Tag Archives: Healthy

start saving yer bacon grease!

So, I am in a cooking rut.

After pinning and re-creating dozens of recipes, I’m all kitchened out. Lazy. Plus, the weather here has transitioned from windy and freezing to sunny and oppressively hot over the course of about a week. Because our hoursehold tries to minimize use of the heater and air conditioning, our house is often 78 degrees during the day. I turn on the AC at least at night, or else I pretty much dont have a shot at sleeping. [I am thankful I have the luxury of an air conditioner. :)] This rapid change in the weather hasn’t allowed my taste buds to catch up. I’m still in my hot waffle, hot soup or sandwich, and hot stir fry dinner mindset, and yet all of those things sound completely unappealing in this heat. Yes, even the waffle. I have resorted to thawing my waffles in open air instead of toasting them and eating them slightly cool (or half frozen…) and smothered in nut butter.

So, lunches are transitioning to cold salads and dinners have been whatever I have laying around. Most of which, has been lackluster – except last nights dinner! SO  GOOD and SO EASY. Also perfect for breakfast or lunch. You’ve got no excuse not to make this one! Oh, and its paleo ;)

Sweet potato, kale, and egg hash with salted avocado

whaddup 30 grams of protein!

sweet potato + bacon grease = <3

Recipe: Serves 1

  • 1/2-1 tbsp bacon grease (I keep mine in a jar) or the grease from one slice of cooked bacon (you can tear it up and add it to this recipe!)
  • 2 handfuls kale
  • 1/4 cup serrano pepper, diced
  • 1/3-1/2 sweet potato, grated
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • iodized sea salt

Directions – Melt the bacon grease into a large pan on the stove on medium high heat. (Or, you can nuke a slice in a bowl in the microwave for about 2 minutes and pour the grease into the pan. This will also get the bacon to super crunchy bacon bit status for easy crumbling.) Add the pepper, onion, kale, and grated sweet potato. Let cook until everything has softened to your liking. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a bowl. Pour into the pan with the veggies. Sprinkle everything with salt. Once the eggs are cooked, scrape all of the contents of the pan into a bowl. Top with cubed avocado and a bit more salt. Enjoyyyyy the goodness.

Note: I recommend buying nitrate free bacon and pastured eggs. If you cant find pastured, try organic and free range. The onion, avocado, and potato don’t need to be organic, but it is ideal to buy peppers organic due to their thin skin. I also recommend buying iodized sea salt because you get the metabolism increasing benefits of iodine as well as the natural minerals from the sea.


Sweet potato * high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, copper, and B6! The antioxidants in sweet potatoes work to eliminate free radicals (which damage the body) and are anti-inflammatory, so they can help alleviate symptoms of many conditions.

Eggs * the yolk is where all the nutrients are! It contains tryptophan, selenium, iodine, B vitamins, and phosphorous, many of which are necessary for optimal metabolism. The egg white has 6 grams of complete protein!

Kale * Extremely high levels of vitamins K, A, and C! Also has manganese, calcium, fiber, and antioxidants.

Bacon * I have a huge post that I want to write about saturated fats and how they aren’t the evil health destroyers that we think of them as. For now, suffice it to say that it is likely that most of the negative effects associated with eating bacon are not from the fat in bacon itself but from the nitrites and nitrates that bacon is usually treated with.

Flawless Whole Wheat Belgian Waffles

You’re going think I am lying, but I’m not.

I have eaten a Belgian waffle every single day for breakfast since January 29th. (Thanks to a wonderful birthday present from Pace the day before!)

That is over 50 belgian waffles. Seeing as my recipe can only make 5 at a time, that means I have made this recipe about 10 times now. I have perfected it and it is my child. I wanted to create a waffle that was healthy enough to eat on a daily basis, but decadent enough to induce salivation at the mere site or smell.

