Category Archives: Vegetarian

Snacker Day Saturday: 6/23


These skewers are super capr-easy. And, they’ll use up produce from gardens I know that some of you are growing. Ripe cherry tomatoes literally burst with flavor while roasting in the oven, tofu sizzles, and fresh basil, well…freshens up the whole flavor. All of this gets dunked into a nice cool bath of seasoned balsamic vinegar.

I love any take on the traditional caprese salad. One of my favorite versions that I’ve had is at a little place called the Saxapahaw General Store in Saxapahaw, North Carolina. My parents came to visit me so I took them to the locally-supplied restaurant which is located in a converted gas station. Cool, right? My mom and I decided to do a sandwich swap and ordered a roasted vegetable sandwich and a Mozzarella Caprese sandwich. Although it’s been over a year, I can’t get the taste of the Mozzarella Caprese out of my mind. A freshly baked baguette, meaty slices of ripe tomatoes, delicate fresh leaves of basil, and thick chunks of mozzarella, all coated with a home-made balsamic vinaigrette. Yum.

The other day I was hunkered down in my basement fort, armed with my Hemingway text in one hand and a pen in the other. And I was trying to concentrate. I really was. But all that caught my attention was a view of this out the window:
Once I saw the clouds, I started worrying that the downpour that would surely ensue would blow all of my little cherry tomatoes away. I’ve been working hard on taking care of those little guys – I mean, I get a gym membership’s worth of strength training lugging two watering cans out to the plants each day. I set down Hemingway and ran upstairs to go collect all of my little tomatoes and I saved them all before the sky opened up.

Fast forward a few hours through a soldier falling in love with a nurse, me writing a blog post for the Chamber of Commerce, and working on applications for grad school. Lunch rolled around and my collection of tomatoes sat waiting for me in a little bowl on the counter. And then, inspiration hit: a summery lunch that would use all of my precious tomatoes and some of the basil leaves that have been winding wildly towards the screen window they sit by.

To make my cap-reasy salad skewers, all you need are some tiny cherry tomatoes (aren’t they the cutest?), a few cubes of tofu, some fresh basil, and some good balsamic vinegar for dipping. Pop ’em in the oven, pop ’em in your mouth. Bada-bing, bada-boom. These mini-skewers are as cute as the ingredients that top them. They’d be perfect as hors d’ oeuvres at a party, a fresh summer lunch, or as an appetizer at a barbeque. Or as a refreshing snack in the midst of a Snacker Day Saturday!

Moral of the story: I’m really, really glad I rescued my cherry tomatoes from the storm! Other moral of the story: waiting is challenging. I used all my cherry tomatoes on this lunch so I’m now going to sit outside by my tomato plants and beg and plead them to ripen faster so I can make more of these delicious skewers. Okay, don’t worry, I won’t really go talk to my plants, but I sure am excited for the next batch of them to ripen up!

Capr-easy Salad Skewers
*Note: I’m not including amounts in this recipe. I’ll let you know how to make the skewers, but feel free to make as many or as little as your heart desires (or however many your garden dictates)
Cherry tomatoes
Firm tofu
Garlic powder
Fresh basil leaves
Balsamic vinegar
Italian seasoning blend
How To
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Spray a cookie sheet lightly with cooking spray. Place washed cherry tomatoes onto the sheet.
3. Cut tofu into small blocks and dry them by pressing on them with a paper towel to extract excess moisture. Next, toss them in a little bit of garlic powder.

4. Put the seasoned tofu blocks onto the cookie sheet alongside the cherry tomatoes. Put the sheet in the oven. Bake for 10-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes have burst and the tofu is slightly firm on the outside.
5. Grab some toothpicks. Slide a tomato, a piece of tofu, and a fresh basil leaf onto each.
6. In a small bowl, mix balsamic vinegar with Italian seasoning. Add a drizzle of olive oil if you’d like.
7. Serve up a savory summertime snack that everyone will feel good about eating!

