/baking up a storm since we moved in.  So today I'll share with you a day of eats and some of the different things I've been creating in my new kitchen!

Breakfast has mainly been different types of oatmeal. I've cooked rolled oats on the stove and made a few batches of muesli using steal cut oats. Brett is even starting to eat more oatmeal in an effort to cut back on sugar! We did have one special breakfast when I made Vegan Nutella Stuffed French Toast. I used homemade nutella and also prepared a strawberry syrup to top everything off. I'll share the recipe soon because it was amazing!

Oatmeal cooked with chia seeds and topped with banana, peanut butter and sunflower seeds.
Photo from my Instagram.

Lunches have been leftovers from the first meal I made when we got into town. I made a big batch of Asian Coleslaw Salad and it's been lasting us for days. We've been wrapping it up in spring rolls too which gives us some variety. 

Asian Coleslaw Salad with Edamame and Peanut Dressing
(Recipe coming soon!)

Snacks have been veggies and hummus (Sriracha Hummus!) and lots of different fruits. When we were in China we found our new favorite way to "eat" watermelon: blended! It's so refreshing and one of Brett's new favorite drinks.

Sriracha Hummus

Fresh Watermelon Juice!

Dinners have been quite varied. Last night we actually did a progressive dinner with 23 of our new friends and I was in charge of the main course! I made Massaman Curry over brown rice and Chapati (traditional Indian flatbread). Everyone said it was delicious, so I'd call that a success!

Massaman Curry with Sweet Potatoes

Chapati (You can find the recipe here!)

Another dinner we've been eating a lot of is Ratatouille topped with Vegan Parmesan Cheese. I'll be sharing the recipe tomorrow. It turned out amazing and was so easy to make!

Do you enjoy cooking or is it a chore?

What is your typical go-to breakfast?

That's all for now! I hope everyone is having a great week so far. If you need some inspiration for meals this week, check out Jenn's blog Peas and Crayons.

Eat Consciously,


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Vegan Parmesan Cheese

We made it! After 23 hours of driving, spread out over three days, we are finally sleeping in our new apartment in Queens, New York. We couldn't be happier. Our apartment is everything we hoped for. The metro is literally right across the street, there's an amazing food market less than a block away, and there are all different kinds of cuisines to choose from at our fingertips. 

The view from our apartment our first morning. See the food mart?!

Breakfast my first morning in our new place. Chocolate mint oats with banana slices, 
almond butter and hemp hearts.

As for the interior of our apartment, we were unpacked in two days. I'm the kind of person that loves organizing and decorating, so to be able to start from scratch in a new, clean apartment was a dream. I spent all day yesterday working on the final touches and now we can just enjoy the open space, large windows and of course the kitchen!

This angle makes the world map look small and not centered, but it looks better in person.
At least I hope so.

Ah, the kitchen. It's good to be cooking and baking again. I'm actually amazed at all the different things I've been able to whip up in addition to all the decorating and unpacking I've been doing. I guess you could say I've been deprived. 

Since we got here on Friday I've made:

Peanut Butter Coconut Cookies
Asian Coleslaw Salad
Homemade Nutella
Homemade Tahini
Nutella Stuffed French Toast with Strawberry Sauce
Couscous with Sautéed Veggies and Chickpeas
Watermelon Juice

AND...Vegan Parmesan Cheese. 


If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen my picture of the Ratatouille I made the other day. I said that I would be sharing the recipe today, but then I remembered that the recipe calls for vegan parmesan and I have yet to share that recipe with you. So, today I'll share with you how to make a dairy-free parmesan thing that's pretty close to the real thing. I really hope you try it out, whether you eat dairy-free or not. Brett gave this parmesan high marks and kept reaching back for more. But, the coolest thing about this faux parmesan for me is the way it melts like real parmesan cheese. When you sprinkle it on something warm, it seems to just melt away and marry with all the other flavors.  

Make this parmesan quick, because you'll want it to sprinkle on my Ratatouille, which recipe I'll share with you next!

Vegan Parmesan Cheese

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch of salt
  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until a fine meal forms.
  2. Store in an air tight container in the fridge.

Eat Consciously,


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What I NYC!

Hello Everyone!

I'm excited to be writing this post from America! These past two months have been quite the whirlwind. Brett and I were in China for five weeks and then flew straight into NYC to look for our new apartment. We found an amazing place in Queens in only four hours of looking and we couldn't be more ready to stop living out of suitcases. If you live in New York City, leave me a comment! I'd love to know who else is living in the City.

The self-proclaimed "Queen of Queens!"

Brett's parents met us in New York and we had an entire week to explore different parts of the city and try out amazing food. With all the different kinds of food we ate in New York and with all the amazing Chinese food we ate in China, I've gotten some amazing inspiration for different dishes and baked goods I want to try and create. I can't wait until Friday when we'll be fully moved into our new place and I can be back in the kitchen again. 

Today I'm going to share some of the amazing food I got to eat last week during our time in the big apple with Brett's parents. They spoiled us rotten and we tried out so many different cuisines! If you live in NYC, I hope this post will introduce you to some new places to eat that you've never heard of before. I included links to some of the restaurant's websites, so be sure to check them out!

Tibetan Vegetable Momos from Phayul Restaurant in Jackson Heights.

$3 Juice with Carrots, Spinach, Apple and Celery from a fruit stand in Queens.

The Garden Veggie Sandwich with Parsley Hummus from Siggy's Good Food in Brooklyn. 

If you live in New York City and have yet to go to Smorgasburg, you need to go! It's on pier 5 right by the Brooklyn Bridge and there are tons of venders there selling all kinds of amazing food on Sundays. And for you fellow vegans and vegetarians, they have tons of plant-based options. I was in heaven.

