Hungry Haley

it's more than food

Grilled Turkey, Gouda, and Greens Sandwich

Lunch, SandwichHaley HansenComment

This is more than just a grilled cheese with extra protein and thick-sliced bread. 

I look at it as a reflection of my growth, and also my return to... me. Throughout the past couple of years, I've gone through several shifts in not just my diet, but also my relationship with food and my body. Going from highly restrictive eater (for 2-3 years), to vegetarian (for 6 months), to vegan (for almost 2 years) took a heavy toll on my sense of self that I didn't realize until now. 

Letting food dictate my life, I lost a lot of energy for my passions - cooking (and cooking all foods), exercising, reading, writing, and more. I'm not trying to be a Debbie-Downer in any way, but rather an encouragement, so let's get to that part. 

Grilled Turkey, Gouda, and Greens Sandwich

I've said before that I finally feel more and more like the girl whom God desires me to be, but I have to say it again because it just feels so true. It's not that I feel like who I used to be because who I used to be never knew such freedom. Who I used to be never felt such peace. Who I used to be never thought she could know and love a self like the self God has introduced to her. 

Growth in such a way - one that pulls you FAR out of a comfort zone - can be absolutely terrifying. First, it can feel like a potential destruction of your reputation, whatever that be. Then, it can feel totally, completely, almost painfully uncomfortable (duh). And finally, with faith, it will - yes, WILL - feel... well, right. 

Grilled Turkey, Gouda, and Greens Sandwich

Anyway, I don't want to be all serious in this post because borrrrrrrring. Also, I just read through Bon Appetit's latest issue, in which writers reveal and discuss the top 10 restaurants in America, the #1 of which happens to be a dive-y sandwich place that serves stacks of mayo + tomato + sunflower seeds + herbs and riffs on bologna sandwiches that actually taste good and other mind-boggling, mouth-watering items I couldn't stop reading and raving about yesterday as I laid on the beach with my friends (who were way less than interested in the funky sandwiches). 

I closed the magazine feeling inspired and hungry for not just sandwiches, but spiced up sandwiches that re-create old favorites and tell their stories with every bite full of flavors and textures. When making this sandwich, I had none of that. Really. It was kind of just a sandwich (in contrast to the first line of this post) that I threw together because the combinations sounded good that day. Now, though, as I reflect, I see that it was both unintentional and intentional - unintentional on my part, and intentional on God's. HA wow. Ain't that crazy? 

It's deli turkey and cheese stuffed between slices of thick bread and grilled, but it's more than that, too. Ten years ago, this was my childhood self's absolute favorite sandwich (made by Mom, of course), and was usually served beside Campbell's tomato soup for dipping. Five years ago, the cheese would've been removed because dairy has fat (and that fat was seen as "bad" by the self that consumed me at the time) and no oil would've been used to grill and create a buttery crisp. One year ago, no sandwich would've even existed in my diet because, well, because turkey and cheese are not vegan. 

Ahhhhhh! My heart is unbelievably happy with this seemingly simple sandwich because it shines the spotlight on the work of God's hands that removed a controlling diet mentality and a paralyzing fear of foods. 

Grilled Turkey, Gouda, and Greens Sandwich

What is representing you growth lately?! Tell me more below!

Makes 1 sandwich

3-4 oz. sliced deli turkey
1 oz. smoked gouda
1-2 tbsp. honey mustard (regular mustard works)
Your favorite greens (I used collard greens)
2 thick slices whole-grain bread
Oil or butter, for the pan

  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat with oil or butter. 
  2. On both slices of bread, spread even amounts of honey mustard. On one slice, lay the cheese, then greens, then turkey and place this slice into the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover.
  3. Cook until cheese is mostly melted and top with the other slice of bread. Flip the sandwich, carefully and using a spatula, and cook on the other side until golden brown and crisp. 
  4. Remove from heat and slice in half. Serve immediately. 
  5. Enjoy!
Grilled Turkey, Gouda, and Greens Sandwich

Easy Falafel Salad w/ Tahini Dressing (Vegan, GF)

Salad, Lunch, VeganHaley HansenComment

There's just something about wearing an apron that makes me feel - excuse my French - baaaaaada$$. 

That feeling used to come from my track uniform/workout clothes (high school years). And before that, it was my keychain with my car keys on it (teenage years). Anything before that doesn't fit into my memory anymore, so don't ask. 

But, back to the apron. My mom always used to ask me, whenever we'd begin prepping for dinner, if I wanted to put one on, too. "Ehh, no I'm okay", I'd respond, not really seeing the point in wearing one unless we planned to throw flour at each other or something. 

Lately, though, I've worn my apron almost every single day. Every. Single. Day. And I refuse to take it off until absolutely necessary. In other words, I'm tied up in my apron from about 8 AM until sometime around 3 or 4 PM. It's absolutely awesome. 

I'm not always working with messy ingredients (like in the case of this falafel salad), so the apron technically isn't necessary. However, it's become a sort of uniform for me. With my apron on, I know it's game-time. Maybe that sounds weird or lame or old-fashioned of me, but I freakin' love it. I wrap the strings around my waist, tie a bow in the front, and can somehow put away for the time-being all other items on my to-do list, all other commitments yearning for my attention. 

Easy Falafel Salad w/ Tahini Dressing (Vegan, GF)

In my apron, I first fell in love with cooking. I helped my grandma make her signature raspberry jam years ago. I whipped up endless batches of Christmas cookies for Mom's friends and Dad's coworkers. I conquered my first ever batch of fluffy vegan cinnamon rolls. I tried my hand at a less-fried version of falafel and succeeded. 

My apron has taken the place of my track uniform and my keychain. Hooray for growing up! 

My apron made prepping this salad that much more enjoyable, meaningful.

Easy Falafel Salad w/ Tahini Dressing (Vegan, GF)

Speaking of this salad...

Do you LOVE falafel as much as I do? I suppose I should ask first if you even know how much I love falafel? If you don't, well... it's inexplicable. In other words, it's the true kind of love. Even though it's fried (a cooking method I usually try to avoid), I just can't say no. Wrap it up it a warm, homemade pita pocket and OHMYWORD I'm practically begging on my knees. 

But, like, salads are good, too, right? Because sometimes that pita adds that much more heaviness to an already filling meal. Besides, nothing beats crisp greens in almost-triple-digit weather! 

Makes 2 salads

2 large carrots, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
mixed greens
Homemade Falafel (one batch is fine)
Tahini Dressing
Cilantro and parsley, for garnish

  1. Once all the veggies have been chopped, the greens have been washed, and the falafel and tahini dressing have been prepped, all that's left to do is toss the ingredients together in bowls!
  2. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with fresh herbs before serving. Enjoy! 
Easy Falafel Salad w/ Tahini Dressing (Vegan, GF)

Chicken Sausage, Zucchini, and White Cheddar Tacos (GF)

Entree, TacosHaley HansenComment

As I prepare for my senior year (!!!!) - emphasis on the fact that I am four years deep into college - I experienced something most other students probably experienced their freshman year: sometimes, movie theatre popcorn + ice cream sandwiches + carrots = dinner. 

I am so for-real right now, it's almost not even funny. Except it really was funny because my best friend, who also thrives on a diet of mostly healthy foods with the occasionally cherished donut or 5th glass of wine (mhm) or third slice of the cheesy, greasy Costco pizza we all know and love. We sat in the movie theatre - and I should mention we had free tickets because we wouldn't have paid to sit in comfy chairs and watch a rom-com we could find on Netflix soon enough - with our medium-sized bucket of buttery popcorn and giggled. 

