Farmers Market Fresh Tomato Sauce

Farmers market season is the best! This tomato sauce is easy to make and includes all ingredients that are plentiful this time of year. 

The farmers market is the best! 

The farmers market is the best! 

Look at all those colors... ready to simmer down!

Look at all those colors... ready to simmer down!

Farmers Market Fresh Tomato Sauce

Serves 6 - 8


4 cups tomatoes*, chopped

1 sweet onion, chopped

2 bell peppers, chopped

7 oz tomato paste

2 tablespoons relish

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper 

*A variety of tomatoes works great, for example: cherry tomatoes and roma tomatoes! 


1. In a large pan saute the tomatoes, onion, and pepper for 5 - 10 minutes.

2. Stir in the tomato paste, relish, garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper. Simmer on low for at least 60 minutes. Stirring occasionally while simmering.

3. For a smooth sauce puree with an immersion blender. For a thicker sauce -serve as is!

Serving suggestions: serve over zucchini noodles or whole wheat pasta.

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Summer Pesto Pizza

Skinny Rules Pesto! 

Skinny Rules Pesto! 

This delicious pesto takes perfect on top of pizza for a light and delicious dinner or even appetizer. This recipe is from The Skinny Rules (Publisher: Harlequin Non-Fiction, see page 108), it's a recipe from a cousin of mine, Kristine Schoembs. What I love about this recipe is that it is only 45 calories per serving, which is much less from traditional pesto that can be loaded with calories. While the calories in pesto mostly come from healthy fats from nuts and oil, it can be hard to save enough calories in a day for a rich pesto. 

Skinny Rules Pesto

Serves 8 (1 oz servings)


2 cups fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup veggie or chicken broth

1/4 cup grated Parmesean cheese

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 - 3 garlic cloves


Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend! Store pesto in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Nutrition facts (per flatbread pizza*): 50 calories, 3 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, <5 milligrams cholesterol, 100 milligrams sodium, 6 grams carbs, 3 grams fiber, 0 grams sugar, 3 grams protein

Photo by luchezar/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by luchezar/iStock / Getty Images


Serves 1 


Whole grain flatbread of  choice (approximately 150 calories)

1/4 cup feta cheese

1 oz Skinny Rules pesto (See recipe above)

Toppings of your choice: sliced olives, mushrooms, zucchini, olives, arugula, basil leaves, etc. 


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Top the flatbread with pesto and spread evenly around. Then top with feta cheese and toppings of choice.

Bake for 10 minutes, until the cheese is warm and melted. Slice and serve.

Nutrition facts (per flatbread pizza*): 273 calories, 9 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 30 milligrams cholesterol, 620 milligrams sodium, 39 grams carbs, 22 grams fiber, 2 grams sugar, 12 grams protein

*Nutrition facts based on a Millet & Flax Flatbread (150 calories) and sliced zucchini for a topping, note: the flatbread selected and the toppings will impact the nutrition fact data. 

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Happy National Mojito Day - Strawberry Mojito



What I love about this refreshing strawberry mojito, is that it relies on the sweetness of the strawberries and skips simple syrup all together. This recipe is from my recipe book, Skinny-Size It (Publisher: Harlequin Non-Fiction)!


Serves 2


1 lime wedge, sliced into 6 wedges

8 fresh mint leaves, plus 2 mint sprigs for garnishing

4 strawberries, stems removed and cut in half, plus 2 whole strawberries for garnishing

2 ounces white rum

Club soda



1. Place 3 limed wedges and 4 mint leaves in each of 2 glasses and lightly mash in the bottom of the glass with a spoon or wooden muddler. Then add 2 strawberries to each glass and lightly muddle.

2. Top each glass with rum, club soda, and ice. Garnish each with a strawberry and sprig of mint, and serve at once. 

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 80 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 0 milligrams sodium, 6 grams carbohydrates. 2 grams fiber, 2 grams sugar, <1 gram protein

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The Perfect Summer Salad

This Mango Strawberry Pecan salad is perfect for summer! It is really simple to put together and is delicious.

