Hungry Haley

it's more than food

Lunch

Honey Mustard Chickpea Farro Salad for Two (Vegan option, Dairy-free)

Entree, Lunch, Salad, VegetarianHaley Hansen2 Comments

Here to save you from a lunch-routine rut with colorful, flavorful Honey Mustard Chickpea Farro Salads! These come together in less than 20 minutes and can easily become your favorite simple, tasty, and nourishing weekday lunch.

Honey Mustard Chickpea Farro Salad for Two (Vegan option, Dairy-free)

Lunches can be confusing. How much do I want to eat? What do I want to eat (duh)? Am I more of a snack or a substantial meal kinda person? How will I transport my lunch? And of course, when will I find the time to eat it? One last question: am I taking lunch too seriously? It’s an important matter. I spent years in junior high and high school eating sandwiches every. single. day. and right now I’m just not into that. Like, I have a kitchen in which I cook dinner six out of seven nights a week and leftovers are almost always a thing, so lunch should be manageable. Shouldn’t it?

Class starts at noon everyday this quarter, and I’d sure as heck eat in class if they weren’t such stressful classes. I want to enjoy my food, thank you. I don’t want to eat my lunch while learning about paracentesis (look it up) or while sifting through pages and pages and pages of research articles on the effect of a high-fat diet on endurance exercise performance. Every minute throughout these classes feels like a mouthful, so I’d prefer not to add a literal mouthful to the equation.

I walk from my house to school each day, which takes maybe 20 minutes one way, and if I discipline myself well enough to leave on time, it’s quite an enjoyable walk. The return home, however, is a different story. You know, I imagine it’s like the drive home from work for you grown adults/full-time office professionals - there’s traffic, you’re tired, you’re hungry, and you just want to be home. I understand. Passersby might think I’m a training for the Olympic speed-walking team, just watching how quickly my legs move in anticipation of being at home with food.

Food. Lunch. That’s what we were talking about! By the time I make it back home, I want food and I’d really appreciate it as soon as possible, please. But the thing is that it’s mid-late afternoon and now I’m confused and asking myself some of those aforementioned questions all over again. My trusty go-to’s are carrots and hummus, toast, pasta salad, or those leftover roasted veggies from last night. All filling options, but nothing satisfying for my current cravings, which is an actual lunch: a balanced meal with carbs and protein and fat and, of course, flavor and texture and color. Aesthetic and a fancy name maybe with some specialty ingredients from Whole Foods or something are bonuses.

I first made this salad right after I made and ate an actual lunch for the first time in weeks, so I admired it’s beauty and then packed it up to eat over the course of the next few days. If my friends were into as into food as I am, I would’ve, like, snap-chatted this to all of them. Instead, I texted a picture to Mom and Uncle Tom - two of my foodie bff’s (adult version? I don’t know) - with a full breakdown of all the ingredients and how I made it.

GENIUS IDEA, HALEY - you should post this on your blog! I love my thoughts sometimes. Here ya’ go, lunch-lovers!

Honey Mustard Chickpea Farro Salad for Two (Vegan option, Dairy-free)

Makes 2 servings

For the salad:
1/2 cup uncooked farro
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups organic curly kale
2 large organic carrots, peeled and chopped into thin discs
1/2 ripe avocado
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 lemon, cut in half
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish
Crushed red pepper flakes, for garnish (optional)

For the honey mustard dressing:
2 tbsp. brown mustard
2 tbsp. raw honey
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt

1. Cook the farro. In a small saucepan, stir the farro with 1 cup filtered water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, stir, and reduce heat to low. Continue cooking until the liquid has evaporated - the grains will double in size and may be . Then remove from heat and set aside.

2. Assemble the bowls. Divide the kale evenly between two bowls and drizzle each portion with 1/4 lemon wedge and 1 tsp. EVOO. Massage the lemon and oil into the kale leaves until they soften and turn a bright green color. Next, divide the chickpeas evenly between the bowls, followed by the carrots, avocado, and red onion.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing until smooth. Drizzle this evenly over the salad bowls, and then top with sea salt and pepper, fresh chopped cilantro, and crushed red pepper (if using).

4. Serve immediately, or pack in airtight containers and store in the fridge for up to one week until you’re ready to eat them. They make perfect weekday lunches!

