Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

Reflect, Renew, Revive – Part III

Revelation #3: Hypocrisy 

I am a hypocrite. I spend 6 hours a day encouraging children to face challenges, take risks, persevere through struggles… oh and most importantly keep a smile on their face and positive attitude while they do it. Anyone who has any recollection of how difficult and disheartening it was to learn how to read or to conquer the ridiculously inane rules of the English language can sympathize with my first graders. Add to these uphill battles the weight of developmental differences and you now have the kid struggling to remember what letter makes what sound sitting across the table from the kid writing a captivating ten page realistic fiction story. Every day mantras such as “Mistakes are proof that you are trying” and “Each person’s “best” is different” and “With practice comes progress” are lovingly and honestly bestowed upon my students. And yet, I will avoid writing a post because I don’t have a riveting story to tell or will make the choice not to share a recipe because I couldn’t capture a single photograph that met my self-imposed blog-worthy criteria. I will likely never be the kind of blogger who earns a profit, offers cool giveaways, and is sent complimentary items from major brands. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t hone my culinary skills, refine my writing, and learn how to capture a breathtaking photograph. It is time to practice what I preach, put my ego aside, and compromise with perfection.

Recipe #3: Spicy Smoked Maple Tofu


Not long after my ode to breakfast post, I dedicated a subsequent post to lunches. In particular, the obstacles that get in my way of eating (and enjoying!) “exciting”, healthful  lunches while at school. In that post I featured a recipe for a Tofu-Edamame Salad that was my obsession at the time. I am back to the reality of lunchtime as a first grade teacher, but haven’t ventured far from my favorite summertime lunch. My newest “go to” lunch is Spicy Smoked Maple Tofu bites. The maple syrup and rice vinegar create an irresistible flavor combination while the nutritional profile of the tofu satisfies my mid-day meal needs. I like to take a few of these delectable little nuggets along with some bite-size raw veggies and rice crackers for a well-balanced meal that satisfies my hunger along with my “no utensil” clause.

The recipe can be found at Edible Perspective. Even more impressive than the tofu is the photography on this site! Prepare for mouth-watering.


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Reflect, Renew, Revive – Part II

Revelation #2: Me, Me, Me

As much as I value my blogging audience (see previous post), this blog was really supposed to be for me. As terribly selfish as that sounds, I do believe that in order to take care of others you must take care of yourself. After all, the foundation that this blog is built upon (a belief in the power of healthful actions) is essentially one of self-service. Fuel yourself with wholesome foods, make time for yourself to exercise, etc. Of course, the energy and positivity that result from these actions will inevitably have a ripple effect on your social interactions and relationships thus benefiting others as well. Although it may not always be “all about you” it does “start with you.” The notion of putting myself first is one that I, like many, struggle with. In particular, I have a difficult time putting my professional life behind my personal life. Though it does not always come easily or without times when I falter, I do make a conscious effort to put my husband, my family, and my health first. What continues to get pushed farther behind are hobbies and interests. Particularly those that do not serve a clear and immediate purpose. As desperately as I want to unpack the mountain of boxes still living in our attic since our September move, I simply can’t justify giving up a weekend day when I could be planning lessons, reading up on behavioral/academic interventions, reviewing assessment data, etc. Sadly, same goes for blogging. Right this moment I am having heart palpitations sitting here writing this post as I  keep thinking about the list of “more important” things I need to be doing. To be honest, the only reason I am even writing this post is because I was given the gift of an unexpected snow day so essentially I am using up “bonus” time in my day. Blogging was supposed to be an exercise in loosening my grip on the control reigns of my professional life and putting myself first. Thus far, I have not been successful in this challenge. If anything it has only made my inability to “loosen up” even more glaringly obvious. But, being aware is the first step in making progress and I hope that in recommitting myself I will begin to make strides in the right direction (right after I go run a few miles, e-mail a bunch of parents, join a few more committees, stay at school till 7pm, and make it home just in time to put a warm, nutritious meal on the table).

