Category: Side Dish

Thai Zucchini Noodle Salad

photo credit: Natalie Wiser-Orozco

Sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that make your day.  A smile from someone, a cat purring loudly in your face or even food.  I hate to admit it but food makes my day quit often.  Lately I have been on a tirade with Thai food.

I can not get enough Thai food.  Curry, coconut milk, tamarind, spicy everything.  If I was stranded on a desert island I could eat Thai food the rest of my life.  Oh wait, isn’t Thailand a ton of islands?  I want to be deserted on any one of them.  Now.

In the meantime, I will have to live with making my own at home.

Since the weather has gone from quadrapolar (yes I made that up),  can’t decide what season to be, to I live in an oven hot, cold food is a must.  Cold Thai inspired food equals perfection right now.

Recently my Inland Empire Food Blogger posse came over to share their newest salad creations with me.  I am incredibly lucky to have such talented friends that make to die for food.  I brought this Asian beauty to the table, literally.

My addition was quick, refreshing, spicy, salty and slightly sweet.  You can add grilled chicken to the salad to make it a complete meal.  Whatever you do to this salad just make it.  The dressing is to die for and will quench any Thai cravings you have.  Since it’s low in carbs you can have as much as you want!  Dive in fork first!

Here are the links to the other great salads my friends brought:

Natalie from The Devil Wears Parsley made a Cuban Sandwich inspired salad.


Sue’s Italian inspired Salad from It’s Okay to Eat the Cupcake has home made pizza croutons!

Salad Overhead

Sara’s baja inspired Spicy Watermelon Salad made my mouth so happy, her recipe is posted on her blog My Imperfect Kitchen:

Sara Salad


Thai Zucchini Noodle Salad
Nutrition Information
  • Serving size: 
  • Calories: 85
  • Fat: 3.5
  • Saturated fat: .6
  • Carbohydrates: 10
  • Sugar: 6.4
  • Sodium: 414
  • Fiber: 3.1
  • Protein: 3.9
  • Cholesterol: 0
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Thai
  • 3 zucchini, spiralized or julienned into long spaghetti like strips ( I used a mandolin)
  • ¼ head of red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup crushed roasted unsalted peanuts
  • grilled chicken (optional)
  • For the dressing:
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  1. Whisk all dressing ingredients together and refrigerate for an hour.
  2. To assemble Salad:
  3. Layer the noodles on the bottom, then the cabbage, the carrots, the cilantro, and then the peanuts. Right before serving drizzle the dressing over the salad. For best results, mix dressing into the salad to coat evenly.



Spicy Basil Spaghetti Squash with Sun-dried Tomato

spagetti squash basil oil3_Fotor There are times when cooking dinner is seriously the last thing I want to do at the end of a busy day.  I would rather order a pizza and call it a day.  Ultimately I always regret that decision for many reasons.  First, because of the greasy s@#t storm it creates in my stomach.  Second, because my body just does not do well with that amount of dairy consumed at one time.  It’s a recipe for disaster.  Pun intended. Last night I was scrambling for a dinner idea.  I always keep whole wheat pasta and a jar of organic marinara sauce on hand for emergencies like this.  Only problem is that whole wheat pasta, although great for the boys is not what I want at the end of the day.  I prefer not to eat carbs at a time of day that I can’t burn them. After a quick scan I found a lonely spaghetti squash that was pleading for me to use it.  Normally I would just prepare the spaghetti squash for me, the whole wheat noodles for the kids and use the same sauce for both.  Only problem was that my back up jar had been partially used on tortilla pizzas a couple nights ago.  There was only enough for my two crazies.  So of course I gave them the sauce, the hangrys (hungry+angry=hangry) had already set in. spaghetti squash_Fotor What to do for me?  Fortunately for myself and now beneficial to all of you, I am an advanced pantry recipe developer.  Did you just raise your eye brows and wonder what the heck I was talking about? Basically, I can make something from nothing like nobody’s business.  I attribute it to living on tight budgets for most of my life.  It’s a great skill to possess.

