Pea Pesto Pasta

Today is such an exciting day for me as I have been patiently waiting to share this recipe with you! After so much trial & error I finally came up with a recipe I am proud to call my own. I will be sharing with you my recipe for the perfect pesto pasta that is not only delicious but loaded with a variety of nutrients. Pesto is one of those foods that I know so many people love but it can typically be pretty price to make at home all because of the very pricey pine nuts. Not only is pesto a little pricey to make at home but it is also not the healthiest. Pesto is is typically loaded with olive oil & Parmesan cheese which contributes quite a bit of calories in just a small amount. In order to make this pesto healthier & more cost-effective I made a few changes.

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The BEST Red Salsa

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Today was a very exciting day as I finally got to harvest the peppers I have been growing in my little garden. I have spent so much time & effort into growing my garden because what’s better than homegrown food? The answer to that is absolutely nothing because right away I ran to my kitchen to get to work on a new & improved salsa recipe. I decided to utilize the Anaheim chiles I picked because they were the largest & I know my mom swears by these chiles & her salsa is some of the best I have ever had in my life (I’m not just saying that either mom).  After whipping up the batch today, I will never go back to a salsa where I don’t include the Anaheim chiles. These peppers while mild provide SO much flavor that it tastes like it took hours instead of minutes. The Anaheim chiles add a depth of flavor that according to my boyfriend, is the best salsa I have ever made, I can’t argue with that. There are a few things I did differently this time that made the world of a difference and I am going to share them with you so you can boost your salsa game.

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Mango & Lime Popsicles

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I don’t know about you, but whenever the weather surpasses 90°F I pretty much want to avoid hot/warm foods as much as possible. During the summertime, I tend to like more cold & crisp treats to help cool down as much as possible. With that being said, over the course of the last few weeks, I have been working diligently to perfect these popsicles so it tastes like a summer explosion in your mouth. After lots of trial and error, I finally nailed it. So much so, that I had to make 3 batches several days in a row because Adrian kept eating them even though I told him I needed to do the pictures for them. Mango has always been one of my all-time favorite fruits but I have to admit I don’t always buy them because they can be a pain to cut as they leak their juice all over the place and things can very quickly become messy. I figured these popsicles would be an easy solution to that problem so if you’re like me and don’t like the mess, you can still enjoy the delicious and juicy mangos this season.

Mangos are rich in Vitamins A & C which are powerful antioxidants that help to slow the aging process. They are also a great source of fiber which is important for proper digestion. In addition to the mango, I also added some lime juice which is also rich in Vitamin C but in this case, we just added it for tartness to contrast the sweetness of the mango.

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Depending on how ripe & sweet your mangos are you may not need to do so, but I added in a bit of organic honey to boost the sweetness a bit. Before adding in the honey, I suggest tasting your popsicle mix to see if it needs additional sweetening. If so, add in small amounts and adjust to taste. Ever since I came across this honey at Ralphs, I have been obsessed with the flavor and don’t think I will ever go back to any other brand. I scored this on a special closeout sale which brought the price down to $3.99 which is much better than the regular $10 price tag. If you have a Ralphs near you, I highly recommend you track this honey down to try it for yourself. Anyways, this post is NOT sponsored but I just really really like the flavor of this honey so I figured I would mention it just in case any of you are interested.  Nonetheless, you can use any honey/sweetener you’d like. I will quickly mention that organic raw honey has antimicrobial & anti-inflammatory properties that can be beneficial for those who suffer from seasonal allergies (Adrian has the worst). Although I have previously mentioned I like to utilize maple syrup more because it is minimally processed (if at all), if you can find organic & raw honey then there are also added benefits.

All in all,  these popsicles take about 5 minutes to prep and are as simple as filling in the mold and allowing them to freeze overnight. Prep them in advance and you have a healthy & delicious treat the whole family will love!

