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The Absolute Best Cowboy Caviar – A Healthy and Versatile Recipe!

A dip full of veggies has to be healthy, right?! This is NOT the case when you LOAD it up with sugar as is the case in some cowboy caviar recipes I have seen! This quick and easy recipe uses a little bit of agave and is loaded with flavor that is only enhanced the longer it is allowed to marinate for. 


1 Red Onion, Minced
1 Green Pepper, Diced
1 Red Pepper, Diced
1 15 Oz Can Chick Peas or Black Eyed Peas, Rinsed & Drained
1 15 Oz Can Black Beans, Rinsed & Drained
2 Stalks Celery, Diced
1 Lb Tomatoes, Diced 
1.5 Cups of Corn Kernals, Cooked
Optional: Bunch of Cilantro, Parsley or Scallions, Minced

1 Tsp Chili Powder
1 Tsp Cumin
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
½ Tsp Sea Salt, More to Taste
1/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Optional: Juice From 1/2 Lime, 1 Tbsp Agave Nectar or Sweetener of Choice


  1. Mix the dry ingredients for the dressing and slowly whisk in the vinegar, agave and oil. Mix well and set aside while you prepare the salad. 
  2. Combine the red onion, green pepper, red pepper, chick peas or black eyed peas, black beans, celery, tomatoes and corn in a bowl. Add the option herbs if you are using them.
  3. Add the dressing and stir well. 
  4. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight if possible, the longer this sits, the better it gets! 

This cowboy caviar recipe is one of my favorites because it is so versatile. It works well served as a side dish (pair with grilled seafood or meat for a perfect summer meal!), a dip with crispy corn chips, as a topping on tacos, with eggs for breakfast and even on top of some crisp greens as a salad. Stir in some cooked quinoa to the cowboy caviar and you have a super easy weekday bring to work lunch. If you don’t like chick peas or black eyed peas, double up on black beans or add in pinto or kidney beans! 

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Perfect Lower Fat Pesto

When I am working with someone and helping them make healthy changes to their diet and lifestyle, something I always try to do is focus on what they CAN eat, what they CAN do and what they ARE capable of. I believe focusing on the positive and what can remain the same provides comfort for clients and makes the changes less daunting. One of the ways I do this is by helping them swap out items for better choice alternatives. One of the ways this can be done in recipes is by tweaking things like fat, sugar and salt in classic recipes while keeping the main flavors the same.

This pesto recipe is full of bright herby and rich nutty flavors and goes well with sooo many things. While this healthier pesto contains so many of the amazing flavors of a traditional pesto, this recipe has half the calories and half the fat compared to a traditional pesto you might buy at the store or make at home! This recipe also omits parmesan cheese making it a completely vegan pesto recipe.

Perfect Lower Fat Pesto

Makes 6 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes

2 Cups (3 Ounces) Fresh Basil
½ Cup Walnut Halves & Pieces
3 Medium Sized Cloves of Garlic
1 ½ Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
½ Cup Water
½ Tsp Salt


1. In a food processor, blend walnuts and garlic for thirty seconds.

Healthier Pesto 3

2. Pluck off the basil leaves from the stems and discard stems. Add the leaves to the food processor along with the vinegar and a sprinkle of salt. Blend in the food processor for a few seconds, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary then add in the olive oil.

Healthy Pesto 4
3. Once everything is well incorporated, slowly add in the water until well combined. Feel free to add the water in 1 Tbsp at a time so that you get the consistency you’d like. The more water you add, the thinner the pesto will be!

4. Once you have reached your desired consistancy by adding the water, taste and add little more salt if you’d like!

Healthier Pesto 1

Use this pesto on pasta (my favorite is Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi!), in a potato salad, to cover roasted or grilled veggies or even as a spread on a sandwich. Mix with plain, nonfat Greek yogurt and use as dip!

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Vegetarian “Chicken Wing” Dip with Jackfruit

Have you guys ever had jackfruit? A year or two ago I was at the grocery store and saw a package of pre-made, bbq style jackfruit that I just had to try. I thought it was really good, but I wanted to experiment with making my own creations with this fruit that has the texture and appearance of pulled pork or pulled chicken.


You can find whole, raw jackfruit at many Asian supermarkets. This fruit is absolutely massive – usually the size of a large, oblong watermelon and can be rather messy to “butcher” at home. For this recipe (and others!), I take a shortcut and buy the young/green/unripe canned stuff that’s much easier to manage and allows me to whip up recipes in no time. Despite its name, this young/green/unripe jackfruit isn’t sweet the way you’d think of most fruits and it really takes on the flavor of whatever you season it with. Additionally, it’s fat free, has 0 grams of sugar and is rich in fiber.

I created this recipe because it has all the flavor of traditional chicken wing dip but without the meat and without the bottled ranch or blue cheese dressing. When I first became a vegetarian, I was all about the imitation meat substitutes. The more I have learned about nutrition, the more I have realized that “fake meat” is not the solution. While there are definitely exceptions, many “fake meat” options and many imitation dairy products are full of crappy ingredients. If you follow me on Instagram you probably know about my obsession with the Miyoko’s line of vegan dairy product alternatives which I would consider an exception! This brand has some amazing plant based products with awesome ingredients. The vegan butter is my favorite and absolutely AMAZING. I have even converted a slew of dairy lovers to the Miyoko’s butter! You could easily swap some Miyoko’s vegan cream cheese/vegan cheese for the dairy products I used in this recipe to make it vegan.

