Quick, Healthy, Plant-based Meal Ideas

We had plans to go snowboarding in the mountains today, but it’s going to be 81 degrees in Denver! there is no way I’m talking away from one of the most beautiful spring days a girl could ask for. I’m going to take the opportunity to work in my yard, I’m going to paint my garden shed, hang a hammock, and potentially re-finish a park bench that I thrifted. 

We are spoiled in Denver, we have had the most mild winter, most days not even requiring a jacket. With the weather as mild as it is, I want to be outdoors, riding my bike, jogging the lake, hiking..

With the weather as mild as it is, I haven’t had cravings for as many heavy, warm meals. I’ve kept it light, and fresh, and raw, and colorful. (colorful because Colorado is NOT colorful during the winter – the downside)

A few months ago, I sat down and listed out some foods that I could keep around the house that would allow me to make quick, healthy, nourishing meals. I haven’t been into much “cooking” lately, because of the weather and the “Colorado” active lifestyle. “Time” is an issue for many of us, it’s something that we never seem to have enough of. 

Today, I am sharing the meals, snack, and sweets that I have found fit my current lifestyle. I hope to someday be ready to get back in the kitchen to throw down on some badass meals, but in the present moment, I’m too busy in the outdoors to spend a lot of time in the indoors. 

Pea Hummus

For veggie wraps, I keep tortillas, a variety of veggies, and either some type of sauce or dressing on hand. What I like about tortilla wraps, is that they can be different every time – I can add whatever veggies I’m craving for the day, some spinach or arugula if I have some on hand, and then a sauce – which could be hummus, pesto, a vinaigrette, or even salsa.

If I don’t have time to craft a wrap (ugh, that time factor!), I’ll quick grab a few veggies and dip them in whatever flavor hummus I have on hand. (hummus is something that I try to ALWAYS keep on hand) This snack is super easy to travel with. A Quick Tip: keep a few veggies chopped and ready-to-eat in the fridge.


I have found frozen edamame and several different grocery stores, my favorite being Trader Joe’s. The beauty of frozen edamame is that it takes almost zero time to prep – sprinkle it with sea salt and warm it in the microwave for a few second – voila. For dipping, I keep a mason jar of soy sauce marinating with a clove of garlic and a few pieces of cut ginger – the longer the spy sauce marinates, the better it tastes. 

If you’re keeping fresh veggies on hand, then it won’t be hard to craft a salad. Although I typically like to make my own salad dressings, I keep a Tessemae’s Salad Dressing on hand at all times just in case. (my favorite is the Lemon Garlic) If I don’t have many veggies on hand, I’ll dress arugula with the Lemon Garlic Dressing and eat a big bowl of that as a meal – it’s good and green! A few salad combinations that I love: Banana Fantasy Salad, Kale Salad, Cucumber Watermelon Quinoa Salad.

Macadamia Nut Pesto Power Bowl

Combine veggies, nuts, cooked quinoa or rice, and a dressing or a pesto to make a power bowl. I recently shared a recipe for a Power Bowl combination I have been eating – it included chopped carrots, zucchini, quinoa, kale, and coconut chips. Another Power Bowl combination I love includes pumpkin, soba noodles, and black beans (this one would take more time to prepare).

I keep either cooked quinoa, cooked rice, or both on-hand most of the time. When I’m craving a more filling meal, I will sauté the rice or quinoa with whatever green veggie (kale, brussels, broccoli, kalettes) I have on hand. If I’m feeling saucy, I’ll add a dressing or a dollop of pesto for added flavor.

Green Apple Smoothie

Slice an avocado in half, mash the avocado meat with some spices like salt, pepper, paprika, onion, and garlic. A recipe that I love: Deviled Avocados

I like smoothies because they are packed with nutrients and can be taken on-the-go. They don’t fill me up for a long period of time, but they hold me over until I can get a real meal in, AND they offer me a burst of energy and make me feel alive. I have never made the same smoothie twice (maybe) because I always make them based on what I have on hand. Ingredients I might add to me smoothies include fruit (fresh or frozen, fruit juice (cranberry, apple, orange, pineapple) or nut milk, flax seed or a protein powder, and a green (kale, spinach, or avocado). A few recipes: Berry + Kale, Avocado Pineapple, Tart Green Apple, Carrot Mango.




