Foodie on the Half Shell: Top 3 Delivery Joints in Pittsburgh

I order out more than I’d like to admit. At this point, I even know the delivery guys’ names. The GrubHub app is my best friend at least once a week.

Unfortunately, Pittsburgh doesn’t have the greatest selection of delivery options. There are about 50 crappy pizza places, a couple vague Asian places, and maybe one Indian restaurant that delivers. Most of the food is pretty bad, or really average. It’s as if they make a restaurant specifically made for delivery and they know we have no options and they’ll make money no matter how bad they are.

Honestly, all of the pizza tastes the same, too. They all get their dough and sauce pre-made from the same food distributor. It drives me crazy that delivery places won’t take more pride in what they do.

Creative and quality food is still desired in a delivery setting. Don’t get me wrong, though, I still pay for the convenience of it all. Because I know we don’t all love to cook at home or go out and get something ourselves, I have made an official “Top 3 Delivery Joints in Pittsburgh” complete with different genres of food and my favorite dishes!

Thai Hana: This restaurant delivers Thai and Japanese food straight to your door. You can enjoy curry dishes, pad Thai, and lots and lots of sushi. They have never been late to deliver food, and they have never messed up one of my orders. One of my favorite dishes to have delivered would be their Spider Roll from their sushi menu. This sushi roll is made with tempura fried soft shell crab, asparagus, and avocado. I pretty much love any sushi that comes with tempura fried anything, though. Thai Hana’s sushi is delicious, and is as good as most places around Pittsburgh. If you are looking for the real deal with grade A fresh fish, this isn’t the place for you, but if you want some tasty sushi with spicy creamy sauce drizzled all over it, then this is your place! Their Basil Fried Rice is also on point, and I would even say possibly the best in the Burgh’s delivery world.

Beta Bites: Beta Bites is my favorite place for “healthy” delivery food. It has Moroccan influences throughout its menu, but also will deliver your usual wings and fries. If the restaurant is a Moroccan restaurant, though, order their Moroccan food. One of my favorite dishes from here is their falafel salad that is served with spinach, real creamy feta, and the usual other salad fixings. Their falafel isn’t the best (it’s a little dry), but it still tastes like falafel and that will do. It comes with five nice sized balls, and is definitely a great amount of food. The BEST dish on their menu is from the “hot bar” part of their menu. Any of the dishes from the hot bar are delicious, but I enjoy the chicken with a side of vegetables, lentils, and rice. This is a lot of food complete with three spiced chicken breasts and scoops of whatever side you pick. Other options for your sides include mac and cheese, and a white bean dish that is native to Morocco. Any of their food is delicious, though, but if it looks like it has Moroccan influences in the description, it is almost guaranteed to be good.

Genoas: Now, what makes Genoas so good is their consistency. They are open all day up until 2 a.m. on the weekdays and 3 a.m. on the weekends. This is perfect when you are hungry at home after a party or a long day. Their food is the usual Italian inspired delivery joint complete with pizzas, subs, and calzones. Their subs are huge, and you really can’t go wrong with a spicy Italian. Their jalapeno poppers are so tasty, and so are their Parmesan and garlic wings.

Foodie on the Half Shell: Eating for the season

Many connote the cooler seasons with a lack of fresh produce that is available to eat. Well, that may be true during the sub zero winters that we have been having, but so far we have had a beautiful November and there is still plenty of seasonal and local foods to cook and eat.

It’s important to eat seasonally, because if we buy food that is out of season that means that it is being shipped in from far away. The amount of miles that is between where the food is grown and to where it is eaten or sold is called food miles. A large amount of food miles causes a scary amount of gas emissions into the air, which is bad for the environment.  

