Hungry Haley

it's more than food

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!


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

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

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)

Veggie Chili Super Bowls with Cheddar-Parmesan Bites (GF)

Entree, GF, VegetarianHaley Hansen1 Comment

The Super Bowl, to me, is as good as the company and the snacks. The half-time show comes next, then the entertaining commercials, annnnnd then the actual game. Please, don’t tell me you’re surprised.

Veggie Chili Super Bowls with Cheddar-Parmesan Bites (GF)

I’ve never been a fan of football, really, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. My guess is that, when I’m capable of hosting my own Super Bowl party (which I someday will, despite being totally removed from football culture), guests will just know I’ll be in the kitchen. Sure, I’ll make my way out to socialize, watch a few commercials and of course the half-time show, and assess the liking of the food. But for the majority of the time, if you need me, come to the kitchen and if I need you, I’ll get you an apron.

Last year, around this time, I was buried deeper than ever before in school work (basically taking 7 classes and volunteering and working part-time), and we won’t talk about that too much, but the constant - literally c o n s t a n t - presence in my mind of genetics + foodservice management + anatomy + metabolism drove me almost insane. And I say “almost” because I discovered the Bon Appetit Foodcast in the midst of all that rigid science and I firmly believe it saved my life. In the span of three months that was the most challenging quarter of all of college, I think I listened and re-listened to 80% of the episodes. Much of that time was also spent multitasking walking to and from campus, just so you know that I wasn’t a totally sad, isolated human being.

Veggie Chili Super Bowls with Cheddar-Parmesan Bites (GF)

One of the first episodes I listened to was allllll about the Super Bowl. Carla Lalli Music, Adam Rapoport, and Gabe (sorry, Gabe, I don’t know and can’t find your last name on the internet, but you’re awesome!) discussed, argued about, and described the intricacies and traditions behind their favorite Super Bowl-themed recipes. From chicken wings to beers, from gumbo to bahn mi sandwiches, these three opened my eyes to a whole new feeling of enjoyment around food. It felt fun and I desperately needed fun with all the dry talk of iron absorption and elementary school lunch programs and bones in the upper thigh and alleles. It felt approachable and I loved that because only a few months before, I decided to focus the blog on sweets only after feeling sooooo not talented in the savory realm of food.

Finally, I felt inspired. I didn’t just feel it, actually. It rolled out of me in the most genuine form of laughter, even when listening to three food experts I’ve never even met. It shot through my veins, keeping me going during my 10-hour days on campus. It gave a new edge to my passion. Bon Appetit, Carla, Adam, Gabe - if you’re reading this, please know that your podcast has changed my life and I’m probably not the only person to feel that way.

Veggie Chili Super Bowls with Cheddar-Parmesan Bites (GF)

There was an undefinable set of standards I was trying to meet for each savory recipe I came up with, and finally, I was able to cook without that pressure. Cooking should feel approachable, exciting, and inspiring for our individually creative brains. This year, I challenged myself to come up with something Super-Bowl-themed to highlight Brazi Bites - an unbelievable, authentic Brazilian cheese bread - and felt so stumped until I released myself and my creativity from some made-up set of standards even I couldn’t describe. And I chose Brazi Bites because they, too, cook from their culturally inspired, individual creativity. They are approachable, yet tasteful. They are exciting, inspiring, and absolutely delicious.

I don’t know what my plans are for the Super Bowl this year, but I know I want to encourage others to cook without standards. I want to share authenticity rooted in tradition, and also beaming with creativity, the way Brazi Bites do.

Makes 4 servings

1 medium white onion, diced into 1/2” pieces
1 small zucchini, chopped into 1/4” rounds and then quarters
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped curly kale
2 tbsp. avocado oil (or grapeseed oil)
1 15-oz. can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
2 15-oz. cans low-sodium beans, drained and rinsed (I used black beans and pinto beans)
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 bag Cheddar & Parmesan Brazi Bites
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup shredded grass-fed white cheddar cheese
1 ripe avocado
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
Thinly sliced radish, for garnish (optional)

  1. Begin by cooking the veggies. Heat a large (10-12”) cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add the 2 tbsp. oil, swirl, and let this heat up for about a minute. Sprinkle in the chili powder and spices to the oil - this is called blooming and it enhances the spice flavor. Then toss in the chopped onion, cover, and cook until translucent and lightly charred, about 8 minutes.

  2. Add the minced garlic and chopped zucchini. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the zucchini has softened and lightly charred. Add the kale, cover and turn the heat to low, and cook until it turns a vibrant green color. Season with sea salt and pepper.

  3. Now, pour in the crushed tomatoes and beans and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let the chili cook for about 8-10 more minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so.

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

  5. Place the frozen Cheddar-Parmesan Brazi Bites on the baking sheet, leaving about an inch between each bite. Bake these according to package directions - 18-20 minutes at 400F.

  6. Assemble the chili bowls when the Brazi Bites have about 5 minutes left. Scoop the chili into bowls and top with shredded cheddar, avocado, fresh cilantro, and sliced radish.

  7. Remove the Brazi Bites from the oven and serve alongside the warm chili. They’re perfect for dipping or just enjoying as a complement.

  8. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week or in the freezer for one month.

  9. Enjoy!

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

Veggie Chili Super Bowls with Cheddar-Parmesan Bites (GF)

Creamy Garlic Pasta with Crispy Brussels Sprouts (Vegan, GF)

Haley HansenComment

It was just a typical night after track practice during my sophomore year of high school. I came home - exhausted, parched, and ravished, as always - and snacked on a few dark-chocolate-covered dried berries before starting on some homework. A few hours passed and Mom called us all down for dinner, which I can’t remember exactly, except for one specific dish: brussel sprouts.

Creamy Garlic Pasta with Crispy Brussels Sprouts (Vegan, GF)

My 16-year-old self thought the little green frog-ball-look-alike of a vegetable was okaaaay, but definitely not a favorite. Whatever, though - I wasn’t picky at that time. We finished dinner, I showered, completed a few more homework assignments, and crawled into bed. Then, it hit me - you know, that feeling in your stomach that sometimes even might crawl up into your throat, slowly increasing your heart rate to tell you something’s not quite right in your body? I popped up out of bed (throwing up is my absolute most despised form of sickness) and carefully walked myself over to the restroom, not wanting to further upset anything going on in my stomach.

I will spare you the details and just tell you I repeated the process of hunch myself over to the bathroom —> get sick —> crawl back into bed —> feel the sickness creep up again at least two more times before the big one hit. One last time, at around midnight, I thought I’d get sick again, so I crouched down in the bathroom just waiting. It didn’t come. Weird, but hey, I won’t force it. I mustered up the energy to stand back up and head back to bed, and then everything went black.

Creamy Garlic Pasta with Crispy Brussels Sprouts (Vegan, GF)

Some amount of time passed and I woke up on my bathroom floor with my back against the cabinet, my t-shirt caught on one of my drawers, leaving my arm just kind of hanging there and making the whole scene pretty creepy looking. My first thought was that my head HURT like it never had before. I unhooked my arm from the knob and felt the back of my head, discovering enough blood on my hand to really freak me out. Adrenaline (and fear) pumped me up out of the bathroom and across the hall to my parents’ bedroom, where I ever-so-gently nudged my mom awake with the words, “hey, Mom, umm.. I fell in the bathroom and hit my head and now it’s bleeding.” And let me tell you - I spent years waking up my mom in the middle of the night to tell her I had a bad dream and ask her to come help me fall back asleep. Those nights, she’d slowly pull herself out of her cozy bed and walk with me back to mine. But this night, boy did she pop straight up out of her cozy sleeping situation with a fearful, “WHAT?”

