Black Bean Quinoa Mushroom Burgers


This past summer I discovered the best restaurant within a 100 mile radius of home! We were killing time in Milwaukee, and needed some place to eat dinner. After researching a gazillion healthy food options, we decided to give Cafe Manna in nearby Brookfield a try. The food was mind blowing! We ordered beverages, appetizers, entrees and desserts, without a single disappointment! We were in food ecstasy! Since our original visit in July, we have been back six times. I’m hooked on their “Tu-no Melt”, but my hubby is enamored with their Black Bean and Mushroom Burger. And this, my friends, is my take on their creation. The hubby promptly downed 2 burgers this evening, and declared them BETTER than the ones at the restaurant. Score one for me!


I started with black beans…


and then chopped mushrooms…


Then I smushed them together. (And smushed IS A WORD spellcheck.)


Next up, flax seed, cumin and salt…


and some cooked red quinoa.


Chop some onion…


add a little worcestershire sauce!


How about some freshly pressed garlic?


Mix it all together.


Form into patties and bake in the oven! Black beans really are not very photogenic. Good thing they taste better than they look.


Assemble on a bun with all the fixin’s!

Black Bean Quinoa Mushroom Burgers

1 can black beans

1 T. ground flax seed

1/4 cup cooked quinoa (I used red quinoa)

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

1 clove garlic, pressed

1 T. worcestershire sauce

1/2 T. cumin

1 t. salt


Rinse the beans. Then smash with a fork, leaving some beans whole. Chop mushrooms and stir into the beans. Add flax seed, cumin, and salt. Stir. Then add the remaining ingredients. Mix well. Form into 4 patties. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, flipping 20 minutes into baking time.

Serve with tomato, kale, and avocado on sprouted wheat bun. Add veganaise and dijon mustard for an extra taste explosion.

Pumpkin in My Cup


You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? I mean, I’m pretty sure, that many moons ago, this is where the pumpkin craze began. So, I guess at this moment, I would like to give a shout out to Starbucks! Funny thing is, in my Starbucks hay day, I NEVER even ordered a Pumpkin Spice Latte. I was always more of a plain latte type of girl. (Except of course during red cup season…peppermint mochas…but that, of course, is a different season and a different blog post!) The only place I have ever even had a PSL was at home. Made by yours truly.

So here you have it, Pumpkin Spice Latte’s ala Karen.


Homemade almond milk + coffee concentrate + pumpkin puree + dates + cinnamon + nutmeg + ginger = heaven on earth


Take the chill off the almond milk and coffee if needed (I had just made my almond milk, so it was already warm). Assemble ingredients in blender…


and blend up a PSL storm!


Sprinkle with cinnamon!


Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte

1 c. almond milk (homemade will really knock this out of the ballpark…recipe here)

3/4 coffee concentrate (I always have cold pressed coffee in the fridge…recipe here)

2 T. pumpkin puree

2 dates

spices to taste: I used cinnamon (3 shakes), nutmeg (1 shake), and ginger (1 quick shake).

Warm milk and coffee if needed. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend away until the dates are not visible. You will have a nice frothy topping without the use of any type of whip!

The Final Countdown

Well, Sunday’s the day. After 4 months of training, the much anticipated day is right around the corner.


Fox Cities Marathon, here I come. Let me try that again. Fox Cities Marathon, here I come! Or how about FOX CITIES MARATHON, HERE I COME!

I’ve spent the last week making sure I am well hydrated. And this my friends, is not only a challenge, but a bit risky as well. My classroom is nowhere near a bathroom, and two minutes passing time does not allow for frequent potty breaks. Despite this logistical issue, I’ve been drinking water and tea nonstop.

I am eating intelligently. I typically tend  to focus on fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds (and ANY kind of nut butter), but this past week I have upped my consumption of grains. In addition to my mandatory bowl of chia oatmeal (I feel I may have a small addiction problem here), I’ve been making sure that lunch or dinner also includes quinoa, amaranth, millet, or sprouted grain wraps or buns. Carbo loading? Yeah. Guilty.

An oatmeal topper!

That’s chia oatmeal hiding under chia jam and homemade PB!


A sprouted grain bun surrounding a marinated portobella “burger”.

I understand the importance of fueling my body during a long run. The discovery of Brendan Brazier’s Direct Fuel Bites and Energy Pudding, has been nothing less than incredible. I use to run on empty! I’ve also traded water in for coconut water during my long runs. I prefer not to utilize sport’s drinks due to the artificial coloring and flavors.


