Plant-Based Camping

We just got back from nine days of camping in a tent, and boy did it feel good to get home to a comfy bed. It was a fun challenge to plan, prepare, pack, and cook all our own food though. I’m very grateful for our little gas camp stove.

This year we decided to go plant-based instead of bringing the usual hot dogs, bacon, eggs, milk, and burgers. I didn’t hear any complaints! Here are some of the things we made below. We improvised the rest from leftover meals and ingredients we had on hand.

Of course the mountains, rivers, meadows, and forests were incredibly beautiful and healing too. Hope you find these recipes helpful if you get out on your own nature adventure!

Coconut french toast with crusty fluffy bread (baked before the trip and frozen), blueberries, plums and vegan sausages

Teriyaki tofu stirfry with noodles and greens

Plant-based burgers with homemade buns (baked before the trip and frozen), green beans and melted chocolate fondue with bananas, marshmallows and graham crackers

Banana peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal cookie pancakes for a special morning treat

Restorative coconut ginger dal after a long day

Lunch while hiking: trail mix, chocolate zucchini muffins (baked before the trip and frozen, using flax seeds instead of eggs in the batter), apples and oranges, veggie chips, protein and fruit bars, chocolate, and tons of water

Camping chili burritos with plant-based ground meat instead of turkey

Peanut butter banana apricot sandwiches on leftover burger buns

Camping minestrone with nutritional yeast and some spinach that we managed to find half-way through the trip in a local small town

Fluffy apple pancakes near the end of the trip since apples keep pretty well

S’mores creations: straight up and in apple, orange, pancake, and bite-sized varieties

Here’s a happy camper face to brighten your day. Wishing you love, peace, and freedom from suffering in your life. Hope you enjoy your meals today!

PREPARE Curriculum: 7 Intensive Units to Be Ready for A Bright Future

I don’t know about you, but I’m not really one to just sit around and wait for things.

If I’m contained in our house, I learn to bake bread and switch to a plant-based diet, I study Buddhist meditation and become a yogi, I manage our investments to ensure ongoing passive income.

But these things have been mostly for myself and my family.

So one day I asked myself, how can I expand this to help the people and lives around the planet who are suffering and need some love?

Tim, Megan and I just finished a 4-day Tony Robbins virtual event for unleashing our beautiful inner selves, and this is what I came up with.

I was inspired by the story of Nelson Mandela describing his time in prison: “I didn’t survive, I PREPARED.” And so…

My PREPARE Curriculum. I created a self-study program that might take me a few years to fully immerse myself in and emerge from wiser and stronger.

Why? To learn as much as I can to be ready for our bright future, and to find like minds as we discover the incredible gifts of this unusual time.

I decided to share it here with you, both for my own accountability and in case you want to borrow any of it for yourself… Go ahead!

(Also, I don’t get any money or rewards at all for sharing these resources with you – I just want to contribute to our collective comeback after months of quarantine.)

Without further ado, the 7 intensive units of my PREPARE curriculum are…

1. Mindfulness and psychology

The main thing I seem to need right now is a way to balance emotions, stay grateful, and understand what’s happening in my mind. These are my top wishlist resources that I’m diving into first:

2. Compassionate relationships

The next thing I need is a sustainable way to maintain peaceful, loving relationships. Connections that are stress-proof where people love each other no matter what. I will be learning from these masters:

3. Homesteading in Hawai’i

Our plan is to create a sustainable farm in Hawai’i that provides for our food needs and strengthens our community. This is still a little ways off, but I can learn and prepare from these fine folks:

4. Sustainable income

With the uncertain future ahead, it’s making more and more sense to be self-sufficient when it comes to money as well as food. I believe it’s a wise investment to learn from these pioneers:

5. Cooking and movement

One thing we all need for a bright future is a healthy body. The ways we can help it are putting nutritious food in, moving ourselves, and getting enough rest. Here are my inspirations for optimizing health:

  • Isa Chandra Moskowitz. That’s all I have to say here. She dominates the plant-based cookbook space, and every single recipe I’ve made of hers is AMAZING. I will be studying her brilliant methods in depth. Some of her books include…
  • Sasha Martin’s Global Table Adventure for inspiration to cook recipes from the remaining 158 countries we have yet to taste
  • Paul Hollywood’s Bread – the Great British Baking Show judge shares his tips for artisan bread (I’ve already made variations on his cottage loaf and chelsea buns, which were delicious)
  • How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger (I’ve skimmed it so far, looks like useful, evidence-based tips on which foods to eat and avoid for different disease tendencies)
  • The End of Alzheimer’s by Dr. Dale Bredesen (I read it once but will need to read it again now that I’m almost in my mid-forties, since there’s Alzheimer’s in my family)
  • 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back by Esther Gokhale (I have chronic shoulder pain and need to learn better ergonomics and posture)
  • Yoga with Adriene free yoga videos (we follow her YouTube channel and monthly calendar of yoga classes, which we do every evening at 7 pm as a family)
  • Kinrgy virtual movement classes – a lively and loving combination of dance, yoga, tai chi, meditation, and positivity (we have a pass until the end of September)
  • Egoscue is a method of posture-based exercises to remove pain (I’ve tried some of them and they do help, just need to try the rest and implement a regular schedule)
  • Qi Gong exercises with Plum Village (can’t wait to try these out in my daily routine!)

6. Building community

Life isn’t much fun if you don’t have people to share it with. I don’t personally need a LOT of people around me, just a few like-minded folks in person and a wider global community that I can wake up each day to serve. I’ll be re-learning how to do this post-quarantine from these lovely people:

7. Helping the planet

Living happily and healthfully is all well and good, but we still need a planet to live on. These are some things I’ll be reading and working on to do my part:

OK, that seems like a good start! Megan is starting high school this year, so I guess I’m starting my own 4-year learning program too. 🙂

Now it’s time to put it all in a spreadsheet and track my progress.

I’ll occasionally share what I’m learning here on the blog as I go along, in between the recipes, so stay tuned for that.

Thanks for being here, lots of love, and I hope you keep learning and growing too, in whatever direction strikes your fancy!

Alexandra 😀 <3

9 Quick Meals When You Don’t Have Time to Cook

“But I’m hungry NOW!”

Whether this is a child in your house or a voice in your own head, sometimes we just look up and realize time has flown by and we don’t have food ready for anyone.

Fear not, the meals below can all be prepared in 5-30 minutes, so you can be prepared for any hunger emergency without resorting to popcorn and ice cream for dinner (which I admit I have done myself!)

We’ve got your back. You can do this. And you’re already doing a great job.

I hope these help you, and I’d love to hear what your favorite go-to quick recipes are too. 🙂

#1: The Nutritious Omelet

A straight up French omelette can make a delicious breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack. Super simple once you get the technique down. All you need is a few eggs, a little butter or oil, and whatever herbs and spices you have on hand. Enjoy!

#2. The Reliable Porridge

Growing up, porridge was one recipe I got from my wonderful Dad. Thanks, Dad! And the dad in our house now makes porridge for us too (as well as a lot of other yummy things!) It’s a super simple, comforting breakfast to start the day off on a nourishing foot.

#3. The Refreshing Garbanzo Cucumber Salad

A bright, lively and very simple salad that will make your whole body smile. This was inspired by the Forks Over Knives plant-based eating movement. I’m not normally a fan of cucumbers but I polished off a second helping of this! We ate it for dinner with sauteed sesame spinach and steamed rice.

#4. The Comforting Cauliflower Leek Soup

On a brisk day there’s nothing like a warm bowl of creamy cauliflower soup to comfort and nourish. This one is vegan and inspired by French chef Rebecca Leffler, using tahini (made from sesame seeds) and coconut oil for the creaminess. 2/3 of the kids came back for seconds, so that’s as good an endorsement as any. 🙂

#5. The Hearty Tuna Black Bean Salad

If you’re looking for a quick and refreshing lunch, check out this green salad packed with tuna, black beans, cashews, and cranberries. It’s a great way to skip that mid-afternoon energy crash and keep your mind and body as healthy as possible. It also happens to taste delicious. 🙂

#6. The Tropical Pina Colada Smoothie

Here are some kid-friendly pineapple-coconut-strawberry smoothies guaranteed to put a smile in your day. Adults can always add some rum to make it more like the real thing if you like. It’s just like a day at the beach. Well, almost… Aloha!

