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Dinner Meals

How to Build a Buddha Bowl

February 18, 2016

how to make a buddha bowlHave you ever heard of a buddha bowl? I know it sounds super hippie dippy (what else did you expect from me though, really?). Well, I’ve been craving and downing them like crazy recently because they are so simple, yet so insanely delicious.

They also go wonderfully with my vegan for February shenanigans.

Buddha bowls, sometimes referred to as glory or hippie bowls, are hearty, filling dishes made of various greens, raw or roasted veggies, beans and a healthy grain like quinoa or brown rice. Sometimes they also include toppings like nuts, seeds and dressings for added texture and flavor.*

How much more simple and cheap could that be?

I say cheap because I am on a quest to use up all my grains and frozen veggies in both an effort to eat clean and be budget friendly. Woohoo!

how to make a buddha bowlI adore how this bowl turned out. Maybe because it was my first try and I was thinking “FOR SURE going to screw this up,” but I didn’t!

It was actually inspired by a trip to Wilde the past weekend, where I had a buddha bowl with marinated tofu and it was to die.

Basically if you’re short on time + money and still want to eat well, buddha bowls should be your new jam. Seriously, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!

How to Make a Buddha Bowl
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Delicious and healthy meal in minutes.
Cuisine: Dinner
Serves: 4 bowls
  • Quinoa
  • Shelled edamame (mine came in a microwavable pack)
  • Spinach (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 red pepper
  • Vegetable broth
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Sriracha or other sauce
  1. Chop most of the red pepper up, setting a few pieces aside to garnish the bowl.
  2. Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into a pan.
  3. Add red pepper and a few cloves of minced garlic until fragrant.
  4. Add one cup of quinoa and 2 cups of vegetable broth. Stir.
  5. Cook quinoa per usual.
  6. While quinoa cooks, defrost or chop up spinach. Add to a pan with a bit of olive oil and some more garlic to taste. Sauté.
  7. (If necessary) Prepare or microwave edamame.
  8. Once quinoa is complete, top with sautéed spinach, edamame and remaining red pepper pieces.
  9. Drizzle Sriracha or other sauce on top and enjoy!

how to make a buddha bowl


Life Meals Musings

Why I’m Going Vegan This February

February 10, 2016

delicious vegan bars

Did you know that I was vegan for a time? Probably not because I’m essentially a cheese addict (though, #funfact, basically everyone who eats cheese becomes a cheese addict). So, when my friend Dan said he was considering going vegan for the month of February, there was no hesitation. I was on board.


Well, honestly, I’ve tried most of the big diets: Paleo, gluten-free, juicing, plant-based, vegan, vegetarian and no restriction (All American diet), and I felt the best when I was vegan (and fairly gluten-free as well, if we’re being honest).

The reason I went back to eating the Western diet (minus milk, which I gave up during my vegan phase and continue to stay away from) was because it was a bit difficult to restrict my diet when I moved back to the Midwest. Which is a serious bummer and something I hope changes soon. I want more acai bowls!

That said, I never pass up a chance to go vegan for a time.

IMO it’s best to experiment with what works best for your body. Eating, whether we like it or not, is not a one size fits all (unless you’re talking about replacing junk foods with whole foods, in which case yes, no matter what your body type, that will benefit you). I know that I operate best with limited amounts of meat (Paleo was WAY too much meat for me and made me feel really heavy and sluggish) and just a bit of dairy (mainly cheese because I can’t give that up for life). However, I haven’t really been abiding by those rules recently, choosing instead to stuff my face with crap.

I’ll be real about it. I slid off the “eating healthy” slide. Fast.

But now, I’m trying to get back on. And that starts with what I put in my mouth (get your heads out of the gutter!), which is why I joined Dan.

If you want to join, it’s never too late. Okay, well it might be a week or so late, but no one’s going to tell on you, I promise. And, guess what? It’s a short month. BONUS.

Follow my vegan Pinterest board if you’re interested in trying the lifestyle and observing how it affects your health. Maybe just try it for a week. It’s not as restrictive as you may think, it just requires a bit more forethought.

For example, the no bake, damn good brownies from Minimalist Baker that I made the other night. #bombdotcom

Just give veganism a chance, see what parts work with your body’s needs and let me know what you think!