Macadamia Nut Pesto Power Bowl

Spring is among us, yay! Instead of a dark, mystic color that I’ve been choosing for my toenail polish over the past few months, I polished my toes with a pastel aqua shade. Bright, and pastel colors make me happy right now. My dog whined at the door for several minutes before running out just to lay in the grass and sunbathe. He hasn’t done that in quite a while, he’s been curled up under the blankets – even he can sense the change of season.

My refrigerator is changing as well, instead of warm comfort foods like rice, soups, and cooked greens, I’m craving raw colorful foods like salads and wraps. 

This power bowl combination was inspired by my new love for zucchini and my ongoing obsession with kale, quinoa, and coconut. I’ve been exploring different ways to use my macadamia nut pesto, and it works quite well as a “dressing” to colorful veggies. The combination I have listed in the recipe works perfectly but I considered broccoli and red bell peppers as well (next time!).

Through the creation of this power bowl, I am inspired to start eating my kale raw again, I’ve been in the habit of cooking it over the winter months. As the raw kale and vibrant veggies hit my taste buds, there was a little flavor dance happening in my mouth, my body has been craving the raw energy. (and anyway, it’s almost bikini season so… that.)

Macadamia Nut Pesto Power Bowl

Macadamia Nut Pesto Power Bowl
  • 2 cups kale, de-stemmed & shredded
  • ½ cup quinoa, boiled in coconut milk*
  • ½ cup toasted coconut chips
  • ½ a carrot, chopped
  • ½ a zucchini, chopped
  • ⅛ cup Macadamia Nut Pesto
  1. Toss all veggies in the macadamia nut pesto and top with coconut chips.
  2. Serve slightly chilled or at room temp.
*When cooking your quinoa, cook it with coconut milk instead of water for added sweetness and flavor - it compliments the power bowl well!

The toasted coconut chips I use most often come from Trader Joes, but I also like the dang foods coconut chips.

Macadamia Nut Pesto Power Bowl




Macadamia Nut Pesto

One of the things I reminisce the most about Hawaii is the macadamia nut. Everything “macadamia nut” is readily available everywhere you go – including macadamia nut pesto, macadamia nut coffee, macadamia nut butter, macadamia nut encrusted everything, and so much more that I don’t want to talk about because I’m not in Hawaii to eat it.

Two months later, and I’m still on a high from my trip to O’ahu, maybe it’s because my best friend visited a few weeks after me and I’m re-living the island lifestyle through her, or maybe it’s because that trip was just THAT good for me/us. Either way, the high feels good.

Macadamia Nut Pesto

After reading the first few paragraphs of this blog post, I’m sure it’s OBVIOUS where my inspiration for this recipe came from. (clue: Hawaii)

I’m a sucker for non-traditional pesto recipes, and I like to keep them around, not only because I’m a condiment junkie, but also because a dollop of pesto can turn a bland meal in to a flavorful one.

For instance, last night I sautéed some kale, rice, and black beans, and then tossed it all in a spoonful of this pesto. Without the pesto, my meal was not a meal – it was simply a few ingredients thrown together, the pesto tied the 3 ingredients together and made it a complete, savory, well-balanced meal, flavor-bursting-at-the-seams. My boyfriend ate my leftovers, it was nice of me to allow him. And anyway, I have more of that pesto in the refrigerator so I could potentially do it all over again tonight.

Macadamia Nut Pesto

Macadamia Nut Pesto
  • ¼ cup macadamia nuts
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup coconut oil (or olive oil if you choose)
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • a pinch of pepper
  1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and puree.

In this recipe, I used coconut oil because coconut oil goes really well with macadamia nuts (think: Hawaii) however the one thing that I don’t like about coconut oil is that it hardens up when refrigerated. It’s not big deal, I simply allow my pesto to warm up to room temp prior to using it. Just because I used coconut oil, doesn’t mean that you have to – this recipe is just as good with olive oil. Assess the situations that you will be using this pesto in, and make a choice based on the flavors you will be blending – voilà.

