Ciao For Now!

Today I leave for Italy!!! I will be spending the next few weeks researching Italian culture, food systems, and the Mediterranean diet. All throughout the course (which I am taking through my Master’s program), we have activities and field trips planned to give us the opportunity to immerse ourselves into Italian culture as much as possible. With trips to wineries, farms, coffee roasters and the Mediterranean Sea to meet local fisherman, I don’t think I could imagine a better way to start my summer.

I have been packing like crazy and trying to get ready for the trip, and I think I am finally set! Yesterday I helped my friend Alyce move, and now we are both set to start this adventure. Here’s a lovely picture of us in the U-Haul making our way to the storage unit in 5:00 pm Manhattan traffic. Gridlock anyone?


After getting home from helping Alyce I figured I should start doing some packing myself, and now (the afternoon of the day I leave) I think I’ve got my essentials ready to go. Like this box bursting at the seems with Larabars and Clif bars. Because you never know when you’ll need a little something to munch on. Actually, that’s not true…I always need a little something to munch on. That’s why I bought an excessive amount of bars.


Anyway, I also have my sunscreen, walking shoes and a converter. I think most of the essentials are covered.


And I have to leave you with one more recipe before I’m off. It’s a good one so I hope you enjoy! I’m not sure how much blogging I’ll be able to do while I’m away, but I hope to pop in every now and again and keep you posted!

So without further ado here is a lovely breakfast or brunch recipe you can make for the weekend: Coconut Dusted French Toast with Maple Ginger Blueberry Compote. Need I say more?


This is the golden delicious coconut dusted french toast before the compote topping. Delectable!


And here is the finished product. Even more delectable!

IMG_3357I entered this recipe in a contest, so abiding by their rules there are only a handful of ingredients in the recipe, and they are vegan. They are quick and simple, and taste as delicious as they look!

Coconut Dusted French Toast with Maple Ginger Blueberry Compote

Serves 1 (can easily be multiplied)

Two slices of all natural whole wheat bread

1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1/2 tbsp ground/whole flax seed

1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

1/4 cup of Silk vanilla soy milk

1/2 cup of fresh blueberries

1/8 cup of pure maple syrup

1/2 tbsp of coconut shavings

1) Start by melting the coconut oil in a small dish in the microwave.

2) Once melted, add in 1 tbsp of water and 1/2 tbsp of ground/whole flaxseed to the coconut oil dish. Stir and set aside for five minutes, allowing the flax “egg” to thicken.

3) Use the five minutes of wait time to mince the ginger, find a shallow dish to use to dunk the bread into the flax “egg” mixture, and spray a medium sized skillet with non-stick spray and then heat the pan to medium heat.

4) When the five minutes are up your skillet should be heated and ready to go, so simply combine the flax “egg” mixture and the Silk soy  milk in the shallow dish, and briefly dunk in both slices of bread (make sure to coat both sides of the bread) before placing on the skillet.

5) Cook the french toast for one minute at medium heat, then turn the heat down to medium low and flip the french toast. Continue cooking for another 4 minutes.

6) While the french toast is cooking, heat a small skillet to medium low heat.

7) When the four minutes are up on the french toast, flip the toast for the final time and cook for another 3 minutes. After flipping the french toast, add the maple syrup, ginger and blueberries into your heated small skillet, and simmer the compote mixture for the remaining three minutes as well.

8) After three minutes your french toast will be a beautiful golden brown and your maple ginger blueberry compote will be bubbling and slightly thickened.

9) Remove each skillet from heat and plate! Place the french toast on your platter of choice, top with the compote and finish by sprinkling with the coconut shavings.

10) Enjoy!

Ciao for now,



What I Ate Wednesday #19 and End of Year One!

Well, it’s official. I have finally completed year one of grad school! Yay!!! It has been a wonderful, crazy, fun and overwhelming year, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Yesterday I had my last final and then went out with some friends to celebrate! Cheers!


And of course since it is Wednesday I couldn’t leave you without sharing all my eats. I started off yesterday with a big bowl of cinnamon raisin bran cereal with banana and peanut butter. Scrumptious!

IMG_4184Lunch was a tasty plate of just about everything I had in my fridge. A piece of bread and avocado. Some roasted red pepper hummus with cherry tomatoes and snow peas. Some leftover Sweet and Spicy Slaw. And to drink I added a little lemon to my water. Feels like summer is coming!



I also had an apple with lunch, but didn’t get a shot of it. My afternoon snack, however, I  definitely got a picture of. It was so beautiful. Light, fluffy and flaky. And filled with pieces of sweet chocolate. It was a pain au chocolat from the new French bakery in town. Absolutely divine.


It was actually crazy hot here yesterday, like almost 90 degrees, so I spent the last few minutes before my exam sitting in the park, soaking up the heat, studying and eating this Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte Larabar. It was fantastic!


For dinner I had leftovers that my brother and I had made the other night. It was a delicious vegetarian enchilada bake! Served on top of a bed of spinach and crushed tortilla chips and topped with fresh cilantro.


