tuscan roasted tomatoes with sesame parmesan (vegan, dairy free, nut free, gluten free)

As much as I love sharing the fun, creative recipes (like these matcha coconut lime energy bites or these weeknight tacos), I also love giving equal play to recipes that are meant for the every day or moments when you’re not sure what to throw together. Like these tuscan roasted tomatoes.

I came up with these lovelies one Sunday evening when we were going to have a mishmash of leftovers and family coming over at the last minute. Throwing together a medley of vegetables prepared in a number of ways is still one of my favorite things to do…it speaks of abundance and simplicity and letting my pickier (ahem) eaters load up on the veggies they prefer over the ones they don’t.

This is a great way to use up an abundance of tomatoes from your hardworking garden and takes only minutes to prep before sliding in the oven. With a hearty slice of toasted bread, you also could serve these as an appetizer and leftovers could easily be cooked down into a pasta sauce. The extra sesame parmesan can be saved for pasta or even soup recipes, like this one.

 

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Tuscan Roasted Tomatoes with Sesame Seed Parmesan
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

Pulling together simple, fresh flavors with the transition of summer to fall in mind, these Tuscan Roasted Tomatoes come together easily as a casual side dish or hearty appetizer.

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • fresh tomatoes
  • roasted red pepper hummus
  • fresh basil, diced
  • salt & pepper
  • sesame seed parmesan
  • whole grain, hearty bread (optional)
For the sesame seed parmesan
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 4 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2-1 tsp olive oil
Instructions
  1. Rinse tomatoes and slice into rounds that are between 1/4" and 1/2" thick. Generally, plan around 1 tomato per person. Place tomato rounds onto a baking sheet. Add a generous spoonful of hummus to each tomato slice and spread. Place in a 350 degree F oven for about 15-20 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, add all sesame Parmesan ingredients to a food process or high speed blender and blend until the sesame seeds are crumbly and resemble Parmesan cheese.

  3. When the tomatoes are done, remove from oven and top with basil and a few sprinkles of sesame parmesan. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES

  • If serving as an appetizer, cut bread into thick slices (about 1" thick), place on a baking sheet and lightly toast in the same oven as the tomatoes. Keep an eye on it though so it doesn't burn! Remove from oven when toasted and then top with a roasted tomato, the basil, sesame parmesan and salt and pepper if desired.

 

 

 

  •  My go-to brand of hummus (both original and roasted red pepper) is Sabra.
  • Click here for my favorite mini food processor
  • I get both my nutritional yeast and sesame seeds in bulk at Whole Foods, but you also can find them here and here.

 

game, set, matcha coconut lime energy bites (vegan, no added sugar, gluten free, paleo)

As we’re learning, life in high school is busy…especially when you throw in sports. It usually makes for a long day and a late arrival home.

To brighten up my daughter’s long day and making snacking on the run easier, I whipped up these matcha coconut lime energy bites – a nod to her chosen sport this season and because matcha naturally boosts energy. It also helps with mental alertness, has antioxidant powers (hello bright green powder!), boosts the immune system and cardiovascular health and can fight infections – which gives it an A+ in my books.

 

 

This was my first time trying matcha after hearing of it several years ago on Kathy Patalsky’s blog, Healthy Happy Life. Yep, even thought I’m a tea drinker, it took me this long to try it since it’s more expensive than the tea I normally buy, but happily, I found that a little goes a looong way. And I’m excited to experiment and see what this does for my own energy.

If you’ve never tried matcha, it tastes like green tea because it is, um, green tea, but carries greater health benefits. If you want to learn more about its history, how it’s grown and it’s properties, click here.

Making these game, set, matcha energy bites is as easy as 1-2-3. Just thoroughly mix the ingredients in a food processor, form into bite-sized balls and coat in unsweetened shredded coconut since the batter is very sticky. You could coat them in matcha powder as I did here, but that amount of undiluted matcha powder carries a bitter overtone. So unless you don’t mind a little bitter with you no-added-sugar sweet, I’d stick with the unsweetened coconut.

Speaking of sweet…as with most of my recipes, these energy bites do not have any energy-sapping, immune suppressing added sugar! They also work for gluten-free and paleo diets since they are free from grains.

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Game, Set, Matcha Coconut Lime Energy Bites
Prep Time
15 mins
 

These coconut lime energy bites carry the subtle flavor of green tea and are perfect for hectic days when you're on the go and need a natural boost of energy.