Mango Strawberry Pecan Salad

Serves 6


2 cups chopped romaine lettuce

2 cups baby spinach, stems removed

1 mango, diced into cubes

1 cup sliced strawberries

1/4 cup feta cheese

1/4 cup pecans

Balsamic vinaigrette


In a serving bowl or on a platter start with the greens. Then top with the mango, strawberries, pecans, and feta. 

Serve with balsamic vinaigrette dressing on the side.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 100 calories, 6 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 470 milligrams sodium, 15 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 9 grams sugar, 2 grams protein

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Oh wow - DIY Vegan Mayonnaise

To start, I have to say, you must give this a try! This vegan mayonnaise was easy to make and tasted incredible!

The back story - I had picked up a bunch of cans of chickpeas so that I could experiment with aquafaba but wasn't sure what I was going to make first. Aquafaba It is the liquid that beans are cooked in. Then we were having avocado (the boys opted for bacon), lettuce, & tomato sandwiches and wanted some mayonnaise to add but we didn't have any.... this is where the aquafaba came in!

My husband did a quick search for vegan mayonnaise, and found this delicious NY Times Cooking D.I.Y. Vegan Mayonnaise recipe using aquafaba - we adapted it and used canola oil instead of the sunflower oil. Here's the recipe version that we tried:


1/4 cup aquafaba*

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons dried mustard

3/4 cup vegetable oil


In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the aquafaba, white vinegar, lemon juice, salt, sugar, and dried mustard. 

Using an immersion blender, start blending the mixture. Then as you are blending, start to slowly drizzle the oil into the mixture (my husband helped me with this part - it was helpful to have an extra set of hands to drizzle the oil while blending). Adding the oil should take about 4 - 5 minutes and the mixture will continue to thicken to the consistency of mayonnaise while blending. 

Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready for use. 

*Note: From one can of chickpeas you will get about 1 cup of reserved aquafaba.

For more about aquafaba:

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Veggie Spiedie Sandwich

Where I live (Binghamton, NY area) Spiedies are a local staple. The history of the spiedie is debated some but the story is that the spiedie was brought to Binghamton by Italian immigrants in the 1920's. Most traditionally, spiedies were marinated lamb that was then grilled and served on fresh Italian bread.

Today around our area you mostly find that spiedies are cubes of marinated meat typically - pork, beef, or chicken. So, when I started eating vegetarian a couple of years ago, I had to figure out a plant-based solution to the traditional spiedies. Sometimes I make my own version of spiedie marinade (recipe below) and other times I use a local favorite - Lupo's spiedie marinade!

Here is a how-to and recipe (Skinnier Spiedie Sandwich - page 28- 30), that is in Skinny Size-It (Harlequin Non Fiction 2014). 

Tofu Spiedies... oh yum!&nbsp;

Tofu Spiedies... oh yum! 

 Veggie Spiedie Sandwich

Serves 4


8 ounces extra-firm tofu
1 cup Spiedie Marinade (See recipe below or store bought)
4 whole-wheat flat breads (such as Flatout Healthy Grain Flatbread)
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
2 plum tomatoes, sliced


1. Remove the tofu from the package and drain the excess water by placing the tofu on a plate lined with paper towels and letting it sit for 15 - 20 minutes. Then cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and place the cubes in a medium-size mixing bowl. Pour the Spiedie Marinade over the tofu and allow it to marinate for at least 30 minutes (works great to marinate overnight!). 

2. Lightly coast a medium-size skillet with cooking spray, and then heat the skillet over medium heat. Remove the tofu from the marinade with a slotted spoon and saute it int he skillet, turning gently with a spatula, until it has browned on all sites, about 20 - 30 minutes. 

3. Fill each flatbread with tofu cubes, shredded lettuce, and tomato slices. Fold in half and then serve!

Other tips: serve the spiedies as a salad topper or another favorite is to served topped with sauteed peppers and onions. 

