Side Dish Recipes

vegan gluten free brown rice and wild rice pilaf with fresh basil and pine nuts

Basil and Pine Nut Pilaf

This Basil and Pine Nut Pilaf is a really great recipe that uses up leftover rice. Thanks to Jessica  who gave us this recipe a few years back. It’s got nuts, fresh basil and garlic. Yum! Hang on to this recipe for a quick side dish this week.



Below are Jessica’s notes along with the recipe. Enjoy!

This is a brown and wild rice pilaf with a great blend of savory flavors – fresh basil and pine nuts…yum.  I have found that making pilafs with brown rice is much easier in a rice cooker.  You simply cook the rice in a flavorful broth and then toss in the rest of the ingredients after the rice is cooked.

2 cups brown rice (I prefer short grain)
¼ cup wild rice
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup fresh basil (or more!), finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

COOK RICE:  Place brown rice and wild rice into a rice cooker with the broth and turn it on.
SAUTE ONIONS/GARLIC:  When rice is soft, saute onion and garlic in oil in a large pan over medium-high heat until onions are translucent.
COMPILE PILAF:  Add the rice, toasted pine nuts, and basil to the onions and garlic.  Toss until well mixed.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note:  This recipe can also be made as a way to use up left-over rice.  To do so:  Pour 1/4 cup water or broth over 4 cups left-over rice and heat in microwave until warm.  If rice is especially dry, you may need to add additional water.  Saute onion in oil.  Stir sauteed onion, almonds and golden raisins into rice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Unless you cooked your rice in broth, using leftover rice may not be quite as flavorful as following the original recipe.

Note on toasting pine nuts:  put pine nuts in a pan over medium heat and once pan is hot, stir constantly until starting to brown and a nutty aroma is released.  This process makes nuts much more flavorful.

Garlic Sauteed Swiss Chard with Romano Cheese

This Garlic Sautéed Swiss Chard with Romano Cheese recipe is a perfect accompaniment for any Italian dish. The only problem with this dish is I never make enough. My family eats so much of it, it ends up being about the same proportion as the main course. Anyways, if you love chard, you will enjoy this recipe.




3 T olive oil

1 T freshly minced garlic

1 bunch Swiss chard, stems cut out and chopped into 1/2 slices. The leaves coarsely chopped separately.

1 T butter

1/8 c Romano cheese or more to taste (you can substitute Parmesan cheese for Romano)

sea salt to taste


1. Bring small pot of water to boil. Add stems and boil for about 5 minutes (or until soft); drain.

2. While stems are boiling, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for a minute. Add the chard leaves and cook until wilted. Add cooked stems to skillet with the leaves. Stir in a tablespoon of butter. Add Romano cheese. Season with sea salt. Enjoy.

Cheesy Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

This cheesy cauliflower mashed potatoes recipe is awesome! We tried this recipe the other night for dinner and my little girl LOVED it. She asked for seconds twice!! If your kids have a hard time eating cauliflower, you might want to give this recipe a try before putting cauliflower to rest.



1 med head cauliflower

1 T cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese, or Parmesan

1/2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper



1. Bring to boil a pot of water over high heat. Cut cauliflower into small pieces and add to boiling water. Cook for about 6 minutes, or until well done. Drain well; quickly pat dry with several paper towels.

2. Place cauliflower in a bowl along with cream cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

3. Serve hot. Garnish with chives for some added flavor.


NOTE: I used mild cheddar cheese because that’s what we had on hand, but I’d imagine that medium or sharp cheddar would be really good.


Barley and chickpea salad with basil almonds and golden raisins recipe

Beautiful Barley and Chickpea Salad

Hulled barley is a more natural and fibrous alternative to pearled barley because it has its bran still attached.  Dried chickpeas (garbonzo beans) are much less expensive than the canned version.  The disadvantage that both of these foods have in common is that they take so long to cook and soften.  This recipe makes use of the advantages while minimizing the disadvantages by cooking them together in a slow cooker.  Plop them in the slow cooker with some chicken or vegetable broth and a few hours later come back to toss them with a delicious combination of herbs, nuts, golden raisins and dressing.  The result is a beautiful and absolutely heavenly side dish that is easy, nutritious, and inexpensive.


