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Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Recipes

I’ve been doing a lot of cooking the past few days!  And I would like to share a few of the vegan recipes that I created – my whole family enjoyed them!

First,  I have stuffed peppers.  This is really just a Spanish rice recipe stuffed into some green bell peppers 😉

  • First, get some brown rice cooking.
  • Then, chop off the tops and remove the seeds from some bell peppers.  Dice up the pepper caps along with some stewed tomatoes.  Cook up about 3/4 pound mock meat crumbles, like Morningstar brand, in a frying pan.  Add the peppers, tomatoes, and some corn to the pan.  Stir in 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, and 1/8 tsp pepper to the mix.
  • Add the rice to the veggie mix, stuff the peppers and bake until the pepper is softened.

We had these for dinner the other night, and my whole family loved them!! They used ground chicken and added some cheese into their peppers, but they were easily transformed into a full vegan meal.  Just one pepper was so filling, and I especially loved how spicy there were 🙂

The other day I discovered a great vegan Spinach and Artichoke dip!  It’s actually just Sabra spinach and artichoke hummus warmed up in the microwave for a few seconds!  Tastes just like the real, creamy, cheesy thang!

Then, last night I made dinner so that my mom would have time to go to pilates with me!   I served:

Summertime Succotash from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone  (the only change I made: edamame instead of lima beans)

Seared Portobellos from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan  by Dreena Burton (I added some sliced onions to the pan, too)

Emma’s Garlic Bread My creation!  I lined a baking sheet with foil, sliced Italian sesame bread, and arranged it on the pan.  I drizzled olive oil on one side, then flipped them over.  I minced two cloves of garlic and mixed it with some olive oil, then painted the mixture on the other side of the bread with a pastry brush.  (I also drizzled some Parmesan cheese on a few for the cheese-eaters.)  I popped them in the oven on 450* for 10 minutes.  So crunchy and delicious!

All those these recipes were ridiculously delicious and tasty, but I loved them most because my family loved them too!  I hate to be an inconvenience to my family when I eat vegan, but I get such a high off the feeling that my family understands and appreciates the food I like to eat, too!

Are your vegan recipes a hit with the whole family?



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Filed under Food, Life, Recipes

New Zealand Chili

Today has been a great day.

Firstly, I woke up with a headache, which most people would consider a downer, but I like to think of it as a little souvenir from all the fun I had last night! 😉  It’s been a while lol.  The great thing about my body is that whenever I have a headache, I can usually cure it with some food.

French toast with PB&J…and a smashed grilled banana.  Worked like a charm, ohhh yes indeed.

Secondly, it’s a beautifully sunny day outside, and I went for a fantastic run/walk around the city.  On this perfectly crisp autumn afternoon, there were tons of gorgeous boats out on the harbor.   I think I will miss this city ❤

Thirdly, my big brother graduates from Brown University today!!!!

He’s definitely one of my role models.  I’ve always looked up to him, basking in his genius 😉  He now has a degree in Computational Biology (whatever that is), and he has worked his butt off the get it.  So yes, I get bragging rights!

I really wish I could have been there, but also not really, because who wants to sit through a graduation ceremony?  I do wish I could be there for the celebrations, of course.  And to give him a bug hug and tell him how proud I am of him!  Congratulations, David!  YOU DID IT. (PS – we can celebrate when you arrive in less than 2 weeks!!!!)

Fourthly, I had a quick chat with my dear friend Tara!

She has been studying abroad in Ireland, and she gave me some great advice:

“Enjoy your last few weeks…seriously, make EVERYTHING count.  It goes sosooso fast, I cant believe I wont be going back to Galway.”
It was so good to hear from her, made even better with the promise of a proper Skype sesh in the near future!  It’s been ages!
Fifthly, I finished my Maori Leadership Presentation!
The photo of Bill Clinton doing the hongi definitely enhances my slideshow. I’m glad I found it.  Even my note cards are ready! I’m all set to go for Wednesday.  I’m only slightly stressed because I haven’t heard much from the other two members of my group…so cross your fingers for me!
Sixthly, I made a great dinner!  I’ve been craving chili for a while now, so I thought it would be a perfect Sunday night meal on a beautiful autumn day like today.
New Zealand Chili
**note – there is nothing “New Zealand-y about this recipe.  I just made it in NZ lol
First, I started by sauteing a chopped onion, carrot, and three cloves of garlic in a large pot.
I wasn’t sure what to do about seasonings, so I am really glad that I found this in the “International” section. I added some to the veggies.
Soon, I added some sausage which frankly, we are trying to get rid of.  They are sort of cheap and disgusting.  I figured cooking them in the chili would make them less appealing…
Things began to go a bit downhill from here.  The sausage was revoltingly greasy, so much so that I even had to pour some of it out.  Then, I got nervous because at the store I couldn’t find a can of crushed tomatoes (what I usually use as a base).  I got this tomato paste, and with some water it ended up working well.
Then, when I went open up the can of diced tomatoes, it was basically half crushed tomatoes and half diced tomatoes.  DOH!  I just added a few spoonfuls of the chunks.  But now I have tons leftover!  Perhaps I’ll be making another pot soon.
I added a can of mixed beans, plus more chili seasoning and even some cayenne pepper, to taste.  It ended up being a pretty decent pot of chili!
It was nice and spicy, the way I like it (sorry, Hannah! lol).  The chili was made even more better with some of the crispy cheddar crackers that Hannah’s Nana sent us!
The perfect meal 🙂
The only un-fun thing that happened today was that Alex left 😦  These past two weeks were quite the roller-coaster for me, and they FLEW by, to say the least.  It was great to have Alex here because of all the fun stuff we did, but I am so so so thankful that he was here when I got the news about my Nanny.  He served as the perfect distraction and did a great job at cheering me up 🙂  Plus, it was just so nice to have a close friend with us: he was the little bit of home that I needed.  We are going to miss you, Alex!
But really the most important thing he did for me was renew my love of New Zealand.  With my homesickness and boredom, I sort of lost sight of how lucky I am to be here.  But seeing everything new again through his eyes makes me so excited for my last month here!  I am definitely going to follow Tara’s advice…I LOVE NEW ZEALAND!
What is your favorite ingredient in chili?


Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, Recipes, Running

Lazy Girl Baked Ziti

Last night Hannah, Alex, and I were trying to decide what to do for dinner.  We knew we wanted something easy, something filling, something cheap, (and I wanted something comforting!).  My solution?

Baked Ziti – Lazy College Girl Style

This really only takes like 15 minutes of preparation, then only about 10 more for baking.  And it always comes out right 🙂

First, I cooked pasta and poured in a can of sauce and a few squirts of Italian Herb Paste.  Then, I sauteed an onion and some cloves of garlic.  Added that into the pasta, too.

Then, I put a layer into a baking pan, then a layer of shredded cheese on top.  Then, add the rest of the past…

And yes, more shredded cheese on top!  Bake it for about 10 minutes – until the cheese is melted and a bit crusty on top.

Lucky us, Alex also cooked some chicken in garlic and pasta sauce!  It turned into a proper feast.

Two words: Dig in!

It was everything we’d hoped it would be 🙂  Italian food always does the trick!

Today was the day of my Nanny’s funereal, so I have decided to have another quiet day.  I will try and get some work done (I have a paper and a presentation due Wednesday).  I will skype with my family when they can.  I will even try to bake something…

Any easy or cheerful baking suggestions?



Filed under Food, Life, New Zealand, Recipes

Microwave Broccoli Quiche

I want to thank everyone so much for your kind words about the loss of my grandmother yesterday.  I still want to go home so bad it makes me cry, and I miss my Nanny so much it hurts, but it means so much to me that I have such a strong and loving support system.  It really does help.  Also, Hannah and Alex encouraged me to go out for Indian food and cookies, play kings, and go to trivia last night, which was so much fun :).  It definitely cheered me up and helped me feel a bit back to normal.

This morning, I made a pretty good attempt at getting stuff done while trying to keep my mind off things.  But then of course, as soon as I let up mid-morning, sadness hit me again.  It was the best timing though, really: it was just about time to leave for a much-needed yoga class.

