heirloom tomato & avocado bruschetta

I should just title this, The Three Best Ingredients Ever.


Because that’s what’s happening here. Heirloom tomatoes, avocado and bread? Um, yes please. Oh and pesto! So maybe the four best ingredients ever combined.

I’ve never been one who wakes up every Sunday morning and attends my local farmer’s market. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good farmer’s market trip, but for me it’s more of an excursion to get brunch from food trucks, grab fresh flowers wrapped in newspaper, and peruse artisan olive oil than an errand to buy groceries for the week.

Although fresh produce at farmer’s markets is amazing, it’s generally pretty expensive so I reserve my purchases for only certain items that I feel are really special, which brings me to heirloom tomatoes. BBQ and popsicles and fresh cantaloupe are nice, but what I really look forward to when summer rolls around is heirloom tomatoes.

They’re a bit of a cheap trick because you can do next to nothing to them and they’ll still taste absolutely incredible. But on the flip side, that also means that if you go the extra mile they’re really out of this world -> Oh, hello avocado, pesto and fresh baguette.

This bruschetta has got to be one of the most delicious and festive appetizers or snacks you’ll encounter this season. You’ll start by toasting the bread, then smearing on the bright basil pesto and finish by topping it with the creamy avocado and tangy tomatoes.

I used heirloom cherry tomatoes because I couldn’t resist how cute they were when I found them (and later aired my obsession on Instagram), but you can use larger heirloom tomatoes if you’d like and just chop them up. Either way, this bruschetta is a total crowd pleaser and the best way to utilize one of the most delicious treats of summer.

And don't forget to enter the giveaway to win Vega Sport protein powder! A winner will be chosen this Friday.

















Ingredients:
For the pesto: 
- 5 large handfuls of basil (or one full TJ's package), plus a small handful more for garnish
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup olive oil

- 2 cups quartered heirloom cherry tomatoes, or regular heirloom tomatoes roughly chopped
- 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and cubed
- 1 baguette cut into 16 rounds

Instructions:
1. Add all pesto ingredients plus salt and pepper to a food processor and whiz until smooth.

2. Toast the baguette rounds under the broiler (flipping midway) until both sides are golden brown. Remove from the oven and spread each round with pesto on one side.

3.  Add tomatoes, avocado, salt and pepper to a large bowl and mix together. Top the baguette rounds with the tomato-avocado mixture. Julienne the remaining basil and sprinkle atop the bruschetta. Serve immediately.







vega protein powder giveaway

When you think performance boosting protein powder, plant-based deliciousness isn't typically what comes to mind. It's more so one of those giant barrels of whey protein powder with a topless, insanely muscular man in the midst of a Hulk power stance on it. Aside from the appetite suppressing packaging, what's more is you'll be hard pressed to find protein powder that isn't full of sugar or doesn't contain a long list of chemical additives you can't pronounce. Not exactly ideal when you're looking for something to fuel your body after a killer workout or a boost to add to your morning smoothie. Vega Sport is the outlier and I'm giving a pack of 12 individual servings away to one lucky reader ($50 value)!



How much protein is actually in it?
Each serving of Vega Sport has 30 grams of complete protein, containing all 9 amino acids, which is equivalent to the amino acid profile of whey protein powder.

What is it made of?
Alfalfa, pumpkin, sunflower seed and pea protein. It also contains 5,000 mg of glutamine, which helps repair muscles after exercise, plus turmeric and probiotics.

How does it taste, really?
It's absolutely delicious. I used to hate drinking protein powder, and now it's my reward for completing my workout, it's that good.

Do I have to drink it after exercising?
No. It's made with recovery in mind, but I have it sometimes in place of breakfast, on it's own or in a smoothie, or as a snack for those days you're really hungry and just want some extra protein.

What do I mix it with?
You can mix it with water, non-dairy milk, or throw it in a smoothie. If you want to get creative, it's also delicious in pancakes and muffins.

What are the nutritional facts?
It's 150 calories, 30 grams of protein, 1 gram of sugar and 4 grams of carbs.

