Spaghetti Squash Season

If you’ve ever wondered how to cook a spaghetti squash, that makes two of us. 

As I’ve gotten more experienced in the kitchen, I decided it might be good to try cooking a spaghetti squash. I use a seasonal produce guide to help me find veggies and fruits that are in season in Ohio. Incorporating seasonal produce is more sustainable, and frankly, they taste better too. (Imagine picking fresh strawberries in the middle of January versus June. Yeah.) Some of my favorite nutrition bloggers have been posting spaghetti squash recipes lately, so I figured it was a primetime to try cooking one myself. *cue YouTube tutorials on how to cut a spaghetti squash*

Spaghetti squash is a really great substitute for when you’re craving a bowl of pasta. The vegetable was named after the texture of it after its cooked (see photo below), and although it most definitely does not have that starchy, carb-y taste we all know and love, its nutritional profile makes it a healthier alternative! Aside from being lower in calories and carbohydrates, spaghetti squash is also packed with Vitamin A (for healthy eyes) and Vitamin C (for strong bones and teeth).

When I first tasted spaghetti squash, it had a very bland taste which means you can cook it with pretty much whatever you have on hand! It can act as a side dish (preferably at Thanksgiving?) or make it as the main course in a vegetarian meal! I had canned tomatoes on hand, so I combined garlic, olive oil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and the tomatoes in a blender to create a super simple tomato sauce. The recipes are endless when it comes to cooking with spaghetti squash, so be adventurous and see what you can come up with!


Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Makes: 3 servings

Ingredients

1 spaghetti squash, halved and scooped
1 tbsp. olive oil
Sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  2. Once your squash is halved and scooped, sprinkle salt over the halves and let sit for twenty minutes. This draws out some of the moisture, making it less mushy later on.
  3. Wipe off the moisture, then drizzle olive oil and salt over the interior. Place cut-side down on the baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, or until you can easily pierce the skin of the squash.
  4. Once cool, flip the squash over and scrape the inside to create a string-like texture.
  5. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Seed and Avocado Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Well, it’s officially fall! Time to blow the dust off your beanies, scarves, and fall jackets. Switching out my closet from tank tops and sundresses to jackets and cardigans is sad, but I’m also so excited to start wearing some of my favorite sweaters again! I always struggle with how to layer my outfits (because I’m usually sweating by two in the afternoon), but I always use past Thread issues for inspiration. Check out other bloggers’ posts to see how they have styled some of their favorite fall pieces, too.

I’m super excited to share this recipe because it finally gives me a way to incorporate the pumpkin seeds that have been sitting in my cabinet, patiently waiting to be used. In my opinion, they sort of have a weird taste, but toasting them and mixing them in with other ingredients is definitely the best move. Check out this article by Taste of Home to read more about these seeds.

Kroger also had an ah-mazing deal on avocados (one avocado for 69 cents, God bless), so I stocked up for the week. I’ve used them a lot in my breakfasts, sometimes I’ll smash half onto a piece of toast, and other times it’s great to top off a peppers and onions omelette. Avocados are so great because they are packed with healthy fats which leave you satisfied and full! I really don’t know what I would do without these guys.

Check out my recipe below the photo to see my pumpkin seed and avocado chicken salad sandwich!


Total time: 45 minutes
Makes: 2 sandwiches

Ingredients
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
Salt and pepper
3-4 tablespoons raw pepitas (green pumpkin seeds), toasted**
1 ripe avocado, diced
2 tbsp pesto
1 large carrot, shredded
4 slices of sprouted or whole grain bread, toasted if you prefer
1 cup arugula

**To toast pepitas, add them into a skillet and toast them on medium-low heat for about five minutes until they’re colored golden brown.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it with a nonstick cooking spray. (I used this spray from ALDI!) Season your chicken breast with salt and pepper, and bake it in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  2. While your chicken is baking, make the rest of your chicken salad. In a food processor, combine the avocado, pesto, and toasted pumpkin seeds. Pulse until just combined, and set aside.
  3. Shred chicken with two forks and add to the avocado mixture.
  4. Prepare four slices of sprouted bread. (I use this bread from ALDI, too.) Add half of the chicken salad mixture to one slice of bread, and top with your carrots and arugula. Feel free to add more salt and pepper, too!
  5. Top with remaining slice and enjoy!

