Veggie Chop Quinoa Salad

veggie-chop1After a couple months of heavy holiday indulging, it feels much better to be back on the clean eating routine. Another cooking-obsessed friend of mine got a couple of new cookbooks and this dish caught my eye. Obviously there could be variations galore, but this combo works pretty well. I can’t wait to make it again next week with some different fresh herbs and other veggies.

RECIPE: Veggie Chop Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa, room temp or chilled
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 1 cup sliced, steamed green beans, room temp or chilled
  • 1/2 cooked, sliced mushrooms (lightly sauteed in olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS: Add all chopped veggies and walnuts to a large bowl and toss to combine. Add quinoa and toss again. Then whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, tarragon, salt and pepper. Pour over the veggie/quinoa mixture and toss well. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper to your liking. Serve room temperature or chilled. Enjoy!


Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti with Parsley, Parmesan & Chile Oil

squashonfenceMany, many weeks ago, I noticed a lovely spaghetti squash growing from our neighbor’s garden through the crack of our fence. I’ve been eyeballing it ever since, watching it mature, wondering about its fate. Luckily Matt asked our very friendly neighbor if he wanted to back, and he graciously said it was all ours. Sweet! Now, what to do…

Since I love the concept of spaghetti squash more than I like spaghetti squash itself, I was scouring the internet for anything that inspired me. Then it hit me…what about a marriage of the imposter ‘spaghetti’ with actual spaghetti – well, brown rice spaghetti to make it gluten free and give it a healthy boost. The best part? This recipe has half the starch of a delicious pasta dinner, yet all of the satisfaction.

oilRECIPE: Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti with Parsley, Parmesan & Chile Oil

  • 2 cups of cooked spaghetti squash, warm (cooking methods below)
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice spaghetti, warm (break in half before cooking)
  • 3 TBSP garlic and chile infused olive oil (see below)
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (reserved 3 TBSP for garnish)
  • 3 TBSP freshly chopped Italian flat leaf parsley (reserve 1 tsp for garnish)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest (optional)
  • red chile flakes (for garnish)
  • salt and cracked black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Pour 1/4 cup olive oil into a small saucepan. Add 2 cloves of smashed garlic and 1/2 tsp red chile flakes. Slowly heat oil until garlic starts to brown. Remove from heat and strain to remove the chiles and garlic (you’ll have more than the recipe requires – store it in the fridge).

Add 3 tablespoons of infused oil and lemon zest to a large bowl. Add brown rice pasta and toss. Add spaghetti squash and toss again. Throw in Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm or room temperature; top with a little more cheese, parsley, a few red chile flakes and cracked black pepper. Drizzle with a little more infused olive oil, if desired. Enjoy!


There are a couple ways to cook a spaghetti squash. Usually I roast it in the oven (instructions can be found at the bottom of THIS PAGE >). But for this recipe, I prefer no color at all, and want the squash to remain a little al dente. The fastest means to an end is the microwave. (I almost never use the microwave, but for this, I make an exception.) *Carefully* stab a few holes in the squash with a chef’s knife so the steam can escape. Put the squash in a glass dish and microwave uncovered for 8-10 minutes. Let it rest for 15 minutes or so. Slice the squash in half the long way, scoop out the seeds and then using a folk, scrape out the strands of warm, delicious squash. If you’ve never worked with it before, you find a video tutorial on YouTube.


Warm Quinoa and Radicchio Salad with Balsamic Glaze and Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano

A friend of mine posted a pasta dish she made with radicchio recently and the flavor combination was interesting. Since I don’t eat a whole lot of pasta, I wanted to use those flavors in another way. Of course quinoa is my go-to carb because it’s super clean and has more protein than any other starch. So yes, here is another quinoa recipe that even my picky strongman boyfriend ate with very little grumbling.

RECIPE: Warm Quinoa and Radicchio Salad with Balsamic Glaze and Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 1/3 cups chicken (or veg) stock (reserve 1/3 for assembly)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 small head of radicchio, sliced into thin strips
  • 3 TBSP roughly chopped flat leaf parsley, reserve 1 tsp for garnish
  • balsamic glaze
  • 1/2 shaved parmigiano-reggiano
  • salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 TBSP olive oil

DIRECTIONS: Bring 2 cups of stock to a boil and add quinoa. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until liquid evaporates; about 20 minutes (do NOT overcook). Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds; then add tomato paste and stir for another 30 seconds. Pour in reserved 1/3 cup of stock and stir garlic/tomato paste until it reduces by half and it’s all incorporated. Add quinoa back into the skillet and stir until garlic mixture is evenly distributed. Drizzle a TBSP of balsamic into quinoa along with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat; toss in radicchio and parsley. Pour onto a serving platter. Drizzle with more balsamic glaze and top with the shaved parm and reserved parsley. Enjoy!radicchio-quinoa