Don’t worry though, as fancy as this recipe sounds, it sooooo simple to make.  Keeping it inline with my new simpler philosophy.  Either bake or microwave the divided squash, then pull the ‘noodles’ out.  Heat the Luna Olivo Basil Olive Oil till shimmering and add a clove of garlic.  Infuse the oil (just let the garlic sit in the hot oil) for a few minutes.  Remove the garlic, add the tomatoes, squash, and red pepper.  Add mozzarella on top.  Done.

You can add chicken or italian sausage for more protein, at that moment I was fine with the mozzarella.  It was quick, tasty, and healthy.  When I made it I served it in the empty spaghetti squash shell, saving me any extra dishes.  Serious bonus, considering I hate dishes. Simple.  Healthy.  Easy Clean up.  Delicious.  All good reasons to have this on standby for your next busy week night.

Disclosure:  I was not compensated for any portion of this post.  Luno Olivo sent me their delicious Basil infused Olive Oil.  I would absolutely suggest purchasing any of their products.  Superb quality, amazing flavor!  Click here to purchase their products.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Spicy Basil Spaghetti Squash with Sun-dried Tomato
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 2 servings
  • Serving size: ½ of meal
  • Calories: 319
  • Fat: 17.6
  • Saturated fat: 7.1
  • Carbohydrates: 27.5
  • Sugar: 11.8
  • Sodium: 246
  • Fiber: 6.3
  • Protein: 13.1
  • Cholesterol: 40
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Simple weeknight healthy dish everyone should add into their rotation.
  • 1 small spaghetti squash
  • 1 whole garlic clove
  • ½ tablespoon Luna Olivo Basil Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, not in oil
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4 oz. of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • pinch of sea salt
  1. Prepare the spaghetti squash, one of two ways. 1. For microwave method: Split in half with a sharp knife. Place face down on a microwave safe plate. Pour ¼ cup of water on the bottom of the place and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 8 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes. Remove from microwave with hot pads. With a fork pull the 'noodles' out of the squash. set aside. 2. For oven method: Split in half with sharp knife. Place face down on a foil covered baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 -40 minutes until flesh can be pierced with a fork easily. Remove from oven and let cool till it is easy to handle. Remove 'noodles' from squash, set aside.
  2. Add the olive oil into a hot large sauté pan. Put the clove of garlic in the pan and let the garlic infuse the oil by swirling it around the oil for 2 - 3 minutes. Remove the garlic.
  3. Add the tomatoes and the red pepper flakes to the oil and sauté for 1 - 2 minutes.
  4. Add the spaghetti squash to the pan. Saute for 2 minutes and add salt. Toss the squash with the ingredients, then remove to two separate plates.
  5. Top each plate with half of mozzarella. Serve immediately.


The Big Book Of Sides – Cookbook Review – Whole Roasted Cauliflower


This is the time of year I spend hours scouring the internet looking for the most impressive side to impress our relatives with at holiday gatherings.  Half the time I get distracted on Pinterest looking at other things besides a mouth-watering side.  Hours later I have nothing to show for it.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a cookbook release event at the Melissa’s Produce test kitchen in Vernon, CA.  The Big Book of Sides by Rick Rodgers was presented to an entire room of hungry bloggers.  We were treated to several recipes from the book, prepared by Melissa’s amazing chefs.  Life as a food blogger does not suck.

bekah rick_Fotor

Rick is an Award winning cookbook author of more than 40 cookbooks.  This isn’t his first rodeo. His past experience has helped create an impressive collection. This compilation of inventive and traditional sides is the only place I will need to look when trying to impress the relatives.

There is something for everyone from stuffing and gravy to homemade green bean casserole and macaroni and cheese.  There are healthy sides and decadent comfort foods.   Even homemade dressings and step by step instructions to the perfect risotto.  If you have any occasion you need to bring a side dish for this book covers it all.

