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quinoa

Vegetarian Stuffed Eggplant

Stuffed Eggplant

As discussed in my last post, I was recently asked if I’d like to review two of Urban Outfitters’ cookbooks,?Power Snacks and the one from which today’s recipes came,?The Clean-Eating Kitchen.

Stuffed Eggplant

Even more so than?Power Snacks, this particular cookbook takes an easy-to-make, weekday-kind-of-meals approach. Most of its recipes, like the Squash, Kale and Farro Stew or the Roasted Beet and Barley Salad or this recipe, the Stuffed Eggplant, are conscious of both time and ingredient list length.

Use fresh, quality ingredients, and you don’t need a recipe that spans across three pages. This cookbook gets that.

Stuffed Eggplant

From breakfast (think Raw Buckwheat & Almond Porridge) all the way to dessert (Mango Fruity Crush Ice Pops),?The Clean-Eating Kitchen offers pages of healthy eats to fill all meals of the day.

The recipes are considerably light and wholesome, and rather fitting for the summer season we’ve just begun. (Happy first day of summer!)

I decided to kick things off with a lunch/dinner option that would utilize fresh mint from my garden and two creamy roasted eggplants.

While stuffed eggplant can sound a tad daunting, this one was super quick to make. And tasty, too.

Stuffed Eggplant

Topped with toasted almonds for some crunch and a salty touch of feta, the eggplant here gets filled with a hearty quinoa and classic onion-garlic saute. Mint freshens it all up and adds a punch of flavor that completes the entire dish.

Feel free to add a spoonful of chickpeas to this Mediterranean-inspired meal for a little extra protein, and definitely consider serving it alongside a side salad. While this will get you’re oven going, I consider the light and freshness of this meal perfect for a hot summer’s day and a great compliment to some sweet, sliced tomatoes picked straight from the garden or snagged at your local farmer’s market.

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Quinoa Fall Buddha Bowl will Dill Tahini Sauce

Quinoa Fall Veggie Bowl will Dill Tahini Sauce

Montreal was dreamy. Parks and green space were both in abundance, as were spacious bike lanes and an inspiring amount of cyclists putting them to good use.

Bagels also abound, but even more exciting for me was the number of vegan spots present in every neighborhood. There were tons of them. It was glorious.

Roasted Kabocha

Many of the vegan restaurants were casual, hosting menus of simple, affordable meals made from quality ingredients. It was in the details, like that extra handful of sprouts or the fact that the tempeh was homemade, that made each meal stand out.

The warm, notably thin, ever-so slightly crispy pita that held one breakfast’s tofu scramble still sticks in my mind this morning. Details. It’s all about the details.

Quinoa Fall Veggie Bowl will Dill Tahini Sauce

A lot of spots also had nourishing bowls like this, the inspiration behind today’s recipe. After snacking on croissants, these kind of meals come in handy.

But really, if you want to feel energized and clear-headed, meals like these are perfect for anytime.

It’s the best when you finish up a filling meal, and feel nothing but refreshed afterwards. This is the beauty of what the blogging world calls the Buddha Bowl.

Sesame Seeds

Packed with protein-powered whole grains and sweet, creamy roasted kobacha squash, I consider this a treat to welcome in the autumn season. Tahini sauces are always my favorite, too, so this herbed rendition really seals the deal. You’ll notice the recipe makes double the amount of sauce you’ll need. You could either A) feed more people and double the veggies too, or B) save the sauce and use it in other salad/grain recipes later. If you decide to do the later, you may wish to add a little extra water or heat the sauce following refrigeration. The sauce thickens once cooled.

Quinoa Fall Veggie Bowl will Dill Tahini Sauce

Feel free to add some tofu or chickpeas on top for a little extra oomph.

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Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Pilaf with Feta

Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Pilaf with Feta

Guys. Gals.

Yesterday I received some incredible news.

I’m going to have a garden plot in one of my favorite community gardens in Philadelphia!! I have been dreaming of this day since I first laid eyes many years ago on the magical oasis currently plopped right in the center of what’s now my neighborhood. It’s dreamy. And green. And filled with dirt, and creatures, and veggies, and all the other outdoor components I miss often from my farmer days.

Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Pilaf with Feta

Spaces like these are in hot demand in the city, which of course is no surprise. Generally, they’re locked down with a waiting list so full of names that you could’ve moved to three other towns within the time that they call your name.

Luckily, my roommate and amigo has had her name on that list for three years. And yesterday, she got THE call. I moved into her house a few months ago, and am thrilled to have stumbled into this situation. I am more than excited to scheme up how we are going to takeover the world…I mean, this new 10×10 foot of land.

Roasted Carrots

This was obvious reason to celebrate, and what better way to celebrate a new garden than with roasted carrots? (I would also argue these veggie tats are an excellent source of celebration. But that’s aside the point.)

One of my favorite veggies to grow is carrots because they simply taste 10 times better from the ground than they do from the plastic bags you get at the supermarket.

That thought has me chowing down on this light and healthy pilaf, rich in flavor and salty, feta + sunflower seed goodness. That saltiness gets balanced with a touch of sweetness, derived from both caramelized onions and earthy carrots, to create a well-rounded side dish or lunch.

