HAVE A HEART: Artichoke 101

3 Nov

How to pick and prepare an artichoke perfectly EVERY time.

But first, did you know…

…that artichokes are extremely high in nutrients and very low in calories?  (A medium choke has roughly 60 calories and is jam-packed with magnesium, potassium, vitamin C,  iron, and fiber)  Did you know that artichokes are also good for liver health and can help to soothe digestion??? Artichokes are normally in their peak from March-June, but sometimes you can find decent ones when it’s not prime time. Eat up!

How to pick em:

Even Green.

Tight Leaves.

Firm and Heavy.

If you squeeze the choke and it squeaks, that’s a good sign as well.

I also think that one of the most important thing when buying artichokes is finding ones with thick stems. Sometimes the stems even taste really good, so throw them in the pot with your chokes and give them a shot. 

Remember this little mantra next time you are on a choke hunt:

The bigger the stem, the bigger the heart

The bigger the heart, the meatier each part


Chop of the stems as close to the bottom of the choke as you can, then cut about 1.5-2″ off the top of the choke. Trim the leaves and top of choke.

Rinse the artichoke well

Place your steaming basket inside a large pot with about ½ inch of HOT water covering the bottom. Place artichokes leaves down(stem-side up) into the basket and cook covered on medium high heat for 45 minutes.

Turn off the heat, take the lid off the pot, and let the chokes sit for 5-10 minutes (still upside-down) in the steamer basket…this allows all excess water o drain

Stab them with a fork, put them on a plate, and enjoy with butter!!



19 Oct

Well, I made it.  Sorry for not blogging last week…I have been SO BUSY with my new job 🙂 It’s vegan week 4,  and right now I see no reason to stop.  I haven’t counted calories in a month which has been AMAZING, and I feel generally lighter, happier, and healthier. Getting brunch this past Sunday in Fort Collins was a total pain, but that aside it has been pretty easy being a vegan in Denver, Colorado.

Breakfast Fun:

Vegan Potato, Green Chilli, and Black Bean Burritos


Same ole story…LEFTOVERS!


Vegan Quiche with Lemony Cucumber, Almond, and Arugula Salad

Barbecue Seitan, Broccoli and Bok Choy with Quinoa and Artichoke

Spinach Linguine with Zucchini, Portabellos, and Tomatoes in Edamame Pesto

Vegan Pizza: vegan cheese (Daiya), sautéed mushrooms and sweet onion, organic tomato sauce, and homemade olive and kale tapenade

Noteworthy Sweet Treats:

hehe, that’s right….animal crackers…nomnom


6 Oct

The third week has come to an end and I feel even better than last week. I feel lighter (lost 5lbs) and definitely have more energy. I feel healthy, I really do. One negative-i feel like i’m running out of recipes and ideas. This week I experimented with tempeh…it came out really good. This coming week I’m going to give seitan a shot. I’ll keep you all posted!!

The books that have been inspiring me:

This is what my fridge looks like after a weekend of grocery shopping vegan-style 😉

Breakfast this week:

English muffin and peanut butter, oatmeal with almonds and raisins, english muffin and avocado with tomato


Leftovers!!! My favorite lunch was a wrap I made with my leftover buffalo tempeh, spring mix, avocado, YUM!

Dinners: See the best from the week below…

Vegan Pad Thai with Toasted Peanuts

Buffalo Tempeh ‘Wings’ with Steamed Asparagus

Mushroom Tibs with Steamed Broccoli and Wild Rice

I have been super busy at work so I will post the recipes this weekend!! If you want them beforehand just send me a message 🙂 Enjoy!

Wall Art

30 Sep

Fun times at the antique store this past weekend…


A new addition to our expansive art collection, and boy is it going to be fun to fill!

Lentil, Mushroom, and Eggplant Chili Mole

29 Sep


Thanks again Appetite for Reduction for this great recipe and inspiration!

serves 6, active time 15 minutes, total time 1 hour

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, cut into medium dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into medium dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon mild chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup dried green lentils, washed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • One (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 package of diced baby bella mushrooms!
  • 2 teaspoons amber agave nectar or pure maple syrup
  • Cilantro, for garnish


Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions and bell pepper in the oil until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute, using nonstick cooking spray or a splash of water if it’s sticking. Mix in the chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, cinnamon, and salt. Add n cup of the vegetable broth and the cocoa powder, and cook for about 1 more minute while stirring to dissolve the cocoa. 

Add the lentils, remaining vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, and eggplant. Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil, keeping a close eye on it. Once it’s boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes, or until the lentils are tender and the eggplant is soft. Mix in the agave. Taste for salt and seasoning

Let the chili sit for 10 minutes or so for maximum flavor. Serve garnished with cilantro, if you like. 

Serve with Vegan Cornbread  (I added jalapeno and scallions to this recipe for a kick!)

For more Vegan inspiration and recipes, check out my 30-day challenge!

Vegan Week 1

Vegan Week 2

Lasagna with Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta and Spinach

29 Sep

Below is Isa’s recipe with my tweaks! This is such a great take on lasagna, LOVE!


serves 6, active time 45 minutes, total time 1 1/2 hours

The Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta:

  • 1 medium-size head cauliflower (11/2 to 2 pounds), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound extra-firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper 

The Red Sauce:

  • One (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (I also added some fresh chopped  basil)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 

To Assemble:

  • 8 ounces lasagna noodles, broken in half, cooked in salted water (I used a peppercorn trio lasagna noodle from Papardelles Pasta in Colorado…next time I’ll try their roasted red pepper lasagna noodle)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh spinach (I also added some fresh kale and roasted garlic cloves and sautéed the spinach and kale first with some onion)
  • 1/4 cup chopped black olives 

The Process:

 First, we’ll roast the cauliflower. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; that way the cauliflower won’t stick. Place the cauliflower on the sheet and drizzle the oil over it. Spray it with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Toss it with your hands to make sure everything is salted. Spread the cauliflower in a single layer and bake for 10 minutes, then flip it with a spatula. You don’t have to flip each and every one, so don’t get OCD about it. Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned, tender, and toasty. Get your water boiling for your lasagna noodles at the same time you preheat the oven…this will save you prep time.

