Meatout: Eat Vegan For a Day

Friday, March 20 is the first day of spring and it’s also Meatout Day. Last year on Meatout Day, I celebrated my 18 year vegiversary, which makes this year 19!

What is Meatout Day?

“Since 1985, thousands around the world have celebrated the first day of Spring by eating vegan for the day in a huge international event called Meatout. Every year, Meatout raises awareness of the benefits of eating vegan: helping animals, achieving great health, and saving the planet.” – Meatout.org

meatout

Are you ready to take the pledge to go vegan for a day?

Here are my top three tips on how to have a successful Meatout Day:

1. Pick foods you already eat that are accidentally vegan

For starters, all vegetables are vegan, so if you love veggies, load up on them! Just leave off the cream sauces, cheese, butter and bacon.

Like oatmeal? Prepare it for breakfast with non-dairy milk or water; you can even make Overnight oats to have ready for the morning.

Hummus and pita, vegetable fajitas, rice and beans, green salad, bean salad, lentil soup, pasta with marinara (as long as the pasta is not egg based), even Oreos are vegan! Though I don’t really suggest eating Oreos. 🙂

oatmeal banana
Banana almond butter oatmeal

 

2. Try a new recipe you’ve had your eye on 

Of course, I have lots of recipes on this blog that you can search through! A great place to start is with my Easy Weeknight Meals posts for Curry Bowl and Flatbread Pizza, or my spring recipes round up.

Also, all over the internet are fabulous vegan bloggers with amazing recipes to experiment with. To name just a few of my favorites Vegan Yack Attack, Post Punk Kitchen, Happy Healthy Life, Fork and Beans, My Eclectic Kitchen and Cara’s Kitchen (I could go on and on!).

slice-of-pizza
Easy Weeknight Meal: Flatbread Pizza

 

3. Ask friends for meal ideas, favorite recipes, or restaurant suggestions

A few of my favorite LA based vegan and vegan friendly restaurants are Satdha Thai, Golden Mean, Native Foods, Real Food Daily, Sun Cafe Organic, Hugo’s, Mud Hen Tavern, Sage Bistro and Gracias Madre.

 

Thai Meatball Bowl from Native Foods
Thai Meatball Bowl from Native Foods

You can do it! Sign up to take the pledge at meatout.org. Once you pledge, you’ll get access to even more vegan resources, recipes and meal plans, restaurant guides and an events calendar.

Guest Post: Artichoke Spinach Lasagna and Cookbook Giveaway

Today I am thrilled to have Stephanie Dreyer aka VeegMama as a guest contributor. Even though I don’t have kids of my own yet, her blog is an inspiration for maintaining a fun filled vegan lifestyle, and shows how easy it can be to eat healthy.  The best part about her guest post, is that she is giving away a free copy of her awesome new ebook VeegMama’s Guide to Going Vegan to one lucky winner.  In the book, Stephanie shares tips and provides information on how to transition easily and joyfully to a plant-based lifestyle, with lots of yummy recipes included.

An Italian girl after my own heart, Stephanie shares her recipe for Artichoke and Spinach lasagna, a gluten free and soy free version of one of my childhood favorites.

Enter to win at the bottom of this post!  Giveaway ends Monday, March 16.

Guest Post: VeegMama’s Spinach and Artichoke Lasagna

I am very excited to be on Veggie Fixation today! As a vegan mom of three, I am always looking for new, healthy recipes to delight my family. When I adopted a vegan diet almost 5 years ago, there was a steep learning curve to build a new repertoire of recipes and familiarize myself with vegan products. In my new ebook, VeegMama’s Guide To Going Vegan, I share how to transition to a vegan diet and lifestyle simply and easily, and provide lots of delicious recipes. This one is a nod to my Italian roots, where pasta is a mainstay. This recipe uses De Bole’s Rice Lasagna noodles to make it gluten-free. It also uses a delicious non-dairy, non-soy cheese by Daiya. Both products are available at Whole Foods. I hope you and your family enjoy it!