Recipe #2: Cinnamon Bun Granola


So I may not have totally crawled out of the yogurt for breakfast rut. It still sneaks its way into my lunchbox at least 2 days a week. But, with this granola peering at me from the cabinet I really can’t be blamed. I am a lover of all things cereal (an ode to cereal post may be in my future) and find it a suitable meal/snack for any and every time of day. I’ve read and heard it all about sugar-laced granolas, but had struggled to find a satisfactory homemade alternative to the store-bought varieties. That is until I stumbled upon this recipe from Kath Eats Real Food. The secret ingredient: buckwheat groats! Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better this gem of recipe appeared on Oh She Glows. I have made sure to have this granola in stock at all times since I first indulged back in October. Sure, it still has its share of sugar (coming in the form of unrefined sources such as real maple syrup and dates), but a little touch of sweetness in the morning isn’t always a terrible thing. Complimented by the crunch of the buckwheat groats it is perfection. Be sure to have your have your quarter cup measurer on hand and divvy up the goodness in advance because this granola is totally addictive! I recommend enjoying the granola while sipping coffee and browsing Kath Eats Real Food and Oh She Glows. They are two of my favorite blogs… both creative and inspirational. The type of people you tell your husband stories about to which he responds “Wait, do you know this person or is this one of those bloggers you stalk?”

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Reflect, Renew, Revive – Part I

Right before the new year WordPress e-mailed me my annual report for Martha Stoever. They politely applauded me on my blogging successes in 2012 toting my 19 posts as “not bad  for the first year!” Their electronically generated canned comments, though a well-intentioned virtual pat on the back, did little for sugar coating the actual statistics listed in the report. I had just shy of 4,000 views in total for the year (the average food blogger get thousands each month), I have a mere 26 followers and my top commenters were my mom and my aunts. I turned to my Facebook page in hopes of some encouraging news there, but it did little to soften the blow as the stats box there showed a lowly 33 likes. No wonder my blogging hiatus since September had not raised any red flags!

These reports only confirmed what I had assumed all along. My blog is the equivalent of a shy, awkward middle schooler. Not so pitiful that it elicited taunting comments, but meek enough to slide under the radar unnoticed. I may still secretly harbor hopes of a “She’s All That”-esque transformation in which the hidden beauty of my passions will slowly be unveiled and will suddenly captivate a mass audience. But, in the few weeks that I have had since my less than stellar report card was received I have had the opportunity to reflect, renew, and revive my original intents for starting this blog. Yes, I know this whole notion of reevaluating is totally cliche for this time of year and would likely seem far more organic had it come in say September. But, better late than never.

Three revelations came about in my reflections. In an effort to prove that I do learn from my mistakes, I will share them in separate posts. I am the first to admit that I skip directly over lengthy posts in search of “the good stuff” (a.k.a. the recipe). I will conclude each post with a recipe that I have been loving lately. The recipes are not my own and I will simply link to the pages of the bloggers who are owed all of the credit for them. I only have a single picture of each taken with my phone as I am battling technical difficulties with my camera at the moment. But despite the lack of fanfare I promise they are winners.

And now without further ado…

Revelation #1: The Voice

This blog was originally intended to be an extension of my passion for a healthful lifestyle. In particular, my love of cooking, my prideful grocery shopping and meal planning habits, and unhealthy obsession with recipe “researching.” I find a great deal of pleasure in these quirky interests and believe strongly in the benefits of mindful eating and fueling your mind and body with wholesome, natural foods. I thought that through sharing my thoughts and experiences with a larger audience it would spawn even deeper levels of excitement and satisfaction. And it did. I need to bear in mind that whether that audience is a core fan base comprised of only my incredibly supportive family members or a vast following of strangers spread across the world only if I put my voice out there will my voice will continue to be heard.

Recipe #1: Banana Bread Quinoa Flake Bake 

quinoa bake

Last year I dedicated an entire post to breakfasts. Specifically, my efforts to diversify my early morning meals. Well I am pleased to report that even once the school year commenced I continued to get creative and not fall back into the yogurt rut. Sadly, one of my favorite recipe findings is a warm meal that requires immediate consumption so it must be reserved as a weekend treat. I’m not positive if it’s the “hard to get” nature or if it really is just that satisfying, but this Banana Bread Quinoa Flake Bake has been brightening up my Sunday mornings for the past few months now.

Head on over to Natural Noshing for this recipe (and leave some extra time for browsing her other natural, gluten/refined sugar free recipes!)


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*Disclaimer* This post along with my previous one are intended to be celebrations of summer vacation. By no means am I complaining about my “real life” the other 10 months out of the year…. I am simply stating the facts. I LOVE my job and wouldn’t trade it for the world. And for that I am most grateful. Now on to more important things like this ridiculously tasty salad.     

