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Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

26 Oct

Shepherd’s pie is pure comfort food. This recipe from Nava Atlas’ Vegan Holiday Kitchen is one of my favorites. Sometimes I substitute crumbled tempeh for the lentils and add a can of diced tomatoes. I almost always add extra veggies like green beans.

Find the recipe here:

photo (17)

Thanks for reading!

Art, Science & The Meaning of Good Food

28 Sep

I used to hate science.

In high school I was in art club. I had dreams of becoming an artist. A designer, a painter, maybe even a sculptor. I made my own clothes and wore them to school. I entered my drawings and paintings into contests and actually won on a few occasions. I made my own jewelry, I sewed quilts and gave them as gifts, I painted polka dots and palm trees on my bedroom walls. I was a creator.

Fast-forward 6 years. Imagine me sitting in a large lecture hall surrounded by pre-med students desperately trying to decipher what the professor was scribbling on the blackboard: organic chemistry. This was the worst of my science-heavy academia, but many similarly technical courses ensued: anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, medical nutrition therapy… you get the picture.

As I was cooking the other day- carefully examining a recipe in one of my new cookbooks while simultaneously improvising with a dash of this and a substitution for that- I started thinking about the opposing forces of art and science. Some of us naturally sway more in one direction than the other. But these are not “gifts”, they are skills, meaning we can become adept at both no matter which way we tend to lean. And, in my opinion,  we all need a little art and a little science in order to be balanced. As I half-followed that recipe, I realized that this opinion is also a perfect description of my philosophy on food.


Food is fuel. (True). Food is memories, connection, and creativity (Also true).The sciences get us what we want (lower blood pressure, weight loss, faster race times). The arts are ends in themselves (the warm fuzzies from a bowl of soup on a cold night, the comforting memory of your grandma’s signature pie). Our relationship with food needs the sensibility of science to keep us healthy. It also needs the expression of art to make us feel alive and connected to our culture, to the people we break bread with, and to ourselves. I’ve seen how things can go awry if either of these aspects is forgotten. Ripping the art out of food leaves us with carbs/protein/fat, calorie counting, chugging lemon/cayenne/maple syrup concoctions, and obsessing over ways to “rev our metabolisms”. All art and no science ignores the compelling research that proves food really can be our medicine. Our disordered interpretation of how we should view and experience food has left us with a broken and abusive relationship with the thing that is meant to nourish us on all levels.

I am cooking much more now (for myself and for True Food clients). The creator in me revels in the vibrant colors, endless flavor combinations, and the reassuring act of producing nourishment for myself and others with my own two hands. The scientist beams with pride knowing that each ingredient, recipe, and final meal was carefully crafted with the intention of improving and supporting health.


Wherever you fall on the science-art spectrum, I encourage you to seek out balance, especially when it comes to food. Without science, we are merely floating into an abyss. Without art, we live a rigid life. As for food, make choices based on what you know will nourish your health (I am confident your intuition will lead you to the right stuff), but don’t forget to create, play, savor, share, and enjoy what’s on your plate.

A soup recipe worth trying:

African Peanut Stew

(adapted from Peas and Thank You)

The Science: a meal of soup will fill you up (fiber- and water-licious!), fuel you up (nice balance of complex carbs, healthy fats, and plant proteins), and make you feel great (loads of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants up in here).
The Art: a blend of the vivacious colors of nature, varying textures, and punchy flavors will have you smiling and “mmm..”-ing until the final spoonful.


  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 T. curry powder
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 T. minced ginger (or 1 t. ginger powder)
  • 2 t. minced garlic
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of cayenne
  • 1 14 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes, in juice
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2 c. vegetable stock
  • 2 T. natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. red lentils
  • chopped fresh greens (kale or spinach work nicely)


  • Combine all ingredients except greens in a soup pot on the stove or in a crockpot and simmer until sweet potatoes are tender. Right before serving, stir in greens until wilted. 