NOTES:

  • I do Meatless Monday, so to make this vegetarian, replace the chicken with 1/2–3/4 cup roasted chickpeas. (I coated them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and cooked them in a 375 degree F oven for 15 minutes.) Feel free to try it with tuna, too.
  • You can also use any kind of nut instead of the pepitas! Whatever you choose, definitely toast them to add more flavor.

Easy Vegan Falafel Lunch

You know those cans in the back of your pantry that you know you have, but regardless, never use? Yeah same. I have yet to go legitimate grocery shopping in two weeks now and it’s been a struggle figuring out what to make for my meals. With very few ingredients left in my fridge, I considered going down the peanut butter on toast route (trust me, I’ve done this on multiple occasions), and I also thought about sucking down enough coffee to last me until dinnertime (this has happened before, too). I quickly had to push these thoughts to the side and find a balanced, nutritious recipe that could put off my trip to Kroger just a few more days.

After finding a couple cans of Garbanzo beans in my pantry, I decided it might be fun to make falafel. It’s something I have always wanted to make, and I found a recipe that made it so I wasn’t spending hours in the kitchen. The recipe was extremely simple, and you can somewhat customize it to your taste preferences.

While cooking the falafel, I was trying to think about what else I could add to make this a complete meal. Going along with the Mediterranean vibe, I grabbed a piece of Naan from my freezer and heated it up in the oven while the falafel was cooking. I also made a simple garlic dill sauce to elevate the dish to the next level. I just mixed together hummus, lemon juice, minced garlic and (a lot of) dill in a bowl with a bit of water, and it was done!

This dish was so amazing and so simple to bring together, too. Without the Naan bread, this is a great vegan recipe that doesn’t use too many ingredients, and leaves you feeling happily full!

Enjoy!


Total time: 30 minutes
Makes: 
6 servings

Ingredients
1/2 15-oz. can Garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 cup fresh parsley or cilantro
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp sesame seeds
3/4 tsp cumin
Healthy pinch of sea salt, black pepper
Healthy pinch of cardamom and coriander (Optional)
1-2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1-2 tbsp Olive oil for cooking

Directions

  1. Add chickpeas, parsley, garlic, sesame seeds, cumin, sea salt and black pepper to a food processor. I used this KitchenAid Food Processor. (Add cardamom and coriander to the mixture as well if you’re including these ingredients.) Mix/pulse ingredients together until it creates a crumbly sort-of dough. Scrape down the sides when you need to.
  2. Add 1/2 tbsp of flour at a time to the mixture until no longer wet. You should be able to mold into a ball without it sticking to your hands.
  3. Taste and adjust seasonings as you see fit. The mixture should have a pretty bold taste to it by this point.
  4. Move the mixture into a mixing bowl, cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to two hours. This helps the dough firm up when you cook them on the stove.
  5. Once done chilling, scoop out palm-sized amounts of dough and form into patties.
  6. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil to generously coat the entire surface.
  7. Once the oil is hot, place as many patties into the pan as it can fit. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the bottom is a dark golden-brown. This’ll ensure they’re crispy!
  8. Serve with warmed pita or Naan bread, along with hummus or any other Mediterranean-inspired dipping sauce you’d like to make!

14 Favorite Trader Joe’s Products

Over the summer in New York City, I food shopped nowhere else other than Trader Joe’s. It was only a few blocks from my apartment and I could easily slip in and buy the ingredients for a delish dinner in my tiny apartment. Now, I have a big kitchen and lots of room, but no TJ’s.

When my roommate and I took a day trip to Columbus, I was determined to stop at one of their locations and get a few staples. Before we left, I had written out a shopping list so I wouldn’t get carried away. If you ever look at my following list on Instagram, you’ll see that half of the accounts focus on food photography, wholesome cooking, and even food shopping. Over the past few months, I’ve been saving a lot of recipes that call for ingredients only found at a TJ’s, so I knew I had to stock up.

Although I did hold myself back from buying a bunch of their tiny pumpkins that adorned their storefront, I couldn’t resist a few pumpkin and butternut squash products, too! Here are some of the products I bought that’ll have you driving up to their Columbus location just as fast as I did.


