Quinoa Bowl

Over the weekend, I took an impromptu trip to Austin with my BFF Laura, just for fun. We like to get away every few months and we both had some vacation time to blow so we decided to keep Austin weird for a few days. (photos from the trip on Instagram)

Quinoa Bowl

We had very little expectation for our trip: eat good food, shop, honky tonk, gossip, and sleep when we feel like it. Laura & I live hundreds of miles from each other so we have to travel in order to see each other. We don’t keep up much via text so when we see each other face-to-face, our mouths never stop yapping. It’s so good.

On this particular trip, our conversation was dominated by our ever-evolving relationships and what it will be like to take them to the next level. We both went from single girls to long-term relationships synonymously. History in the making, if you ask me.

We talked a lot about food, Laura and her BF focus on paleo and only eat meat once or twice a week. Patrick and I eat vegan when we are together, he eats meat when I’m not around (for now). We shared recipes and kitchen tips.

We talked about who cooks, who grocery shops, and how leftovers are handled. I’ll eat left-overs ONCE but that’s it before I’m over it – Laura is the same way. Ironically, our boyfriends will both eat leftovers for days and days on end. Seriously, I gave Patrick a large tupperware full of chili (that wasn’t my best work) and he ate it HAPPILY for 5-6 days straight. I’m thankful to have someone around who won’t allow a single bite of food go to waste because I will throw stuff away with no problem.

Quinoa Bowl

If you didn’t catch on by now, I’ll reiterate: I loathe eating the same meals over and over again. EXCEPT for. 
THIS meal: 
Sriracha Peanut Sauce

THIS meal is one that I HAPPILY ate 4 DAYS IN A ROW!
On the 4th day, I decided to photograph it.
On the 4th day, I didn’t scarf it before I had a chance to photograph it.

I originally had a version of this quinoa bowl at Ola Juice Bar in Colorado Springs. I loved it so much, I replicated it at home the next day. and the day after that. and the day after that. you know.

Once the quinoa is cooked (make extras for tomorrow! trust me), this bowl takes no time at all to throw together. Quick & easy makes EVERYONE happy.

After having been served some excellent Thai/Chinese (fusion) food in Grand Junction, I found a Peanut Sauce recipe on love food eat – I’d decided that I needed more Peanut Sauce in my life. I kept the recipe bookmarked, knowing I’d find the perfect time to use it. Not long after bookmarking, I used the recipe to make the exact Peanut Sauce that tops this delicious Quinoa Bowl, the only adjustment to the sauce was an addition of Sriracha, for fun. 

Quinoa Bowl

a Quinoa Bowl drizzled with a Sriracha Peanut Sauce
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • a handful or two of arugula
  • ½ an avocado
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha
  1. In a food processor or blender, combine the peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame seeds, and Sriracha until mixed well. Adjust taste accordingly (for example, add more Sriracha if you prefer your sauce to be spicier). Set aside.
  2. Put a large heaping of quinoa in a bowl and top it with the arugula, berries, and avocado.
  3. Drizzle with the Sriracha Peanut Sauce prior to serving.
*All measurements are approximate - adjust accordingly. You may like more avocado and less blueberries - do it up however you'd like.
**I prefer the quinoa to be slightly warmed in this dish, although it can certainly be used at room temperature or even chilled.

Quinoa Bowl

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As always, thanks for reading. xo




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.




Chimichurri Pumpkin Bowl

Tis the season for pumpkin EVERYTHING. Have you been to Trader Joe’s lately? They seriously have EVERYTHING pumpkin. I have to stay away from the place this time of year. Pumpkin cornbread mix, pumpkin cinnamon rolls, pumpkin pop tarts, pumpkin scones, pumpkin ravioli, pumping this, pumpkin that. Almost non of it vegan. Sigh.

For the first time last year, I learned to bake my pumpkins and gather my own puree versus purchasing pumpkin puree in a can. I’m stepping up my game in the kitchen. Watch out November, I’m hot.

I recently purchased a new cookbook, Isa Does It
It’s a book I’ve wanted for quite some time and I finally broke down and got it! I was stoked when I found a pumpkin recipe in the cookbook, it’s the first thing I made. I’m going to give you this Chimichurri Pumpkin Bowl/Plate recipe in this post but then you HAVE to buy this book for the other recipes. The Mushroom Hot Pot, the Baked Garlic Curry Fries, and the Jerk Sloppy Joes are among some of my favorite recipes. 

Isa does not know me (yet) but I’m hoping to introduce myself to her next month when I visit her brand new vegan restaurant in Omaha, called Modern Love. Uhm, she’s serving a dish of chili & cinnamon rolls at Modern Love (genius!). I guess that’s an “Omaha” thing (cinnamon rolls paired with chili, that is). I’m down. Sounds like it could be a “Crista” thing. Don’t be surprised when I dedicate an entire blog to chili and cinnamon rolls – pumpkin cinnamon rolls, duh.

