Start Snacking


We all snack during the day; some randomly and others intentionally. The body needs fuel throughout the day to help keep the metabolism fueled and burning fat. Snacking smart and intentionally is important for fueling a healthy metabolism.

While I stock up on varied fruits and vegetables for snacking, sometimes I want and need more. I’ve mentioned before my love of avocados; the best thing is to get them as small as possible for single servings and the teeny tiny avocados (actual name) from Trader Joe’s certainly makes the cut. One quick and easy snack is a mashed garlic avocado with the snap pea or lentil bean crisp. They are a wonderful option if you want a chip or crisp that has some nutrients. I am a huge fan of the wasabi ranch snap pea crisp and the onion and thyme lentil bean crisp. I’ll also like the mashed avocado with baby carrots. This is one to make right before eating to avoid browned avocado.

Another option is one of the many hummus options. While it can be brought, I decided to try my hand at making some at home. The hardest part to this was roasting a few cloves of garlic. The rest is just pulsing in the food processor or blender.

Check out the recipes below for two of my favorite snacks.

Roasted garlic and red pepper hummus
Serves 10

1 14oz can of organic chickpeas
1/2 cup roasted red bell pepper
5 cloves roasted garlic
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (~2 lemons juiced)
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a small pan with foil.
2. Pop off 5 cloves of garlic from the bulb and leaving skin on, add to the baking on. Bake for 10 minutes.
3. Open can and rinse chickpeas. Add to food processor.
4. Open a jar of roasted red bell pepper and add about a half cup. Juice lemon seeded side up.
5. Add garlic and oil top before pulsing until smooth. (2-3 minutes)
6. Season to taste. Enjoy!

Garlic mashed avocado
1 small avocado
1 clove grated garlic (1 tsp)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cut avocado in half longwise. Remove pit.
2. Use a spoon to scoop out each half into a bowl or on a small plate. Mash gently.
3. Grate garlic directly in the mix mince it fine.
4. Mix well and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Enjoy.


Vegan Believin’


Since I’ve dabbled in vegetarian meal options, I thought it was only fair to venture into the vegan arena. While similar, the primary difference is that vegan excludes any animal product or by-product including dairy, eggs and honey. While I like to explore different foods, flavors and textures, I don’t subscribe to really any diet beyond balance in all things. Plant-based proteins are important for maintaining overall health and balance; however there are other nutrients found in seafood and lean animal proteins that are not found in plants. In addition to the proteins (whatever the source), adding more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains are always on my agenda.

I was inspired to do a Vegan dish with my trip to Trader Joe’s where they were sampling a vegan kale, cashew and basil pesto. I decided to make a quick orzo dish with the pesto, Roma tomatoes, roasted yellow peppers and grilled and marinated artichoke hearts. I picked up a small bag of cashews for some added texture. Let me just say, nothing is better than being surprised with a new delicious go to! And at about $3.60/serving, that’s hard to beat.

The only thing missing was a protein. So instead of adding beans to the dish, I decided to make my first red bean cake with a can of organic red beans ($.99), some fresh herbs, spices like coriander, smoked paprika and sautéed garlic and onion. I was beyond surprised at how good it was and totally forced samples on friends at lunch. 🙂 The only thing I would do differently is to add panko breadcrumbs to give more texture and shape as I had to handle them delicately with the spatula.

To give the red bean cake moisture for lunch, I made a quick garlic avocado aioli at work to go with my lunch which was basically smashed avocado, grated garlic, lots of lemon juice and salt and pepper. This also would be great as spread for a red bean sandwich with either arugula or a lettuce of choice. Check out the recipe below and certainly share your thoughts!