Nutrition facts (per serving): 230 calories, 132 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 460 milligrams sodium, 21 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams fiber, 2 grams sugar, 17 grams protein

Spiedie Marinade

Yield: 1 cup (16 tablespoons)


1/3 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. In a mixing bowl or salad dressing shaker, combine all the ingredients, and whisk or shake, mixing thoroughly. 

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Coconut Chip Banana Bread

When it comes to making gluten-free and lower carb breads, coconut flour is a great go-to; it has a delicious flavor and still gives the bread a somewhat 'bread-like' texture. This bread adds in coconut oil for moisture - the result: a soft and delicious gluten-free banana bread. 


Coconut Chip Banana Bread

Serves 16


1 cup coconut flour
1 cup gluten-free oats
3 large bananas, mashed
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk or almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or pure vanilla
1/2 cup coconut oil


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a bread pan with butter or parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, oats, mashed bananas, baking powder, salt, and coconut sugar. Stir to combine. 

Then stir in the eggs, milk, vanilla, and coconut oil. Stir to combine again, the mixture will be thick. Then stir the chocolate chips into the mixture.

Bake for 60 minutes or until the bread is golden on top and a toothpick comes out clean.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 190 calories, 9 grams fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 180 milligrams sodium, 23 grams carbs, 5 grams fiber, 10 grams sugar, 4 grams protein

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Oh Yum! Bean & Veggie Dip

Bean &amp; Veggie Dip

Bean & Veggie Dip

This dip is simple to put together and it is perfect in SO many ways! I love it as a dip with tortilla chips, it tastes great with chicken or fish as a topping, or even just as a side dish by itself. 


1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (11 ounce) can super sweet corn, drained
1 sweet onion, diced
1 diced green bell pepper
1 diced red bell pepper


Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Note: for best results, refrigerate overnight before serving! 

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 170 calories, 5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 200 milligrams sodium, 26 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 9 grams sugar, 6 grams protein

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Panzanella Salad

I absolutely love, love, love panzanella salad! Classically panzanella is a salad of bread and tomatoes although, I like to switch it up and use a base of all different vegetables, like pictured here: cucumbers, red bell peppers, sweet onions. This recipe goes great with Italian meals or even as a stand alone salad. You can serve it topped with grilled marinated chicken or tofu too!


Panzanella Salad

Serves 6


1/2 sweet onion

5 mini cucumbers

1 red bell pepper

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 tablespoon honey mustard

1 tablespoon agave nectar

sea salt and black pepper

4 slices of bread or rolls, cut into bite-size cubes

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, cut into thin slices


1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Prepare vegetables by chopping into bite-size pieces and place on baking sheet.

3. Whisk together in a small bowl: vinegar, olive oil, mayonnaise, honey mustard, and agave nectar. Then season with sea salt and black pepper.

4. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and drizzle the rest of the dressing over the chopped vegetables. Roast the vegetables for 20 - 25 minutes or until they are tender.

5. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the reserved vinaigrette and then add the cubed bread. Stir throughout cooking and continue to cook until the bread cubes are lightly browned. Then remove from the heat and toss with the Parmesan cheese.

6. After the vegetables are done add the prepared croutons and top with the Parmesan cheese slices. 

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Tart Cherry Buttermilk Scones

A perfect treat for St. Patrick's day! These scones are so delicious and the dried tart cherries add a balance of sweetness and tartness. Plus the scones are made with whole grains, the base is made with a blend of whole wheat pastry flour and oats. 

Tart Cherry Buttermilk Scones

Serves 8


2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup oats

6 tablespoons sugar

1 stick of butter

1 cup dried tart cherries

1 cup buttermilk


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 

2. In a mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients.

3. Then in a food processor add the dry ingredients and the butter. Pulse until the mixture is combined and the butter is all mixed in.

4. Transfer back to the mixing bowl and stir in the buttermilk and cherries.

5. On a floured surface, place the scone mixture and knead (use more flour if needed to keep dough from sticking) to form into a large round circle about 1 - 1.5" thick. Then cut into 8 triangle slices. 

6. Prepare a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or butter. Then transfer the triangles to the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. 

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