We giggled with childlike excitement at the reclining chairs you'd only think to find at a store like Brookstone, at our hands simultaneously reaching into the bucket for popcorn, at the similarities of our best-friendship to another's romantic relationship (we like boys, but we do spend copious amounts of time doing together doing "couple things"), and at the pure joy that radiated from our smiles and echoed from our non-stop laughter. 

Chicken Sausage, Zucchini, and White Cheddar Tacos (GF)

That being said, my frequent "fancy" dinners (as the college students who consider popcorn + ice cream dinners a regular thing) deserve attention. I shine the spotlight on this one, specifically, because not only did I never see it coming - I was vegan, if you're new here - but also because chicken sausage. 

Chicken. Sausage. 

Did you know - you probably didn't - that, when I was a kid, Santa used to fill my stocking with Wisconsin sausage? Mmmmmhm. Again, I'm so for-real right now it actually is funny. Because I don't know anyone else - excuse me, I don't know any other once-vegan college girls like myself - who used to receive sausages as a Christmas gift. And, I should add, cherished said sausages as one of their favorite gifts. 

Chicken Sausage, Zucchini, and White Cheddar Tacos (GF)

I'm still crossing things off my "non-vegan to-do list", as I call it, and I felt such childlike excitement like the kind in the movie theatre the other night when I purchased a package of chicken sausages for myself. At first bite, I almost wanted to apologize to something or someone for deserting my once-favorite food for years. 

Movie theatre popcorn (with the butter, people... WITH the butter) and ice cream sandwiches were on the to-do list as much as the chicken sausage. Despite their vast differences, I cherished them almost the same. Though I enjoyed these tacos as a single girl and the popcorn + ice cream with my best friend, I find the enjoyment of both stemming from a breath-taking sense of actual freedom around food. 

And with that, I can say nothing more, except that chicken sausage is fantabulous (especially this brand) and this cheese is phenomenal (also because it is semi-affordable if you find this one) and, as much as I hope you include treats like ice cream and movies purchased mostly for the comfort of the reclining chairs, I hope you spend quality time playing around in the kitchen with foods you love and foods you've not loved but want to try. 

I GIVE YOU TACOS (the best ones I've made at home myself *toot toot*). 

Chicken Sausage, Zucchini, and White Cheddar Tacos (GF)

Makes 2 servings

2 chicken sausages, sliced
1 large zucchini, chopped (about the same size as the sausage pieces)
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp. cayenne
2 oz. white cheddar cheese
6-8 corn tortillas
3 tbsp. oil, divided (I use grapeseed) 
1/2 small red onion, diced
Cilantro, for garnish
Salsa

  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat with 2 tbsp. grapeseed oil. Saute the garlic until golden brown and then add in the chicken and zucchini. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until lightly charred. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. 
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and coat the pan with remaining oil. Carefully lay in the tortillas and pan-fry until golden-brown on each side. Transfer to a plate and set aside. 
  3. Assemble the tacos - evenly distribute the sausage and zucchini atop each tortilla, then top with red onion, cilantro, and salsa. Grate the cheese over each taco. 
  4. Serve immediately with any additional toppings (I recommend hot sauce!). 
  5. Enjoy! 
Chicken Sausage, Zucchini, and White Cheddar Tacos (GF)

Simple Summer Panzanella Salad

Salad, VegetarianHaley HansenComment

I'm currently working on releasing from my mind the fact that this post should've been finished two nights ago and posted yesterday morning. Oops. 

Simple Summer Panzanella Salad

Once again, I'm here in San Luis Obispo, my favorite place in the world (as of right now, at least), as I decided to make this a long weekend trip to visit my girls. And once again again, we made zero plans and somehow found more fun and laughter and adventure than we ever have. Weird, huh? That being said, I did have some plans to squeeze in a little blog-work over the weekend, but those were squashed by last minute decisions to go star-gazing or line-dancing or late-night-chit-chatting until 1 AM.

My inner worker-bee wanted to scream when I chose my friends over the blog, but God held my hand (as always) and led me with comfort into the innumerable blessings He weaves into my friendships. The wine and mojitos might have helped with that, too, but it was mostly God - let's be honest. 

There's something about SLO that God is using to change me. He changed my heart big time last year, when I finally discovered the realness of His beauty and the meaning of life with Him, but that wasn't all He had planned. As I drove up here the other night and passed the "San Luis Obispo - 7 miles" sign, I felt my heart take a deep breath and sigh with the most contentment it has in a long time. Actually... that might've been a record-breaking amount of contentment. 

Simple Summer Panzanella Salad

So much so that when I talk about my love for SLO with my friends, it almost sounds like I'm really considering where a serious relationship is going. Like, that what's-next-for-us-because-I-really-like-you stage. Like, I've-never-felt-this-way-about-any-place-before feeling. Like, I-can't-imagine-my-life-elsewhere type thing. 

Like, I-want-to-soak-up-every-last-drop-of-it-before-we-part feeling. In other words, I want to spend minimal time on my laptop and maximum time appreciating what God gives me here. Want to know what I've been up to this weekend? YAY I'm so excited to share with you! 

Simple Summer Panzanella Salad

Thursday

Trip to Cambria and Cayucos with a picnic and a stop at Brown Butter Cookie Co. with Grace (bff, as I call her) + lazy afternoon + dinner at the farmers' market + line dancing alllllllll night. 

Friday

Chill morning + afternoon walk along the beach with a friend and a latte + ice cream cookie sandwich (!!!!) + pizza and good music and good friends (and new friends) + star-gazing. 

Saturday 

Farmer's market + half a hike (only half for me because of the wounds) + another lazy afternoon + a friend's grand opening for his new gym + dinner with bff + more dancing, but not in lines (more like in loud, crowded bars). 

Sunday 

Early morning walk + church + wine-tasting (also !!!!!) + well, recovering from wine tasting. 

Monday (today) 

Catching up a little bit on life + bbq-ing with friends. 

Tuesday (tomorrow)

Heading out, hopefully for the last time ever, and counting the days until I can come back! 

Simple Summer Panzanella Salad

Moral of the story here: I've found "the one" in terms of home. I hope you have/do soon too! 

Simple Summer Panzanella Salad

Good thing I can make this panzanella salad no matter where I am because it's daaaaaang good, too. 

Makes 4-6 servings

1 loaf whole-grain bread, sliced
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup olives (green or kalamata)
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Fresh basil
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Use 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil to lightly brush each bread slice (both sides). Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and grill each slice until charred on both sides, then remove from pan and set aside to cool. Once cooled, chop into thick 1-inch cubes. 
  2. Combine the tomatoes, feta, olives, and basil in a large mixing bowl and stir in the bread cubes. 
  3. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Refrigerate or serve immediately. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to one week. 
  4. Enjoy!
Simple Summer Panzanella Salad

Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries (Vegan, GF, Paleo)

Appetizer, VeganHaley HansenComment

Career change: done. Well, I should say "decided", because "done" would mean I'm also done with school and the actual adult-ing process of obtaining a career. 

In fact, I still haven't God's clear picture of what He wants my career to be. All I know is that I've decided to steer in a direction different from where I was previously going. My next step is discovering down which path I want to head in that new direction. 

Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries (Vegan, GF, Paleo)

This kind of reminds me of making a decision at a restaurant...

  • assess my current condition: how hungry am I? 
  • assess the restaurant's options: what's on the menu? 
  • tune into my body's cues of what sounds good: this usually means waiting for my mouth to water at the thought of any particular menu item. I think it works pretty dang well. 
  • and finally, narrow down my choices to one (maybe two) items and go from there. 

