Yellow Squash Noodles (“Squashetti”)


“Squashetti” noodles served with brown rice and teriyaki meatballs

Cook’s notes: Make the vegetable “noodles” with a spiralizer device (I use a KitchenAid attachment) or a julienne peeler. Saute lightly in olive oil for a few minutes until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

You can serve spiralized veggie noodles with any sauce you would put on regular pasta.


The Slender Kitchen site describes 3 ways to make these noodles with different tools. The about Southern Food site has a lovely recipe for these noodles with garlic and parmesan.


Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chickpeas

Cook’s notes: Modified from a Minimalist Baker recipe. I usually cook sweet potatoes in the microwave for convenience, but you really can’t beat the caramelization of the sweet potato when they roast in the oven. The chickpeas are delicious. This dish goes well with sauteed spinach or a salad.

2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed with peel on
Olive oil
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
Salt and pepper
Cheddar cheese for serving

Line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat (silicone liner). Heat the oven to 400F.

Cut the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Oil the cut face of the sweet potatoes and place them face-down on the lined pan. Lightly spray their tops with cooking spray. Pierce potato backs several times with a fork.

In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, 1.5 teaspoons of olive oil, and the spices. Stir well to combine, making sure the chickpeas are coated well. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Spread them on the pan around the potato halves.

Bake 25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and roasted through. (If needed, remove chickpeas from the pan and continue roasting remaining sweet potatoes for another 10 minutes.)

Peel the sweet potato halves after they are cooked. Break the potato surface with a fork. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and pile the chickpeas on top.

Tomato Chickpea Soup



Soup… hard to photograph, but easy to eat

Cook’s notes: Slightly modified from the Love & Lemons blog, which called this “the perfect pantry soup…This soup tastes better the longer it sits (especially the next day)… so this would be a great one to make in advance.” The balsamic vinegar gives it a sweet taste; no extra sugar is needed.


1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion (or half of a large one), chopped
2 orange bell peppers, seeded and diced
2 big garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 teaspoon each sweet and smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar)
14-oz. can diced tomatoes, with their juice
1 teaspoon dried thyme
14-oz. can (2 cups) cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
14-oz. can light coconut milk
1.5 cups vegetable broth (use the empty coconut milk can to measure it)

Heat oil in a medium pot. Add the onion, bell peppers, garlic, a few pinches of salt and pepper, and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the paprikas and cook until fragrant (30 seconds or so).

Add balsamic vinegar and stir. Add the tomatoes and thyme. Stir, then add the chickpeas, coconut milk, and broth. Cover and gently simmer for 20-30 minutes. Uncover and let cool slightly.

Transfer to a blender and roughly puree. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve with extra balsamic.


Peppermint Hot Chocolate

IMG_2199Cook’s notes: I posted a version of this recipe several years ago that used two kinds of syrup (Peppermint Hot Cocoa, Syrup Version). This version includes two kinds of chocolate. The maple syrup seems to intensify the chocolate flavor. If you don’t have maple syrup, use either 1 Tablespoon honey or 4 teaspoons white sugar (you need to use 1/3 more sugar than maple syrup). Guittard does not add milk to their chips, but if you need certified vegan chips, I recommend the Enjoy Life brand.

1 cup almond milk
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (Droste Dutch Processed Cocoa)
1.5 Tablespoons extra dark chocolate chips (such as Guittard)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract

Microwave the almond milk in a glass measuring cup for 2 minutes on High.

Place the cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and salt in a mug. Add a splash of  hot almond milk; stir until chocolate chips are melted and the chocolate mixture is thick and smooth.

Add the remaining hot milk, maple syrup, and peppermint extract. Stir to combine.

Top with whipped cream and serve hot.



Healthy Makeover: Texas Sheet Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Healthier cake is still delicious

Healthier cake is still delicious

Cook’s notes: I made this cake for a friend who loves the combination of chocolate and peanut butter. I couldn’t bring myself to make the original Texas Sheet Cake, which has a huge amount of sugar in it. The cake turned out terrific, and several people asked for the recipe.

Note that the cake is vegetarian, due to the yogurt, but the frosting is vegan. You can easily make the cake vegan by using a vegan yogurt.

Serve extra frosting in a bowl on the side for dipping with pretzel sticks. It’s also great spread on graham crackers topped with banana slices.

Texas Sheet Cake – Healthy Makeover

Recipe from “Chocolate Covered Katie,” who says, “yogurt gives the cake moisture and softness without all the added fat, and I’ve cut way back extensively on the sugar as well. The result is a rich and surprisingly healthy chocolate cake with fewer than 60 calories per serving.

  • Gluten-free
  • Vegetarian (but not vegan, due to yogurt)
  • Eggless

1 cup “Cup for Cup” gluten-free flour blend
6 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup granulated sugar [vegan sugar preferred]
1/2 cup yogurt (plain, fat-free Greek yogurt)
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Peanut butter frosting, see below

Heat oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 13 x 9 jelly roll pan or baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the first 5 dry ingredients very well (flour to sugar).

In a separate bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients. Pour wet into dry and stir until just evenly combined, then pour into the greased pan. Bake 18-19 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean.

Healthy Peanut Butter Frosting

This will make approximately 2 cups of frosting, depending on how much almond milk is used. Recipe is vegan.