1 cup hulled barley, uncooked
½ cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
4-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth (or water + bullion)
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup chow mein noodles (optional)


SLOW COOK: Place barley, chickpeas, and broth in a small slow cooker.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours or until soft.  Add more liquid if necessary.  When done, drain any excess fluid and cool to room temperature.
DRESSING: Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt & pepper.  Set aside.
MIX: Place softened barley & chickpeas in a medium sized bowl.  Add basil, almonds, raisins, & green onions.  Pour dressing over the combination and stir until well-mixed.    A sprinkling of chou mein noodles on top adds a nice crunch to the salad, but check the label if you choose to use these, as some are still made with trans fats.

Note:  If you would prefer to use pearled barley and canned chick peas, simply cook the pearled barley according to package instructions then mix the cooked barley and canned chick peas with the rest of the ingredients as instructed above.


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Vegetarian Penne Pasta recipe with Butternut Squash and Sage

Butternut Squash Penne

This is a modified version of a favorite recipe given to me while I was in college.  Olive oil replaces most of the butter, and there are almost equal amounts of squash and whole wheat pasta.  Serve with a side of green vegetables or a salad and you have a meal!


1 Tbsp. Butter
3 Tbsp. Olive oil
3 Tbsp. Fresh Sage, finely chopped
½ cup vegetable or chicken broth
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, diced into 3/4” cubes (4 cups), and     boiled just until fork tender
5 cups cooked whole wheat penne pasta (8-10 oz. dry)
salt and pepper to taste
grated parmesan cheese


SAUTE: Place butter, olive oil, and sage into a large saute pan over high heat.  After one minute, add the broth, toasted pine nuts, boiled squash and cooked pasta.  Stir until all is coated with the sauce.  Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
FINISH: When thoroughly heated, plate immediately and top with Parmesan cheese.



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Karma curried dip recipe for roasted vegetables. Made of yogurt, grape seed spread, curry, and spices

Karma Curried Dipping Sauce

This sauce recipe is easy to whip together and is perfect to dip roasted vegetables in.



2/3 cup grape seed spread (This can be found in health food stores with the name Vegenaise.  It is a vegan Mayo.)
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 ts ground ginger
½ ts tumeric powder
½ ts chili powder
½ ts sweet hungarian paprika
¼ ts salt


MIX: In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise and yogurt. Stir in spices and salt. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.


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roasted vegetables recipe seasoned with olive oil, sea salt, and italian seasonings

Oven Baked Herbed Vegetables

When I first tasted these delicious potato wedges I literally went bonkers over them.  I devoured a whole plateful and begged my friend Nina for the recipe.  She graciously shared it with me and it has become a regular in our home.  This is a great side dish for parties or when company comes over.  It is very easy to prepare and takes very little time.



Potatoes (red, white and russet)
Red Onion

Olive Oil or Grape seed Oil
Sea Salt
Italian Seasonings
Optional: Be creative. Try lemon pepper or any commercial mix’s.


green beans (whole)
winter squash
peppers (green or red)
whole cloves of garlic


PREHEAT: Preheat oven to 450°.
PREPARE: Clean veggies and cut into wedges and place in a large mixing bowl. After the veggies are together, drizzle olive or grape seed oil over the tops of them. Add seasonings and salt to your own tastes and with a large mixing spoon stir well, making sure each veggie slice is lightly coated with oil and seasonings. The oil will keep the seasonings coating the wedges.
BAKE: Layer on baking sheet coated with a bit of cooking spray and bake in oven at 450° for 40 minutes or until tender and browned.  At the very end, if needed, turn the oven to BROIL for around 3 – 5 minutes or until you get a desired roasted color.  Serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing or dip of your choice.  They are especially good with my Karma Curried Dipping Sauce (check it out in the sauces/condiments section). Or they are great alone!


Note: Don’t get hung up on exact measurements of seasonings or the oil. Just add enough oil to lightly coat the volume of veggies you are baking. Then add seasonings and salt to your taste. This is a fun easy recipe, be CREATIVE!



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potato salad recipe with green beans and feta

New Potato & Feta Salad

The combination of feta cheese, dill, and red peppers combined with a tangy mustard yogurt dressing makes this a fresh new potato salad. It is a great alternative to a traditional potato salad. Try to obtain fresh dill if possible, it will be well worth the effort!


