Spaghetti Squash Three Cheese “Mac” & Cheese

Welcome to FALL! One of the things I love about fall is the ability to turn on the oven without needing to also turn on the air conditioner to counteract the heat overload in this very small apartment.

A couple of nights ago I made a dish using spaghetti squash for dinner and consequently had half a squash left over. What tends to happen with me is that I make a meal for the sole purpose of using up something left over in my fridge (a few days ago it was cherry tomatoes), and then end up having a different leftover ingredient. So instead of just throwing some sauce on the squash like I usually do, I started looking for other ideas and came across a picture of spaghetti squash “mac & cheese.” Yes please! But the recipes I was finding mostly used reduced fat cheese. I have a theory about reduced fat or fat-free cheese: don’t do it. I’d much rather eat the fat and all the flavor that comes with it than the chemicals they use to remove the fat from the cheese. If you don’t want to eat the fat that comes with cheese, just don’t eat the cheese.

So, without further ado, my own version of FULL FAT Spaghetti Squash Three Cheese “Mac” & Cheese! (It should be noted that I added broccoli not to make it “healthier” but because I thought the color and texture contrast would be nice and I also happen to love broccoli that’s been slathered in cheese).
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If you do not already have leftover spaghetti squash, you’ll need to obtain one, medium sized, and slice it in half (carefully! I almost lost a finger cutting a raw squash in half once), and scoop out and discard the middle goop and seeds (or save the seeds for roasting for snacks). Preheat the oven to 375. Spray the squash halves lightly with olive oil and turn them upside down (so the peel is facing up) on a baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes. Once it’s soft, scoop the strands out of the shell with a fork.

While the squash is cooking, warm 1 cup of milk in on the stove with about 3/4 cup each of grated sharp white cheddar and gruyere until the cheese begins to melt. Whisk until all the cheese is evenly melted,.remove from the heat and whisk in 2 Tbsp flour. Let the mixture cool a little, and then stir in 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt and a pinch of salt, fresh pepper, and nutmeg. Combine the sauce with the spaghetti squash “noodles” in an oven safe dish. Add your broccoli if you’re using it (or spinach); I used organic frozen broccoli florets and defrosted them ahead of time and squeezed out the excess water. Sprinkle everything with grated parmesan cheese (you could also add breadcrumbs or panko) and bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes or until the top begins to brown. I also threw on some red pepper flakes before it went in the oven because I like it with a little kick!

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Now enjoy your hearty fall vegetarian meal! Note: to make this gluten free, just use a gluten-free flour, like rice flour or tapioca flour. To make this vegan… uhh… sorry, I think you’re out of luck.

I’ve also included a pic here of my kitchen piglet: my almost-14-year-old pug who insists on standing under me as I cook so she can have first dibs on whatever hits the floor. Her back was covered in parmesan cheese!

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coconut avocado brownies

So at the beginning of this semester, I spent several weeks writing a proposal for my food science class on avocado as a fat-replacer to make healthier brownies, only to have it deemed not worthy of being tested out for real in the lab! (Only 6% of recipes were chosen, but still. Bitter.) So I figured since I’d put all that work into the idea, I might as well test it out at home. But if you’re going to get experimental with brownies, why not get really experimental?

Those of you who know me know that I hate wasting anything. I had a bag of shredded coconut in the fridge left over from cookies I made in February, and it had gotten all dry. I didn’t know if there was anything I could do with dried-out coconut, so I decided to throw it into the spice grinder and see if I could make coconut “flour.” Well, I wouldn’t call the consistency of what came out “flour” exactly, but for this it seemed to serve its purpose. I also used agave nectar instead of refined sugar and tried egg whites instead of eggs. Also, many of these amounts were sort of eyeballed, so I apologize if you have to adjust. Precision isn’t exactly my thing. (Hmm, why didn’t my recipe didn’t get picked in food science class?). So here’s what I did: In a big bowl, mix the following with a hand blender (or you could puree in a food processor): 1 small/medium avocado, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup coconut “flour,” 1/3 cup light agave nectar (you could use honey instead), 3/4 tsp baking powder, tiny pinch of salt, 1/3 cup egg whites (if you’re vegan, as I’m sure you know, you can make flax eggs) and 1 tsp vanilla. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
Warning: these will be fudgy. Almost non-brownie-like, and they don’t rise very much at all! The flavor was good but this batch came out a bit salty, so in this recipe above I already adjusted for that, which hopefully fixes the problem. Try it! And feel free to change things and give me feedback. You pretty much have nothing to lose when playing with chocolate.