I know I promised not to harp on the many reasons why I love summer vacation… but I’m recanting on my promise (tsk, tsk) because there is one more thing that I have been relishing extra this summer. Lunch…. that crucial mid-day elixir that gets us through the work day. “But… you’re not working. So why is lunch so remarkable these days?” you may ask. Let me explain…

Unlike my qualms with a typical breakfast spread I am actually quite fond of traditional lunchtime foods. Salads, soups, sandwiches, spreads… now those are my kinda foods. Rather my lunchtime woes are once again rooted in the circumstances surrounding my meals on a typical school day:

  1. Timing – Hungry or not here it comes! My lunchtime coincides with that of my students so it is reliably from 11:25 a.m.-12:20 p.m. (this is a very loose interpretation… see below). Therefore, I eat when the clock tells me to rather than when my body says it’s time. Sure, I could dig into my lunchbox at 1:30 if I wanted to (I am the teacher after all!) but I would have to brace myself for a 6 year old inquisition. What are you eating? … That looks/smells funny!… Ewww! I hate that!… I’m hungry too. I want a snack. Hence, I choose Option 1.
  2. Lunch “Break?” – By the time I walk my kids to the cafeteria and use my super teacher powers to squelch the inevitable tears over lost lunch cards/seating arrangement gripes/what mom packed in Johnny’s lunchbox it is 11:35 a.m. By the time I go to the office and check my physical mailbox followed by getting back to my classroom to check my virtual mailbox it is 11:45 a.m. By the time I respond to said mail (and voicemails and handwritten notes) it is 12:00 p.m. By the time I set up the excessive amount of materials required for our hands-on math workshop it is 12:15 p.m. and time to sprint to the bathroom (even my bathroom breaks are time restricted… not even nature trumps the rigidity of a teacher’s schedule) and make it back to the front doors just in time to greet the rosy-cheeked children coming in from recess. The aforementioned schedule is actually the description of a highly desired “free” lunch period. On the other days I’m committed to meetings with my colleagues/administration/parents which means all those other tasks get nixed and/or completed in a condensed tornado like fashion. So there is no actual “lunch time”. Consuming my meal is entwined in all of my other mid-day duties… it is multi-tasking at its best.
  3. Menu – As I mentioned above I have a propensity for most foods deemed lunch worthy. The complicating matter is not what I want to eat, but rather what I can eat at school. Anything that needs to be eaten warm is out of the question because of the precious time that it would take to walk to the teachers’ lounge (which is on the other side of the building), stand in front of the microwave (which I avoid at all costs to begin with), and then walk back to my classroom. Meals that require more than one utensil are also off the acceptable foods list because they entail actually sitting down and using both hands which does not bode well with my multi-tasking ways. Garlic, ginger, parmesan cheese… not in my lunch! Why? Because have you ever walked into someone’s office after they devoured an over-stuffed tuna sandwich?! Yea… we all have and we all remember it because it’s scarring. Hence why foods with pungent smells are off the menu as well. I’d like for my students not to forever associate me with an undesirable aroma (plus there is also no better way to lose the focus of a 6 year old then to invade their nostrils with a “stinky” smell). Lastly, given the skyrocketing percentage of young children with food allergies I have inevitably had a child with nut allergies in my class every year. This means no nuts or nut products in the classroom for risk of cross-contamination. So much for that un-picky palate.

But in the mystical land of summer vacation there are no time restraints, meetings, tasks to tend to, or children to care for. Lunch = eating whatever I want whenever I want.  And I love it. This summer I’ve eaten hot meals, meals with stinky cheeses and nuts galore, meals that I prepared minutes (rather than hours) before consuming, and meals that required sitting and actually chewing. I’ve experimented with new recipes that are school-friendly and those that will have to be reserved for summers, holidays,and snow days (we’ll broach the topic of these little gems come winter!) Come 11:25 a.m. on September 5th nostalgia may be tugging on the hems of my first day of school clothes, but come 12:20 p.m. when I get my first “I missed you at lunch!” hug it will all be worth it!

