www.annasophiairl.com

hi everyone!

i have decided to post exclusively on www.annasophiairl.com from now on because i feel it’s more in line with my values and my character!

unfortunately my life doesn’t revolve around food so i decided to relocate to a setting in which i will post every aspect of a holistic lifestyle ūüôā

i’ve also made the switch over to wordpress.org so it’s a little bit more hands on from my end!

thanks for reading and iÔłŹ hope you will continue with me!!

-anna

My Easy Matcha Latte Hack

For the longest time I would scroll through my instagram feed looking longingly at all the matcha latte’s that healthy food bloggers out there were making, thinking to myself “I wish I had the time and energy to buy a matcha whisk and bowl and slave over it morning after morning”….. until finally I realized I didn’t need all that special equipment and I can do it on my own in under 5 minutes!

I’m always trying to cut corners in the kitchen if you haven’t noticed…

Anyway, here’s my cheaters hack to easy matcha lattes: a blender.

Simply blend your matcha powder with your *still cold* milk (I like cashew or coconut milk) along with anything else you would like to add (my staples are ashwagandha powder and collagen peptides). When the mixture is well combined, just add hot water and voila!!!

**NEVER put the hot water in the blender with your milk and powders

Now even busy ladies (and gents) can take part in the morning matcha craze as we rush out the door!!

 

Processed with VSCO with s3 preset

you will still achieve that beautiful foam when you use your blender, trust me!

Processed with VSCO with v5 preset

Soy Buckwheat Zoodle Kale Killer Buddha Bowl

Okay I think I actually might have outdone myself this time. Tonight’s dinner was the most perfect combination of a zillion different flavors AND nutrients and I can’t wait to share it with y’all!

img_9101

I will share many more details below, but here are all the components of the bowl (clockwise from the top, then the center):

  • Kale with olive oil, lemon, and TJ’s Seasoning Salt
  • Zucchini noodles with olive oil, salt, and black sesame seeds
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Cabbage and beet Sauerkraut
  • Buckwheat with soy sauce and cherry tomatoes
  • Kale/cashew Pesto
  • Baked silken tofu

Although there are a ton of components to this bowl, they’re all surprisingly easy to make!

The kale salad, steamed broccoli, and sauerkraut (since it’s store bought) are pretty straight forward, but I will explain the other components here!

For the Zoodles: I simply cook the zucchini noodles in a sauce pan with just a small bit of olive oil, salt, garlic and black sesame seeds.

For the Buckwheat:¬†In a sauce pan, heat around a cup of water until it’s about to boil. Reduce heat and add about a half cup of riced, raw buckwheat groats and add 1 tbsp of soy sauce and one or two finely minced garlic clove. ¬†Cook for a little over 10 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed, adding tomatoes for the last few minutes.

For the Kale-Cashew Pesto, I created an original recipe! Here it is below:

Kale-Cashew Pesto

This pesto is so easy to make and it tastes freakin awesome with basically anything. All you need are the ingredients and a blender!

In the blender, combine:

  • 1/2 C raw cashews
  • 2 handfulls tuscan kale
  • 3 pinches dried basil (or 1 handful of fresh basil)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 tbsp unsweetened cashew yogurt
  • juice of half of one lemon
  • salt, to taste

simply blend all of this together, adding a table spoon of water a few times during the process in order to achieve your preferred consistency

For the Silken Tofu:

I usually like to use firm tofu, but all I had in the house was silken tofu today so I tried something new and it turned out amazing!

Heat your oven to 450 degrees and cut up the tofu into somewhat small pieces (no need to be a perfectionist) and dry them a fair amount. Spread the tofu pieces a baking sheet greased with olive or coconut oil and generously sprinkle Italian seasonings and salt (I use himalayan pink salt). Bake for about 15 minutes or until the tofu pieces are slightly browned on the edges.

I probably wouldn’t eat this tofu alone, but it was a great, mild compliment to the kale tofu as well as the other bold flavors in this buddha bowl!

