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Behold, a truly awesome, delicious salad! I have taken the last month off from blogging, both for the holidays and to just relax my mind a bit, but I knew when I made this that it would be the perfect recipe to kick off the new year! The flavor dynamics of a B.L.T. are pretty flawless. I think we can all agree on that. But if you are trying to live a healthier life and tackle some resolutions, whether it be low cholesterol, paleo, vegan, high raw, or low calorie, that traditional sandwich is not going to do you any favors. But it tastes so good! That’s where this salad comes in. All the amazing flavor, none of the meat sweats. Plus I’m sure you will find plenty of other uses for the delicious portobello bacon.

I always like to make about 10 resolutions every year, that way if even 3 of them stick, I’ll have made a lot more progress than if I had just made 1 resolution. 2014 was hands down the best and busiest year of my whole life, so I think my resolution strategy worked pretty well. Last year I traveled a lot (Nicaragua, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, North Carolina, New York) I volunteered at the farm sanctuary and fostered and re-homed a bunch of stray kittens. I explored my city like never before, and worked out more that 2012 and 2013 combined!

This year I have intentions to build on last year: I want to work out even more, (more yoga and hiking!) I hope to learn a couple musical instruments. I want to travel and see more live music. I want to donate all my unnecessary stuff and feel more organized. I want to be kinder and more patient with loved ones and strangers. I want to save money and grow some plants. I want to tackle what I call: Laundry Mountain (a project that I hope to accomplish by 2017 haha) And as always, I want to make and share as much vibrant, cruelty-free, delicious food as possible! Those are just a few of the top items on my list. So far, so good! What are your intentions for the year? I hope you had some great holiday family time, and are starting 2015 with a bang!

B.L.A.T. Salad

makes 2 servings

2 portobello mushroom caps

2 tablespoon virgin coconut oil or first cold pressed olive oil or

1.5 tbs coconut sugar (or brown sugar, or 2 tbs maple syrup)

1 tsp black pepper

1 tbs mesquite salt (or bacon salt, yes it’s vegan!)

a tiny pinch of garlic powder

1/2 tsp paprika (for color)

1 head of romaine

2 roma tomatoes

1 avocado

2 tbs thinly sliced red onion

1/2 cup pesto

more black pepper

Scrape out most of the gills from the mushrooms, it’s ok to leave a bit of the darker stuff behind, it even makes it look more bacon-like when it’s cooked, just scrape away 3/4 of gills. Remove stems and cut into very thin (1/4″-1/8″) slices, like bacon.

Spread the sliced mushrooms out in a big shallow bowl and drizzle evenly with the oil, then sprinkle on the sugar and spices. Use your hands to gently rub the marinade in there. You will see the paprika turn the mushrooms into a deep rich red. If you taste it, it should be overwhelmingly salty and smoky and sweet (the flavors dull a bit when cooking so you really want to coat these slices in a greasy spice crust.)

For raw ‘bacon’: set your dehydrator to 115 degrees and lay them on a dehydrator rack, dehydrate about 8 hours.

For baked ‘bacon’ (bakon?): preheat your oven for 350 degrees and lay the mushrooms on a lightly greased pan. Bake for about 15 minutes, turning once. It’s ok if the get a tiny bit burnt around the edges, it really contributes to the authentic flavor. Allow to cool about 10 minutes, as this helps it set and get a bit crunchier.

Meanwhile, finely shred your romaine lettuce.

Dice the tomatoes and avocados and combine with the lettuce and sliced onions. Then drizzle with some pesto.

Chop the bacon and sprinkle it on top. Sprinkle some more pepper on top and serve immediately. Tossing is recommended, but it looks prettier right before you toss it.

Option: for a different dressing idea: combine 4 tbs of maple syrup, 4 tbs mustard, 2 tbs of vegan mayo (like Just Mayo or Veganaise) and 1 tbs apple cider vinegar. Or dare I say, use BOTH of these dressings together. Throw on some croutons for a truly authentic and deconstructed B.L.A.T.

Dig in!

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