Review Brassica (aka my fave restaurant in Columbus, Ohio)

Hey guys! Just dropping in to tell you how much I adore a this little gem of a restaurant Brassica in the Short North area of Columbus.  To be very honest, I rarely eat out. I love cooking and I know it saves me a lot of money to make the majority of my meals at home.

However, it’s fun to go out and try new things sometimes so in the spirit of Project Have More Fun we decided to have an impromptu evening “out on the town” last week. We hit up the Short North area in downtown Columbus. I love this area because there are so many restaurants, bars, art galleries and cute little stores. Typically, we just walk up and down the 3/4 mile or so long street and peep into the art galleries while sampling the world’s best ice cream  on tiny silver spoons. Well, this evening was not atypical ;). We did just that and while we window-shopped we were keeping our eye out for a unique place to eat dinner. However, as soon as we saw Brassica our shopping and searching ended. We unanimously started drifting to the doorway and our dinner decision was made.

Now, I have been to Brassica twice before and I am VERY picky about where I eat so the fact that I wanted to eat here for a third time speaks volumes about how good this place is. Essentially, it is a locally sourced Lebanese Chipotle. I love it! You start by choosing a fluffy freshly made whole wheat pita or a kale/brussel sprout heavy salad topped with lentils. Then, you are able to choose from a bevy of delicious meats, colorful roasted and fresh vegetables and the most amazing sauces. They even have candied lamb bacon which is absolutely hands down one of the best things I have ever eaten.

I got my usual….the salad topped with lentils, chicken schwarma, a dollop of hummus and baba (because I can never decide which I like best) and ALL the veggies (an assortment of roasted carrots and cauliflower, pickled cucumber, radishes and red cabbage. Then, I usually top it all off it with a healthy dose of their house-made hot sauce. img_2011.jpg

If you are in the Columbus area, I highly recommend checking Brassica out. The only concern I have about this place is trying to figure out when I can next go back 🙂

If you are a reader from Columbus (or have visited Columbus), do you have any favorite restaurant suggestions? I would love to hear about them!

Hearty Tahini Cookies

I have always been a huge fan of digestive biscuits, they are hearty, filling and not too sweet which add a perfect element to your tea or coffee morning routine without being to heavy. These cookies are extremely easy and almost impossible to mess up, while being vegan and gluten free! 

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They may not be the prettiest cookie that has ever graced my kitchen but they are certainly one of the most satisfying without all the guilt.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup one for one Bob’s Red Mill Flour 
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 2 flax eggs*
  • 1/4 cup of tahini
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of vanilla coconut milk
  • (Optional 1/2 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts)

 

 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare your flax eggs (recipe here)* set aside, Mix together your dry ingredients in a medium size bowl, in a separate bowl whisk together your wet ingredients, gradually add dry ingredients until well mixed but do not over stir. (batter will be slightly sticky and that’s ok) Spoon onto a non stick cookie sheet leaving a slight amount of space in-between cookies. Bake for 8-12minutes or until the tops jusssttt slightly start to brown.

Let cool on sheet for five minutes and then place on a cooling rack. You can keep on shelf for 3-5 days or these also freeze really well actually and are easy to warm up when you need them in the morning!

Enjoy!

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The Best Homemade Pizza

Recently, I have been craving a simple good quality pizza. My mom is from upstate New York so I spent my childhood eating drippy foldable slices of heaven. My dad is from Ohio and now that we have lived in Columbus for 8 plus years I have learned that Columbus, Ohio pizza is another beast entirely. The pizza here is on a cracker thin crust and is cut into (wait for it…) SQUARES. I don’t want to complain because I truly believe that there is no such thing as a bad pizza but pizza cut into squares just doesn’t make logical sense to me. Some pieces are all crust and some are just gooey middle bits, I just don’t get it? Anyways, I decided if I wanted good pizza, I was going to have to make some.

I wanted to keep the topping pretty simple and I am a big fan of fresh mozzarella so I chose to make pizza Margherita (essentially a simple tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves). I googled the best homemade Margherita pizza recipe and I decided on this recipe. I loved that I had all the ingredients except the tomatoes on hand already.

I made the dough Sunday around lunch time while I was prepping meals for the week and let it rise for 2 hours. Then, I stuck it in the fridge until around 5:30 pm when I took it out to warm up at room temperature while I preheated the oven.