Creamy Garlic Pasta with Crispy Brussels Sprouts (Vegan, GF)

So, then Dad woke up and sat with me while Mom called the ER. “Oh, yeah it’s not too bad,” Dad comforted me, but I later found out from him that the head wound was, in fact, pretty bad. The rest of this story is mainly just the three of us driving to the hospital, explaining to the doctor what happened, watching the nurse hook up three bags of water to pump into me because I was that dehydrated, and then feeling the warm, tender, love and care of her punch staples into the back of my head. Please, don’t miss the sarcasm there.

All in all, I hated brussel sprouts from that moment on until about three weeks ago. You’ve had those foods, right? The ones that you eat and then coincidentally, a couple hours later, you’re curled over the toilet getting sick and cursing some food you ate within the 12 hours, blaming it for your pain. Yeah, that was brussel sprouts for me. But here’s the good news: I gave them a second chance and obviously loved them because here we are, highlighting crispy brussel sprouts and even giving them a spot in the title of this recipe.

Creamy Garlic Pasta with Crispy Brussels Sprouts (Vegan, GF)

The key to making these brussel sprouts extra lovable: cook them in a cast-iron skillet with more oil than you might usually use. I explain this process in the directions, but basically, the cast-iron skillet helps them crisp up and covering them with a lid for a portion of the cooking process helps them steam and soften a little bit, reducing the bitterness and amping up the texture.

Ba da bing, ba da boom!

Makes 3-4 servings

For the cashew garlic sauce:
1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup almond milk
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
2 tsp. sea salt

For the pasta:
1 box Banza Cavatappi
2 cups organic brussel sprouts, washed and patted dry
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. avocado oil
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh chopped chives, for garnish

  1. Make the cashew sauce. Drain and rinse the cashews, then pat them dry with a paper towel. In a high-power blender, combine the cashews, lemon juice, EVOO, and milk. Blend until smooth, and then add the nutritional yeast and sea salt. Blend again until the sauce is homogenous. Transfer this to an airtight container, such as a mason jar with a tight screw-on lid. Set aside.

  2. Cook the brussel sprouts. Chop the brussel sprouts into halves for small ones, and quarters for large ones. Each piece should be no bigger than your thumb. Heat a large nonstick skillet or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the avocado oil and let it heat up for 1-2 minutes, then add the brussel sprouts, cover, and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional 6-7 minutes, uncovered, and stirring occasionally. When the brussel sprouts are tender when pierced with a fork and lightly charred on the surface, they are done - turn off the heat and cover to keep them warm.

  4. While the brussel sprouts cook, begin cooking the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the pasta. Cook for about 8-9 minutes, or until al denté. Drain and rise the pasta with room temperature water to prevent it from sticking together.

  5. Assemble the plates with a handful of pasta and toss with about 2-3 tablespoons of cashew garlic sauce. Add brussel sprouts and stir. Top with sea salt and pepper and fresh chives.

  6. Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week.

  7. Enjoy!

Creamy Garlic Pasta with Crispy Brussels Sprouts (Vegan, GF)

Sweet Potato, Sausage, and Kale Hash (Gluten-free, Dairy-free)

Entree, GFHaley Hansen4 Comments

A little bit sweet, a little bit salty, all sorts of delicious. This Sweet Potato, Sausage, and Kale Hash comes together in under 40 minutes - satisfying, simple, and seriously tasty!

The more time I spend in the salty, savory side of the kitchen, the more comfortable I feel and the more I understand what types of cooking I gravitate towards. For so long, I’ve been flipping through my favorite Bon Appetit magazines (literally every single one I can find) and finding myself staring in awe at the creativity behind these recipes, the boldness of flavors and combinations. But I didn’t think I had that talent - whatever it was - to conjure up something to eye-catching and mouth-watering.

Sweet Potato, Sausage, and Kale Hash (Gluten-free, Dairy-free)

I’ve got no professional training anywhere in the kitchen, and yet I feel as comfortable baking as my dog does laying on the couch. Hmmm. My kitchen isn’t the place for the classic sweet, doughy cinnamon rolls or the huge buttery chocolate chip cookies. Mine is the kitchen that stores gluten-free whole-grain flours, coconut sugar and maple syrup, flaxseeds, dark chocolate chips and various nuts and seeds, full-fat yogurt and kefir, and the list of modern-day, healthier alternatives for baking goes on.

Self-taught. That’s the word I’m looking for. Books upon books upon books. Blogs, newspapers, magazines, websites, work experience, personal experience - they’ve all contributed to my knowledge and creativity when I tie up my apron. And there’s passion, too, of course. Lots of it. Confidence in my abilities and my creations is the sum of all that experience, knowledge, and passion.

Sweet Potato, Sausage, and Kale Hash (Gluten-free, Dairy-free)

Whether you’re a food-blogger, too, or just a reader, a restaurant chef or a home-cook, you’ve surely cooked at least one meal in your life and you know the questions that come up just before you sit down to share that with others or just yourself: “Is this even good? Did I cook it all the way? Will everyone else like it? Will they still like me even if this is horrible?” I’m all too familiar with those questions, but I want to conquer my insecurities about cooking. I want to feel comfortable sautéing, grilling, pan-frying, roasting, and presenting a dish. I want to know flavors and vegetables and meats and grains so well that I can just imagine the tasteful combinations in my head, eager to test them out in the kitchen for dinner that night. I also would like to break out of my 75%-of-the-time-rut of roasted sweet potatoes, fried eggs, and avocado for dinner. My excuses are always 1) college (budgeting, limited kitchen space and appliances, etc.) and 2) a busy schedule.

Sweet Potato, Sausage, and Kale Hash (Gluten-free, Dairy-free)

I’ve applied to cooking what I have to baking - I’m not professionally trained in either, but I have a deep passion for both. I don’t bake in any traditional way and my recipes are unique. So, why do I hesitate to confidently say the same about my cooking? Just like my muffins and cookies are my own and not Bon Appetit’s, not Pinterest’s most popular, not paleo, not vegan (not always), not sugar-loaded, or whatever, so my sandwiches and hashes are also my own and not any of those things either. But I still love them. I’m still passionate about them. They’re tried and true and simple, delicious, nourishing, and satisfying.

Sweet Potato, Sausage, and Kale Hash (Gluten-free, Dairy-free)

Makes 2-3 servings

1 large sweet potato, washed, scrubbed, and patted dry
1 medium white onion, peeled
2 cups roughly chopped kale, stems removed
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 pasture-raised chicken sausage links*
3 tbsp. avocado oil (grapeseed oil also works), divided
2-3 pasture-raised eggs
1 avocado
Fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Heat a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or frying pan over medium and cook the sausage until browned, with a few crispy bits. Use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer the cooked sausage to a plate with a paper towel underneath to absorb some of the grease. Remove most of the grease in the skillet by pouring it into a recyclable can - be sure to leave about 1-2 tablespoons worth in the skillet to cook the sweet potatoes.

  2. Leave the skillet on the stovetop, but reduce the heat to medium-low. Chop the sweet potatoes into 1/2” cubes and place them in the skillet to cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork and crisp around the edges. Season with salt and pepper, transfer these to a bowl, and cover with another plate or lid.

  3. Keep the skillet heated to cook the onion, and add 2 tbsp. oil. Chop the onion into 1/2” cubes and cook until translucent and lightly charred, about 7-8 minutes. Add the kale at the last minute, cover the skillet, and reduce the heat to low. When the kale is a vibrant green and wilted, add the sweet potato and sausage and cover for 5-6 minutes, or until everything is warmed again.

  4. In another skillet or frying pan, heat over medium 1 tbsp. oil and cook the eggs to your liking (i.e. scrambled, fried, sunny-side-up, etc.).

