fig and arugula pizza on naan bread

fig & arugula pizza

fig & arugula pizzaWhat we have learned from my what I ate last week posts is that I love using whole-wheat naan bread as a base for mini lunchtime pizzas, and that I love my fig jam. Fig jam is incredibly thick, rich, and sweet, and pairs really well with nuts, cheese, crackers, and fruit. I love pairing it with almond or walnut butter for a scrumptious PB&J.  Below is a picture of the fig jam I love so much. 

DSC_0003-2Naan bread is awesome because you can do so much with it.  You can heat it up with just a splash of olive oil and pair it with your favorite salad, or use it as a base for a mini pizza like I did above. 

I love to play around, and throw different toppings on the naan bread to see what I can create. It’s a bit like painting and very therapeutic.  I threw this one together on a whim one day as I was craving some fig jam, and noticed that I didn’t have any bread in the house (which was very odd).  I thought, “Why not throw it on the naan bread and heat it up?” Needless to say, I loved the end result of this creation, and if you like fig jam, you will as well.

fig & arugula pizza

fig and arugula pizza on naan bread:

  • 1 slice of whole-wheat naan bread
  • fig jam or fresh fig
  • mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced or shredded
  • arugula
  • extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put a slice of naan bread on a rimmed baking sheet.  Brush the bread with a bit of olive oil, and then spread some fig jam on top. 
Next, add some thinly sliced mozzarella cheese. Fig jam and mozzarella go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Pop it in the oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is crispy and brown.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss together a handful of arugula with a splash of olive oil.
When the pizza is out of the oven, throw the arugula on top.
Slice the pizza into 2 to 3 pieces and enjoy.
fig & arugula pizza
This is a super easy pizza to throw together for lunch or light dinner. Come to think of it, I could even see this being a great appetizer.  All you need to do is cut the naan bread into smaller pieces.  
See, there is so much you can do with a little fig jam and some naan bread.
Did I mention that figs are good for you?

vegan kale caesar salad with multi-grain croutons


Happy Memorial Day everyone, and Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband, John!  The kids and I love that John’s birthday falls on a Holiday weekend because we always get to spend a full day celebrating with him.  Zoe and I made his favorite coconut cake (recipe soon) while he supplied the homemade coconut ice cream.  What a man!

So, I am celebrating this day by showcasing a vegan kale caesar salad!  Yaay!  I can’t get enough kale, and I am assuming most of you are the same way.  Kale is the “it” vegetable of 2012, (at least in my world).  This is not your typical caesar salad though because it’s egg and dairy free.  It’s definitely a healthier take on the traditional caesar salad.

I love having a big salad for lunch, so I am always on the search for new recipes, especially kale ones.  I also love croutons, and these croutons are the BEST!  They are chewy and crunchy at the same time. You all know that I love carbs and kale, so this was lunch was a winner in my book!  I found that this particular kale salad was best served fresh.  It was fine for leftovers, but I found that I needed to refresh it with some dressing as the kale really absorbed all the dressing overnight and became a bit dull in flavor.  I paired this salad for dinner with some of my sausage and arugula pizza , and it was the prefect compliment.

vegan kale caesar salad:

seves 4

Note: There will be extra dressing leftover as the dressing makes 1 cup.  You can reserve this for additional salads or cut the dressing recipe below in half.  I actually used the extra dressing to re-fresh the leftover salad.  

  • 1 head of curly kale
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours – see details below
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • juice from 2 lemons - I use my hand juicer so that I get all the juice from the lemons
  • 1 large pitted Medjool date
  • 2 large stalks celery, ends cut off
  • 2 – 3 large raw garlic cloves, peeled – I used 3 garlic cloves  
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup water – I added another tablespoon after I blended the dressing.  Feel free to use more water if you want a thinner consistency
  • homemade croutons - see recipe below
Wash, de-stem & tear up the kale into bite size pieces and set it aside in a salad bowl.
Measure out the 3/4 cup cashews and rinse them in a colander.
Place them in a glass or ceramic bowl and cover them with fresh filtered water.
Cover the bowl with a clean dishtowel and let them soak for 2 hours.
Drain the cashews.
Add cashews to a food processor or high-powered blender (I used my vitamix).  Add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, Medjool date, celery (I cut the celery into 3 large chunks to make pureeing it easier), garlic cloves, apple cider vinegar, sea salt and water and process/blend until smooth.
Note: This dressing will be thick, but when you mix it into the kale it has a nice consistency.  
Pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the dressing over the kale and mix well so that all the kale absorbs the dressing.  I actually massaged my kale a bit so the kale really absorbed the dressing.  You don’t have to go crazy massaging this kale salad.  When I say, “massage” your kale, I literally mean, get your hands in there and massage it.

The volume of the kale should reduce by about 1/3 and the kale will wilt and have a cooked texture.Feel free to add more dressing if desired after you massage it, as the kale will absorb it.

multi-grain croutons:

  • 2 thick slices of multi-grain or dark grain bread  – You can use any kind of bread here, but I loved the chewy texture of this multi grain bread. For those of you that are local, I got this bread was from the Whole Foods in San Rafael.  It’s from Della Fattoria and the name of the bread is Pane Integrale.
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt - I usually just throw a pinch of salt in
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper – I actually don’t measure out my pepper.  I just twist the pepper grinder a few times.
I took my other crouton recipe, added 2 cloves of minced garlic to it and used this amazing whole-grain dark bread.  Needless to say, these croutons were AMAZING!
Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.  Slice up 2 thick slices of bread.
Cut the slices into 1/2 inch cubes.
In a medium sized bowl add the olive oil, minced garlic, pepper and salt and mix them together. Throw in the croutons and toss to coat.
Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
Bake for approximately 10 to 12 minutes, making sure to flip the bread over once during baking so it browns on both sides. Bake until the croutons are browned and crisp.
Top the kale salad with the homemade croutons and serve.
This salad is a healthier take on the traditional caesar salad.  If you’re looking for another healthy caesar salad recipe that actually tastes more like a traditional caesar salad, then try my miso garlic roasted tofu salad.

what I ate last week, week 3

Here’s the third installment of what I ate last week.  If you are interested in checking out week’s one and two click here.  This week you will notice that I ate dessert, lots of it.  Last week was not normal for me in the dessert department.  I love a sweet at the end of the day and this week proved it.  Last Monday was National Chocolate Chip day so I celebrated by making my FAVORITE chocolate chip cookies.  You seriously have to try these cookies folks.  They are the bomb!  Em, I thought of you this week with a few items I ate, let me know if you can figure out what they are!  OK, lets get this party started!