6174583136_img_5945

I loved this bowl a) because it tastes amazing (obviously) but b) because it’s good for my body! It’s got all all my macros and tons of greens, as well as probiotics, fiber, and vitamins. Enjoy!! ūüôā

A Lazy Vegans Guide to Trader Joes

If you know me, you know that I am not whole without a fridge stocked with all my Trader Joe’s essentials. As a girl who often needs to cook a quick, easy, nutritious meal in a pinch, I would not survive without my beloved T.J.’s.

It’s hard to come by a grocery store that can offer healthy, tasty, and (emphasis on this one) economical vegan options… but if anyone has accomplished this feat, it absolutely is Trader Joe’s! Here is a list of some of my very favorite T.J.’s foods that I always have on hand:

 

1. T.J.s Frozen Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli Florets, Pearl Onions, and Mushroom Medley

Say what you want about frozen vegetables, but in a pinch a skillet of frozen veggies beats fast food any day of the week. I recently discovered the Mushroom Medley (seasoned with olive oil, garlic, and parsley) which gives my boring vegetable bowls an awesome pop of flavor and also adds some extra fiber and healthy carbs into the mix.

2. Olive Oil and Coconut Oil Aerosol Sprays

I’m not proud of my unhealthy dependence on these two oil sprays, but I do use them both on a daily basis. I use them to oil a baking sheet, to season air popped popcorn, to add flavor to my roasted veggies, you name it.

3. Hummus: Sriracha Hummus & Hummus Quartet (which includes Roasted Garlic Hummus, Tomato Basil Hummus, Spicy Hummus, and Original Hummus)

Hummus is always a staple in my life. T.J.’s Sriracha Hummus is constantly a must-have in my fridge, but the Hummus Quartet provides the perfect variety platter that provides awesome flavors for everybody tastes which makes it perfect to serve up to guests!

img_8765

Pictured: Hummus Quartet & Reduced Giult Pita Chips with Sea Salt

4. T.J.’s Steamed & Peeled Baby Beats (Ready to Eat Hot or Cold) and Mixed Medley Cherry Tomatoes

Yes – on a regular basis I am way too lazy to steam and peel my own beets. These perfectly portioned and ready to eat beets along with my favorite cherry tomato medley are perfect for whipping up a quick batch of flavored hummus or adding to any sandwich or salad.

5. T.J.’s Whole Wheat Pita Bread (Comes with 6 Pita Pockets)

What I love love love about these pitas is there ingredients – or lack there of. With just 5 ingredients in these, I feel great eating them! They’re ideal for dipping in hummus or using for a sandwich or pita wrap. I also LOVE T.J.’s Reduced Guilt Pita Chips with Sea Salt which come in at a record low of only 2.5 grams of fat per serving!

img_8798

6. Fresh Zucchini Four Pack

Lets face it – I’m addicted to zoodles. I buy all my zucchini’s at T.J.’s because the four pack is only like $2!

7. Seasonings: Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend, and T.J.’s All-Purpose Savory Seasoning Salt

I put these two on EVERYTHING!! I have a nostalgic attachment to the Savory Seasoning Salt because it reminds me of the flavors of Chicken Top Ramen Seasoning.

img_8881

8. Bagged Greens: Power to the Greens (Organic Baby Kale, Organic Baby Chard, and Organic Baby Spinach)

I always need lots of baby greens at my disposal because basically every bowl I make has a bed of greens, every sandwich is stuffed with them, every smoothie packed with them… you get the point. I go through greens like it’s my job and this is my favorite mix because it’s fresh, easy to store, affordable, and TASTY. If you prefer different greens, there are tons of other options so you can have your pick!

