Meatless Monday Ciabatta Bread Veggie Pizza

This Meatless Monday, I’d like to share our typical Friday-night dinner – Ciabatta Bread Veggie Pizza – because, well, it’s one of our favorites. [In fact, it’s so good that sometimes we break down and make a second batch by mid-week.]

For us, Friday nights used to be a time to get dressed up and head to a local bar for drinks and a few hands of Texas hold ’em, but since Miss P’s arrival, that routine has been replaced with a new one: Our Friday evenings now entail a trip to the grocery store to stock up on necessities for the coming week, lots of playtime for Miss P and homemade vegan pizza for dinner.

[And if you’re currently thinking, “That sounds like a terribly dull way to spend a Friday night,” you’ve obviously never run errands with an infant in tow and you definitely haven’t attempted to prepare and consume longly stare at a meal until it’s ice cold in the company of said infant.]

This week was no exception! [And, in case you’re wondering, yes, the pizza is even delicious cold.]

Daddy & Miss P

Tim sporting Miss P! (I cannot believe how BIG she’s getting!)

Tim’s also sporting one of our handmade nursing necklaces – which Miss P absolutely loves – from our Etsy shop, The Tiny Acorn by J Lee. (We’d be honored if you’d drop by for a visit.)

Now, down to business: Tim’s been experimenting with vegan pizza for some time now, and he’s finally come up with a simple recipe we’re completely satisfied with. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Ciabatta Bread Veggie Pizza:

veggie pizza6

Move over, Delivery. Seriously.

Ciabatta bread bakes to a satisfyingly toasty yet toothsome pizza crust, and provides a hearty foundation for robust tomato sauce and all of your favorite toppings! Keep yours simple or get as inventive as you’d like. This meal is so quick – and easy – to throw together, making it an excellent choice for Meatless Monday.

Serves 4


  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • oregano (to taste)
  • basil (to taste)
  • garlic powder (to taste)
  • 15 oz. jar pizza sauce (We like Organicville.)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (We use Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds. It’s dairy-free and melts wonderfully, but you can use any brand you’d like.) 
  • 1/2 cup (or desired amount) red bell pepper, diced*
  • 1/4 cup (or desired amount) red onion, diced*

* We kept it simple and used red bell pepper and red onion, but the fresh veggie combos are unlimited, so feel free to experiment!

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the loaf of ciabatta bread in half, then cut each half lengthwise so you have four pieces. Drizzle each piece with olive oil (we use about 1 tbsp per slice). Spread sauce evenly over each slice (we use about 1/2 cup per slice), then dust with oregano, basil, and garlic powder, to taste. Next, generously sprinkle shredded cheese over sauce (again, we use about 1/2 cup per slice). Now you’re ready for your veggies, or other toppings. Add as many as you like; have fun experimenting here! (One of these weeks I’m also going to try fresh basil and sliced Roma tomatoes, yum!)

veggie pizza1

Olive oil

veggie pizza2

& sauce,

veggie pizza4

“cheese” & veggies, oh my!

Bake pizza at 400 degrees until bread becomes nice and toasty and “cheese” melts, approximately 16 minutes. Due to differences in ovens, keep an eye on your pizzas; they can go from cooked to perfection to charred in a matter of minutes, trust us. 😉 This pizza was definitely cooked to perfection!

veggie pizza5

Behold! Vegan-cheesy goodness!

Much tastier than takeout and healthier as well!


Meatless Monday Simple Vegetable Broth

In the midst of throwing together my favorite chili one afternoon, I realized I’d forgotten a staple ingredient during our weekly trip to the grocery store: vegetable broth.

[The dread]

I’d just spent over an hour meticulously chopping and measuring, and I didn’t feel like making another trip to the store, so I decided to try my hand at making my own veggie broth for the very first time.

The broth was simple to make, and the result was delicious and extremely cost efficient. Not to mention, it didn’t have any of the “mystery” ingredients commonly found in store-bought versions. (What the heck is natural flavor anyway? Does anyone else ever wonder about this?) One of the most outstanding features of this broth is that there’s absolutely no added sodium. Zero.