Energy Pudding BEFORE I run!


Energy Bites! Magical, simply magical!

I’ve focused on anti-inflammatory spices like cinnamon, turmeric, basic, garlic and ginger. (Not straight up, mind you…in delicious recipes.) I am not at all above using food in an effort  to reduce the aches and pains one experiences when training.


Anti-Inflammatory Tahini Turmeric Sauce. This tastes good on everything! (But I’m partial to roasted veggies.)

I’ve avoided alcohol. Not that I’m a big drinker mind you, one glass of wine on the weekend is usually my max. Two glasses and I can barely remember my name. There might be a margarita on the occasion we visit our favorite Mexican restaurant, but this past week I have not indulged.

I’ve trained like a 47 year old should intelligently train. I know the importance of cross-training. (Especially when injured, which is actually how I spent the first month or so of my training schedule). I continued to lift weights. And I got to bond with the elliptical at the Y. Plus there were plenty of bike rides. I even added yoga to my routine. Yoga is way outside of my comfort zone, so this is a big deal. So, it’s not like I didn’t train…I just didn’t run.

That being said, I’m feeling a little anxious about the run on Sunday. I’ve run marathons before. This will be #5 for me. At one time (notice I said at one time…not feeling as strongly about it being my last as I write this) I said it would be my last. And I think that is why I’m feeling some anxiety. My last marathon went well. Very well. I’m afraid that this one won’t go quite as well. And I don’t want to end on a bad note.


My knee issue that sidelined my training concerns me. I spent weeks visiting my chiropractor with no improvement. In early June I gave in to a cortisone shot . This didn’t magically get rid of the pain like I thought it would. But it did make it tolerable to run. I know that I will feel it about mile 3. And I also know it will fade a bit by mile 8. And then it will return. My concern is that I know I can handle 20, but I need to handle 26.2.

I’ve trained well. BUT I feel I trained better last year. My speed workouts moved from the track to the open road thanks to this nifty little present the family surprised me with for my birthday. But speed workouts created more knee pain. And I’m not really a fan of pain, so I backed off a bit from my targeted times.


And now I need to remember the deal I made with God last spring. (And yes, I totally get the fact that He doesn’t really care about how well I do on my run Sunday). I believe it was something like this:

If I can just run, I won’t even care about my time.

Alright. Just get me to the finish line. I want my t-shirt.



Quinoa Chili

Who would have thought that I’d be craving chili in the middle of September? Wisconsin weather has been incredibly unkind this past year. A frigid winter (can you say too many indoor recesses to count?), followed by a late spring, followed by a less than summery summer…you get the picture.  Actually I probably should have predicted chili in the middle of September.

Now the weather can’t take all the blame  credit…piles of tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and garlic played into the picture as well. On any given Monday night you can find me frantically using the remainder of veggies from the previous week’s CSA pickup.

This is actually the first time I have made this recipe using fresh tomatoes. I’ll have a hard time resorting to canned tomatoes this winter. It definitely gave it a super fresh taste.

While the chili got a thumbs up from the hubby the day I made it, I believe it deserved a two thumbs up the next day! Definitely tastier! And the addition of quinoa packs a nutritional punch and thickens it up quite well! Just the way I like it!



Chop some onions,


mince some garlic…


and saute in a pot.


Add some chopped green pepper, too!


Smells so good!


Chop some ripe tomatoes, and put those in the pot as well.


Get out your can opener!


A little seasoning…



Stir until blended.


Add a bit of uncooked quinoa.


Top with Garden of Eatin’ blue chips and Daiya cheddar cheese!

Quinoa Chili

1 T. olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

4 c. ripe tomatoes, chopped

3 cans of beans (I used kidney, pinto and black)

1 10 oz. can tomato sauce

2 cans water (used tomato sauce can)

1 6 oz. can tomato paste

2 T. Worcestershire

1 t. vinegar

2 T. chili powder

1 T. cumin

1/2 T. cacao powder

1 t. salt

1/2 c. uncooked quinoa

Saute garlic, onion and green pepper in olive oil until onion is translucent, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes. Stir. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, and water. Stir until blended. Add spices, worcestershire sauce and vinegar. Bring to boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the quinoa. Simmer for another hour or so, or until you can’t take the smell any longer and need to dig in!

Serve with chips and “cheese”. I used Garden of Eatin’ blue chips and Daiya cheddar.