  5. Serve the hash on as many plates as needed, topped with eggs, avocado, fresh chopped cilantro, and salt and pepper, to taste. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

  6. Enjoy!

*If you can’t find chicken sausage, pork will work instead.

Sweet Potato, Sausage, and Kale Hash (Gluten-free, Dairy-free)

Simple Honey Whole-Wheat Biscuits

VegetarianHaley Hansen2 Comments

If you've never tried homemade biscuits, this is the place to start and the place to stay. These Simple Honey Whole-Wheat Biscuits are flaky, soft, buttery, and absolutely perfect!

Given how it’s gone in years past, I assume this year I’d get as much use out of a 2018 reflections/intentions/goals/etc. blog post as I did out of my Foodservice Management textbook (hint: I opened it once when my teacher warned the class she’d be giving a quiz the following day). I’ve never been one to make a New Year’s Resolution, nor have I been one to stick to journaling and meditating everyday, but I do enjoying thinking back and looking forward. So, I find myself in kind of a weird spot this time of year, with all this talk of reflecting and setting resolutions.

Simple Honey Whole-Wheat Biscuits

2018 was, in short, probably the hardest year of all 22 of mine. A bold statement, not a happy one, but a true one. It started on an unstable foot that took months to regain strength. And when those muscles finally did, when they were moving and functioning and hopeful for a long walk in what seemed like the “right” direction, the ankle twisted unexpectedly and more severely than ever before, and almost all sense of direction was lost. The recovery and healing process began shortly thereafter, and for anyone who’s gone through such therapy, you know the struggle I speak of (this is all a metaphor, by the way - here’s the actual story).

The heaviest, most challenging quarter of my college career kicked off the New Year and left me scraping my empty tank for any drop of energy within the first few weeks. I had no time for friends. I was far from family. I spent every weekend in coffee shops with my textbooks and computer, either memorizing everything in the body for anatomy, hating the study genetics, finally finding some interest in micronutrient metabolism, or researching institutional foodservice equipment. Sigh.

Simple Honey Whole-Wheat Biscuits

My closest group of friends in the history of… my entire life graduated and separated. Of course, we all still keep in touch, but we said goodbye to our cute little neighbored townhouses and (for most of us) the last time we will ever live with such amazing best-friend-roommates. I remember moving my stuff - literally, everything - out of that apartment for a week straight and schlepping it over to the new place, bawling my eyes out every single time (I’m not kidding). Girls, if you’re reading this, that two-year-period of living together was the very best part of my college experience, and one absolutely unforgettable memory so full of laughs, talks, and everything I could have ever asked for and more.

If you’ve kept your attention here this long, thank you for devoting such care to the rough parts of my year. Here are the happier parts!

I finished my last full year of college! Just three more months and ya’ girl is a college grad, baby.

Hungry Haley turned four years old! Four whole years of my life I’ve fallen more and more and more in love with cooking and baking and writing about those and writing about life. Here’s to many more.

My relationship with food and exercise is at an all-time high. I see food for so much more than its nutrition facts and I cherish exercise for benefits beyond just a calorie burn.

I spent four months baking in a local café, learning how to make coffee cakes and scones and muffins and several other goods the community here savors every morning. It’s an honor and a pleasure!

I finished my first full TV series in, like, 10 years. This Is Us - a real tear-jerker, but definitely worth it!

The cookbook!!!

Simple Honey Whole-Wheat Biscuits

Okay, I’m done reminiscing now. I think we all say this every year because it’s almost always true - this year went by so fast. Another 365 days have come and gone. 2018, you weren’t that great to me, but I acknowledge and thank you for the beauty you did bring. 2019, please be better than 2018. :)

Makes 12-13 biscuits

3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour*
1 1/2 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. pure honey
1 1/3 cup Lifeway Whole Milk Kefir
1 1/2 sticks grass-fed butter, frozen

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients - the flour, baking powder and baking soda, and sea salt. Grate the butter into the dry ingredients and use your hands to stir it in, making sure it is evenly incorporated.

  3. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the pure honey and kefir, and then pour this into the dry ingredients. Stir to combine, and then use your hands again to gently bring the dough together. It will be slightly crumbly and a little dry, which is what it should be. Do not overwork the dough - stop kneading when it the texture is even throughout and the dough as whole sticks together.

  4. Lightly flour a clean surface and a rolling pin. Roll out the dough until about 1-1 1/4” thick and use a round cookie cutter or cup to cut the dough into circles. Place these on the baking sheet with about an inch between each biscuit and bake for 23-25 minutes. Depending on the diameter of your biscuits this baking time could increase or decrease slightly. Keep an eye on the biscuits while they are in the oven and remove when the edges are golden brown.

  5. Cool for 4-5 minutes before taking them off the pan. Serve immediately, and store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days at room temperature, up to two weeks in the fridge, or 1 month in the freezer.

  6. Enjoy!


*If you don’t have or can’t find whole-wheat pastry flour, use half whole-wheat flour and half all-purpose flour.

This post is sponsored by Lifeway Kefir - all opinions and statements are my own. Thanks for supporting my blog and passion!

Simple Honey Whole-Wheat Biscuits

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)

Crispy Skillet Roasted Garlic Potatoes (Vegan, GF, Paleo)

Haley HansenComment

Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, these Crispy Skillet-Roasted Garlic Potatoes are an ideal addition no matter what you’re in the mood for. They only require a little prep and some roasting before you’ve got some seriously satisfying and crispy potatoes!

Happy Halloween! Well, Halloween will have passed by the time I post this, so I hope you had a happy Halloween.

Crispy Skillet Roasted Garlic Potatoes (Vegan, GF, Paleo)

From my research, which is a fancy term for simply my observations, people are either all about Halloween or not about it at all. You know, they either want to dress-up in their costumes for the entire week of Halloween and watch Halloween-themed movies every night and maybe even eat those gross-looking eyeball gummy candies. Or, they want nothing to do with the holiday because maybe they find the masks terrifying (me too), the costumes silly, the candy “unhealthy”, or whatever the reason.

I can identify a little bit with both types of people - a trait I consider both a curse and a blessing in most situations. On one hand, I do enjoy the anticipation and the thrill of the spooky holiday, the creative costumes, and the candy (duh). But on the other, you know, masks scare me even as an-almost-grown-up woman, costume creativity is my last priority these days, and… well, I have nothing against the candy, actually. And so I stand in the middle as I usually do when two sides to a situation present themselves.

This year, I spent Halloween - or at least the night of - in the comfort of my own home with two of my closest friends cozied up on the couch beside me, watching Halloween movies, sipping some wine, and munching on the timeless Pillsbury Halloween cookies that my best friend and I now dedicate significant time and energy to finding weeks before the holiday season. Last year, we thought we failed in our hunt for the Christmas cutouts, until we stumbled upon them on December 23rd. I still cannot describe the abundance of joy that brought.

A big bowl of the best candies sat near the front door, just hoping for at least a couple cute trick-or-treaters, but alas, none came. I’m guessing the parents in our neighborhood are aware of the amount of college students living nearby and on which streets they live, so they steer their kids away from those. Well, they missed out on some good candy and lots of love from our house. Oh well.

By 9 PM, I was in my bed and ready as ever for a good night of sleep. With work at 4 AM three days a week now, 9-PM-bedtime is as common as a double dose of coffee right after work. They go hand-in-hand, you know? All in all, I felt incredibly blessed at the end of the night - a cozy, comfy, safe home with two fantastic friends and a quality bowl of candy + plate of cookies + bottle of wine. I hope your night was just as lovely!

Crispy Skillet Roasted Garlic Potatoes (Vegan, GF, Paleo)

As per usual, that story has nothing to do with the recipe to come. But said recipe is still absolutely delicious, otherwise it wouldn’t be here. So, here you go - enjoy!

