Gluten-FreeRecipesVeggie-Lover Dinners

Southwest Black Bean Burgers with Oven Fries


Many black bean burgers have come out of my kitchen, and most of those were not well-received at the dinner table. These, however, are a different story. Three of my four kids wouldn’t touch the previous burgers. These ones, however, were devoured by ALL FOUR KIDDOS and my husband! And me. Of course. Now, I do love a good, grass-fed, high quality beef burger on occasion. The rest of the time, I skip the red meat and eat black bean burgers for their fantastic fiber and heart-healthy benefits. I sure hope you enjoy these as much as my family and I did!

Southwest Black Bean Burgers
2 Cans Black Beans, drained (24 oz.)
Half Jalapeno, seeded (1/4 Cup)
Half Red Bell Pepper, seeded (1/2 Cup)
Quarter Yellow Onion (1/2 Cup)
1 Cup Rolled Oats
2 Eggs
1 Packet Dry Ranch Mix (2 Tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper

Oven Fries
4 Cups Julienned Potatoes (French Fry-cut)
2 1/2 Tablespoons California Olive Ranch Olive Oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons Seasoned Salt

Burger Directions:
1. Pre-heat an electric, non-stick griddle to 375 degrees. Drain the beans and let them continue draining in a strainer as you complete the next steps. You want them as dry as possible.
2. In a food processer or blender, shred jalapeno, bell pepper and onion. Remove from motor and pour out the juices, using your hand to catch the shredded vegetables.
3. Pour shredded vegetables into a large mixing bowl. Wipe out the processer and pour in the rolled oats. Blend until oats make a course flour. Add oats to vegetable mixture.
4. Add all remaining ingredients and spices to mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, mash the mixture together until only half of the beans are left whole.
5. Use your hands to form a ball of bean mixture, just smaller than a tennis ball. Drop the ball onto the heated griddle and press into a burger. It should be about 3 inches in diameter.
6. Cook the burger about 8 minutes on one side and 5 minutes on the other. The burger should be golden brown in color and hold its shape.
7. Serve on a bun with avocado, tomato, lettuce, cheese, and whatever else fits your fancy.

Oven Fries Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix together Julienned potatoes, oil and salt in a bowl.
2. Line a large cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray. Pour potatoes in an even layer onto the greased foil.
3. Bake potatoes for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once half-way through. Fries should be golden brown, crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside.

Makes 12 Burgers and 4 Cups Fries

Featured Products

(Contains affiliate links)

 Bosch Food Processer Attachment


California Olive Ranch Everyday Olive Oil

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CasserolesGluten-FreeRecipesVeggie-Lover Dinners

Healthy Shepherd’s Pie


Shepherd’s pie is such a classic comfort dish. I found a way to lighten up the typical recipe without sacrificing any of the flavor. Basically, my recipe has less meat and more legumes/vegetables than other recipes. Since I am not a fan of lamb, my shepherd’s pie is more of a cow herder’s pie, because I make it with beef. This can also be a great way to sneak in lots of extra vegetables that need to be eaten up from the fridge.


Healthy Shepherd’s Pie

1/4 pound (1 1/2 Cup Cooked) Ground Beef*
1 Cup Carrots, diced
1 Cup Celery, diced
1/2 Cup Bell Pepper (any color), diced
1/2 Cup Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can Diced Tomatoes, with juice
1 8 oz. can Tomato Sauce
1 Cup Frozen Corn
1 Cup Frozen Green Beans, 1 inch pieces
2 (15 oz.) cans Kidney Beans
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons dried Parsley
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper

Mashed Potatoes:
8-10 Medium Russet Potatoes (6 Cups peeled and chopped)
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Cup Plain, Unsweetened Greek Yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Chives
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded for topping

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 3” deep 9 x 13 pan. Mine is a Pampered Chef Stoneware Pan (Amazon Affiliate link). Set aside.
2.  In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the carrots, celery, bell pepper and onion with the ground beef until the meat is completely brown.
3. Add minced garlic and cook for just 60 seconds before adding remaining vegetables, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Cook on medium-high heat until the green beans are crisp/tender, about 5 minutes.
4. Add Kidney Beans, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Reduce heat to a simmer until potatoes are ready.
5. While the meat and vegetable mixture simmers, bring a large stock pot of water to boil. Add chopped potatoes and boil until tender, about 10 minutes.
6. Drain water from potatoes. Using a potato masher or hand mixer, blend the potatoes with butter, yogurt, chives, salt and pepper until the potatoes are smooth and creamy.
7. Fill the greased pan with the meat and vegetable mixture. Top with potatoes by scooping 1/2 cup dollops evenly over the mixture. Use a spatula to spread the potatoes as a smooth topping.
8. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil, top with shredded cheese and bake uncovered for 5 more minutes.
9. Cool for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Makes 8 to 10 servings.


