Avocado, Hummus, and Chimichurri Sandwich [vegan]


Man oh man oh man oh man. This sandwich has revolutionized my life.

It started with a recent discovery. Chimichurri sauce. It’s similar to pesto, but tastes more fresh and herb-y, and I want to put it on everything. 

I’ve made two variations of this sandwich–first with chimichurri marinated zucchini, and again with  chimichurri marinated tofu [pictured]–and both had me cackling with disbelief because there’s no way a sandwich this simple should taste this good.

I recommend fresh ciabatta bread for optimal chewy crispy goodness, but I used frozen ciabatta rolls because they were calling to me from the freezer. Finally, because the flavors of this sandwich are so refined, I recommend finding a perfectly ripe avocado to avoid the unpleasant flavors that unripe and overripe avocados have.


Avocado, Hummus, and Chimichurri Sandwich [vegan]

Makes 1 sandwich.

  • 1 ciabatta roll
  • 2-3 tbs hummus
  • 1/4 a large avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 small zucchini or 3 ounces firm tofu
  • 1 tbs + 1 tsp chimichurri sauce
  • lemon juice
  • salt
  1. If using zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. Lightly salt and set to side for half an hour so that any excess water will be drawn out. Pat dry.
  2. If using tofu, press the tofu, and then cut into 1/4 inch thick slices.
  3. Coat the zucchini or tofu in 1 tbs chimichurri sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or sauteé at medium heat in a nonstick pan for 2-3 minutes per side.
  4. Remove the tofu or zucchini from the pan and coat with the remaining 1 tsp of chimichurri sauce.
  5. (Optional, but makes the sandwich less messy to eat: Slice the ciabatta roll in half, and scoop out about half of the bread inside. I found it was easiest to cut a rectangle in each side of the roll, leaving a 1/4 inch border between the rectangle and the edge of the bread, and shave away the bread from this rectangle. Freeze the innards to use as bread crumbs in other recipes.)
  6. Spread the hummus on the bottom half of the roll, and top with with the tofu or zucchini.
  7. Lay 1/4 of a sliced large avocado on top. Sprinkle the avocado with a pinch of salt and a few drops of lemon juice. I like adding a sprinkle of garlic powder as well.
  8. Close the sandwich and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, or cook panini style on a nonstick pan at medium-low heat until the crust of the sandwich is hot and crisp. If planning to eat later, wrap the sandwich in aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to a day (beyond that, the avocado gets a bit icky). Heat before serving. I brought it to work and warmed it up in a toaster oven. It was perfect!

Curried “Meat” Hand Pies (vegan)


This past summer, I’ve finally created a sustainable approach to cooking for one (hungry) person. I aim for fresh meals and zero waste, and so far it’s working well. As a result I’ve been thinking a lot about my food philosophy and approach to cooking.

On one hand, I’m a huge fan of the minimalist approach to cooking. I love simple high-quality dishes with flavors that are bright and true, rather than cluttered and muddled. Think, Minimalist Baker or Budget Bytes.

At the same time, some of the best foods have page long lists of ingredients that combine to form the perfect symphony of flavors. Think, Lady and Pups or Serious Eats.


I’m still trying to figure out where I should focus my cooking with respect to these two extremes, but I’ve found it’s usually better to start simple.

These curry “meat” pies are my take on Jamaican Hand Pies. I combined a few of the recipes I found online, stripping down the ingredients to my kitchen staples (hence, the minimalism). TVP might not be a kitchen staple of yours (yet), but I recommend buying a bag because it’s cheap, an easy protein addition to sauces and soups, and it has a shelf life of over a year. If you’re still hesitant, feel free to replace it with a generous ¾ cup of crumbled tofu or 8 ounces of ground beef.

Until I get a chance to try authentic Jamaican pies, I can’t say how close they taste to the real things, but they are savory and flavorful, and my friends inhaled them. I’m headed back to college soon, but my next kitchen with have a freezer stocked with these for sure (they’re basically a much improved hot pocket). These and this vegetable lasagna. So good.

