Jan 122013

I was trying to get a healthy start this week (along with the rest of the world) so I wanted to have plenty of healthy food in my fridge.  Roasted vegetables are one of my favorite things to have around because they are soooo easy to make, and so versatile–you can eat them as a side, or throw them in a salad or sandwich. I usually stick with the the standard veggies like peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, but when I was walking through the produce isle I decided that I might as well use the beautiful root vegetables that are in season.  I used parsnips, carrots, acorn squash, beets, and onions, but you can use any combo you like.  

An in case you didn’t know what some of those vegggie look like, here they are below (I gave my boyfriend a quiz and he got 2 of the 4 correct).  Then you just cut them up into bite size chunks, toss with oil, salt, pepper, herbs (I used thyme and rosemary), and whole peeled garlic cloves.  Then you just throw it in the oven until they are soft, brown, and delicious.  Can’t think of anything much easier than that! 

Nutritional highlights:  Root vegetables are some of the healthiest out there.  The common theme among these vegetables are the high levels of antioxidants (flavonoids in onions, beta carotene in carrots, betalains in beets) which help lower inflammation and thus protect against various ailments.  Aside from all that, I love root vegetables because they have a slightly sweet flavor when cooked and they are slightly starchy so they keep me full longer than other veggies.  

Roasted Root Vegetables


  • olive oil spray
  • 1 acorn squash, halved, seeded, and sliced (any type of squash works)
  • 6 carrots, peeled, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
  • 3 parsnips, peeled, cut into 1 to 2-inch  pieces
  • 4-5 beets, washed and cut into wedges (no need to peel)
  • 1 onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Other options: celery root, any type of potato, rutabaga, leeks
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs (I used half rosemary and half thyme)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled

  • Directions: Preheat to 400°F and spray 2 baking sheets with olive oil spray. Combine all remaining ingredients except garlic in large bowl; toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Divide vegetable mixture between prepared sheets. Place 1 sheet on each oven rack. Roast 30 minutes. Stir vegetables and add 3 garlic cloves to each sheet. Continue to roast until all vegetables are tender and brown in spots, stirring and turning vegetables occasionally, about 30 minutes longer. Transfer roasted vegetables to serving platter and then serve.


    Dec 272012
    Yep, it’s another recipe with butternut squash and kale.  Gotta say it’s my favorite ingredient combo of the season.  After the amazing hash I made a few weeks ago, I just couldn’t get enough.  This recipe also has sage and toasted hazelnuts…some of my favorite winter flavors.  This is the perfect rich but still semi-healthy main course or side for all of your holiday events.  

    I made this as individual lasagna roll-ups because I was just cooking for myself and didn’t want to (slash knew it was probably not in my best interest) to have an entire lasagna around the apartment.  If I made it again I would just make the whole thing because a) it was ridiculously tasty and b) the roll-ups probably ended up being even more work.  Be warned that this recipe is pretty labor intensive but I was very happy with the flavors.  Especially the squash mixture alone, which I would definitely make again as a crostini topping!

    Nutritional Highlights:  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, butternut squash and kale are AMAZING for you.  These ingredients are so trendy right now for a very good reason! Butternut squash is packed with fiber, B6, potassium, folate, and most importantly, beta-carotene which has been linked with tons of health benefits.  Kale is a similar story, packed with Vitamin K, A and C which are all antioxidant vitamins, and also tons of fiber.  A brief plug on fiber…not only does it help keep things, you know, regular, but it also binds with cholesterol and takes it out of the body, to help keep your cholesterol in check.  Something we can all probably use after those Christmas hams.  

    Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, and Spinach (or Kale) Lasagna

    adapted from Cooking Light

    **Note:  I’m including the recipe for the whole lasagna because i think it will be easier and come out better, but for individual roll-ups, just cook the lasagna noodles, spread on the toppings, roll it up, put it in the pan and bake.


    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
    • 12 garlic cloves, unpeeled (about 1 head)
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • Cooking spray
    • large onion, vertically sliced
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • (9-ounce) packages fresh spinach or 1 bunch fresh kale
    • 5 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided
    • bay leaf
    • thyme sprig
    • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded fontina cheese, divided (I substituted some of this with goat cheese)
    • 3/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon grated whole nutmeg (optional)
    • no-boil whole wheat lasagna noodles
    • Optional: 1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts


    1. 1. Preheat oven to 425°.
    2. 2. Combine squash, 1 tablespoon oil, sage, whole unpeeled garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper in a large bowl; toss to coat. Arrange squash mixture on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until squash is tender. Cool slightly; peel garlic. Place squash and garlic in a bowl; partially mash with a fork.
    3. 3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté for 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; continue cooking for 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Place onion in a bowl.
    4. 4. Add 2 tablespoons water and spinach to Dutch oven; increase heat to high. Cover and cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Drain in a colander; cool. Squeeze excess liquid from spinach. Add spinach to onions.
    5. 5. Heat 4 1/2 cups milk, bay leaf, and thyme in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Let stand for 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf and thyme. Return pan to medium heat. Combine remaining 1/2 cup milk and flour in a small bowl. Add to pan, stirring with a whisk until blended. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/4 cups cheese, red pepper, and nutmeg.
    6. 6. Spread 1/2 cup milk mixture in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over milk mixture; top with half of squash mixture, half of spinach mixture, and 3/4 cup milk mixture. Repeat layers, ending with noodles. Spread remaining milk mixture over noodles. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes, and remove from oven. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
    7. 7. Preheat broiler.
    8. 8. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Top with toasted hazelnuts and serve.
    Dec 212012