Breakfast Meals

decadent egg sandwich

November 5, 2015

decadent bagel sandwichSo this sandwich became my OBSESSION for the week I owned a sleeve of pretzel bagels. I picked up the idea from Hanna’s Bretzel (like most of my good sandwich decisions) and it is honestly the best, most decadent breakfast sandwich I have ever had. And what’s better? It’s easy to make (like most things I think up).

I don’t even think it’s worthy of a recipe card at the bottom of this post. Would you be mad? Good. Because this is basically all you need:

  • 2 fried eggs (I fry mine in ghee because, um, duh)
  • Few slices of Prosciutto
  • Arugula
  • Pretzel bagel (got mine from Trader Joes and believe it or not they’re not less calories than a pretzel bun)
  • Creamy goat cheese (got a log from Trader Joes, of course)

First, fry your two eggs in ghee. While, the eggs are frying, toast your bagel. Next, spread the goat cheese on either side of the bagel. On one half, put arugula and on the other half, place some prosciutto. Finally, place your two eggs on top of one half and then put the other half on top.


decadent breakfast sandwich (super easy to make)Now isn’t that a beautiful sandwich? How can you have a bad day when you make this sort of sandwich for breakfast?

Trick question! You can’t.

decadent bagel sandwich


Breakfast Meals

happy veterans day + one delicious frittata recipe

November 11, 2014

american flag fritatta on midwestlovefest

H A P P Y  V E T E R A N ‘ S  DAY

For all those who give up everything to fight for our country. Our future kids. Our freedoms. For those who give their lives to protect ours. For those who live with the fights they fight, for all of us. Thank you.


I believe thanking our nation’s finest should be more than just one day, and should go deeper than a handshake. I mean, we will never understand everything they give up. Ever. But I think it’s important we take a moment to put ourselves in the shoes of the people who fight for us every day. Thank them in a way that has meaning.

american flag fritatta on midwestlovefestIf you’re planning to celebrate and honor loved ones (or maybe even your neighbor or a friend’s friend),  I wanted to share this American Flag Frittata recipe, so you can share it with others too!

First, it’s delicious. Second, what is it with people and fritattas? Whenever I mentioned I was making one (the Crate & Barrel guy, a co-worker) they chuckled at me. Is it the name? Am I missing some inside joke that the world knows and I don’t? I’m not sure.

american flag fritatta on midwestlovefestamerican flag fritatta on midwestlovefestAnyway, fritatatas can be made basically any way you want. I followed this as a rough guideline, but (somewhat ironically) made my own, with with an Italian twist. ONLY because I was missing Italian breakfasts and my honeymoon.

american flag fritatta on midwestlovefestLike I said, you can make yours however you want. Though I will say, this particular recipe is DELISH. Also, if you have trouble cleaning your cast iron pan (apparently, you’re not supposed to soak it or use soap), I recommend reading this article.

This recipe is also great if you’re making it for just a few people, since the leftovers make for really easy breakfasts.

Basically, this fritatta is the shit. Just sayin’.

Hope you enjoy with loved ones today.american flag fritatta on midwestlovefest

American Flag Fritatta
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Italian-inspired American Flag fritatta.
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 6-8 pieces
  • olive oil
  • 8 eggs
  • 5-6 pieces of bacon
  • 1 blue potato
  • ¼ garlic powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ sea salt
  • ½ package of prosciutto (I used La Quercia, 3 oz)
  • ½ mozzarella log
  1. Grease cast iron pan with olive oil.
  2. Place bacon in pan and fry, until desired crispiness.
  3. Take bacon out and set aside.
  4. Whisk eggs together.
  5. Add garlic powder, turmeric and sea salt to eggs.
  6. Begin to heat pan.
  7. Shred mozzarella and add to pan.
  8. Shred prosciutto and add to pan.
  9. Pour in eggs, and wait for sides to harden.
  10. Wash and slice potatoes, and add to corner.
  11. Place bacon lengthwise in pan.
  12. Place in oven for 8-10 minutes (it only took me 8 minutes).
  13. Take out and place little shreds of mozzarella on potatoes.
  14. Place back in oven for 30 seconds to help melt mozzarella pieces to potatoes.
  15. Enjoy!