*Notes: I often cook 1 to 2 pounds of ground beef at a time with a diced onion and freeze it in 1 1/2 cup portions in baggies. If you do the same, cook your veggies in this recipe with 1 Tablespoon Canola Oil. Add the pre-cooked beef in step 4 with the kidney beans so it doesn’t become too tough.

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CasserolesRecipesVeggie-Lover Dinners

Greek Yogurt and Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas


Somewhere in my Mom Life, I had forgotten about these delicious enchiladas. I used to make these ALL the time when we were first married, but somehow, I have not made them for a good 6 or 7 years. I don’t know why. What I do know is everyone gobbled these up last Sunday when they made a reappearance on our dinner table. They are light, creamy, and full of whole-ingredient flavor!  To make sure I never forget how awesome these are again, I am sharing them here with you. To complete the meal, I served these with my Mango Salsa. So. Stinking. Delicious! Enjoy!


Greek Yogurt and Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

16 oz. (2 Cups) Sour Cream (full fat is best)
16 oz. (2 Cups) Plain, Non-fat Greek Yogurt
2 Recipes Hearty Cream of Chicken Soup
1 (7 oz.) Can Diced Green Chilis, un-drained
18 (8 inch) Flour Tortillas, cooked
2 Cups Sharp Cheddar, shredded
1 1/2 Cups Cooked chicken, shredded
1 (15 oz.) Can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 Cup Sliced Green Onions


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease TWO 9 x 13 pans.
2. Stir together sour cream, yogurt, soup, and chilis. Spoon about 3 Tablespoons of mixture down the center of the tortilla.
3. Sprinkle with about 1 1/2 Tablespoons each of chicken and beans and 1 Tablespoon cheese. Reserve 1/2 Cup cheese for topping at the end.
4. Roll filled tortillas and place in greased pan.
5. Spoon remaining cream mixture over the rolled enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
6. Cover pan with foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
7. Remove foil, and bake for another 5 minutes. Top with green onions before serving.

Makes 18 Enchiladas

Note: This recipe makes two pans, so freeze one and save it for a busy day later. We usually eat a pan and a half and have the rest for lunch the next day.

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Baked GoodsGluten-FreeRecipesTreats

Allergy-Friendly Black Bean Brownies


If you can imagine, I LOVE to host dinners for family and friends. It’s just my thing. I get a lot of satisfaction out of sharing my love for others through delicious food. Once in a while, we will have company with food allergies or intolerances, so I try to adjust the menu to fit their needs. These fudgy brownies made the cut in a big way with our friends with wheat and dairy intolerances. The pan was empty when they left, and that made me feel so good! Not only are these brownies allergy-friendly, but they are delicious too! If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, whip up a batch of these babies and watch your company’s eyes light up when they realize they can indulge in some dessert with no worries!

And just incase you are curious how these brownies stack up nutritionally in comparison to a boxed mix, I drew up the numbers for you. Diabetics will be happy to see that one brownie is less than one carbohydrate exchange. Here are the stats:

Nutrition Facts Comparison for one 2” Brownie

Black Bean Brownies
  • Calories: 71
  • Fat: 1g
  • Carbs: 14g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 4g
Betty Crocker Brownie
  • Calories: 180
  • Fat: 9
  • Carbs: 25g
  • Fiber: 0
  • Protein: 2.0
Black Bean Brownies (Allergy-Friendly)

1 1/2 cups black beans (15­oz can), rinsed and drained

2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 cup quick oats

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup honey

1 egg (substitute with 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil for friends with egg allergies)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 Cup Pecans, chopped (optional)



1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a 8 x 8 inch pan.

2. Combine all ingredients except chips in a food processor, and blend until totally smooth.  I use the food processor attachment on my Bosch mixer. I have also used a big bowl and an immersion blender. Whatever tool you choose, just make sure the mixture is VERY well- blended.

3. Use a spatula to fold the chocolate chips into the batter and pour into the greased pan. Sprinkle pecans over the top, if desired.

5. Cook the brownies 15 to 18 minutes. Let them cool before serving.

Makes 16 2-inch brownies.