4 pounds small red potatoes, quartered, cooked, cubed about 1/2”
2 cups (16 oz..) plain yogurt
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dill weed
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 package (8 ounces) Crumbled Feta Natural Cheese
2 red peppers, diced
2 cups fresh green beans, ends removed and cut in half
4 tablespoons (about 3 stalks) green onions, ½ cup (about 6 stalks) chopped
Salt to taste


BOIL: Boil potatoes and green beans in advance and allow to cool. Boil potatoes for about 8 minutes.  Add green beans and cook another 5-6 minutes or until done.  Drain, rinse in cold water, and allow to cool.  When you are ready to make the salad, cube the potatoes about 1/2”, or slice into 1/4”.  Might be easier to cut before cooking them, so they cook evenly?
MIX: Mix yogurt, mustard, dill and black pepper in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients including potatoes and green beans and mix lightly. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold.  If allowed to sit for a few hours, the flavors will blend more.


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Healthy Pasta Vert Stir Fry recipe with Avocado, Zucchini, Asparagus and snap peas

Pasta Vert

This healthy stir-fry type pasta recipe is a simple way to add more vegetables into the pasta-lovers diet without skimping on flavor.


1 box whole wheat pasta (any type works fine), cooked
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups asparagus, woody ends removed, and chopped in 2-inch segments
2 cups sugar snap peas or snow peas
1 cup zucchini, cut in half and sliced in 1/4” slices
½ cup pesto (or to taste) – see pesto recipe in the sauces/condiments section
1 large avocado, cut into bite-sized chunks
1/3 cup pine nuts (optional)


BOIL PASTA: Cook pasta according to manufacturers directions.
SAUTE VEGETABLES: Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat for 1 minute.  Add asparagus, pea pods, and zucchini and sautee, stirring often for 4 minutes or until crisp-tender and bright green.
COMBINE: In a large bowl (or in the pasta pot), add the pesto to the cooked and drained pasta and stir until it is well-coated. Add sauteed vegetables.
FINISH: When plated, top with avocado chunks and pine nuts.


brown and wild rice pilaf recipe with almonds and golden raisins

Honeymoon Rice Pilaf

On our honeymoon in Seattle, my husband and I ate at a fancy restaurant overlooking the ocean.  The view was beautiful and we ate fresh seafood with the most amazing rice pilaf on the side.  It was so good that we made a point to study it carefully and then tried to re-create it when we went home.  We did well and honeymoon rice pilaf is now a favorite in our home, for the memories and for the taste.



2 cups brown rice (I prefer short grain)
¼ cup wild rice
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
½ cup golden raisins


COOK RICE: Place 2 cups brown rice and ¼ cup wild rice in a slow cooker.  You can also cook the rice over the stove according to package directions, substituting broth for water.

SAUTE ONIONS:  When rice is soft, saute onion in oil in a large pan over medium-high heat until translucent.

COMPILE PILAF:  Then add the rice, almonds, and golden raisins.  Toss until well mixed.  Add salt to taste, if needed.
USING LEFTOVER RICE: This recipe can also be made as a way to use up left-over rice.  To do so:  Pour 1/4 cup broth or water over 4 cups left-over rice and heat in microwave until warm.  If rice is especially dry, you may need to add additional water.  Saute onion in oil.  Stir sauteed onion, almonds and golden raisins into rice.  Add salt to taste, if needed.  Unless you cooked your rice in broth, using leftover rice may not be quite as flavorful as following the original recipe.
Note on toasting almonds: Put almonds in a pan over medium heat and once pan is hot, stir constantly until starting to brown and a nutty aroma is released.




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zingy bean salsa recipe with beans, pepper, tomato, corn, onion and cilantro

Zingy Bean Salsa

This hearty salsa recipe is full of flavor and with its many colors is as fun to look at as it is to eat it!  It is also extremely versatile.  Try it as a dip with corn chips, as a filling in a tortilla wrap, as a topping on a veggie burger, or as a perfect pot-luck salad (see note).



1 15-oz can black beans
1 15-oz can pinto beans
2 cups corn
1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
½ cup minced red onion
1/3 cup minced cilantro

¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh lime juice (or red wine vinegar)
1 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
½ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional- for an extra zing!)


COMBINE: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Cover and let marinade in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving for maximum flavor.  Though flavorful, this salsa is very mild.  If you prefer a spicy salsa, feel free throw in some minced hot peppers- but start with just a little, you can always add more.  Serve however you’d like!  (see ideas at top of page.)


