pasta with asparagus, pancetta and pine nuts

so good!

seriously.  we had this last night for dinner.  jake took it for lunch today and when he got home he told me to put it on the "keeper" list.  the kids gobbled it up too.  i have proof but i'll spare you gavin's "seefood."

it's quite a change for me to eat all of this pasta.  i am so used to counting carbs.  after i had cayden, i joined LA weight loss and they teach you to count your food groups; two meats, two carbs, three veggies etc.  it works for some people but i've found that learning about food and nutrition is a lot more effective for me to lose weight and keep it off. however, the two carb rule a day stuck with me.  if i had toast for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch, i wouldn't eat carbs at dinner.  you get the idea.

anyway, since i've started running so much and reading so much about running, i'm learning how important carbs are for fueling our bodies.  especially when we're using our bodies.

recently i complimented someone on their weight loss.  their response; "i've just cut out the carbs." cringe.  good luck with that.  protein only diets are not healthy. look it up.

i have a point.  my point is we've been eating a lot of carbs for dinner.  it's new territory but we're getting used to it.  maybe a little too used to it!  this dish was absolutely delicious.  check it out.

pasta with asparagus, pancetta and pine nuts
{i doubled this recipe}

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 2 cups)


  • 8  ounces  uncooked cavatappi pasta
  • 1  pound  asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1  teaspoon  minced garlic
  • 3  tablespoons  pine nuts
  • 2  ounces  diced pancetta
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 2  teaspoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4  cup  (1 ounce) crumbled Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; add asparagus to pan during last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain. Sprinkle pasta mixture with garlic; return to pan, and toss well.
3. Arrange pine nuts in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 400° for 3 minutes or until golden and fragrant, stirring occasionally. Place in a small bowl.
4. Increase oven temperature to 475°.
5. Arrange pancetta on jelly-roll pan. Bake at 475° for 6 minutes or until crisp.
6. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over pasta mixture; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with pine nuts, pancetta, and cheese.

Kitchen Notes

Pine nuts are particularly delicious in this dish, but walnuts would also be tasty.

Nutritional Information

14.3g (sat 3.9g,mono 5.2g,poly 2.8g)

my dish:




today as i was driving back home from dropping cayden at school i observed a boy, maybe 9 or 10, drinking a squeeze-it type drink on his way to school.

first let me say that i realize not everyone is crazy obsessive about what their kids are eating but seriously, a squeeze it .... for breakfast!  sigh.

anyway, that's not really what my post is about, i need not worry about other peoples kids, right?

have you seen jamie oliver's food revolution?  me neither, but, i've read a lot about it and other similar causes/groups/people working hard to overhaul our nations school lunch system.  i think this is important.  supposedly, on one of the first episodes the children were asked to name certain vegetables and fruit.  they failed.  they didn't know what a zucchini looked like.  do your kids know what a zucchini looks like?

it's tough teaching kids healthy habits.  the crap tastes so darn good and by golly, "they're kids, let them enjoy being kids."  i try to remember this.

for example, cayden was assigned to brink snacks/drinks to one of the baseball games to share with the team.  i found myself standing in the grocery store stuck between a rock and hard place.  i'd started the search for something nutritious but not only was it apparent that the options were limited (sad), i also realized cayden would probably forever resent me because i was the mom that brought granola to the baseball game.  so i bought donuts and gatorade and, much to my dismay he was excited. not surprising.

i think there's a balance.  i teach my kids moderation and they get it.  they know dessert is a treat and we have it every once and awhile.  i think they're learning healthy habits and enjoying being kids at the same time.  it is possible.

so ... lunchtime.  my post is about lunch from home vs. school lunch.  every once and awhile cayden likes to have school lunch and every once and awhile i like to not have to pack him a lunch so we made a deal.  we agreed that at the beginning of every month we would sit down together with the lunch menu and he would choose one meal a week and i would choose one meal a week.  the other three days he eats "cold" lunch.  of course, he usually chooses the "breakfast for lunch" and i usually choose chicken dinner or something along those lines.