Featured Products

(May include affiliate links)

 Bosch Food Processor Attachment


 Hamilton Beach Immersion Blender


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Gluten-FreeRecipesSidesSlow Cooker and Instant Pot

Instant Pot Brown Rice Pilaf


The Instant Pot is changing my life in the food-prep department. Although this rice pilaf takes just as long to make in the Instant Pot as it would on the stovetop, (approximately 45 minutes) I discovered two big advantages to making it this way. First, it doesn’t boil over! Every time I make rice on the stovetop, I have a mess to clean up afterwards. Second, I love having the option to assemble the pilaf and delay its cooking for later. This allows me to do my food prep in the mornings or during afternoon naptime and then not think about it again until dinner is ready. Anyways, Rice Pilaf is one of the Andersen family staples, so I am elated to have the choice to make it in my Instant Pot now. I hope you are as excited as I am…


Instant Pot Brown Rice Pilaf

1 Tablespoon Butter
1/2 Cup Yellow or Red Onion, chopped
1 Cup Celery, chopped
2 Cups Brown Rice, dry
4 1/2 Cups Water
4 teaspoons Chicken Bouillon (I prefer “Better than Bouillon”)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Fresh Parsley for garnish

1. Using the [Sauté] setting on your Instant Pot, cook the onion and celery in the butter for about 5 minutes. Add the dry rice and sauté for another 5 minutes to brown the rice.
2. Whisk the water, bouillon, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. I zap mine in the microwave for 60 seconds so the bouillon dissolves faster.
3. Add the bouillon mixture to the rice and vegetables and change the setting on your Instant Pot to [Multigrain]. Adjust the time to 28 minutes. Seal the lid and let it do its thing.
4. After the alarm beeps, manually release the pressure. Carefully open the lid and give the rice a quick stir before serving.

Makes 4 1/2 Cups of Cooked Rice.


Featured Products

(May include affiliate links)

 Better than Bouillon

 Instant Pot

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RecipesVeggie-Lover Dinners

Indian Tacos


Looking for a fun dinner to feed a large crew? Look no further than Indian Tacos! I ALWAYS make our fry bread inside a skillet on our outdoor barbecue grill because I can’t stand the smell of lingering fried foods in my kitchen. Thus, this is a perfect meal for warmer months. I also did this once for Halloween (instead of candy) and my neighbors LOVED it! Whatever the occasion, I hope your crew enjoys these Indian Tacos as much as mine does.

Indian Tacos

Fry Bread

1 Recipe Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
4 Cups Canola oil (for frying)

Taco Meat
4- 15 oz. cans Pinto Beans (7 1/2 cups), drained
1 Cup Cooked Ground Beef
1- 15oz. Can Tomato Sauce
1 Tablespoon Garlic Salt
1 teaspoon Cumin
Salt and Pepper as needed

-Shredded Cheddar Cheese
-Sour Cream (AKA Plain Greek Yogurt)

1. Prepare one recipe of my Whole Wheat Pizza Dough. (Right click on the link or just search “Whole Wheat Pizza Dough in my search bar.) Set aside.
2. Heat Canola Oil in Cast Iron Skillet. Test the heat by dropping a marble size ball of dough into the oil. If it sizzles, the oil is ready.
3. Meanwhile, combine all Taco Meat ingredients in a large stock pot. Simmer the taco meat while frying the bread.
4. Flatten a ball of dough using your fingers. Start with a ball between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball.
5. Carefully drop the flat dough into the hot oil. Cook on one side for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Use metal tongs to flip the dough over and cook for another 3 minutes.
6. Place the cooked fry bread on a large plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess grease.
7. Top fry bread with Taco Meat and desired toppings. Enjoy!

Makes 20 to 25 Tacos.



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FeaturedLifestyle EatingNutrition Education

Snacks and Meals for Pregnancy Nausea


The first trimester of pregnancy is NO JOKE! No doubt it is an exciting time of anticipation; but nausea, vomiting, food cravings, food aversions, crazy dreams, acne, and a slew of other symptoms are all part of the ride.  The anxiety of nourishing your body and growing baby is real, yet the nausea can make it difficult to eat foods you are used to. I have compiled this list of tips and food ideas based on what worked for me and others I am close to. By no means is this article complete or scientifically-tested, but I do want to share what helped me in an attempt to help you, too!


Tips for making snacks and meals during pregnancy nausea

1. Include protein, fat, and carbohydrate

Snacks and meals including a good portion of protein, fat, and carbohydrate help to feel fuller longer. Being fuller longer keeps the nausea at bay and offers the best bet at having some energy. Whenever I just nibble on crackers and applesauce all day, I have zero energy. The carbs spike my blood sugar and it quickly plunges back down again. Fat and protein keep me at a steady energy level.