Note: This salsa can be converted into a delicious salad – a perfect side dish to bring to a pot-luck dinner or to simply enjoy in your own home.  To the already prepared salsa, add:

4 cups prepared quinoa or brown rice
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 Tbsp lime juice (or red wine vinegar)
½ tsp salt (or to taste)

healthy crunchy green bean recipe with almonds

Green Beans Almondine

A must have side dish for Thanksgiving, and goes well with all sorts of other meals.  Its really not much harder than making boring steamed green beans.  You simply stir in a delicious nutty coating.  If you want to boost your intake of vegetables, boost their flavor with recipes like this one!



1 lb green beans

1 – 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, butter, or a combination of the two

1/2 cup chopped almonds

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp salt or to taste


1.  Green Beans:  Steam the green beans for about 5 minutes, or until they turn bright green and are just barely tender.  If you don’t have a steamer, you can also boil them.

2.  Almond Topping:  While the green beans are cooking, heat the olive oil and/or butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the almonds and cook them, stirring frequently, until you can smell the nuts toasting – about 5 min.  Stir in the garlic and cook for about 1 minute more, stirring constantly.

3.  Mix:  When the green beans are done cooking, put them into the skillet with the almonds and stir until they are coated.  Sprinkle with salt.  Put the green beans into a serving dish and any almond topping left in the pan can be sprinkled on top.

Potatoes Au-Gratin with Swiss Cheese

Potatoes Au Gratin

I have a real weakness for anything potatoes.  Potatoes Au Gratin, baked with cheese  to a rich and creamy perfection, aah…  potatoes were never at their finest.   It’s rich creamy texture definitely classifies it as a comfort food!  This recipe is made with lots of russet potatoes and a light cheese sauce.  I pre-boil my potatoes for a creamier texture  (it also cuts down on the baking time).  To keep down the fat,  I use 2% milk instead of cream.   The incredible flavor of cheese is reached by combining the mild flavor of mozzarella with the distinct flavors of swiss and sharp cheddar cheeses.



6 medium potatoes, boiled and thinly sliced
2 cups grated swiss, mozzarella and cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon onion powder
Salt & pepper to taste
2 cups 2% milk
3 tablespoons lite-sour cream (optional)
2 slices of whole wheat bread made into crumbs (optional)


BOIL: Boil potatoes and allow to cool.
PREPARE: Slice potatoes into thin rounds and place in large mixing bowl.   Mix in onion powder, salt and pepper and 1 cup of grated cheeses.  Place ingredients in a 8” casserole dish and pour milk over casserole.  Top with rest of cheese.
BAKE: Bake for 1/2 hour at 350 degrees. Top with whole wheat bread crumbs!  (about two slices, toasted and blended up into fine crumbs!)

Note: For a added dimension try adding some finely chopped broccoli.  You will need to saute the chopped broccoli in a little water until just tender and then mix in with the boiled and sliced potatoes and the cheeses etc.  The addition of broccoli creates an entirely different dish!

Quinoa with Roasted Veggies recipe; carrots, zucchini, red and yellow peppers, sprinkled with italian dressing

Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables

We are excited for autumn in our house. To celebrate the changing of the season, we’re going to roast vegetables with the super grain, quinoa. This easy quinoa with roasted vegetables recipe is good as a one-dish meal or as a hearty side. Feel free to substitute a root vegetable for the zucchini but make sure to allow for a longer cooking time (about ten more minutes).




3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2″ pieces

2 small zucchini, cut into 1/2″ slices

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

Italian dressing


optional topping: shredded parmesan or romano cheese


Directions: Cut carrots and zucchini in half and into 1/2-in. slices; place in a large bowl. Add the peppers, onion, garlic & salt. Pour enough italian dressing on to coat all veggies; toss to coat. Transfer to a 13-in. x 9-in baking pan coated with cooking spray.


Bake at 400° for 40-50 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Set aside to cool.


Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Add quinoa. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork.


Transfer quinoa to a large bowl; stir in the vegetables. Sprinkle with cheese; serve with lemon.


Yield: 4 servings.



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Tossed Caprese Salad recipe with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarrella tossed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil

Tossed Caprese Salad

This is probably my number one favorite side-dish recipe during the month of August when I have lots of cherry tomatoes and fresh basil from the garden.  Slice them up, add some fresh mozzarella and voila!  A beautiful and delicious summer dish.  – Jessica



2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half or quartered, depending on size

1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, diced to the same size as the tomatoes

1/3 cup fresh basil, cut small

olive oil 

balsamic vinegar

salt and fresh ground pepper (optional)


1.  TOSS:  Combine the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil in a medium sized bowl.  Drizzle a small amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top – to taste.  If desired, also season with salt and pepper to taste.  Toss it all up and enjoy!