Dinner Meals

healthy chicken pumpkin parm bake

October 22, 2014

pumpkin pasta bakePumpkin, guys. It’s not going anywhere yet. At least not for me.

Of course it’s getting colder here in Chicago, so I suppose it’s only natural that I’m craving warmer things–soups, hot pancakes, pasta! Pasta, pasta, pasta. It’s kind of not the best for you, but dammit it’s good. And we all still need carbs! That’s a good argument right? I mean, everything is fine within reason in my opinion. And you have to listen to your body–there’s a reason it’s craving the things it is!

delicious pumpkin sauce pasta bakeConfession: I wasn’t entirely sure I would love this dish because of my aversion to pumpkin in the past. However, it was delicious. Honestly, I think it’s something I’m going to be making A LOT this season because I loved it. Ryan loved it. And so I think you will too!

It has that creamy, saucy texture with an almost nutty, pumpkin flavor. Plus it’s uber filling (as I’ve mentioned in the past).

delicious pumpkin sauce pasta bake delicious pumpkin sauce pasta bakeI also threw some leftover chicken pieces in there (optional of course) for some added protein. And because, maybe a part of me was convinced it would make the meal healthier.

I made it with about 1 pound of rotini, which was perfect for Ryan and I because it kind of spread the pumpkin flavor out (which helped Ryan eat more of it too). But if you want a more thoroughly coated noodle, I recommend making about 1/2 pound (or half a box) of rotini.  This way you will get a sauce-soaked noodle…if that’s your jam.

Any who, I hope you enjoy this warm delicious dish! And cross your fingers for me that tomorrow’s recipe–which is currently in the works–turns out just as well as this one.

healthy chicken pumpkin parm bake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • ½ lb whole wheat rotini (or 1 pound if you prefer less coated pasta pieces)
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • shake of cinnamon
  • ½ cup of parmesan/romaine shavings
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  1. Cook pasta according to directions.
  2. Mix pumpkin, cinnamon, cheese, almond milk and salt in pot on the stove. Stir on low, till a smooth sauce forms.
  3. Optional step: throw in pieces of chicken (I only used about ⅓ cup).
  4. Combine pasta and pumpkin sauce mixture.
  5. Spray 8 x 8 inch dish with olive oil.
  6. Pour mixture into dish.
  7. Top with ¼ cup almond meal.
  8. Lightly spray with olive oil and top with more cheese shavings, if desired.
  9. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
  10. Divide up and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
  11. Enjoy!


thursday’s motd

March 28, 2014

Well, today was pretty good. No pictures (apparently) so I’ll just break it down old-school style.

Breakfast: 2 fried eggs and 5 strawberries.

Snacks: Skinny Pop popcorn and an apple.

Lunch: Almond butter and banana on Ezekiel bread.

Dinner: (this is where I was bad) Lou Malnati’s thin crust cheese pizza + a few pieces of cheesy garlic bread.

Overall I’m doing pretty well. I was okay with the calorie splurge because come Sunday, when I start working out again, I’m really cracking down. Even more so than now. So I figure best splurge a bit while I can (plus it was my treat to Ryan for treating me while we were in California).

On another note, after doing this for nearly a week…I feel it may be excessive. Is this boring to you? I feel like it might be. I’ll try doing a weekly recap next week (just GENERAL meals and workout routine, rather than a play by play). See how that works out.

P.S. 156 days to go! #lovefest14

Life Meals

wednesday’s MOTD

March 27, 2014

Well…today I didn’t do so hot.

wednesday's meals #midwestlovefest

I started off really good–an acai bowl with granola and a banana. Then a grapefruit for a snack (not pictured) and some oatmeal with beautiful red strawberries that seemingly exploded in the microwave (what is the issue with oatmeal and microwaves!?) for lunch.

However, I was still hungry (what with the oatmeal explosion), so I was easily tempted by my offices’ media team when they emailed me about extra food. 1/3 of a slice of cookie cake, a few pieces of various brownies and 1/2 a vegetable chicken wrap later …and well there ya go. Feeling a bit guilty, but trying not to beat myself up too bad. Finally for dinner, I had a packet of edamame with some soy sauce, an apple with a bit of almond butter for dessert and then somehow got hungry and had a bit of “natural” corn flakes from Whole Foods with soy milk.