This salad has been one of my favorite creations of the summer. It’s cool and crisp and the sweet agave and rice vinegar, savory soy sauce, and rich sesame oil meld together perfectly. The combination of tofu, edamame, sunflower seeds, brown rice, and colorful veggies will satisfy your taste buds as well as all of your nutritional needs (protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals… it’s got it all!) And with the school year just around the corner the fact that it can be made the night before and eaten cold with just one utensil makes it a winner!

Tofu-Edamame Salad

Serves 1



  • 3 oz. baked tofu (I bake a whole block of tofu at a time using this recipe http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/easy-baked-tofu and use it in different dishes throughout the week)
  • 1/4 cup cooked edamame
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice (I have also used quinoa in this recipe with equally as good results)
  • 1/4 cup chopped red pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot
  • 2 TBSP chopped scallions
  • 1TBSP roasted sunflower seeds


  • 1tsp agave nectar (or honey)
  • 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1tsp natural rice vinegar


  1. Combine salad ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Drizzle dressing over the salad and toss to coat.
  4. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for lunch on the go.

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One of my favorite things about where we live is that on Sundays an incredible farmers’ market is held just five minutes away. I’ve already detailed the reasons behind my love for farmers’ markets and eating local so I won’t be redundant, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say that there is an undeniable air of magic at the market during the height of the summer harvest. The tables at each booth, with the bold colors of the abounding produce, rival a painter’s palate. The menagerie of items available at this time of year is unparalleled… ranging from classic favorites (peaches and tomatoes) to lesser known gems (zucchini blossoms and Romanesco cauliflowers). While I love to “window shop” at the market and could spend hours ogling the seasonal bounty, I always have my list in hand and rarely deviate from it. Here comes my the part where I make my (embarrassingly pathetic) public confession… I am a compulsive menu planner and spend my Saturday evenings pouring through my recipe archives and perusing my favorite websites until I have all of our meals planned for the week (and I like it!). So impulse purchases simply do not fit into my neatly organized (OCD driven) plans.

But this week my routine was thrown for a loop that came in the form of a weekend wedding in NYC. Because I spent my Saturday night socializing in my favorite little black dress and sipping on adult beverages (as opposed to sitting alone on the couch in my pajamas and snacking on cereal) I arrived at the market list-less. In addition, Nick and I spent a pretty penny to stay the night at the swanky venue (NYC’s Mandarin Hotel) so we vowed to enjoy every last second of it. This meant leaving the city at noon and arriving at the tail end of the market when the pickings are slim.

I made a beeline for my favorite booth in hopes of at least being able to snag some of our weekly staples. In doing so, I stumbled upon an oversized barrel of beets which sparked memories of a very tasty beet and potato salad that I enjoyed while in Italy last month. I’m pretty sure I was beginning to salivate when my daydream was interrupted by the voice of fellow market-goer. “If you marinate those in some balsamic vinegar and then grill them they are really great!” Hmmm… roasted? Yes. Boiled? Yes. But grilled? “I’ve never made them that way… sounds delicious!” I replied. I had already started to shovel the beets into my bag… I was in a time crunch and I could ponder the desired cooking method at a later time. But, my foodie friend was just warming up. He emphatically gestured towards a basket of fresh garlic. “The beets really are delicious, but this is the BEST when grilled! It’ll melt in your mouth and has none of the usual overwhelming pungency!” He continued his endorsement with instructions for prepping and grilling, but I had zoned out because he had already sold me. It had little to do with what he said and a lot to do with how he said it. The giddy fervor in his voice was likably familiar. I realized it echoed the tone of my own voice when speaking about a culinary discovery and it was infectious! Our conversation was rushed along by the bellowing voice of the farmer… “Closing time! Buck a bunch! Buck a basket!” (a perk of going to the market late!) I had no clue what I was going to do with this garlic but I had caved to the impulse buy.

“Was that guy talking to you at the market weird?” Nick innocently inquired when we got home. I couldn’t help but grin at the thought of the same sentiment crossing the mind of others… but in response to my most recent recipe rant. “Nope… just passionate about his produce!” I defended.

The garlic taunted me from our countertop for the remainder of the day. This perfect specimen of fresh produce without a matching recipe was challenging my creativity. Fortunately, I found my inspiration the next day in the dips/spreads section while finishing my shopping at Whole Foods. Roasted garlic hummus! Yes, I would combine the lonely garlic with my newfound love of freshly cooked chickpeas.

