Roasted Garlic and Spinach Pesto with Asparagus and Pine Nuts on Pasta

020spinach pesto with asparagus and pine nuts

Roasted garlic is the secret to creamy rich sauces and soups. Roasting adds depth and texture as well as a caramel like sweetness without adding calories.

005 Roasted garlic

This dish is packed with nutrition and flavor.

Presenting spinach as a sauce is an innovative way to add nutrition and fiber and creamy sauciness without adding extra fat and calories.

Toasting the pine nuts also adds heft as well as flavor. I feel that the nuts really round out the meal.

This has become a favorite in my home.


1 bulb of garlic
1/3 to 2/3 cup of olive oil
5-6 cups uncooked baby spinach
¼ tsp nutmeg
Salt to taste
10 spears asparagus
½ cup pine nuts
1 box whole wheat spinach spiral pasta or your choice of pasta


Roast the Garlic:

1 bulb garlic, thin skin removed as much as possible

Use a clay roasting dish or wrap in foil

Turn oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for 30-45 minutes

Remove garlic from oven

While the garlic is roasting cook your pasta

While you are pureeing the pesto, chop and cook 10 spears of asparagus.

While the asparagus is cooking roast ½ cup of pine nuts at 350 degrees fahrenheit for about 5-10 minutes

Puree the Mixture
010Roasted Garlic PD

Allow to cool for a few minutes then simply remove the soft clove from the peel and place in the food processer.
Place about 5-6 cups of uncooked baby spinach along with the roasted garlic
Add about 1/3 to 2/3 cup of olive oil
Blend until smooth and creamy
Add ½ tsp of nutmeg and salt to taste


Drain the pasta and mix in about 2/3 of the roasted garlic spinach pesto and the pine nuts and check to see if you need salt.

Mix everything together well

Add cooked asparagus on top

Garnish with the remaining pesto

roasted garlic and spinach pesto PD015

Magical Coconut Bars

Vegan Coconut Bars

This recipe comes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz of the Post Punk Kitchen who has a new vegan cookbook out; Vegan With a Vengence which features 150 vegan recipes including desserts, cookies, main dishes and snacks.

These look amazing to me and I am anxious to try this recipe.

Recipe courtesy of Isa Chandra Moskowitz

These bars require a good overnight chilling to really firm them up before slicing, so plan accordingly.

Tip: You’ll want to use only sweetened, fluffy white flaked coconut for these. Save the natural shredded stuff for a healthy curry.

Tip: Press the graham cracker crumb crust like crazy into the pan; the more you pat it down the firmer the resulting crust will be.


One 14 oz can (regular or lite) coconut milk (about 1 3/4 cups)
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups vegan graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup melted margarine
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
2 cups flaked, sweetened coconut
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped


In a large saucepan whisk together coconut milk and brown sugar over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mixture may form a thin skin on the surface; just stir it back into the liquid. Remove from heat and let cool while preparing the crust.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, melted margarine and sugar; mix well to moisten crumbs completely. Firmly press mixture into prepared pan, pressing evenly from center to sides of pan.

Pour warm coconut milk mixture evenly over crumb base. Top with an even layer of chocolate chips, flaked coconut and nuts, in that order. Firmly pat everything down until coconut milk mixture soaks upward into the toppings. Bake for 28-30 minutes or until coconut is deeply golden and filling is bubbling, remove from oven and let entire pan cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

Transfer pan to the refrigerator to completely cool and firm up for at least 4 hours, even better overnight or until very firm. Use a sharp, heavy knife to run along the edges of bars, slide bars on parchment paper out of pan onto a cutting board then to slice into 24 squares.

Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. These also freeze well, tightly wrapped and allowed to thaw for 20 minutes before serving.

Meatless Meatballs in Red Sauce

1219090819a chicago christmas snow 2009 PD

Today is one of those, comfort-food-in-the-midwest kind of days. And although I try to stay away from processed and packaged foods, I do admit my guilty pleasure for Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs.

025Trader Joe's Meatless Meatballs in Red Sauce

They are fantastic and with your favorite red sauce they could fool your favorite carnivore.

If you like, pile them on top of whole wheat pasta or stuff them in a whole wheat bun for an amazing “meatball” sandwich.

Every now and then a little “food frivolity” doesn’t hurt. This is one guilty pleasure that you really don’t have to feel all that guilty about!