In the end, we all need a little of both worlds. The scientist must engage creative thinking to solve his hypothesis and the artist must learn technique to master his medium.

Psst… you still have one more week to win 20 LARABARS! All you have to do is share this post and sign up for the True Food newsletter.

Thanks for reading.

Banana-Berry Chocolate Chip Pancakes My Way

27 Jun

Are you drooling yet?


How about now?

There is no way this stack of ooey gooey deliciousness could be healthy, right? Hold on to your hats because I’m about to deliver the best news you’ve heard all day: these hotcakes are 100% nutritious! If I could reach through the screen and pinch you to prove this is not a dream, I would (it would be a gentle “love pinch”, of course).

About a year ago, a good friend sent this recipe to me in a “you’re gonna love this” email and I’ve been whipping them up once a week ever since. The original recipe is from Minimalist Baker and can be found here. But I’m going to post my adapted version which includes doubling the recipe (naturally) and a few ingredient tweaks.



From a nutrition perspective, my biggest “beef” with pancakes is the lack of protein. Enter Creamy Yogurt Pancake Topping. Problem solved.



In other news, it’s been business as usual this week. I’ve been switching it up a bit on the snack front, so I’m excited to share that with you soon. Also, tomorrow marks the first of what I’m sure will be many wedding adventures! More to come on that too.

And last but not least, Happy Birthday to my beautiful Mamma!


Thanks for reading 🙂

Breaking Bread

3 Sep

Friendships are beautiful things. Old ones provide warmth and comfort; and new ones bestow a gift of excitement and “newness”.

The awkward time between summer and fall is notorious for friendships. It marks a year’s beginning- not of the calendar kind, but of the school kind. Change is in the air. A piece of us clings to warmth and familiarity of summer while the other piece longs for the exciting, fresh start that fall brings. Much like the merging of two seasons’ edges, this “in-between” moment marks a merging of friends- old and new. We find comfort in reuniting with old friends and seek the excitement of meeting new ones.

One of the most intimate acts we can share with other humans is that of sharing a meal- or “breaking bread”. Food is personal, food is cultural, food is symbolic. Food is life.

And what better way to reconnect, or connect for the first time, than by breaking bread.

The Best Breakfast Bread {powered by plants}


  • 2 ¼ c whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 large very ripe banana (or 1 ½ small)
  • 1 zucchini, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • cup (or less) maple syrup, honey or sugar (I used half maple syrup, half honey)
  • egg replacer equal to 1 egg (Option 1: mix 1 tbsp ground flaxseed with 2 tbsp water. Option 2: mix 1 ½ tsp ENER-G Egg Replacer with 2 tbsp water)
  • ¼ cup raisins or other dried fruit (I used dried cranberries)
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts or other nut
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup almond milk or other non-dairy milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

How To:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • In another bowl, mash bananas and combine with shredded zucchini. Add remaining ingredients and mix.
  • Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and gently mix just until combined.
  • Pour into a lightly greased 9×5 in. loaf pan and bake for about 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (My loaf was a little doughy in the middle, in a fabulous kind of way)

  • Cool, slice, add a smear of nut butter.

Mmm… If you make this bread, you are going to have a lot of friends.

I am 3 weeks deep into what I am told will be both the best and worst, most influential and most chaotic year of my life (so far, what I’ve been told is fact). I am officially Kayli, SLU Dietetic Intern.

Luckily, I am not alone. I have friends, both old and new, who will take this journey with me.

Cheers to friends to break bread with.

My time may be sparse, but my inspiration is bountiful. Over the next year (school year, that is) our time together will be limited, but I promise to meet you back here from time to time to reconnect- and I promise that almost every time we reconnect it will revolve around food- naturally 🙂

Thanks for reading 🙂

So Many Mini Vacations

6 Jul

Hey, hey! How was your holiday weekend? Mine was very relaxing! Let’s hop back to Friday and see what I did…

I usually kick off my weekend with yoga, but my favorite Friday class was cancelled (boohoo), so JWD and I walked to the park where I led us through our own practice. With the temp nearly 90, it quickly turned into a hot yoga practice!

