Happy Healthy Monday! This is a light, fresh dish that can whipped up quickly for a healthy lunch or side dish any day of the week. I divided it into 3 portions to pack for lunch for work. 

Ingredients:

1 cup orzo
4 cups vegetable broth (chicken would work if you have it on hand)
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
1 shallot, finely minced
1 cup peas ( I used fresh, but frozen are fine)
grated parmesan cheese 

Bring the broth to a boil in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Cook orzo in broth until al dente. Drain orzo, saving remaining cooking liquid. While the orzo is cooking, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat with a bit of nonstick cooking spray. Add asparagus, cooking 3-4 minutes, or until fork tender but not mushy. Add shallots and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add peas, and cook 2-3 minutes until tender. Add drained orzo, and any remaining liquid. Mix well and season to taste if needed. Top with parmesan and enjoy! 
 
 
 originally saw this recipe on another site - made it exactly as directed - and thought, "It was ok. Just ok." It wasn't the best lasagna I'd made, but I could see it's potential. Today I've made it again and kicked it up a notch. The results were fantastic and will be a part of our weekly rotation.
Just as a note - the sauce recipe makes more than you need, so you can have extra for pizza, pasta, to freeze, etc. Make sure to read the recipe in full, as I have divided the ingredients into two lists - one for sauce and one for filling.

Ingredients for Sauce:

  • (2) 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes ( I like Muir Glen with basil )
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock ( can use chicken if you have it and aren't vegetarian)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • pinch of red pepper flakes


In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil. Add onions and carrots, cooking until soft. Add garlic, stirring 1 minute until fragrant. Add tomatoes and stock. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, and pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir together and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Taste for seasoning and remove from heat.
Ingredients for Filling:

  • 10 lasagna noodles with curly edge, fully cooked
  • 32 oz. sauce
  • 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder


Preheat oven to 400˚ F. In a large skillet over medium heat, add oil. Add onions and mushrooms and cook until soft. Add garlic and stir until fragrant. Remove from heat to cool a few minutes. In a large bowl, mix spinach, ricotta, parmesan, egg, seasonings, and half of the mozzarella. Add mushroom mixture and blend well.

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and put about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of the dish. Lay cooked noodles out on parchment paper and line each with 1/3 cup of filling. The curly edges help to keep the filling in line. Leave a gap at the end of the noodle to seal when it is rolled up. Place the rolls in the baking dish, seam side down.
Cover with remaining sauce and remaining mozzarella. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Enjoy!
 
 
My basil plant is growing out of control, so I knew that pesto was in my near future. Pesto is one of those things that you can make in a small batch just enough for dinner, or make a huge batch to portion out and freeze. They both take the same amount of effort - hardly any! With a few simple ingredients, you'll be well on your way to dressing pasta, veggies, slathering on bread, or eating with a spoon! 

Before I get to the recipe, let me fill you in a few health benefits of this delicious pesto. 

Basil is full of anti-inflammatory properties. Eugenol, an oil in basil helps to block enzymes that cause swelling. Got arthritis? Add basil to your dishes! 

Garlic is delicious. Garlic is known for enhancing the body's immune cell activity, promotes the well-being of the cardiovascular, immune, and circulatory systems.

Pistachios are a wonderful add in to this dish. They contain fiber, protein, copper, manganese, B6, folate, vitamin E, iron, and biotin.  It doesn't hurt that they taste great! 

Recipe yields approximately 11 tablespoons. I would recommend 2-3 tbsp per serving of pasta. 

Ingredients:

4 large garlic cloves
30 g pistachios
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup, packed, fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a food processor, pulse garlic cloves until minced. Add pistachios and repeat. Next, add basil, cheese, and oil. The result will be thick. You can absolutely add more oil, but olive oil is high in calories, while still being heart healthy. I personally choose to thin mine out (if need be) with a little bit of reserved pasta water when using with pasta. 

Boil pasta as directed, and add pesto to hot pasta, tossing to coat. Serve and enjoy! Happy Healthy Monday, y'all! 
 
 
Happy Healthy Monday! 

Who doesn't love a good creamy sauce for their pasta? As I've been on this dieting journey, I haven't been wanting to give up my favorite things, but know I need to to get rid of their delicious calories. Last night, I threw together a QUICK and easy tomato sauce in under 15 minute minutes - with a trick to give it a creamy texture with NO cream. Just a few simple ingredients and a delicious result. 

This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled - so cater it to your needs. This recipe makes about 1-1/2 cups of sauce. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. mixed cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch red pepper flakes ( or more if you like to spice things up!)
  • 6 large basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade (Look HERE if you're unfamiliar!)
  • Blender or food processor 

In a large nonstick skillet ( I swear by nonstick in losing weight, because you can get by with using less fat) over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Follow by adding the tomatoes. Let them cook, tossing to coat in the olive oil, approximately 10 minutes or until they begin to burst. You can assist them after a few minutes by piercing with a fork. 

Once the tomatoes have burst and are beginning to make a sauce, add the garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, and garlic salt. Cook, stirring together 1-2 minutes. Finally, add the basil just to stir together. 
If you like a chunky more rustic sauce - you can leave it as is and serve over your favorite pasta. In order to get that "creamy' texture, add it straight from the pan to a blender or food processor. The bit of olive oil acts as an emulsifier and blends the ingredients together. This recipe is so tasty and so simple - you can do it any night of the week with no guilt! 
 
