Here we are in March…in like a lion, out like a lamb. In south Florida we are most definitely enjoying lamb-like weather. Jimmy and I are found in the courtyard often, reading and writing, the dog typically sprawled at our feet. Jimmy will spend his mornings outside working on his laptop, leisurely smoking his pipe which, by the way, smells positively heavenly. We read the New York Times in the morning and take pleasure in a simple happy hour or dinner in the evening. Clearly the mosquitos haven’t found our house yet…but they will. In the meantime, if it’s morning or evening, assume we’re puttering outside. This dish is a spring and summer joy. Simple and healthful, it may be served as a vegetable side dish or as an entree with a piece of grilled tuna or chicken atop. It’s lovely at a picnic or poolside as it travels extremely well. Spaghetti squash is much lighter than pasta and undeniably lower in calories. Those who are allergic to wheat will love this alternative. No more sneezing and itchy eye! Regardless of your reason to try this dish, I think you’ll truly enjoy it and so will your family.
Fresh Tomato and Pesto Spaghetti Squash
- 2 spaghetti squash, medium size
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 pints grape tomatoes
- 1 1/2-2 cups fresh basil leaves plus a few sprigs for garnish
- 1 7-ounce container of store-bought pesto or approximately 1 cup of homemade, I use store-bought, reduced fat
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese. This is completely optional and may be left out for a dairy-free, vegan or paleo dish. It’s still absolutely delicious.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 400°. Line a large baking sheet with tin foil and cover foil lightly with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.
- Cut both squashes in half lengthwise.
- Using a large, metal spoon, scoop out all the seeds from the squashes. Discard the seeds.
- Place the squashes cut side down on the baking sheet and bake for 45-60 minutes or until the flesh is fork tender. I check them at 45 minutes and return to the oven checking for doneness every 5 minutes or so.
- While the squashes are baking finely mince the garlic and place in a medium size, non-reactive bowl. I use glass.
- Cut the tomatoes in half and add them to the garlic.
- Using your hands, rip the fresh basil into small, bite size pieces and add them to the garlic-tomato mixture.
- Add the pesto and olive oil to the tomato mixture. If using parmesan cheese, add it as well. Mix thoroughly so all ingredients are well combined.
- Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until the squashes have baked.
- Remove the squashes from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes or until they’re easy to handle.
- With a small paring knife cut the flesh of the squashes lengthwise down to the shell being careful not to cut through to your hand, making 3 or 4 parallel cuts, each cut about 3/4″-1″ apart. This allows bite size pieces and makes it easier to assemble the dish.
- With a large, metal spoon scoop the flesh out of the squashes and place into a large bowl.
- Pour the tomato-pesto mixture over the squash and gently toss until all the squash is well coated.
- Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with any fresh basil leaves and serve.
- If serving within a few hours the bowl may be covered with plastic wrap and then transferred to the serving platter right before serving.
This vegetable soup is perfect for those nights when you crave warm, comforting soup but have little energy, never mind time. The vegetables are cut into good-sized chunks, cook until tender then are blitzed with an immersion blender or in a food processor or blender. The recipe makes quite a bit but the soup is even more flavorful the following day and packs well for lunch at one’s desk. It’s incredibly thick and hearty so often I serve it alone. Paired with a grilled cheese sandwich of some sort, the soup with half a sandwich will leave you stuffed and satisfied. If you prefer your soup thinner, by all means, add a bit more water or broth. Make certain to blend until smooth and the end result will be a creamy, velvety meal. Enjoy!
Creamed Vegetable Soup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 medium onions, cut into eighths
- 7-9 cloves of peeled garlic
- 5 medium zucchini, cut into 1″ rounds
- 5 medium organic carrots, cut into 1/2″ rounds
- 5 stalks of celery, cut into 1/2″ pieces
- 7 large tomatoes, cut into eighths and core end trimmed off
- 1 pound fresh green beans, stalk end snapped off
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 large handful fresh basil leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large dutch oven or soup pot heat olive oil over medium heat and add onions. Stir occasionally, and cook until they begin to turn translucent.
- Add the garlic, zucchini, carrots and celery and continue stirring. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften.
- Add the tomatoes, green beans and oregano. Stir until all the vegetables are well combined and the oregano is evenly distributed.
- Add water to the pot just up to the vegetables but not covering them. You can always add more water if needed.
- Bring to a boil then drop the heat down to a medium simmer, cover and cook for 45-60 minutes or until the carrots and green beans are tender and completely cooked through.
- Add the basil, stir, then process until smooth with an immersion blender or transfer to food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
- Add salt to taste
- Add freshly cracked black pepper over individual servings.
- May be served hot, warm or cold.
My father is 94 years old. He lives at home, in the house I grew up in. He takes no medications. None. His preventive regimen consists of vitamins, little or no red meat and more green, leafy vegetables than one can imagine. And it’s all organic. His Achilles heel is his sweet tooth. He has commanded no more cakes or pies to be baked for him. He has no self-discipline. These cookies are different. Not too sweet and pretty clean. I believe he’ll embrace and enjoy the fruits of this recipe. I’m almost certain I’ve developed a wheat allergy so I’ve been trying to figure out how to have the occasional treat without sneezing and coughing. I’m done with red, watery, old-lady eyes and a constant, bothersome post nasal drip.
I fashioned these based on my breakfast cookie. That said, these cookies rock. Made with dark chocolate, they satisfy sweet cravings at first bite. Even Daddy loved them. I replaced conventional white, bleached, wheat flour with almond and coconut flours. In lieu of white sugar, (so bad for you!), I used coconut sugar. The result is a thick, chewy, healthful cookie studded with gorgeous, dark chocolate chips all gooey and soft. I don’t bake them often, they may contain good fats but they’re still fats, however, these make a wonderful occasional indulgence. And my family loves them. Hope ya’ll do, too!
A Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, I use dairy-free “Enjoy Life” brand available at grocery and health food stores
- sea salt to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 350° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium size bowl add coconut flour, coconut sugar, almond flour and baking soda. Mix well so all ingredients are thoroughly combined and set bowl aside.
- In a large bowl combine eggs, coconut oil and vanilla and mix well.
- To the egg mixture add the flour mixture and the chocolate chips. Mix well until all the chips are evenly distributed.
- Use a melon ball scooper to measure out 25 equal portions of dough. My scooper is 1 1/2″ in diameter and holds 5 teaspoons. I pack each scoop firmly.
- Place each ball of dough on the parchment paper lined baking sheet and gently flatten the top of each cookie with your hand.
- Bake for 17-20 minutes or until bottoms are golden in color.
- Remove from oven onto a cooling rack and immediately sprinkle with sea salt.
- Allow to cool completely before storing.