Among the dishes we were served was:

Roasted Beet and Orange Salad


Homemade Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole with Crispy Shallots

green beans_Fotor

Mexican Christmas Eve Salad

christmas salad

Also on the menu was Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Maple Syrup, Butternut Squash and Potato Gratin, and Ricks perfect Gravy.  When I say perfect, I mean perfect.

One of the recipes that jumped off the page and into my kitchen this week was the Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Za’tar Crust (page 67).  Not only would this make a great holiday side, but it is a fast, easy, tasty middle of the week side.  Middle eastern spices mixed with greek yogurt create an almost parmesan like crust over the entire cauliflower head.  If you haven’t decided what to bring to Thanksgiving dinner bring this.  As the description in the book says, “It’s a show stopper!”.  Below you will find the recipe card for this show stopping side dish.

To add this wonderful book to your collection you can click here or on the image below.  The book would make a great Christmas present for anyone who loves to cook or is learning to cook.


Disclosure:  I was not compensated for any portion of this post.  The book was given to my courtesy of Rick Rodgers cookbook launch event.  All opinions are my own.  My opinion is that you should click the link above and get this book into your hot little hands now.  :)

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Za'tar Crust
Nutrition Information
  • Serving size: ⅛ of the head
Recipe type: Vegetable, Side dish
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
This is a show stopper- an entire head of cauliflower roasted with a yogurt topping to a golden brown turn. For such a simple dish, it gets points for its dramatic appearance and complex flavors.
  • ¾ cup low-fat plain yogurt (I used greek)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground sumac
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed through a press
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 head (about 2 lbs) cauliflower, green leaves trimmed
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt, oregano, thyme, sesame seeds, sumac, garlic, salt and the pepper until smooth. Stand the cauliflower on the baking sheet and spread the yogurt mixture all over the top and sides.
  3. Roast until the topping is deep and golden brown and the cauliflower is tender when pierced with a long, thin knife, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cut the cauliflower into wedges and serve.

Simple Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauce 2_FotorSigns are everywhere.  It’s all over our radios, every mall, every store and even our children’s art work. It’s coming like an earthquake in southern California.  The holidays are sneaking up on us and shaking our worlds with reckless abandon.

For some reason 2014 has gone by faster than any other in history.  Wasn’t Thanksgiving a month ago?!  If another person tells me how many days there are till Christmas I think I’ll scream.  I want to live in ignorant bliss.  Although, thanks to my obsessive compulsive tendencies I am fully aware that there are only 35 days till ‘C’ day.  Crap.

But first we have Thanksgiving to deal with.  The first of the over load our belly holidays.  The beginning of the winter weight season.

I know a lot of people go with the theory that everything is ok in moderation.  I personally do not believe in that theory.  Holiday food is a gateway ‘drug’ to, “Oh one of these buckeyes won’t hurt. I never eat like this so it’s o.k”.  At least in my experience it is.  Once I open that can of worms it’s so hard for me to close it.

So I prefer to make versions of holiday food that are healthier and cleaner than their original versions.  Over the next week I am going to try to post as many of them as possible.  We shall see how that goes.  No promises people.

First, I would like to introduce you to the simplest recipe on the face of the earth.  Simple ingredients, simple instructions, simple beauty.  One container of ruby-red cranberries is simmered together with fresh orange juice, ginger and honey.  No high fructose corn syrup here.  The mixture is reduced, and that is it.  Simple cranberry sauce, no fluff.

cranberry sauce simmer_Fotor 2

This sauce should be shown in all its simplistic glory on your Thanksgiving table.  But, should also be slathered on your post Black Friday shopping turkey and stuffing sandwich.  The tart, slightly sweet and tangy condiment will become a new holiday tradition.

I’ll be honest though, there is one thing I will miss about not using canned cranberry sauce.  You guessed it, the darn can lines.  Why are those so appealing?  I guess I should start working on a healthy version of jellied cranberry next.  Then nothing will be missing!

