Three things from my week that made me smile...

1. This gorgeous belt from Anthro.

2. Congratulatory flowers from one of my customers.

3. New set of stationary cards, also from Anthro.

The majority of my week has been filled with diaper changes, nursing, and naps. I love my baby, however I'm also happy to look back on some things that I have especially for me.

The Unavoidable

Ok, I've totally been avoiding hair posts because frankly, I don't know what I want to do with it. I took my braids down after one week because they were giving me a headache. I couldn't wear them down because it was too hot - and when I wore them up - my head hurt. I had enough things hurting on me to deal with hair being an additional cause. Prior to that, I used the previous weeks, to allow me to "get to know" my hair again. I had been doing the same routine for a while, and I felt like I reached a break point, and should switch some things up.

Switching things up included the following:
  • Adding a monthly protein treatment to my routine
  • Trying more out styles
  • Dry detangling vs. wet detangling 
  • Finger detangling vs. comb/brush detangling

My thoughts on protein treatment for my hair...
I purchased the book, The Science of Black Hair, and the author spoke a lot about the importance of protein and moisture balance. I typically don't do any protein treatments for my hair - so I think monthly protein treatments will be a nice addition. I've only done two thus far, so I can't tell now whether or not it's made a difference. More on that later...

My thoughts on out styles for my hair...
For some reason, I think that I forget how kinky and coarse my hair can be. I had the NERVE to try a wash-n-go, SMH. Needless to say - it came out to be a tightly coiled afro that was absolutely dry and so coiled that I gave myself an additional headache finger-combing to detangle it. Out styles like braid outs seem to be fine, however I would need to re-twist/re-braid/bun it nightly to ensure my hair stays stretched. I need to come to terms with the fact that if I wear my hair out - it needs to be re-twisted at night. Period. I'm still unsure as to whether or not nightly re-twisting will be "too much" manipulation. However, if I can maintain my current length, I think I could deal with the fact that my hair is not APL, because I personally prefer wearing my hair out, over twists, unless they're the mini twists.

Dry vs. wet detangling for my hair with non-traditional tools...
I've been able to do several people's hair recently. When I saw the minimal hair loss from their detangling sessions, I thought I should try switching things up. When I say "dry detangle" I should use quotes, because I do spritz my hair with a water/aloe vera/castor oil mix to help the detangling process. Additionally - I have put down my comb, and left all detangling to my fingers. We'll see how this works with regards to length retention.

In Summary...
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my hair. Some people with kinky hair still have soft hair, which makes it more manageable, IMO. However, my hair is a different beast. I want to rock an afro like Solange, Esperanza or Julia. Although, I'm not sure what my length retention will be with that as my signature style. Additionally, two-strand twists and braids generate SSKs, unless I do big ones - which are not cute on me to say the least. Also, I started looking at some of my hair idols, like Sera, and I think her hair grows a LOT faster than mine. Her hair at her year 2 mark is longer than my hair is now, and I've been growing it for a solid 3 years. With everybody going natural now, I think it can be discouraging to see folks at their one or two-year marks with hair that is longer than mine (hello CharyJay and Nikkimae). I know I shouldn't compare myself, but I'm human, and it makes me wonder: What am I missing? Is it just genetic? Is it just my hair? What's the deal?!?!?!

Right now, I'm re-grouping and re-focusing. I took A DAY to install some micro twists. I hope to keep them for at least one month. I can wash my hair with them, and style it as I like. See pictures below.

 **Excuse the bags under my eyes, war wounds of having a newborn...and no makeup

I just wanted to give you all an update - you can see why I haven't said much. This hair is getting on my last nerve, AGAIN! I will either cut it, go back to locs, or continue on this unpleasant free-strand journey that seems to turn up no positive results...past shoulder length. I think if I was seeing more success I wouldn't feel the need to cut it, because I would know I was getting results. However now, I feel like I'm getting nowhere, and the time commitment isn't worth the poor results.

Avocado-Spinach Panini

Sometimes I find that lunch is the most difficult meal to find as a vegetarian. I'm really trying out a lot of new recipes so that by the time Naja is a toddler, I have some staple lunch and dinner options that have all of the nutrients that she needs for a well-balanced meal. This panini actually has 12 g of protein in it - so that's not too shabby!