And so this morning I prepped my garlic for its glorious fate. I gave it a quick trim, moisturized it with a drizzle of olive oil, dressed it in the shiniest of foil, and delicately placed it on the grill grates. My only regret was that no one else was home to savor the hypnotic aroma that permeated the air as the barbecue worked its magic. An hour later and it revealed itself to be everything that had been promised…. mellow, creamy, and totally dream worthy. I toyed with the idea of spreading this buttery, nutty deliciousness on every cracker/slice of bread I could find, but resisted in order to preserve my original plan (and my breath). And so I wed the garlic to my go-to hummus recipe and the marriage was a blissful one. The garlic was subtle enough to preserve the integrity of the hummus, yet flavorful enough to lend some welcome spice to the original. I celebrated this perfect union along with some crudités all through lunch.

I would love to end this post with a lesson learned and statement of intent to head to the  farmers’ market without a list more often… but who am I kidding?! Apologies in advance to my new friend from the market… but unless you want to make a permanent Saturday night reservation for meal planning time at Casa de Martha you likely won’t be foodie-talking me into more impulse buys any time soon!

Grill-Roasted Garlic 


  • 1 bulb of fresh garlic
  • olive oil


  1. Preheat grill to medium and adjust for indirect heat.
  2. Cut off the top 1/2 inch of the bulb to expose the tops of the individual cloves. Remove any loose, papery outer layers.
  3. Place the bulb with the cut side up on a square of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Bring up opposite edges of the foil and seal with a double fold. Fold the remaining edges together to completely enclose garlic. Leave a bit of space for steam to build.
  5. Place garlic on the grill over the unlit side.
  6. Grill, covered, for 45 minutes to an hour or until the garlic feels soft when squeezed.
  7. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Roasted Garlic Hummus


  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas (I used freshly cooked chickpeas, but canned works as well)
  • 2 TBSP tahini
  • 1 head of roasted garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 TBSP reserved chickpea cooking liquid/liquid from can/water
  • 1 TBSP olive oil


  1. Place the chickpeas, tahini, cumin, and salt in the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Squeeze the cloves of garlic from their skin into the bowl along with the chickpea mixture.
  3. Process until the mixture is finely ground. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. With the processor running, pour the lemon juice and cooking liquid/water through the feeder tube in a steady stream.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and process for an additional minute.
  6. With the processor running, pour the olive oil through the feeder tube in a steady stream.
  7. Scrape down the bowl and continue to process until the hummus is smooth.
  8. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator covered for up to a week.

Note: I prefer my hummus on the thicker side. For a creamier texture add more water or olive oil until the hummus has reached your desired consistency.


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The perks to having summers off are endless, but in fear of igniting a firestorm of comments  about how teachers are overpaid and underworked (the local media forums seem to be handling that just fine on their own) I’ll avoid the laundry list of reasons why I love summer vacation. I’ll even spare you year round workers from having to quell the green monster that would emerge after reading a “top 10” list and rather I’ll simply highlight my top two. Narrowing it down to just two was easy as these are the two things that I count down the days till in June and nostalgically pine for come September. The two things that spawn a snow day dance just so I can have a taste of them in the midst of the winter blues. The two things my husband makes snide remarks about on a daily basis because my pleasure in them is laughably palpable. So without further ado here are the top two perks of summer vacation according to Ms. Stoever…

1. Bed – While sleeping in and being awoken solely by bodily cues is quite nice (the dreaded alarm clock takes summers off as well), the perk “bed” actually refers to my post-wake up routine. Each morning I roll out of bed, make the 15 step journey from our bedroom to the kitchen, pour myself an oversized mug of coffee (which conveniently has already been made by Nick before he left for work and has now cooled to the perfect temperature), and then make the return journey back to bed. With my cup of Joe at my side I climb back into the preserved warmth of my bed, prop myself up with the excess of pillows, wriggle back under the duvet, grab my book iPad off the nightstand, and I am ready to settle into my bookworm’s paradise. The beauty of it is that I can truly lose myself amidst the pages of a good read (or in the case of my current book selection {cough} the Fifty Shades Trilogy {cough} … amidst the pages of pure smut).There are no time constraints, no tired, heavy eyes to combat, and no work priorities to contend with. I am typically only brought back to reality by my grumbling stomach nagging to be tended to. Which brings me to my second perk…