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  There are so many things to be thankful for, especially the little things.  Even can lines on the cranberry.  Those lines mean I can afford to eat.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Simple Cranberry Sauce
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 1 cup
  • Serving size: 1 tablespoon
  • Calories: 27
  • Carbohydrates: 5.7
  • Sugar: 3.4
  • Sodium: .7
  • Fiber: 1
  • Protein: .3
Recipe type: Condiment
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
A simple, clean cranberry sauce sweetened with agave and orange juice.
  • 7.5 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne (optional for the adventurous foodie)
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small heavy sauce pan
  2. Bring to a gentle boil over medium low heat. Cranberries will begin to pop.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer till reduced for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Sauce is done when all cranberries are cooked and resembles a jam like consistency.
Can be stored in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.




7 Minute Hummus

hummus 5Being partially of middle eastern decent you would think I grew up on hummus.  Unfortunately, I did not meet hummus till I was 22 years old.  I will spend the rest of my life making up for its 22 year absence.

I’m going to assume that it was never present in my home due to the regional differences in my heritage.  Or it may have been considered hippy food.  My parents were and are far from being hippies.  How I ended up with a hippy soul I am not sure.


Fortunately, not only has it become a mainstream staple, but it is even easier to make.  Ingredients like tahini paste are no longer only sold at health food stores.  Olive oil, is present in most homes, and lemon trees seem to be gracing more properties than ever.

This healthy comfort food is also chocked full of health benefits.  Fiber, protein, and healthy fats make it a great way to snack.  I love dipping assorted vegetables in the creamy goodness.

Did you know chickpeas can help maintain your blood sugar?  They can also help prevent cholesterol from sticking to the walls of your blood vessels.

hummus 4

Apart from all of the omega 3’s and myriad of good for you reasons, hummus is super easy and fast to make.  Seven minutes may be an exaggeration in time it takes to make it.

For all of my lent practicing friends, hummus is a great alternative to meat on Fridays.  I suggest slathering some hummus inside a whole wheat pita, then stuffing it with roasted mushrooms, bell peppers, and zucchini.

Now that I am drooling, here is the recipe.


7 Minute Hummus

Serves 5

1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons tahini

1 garlic clove

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons water

paprika, to sprinkle on top


Rinse the chickpeas in a mesh strainer with cold water.  Set aside to drain.  Then pat dry.

Put all the ingredients in a food processor, minus the water and paprika.  Process till combined.

Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula then add the water. Process again till smooth.

Serve in a bowl and sprinkle with paprika.  Traditionally olive oil is drizzled over the hummus to serve.  I do not because I do not want the added calories.

Can be refrigerated up to a week in an air tight container.

Servings: 5• Size: 1/4 Calories: 165• Fat: 9.3g • Carb: 15.4g • Fiber: 4.6g • Protein: 5.1g • Sugar:  1g Sodium: 600mg • Cholesterol: 0mg

Best Blogger Salad Ever WINNER! {Giveaway}


{giveaway has ended}

I guess the title completely gives away my amazing news.  Thanks to all of you, I won the Better Recipes Best Blogger Salad Ever!  Your support means the world to me.  I know some of you voted every day, and I am extremely grateful for your efforts.

To say thank you, I have partnered with Fit Body Boot Camp in Upland, CA to do a giveaway.  The lucky winner will receive a one month membership!  This isn’t just an ordinary gym.  Leandro Cabico runs a body tightening, health driven ship.  All of the workouts are based on high intensity interval training (HIIT).  In a 20 minute window you will have worked out every muscle group and will continue to burn calories for the rest of the day.