Course: Snack
Servings: 9 energy bites
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 6 medjool dates
  • 3 T fresh lime juice
  • 1.5 tsp matcha powder
  • 1 scoop 100% pure stevia powder
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (plus more for coating)
  • 2 pinches salt
Instructions
  1. Pit the dates, then put all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender and mix until thoroughly combined and the cashews have mostly been chopped into very fine pieces. Since the mixture is very sticky, keep your hands slightly wet with water to form the bite-size balls. Place additional coconut in a plastic bag, drop in each energy bite one at a time and shake to coat. For best results, refrigerate for at least one hour before eating.

    Can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for several days.

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES

It's best to buy Medjool dates with the pits still in them as they tend to stay juicer than when the pits are removed. Make sure you are using 100% PURE stevia - read the ingredients closely! - as most stevia powders have added sweeteners and/or artificial ingredients.

 

 

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • Since this was my first time trying matcha, I purchased a small amount from Whole Foods. But you can find it cheaper here and in a larger quantity
  • Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.
  • Pure stevia: It’s critical to use 100% pure stevia with no additives or fillers. I get mine at Trader Joe’s, but try the NOW BetterStevia™ Organic Zero Calorie Powdered Sweetener — 1 oz brand here. Even though it appears pricey, a little goes a looong way, and my container lasted me for several years! This link will save you $5 on your order…comment or message me if you want to know which products I stock up on to get the free shipping

minestrone soup with sesame parmesan (vegan, dairy free, soy free)

(This post contains affiliate links which helps fund this blog but at no cost to you.)

With fall officially peeking around the corner and an early chill in the air – at least around here – I’m starting to crave  warm, comforting foods. Especially big pots of them for plenty of leftovers which matches with our busier back-to-school schedule. Like this minestrone soup.

I first came across this minestrone soup recipe in this cook book while I was trying to find more veggie-based recipes but before I went all in with a plant-based diet. It’s been a favorite of mine ever since.

One of the things I love about it is the subtle addition of zucchini. This is key when your garden produces monster-sized ones because you forgot to pick it (ahem). And when you are more of a zucchini liker than zucchini lovers. And in case you didn’t catch it, here’s a zucchini recipe I shared last week. The other thing I love is the use of rosemary – an herb I thought was a strange addition at first, but it definitely makes this soup sing.

 

I’ll warn you that although this minestrone soup is more labor intensive than many of my other soup recipes (like this one and this one), it’s completely worth it because of the quantity it makes and how well it freezes. If you have children who are able to handle a knife, have them help you with the chopping. Even a young child could help break the frozen green beans or help with the lettuce spinner for the spinach.

The original recipe called for using parmesan cheese. Since this wouldn’t fly for a vegan recipe, I whipped up some sesame seed parmesan which can be sprinkled on or stirred in (which also happens to boost the calcium and protein as well!). For those of you watching your fat intake (especially due to heart disease), you’ll be happy to know the soup is made without any oil and you can skip adding the parmesan altogether.

 

 

 

This soup tastes even better the second day because the flavors are able to develop. If it works, plan ahead and make it the day before you actually plan to eat it!

 

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Minestrone Soup with Sesame Seed Parmesan
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
1 hrs 30 mins
 

This soup is chock full of vegetables and herbs and tastes even better the second day after it's been made. The sesame seed parm is a nod to the traditional recipe and boosts the calcium and plant-protein and is just plain fun to sprinkle on.

Course: Main Course, Soup
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
For the soup
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped carrots
  • 4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups finely diced tomatoes (or 1-14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4.5 cups water
  • 2 small zucchini, shredded
  • 1 cup green beans in 1" lengths
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped spinach
  • 2 cups beans (white or kidney)
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp crumbled rosemary
  • freshly ground pepper
For the sesame parm
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 4 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
Instructions
For the soup:
  1. Add the onion and garlic along with 1" water to a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Cook until the onion is translucent, then add in the carrots, celery and tomatoes. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Add all remaining soup ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45-minutes to 1 hour or until the potatoes are tender. Adjust seasonings as needed.

For the sesame parm:
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or high speed blender and mix until thoroughly combined and the sesame seeds are crumbly and look like parmesan cheese. Can be stored in an air-tight jar in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

Recipe Notes

Recipe Notes:

I prefer this soup with the vegetables (especially the tomatoes and zucchini) finely chopped - or in the case of the zucchini, shredded. This especially helps when serving it to children who tend to be suspicious of large chunks of vegetables - or adults who feel the same way. 😉

 

 

 

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  •  Click here for my favorite mini food processor
  • I get both my nutritional yeast and sesame seeds in bulk at Whole Foods, but you also can find them here and here.