2. Breakfast – You’ve heard it all before… breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Research has proven that a healthful breakfast positively impacts your daily performance (energy levels, concentration, etc.) as well as your overall weight management, heart health, and quality of your diet. Unfortunately for me for most of my life breakfast was my least favorite meal of the day. My first qualm with breakfast is in its timing. I have zero appetite while I still have Sandman remnants in my eyes (and these days before I’ve got a steady flow of caffeine in my veins). I need at least an hour before I’m ready to “break fast.” On school days I literally roll out of bed and into my car to head to the gym by 6am. Getting up any earlier just to warm up for breakfast is a hard limit for me (book reference anyone?!) So that means eating a small piece of fruit on my way into the gym and packing a portable breakfast for afterwards (typically plain yogurt and nuts or on lazy days a Larabar or Whole Foods Green Superfood bar).  This means shoveling spoonfuls of food into my mouth while simultaneously tending to the flood of emails that overtook my inbox during the night and making final preparations before the tornado of children arrive. I’m pretty sure this behavior meets at least some criteria for mindless eating (sorry Brian Wansink). The bottom line is that my school day breakfasts lack lifestyle and palate appeal. My second qualm is with a typical breakfast spread. I loathe milk, my textural issues make me gag at even the sight of something mushy (soupy oatmeal, soggy cereal), I’m a lacto-vegetarian (no eggs or meat), and I try to avoid heavy carbo-loaded items (bagels, etc). My quest to create well-rounded breakfasts out of these limited options has led me to eat excessive amounts of unsweetened Greek and soy yogurts, pure fruit and nut bars, and the occasional homemade cereal or muffin. I know I’ve come a long way from my Light and Fit yogurt and Special K days, but the monotony has caught up with me and I’m sure a little variety could go a long way nutrient wise as well.

So I vowed this summer to not only get creative with my breakfasts, but to actually sit and consciously make spoon to mouth movements and savor (or at least taste!) each bite. My mission has been fruitful (both literally and figuratively) thus far and knowing that a new, healthful, and (9 times out of 10) delicious recipe is waiting to be made in my kitchen makes tearing myself away from my morning reading bearable. I’ve learned to tweak things to please my personal tastes (i.e. overcooked oatmeal that any normal person would turn their nose at), I’ve taken some new food risks (chia seed pudding?!), and I’ve found ways to bring new life and nutrients to my old favorites (i.e. yogurt parfaits). I’ve been sure to test out recipes that could be made the night before in hopes of heading into the new school year with a broader breakfast artillery. Dare I say I am really liking breakfast these days?! Watch out dinner!

Below are pictures of and links to some of my favorite recipes thus far. With the exception of the caramelized banana oatmeal all of the recipes came from bloggers I follow. I did minimal (if any) tweaking to each (swapping a different fruit or nut, omitting optional items like protein powder, etc.) so re-writing them seemed senseless. Plus these sites are all hosted by incredible bloggers whose posts are totally worth browsing.

You can be certain that I’ll be enjoying the remaining days of bed and breakfasting to the last drop!

Top Row:                                                                  

Caramelized Banana Oatmeal – Martha Stoever Original (recipe below)

Nutty Strawberry Banana Quinoa – Ambitious Kitchen

Bottom Row:    

Swiss Oatmeal with Blueberries – Colourful Palate

Breakfast Parfait Jar – Peanut Butter and Peppers

Top Row:

Chia Pudding – Eating Bird Food

Vegan Peach Muesli – Eating Bird Food

Bottom Row:

Power Muesli – Everyday Maven

Banana Quinoa Flake Bake – Eating Bird Food

Caramelized Banana Oatmeal

serves 1


  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 small banana or 1/2 large banana, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 Tablespoon agave
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vegan butter (I prefer Earth Balance whipped)
  • 1 Tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut, if desired


  1. Combine oats and almond milk in a small saucepan over high heat.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Lower heat and simmer.
  4. Allow oatmeal to cook until it is thick, stirring occasionally. Approximately 10 minutes.
  5. While oatmeal is combine bananas, walnuts, agave, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Toss to coat.
  6. In a small skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add banana mixture.
  7. Cook for approximately 5 minutes until bananas begin to caramelize.
  8. Add caramelized bananas to cooked oatmeal and top with shredded coconut if using.