I am so obsessed with these waffles that I make 5 at a time and freeze them. That way, in the morning, all I have to do is pop one in the toaster oven and in about 5 minutes, I have a perfectly crisp waffle hot and ready for me. If I have 8am class, then I smother half of it in peanut and the half with almond or cashew butter and wrap it up in foil to take with me. And then I  proceed to chow down on it as the students around me give me dirty glares and wistful glances. They see the peanut butter flowing over the delicate walls of the waffle. They can smell the faint hint of vanilla and the earthy goodness of the whole grains. They can see the maniacle pleasure in my eyes as I carefully take each bite, ensuring to ingest only one nut-butter filled crater at at time for maximal waffle enjoyment.

Proof of said madness:

Now that I have thoroughly creeped you out, here is the greatest, most useful recipe I have ever created.

Flawless whole wheat belgian waffles

Recipe: Makes 5 giant waffles

  • 1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (option: sub in 1/4 cup wheat bran)
  • 1/2 cup flax meal
  • 1/4 cup sugar or NuNaturals baking blend stevia
  • 3 tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups nonfat milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (do not reduce!)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions – Combine flour, flax, bran if using, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, vanilla, and eggs. Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and stir until well combined. Add the coconut oil and mix again. Pour ~1/2 cup batter into a preheated waffle maker and let cook until the steam rate slows and the waffle is browned.

The serving options are endless! So far I have tried…

  • MY GO TO: A couple tablespoons of nut butter; like peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, black walnut butter, sunflower seed butter, and vanilla tahini!
  • Greek yogurt mixed with nut butter and/or maple syrup
  • Cream cheese + cinnamon or chopped nuts
  • Coconut butter + maple syrup (pictured below… in class)

I wanted the waffles to have a high fiber content, protein, and be relatively lower carb than normal waffles. The nutrition facts per waffle:

  • Calories – 307
  • Total fat – 12 g
  • Carbs – 38 g
  • Fiber – 9.2 g
  • Sugar – 4.8 g
  • Protein – 13.4 g

Because I have had so many opportunities to play around with this recipe, I have tried versions with peanut flour, protein powder, more bran, less oil, etc. The only alternative version of this recipe that I adore is slightly lower in calories and carbs and higher in protein. It has about 260 calories per waffle and 17 grams of protein. This version is the exact same as the version above, except: 1 cup of white whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup of wheat bran, 1/4 cup of flax meal, 1 scoop (25 grams protein) Total Body Consultants whey protein powder in Cinnamon Bun, 2 tbsp baking powder, and 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil.

I’ve got to give photo cred to my new friend from CrossFit (!!!!!), Elliot for these mouth watering pictures. It has made me want to invest in a DSLR… perhaps for graduation ;) Mom ;). And, by crazy chance, he and his friends own a website that I have been using for ages! Its an interval workout timer online so that you can do body weight workouts at home without having to mess with stop watches and whatnot. Check it!


Flax * high in B vitamins, magnesium, and f-f-f-fiber! It has more omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants than any grain!

Wheat bran * contains TONS of iron, B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorous and antioxidants! 1 cup has 25 grams of fiber and 9 grams of protein!

Whole wheat * when you choose white flour over whole wheat flour, you are losing over half of the B vitamins, fiber, folic acid, calcium, zinc, phosphorous, copper, and iron. Whole grains (versus processed) reduce your risk for diabetes and have also been linked to weight loss and maintaining a lower BMI.

Eggs * the yolk is where all the nutrients are! It contains tryptophan, selenium, iodine, B vitamins, and phosphorous, many of which are necessary for optimal metabolism.

Coconut * coconut gets a bad rap because of its saturated fat content, but its fatty acids are mainly medium-chain triglycerides, not long-chain. The long-chain triglycerides are bad for our cholesterol levels, but coconut has been shown to improve cholesterol levels. Animal studies suggest that medium-chain triglycerides can increase metabolism.

Milk * a key source of vitamin D and calcium, as well as protein.

Love me some Tom Yum

I’m sick :( .