 

 

weeknight tacos with tres taco “meat” (vegan, soy free, gluten free, no added sugar)

Sure it’s not Tuesday, but tacos are too good to have only one day a week dedicated to them, right?! Last week, I was pretty excited about having them for lunch leftovers two days in a row and love this new tres taco meat I whipped up featuring walnuts, chickpeas and lentils. It’s a tres-fecta of plant-based protein.

In keeping with weeknights, which typically are busy for many of us, this recipe is simple and requires quick heating or none at all in case you prepare the ingredients ahead of time.

Let me walk you through this recipe with that busy schedule in mind…

  • The night before, put the walnuts and water in a bowl, cover and place in the fridge.
  • Also, go ahead and cook those lentils (and while they’re cooking, you can tidy up from dinner, put away some laundry, help your kids with homework, read to them or just put up your feet for a well-deserved rest)
  • If you plan on serving guacamole, you’ll want to mix up it up just before you serve it.
  • The morning of…chop up some lettuce, tomatoes and any other fresh topping that won’t spoil and store in separate airtight bags or containers. Have your salsa chilling in the fridge too and set out your spices for the tres taco “meat.”
  • Dinnertime prep…prepare the tres taco meat according to the directions. If you want the taco meat warmed, add it to a saucepan with a some salsa and gently warm it over medium-high heat which takes less than 5 minutes. If your children are old enough, they can help set out the toppings while you do this!
  • If you’re making the guac…pull out the bowl with some the prepared ingredients, add the lime juice and then the avocado and mash away.

There you go. Dinner reading in one, two, tres!

 

Before we get to the recipe, I have a little something extra for you… 

How would you like my favorite go-to guacamole recipe, and top three guac-tips which include cutting the fat but not the flavor, how to make it easier to prep on busy weeknights PLUS the secret ingredient I like to pair it with delivered right to your inbox? You would! Super! Just click this link to receive your FREE printable guacamole recipe + tip sheet.

 

 

 

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weeknight tacos with tres taco "meat"
Prep Time
6 hr
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
7 hr
 

This plant-protein packed taco "meat." featuring lentils, chickpeas and walnuts is simple to prepare and even with a little extra prep step. The lentils and chickpeas also keep it budget friendly. When combined with crisp organic taco shells and a few simple topping, weeknight dinners come together in one, two, tres!

Course: Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 8 tacos
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
For the Tres Taco Meat
  • 3/4 cups walnuts, soaked 6 hours or overnight
  • 1/3 cup uncooked lentils
  • 2/3 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp chiii powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup salsa or 1 medium tomato
For the toppings (suggested ingredients)
  • lettuce, chopped fine
  • tomatoes, diced fine
  • sugar free salsa*
  • jalapeno peppers
  • guacamole
Instructions
  1. Put the walnuts in a bowl with enough water to cover them completely and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours to overnight.

  2. Either the night before or at least 1 one before you want to make your taco meat, cook the lentils according to package directions.

  3. In the meantime, prepare the other taco toppings. I recommend making the guacamole just before you're ready to eat it to minimize the oxidation.

  4. When you're ready to make the taco meat, drain the walnuts and rinse, then add to a food processor along with the remaining taco meat ingredients. If you want to warm the taco meat, add to a medium saucepan along with some salsa and heat over medium-high for about 5 minutes.

  5. Assemble and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

*I usually buy Tostitos or Old El Paso salsa, but you can buy any kind that is free of sugar (read the ingredients to be sure!)

*I love Jeff's Natural's jalapeno peppers because they're free of some of the additives and dyes typically found in most prepared jalapeno pepper brands.

(contains affiliate links which help fund this blog at no cost to you 🙂 )

  •  Click here for my favorite food processor
  • I usually buy my taco shells at Trader Joe’s because they are organic which you can get online here!
  • I love Jeff’s Natural’s jalepeno peppers which are free from the usual additives and dyes found on store shelves. I find mine at Whole Foods Market, but you also can get them here.

 

snack to school week: imperfect fruit cups

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I debated about sharing this recipe with you because, well, it didn’t go exactly according to plan.

It was the first time I was trying out the vegan alternative to gelatin and because our last few weeks were crazy busy, I didn’t leave time to practice with it before wanting to share the recipe with you. It certainly tastes fine, but it didn’t hold up the way I had hoped. In fact, a few of them fell apart.

