Some weeks I’m good about meal planning. Others, not so much. During those weeks when I haven’t planned out what we’re going to have for dinner each night, I inevitably find myself staring into the refrigerator, trying to come up with a wholesome, balanced meal with whatever food we have left. This was me last night. I’m sure others out there can relate! It can be tempting to order out in situations like this, and when we lived in NYC, we often did (more than I’d like to admit!), but now that we’re living in the suburbs and adhering to a tighter budget, I’m trying to cook at home the majority of the time. Fortunately, it’s usually not very difficult to piece a meal together since I keep lots of veggies and whole grains on hand at all times. Sometimes it just takes a little creativity! And it’s always worth it. Continue reading “Veggie Fajita Bowl (Vegan & Gluten Free)”
I don’t know about you but I’ve been feeling majorly uninspired lately. This time of year tends to have that effect on me. After all the excitement of the holidays, the cold and dreary weather starts to get really old and all I long for is warmth and sun. At least the days are getting longer now and we’re starting to get spurts of warm weather. Today it’s going to be over 60 degrees and it’s forecasted to be above 50 most of the week, so there’s light at the end of the tunnel!
On a different note, today I thought I’d share what I’m currently loving from Costco. I always find it helpful when others share what they like to buy from various stores because sometimes I discover new favorite products that way, so I hope this is equally helpful! It would be great if we could do all our shopping at a single place, but different stores carry different products that suit our needs, so I find it’s worth it to make the trip to multiple stores. We usually hit up Costco about once a month to stock up on our mainstays. Before joining Costco, I was skeptical that they would have enough of the healthy, minimally-processed products I like to buy, but I was pleasantly surprised to see just how much they have to offer. So, without further ado, here’s what I’m loving from Costco right now! Continue reading “Current Costco Favorites”
Good morning and happy Valentine’s Day! Are you doing anything special? Truthfully I’ve never been big on Valentine’s Day and I don’t have any plans to celebrate this year, but in honor of the day, I’m sharing a recipe for a yummy heart-healthy smoothie. A smoothie is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Valentine’s Day, but there’s really no better way to show yourself or your family a little love than by making something delicious and nutritious that does the body good. Am I right? Continue reading “Heart-Healthy Raspberry Chia Smoothie (Vegan & Gluten Free)”
So somehow it’s Friday again already. I’m not complaining because it’s my favorite day of the week (well maybe after Saturday). I’m just wondering where the days went! This week seemed to go by in a blur for some reason. Anyone else?
Anyway, I’m popping in today to share one of my favorite new-to-me recipes, courtesy of my mother-in-law, Carol. When Carol came to visit us shortly after we had Jackson (back in 2016), she made a pasta dish for dinner one night that completely knocked my socks off. It was essentially just pasta tossed with sauteed vegetables that were seasoned with olive oil, spices, and lemon juice. If it sounds super basic, that’s because it is, but don’t let that fool you! The flavor is fantastic. I was honestly surprised at how much I liked it because I’m typically much more of a tomato sauce person when it comes to pasta and never choose to order an olive oil-based dish when I go to restaurants. I liked it so much, though, that I’ve now added the recipe to my shortlist of standbys, and I request it every time Carol comes to stay with us! Continue reading “Lentil Pasta Primavera (Vegan & Gluten Free)”
I’ve been dealing with an annoying sinus infection for the past few days (oh the joys of pregnancy!) and, in addition to lots of tea and soup, I’ve been craving baked goods like crazy. Go figure. I had a few bananas that were on their last leg, so I decided to whip up some fresh muffins. To satisfy my desire for comfort food, I wanted to try a version that includes peanut butter. Peanut butter is one of my all-time favorite foods, so anything with peanut butter as a main ingredient is guaranteed to be a treat! Continue reading “Peanut Butter Banana Oat Muffins (Gluten & Dairy Free)”
It’s pizza Friday over here in our house, my fave day of the week! Anyone else share this tradition? It’s something I just recently started up because I’ve been craving pizza like crazy during my pregnancy, but I think it may just stick around. There was a time when I avoided pizza like the plague, but I love it so much and life’s too short, so it’s back in my life in regular rotation again. I choose to mostly make it myself now though because, for one, it’s actually pretty simple, and two, I like to have control over the ingredients that go into it. Otherwise I wind up feeling stuffed, bloated, and lethargic. Continue reading “Mushroom, Kale, & White Bean Pizza (Vegan)”
There are certain foods that I can’t ever seem to buy enough of. Hummus is one of them. We go through SO much hummus at my house and we always find ourselves running out before our next grocery run. I just find it to be so versatile. It’s great with veggies and crackers of course, but I also love it on a baked potato, on toast, as a sandwich spread–the list is endless! I could just load up on more at the store so that it lasts longer, but I’m trying really hard to stick to a specific grocery budget each week, and I don’t want to adjust it just to accommodate our apparent hummus obsession! I had a bad experience attempting to make hummus many years ago, and never really tried again since then…until this past weekend. I figured I may as well give it a shot because making my own is not only more economical, but also healthier. I’m pleased to report that I think this version is a winner! Continue reading “Smokey Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus (Vegan, No Oil)”
When it’s freezing out and I’m not in the mood for soup, I often turn to a warm and filling bowl of some sort for nourishment. With grain or Buddha Bowls or whatever you want to call them, there are so many options you can throw together, and pretty much anything goes. They’re the perfect combo of easy, healthy, and delicious. You really can’t go wrong!
