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Quick Spring Eats

Spring so far has been more about cleaning than cooking. It’s been all about salad days — Mac DeMarco included. Morning runs — some in shorts and a t-shirt!(!!)  And quick, unplanned dinners. It’s been about leisurely minutes spent outside, explorations with friends, and cleaning my psyche. (I hope you didn’t think by cleaning, I meant my apartment. Currently, my laundry’s flooding my room, and likely covering up the dust that’s swimming down beneath it. Hey – that could be considered laundering the floor though, right?)

Sometimes, when spring calls, you’ve just got to shift your priorities a bit and soak up all that sun that bright sky is shining down. However, that doesn’t mean turning your diet to crap. Short on time certainly doesn’t mean pizza night should be every night.

Let's eat

For Lunch/Dinner: When you can have a few quick and easy recipes up your back sleeve, your spring cleaning will feel so much more CLEAN. As I said, I’ve been doing a lot of salad. Raw greens are my go-to, largely because their heartiness can take on a lot, and because they’re easy to make a meal out of. Add grains. Add beans. Maybe add herbs or cheese. Add nuts. Add other veggies. Definitely add avocado. Create a salad that feels like much more than a salad, so you can feel both healthy and excited. The best part? When you start with a base of raw kale or collards, you can make a huge bowl on Sunday night, and have something already made you can munch on all week. Throw this Tahini Dressing on it, and you’ll be golden.

Chia Overnight Oats

For Breakfast: If you’re like me, and you’ve been using the spring weather to get up early and bike/run/read/whatever — or if you’re not, perhaps consider doing so; it feels great  — it’s ideal to have a breakfast that’s both energizing and quick. I HATE rushing around in the morning. It starts my day off on a stressed out note. But when going for a run in the morning, I can’t say I love waking up extra, extra early either. My solution? Have breakfast prepared the night before.

Here’s where overnight oats comes in. I’ve definitely featured a few of these recipes before on my blog. I’m still eating it on the regular, and am still loving how satisfying it is. Plus, it’s made in advance so you literally need just one minute in the morning to pull it out of the fridge, top it with nuts, and drizzle maple syrup on top — leaving all your other morning minutes to relax and fuel up. See below for the recipe to my latest chia seed rendition.

Curried Ketchup Cabbage and Potato Stir-Fry

For Lunch/Dinner: Another go-to is breakfast-for-dinner. Pack your breakfast with veggies, and this becomes an incredibly quick health-for-your-buck kind of meal. My breakfast of choice this past week? Eggs a la Curried Ketchup Potato Cabbage Stir-Fry.

There’s a beer garden in Philly that turns simple snacks into memorable menu items solely by the curried ketchup they offer on the condiments table. I’m pretty sure all they do is add a little curry powder to regular store-bought ketchup – which is what I do with my potato/cabbage breakfast-for-dinners.

There’s no set recipe here. Dice 1 large onion and 1 large potato, and saute in some olive oil until the onion is caramelized. Meanwhile, slice up about 1/2 head cabbage. Add 1/4-1/3 cup of ketchup to the pan, along with a palmful of curry powder. Stir, and then add the cabbage. Add a splash or two of apple cider vinegar, and cook over medium heat. If cabbage begins to stick, add 1/3 cup of water, and cover pan with a lid. Finish cooking until cabbage is tender, 8-10 minutes in total, adding a few red chili pepper flakes if you want it spicier. Top with a pan-fried egg, and serve.

Don’t worry. I’ll be back to cooking up slightly more elaborate meals pretty soon once the novelty of spring wears off. And if that doesn’t happen, then the abundance of early season veggies on their way is bound to get me back in the kitchen. I’m getting antsy just thinking about it.

What’s your favorite spring meal? Or your favorite quick meal to make?

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Italian Soy Sausage Hoagies


Here in Philadelphia, we’re serious about our bread. It’s what helps make Pat’s and Geno’s the legendary joints that they are. And the subtle differences between the rolls of the two South Philly fames only fuels the fire heating up the rivalry among these two. While I’m not one to dive into Philly’s mainstream cheesesteak scene, you can catch me in another part of South Philly chowing down on the occasional vegan cheesesteak at Blackbird. Even this joint knows its bread.

If you have quality ingredients on your hands, dinner doesn’t have to be difficult. And for these vegan, Italian-inspired babies, it’s all about the bread. A crisp, crusty exterior hiding a soft, airy core is what you’re aiming for. That yeasty smell should still linger on the outside with an aroma* that deepens when you cut into the heart of the bread.

To achieve this optimal, chewy goodness, you have to go with the standard white flour roll. Obviously, I’m generally a whole wheat kind of gal, and have enjoyed some pretty impressive WW loaves. But when it comes to that light, chewy consistency needed for the perfect Italian Hoagie, it’s worth the occasional whole wheat sacrifice.

