Black Bean Burgers and Good Eats

Summer seems to demand that I am constantly eating good food. Let’s be honest…all the time demands that I eat good food. But, for some reason, the summer seems to call out with rooftop happy hours, live music, and extravagant dinners.

I’m not complaining.

A couple food highlights from last week include a trip to one of my favorite Minneapolis restaurants, Broder’s Pasta Bar.


This time around I had pappardelle with steak, sundried tomatoes, and asparagus:


plus a few bites of a caprese salad appetizer:


I also visited Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar and Grill in St. Louis Park in the West End. This bar/restaurant is the premiere country music joint in the Twin Cities area, with live music almost every night. Here’s a picture of the stage (the band wasn’t out yet when we got there):


The bar is in the shape of a guitar and has no drink menu but offers pretty much everything you can think of:

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Can’t go wrong with mozz sticks:


Even though there’s been a lot of good food out and about, the real food highlights of the summer have been right in my own kitchen. This week, I made up a recipe for some black bean patties, and it turned out so well!

Recipe makes 8 black bean patties – full recipe below

First, combine 3 teaspoons minced garlic and two medium carrots in a food processor:

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Add in the contents of a 25oz. can of black beans (rinse the beans in a colander first):


In a separate bowl, mix together 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon cumin, and 1 tablespoon chili powder:


Pour into the food processor with the bean mixture and process:

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Add between 1/2 – 3/4 cup of whole wheat bread crumbs (however much until the dough is formable), and then shape into 8 patties on a baking sheet:


Cook at 400° for 11 minutes on each side.

Black Bean Patties, recipe makes 8 patties
- 25oz. can black beans
- 2 medium carrots
- 3 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2-3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
Combine garlic, carrots, and beans in a food processor and combine.
Separately, combine eggs, cumin, and chili powder. Add to processor. 
Add 1/2 of bread crumbs and combine. If mixture is still too wet, gradually add up to another 1/4 cup.
Form mixture into 8 patties and place on a baking sheet. 
Cook at 400° for 11 minutes on each side.

Veggie Lasagna

Although I generally cook from a combination of websites and my own imagination, there is one cookbook author who I have a particular affinity for: Mollie Katzen.

Yes, she is one of the only Mollie’s I know (okay…’know’) who share my spelling.
Yes, I may have fantasized that the spelling of my name was inspired by her Moosewood cookbook – a classic in my house.
Yes, her recipe for mint chocolate chip cookies in Still Life With Menu is my favorite cookie recipe of all time.
So, OF COURSE YES, when I was looking for a vegetable lasagna recipe to make this week she was my first stop.

I found this version online from Mollie’s Moosewood Restaurant’s Low Fat Favorites. The lasagna turned out delicious. I made a few simple adjustments to the original recipe as posted online.*full recipe below

First, chop 2 cups zucchini, 1 cup tomato, 1 cup red bell pepper, and 4 cups mushrooms:

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Combine in a pot with about 1/2 cup water and cook until the vegetables are tender and reduce down a bit:

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Remove the vegetables (leaving any leftover water behind) and stir together with 3 tablespoons of freshly chopped basil:

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Then, cook 5 oz. spinach in about 1/4 cup water just until the spinach starts to wilt (don’t let it get too wilted – you still need to chop it!):


Remove the spinach from the pot, coursely chop, and add to a separate bowl:


Add 1 cup shredded mozzarella, 2 cups cottage cheese, and 1/4 cup shredded parmigiano cheese to the spinach and stir to combine:

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Now, it’s time for the layering! First, a layer of tomato sauce (I used canned):

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Then, a layer of noodles and veggies:


Then the cheese:


Continue in this fashion until all of the ingredients are used up and then top with some more shredded mozzarella and parmigiano:


Bake at 350° for 60 minutes, covered, until melty and delicious!

Vegetable Lasagna

– 2 cups cubed zucchini
– 1 cup chopped red pepper
– 1 cup chopped tomato
– 4 cups chopped mushrooms
– 3 tablespoons freshly chopped basil
– 5 oz. spinach
– 1 cups shredded mozzarella (plus more for finish)
– 2 cups 1% cottage cheese
– 1/4 cup shredded parmigiano (plus more for finish)
– 8 oz whole wheat lasagna noodles
– 2 cans organic no-salt added tomato sauce
– Combine zucchini, red pepper, tomato, and mushrooms in a pot with 1/2 cup water. Cook until

vegetables are tender (about 10 minutes).
– Transfer vegetables to a large bowl (leaving extra water behind), and mix with basil.
– Cook spinach with 1/4 cup water until it just starts to wilt. Coarsely chop the spinach and combine with cheeses.
– Layer tomato sauce, noodles, veggies, and cheese (in that order) until all ingredients are used. I preheated my oven to 350° when I started to layer.
– Finish with some shredded mozzarella and parmigiano and cook, covered, for 60 minutes at 350°.

The Lynn on Bryant

HOLD THE PHONES – there is a new restaurant to add to my favorite eats list. Am I the only one to be super excited about this? Nope, you are too? That’s what I thought. 🙂 Introducing…

The Lynn on Bryant

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This new-ish restaurant features a cafe seating area as well as a more formal dining room. The cafe area (where we sat) also offers a view into the kitchen – always a sign of a restaurant with high-quality food! Dishes are prepared with ingredients from local area farms and cooperatives. Plus, the restaurant owner, Peter Ireland, is from Vermont! BIG bonus points.

We started our meal with a fresh and delicious salad:

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Warm bread and butter also came to the table:

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My dinner was AMAZING. Definitely one of the best dishes I’ve had at a Twin Cities restaurant. I ordered the Bryant Burger – a vegetarian bulgar wheat burger made with vegetable puree and served with goat cheese, cabbage slaw, and chickpea fries.



Noah ordered the Lynn Burger which was a beef patty on an english muffin with bearnaise sauce and regular fries. He also raved. We ordered a (homemade) ice cream sundae for dessert. Bottom line: go here now! You won’t leave disappointed.

Italy: Part 2

My second day in Italy, we took another free walking tour that ended at the Vatican. It was a perfect opportunity to check out St. Peter’s Basilica!

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St. Peter’s is enormous! There are markings on the floor to show how many of the world’s other large churches would fit inside this one. The dome inside is the largest in the world, reaching nearly 450 ft in height!


Entrance to the basilica is free, and Noah and I did a Rick Steves’ walking tour while inside to learn all about it. Afterwards, we walked to lunch, passing through Piazza del Popolo:

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Lunch was something I have looked forward to for approximately 2.5 years. No kidding! About that long ago I went to Italy with my fabulous besty for a fun-filled 10 day tour. While we were in Rome, we ate lunch at a vegetarian restaurant that had THE MOST DELICIOUS BUFFET IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. Part of our obsession with that lunch may have been due to the fact that we were super hungry when we got there. Nonetheless, I have thought of that restaurant ever since, and it was probably the #2 thing I was looking forward to on my visit (after seeing Noah, of course).

The restaurant: Il Margutta RistorArte.


Could the lunch buffet live up to my idolized memory of it?!

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Why yes, yes it could. So good! I wish this restaurant lived in Minneapolis. Or maybe I don’t…it would probably put a dent in my wallet. And have the opposite affect on my waistline.

After lunch, we decided to check out the Rose Gardens.

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We sat on a bench in the garden for a while talking and enjoying the beautiful weather/surroundings. Look what we found – a beautiful heart!




My second day in Italy wouldn’t be complete without….


Gelato! Gelato is seriously EVERYWHERE in Italy. Every other storefront seems to sell it. So, obviously, by the end of the day, it’s pretty hard not to have some. Noah and I found a great little gelato place near the B&B where we were staying that had a wide range of flavors (listed in English as well as Italian), plus some interesting gelato pops and balls:


We went to this place several times during my visit and always tried different flavors:


Mollie: “I feel guilty eating gelato twice in one day.”Noah: “That’s okay. One time I had gelato twice in the same lunch period.”

Other Italy Posts
Italy: Part 1
Italy: Part 3
Italy: Part 4
Italy: Part 5

Piece a Pizza

okay…do this:

First, say “piece a pizza.”

Then, say “piece a pizza” really fast.

It sounds like you’re just saying ‘pizza’ twice in a row, huh? And on that note, here’s a pizza recipe for you!

I bought some almond flour at the store last week, so I decided to make an almond flour crust. I followed this recipe for the crust. I found the tip about having wet hands to spread the dough VERY helpful – the mixture was incredibly sticky.

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I cooked the crust for 13 minutes at 350° and meanwhile worked on preparing some of the toppings. I cooked up an onion in a skillet coated with non-stick spray:

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And heated some spinach in a can of tomato paste for the sauce:

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After 13 minutes in the oven, the crust looked like this:

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I topped with the sauce/spinach mixture, the onions, and a layer of baby port0bellos:

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Plus a layer of morningstar veggie ‘sausage’ patties:

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And a layer of mozzarella cheese:

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Cook for another 20 minutes at 350° until it’s nice and melty:

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I divided the pizza right away into four servings to bring to lunch during the week:

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Can’t wait!! This pizza is definitely an eat-with-a-knife-and-fork kind rather than with your hands, but it is very good and I really like the almond flour flavor. I’ll need to find other almond flour recipes to use up the bag!

Does anyone have almond flour recipe suggestions?



Lentil Cakes

While rummaging through my pantry this weekend, I came across a nearly-full bag of lentils. Hmm…interesting. I immediately went online to (great recipe finder if you have a general idea of what you want to make!), and came across a Sprouted Kitchen recipe for lentil ‘meatballs.’ As per usual, my recipe ended up being something completely different entirely – but it’s still good to remember our roots. 🙂 full recipe below

First, bring 2 cups lentils and 3 cups water to a boil on the stove:

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Once boiling, cover and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed – approximately 20-30 minutes. After the lentils are cooked, transfer to a food processor and pulverize to mush:


Meanwhile, get out the other ingredients:

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Transfer the lentil mixture to a bowl and add beaten eggs, ricotta, garlic, basil, and thyme. Stir to combine:


Stir in rolled oats:


Use a spoon to place small ‘cakes’ onto a baking tray:


Cook for 20 minutes at 400°, flip once in the middle.

Lentil Cakes

makes 22 small cakes
- 2 cups lentils
- 3 eggs
- 1 heaping cup reduced-fat ricotta
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 1 scant teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 cup rolled oats
Prepare lentils on the stove top (I cooked 2 cups lentils in 
3 cups water for approx. 30 minutes).
Pulse cooked lentils in a food processor until mushy.
Transfer lentil mush to a mixing bowl and stir in beaten eggs, 
ricotta, thyme, basil, and garlic.
One combined, stir in oats.
Drop with a spoon onto lightly greased baking trays.
Cook for 20 minutes at 400°, flipping once in the middle.

I suppose that if you wanted larger ‘cakes’ (or to just make one big loaf), you could do that, but you would likely need to adjust the cooking time.

Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup

Do you ever go to the bulk bin at your grocery store and buy something random? I do. Most recently, I bought some yellow split peas. Sure, they sound good in theory, but what am I going to with yellow split peas. Luckily, my favorite recipe-finding app had the answer: Yellow Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup. I followed the original recipe fairly closely (excepting cutting it in half – more or less – and not adding any pumpkin seeds).

The recipe required a bit of time (cooks for an hour), but the ingredient list is short and preparation is very simple. All you need is a heaping cup of yellow split peas, one chopped sweet potato, and one chopped onion:

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Add the onion to a pot with 1/2 cup of water and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of fresh ginger and cook for another minute. Then, add 4 cups of water, the sweet potato, and yellow split peas.


Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for one hour. After an hour, use an immersion blender to puree soup:


All blended!


To go with the soup, I prepared some pesto cheesy bread. For two servings: split two english muffins, smear with pesto, and top each half muffin with 1/2 of a mini Babybel cheese.


Place on a baking pan and cook under the broiler (set to high) until cheese has melted – approximately 4 minutes.


Why does the melted cheese look like marshmallows?!

For an extra veggie punch, I served the soup over spinach:


This was good.

Stair Stepper and Magazines

Until about 6 months ago, I had never stepped foot on one of these guys:

stair stepper[source]

I tried one for the first time last spring since I was taking some time off of running due to injury, and I read in a magazine that stair steppers were the best gym machine – after the treadmill – to get you working really hard. The first time I tried it, I was struggling just to get to 10 minutes. Isn’t it crazy how different types of exercise work your body in such different ways? I could run a marathon but was dying after 10 minutes on a stair stepper – why is that?!

Given my competitive personality, a new challenge was born! The stair stepper has now become one of my favorite gym machines. We are definitely in <3. How do I love thee, stair stepper? Let me count the ways:

1. You make me super sweaty.
2. You make my heart race.
3. You make my legs feel strong.
4. You let me read when we’re together.

This is what I read on the stair stepper today:


Yes, I am reading intellectual magazines at the gym. #NerdyGirlOnStairStepper

Actually, there’s something of more substance to this…I used to always read magazines in the vein of Fitness, Shape, and Women’s Health while crosstraining. As I came towards the end of my eating disorder recovery, I began to notice some disturbing attributes about these types of magazines. Examples of said disturbing attributes: focus on weight loss, idealizing of ‘thin’ rather than healthy, constant talk about counting calories, implying that women who are thinner are automatically happier, more desirable, and better. I decided that reading these magazines was only encouraging the pattern of restrictive eating and heavy exercising that I was trying to overcome. Although I will still read these types of publications once in a while (let’s face it, shallow literature is fun every once in a while), I intentionally don’t subscribe or buy them myself.

For anyone struggling with body image, dieting, or over-exercising issues, I would recommend stepping back from the weight loss magazines. They are not doing you any favors, trust me. Plus, you don’t have to give up fun monthly reading! Here are the magazines I am currently subscribed to:

  • Runner’s World: This magazine is full of great running and fitness tips – without the focus on weight loss. The articles are well written and, often, inspiring. I’ve also learned lots of useful injury-prevention exercises.
  • Women’s Day: This magazine allows me to continue reading about women’s issues, beauty products, cooking, and exercise, but without an obsessive focus on weight and appearance. I think this is an extremely empowering and healthy magazine for women to read. Bonus: there’s always an article about some awesome pet saving their owner. I find these stories simultaneously hilarious and incredible.
  • Time: I’ve got to get my news somehow! Since I don’t listen to the radio much and only download my news podcasts sporadically (at best), Time tells me most of what I know about the world. Don’t judge me. I like the variety of substance and the fact that most articles are short enough to read fairly quickly. Joel Stein‘s comedic column at the end of each issue is always a highlight.

Anyway…back to the stair stepper from my magazine tangent! I’ve improved to the point where I can do 25 minutes and still feel really good. I suspect I could increase my time, but more than 25 mins seems a bit long to be on the machine – I would rather switch to something else for variety. Tonight I was short on time, so I could only squeeze in 20 minutes before heading to basketball.

Before all this exercise, I had some dinner:


That’s a kidney bean patty on an english muffin with dijon mustard and spinach – veggies on the side. This was YUMMY! After I got back from basketball, I had some homemade hot-cocoa-for-one, cinnamon style.


In other news, my roommate is currently in the monster pit at the Lady Gaga concert. Just wanted to throw that out there. 🙂

Kidney Bean Patties

You really can’t go wrong with a veggie patty for lunch or dinner. They’re yummy, nutritious, high in protein, and easy to grab in a pinch if you make a big batch at the beginning of the week. I decided to make some kidney bean patties for the week since I had a big can of – you guessed it – kidney beans. (full recipe below)

The necessary ingredients: kindey beans (I had a 25oz. can, but two 15oz. cans would work), oats, whole wheat flour, ground cayenne, oregano, and an egg.


Plus one chopped onion and garlic:


Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined but still textured:


Form the mixture into 6 patties (I used a spatula to do this since the mixture was quite sticky) and bake at 425° for 15 minutes on each side.


These patties held together really well, and I enjoyed the little kick provided by the cayenne. I served with couscous, spinach, and salsa, but they would also go great on a bun as a burger substitute.

Kidney Bean Patties
serves 6
- 25oz. kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1/2 cup oats
- 2 tbsp. whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. cayenne
- 1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 425°

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until combined but still textured. 
Use a spatula or large spoon to form mixture into 6 patties on a baking tray. 
Bake for 15 minutes on each side.