 

Spinach and Artichoke Lasagna

Vegan and Gluten-free Artichoke and Spinach Lasagna

Ingredients

1 box gluten-free lasagna noodles

12 oz fresh baby spinach

2 cans of artichokes hearts (in water), drained and coarsely chopped

2 Tablespoons olive oil

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

16 oz Daiya cheese

2 25 oz jars of marinara sauce

2 14.5 oz cans of chopped tomatoes, drained

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles and cook according to the package directions (if using De Bole’s, you don’t have to boil them). Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a pan and add garlic. Saute until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.

Add artichoke hearts to pan and cook 3-4 minutes.

Add spinach to pan in batches. Using tongs, fold in the spinach until slightly wilted, adding more spinach until it is all combined in the pan. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon a ½ cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of a lasagna pan.

Add a layer of noodles across the bottom. Spread ½ of the artichoke and spinach mixture over the noodles. Pour the rest of the first jar of sauce over the noodles.

Top with 1 can of the drained tomatoes. Sprinkle half of cheese over the veggies. Repeat with the remaining ingredients for one more layer, ending with cheese on the very top.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or until done.

Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

About Stephanie Dreyer:

Stephanie Dreyer, is the founder of VeegMama, a lifestyle blog sharing new approaches to healthy living and eating.  She encourages her readers to live their best life every day through food, wellness, and personal fulfillment.  She is also a children’s book writer and mom of three.  Stephanie was most recently featured on KCAL 9 in Los Angeles and Chickpea Magazine.  She is a contributing author in the #1 Amazon Bestselling Book, Sexy Fit and Fab Sirens.

Her new ebook, VeegMama’s Guide To Going Vegan is now available. You can visit her at veegmama.com and can connect with her at veegmama@gmail.com, facebook.com/Veegmamatwitter.com/Veegmamainstagram.com/Veegmama and pinterest.com/veegmama.

**UPDATE: Giveaway now closed.  Congrats to Tanay Colon!

veegmama a Rafflecopter giveaway


Easy Weeknight Meals: Flatbread Pizza

slice-of-pizza

Pizza is one of my favorite foods. Growing up in New York, it was probably one of the first solid foods I ate. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if “pizza” was my first word. Okay, I might be exaggerating here, but I certainly do love pizza. When I first went vegan, it was at the top of my list of foods that I miss eating the most.

Then I realized that all I had to do was redefine a little bit what pizza means to me. It doesn’t have to be a chewy, doughy piece of bread smothered in marinara sauce and cholesterol laden, greasy cheese. In fact, cheese is not really necessary at all to make a pizza delicious. It’s really just about having a good sauce spread over a tasty crust and topped with lots of veggies.

The best part, it doesn’t have to be difficult to make or time consuming. Once I realized that a simple pizza can be incredibly satisfying, it became one of my go to easy weeknight meals.  It’s even something that I teach to clients who want to eat healthy but not feel like they are eating healthy. Recently, I received an email from a client who is transitioning to a vegan diet telling me that he’d recreated the pizza we made during a cooking lesson. I was so proud of him because during our cooking lesson, he made it very clear that he generally does not cook for himself. If my client who doesn’t cook and doesn’t have time to cook can make this pizza, you can too!

Flatbread Pizza

Ingredients

The crust

I recommend flatbread, lavash, pita or wrap size (burrito style) tortillas. Or, if you want to get really unfancy, opt for pizza English Muffins like my mama used to make us as kids!

flatbread

The sauce

Select your favorite marinara, store bought pesto (or make a quick one yourself with basil, garlic, olive oil and walnuts or pine nuts), or, get a little out of the box and use hummus.

crust-with-spinach

The toppings

Following the tips laid out in the first post for my Easy Weeknight Meals series, feel free to utilize your favorite pre-prepped veggies. It’s up to you if you want to add vegan cheese, but if you load up on veggies, it’s really not necessary. If you want a cheesy taste without the added fat and processing of vegan cheese, sprinkle your pizza with nutritional yeast after baking.

flatbread-pizza
Flatbread pizza with cheese

Recommendations

2 whole-wheat tortillas or flatbread

1 small ripe tomato, sliced

1/2 onion,finely sliced

handful sliced mushrooms

small handful spinach leaves, or basil (or both)

2 Tablespoons hummus, pesto or marinara

1 Tablespoon chopped olives

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place tortillas on baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread sauce smoothly over the tortilla and arrange veggies on top. Bake for 10 minutes, or until tortilla is crisp. Top with fresh basil, if using.

