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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Stuffed Zucchini (Two ways)

Zucchini boats (two ways)

In the last few weeks, I have spent so much time working on various recipes but sometimes they take longer to develop than others. The process of running a food blog is that of trial and error. I would say most of the time, the process of creating recipes is fairly straight forward but that’s not always the case. The last few recipes I have tried to nail have been an absolute headache, but I wanted to put out something I knew would be easy and delicious and that is how these zucchini boats came to be. Now, I personally tend to eat more vegetarian style on a day-to-day basis but I wanted to give you a healthier option that also contained leaner sources of protein because I realize not everyone centers their meals around veggies. So with that being said, I have provided a recipe with both a vegetarian option and a ground turkey version so that way no matter how you eat, you can find something that works for you and your lifestyle. In addition, these are also great if you are being mindful of your carb intake which can be important if you are prediabetic or full-onset diabetic. However, even if you’re like me and obsessed with everything carbs, you will love these because they are absolutely delicious and definitely do not taste “healthy”.

These zucchini boats are so incredibly easy and more importantly packed with tons of flavor. They come together in 30-40 minutes and are perfect to prep in advance for a busy week ahead. I packed them to take to work a few days in a row just because they were so easy, filling, & nutritious.  I didn’t bake the zucchini for too long because I wanted them to maintain their shape so you could eat it like a taco if you want.  That’s how I ate them and I basically shoveled them into my mouth one after another because they’re that good.  I definitely think they’re worth a try and keep in mind like all my other recipes, you can sub whatever veggies you have on hand. Now that I’ve rambled on long enough, let’s get into what you will need to make the 2 variations of these zucchini boats.

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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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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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Falafel + Yogurt Sauce Recipe

 

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Happy Sunday!

I hope you have all had a wonderful and refreshing weekend after what I’m sure has been a busy week for everyone. I myself have had quite the last two weeks so I made sure to spend some time pampering myself this weekend. One of my favorite things to help me decompress is to develop new recipes. When I’m in the kitchen it’s like all of my sources of stress disappear and I find myself to be calm, cool and collected.  This weekend I had a flood of recipe ideas that I can’t wait to share with you because you are going to LOVE them! For today, I will be sharing with you one of the recipes I finally perfected after much time and that is my beloved falafel recipe. The first time I had falafel was in a local Greek restaurant in the form of a pita sandwich. I loved how filling and fresh it was and couldn’t stop thinking about it for a while. I decided to give making them at home a shot with one major modification– I would avoid deep frying them in oil. One of the best parts about falafel is the crispiness of the falafel itself, but I figured I could make them just as delicious by simply pan-frying them instead. After making a few tweaks to the recipe I finally landed on a winner and today I get to share it with you. These falafels can be used to make lettuce wraps, pita sandwiches, salads, and so much more as they are extremely versatile. They provide a healthy serving of fiber and plant-based protein along with an abundance of vitamins and minerals. These falafels require very minimal heating which makes them great as we dive deeper into the warm weather season!  I especially like to make these at the beginning of the week to keep them in the fridge so I can quickly make a meal. The necessary ingredients are very minimal which also makes this recipe incredibly budget-friendly! Let’s get started by getting into what you will need to make this recipe.

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Orange-Chia & Dark Chocolate Muffins

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Happy Saturday!

I usually don’t post recipes on the weekends because typically they are my only days off from work and school but this week has already been so unlike my typical week I figured why not. I have spent the last week studying EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. for all the exams I have coming my way. With that being said, I have been attempting to develop recipes MORE because for me cooking is a way to decompress and to relieve some tension. Nothing makes me happier than experimenting in the kitchen and boy was this recipe an experiment. The inspiration for this recipe started about 3 weeks ago when I was thinking about a cake my mom used to make because it was my grandma’s favorite. The cake is called Williamsburg cake and essentially it is a vanilla cake with orange zest, walnuts, and cream cheese frosting. It is absolutely incredible and one of my all time favorite cakes. Anyways, as I was thinking about it I thought what if I could make that into muffin form and of course without using refined sugar because that’s what I like to do. I love to healthify some of my favorite recipes and while I did that, I also made some tweaks and ended up coming up with a muffin recipe that isn’t exactly similar to my grandma’s favorite cake but they are SOOOO good.

After playing around with different variations I ultimately decided to swap out the walnuts for the more affordable chia seeds. Chia seeds are a great source of fiber, protein, and a variety of micronutrients (ex. magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and manganese). On top of swapping out the nuts, I decided to switch out the all-purpose flour for some whole-wheat flour which adds in the B-vitamins which play a role in the health of our hair, skin, and nails. Last but not least, I decided to throw in some dark chocolate chips because who doesn’t love chocolate and more importantly because dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants which help to fight signs of aging. With all that said, I have to tell you that this recipe is the product of lots of trial and error and about 3 “bad” batches. I spent hours in the kitchen trying to get it right and after the 4th or 5th time I finally got it right. So often prepackaged muffins are loaded with refined sugar which is not horrible from time to time but I wanted to provide you with a recipe that you could have for breakfast, as a snack or even as a dessert that would contribute more than a spike in your blood sugar. The orange packs a punch while the chia seeds give a slight crunch and the dark chocolate is unbelievable in combination with both. All in all these muffins are incredibly moist and will blow your mind. Get ready for the best muffin recipe you’ll ever try, I know that’s a bold statement but that’s how good these muffins are.

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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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