Beat the Heat Watermelon Salad

Perhaps the best thing about summer is watermelon. And we certainly take advantage of that all summer long!  Since this week it’s hot hot HOT outside, I figured it was a great time to share this super simple salad.

1/2 watermelon- cubed
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 green onions chopped
a handful of fresh mint, chopped

Cut the watermelon into cubes. This is a very messy process so I find that putting a towel under the cutting board helps.

Add the green onion and mint.

In a measuring cup whisk together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Pour over the melon.

Mix well. If the melon is already cold you can serve immediately, or you can chill for an hour before serving.

This is such a simple salad, but it is so refreshing and makes a great dish to share at cookouts.

*All recipes are my own.  Please do not repost without permission.*

Kale Pesto

Most jarred pestos are made with cheese- something I cannot have.  So since I love pesto I made up my own recipe a couple of years ago. This one uses kale as the base so it counts as a serving of greens for the day.  What better way to get your greens than garlicky and served over pasta?

This recipe freezes beautifully so it makes a terrific freezer meal.  But beware- it is very garlicky!  If you take if for lunch at the office, bring a few mints along with you.  I recommend Glee Gum.:-)

1 bunch fresh Kale

1/2 cup almonds

Juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
4-6 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup Olive Oil (or more)
Sea Salt to taste

1. Remove stems from Kale and blanch in boiling water for 5 minutes. Immediately cool under cold running water. Once cool, drain and squeeze additional water out of the Kale.

2. While Kale is cooking, chop your almonds in your food processor.

Once they were ground up into small piece add the garlic cloves and pulse those several times.

3.Add the kale, about a teaspoon of salt (or less). Drizzle in 1/2 cup olive oil while processing the kale. Add the lemon juice. Process to your desired consistency.

4. If you intend to freeze it, you can do so in muffin tins. 1 muffin cup is roughly 1/2 cup of pesto. Fill the cups, cover with plastic wrap, and put in your freezer for about 12 hours. You will need to use a butter knife to get each pesto “muffin” out. Put them in freezer bags to use whenever you want.

So many ways to eat this: on a crostini as an appetizer, served warm over pasta as a meal, as a sandwich spread, served as a dip with veggies or crackers…
The first time we had this we served it over hot pasta.
If you want, feel free to cut the garlic. It can be a bit strong and is better added to taste.


Until next time: Happy Healthful Cooking!

Fresh Marinara with Squash Over Polenta Cakes

I actually came up with this dish a few years back when we were part of a CSA and had more squash than we knew what to do with.  I cheat and use Trader Joes jarred Organic Marinara for the simplicity.  Eating this over polenta is a nice change from pasta.
This was such an easy summer dish- Vegan and Gluten Free too!

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive Oil spray
Earth Balance Vegan Spread
1 large onion- sliced thin
garlic- I used about 3 cloves- minced
8 ball squash- diced
1 ball squash- diced
Zucchini- sliced
yellow summer squash- sliced
Trader Joes Tomato Basil Marinara
1 green pepper- chopped
Fresh Thyme
Fresh Basil
Fresh Oregano ( you can use dried if you don’t have fresh)
Trader Joe’s organic polenta

1.Cut all the veggies and set aside.

2.Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray- I prefer Trader Joes Olive Oil spray. I find that lightly spraying a pan before adding the oil helps prevent sticking- especially with eggs and veggies. Add about 1 tablespoon EVOO. Add all the veggies at the same time. They will cook down.

3. Let them cook on medium- stirring occasionally, until they start to soften. While the veggies are cooking, prepare your herbs (if using fresh).

I am loving having fresh herbs at my fingertips all summer.

4.Once the veggies have cooked down, and the squash has started to soften, add the marinara sauce and the herbs.

5.Let the sauce simmer while preparing the polenta. If using the kind from TJ’s- slice it.

6.Spray a skillet with non-stick cooking spray, add the Earth Balance and minced (or pressed) garlic.

7. Once you can smell the garlic, add the sliced polenta. Premaid polenta is pretty bland so I cooked mine in the garlic to add extra flavor.

8. Let cook until heated through. Make sure to get both sides. I drained mine on paper towels before serving them.

9.Serve the polenta with the sauce on top.

