Guilt-free Whole Wheat Banana Farro Bread

Lately I’ve been a little obsessed with farro. It’s a whole grain with a nutty flavor similar to brown rice, but larger and has a more substantial bite. It is rich in fiber, magnesium and vitamins A, B, C, and E. I’ll post some farro-centric recipes in the near future, but I thought I’d start with a banana bread that is free of oils and uses primarily fruits to sweeten the batter. The addition of oats with the farro gives this bread a great, satisfying texture.

banana-breadRECIPE: Guilt-free Whole Wheat Banana Farro Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oats (2 TBSP reserved)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup of overripe banana, mashed
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup cooked farrow
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk (almond, goat, skim or coconut)

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350. Coat a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. In large mixing bowl combine banana, applesauce, syrup, egg, milk and vanilla until well mixed. In a separate bowl, add flour, oats, farro, walnuts, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined, being careful to not overmix. Pour batter into pan, sprinkle the top with oats and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake. Wrap leftover bread tightly to keep from drying out. Enjoy!

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.


Really Neat Mexican Stuffed Peppers

neatandeggsI’m really excited to write this blog post because it features a product I’ve wanted to try ever since I read about it in August. I local family right here in Lancaster County is rolling out a new meat alternative called ‘neat.’ Described as the market’s first shelf-stable, soy-and-gluten-free meat alternative, the goal was to appeal to more than vegetarians; they were looking to create something that would satisfy any meat-etarian, too. More importantly, they were wary of meat stand-ins already out there, which typically contain chemical additives and genetically engineered soy. Neat is a perfectly balanced combination of pecans, garbanzo and white beans for protein, plus organic cornmeal. When you add a little egg (or vegan egg replacement) and a splash of water, you have the fixins’ for an awesome ground beef alternative – perfect for anyone trying to lower their cholesterol through diet. Did I mention it’s delicious, priced comparably to a pound of ground beef, and if you don’t live in Lancaster County, can be purchased on Amazon?

This morning I came home with my very first package of neat. I decided to make stuffed peppers because I had some veggies that I wanted to use and always have organic canned tomatoes on hand. But since neat introduced its product to the marketplace leading with their Mexican mix, that was all I could find – so my stuffed peppers which are usually filled with ground beef and Italian style, turned vegetarian and Mexican on the fly.

RECIPE: Really Neat Mexican Stuffed Peppers
  • pepperingredients1 pkg of neat, prepared per package directions – 2 eggs + 2 TBSP water
  • 1 cup of cooked brown rice
  • 3 bell peppers (I like red, but you can use whatever you like), cut in half, seeds removed and blanched for 5 minutes to soften
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, sides removed and diced (core is discarded)
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes, whizzed in blender for just a moment to break up large chunks (no need to drain)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • dried oregano
  • 1 cup shredded monterey jack, pepper jack or mexican blend cheese
  • scallions chopped for garnish
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

peppermixtureDIRECTIONS: After blanching and draining the pepper halves, arrange on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Broil on high just until the edges of the pepper start to blacken. Remove from oven and set aside. Re-set the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat and brown neat like you would ground beef. Set aside. Add a little more olive oil and add the onion, zucchini, carrots, dried oregano, salt and pepper to the pan. Saute just until veggies start to brown (approx 5 minutes); pour in tomatoes; let simmer for 5 minutes; adjust salt and pepper to taste. Reserve 2 cups of sauce for topping.

peppersuncookedAdd neat and brown rice to the mixture and combine. Spoon mixture evenly among pepper halves. Top with reserved tomato mixture and cheese; bake covered with foil for 45 minutes. Remove foil for the last ten minutes to get a little color on the cheese. Garnish with fresh scallions. Enjoy!

Read more about neat >


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

Guilt-free Key Lime Pie with Coconut Graham Cracker Crust

This recipe is another request from my dear friend Lois. Luckily my sister had recently made a healthy version of a key lime pie, so this one wasn’t much work at all – just a few tweaks from her original because I’m not a huge fan of citrus desserts. And I also think she made hers with a ginger snap crust; all I had were graham crackers in my cupboard. This pie is made primarily from non-fat greek yogurt, so it has tons of protein. Plus, the crust is also completely butter-free…so eat up!

RECIPE: Key Lime Pie with Coconut Graham Cracker Crust

pie-crustCRUST: Do this ahead of time.
Put 10 graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until the crackers have turned into crumbs. Slowly drizzle 5 TBSP melted coconut oil into the crumbs. Press into the bottom of a glass pie dish. You can also make with gluten free graham crackers, if you prefer. Pre-bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Put in the freezer for an hour when it comes out of the oven so the crust will be nice, crisp and cold when you pour the filling in.

pie-uncookedFILLING: Stir these ingredients together.

