about me

    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    EmilyBMalone@gmail.com

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    A Look Back.



Twenty Minute Meals.

There was a time a few years ago – when I was living in Charlotte – when I used to write more of a daily journal.  That’s was mostly due to the fact that I was in culinary school and I was writing about my daily classroom experiences.  But during that time, I used to share a lot of the meals I cooked at home too. 

As my cooking and writing developed, my food posts became more recipe centered.  I don’t miss sharing every detail of my days (which you would likely find very boring), but sometimes I find myself plating out our dinners and thinking – this isn’t a recipe, but it would be a fun meal to share

I am by no means an expert, but over the years I’ve developed a few tricks and trips to help my family eat a balanced, vegetarian diet even when time is short and days are long.  Here are a few things we’ve been eating lately – not recipes – just easy, throw together types of meals.

Once a week, I usually make a big mixture of grains/beans/lentils in the rice cooker – something I can keep in the fridge all week long.  Casey packs small containers for his work lunches, and it’s an easy healthy option for me to grab in between Cullen’s naps.

When we got home from Ohio on Wednesday night, I made a big batch of brown rice and lentils – 2 cups brown rice, 2 cups French lentils, 7 cups water, 1 vegetable bouillon cube – all on the quick-cook setting of the rice cooker.  Friday afternoon, I pulled it out of the fridge and served up an easy, healthy lunch for me and C.

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Our lunch dates are one of my favorite parts of the day.  It is clearly a highlight for Indy too.

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A small plate of brown rice, lentils, and green peas for Cullen.  Fifty percent in his belly, 25% in his seat, 25% flung from the high chair with wild arm swoops – his newest trick.

Even though this dish was already pretty high in protein, I topped mine with three drippy eggs because it just sounded good.  A little egg-y goop in each bite – delicious.  Kept me full for many hours, which isn’t an easy task these days.

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Here’s another yummy meal we had recently – this time for dinner.  Again, so easy, but delicious nonetheless.  And in case you are looking for easy weeknight dinner ideas, here you go.

Marinated & roasted mushrooms, cheesy baked kale chips, and seasoned black beans.  Twenty minutes from start to finish.  My only regret was not making double the amount of mushrooms – so good.

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This is one of those throw together and forget about it types of meals.  The kind that cooks itself while you are doing dishes, answering emails, or soaping up little baby bodies before bed.  As easy as…

Mushrooms:  Trim ends off four large portabellas.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Whisk together a mixture of olive oil (~2 tbsp) and ume plum vinegar (~1 tbsp).  Brush mixture generously on gills and tops of mushrooms (both sides).  Bake face up for 15 minutes, then flip face down and bake for 5 more.

If you don’t have ume plum vinegar, go buy some immediately.  It’s a game changer.

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Cheesy Kale Chips:  I have recently been buying pre-torn bags of organic kale from Trader Joe’s.  I rarely buy prepared vegetables, but this is a HUGE time saver and it’s organic – a double YES.  Casey and I have big appetites, so for the two of us I cook TWO big bags of kale.  Don’t judge.

I shake one bag of kale into a bowl, top with a big glug of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a very generous layer of nutritional yeast.  Then I add the second bag on top, and repeat with all toppings.  I pull up my sleeves and rub the salt/oil/yeast into the kale with my hands for a few minutes, making it wilt and shrink. 

I dump the whole bowl out onto a baking sheet and spread it evenly.  One more coating of nutritional yeast on top, and I pop it in the oven (right above the mushrooms) for about 15 minutes (usually stirring once halfway through). 

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Black Beans:  Rinse and drain a can of black beans.  In a small sauté pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add beans.  Add a few pinches of garlic powder and chili powder, a dash of cumin, and just a hint of cayenne pepper.  Finish with sea salt.  The spices will get toasty over the heat, and they really jazz up a boring can of beans. 

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Like I said, nothing groundbreaking here, but simply a good example of how I might throw together one of our weeknight meals.  (I should note that we typically have a more carb-heavy dinner, but we’d both had big breakfasts and lunches, so this dinner was a little lighter than normal.)  Heavy on the veg, and enjoyed in front of our favorite Canadian TV show – Dragon’s Den – along with some home-brewed kombucha.  But that is a post for another day. 

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I’ll try to start popping in and sharing more meals like this here and there.  Obviously I’ll keep plugging away at recipes too.  I don’t have time to make an elaborate meal every night of the week, and I know you don’t either.  In between feasts and homemade breads, there’s nothing wrong with sprucing up a simple can of beans. 