My search for the perfect hoagie roll led me to Philly’s Italian market, where I was able to snatch two of these rolls for less than a dollar! From there, the rest of this meal was effortless. I went with my favorite soy sausage, sauteed up some fresh veggies, and served it with a colorful side of red cabbage and spinach salad. Stick with fresh, veggie-loaded sides to offset the whole wheat swap, and you’re golden.

*(If you want to take the aroma-factor to the next level, bake your own bread, and you’ll concurrently fill your house with that heavenly, breadalicious fragrance…but the process might also add a little of that difficulty factor back into the kitchen that we were trying to avoid, so save it for a lazy-but-not-so-lazy Sunday.)

Click here for recipe…

Vegan Bean and Sausage Chili

Whew. Just got back from a 9-hour photoshoot with a great crew of people. The only downside to the day was an icy bike ride over and a finger-numbing ride home.  I’ve gotten so used to the light jacket-friendly days of January that this below-freezing weather nonsense in February feels preposterous.

I’ll gladly admit I’m a winter-hater, but it does provide a pretty good excuse to cook up some chili. Nothing feels better than coming home on a frigid evening to a hot bowl of chili, accompanied by a side of corn bread if I’m lucky.

The following recipe creates a hearty dish showcasing several meat-free, protein-packed ingredients. Here, kidney beans team up with vegan sausage to provide around 13 grams of protein per serving.  Served atop a 1/4 cup of bulgur (one serving), and you tack another 5 grams on to the meal.  Who says protein has to mean meat?

This dish is also brimming with flavor.  The beans and sausage simmer their juices with those of tomatoes, while being infused with the flavors of chili powder and smoked paprika.  Portobellos add that “meatiness” you’d expect from a protein-filled meal, and cilantro tops it off with a vivacious bang of freshness.  This is  F-F-F chili, vegan style.

Click here for recipe…

Curried Tempeh

Mmm, curry powder. The quintessential spice blend that fills much of Indian cooking lends such an astounding aroma to the kitchen. Aside from its riveting taste, sometimes I choose to cook with curry powder purely for its fragrance. The best is homemade curry powder, with cardamom, coriander, cumin, and a variety of other fresh seeds, ground up, and then sealed in your own jar. It becomes your own fairy dust, capable of working its magic on so many different ingredients. Homemade curry powder truly does make a significant difference in terms of flavor, but if you’re quite the busy lady (fella’), store-bought will certainly do.

Here, I use it to season one of my favorite vegetarian proteins—tempeh. Tempeh has such a dense, meaty texture, which of course I love. Plus, its nutrition stats are astounding—20 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber, 10% DV of potassium, up to 15% DV of iron—and with an ingredient list of five items or less, this is one of those hearty no-guilt ingredients I should be stocking my kitchen with more often.

However, tempeh’s truly not a very tasty ingredient when kept plain. It works best with a marinade of some sort, which is when I call my favorite fragrance of curry powder into the kitchen. I also added a few other ingredients, like ginger for some spice, mirin for a very subtle sweet touch, and cilantro and peppers for a splash of color. Pair it with brown rice, and you’ve got yourself one powerhouse meal.

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Rice Salad with Marinated Tempeh

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a huge fan of grain salads. Why? They’re so effortlessly tasty, healthy, and transportable. All it takes to achieve that award-winning, 3-part combo. is this simple 3-part formula: One part grain + one part protein + one part seasoning. It’s as easy as that.

Grains: First you pick your grain. Let’s say you’re tired of brown rice (as used in this recipe), so then go for quinoa. Or bulgur wheat. Or maybe you even try millet. The list could go on, so even though the 3-part formula essentially stays the same, don’t worry about boredom creeping into the picture.

Proteins: Next, you choose your protein. As with grains, there’s a never-ending list of beans you can deploy. If the common legumes like chickpeas or black beans have your appetite dozing off, then break out of your comfort zone and try something different. One of my new favorites are butter beans. Or you could try lentils, adzuki beans, even edamame. Not feeling the beans? Then go for tofu, seitan, or tempeh, like I settled on for this one.

Seasonings: The last part of the formula is when you let your creative side run wild. Decide whether you want to go for herbs or spices or a combination of both. Determine whether you want a sweet, savory, or spicy vibe to flow from your grain salad. You can choose from cilantro, cocoa, curries, cinnamon, cardamon, caraway seeds, Just those six “c” herbs/spices merely begins to conquer the list of “c’s,” let alone the rest of the alphabetical herb spectrum. The seasoning list is probably the longest of any mentioned yet, so have fun with it!

For my latest grain salad, I went with brown rice, marinated tempeh, and cilantro. Easy. I added avocado, a standard ingredient seen in most of my grain salads, simply because I adore it’s creamy richness. It’s incredible how much WOW! power a few slices of avocado can add to a dish.

So what about you…What’s your favorite grain salad combo.?

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