I've already completed steps one and two: I know that I'm not hungry for all that an RD credential requires. I know that the menu of my career offers pllllllllenty of alternate options. Now, step three: what, of this "alternate career" portion on the menu sounds appetizing? Holistic nutritionist? Ehh, probably means more school. Nutrition teacher? We'll see how much patience I have for teaching the same thing over and over. Farmer? Maybe... probably not. Full-time blogger? Too much time on scrolling through social media and trying to figure out how to convince Google to show me off to readers. 

Cafe owner? Picture this: lattes of all milks decorated with art of all shapes and sizes, fresh-baked scones and muffins and turnovers and pop-tarts (Dad's favorites), breakfast burritos and loaded sandwiches and veggie-loaded salads prepared with only local ingredients, and smiles and laughter practically R.O.F.L.-ing out the door as community members and visitors form lines out the door (okay maybe I'm getting ahead of myself there).

Ooooh, now my mouth is watering. 

Okay, but how does one go about a situation in which the menu item sounds appealing beyond belief, yet larger than what he/she can put down in one sitting? Sure, take some of it home is always an option, but I've never been good with that - give me a task and I'll go all in 'til it's all done. Oh, maybe I can split this dish with someone else? Who wants to open a cafe with me? How stinkin' cute would my future husband and I be, working side-by-side to make this local, family-owned and -run cafe the community's go-to for fresh, local, satisfying food they can always count on?

Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries (Vegan, GF, Paleo)

Dear future husband, come out come out wherever you are! I'm in need of a business partner to make this thing seem real and achievable - I know n o t h i n g about opening a restaurant. 

In the meantime, I can start by rough-drafting a menu, right? Menu item #1: these baked zucchini fries. I'm feeling accomplished already, and my appetite is certainly liking this idea for a career :)

Makes about 2 servings

1/3 cup almond meal
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp sea salt
2 flax eggs
1 large zucchini
Your favorite dip, for serving (I used this mayo)

  1. Preheat oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Chop the zucchini in half, and then slice lengthwise as pictured above, doing your best to avoid the center (high water content). 
  3. Prepare the flax eggs in a small flat bowl and combine the dry ingredients in another bowl. Lay the zucchini strips, one at a time, into the flax eggs and roll them around to coat. Then, into the almond meal mixture, rolling again to coat.
  4. Transfer to the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove from oven when they are golden brown and firm. Set aside to cool slightly before serving (with your favorite dip, if desired). 
  5. Enjoy! 
Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries (Vegan, GF, Paleo)

Cauliflower and Spinach Mac n' Cheese (Vegan, GF)

Pasta, Entree, VeganHaley HansenComment

I had a really bad habit and I just kicked it right where the sun don't shine and it felt SO dang good. 

What was my naughty habit, you ask? Since I don't have an alarm clock (read: don't feel it necessary enough vs. my iPhone to spend money on), I rely on my iPhone's alarm app, so I keep my phone in my room relatively close to my bed. 

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP. It blares each morning and I reach over to shut it off. Except, I don't just leave it at that. Instead, I usually grab it and start the stupid mindless scrolling immediately. UGH. For a while, the social-media-proponent inside me argued that my 6-AM-scrolling wasn't a big deal, just a relaxing way to ease myself out of sleep-mode and into get-shiz-done-mode.

Now, however, the self-loving and mindFUL woman I am (or am like 75% of the time - we all have our bad days, right?) recognizes that social media is not the most gentle, encouraging way to wake up. This woman basically stomped her foot down, squashed the social-media-proponent and said "enough is enough". I spend enough time scrolling and posting and liking and commenting each day - I don't want it to be the very first thing I do in the morning before my soul can even say "good morning" to God. 

I DO want to wake up to God. I want to wake up with gratitude, not envy. I want to wake up with peace, not anxiousness. I want to wake up with confidence in His love for me, not insecurity in whatever social media tells me is "less-than" about myself. Don't you? 

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way to go, for to you I entrust my life.”
— — PSALM 143:8, NLT

For about the last week or so, I've been setting my phone on Airplane Mode about 30 minutes before bed, spending some time in the word, and falling into a peaceful sleep. My alarm goes off 7-8 hours later, my phone stays in Airplane Mode in my room, and I grab my Bible and devotional and head outside for some quiet-time (coffee in hand, duh). Not until around 8 or 9 AM do I turn Airplane Mode off. I know that sounds still very early in the morning, which it is, but by that time I've already finished my reading, my workout, and usually my breakfast, so I'm feeling strong and confident and ready to be social. 

Cauliflower and Spinach Mac n' Cheese (Vegan, GF)

By that time, I've let God's Spirit fill me up before anything can come and try to suck the life and joy and hope from me. 

To simplify this... think: 

  • drink water before a long run to prevent dehydration 
  • pack lunch/snacks for a long day of work to prevent hunger and/or hanger
  • study x amount of time before an exam to prevent a low score
  • fill up on gas before a road-trip to prevent an empty tank on an open road

Those seem to be logical steps to take to prepare for certain events and prevent other events from happening. Yet, why did I not take necessary steps to prepare for my day and prevent feelings of _____ (insecurity, loneliness, etc.)? That answer brings up a whole 'nother topic, so I'll just leave it at that and let your mind roam through thoughts of how you begin your morning and therefore set the tone for the rest of your day. 

PS I've been reading Sarah Young's "Jesus Calling" devotional alongside my own Bible readings for the past year-and-a-half-ish - highly recommend. The Lord definitely works through Young on a daily basis to reach the reader, wherever he/she is in that moment. Check it out here!

Oh, and another really fun way to begin is by making vegan mac n' cheese. Just sayin'. You should try it. 

Makes 4-6 servings

1 box Banza cavatappi (or your favorite pasta)
Cashew Cheeze Sauce
1/2 head cauliflower, chopped
1 tbsp. grapeseed oil
1 tsp. garlic powder (2 garlic cloves, minced)
Spinach, thawed if frozen
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh cilantro, chopped

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Strain and let cool.
  2. In a nonstick skillet, over medium-high heat add 1 tbsp. grapeseed oil. After 1-2 minutes, toss in the cauliflower and garlic. Saute until charred and tender. Set aside. 
  3. Combine pasta, cauliflower, and spinach in a large mixing bowl and cover with Cashew Cheeze Sauce, stirring to coat evenly throughout.
  4. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cilantro. Serve immediately and store leftovers in an airtight container for up to one week. 
  5. Enjoy!
Cauliflower and Spinach Mac n' Cheese (Vegan, GF)

Baja Black Bean Taco Salad w/ Creamy Lemon Avocado Dressing (Vegan, GF)

Vegan, Lunch, SaladHaley HansenComment

Currently adjusting to the realization that the place I'd thought of as "home" for so fifteen years is no longer my home. Whoa. 

Baja Black Bean Taco Salad w/ Creamy Lemon Avocado Dressing (Vegan, GF)

In 2003, my family and I moved from Minnesota (where almost our entire family and all of our friends surrounded us) to California. By doing the math, you'll calculate that I was seven years old at the time and my brother was about ten. He found the transition significantly more terrifying and unfair (as any young boy would) than I did, yet I still felt as though I was stepping into the unknown, mostly because my child brain barely understood the concept of the United States. 

Since the summer of 2003, we've lived in and loved Southern California, for the most part. That other unloved part is the traffic, the heat, and the "vibe" we feel, which is too complicated for me to explain. However, I grew up there. I found my first real best friends as I started second grade and walked alongside them through the rest of elementary school. I attached to a different group of friends in junior high and found out about who Jesus is. I entered high school and got my period and played sports and rode the teenage-rollercoaster-of-emotions over and over. I battled my eating disorder and found my first boyfriend and, with him, my first kiss and my first love. I graduated high school and committed to college. 