However, I think there’s a lesson in this which is why I’m sharing the recipe anyway. Because as moms with access to an overwhelming number of ideas beautifully styled, captured and shared online, we can feel like our own efforts are not good enough when they turn out less-than-perfect. Which makes us feel less than.

And I think this message gets filtered down to our children.

This is why I’m sharing my less-than-perfect first attempt with this recipe (and what I might try next time) because I want to live believing that my attempts to delight and surprise my children are good enough even when they don’t look that way on the surface.

 

Delighting and surprising my children is exactly what I had in mind when I decided to try the vegan version of “jello” fruit cups since it’s a rare treat around here. Vegan “jello” uses agar agar (which comes from seaweed) instead of the animal-based gelatin typically found on store shelves. If you want to learn more about how animal-based gelatin is made, here’s the low down from organicauthority.com.

 

 

The other advantage of making your own “jello” fruit cups is the ability to control the sugar content by using 100% fruit juice. For this recipe, I chose a cranberry, raspberry, blackberry blend.

 

I think there were a few contributing factors to these falling apart once I removed them from the muffin tin:

  1. I used frozen raspberries instead of fresh which increased the water content. Therefore, I recommend using fresh fruit for these.
  2. I probably needed more agar agar than recommended because I used berries (which affects the geling abilities) and I wanted these to pop out of a muffin tin instead of staying in a dish.
  3. It took me a few attempts to figure out how to free them from the tin without destroying them, and go figure, it was gravity that came to the rescue.

 

Print
imperfect fruit cups
Prep Time
5 hr
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
5 hr 10 mins
 

These "imperfect" vegan fruit cups subtract added sugar and animal-based gelatin and multiply fun.

Course: Snack
Servings: 15
Author: Andrea Anderson
Ingredients
  • 4 cups 100% fruit juice of your choice
  • 4-6 tbsp agar agar
  • 1/2 cup fresh fruit (apple, pear, banana, berries, oranges, kiwi)
Instructions
  1. Grease a muffin tin very well with coconut oil. Set aside.

  2. Pour the fruit juice into a large saucepan and sprinkle in the agar agar*. If you plan to add berries, oranges or kiwi, you will need to use 6 T of agar agar. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

  3. Using a ladle, carefully pour the liquid into each muffin cup, leaving enough room to add the fruit without the liquid spilling outside the cups.

  4. Add a few pieces of fruit to each cup, then place muffin tin on a jelly roll pan (to catch any spills), and put in the refrigerator for several hours or until set.

  5. To remove fruit cups from the tin, carefully run a knife around the sides of each portion to loosen. Then, over the jelly roll pan, invert the muffin tin upside down at about a 30 degree angle. One by one, run the knife around the side of each fruit cup. Gravity to help the cup to slide out of the tin and onto the pan. You'll want to rotate the muffin tin as you do this so that the fruit cups you are loosening are closest to the jelly roll tin. Use a spatula to scoop up each fruit cup and carefully place in a storage container. If stacking them in one container, separate each layer with a piece of parchment paper. Store in the fridge.

Recipe Notes

*I used agar agar flakes. You may need to adjust the quantity if using agar agar powder or bars - simply follow those package directions. Not all fruits are compatible with agar agar. To learn more about this, visit this link.

 

(contains affiliate link which helps fund this website but at no cost to you)

  • I found my package of agar agar flakes at Whole Foods Market in the Asian food section. Natural food and Asian grocery stores also may carry it, or you can find the flakes here and the powder here.

date caramel (vegan, gluten free, no added sugar)

One of the hardest things I ever did was take on a three-month sugar detox several years ago. It took me more than a year to work up the courage to see it through, but once I finished it, I knew I never wanted to go back to my sugar-seeking ways.

Except the thought of not enjoying desserts again, especially for special occasions, was a bit of downer. Thankfully, I’ve learned that kicking the added sugar habit does not mean you can never treat yo’self.

In fact, it’s the opposite with recipes like this date caramel!

This no-added sugar alternative to traditional caramel sauce has the extra benefit of plant-protein (from the almonds) and copper, magnesium, manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin found in the dates. So rich and creamy but without the empty calories and energy rush…or crash. I could happily eat an entire jar in one sitting.

The key to this recipe is buying Medjool dates with the pits still in them (you’ll remove the pits before blending, of course). You may need to adjust the salt content depending on whether you’re using salted or unsalted almond butter and your personal preference (I used salted).

 

(contains affiliate links)

  • Click here for my favorite food processor
  • I usually buy my almond butter from Trader Joe’s, but click here for another option.
  • Happily, Aldi has been carrying Medjool dates lately, but you can also find them here.

