Last Wednesday I was reading blogs in bed before I started my day. I haven’t felt the urge to bake lately. Not that I ever really feel the urge to bake, but everyone once in a while a recipe comes along and I think, I have to make that right now! This was one of those recipes. It was for these one bowl carrot apple muffins from the Minimalist Baker. She had me at one bowl and suddenly this gluten-free, vegan carrot bread was born.
IMG 7552 1024x768 Carrot Bread

So I went downstairs and got started only to realize about half way through that I didn’t have all the ingredients. But, what I ended up creating tasted delicious enough to share. Please click on the link above if you want to original recipe but here are a few of the substitutions I made to prove that this recipe is adaptable as it is delicious.

I omitted the brown sugar completely because I didn’t have any.
I replaced the brown sugar with an additional tablespoon of maple syrup and added one full banana instead of the called for 1/3 cup to add sweetness.
I used applesauce because I had just enough leftover that needed using up.
I swapped the almond meal for cashew meal.
I didn’t have gluten-free flour (!) so I used 1/4 cup of gluten-free pancake mix and 3/4 of a cup of brown rice flour. I was worried about this substitution but the bread turned out great. It did crumble a little while the bread was warm but held together fine after it cooled.
I added a teaspoon of allspice.
I used almonds instead of walnuts.
Oh, and grease the pan before you make this. I didn’t add it to my directions but it’s an important step!

IMG 7551 1024x768 Carrot Bread

It may seem like a lot of substitutions but I assume the overall taste is pretty similar to the original recipe. I gobbled this up for breakfast and as snacks over the last couple of days. I recommend it with a little butter or apricot jam, if you have some.

Carrot Cake Loaf (vegan, gluten-free)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flax seed meal + 4 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 mashed banana, I used a frozen banana that I thawed
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup + 1 additional tablespoon
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2/3 cup gluten-free oats
  • 1/4 cup cashew meal
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free pancake mix
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Combine flaxseed meal and water, let stand 5 minutes.
  3. Combine all ingredients from olive oil through carrots, stir well.
  4. Next add flaxseed egg, oats, cashew meal, brown rice flour, pancake batter to carrot mixture, stir until well combine.
  5. Top with slivered almonds.
  6. Let cook for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.
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Sorry for the radio silence. I was feeling a little uninspired over the last month and decided to take a blogging break instead of posting half-assed recipes. Plus, let’s be honest, summer fruit is SO good right now, that’s pretty much all I’m eating anyway. Every week we go to the store and I buy one catalope, one watermelon, a carton of strawberries, a carton of blueberries, a few nectarines and some apples. By the end of the week I’ve demolished everything! I can’t even blame Michael because he really doesn’t eat that much fruit, so it’s all me. When I can tear myself away from the fruit-fest, we’ve also been eating these delicious tostadas.

IMG 7536 1024x768 Tostadas!

It all started on Saturday afternoon when we went to a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican place in Lohi. I got the tostada which was somewhat reminiscent of the tostadas my roommates and I used to get in college at this awesome restaurant in Chico called La Comida.

Let me digress for a moment to talk about La Comida which I still dream about to this day, even though I haven’t been there in 10 years. La Comida was a staple for us college kids. What seemed like a weekly occurrence, we’d all pile into someone’s car and drive over to the restaurant for lunch. It was one of those places where if you mentioned you were going, you had 5 other people tagging along just like that. Mainly because, for $5 you could get a tostada the size of your head, granted it was mostly lettuce, but it was the perfect lunch paired with their delicious salsa and chips.

Saturday’s tostada wasn’t quite up to La Comida standards and I knew I could do better, so Saturday evening we piled in the car (okay there were only two of us but it’s a small car!) and went to the store to get all the fixings.

Michael didn’t seem all that excited about the prospect of tostadas but went along with my excitement. Once home I got to work. I toasted the tostada shells with a little cheese. Made some creamy refried beans by adding a little almond milk because the beans have to be soft and creamy, and for good measure I added a second tostada shell so it also resembled a Taco Bell Mexican pizza. I used tons of shredded lettuce and piled on tomatoes, bell peppers, green onions, avocado and olives.

IMG 7540 768x1024 Tostadas!

We devoured these tostadas and I mean devoured them. Michael professed it was the best meal I’d made in months. We loved them so much that we had the same thing for dinner on Sunday night and probably would have had them on Monday as well had we not run out of tostada shells.