Baja Black Bean Taco Salad w/ Creamy Lemon Avocado Dressing (Vegan, GF)

And then... I went to college, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, if you're wondering. The first segment of my first year away from home was saturated with tears of homesickness and feelings of not belonging. Once those tears dried feelings dissolved (which is easier than done, as always), I found the group of sisters in Christ God had waiting for me to push me towards Him and towards growth and the better version of myself. 

The two years in between then and now have not been absent of tears and homesickness, by any means. Neither, though, have they been absent of discovery (of self and other) and recovery, of smiles and laughter so strong it hurts, of trial + error and finding faith in it all. San Luis Obispo has captured my heart, no doubt about it, but I've been reluctant to call it "home", for reasons I don't even know.  

Baja Black Bean Taco Salad w/ Creamy Lemon Avocado Dressing (Vegan, GF)

I chose to spend this summer in Southern California, to take a break from SLO and rent and blah blah blah. Despite the busy-ness of SoCal, for some reason I feel like I can hear myself think a bit more than I can in SLO (probably because I don't spend much time with anyone else besides myself and my parents). That's what has always pulled me back to SoCal - the comfort. 

But it's feeling too comfortable now. Like, boring-comfortable - a bean bag chair that sinks when I sit in it, a mattress without any structure or spring. In other words, there is nothing to challenge me or offer much opportunity for growth. AND, for the past fourteen years, my family and I have made few community connections (though those few are still going strong and wonderful as could be). 

Baja Black Bean Taco Salad w/ Creamy Lemon Avocado Dressing (Vegan, GF)

San Luis Obispo, though... my goodness. There's been growth beyond expectation, friendship beyond imagination, and comfort surpassing any level I ever thought I'd need. I found, through God, what a life of freedom instead of slavery around food feels like. I found my best friends/sisters in Christ (which, four years ago, I thought of only as pretend). I found my passion for food and cooking intertwined with health and fitness. 

I found my home. This is home. 

Home isn't where I was born or where my family is or where I grew up or where I spent my teenage years. Home is the place I can't - physically, emotionally, spiritually - be separated from for more than a month, the place where my best friends are not too far away, the place where I'm connected to my community, the place where I found and feel most at peace and in love with myself. 

Home is San Luis Obispo. I love home. 

I just had to get that off my chest because I'm SO happy about it and couldn't help but share it. 

Anyway, about this salad - insanely easy to throw together and unbelievably delicious! Perfect for quick lunches, summer picnics, and even taco toppings! 

Salad:
1 15-oz. can black beans
2 cups finely chopped purple cabbage
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
extra cilantro, for garnish

Dressing:
Creamy Lemon Avocado Sauce + non-dairy milk

  1. Toss the salad ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside. 
  2. Whisk the sauce and non-dairy milk until a thin, dressing-like consistency is reached. Pour over the salad and toss again to combine. 
  3. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and then serve. 
  4. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days (any longer and it will smell baaaaaad, believe me). 
  5. Enjoy!
Baja Black Bean Taco Salad w/ Creamy Lemon Avocado Dressing (Vegan, GF)

Goat Cheese and Kale Wrap w/ Blackened Tempeh

Lunch, Wrap, VegetarianHaley HansenComment

Someone just asked me what my signature dish is. 

Umm... uhhhhh... OH CRAP. I don't have a signature dish. How does a blogger who's been doing this for three years not have a signature dish? 

Goat Cheese and Kale Wrap w/ Blackened Tempeh

That's just a snippet of my inner dialogue when that question came to me. You can just imagine how many times throughout the rest of my day that question pestered me. Quite a few! How does one even come up with a signature dish? What if you're the only one who likes your signature dish enough to call it a signature dish? 

I guess I should by asking what the standards of a signature dish even are. Wikipedia says that a signature dish is "a recipe that identifies an individual chef... it should be unique and allow an informed gastronome to name the chef in a blind tasting..." So, if a blind-folded friend of mine were to be spoon-fed several different dishes, he/she should be able to identify which is mine?

 I have no idea. What's my cooking style? What are my go-to flavors? I'm getting a bit stressed, if you can't tell. Do any of my favorite bloggers have their own signature dish? Should I even be stressing? 

Goat Cheese and Kale Wrap w/ Blackened Tempeh

Maybe I should just start by constructing the block of terms I want to come to mind when people think of me: creative, simple, enticing, appetizing, nourishing both nutritionally and emotionally, balanced, unique. Isn't that how every blogger - maybe every person, for that matter - wants to be thought of? Probably. 

If there's one thing I think I have nailed-down in this whole "signature" thing, it's my writing. Readers and family and friends always tell me they can practically hear my voice when they read my writing. Welp, I guess that's step one, right? They also tell me they know my photography style. Step two: check. 

Step three (that darn signature dish): unchecked. Blank. Can I fill in this blank more than once? After all, I create recipes of all types - breakfast, baking, sandwiches, salads, entrees, desserts, and drinks - and I'm somehow supposed to pick just one? Ugh. That's like asking me what my favorite food or my favorite thing to cook is (I usually just say "sweet potatoes") . I don't knowwwwww. I like pretty much everything! And I like everything I make! 

Okay okay, I'll stop stressing and just pick a few. Here are some of my favorite dishes: 

  1. Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Rolls w/ Coconut Cream Icing (Vegan)
  2. White Bean Salad Sandwich (Vegan)
  3. Cajun-Spiced Crispy Chickpea Sweet Potato Stir-fry (Vegan, GF)
  4. Whole-Wheat Blueberry Almond Cookies
  5. Cauliflower and Spinach Mac n' Cheeze (Vegan, GF)

Obviously I'm diggin' this wrap, too, because goat cheeeeeeeese. And the tempeh is pretty bomb diggity, might I add. For now, I'm going to munch on this, brainstorm recipes, and hope God gives me a bangin' signature dish. 

Makes 2 wraps

1 block tempeh, sliced
Honey Ginger Marinade
2 whole-grain tortillas (I prefer these)
1/2 avocado, slcied
2-3 tbsp. goat cheese
2 cups chopped kale
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. grapeseed oil, for the pan

  1. Begin by pouring a batch of Honey Ginger Marinade over the tempeh strips and refrigerate 4-8 hours. 
  2. When the tempeh is ready, heat grapeseed oil in a skillet over medium heat. I lightly scraped off some of the marinade, as it was very thick and wouldn't allow the tempeh to cook through (you can save whatever you scrape off). Lay the tempeh strips in the pan and cook about 2-3 minutes each side, or until browned and crisped. Remove from heat and set aside. 
  3. In a bowl, combine the olive oil and kale and massage until tender. Set aside.
  4. Spread goat cheese evenly among the two tortillas, down the middle of each. Lay 1 cup of kale on each tortilla, followed by avocado strips, tempeh, and a bit of marinade, if desired. 
  5. Roll tortillas tightly and slice in the middle. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for the next day. 
  6. Enjoy!
Goat Cheese and Kale Wrap w/ Blackened Tempeh

"Cream Cheese" Veggie Roll-Ups (Vegan)

Vegan, Appetizer, LunchHaley HansenComment

GUESS WHO JUST RAN. That's right - you heard me. R A N.

"Cream Cheese" Veggie Roll-Ups (Vegan)

To the fridge? No. To the bathroom? Definitely not. To the love of her life (read: cinnamon rolls, Prince Charming, and/or kitchen of her dreams)? Not yet. 