#7. The Light Italian Tomato Salad

Growing up, we often had fresh tomatoes in the summer from our own backyard garden or someone else’s nearby. My mom would make this refreshing tomato salad to go with a loaf of fresh Italian bread for a quick lunch. Buon appetito!

#8. The No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

These delicious treats take a few minutes to whip up and don’t need to be baked. No refined sugar, no white flour, no dairy, just amazing flavor and decadent enjoyment. It’s a sweet plant-based treat that’s also good brain fuel for home learning days. 

#9. The “Old Faithful” Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Whenever my British Grandma went to a potluck, party, or family gathering, she would have these cookies in hand. She nicknamed them “old faithfuls” because they’re so easy to make and everyone likes them. Our girls made these this past weekend. Hope you enjoy them too!

Many blessings from our home to yours for a wonderful weekend and week ahead. Please let me know if you try any of these recipes and how they turned out for you.

Happy (speedy) cooking!
Maitri Alexandra 🙂

9 Even-better-the-next-day Recipes With Lots of Yummy Leftovers

“Hooray, it’s leftover day!!”

Not a refrain I’d expect to hear very often. It conjures up images of microwaving sad containers of frozen mystery meals from who knows when.

But with the recipes below, there are always smiling mouths happy to re-eat what we enjoyed the night before.

Cooking once and eating twice also saves time and energy for whoever is the chef in the house. Bonus!

I hope you enjoy these, and I’d love to hear what your favorite leftover recipes are too. 🙂

#1: Paqa’s Best Banana Muffins

The kids here call my mom Paqa, which I’ve heard means Wise Elder in Peruvian. This is her recipe for the moistest, yummiest banana muffins we’ve ever tasted. At Paqa’s house there is always something delicious to eat!

#2. Zuppa di Fagioli (Italian Bean Soup)

There’s nothing like a bowl of good old-fashioned comfort food: beans, rice, veggies, and a delicious broth. It tastes like being in an Italian grandmother’s kitchen. Even better if you soak your own dry beans the night before!

#3. Stovetop Cassoulet

This is a warm, comforting, sausage and bean casserole from the south of France. I had a craving for it on a sweltering hot day, so I invented a stovetop version rather than firing up the oven and heating up the house. It’s amazing served with your favorite freshly baked biscuits or crusty bread.

#4. Sesame Chicken with Soba Noodles

“Chicken and sobas!” is the frequent answer to “What do you guys want for dinner?” at our house. It’s a spin on a baked chicken dish I had at a retreat once, mixed with a yummy warm soba noodle salad and a side of veggies. Today’s veggies are the British treat of cauliflower cheese.  

#5. Red Lentil Dal

The first spoonful goes into our mouths and immediately all the muscles in our face and shoulders relax. There’s a dreamy “wow that’s good” look spreading around the table and we settle into our bowls as though they hold delicious, precious treasure. Yes, it’s dal night

#6. Family Lasagna Night

Lasagna takes a bit longer to make than other pasta, but the prep time is actually not that long and the comforting nourishment is worth it. Side benefit: the whole house will smell delicious as it bakes away in the oven! This recipe makes enough for 4-5 people to have 2 dinners (leftovers are just as good as the original, if not better).

#7. Mennonite Seven Layer Dinner

I learned to make this casserole after enjoying it at my husband’s grandmother’s house. The seven layers are potatoes, onions, carrots, rice, peas, sausages, and tomato soup, with some salt and pepper for seasoning. It smells amazing in the oven and is a very comforting dish for all ages.

#8. Pasta with Lentil Mushroom Balls

We had fun deciding what to call these. They’re not meatballs, so are they plant balls? Bean balls? Vegan balls? Neatballs? Despite all the laughs, they’re actually very delicious. Lentils, mushrooms, and a bunch of yummy sauces and spices make for a hearty and nourishing topping for your favorite pasta.