Pumpkin In My Pan(cake)


Funny story. As you may know, I’ve been super excited that it’s pumpkin time. One week in and I’ve already made Pumpkin Bread, and Pumpkin Chia Oatmeal 4 times. So, yesterday (Saturday), it was time. I had waited long enough. Bring on the Pumpkin Pancakes! We were in a little bit of a hurry, as we were heading out to see our nephew play football, but I simply could not wait one more day.

I gathered all the ingredients, and started pouring and measuring like crazy…multi-tasking at its best. I even took  out the camera so I could take pretty pictures along the way. The batter looked a little runnier than I had remembered, but it had been a year since I had last made them. I didn’t think anymore of it.  I left my husband in charge, while I ran upstairs to take a shower. When I came back down, he was busy trying to scrape the remnants of a poorly flipped pancake off the griddle. I rolled my eyes. Rookie. I quickly took over.

Within minutes, I handed him a plate full of suspiciously flat pancakes, and he started eating. Then he added more syrup. And then a little more syrup. But, he kept on eating. While I was flipping the next pancake, a piece broke off. Not able to stand the waiting any longer, I shoved it into my mouth. Chewed. And chewed. But I could not swallow it. Most disgusting tasting pancake I have ever eaten. And there is my honey, choking them down, not wanting to say anything. What a guy.

Long story short, the rest of the batter went down the garbage disposal, and I quickly whipped up some Pumpkin Chia Oatmeal to take with me on the road.

This troubled me all day. I could not figure out where I had gone wrong. All I can say is nothing good comes of multi-tasking while creating in the kitchen. At least not for me. At my age.

This morning I felt a strong need to redeem myself. Hubby headed off to church early, and I went to work whipping up another batch of pancakes. Totally nailed it. Even texted the honey a picture of my pancakes so he would come back home between services for a quick bite. (And pick me up…I’m kinda sneaky that way.)

So here you have it, Vegan Pumpkin Spice Pancakes compliments of Vegenista, a recipe I followed to the letter! Or at least I followed it to the letter today. That probably wasn’t the case yesterday. Alright, alright…I made a few minor changes today too, but thankfully they turned out absolutely scrumptious!


Ingredients are gathered.


Wet ingredients…


…and dry ingredients.


Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.


Give a stir and wait another 5 minutes. Excruciating!!! I just want to make pancakes!


And it’s time to make pancakes!


Wait for the edges to look dry…


and for bubbles to appear.




That’s quite a stack of pancakes! Nice and fluffy too. (I already ate my two by this time.)


These are not sweet pancakes AT ALL…so pecans, coconut flakes and carob chips are a must for me! So is maple syrup!



Love the light and fluffy texture!


Vegan Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

1/2 c. canned pumpkin

2 1/2 c. water

1/2 c. almond milk

1 t. apple cider vinegar

1 t. vanilla

2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour

2 T. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1 t. salt

1/2 t. cinnamon

1/4 t. nutmeg

1/4 t. allspice

Add apple cider to almond milk and let sit for 5 minutes. Mix canned pumpkin, water and vanilla. Add almond milk mixture. Add all dry ingredients. Mix. Let sit for 5 minutes. Stir and let sit for another 5 minutes. Heat griddle on high. Once heated, spray with non-stick spray and turn down heat to medium high. Pour pancake batter on in a size that makes you happy. My pancakes were about 8″ in diameter, and I was able to make 8 pancakes. 2 pancakes completely filled me up!

Adorn pancakes with pecans, carob chips, coconut flakes and maple syrup.




Chocolate Peanut Butter

I have a confession. I enjoy grocery shopping. Especially at Whole Foods (which, given the fact that the nearest store is 100 miles away, I don’t get to very often). I could spend hours comparing products and analyzing ingredient labels. Sometimes I like to look at some of the new processed foods on the market just so I can start ranting about all the junk that gets put into these products. I then feel challenged to come up with a healthier alternative. Case in point: Hershey’s Chocolate Peanut Butter. I totally nailed this one! Look how pretty it is. And its looks don’t even touch its taste!


A picture is worth a thousand words.


Labels also tell a story. This one reads like a horror story.



I knew I could make a healthier version!


You should give this a whirl! ;) Plain old peanuts in action.


Getting all crumbly!


A big peanut BALL!


I love this part…all of sudden the ball flattens out!


A few more minutes and it’s noticeably creamier…


…and creamier…


Add in cacao powder, salt and coconut oil!