After yoga, we whipped up a very quick and delicious creation- Veggie Burger Bowls with Avocado Citrus Sauce (sauce recipe post coming soon!).

In the mix: brown rice, crumbled Amy’s veggie burger, and veggies, topped with one of my favorite super easy creamy sauces.

The veg: Anaheim pepper, carrots, zucchini, and parsnips (use what you have on hand!)

The rest of the evening was spent packing and prepping for the weekend.

Saturday morning started bright and early with Kaldi’s Highlander Grogg (my favorite coffee!) and another outdoor yoga practice. My farmer’s market offers a donation-based yoga class, how great is that?! I get to practice under the trees, then meet up with JWD to buy produce and listen to live music. This is why Saturday morning is my favorite time of the week!


This practice was particularly challenging and sweaty. Perfection. Yoga in the heat is the best because your muscles get very loose and stretchy. I was triumphant in three challenging poses.

crow, birds of paradise, and one legged king pigeon

After the market, we packed up and got on the road to JWD’s parent’s house. The trip was spent reuniting with our oldest friends, hanging at the lake, eating incredible food, and enjoying some great family time.

Our Fourth of July meal was especially incredible!

Roasted beet, tofu, spinach & walnut salad, tomato with basil, Asian slaw, salmon, and broccoli- almost all cooked on the grill. Enjoyed with a Schlafly Pale Ale. So yummy!

We are only going to be home a few days this week and our cupboards are bare! JWD’s mom was nice enough to send us home with her pantry surplus. When we got back to the cocoon, I set to work making a meal plan for the week with the ingredients we have.

M- We made farmer’s market grilled veggie sandwiches. Yum! Mine was open-faced.

+ a TJ’s Reduced Guilt Brownie from the freezer. (Tip: I freeze brownies individually in parchment paper for pre-portioned treats that last longer. It’s much easier to pull one serving out of the freezer than it is to resist diving fork first into a giant brownie pan! Eat them frozen or microwave for 10 seconds.)

T- Grilled Stuffed Zucchini

I sliced this GIANT zucchini in half lengthwise and scooped out the inside. Then I diced up the zucchini insides and mixed it with cooked lentils, spinach and Lemon Parsley Cashew Cream (I’ll post this recipe soon). We stuffed the hollowed-out zucchinis with the mixture and threw them on the grill!

(sorry about the sad, dark iPhone photo)

W- Veggie burger bowls + kale chips (I’m filming a kale chip video for you!)

TH- Tomato basil frittata with all the beautiful basil from JWD’s parent’s garden. (This video is coming soon too)

This week in fitness:

M- Weightlifting session actually happened after driving home and before dinner. JWD motivated me.

T- Hot and sweaty run

W- Weightlifting session

TH- Yoga practice + a run

F- Squeezing in a run before the kickoff of another full weekend

Stay tuned for more adventures, recipes, and videos and LIKE the Running on Sunshine Facebook Page for some brain food!

So many food shots, not enough humans! Must take more people pictures.

Thanks for reading 🙂


Date Night + Forks Over Knives

5 Jun

Hey friends! I hope you had a great weekend.

I wrote a post about the movie Forks Over Knives that I intended to publish on Friday, but my weekend made me rethink and revise what I wrote.

I spend the majority of my time either alone, with JWD, or with my fellow nutrition enthusiasts. We all have the healthy eating thing down pretty well and none of us are following extreme fad diets. We have many well-stocked grocery stores at our fingertips and the amazing local restaurant culture in St. Louis keeps us from darkening the doorways of American chains (i.e. Applebee’s and McDonald’s). So, it is a little too easy for me to forget about the everyday food lives of the typical American.

The typical American is bombarded with the latest diet books, fast food chains, food advertisements with too-good-to-be-true health claims, and nutrition tips and advice everyday. This toxic environment has bred a society that is completely obsessed with health, yet so very unhealthy. Simply put, it has lead to mass confusion.