Cream of Baby Bella Mushroom Soup

I LOVE mushroom soup. When I was little, mushroom soup was always the clear winner over chicken noodle – much like tomato juice was always the clear winner over orange. (I think I was a weird kid.) As an adult, I make mushroom soup a thousand different ways. Sometimes thin, sometimes thick, sometimes chunky in a broth, sometimes pureed with ‘cream of’ in front of its name. Hungarian style loaded with paprika, or traditional style that tastes a little like Thanksgiving. But I wrote this recipe because I was looking for a super fast and healthy way to make my favorite soup. No butter, no flour, no sauteing – no guilt. This recipe makes two large or three average size bowls, so double it as you wish. Here goes:

RECIPE: Cream of Baby Bella Mushroom Soup

  • mushroomsoupcooking1 box chicken stock (vegetable stock, if you’re a vegetarian)
  • 24oz mushrooms (crimini) sliced – reserve a cup, finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot (or 1/4 onion)
  • 1/2 tsp dry thyme
  • 4 TBSP brandy
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 block cream cheese

Add stock to a large soup pot and bring to a rolling simmer over medium heat. Slice mushrooms in a food processor (or rough chop); it doesn’t much matter since you’ll be pureeing this soup anyway. Add those to the stock. Slice the shallot; throw that in the pot. Add the thyme, brandy, salt and pepper into the pot and let simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Puree using an stick blender or regular blender. Put back on stove over low heat; add chunks of cream cheese and remaining chopped mushrooms. Simmer on low for 10 more minutes stir until cream cheese melts completely into the soup. Re-season with salt and pepper, if needed. Great drizzled with olive oil and cracked black pepper, or even topped with homemade croutons (recipe can be found here: SPICY GARLIC CROUTONS). Enjoy!


Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Goat Cheese Dipping Sauce

I saw this idea in Bon Appetite last time I traveled to Santa Fe. Roasting a whole cauliflower? Brilliant. Immediately I thought of it as the new “bloomin’ onion” because lord knows that dish will kill us in a heartbeat. This, conceptually, is the same. It has the same wow factor on the table and is great for sharing. Plus it has a dipping sauce to make it complete. The only problem with the Bon Appetite version for me, is the amount of fat in the cheese accompaniment because it uses four cheeses plus heavy whipping cream. So I wrote a new recipe to give it some health value. This is important because when you eat this once, you’ll want to make it all week long. In fact, I’ve considered just throwing another cauliflower in the pot while the brine is still hot because the other one was gone in five minutes flat. It also makes a great side dish when quartered and drizzled with the sauce.

brineRECIPE: Whole Roasted Cauliflower

  • 2 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sea or kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 head of cauliflower, leaves removed

readyforovenPreheat oven to 475 degrees. Bring wine, oil, kosher salt, juice, butter, red pepper flakes, sugar, bay leaf, and 8 cups water to a boil in a large pot. Add cauliflower, reduce heat, and simmer, turning occasionally, until a knife easily inserts into center, 15-20 minutes.

Using 2 slotted spoons, transfer cauliflower to a rimmed baking dish, draining well. Roast, rotating halfway through, until brown all over, 30-40 minutes.
RECIPE: Goat Cheese Dipping Sauce
  • 8 ounces lowfat cottage cheese
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup nonfat greek yogurt
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add cheese to a food processor and blend until smooth. Add salt to your liking and a generous amount of cracked black pepper. NOTE: you can do this in a blender, but it may require a splash or two of water to get it going.) NOTE: If you’re not a fan of goat cheese, you can swap it out with Feta or Greek cream cheese.

Transfer cauliflower to a plate. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with sea salt. Serve with sauce for dipping. Enjoy!cauliflower

Teriyaki Chicken with Stir Fried Garlic Ginger Green Beans

Every Sunday, I marathon cook. And mostly that means making a pile of lunch that reheats well and is large enough to feed my giant man for five days. He and all of his strongman buddies eat, eat, eat and then they eat some more. Especially right before a show, they’re packing in the protein and intentionally OD’ing on (pretty healthy) calories as often as they can. This recipe is simple, well-balanced and even takes a little help from some store-bought Japanese teriyaki. I’ve included a homemade teriyaki recipe at the bottom of the page, but since I’m writing this recipe mostly for the strongmen, I’m taking some shortcuts that will make things easier. All-in-all, this recipe is more prep and assembly than a complicated cooking endeavor, but delicious nonetheless. It’s also a perfect meal for families during a busy weeknight (but 1/2 of the recipe would be plenty for a family of 4 average-sized human beings).