"Cream Cheese" Veggie Roll-Ups (Vegan)

I just finished my second mile this week after a full year off from running, and I had absolutely zero/zilch/no expectations at all of running again, let alone this soon. Maybe you read about how I felt when God said "no" to running and a few other habits I held onto. Once I accepted that, I felt like I bought a one-way ticket to never-running-again-land. After eight years of lacing up my shoes a few times each week to escape stress, to hear myself think, to move my restless legs, I didn't feel ready to let it go, but I did feel ready to hold God's hand along whatever path He wanted to take me down. 

It's in my blood to (try to) predict the future, and the couple ounces of pessimism also in my blood programmed me to believe this was a straight path with no room for running. Swallowing the pill, at first, felt a little bit like choking, but thank God for a God who wouldn't let that happen in faith. He answered my prayers for acceptance and trust with exactly that - acceptance of my body's abilities (a direct result of the damage done during my ED) and trust in His plans for the future (while filtering out my genetic tendency of self-prediction). 

"Cream Cheese" Veggie Roll-Ups (Vegan)

Staying active through intense exercise like HIIT, swimming, cycling, and weight-training, as well as not-so-intense forms like walking and yoga-ing is a part of my everyday routine, so subtracting running from the large mix didn't leave me empty-handed. Initially, I thought this was just a challenge of accepting my body's abilities and caring for it with unconditional love.

Unconditional love. For myself. From myself. 

And with that, in came unexpected (and certainly unwanted, at the time) weight-gain. With unconditional love, God saved me from further body damage via much-needed extra pounds. With unconditional love, I gave myself grace in accepting and finally embracing those pounds. They aren't essential in the definition of me, nor do they give any indication of the woman He's made me into. 

Still, I occasionally look at them with an "ugh", a sigh in remembrance of the thinner (yet no more desirable) figure I used to live in. 

Every so often, however, the sighs decrease in frequency, as I fall more and more in love with the Haley God desires (hallelujah). As I took the last couple strides of my second mile this week after 12 months free of running, I felt yet another wave of gratitude for everything those last 12 months brought crash over me. 

I CAN RUN! Renewed ability to move my legs like they used to probably isn't the sole reason God helped me accept and embrace weight gain, but it certainly is a perk of the hard werk :) 

Now, I sigh with still bit a of disbelief that this is actually happening, that I'm actually lacing my running shoes again. That deserves another hallelujah, eh? May God strengthen and bless you with the ability to accept and embrace whatever challenge you're faced with! 

Makes 2 rolls, about 4-15 servings

4 tbsp. Kite Hill chive almond cream cheese
1/2 red bell pepper
1 large carrot
1 cup spinach
2 whole-grain tortillas
Toothpicks

  1. Thinly slice the bell pepper and carrot, about the thickness of a pen or pencil. Set aside. 
  2. Spread 2 tbsp. almond cream cheese evenly over each tortilla, then top with 1/2 cup spinach. Lay one slice of bell pepper at one end of the tortilla, followed by a slice of carrot. Repeat, alternating between bell pepper and carrot until you reach the 2/3 line, if you will, of the tortilla. 
  3. Carefully fold in the side with the pepper closest to the edge and roll up the tortilla. Slice into sushi-like pieces and stick toothpicks through each piece to hold it together. 
  4. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to one week. 
  5. Enjoy!
"Cream Cheese" Veggie Roll-Ups (Vegan)

Spicy Black Bean Burgers (Vegan, GF)

Vegan, EntreeHaley HansenComment

I've consumed more alcohol (in the form of homemade mojitos, berry margaritas, peach bellini, and red wine) with my family since I came home for summer in mid-June than I have with my friends since, like, ever. The homemade mojitos came with us to a picnic in the park as we watched a modern remake of Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure". The berry margaritas were tossed together while we whipped up Hot For Food's cauliflower buffalo wings. The peach bellini is usually a treat when friends come over for happy hour. And red wine is a thing six out of seven nights a week, ya' know? 

Spicy Black Bean Burgers (Vegan, GF)

Oh, and there were even some tequila-soaked strawberries, which were actually a really bad idea to "snack" on. Amateur move on my part. 

But, can I just say that I'm just enjoying this time and these drinks and this freedom and peace with food? I didn't think I'd ever know what this feels like. 

I'm still not a beer person, though, and I don't think I ever will be. Kombucha is jut too similar and too much better (in terms of taste and nutrition, if we're considering those two aspects). However, I will almost never pass up a mojito, especially one of Dad's homemade mojitos with fresh mint and exxxxxtra lime juice for an exxxxtra kick. He was a genius and bottled up that batch for us to take to our picnic before Shakespeare in the park in LA. Go Dad!

When I head back up for school, I most definitely will cooling it on the dranks. Note: dranks are different from drinks. Think of it like this - a mojito is a drank and a mojito-flavored kombucha is a drink. Make sense? Anyway, yeah. Far fewer dranks come September. My body and brain both need better quality sleep and more focus during the night hours while studying and finishing up homework.

I'm definitely not buying any ticket for the sugar-detox train or any detox train, for that matter, but when the body needs a break, the body neeeeeeds a break and whatever that break consists of is unique to the individual and that's okay. 

It's fun to say yes and it's good to say no. Every response (and drink and drank) has it's time, right? 

Enough about alcohol. This burger - it's time and place fit into just about any spot on the calendar. Just black beans, almond meal, a few vegan necessities and a couple spices could not make a veggie burger any easier and any more fit for a backyard BBQ or a meal-prepped weekday lunch. 

Or, even a sugar-detox, if you're into that. 

Spicy Black Bean Burgers (Vegan, GF)

Please don't be into that. Be into these burgers. 

Makes 3-4 burger patties

1 15-oz. can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1 flax egg (1 tbsp. flaxseed meal + 2 tbsp water)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. mustard
1 tbsp. tamari (or vegan Worcestershire sauce)
3/4 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
Oil, for the pan
Buns, Cashew Cheeze Spread, spinach (and any other condiments/additions you prefer) for serving

  1. In a food processor, pulse the black beans, almond meal, flax egg, and mustard and tamari. Pulse until slightly crumbly, but sticky and firm to the touch - it should hold together when formed into a patty. 
  2. Add the spices and mix to combine. Form into 3-4 patties about 1/2" thick and, if time permits, refrigerate for one hour. If not, preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat with oil. Lay the patties on the pan and cook about 7-8 minutes per side, or until lightly charred and throughout. Remove from heat. 
  3. Serve immediately with buns, cheeze, and spinach. 
  4. Enjoy!
Karina & Kelly.jpg

Cajun-Spiced Crispy Chickpea Sweet Potato Stir-Fry (Vegan, GF)

Vegan, Stir-Fry, EntreeHaley HansenComment

Confession: I don't know diddley-squat about Cajun food. DIDDLEY-SQUAT. That's keyword for "nothing". I know nothing about Cajun food. 

Hello, World!

Cajun-Spiced Crispy Chickpea Sweet Potato Stir-Fry (Vegan, GF)

I do, however, know that I have a convenient little jar of a Cajun spice mix in my pantry with the surprising ability to turn an unplanned, "wingin'-it" recipe into a red. hot. show-stopper. It's like that lil' spicy dude had my back. Thanks, man. Much appreciated. 

Now that I'm diving what feels like face-first into this whole (almost) full-time blogging thing, I'm planning like I never have before. I'm constantly brainstorming recipes. I'm making more trips to the grocery store and farmers markets each week than there are days in the week itself. I think that fits the criteria of "face-first", don't you? 

Cajun-Spiced Crispy Chickpea Sweet Potato Stir-Fry (Vegan, GF)

As I said in my last post, I'm not working a typical job this summer and I'm not taking classes. I'm blogging. All day, everyday. That phrase has never held more truth to it than it does at this point of my life. But hey, I'm absolutely falling head-over-heels in love with cooking and creating and tasting and surprising myself and embracing food as my passion. 

