Essential Components of a Simply Perfect Breakfast

For my final breakfast-related post this MoFo, I want to give you sort of a best-of overview of what, in my view, makes a breakfast Simply Perfect.

1) It’s portable.
This is a must for me. I typically do not like to eat breakfast when I first wake up (unless it’s Avocado Toast!), or even in the first hour or two after waking, so I usually prepare it at home and bring it with me to work.
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2) It’s quick and ridiculously simple to prepare.
See above.  I do not have time in between waking up and getting out the door for work to do anything more than maybe wash some fruit and toast some bread.  It’s gotta be quick.

3) It’s light, filling, and reasonably healthy.
This is pretty self-explanatory. I’d much rather start my day with some naturally sweet fruit and whole wheat toast with PB than with an “energy” bar that doesn’t taste all that great, is loaded with added and artificial sweeteners, and will leave me hungry an hour later.
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4) There’s some versatility to the ingredients.
My breakfast staples (i.e., things I always always always have in my house) are commonly available items that are extremely versatile. These include: bananas, peanut butter, jelly/jam/preserves, rolled oats, some other kind of fresh fruit (right now I have clementines, apples, watermelon, and red grapes), a variety of frozen fruit (right now I’ve got bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and watermelon), and some kind of bread product (I *always* have whole wheat bread and whole wheat English muffins, and sometimes I mix in lavash or gluten-free options like corn tortillas or GF frozen waffles).

All of these things can be used in multiple ways to avoid too much repetition. Not to keep pushing the PB&J&B, but look at how many uses I have for it: burrito, quesadilla, and roll-up, not to mention a good old fashioned sandwich between two pieces of bread (duh) or simply stirred into cooked oatmeal. These are all similar but *just* different enough that I don’t get bored.
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5) It’s cost-effective.
Let’s face it, between grocery shopping, work lunches, and getting takeout or going out to dinner (even if only occasionally), most of us spend A LOT of money on food each week. I know some people love a big, hearty breakfast and will go out to eat or get takeout at breakfast time, but I’m not one of them.   To me, breakfast should be the cheapest, simplest meal of the day.

The breakfast ideas I’ve shared with you this week are all things that can be made mostly with inexpensive pantry staples. Aside from avocados (which I only buy when they’re on sale for $1 or less*) and non-dairy yogurt (which I only buy when it’s $3.99 or less* for the large container), everything else (bananas and other fruit [both fresh and frozen], nut butter, bread) is something I always have and only need to replenish once every 7-14 days for our household of 2. This proves to be very cost-effective over time.
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So there you have it: a winning formula for a Simply Perfect breakfast!

I hope you all enjoy your weekend! I’ll see you Monday to kick off a week of Simply Perfect snacks!

*Keep in mind when I refer to food prices that I live in the greater Boston area, where the cost of living is quite high.

Simply Perfect Breakfasts: Don’t Forget the Fruit!


Is there anything that embodies the concept of “Simply Perfect” better than sweet, luscious fruit?
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As vegans, surely we are well-aware of its virtues!

Tasty, portable, and healthy (not to mention pretty!), fruit is an ideal breakfast or snack even when you’re crazy busy. While certain types (like berries or any pre-cut fruit) are more perishable and require access to refrigeration, so many others are fine at room temperature, making it possible to keep them in your purse or on your desk at all times for easy access (think apples, bananas, grapes, clementines, or oranges).
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P.S. – How cute are these?

I try to incorporate fruit into my breakfast every day, whether in its plain, whole form:
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Or mixed up with something else, such as PB&J, oatmeal, or non-dairy yogurt (coconut is my favorite).
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Look how portable!
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This was me packed up for a day at work, with two containers of breakfast (one with fresh pineapple and the other with strawberries and yogurt), as well as one big old container of salad for lunch.

And of course there is the omnipresent smoothie:
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All you need is a blender and a trusty to-go cup, and you’re all set with this one. Smoothies are very forgiving and so you can really make one from whatever concoction of fruity fun is frolicking in your fridge or freezer.

In any form, fruit makes a super-simple breakfast and will set a good, healthy tone for your day. So don’t overlook it when searching for ways to save time in your morning!

Simply Perfect Breakfast: Avocado Toast


Being pregnant has definitely affected my eating habits. For example, I’m not really one to eat breakfast first thing in the morning. I normally start with a some fruit or a smoothie around 10 a.m., well after I’ve arrived at work, and then follow it with more fruit or half a PB&J&B around 11:30.

Recently, however, I’ve been forced to get some food down first thing in the morning, as that’s when I take my prenatal vitamin, and I get really nauseated if I have it on an empty stomach.

Enter avocado toast, my new favorite breakfast, and also anytime snack.
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I’m never NOT in the mood for this.

