Chestnut, Chickpea, and Veggie Coconut Soup

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This vegan/vegetarian friendly soup is simple and requires only two main ingredients—coconut milk and curry powder. The chestnuts and chickpeas are optional. I added them to give the soup some protein and texture. Alternatively you can add tofu. I used cauliflower, broccoli, and mushrooms but feel free to replace these with your favorite veggies. Eggplant and sweet potato are a nice touch. Top with cilantro or basil.

Ingredients:

1 c chickpeas (cooked)

½ c chestnuts

½ head cauliflower

½ head broccoli

2 c coconut milk

1 onion

1 t ginger

2 cloves garlic

1-2 T curry powder (depending on your spice preference)

½ t nutmeg

½ t cinnamon

1 T olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Top with chili flakes, cilantro, or basil

Directions:

  1. Roast the cauliflower, broccoli, chickpeas and chestnuts with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a pinch of curry powder. Cook at 375 degrees for ~20 minutes. Remove from the oven when they begin to brown.
  2. Sauté the onion, ginger, garlic, curry powder, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a large pot over medium heat. Stir frequently so the onions do not burn. Once the onions are golden add the roasted vegetables and nuts.
  3. Once the vegetables are coated with the spices add the coconut milk. If the soup is too thick, add a ½ cup water or vegetable broth.
  4. Simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  5. Serve with chili flakes, cilantro, and/or basil.

2016 Adventures: San Juan, Medellín, Cusco, Lima, Dublin, Strasbourg

The best way to experience another culture is through food and since this is a food blog after all, my descriptions will be largely characterized by the country’s cuisine. No trip is complete without trying the local dishes and specialties.

Puerto Rico (May)

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Mofongo at La Estacion

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Castrillo San Felipe del Morro

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El Yunque Rainforest

San Juan/ Fajardo

I went to Puerto Rico over Memorial Day weekend with my best friend from university. It was our last hoorah before she started law school (Harvard!) While we had blast and the island is very beautiful, I would prioritize visiting other Caribbean islands before Puerto Rico. It was not cheap as meals were ~ $10-15 and each day excursion was over $100. Although it was convenient to use our American dollars and cell phones, since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, it made the experience feel less exotic and adventurous. Also the suffering economy was evident—the huge resorts and hotels were deserted. I’m sure the Zika scare did not help tourism either. Despite this, we had a great time eating mofongo and drinking pina coladas!

To Do

Old San Juan: Historic sites, cobblestone streets, cute shops and cafes

La Placita: Most lively neighborhood with restaurants and bars. This is where locals go out. During the weekends it turns into a huge street party.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro: A historic fort designed to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay. Beautiful views of the city.

El Yunque Rainforest tour ($130): Our tour included transportation from a nearby hotel, lunch at an authentic Puerto Rican restaurant, tour of the rain forest (a short 1 mile hike to Mima Falls), and a kayak tour of a bioluminescent bay (micro-organisms that light up when you touch the water). I recommend renting a car as it will save you time and money.

Culebra Island tour (~$100): We took a large shuttle to Fajardo, about an hour away, where we boarded a cruise boat that took us out to nearby islands. We had plenty of time to snorkel, eat, and drink. They provided unlimited food and piña coladas—although the food was only cold cut meat and bread. Once people had a couple piña coladas in their system they started to dance and dare each other to jump off the boat into the water. We had a good time. Watch our GoPro video here.

To Eat

Local dishes

  • Mofongo: Fried plantain in a form of a bowl topped with meat, veggies, and sauce.

Restaurants

  • La Estacion: Authentic Puerto Rican restaurant where we had lunch on our El Yunque Rainforest tour. Best Mofongo of the trip. Highlight of the tour!
  • El Jibarito: Casual local spot in old San Juan
  • Bombonera: Popular café in San Juan known for their baked goods
  • Barrachina: Best pina coladas
  • Boronia: on La Placita, live music, a little fancier and touristy than we hoped but the food was good
  • Choco Cortes: delicious chocolate and hot chocolate
  • Bogos: local spot with decent Mofongo

South America (August)

Colombia

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Bandeja Paisa

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Guatapé

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El Peñol

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Sorrento

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Crepes in Gautapé

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La Minorista (fried fish, coconut rice, salad, and plantains