I had planned to make this post all about picking up the pieces when plans fall apart because that's not only how this recipe came about, but also how some significant life situations have recently carried themselves out, but everything I wrote just felt so a) dramatic, b) cliche, and c) way too serious to be discussed with a recipe that surprised me in the best way possible. 

Cajun-Spiced Crispy Chickpea Sweet Potato Stir-Fry (Vegan, GF)

Food has captured me and flipped me upside down into the very definition of "head-over-heels in-love". For the last seven consecutive days, I've spent at least half the day either in the kitchen or within an arm's reach of something edible, and I've spent almost every minute smiling and thanking God for showing me what peace with food and my body (vs. the diet-mentality) feels like. 

It feels like biting into mom's fresh-from-the-oven brownies (made with all-purpose flour, not black beans), topped with a melty scoop of cool vanilla ice cream (made with actual sugar, not just bananas) and l o v i n g it. It feels like working your a$$ off in chemistry classes to get only B's and C's, and then finding classes you e n j o y and getting A's. It feels like a glass of wine (the one you swore off before you'd even given it a taste) and a couple bites of this and that with friends and family for happy hour on a warm, breezy summer evening. 

It feels like - after y e a r s of running away from this, in search of that and back and forth and through the woods and the water and the wind - reaching the destination you doubted for so long ever existed, coming to the mirror you've always worshipped or hated, actually looking in it, and somehow seeing beyond the culturally defined imperfections, directly into the beautiful, passionate, unique, and intelligent human being you were created to be. 

Wow - that was a mouthful, huh? 

My prayer is that everyone reaches a place like this. Food is too tasty to restrict, yet too insignificant to fear. 

:) Thank the Lord for showing me that and for answering that prayer for myself with such grace, mercy, and unconditional love. 

So, like, this recipe... it makes me feel like I could maybe pleasantly surprise a Cajun-expert if I were to slide this plate in front of him. You can do that, too! Pick up some sweet potatoes, a red onion, and a bunch of kale from your local farmers market. Grab a can of beans, which you probably already have in your pantry. Toss all the spices in, crisp everything up, and serve with that creamy, salty, sweet tahini drizz. 

Hello, World!

My friends, I wish you a happy, happy meal time. 

Makes 4-5 servings

1 15-oz. can chickpeas (or garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup diced red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped kale
2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped into 1/2" cubes
4 tbsp. grapeseed oil
2 tsp. cajun seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
Cilantro, for garnish
Maple tahini dressing, for serving

  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and coat with 1 tbsp. grapeseed oil. Toss the chickpeas, 1 tbsp. grapeseed oil, red onion, garlic, and 1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning in a bowl to combine, and then toss it all into the skillet. Cook until onions are tender and chickpeas are lightly charred. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Coat the same skillet with another 2 tbsp. of grapeseed oil and add in the sweet potato cubes and remaining Cajun seasoning. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and charred on at least one side. Reduce heat to low, add in the kale and cooked chickpeas, and cook until the kale is bright green and soft. 
  3. Serve immediately, topped with fresh chopped cilantro and a drizzle of maple tahini sauce. Store leftovers in an airtight container for 4-5 days. 
  4. Enjoy!
Cajun-Spiced Crispy Chickpea Sweet Potato Stir-Fry (Vegan, GF)

Kale and Farro Salad w/ Crispy Chickpeas (Vegan, GF)

Haley HansenComment

So, it is currently 11:27 PM on a Saturday. I'm awake, which is one thing. I'm typing this, which is another thing. 

Kale and Farro Salad w/ Crispy Chickpeas (Vegan, GF)

I'm awake because, quite frankly, I can't sleep. Despite how tired I feel and how much my eyelids want to close, my mind is sorting through feelings and conversations and thoughts and yah-dah-yah-dah. The usual, except this typically happens right when I wake up in the morning and prevents me from going back to sleep like a normal human being would at 5:30 AM. That's just how my body works - 7:30 AM is totally considered (and applauded) as "sleeping in". 

And 11:30 PM? That, my friends, as just shy of two hours past my bedtime. No, I'm not a ten-year-old who still follows the rules of her mother. I'm just a disciplined young woman who physically cannot keep her eyes open at this time. Hence, I don't "go out" or "party" or do really anything past 9:30 PM that requires a bra and me getting out of my bed. 

:) 

Kale and Farro Salad w/ Crispy Chickpeas (Vegan, GF)

Okay - the real reason I can't sleep? I'M JUST HAPPY. It's not the delusional-tired state that most people reach (or maybe it's just me?) - just pure happiness. 

If I were to metaphorically put myself in the shoes I wore a year ago, I wouldn't be this happy, and that would mainly be due to my body. HOW DUMB IS THAT. Like, my size (read: my increase in size) would totally have inhibited any possible experience of joy from then until now. 

Ugh, thank the Lord for getting my shiz together for me.

Anyway, that's pretty much all I have to say here. 

And for the salad, it's one of the most unique, most tasteful I've ever created - much more than lettuce, fresh veggies, protein and avocado. Crispy chickpeas + hearty farro (have you ever had it?) + crunchy kale + more flavor than one would expect from a 20-minute salad. 

Please please please, for your own personal enjoyment of greens and beans and grains, make. this. salad. There's flavor, there's taste, there's texture. Surprise yourself...

... love yourself! Oh, and love kale. 

Makes 4-5 servings

For the chickpeas: 
2.5 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. grapeseed oil, plus more for the pan
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika

For the salad: 
2 cups chopped kale
2 tbsp. grapeseed oil
2-2 1/2 cups cooked farro (or any other rice-like grain)
juice from 1/2 lemon
Optional: chopped red onion and basil

  1. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and coat with grapeseed oil. Carefully (to not splatter the oil) add in the beans and onion. Cook until the onions are translucent and the beans are lightly charred. Remove from heat. 
  2. Massage the kale in grapeseed oil until bright green and tender. Combine with cooked farro and chickpeas, and squeeze lemon juice on top. Stir to combine and garnish with onion and basil, if using. 
  3. Serve immediately or chilled. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to one week. 
  4. Enjoy! 
Kale and Farro Salad w/ Crispy Chickpeas (Vegan, GF)

Pasta Salad w/ Beets and Cilantro Lime Dressing (Vegan, GF)

Vegan, PastaHaley HansenComment

Can you remember the last time you went to the grocery store? 'Cuz I can't. 

Don't worry - I'm not boycotting the purchase of food or anything. And I haven't developed any early-onset memory-loss. And I'm not (well, not really) trying to brag...

... but I can't remember the last time I've been to the grocery store because I've been buying exclusively from local farmers markets. They've always, without any hesitation, been my Saturday-and-Sunday-morning plans, even though only recently have I been leaving with bags full of groceries for the week instead of just a couple peaches and some local bread. 

Whenever I see an opportunity to brag about my classes, I snatch it up, so here goes. My favorite class this quarter - Food Science and Nutrition, Contemporary Issues in Food Service - taught me about 1) cooking with various dietary/ingredient/cost restrictions and 2) about the benefits of supporting the local community via buying locally grown food. Though I assumed I pretty much had this topic mastered by buying said peaches and loaf of (unbelievably delicious) bread, my professor - and Michael Pollan, mostly (also, is he married?) - convinced me that I had much to learn and much more to buy in order to support my local farmers and bakers and community to the best of my abilities. 