How do you like the individual serving packs compared to the larger containers?
The large containers are great for storing at your home, but I prefer the individual serving packs because I can throw them in my gym bag to enjoy right after my workout, or have them on hand for an on-the-go snack.


HOW DO I ENTER TO WIN?

1. Follow @sprinklesandsaturdays on Instagram

2. Like the giveaway photo and...

3. Tag two friends who might also like to win in the comments

*** For an additional entry, comment about a post or type of recipe you would like to see on the blog.

The giveaway will end Friday, July 29th at 11:59pm PST - and the winner will be drawn randomly and announced Saturday, July 30th!




vietnamese tofu lettuce wraps

So fresh and so clean clean.


When summer rolls around and I ask myself what type of food I'm craving, the answer is always light, but satisfying meals that require minimal cooking - bonus points for not having to turn on the oven.

I live in a small, studio apartment in San Francisco with old appliances and horrible ventilation; a combination that results in my apartment transforming into a sauna when the oven is on for any period of time. You can imagine how fantastic this is in the dead of December when it's freezing outside and all I need to do is bake a batch of cookies to get my apartment warm and toasty for the night. Not so ideal when it's 90 degrees outside, I've toasted a piece of bread under the boiler for a like, a minute and have now found myself standing in front of the open freezer door panting like a dog. Yeah. Not exactly my highlight of the season.

These lettuce wraps are the perfect summer meal because their light and full of veggie goodness, while still being satisfying and filling, no oven required and super minimal stove time. All you need to do is stir fry the tofu for about 5 minutes so it's all crispy and delicious and you're set. The rest of your time is spent staking your lettuce wraps with all the fixings until you've reached total taste and texture nirvana.












Ingredients (Serves 4):
-1 lb extra firm tofu, cubed
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 heads of red leaf lettuce
- 1 cup cucumber, sliced
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
- 2 scallions, sliced
- 1 small handful fresh cilantro
- 1 small handful fresh mint
- 1 lime
- 1 avocado, cubed
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped toasted and salted peanuts

For the Peanut Sauce:
- 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2-4 tablespoons coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
- 2-5 tablespoons warm water

Instructions:
1. To make the peanut sauce: Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl, adding more coconut or brown sugar as you go to make it sweeter and more water until you reach desired thickness.

2. Heat the sesame oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add cubed tofu and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes.

3. To assemble the lettuce wraps, start with one or two lettuce leafs stacked on top of one another and add tofu, cucumber, jalapeño, scallions, mint, cilantro, avocado and peanuts. Finish with the peanut sauce and a squeeze of fresh lime.


5 podcasts you need in your life

I didn't really dig into podcasts until Serial came out a couple years ago. Up until then I only had music to pass the time during long car rides or walks, but I found I enjoyed listening to podcasts much more and, when Serial ended, I went on a hunt for more podcasts to fill the void. These five are my absolute favorites that I look forward to listening to each week when I'm on my way to and from work, or when I'm doing chores like washing dishes or cleaning my apartment. What's more is you can find all of them from free on iTunes or the Podcast App. I should probably also mention that I'm really letting my reality TV, especially Bravo, obsession out with this list... you'll see what I mean.



1. The Bitch Bible. Jackie Schimmel is the unapologetic, unfiltered host of this hilarious podcast. She tells it like it is, says what you're thinking and isn't concerned one bit with being "politically correct." She covers everything from pop culture to relationships and reality TV, especially all things Real Housewives and The Bachelor. Jackie is to Bravo TV what sportscasters are to football.  She brings a refreshingly brutal honestly to every topic, making her podcast completely addicting. Her snapchat (jackieschimmel) is also top notch.

2. Heather Dubrow's World. Healther Dubrow, from Real Housewives of the OC, is the host of this podcast. Heather discusses pretty much everything including health, wellness, beauty, relationships and family with her guests, who are often other celebrities. She also dishes behind the scenes Real Housewives gossip, including episode recaps, and answers listener's questions. Heather has always been my favorite of the OC housewives for her class and charm, which she definitely brings to each week's episode.