I have personally worked out at his gym.  Not only was I impressed with the workouts, but loved the camaraderie of the staff and clients.  If results are what you are looking for FBBC is the place for you.fbbc-logo-flat

If you are in the area on Saturday (2/22/14), I will be teaching a short seminar at FBBC, 10:30 a.m. Topic will be How to Eat Healthy on a Budget.  With the current drought in California, residents could see a 10 – 15% increase in their groceries bills for the next 1 – 1 1/2 years.  I will be sharing my tips and tricks on how to stay on budget.  The address is 1334 W. 9th Street, Upland, CA 91786.  Free to all.  Hope to see you there!

To enter this amazing giveaway valued at $257 all you need to do is like FBBC on facebook, and share this post directly from Decadently Fit’s FB page.  All entries will be drawn at random on February 26, 2014, @ 8:00 p.m. PST.

Good luck and thank you for voting in the Better Recipes contest.  Here is the link to my winning recipe.

broccoli slaw gawk border

Strawberry Hot Wings (baked)

strawberry hot wingsIn four days Americans will gather to watch the Seahawks and Broncos battle for the coveted Lombardi Trophy and declare themselves World Champions.

For us non-NFL lovers, thankfully Superbowl parties are not just about watching the game.  It’s an excuse to hang out with friends and of course eat.  Next to Thanksgiving, Super Bowl Sunday is the second highest eating day.  On average, 1,200 calories and 50 grams of fat are consumed by fans of pig skin chasing.

Domino’s Pizza has reported they deliver 11 million pizzas on game day.

11 million pounds of chips are consumed, 4 million pounds of pretzels, and 51.7 million cases of beer will be purchased for the day.

Among the more popular, traditional foods are hot wings.  More than 1.23 billion wings and drumettes will devoured by cheering fans this Sunday.  A successful Superbowl party must have these among the smorgasbord.

As much as I love a spicy, sauced covered wing, I cringe at the nutritional facts.  In only five Hooter’s wings, there is 866 calories, 63g of fat, and 25g of carbs.  Lord help us.  You would have to run 95 minutes, maintaining a 10 minute mile pace the entire time to burn those calories.  Not even in moderation would these be beneficial to your waist line.

In my super skinny version of the North American favorite, there is only 172 calories, 7.8g of fat, and 6.1g of carbs for the same serving.  A huge savings in your calorie bank.

How did I reduce the calories that dramatically?  I removed the fatty skin and I baked them.  There is zero butter in the sauce.  Instead I replaced it with Melt rich and creamy spread.  Melt contains only good fats, like virgin coconut oil, and ghee.

This spicy, sweet, hip friendly version of wings would be a great addition to any Superbowl party.  Even if your team loses at least you will have won bragging rights to the best tasting, healthiest dish of the day.  You also won’t have remorse for what you ate.

What ever team you are rooting for I hope you have a fun, safe, calorie friendly day!  Go Trojans!


Strawberry Hot Wings

Serves 6 – 3 wings each

30 chicken wings/drumettes, skin removed (half of each)

salt, pepper & chili powder to season

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 flats of strawberries, you need 1 1/2 cups of pureed strawberries

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

4 tablespoons Melt buttery spread

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon mustard

1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 tablespoon tabasco (more or less to your desired heat level)

Organic Canola oil in a Misto sprayer (preferred) or store bought non-stick version

green onions, diced (optional for garnish)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Rinse and dry the chicken completely.  Sprinkle each side of the wing with a small amount of salt, pepper and chili powder.  Set chicken on a wire rack that is resting on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper.  Spray each piece of chicken lightly on both sides with canola.  Bake for 35 – 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and crispy.

When chicken is done remove from oven and baste both sides with sauce.  Return back to oven for 1 minute.  Remove from oven and baste one more time.  Serve hot.  Garnish with green onions.


Melt the buttery spread in a medium sauce pan over medium low heat.  Add in the strawberry puree, garlic powder, garlic, pepper, worcestershire, onion powder, honey, tabasco, mustard, and vinegar.  Bring to a simmer.  Reduce by half.  Remove from heat.