#9. Chocolate Zucchini Cake with (Vegan) Cream Cheese Frosting

It’s zucchini season again in California, so we’re back to our favorite zucchini fritters and creamy zucchini pasta. But wait, zucchini chocolate bundt cake too? How versatile is this vegetable? I think this is my new favorite way to eat chocolate cake. Many thanks to Isa for inspiration.

Many blessings from our home to yours for a wonderful weekend and week ahead. Please let me know if you try any of these recipes and how they turned out for you.

Happy cooking!
Maitri Alexandra 🙂

Comfort Food Week: Recipes That Give You a Warm Hug

This week I’ve pulled out some of our comfiest recipes for when you need to whip up some good, old-fashioned, homemade comfort food.

I’d love to hear about your favorite recipes too!

Wishing you love and peace in your day today.

#1: Breakfast Quiche

A savory breakfast is a nice change around here. This quiche with mushrooms, peppers, spinach, and feta cheese would be good any time of day though. Inspired by an Esalen recipe, it’s a flexible pastry and egg dish that can work nicely with a variety of your favorite meats, cheese, or veggies. Feel free to adapt to your taste!

#2. Thai Peanut Soba Veggie Bowl

This is a very comforting dish of soba noodles, tofu, and cabbage with a creamy gingery Thai peanut sauce. I would eat this any day of the week, and we all went back for a healthy second bowl.

#3. German Cabbage Rolls

If you’re looking for comfort food in Germany or Russia, you might come across this dish of cabbage, beef, rice, onions, and tomato. I know it from the Mennonite tradition in Canada, as the first dish Tim’s grandmother made for me. It is also fantastic as leftovers, so I make a big tray and it lasts for at least 3 dinners.

#4. Cauliflower Tikka Masala

We love the creamy curry-ness of a good chicken tikka, but now we’re eating more of a plant-based diet. What to do? Fortunately Jamie Oliver came to the rescue with the inspiration for this cauliflower tikka masala recipe. Very comforting comfort food, and healthy to boot.

#5. Pasta Amatriciana with Pepperoni & Garbanzos

Everyone goes back for seconds on this dish! It’s pasta covered in a rich tomato sauce, with chopped up bits of garlic, pepperoni, and garbanzo beans, all topped with pecorino romano cheese. Super easy and quick to make too. It’s a great weeknight dinner to whip up.

#6. Lentils with Spinach & Sausages

This is a tasty and nutritious Italian peasant dish, which you can serve for lunch or dinner with pasta or fresh bread. I used chicken sausages, fresh chopped spinach, and the secret ingredient to any lentil soup – celery! 

#7. British Shepherd’s Pie

I had nannies from England when I was little, and some of the things they taught us were traditional British recipes. Shepherd’s pie, bubble and squeak, bangers and mash, Yorkshire pudding – all the classics. We all love a good shepherd’s pie here. I cook up a big casserole every few weeks and it lasts for 2-3 dinners.

#8. Leek and Olive Pizza with Whole Wheat Crust

Imagine a pizza you might have at a self-care retreat on the coast of France – loaded with caramelized onions and leeks, mozzarella, and kalamata olives on a nourishing, partly whole wheat crust. That’s what this sumptuous dinner is, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

#9. Fudgiest Plant-Based Brownies

Some days you just need a good fudgy brownie to hit the spot. This recipe is made without dairy or eggs, and is arguably more satisfying than a traditional non-vegan brownie – everyone here gobbles these up with gusto. It’s also super quick to throw together for a serious chocolate emergency.

Many blessings from our home to yours for a wonderful weekend and week ahead. Please feel free to forward this to a friend who might enjoy some comforting treats today.

Happy cooking!
Maitri Alexandra 🙂

9 Nutritionally-Balanced Recipes to Keep You Happy and Healthy

When someone in our house is having a hard day, the way I like to help best is by making a healing, nourishing meal for all of us.

Here are some go-to recipes I pull out for whenever we need some extra tender loving care.

I hope they bring you comfort, extra health, and happiness too.

Wishing you ease and strength in your day today.

#1: Lentils and Greens with Goddess Dressing

There are a million ways to assemble a rice bowl, and this one is especially delicious. You cook lentils, rice, and celery together, top it with sauteed farm fresh onions and greens, then drizzle with a divine lemon tahini vegan dressing. It will help you feel amazing!

