Saturday, May 3, 2014

Whole30 Vegetarian: Day 11. Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca. (Vegan, Paleo).

Today marks day 11 of the Whole30 Vegetarian experiment. I haven't posted in a few days, so here's the update:

I'm feeling great. Energy levels are good, sleep is excellent, although PMS-ing on this diet is a bitch. Lunch-time hunger grumps are likely to lead to rage and even crying. Eating well, and often, is a must. It can be time consuming and all of my schedule has to account for when we are going to eat.

Breakfast usually looks like this:

Lunch is typically a salad or leftovers. Food is getting boring, I'll admit, but the diet isn't hard. I still don't miss anything that we've cut out, but I have to tell you that I've been having dreams about eating carbs. For reals. Like dreams about stuffing an entire package of rice cakes into my face and eating them like a crazy person. Which is weird, because awake, I don't want rice cakes. Hm.

Okay, so the good news. I know we aren't supposed to weigh ourselves during the program, but I totally did. And I'm down 6 lbs. I've been about 140 lbs for the last five years, and NOTHING I've done has gotten me below 140. Today I'm at 139. Booya! That feels pretty fucking amazing.  (I curse when I'm excited. Or when I'm mad. Or just in general).

So today's recipe is spaghetti squash. It's not the first time this veg has appeared on my blog, and I'm forever a fan of nature's spaghetti. The recipe takes 40 minutes, but really that's just "sit back and let it cook time." The prep will take about 10 minutes or so.

1 spaghetti squash, halved
1 jar of crushed organic tomatoes
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp sundried tomatoes
olive oil
1/2 tsp of basil
1/2 tsp of thyme
1/2 tsp each marjoram and oregano
1/2 cup of water
salt and pepper to taste
olives of your choice, chopped (I used salty green olives, but you can use black or kalamata olives).

Preheat your oven to 375. Place your squash halves on a cookie sheet, but don't put them in yet. Meanwhile, saute your onion, garlic and bell pepper in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Then add in your spices and sundried tomatoes and cook another 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Add in your tomatoes and water and set your heat to low, maintaining a gentle simmer.

Now place your squash in the oven and set the timer to 40 minutes. Your squash and sauce will each cook for the next 40 minutes, stir your sauce occasionally.

When finished, pull the squash out of the oven and cool slightly so you can handle it. Then with a fork, shred the insides into spaghetti, top with sauce and olives and enjoy! Makes great leftovers too!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Whole30 Vegetarian Day 6: Warm Beet Salad with Kale, Citrus and Pistachio (Vegan, Paleo).

Day 6! That's 1/5th of the way through the Whole30 program! That's math ya'll!
This morning brought another banana + coffee for breakfast. On days when my husband is at work I prefer a lighter breakfast. My husband, on the other hand, wakes up ravenously hungry, and we end up eating heavier fare on those days, so expect some more breakfast recipes as we go through the next few days.
Dinner tonight will be leftover soup from Day 1, and some steamed mixed vegetables. Nothing fancy there.
So today's recipe is lunch (although you could make it for dinner, or even breakfast if you wanted to).
The warm, earthiness of the beets is brightened by chunks of sweet orange, and salty, crunchy pistachios, then drizzled with fresh grapefruit juice and olive oil. It's a quick, tasty and satisfying meal, especially if you prepare your beets ahead of time, like I did. Make the beets the night before, then simply slice and heat in a skillet for a few minutes before topping your salad.  Or just eat the beets cold. It will be great either way.
2 cups of chopped kale
1 orange, peeled and sliced
2 beets
1/4 cup of pistachios
juice of 1/2 fresh grapefruit
1 Tbsp. olive oil
pepper to taste
You can roast the beets if you like, but the quickest way is to steam or boil them. Wash beets and remove leaves and stem. Steam for about 30-45 minutes, or until soft but not mushy. Cool slightly and remove skins (they should slide right off). Slice your beets into thin disks.
Meanwhile, place your kale into a large salad bowl and top with orange slices, pistachios, beets, grapefruit, pepper  and olive oil. Due to the heartiness of kale, you can enjoy this right away or make ahead and it will keep for a day or so without becoming a soggy mess. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Whole30 Vegetarian Day 5: Pan Seared Brussel Sprouts with Apple, Onion and Dates.

Yesterday had me a little down in the dumps after dinner. I developed symptoms of "detox" like a sore throat and headache. I could post a 99 page rant about how much I hate the word detox, but that might be for another day.