Now, for the reading portion of today’s snacker day: I suggest you read a book called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life  by Barbara Kingsolver. No, it’s not a ‘snack-sized’ read like most of the literature I try recommending on Saturdays, but this one is a great book to sit down and enjoy during summer. Barbara Kingsolver and her family grow their own food for a year and chronicle their experiences. If you’ve got a garden of your own, are looking to start one, or are simply interested in eating local, natural, real food, this is a book you’ll probably love. I really enjoyed it when I read it a couple years ago! It came to mind today while I was picking my food for lunch – it felt good that most of my meal came from the vine and landed on my plate mere minutes later. Hope you have a great Snacker Day Saturday!


Healthy Whole-Wheat Nectarine Bread


Quick! Run to the grocery store and buy a nectarine!  You’ll need it to make this.I’d love to share a slice of this with you from the loaf I just made but I’m afraid that’s not possible. Why? Because this bread is going, going…Gone.

I hope you’ve stopped reading this post for a second to run to the store to buy a nectarine. Or a whole bushel so you can make a loaf of this stuff every day. Trust me, you’ll want to. And you won’t feel a single morsel of guilt eating the whole loaf while you’re home alone for the day a few slices because this bread is super healthy. Whole-wheat  flour and sweet morsels of nectarine are united in this bread to create a bread that packs the heartiness of honest-to-goodness whole-wheat, and the delicate notes of fresh fruit. It’s the best of both worlds; filling yet delicate in the same bite.

I usually wouldn’t urge anyone to make a bread recipe. I mean seriously, bread?? I’m usually not the biggest fan of bread (unless it’s my grandma’s loaded, homemade, fresh-from-the-garden zucchini bread, or my other grandma’s decadent walnut-date bread – either of those I could easily eat in one sitting). But this bread that I made today is really, really good. I dunked a few slices into some vanilla yogurt and slathered some peanut butter on top of another chunk. This bread would be perfect as a wholesome breakfast when paired with some yogurt, a post-workout snack when matched with some protein-packed peanut butter and maybe a drizzle of honey, by itself as a snack, or warmed up for dessert and served with a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream. I guess you guys all know what my diet’s going to look like the next few days: this bread for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. But before I proceed to eat this for the rest of the week, I’ll have to make another loaf. Here’s the recipe so you can make one too!

Healthy Whole-Wheat Nectarine Bread
1 cup whole-wheat flour (I used Hodgson Mill’s Whole-Wheat Flour because they grind their wheat in a way that preserves all the good stuff)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 tablespoons milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 nectarine, chopped into small chunks
How To
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients (from flour to sugar). Stir the ingredients so that they are mixed well.
3. Add the ‘wet ingredients’ (from apple sauce to vanilla extract). Mix batter well.
4. Last, add the chopped up nectarine and gently fold the pieces in.
5. Spray a bread pan with cooking spray and then pour the batter into the pan. Bake the bread in the 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Stick a thin knife or a toothpick into the center of the bread to check if it is done. Then, gather your friends and family around and serve up a slice of goodness.
If you’re not too busy whippin’ this bread up yet, I’d just like to say that I apologize for the lack of book-related material on here lately. I haven’t been in the mood to write about books on here for the past couple weeks because I’m in the middle of research for school. Research=writing tons and TONS about books. I’m currently reading A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway which is plenty of book-action for me write now. I hope you caught that last pun. While I am sorry for not providing any book-insight lately, I’m glad to present you with recipes like this one. Hope you love it!

Snacker Day Saturday: 6/16


This snacker day is going to be a little different than usual. I’ve got a new drink recipe to share with you, but mostly I just want to spend a little time reviewing the smoothie recipes I’ve worked really hard to come up with all week. Also, I’ve got something to celebrate – read on to see why I’ve got a big smile plastered on my face right now.

First, I’ll go ahead and give up my recipe for the day. I’ve got no pictures to go with this (sorrryyyy), but trust me – this smoothie is so good that if you make it, you’ll guzzle it down before you even have a chance to look at it. Or realize it’s got 3 cups of spinach in it. What??

I got the idea for this smoothie from one of my favorite bloggers Angela, at Oh She Glows. She always raves about these “Green Monsters” that she drinks. There are SO many different variations that she makes that I was overwhelmed by options! And of course, when confronted with a recipe, I of course ran away from it and came up with my own concoction. It’s FULL of some of the best foods you can put into your body, tastes like dessert, and I drink it all up for breakfast. Is there any better way to start the day?