Remember last week when I told you I loved using whole-wheat naan bread as a base for mini pizzas?  Last week I topped mine with spinach, red onion and egg whites.  This week I was craving something a bit sweeter so I topped the naan bread with some fig jam, mozzarella and arugula.  It was amazingly sweet, but not too sweet, and the mozzarella went perfectly with the fig.  I threw some arugula on top to add some color and nutrition. I photographed only half of the naan pizza below because I trying to be good and just eat 2 pieces, but it was so good that I went in the kitchen and ate the other half, and I did not feel guilty!  That’s one of the perks of working at home; you can have seconds (or maybe its not the best perk).  I also had a fuji apple, which was the perfect compliment to the pizza. 


It was a typical manic Monday at the Grandy house so I solved our dinner dilemma by picking up my free lasagna from Paradise Foods.  Our local neighborhood grocery store sends out these monthly coupons for a free item in the store (you have to spend $25 to get the free item, but that is so easy to do).  This month’s coupon was for a family style lasagna (freshly made with high quality ingredients).  I picked up their turkey lasagna and it was amazing, all cheesy and gooey. I paired this with my favorite springtime vegetable side, roasted asparagus.  It’s funny because most of my friends were picking up their free lasagna as the same time.  Great minds think alike:)Dessert:  

Yippee!  I had dessert!  I told you I love dessert, not that you could tell from last week’s post.  I made these cookies around the time the kids were coming home from school.  You should have seen their smiles as they walked in the door and smelled the cookies baking. I think I’m going to make this a new Monday tradition, as it really made their Monday end on a happy note.  BTW, I did not eat all 4 cookies, (as shown below) these cookies were staged for my photos.  I just had one and half of another because they were so darn good.  You just have to make these cookies, you will thank me when you do.




You’re probably looking to see where my smoothie and burrito are, right?  I mean it’s hot lunch Tuesday at the kid’s school and that is my usual fare.  No smoothie or burrito today, as I wasn’t in the burrito & smoothie mood.  I was craving fig jam again (must be all that sugar) so I made a toasted almond butter (no Jiff here Em) and fig jam sandwich on this amazing dark multi grain bread!  I paired it with a fuji apple and some coconut water.  It was a happy lunch and I enjoyed every bite.Snack:
Snack, say what?  I decided I would add this feature when I came across a snack that is worthy of posting about.  Typically I eat a handful of almonds, cashews or banana when I get hungry in the afternoon.  I was especially hungry this day since I ate lunch at 11:00 and I was eyeballing one of my chocolate chip cookies, but I was good and decided to nibble and gulp on the two items below.  OMG, this Mermaid Munch is the bomb!  I picked it up at the Farmers Market on Saturday and I am so going back to get more.  It tastes like candy!  Literally!  It is made with brown kelp, (Em, you would love that) almonds, sesame seeds, maple syrup and coconut oil.  There are no GMO’s and it’s all organic.  Annie, the woman who makes this, made this snack for a friend when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I guess the brown kelp helps to reduce hormones linked to certain cancers and the high iodine in kelp helps protect the thyroid.   The bummer is that you can only get it at the farmers market now.  I also am back and loving my green kombucha.  It actually fills me up when I am hungry in the afternoon and it gives me a bit of a lift!Dinner:
I had just written up a recipe post for my local grocery store’s blog featuring my broccoli lemon pasta.  I featured this recipe on their blog because organic broccoli was on special for the week. I took advantage of their special and made my family’s favorite pasta dish.  We love this pasta and if you want to know what dish gets cooked the most in this house, besides my kale salad, this is it!   Family favorite and kid rated 10!  Try it folks!Dessert: 

Get use to this photo because it was the dessert of the week. I honestly felt like cookie monster. Give me cookies!  Yum, Yum, Yum!  



I found a new kale salad recipe that I wanted to try for lunch.  It’s a vegan Caesar salad.  I made the most amazing croutons with that dark multi grain bread that I picked up on Tuesday.  Wow, I loved this lunch and it was filling because as you can see below, I had plenty of croutons in it.  Dinner:
For some reason I was craving a burger today.  I crave them from time to time and I just go with it.  I take it as my body’s way of telling me that I need some meat.  Anyway, we love using buffalo in lieu of red meat when it comes to burgers and tacos.  You really don’t taste a difference and buffalo is so much leaner (even leaner than chicken) and has all those great omegas.  I topped the burger (or should I say John topped the burger since he is the grill master) with some cheddar cheese, added my cilantro-lime mayo and the mini brioche buns.  I liked the cilantro-lime mayo with the buffalo burger, (because I love this mayo) but John was not a fan of it on the buffalo burger (he loved it on the turkey burger though).  I am going to make a chipotle mayo next and try that on this burger.  I paired the burger with the kale Caesar salad and some roasted cauliflower.  My kids had the burger with the roasted cauliflower but not the kale salad.   This is another one of my kid’s favorite meals, buffalo burgers and roasted cauliflower! Dessert:
This is the last photo you will see of these cookies (unless you make them of course).  This was the last cookie I had this week, that is until I baked a new batch on Saturday!


