Better Bites

My experiments in healthy eating, cooking, and living

Archive for the category “Gluten-free option”

Kale & Avocado Hummus Served with Paprika-Spiced Pita Chips and a Social Eating Weakness

Kale, & Avocado Hummus

When I think about going to college, I think about how much fun I had with my roommates. One of my roommates, Tanya, and I always had tons of laughs when we were together. At one point we also made Spongebob and Patrick shaped pancakes for breakfast.

One of the things Tanya used to make fun of me for was my social eating habit or at least that’s what we called it. I was never one to enjoy the cafeteria food and I always had a decent-sized stash of food in the apartment (though at that time I was famous for making English muffin pizzas and breakfast for dinner more than I was for making healthy meals).

A social eating weakness, for those of you who are wondering, is when you drop what you’re doing (at all costs – you could be writing an important paper or talking on the phone) to eat and chat with people. For me, this problem really made itself known while I was at college during my sophomore year living while with three roommates in a tiny apartment with white-painted cinder block walls (if you’re visualizing it now and thinking it looked like a prison, you would be half right – the other half was filled with mismatch college decor). While discovered this urge to eat with others while in college, I think it stemmed from my Italian roots (those people are always forcing food on you, whilst yelling usually).

I didn’t start college as a social eater. No, this problem developed when I moved into the apartment with a small kitchen-living area. As we were in college, we all had different class, work, and eating schedules, but if anyone went into the kitchen and was making a meal I was there too. I just couldn’t resist eating and socializing with others. I did this even if I wasn’t hungry. The act of eating and talking just came so naturally to me (the two seem to go hand in hand).

My social eating habits brought me to share this recipe because it is perfect to eat with others. The dip’s creamy texture and mild flavor balance out the spicy, crisp pita chips. I brought this kale and avocado hummus to a July 4th party and it was devoured by the many guests at the party, as well as by me. Appetizers are my weakness, as are desserts (as is social eating). Does anyone else have this problem or am I alone in this?

Kale & Avocado Hummus 2

Kale & Avocado Hummus:


1 can of cannellini beans or garbanzo beans (I used cannellini)

1 avocado, halved and diced

2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1/2 lemon, juiced

salt and pepper to taste (roughly 1/4 tsp of sea salt and freshly ground pepper, or more to taste)

3-4 leaves of kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped (you could try another green like spinach or arugula)


Add all of the ingredients except for the kale into a food processor. Blend on high until the mixture is well combined and fairly smooth. Then add in the kale. Blend again on high until the kale becomes chopped into tiny pieces or is not visible at all. Serve alongside the spiced pita chips or for a gluten-free option serve with corn chips.

Paprika-Spiced Pita Chips:


1 package of pita bread, about 4-5 thick pitas

2(+) tbsp of olive oil (or more depending)

1 tsp of smoked paprika

1/2 tsp of garlic powder

1/4 tsp of sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1/8 of a tsp of cayenne pepper


1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then slice your pita bread into triangles by cutting each pita in half and than slicing triangular shapes by cutting from the middle out to the edge of the pita with a knife.

2- Once the pitas are cut, add them to a mixing bowl. Then drizzle the olive oil over the pitas (making sure not to only pour it in one spot). Sprinkle the spices over the pita. Then mix the pita with the olive oil and spices, making sure each pita piece is evenly coated.

3- Bake for about 15 minutes and then flip each pita piece. Bake for another 15-20 minutes (or until both sides are golden brown). Taste a pita chip and add a little extra salt and pepper if necessary. Serve alongside the avocado hummus. Enjoy!


The MLT, also Known as The Mushroom, Lettuce, & Tomato

Mushroom lettuce tomato

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who adored BLTs (bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich). What wasn’t to to love? There was warm and crispy bacon, as well as fresh lettuce and tomatoes, sandwiched between two toasted pieces of bread slathered with mayonnaise. I don’t think there was ever a time in life that I turned down a BLT, but now that I’m eating a mostly plant-based diet, bacon and mayonnaise don’t fit into the foods I eat. Of course, there are many ways to make vegan “bacon.” I haven’t tried any yet (I will be making coconut bacon soon), so I invented the MLT, which is stands for the mushroom, lettuce, and tomato.

Most of you are probably thinking, how can a mushroom even stand up in comparison to bacon, flavor-wise? I will admit, that bacon has its own distinct flavor, yet flavor was one element this dish was not lacking in. Both the rub on the mushrooms and the spicy guacamole I used to top the portobello with, pleased my taste buds and kept me coming back for more with each bite. I didn’t choose to put my MLT on bread, though it would have been delicious paired with freshly baked whole wheat bread.

You may think I’m nuts for changing an old favorite, but every recipe can use a little revamp every once in a while. The MLT is certainly not the same as the BLT, but taste-wise it packs as much flavor. Have you ever made any changes to the ever-popular BLT?

The Mushroom, Lettuce, & Tomato (the MLT):

*Serves 2


2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

2 large portobello mushroom caps, cleaned (gently wiped with a damp paper towel)

1/4 tsp of sea salt, freshly ground pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and cumin (for the mushrooms)

1 handful of romaine lettuce, sliced thin

1 tomato, diced

1 garlic clove, diced

1/4 tsp of sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder

1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

2-4 tbsp of guacamole (if you’re looking for a recipe, try this one, which I’ve made and enjoyed many times before)


1- Drizzle each mushroom with one teaspoon of olive oil. Then top with the spices (about 1/8 of a teaspoon of each spice on each mushroom). Then rub the mushrooms evenly coating the whole mushroom in olive oil and spices. Add the mushroom caps to a medium-large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the mushroom for about 5 minutes on each side. Heat with a cover for the last 30 seconds to one minute of cooking (if you put the cover on too soon the mushroom may become soggy). When the mushrooms are done they should be tender, but not soggy.

2- Add the tomato pieces, romaine lettuce slices, garlic, spices, and olive oil to a bowl. Stir them and then add them to the fridge until the mushrooms are done cooking.

3- When the mushrooms are finished, set them on a plate with the gills facing up. Spread guacamole on the gills (1-2 tbsp on each). Then top each mushroom with the lettuce tomato mixture and serve immediately.

A Burrito Unwrapped &Topped with Chili-lime Corn Salad

Burrito Unwrapped

Earlier this week I became a proud mamma. Now, I didn’t go off and have a baby or anything crazy like that. Let’s not get carried away here (kidding to all the mothers out there). However, I did just finish planting my garden. While gardening does not require quite as much responsibility as having a child (kidding again – I know, I’m pushing my luck), but at times it does feel like I’m mothering my garden: I care about its outcome, I cherish seeing it grow, and enjoy every minute I put into it (except the weeding, that really is my least favorite part about gardening).

This may be weird, but I absolutely love the getting dirty part of having a garden. I love putting my hands in the dirt to dig or pull weeds. I don’t mind that my nails get caked with soil. For me, it’s like a badge of honor. Then slowly, but surely those plants begin to inch their way up until they’re full grown. This time of year is such an exciting time for the New England gardener. It’s a time of new growth and possibilities. Sure, there is a lack of knowing what the end result of planting a garden will be, but it’s more than worth the chance. This year, I hope to harvest more than a handful of tomatoes. Here’s to hoping anyway!

Aside from finishing my garden earlier in the week, I also made a flavorful corn salad, which was seasoned with both lime and chili powder. It was the perfect balance between both sweet and spicy. I topped my unwrapped burrito with this salad, but underneath it I tucked in some other goodies like Thom’s recipe for Vegan Mexican Roasted Potatoes, which can be found on his blog Don’t Switch Off the Light (just can’t get enough of this recipe Thom!). Lastly, I topped my wrap with a garlic-flavored black bean mash. Vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike would enjoy this burrito, unless of course you don’t like corn. Then it probably wouldn’t be your favorite. It is definitely a dinner recipe I will make again and again. Any repeat recipe is a winner in my book.

Burrito Unwrapped 2

Chili-lime corn salad: 

*Serves 2


2 ears of corn, boiled

1 tomato, diced

1 avocado, diced

1 clove of garlic, diced

1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

the juice of 1/2 of a lime (or more to taste)

1/4 tsp of chili powder (or more to taste)

1/4 tsp of sea salt and freshly ground pepper

*Cilantro would also be a great addition


1- Slice the corn off the cob by holding the cob upright and slicing down as close to the cob as possible. Roughly chop the long corn strips into pieces. Then add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Serve alone or as part of a burrito.

Garlic-flavored black bean mash: 

*Serves 2+


1 tsp of olive oil

14 ounces of black beans (or 1 can), rinsed well

1/4 tsp of sea salt, garlic powder, and freshly ground pepper

1 clove of garlic, minced


1- Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the black beans when the pot gets hot. After the beans are warmed, mash them with a potato masher and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and serve with the rest of the burrito ingredients.

What do you add to your burritos that makes you keep coming back for more?

Potato and Tomato Medley & the Truth About Potatoes

Bean and potato stew

My fondest memories of potatoes are the mashed potatoes that appear on my grandparent’s large maple-wood Thanksgiving table each year. A large portion of my plate is taken up by those light and fluffy potatoes. That meal wouldn’t be complete without them. While I love mashed potatoes, I also love them baked, twice-baked, as potato skins, scalloped, and fried. They can be eaten with almost anything and add substance to lighter meals. I know that white potatoes aren’t the healthiest choice, but I thought the downsides ended there – apparently I was wrong.

I didn’t know there was much to know about potatoes, until I began reading Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Apparently potatoes are grown using such harsh pesticides (one particularly harsh chemical called Monitor, is used for bug-control), that farm workers aren’t able to go near the field for days after a crop is sprayed. If they do, they risk serious illness. After those few days, people are able to go back into the fields. Eventually, when the crop is harvested, it is brought to large containers or sheds, where it’s stored for about six months (or until the potato becomes ready to eat and nontoxic to its consumers). The truth is pretty, isn’t it?

How is this okay? If the pesticides are so harmful that people can’t even approach an area where they have been sprayed, then why are we putting them on our food? Why don’t more people know about how we really grow potatoes in America? These are some of the questions that began to swim around in my head as I read Pollan’s chapter about potatoes. All I know, is that I can no longer support the good old regular spuds from the grocery store. I’ll add potatoes to my organic only list, as are other produce items from EWG’s dirty dozen list.

Bean and potato stew 2

Potato and tomato medley: 

*Serves 2


2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

1 to 1.5 cups of organic yukon gold potatoes, diced

1 large garlic clove, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/4 tsp of salt, freshly ground pepper, and garlic powder

1/2 tsp of oregano and basil

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 can of cannellini beans

1 fresh loaf of whole wheat bread, sliced (or your favorite GF bread/this would also be good over rice)


1- Fill a sauce pan with water over high heat. When the water begins to boil add the potatoes. After about 10 minutes the potatoes should be softened. Drain the potatoes.

2- Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil to the pan. When it’s heated add the garlic to the pan. After about a minute or two (or when the garlic just begins to brown around the sides), add the peppers to the pan. Let them cook for about 5-7 minutes before adding the potatoes to the pan, along with the beans, tomatoes, and spices.

3- Let the mixture heat through and the flavors combine. At this time, toast the slices of bread. Top the bread with the potato mixture. Enjoy!

After eating this, your belly will be happy and your mind will be put at ease (if you use organic potatoes anyway!).

20 Minute Meal: Pesto Coated Pasta With Roasted Grape Tomatoes

Pesto pasta

This picture doesn’t capture the tastiness of this dish, which was simple yet delicious.

In life, there are some ingredients that just shouldn’t be separated: tomatoes and basil, peanut butter and jelly, vanilla and chocolate, and strawberries and bananas. I’m sure you can think of many more inseparable food pairings. For me, I don’t just have go-to flavor combinations that I love, but also other things in my life that go so well together that I can’t imagine one without the other: movies and cloudy days, girlfriends and wine, weekend mornings and pancakes, and sunny days and running. It’s almost like I’d be trying to buck the system by having one without the other. It could end up being catastrophic.

On Wednesday night, I opted to avoid the possibility of disaster in my kitchen at all costs, so I went the safe route. I made a creamy avocado pesto with basil and paired it with wheat orecchiette pasta and tangy, oven-roasted grape tomatoes. The flavor of the mild pesto and the tangy tomatoes created a fusion of flavor with each bite I took. Tomatoes and basil win again. I just don’t see a way to go wrong when using these two ingredients in savory recipes. What foods have you found that were meant for each other?

Max and Layla 2

The peanut butter and jelly of my life: Max and Layla (with their new summer poodle haircuts).

Pesto Pasta with Roasted Grape Tomatoes:

*Serves 2

Pesto Pasta Ingredients:

*Pesto Recipe from Oh She Glows

1/2 an avocado, diced

1 garlic clove, diced

3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup of water

1/4 tsp of sea salt and freshly ground pepper (for pesto)

1 cup of fresh basil leaves, packed tightly when measured

1/2 pound of whole wheat pasta

1/4 tsp of sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder (for pasta)

Roasted Tomato Ingredients: 

1 1/2 cups of grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup of Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs (or plain bread crumbs with 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, dried oregano, and dried basil mixed in)

1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil for the bread crumbs + a little more for the tomatoes


1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Halve the grape tomatoes and then drizzle a bit of olive oil on them and spread them onto a baking sheet (flat side up). Mix the olive oil with the panko bread crumbs. Then sprinkle the mixture onto the tomatoes. Bake them in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. Upon taking them out, they should be tender and the bread crumbs should be beginning to brown.

2- While the tomatoes are baking, put a pot of water on the stove over high heat. When it begins to boil add the pasta. While the pasta is boiling add the pesto ingredients (water, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, salt, pepper, and basil) to a blender. Blend until smooth.

3- When the pasta is tender, strain it and then put it into a serving bowl. Add the pesto on top and mix well. Then gently fold in the tomatoes.

What do you think about the tomato-basil combo? What is your favorite way to use these two ingredients?

Cilantro-lime Chickpea Wraps

cilantro lime salad 2

The cilantro-lime flavored chickpea filling.

You may not believe your eyes when you read the end of this sentence, but all week I have been daydreaming about eating kale. Yes, it’s true. I admit it. I’ve thought about putting it in soups, making salads with it, and adding it to wraps. I craved kale’s distinct flavor. It is slightly bitter, yet it also reminds me of the familiar taste of raw broccoli. I’ve had a bunch of curly green kale in my fridge since Sunday and I have practically been counting down the seconds until I could use it.

For some of you, this may be a feeling you can’t relate to. I don’t think many people dream about eating kale, but if you’ve become a kale-addict as I have, then this feeling wouldn’t seem too far fetched.

This crisp leafy greens were nestled in between layers of the cilantro-lime chickpea wrap I made for dinner. While kale didn’t play a starring role, its crisp texture paired well with the creamy feel of the chickpea salad. At first bite, the flavors of lime, garlic, and cilantro mingled on my tongue. In two words, for me, this salad was simply perfection. It was just what I wanted at the time, a healthy meal that didn’t sacrifice any flavor. On top of all that, it was also pretty inexpensive to make, which my wallet is still thanking me for.

cilantro lime salad 3

The final product.

Cilantro-lime Wraps:

*Serves 2 if eaten just by itself / 4 if used as a part of wraps


1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and then rinsed well

1 tomato, diced

1 avocado, halved, peeled, and diced

1 large clove of garlic, diced

1 tbsp of fresh cilantro, diced (or 1 tsp of dried)

the juice of one lime

2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and garlic powder to taste (I used about 1/4 tsp of each)

2 leaves of kale, washed and then sliced into about 1 inch strips

1/2 cup of hummus for spreading on the wraps (I used jalapeno hummus, which was delicious with the cilantro lime dressing)

4 wraps

cilantro lime salad


1- Drain and rinse the can of garbanzo beans. Add them to a bowl with the diced tomato, avocado, cilantro, and garlic. Then add the juice of one lime, the olive oil, and seasonings. Stir well. Add more salt or pepper depending. You could just eat this salad like this or add it to a wrap. It was very tasty on its own, but as I mentioned before, I had my sights set on eating kale.

For my expert wrap-wrapping technique read on.

2- I am no expert, but this method works. Lay your wrap flat and spread it with a layer of hummus (spread it all over the wrap as it acts like a glue keeping the wrap together). Then place the kale and chickpea salad on the right half of the wrap (leaving about 1 1/2 inches of space above and below where the kale and salad is). Then fold the top and bottom edges of the wrap in towards the center and begin to roll the filled side of the wrap towards the empty side, rolling it tightly as you go. Slice and serve!

Have you been daydreaming about eating any specific foods lately?

A Pasta Dish Infused with the Flavors of Lemon, Garlic, and White Wine

asparagus pasta

I’ve always admired people who have the ability to be subtle. You know the type. Those that tell you that you have spinach in between your teeth without embarrassing you. The type that can ease their way into a group of gabbing people without a hitch. People that can nearly trip, but catch themselves just in time to regain their composure.

Not me. No, I’m usually the one with the spinach in my teeth, whilst tripping and falling all over the floor. I guess you can say I’m talented at being a klutz. At that, one who is far from inconspicuous. Subtle just isn’t one of the words I would use to describe myself, but my asparagus lemon pasta, on the other hand, was just that.

Flavors of fresh lemon juice, sauteed garlic, and chardonnay wine blended together to form a simple sauce that lightly coated the hearty whole wheat orecchiette pasta. The taste of basil and rosemary made themselves known between between bites of steamed asparagus.

If any of you have any lessons on subtlety, I’m in the market for hints. For now, I’ll just stick to this pasta dish. Read on for the recipe.

asparagus pasta 2

Ingredients for asparagus-lemon pasta: 

1 tsp + 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

1 red onion, diced

2 large cloves of garlic, sliced thin

1 pound of asparagus, discard the ends after cutting them off and then slice the remaining stalks into 1 inch pieces

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, salt, and dried basil

1/4 tsp of rosemary and garlic powder

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/2 tsp+ of lemon zest (or more depending on the strength of lemon flavor you want the pasta to have)

1/2 cup of white wine (chardonnay worked well for me – I chose one that wasn’t oaky, as some varieties can be)

1/2 pound of the pasta of your choice (I used orecchiette-shaped pasta)

Top with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast (or parmesan cheese) *optional


Fill a large pot three quarters of the way full with water and heat it over medium heat. While waiting for it to boil, heat a frying pan over medium heat with the teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil.

In the meantime, dice the onion and slice the garlic cloves. Add the onion to the pan. Let the onion cook for about 3-5 minutes. Stir occasionally. If the pan seems too dry, add a tablespoon of water (instead of adding more oil – it’s a way to add more moisture without adding more calories). Then add the garlic slices. When they start to brown add the asparagus, spices, and lemon juice and zest. Let the asparagus cook 10 minutes or until it is tender, but still crisp. When the asparagus is almost done add the white wine. Let the wine cook off for about two minutes.

In the meantime, when the water begins to boil, add the pasta. When the pasta is done, strain it, put it back into the pot, and add the tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. I sprinkled a bit more garlic powder, salt, and pepper on top of the pasta before adding the veggies. Toss and serve immediately.

While the ingredients in this pasta dish were simple, they combined to form deep flavors. I’ve never gone wrong by adding white wine to a sauce-less pasta dish or to my glass while I was cooking. Cheers!

Portobello Mushroom and Bell Pepper Fajitas, as a Salad or All Wrapped Up

fajita salad

Have you ever ordered a salad while eating out, only to feel unsatisfied after eating it? I’ve felt this way after having salads that were particularly lackluster when they arrived at the table, but seemed top notch on the menu. When I order a salad, I long for a variety of fresh ingredients with different textures and flavors that blend together to create more than just a lettuce-like flavor. This fajita salad does just that and without the fatty dressing. Tender portobello mushroom slices, crisp yellow bell pepper pieces, and cumin-spiced green lentils added a hearty flavor to this dish, which was topped with fresh diced bell pepper and creamy avocado pieces. I had one fajita salad and one fajita in a soft whole wheat wrap, which was just as delicious as its greener version.

fajita salad 2

Ingredients for portobello mushroom fajitas and fajita salad:

*Serves 2

1/2 of a cup of green lentils, rinsed before use

1/2 tsp of smoked paprika (for the lentils)

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cumin (for the lentils)

a dash of chili powder and cayenne pepper (for the lentils)

1/2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp of olive oil

2 large portobello mushroom caps, sliced

1/4 of an organic bell pepper, sliced

1 small tomato, diced

1/4 tsp of salt, freshly ground pepper, cumin, and garlic powder (for the mushrooms)

salad (with your choice of dressing – I used a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground peper instead of dressing) or the wraps of your choice

toppings of your choice (I used red bell peppers and avocado slices, but guacamole would be delicious if you’re feeling more ambitious than I was)


1- Rinse the green lentils in a strainer under cold water until the water runs clear. Then add them to a pot with 1 1/2 cups of water or broth (I just used water) over medium heat. When the lentils begin to boil, lower the heat to medium low and let them simmer for 30-45 minutes or until they are tender or the water has been absorbed. They took closer to 45 minutes when I cooked them.

2- In the meantime, slice the portobello mushroom, bell pepper, and tomato.

3- When the lentils have been simmering for about 25-30 minutes and are nearly done, heat a frying pan with the olive oil over medium heat. Add them to a skillet with the olive oil. Let the vegetables begin to soften a bit before adding the salt, pepper, cumin, and garlic powder. I would have added a garlic clove or an onion in the oil before adding the other veggies for flavor, but I was out of both of those, so I used garlic powder instead.

4- While the veggies cook, slice up your toppings. When the lentils are done, drain them if necessary. Then add the spices and extra virgin olive oil. Serve with in a wrap or over a salad. Enjoy!

Feel free to post any of your favorite Spanish-influenced dishes below. That is one type of food that both me and the mister can agree on!

A Lemony Spring Pasta Dish with a Side of Herb Avocado Spread and a Kitchen Mystery

spring pasta

A mystery, you wonder? Yes, a mystery, but not a murder mystery ( at least I should hope not). Last night, I arrived home after a long night of conferences. As I walked in the door at 8:00, all I could think about was food. I practically lunged at the fridge like a foodie jumps at the chance to try a new restaurant.

Then, all of the sudden, I noticed the quiet. I was alone. The dogs were no where to be found. Usually before I even reach to turn the door knob, the poodles are pawing at the door ready to greet me upon entry. Yet, it was silent. Eric and the poodles were not there and as I looked down at the shelf in the fridge, neither was the Easter calzone that sat there untouched before I left for work that morning.

I was slightly perplexed. I heard music upstairs and I assumed Eric had taken the dogs up there to play, while he played pool with the upstairs neighbors. I thought maybe Eric had brought the calzone to share with the other guys that live up there, as sort of an offering. Maybe if he offered them a calzone full of meat and cheese, he would be offered more meat in return. In his dreams, I’m sure.

At some point later, the dogs ran down the rust-colored carpeted stairs, Eric in tow. I asked him about the disappearing calzone. He mentioned casually that he had eaten it for dinner. I said “You ate the whole thing?” He stared at me, noticing my disbelief. I mean it was a pretty big and rich stuffed bread. He said with a lowered voice, “What, you mean that wasn’t healthy?” I shook my head and laughed. He pouted a little bit, feeling slightly bad about eating the entire thing, but after proudly mentioned that he had loaded it up with barbecue sauce. How that goes with a bread filled with a variety of cheeses and meats, I don’t know, but I do know that my meat-free spinach calzone is still in the fridge (safe and sound). Read on for a totally unrelated recipe for a spring pasta dish with a lemon sauce and a side of bread with avocado “butter.”

spring pasta 2

Ingredients for spring pasta with a lemon twist:

*Serves 6

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 red onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, sliced thin

2 cups of baby bella mushrooms, sliced

1/2 tsp of salt and dried basil *fresh would be preferred, but I only had dried basil (if using fresh basil add it in at the last minute, before serving)

1/4 tsp of garlic powder, pepper, and red pepper flakes

2 cups of asparagus, diced into 1 1/2 inch spears

1/2 cup of frozen peas

1 package of spaghetti (about a pound) *GF option – GF pasta choice like rice pasta

1-2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

the juice of 1/2 a lemon


1- Heat a large pot with water and set it over high heat. While waiting for the water to boil, slice the garlic and red onion.

2- Heat a frying pan and add olive oil to it. When the olive oil is hot in the frying pan, add the red onion. Let it brown before adding the garlic slices. Let the garlic slices get brown around the edges before adding the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms brown a bit and then add the spices, asparagus, and frozen peas. Stir the veggies and let them cook.

3- Add the spaghetti to the pot as soon as the water is boiling. Meanwhile, take your veggies off of the heat when the asparagus is slightly softened, but still crisp.

4- Drain the pasta. Add it to a serving bowl and squeeze the juice of half of a lemon over the top. Then add the extra virgin olive oil. Stir. Then add the vegetables and mix well. Serve alongside bread topped with avocado spread.

 spring pasta 4

Ingredients for herb avocado spread:

*Serves 4

1 avocado

1 tbsp of fresh basil, sliced OR 1/4 tsp of dried basil

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, and garlic powder

1-2 cloves of garlic, diced

1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil


1- Cut the avocado in half. Scoop out the insides into a bowl. Then add the rest of the ingredients. Mash well until the spread is smooth and butter-like. Enjoy on fresh toasted bread!

Do you have any favorite seasonal spring recipes? If so, please share. I’m always looking for new recipes to try!

Quinoa and Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers 2

Just about ready for some panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Then these peppers are ready to go into the oven!

As I was surfing Pinterest the other day, I saw a picture of a creamy quinoa and chicken casserole. Immediately I thought of all of the other ways I could use quinoa. While this protein powerhouse is good on its own, I’ve also seen it used in cookies, granola, breakfast cereals, and even brownies. I certainly don’t think adding quinoa to other recipes would do any harm, since it is both healthy and versatile. I decided that it was time to step out of my quinoa comfort zone to create something a little bit different. That’s when quinoa stuffed peppers were born. All the tasty extras that go into stuffed peppers are what make them special. I didn’t skimp on flavor. These bright yellow bell peppers were filled with garlic flavored spinach, diced sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, buttery pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. I topped them off with some crispy Italian-seasoned panko bread crumbs, a little bit more parmesan, and warm tomato sauce. Sorry for all you vegans out there, but this is a vegetarian dish. There is a brilliant recipe on Somer’s blog, Vedged Out, for homemade vegan mozzarella. I suppose you could always use that if you are the mood for this filling stuffed vegetable dish. Read on for the recipe.

stuffed peppers 3

Ingredients for sun-dried tomato stuffed peppers: 

*Serves 3

2/3 cup of quinoa

3 organic bell peppers

1/2 tbsp of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, diced

2 handfuls of spinach, washed

1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, and thyme

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup parmesan cheese + a little bit more for sprinkling

1 – 2 tbsp of pine nuts

1-2 tbsp of fresh basil, chopped

bread crumbs for sprinkling (optional, if you are GF, you could always use GF bread crumbs or eliminate them entirely)

1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce, warmed


1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then add the quinoa to a pot over medium heat with 1 and 1/3 cup of water. Cook until all of the water is absorbed and the quinoa is soft.

2- Cut out the stem and seeds of the pepper by cutting a circle around the stem of the pepper. Remove the stem and shake out any extra seeds. Put the three peppers face down in a loaf pan. Bake them for about 15 minutes while the quinoa is cooking.

3- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Then add the slices of garlic to the pan. When the edges of the garlic begin to brown, throw in the spinach. Let the spinach soften.

4- When the quinoa is finished cooking, stir in the spices and extra virgin olive oil. Then add the spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts. Mix well.

5- After you’ve taken the peppers out of the oven, flip them over in the loaf pan. Drain any excess water. Then, stuff the peppers with the quinoa mixture. Careful not to burn your fingers as they are hot. I stuffed mine using an ice cream scoop (this helped me avoid the huge mess that would have come from using a normal teaspoon). Top with Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs and a bit more parmesan. Bake for about 20 minutes.

6- Heat sauce to serve with the peppers after they come out of the oven. Slice the peppers in half and enjoy!

If you’re in the mood for another Italian dinner recipe, I also made the lasagna soup recipe Move Eat Create linked to. Her blog is fabulous by the way (if you haven’t checked it out yet). I’ve bookmarked the recipe and it is definitely one I will make again (and again). Do you have any favorite Italian recipes that are staples in your diet?

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