Dec
13

Shredded Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad

The chill in the air has had me craving warm comfort foods and oh, how I have indulged. Rosemary potatoes and sauerkraut smothered in mustard, cornbread, cheese, crackers, wine, pierogies, gluten-free raspberry muffins slathered in butter, veggie burgers with french fries, tomato soup, and apple butternut crisp have all found their way in to my kitchen and my belly lately. 

As good as it’s been (YOLO), I could feel that it was time to reintroduce some greens in to my life so I bought some brussels sprouts and Lacinato kale. With the two, I crafted this salad that not only cures the craving for comfort foods but offers a burst of healthy, raw, organic greens.

I began this salad by combining shredded (finely chopped) kale and brussels sprouts which are softened with a creamy avocado dressing. Contrasting color is added with chopped carrots and cherry peppers, then I topped the salad with comfort: shredded parmesan and homemade garlicky croutons.

I don’t typically use veggies out of a jar but I did for this salad. Cherry peppers are not in season the same time of year as brussels sprouts, which makes it practically impossible to combine the two ingredients together unless using a preserved pepper. The preserved pepper is perfect for this salad, the slight pickling softens them and adds a subtle layer of sweetness. Plus, the pickling juices can be used in the dressing.

Shredded Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad

Shredded Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad
Author: 
 
Ingredients
Salad Ingredients
  • 1 lb Brussels Sprouts, ends trimmed and chopped to a fine shred
  • ¾ cup finely chopped or shredded carrots
  • 5 canned or pickled cherry peppers, finely chopped
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
Dressing Ingredients
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. cherry pepper juice
Crouton Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopper
  • 1 cup cubed baguette bread crumbs
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cracked black pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a small sauce pan, combine 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 Tbsp. butter, and the chopped garlic. Heat over medium heat until the butter is melted. Stir to combine then set aside and let the flavors infuse while you chop your bread.
  3. Cube the baguette bread, then put them in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with the seasoned olive oil and salt and pepper. Toss until the bread cubes are evenly saturated.
  4. Spread the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown.
  5. While the croutons are baking, make the salad dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients, stir until the dressing is a smooth consistency. It's ok if the dressing is thick.
  6. Toss your salad ingredients together in a large bowl.
  7. Toss the salad with the dressing and top with croutons just before serving.
Shredded Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad

Love

Crista


Jun
17

Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips

I attended Vida Vegan Con in Austin, TX two weekends ago, a conference for vegan-specific bloggers and related industries. When I first learned about VVC I knew I wanted to go but didn’t think I’d be able to make it happen so I brushed it off and forgot about it THEN my girlfriend & I both realized that we had some vacation time to use up prior to June 1 so we booked a girls trip to Austin which just so happened to coincide with the VVC dates. Luckily, I was able to snag a last-minute ticket to VVC.
(If you’re interested in checking out some photos from our trip, check them out on Instagram)

The conference was so much more than a “vegan bloggers conference.” It was a social gathering for like-minded people, it was friends to enjoy a few yummy meals with, it was entrepreneur-driven, entrepreneurs who were willing to share their successes. It was fun and emotional. 

Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips

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One of my favorite persons to listen to at the event was Jill from Vegan Cuts – she began her career as a travel blogger and now sells monthly vegan beauty & snack boxes via VeganCuts.com. Jill talked about creating a manifest journal, organizing your dreams, and planning your life journey accordingly. Although I have new ideas and plans for my life journey on a daily basis, I have never put those ideas into action – I am overwhelmed! …..which is how I know for a fact that journaling would help me. 

Jill also talked about the “competition” in social media and blogging these days, she encouraged us, her audience, to not even worry about the damn “competition”. Like, just do your thing without comparing yourself to others. Comparing myself to others is something that I struggle with on a daily basis, in my personal life and with blogging. I’m always worried about someone being prettier or skinnier or fitter than myself. I worry about the photos on my blog not looking as awesome as the photos on someone elses blog, and I worry about my recipes being not being uber-original and way different than the next persons. 

EVEN THOUGH. I didn’t start this blog to share “original” recipes. I started this blog to share yummy FOOD, travel adventures (that are typically food-driven), and to create a place for people, anyone to come and find inspiration to enhance their own foodie experiences, whether it be through cooking a yummy meal at home, dining out at a local restaurant, or finding the best food while traveling. 

I strayed away from my original intention because I felt like I had to compete with every other blogger on the internet. There are recipes I’ve so badly wanted to share on this blog but never did because they’ve been shared before. I’ve made awesome foods, photographed them, and never shared them because I felt like the photos weren’t good enough when compared to someone else’s. It’s a shame and it’s silly. 