Sloppy Jane! Meatless Monday with Carmen Garcia!

SloppyJane01 copy Meatless Monday PD

Sloppy Jane

Level: Easy and Quick!
Serves 4

vegan Sloppy Joe mix, one box
2 cups bella mushrooms, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
1 small tomato, sliced
1 3 oz. tomato paste
1tsp olive/canola oil
2 tablespoons, Liquid Smoke
4 Ezekiel (flourless) toasted english muffin
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 small dill pickle, sliced


In a medium sauce pan bring 1 3/4 water to a boil. Mix in tomato paste.
Stir frequently. Lower heat and simmer.

Pour Sloppy Joe mix into water and tomato paste. Stir until ingredients thicken. Cover and simmer.

In a separate pan, add oil and lightly brown onions.

Set aside. In same pan, saute mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of Liquid Smoke and parsley until light golden brown.

Toast the english muffins. Add all of the fixings and serve.

The Sloppy Jane is a super fast and easy way to whip up a healthy and meatless meal. It is high in protein and fiber.

The flourless and sprouted grains of the english muffin is a low GI carbohydrate food that also contains fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. It barely contains zero fat and it’s a filling meal for lunch or dinner.

Don’t let “Jane” fool you with the name. Both hearty and light, you won’t even notice it is a meatless and tasty treat.

In Gusto!

The Turista Chef
–Carmen Garcia

Mocktails and Meatless Monday!

005 Cocktail Mocktail PD

Mocktails allow me to induldge and celebrate without the guilt and, quite frankly, the exsessive calories.

This cocktail features organic pomegranate juice, some soda water and a squeeze of lime in a stemmed glass.

Half the calories and an antioxident pick me up!

012 Sofrito PD

I also tried my hand at Sofrito to go along with pinto beans and brown rice.



1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 onion
1 head of garlic
1 bunch cilanto
3 large tomatoes

I chopped everything and placed in the food processor.

I froze 2 cups in separate containers and worked with 2 cups: one for the rice and one for the beans.

I sauteed the softened beans in the sofrito and cooked the rice in it also.

Salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe need some work. And maybe some added oil to the rice and beans to give it a richer flavor.

I do like having this powerful flavor ingredient on hand and can see using it in soups and crock pot meals.

Happy Music with Zee Avi!

zee-avi PD

Fresh and joyful! Zee Avi will put a smile on your face! Take a listen.

I Can Be Cheap and Easy!

001oatmeal, almonds, cocnut and raisinsPD

The frosty temperatures inspire a warm breakfast.

I have been doing my grocery shopping at a local market which features organic and specialty: vegetarian, vegan, bulk, local and whole foods.

That these are specialty items is another issue. In any case, let’s focus on the bulk part.

Being able to buy food in bulk is not only cost effective but it also helps me to maintain a supply of whole unprocessed foods at all times.

This morning only oatmeal could warm my bones. All of the ingredients are wholesome and organic and truly easy to turn into a great breakfast.

I usually cook a whole cup of steel cut oats and eat about 2/3 of a cup and store the rest in the fridge for the week. By the way, 1 cup of uncooked oats yealds about 4, 2/3 cup servings.

Sometimes I throw in a banana but today it was almonds, coconut and raisins.

Tip: a banana makes a nice substitute for milk and sugar. I will also add 1 Tbsp of coconut milk to replace milk.


Cook: 1 cup steel cut oats in 4 cups of water:

add 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp vanilla

That’s it for the oatmeal, then add any topping you like.


shredded coconut

1 Tbsp coconut milk

1/4 cup almonds

cinnamon and nutmeg to taste


Brown Jasmine Rice with Shiitake Mushrooms and Peanut Sauce

019Jasmine rice with mushrooms and peanut sauce PD

So easy , so delicious and nutritious.

This took just minutes and I simply scavenged through my pantry, fridge and freezer to create a colorful, tasty meal.

I enjoyed this with a hot cup of green tea


2 cups cooked rice
2 Tbsp Thai Peanut Sauce
½ cup sliced peppers
½ cup peas
1 cup sliced Shiitake mushrooms
2 Tbsp Cilantro leaves
½ lime


Throw everything into a sauté pan and heat until cooked evenly.

Toss in the cilantro and squeeze lime juice over top to serve.

