Archive for May 5th, 2011

May 5, 2011

Italian Rice and Bean Salad

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Anyone have any crazy plans for tonight? Any hip parties I should know about? ;)

Notice anything different?

I changed my header since I fell in love with the picture I took yesterday with the grass + pinkish/purple flower petals. However, I don’t know how to make it so the text isn’t fuzzy! Any hints on how to help with that?? I really love the background but the theme I have makes it difficult to make headers.

Do you like this header or the other one??

Look at all the headers I’ve tried..



I am such a perfectionist and it really bothers me that it’s fuzzy. I’ll be working on it trying to fix it and if I can’t fix the fuzzy lettering, I’ll go back to the other header.

Just a little note: I had the creamy vegan green bean casserole for leftovers for dinner last night and it reheated beautifully! I just popped it in the microwave for about 4 minutes and it came out just as creamy as when I pulled it out of the oven. Not dry at all.

Breakfast this morning was another batch of vegan overnight oats.



  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1.25 cups almond milk
  • 2 full tbsp chia seeds (love them chia’s!!)
  • 1 heaping tsp cinnamon
  • walnuts
  • toppings: unsweetened shredded coconut & 1 tbsp pure maple syrup


I really wish we had some strawberries to put in my VOO since I was craving a little fruit in my oats.

I have been enjoying a lot of salads lately..

Whether it be huge romaine + mixed greens salads with lots of veggies + beans and tahini avocado dressing..


Or salads with lots and lots of Mmmm sauce..


It’s all about the salad lately.

Spring and Summer makes me craaave salads and I love it! I’m not gonna lie, during winter I barely ate any salads so it’s about time I am makin’ them again. I’ve also been creative with my salads now more than ever before which is a bonus because I actually look forward to eating salads now. I used to just eat salads because I knew there was barely no calories in them (I would use iceberg lettuce + carrots + dressing and call it a salad) but now I load up my salads with 8+ cups of mixed greens, LOTS of veggies (anything that I can find in my fridge), nuts, and protein sources like beans. I also make homemade dressings instead of store bought (although I still like Newman’s brand Italian dressing). It’s so much more fun to make your own dressing and the ones I mentioned above are some of my favorite creamy dressings. Thankfully, my salads have evolved and did a complete 180* from what they used to be.

If there’s one salad I can think of lately that doesn’t involve much lettuce it’s the Italian Rice and Bean Salad I’ve been making.

I went to Barnes and Noble one day determined to get a few new cookbooks.

I came out with the most enduring, drool-worthy vegan cookbooks E.V.E.R.


Buying vegan cookbooks makes cooking without any animal products so much more easier and fun. The cookbooks take the thinking out of cooking. For reals.

I stumbled across a ton of recipes in both of these books but the first I chose to make was an Italian Rice and Bean Salad I saw in Vegan Yum Yum.

Italian Rice and Bean Salad

Adapted from the lovely Lauren Ulm over at Vegan Yum Yum. Serves 4.

  • 1 cup brown rice, uncooked
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 roasted red pepper, chopped into bite sized pieces (roughly 1 cup chopped)
  • 2 sundried tomatoes (packed in oil)
  • 1/4 walnuts, chopped
  • 2 heaping handfuls spinach
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 tbsp sundried tomato oil (from the jar)
  • 1 tsp each of: dried oregano, dried rosemary, and fresh basil
  • 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes


  1. Cook brown rice according to package.
  2. About 3 minutes before the rice has been heated, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the herbs, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, walnuts, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes. Once the walnuts have browned a bit (about 4-5 minutes, watch carefully though because they can burn) add in the cannellini beans. Toss the beans gently because you want to try and keep them whole.
  3. Add the balsamic vinegar to the mixture, stir, and turn the heat down to low.
  4. Place the spinach on top of the bean mixture and place the hot rice on top of the spinach. This will help to wilt the spinach so leave the rice on top of the spinach for about 20 seconds. Mix the spinach and rice throughout gently and allow to cook until the spinach has been completely wilted (about 1-2 mins). Serve.


The picture doesn’t show a garlic clove because I decided to add it in last minute. Because I love garlic. Isn’t that obvious already though?

Instead of using regular olive oil, I used the oil that the sundried tomatoes are packed in for a more intense tomato flavor. I also used only 2 tiny sundried tomatoes because that’s all I had! If you have more or less of the roasted red peppers or sundried tomatoes, add what you have. Remember, no recipe is ever set in stone so play around with it!

After cooking the bean mixture top with spinach..


..and then the hot steaming rice.


I looove brown rice, it’s so nutty tasting. I could live off the stuff. I kept spoon feeding myself brown rice. hehe.


I served mine up with some crusty whole grain bread slathered in Earth Balance.


This salad is delicious served warm or even cold straight out of the fridge!



Loved this salad. It had the perfect amount of herbs + vinegar. The beans and rice together make up a complete protein (contains all 12 amino acids) so this is a great salad for when you need a little boost of protein. To read more on complete proteins see here.

I ate was tempted to eat the whole salad.

Last night I had a serious hankering for cookies. But not just any cookies, Mama Pea’s dough balls! ‘Cause mama always knows best.

I made a couple substitutions:

  • 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour = 1/4 cup spelt flour + 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter = ~1/3 cup butter + 4 tbsp almond milk
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar = 1/2 cup organic white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar = 1/2 cup sucanat
  • omitted peanut butter chips (didn’t have any)


Overall they came out pretty good except the sucanat does not taste good in this!!! It made the cookies have such a weird taste to them. Next time I’m just going to add in real organic brown sugar. Maybe it was because of the other combinations of flours? Or is there a certain way to cook with sucanat?

I’m pretty sure sucanat can be interchanged with brown sugar with no problem but I guess not! I need to experiment with it more since I really do love it. (note: I just tried them after they’ve cooled a bit and the sucanat flavor isn’t as pronounced so maybe it just needed to cool off?) Either way, 2 or 3 seemed to find their way into my mouth. ;)

I think it’s fair to say that so far, I have a green thumb!


These seeds are growing beautifully; only a week ago they were little tiny seeds.


The ones that are growing like crazy in the middle are actually the cucumbers! Who woulda thought?? They are really out of control and I need to plant them outside ASAP.

They actually kind of scare me. Me and my mom kept saying, “they’re alliiiive, they’re alliiiiiiive.” lol. It’s cool to see how they grow toward the sun though!

Not gonna lie though, the green bean sprouts freak me out! I love veggies but seeing them in their beginning stage makes me think about the whole process the vegetables + fruits go through to get from the soil to the table. It makes me appreciate the Earth and nature so much more. It’s truly a delicate and beautiful process.


My basil is taking a little longer than expected but I guess because it’s a delicate little herb?? Seeing as the cucumbers grow like crazy, I’ll be planting them where in my garden where they wont shade the basil and smaller veggies. Above is the tomatoes that you can see are leaning toward the sun. They even have little tomato seeds at the tippy top of their sprouts. It’s kind of weird yet cool at the same time.

Can’t wait to eat my veggies and fruits! I have a feeling I’ll be on cucumber overload come July..

I’m off to replace the soil in my garden with some organic soil I picked up at Home Depot yesterday and then hopefully get planting. These sprouts need to get outside!


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