Smashed Pea Bruschetta

Have you ever made a recipe that made you want to throw a party just to make it again for all of your friends? That’s what happen to me with this smashed pea bruschetta. Seriously nom and so easy.

Each bite was a perfect combination of creamy (I’m looking at you, ricotta) and crunchy (toasted sourdough, whatsup); not to mention those powerhouse peas (so many vitamins and minerals!) and bits of basil really bringing out the flavor.

This recipe is going into the favorites box, y’all! I love that it is versatile too. It can be a simple, light, delicious dinner on a hot summer night or a lovely start to a dinner party with friends. You can also pair it with grilled shrimp or a big, giant salad for a more hearty meal (or soup in the winter). The ingredients are few but the options are plenty. Double win.

Note: I served this with a side of sautéed spinach and mushrooms to stay in line with my 3 meals in 15 ingredients.

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Smashed Pea Bruschetta

Prep time: 10 minutes* – Cook time: 5minutes – Servings: 2

*I used frozen peas and defrosted them in the refrigerator the night before

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peas
  • 1/2 ricotta
  • 5 – 6 basil leaves, chopped finely
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced (optional)
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • S&P to taste

Directions: 

  • While bread is toasting….
  • Smash peas! I used the pestle (from our mortar) to smash them
  • Add ricotta, chopped basil, and S&P
  • Scoop onto toasted bread and top with sliced tomatoes
  • Serve

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#vegvibes

Pea and Parmesan Farro

Have you cooked with farro before? They sell it at Trader Joe’s and it’s great when you want to mix things up.

Farro has a slightly nutty taste and a chewy consistency, almost like gnocchi. I make it with vegetable broth to add more flavor and learned by trail and error not to follow the instructions on the little blue bag (more on that below).

Basically farro is yummy, cheap, and versatile. I made this dish with peas and a side of roasted vegetables, all that came from my list of 15 ingredients! (If you prep and cut your vegetables before, the prep time for this one is basically non-existent. All about that!)

There were plenty of leftovers which can be paired with toast (also on the list) for another easy meal.

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Pea and Parmesan Farro

Prep time: 0 – 5 minutes – Cook time: 15 – 20 minutes – Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 package farro
  • 1 box vegetable broth
  • 1 cup peas (I used frozen)
  • Optional: veggies to roast as a side

Directions: 

  • The bag of farro instructs you to cook the grain like rice, covered and simmering in boiling water. I like to use veg broth because it give it more flavor. I still simmer it but leave the pot without a lid so the steam can evaporate. It you don’t want to do this method, feel free to go by the insturctions listed on the package 🙂
  • When the farro has absorbed all of the broth (~20 minutes), I added my cup of frozen peas and have it a good stir to heat the peas through
  • Plate and top with parm
  • Re. a side, while my farro was simmering, I roasted zucchini and mushrooms, which gave us enough farro for leftovers! Refrigerate to reheat and serve with sourdough toast – on the list of 15 ingredients! – for another quick weeknight meal

 

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#vegvibes

Summer Style Zucchini Lasagna

When I think of lasagna, a few memories rush to mind…

I remember visiting my grandparents on winter breaks and opening their freezer to boxes of Stouffer’s Lasagna. In between breaks from playing Barbies and Briarberry bears (did anyone else play with these?!) I would tear open a red cardboard box and pop that plastic try of noodles, cheese, and marinara sauce in the microwave. A few minutes later, BAM, piping hot lasagna waiting for me to eat before blissfully going back to playing make believe.

I also remember Mike picking me up in the first few months of us dating for dinner in North Beach, the Italian district in San Francisco. We went to a cozy little restaurant and sat at a table for two by the window. I ordered the lasagna and probably broke some dating “rule” by finishing every last bite. Who can resist melty cheese and carbohydrates? Not this girl.

Lastly, I distinctly remember the first time I made my own lasagna and packed it with as many veggies as I could. Carrots in the sauce! Spinach in the ricotta! (Arguably healthier than the Stouffer’s and North Beach variety.) Bless Mike for eating my cooking without complaint!

My point is, I love me some good layered lasagna! But it’s a dish that screams WINTER. I wanted to lighten it up for the warmer months and knew replacing the noddles with lighter zucchini would do the trick!

