the power of food

Power of Food: Jamie Oliver quotation

Since I’ve run out of British detective shows to watch lately, I’ve turned to documentaries and TED Talks for my evening relaxation. While learning about Viking explorers, the evolution of humans, the “moral molecule,” and a secret river under Dublin has been quite riveting, the video I watched this evening struck a deeper cord. Jamie Oliver’s TED talk on the power of food (to do good or, as is often the case in this country, bad) renewed my vigor for healthy living and eating. I’ve been following (more or less- cookie butter is a weakness, okay!?) a plant-based diet for six months now, and contrary to what you might think, this lifestyle has introduced me to so many new ways of cooking, new food to try, and new methods to make eating and cooking easier, more delicious, and fun. I’ve felt better, ran faster (marathon PR!), and found the joy of making a home cooked meal. I love Jamie’s approach to the power of food: that it should be a part of the daily ritual that makes our lives rich and interesting. And healthy.



p.s. Jamie’s website has some great vegan recipes as well! Here are the ones I’m particularly excited to try:

No-Bake Vegan Chocolate Fudge Bars

Vegan Blueberry Pancakes

The Best Vegan Burger

Vegan Shepherds Pie

european brunch: vegan style!

Vegan Style European Brunch: recipes on #vegan #vegetarian #brunch #recipes

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

Ah, brunch. Truly the best meal of the day. Especially if you’re vegan. Because, frankly, anything goes! Breakfast food? Sure! Lunch food? Why not! Greens first thing in the morning? Go for it! Brunch in a vegan’s dream. Plus it’s a really good excuse to invite your friends over and chow down on all the excess Trader Joe’s groceries you bought the day before when you made the mistake of grocery shopping after a long run…

I like to think my brunches are European style because I fell in love with breakfast in Siena, Italy while filling up on Nutella croissants (still warm!), prosciutto, pecorino, and espresso. But to be honest, I think Americans do brunch best: lots of food, lots of friends, usually a hangover, and bottomless mimosas.

But for the days you want to stay in for the best meal of the weekend, I’ve put together a delicious vegan brunch menu. European inspired, American made, and to absolutely die for.

On the Menu:

Hazelnut latte with soy milk (sugar free!)

Baguette with assorted toppings: sugar free preserves, vegan butter, Dutch speculoos (In all fairness, I don’t know if speculoos is actually vegan, as the ingredients list is in Dutch! Sadly, I suspect it’s not.)

Local Pennsylvania organic apples

Fresh lemon mango cucumber water*

Sweet potato chips with homemade hummus*

Assorted veggie tofu scramble*

*Keep scrolling for the recipes below!


Lemon Mango Cucumber Water

Lemon Mango Cucumber Water

The idea is so simple, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner! Add cut up cucumbers, lemon, and frozen mango to a pitcher of water, and suddenly you have a refreshingly healthy drink that actually makes you excited to drink more water.



  • 2 15 oz cans of chickpeas, drained
  • or 1 1/2 cup dried chickpeas, rinsed, soaked and cooked (I cook mine in the crock pot!)
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • splash of lemon juice
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Salt and pepper
Mix the above in the food processor. Run it for a long time (about 6 minutes) to get it fluffy. Add more water if needed.
For a fun variation on the above recipe, use less water and add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Yum!


Tofu Scramble

  • 1-2 packages of tofu (1 package=one serving)
  • Assorted veggies, diced, cut, etc. I like to make this dish with any extra veggies from the week. It’s a great way to use up your extra produce in one dish!
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1-2 tbs soy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sprouted grain toast (optional, of course! But the scramble is delectable with vegan butter and toast)

Wrap the blocks of tofu in a dry paper towel. Set on a smooth plate or cutting board and add weight on top. I sandwich my tofu between two cutting boards and stack my cookbooks on top. Whatever gets a decent amount of water out of the tofu, works! Let the tofu sit this way for ten minutes or so.

