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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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Pesto with Shaved Asparagus and Roasted Tomatoes

Field

If the thought of pesto, tossed with shaved asparagus and roasted tomatoes, seems far off from camping, I’m with you. But if that thought, along with the image of mint mojitos by the fire, sounds amazing, I’m undoubtedly with you, too. 

This year I learned you need to book a campsite well in advance if you want to tent it out over Memorial Day weekend. Because apparently everyone else wants to do that, too.

So much for spontaneity these days. Oh, and having the planning part covered by mom. Big kid problems.

Pesto with Shaved Asparagus and Roasted Tomatoes

I was determined to go camping this Memorial Day, and a bunch of booked campsites wasn’t going to get me down.

Plan B – Camp out at my madre’s house, a haven 2 hours outside the city that might as well be taken from the pages of Henry Thoreau. See field photo above. Not a bad alternative. (Just don’t compare my writing to Thoreau. I prefer a caveman-like brevity to never-ending sentences.)

Pesto with Shaved Asparagus and Roasted Tomatoes

Plan B turned into a bunch of Philly and hometown friends joining me for mojitos by the fire made from just picked mint via mom’s herb garden. It turned into watching hot air balloons sail, and then the sun fall, from the comfort of our front deck. It turned into setting up tents in a free backyard. And it turned into a conclusion of sleeping soundly inside.

Ah, yes. A mint-mojito-shaved-asparagus campout was never destined for sleeping outside, was it? To be fair, I will blame my friends for coercing me indoors. And also to be fair, we had one lone camper who roughed it out in his tent.

Asparagus

Now onto the food. While pesto might not seem like standard camping fare, for my vegetarian family, it was always a go-to. It keeps well in a cooler, and tastes fine both hot or cold. Plus, we always make it in large batches during the summer, when the garden basil’s at its peak, so it becomes an easy meal to pop out from the freezer.

It’s still too early to see basil thriving. But both my mom and I still have several pesto batches holding out from last season in our freezer.

Pesto with Shaved Asparagus and Roasted Tomatoes

When you’ve got the pesto part already made, sprucing it up to make it a little richer and fancier becomes easy and fathomable. Although, the pesto itself is not hard to make — so even if you don’t get a chance to make it ahead of time, I still recommend taking the time to include the tomatoes and asparagus seen here, too.

Pesto with Shaved Asparagus and Roasted Tomatoes

Asparagus has always been a springtime favorite, but it’s only been recently that I’ve discovered its utility in raw form. Slightly grassy and crisp, here it adds a refreshing and light crunch to what can feel like a full-bodied pasta dish. It pairs well with the tomatoes, whose flavor is drawn out and intensified via a little time in the oven. I love roasted tomatoes, so when I’m making this recipe, I’m roasting extra for me, and me only.

Grape Tomatoes

Maybe this isn’t your ideal grab-and-go camping dish, but it’s definitely an all-star bowl to include at your picnic or BBQ outing. It’s best hot, but still tastes great at room temp., and since it’s vegan, it’ll survive outside, too. Plate it up alongside a hotdog, and I challenge you to determine the winner. My bet’s on the pesto.

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Mostly Raw Curry Sunflower Oat Energy Bars

Most Raw Curry Sunflower Oat Energy Bars

Snow in the city is dirty. It will soil your shoes, your gloves, your stoop, your snowballs.

Suit up and put your game face on, or that black — and sometimes salty blue — stuff they call snow might stain a piece of your soul, too. It feels little like the soft, white flakes that flow quietly to country lands. Lands where cars stay stationary, kids go sledding and firesides roar.

Most Raw Curry Sunflower Oat Energy Bars

Yet snowfall in the city can also be a magical experience. I see this in ways far different than where I grew up. It comes in ways that remind me why I’m carrying out my youthful years in an urban setting.

Most Raw Curry Sunflower Oat Energy Bars

For one, while schools might shut down, often the community does not. Where I currently live, on snow days restaurants often remain open. They fill up with afternoon conversation. At the corner of my block, a place lights its fireplace and spreads out its board games. Beer is poured. Coffee is served. Warmth, both literally and socially, can be found in abundance.

My neighborhood’s yoga studio powers through with an evening session taught by a local teacher. I go, as do others, to fill the class, and practice while gazing out the window at the falling white flakes. They remain clean as they hang in the air, and it’s in this moment that I feel like I am “home” again. Back in the country enjoying a piece of serenity.

Following class, I rejoin the bustle. I meet a friend up the street at the fireplace for a beer and a game and good company. And again I remember, this is why I love the city.

Most Raw Curry Sunflower Oat Energy Bars

The start of this year has been a rough one in terms of the weather. I loathe winter. I could do without snow, and even seasons too if I really had to.