Quinoa with sweet corn salad recipe; drizzled with rice vinegar and olive oil.

Quinoa and Sweet Corn Salad

This recipe is super simple but BIG on flavor and deliciousness! Makes the perfect, light summer lunch.


1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions using vegetable or chicken broth instead of water

1 cup frozen organic sweet corn (Costco has the best sweet corn)

1/3 cup fresh chives, chopped

1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped



1 T. seasoned rice vinegar

1 T. olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


Rinse corn in a colander until defrosted. Drain excess water. Combine corn and cooled quinoa in a medium bowl. Add freshly chopped chives and parsley. Drizzle with rice vinegar and olive oil to taste. Lastly add salt and pepper. Eat right away or chill for later. Enjoy!


*This would also be really good on top of a bowl of mixed greens, or spinach.


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Lemony Quinoa & Avocado Salad

Lemony Quinoa & Avocado Salad

This vegetarian salad recipe is zingy fresh but with the quinoa, garbanzo beans, and avocado it is more substantial than a typical leafy green salad.  Also because the spinach and cilantro is so finely chopped it makes it faster to eat 🙂   I keep finding new favorite salads.  This one is my new favorite.   – Jessica


1 15 oz can vegetable broth (or just under 2 cups)

3/4 cup dry quinoa

2 cups fresh spinach, packed

1 bunch cilantro

1/4 cup sweet onion

2 cloves garlic

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half

2 medium avocados, diced



juice of 2 lemons – about 1/2 cup

zest of 1 lemon

2 tsp dijon mustard

2 tsp olive oil

2 tsp agave nectar

1/2 tsp cumin

salt and pepper to taste (just a dash should do)


 QUINOA:  Bring the vegetable broth to a boil.  Turn the heat down to medium, add the quinoa and cook uncovered for about 12 minutes or until there is just a little bit of broth left in it.  Remove it from the heat, fluff it with a fork, put a lid on it, and let it sit for 5 minutes.  The rest of the liquid should absorb into the quinoa.  Once that has happened, place the quinoa in bowl to cool.

GREENS:  In a food processor, blend the spinach and cilantro until finely chopped.  You can do this without a food processor, it would just take more time.  Put the chopped greens into a medium sized serving bowl.

ONIONS/GARLIC:  Finely chop the onions and garlic (food processor works best here too.)

COMBINE:  Add the finished quinoa (if it has cooled), onions, garlic, garbanzo beans, and tomatoes to the greens and stir it all up.

DRESSING:  Whisk all the dressing ingredients together.  Pour the dressing over the salad, add the avocado, and gently combine.


Store in the fridge until ready to eat.  It tastes better if you allow the flavors to set for a while before serving.

Note:  Because of the lemony dressing, the avocados will not brown for a few days, and this salad makes delicious leftovers!  



Adapted from The Diva Dish

quick & easy delicious fruit salad recipe

Easy Fruit Salad

This fast simple fruit salad recipe is the ultimate refreshing snack or side dish. When you are in a hurry and just want something healthy to snack on in front of the tv and want to feel refreshed and energetic, try cutting up simple fruits into bite size pieces of happiness. It is so quick to do, it is surprising we don’t do it more often. You can really use any fruits. These are the basic ones that people usually have on hand. Live uncooked fruits are so good for your health. Full of vitamin C and enzymes, you’ll want to make a habit of making this snack or side dish for your health.




Any Melons!








Any Berries!

1. CUT FRUIT: So easy. Just cut up the fruit and serve in bowls. Grab a fork and dig in!

2. DIP: You can serve this with a side of flavored yogurt or fruit dip as an option.

Note: It is so important to eat raw fruits and vegetables. But, sometimes it is just hard to grab an orange or apple or banana and just eat it straight. But, if you can cut it up in little bites and mix it with a few other fruits, somehow it becomes this fun exotic experience of fruit indulgence! Give it a try! Make it a regular in your snacking and cut up whatever you have on hand. You’ll feel refreshed and healthy! 