that's the easy part.  the hard part is compromising on what items go into his lunch box for cold lunch.  he's my pickiest eater so we rotate peanut butter and banana/honey sandwiches with turkey and cheese sandwiches.  i only buy whole wheat bread and am determined to learn how to make my own so "buying" will no longer be necessary.  this is a work in progress.  i also only buy low sodium turkey breast (boar's head).  lunch meat grosses me out.

anyway, so those are the only two sandwiches i can get him to eat.  sides; i usually throw in some fig cookies, pretzels, cheese stick.  he doesn't care for fresh fruit so i slide the banana in the sandwich or i'll send him with a cup of mandarin oranges.  so far so good. but, when it comes to drink choices, this is where i struggle.  right now, i'm sending him with the horizon organic milk boxes.  he likes them but i'm not sure i do.  i need some ideas.

i'm hoping some of you will respond with some lunchtime ideas.  what do you pack in your kids lunch boxes?  do you pack lunch at all?  would you give your kid a squeeze-it type drink for breakfast?  please say "no."


lemon chicken pasta with spinach and pine nuts

this recipe i'll take credit for all on my own.  it was fantastic!

this dish could easily be made without the chicken for all of you vegetarians and vegans.

it's not the lowest calorie meal i've posted but, i'm trying eat back a lot of burned calories and fuel with carbs so, it was perfect for me!

lemon chicken pasta with spinach and pine nuts
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (i used thawed from frozen chicken tenders)
lemon pepper seasoning (for chicken)
4 oz pine nuts, toasted
1 lb pasta (i used linguine)
3 tbsp olive oil, seperated
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 pound fresh spinach
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
juice of one lemon

spray chicken with non stick spray and season with lemon pepper and grill over low heat for 6-7 minutes per side.  let sit for 5 - 10 minutes before slicing.

toast pine nuts in small skillet over medium heat until golden brown, move the nuts around in the pan often and be careful not to crowd

cook pasta in salted water according to directions; drain and keep warm

while pasta is cooking, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in large skillet over medium heat; add garlic and saute about 5 minutes. add spinach and cook until wilted, about 7 minutes more.  season spinach with salt and pepper to taste.

in the skillet, toss pasta with spinach, sliced chicken and toasted pine nuts.

remove from heat and add cheese, lemon juice and 1 tbsp of olive oil.

serve warm with additional parmesan, if desired.

yields 8 servings.

Nutrition Facts
lemon pasta with spinach and pine nuts
Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat19.8g
      Saturated Fat4.7g
      Trans Fat0g
      Dietary Fiber7.2g
Vitamin A 58%Vitamin C 28%
Calcium    19%Iron 20%

baked oatmeal

i borrowed this recipe from one of my favorite running blogs.  it was really good, especially with a tiny bit of agave nectar drizzled over the top. i like that i can put it in the fridge to re-heat for breakfast on the go.

baked oatmeal
2 cups rolled oats (i used bob's red mill old fashioned oats)
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup skim milk
1 egg
2 egg whites
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup raisins (i don't like raisins so i eliminated them)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup diced apple (i used red delicious)

preheat oven to 325 degrees.  combine oatmeal, baking powder and salt.  mix in remaining ingredients; stir and pour into a greased 8x8 baking dish.  bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

yields 6 servings

CALORIES 186.4; FAT 2.7g (0.6g saturated fat); CHOLESTEROL 36.2mg; SODIUM 304.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 33.7g; FIBER 3.6g; SUGAR 2.1g; PROTEIN 6.6g


sesame chicken

seriously delicious.  i found this recipe on spark recipes which is an awesome site.  it was way easy to make and everyone liked it.  i think next time i'll use a little less of the sesame seeds and i used tamari instead of regular soy sauce but other than these minor changes, i followed the recipe exact.  FYI: the chicken needs to marinate for a few hours.

sesame chicken
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized chunks
3 tbsp soy sauce (light or tamari)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp whole cane sugar or brown sugar
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup white, un-toasted sesame seeds
liberal pinches of ground pepper, ginger and cinnamon

combine all ingredients except chicken in a bowl.

add chicken, mix together well so the chicken is thoroughly coated in the marinade.  cover and let sit in the fridge for two hrs or so.

pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

arrange chicken on a cookie sheet and pour liquid on top of it.

bake in the oven for 5 minutes, flip chicken pieces with a spatula and bake for another 5 minutes or until done (i baked for 7 minutes per side).

makes 4-4 oz servings.

serve with rice and veggies.