Servings: 6• Size: 5 pieces Calories: 172• Fat: 7.8g • Carb: 6.1g • Fiber: 1g • Protein: 21.3g • Sugar:  4.9g Sodium: 239mg • Cholesterol: 0mg

Broccoli Slaw Salad & Virtual BBQ

broccoli slaw2I love summer time.  I love spending more time with my children.  I love the late nights swimming.  I love going to BBQs.  BBQs are a great excuse to hang out with friends, and for the kid’s to run rampant.  It’s a chance for everyone to get adventurous making a new dish they saw on Pinterest.

Unfortunately, most of us (even me) use it as an excuse to over indulge.  That would be fine if a BBQ happened maybe once a month.  Let’s be honest, most us attend a BBQ of some sort during the summer once a week.  Over indulging that much can lead to excess pounds no one wants during bathing suit season.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you can’t try your friend’s amazing dishes.  I think you should, just watch your portion size and don’t go back for seconds. This nifty chart shows what the correct portion size for each person.


I recently brought this vibrant Broccoli Slaw Salad to a BBQ.  Tons of nutritious veggies are incorporated into the salad, including sweet sun-dried tomatoes.  Sun flower seeds and red onions give the dish a nice crunch, while the vinegar and pesto liven up your taste buds.

If your goal is to feed a ton of people, while going easy on the wallet, swap out the broccoli for shredded cabbage.  If you don’t like sunflower seeds, use pumpkin seeds.  Either way, the salad delivers a huge punch of flavor without compromising your waist line.

Recipe For Broccoli Slaw Salad

12 oz broccoli florets, raw, separated into bite size pieces

12 oz. broccoli slaw (refrigerated in produce section)

3 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (not in oil)

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup red onion, diced

3/4 cup prepared pesto sauce

1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons olive oil mayo

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Whisk together mayo, pesto, vinegar, salt and pepper into a small bowl.

Combine the rest of the ingredients with the pesto mixture and chill for 2 hours.  Serve cold.

Below I have posted some of my blogger friend’s recipes that they brought to our virtual 4th of July BBQ.  I recently met them at Camp Blogaway (a conference for bloggers).  They are a group of amazing ladies with incredible talent and wonderful personalities.  We joke that there must have been some roommate god that placed us together.  The match was just too perfect.  On the first night we laughed and chatted till we realized how loud we were being.  Oops.

I’m hoping to see them in person in the near future, hopefully at a BBQ where they bring these dishes.  Until then, here is our virtual version.

Crème Brûlée Tart

This is Jillian’s contribution, from Food Folks and Fun, to our space age BBQ.  She is a sweet military mommy and wife who recently moved to San Diego County.  She currently has a little girl and is expecting a little boy. Her blog is full of wonderful recipes, vibrant pictures to match, great printables and wonderful crafts.  Pin worthy, great posts, that you should check out today!

Jillian's Creme Brulee TartJillian’s interpretation of the French classic: smooth custard in a flaky tart shell with a crackling burnt-sugar topping. Serve with fresh, seasonal berries.

Coffee-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Blueberry Sauce

Here is Barbara’s contribution from Barbara Cooks.  Another room-mate from Camp Blogaway, and one of the first people I met at camp.  If her sparkling blue eyes don’t capture your attention, her beautiful smile will.  A newlywed from San Diego County, Babara approaches food with a healthy spin.  Her food is fun and inventive.  Right up my alley!  Check it out!


Barbara has taken the bold flavor of coffee and barbecued it! Served with a sweet and savory blueberry sauce, this will be a hit at your next backyard barbecue.

Christine’s Colorful Potato Salad

Angela writes the blog Aloha:  Yinz Mangia.  She is an Italian girl who uprooted her life in Pittsburgh, to live in Hawaii.  That should completely demystify the name of her blog.  Not only is her blog name fun, so is the author.  She is currently planning a wedding to fiance Bryce, while working on the Battleship Missouri.  She has an amazing sense of humor, and her love of food is apparent in every post.  Warning:  Reading her blog will make you very jealous of her amazing Hawaiian life.  That being said, check out her blog as quickly as possible!

angelas saladAngela adds unconventional ingredients like blue cheese and apples to a conventional potato salad.  An explosion of flavor is bound to ignite your 4th of July BBQ with this dish!