Lean Green Breakfast Machine
1 banana (frozen and sliced)
1 cup blueberries (frozen)
3 cups spinach
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Ice if needed
Sweetener if needed
How To
1. Blend it all up and soak up the goodness!!

I hope you enjoy trying that smoothie out this Saturday. There’s no better to start a weekend morning than by energizing yourself with healthy foods and feeling great about the way you start your day! I’ve been drinking variations of this smoothie for a week now for breakfast and am often tempted to repeat the smoothie for lunch and dinner. Buuuuuut, life might get a little boring if this was all I consumed, so here’s a quick recap of some other great cool-drink concoctions you can try for these hot summer days. And keep reading…the exciting snacker day news is on the way!

Tropical Dreamsicle Smoothies
Reminiscent of a classic orange creamsicle treat, these smoothies will have both kids and adults screaming for the dream.

Mock Mojito Slushies
Tantalizing and tart, these slushies will add some pep to your step and a burst of citrus to your tastebuds.
Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie
Seasonal strawberries star in this smoothie.

Sparkling Watermelon Lemonade on the Rocks
The title says it all!

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie
Tall, dark, and handsome? Try tall glass, rich dark chocolate, and a good lookin’ bunch of fresh cherries.

It’s been a fun week for me making all of these smoothies. I can say that I’m 100% hydrated after sippin’ on all of these drinks, and probably have had my fill of fruits for the week. Each drink has a unique flavor, and I really love the versatility that exists in this list.

Before I leave you to have a great weekend, I want to ANNOUNCE MY EXCITING NEWS! I’d just like to thank all of you who use Pinterest and have been pinning my Squash Chips. Remember these when I made them at the end of March?

Since I posted the recipe, I’ve had 37,489 views of the recipe. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected a little squash chip experiment in my apartment kitchen to reach so many people. That’s what I love about blogging – the ability to connect with people you might not otherwise have the chance to. So, in short, thank you readers!!!! You make blogging so much fun! I love hearing your ideas, suggestions, feedback, and encouragement. Hope you have a fantastic Snacker Day Saturday and a great rest of the weekend.

Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries


Or in our case, it’s a bowl of chocolate-covered cherries. In smoothie form. If the idea of plump cherries diving into a bowl of decadent chocolate isn’t enough to make you smile about life for a second, then you should probably just give up on this recipe now. But if you’re like me, and love the idea of a super secretly healthy treat appearing as a great big bowl of rich cherries and chocolate, then stick around.

This recipe is great used as a substitution for dessert, a really great sweet snack in the middle of the afternoon, or if you just want an excuse to eat chocolate covered cherries for breakfast. Whatever floats your boat! I enjoyed a huge bowl of this stuff after I came home really hungry from an event I went to. I topped my smoothie with a huge dollop of Greek Yogurt (what a shock, right?), and some sliced cherries. The blend of textures and flavors added great dimension to the smoothie. Finding the fresh cherries that began to sink into the melting mess of smoothie and yogurt was like scooping out the biggest cookie chunks in a pint of cookies ‘n cream ice cream. You know that feeling, right?

I highly recommend this as a decadent smoothie treat. It tastes heavier than some smoothies, but the ingredients are super healthy and light, meaning that this is definitely a guilt-free bowl of goodness. Feel free to sip the smoothie out of a glass like a normal person, but I’ll go right on ahead and eat this smoothie out of a bowl.

Here’s the recipe for this chocolate-covered cherry smoothie. I hope that life is as awesome as a bowl full of chocolate-covered cherries for you always!

Chocolate-covered Cherry Smoothie
(Makes 1 smoothie)
1 cup cherries, pitted and sliced in half
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Optional: 1 tablespoon (or more) sugar, or sugar substitute
How To
1. Combine everything in a blender. Blend it all up and pour into your favorite glass or bowl.
2. Have fun with toppings – add some fresh cherries to the top, a squirt of whipped cream, some yogurt, granola, or oats. Enjoy!!