Some of my favorite November foods are Brussels sprouts, winter squash, and beets. These may sound like intimidating foods to some, but I can assure you that if you try out the recipes that I created, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Brussels Sprout and Bacon Salad: Heat the oven at 350 degrees. Clean one pound of Brussels sprouts by peeling off the first layer of leaves and cutting the rough bottom off. Cut large Brussels in half and leave smaller ones whole. Toss in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Put in ovenproof pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until crispy and dark and green. Crisp up a few slices of bacon and crumble them up. When Brussels are done, toss in a bowl with the bacon crumbles along with a few dashes of balsamic vinegar. Keep this dish delicious by not overdoing it on the oil and vinegar and topping it all off with Parmesan cheese.

Maple Roasted Acorn Squash: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cut one large acorn squash in half and clean out the seeds. Then, cut the halves into about one-inch slices, so they should be little half circles. No need to cut off the skin, it is awesomely edible. Now, make a marinade with one tablespoon of olive oil, one tablespoon of soy sauce, one teaspoon of Dijon mustard, two tablespoons of maple syrup (the real stuff), and some salt and pepper. Rub those slices down with this stuff and bake in an ovenproof pan for about 25 minutes. They should be super tender to the touch.

Beet “Caprese”: You will need two large beets or three smaller ones. Heat up two cups of balsamic vinegar and a quarter cup of sugar in a pot and stir till the sugar is dissolved. Boil beets in water until they are tender and their rough skin slides off easily. When the sugar has dissolved into the vinegar and the beets are tender and have their skins removed, shut off heat to the vinegar mixture and place beets into the pot. Let sit for 30 minutes. If they are not entirely submerged, rotate halfway through. When finished, slice the beets into about quarter inch circles. Layer with fresh mozzarella and fresh basil, and drizzle balsamic reduction on top with a little salt and pepper.

Foodie on the Half Shell: Processed Meats

Up until I was 11, I was homeschooled on the llama farm where I grew up with my sister and my mom as my best friends. I began private Catholic school when I was going into sixth grade. I was already the weirdo who thought gay people deserved equal rights and that women should be able to be priests.

To make matter worse, the same year I also decided that eating meat was barbaric, and I became a vegetarian and sometimes pescatarian for the next 12 years. As I sat there in the cafeteria with all of those rude little sheep, I ate the same sandwich every day: avocado, cheese, hummus, spinach, and tomato. My peers could just not understand how I wasn’t eating their oh-so-delicious sandwiches such as bologna with mayo, or ham and cheese. My mom didn’t allow us to eat that stuff anyhow; it was pretty much turkey or veggie sandwiches. My sister ate lettuce and mustard sandwiches for, like, five years of her life.  

Well guys, don’t you feel stupid? I wasn’t eating your “meat” sandwiches because it causes cancer, and I wasn’t allowed. Probably because my mom loved me more than your mom loved you…

Ok, no, I’m sure your mom loved you just fine. This article really has nothing to do with criticizing your mom’s choices. We are adults now. It’s all about criticizing your choices.

When people began sharing the posts about “bacon causing cancer” and how processed meats were bad for us, I was shocked. Not because I didn’t know these facts, but because so many of my peers didn’t know. Where have you been? Did you seriously think that processed meats were good for you and a natural part of what a human should eat? Or how about thinking about this: smoked meats. We get lung cancer from smoking. Smoking meats is literally infusing them with stuff that causes cancer.

My mom has been calling processed meats carcinogens since I can remember. Uncured bacon and organic meats were the only things allowed in our home.

My job isn’t entirely to mock you, so I would also like to educate you by explaining in my words what the World Health Organization said exactly about certain kinds of meats, and what that means for you.

So what are processed meats? According to the WHO, they are meats that are cured, salted, smoked, or other processes that help with preservation and to make them taste better. Some examples are salami, ham, and smoked bacon. These are in Group 1 of carcinogens, which means that they most definitely are a cause of cancer.

