Hungry Haley

it's more than food


Crispy Broccolini and "Sausage" White Pizza (Vegan)

Appetizer, Entree, VeganHaley HansenComment

In need of a new pizza recipe? Looking to change up your toppings? You've found just the recipe - this Crispy Broccolini and "Sausage" White Pizza is loaded with flavorful ingredients that just so happen to be plant-based. It just might become your new favorite pizza!

It’s 5:42 AM. I’m sitting at my kitchen table, wrapped like a human burrito in my favorite blanket, sipping a cup of coffee, listening to the rain fall, and getting ready to write about this incredible vegan pizza I made the other day. This whole situation is pretty ideal.

The two years I spent as a vegan feel (two years ago) feel like ages ago. So much has changed since then. Occasionally, someone asks about that experience - why did you do it? What was it like? Did you enjoy it? And you stopped because…? I’m happy to answer those questions, and I look back on that time with a smile because I enjoyed most of it - learning about production of meat, dairy, eggs, and fish, adjusting my cooking methods and adopting new ones, baking with vegan alternatives, and trying tasty vegan restaurants. There were, however, some moments that I didn’t enjoy, and we’ll get to those, too.

Crispy Broccolini and "Sausage" White Pizza (Vegan)

I went vegetarian during my freshman year of college because I started working at a vegan café and just felt called to try a meatless diet. At the time, vegan sounded way too far out of my comfort zone, so I included dairy, fish, and eggs. This was also at the time when my eating disorder was just coming down from an all-time high (or low? whatever - the point is I was in a bad place with food and my body), so my restrictions were my restrictions and no one was going to mess with them. I maintained the vegetarian diet for about six months until a friend really started talking to me about veganism. She wasn’t pushy or pressuring, just wanting to educate me. So, for a week, I tried the vegan diet and dove into information and research on animal cruelty, environmental issues, and health risks associated with consuming animal products. In the blink of an eye (or what felt like that, at least), I went vegan.

My parents supported my decision and did a fantastic job at hiding their concerns. We’ve talked about this now and they told me how worried they were, but back then, I couldn’t sense that from them at all. If I had, I might have changed my mind, but who knows. I was pretty stubborn (still am), especially when it came to food.

For the next year and a half, I loved being vegan. Every second. And no, I’m not kidding. I can’t really pinpoint what it was that I loved so much, but I know I just felt good physically. My digestion was fantastic and we will leave that at that. My energy levels were higher than ever, which I needed to work 20 hours a week and go to school full-time. Because I was so busy, I didn’t really have time to go out to eat with friends, so I cooked most of my meals at home and I think that also played a significant role in how comfortable I felt being vegan at the time. I hadn’t yet run into any challenging food situations.

As I approached my two-year vegan anniversary - vegan-iversary? is that weird? - things changed. The tight restrictions I held around food became more and more apparent. I quit my job to focus on school, so I had some more time to spend with friends, and we often went out to eat. Inevitably, the challenging food situations presented themselves. I was the one at the table asking for vegan options, and if there weren’t any, then I was either eating a salad (read: a bowl of lettuce and veggies and maybe some bread on the side because everything else on the salad was taken off to make it vegan) or nothing at all. Sure, there are some delicious vegan-friendly restaurants in my area, but I find that most college-age young adults prefer pizza and barbecue and breakfast burritos and burgers over those more trendy vegan-friendly spots.

Crispy Broccolini and "Sausage" White Pizza (Vegan)

Thoughts of transitioning into a non-vegan diet crossed my mind a few times, but a couple things quickly pushed them out: 1) fear of feeling physically worse and changing my body (the rigid food and exercise restrictions kept me at a size I was too afraid to change), and 2) fear of backlash from the blog - all my readers knew I was vegan and I received so much affirmation from them, and basically built Hungry Haley as a vegan.

A couple of months passed and the thoughts kept popping into my mind, so I let them stay and considered what a non-vegan diet would be like - how might I feel? would anything about me change? would the restrictions and awkward social food situations still be a thing? So many components influenced my decision to transition to a non-vegan diet, the main ones being: 1) social food situations - I wanted to enjoy as much as possible every moment with my friends and my vegan diet felt too restrictive for me in those precious moments sharing food with loved ones, 2) my health - my eating disorder became more apparent and I realized how much of time was tied to my restrictive vegan diet, so I had no choice but to let that go, and 3) a love for all food - cooking and baking are my two biggest passions and I wanted to experiment more in the kitchen with all foods.