It started with Liz about three days ago. She said she felt a little under the weather and wasn’t as insanely happypeppyfabulous as she normally is. She kept to her bed a bit more than usual. Then, last evening, I started to develop a slight wheeze. I sounded like an old man trying to fight off consumption. I think Ive got the black lung, Pop. Then, early this morning, Anna’s boyfriend emerged from her bedroom and declared “Anna’s sick.” He wandered into the kitchen and stared blankly at a canister of Quaker rolled oats. “What do I put in oatmeal?” he asked. A non-instant newbie, I instructed him: Milk. Cinnamon. Raisins. Almonds. Almond butter. A pinch of salt.

As I prepared my own breakfast, I felt it. The body aches were sprouting from the center of my upper back and unraveling into my shoulders and limbs. I felt chilled and searing hot at the same time. And I couldn’t taste my belgian waffle. Pissed.

So, all I have done today is lay in my bed and study and waste time on the internet. I left the house once to go to Reproductive Nutrition and pick up some fish sauce from the local Asian market. It is the one ingredient that has evaded me for years. Damn that fish sauce. Of course it only comes in monstrously large bottles, because it is such a cooking staple for a significant portion of the world. I also picked up some lemongrass and thai chilis. I’ve got Tom Yum on my mind.

Thai food is not something I ever crave, unlike “New American” cuisine, Tex Mex, hippy food, and the occasional sushi and Chinese food. However, every time I do encounter Thai food, I love it. It is incredibly nourishing while still being full of flavor. The creamy coconut milk, spicy chilis, salty fish sauce, aromatic spices, and sweet rice come together in a symphony of deliciousness.

Tuesday, in my MCAT class, my friend Jacqui brought Tom Yum soup to class and taunted me with it for the following three hours. A drop of saliva literally fell onto my Ochem book. It was disgusting.

So, tonight I finally made my own Thai food and I would just like to say

it was superb.

And the perfect remedy for a sneezy, sickly college kid.

Traditional Thai Tom Yum Soup

Recipe: Makes 2 large servings

Prep time: 15 minutes *  Cook time: 30 minutes * Difficulty: Low

from Thaifood.com

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, lower 1/3 finely minced
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (fresh or frozen at Asian stores)
  • 20 raw shrimp, shelled (about 40-50 g protein worth)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (I used 1 1/2)
  • 1-2 small red chilies, minced (I used 1)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Handful shiitake mushrooms (I used 2 crimini)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 can coconut milk (USE FULL FAT, YA HO!)
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • optional: additional vegetables (I used 2 baby bok choy and a handful of mung bean sprouts) additional chilies, chili sauce, brown sugar, or lime juice

Directions – 

  1. Pour the stock into a deep cooking pot and turn heat to medium high. Add lemongrass to the pot, including the upper part you didnt mince. Boil 5-6 minutes, until fragrant.
  2. Reduce heat slightly to a simmer. Add garlic, chili, lime leaves, and mushrooms to broth. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add shrimp, bell pepper, bok choy, and bean sprouts. Simmer 5-6 minutes, or until shrimp are pink.
  4. Turn down the heat to low and add 1/2 can of coconut mlk plus the fish sauce. Taste test the soup for spice and salt, adding more chili or fish sauce as desired. If too sour, add 1 tsp brown sugar. If too salty, add a squeeze of lime juice. Add more coconut milk for a creamier soup (I added the whole can).
  5. 5. Serve in bowls with fresh cilantro (aka coriander) sprinkled on top. Enjoy!!

Seriously, just put on your big girl panties (or briefs?)  and go buy the “exotic” ingredients. This is a recipe worth repeating again and again. You can freeze the lime leaves and the fish sauce stays good…. forever.


Chilies * filled with capsaicin which can help fight inflammation. They have also been shown to reduce cholesterol and blood triglycerides, and thus can be considered heart healthy. The heat that you feel after eating chili peppers has to come from somewhere – that would be your metabolism! Also, a recent study showed that eating just a little chili pepper a day helped participants sleep better that night.