Curry “Meat” Hand Pies


  • 1/3 cup tvp “grains”
  • 3 tablespoons butter, margarine, or olive oil
  • 3 oz diced yellow onion
  • 4 oz sweet potatoes, diced in small pieces
  • 2 oz carrots, diced in small pieces
  • 4 oz cabbage, finely chopped
  • 2 oz frozen or fresh peas
  • 3 tsp beef flavored bouillon (3 cubes in my case)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce (or ¼ cup water and 2 tbs tomato paste)
  • 2 sheets puff pastry (1 box)
  • optional: 2 tbs crushed walnuts, salt or soy sauce to taste

Preparation process:

Combine in a bowl:

  • 1/3 cup tvp pellets
  • ½ cup boiling water

Stir, and let sit for 20 minutes so that the tvp can rehydrate (you can proceed while waiting).

In a large saucepan, cook at medium-low heat:

  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter or olive oil
  • 3 oz diced yellow onion

Continue cooking the onion until it is soft and light golden brown. Then, add:

  • 4 oz sweet potatoes, diced in small pieces
  • 2 oz carrots, diced in small pieces
  • 4 oz cabbage, finely chopped

Once the vegetables are beginning to soften, add the the pan:

  • the rehydrated tvp
  • 3 tsp beef flavored bouillon (3 SMALL–much smaller than the boillon cubes i’ve used in the past–cubes in my case)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce (or ¼ cup water and 2 tbs tomato paste)
  • optional: 2 tbs crushed walnuts

Continue cooking for 10 minutes, adding a few tablespoons water if the filling mixture looks dry.

Lastly, fold in:

  • 2 oz frozen or fresh peas

Taste, and add a pinch of salt or drizzle of soy sauce if desired (I added ½ tsp soy sauce). Transfer the “meat” pie filling to a bowl and refrigerate until cold.

While the filling is chilling, place a box of frozen puff pastry out to defrost for 45 minutes and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the two puff pastry sheets (each box of puff pastry should come with 2 sheets) into four pieces each. Put away 2 pieces for later use. I went this route and made peanut butter banana pastries. So good.

Roll out the remaining 6 pieces of puff pastry into thin squares. Place 1/6 of the filling onto one side of each square (each side is a triangle), leaving a ¼ inch border between the edge of the puff pastry and the filling.

Fold the puff pastry over the filling, creating a triangle shape.Crimp the edges with a fork, making sure to not leave any gaps where the filling might fall out.

Now, either bake at 400 degrees until golden brown (~15-25 minutes) OR put the “meat” pies into the freezer. Frozen pies can be baked straight from the freezer at 400 degrees for about 25-35 minutes. The pies are down when they are golden brown and flaky, and the filling is steamin’ hot.


Melt-in-your-mouth Sweet Potato Brownies (gf. vegan. refined sugar-free) 


7/28/16 edit: I wasn’t kidding when I said I’d make this recipe again. Go read about my sweet potato brownie adventures. It might (will definitely) make you question my sanity, but you can at least have confidence that this recipe is tried and tested.

If you prefer cakey or brownies with a lot of chew, these are not for you. They are so soft, fudgy, and just melt-in-your-mouth, even straight out of the fridge. If you love chocolate and want a damn good brownie that is healthy enough to eat for breakfast, these brownies are your calling.

Today I texted my friend “sweet potato oatmeal cookies, sweet potato brownies, or sweet potato crumble cake?”. Without missing a beat, she replied “sweet potato brownies”. Two hours later, I can confidently say she made the right choice.

When it comes to brownies, I am a firm believer that brownies should be fudgy, soft, and very chocolatey. Little is more disappointing than a dry or cakey brownie. These brownies are equally delicious warm from the oven (soft and melty) and straight out of the fridge (rich and fudgy).

Maple syrup provides caramel undertones that pair perfectly with the chocolate. The sweet potato adds natural sweetness, though its earthy flavor is completely masked by the chocolate.

I was wary while baking these brownies because over the summer I tried to make avocado brownies that were unbearably avocado-y (I keep seeing avocado chocolate cake recipes and even though the pictures look gorgeous, I am so damn skeptical), but I am happy to say that this is definitely a recipe that I will make again.