So, that’s my story. I still eat vegan meals quite often, and I’ve found that I sometimes prefer these over non-vegan meals. What I wanted most was a diet free of restrictions. I wanted to eat vegan when I wanted to eat vegan, and to enjoy meat, dairy, fish, eggs, etc. when I wanted to. I am by no means claiming that the vegan diet was my eating disorder and that if someone is vegan, he/she has an eating disorder. The diet can be restrictive, and in my situation at the time, I needed to let go of restrictions. And I’m incredibly happy I did.

Whether you’re vegan or non-vegan or purple or green or whatever you are, I made a pizza for you and it’s absolutely delicious! You, as the cook, will know it’s vegan, but your friends/family/guests might just have no idea. My encouragement here is to get in the kitchen, buy some ingredients you might not usually, and whip up a tasty, creative pizza!

For the “sausage”:
1 8-oz. block tempeh
2 tbsp. avocado oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped red onion (about 1/8th of a medium red onion)
1 pinch sea salt
1-2 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce

For the crispy broccolini:
2 cups chopped broccoli (I used the top half of the stalk)
2 tbsp. avocado oil
1 pinch sea salt

For the vegan white sauce:
1 cup cashews, soaked in hot water for at least one hour
1/2 cup almond or soy milk
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
3 tbsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tsp. sea salt
3 tbsp. nutritional yeast

For the pizzas:
2 whole-wheat naan flatbreads from California Lavash
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Fresh chopped basil

  1. Begin by cooking the tempeh. Heat a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat and add 2 tbsp. avocado oil. Let this heat for about a minute, and then crumble the tempeh into the skillet. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, and then add the red onion and garlic and cover. Drizzle the tamari or soy sauce into the skillet, stir, and continue cooking this for another 5 minutes. When the tempeh is crisp with some charred pieces, turn off the heat and cover. Set aside.

  2. Prepare the white sauce. Drain and rinse the cashews, and then place them in a high-powered blender with the almond milk, white wine vinegar, and lemon juice. Blend on high until smooth, then add the garlic, nutritional yeast, and sea salt and blend again until smooth. Transfer to a mason jar with a lid and set aside.

  3. Transfer the tempeh to a bowl and heat the skillet again for the broccolini. Add 2 tbsp. avocado oil and let this heat up for a minute. Toss the broccolini into the skillet, cover, and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until it becomes a vibrant green color and is slightly tender. Uncover, sprinkle with sea salt, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. When it is lightly charred, turn off the heat and set aside.

  4. Preheat the oven to 450 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the white sauce onto each naan flatbread - as much as you’d like. Then, distribute the tempeh “sausage” over the top followed by the broccolini. Transfer the flatbreads to the baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until warm to the touch.

  5. Remove them from the oven and garnish with crushed red pepper flakes and fresh chopped basil. Serve immediately, and store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days.

  6. Enjoy!

This post is sponsored by California Lavash - all opinions and statements are my own. Thanks for supporting my blog!

Crispy Broccolini and "Sausage" White Pizza (Vegan)

Tomato Basil Skillet Pizza Bites (GF)

Appetizer, VegetarianHaley Hansen1 Comment

This post is sponsored by Brazi Bites - all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting my blog!

I strolled through the Anaheim Convention Center at Expo West last year with intention to meet up with some friends and stop and say hello to a small list of companies I work with. Other than that, I spent my time at new-to-me booths with intention because my time is limited now, and in my fourth year of blogging, I’m not here to work with every company that reaches out to me (if you have “keto diet” or “weight loss” in your name or introduction, don’t waste your time on me!).

Tomato Basil Skillet Pizza Bites (GF)

All business matters aside, I also stayed mindful with samples - vendors are not shy in asking (begging?) you to try a sample of their products. A lunch of protein bars and coconut yogurt and chips didn’t sound good to me, so I politely declined most offers. Just when my stomach felt ready for some food, I passed by the Brazi Bites booth and took a couple steps to get a second look. The cutest little dinner-roll-looking bites sat on each tray and the vendors handing them out just smiled. I wanted to know more.

