Mango Blueberry Smoothie


Another reason to love late summer is because the Kent Mangoes at Costco are in season. The mangoes were the size of my toddler’s head and so flavorful and juicy.  They made our morning smoothie taste so good that I had to make another batch to satisfy everyone’s craving. It is so wonderful when nature’s candy is so healthy for you too! Mangoes contain over 20 different vitamins and minerals, the most of which are vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, and B6.


Mango Blueberry Smoothie

2 Cups Water
1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
2 Handfuls of fresh spinach or 2 Spinach Pucks
2 Cups Mango chunks, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 Cups Frozen Blueberries

Place all ingredients into blender in order listed. Blend on highest setting until smooth. Enjoy!

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Cooking Tips & TricksFeaturedRecipes

Frozen Spinach Pucks for Smoothies


One of my goals in the kitchen is to waste as little food as possible. I also try to waste as little time in the kitchen as possible too. When food starts going bad in the fridge, my challenge is to re-purpose it or preserve it before it is too late. Years ago, I overheard some ladies in the grocery store checkout line talking about how they freeze spinach for smoothies. They called them “spinach pucks.” I gave it a try, and it worked like a charm! The best part is, because the spinach is blended once into a puck and then again into your smoothie, the spinach goes undetected for the picky eaters.

Have you ever been guilty of buying Costco’s huge, 2.5 pound bag of spinach totally intending to eat salads all week, but your plans didn’t quite come to fruition? Or maybe your garden is producing way more spinach that your family can eat. I’ve been there. Here’s how I ensure that this super nutritious food doesn’t go to waste:

1. Pick out any wilted leaves and pack the good ones into a blender. Tightly pack the spinach to the 2 cup line.

2. Add just enough water to get the spinach to start blending. Start with about 2 tablespoons.

3. Continue to add spinach until it becomes too pulpy (is that a word?) to blend.

4. Blend until smooth.

5. Fill muffin tin cups with the blended spinach.

6. Freeze spinach 8 hours or overnight.

7. Pop the pucks of spinach out of the tins and store in an air-tight freezer container for up to 3 months.

8. Use a spinach puck or two in your favorite smoothies.


Why freeze?

In the process of freezing food, very little to no nutrition is lost. However, other forms of preservation such as canning kills off many beneficial vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (antioxidants) in fruits and vegetables. Frozen produce won’t last as long as canned produce, but you will receive much more nutrition from it. So, just remember to label your frozen foods and eat them up within three month’s time.

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RecipesSaladsVeggie-Lover Dinners

Garlic Sauteed Vegetable Medley


It’s easy to get in a rut with vegetable dishes. We all know we should be eating more of them, but the same ol’ recipes get boring on repeat. Here’s one of my favorite ways to eat up the veggies (particularly squash) in our garden. You’ll love the variety in flavor and texture. Enjoy!

Garlic Sautéed Vegetable Medley

1 1/2 Cup Fresh Green Beans
1 Red Bell Pepper
2 Small Yellow Squash
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/3 Cup Parmesan, shredded
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Pepper

1.  Snap the green beans into 2 inch pieces. Dice the bell peppers and cut the squash crosswise in 3/4-inch rounds.
2. Heat 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil over medium high heat in a large non-stick skillet.
3. Add vegetables and sauté about 10 minutes until the veggies are crisp-tender.
4. Move the veggies to the outside of the pan and pour the remaining Tablespoon of olive oil into the middle of the skillet. Cook the minced garlic in the olive oil for about 90 seconds before mixing it into the vegetable medley.
5. Sprinkle fresh-grated parmesan over the vegetables and cover skillet with a lid for about 1 minute until the cheese melts.
6. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes about 6 side dish servings.

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Summer Quinoa Salad


This is the most flavor-packed summer salad that takes the least amount of time to make. It’s so fresh, so easy, and so healthy. The quinoa is full of fiber and protein and the veggies provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to keep you nourished and energized. Enjoy!

Summer Quinoa Salad

1 1/2 Cups Quinoa, cooked and chilled
1 1/2 Cups Cucumbers, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1/4 Cup Feta Crumbles
3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil
1/4 Cup Bottled Italian Dressing*

1. In a large saucepan, combine 3/4 Cup quinoa with 1 1/2 Cups water. Cover with lid and bring to boil. Once boiling, turn heat off and leave pan on the burner for about 15 minutes until quinoa is fully cooked. Set aside and chill in fridge.