9. Sauce Sauce Sauce!

T.J.’s has a beautiful selection of any sort of sauce your heart could ever desire for an affordable price. Right now my favorites are T.J.’s Yellow Curry Sauce, Sweet Chili Sauce, and Trader Giotto’s Organic Marinara Sauce with No Salt Added (it only has 35 mg of sodium!! Compared to other marinara sauces which usually have between 200-500 mg)

10. T.J.’s Organic Raw Almonds

Nuts are my favorite on-the-go snack and of course Trader Joe’s has them perfectly pre-packaged into snack sized bags for my on-the-go convenience. The nut section at T.J.’s is incredible so whatever your favorites may be, you’re sure to find them there!

11. Trader Giotto’s Misto Alla Griglia (Marinated Grilled Eggplant, Zucchini, & Red Peppers – Frozen)

This is probably my favorite thing in the freezer section. This veg mix is so tasty and nutritious, it’s perfect for a quick meal if you have no time – I like to put it over a bed of greens with some hummus and chili flakes for a quick but hearty salad!

12. Dark Chocolate Bars

I love the dark chocolate selection at Trader Joe’s because of how easy it is to find vegan options (and because of the LOW PRICES)! I almost always have one or two of The Dark Choclate Lover’s Chocolate Bar on hand.

 

img_8880

Here is an example of one meal I make using only the ingredients from this list – a beet, cherry tomato, mixed greens & hummus sandwich on a pita!

All in all, Trader Joe’s is a vegans definition of heaven. The items on this list are merely the staple items that I couldn’t get through the week without – but T.J.’s has an infinite number of vegan goodies.

The freezer section is packed with amazing vegan options, from dairy free ice cream and baking mixes, to ready to heat & eat falafel, zucchini fries, vegan pizzas and crusts, veggie patties, chicken-less morsels… you name it and they make it. Don’t even get me started on the ready-made food and the snack section! While these are all absolutely wonderful, make sure you look out for high fat, sugar, sodium, and calorie counts – remember that just because something is vegan or organic or all natural, that does not necessarily make it HEALTHY! 

 

 

 

 

Guilt-Free Pi√Īa Colada Smoothie Bowl

img_8590

I think we can all agree that on a hot summer day there is nothing that hits the spot quite like a fresh, icy Pi√Īa Colada. The combination of coconut and pineapple are just about the only surefire way to evoke those tropical beach-side vacation feels that we’re all craving during these hot summer months.

Unfortunately, “pi√Īa colada” and “high-calorie indulgence” were basically synonymous in my book until recently, when I decided to take matters into my own hands.

The result was the most refreshing, tasty and (here’s the kicker) NUTRITIOUS smoothie bowl I have had in quite some time. Not only does this bowl satisfy those summer coconut-pineapple cravings, it also packs in fruit, veggies, healthy fats, and plant protein!

In the blender:

  • 1/2 Cup Frozen Cauliflower
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Pineapple
  • 1/2 Cup Ice
  • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk
  • 2 Tbsp of Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 1 Tbsp Agave
  • 1 Tbsp Flax Meal
  • 1 Tbsp Hemp Seed Hearts

It took these ingredients slightly longer to combine smoothly than some of my other bowls, so I recommend letting it blend on medium or high for 3 minutes or until the consistency is somewhat thicker than that of a smoothie.

On Top:

  • 3 Fresh Strawberries
  • Granola
  • Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • Cinnamon

This was absolutely the perfect breakfast for a hot summer morning, and I will most definitely be recreating it in the very near future. I would love to know if you have any modifications or substitutions that might improve it!

 

img_8687

 

img_8579

 

If you’re interested in learning more tips and tricks for low calories smoothie bowls or trying any of my other recipes, check out some of these posts: Low Sugar Smoothie Bowl Hack, Sweet-Green Smoothie Bowl, Strawberry-Dragon Bowl

 

A Kombuchanary Fail

img_8690

Let’s be real, kombucha is seriously awesome. Incase you’re unfamiliar with Kombucha it’s a fermented beverage of black tea, a special colony of bacteria and yeast, and some sort of sugar (could be from fruit, honey, cane sugar, or other various sources) that becomes carbonated and contains probiotics, enzymes, b-vitamins, vinegar, and tons of other good stuff. It’s great for your gut flora and it tastes amazing, it gives you energy and an immune boost, it detoxifies and aids digestion, it’s basically a super-beverage.