Makes 2 servings

4 medium red and white potatoes, chopped into 1/2-1” cubes
2 tbsp. oil (I prefer avocado or grapeseed here)
1/2 tsp. each sea salt and pepper
1/2-1 tsp. garlic powder
Your favorite seasoning blend: lemon pepper, garlic salt, everyday seasoning, etc.*

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F and place a cast-iron skillet in the oven.

  2. Toss the chopped potatoes in the oil and season with sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, and/or your seasoning of choice.

  3. Transfer the potatoes to pre-heated cast-iron skillet and bake for 30-35 minutes, flipping halfway through.

  4. Remove from the oven when the potatoes are tender on the inside (pierce a few of them with a fork to test this) and crisp/charred on the outside.

  5. Cool slightly before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days.


*This can be used in addition to or in place of the sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Crispy Skillet Roasted Garlic Potatoes (Vegan, GF, Paleo)

One-Pan Roasted Squash and Pepper Dinner (Vegetarian, Dairy-free, Grain-free)

Entree, GF, VegetarianHaley Hansen1 Comment

Allllllright, who’s ready to hear about my week? Anyone? Well, if you’re here, you’re going to hear. Or read, if you want to be technically correct.

Monday was a long day of driving back to San Luis Obispo from Orange County, and when I arrived home, I totally could’ve made it on time to class, but after five straight hours in the car, my cramping legs and butt were all like “NO. PLEASE.” So I listened to them. I gave them the movement they longed for and then went to work to prep all my ingredients for the next morning. By 10 PM, I was fast asleep.

My Tuesday started bright and early, as it always will from now until the end of December (I think, but I’ll keep you updated on that… because I know you’re just dying to know). Class ended at 11 AM, which left me the rest of the day to make sure my time was used efficiently for recipes and studying. However, only one of those actually happened because I think I was a bit too ambitious with my time-efficiency ability, and my day was devoted to studying for my MNT (clinical nutrition) exam. I made it to the grocery store and that was the highlight. It’s always the highlight. I love the grocery store.

Wednesday was the beginning of an uphill climb. More studying, a little cramming in the early morning before class (we had a mini quiz I wasn’t aware of last minute), more studying, a little more cramming before my evening class, and a quick trip into work to prep ingredients for the following morning. And then some reviewing before bed because that MNT exam is tomorrow and holymolyguacamole I’m getting really nervous. Because of said nervousness and not the quietest sleeping environment, Wednesday night’s sleep was far from fantastic, so…

One-Pan Roasted Squash and Pepper Dinner (Vegetarian, Dairy-free, Grain-free)

So, Thursday started off on the wrong foot. The tired foot. The stressed foot. The foot that doesn’t feel ready for this huge exam that everyone in the class is really nervous about which makes me really really nervous. Thursdays are my longest days of the week - nonstop from 4 AM to 3 PM of work, class, then MNT lab. The exam wasn’t the death of me (I’ve already taken different versions of that in various classes, so I know what that’s like), but it was pretty friggin’ hard. I finished with just 20 minutes to spare of the 3-hour test period, rode my bike home, and napped. By 5 PM I found enough energy for some movement, so I rode the bike at the gym to release some lingering stress. And I ended my night by watching this week’s This Is Us with two girlfriends, reading some of The Reason for God, and turning the lights out at 10 PM. Fantastic.

One-Pan Roasted Squash and Pepper Dinner (Vegetarian, Dairy-free, Grain-free)

Friday! Today, finally. I’ve been looking forward to this all week - a morning without rush, with lots of coffee + some sweet potato pancakes (recipe is going in the cookbook) + much-needed planning for the blog and cookbook. I didn’t make myself do anything until, like, noon and I loved it. I wore not an ounce of make-up (which is the most I usually wear, anyway) and only put on a bra to workout. I finished two things on the blog’s to-do list, plus one extra (!!!), three things on work’s to-do list, and even managed to squeeze in a wee bit of studying. And guess what? ETB - estimated time of bed - is 9:30 PM. I’m so ready.

Weeks like this are saved by delicious and simple dinners like this.

One-Pan Roasted Squash and Pepper Dinner (Vegetarian, Dairy-free, Grain-free)

Makes 2 plates

1 large butternut squash
2 red bell peppers
1 medium red onion
1 tbsp. grapeseed oil (or avocado oil)
1 tsp. garlic powder
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
2 organic pasture-raised eggs
2 tsp. grapeseed oil (or avocado oil)
2 cups fresh spinach
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
Optional toppings: avocado, salsa, goat cheese or cheddar cheese, nutritional yeast

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

  2. Chop the butternut squash into 1-inch cubes - click here for easy directions - and do the same with the bell pepper and red onion. Toss the veggies in a large bowl with the 1 tbsp. oil, salt and pepper, and garlic powder.

  3. Spread these onto the baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 20 minutes, then flip and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until lightly charred around the edges and tender in the center. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

  4. While the veggies are baking, heat the 2 tsp. oil in a nonstick skillet and cook the eggs to the desired temperature. Season with salt and pepper and serve on a plate over spinach with the roasted veggies.

  5. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and any additional toppings.

  6. Enjoy!

One-Pan Roasted Squash and Pepper Dinner (Vegetarian, Dairy-free, Grain-free)

Savory Honey Cornbread Waffles (GF)

Entree, GFHaley HansenComment

Two hours of lecture in Community Nutrition, three hours of lab in Clinical Nutrition, and just like that, my first day of my fifth year in college (or seventeenth year of school in general, if you want to look at it like that) is over. Just about 88 days stand between me in regular clothes and me in a cap and gown, baby!

Savory Honey Cornbread Waffles (GF)

I’ve been SUCH a Debby Downer about starting school lately. Like, it’s bad. I apologize to surrounding friends and classmates if my negativity brings you down and I will do my best to change my attitude. I sound like a four year old who’s just been freed from time-out, but I’m actually a twenty-two year old who just wants her degree already. Soon enough, Haley. Soon enough.

Walking through campus yesterday, scanning the passing crowds of students - some texting, some laughing, some rushing from class-to-class - I realized I don’t really recognize anyone. Those I would recognize graduated last June. So, it’s just me and the year-younger class. I’ve grown close with many of those classmates (or, as close as one can grow with classmates, I guess) and those relationships are making the transition from one of the best summers into my final year of school a wee bit easier.

To begin my Clinical Nutrition lab period, my professor introduced herself (even though most of us already know her, thanks to a small major) and asked us all what our post-grad plans are. 99% are pursuing a Registered Dietitian credential. I’m the remaining 1%, indicated by an awkward show of hand… just my own hand. “So, what do you plan on doing?” she followed up. “I want to open my own café and continue blogging and cookbook-writing”, I answered, hoping she would either look interested and maybe ask one or two more related questions, or just move on to her next topic. Instead of both of those, she paused - trying HARD to find some relevance of Clinical Nutrition - and then, “Weeellllllll… I guess Clinical Nutrition will be useful when you want to create compliant Diabetic or Heart-Healthy menus?”

Savory Honey Cornbread Waffles (GF)

It was one of those half-questioning herself/half-questioning me statements. She must have gathered from the look on my face that my awareness that not much of what I learn here will be applicable in my future plans because I just nodded and the awkward conversation ended. Thankfully, several of my classmates follow my blog and have told me they love it (thanks guys!), so I didn’t feel like an outcast as much as I otherwise might have without the support of my peers cheering me on as I choose a rather uncommon career path.

Savory Honey Cornbread Waffles (GF)

When they become RD’s and when I’ve got my café up and running, we can exchange customers and clients. I’ll send them any of my customers with serious health concerns, and they’ll send me their “outpatients” who are ready for delicious and nutritious food. See, it’ll all work out.