Isa Does It

So anyway, about this pumpkin bowl (that I plated). I love that it has several different elements and flavors, all reminiscent of autumn. Instead of turning the pumpkin into some fancy baked good, it is baked and eaten as is (seriously, who does that?? it’s GOOD). Along with herbs (that I got out of the garden), the pumpkin seeds are used to make the chimichurri sauce and spread atop the entire dish. Soba noodles are recommended as the starch in this dish, but QUINOA could be used as well. Look, I love noodles AND I love quinoa – it’s a hard choice to make. (good luck to you)

Chimichurri Pumpkin Bowl
For the pumpkin and noodles:
  • 1 (3 pound) sugar pumpkin, sliced in half and seeded
  • 8 ounces soba noodles
For the chimichurri:
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ cup pepitas
  • 2 cups chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
For serving:
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup pepitas
Prepare the pumpkin & noodles:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease. Place the pumpkin halves, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes or until tender.
  2. In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain, place back in the pot, and set aside.
Prepare the chimichurri:
  1. Place the garlic in a blender or food processor and pulse to get it chopped up. Add the pepitas and pulse into fine crumbs.
  2. Add the rest of the chimichurri ingredients and puree.
To assemble:
  1. Toss the noodles with about ¼ of the chimichurri sauce and divide among bowls.
  2. Scoop cooked pumpkin into each bowl, and add some black beans.
  3. Top with the additional chimichurri and pepitas.

Chimichurri Pumpkin Plate




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.




Vegan Thanksgiving Feast

As promised, Thanksgiving came early this year.I spent the entire day yesterday crafting this all-vegan & gluten-free Thanksgiving meal, and I am thankful for the opportunity. I made so much food, most of which I couldn’t fit in my belly. But don’t worry, I’m eating leftovers for breakfast and I’m taking the leftovers to my family.

vegan Thanksgiving

You can see my original meal plan HERE, but I did alter it slightly (of course). Pictured above are these dishes: Brussels Sprouts Kale Salad with Pomegranate and a Creamy Avocado Dressing, Rosemary Garlic Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Kale, Braised Red Cabbage with Apple & Onion, Ruby Applesauce with Cranberries, and Quinoa, Pomegranate, and Persimmons Salad. A few of the recipes call for cheese, which I simply left out of the dishes to keep this meal 100% vegan. (I didn’t miss the cheese or dairy one bit)

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

This Sweet Potato dish with Rosemary was unlike anything I’ve ever had before. A little bit of rosemary goes a long way, I’ve learned. These potatoes were pleasingly fragrant.

Cranberry Apple Sauce

My favorite dish from the years feast was definitely the Apple Cranberry Sauce. Making it was fun and easy, it made the house smell delightful. The dish was equally sweet and tart, and sat nicely on the plate next to the other dishes. (plus, it’s so pretty to look at)

Cranberry ApplesauceVegan Thanksgiving

Oh, and the Kale + Brussels Sprout salad rocked my world – if you have not used raw Brussels Sprouts in a salad yet, DO IT. It adds a whole new dimension and texture, and it works well with kale, not sure I’d use it with lettuce or arugula (but you never know).

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

For dessert, I made these Mini No-bake Pumpkin Pies. In the photo above, you see them WITHOUT the Coconut Whipped Cream and  I know they look good without it but they are RIDICULOUS WITH it! I can’t even explain the amount of pleasure I endured with every bite….

Coconut Whip Cream

I’m up early this morning, I’m going to dive right in to leftovers then I’m headed to Indiana to spend time with my family for the weekend. Happy Thanksgiving meal planning everyone!! xox 




It’s that time of year again, my favorite time of the year, I get to plan my annual {vegan} Thanksgiving Feast that I’ll prepare on Black Friday for myself and anyone else who is interested in indulging. Every year I use different recipes that I find on vegan and/or vegan-friendly blogs instead of using my own recipes – it’s more fun and festive that way.

Last years feast included Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash, Cranberry, Pecan, & Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf, and Sugared Cranberries, it was delightful and I know it’ll be hard to top this year, but I’ve found some pretty decent recipes that I’m really excited about.

Vegan Thanksgiving Feast 

Annual Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

Ruby Applesauce with Cranberries
from gluten-free GODDESS

Nutty Quinoa & Cherry Salad
from JL Goes Vegan

Brussels Sprout Kale Salad with Pomegranate, Hazelnuts, and Creamy Avocado Dressing
from Good Things Grow

Braised Red Cabbage with Apple & Onion
from Martha Stewart

Rosemary & Garlic Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Kale
from One Part Plant

Sweet-Spicy Glazed Cocktail Balls
from Babble

Creamy No Bake Pumpkin Pie
from Minimalist Baker 


…….looks like I’m going to be busy……..

Here is my menu from 2012: Thanksgiving Recipes
And the photos of that feast: Food Porn: Thanksgiving Feast




Jalapeno Kale Salad
Last week I got to visit my family in Indiana. The initial reason for my trip was to visit my grandpa was in town for the week (with his new girlfriend!) But I also got some quality time (shopping) with my mom. It was fun to visit and catch up and spend some time running around the house (and watching Mickey Mouse) with my 2 year old niece, Claire.