This version I threw together includes quinoa as the base, topped with chickpeas, garlic-seasoned cruciferous veggies, and a little bit of almond parsley pesto. I mainly chose this combination because I had the ingredients on hand and needed to use them, but I also think they go very nicely together, not to mention that they pack a serious nutritional punch!
The key to this bowl is to roast the veggies to ensure the best flavor and crunch. Roasting vegetables is almost always my preferred way to cook them; it really does make such a difference in how they taste. There’s nothing I love more than a crispy batch of Brussels sprouts fresh out of the oven! Anyone else with me? Growing up I never really ate them but now I am obsessed and I’m making up for lost time! Brussels sprouts, where have you been all my life?!
As for the pesto, it was a total impulse decision at the end and I definitely don’t think it’s necessary for the dish (I had parsley that I needed to use up), but I think it takes the flavor up a notch. Since I hadn’t planned on making any kind of pesto in advance, I had to use what I had available, and that’s why the ingredients may seem a bit random. Although it was a total shot in the dark, I think the parsley-garlic-lemon combo works. If that’s not your cup of tea though, you can skip the pesto and still enjoy a delicious and satisfying bowl.
I plan on experimenting with many more plant-based bowl combinations this winter, and I’ll be sure to post whatever I love. I’m always looking for inspiration, so if you have any favorite bowl-based meals, do share!
For the bowls
- 2 cups dry quinoa
- 8 cups broccoli florets
- 6 cups Brussels sprouts
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- salt & pepper to taste
For the almond parsley pesto
- 1/4 cup raw almonds
- 1 cup parsley
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tsp nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 tsp water
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
For the bowls
- Preheat the oven to 415 degrees and line two baking sheets with tin foil.
- Chop the stems off the broccoli so that you’re left with florets. Make sure that the florets are about equal in size so that they cook evenly. Put the broccoli florets in a mixing bowl and add 1 tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp of garlic powder, and ¼ tsp onion powder. Mix with your hands until all the florets are coated.
- Spread the broccoli florets out in a single layer on one of the baking sheets and set aside.
- Chop the Brussels sprouts into halves or even thirds or quarters if they are very large. As with the broccoli, you want the sprouts to be relatively equal in size.
Add the sprouts to a mixing bowl and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Mix with your hands until all the sprouts are coated.
- Spread the Brussels sprouts out in a single layer on the second baking sheet.
- Place both baking sheets in the oven and roast for about 25-30 minutes, until the veggies are tender but crisp. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- While the veggies are roasting, cook the quinoa. Add 4 cups of water to a pot along with 2 cups of dry quinoa (check the package to see if it needs to be rinsed first). Bring water to a boil and then cover the pot and reduce the temperature to low, letting the quinoa cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the water is fully absorbed.
For the almond parsley pesto
- Add almonds to a food processor and pulse until ground
- Add the lemon juice, water and olive oil, and pulse again until mixed.
- Add the parsley, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and salt, and pulse until evenly combined.
Today I’m excited to share an easy plant-based meal that’s as healthy as it is delicious. Let me start off by saying that I am in no way against traditional pasta. While it has been demonized and many people won’t touch it with a ten foot pole, I think pasta can actually make for a very nutritious meal, and I eat it often. However, there’s no denying that pasta is dense and there are times when I want something a little lighter, especially after the holidays. Enter spaghetti squash! With a mild flavor and pleasant texture, it’s the perfect canvas for a savory tomato sauce. Although it’s very low in calories (under 50 calories per cup), I find spaghetti squash to be very satisfying, particularly in the the cold winter months.