Garlic Red Potatoes Recipe with Herbs

Garlic Herbed Potatoes

This tasty red potatoes recipe cooks up quick and easy. Smothered in herbs and browned to a golden perfection. Serve them with a side of ranch or any dip, or just eat them straight out of the skillet. I boil the potatoes first till they are just tender. Then chill overnight. You can store the ready potatoes in the fridge till you are ready to cook them up in the skillet. They key is to saute lots of garlic in olive oil, then adding the potatoes into the toasted garlic. Then smothering the potatoes in herbs and sauted till golden brown. I cook these up and the pan of potatoes is usually devoured within minutes!

Small Red Potatoes (about 15) Olive Oil
2 tsp Minced Garlic
5 tsp Herbal Seasoning Blend

(I use Costcos Kirkland Brand No Salt Herbal Seasoning)

Sea Salt to taste

1. PRE BOIL POTATOES: Boil the red potatoes till JUST TENDER. Don’t over boil. Drain and allow to cool. Though not critical, I find cooling the potatoes in fridge overnight produces better potatoes.

2. SAUTE GARLIC: In a large skillet, heat a fair amount of olive oil. Add minced garlic. I use a commercial jar of pre-minced garlic for ease. Brown garlic till it is toasted to a golden color. This adds a full flavor to the garlic.

3. ADD POTATOES and HERBS: Add potatoes to the skillet. I then take my spatula and chop the potatoes in half in the skillet while they are browning. Smother the potatoes with the herbal seasoning. Don’t by shy. Do not over stir the potatoes. Allow to brown for a few minutes, then turn. Repeat till potatoes are browned. Add sea salt to taste and serve with a side of ranch.


Note: I use Costcos KIRKLAND BRAND ORGANIC NO-SALT SEASONING. It is incredible. But, you can use a variety of herbs. Try rosemary, sage, italian herbs. But always use garlic as the base. Experiment. The key is to add lots of herbs, and then to allow the potatoes to brown without over stirring

healthy oriental gluten-free salad with rice noodles, tofu and spinach

Oriental Noodle Salad

This healthy Oriental Noodle Salad recipe is a FAMILY favorite – easy, gluten free and vegan! The dressing is really tasty, and forgiving. You can adjust according to taste and it is also good with a little fresh ginger or peanut butter (for a thai peanut flavor). * This recipe makes A LOT of salad! Great for a dinner party or lunch with your friends! This recipe was inspired by our great friend Ali Eisenach’s Oriental Salad in her “When Life Gives You Friends” cookbook, visit her at



1/2 cup oil (you can use olive oil)

4 T. sesame oil

3/4 cup soy sauce

2/3 cup red wine vinegar

4-6 T. agave nectar (adjust to taste)

1/2 t. pepper

Combine dressing ingredients in a blender and pulse until combined.  Set aside while you cook tofu and noodles.

1 T. coconut oil

1 lb. extra firm tofu, cut into 1″ pieces

12 oz. rice noodles (or more)

Cook tofu in coconut oil In a large skillet until brown and crisped on the edges (season with a little salt). Remove from heat. Boil noodles until soft. drain and set aside. Pour half of the dressing directly onto the noodles and let marinate while you prepare the salad ingredients.


In a large bowl combine:

6-8 cups spinach

4 green onions, diced

1 large orange, peeled and cut into sections

2 red peppers, sliced (you can use orange or yellow peppers)

2 cups sugar snap peas


Add noodles, tofu and pour remaining dressing on top. Eat right away or chill before serving (I generally like to toss all the ingredients together right before serving…if you need to prepare noodles and tofu earlier in the day, just cover or place in large zip lock bags in the fridge until you are ready to serve). If you choose you could substitute the tofu for chicken. Enjoy!

You May also Like:

Hummus recipe with chick peas, tahini, and seasonings

Simple Hummus

If you have never made your own hummus recipe, you have got to try it.  It is SO easy!  And it is fun making something so easy that turns out just as well (if not better) than as when you buy it.  Hummus contains lots of health stuff – protein, fiber, and healthy oils.  Use it as a dip for vegetables or pita triangles or spread it on a veggie sandwich.  Sure beats mayo!  – Jessica

1 cup dry garbanzo beans or chick peas (makes 2 1/2 cups cooked.  If you prefer to use canned, use almost 2 cans)

1/4 cup tahini sesame seed paste (optional)

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 tsp minced garlic

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup water

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste (start small)

1/4 tsp cumin (optional)