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pro tip: let a paper towel absorb the water in your zucchini before baking



Summer Style Zucchini Lasagna

Prep time: 20 minutes – Cook time: 40 minutes – Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 – 7 small zucchini sliced in long thin pieces*
  • 4 – 5 small ripe JUICY tomatoes (if you can’t find any, a strained can of fire-roasted tomatoes will do
  • 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup roughly chopped spinach
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

* Important step: after you slice the zucchini, place the stripes on paper towels for ~20 minutes to absorb some of the water *

Directions:

  • Sauté the minced garlic in olive oil until fragrant
  •  Add mushrooms and tomatoes (getting all of the seeds and juice in there to give it more of a sauce consistency)
  • While your sauce is cooking, add chopped spinach to ricotta and mix well
  • After mushrooms and tomatoes are cooked, spread a thin layer on the bottom of a pan (I used a small enough one for two but the size will depend on how much you’re making)
  • Layer zucchini slices on top of sauce and then the spinach and ricotta cheese mixture
  • Top with mushrooms and tomatoes
  • Repeat 3/4 times, depending on how many zucchini you have
  • Top with parmesan cheese
  • Bake at 350 for 40 minutes

#vegvibes

3 meals, 15 ingredients

I live by meal planning. In my opinion, it is the most useful resource for eating well. Meal planning can help you eat healthier and save money. Winning.

There are a lot of meal services out there today, like Blue Apron and HelloFresh, but I’m sticking by doing my own meal planning and grocery shopping. I know it’s not feasible for everyone but if you can meal plan, shop, and prep yourself, you will be creating less waste – which is important for our globe’s health.

I’ve been planning weekday dinners for so long now, I have my system down pat (you can read about it here) but I wanted to post something that could help others who have never planned a weekly dinner menu.

I think starting with a simple base of ingredients is helpful. I’ve created 3 NOM meals with just 15 ingredients. Literally everything you need for these dinners is included below. How simple is that?!

I purchased mostly everything at my local Trader Joe’s but there aren’t really any specific ingredients that can’t be found another grocery store. And odds are, you’ll probably have a few things in your kitchen already.

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Not photographed: sourdough bread and frozen peas

I bought enough for 2 people for 3 unique meals + one “leftovers meal.” If you’re flyin’ solo or have a bigger household, you’ll have to adjust the quantities.

Now, without further ado, your shopping list:

  1. Loaf of sourdough bread (or something else crusty and good for toast)
  2. Garlic (to mince)
  3. Bag of spinach
  4. Package of zucchini (2-3 big zucs or 7-8 small ones)
  5. Peas (I bought frozen)
  6. Box of mushrooms (about one cup)
  7. 8 – 10 small tomatoes
  8.  Small bag of farro (mine had 8.8 ounces in it)
  9. Veg broth
  10. One container ricotta cheese
  11. One container parmesan cheese (I got big hunks of it)
  12. Olive oil
  13. Lemons
  14. Salt & pepper
  15. Basil

Below are the 3 recipes I made with the above 15 ingredients. Check back soon for all of the recipes. 🙂


Nom #1

Summer Style Zucchini Lasagna and toast 

A lighter twist on the traditional comforting lasagna. This recipe is packed with veggies so it doesn’t call for much cheese. The noodles are replaced with zucchini. Additionally, I didn’t use a jarred sauce to save on sodium intake. Talk about a great summer dish!

Nom #2

Pea and Parmesan Farro with side of roasted veg

This recipe is quick and satisfying! Plus, it makes a lot so half of it can be saved and used for another meal. It looks and tastes fancier than it is; with the nutty farro and decadent parmesan, plus the peas give it a nice splash of green.

Nom #3

Smashed Pea Bruschetta with sautéed spinach and mushrooms

This dish! All of the nom and flavor and perfection. The flavors burst. It’s creamy with a perfect crunch. It is probably my favorite creation. And, bonus points, it’s easy-peasy (pun intended).


Meeting Jillian Michaels

One of my favorite perks about working at Google is this thing called Talks at Google (you can check out the YouTube channel here to see all of the guests) because you get to see and hear from a lot of interesting people. Authors, chefs, celebs, scientists, politicians – you name it – come to Google to give a talk about an array of topics. Most notably, I’ve met Conrad AnkerKathy Griffin and today, Jillian Michaels!