In my first attempt, I used veggies we had on hand, but you could certainly create your own combination(s). I’ve since altered this recipe many times, including ingredients, such as potato peels, a corn cob, and mushrooms, just to name a few.

As a general rule, I choose vegetables/ingredients that compliment whatever I plan to use the finished broth for. (Example: I added the potato peels to a broth that would later be used for potato soup.) I also try to avoid adding vegetables that have overpowering flavors, such as asparagus and brussels sprouts as well as ingredients that cook down too much, like sweet potatoes and red lentils.

Go ahead, and give it a try!

Simple Vegetable Broth

vegetable broth

This is a terrific basic vegetable broth; it’s simple to prepare, cost efficient, there’s no added sodium, and it doesn’t contain any of the “mystery” ingredients often found in its processed counterparts. (Alter the ingredients as needed to compliment the recipe in which you plan to use the broth)

Makes about 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups)


  • 1 large onion, chopped (I like to leave the skin on.)
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 medium-sized carrots, peeled and chopped
  • handful of fresh parsley sprigs
  • 7 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed

To prepare:

Wash vegetables thoroughly, and very coarsely chop them. Toss all ingredients into a large pot with a few tablespoons of water, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently for 7-10 minutes or until veggies begin to soften and brown. (Add water, a couple tablespoons at a time, as needed to keep the veggies from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add two quarts of water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Carefully strain the stock through a mesh strainer into another pot and discard what’s left of the solids. Viola! You’ve just made homemade veggie broth! Pat yourself on the back.

Broth will keep for about a week in the refrigerator or it can be frozen for several months. I usually double this recipe and freeze the broth in smaller portions so I have it on hand whenever I decide to make a batch of soup, which is often.


Meatless Monday Liquid Lunch

There was a time when, to me, “liquid lunch” meant cocktails at noon with my exuberant Uncle. Although these were enjoyable afternoons, those days are long gone, and, since then, the term has taken on quite a different meaning.

Allow me to introduce you to my power-packed friend, The Smoothie.

Smoothies have earned a starring-role in my diet for several reasons: They’re quick and easy to prepare, clean up and consume, and they travel exceptionally well. Most importantly, they allow me to supply my body with more of the vital nutrients it requires than I’d otherwise be able to fit in at most meals – a task than can feel daunting.

Oh, and did I mention they’re also delicious? They really are.


Call me a health nerd, but this picture makes me smile!

When Miss P was a newborn (before we mastered the whole babywearing thing), smoothies were often the only “meal” I had a chance to prepare until Tim got home from work- usually late in the evening.

As a brand new and exhausted nursing Mama, it was important for me -and Miss P- that I maintained a healthy diet, so when the stash of frozen meals my mom had prepared to get me through my first week home dwindled, I was grateful to have some stellar smoothie recipes in my arsenal.

Here’s one of my all-time favorites. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Dairy-Free Simple Banana Walnut Smoothie:

This rich and creamy smoothie is reminiscent of a decadent banana bread, but you can sip sans guilt; bananas serve as a source of steady energy, walnuts add protein and are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and cinnamon has powerful anti-inflamitory properties. What a healthy – and delicious – way to start your day!

Banana Walnut Smoothie

Makes one [very] large serving


  • 1 large ripe banana, frozen (Though you can use fresh, frozen makes a much creamier smoothie.)
  • 1/4 cup raw walnuts, soaked (see note below)
  • 2 or 3 pitted medjool dates
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • Handful of ice cubes (optional)

Toss all of the ingredients into a high-speed blender, blend until smooth, and viola! You have yourself a light – yet surprisingly filling – nutrient dense meal or snack. (I like to sprinkle my finished-product with additional cinnamon because it looks snazzy, plus I just absolutely love the stuff.)