Sure, those carrots pictured above are from Trader Joe’s…but this recipe’s in honor of my carrot-filled dreams and optimism for spring, when I’ll be eating out of my own garden. Cheers to that!

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Harvest Stuffed Squash with Cilantro Tahini Sauce

Swiss Chard

I’m about to give a bit of a confession here – I have yet to buy one single Christmas gift.

That holiday, which I celebrate, is just a handful of days away. Yikes.

In my defense, I have constructively made five cutting boards in the past month. (Hello new, awesome, expensive-but-oh-so-worth-it hobby.) While I may shed a tear as I part with each of them, I’m fairly certain they’ll make for good gifts. For the whole family.

I mean, my five-year-old niece will love a nice, smooth piece of wood, right? Yeah, maybe not.

Harvest Stuffed Squash

While I’ve been neglecting a Christmas shopping trip, I have not been neglecting the season’s signature colors. Rather, I’ve been embracing those reds and greens quite frequently in my kitchen lately, this dish included.

If you squint, or dim the lights, swiss chard will shed a nice holiday crimson onto your counters. Keep that in mind if you were about to call me out. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Hey, swiss chard is pink. You should probably go get your eyes checked.”

Kabocha Squash

Bringing green to your plate is one of the best gifts you could give to yourself this winter. Add some nutty winter squash and creamy tahini, and your tastebuds will be more than pleased, too.

With food-filled gatherings, often left and right, now more than ever do I appreciate a meal like this. It’s hearty so it’ll leave you satisfied, but not feeling weighed down like a typical heavy holiday dish.

Swiss Chard

If you do want to richen it up a bit, double the tahini sauce. You can really rarely go wrong with an extra spoonful of tahini on top of cooked winter squash.

Also, feel free to ditch the whole “stuffed” idea, and simply serve this as a pilaf. You can use any squash variety that you like for this dish. So, if you’re using something like butternut, likely it’s not going to have a round enough bowl to really stuff, and that’s okay. Mash the extra and serve it underneath.

I will say though, there is something that feels magical about turning a squash into a bowl. I used a kabocha, which I’d highly recommend if it’s available to you.

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Simple Collards Wraps with Curried Lentils & Quinoa

Simple Collards Wraps with Curried Lentils & Rice

My first step off the plane back into my home of Philadelphia welcomed me with a rush of balmy hot air. Hello East Coast. Hello 90-degree summer. Hello “please take me back west”.

In all reality, transitioning from a vacation is significantly easier when done in the summer. This is the time of year when I love my city the most. It’s the time of year where Philly offers free yoga classes, outdoors, every day of the week. (Sweat & smiles, all around). The time when I can ride my bike effortlessly, no jacket needed. And when beer gardens pop-up by the handful to meet my bike-induced, thirst-quenching needs. (Although, I am still waiting for that California/Portland kombucha-on-tap scene to take over Philly and fulfill those needs, too.)

As for the west coast – I feel we may meet again one day. Sunny California, you stole a piece of my heart. And did a good job streaking my hair blonde with your sunrays.

Grace Dickinson

My recent travels took me through L.A., some smaller towns of Cali, all around Portland by bike, and up and down numerous, breathtaking mountains. There was lots of vegan food to be had, some of which I will be recreating (in particular, the Coconut Lentil Quesadillas from Real Food Daily!). An abundance of inspiration. Park picnics with friends. Fantastic & jolting iced coffee (Intelligentsia, for the win). Corresponding coffeeshop interactions. Adventures, surfboard crashes, and even a reality TV show recruiting.

I’ve never been so active on a vacation. Daily swim-yoga-hiking combinations unfolded, and its climbing those West Coast mountains that I’ll miss the most. I tell you, that’s where I truly feel alive.

Beluga lentils

Now that I’m back though, I want to keep that feeling of “aliveness” alive. That calls for healthy, nourishing food, and with this killer East Coast heat wave, some cool eats, too.

Shall this be the summer of collard wraps? I’ve already deemed it the summer of socca, but it can be both, right?

Simple Collards Wraps with Curried Lentils & Rice

I love how light and refreshing collard wraps feel, while also being able to easily pack in a bunch of flavor into one portable package. It’s the kind of meal that won’t weigh you down on blazing sunny days, and also one that can generally be enjoyed hot or cold.

Keep the filling hot if you’re feeling a warm but light dinner. Or roll these up, place them in the fridge, and have a cool, ready-to-go lunch for the next day. I, of course, did both.

Simple Collards Wraps with Curried Lentils & Rice

This meal would fit right into the forward-thinking cities of Cali (and Portland, too!). So in a sense, I’m just bringing my trip home with me. Working or not, I like to view every day of summer as vacation, and these are so easy to make, they fit well into that mindset. A one-pot meal? Packaged into fresh summer greens? With tomatoes and avocado? Ready to join me for the Cali-inspired summer of collard wraps? Yeah, me too.

But don’t worry. More socca is on its way too. And for my East Coast friends, I’m not moving just yet.

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