Because sardines and brownies totally go together?! Uh. No. Just go with it.

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Food prep Sunday has returned in all it’s fridge-filling glory. And actually this week I literally went from empty empty fridge to stuffed fridge. Which is exactly how a Sunday night fridge should look, because Mondays are bad enough as it is without being irked by a lack of edible things.

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I do kind of love having an emptyish fridge — it forces me to get creative and use what I have. And it is definitely not a bad thing to cook down your fridge / freezer / pantry periodically. I had some epic meals at the end of last week, all full of new veggie combinations, as I was working with what I had. There was a deplorable lack of produce after Friday night though, so today I had a glorious Sunday of yoga, grocery shopping, and several hours of food prep. Ahhh. And then dinner and movie and dessert with the purring snugglepuss. Me-time doesn’t get much better than that!

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Also, yesterday was date day in Santa Cruz with E! AND OMG I DISCOVERED CHOCOLATE COVERED BACON!

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I mean, I’d had a bacon chocolate bar and have made bacon brownies… but a piece of bacon!!!! Covered in chocolate!!!! Amazing. And simple to make for myself… but let’s not. I would eat.it.all. But anyway, chocolate covered bacon. I highly recommend it.

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Back to what I was sort of talking about in a rambly fashion — food prep Sunday! Today I did a crockpot red lentil dal with ginger and curry, which will probably last me a week (I made a literal VAT), roasted radishes for later in the week, made a new batch of nut butter and cashew meal, baked a batch of vegan spelt brownies with a tahini-maple swirl (omg.save me from myself and the whole pan), and a sardine ragu over zucchini noodles and greens. Which, depending on your point of view, could be the best thing ever or the most disgusting. Obviously, I fall into the former camp, but hey. We can’t all be the same, or this would be one boring universe.

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But even if sardines straight out the can with a little mustard (and avo) isn’t your thing (ahem. not like I do that or anything), I’m advocating for you to give this ragu a shot.

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The sardines are simmered in red wine and tomato sauce, which tames their sardine-yness. I do love them, but I’ll admit they can be a little much sometimes (I really have to be in the mood for them). But in the sauce, they’re much milder. I served the sauce over some sautéed mushrooms and zucchini noodles with greens, and shredded a little goat cheddar over the top (Redwood Hill Farms is my favorite!! Their cheese is spectacular). Highly recommended, and in my lunch for work tomorrow (because this just gets better and better as the flavors do the leftover tango). This is reason number five billion why food prep days are so spectac: Lunches for at least the first half of the week, so I can be not hangry and cranky for the start of the week.

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Enough babble. It’s Sunday night and time for bed so I can be something less than a zombie come five am tomorrow. And this post is enough of a novel already, so on that note… recipeeeez!

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Vegan Spelt Brownies with Tahini Swirl

These brownies are much cakier than my usual brownies, so if cakey brownies are your jam, you’re in the right spot. I usually like mine fudgier, but these are great for a change. The maple tahini swirl is freaking fantastic as well, so if you like halva or just sesame in general, these are right up your alley. Vegan, refined sugar free, and delicious. Yield: one 8 by 8 pan, anywhere from 6 to 12 brownies, depending on what kind of day you’ve just had. Adapted from Love Me, Feed Me, here!

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  • 3/4 c whole spelt flour
  • 1/4 c + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • a very full 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1/3 c unsweetened hemp milk
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1.5 tbsp maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease (or use parchment) an 8 by 8 pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together spelt flour, cocoa powder, sea salt, and baking soda. Add in vanilla, applesauce, maple, and avo oil. Stir to roughly combine. Add in hemp milk and chocolate chips, and mix until incorporated. Pour batter into the prepared pan. In a small bowl, stir together tahini and maple syrup. Practice your drizzle skills and make it look pretty as your pour it over the top of the batter… take a knife (or the spoon you’re currently using, if you’re lazy like me) and swirl it into the batter. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool completely, and store covered in the fridge.

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And now for something completely different….

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Sardine Ragu over Zucchini Noodles

Savory, perfectly textured, and full of healthy fats and lycopene. All good things! Gluten free, low lactose (with goat cheese), and high in antioxidants. If you can, try to eat this on subsequent days — I find that the flavor just gets better and better. Yield: 3-4 servings. Ish. Recipe inspired by Spoonshine blog, here!

  • a good glug of olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, frozen or smooshed
  • 3 rainbow carrots, diced
  • 2 cans of sardines, packed in oil (I like Wild Planet brand)
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 125 ml red wine
  • 500 ml freshly boiled water
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated cheese of choice, optional
  • spiralized zucchini + sautéed mushrooms and greens for serving, or your fave pasta

Heat the olive oil over medium in a sauté pan. Once the oil is hot, add in onions, and garlic with a few twists of sea salt and pepper, and saute until the onion is translucent. Add in diced carrots, sardines (Including their oil), tomato sauce and paste, oregano, thyme, and red wine. Bring to a boil and let cook for 10 minutes, until the sauce has reduced and the alcohol has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper, and add the freshly boiled water.

Keeping the sauce at a high simmer, let it cook, stirring occasionally, for 35 minutes. It should be reduced and thicker, like the consistency of a meat ragu. Once the sauce has reduced, taste and season accordingly — add the tbsp of balsamic, plus more oregano or thyme, or salt and pepper (or all four).

Serve over zucchini noodles or your noodle of choice, with a sprinkling of grated parmesan or goat cheese over the top.

Here’s a little ommm to take into your Monday:

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:)

Hello weekends, I LOVE you

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I still can’t get over this whole weekends off thing. I’ve had one whole weekend to do whatever I pleased and I wasn’t on vacation and no one was covering my shifts and I almost didn’t know what to do with myself for a hot second.

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But only a hot second. Because I realized that I could a) go to jazzercise, b) go to yoga, c) go to yoga AGAIN, d) go out to dinner to eat Moroccan food in the outer Richmond and cookies from the Castro with my boyfriend and parentals (yay!), e) hang out with a bestie, and f) make all kinds of delicious food, and g) do ALL OF THOSE THINGS ALL IN ONE WEEKEND!!! It was amazing. Really. And now I’m writing this. And eating delicious things. Ooohoooh and I got to read my novel too!! Secret nerd?! Nope. Not even. Mostly just nerd.

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omg egg.

But anyway. In the midst of being super excited for having two weekend days off in a row for reals and forever (for now), I made shashuka! Essentially eggs poached in marinara sauce, served over something grainy or whatever and sprinkled with a fine grating of cheese. Which is delicious and exciting since I’d never made it before… and also kind of sounds like a type of dance?? Don’t you think? Do the shashuka? Right? Okay. No. Just eat it, you won’t regret it for a second. I think this is going on my regular rotation of things to make since it’s relatively fast, I generally have everything on hand, and it’s comforting and saucy and delicious.

melting. cheese.
melting. cheese.

Also, I never want my dessert to end. I made banana bread with caramelized bananas and no refined sugar and stuff and then I cut a piece in half and smeared chocolate peanut butter and salted caramel ice cream and chocolate malt ice cream [sorry I’m not sorry, it’s the weekend] all over the inside and now I don’t want it to stop. I would try to slow down eating it but it’s just SO GOOD. Can’t stop won’t stop. After all that shashuka… mmm. Food. And weekends. Doesn’t get much better than that.

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And now my eyes are droopy and tired and I might actually go to bed. At 8. Because I can. Muahahaha!

shashuka in the sun!!
shashuka in the sun!!

Shashuka

Most likely serves 3-4, though you could use as many eggs as you want. I made a full serving of sauce but only enough eggs for me so that I could make fresh eggs when I want leftovers. Gluten free! Please excuse the sometimes rather vague measurements, I never measure when I make marinara. The recipe is my own! Shahuka obvs isn’t my idea, but besides poaching eggs in tomato sauce, I get credit for the flavors!

  • a hefty glug of olive oil
  • 2 hunks of frozen basil (or else a good handful of fresh)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • a few sprigs of fresh marjoram
  • medium sized glug of red wine
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • double handful of button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small zucchini, grated
  • three good handfuls of spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 can tomato sauce [strictly tomato, not marinara sauce that’s prepared]
  • 2 good spoonfuls of tomato paste, until your sauce is as thick as you like
  • 1/2 tsp coconut sugar
  • salt+pepper to taste
  • 3 eggs
  • grated parmesan, to serve

In a saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in basil, garlic, and marjoram. Once the oil has heated a bit, add diced onions. Let them cook for a minute or two, then add wine. Let that cook over low while you chop up the rest of the veggies. Add in mushrooms and let them brown for about 4-5 minutes, then toss in grated zucchini and spinach. Let it all cook down for maybe 5 minutes, until the spinach is wilted. Add in tomato sauce and paste, and let the sauce simmer for at least 20 minutes. Season to taste as it’s cooking with salt and pepper, as well as the 1/2 tsp of coconut sugar (add more to taste if things are a little bitter up in these parts). Turn heat to medium low, and make three wells in the sauce with the back of a spoon. Crack an egg into each well, cover the pan, and cook for 5 ish minutes until the whites are cooked though (the idea is to have runny yolks—if that freaks you out then let them go a bit longer). Serve over a grain of choice, with grated parmesan sprinkled over the top.

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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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