Easy Vegan meals
Flatbread pizza without cheese

Upcoming giveaway

In March, Stephanie of veegmama.com will be guest posting and sharing a recipe for one of her favorite easy week night meals. You won’t want to miss that post because I’ll be doing a giveaway of her new ebook, which offers tips for transitioning to a vegan diet and lifestyle, along with lots of yummy recipes. Be sure to subscribe to my blog and newsletter for updates.

Easy Weeknight Meals: Curry Bowl

At lunch the other day, I was having a discussion with Jacques and his coworker about eating vegan and eating healthy.

As he put down his fork, the coworker said very eagerly “if I could eat like this at home all the time, it would be so much easier to maintain a healthy vegan diet.”  We were eating at Native Foods and he had just finished his Bangkok Curry bowl – “Seared tofu steak atop steamed veggies, kale, brown rice, with lemongrass-ginger-infused coconut milk curry. Topped with toasted sesame seeds and cilantro.”

Of course, I jumped immediately into educator mode and assured him “you can eat like this all the time! It’s really easy. All that bowl is when you break it down is steamed vegetables, brown rice and sauce.”

He thought for a second, then admitted that, yes, this was true, but he and his wife are terrible about actually taking the time to pre-plan their meals, or cook in bulk for the week.

Does this sound familiar?

While I am a big fan of recommending that people batch cook, I acknowledge that in reality this may not be possible for most people.  If you don’t LOOOOOVE cooking, the idea of hanging in the kitchen for half a day so that you don’t have to do it every night of the week, may not sound very appealing. Even if you do love cooking, trying to set aside an entire afternoon to do it, often just isn’t going to happen when the rest of life gets in the way.  Something tells me not everyone is as focused as I am on what they are going to eat at their next meal immediately after they just finished their last one.

In an effort to help you discover ways to easily prepare healthy meals at home, I’m beginning a series of posts entitled “Easy Weeknight Meals” where I’ll feature different simple recipes you can throw together in a matter of minutes.

How will you prepare delicious, easy and healthy meals in a matter of minutes you ask?

The answer is to take advantage of all the prep work that has already been done for you.  One of the best resources for prepped veggies is Trader Joe’s, especially since their produce section is ever expanding to offer a wider variety of vegetables, and more organic options as well.  The broccoli and cauliflower are already in florets, the kale is already chopped, the onions are diced, and the carrots are wee babies.  Nothing needs to be washed, de-stemmed or peeled. They even have pre-cooked rice and quinoa, and rice that has been parboiled to cut down cooking time. All the time consuming prep work has already been taken care of so all you have to do is steam and choose a sauce.

I use Trader Joe’s as an example, but just about every grocery store, including Costco, have recognized our growing desire to eat fewer pre-packaged meals and more freshly prepared ones, with the same convenience factor, and are now offering pre-cut vegetables.  You can also find some great “done for you” sauces, or whip up a favorite on your own.

Lately, I have been on a curry making kick, which is probably why I got so excited about coworker enjoying his Bangkok Bowl.  While I do take extra steps when I make my curries, you can just as easily recreate a simple version in 15 minutes on a busy work night. I present to you the first recipe in the Easy Weeknight Meals series.