Sweet Potato Brownies (vegan. gluten-free. refined sugar free)


  • 6 oz raw sweet potato, sliced in 1/2 inch thick slices*
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbs vegetable or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder**
  • 1/4 cup carrot puree***
  • 40g oat flour (1/2 cup quick oats blended until powdery)
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Prep process:

To prepare the sweet potato, place in a microwave-safe bowl:

  • 6 oz raw sweet potato, sliced in 1/2 inch thick slices

Fill the bowl with water until the slices are fully submerged. Microwave for 6-8 minutes or until the slices are soft and can be pierced with a fork easily.

Drain the water, add a small drizzle of oil (only 1/4 to 1/2 tsp necessary; I gave them quick spray of cooking oil), and mash with the fork until no chunks remain. Be careful not to overwork the sweet potato while mashing, or the brownies will be gummy. Let the sweet potato cool to room temperature.

In a clean bowl stir together:

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbs vegetable or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbs dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup carrot puree*


  • 40g oat flour (1/2 cup quick oats blended until powdery)
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Stir until smooth and glossy. Fold in in the cooled sweet potato.

Spread the batter into a greased 8×8 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Allow to cool before cutting into squares and serving. Serve warm with ice cream (soft and melty brownies) or chilled (soft and super fudgy brownies).

One last tip: These brownies are best treated like fudge. They can be kept at room temperature, but for clean cuts I recommend freezing the brownies for several hours and using a well greased knife.


*I’ve tried this recipe with 3 oz to 7 oz of raw sweet potato. 3 oz produced super super fudge-y brownies that barely held their shape, which I loved, and 7 oz made brownies with a bit more bite, which was my mom’s preference. I felt the brownies with 6 oz of raw sweet potato was the perfect compromise, but feel free to vary the amount of sweet potato based on how much you available.

**I usually add an addition 2 tbs because I love the taste of dark chocolate.

**To make carrot puree, cover 4 ounces of 1 inch thick sliced carrots with water and microwave for 5 minutes, or until soft. To save time, microwave the carrots in the same bowl as the sweet potatoes and separate after. Strain the carrots, transfer to a blender or food processor with 1/2 cup of water or non-dairy milk, and blend until smooth. Measure out 1/4 cup for this recipe. I suspect pear sauce (the baby food kind) will also work well.

The Greatest Healthy Zucchini Cake (vegan)


I’m banning modesty from this post. This zucchini cake deserves so much better than what modesty can afford it.

I’m a bit antsy to be posting a recipe for “The Greatest Healthy Zucchini Cake” after a recipe for “The Best Veggie Lasagna,” but I think that’s mainly caused by my lack of posts. Up until this zucchini bread, nothing I made inspired me enough to write about it.


College has started up again, but because I’m living off campus I have my own kitchen. Lately I’ve been honing my healthy banana bread making skills (I’ve been taking a lot of bananas from my dining hall…), but that’s still a recipe in progress.

That’s, however, irrelevant. Back to what’s important.

This zucchini cake.


This zucchini cake is soft, perfectly moist, and loaded with zucchini and chocolate chunks. It’s also really, really healthy as far as cake goes, made with only ¼ cup oil, no processed sugar, and sprouted spelt flour. (Truth be told I’m a bit surprised it turned out so well.) I also added a oatmeal crumble topping, which was probably one of my smartest ideas of the semester (besides faking LaTex, but that’s another story entirely).

I’m a huge fan of sharing food with others (well, except sushi. Sharing sushi tests my generosity), but I’m finding it really hard to convince myself to share these. This is my 2015 recipe. Really, really, really.


The Greatest Zucchini Cake

In a bowl combine:

  • 1 ¾ cup shredded zucchini (1 large zucchini)
  • ¼ cup oil
  • ½ cup dry sweetener (I used erythritol, sugar or coconut palm sugar should also works)
  • 2 tbs buttermilk powder (or 1 tsp lemon juice to keep the recipe vegan)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Stir in:

  • 1 cup spelt flour (or regular all purpose flour)
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • (optional) ¼ cup chocolate chips

Pour batter in a greased 8×8 pan. In a small bowl combine:

  • ¼ cup spelt flour
  • 2 tbs instant oats
  • 2 tbs coconut palm sugar
  • 1 tbs coconut oil

Stir until a crumbly mixture forms, and then sprinkle on top of the batter. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees, or until a knife comes out clean.