The Destruction of Food Sovereignty

The Principle of Substantial Equivalence is the operating factor allowing Monsanto to genetically engineer the world’s food supply and leave millions vulnerable to corporate greed and tyranny.

Turista Chef Carmen Garcia’s Meatless Monday Recipe


A little bit about Carmen…

Carmen Garcia is an internationally recognized fitness celebrity, proactive in all levels of nutrition, health, wellness, and yoga principles.

An all around athlete with a competitive nature and a zest for healthy living, Carmen’s philosophy: spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental well being are the inseparable ingredients to a healthy life.

Carmen has worked hard to become one of America’s most popular fitness models, appearing in numerous publications, commercials, seminars and workshops. As a world class chef and entrepreneur, Ms. Garcia continues to re-invent herself via new challenges and accomplishments.

Carmen is a proud member and spokesperson for PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals), a fitness instructor and nutritional consultant certified by the Professional Personal Trainer’s Association (USPTA); and a member of IDEAfit, having studied with the International Sports and Science Association.

Leaving the old paradigms behind of stressing the body with strenuous workouts and hardcore weight training trends, moderation is the key for this femme-fit guru. Not only does she speak four languages (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and English), her company, Fitbody Star offers live and online education to an ever-growing international audience.

A world traveler and true “foodie” at heart, Carmen’s mantra is to achieve balance through proper nutrition from plant (protein) sources, supplementation, and variations on classic exercise techniques, to achieve homeostasis and improve overall quality of life through a sound mind, body, and spirit.

Promoting her unique style of vegan cooking as the “Turista Chef”, she writes with signature joie de vivre about a hidden world of exotic destinations and cultures through the lens of the traditional and not so traditional regional cuisine.

Fitbody Star offers instruction in: nutrition, indoor/outdoor activity, yoga movement and stretching, dance form, body and weight strengthening, interval training, outdoor circuit training, boot camp, kickboxing techniques, plyometrics, meditation, core training and overall functional training for better sports & daily task performance.

Learn more about Carmen Garcia, and visit her at:

Color vibrancy, rich and nutritious flavors is what makes this dish so deLIGHTfully tasty. Inspired by roots of Jamaica, I’ve prepared this easy vegan dish with an array of spices that burst into tropical flavors.

Recipe courtesy of Carmen Garcia

JamaicanJerkPortabello copy PD

Jamaican Jerk Portabello

Serves 2
1 cup brown basmati rice, steamed
2 large portabello mushrooms, sliced
1 small banana squash, steamed/seeded and chopped into medium size cubes.
1 small red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 small green bell pepper, sliced into strips
2 cups of organic black beans, drained (canned for quick and easy)

Jerk Pineapple Marinade

1 small red onion, chopped
1 small serrano green chili, minced (seeds removed)
1 cup pineapple, cubed
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small lime juice
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp Pompeian olive/canola oil
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp sea salt or substitute salt

Steam rice in a slow cooker or rice cooker before you begin to prep and cook the Portabello mushrooms and marinade.

Mix all marinade ingredients and set aside in a plastic or glass bowl. Slice Portabello mushrooms and mix into marinade bowl.

Store in fridge over night or for a minimum of 1-2 hours before cooking. When ready to cook, pre-heat large wok on high/med by lubricating the wok with the canola/olive oil.

Stir in all of the ingredients of the marinade and mushrooms only.

Lower heat and cover allowing steam to soften the mushrooms for about 5-8 minutes depending on how tender you wish as they tend to shrink with prolonged heat.

In a separate medium sized pan, steam banana squash for 12 minutes or until tender. Toss in the bell peppers during the last 4- 5 minutes.

If they lose their color vibrancy, you have over cooked them. In another small sauce pan heat black beans on low.

Find a beautiful plate and pack the rice into a small bowl and onto the center of the plate.

Carefully arrange and assort all of the ingredients as you wish and top with sprinkled coconut shreds and slivered raw almonds.

Almonds, beans and Portabello mushrooms are loaded with protein, fiber and nutrients. The steamy fragrant rice and fibrous vegetables are delicious as a low GI (glycemic index) food topped with an unforgettable pineapple chutney sauce and a spicy jerk marinade. This dish is low in fat and moderate in carbohydrates. High in protein, fiber and nutrients.

Related Posts