Red meat (beef, pork, goat, etc.) is in Group 2 of carcinogens, meaning that it probably causes cancer. So, does this mean I’m never going to eat off of a salami and cheese board again? No way. How about that Italian hoagie that I love to splurge on sometimes? Still gonna. I don’t have knowledge about whether or not eating a little bit here and there is going to give you cancer, but I know that for the most part, everything in moderation is ok.

Many find this entire study laughable, such as Michael Symon, a celebrity chef that is a regular on the Food Network. He believes the entire issue is just a ploy to get a reaction out of people and to get visits on their website. I don’t agree with that statement at all, but I do agree with his concern about what these articles are doing to those meat farmers who are doing it “right.” It is unfair to categorize meat that is pumped with nitrates and hormones with all natural grass fed meats.

My advice to you all is to stay educated. Understand the holes in these WHO studies, but also understand that they are probably one of the most reliable sources, and that you probably don’t know more about this stuff than they do. Eat some delicious, all natural salami here and there with a nice glass of vintage (or Barefoot…whatever), but understand that the less meat you eat in general, the better. Chicken and fish are great sources of animal based proteins that are lean and good for you. Remember to buy cage free and wild caught, though! By eating a couple more meatless meals a week, you’ll be doing yourself, and your family, a service.

Foodie on the Half Shell: Candy

Candy. It was always the forbidden fruit in my house. I grew up with a complete granola mother who didn’t even allow the pure form of sugar into our house until I was 10. She even tricked us into thinking that frosted flakes (a normal child’s definition of breakfast) were a dessert. We called it “treaty cereal.”

Candy was pretty much out of the question unless it was Halloween and it was time for trick or treating. Mind you, my mom always threw out the candy that was left a couple days later.

Candy has a bad stigma, as it should. The sugar is terrible for your teeth and your overall health. It should be a treat, not a staple. I know during this season, though, we can’t seem to get away from the candy, so I compiled a list of candies that aren’t going to burn a hole in your health entirely.  

Dark chocolate: We all tell ourselves it’s okay to eat a lot of dark chocolate because it has a health benefit…that is true, in moderation. Hershey’s Dark Chocolate bars are nice and small, and they give you that little kick of chocolate that you desire and a dose of antioxidants!

PayDay: Thanks to the amount of peanuts in this little snack, you will benefit from protein and fiber by eating these guys. I would say that is reason enough to buy a bag of them! The caramel and peanut crunch will give you the sugar kick you need, but not leave you feeling guilty later on.

Kit Kat: These are probably my favorite candy by far, and fortunately are not the most sugar or calorie dense. The wafer inside helps to eliminate a ton of the fatty bad stuff. Give yourself a break and eat a Kit Kat bar this weekend!

Jolly Rancher: These treats take up lots of time in your mouth while you are sucking on them, which actually helps you not to overindulge in them or other candies. With 70 calories for three of these treats, you aren’t completely crushing your diet. Just make sure to brush your teeth afterwards!

More like my mom and want to stay clear of the bad stuff entirely? Well, here is the most hippy dippy list of candies you can find out there.

Fruit Snacks: You can find the type that are 100% real fruit juice with added bonuses of being GMO free and also vegan (because we all know children under the age of 12 are worried about vegan candy). Some of my personal favorites are Seitenbacher Fruit Snacks (they use thickened beet juice to make them chewy) or Trader Joe’s Fruit Leathers. Those are like crack for me.

Dark Chocolate Bug Bites: These all-natural squares of chocolate have all of the antioxidant goodness of dark chocolate with an added bonus of education and an added bonus of helping children become philanthropists. Each chocolate comes with an educational trading card with a different insect on it and 10% of the proceeds go towards animal wildlife funds.

To find more, you can go to to find all of your favorite vegan, GMO free, organic products. The website has hundreds of options for your next all-natural Halloween party.

Foodie on the Half Shell: Pittsburgh’s best Halloween parties

Last week I gave you guys some ideas on some tasty food to have at your Halloween party this year, but this week I want to talk about where to go for some good food this Halloween. If you are of age, going out on the town for Halloween is an awesome option. Some of my favorite dance clubs and bars are having amazing Halloween parties where you can go and dance, drink, and, most importantly, eat!