Quick and Easy Weeknight Curry Bowl

What you Need:

Pre-made curry sauce, or curry paste, soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, and a can of coconut milk (do not shake!)

coconut-milk

Pre-chopped vegetables of choice (I recommend broccoli, carrots, zucchini, kale and cauliflower)

chopped-veggies

Brown rice or quinoa (this can be a frozen package, or something you pre-cooked)

bowl-of-rice

Marinated tofu or seitan, optional

Sesame seeds and cilantro, optional for garnish

What you Do:

Fill a pot with a couple of inches of water. Place your vegetables in a steamer basket and put steamer basket in the pot, making sure the vegetables are not submerged in water. If they are, dump out some of the water. Turn on heat to medium, cover and steam for 5-8 minutes until vegetables have reached your desired tenderness.

steamed-veggies

Cook or re-heat rice or quinoa according to package directions.

Heat or make your sauce.  If you are using curry paste, add a couple tablespoons to a small pot over medium heat and cook for a minute or two, until it is very fragrant.  (I like to sauté a little garlic, ginger and onion with my curry paste, but we’re keeping it simple right now. Save that for a night when you have more time to cook.) Scoop out just the white part of the coconut milk and whisk into the pot, along with a teaspoon of soy sauce/Bragg’s/tamari. Simmer over low heat until it is warm.  Taste and adjust for seasoning, adding more curry paste or soy sauce as needed.

Get out a big bowl. Scoop half cup to a cup of rice/quinoa into the bowl, top with a cup or two of steamed vegetables, pour about a quarter cup of sauce over everything, top with seitan or tofu, if using.  Devour!  Save the leftovers for lunch or dinner tomorrow.

veggie-bowl-with-sauce

Edible Vegan Holiday Gift Guide

There’s no better way to show someone you care at holiday time than to gift them with something they can eat.  I know edible gifts always make me smile!  Here is a round up of some of my favorite California local sweets and savories; edibles that are good enough to gift. Most of them offer shipping across the US.  Happy Eating Days – er, I mean Holidays!

 

ChocoVivo

chocovivo

This is one of my favorite chocolates of all time. It’s locally sourced, hand-crafted, stone ground chocolate, created onsite in a bean to bar chocolate factory in Culver City. The owner and chocolatier, Patricia, knows her cocoa bean growers directly, and sources all other ingredients that go into the bars and other products directly from the Farmers Markets (many of which she can still be found selling these amazing treats). There’s no milk powder, soy lecithin or additional cacao butter used in ChocoVivo’s chocolates. They use only whole cacao nibs and whole spices that are as close to nature as possible, utilizing tools that are very similar to what was used by the Mayans and Aztecs 2,000 years ago – no refining, no tempering.

The cute packaging and delicate, creative and seasonal flavors make for great gifts for your favorite chocolate lover.  I highly recommend stopping into the shop for a delicious European style drinking chocolate. With a homey and inviting atmosphere, which includes the wafting smells of chocolate, ChocoVivo’s shop is a great location for a girls night out.  It’s where I went with a group of ten girlfriends the Friday before my wedding and we indulged in a chocolate tasting, sampling all of the flavors available!

 

Love Bites

It’s cute, it’s chocolate, it’s handcrafted, it’s delicious. Need I say more? For the holidays, Love Bites is offering special pre-selected collections of four chocolates, with fun names like Classic, Funky, and Fresh.  To learn more about Love Bites Chocolate, check out my recent review.
 LoveBites1

Charlie’s Brownies 

charliesbrownies

Decadent, but good for you. Charlie’s Brownies are baked with high quality ingredients and made with lots of love.  I ran into Charlie at an event the other night, where I had the pleasure of learning more about him and his delicious brownie bites. Not only is he one of the sweetest, most sincere people you’ll ever meet, but his passion for his product is nearly contagious. He spent two years in the kitchen working tirelessly to craft the perfect gluten free vegan, mouthwatering morsel of chocolate.  If only I’d known him when he was in need of taste testers!
Order now and receive FREE shipping for the holidays to anywhere in the United States!