I hope you bring our dishes to your next BBQ.  Happy 4th of July!

A BIG thank you to all the service men and women, past and present that make our country what it is!

Kid Approved, Mom Approved Boxed Mac & Cheese & Hot Dogs

mac cheese dogsI despise processed foods.  Before I go on a tangent about why I don’t like them, I feel the need to clarify what they are.  Processed foods are packaged in boxes, cans or bags.  They are usually loaded with fat, salt and sugar.  Convenience foods, that are “designed for ease of consumption”.  They are usually full of ingredients that can not be easily pronounced. best states the reason why I am a processed food hater, “While food preservation methods greatly enhance your ability to eat what you want when you want it, they also remove soluble fiber and other natural nutrients from raw foods and add ingredients that are, potentially, harmful to your health and well-being”.  If that statement is true, why is the United States the lead consumer of processed foods?  The answer is convenience.  According to the N.Y. Times, Americans eat 31 percent more packaged food than fresh food, and they consume more packaged food per person than their counterparts in nearly all other countries.   Most of us are so tired and stressed at the end of the day.  Making a meal from scratch is the last thing on our over stimulated minds.  So instead of making a meal packed full of nutrition, we opt for the easy way out, grabbing a box of Hamburger Helper, Rice-A-Roni or Macaroni & Cheese, or driving through the Golden Arches.

I used to do the same thing. Rice-A-Roni was a staple item in my grocery cart.  Frozen bagged, one pot dinners were an easy go-to.  If that blue box of macaroni and cheese was in my cart, it was usually made the same day.  Then something changed, I had two beautiful boys, that I didn’t want to be tainted with preservatives and unhealthy food choices.  I wanted my kids to eat the best food they could, so they could live the best life possible.  Seems like something easy to do, till you realize you have to change your eating habits as a parent too.

The change didn’t happen over night, and it hasn’t always been easy, nor is it something we do 100%.  My husband didn’t like the change at first.  People around me did not support my choices.  But, I decided in this case I knew what was best, and no one was changing my mind.  Slowly my husband came around, and now embraces the changes.  Granted he still brings home items I would rather not see in our home, but every now and then donuts and chips aren’t going to ruin us. 

Today, our everyday diet is approximately 75% clean 25% processed.  I make dinner almost every night, from scratch.  If we have processed foods, most of them are organic or contain natural preservatives like celery juice.  The blue boxed mac and cheese makes appearances only when the husband goes to the store, which is rare.  American cheese is a never in our home, fruits and veggies are offered before any other snack item.

Yes, it is more work to make meals from scratch, but it’s worth the time I am taking to ensure we eat well.  If you find that it is hard to make a well-balanced dinner every night, freeze meals when you do have time.  Make two times the amount every time you make dinner, freeze the rest.  Figure out what meals are fast to make.  My fast go to dinner is salmon, frozen organic broccoli and frozen brown rice.  It takes only 10 minutes from start to finish, with virtually no clean up.

Another quick meal is organic boxed Mac & Cheese with all natural, preservative free, antibiotic free beef hot dogs, served with a side of organic apple slices.  Don’t knock it till you try it.  Once you do, that blue box will only be making cameo appearances in your pantry.  My ‘recipe’ is below.