  • 1 cup of nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1 can of nonfat sweetened condensed milk (this is just as delicious as the full-fat version, but simply made from skim milk instead)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice (depending on how lime-y you like it)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

TOPPING: Stir these ingredients together right before serving.

  • 1 1/2 cups of nonfat greek yogurt
  • 3 TBSP confectioners sugar
  • zest of a lime (reserve 1/2 tsp for garnish)

DIRECTIONS: When the pie crust is baked and chilled, pour the filling into the crust and bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes – it will still be jiggly. Chill pie for at least 2 hours. Just before serving, make the topping and spread an even layer over the pie. Garnish with the reserved lime zest and a slice of lime, if desired. Enjoy!whole-pie

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

Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes with Homemade Peach Syrup

I came up with this recipe one day because I was really tired of the same bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. So instead of pouring the oats into a measuring cup while I was waiting for the water to boil, I threw them into the blender with a couple other things and made a batter. Traditional pancakes have no nutritional value whatsoever – a slurry of cooked white flour slathered in butter and pancake syrup. But this recipe has no flour whatsoever; instead it uses oats for fiber, nuts for protein, hearth-healthy flax seeds topped with homemade peach syrup and a dollup of nonfat greek yogurt for even more protein. Super healthy and really satisfying if you’re craving pancakes but feel guilty veering away from your oatmeal regimen.

blenderRECIPE: Oatmeal Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes with Homemade Peach Syrup

  • 1 cup regular oats
  • ½ cup raw almonds
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP flax seeds
  • ¾ cup blueberries (optional)

Put everything in a blender and blend until fairly smooth, like the consistency of pancake batter. Let sit for 15-20 minutes and add another splash or two of almond milk to adjust the consistency. (Because you’re working with raw oats, they will absorb the liquid the first time around and the batter will get thick after sitting for 15 minutes; that’s why you have to adjust the consistency again.) Cook in greased skillet as you would a regular pancake. If you wish, sprinkle with blueberries before flipping. Makes 3 hearty 6-inch pancakes.

The peach syrup pays homage to my Aunt Ginny and her mother, Alice Hendrick. When she was a little girl, her mother gathered all the peach peelings and seeds which were left over from another peach project (such as pies or canning sliced peaches) and put them into a saucepan with a 2-to-1 ratio of sugar to water – just enough to barely cover the peach trimmings.  After simmering for about 2 hours, watching and testing throughout, the syrup is finished when most beautiful color appears, and the taste and consistency follow.

NOTES: Like most homemade syrups, it will be thinner than actual maple. But if you want, you can continue to cook until it gets closer to a candy stage. Instead of white sugar, I recommend using organic raw sugar or maple sugar. I also added a small pinch of salt and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice as I do to any jam or chutney I make.

The peach syrup pairs perfectly with these pancakes, but pure maple syrup and a dab of butter do just fine if that’s what you have. Either way, enjoy!


Perfect(ly healthy) Chocolate Sauce

I don’t really like to bake, but I really love dessert. And by dessert, I mean chocolate. If there was a way to eat a huge piece of chocolate cake everyday and stay healthy, I’d do it in a heartbeat. So until someone figures that out, I’ve created something to tide us over. It’s simple, healthy, made from clean, whole ingredients. And you don’t have to feel the slightest bit guilty about eating it.

Chocolate sauce is the answer. It’s the perfect way to have your cake and eat it, too. Especially if you’re like me and don’t want to make a whole dessert during the week that you feel obligated to finish just so it won’t go to waste. We are a family of two here at my house, and I work from home. So you do the math on who might consume most of those calories.

Now, back to chocolate sauce. This is the key to making every dessert just a little better. Put it on ice cream, cheesecake, or brownies. Use it as a dip for strawberries, cookies, pound cake, or churros. Even drizzle it over a grilled banana and garnish it with a handful of your favorite nuts. I mean, the possibilities are endless. So tonight by adding a spoonful of chocolate sauce and a sprinkling of sliced almonds, I turned this teeny little dairy free ice cream sandwich* into a decadent dessert to die for.


RECIPE: Perfect(ly healthy) Chocolate Sauce

  • 2 TBSP coconut oil
  • 2 TBSP raw honey
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 2 TBSP nonfat greek yogurt
  • 2-3 TBSP almond milk

Combine the coconut oil and raw honey in a small bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds until it’s melted together. Stir in the cocoa powder until smooth. Once combined, stir in the greek yogurt. Slowly add almond milk to thin out the mixture to the perfect consistency. Because you’re using cocoa powder instead of melting chocolate solids, adding liquid will not cause the sauce to seize up. It’s very easy and completely forgiving. Adjust the amount of cocoa and sweetness to your liking. This recipe makes approximately one cup of sauce. Enjoy!

sandwich-box* The SO DELICIOUS brand of ice cream sandwiches make the perfect size small dessert. They can be found in the natural food freezer section of your grocery store.