According to the Whole30 program, symptoms of detox are normal and expected. (I can't help but wonder though, why when I switched from meat-eater to vegetarian, or when I jumped, at one point, into Ayurveda, why I didn't develop any adverse reactions or detox symptoms, only felt amazing immediately?) Anyway, I slept almost 11 hours last night (!!!!) And woke up feeling amazing. No adverse symptoms today, and my energy levels are great.

For breakfast I wasn't feeling particularly hungry, so I had a cup of coffee and a banana. Meh.

For lunch I had a salad with avocado, strawberries, grapefruit, tomato, cucumber and broccoli, over romaine, in a balsamic vinaigrette.

Dinner was the main take-away today and is adapted from a recipe I found at Their recipe uses honey (not allowed in my program) so I used dates instead, and ghee instead of butter (ghee allowed, butter not). This recipe isn't vegan, but you could easily make it vegan by subbing coconut oil for ghee.

The dish came out AMAZING. Better than expected. The dates give it a sort of brown-sugar quality that is delicious.  I'm loving trying new recipes, and the challenge to make them fit with in the program. So far I've found quite a few that will stick around after this month is up.

Oh. And some notes about what I'm noticing: We aren't allowed to weigh ourselves during the program. But my pants feel looser and more comfortable, my waistline is visibly slimmer (probably from dumping some bloat and water weight) and my skin looks great. I am missing wine tonight. A glass of wine would be great.

1/2 of a medium onion, chopped
1 apple, cored and chopped (I left the skins on)
2 dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 lb of fresh brussel sprouts, stems chopped and outer leaves removed, then sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 tsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
salt to taste
2 tbsp oil of your choice (ghee or coconut)
In a large skillet melt your oil, then saute the onion until soft, about 4 minutes. Add in the apple and dates, and cook another 2 minutes. Then add in vinegar, the rosemary and brussel sprouts. Cook until desired tenderness (about 5 minutes for crisp sprouts, longer for more tenderness). Enjoy the savory, sweetness of it all!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Whole30 Vegetarian Day 4: Sweet Potato Tacos (Vegan, Paleo).

Today marks day 4 of the Whole30 Vegetarian experiment. 

I'm feeling pretty good, overall. I've been sleeping fantastically, and no sign of my usual insomnia. I am a bit more tired than usual, and a tad cranky here and there. But hungry? Not really.

For breakfast my husband whipped up a quick veggie scramble that I shoved half of down my throat on my way to teach yoga this morning. 

Lunch was a salad with strawberries, tomatoes and romaine in a tahini dressing. I forgot to photograph it as it was consumed while cheering on my eldest son at water polo this morning. That's him: #5. 

Waterpolo and yoga took up most of our day and dinner wasn't planned ahead. I was just going to steam up some veggies, roast a sweet potato and have some soup, but as I was cleaning out our veggie box from the local market, I realized that romaine leaves make perfect little boats. For tacos. I freaking love tacos. If you know me at all, you know this thing about me. 

So I chopped up some sweet potatoes, roasted them with some onion in taco spices, and served them in romaine boats with avocado, alongside asparagus drizzled with balsamic vinegar and a bowl of garden vegetable soup. Perfect, impromptu dinner that even got thumbs up from the 5 year old (the hardest critic in the house!) 

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced into rings
1 tsp each chili and cumin
 dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
2 large romaine leaves per person

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. 

Meanwhile, toss your potatoes, onion, oil and spices in a large bowl. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake until soft and slightly crispy, about 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally. 

Remove the potatoes from the oven, cool slightly, and serve in romaine leaves with your favorite sides. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Whole30 Vegetarian Days 2-3: Coconut Curry with Zucchini Noodles (Vegan, Paleo).

Day two of the Whole30 diet (with me trying it as a vegetarian) and things are still looking good. So far I'm not feeling restricted at all, if anything, I am eating more food than usual (which, honestly, kind of freaks me out). For breakfast we had sweet potato hash, poached eggs and avocado. My usual fare: toast. I'm not usually hungry in the morning and eating within 30 minutes of waking has been challenging. Yummy, but challenging.

Lunches have consisted of totally delightful, and HUGE salads topped with whatever we can get our hands on, from tomatoes, to fruit and nuts. It's been really nice actually. I'm a fan. And so far I'm not having any food cravings. I don't eat much in the way of sugar, and can do without grain for a while, at least. I can see missing beans in the long run, and haven't ruled out allowing myself a portion here and there.