Below is a typical no-nonsense lunch, an almond butter sandwich and kale salad.  This almond butter is slowly replacing my love for Jiff.  I was rushing around this day so I needed something that I could throw down the hatch quickly.   Dinner:
This afternoon was a bit hectic.  I had a student photographer here photographing me making my kale salad, my roasted red pepper pizza as well as the asparagus, so that is why I have 2 vegetables on the plate below.  It was also Zoe’s open house at school so I had to get dinner on the table early and the pizza’s crust came out a bit underdone.  Some nights you just go with the flow and eat the food as it’s prepared.  I was exhausted by the end of this day and ready for a break in the kitchen on Friday. 


Boo hoo!  No dessert for me tonight or the kids!  



I am a big believer in leftovers as you have seen, so I had some leftover pizza and kale salad.    Friday is my favorite day of the week because I am finished with all my posts, so it’s my free day to do something just for me.  Sometimes I bake, have lunch with a friend or go shopping.  I just go with the flow and whatever I feel inspired to do, I just do. Dessert:
Sometimes you have to have dessert in the middle of the day.  Friday was super warm and both kids had a play date after school, so we went to the local gelato place and each had a cup.  I had the s’more gelato and it was rich and creamy and oh so yummy!  Dinner:

Fridays are a toss up, sometimes I cook and sometimes we eat out, it really depends on my week.  This Friday I was wanting a break form the kitchen, so we went to our favorite Chinese restaurant, DJ’s!  DJ’s is the bomb!  We have been going there weekly for about 15 years.  DJ’s is our kitchen away from home.  The owners and staff are like family to us and they always greet us with a smile and huge hug.  They have the best service and the best food.  Seriously, you have to try this place. We celebrate every birthday or special event there and I even think that we will have Zoe’s rehearsal dinner there.  They also have this beautiful and peaceful patio in the back of the restaurant, and that is our favorite place to sit.   It has a zen-like quality and it’s protected from the wind.  It’s like eating dinner in your own backyard.  Everything is served family style and there are always plenty of leftovers.  We love that because it takes care of lunch the next day.

Some of our favorite dishes?  For appetizers we switch off between the pot stickers and the onion pancake, (which is shown below). 

For dinner our favorites are the empress chicken (I ate this every week when I was pregnant with Zoe), Mongolian beef, pork or chicken, szechwan chicken, lemon chicken and fried rice.  Tonight we shared some empress chicken along with fried rice, DJ chicken and Mongolian pork.  I love to mix all the dishes together on one plate. I also had a nice glass of wine and some tea.

This photo was taken after we helped ourselves to the dishes.  You can kind of see John and Eli in the background or at least their arms.

What did we learn this week?
I really do eat and love dessert.
I eat way too much kale and need to find another vegetable to obsess over. Thoughts anyone?
I truly am a PB&J kind of girl!

couscous cakes

couscous cakes

couscous cakesDid you ever have one of those Mondays where you get so much done and have tons of energy?  I had that day yesterday and it was an amazing way to start up the week.  I accomplished more in 2 hours then I had the whole weekend.  Whoo hoo!  I even had some extra time to write up this post, so you’re getting 2 posts already this week and it’s only Tuesday.  Bonus!  Who am I?  I don’t know, but I like this new me (don’t get too excited as this is not normal for me).

So I cooked up some salmon last week and whenever I cook up salmon my kids ask for couscous as their side dish.  Basically my kids equate salmon with couscous.  Anyway, I was getting bored of the traditional couscous fare.  Couscous reminds me of white rice, just plain and unassuming, so I was excited when I saw this recipe for couscous cakes in Fine Cooking magazine. These cakes sort of reminded me of my chickpea veggie burgers.  

These patties are so easy to make and require a few simple pantry ingredients, AWESOME!  I even made the patties earlier in the day and then sautéed them up right before dinner, the perfect make-ahead recipe.

couscous cakes:

recipe from Fine Cooking

makes 8-9 patties

  • 3/4 cup couscous – I pack a hefty 3/4 cup of couscous
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf or italian parsley leaves 
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten – I found using large eggs not extra large works best here.  
  • finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil – you will use this later to cook the cakes

Put the couscous and 1 teaspoon salt in a small pan.  Add 1 cup boiling water to the couscous, cover with the pan lid and let sit for 4 to 5 minutes.  

Coarsely chop the garlic in a food processor.  Add the parsley and pulse until finely chopped.  Add the chickpeas and 1 teaspoon salt and pulse until coarsely chopped.Here is what your mixture will look like after it’s been chopped.Uncover the couscous and fluff with a fork.  In a large bowl, add the couscous, the chickpea mixture, eggs, and lemon zest and mix until well combined. Press the couscous mixture into a 1/4 measuring cup, smooth the top, and invert the measuring cup to release the cake onto a plate.  Repeat with the remaining couscous mixture to make 8-9 cakes. 

I always throw my mixture in the fridge for a bit before I make the couscous cakes, so the mixture can gel together.   Note:  To make these a make-ahead meal, you can refrigerate the patties ahead of time and sauté them up right before dinner.  You can also refrigerate the mixture as is, and make the patties right before you sauté them.  Either way works.Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  

Add 5 of the couscous cakes to the skillet and then use a spatula to lightly flatten the cakes so they’re about 3/4 inch thick.   Just take a spatula and gently press down on the cakes once they’re in the skillet to flatten them. Cook, flipping once, until the patties are crisp and golden brown on both sides. The recipe said 2 to 3 minutes per side, but mine took a bit longer, like 5 minutes per side.  Just make sure to cook them till they are golden brown on each side.  Transfer the cooked patties to a paper-towel lined plate.  Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet and cook the remaining cakes the same way. You can serve these up with just about anything. I gave the kids a couscous cake and some broccoli along with their salmon.  John and I paired one with a spinach salad and some salmon.  I also love serving these alongside a soup, such as my cauliflower soup.  These would even be great topped with my tzatziki yogurt sauce as a lunch-time entree.  Feel free to jazz these up anyway you choose. I could see adding some red or green onions to them as well as possibly substituting cilantro for the parsley leaves.  This is a great and basic couscous cake recipe.  