5. Enjoy!

NOTES:

Double this to make four salads - meal-prep for the week!

Honey Mustard Chickpea Farro Salad for Two (Vegan option, Dairy-free)

Pesto Pasta Salad (GF, Dairy-free)

Entree, GF, Lunch, Pasta, Salad, VegetarianHaley Hansen1 Comment

A Pesto Pasta Salad that is creamy and bursting with vibrant flavors - this dish comes to life with fresh basil, hearty pasta, and a healthier mayo-infused pesto sauce. It's ideal for warm-weather picnics, meal-prep lunches, and any other craving for a quick, refreshing, and delicious pasta salad. 

Ready for some life updates? I hope so, because nothing else excitingly news-worthy or funny or highly deserving of mentioning here is coming to mind. Talking about myself doesn't come easily and I don't like to do it often, but I do need to remind myself every so often that this is my own space and occasional sharing about my life is not selfish. Right? 

First life update: I conquered the absolute most challenging quarter of my four-and-a-half years in school! By the end of the 11 weeks, I'd completed 17 units, 15 quizzes, 13 midterms, 7 finals, 4 groups projects, and 1 essay. Don't ask about my social life because it didn't exist. I survived because I knew before the quarter began that it was going to be extremely difficult. I struggled because I simply could not find the desire to pray about it, to read my Bible, to worship in church on Sundays (or even go to church, for that matter). Not seeking God, for a combination of complex reasons, made the anatomy midterms and the metabolism lab reports seem like a piece of cake. 

Second life update: I finally found the desire to seek God again. Be it the far less stressful load this quarter, the understanding that life is indescribably tough without a relationship with Him, or a combination of the two, I'm not sure. I'm just thankful that when I wake up in the morning and bring my bible downstairs to read it while I drink my coffee, I actually do read it instead of just stare at it.  

Third life update:  my parents moved from the house in SoCal in which we've spent the last 15 years to a new house in Minnesota. And this happened, like, three days ago, so we're still processing the fact that the pages of our family's book have actually turned for good and it's time to let God starting writing the new chapter for us. Saying goodbye - both to the house and to the friends we've made in California that feel like family - was, by a landslide, the hardest part. Granted, I didn't take part in any of the logistics of the whole process - the signing of various papers, talking with the realtor, etc. My parents have been ready to move for a while, as SoCal became too expensive, too crowded, and too far removed from our family for just the two of them to handle (my brother and I both love elsewhere). So, here's to beginning the new chapter! 

Pesto Pasta Salad (GF, Dairy-free)

Fourth life update: In just under two months, most of my best friends will graduate from Cal Poly and prepare to move back home, to grad school, or wherever a job is waiting for them. Excited for their futures and proud of them, you bet I am. Nervously anticipating the day they all leave, you bet I am. But we aren't going to think about that yet! Instead, we're going to be thankful my class load this quarter allows me to actually spend time with them and be present in each moment, be it watching movies and giggling about dumb jokes on Friday nights or wine tasting on weekend afternoons. Gosh, I love them. 

And that's all I've got for life updates at the moment. I hope you found them interesting! Thanks for reading along :) 

Pesto Pasta Salad (GF, Dairy-free)

PS this is, by a long-shot, the best pasta salad I have e v e r made. The six servings lasted me maybe three days. Just sayin'. 

Makes 6 servings (with extra pesto) 

For the pesto: 
4 cups fresh basil leaves, torn and stems removed
1/4 cup walnuts
3 tbsp. nutritional yeast
2 tbsp. oil (grapeseed, avocado, or olive work best) 
1 shallot, diced
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the pasta: 
8 oz. pasta (I used Banza
3/4 cup mayo (I love the Primal Kitchen brand)
1/2 cup pesto
2 cups kale, washed and trimmed
2 cup finely sliced red cabbage
1 tbsp. oil
mixed greens, for serving (optional)

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Strain and cool. If using Banza pasta, I recommend also rinsing with cool water to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Set aside.

  2. Prepare the pesto while the pasta cools by pulsing the ingredients in a food processor until the basil leaves are finely chopped and the nuts are almost a finely ground consistency. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

  3. In a large mixing bowl (I used a huge casserole dish - whatever works), massage the kale leaves with 1 tbsp. oil to soften them. They will turn a beautiful, vibrant green color and tenderize, which is much easier for digestion. Add the chopped cabbage and pasta and stir to combine.