The first night we had a TOTALLY scrumptious variety of veggies and fruit, including a baked sweet potato, roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce, apple,walnut and kale salad in a grapefruit vinaigrette, and fresh pineapple. All Whole30 approved foods. Doesn't feel like deprivation to me!

A few insights about Whole30 so far. First: I am not going to be paleo forever. I am sure of that. But I can see eating this way a majority of the time. Second: so far it's not that hard. It's not that far off of how we usually eat, and I'm enjoying eating so much fresh fruit and veg. Plus, it's been great to see my husband consume so much of it himself. I can imagine that if your normal diet consisted of a lot of processed food, that this transition would be exponentially difficult. Like today I brought 40 cupcakes to my son's school for his 5th birthday, but wasn't tempted to eat one. But then again, I'm not normally tempted by sweets, particularly baked goods, so no real shocker there.

So far the transition has been pretty easy, if not a little exciting, because I have even more reason to try new things. Like the "Vegetti."

Last night I made coconut curry with this new-found gadget. It's a contraption that turns veg into noodles. Well, kind of. It just spiral slices them. I'm up for anything, especially if it will get us through the next 30 days without eating each other's faces off.

The sauce I made came out top-notch and really made the whole dish. We would eat this again, and definitely the sauce is going to make a comeback!

1-2 cups mixed vegetables of your choice. I used broccolini and carrots
3 large zucchini, spiralized
1 small onion, chopped

For the sauce:
1/2 can coconut cream
1 cup water
1 tsp each curry and turmeric
salt to taste
1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
1 inch of ginger, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanche your vegetables for a few minutes, until bright and to desired softness. Drain, set aside.

Then "spiralize" or shred your zucchini.

In a sauce pan, saute the onion until soft, about 5 minutes or so. Then add in the spices, ginger and garlic, and cook 1-2 minutes more. Stir in the salt and coconut cream. Bring to a simmer and cook about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, blanche your zucchini for 2-3 minutes. Drain. Top with your blanched vegetables and curry sauce. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Whole30 Vegetarian: 20 Minute Garden Vegetable Soup (Vegan, Paleo)

My husband recently started following the Whole30 plan. Long story short, it's a a diet that emphasizes whole foods and cuts out sugar, dairy, processed and refined foods, and grains. In an effort to support him, I've been modifying my cooking to avoid these ingredients. Which, it turns out, is pretty simple (for me at least). A diet that focuses on eating tons of veggies? I can handle that!

A lot of the complaints about the program is boredom or lack of ideas with cooking. I can imagine if you're coming out of a diet coke/hamburger/cheetos kind of diet that this change would be hard. But instead I see it as a challenge, and have come down with some really great ideas and recipes. Already we have had a ton of baked sweet potato, roasted cauliflower (huge hit with the kids), super yummy salads topped with nuts and strawberries, and a kale salad with apples that I MUST POST SOON.

One of the things we decided would be nice is to add some soups to the menu, and I have some good ones lined up like cauliflower pesto that I'll be sure to post. 

Today I made a pot of soup to last the week, either to accompany meals or as a quick snack. This one took 20 minutes, fits into the Whole30 diet and smells amazing. My husband keeps creeping around the kitchen asking what I put in it, and I'll tell you: not a lot. It's brothy and light, perfect for spring, and all done in 20 minutes! 

1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large zucchini, sliced into half moons
1/2 cup of roasted red peppers, peeled and chopped (I used jarred from the grocery)
4 cups of broth or water
1 can organic diced tomatoes (or about 1 cup fresh chopped)
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp mixed Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add in the onion, celery, carrot and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, red pepper and spices, bay leaf, and cook 1-2 minutes more, stirring frequently. Stir in the broth and tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add in the zucchini and cook 5 minutes more. Store for the week and enjoy with your favorite salad or serve immediately.