  1. Pumpkin soup

    I have yet to try this soup, but as the tag says, it’s ‘As gourd as it gets!’ As we get into the heat of midterms and the chill of autumn, this soup will come in handy when I need something warm to eat as I’m running out the door. Add a side of toasted bread and I’m all set.
  2. Vanilla ice cream sandwiches

    Because yum.
  3. Cauliflower pizza crust

    Unlike other cauliflower crusts on the market that are held together with eggs, this crust is held together with potato starch and cornstarch! Only downside? I have too many recipes I want to make with this product! (That was so cheesy, I’m so sorry.)
  4. Cauliflower gnocchi

    There were four bags left in the TJ’s freezer, and we bought them all. It’s times like this when you need to be selfish.
  5. Organic Maca powder

    My favorite Instagram bloggers (@choosing_balance) started using this powder in her coffee to give her an extra boost of energy and help with stress relief. For only five dollars, I figured I’d give it a try.
  6. Everything but the Bagel & Chili-Lime seasonings

    These seasonings are great to top off any dish! I use the EbtB seasoning on a lot of my breakfasts, and the Chili-Lime seasoning is great on chicken and shrimp. Not to be dramatic or anything, but I don’t know how I survived this long without these.
  7. Pumpkin and butternut squash pasta sauce

    My roommate and I just couldn’t pass up a pasta sauce this good looking! 
  8. Sugar-free dark chocolate

    Definitely an impulse buy, but I don’t regret it one bit.
  9. Crumbled feta with Mediterranean herbs

    I had to snag this feta because it was mixed with extra herbs for more flavor. This staple is great to add to turkey burgers, Greek salads, and so much more. Endless opportunities with this!
  10. Pumpkin Greek yogurt

    Ok but like, why wouldn’t I buy this? (P.S. It was delicious.)
  11. Sour cream & onion corn puffs

    For those movie nights when you’re looking for something to snack on, these corn puffs are your best friend. Added bonus? They don’t leave your fingers covered in powder like Pirate’s Booty or Smartfood popcorn does!
  12. Frozen chopped spinach

    Most boring thing I bought, but the greatest thing to have on hand! Frozen spinach is good to have for those post-workout green smoothies, omelettes, or pasta dishes! I’ve learned my lesson too many times after throwing out bag after bag of soggy, (no longer) fresh spinach.

Spicy Garlic and Lime Shrimp (with brown rice and garlicky kale)

Can you tell I like garlic?

There’s nothing better than garlic. Seriously. If I could, I would add it to every dish. Well, I sort of already do that. Every one of my favorite dishes always starts with olive oil and minced garlic in a pan, including this one. (This probably means I should probably start carrying gum in my backpack, right?)

Moving on from my garlic obsession, I love having frozen shrimp on hand for whenever I need something fast, but will still hold me over until dinner. It has a quick defrost time, and it cooks quickly also, which makes it a staple for an easy, middle-of-the-week lunch. Last week, I took a trip to Kroger with my roommates and found an amazing buy one, get one free deal, so now our freezer is packed with bags of frozen shrimp. Not sorry about it!

I’ve been loving posting every week because it gives me a chance to interact with the people that read my blog, and make recipes that I know people will want to make themselves. My friend texted me after I posted this dish on my Instagram story, and begged me to blog the recipe! (You know who you are.) So, now that I posted the directions, I hope you get the chance to make this!


Total time: 15 minutes

Makes: 1 serving

 

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

8-9 large shrimp, thawed

Handful of kale

½ cup brown rice, cooked

Seasoning

¼ lime

¾ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

¼ tsp dried parsley

¼ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp paprika

1/8 tsp dried thyme

1/8 tsp onion powder

Directions

  1. To create the seasoning, combine all the spices in a large bowl and mix well.
  2. Add in thawed shrimp, 1 clove of the minced garlic and a drop of olive oil. Toss until the shrimp is mixed well in the seasoning. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add olive oil.
  4. Once the oil gets a silky look to it, add in garlic. Let it simmer for a couple minutes. Make sure not to let it burn!
  5. Immediately, add in kale and sauté in the pan until slightly wilted.
  6. Move kale to the side of the pan and add in shrimp.
  7. Squeeze the lime over the shrimp and cook until both sides begin to brown.
  8. Once kale is wilted down and shrimp is fully cooked, add brown rice, kale and shrimp to a bowl and enjoy!

