Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Garden Fresh Kale Salad

This is my go-to, every week salad that is packed with nutrition and tastes market fresh. I kid you not when I say I make this every week for dinner and switch it up by topping it with steak (for my husband) and fish or grilled portabellas (for me).

It has all my favorite salad ingredients with tons of avocado and fresh basil and mint to brighten everything up! Make sure you get the freshest produce possible and feel free to add whatever protein or grilled veggies to top it off!

It's also a great salad to serve as a side dish at a fun summer BBQ or at a dinner party all season long :)

*I don't provide measurements for this salad because you basically just toss everything together using as much and as little of the ingredients as you want. For instance I love a lot of avocado and sun-dried tomatoes as well as the fresh herbs, but you may want to adjust to your preference (and group size!)

Fresh kale roughly chopped (green, purple, or mixed all work!)
Mini cucumbers, sliced
Avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
Grape tomatoes, halved
Sun dried tomatoes (I use the ones soaked in olive oil)
Hearts of palms (cut into 1/2 inch slices)
Black olives (sliced)
Fresh basil, chopped
Fresh mint, chopped
Olive oil (high quality for optimum flavor)
Minced garlic

Start by taking your kale and placing it in a large salad bowl. My secret trick with kale when making raw salads is to add the dressing first and massage the kale with it. This is what softens it a bit and removes that bitter flavor that some people dislike. The dressing that I use for this is a combination of 1 part fresh squeezed lemon juice and two parts olive oil, salt, pepper and minced garlic to taste. I whisk this all together and then drizzle over the kale. Then using my hands, I toss and gently massage the kale for about 30 seconds or so. Next, add the rest of your ingredients (in no particular order), although I like to add the fresh herbs at the end before tossing it all together. Do a taste test to see if you want to add any extra dressing or salt/pepper, and then your done! Top with your favorite meat or fish, or enjoy as is on those meatless Monday nights!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pesto Noodles with Roasted Tomatoes and Arugula (Grain-free, Vegan)

I am happy to report that I have a new favorite recipe. And possibly a favorite to top the charts. My Pesto "Noodles" will happily satisfy any of you pasta lovers out there without the gluten, carbs, dairy, high-fat....sound too good to be true? I know.

For anyone who knows me, pasta is something I absolutely adore. And it was also the hardest thing I had to give up after realizing I felt like death after eating it. So I'm sure you can imagine my excitement at the discovery of this recipe and most importantly the main ingredient: Kelp Noodles.

What are these magical noodles you ask? They are simply a sea vegetable in the form of an easy-to-eat raw noodle. Kelp Noodles are fat-free, gluten-free, and very low in carbohydrates and calories. Most importantly, they are highly versatile and take on any flavor/style you wish, whether you are craving an Italian pasta night, or you want to travel East for a Thai noodle bowl.

In this particular recipe, I also add the newly popular zucchini "noodles" and follow suit with carrot "noodles" to add a bit of texture, color and flavor to the dish. Let's face it, noodling veggies is so hot right now. Right!?

These veggie noodles also serve as a great substitute but I personally think are best when mixed in with Kelp Noodles as the vegetables sometime can get a little soggy. The kelp has a stiffer texture (resembling noodles) as opposed to the veggies (when cooked) tend to be a bit softer. 

I added my all-time favorite Vegan Pesto to this dish along with sweet roasted tomatoes and peppery arugula. But of course feel free to add whatever sauce, veggies, protein, etc. that your little heart desires. I ate this for dinner last night hot, but it was possibly even more delicious for lunch today cold. Like I said, VERSATILE. 

Enjoy this guiltless beyond yummy "noodle" dish and have fun experimenting with the life changing Kelp Noodles! Bon Appétit friends. Bon Appétit.

1 package of Kelp Noodles
1 medium zucchini
1 large carrot
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cipollini onions (sliced thin)
1 big handful of arugula
4 tablespoons of Vegan Pesto  (you can make ahead of time)
Olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, toss your tomatoes and onions with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Spread across a cookie sheet and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes and onions are soft and roasty toasty. Set aside.