After some back-and-forth conversation, I took a bite into what I now knew was a family recipe for Brazilian cheese bread, or Pao de Queijo. They were GOOD. Like a dinner roll, but moist and flavorful from the addition of cheese, herbs, and spices. And naturally gluten-free!

Tomato Basil Skillet Pizza Bites (GF)

Something pulled me away from the booth, I forget what exactly, but I did not forget about Brazi Bites. How could I have? I’ve eaten my fair share of bread in my 22.5 years of life, and these are not just little bites of cheese bread, or at least not what we know in America. Food fascinates me everyday, and even more so when the cultural background plays such a significant role in the dish.

Fast-forward to about a month ago, when Brazi Bites emailed HungryHaley about a recipe collaboration. I read “Brazi Bites” in the email subject line and practically jumped out of my seat in excitement. Immediately, I began the recipe brainstorming process, but it wasn’t until after I completed my final exams that I could actually get in the kitchen with Brazi Bites and put my ideas to the test.

Tomato Basil Skillet Pizza Bites (GF)

This recipe is a third time’s the charm kinda’ thing - I tested my first idea twice, determined to make it work because of this beautiful cheesy sweet potato sauce that baked over the top of the Brazi Bites. But alas, I had to throw that recipe away when the bites came out… well, not their best in both trials. So, I ditched that idea and came up with this one - it’s ten times simpler, tastier, and prettier (because we eat with our eyes first, you know).

The hours I spent on this recipe only make me love it more, and only make me more confident that you, too, will love it. It’s meant to be an appetizer/shared dish, so either invite yourself to a party and bring it along or plan your own party and cook this up for your guests!

Tomato Basil Skillet Pizza Bites (GF)

Makes 1 skillet, about 4-5 servings

1 bag 3-cheese Pizza Brazi Bites
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp. oil (I prefer avocado or grapeseed here)
1/4 cup sharp white cheddar cheese
Fresh chopped basil, for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F and place a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet inside.

  2. Once the skillet is heated, place about 3/4 of the Brazi Bites on the skillet. Evenly distribute the sliced cherry tomatoes throughout, between the Brazi Bites. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are blistered and the Brazi Bites are golden.

  3. Remove the skillet from the oven and shred the cheese over the top. Broil on high for 3-4 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted and lightly charred. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

  4. Sprinkle the chopped basil and salt and pepper over the top and serve immediately - it is best eaten when hot, fresh from the oven.

  5. Enjoy!

Tomato Basil Skillet Pizza Bites (GF)

Baked Whole-Grain Lavash Chips and Mediterranean Dip (Vegan)

Appetizer, VeganHaley Hansen1 Comment

This post is sponsored by California Lavash - all opinions stated are my own. Thanks for reading and supporting my blog!

Baked Whole-Grain Lavash Chips and Mediterranean Dip (Vegan)

You can put a bowl of chips and salsa down in front of me at a Mexican restaurant and I won’t flinch. My eyes don’t bulge out of my head and my mouth doesn’t salivate, even if both the chips and the salsa are house-made. I know plenty of people who do experience such a reaction, and I can’t really blame them, I guess. Chips and salsa are good. I like them. I might steal a couple, if the salsa is tasty, but I would SO much rather save room for a burrito the size of a small-child, or for tacos with juicy al pastor, or even for a cheesy quesadilla that would make my younger self sing with joy.

Now that I think about this weird thing of mine, it’s not the oil or salt content of the chip that turns me off (that’s what everyone assumes because I’m a nutrition nerd). It’s the texture - much too sharp and honestly, quite painful sometimes. And YES I chew my food enough. With guac, the texture becomes a little less throat-slashing. Is there anything guac can’t do? With salsa, though, forget it. Also, just so you know, I’m coming to all these realizations as I type this now, so it’s as weird for me as it might be for you, if you’re a chip-fanatic.

Baked Whole-Grain Lavash Chips and Mediterranean Dip (Vegan)

I know, I know. I’m saying all this now and then in about two minutes (or however long it takes you to read through this) I’m going to give you my recipe for baked lavash (from California Lavash) chips. Ha. Okay, Haley.

But these are different. Different in ways I can’t articulate, so you’ll just have to trust me because if I can eat a whole plate of these CHIPS for dinner, they must be different. The first time I made them, I spread just the thinnest layer of oil on them and took my eyes off the oven timer for, like, three seconds and they all came out black. So the second time I made them, I avoided the black chips by omitting the oil and reducing their time in the oven. Ba da bing, ba da boom. Beautifully golden brown and crisp.

