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make ahead

Roasted Eggplant Hummus with Toasted Cumin

Roasted Eggplant Hummus with Toasted Cumin

Real talk here – emojis are one of the best attributes to ever appear in the smartphone world. It’s not infrequent that I’m texting half in emoji-speak, and dying in my bed from my own emoji-induced laughter.

Emojis are great, and so are the other goofs who can appreciate them as much as I do. Hopefully that’s you, otherwise you’re probably praying for my sanity right now.

Roasted Eggplant Hummus with Toasted Cumin

While I am forever anticipating the creation of a carrot emoji, I can say I frequently get down with the eggplant icon while I wait. Its purple radiance, with its bright green top, does wonders to add life to my muted text messages.

Eggplant emojis, for the win.

Japanese eggplant

You know what else is an eggplant win? When you add its roasted form to your hummus. You’ll find a recipe for that below, which is essentially a babaganoush meets hummus situation that can only be described as yum-o.

Roasted Eggplant Hummus with Toasted Cumin

By adding roasted eggplant into the chickpea mix, you create a slightly creamier spread to smear across your toasted bread or pita. I wanted to throw a little texture back in, so I toasted up some cumin seeds and added them, too. Like poppy seeds on a cracker, their small pop works well here, and really takes the spice infusion to another level. The toasty aromatics and nuttiness you derive from the whole form of cumin seed is worth the extra step.

Spread on pita with thinly sliced cabbage, spinach, and maybe some feta, too, or serve simply as is with warm, toasted bread and a drizzle of EVOO.

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Cauliflower, Kale, and Lentil Ragout

Cauliflower, Kale, and Lentil Ragout

I’m convinced I live in the best neighborhood in Philadelphia.

My apartment is just blocks away from the Mecca for persimmons by the bucket, 2-for-$1 avocados, and unlimited other cheap produce deals. AKA, the Italian Market. It also happens to be a prime destination for people-watching, which my camera and I enjoy quite often.

Cauliflower

Within this special place is Fante’s, a kitchen storefront with every type of gadget, pot, pan, canning material, etc. that you could ever need. You want an “asparagus steamer”? They’ve got it — along with special asparagus tongs, several kinds of asparagus peelers, and a platter to serve it all on. I  try not to frequent Fante’s because I also try not to let my bank account go underwater.  There’s a Whole Foods up the street that I save for that job.

Yes, just a few blocks in the other direction from my apartment lay two grocery stores. Whole Foods is one of them, and here I’m caught far too often fulfilling all my bulk food needs and trying to keep myself away from the hot bar. Sometimes I’ll nerd out with the Whole Foods employees about black rice and kombucha.

Cauliflower, Kale, and Lentil Ragout

In my ‘hood, Bella Vista, (in Italian, meaning “beautiful sight”), there are two wonderful yoga studios within walking distance, several coffee shops — one of which I’m convinced is in the running for the best iced coffee in the city — and an awesome spot to play late night pool.

On top of it all, it’s within biking distance of nearly every other main neighborhood I frequent in the city.

For me, it’s the place to be in the city, and for some reason I feel the need to write about this as the rain keeps me tucked inside my small apartment on its streets.

If I just had all of my friends here, a garden, a mountain, and a lake out my back door, I’d be set for life. Ha. While Bella Vista is awesome, I think “beautiful sight” by my standards might be a bit of an overstretch.

Kale and lentils

What is undoubtedly a beautiful site, however, is this mighty head of cauliflower I snagged yesterday at the market. And also this piece of fabric I picked up in fabric row, just another couple blocks away. A $2 piece of fabric and a $1.50 cauliflower + a priceless meal = beauty.

I whipped up a huge batch of this so I could freeze some of it for later meals. Feel free to cut the recipe in half if that’s not a project you want to do, or you don’t plan to feed a crowd.

The ragout itself is light, yet hearty, which I love. All of the spices make it feel rich, while its staples — cauliflower, kale, and lentils — keep it light. Top it with Parm or nutritional yeast, and it becomes a meal you could eat all week. What you place underneath is up to you, so you choose the grain/pasta that strikes your mood.

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Pumpkin Coconut Overnight Oats

How it’s November already is beyond me. Days at the beach seem like not far off from yesterday, and sweaters and boots still feel like fresh novelties. I assume for some it’s felt like fall for forever already, and I’m probably just still holding onto summer. As always. As always, time around me is flying and sunny, sandy days are forever being missed.