Then I assembled all my ingredients: a simple tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, chopped basil, fresh mozzarella, dough and olive oil (note the mood music which is a must).

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I made 1/2 the recipe since there was only two people eating this pizza and the recipe made a nice sized 10-inch pizza.

Topped and ready for the oven…

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Post-baking:

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Note: I HIGHLY recommend rolling out your pizza on parchment paper so you can easily pick up and transfer the unbaked pizza to your pre-heated pizza stone. It is the best pizza making trick I every learned.

Final product (Two seconds before it was demolished)

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Was it worth all the work? Definitely. The crust was so light and slightly crispy and the topping to crust ratio was spot on. If you plan ahead like I did and prep your dough early on in the day, this pizza comes together fairly quickly when it comes time to make dinner.

Final Verdict: I highly recommend this recipe to anyone who is craving a simple and delicious pizza. Just don’t ruin it by cutting it into squares 😉

It’s Ok To Be Sad

Stressedinside-out-bigcry-sadness

Sad

Overworked

Cranky 

These are all words that I would say have aptly described me these past few months.

I felt/feel ashamed every time I admit those feelings. Like for some reason it means failure on my part that those feelings exist. However sadness isn’t a sign of weakness or failure, it is a sign of strength. Admitting you are overwhelmed allows you to be open to a world of potential strength and happiness. How can you know when you are truly completely happy if you don’t first allow yourself to feel a wide range of emotions that also include the bad kind. But is there really a bad kind of emotion?

Sadness increases motivation

Have you ever been on that happy high that you never want to come down from? The kind where you can’t stop smiling even if you wanted to, the kind of happiness where if someone brushed up against you they would take some of your sunshine on their way. It’s euphoric, your body rejoices in good endorphins. I dare say it even becomes addicted. This is a healthy addiction however because it increases your motivation in times when you are feeling sad and dejected to, you guessed it, be happy! Once you know how good happy feels you know in your mind how to make things better. You have BEEN to that light at the end of the tunnel and now you have a map and you know the way to get there. You are motivated and you are strong, and sadness is going to help you get there.

Sadness improves judgement

This one may seem hard to believe but once you think about the logic behind it you’ll have a better idea what I mean! Sadness removes the so called “halo effect” that surrounds some situations and allows you to clearly make judgements that aren’t completely based on the fear of happiness or unhappiness. It is much easier to make a decision when you are not feeling slap happy and all “sure lets spend $100 dollars on this pair of leggings I’ll never wear but I am sure I eventually will because it’ll continue to make me happy” This is a fairly shallow example but you get the picture. Just think, it’s promoting a more attentive thinking style because you are more aware of how decisions will make you feel.

Sadness brings joy 

If you haven’t seen Inside Out by Pixar Studios I would highly recommended it. I won’t spoil it but I will tell you that Pixar was on to something in their portrayal of the character Sadness. Sadness literally saves the day, the mind needs it, and so does that heart. In those moments of sadness cherish the things you can learn from it. But also be aware of how you interact with other people as a result of it. If you become snappy or cranky, take a step back and consider your actions. Also be willing to apologize for being unkind when it is likely not that person(s) fault. If it is someone else who is making you feel these feelings now would be a good time to also take a step back from them. It is wise to evaluate how other people make you feel, both good and bad.

So my friends, let me just tell you from experience. Sadness happens, sadness and anger is very real. But instead of beating yourself up about it, feeling like a failure, or shutting yourself off from others. Remind yourself that it is normal and it will be ok. Allow yourself to be in the moment even if it is sadness and reap the benefits.

 

Something I Love: Spotify

Something I loving right now is Spotify. I know it isn’t a novel concept or anything but I had a realization yesterday that I had listened to it almost constantly all day. For just over $12 bucks a month I can listen to any song I want. Also, I love the playlist aspect that lets me select a tailored playlist depending on the mood I am in.

Here is how I used Spotify yesterday:

Morning studying: I wanted something relaxing to start the day so I put on the “Infinite Acoustic” playlist. I love having soothing music play in the background and it is a great way to start the day on a positive note and in a relaxed state of mind.

 On the way to work: I listened to John Mayer because he is coming to Columbus in a few weeks and I wanted to familiarize myself with his music beforehand.