And the dip… I could eat that for days. Chips. Cucumber. Carrot. Spoon. Finger. Whatever the transport method from bowl to mouth, gimme’ and I’ll eat it. I started with just cashews, avocado, and lemon and garlic in mind, and then added in the spices and acid components as my taste-buds led me to believe fit. That’s how many of the dressings and sauces and… well, other methods of handling various situations in my life go.

Baked Whole-Grain Lavash Chips and Mediterranean Dip (Vegan)

So, you can serve these up for guests when you’re all watching Sunday football, or for a few friends when the clock strikes happy hour, or for yourself whenever you feel like because you are a strong independent human being who don’t need no elaborate, substantial dinner all the dang time.

Baked Whole-Grain Lavash Chips and Mediterranean Dip (Vegan)

Well, thanks for reading about my feelings toward chips and I hope you find these homemade ones just as enjoyable, if not more, as I do! Click here to read more about why I chose whole-grain California Lavash bread for this recipe, and to find nearby locations where you can find some.

For the whole-grain lavash chips:
2-3 California Lavash whole-grain lavash flatbreads, cut into 16 equal squares
2-3 tsp. oil, optional*
Cherry tomatoes, for serving
Mediterranean Lemon Parsley Dip

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and spread out the lavash squares on top. If you choose to use oil, lightly rub it on both sides of each square. Bake for 5-6 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Remove from the oven and cool.

  2. Prepare the dip according to directions and set aside.

  3. Chop the cherry tomatoes and serve alongside the lavash chips and avocado dip. Store leftover dip in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.

  4. Enjoy!

*I tried using oil and I found that my chips came out burnt, so I tried without oil and found that they still tasted great. If you choose to use oil, decrease the baking time by a few minutes and keep a close eye on them to prevent burning.


Cauliflower Quinoa Tots (GF, Dairy-free)

Appetizer, GF, VegetarianHaley Hansen1 Comment

These Cauliflower Quinoa Tots are calling all snack-lovers, appetizer-fanatics, and hors-de-vours-addicts. A healthier alternative to the traditional fried tater tot, these tots are packed with packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, AND tons of flavor. Nothing to miss out on here! Bring these to game-day gatherings and dinner parties, and guests of all ages will love them.

What if I didn’t include a recipe for this? Like, no ingredients list, no measurements, no instructions, no notes. If I just handed you a bag of cauliflower and quinoa and spices, what would you do? Because sometimes life hands you lemons and sugar and a pitcher and you make lemonade. But sometimes life hands you a bag of ingredients like cauliflower processed into “rice” and quinoa and nutritional yeast and you’re like, “Yeah, okay. Cool.”

Cauliflower Quinoa Tots (GF)

To say that this post is long overdue sounds like I am obligated to post everything about my life and my thoughts and my struggles on this blog, which is not true, technically, because I do want to share things here. Name one blogger who doesn’t want to share (recipes, ideas, thoughts, pictures, his/her story, etc.). Exactly.

Seriously though, what would you do if I handed you a bag of ingredients you had no idea what to do with? Because – could you guess? – that’s what life is doing to me right now. The ingredients its handing me are ones I’ve worked with before, so often in fact that motivation to cook up a tasty, unique dish is diminishing as we speak.

Instead of cauliflower, I have in my hands feelings I’m so tired of, but don’t know what to do with. Instead of quinoa, I have a lack of motivation to open my Bible for the umpteenth day in a row. And instead of nutritional yeast and spices, I have sprinkles of this and handles of that which don’t feel like much independently, but dang do they add up. Instead of a recipe, I have my own head to sort through a jumble of thoughts and emotions. 

This isn’t me complaining to you about all that is going on and I sincerely hope it doesn’t feel that way as you read this – please tell me you’ve gotten this far. This is me reminding both of us that accepting and embracing the lack of a recipe is sometimes all we can do. I’ve been deterred from sharing this – though it’s been on my mind for months now – because it’s the first time in a long time I haven’t figured something out before sharing it in this space (which I need to caution myself frequently that people actually read now and it isn’t just my thoughts + me escaping the world).