I hope you’ve all been enjoying the drink recipes all week! To see a list of all the recipes with images, check out my new drinks page I created. Hope it helps you keep track of your favorites!

Sparkling Watermelon Lemonade on the Rocks


I’ll just let that sink in for a quick second.

Sparkling. Watermelon lemonade. On the rocks.

I’ve been guzzling tons of smoothies and fun drinks this week while experimenting and coming up with recipes for this special cold-drink concoction week and dare I say it? I think this is my favorite drink so far. I don’t know if it’s the fizz action, the playful splash of citrus, or the frozen chunks of watermelon left at the end, but this glass of sparkling watermelon lemonade was gone faster than you can say the name of the drink. So. Good.

It’s pretty obvious why this drink should be in your hand all summer long. Watermelons and lemonade – does it get any more summery than that? This drink is easy to make in mass quantities and is a far cry from the classic Country Time Lemonade mix we’re all prone to bust out every now and then. I’ve slurped down my fair share of the good ole’ Country Time stuff: my cousins and I used to have a lemonade stand every single summer. We’d plan for days what kind of lemonade to buy, what kind of candy we’d sell, and most importantly, who had the best handwriting to make our sign. Lemonade brings back some of the best memories of summer because my cousins and I grew so close over the years through our tradition.

Despite the fact that I love lemonade though, I’m not a huge fan of sickly sweet sugary drinks. I came up with the idea to try to let the sweetness of watermelon shine so that the end product tasted more natural than the lemonade most of us are used to. Also, I’ve become obsessed with freezing fruit this week (blame it on the green monsters I’ve been drinking each morning for breakfast) so I decided to freeze watermelon in an attempt to use them as ice cubes in this drink. Mission accomplished. I chopped the pieces of watermelon a little bit to get more of a slushie-style ice and then poured this delicious drink in over them.

 Sorry if all of the watermelons and lemons are gone in your grocery store – it was probably me popping in to buy up the entire stock so I can make this drink every second every day quite a bit this summer. Trust me, it’s like drinking summer sunshine out of a cup. Except it’s ice cold, bubbly, and the perfect note of sour.

Sparkling Watermelon Lemonade on the Rocks
(Makes one serving. Please make a  quadruple-billion-million-trillion batches.)
1 cup watermelon slices (divided)
1 cup Sprite zero (or Sprite, or some sort of organic, fizzy, lemon-lime beverage)
2 lemons
Optional: sugar (I LOVED it with no sugar added, but if you’d like a little summertime sweetness, be my guest)
How To
1. Freeze 1/2 cup watermelon overnight or for a couple of hours.
2. When the frozen watermelon is frozen, go ahead and chop it up to the size ice cube that you’d like. Set aside.
3. With the other 1/2 cup watermelon, put in a juicer (if you’re fancy enough to have one), or if you’re like me, just smash the watermelon up with a fork so that it’s really well broken up and smashed. Then, pour the watermelon juice into the cup that you’ll be using (if making a larger batch, go ahead and pour watermelon juice into a pitcher).
4. Cut lemons into quarters. Squeeze as much lemon juice as you can into the watermelon juice. Stir a little bit. Next, add the cup of Sprite to the glass you’re using. Last, add the frozen watermelon cubes. Stick a straw in it (or your face) and chug. Repeat often.

Strawberry Shortcake Smoothies


Strawberries always remind me of Alaska. When we lived in Anchorage, we had a small garden where we grew strawberries, chives, rhubarb, and raspberries. The strawberries that we grew were always the cutest. Their yellow seeds weren’t any bigger than an aphid, green stems as small as newly sprouted leaves, and the actual berries were as tiny as thimbles. We’d water them and watch the plants slowly unfurl under the seemingly endless sunlight that only an Alaskan summer can bring.

