My cats are here to show me the way to inner bliss

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Let’s talk about cats.

Mark Twain once said, “Of all God’s creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat” (Notebook, 1894)… and how true this is. Cats are such enlightened little furry beings—we discussed this in my last post because Nosh definitely stares at me with his third eye. Definitely. What cat likes banana bread, lentil-apple sandwiches, and butternut squash pancakes unless he’s a guru?! Right. See?

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My cats share tidbits of enlightened wisdom with me every day. For instance… Obviously, inner peace can be achieved easily by a five hour nap on the heater vent, followed by a massive stretch and a round of kibble hockey… and then the search for a warm human to nap on for the next hour. And… repeat. Ohmmm. Inner peace.

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They also are excellent reminders to live in the moment. Mine always do. Picture this: I am cooking. In the kitchen. There are two pairs of eyes staring at me incessantly. Those eyes are very clearly saying: “In this moment, I want snacks. My kibble is in the laundry room. Why aren’t you walking over there? Snacks are for this moment. And then for the moment a moment from now. And then you will let me outside, and I will eat some bugs in a very enlightened manner to illustrate the interconnectedness of the universe”. You see how wise they are? It’s mind boggling.

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In the next life I’m coming back as a cat. A real cat, not just as a really bendy human with cat friends. Because that way I can achieve inner peace by napping for the majority of the day, eating a few bugs, and then finding a human to sleep on. That sounds like a pretty fabulous proposition, doesn’t it?!

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My cats do yoga and have kitty chakras. It’s okay, you’re allowed to be jealous.

In the short term, feel free to make this pizza and achieve a small measure of enlightened gastronomical wisdom. In a pinch (and in your lack of wise cat friends), it’ll do.

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Vegan Pizza on a Pumpkin Crust

This pizza surprised me! It came together quite fast, with things I had lurking around in the pantry. It was perfect for lunch and leftovers. The crust is gluten free (and can be nut free), made with pumpkin puree. The sauce is veggietastic and delicious—and vibrantly green! Vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free (could be nut free with all cornmeal and no almond flour). Both crust and sauce loosely adapted from Wholehearted Eats, here!

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For the crust:

  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed+4 tbsp water
  • 3 c pumpkin puree (2 cans worth)
  • 1/2 c almond flour
  • 1/2 c cornmeal
  • 3/4 c garbanzo bean flour
  • 1/8 c nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • a few good grinds of black pepper
  • 1.25 tsp dried oregano

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 c raw cashews, soaked for at least 10 minutes and drained
  • 2 c raw spinach, packed
  • 1.5 c frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • scant 1/4 tsp salt

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Preheat oven to 425, and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In  a small bowl, combine 2 tbsp ground flaxseed and 4 tbsp water. Set aside for the time being. In a large bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, almond flour, cornmeal, garbanzo bean flour, nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp flaxseed, sea salt, pepper, and oregano. Stir in soaked flax. Spread the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet, making a roughly oblong-type shape (or not, whatever floats your boat) with edges a bit thicker than the middle. Bake for just about 30 minutes, until the center is set and the edges are just beginning to brown (you should be able to peel it off the parchment paper).

While the crust is baking, make the sauce! In a food processor, whirl together soaked cashews , spinach, peas, nutritional yeast, olive oil, basil, and salt. I highly suggest tasting and adjusting as you go, it’s much more fun that way. Puree until the sauce is chunk-free and smooth.

When the crust is done, spread sauce around evenly, and top with veggies of choice. I used sautéed arugula, bell peppers, and zucchini, but use whatever you have on hand. Bake for another 5 minutes, then let cool for a minute or two before slicing and serving. I found that a sprinkle of salted, roasted cashews added just the right crunch and made a nice garnish.

Leftovers store well and taste equally delicious the next day! I stored mine in a glass continuer in the fridge.

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Full-tilt jungle madness [ie holiday whilst working retail]

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Happy Solstice! I was definitely wishing I was at Stonehenge tonight [not Sconehenge. We already know I’ve been there…].

Four days till Christmas?

Yep.