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Soy & Lime Veggie Skewers

Veggie Skewers

Since the weather has warmed up, I have been taking advantage of the relatively nice weather and grilling outside. During the warmer months, I prefer to grill because it helps to avoid heating up the house by using the oven. Also, the fact that it gives food a perfectly smokey & delicious char is an added bonus.  Adrian & I have been on a grilled corn kick and the other day when we were waiting for it to finish up, I started thinking about how good skewers would be charred on the grill.  I feel like skewers or kabobs scream summer and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to show you yet another way to incorporate more veggies into your diet in a non-boring way.  Since these skewers do not have meat, I knew that meant I needed to do something to these veggies to make them burst with flavor so that is when I started playing around with marinade ideas. I wasn’t really sure what kind of flavor I wanted them to have, but I just started combining flavors I knew would be delicious. First, I added soy sauce for that umami/salty flavor and then proceeded to add in minced garlic because I can’t think of a time where garlic & soy sauce ever tasted bad. To cut the saltiness a bit, I added in some lime juice for some acidity and lastly included some organic raw honey for sweetness. As I whisked away I continued to taste it to make sure everything was balanced and before I knew it, I had created the perfect balance of sweet & savory. This marinade can really be used for anything but I highly recommend you try marinating mushrooms for these skewers because it will change your life! Since mushrooms are so porous and spongelike, they absorb the marinade very well and pack a lot of flavor into each mushroom.  The longer you marinate these for the better they taste so I would recommend leaving them for as long as you possibly can to maximize the flavor. Now with all that being said, let’s get into the details of this recipe.

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Healthier Hashbrowns

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A few weeks ago, I woke up in the mood for some crispy hashbrowns but decided to try a new method since all my previous attempts have been a failure. In the past, I have attempted to make hashbrowns in the skillet but it usually results in using more oil than is healthy and not the right level of crispiness.  So instead, I decided to try it in the waffle maker because if you think about it both sides are being pressed together which helps to keep them together and to get a crisp outside and soft inside. I gave it a try and it was hands down the best decision I have ever made. The result was perfectly crispy hashbrowns that were still nice and fluffy on the inside. The best part about these hashbrowns is that it uses very little oil and also contains carrots which help to lower the starch content of the potatoes while also contributing vitamin C. These have very quickly become a household favorite and one of my go-to breakfasts.  The carrots help to add a slight sweetness as they become crispy and takes these hashbrowns to another level.  They can be made in advance and stored in the freezer and when you’re ready to eat them you can heat them on the skillet for a quick breakfast. Now that you know why these are a better choice, let’s get into what you will need to make them yourself.

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Chilaquiles

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One of my all-time favorite brunch items is chilaquiles because for one it’s an excuse to have tortilla chips for breakfast, and two they are so easy & almost effortless to make. Today I will FINALLY be sharing with you my recipe for the most delicious chilaquiles you have ever tasted. It’s taken me some time to get around to posting this but only because I was finishing up the last of my spring semester. I am happy to say that I completed the final 2 courses I needed in order to apply for my masters! It feels so good to finally say that as I honestly didn’t think I would survive this last semester. Now that I am done with school, for now, I will finally be able to get back to what I love and give Life at the Mesa my full attention. In my absence, I have been working on various recipes so as the weeks go on I have many new exciting recipes to share with you. Anyways, if you made it this far then I’m sure you just want the deets on these amazing chilaquiles so let’s go ahead and jump straight into the recipe.

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Double Chocolate Muffins

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Almost immediately after I posted the recipe for my orange-chia & chocolate chip muffins I started thinking about trying to make double chocolate muffins. A few days after I posted that recipe I got to work on developing this recipe and very rarely does it happen that after the first batch it’s perfect but this recipe was. The first time that I made it, it was an absolute hit from the get-go. I tried this recipe out on members of my study group for Ochem, my friend’s parents/sibling, and of course my loyal guinea pig Adrian who is the greatest partner a girl could ask for. After so much ranting and raving I decided to make another batch just to be sure of the quality and OH MY GOSH. This recipe is incredibly moist, filling, and decadent. If you’ve been with me from the beginning, you would know that there is always a catch with my recipes. I always strive to create healthier versions of classic recipes and this one, in particular, is completely free of refined sugar just as all my recipes on here typically are. As usual, I substituted refined sugar for wholesome and delicious dates. But this recipe is so special because I utilized dates from the community I grew up in. I grew up in a very small agricultural town called Brawley and in making your way to Brawley, there is an even smaller town called Westmorland. It is quite possibly the smallest town in California, but they are well known for their delicious dates. The particular shop I adore is called the Westmorland Date Shake and obviously based on the name, they are known for their amazing date shakes. However, I recently learned that they are now selling their delicious dates online that you can order which is why I am mentioning them for the first time in this blog. Their dates are superior BY FAR to those that can be found in the produce section of the grocery store and can now be conveniently ordered to your home! I mention this because I truly think the quality of their products made all the difference in this recipe. One of the greatest compliments I received for this recipe was “you don’t even need milk” and that is one of the greatest things a baker can be told. So if you’re not already intrigued to try this recipe then let’s discuss the nutritional value of it.