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Verdeo Café

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Pueblito Paisa

Medellín

To Do

  • Parque Lleras: Most hotels/hostels are located around here. It is a touristy area with shops, restaurants, and bars.
  • Plaza Botero/ Parque Berrio: The Plaza is filled with Botero’s sculptures by the Parque Berrio metro station. Parque Berrio is across from the plaza and is filled with juice vendors and street performers.
  • Jardín Botánico: Botanical gardens. Pleasant to walk through if you have time but not a highlight of the trip.
  • Pueblito Paisa: Beautiful views of the city. Highly recommend!
  • Coffee tour: Best are in Sorrento. You can book coffee tours through the hostel. We went to San Cayetano in Fredonia.
  • Paragliding: We booked our ticket and cab through the hostel. You take a taxi 30 min outside of the city—find other people to split the cab with you. I recommend going early and on a nice day.
  • Guatapé/El Peñol: If you do one thing, go to Guatape! Breathtaking views. You can either go on your own (what we did) or book a tour. There are also combined tours that take you to Pablo Escobar’s house, where you go paint-balling. If you go on your own it’s a two-hour bus ride (give or take 30 minutes). El Peñol or the rock is the first stop then you take a tuk-tuk to the town Guatapé or you can walk (about 40 min). The town is filled with adorable colorful buildings and shops. I recommend staying there for 2 or 3 hours and getting lunch. We had homemade vegetable crepes made by a French woman who was traveling for a year and working at the café for the week. One of my favorite meals—see the photo above. If you want to go to Guatapé on your own I can send you specific and detailed instructions, as it can be confusing.
  • Parque Arvi: Cable cars to the a beautiful nature preserve. The cable cars give you great views of the city. Get lunch and go on a hike. We spent a whole day at Parque Arvi.
  • El Castillo Museo y Jardines: Gothic-style castle with beautiful gardens. You can take your lunch and picnic

To Eat

Local Dishes

  • Bandeja paisa: a signature dish from the region that includes spicy ground meat, pork cracklings, a fried egg, fried plantains, refried beans, avocado, rice, and a small side salad
  • Las chachas: corn pastry/bread with cheese on top, find it at street vendors
  • Spiralized green mango: served with salt and lime, ate this almost every day from street vendors
  • Pandebono: cheesy bread
  • Plantains with cheese
  • Arepas: served with almost every meal, their version of bread, made from corn
  • Ajiaco: traditional soup
  • Empanadas
  • Patacónes: fried plantain chips with guacamole
  • Aguardiente: typical Colombian alcohol made from anise. We were told to drink it with a slice of orange or lemon.

Restaurants

  • Hato Viejo: nicer traditional Colombian food, order the bandeja paisa
  • Hacinda: Typical Colombian food in downtown, the tour guide recommended it
  • Verdeo: Health/organic café by our hostel in Poblado with cute eclectic decorations. Each table had a different toy animal figurine on it. Looks like a café you’d find in Oakland. They serve a special everyday for 15 pesos (around $5) that includes salad, soup, a fresh juice, entrée, and dessert.
  • Centeno: By our hostel in Poblado, across from exito. This place is a hidden gem—we walked up stairs to a balcony where the chef and his wife were enjoying a glass of wine. When we arrived they jumped up and started our dinner. We were the only ones there and felt like we had a personal chef waiting on us. It was 16 pesos for juice, soup, salad, entrée, and tea. The restaurant had picnic-esque tables with flowers in mason jars. Very cute.
  • Fairytale restaurant by park in Poblado. I can’t remember the name but you sit on the ground or on wood stools. There are lights streamed through the trees and you feel like you’re in a fairy’s forest.

Peru

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Ollantaytambo

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Parque Central, Lima

Cusco/ Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town)

To Do

  • Machu Picchu: If you’re going to Machu Picchu I can send you detailed directions on getting there from Cusco.
  • San Blas: Charming area of Cusco with cobblestone streets and cute cafes.
  • Saksaywaman (pronounced like sexy woman): Incan ruins outside on the outskirts of Cusco.
  • Real City Walking Tour: There are a few tours everyday. My friend was not feeling well so I went on the tour on my own and was the only one who showed up. It happened to be the guide’s last day in Cusco— he was from Portland and traveling South America for a year. He gave me his own personal tour which included eating chocolate cake at his favorite bakery, playing drums at the neighborhood music store, and meeting locals at the market who greeted him with a hug and free juice.
  • Plaza de Armas: Main square in Cusco with lots of restaurants and bars.
  • Mercado de San Pedro: Local food market with juice vendors and cheap food.
  • Maras salt mines: We did not have time to go but you can take a day tour there on an ATV or take the bus.
  • Rainbow mountain: Beautiful day hike. We didn’t go but everyone highly recommends it.