Avocado-Spinach Panini
Source: Vegetarian Times, July/August 2011 Issue, "Hot off the Press!"
Serves 4


2 avocados, halved and thinly sliced
1/3 cup julienned, smoked sun-dried tomatoes (1 oz.)
2 Tbs. diced red onion
2 cups lightly packed baby spinach
4 4-oz. ciabatta rolls, split in half
1. Layer avocado slices, tomatoes, onion, and 1/2 cup spinach on each roll. Spray panini with cooking spray.
2. Coat skillet or grill pan with cooking spray, and heat over medium heat. Place panini in pan; weight with smaller-diameter saucepan weighted with 1 or 2 cans. Cook 2 minutes, remove weight, flip panini, replace weight, and cook 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more. (Or cook 4 minutes in panini maker.)

This sandwich was absolutely delicious. The sun-dried tomatoes I purchased were stored in some EVOO with rosemary. The rosemary and EVOO from the tomatoes added just the right amount of zing to bring a lot of flavor. This sandwich is sure to become a summer staple for me!

Black Bean Quinoa Burger

Ok guys, I've featured a lot of burgers on my blog. The thing with veggie "burgers" is that they don't always mimick the taste of real burgers. Not that they're supposed to taste like meat, but some of the flavors are VERY exotic and really don't have the real "burger feel." Well this burger is the BEST burger I've fixed, and it's a great vegan/vegetarian replacement if you want the "burger feel" with your favorite burger toppings!

Black Bean Quinoa Burger
Source: Adapted from Vegetarian Times July/August 2011 Issue
Made 6 Burgers

 1/2 cup quinoa
1 small onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped (1/4 cup)
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, or 1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
2 tsp. Todd's Dirt (It's a seafood seasoning, similar to Old Bay, you can also use steak seasoning)
8 whole-grain hamburger buns
1. Stir together quinoa and 11/4 cups water in small saucepan, and season with salt, if desired. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. (You should have 11/2 cups cooked quinoa.)
2. Meanwhile, place onion and sun-dried tomatoes in medium nonstick skillet, and cook over medium heat. (The oil left on the tomatoes should be enough to sauté the onion.) Cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until onion has softened. Stir in 3/4 cup black beans, garlic, steak seasoning, and 11/2 cups water. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated.
3. Transfer bean-onion mixture to food processor, add 3/4 cup cooked quinoa, and process until smooth. Transfer to bowl, and stir in remaining 3/4 cup quinoa and remaining 3/4 cup black beans. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and cool. 
4. Preheat oven to 350°F, and generously coat baking sheet with cooking spray. Shape bean mixture into 8 patties (1/2 cup each), and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, or until patties are crisp on top. Flip patties with spatula, and bake 10 minutes more, or until both sides are crisp and brown. Serve on buns.
I used my FAVORITE burger toppings for this one which are: cheddar cheese, mustard, mayo, lettuce and onion! Note: With my new addition (Naja), I'm making it a point to have a protein in every meal. You will see a lot more uses of protein-rich ingredients to allow me to do this!

Super Trife

Top - F21; Skirt - J. Crew; Shoes - Borrowed from Mom

Date: Sunday, July 17, 2011

Is it super trife that I'm posting this outfit OVER a week late? I mean - I'm literally without the belly and everything now. This was my last pic preggo. It's funny looking at my pics - I think my face was definitely swollen in the last few weeks. Let me also just say that I think my hair looks a little crazy here, and it kind of has been crazy the past week. It's just been WILD! I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. Depending on the time it takes these first few weeks, I'm considering a big chop. I know - I've been growing it, blah blah, but seriously - I don't want to spend HOURS on my hair. I have a whole hair update post drafted, I just need to tweak it a bit (for those who care). I missed 3 days of posting last week, but I still have a lot of good stuff backed up - food specifically! I may also throw in a post-baby outfit pic too...maybe. :)

I wore the top here.

Introducing Naja Simone...

Hello Everyone!

I took a two day hiatus to birth my child, lol!!! I am SOOOO happy to be back in action. Now that Naja is here, I don't know how often I may post baby-related stuff. You know this blog, it goes with the flow and evolves with me. I posted pics (below), but I am taking the time to use this post to share my labor story because I think it's hilarious.