#2. Green Peas and Ham Risotto

Instead of green eggs and ham (that’s another recipe to come for avocado scrambled eggs), how about green peas and ham? This risotto uses a mix of blended and whole peas to create the vibrant color and luxurious taste. I hope you try this for lunch or dinner sometime, it’s a treat!

#3. California Pad Thai

Noodles are always a favorite around here. This is our California-inspired version of pad thai, a traditional stirfry favorite from the streets of Thailand.

#4. Five-Layer Dip from Jan and Nick

This amazing dip recipe comes from my in-laws in Canada. It’s a crowd-pleaser, super easy to make, and nutritious too! We like to have it at home for lunch or a snack, but it’s also a great potluck idea for the holidays.

#5. Coconut Cranberry Spinach

This is a fantastic spinach dish originally from Tanzania (called mchicha wa nazi). It has spinach, onions, and cranberries simmered in coconut milk, and I threw a bit of roasted chicken in too. We served it over rice, but it would also make a nourishing meal on its own. It’s too good not to try it!

#6. Mashed Cauliflower Potatoes with Mushrooms

Here is a healthy version of mashed potatoes with gravy, a classic comfort food. We mash cauliflower in with the potatoes for a lovely moistness, then smother it in a vegan mushroom gravy that satisfies even the folks who are used to meat and dairy-based gravies. 

#7. Healing Lentil Soup

Lentils and turmeric are both superfoods, filled with nutritional benefits for the human body as well as our mental health. This is a comforting soup that mixes in some potato, onion, and sage for a lovely dinner. I like to have it with some stir-fried greens on the side. It’s a meal that makes my whole self smile.

#8. Asparagus Leek Potato Soup

In the spring and early summer, we can get fresh asparagus delivered in our farm box. One of the treats I like to make when this happens is a creamy asparagus and potato soup with leeks and sage. It’s a comforting, nourishing bowl of healing goodness.

#9. Moroccan Chicken Couscous

What happens when you marry couscous, or little balls of pasta, with oranges, lemons, cumin, chicken, and a bright array of vegetables? Kind of a party in your mouth. My kids’ reaction: “Wow! My tongue is so confused. Can I have some more?” I hope your family enjoys this healthy and tasty couscous creation too. Feel free to improvise with whatever veggies you have on hand!

Many blessings from our home to yours for a wonderful weekend and week ahead. Please feel free to forward this to a friend who might need a bit of extra TLC today.

Happy cooking!
Maitri Alexandra 🙂

Our Daily Routine During Quarantine

Humans like routines.

Having a daily rhythm is good for our mental health. This is why having a dog helps us be happier – they love sticking to routines and getting us out for daily walks.

But even if you’re not a dog person, you might find it helpful to wake up at the same time every day and build self-care activities into your daily plan.

Here’s what our routine looks like during this ongoing coronavirus shutdown. It helps keep us all on the same page and functioning mostly smoothly.

Do you have a routine? What does it look like?

8 am – Breakfast and 1/2 mile morning walk

We’re up every morning by 7 am, although I’m often up earlier. Most of us do a morning meditation either with the Headspace or Plum Village apps. Then we gather for breakfast at 8 am and go for a short walk around our neighborhood before starting the day. One of our breakfast favorites is these Hawaii oat cakes.

9 am – Home learning fun and snack

If it’s a weekday, the kiddos have some home learning to do. We check in on Google Classroom, get the assignments for the day, and update tasks on the whiteboard in our designated learning area, aka the dining room. They choose what to work on first, and part way through the morning we bring out a small snack. It’s often something fruity and chocolatey, like apples or bananas with nuts and chocolate chips or homemade nutella.

12 pm – Lunch and longer hilly walk

At noon we all break for lunch in the backyard. It feels great to get some fresh air and sunshine after a morning inside. Lunch can either be a salad, some leftovers, or something more creative like these broccoli mashed potatoes. Then we power up for the afternoon with a half hour loop walk that takes us up and down some big hills.

1 pm – Home learning fun and inspiration

After our walk it’s back for another chunk of learning. The parents get some time to either work or learn too – we’ve been exploring courses on Udemy and Coursera recently. During this quiet focus time we often put on the Classical radio station on Apple Music. And when I get overwhelmed, I remind myself of these 13 simple truths for a peaceful mind.