My weekend away from my nutrition-savvy circle brought me back to the reality of this very problem.

Here are a few questions I got this weekend: Is bread bad or good? How many eggs in a week is too many? How do vegetarians get their protein? Do they need to combine foods? How do I eat healthy at a buffet? What if my grocery store doesn’t carry all of the specialty health products I read about? Is the calorie restriction diet unhealthy?

All of these are very valid questions with complicated answers. I have a bachelor’s in nutrition and these questions even make my head spin! So, today I’m going to attempt to give you my very basic philosophy on nutrition- the guidelines I live by to maintain my health. But first let’s start with a little recap of last week’s date night…

Thursday night was date night for me and JWD. The plan was dinner and a movie.

We started off with a Whole Foods dinner.

This jumble of heaven includes steamed kale, mixed greens, carrots, tofu, roasted sweet potatoes, tabbouleh, Detox Salad, balsamic vinaigrette, and a sprinkle of goat cheese.

Then we headed to the movie theater.

Agreeing on a movie can often be a grueling task in our house, but not tonight. We were both more than excited to see Forks Over Knives.

Please click to watch the Forks Over Knives trailer. It gives me chills!

From the movie’s website:

“FORKS OVER KNIVES examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the so-called “diseases of affluence” that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. The major storyline in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering yet under-appreciated researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.”

The “diseases of affluence” they are referring to include obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. These diseases are more common among the affluent because people tend to adopt the “Western lifestyle” as their economic status improves (i.e. less physical activity, more animal products, more indulgences, etc.)

As it says, the film documents the work of two men, one a nutritional scientist and the other a medical doctor, who each discovered through separate research that people with higher intake of animal products are more likely to develop cancer and other diseases than people who eat a plant-based diet. The film also chronicles the stories of patients who have reversed their diseases by switching to a plant-based diet.

I LOVED this film!!

My Thoughts:

{Dr. Campbell, Ph.D. and Dr. Esselstyn, M.D.}

These two men  grew up on farms- their families’ livelihoods depended upon people eating animal products. They aren’t hippies. They aren’t tree-huggers. They aren’t extremists. They didn’t begin their careers with a predisposed belief that animal products are unhealthy. They simply made this discovery through critical scientific research. Their discoveries challenged their own core beliefs, but they couldn’t deny the evidence.

I must admit that dietitians and “nutritionists” are as much to blame for the confusion as other healthcare professionals. The only dietitian in the film was on the opposing side. *sigh* I sunk down in my seat a little when she was giving her opinion that we need animal protein to be healthy and eliminating it puts us at risk for deficiencies. This is not the opinion of all dietitians, but I’ve heard it echoed by many. This is not an opinion I share.

Forks Over Knives gives a fascinating look inside an area of research that gets little media attention. Through the personal stories in the film, it shows that a plant-based diet really does work and anyone from an Ultimate Fighter to a 50-year-old woman with breast cancer can benefit from it.

Now it’s time for me to share my nutrition philosophy. Because the realm of health and nutrition has falsely been made to seem mystical and confusing, you may be astounded at how simple my philosophy is. I live by the words of Micheal Pollan, author of In Defense of Food “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Eat Real Food.

Real food is simple. Real food is whole and unprocessed. It is not fancy. It is not “manufactured” in a lab. It does not have magical health claims plastered all over its packaging. In fact, it probably doesn’t even have packaging. Real food is apples, spinach, carrots, brown rice, beans, peas, lentils, and avocados. If your diet is made up of a variety of real food, you don’t need to worry about the extensive nutrition vocabulary- words like antioxidant, amino acid, trans fat, etc.

Not Too Much.

