Grilled Summer Salad with Corn, Peppers and Chili-Lime Dressing

Vegetarian grilled summer salad with fresh arugula, black beans and feta -

What day is it again? I went on a whirlwind trip to California this week. I flew west to sunny Sacramento on Monday afternoon and stepped back into heavy, humid Kansas City air on Wednesday night. In between those flights, I learned all about almonds (we even toured an almond orchard!), caught up with Erin, met some awesome dietitians and drank plenty of California wine, of course. I’ll tell you more about it later!

I wanted to share another use for coconut bacon, which I’ve been snacking on straight from the bag this morning. This delightful grilled salad fit the bill. It screams SUMMER, almost as loudly as the summer bugs’ non-stop outdoor orchestra performance. (I can hear them now. I’m sorry for mentioning them. Let’s talk salad.)

corn, bell pepper and cilantro

This sweet-and-spicy salad features peppery arugula, black beans, grilled peppers, corn and red onions, avocado and feta, tossed in homemade chili-lime dressing. The coconut bacon is a lovely accent here, but if you’re still skeptical or just plain in a hurry, feel free to substitute crispy tortilla strips or some crumbled tortilla chips. It’ll be fantastic either way!

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How to Make Coconut Bacon

How to make coconut bacon! Homemade, vegan

My dear, sweet, coconut bacon skeptics, hear me out. This vegan “bacon” is amazing! It’s crispy, sweet, salty and tastes just like the real deal, so don’t knock it til you try it! I could go on about it, but I think Cookie’s coconut bacon desperation says it all.

Granted, my dog loves kale and ate half a pack of gum when I was at yoga last week, but I’ve honestly never seen her work so hard for crumbs that aren’t meat. (And look at those irresistible fuzzy ears! She kills me.)

maple-tamari coconut bacon

I shared coconut bacon last year with my heirloom BLT salad recipe, but this stuff is so good that I decided it needed its own post. You can use it as an accent in any recipe that calls for crumbled bacon—salads, BLTs, you name it. It’s incredibly easy to make (it’ll take you 15 minutes, max) and you can freeze extra for later. Although, it’s hard not to eat all of this bacon as it comes out the oven. I dare you to try it!

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16 Recipes that Pack Well for Lunch

16 healthy recipes that pack well for lunch! All vegetarian.

A couple weeks ago, when I asked you all how I could make this website work better for you, I got quite a few requests for packable lunches. “Challenge accepted!” I thought, in my best Barney Stinson voice. Anything for you guys.

So below, you’ll find sixteen of my favorite recipes that pack well for lunch, plus relevant storage tips. All of the recipes are vegetarian, of course, and I’ve noted which ones are also gluten free and/or vegan. Since these recipes are all meatless and full of fresh produce, be sure to pack generous portions to stay fueled through the afternoon! I’m confident you can step up to that plate.

I typed up my best lunch-packing tips in my mason jar salad recipe earlier this week, so don’t miss that post. You can also check out/bookmark my brand new “pack for lunch” category, which includes the recipes below and some more dinner recipes that pack particularly well for lunch the next day.

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Mason Jar Chickpea, Farro and Greens Salad (& lunch packing tips!)

Mason jar chickpea, farro and greens salad made with pantry/refrigerator staples -

Can we talk about lunch today? Basic, necessary, weekday lunches? I work from home these days, but I learned a thing or two about packed lunches when I was commuting to an office job a few years ago. Even now, I like to keep my lunches really simple, for productivity’s sake.

parsley and celery

To state the obvious, lunch is important. Skipping lunch altogether is not a viable option. Coworkers will start giving you funny looks when your head is on the desk and your stomach is growling for help. (I speak from experience.) Also, why skip a perfectly good excuse to eat?

You also can’t completely overdo it at lunch… well, you can, and I totally understand the desire to indulge after a miserable morning. Assuming that your human body functions similarly to my human body, however, choosing fast food with fries or mac and cheese will suck the energy right out of you.

Here’s how it goes: the grease, carbs and all that tasty, tasty salt will probably leave you feeling jazzed for about an hour. Then your eyelids will start to feel verrrrrry heavy. You’ll start fantasizing about crawling under your desk for a little nap. “Will anyone notice?” you’ll wonder. “Just for a few minutes…”

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Caramelized Peach and Oat Pancakes

Peach and oat pancakes (gluten free) -

Ever watched a good peach go bad? It’s a real tragedy. Some gorgeous organic peaches withered away on my kitchen counter last week. Those peaches sprouted some unsightly fuzz as they waited their turn to be used in a blog recipe.

It’s my fault. I forgot how quickly a good peach can go bad. I still feel as though I’ve committed a grievous crime. It was, at minimum, a serious violation of my own summer peach policy. Better to eat a ripe peach over the sink than to let it go to waste. Right?

peach pancake ingredients

I’m practicing peach repentance with pancakes. Oat and yogurt-based pancakes that are fluffy, gluten free and gently spiced. Thinly sliced peaches caramelize against one side of the cakes once you flip them over.

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Brown Butter, Honey and Jalapeño Skillet Cornbread

Brown butter, honey, jalapeño and fresh corn cornbread -

I kind of hate myself for publishing another summer recipe that requires the oven. I hope you don’t hate me for it (but I understand if you do).

After 26 years in Oklahoma, I associate August with oppressive, unrelenting, oven-banning, 100-plus degree heat. And sweat. I don’t know if you can see the picture of me in the sidebar right now, but I have a whole lot of hair on my head. I feel like I’m wearing a wool turban at all times, which is to say that I’m not so cute when it’s 100 degrees outside. I’m mostly just cranky.

cornmeal muffin ingredients

The past two summers in Kansas City have been pleasant by comparison. This summer in particular has been gloriously mild. It’s seventy-eight degrees outside right now!

I don’t hate summer up here. I actually like it. No, I love it. I love the long days, the sunshine and the infectious energy in the air. This week, I got a hankering for some cornbread and turning on the oven didn’t seem like such a bad idea. Why not?

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