The Calexico from Chickpea and Olive at Smorgasburg.
A beet slider with avocado, picked red onion and jalapeños, daiya cheddar cheese and chipotle aioli!

Ample Hills Creamery on Pier 5 in Brooklyn.

One of the best things about Ample Hills Creamery is that they have pretzel cones. Pretzel cones people! The combination of the salty cone and the rich, sweet ice cream was amazing. I think I'll start adding pretzel to my ice cream more often!

Coconut Fudge Vegan Ice Cream.

The falafel wrap from Hummus Kitchen off 9th Ave between 51st and 52nd.

Focaccia Bread with Marinara Sauce, Mushrooms and Basil from Full Moon Pizza in the Bronx.

And of course there is always Whole Foods for lots of quick, grab-and-go options. I got these spring rolls and the brownie right before we went and saw the Broadway show Bullets on Broadway.

Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce from Whole Foods.

Vegan Peanut Butter Swirl Brownie from Whole Foods.

That's all the food from New York that I have to show you right now. Starting Friday I'll be back in the kitchen, hopefully whipping up some delicious, new recipes to share with you!

Brett and I on our last flight rocking some $8 Beats from China.

To see what other bloggers are eating and to get some new meal ideas, head over to Jenn's blog, Peas and Crayons!

If you live in New York City, which part do you live in? What are some of your favorite restaurants in the city?

Where have you traveled overseas?

Eat Consciously,


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Almond and Cashew Cherry Yogurt (Vegan!)

When I first went vegan I thought yogurt was going to be the hardest thing to give up. I had grown to love plain greek yogurt with fruit and granola for breakfast, so the thought of giving it up made me sad. While it was hard to stop eating it the first week, I soon found different things to eat for breakfast that made up for it.

The longer I've been vegan the more I've begun experimenting with harder recipes. A while back I finally started researching homemade yogurt. I would occasionally buy non-dairy yogurt at the grocery store, but it's so expensive that I wanted to learn how to make my own. And I did! You can check out the recipe here!

While my homemade yogurt became a staple in my house, I still wanted to find a yogurt substitute that didn't take hours of incubating to make. Not long after, I came across Deliciously Ella's Cashew and Almond yogurt and it sounded delicious to me...and unfortunately expensive. I decided to make a few substitutes and try it out and, voila! This delicious, fruity yogurt was the result! It takes a fraction of the time to make, is thicker, and has more consistent results.


Almond and Cashew Cherry Yogurt
(Make about 4 servings)

  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup dates
  • 1/2 cup frozen cherries (or any frozen fruit)
  • 1 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (or other thickener)
  1. Soak the almonds, cashews and dates in a bowl for about 4 hours.
  2. Drain the nuts and dates and place them, along with the frozen berries and 1 cup of water, into a blender. Blend until smooth.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup water and teaspoon of cornstarch until dissolved. Pour it into the blender and blend with the other ingredients until combined.
  4. Pour the contents of the blender into a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat. Let the mixture heat slowly while whisking often until the "yogurt" thickens. You can know when it's ready when your whisk leaves marks in the yogurt.
  5. Pour the yogurt into a jug and place in the refrigerator to cool.
  6. Serve with fruit and granola for a delicious breakfast!

Eat Consciously,


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Eats from China!

I can't believe my 5-week trip to China has come and gone and that I'm currently in New York city looking for an apartment! Brett and I traveled throughout different cities in western China this past month and it was quite an adventure. We saw 7 different cities, did some hiking, squeezed in a few runs, took 11 hour bus rides through the mountains, and also traveled to one of the cities via a TWO day train ride. You can just imagine how great a shower felt after two days in a crowded train, smelling Chinese food all day and using squatty potties. It's all just a part of the adventure right?!

Last but not least we ate delicious food throughout our travels! China is such an amazing place for people who try to eat a plant based diet. There are outdoor markets all over with tons of fresh fruits, veggies, tofu, fermented things, etc. I've loved the inspiration I've gotten for recipes as I've walked through the different markets and tasted new foods. Today I'll share with you some of the staple foods we ate throughout our trip. (You can also follow me on Instagram @theconscientiouseater to see what food I'm eating around the world or cooking in the kitchen.)

Breakfast were mostly eaten in our hotel room. While I love trying out new foods, I don't like eating every meal out , so I brought oatmeal with me to eat most mornings. It was fun to try out different flavor combinations with all the fruit that was available! One great thing about China is that most hotels and restaurants serve freshly made soy milk in the mornings so sometimes I was able to eat my oatmeal cold as museli. Yeah, this China is perfect for me.

Lunch usually cost Brett and I less than $3 total! I ate a lot of noodle soups. The flavor of the broth there is amazing! And the spice made my nose run every time. Just the way I like it! Some other lunch staples were vegetable fried rice, vegetable dumplings, and large plates of chewy noodles...all of which are often followed by fruit.

Dinners were quite varied. Many nights locals would take us out to dinner and order lots of different dishes for us to try family style. Every time there was rice and vegetable soup as the staples and usually some other vegetable dishes and boiled peanuts. It was easy to pass up the meat dishes because of all the vegetable dishes.

Snacks were always random. Corn on the cob and baked potatoes dipped in chili spices were sold lots of places and both are amazing. Brett and I also found some grocery stores that sold dates and peanut butter, so those two things combined happen often too. Raw almonds and fruit were other staples!

I can't wait to be moved into our new apartment  in New York so I can get back in the kitchen again. All the different food we ate during our time in China gave me so much inspiration. It will also be nice to control the amount of oil I cook with! Brett and I also took a cooking class right before we left China so I'll be sharing one or two of those recipes with you all soon!

Have you ever been to China?

What is the best food you've eaten overseas?

Eat consciously,