So, screw that! I’m going back to my original intention. If there is a food item, recipe, or restaurant that I enjoy and think is worth sharing, then I’m going to share dammit! NO MATTER WHAT. ESPECIALLY now that I am taking the challenge on Jessica Murnane’s One Part Pledge – you should listen and take the pledge as well!

Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips

So, Kale Chips. Kale Chips are something I’ve wanted to make for the longest time but never did for whatever reason. Procrastination – the “Make Kale Chips” line on my never-ending to-do list must sit in between two more important things-to-do. My girlfriend, Laura kept telling me how good the homemade version is and how easy they are to make! After her convincing, I’d temporarily move them up on my to-do list but they’d quickly get replaced by some other “something”.

I don’t remember why I woke up one day in the recent past and decided that day was going to be the day that I finally made homemade kale chips. It may have been for a recipe, it may have been because I had an excess amount of kale on-hand. What I do know is that I ate every single kale chip as it came out of the oven. Warm, they melted in my mouth. Fresh, unlike any other bagged, grocery-store-bought kale chip I’ve ever eaten. I had intentions on saving a few chips for Patrick later that afternoon, but they didn’t last long enough. 

I’ve since then made three more batches of kale chips (and shared a few with Patrick). I burned a few of the fragile greens and created salty kale meltaways with the rest. Kale is fragile when put into a hot oven and can burn easily if unattended however, if you are available to pay close attention to your kale as it bakes, you should be able to get it out of the oven before it sizzles. I found that baking my kale between 9-13 minutes is ideal – timing may vary based on your particular oven (and altitude). 

When I browse through different kale chip recipes, I notice they recommend a variety of baking temps and timing. It is important to find what works for you and your oven, even if it is on a trial-and-error basis. The amount of salt, vinegar, and oil will vary on how big your batch of kale is, it will also vary based on your taste preference. Some of my kale chips were more drenched than others leaving them more chewy. The lesser drenched chips became more crispy, I liked them both. I encourage you to experiment with different variations and find what you like best. Don’t expect perfection the first go-around, but you can expect it shortly after. Also, I added vinegar to my kale chips because vinegar is awesome. If vinegar is not your thing, then don’t use it – continue on with the salt and oil exclusively OR add something else that you think would compliment the kale (SRIRACHA anyone?!).

Below is the recipe variation that has worked for me.

Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • approx 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
  • approx 3-4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • approx 4-5 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 1 gallon ziplock bag
Instructions
  1. Wash and completely dry the kale. I like to lay the kale flat on paper towels to air dry, which takes up to an hour or two sometimes. It is extremely important for the kale to be completely dry before baking - if not, it could get soggy instead of crispy.
  2. Once dried, cut the kale off the stems - try to cut them into larger pieces, as they will shrink in the oven. Discard the stems (or use them in a veggie broth)
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 310 degrees.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Put ⅓ of the oil, vinegar, and sea salt into the bag and shake it around the bag, coating it, then add ⅓ of the kale leaves. Shake the kale around until the leaves are covered in the mixture.
  6. Lay the leaves out on the baking sheet, making sure to not overlap any of the leaves.
  7. Bake for 9-15 minutes, checking them frequently.
  8. Use the same process for the second batch, and then the third.
  9. The kale chips are best when eaten the same day as you make them.

Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips

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Love

Crista


Mar
20

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
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. Toss all veggies in the macadamia nut pesto and top with coconut chips.
  2. Serve slightly chilled or at room temp.
Notes
*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

Love

Crista


Jan
07

Winter-y Berry Kale Smoothie

The first thing I do every winter-y morning when I wake up is look out the window to see if we got any snow, rain, sleet overnight – even if it’s not in the forecast. This morning I woke up to an unexpected layer of fresh powdery snow, just enough to conceal what is underneath it. It seems as though the mornings are brighter, and more vibrant when the sun has the opportunity to beam off of a fresh coating of flawless, glistening snow. Even though there was a chill in the air this morning, I was all smiles getting out of bed, and I’ll give credit to the beautiful outdoor elements.

I decided to make a smoothie his morning, which I haven’t done in quite a while – I’ll blame that on the holidays + travel. I was craving color, something vibrant but contrasting to the outdoor elements. Plus I was all “new year, new me” style this morning, slightly mocking those who only stick with that theme for a few weeks after the New Year.

I don’t think I’m unlike others this time of year, after the holiday season where I’m consciously saving money instead of spending money, therefore finding contentment with being home, staying home, and enjoying the things and people that make up my home. 