Family verdict?    These were rated a 10 in my house and I will definitely be making them again!  Got leftovers?  Just throw them in a 250 degree oven to warm them up.

couscous cakes

couscous cakes


  • 3/4 cup couscous - I pack a hefty 3/4 cup of couscous
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf or italian parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten - I found using large eggs not extra large works best here.
  • finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil - you will use this later to cook the cakes


Put the couscous and 1 teaspoon salt in a small pan. Add 1 cup boiling water to the couscous, cover with the pan lid and let sit for 4 to 5 minutes.

Coarsely chop the garlic in a food processor. Add the parsley and pulse until finely chopped. Add the chickpeas and 1 teaspoon salt and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Uncover the couscous and fluff with a fork.

In a large bowl, add the couscous, the chickpea mixture, eggs, and lemon zest and mix until well combined. Press the couscous mixture into a 1/4 measuring cup, smooth the top, and invert the measuring cup to release the cake onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining couscous mixture to make 8-9 cakes.

I always throw my mixture in the fridge for a bit before I make the couscous cakes, so the mixture can gel together.

Note: To make these a make-ahead meal, you can refrigerate the patties ahead of time and sauté them up right before dinner. You can also refrigerate the mixture as is, and make the patties right before you sauté them. Either way works.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering.

Add 5 of the couscous cakes to the skillet and then use a spatula to lightly flatten the cakes so they're about 3/4 inch thick.Just take a spatula and gently press down on the cakes once they're in the skillet to flatten them.

Cook, flipping once, until the patties are crisp and golden brown on both sides. The recipe said 2 to 3 minutes per side, but mine took a bit longer, like 5 minutes per side. Just make sure to cook them till they are golden brown on each side. Transfer the cooked patties to a paper-towel lined plate. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet and cook the remaining cakes the same way.

Got leftovers? Just throw them in a 250 degree oven to warm them up.

roasted asparagus

Sadly asparagus season is almost over, so I wanted to make sure to post my family’s favorite way to enjoy it, and that is roasting it.  Roasted asparagus is so tasty and it’s a perfect healthy side to any spring meal.  We have been eating so much asparagus these past few months that if  you look closely at the photos below you will see that its everywhere in our household.  I kinda think my kids are glad that the season is coming to a close.

Have you ever roasted asparagus before?  If you haven’t, you have to try it.  It has converted me and many of my friends from asparagus haters to asparagus lovers!  It’s so easy to prepare.  All you do is rinse it, throw on some olive oil and salt, and bake for 7 minutes.  I mean, how easy is that?

Here’s a great tip for keeping asparagus fresh.  Fill a tall glass container with about 2 inches of cold water. Take each asparagus stalk and cut off at least half an inch from the bottom. Put the stalks into the glass container and set it in your refrigerator.  Make sure to replace the water if you are keeping the spears for more than a few days as it will get cloudy.

roasted asparagus:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea or kosher salt 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse the asparagus and break off and discard the tough ends. 
Lay the asparagus spears out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the spears as well as a pinch of sea or kosher salt.  Toss the asparagus with the salt and olive oil until they are all are evenly distributed.
Place baking sheet in the oven on the middle or second rack from the bottom and cook for approximately 7-10 minutes, depending on how thick your asparagus spears are.  Roast until lightly browned and tender when pierced with a fork.  
Make sure to toss them a bit halfway through.
I usually pull them out at exactly 7 minutes and they are perfect every time!
Asparagus is a delicious vegetable that pairs with just about anything.
Here are some meals we have been pairing it with below.
salmon with almond-lime yogurt sauceroasted red pepper and arugula whole-wheat pizza
Anyway, I hope you have a chance to roast up some asparagus before the season is over.

what I ate last week, week 2

I’m back with week two of “what I ate last week.”  Aren’t you excited?  Come on, I know some of you enjoyed seeing all the exciting things I showed you in last week’s post of “what I ate last week.”  If you read last week’s post then you know that I eat the same thing for breakfast every day.  I am therefore not going to post breakfast again till I change it up a bit.  Life was hectic this week so I honestly did not have the energy to create a new breakfast plan, but I thought about it though!



This was a great lunch to kick off the week.  I love using whole-wheat naan bread as a base for mini pizzas.  I topped this one with spinach, red onion and can you guess what the white stuff is?  It’s not cheese, it’s an egg white.  Pretty cool don’t you think?  


OK, you all know Monday nights (due to crazy schedules) are either sandwich or leftover night.  Well, there were no leftovers to be eaten up, so it was sandwich night.  Gosh, I’m now noticing that this was a pretty carb heavy day.  Did I mention that I love carbs?  Probably not a great thing, but oh well, we all have our vices. I will post this sandwich recipe soon.  I got the idea for this sandwich from Sol Food.  It’s a sandwich that I always order so I decided to try making it at home.  It’s ciabatta bread topped with cilantro lime mayo, roasted red peppers, arugula, mashed avocado and heirloom tomatoes.  Need I say more?  I paired this with some asparagus, of course.  


Sadly, there was no dessert.  Boo hoo :(



It’s Tuesday and you all know what that means, hot lunch at the kid’s school!  Burrito day! Yippee!  All right enough with my cheerleading.  After the gym I came home and whipped up this strawberry smoothie.  It was super delish (my new favorite word) and easy to make.  I added some flax seed to it, but was not super happy with that addition.  Next time I will omit the flaxseed as it took away some of the smoothie’s sweetness.

