Today I was craving some comfort. The past few weeks I’ve felt uneasy, and I can’ quite figure out why.
Perhaps it’s a combination of stress of an 18-credit graduate school load, figuring out my summer practicum, some pressing family issues, or the mundaneness I sometimes feel after working on something (whether it be school work, work work, projects, or applications for practicums) from morning til evening with little relief.
Once I cross one thing off my list, it seems, 6 more pop up.
But today, I was back on the grind. And today, comfort came in the form of Vegan Strawberry Almond Butter Oatmeal Crumb Bars.
I love a sweet but not-too-sweet breakfasty nibble, filled with oats, nut butters, and sometimes fruit to snack on in the afternoon with tea and to have to pack for snacks during the school week.
I wanted something with a soft bottom, a yummy fruity center, and a scrumptious oatmeal crumb topping. Crumb toppings are one life’s finest pleasures, as far as I’m concerned.
I was trying to decide what to bake when I remembered the clearance frozen strawberries I purchased at the store yesterday, and the idea for a Vegan Strawberry Almond Butter Bar with an oatmeal crumb topping came to me. And just like that, I knew I had to make some.
Carbs, carbs carbs. We all know I love carbs. And potatoes (sweet potatoes in particular) have always been one of my favorite foods.
Last fall when I lived in Minnesota I was exposed to several varieties of sweet potatoes I’d never had before. I’m sure I walked by them in grocery stores in the past and overlooked them in search of regular, but now that I’ve discovered the likes of purple and Japanese sweet potatoes, I truly enjoy mixing up my potato game.
Then, a few months ago, the plantain obsession started, and now these babies have become a routine part of my starchy vegetable parties.
And the best part about these parties is that I can mix and match my starchy carbs to my liking.
A lot of people ask me how I eat potatoes and plantains since I eat them so frequently. This (along with plain baked with salt and almond butter) is one of my favorite ways.
Simple, spicy roasted sweet potatoes and plantains make a the perfect side dish to your meal (try alongside a tofu scramble!), or topped with avocado, beans, and/or pico, can easily become a meal.
All you need is a couple potatoes, a plantain and some spices, and you’ve got a yummy nutrient-packed starchy vegetable treat on its way.
I hope you try this dish, and if you do let me know! Comment below or tag me on Instagram.
Spicy Sweet Potatoes & Plantains
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 30-40 minutes Servings: 1-3, depending on if you eat as an entree or side dish
1 large sweet potato
1 large purple sweet potato (can sub Japanese sweet potato, regular potato, or additional regular sweet potato)
1 large very ripe (brown) plantain
1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
heafty sprinkle of salt
avocado, black beans, and/or cilantro for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Cube sweet potatoes into equal sized cubes or coins. Place in a bowl. Microwave for 90 seconds – 2 minutes to soften slightly, as potatoes will cook more quickly than plantains otherwise. Slice plantain into 1/4 inch thick coins and add to bowl
Drizzle oil on potato cubes and plantains. Add cumin, turmeric, and cayenne and toss until evenly coated.
Spread potatoes/plantains onto a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until potatoes are tender and browned. Remove from oven and serve with avocado, black beans, and/or cilantro.
Our department has a lunch meeting every Wednesday where first year students sit and eat while a faculty member tells us about their research how they got where they are, and sometimes their life story, etc. it’s a nice time / I’m all about free food.
Delivery options are limited around the Columbia University Medical Center campus. Hence why every single week lunch ends up being one of 3 options: pizza that smells like burnt Chuck E Cheese kitchen grease and is paired with a salad cloaked in sad cold deli meat (and one plain salad, but that goes fast), Dominican food, or on a good day, sandwiches on really strangely delicious fluffy crusty white hoagie bread.
Dominican food days are frequent, and I don’t hate it. The buffet has enough veggie options (salad with avocado, rice, beans) that I can finagle a decent meal out of it.
The star of every Dominican week is, of course, the fried plantains. Sticky sweet gooey goodness, the fried plantains have become a cherished and familiar treat.
It dawned upon me this week that I’ve never actually made plantains at home which considering bananas and potatoes are my favorite foods and plantains are essentially the potato of bananas (as in not sweet and rather starchy), is quite odd. So over the weekend I decided to change this. I picked up some plantains, 3/$1, at my local grocery store.
A kind woman was also picking out plantains when I was sorting through them. I asked her if she had any advice for a new plantain cook, and she told me to wait until the plantains were “soft like sponges.” Noted.
Now onto cooking. I don’t love frying things and my stomach doesn’t love eating large quantities of fried food. Hence why I after doing some googling to confirm it was possible, I opted to bake mine.