 

 

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Date Caramel
Prep Time
10 mins
 

Rich and creamy and loaded with nutrients and plant-protein, this date caramel easily comes together to satisfy your sweet tooth, but without giving you a sugar crash.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 6-8 Medjool dates
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp (scant) salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Instructions
  1. Pit the dates and then add all ingredients to a food processor or high speed blender. Blend until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy, adjusting salt to taste. For a thinner sauce, add more almond milk.

Recipe Notes

Store in an airtight jar in the fridge.

big summer salad with tahini ranch dressing and herbed walnut croutons (vegan, no added sugar)

Summer is made for salads. Big salads. Because cool greens, fresh herbs and colorful veggies that are finally in season just beckon on hot, hazy days.

At least once a week I try to plan a salad for dinner and I wanted this one to capture the abundance that spills from the garden. As a main meal, I wanted it to feel “meaty,” so I diced up some sweet potatoes and roasted them in the oven and further “beefed” up the protein with herby walnut croutons. Since I had a package of farro on hand from my sister, I cooked up some of that too.

My veggies of choice for this salad are:

  • lettuce (your favorite kind, but I prefer delicate green leaf for this one)
  • spiralized zucchini
  • shredded carrots
  • tomatoes
  • snap peas
  • corn
  • cucumber
  • sweet potato

As a side note…did you know that you can eat the skin of a sweet potato? I always assumed I needed to peel it until I read otherwise in The Seven-Day Rescue Diet*. I love the added texture and vitamins plus another way of reducing kitchen waste!

For the ranch dressing, I slightly adapted my garlic herb dressing from my favorite BLT Salad. I may try a cashew version of this dressing down the road since cashews lend themselves so well so dairy-free creams, but tahini is more budget friendly so I went with it this time.

 

Ever since I had children, I’ve discovered that even though they are birthed from the same parents, they have completely different taste buds. Go figure. To avoid personally having to customize each salad (which would definitely exceed the limits of mental capacity) and to make veggie eating a (more) enjoyable experience for my brood, I plate the lettuce, but create a veggie buffet on the table for the fixings. That way, each person can select the toppings they like best and I never have soggy lettuce leftover that often is a downfall of pre-mixing a salad.

I would love to hear if you try this tip! And/or have you tried something like this with your family? How do you encourage your children to eat their greens?

 

  • Click here for my favorite food processor and the veggie spiralizer I use
  • Click here for the avocado oil.

 

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big summer salad with tahini ranch dressing and herbed walnut croutons
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hrs
 

Cool greens, fresh herbs and colorful veggies capture the abundance that spills from the garden on hot, hazy days. Diced sweet potatoes, herbed walnut croutons and tangy ranch dressing round out this salad to make it a satisfying main meal or easily scale it back for a side.


Course: Main Course, Salad
Ingredients
For the salad
  • lettuce
  • zucchini, spiralized
  • carrots, shredded
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • corn
  • snap peas, chopped
  • cucumber, diced
  • farro (about 1/4 c. cooked/person)
  • sweet potaotes, diced
For the tahini ranch dressing
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/8 cup fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dashes freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tsp fresh chives
  • 2 1/2 tsp onion powder
For the herbed walnut croutons
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp avocado oil
  • dashes salt and pepper
Instructions
For the salad
  1. Place the diced sweet potatoes (seasoned with salt and pepper if desired) on a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper in a 350 F oven for 35-45 minutes or until cooked through.

  2. Cook farro according to package directions.

  3. 3. Prepare veggies while the sweet potatoes are cooking.

For the tahini ranch dressing
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until thoroughly combined. Pour into a glass jar. Can be stored in the fridge for up to one week.

For the herbed walnut croutons
  1. Add all ingredients to a small mixing bowl and stir thoroughly until the nuts are well coated with the herbs (using your hands is helpful). Turn onto a metal baking sheet or pie tin and pop in the oven with the sweet potatoes. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until the nuts are lightly toasted and fragrant. *Keep an eye on them as they go quickly from lightly toasted to burnt.*

Recipe Notes

RECIPE NOTES: While I didn't include the portion sizes for the salad ingredients, here is a general guideline for adult portion sizes:

  • one generous handful of lettuce and one medium carrot per person
  • one small spiralized zucchini per 2-3 people
  • one medium sweet potato per 2 people
  • 1/8-1/4 cup of corn, cucumber, snap peas and farro per person
  • 4-5 cherry tomatoes per person

I like using organic frozen corn and simply let it thaw since GMO free corn on the cob is hard to find (and it's easier!)