One day I’ll move somewhere warm for longer than a two week span and I’ll no longer write blog posts about dwelling in goodbyes to summer. But for now, I will 100% embrace my brown boots and knit scarves. And even look forward to the first snow. The only thing that scares me worse about moving to the west coast than leaving my family is missing out on the changing of seasons. As much as I absolutely adore summer and spring, I’m not sure in the absence of fall and winter I’d have the same appreciation.

Regardless of the forthcoming coldness, I’ve been enjoying and am looking forward to more weeks filled with pumpkin, one of my favorite parts of autumn (aside from the turning of the leaves, of course).

Lately, my blog has been all pumpkin and squash. For good reason, too. That orange color means Vitamin A galore, pairing well with the other fiber, vitamins and minerals that make those two hard-fleshed produce items annual superstars.

Three weeks until Thanksgiving, which means 21 days until my first yearly slice of pumpkin pie. Likely I won’t be enjoying any until then. Though of course, I’ll certainly be enjoying other recipes, like Pumpkin Pie Muffins and this rendition of overnight oats.

Coconut milk and pumpkin make this breakfast feel rich and hearty. While you embrace fall and wait out the last couple of weeks left till true pumpkin pie season, I assure you there’s no way this will leave you feeling deprived. However, let’s be clear — though this is rich, definitely don’t mistake it as being a poor breakfast choice. Generally, I’m a full-fat coconut milk fan, but the light version in this particular recipe still allows the flavor to shine through, while keeping it from becoming too heavy. The richness is nearly a façade, which is how true light recipes should be. Agreed?

Click here for recipe…

Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats

Late night baking calls for a healthy and quick, subsequent morning meal. Not that I wasn’t chowing down on Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies right alongside this bowl of Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats… Regardless, I wanted something a little less butter and sugar-filled to be the base of my breakfast. With some leftover pumpkin from the cookies, I got to work creating this while the last batch of cookies were still baking away in the oven.

There’s not much to say about this bowl of oats other than that it’s a heavenly way to start your morning if you’re a pumpkin pie fan like me. If you’re not familiar with overnight oats, I have a bunch of other recipes that will introduce you to the make-ahead creation. Usually, my base is oats, soymilk and yogurt. For this one, I swapped the yogurt with pumpkin puree, making it my second ever vegan overnight oats recipe. The pumpkin add a creamy consistency equivalent to that of yogurt, and with the spices, brown sugar and walnuts, you’d be tricked into thinking this wasn’t much healthier than the previous night’s cookies you might pair alongside it. But oh it is, and equally delicious!

Serve with a dollop of plain soy yogurt if you’d like a tart component to compliment your pumpkin pie in a bowl.

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Blueberry Banana Overnight Oats

Growing up, my mom was always try to create new ways to fix our oatmeal for breakfast.  Simple salt and pepper, peanut butter and banana, soy milk and maple syrup, ground nuts, and the other countless combinations she’d try out on my brother and I were all her endeavors to keep us eating a healthy breakfast.  Never a fan of starting off our day with sugar, Fruit Loops (my favorite junk cereal as a kid) was almost always out of the question.  On the rare occasion, my mom would let my brother and I wander the cereal aisle and actually pick out what we wanted. She’d treat us with mini cereal boxes for camping trips or some other special outing. On an everyday basis, however, it was some kind of oatmeal concoction going into the breakfast bowl.  Luckily, she was a particularly talented oatmeal lady. Switching it up frequently, I was often fooled into thinking I was eating something new on a regular basis.

One of my favorite ingredient combos. that she came up with was blueberry oatmeal.  She’d start the oatmeal and then a few minutes before it was finished, throw in a large handful of blueberries. She’d continue to cook just until the blues began to burst.  The oatmeal was always finished off with a spoonful of sesame tahini and a drizzle of quality maple syrup. The result:  A  heavenly bowl of oatmeal that resembled blueberry pancakes. Pancakes, of course, were an item I would’ve eaten nearly every day for breakfast.

As I grow older, I’m filling in for my mom and creating my own ways to eat my morning oats.  While my mom could eat and enjoy a bowl nearly every morning, it takes a little more motivation for me to crave oatmeal on a consistent basis.  However, lately I’ve been eating overnight oats on the reg. and find I still look forward to them each morning they await my spoon.  Below is my latest O-Oats creation, inspired by my mom’s timeless blueberry oatmeal.  I’ve created a cold, summery variation that’s prepared the night before, perfect for those morning’s when you’re in a rush.  Make sure to use a ripe banana, which surprisingly eliminates a need for any extra sugar…that’s certainly Mom approved.

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