Vegetarian “Chicken Wing” Dip with Jackfruit

Makes 8 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

1 20 Oz Can of Young/Green/Unripe Jackfruit (~10 oz Jackfruit When Drained)
1 8 Oz Brick of Organic Cream Cheese or Organic Neufchatel Cheese, Softened
1/4 Tsp Dried Dill
1 Tsp Dried Parsley
1/2 Tsp Onion Powder
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
1/3 Cup of Frank’s Red Hot
2 Oz – 4 Oz Organic Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Optional: Scallions for Garnish


    1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
    2. In a bowl, combine cream cheese, dill, parsley, onion powder and garlic powder. Tip: If you forgot to take the cream cheese out of the fridge to soften, zap it in the microwave for 15 seconds. If it is still not soft enough, microwave it for another 15 seconds!
    3. Open and drain the can of jackfruit. Using clean hands (this should be a given but I had to say it) or two forks, “shred” the jackfruit. You will begin to see strands and the the jackfruit will look like pulled pork. image3You may notice that the jackfruit has some  little pods that look like beans or seeds. These are fully edible, but you may remove them if you choose!image2
    4. Add the hot sauce to the softened cream cheese and herb mixture and mix well. Add the jackfruit and mix until everything is combined.image6
    5. Scrape the dip into an oven safe 8×8 baking dish or pie plate.
    6. Grate the cheese over the top of the dip creating an even layer. I use a grater like this with smaller holes as I feel like I can get ample cheesey coverage with less cheese. I personally used 2 oz of cheese for my dip, but up to 4 oz would be fine! Tip: If you don’t have a food scale and you purchased a standard 8 oz brick of cheese, cut the brick of cheese in half and then in half again. Each of the four pieces will be roughly 2 ounces!
    7. Bake the dip for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the dip is heated through.image5

I love serving this dip with cut up peppers, carrots, celery and of course corn chips. What are some of your favorite snacks and what healthier twists do you put on them?

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Quick Cannellini Bean Salad

Something I am trying to be more conscious about is food waste and how to reduce it in my home. This recipe came to fruition as I was chopping up celery to roast and to use in a soup. I was trimming away the leaves from the celery and realized that they were a perfectly good and usable part of the vegetable so instead of throwing them away or saving them for a stock, I decided to set them aside in a colander to use later for salads. The mild celery flavor from the leaves compliments the smooth and creamy beans, bright lemon, sweet onion and spicy garlic perfectly! If you don’t have any celery at home, try using parsley or any other fresh herbs you may have on hand!

Cannellini Bean Salad

Makes 4 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes

1 15 Ounce Can of Cannellini Beans
¼ of a Sweet Onion
1 Stalk Green Onion
1 Handful of Celery Leaves Chopped or Parsley
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Juice from ½ a Lemon
1 Clove of Garlic
Salt and Pepper to Taste

1. Rinse the cannellini beans and drain. While they are draining, finely mince the ¼ of an onion and the garlic. Thinly slice the green onion, stopping when it gets to the white portion.


2. Clean and dry celery leaves (or parsley) and finely chop.

3. Add the drained beans, onion, garlic, green onion and celery leaves to a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest if desired.


If you don’t have cannellini beans, use chick peas or navy beans instead.  Lemon juice may also easily be substituted with 2-3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Eat this recipe as a side, or pair with a protein for a full meal. How do you cut down on food waste? I would love to hear any tips you may have!

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Basic Lower Fat Hummus

Have you ever picked up an item at the store or even purchased something, brought it home and then scoped out the label only to be confused as to how some strange ingredients ended up in a seemingly straight forward product? I have. So many times. While you may pick up an item and simply toss it in your chart thinking it must be pretty straight forward, I have found things like tons of added sugar in jarred pasta sauce and crackers, and chemical preservatives in items like hummus and canned jalapeños. While I know it’s not realistic to make everything at home and everything from scratch, there are still so many things we can make at home very quickly and therefore we are in full control of the fat, sugar, sodium and ingredient content!

This basic hummus recipe has tons of flavor but half the fat of the average store bought hummus (yes, fats from plant sources are still fats!) and is a great base for you to be creative and try different add-ins and toppings!

Basic Lower Fat Hummus
Servings: 18 (~2 Tbsp Each)
Prep Time: 5 Minutes

2 Cans of Chickpeas, Drained (15 Oz Each)
2 Tsp Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Cumin
1/4 Tsp Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Tahini
Juice from 1 Lemon (About 5 Tbsp)
1/4 Cup Water

Optional Topping Ideas: Fresh Herbs (dill, parsley, scallions), Chopped Almonds, Chili Powder, Olives

1. Add all ingredients except water to a food processor and blend for 30 seconds. Scrape sides down if necessary.
2. Add 1/4 cup of water and blend again. If hummus appears to be too dry, add water in Tablespoon increments until desired consistency is achieved.

Your homemade hummus is good in the refrigerator for a week!

How do I use my hummus?! I use it as a dip for veggies, a spread for sandwiches and wraps, a topping on salad and I’ve even used it in place of mayo in egg salad! Try tossing some hummus on a piece of naan bread with a little feta cheese and popping it on the grill then adding loads of fresh veggies on top for a summer pizza!