Now, only about 87 more days… :)

Makes 4-5 large round waffles

3/4 cup gf flour blend
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 tbsp. flax seed meal
1.5 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. oil
3-4 tbsp. pure honey
1 egg
For topping: fried egg, avocado, salt and pepper, fresh herbs

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, water, oil, honey, and egg until combined. Set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, flaxseed meal, baking powder, and spices. Pour the wet into the dry and mix again until just combined and only a few lumps remain.

  3. Heat the waffle iron and grease with a little oil if needed. Drop about 1/4 cup of waffle batter into the iron and close, cooking until crisp and golden brown on both sides. Cooking time will vary for different waffle markers, so keep an eye on yours. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

  4. If you choose to add the egg, cook that as you prefer now. Top the waffle with avocado, salt and pepper, and fresh herbs. Serve with the egg and mixed greens.

  5. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to one week, or in the freezer for a couple months.

  6. Enjoy!

Savory Honey Cornbread Waffles (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.


Baby Broccolini, Falafel, and Barley Grain Bowl

GF, Entree, VegetarianHaley Hansen1 Comment

These comforting Baby Broccolini, Falafel, and Barley Grain Bowls are the most comforting transition from warm summer weather to chilly fall weather. They're simple, inexpensive, and packed with flavor and nutrition! 

A growing cookbook collection hogs half of the shelf space in my bedroom. My Pinterest boards collectively house over 4,600 pins. And my most frequented cooking websites are crowded with online bookmarks. 

I took some time to roughly plan my weekly schedule for when school starts and stomped on the brakes when time for cooking looked slim. Where there's a will, there's a way. With this blog to keep up with, a cookbook to write, and... oh yeah, school to finish (ugh), maintaining a certain level of creativity in the kitchen during the week might be asking more of myself than I should allow. SO. I came up with a plan. 

Baby Broccolini, Falafel, and Barley Grain Bowl (GF)

Every weekend, I'll sit myself down for an hour or two and plan my meals for the week (like, you know, what moms do... except I'm not a mom). Each category - breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks/desserts - will include two recipes from my own supply of recipe-creativity and one (maybe another, if I have time and money) from either a cookbook, Pinterest board, or cooking website. 

My tendency is to dive head first into creating a recipe from scratch, and I too-often neglect the joy of cooking from someone else's recipe. But, like, how stinkin' cool is it to follow along behind one of my favorite bloggers or chefs in their own processes and then savor each bite of the beautiful result, all while furthering my own cooking skills? Duh, Haley. Humble yourself and keep learning from the experts. 

This bowl is a spin-off of one I saw on Cooking Light (I can't find it anymore, otherwise I would link it) - grain bowls are "in" now and that's just fantastic because 1) they encourage us to focus on whole-grains instead of the more processed counterparts like white bread and pasta, 2) grains are usually inexpensive and simple to cook, and 3) these recipes are the comforting-in-cold-weather kind, and cold weather is approaching. Maybe not so much in California as in other states, but hey, 60 degrees can be cold, too. 

Baby Broccolini, Falafel, and Barley Grain Bowl (GF)

Anywho, here's a bowl with some crispy charred seasonal veggies, hearty barley, and lightened up (but still delicious) homemade pan-fried falafel. Eat up!

Makes 3 bowls

2 cups baby broccolini, chopped into 1" pieces
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. avocado oil (or other high-heat oil)
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups cooked barley (cook according to package directions)
Pan-Fried Falafel
3 oz. crumbled goat cheese
Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
Fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 200F. Prepare the falafel according to directions and place in an oven-safe dish to keep warm.

  2. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the chopped broccolini, cover, and cook for 5-7 minutes until the pieces turn a darker green color. Add the garlic and onions and cover again, turning the heat to low and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes until the onions soften and become lightly translucent and the broccoli is lightly charred. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and stir. Remove from heat and set aside.

  3. Assemble the bowls - place about 1/2-2/3 cup each of the barley and vegetables in each bowl. Top with 2-3 pieces of falafel, garnish with fresh cilantro and goat cheese, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and serve immediately.

  4. Store leftovers in airtight containers for up to one week. Enjoy!

Baby Broccolini, Falafel, and Barley Grain Bowl (GF)

Pan-Fried Falafel (Vegan, Grain-free)

GF, VeganHaley HansenComment

Really funny story, Like, hilarious. Ready?

Pan-Fried Falafel (Vegan, Grain-free)

I created this recipe last summer and then two other recipes using this falafel - a hearty pita sandwich and a refreshing summer salad. Since then, I've been so focused on picking my brain for new recipe ideas (and also school... duh) that I just haven't thought about making my favorite falafel until today. In the middle of cooking up the components of a grain bowl, I stirred together tahini and lemon juice and - long story short - my dressing failed and I just could not bring myself to waste the tahini mixture. 

FALAFEL. Of course, I just so happened to have all the ingredients on hand to make said falafel. It's like this whole tahini mishap was meant to be, huh? But wait - there's more. I opened my blog to search through my archives for this falafel recipe, only to be utterly confused when my screen shocked me with the classic "404 error - This page doesn't exist" thing. 

Pan-Fried Falafel (Vegan, Grain-free)

Oh. Good. I told you all to make this falafel for both the sandwich and the salad, but never told you how to make the falafel. Sigh. 

So, here it is - the long-awaited falafel recipe. I apologize in advance for any similar mistakes I may make in the future and I hope you still come back for delicious eats! 

Makes about 12-14 falafel

1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and dried
2 flax eggs
2 tbsp. tahini
2 tsp. brown mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup almond meal, plus more if needed
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
3-4 tbsp. avocado oil (or other high-heat oil) 

  1. In a high-powered blender or food processor, pulse everything from the chickpeas to the almond meal until the mixture starts to come together. It shouldn't be sticky, but it shouldn't be crumbly - somewhere in between.

  2. Next, add in the parsley, nutritional yeast, and spices and pulse again until combined. Form the dough into portions just smaller than a golfball, then gently flatten them into 1/2"-thick rounds. Refrigerate these at least one hour.

  3. When ready to cook, heat a nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add the 3- tbsp. oil. Use 3 if you prefer less crispy edges, and 4 if you prefer crispier edges. Let this heat for about 2 minutes before adding the falafel.

  4. Carefully place about 5 falafel (depending on the size of your pan) into the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crispy around the edges. Repeat with the remaining falafel.

  5. Serve immediately and store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. Enjoy!

Pan-Fried Falafel (Vegan, Grain-free)

Simple BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Entree, SandwichHaley Hansen1 Comment

These California-Style BBQ Chicken Sandwiches are the sandwiches - the sandwiches for the end of summer, the sandwiches for a quick weeknight dinner, the sandwiches to satisfy your craving for all things refreshing, juicy, BBQ-y, and delicious. They come together in less than an hour with fresh, tangy coleslaw, hearty whole-grain buns, creamy avocado, and juicy, sweet BBQ chicken. 

To articulate the last month of my life feels like I'd be assigning myself an entire book to write. And I'm not going to do that because 1) this is a blog and 2) I already am writing a (cook)book. I've been working full-time, if you add up the hours I spend at my actual job and the hours I spend working here and on the cookbook, and loving almost every minute. 

Simple BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

When I'm not working, I've been laughing harder than I have in as long as I can remember. I've been letting myself leave items on my to-do list uncrossed - some emails unopened, some laundry unfolded, some blog pictures unedited and some posts unfinished and even unstarted (which I realize is not an actual word) - in favor of the highest quality of quality time with the funniest of funny people. Grace and I grew surprisingly and naturally close with a local baseball team this summer and are still in awe of how they seemed to be our best friends in just four short weeks. 