2-4 Tbsp olive oil


  1. COOK:  Cook the dry garbanzo beans in a small slow cooker with 4-5 cups of water.  Turn it on in the morning and several hours later, check back to see if they are soft.  There isn’t an exact time here.  Drain the water.  You should have about 2 1/2 cups beans, now.  If you would prefer to use 2 1/2 cups canned beans, that is fine, too.
  2. BLEND:  Place the cooked garbanzo beans along with all the rest of the ingredients besides the olive oil in a blender or food processor and blend.  If it is too thick, add more water little by little and stir it down to the bottom before blending again.  (I find that it is easier to use a food processor than a blender for this recipe because there is more room around the blade.  Once I blend it in the food processor, I transfer it into the serving bowl and then blend it again with an immersion blender to get it super smooth.)  Taste, and adjust salt and cayenne to how you like it.
  3. FINISHING TOUCHES: Spoon the hummus into a bowl and pour olive oil on top.  Garnish with another sprinkle of cayenne and a parsley sprig.

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fingerling potato and asparagus skillet for healthy gluten free dinner

Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes & Asparagus

This is a quick recipe that is delicious. I cook this in a cast iron skillet to brown the potatoes and asaragus really well. I par boil the potatoes the day before so they don’t take long to cook up. The potatoes and asparagus are a great combination. They are seasoned by cooking them in olive oil, garlic, onion, mushrooms and rosemary. – Curt


COOKED IN SKILLET (preferrably cast iron)

About 12 Small Fingerling Potatoes

6 – 8 Stalks Asparagus cut into 3 inch pieces

12 Mushrooms sliced

3 cloves garlic, chopped 1 Red Onion sliced 3 Tbls fresh chopped Rosemary

or 2 tsp dried rosemary olive oil

Sea Salt


1. Pre cook the potatoes by boiling them lightly just till barely tender. You can cook them the day before for ease. 2. Add a little olive oil in skillet, and add chopped onion and garlic. Saute till browned. 3. Add potatoes and rosemary. Slowly cook in skillet till potatoes are browned, turning them when needed.

3. Add asparagus and mushrooms. Continue to cook and turn till asparagus is tender. Another tip is to add a bit of water to the skillet and cover with lid. This creates a steam chamber which creates an affect where the entire skillet cooks more evenly. Lightly season with sea salt. Serve and enjoy!

NOTE: Don’t worry about the exact amount of potatoes and asparagus. This can be altered to the proportions you like. This cooks up quite quickly if you have the potatoes lightly boiled before you brown in the skillet. Fingerling potatoes are very tasty and make a nice presentation

Creamy mashed potatoes & skins with Yukon Gold and Russets.

Mashed Potatoes with Skins

My dad said it best.  If he could only have one food in the world it would be the potato.  This from a man who was raised on an Idaho Spud Farm.  And of all the potato recipes.. nothing quite tops good old mashed potatoes.  We make them a little bit sophisticated by using 2 potato varieties. Yukon Gold Potatoes, and good old Idaho Russet potatoes. The Yukons make it creamier and the russets have a bit more body. I error on the side of having a bit more russets. Leaving the skins on is non negotiable. It ads nutrition, texture and heck, it’s easier than peeling them all! Don’t get hung up on exact proportions here. You have to create each batch with your own sense of what is best as potatoes vary in size, and we vary the batch depending on how many we are serving. One last note on the amazingness of mashed potatoes… they are super affordable, filling and kids love them! You can feed an entire family for a few bucks! How do you beat that? – Curt



5 medium Golden Yukon Potatoes

5 medium Russet Potatoes

3 tablespoons butter

2 cups 2% milk or rice milk

sea salt & pepper to taste



4 tablespoons of sour cream

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup grated gouda cheese


CLEAN AND CUT: Scrub potatoes till clean so that any dirt is removed from potatoes. Then, cut potatoes into about 2 – 3 inch chunks. Cutting into large chunks will speed up the cooking time.

BOIL: Choose a large cooking pot… large enough to mash potatoes in when finished boiling.  Boil potatoes until fork pierces easily.  Pull from heat and drain off water.

FINISH: Using a potato masher, mash down potatoes, adding butter and milk as you go.  Continue mashing until potatoes are light and creamy.  Salt and pepper to taste.



NOTES: Potatoes are really an art. Not a difficult art, but it is an art. For one, potatoes vary in size. So, you have to learn to mash up a batch, then add the butter, salt, pepper to taste. Just add slowly and keep adding till you are happy with the batch. Just boil up the spuds, then mash like crazy. Then add butter and milk slowly. Too much milk will make the potatoes too thin and soupy. Too little and they will be dry. If I really want to be a bit decadent, I add more butter, a tad of sour cream, and then if I really want to go wild, I throw in just a bit of grated cheese. You can experiment with the cheeses as well. In our family, the mashed potatoes are so incredibly delicious, we hardly ever need gravy. Don’t get stuck on exact proportions having variety is half the fun!

