Balsamic roasted eggplant (gf + v)

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Things got crazy over the past few months what with taking my boards and moving from NorCal to SoCal, but I am happy to finally be back in the kitchen cooking! I hope you’ve had a great and delicious summer! This recipe was inspired by a visit to my new local farmer’s market, where I was absolutely thrilled to find a large variety of eggplants for sale: lovely green Thai eggplants shaped like eggs, slender lavender Chinese eggplants, deep purple Italian eggplants, pale green Filipino eggplants…thanks to my husband “egging” me on, the next thing I knew I was buying one of each! Eggplant is a finicky vegetable, as I have mentioned in past recipes – the key is to cook it into sweet tender submission (undercooked eggplant is just bitter and gross!). While there are many ways to cook eggplant, my personal favorite to oven-roast it. I was very lucky to have been recently gifted a lovely bottle of seriously delicious balsamic vinegar as a graduation present from a dear coworker, so that also featured in this recipe. I hope you enjoy this versatile summer dish, which tastes great on its own, is lovely over a green salad or a bed of simple pasta marinara, or would also be great as an hors d’oeuvre served with toasted baguette slices or pita triangles. Serves 3-4.

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Oatmeal-chia seed breakfast bake with stone fruit (gf + dairy free)

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The farmer’s market this weekend was full of gorgeous stone fruit, and the sun actually came out – summer is finally on its way! Here is a great way to capture those wonderful summer flavors and make sure you have a delicious, healthy breakfast even if you need to eat on the go. You can prepare a large batch, slice and pack up to enjoy it all week long, but you may end up making quite a big dent in it when you are seduced by its delicious cinnamony smell hot out of the oven. This simple combination of high-fiber filling oats and chia seeds, lovely ripe plums/peaches/apricots or whatever other nice fruit you have on hand, and a simple cinnamony batter will put a smile on your face and power you through busy work mornings. This will become a staple recipe, and there are so many potential delicious variations: add or sub in berries, apples/pears in the fall, frozen or dried fruits in the winter – it is really a recipe you can use all year long! (Hint: think beyond breakfast! this yummy treat also makes a healthy dessert…and yes, I know what you are thinking – you have my blessing to serve it with whipped cream or a la mode 😉

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Ridiculously simple curry sweet potato soup (gf + v)

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The weather here in the Bay Area has been so gloomy that I’ve been having to remind myself it’s almost June! Well, nothing goes goes better with cold gray weather than hot soup, so here is a recent one I came up with that is incredibly flavorful and so easy to make (in this one-pot recipe, the boiling water becomes the basis for the broth so you don’t have to waste water while California is plagued with a drought!). The curry gives it a little bit of heat and the coconut milk adds a light creaminess. Makes about 4 servings.

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No-bake lemon cheesecake bars (gf + v)

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What to do when life gives you lots of [gorgeous, fragrant, yellow] lemons? Well, besides lemonade, I had to think of something… After studying lots of classic baked lemon bar recipes and not feeling inspired, I ventured into the raw realm, but those recipes were also missing something. I wanted something…light, creamy, lemony but not too sweet, and healthy too. So after some experimentation, I present to you this lovely springy/summery dessert. You don’t even have to turn the oven on. And the flavor is so rich and creamy, you won’t believe they’re vegan!

Makes one 11 x 7 small pan worth (about 8 servings). You will need a high powered blender to get the optimal filling texture, but it can all be done in a food processor if you don’t mind a little bit of graininess from the coconut. Adapted from The Organic Dietitian.

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Caramelized onion focaccia (dairy and gluten free!)

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This recipe was inspired by some gorgeous purple onions (complete with lovely green leaves) that I found at the farmer’s market. There are few things that make your kitchen smell more mouth-wateringly delicious than onions caramelizing on the stove, and I think I have found one of them: the smell of fresh bread baking WITH caramelized onions on top of it! I have great news for you: this is one recipe where you will definitely not miss the gluten at all – this easily rivals any regular focaccia I have had. It takes a little bit of advance planning so the dough can rise, but this recipe is overall pretty easy and very well worth the impressive and delectable result. The trick to a very fluffy dough is the use of both yeast AND vinegar + baking soda for double rising power.

Makes one 9×13″ dish of focaccia (at least 4 servings). Recipe adapted from GreatBritishChefs.com. 

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Easy broccoli mac n’ cheeze (gf + v)

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Ok folks, this one is definitely easy enough for a weeknight (I made sure it would be a one-pot recipe), and we are talking pure comfort food here…delicious carby creamy cheezy pasta goodness with broccoli – vegan and gluten free but tastes just as good as the real thing! And no neon-orange powder either. Serves 2 ravenous adults, or 4 people eating it as a civilized main dish with some sides.

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Gingerbread oat one-bowl waffles (gf, dairy free)

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Unlike 99% of the time, I woke up this morning actually wanting a sweet breakfast instead of my usual savory go-to fare (toast/eggs/veggies)…so here is the very tasty result of some experimenting (and some recent gingerbread cookie cravings). Mind you, I still wanted a breakfast that would be hearty and high in fiber and protein. These waffles are just what I was hoping for. The secret is to grind rolled oats into flour, and the rest is pretty much a piece of cake. Your kitchen will smell heavenly, just like when you have gingerbread cookies in the oven. Very easy to make (notice that they only require the use of a single mixing bowl), and healthy too! I haven’t tried freezing them yet, but I think it would work well for convenient reheating in the toaster. Makes about 4 waffles. Adapted from the brilliant Cookie + Kate.

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