3 pm – Dessert and showers

By 3 pm the kids are ready to be done with assignments, so it’s time to transition to fun and self-care time. We discovered that having dessert in the afternoon, like a British tea time, helps everyone sleep better than eating sweets after dinner. These fudgy cookie brownies are always a hit. Anyone who wants a refreshing shower is free to take one too.

4 pm – Free time and cooking dinner

Next we have a couple hours of play, dance, rest, and time on passion projects. Sometimes there are musical performances being choreographed and composed and rehearsed, or there’s quiet phone/iPad time, or we think up recipes or ideas like how to save the world with Megan right now.

6 pm – Dinner with nature or comedy

I love to get expert help in the kitchen from Megan and Tim, but I enjoy cooking on my own as well. Since we all chat a bunch on our daily walks and have just been sitting at the dining room table all day, we’ll often eat on the couches and put on an inspiring nature show like Our Planet or a funny movie. Dinner is usually something comforting like turkey chili with zucchini, and we pause the show if anyone wants to go back for seconds.

7 pm – Yoga and meditation

For the past several months we’ve been doing a daily wind down of movement, gratitude, and stillness. It’s all with the help of our online yoga teacher Adriene. She releases free monthly schedules to follow for daily yoga and meditation, and it’s a wonderful way to take care of ourselves, together.

8 pm – Get ready for bed and prep for tomorrow

And another day is done. Kids go off to brush their teeth, we clean up the kitchen and prepare for tomorrow. A super quick and nourishing breakfast to throw together the night before are these easiest overnight oats, for example. Everyone is settled and in bed by 9 pm, with goodnights and hugs and any last reassurances.

Tomorrow is another day. And the sun always rises.

Many blessings from our home to yours for a wonderful weekend and week ahead. I hope you have or find a nourishing daily routine for yourself as well.

Happy cooking!
Maitri Alexandra 🙂

9 Budget-Friendly Recipes to Delight Your Family Without Breaking the Bank

Money is tight for many of us right now with the ongoing shutdown.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy homemade gourmet meals that feel very decadent.

With a little creativity, everyday eating can save money while being healthy and delicious.

These are all recipes that the kids in our house enjoyed as much as the adults did. I hope they bring full bellies and smiling faces to your house as well.

Wishing you comfort and enjoyment in your day today.

#1: Raisin Whole Wheat Scones for breakfast ($5)

These scones are one of my husband’s breakfast specialties to whip up for us on the weekend. They are crisp on the outside and so soft inside, pulling apart easily into two halves that can be loaded up with fruit and cream. I like to break them apart and dip each piece lovingly in warm soy milk before popping it into my mouth. Delicious!

#2. Butternut Squash Gnocchi for dinner ($5.50)

My Italian grandparents used to be famous for their gnocchi, and one summer they showed me how to make them. This is their gnocchi recipe as I remember it, except I like to use butternut squash sometimes instead of potato. If you’re looking for healthy comfort food, look no further!

#3. Avocado Toast for a healthy snack ($2)

We whipped this avocado toast up the other day to feed three hungry kids, alongside a farm-fresh salad. If you have a nice ripe avocado lying around, it’s really the easiest fancy snack, and fun to eat too.

#4. Fast French Dressing to top any greens ($2)

My daughter Megan is turning into the family saucier – the sauce chef. Here is a beautiful French dressing she made that was inspired by Rozanne. All ages enjoyed it on our lunchtime salads. Thanks Megan!

#5. Roasted Root Veggies for a tasty side ($6)

With root vegetables, it’s easy to throw everything in the oven and have a nice roasted medley for dinner. You can pair this with a soup or heartier entree. I used a yam, some turnips from the farm, and brussels sprouts. Other vegetables would work well too – like onions, carrots, or potatoes.

#6. Dilly Salmon Cakes for a fresh lunch treat ($8)

When fresh fish is hard to find, or when you have some leftover fish to use up, salmon cakes are a tasty way to get your omega-3’s. These are a bright lemon-dilly treat to serve up for lunch that’s also good for your mental health and wellbeing.