All you need to create this plate of perfection is a ripe avocado and a piece or two of whole wheat toast.
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I use one quarter of an avocado on each slice of toast; I find this to be a good ratio of fruit to bread, plus it’s economical because avocados are expensive, and this way you get four servings of toast out of each one.

Just scoop it out, spread it on, and season as desired. Cumin tastes great on this, but the combo I can’t get enough of is salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of Vesta:
MMM creamy, spicy heaven!

If you’ve never tried avocado toast, now is the time. Bonus points if your toast has team spirit:
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Simply Perfect: Banana Breakfast Rollup


Many of my laziest breakfasts are concocted from the very simple combination of peanut butter* + jam/jelly/preserves + banana, a.k.a. PB&J&B.

If you’ve read my blog for any period of time, you’ve probably noticed this combination crop up in various ways, including the Banana Breakfast “Burrito” and the Breakfast “Quesadilla” (neither of which bear even the slightest resemblance to Mexican food).  So at first glance, maybe it seems like kind of a cop out that I’m giving you yet another PB&J&B for my first real post of Vegan MoFo 2014.

But hear me out! Part of my Simply Perfect theme is going to be sharing with you the lazy wisdom I’ve garnered through months and years of striving to find the quickest and most portable edibles (since I eat the majority of my meals and snacks at or on the way to work) that still taste good and are actually good for you.

That said, I believe that the Banana Breakfast Rollup is the pinnacle of PB&J&B greatness. You have all of the taste but none of the messiness that can accompany other forms. For example, the “Burrito” is great and packs up well, but when you try to bite into it you’ve gotta be real careful that the PB-smeared banana doesn’t just go shooting out the other end!

By contrast, look at this neat little package! photo SPBreakfast010_zps1c32dc4a.jpg

To assemble: Simply spread out a lavash or other large wrap on a cutting board, then spread 1/3 of it with peanut butter, 1/3 with jelly, and the remaining 1/3 with half of a banana, mashed (you can go ahead and just mash it right onto the lavash).
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Then, starting from one end, just roll it up! That’s it!

For extra nutrition and some crunch, try sprinkling hemp seeds over it before rolling.

This process takes all of 2 minutes and the result is delicious, nutritious, and definitely less messy than other PB&J&B options, which means you can easily eat it in on the run.


*Obviously any other nut or seed butter can be swapped in where allergies or personal preferences are involved.

Kicking Off Vegan MoFo 2014!

September is here, and you know what that means…it’s time for Vegan MoFo!!!
850X315_g2_fbThis month, bloggers from all over the world will flood the interwebz with all manner of delicious vegan goodness.  The goal is to blog every day, or as close to every day as possible (with a minimum of 20 posts), about all things yummy and vegan.

Even though I had an absolute BLAST participating in Vegan MoFo last year, I wasn’t sure if I should sign up again this year, as I questioned my ability to keep up with the requisite amount of posting, given the total laziness and lack of inspiration that has plagued me over the past few months.

But then I thought, “Like, use it!”

So my theme this year is going to be Simply Perfect–vegan foods that are quick, easy, require minimal ingredients, and are also absolutely freakin’ delicious.

I’ve considered sub-categorizing them into weekly themes like Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, and Sides, but that sounds a lot like work and so I’m not promising that there will be any actual organization to this theme.

Regardless, I hope you enjoy it and will check back throughout the month.  Happy MoFo!!

Vegan MoFo “Other” Week – Recipe Roundup


I can’t believe the month is already drawing to a close.  At some point I’ll stop waxing poetic about how incredibly glad I am that I chose to participate, but that time has not yet arrived.  I have discovered so many new blogs that are now permanently in my Feedly, which means I can continue to follow them going forward.  Plus, I have added at least 100 new recipes to my Gmail folder for future cooking inspiration and guidance.  It’s just friggin awesome!

Anyway, this will be my last recipe roundup for Vegan MoFo 2013.  Blue, purple, white, brown, and black foods.  Maybe a weird spectrum, but definitely great.

Today’s recipes come from other participating MoFo bloggers and happen to fit in with my color theme.  🙂 [Note: all of the images belong to the individual bloggers unless otherwise noted.  They are works of art and I’m posting them to encourage YOU to click through and check out the recipes!]

Easy Plum Applesauce in the Slow Cooker by Fo Reals Life (one of my new absolute fave blogs!) (click for recipe)

Appleberry Pie with Olive Oil Crust from the ever-amazing Post Punk Kitchen (click for recipe)
Vanilla Fig Cake by Vegan Yack Attack (click for recipe).  I’m calling the figs purple.  Sorry I’m not sorry.
Coconut Crusted Tofu from Fried Dandelions (click for recipe)
Cauliflower Steaks with Mushroom Gravy by Vegan Richa (click for recipe).
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The photos are from when I made this recipe.  I adored this recipe! My new favorite way to eat cauliflower.
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Vegan Bacon Lentil Crunchies, also by Fo Reals Life (click for recipe). Like seriously…what a brilliant idea.