To Eat

Local dishes

  • Lomo Saltado: A dish that consists with thin strips of beef, sautéed onions, rice, fries, and vegetables.
  • Pisco Sour: A typical drink from the region made from Pisco, lemon juice, and topped with egg white.

Restaurants

  • Green Point: Vegan restaurant in San Blas. They have a daily 3-course special that is ~$5. Everything is delicious. We were only in Cusco for three days and went there twice.
  • Chica: Traditional Peruvian food that is a pricier than other restaurants in the area, but it is worth splurging for the night. Absolutely delicious! They are known for their chocolate balloon dessert.

Lima (only need a day/night)

To Do

  • Miraflores: touristy area with good restaurants and bars
  • Barranco: next to Miraflores. We walked from our hostel in Miraflores and it took around 40 minutes. If you’re in the area then go to the Puente de los Suspiros or Bridge of Sighs – not very exciting but there is a nice view of the city.
  • Parque de la Reserve: impressive water show every night
  • Parque Central: Park in Miraflores with lots of cats wondering around, pretty funny to see

To Eat

Local dishes

  • Ceviche!
  • Papas a la huanciana: Peruvian potatoes covered with spicy cheese
  • Pollo a la Brasa: grilled chicken
  • Causa: Layered potato dish with a variety of meat and vegetable fillings. Very popular!

Restaurants

  • St. Roos: hole in the wall in Barranco
  • La Estancia: café/pastry shop in Miraflores
  • Madam Tusán: Chinese/Peruvian food (a popular combination in Lima)
  • La Lucha: causal sandwiches in Miraflores
  • Neuvo Mondo: artisanal beers in Miraflores
  • Raw Café Club: vegan restaurant in Miraflores
  • Punto Azul: seafood restaurant in Miraflores

Dublin (November)

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To Do

  • Guinness Factory tour
  • Walking tour (daily)
  • Trinity College
  • Temple Bar and Street: The bar itself is expensive and touristy but it is worth stepping in to enjoy the decorations and atmosphere.
  • Cliffs of Moher and Galway tour: I booked with Wild Rover. The tour departs at 7am and returns at 7pm. If you’re only in Ireland for the weekend it is a great way to see the extremely green and beautiful countryside. There are endless cows and châteaux. Beware they are strict about departure times. Don’t make the mistake I made and arrive a couple minutes late. Yes I was left at the Cliffs of Moher alone. The bus came back for me but they were not happy. Needless to say I did not make any friends on that tour—but seriously did the girl next to me not notice I was missing?!

To Eat

  • Pichet: Traditional Irish lunch
  • Vintage Kitchen: Irish lunch and dinner spot
  • Bobos Burgers: Ireland has delicious beef and butter because their (very happy) cows graze in the hundreds of acres of grass.
  • Kehoes Burgers
  • International food market: off of Temple Bar street
  • Yamamori: Great sushi and good lunch specials
  • Krust: Cronuts
  • Grogens: Best Guinness

Strasbourg (December)

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I went to Strasbourg, a small French city on the German border, with two friends for a night for the Marché de Noël. It is a university town so there are lots of students around. Although we went during Christmas time so it was very touristy. I’ve heard it’s beautiful to visit during spring and summer. It is a quant little town—you can walk the perimeter in about an hour. Highlights were the cathedral and the canals.

To Eat

Local Dishes

  • Tarte flambée
  • Choucroute
  • Kougelhopf
  • Bretzel
  • Vin Chaud
  • Grimbergen beer- I enjoyed the grimbergen ambrée

Restaurants

  • Pfifferbriader: Traditional food from the region, in the main square and a bit touristy
  • Meiselocker: Traditional food, off from the main square and cheaper
  • Chez Yvonne: We didn’t actually go here because it was already at capacity for the night. I have heard it is excellent.
  • Au Pont Saint-Martin: Delicious Choucroute. We ordered the Choucroute Royale, which was €20 each. We made the mistake thinking it was €20 total so we received enough food to feed five 6’3″ men.