So, if good food is a requirement for your Halloween plans, check out these awesome events happening Halloween weekend.

The Pittsburgh Public Market Soiree: The Pittsburgh Public Market is a local and delicious “food court” consisting of dozens of unique food vendors from sweets, to sandwiches, to authentic Mexican food. On October 30, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., the market is opening their doors for a delicious costume party. Get ready to try samples of food and drinks throughout the store and jam to some music by DJ Donnelly and the band Chop Shop. This event is 21+.

Spirit’s 1st Annual Lost Lodge Dance Macabre: If you haven’t been to Spirit, you are missing out on an incredible time. This dance club/pizzeria is taking over the Lawrenceville night scene. On October 31 from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., Spirit is having a crazy dance party. There will be two floors of music and dancing, a monster maze, and an immersive light labyrinth that will make this party like no other in the Burgh. The yummy side to this entire party is the free pizza buffet that is included in your ticket, and it’s not just any kind of pizza. It’s the fancy kind with multiple cheeses and meats and veggies. Tickets for this party are $15, and it is a 21+ event.

Boos and Brews with the Jews: Join Shalom Pittsburgh at Atlas Bottle Works for a night of pizza, delicious beer, and, of course, Hocus Pocus with our favorite Jewish witch, Bette Midler. The beer and movies are pay as you go, but the pizza is free! Happy Hour begins at 5 p.m. and the movie starts at 7 p.m. Obviously, you have to be 21 to go to happy hour, but you can get into the movie no matter what your age is!

Dinner at the Shiloh Grill: Maybe you’re not into the Halloween dress up gig, and want more of the real deal. Like maybe an awesome restaurant that is really haunted? The story is that the woman, Mrs. Soffel, who use to live in the Shiloh Grill’s building in the early twentieth century, was married to the sheriff in town, but fell in love with a prisoner at the local jail. She ended up helping him escape from the jail, but he was killed in a shoot out and she was captured near Butler County. Now, you can sometimes see Mrs. Soffel in flowing white dress walking all around the restaurant. Also, a woman in a sexy black outfit, whose aura smells like oranges, resides in the basement. So, the restaurant is definitely haunted, but the menu is even better. Their burgers are out of sight and the cocktail list is super fun.

Foodie on the Half Shell: Pumpkin Spice

As I bite into my pumpkin spice muffin this morning, I ponder what the heck it is that makes this flavor so enticing. Seriously, who doesn’t love a good pumpkin spiced…anything? Pumpkin spice cookie, beer, body wash, and of course the famous Starbucks pumpkin spice latte!

Now, many connotations go with pumpkin spice, such as the distasteful idea of being “basic.” The college girl who likes Uggs, fleeces, and Starbucks, and, oh you know, soft and warm things. God forbid a culture amongst women goes without being criticized. Well, I really don’t want to get into that, but I would like to share that there are true reasons why we love pumpkin spice so much, and it has nothing to do with my North Face.

First of all, pumpkin spice is the unofficial start to the holiday season. When that spice begins to be sold in the stores, we know that Halloween is coming, which brings Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukkah seems to come right after. The holiday season is a time for family and relaxation, and college students don’t get a lot of either. Pumpkin spice is a symbol for “Don’t worry, you’re almost through this”, or “we love you, Olivia.”

Our sense of smell is so attached to our memories that it has the control to zip us right back to an era that we may have forgotten before that sweet sip of a pumpkin spice latte. The smells of cinnamon and pumpkin swirl together and create the image in our head of fresh pumpkin pies, picking your favorite pumpkin at the pumpkin patch, or that disastrous year where the bacon to your eggs-and-bacon costume dumped you last minute, so you had to go to the party as some sad yolk… Want to take a trip down memory lane? Cozy up with some pumpkin spiced stuff (you may want to bring a box of tissues with you).