NOTE: Nuts contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, which make them difficult to digest. Soaking your raw walnuts in filtered water overnight (or for at least 8 hours) will deactivate these properties making it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients you’re supplying it with.

Meatless Monday Taco Salad Supreme

Meatless Monday Taco Salad

A cruelty-free Cinco de Mayo smorgasbord!

This week’s Meatless Monday also happens to be Miss P’s first Cinco de Mayo! To keep things festive, we’ll be forgoing our beloved “Taco Tuesday” and feasting upon this mouth-watering taco salad with all the fixings a day early. Grab your sombrero and give it a try; this is one serious salad.

I’ll share how we do it, but please know this recipe is pretty much a free-for-all when it comes to ingredients and assembly.


Serves 4-6


  • 3 cups romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 a small red onion, diced
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 1 can pitted black olives
  • 15 oz. can black beans or pinto beans
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 package Mexican style veggie crumbles, equal to 1 lb. of ground beef (Lightlife Smart Ground is our favorite.)
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream (We like Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet.)
  • 1 1/2 cups salsa of your choice
  • tortilla chips of your choice

Optional Ingredients:

  • shredded cheese
  • refried beans
  • lime wedges
  • jalapeños
  • cilantro
  • hot sauce
  • scallions

(Really, the possibilities are endless.)

To prepare:

  • Keeping each item separate, shred lettuce, seed and dice tomatoes, dice red onion, and cut lime into wedges. Drain and slice olives. Set aside.
  • Drain and rinse beans; beans may be warmed over low heat in a sauce pan or served cold.
  • Prepare corn and veggie crumbles according to package directions.
  • When everything else is ready, slice the avocado. (This should be your last step, as avocados begin to turn brown quickly once exposed to air.)
  • Assemble salads on separate plates: We like to start with the veggie crumbles, beans, and corn, then add fresh ingredients. Finally, squeeze a couple of lime wedges over your salad, and top with a dollop of sour cream and some salsa.
  • Serve with a side of tortilla chips.

Note: I like to put each item in a separate container (containers with lids work best), and line them up along the countertop or tabletop. This makes assembling salads and storing/retrieving leftovers fast and easy.

Nom nom nom!

Nom nom nom!

Happy Cinco de Mayo from The Excellent Adventures of Miss P!

7 Months


7 Month Board

Happy 7 Months to Miss P! Seven. Months. How is that even possible? Seriously. 

Since her half-birthday, Miss P’s tasted her first solid foods. [Let’s hear it for avocados and sweet potatoes!] She’s become a pro sitter-upper, an exuberant hand-clapper and [wait for it, wait for it] a curious crawler; the last of which the cat and dog don’t seem overly impressed with. She’s also charmed our pants off – over and over again – with her well-placed declarations and whispers of Mama and Dada.

Yes, it’s certainly been a triumphant month for Miss P.

[Trumpets blare in the distance]

Miss P's First Itty-Bitty Pony-Tail

Miss P’s First Itty-Bitty Pony-Tail

One of the things Tim and I had been (apprehensively) looking forward to this month was dabbling in the introduction of solid foods. Although we were given the go-ahead to begin Miss P on rice cereal [gag] at four months, [Seriously, pediatricians, WHY are you STILL recommending this?] we knew from the beginning that we wouldn’t be offering her solids until she passed the six-month mark. And we certainly wouldn’t be beginning with rice cereal because you don’t have to do much digging to learn that, despite what that good ol’ ped tells you, rice cereal (or oatmeal or any other grain) is an extremely poor food choice for an infant.

First, rice cereal has little nutritional value. Second, in order to digest said grain(s), the body must utilize an enzyme called amylase. That sounds simple enough, I know, but the trouble is, babies don’t produce this enzyme in a large enough quantity to properly digest grains until sometime after the one-year mark. (Babies actually don’t produce amylase at all until sometime around 6 months.)