While waiting, heat the sesame oil on medium/high heat. When warm, add your veggies. Add a tablespoon of soy sauce. If the veggies are sticking to the pan, add water, a tablespoon or so at a time.

When the tofu is ready, crumble into the pan with the veggies. Stir and add your second tablespoon of soy sauce. Continue to cook until tofu is heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Any other vegan recipes you’d recommend for brunch?



Related Posts:
Recipes for Vegan Brunch on

Savory Grilled Polenta Muffins (Vegan & Gluten Free!)

Guys, this is my first original recipe that I’m posting for you all! *Cheers*

I took inspiration from a recipe in Roberto Martin’s book, Vegan Cooking for Carnivores, which is one of my personal favorite vegan cookbooks. Roberto shares recipes that are easy to make and easy to understand, and in the case of this recipe, easy to modify and make your own.

Savory Grilled Polenta Muffins- so easy, so good!

Savory Grilled Polenta Muffins- so easy, so good!

Savory Grilled Polenta Muffins 

Vegan and gluten free!

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Wait Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes



Olive oil cooking spray

3 cups water

1 1/2 cups gluten free polenta or corn grits 

1 green bell pepper, minced

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

sea salt to taste

black pepper to taste



Spray a muffin tin with the cooking spray and set aside.

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and add the polenta. Stir the polenta constantly until it begins to get thick (about 1-2 minutes). Add the minced pepper, olive oil, salt, and pepper and continue to stir until the polenta becomes very thick (about 3 minutes longer).

Scoop the polenta mixture into the muffin tin and smooth the tops of each muffin with a spoon. Set the muffins aside for at least 30 minutes to reset.

Gently pop the muffins out of the tin with a spoon and brush them lightly with olive oil.

Preheat a grill, grill pan, or, in my case, a non-stick skillet on hight heat.

Add the polenta muffins and grill for a couple minutes on each side, or until the muffins begin to brown.

Serve warm or refrigerate and enjoy as a cool summer afternoon snack.

Serves 8.

Let me know what you think of my first original recipe!




Savory Grilled Polenta Muffins- so easy, so good!

Vegan Snacking: 10 Snacks That Will Make You Forget Potato Chips

The Best Vegan and Plant-Based Nutrition Snacks on #vegan

I run a lot (like, a whole lot), so I’M ALWAYS HUNGRY. That said, when I first transitioned to a  plant-based diet, I struggled with staying full between meals. I had no problem creating delicious vegan breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, but I would often forget about the snacks that fall between. Not having vegan snacks readily available made it so much easier to resort back to my old ways:  i.e. binge eating pretzels with Nutella. For those who are considering switching to a plant-based diet (or who just need to switch up their vegan snacking routine!), here are my suggestions for super easy, super filling, and super delicious snacks.


No-Bake Peanut Butter Crisp Balls


Kale Chips


Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Bites


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Bars


Cinnamon Kettle Corn


Spicy Sweet Potato Fries


Chubby Hubby Protein Bars


High Protein Banana Peanut Butter Snack


Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Miracle Cookies


Chocolate Covered Banana Almond Bites

What are your favorite vegan snacks?



p.s These snacks are so easy and delicious that they are an easy way to start incorporating healthy vegan food to your diet if you haven’t already!

Related Posts:

Running Hard, Getting Healthy, and Going (Almost) Vegan

Adventures in Plant-Based Nutrition

The FAQs of a New Vegan


Lemon Mango Cucumber Water- Yum!

Lemon Mango Cucumber Water. Yum! on

The idea is so simple, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner! Add cut up cucumbers, lemon, and frozen mango to a pitcher of water, and suddenly you have a refreshingly healthy drink that actually makes you excited to drink more water. Plus, every time I pour a glass I feel kind of fancy. 😉

Some other flavors I have in mind:

*Cucumber Mint

*Strawberry Lemon

*Blueberry Lemon Lime

*Honey Lemon with a hint of Green Tea

*Cucumber Watermelon

*Honey Lavender


What’s your favorite?