 
Mondays are probably the toughest day of the week. You had a super busy weekend. Maybe you had a relaxing weekend and you don't want to get back to the hustle and bustle of the week. Perhaps you didn't get around to meal planning and you don't know what to feed the family. Here's a delicious, healthy, and filling meal with only TWO - yes, I said, TWO ingredients! 

Serves 4.

8 oz. penne pasta
1 package Trader Joe's Cauliflower Romanesco Basilic

I bought this frozen veggie package about a month ago and forgot about it. When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to make for dinner, I saw it in the freezer and wanted to try it. Romanesco is kind of a hybrid between broccoli and cauliflower - and very delicious. This package comes with a basil-garlic-butter - which makes a sauce for your pasta! Cook the veggies and the pasta according to their package directions - simultaneously.  Drain the pasta - toss with the veggies/sauce, add a bit of salt and top with grated Parmesan cheese if you like. This would also be great if you wanted to add a protein like chicken or shrimp. Enjoy! 
 
 
As my work day was coming to a close today, I had NO clue what I was making for dinner. I wasn't even in the mood to cook. Hubby offered to pick up dinner and bring it home, but being a vegetarian on a diet doesn't really make it very easy to eat out. 

I told hubby I'd come up with something. As I was driving home, I was flipping through the channels on the radio and stumbled upon "My Guy" by Mary Wells. Instantly I thought of MY guy, and I was in a better mood than I was previously, and was ready to get home and make dinner. Also, who doesn't love Motown? When I was growing up, my dad owned a restaurant that played oldies. I know all of the songs by heart and they take me back to many happy memories.

I get home and start rooting around to see what we've got in. I see some asparagus that needs to be used. Hubby mentioned wanting pasta. I crank the Motown station on my speakers in the kitchen, then I see my another point of inspiration: 
A good friend of ours gave us this bottle of wine about two weeks ago. We ended up not drinking it for the occasion we were given it for, but tonight seemed like a perfect time. Now, onto dinner. I just want a simple, but most importantly DELICIOUS pasta with some veggies. And wine. I'm dancing around the kitchen, happy as a clam, making a delicious meal for my hubs who is on his way home.

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter
4 oz. green onions, white/light green parts cut into thin slices
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
salt and pepper
1/4 cup white wine 
1/4 cup vegetable broth (chicken would be fine)
3/4 lb. asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup peas
8 oz. campanelle, or other medium pasta
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese - however you like it (I like shaved or shredded)
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Bring a large pot AND a small pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta to the large pot and cook as directed on original packaging. Cook the asparagus in the smaller pot until tender, 2-4 minutes. Remove the asparagus and transfer to and ice bath to stop the cooking process. 
While those are boiling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and shallot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until tender, but do not brown, about 5 minutes. Add wine, and simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Add broth and bring to a simmer. 

After removing the asparagus from the boiling water, add the peas and cook about 2 minutes or until just tender. Transfer to bowl with asparagus. Drain vegetables. Add veggies to broth/wine mixture and stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. 
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Add pasta and parmesan cheese to the veggie mixture. Stir to mix, adding pasta water in small increments if it seems dry. (I added the full cup to mine.) Taste, and re-season with salt and pepper to taste if you need to. 

Divide among 4 bowls. It won't hurt if you add extra parmesan! Pour a glass of wine and get ready to tuck into a fabulous meal.
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We eat and head back to the kitchen. Motown is still playing, and hubby asks me for a dance. 

Louis, Etta, Marvin, Stevie, Smokey, & Gladys keep us dancing and enjoying each other's company. Finally Sugar cuts in. Why should the humans be the only ones having fun? 

From not knowing what to make and not even wanting to cook - to wining, dining, and dancing - on a week night! THAT'S the power of Motown.

 
 
If you've got time to boil some pasta - you've got time to make this dish! It's a quick and easy (not to mention healthy and delicious) week night meal that can be put together in a flash. This recipe serves 2 - feel free to double or triple to your needs.

Ingredients:

4 oz. penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
5 ounces baby spinach
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. sliced mushrooms (any variety you prefer will work)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons shredded parmesan
1/4 cup fresh mozzarella ( I used pearls, but any will do )

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook as directed on the package. While the pasta cooks, add the olive oil to a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and a heavy sprinkle of salt and pepper. The salt will help to bring the moisture out of the mushrooms and help you to create a "sauce." Once the mushrooms have softened slightly, add the garlic, and cook about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the spinach, and cover the skillet with a lid. After 1-2 minutes, remove the lid and stir the now-wilted spinach. Add the tomatoes to warm them through and re-season with salt and pepper to taste. If at any time you think your dish looks dry - feel free to add a little of the pasta water. You don't want it to be floating, but you want everything wet. (In the 3 times I've made this dish, I've never added more than a few tablespoons of the pasta water.)

By now the pasta is a perfect al dente! Drain the pasta, and toss it into the skillet with the vegetable mixture. Mix thoroughly, allowing the pasta to soak up the flavors in the skillet. Right before plating, add the fresh mozzarella to "knock the chill off," as I like to say. Plate the pasta between 2 bowls and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Dig in!