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81 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Laura Ann     at 9:43 am

This kind of post is exactly why I read your blog. Very practical for the healthy, busy vegetarian. Thank you!

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Veg Runner     at 9:44 am

I can’t wait to hear about your home-brewed kombucha! We have two batches going on now.

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Julianna @ Julianna Bananna     at 10:09 am

all the food looks delicious! and sub-20 minute dinners = WIN.

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Erin     at 10:25 am

Thank you! These are the things I need the most assistance on. I’m starting my next rotation of 10-12 hour days 6 days a week in the ICU which leaves little time for cooking so anyway I can do it quickly is a win for me.

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Mary Beth     at 10:28 am

YES to the “pop in” meals! My husband and i just began our journey with plant based eating and your blog has been like a lifeline for us! (our first vegan meal was your delicious crispy blackened tofu) Would love to know your quick throw together meals as that’s typically how we eat, too. Thanks for sharing, Emily!

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Mary Beth     at 10:30 am

and PS, we are finally getting Trader Joe’s in Columbia, SC! Opening around Christmas this year! – would love to know your go-to’s from TJs (maybe a post sometime soon?)

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Amanda     at 10:36 am

LOVE this! :)

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Lissa     at 10:40 am

Thank you Emily. Great ideas, silly question, do you take the stems off the kale from TJ”S? Nice that you share basic ideas that we all can use and enjoy.

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Lauren     at 10:46 am

Everything sounds so delicious. I want it all now! Lately I’ve been feeling g bogged down making elaborate meals but this goes to show simple is just as delicious.

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Ananda B.     at 10:51 am

Great post and I always appreciate your easy, practical ideas. They may seem basic but I often still haven’t thought of that: like frying up a quick egg to make the typical rice and beans a little more satisfying. As always, thank you!

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Laura (Blogging Over Thyme)     at 10:54 am

Definitely going to do that rice cooker thing with the rice and lentils! I didn’t think I could combine them all and cook it together in the machine. So excited about this!

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Lesley     at 11:18 am

Because of health issues, I have been trying a low sugar vegetarian diet but find that so many of the foods are high gas forming, which isn’t helping my tummy troubles at all. I like the suggestions for throwing a meal together but has do you get used to the eggs, legumes, veggie gas that comes along for the ride?

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Anne Reply:

I think you have to add it in little by little so your gut has time to adjust. The other thing is that foods hit people different ways, so what bugs your stomach may be fine for other people.

When I had this problem I kept a food/symptom diary and figured out which things were giving me trouble. Now I just try to avoid them or eat them in small quantities.

My only other suggestion is to eat smaller meals more frequently. That way you digest things more slowly and hopefully adjust to new foods better. Good luck!

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Leslie     at 11:39 am

Thanks Emily! I’ll take any recipes you’ve got to offer. I love to make big elaborate meals sometimes but most meals are the quick kind. I love your ideas on how to get a healthy meal on the table quick. Going to try the lentils/rice dish this week.

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sarah     at 11:42 am

I literally just pulled out some huge portebello’s from my oven! I wish I would have seen your post before because the ume plum vinegar is a great idea and I have some in the cupboard! Ugh, now I just have to try your idea next week! It looks delish!

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Michelle@PeachyPalate     at 11:56 am

Aside from the eggs we’re totally in to the same food. Brown rice and lentils is an awesome combination and I’d kale…actually I do eat kale without fail in some form or another every day of the week! :) Great post!

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R     at 12:19 pm

I love the way you cook and the things you share. It is so VERY helpful for my life of 2 hungry teens (vegetarian), hubby and me! We love your recipes and it seems you always post what I need next in the food category of my life! Thank you for sharing even if it seems simple it is sooo helpful!

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Rebecca @ Blueberry Smiles     at 12:29 pm

Writhing looks great! I’m so glad you posted them- I need 20 minutes meals on weekdays and I was out of ideas. Def going to try the mushrooms, kale, and make a lentil/rice mix. Thanks, Emily!

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Rebecca @ Blueberry Smiles     at 12:30 pm

****Autocorrect….I meant “Everything” not writhing :-)

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Amanda     at 12:33 pm

This post is amazing! I will make both of these next week. Keep ‘em coming!

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Amelia     at 1:09 pm

I love reading your posts! I especially like how you openly admit that each of you can pack away a bag of greens. I can too. You should see the looks I get from people when they realize how much I can eat (thank goodness Kevin doesn’t judge me).

Another great convenience item from TJ’s is their pre-washed baby bok choy containers. So good!