Homemade Vegan Heath Bars by Fork ‘n’ Beans (click for recipe).  Cara’s candy-themed posts this month blew me away!

Thyme and Apple Beany Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy, Cabbage and Peas from Veg Hot Pot (click for recipe). I can’t wait to make this one!

Smoky Black Beans Parsley Chimichurri Spinach Wraps also by Vegan Richa (click for recipe)

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Feel free to share any new favorite blogs or particular recipes from MoFo 2013 in the comments!

Vegan MoFo “Other” Week – Lunch Break


I was recently introduced to the Greek dish Skordalia, a white puree made of garlic and potatoes.  It is served cold and goes perfectly with warm pita bread.


My lunch of this delicious dip comes from Kouzina Estiatorio in Dedham, Massachusetts.  Most people visiting this blog have probably never been to (or probably even heard of) Dedham, but if you’ve ever driven north on I-95 on your way to Boston then you’ve at least driven through!  There is a courthouse in the town that I work out of occasionally, and Kouzina Estiatorio is right down the street, so I always make a point to stop in.

I don’t know about you, but I love patronizing a small restaurant where the employees/owners actually seem to give a damn about their business and their customers.  The people who work at Kouzina are always smiling and seem to truly love what they do.   If you ever do find yourself in Dedham, I highly recommend it. 🙂

Enjoy this last September weekend!

Black Bean Taco Salad with Cheesy Poblano Pepper Dressing


I love black beans.  A lot.  One of my favorite ways to cook them is what I call “taco style.”  And here’s a recipe!  (Bonus: for my “other” colors week, this recipe includes black beans, brown rice, and lovely purple-hued red onions!)

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Crunchy fresh veggies, creamy avocado, spicy beans, and a warm cheesy topping–so delicious and pretty healthy too!  I had trouble deciding if the yellow stuff should be called a sauce or a dressing.  I wanted to say “dressing” because it was going on a salad, but in my head I was going for something kind of like nacho cheese sauce.  Whatever it is, it works!

Black Bean Taco Salad with Cheesy Poblano Pepper Dressing
Vegan and gluten-free as written (just check the prepared ingredients carefully)
(This recipe has a hearty omnivore seal of approval from H.)

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes

For the beans:
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. olive oil
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
scant 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
(optional) 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
(or skip the seasonings and add 1/2 packet of taco seasoning mix)
(OR add whatever seasonings you like!)

For the Dressing/Sauce (makes 1 cup):
1 small poblano pepper, cut in half, seeds and membranes removed
1 cup unsweetened plain soy milk
1 tbsp. tahini
1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. yellow mustard, like Heinz (use less if you don’t love mustard because the flavor comes through kinda strong)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. turmeric (mainly for color, but I like the flavor too)
1/2 tsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1 tsp. sriracha (or more!)
(optional) 1 1/2 tbsp. nutritional yeast (if you don’t like nooch then leave it out)

For Serving:
Head of romaine, washed and chopped
(optional) Red onion slices
(optional) Avocado slices
(optional) Cooked brown rice
(optional) Tortilla chips

To Make:
The Pepper: Preheat the oven to 425.  Brush both sides of each poblano half lightly with olive oil and place on a baking sheet.  Roast for 10 minutes, until skin looks blistery (P.S. – it smells SO GOOD when it’s roasting!).  Remove from oven, allow to cool, then peel off the skin and chop the peppers very finely.

The Beans: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm olive oil then saute garlic for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant and softened.  Add black beans, stir a few times, then add tomatoes.  Bring mixture to a gentle simmer, then lower the heat, stir in the spices, cover, and let it marinate for about 15 minutes.  Taste for seasoning, then turn off heat, remove cover, and let it sit some more to cool down a bit.

The Dressing/Sauce: Combine all ingredients except sriracha in another medium sauce pan over medium-low heat.  Heat gently until it starts to thicken and a few bubbles appear, stirring fairly frequently and watching it carefully so that it doesn’t burn.  Once the mixture begins to bubble, remove from heat and cover.  Let it sit for 5 minutes, then uncover and stir in the sriracha.  Allow it to cool slightly.

To Assemble:
Not that you need instructions on this, but here’s how I did mine:

1) Lettuce, topped with red onion slices and avocado (this avocado was in the top 5 best I’ve ever eaten, btw):
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2) Brown rice, topped with beans:
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NOTE: my rice was pre-cooked and cold from sitting in the fridge, so here I used it sort of as a buffer to keep the warm beans from ruining my raw veggies

3) Finally, drizzled with the dressing/sauce:
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I was thrilled with how this salad turned out.  As I mentioned in the ingredients list, the sauce on its own has a strong mustard flavor, and the flavor of the roasted poblanos is fairly subtle by contrast.  But once you mix it all up into your salad it just tastes GOOD.