Garlic * packed with antioxidants that fight aging, cancer, and heart disease. Garlic can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and eliminate free radicals (which cause cellular damage). It is also used to treat asthma and certain unpleasant infections.

Shrimp * extremely high in protein and low in fat! Contains selenium, tryptophan, vitamin D (key for bone health), B12, iron (needed for a healthy thyroid), phosphorous, B3, and zinc. The fat that shrimp does contain is the healthy monounsaturated kind.

Bell peppers * an extremely potent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and antioxidants. They also contain fiber, B6, folate, and vitamin K.

Coconut * coconut gets a bad rap because of its saturated fat content, but its fatty acids are mainly medium-chain triglycerides, not long-chain. The long-chain triglycerides are bad for our cholesterol levels, but coconut has been shown to improve cholesterol levels. Animal studies suggest that medium-chain triglycerides can increase metabolism.

I finally made a dinner recipe!

Props to me – I finally made a real dinner recipe. I blame procrastination. I have been studying for my Endocrinology midterm like a psychopath and have been desperately finding things to do to avoid starting my lab report. Sooo, I went to Trader Joes and picked up a few essentials and some cool new lemon pasta. And its not whole wheat. [Im actually proud of this.... reduction in whole wheat snobbery.] It inspired to me to make this dinner, which took about twenty minutes and was fabulously tastayyy.

Part of why I avoid dinner recipes is because the pictures turn out terrible. No natural light. :(

Chicken and Broccoli in a Lemon, Garlic Cream Sauce

Recipe: Serves 1

1 raw chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces

1 1/2 cups raw broccoli florets

2 ounces (or 3/4 cup cooked) lemon pasta

For the cream sauce:

1/3 cup half half

3-4 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp garlic paste or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 tbsp honey

dash lemon pepper

dash salt

Directions – Add the lemon juice and garlic to a pan on the stove on medium heat (mine was at 4.5). Add the chicken and broccoli florets. Once the chicken is half way cooked, reduce the heat a bit (mine was just below “4”) and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir. Let everything cook until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Don’t be alarmed if the half and half curdles. Once it thickens, it will look fine and taste delicious. A few minutes before the sauce looks done, boil the noodles until tender. Drain. Add the noodles to the chicken and cream sauce. Toss. Enjoy!

A creamy, savory garlic sauce with a punch of lemon and a tiny hint of sweetness. 


Garlic * packed with antioxidants that fight aging, cancer, and heart disease! Garlic can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and eliminate free radicals (which cause cellular damage). It is also used to treat asthma and yeast infections.

Lemon * a great source of vitamin C. Lemons are also said to help balance the bodies PH and put it into a more alkaline state.

Chicken * A lean source of protein, B vitamins, and the calming amino acid tryptophan!

I love brussel sprouts.

Tonight’s dinner is brought to you by bizarre cravings and hangovers.

Nowadays in my old age, I typically limit myself to a drink or two when I go out – if I am even drinking. This is for a plethora of reasons:

  • To not feel like shiz the next day.
  • To avoid the dreaded “brain cloud” that makes studying, or really any intellectual activity impossible.
  • To be able to have an effective workout, if desired.
  • To remember the people I meet and conversations I have at parties, bars, etc.
  • Too keep my cool while everyone else acts a fool.
  • To not partake in any cringe, tear, or Emergency Room-inducing activities.
Despite all that, last night I had a couple extra and I paid the price for it today. The brain cloud only lifted an hour or so ago and I was able to work on my 10 page lab report – which is due every. single. week. On the bright side, I had a  great time with my friends and got a cute photo out of it: 
Carlyn, Shelby, me, Cassi, Annemieke

When I am hungover, the last thing I ever want to eat is lettuce. For some reason, the mere  thought of my gut trying to digest cellulose is almost enough to send me running to the porcelain throne. I was craving vegetables tonight though, and it made sense to me that cooked vegetables would be more tolerable. That, in combination with my current obsession with Alexia’s frozen sweet potato waffle fries and the desire to get back into my egg and feta cheese phase, was the catalyst to a highly unexpected and extremely delicious dinner.