2. Muster the First Bite

Just the smell of food can be enough to turn me completely off to eating. Especially when I spend an hour making a meal, smelling all the smells, it becomes unappetizing to eat when it’s ready. However, when I muster through the first bite, my appetite is (sometimes) stimulated enough to keep eating a little more. One trick I have started doing to keep food smells out of my house is using my InstaPot to cook dinner and plugging it in outside.

3. Eat every two hours

Hunger pangs—even the slightest ones—only accentuate pregnancy nausea. I have become used to snacking every two hours and it makes a world of difference. Of course, this makes my meals smaller, and that is fine, because I am getting enough nourishment through the entire day’s food.

4. Overeating at meals=misery and More nausea

A few times during my first trimester nausea, I found a few meals or snacks that felt SO GOOD going down. I guess they were so good I didn’t pay attention to how much I was eating. Half an hour later, I was in complete misery. Overeating makes nausea SO much worse.

5. Take Prenatal Vitamins right before bed

I actually don’t take a conventional prenatal vitamin myself. The iron in most vitamins makes me too sick and too constipated (sorry TMI, but I promise I’m not the only one)! I don’t suggest the same for you.  Many pregnant women are low in iron or even anemic, and avoiding a vitamin would be dangerous. Talk to your doctor about a vitamin that works best for your needs. I take just folate and vitamin D, and I’m careful to make sure I eat fortified cereal and eat a balanced diet to make up for anything I lack from not taking a prenatal.  One thing is certain: taking a prenatal before bed means I am unconscious when the nausea caused by vitamin kicks in. This helps a lot.


Snack and Meal Ideas for Pregnancy Nausea

Here’s a running list of the snacks and meals I eat during the nausea-laden first trimester of pregnancy. I hope some of these might help you as you are trying to grapple through your nausea as well.

  • Club Soda and Citrus– The carbonation is settling to my stomach and the lemon, orange, or lime is so refreshing. This is a great alternative to sugary sodas, and it hydrates me when plain water is difficult to stomach. One key thing: the drink has to have ice and be in a glass. Plastic has a smell, and it is yucky to drink out of plastic when I’m pregnant.
  • Cottage Cheese with grapes or grape tomatoes– Dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese are not only great sources of protein and calcium, but they also provide B-vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc for a growing fetus.
  • Crackers and cheese– Combining the two gives me a complete protein without having to eat meat. Nausea makes eating meat pretty difficult at times. However at other times, I totally crave a nice steak and it feels so good going down.
  • Greek yogurt berry and nut parfait– Greek yogurt contains more calcium than any other dairy product and provides my gut with important probiotics.
  • Almonds and Grapes– Almonds are a great source of fiber, and healthy fats and protein. The grapes add carbohydrate. My favorite treat when I don’t feel great is frozen grapes. They slowly melt in my mouth and sooth my sick tummy. Yum!
  • Peanut butter and honey or banana sandwich– I totally resort to comfort foods when I’m not feeling well. This snack provides plenty of fiber, folate, potassium, iron and calcium—all essential for a developing baby.
  • Smoothies– A great way to sneak some spinach into my diet without having to chew it is to drink it in a smoothie. Including kefir in my smoothie also provides copious quantities of probiotics which may reduce pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, vaginal infections, allergies, and gestational diabetes.
  • Outshine® Fruit Popsicles– I get lots of vitamin C, folate, and antioxidants from these refreshing, all-natural popsicles. The trick is hiding them from my kids so I can actually eat some!
  • Eggs and Avocado Toast– Eggs, with their healthy fats and proteins, are gentle on my tummy. Eggs are a great source of choline–a vitamin essential to brain development. Eating avocadoes on my toast provides even more healthy fats along with B vitamins, potassium, and vitamins K, E, and C.
  • Baked potato with cheese, Greek yogurt, or mashed avocado- Baked potatoes are a great source of fiber and potassium and make a wonderfully nutritious comfort food when topped with healthy fats and proteins like cheese, Greek Yogurt, or avocadoes. Add a cooked vegetable, and I have a super simple and complete meal.
  • Baked sweet potato with butter and cinnamon- This simple snack is not just comforting. Sweet potatoes are packed with plant-based vitamin A and beta-carotene—essential for growth and differentiation of cells in a developing fetus. The cinnamon also helps to curb all my inevitable sugar cravings!
  • Cooked vegetables– Raw vegetables are so hard for me to stomach when I’m nauseous, but cooked veggies are somehow ok. It’s weird.
  • Cereal with frozen berries, walnuts, and Almond Milk– Cheerios or Grape Nuts are my jam! The awesome thing about these cereals is they are fortified with vitamins and minerals. For someone who is naughty about taking a prenatal vitamin (see above), cereal is a snack I must eat every day. Eating it with vitamin C from the berries allows my body to better absorb the iron in the cereal. The walnuts and milk provide fat and protein to make this a complete meal.
  • Frozen yogurt topped with fresh fruit- The folks at YogurtLand know me by name now. I really have tried every flavor they make within the last couple months. Frozen yogurt is a great treat, because it isn’t quite so heavy as ice cream. Don’t get me wrong, I eat ice cream too, but frozen yogurt is a bit more refreshing when my nausea is getting the best of me.
  • Pretzels dipped in yogurt- Are you seeing a pattern here of salty/sweet combinations? Certainly, salty equals settling for me. Dipping them in yogurt provides some nutrition to an otherwise nutritionally empty snack.
  • Mints, Gum, Ricola cough drops-  Between meals and snacks, it’s helpful to keep my mouth moist. The menthol in mints, gum, and cough drops is settling.  The mint flavor masks the flavor of whatever I just ate, and experience has proven that if I can taste or smell food I’ve already spent time with, the nausea comes right back.

