Roasted Vegetable Sandwich

Roasted Vegetable SandwichHere’s another quick and delicious meat-free meal idea for you that’s perfect for summer time or any time, really! It’s so simple I’m not even sure I can call it a recipe. It’s versatile too. Prefer to grill the vegetables? That works. Rather have a salad? Just place the vegetables on top of a bed of mixed greens. Or chop up the vegetables and put them over whole wheat pasta or brown rice. But I have to tell you, tonight I made these as sandwiches for Meatless Monday and they were so delicious. …And you thought it was hard to come up with a meat-free dinner. I’ve got you covered.

Sliced VegetablesRoasted Vegetable Sandwich

  • 1 eggplant, sliced lengthwise in half inch pieces
  • 1 bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced in quarters
  • 2 portabello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise in half inch pieces
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • 4 sprouted wheat hamburger buns
  • 4 slices havarti cheese
  • 1 cup mixed greens

Garlic Mayonnaise Spread

  • 1/2 cup all natural mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp. chopped parsley

Roasted VegetablesPreheat oven to 450 degrees. Place all the sliced vegetables on a baking sheet. Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss with your hands to coat evenly. Place in oven for about 20 minutes until tops begin to turn lightly brown and the water from the vegetables has cooked off. Flip vegetables over and cook for another 5 or 10 minutes.

Toast buns. Combine ingredients for mayonnaise spread and stir well. Spread mayo on bun and stack vegetables topping with cheese and a bit of mixed greens.

Serve with roasted potatoes or mixed greens salad. Enjoy!

Artichoke and Lemon Pasta

Herb ContainersThis new pasta recipe I created is quickly becoming one of my favorites. The fresh flavors of lemon and herbs are perfect for summer. I’ve been cutting the parsley and basil straight from my herb containers that John and I planted. This dish is really quick and simple to throw together after a busy day of fun in the sun. I think you’ll love it too.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb. whole wheat pasta (penne or bowtie work well)
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley or basil
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • sea salt and pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Do not allow it to burn. Add the artichoke hearts and cook over medium high heat for several minutes. When the pasta is ready, drain it and add it to the artichokes. Add the lemon zest and the herbs and drizzle with EVOO. Stir well. Stir in cheese and season with salt and pepper. I served it with a lovely caprese salad. It was a hit!

photo 2-15photo-14

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Hello, my name is Ashley and I am a cereal addict. Well, I used to be. If I didn’t have a family to feed, didn’t enjoy cooking and wasn’t paying such close attention to what I eat, I would probably eat cereal for every meal, every day. In fact, back before I was married and had kids, I’m certain that some days I did just that. For years I usually bought the pseudo-healthy cereals. You know, the ones that trick you into thinking they are healthy, but actually have way too much sugar and are highly processed. Honey Bunches of Oats, Frosted Mini Wheats and Honey Nut Cheerios were always some of my favorites. The words OAT and WHEAT in their names and the fact that they say “Whole Grains” all over the box are very misconceiving. But now, I know better.

In recent years I switched to cereals that are healthier, well at least a little bit. They include 100 percent whole grains, less sugar and no “fake” ingredients. For months I’ve been buying Nature’s Path Brand Heritage Flakes. I enjoy a bowl with sliced bananas or blueberries on top. For the most part the ingredients can all be considered “clean.” However, many people who follow a strict “clean eating” diet would frown upon the “evaporated cane juice.” But in my experience, you can drive yourself a little crazy trying to eliminate everything. And almost every cereal you buy, is still going to be somewhat processed. There is no doubt that oatmeal (whole grain rolled oats) is a much better choice. One look at the list of ingredients will make it clear why. There is just one ingredient and it is a 100 percent whole grain. But don’t be fooled by the little pre-made packets. Those are full of artificial ingredients. You have to make oatmeal yourself if you are striving to follow a “real food” diet.

For awhile now I have abstained from eating oatmeal because I couldn’t find a clean way to prepare it that didn’t taste like mush. Sure, with brown sugar and raisins it’s delicious,  but if you are trying to avoid added sugar, that’s not an option. After a bit of experimenting, I’ve finally discovered a way to prepare oatmeal that tastes delicious without adding sugar. I’m excited to share my recipe with you! With 5 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per serving it will keep you going all morning long. And with just 202 calories it will easily fit into your calorie total for the day.  I think you’ll enjoy it so much that you might just replace your boxed cereal for good. Even if you’ve been a cereal addict like me.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal“Clean Eating” Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/4 cup natural applesauce
  • 1/2 cup apple, diced

Combine all ingredients except for the diced apples in a medium-sized microwavable bowl. Stir well. Heat in microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes. Add diced apples and a sprinkle of cinnamon to the top. If you prefer it to be sweeter, add a little drizzle of extra honey on top. Makes one serving.

Optional: Add chopped walnuts or raisins.

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 202

Fat: 3.1 g

Saturated: .5 g

Polyunsaturated: 1 g

Monounsaturated: 1 g

Trans: 0 g

Cholesterol: 0 mg

Sodium: 1.2 mg

Potassium: 79.6 mg

Carbs: 41.2 g

Fiber: 6 g

Sugars: 11.2 (From honey. No added sugar)

Protein: 5.1 g

Vitamin A: .2%

Vitamin C: 7%

Calcium: 3.7%

Iron: 11.7%


Baked Eggplant Parmesan

IMG_4451Looking for a special, home cooked meal that you can make ahead and pop in the oven on a busy evening? My Baked Eggplant Parmesan is perfect for those busy nights leading up to Christmas when you have family coming in town and you need to feed a crowd, but don’t want to be fussing with dinner when they walk in the door. Make this eggplant dish earlier in the day or even the day before. It is a welcome alternative to the ever-popular lasagna and since it’s vegetarian it will suit everyone’s tastes. I plan to make this next weekend when my family comes in town to watch Elizabeth dance in the Nutcracker. I’ll cook up a couple of simple pizzas for my nephews too. This dish comes together quite quickly and is always a crowd pleaser. My kids even love it. I commonly make it ahead for time crunched weeknights when the girls have after school activities. I put it together in the afternoon and when we get home from swimming or dance class, I just put it in the oven. At only 171 calories per slice, it’s a much healthier version than traditional fried eggplant parm. Andy often brings home eggplant from his wholesale produce market and this is one of my favorite ways to cook it up. If you haven’t noticed, I make a lot of Italian dishes. I can’t help it, it’s in my blood. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we do.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

  • 1 Large Eggplant
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Panko or Bread Crumbs
  • 2 tsp. Dried Basil
  • 2 tsp. Dried Oregano
  • Marinara (Store bought or My Recipe)
  • Shredded Mozzarella

Slice EggplantTurn on the broiler of your oven. Place eggs in small bowl, scramble. Combine parmesan, panko, basil and oregano in another small bowl and stir to combine. Slice eggplant into thin circles (the thinner, the better). Spray one or two cookie sheets or jelly roll pans with nonstick cooking spray. Using a fork or your fingers, dip each piece of eggplant first in the egg, coating each side. Then dip it into the panko mixture and turn over coating both sides of each piece of eggplant. Use a spoon to cover with the breadcrumbs if needed.

Panko Mixture

One at a time transfer each piece of eggplant to your baking sheet. Once you’ve done this with each piece of eggplant, place them in the oven. Keep an eye on them and flip when the top is browned (about 10 minutes on each side.) Remove from oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 13 x 9 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon some of the marinara sauce into the casserole dish and spread around to cover the bottom. One by one, place each piece of eggplant in the baking dish. I usually overlap the edges a bit. Cover with enough marinara sauce to ensure each piece of eggplant has sauce on it. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese (as much as you like). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until cheese is melty and sauce is bubbly. Makes about 6 to 8 servings.

Ready to Bake

Serve with whole wheat pasta, extra sauce, parmesan and red pepper flakes. I also usually serve this with a side salad or green vegetable. The red and green would make a beautiful holiday plate. Here I sautéed zucchini slices with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. It was delicious.

Baked Eggplant ParmesanBuon appetito!

Nutritional Facts: (Per 1 Slice)

Calories: 171

Fat: 6.3 g

Saturated: 2.4

Cholesterol: 10.4

Sodium: 615.5

Potassium: 132.3

Carbs: 21.7 g

Fiber: 3.9 g

Sugars: 5.3 g

Protein: 7.7 g

Vitamin A: 8.3%

Vitamin C: 8%

Calcium: 14%

Iron: 7.8%

Baking Pumpkin Bread with My Pumpkin

Early BirdMy daughter Elizabeth and I are both early birds and this Saturday morning we were up even before the worms. After a quiet cup of coffee, I was ready to make the most of this rare alone time with her. Instead of flipping on cartoons, we flipped open my cookbook. One of my favorite things about fall are pumpkins. It seemed fitting to bake up some pumpkin bread with my own pumpkin.

Today I’m sharing with you a family recipe I made healthier by using whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour. I cut out a whole cup of unneeded sugar and replaced one of the remaining two cups with honey. With whole wheat flour, less sugar and all the health benefits of pumpkin, you can enjoy an entire slice of this bread instead of picking at it like a bird. Pumpkin is low in calories, yet it is a good source of fiber, vitamin A and iron. My pumpkin bread recipe is quite simple to put together. Here I’ve made one loaf with nuts and one without. You could freeze one loaf and pull it out one night to thaw and serve as breakfast the next morning.



  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Future ChefIn a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Whisk together. Break eggs into a separate small bowl so that you can fish out shells if needed. Make a well with your fist in the middle of the flour mixture. Add eggs, oil, water and pumpkin. Beat with hand mixer until smooth, about two minutes. Add sugar and honey. Beat another two minutes until smooth.

Spray two 9 x 5″ loaf pans with nonstick spray. Add half the batter to one pan. Add 1/2 cup of pecans to remaining batter and stir to combine. To save time chasing renegade nuts, place them in a Ziploc bag before you chop them up. You’ll spend a lot less time cleaning up afterward too! Pour nut batter into second loaf pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of pecans on top of nut batter. Bake both at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool briefly then run a knife around the around the outside of the pan. Remove bread and cook on rack.

Enjoy the smells and flavors of fall!

My kids love to help me bake and cook. I enjoy teaching them what I know. Cooking together provides an opportunity to encourage them to try new foods and helps them learn about making healthy choices. The girls even put to use some of the math lessons they are learning at school as they count measurements or talk about how many half cups make a whole. Little John practices his motor skills by stirring, scooping and tasting, of course. It’s also a good lesson in helping out and cleaning up. (We need all the help we can get around here teaching that.) But today baking bread was simply a chance to spend quality time, talking and laughing, with my not-so-little pumpkin.

My Pumpkin

Pumpkin Bread


Sicilian Salmon Recipe

Grandma's RecipesLast year my Aunt Gail made me a very special gift. She copied all of her mother’s and her sister’s hand written recipes and put them together for me and my sister in a cookbook. My Grandma Carter was known to be a great cook. My Grandpa was Italian so many of the recipes I received are dishes I’m guessing she learned to make from his family including cannolis, manicotti, meat balls, marinara sauce and much more. I am so grateful to have her family recipes to share with my own family.

Cancer took my Grandma’s life way too soon. All of my memories of her are from my childhood. I recall eating holiday meals with my sister and my cousin at the kids table in her home in suburban Chicago. I remember summer visits where we played in my grandparent’s yard, ate peaches and apples from the trees on their property and picked tomatoes from their garden. Often I think about how I see some of my Grandma in myself. I feel honored to possess some of her qualities. She was a hardworking woman who loved to cook and garden. She was also an accomplished fisher(wo)man. My nephew Ethan has a huge fish she caught hanging in his room. If there was work to be done, Grandma didn’t wait around for help. She was right there doing it herself. I wish I could have had her in my life much longer. I like to think I am keeping her memory alive by making her recipes for my own family and by sharing them with you.

Here’s my version of one of my favorites from her cookbook. I’ve tweaked it a bit to make it a little lighter. It is a low calorie, high protein meal and, of course, salmon is full of healthy omega-3 fats that may help reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke. My kids love salmon, (Elizabeth says it is her favorite food), so this meal has become a stand-by for us. It’s healthy and very quick to put together on a busy evening after school and activities.

Grandma Carter’s Sicilian Salmon

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 Salmon Filets, 5 oz. each (Wild if possible)
  • 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. