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Archive for February, 2011

Wilshire-versary

Soooo, let’s just get this out of the way.  There’s been a glitch in the system.  Thanks to Google I have no account, and so my life is a little bit scrambled at the moment.  I feel oh-so-lucky to be one of the chosen deactivated 0.02% (sarcasm much)…

I’m sorry the announcement of my giveaway was delayed (I couldn’t access the chart I was tracking everyone’s entries on).  Sorry kids!  It appears a peace treaty has been reached between myself and Google right now.  Let this be a lesson, though – back yo shiz up! 

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While my Google crap was still getting sorted out, Kyle and I had a fabulous anniversary dinner date at Wilshire

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There were a few key reasons I chose this restaurant – the most important being their focus on supporting organic and local farms.  I like rewarding places that are environmentally responsible.  In addition to honoring sustainable practices, Wilshire has a pretty legit wine list, too. 

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The menu is veg-friendly with several salads and even a vegan entree (plus vegetarian pastas, fish dishes, and steak/burger options).  And half a dozen veggie sides that I was eyeing, too.

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The ambiance was fabulous – pretty much exactly as I’d design my own restaurant – with indoor and outdoor areas.  There were TONS of heater lamps and a couple of fireplaces (and as someone who is perpetually freezing, this was the warmest I’d been all day).  The tables were scattered among trees lined in lights, which made the experience casual but special.  There were several separate outdoor areas, too, all hidden by various treetops and canopies, and yet it still seemed so open.  Also, there were many places for private parties (noted).  I definitely felt like the dining atmosphere was really special. 

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We started with bread – hot and steamy with the fluffiest insides.  The butter (which I obviously skipped) was infused with pepper. 

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To start, Kyle and I shared the little gem and endive salad with persimmon, walnuts, roaring 40’s, and pomegranate vin.  And although it was quite tasty, I quickly discovered “roaring 40’s” was in fact very old cheese.  It was easily picked around, but there was still a pretty strong aroma present.  Well, now I know.

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For dinner, I ordered the panko crusted tofu with edamame puree and stir fried mushrooms.

YUM!!!

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The panko crust on this was to die for.  Absolutely to die for.  The edamame puree was especially complimentary, while the mushrooms were so good I wanted an entire plate of them alone.  I practically licked the plate clean, it was devoid of even a drippy drop of food; and even though I was completely stuffed afterwards, I still wished the portion had been twice the size.  It was simply amazing.

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Kyle chose the braised shortrib with mashed potatoes and glazed cipollini onion.

The night was fabulous.

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for…

Congrats to elaine who wrote:

thanks for holding this awesome giveaway! Terry is such an inspiration – the interview was wonderful to read.  I also love the question, "If you had to choose 3 foods to eat for the rest of your life what would they be?" because that’s one of my favorite questions to ask! you find so many incredible new ways to eat certain foods when you just ask! my top 3 foods:

1. KALE (same as terry!)
2. the blackened tempeh from native foods (it is like NOTHING i’ve ever tasted before)
3. cashews – my one true nut love

Send me an email with your address so I can get you your very own copy of Terry Walters’ Clean Start

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Celebrating six

Can you believe that tomorrow it will be 6 months since I became a MRS!?! 

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Best day of my life. 

For the new readers, the wedding recap links are below:

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Part 1

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Part 2

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Part 3 

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Six months of marital bliss :)  Celebratory dinner at Wilshire

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Veggie Squash Noodles

This recipe will fill you up and then some. 

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It will probably leave you with a small fiber baby too.

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Spaghetti squash is pretty much the easiest squash to prep ever.  Literally all you do is hack it open, flip it so each half is face down in a pan with an inch of water.

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Simple enough, right?  No chopping, no peeling, no Jackie Chan knife skills required.

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Left: pre-oven; Right: after 50 minutes at 375.

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Scoop out the stringy flesh, and tupperware it up.

Unless you are a squash whore, I’d recommend separating the portions and perhaps freezing some because there’s usually a pretty substantial yield.  Then again, if you are feeding an entire family (or a certain hippie), this probably won’t apply.

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Below is half the yield (and that’s a monster tupperware in case you can’t tell).

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I can’t believe an entire fall and nearly all of winter have passed and I am only just now making my first spaghetti squash dish of the year.  Geez.  For it’s first use, I decided to make a creamy sauce and load it with extra veggies.  I was craving fiber in a HUGE way (most likely because I ate an undocumented and hideously embarrassing amount of pretzels with almond butter the previous night – but who’s to say). 

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Nope, not alfredo.

I have perfected a mock “cheese” sauce that will make you ditch dairy forever.  And assuming you have the same pantry staples on hand as I, it’s probably something you could make for your next meal.

The chemistry isn’t exact, just whisk together:

  • 1/4 cup hummus (or more)
  • 2 tbsp nooch
  • 1/8 cup almond milk
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

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I used as little liquid as possible so that it was really thick, but in actuality the consistency is up to you.

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This was so awesome, I probably could’ve eaten it simply like this, but I craved some crunch. 

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So I added in:

  • a million baby carrots, chopped
  • baby bell pepper, chopped
  • raw shredded cauliflower “rice”

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Piled high.

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Then all tossed together.

It took a loooong time to finish off (my favorite kind of meal).  And because I’m a fiend, I even went back for extra hummus and carrots. 

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Spaghetti squash, while nowhere near as close to my heart as butternut, can definitely be a nice change up.  Due to it’s noodle-y consistency, it can stand in for pasta in a dish (ie squash marinara), or offer up it’s own Vitamin A and Folic Acid packed nutrients as a side dish.  I’ve posted a step by step tutorial on how to prepare spaghetti squash before (see the tutorials section).  And Terry has a really good recipe in her book Clean Start…which you only have a few more hours to enter to win!

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I’m pretty sure my version of the phrase is just as true (and not nearly as morbid).  I mean really, is there anything more certain in life than the fact that I’ll consume pounds and pounds of hummus?  No.  The burden of taxes, on the other hand, is a far less joyous inevitability.

Kyle and I have nearly finished ours, though, so at least that will be one big check off the to-do list.  I have to say, moving to a different state and starting new jobs certainly made things more difficult this year.  Good thing my dad has been making me do my own taxes for years.  [I can’t believe I’m admitting that this has been beneficial since I hate hate hate it]

But I digress.

Breakfast was my only meal on Saturday that didn’t contain hummus.

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Banana + MaraNatha almond butter + pita pita

In case you have been on the lookout for the best whole wheat pita ever, do yourself a favor and find Turlock Pita Bread asap.  Mmmm.

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Pac man the pita (see above), stuff in sliced up nanner, copious amounts of nutbutter, and enjoy.

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Apple slices got their own almond butter a la mode.  There is no sharing when it comes to nutbutters.  Definitely a “go big or go home” sitch.

Lunch was wrap-tastic

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Not too complicated – hummus, butternut squash, and bell peppers on an Alvarado Street sprouted wrap.

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Perrrrrfect.

I attempted an afternoon jog, but found the wind to be quite distracting.  There were several points that I nearly wooshed off the street…hideous.  I cut it short and Netflix-ed the afternoon away instead.

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Afternoon snackage.

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The heel piece (best piece!) of my latest loaf of pumpkin banana bread topped with almond butter.  Decadent!

Dinner involved this bad boy.

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With, what else, hummus.  🙂

Recipe to come.

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Staples

I have more photos on my camera than I could possibly share.

How about the staples?

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Pre-packed food – definitely necessary given the limited cafeteria options at 3 am.

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T.G.I.L. – thank goodness it’s leftovers because it made work prep come together in 5 minutes flat (Israeli couscous with raw cauliflower “rice”, cherry tomatoes, and spinach)

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Dessert – non-negotiable 🙂 [I ate this Kookie Karma holistic choco lot in the car on the way to work so I don’t have a photo, but it was dark, gooey, and utterly decadent – I will be buying again]

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Candied Ginger – I am averaging one of these tubs a week so I’d say it’s almost as much of a staple as hummus

Speaking of hummus…

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Hummus and vegan cheese – the new power couple

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Oats – always a staple in my life.  Especially after a long 12 hour night shift.  Could I have heaped this bowl any higher?

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Coffee – no explanation needed

 

 

 

 

And now for the real Staples

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Downtown LA used to scare me, but it’s not at all as ghetto as it once was.  In fact, the area surrounding the Staples Center was, dare I say it, pretty posh.

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Fine dining aplenty!

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And another staple 😉

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A perfect way to start off my weekend (yes, on a Thursday)!

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And the BEST way to start a Friday.  T.G.I.F.T.  Thank goodness it’s french toast!

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Relaxing in PJs and doing Jillian’s Shred are equally as important in my life.  Naturally, I made sure to do both.

And enjoying back to back nights out…well…that’s not exactly a staple…yet.

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But I’m hoping it becomes one.  🙂

What’s a staple in your life? Food or other.

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a copy of Terry Walters’ Clean Start.

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I have raved about her recipes many times on the blog before, so it should be no surprise that I am huge fan of Terry Walters’ Clean Food.  When I found out she was releasing a new cookbook, Clean Start, I was thrilled.  And when I was contacted about interviewing Terry herself, I could hardly contain my excitement! (!!!!!)  IMG_5947

What I love about her recipes is that they feature whole foods in their purest form, with a focus on using what’s in season.  Just like Clean Food, her latest cookbook Clean Start is divided into summer/winter/spring/fall chapters (I’m already drooling over the fresh summer salads) with a heavy emphasis on whole grains, fruit and veggies.  Sweet potato and Cashew Soup with Avocado Cream?  Polenta Pizzas?  Can I get a hell yeah!?!

Calling for nutritionally packed whole foods, her dishes are anything but boring.  Clean, yes.  Healthy, naturally.  And flavor-packed like whoa.  Clean Start is filled with vibrant, colorful photos that make the food jump off the page – so much so that I want to get to the farmer’s market immediately.

I love her recipes so much that I want to share them with you all!  Fortunately, I am able to give away a copy to one lucky reader.  See details below. First, enjoy my interview with Terry herself.

Elise in bold, Terry’s responses in normal text

—I may be biased, but I think that sometimes there’s a certain stigma attached to the word “vegan”.  I’m not sure if it’s intimidating or off-putting for non-vegans, but I’ve noticed that many cookbooks and restaurants are opting out of using the word “vegan” even though they are in fact animal free.  Do you specifically avoid using the word “vegan” in describing your book/recipes.  Is this on purpose, and if so, is there a reason?

I do avoid the word “vegan”. I think of the plant-based foods in my books as the foods that we all need more of, no matter what else is on your plate. If you follow a vegan diet, my books will fit you to a T. But even if you don’t, your health and well being will benefit from incorporating these highly nutritional foods into your diet. From a variety of whole grains and vegetables, to non-animal sources of protein like legumes, nuts and seeds, my goal is to make these nutritious foods quick and easy so that we can nourish ourselves and our families every day.

—Are you vegan/vegetarian or flexitarian?  (It’s ok if you want to remain label free, I’m just curious)

I’m Terry and I eat for balance. I feel best when I follow a primarily vegan and gluten-free diet, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be best for you! When we embrace labels for our approach to eating, we look more to the label for guidance instead of listening to our bodies and that’s a problem. No label can listen to your body and determine the right combination of foods and nourishment to serve your unique constitution better than you. In practice, I am likely more “vegan” than many who call themselves that. However, I do enjoy wild caught fish on occasion, and an organic turkey at Thanksgiving. I try not to be too rigid or hard on myself about the choices I make, as I don’t think judgment serves anyone’s good health.

[Elise here – I love this answer]

—How about your family members?  Do your husband and kids enjoy the same foods?

I have two daughters to whom I fed kale and collard greens for almost two years before they finally gave in! Now greens are among their favorites, but I know how lucky I am! I believe in empowering my girls with knowledge so they can make their own choices, and then I step back and just pray that they make the healthy choices. If nothing else, I know that I’ve provided healthy options along the way and that their comfort foods will always be things like Tofu Kale Lasagna, Sautéed Greens with Leeks, Olive Oil and Ume, Brown Rice Pudding…along with pizza, ice cream and the other temptations that we all love, but that only rarely make it into our house! If someone doesn’t like something, I don’t force it. For instance, I happen to love tempeh, but I’m the only one in my family who does so I make it for myself for lunch and snacking. Other than the tempeh, my family likes almost everything I make. They’re the very first line of taste testing, so if they don’t like it, you’re likely not to find it in any of my books!

—As far as I can tell, Clean Food isn’t entirely gluten free (but close to it), whereas Clean Start is.  I’d love for you to share the rationale behind this.  Do you have certain intolerances personally (or your family members), or is it simply a dietary preference.

When my children were younger they had many food sensitivities. In healing them, I took away all dairy, gluten, soy…(the lists of foods to eliminate was huge, so I’ll spare you from the details here). While they can eat just about whatever they want now, I notice that the gluten in particular can make them more moody (shh…don’t let them know I told you)! And frankly, it can do the same thing to me! Gluten, dairy, animal protein…are all so hard to avoid when you’re not in the comfort of your own home. So, when they’re at home, I want to give them the best nutrition that I can.

When CLEAN FOOD went from being a self-published book to a published book, I had the chance to make some edits and in hindsight I wish I had taken out the gluten completely then. When you eat clean, minimally processed, gluten is in so few foods (wheat, barley, rye, oats) that it wouldn’t have been hard to do. I don’t believe that being gluten-free is necessary for everyone, but I wanted CLEAN START to be accessible to everyone. Clean food is simple, delicious and nutritious and doesn’t require the addition of dairy, animal protein, refined sugar or even gluten to be so. I bake gluten-free by choice and love that I can enjoy so many baked goods that are loaded with nutritional value and void of guilt!

—It seems like plant based diets are gaining popularity more and more these days, especially as awareness grows about the health benefits.  With celebrities like Jamie Oliver, Ellen, Bill Clinton, and now Oprah (just to name a few) putting clean eating in the spotlight, maybe more wholesome diets will be embraced by the general pblic.  Do you have any comments on this clean food movement?  How have you been received at speaking engagements?

Twenty years ago people looked at me like I had three heads when they realized the foods I ate. A decade ago they wanted to know more. And today, people are diving in headfirst! I love it! It’s always been and continues to be incredibly rewarding to empower people to understand how their food choices influence their health, the health of the families and the health of their environment. In 2007 when I self-published CLEAN FOOD, people thought I was telling them that their food was dirty. In three years, CLEAN has become synonymous with minimally processed for maximum nutrition and has fueled a nationwide movement of which I am honored and blessed to be at the forefront.

—If I’m not mistaken you coach people in nutrition, so do you ever meet resistance with clients?

I’ve found that there are primarily two types of clients – those looking for answers, and those looking to engage in a process. The first group may pick up a few pointers that help them improve their health marginally, but success requires openness to new ideas and willingness to invest in change. Those that come ready to engage in a process are much more likely to make lasting changes and to succeed.

Finding the combination of foods and practices that are going to support one’s good health is going to be different for each person. I work with people where they’re at so that the changes are realistic, so that they can make slow and successful changes. We tend to focus more on adding things in, and not deprivation. But by and large, the person who hasn’t slept well in years but refuses to give up his 8 cups of coffee a day isn’t going to get the results he’s looking for simply by adding more kale. If only it worked that way!

And now some lighter questions:
—Who is your biggest inspiration in the food world?

My mother has always been my biggest fan and my greatest teacher. In many ways, we’ve shared the journey of learning about health and nutrition together. Every day the good health and vibrancy of my parents serves to remind me how much a healthy diet and holistic approach to living can allow you to enjoy all that life has to offer.

—What celebrity would you like to dine with (or make one of your recipes for)?  And why?

There’s nothing better than sharing a meal and your perspective with someone and watching as they instantly get it! Whether it’s a friend, a neighbor, a celebrity…it’s the same reward with each person. That said, I’ve sent enough books to Oprah that she could probably wallpaper every wall in every home with CLEAN FOOD & CLEAN START! I also really appreciate Ellen & Portia who appear to live in a way that’s very true to their hearts. I’m a big fan of both Dave Matthews and Michael Franti, even Julia Roberts. Beggars can’t be choosers. If you can arrange any of these, you’ll be invited to the table too!!!

—What is your favorite meal: breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or dessert)?

I eat the same things at all meals, so there’s not really one that’s better than the other. I love heart-warming soups in the winter, juicy peaches, heirloom tomatoes and fresh herbs in the summer and greens like kale and collards year round. And, I find that the more color I eat earlier in the day, the better I’m fueled throughout the day. Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper, right?

—What’s your best go-to entree that you wow non-vegan company with?

There are so many options that are a lot more exciting, but I depend on my Tofu Kale Lasagna more than any other recipe! It’s hearty enough to fill big appetites, loved by all, and at this point I can practically make it in my sleep! Plus, I score extra points with my girls if there are leftovers to send as lunch to school the next day!

—What’s your favorite grain?

QUINOA. Definitely! When my youngest was a nursing infant and had thrush, I went followed a Candida diet for over a year. At the time, I hated quinoa, but it was one of the few things I could eat. Now it’s my favorite. Go figure.

[mine too!]

—If you had to choose 3 foods to eat for the rest of your life what would they be?

Kale

Quinoa

Pizza (is that cheating?)

[I’m ok with it!]

Thanks SO much to Terry for this interview, and for allowing me to share her recipes with readers.

I have mentioned this in the past, but when Kyle and I moved across the country to start our lives up in California again, we had to put all our stuff in storage for a few months.  Trying to determine what clothes to keep with me as we moved from a cold and dreary New York to the sunny West Coast was nearly impossible.  And asking me to fit it all into two suitcases was like torture.  However, there was never any doubt in my mind that Clean Food was among the necessities.  I brought it to Cabo San Lucas, as well as up and down the I-5 on our travels to Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, and back to the Bay Area.  Clearly it has a special place in my heart 🙂

So, to win your own copy of Terry Walter’s latest Clean Start, simply choose one of the questions above that I asked Terry and share your own answer with me in the comment section.

It can be anything from the lighter questions like “what celebrity would you like to dine with” or “favorite grain” to more personal questions about your own inspiration in the kitchen.

Tweeting about the giveaway (mentioning @elisehippie) will give you an extra entry (just make sure you comment separately below telling me you did so).

I’ll randomly choose a winner and announce it on Monday, Feb 28th, 2011.

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Pa-pa-pa-pizza face

I probably like pizza just as much as the next person, however, it’s not a food I eat very option given the primary ingredient (cheese) doesn’t have a place in my diet. 

But that’s no excuse (especially when cheese-less versions are just as delish and easy to make at home). 

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While attempting to fit all the latest Costco buys in the fridge/freezer, I came across this delish Udi’s pizza crust.  Sneaky bugger was hiding way in the back!

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In case you missed my previous review of this product, I loved it.

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Udi’s pizza crusts are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, and nut free – but definitely not flavor free.

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I was feeling adventurous, so I decided to make a more complex pizza (in my world, that means more than 1 step).

Step one: bake breaded eggplant slices (I did this last week and never posted the recipe because I suck)

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It was my “n” meal – and although nutritional yeast isn’t a new ingredient for me, it’s still a new recipe. 

In any event, here’s the method.

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I thinly sliced the eggplant, sprinkled the pieces with salt, and let them sit for ~20 minutes to sweat.  Thanks to the people who commented on my last eggplant post about this method – it definitely helped soften up the texture and allowed for more flavor without more oil. 

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After they were done sweating, I lightly coated them in EVOO.  [FYI, I did this by dipped my fingers in a bowl of oil and massaging the slices individually]

Next I breaded them in a 50/50 mix of cornmeal and nooch.

For those who don’t know, nutritional yeast (aka nooch), is a deactivated yeast.  It’s commercially available in most health foods stores in a flaky powdered form.  It’s a popular condiment or ingredient for many vegans/vegetarians because of it’s bangin’ nutrient profile.  First off, it’s a complete protein; but even more importantly, it’s a source of B-complex vitamins.  The presence of B12 is especially noteworthy because this necessary vitamin is rare in plant-based foods.  Nooch is also naturally low in fat and sodium, so it’s heart healthy all around!

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Then I placed them on a sprayed baking sheet.

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And cooked them in the oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

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Voila!

Baked breaded eggplant is perfect for making layers in a lasagna.  Along with spinach and noodles, you can use “cashew cheese” or hummus in between, and – bam! – instant Italian heaven.

Sadly, I have no photos from the first use.  But I decided the extras were perfect for pizza toppings!

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Step two: sauce your pizza crust (I don’t go too heavy on this step…not a big sauce person)

Step three: sauté mushrooms (I used Bragg’s liquid aminos)

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Step four: while the ‘shrooms are shriveling up, chop and prep any additional toppings (bell peppers perhaps?)

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Step five: add hummus (this is practically a life step style for me)

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Step six: add more hummus (not a joke…)

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Step seven: go topping crazy (fun part!!)

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Can’t read my, can’t read my…no you can’t read my pizza face.

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Pa-pa-pa-pizza face 🙂

Step eight: cook in oven at 225 for 15 minutes

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Step nine: wait for it to cool (hardest step of all!)

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Step ten: dig the eff in

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I cut the pizza into 4 pieces (quarters), and made a side salad with approximately 700 carrots and 55 servings of hummus (those may be exaggerations but they aren’t too far off from the truth).

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I made a (feeble) attempt to practice moderation with this, and only plated two slices (half the pizza) as my first serving…but we all know that I went back for the rest of it after polishing off the first half.  I cannot tell you how awesome hummus is on pizza, you’ll just have to take my word for it and try it yourself. 

I was delightfully stuffed afterwards.  If you saw my pa-pa-pa-pizza face, you’d know it’s true love.

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