I hope you find something in this list that works for you. Best wishes to you as you prepare to welcome a new little one to your family!


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Hearty Vegetable Chili


For those “Meatless-Mondays,” “Sunday-Soup-Days,” or even “Taco-Tuesdays,” this vegetable chili is sure to fill your wildest chili dreams.  It’s hearty, flavorful, and not too spicy. You will love it.


Hearty Vegetable Chili

1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
1 Cup Red Bell Pepper, diced
1/2 Cup Onion, diced
2 Medium Zucchini, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Cans Kidney Beans (15 oz. each)
2 Cans Tomatoes, diced (14 oz. each)
2 Cans Tomato Sauce, (8 oz. each)
4 oz. Can Diced Green Chilies
3 1/2 Cups Water
1 Tablespoon Chicken Soup Base (I like “Better than Bouillon)
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
3/4 teaspoon Cumin
1/8 teaspoon Oregano
1 1/2 Cups Frozen Corn
Cheddar cheese and Plain Greek Yogurt for toppings

1. Put oil in large pot and add onion, bell pepper, and zucchini. Cook 6 to 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add garlic for last 60 seconds of cooking.
2. Add drained kidney beans and all remaining ingredients. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Top with shredded cheese and a dollop of Greek Yogurt.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Try my Hearty Corn Bread with this chili. Yum.

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Appetizers/ DipsGluten-FreeRecipesSauces and Dressings

Tomatillo Ranch Dressing


If you have ever eaten at Cafe Rio, surely you have been introduced to the phenominal dressing served with their salads. Well, I think this one tastes even better, not that I am biased or anything…   I’m not a huge fan of spicy dressings, so I made this one a bit less firey than the one served in the restaurant. If you are a spice-wimp like me, you will love this dressing. You might just eat it on everything–salad, chopped veggies, chips, rice, quesadillas–the possibilities are endless. If you aren’t like me, well, search Google for the original recipe with more spice. Enjoy!


Tomatillo Ranch Dressing

1 Cup Buttermilk or Plain Kefir
1 Cup Mayonnaise (NOT Light)
1 Packet Traditional Hidden Valley Ranch Mix (or 3 Tablespoons if you have the tub)
4 Tomatillos, washed and husks removed, quartered
1/2 bunch fresh Cilantro, stems removed
1 Garlic Clove
1 Lime, juiced
1 small Jalapeno, seeds removed

1. In the order listed above, add all ingredients to the blender.
2. Blend on high speed about 2 minutes or until smooth.
3. Chill and serve with salads, chopped veggies, beans/rice, chips, etc. The possibilities are endless because this dressing is so, dang good!

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Oriental Chicken Cabbage Salad


I have fond memories of this salad showing up at many a summer barbecue as a kid. It always tasted better the day after. I’ve made a few tweaks to my mother’s recipe, mostly to make it more colorful. I hope this salad becomes your family tradition like it was mine. Enjoy!


Oriental Chicken Cabbage Salad

4 Cups Green Cabbage, shredded
2 Cups Purple Cabbage, shredded
1 1/2 Cups Cooked Rotisserie Chicken, chopped
1/4 Cup Green onions, chopped
1/3 Cup Slivered Almonds, toasted
1/2 Pack Ramen Noodles, broken into small pieces

1/2 Cup Canola Oil
1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar
2 1/2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Tablespoons Toasted Sesame Seeds
1/2 teaspoon Chicken Soup Base (I like “Better than Bouillon)
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper

1. Make dressing by adding all ingredients to a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake until sugar is completely dissolved.
2. In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients except for almonds and noodles.
3. Toss dressing into salad and chill 2 to 4 hours. Add almonds and noodles just before serving.

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