And as you know I ended the night celebrating with my friends. It was a wonderful night!


Make sure to stop on by Jenn’s site to check out the rest of this WIAW party!



Balsamic and Plum Glazed Portabello Mushroom Sandwich with Goat’s Cheese

The other day I saw that another blogger was entering a grilled cheese contest, and it got me thinking about fun ways to put a twist on a classic grilled cheese. How could I make it a little more exciting than just the two simple ingredients of bread and cheese? I had some goat’s cheese in the fridge, and a few different veggies on hand, so it got me thinking about all the different possibilities…


In the end, I decided to do a Balsamic and Plum Glazed Portabello Mushroom and Goat’s Cheese Sandwich. Best. decision. ever.


This sandwich was a lovely pairing of sweet plum preserves and goat’s cheese, and savory mushrooms. It tasted phenomenal and it was such a quick and easy sandwich to make!


Please go give this recipe a whirl. You won’t be sorry!

Balsamic and Plum Glazed Portabello Mushroom Sandwich with Goat’s Cheese

Serves 1

Two slices of bread

2 handfuls of chopped kale

1 handful of chopped portabello mushrooms

1/2 tbsp of olive oil

1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp of golden plum preserves

Goat’s cheese

To make this sandwich, start by heating the olive oil in a sauce pan to medium low.

Once the oil is heated, add in the chopped kale and mushrooms. Cook the veggies for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the kale has wilted a bit, add in the balsamic vinegar and golden plum preserves. Stir to coat.

Then continue cooking the kale and mushrooms for another 5 minutes or so, until the kale is completely wilted and the mushrooms are tender.

After the kale and mushrooms are done to your liking, turn the heat to low and pop the bread in the toaster.

When the bread is done, spread on the goat’s cheese nice and smooth.

Remove the veggies from the heat and pile high on the bread. Enjoy!

Fresh lemons smell amazing,


Creamy Tahini Brown Rice and Veggie Bowl

Three finals down, one to go. I think the hardest finals are behind me so I am ready to conquer biostatistics! And now I’ve got all weekend to devote to studying just one subject, it’ll be glorious.

This week has flown by and even though it was busy with work and finals and prepping for my study abroad trip, I still managed time to fit in making some good meals. One tasty recipe I made was this Creamy Tahini Brown Rice and Veggie Bowl. So simple.

IMG_4215So tasty.

IMG_4216So nutritious.


Creamy Tahini Brown Rice and Veggie Bowl

Serves 2-3

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup of brown rice (measured uncooked)

3/4 cup of try-colored bell peppers, chopped

1/2 cup of corn

1 small head of broccoli


Goat’s cheese

Dried cranberries


To make this dish, start by cooking the rice according to package directions.

While the rice is cooking, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Wash and chop your broccoli into bite size pieces, and place on a tin foil lined baking sheet. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, combine the chickpeas, bell pepper and corn in a medium sized mixing bowl.

When the rice and broccoli are done cooking, add them to the mixing bowl and combine all ingredients. And…you’re done! So simple!

To serve this I piled as much as I wanted on my plate and topped it with some tahini (probably about 1 tbsp), dried cranberries, fresh cilantro and some goat’s cheese. Enjoy!

So glad I finally bought tahini,


What I Ate Wednesday #18 and Bean and Barley Bake

By the end of today I will have two finals down and two to go. The end is in sight my friends! This week I have been using my study breaks to cook, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. It’s a great mental break, and I love being in the kitchen all calm and relaxed while prepping the food. It’s also a bonus that I get substantial nourishment from these study breaks too! Anyway, since it’s Wednesday let’s jump into the food!


For breakfast yesterday I had a creamy bowl of banana flax oats with cranberries and peanut butter. Classic.


Mid-morning I was hungry and had some ‘zals for a snack.


It was nice not having to work yesterday so I was home for all my meals. It was a long day of studying but I broke up the day with lunch and an episode of Gilmore Girls. Lunch was a humongous salad, made with greens, avocado, tomato, sweet potato, cucumber, and topped with a little balsamic vinegar and mango peach salsa.


By mid-afternoon I was craving a little something sweet and had part of this chocolate oatmeal bar I bought at the farmer’s market this week. It. was. delicious.


And dinner was a scrumptious serving of a Bean and Barley Bake I made the other day (recipe at end of post). Seriously, this stuff is amazing!


I also had a pink lady apple along with dinner. Crispy, sweet perfection.


After getting home later that night from a group study session I had dessert before going to bed. I ended the night with some plain greek yogurt, fresh strawberries and some chocolate chips. Yum!

Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Make sure to pop on over to Peas and Crayons to see where this WIAW party always starts!

Bean and Barley Bake

Serves 6

Recipe adapted from Pinch of Yum


This dish was as beautiful as it was delicious! Here’s what you’ll need:

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 a large red onion, minced

2 jalapeños, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 and 1/4 cup of vegetable broth

1 cup of barley (measured uncooked)

1 tsp chili powder

A few sprinkles of crushed red pepper flakes

2 tsp of a blended herb mix

1 cup of cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup of sharp shredded cheddar cheese

To make this dish start by cooking the barley according to package directions.