Use whatever squash you can find at the Farmer’s Market or at your local store.

Until next time, Happy Healthful Cooking!!

Healthful Pico de Gallo


I started making my own homemade Pico  a few years ago.  It was such a huge hit with my family that during the summer months when fresh veggies are plentiful, I make it pretty often.   This is a great alternative to jarred salsas, which can contain added sugar, or be pricey if they are organic.  I use this as a salad dressing, with homemade chips, on tacos… the possibilities are endless. As with all my recipes, I highly recommend using only organic produce.I do not measure anything with this recipe- it is all according to personal taste.

Serves: 4-6 as an appetizer

3-4 large fresh tomatoes
1 medium red onion
1 jalapeno
juice from 1 lime
large bunch fresh cilantro
Pinch Kosher Salt or Pink Himalayan  Salt

Cut or dice each veggie the size you want it. I chop them as small as I can stand to, with the onion being the smallest. I also sometimes only add in half the onion depending on how much tomato I use. It really is all according to taste. We like it pretty spicy so we use a whole jalapeno with the seeds. If I know the kids are going to be eating a lot I will cut back on the heat for them. Once all the veggies are added, squeeze the fresh lime juice over top.

As for the salt- I add just a pinch to start with and adjust that if needed. Remember- you can always add more salt but you can’t take it away once you have too much. Mix well.

I use Mason jars for everything now. If you are going to take this to a party you could even dress up the jar with ribbon or some sort of decoration for the occasion.

Until next time: Happy, Healthful Cooking!

Black Beans and Roasted Potatoes Bowl

This meal has become one of our favorite “on-the-fly” meals for busy nights or when we have nothing planned.  I always have the ingredients on hand for this meal.  Occasionally I will change it up- adding fresh tomatoes instead of canned ( and now I only use organic canned) or adding red or yellow peppers.

Black Beans and Roasted Potato Bowl
  • 4-6 medium white potatoes- diced
  • 1 can black beans
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 can Rotel Tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 jalapeno diced (remove seeds for less heat)
  • 1/2 red onion- diced
  • juice of 1half of a  lime
  • 1 teaspoon Hot Mexican Chili Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • Trader Joes South African Smoke Seasoning (optional)
Preheat your oven to 430F. Spray your cooking sheet with your favorite cooking spray.  Dice your potatoes, toss with olive oil and seasonings of you choice.  Roast in the oven until done. (I usually broil mine for the last few minutes to help crisp them.)
This is the best seasoning blend ever!  If you haven’t tried it ( and you live near a Trader Joes) you really must try this!  It’s awesome on just about anything.

While the potatoes are roasting: Saute your onions until they are slightly softened.  Add your jalapeno and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add your drained and rinsed black beans, tomatoes, lime juice and your seasonings. Let simmer until the liquid is mostly gone.

If you don’t have canned tomatoes, you can use fresh diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, or even some salsa.
Serve the black beans over the roasted potatoes.

This recipe was really pretty spicy.    It’s totally your preference as to how hot you want it. I love it with the potatoes instead of  rice because it makes it so much heartier and more filling.  Plus if you season your potatoes you get even more flavor.

This is  a totally gluten free, vegan meal. It’s actually free of most allergens. While this version is vegan, I have added a fried egg on top for extra protein.  This is also quite kid friendly.
Until next time, Happy Healthful Cooking!
** This recipe is one of my originals and is from my blog The Dairy Free Omnivore.  If you would like to share on your own blog, please request permission. Thank you.**

What Does a Nutrition Coach’s Kitchen Look Like?

This will be a 2 part series: this post is my kitchen cabinets, the next will be my freezers and refrigerator. 

As a nutrition coach I answer questions all day long about what people should avoid, what they should be buying, ways to eat better, what do I eat, where do I shop, etc.  But how do they know I really follow my own advice at home?  They see me in an office, and what I bring with me for snacks, but they have no idea if I REALLY eat well at home.   I decided to do a tour of my kitchen cabinets so you can see that I do take my own advice and strive to eat the way I advise my clients to eat.