    Because I have been so busy with finals and work and holiday parties, I haven’t been able to post anything in a while.  Then, of course, when I finally tried to post a delicious kale and butternut squash lasagna recipe, I started having some technical difficulties with my computer (hey santa, maybe a new computer this year??  I’ve been really good.)  So Just so you have a little holiday eye candy :)

    I’ve posted these before, but since I make them every single year I figured it was worthy of a repost.  I wish I could take credit for this brilliant idea, but it was my friend Erica of ericasweettooth that came up with this awesome idea.  It’s really pretty easy to put together.  I made mini brownie and blondie bites (because santa doesn’t discriminate) in a mini muffin pan, topped with a strawberry, and decorated with some cream cheese icing to make them look like santa hats.  Ho ho ho.  

    I have to make a small confession…I used boxed brownie mix.  Ghiardelli dark chocolate to be exact.  I’ve made brownies from scratch before and they just never are quite as good as these.  So there.  Loud and proud.  
    Nutritional Highlights:  Can’t say that the base of these treats are really healthy, but they’re mini and have a strawberry on top, so that counts for something, right?  Let’s be honest though…you’re not going to be totally healthy on Cristmas, so enjoy something sweet in moderation.  

    Mini Santa Hat Brownies (or Blondies)


    • 1 Box of Brownie Mix
    • 24 strawberries
    • Cream cheese
    • powdered sugar
    Directions:  Cook the brownies in a mini muffin tin according to directions.  They will only take 20-25 minutes to cook since they’re mini.  Cut off the base of the strawberries so they’re flat.  Prepare cream cheese frosting by mixing cream cheese with a few tablespoons of powdered sugar until it is sweet enough (sorry, forgot to measure!).  Put a little dot of cream cheese in the center of the brownie and place the strawberry on top.  Frost around the berry and on the top so it looks as santa like as possible.  

    Maybe Santa will leave me some really good gifts this year if I leave these out for him and his reindeer?  
    Apr 192011

    As some of you may remember from my gloating “I’m in paradise” post, I was in Cabo a few weeks ago.  I came back on a sunshine high…completely relaxed, perfectly browned, and emitting happiness.  Now, it rains every day, my skin’s dry and peely, and the stress of work and school have wiped away any residual joy.  I had to get back to my happy place, and in Cabo, I ate tortilla soup just about every day, so I wiped up a pot and crossed my fingers for teleportation.  Well, the soup tasted really good at least…

    Tortilla soup is super healthy.  It’s a brothy tomato base, flavored with garlic, onion, and peppers, cumin, oregano, cilantro, and lime.  The one thing that makes it not so good, at least in Cabo, was the mountain of fried tortilla strips garnishing the soup.  I wasn’t sure if it would work, but I baked my strips instead, and they were AMAZING…just as good as fried, really.  

    But, the real fun of tortilla soup still lies in the garnishes, so fresh avocado slices, cilantro, cojita cheese, and BAKED tortilla strips were necessary additions to this amazing soup.   

    Nutritional highlights:  This soup has it all…chicken for protein, plenty of vegetables, healthy fats (avocado and a littttttle cheese), and a little spice to kick start your metabolism.  It’s really versitile according to your preferences too.  Mine had added black beans and corn, but you could leave them out for a more traditional take.  It’s a meal in a bowl and it may be why people in mexico are all pretty thin.  Either that or the 90 degree heat.  

    Chicken Tortilla Soup


    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 medium onion, chopped
    3 large cloves of garlic, minced
    1-2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (I keep some seeds in because I love the heat)
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    6 cups low sodium chicken stock 
    2 tablespoon tomato paste (I didn’t have this, so I used a few extra chopped tomatoes)
    1 14-oz can diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles)
    Cooked chicken, shredded (I bought a rotissere chicken to make it really simple)
    1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
    juice of one fresh lime
    Optional additions to make it a one pot meal: 1 can black beans, 1 cup frozen corn
    4 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4″ strips (stale are best)
    1 cup Cotija, Chihuahua, Feta, or Monterrey cheese (I used feta)
    1 avocado, sliced or cut into chunks about 1″ square

    For the soup:  Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeño, cumin, chili powder and oregano. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft.

    Add chicken stock, tomato paste, tomatoes, cilantro and lime juice. Now here you have a choice.  If you want your soup to be uniform consistency, blend the ingredients so far and return to the pot.  You can also leave it chunky, or blend half of it which is what I did.  Add chicken, black beans, and corn.  Taste your broth and try to decide if it needs a little extra flavor–season with salt, add more lime juice or cilantro, whatever your inner Cocinera tells you.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer and let cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    For the tortilla strips:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, spread tortilla strips in a single layer on sheet and spray again. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Bake 8-10 minutes until crisp and lightly browned (keep watching and shaking the pan until they’re really crisp). 

    Prepare your condiments plate: Grated cheese, chopped cilantro, tortilla strips, sliced avocado, and maybe some chopped red onion.  

    To serve, ladle soup into a bowl and add all the toppings.  And enjoy a really brief trip to mexico!