Miraculously, I had no trouble focusing and staying in the moment during class.  It really helped me clear my head, and I was in a pretty good mood during the walk home. 🙂  Then, I made myself a nice lunch, which made things even better!  My Nanny’s quiche was pretty legendary, so this easy, dorm-style lunch-for-one was totally inspired by her.

Microwave Broccoli Quiche

Start by microwaving some broccoli for one minute to soften it a bit.

Then, add some cheese slices on top.

In a separate bowl, whisk two eggs with some S&P, then pour them on top of the cheese/broccoli.

Cover and pop that in the microwave for a minute and a half.  Meanwhile, I toasted a piece of wholemeal grain bread and schlepped a little Italian Herb Paste on top.

Using a fork, carefully remove the “quiche” from the bowl and place it on top of the toast.

I also added some salsa on top!

It was a winner!  Not only is it nutritious and the ingredients are cheap, but it was so simple and only took five minutes to make.  And, of course, it was really really yummy.

Now I shall try and survive the afternoon of class…I know I can do it!

Do you have any Grandmother-inspired recipes to share?



Filed under Food, Life, New Zealand, Recipes, Yoga

Homemade Hint-of-Lime Pita Chips

I am proud to say that I finished another paper today! This one is for my internship, to be sent to UVM. I interviewed a few of my students some math questions and how they solved them, then wrote an assessment about math strategies! Fun stuff!

For lunch, I had this wonderful beauty:

A HUGE salad. It started off with salad greens and chopped tomato. Then, I sauteed chopped zucchini and carrots, then threw in some cooked brown rice and an egg at the end. Oh yeah, and two big spoonfuls of hummus and salsa.

It was super filling and satisfying, but it left me wanting more hummus…with crackers. But we ain’t got no crackers! But we have pita bread…and an “oven”….so I decided to make some Pita Chips!

I ripped up bits of pita for nice bite-sized chips. I VERY LIGHTLY dipped them in olive oil, then gave them a dash of salt and, on a whim, a few squeezes of lime juice. I baked them at 230*C for ten minutes.

Uneven, just like the zucchini chips! I blame my microwave/oven…

Doesn’t it just look deceitful! Luckily, I like stuff a little burnt and a lot crunchy.

Homemade Hint-of-Lime Pita Chips! The lime definitely took it up a notch. Craving satisfied! YUM!

The rest of my day was spent in class. First in Maori Culture and Society, we learned about views of land and kinship ties. The Maori believe that they belong to the Earth, not that the Earth belongs to them, so they are huge conservationists and honor their landscape. We could learn a thing or two from these environmentalists. In Leadership, we talked about “doing first things first” and talking about our achievements. All very useful information, but it comes so naturally to me. It doesn’t excite me or anything. I need to write a little paper on that, now. Sigh and I don’t want to.

I’ve been struggling with some stress the past few days. Everything is seeming pretty overwhelming: my internship, homework, all the prep for my upcoming 2 weeks of travel. I am trying to remind myself my mantra (stolen from Life is Good) “do what you love, love what you do” but it’s especially hard being away from home! I’m homesick for my support system I’m surrounded by back in VT/PA. I am lucky to have a major component of that support system with me (Hannah <3) but unfortunately, right now, it's like the blind leading the blind!

We both agreed we needed some magic Harry Potter chocolate, so we went across the street for a bar of Cadbury.

It’s working 🙂

How do you deal with stress?



Filed under Food, Life, New Zealand, Recipes, School


I have a ton of exciting news today!

1.  I got a new cousin this morning (baby makes 12!)

Isn’t she gorgeous?! Baby Reese is happy and healthy.  I can’t wait to meet her on the 4th of July once I’m back in the USA. That’ll be her 3-month birthday!

2.  I finished my first draft of my literacy paper!

It’s eight whole pages long…that’s at least two too many.

Revisions should be fun tomorrow morning!  It’s very content-rich, I can assure you that much!

3. I finished writing it at 11:15am – just in time for a 12:05 Ashtanga class!

I realize that I have been pretty secretive about the yoga studios I’ve been going to.  It’s because I wanted to dedicate a whole post about them, but I’m decided to screw that idear

One of the studios that I tried out was the Auckland Yoga Academy.  I was drawn to this studio because it offered the most Ashtanga classes than any other studio I could find in Auckland Central.  When I saw that the first class was just $10, I was convinced!