I have a rather small kitchen, as my house was built in the 1970’s.  We do not have a pantry at the moment, but we are working on that. I have somehow made everything fit in our small kitchen.  A friend once made the comment to me: “You really do have a working kitchen, don’t you?”  I honestly do.  Our kitchen is not for show at all.  There is constantly something going on in it- whether something is baking, juicing, slow cooking, the dishwasher is going, etc. Currently I have bread rising, black beans in the slow cooker, and the dishwasher running.  The only time my kitchen is quiet is at night once everyone is asleep.  We make 3 meals a day, 7 days a week in our small, working kitchen.

Since I do not have a pantry, I have cabinets designated for certain items.  About every 2 months or so I rearrange, normally while my husband is gone for the day.  He will come home and have no idea where anything is- it’s become a joke between us.

First up is my dry goods cabinet.  As you can see, I seem to have a small problem with mason jars.:-) I love my mason jars for storage- I can write on the lids, they keep out the humidity in the summer months ( and in the South that is important), and they  look pretty.  Plus we now get most of our dried goods from the bulk bins at Whole Foods, and storing them in bags just is not a good idea.

WP_20140325_12_15_17_ProOn the top shelf: My spare jars, and a bag of shredded coconut- because there was nowhere else to put it.  Middle shelf: Dinosaur shaped pasta ( a fun find at Whole Foods this weekend so we got some as a treat), wild rice mix, quinoa, black-eyed-peas, kidney beans, black beans, jasmine rice, brown rice, sunflower seeds- raw and roasted,  popcorn kernels. I also have Millet but I keep that in the fridge. Bottom shelf: Late July chips, Panda Puffs, and a homemade nut mix with almonds, peanuts, and dried cherries.  Oh and a bag of mixed dried super berries.



This is my breakfast/coffee/catch all cabinet.  Contents change weekly, depending on what I need the space for. Top shelf: Individual packs of kids Superfood powder for traveling, my Shakeology, my one vice- Kettle brand potato chips.  Behind those are 365 animal cracker packs for game weekends. Middle shelf: Silk chocolate almond milk- for game weekends, our coffee beans, teas- my husband’s Earl Grey and my To Life tea. Behind those is a tin of Rooibos tea. Bottom shelf: Dried apple chips for the girls for game weekends, a box of EnvirKids gluten free snack bars, jar of cacao nibs, jar of cacao powder, bag of goji berries, large jar of oats, raw almonds, dried apricots, and our granola.


WP_20140325_12_05_57_ProThis is my other dry goods/canned goods cabinet. Top shelf:  Yes, that is in fact a large bag of sugar.  I use it for baking sometimes.   (My middle daughter has a medical condition and she needs the extra calories, so I do bake with regular sugar from time to time. )  Garden of Eden taco kit ( it is actually very good).While I prefer to cook as much from scratch as possible, this is our “Tuesday night, mom’s working late” meal sometimes.  I also keep my surplus of rice, and my pasta on the top shelf- including elbow macaroni and spaghetti pasta. As you can see we are not a gluten free family- there is no need for us to be.  However, we do strive to incorporate other grains into our meals other than just wheat and have cut way back on our gluten consumption.   Middle shelf: Big bottle of Braggs ACV- I love my Braggs! I have a bottle in my fridge, and this one in reserves so I don’t run out.  Canned goods- we only buy canned goods in the winter, and only organics. Right now I have a few leftover cans of beans and diced tomatoes.  As soon as tomato season arrives I will freeze my own diced tomatoes.  I also have Trader Joes Superfood preserves, organic maple syrup (unopened), Muir Glenn salsa, amaranth, cocktail sauce, tarter sauce, sweet chili sauce, panko bread crumbs, and a bag of Arborio rice. Bottom shelf: Tea.  Lots of tea!  My Numi tea kit, ginger tea, Antioxidant green tea, Echinacea tea, chamomile, Rooibos, Numi Rooibos, Numi Jasmine Green, organic local honey.


WP_20140325_12_01_39_Pro My spice cabinet is my favorite cabinet. As you can see I have a pretty good collection, including: Cumin, Saigon cinnamon, chili powder, curry powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, cloves, sage, turmeric, coriander, white pepper, all spice, bay leaves, lemongrass, ginger, sesame seeds, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, cream of tartar, lemon pepper, smoke rub (homemade), taco seasoning (homemade), cayenne pepper, dried garlic, basil, thyme, oregano, Italian blend, rosemary, and braai seasoning.  On the top shelf I keep table salt, sea salt, and Kosher salt. On the top shelf: Flours-whole wheat and unbleached.