I did mine skin-on because the method sounded intriguing to me. You can totally peel them and cube them, coat them in oil and seasonings, and bake them that way (just for a shorter duration, 20-25 minutes until tender rather than 40-45).
If you are curious about the skin-on method as I was, I am happy to report that it totally works. Just take it out of the oven when the foil-wrapped plantain gives to a squeeze.
Next comes topping. I played around with topping these babies. One I coined and ate with melted vegan butter and brown sugar.
Another I drizzled with almond butter, cinnamon, and a dash of sugar. The last I ate with leftover black bean soup and cilantro. I decided they would also taste great with guacamole. All were solid options, and it was a very plantain-filled day.
Speaking of filled, I found plantains quite filling. I plan to keep this in mind since they are a cheap starchy piece of produce aka something I desperately need to befriend.
I hope you give these a try. If you do, please let me know, and let me know how you topped or are them.
….apparently I’m 5 years old. Anyways I thought I’d share the recipe for this easy vegan Fruit Crisp that I made on Vegan Bites this week, because it’s so incredibly simple. I usually eyeball these crisps because I’m lazy and because they are quite forgiving, but below you’ll find a general guideline for making your very own Fruit Crisp.
This recipe serves 2. You can easily double, triple, or quadrupole it, depending on how many people you’re feeding or how hungry you are.
I used peaches, but you can use whatever tickles your pickle or whatever fruit happens to be spoiling around your house. Frozen fruit works well, too.
I suggest using almond or oat flour. This makes it gluten-free if you care and delicious regardless of if you care. If you don’t have these flours, you can use all purpose.
This tastes amaze with non-dairy or ice cream or whipped cream. DO IT.
Easy Vegan Fruit Crisp
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 30-40 minutes, but need at least 1 hour to freeze Servings: 2, easily doubled
2 cups fruit (I used peaches today, frozen berries are also fab)
1 tablespoon sugar -1/2 tablespoon lemon juice -3/4 cup oats -1/4 cup flour (I recommend almond or oat, AP is fine too)
1/4 cup brown or coconut sugar (regular will also be okay)
1/4 cup softened non-dairy butter
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Chop fruit into even pieces, add lemon juice, sugar, and toss. Place in well-greased baking pan.
Combine oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Mix. Cube softened butter and mix in.
Cover fruit with oat mixture and bake for 30-45 minutes until fruit is tender and top is crispy.
Serve with non-dairy ice cream or coconut whipped cream!
Yum yum yum. Avocado toast. I love to make it! Because I am a millennial and never want to be able to buy a house! I’d rather spend my time creating easy avocado toasts so you can have some easy avocado toast ideas on hand.
Lol. All jokes aside, people who rip on avocado toast can shove it. Sure, it can be overpriced on brunch menus, but isn’t everything? Like people pay $8-20 for an omelet. And eggs are CHEAP AF.
Anyways, here are a few avocado toast ideas for you. I hope you enjoy for a snack or breakfast or for lunch or for whatever!
Avocado Toast with Pomegranate Seeds
An old favorite! And so cute and festive for the holidays. The recipe exists on my site here, but basically it’s just bread + avo + pomegranate perils. You can add red pepper flakes if you want too. Add S&P and: Yum!
Avocado Toast with Nutritional Yeast
Yes. Simple and delicious. The nutritional yeast truly kicks it up a major notch. Try it. Trust me. Cheesy, umami goodness. Add S&P, of course. Yum. #vegan
Avocado Toast with Preserved Lemons and Radish
This was better than expected. I had a jar of perserved lemons I had no idea what to do with. Honestly, I’d never even had them before. I opened them up and they tasted like olives. But lemon. It’s weird and wonderful at once.
They are super salty, so naturally they go well on avocado toast. I added radish. You could also do tomatoes. Whatever you want!
Avocado Toast with Everything Sea Salt
Another simple wonderful creation. Simply mash avocado, and sprinkle with everything bagel salt. I get it at Trader Joe’s for $1.99. This salt is a GAME CHANGER. Invest.
Avocado Toast with Herbs, Walnuts, and Crushed Chips or Sundried Tomatoes
I love avocado toast with herbs. It just tastes and feels so right. Cilantro on top makes it like a guac toast (also good). Parsley also tastes SO FRESH. I also like adding nuts for crunch, and something to contrast the savoriness.
In this case, it was Just Beets from Trader Joe’s. Any pop of sweet tanginess (see pomegranate perils above, or sun-dried tomatoes), or juiceness (like tomatoes) will do.
Hope this gave you some ideas! Stay #blessed, y’all.