I’m exercising a great deal of patience here!


Messy, but oh, so worth it!


A work of art!


If chocolate peanut butter could take a selfie, it would look like this!



Chocolate Peanut Butter

2 c. raw organic peanuts

2 T. liquid sweetener of choice (I have used maple syrup and agave)

1 1/2  T. cacao powder

1-2 T. coconut oil

1/2- 1  t. salt

Place peanuts in food processor. Process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add remaining ingredients. Start with the smaller amounts of coconut oil and salt. Add as needed. Process until blended.

I find this recipe pairs quite nicely with my index finger. (Saves on spoons, which are my second favorite way of eating it.)

What’s your favorite peanut butter combination? When I was pregnant with my second born, I dipped Milwaukee Baby Dills in it!!

Pumpkin in My Bowl

Ever since last weekend, when I found out it was legal to eat pumpkin, I have been dreaming about this bowl of oatmeal!



I fantasized about it. I even sacrificed my very strict morning routine to not only make, but take pictures of my oatmeal. When my husband came home from work I proudly showed him my pictures. Apparently he doesn’t understand just how much this bowl of oatmeal meant to me. Men.


This oatmeal is actually a breeze to put together! First, gather ingredients: oatmeal, chia seeds, almond milk, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and PUMPKIN puree!


Doesn’t look like much right now, does it?


I was so impatient I forgot to take a picture before I started to stir. So, here we are…mid-stir!


Taadah! Adorned with pecans, coconut flakes, carob chips and maple syrup. Carob chips are my new “thing”.

I know what I’ll be having tomorrow for breakfast. And the day after that. And the day after that…. you get the idea! It’s THAT good!

Pumpkin Chia Oatmeal

1/3 c. old fashioned oats

2 T. chia seeds

1/8 t. salt

1 c. almond milk

2 T. pumpkin puree

1/2 t. cinnamon

1/4 t. nutmeg

1/8 t. ginger


1 small handful pecans, a sprinkling of unsweetened coconut flakes, a few carob chips, and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Put oatmeal, chia seeds, salt, and almond milk in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then immediately turn down the heat to medium and cook until oatmeal thickens. Add pumpkin puree, and spices. Stir. Put in a bowl. Add toppings. EAT!

What is your favorite way to eat pumpkin?

Tangy Tomato Sauce

Well, once again I was under extreme pressure to use up a bunch of veggies before I picked up my  CSA box this past Tuesday. Actually, that’s a lie. We weren’t home this past weekend, so the veggies from last week went untouched for 2 days! I actually picked up the CSA box, went home, and then panicked. I was overwhelmed with all of the veggies I needed to find a “home” for. I had one big honkin’ zucchini that was taking up a lot of space in the veggie drawer. It had to go. The carrots and broccoli and cauliflower needed  space. So…here is what I came up with. A tangy tomato sauce based on a recipe by Angela Liddon of OhSheGlows. I was able to use my CSA zucchini, tomatoes, onions, green pepper, garlic, and basil! And, due to the fact that we prepay for our CSA, it was like we were eating for FREE. My husband was quick to point out that it definitely was not free…but it was so very worth it! Just the smell alone was worth a million dollars.


CSA garlic, onions and green peppers…


up close and personal.


Super ripe tomatoes…


they wanted a close-up too!


Cook all the veggies down…


until they get nice and thick!


Now this part is ingenious…sundried tomatoes! They add a zing…or tang…or zip! They go into a blender…


along with a couple of scoops of the tomato/pepper/onion mixture and blend!


Put this mixture back into the pan.


CSA basil! Cupboard oregano. (Embarrassing…not CSA.)


Stir it up and enjoy the smell!


Enter the big zuchinni! I used my julienne peeler and made noodles!


Another meal made with love AND hubby approved.


Tangy Tomato Sauce

3 cloves garlic-peeled and minced

1 T. olive oil

4 c. diced tomatoes

1/2 c. chopped onions

1 green pepper-chopped

8 sundried tomatoes (packed in oil kind)

1 handful of chopped basil

1 T. oregano

1 -2 t. salt (to taste)


Heat a pan until it gets hot. Add olive oil and garlic. Turn down heat to medium/medium high and add onions and green pepper. Cook until onions turn translucent. Add tomatoes. Cook down the mixture until most of the liquid evaporates (about 15 minutes). Put sundried tomatoes in a blender. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the tomato/green pepper/onion mixture. Blend until smooth. Add this mixture back into the pan. Stir. Add basil and oregano. Salt to taste.



