5 Seasonal Favorites + Carrot Top Pesto

Carrot Top Pesto / www.loveandlemons.com

Two things I’m obsessed with: vegetables (no surprise there), and Instagram. I love posting images of pretty vegetables, but I also look to my feed for fresh, colorful veggie inspiration. Which is why I’m excited to participate this week in #urwhatupost – a fruit and vegetable takeover movement by Bolthouse Farms. They’ve created this cool website that shows how many people are tagging healthy vs. unhealthy foods in real time. For example, as I type this, the scale is about 65% junk food, and 35% fresh produce, but today through March 6th, we’re trying to change that.

Things like #icecream (11 million tags) and #pie (14 million tags) are the top two socially shared foods. So here’s the goal: let’s all get together and start sharing gorgeous colorful veggies like #carrots (6 million), #kale (3.9m), #mushrooms (3.5m), #potatoes (7.2m), and #brussels sprouts (56K) and shift the dial this week toward the fresh foods we all love most. All you have to do is simply label your favorite fruits and vegetables as hashtags or keywords in your posts on Instagram and/orTwitter.

Here are 5 of my favorite seasonal vegetables along with some of my favorite recipes. (Also, a recipe for Carrot Top pesto at the bottom – don’t toss those tops!)

Carrot Recipes:
Roasted Carrot Turmeric Soup / Farmhouse Farro Salad / Spiced Carrot & Chickpea Salad / Carrot Muffins with Coconut Whip / Vegan Carrot Cake / Collard Wraps with Carrot Hummus

5 Favorite Veggies: Brussels Sprouts / www.loveandlemons.com
Brussels Sprout Recipes:

Brussels Sprout & Sunchoke Salad / Brussels Sprout, Broccoli & Avocado Rice / Sweet Potato & Brussels Skillet / Shredded Brussels Sprout & Apple Salad

Mushrooms / www.loveandlemons.com
Mushroom Recipes:

Shiitake & Napa Cabbage Gyoza / Creamy Polenta & Mushrooms / Mushroom & Quinoa Lettuce Wraps / Walnut-Mushroom Veggie Burgers / Mushrooms & Wheatberries / Sesame & Shiitake Soba Noodles

Sweet Potatoes / www.loveandlemons.com
Sweet Potato Recipes:

Sweet Potato Vegetarian Chili / Spicy Sweet Potato Tostadas / Healthy Loaded Sweet Potatoes / Sweet Potato Tahini Crostini / Curried Sweet Potato Soup / Sweet Potato Pomegranate Salad

Kale / www.loveandlemons.com
Kale Recipes:

Kale Walnut Pesto / Winter Roasted Kale Salad / Kale Egg & Avocado Toast / Matcha Kale Smoothies / Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Chickpeas & Kale / Butternut Squash, Kale & Quinoa Stew

Also, these fruits & veggies (not pictured in this post) also count toward the cause: #pomegranate, #berry, #potato, #avocado, #grapes, #beets, #vegetable. They can be typed in singular or plural form, with or without the hashtag.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies / loveandlemons.com

Happy Saturday! Here’s a sweet little (vegan) weekend treat.

I just realized, for as much as I love to bake cookies, this blog is seriously lacking recipes to show for it. And then I realized why – the camera can hardly snap fast enough before Jack reaches his hand in and they all disappear. Waiting for me to arrange warm cookies nicely on a plate is just not something this guy I’m with has patience for.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies / loveandlemons.com

These cookies are made with coconut oil instead of butter. I like using it because it’s a great healthy non-dairy fat that’s less processed than vegan butter substitutes. A flax “egg” holds these together but if you’re not vegan and don’t have flax – you can just use an egg.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies / loveandlemons.com

You’ll notice, this is sort of a small batch. This recipe makes 12 cookies, so just double it if you are making cookies for your family. For Jack and I (who will eat these all in one day), less is just more. 

Loaded Sweet Potato Avocado Toast

Loaded Sweet Potato Avocado Toast / loveandlemons

I know – avocado toast is SO over, and even if it weren’t, you don’t need a recipe for it. This trend might be on it’s way out, but you’ll still find me (and pretty much everyone else on Instagram) happily smashing & snapping away.

I usually keep mine simple – avocado, lemon, salt, pepper and a sprinkle of hemp seeds. It’s a perfect combo that doesn’t need to be messed with, but since this was “dinner toast” for us one night last week, I thought I’d get a little fancier with the toppings. (Also, Jack is still claiming that he doesn’t like avocado, but if I hide it a little, no complaints).