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The Talk was recorded and will be on YouTube in a few weeks but I wanted to quickly recap it here on my blog. Jillian was surprisingly funny, shorter than I expected, and swore a lot (which I like in a lady!).

She talked about diets, fitness, her life, and shared a few Biggest Loser stories. My biggest take away was her emphasis on eating well and eating clean. (I know, I know, preaching to the choir…) She stressed 2 rules; 1. eat real food (no chemicals or artificial ingredients!) and 2. don’t overeat.

Uh, secret to life-happiness, much?

It was refreshing not to have one particular diet preached about. Her words were something along the lines of “your diet is like your religion, it’s a personal choice. Buddhist? Great! Vegan? Awesome! Paleo? Fantastic!

I read somewhere that people can get so defensive about their diet and how they eat because it is literally an extension of life. No food? No life. I think we all want to believe that we are making the best choices for our bodies – and our lives – so, when someone questions the food choices we make, it hits close to home.

Jillian was basically like, eat real food but not too much of it, and you’re golden.

Your body. Your choice. Your religion.

Ahem, sister.

When asked about working out, she told us the most effective workout is “the workout you actually do.” Again, it was refreshing at how transparent and real she was. She did mention avoiding repetitive workouts because our bodies adapt to stress but, aside from that, she wasn’t there trying to sell us on her methods of working out. Instead, she just stressed the importance of simply moving.

Which brings me to how funny/weird it was hearing her voice and not associating it with doing more jumping jacks… I’ve owned her 30 Day Shred workout DVD for years and still occasionally pop it in if I need a quick, good workout.

Jillian also talked about if you can figure out your why, it makes the how a lot easier. She mentioned it in the terms of working out, as in, if your why is to live a long life for your kids (…or to be in good shape before you have babies like mine is;) your how – being active, going to the gym, etc. – is going to be easier.

I think establishing your why to make your how easier can be applied in many instances and is a powerful perspective shift.

The last tidbit I will write about is a funny story she told about what she says to her kids when they want crap food. If her kids ask for something like an Otterpop (which are loaded with artificial food colors), she explains to them that eating it would be similar to eating one of their markers with sugar sprinkled on top. Genius!

I think breaking down why a food isn’t good for kids (would you eat a marker??) is a great way to explain how some foods should be avoided. …Do you see what I did there?

😉

 

Friday Favorites

theSkimm

Have you heard of this email newsletter? It’s amazing and literally life changing. A friend told me about it during the U.S. election but I never got around to signing up for it. Huge mistake! I’ve since jumped on the bandwagon and happily enjoy my morning coffee while skimming theSkimm. It’s an easy, digestible way to read about what’s happening around the world. Plus, it was started and run by 2 females. Love that.

If you aren’t signed up yet, please use the following URL to do so: http://www.theskimm.com/?r=1fc5ccbc

Weekend Get Aways

Last weekend Mike and I spent some time at Squaw, our favorite place to escape to (read about other trips here, here, and here). It was the epitome of a relaxing weekend. We slept in on Saturday morning before walking to lunch. The weather was perfect for a long walk (before a large pizza!). After lunch we spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool. Again, perfect weather for dipping between the pool and hot tub (wine in hand).

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We did a quick happy hour in the resort’s lobby and nibbled on our favorite cheese, Humboldt Fog, before getting massages. Then we went to Six Peaks for a fancy, yummy dinner.

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Cocktails and cheese

On Sunday we woke up early for a last dip in the pool. We left right after check out and met my dad at the Auburn Alehouse. It was such a good weekend. I barley took any pictures, left tons of texts unread, and just enjoyed my time unplugging and relaxing with Mike.

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Pastries by the pool!

It makes me think a no-phone vacation might be the new way to go…

Sparkling lemon h20

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I picked up these bad boys on a whim at Trader Joe’s and love them! They are literally just sparkling water and lemon juice. No added nuthin’! They’re great to have after dinner if you’re still wanting a little something more sans sugar, cals, or alcohol.

POPSUGAR fitness YouTube videos

I love YouTube and how easy it has made working out! You can find hundreds of good, FREE classes to do in the comforts of your own home. I tried this Muffin-Top-Melter class a few weeks ago and worked muscles I didn’t even know I had.

I also really like Yoga with Adriene, Bad Yogi, and Jessica Smith TV

Stone fruit

Nom nom. What’s better than stone fruit season? I’ve always loved peaches and nectarines and any fruit with a “stone” in the middle, really.  Lucky for me, there are brimming bowls at work. I’ve been eating one a day and I’m not complaining about it.

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Bali: final days

Read about the rest of our trip here, here, and here.


Thursday started with more smoothie bowls and a surfing lesson! …A surfing lesson for Mike anyway. (I’m a nervous beach-goer and SUP in Australia a few years ago was my limit for ocean activities.) I sat on the beach with the intention to read while Mike was in the water. Instead I chatted the whole time with a mom whose daughter was also taking a lesson. I later learned that her daughter competed in the Rio Olympics as a swimmer for Australia. Pretty cool!


After about 1 1/2 in the water, Mike’s lesson was done and we went back to the house for a second breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast. Since we were getting up so early, second breakfasts become a regular on this vacation.

A while later we collectively decided we could go for a massage (keeping with tradition from New Years Day when we were all in Santa Rosa). Spa treatments are cheap in Bali. We paid about $15 for a hour massage. After our relaxing massages, we were back in the pool to play volleyball. 

Sometimes I’m a bit of a joy kill when it comes to playing games… it’s not that I don’t like them but it takes me awhile to get into it.  I think because I much prefer conversation or reading, like the wise old soul that I am 😉 

I was going to tap out of playing because I had my contacts in and didn’t want to deal with taking them out to play. Instead Mike’s brother-in-law threw me a pair of googles to protect my eyes (lol) and started throwing the ball towards me. Of course it was a lot of fun! Almost too much fun as we stayed in the pool for a lot longer than expected.

We had planned to go to dinner at Old Man’s for Mike’s dads last night but we got there too late and it was crowded! (Which was a bummer because everyone had gone when we were in Ubud and really liked it.) Instead we ended up at the place next door which turned out to be great!

We sat up on a high deck, overlooking the beach. There were dimly lite orange and yellow lanterns everywhere, giving it a very whimsical feel. The place wasn’t crowded, which was surprising because the food was so good. I ordered the Australian cheeseburger with a side of corn and it was probably the best meal I had in Bali (aside from The Shady Shack).

The next day, our last full day in Bali, was filled with favorites from the trip. Mike and I woke up early and set out for first breakfast. I had avocado toast and an iced coffee with coconut milk. An ideal breakfast combination, in my opinion.

We had second breakfast back at the villa a while later. Then more pool time. I can’t remember exactly but I think a few Bintangs were consumed at this point too. Coffee chased with beer? Talk about vacation mode.

Lunch was at Taco Casa for more of their strawberry sangria and nachos! After drinking and eating, we all appropriately took a midday nap. Mike’s sister and company flew back to Australia that night but not before a last round at The Lawn. We went back in the afternoon for a drink, some apps, and a dip in their pool (how genius is it to have a pool at the restaurant?). Then we took our last family walk on the beach back to the villa.

Silliness at The Lawn

A few hours later, everyone was packed and ready to go home. With all of the company we had that week – not to mention, the giant house we were staying in that was now quiet – it felt pretty lonely for just Mike and I to be left.

So, we quickly reapplied bug spray and headed back to The Lawn for dinner (The Lawn isn’t paying me for this post, I swear hah). We ordered cocktails but probably should have skipped them because we were both already so tired. It was approaching 9pm, which was around our Bali bedtime. lol

After dinner, we walked back to our empty villa and went straight to bed. We woke up the next morning with the intent to enjoy all of our Bali favorites one last time. After smoothie bowls on the beach, we walked around the main strip before it got unbearably hot. Which wasn’t long after…

We wanted our last meal to be at The Shady Shake but, unfortunately, they were closed. Instead, we got avocado toast to-go and ate it back at our villa by the pool. We still had a ton of Bintangs left and thought, why not? We popped two open and the second they got warm, we opened another bottle. What else are you supposed to do with 2 people and half dozen beers? 😉

We finished the last of our packing, drank the last of the beer, and then it was time to go. Our transport picked us up and a hour later, we were at the airport, ready to embark on the 18 hour journey back home.

Airport adventures…

Our Hello Kitty themed airplane 😂