Armed with this information, Tim and I decided Miss P’s first foods would be two of Mama’s favorites: avocado (which is rich in healthy fats), followed by sweet potatoes (a decent source of iron). We also decided to skip the purées and begin with finger foods, a decision that initially left me all, wait, can you DO that? As it turns out, you can; It’s called baby led weaning (blw), and it’s something I recently learned about (and something I’ll speak much more about in a later entry). I do want to quickly clarify that in this instance, “weaning” is meant in the sense of beginning to incorporate solids, NOT terminating a nursing relationship.

At 6 1/2 months, we were ready to begin blw!

How did this seemingly zany method of introducing solids turn out? Was it a success? I suppose to answer, you’d have to decide on a personal definition for the word “success.” Our goal has always been for Miss P’s main source of calories and nutrition to come from breastmilk for the duration of her first year. That being said, we’re viewing these early encounters with solids purely as sensory experiences as opposed to meal replacements. We don’t always offer solids each day, and when we do, they quickly become squishy messy playthings.

Most of the food that reaches her mouth does so inadvertently, but that’s okay. She seems perplexed and amazed with these new textures and sensations, and we can’t get enough of her priceless responses to them.

Miss P’s verdict on the small amount of  food that’s actually been ingested: Avocados, NAY; Sweet potatoes, YAY!

7 Months Food Collage

Behold! Squishy things! I shall look confused for a moment, then proceed to mash these items up and transfer them to my lap!

As for this business with the crawling, I’m going to have to elect to skip over that and remain in denial for at least a few more weeks. I hope that’s okay.

[Emotional breakdown averted]

Now, on to our photo shoot, which proves more eventful each month:

7 months chair 3

7 months chair 2

7 months chair 1

7 months chair 4

She’s been checking out the books on the shelf behind her chair for months now, but this is the first time she’s ever plucked one from the ledge and pulled it into her lap mouth. [Note: It occurs to me now that we’re a bit backwards here with the whole food in the lap and book in the mouth bit.] We took a break from our photo shoot to read a book about Eeyore the Donkey. Alright, I had to take one picture of our story-time; it was just too sweet not to.

When she grew tired of the book and the chair, this happened:

7 months chair 5

Slow down, Miss P! Mama is not ready for this just yet. This is also one of the few pictures where I see some of myself in her; she’s usually all Daddy.

And sometimes in the midst of all this hustle and bustle, I’m able to capture a moment of serenity; these moments feel as if the whole world is taking a deep breath.


Black and White Garden

Miss P communing with nature.

Pensive playtime

Pensive playtime


An after-lunch nap for Miss P

Black and White Sleeping

Sweet dreams our Dearest Miss P. Mommy and Daddy love you.


A Maypole for Miss P

It’s May 1st, and this morning we celebrated Miss P’s first Beltane. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it involves much more history and lore than I currently care to dive into, but here’s a snippet of background: Beltane – which falls halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice – is an ancient pagan fertility festival that’s still observed by many today. It’s a time to celebrate life and the Earth’s abundance while acknowledging summer’s impending arrival.

Perhaps one of Beltane’s most widely known traditions is dancing around the Maypole (a tree or pole adorned with colorful ribbons). I must confess, there wasn’t much dancing around here, but there was some bouncing and clapping – one of Miss P’s newest tricks – and our celebration featured a miniature Maypole, which Tim helped us make last night.

In addition to the Maypole, I spent some time last night making daisy floral crowns- one for Miss P, and one for another tiny friend. Daisies represent simplicity, which is something I’ve been trying to align myself and our home with since Miss P’s arrival. It’s been a slow process, but, I must say, we’re making progress.

Beltane 3

Miss P’s counting down the days till summer in the dress her Grandma and Grandpa brought her back from their recent trip to Mexico.

Beltane 2

It’s so sweet to see her communing with nature; she just loves being outside.

Beltane 1

Of course while many are welcoming the summer after a long harsh winter, in South Florida, we’re enjoying our last days of temperate weather before the heat and humidity take over. We certainly live in a different world.

Wishing you all a bountiful summer!

Beltane 7