I found some leftover cranberries from Thanksgiving in my freezer, their jewel-toned beauty attracted me to them this morning. My friends would say “I was feeling it”. I blended them with some frozen berries, frozen bananas, and fresh kale that I had hanging around, and came up with a winning combination. 

Although, it was not my original intention to share this recipe on the blog, I couldn’t help but just play around with a few photographs in the snow quick to see what would happen. And now I’m sharing. 

a Winter-y Berry + Kale Smoothie
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup frozen berries (blackberries, cherries, strawberries, or a combo of the 3)
  • 1 banana, (optional: the banana can be frozen, which would have to be done in advance)
  • 2 stalks kale, fresh & de-stemmed
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon flaxseed or chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender and puree.
  2. Serve immediately.

Winter-y Berry + Kale Smoothie

Love

Crista


Apr
22

big vegan dinner

In an attempt to re-create an amazing meal I got at Wild Cow in Nashville, I made BBQ Seitan over a bed of Quinoa with Kale & Beans – now that’s some home cookin’ right there. I also made an attempt at Buffalo Tempeh (because that was also included in my meal from Wild Cow) but I failed. The tempeh was bland and the buffalo sauce I purchased was just… bad.

This entire meal was savory, filling, and plentiful, but most importantly EASY to make. Easy is always important, so is having leftovers. I don’t want to cook every night of the week.

For the BBQ Seitan, I combined Upton’s Ground Seitan with BBQ sauce and cooked it on the stovetop until it was hot. I served it over a bed of Quinoa that was made with vegetable broth.

The Kale was sautéed in a shallow amount of vegetable broth with garlic and olive oil.

For the Beans I used Northern Whites and added olive oil, fresh thyme, salt, and pepper. 

Check it, I got my BBQ fix. Yes.
And even though I didn’t get the Buffalo Tempeh quite right, my meal was just as good as the meal I had in Nashville…. from what I can remember.

Love

Crista


Apr
02

garlicky kale pasta

Not long ago, I found myself in the kitchen of a single bachelor vegan dude who doesn’t know how to cook and for some reason I took it upon myself to make an attempt at teaching him how to cook a meal. It was a little nerve-racking to decide what meal to make because I had no idea what he had in his pantry/refrigerator at the time.

We ended up making a this super simple (well, I think it’s super simple – he didn’t) pasta + kale dish. You should have seen him in the kitchen (GUYS!)…. unsure of what to do with the linguine noodles after they were finished cooking – it was hilarious. Anyway, we had a lot of fun making this tasty one-dish meal.

Making this meal taught me a big lesson: when you are teaching a man to cook, you have got to keep it simple. 

Garlicky Pasta with Kale, Tomato, & Thyme
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ pound linguine noodles, cooked al dente
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4-5 cups kale, de-stemmed
  • 1½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter
  • sea salt & pepper
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2-3 tablespoons Rawmesan (vegan parmesan substitute)
Instructions
  1. First, begin cooking the linguine noodles in a large pot.
  2. While the linguine noodles cook, heat the olive oil in a large, deep pan.
  3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the kale leaves and toss them with the garlic and oil.
  5. Toss the kale every 20-30 seconds for about 5 minutes and then add the fresh thyme and cherry tomatoes.
  6. Continue tossing the ingredients until the tomatoes are heated through, about 4-5 minutes.
  7. Season the mixture with salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast to taste.
  8. Before combining the kale mixture with the pasta, toss the past with the Earth Balance vegan butter.
  9. Serve warm, top with Rawmesan if you choose.
Notes
You can make this recipe gluten-free by using gluten-free noodles.

If you are adding Rawmesan to this recipe, you can use less salt.

 rawmesan

Love

Crista


Dec
16

a friend of mine mentioned that she purchased two bunches of kale for the first time and she wasn’t quite sure how to use it, so she came to me for some ideas. here you have it, 5 of my favorite kale recipes!

garlicky kale + white bean stewGalicky Kale + White Bean Stew

cream of kale & leek soupCream Of Leek & Kale Soup

Stewed Tomatoes Quinoa & KaleStewed Tomatoes with Kale & Quinoa

Favorite Kale SaladMy Favorite Kale Salad

colorful kale salad with jalapeñoColorful Kale Salad + Jalapeños

Love

Crista


Jul
25

A few locals in Nashville recommended we visit East Nashville while visiting and that is exactly where we found the Wild Cow vegetarian restaurant. When I pictured Nashville, I didn’t visualize a vegan-friendly city but the Wild Cow was bomb. I was so delighted to find a vegetarian restaurant in Nashville!!! 