My Labor Story
Tuesday morning I woke up around 5:30 AM, and I felt like I was having more than the regular Braxton-Hicks contractions. I was using the bathroom about every 20 minutes, and I was having contractions about every 10 minutes. I felt pretty miserable. At 6:30 AM, I called my doctor who informed me that I needed to come in when my contractions are only 5 minutes apart. At this point, I think everyone thinks I'm over-reacting, because it's 10 days before my due date, and it is my first child. I continued to time my contractions, which came consistently at 10 minute intervals, then sometime around 8:15 AM my water broke. It was undeniable - it felt like a balloon popped and warm water gushed out. I went to my mom to inform her of the news, and called the doctor's office. They told me to rush right in! I took a quick shower to get ready to head to the hospital, then my mom and I were off!

When we arrived at the hospital, I was met with a nonchalant nurse who hooked me up to a machine to monitor Naja's heart rate and my blood pressure. She left me in the room for a good 20 minutes, I was coping with the contractions well - still planned to go all natural. She came back and took a swab to check to see if I was ruptured, and she said that I wasn't. The swab didn't turn blue, and she said they may send me home. That's when things got a little wratchet.

My contractions were coming a lot more often, I felt nauseous, and I had a dry mouth. I started banging my fist up against the wall, and I called the nurse to see if she could remove the monitor around my belly (watching Naja's heart rate). I also said something like, "I can't believe women still have children with this kind of pain." While waiting for the nurse, my mom asked me if I was sure that I still wanted a natural birth. I asked her if the epidural would eliminate my contraction pain. Her reply, "Oh yes!" My reply, "Then YES, I want the epidural!!!" Thirty minutes later, the nurse came into the room to inform me that we couldn't remove the heart monitor, and that the doctor asked to check me to see if I was dilated. She checked me and I was 5-6 cm and 90% effaced at 9:50 AM. I was quickly admitted to labor and delivery.

The following moments were a blur. I went into the labor and delivery room, they put an oxygen mask on me, and had me sign a lot of papers. My contractions were steadily worsening. I was in pain. I kept asking, "Am I going to have time for the epidural?" They replied, "YES!" I screamed, "AHHHHHHH!" The nurse said, "Honey, that isn't going to help." Then, I pulled the oxygen mask off, and asked if they could remove the heart monitor again. I was really going through it!!! My mom tried to re-focus me on breathing and getting through the contractions. Then - I felt it - like I had to go - and I knew it was Naja. I said, "She's coming!!!" They looked and saw that I was 8-9 cm and 100% effaced. They called my doctor, who was in another building, but after three hard pushes, baby girl was here! The on-call doctor actually delivered Naja. I did have an episiotomy, but I had a natural birth. No pitocin, no epidural! Ok, now for the part you care about - my beautiful baby girl. Introducing Miss Naja Simone...

We don't know who she looks like - I think she'll either look like her father or my mom. It's so hard to tell with newborns. Either way, she's a beauty!

Strawberry Summer Cake

Can somebody say "Mmm mmm good?" This was by far, the most delicious summer dessert ever. Fresh strawberries, with a cake batter that's not too sweet, and just the right amount of cake-like texture. I was in heaven! I had to wait for my mom to be home to fix this because with the fresh strawberries, it doesn't last long, and I wasn't about to eat the entire cake by myself. It was totally worth the wait.

Strawberry Summer Cake
Source: Smitten Kitchen

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate
1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour (can swap 3/4 cup or 94 grams all-purpose flour with 3/4 cup or 75 grams of barley flour, see Note)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (200 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup (118 ml) milk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 pound (450 grams) strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch pie pan or 9- or 10-inch springform.Whisk flour or flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer (though I had to overlap a few to get them all in). Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Gooey strawberries on the tester are a given.) Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into wedges. Serve with lightly whipped cream.

How's that for your Monday morning pleasure?


Three things from my week that made me smile...

1. New shoes by Dolce Vita (Emery). How about I LOVE these shoes - LOVE THEM. They are my birthday gift to myself - they're super comfortable and versatile, I think these are keepers for life!

2. My iPad. I've had it for over a year, but recently, the Netflix app is giving me LIFE! This week, I've been watching Heroes, I'm on season 3!

3. Preparing for Naja. I had one real contraction yesterday, and my Braxton-Hicks are coming more regularly as well. She'll be here before I know it, and we are busy opening and washing things to get ready for her arrival!

I hope you all have a great weekend! Peace.

Feature on Natural Bloom

Hello Again,

Forgive me for posting this almost two weeks after the initial publication date - but better late than never! Jc recently published an AWESOME online natural hair magazine, and I was absolutely delighted to be one of the contributors to the first edition.

Yes - that's me on the front cover! The issue has some great articles including highlights from natural hair businesses, vintage-inspired hair styles, beauty and more. Click here to access the publication. The Natural Bloom blog is a great way to keep up with the new bi-monthly publication.


Shirt - Anthro; Skirt - H&M Maternity; Necklace - Borrowed from mom; Sandals - Steve Madden

Date: Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday was a travel day since I drove back home for a work conference I had Monday and Tuesday of this week. Work conferences are quite the oxymoron. Typically, they're meant to do a few things: 
  • Re-energize
  • Contribute to your personal development needs
  • Fix a problem
  • Discuss a new venture/generate new ideas

Somehow, in the positivity of all of the previous mentions, everyone I know leaves conferences tired, with more work left than when they arrived. What an oxymoron - you put up your "Out of Office" automatic reply, and people think you're on vacation, when you're really just traveling somewhere to add to your plate. Ah life. I still enjoyed the conference, and am happy that I went!

Zucchini-Quinoa Lasagna

I have a LOT of quinoa folks, and let me tell you - cooking with it has really helped keep my grocery bill fairly trim! This is a delicious, healthier alternative to regular lasagna. The dish uses zucchini slices as the lasagna noodles - how clever!

Zucchini-Quinoa Lasagna
Source: Adapted from Vegetarian Times, July-August 2011 Edition
Serves 6


2 large zucchini, cut lengthwise into 12 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 tsp. salt
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
2 Tbs. cream cheese*
1 25-oz. jar marinara sauce
3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella*

*SS: The original recipe was vegan, and called for non-dairy cream cheese and mozzarella, I went for the real thing, both however, are optional

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place zucchini slices on bed of paper towels. Sprinkle with salt, cover with paper towels, and let stand to release moisture while preparing quinoa.
  2. Bring broth, quinoa, tomato sauce, onion, and oregano to a boil in saucepan. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 25 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, and stir in basil, parsley, and cream cheese.
  3. Spoon 1/3 cup marinara sauce over bottom of 8-inch square baking dish. Blot remaining moisture and salt from zucchini slices, and lay 4 zucchini slices over marinara sauce in pan. Spoon half of quinoa over zucchini, and cover with 1/3 cup marinara. SS: I added a light sprinkle of mozzarella in between layers. Repeat with 4 more zucchini slices, remaining quinoa, and 1/3 cup marinara. Top with remaining 4 zucchini slices, remaining marinara, and shredded cheese, if using. Bake lasagna 30 minutes, or until zucchini is tender and top is bubbly.
I was surprised at how tasty this dish was! I fixed this for my mom and brother, and both of them enjoyed it a lot. While my brother was upset to see there were no actual lasagna noodles, when he tasted it - he liked it. YES, my brother ate zucchini!

Feature on Frugivore

Hey Everyone,

Frugivore highlighted me as a Black Female Pescatarian today! Frugivore is an online health magazine with a focus on the black community. They started a feature on black female vegans/vegetarians/pescatarians to highlight some of the changes black women are making towards a healthier lifestyle.

I think it's great for the black community because it raises awareness about healthy food options. Click here for a direct link to my feature.

Strawberry Tartlet

I've had to slow down this past month with working out, however my sweet tooth has remained. Summer mango and strawberries have been my best friend. I think Naja is either going to love them or hate them once she gets to taste them! I made this strawberry tartlet as a light dessert option that was easy, lasts a while, and most important - DELICIOUS!!!

Strawberry Tartlet
Source: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen Blog


1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup whole wheat flour, or graham flour if you can get it
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground cloves
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons molasses (you can swap this with additional honey, if desired)
3/4 pound strawberries, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cups ricotta (10 ounces), fresh if you can find it, a full-fat store bought if you cannot
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

In a bowl, whisk both flours with the cinnamon, salt and cloves. Beat the butter, light brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar at medium speed on an electric mixer until fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in the honey and molasses, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the side of the bowl and beat in the flour mixture at low speed, just until incorporated. Pat the dough into a disk, cover with plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. SS: My dough probably needed to be in the fridge a bit longer - it was somewhat sticky, I just made it work.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 large baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. Using a 3 1/2-inch oval cookie cutter, stamp out your bases. SS: I just used a glass - old school. Reroll the dough scraps if necessary. Transfer the grahams to the baking sheets and bake for about 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until lightly golden around the edges. Let cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer the grahams to racks to cool completely. SS: I made 12 grahams from this recipe.

In a bowl, toss the strawberries with the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and the lemon juice. Let stand until syrupy, 20 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, confectioners' sugar and lemon zest.

Spread about 1 tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on each graham. Arrange the strawberries over the ricotta, drizzle with the syrup and serve.

This dessert is great for smaller homes, because the grahams and ricotta* both last about week. Thus - you shouldn't feel the need to eat all of the dessert in two nights - score! Use the strawberries for your yogurt, or cereal the next day. Smitten Kitchen has gorgeous pictures, in the case that you want to drool a bit more over this juicy dessert, click here for the original post over there.

*Ricotta will last about a week if packaged


Shirt - Anthro; Shorts - Anthro; Bracelet - Anthro; Earrings - Hand Me Down; Sandals - Sam Edelman

Date: Saturday, July 9, 2011

If you're wondering why I missed my Friday post, you can blame it on two things:
  1. Amazon - my package was late, and that was one of my 'smile' items, SMH - it WILL be featured this week!
  2. My hair - This is my new look for the summer! I'm not sure how long it will last, but it works for the time being. I actually did the braids myself. I did these braids over the course of Thursday and Friday evenings, they probably took me about 12-14 hours total. They are LONG - waist length long - and they will most likely be wrapped up in a bun!
My look is super dramatic with all this hair. Folks like Solange and Stephanie were my inspiration for the braids. I think both of them look lovely rocking the braids. These waist-length Poetic Justice-like braids are just gorgeous to me. Styles like this help me remember why I love my hair - it allows me to be such a chameleon. So - how do you like my new look?

Wild Thing

Dress - Vintage; Belt - Vintage; Shoes - Urban; Tank - Urban; Accessories - ??? Old (2004)

Date: Saturday, July 2, 2011

I was so pleased with how this "wild thing" outfit turned out. I've actually worn this dress a couple other times during my expectancy, but I have yet to take a picture in it. I normally layer it with a different tank and change up my belt for a different look. I really love how this belt in particular looks with it. Yesterday I was Mother Nature, and today I'm a Wild Thing!

PS - For my hair, I was aiming for a flat twist out, highlighted here. However, I didn't let my hair dry, so it just went afro on me. I still loved it!
PSS - That last picture of my scrunched up face...I practice that face to see where my wrinkle lines will be when I get older - true story. REAL STORY - a bug flew into my eye right when the timer went off, smh.

Mother Nature

Dress - Urban; Turban - Skirt borrowed from mom; Earrings - Hand Me Down from Cousin; Sandals - Sam Edelman; Lips - MAC (Satin)

Date: Friday, July 1, 2011

For this outfit, I felt like I was channeling "Mother Nature." I don't know if it was the turban, or the rustic silver earrings, or the matte dark lips, but when I looked in the mirror I said, "Hello Mother Nature!" LOL. I often will come up with names for myself if my outfits make me feel a certain vibe. I've been everything from Angela Davis, to a a groovy hippie, to Parisian chic. Let's just say I celebrate Halloween on plenty of honorary days throughout the year!

2YO Anniversary Giveaway Winners

Thank you to all of you who follow Sofull Sista. I enjoyed reading all of the lovely comments for the giveaway, they were both sweet and encouraging. Now, for the giveaway winners...I used to pick 3 numbers randomly. With the additional twitter/FB options, there were 23 entries in total. As stated, there are three winners, in order of the number chosen, they are:

#1. Tamara - Headband
#2. Amy - Quinoa 365
#3. See Kate Run - Milk & Cookies

Congratulations!!! Two of the three winners received their #1 picks, which is great! If you are a winner, please email me your mailing information at so that I can send you your prize. Congrats again to the winners, and thanks again to all of my awesome supporters!

Over it

Dress - H&M; Turban Headband - Anthro; Shoes - Borrowed from Mom; Earrings - Gift

Date: Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's so hard to go back to work during the summer after a long vacation weekend. When you know teachers and kids are out, and everyone else is taking vacation. I haven't taken any vacation at all this year, because I needed to save my vacation for Naja's arrival. I'm at the point now where I want Naja to just come on.

It's hard to sleep comfortably now, and I wake up every couple of hours to use the bathroom. I have my first sign of stretch marks right above my belly button. To be frank - I'm kind of "over" this whole being pregnant thing. I just want my child to come. So that I can have something like a vacation, and hold my little baby, and dress her. I guess I'll still be waking up in the middle of the night, but for some reason - it seems that it will be better when she's here. Oh well, here's to waiting...3 weeks and 3 days til D-Day! Others are telling me to enjoy these last few weeks, and I've been enjoying this stuff for 9 months - I'm really just over it now.

Mushroom-Leek Burger with Smoked Tempeh Strips

Happy Independence Day folks! I made this burger last week in hope to get all of my "burger woes" out of the way for this meat-filled BBQ weekend. Let me tell you - it was yummy. Surprisingly, the Smoked Tempeh Strips (aka Facon Bacon) were also quite delicious. I was very pleased with this burger. I got the idea to make this burger from a restaurant highlighted in Vegetarian Times July/August 2011 issue. The restaurant, Off the Griddle, has a Mushroom-Leek Vegan burger with Smoked Facon and Vegan Blue Cheese. Unfortunately, the restaurant is in Oregon, and I was out of blue cheese, but I think I captured the essence of the burger!

Mushroom-Leek Burger with Smoked Tempeh Strips
Source: Burger Adapted from Ultimate Veggie Burgers; Smoked Tempeh adapted from Healthy Happy Life
Makes 6 Burgers and 4 strips of Bacon

1 small potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces SS: Mashed potato is a surprisingly great vegan 'binder' for burgers, you can also use egg I'm sure
1 portabella mushroom
12 crimini mushrooms
10 shitake mushrooms
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 leek, finely chopped, pale green and white parts only
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup cooked barley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  1. Steam or boil the potato until tender. Mash with a fork.
  2. Trim off the stem of the portabella mushroom and scoop out the gills. Chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Thinly slice the crimini and shitake mushrooms. SS: I didn't slice the crimini or shitake mushrooms, because I didn't read thoroughly, smh.
  3. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  4. Heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Cook the portabello mushrooms, crimini and shitake for 10 minutes, until the mushrooms have sweat off their moisture and it has dried up in the pan. Deglaze with the vinegar, scraping off browned bits with a wooden spoon.
  5. Transfer mushrooms to a food processor and coarsely grind. (Alternatively, chop the mushrooms finely by hand.) Combine the mushroom mixture with the potato, barley, leek, salt, pepper, and mushroom mixture in a mixing bowl. Shape into 6 patties.
  6. In an oven-safe skillet or nonstick frying pan heat oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the burgers and brown each side, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Move the pan to the preheated oven and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until firm and cooked through.

5 ounces tempeh (2/3 a standard 8 ounce pack)
1-2 Tbsp maple or agave syrup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
a dash of cayenne
1 tsp liquid smoke (opt'l) SS: I didn't use this
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp thick black pepper
for pan: 2 tsp olive oil
*if you don't have liquid smoke use these BBQ spice combos:
(garlic, pepper, paprika and onion)


  1. Very thinly slice the tempeh.
  2. As thin as you can slice it without it falling apart.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a shallow dish.
  4. Soak tempeh in marinade for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Turn saute pan on high, add 1-2 tsp olive oil. Lay the tempeh flat on skillet. One layer only. Drizzle a bit of excess marinade onto skillet-it should be sizzling a lot now.
  6. Allow to cook for 1 minute, then flip. Allow to cook for another minute on other side-or until both sides are crisp and browned.
  7. Lay cooked tempeh on parchment paper to cool. Sprinkle with black pepper and thick sea salt to taste.
  8. For a crisper tempeh bacon, do not pour excess marinade in skillet, and allow all liquid to steam off of pan while cooking.

I served the burger over a bed of spinach, and added some cheddar cheese since we were out of blue cheese. Everything was DELICIOUS!!!


Three things from my week that made me smile...

1. Jill Scott - Light Of The Sun. Jilly from Philly is representing SO HARD with this album. It's melodic, sexy, smooth, and just a great listen. I bought the actual CD - don't get this one on bootleg.

2. Stackable Bracelets by the Made With Love Project. I bought the bracelets from Anthro when they had their last sale. These bracelets are made from recycled rubber by women in West Africa. Your purchase helps support their livelihood, and also goes to support a center for homeless children. I love how conscious fashion is these days!

3. Fresh Summer Mango. Simply put - they are divine, in season, and delicious!

Have a great Fourth of July weekend! Also - there are still a couple days left to enter the giveaway if you haven't :).