                                                                  All packed up and ready to go in the fridge!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Roasted Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Mint and Goat Cheese

I spent the last week in Portland with my sister and her sweet new baby. I was so grateful to be able to help, and it doesn't hurt that I got my baby fix in!
But after traveling and being a houseguest, and all of the eating that goes with it, I came home craving veggies in a major way. So dinner tonight was packed full of veggie goodness, beginning with this salad.
I roasted the chickpeas with garlic and olive oil, then stirred in some mint, crumbled goat cheese and lemon. Seriously delicious hot or cold.
Alongside I served a green salad with tomatoes, oranges, cranberries and sunflower seeds in a balsamic vinegar and some simple steamed green beans. Delicious and just what I needed to get my body back on track.
2 cups (or two drained cans) of chickpeas
2-3Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of chopped mint
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup of crumbled feta or goat cheese
In a baking dish combine the beans, oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly.
Bake for 15 minutes at 375. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.
Stir in the lemon juice, mint and cheese. Serve.
Finally, I leave you with a sweet picture of my new nephew Sabin, sleeping in my arms.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Veggie Fajitas and the Politics of Feeding Children Vegetables.

I'm not a believer in hiding veggies from your children. True, there are many celebrities with best-selling cookbooks that tout the benefits of pureeing veggies into things like brownies and spaghetti sauce. I think that's a neat idea. But as a way of life, I believe in presenting children with food that looks as much in it's natural state as possible. If they never know that they are eating a vegetable, how will they ever choose to eat one voluntarily?
Hear me out.
It's useful to add nutrients to a picky eater's meals. But overall, the real value is teaching kids that veggies are delicious, and an important part of their diet. Give a kid a zucchini and he's probably going to turn his nose up at it a few times. But be persistant. Eventually it will take. How do I know? Because we've lived this ideology again and again.
Tonight I made veggie fajitas for my family. No tofu. No seitan. Just carmelized veggies in a tortilla. Even I was skeptical that it would take with my kids, particularly my youngest.  But all three of my kids ate, and ate well.
We have a philosophy in this house that what's for dinner is what's for dinner. There will be nothing else. I am not going to cater to you. It's a hard line to draw. But if you don't eat, you go hungry. ( A big, BIG part of this is preventing too much snacking before dinner. Hungry kids EAT).
Let's just say it's a power struggle. And I win, almost every time.
Don't get me wrong. It didn't happen overnight. It took a long, LONG time. All I ask is that they try. Try the veggies.
2-3 bites at least. Then you can eat your beans and rice and tortillas.
And over time, those 2-3 bites turn into 5-6. And then a whole meal. It works. Try it. And let me know how it works out for you. What challenges do you face in the kitchen? Do you think my rules are too strict?
Veggie Fajitas
1 onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
6 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 small zucchini, speared
In a large skillet saute the onions and mushrooms until soft. Add the zucchini and red bell pepper. Cook until the onions and mushrooms are caramelized. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve in warm tortillas with rice and beans on the side.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


 My last pregnancy was spent in the kitchen, learning to make pie. I had such a happy time, and learned to make all kinds of delicious desserts, even though I'm not particularly a fan of sweets.  Maybe that's why rhubarb pie is my favorite. It's easy to make, sweet but not overly so, and has a nice tartness.

I have made so many failures in the process of learning: burnt pie, runny pie, pie that is too sweet, pie that is too bland.

Now that I'm over the learning curve, I find that pie making can be much quicker than expected. So there are a few key steps to make sure that your dessert comes out perfect:

1. Buy or make a good quality pie crust. I always make my own and the flavor really does make a difference. I opt to make a crust with about 1/2 the butter of a traditional pie, and the result is a chewier, more rustic crust. You can try all sorts of varieties, and I hear coconut oil is a great vegan substitute for butter. I haven't tried that yet.

2. After you sugar your fruit, let it sit for 20 minutes and then DRAIN before continuing on with the recipe. This will ensure your pie is not runny.

3. Let your pie set for a few hours after cooking, so that it has the chance to thicken. You can always reheat it if you want it warm.

Now let's get cooking!

Pie Crust Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups of flour
1 stick of butter, cut into small chunks
1 tsp each salt and sugar
8 Tbsp of  ice water

Mix the salt and sugar into the flour. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or two knives.  Add the water in, little by little, until your dough just sticks together. Divide in half, wrap each ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. When ready to fill the pie, roll each ball out to form flat disks (the top and bottom of your pie).

Pie Filling

3 cups rhubarb, chopped
1  lb of strawberries, green parts removed, quartered
1/4 and 1/2 cup of sugar, divided
3 tbsp corn starch

Place the rhubarb and strawberries into a large bowl and stir in 1/4 cup of sugar. Let sit 20 minutes. Drain the liquid from the fruit. Next, stir  the cornstarch and reserved 1/2 cup of sugar into the fruit.

