Friendly Food Snobs

zucchini noodle pesto pasta

Zucchini noodles, brown rice pasta, pesto, plus a red pepper and a few pantry staples can cobble together a beautiful little pasta dish. This recipe is packed with vegetables (yay nutrients in cold season!) and flavor, plus it is gluten free and I love how simple it is. A bowl of pasta on a January night makes me so happy.

zucchini noodle pasta


I have started buying spiralized vegetables when I grocery shop and they are a huge time saver with two little ones, having a prepped vegetable ready to go. We are actually eating more vegetables (in pastas or rice bowls) because of it.

Okay, back to the recipe! I love to make it with red pepper and zucchini, but you could also use baby spinach or swiss chard instead of zucchini noodles; or mushrooms instead of red pepper, just follow the recipe and sub in those veggies. I use brown rice pasta but you could use any type of pasta you like. I love using fusilli or spaghetti because it curls and blends so beautifully with the spiralized zucchini.

To estimate the amount of pasta here is a great trick, if the recipe calls for 200 grams of pasta, just look at the grams listed on the package when you open it and eyeball it. For example, my pasta box said 450 grams so I knew 200 grams would be approximately half of the package. Hope you enjoy the recipe, send me a little note on Insta or in the comments if you make it. Recipe serves four generous portions. Happy winter cooking!

Ingredients:

300-400 grams zucchini noodles (spiralized zucchini)

1 red pepper chopped

200 grams of your favourite pasta (I use brown rice spaghetti)

4 cloves garlic chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 heaping tbsp pesto (I use storebought)

salt and pepper

1/2 cup crumbled goat feta (or parmesan) for topping

Fill a large pot of water to boil, salt well and cook pasta according to package directions. Heat oil in a large skillet/frying pan. Add garlic and cook for a minute until fragrant. Add red pepper and cook until pepper softens slightly. Add the zucchini noodles to pan (be sure to NOT include the liquid from them, it makes the sauce watery) and generously add salt and pepper. Saute the vegetables for ten minutes.

Stir in the pesto and balsamic vinegar being sure to scrape up everything in the bottom of the pan and sides. This will create the sauce for the pasta. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and toss to combine. I have a large frying pan that can hold all the pasta. If yours is too small put the pasta back into the empty pot you cooked it in, and pour the pesto and vegetable mixture over it. Use tongs to combine the pasta with the pesto. I like to add some of the cheese now so it melts a little bit. Taste for salt and pepper. I usually add a little bit near the end. Serve with extra cheese sprinkled on top.

breakfast egg cups

breakfast egg cupsbreakfast egg cups

Only five days until Christmas, can you believe it? I am more organized this year since becoming a mama of two, I mean every present is already wrapped and normally I am always scrambling last minute. I am excited for the holidays and slightly nervous about two weeks of no nursery school for Oscar and keeping him somewhat quiet for Dash’s naps. Yikes. Back to the recipe!

I wanted to plan to make something delicious on Christmas morning that didn’t involve me standing over the stove for a long period of time. Hence these little breakfast egg cups were born. Christmas morning should be cozy and casual and I love these egg cups because they can sit alongside some croissants/fresh bread and berries and fruit on my table and be enjoyed as the morning goes on, more coffee is made and presents opened.

I love this recipe because the only thing you need to prep/cut is one little onion that adds a lot of flavour. I have made these ahead of time and also frozen them. That works, but I do prefer them made fresh.

If you have all the ingredients ready to go in your fridge they are quick to assemble and bake, are toddler approved in my house and do not require a fork and knife to eat..see my thoughts on cozy and casual above. Wishing you a happy and peaceful holiday friends!

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped onion (one small onion)

12 regular size eggs (use only 10 if using large eggs)

2 cups fresh baby spinach 

1/2 cup roasted peppers chopped (drained, from a jar)

1/2 cup feta cheese (or any cheese you want)

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

non stick spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the bottom of a frying pan with a little olive oil, Add the chopped onion, a little salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat until fragant. Add the spinach and cook for another two minutes until wilted. Combine the peppers with the spinach and onion in the pan and mix well.

Coat a muffin tin (12 cups) with non stick spray and fill each one with some of the spinach, pepper, onion mixture. In a large bowl beat the dozen eggs. Pour the eggs over each cup in the muffin tin. (I put the egg mixture in my plastic blender just to pour them because it has a spout, so less mess!) Top with crumbled feta, or whatever cheese you are using. Goat cheese or cheddar would work too.

Only fill the muffin tin 3/4 full as the cups will expand as they bake. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until tops of egg cups bounce back to the touch and look firm. My oven took 23 minutes. Let cool in muffin tin. To remove slide a spatula around the cups and wiggle them out. Store in the fridge for 3 days or freeze for longer. Reheat in the oven for a few minutes or microwave for 30 seconds on high. Hope you enjoy!

meditation, food prep and self care

Rachel Barbaro

We are in the busy weeks leading to the holidays and I was looking at the calendar earlier this week and felt that holiday anxiety set in. So much to do, so many commitments. And then yesterday I found myself eating a  protein bar in the car for lunch. Sad for me, because food makes me so happy usually!

I thought to myself, time to amp up my self care and food prep…I want to enjoy this season and not feel run over by it. I don’t know about you but eating well and taking care of myself seem to be the two foundations to stay calm and present. To be able to enjoy the sparkle in my boys’ eyes when I turn on the Christmas tree every morning or reading a book cuddled under a blanket. It’s the really simple mundane everyday moments that I love the most, not the high pressure ones. Here are a few rituals I’ve found so useful year round, but especially this season. 

Meditate 

I love to find some stillness between my thoughts before I start my day. I practice every morning and have for years. 

Here’s what I do: as soon as I wake up (before caffeine) I take a few minutes usually between five and ten to sit in stillness in my bedroom. (Yes I drink some water and visit the bathroom first..very very quietly to not wake the kids!) I don’t use a fancy meditation cushion or an app. This is old school zen meditation.  I sit cross legged on my bed and shut the door. If the kids are asleep or awake I still practice. And Neil protects those few minutes of the day for me because he knows how important it is. It just resets my mind to a place of stillness before the stream of thoughts and busy starts. Jon Kabat Zinn has a few amazing talks that you can watch on youtube. This post from Mindful.org helped me so much when I started my practice.

Self care/self love

Caring for yourself, honouring yourself is whatever fills up your cup. It is not usually going to spa for me or getting my nails done…after having two kids that isn’t realistic. I need actions that can be done simply and usually at home.

Here are my faves: chai or peppermint tea and watching a foreign movie or doc on Netflix (leave the chores for another day),  doing a mini facial and using a scrub/mask and my best face creams before bed slowly and mindfully, or making it to a yoga or bootcamp class to sweat out the old energy and breath in new. The point is to honour your body. 

Pure fun

Leave all screens in another part of the house and pile onto the couch or bed under a blanket with a magazine solo or with my kids and a dozen of their silliest books.

Walk outside in the trails and parks near my house with or without the little ones, noticing the change of the seasons.

Take myself for lunch or a coffee solo, my friend Tamara reminded me this is called an artist’s date and I love that.

Turn on music (like some 90’s rock or pop) and cook or bake usually super seedy banana bread or a soup that will be used for a few meals.