Pasta Salad w/ Beets and Cilantro Lime Dressing (Vegan, GF)

And within about two weeks, I found myself spending Saturday morning (the day of the SLO farmers market, which I attend during the school year) and Sunday morning (the day of the Claremont farmers market, which I attend now that I'm living at home) actually shopping at the markets, rather than just sipping coffee and picking up one or two things.

Considering you're reading my blog right now and maybe you have been for a while, you probably have some idea of the benefits of buying from the farmers market instead of the supermarket, yeah? But maybe you're like me and you want to know more - truly, what's the difference in the food? I'll answer that for you, most definitely, but as I always say: 

IT'S MORE THAN FOOD. 

Anyway, benefits of the farmers market: 

  1. go ahead, call yourself a "locavore" - how fun is that?! 
  2. reduce the carbon footprint produced when grocers have to ship food from across the country because avocados and almonds and asparagus aren't really optimally grown everywhere. ever heard of the term "food miles"? as much as you want to minimize the amount miles you have to run for exercise, you want to minimize the amount of miles your food has to travel to reach your plate. 
  3. increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet. at the local markets in my area (both in SLO and in OC), the farmers selling fruits and vegetables FAR outnumber the farmers selling meats, eggs, cheese, etc. similarly, have you ever been to a farmers market that sells Cheetos and soda? I haven't.  
  4. build a stronger sense of community. when was the last time you reached out to participate in some sort of community event? you can easily and genuinely include yourself in your hometown (or wherever you are) by purchasing locally grown foods. connect with the farmers, strike up conversation about their farms, and bring friends with you - "the more the merrier" most certainly applies here. 
  5. get some fresh air. sounds simple, but think about it - most of us drive to the grocery store, which is indoors, and then drive home. if you're able to, try biking to the local farmers market, which is outdoors, and then ride home (bring a backpack or two to carry your purchases). 
  6. get some fresh food. and by that, I mean "seasonal" - farmers in SLO aren't growing mangoes in the middle of December (heck, is anyone?). during this time, you'll find things like swiss chard and cauliflower and sweet potatoes to roast up for warm, comforting dinners. during summer, you'll find juicy peaches and berries and tomatoes for smoothies, snacks, salads, etc. here's a seasonal food guide, based on the time of year.

How do those not sound appealing? 

Believe me - grocery shopping is my "happy time". Strolling up and down each aisle, browsing the products I know and love and exploring the shelves for new items. And, just letting you know, your local farmers market probably won't be selling Banza pasta, so it's totally fine to purchase that (and whatever else isn't offered at the market) from the store. 

But, I find even more happiness in shopping at the local farmers markets - I'm saving money (yes, you CAN lower your grocery bill), I'm reducing plastic waste, and I'm integrating myself into the community. 

Again, I'm not swearing off anything store-bought. Hello - kombucha and peanut butter are like my besties and I can usually only find my favorites in the grocery store. 

Pasta Salad w/ Beets and Cilantro Lime Dressing (Vegan, GF)

I AM promising to dedicate more time and money into my local peeps - my local farmers, my local vendors and artisans, and even my closest family and friends by frequenting the farmers markets.

You want to join me? Cool - you know where to find me :) 

Makes 4-6 servings

For the pasta:
1 box Banza chickpea pasta (I used Rotini)
golden beets, about 6-7 small, washed
2 cups mixed greens

For the dressing:
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg's) 
juice from 1 lime
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional)

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook Banza pasta according to package directions. Once finished, strain, rinse, and set aside to cool. 
  2. Chop the beets into 1/2"-thick chunks and bring to a boil. Cook until tender when poked with a fork, about 15-20 minutes. Strain and combine in a large bowl with the pasta. Set aside. 
  3. To make the dressing, simply combine the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour over the pasta and beets and toss in the mixed greens. 
  4. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 1 week. 
  5. Enjoy!
Pasta Salad w/ Beets and Cilantro Lime Dressing (Vegan, GF)

Tomato Basil Toasts w/ Cashew Cheeze Spread (Vegan)

Haley HansenComment

Do I really need to post a recipe for toast?

I’m not posting this because it’s an extremely complex process. Its not – make the vegan cheese, put the bread in the toaster. Spread. Bite. Enjoy. That’s pretty much it.

But I just wanted to show off this bread because I mean…

breaking bread slices close.jpgTomato Basil Toasts w/ Cashew Cheeze Spread (Vegan)

… just LOOK at that. It’s okay – let your eyes wander. You won’t be judged for staring. I think the bread may actually like it, after all the hate it’s been getting lately.  Bread is a b e a u t i f u l creation, am I right or am I right? I’m obviously right if you’re still staring.

I wanted to share with you the history of bread, but considering its birth in early ancient history, however many thousands of years ago, I’d be typing this for days. And, knowing me and my undeniable obsession with it, I would probably spend time I don’t have reading entire books on bread (I did find one via Google Books, which I’m happy to share with anyone who is interested).

So, we’ll just keep this short. For all you Michael Pollan fans out there, this post will be In Defense of Bread…. Get it? :)

From what I researched about bread’s history, the combination of flour + water + a hot oven made itself a staple in homes thousands upon thousands of years ago. Like, so long ago it’s making me question if the Paleo Diet should even exclude bread. We thrived off of it – survived off of it! Pollan, in his Netflix series “Cooked”, gives us a peek into the lives of those in Morocco and other Eastern cultures in which bread is so cherished. In fact, bread was so central to life (it literally translates to “life”), that taking a knife to it to cut slices was seen a violent and shameful act.

Bread means life. But, isn’t Jesus the Way, the Truth, and the Life (1)? He is, and he cherished bread. Of course, when the Bible mentions the word “bread”, it isn’t always referring to that combination of flour + water that’s been baked in a hot oven, but still – the mere use of it as symbol of life says something, does it not? (Matt. 26:26, John 6:35, Ruth 2:14, Luke 22:19).

Tomato Basil Toasts w/ Cashew Cheeze Spread (Vegan)

Yet, here we are, dieting and crossing bread off of our weekly grocery lists. Well, that’s probably because we began removing from the grain of wheat the majority of its nutrients, found in the bran and the germ (2). That, my friends, is what you probably know as white bread. I won’t tell you bread is bad, and I don’t think any of the wisest dietitians will either. No food should be seen as “bad” (3), including bread – yes, even the highly processed white kind.

The poor loaves have done nothing to hurt us, after all. They’ve only meant to nourish and sustain us from the day the first loaf popped out of the ancient oven.

Naturally, I did feel the need to research the nutrition facts of bread – I just had to. Aaaaaaaand I was stoked to find this trusty website (4) that also defends the enjoyment of any type of bread – white and whole wheat and anything in between. Need more proof (5)?

So, can we pleeeeeeease give bread the break it deserves? Eat the grains. Eat the thick-crust or maybe even deep-dish pizza. Eat the pasta. Eat the rice. Eat the fruits and vegetables and beans and all the oils and nuts and seeds.

Most of all…

Tomato Basil Toasts w/ Cashew Cheeze Spread (Vegan)

... eat. the. damn. bread.

Makes 2-4 slices

2-4 slices whole grain bread (I used the Hearty Grains loaf from Breaking Bread SLO)
Cashew Cheeze Spread
Cherry tomatoes, sliced
Fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Place bread in toaster and cook to preferred done-ness. 
  2. Spread cashew cheeze on each slice and top with cherry tomatoes, basil, and salt and pepper. 
  3. Serve immediately. 
  4. Enjoy!
Tomato Basil Toasts w/ Cashew Cheeze Spread (Vegan)

Falafel and Veggie Pita Sandwich (Vegan)

Haley HansenComment

This might be - actually, it probably is - weird, but I have some thoughts on blinkers. Like, the lights the corners of your car, you know? Perhaps, the lights you rarely/never use...? I've been thinking about them lately, but more so as they relate to real life. 