3. Straight Up with Stassi. Moving right along with the reality TV trend, Stassi Schroeder from Vanderpump Rules is the host of this podcast that comes out twice a week. One of the weekly episodes consists of Stassi and a guest, usually a friend of hers, chatting about what's going on in their lives as any typical girlfriends would on a casual wine night. In the week's second, shorter episode, Stassi gives advice and answers listener's questions. Similar to Jackie Schimmel, Stassi brings a refreshing honesty to every topic she discusses and really lets listeners into the inner workings of her life.

4. Lady Lovin'. Lo Bosworth, from the old MTV series, Laguna Beach, and her two friends, Greta and Jilly, are the hosts of this podcast. Since staring on Laguna Beach as a high schooler, Lo has moved to New York, gone to culinary school and created a super successful lifestyle blog. These three ladies have a variety of guests on ranging from entrepreneurs to comedians to their best guy friends. The subtle underlying goal of their podcast is to empower women, which they accomplish in a number of ways, including interviewing women who have started their own businesses and calling out a lady that they love and admire at the end of each episode.

5. Food Blogger Pro. This one is a total outlier! But don't discount it if you're a fellow food blogger, or are interested in having any sort of online presence. Bjork Ostrom, husband of Lindsay Ostrom from Pinch of Yum, hosts this podcast. Each week he interviews different types of guests from the blogging world, including creators of successful blogs like Gimme Some Oven and experts like Pinterest strategy specialists. I always learn something new from each episode and walk away feeling motivated to take the blogging world by storm.



southwestern quinoa stuffed tomatoes

This recipe is bold, spicy deliciousness stuffed in the most perfect little tomato bowls.


I dug up the picture from the first time I made this. I was in my first apartment, post college, and finally had a kitchen to experiment in. I knew I wanted to create something with quinoa, and since Southwestern flavors are so delicious, I thought I'd go that route. The filling is amazing on its own, but it's amplified even further by baking it in the juicy tomato bowls and topping it with creamy avocado, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime. The end result is a completely addicting, healthy and pre-portioned dinner.

Just how healthy? This article by Well-Being Secrets shares 27 science-backed health benefits of quinoa ranging from its ability to improve digestion to its low glycemic index. After reading it you seriously won't be able to get enough quinoa in your life, and these tomatoes are an excellent way to start.

You know what else makes this dish one of my favorites? It freezes beautifully. I have a common problem when I cook and shoot recipes for my blog - there are so. many. leftovers. And, unlike many bloggers, I live alone and don't have a husband, kids, or even a dog to feed them to (my cat isn't having it). So after shoots I'm left with so much food in my fridge that I can't possibly eat before it goes bad.

I feel like this is a common problem for people in their 20's who live alone. It's difficult to cook for one person, so you inevitably always have leftovers on hand, and it becomes a dilemma between not wanting to waste food and simultaneously being uninterested in eating the same leftovers night after night until they're finally gone.

Jack suggested I start freezing my leftovers instead, so after shooting these tomatoes they went right in the freezer and I completely forgot about them until the week after 4th of July. I had been out of town for the holiday weekend and hadn't gone on my usual grocery trip so my fridge was completely empty.

I was laying in bed struggling with the thought of dragging myself to Trader Joe's when I remembered all the meals I had waiting for me in my freezer and got so excited. These tomatoes were the first thing I wanted to have and, once heated up and topped with all the essentials, they tasted just as delicious as when I first made them.






Ingredients (serves 4, two tomatoes each):
- 1/2 cup dry quinoa
- 8 medium tomatoes
- 1 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup cooked corn, thawed if using frozen - I like Trader Joe's frozen roasted corn
- 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
- 1 avocado
- 2 limes

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 375. Cook the quinoa according to package instructions. While the quinoa is cooking, slice the tops off the tomatoes and hollow out the insides. Set aside.

2. Stir the beans, corn, cilantro, nutritional yeast, ancho chili powder, salt and pepper into the cooked quinoa. Evenly divide the filling among the tomatoes and bake for 20 minutes. You may end up with extra filling depending on how large your tomatoes are, but that's alright because it's also delicious on its own.

