Vegan Watermelon Feta Balsamic Salad With Tofu Feta + Mint

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

I used this one from Trader Joe’s, which I’d highly reccomend.

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Speaking of Trader Joe’s, I need to hit it up tomorrow. This week has been crazy busy. I started 2 new jobs, did a lot of freelance, and took a day trip to Chicago, which I’ll be sharing soon.

Stay tuned!

Tofu Feta

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Servings: 1 as entree or 2 as side, easily doubled or tripled

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups arugula, baby kale, or spinach
  • 1 cup watermelon, cubed
  • 3/4 cup tofu feta or conventional feta, or plant-based store-bought feta
  • 1/2 large avocado, sliced (optional)
  • roughly 1/4th cup fresh mint
  • 4 tablespoons high quality balsamic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Assemble greens, avocado, watermelon, mint and tofu feta in a bowl. Drizzle with desired amount of balsamic and oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy.

 

 

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Long Weekend in Colorado

This weekend I went to visit my sister in Denver, Colorado! She’s doing a dental residency program there so she and her husband moved there last June.

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While I was recovering from my mini toe-surgery I spent a lot of time online looking at flights and ended up booking a roundtrip long weekend for $69 (okay actually each way was $69, but I had points to use so I only paid for one way). So Denver it was!

Thursday:

My flight left at 5:35am on Thursday and I landed in Denver around 6:45am local time. Then I hopped on the light rail and my sister’s husband picked me up from a stop nearby their place. I spent a bit of time showering, settling in, and taking a break to relax and snack with the pups.

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I had a haircut scheduled with the lady who did my hair all of middle/high school at 11:30am so then I went and did that. It took 2 hours. She did a great job. It’s much too short for my taste though, and honestly I don’t really feel like myself and would like it about 2 inches longer. But I guess I just gotta wait it out.

I spent a bit of time walking around, getting coffee, and headed back to my sister’s place around 3:30pm. I ate a late lunch snack thing and rested for a while. My sister came home a little bit later and her husband made us an awesome dinner of homemade veggie burgers, TJ’s sweet potato fries, and salad with chickpeas, quinoa, nuts, and dried cranberries. He’s an awesome cook. He’s a vegetarian, and my sister also eats mostly vegetarian, so meals with them are often plant-based. Nom.

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The veggie burger patties were based on this recipe, and were truly outstanding. Served with avocado, tomato, lettuce, onion, and cucumbers, and some random hummus sauce that tasted nice. Also ketchup + hot sauce + BBQ sauce because we like condiments in our fam.

(Speaking of condiments, this tweet from Ed Sheerean is everything to me):

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Then we went to ice cream at Little Man’s. The experience was fun and filled with laughs. The vegan ice cream tasted okay but the texture was very gummy and unpleasant. Still an awesome time and nice evening.

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Friday:

The next day I drove my sister to work, and then explored the city a bit. I camped out at Denver Central Market for a bit to do some work, then went to Babette’s to get the most amazing bread ever period.

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After that I headed back to her place to make some lunch and shower. For lunch I had the leftover salad with added greens and cashews, and a ton of Babette’s bread. It was perfect. My appetite was a bit lower than usual, probably because it always takes me a little bit to adjust to altitude, so I was craving something not-too-heavy and fresh. This did the trick.

 

I did a bunch of work outside (it was so beautiful) until it started to rain. I came inside and ate more cashews (okay honestly Trader Joe’s organic cashews are somehow the best cashews ever period) and by that time it was almost time to get Jenn from work. I had intended to go shopping this day, but wasn’t in the mood.

We grabbed Jenn from work and brought the dogs, and planned on a walk, but it started to rain (hard) almost the minute we pulled up to the park. We headed back to my sister’s place, and by that time the rain had cleared (lol). But we got ready and headed to dinner.

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For dinner we went to Watercourse Foods, which is an all-vegan place. We ordered the MOST AMAZING cauliflower wings and a huge (much bigger than we anticipated) plate of nachos to start. I was very much infatuated by the wings.

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The nachos were good too, but I’m not a huge nacho person (I eat them and like them, but don’t crave for them, if that makes sense).

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After appetizers, we were basically full (lol) but our food came out anyways. I had ordered a vegan caesar salad with added miso-glazed tofu. I think my appetite was still adjusting cause I just didn’t have the giant appetite I usually do. This was a perfect entree following the apps.

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We were stuffed and passed on dessert (shocking, I know), and headed back to Jenn’s place where we walked the dogs.

Saturday:

Saturday started bright and early. I got up around 4:50am and couldn’t go back to sleep. Jenn got up at 5:30, and we had a breakfast of Babette’s bread with peanut butter and banana.

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Next we hit up yoga at Red Rocks at 7:00am, which was pretty damn awesome. The sun was shining, and the weather was great.