Holiday retail madness is in full tilt jungle mode. Oi. We had a line to the back of the store for the majority of my shift today, and I literally felt like a ping pong ball trying to get from the back of the store to the front. “Excuse me, excuse me, oops sorry, ‘scuse me” don’t mind me, I’m just carrying two FULLY LOADED hanger caddies which are awkward and heavy and no, it’s fine if you just sort of stand there, no big deal, it’s just a really good thing that I’m nimble and quite agile…

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Path of least resistance becomes a game of finding the smallest spaces between people and convincing yourself that you really do in fact fit through them. Oh. And yes, I most definitely DO work here, thanks for asking… I mean, as much as I find folding pants therapeutic, I don’t usually fold them for fun, you know?! Especially when they’re exploding out of the pant wall due to extreme being-shopped-ness. Literally exploding. Seeing is believing, people.

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Good thing too that this bit of deliciousness awaited me on my break. Thankfully, or I might have passed out due to a potent combination of hunger, cash/wrap repetitiveness, and energetic dancing (obviously— you have to move around a lot when you’re ringing at the register to get the blood flowing).

Can I unscrew my smile now? I think my jaw is permanently stuck.

Mmm. For times when you need a hefty dose of iron and some delicious flavors, this recipe should be in your back pocket.

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Afghani Beef with Acorn Squash

Recipe adapted from Afghan Online, here. Mom discovered this one a while ago, and we’ve been fans ever since. It comes together fairly easily, and serves 3 with plentiful leftovers. Gluten free and paleo! Also delicious sans acorn squash if you don’t happen to have any, you could totally serve this over couscous or quinoa, spaghetti squash, or zucchini noodles from your spiralizer… you name it, it’s probably delicious.

Rustle up the following:

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 lb ground beef (grass fed organic)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 16 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c water, divided
  • 1 mediumish zucchini
  • 2-3 c raw spinach
  • 2 acorn squash, halved
  • avocado oil

Preheat oven to 425. To roast acorn squash, brush them with avocado oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Flip them cut side down on a jelly roll pan or rimmed cookie sheet, and roast until fork tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Using a food processor or a powerful blender (I don’t possess this, so food processor it is), process onion and 1/2 c water. Pour this into a saucepan over medium heat, and add beef. Cook until the beef is browned, then add the other 1/2 c water, garlic, coriander, pepper, and tomato sauce. Grate zucchini into the pan, and toss in rinsed spinach. Let the whole thing simmer for about 20-25 minutes more, until ready to serve.

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Planning Fail.

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It was cold.

I sat on my exercise ball and studied bio until my eyes crossed.

I wanted soup.

And cornbread. We’ve been over this…. soup is just an excuse for carby sides. With BUTTER. Because, I ask you… what is better than butter?!

Anyway. I digress.

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Soup. There’s a quick potato soup that I’m fond of. It happens to be vegan, comes together faster than you can say boomshakalaka! and is obviously also delicious. This is rather the route I was attempting to go tonight, except I kind of got maybe not even a third into the recipe before I realized I actually didn’t have half the ingredients I was supposed to. Whooops. Planning fail.

So I made soup anyway. Kind of jankily. With the butt ends of things found in the fridge, and minimal ingredients. And it was (emphasis on the past tense here) delicious. And… it’s GREEN! Obviously I love it. Green things rock.

I also decided to put sprouted quinoa flour in my cornbread. A wise decision and one I’m sure I’ll be repeating… and homg BUTTER! ON my cornbread. Obviously a decision that I a) never regret and b) why would you ever regret butter?!

So here you go! A nice, fridge-scrounging Thursday night recipe when your brain is fogged and you think you have more groceries than you apparently actually do.

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Boomshakalaka Potato Soup!

Recipe from… the depths of my grey matter. And my fridge. Serves  3 for dinner, with leftovers for one. Beyond excellent with cornbread, hellooooooo obviously you need an excuse for butter. I like this recipe best! But this time I replaced 1/2 c whole wheat flour with 1/2 c sprouted quinoa flour. Delicious.

  • 6-7 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 5-6 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • 1/2 a clove garlic
  • 2 c low-sodium veggie stock
  • 4 c raw spinach
  • heaping 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • optional: chopped cashews for a classy garnish

In a pot, bring some water to a boil, chuck in your chopped potatoes, and boil until they’re fork tender.