This one is a toughy in our current food climate. As a society we have completely lost sight of appropriate portion sizes. We are so used to being served a platter of pasta at restaurants, that the 1-cup appropriate pasta serving seems tiny. This is one of the ideas behind the new plate that has replaced the Food Guide Pyramid. It gives people a visual of appropriate food portions in relation to other food groups. It is similar to the strategy I use. I always fill at least half my plate with fruits and vegetables. I’ll talk more in depth about the new plate in an upcoming post. For a rundown on portion sizes, check out this post.

Mostly Plants.

This final guideline brings us full circle back to the film. Forks Over Knives suggests that by eating mostly plants, we can prevent and cure diseases of affluence. It is a myth that humans need animal products to be healthy. More and more research is showing that we are healthier without animal products. These diseases of affluence are basically nonexistent in parts of the world where animal products are minimally consumed.

So why isn’t this common knowledge? The meat and dairy industry (along with all processed food companies) are extremely large and powerful, and they aren’t afraid to exercise their power on our government. I’ll save the political discussion for another day. In the conditions of our current society, healthy plant-eating people aren’t worth much money to the food industry/pharmaceutical industry.

Eating a diet of real food, mostly plants, and exercising portion control is so incredibly simple. However, it is perceived as extreme because it is so drastically different from the typical American diet. I know that following these three guidelines leads to health and vitality. I know this from my personal experience, my studies in nutrition, and the research of others.

Because our current food society makes this simple idea so complicated, I am on a mission to simplify it. I want to show you that eating healthy is not complicated, technical, or extreme.

Paraphrasing Dr. Esselstyn from the film- “most people scoff at a plant-based diet because it is “too extreme”, but isn’t having your chest split open for heart surgery pretty extreme?”

GO SEE FORKS OVER KNIVES {check here to find a theater near you}

and thanks for reading 🙂


We Go Both Ways

26 May

Happy Thursday! I hope the sun is shining where you are because it certainly isn’t shining here…

We’ve had quite the tumultuous weather in STL this spring. I had to gather kitties and electronics into the laundry room THREE times yesterday because of severe weather. Gracie was glued to her mommy’s side.

My heart goes out to those impacted by the devastating storm in Joplin, MO. Such a tragedy.

On this gloomy day I find myself dreaming of somewhere warm and sunny. sigh…

I guess a warm bowl oatmeal will have to do.

Kayli’s Classic Oatmeal

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats, cooked in water on the stove-top
  • A splash of almond milk added at the end of cooking
  • 1/2 a banana, sliced
  • 1-2 T walnuts
  • cinnamon + stevia to taste

When the weather is dreary, I have no excuse not to sit inside and work! Lucky for me, part of my “job” is kitchen experimentation!

One of my favorite things to do is make meals that “go both ways”. JWD is a part-time vegetarian. I’m a little more than part-time, but a little less than full-time. We’ll call me a 4/5-time vegetarian. ANYWAYS, there are many days when JWD wants something meaty and I am not feeling omnivorous (how do ya like that $10 word??). So, a meal that “goes both ways” is necessary!

Last Tuesday we were faced with this very predicament. I made this incredible Easy Tomato Basil Cream Pasta from Oh She Glows. It was so good and so easy!


I split the pasta into two portions and added crumbled tempeh to my portion and homemade turkey meatballs to JWD’s portion.

Easy, Healthy Homemade Turkey Meatballs


  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup oat bran (breadcrumbs will also work)
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • about 6 T fresh herbs or 3 T dried herbs of choice. I used dried basil, oregano, and thyme
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper


  • Preheat oven to 400* F
  • Mix together egg, oat bran, onion, garlic, herbs and spices until well combined.

  • Add ground turkey and mix well. You may have to get down and dirty and use your hands.
  • Form equal-sized meatballs with hands or ice cream scoop and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet (or a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet).
  • Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until browned and cooked throughout. Keep an eye on them because over-cooking will result in dry, hard meatballs.

I then added the meatballs to a pot of heated pasta sauce for more flavor. We’re using the leftovers as a topping choice for a build-your-own pizza party tonight!