 

Miyoko’s Kitchen

MiyokosKitchen_Header_Slider01

Vegans and non-vegans alike will love these creamy, dreamy cheeses. Trust me on this!  I served them to my very non-vegan family in the days leading up to my wedding and they were all surprised by how much they enjoyed them. By the way, yes, they qualify as cheese because just like their traditional dairy based counterparts, they undergo an aging and ripening process. At least that’s the qualification given by my French cheese expert friend, even if it’s not recognized by the US government. Just order a party platter for your friends and family, and throw one or two in for yourself. You’re gonna want to try all the flavors. It’s a perfect excuse to have a party. I’ve already ordered twice in a one month time frame. I may have a bit of an obsession.

*It looks like the big mixes are sold out right now, but keep checking back as Miyoko always has batches of cultured nut product in the works and they add new items ever few weeks.

Phoney Baloney’s Coconut Bacon

I needed to include something else savory in this vegan holiday gift round up, so of course, I opted for bacon. Not in that “everything’s better with bacon” kind of way because, really, I have never believed that, even before I was vegetarian and I don’t understand why bacon is touted as a food group of its own. It’s disrespectful to all my little piggy friends, if you ask me.  Phoney Baloney’s is added to this gift guide list, because I love savory as much as I love sweet, if not more so, and their products always hit the perfect spot for me. Actually, they even mix savory with sweet in a maple coconut bacon flavor that is to live for. Phoney Baloney’s Coconut Bacon is great to snack on straight out of the bag, or on salads, pizzas, sandwiches, in cupcakes and brownies (just ask Charlie – it’s one of his brownie bites flavors, though I don’t know if he specifically uses PBs or makes his own) and so much more.

I love sending Phoney Baloney’s to friends as a “just cause”, which means it is a perfect stocking stuffer.  My holiday recommendation is to visit one of their online retailers and buy all five flavors.  Then spread some of Miyoko’s Rustic Alpine on slice of toast, add a piece of ChocoVivo’s fig almond, and top the whole thing with a sprinkle of apple fennel coconut bacon.  Yum!

coconut bacon

 

The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories – Cooking Lessons

Lastly, the best gift of all is the one that keeps on giving – the knowledge of how to make delicious treats at home! In other words, a gift certificate for cooking lessons at The Gourmandise School in Santa Monica. Conveniently, I’ll be teaching two vegan classes at the beginning of the year on January 24 and February 7.  Check out my events page for more info.

 

 

Know any awesome edible artisan products that you think should be included in this list? Leave your recommendations in the comments below. 

Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

Well, I’m a married lady now!  I’ll get into all the wedding stuff at a later time. Still trying to bask in all its awesomeness for as long as possible and slowly come back to reality after all the stress and excitement of wedding planning. To keep it brief, I’ll just say that it was an amazing day and I have an amazing husband (but I guess I already knew that I was getting that out of the deal).

The bonus of getting married at the beginning of November is that we still get to feel like we’re celebrating for another couple months. Yeah, holiday season!

It’s no secret that I love Thanksgiving (not the turkey slaughter part of it all, of course, but the togetherness and the mashed potatoes!).  For the first time ever, I’m thrilled that Jacques and I will be attending an all vegan Thanksliving celebration, graciously organized by my friend Jessica over at The Vedge App.  Usually, since I go all out for a Very Vegan Christmas, I just make a few sides to bring over to our host’s house. This year, however, Jess has it all covered and I don’t have to do any cooking, or cleaning, or be limited by a table of non-vegan food.

Here’s a round up of some of my favorite vegan Thanksgiving sides and desserts. They are all easy to make and sure to please and tease everyone at the holiday table.

Gluten Free Pumpkin pie

pumpkin pie

Autumn Apple Crisp

apple crisp

 

 

 

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauce

 

 

 

Hearty Vegetable Hash

vegetable hash

 

 

 

Toasted Farro with Roasted Squash

toasted_farro_roasted_squash

 

 

Butternut squash soup

 

Love Bites Chocolate

You may know by now that I have a sweet tooth that I have managed to tame with time and perseverance.  I managed to kick the sugar habit, to the point where I am comfortable nibbling on a sweet on occasion. When I do turn to sweets, it is, of course, in the form of chocolate.