Colorful Kale Salad w/ Jalapeños // peace. love. quinoa

My mom makes a salad at least once a day whether it be for dinner or packed in her lunch. Whenever I visit, she seems to have various salad ingredients on-hand and can always whip up a quick meal. Together, we put together this salad using a few ingredients that she had and a few ingredients that I had packed. In a previous post, I mentioned that we’ve got hundreds of cherry tomatoes in the garden, so I picked a bagful (my mom LOVES tomatoes!) and took them with me, along with some jalapeños and a cucumber.

Jalapeno Kale Salad

In this salad, we used a baby a kale & greens mix, avocado, cherry tomatoes, carrots, butter beans, dried cherries, and jalapeños. I would have NEVER thought about slicing up a jalapeño and adding it to a salad had my grandpa’s new girlfriend not suggested it. My family was brave enough to try the salad only because they did not know what our secret ingredient was.

Jalapeno Kale Salad

Often times, I see people pick jalapeños out of our garden and just take a bite – it seems as though the peppers aren’t as spicy/hot when grown in a home garden. If anything, they pack flavor and that’s exactly what they did for the salad. You can see in the photos, I chose to slice the peppers very thing, long-ways but I think I would enjoy them chopped as well. 

Would you be brave enough to add jalapeños to your salad?




Jazzing up a box of cornbread mix is quite easy, I do it all the time.
I’ve never made cornbread from scratch, I always use a box mix.
My favorite box mix is from Trader Joes.
Actually, that’s the ONLY Cornbread Mix I like and it’s the only one I’ll buy. 

sweet jalapeño cornbread

I like to add finely chopped jalapeño to my cornbread mix to spice it up, they won’t add heat, just flavor.

Prior to baking, sprinkle some raw turbinado sugar on top of the cornbread, this adds a sweet crunchy texture.
Serve this cornbread with {vegan} butter and honey (even though it’s already sweet enough).

sweet jalapeño cornbread




vegan black eyed peas
When we decided to make Fried Green Tomatoes, we decided to make an entire
Southern Comfort Meal.
On menu: Fried Green Tomatoes, Black-Eyed Peas, Jalapeño Cornbread, and Sweet Tea

vegan black eyed peas

{vegan} Black-Eyed Peas
  • 7 oz black-eyed peas
  • 2½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion (or 2 small onions), finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stem (discard stem)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  1. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the black-eyed peas, cover, and reduce the heat.
  2. Sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes then add the tomato and celery. Sautee for another 5-7 minutes.
  3. Pour the onions, garlic, celery, an tomatoes in to the black-eyed peas.
  4. Add the bay leaves, cumin, cinnamon, and fresh thyme to the mixture. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the black-eyed peas are fully cooked.
  5. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  6. Remove the bay leaves before serving.

vegan black eyed peas




We have sooooooo many tomato plants this year, seven to be exact.
(Hey! That’s a lot of tomatoes!)
Despite a little scare with a hornworm on one of the plants, every single one of our tomato plants is healthy and producing. Our cherry tomato plant has at least 50-75 tomatoes on it, no joke! 

green tomatoes

green tomatoes

green tomatoes

green tomatoes

green tomatoes

green tomatoes

I found another hornworm yesterday, but I didn’t get my panties in a bunch this time. I pulled him right off and squished him before he had time to do much damage. Wanna know how I knew he was there? I saw a moth fluttering away from the tomato plant as I approached – dead giveaway. 

tomato hornworm

I am in LOVE with Fried Green Tomatoes,
(The Southern & Whiskey Kitchen hooked me with their Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches)
but never knew they were so easy to make.
I guess the trickiest part is finding the green tomato? Grocery stores & markets sell ripe, red tomatoes not greens.

fried green tomatoes
 Fried Green Tomatoes make for the perfect side-dish to any southern comfort-type meal OR you could use them in a sandwich. We made a meal out of these Fried Green Tomatoes, Black-Eyed Peas, Jalapeno Cornbread, and some Sweet Tea. Yum. 

fried green tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes
  • 2 green tomatoes, cut in to ⅛-inch slices (we used an heirloom tomato)
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ¼ cup raw turbinado sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons regular unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • vegan butter (Earth Balance) for frying
  • dijon mustard (optional)
  1. In a shallow, wide dish, whisk together the almond milk & lemon juice. Set aside.
  2. In another shallow, wide dish, combine cornmeal, sugar, black pepper, and seasoned salt.
  3. Dip the tomatoes in to flour, then the milk mixture, and finally the cornmeal mixture; turning to coat each side.
  4. Melt vegan butter in a frying pan over medium heat. In a single layer, put the breaded tomato slices in the pan and fry until golden brown; turning to cook each side.

 Serve with dijon mustard or ​a chutney.
fried green tomatoes