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The walk up to Red Rocks was probably the most strenuous part lol.

 

After that + an hour of yoga we were ready for iced coffee and some chill time.

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Here is the best selfie I took all trip:

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Back to hotel Jackson we went for some down time. Jenn napped, I chilled. We also ate a papaya at some point. I also had a banana + more bread + pb as a snack before we headed out for the park a little after noon.

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We spent a solid amount of time in the park with the dogs. The weather was so nice all weekend so we really soaked it all in.

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After our walk we headed to TJ’s to grab some stuff to make a corn and bean salad for a party later. I got some yummy Healthade Pink Lady Apple Booch + some slaw for the party (which was on demo and SO good) + some chocolate.

 

Look how cute the doggo stuff was!

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Then it was home for a late lunch and some more down time. I had leftover salad + miso glazed tofu (from last night) and more bread. Because bread.

That night, we headed out to one of my sister + Tyler’s friends party. On the way, we stopped for beer at a rando liquor store which just so happened to be next door to Beet Box!

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Beet Box is a vegan bakery I sought out last time I was in town. SUPER yummy all-vegan bakery and cafe. While Tyler was grabbing booze, I grabbed some sweet carby snacks.

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I got us a vanilla coconut doughnut, an apple cinnamon walnut doughnut, and a giant cinnamon roll to share. The vanilla coconut doughnut was a bit sweet for me, but the other two were EXCELLENT. LOVED the cinnamon roll.

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We headed to the party where we hung out for several hours. It was a grill out and the hosts were sweet enough to grill Tyler and I some mushroom caps. I made a sandwich thing with a mushroom cap + a grilled peach + avo + tomato + onion + lettuce + slaw + hummus + had some more slaw + bean salad on the side. Not pictured: veggies + more hummus + chips + more guac. It looks really gross in the following pic:

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I headed back to the Jackson’s in an uber around 10:30 cause I was pooped from my inability to nap during the tow opportunties available to me that day.

Except then I couldn’t really sleep well because the doggos kept barking. I think their neighbors were having a party or something. Anyways, I didn’t get to sleep until around 12:30am. Blah.

Sunday

Sunday I slept in til 7:30am, which is pretty darn late for me. I spent the morning hours outside on their deck reading and drinking coffee in the sun. My sister got up around 9:30am and we got ready for a day of adventures.

First we swung by Denver Central Market to hit up Babette’s for another loaf for me to take home. We also grabbed some coffee from Boxcar. Love that place.

 

We piled into the car and got on the road. St. Mary’s Glacier was on our agenda.

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My sister and her husband took me here in January, but it was SO cold and windy (like 20 degrees and super gusty) and I had Millie in my arms who was so pissed about the whole thing I spent all of my energy clutching her in my arms and carrying her up the glacier gloveless (I had a good grip and she was so swirmy I didn’t wanna bother) that I barely remember much except making sure Millie was okay. I had really thought she would have liked the hike but didn’t realize it was that freezing that day in the mountains. Oh well.

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See? Look how PISSED she looks lol.

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Anyways, it was nice to be able to see the glacier but like actually see and enjoy it.

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We hiked up, took some pics, and felt anxious watching people ski down the glacier. Then we hiked up the glacier a bit more and had a snack break: apples + TJ’s Walnut Fig Date Nut Bar. I LOVE this bar.

 

After some water, views, and snacks, we headed back down to the car and got back on our way. We stopped in Idaho Springs for more water from a gas station and decided to go up to Mount Evans to try to see some mountain goats.

 

Back on the road we went. The road was the highest road in America. I freaked the fuck out and made us stop. Holy cow did that road scare me. And I’m not even afraid of heights. Anyways, we stopped on the road and took in more views and snapped some more pics before I made us turn back around and head home.

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We returned to the Jackson’s around 3:30pm and had some snacks + all of the water + chill time. Altitude takes a lot out of me.

Around 6 we headed to dinner at Vital Root.

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I ordered a grilled beet arugula salad with candied walnuts + their avocado toast.

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Can we talk about this avo toast for a minute? Hands down the BEST I’ve ever had. It had glazed nuts, crispy chickpeas, microgreens, radish strips, and balsamic glaze on top. And it came with a side of this really yummy spicy green stuff.

The sunflower seed bread it was served on was SUPER thick and like tasted French toasted somehow. I don’t know how they did it, but holy cow. This was so.good. I could have eaten 4 of them.

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Post-din din we went on an ice cream adventure. I got black sesame, pb fudge and berry chip from Frozen Matter. Yes, it was excessive. I also added Oreos which I regretted. I should have gotten cocoa nibs but the girl kinda talked me out of those. Boo. Oh well. Still really good, especially the black sesame. It tasted like blue moon.

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I managed to inhale this entire 3 scoop concoction with impressive speed. It was around 8:15 at that point, so back home it was. Jenn and I watched the Simple Life and she did some work while I chilled.