This pesto will freeze nicely, so I recommend you double your batch and keep some for later!
(that’s what I did)


Macadamia Nut Pesto




aloha Hawaii

Our trip included 10 days on O’ahu which allowed us to circle the island twice. We stayed in several different places on the island in several different areas. During our trip we hiked, shopped, explored, and hung out at the beach. This packing list that I am providing includes the items that worked for us. I have offered commentation on the big “why” behind the items listed. You may need to add to this packing list if you are staying longer, doing different activities than we did, or attending an event.

What To Pack While On O'ahu


cute Tanks & T-shirts
multiple pairs of Shorts
1 pair of Moisture-Wicking Pants/Shorts
1-2 pairs of pants, jeans are appropriate
2-3 Sundresses
Lightweight Hoodie or Sweater
Lightweight Jacket
3-4 Bathing Suits (in Hawaii, the tinier, the better!)
a couple of swimsuit cover-ups
comfortable Underwear
Sports Bras

Winter in O’ahu is warm enough for the beach during the day, but it gets chilly at night so be sure to pack clothing that is appropriate for both times of the day. Also, there are several amazing hikes available on the island, we did a few hikes before sunrise and they were wet and chilly, which is why I recommend the moisture-wicking gear. Honolulu people were dressed up for dinner, otherwise shorts, a tank, and flips were the standard uniform – go with it.

What Tt Pack While On O'ahu


Hats: Sun Hat, Ball Cap
multiple pairs of Sunglasses
Bandana / Headbands
small Umbrella
Surf attire (if you plan on surfing)

I would imagine the majority of your time will be spent at the beach, hiking, touring or eating. You won’t need much for any of these activities – just you, your clothing, and a small day pack or beach bag. Don’t over-think it.

What To Pack while on O'ahu


comfortable Flip Flops
Hiking or Trail shoes
Running Shoes
lightweight Hiking Socks

You’ll find that most people on the island wear flip flops, no matter what they’re doing. The only time I wasn’t wearing flips while on the island is when I was hiking and jogging along the beach.

What to Pack While On O'ahu 


Bobby Pins
Hair Ties
Nail Clippers / File
Lip Balm w/ SPF
Insect Repellent
Cortisone Anti-Itch Cream
Hand Sanitizer

Most of these items are readily available for purchase on the island, so pack light and stock up when you arrive – just know that the items are more expensive on the island.

What To Pack While On O'ahu


Waterproof Video Camera, I recommend a GoPro Hero Cam
Selfie Stick (everyone on the island has them!)
Laptop (I recommend you dump your memory cards at the end of each day)
Travel Alarm Clock
Spare batteries
Spare Memory Cards

I always hesitate to pack so many electronics, but never regret having them with me. The island as safe, so don’t worry about your stuff being stolen unless you let it sit in the front seat of a rental car. Take a good camera, you’ll get some amazing photos. Dump your memory cards at night, just in case. Be shameless about selfies, everyone on the island is doing it. Take an alarm clock to wake you up before sunrise – trust me, you’ll want to get up to watch the sunrise. You’ll need a flashlight to hike in the dark.

Kailua, O'ahu Hawaii


Reading Books
Guidebook (I liked Fodor’s O’ahu Guidebook)
Pens & Pencils
Art supplies (if you’re in to that)
Mesh Laundry Bag
Travel Yoga Mat
Backpack Food (for hiking & beaching)
a Beach Bag
a Beach Blanket 
a Day Pack (for hiking or tours)

Don’t worry about packing beach towels, anywhere you stay will most likely provide them. Take a blanket though, it’s a great supplement to a beach towel and it will keep you warm on your sunset/sunrise viewings. If you’re an artist, take your supplies – there is plenty of space and time to create art. With goggles alone, we were able to see a lot of fish underwater – we never even rented snorkel gear because we could see so much with the goggles.

What To Pack While On O'ahu


Driver’s License
Credit Cards 
Travel Itinerary

I would highly recommend reading though a guidebook and doing research PRIOR to your trip – have an idea of what you’d like to do/see before you get there. There is so much to see and do, you won’t be able to do it all in one trip (chances are) so find what is important to you! 