I made up one of these burritos again at hot lunch!


So this is where I went downhill a bit.  I went into hot lunch venting to all my peeps that I was exhausted and fooded out (not sure if that is a word, but lets go with it).  I was sick of cooking and I was tired, like exhausted.  They all comforted me and told me that I do more cooking than most people and that I needed to take a break!  I just love my lunch peeps!  I took their words to heart and called my hubby and politely asked him to bring home a pizza that night.  He happily obliged (I think he was even a bit excited).  The kids were ecstatic, as they have not had take out pizza for some time.  Gee, it’s as though I was depriving them or something. Anyway, I really wanted something chocolaty for dessert so Eli and I drove on over to Susie Cakes after school and grabbed us some cupcakes. Mine was chocolate with butter cream frosting.  Yum!  Oh, and I also paired the pizza with my favorite kale salad.



I felt much better today and I was way more energized.  I had my Jackie spunk back!  Taking a night off from cooking was just what the doctor ordered.  I had some leftover kale salad so I mixed it up with red quinoa, a hard boiled egg, tofu and some black and garbanzo beans from the salad bar at Whole Foods. I did not add any additional dressing as it was not needed.  I felt powerful and full of energy after this lunch!


Wednesday is the one night that we are all home for dinner so I tend to whip up something nice and healthy.  I was craving salmon so I made my favorite salmon recipe and paired it with these amazing couscous cakes and spinach salad.  My kids loved the couscous cakes, but unfortunately not the salad.  I steamed up some broccoli for them as I had a feeling they were not going to be fans of the salad.  I put some cucumber and mint into my water and it was very refreshing.  This dinner was fit for a spa!


The kids had ice cream cones and I had a bite or two of fish food ice cream, but I didn’t get a photo of it, sorry!



Lunch was a repeat of last night’s dinner but without the salmon.  I had some leftover couscous cakes and I whipped up a fresh batch of spinach salad.  I also had some water but forgot to add that to the shot.  Now lets talk dinner…


I caved tonight.  I went to CPK!  Eli has been begging to go and my girlfriend’s kids have been begging to go, so we went.  It’s funny because we took along Eli’s best bud and he was super excited to go to CPK as his parents never take him, hmmmm… wonder why?  It was a fun night as the company and wine were great, but not so much the food.  The lettuce on my salad did not look fresh and I could tell the dressing was from a big jar.  The pizza crust was good though, so I focused on that and my glass of wine.  Sometimes you have to go with the experience and not worry so much about the food, so that’s what I did!  


I can’t believe this is the third night in a row that I did not participate in dessert.  I must warn you that this is not normal Marin mama behavior.  I love dessert as you will see in next week’s post.



TGIF!  I loved lunch today because I got to share it with two of my best friends, Yvonne and Carey.  Sadly our other bestie was not able to join us.  We missed you Hilly!  Anyway, Carey led us through an amazing yoga routine and then we headed over to Rustic Bakery.  It’s my third time there this month and I think I’m ready for a change!  I had their albacore tuna sandwich along with my new favorite beverage of choice, water with mint leaves. “So exciting!” 
We are girls who love dessert so we grabbed 3 forks and dug into this amazing and decadent  peanut butter brownie.  I am so going to replicate this, just you wait!  There was not a crumb in sight after we got to work on this. I am happy to report that we were part of the clean plate club.  


Zoe had dance rehearsal tonight so we had an early dinner.  I had tons of parsley and asparagus that I wanted to used up, so I whipped us up a parsley pesto pasta and added some roasted asparagus.  This was a healthy and delicious way to end our hectic week. 

Dessert:  Didn’t you see that I had my dessert at lunch?

So there you have it, week 2. 
What did we learn this week?  
We learned that I am a huge fan of carbs, (maybe I eat to many) and that I was lame about eating dessert.

strawberry, mango & banana smoothie

afterschool smoothie
strawberry, mango and banana smoothieI swear May should be re-named May madness.  It’s almost worst than December.  This month has been non-stop and it’s only the middle of the month.  I seriously can’t wait for summer and this is the first year that I can truly say that.  I can’t wait to sleep in, kick back with the kids and just chill at the pool.  I may even chill out with one of these smoothies.

Anyway, amongst all this madness of racing to and from everything, I want to give my kids a healthy snack where I can. The weather has been warm and summer-like lately so smoothies are back in my kid’s radar. They love this spinach smoothie as well as this spinach one, but sometimes they want a good old-fashioned creamy smoothie. Who can blame them? This is an easy smoothie to throw together and is perfect this time of year as strawberries are at their peak!afterschool smoothie

strawberry, mango & banana smoothie:

serves two 8-ounce glasses (or 2 kids)

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup vanilla flavored Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen mango – you can use fresh as well, but make sure you throw in some ice cubes.  
  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, (about 4-5) rinsed and stems removed
  • 1 large, ripe banana

Get out your blender and throw in the orange juice, Greek yogurt, mangos, strawberries and banana.

Give it a whirl until blended.

Pour the smoothie into two 9oz glasses, add a fun straw, and call in the kids!Eli gave this smoothie a thumbs up!

Summer here we come!  We love pairing this smoothie with our favorite popcorn.

marin mama’s two favorite recipes

Happy Mothers Day to all you mothers out there!  
I got a head start on Mothers Day yesterday as Eli made me this wonderful bouquet at the farmers market, and I got to see Zoe perform in her jazz band concert.