Best Veggie Lasagna


It’s hellishly hot, I’m running on 5 hours of sleep, and I forgot my laptop charger at work so I’m anxiously watching the battery drain, but at the moment all that matters is this lasagna.

The origins of this lasagna are a losing battle I have with cheese. Aka, I can’t stop buying new varieties of cheese. My latest impulse cheese buy was queso fresco, which, while a delicious cheese, is not a particularly versatile one. I used it once as a topping for shrimp tacos, a second time on top of refried beans, and then watched it go untouched for a week before I decided there had to be some good way to repurpose it. Enter this veggie lasagna.

It turns out crumbled queso fresco mixed with a bit of cottage cheese makes a remarkably good mock ricotta. It also turns out that layering paper thin slices of zucchini creates something similar enough pasta that it’s kind of unsettling. I added regular lasagna sheets too because pasta is delicious, but they were the no boil kind which made assembly super easy.

I haven’t even finished this batch of lasagna, and I’m already eyeing the frozen paneer since I think it’s quite similar to queso fresco. We’ll see. Very, very soon.

I’m putting the recipe under a read more because it’s a bit long, even though the actual process is quite simple.

Recipe ahead.

Best Veggie Lasagna

Make one loaf sized pan of lasagna: 2 huge servings, 3 big servings, 4 regular servings

For the full ingredients list, see the bottom of the recipe.

Preparing the zucchini:

1) Obtain:

  • 1 large zucchini

2) Create long, paper thin slices of zucchini using a vegetable peeler. Discard or save the middle of the zucchini for another use. Add the slices into a bowl with 2 cups of water + 1 tsp salt. This process will remove excess water from the zucchini and prevent it from making the lasagna watery later. After 20 minutes (make the pasta sauce while you wait!), drain and rinse the zucchini, and then pat dry with paper towels, removing as much excess water as possible.

Making the pasta sauce (or you can use 2 cups of premade pasta sauce):

Note: This makes just enough sauce. If you’re a fan of extra saucy lasagna, it might be smart to double the recipe and just store any leftovers.

1) To make the lasagna sauce, heat in a saucepan:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • ¼ a large onion, diced (½ cup diced onion)
  • 1 heaping tsp diced garlic (1-2 cloves)

2) Cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Add:

  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced

3) Continue cooking for 5 minutes, and then add:

  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 13.5 ounce of no salt added tomatoes, crushed
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

4) Cook at medium heat for 15 minutes, or until the sauce is thick. Remove the bay leaf.

5) Add to taste:

  • salt
  • pepper

Lasagna cheese filling:

Again, this is just enough cheese filling. Use 1.5 cups of ricotta cheese if you’re a fan of extra

1) In a bowl, add:

  • Option A: 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • Option B: ½ cup ricotta cheese + ½ cup cottage cheese
  • Option C: 5 ounces crumbled queso fresco + ¼ cup cottage cheese + 2 tbs egg whites

2) Stir in:

  • 2 tbs grated parmesan
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt

3) Cook at medium heat until wilted.

  • 1 cup spinach leaves

Once the spinach cools, chop roughly and stir into the cheese. Set aside.

To assemble the lasagna:

1) First, gather:

  • the prepared zucchini
  • 1 recipe pasta sauce
  • 1 recipe ricotta cheese filling
  • 3 lasagna noodles
  • 1 tbs grated parmesan
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella

2) Add ¼ of the pasta sauce (½ cup approximately) to the bottom of a greased 9×5 loaf pan.

3) Top with 1 lasagna noodle.

4) Spread 1/3 of the cheese filling (1/3 cup approximately) over the lasagna noodle and any exposed sauce.

5) Add a layer of the zucchini slices, using approximately ¼ of the slices.

6) Repeat steps 2-5.

7) Repeat steps 2-5. By now you should have used up the cheese, zucchini, and noodles, but have ¼ of the sauce left.