No more fretting when someone in the family (or you) decides to eat less meat! Adapting meals is easy peasy- we do it all the time. Maybe I should make “we go both ways” meals a regular topic around here.

**REMINDER: Don’t forget to “Like” the Running on Sunshine Facebook page for a bigger dose of food, fitness, and fun!**

Thanks for reading 🙂

Time To Unwind

13 Mar

I am a little over 48 hours in to my spring break, and I am already loving every minute of it! Definitely running on sunshine this weekend! The past few weeks have been quite hectic (hence the negligence of my beloved blog). It was such a relief to wake up with a clear mind and the day at my fingertips to do with what I please!

True to form, I’ve already made a list of goals for my week off (and have already accomplished many of them). You didn’t think I was just going to sit around and relax, did you?! As a matter of fact, being busy and productive is relaxing to me. Sitting on the couch watching TV? Not so much. So, here’s a glance at my “To Do” list for the week:

  • CLEAN! the cocoon (that’s what I call our little apartment). This one has been checked off already. Saturday was Kayli + Mrs. Meyer’s vs. the dust bunnies. The dust bunnies lost.

  • WRITE! This includes some much needed therapeutic blogging and a few side projects I’m working on. This also includes a non-writing project. Keep your eyes peeled for the first Running on Sunshine video post 🙂
  • COOK! When I am well-rested and not being pulled in a million directions, my creative energy is always running on high. I am so excited to get in the kitchen and play this week.
  • ORGANIZE! I am a sucker for organization tools and tips. I could browse realsimple’s home & organizing tab all day.
  • YOGA! I kicked off my spring break with the most amazing yoga practice on Friday. Sadly, I’ve been neglecting my yoga practice since school started up again. Even though it’s been so long since I’ve had an official (as in not in my living room) date with my yoga mat, I felt right at home. I’m not sure if it was because I had so much built up stress to melt away or if I was just really jiving with the yoga instructor (first time I had a class with her), but it literally brought me back to life. I felt 100 times better walking out of the studio than I did walking in. {Yoga post in the works}



With number one finished, I’m ready to tackle the rest of my list. I’ve already gotten a good start on cooking. Some recent things to come out of my kitchen:

Homemade granola. I used this recipe. I’ve made this many, many times. We can’t get enough of it! This time I was out of cinnamon, so I subbed ginger and it turned out to be amazing!

My favorite way to eat granola is atop nonfat plain greek yogurt.


I also made chili adapted from the recipe for Coco-Coconut Chili in Dreena Burton’s Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan cookbook. I used the recipe as a guide and made a lot of substitution. Here’s what I threw in my pot…


  • 1 T coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • about 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, diced
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 1/2 block tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • ~ 1/4 t allspice
  • 1 heaping T cocoa powder
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1.5 cups black-eyed peas
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • ~1/2 cup corn kernels (I used frozen)
  • the juice of 1 lime

How To:

  • Heat large soup pot over medium with oil.
  • Add onion, celery, peppers, garlic, sweet potato, tempeh, and spices to the hot oil and saute until the onion and celery soften.
  • Stir in cocoa powder
  • Add tomatoes, coconut milk, peas, shredded coconut, and corn to the pot. I added about a 1/2 can of water at this point to make it more soupy. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minute or until the sweet potato cubes are tender.
  • Squeeze the juice of 1 lime into the soup and serve.

I topped mine with crumbled blue corn chips and red chili pepper flakes. It was incredible. Can’t wait to enjoy the leftovers tomorrow. I hardly ever follow recipes exactly. I’m always improvising and substituting. That’s what makes cooking fun! Try it 🙂

I’m off to foam roll my very sore legs. I will see you all later in the week hopefully with a video post (!!) and Workout of the Week.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Taking It Slow

23 Sep

I hate transitions. I’ve never been very good at them. I cried every year on the first day of school (until I started studying nutrition) because I didn’t want to leave summer vacation behind. I’ve always loved school, but making that transition in my daily routine was (is) tough. I hated leaving for summer camp just as much as I hated coming home from summer camp. I am a creature of habit and routine. I like the comfortable and familiar. But change is a necessary and constant part of life. Growth cannot occur without change and new beginnings only happen when you step out into the unknown. So how do I deal with change? I take it slow and steady of course. I find a way to embrace the future while still lingering a little in the past.

The perfect transition from summer to fall–

Whole Wheat Pasta and Spaghetti Squash

with Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes and Chickpeas


– 4 servings of whole wheat angel hair pasta prepared according to package directions

– 1/2 spaghetti squash

– about 1/2 cup store-bought or homemade pesto (**recipe below)

– 1 cup diced heirloom tomato

– 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

– broccoli florets

– extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for drizzling

– salt and pepper

How To:

– Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

– Slice spaghetti squash in half longways and place one half face-down in a casserole dish. Fill casserole dish with a tiny bit of water to create steaming in the oven.

– Place squash in preheated oven for about 35 min. or until inside flesh is tender.

– Meanwhile, spread tomatoes and chickpeas on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or greased). Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Set aside.

– When squash is tender, remove from the oven and let rest for 20 min.

– Pop the tomatoes and chickpeas into the 400 degree oven for 20 min. After 15 min, of cooking, toss broccoli florets with tomatoes and chickpeas and cook the remaining 5 min.

– Gently scrape the flesh of the squash with a fork. It will separate into pasta-like strands. Mix the strands with the whole wheat pasta. Add veggie/bean mixture and toss with pesto.

– Enjoy the delicious combination of summery garden tomatoes and fall spaghetti squash. Mmm… maybe I don’t mind transitions so much after all.

Homemade Pesto Blueprint

Pesto is a delicious, creamy sauce traditionally made from nuts, greens, cheese, olive oil, and garlic.

– 1/2 cup nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds)

– 3 cups greens (basil, spinach, arugula, romaine)

– 1/4 grated hard cheese (parmesan, romano, or nutritional yeast for a dairy-free pesto)

– 1-2 cloves of garlic

– 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

– 1/4 cup water

– salt and pepper to taste

How To:

– Pulse first four ingredients in a food processor until combined

– Continuing to pulse, slowly drizzle in olive oil and water until a saucy consistency is reached

– Add salt and pepper to taste

– Freeze any remaining pesto in ice cube trays

Not only does this meal represent a wonderful progression between seasons, it also represents one of my favorite ways to lighten up comfort foods– add more veggies! Adding veggies is an easy way to lighten up any meal, but it works especially well with pasta. A big bowl of pasta is like being wrapped in a warm, cozy blanket. But calories can add up quickly with pasta and it is a food that is notoriously  over-portioned (1 portion size is 1 cup cooked). By mixing in the pasta-like spaghetti squash, you instantly cut calories. Not to mention, the squash strands soak up the sauce beautifully and impart a subtle sweetness into the dish. I am working on a whole post dedicated to healthifying comfort foods.

Happy Harvest Moon!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Animal-Free (or not) Cookies

17 Aug

I don’t like to put labels on myself or others, but I have no problem labeling my cookies 🙂 but even that label is flexible…

Vegan (or not) Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/3 cup non-dairy (or dairy) milk (I use almond milk)

1/3 cup peanut butter

1 cup organic sugar

1 T canola oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips

*optional ingredients*

dash of cinnamon (the secret ingredient)

1/2 cup chopped nuts

How To:

  • combine first five ingredients and mix until smooth

  • this is where I deviate from the “rules” of baking… dump the remaining ingredients into the bowl and stir until evenly combined (I prefer to keep my dishes to a minimum)

  • drop spoonfuls of dough onto a parchment-lined or lightly greased cookie sheet. Today this batch made 21 medium-size cookies

  • gently flatten the dough balls with your hand

  • pop them in to a 400 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes. I like to pull them out when they’re still a little underdone


Thanks for reading 🙂

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