While we waited for berries  to ripen we occupied ourselves by swimming in a kiddie pool in our front yard, collecting daddy long leg spiders, and playing in our top secret fort in the backyard. We hiked out as a family to the same lake each year to canoe, swim, and stay in a little cabin on an island where we’d roast hot dogs over the fire and complain about the smelly outhouse. We’d gather the cul-de-sac kids and play baseball on our pavement diamond, hitting plastic baseballs into anyone and everyone’s yard without care. We attempted to hatch a ladybug nest in our kitchen one year and a praying mantis the next, never succeeding. We learned to fish, about harvesting and giving back to the earth, and about the abundance of the Alaskan wilderness. We did a lot while the berries ripened.

Alaska will always hold a special place in my heart. It was there that I was born, learned to hike like a billy-goat, developed my tolerance for the cold, started a habit of swimming in any body of water available to me, craved fresh produce, started loving the mountains and lakes and the trees, and the patience to wait for something small and seemingly insubstantial to grow so sweet. There’s nothing sweeter than eating a button-sized strawberry you grew yourself.

Since we didn’t harvest too many strawberries (thanks to two little kids and a host of woodland creatures who loved to snack on them), we usually just ate our strawberries plain. A delicious summertime treat that gleans sweetness from these plump red berries is one I’m sure you all know and love: strawberry shortcake.

I thought I’d try to bring a little bit of strawberry shortcake action into the world of smoothies with this recipe that I came up with today. I love the flavor of the berries in this smoothie, along with the texture that the oats bring. Best of all, it’s bursting with the taste of strawberries that always brings me back to Alaska. My mom tried this smoothie with me and she commented that it tasted like a smoothie version of a strawberry crumble. This smoothie would be a perfect, well-rounded breakfast, or a refreshing dessert that is healthy and wholesome to boot. It’s fun to serve parfait style (as pictured) or to blend all the ingredients up for a great mixture of flavors and textures. It would be an easy party dessert or brunch addition to make beforehand and store in the freezer.

Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie
Serves 1-2 people
For the “strawberries”:
4 oz. non-fat vanilla yogurt (or use vanilla Wholesoy or a different brand if vegan)
1/4 cup vanilla almond milk
1 cup frozen, chopped strawberries
Optional: sugar, if desired. I made mine without and it was great!
For the “shortcake”:
1/4 cup oats
A little more than 1/4 cup vanilla almond milk
Optional: Pinch of Cream of Tartar (I used it to make it taste a little more like shortcake, but if you don’t have it, don’t sweat it)
Sugar (again, add sugar to this mixture if you’d like. I enjoyed mine sans sugar.)
How To
1. The night before you want to make this (or eight hours before), mix oats and milk in a small tupperware or bowl. Store it in the fridge. If you’ve made overnight oats before, this is essentially the same thing. You want this mixture to be pretty thick so adjust oat and milk ratio as necessary.
2. Eight hours or a night after you make the oat mixture, get ready to make a great smoothie! In a blender, combine all components of the strawberry mixture. Add extra milk to this mixture if you need to in order to help it blend smoother.
3. At this point, choose whether you’d like to make parfaits, or just one big glass of strawberry shortcake goodness. If you’re making parfaits: spoon some of the oat mixture into the bottom of small glasses. Top with smoothie mixture. If you’d like to add a little extra flavor and nice presentation, top with a small dollop of vanilla yogurt and a strawberry slice. Sprinkle a few uncooked oats on top as well to add a little extra crunch.  If you’re making a smoothie: dump oats into blender and blend mixture until all is mixed well. Pour smoothie into a glass or two and dive into sweet summertime strawberry-filled bliss. If you’re making the smoothie, feel free to top it off with a little yogurt, some oats, and strawberry slices as well. Hope enjoy it enough to scoop every last morsel out of the parfait glass like I did – this photoshoot was hard to get through without sampling!

One of Ours


Ever read One of Ours?  It’s a book by Willa Cather that chronicles the life of Claude Wheeler, a Nebraskan who seems to have everything you could want in life living on his father’s farm but is constantly searching for meaning. He joins the army and fights in WWI. Through his journey to France and beyond, Claude ends up finding a purpose to his life in some way that satisfies him.