In a larger soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Toss in garlic clove and celery, and sauté until the celery is soft. Add spinach, and cover the pot until everything gets wiltified. Once the potatoes are done, drain them, then add them to the pot with all the other veggie biz. Add stock, then puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in nutritional yeast, salt and pepper (and any other seasonings you might like, this isn’t a recipe so much as a template..). Season to taste! Serve hot. Also delicious with some chopped cashews for a classy garnish.

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I made Lentil Loaf! Shocked? No, I thought not.

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Sometimes I can’t even believe some of the things that come out of my mouth.

Like, “Oh yeah, I don’t use refined sugar when I bake, but I use it for fermenting my kefir water starter, the kefir grains seem like they prefer refined sugars”.

Um, okay… I have fermenting kefir grains on my counter for my probiotic kefir water. No big deal, doesn’t everyone??

Also. My breakfast is most often green. But… maybe you already knew that?

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Sometimes I amaze even myself with my crunchiness. Or alternativeness. Or organicness. Or awesomeness. Pick word, any word!

Tonight, I’m real granola. I made… lentil loaf.

Yep. Shocker, I know.

What else could you possibly be expecting?! My work nickname is Lentil, after all ;)

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And I know it’s like THE number one vegan stereotype food, but sorry I’m not sorry it’s a) delicious, b) not made with any of that freaky fake meat/soy product business, c) whole foods are the way to go, d) I’m already pretty much a stereotype (reference leg warmers, fermenting kefir grains, nutritional yeast, and the fact that I bring my composting home), so that boils down to e) I happily embrace this most stereotypical of foods. I knew *I* would love it (says the girl who puts spinach and carrots in her oatmeal)… but would OTHER people (those notsogranola types) like it??

Tonight, I fed one of my best friends lentil loaf.

And…

She’s still my friend! Ha. Success. In fact, she *LIKED* it! I sweetened the deal with some mashed potatoes (because obviously what ELSE would you eat with lentil loaf?! Helloooo, mashed potatoes go with all things loaflike). But both she and the rest of the fambam luuuurved the lentil loaf!! So much so that they nicknamed it LeLo (pronounced ley-low). I personally like LENTIL LOAF since it sort of typifies the stereotype and makes me laugh, but there you have it.

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Exhibit A. Lentil Loaf.

Delicious, quick, and fabulous. A nice riff on your “traditional American meal” except that it so totally isn’t. And of course it’s served on my fab elephant plate from when I was teeny.

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Vegan Lentil Loaf

Recipe adapted slightly from 86 Lemons, here! Makes one 9 by 5 pan, serves 4 easily for dinner with leftovers. Gluten free and vegan. It comes together in a snap—probably the longest part is cooking the lentils, which is easily done in advance.

  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseeds+6 tbsp water [2 flax eggs]
  • 2 c cooked green lentils (1 c dry yields a bit more than 2 c cooked), split into 1.5 and 1/2 c
  • 1 c rolled oats, divided
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 c mushrooms, diced (I used white button mushrooms)
  • 2 c fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 3/4 organic ketchup, divided
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 c + 1/8 c nutritional yeast, divided
  • 1/2 c almond flour

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Preheat oven to 375, and line a 9 by 5 inch pan with parchment paper, allowing enough to hang over the sides like handles.

Combine flaxseed and water, and set aside until it gels into an ‘eggy’ consistency.

In a food processor, combine 1.5 c cooked lentils and 1/2 c of oats. Pulse until the mixture is mostly smooth, adding in the almond milk in between pulses. Toss all this into a large bowl.

In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 c ketchup, 1/8 c nutritional yeast, and apple cider vinegar. Set aside.  Add olive oil to a saute pan over medium heat. Toss in onions and garlic, and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add in mushrooms, oregano, and spinach, and cook until the spinach is wilted and the mushrooms are tender. Stir in the ketchup/nutritional yeast/vinegar combo, and set aside.

Going back to the large bowl with the lentil-oat biz, stir in the other 1/2 c of rolled oats, almond flour, flax egg, 1/4 c nutritional yeast, and the onion-mushroom mixture. Stir it all together (and use your hands, it’s really fun), making sure everything is nicely combined. Salt and pepper to taste.
Pour batter into the prepared pan, smoothysmooth the top of it, and the have fun painting the top with the last 1/4 c of ketchup. Bake for 35-40 minutes, let cool for a few in the pan, then remove to a cooling rack (using the nifty parchment paper handles) to sit before slicing. Mine was perfect at 35 minutes.

Makes excellent leftovers—just store in the fridge!

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I ALWAYS play with my food…

The perks of being a bulk squirrel

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Hiya!

It’s Sunday. I just came from a fab yoga class and now my joints feel all nice and stretchy and I also feel like there is a hole in my stomach. Mid-morning yoga always makes me SO FREAKING HUNGRY! Oi. But I’m currently placating it with a large bowl of sweet potato-egg-kale-avocado-salsa-ketchup (don’t judge) goodness sooo… things are headed in the right direction.

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And last night I made this!

YAY! for amaranth and lentils.

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If I had an alter ego it would probably be a legume….

This is an easy one pot dish that is ready in under an hour, so it makes for delicious weeknight (or busy night) meals. Additionally, if you’re like me, it’s composed mostly of bulk staples so if you’re a bulk squirrel like me, you likely already have everything. It’s also really adaptable. Don’t have spinach? Use some other leafy green thing. Hate peas? No probs, leave them out or put something else in instead.

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Besides being fast and easy, legumes + amaranth are super protein! Sort of like Super Legume Girl, or whatever my alter ego would be. Pair some super-protein with some free-radical bashing antioxidants from the veggies and all kinds of good minerals and amino acids from the amaranth, and you’ve got one nutritional powerhouse disguised as a delicious dinner.

Serve it for your next weeknight dinner and… BOOM SHAKA LAKA! Tell those free radicals they are NOT invited to your parties!

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Lentil and Amaranth Stew

Recipe adapted from Food Recipes HQ, here! I got a yield of dinner for three, plus leftovers for two.

  • 1 c amaranth
  • 1/2 c green lentils
  • 3 massive carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 garlic clove (1 clove if you like more garlic)
  • 1 carton of veggie broth (1 quart, about 4 cups), divided
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 c raw spinach
  • 2 c green peas, defrosted if frozen
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • small splash of Bragg’s liquid aminos, coconut aminos, or soy sauce (low sodium)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • chopped cashews, pepitas, and sliced avocado for serving

Heat a large pot over medium high heat (I used a large soup pot for this so I had lots of room for the raw spinach to wilt down). Add amaranth and toast for about 4 minutes, or until you can smell it toasting (it will have a slightly nutty smell to it). Add in lentils, carrots, two cups of broth, garlic, and olive oil. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 30-40 minutes, adding more broth as needed (the amaranth will start to thicken and absorb the liquid as it cooks). Once you hit the 35-40 minute mark, stir in bell pepper, spinach, peas, nutritional yeast, bragg’s, salt and pepper. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes more, until the spinach is completely wilted and the stew is heated through. Adjust seasoning to taste, and serve hot! The amaranth will thicken considerably as it cools—I like it thick, but feel free to thin it out with more broth when reheating for leftovers. Top with cashews and avo!

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I’m alternative… or awesome? Let’s go with awesome.

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I eat greens in three meals a day.

No joke.

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I even put spinach in my oats. (I can hear you ewwwing, you know, through my computer). NOT cooked, mind you—it only goes in my overnight oats. With a buhhnahhhnuhhh. And then I eat them in lunch. And dinner. And probably a snack, if I could finagle it. You know how in previous posts I’ve mentioned putting spinach where it totally doesn’t belong? Yeah. I suppose oats would be one of those places… as would a banana scramble…? Whatever. I’m kind of  alternative. Or awesome… let’s go with awesome.

Ahem..

Movingggg… on!

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This time, spinach went in a smoothie! That’s at least a little more normal… but why I chose to make and eat this on day when it was cold and raining outside is beyond me. It was delicious but then I was promptly freezing. Whoops. Whatever, worth it!