Next take your kelp noodles in a medium bowl and soak them for about 15 minutes with warm water. (This will soften them up a bit). While the noodles are soaking, make "noodles" out of your zucchini. There are a few ways to do this, but I highly suggest buying this spiral vegetable slicer. It's only $30 and makes great noodles. For this dish, I used the blade that makes the thinnest (spaghetti-like noodles). Alternatively if you don't have this device, you can try using a vegetable peeler as I do for the carrots, but they will be thicker and flatter noodles (like fettuccine). For the carrot use a vegetable peeler (as I just mentioned) and thinly shave off pieces to resemble noodles. (Side note: I find it difficult to use the spiral veggie slicer for carrots because they are skinner than zucchini. To get a better noodle, your traditional veggie peeler does the job).

Add veggie noodles to a colander in the sink and sprinkle with a small handful of salt (as mentioned before, your veggie noodles tend to get a bit soggy. This process will release some of the water). Set aside for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, drain the kelp noodles and shake out excess water. If the noodles look too long, feel free to cut them with kitchen scissors to shorter strands.

Take a large skillet on high heat and add about a tablespoon of oil. Take your veggie noodles and squeeze out any excess water. You should release quite a bit. Shake them back into shape and throw them onto the hot skillet. You want them to brown up a bit before adding the kelp noodles. This will add some texture back to them. Let cook for about a minute or two, just until you see them start to brown slightly. Next, add your kelp noodles and toss around evenly with veggies. You may want to add another tablespoon of olive oil if the pan seems dry. Let cook for about 5 minutes and lower the heat to low. Toss in your pesto sauce. Make sure to stir around well as it takes a couple minutes to get the kelp noodles coated evenly. Next toss in the tomato/onion mixture and turn the heat down to simmer and cover the pan.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a smaller skillet over medium heat. Add your arugula and let cook up until just soft (about 5 minutes). Lastly, add your arugula to the noodle pan and toss everything evenly. Serve with some freshly grated parmesan (or vegan parm) and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pie

Yup. It's happening. This pie is just delicious. So much that I made it 3 times (this is the third) and never got to post about it because it was all gone before I was able to take photos. The pie is entirely gluten free, dairy free and mostly sweetened by just dates. Sounds too good to be true, I know. And it is.

I'm not going to go on and on about how I licked the empty pie dish or how I caught my husband in the middle of the night (head-in-freezer) eating this pie because you just need to go and MAKE IT.

Basically, if you like frozen peanut butter cups (in a pie version), then you will LOVE this. The banana is actually a very subtle taste which adds to the creaminess once frozen. The whole thing is just delicious and I'm quite upset I don't have any left right now to eat. Okay. Enough.



1½ cups blanched almond flour
5 large medjool dates, finely chopped
Large pinch sea salt
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon of agave nectar

3 tablespoons of unsweetened peanut butter (chunky or creamy)
1 large ripe banana, sliced

3 medium ripe bananas, cut into pieces
5 large medjool dates, chopped
1 cup light, unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 packet of stevia, trivia or splenda (or you can use agave - sweeten according to taste)
1 bag of Enjoy Life chocolate chips

Start by making your crust. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 inch pie plate with non-stick cooking spray. Prepare the crust by combining the almond flour, dates and salt in a food processor. Pulse until the dates and almond flour are well combined. Add the oil and agave and process until the mixture starts to come together like a dough. Press into the pie dish evenly. Bake for 12–15 minutes or until the crust has browned, it may seem soft but it will harden up as it cools. Let cool completely (you can even make this the night before and refrigerate covered overnight).

Once the crust is completely cooled, spread an even layer of peanut butter on top. Then add your banana slices so it covers the peanut butter in one layer. It should look like the above photo.

Next, prepare the chocolate filling by combining the bananas, dates, almond milk, cocoa powder, vanilla and sweetener of choice in a food processor. Process until smooth. Do a taste test to see if it is the right amount of sweetness for you. If you want, you can add more sweetener but it should be pretty sweet already from the dates and bananas. Pour the mixture on top of the peanut butter and banana layer and top with the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4 hours. Can be made 1 – 2 days ahead.