What To Pack While On O'ahu

What To Pack While On O'ahu




Popcorn Puppy Chow

We are completely snowed in today, for the second day in a row. Well, yesterday we braved the snow and went to a coral reef convention. Coming home from the convention should have taken us less than 30 minutes last night, but because of the snow, it took us 2.5 hours. After last nights debacle, we decided to drive nowhere today. We’ve enjoyed ourselves, for sure, and we’ve taken advantage of the time to get “things” done.. like, sync our calendars, book travel, google campsites, and all the stuff we’ve been meaning to but haven’t made time to do. I’m feeling accomplished.

During last nights car ride (that 2.5 hour car ride), I must have promised Patrick that I would make him some popcorn puppy chow. Just for fun. Who knows where I cam up with the idea? Maybe on Pinterest? That’s what I was doing while we were in the car going nowhere, I was pinning on Pinterest. Anyway, I was nauseous yesterday, and barfing. I shouldn’t talk about barfing on the blog here, but I am because being nauseous is what prompted me to buy 2 bags of popcorn. Popcorn was the only thing I could eat yesterday, although I certainly didn’t eat 2 bags full. So I had all this popcorn leftover today and after hours of sitting on the couch, staring at my laptop, I decided to get up and fulfill my promise – that Popcorn Puppy Chow. 

So I made my puppy chow. But I made it up as I went along so I don’t even have a formal recipe… Everyone is asking for a recipe, and everyone is asking for it NOW. Ha. So anyway, this post. 

Cokie Butter, Dark Chocolate, Popcorn Puppy Chow

The informal RECIPE goes a little something like this: 

1. Buy a bag of Earth Balance Buttery Popcorn. 
2. In a double boiler, melt 2 bars of dark chocolate, a few scoops of peanut butter, and a scoop or two of Cookie Butter (from Trader Joe’s). If you don’t have a double boiler, learn how to fake one.
3. In a large bowl, pour the melted chocolate mixture over the popcorn and stir gently until all of the popcorn is evenly saturated. You may have to do this in small batches. 
4. Put the chocolatey popcorn and some powdered sugar, AND some cinnamon (if you’d like) in a large, sealable baggie and shake it until the popcorn is coated evenly.
5. Allow the popcorn to cool for a few minutes before serving – or dig in right away, you get to choose.


1 bag of Earth Balance Popcorn
2 bars dark chocolate 
about 3-4 cups powdered sugar
a few large scoops of peanut butter
a few scoops of Cookie Butter (from Trader Joe’s) (if you don’t have cookie butter, I pity you, you can just use peanut butter or any type of nut butter – you choose)
a few teaspoons of cinnamon (not completely necessary, but I recommend!)

I apologize for the imperfect recipe, I had to get it out there with a quickness! I’ve got people clawing at my throat for this recipe after seeing photos on social media. Maybe one day I’ll formalize this recipe, but maybe not. This is one that you throw together on a rainy day with ingredients that you’ve already got on hand. If you’ve got questions about the recipe, holler at me and hopefully I can help! xo




Sweet Potato Butternut Squash Pot Pit

Valentine’s weekend has come to and end (booooo) and the snowfall covered Denver in a powdery, white layer overnight. So, while it’s back-to-real-life and a joyous, relaxed weekend with my babe, the fresh snow makes this Monday morning a leisurely one. Luckily, I’m not in a rush to get anywhere today, I can relax on the couch and watch the snowfall out the windows.

A day like today prompts a craving for comfort food and warmth, comfort food such as a pot pie or a big bowl of soup, accompanied by hot chocolate, big blankets, and fuzzy socks. I’d like to pretend that today is a weekend day, a snow day, and have all of these things.