teriyakisauceRECIPE: Teriyaki Chicken

  • 15 chicken thighs (boneless/skinless)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup teriyaki sauce (Sushi Chef brand, in the black bottle)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lay out chicken thighs on a sheet pan leaving a little space between them so they don’t just steam. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove pan from oven and let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before slicing into strips. Toss with 1/2 cup of teriyaki sauce. Taste and add more, if desired.

soygingergarlicRECIPE: Stir Fried Garlic Ginger Green Beans

  • 2 lbs fresh french green beans (the thin ones that usually come washed and trimmed in a plastic bag in the produce section)
  • 3 TBSP fresh ginger root, minced
  • 4 TBSP olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2-3 TBSP low sodium soy sauce

blanchedgreenbeansgreenbeansBring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch green beans for 3-4 minutes. Drain into colander while you heat up olive oil over medium-high heat. (You should shock the green beans in ice water, but I don’t bother since I’m stir frying right away). Saute ginger and garlic for about 30 seconds.

Add green beans and toss quickly to coat, and to keep the garlic and ginger from burning. After about two minutes, the green beans will start to blister slightly. Hit the pan with soy sauce until it caramelizes. Taste the green beans and add a little more soy, if desired.

teriyakichixthighplateServe chicken and green beans with a side of steamed jasmine rice and top with sesame seeds for garnish. Enjoy!

RECIPE: Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

  • 2/3 cup mirin
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 4 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

Bring mirin to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour in soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and honey/agave. Add garlic and ginger; simmer 5 more minutes.

Shrimp Fried Quinoa

Whenever I make quinoa for a recipe, it never ceases to amaze me how it makes five times as much as I plan for every single time, so there is usually a big container in the fridge for the next day or two. There isn’t always a plan for the leftovers, but the other day I was craving fried rice. So I had (plenty of) quinoa, happened to have all the traditional veggies in the fridge, and even found some little salad shrimp in the freezer. (I wish I had fresh shrimp in the fridge instead, but it just wasn’t in the stars that day). Nonetheless, here’s what I whipped up.

NOTE: This can be made into a vegetarian meal by substituting diced, baked tofu instead of the shrimp. ANOTHER NOTE: I recommend cooking the quinoa in stock instead of water to give it more flavor.

RECIPE: Shrimp Fried Quinoa

  • shrimp_ingredients3-4 cups leftover quinoa, chilled
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 8 green onions, chopped (reserve 2 TBSP)
  • 1 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • ½ lb cooked salad shrimp or cooked large shrimp diced
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3 TBSP teriyaki sauce
  • 4 TBSP soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 TBSP safflower or light olive oil for stir frying
shrimpfriedquinoaBegin by making the sauce. Mix together the soy, teriyaki and sesame oil and set aside. Then start stir-frying the ingredients in layers. Using a wok or large saute pan, heat the oil and cook the carrot and onion for a few minutes before adding the green onions, ginger and garlic to the pan. Stir for a couple minutes more. Make sure the pan is super hot, then add another drizzle of oil to stir fry the quinoa. Next add the shrimp (or tofu), peas, sauce mixture and stir over high heat until it’s evenly distributed. Then scrape everything to the edges of the pan so there is room to scramble the eggs in the middle. Once the egg is cooked, mix throughout the rest of the fried quinoa. Top with remaining scallions for garnish and serve. Makes 3-4 servings, depending how hungry you are. Enjoy!

Kale Salad with Tahini Goddess Dressing and Spicy Garlic Croutons

I learn a lot from my gluten free friends. Including realizing certain products contain wheat. Goddess dressing is one of those products – and while I really don’t like bottled salad dressings at all, I will grab a bottle of Annie’s Goddess Dressing in a pinch. Not any more. This dressing is so similar made with just a few ingredients you can throw right in the blender. I apologize for another kale salad, but this superfood tossed with a homemade tahini dressing and crispy croutons with a kick is just too good not to share. I also recommend doubling the dressing recipe and keeping it in the fridge.