While the barley is cooking, chop up the onion and jalapeños.

Then, heat a large saucepan to medium heat and add the oil. When the pan is heated, add the garlic, onion and jalapeños and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Now would be a good time to get your oven preheating, so set the temperature to 375 degrees.

After the five minutes are up, add in the beans and the vegetable broth to the pot, give everything a good stir, and bring to a boil. Allow the mixture to boil for about 5-7 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. If at the end of 5-7 minutes you still have excess liquid you can drain the rest out.

Once your barley is finished cooking (I had a ready-to-eat in 10 minute kind from Trader Joe’s!) and has been drained, stir in the seasonings to give the barley a bit of flavor.

Grease an 8X8 baking dish with non-stick spray, and start assembling the bake! First, layer the bottom of the dish with the bean and veggie mix.

Second, atop that layer add the herbed barley.

Finally, sprinkle over top the cherry tomatoes.

Place in the oven covered with tin foil, and cook for 10 minutes.

Then take the dish out of the oven, sprinkle with the shredded cheddar and place in the oven for another 10 minutes uncovered.

Once the 10 minutes are up, enjoy!



Sun-dried tomato and Jalapeño Quinoa Burgers

Who’s ready for another veggie burger recipe!? I know I am. Lately I cannot get enough of veggie burgers. I love the fact that they are quick and easy to make, always leave me with leftovers for the week, and are oh so tasty! I’ve made black bean, chickpea and brown rice sweet potato veggie burgers in the past, but this was the first time I used quinoa. And it was amazing.


These lovely burgers had a great texture. They were thick, chunky, chewy and had a bit of crunch from the quinoa! Delightful.


There are not a lot of ingredients in this recipe, but the sun-dried tomatoes and jalapeños along with the herbed quinoa really make these burgers’ flavor pop!


Topped with a little fresh avocado and a dollop of hummus and you’ll be in heaven.

Sun-dried Tomato, Jalapeño Quinoa Burgers

Makes 6 petite patties

1/2 cup quinoa (dry)

1 can black beans

1/8 cup chopped jalapeño peppers

1/4 cup sliced sun-dried tomatos

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp chives

1/2 tsp dried lemon peel

1/2 tsp tarragon

To make these burgers start by cooking the quinoa according to package directions. While the quinoa is simmering, add in the chives, dried lemon peel and tarragon to give it some flavor.

In a medium sized bowl, add the black beans and mash away. Mash the beans as much or as little as you want depending on the texture of the burger you prefer.

After your beans are at a consistency you like, add in the jalapeños, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic and stir to combine.

At this time start preheating your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with tin foil.

Once the quinoa is done cooking, let cool a few minutes before adding to the black bean bowl. When the quinoa/bean mixture has cooled down enough to touch, then form the mixture into patties and place on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 15 minutes, flipping the burgers about halfway in between. Enjoy!

Oatmeal forever,


What I Ate Wednesday #17

Happy Wednesday all! By the time this is posted I will only have two days of classes left in my first year of grad school. One more lecture and lab session for epidemiology, and one more lecture for food policy. Unbelievable. Then, a few exams and final papers are all that separates me from my trip to Italy!

Today I’m sharing my day of eats from Tuesday, and I’m glad to say I’ve actually tried some new recipes and adapted some favorites. Yay for variety!


For breakfast yesterday I had pumpkin pie oats and a orange chia juice on the side. It was all delicious! Oats were simply a half a cup of old fashioned oats, one ripe and sliced banana, about 1/2 cup of water, 1/4 cup of pumpkin, ~1 tsp of vanilla, a generous dash of both cinnamon and nutmeg, and finally topped with a little shredded coconut and maple syrup. Wow, it was delicious! And the drink I had along with it was a glass of orange juice that I mixed with 3 tsp of chia seeds and left in the fridge overnight so the seeds could absorb some of the liquid. My mom made a homemade drink inspired by the Mama Chia brand juices, and I thought I’d try my own with what I had on hand. I loved it. With the chewy chia seeds and all!


Mid-morning snack was a piece of toast with some golden plum preserves.


For lunch I photographed at home before I left for work! This was leftover Peanut Ginger Kale Salad with Tempeh.


I also filled up my snack taxis (of course!) and brought a little jar of peanut butter with me.


Inside one of the packs was an apple. The peanut butter was used to dip the apples in!


And in the other pack their was some pumpkin cornbread. Taste.


When I got home from class I made dinner right away. I had a plate of leftovers and assorted veggies. Also some bread and cilantro jalapeño hummus.


I ended up mashing the avocado on my bread, so it was essentially like a thick creamy spread of avocado. Let’s just say it won’t be the last time I do that!


I also had some greek yogurt with bran flakes and raisins on top. Yum yum!

Thanks to Jenn for hosting this lovely gathering over at Peas and Crayons!