What I’ve learned from this is that I need to start packing snacks or nuts for that extra crunch I’m missing, and back-up lunches in case my food explodes. This “incident” aside, I will say I threw away the majority of my cookie cake (progress) and I do plan on continuing with cutting out the majority of processed sugar from my diet. I’m also going to start tracking my calorie intake to play it safe until I get back on Midwest time and can make it to the gym in the morning (probably starting Sunday).

Tally ho!


Educate Meals Relax

24 different types of pasta noodles: your complete guide

March 26, 2014

The other day, my mom was asking me if there were any healthy pasta or noodle options, in place of the standard, Italian noodle we Americans have come to know and over-process. I knew of a few asian noodles, but wasn’t sure of their names or what to pair them with, and had a rough time giving her any direction. Well mom, here ya go! This chart is shows 24 different types of pasta noodles, from the caloric and normal to the healthy and vegetable-based.

All of them are a rough estimate calorie-wise because it depends on which brand you go with, if it’s whole wheat or homemade etc. etc. So just view this as a rough guide to your noodle night.

24 pasta options #midwestlovefest


tuesday’s MOTD (meals of the day)

March 26, 2014

Here are today’s snacks and meals!tuesday's meals #midwestlovefestSince I just got back from California, my fridge was a bit of a shit show–just throwing things together. Had to say goodbye to a few of my favorite produce that went bad while I was away. So today’s meals were a bit of a mess. To be honest, in some cases I was just eating snacks to take up less room. Not sure if that’s the best logic, but it worked for today.tuesday's meals #midwestlovefestI started the day with banana pancakes using a Blogilates’ recipe (egg + banana = easy pancake), followed by a Kind Bar (my favorite!) and green tea at work. Lunch was an Ezekiel tortilla with some Sabra hummus and an apple. For dinner I had that quinoa with goat cheese (ate WAY too much–guess I missed my quinoa) and a rice cracker with peanut butter for dessert.

Not pictured: a few pretzels I devoured with more hummus, 3 dates and some edamame.

Luckily, I ran to Trader Joes on my lunch hour and restocked with some essentials, so hopefully Wednesday’s meals prove to be less boring. Overall, I’m focusing on cutting out a lot of processed sugar and carbs. Then, next week, I’m hoping to start a new workout routine, after my clock “restarts” to the Midwest time zone this week and I give my body a break from the stress and go-go-go.

Goodnight all!


go green the healthy way this St. Patty’s Day

March 17, 2014

health st. patty's day meals #midwestlovefestSt. Patrick’s Day. Basically a party day (or weekend) spent drinking, eating greasy foods and dying rivers green (Chicago). Now, I’m Irish. I love a good party and any reason to embrace a theme. But seriously who needs the calories or hangover? I’d rather pick up a drink or two (gotta still embrace it a bit!) and leave the rest of my meals for honest, organic greens (no dye necessary).

Enter: healthy St. Patty’s Day meals.

First, I started with the day out with a simple, nutrient-packed smoothie for breakfast. Blending a bit of water, one mango, a handful of spinach and a kiwi. The smoothie lasted me till lunch. That mango, I swear.

go green on st patty's daygo green on st patty's dayFor lunch I mixed bestest pesto (an amazing vegan pesto) with spaghetti squash, adding a dash of pine nuts on top for some crunch. But, of course, I get hungry, like, every four seconds so I needed a bag of kale chips (I’ll leave a homemade kale chip recipe to a later post) to hold me over (this brand is my favorite and on sale at Whole Foods–now that’s lucky).

go green on st patty's daygo green on st patty's dayFinally, for dinner: a protein-packed salad made with boiled eggs, garbanzo beans and salt and pepper Almond Accents. Followed by green apple slices dipped in melted semi-sweet chocolate chips, then refrigerated for dessert.

go green on st patty's daygo green on st patty's dayTu-duh! A day of green in a healthy BUT tasty way. I have to imagine my Irish ancestors would be proud.

go green on st patty's daygo green on st patty's day