It happens that October 28 was National Chocolate Day so it’s the perfect time to share with you a new chocolate discovery.

A couple of weeks ago, I received the following email from my wedding coordinator.

“We had a a Topangian chocolatier at the Inn yesterday for the raspberry champagne welcome, with a small stand of hand crafted, vegan, raw chocolates. As they were not just cute but incredibly delicious I was thinking of you 🙂 Just in case you don’t have your favors yet… it’s a cute welcome or even better a very cool good night and good bye item, the final sweet kiss :)”

She had me at “hand crafted, vegan, raw chocolates”. I’m a sucker for any artisanal chocolate, so I immediately googled Love Bites chocolate and emailed its creator, Michele Capra. Michele got back to me right away and offered a sample of her gorgeous chocolates so I could taste a few of the clever and creative flavors for myself.

With adorable names like Minty Morning, Lavender Lover, Heart Spark and Golden Temple, how could I say no!

 

photo credit Michele Capra
photo credit Michele Capra

The chocolates, which are all raw, vegan, organic and gluten-free, are a healthier indulgence option. The raw cacao maintains its antioxidants, making it great for fighting off toxins in your body, reducing inflammation, and improving blood circulation. What I love most is that they taste like smooth, deep, dark chocolate; there is only a hint of sweetness and you can taste the delicate flavors of each ingredient. My favorites were the Spicy Maya, Minty Morning and Mocha Maca.

The Spicy Maya, despite its intimidating name, has a lovely mild taste. You get bitter dark chocolate first and finish with a hint of smokey chipotle. Just the right amount of heat.

The Mocha has a deep, rich flavor and subtle crunch of ground espresso beans. It’s the perfect mid day pick me up!

Michele hand makes all the chocolates in small batches. It was a pleasure meeting her and learning about the passion and fun she puts into each batch. She puts a lot of thought into the ingredients, and has a blast coming up with silly, cutesy names. She says on her website that “the {chocolate making} process is a kind of meditation; I find peace in my early morning chocolate sessions, and I feel love when I share what I’ve created with others.”
Photo credit Michele Capra
Photo credit Michele Capra
Love Bites offers event and wedding catering, gift boxes, wholesale and direct order.
If you need a quick fix, Love Bites can also be purchased at Spring For Coffee (DTLA), LifeFood Organic (Hollywood), and Topanga Fresh Market (Topanga), but you’ll get a lower price if you order directly.

In fact, Love Bites is currently offering a holiday special from now until January 1 for $27 for a box of 12 delectable treats, and $47 for a box of 24. These elegant chocolates make great gifts so a highly recommend stocking up for the holidays!

Photo Credit Michele Capra
Photo Credit Michele Capra

Plant Based Cooking School in Redondo

Best of Nature Plant-Based Cooking School is an annual four week series, hosted by the South Bay Adventist Church in Redondo Beach. Every Tuesday night at 7pm, over 200 people gather to learn about the health benefits of plant based eating from a distinguished guest speaker, followed by a chef presentation and delicious food samples.  All free of charge!

The 2014 Plant-Based Cooking School started on Tuesday, September 30 and will conclude on Tuesday, October 21.  I’m thrilled to be a part of this amazing and informative event with a cooking demonstration I’ll be doing on Tuesday, October 14.

Please join me for an interesting discussion with Dr. Columbus Batiste, interventional cardiologist with Kaiser in Riverside, and stick around for a demonstration and sampling of some of my favorite fall recipes.

To attend, please register at http://www.southbaychurch.net/South_Bay_Church/Cooking_School_2014.html.

Cooking_school_invite_2014-1

Mediterranean Farro Salad

It’s that perfect time of year when the seasonal veggies overlap and there are seemingly endless combinations of veggies you can put together to create sensational flavors. I’ve been having so much fun in the kitchen taking advantage of this over lap.  I’ve topped roasted autumn veggies with juicy heirloom tomatoes; enjoyed a combination of eggplant and butternut squash; and paired crisp Asian pears with sweet red strawberries.