WP_20140325_11_41_16_ProMy baking cabinet:  Top shelf- My huge flour container.  We buy Bob’s Red Mill flour in bulk and keep it in a large container for easy access.  I also keep my brown sugar, powdered sugar, and containers for homemade lip balms up there.  Middle shelf- Oils: sunflower, organic, non-gmo canola.   I keep my coconut oil and olive oil in a basket next to my stove. I have cocoa butter, Shea Nut and Grapeseed oil  for making lip balms. Other items: cocoa powder, egg replacer, and apparently an extra jar of curry powder.  Bottom shelf: my essential oils- Lavender, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Grapefruit, Peppermint, and Ylang Ylang. Baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract,  peppermint extract, yeast packs.

And my new favorite addition to my kitchen: my herb shelf.  My husband made it for me this past Sunday while I was out running errands.  We still need to stain it, but I couldn’t wait to put it up and try it out.  Once the weather clears up we will stain it.  Right now I keep my cilantro and parsley up there.  I also am re-growing 2 celery roots  at the moment in the white bowl.  I am sure this shelf will be totally filled up with herbs in no time.

WP_20140325_12_15_44_ProSo there you go- that is what is currently in my kitchen cabinets. I do try hard to live by example and practice what I preach.  We are transitioning to making 95% of our food from scratch, but that does not happen overnight.  We do eat 99% of our meals at home, and I shop weekly for perishables. I am also transitioning to online grocery shopping, and once I master that I will post how and where we order our food from.

Until next time,

Happy, Healthy Cooking.

Homemade Stock

Homemade chicken stock is not a new concept, yet it is something our society seems to have gotten away from in recent years.  It is easier to just open a box of processed broth when we want to make homemade soup. But processed broth is full of sodium, and just does not taste nearly as good as fresh, homemade stock.  We are relatively new to doing this ourselves, simply because I never really thought about it before.  But this winter my husband and I used our turkey frame from Christmas dinner and made a huge amount of broth. Once we had it all packaged up  we figured out that it saved us roughly $30 in stock per bird.  That was totally worth the small bit of effort it takes to make this instead of just buying the cartons.

Whether I am using chicken or turkey, my basic stock recipe remains pretty consistent:

  • 3-4 whole carrots
  • 3-4 stalks celery ( I usually use the older ones I have in the fridge, and save my fresher ones for juicing and snacks.)
  • 1 large white onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peels left on
  • 1 small bunch fresh parsley
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • Himalayan sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
  • water to cover


WP_20140317_17_34_36_ProI normally cook up a chicken on Sunday afternoon, cut the meat off to use in lunches the first 2 days of the week, and put the carcass in the fridge. If I am really on top of things, I will cut my veggies and put them in with the carcass so that on Monday morning all I have to do is dump it all in the slow cooker, add the water, and turn it on before I leave for the office.  If that doesn’t happen, then my husband will throw everything together after I leave on Monday.   We let it cook on low for 10-12 hours,   basically all day long.  Around 10pm I turn off the slow cooker and let the broth cool.  We usually don’t need to skim it because I don’t use any oil to roast the chicken.  We strain out the veggies, bone pieces, skin, and spoon it into mason jars to freeze it.  I can get 3 medium mason jars full out of 1 frame.



WP_20140310_21_31_12_ProInstead of wasting the veggies I will take the carrots, celery, and half the onion and grind in the food processor to use as a soup or tomato sauce thickener.  Those go into smaller jars and then into the freezer.

You can use this a the base for soups you would normally use chicken stock for, you can boil your rice, quinoa, millet… in the broth for extra flavor, you can use this any way you would normally use chicken stock.

Here’s a little tip: write on the lid with dry erase marker so you know when you made it.:-)

I will  be posting recipes for homemade veggie stock, and homemade beef stock in the coming weeks.

Until then: Happy, Healthy Cooking!

~This recipe is my own creation.  If you would like to use this specific recipe in a post or share on your site, Facebook page, or blog , please ask permission beforehand.  Thank you.~