Related Posts:

50 Awesome Flavored Water Recipes

Naturally Flavored Water

Adventures in Plant-Based Nutrition

Running Hard, Getting Healthy, and Going (Almost) Vegan

Adventures in Plant-Based Nutrition

My Plant-Based Nutrition Plan on

I’ve been a vegetarian (actually more of a pescetarian, really) for five months already. I originally toyed with the idea of switching to vegan and cutting out all animal products all together. But I was skeptical. Would that really improve me health? Would I have less energy? How would I be able to eat out? And what about the stigma around the word “vegan” itself?

Plus, I really, really love cheese.

And ice cream.

And more cheese.

But then I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives, which introduced me to the plant-based diet. A plant-based diet is a bit different from veganism. Besides not eating animal products (including dairy, eggs, and meat), people following a plant-based diet also limit their oil, refined sugar, and refined carb intake. And this is what appealed to me the most. I’ve always had this nagging feeling that sugar and refined carbs might be contributing to my sluggishness, worsening allergies, and poor, sensitive skin.

I’ll admit it; I’m not ready to dive cold turkey into a plant-based diet. I still love and cook with olive oil (having an Italian family and living in Florence for a bit makes the idea of cutting out olive oil earth-shattering), and I’m hesitant to give up fish.

So instead, I’m giving myself the following easy guidelines to follow:

1. No meat (duh).

2. No dairy (including cheese and milk). For my coffee, I’ve switched to agave nectar for sweetening and soy milk.

3. No refined sugar.

4. Eat whole foods (veggies, grains, you get the idea).

5. Eat processed whole foods (crackers, pita bread, and cereal) sparingly.

6. Avoid adding oil when cooking and limit oil consumption to coconut and olive oil when possible.

7. Eat fish, but sparingly and buy the highest quality possible (think: wild salmon over canned tuna).

8. Make more of my own training food: protein bars, gels, sports drinks. I have a feeling this is going to save me some money as well!

9. When I travel (to say, Amsterdam to visit my sister), I’ll try my best to eat according to the plant-based diet, but enjoy the local food to its fullest. So yes, I’m going to eat stroopwafels. Just maybe not ten of them….

10. Try new things. Cook with new veggies and beans. Continue to try new ethnic restaurants with a new perspective. Use my crock pot more often. Buy more cook books. Experiment with my own version of recipes. Fall in love with food- real, whole, and delicious food.

11. Share my adventures and recipes in plan-based nutrition with you all on MiaPrimaCasa!

What do you think about my plant-based nutrition plan? Any suggestions or recommendations?

Plant Based Diet Reading on miaprimcasa

My Plant-Based Education Reading List:

Forks Over Knives by Gene Stone, T. Colin Campbell, and Caldwell B. Esselstyn

The Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition by Julieanna Hever

No Meat Athlete

The Kind Life

Related Posts:

Running Hard, Getting Healthy, & Going (Almost) Vegan

The Easy, Healthy, Cheap Popcorn Recipe

Easy Healthy Popcorn

This recipe is so simple, I don’t know how I didn’t know about it for so long!  Recently, my friend told me the easiest way to make healthy popcorn your way:

Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into a large pot. Add salt, pepper, garlic, or whatever other delicious combos you can think of! Pour in 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels. Be sure to add the lid to the pot, then set on medium high heat until the kernels begin to pop. Shake the pan occasionally to be sure the kernels don’t burn and are evenly coated in the oil and seasoning. In true vegan fashion, I added one and half tablespoons of nutritional yeast (kind of like vegan cheese topping) to the popcorn. Super easy, as healthy (or not) as you want, and also cheap (I bought my kernels in bulk at Whole Foods for a couple bucks). Yum!

Homemade Chewy Granola Bar Recipe

Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

After the success of my first attempt at homemade granola bars (recipe here!), I found another recipe to try. This one isn’t as healthy (brown sugar included) but doesn’t crumble as easily and tastes delicious. I found the original recipe at (recipe here). I replaced the wheat germ with chia seeds, but I think flax seeds are also a good replacement.