Pour the fruit mixture into the pie pan/crust and top with the second crust, using a fork to crimp the edges together. Brush the top of the pie with a little milk or egg wash if you want that shiny effect (below).

**Bake at 450 for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 350 and cook another 40 minutes.

 Cool for 3 hours or so, then serve!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

White Bean and Kale Soup (Vegan)

The rain has finally arrived, albeit a bit late in the year. This has been the driest year in California history, and while I can't say I've been hating all the sunshine, the drought is a real concern. And I really do love the rain. It's the perfect time to stay all day in jammies, eat soup, make tea and listen to the earth be renewed.

We also spent the week celebrating my middle son's 10th birthday and I'm feeling a little sick of party food, pizza and cupcakes. This was a nice dinner to bring my family back to their senses.My kids enjoyed this one, the 12 year old had 3 servings!

This bean and kale soup is very simple and quick to make. The bell pepper added towards the end adds a bright and peppery flavor to the soup.


2 tbsp Better than Boullion (veggie flavor)
6 cups of water
1 onion, diced
3 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 bag of frozen peas and carrots
1 cup of cooked white beans
2 cups of kale

Saute the onion and celery in a large saucepan until translucent. Add in the garlic and bay leaf and cook another 1-2 minutes. Add in the boullion, rosemary and water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Then add in the rest of the ingredients, bring back to a boil. Simmer until peas and carrots are soft, about 5 minutes. Remove the rosemary stem and bay leaf prior to serving. Enjoy with a crusty loaf of bread, for dipping.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Macaroni and Cheese with Crunchy Kale Topping

My husband's childhood friend recently cooked dinner for us and his family ( He also happens to be a chef, so we usually let him do the cooking when he comes over). He likes to do it, and we reap the benefits of a delicious meal with good friends.
Though he made a different pasta dish, I watched him top it with kale and breadcrumbs and I was, I admit, skeptical. I would have stirred the kale into the whole mix, and I was picturing  the kale turning into a soggy, sloppy mess.
Well. Don't question the chef! He pulled it out and the kale was crunchy and salty and delicious. Just like the kale chips we all know and love. He made kale chip casserole.  This dish is inspired by his.
1 package of pasta, cooked and drained
1 onion, diced
2 cups of cheese
1.5-2 cups of kale, torn into bite sized pieces
2 cups of milk
1 tbsp oil or butter
1 tbsp flour
salt and pepper to taste
Place your cooked pasta in a large casserole dish. Meanwhile, saute the onion until soft, and stir into the pasta.
In a small sauce pan, heat the oil. Stir the flour into the oil quickly and brown slightly, but do not burn. Add the milk and whisk continuously until hot. Whisk in the cheese and stir until melted. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and salt and pepper to taste.
Top the pasta with a sprinkle of cheese, the kale and breadcrumbs and a dash more salt. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake another 8 minutes.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Vegan Sloppy Joes


Smoky and sweet, this lentil variation of the classic sloppy joe is a hit with the whole family, even the meat eaters. I love to make it in the slow-cooker (I love to make anything in the slow cooker!) but you can make it on the stove-top as well.

This recipe is very versatile, as the secret ingredient is the homemade bbq sauce. So feel free to try different beans or vegan "meats" or omit them altogether. For extra-deliciousness, serve with thick dill slices.

And between you and me? I put an entire package of mushrooms into this recipe. My kids HATE mushrooms and they had no idea that their burgers were packed full of mushrooms. The key is to chop the mushrooms very small.

Now go on, drag out your slow cooker before work tomorrow and have dinner ready by the time you get home.


1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
16 oz vegan soy crumbles (or tempeh, seitan, etc)
16 oz mushroom of your choice, minced
1 large onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of organic crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1 tsp. chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

for the sauce:
1/3 cup of ketchup
1/3 cup brown mustard
4 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke

In a skillet saute the onion, bell pepper and garlic until soft. Add the chili powder and cook 30 seconds.

In the slow cooker combine the onion mixture with the soy crumbles, mushrooms, tomatoes and water. Salt and pepper to taste.

For the sauce, combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth. Stir into slow-cooker and cook on low for 6 hours.

Alternatively, you can cook this on the stove top, simmering on low until the lentils are soft.  Serve on toasted buns with coleslaw and/or pickles.