3. Serve with sliced avocado, cilantro and a generous squeeze of lime.



blogspiration: 9 inspiring blogs to bookmark

Blogspiration! My new favorite word. I've rounded up nine of my all time favorite blogs that have breathtaking photography, creative posts and, after following along for years, inspired me to start my own blog. If you're a blogger, these sites will seriously fan your passion flame. And if you just love to follow blogs, this list will introduce you to some new ones or, if these are your favorites as well, lead you to some especially stellar posts you might have otherwise missed.



1. How Sweet Eats. There literally aren't enough complimentary adjectives to describe Jessica's blog. The photography is insane, but at the same time very approachable in a way that makes you feel like you could actually replicate the amazingness you're seeing on your screen. Although she's not a plant-based cook, she often posts vegan recipes and many of her dishes with meat or dairy can be adjusted with a little creativity. She recently posted this recipe for Vegan Coconut Banana Shakes that literally made me stop mid scroll on Instagram and immediately visit her site to pin it.

2. Cupcakes & Cashmere. She's been called the Martha Stewart of our time and no blogspiration list would be complete without her. Emily's lifestyle blog covers fashion, food, home decor and DIY. She's also a posting machine, cranking out two a day, which means there's always something new to look forward to when you visit. She recently revealed how she decorated her new downtown LA office in one of my favorite posts to date.

3. Minimalist Baker. All of Dana's recipes require 10 ingredients or less, 1 bowl/pot or 30 minutes or less to prepare. The majority are also plant-based and gluten-free. She's a girl after my own heart when it comes to delicious, veggie filled food that doesn't require a laundry list of ingredients or dozens of steps, naturally making her one of my go to's. This recipe for Vegan S'mores Whoopie Pies is such a fun twist on a classic summer favorite.

4. Deliciously Ella. Ella's plant-based blog has taken her to some truly incredible places. She has several cookbooks, an app and just recently opened her own Deli, all sparked from the success of her blog (how's that for inspiration?). Deliciously Ella recipes are gluten-free, include whole, unprocessed foods, no refined sugar and have very simple instructions. This recipe for broccoli soup is one of the most delicious soups I've ever had (really).

5. The Balanced Blonde. Jordan is in pursuit of all things health and wellness, and takes her readers along for the ride with posts on fitness, food (including many delicious plant-based recipes) and travel, just to name a few. She has an incredible voice that makes you feel like shes your BFF talking directly to you. When I'm feeling frazzled or worn out, I visit Jordan's blog for a reset and always walk away in a more positive mood. I found her recent post on how to find your mantra especially inspiring.

6. Oh She Glows. This is the first food blog I ever started following. Angela posts all vegan recipes with some of the most inspiring food photography I've ever seen (if you dont believe me, just check out some pages from her new cookbook). She recently posted these No-Bake Chocolate Fudge Cookies that are not only delicious but super simple to make.

7. Atlantic Pacific. This is actually the first blog, period, I ever started following, and it was so fun to watch it grow into the huge success it is today. Blair posts to die for fashion images with nothing but a witty title, proving that, if writing isn't your thing, you can be successful letting the images speak for themselves. Her recent post in this peach dress complete with a matching bag and sunglasses got me so excited about summer.

8. Pinch of Yum. Lindsay is the mastermind behind this delicious recipe blog that includes tons of healthy, vegan meals and always has entertaining stories to go along with them. But it's really the team she makes with her husband, Bjork, that I find so inspiring. Bjork runs Food Blogger Pro that includes a weekly podcast about the business behind food blogging, which Lindsay is often a guest on. It's been so much fun to get a behind the scenes look at how Lindsay built her super successful blog with Bjork's help. My most recent favorite from her site is General Tso's Cauliflower, which was a bit more time consuming than most of her recipes, but completely worth it.

9. Gimme Some Oven. Ali embraces a minimalist style with both her food and photography. She keeps her recipes simple to let the ingredients really shine, and shoots them in white or glass dishes on all white backgrounds. These are very unforgiving conditions when it comes to food photography and yet, the girl posts breathtaking, mouthwatering images on the reg. Nothing short of inspirational. Her recent post for Naturally-Sweetened Agua Fresca makes me happy just looking at it.




vegetable couscous with sunflower pesto

Sunflower pesto for summer, I couldn't resist.