Banana Zucchini Morning Muffins

Fall semester is starting to kick in full-gear, which means exams, projects, and early mornings galore. My Bando planner has been devotedly by my side these past few weeks, always reminding me of any last minute assignments and preparing me for the day (or week) ahead. As much as I love staying busy, I don’t have enough time in the morning to cook myself a full breakfast.

My goal for this week was to find a nutritious breakfast recipe that I could quickly eat as I rush out the door. I found a recipe on Ambitious Kitchen for these Banana Zucchini muffins, which I altered slightly to fit my health needs! I’ve been focusing on improving my digestion and boosting my energy (sorry cold brews, I’m moving on), so I was excited to incorporate zucchini into these muffins. (And for those that are down right disgusted with the thought of including veggies in their muffins, don’t worry: you can barely taste ’em.)

These muffins have been the highlight of my mornings. I stored five of these guys into a glass food storage container that has kept them fresh for the whole week, then I microwave one for about 25 seconds right before leaving for the day. I always love pairing these muffins with my favorite fall drink: coffee with a splash of almond milk and a few dashes of cinnamon.

Enjoy! It’s finally fall.


Total time: 45 minutes
Makes: 12 muffins

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 small to medium ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 egg whites
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)
2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup nonfat plain greek yogurt (I used Chobani)
Optional: 1/3 cup dark chocolate chunks

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners and spray inside of liners with nonstick cooking spray. This helps to prevent muffins from sticking to the paper.
  2. Squeeze shredded zucchini of excess water with a paper towel. This step is super important — it makes sure the muffins don’t get soggy!
  3. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon; set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, add mashed banana, oil, honey, vanilla and eggs; mix with an electric blender (or hand mixer) until smooth. Add in zucchini, applesauce, and yogurt and mix again until well combined.
  5. Slowly mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Try not to over-mix!
    (Optional step: Fold the chocolate chunks into the batter.)
  6. Evenly divide batter into muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Note: I don’t plan to eat all 12 muffins in one week, so I froze about half of them. I let all the muffins cool completely, then put 8 or so in a freezer bag and placed them in the freezer.

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

It’s true what they say about our taste buds aging as we do. When I was younger, you’d never catch me in the same room as a bowl of butternut squash soup. As I’ve gotten older, and been introduced to new dishes, I’ve learned to enjoy so many foods, one of them being butternut squash. Sure, it reminds me only of Thanksgiving, and sure, it’s still 80º outside (shout out to climate change), but it’s the start of winter squash season, and I couldn’t help myself.

 

 

The original recipe (found on a personal favorite blog) used a food emulsifier to get their perfectly puréed soup. But, when you’re a broke college student with a limited budget ($50) and limited supplies (no food emulsifier), you make do. I revised my recipe to make it easy for students with the same limitations that I have, one revision being that this dish can be made with a 72 oz. Ninja blender. The recipe had also called for two jalapeños, but I’m weak and cut it down to one. If you’re feeling up to the heat and want to add a second pepper, be my guest!

 

I’m excited to be blogging my recipes this semester, and hope I can help a few students to work magic in their kitchens and create some amazing meals!


 

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Makes: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash, peeled and halved
1 medium white onion, thickly diced
1 jalapeño, sliced into ¼ inch slices
1 shallot, thickly diced
5 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups vegetable broth
1 (15 oz.) can full-fat coconut milk
4 leaves fresh sage
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
72 oz. blender (I used a Ninja blender)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400º F and prepare a baking dish wiped with olive oil.
  2. Peel the butternut squash using a vegetable peeler; cut in half length-wise, and scrape out seeds.
  3. Bake squash for 30 minutes, remove from oven and add onion, jalapeño, shallot and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for another 30 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and place the roasted vegetables from the baking dish into a large blender.
  5. Add vegetable broth, coconut milk, sage, nutmeg and vinegar to the blender. Blend all the ingredients together until smooth.
  6. Place soup into a large pot, bring to a boil, then turn heat to low. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  7. Serve, or divide into portions for easy weeknight dinners (like I did!).