Picture it: you're driving along behind another car. All is going well, until the brake lights of the car in front of you suddenly flash on and you've got to do all you can to bring your car to an immediate stop so that you don't ram into that car. We've all been there, and maybe you'd lay on your horn to let that car know how you feel. Or maybe you're like me and you'd just take a deep breath, roll your eyes, and continue driving (but this time leaving much more space between your car and others to prevent such a situation). 

Ahhhh, there it is. There's the little Life Dude who pops into my head to turn a seemingly simple, common situation into something seriously blog-worthy. 

A blinker-involving (or I guess blinker-lacking) event identical to the one above happened to me the other day, and immediately I thought of a few people in my life who I know don't use their blinkers. 

Falafel and Veggie Pita Sandwich (Vegan)

Picture it (again): you've got a relationship with someone - romantic or casual - and all is going well, until something suddenly changes. Communication stops or drastically decreases/changes in nature. Something just isn't right, and all you can do is step back and wonder. Then, this person is turning down a road you might not even have known existed or expected to be part of that person's path. Just like that. 

I don't want this post to be all wah-wah and serious. But, I thought it was interesting, ya' know? 

I definitely know a few people who don't use their blinkers at all or as often as they probably should. Now, who am I to tell someone how to drive his/her life, buuuuut... I'm just sayin'. 

Do YOU use your blinker? Do know anyone who doesn't use theirs? 

Sigh. Just some thoughts I have. If they seem a bit unfinished, that's because I don't quite know what to do about non-blinker-people. Patience would be a good place to start, I guess. Awareness. Self-understanding and self-control. Self-LOVE. 

Anyway, yeah. That's it! 

Did I mention I love falafel? And that I'm wondering why in the world I waited until two years after beginning this blog to finally share an easy falafel pita sandwich recipe with you? I don't know. I don't have all the answers (clearly), but I do have said falafel pita sandwich so I'll stop talking and let you get on to that. 

Falafel and Veggie Pita Sandwich (Vegan)

Makes 1 pita, 2 halves

Homemade falafel
1 whole-grain pita
Tomato, diced
Cucumber, diced
Red onion, diced
Mixed greens
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Tahini dressing

  1. Prepare the falafel according to directions and set aside to cool when finished. 
  2. Toast the pita bread in the oven or a toaster and in the meantime, whisk together the ingredients for tahini dressing. 
  3. When the pita is finished toasting, stuff it with veggies - mixed greens go in first, followed by falafel, and then assorted diced veggies. 
  4. Sprinkle with cilantro and drizzle with tahini dressing. 
  5. Serve immediately and store leftover falafel and veggies in airtight containers in the fridge. 
  6. Enjoy!
Falafel and Veggie Pita Sandwich (Vegan)

White Bean Salad Sandwich (Vegan, GF option)

Sandwich, Lunch, VeganHaley HansenComment

"Your summer looks so... chill." 

My friends have not been shy with their apparent jealousy of my summer thus far. Why, you ask? I'm basically working for myself. I took no part-time waitressing or babysitting or donut-slinging (that was last summer) jobs. In fact, I didn't even apply for any. During the winter/early-spring months, when I could've and (some might argue) should've been applying, I was stressing my eyeballs out over school and my current job at the time. I was wrestling with voices inside my head telling me I wasn't good enough to handle just about anything and everything on my plate - academics, future academics, a social life, a non-existent love life, and weight gain. 

All I wanted to do was run into the comfort of my Southern California home, in which the tough Cal Poly professors cannot touch me, in which I can ignore the confusing need to have a social life and a boyfriend, and in which I can hopefully heal my love-hate relationship with food. I wanted to escape. Applying for jobs and searching for summer classes were the LAST things I wanted to do. 

I was offered a part-time internship with NuttZo - an amazing, nut-loving company I call "my peanut butter people" - and could not have felt more pulled towards that opportunity, so I snatched it up immediately and promised myself I'd dedicate the rest of my time to developing my cooking skills + my passion for plant-based recipes (and in the process, healing my torn-up, upside-down, inside-out relationship with food). 

White Bean Salad Sandwich (Vegan, GF option)

Despite the excitement and determination that practically oozed from my every word, my parents were a bit more skeptical, wondering about qualifications of the experience, financial needs/income, etc. Understandable. Totally understandable, considering the fact that I'm - speaking exclusively in terms of age here - officially an adult and therefore am socially expected to have most of my shizz together. You probably know the feeling. 

tuna salad sammy stack.jpg

Convincing them of the legitimacy of my summer plans required a detailed explanation of how I'd be saving money, budgeting, and allotting my time each day. Again, totally understandable, and actually much appreciated because it helped whip my booty into shape and realize that, if I want to give this whole blogging-(almost)-full-time thing a go, I need to give it damn hard GO. 

Let me tell you - it's not all that it seems from the mouth-watering snapchats you may be referring to when believing my summer "is so chill". It's actually extremely HOT - I'm in Southern California, so the weather is literally h o t (or hot AF, if you will), but it's also hot because I'm either standing over the stove or in front of the oven on a multiple-times-a-day basis. I'm running in and out the backdoor to snap pictures of a recipe before bees and flies and even the rare cockroach attacks it. I'm up late at night, editing pictures and, when the text portion of each recipe isn't flowing like I always hope, deep-breathing and praying that something with even the slightest hint of relevance and humor will come to mind. I'm price-checking constantly, making sure I don't go overboard on ingredients or run away with the tantalizing temptation that is... dare I say... kombucha. 

White Bean Salad Sandwich (Vegan, GF option)

There's more, but I won't brag or complain or maybe even bore you would be the better term. All I'm saying is I'm a baby in this blogging world, but I'm a passionate little one and I fall more and more in love with food each day. I thank God that He's introduced me to a life of peace with the food I love so dearly so that I can chase after my dream, without the effing diet-mentality getting in the way. MOVE OVER DUDE BEFORE I RUN YOU OVER. 

That's right. I'm comin'. :) 

Oh, and about this sandwich! I did everything in my power to come up with a more creative name than what I've got, but I also refused to settle on "vegan tuna salad sandwich". First of all, raise your hand if you like tuna salad - the smell, the taste, the memories (school cafeteria lunch, anyone?). Yeah, that's what I thought. Second of all, my dad has ingrained the idea that my creative vegan recipes deserve so much more than to be called "vegan this" or "vegan that". So, white bean salad sandwich it is! 

I highly recommend seeking out fresh-baked, local bread. Makes. All. The. Difference. Search for something hearty, something thick and substantial to balance out the creamy, light salad. 

This recipe is no-doubt 100% picnic-friendly and a must for days when turning on the oven is not an option, when leftovers are non-existent, and/or when that tuna salad might sound appealing. 

:)

White Bean Salad Sandwich (Vegan, GF option)

Makes about 4 sandwiches

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup finely diced cucumber
2 tbsp. mustard
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed butter)
2 tsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp. lemon pepper
thick-sliced whole-grain bread (GF if needed)
mixed greens, for serving

  1. Mash the beans in a medium-size bowl and set aside. 
  2. In a smaller bowl, stir together the mustard, tahini, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and seasoning. Pour this into the mashed beans and stir to combine. Gently fold in the red onion and cucumber. 
  3. If desired, toast the sliced bread at this time. Spread about 1/4-1/3 cup of the salad onto one slice of bread, top with mixed greens and the other slice of bread. 
  4. Serve immediately and store leftover salad in an airtight container for up to one week. 
  5. Enjoy! 
White Bean Salad Sandwich (Vegan, GF option)