Lunch break: I needed to mentally defrag so I listened to “Acoustic Pop”. Can you tell I love my acoustic?

On the way home: I was feeling a little melancholy on the drive home so I put on a playlist called “Songs to Sing in the Car” hoping it would help cheer me up. A little peek of what’s on this playlist: Beautiful Day by U2, Castle on the Hill by Ed Sheeran and Fight Song by Rachel Platten (love this one!).

 While cooking dinner: I turned on the “Relax and Unwind” playlist, which is a nice mix of some slower current music (Barcelona by George Ezra is the best!)

If you enjoy music you should definitely check this app out. It is worth every penny (and no this is not an endorsed post or anything, I just love it that much).

Do you use any apps that you absolutely love/can’t live without? I would love your suggestions!

Cookie Pie for Breakfast

There are few desserts that I want and make and eat continually as I do with cookie pie . It has been the perfect standby for the Super Bowl, birthdays, picnics… really anything. It’s the perfect combination of goey, chocolate and satisfying, and you can eat it and not feel guilty for breakfast!

The best thing about this recipe is that it is vegan, gluten free and nut free. As long as you make provisions for the chocolate chips we used the Enjoy Life brand (they are actually super tasty and perfect for baking or snacking.

I also shamelessly like to photograph it as much as possible because it makes me happy and also photographs fantastically if you ask me. This most recent batch got pretty browned on the top and I think it made it look especially appealing.

 

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This was my breakfast this morning with some warmed up coconut milk and cinnamon.

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Sometimes you just need to treat yourself, and this treat will leave you feeling satisfied and not on a guilt trip. Enjoy!

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/05/31/deep-dish-cookie-pie/

Project Have More Fun

Cara and I are trying to have more fun. This might sound like kind of an odd statement but let me explain. We are both in very busy times of our lives. I am working full-time establishing my career as a corporate dietitian. Cara is going to school full-time to become an occupational therapist and is applying to grad schools while simultaneously working as a medical scribe (honestly I don’t know how that girl does it!). It seems like we are always going from the time we wake up in the morning until late in the evenings. Recently, we both realized we needed to make room for some more relaxing downtime in our lives and what would keep us more accountable then if we made plans together? We decided that once a week we are going to try and plan an activity that we could both enjoy.

Two weeks ago, we kicked off Project Have More Fun by taking a yoga class at a studio that is only a couple miles from our house called Balanced Yoga. Balanced Yoga opened last year and we have always wanted to check it out. The interior has a really neat vibe with multiple studios, hard wood floors and open loft style rooms. We took a relaxing Vinyasa flow and enjoyed the dynamic and structure of the class very much. I look forward to going back and trying out a hot yoga class (something I have always wanted to do but never been brave enough to attempt on my own).

Last week, we decided to go out for brunch on Sunday. We chose a restaurant called Alchemy that serves healthy and creative smoothies and smoothie bowls and is run by a local registered dietitian. The food was amazing! Cara chose the Rio Bowl and I ordered the Cherry Cheezecake Bowl. Both were absolutely incredible. Mine was very rich and had an amazing crumbled no-bake bite on top that added great texture to the whole bowl.

This week, we are attending a class at the Wonder Jam on creating a great morning routine. The class promises that you will leave with the perfect customized morning routine. Honestly, my mornings are often very rushed feeling so I think a re-evaluation of my current routine should be really beneficial. So far Project Have More Fun has been a success! We have spent more time together the past couple weeks then we have in the past couple months and I look forward to coming up with more fun mini adventures in the future.

My Love Affair With Oatmeal

Now you might be thinking that’s a dramatic title for something as “mundane” as oatmeal, but let me tell you this is not an overestimation of my feelings for the food. I am in a very committed relationship with oatmeal and it’s probably the reason I am still alive today.

Instead of telling you why I love oatmeal I will show you, because I was scrolling through my camera roll yesterday and realized that oatmeal is by far the star of the show and I have wayy too many pictures of it!

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This is a peach blueberry oatmeal with a whipped coconut yogurt mixed with a banana on top

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This is what I eat for breakfast everyday currently, it’s super easy and I personally think it’s the one that keeps me the most full. I use old fashioned oats and coconut milk, with a banana and sunflower butter and TADAH! Best.Breakfast.Ever

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If you aren’t in the mood for cooking lots of brunch locations have oatmeal as an opinion. Here is once of my favorites from a place called Dough Mama in Columbus! It comes with nuts, fruit, and a baby pitcher of your milk of choice.