Every time I have had kombucha, I have absolutely loved it and experienced many benefits from it… except for one thing: it made my skin break out the next day, every single time I drink it without fail. I knew that this side effect was simply the detoxification process beginning and my body getting used to these new bacteria colonies in my gut, but even still my vanity stopped me from consuming any kombucha – I avoided it like the plague for almost three years!

Recently I decided to do a little experiment on myself and see how long this negative side effect would stick around if I drank a little bit of Kombucha every day. I am happy to report that the subtle blemishes subsided in only a couple of days and I am now able to drink Kombucha in peace!

The moral of the story? Trust the process of detoxification! It has to happen somehow, and the sooner you let it happen the sooner you’ll reap the benefits. Happy Kombuching, y’all!

 

 

 

 

Yogi Diaries: Inversions for Beginners & My Favorite Resource

As I’ve mentioned before, balance is not something that comes naturally to me. That being said, the extra effort it takes for me¬†to master balances and inversions in no way deters me from working hard and achieving those goals! In my opinion, the hard work and perseverance it takes to get into these poses makes them all the more rewarding.

For me, achieving and maintaining inversions requires a lot of extra practice outside of the studio. If I’m super short on¬†time and just want to maintain my progress, I’ll usually just do a warm up before going into the inversions I have mastered and holding them for 10 yogi breaths each.

If I do have time, however, I love to use resources like Yoga Journal to expand my practice through their expansive archive of free yoga videos. When I was first mastering inversions, I got into the habit of watching the same video almost daily to practice safely and correctly going into my inversions, and it worked wonders for my practice!

This video starts by warming you up for your¬†inversions by taking you through some balancing poses and practice kicks, which I find to be extremely helpful (especially if I haven’t practiced yet that day). If you are already warmed up, however, you can skip to 9 minutes and 55 seconds which is where the yogi brings you to the wall to get right into the inversions. She focuses on traditional head stand, tripod headstand, and handstand.

The best part is that this awesome video caters specifically to beginners, so no matter how little experience you have with inversions you will reap the benefits after watching it even once! Click here to watch the video and start mastering inversions now (side note: don’t worry if you don’t have a yoga strap or a block).

 

If #RAW is Wrong, I Don’t Want to be Right

Today I finally got the chance to go to #Raw, a vegan cafe in Florence, and once again I was blown away by the vegan presence here in Italia. Let me just start out by saying that they served me coconut water straight out of the coconut… I mean, does it get any better than that? Not to mention that it was hands down the best coconut water I have ever tasted.

The inside of #Raw is a minimalistic, trendy atmosphere laden with bamboo furniture and plates as well as hanging plants and cotton pillows. It’s light, fresh, and welcoming and I will be spending a great deal of time there.

Today, I ordered a vegan falafel veggie wrap with avocado and a light peanut sauce. It was completely raw and completely delicious! I usually am not a huge fan of raw bread substitutes, but this wrap was one of the only exceptions I have found thus far. I absolutely loved it!

The menu at #Raw is the stuff of my dreams, there are beautiful salads, smoothie and chia bowls, a vegan burger, a full smoothie and fresh juice menu, vegan deserts and baked goods, and much more… It’s safe to say #Raw is a vegans paradise in basically every way possible, and I can’t wait to try everything on the menu!

img_4658

img_4635

img_4636

 

 

 

Yogi Diaries: A Crash Course on Chakras

img_4655

Now that the yogi lifestyle and zen vibes are having a moment in pop culture, the 7 chakras are everywhere – and for a good reason! Balancing and awakening your chakras can have so many benefits that most of us are largely unaware of. Because the concept of energy centers in the body can be somewhat foreign to most of us Americans, the chakra system has the potential to be hard to “buy into” or understand. Well never fear, my soon-to-be energetically balanced friends, I’m here to boil it all down to the simplest of terms and help you understand the basics of the 7 chakras.