Everyone can relate to the tastes and smells of pumpkin spice because it is an international combination of spices and flavors. So no, everyone, you can stop calling pumpkin spice a white person thing. Where does cinnamon come from? Sri Lanka, all the way over near India, actually. Cinnamon doesn’t just flavor your coffee drinks, it’s also a necessary ingredient in most curries. What about pumpkins, you may ask? Yes, they are indigenous to the Americas, but believe me…pilgrims were not the first to plant them. Whether it’s the ginger, the pumpkin, or the cinnamon—pumpkin spice brings to you the tastes of your roots, no matter how close or how far.

So, all of these in depth reasons as to why we like pumpkin spice may not seem very relevant. You might just say, “Shut up, I just like the taste.” Ah, my dear readers, there is always a hidden scientific reason behind everything these days, didn’t you know that? For example, my nephew eats carrots and vanilla ice cream with the same enthusiasm. One of these days, though, he will understand that ice cream is associated with a lot more fun things than carrots are. So cozy up with some pumpkin spiced things with your new found knowledge and taste the flavors of our forefathers and the memories mixed within.

Foodie on the Half Shell: Cooking with wine

As pretty much anyone who knows me or reads my column knows; I love food. I love to try new recipes with interesting ingredients and different methods of cooking them. I love how food tastes, and I also love how it looks. I love everything about food (other than the large amounts of calories in things that I love, like butter). I also love drinks, though. I find it really important when I am describing my passion for the edible world that I include the words “food and drink.”

I bartended for a short time in my hometown, and I loved it almost more than I love to cook. There is a different feeling you get when you put a perfect martini in front of someone rather than a perfect bowl of noodles or a perfect sandwich. There is something a little naughty and fun about the whole interaction. We know that if it’s good enough they may even have another, which has the potential to be even more wickedly fun (or not so fun for some).

I don’t enjoy alcohol just because it has the potential to intoxicate me, nor do I just enjoy food because it nourishes me. What I love is the complexity of flavors different types of drinks hold. The best part of wines, spirits, and beer is the fact that they don’t always need to be drank to be enjoyed—they can also be cooked with! If you are someone who does not drink, this article is still for you because if you cook with alcoholic beverages, the alcohol itself is cooked out of it. Here are some really fun ways to incorporate your favorite adult beverage into your food.

Beer mussels: The ocean taste of mussels pairs well with just about any kind of beer. Want to dump some Pabst Blue Ribbon in the pot? Go for it! Seriously! You can also go for your favorite IPA to give the broth an awesome punch. Sauté garlic and onion in a pot and then dump in some water, a can or two of beer (depending on the amount of mussels), and maybe some tomato sauce and chili flakes to make it really delicious. Dump a bag or two of mussels in the pot and cover it with a lid. Cook until all of the mussels are open.

Red wine poached pears: This is perfect for a fancy looking dessert that is super simple. Place skinned whole pears in a pot and cover with red wine and a little sugar. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. For a little extra flavor, add a couple cloves and an orange peel. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Vodka tomato cream sauce: This is my family’s favorite sauce for their spaghetti, and it is so simple. Sautee some olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes in a pan till fragrant. Add about a half a cup of vodka in the pan (change depending on how much pasta and how much of the vodka you want to taste). A half cup of vodka is enough for sauce to serve about six people. Add the red sauce immediately, and let simmer for five to 10 minutes. At the end, add enough cream to make the sauce a dark pink color. Put the sauce on top of your favorite type of pasta.

Foodie on the Half Shell: Easter brunch

I feel as though the topic of family holidays is something we find genuine and entertaining, because we can all relate on a certain level. Like don’t we all have an Uncle Jim? And an Aunt Kim? I vote those to be the most common uncle and aunt names, ever. And isn’t there always that weird tension between your parents and their siblings? Because whose fault is it that we haven’t gotten together in two years? “It’s Uncle Harry’s fault! He never takes the time to drive to our house. We always go to his house and everything we eat is out of a plastic tub!” says my mom, even though she will see him, give big hugs, and blame herself for the lack of contact.