If you’re thinking that spaghetti squash is a pain to prep, I get it (it used to intimidate me and I never bought it), but I assure you it’s easy! You have three options for cooking it: One is to cut the squash in half and bake it, two is to bake the squash whole, and three is to microwave it. Obviously the easiest route is to throw it in the microwave, but I think it’s worth the additional time and effort to bake it in the oven. In terms of baking it whole vs. cut, if you have a suitable knife, I recommend cutting it in half. For a long time I never bothered and always baked it whole, but after some researching, I learned that cutting the squash allows it to caramelize a bit and results in a more “al dente” texture, whereas baking it whole essentially steams it and leaves you with a softer, wetter texture. Either way works just fine with a sauce, but I prefer firmer “noodles.” It also takes less time to cook when cut in half. The one caveat is that you need a very good, large knife, otherwise cutting through the squash will be nearly impossible. I have been there and it wasn’t pretty!
When it comes to tomato sauce, I love adding mushrooms and lentils for a hearty, healthy, and filling combo. Mushrooms are meaty and a good source of antioxidants, and lentils–packed with protein, fiber, and a range of vitamins and minerals–are a nutritional all-star. You could use dry lentils in this recipe and cook them first, but I’m all about easy, so I go with organic canned. Aside from chopping the veggies, there’s not much more to this sauce! Just throw everything in a pan and let it cook. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
So tell me, are you a fan of spaghetti squash? What are some of your favorite spaghetti squash recipes to make at home?
- 1 large spaghetti squash
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 large onion
- 1 10-oz package cremini (aka baby bella) mushrooms
- 1 25.5-oz jar of basic tomato sauce (I used Muir Glen’s organic tomato basil)
- 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 14-oz can lentils
- 1 tsp basil
- 1/2 tsp oregano
For the squash
- Preheat oven to 425
- Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray it with a bit of olive oil.
- If baking the squash whole, pierce the skin in several places and place it on the baking sheet. Bake for about 45-60 minutes, until a knife easily cuts through the skin and flesh. If the squash is very large, it may take longer to cook. Let the squash cool for a few minutes and then cut it in half lengthwise. Remove all the seeds and pulp. Use a fork to pull out spaghetti-like strands of squash.
- If baking the squash cut, use a large, sharp knife to cut the squash in half lengthwise. If you make shallow cuts along the area you want to cut, the knife should go in a little easier. Scoop out the seeds and pulp. Rub a little olive oil onto each of the squash halves and then place them cut-side-down on the tin foil.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until a knife easily cuts through the skin and flesh. If the squash is very large, it may take longer to cook. This is optional, but I like to turn the squash halves over and let them bake facing up for a few minutes, to crisp up the flesh a little more. Let the squash cool for a few minutes. Use a fork to pull out spaghetti-like strands of squash.
For the sauce
- Lightly coat a saucepan with olive oil
- Chop the garlic and onion and add to the pan, cooking on medium-low for about five minutes, stirring occasionally
- Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan and stir. Let the vegetables cook for another few minutes.
- Add the jar of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, lentils, and spices, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
- Top spaghetti squash with sauce.
For some reason I never think to make stuffed peppers, even though they’re one of the easiest and most versatile things to make on the planet. But inspiration struck on Sunday. I had two cored out peppers left over from a crudités platter I bought on Saturday and it was pretty obvious what I should do with them. Based on the ingredients I had lying around, I decided to do a Mexican version with quinoa as the base. A little corn and onion, some black beans, tomatoes, and fresh cilantro, and voila! A delicious and spontaneous meal that was on the table in about 90 minutes.
You can stuff peppers with just about anything you want. Rice is popular, as is ground meat, but I personally love the texture of quinoa and think it works great in this recipe. And you can’t get any easier or healthier than canned beans (just make sure you get beans without salt or any other junk). I chose to use black beans in keeping with the Mexican food theme but you could use any kind of bean you like or even a mixture of beans. Anything goes! If you’re looking for a simple and quick recipe that’s big on flavor, give these stuffed peppers a try.
Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
- 4-5 large bell peppers
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 15 oz can black beans
- 1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
- ⅓ cup chopped red onion
- Juice of half a lime
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- A few bunches of fresh cilantro
- Wash peppers, cut their tops off, and discard the seeds. Place peppers on a 13×9 baking dish and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Add quinoa to two cups of water in a pot and bring water to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat to low and cover. Let cook for about 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Add frozen corn to hot quinoa and stir.
- Transfer quinoa and corn mixture to a mixing bowl.
- Rinse and drain black beans and add to quinoa and corn mixture.
- Add the stewed tomatoes with juices. Slice large tomato chunks into smaller pieces.
- Add red onion, lime juice, and all the spices and cilantro. Mix well.
- Lightly brush outsides of peppers with olive oil and spoon quinoa mixture into each pepper shell until mostly full.
- Bake for about 50 minutes to an hour, until peppers are tender.
Note: I’d add avocado to these as a topper but didn’t have any on hand when I made this batch. Although definitely not a necessity, I think avocado would take these peppers to the next level!