On days that I’m tired of grains, I use lentils or sweet potatoes for my base, top with sauteed greens of any kind and a few eggs. Lentils +drippy eggs = creamy deliciousness! :)

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Rachel     at 1:40 pm

Great post! Those are really my kind of meals.
I make big batches of grains to eat throughout the week too. It’s one of my survival tricks for meals on our boat. My favorite is black-eyed peas and brown rice cooked with coconut milk. Yum!

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Elisabeth     at 1:52 pm

Love this post! I love trying new recipes, but on work nights (I work 3rd shift) I don’t have time for that. This type of blog posting is super helpful for those nights :)

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Rachel wardell     at 2:07 pm

Brilliant, the more 20 min dinner ideas the merrier! Thanks x

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angela     at 2:09 pm

Emily, thanks for posting this! I read a lot of food blogs as well as yours and I’m always a little intimidated by the meals people eat. As a new blogger and a new mother, I don’t always have time to create a recipe that I can post. But sometimes I make dinners that are tasty and, at least, picture worthy. I’m glad to see someone with a blog as great as yours doing it, makes me feel less intimidated.

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Rachel wardell     at 2:13 pm

P.s could you tell me what French lentils are please? They look like what we call Puy lentils here in the UK x

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Julie (A Case of the Runs) Reply:

I think they are the same thing… read that in Veganomicon!

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elizabeth     at 2:20 pm

Nice to know I’m not the only person eating massive amounts of veggies! Wish you and Casey were my neighbors and could help me eat up all the greens in my garden.

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LaceyAnn     at 3:27 pm

I love easy quick healthy meals! I may not have a child like you, but there are always things that demand my attention more than making lunch and dinner. Thank you so much!

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Rachel     at 3:39 pm

Posts like these are why I read blogs. So helpful! Recipes can be great, but even better is learning how to just throw meals together. Thank you!

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elizabeth     at 3:57 pm

Thank you Emily for this great post. It is incredibly helpful. I am about to invest in a rice cooker. Will you please share some more of your creative meals using it? !?!

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jess     at 4:09 pm

Love this post. This is how people with busy lives eat! Great tips.

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Maureen @ Organically Mo     at 4:32 pm

I’ll have to see if my local TJ’s has bagged kale. I love it, but I HATE taking the time to prep it because for me & hubby we can eat 5-6 large bunches for dinner & lunch the next day. Bagged would make it soooo simple!

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Marissa@ohhhsolovely     at 4:36 pm

would love to see your kombucha recipe!!!

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Katie ks     at 4:54 pm

Love fast meals. More posts like this. Getting home at 6 and trying to feed kids before baths is tough wish you would get a crock pot and post good crock pot recipes too!!

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Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie     at 6:42 pm

All of this sounds delicious!! Thanks for sharing!

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Lan     at 7:31 pm

I love these easy to make dinner ideas. Please include more of these kinds of posts! So often, I’d stare into the refrigerator and wonder what kind of meal can I make with what’s in there that doesn’t feel like I just threw it together, i.e. it’s edible, but hardly inspiring nor are the flavors cohesive. It would be interesting to learn how you plan a meal when you’re down to the last bits before a grocery run or one based on miscellaneous leftovers, i.e. making a “new” meal out of them rather than just reheating. Thanks, again, for sharing!

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Anna H     at 8:22 pm

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! Simple, quick, filling and delicious! Please post more of these!

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Jasmine     at 11:44 pm

Love the quick meals! I have just recently started adding wilted kale to my meals. My favorite dish so far was cooking it with a little olive oil, lemon juice, some red pepper and adding some left over pasta. It was so tasty. I’d love to see what else you make with the lentil/rice mixture.

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Sarah     at 12:40 am

Thanks Emily! This post is perfect. Most of our meals are throw together ones like these so it’s nice to have some new ideas xxx

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Charlotte     at 2:45 am

Great post once again! I’m always looking for new ideas, and these sound good to me. Thanks for sharing them!

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Emily @ Life on Food     at 3:23 am

I love these meals. I am going to be making those black beans for lunch. I wouldn’t want meals like this every day but seriously you need them a couple times a week for sure.

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Val     at 7:41 am

LOve the quick meal ideas. I did not know you could cook rice and lentils combined. That is very exciting. I’ve got two questions. Would using vegetable broth work too? Is there a reason you use water/vegetable boullion (probably way cheapter)? Also how do you figure the water for the lentils in the rice cooker. If rice is 2:1 does that mean lentils are 1.5:1? Thanks for this post.