If you’re looking for a seriously no fuss summer dinner, that’s also filling, try these tostadas! If you’re now craving a La Comida tostada as I’m sure some of you are, I’m sorry, but these might help with the craving.

IMG 7541 1024x1024 Tostadas!

Tostadas!

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 tostadas

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 8 tostada shells
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 can vegetarian refried beans
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 cup almond milk
  • 4 tablespoon sour cream, vegan or otherwise (optional but recommended)
  • 1 package of shredded iceberg lettuce or shred your own
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • Hot sauce of your choice

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat, saute diced onion and salt for 2 minutes. They should still have a crunch, you're just sweating out the raw onion flavor.
  2. Set broiler to low, place tostada shells on a cookie sheet so all 8 shells are flat. Sprinkle cheese on each shell. Place under broiler for 1-2 minutes until cheese melts, watch carefully.
  3. While onions are cooking, place beans in a stockpot, add chili powder, cumin and almond milk. You want the beans to be almost soupy so use up to a 1/2 cup of almond milk to thin it out. Last, put the cooked onions in the beans and stir well.
  4. When shells are out of the oven, place one shell cheese side up on a plate. Cover with beans, then place another shell cheese side down, on top.
  5. Cover both tostadas with more beans. Top with sour cream and some hot sauce.
  6. Pile on lettuce, tomatoes, olives, onions and avocado.
  7. Finish with hot sauce or salsa.
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A roundup of what’s been happening lately around these parts.

I’m reading The Goldfinch and have been for the past month icon smile Lately I’m about 3/4ths of the way through. I can’t say I’m loving it. I sort of want to shake the main character out of frustration. Anyone else read or reading it?
IMG 7448 1024x1024 Lately

We saw a showing of Second City downtown last weekend. It was HILARIOUS! Michael had seen them perform in Chicago but they were new to me. Laughing that much in a 3 hour period makes me realize that I don’t laugh nearly enough on a daily basis.
IMG 7486 768x1024 Lately

Has anyone else heard of Duolingo? I found out about it from a 2014 trends report I was reading for work. It’s a really fun way to get back into languages. I’m re-learning my high school French.

Guy has taken to sleeping in the window frame in the afternoon sun. This can’t be comfortable but he seems fairly content.
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Ahhh, cherries! They’re back in season and amazing as ever.
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I took a three day running break late last week and made my way back into the studio for two classes. Holy hell it felt good and my run on Saturday morning was amazing. The power of rest!

I’ve never cooked kohlrabi before but made some last week. Delicious alternative to sweet potatoes with bbq ranch and quinoa on the side.
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Really good mango smoothie with hemp seeds last week. I’m currently obsessed with all things mango.
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I’m also going crazy over the World Cup. My dad was a huge soccer fan and we grew up to his cheers and screams while watching whatever soccer match was on at the moment. I find myself screaming at the TV in just the same manner now. That US v. Portugal game nearly killed me. Heartbreaker.

Andy, Cathy, Michael and I made in to Linger finally. The service was awful but the food, once we got it, was delicious. This is the beet salad. I also had an unpictured tofu steamed bun that was some of the best food I’ve had lately.
IMG 7494 1024x768 Lately

Enjoy and Exhale!

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Last we left our little garden at the beginning of May, things were just starting to take root, pun intended. We’ve had a lot of rain as I mentioned last week but also some sunshine. That combo has proven to be very fruitful (ah, on a pun roll). Here is my how does your garden grow update.

A couple of side by side comparisons for you.

By far our big grower is the cilantro, it’s sort of out of control. It grew so big, so fast that we had to stake it like a tomato plant. It seems to have stopped growing and is no longer creating cilantro as much as what I think is coriander seeds. I may harvest these but need to do some research.
cilantro 1024x512 How Does Your Garden Grow Update

Other big growers, the tomatoes. These are the second batch we planted, after the snow storm. They have very few tomatoes compared to our potted tomatoes below. But the growth is impressive.
tomatoes 1024x512 How Does Your Garden Grow Update

IMG 7508 768x1024 How Does Your Garden Grow Update

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Bad lighting for the rosemary but it’s growing steadily.
rosemary 1024x512 How Does Your Garden Grow Update

Yay for kale. We’ve been enjoying our homemade kale leaves for dinner over the last few weeks.
kale 1024x512 How Does Your Garden Grow Update

Garden bounty.
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The swiss chard is gorgeous with its colored stems. We’ve been eating this steamed for dinner as well.
IMG 7501 1024x768 How Does Your Garden Grow Update