I made these Sweet Potato/Butternut Squash Pot Pies about a week ago, and haven’t had time to share the recipe on the blog until today. Today ends up being the most appropriate day to share, in my opinion because: snow. I got my inspiration for this recipe from a package of butternut squash ravioli. I was all like “butternut squash in a pot pie would be even more amazing than inside this little ravioli” ….and voila.

a {vegan} Sweet Potato Butternut Squash Pot Pie recipe
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into small cubes
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small cubes
  • 2 cups brussels sprouts, chopped
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1¼ cup vegan cream
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet, sauté the brussels sprouts, sweet potato cubes, and butternut squash cubes in coconut oil until fragrant, about 5 mins. Add seasonings and sauté for another minute or so.
  3. Add the cream, water, brown sugar, and flour. Turn heat to medium and allow to cook until the mixture has thickened.
  4. Make the pie crust (recipe listed below) and gently lay the crust over the pie baking dish(es)**, gently form the edges with your fingers. The crust should extend to the top of the baking dish.
  5. Add the filling to the dish(es) then cover with another layer of pie crust. Use your fingers to crimp the top layer of crust to the bottom layer. Poke a few holes in the crust with a fork or knife.
  6. Bake the pie(s) for about 20-25 minutes or until the crust has browned slightly.
  7. Let cool slightly before serving, the pies get hot!!
**You can make one large pot pie, or several small pot pies, it's your choice. I like to make my pot pies in 6' x 6' baking dishes.
pie crust
  • 1 heaping cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoon cold non-dairy butter
  • 3-6 tablespoons cold water
  1. Mix salt and flour together, then cut butter into the flour mixture with a fork or pastry cutter until well blended.
  2. Add enough water to allow the dough to scrape away from the bowl, usually about 3-5 tablespoons.
  3. Remove the mixture from the bowl, and mold together with your hands on a well-floured surface. Form into a 1-inch thick disc and then roll out in to a shape that will fit your baking dish(es), adding more flour if it's sticky.

 I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did, it’s mostly sweet from the sweet potatoes and butternut squash, with just enough savory from the brussels sprouts and rosemary. 

Also, it warms up well so make extra!!




Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and I haven’t even eaten any chocolate yet this week! Psh. I went out and purchased some (chocolate) candies and I plan to make something chocolatey this evening…. I’m just not sure what yet. 

I searched through the blogs archives and I found some pretty good stuff (pats self on back – just kidding) – chocolate + cherry, chocolate + peanut butter, chocolate + cinnamon whipped cream… I mean, seriously, YUM.

If you’re in the same boat as me (NEED chocolate, using Valentine’s Day as the justification), check out the vegan recipes below. 

Chocolate Cherry Sundae
Chocolate Cherry Sundae
Really, this is a smoothie, but it’s delectable enough to be called a sundae.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake
Chocolate Cupcake with Peanut Butter Frosting
Chocolate + peanut butter will please anyone. And if someone tells you they don’t like chocolate and peanut butter together, know that they are crazy.

Drk Chocolate Avocado Truffles
Dark Chocolate Avocado Truffles
These truffles are easy to make and happy to be one of my all-time favorite treats. They are rich, creamy, chocolatey, and secretly made with avocado!

vegan Chocolate Pudding with Cinnamon Whipped Cream
Chocolate Pudding with Cinnamon Whipped Cream
This recipe was inspired by an ice cream combination that was served to me at a farmers market, it was my favorite ice cream combination ever.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pie
Again, the undeniable perfect combination of chocolate + peanut butter, with the addition of bananas and an oreo crust. DO it, because it’s goooood… (and has avocado hidden in the recipe as well)

Happy Valentines Day, my friends!!




Valentines Day is one of my favorite Holidays because I love celebrating love. And this year, I’m in love. Like, LOVE, love. Like, it’s all I can think about love. Like, my heart flutters 24/7 love. 

I also love chocolate, and hearts, and cute DIY valentines, and baking, and the mini love-themed surprises that come with Valentines Day. I wish I could tell you what I’m doing for Valentines Day but my love reads my blog and I don’t want to spoil it.

I also love my blog, and food, and Pinterest, and all of the Valentines Day inspiration that keeps me excited for weeks, eager celebrate love. And I love you all. 

My enthusiasm for the holiday this year and my love for PLQ readers has sparked the desire to 


3 Vegan Dessert-Themed Books
to one lucky reader,
on Valentines Day.

The 3 books I’m giving away:

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World by Isa Chandra:
This book includes my all-time favorite cupcake recipes. Actually, all of Isa’s recipes are my favorites… she’s good.

Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats by Debbie Adler:
Debbie Adler has a popular vegan/gluten-free bakery in LA that draws in A-list celebrities. I’m dying to visit. Until that day, I’ll have to live vicariously through her recipes, and you can too! (if you’re the lucky winner!!)

Rawsome Vegan Baking by Emily von Euw: 
I haven’t had the opportunity to make any of the recipes out of this book, and it’s killing me. I want to keep the book but I’m giving it away to a lucky reader, because you deserve it! (don’t worry, I’ll be ordering another copy for myself!)

Vegan Book Giveaway

Enter To Win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck to all of you, and thank you for supporting peace. love. quinoa! 
ps. There ARE affiliate links in this post, however this post is sponsored by me, PLQ.




People who don’t know about Colorado think that Denver is a snowy, wintry mess and they snub it due to their lack of knowledge. Honestly, I didn’t know much about Denver’s awesome weather before I got here, and I almost don’t want to tell people about how awesome the weather is here because there are already too many people moving to this city! (LITERALLY, there aren’t even enough homes to house all the people that are moving here, it’s crazzzzy)

North Table Mountain

North Table Mountain

These photos were taken at North Table Mountain (which is about 20 mins from my new home) in January, the dead of winter.

Sure, the mountains get a lot of snow during the wintery months, but down here in the foothills we get very mild weather – a lot of 60’s and 70’s days, and on the day these photos were taken, 80’s. We were in tank tops and we were WARM.

North Table Mountain

The photo above shows the Denver skyline, from atop the mountain. 

North Table Mountain

North Table Mountain

You can see snow on this mountain, it sits on the side of the mountain that doesn’t get much sun. And sure, we get snow in Denver but it disappears within a day or two. It lasts just long enough to justify a “snow day” and hang out by the fireplace… then it’s back to the outdoors the following day.

North Table Mountain

My friend Samantha just moved to Colorado from Georgia. A she was planning her trip out here, her friends told her she needed an SUV, 4 wheel drive, and chains for her tires. It made me laugh, simply because many people really have no idea how good we have it here in Denver.

North Table Mountain

North Table Mountain

I’ve been sick the last two weeks (cold, flu, bronchitis, or a sinus infection – who knows) and I tend to avoid doctors and medicine. I just can’t bring myself to take a lot of medicine, so I don’t. Instead, I rest, drink lots of water, and allow myself some fresh mountain air. 

Although I felt much better after getting off the couch and becoming one with nature the day we took these photos, I am still waiting to kick this illness….

While many of my friends in the midwest figure out how to dig themselves out of the snow today, I’ll be out enjoying a Coloradical 65 degree, sunny day at the park with my doggie.

North Table Mountain




Peace Cafe O'ahu

Peace Cafe Oahu

Before we left for Honolulu, I made a list of vegetarian restaurants that I wanted to visit while we were there on the island. I only found 2 restaurants that I was dying to visit, Greens and Vines (the islands only raw/vegan restaurant), and the Peace Cafe. We never did make it to Greens and Vines but we LOVED the Peace Cafe, and we’re very happy we made the time to eat there, we did so on the same day we were hanging in Waikiki because of the close proximity.

When we were on the North Shore, a local told us to look up Beet Box, which is an all veg restaurant in the back of an organic grocery store – we went there twice because it was so damn good, probably our favorite restaurant on the island. 

Anyway, one of my favorite meals (there were so many, honestly) on the island came from the Peace Cafe. The Yogini plate (pictured below) was full of brown rice, beans, kale, seaweed, sprouts, and a yummy sauce. Patrick loved the food too, he has quickly become an advocate for vegan food (even though he knew nothing about eating veg before I met him) …it’s kind of adorable.

Two other restaurants we really liked: Sweet Home Waimanalo’s (a daytime cafe, serving light, healthy, organic, local foods and yummy, yummy smoothies) and Town (a great dinner spot, veg-friendly, locally-sourced, organic food).

I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of veg-food options on the island – we ate dammmmn good there!

Peace Cafe Honolulu

Peace Cafe Honolulu