About ½ hour before serving, take the pie from the freezer, remove the plastic wrap and let set at room temperature until it is soft enough to cut. Slice and serve immediately. Now DIG IN!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Lately I have been really into making sauces and purees from fresh veggies to top over fish, meat, tacos, pasta, burgers, etc.....basically to put on everything. It's really a brilliant idea if you think about it. As long as you have a delicious sauce, your meal will taste that much better. You can simply grill, pan fry, or roast your fish, chicken or meat and just add a delicious sauce over-top and voila! You have one tasty meal without going through a lot of trouble.

This sauce is a new favorite made by roasting whole red bell peppers and pureeing them with fresh sauteed garlic, shallot, white wine, chicken stock and of course some fresh grated Italian cheese. (You can also do a vegan/dairy free version using vegan cheese Parmesan such as Go Veggie. )

The best part about this sauce is that you can make it ahead of time and store it in your fridge.....then break it out again when your ready to top that piece of fish or chicken with a sauce that will literally make you lick your plate.

2 red bell peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons white wine
6 tablespoons chicken stock
2 tablespoons of freshly grated Italian cheese (I used a trio mix of Parmesan, Asiago and Romano)
1 tablespoon of whipped butter (which is less fat than regular butter) or butter substitute
The juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place whole bell peppers on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes (turning halfway through). The skin should be shriveled and darkened in spots. Like the below:

Place peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 15 minutes, allowing them to "sweat". Next remove the skin of the peppers (it should easily come off as the roasting will make the skin shrivel up and separate from the interior. I just pulled it off with my fingers; like below). 

Remove the stems and seeds and cut into strips. You will have some beautiful roasted red peppers! If you aren't looking to make a sauce, you can just stop here and store your peppers with some olive oil in a jar and enjoy over salads or to put out with meat and cheese for antipasti appetizer.

Place sliced peppers on a plate and set aside. Heat olive oil in sauce pan over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook until soft. De-glaze with the white wine and cook for 1 minute stirring well. Add the chicken stalk and red peppers. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring. Pour mixture into a blender and add the two tablespoons of cheese, the butter, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Blend on the "puree" option until smooth. Add additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve over meat, fish, pasta, tacos......whatever your little heart desires!

 Store in an airtight container in the good ole fridge. I guarantee it wont last long :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pesto Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes (Grain-free, Dairy-free)

I can't begin to explain how excited I am about this recipe. It basically made my whole weekend. Sad, I know. But to have finally come up with a grain-free pizza recipe that is ALSO vegan....and tastes amazing? I mean, yeah. Made my weekend. So much that my husband and I made this first Friday night, and then again on Saturday. (And this wasn't eating leftovers. This was remaking from scratch).

Pizza has always been a favorite of mine (I mean, who doesn't love it?) But it also is something I have had to cut out of my diet since the tummy does not handle it well. So I'm sure you can understand my excitement with this new recipe.

The secret ingredient to this grain-free pizza is cauliflower. There are many cauliflower pizza crust recipes out there but they always turn out too mushy or soggy. After much trial and error, I am happy to have found one that both my husband and I enjoyed so much that we made it two nights in a row. And I can't wait to eat it again. And agian. And again......


Pizza Crust:

1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and sliced
2 tablespoons of almond flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon of oregano or favorite Italian seasoning
Pinch of salt
Makes 1 personal-size pizza crust (about 4 slices)

Pizza topping:
Vegan Pesto (can make ahead)
4 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved (I used red and yellow)
1 shallot, sliced
Olive oil
Vegan Mozzarella Cheese (I use Daiya which melts great!)

Start by roasting your tomatoes (which you can make ahead if you want, even a day or two). Toss tomatoes and shallot with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Spread out evenly on a cookie sheet and roast in oven at 400 degrees for about 18 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and chard in spots. Set aside.

The cauliflower "dough" after it has been squeezed of all the excess liquid.

Next make your pizza crust. (My crust recipe is inspired from, a great food blog with tons of healthy recipes and nutritional tips. My version however is vegan and tweaked a bit). Add your sliced cauliflower pieces into a food processor and pulse until the consistency of rice. (You will probably need to do this in batches unless you have a gigantic food processor). Next, in a large pot, bring 1 inch of water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and cover. Let cook on medium for about 5 minutes and drain into a fine mesh strainer. Let it sit in the strainer for a few minutes to cool off as it will be really hot for the next step.

Now pour the drained cauliflower into a clean dish towel and twist it up, squeezing (I mean SQUEEEEZING) all of the moisture out. (Be careful because it will be very hot unless you let it cool beforehand.) You should eliminate a lot of water. This is the secret trick to making the cauliflower crust actually work. The more water you eliminate, the crisper the crust. (This is where most recipes for cauliflower crust have failed. If you don't squeeze the water out, you will get a soggy crust that falls apart when you try and pick it up). After you squeeze out all the water, you should be left with something that resembles a cauliflower "dough" rather than "riced" cauliflower.

Next, add the almond flour, egg, seasoning and salt. Mix with your hands well until everything is well distributed. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and add the dough on top. Form a circular shape or rectangle (however you want your pizza to look) that is about 1/3 of an inch thick. Make the edges a little higher so you have a more of a "crust" look. Bake for about 38 minutes on 400 degrees, or until golden and crisp around the edges.

Now doesn't that look great!? 

Next spread the pizza with Vegan Pesto (I didn't put an exact measurement since you can add as much or little as you like....I like a lot. Obviously).

Next add your vegan mozzarella cheese. (Side note: if you have not yet tried Daiya Vegan Cheese, you will be pleasantly surprised how well it melts and subs for regular mozzarella. My husband (someone who is FAR from a vegan) had his first taste of melted Daiya this weekend and started making nachos as a pre-dinner snack while impatiently waiting for the pizza to be done. Needless to say he was a fan.)

Add your roasted tomato and shallot mixture on top of the cheese and then add some more mozzarella on top. Return to the oven at 400 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes or so. Remove from oven, slice and serve! 

Vegan Pesto

Vegan or not vegan, I love this Pesto. It's delicious on basically anything and is the perfect addition when wanting to add great flavor to your meal. Tons of basil and garlic make for a perfect topping/sauce/dressing/dip/spread especially in the Spring time. I especially love this on my Pesto Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes. Make a batch of this figure-friendly Pesto ahead of time and keep in your fridge until your ready to dress up your next meal with some awesome flavor!

2 cups of fresh basil leaves
1 to 2 garlic cloves (depending on how big of a garlic lover you are)
1/3 cup of vegan parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of vegetable broth
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds or pine nuts (I used pumpkin seeds because that is what I had)

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process on high until everything is combined and mixed well. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Store in fridge (covered) and serve warm or cold atop your favorite pasta, pizza, sandwich, fish, meat, salad......the list goes on! Hope you enjoy this healthier, figure-friendly Pesto!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

This one is for all my Brussels Sprout fanatics out there. I have had these little guys a million different ways and this has to be my most favorite preparation. And best of all? There are only 4 simple ingredients. Hope you enjoy!



Now top with the little fried piggies and you got yourself an awesome side dish perfect for any occasion, any time of the year!

1 pound of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
4 ounces of diced pancetta
1 large shallot, cut razor thin
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large oven-proof saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil until warmed and then add the pancetta. Fry up those little piggies until crisp then remove just the pancetta (leaving the oil and drippings in the pan) to a plate lined with paper towels. Cover to keep warm and set aside. Add the shallots to the pan first and then the Brussels sprouts, stirring till combined. Turn off the stove top and season with a pinch or two of salt and pepper (be careful not to over-salt since the pancetta is naturally salty anyway). Place pan in the oven and roast. Half way through, remove pan and stir, flipping over the sprouts so they are all cooked evenly. Put back in the oven and finish roasting until golden and crisp. Serve in a medium size bowl and toss in the fried pancetta. (BE CAREFUL removing the saucepan from the oven and handling it after. Carlos and I on two different occasions have both burnt our hands badly. Wear an oven mit through the whole process - believe me!)

Bon Appetit!