The chakra system dates back to over 3,000  years ago in India where they were first recorded in The Vedas, or the oldest collection of writings in India. Since then many variations of the chakra system have become extremely important in many Eastern spiritual traditions, including Hinduism and Yoga.

The basic and most widely accepted chakra system is made up of seven unique energy centers – or chakras – spread between the base of the spine and the space directly above the crown of the head. This system is based on the Hindu chakra system, where each chakra is regarded as a perpetually evolving energy hub and is associated with certain emotions, issues, and other aspects of human life.

Having “balanced chakras” basically means that each chakra is adequately functioning and governing its characteristic emotions, issues, etc, and that no one chakra is over or under active. It could almost be compared to a seven sided seesaw. An over active or under active chakra can be associated with emotional, mental, spiritual, even physical issues, which is why it’s important to be in touch with your own chakras on a regular basis. ¬†If one chakra isn’t functioning properly, there are countless different ways to get in touch with it and to foster a more balanced relationship between that chakra, the other chakras, and you (including meditation, chanting, vibrational healing, yoga, the list goes on..).

Like I said,¬†each of the seven chakras is tied¬†to certain aspects of human life, including emotions and issues. Beyond this, however, each chakra is also associated with its own color and personal strengths or weaknesses (among many other things that I won’t delve into here) and is located in a specific area along the spinal cord. Without further ado, may I introduce to you the seven chakras, starting from the first, bottom-most chakra and moving upward:

  1. The Root Chakra:
    • Location: Base of spine at tailbone/coccyx
    • Color: Red
    • Sanskrit Name: Muladhara
    • The Root Chakra is associated with ones basic needs (home, health, safety and security) being met. It regulates our sense of groundedness and stability, especially in our home lives. This can be literal, such as our basic human needs for food and shelter, or it can be more metaphorical and tied to things like financial security and familial relationships.
  2. The Sacral Chakra: 
    • Location: Lower abdomen, about 2 inches below the navel
    • Color: Orange
    • Sanskrit Name:¬†Swadhisthana
    • The Sacral Chakra is associated with feelings and sensations, sexuality, creativity, and emotions. It encourages us to feel the world around us and take pleasure in it and it governs our sense of well-being, sensuality, and happiness.
  3. The Solar Plexus Chakra:
    • Location: Stomach or upper abdomen
    • Color: Yellow or golden-yellow
    • Sanskrit Name:¬†Manipura
    • The Solar Plexus Chakra is related to ones sense of self-worth and self-esteem, as well as ones personal identity and independence. It governs ones ability to find direction in life and make choices, it is strongly tied to ones inner power and self-image.
  4. The Heart Chakra:
    • Location: Mid chest, above the heart
    • Color: Green
    • Sanskrit Name:¬†Anahata
    • The Heart Chakra governs ones relationships and feelings (especially those of love, empathy, and forgiveness) as well as ones connectedness to his or her world. It is tied to ones sense of inner peace, as well as ones ability to give and receive emotionally.
  5. The Throat Chakra:
    • Location: Throat
    • Color: Blue
    • Sanskrit Name:¬†Vishuddha
    • The Throat Chakra is related to ones ability to communicate and truly express themselves. It’s said to help one find his or her vocation or purpose in life as well as ones personal truths.
  6. The Third Eye Chakra:
    • Location: Space between the eyebrows
    • Color: Purple, or bluish purple
    • Sanskrit Name:¬†Ajna
    • The Third Eye Chakra is known as ones center of intuition, insight, and wisdom. It regulates ones connection to the less physical aspects of life, as well as ones creativity and ability to make decisions. The third eye is associated with one’s ability to access intangible realms¬†and spirituality.
  7. The Crown Chakra:
    • Location: Top of head or slightly above
    • Color: White, although also associated with a deep purple
    • Sanskrit Name:¬†Sahasrara
    • The Crown Chakra is said to regulate ones connection to the universe or higher power, open-mindedness, spirituality and wisdom, and sense of inner and outer beauty. It is associated with the ultimate form of bliss or enlightenment, as well as connection with the divine form of ones selfChakrasWomanDescription

There is so much to say about each chakra that I would never be able to cover it all in a simple explanation, but I hope these brief excerpts about each one can serve as a basic introduction. I encourage you to continue to research the chakras on your own if they are of interest to you, you can even start by taking this short chakra test to see how balanced your own chakras are.