Do you ever get a cooking itch you just have to scratch? Like you get something in your head and you just can’t crush the desire to make it until it happens? That’s what happened to me a few weeks ago upon realizing I had never cooked with dried beans (seriously, WTF).
So one recent Saturday, I was digging through the clearance food items at Target (shocking, I know) and happened upon a 1 pound bag of organic black beans for $1.42. And I took it as fate.
Cue the urge to make black bean soup. Spicy, hearty, black bean soup. Yum.
This recipe is sort of inspired by Panera Black Bean Soup. But I gotta say it – this might be a little better (sorry/still love you Panera).
This was my first time using dried beans for anything, and I must say, I totally understand why people prefer using dried beans over canned. The beans turned out al dente and were less mushy than canned beans.
Yes, it took longer, but if you have the time (and you really don’t have to babysit the soup), I’d say it’s worth it!
I made this soup super spicy, but you don’t have to. The recipe includes ranges of spices to use and you can base how much you use on your taste preferences. Personally, I like it HOT HOT HOT so that’s just how I made it.
This soup is excellent with some cubed avocado and cilantro on top. You could also top it with shredded cheese or vegan cheese, and tortilla chips. Up to you!
Spicy Vegan Black Bean Soup
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 1-3 hours, depending on if you use dried or canned beans Servings: 3-4
Ingredients – Soup:
1 cup dried black beans or 2 cans black beans
1 small onion, diced
1 red bell pepper
1 poblano pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons liquid aminos or soy sauce (optional)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
1-2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 – 1 1/2 tsp cayenne
1-2 tsp turmeric (adjust all species to preference)
Salt & pepper to taste
Juice of 1 lime
Cilantro & avocado for topping, plus any additional desired toppings (suggestion: vegan cheese, crushed tortilla chips)
If using dried beans, soak for one hour in 4 cups water. Boil for 10 minutes and allow to simmer for additional hour.
Place poblano pepper in foil and broil in 500 degree oven until charred.
Meanwhile, dice onion and bell pepper. Mince garlic.
Heat oil and onion and garlic on stove and cook on low heat until onions are translucent.
Add spices and continue to cook. Add bell peppers and cook until peppers are soft.
Remove charred pepper from oven. Peel off skin. Remove seeds. Dice. Add to other peppers.
If using canned beans, rinse and drain. Add to large pot with 3 cups water or veggie broth.
Add nutritional yeast, aminos/soy sauce and onions/peppers to beans and allow to simmer on low heat for one hour.
Add juice of one lime. Top with cilantro and avocado and serve.
I’m between jobs that require me to be places and wear pants at the moment, and am starting school in just a few weeks so finding a job outside of my various freelance gigs feels kinda pointless at the moment.
So what’s a girl to do? Bake. Bake all day. Duh.
But what about when you’ve baked so hard you have too many baked goods to handle? Well, you bake for your dog, of course.
I made this banana bread with some random stuff I had around my kitchen. You can customize it to your liking or based on what you have in your pantry (there are several variations offered in the recipe; see below).
The awesome thing about baking for dogs is that if there’s peanut butter involved, they probably won’t be very fussy. I’m pretty sure I could have baked a piece of rotting bread and spread peanut butter on top and Millie would still be a happy gal. Bless her.
In case you were wondering, she really liked it. Shocking, I know. I even caught her jumping on the kitchen counter to get more (yes, she’s small, but the girl can HOP).
Feel free to think baking your dog banana bread is over the top. Because that might be partially true. But I’ve always believed that if you’re going to have a pet, you may as well spoil the crap out of them.
I’m working on another pet-related post to explain why this week has been tough for me, so stay tuned.
Also, I’ve promised to myself I’m going to be more consistent and candid with my blogging. I’m investing my time and energy into this instead of pursuits that do not grow or benefit me in any way.
So buckle up and get ready to join me next year as I go back to school yet again for my third degree (lol school forever) at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. #schooltilim50 #noregrets
Without further adieu…
Banana Bread with Peanut Butter Frosting (For Dogs)
Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus time to chill dough Cook Time: 30-45 minutes Servings: 1 medium-sized loaf of doggie banana bread (enough for 8-14 treats)
Ingredients – Bread:
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup oat flour (you can make your own by pulsing rolled oats in a food processor or blender until a powder/flour forms)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup ground flax
2 eggs OR 4 tablespoons chia seeds + 1/4 cup water
3/4 cup water or milk or unsweetened almond milk or apple sauce
Ingredients – Frosting:
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
2-3 tablespoons plain yogurt, non-diary yogurt, milk, or nondairy milk to thin (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F . Oil a loaf pan.