Orzo Pesto ingredients (makes 4)
1 1/4 cup of orzo
4 oz kale cashew basil pesto (1/2 container)
1 cup diced tomato (about 2)
1 cup chopped grilled and marinated artichoke hearts (or canned)
1/2 cup chopped roasted peppers
2 tbsp. fresh basil chopped
2 tbsp. chopped cashews
1tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Red bean cake ingredients (makes 4):
1 15.5 oz can of organic red beans
1/2 cup sautéed onions
1 tbsp. sautéed garlic
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp. salt and pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup flour

Garlic Avocado Aioli:
1 small ripe avocado
1/2 of a lemon juiced
1 clove grated or 1 tsp. minced
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel and dice onion and add to a small skillet with 1/2 cup of water over medium heat. Mince garlic and add to skillet. Cook both for 5 minutes ubfik water evaporates and set aside.
2. Bring a pot of water to boil for orzo. While booking, open and rinse can of beans. Add to a medium-sized bowl and mash with a fork until no beans are whole. Rinse and dice cilantro.
3. Add orzo to boiling water and set timer for 8 minutes. Add cilantro and spices to bean mixture and mix well.
4. Rinse and dice tomato by cutting around the seeded core (save for salsa) and slice and dice each fourth of the tomato. Add to a large bowl.
5. Open jars of roasted peppers and artichoke hearts and chop the appropriate amount of each. Add to the bowl.
6. Rinse skillet from earlier and add olive oil over medium heat. While it heats, strain the orzo and add to the bowl of veggies.
7. Add flour to a plate or shallow dish. With gloved hands, form beans into balls (it will fall into patty) and coat lightly in flour before adding to hot oil. cook for 2 minutes per side as remove from heat.
8. Add pesto to orzo and tear basil to fold in. Chop or crush cashews (optional).

Aioli Directions:
1. Cut avocado in half. Scoop halves out into a bowl or small cup and mash with a fork.
2. Grate garlic and add. Cut lemon in half and squeeze over avocado seeded side up. Mix well.
3. Salt and pepper to taste.

Veg Forward Meals



I decided to cleanse my palate with a couple vegetarian dishes this week and decided on a chickpea and millet salad with an array of sliced veggies in a citrus vinaigrette. This dish took 20 minutes to make and will hold up well in the fridge this week. I decided to use canned organic chickpeas and at 99 cents at Trader Joe’s, it was an easy yes to pay and extra 20 cents for the organic option. Regardless it is still important to rinse any canned beans to remove extra salt from your dish.

As a second meal this week, since I am still craving avocado and have the fixings, I’m thinking another round of veggie bowls are in order with some black beans, sautéed mushroom, onion and peppers with cilantro rice, sour cream and fresh guacamole. The rice, beans and sautéed vegetables can all be prepared ahead of time where the only thing to make is fresh guacamole per serving which takes all of three minutes.

Check out the recipe below for the chickpea and millet salad. If you are interested in the veggie bowl dish, I have posted a similar recipe in my A Bowl of Fun post.

1/2 cup millet dry
1 1/4 cup water
1 cup sliced asparagus
1 cup diced tomato
1/2 cup diced yellow or red onion
1 14 oz can organic chickpeas
4 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tbsp. chopped orange mint (or reg. mint)
1/2 cup sliced mushroom
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (2 juicing oranges)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Toast millet over medium high heat for 2 minutes by gently shaking the pot and flipping the millet with a fork or spoon. Add water and bring to a boil and then reduce heat, top it (to cook like rice) for 15 minutes.
2. While the millet cooks, wipe mushrooms (about 4) and slice thinly and set aside. Peel and dice a small onion and add about 1/2 cup and mushrooms to a small skillet. Sauté over medium heat for three minutes to soften.
3. Rinse asparagus. Take one spear and bend lightly until it breaks naturally. Use this as a measurement to cut remaining spears. Thinly slice asparagus on an angle and set pile aside.
4. Rinse and dice one to two small tomatoes and set aside. Rinse and chop parsley and mint.
5. Add onion and mushroom mix to a medium-sized bowl and other vegetables. Once millet is cooked and still hot, add on top of the veggies and mix well. The steam with help soften the vegetables.
6. Open and rinse the can of chickpeas and add to the bowl. Rinse and roll the lemon and oranges and cut each in half. Add the herbs and juice oranges and half a lemon directly over the mixture.
7. Mix well and salt and pepper to taste. (Start with 1 tsp. of sea salt and a coarse black pepper.)
8. Enjoy!

A Bowl of Fun

IMG_8097.JPGRice and beans are an easy and inexpensive go-to for a portion of weekly meals. It is also a great meatless option that still provides the needed protein when paired with a whole grain such as brown rice. A 1/2 pound of beans ($1-$3 depending on the variety) can be stretched a long way. I like to try different varieties from the self serve isle of Whole Foods when I want a change from my beloved local Camilla beans. A cooked pot of a 1/2 pound of beans will give me 10 servings which I will eat with greens, a lean protein or sometimes I’ll create a veggie bowl of fun. Changing things up by adding a variety of sautéed veggies and other chopped vegetables is an easy way to transform an otherwise plain dish. It’s also easy to prep ahead of time by simply peeling and slicing onion and bell pepper and sweating them out over medium heat in water. Once the water cooks out, I add a 1/2 tbsp. of butter and a pinch of salt and pepper to brown them and add a punch of flavor. This can be stored in the fridge all week until needed. Check out one of my go to bowl mixes below for an easy change to a rice and bean week.


A Bowl of Fun

Serves 2

1 cup cooked rice
1 cup cooked beans ( any color)
1/2 cup sautéed onion and bell pepper
2 tbsp. fresh jalapeño chopped or sliced pickled jalapeño
2 tbsp. sour cream
4 tbsp. salsa of choice
1/2 cup fresh diced tomato
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup guacamole

1. Add half of the rice,beans and sautéed veggies to each bowl and microwave for 1- 1.5 minutes each.
2. Divide cheese evenly and add to each bowl.
3. Add remaining ingredients in layers.
4. Enjoy.

A Bit Of Millet


Father’s Day yielded great family time and a few leftovers to be worked in to this week’s meals. I don’t know about you, but my dad taught me a thing or plenty about grilling and making it worth while. So in addition to the grilled buffalo steak and lobster, I have some grilled green onion sausage for sandwiches, grilled salmon for salad and an easy, one pot dish to stretch the rest. I’ve mentioned before that a little millet goes a long way. At less than $2 a pound at Whole Foods (self serve isle), 2 cups of cooked millet can make enough millet and vegetable salad for 8-10 servings. Millet is a wonderful whole grain that cooks like rice and is easy to replace in dishes such as pasta salad. With an abundance of summer vegetables in season such as bell peppers, cucumbers, tomato and corn (also technically a whole grain), it’s easy to make a millet salad both filling and full of flavor. This dish is also easy to add grilled or baked seafood (fish or shrimp) to for a complete meal. Check out the recipe below and enjoy!

1 cup of dry millet
2 cups of water
2 husks of corn
1 large cucumber
1 large bell pepper
1 large tomato
2/3 cup diced yellow onion
1/8 cup lovage or parsley
1 medium juicing orange (1/8 cup)
2 small lime juiced (1/8 cup)
1/2 cup shredded carrot fresh (1 large carrot)
2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. onion powder
2 tsp. cayenne

1. Rinse millet in a small pot and bring to a boil with water. Cook for 20 minutes.
2. While millet cooks, shuck corn and rinse well. Cut from the cob into a medium-sized bowl. Peel and dice onion and add to the bowl.
3. Peel cucumber and cut around the seeded center like a box. Cut each fourth into strips and then dice. Repeat with tomato and set aside.
4. Add hot millet over corn and onion, once cooked and stir to cool and cook mixture.
5. Peel carrot and using a potato peeler or shredder, shred or cut ribbons of carrot into the bowl.
6. Slice and dice bell pepper and add it and the cucumber and tomato to the salad.
7. Chop parsley or lovage and add to the bowl.
8. Juice orange and lime into the mixture. Add seasoning and mix well.
9. Eat as is or with protein of choice.
10. Enjoy!