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Monday:

I was super tired Monday and my tummy was a bit off so I chilled in the morning. I went to a nearby coffee shop to get some work done, and then headed back around 2 to pack up. My flight got delayed about 90 times and I ended up being around long enough for dinner.

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We went to Biju’s Little Curry Shop, which is kind of like a Chipotle of Indian Food. It was also randomly on Triple D recently. Anyways, I got a reallllyyyy spicy curry with rice, lentils, cabbage, green beans, potatoes and slaw. And more hot sauce.

Biju’s is some of the only Indian-type food I like. Most curry tastes muddy and greasy to me. This tastes fresh and flavorful and doesn’t make me poop my pants. Score.

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Then we grabbed a quick cider sampler drink and after that I hopped on the lightrail to the airport for what ended up being a super duper late flight back to MKE. I got back around 2:00am, ate some chocolate, brushed my teeth, and went to bed with my Millie (it was SO good to see her little face!!!)

That’s all for this Denver trip. Can’t wait for the next!

What’s your fav place to travel?

Hummus Barley Bowl with Sweet Potatoes & Kale

You ever have those days were you just want to eat the earth in bowl? Where you just want something earthy, hearty, warming, full of umami and spice and nourishment that will fill you up without making you feel weighed down? Well I do. And today was one of those days.

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For reasons beyond my explanation I was really craving barley this morning. I’ve been very into plain grains lately. Kamut, corn, wild rice, black rice, oats…just something comforting about a bowl of simple grains to feed the body and mind.

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It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of eating carbs. They literally and figuratively fuel the brain and make you all sorts of happies, inside and out. The key is doing ’em right. Whole grains, vegetables, legumes and fruits are nature’s way of being like “hey everyone I love you.”

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Back to barley. Couldn’t get it out of my head. And I was really craving a warm bowl of something hearty and filling. Barley fit the bill, as did the earthy creaminess of hummus. I decided to stir hummus (I used Horseradish hummus from Trader Joe’s…omg.) into barley while the barley was still slightly warm, almost to create a light hummus-sauce of sorts. The result was creamy flavorful grains in my face. In love. Adapting this idea and using it widely in the future.

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I decided to add some more delicious goodness to the bowl with an all-time favorite vegetable: the humble yet glorious sweet potato. Cubed and roasted plain and simple (okay I added a little cumin for extra flair). But this would be a miraculous way to use up any root vegetable or squash in your house. The pre-cut frozen butternut squash cubes would also work wonders.

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Kale made it’s way into the dish because I had about a fourth of a bag to use up. I’m normally not into cooked greens (I like ’em raw) but a gentle sauté  seemed appropriate for the earth bowl. Cumin, curry powder, paprika and chili powder all lend earthy spiciness to the dish, as well. I threw some more chickpeas on top for extra filling power, adding some more texture, fiber, and protein to keep me satisfied.

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I am so in love with this dish I can’t even express the words. It’s a perfect lunch or light dinner and tastes great eaten as leftovers out of the fridge later on.

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I used barley, but truly any hearty whole grain would work. Quinoa or brown rice would also do the trick. Use whatever you have on hand, but by all means, give this a go. Your tummy will thank me. Happy hummus bowl-ing 🙂

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Level: easy
serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked barley (or wild rice, brown rice, quinoa, oats, etc)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup hummus of choice (I used Trader Joe’s Horseradish hummus and it was excellent!)
  • 1 large sweet potato (or about 1 cup cubed butternut squash – pre-cut frozen would work great!)
  • 1/2 large onion or 1 shallot
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup kale, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper [ —> quick note on spices: if you really don’t have any of these or some of these on hand, a hearty dose of curry powder or cumin or any combination will get the job done and still be tasty]
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Cube sweet potato and place on a parchment paper or aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon olive oil to coat sweet potato cubes. Toss gently with a spoon and add salt and pepper to taste. Place into the oven and roast until browned and tender, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, prepare spice mix by mixing curry powder, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and salt in a small bowl. Whisk together with a fork and set aside.

3. Prepare barley or rice according to package. For barley, I added the 2 cups of water to 1 cup of barley, brought to a boil, and simmered over medium heat until barley had plumped and thickened, about 12 minutes.

4. While barley is cooking, drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a small skillet or pan. Chop onion finely and add to oil. Add 1/3 of spice mix and simmer onions and spices lightly on low heat until onions are translucent. Lightly chop kale and add to pan. Toss kale gently to soften and cook down slightly.

5. Transfer barley to a medium bowl. While still warm, add hummus and remaining 2/3rds of spice mix. Stir to evenly coat barley with hummus and spices.

6. Add cooked kale and onions from pan directed to bowl and mix again. Top with cubed sweet potatoes and chickepeas. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy :-).