Wild Cow

Wild Cow

Wild Cow
Crista’s #1 Rule when visiting a new restaurant: Check out dessert first.
Look at these picture-perfect mouth-watering cupcakes made by Khan’s Vegan Bakery.
Uhm, yum.

Wild Cow

Wild Cow

The best Kombucha I’ve had to date is that Buchi Water, which I was told is a “best seller” at Wild Cow. After googling around the internet, it looks like the “Water” flavor is fairly new (maybe 1 year old).  Interesting what Buchi has to say about this flavor on their website:

Cool and effortless, Buchi Water is the penultimate flavor in our elemental series. We blend our kombucha with coconut water, blueberry, watermelon and two powerful medicinals–bridging Eastern and Western folk traditions. Schizandra Berry is a Chinese adaptogen once available only to emperors. Elderberry is the “Elder of the Herbs” treasured by Native American and European cultures. The element of Water is the deep, universal essence of life, the endless flowing stream of experiences, and the sweet release of letting go…

Wild Cow
Check out my beautiful, blonde, non-vegan friend Laura, enjoying a tofu scramble and tempeh for the very first time in her life! She loved it.

Wild Cow
Ok, tofu scramble + the most galicky kale I’ve ever eaten = GENIUS.
The maple flavored tempeh we had was good too, but I’m not usually a fan of tempeh.

Wild Cow

Wild Cow

Quite possibly one of the most moist vegan cupcakes (besides my own) that I’ve ever had was this Banana Cream Cupcake with sprinkles on top. It literally melted in my mouth. 

Wild Cow

The Wild Cow
1896 Eastland Ave
Nashville, TN 37206
615.262.2717

 

Love

Crista


Jul
16

little buggy

I am so mad. I thought I had gotten rid of the bugs that are eating my kale until I went out to the garden today to check out the new kale leaves that have grown in and I FOUND BUGS EVERYWHERE. The little butterflies were going nuts as I looked underneath each kale leaf, finding cabbage worms EVERYWHERE!!! I even found a Japanese Beetle! I didn’t want to, but I killed them all. They oozed green juice. It sucked.

I’ve read that it’s a BAD SIGN to see butterflies hanging out around your garden, they are laying eggs. Sure enough, I found a bunch of eggs & droppings near the stalk of the kale, just like I did a few weeks ago.

I used the water hose to rinse away all of the droppings, picked off the little buggers & squished them, and then I sprayed a mixture of water & dish soap on the plants.

Some way or another, I will find a way to keep these little buggers off my kale without using pesticides.

cabbage worm
japanese beetle

Love

Crista


Jul
12

 This year has offered me a much different experience in gardening than it has in previous years. This year, my garden is much bigger than it has been the last two years. Also, I’m gardening out in the country this year – the last two years I was gardening in the city.

garden

In the city, I never had a challenge with bugs and/or rodents eating my plants. This year, something is eating my cute little strawberries before they can even ripen and cabbage worms are attacking my kale plants.

kale plant - cabbage worms

kale plant - worm eggs

After doing some research, I am guessing that cabbage worms are in fact what’s eating my kale. In the photo above, you can see little eggs that were laid (or are they droppings??). Thank goodness I found them, I was able to wash them away from the plant. 

kale plant

I read that if I sprinkle flour & cayenne pepper on to the kale plants, that the cabbage worms will die after eating the mixture. I figured it was worth a try. I have sprinkled my plants, and I am left hoping that they will recover.
(I LOVE kale!!)

Otherwise, the rest of the garden is doing ok… except for my cilantro and basil. They both have thick stems and are flowering. I’m not getting many leaves to use, which is weird because in previous years I’ve had more basil and cilantro than I knew what to do with. I’m not sure where I went wrong this year…. 

lettuce plant

mint plant

garden

tomato plant

tomato plant

pepper plant

Chris in I worked in the garden for several hours last weekend weeding & turning the soil in the garden.

You see, a hired landscaping crew maintains the grass that occupies the land on this property that is not farmed. While cutting the grass, the landscaping crew is throwing grass clippings in to the garden. I know that they do not do it on purpose, and it’s probably impossible to avoid. Problem is, the grass is growing in my garden!  The only real way to stop this grass from growing is to turn the soil, and we have to do it about once a week. It’s painful. And it takes a long time.

Painful or not, there is instant gratification that comes with gardening. Chris and I had a lot of fun watering our baby plants and removing the weeds. We are thankful for the beautiful lettuce, onions mint, herbs, peppers, and tomatoes that are growing healthy in our garden.

garden

Love

Crista