And then you can do almond butter art on top of your smoothie, if you eat in in a bowl. Which is obviously reason enough to eat in a bowl, right?? Who doesn’t like an excuse to play with their food? Come on, channel your inner Jackson Pollock, you know you want to!

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Almond Coconut Green Smoothie

Gratefully inspired by The Edible Perspective, here! Makes one largeish smoothie bowl. Note that you need to freeze the coconut milk first, so make time for that if you want this later in the day!

  • 1 c light coconut milk
  • 1/2 c milk bev of choice (I used 1% milk)*
  • 2 c fresh spinach
  • 2 tbsp almond butter+more for drizzle
  • 1.5 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut+garnish
  • 1 medjool date, pitted
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

*I would have liked mine thicker, more like a milkshake consistency—next time I won’t add as much extra milk. Up to you!  If you want it drinkable (as opposed to spoon-able), use 1/2-1 c extra milk bev.

Freeze 1 c of coconut milk in ice cube trays. Once it’s frozen, pop them out into your food processor (or blender, if you happen to have a decent one). Add in spinach, almond butter, coconut, date, banana, and vanilla, and blend until combined. Pour into a bowl (because that’s more fun!), and top with almond butter and coconut, and maybe some chia seeds. Preferably eat when it’s not freezing outside…

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Long ago, somewhere deep in the jungle…

Ridiculously cold weather calls for ridiculously tasty meals. Especially dinners, when you don’t have to go anywhere and you can just curl up and eat peacefully, whilst watching the the emperor get his groove thrown off with your roomie. The entirety of which the two of you could basically quote, between the two of you. But that’s another story entirely. So. Since I am not currently residing in some steamy Mesoamerican jungle, like SOME lucky llamas, I am currently experiencing Salem’s tribute to November, which seems to be freezing fog and coooold weather. Don’t get me wrong, I do love snappy, cold fall days. I do not love wearing  my north face in class because the room is cold… although, that’s probably preferable to going to sleep in a too-warm room… hmm. Anyway. Let’s move ahead! (“Umm.. what’s with the chimp and the bug?!”)

Like I said in the last post, Kira and I have had a run of immensely satisfying dinners. This one unfortunately didn’t yield any leftovers to daydream about… *sigh*. oh well, Kira and I might have had to fight over them (they were that good!). And simple! Not only is this recipe simple to prepare, it’s also economical. Which is excellent, as we’re on a college budget over here. It’s simple, but immensely satisfying. Oh. AND it’s healthy! Pshhh, would I make anything else?! (well. yes. I would. But this is not it!) Like crab, but waaaaay better. Salmon is incredibly good for you—omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for cholesterol (and pretty skin and hair!). Besides, canned salmon is BOMB. It’s like fresh… but cheaper! And just as nutritious. Hooray!! Served with a salad and some crusty bread, this is a meal that is light on the stomach, yet incredibly satisfying. As Kuzko would say… “BOOM BAM, BABY! Let’s get to the grub! I am one huuungry king of the world!”

And no, this dish does not involve essence of llama in any form, thank goodness. My shoulder angels would be against that, I’m sure.

Salmon Cakes

Adapted from Self magazine (I think that’s where I got it!) Serves two. We were hungry.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet (or two, if you’re hungry and want to get this show on the road). While the oil is heating, combine:

  • 1 can of salmon (Alaskan wild, pleeeease!), drained, de-boned, de-gunked, and flaked
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 piece of whole wheat bread, torn into smallish breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Stir to combine all of this together, and then form into patties. We got about 6, probably about 1/4 cup salmon each. Plop into the hot skillet, and saute for about 5 to 6 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked though. Serve hot, with a side salad and some insanely good Moroccan olive crusty bread. Our salad tonight consisted of spinach, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, carrots, dried cranberries, and some chopped goat’s milk gouda (aka BEST CHEESE EVER). Props to Kira for always making super tasty salads! [Salatenmeisterinen?!] Mmmmmm. There’s a recipe to warm up with. See? I told you it was super simple. Eat. Gloat because you’re getting omgea-3s for cheap! Quote movie. Be happy :]

” A LLAMA?! He’s supposed to be DEAD!”… “Yeah… weird.”