This is me using my lack of understanding and knowledge to encourage both of us because not always will the answer present itself conveniently or quickly to us. This is me letting you know that I’m a human behind this screen and I make mistakes, I confuse myself, and I don’t have life wrapped around my finger. I cry sometimes, too (read: I cry a lot… sometimes).

This is me reminding both of us that there is someone bigger than us working on life for us, and even when it feels and smells like a pile of squishy yellow quinoa-cauliflower-ness, that God (that "someone") can make life turn out pretty damn tasty if we just keep moving forward and trusting.

Cauliflower Quinoa Tots (GF)

Makes about 16 tots

1 1/2 cups cauliflower rice
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 eggs
2 tbsp. tahini
1 tsp. mustard
3/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
 1/4 cup chopped parsley
Optional: ketchup for serving (I love Tessemae's

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg, tahini, and mustard. Add the cauliflower rice, cooked quinoa, and almond meal, and stir to coat in the wet egg mixture.

  3. Next, stir in the nutritional yeast, spices, and parsley. Scoop golfball-size portions and roll into an egg shape. Distribute these on the pan - it should make about 16, but will vary depending on the size of each.

  4. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until golden brown and firm. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

  5. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!

Cauliflower Quinoa Tots (GF)

Cauliflower Skillet with Avocado Cashew Crema (Vegan, GF)

GF, Appetizer, VeganHaley Hansen2 Comments

Skillet-roasted cauliflower topped with an Avocado Cashew Crema - what could be better? Cauliflower tenderizes and crisps up in the cast-iron skillet, and the creamy avocado cashew sauce adds a flavor and texture dimension that perfectly compliments it. This simple veggie dish is delicious on its own, or served alongside an entree any time of year. 

When it comes to savory recipes, I try. I really really try. Like, I aspire to have Kate's simplicity and Andrea's creativity. My parents - or "Santa", should I say? - bought me several cookbooks for Christmas (thanks, guys!), which I piled atop the several more I've purchased for myself as "rewards" for a) studying hard for an exam and/or b) earning a high score on that exam (it's more often the first than the second). My new favorite night-time relaxation activity is just to plop myself on the couch with two or three of these in front of me and flip through page after page after page, turning into a sponge to absorb anything and everything I can.

Cauliflower Skillet with Avocado Cashew Crema

On other nights, when I realize I haven't quite taken more than four or five steps out the door at all that day, Barnes and Noble is where it's AT, people. More often than not, I'm in my pajamas/comfy clothes by this time and in no way motivated enough to change into something I feel like I should wear out of the house. But pajamas/comfy clothes make sitting on the floor in Barnes and Noble reading through books like Brunch at Bobby's and Nutritious Delicious that much better. I know, my Friday nights as a college student are c r a z y. 

Cauliflower Skillet with Avocado Cashew Crema

Point of the story: I TRY to create dinner recipes and lunch recipes and appetizer recipes because I love eating those just as much as I love eating cookies and brownies and cake (more or less). But I am not good at it, guys. I close whatever book it is I'm reading to give myself a minute for the creative juices to flow, but my mind doesn't have many savory-recipe-juices to flow. If that makes any sense/doesn't sound weird. 

If there's a how-to method for this kind of thing, please point me in its direction. I'll pay you in cookies. 

Coming to this realization is simultaneously opening my eyes to the "niche" for which I'd been searching for what feels like five-ever. Mostly sweet baked goods: breakfast items and dessert items made with nutrient-dense ingredients AND soul-satisfying ones. And then a few savory things (for when the cookies and coffee cakes overwhelm): some simple black bean burgers and my favorite roasted sweet potato wedges

Nights spent reading through cookbooks will continue, whether or not they help me expand my savory cooking skills. Yeah, I like the sound of that :) 

Tell me, what's YOUR favorite Friday night relaxation activity? What's YOUR favorite veggie side dish? Leave a comment below!

