Tag Archives: fresh veggies

Italian Bean and Vegetable Soup

I am a cold weather girl: the boots, the sweaters, the layers, the warm-you-up-from-the-inside food, all of it (or should I say FALL of it?!? LOL) Here in Arizona, fall is slow to show up and it’s over so quickly, I try to savor the moments. Our overnight low temps are finally dropping into the 60’s, and day time highs are just under 100, so I guess fall is close! Continue reading Italian Bean and Vegetable Soup

Vegetarian Minestrone Soup

When I know I won’t be home until later in the day, and I can anticipate that making dinner will not be one of the things I am going to want to do when I get home, I try and meal plan something using my slow cooker or dutch oven. This way I can just get home and not worry too much that dinner is going to be pizza. And since my back is recuperating again, I’ve been trying some new fitness classes. Monday I tried a “Muscle” group class (at Mountainside Fitness) taught by Dana. It didn’t start until 6, which meant I wouldn’t be home until 7:30. For what  it’s worth, two days later and my calves are still mad at me! If you are reluctant to strength train on the weight floor like me, I really recommend group fitness classes like this. Dana was great, and offered several modifications.

Continue reading Vegetarian Minestrone Soup

Buddha Stir Fry

It’s still January, and it’s been pretty cold and rainy. Not as cold as it can get in other parts of the country, but for this area… it’s our version of winter. With it being so gray and overcast (which I love, for what it’s worth), sometimes I just crave a bright and vibrant meal, filled with fresh flavors and bursting with color. This recipe is a go to for me for just those moments. Continue reading Buddha Stir Fry

Simple Tomato & Meat Sauce

I love me some pasta. People get so down on carbohydrates, but theres a huge difference between carbohydrates that are bad for you (like french fries) and carbohydrates that actually fuel your body (like an actual potato or pasta). Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for your body, and your diet should consist of at least 50% carbs from sources such as vegetable, fruits, and whole grains.

I’ve been putting together variations of this dish for years, its simple, yet the flavors are complex enough to feel like a gourmet dinner. I like to pair it with a kale caesar salad, and maybe some fresh garlic bread (did i mention I love carbs!)

Simple Tomato & Meat Sauce

3 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, diced
2 ounces prosciutto
1 T extra virgin olive oil
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 t each: dried thyme, dried oregano and dried basil
1/2 cup red wine

In medium frying pan, cook prosciutto over medium high heat until crispy, remove from pan, drain on paper towels

In same pan, add olive oil, onions and red pepper flakes; sauté until onions are near translucent then add diced tomatoes. Turn down heat and simmer for 15-20 min.

Mince crispy prosciutto and add to sauce, stir. Add pasta of your choice, toss and serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.


Serves 4


Vegetable Quinoa Pilaf

I’ve been really trying to up my protein intake without adding additional animal protein (and all the fat and cholesterol that comes with it). I found a a fairly pure protein powder, Isopure  click here to learn more and I’ve added it to my morning smoothies on strength training days. Oatmeal has 10 grams of protein per cup, and of course black beans add 15 grams of protein for each cup. Quinoa is another grain that adds protein (8 grams per cup), while not a lot, is 3 grams more per cup than rice (and it’s really interchangeable with rice in most dishes).

I played around with quinoa in this dish, instead of rice, and added some summer vegetables. This makes a great side, or double the portion and add some black beans or edamame, serve it room temperature, or chilled, for a vegetarian lunch.

Vegetable Quinoa Pilaf


3 cups cooked quinoa, or grain blend

1 small crooked neck squash, diced (about 1 cup)

1 small zucchini, diced

1 cup portabella mushrooms, diced

1/2 red bell pepper

1 medium carrot, diced

1/2 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic

1 T olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Juice of 1/2 lemon

In a medium sauté pan over medium high heat, add olive oil the garlic, onion and carrot; sauté until onion is soft. Add pepper, squash, zucchini and mushrooms, cook for 5-10 min stirring occasionally until the vegetables just soften. Remove from heat. Stir in cooked quinoa, and sprinkle lemon juice over the top. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6.

Can be served warm, room temperature or cold.

Makes a great side, and add cooked chickpeas, black beans, edamame or diced chicken to make it an entree salad (great for a lunch)

Per serving: Cal 161, Fat 4.3 Cholesterol 0 Carbohydrates 26 Fiber 4 Sugar 4 Protein 6

Vegetarian Taco Salad


1 recipe roasted chickpeas click here

1 recipe cilantro lime vinaigrette click here

2 cups Iceberg lettuce, chopped

2 cups Romaine lettuce, chopped

1 cup red cabbage

1 cup grape tomatoes (or diced beefsteak)

1 cup fresh corn kernels (1-2 ears)

1 large avacado, pitted and sliced

1 large orange bell pepper, seeded and diced

1/2 medium red onion, diced

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained

  1. equally distribute lettuce into bowls, and top with remaining ingredients, roasted chickpeas and drizzle with vinaigrette. serve immediately.

*makes 4-6 servings*

recipe adapted from two peas and their pod

5 Ways to Improve Your Salad

We are in the middle of heat wave around here, today it’s supposed to only be 118 degrees. I have lived in Arizona for 35 years, and the one thing i know to be true is that anything after 110 is just hot; it’s just varying degrees of hotness. yes, yes, it’s a dry heat. I ran a 10k in August in Anaheim with 60-75% humidity and only 80-85 degrees, miserable. So I guess I should be thankful we don’t have the humidity on top of the obscene temps….

When it’s this hot out, I tend to gravitate towards eating more fresh salads, which is a good thing, For starters, cooking tends to heat up a kitchen, no one needs to be adding heat. Second, raw produce has a higher water content than cooked veggies, which help to keep you hydrated, always a struggle in these temps. Finally, raw veggies and fruits are served chilled, which also act to keep you cool.