H was also super-happy with his dinner and I’m so glad that his little omnivore taste buds have embraced vegan cheesy sauces to such a degree, because it’s opening up a lot more options for me in terms of making dinners we can both enjoy without me having to make omni adjustments.   His palate has definitely adapted to the taste of nooch too, because not only did he gobble this meal, but he loved the carrot and squash risotto I made on Saturday and has been reheating it for lunch every day at work since.

By the way, I’m planning on pouring the leftover sauce over a tofu scramble.  Yup.

What do you think–is it a dressing or a sauce?

Also, if you have a great vegan cheese sauce recipe, please share it in the comments!

Vegan MoFo – Gettin’ Down with Brown


The point of this post is definitely not to be like “Look What I Ate!”  Trust me, I am aware that this is not 2007.  But once in a while I get excited about something I’ve made out of whatever stuff I have lying around.

Plus I’m really excited about the little bowl I made today because it fits in with my MoFo theme this week in that it’s full of yummy and under-appreciated brown foods!

Allow me to introduce you to the Brown Bowl (with accents of green of course!):

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You’ve got your quinoa, your steamed kale, tempeh sausage crumbles, and brown rice all in one! (Sorry the image is a little off-center…Wordpress and I are currently having a disagreement over photo-editing.  And of course the rice looks white…sigh.)

Anyway, the bowl.  It’s a super-yummy and healthy option for lunch or dinner!  I suppose it doesn’t technically need a sauce but I like to have one.  Here, I used straight-up sriracha but a tahini sauce would be amazing as well (specifically I’m thinking a sriracha-tahini sauce.  Yeah, I’m obsessed.)

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(And in this one everything is still off-center and looks yellow/orange.  Grr.)

I used the recipe for Tempeh Sausage Crumbles from Vegan with a Vengeance (click for recipe).  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m in the early stages of my tempeh appreciation.  I’m loving this recipe as a cheap and versatile way to incorporate this protein- and iron-rich food into my diet.  Seriously, a single serving of tempeh (1 cup) has 31 grams of protein.  [Source:]  Compare to a serving of steak (3 oz., and who actually eats that little?) which has 23 grams of protein but is also served with an unattractive side of cholesterol [source].

My first go at the tempeh crumbles recipe made enough to feed me for something like 5 meals.  Last week I packed it up with mashed Yukon Gold potatoes (left over from this recipe) and steamed kale.

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I didn’t eat it in little perfect sections obviously.  Here it is, all mixed up like 311:

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Tempeh sausage crumbles…not just for brunch anymore!

Vegan MoFo – Somewhere in the Rainbow


The final week of Vegan MoFo is here!  I have covered foods of the red, orange, and yellow color persuasions, and I will spend this final week working with foods that cover the rest of the spectrum–blue, purple, black, brown, and white.

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So yeah, I’m basically lumping a ton of stuff into one but that’s because there’s only a few days left and I don’t know if a) I could find enough to write about blue foods to fill those days, and b) I don’t want to leave out things like black, brown, and white because I feel like that would be too easy to do.  I love all colors the same and there are some wonderful foods in the neutral tones!

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My pancake batter was smiling at me!

It’s actually going to be a pretty busy week for me so I might change up the order that I’ve been following a little bit, i.e. do a recipe roundup early in the week and show you an actual original recipe later.

For today I’m giving you risotto.  Yes, arborio rice is white and pretty.  I was feeling fall-y over the weekend and I had a ton of time on my hands while H was working, so I decided to make something that requires a little extra effort than I’d be prepared to exert on a typical weeknight.

I veganized and slightly adapted this recipe for Carrot and Winter Squash Risotto from The Produce Bible by Leanne Kitchen (I know! I wish my last name was Kitchen).

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1/3 cup Earth Balance or other vegan butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 3/4 cup diced winter squash (I used butternut)
2 carrots, diced
8 cups vegetable stock
2 cups arborio rice
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 cup vegan parmesan cheese (I used Go Veggie!)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
(optional) fresh parsley for garnish

Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan.  Add the onion and saute for 1-2 minutes or until soft.

Add the diced winter squash and carrot and cook for 10 minutes or until tender. Mash slightly with a potato masher.  In a separate stockpot, heat the stock over medium heat and keep the stock at simmering point.

Add the rice to the vegetables and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until the grains are translucent. Ladle in 1/2 cup of hot stock and stir well. Reduce the heat and add the stock little by little, stirring constantly for 20-30 minutes, until the rice is tender and creamy.  You may use not all the stock or need to add some water.

Remove from the heat, add the remaining butter, parmesan cheese, nooch, and spices. Season with freshly ground black pepper and stir thoroughly. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.  Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

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Hope your week is off to a great start!