#7. Dry Roasted Almonds for an addictive snack ($8)

We had two giant bags of raw almonds from a past Costco run that weren’t getting eaten. So I decided to salt and dry roast them, and now they’re getting gobbled up like crazy. With this experiment, I learned how easy it is to roast almonds! Thanks to Jami for the inspiration.

#8. Homemade Applesauce for anytime ($3.50)

Maybe it’s because my mom used to make homemade applesauce for us when we were little, but I much prefer this to store-bought. Especially if our kids are willing to help peel and chop apples! This was a fun weekend project we did together, with delicious results.

#9. Grandma’s Fudgy Brownie Cookies for love ($4)

My British Grandma used to make these cookies for teatime when she was still with us. They’re fudgy and decadent. I loved going over to spend Friday afternoons with her when I was a young adult, and she still lives on in my heart and in my baking. This one’s for you, Grandma! 🙂

Many blessings from our home to yours for a wonderful weekend and week ahead. Please feel free to forward this to a friend who might be looking for creative meal ideas that don’t break the bank.

Happy cooking!
Maitri Alexandra 🙂

Bread Week: Our All-Time Favorite Breads to Make at Home

Are you bready for this? 🙂

Since I started making yeasted breads last year, we’ve stopped buying bread from the grocery store.

Homemade bread is just so much tastier and more customizable. Plus it makes the house smell amazing.

It’s actually a lot easier than I thought it would be, and kneading the dough by hand is very healing on an otherwise challenging day.

If you’ve never tried making homemade bread, I hope these recipes inspire you to try it. And if you’re a seasoned pro, I hope you find something new to experiment with here.

Wishing you the peace and excitement of a freshly baked loaf of bread today.

#1: Homemade Challah for beautiful comfort

My parents have a Jewish bakery near their house, and one of my favorite things to get whenever I visit is the fresh challah bread (along with blueberry buns and chocolate babka). This is one of the best loaves of bread I’ve ever baked! The challah disappeared into 5 happy, hungry mouths. 

#2. CF Brown Bread for kids to gobble up

What’s the secret to the addictive brown bread they give you at the Cheesecake Factory before you get your meal? Turns out it’s a mix of molasses and cocoa! This recipe tastes legit and disappears fast.

#3. Crusty Fluffy Bread for everyday deliciousness

Two secrets I’ve learned about how to make bread that’s crusty on the outside while soft and fluffy inside. Knead it for longer than you think, and use your moisture carefully: rise in a dry, warm place and bake with a steamy oven that has been preheated with a pan of water in it. This bread came out so tasty, our most particular eater asked for 4 helpings!

#4. Cinnamon Roll Bread for weekend breakfasts

A fresh from the oven, pull-apart cinnamon roll loaf doesn’t last long around here, and is much easier to make than I thought it would be. It’s delicious toasted with some butter and honey, or made into French toast on a weekend morning. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

#5. Honey Wheat Bread for toast anytime

This is our everyday bread – great for toast, sandwiches, snacking, or even breadcrumbs. I make it about every other week and it always gets used up. The whole wheat and honey mix together for a grounding, nourishing flavor that’s like a warm hug.

#6. Homemade Naan for soups and curries

Surprisingly easy to make, naan is a flatbread made in a pan to accompany any Indian dish or other dipping-friendly dinner. We had it with Healing Lentil Soup, then drizzled honey over the leftover naan as a snack.

#7. Everything Bagels for a salty treat

My parents’ house is just down the street from an amazing Jewish bakery, and the smell of fresh bagels when you walk in there is like floating away on a cloud of deliciousness. I was determined to figure out how to make bagels myself, and discovered they’re actually not that tricky! We topped these with “Everything but the bagel” spice from Trader Joe’s (a mix of garlic, onion, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, salt and pepper) and made some amazing sandwiches.

#8. Paska Buns with Apricot Glaze for melting in

In Mennonite communities, a special Easter treat is a sweet iced paska bread from Oma’s oven. It’s like a sumptuous cross between a brioche and a donut. We enjoyed it as a post-hike dessert following our weekend climbs around neighborhood hills.