Berry Banana Bread

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Ingredients:

1 ½ c whole-wheat flour

½ c oats

½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

½ c butter (I used earth balance)

½ c brown sugar

½ c honey

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 bananas (mashed)

1 c fresh berries

Directions:

  1. Mix the flour, oats, salt, and baking soda together.
  2. In another bowl combine the butter, brown sugar, honey, eggs, and vanilla.
  3. Combine the two bowls together thoroughly then mix in mashed bananas and berries.
  4. Pour mixture into a well- greased baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Thai Peanut Noodles with Chickpeas

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I made this recipe with organic whole-wheat noodles, but you can also use vegetable noodles, such as spiralized zucchini or carrot.

Ingredients:

8 oz pasta

2 cups veggie slaw (I used TJ’s organic broccoli carrot slaw)

1/4th cup sesame oil

2 limes

½ cup peanut butter

1/4th teaspoon ginger (minced)

1/4th teaspoon garlic (minced)

1/4th cup soy sauce

1/4th cup coconut milk

½ cup chickpeas

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Prepare your noodles of choice according to the directions.
  2. Sauté the vegetable slaw in a tablespoon of the sesame oil for a few minutes until cooked.
  3. Add all the ingredients for the sauce in a food processor— sesame oil, lime juice, peanut butter, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and coconut milk. If it is too thick add a splash of water. Pour in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Mix the pasta, vegetables, peanut sauce sauce, and chickpeas together. I used organic canned chickpeas but if you have the time, make your own! Sprinkle chili flakes on top and serve.

One Month in Paris

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Le Marais

My love of France stems from my mother. Our cousins are French and my mom lived in France after college teaching English. I grew up sharing her love for the language, culture, and food. Although the most distinct memory I have of Paris as a child is my mom getting pick-pocketed at the Notre Dame, Paris still had a strong appeal to me. I was drawn to the sophistication and grace of the culture. To me, France represented elegance and refinement, traits that as a little girl I tried to emulate. While this is a highly idealized picture of France—it is not all wine, cheese, and romance— I still hold on to those fantasies as an adult.

Coming from a family of ardent travelers, I was exposed to many different cultures when I was young. At ten years old I did not appreciate our month-long escapades; I actually cried when I had to miss a month of school to go to Thailand. However, these trips shaped my view of the world and gave me an innate love of exploring. Once I was mature enough to value traveling, I wanted to live in a foreign country. During university I had the opportunity to study abroad in Paris for four months. Regrettably, I lived in an English-speaking bubble and my French did not improve, much to my mother’s dismay. I took classes with Americans, lived with Americans, and traveled with Americans. My priority was hitting all the touristy places in Europe with my American friends—not meeting French people or getting assimilated into the culture. I also realized that four months is nothing. I needed to go back for a longer period of time. I was not ready to make the leap after graduation and decided work in San Francisco at a financial health care consulting firm. After a year, living abroad was still on the back of my mind. I found an ideal nannying position that allowed me the flexibility to work part-time and pursue other interests. So here I am, working as a nanny, taking French classes, applying to grad school, and interning at La Guingette d’Angèle. I’ve also now started looking into graduate programs in Paris since education is more affordable here than in the US. Highly recommend considering this if you want to go back to school and live abroad!

After a month (and a week), I’m more integrated than I expected. I live in an adorable little studio in the Latin Quarter surrounded by cafes and boulangeries. I’m around the corner from the Panthéon, Jardin du Luxembourg, and the Midnight in Paris stairs. The Jardin du Luxembourg has become my favorite place in Paris. In 1612 Queen Marie de Medici purchased the land and organized the construction of the garden, inspired by the Boboli Gardens in Florence. Now, I run here a few times a week and walk through the park on my way to class. Casual. I enjoy watching kids play with toy-sailboats in the pond and people playing pétanque or jeu de boules (a game played with small steel and wooden balls). Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book so I often daydream that I am back in 19th century England strolling through Mr. Darcy’s garden. Even after a month, I am still in awe that a park of this grandeur and beauty exists just a few blocks from my apartment.

During the week I pick up the children (9 and 13) at 16h30 then practice English and play chess with them for a couple hours. The children are extremely well-behaved and mature. I’ve noticed that French children are more independent than American children. The children can walk to school on their own, run errands, prepare their own meals, and even make chocolate chip cookies from scratch! The thirteen year-old girl has started her own food Instagram so we can bond over our mutual obsession of food photography.