The zucchini plant is growing but I haven’t seen any evidence of actual zucchini or blossoms yet.
IMG 7502 768x1024 How Does Your Garden Grow Update

The peppers and jalapeno plants have both started to flower.
IMG 7503 768x1024 How Does Your Garden Grow Update

We planted a second basil plant a few weeks ago after our first one all but died. It seems to be doing okay. We also had some random plants pop up in one of the pots the old tenants left. We moved the plant to the ground after a few weeks. The pretty orange and yellow flowers in the background are the mystery plant. So beautiful. Does anyone know what kind of flowers those are?
IMG 7506 768x1024 How Does Your Garden Grow Update

Overall I’m really pleased with our little garden. Every evening after work Michael and I head outside to visit our “family”. It’s fun to see the progress and reap the rewards. I’m looking forward to fresh tomato salads with basil. We didn’t do anything special when we planted. We bought a bag of soil and followed the instructions on each plant. We’re not using any fertilizer or Miracle Grow, nothing really seems to need it.

If you live in Colorado hit me up in about 3 weeks, I’m pretty sure I’m going to have more tomatoes than I know what to do with. And if you know anything about coriander seeds, I’m all ears.

Enjoy and Exhale!

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It’s summer and all I want to eat are quinoa salads. Hence why you’ve seen two quinoa salad posts in a row. I can’t get enough. I’ve had quinoa every night this week. I think it’s the ease of preparation and the fact that it’s light but still filling that’s got me. Although it doesn’t take much to convince me to eat quinoa. This is a down and dirty lunch: quinoa salad. I made it in 5 minutes between a conference call and reviewing a presentation.

IMG 0107 775x1024 Down and Dirty Lunch: Quinoa Salad

It’s crazy flavorful and perfect in the warm weather. As an aside, this is not the summer I signed up for. It’s not nearly hot enough and every afternoon the sky clouds over, the thunder rolls and the rain falls. I like the rain as much as the next person and I love a good thunderstorm but not every afternoon. I want heat. I want sunshine. I think everyone claiming 300 days of sunshine a year in Colorado was full of it or was counting the few hours in the morning when the sun shines.

If we ever get another nice, sunny afternoon this would also be the perfect meal for a picnic. Minus the cheese it could stay out on a picnic table for hours and still taste heavenly.

IMG 0108 1024x768 Down and Dirty Lunch: Quinoa Salad

Speaking of cheese, feel free to omit if you’d like. It does not make the dish. I just happen to eye a little block of swiss cheese in the fridge as I was pulling out the rest of the ingredients for this salad and thought it sounded good so I included it.

IMG 0110 1024x778 Down and Dirty Lunch: Quinoa Salad

Also, I used a little Trader Joe’s bruschetta mix as the dressing plus a little salt and good balsamic. If you don’t have a pre-packaged mix in your fridge (like me 95% of the time) mix up some olive oil, balsamic, lemon and salt and you’re good to go. I also recommend using fresh basil if you have it. The second basil plant in our garden looks to be going the same way as our first so I’m trying to use up what I can. I don’t know why I can’t seem to keep basil alive, everything else is thriving. More on our garden’s progress soon.

Down and Dirty Lunch: Quinoa Salad

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1 salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons green onion, sliced
  • 1/2 roasted red pepper (from the jar) sliced finely
  • 2 tablespoons cubed cheese
  • 5 chiffonade basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Trader Joe's bruschetta mix
  • 1 tablespoon good quality balsamic
  • Dash of salt

Instructions

  1. Place quinoa, vegetables and cheese in a bowl.
  2. Chiffonade your basil, this just means, roll up your leaves tightly then cut them into thin strips.
  3. Add bruschetta mix, balsamic and salt.
  4. Stir well.
  5. Eat cold.
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Last Monday we made a Trader Joe’s run and every night thereafter we had frozen food for dinner. After the third night I got tired of my laziness and whipped up this summer quinoa salad inspired loosely by this salad from Iowa Girl Eats. It takes a bit longer to make then a Trader Joe’s enchilada but it’s full of fresh summer flavors and vegetables.

IMG 7430 1024x1024 Summer Quinoa Salad with Vegan BBQ Mayo

To add some extra flavor to the quinoa I added a veggie bouillon cube to the water. As I prepared the dish I tossed the beans and vegetables with garlic salt. I somehow forgot about the extra salt the cube would lend to the dish and when I went to taste the completed dish it was a little too salty for my taste. Michael loves salt and didn’t seem to mind.