Loaded Sweet Potato Avocado Toast / loveandlemons

This chart of ingredients looks a little fussy, but most of these are pantry staples and items that I happened to have on hand. For example, the adobo sauce (our favorite addition here) comes from a leftover can of chipotles that I had previously opened for this chili recipe. So feel free to use and re-use whatever you like. Send me your winning combos and, together, let’s keep this trend alive!

Loaded Sweet Potato Avocado Toast / loveandlemons

Oscar Party Appetizers & Wine Pairings

Oscar Party Appetizer & Wine Pairings / loveandlemons.com

The Academy Awards are this weekend – have you seen all of the movies? We’ve binge-watched only a few of them, but so far my favorite is the Grand Budapest Hotel. Does anyone know where I can get Jack a hat that says “Lobby Boy?”

Whether or not you’re into the glitz and glam of it all, we love any excuse to gather over food and wine. We’ve partnered with Dark Horse Wine to create 3 fun Oscar-themed appetizers along with some unexpected wine pairings. To make things easy, most of this menu can be prepared in advance, and all of these Dark Horse wines are under $10 (Honestly - I was surprised when I heard the price because, to me, each one tastes much more expensive!).

Red-Carpet-Ready Red Pepper Soup / Oscar Party Appetizers & Wine Pairings
Red-Carpet-Ready Red Pepper Soup
with Dark Horse Big Red Blend

My favorite part of the Oscars is really the Red Carpet (aren’t the dresses everyone’s favorite?) I normally wouldn’t start a wine menu with a bold red, but I couldn’t resist the word play. In my opinion, “wine rules,” are meant to be broken.

Why we love this pairing: The Big Red Blend is just how it sounds – big and bold – yet we found it to be really smooth as well. We love it with this red pepper soup that’s creamy, tangy, and just a tiny bit smoky. Special bonus: this simple soup can be made the day before your party.

Oscar Party Appetizers / 'Best Dressed' Endive Quinoa Spears
Best Dressed Quinoa Endive Spears
with Dark Horse Chardonnay

I can’t think of a more glamorous looking vegetable than endive. It’s such a swanky way to serve salad as an appetizer. And, conveniently, the quinoa filling can be made in advance. Break out your best fruity olive oil and dress this to the nines.

Why we love this pairing: The creamy Chardonnay nicely contrasts with the bitter bite of the endive. The tangy dressing and sweet currants bring out the peachy vanilla nuances in the wine.

Pear, Arugula & Feta Mini Pizzas. An easy Oscar party appetizer.
Appetizer in a Leading Role: Pear & Arugula Mini Pizzas
with Dark Horse Merlot

These little pizzas are easy but elegant – especially with bright, peppery arugula on top. They’re filling enough to be our “leading role” so that your guests will last through the too-long Oscar speeches.

Why we love this pairing: An unexpected layer of pear “pairs” (pun intended, so sorry) well with this fruit forward wine. Salty feta and peppery arugula bring out the spicier notes in the wine. 

Millet Cakes with Carrots & Spinach

Millet Cakes with Spinach & Carrots / www.loveandlemons.com

I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get quinoa to stick together to form cohesive patties. With eggs, without eggs… I’ve made countless variations, some more successful than others but now I have just one word: millet.

It turns out that millet is sticker than quinoa so these little guys bind together really easily. They’re packed with carrots and spinach and spiced with curry and garlic. This recipe is so delicious and foolproof… as it should be since it comes from America’s Test Kitchen’s new book: The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook.

Millet Cakes with Spinach & Carrots / www.loveandlemons.com

Because I knew this recipe was well tested, I messed with it anyway. I knew many of you would ask if these can be made vegan, so I tried these 2 ways – half (as written) using an egg and yogurt to bind the patties, and half using flaxseed and almond milk to vegan-ize them. Guess what – both ways worked! The sticky millet was enough to bind the cakes together, with or without eggs.

The only other instruction I didn’t follow, was that I baked mine instead of pan frying them as they recommended. They were delicious baked, so I can only imagine that they’d be extra tasty if you were to pan fry them.

Millet Cakes with Spinach & Carrots / www.loveandlemons.com

So back to the book – you’re going to want this one in your kitchen. It’s packed with 700 recipes, vegetable cooking tips, ingredient explanations, step-by-step chopping how-to’s and more. It’s a great resource for vegetarians or anyone who just wants to incorporate more meatless meals into their lives. Many of the recipes are also vegan and gluten free. Buy it here, or leave a comment below telling me: what’s your favorite meatless meal? One lucky winner will win a copy. Giveaway is open to U.S. & Canadian residents only and will end March 13th.

The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by America's Test Kitchen