Steamed Vegetables with healthy Cheese Sauce for dinner

Steamed Veggies with Cheese Sauce

This is absolutely one of our all time favorite vegetarian recipes. This rich cheese sauce gets a bit of a kick from the sharp cheddar and swiss cheeses. It’s a perfect compliment over a bed of steamed broccoli, cauliflower carrots and white potatoes. While cheese sauce would not be considered “low-fat”, we have tried to make it as healthy as possible, and served over a steamed batch of veggies makes it justifiable! We also serve this dish with a side of whole wheat bread… which is wonderful for dipping into the sauce.

-Curt and Jessica


¼ cup butter
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
4 cups milk (I always use skim)
2 cups sharp cheddar or swiss

1 large bunch of Broccoli
1 head of cauliflower
4-6 large carrots
4 medium white potatoes

STEAM: Cut vegetables into small sections for steaming. Place into a large pot for steaming (with a steamer tray inserted). Add an inch or two of water, cover and steam until vegetables are tender… about 15 to 20 minutes.  Since the broccoli will cook faster than the rest of the vegetables, to prevent it from getting mushy and turning a yucky green color, you can add the broccoli during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
BOIL: While vegetables are steaming prepare sauce. Slowly bring 4 cups of milk to a boil, stirring constantly. Stirring is essential because milk will scald quickly! Combine 1 cup of milk with flour and either shake in a mixing jar or blend and add to the milk. (I recommend having the flour and milk combined and ready to poor before starting to heat milk so that you can continually stir without stopping). Continue stirring over heat until the mixture thickens and immediately remove from the stove.
FINISH: Stir in grated cheese, salt and pepper until cheese is melted and sauce is ready to serve.

Guacamole Perfection easy avocado recipe

Guacamole Perfection

Avocados made into this Guacamole recipe are just amazing. I believe a good easy guacamole recipe with some hearty tortilla chips can be a meal in itself. Or, the perfect compliment to a good healthy well made Mexican main course. We make ours with fresh avocado mashed just enough, but leaving nice chucks of raw avocado. The additional flavors of cilantro, tomato, green onion and lime juice achieve guacamole perfection!  Adjust the following ingredients to make your own excellence in guacamole creation!



4 medium avocados
few tablespoons of fresh minced cilantro
1 tomato finely chopped
1 stalk of green onion finely minced
lime juice from one lime
garlic salt to taste


PREPARE: Cut avocados and spoon out into a mixing bowl.  Mash just enough, but leaving some nice chunks of avocado.
MIX: Chop remaining veggies and gently stir in along with lime juice and garlic salt. Mix in the amount of ingredients to your tastes. There is no right or wrong – just variations!


Healthy Macaroni and Cheese recipe

Mac and Cheese Homestyle

Macaroni and Cheese is a classic American favorite.  Who can’t remember sitting down to a bowl of hot macaroni in a rich orange cheese sauce.  This is a lower-fat variation, using whole grain macaroni.  Whole wheat macaroni can be purchased in most health food stores or larger super-markets.


1 16 ounce package whole wheat elbow macaroni

5 cups 2% milk
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 cups grated cheese. Use flavorful cheeses such as sharp cheddar, swiss and jarlzburg (or whatever you have)
salt and pepper to taste


PASTA: In a large pot cook macaroni as directed on package and drain.  Set aside in a separate container.
SAUCE: In a blender combine flour and 2 cups of milk and blend till it is thoroughly mixed. In  the same large pot that the macaroni was cooked in (now without the noodles) pour in flour and milk mixture along with the rest of the milk. Slowly bring milk and flour to a boil, stirring constantly.  Stirring is essential because milk will scald quickly if not watched carefully.  Once this boils the milk mixure will thicken into a sauce. Turn off heat and stir in grated cheese and add salt and pepper to taste. The sauce should be rich and flavorful. Feel free to add cheese or seasonings to taste.
FINISH: Pour back in macaroni into the sauce and gently mix in. Serve with side of parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper.


NOTE:  Use anywhere from 10 to 14 ounces of cheese in the sauce. Realizing of course, the more cheese in the recipe, the higher the fat content.