In the meantime, crumble the tofu into a mixing bowl. Use your hands to mash the tofu, squeezing it between your fingers, until it has the consistency of ricotta cheese. Add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, pepper, and remaining salt. Use a fork to mix well.

When the cauliflower is done, transfer it to the mixing bowl with the tofu mixture. Use a potato masher to mash it really well, for a minute or so. If it doesn’t seem to be mashing enough with the potato masher, a few pulses in the food processor (food processor was how I did it) should get it nice and crumbly. Set aside. 

To prepare the sauce, mix all its ingredients together and set aside.

 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour a thin layer of red sauce on the bottom of an 8-inch square casserole. Line with a layer of noodles. Spread with one-third of the cauliflower ricotta. Layer with 3/4 cup of spinach leaves. Pour on about a cup of sauce.

 Repeat the process one more time, creating another identical layer, starting with the noodles. For the top layer it’s just a little different: Layer with noodles, pour the sauce on first, then layer with ricotta. This layer doesn’t get any spinach. Sprinkle with a (generous) layer of (black) olives and press it into the tofu. 

Bake for 40 minutes, until the top is browned. You can serve it immediately or let it cool down for a bit first, whatever floats your boat! 

 What do you think of this take on cheese????

For more Vegan inspiration and recipes, check out my 30-day challenge!

Vegan Week 1

Vegan Week 2


29 Sep

Weekend one was a little rough, but I made it! Watching people eat pizza was slightly agonizing, but now that I am back into the weekday routine, vegan eating has been a breeze! It’s mid-week and I’m feeling energized, healthy, and really positive. I have also been cooking a TON which has helped keep my meals fun and interesting- I think that may just be the key to long-term vegan eating.

If you havent heard of her already, Isa Chandra Moskowitz is an amazing author and vegan cook. Several of the dishes below are tweaked versions of recipes from her book,  Appetite for Reduction. So far I am very pleased with everything I have cooked from this book- it’s a total winner!


Van’s vegan waffles, raspberries, agave

  • Ezekiel english muffins with tofutti and heirloom tomatoes
  • Oatmeal with stevia, almonds, and raisins


  • 89% Leftovers!
  • I also have had a few salad-like roll ups with vegan Boca burger in a tortilla


Lentil and Eggplant Red Mole Chilli with Vegan Jalapeno Cornbread

Cauliflower ‘Ricotta’ and Spinach Lasagna

Deconstructed Veggie Sushi Bowl with Poki Sauce

Olive, Zucchini, and Mushroom Soft Tacos with Guacamole

Recipes to follow!! 🙂


21 Sep

I decided to embark on a vegan adventure this month because I wanted to know how I would feel with all animal protein eliminated from my diet. Seeing the movie Forks over Knives originally ignited my interest in a plant-based diet, and I was intrigued by the theory that food and diet can help reverse disease.  So cheers to a month of healthier eating, Ill keep you posted each week! 

Typical Breakfast:

Oatmeal, Stevia, Almonds and Raisins OR

Ezekiel Sprouted Grain English Muffin with Tofutti, Basil, and Tomato


My mid-day meal has been primarily leftovers from dinner the night before. I have also been snacking on apples, berries, nuts, hummus, carrots, and arugula with balsamic mmm

I also made a quick chickpea, tomato, basil, red onion and balsamic salad for a hearty snack

Highlighted Dinners:

Night One: Soy and Balsamic Marinated Portabellos with spicy stewed tomatoes tossed with brown rice pasta

Night Two: Hearty Vegetable Soup with Garlic Flatbreads and Lemony Arugula

Night Three: Spaghetti Squash, Vegan Sausage, chickpeas, stewed tomatoes

To keep me  feeling refreshed and pampered: Chilled Lemon Mint Water

How do I feel? Very positive  about this experience, and I  haven’t craved cheese yet.  I also seem to have a bit more energy 🙂

Coconut Soy Banana Pancakes

15 Sep

This is so easy and such a yummy breakfast option.


2 c  heart healthy bisquick

2 eggs

splash of mexican vanilla

1 c soy milk

1/2 c sliced bananas

Earth balance coconut spread

Use coconut spread as your oil. Get your pan nice and hot and add a few banana slices to the pan. Pour about 1/4 c batter on top on bananas and wait until the batter starts to bubble. FLIP AND REPEAT!

Re-coconut the pan in between pancakes. Serve with extra banana slices and some maple agave nectar.

Grilled Chicken Caprese Sandwich

30 Aug

Before summer is officially over I urge you to enjoy a simple grilled sandwich out on your porch. Accompany with a little red wine, great conversation, and some fabulous music. Finish with a square of organic dark chocolate for dessert.

Grilled Chicken Caprese Sandwich

serves 2

1 demi loaf of crusty french bread

2 vine ripened tomatoes, sliced

fresh basil

.5lbs of thinly fileted organic chicken, seasoned with S+P

sliced  organic mozzerella cheese

balsamic drizzle to taste

Drizzle your bread with a little EVOO, grill your chicken, and then layer all ingredients on the bread with cheese on top. Shut the grill, let the magic happen, plate and drizzle with balsamic.

I served with grilled artichokes. YUM!

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