2. Chop cucumbers and bell peppers. (See chopping tip.)

3. Roast pine nuts in a non-stick pan for about 3 minutes. Stir often to promote even cooking and prevent burning.

4. Mix all salad ingredients together and refrigerate about 4 hours or until chilled through. The salad tastes best after a few hours of marinating.

Tip: If you need your salad ready in a jiffy, chill the quinoa in separate, uncovered containers in the freezer for about 10 minutes before combining all ingredients.

Makes 6-8 side servings.

*When choosing an Italian dressing, check the label for sugar content. If it contains more than 3 grams of sugar per 2 Tablespoon serving, try to find the original, full-fat version of the dressing. When manufacturers make a low-fat dressing, they substitute sugar for fat to make up the flavor. Unfortunately, refined sugar converts to fat faster than the oil from the dressing does when we digest it, so it’s better to go for the full-fat version.

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Classic Creamy Pasta Salad


This is the easiest, kid-friendliest salad you will ever make. Because my children are not sandwich eaters, I have to get creative with picnic outings and school lunches for them. This salad frequents our picnic basket and lunch boxes. And (of course) I have tweaked a few ingredients to make it just a bit more hearty than the original recipe. Enjoy!


Classic Creamy Pasta Salad

8 oz. Bow Tie or Macaroni Pasta
2 Cups Frozen peas
3/4 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, cubed
2.5 oz. Canadian Bacon or Ham, diced

2/3 Cup Mayonnaise
1/3 Cup Greek Yogurt
1/4 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Green Onions, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper


1. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, cut the cheddar into 1/2 inch cubes. Combine them into a large bowl with the peas and ham.

3. Mix the dressing ingredients thoroughly and pour over the pea mixture. Stir to combine well.

4. Add cooked noodles and let them thaw the frozen peas as you stir to coat the pasta.

5. Chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours or over night.

6. Serve cold and refrigerate left-overs in an air tight container for up to 3 days.

Serves: 6-8 side dishes

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Cooking Tips & Tricks

Preserving Summer Squash


It’s that wonderful time of year when my morning routine includes harvesting goods from the garden. Almost every day, a summer squash is in my harvest loot. I always plant way more plants than our family needs for the summer, because I like to preserve some for use in the winter months. Squash preservation is my favorite, because it takes very little time and equipment to do. Here’s how to do it:

Option 1: Shredded Squash for use in Baked Goods

1. Thoroughly wash the dirt from each squash and cut off the stem and bottom.

2. If the squash is rather large and has formed seeds, slice the squash in half, lengthwise and scoop out the center.

3. Rub the squash along a hand-held cheese grater until your arm feels like it might fall off.


4. Use the food processor attachment of your Bosch blender and let it do the grating for you.

5. Store the grated squash in 1 quart freezer bags and freeze them for later use in baked goods. (See my recipe for Zucchini Muffins.)


Option 2: Spiralized squash (Zoodles) for use in Pasta Dishes

1. Thoroughly wash the dirt from each squash and cut off the stem and bottom.

2. If the squash is rather large and has formed seeds in the center, slice the squash in half, lengthwise and scoop out the center.

3. Use either a hand-held spiralizer or a spiralizer machine to cut and twist out beautiful spirals of squash.

4. Store the spirals (Zoodles) of squash in 1 gallon freezer bags and freeze for later use in pasta dishes. (See my recipe for Chicken Zoodle Alfredo.)

Why freeze?

In the process of freezing food, little to no nutrition is lost. However, other forms of preservation such as canning kills off many beneficial vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (antioxidants) in fruits and vegetables. Frozen produce won’t last as long as canned produce, but you will receive much more nutrition from it. So, just remember to label your frozen foods and eat them up within three month’s time.

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Three Bean Salad


This is one of my favorite salads to serve at summer barbecues because it is super easy to make, doesn’t heat up the kitchen, and it can sit out for a long time without concern of microbial growth.  Three bean salad tastes best when you make it ahead of time and let it marinate over night. I’ve made a few changes to the classic recipe to make it less sugary and more flavor-packed. Happy Barbecuing!!!

Three Bean Salad

4 Cups Green Beans, steamed (or 2 cans)
2 15 oz. Cans Wax Beans
1 15 oz. Can Kidney Beans
1 15 oz. Can Garbanzo Beans
1 Cup Frozen Corn
1 Red Bell Pepper, minced
1/2 Cup Red or Yellow Onion, minced

1/2 Cup Canola Oil
1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper

1. Drain canned beans. Rinse and drain Kidney and Garbanzo beans well. Pat dry.
2. Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl.
3. In a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid, shake all dressing ingredients until the sugar is completely dissolved.
4. Pour dressing over the salad and stir to combine.
5. Cover the bowl and let chill 4 hours or over night.

Makes about 15 Cups of salad

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Tropical Strawberry Smoothie


Summer time is in full swing at the Andersen household and the kids have been asking for popsicles non-stop! I don’t blame them–it’s hot out there! However, with all the artificial coloring and flavoring in most popsicles, I hesitate to pump the kids full of that stuff. I offered them this smoothie instead as a cool treat and they LOVED it. This is a winner for when you need something sweet and refreshing this summer. You can also pour this into ice pop molds for your own homemade popsicles. Enjoy!


Tropical Strawberry Smoothie

1 Cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1 Ripe Mango, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 Cup Frozen Strawberries
2 Tablespoons Fresh Lime Juice

Add the ingredients in the order listed above to a blender. Blend on high until smooth.

Makes Approximately 3 Cups.

*Tip: You may use frozen mangoes instead of fresh, but you will need to add more Almond Milk or water to make the right consistency.

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RecipesVeggie-Lover Dinners

Garden Pasta Alfredo


This is the perfect meal to make for those hot, lazy days of summer. All these vegetables are ripe and in season, and this dish won’t over heat the kitchen. I use “Guiltless Alfredo Sauce” so you know it’s going to be delicious. Enjoy!

Garden Pasta Alfredo

2 Cups Carrots, julienned
1 Red Bell Pepper (1 1/2 Cups), chopped
1 Yellow Squash (1 1/2 Cups), chopped
2 Cups Snow Peas, chopped in half
1 1/2 Cups White Penne Pasta
2 Cups Whole Wheat Penne Pasta
1 Recipe Guiltless Alfredo Sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Lightly coat a large, non-stick skillet with Canola spray. Heat to medium high and cook the carrots for 5 minutes, covered with a lid.
2. Add bell peppers and squash and cook for another 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
3. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the snow peas so they will be crisp-tender.
4. Meanwhile, in a large pot, prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
5. Prepare 1 Recipe Guiltless Alfredo Sauce.
6. Combine vegetables and Alfredo sauce in the large pot of pasta. Stir to combine well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Serve immediately.

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CasserolesRecipesVeggie-Lover Dinners

Mexican Quinoa Bake


Quinoa has all the essential amino acids to make a complete protein. What does that mean, you might ask? It means that this plant is as complete of a protein as meat. Also, in just 1/2 Cup of cooked quinoa there are FIVE grams of protein. That’s pretty awesome for a plant protein. Quinoa also contains lots of fiber and healthy fats which deems it as SUPER FOOD status. I get lots of people saying, “I know quinoa is good for me, but how do I use it in my cooking?” Well, here you go folks, another quinoa recipe just for you.

Mexican Quinoa Bake

1 1/2 Cups Quinoa, dry
2 Cups Zucchini, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Cup Corn
2 (15 oz.) Cans Black Beans, drained
1/2 Cup Green Onions, minced
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, minced
1 Recipe Enchilada Sauce
1 1/2 Cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Avocado, Mashed (optional)
1 Lime, sliced (optional)

1. In a large pot, cook quinoa in 3 Cups water, according to directions.
2. Spray 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Prepare 1 Recipe Enchilada Sauce.
4. Once quinoa is finished cooking, add zucchini, bell pepper, corn, black beans, and green onions to the large pot.
5. Pour enchilada sauce over the vegetable quinoa mixture and stir well. Pour the mixture into the greased pan and top with cheese and cilantro. Cover with foil.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. For the last 5 to 10 minutes, remove the foil and increase the heat to 400 degrees to make the edges crispy and the cheese slightly browned.
7. Cool for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with avocado and juiced lime slices.

Serves 6 to 8.

For more quinoa recipes, try my Hearty Quinoa Salad, Smoky Sweet Potato Quinoa Skillet, Spinach and Feta Quinoa Cakes, and Broccoli Quinoa Bake.


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