IMG 7427 768x1024 Summer Quinoa Salad with Vegan BBQ Mayo

That’s where the lettuce comes in. I tossed in a half package of mixed greens to add a bit more bulk and spread the salt a bit. I really liked the salad greens with the quinoa. Happy accident!

To top off the recipe I made a vegan BBQ mayo dressing. So simple, just three ingredients: vegan mayo, BBQ sauce and a splash of almond milk. It might be my new favorite dressing of the summer.

IMG 7432 1024x910 Summer Quinoa Salad with Vegan BBQ Mayo

Quinoa Summer Salad with BBQ Mayo Sauce (vegan, gluten-free)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • For the quinoa:
  • 1 cup rinsed quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • For the salad:
  • 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 cup tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • Dash of cayenne
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 package of greens of choice ( I used mixed greens)
  • For the dressing:
  • 4 tablespoons vegan mayo (my favorite is Veganaise)
  • 1.5 tablespoon BBQ sauce of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk

Instructions

  1. Rinse quinoa and place in a stockpot, add water and bouillon cube. Cook over high heat until water comes to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook quinoa for 10-15 minutes until all water is absorbed and quinoa tails sprout.
  2. While quinoa cooks, rinse beans, place in a large bowl with remaining salad ingredients.
  3. When the quinoa is done, toss with beans and vegetables.
  4. Lastly, add lettuce, stir well.
  5. To make the dressing, mix mayo, BBQ sauce and almond milk until smooth.
  6. Drizzle over quinoa salad.
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I’ve gone through some evolutions of my favorite alcoholic drink over the years.

My freshmen year of college I gravitated to the usual culprits: highlife beers, cheap rum and an ill-fated encounter with peppermint schnapps which I never fully recovered from.

Sophomore year I went through a strange Alize phase that I don’t fully understand.

Junior year it was the screwdriver, followed shortly thereafter my senior year by vodka crans.

Once I graduated I finally realized that I didn’t need all that sugar and vodka sodas with a squeeze of lime became my drink of choice. There they’ve stayed at the top of my list for years and have become the only hard liquor drink I’ll really consume beyond the occasional vodka martini.

IMG 73311 1024x768 Sage Infused Vodka Sodas

Today I’m putting a little spin on my favorite cocktail: sage infused vodka sodas. I made the sage infused simple syrup to jazz up an otherwise plain drink. As I mentioned last week, it’s somewhat reminiscent of a green flavored popsicle but without the green dye.

IMG 7340 1024x941 Sage Infused Vodka Sodas

If you don’t have sage, feel free to substitute mint, thyme, rosemary, pretty much any herb will do. Also, let the simple syrup cool and thicken before adding it to the drink. It makes for a more flavorful cocktail. I personally also liked this with crushed iced, it reminded me of a Moscow mule sans the metal cup.

Cheers.

IMG 7342 789x1024 Sage Infused Vodka Sodas

Sage Infused Vodka Sodas

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 4 vodka sodas

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed sage leaves
  • Crushed ice
  • 3 ounces of your favorite vodka (I'm partial to Kettle one)
  • 1.5 cups soda water
  • Squeeze of lime (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place water in a stockpot over medium heat.
  2. Bring to a boil then add sugar and sage leaves. Reduce heat to low, stir until sugar dissolves completely.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool. The mixture will thicken in about 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, add ice, vodka and soda water to a glass.
  5. Pour in 1 tablespoon of thickened sage infused simple syrup.
  6. Finish with a squeeze of lime and a sage leaf for garnish.
  7. Note: you'll have enough simple syrup for several drinks depending on how sweet you want them.
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Week Cap 14:

Beet juice.
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Deluxe Baked Potato with Cilantro yogurt sauce
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Finally tried the famous Hillstone veggie burger. The veggie burger from The South End Buttery in Boston is way better but the bun was delectable.
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We had a big thunder storm last week. Eli doesn’t like thunder.
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I got around to making these sage infused vodka sodas after I couldn’t get them off my mind last week. They taste like a green popsicle. Recipe to come.
IMG 7331 1024x768 Week Cap 14

Michael and Eli pre-run.
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We ran over to Mile High and did stairs the other day in the parking lot.