VARIATION: After making this a few times, I started adding 1 large carrot (peeled and rough chopped) to the blender. This increases the health value exponentially, while lowering the fat and improving the thickness. This variation is like goddess dressing meets ginger carrot dressing from your favorite Japanese place. I’ll never make it without carrot again.

dessing_drizzleRECIPE: Kale Salad with Tahini Goddess Dressing

  • a bunch of kale, washed, stem removed, leaves chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP fresh ginger root
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 large carrot (peeled and rough chopped) ** see VARIATION above
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Prepare kale; set aside. Mix all remaining ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Adjust seasonings to your liking. (I added another tablespoon of olive oil, water for consistency and an extra splash of tamari for a little more saltiness, but to each his own.)

garlic_oilRECIPE: Spicy Garlic Croutons

  • 4 slices of bread cut up into cubes  (I like Udi’s gluten free whole grain millet, but anything will do)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp red chile flakes
  • 6-8 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


In a small saucepan, heat up olive oil with chopped garlic and red chile flakes. Remove from heat just before garlic starts to brown. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange bread cubes close together on a sheet pan and drizzle with hot garlic oil, a little salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly (be careful, the oil is hot!). Taste to make sure the seasonings are right and then spread out croutons on the sheet. Bake for approximately 12 minutes, tossing once. Keep your eye on them so they don’t get too brown.

kale_tahiniASSEMBLY: In a large salad bowl, toss kale with the amount of dressing and croutons you like. This keeps pretty well in the fridge, but you might want to reserve the croutons just before serving, in that case. Enjoy!



Smoky Tomato Salsa

Salsa is just about the best condiment on the planet – way better than ketchup. It’s fresh, healthy, versatile and can be made a thousand ways. I’ve found the best, most consistent result comes from a combination of sweet, fresh grape tomatoes and organic diced tomatoes. When tomatoes are in season, you can use more fresh. But having the combo allows you to make this all year long. This recipe is my favorite, and I can eat it by the gallon. So, if I were you, I’d double this to have more for later!

RECIPE: Smoky Tomato Salsa

  • 2 containers fresh grape tomatoes
  • 2 cans organic diced tomatoes
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 chipotle pepper (smoked jalapenos canned in adobo sauce)
  • 1-2 jalapenos, deseeded (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 4 scallions
  • 1/4 medium red onion
  • 1 garlic cloves
  • 1 small lime (use 1/2 to start)
  • handful of fresh cilantro (start small; add more as needed)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • salt to taste

red_salsaAdd both kinds of tomatoes to a large food processor. Rough chop the ingredients and add to tomatoes. Pulse until ingredients are they are well blended. You’ll notice that the tomatoes begin to release their water in this fresh, uncooked salsa recipe, so now add the tomato paste – it helps thicken some of that liquid and add a richness to the salsa. If you wish, strain (without squeezing) the excess water before serving. (This is just what happens with really fresh salsa.) Taste and adjust levels of cumin, salt, lime and chipotle pepper. You can add more of any of the ingredients until it’s as spicy and flavorful as you want it. Enjoy!

: You can do the same thing with all fresh yellow tomatoes, leaving out the chipotle peppers and diced tomatoes to retain the bright yellow color. Also, use a sweet yellow onion for this variation.

Kale and Quinoa Salad with Mango & Feta

ingredientsMy friend, Geri, brought me the fixins’ for this salad a few months back because she had picked some fresh kale out of her garden that morning. It blew my mind. It’s one of those dishes that each ingredient is independently delicious, but together it’s even better than the sum of its parts. I’ll do my best to be precise, but from what I understand this recipe has evolved like a game of ‘whisper down the alley’ among a group of Santa Fe friends. No one follows a specific recipe so we all have our favorite variations. But the one I’m posting is Geri’s favorite. (Another friend, Allyn, adds shredded carrots to hers.) I actually like it without the fruit and cheese, but honestly I eat it differently almost every time I make it. Here goes.

kaleRECIPE: Kale and Quinoa Salad with Mango & Feta

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (nice and fluffy)
  • 2 cups kale, shredded/chopped into small pieces
  • 1 mango, peeled and diced
  • handful of fresh, chopped herbs (mint, dill, chives, basil – whatever you have)
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup of crumbled feta (add as much as you like)


  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 TBSP agave nectar, honey, pure maple syrup
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

mixedAdd quinoa, kale, mango, fresh herbs, scallions and feta to a large mixing bowl. Shake all dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid. Drizzle the dressing into the salad a bit at a time until it’s to your liking. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.

NOTE: When I make this salad, I add a little feta each time I dish it out, rather than in the bowl. The feta taste seems to take over the freshness of the salad as it sits in the fridge. Don’t worry if you don’t eat it all in one sitting – this is even better the next day! And I hear it’s great with blueberries instead of mango. Enjoy!