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cauliflower crust pizza

I came across this recipe last October, and I just now got around to actually making it. And boy I’m glad I did, because it’s not only super simple to make but also very tasty – and gluten-free! (It is a total accident by the way, that I’ve been posting so many gluten-free recipes lately).

Cauliflower crust pizza

So yes, the crust of the pizza is made out of cauliflower. I’m sure some of you are wrinkling your noses in disgust, but while it doesn’t taste exactly like pizza crust, I would dare anyone to be able to taste the cauliflower. In addition to the nutritional benefit of avoiding a heap of starchy white flour dough underneath your pizza toppings, you also get the benefit of all that cauliflower has to offer – folate (for cell division and growth & blood cell production), Vitamin C (antioxidant, antihistamine, immune booster, and scurvy-preventer), and fiber (do you really not know what that’s for?). Cauliflower is even believed to have anti-cancer properties.

My pizza was topped with organic tomato sauce, onions, zucchini, mushrooms, red bell peppers, red pepper flakes, and a sprinkling of part-skim mozzarella (there’s plenty of cheese in the crust so it doesn’t need much more). Your topping choices are of course endless, so play away! (Word of advice: the cauliflower lends itself to a less stiff and structured crust than regular pizza crust, so this is best eaten with a fork. Not very American, sorry, but it’s better than having tomato sauce all over your lap).


healthy chocolate oat banana coconut almond cookies

ImageMy favorite food blog, 101 Cookbooks, does it again. These little dollops of cookie heaven are moderately guilt-free, delicious, and if you made a few adjustments, they could easily be made gluten free and vegan.

To make them gluten-free, just look for a gluten-free variety of rolled oats such as Bob’s Red Mill or substitute quinoa flakes (I’ve never tried them so I can’t vouch for taste). To make the cookies vegan, just substitute the dark chocolate chunks for carob chips or any chocolate without added milk fat, milk solids, whey, or casein, such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s chocolate chips, Organic Equal Exchange chocolate, or Green and Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate.

You can also try adding a number of other ingredients to play with the recipe: peanut butter, chopped nuts, dried cranberries, blueberries… the possibilities are virtually endless and I will definitely make this again and try some variations!

The original recipe is in the link above – I followed it exactly and used olive oil instead of coconut oil.


ginger-lime kale with squash, chick peas & pomegranate

Apparently I can’t stop cooking and food blogging while on break from classes – the thrill of free time!

So I just discovered a new magazine called Clean Eating, which I might even consider subscribing to if they didn’t have a million and one recipes on their website. “Clean eating” isn’t some trendy fad or diet by the way; it just means consuming whole foods as close to their natural state as possible. I’m sure we could all use a little clean eating right now – I know I could – after a holiday full of more fatty, sugary, alcohol-y indulgences than a good nutrition student should admit to consuming.

This wintery super nutritious recipe caught my eye and it is actually eye-catching with its multitude of colors. If you’ve ever heard the advice that you should eat the colors of the rainbow every day, it’s true. Different colored foods provide a wide range of nutrients that complement each other and contribute to a balanced diet. For example in this meal you’ve got kale, loaded with Vitamin K, C, and A, butternut squash for Vitamin A and beta-carotenes, chick peas filled with protein, zinc, fiber, and folate, and pomegranate seeds, a superfood of vitamins and polyphenols. Between the pomegranate seeds and the lime and ginger, it was not only a rainbow of color but a taste and texture explosion! And without further ado, the recipe:

Ginger-lime kale

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Toss 2 cups of peeled, seeded, chopped butternut squash with 1/2 tsp of olive oil, spread on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for about 25 minutes until tender. (Side note: I hate peeling and chopping squash – it’s extremely hard and I almost lost a fingertip to it last fall! Luckily the store across the street from me sells pre-peeled chopped squash). While the squash is in the oven, saute a diced medium onion in 1 tbsp olive oil for about 5 minutes. Then add 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger. After about 30 seconds add 2 bunches of washed sliced kale leaves and cook for about 10 minutes. Then add 1 1/2 cups of chick peas, cover, and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the squash, remove from the heat, stir in 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1 tbsp fresh lime juice, sprinkle with 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds, and serve! This can be served over rice, quinoa, or your choice of grain, or on its own. And to keep it tasting fresh when I take some to work for lunch tomorrow, I’ll bring the lime and pomegranate separately and add them after reheating.