After trying out a class, I ended up buying a card for $110 (the student discounted price from $130) that is good for 10 one-hour classes.  This is sort of a problem because all of the one-hour classes are Beginner level.  Not to toot my own horn, but I’m obviously not an Ashtanga beginner.  The only higher-level Ashtanga classes they offer are Mysore classes, which would cost me $130 for ten, and they are only at 6am or 4pm.  I decided it would be fine for me to stick with the beginner classes because it will give me an opportunity to focus more attention on alignment and flexibility.  Plus, if I ever feel like I really need to attend a Mysore class, I can “top-up” for just $2.

4.  I may have had a breakthrough on my skin issue!

After two weeks on Finacea and no improvement, I started Acanya yesterday.  Today while I was putting it on, I noticed a little bottle in the box.  How curious. After reading the small print, I learned that the small bottle had to be poured and mixed into the jar before using.

DOH! I started to use Acanya during the winter when things started to look pretty bad, but I hadn’t noticed that I needed to prepare it first!  I do remember thinking that it looked different than the sample I was using over the summer, but clearly I forgot about it lol.  But now that I have the proper formula, lets see if it works!

Also, I broke down and bought my favorite face wash today: Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash. But guess how much it was?…..

nz$14.70 for 175ml 😥   I have been using a “comparable” Clean and Clear wash because it is significantly cheaper, but there is probably a reason why I used Nuetrogena’s for so long.  It felt so good and it felt right when I washed my face with it this afternoon.  (The smell reminded me nostalgically of UVM bathrooms…ok yep that’s really weird) 😛

5.  I made something delicious for dinner!

I adapted this from the Energizing Protein Power Salad on my favorite blog, Oh She Glows

The leftover lentils were feeling neglected.  The rest of the big chard was ready for its last shebang.

Yo, sesame seeds Chopped almonds!  Front and center!

I also sauteed some random veggies we had:  2 large cloves of garlic, 2 very small onions, a half red pepper, and one carrot.

They all got pretty close and personal.

Just the way I like it!!!  In came the quinoa and then things really got crazy.  They got all mixed up!

I also added the juice of one lime, salt, and some cayenne pepper to taste.

And things were complete.


6.  DESSERT! (The most exciting news, of course).

1/2 sliced banana, 1 handful of chocolate buttons, 1 big spoonful of chunky peanut butter, sprinkled with cinnamon, and warmed up in the microwave for 40 seconds.


Do you have any exciting news today?



Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, Recipes, School, Yoga

What is American Food?

In New Zealand, it’s Friday already!  That means in just a few hours, the Noho Marae weekend will begin!  This weekend is run by my university, and it is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the indigenous Maori culture.  That means eating their food and learning their traditional dances (among other stuff, I’m sure) 🙂

But apparently, our first night, we have an international feast.  We were all asked to bring a dish native to our home country.  Which raises the question….

What is American food?

Hannah and I brainstormed things like macaroni and cheese, apple pie, and fried chicken but nothing resonated with us.  We racked our brains for something that we identify as an important, original part of our American diet.  Then, the perfect idea came to mind:

Pasta salad!  We wanted to make something cold, so the we wouldn’t have to worry about keeping it warm/heating it up.  We also wanted to make something healthy, of course, because that’s the way WE Americans eat.  It reminds us of 4th of July parties and a regular dorm-made meal back home!  Our good friend Becca makes the best pasta salad, so we used her recipe as inspiration.

Here’s Becca and Melissa enjoying her pasta salad in our old dorm room!   The other great thing about pasta salad is that it can be made vegan (Melissa used to be vegan, look at her chomping away!)

We made some cute spirally pasta and added black olives, red bell pepper (they call it capsicum!), broccoli, and carrots.  We dressed it with low-fat Italian dressing.  Is it ironic that we are using “Italian” dressing in our “American” dish?  I think yes.

So simple, so delicious, so American (we think!).  Even better, it’s cheap 😉

We hope everyone likes it.  I can’t wait to try a bunch of new food this weekend!


Want to know what else I do in New Zealand? Click here!


Filed under Food, New Zealand, Recipes