Don’t knock it till youve tried it.

Sweet potato fries and scrambled brussel sprouts with eggs and feta

lazy iphone pic – sorryyy

The sweet potato fries are a delicious contrast to the savory, cheesy brussel sprouts and eggs. Its not weird – its uhmazing.

Recipe: Serves 1

~1 cup frozen sweet potato waffle fries

4 large brussel sprouts, sliced

3 tbsp onion, chopped

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tbsp lemon juice

1 garlic clove, finely chopped (or garlic salt if you are hungover lazy)

3 egg whites

1 whole, organic egg

~2 tbsp feta cheese


fresh ground pepper

Directions – Place two pans on the stove on medium high heat. Grease one with olive oil and add the onions, garlic, and brussel sprouts. Saute. Add the lemon juice and continue to saute until lightly browned. In the other pan, add the sweet potato fries and occasionally flip until warmed through and slightly browned. In the other pan, once the brussel sprouts and onions are lightly browned, add the egg whites and feta cheese and stir fry until cooked. On a plate, add a layer of sweet potato fries. Top with the brussel sprout egg mixture. Take the whole egg and crack it carefully into one of the pans. Let the white cook but remove before the yolk is cooked. Drizzle the yolk over the entire dish and eat the white. Top dish with salt and fresh ground pepper. Enjoy!!!


Brussel Sprouts * a great source of fiber, folate, and vitamins C, A, and K

Eggs * the yolk is where all the nutrients are! It contains tryptophan, selenium, iodine, B vitamins, and phosphorous, many of which are necessary for optimal metabolism. The egg white has 6 grams of complete protein!

Sweet potato * high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, copper, and B6! The antioxidants in sweet potatoes work to eliminate free radicals (which damage the body) and are anti-inflammatory, so they can help alleviate symptoms of many conditions.

a remedy for the hard days

Health is such a fickle thing. You can feel strong and so good for so long that you start to think that you will never get sick again. That you are just above getting sick. Then, midterms come around, you stay out late a couple times, you work out because you miss it, and BAM – you transform into a walking zombie. My symptoms include…
 an aversion to vegetables
 ice cream dependence
 pain with deep inhalation
 an old man’s weeze
 a sore throat upon waking that only lasts an hour
 constantly tired
 crabby pattys.
My cure?

Chocolate Chip Banana Walnut Bread

this photo does not do the bread justice, I waited until there was only one slice left to photograph it… ;) 

This bread is undeniably delicious and perfect for breakfast, a snack, or even as a warm dessert with a scoop of  vanilla ice cream. It isn’t too sweet to have in the morning, but you can reduce the flour and increase the sugar if you want it to be extremely sweet and dessert-like.

Wet ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar or NuNaturals Baking Blend
  • 1 tbsp molasses
Dry ingredients
  • 1  1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cups wheat bran (you can just use more flour or ground flax, the purpose is increased fiber)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup chocolate chips (depends on your taste, I wanted less)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup walnuts (depends on your taste, I wanted tons)
Preheat the oven to 350. Combine all the wet ingredients and mix well. In another bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (except the choco chips and walnuts) and mix well. Pour the wet over the dry and mix well with a spatula. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chips. Bake for 60 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and it passes the knife test.


Flax * high in B vitamins, magnesium, and f-f-f-fiber! It has more omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants than any grain!

Whole wheat flour * when you choose white flour over whole wheat flour, you are losing over half of the B vitamins, fiber, folic acid, calcium, zinc, phosphorous, copper, and iron. Whole grains reduce your risk for diabetes and have also been linked to weight loss and maintaining a lower BMI.

Wheat bran * contains TONS of iron, B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorous and antioxidants! 1 cup has 25 grams of fiber and 9 grams of protein!

Bananas * High in potassium which helps the body eliminate excess salt and water (good for bloating)! Also help prevent muscular cramps and improve blood circulation. Bananas are high in zinc, which is key for healthy hair. They have also been linked to the prevention of stomach ulcers because they protect the stomach mucous layer. They are high in vitamins C and A, and phosphorus (which helps improve memory).

