Game Day Black Bean Dip

I can’t be the only one who is excited about Super Bowl game day food.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Patriots but the whole experience of foods, friends and the half-time show just adds that special element to a great game.  If some of you are still following your health-related New Year’s resolutions or would just like to add a lighter option to the menu, this satisfying dip is sure to please everyone.  It’s vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free and yet packed with protein, fiber and flavor to keep you going during those stressful moments of the game.

I like to serve these with homemade tortilla chips: just cut tortillas into triangles, lay on a cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick olive oil spray then spray the tops and sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 5-10 minutes in a 375 F degree oven.

Happy Super Bowl XLIX Everyone!


Game Day Black Bean Dip
Makes about 2 cups
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4-1/2 cup red onion, diced
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
¼ teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Add an additional tablespoon of olive oil or water if dip appears too thick. 
Garnish with chopped cilantro, a drizzle of olive oil, sour cream or diced tomatoes.  Serve with pita chips, veggies or homemade tortilla chips.

Nutrition Facts: (Per ¼ cup) 241 Calories, 7g Fat, 34g Carbohydrates, 12g Protein, 8g Fiber, 4mg Sodium, 811mg Potassium


Spinach Pesto Pasta with Asparagus

This pesto recipe is a great solution this time of year when fresh basil is somewhat hard to find in most grocery stores.  It also tastes amazing and stores well in the refrigerator or freezer.  I am planning on saving half of the recipe for a pesto pizza later this week.
My spinach pesto pasta is a great all in one meal for family.  Alternatively, it can be made ahead by storing the cooked pasta separately from the pesto and vegetables until you are ready to eat.  Enjoy this delicious dish that is sure to please everyone.

Spinach Pesto Pasta with Asparagus
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups uncooked pasta (shells, farfalle, etc.)
2 cups asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup spinach pesto

Spinach Pesto
Yield: about 1 cup

2 cups fresh spinach
1/3 cup pine nuts
6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil + 1 Tbsp if needed
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:  Prepare spinach pesto by combining ingredients in food processor, being sure to scrape down sides half way through blending and adding additional tablespoon of olive oil if needed.
Cook pasta according to directions, until al dente.  Scoop pasta out with a slotted spoon to preserve pasta water.  Add asparagus and tomatoes to boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes.  Strain water from pot and add asparagus, tomatoes, pasta and pesto back into pot to combine and heat for 1-2 minutes.

Nutrition Facts: 298 Calories, 18g Fat, 30g Carbohydrates, 8g Protein, 2.5g Fiber, 23mg Sodium, 416mg Potassium


Spicy Cauliflower with Creamy Guacamole

I recently watched an episode of Pioneer Woman and she whipped up a recipe similar to this (see here).  She raved about how good it was and that she was going to enjoy the entire cauliflower all by herself.  Well, I have to admit I did the exact same thing.  At less than 250 calories its hard not to with this combo of spicy and cool.  I can say this will be a recipe I make again and again, possibly trying a buffalo version.  Let me know what you all think!

Spicy Cauliflower with Creamy Guacamole
Serve 2

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon garlic
1 small head of cauliflower
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 lime
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup guacamole
1-2 teaspoons light ranch dressing

Directions:  Heat olive oil in a medium saute pan. Wash cauliflower and cut in half.  Break cauliflower into bite sized pieces using your hands.  Add garlic to pan when oil is hot.  Add in cauliflower and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add soy sauce, Sriracha and juice of half the lime.  Continue to cook until cauliflower is fork tender.
Mix guacamole and ranch dressing in a small dish.  Place cauliflower on serving dish and top with cilantro and another squeeze of lime juice.  Serve.

Nutrition Facts: 220 Calories, 13g Fat, 24g Carbohydrates, 7g Protein, 8.5g Fiber, 444mg Sodium, 223mg Potassium


Fish Tacos with Cilantro Slaw

Ahh, fish tacos, my love of them runs deep.  Any time I am at a restaurant you can pretty much bet I will choose either salmon or fish tacos.  I thought I would attempt to whip up a delicious version for you all that is both vibrant and dairy free (whoop whoop!). 
I decided to use store bought guacamole (Wholly guacamole) to help streamline the work in this recipe but if you have a great homemade version go for it! You fancy, huh?  I also use Vegenaise and Sriracha to make a simple sauce to top these tacos off that is vegan but don't let that fool you.  (It pairs so well with sweet potato fries, too FYI.)  The rest is easy to assemble and just squeeze lime juice all over everything if your unsure.  
Hope you enjoy these as much as I did!  See you all back here soon!

Fish Tacos with Cilantro Slaw
Serves 4

4 6-inch tortillas
1/2 pound white fish such as haddock or tilapia
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup guacamole
1/2 lime plus wedges for serving

Creamy Chili Sauce:
1/4 cup sour cream, Vegenaise or greek yogurt
1 teaspoon Sriracha or chili sauce

Cilantro Slaw:
1 1/2 cups purple cabbage, sliced finely
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 a lime

Heat grill pan or sauté pan.  Brush fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until flaky and golden brown.
Meanwhile, prepare cilantro slaw by combining ingredients in a medium bowl.  In a smaller bowl, combine ingredients for chili sauce.
Warm tortillas and to assemble, spread 1/2 tablespoon of guacamole on the middle of a tortilla.  Add fish then cilantro slaw and drizzle chili sauce on top.  Serve with a slice of lime.

Nutrition Facts: 510 Calories, 32g Fat, 30g Carbohydrates, 25g Protein, 6g Fiber, 360mg Sodium, 377mg Potassium


2014 Reading List

Looking for a new book to pick up for 2015?  Here is a quick list of titles that kept me busy over the past year.  A few of my friends and I started a book club which helped me branch out a little and cure a few "Oh I always wanted to read that!" problems.  We have completed five books so far and are currently reading Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness which I am absolutely loving and strongly recommend at this point.  My two completed favorites of the year include The Glass Castle: A Memoir and Scar Tissue.  What books would you recommend for me or my book club to read in the coming months?

2014 Reading List:

The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh
My Drunk Kitchen - Hannah Hart
Giada's Feel Good Food - Giada de Laurentiis
On the Road - Jack Kerouac
The 5 Love Languages - Gray Chapman
Sisterhood Everlasting - Ann Brashares
Scar Tissue - Anthony Kiedis and Larry Soloman
Gone Girl: A Novel - Gillian Flynn
The Glass Castle: A Memoir - Jeannette Walls
Fifth Mountain - Paulo Coelho
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness - Susannah Cahalan (not yet finished)


5 Ingredient White Bean Soup

Hope you all had a safe and wonderful New Years!  I had a nice few weeks off from blogging but I'm happy to be back.
This first recipe of 2015 is so fast and easy you might be surprised how great it tastes.  It is also a great base for a number of variations just by adding chicken, sausage, mushrooms or whatever else you may have in your kitchen.  Because this white bean soup stores well and it is a perfect meal to prepare on Sunday and you'll be set for lunches for the week.
Enjoy this cozy meal that you can be sure will be in line with your New Year's resolutions!

5 Ingredient White Bean Soup
Serves 6

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
2 16-ounce cans of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 to 1 cup of spinach, kale or other leafy greens
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot.  Add shallots and sauté until golden brown.  Add 4 cups of broth and beans to pot.
Remove about 1/2 cup of beans and a few tablespoons of broth and puree in a food processor.  Add back to pot and add greens.
Serve with homemade croutons or crunchy bread.

Nutrition Facts: 469 Calories, 6g Fat, 76g Carbohydrates, 30g Protein, 31g Fiber, 294mg Sodium, 1783mg Potassium