I want to talk about my Easter 2015, because there is a lot of good food and a lot of good food metaphors about my family’s dynamic during the holidays. My mom’s side is made of Sicilians and Poles, which is an awesome mix of food cultures. But for our holidays, the Polish food is what we stick with. My Grandma was 100 percent Polish, and pierogies, kielbasa, and sauerkraut were all staples during either Christmas and/or Easter.

My mom’s side is full of pretty traditional people. Their interests range from canoeing, boy scouts, baking, military, and the impeachment of our dear president. My dad’s side on the other hand…let’s put it this way: they all had a little too much fun in the 60’s and now there’s only two survivors.

This Easter is busy because my nephew is getting baptized. Which is a huge deal because we are Polish and Italian, and God is still a very concrete idea of a man in the sky who blesses little babies so they aren’t stuck in purgatory if they die…actually my immediate family is Episcopalian and we see the ole purg for what it is…another Catholic excuse not to go to hell.

This Easter we are putting on a Baptismal brunch. I am excited about the menu because I put it together. We are having fresh and smoked kielbasa. The smoked kind you can get anywhere, while fresh, Easter kielbasa is harder to find. Stanley’s Market in Toledo is great for the real deal. You can go there yourself to get it fresh, or you can order it online and receive it frozen. For the pierogies, I have made two new recipes for fillings. One includes a smoked salmon recipe and the other is a smoked paprika, potato, and cheese pierogi. This may cause a bit of controversy in a house full of Polish people, though.

My Uncle “Sam” is comparable to a plain cheese and potato pierogi. He is traditional, and has no interest in health benefits. I can already imagine him making sideways comments about my smoked salmon, red onion, capers, dill, and cream cheese filled pierogies. He will laugh and say they can’t even be called pierogies, and he’ll look around eager for someone to agree. No Uncle Sam, this is the best pierogi recipe in the world and your idea of a pierogi needs salt and there is too much chewy dough. From there we have a toasted almond torte–which I guess is a pretty awesome Pittsburgh treat–and roasted rainbow carrots.

I love my family. My cousins are pretty much cooler versions of their parents. Some of them have cute babies now and are smart and attractive. The best thing in the world is drinking beer with your cousins and remembering the times when we were children and peed in weird places, collected salamanders, misplaced aggression, and had impromptu dance parties. All parts of my family are completely different and really we have very little in common, other than food and love. But when it comes right down to it, what else is there?

Foodie on the Half Shell: Five reasons why I won’t go gluten-free

If you read my column, you know that a lot of my focus is on health. I try out most new fad diets to see what I think about them, and some of them are great while others aren’t so much. I understand that we are all trying to figure out what the key to health and fitness is—I am too! I also know that the true answer is a well- rounded diet with exercise. But I would like to make one thing clear: gluten is a part of a well-rounded diet. I think flour products are some of the most divine edibles to be put on this earth. When I heard that a very large group of people were saying that gluten was evil…well I just about freaked out.

Gluten has been my friend for twenty-one years. It has never betrayed me, and I couldn’t believe that so many people had negative feelings toward it. I felt like I didn’t even know some of my best friends anymore. They were saying things like “Olivia, have you tried this quinoa pasta?” or “Yummm, cauliflower crusted pizza is better than that gluten infested stuff that the others eat.” I didn’t know what to do. I was hurt, confused, and angry. Most of all, I knew that I had to stick up for gluten. Here are five huge reasons why gluten is the best thing ever.