The hardest part so far has been going from being a young professional working in the corporate world to a glorified baby-sitter making one-seventh of what I used to make. I find French people surprisingly welcoming and friendly but I am still the expat living in an unknown country. I am not fluent in French and do not understand every conversation so at times it can be isolating and frustrating. Even simple tasks like picking up a package at the post office or opening a French bank account can be daunting. You cannot defend or argue for yourself, which is infuriating when you know you are right. Don’t get me wrong it has been easier to meet people than I anticipated. I automatically had the expat community to fall back on and friends living in the city; then from there I met fellow bloggers, friends of friends, other UCLA alumni, etc. There are countless resources— you just need to take advantage of them. I’ve joined meet-ups, Facebook groups, expat communities, and Franglish. My natural inclination is to get involved and to not miss out (#fomo), a trait I undoubtedly inherited from my mother, who is a social butterfly. Although I am no butterfly, my friends applaud my boundless energy and enthusiasm to try new things. I am still getting my bearings and figuring out what to do next, but for now I am enjoying my chocolat chaud and croissant from the café below my apartment. C’est la vie!

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Château de Fontainebleau

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Monmartre

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Jardin du Luxembourg

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Jardin du Luxembourg

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Parc des Buttes Chaumont

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Paris Photo at Grand Palais

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Paris Photo at Grand Palais

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Le jardin de Monet à Giverny

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Vétheuil

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Château de Fontainebleau

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Fontainebleau

La Cuisine Française

My food adventures from the last month:

Casa San Pablo (Marais): Tapas

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Balsamic mushrooms and calamari

Cute tapas restaurant in Le Marais. Order a few tapas to share and enjoy with a pitcher of Sangria on the side of the street. Waiters are friendly and happy to help you practice French 🙂

Season (Marais): Chic healthy café around the corner from Le Carreau du Temple

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Quinoa Salad and Shakshuka

They offer a seasonal menu with fresh and organic ingredients. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I need to go back and try their acai bowl. ALSO GIVEAWAY: if you like my new wood watch (Frankie Dark Sandalwood & Emerald) then enter in a contest for the chance to win a $75 gift card. PLUS everyone who enters automatically receives a $20 gift card.

Wooden Wristwatch

Mariage Frères (Multiple Locations): Famous up-scale tea house

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Classic brunch course (bougie eggs, vegetables, brioche, dessert, and choice of tea)

This is the kind of place I reserve for special occasions. The service and decor is elegant and refined. I celebrated my 23rd birthday here with my friend Dawkins, a dear friend who I’ve known since I was three. They have excellent tea and desserts. My favorite is Pleine Lune (almond black tea with honey) and Imperial Wedding (chocolate black tea with caramel). The tea list is extensive and daunting so ask for recommendations, otherwise you will be lost.

Bob’s Kitchen (Marias) Casual laid-back vegan/vegetarian café

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Green Curry Veggie Bowl

Enjoy delicious home-made food and juices in a relaxed and casual setting. Bob’s Kitchen is hidden off of one streets by the centre Pompidou—you would not notice it, unless seeking it out, like I was. They have a small kitchen and serve dishes until they run out. They are known for their daily vegetable bowls. I got the green curry veggie bowl that comes with brown rice, sweet potatoes, Yukon potatoes, and broccoli. The other two options were lentil curry and peanut curry.

Soul Kitchen (Montmartre) Adorable healthy café with Vegan/Vegetarian options

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Curry lentils with vegetables, greek yogurt, and toasted coconut

Soul Kitchen, nestled by the Montmartre steps, offers a daily-changing menu with homemade dishes made from local organic ingredients. It is owned by two cheery woman who are eager to tell you about the menu. It is creatively decorated with mismatched and colorful plates and furniture. Highly recommend!

Angelina (Rue de Rivoli) Famous tea house known for their chocolat chaud and Mont Blanc dessert

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Famous hot chocolate

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Eggs Benedict with Canadian Bacon

The best chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) in Paris!  It is touristy but the hot chocolate is the creamiest and richest I’ve ever drunk. It is so thick and decadent that I would almost classify it has pudding. I recommend putting on your most Blair Waldorf esque outfit and coming with a couple girlfriends on a chilly day.