I just finished reading the book and I read it for several reasons. One of these reasons is that I love Willa Cather as an author. She depicts the land in all of her work so brilliantly, and captures the connection between man and nature in every sentence that she writes (I wrote a post a while back about this subject and Willa Cather a little while back if you’re interested). Another reason I read the book is because I’m doing a research project this summer comparing works of literature (and their commentary on the world wars) to an antique pictorial promoting peace. I know, it sounds complicated. To be honest, it’s complicated to me! I love the book One of Ours but it’s a tricky one to analyze, especially in terms of what it’s trying to say about war. I mean, when you’ve got an introduction dedicated to telling you about countless scholars that have tried to uncover the meaning of the book (and have failed), it doesn’t exactly scream ‘read me and figure me out’.

Whew. Sorry for whining. Long story short – read the book! You’ll love it. It’s a perfect book to read while sitting out under a grove of shady trees, or while you’re on a train across the country, or in a field of alfalfa, or even while you’re staring at the statue of liberty before you take a long boat ride across the pond. Okay, you don’t have to be any of those places – all of those are just locations that would make you feel closer to main character Claude while reading because those are situations he experiences. The book reads just fine if you’re lounging by the pool with fifty million kids screaming about lion coves and mermaids while their parents soak up the sun nearby. How do I know? I tried it. And Cather’s writing is so good that no matter what is happening around you, you’ll find your way into the story.

There’s one aspect of this book that I haven’t addressed yet. Can you guess what it is? Ah, yes…the subject that’s been on my mind lately: figuring out what Cather is trying to say about war in this prolific novel food. If I’m going to rack my brain for hours each day trying to come up with ways to integrate my reading of One of Ours into a comprehensive document comparing historical texts, then I’m definitely going to need good food to do it. And as you all know, making food that relates to what I’m reading is something I love doing.

So today for breakfast, I ate like Claude. Well, not exactly like Claude (I’m not sure if I could fit twelve eggs in my belly for breakfast) but I was inspired by a meal that he ate. After he had been on the front for a while, him and his friend David got a few weeks of leave before they had to return to combat again. They ventured to a couples’ home that they had stayed in before located in the French countryside. Beautiful, quaint, and blooming with local flora, fauna, and food, the town nourishes their bodies and souls during their weeks of leave. David and Claude arrive one night at the home dripping wet, dirty, and unshowered. Neither of them had been dry for four days and they’d been eating the canned food provided by the army for weeks. After showering and putting on dry clothes, Mme. Joubert prepares a twelve egg omelette stuffed with bacon and fried potatoes for the two men to eat. They consume every last morsel of the meal and then finally allow themselves to rest after the strenuous journey.

As soon as I read that passage, I knew I wanted to make some sort of egg-creation for myself to eat so I’d be full enough of good food to think about this text. I still had the mini-muffin tin from when I made Nuttin’ Butter than Cheesecake Bites so I decided to make mini omelette bites for myself. I substituted vegetarian breakfast sausage for bacon, and used 2 egg whites instead of 12 eggs and voila! my meal came together in no time. I hope you make this breakfast for yourself and then scurry along to a pool or a dock by the lake to kick back, relax, and read One of Ours for the fun of it (make sure you skip the introduction revealing how confusing the text is supposed to be).

Sausage, Egg & Potato Breakfast Bites
2 egg whites
1 vegetarian breakfast sausage patty
1 sliver potato
Salt and pepper (to taste)
How To
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cook the breakfast patty in the microwave according to package directions. Once cooked, cut the sausage up so that a chunk fits into the bottom of a mini-muffin tin compartment.
3. Spray muffin tin liberally with cooking oil and then put sausage patty chunks inside.
4. Crack eggwhites into a bowl. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Stir. Gently pour egg whites into each mini muffin tin containing sausage until they are all full. If there is leftover egg, put the egg in muffin tin compartments until you’ve used it all up.
5. Put the muffin tin in the oven. I baked mine for 12 minutes, but I like my eggs well done so if you want them softer, cook them for less time. While your eggs are in the oven, chop the sliver of potato into very thin slices. Cook the slivers in a skillet with a tiny dab of oil or butter. Cook until crispy.
6. Pull the muffin tin out of the oven when the bites are done, and top each bite with a couple slivers of potato. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper on top if desired. Serve and eat immediately.