Cinnamon * High in antioxidants. Also aids in controlling blood sugar levels. Why does blood sugar matter? Spikes in blood sugar are bad for your health because they cause your body to increase insulin production. Insulin, among many other things, tells your body to store fat. Therefore, eating a sugary/high-in-simple-carbohydrate meal = blood sugar spike = insulin spike = store fat. Even worse, years of insulin spikes can lead to insulin resistance, which can then lead to diabetes.

Walnuts * contain the healthy monounsaturated fats!

Caramelized sweet potato ice cream with toasted marshmallow swirl

I have been on a ridiculous ice cream kick lately. I literally just can’t get enough – I like to think that all the calcium is seeping into my bones and I am now indestructible. To put it metaphorically, ice cream is to me what creatine is to high school football players. Only any weight it may incur ain’t water ;)

To get my fixes, I have been frequenting Davis Creamery. Last time I went in, the semi-stoned, smocked dude smirked and said “Maybe we should just make you a frequent flyer card.”

You do that. Seriously. I was shocked and beyond ecstatic to find that they had a new flavor – sweet potato and marshmallow. I giddily asked for a sample, shoved the wooden stick into my mouth, and then…. my heart sank. It sucked. The sweet potato flavor was lack luster and the marshmallows were raw and there was a lack of depth of flavor in general. I knew I could make it better.

To bring out the best in the sweet potato, the key is to caramelize it first in the oven. Do not disrespect the potato by boiling it. Plus, you wont lose any water soluble nutrients!

And toast the marshmallows, obvs.

caramelized sweet potato ice cream with toasted marshmallow swirl

Recipe: Makes ~2  1-cup servings

1 cup caramelized sweet potato

1 cup organic whole milk, vanilla yogurt (I used Strauss)

6 large marshmallows

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 capfuls vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp cinnamon

optional: mini marshmallows for topping, scoop of marshmallow fluff, brown sugar and/or stevia to taste

Directions – Place the metal container of the ice cream maker in the freezer; let it freeze overnight. Bake a sweet potato at 400 degrees until the sugars begin to seep out, about an hour. Refrigerate overnight.The next day, broil the marshmallows on a pan in the oven until browned. Let them cool completely (they will deflate).  Combine the sweet potato with the yogurt, sugar, spices and salt and mix well. Turn on the ice cream maker and pour in the mixture once it is ALREADY SPINNING. It will take about 20 minutes to harden. Midway through, give it a taste test to see if it is sweet to your liking. Just a minute or two before you want to serve the ice cream, add the marshmallows and let them get combined by the ice cream maker. For an additional marshmallow swirl, you can turn off the ice cream maker and use a fork to swirl in marshmallow fluff. Top with toated mini marshmallows and enjoy!

Can be stored tightly sealed in the freezer.


What surprised me about this recipe was that although I used whole milk yogurt, it had a similar calorie content  to non-fat frozen yogurt. I realized that the fro-yo has way more sugar in place of the fat. And health wise, fat is >>>> sugar. Plus, the fat gives it an amazing creamy texture that froyo just don’t got.


Sweet potato * high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, copper, and B6! The antioxidants in sweet potatoes work to eliminate free radicals (which damage the body) and are anti-inflammatory, so they can help alleviate symptoms of many conditions.

Whole yogurt * loaded with calcium, a bit of protein, and beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion of the lactose and help promote regularity! Plus, the fats in milk products are short chain, which tend to be immediately utilized by the body for energy rather than fat storage.

Worlds (secretly) healthiest lasagna

I am sure 95% of people who read this will either cringe or roll their eyes, but… I don’t really like pasta. Or rice.