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What do a first year anniversary, a vacation of a lifetime, aging grandparents, family members sprinkled across the country, and a national tragedy all have in common? They are all a timely reminder to me that life is unpredictable… there are no promises, no guarantees, and at times no answers. Let’s be honest… life can be unfair, cruel, and at its lowest moments seemingly unbearable. So why then do we grasp onto life with unparalleled fervor? Why do the words “life is precious” slip off so many tongues with ease? Because in life there is love. No matter where your ambiguous journey may take you around each corner is the possibility of discovering new love and even in the simplest of moments along the way old love can continue to grow. Love is beautifully mysterious in its own way as it can be unveiled in the most unexpected of entities. Many of us are blessed with love amongst the branches of our family trees, both the one who are born into and the one we plant the seed for. But, how many of us have also discovered love in a golden friendship, a furry pal, or a classroom full of first graders… at the age of 2, 22, 42, or 92?! No matter where, when, how, or with whom love is found it is magical. Love soothes us in the darkest of  life’s moments and sets our world ablaze in the brightest. Love is life’s gift.

The following words are not intended to be laden with the voice of a preacher. Rather they are a public proclamation and plea from my soul to my self. Slow down… prioritize… make time for those you love… and always say “I love you.”

My first move towards embracing this mantra is to begin a new family tradition of Sunday night  cooking. You wouldn’t be here reading this right now if I did not already cook on a daily basis. The key word there is “I.” Let me set the scene for a typical evening in our home. I am in the kitchen preparing dinner while Nick sits on the other side of our peninsula countertop working on his laptop. Despite our close proximity our interactions and conversations during this time involve minimal eye contact and overly succinct statements. Most sound something like this…

Partner 1: Hey! Guess what…

Partner 2: Huh? I wasn’t listening.

Partner 1: Forget it. It’s not important.


Partner 1: Hey! Guess wh…

Partner 2 (interrupting): Hold on. I’m busy right now.

By no means am I suggesting that the two of us should be in the kitchen together every night (the phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen” certainly has validity), but we could “prioritize and make time” to do so once a week. And so we’ve decided that on Sunday evenings we will don our aprons, cue some music, execute culinary teamwork, and admire one another’s work (or at least efforts!). We will sit across the table from one another… actively listening to each other and reflecting on our conversation. We will enjoy a meal made with TLC. We will celebrate and cultivate our love.

Our tradition commenced this past Sunday with a menu of homemade tomato and basil marinara (which we learned to make during our incredible cooking class experience in Rome) and fresh farmer’s market pasta. I was hesitant to blog about this meal because the recipe is unrefined, the lighting was terrible, and I was taking pictures with my iPhone. But in this moment those things don’t matter because in the words of my dear Aunt Tricia “It’s all about the LOVE!”

Tomato Basil Marinara

adapted from Chef Andrea – Cooking Classes in Rome

Makes approximately 4 cups of sauce


4 pounds Roma tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

extra virgin olive oil


handful of fresh basil leaves, chiffonade


  1. Place a large pot of water on high heat to boil. While waiting for the water to boil use a paring knife to cut a lengthwise slit down the middle of each tomato.
  2. When the water comes to a boil place the tomatoes in the pot for 2-3 minutes. Remove the tomatoes using a slotted spoon and place in colander. Rinse with cold water. (Save the cooking water for your pasta. It now contains vitamins and minerals from the tomatoes…. bonus!)
  3. Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle peel the skin from each. Place a colander over a bowl and squeeze each tomato over the colander to remove the seeds. Chop the squeezed tomatoes into smaller pieces. Set aside the bowl of tomato juice.
  4. Smash the garlic cloves (you can use the bottom of a heavy pan) being sure to keep the skins on. Coat the bottom of a large saute pan with olive oil and place over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot place the cloves in the pan and lightly brown them on each side.
  5. When garlic is browned pour the chopped tomatoes into the pan and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer. After about 5-10 minutes the tomatoes will cook down and release more juices. Add a generous pinch of salt.
  6. Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. If your sauce is getting too thick you can add the reserved tomato sauce a little at a time.
  7. Once tomatoes have cooked down and flavors have melded to your liking use a spoon to remove the garlic cloves. Then using a pasta fork or potato masher break down the tomatoes to your desired consistency. Finally, scatter fresh basil over the sauce.

Bon Appétit!


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