**sodium content assumes regular soy sauce.

Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 4
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 287.2
  • Total Fat: 16.0 g
  • Cholesterol: 65.7 mg
  • Sodium: 751.3 mg
  • Total Carbs: 7.0 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.2 g
  • Protein: 28.6 g


    apple zucchini muffins

    cousin gwen posted another delicious recipe on her blog some time back.

    husband asked me to make him some breakfast foods he could re-heat in the morning.  apparently, he's tired of toaster waffles.

    being the good wife that i am, i whipped up another egg and sausage casserole (i used wheat bread this time around) and thought i'd give gwen's apple zucchini muffins a try.  don't hold your breath but, later this week i'm going to experiment with baked oatmeal.

    anyway, these muffins are wonderful.  the apples are the perfect touch!

    to some, the list of spices might be a bit overwhelming but i've been stocking up for some time now so i had everything on hand.  if you do not, i would guess cinnamon alone would be sufficient or apple pie spice.

    i made a few changes to the recipe but i plugged both recipes in to the builder and the nutritional differences were minimal so, do what you want.

    apple zucchini muffins
    3 large eggs (i used 3/4 cup egg substitute)
    3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (i used 1 cup and eliminated the oil below)
    1/4 cup oil
    1 cup agave nectar (i used 1/2 cup of light agave and 1/2 cup of brown sugar ... i didn't want to use up all my agave!)
    1 tbsp vanilla
    2 red apples, cored and chopped
    2 cups of zucchini, shredded
    1 cup white whole wheat flour
    2 cups all purpose flour
    1/4 cup ground flax seed
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/4 tsp baking powder
    1 tbsp cinnamon
    1/4 tsp ground ginger
    1/2 tsp ground cloves
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    1/2 tsp ground allspice
    chopped walnuts (optional)

    pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  spray muffin pan or cups with non-stick cooking spray.

    1. mix wet ingredients excluding apples and zucchini
    2. mix dry ingredients
    3. combine both.  fold in apples and zucchini.

    bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

    makes approximately 30 muffins
    nutritional info includes walnuts (1/2 cup)

    107 calories, 2.3g fat (.3g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 143mg sodium, 20.1g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 2.8g protein.


    crock pot salsa chicken

    start this before the day begins and you'll have a wonderful pot of delicious chicken that is perfect for taco salad, burritos, enchilada's (use your imagination!).

    salsa chicken
    6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (trimmed of fat)
    1 green bell pepper, chopped
    1 medium yellow onion, chopped
    16 oz jar chunky salsa
    1 packet low sodium taco seasoning (i use mccormick brand from costco which is free of msg)

    1. put chopped pepper and onion in bottom of crockpot

    2. put chicken on top of pepper and onions

    3. mix taco seasoning with salsa and pour over chicken. 
    4. cook on low heat for 8 hours.  after 8 hours, take chicken out of pot and shred the chicken.  spoon salsa mixture over shredded chicken (not too much, just enough for the chicken to absorb the liquid so it will stay moist).  dump the rest of the salsa mixture and put the chicken back in the pot to keep warm.

    serve as you wish! i prefer taco salad, the husband likes tacos/burrito's.



    no bake "clif" bars

    {can you tell which one is the real thing?  okay, i know it's not that hard but it was a fun and worthwhile experiment}

    in our family, we love snacking.  however, i do not love trying to find adequate snacky-ish foods.

    as part of my crazy plan to run a marathon, i've been running a lot (weird).  running a lot = a lot of calories burned which need to be replenished.  i never dreamed this would be a problem for me, having to eat more.  the challenge is that i am committed to fueling my body with quality foods but most quality foods are low in calories which leaves me feeling like i'm constantly eating even when i'm not hungry.

    the point? during my quest for sufficient snacky-ish foods, i decided i really like clif bars and the kids do too.

    the problem?  well, there are two problems here.  #1, clif bars run about $1.50/bar and #2, the inulin fiber in clif bars (chicory root), causes really bad gas (ever had a fiber one product?  you'll know what i'm talking about).  when five people in one house are eating clif bars that contain chicory root on a regular basis, the evenings are rough, it's not pretty.  we cannot hang out in the same room without killing each other off.  may the strongest survive!