*affiliate link

Fig + Pear Salad with Cherry Balsamic Dressing


Oh my salad greens goodness! Each time I see this picture, I get hungry all over again.

Normally, I rotate between 3-4 salad recipes each month…ones with ingredients that are easier on the budget than pistachios and cherries. However, there are times and occasions where something special is called for…like Mother’s Day perhaps? Or maybe a lunch with a friend who is like a mother or a sister to you.

Perhaps it’s the pistachios that made me think of Mother’s Day. Because unless you buy shelled pistachios, you know it’s a labor of love to crack open enough for a meal. And word of advice? If you have lots of little (or big) hands around the house that would love to eat pistachios like candy, you might want to hide your shelled stash until the salad is ready to serve. Just sayin’. From experience.

Reducing the balsamic vinegar is key to making this salad without adding sugar. I love how it pairs with the buttery pistachios, sweet figs and lightly sweetened pears. The mix of greens is up to you, but I advise staying away from watercress. Unless you love watercress, of course. I thought I might after reading Trumpet of the Swan back in grade school. But after trying it, I’ve decided it’s not a good idea to make food choices based on the preferences of fictional swans.

You can receive the recipe for the full salad and cherry balsamic dressing (which has a secret ingredient), along with other exclusive recipes and updates, by signing up for my newsletter here:

5-ingredient walnut pesto over zucchini noodles (vegan, gluten free, paleo)

pesto

I am newer to the whole veggie noodle trend, mostly because I didn’t want to invest in a spiralizer unless I knew I would get frequent use out of it. For awhile, I made due by putting my dusty cheese grater to use to make zucchini noodle strips. And then I found this:

Only $5 at Whole Foods and I was sold. I was a little skeptical at first if it would really work, but it does! And not only does it turn out lovely long zucchini noodles, I get a few bonus rotini shapes too. The only downside is it’s hard to spiralize the entire veggie because you run the risk of nicking your fingers in to the bargain. A brief search on Amazon, however, located this one* that solves that problem and is still small enough to be tucked into a drawer.

While my traditional pasta sauce works well with these noodles, I think they were meant for this pesto recipe. You can serve it over slightly warmed noodles, or since the weather is heating up, eat it cold. This pesto is a snap to put together and it can even be frozen.

Five-ingredient walnut pestoIMG_4176
1.5 cups of basil
1/2 cups of walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1/8 tsp salt
dashes of freshly ground pepper
3/4 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix on high until everything is thoroughly combined. Spoon onto noodles of choice (I recommend zucchini!) and stir until noodles are coated. Personally, for my own bowl, I like to mix in the pasta by hand. Store any extras in an air-tight jar in the freezer.

*makes enough for two adult servings

*contains an affiliate link

plant-powered pizza crust (vegan, gluten free)

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Finally! I feel like I can enjoy pizza again.

Since changing my diet to a plant-based one, I also found myself losing my desire to eat wheat-based foods. I experimented with a few pizza crust recipes, including a cauliflower one, but hadn’t found one that I really loved until now.

This pizza crust is mostly potato, a little bit of cauliflower and can be made with a gluten-free flour of your choice…I prefer brown rice flour. It’s chewy and crusty and holds up well under all the toppings. I could seriously eat them as is.

I prefer to make these as indiviual mini-pizza servings…perfect for customizing them to suit any palette. My favorite no-fuss toppings included regular hummus, pizza sauce, onion, jalepeno peppers and basil. They also freeze well, so make a stack and save some for when you need a quick lunch or are on the go.

Plant-powered Pizza Crust

1 1/2 cups finely diced potatoes
1/2 cup finely diced cauliflower
1/2-3/4 cups gluten-free flour of choice
3 T ground flax seed
1/4-1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt

Bring 1-2″ of water to boil in a medium saucepan, then add potatoes and cauliflower. Boil until veggies are very tender and the water has evaporated (this way, you don’t loose the nutrients in the water!). Mash well or blend in a food processor until smooth and cool. Add remaining ingredients, starting with a 1/2 cup of flour and adding more as needed. Knead in the flour with your hands until it becomes a firm, but sticky dough. For into a 5-7 balls, place on a cookie sheet lightly greased with avocado oil and flatten into round pizza crust shapes. Place in a 375o oven and pre-bake for 12-15 minutes. Add toppings and bake for another 10-12 minutes. Freeze any leftovers by placing on cookie sheets and popping in the freezer. Once frozen, store in airtight freezer containers or bags.