My relationship with chakras has been one of healing, realization, and gratitude. It’s my hope that more people will be touched by healing through chakras in the same way that I have, and perhaps this post can serve as a starting point for someones journey. If you have any questions or comments about chakras, this post, or my relationship with chakras, please feel free to comment or reach out to me! Otherwise, happy meditating & stay balanced ūüôā

img_4655

Street Art Got me Thinkin

As you’ll find out in posts to come, I’m super into street art. I wish I was artistic and gutsy enough to make my own street art, but alas I’m just an admirer. I’ve been seeing this stencil around the streets of Florence and sometimes it gets me to reflect. I thought these were some funny interpretations of how the media thinks for me…

img_4333

“Today I’m going to be original and take a picture of the sunset… I don’t think that’s ever been done before”

img_4332

Takes basic [vegan] gelato pic… “Am I trendy?”

Chickpea-Spinach Burger of my Dreams

It’s official, Florence will never cease to amaze me with its vegan friendliness. Today I had the most interesting, intelligent, and downright awesome meal at a darling restaurant called simBIOsi, and I will 100% be back for more. SimBIOsi offers the most beautifully unique collection of dishes and wines all made from local and organic ingredients, served to you in an equally beautiful and unique atmosphere.

Today, I tried the chickpea and spinach “burger” that comes with vegan pesto and a side of potatoes. The “burger” patty was unlike anything I have ever seen or tasted before, it almost felt like a hybrid of a giant falafel and a crispy veggie burger – whatever it was, it was magnificent. The rosemary potatoes and vegan pesto that came with it were equally as delectable and the three elements complemented each other to no end. Needless to say, I was in heaven and I will be returning as soon as possible.

Just when I thought a¬†menu including a vegan chickpea and spinach burger with rosemary potatoes and vegan pesto couldn’t get any better, I flipped to the wine list. The wine is also all organic and local, we decided to try their “Orange Wine” because we had never heard of Orange Wine before. Our glass of wine followed suit with the rest of our experience in its delightful and unexpected flavor, and it was the perfect refreshment to go along with our decadent meal.

All in all, it’s no question that this was undoubtably one of my favorite meals in Italy thus far – definitely the most unique. I absolutely cannot wait to return to SimBIOsi, there were countless other dishes that I am dying to try (like a handful of “potato” ravioli, vegan pesto, and zucchini dishes). I think this is the beginning of an extremely¬†symBIOtic relationship ūüôā

img_4295

img_4279

img_4284

img_4296

An Acai Bowl Abroad

If there’s one thing you can probably deduce from the food section of my blog (aside from my flaming veganism) it’s that I am nothing short of obsessed with smoothie bowls. From my point of view, they’re just the most perfect food: delicious, nutritious, versatile, customizable, and the list goes on..

Anyway, you can probably imagine the separation anxiety I have been feeling from my soul-mate-meal since I have come to Italy, leaving behind my blender and my go-to Bay Area smoothie bowl spots. There’s nothing like a big, satisfying bowl of health and deliciousness to start the day off right, and I was about to go crazy if I went another day without one.

Luckily, this morning¬†I was able to find a great smoothie bowl right in the heart of Florence at Shake Cafe! I tried the classic Acai Bowl with almond milk (substituted for cow’s milk) and every topping offered. They also offer a green bowl, a tropical bowl, a chia bowl, and a power bowl (you know I’ll be trying them all, so stay tuned for the verdict)!