No, it isn’t that I just say that because I want to avoid carbs; I genuinely just don’t get much mouth bliss when I eat either. In my opinion, pasta and rice are quite bland and dilute the deliciousness of the flavors surrounding them. Basically, I was the kid that used two cheese packets on her Kraft and would be mocked “would you like some pasta with your meat sauce?” Perhaps it is that I have never had truly great pasta, but even in Italy, the slippery ribbons of wheat didn’t do much for me. I do enjoy some grains though, but that is because they have flavor in their own right. When preparing a dish that is typically tainted with pasta or rice, I usually sub in bulgur, amaranth, or more veggies. For example, last week I was having a strange craving for lasagna (which means I was actually craving meaty marinara) and decided to find a way to make it sans pasta. I still wanted layers of cheese, sauce, and meat, but I needed a new medium to act as the barrier. What is green and resembles doppia riccia noodles? Cabbage of course!

Not Your Mama’s Lasagna

Recipe: Makes 4 (huge) servings

1 lb beef, 90% lean

1 head of cabbage (you will use around the outer most half of leaves)

1 cup mozzarella cheese (full fat)

parmesan cheese

For the sauce – 

1 can TJ’s diced and fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles

1 can tomato paste

3 garlic cloves

3 tbsp chopped red onion

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp garlic grapeseed oil (I used Apres Vin, but you could also use extra virgin olive oil)

basil, a handful fresh or several shakes dried


garlic salt

dash thyme

dash parsley


Directions – 1. Preheat the oven to 350. Brown the beef on the stove top and set aside.

2. Prepare the sauce by combining the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, sugar, garlic oil, parsley, garlic salt, and salt in a blender and pulsing until combined. You can make it as chunky or smooth as you wish. Taste test and add any more spice if desired. Pour into the pan with the beef and stir. You can let it marinate for a few minutes on low heat while you prepare the cabbage.

3. Steam the cabbage the lazy way by placing the entire head in a microwave-safe bowl with 2 tbsp water, covering with another bowl or plate, and nuking for about 2-3 minutes. Cut off the very bottom of the cabbage. Carefully peel off the leaves of cabbage and lay on a towel to dry.

4. Grease an oven-safe 13 x 9 x 2 dish with olive oil. Place a layer of cabbage leaves on the base. Add a layer of meaty pasta sauce. Sprinkle on a third of the mozzarella cheese and some parmesan. Sprinkle on more garlic salt, oregano, parsley and thyme. Add another layer of cabbage leaves. Top with a layer of pasta sauce. Add another layer of cheese and spices. Repeat once more or until you are out of pasta sauce and cheese. Bake covered with foil for 25 minutes and uncovered for ~10 minutes or until the cheese is browned to your liking.

Even my pasta and rice loving roomy Kristi loved this lasagna.


Tomatoes * also contain a LOT of vitamin A and C. Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant that has been shown in studies to reduce the effects of smoking. This does not mean it is okay to smoke, but if you do, it is a VERY good idea to make sure are getting lots of vitamin A daily. Tomatoes are also rich in lycopene, which has been proven to halt the growth of cancer cells!

Lean beef *  An excellent source of iron, B vitamins, zinc, selenium, phosphorous, and of course protein. Don’t be scared of beef’s fat content! Check out my post on saturated fats here.

Basil * Has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants called flavonoids. Flavonoids protect your cells from damage (and thus, in the long run, cancer).

I loved this lasagna. It was cheesy, hearty, and packed with flavor. No noodles to spoil the party ;).

The perfect summer potluck dish

It. Is. So. Hot. Here.

During the winter, my housemates and I try not to use the heater in order to save money. It routinely gets down to 50 in our casa, and we walk around with multiple layers of pants and sweatshirts on. Likewise, during the summer, we try not to use the air conditioner and it routinely gets up to 90 degrees in our house. I have a new rule though: once it hits 87, I get to turn on the AC. I can’t sleep or study when it is that hot! Or eat for that matter, unless it is something cold. The heat has actually been a blessing because I have been getting so creative in the kitchen in order to make summer-friendly meals! Today’s recipe is amazing served chilled and a consistent crowd pleaser. I have brought it to a potluck, a work party, and fed it to anyone who comes over to our house!