    at first, it was funny.  especially to the kids but now, even they are getting annoyed with the passing of wind and so i decided it would be worth trying to make my own bars without the inulin fiber.

    luckily, i didn't have to look too far.  this woman was way ahead of me so i followed her lead.

    i had the kids helped me so they would want to eat them when we were done (it worked).  cayden made the chocolate chip, brooklyn made the peanut butter and i made the cranberry with pepitas.  after a taste test, we decided brooklyn's were the best.  the cranberry bars are edible but would be a lot better if i hadn't used almond butter.  next time, i'll use the peanut butter for a little more sweetness.

    all in all, i'll for sure make these again (less the chocolate bars, the didn't work out at all but that could have something to do with cayden's measuring skills).

    here's what we used:

    chocolate on the left, peanut butter in the middle and the cranberry on the right.

    a close up:

    check out the recipe and variations here.

    1 and 1/4 cups crisp rice cereal (e.g., I like Erwhon Crisp Brown, but Rice Krispies are fine)
    1 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats
    2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (flaxseed meal)1/4 cup finely chopped dried fruit (e.g., raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, etc.)
    1/4 cup finely chopped nuts or seeds (pepitas are great)
    1/3 cup brown rice syrup 
    1/2 cup nut butter (preferably natural, well-stirred, but creamy is fine, too)
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Optional: 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    Combine the rice cereal, oats, flaxseed meal, dried fruit, and nuts in a large bowl.

    Combine the syrup and nut butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until melted and well-blended (alternatively microwave in small microwave-safe bowl 30-60 seconds until melted). Stir in vanilla until blended.

    Pour nut butter mixture over cereal mixture, stirring until coated (use a wooden spoon at first, then get your hands in it. It will be sticky, but this way you can really coat everything. Just scrape off your hands when you're done). Press mixture firmly into an 8-inch square pan (sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) using a large square of wax paper (really tamp it down). Cool in pan on a wire rack and chill at least 30 minutes to help it set. Cut into 12 bars. (Wrap bars tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator).


    easter brunch :: sausage and cheese casserole

    it was awfully convenient that general conference fell on easter sunday this year.  my in-laws were able to join us for brunch without having to miss their sunday services.

    we had a nice morning and since this is a food blog, i'll focus on my version of brunch.

    i'm not a big fan of traditional breakfast foods.  for the most part, it's all just a bit too heavy for me.  but, i wanted everyone to enjoy their brunch so we had a few different options to choose from.  my focus was the lighter fare which consisted of fruit, yogurt, banana muffins and a yummy sausage and cheese casserole from here.

    their picture was a lot prettier than mine but, mine tasted just as good (i'm sure).

    Prep this the night before for an easy breakfast or brunch. Find turkey sausage in the freezer section of the supermarket with other breakfast meats.
    Yield: 12 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)


    • Cooking spray
    • 12  ounces  turkey breakfast sausage (available at whole foods)
    • 2  cups  1% low-fat milk
    • 2  cups  egg substitute
    • 1  teaspoon  dry mustard
    • 3/4  teaspoon  salt
    • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4  teaspoon  ground red pepper
    • 3  large eggs
    • 16  (1-ounce) slices white bread
    • 1  cup  (4 ounces) finely shredded reduced-fat extrasharp cheddar cheese
    • 1/4  teaspoon  paprika


    1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring and breaking sausage to crumble. Remove from heat; cool.
    2. Combine milk and next 6 ingredients (through eggs) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.
    3. Trim crusts from bread. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes. Add bread cubes, sausage, and cheddar cheese to milk mixture, stirring to combine. Pour bread mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking or 3-quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray, spreading egg mixture evenly in baking dish. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
    4. Preheat oven to 350°.
    5. Remove casserole from refrigerator; let stand 30 minutes. Sprinkle casserole evenly with paprika. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Let stand 10 minutes.

    Nutritional Information
    Calories:  184
    Fat: 6.8g (3.2g saturated fat)
    Protein: 15.9g
    Carb: 14g
    Fiber: 0.6g
    Cholesterol: 76mg
    Iron: 2.2mg
    Sodium: 636mg
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