The Acai Bowl was absolutely wonderful, it had the perfect amount of flavor, everything about it was fresh, and the topping-to-base ratio was just right. Not to mention how cute and photogenic it was for the 5 seconds before I devoured it. Anyway, Shake Cafe, you’ve done it again and I will most definitely be back for much, much more!

img_4164

img_4137

P.S. Do you know of any great smoothie bowls for me to try in Florence or the San Francisco Bay Area? Comment below or shoot me a message and I would love to check them out!

P.P.S. Want more of my smoothie bowl obsession? Check out my posts: Low Sugar, Low Calorie Smoothie Bowl Hack, Quick n’ Easy Sweet Green Smoothie Bowl, Strawberry Dragonfruit Smoothie Bowl

Le Vespe Cafe: Breakfast Ideals with SF Feels

While I can never say enough wonderful stuff about Italy, what I do miss dearly about the USA are giant cups of coffee and filling breakfasts complete with included sides of potatoes. Probably for their own good, Italians don’t value breakfast and overindulge in it the way us Americans do, which means it can be hard to find the same breakfast options that we have grown accustomed to. Add a vegan diet to this predicament, and the challenge is even more daunting!

This morning I set out on a mission to fill the vegan breakfast void that growing dependent on True Food Kitchen brunch at home has left me with. Fortunately, this problem was easily and quickly solved when I stumbled upon Le Vespe Cafe – an extremely vegan friendly cafe that also offers a hip and funky atmosphere, vegan baked goods to-go, free wifi, and cool vintage board games like Monopoly, Battleship, and Pictionary if you’re into that. Not only does Le Cafe Vespe have amazing vegan food options, it also has a fantastic smoothie and juice menu with options like Matcha Boost and Tropical Trip, as well as an expansive breakfast cocktail menu with Bloody Mary’s and fun takes on Irish Coffee.

This morning, I needed to find a spot to settle in and work on my coding class and enjoy a fortifying breakfast – which is exactly what I got! I ordered an American coffee and I swear my heart almost exploded out of my chest when I saw the giant mug of delicious coffee they brought me… and it only went up hill from here.  I ordered “The Dundas” which is a tofu scramble wrap with chipotle seasoned potatoes, avocado, spinach, mushrooms, and more and also comes with a small salad and a side of breakfast potatoes. It was one of the best breakfast’s I have had, and it definitely filled the aforementioned void that True Food Kitchen’s vegan chorizo burrito left me with.

Basically, this place is absolutely perfect and I will most definitely be back to try their Sunday brunch cocktails, smoothies, vegan baked goods, and multitude of other delicious looking vegan lunch and breakfast options. In a place like this, it’s all I can do not to say “I’ll have one of everything”!

6 go-to Vegan Meals to Have Under your Belt in Italy

If you’re a vegan and anything like me, you always have your go-to restaurant dishes in the back of your head to order in a pinch at any establishment. Coming to Italy as a vegan means adapting your go-to meals to fit the average Italian menu. In the USA, there are tons of vegan options constantly surrounding us that we take for granted like Mexican, Asian, and American style options. In Italy, however, the variety is less obvious. On top of that, Italian Cafe’s, Bars, and Osteria’s have such amazing ambiance that it would be a shame to miss out on them for the sake of keeping to a vegan diet. Luckily, if you keep an eye out for these six basic Italian dishes you’ll be able to enjoy a beautiful, stress free, vegan Italian meal at any restaurant¬†in Italy! Here are my six fool-proof vegan Italian meals:

  1. Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce: This comes in many slight variations, but is always a great choice that will fill you up and taste amazing. Some common variations are different types of pasta noodles, or spaghetti with cherry tomatoes and basil. Gnocchi is also a great option since it is made with potatoes! 
  2. Minestrone or vegetable Soup: I have yet to have a bad bowl of soup in Italy. Each one differs slightly but is equally as delightful. If soup alone isn’t filling enough I often opt for a side of potatoes, french fries, a green salad or a piece of bread or two! Or you can always go fill up on some sorbet afterward… ¬†ūüėČ
  3. Bruchetta with Tomato and Basil: As is true of the dishes above, bruschetta will differ slightly from place to place (sometimes it can even come as a panini) but there is almost always a cheese-free option. 
  4. Grilled vegetables: The grilled vegetables in Italy are seriously underrated. They often come beautifully seasoned, slightly blackened, and gorgeously plated. You will see mostly tomato, eggplant, and bell peppers with basil and various other vegitables like carrots, squash, zucchini, potato, artichoke or whatever is in season. Although this dish is more filling than it would seem, if you need something more it goes perfectly with some soup, potatoes, pasta or even bread! I find that I often enjoy the free bread so much that I don’t need more than a heaping plate of veggies anyway.¬†
  5. Mushroom Risotto: Contrary to what many may think, risotto actually isn’t inherently creamy. The way the rice is cooked just creates a creamy texture, which can be deceptive to those trying to avoid dairy. Having said that, I still like to double-check that there is no cheese or cream in my risotto. Mushroom risotto is on almost every dinner menu, and is one of the most rich, filling, and even decadent vegan Italian dishes you will find.¬†
  6. vegetable Pizza With No Cheese: Veganism by no means stops me from enjoying pizza just as much as the next guy. All you have to do is find the vegetarian pizza that looks the best to you and ask them to leave off the cheese!

While this is my little list of vegan meals to look for, there are tons of other options and cuisines available in Italy! As usual, many things can be easily veganized or a few sides can come together to make an awesome meal. On top of that, as I continue to eat my way through the city, I am constantly finding that Florence is riddled with amazing options just for vegans! In any case, never fear my fellow vegans – there is absolutely no shortage of delicious meals in Italy!

Amalfi Coast, Italy 

This weekend my roommates and I spent the weekend romping around the gorgeous Amalfi Coast of Italy. It was hands down one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, I only wish we could have stayed longer! We spent our nights enjoying the sunsets and delightful restaurants in the town of Sorrento (we stayed at the Sisters Hostel, which I highly recommend) and spent one of our days on the island of Capri, and the other on the beach in Positano.

Our day in Capri was absolutely unforgettable. We took a boat tour around the Island, visiting a handful of beautiful caves. One of which was the famous “Blue Grotto” which is lit up on the inside with by natural fluorescent aqua lighting and can only be accessed via tiny row boats that you have to lay flat in to get inside the cave and are operated by Italian men who sing operatic Italian songs in the echoing cave. Another must-see highlight of Capri was the view from the chairlift up to the top of Mt. Solaro where there are more breathtaking views and a picturesque cafe where you can get a spritz or glass of prosecco and overlook the island.

Positano was yet another wonderful coastal location that I will never forget. In Positano we spent our time lounging on the beach, enjoying beachside cocktails with the Amalfi coast’s signature limoncello and Italian craft lemon beer, and popping in and out of quaint boutiques and delightful art exhibits. The view of the houses on the hillside of Positano was everything it’s built up to be and more, although the bus ride down it to the beach was a ride I feel blessed to have survived. This coastal town is a gem of the Amalfi coast, and if I ever have the opportunity to return I will make a point to stay there for a more extended period of time.

Below are some of my favorite photographs from this trip, although I took so many pictures it was impossible to choose! The Amalfi coast is such a magical place that it’s perfection could never be done justice by a camera, but I hope I was able to capture a little sliver of this big slice of heaven!

Sorrento:


Capri:


Positano:

Capri Succulant 

I’m currently on a bus on the beautiful Amalfi Coast in Italy driving from Sorrento to Positano having some fun playing around with the photos I took yesterday in Capri! I absolutely cannot wait to share more of my photos from this trip in a post on Sunday (update: I posted them, see¬†Amalfi Coast, Italy¬†). For now, I have this fun adaptation of a pretty potted succulent I saw in Capri yesterday to share with y’all. Enjoy the weekend!