8) Top the lasagna with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with the grated parmesan and shredded mozzarella.

9) Cover the pan with a piece of aluminum foil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 5 minutes more, or until the mozzarella is melted and bubbly.

Full Ingredients List:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • ¼ a large onion, diced (½ cup diced onion)
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 heaping tsp diced garlic (1-2 cloves)
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 13.5 ounce of no salt added tomatoes, crushed
  • ½ tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese or ½ cup ricotta cheese + ½ cup cottage cheese or 5 ounces crumbled queso fresco + ¼ cup cottage cheese + 2 tbs egg whites
  • 3 tbs parmesan
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt & pepper
  • no boil lasagna noodles

Strawberry Banana Protein Milkshake

Adulthood is:

Deciding to have a strawberry milkshake for dinner.

Make that two milkshakes.


Adulthood is:

Deciding to make the milkshake with frozen bananas and protein powder instead of ice cream (although I admit a few bites of ice cream were consumed during the process).


Adulthood is:

Dousing the milkshakes in homemade chocolate fudge sauce…sugar free, fat free hot fudge.


Adulthood is:

Taking rushed photos as the fudge melts the milkshake.

Trying to eat the milkshake out of the cup.

Giving up and throwing the milkshake in a bowl (and topping with more hot fudge, of course).


Ahh, much better.

Adulthood is:

Realizing you forgot to add whipped cream on top, deciding to do so next time, and deciding next time will be tomorrow.

Strawberry Banana Protein Milkshake

Makes so, so much milkshake. I couldn’t finish it and had to freeze the rest.

  • 1 scoop Jay Robb egg white protein powder
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 large frozen banana
  • 1 ½ cups milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • handful of ice (I added about ¾ of a cup)
  1. Blend all the ingredients in a high powered blender. If you’re using a weaker blender, thin out with more milk as needed.
  2. Top with hot fudge. I was experimenting and tried making a sugar free hot fudge not expecting much, but it was so good that I’m going to perfect its recipe tomorrow, and post about it soon.

Other notes:

  • If you’re feeling extra fancy, add ½ cup of vanilla ice cream. I instead ate a couple spoonful while I was blending the smoothie.
  • Optional: Wanna feel even healthier? add 1 tsp psyllium husk or ground flax seeds.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes (GF)


I think I’m broken.

I’ve lost the ability to bake regular desserts and cook regular foods. My thought process is approximately this:

If I’m craving chocolate chip cookies: “hmm I wonder if I could make chocolate chip cookies from spelt flour and erythritol!”

If I want muffins: “oh yeah let me just throw in some tofu and oatmeal–nevermind that I’m not following any recipe.”

And apparently, now the first thought that comes to mind when I want pancakes is cottage cheese. Long gone are the days of making buttermilk pancakes, although I would never turn one down if offered.

It’s honestly just plain fun to try and healthify traditional foods. Though the muffins weren’t that fun. They were kind of gross actually. Next time.

These pancakes are a rendition of my favorite oatmeal pancakes, but while I consider those pancakes snack food, these have protein and feel like a substantial meal. They’re delicious, cottage cheese and all. (I promise my tastebuds aren’t broken.)

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Makes 1 serving (This is about 2/3 of a serving)

  • ½ cup cottage cheese (I used 1%, I think)
  • 1 egg + 3 tbs egg whites*
  • ½ tsp sweetener (I used ½ tsp sugar-free vanilla syrup. Maple syrup or sugar works too.)
  • ¼ tsp extract (I used butter extract–vanilla works as well)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoons oat flour**
  • 1/8 tsp baking power
  1. Blend cottage cheese, egg, and egg white, sweetener, and extract until smooth.
  2. Add coconut flour, oatmeal flour, and baking powder, and blend until smooth.
  3. Cook pancakes at medium heat on a nonstick pan (nonstick is really important).
  4. Tada, you have delicious pancakes. Super easy. Top with syrup. I halved this syrup recipe and made it with raspberries.

*I keep a carton of egg whites. If you don’t, just replace with 1 egg white, or even replace with milk, honestly

**To make oat flour, grind oats in a food processor or blender until flour-y. Measure 2 tablespoons afterwards.