Adjusting back to work and your regular routine after a holiday weekend is never enjoyable or easy. You're tired, maybe you over indulged with both you diet and your money, but this easy, healthy and affordable recipe will get you back on track.

Want to know what makes this couscous so delicious?

Pesto. Okay, you probably guessed that. Especially since I'm a bit pesto obsessed, but I really feel like pesto can turn just about any simple ingredient or meal into something ridiculously yummy. I've been experimenting with all kinds of new pesto variations like one using arugula and one without nuts (coming to the blog soon), to mix it up. When I invented this sunflower pesto it just felt so fun for the season and was simultaneously so yum, that I couldn't wait to share it with you.

The one tricky part of pesto's is that they can rack up your grocery bill. Nuts aren't cheap, especially walnuts or pistachios (although this recipe is so worth it), and neither is a ton of fresh basil, so I wanted to develop a more affordable variation for those days you're really watching your wallet. Perusing the nut section at Trader Joe's, I discovered that a huge bag of sunflower seeds was just $1.50 and I knew I'd found the golden ticket.

Oh, and did I mention couscous is also super affordable and amazingly easy to make? You literally just boil water, pour the couscous into the pot, cover it for 5 minutes, stir and you're done! Say what??

In terms of the veggies, this is totally a kitchen sink dish, meaning that you can throw just about any vegetable you have on hand in and it's going to taste amazing (thank you sunflower pesto). Just don't forget a light sprinkle of sunflower seeds on top for that added oh-so-satisfying texture and crunch.






Ingredients (serves 4-6):
- 1 cup couscous
- 1 1/2 cup broccoli florets
- 1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 1/2 cup zucchini, cut into bit sized pieces
- 1 head of kale, spines removed and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- Sunflower seeds to sprinkle on top
- 1 avocado

For the Pesto:
- 4 cups lightly packed basil, or one full package of TJ's basil
- 1 cup roasted and salted sunflower seeds
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- Juice of 2 large lemons

Instructions:
1. To make the pesto: Place all ingredients plus salt and pepper in a food processor or blender and whiz until smooth. Set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the broccoli, cherry tomatoes and zucchini and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the chopped kale, garlic powder, salt and pepper and cook until tender, about 2 more minutes.

3. While the veggies are cooking, prepare couscous according to package instructions.

4. Combine couscous and veggies in a large bowl and fold in pesto. Divide into bowls and top each with sliced avocado and sunflower seeds.



superfoods by julie montagu cookbook review

If you follow me on Instagram or are a regular reader, you know that I've become a bit obsessed with Julie Montagu's Superfoods cookbook. Let me start off by saying, I haven't bought a cookbook in years. I felt that there were so many delicious recipes for free online that it simply wasn't worth spending money to get a physical book. But when a friend and I stumbled into a bookstore while shopping around on Union Street in the Marina, I was excited to see a plant-based cookbook section, and Superfoods caught my eye.


My top requirement for cookbooks is that there is a picture of almost every recipe since if there isn't one, I'm realistically at least 50% less likely to make it. Superfoods met this requirement with gorgeous food photography throughout the entire book. Second on my list, is that most of the recipes have to require a reasonable number of ingredients and list minimal instructions. Superfoods got another check mark. Third, the recipes need to be healthy, which obviously Superfoods fulfilled. So I was sold! My first cookbook purchase in at least 5 years and it didn't disappoint.

I've been eating recipes from the book throughout the past month and some of my favorites are a recipe for avocado toast that combines avocado with an ingredient I never would have thought of, a quinoa cassarole that's to die for, matcha green tea energy balls that take their title very seriously, and endless portable lunch recipes that are perfect to take with you to work.

I also love that Julie includes a full explanation of the philosophy behind the book in the beginning, along with shopping lists for must have, nice to have, and good to have foods to add to your pantry. The lists also include some helpful text on each food, some of which were unfamiliar to me, that explains what it is and why it's so beneficial to include in your diet.

To sum it up, Superfoods recipes are:
- Delicious
- Healthy
- Creative
- Easy
- Simple

I highly recommend it and, if you're like me and haven't bought a cookbook in half a decade, this is a great place to start! You can find it here.




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