Watermelon Tabouli with Goat Cheese

Recipe: Serves ~10 people

1 cup bulgur

2 cups water

1 large cucumber

3 cups watermelon, cubed

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1 clove garlic

2 tbsp green onion, chopped

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Directions – Place a large pan on the stove and add the water and bulgur. Turn the heat on to high and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, remove the pan from heat and cover. Let bulgur sit in the hot water for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and let sit for another 15 minutes. Scrape bulgur into a bowl and put into the fridge to chill. If there is any water left, drain first.

Chop the watermelon and cucumber into cubes. Finely chop the parsley, onion, and garlic. Combine all of the ingredients, except the goat cheese, oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest, in a bowl and toss with chilled bulgur. Drizzle the oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest over the mixture and mix again. Right before serving, add in the crumbled goat cheese and a sprinkling of salt and lightly toss one final time. Done!


Parsley * is extremely high in vitamin K and also contains vitamin C and A, and some folate. Parsley also contains fairly rare volatile oils that have been found to halt tumor growth in animal studies and are considered “chemoprotective,” which means they can help neutralize carcinogens. Also rich in the antioxidants flavonoids.

Watermelon * a great source of vitamin A, C, B1, and B6. The antioxidants derived from the vitamin A help fight inflammation which contributes to many ailments, including heart attacks, diabetes miletus, and arthritis.

Cucumber * the peel is full of fiber and vitamin K and the meat is mostly hydrating water. Also a good source of potassium, beta carotene, vitamin C, and other antioxidants!
Bulgur * has one of the highest amounts of fiber of any grain. Also contains B vitamins, iron, phosphorous, manganese.
Question: What are your favorite summer recipes? Do share!


I don’t know about you, but I am struggling to get through this week. Each day seems to drag on and I have been having more trouble concentrating than usual. Typically, I make a to-do list each morning and tackle almost everything on it by the day’s end. Each item crossed off relieves a bit of stress, and thus there is a cycle of positive re-enforcement. Do my sh stuff, feel better, do more of my stuff, relax and enjoy. Now, I am just kind of physically stammering, not really doing anything. I need to get down to business though, because my calculus final is on Friday, and then the first summer session will be over! Immediately following that, Chelsea, Kristi, and I are moving into our new house this weekend, and then on Monday, summer session two begins. Blech. I am taking Bio Sci 101, which is Genes and Genetics. Since it is supposed to be a fairly difficult course, I am going to take that and nothing else. Hopefully it will be a fair workload and I will be able to enjoy my weeks as much, or more, as I have been these last 5 or so weeks.

Since this week has been full of studying, procrastinating, my internship, and class, the sad truth is that the highlight of my day yesterday was lunch. But it isn’t quite so sad when you consider how awesome it was…

Feta salmon sliders with a yogurt mint sauce

Recipe: Serves 1

3 tbsp greek yogurt

1 tbsp chopped mint

1 tbsp feta, crumbled

1 whole wheat mini bagel

1 salmon burger (you can make your own with my recipe or just buy frozen patties!)

tomato slices

onion slices

Directions – Prepare the salmon burger as directed. Then, toast a whole wheat mini bagel. While it is toasting, prepare the sauce by combining the greek yogurt, mint, and feta in a dish and mashing it all together. Cut the salmon burger into two circular patties and place each one on top of a bagel half. Top with the yogurt sauce, extra feta, slivers of onion, a tomato slice, and a dash of salt. Serve with a side of zucchini feta salad. Enjoy!


Salmon * Salmon has one of the highest concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids! Studies show that eating omega 3 rich fish just twice a week can lower blood triglycerides. Salmon is also rich in tryptophan, vitamin D, protein, B vitamins, and selenium!

Tomato * Contains the antioxidant lycopene, which has been found to protect against breast, colorectal, lung, endometrial, prostate, and pancreatic cancer!

Onion * Lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and also have antioxidants.

Questions: How is your week going? And recommendations for getting my focus back?