Au P’tit Grec (Latin Quarter) Best street crêpes in Paris

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Crêpe with ham, chèvre, tomatoes, and lettuce

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Extremely delicious street crêpes located on Rue Mouffetard— lucky me it’s right down the street. My favorite combination (because there are hundreds) is jambon (ham), chèvre (goat cheese), salade (greens), tomate (tomatoes), aubergine (eggplant), and herbs de provence!

L’As du Fallafel (Marais) Famous out-of-this-world falafel place

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Situated in the heart of Le Marais, my favorite area in Paris, on Rue des Rosiers. The best falafel in Paris and I’ll go as far to say, the best street food in Paris! For only 6 euros you can enjoy a heaping pita filled with falafel, aubergine, cabbage, and special spicy tahini sauce.  There is always a line so I recommend avoid going on the weekend. You will wait at least 40 minutes.

Du Pain et Des Idées (10th arr)  Delicious baked goods

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A famous boulangerie known for their pistachio-chocolate escargot croissant.

Zesty Coconut Cauliflower Chickpea Salad

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1 head cauliflower (chopped into bite size pieces)

1 can (15 oz) chickpeas

1 cucumber

1 tomato

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons coconut milk

juice of 2 limes

salt and pepper to taste

pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cauliflower and chickpeas on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper on top. Cook for ~40 minutes, until the chickpeas and cauliflower have become brown on the edges and crispy.
  2. While the cauliflower and chickpeas are cooking, make the dressing by combining olive oil, Dijon mustard, rice vinegar, coconut milk, and lime juice together.
  3. Cut the tomato and cucumber into small pieces and set aside.
  4. Once the cauliflower and chickpeas have cooled combine with the tomato and cucumber. Then toss with the dressing. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes on top.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup (DF)

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Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower (chopped into bite size pieces)

2 cups milk of choice (I used almond milk)

½ cups water

1 onion

2 cups mushroom

1 teaspoon fresh garlic

basil or cilantro for garnishing

salt, pepper, and chili flakes to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the cauliflower on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper on top. Cook for ~40 minutes, until the cauliflower has developed crispy edges. Take out and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile sauté the onion, mushrooms, and garlic together. Once they are golden set aside to cool.
  3. Combine the cauliflower, onion, mushroom, garlic, milk, and water in a Vitamix and blend together. Alternatively, combine the ingredients in a large pot and blend together with an immersion blender. Add salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Serve with basil or cilantro on top.

Pumpkin Oat Muffins

‘Tis the season for PUMPKIN! Here is an easy and delicious recipe for pumpkin oat muffins. Happy fall everyone!

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Ingredients:

1 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup honey (maple syrup or agave work too)

2 eggs

1 cup pumpkin purée

1/4th soy milk (or milk of choice)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 ½ cup whole-wheat flour

½ cup oats (plus more for garnishing)

Recipe makes 12 muffins

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt the coconut oil then immediately mix it with the maple syrup, eggs, pumpkin purée, soy milk, vanilla, and almond extract. The coconut oil will begin to harden again so it needs to be stirred in with the other ingredients right away.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients together (baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, flour and oats) then combine it with the coconut oil mixture.
  4. Divide the batter between the twelve muffin tins. Sprinkle a few oats on top of each muffin. Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, around 20 minutes.
  5. Let cool and serve with pumpkin butter from TJ’s.

Indispensable Pesto

This is a modified recipe from The Garlic Lover’s Cookbook. Warning: this pesto will leave a strong garlic taste in your mouth. Use less garlic if you plan on smooching anyone later in the night. For a healthy alternative try it over spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles.

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1 cup grated fresh Parmesan

2 cups fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup melted butter (or dairy-free, non-hydrogenated Earth Balance)

10-20 cloves fresh garlic (I use the whole bulb)

1 tbs pine nuts (I throw in a handful, because I love them)

3/4 olive oil

salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Using a blender or food processor, grate enough Parmesan cheese to make one cup; add basil.
  2. Then add melted butter, followed by garlic, pine nuts and finally the oil.
  3. Allow each added ingredient to blend smoothly with the preceding ones, and let stand at least one hour.
  4. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  5. Mix pesto with pasta fresh from the boiling water. Do not add too much pesto, but allow each person a chance to adjust flavor to taste, by adding more pesto if desired.
  6. Leftover pesto will last for a quite a long while if refrigerated in a plastic container, but do not freeze.