Most people are satisfied to throw some iceberg in a bowl, maybe add some sliced cucumbers and a tomato, throw some bottled dressings on it and be done; it’s a side to the meal. This time of year, I make my salads the main event. Which means my dressing are made from scratch (it’s way easier than you think) and I include all manner of produce. Seriously, if it’s in my kitchen it can go in a salad.

The Rules

  1. No creamy dressings. vinaigrette are seriously the easiest things to throw together. A little fresh minced garlic, some oregano, onion, salt, pepper, apple cider or balsamic vinegar and some EVOO (the general rule is 1 part vinegar to 2 parts oil) WHAM a very basic balsamic vinaigrette. Throw some dijon mustard in there and whip well to make a creamy balsamic.
  2. All the colors of the rainbow. I try to make my salads colorful as possible. Shredded carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, onions, summer squash, asparagus, corn, beets, green beans, radishes… the more colorful it is the more nutrition is in it!!
  3. Use a variety of greens. Instead of sticking with plain ole iceberg, add romaine, red leaf, spinach, kale, radicchio, and even some cabbage for a good crunch. Adding fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley is also a great way to add flavor!
  4. Add protein. Roasted chickpeas, black beans, kidneys beans are all amazing in a salad if you are so inclined.
  5. Add grains. To help add another protein boost, try adding cooked and chilled quinoa or barley, even brown long grain rice to your greens.
  6. Avoid: Croutons, tortilla strips, cheese, anything fried or high in saturated fats.

Try adding salads in your meal planning on days when you know the temperatures are going to be up there, and you want to avoid heating things up in the kitchen. HINT: When I am prepping my salad meals, I will usually prep 2 in large resealable containers for later lunches; i am already slicing and dicing, but save part of your dressing to add when you are ready to eat.

Vegetable Coconut Curry


4 large carrots, peeled and sliced

1 medium red onion, peeled and quartered

1 head cauliflower, chopped

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 large bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

5 oz tomato paste

14 oz coconut milk, light

1 1/2t salt

1 T curry powder

1 T garam marsala

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

2 T water

1 1/2 T cornstarch

  1. place all ingredients through jalapeno into slow cooker, stir
  2. cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours
  3. 1 hour before finished, mix cornstarch and water together then add to slow cooker, stir well
  4. Serve over brown rice, and naan bread

Saying No to Say Yes

I’m a little overwhelmed this week, with hockey games literally every other day and trying to prepare for my back surgery, and the 2-4 weeks of activity restrictions. I had a few social invitations as well, and even though I really wanted to go and visit with some friends, I had to decline a few so that I wouldn’t overwhelm myself even further. I am a little anxious about having this surgery to begin with, at the end of the day, although the visit would be pleasurable, I could see the stress that would be created down the road so I chose to attend to the things I need to get done.

I have been saying no to alcohol, with a few exceptions, since my diagnosis. anti-inflammatory medication like Naproxen can cause stomach and esophageal bleeding, and that risk is exasperated with alcohol. Also, I’ve been having a hard time finding a pain medication that doesn’t make me nauseous, and i can’t see how drinking on top of the medication can make that better. I figure my body has enough to deal with, why add another substance to the complicated mix.

Kinda like my diet in the weeks post surgery. My husband isn’t known for his cooking skills, let alone his healthy meal choices, so I really need to do some planning. I would love to just let him handle it, but that would mean burgers, steaks and potatoes for a veggie; it wouldn’t help my body heal itself or my waistline. He also would go out to eat every night. Either would create more stress for me in the long run, so I have to sacrifice my time now in order to make in less stressful for me later.

The problem with getting take out or going out to eat is we always treat it as a “special event”, so we tend to indulge ourselves. We’ll order the burger or high calorie alcoholic cocktail, how often do we get the opportunity to go out to eat? Realistically, for our family, some weeks we eat out 4-5 nights of the week. Was Wednesday a ‘special occasion’? no. I am not sure what was so special about Friday (other than it was Friday, and aren’t all Fridays special?). I won’t be choosing restaurants that I know have limited options for me to make good, healthy choices. And I won’t be ordering the fries (I almost always get the side salad with dressing on the side. But I may steal a few fries from my husband).

Knowing that the next two weeks will consist of plenty of Netflix and couch time, and the boredom munchies that will accompany that time, I’ll be making sure i have healthy, low calorie/nutritionally dense snacks on hand. Some things i’ll be saying yes to, the many scrumptious fruits and veggies coming into season.

Fruits: Apricots, berries, cherries, dewberries, grapefruit, melons, peaches, plums, lemons

Veggies: artichokes, asparagus, avocados, leeks, lettuce, wild greens, spinach, spring onions, radishes, mushrooms

I also anticipate several cups of air popped popcorn in my future (yeah for fiber)! I plan on utilizing the Whole Foods prepared food section, as well as Flower Child and Grabba Green, for the first few days of recovery to make things easier for everyone. I’ll post links to their sites and let you all know what we liked, or didn’t like.

I’ve been processing a lot these last few weeks. Always listen to your body and mind. Practicing mindfulness helps me determine when I need some down time to recharge my batteries, both mentally as well as physically. In hindsight, I should have either said no to more events leading up to the race, or have said no to the race. Trying to train and be socially active, lead to me skimping on the training portion, which meant i wasn’t physically prepared to run, which lead to my injury. Taking care of yourself should be your priority; if you are not taken care of how can you take care of others? Every one suffers. I’m learning that lesson every day.

If you’d like to follow my nutrition inputs and see which foods I say YES to, I use myfitnesspal, user name: DawnLawson30

Eat well!