Simple BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

I'm actually very proud of myself and I haven't been able to say that much in the last year. From forgetting about my "bedtime" a couple nights a week to stay up later with these friends, to learning how to play the drinking games that weren't a part of my college experience (and I hate beer, but I took the good with the bad), to letting a few days go by without answering a single email or even opening my laptop. 

My mind was rarely in blog-mode and it still isn't, but I'm rolling with that and figuring out if it means anything significant in terms of my pursuit of this blog. I love it here and I'm coming up on my fourth year of blogging, and everyday I'm learning more about it and myself. Thanks for coming along :) 

Makes 4 sandwiches 

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 ripe avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups shredded cabbage (purple or green) 
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. honey or agave
1 tsp. garlic powder
4 whole-grain hamburger buns
Optional: fresh spinach leaves

  1. Whisk together the mayo, apple cider vinegar, honey or agave, and garlic powder in a small bowl until combined. Toss this with the shredded cabbage in a large mixing bowl until well incorporated and refrigerate 30-60 minutes.

  2. Heat a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat and lay the chicken thighs in with about 2 inches between each piece. Cook about 5-6 minutes each side and remove from the skillet when done. I always check the middle of each piece by carefully and barely splitting it open with a knife - if it's pink or even pink-ish, it needs more cooking.

  3. After the thighs have cooled, use your hands to tear them up into shreds, then toss them in a bowl with the barbecue sauce to coat. If you prefer to toast your buns, do so at this time.

  4. Assemble the sandwiches - lay the spinach leaves (if using) on the bottom half of the bun, followed about a half cup of the barbecue chicken, then avocado, and finally the coleslaw and the top half of the bun.

  5. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Simple BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Creamy Sweet Potato Pasta (Vegan, GF)

Entree, GF, Pasta, VeganHaley HansenComment

This Creamy Sweet Potato Pasta makes plant-based eating easier and tastier than ever - just sweet potatoes, cashews, and your favorite pasta. Smooth and velvety, a little sweet and lotsa savory, the dish comes to life with nutrient-dense ingredients bursting with flavor and color!

Lately, Instagram feels like trying to find a treadmill at the gym at 5 PM. Blogging feels like resting on my couch in the comfort of my own home with a glass of kombucha next to me. Instagram feels like someone trying to get me to eat a bowl of mint-chip ice cream (which I don't enjoy) or a $12 salad I can make at home, while blogging feels like the chocolate-chip cookie I'd so much rather munch on, or the burger that tastes way better and costs half that price (and I can't master a burger... yet). Instagram feels like an hour-long hot yoga class, and blogging feels like the outdoor HIIT/sprint workout I look forward to every weekend. 

Creamy Sweet Potato Pasta (Vegan, GF)

What I love - l o v e - about Intuitive Eating is that its principles can gracefully make their way into other areas of life and help you learn to live more intuitively. A couple weeks ago, it helped me embrace HIIT workouts and weight training and spin classes, which I used to think I should only be doing every so often. I can do them as often as I'd like, as long I properly fuel my body and allow it the rest it needs, without any force to do (or not do) the exercise. Movement wants us to enjoy it, and those are the forms of movement that I enjoy most. 

Now, it's helping me understand what intuitive living feels like. Like Intuitive Eating, this involves both the body and the mind, and lets you - the Intuitive Living Being - decide what want to participate in each day. Do I want to exercise today? Most days, I can easily, happily, honestly answer "yes" and others I simply accept the "no" from my tired muscles and let them do what they need, be it rest or a walk or some stretching. Do I want to spend the next two hours testing a cookie recipe? As of late, the answer to that has been a big, fat "NO" because someone stole my baking abilities and ran far, far away with them (read: my cookies - for lack of better word - suck lately). 

Do I want to scroll through Instagram right now? Well, I want to catch up with my people, my community. The bloggers whom I've connected with via Instagram are the most joyful part of it all. The rest - the caption-creating, the picture-editing, the analytics-checking, the commenting, the liking - just stresses me out. Those are the pieces of the Instagram package that I wish I could dispose of and keep only the friends and the innocent picture sharing, which is probably what it was designed for in the first place, but, like, society happened and all that. 

A little ritual I practice now before eating and throughout my day is a simple check-in with my body. If I'm feeling hungry, I ask myself how hungry I feel, what sounds good, am I tired, what does my body need and what does it crave, etc. I began applying that ritual to Instagram usage and found that I don't even have hunger for it to begin with. My mouth usually waters for a burger or a cookie or - yes - a salad or a smoothie when I'm truly hungry, but my mouth never waters for Instagram anymore (it has never literally watered, so I hope you get the metaphor). 

Creamy Sweet Potato Pasta (Vegan, GF)

Likely, this is just a phase. I'll come back to Instagram someday. When, I cannot predict, but I don't see myself giving up on it. I just need a break, like I did after I spent four months busting out cookies and cakes and breads and donuts for the blog (hello, sweet tooth. I hope you've been satisfied). I need time for me - time to let my thoughts unravel how my mind does so naturally, without unnecessary influence. 

And let me tell you, this is some of the best me-time I've had in y e a r s. I love this blog with so much of my heart. SO MUCH. I love typing and I love cooking and I love creating ideas for posts in my head, even if it's during a workout when I should be focusing on keeping my knees over my ankles during squat jumps and tightening my core during planks and burpees. I love opening up. I love sharing my favorite recipes, which I hope become some of your favorites, too. 

Well, I'm out of breath for this post and it's long, so you're probably out of time and hungry for the recipe already. But, before I show it to you, I want to thank you for reading this today. Thank you for continuing to encourage me, whether you know you do so or not. Thank you for the portion of your day you've given to this blog, my happy place :)

Creamy Sweet Potato Pasta (Vegan, GF)

Makes 4 servings 

2.5 cups cubed sweet potato, peeled
1/2 cup cashews, soaked at least 4 hours
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup reserved pasta water
3 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ancho chili powder
1 tsp. sea salt (adjust to taste)
8 oz. pasta shells (I love Banza)
Fresh basil, chopped, for garnish
Optional: torn and steamed kale leaves

  1. In a large pot, cover the peeled and cubed sweet potato with filtered water, bring to a boil, and cook for about 12-15 minutes. Pierce them with a fork to test tenderness, then remove from heat and drain when the fork pokes through completely. You want these to be very soft to allow for easy blending. Set aside to cool.

  2. In the same pot, bring water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. When straining pasta, reserve 1/4 cup of the water for the sauce.

  3. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews. Set aside.

  4. Use a high-powered blender or food-processor for the sauce. Blend or pulse on high the cooked sweet potato, soaked and drained cashews, nutritional yeast, tahini, and reserved pasta water until smooth*. Add the spices and blend again until combined. Transfer to an airtight container and set aside.

  5. In a large mixing/serving bowl, stir together the pasta shells, steamed kale (if using) and sauce - you won't use all the sauce, but about half of it. Adjust the amount used as needed. Top with fresh chopped basil leaves and serve immediately.

  6. Store leftovers of both pasta and sauce (it's good on everything else, too!) in an airtight container for up to one week.

  7. Enjoy!

*The blending time will vary depending on the strength of your blender/processor. Mine took about ten minutes total, and I use a Ninja blender

Creamy Sweet Potato Pasta (Vegan, GF)

Tempeh Pinto Bean Skillet Tacos (GF, Vegan option)

GF, Entree, Vegetarian, TacosHaley HansenComment

These Tempeh Pinto Bean Skillet Tacos are just what Cinco de Mayo celebrations need. They're simple, yet flavorful, plant-based, yet high in protein, and can ready to enjoy in less than 30 minutes! Top them with your favorite garnishes for a little something extra - you will not regret making these, and your friends and family will thank you for them! 

Certain things just happen and bring a gratifying smile to life. This year, the transition from winter to spring didn't take it's normal route - downpours of rain surprised us in mid-March, when we would typically be hanging out in 75-degree sunshine. But I was fine with it because I love rain, especially when I need to study for almost two weeks straight. Transitioning from winter to spring isn't a time of year I look forward to with much excitement - like I said, I love rain, and when spring comes, it almost immediately feels like summer. 

Tempeh Pinto Bean Skillet Tacos (GF, Vegan option)

This year, though... this year has felt anything but normal. I actually don't really know what that words means and how it applies to real-life (outside of its dictionary definition), so I should probably stop using it, huh? The four-hour drive up back to SLO after spending spring break in SoCal absolutely blew me away - the greens and the yellows of the hills seemed to look up at the bright blue sky and they both just nodded at each other, like they knew how stunningly they each complimented one another. I don't know if keeping my eyes on the actual road has ever been so hard. 

Later that afternoon, my legs begged for some movement so I took my bike out for a ride to the beach and I had no idea at the beauty that was to come and amaze me. A symphony of gorgeous greens hills, rainbows of blooming flowers, child-like chirping birds, seemingly sparkling blue skies, and the indescribable aroma of it all could've knocked me over in all its wonder.

Tempeh Pinto Bean Skillet Tacos (GF, Vegan option)

And wonder, I did, because I unexpectedly fell in love with spring (a season that used to feel to me like green-ish bananas - just "ehh") in that moment. Since then - a month ago - I've spent as many moments outside as I can, with and without my computer/studying materials. I walk to my 6 PM class with a bigger, heartier smile and sense of joy than I could've imagined possible. I wake up before the sunrises at 6:12-ish (but who's counting?) and anticipate it's appearance, eager for it's colorful arrival. 

What all of that had to with these tempeh tacos, I'm not totally sure. I mean, they certainly are a warm-weather friendly meal. Beyond that, though, they too just kind of happened, like how I fell in love with spring, in a way that took me so much by surprise I couldn't help but love them even more. The blog hasn't been the most encouraging thing for me in the past few weeks, so for this recipe to just work as well as it did felt (and tasted) like a million wins all in one skillet. 

Some notes on this recipe: 

  • I used tempeh because 1) it's less expensive than meat, 2) it's texture and flavor beat tofu (in my book), 3) it's fermented (read: gut-healthy!), and 4) it's SO easy to cook. If you'd prefer meat or tofu, go for it. The recipe is versatile enough for almost any preference!

  • You may need to add just a tablespoon or two of water or veggie stock to the pan when you add the tomato paste - it was a bit challenging to mix in because of how thick the paste is. I made it work though, so you can, too.

  • I read somewhere that lightly rubbing your corn tortillas with just a splash of water before heating them over the stove helps keep them soft and pliable, and that worked well for me!

Tempeh Pinto Bean Skillet Tacos (GF, Vegan option)

Oh, and happy (almost) Cinco de Mayo! Perhaps you'll find this recipe delicious and simple enough to bring to your celebration this weekend :) 

Makes 3 servings (3-ish tacos)

1 15-oz. can pinto beans
1 8 oz. block tempeh, roughly crumbled into bite-size chunks
1/2 large red onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tbsp. oil (I prefer grapeseed or avocado oil for high-heat cooking)
1 tsp. cumin
1-2 tsp. ancho chili powder (I used the Simply Organic brand)*
salt and pepper, to taste
3-6 corn tortillas (3 large or 6 small)
Mixed greens
For serving: crumbled feta (omit if vegan), fresh cilantro, avocado, diced red onion

  1. Heat a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet** over medium heat and coat with 2 tbsp. oil. Let this heat up for 1-2 minutes, and then add the red onion, bell pepper, and garlic cloves. Cover and cook until softened, about 2-3 minutes.

  2. Stir in the tomato paste and spices until incorporated. Add the pinto beans and tempeh crumbles and stir again. Cover and cook 5-7 minutes, or until the tempeh has a light char on the edges. Remove from heat and set aside.

  3. Heat the tortillas by rubbing a light coat of water on each side and laying them in a pan until soft and warm. Serve alongside the tempeh pinto bean skillet and mixed greens, and any additional toppings: crumbled feta, fresh cilantro, and diced red onion.

  4. Enjoy!

*If you don't have or can't find ancho chili powder, cayenne or paprika will work. Use 1 tsp. if you're sensitive to spice, 2 tsp. if you like spice. 
**I used a 10-inch Lodge Cast-Iron Skillet for this and it worked so well! Be sure to coat it with oil while heating it to prevent any sticking. 


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)

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)

Turkey Burgers with Tahini Dressing and Grilled Bread

EntreeHaley HansenComment

This twist on traditional turkey burgers brings fresh zucchini into the mix, along with a side of hearty grilled bread and a drizzle of creamy tahini dressing. Fire up your grills - these are simple and delicious, to leave you with plenty of time for friends and family, and plenty of deliciousness for everyone to enjoy!

A round of turkey burgers disappears faster than a batch of cookies in my kitchen, I guess. Yeah, even if it's just me eating. 

turkey burgers zucchini.jpg

What is it, though, about grilling burgers that elicits this otherwise unfamiliar masculine feeling? Is it the thick patty of meat I'm handling (lol)? Is it the idea of grilling said meat patty? Orrrrr... is it ironically the fact that I'm avoiding the task of learning how to operate the grill conveniently placed outside my apartment in favor of cooking in my vast-iron skillet? 

The skillet, might I add, is my preferred method not because it's my only method (haha) but because 1) I adore that black hunk of pure power and 2) it's cooking abilities are endless, so why NOT use it to make the best burgers I've ever made?? Oh, and the bread, but we'll get there soon. Patience. 

Turkey Burgers with Tahini Dressing and Grilled Bread

I tested these when I was with my parents during my spring break because they lovvvvve turkey burgers and they also lovvvvve when I make them dinner, so I did. Dad walked in while I was working everything together (the turkey meat, spices, almond meal, zucchini, etc) together with my hands and wanted to make sure I didn't "over-work" the meat. Girls, just imagine that coming out of your Dad's mouth. Take a second to giggle, then erase it from memory. Anyway, the first round was "ehh" - could have used more flavor and a little more binding to yield a thicker burger, in my opinion. 

Two days later, I headed back up to school, so I can only hope my parents ate the leftovers (I would've, regardless of taste - no food will be wasted).  

Since burgers are relatively straight-forward if you've made them a few times before, modifications were simple and easy to execute. My next item to tackle was the bun situation. Buying a pack of twelve hamburger buns for myself for one recipe seemed like too much. I love buns (big buns, and I cannot lie) and I rarely ask for burgers "protein style" when I'm eating out, but when it's just me... again, "ehh". 

Turkey Burgers with Tahini Dressing and Grilled Bread

After a little back-and-forth between investing in the buns and not, the bakery - THE bakery - down the street (which sounds so clichè and I'm okay with that) conveniently popped into mind, with their fluffy, hearty, baked-fresh-daily loaves and all. 

Skillet. Butter. Bread.  

Grilled bread.  

Turkey Burgers with Tahini Dressing and Grilled Bread

And that's how it happened. And that's how it probably always will happen. As the thick slice of hearty 6-grain bread crisped up in the skillet, I glanced at the toaster resting on the counter beside the stove and chuckled. No need for you, you broken little toaster (only one side works, which doubles the time required for the simplest meal of all-time).  