Up.
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And down.
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Saturday we went to the Boulder Street Farmers market and ran into Andy.
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It was warm so Eli found some shade next to a food truck.
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We also ate at Michael’s cousin’s mom’s food truck. If you’re in the Denver area you should check her out!
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This is the O.T. go bowl. So good after a run.
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We couldn’t be too healthy so we ate the bowl with fries.
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We’ve been summer BBQ’ing.
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This is the best kombucha I've ever had. It's local to Boulder, not sure if it's distributed elsewhere, but definitely pick one up if you see it in a store around you.
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Eli’s been coming into work with me. He’s the best co-pilot. I just wish he counted as a second person for the carpool lane.
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If you’ve known me at any point in my life, you know that this is my favorite dessert. Chocolate chips or chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Every. single. night.
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I’m also loving these ginger snaps. They come from Cost-Plus which means I only get them every once in a while because, who goes to Cost Plus on the regular?
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Enjoy and Exhale!

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I’m a total summer girl who is joyfully welcoming the warmer weather. I feel most energized and happy during these warmer months, taking full advantage of the extra light and the sun on my shoulders.

As much as I loathe my commute from Denver to Boulder, I am starting to find the perks of working on the edge of the foothills, weekday hiking! Never would I have guessed that I’d have access to so many running and hiking trails, so close to my office.

IMG 7384 768x1024 Weekday Hiking

In order to wait out the commute in the evenings I’ve been going on after work hikes instead of runs. I love running but sometimes a good hike just feels better. I’ve been on three in the last week and a half. I’ve been bringing Eli into the office with me so he can enjoy some exercise at the end of the day as well.

Within minutes, my computer and work emails seem very far away as I travel up into the hills.

IMG 7385 1024x768 Weekday Hiking

Yesterday, Eli and I hiked the Salinas Valley Trail. The paths go in every direction for miles. We hiked for a little over an hour. It was a really warm day so we took breaks for Eli to do a lot of this.

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You can easily run these paths as well, which I’ve also been taking advantage of. Sure beats running on the sidewalk next to traffic.

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The views are stunning.
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Even Eli thought so.
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Although he made it known that he was very tired and thirsty.
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It makes me happy that we live here with access to all this.
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Have a great Wednesday and if you can, get out for some weekday hiking. icon smile Weekday Hiking

Enjoy and Exhale!

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I have a lot of memories of cooking from when I was a child. Most of them include my father, however there are a few that don’t. These include:

1.) Making a “stock” with my sister which really just included putting a bunch of herbs into water and bringing it to a boil. It smelled heavenly and tasted like herby water. We used the same approach when making “perfume”, putting a bunch of our neighbor’s rose petals into water and leaving out on the back deck to meld. Both were epic fails.

2.) Attempting what I think was a lemon meringue pie. Again with my sister, my best friend Clare and our neighbor Nicole. We spilled a full cup of sugar on the floor and didn’t understand what the recipe meant when it called for beating the egg whites into stiff peaks. When my dad got home you could literally hear the crunch of the uncleaned up sugar beneath his shoes. He was unimpressed. Another fail. I wonder if Sarah remembers either of these instances?

3.) The last cooking memory inspired this salad. I don’t know where the original recipe came from. So many of my childhood memories are hazy but for some reason this one is sharp and in focus. I remember slicing the strawberries, adding the zest and juice and devouring it. Success!

IMG 73661 1024x841 Strawberry Salad (vegan, gluten free)

It took me over 20 years to attempt this recipe again but it was worth the wait. Last weekend we went to Safeway hungry, which led us to believe we needed a whole crate of strawberries. As the week wore on we’d made a very small dent in the fruit. To be honest they were a little tart seeing that it’s still early in the season. I put a few in our morning smoothies but by Saturday night I knew it was now or the freezer.

IMG 7368 1024x777 Strawberry Salad (vegan, gluten free)

That’s when this strawberry salad recipe came rushing back to me. I added a little mint and if you’re feeling saucy you can also add a thickened, good quality balsamic but Michael didn’t think it needed it.

He loved it just as it was. I loved it. And the 8 years old in the kitchen probably would have smiled if she could glance 20 some odd years into the future and see adult Lisa making this same dish.

IMG 7371 768x1024 Strawberry Salad (vegan, gluten free)

Strawberries are in season, and it’s a short season. Get on it!

Strawberry Salad (vegan, gluten-free)

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of strawberries, quartered
  • 3 tablespoons of orange zest
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped

Instructions

  1. Cut your strawberries into quarters and place in a bowl.
  2. Zest orange and lemon over strawberries.
  3. Squeeze orange juice and lemon juice into bowl.
  4. Sprinkle sugar and salt into bowl.
  5. Chop up mint leaves and add to strawberries.
  6. Stir well.
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Enjoy and Exhale!

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