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Amy     at 7:42 am

I love this post…it’s exactly what I’m looking for!! Reality, day-to-day, quick, healthy meals!! More please!!!

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katy     at 8:58 am

I love it when you post things like this. As a newer vegetarian who is always crunched for time, these are SO SO helpful!!

Thank you!!

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Kari     at 9:35 am

Thanks so much for posting this. I’ve been a little overwhelmed with the complexity of my favorite recipes lately and it’s really helpful to have a reminder of how easily I can put together healthy things.

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Anna     at 12:15 pm

Love, love. Love it. Thank you so much !
I falowing your blog. for while, but bc I’m from
Europe and learn English from watching Sesame Street with my boys I never leave any comments. Your story and your recipe I enjoy so much that , for some thime I I was thinking to let you know . Keep up great work and don’t stop sharing with us.

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Beth     at 1:00 pm

Loved this post! This is normally what my husband and I’s meals look like so keep those ideas coming. I may get brave and try to make kale chips for the first time. Thanks!

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Sarah Anne @ Fear No Food     at 5:27 pm

I LOVE these kind of posts Emily! I get so caught up in having to make a “dish” that I forget how delicious simple things can be. I’m car more apt to make these meals than most recipes! Think you!

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Jenny     at 6:19 pm

I love this idea. Does anyone have a good suggestion for a rice cooker. And can any lentils be used? Any suggestions for us who do not have a tj? Our town sent in huge petition lists but they said no way. Such a bummer. Any tips would be great! I love these quick meal ideas!

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Jan     at 7:39 pm

Love this post! Please give us more. It’s so great to be able to create simple everyday meals.

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Joe @ The Frolicking Fells     at 8:45 pm

I am eager to see the recipe for home-brewed kombucha. I want to try it, but it’s just so expensive at Whole Foods and Earth Fare!

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Cailin     at 3:06 am

Thank you for this post. I emailed you many months ago in hope of a post like this!

I have not yet been successful at the Kale chips because I needed more specific directions like this- so I am going to give it another shot.

Also- with two kids 4 and under, a full time job and a baby due in less than 2 months- I need some time savers!

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Barefootgirl27     at 3:27 am

I love love love lentils… I might just make this for breakfast :)

I bought ume plum vinegar about 3 months ago and haven’t even opened it!!! I guess it’s time:)

Also. I commented a few weeks ago how your running has inspired me to start. And yesterday I ran my first 5k!

So thank you :)

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Rachel     at 7:37 am

love love love your “recipes” – honestly when i first started reading food and health blogs, yours was one of the only ones i actually used to cook from since they were real food recipes and not gimmicky “go buy this huge jar of health food paste that you will never use in another recipe again” type things.

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lauren     at 7:51 am

this post was actually really helpful! and has got me craving a healthy meal tonight :)

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Lisa     at 10:02 am

Monday-Thursday nights are usually the quick 20 minutes or less meals. It helps that our dinners are usually a protein + steamed veggies + salad. That’s easy and fast. Friday-Sunday I tend to make recipes that take longer.

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Angela     at 12:00 pm

Thanks so much for the quick meal ideas! These type of meals are so helpful b/c this is what I have time for during the work week.

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Angie     at 4:24 pm

My mom used to always make the lentil/rice combo with an egg all the time as kids! Only difference was that the egg was hardboiled and she added onions to the rice.

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shannon     at 4:47 pm

LOVE this post! Thank you. One of the most usable posts yet! Love your blog. Made the ‘shrooms and the kale tonight. Delishhhhh! Thanks.

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Emily @LivingLongfellow     at 6:11 pm

How do you season your black beans?? That mushroom and bean plate looks amazing. I think even I could handle making it.

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Diana @ frontyardfoodie     at 8:08 pm

Yummy and so wholesome! I am SERIOUSLY missing my beans right now. I had to give them up for breastfeeding because they torture my infant…and peanuts too (sob) but I do the same thing. Rice, homemade granola, homemade bread, potatoes and what not are my meal bases and then I just surround them with veggies and fruit.

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lisa     at 9:02 pm

Great suggestions! I enjoyed reading your posts during culinary school; don’t be hard on yourself! I love to make a big batch of black beans on Sunday and freeze some for the rest of the week…easy protein to throw into dishes.