Onto the recipe below.

raspberry honey chia pudding

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons whole black chia seeds

2 tablespoons plain full fat yogurt

3/4 cup almond milk (or any milk you like)

shake of cinnamon

1 teaspoon honey

tiny pinch sea salt

topping ideas: fresh raspberries/any berries, raisins, granola, coconut flakes

Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl, stir well and cover and set in fridge overnight. When ready to eat give it a stir, and top with raspberries and whatever else you have on hand. If it’s too thick for your liking add a few drops of milk and stir.

nuts and bolts – a christmas classic

nuts and bolts

Nuts and bolts are a Christmas classic at my parents house when I was growing up. This is my take on my own mom’s recipe. Her nuts and bolts were so infamous she would make two or three huge batches between November and January and it would get devoured. I make it these days to have a stash at home and also give it away to friends and family tied up in clear bags. I have to do this pretty quickly. (Before Neil and I eat bowls of it while watching a movie after the kids go to bed!) I love having a container of this kicking around the kitchen to put out if guests pop by over the holidays and Oscar absolutely loves it as an after nursery school snack on these cold wintery days we’ve been having here in Toronto. It is the perfect salty snack and so addictive. It is not my typical whole food healthy recipe, but is tastes like my childhood Christmas and being home and cozy and really what is better than that in November?

Ingredients:
5 cups shreddies
2 cups cheerios
2 cups cheese bits crackers
3 cups pretzels
2 cups mixed salted nuts
2 cups salted cashews
4 tablespoon butter (I use salted)
4 tablespoon olive oil
5 teaspoon worcestershire
2-3 teaspoon garlic powder (we like 3 but if you are not a huge garlic fan, try 2)
2 teaspoon onion powder
pinch chili powder

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. I use a large aluminum roasting pan (the disposable kind) from the grocery store. Combine all the cereal and crackers and nuts in the pan.  Melt the butter in the microwave and add the oil and spices. Pour over the nuts and bolts and I use a large wooden spoon to mix well. (You want that yummy coating on everything.) Bake for 90 minutes and stir every 20-30 minutes. Let cool completely before you package them. Keeps well in a sealed container for two weeks. But it never lasts that long in my house. If you need any more holiday inspiration check out my chewy ginger cookies  or arugula pomegranate salad or cheddar thyme shortbread. Happy Christmas cooking, friends!

Scotcheroos

scotcheroosWhat is not to love about the scotcheroo? Peanut butter, dark chocolate and crunchy crispy bottom. It is simple to make (no bake) and gluten free and ridiculously yummy. I have been making them for the holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) for years and they are my sister’s absolute fave thing I think I make. Recipe makes a 9 x 13 dish so there will be LOTS of leftovers. I love to hide a few of these in the freezer (just for me) for a rainy day. I already made a batch for Canadian Thanksgiving and plan to whip up another the week before Christmas. Dashel will be 8 months at Christmas for his first one and I cannot wait. Oscar is 3 1/2 and will probably be gobbling up these scotcheroos as soon as he can get his hands on them after dinner. I follow the recipe from food52.com but make a tiny tweak by adding cinnamon. Onto the recipe below, hope you love them!

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I use the natural stuff I have on hand)
6 cups Rice Krispie cereal
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup dark chocolate chips (or semi sweet)
1 cup butterscotch chips

Line a 9 x 13 dish with foil or parchment for easy lifting. Measure the Rice Krispies into a large bowl and set aside. Heat the syrup and sugar in a small pot. Stir and remove from heat as soon as it starts to bubble. Add the peanut butter to the syrup and sugar. (I use a spatula for this recipe and it is so easy.) Stir the peanut butter and mix it well with the syrup and sugar then pour over the Rice Krispies. Adding the cinnamon and stir to combine. Pour this into the bottom on the lined 9 x 13 dish and press down firmly with your hands to make an even base.

In a microwave safe bowl mix the chocolate and butterscotch chips and heat in microwave for 30 secs then stir, and repeat twice. (So in the microwave for 3 x 30 seconds = 90 seconds total.) You want to heat the chips JUST enough to combine them and melt them. Wisk the chips and them pour over the Rice Krispie base. Leave to set for two hours before you cut them. Hint: if you want them to be perfect then run the knife you are using to cut them with under hot water and then dry it. The warm knife will help make clean cut squares. Store in a container at room temperature for a week or in the freezer for up to three months. Just thaw one hour before serving.

 

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