 Here’s Zoe practicing before her concert.
I got to sit and watch with my 2 favorite guys!
 Then we had an amazing authentic Mexican lunch at El Huarache Loco.
We capped it off with ice cream at Three Twins.
Then it was off to Eli’s baseball game.
After his game, we walked down to Yankee Pier and had a wonderful family dinner outside.
I had this salmon burger below.  Yum!
All in all it was a perfect family day.
So, since it’s Mothers Day and this is a recipe blog, I thought I would share with you my two favorite recipes, as I posted my kid’s two favorites about a week ago.  
 These are the two recipes that I make the most often, just for me.

Both of these recipes would be perfect to serve up for a girls lunch or baby shower finished off with a huge slice of my favorite chocolate cake.

Click on the title below the pictures to link over to the full recipe.
These burgers are my absolute favorite.  I could literally eat them day after day and not get sick of them.  The key ingredient is the tzatzki yogurt sauce as it helps to moisten the burger and gives it that flavor kick.
These burgers are a great make-ahead meal.  All you do is make up the burgers, store them in the refrigerator and saute them up as needed.  They are great for those last minute lunches where you want something healthy, but don’t want to take the time to throw something complicated together.  

I also love that you don’t need a bun with these burgers, as the burger is the bun!  How genius is that?  I tend to eat a lot of carbs, so I feel great when I eat this “carbless” burger.  
I’ll be honest here; I make this salad at least twice a week, if not more.  It’s just the easiest salad to make and the tastiest.  This salad has changed friends from kale haters to kale lovers, seriously!  Every time I run into someone locally who has read my blog, the first recipe they mention is this kale salad.  They say it’s now their favorite salad, and that they make it all the time.  One of my friends even mentioned that she lost 10 pounds from incorporating this salad into her diet.  I love hearing comments like that!  

I have my other kale salad that I love just as much, but there are a few complex ingredients in there that I don’t always have on hand.  This kale recipe just calls for those “pantry” ingredients that we all have lying around the house.  This salad is also a great make-ahead meal as well.  You can make this in the morning and refrigerate it till dinner or the next day.  I tend to eat 1/2 at dinner and then save the rest for lunch or dinner the next day.  

Feel free to play around with this salad.  I use all types of kale, not just the lacinato.  I also am being a bit bolder and add more than a pinch of red pepper!  Rebel, I know!
Today I plan on hitting the gym with my 2 favorite workout peeps and then I get to enjoy an afternoon of watching Zoe dance in her spring recital.  I am so blessed that I get to spend this weekend with my 3 favorite people in the world, John, Zoe and Eli.  
Being a mother is simply the best gift of all.
Have a wonderful day!

What I ate last week, week 1

Here is my new post as promised. I thought this would be a fun series to add in addition to my weekly recipe posts, as it’s a view into my day-to-day eating habits (for those of you that care or are interested).  Welcome to my food diary.  This so called food diary may give you some new lunch or dinner ideas, show you how I portion up my meals and give you a bit if insight as to who I really am.  You will see that I am a big fan of leftovers and a creature of habit, especially when it comes to breakfast.  I will post Monday through Friday’s meals from the prior week. I may occasionally post a weekend meal, but I like to have my weekends off from photographing food, so maybe not.  

6:00 am.  OK, here is what I have for breakfast almost every morning, I kid you not.  I may mix it up a bit on occasion, (steel cut oatmeal, Greek yogurt with granola) but I typically have a bowl of cereal every day, yes every day, and I have been doing so since I was 17.  Eggs and toast do not cut it for me in the morning and I can’t have anything to sweet or I will crash.  Cereal does the trick and fills me up till lunch. 
So what’s in the bowl you ask?  I throw in a combination of the three cereals below.  
I put the Ezekiel on the bottom (or grape nuts), throw a bit of Cafe Fanny on next (this is the best granola and it’s locally made in Berkeley where my best blog buddy Em lives), then I top it off with some Fiber One (you know, to get some extra fiber in).  If I’m not having a smoothie that day, I will throw 2 tablespoons of flax seed in and then top it all off with whatever fresh berry is in season.  Strawberries and blueberries are in now, so I throw one of them on there.  I know it’s a carb heavy breakfast, and a pretty big bow of cereal, but it works for me and I never tire of it. 
I’m not skipping over the coffee, no way.  I need my cup of joe in the morning. I have about one to two cups of Peet’s coffee every morning.  I brew up some Major Dickason mixed with their house decaf and I drink it black, thank you!
That is basically my daily breakfast routine. Just so you know, I am not going to post breakfast again unless I have something different, as who wants to see the same picture over and over!



I made up some chickpea veggie burgers that morning for the week and decided to have one for lunch along with my favorite kale salad.  I always drink water as well.  Basically I have coffee in the morning with breakfast and then it’s water the rest of the day!  I drink about eight to ten16oz glasses like the one below. To give the water some taste I sometimes add some fresh mint leaves or sliced cucumber.


Monday is one of our crazy nights.  Eli has baseball till 6:00 and Zoe has dance till 6:45 and doesn’t get home till 7:15, so it’s one of those nights where I am basically a short order cook.  We typically have leftovers on this night (if there are any) or it’s grilled panini night.  We were lucky this Monday, as John had made some amazing beef pho the night before, and we all had that for leftovers along with some asparagus on the side.  


Yup, we all had this homemade ice-cream sandwich below.  I made the cookies (recipe next week) and inserted them with Three Twins Madagascar vanilla ice cream.  Delish!