Makes 2-3 servings

For the cauliflower:
1/2 large cauliflower head, cut into florets
1 tbsp. oil (I recommend avocado or grapeseed oil for high-heat cooking) 
a pinch of salt and pepper
Avocado Cashew Crema
Crushed red pepper flakes, for garnish (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 425F and place cast-iron skillet on the middle rack in the oven. 
  2. Toss cauliflower florets in the oil with salt and pepper. Spread over the skillet in a single layer and bake for 20 minutes on the middle rack. 
  3. Stir the florets around in the skillet and bake for another 10-15 on the top rack in the oven. 
  4. If the florets aren't browning by now, broil them on high for 2-3 minutes. Keep a close eye on them because they can burn quickly! Remove from oven and cool slightly. 
  5. Prepare the Avocado Cashew Crema while the cauliflower cools. Drizzle over the top of the cauliflower and sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes. 
  6. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Cauliflower Skillet with Avocado Cashew Crema

Roasted Garlic White Cheddar Sweet Potato Wedges (GF)

Appetizer, VegetarianHaley HansenComment

Garlic compliments sweet potato like a loving husband tells his wife how beautiful she is. Have I convinced you of this combination yet? Topped with bold white cheddar cheese, these roasted sweet potato wedges are a healthier baked version of the restaurant classic!

Even when I force myself to create a savory recipe for the blog, I still gravitate towards something sweet (hence: sweet potato). 

Roasted Garlic White Cheddar Sweet Potato Wedges

This transition into more of a baked-goods-blog came about as I, more and more, began noticing a burnt smell every time I cooked, as I struggled each night to brainstorm a recipe for dinner, as I faced the fact that I'm really not a creative cook. Like, yeah, I bake some chicken thighs that I really like, I can whip up a mean salad, I have a couple handy meal-prep-ish recipes I turn to weekly, but I just don't have the savory-tooth. Oh, and I think it's worth mentioning that I've burned garlic more times than I care to count. 

I'm writing this at 9 PM, three hours after Thanksgiving dinner and two hours after dessert. My first 100% non-restricted Thanksgiving surpassed expectations I didn't even know I had because I didn't even know such a freedom could exist. Turkey, green bean casserole, mac n' cheese (!!!), cranberry sauce, mashed sweet potatoes, stuffing, sweet rolls - I wanted some of it all. None of it landed on my plate to show the host politeness in accepting the food she cooked. This year, I promised myself I'd listen to my body. And that I did. 

Try everything, I sure did that, as well. Mac n' cheese took the gold at first bite, in my opinion. Buuuuuuut... 

Roasted Garlic White Cheddar Sweet Potato Wedges (GF)

... I was ten times more ready for chocolate sweet potato pie and homemade oatmeal raisin cookies (coming soon) and dark-chocolate frosted almond butter chickpea blondies. AND my stomach was about ten times as full when dessert rolled around as it was before we even started eating. That says something. 

Whatever that says, it's a blessing because if I hated sweets and couldn't cook, well, I wouldn't be sitting here continuing this whole blogging thing I've got going on. I also wouldn't be pondering tomorrow's breakfast - leftover hearty oatmeal raisin cookies? Mmmhm. 

But because I whooped my own butt these past few months squeezing out every last bit of savory creativity I had, I can't just trash those recipes and turn only to baking chocolate-chip-this and banana-bread-that. Ya' know? It's a pride thing. And since "balance" for me is a combination of both sweet and savory, usually leaning more heavily on the side of the latter, I'll give a little bit of both. 

For the non-sweets, lately I've been digging anything with cheese on top, inside, or anywhere nearby. Thankfully, my stomach handles dairy like a champ, so I'll be covering my sweet potato wedges in creamy, melty, sharp cheddar cheese from now on! 

Roasted Garlic White Cheddar Sweet Potato Wedges (GF)

Makes 1 serving 

1 large sweet potato, washed/scrubbed and dried
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. avocado oil
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1/4-1/3 cup shredded sharp white cheddar
Fresh cilantro, for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Slice the sweet potato into wedges no larger than 1" thick. Toss in a bowl with avocado oil and sprinkle with garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper. 
  3. Transfer to baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, flip, and bake another 10-12 or until tender when pierced with a fork. 
  4. Remove from oven and top with shredded sharp white cheddar. Broil on high for 3-4 minutes and cool before serving. 
  5. Top with fresh cilantro and enjoy!
Roasted Garlic White Cheddar Sweet Potato Wedges (GF)

Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries (Vegan, GF, Paleo)

Appetizer, VeganHaley HansenComment

Not the least bit fried, but still the crispiest "fried" zucchini! This baked version of a classic is healthier AND easier - made with almond flour and simple spices. These Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries can be served as a party appetizer, mid-day snack, or delicious side to a dinner entree. 

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)

"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

  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)