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Maura     at 7:23 am

Please more posts like this! I am a working-outside-the home mom of two boys, 3 years and 3 months. I am desperate as to how to get faster meals on the table.
The bagged kale at TJs is a lifesaver. Lately I’ve been steaming it and having it with quinoa (i make a big batch every sunday to eat all week), an amy’s veggie burger and topping the whole thing with honey mustard dressing.
Question–what are your thoughts on kombucha and nursing? I’ve been drinking it for the last year and a half regularly, but just got nervous when reading last week it wasn’t recommended while nursing so i’ve stopped. But i miss it! Curious your thoughts or if your doc had weighed in on it?

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Katie     at 8:16 am

While I love the idea of having time to cook elaborate meals on a regular basis, it simply doesnt happen… So I love this post!

What are some other ways you use ume vinegar? I’ve had some sitting in my cupboard for a while and cant figure out what to do with it!

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laura     at 11:22 am

thank you for posts like this! i’d love to see your weekly meal plans… sometimes there just isn’t time to put together a real “recipe” but I am notorious for throwing meals together like this…. and would love more inspiration! and i am COMPLETELY with you on the volume eating! i can eat 4 servings of broccoli easy, peasy! the man at trader joes asked what i was doing with five bags of broccoli, and i just looked at him and said, um, eating it for the week….? abnormal, probably….

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Jennifer     at 1:17 pm

I love the idea of sprucing up a can of beans, but never really know what to do. I am hopeless when it comes to estimating spices – do you think you could give us some more specific guidelines on how much to add per can?

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Kelly     at 2:56 pm

This is basically all the kind of meals I cook so I definitely appreciate hearing about your easy meals :)

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Ayelet     at 11:17 am

Thanks so much for this post! I recently started a new job and have less time to cook. I was feeling as though I was in a bit of a food rut. A girl can only eat so much oatmeal, eggs, and salad. I just tried TJ’s Organic Kale according to your recipe, and I couldn’t stop eating it, fresh out of the oven. I also made some beans and rice that came out really well. Thanks again for the inspiration.

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Heather     at 5:26 am

Can you tell me were the tv stand pictured in the post is from? I’m looking for something similar. Thanks for thr awesome tips on time saving but delicious meals!

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katy     at 12:27 pm

Random question – and I know this probably isn’t the best post for it….
a lot of the recipes I have been trying recently call for veggie broth; using boxed or canned broth gets expensive, so I picked up some Knorr’s veggie bouillon cubes, only to later find out they have MSG. I don’t have time to make my own broth all of the time. What do you recommend? bite the bullet and just used the boxed stuff or is there a brand of bouillon you’d recommend?

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Daily Garnish » Blog Archive » Twenty-Minute Four-Bean Vegetarian Chili.     at 9:36 pm

[...] that a mouthful or what?  A few weeks ago I posted some of the quick, twenty minute meals that Casey and I typically eat during the week.  Many of you responded that you’d like to [...]

Daily Garnish » Blog Archive » Back To It.     at 5:56 pm

[...] giant pile of cheesy kale chips – with plenty leftover for lunches and for Cullen (he loves [...]

Eva     at 1:20 pm

What temperature do you use for your kale chips?

[Reply]

Anna     at 3:10 pm

Great post! Where can I find the ume plum vinegar? I looked at TJ’s and my local grocery store yesterday and couldn’t find it…I’ll try Whole Foods next!

[Reply]

Emily Malone Reply:

Whole Foods will have it!

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Aggie     at 6:54 pm

I truly appreciate this post. I cook similar easy quick meals each night that aren’t necessarily recipes. I love how you cook the rice & lentils all together in rice cooker – need to try that!

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Caitlin     at 5:47 pm

Just made these cheesy kale chips. Found myself wandering around TJ’s trying to decide on a green side and spotted the kale and remembered this dish. So stinking good! No kidding y’all can put down 2 bags! I had to stop myself in order to have dinner tomorrow night.

[Reply]

Barbecue Beans with Mushrooms « Cate's World Kitchen     at 7:12 pm

[...] a baking sheet, sprinkled with nutritional yeast, and baked at 375 til crispy.  Eternal thanks to Daily Garnish for the idea… I’ll never eat plain kale chips [...]

Mel     at 11:06 am

Went and bought some Ume Plum dressing specially to make the marinated mushrooms above, and oh boy am I glad I did – a revelation indeed! Served the mushrooms on top of butternut squash risotto made in my new Zoji ;)

[Reply]

100th Post Celebration!hello, veggy!     at 3:31 am

[...] Kale: Oven Kale Chips by Daily Garnish, Apple Dijon Kale Salad by Budget Bytes [...]

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