#9. Chocolate Babka for indulging

Babka takes two days to make. If you’ve never tasted it before, it’s a bit like brioche swirled with a rich chocolate filling braided into the dough. Fresh from the oven, it melts in your mouth. Babka works for dessert, breakfast, or snack time. And if you don’t like chocolate (gasp!), you could make it with cinnamon instead.

Many blessings from our home to yours for a wonderful weekend and week ahead. Please feel free to forward this to a friend who might enjoy some bready experimenting.

Happy cooking!
Maitri Alexandra 🙂

9 Plant-Based Recipes for When You’re Feeling Adventurous

Cooking is the answer to everything.

If you’re bored, try experimenting with a new recipe. Take a peek below for some exciting plant-based favorites of ours that you may not have tried yet. They’re family-tested and delicious to even our pickiest and meatiest eaters.

If you’re stressed, the meditative nature of cooking can be very calming. Give me a bubbling pot to stir, a crunchy vegetable to chop, or some soft dough to knead, and I’m a happy camper again. The textures and repetitive motions are surprisingly soothing.

Oh, and stay tuned for some exciting news soon about upcoming meal plans as an offering to this wonderful community growing around us.

Wishing you a bright smile in your heart today.

#1: Hearty Meatless Burgers for all eaters

I was vegan and gluten-free for 2 years, way back when. This burger is a treasured recipe that I kept from that time. So healthy and delicious, and very satisfying even for the meatiest of meat eaters. It’s better to cook them gently in a pan than on the BBQ because they need a flat surface. Otherwise, treat them as you would a normal burger!

#2. Beets and Greens Salad for a fresh lunch

Whenever beets are in season, I make this salad. It uses the whole beet – roots and green leaves – so nothing is wasted. With a few cashews or pumpkin seeds thrown in and a tangy sweet dressing, it’s a lovely accompaniment to lunch or dinner.

#3. Restorative Coconut Ginger Dal

If you’re feeling a bit under the weather, or if you just want an extra healing, nourishing meal for your body and spirit, this is the soup for you. You can leave out the chard if you prefer, but we had some on hand from our farm volunteering, so I threw it in. This dal freezes very well too.

#4. Zucchini Fritters for fun

These veggie-packed treats are a bit like savory pancakes, and a great side dish for a weekend lunch. Whenever we get farm-fresh zucchini, it’s a toss-up between making these fritters or zucchini muffins. Either way, getting green stuff into kids is a good thing!

#5. Teriyaki Tofu Stirfry for a quick dinner

Sometimes a body just wants some veggies, and fast! When you get that craving, this is a great recipe to reach for. Snow peas, mushrooms, tofu, peppers, zucchini, bok choy – really almost any veggies you have on hand would work here.

#6. Comforting Minestrone

This is one of my favorite meals from when I was little. My mom made this about once a week, and the full pot was well depleted by the time we all had second and third bowls. You can put any veggies you have on hand into minestrone, but this version works well with kids. It’s also vegan-friendly if you leave off the cheese sprinkled on top.

#7. Stamppot for when you need a warm hug

I learned about stamppot from an old Canadian cookbook, but it’s originally a Dutch recipe. You cook a vegetable like kale or savoy cabbage with a bunch of potatoes in a big pot, then add some (plant-based) sausage. Mash it all up with a bit of olive oil and salt, and you have a delicious and comforting dinner.

#8. Creamy Zucchini Pasta to mix things up

My daughter Megan found this fantastic plant-based pasta dish in the book Eat Fresh Food, which is aimed at teen chefs. You use blended zucchini with basil as a cream sauce, and boil some other veggies in with the pasta. I’ve been making pasta for decades and this was a wonderful surprise to me!

#9. Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies for indulging

I always have the ingredients for these lying around the house. They’re chewy, warm, sweet cookies that can cheer anyone up, and the cookie dough is amazing too. Plus because it’s vegan, you don’t have to worry about eating raw eggs in the dough. We like to save some of the dough uncooked in the fridge to put on ice cream.

Many blessings from our home to yours for a wonderful weekend and week ahead. Feel free to forward this to a friend who might enjoy some plant-based cooking fun.

Happy cooking!
Maitri Alexandra 🙂