  1. Pizza. There is nothing that can replace a good pizza pie. Whether you’re in the mood for a crisp crust or a soft crust, gluten is there is for you. This whole idea of using other vessels like vegetables is just a joke. We all know it isn’t the same. Liking cauliflower crust doesn’t make people think you are hip. It makes us think that your judgment is poor.
  2. Spaghetti. Sofia Loren said it herself: “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.” Now that is a woman after my own heart. Spaghetti makes you strong, smart, and beautiful. I have no facts to back that up, but I really believe it, and so should you guys.
  3. It goes with butter really well. Almost anything that contains gluten tastes amazing with a nice big smear of butter. You can make it even better by making a shallot and herb butter. Or spread some delicious stinky cheese on a crisp slice of bread.
  4. It makes you happy. Have you ever noticed that people who eat gluten seem to be so happy? Like me! I am looking forward to this weekend because I am going to eat spaghetti and garlic bread. You know the people who “don’t eat gluten” want it, though, and have their guilty pleasures. Me? I don’t like to limit myself to pretty much anything. Yes, I’m a pescetarian for the most part, but bacon is love.
  5. Sandwiches. There is just nothing like spicy capicola with provolone, lettuce, tomato, hot peppers, and some oil and vinegar between a freshly baked baguette. I am drooling just thinking about it.

So if you actually have celiac disease, then this probably doesn’t apply to you and you probably shouldn’t indulge if it will hurt you. Those of you who are pretending just to be cool, please stop. I want to eat pizza with my friends and not have to remember that they are sensitive to the food of gods. Psh.

Foodie on the Half Shell: Blissful bruschetta

I truly think that food can fix anything. From shedding tears over love lost or a failing grade to helping you feel energetic and motivated. Our mind and body are intertwined in a way that is abstract to think about for someone who may not know a lot about integrative medicine. I took an Intro to Integrative Medicine last semester, and I really enjoyed it because it made me think a lot about what we, as individuals, need to eat to be the best we can be.

The main focuses in integrative medicine are prevention of disease, non- invasive remedies of disease, and the mind body connection. Although I am a huge supporter of modern day medicine (go get your kids vaccinated, darn it!), I also am a supporter of a holistic way of looking at how I take care of my body. Now, my column isn’t about medicine and science, because that is truly not my forte. What it is about, though, is nourishment.

If we nourish our bodies with what they need, our minds (or spirits, whatever you prefer) will respond positively. Sometimes, we need to feed our minds and spirits, though! For the most part of day, I am eating to survive. For breakfast and lunch I eat strictly vegan. I eat a lot of vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats like hummus and avocado. All of those foods are delicious, but there is truly nothing like creamy cheeses or heavy Italian meals. For dinner, I eat to enjoy, while still nourishing myself. It isn’t like I say, “Oh, to Hell with nutrition,” when it is dinner- time, but I do take the time to make something that I truly want to savor.

This bruschetta is a perfect appetizer or small dinner. It feeds your desire for breads and cheese but won’t make your diet crash and burn. By balancing it with a soft cheese, like chèvre, and roasted vegetables, you are getting what your body needs and wants. Tonight, I made this bruschetta to help my partner get ready for an exam tomorrow. When you are studying your butt off, you don’t want to have to think about making yourself food. Also, microwave dinner just won’t support your extreme mental endeavors. I have no idea when microwave meals are a good idea…anyone care to enlighten me?

Eating instructions include serving this on your coffee table while you sit on pillows and drink red wine sangria.

What you will need for two people:

About 6 slices of fresh crusty bread

1 small packet of goat cheese

2 red bell peppers

A package of asparagus

2 teaspoons of garlic salt

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Roast the bell peppers and asparagus with some olive oil at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are caramelized. When cool, chop up the vegetables into small pieces. Mix in the garlic salt and pepper into the vegetables.

Toast the bread with on a cookie sheet in the same oven for about 5-10 minutes with some olive oil drizzled on it.

Smother the goat cheese on the toast. Top with hefty spoonfuls of the vegetables and finish with a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar.