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Pasta-less Pasta Salad


Posted by Mariah | Posted in Pastas, Salads, Uncategorized | Posted on 16-09-2012

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Once again, I am doing Kris Carr’s 21-Day Adventure Cleanse and I’m finding that the green juice really gets my creative juices flowing! I particularly love the challenge of making yummy food vegan AND gluten-free. This recipe meets those two criteria and many of the others on the cleanse — it’s made with raw veggies and herbs, it’s balanced with a protein, and it’s even low-glycemic!

The stand-in for pasta in this recipe is a large-grated summer squash. Grating the squash with a large-whole grater gives the squash the size and texture needed to look and feel like real pasta. And the light, zingy dressing gives it the traditional pasta-salad taste.

2 small or one large summer squash (yellow or zucchini), grated
1 cup fresh tomatoes
1 tbsp. fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 can of white beans: navy, northern or cannellini
1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped

For the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. red pepper
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 tbsp. white wine vinegar
4 tbsp. water

Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together until blended. Add to the veggie ingredients. Chill for one hour and serve.

Super Crunchy Super Food Salad


Posted by Mariah | Posted in 21-Day-Adventure Cleanse, Salads | Posted on 17-11-2011

I taste tested this salad with Brando, our office intern, a.k.a. The Organic Boy, this week and he asked me what a superfood is. Superfoods are a special category of foods found in nature. By definition they are calorie sparse and nutrient dense. You can find a variety of lists of superfoods online.

First and foremost, this particular salad is designed to be crunchy. I wanted a super-hearty salad with lots of flavor and texture that could serve as a meal in itself. It features kale, red cabbage, carrots, apples, walnuts, pistachios, dried goji berries and craisins. The dressing is definitely Asian-inspired and made with low-fat Vegenaise.

NOTE: if you want to up the health quotient a little come Turkey Day, this would make a great side dish!

Did The Organic Boy like it? Yes. However, he suggests making it with almonds. You can dress up your super salad with just about any nut and dried fruit combo, so suit yourself.


For the salad

3 cups chopped kale
3 cups chopped red cabbage
1 apple, chopped and tossed in the juice of one lemon
1/2 cup organic dried fruit and nut mix (mine had the above nuts and dried fruits)
2 carrots, chopped
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds

For the dressing

1 large clove garlic
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. miso paste (optional)
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 small lump of fresh ginger, peeled (about half the size of your thumb)
3/4 cup low-fat Vegenaise
Dash of cayenne
3 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. Agave Nectar or Honey


  1. In a medium-pot, saute kale and sesame seeds in 2 tsp. sesame oil on medium heat until slightly wilted, about two minutes. Set pot aside to cool.
  2. While the kale cools, throw all of the dressing ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth, around one minute. If you like your salad dressings thicker, just omit the water in the recipe.
  3. In a large serving bowl, combine all of the other salad ingredients, plus the cooled kale, and stir until well-mixed. Chill for one to two hours before serving.

Awesome Peanut Sauce


Posted by Mariah | Posted in 21-Day-Adventure Cleanse, Appetizers & Sides, Salads, Uncategorized | Posted on 17-03-2011

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Best Peanut Sauce In The World

One of my favorite restaurant’s in Kansas City, the Blue Koi, has a sauce simply called “awesome sauce.” I’m really not sure what’s in it, but it is indeed awesome. And you can drizzle it over everything on their menu — from spring rolls to lettuce wraps to one of their many awesome noodle dishes.

This peanut sauce recipe is like that. It goes well with any Asian cuisine you want to throw at it. But it’s equally delicious on raw veggies, steamed veggies, rice crackers, pita chips, etc. I modified the following recipe from the Moosewood’s Lowfat Favorites cookbook. (A must-have for vegetarians who are trying to cut back on fat and calories!)

3 tbsp. natural peanut butter, at room temperature
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/2 to 1 fresh chile, minced, seeds removed for a milder heat
2 tbsp.  cider or rice vinegar
1 tbsp. cilantro
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp.  soy sauce
1/4 cup fresh or prepared salsa
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root


  1. Throw all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth and creamy.
  2. Try it with Soba Noodle Stir Fry or anything Asian.

Soba Noodle Salad


Posted by Mariah | Posted in Main Dishes, Meal Ideas, Pastas, Salads | Posted on 02-02-2010

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Soba Noodle Salad

I created this cold Soba Noodle Salad for @PickleSugarPlum, as explained in an earlier post for Grilled Ahi Tuna Steaks. This recipe was created, in part, to be used with the leftover tuna made with that recipe, but you could certainly make this all on its own. If you’d like more protein, I suggest adding firm tofu or edamame.

The great thing about this salad is that’s it’s extremely easy to make. I like to stir-fry the veggies so that they’re crisp and flavored nicely with the sesame oil and garlic. This maximizes the flavor of the sesame oil and, in return, requires less oil in the dressing.

I taste-tested this on my family and they really enjoyed it! When serving to small children, it’s wise to cut up the noodles before you serve them, as the dressing on the salad makes the noodles a little slippery for young fingers to twirl around a fork. :)

Soba Noodle Bundle


1 carrot, sliced on the diagonal
1 small zucchini, sliced on the diagonal
1 small red pepper, sliced
1 small green pepper, sliced
1 head of broccoli, chopped
1 cup cauliflower, chopped
1 clove garlic, diced or pressed
1 1/2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt (optional)
3 tbsp. cilantro, stemmed and chopped
2 scallions, diced
1 bundle Koyo organic soba noodles

Ingredients for Dressing:

2 1/2 tbsp. teriaki sauce
1 tsp. honey
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. minced ginger
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil

Soba Noodles Over Veggies

Directions for Salad:

1. Boil soba needles according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat oil on medium-high heat in a large wok.

2. Add all veggies and stir fry for about five minutes. Add garlic and saute two more minutes.

3. Add scallions and cilantro and stir fry about two more minutes. Set veggies aside to cool.

Directions for Dressing and the Salad:

1. Whisk all ingredients together.

2. When noodles are cooked, drain and rinse with cold water. Combine veggies, noodles and dressing.

3. Chill for at least one hour or serve at room temperature.

4. Serve with Grilled Ahi Tuna Steaks. Garnish with additional scallion and cilantro, if desired.

Grilled Ahi Tuna Steaks with Kale


Posted by Mariah | Posted in Desserts, Main Dishes, Pastas, Salads | Posted on 01-02-2010

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Last week I passed a mini milestone on Twitter — 400 followers. To celebrate, I sent out a tweet to say I would create a custom, healthy recipe for follower 400. Healthy mom, @PickleSugarPlum, was the winner! I sent her a message to see what she liked, and she sent me back a pretty tall order that provided me with a nice challenge for this week’s post! Here were some of her criteria/preferences:

  • Something yummy and not $$
  • CHOCOLATE,meat=fresh grilled tuna, sushi, chicken, seafood veggies=carrots, peas, st’m'd broc, romaine, fresh spinach NO: pork, rice, fungus
  • I prefer fresh over canned, so things that are in season or readily available are best…year round options are even better! :)

I also wanted to find a dish that she could make once and then use for a couple other meals during the week. I decided to update one of my favorite grilled tuna recipes for @PickleSugarPlum by using fresh cilantro instead of basil. This recipe comes from the book How to Grill by Steven Raichlen. The reason I used cilantro is that this recipe is just the first in two recipes I’m going to create for @PickleSugarPlum, and cilantro will go better with the next recipe.

Depending on the size of her family, she should have some leftover tuna from this recipe, which she can use for the next recipe I’ll create.

As luck would have it, we were celebrating Sophia’s half birthday when I made this dish and she loves fish! So, paired with my homemade Mac n’ Cheese recipe, this turned out to also be the perfect birthday meal. In fact, my family declared it “the meal of the year” and both kids gobbled up every bite, including the kale. (Incidentally, this dish would probably go really well with the Spicy Peanut Pasta Salad featured in the Mac n’ Cheese post!)

Thanks again to @PickleSugarPlum for the inspiration AND the opportunity to update an old favorite. I’m looking forward to the next recipe … tomorrow.


4 tuna steaks (3/4 to 1 inch thick; 6 to 8 ounces each)
1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed and stemmed
4 cloves garlic
3 strips lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon (3 to 4 tbsp.)
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (if not trying to cut down on fat, you can use 1 cup)
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. black pepper

For the Kale:

NOTE to @PickleSugarPlum: You can substitute fresh spinach if you’d rather have that than kale. :)

1 bunch fresh kale, stemmed and chopped
1 clove garlic, diced or pressed
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. dark sesame oil

Directions for Kale:

1. Heat oil on medium heat for one minute. Add garlic and toast until brown, stirring constantly.

2. Add kale and saute for five minutes until kale is wilted.

3. Sprinkle with sea salt. Add more salt to taste if needed.

4. Arrange on plate to serve under grilled tuna steaks.


Directions for the Grilled Ahi Tuna Steaks

1. Trim off any dark or bloody spots from the tuna, then run under cold water and blot dry with paper towels. Arrange steaks in a container.

2. Combine the cilantro, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a food processor and puree until smooth. Pour this mixture over the tuna and let marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 30 minutes to two hours, turning the tuna steaks several times.

3. Preheat your grill to high heat. When ready to grill, brush and oil the grill gate.

4. Drain the tuna steaks and arrange on the grill. Grill until cooked to taste, two to three minutes per side if rare, four to six minutes per side for medium, rotating the steaks 45 degrees after two minutes to create cross-cross grill marks.

5. Transfer the steaks to plates or a platter and let rest for three minutes, then serve with kale.

Healthier Apple Salad (Vegan Friendly)


Posted by Mariah | Posted in 21-Day-Adventure Cleanse, Salads, Uncategorized | Posted on 19-10-2009

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Apple picking season is at its peak! While we love apple crisp, pie, cobbler and the like, the first apple dish I’ve made this season is a healthier twist on an old-school favorite — apple salad. Gone are the marshmallows and mayo. In their place are pink pearl apples, soy mayo and maple syrup! You can make this dish in mere minutes and save leftovers to pack in the kids’ lunches the next day.

The pink pearl apples really make the color in this dish pop because the flesh is actually a pastel pink! And you can get ‘em while they’re ripe at Roots Market in Cedar Falls.



2 pink pearl apples, chopped
1 gala apple, chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds (optional)
1 bunch red or purple grapes
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/3 cup soy mayo
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 dash nutmeg

Gus Mugging for the Camera and Enjoying Salad!

Gus Mugging for the Camera and Enjoying Salad!


1. Combine chopped apples, cranberries, minced veggies, grapes and almonds in a large bowl.

2. Whisk together soy mayo, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and maple syrup.

3. Pour the above over fruit and veggies.

4. Sprinkle spices over top.

5. Mix well to combine all ingredients and chill for at least half an hour.

Cook Once, Eat Twice Pasta Dishes: Mac n' Cheese and Spicy Peanut Pasta Salad


Posted by Mariah | Posted in Salads | Posted on 04-10-2009

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DSC02207With school back in full swing and a fall full of festivals, weddings and showers, I’m always looking for ways to save time. These pasta dishes are the perfect things to cook once and eat twice. The mac n’ cheese recipe is so easy and yummy, I guarantee you will never eat boxed again! And the spicy peanut pasta salad is a great dish to bring to parties or serve on the side of this fantastic grilled portobello mushroom burger recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod.

These recipes also feature some of my favorite tips for getting kids to eat their veggies, and some cooking techniques and time savers. For example, the mac n’ cheese is served over blanched broccoli, which I’ve found pleases kids’ palates much better than the over-cooked mushy steamed broccoli. It also features Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta, which is enriched with fibre, protein and calcium.

I also share a way to blanch the broccoli without a lot of extra steps, and a new-found secret to taking the bite out of onions by “deflaming” them. Finally, I sneak some brussels sprouts into the pasta salad for good measure. Note that all veggies in the following recipes were bought at the Cedar Falls farmer’s market. NOTE: you can make these recipes individually, just cook half the pasta.

Shredding cheddar cheese.

Shredding cheddar cheese.

Ingredients for Broccoli Mac n’ Cheese:

3 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. flour

1/2 cup half and half

1 cup milk

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets

1 box Ronzoni Smart Taste Elbow Noodles

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Cut up all of your veggies, keeping broccoli separate and in a strainer.

2. Cook one package of Ronzoni Smart Taste elbow noodles to al dente, according to package instructions. You will use half of the pasta in your mac n’ cheese and half in the pasta salad. (Use this tool to find Ronzoni pasta in a store near you).

3. Blanch broccoli by pouring the pasta water over the broccoli in the strainer. Cover strainer with pot lid and let steam for five minutes.

4. Drain pasta in a separate strainer. You can use half now for the mac n’ cheese and store the other half in a container to make the pasta salad later, if you’d like.

5. Melt butter in a medium-sized sauce pan over  medium-low heat.

6. When butter is melted, add flour one tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly. Whisk for about three minutes or until the “roux” is foamy.

7. Slowly add milk and half and half, whisking constantly until the sauce becomes smooth (this should look, feel and taste like a cream sauce).

8. Turn down heat to low and add cheese. Continue to whisk slowly until cheese is melted.

9. Add 1/2 of the cooked pasta to your cheese sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

10. Put desired amount of blanched broccoli in individual soup bowls or plates, then top with mac n’ cheese and serve.

Tip: We serve this dish at our house this time of year with sliced apples and a mixed greens salad.

Spicy Peanut Pasta SaladIngredients for Spicy Peanut Pasta Salad:

3/4 cup chopped brussels sprouts

1 cup baby carrots

1/2 small red onion, diced and deflamed*

3 tbsp. organic natural peanut butter (use this tool to find Smuckers Natural or Organic Peanut Butter at a store near you)

2 tbsp. Nayonaise

2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce

2 tbsp. rice vinegar

1/2 small green pepper

1 red chile

3 tbsp. cilantro sprigs

1 tbsp. honey

1 clove garlic

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Deflaming an OnionDirections for Spicy Peanut Pasta:

1. Chop veggies.

2. Deflame your onion. To “deflame an onion,” I follow the Rick Bayless method. Put onions in a strainer, then place the strainer in a bowl of cold water with a splash or two of vinegar. Soak while prepping everything else.

3. Put all other ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

4. Mix dressing, veggies and pasta well. Chill for at least one hour before serving.

Sweet & Light Tomato & Cucumber Salad


Posted by Mariah | Posted in Appetizers & Sides, Salads | Posted on 09-09-2009

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With fresh basil, tomato and mozzarella, this cucumber salad is a twist on those fabulous sandwiches served at old-school Italian delis.  I served this up with homemade pizza, but it will go great with any late summer/early fall dinner. It also stays fresh for several days, so it’s great to pack leftovers into kids’ and parents’ lunches.


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 heaping tbsp. organic sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
10 fresh basil leaves
3 small fresh cucumbers, chopped (pickling or thin slicing)
10 cherry tomatoes
3 tomatillos
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, cubed
3 garlic or regular chives, minced
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste


1. Slice cukes in half, turn them onto their bellies and cut them into thirds. Cross-cut the thirds to make cubes.

2. Slice tomatoes in half.

3. Mince garlic and add it to a large liquid measuring cup.

4. Pour 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil into the measuring cup.

5. Add balsamic vinegar and sugar.

6. Whisk the above ingredients together until well combined. Add water and whisk again.

7. Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic chives over the cukes and tomatoes in a large bowl. Add mozzarella, then pour vinegar/oil mixture over the veggies/cheese.

8. Stir all ingredients until well combined. Do a taste test and add salt and/or pepper to taste.