Now for the tahini - I used it because I have two jars on hand. If you don't, that's okay. I personally think the modern-day home-cook should always have some tahini in the pantry, so either take 10 minutes for a quick trip to the grocery store because tahini. is. worth. it. or sub another dressing, sauce, condiment, etc. I didn't add cheese because I didn't have any, but I probably would've if I did, so make your choice there based on what's available to you. 

If this looks like a simple meal, then I've achieved my goal for this recipe. Warmer weather, the smell of blooming flowers and (finally) green hills, and longer days (plus, the thought of just 10 weeks between me + the end of the school year) are all bringing about a longing for summer, and that's what this meal represents to me. My parents and I love grilling and keeping dinner simple, most of the time at least. Veggies + starch + protein - each boasting its own unique flavor, yet all three working in harmony to satisfy whatever it is we crave.  

Turkey Burgers with Tahini Dressing and Grilled Bread

Keep it this simple, or elevate it to your liking with more spices, different vegetables/mixes of greens, an actual burger bun (but still grill it/skillet it because that step is a must), or what have you.  

Either way, get in the kitchen and enjoy yourself. 

Makes 6 burgers

for the burgers:
1 lb. ground turkey (85% lean)
1 medium zucchini, shredded
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves
1/3 cup almond meal*
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
A pinch each of sea salt and pepper for each patty
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Mixed greens
Red onion, thinly sliced
6 slices whole-grain bread
Oil, for the skillet

for the tahini dressing:
1/4-1/3 cup tahini**
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1-2 tbsp. warm filtered water
2 tsp. garlic powder
A pinch of sea salt, to taste

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the shredded zucchini, shallot, garlic, almond meal, and spices (not the salt and pepper). Add the ground turkey and mix with your hands until just combined (as Dad says, "don't over-work the meat").

  2. Form into 6 balls just larger than a golfball and flatten each into a patty so that the inside is slightly thinner than the edges to ensure even cooking throughout. Cover and refrigerate 30-60 minutes.

  3. Prepare the tahini dressing while waiting by whisking all the ingredients together in a jar or small glass bowl. Set aside.

  4. Heat a large cast-iron skillet (nonstick skillet or grill will also work) over medium heat and coat with oil. Season with salt and pepper just before placing them in the skillet to cook. Place 2-3 patties in the skillet at a time and cook 4-5 minutes on one side, then flip and cook 4-5 minutes on the other. Remove from heat and set aside.

  5. If needed, add a touch more oil to the skillet and place 2-3 slices of whole-grain bread in the skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side, but keep an eye on it because cook times will vary depending on the thickness of the slice and how crispy you'd like it. Remove from heat when finished.

  6. Assemble the plates by creating a bed of mixed greens, and then adding red onion, a slice of bread and a turkey burger to each. Drizzle with tahini dressing, and sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes and fresh chopped cilantro on top. Serve immediately.

  7. Enjoy!

* If you want a thinner dressing, use 1/4 cup. For a thicker dressing, use 1/3 cup. 
** I used leftover almond meal from earlier in the week when I made homemade almond milk, so mine was less finely ground than the typical store-bought version. The difference could alter the result a bit, so keep this in mind while making the burgers. If the meat mixture feels too sticky and wet, add a bit more almond meal until patties form neatly.

Turkey Burgers with Tahini Dressing and Grilled Bread

Red Pepper and Spinach Chilaquiles (GF option)

Entree, VegetarianHaley Hansen2 Comments

These Red Pepper and Spinach Chilaquiles are a healthier take on the traditional Mexican dish. Homemade corn tortilla chips along with tons of veggies makes for a nutritious AND satisfying meal - breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

Say "chilaquiles" without feeling an insurmountable urge to smile and shake yo booty. Do it. I dare you. (bet you can't). 

Red Pepper and Spinach Chilaquiles (GF option)

My first forkful of chilaquiles was a from a diner-sized plate from none other than a local diner itself. I guess you can order chilaquiles for lunch - at the time, I didn't know what they were, but the menu description of this breakfast-nacho-esque dish made my brain go mushy thinking about how delicious it sounded. Thankfully, the waitress kindly accepted my order and didn't give chilaquiles (normally a breakfast dish) a second thought. 

I, however, have given them a million second thoughts since the first bite. A couple months later, while my close friends and I vacationed in Tahoe for a couple days last December, two of them cooked some authentic-to-the-bone (or to the refried bean?) chilaquiles for us all for brunch, and again, my breath was taken and my stomach was at a loss for words. From that moment on, I knew I needed to make these myself. 

Red Pepper and Spinach Chilaquiles (GF option)

But, as with most recipes I find/enjoy/want to recreate, I can't just leave them as they are. They must be tweaked and messed with and recreated to nestle themselves nicely into my blog. Duh. 

Okay, so round three of chilaquiles is this recipe, and it wasn't planned. The Sunday before finals week should not allow time for recipe experimentation, right? Wrong. Very wrong. When a recipe I had originally planned to post this week pooped out on me, I panicked for, like, half a second. Then, the thought of warm, saucy, cheesy, lightly spicy chilaquiles tapped me on the shoulder and hugged me before I could even begin to stress out more than I already had all day over the mechanism of selenium metabolism. 

Just an hour later - my apron tied around my waist and tastebuds geared up for the tastiness to come - chilaquiles were going down in my kitchen and I felt more excited than I had in weeks. A lot of my thoughts throughout the cooking process specifically, as opposed to baking, are mostly hesitant questions about whether or not I should chop this vegetable like that or add this ingredient now or later, and so on. I kinda' like that. It keeps thing excitingly creative and spur-of-the-moment, two qualities I haven't applied to many other areas of life in the past couple months as I've been too far buried in muscle anatomy and foodservice management strategies. I digress. 

At the end of it all, my third ever dish of chilaquiles - also my very own excitingly creative and spur-of-the-moment version - brought about a smile and booty-shaking I needed, but didn't know I needed until I felt it. Tasted it. Loved every bite and every component and every minute I subtracted from other items on my to-do list to dedicate to chila-friggin-quiles. 

Red Pepper and Spinach Chilaquiles (GF option)

I hope you dedicate some time to these chila-friggin-quiles in the near future.

Makes 3-4 servings

8-10 corn tortillas*
2 tbsp. oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-oz. can enchilada sauce (or homemade)
2 cups fresh spinach
2-3 organic eggs
1/3 cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1-2 radishes, washed and thinly sliced
1 handful fresh cilantro
Optional: thinly sliced jalapenos

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the corn tortillas into triangles (one tortilla will make about 6 triangles) and toss on a baking sheet with 1 tbsp. oil to coat. Spread them out in an even layer and bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Remove from oven and set aside. Turn the oven temperature up to 450F.

  2. Heat a nonstick or cast-iron skillet (the latter is my new bff, so I recommend making the investment if you haven't yet) over medium heat and coat with remaining 1 tbsp. oil. Add bell pepper, onion, and garlic and cook until tender and lightly charred. You may need to cover for a minute or two to allow them to steam just a bit.

  3. Once the veggies have cooked, stir in the spinach and cook until just wilted. Pour in half of the enchilada sauce and half of the baked tortillas, and stir to combine. Continue adding enchilada sauce and baked tortillas and stirring until all is in the skillet.

  4. Use a large spoon or spatula to gently make little holes in the veggie-tortilla mixture and crack an egg in each (make as many holes as you have eggs). Bake at 450F for 8-10 minutes, or until the whites become almost firm. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

  5. Top with cheese, sliced avocado, radishes, cilantro and jalapenos (if using). Serve immediately and store any leftovers in an airtight container.

  6. Enjoy!

Adapted from here.

* For a gluten-free version, use gluten-free corn or flour tortillas. 

Red Pepper and Spinach Chilaquiles (GF option)