An Ode to Pumpkin

This past weekend my husband and I drove to Ohio to see our girls play volleyball!


One of the perks of a road trip is being able to stop at Starbucks. Coffee has become a treat rather than an everyday occasion since I jumped on the tea band wagon.  You cannot imagine my excitement when we walked in and I saw the big signs advertising that pumpkin is back!! It was legal!!! I could start making all my yummy pumpkin recipes! I have been waiting a long time for pumpkin. Last fall it was my goal to LOVE pumpkin, as I was never a big fan.  Apparently I had never had the right kind of pumpkin recipe!! By November I was obsessed! Pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin oatmeal. Who knew??

Anyway, I digress.

Once we got back in the car, all I could think about was pumpkin. I was even so inspired that I decided to write an ode to pumpkin (not only to kill some time but to share my obsession with others). Long car rides will do that to me. So…here it is…my ode to pumpkin following the ABABCDECDE format and with 10 syllables per line. Dang, I’m good. ;)

An Ode to Pumpkin

Oh pumpkin! For you I have yearned so long.

A year has transpired since last we met.

I was tempted but for you remained strong.

Indulging out of season I’d regret,

As autumn sets the stage for you to shine.

Your look, your smell, your taste, I’ll remain true;

Brilliant orange brightens shortening fall days.

Fragrance emanates when plucked from the vine.

Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove pair well with you.

Oh pumpkin! To you I give heartfelt praise!


Well, anyway, you get the idea! And now, for my #1 favorite pumpkin recipe of all time. Thank you Kathy Patalsky at Healthy.Happy.Life for this highly addictive pumpkin bread. I love that it is a heavy bread…very moist and very filling! Even so, I have a hard time eating just one piece, so I make them into mini-loaves. Self control is sometimes a problem for me.


Assemble ingredients.


Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.


Put all wet ingredients in a blender.


Blend until mixed.


Add wet to dry.


Pour into pan. I used my mini-loaf pan, but have also used a regular bread pan.


Bake! The middle sinks in a bit.


Kathy Patalsky’s Oatmeal Pumpkin Bread for Fall

2 c. oatmeal ground into flour (I do this by placing oats in a blender cup and blending)

3/4 t. salt

1 T. baking powder

3/4 t. cinnamon

1/4 t. ginger

1/8 t. nutmeg


1 c. almond milk

1 T. flax seed (ground)

1 t. vanilla

1 1/2 c. pumpkin puree

1/3 c. coconut oil

3/4 t. apple cider vinegar

1/2 c. maple syrup

1/4 t. orange zest


Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Put all other ingredients in a blender, making sure all ingredients are room temperature. Blend until mixed. Add wet mixture to dry. Stir until combined. Put in loaf pan (I used mini-loaf pan). Bake at 415 for 20 minutes. Then turn down temperature to 395 degrees and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes. If using mini-loaf pan, check after an additional 10 minutes. Mine were done after a total of 32 minutes.

How do you like to eat pumpkin?

Roasted Veggies with Asian Noodles

Looking for a super fast, super healthy, super delicious dinner idea? This is one we go to quite frequently in our house. It’s a great way of using up the veggies that are taking up space in the veggie drawer, and requires very little else. Including time and labor. Plus, the combination of sesame oil and tamari on noodles give it such a delicious oriental flair. I have used both udon noodles (buckwheat) and soba noodles (wheat and buckwheat). Both work wonderfully!


Veggies waiting patiently to go in the oven!


Using up CSA broccoli…


and CSA cauliflower…


and mushrooms…


and CSA onions!


Soba noodles, tamari and toasted sesame oil give an oriental dining experience.


Boiling the noodles!


Love letting the veggies get a little brown and crunchy!


Just another meal made with love!


Roasted Veggies with Asian Noodles

serves 4

veggies of your choice (broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, carrots, etc.)

2 T. olive oil

1/2 t. sea salt (or more if you need to)

8 oz. packaged of Asian noodles soba or udon)

2 T. tamari

1 T. sesame oil


Wash veggies and cut into bite size pieces. Place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Bake at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes (fork tender).

Follow directions on noodles. Drain and rinse with cold water. Put noodles back into the pot you boiled them in. Pour tamari and sesame oil on noodles. Mix to coat.

Put noodles in bowl. Cover with lots of veggies. Enjoy!