Mash bananas in a large bowl. Add peanut butter and mix well. If necessary, microwave peanut butter for 30-60 seconds until it becomes melty and pliable enough to stir.
Watermelon goes surprisingly well in salads. I still remember the first time I had watermelon in a lettuce salad. It was at LPQ right when I moved to NYC to start at NYU. It was served with arugula + feta + mint and seriously good balsamic.
My mom and I adored this meal. To us, the flavor combo was new. Now, you see this stuff all over. But at the time, it seemed like a fun, wild treat to us. Something I totally would have Insta’d. But that was an age where people didn’t Insta their food. Strange to think about, I know.
Anyways, when watermelon is in season, I have thrown it into salads ever since that day. I love it.
Now I’m plant-based mostly, and rarely have feta around. Even when I wasn’t plant-based, I rarely bought cheese because it was rare I’d use cheese for more than just a garnish. I was never a huge cheese eater.
But it adds such a nice a lovely saltiness and a bit of staying power to the salad. So here we are. I used this homemade tofu feta, but you can totally use conventional feta or purchase a plant-based feta at the store.
Arugula provides a nice peppery green, but you can also use baby kale or whatever green you want.go together surprisingly well together. I also often add avocado to this salad. Because avocado. Duh.
Also, it’s essential to use a good balsamic. I mean, really you don’t have to, but it will truly kick it up a notch. And if you haven’t experienced a really good balsamic yet in your life, you should. They are sweet and sticky and wonderful.
Feta: a cheese I never really purchased, but enjoyed when it was used as a seasoning. Tofu: something I have always adored plain and/or manipulated. Tofu feta: a fun experiment I simply had to try one day and have loved ever since.
So here we are: Herby marinated tofu feta. Are you ready for this? I hope you’re ready for this.
Simply to prepare, and full of flavor, this stuff is good on salads, pasta, pizza, sandwiches, avo toast — you pretty much can’t go wrong.
Does it taste like authentic feta? No. And I’m not going to lie to you about that. This isn’t really a good substitute if you’re craving hardXcore cheese. For that I’d reccomend buying an aged plant-based cheese or actual feta.
This IS a delicious, protein-packed, flavorful way to eat tofu and something I am going to be making regularly from now on.
I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute as a shortcut. If you’ve never had it, it is delicious. I add it to so.many.things: like vinaigrettes and roasted veggies. SO GOOD. If you don’t have it, I listed easy swaps.
Make this and add it to your next salad or Greek salad. Then HMU on Insta and let me know what ya thought!
Prep Time: minutes Cook Time: 0 minutes, but at least 2-4 hours for chilling Servings: about 4
So I have this weird habit of making some recipe, taking photos of it, uploading the photos onto my computer, putting them in a folder on my desktop, and then forget to ever post the recipe and photos. Like, it happens way more often than it should. WTF.
Or maybe I didn’t post this recipe because the photos aren’t great. I took some on my phone (ie one above) and forgot to DSLR anymore of the finished project. Probably cause I was eager to eat them. Sometimes I wonder why I pour so much time and energy into the stuff I do for other platforms that consistently under or don’t pay me and so little on my own site. I am actively changing this RIGHT NOW. So I’m gonna creep around my desktop, find some old (but new to you) recipes, and post ’em. Starting with this one.
I made these on Easter when I had a baking bug in my pants and wanted a sweet treat but was limited on baking supplies. I also didn’t feel like going to store, so I crept in the freezer, found a bag of frozen strawberries, and got busy.
I was craving a sweet, oaty bar, and googled “oatmeal strawberry bar,” and was directed to one of Ree Drummond’s recipes. Related: low key love watching the Pioneer Woman. Yes, I know I’m a non-meat-eater of 17 years and the Drummonds live on a tycoon cattle ranch and raise animals for the purpose of human consumption. And yes I know Ree makes a bunch of stuff I would like, never want to touch with a 10 foot pole.
But you can’t deny there’s something eerily enchanting about that show. And that the violin theme song is perfect. And that you love learning what’s happening on the ranch that day. And most importantly, you can’t deny that Ree has some good trips and tips for cooking, no matter what your dietary pattern or preference.
So these easy bars were inspired by her. I looked at her recipe, adapted it, veganized it, healthified it a little, and proceeded to watch The Pioneer Woman while baking. It was a lovely Easter indeed.
These bars are lightly sweet, oaty, chewy, and gushing with strawberries (in a good way). I made the jam for the filling using only frozen strawberries and chia seeds. This works tremendously. You just let them jell up. It’s wonderful.
Anyways, enjoy this recipe. More life update type post tomorrow. Have a great weekend!