  4. In the bowl with the pesto, stir in the mayo until well incorporated and then add this to the mixing bowl with the pasta and veggies. Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to mix the pesto aioli (mayo + pesto = pesto aioli) in with the pasta and veggies until everything is coated with the aioli.

  5. Serve with mixed greens and sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes.

  6. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Enjoy!

Pesto Pasta Salad (GF, Dairy-free)

Ham and Chive Cream Cheese Sandwich

Entree, LunchHaley HansenComment

The classic childhood favorite - ham and cheese sandwich - gets a flavor-packed upgrade here. An easy-to-whip-up Chive Cream Cheese adds depth and richness to slightly sweet ham, stacked between thick-sliced whole-grain bread. Ideal for weekday lunches, no matter your age! 

The downhill slide off a sugar-rush never tasted so delicious. 

And by sugar-rush, I mean the four-month-long baking spree during which chocolate-chunk bread pudding and salted caramel brownies and sweet buttery coffee cake (oh my!)  became staples. My sweet tooth is undefeatable - then again, I haven't actually tried too hard to defeat it in a while, nor do I foresee such an attempt anytime soon... ever. 

I cannot identify from where the inspiration for this sandwich came, other than the herb cream cheese spread of which I was sneaking (shamelessly so) spoonfuls into my mouth while assembling everything needed for this shoot. For a friend's birthday dinner party a few weeks ago, I was told to bring an appetizer, side, or dessert. Knowing the other guests would expect me to bring a decadent dessert, I tossed back and forth between cookies and brownies. Then, I somehow landed on buffalo cauliflower wins. Thennnnn, I ended up on zucchini fries. And finally, I brainstormed a recipe that requires not a single minute on the stove or in the oven (because I remembered the amount of midterms and quizzes I should actually have been studying for) - mini sweet peppers with herb cream cheese spread. 

Ham and Herb Cream Cheese Sandwich

The cream cheese is here and needs no explanation because it's cream cheese and it's unbeatable. The Greek yogurt is here because cream cheese is thicker than the gyri of the sheep brain I dissected in anatomy a few weeks ago (sorry if that was TMI) and needs a thinner, lighter complement. Plus, protein and healthy bacteria practically define Greek yogurt. And I love nutrition like I love my morning cup of coffee - can't live without it. 

My spur-of-the-moment peppers fit right in with store-bought hummus and veggie trays and cheese, sausage, and cracker plates. Immediately I felt thankful for the midterms and quizzes that steered me away from spending more time on buffalo cauliflower.

Ham and Herb Cream Cheese Sandwich

For the next week, I dipped crisp sticks of celery and fresh mini sweet peppers into leftover herb cream cheese and could not - could n o t - wait for the minute I got my hands on the best whole-grain sourdough and deli sliced ham for a sandwich with a not-for-the-faint-of-heart helping of this herb cream cheese. 

Again, I cannot identify from where this inspiration came, and with it a craving for more savory things here. But, I won't spend too much time digging for that answer. Instead, I'll chase the craving as per usual and see deliciousness I can conjure up.

Makes 1 sandwich 

For the sandwich:
2 slices whole-grain bread
2-3 oz. thinly sliced sliced ham
1 cup spinach leaves

For the herb cream cheese:
8-oz. block of cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup greek yogurt
1 handful chopped chives
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, yogurt, chives, and salt and pepper until smooth and fluffy. Set aside. 
  2. Toast the bread (if desired) and spread a spoonful of chive cream cheese on each slice. Top with spinach leaves, then sliced ham, and the other slice of bread. 
  3. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Ham and Herb Cream Cheese Sandwich

Grilled Turkey, Gouda, and Greens Sandwich

Lunch, SandwichHaley HansenComment

Not your average grilled cheese, this loaded sandwich exceeds all expectations. Creamy smoked gouda plus hearty sliced turkey and refreshing greens makes for a grilled cheese sandwich that can't be beat! 

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

Crispy homemade falafel over fresh greens - a salad with more flavor and texture than ever! Whip this Easy Falafel Salad with Tahini Dressing up in less than 30 minutes for a refreshing Middle-Eastern-inspired lunch or dinner with tons of veggies. 

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)

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)

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)