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Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

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Growing up, I used to spend hours watching the Food Network. Some of my favorites were Giada De Laurentiis, Rachel Ray, and Ina Garten. I would sit there in front of the t.v. like a sponge absorbing everything they said and keeping their flavor combinations in mind. Very seldom would my mom ever follow their recipes but there is one I remember and still think about and that was Rachel Ray’s chicken tortilla soup. What stood out to my mom and myself about her chicken tortilla soup was the use of chorizo in the base of the soup. It looked so good and as we sat there salivating for the remainder of the show, we decided to give the recipe a shot. Let me just say that was the best chicken tortilla soup I had ever had. Fast forward to now and obviously, I realize that a vast majority of the recipes Rachel Ray and for that matter, any other Food Network chef made weren’t very healthy. Naturally, I decided to make it my mission to lighten it up a bit and so about a few months ago I had one of my good friends over and I made my version of the chicken tortilla soup and he absolutely loved it. Instead of utilizing regular pork chorizo which is high in saturated fat, and cholesterol I swapped it for soy chorizo. In addition, I also added in black beans for extra fiber and protein.

Although my version of the chicken tortilla soup was a huge hit, I got to thinking if I could make a vegetarian version that would be just as delicious. Now, if you wanted to still make this a chicken tortilla soup, all you need to do is swap out 1 cup of beans and 1 cup of quinoa for shredded chicken (total of 2 cups). After lots of tasting and tweaking, I found a winner and man is it satisfying. Today I will be sharing with you my recipe for my vegetarian tortilla soup.  In order to create a soup that would be hearty and feeling just like traditional chicken tortilla soup, I decided to use quinoa because as I have mentioned many times before, quinoa is one of the only plant-based options that is considered a complete source of protein. Quinoa is a grain that contains all nine of the essential amino acids we must obtain from our diet which is why I decided to use it in place of the chicken. Quinoa is also high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals so it’s a great way to boost this soup. In addition, I also added in some extra veggies for an extra serving of fiber.

This recipe is so easy and comes together in a total of 30 minutes as it is just a matter of dumping things into a pot and allowing them to simmer together. The longer it sits for, the better it tastes as it gives the flavors a chance to combine. Now let’s get into all that you will need to make this dish.

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Flatbread Two Ways

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Superbowl Sunday is fast approaching and if you’re hosting the party, chances are you’re looking for ideas on what to feed your hungry guests. Well in combination with my panko crusted cauliflower wings,  I think these flatbreads will be the perfect appetizers to serve your guests. Not only are they vegetarian-friendly, but they are also packed with flavor so that even your picky eaters will never notice the difference. Flatbread has been a recipe that I have been playing around with for such a long time and after going back and forth between using whole-wheat flour & regular flour, I ultimately decided to stick with all-purpose because nothing else compares.

Now, as much as I talk about making healthy choices and their importance of contributing to a long and healthy life, I also want to be sure to share with you the importance of balance. I’m someone who does not restrict and if I feel like having a piece of cake or a cookie, I let myself have it. Why? Because when you allow yourself to have little indulgences here and there, it helps to prevent you from going overboard. So for that exact reason, I don’t feel bad about sharing with you this delicious recipe for flatbread that is not whole-grain but sure does make you feel good inside.

Just because I decided to stick with traditional white flour for this recipe, that does not mean that this recipe is not healthier than flatbread you would get at a restaurant. Instead of focusing on making a completely nutrient dense crust that would have probably tasted very similar to cardboard, I decided to deduct some extra calories by being more mindful of the amount of cheese and oil I used as well as by using my own marinara sauce. By making your own flatbread at home, you are able to control the amount of cheese and oil you put into it because it is your own version. I am so excited to share these with you as they were definitely a crowd pleaser! Now let’s talk ingredients.

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Gluten-Free Lemon Basil Pasta Salad

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In about 2 weeks, I will be heading back to school to complete the last few classes I need to apply for my master’s program. As time is of the essence, I’m on the hunt for recipes that are quick, easy, and nutrient dense. If you can relate, then I think you will appreciate this recipe because it takes under 30 minutes to make, is loaded with a variety of nutrients, and won’t break the bank. The recipe I will be sharing with you is my gluten-free lemon basil pasta salad.

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