Yet, I am constantly reminded of why I still remain on the East Coast, in a state that won’t let me scoot by without being cold, in a city that I’ve grown to love. Surrounded by friends, and not far from family, I’ve learned to survive the cold seasons and even admire some of its parts I hate the most. Snow too has its place, and for now, it seems to be a significant part of my life…like it or not.

So until I get the guts to move far, far away to a new city in warmer lands, you can find me coping in my current city with my baking gear and measuring cups. When snow falls, cooking and tea and adventuring all call — usually in that order, too.

These were whipped up during our last winter storm here in Philly. They make for a healthy snack or breakfast, and are definitely going on my repeat recipe list. Made with antioxidant-rich curry powder and mostly raw ingredients (excluding the peanut butter), their packed with energy. The good kind. The kind you might need to get you through a long winter. Only 31 official days left. Not that I’m counting down or anything.

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Collard Wraps with Tempeh Sweet Potato Hash

Collard Wraps with Tempeh Sweet Potato Hash

A few days ago, I ran across a Whole Foods tweet touting collards are the new kale. Intrigued, I of course clicked the link directing me to a blog post in which its author wrote “growing up in Louisiana, collards greens were standard fare”. Spending my childhood in Pennsylvania with two green-obsessed parents, collards have always been a regular part of my diet too.

Collard Wraps with Tempeh Sweet Potato Hash

Of course, rotating on the dinner table was also Lacinato, Red Russian and other leafy varietals long before the whole kale craze ever  took off. And at the time, my little kid self didn’t care much for them. Apparently neither did anyone else.

Today, however, things have changed. I adore kale, and it’s become so apparently obvious, I am not alone.

Toasted cashews

What initially struck me as surprising was not that kale finally soared into stardom, but rather that collards were left behind. My parents had always grew equal amounts in the garden, and had served up equal amounts onto our plates. To me, the two went hand in hand. To an extent, they were almost interchangeable.

Collard Wraps with Tempeh Sweet Potato Hash

I find it no surprise, then, that Whole Foods thinks collard are to become the next kale. Though, I’m still amazed it took so long.

Like kale and the explosion of raw salads, I think collards will really begin to shine in their uncooked element. In the south, collards have always been common, and are traditionally known to be cooked to death with salted pork/fatback, and served as a side. Maybe this is why they didn’t take off right away. The result of that is not a pretty green sight.

Use them in their raw form as a substitute for tortillas, however, and they become one stunning way to bundle up a bunch of goodness. I did not grow up with collard wraps, but can fully say I’m excited to add more of them to my diet. Sturdy yet light, they feel like such a nourishing way to wrap up a lunch. Pack them in aluminum foil, and they also become an easy on-the-go snack.

These are stuffed with a flavorful curried tempeh, slightly sweetened with everyone’s favorite orange potatoes. I like to mash the sweet potatoes slightly into the tempeh to really blend all the flavors. Note: If whipping this up for dinner, make extra. These are great for a make-ahead lunch, served either warm or cold.

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Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Vegan Coconut Bacon

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Vegan Coconut Bacon

There’s this new spot that opened up in Philadelphia last year called COOK, designed for cooking demonstrations and classes. It features a 16-seat bar that sits in front of a workspace and large open range, with mirrors that hang above for the audience’s viewing. Here, foodie experts and chefs come to hold tastings and learning sessions. And the audience watches/joins in/eats, depending upon the night’s topic. The place is an absolute gem.

Brussels Sprouts

A newfound friend recently invited me to a vegan Thanksgiving class being held there, which would bring me my first COOK experience. By the end of the experience, I was entirely smitten. I do hope this means more nights there to come.

The event was held by a sweet lady named Rachel who owns Miss Rachel’s Pantry, a vegan catering and delivery service as well as a communal table styled restaurant. During the session, she whipped up recipes like cashew brie with toast, winter veggie stuffed seitan roast, and the recipe I bring you today. As the cooking transpired, the audience tossed out questions while COOK’s event host poured an endless supply of wine. Rachel’s responses were incredibly warm and so was the night.

Coconut Flakes

For me, this salad was definitely the highlight of the menu. I had only ever had coconut bacon once or twice before, and the raw brussels sprout concept was entirely new to my taste buds. Together, they make a combination that gives memory to a salad.

This is a bowl of leaves that’s far, far more than just a salad. With the toasty sunflower seeds, sweet and tart cranberries, and smoky coconut-y bacon, theres a huge depth of flavor going on here, all complimentary to the earthy, cabbage-like flavor of the brussels sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts

COOK often sends you the recipes from their events, which is awesome because I had been planning to recreate this recipe since my last bite. I whipped it up yesterday for a lovely Friendsgiving, and plan to make it again for my family’s own Thanksgiving. When a salad gets rave reviews at a party, you know its worthy of remaking and eating twice within a week’s time. If you don’t get around to it for Thanksgiving, I recommend you bookmark this for later. Thanks Rachel!

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