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This one was so so so so good but takes a little more time because you have to stew the apples first. After stewing the apples I add my oats and stir in some coconut flakes and craisins for a nice texture.

img_3611In the mood for mixing it up? Why not try some oat cakes? They are super simple, gluten free, vegan and by far one of the most amazing things that has even been in my breakfast life.

I am planning on doing a whole post on how to cook oats and the different appliances I use to meal prep and cook a bunch at a time. But for now, I am off to have a bowl before school.

Cara

 

Something I Love: Vitamin Tea

Today I want to chat about something I am loving right now. Something that I would have never thought I would say that I love. I AM LOVING HOT TEA. Is that weird? Don’t get me wrong, I still drink coffee every morning (I am not quite ready to make the switch to tea in the morning yet) but the rest of the day I am all about tea. To me, coffee tastes like coffee regardless of the type or flavor (I am sure there are a lot of people who would like to vehemently disagree with me here) but the variety of tastes/flavors that comprise the tea world continue to astound me. Also, unlike coffee, tea is easy to drink all day long and can be used for different purposes (as a stimulant, a relaxant or even for medicinal reasons).

Did you know that there are five major varieties of tea: white, green, oolong, black, and pu-erh (1)? All of these varieties come from the same plant but the way the leaves of this plant are processed after picking is what changes the variety. After processing into one of these five varieties, tea is then flavored.

My absolutely favorite teas are the types that taste sweet without having to add any additional sweeteners. I have always loved the spicy sweet Good Earth Tea but hands down I have fallen hard for this tea from Harney & Sons:

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It is has such a robust cinnamon sweet flavor and one cup has ½ the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. The tea bags are silky which makes a cup of this tea feel special and indulgent. I found mine at Target. I was excited to see that they also make a green tea with coconut flavor that I am going to try next around. I feel like I am only discovering the tip of the iceberg in terms of tea but I am excited to continue to experiment with it in the future.

Side Note: Not only are there a ton of flavors and varieties of tea but tea also has a lot of health benefits. If you are extremely interested you can read more about the health benefits of tea here: http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/health-benefits-linked-to-drinking-tea

I am curious to know what everyone’s favorite tea is. If you have suggestions feel free to leave it in the comments below. I am always looking for new flavors!

  1. http://www.arborteas.com/pages/Tea-Varieties.html

Vegan Crispy “Chicken” Tenders

Recently I have been into experimenting with tofu, as soy was one of the six foods I avoided during my elimination diet. However I have begun to start reintroducing it into my meals and it’s been fun playing with the versatile food that tofu is. Currently I have been using firm for most of my recipes with the exception of my smoothies in which I use silken. I thought I would share one of my favorite new recipes after Candace shared her incredible chicken taco boats! 

This recipe is something I got the idea from off of Pinterest, however I have been unable to find the original source as there are multiple ones. So I will say this is inspired by a village! I loved this recipe because of how quick and easy it has been for me to make, and there’s only three ingredients!

Oil Free Vegan Crispy “Chicken” Tenders

(vegan, vegetarian, gluten free)

Ingredients

1 package of firm tofu (I used the WFM organic firm)

1/2-3/4 cup of nutritional yeast

Mrs.Dash Original Seasoning Blend 

 

Instructions

Pre heat the oven to 350 F, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper

Carefully drain your tofu from the package and pat dry with a paper towel but be sure to leave some moisture.

Once towel dried cut the tofu into tender like planks, I made mine into twelve slices of equal width.

Take a small plate and place your nutritional yeast in it, I did mine in segments so that there was never too much spilling off the plate.

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Lay each plank into the nutritional yeast and press gently, flip over and do the same action again, I also quickly did each of the edges for an additional crisp factor.

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Once you have coated the tender lay on the baking sheet and sprinkle with your favorite seasoning. I used Mrs. Dash, but you could also use Italian or garlic powder, black pepper, there are lots of options!

Now place the coated seasoned planks into the oven for 30-35min. I found any longer made them a little too chewy.

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Remove from the oven and allow them to cool on a cooling rack for at least ten minutes.

I dipped mine in honey mustard and vegan mayo (drool)

There you have it! Easy, oil free “chicken” tenders!

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