2 boxes of organic macaroni and cheese (I use 1 box of original flavor and one box of white cheddar)

1/2 cup of Smart Balance Butter

1/4 cup – 3/4 cup pasta cooking water (instead of milk, trust me you won’t miss the milk)

2 packages of the powdered cheese from the boxes

Boil the noodles, per the package directions.  While the noodles are cooking cut up the hot dogs into bite sized rings, set aside.  When the noodlesfranks are cooked, turn off the heat, and scoop up an entire coffee cup full of the pasta water, set aside.  Drain the rest of the water from the noodles.  In the same pan, heat the hot dogs.  Once the dogs are heated through melt the Smart Balance in the pan, then pour the noodles back in and mix with the butter and hot dogs.  Pour in a 1/4 cup of the pasta water and the cheese powder, mix.  Continue to add more pasta water till creamy.

Enjoy the preservative free version of this vintage dish!

Spaghetti Squash Goat Cheese Bake

spag squash goat cheese2One of my favorite dishes growing up was made only for special occasions.  Usually at Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter.  To do this day, I love cheesy potatoes.  It consists of shredded potatoes covered in a sour cream, cream of chicken, and cheese mixture.  I’m pretty sure most families have a version of this.  So you most likely know how delicious it is, and how unhealthy it is.

Tonight I accidentally  made this dish healthy.  It was a happy accident leading to me rushing to my computer to blog about it.

For the first time, in who knows when, I was on my own for dinner.  It was one of those nights where I really did not want to make dinner, especially not for one person.  Then, out of the blue I was inspired by the spaghetti squash I bought yesterday.  No one in my family likes spaghetti squash but me.  Weirdos.  So this was the perfect opportunity for me to make whatever I wanted.  I was in uncharted territory.  I had carte blance on this dish.

I started pulling ingredients out of the fridge in a feverish pace.  Goat cheese went flying onto the counter.  Then turkey bacon followed in its path.  I found a portion of a red onion and then went to town slicing and dicing.  In the end I wound up with a casserole/bake.

While my experiment in solo cooking was bubbling and browning, I watched an entire t.v. show without being interrupted.  Those with children can attest to how wonderful that 30 minutes was.  No complaining about what I was watching, no asking me for anything, just the commentary of Joel McHale on the Soup.  Ahhhhhh.  I was so relaxed I almost fell asleep.

When it was time to try my new creation I jumped off the couch feeling refreshed, and pulled it out of the oven.  I was really excited to try my dish.  I cut a giant square all for myself.  Grabbed a fork, plopped back on the couch and devoured my entire plate in a matter of minutes.  Oh my goodness!  Then I went back for more.  I then licked my plate clean, since no one was here to witness it.

It tasted very similar to the cheesy potatoes I grew up on, with a fraction of the fat and zero carbs.  If you have never tried spaghetti sqaush, this dish would be a great place to start.  I have a feeling my husband and boys would approve too.  I can’t wait for them to come home and try it.


1 small spaghetti squash

4 pieces of turkey bacon, diced

1/4 of a red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons cheddar cheese

1 egg

1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 – 1 teaspoon tabasco (depending on how much spice you like)

2 tablespoons grated parmesean

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a 8×8 baking dish with olive oil.

Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise.  Place face down on a microwave safe plate with a small amount of water, cover with plastic wrap and cook for 8 minutes on high.  (An alternative to a microwave would be place face down on a cookie sheet and bake for 40 – 90 minutes depending on the size).  When spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, take a fork and scrape out the strands of squash.  Set aside.

Saute the bacon over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes.  Add the red onion in and saute another 3- 4 minutes.  Add in the garlic, saute for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and mix in the spaghetti squash.

Whisk together the egg, cheeses, milk, salt and pepper, and tabasco.  Add the milk mixture to the spaghetti squash and mix thoroughly.  Pour into baking dish and evenly sprinkle the parmesan over the squash.  Bake for 30 minutes, turning half way through, to bake evenly.  Serve hot.  Enjoy!

Servings: 8 • Size: 1/8 of casserole

Calories: 154 • Fat: 11g • Carb: 13 g • Fiber: 1 g • Protein: 5g •
Sugar: 0.3 g
Sodium: 790mg • Cholest: 57 mg