Tuesday is the day where my peeps and I train with our trainer, Stein, after drop off.  I’m always hungry about an hour or so after the workout, (because he works us so hard) so I tend to have a smoothie.  The smoothie below is my spinach power smoothie.  Another reason I have a smoothie on this day is to hold me over till lunch because I work hot lunch at the kid’s school and don’t get to eat till 1:15 or so (that’s late for me).  I eat breakfast at 6:00 each morning so I hungry by noon.
BTW, the kids have an amazing lunch program.  Their lunch is provided by Good Earth, which is an amazing all organic Grocery Store.  The lunch fare is all organic, the meats are organic and hormone free and everything is made fresh that day.  Yes, this is a public school we are talking about, not private.  Parents volunteer to serve the kids lunch each day.  It takes 10 parent volunteers to serve up lunch every day.  We serve it behind serving stations just like a caterer does at an event, and we have chafing dishes that hold the hot entrees. 
This is just a photo of the fruit and veggie table.  I pushed all the stuff together so you could see it.
Tuesday is burrito/taco and enchilada day.  The kids can either have a burrito or taco anyway they want or an enchilada.  We serve them the rice, beans, turkey meat and cheese into their taco or tortilla,( basically whatever they want in it) and then they can top it with fresh salsa or sour cream.  The kids also get seasonal & organic fruits, fresh veggies, Caesar salad with homemade dressing and croutons, hard boiled eggs, whole-wheat bagels and organic vanilla yogurt which the kids can top with some amazing homemade granola.  Good Earth rocks and we are so lucky that they provide this amazing and nutritious lunch for our kids.  Anyway, the reason I am talking about the kid’s hot lunch is because I always treat myself to a burrito when I work Tuesday lunch.
Here is a photo of the burrito before I rolled it up.


Tuesday is another hectic night and I am usually tired from my workout as well as serving hot lunch for 3 hours, so I like us to have something that is easy to whip up.  As you saw, I made these garbanzo bean burgers on Monday so we had these for dinner along with my kale salad, yet again.  I warned you that I loved kale salad and that I am obsessed, are you seeing it now?  Zoe ate these burgers with us, but Eli is not a fan, so when I sauteed up the burgers I cooked him up a cheese quesadilla.  Surprise, surprise, my kids are not fans of kale salad so I steamed them up some broccoli.  I know this might have seemed like a short order cook night, well it was, but some nights you gotta do what you gotta do.  


Ice cream sandwiches for dessert again, but with Three Twins sea salted caramel ice cream in the middle.  



What, kale salad again?  Are you really surprised?  I had some leftover kale salad a piece of whole-grain bread topped with some not so healthy Jiff peanut butter.  I know, Jiff, really? I am trying to convert to the healthier stuff, but I really love Jiff and sometimes I just want good old- fashioned peanut butter.   Don’t criticize me!


Wednesday is a night where we are all home and can eat at a normal time like a civilized family.  This is the night where I tend to make up a nice meal that everyone enjoys.  We had turkey burgers with the fixings and some asparagus on the side.  You will be seeing a lot of asparagus on our plates, as it’s in season right now and so tasty.


No dessert for me, as I needed a break from 3 nights in a row of ice-cream sandwiches.  I made the kids an ice-cream cone though.



I love this lunch.  It’s a blueberry and spinach smoothie (recipe soon) that I paired up with multigrain toast topped with walnut butter (I had a healthier nut butter today, see Em) and fig jam.  It was delicious and satisfying.  It was also raining out so I wanted a warm and gooey sandwich.


Thursday was cold and rainy and I had lacrosse pick up, so I wanted to have something quick and comforting.  I still had some chickpea burgers around so John and I each had one of those paired with my favorite creamless tomato soup (which can be made in 25 minutes folks).  The kids had the tomato soup with grilled cheese panini’s.


I took another night off from dessert, but the kids had ice cream cones, yet again.  The cold does not stop them from enjoying ice cream.  



Friday is usually the day that I like to meet up with a friend for lunch.  I met up with my friend Carolyn at one of my favorite lunch spots, Rustic Bakery.  I had this Asian chicken salad below.  I also brought along my own water, because why buy bottled water in a plastic bottle when you can be drinking out of glass!  Carolyn and I did split a rather large cookie for dessert, but I forgot to get a photo of it, sorry.  It was a dark chocolate cookie with white chocolate chips in it. Yum!


On Fridays we tend to go out to dinner, as Marin mama needs a night off from the kitchen.  This night we went to one of our favorite spots, Avatar’s Punjabi Burrito, which is located in Larkspur.  I had a glass of wine, (because it was Friday) and these amazing pumpkin enchiladas. They are superb!  This photo does not do them justice as I took it quickly with my iPhone because people were staring at me wondering why I was taking photos of my dinner.  I am still getting use to photographing food in public.


For dessert we headed down the street to Modern Cookie Company. This is the place where I got the idea for my s’more cookie.  John and I split this s’more cookie (just look at that thing, yum) and it was decadent.  Here I am going from no desserts in two days to two deserts in one day.  I figured I really only had one dessert as I split both of them, right?  Eli had the s’more cookie as well.  Zoe had a dark chocolate cookie with butterscotch and chocolate chips baked inside.  She raved it was one of the best cookies she has ever had.  

This dessert was the perfect way to end the week!

I am human and I may not make the healthiest choices all the time. I want people to see this diary so they know I am being real here and not trying to come across as someone who eats only the healthiest and most natural ingredients.  I try to eat with real ingredients most of the time, and I know my morning cereal choice is not the healthiest, but I am slowly willing to convert. I am in the process of trying wheat berries and other natural substitutes in lieu of my morning bowl of cereal.  Stay tuned and see what I come up with.  Also, please send me any suggestions of your favorite breakfast or lunch foods.  Cheers for now!

turkey burgers with cilantro-lime mayonnaise and kale slaw

turkey burgers with cilantro-lime mayonnaise and kale slaw

turkey burgers with cilantro-lime mayonnaise and kale slawYou’re all in for a treat as you’re getting three recipes in one post here.  You heard me right, three recipes in one post!  I treat you well, don’t I?  Also, I want to let you know that all three of these recipes can be made ahead of time.  Now, that’s really treating you well.