I just love the way summer meets fall in this delicious Mediterranean farro salad. It takes a little bit of prep, but most of it is down time while the veggies are roasting. Roasting is key to making this salad perfection, bringing out the natural sweetness of the vegetables through a gentle caramelization.

 

Mediterranean Farro

 

Mediterranean Farro Salad

Ingredients

1 cup farro

5 cups water

1 red bell pepper

1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil, divided

2 medium shallots, quartered

1 cup brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half

1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, rehydrated and sliced (reserve soaking water)

4 artichokes, quartered (packed in water)

handful of fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

handful of fresh parsley, minced

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Add farro and water to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until farro is tender.

2. Place bell pepper on a parchment lined baking sheet. Toss shallots and brussels sprouts in in half a tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet next to the pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven, flip all the vegetables, then return to oven for another 10-15 minutes, until browned.

3. Place the pepper in a small bowl and cover until cool enough to handle, then peel, remove seeds and dice.  Chop shallots into smaller pieces.

4. In a large pan, saute the artichokes and sundried tomatoes in remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil, until artichokes are lightly browned. Remove from heat, transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside. When farro is done cooking, drain and rinse under cold water. Add to bowl along with roasted vegetables. Stir in basil and parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

What are your favorite cross seasonal pairings?  Share in the comments below.

Caramelized Banana Oatmeal and Green Festival Recap

oatmeal banana
Caramelized Banana and Almond Oatmeal

What a whirlwind the last couple of weeks have been!  On the wedding planning front, everything is moving along smoothly. We’re starting to work out a lot of the details and feeling good about the progress. We have a few little fun surprises planned and hope our guests will be as excited as we are about some of the details!

Green Festival Los Angeles was this past weekend. A big thank you goes out to all those who were there to show their support, especially my lovely assistant Kristin of kristineline.com. The presentation at the Good Food Stage was very well received by an amazing and enthused audience of over 75 people. It felt great to be dropping some veggie burger knowledge on the fabulous attendees. One couple even came up to me at the end to tell me I help inspired them to adopt a plant based diet. Score!

 

Full House at Green Festival
Full House at the Good Food Stage (don’t mind the sign conveniently located above the men’s restroom)

With all the running around I’ve been doing, a hearty and filling breakfast has been just as important as ever to fuel me for the day. I was inspired one day looking at the bananas sitting in my fruit basket. I thought about how fantastic those babies would be caramelized, and a stroke of genius came to me to combine them with almond butter and oats for a sweet and creamy breakfast.

There’s no need for any added sugar because the caramelization releases the natural sugars from the bananas, providing the perfect amount of sweetness. A swirl of almond butter adds depth to the oatmeal, as well as an extra boost of protein and good fat (can we say yay to vitamin E for healthy skin and hair, and antioxidants to keep our heart, muscles and bones in tip top shape!)

If you’re in a rush or want to lower the sugar, you can skip the caramelizing, but I highly recommend taking the time to get those bananas nice and browned. It’s a whole new level of breakfast awesomeness.

Caramelized banana
Caramelized bananas

 

Caramelized Banana and Almond Oatmeal

Ingredients
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 medium banana, sliced
1/2 Cup water
3/4 Cup non dairy milk
1 Cup rolled oats
1 Tablespoon Almond Butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of nutmeg

Directions
1. In a medium sauce pan, heat coconut oil and add banana to the pan in a single layer. Cook over medium heat until browned on one side, then flip and brown the other side, about 3 to 4 minutes each side.

2. Add milk, water and oats and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed, adding a little more milk or water, if needed, to reach preferred consistency.

3. Remove from heat, stir in cinnamon and almond butter, until well incorporated. Serve in bowls topped with a drizzle of almond butter and chopped walnuts, if desired.

Makes 2 servings.

caramelized banana oatmeal
Garnished with a drizzle of almond butter and chopped walnuts

 

How do you like your oatmeal? Creamy, thick, runny? What are your favorite oatmeal additions?