2/3 cup natural peanut butter, crunchy style
4 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
8 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Tablespoons vanilla almond milk, use more to change desired consistency

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the peanut butter, cocoa powder, honey, vanilla, and 2 Tablespoons of almond milk. Mix together. Continue to add almond milk in one tablespoon increments until you reach the desired consistency of frosting.

Simple Spinach Smoothie for One

Makes 20 oz.

Makes 20 oz.

Cook’s notes: Sometimes you want a simple smoothie without a ton of ingredients. This one fits the bill, and almost everything in it is 1 cup.

Makes enough for one tall glass (about 20 oz.)

1/2 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
8 whole, raw almonds
1 cup (30 g) raw baby spinach
1 cup frozen blueberries without added sugar

Add all ingredients in the order they are listed (from liquids to soft to hard to ice) to the Vitamix container. Secure the lid.

Turn the machine on to Variable speed 1 and slowly increase to speed 10. Turn the machine to High.
Use the tamper to push ice into the ingredients as needed.
Blend for about 45 seconds or until desired consistency is reached. Serve immediately.


Adapted from The Anti-Detox Diet on (added spinach; increased yogurt; omitted honey). No extra sweetener is needed.

NOTE: This recipe has been written for the Vitamix 5200 with Standard 64-ounce container. If you are using a different machine, you may need to make adjustments to the speed or processing time. Know your blender and don’t overload the machine.

DISCLOSURE: This post is not sponsored by anyone. I paid for any products listed here and liked using them. This is my personal blog, and I am not compensated to create posts.

Small Batch Russian Dressing Dip

Russian dressing dip is excellent with baby carrots

Russian dressing dip is excellent with baby carrots

Cook’s notes: This healthier version of a popular salad dressing doesn’t have any added mayo or sugar. I had a leftover turkey Reuben with some baby carrots, and thought having Russian dressing would be a great dip for the carrots. This recipe is less sweet than commercial dressings.

Makes about 1/2 cup. No added mayo!

1/4 cup red pepper and basil hummus
1/4 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1.5 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons pickle relish
Ketchup to taste (one squirt, up to 1 Tablespoon)

Combine all ingredients in a small container. Stir together until well-mixed.

Marinated Mushroom Tortellini Salad

Cook’s notes: Yes, I know, another tortellini salad on this site. But this one takes advantage of the olive bar and has a great red wine vinaigrette dressing. My favorite grocery store stocks the boxed, dried tortellini, instead of bags of frozen tortellini.

9 oz box tortellini
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved.
12 oz bag fresh broccoli florets (the “steam in bag” type)
1 cup (1/2 large) yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup green olives, diced
1 cup marinated mushrooms, halved
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Red Wine Vinaigrette Dressing
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

Cook to tortellini according to package directions. Drain it.

Prepare the vegetables while the tortellini cooks: Steam the broccoli. Lightly sauté the pepper and carrots in a large skillet. Slice the olives and mushrooms.

Combine the vinaigrette dressing ingredients in a lid with a jar. Secure the lid, and shake well to combine.

Combine the drained tortellini, vegetables, and cheese in a large bowl. Pour about 1 cup of the dressing over the salad, and stir well to combine (you will have dressing left).

Refrigerate overnight. Add more vinaigrette to taste the next day when serving.

Menu: A Southern Vegetarian Brunch


So many great flavors

Cook’s notes: This wonderful breakfast was inspired by several recipes in The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook, from the authors of the Chubby Vegetarian blog. The recipes emphasize produce and dairy products, rather than fake meat. There are quite a few intriguing recipes in this book: Lemon Zest and Thyme Pimento Cheese, Rosemary-Lemon Cookies, and of course, their cornbread are on the short list to try.

We were out of eggs that day, but I’m sure scrambled eggs would be a great addition to this meal. The mushroom and sweet potato mixture goes well the next day with leftover Chinese food and brown rice, by the way.

Game plan: Start by marinading the mushrooms, then make the biscuits and the other items.


  • Maple Mushrooms: Follow the recipe posted on the Chubby Vegetarian site
  • Big Buttermilk Biscuits, spread with cheddar cheese
  • Tomato Topping: Wash and dice an organic heirloom tomato. Place tomato in a bowl and sprinkle with 7-2-2 seasoning mix (7 parts kosher salt, 2 parts ground black pepper, 2 parts granular garlic). Let sit for 20 minutes to combine flavors.
  • Sweet potato: Scrub 2 sweet potatoes and pierce them with a fork. Microwave the sweet potatoes on the Potato setting until done. Cut in half and let cool. Peel and diced the cooked sweet potato; discard the potato peelings. Sprinkle the diced sweet potatoes with cinnamon.

Curry Tomato Soup with Chickpeas

Cook’s notes: Man, I love me some chickpeas. This is wonderful soup from cooking expert Pam Anderson. If you like Indian food, you’ll love this soup. It is wonderfully mild but flavorful and comes together quickly. You can, of course, use a hotter curry powder to intensify the heat. I used fat-free evaporated milk. To make it vegan, use coconut milk or any other non-dairy milk.

Pam Anderson says, “Add a little frozen spinach to the pot …  just look at the healthful meal you’ve made in just minutes. Why open a can of soup when something from scratch is this simple to pull off?”

The recipe makes 6 generous cups, serving 4. Note that the curry flavor intensifies overnight. Follow the recipe as written on Three Many Cooks