Lets start the talk with turkey burgers.  To be honest with you, I have never been a big turkey burger fan because most of the ones I’ve tried have either been dry or lacking in the flavor department.  What’s the point of eating a meat burger if it tastes like cardboard? When we do eat a meat burger, we use buffalo meat because it has 70% to 90% less fat compared to beef and 50% less cholesterol.  It’s also higher in protein, iron and all the omega and amino acids, so you actually feel a bit better about eating meat.  Anyway, I decided to give turkey burgers a shot after this recipe from Real Simple magazine jumped out at me.  This turkey burger is not dry at all and it’s full of flavor.  Now, I must admit that the cilantro-lime mayo and the kale slaw help to knock this burger out of the ballpark.  I have sort of become a cilantro-lime mayo addict lately, which is probably not a good thing.  I have been substituting Greek yogurt in place of the mayo on occasion just to make myself feel a bit better.

Eli is typically not a burger fan at all.  When its burger night at the Grandy house he tends to cringe and sulk, but not when it’s turkey burger night.  He actually loves these burgers and I really think it’s the cilantro-lime mayo that has made the difference.

We like to use these mini brioche buns below for our burgers. They are smaller than a regular burger bun so you don’t have all that extra bun hanging off the side, and they tend to fancy up the burger experience.  I toast them up a bit under the broiler or on the grill.

turkey burgers with cilantro-lime mayonnaise and kale slaw:

recipe from Real Simple
serves 4
  • 1 pound dark-meat turkey (93 percent lean or less)
  • 2-3 scallions, sliced - I used 3 scallions, one time I even used 4, rebel, I know!
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, leaves pulled off stem and chopped
  • salt and pepper
In a medium bowl, gently combine (with a fork, spatula or gently with your hands) the turkey, scallions, mustard and thyme.
Note:  When you mix your seasonings into the meat, it’s important to remember that the more you handle the meat, and the more you squish it around, the more dense your burger will be. You might also squeeze out some of the juices and end up with a drier burger.Form the mixture into four patties and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Look there is a daddy burger and next to it is the little bitty Eli burger.
You can make this a make-ahead meal simply by assembling the patties in the morning, and covering and refrigerating them till dinner. 
Tip:  use your thumb to create a dimple or well in the center of the patty, as this will ensure the burgers cook evenly without plumping up.  Start cooking the burgers indentation side up.
You can either grill up the burgers 6 to 8 minutes per side or cook them up in a skillet.  If you’re going to cook them up in a skillet then heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook the patties until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes per side.
 Tip: Don’t press down on the patties when you grill them, or you will squeeze out and loose the flavorful juices. 

cilantro-lime mayonnaise:

makes enough for 4 burgers

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise – regular mayo not miracle whip
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
This mayo has a bit of a kick to it and I have been using it on tons of sandwich recipes.
Anyway, I really think this mayo has helped Eli to become a turkey burger fan.
cilantro-lime mayonnaise ingredientsIn a small bowl or ramekin, whisk together the mayonnaise, minced cilantro, lime juice and garlic until combined.
mixing together the cilantro-lime mayonnaiseYep, that is all there is to it.  Refrigerate mayo until needed.  This mayo can even be made a day ahead of time.
cilantro-lime mayonnaise

creamy kale slaw:

recipe adapted from Real Simple
makes enough for 4 burgers
  • 3-4 lacinato kale leaves (depends on size), washed, de-stemmed & thinly sliced – the original recipe called for 2 romaine lettuce leaves, but I only had kale on hand so I used that instead and loved it.
  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely grated
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise – regular not miracle whip
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • pinch of salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the sliced kale and grated carrot and toss to coat.
Refrigerate slaw until needed.Get out your toasted buns, dab some cilantro-lime mayo on the bottom, put your burger on next and then top it with the kale slaw.

We tend to pair our burgers with just a side vegetable or kale chips as the burgers are filling enough.
Like turkey burgers?  Then you need to try our favorite turkey burger.  It’s the bomb!
If you’re not a fan of meat burgers, then try my chickpea burgers.
They are just as satisfying as any meat burger in my opinion!

tomatillo and avocado salsa

tomatillo and avocado salsa
tomatillo and avocado salsa
OK, I tried to make this salsa look attractive and exciting, but hey let’s face it, it’s salsa.  It may not look enticing, but it tastes great.  I’m posting this salsa recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, (which is this Saturday in case you forgot). Are you celebrating Cinco de Mayo?  We’re not exactly celebrating it, but we’re definitely going to consume some Mexican fare and have ourselves a margarita or two.

This is the perfect salsa to bring to a party or to serve up at home with your favorite chips and Mexican fare.  It’s got a bit of a kick to it, but not too much where your kids won’t enjoy it.  Eli kept dipping his chips in it, so I know it wasn’t too spicy for him. 

tomatillo and avocado salsa:

recipe adapted from the food network
    • 1 small red onion or 1/2 of a normal sized one, quartered 
    • 1 jalapeño, quartered, seeds optional – I omitted the seeds
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 4 medium tomatillos, (about 8 ounces) husked, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
    • 1 Hass avocado, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
These are tomatillos in case you were not sure what they looked like.  They don’t look so pretty on the outside, but take away their outer skin and underneath you will find a bright green beauty. 
Remove the husk from the tomatillos and wash off the sticky film.  They are sticky little suckers until you rinse them.
Coarsely chop the tomatillos.
 Put the onion, jalapeno, and garlic in a food processor and finely chop.
Add the tomatillos, avocado, and salt and pulse until chopped but still chunky. 
Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cilantro.
 Blend in the cilantro.
That’s all there is to it.  Pretty easy!
Grab some chips and dig in!
tomatillo and avocado salsa
Happy Cinco de Mayo!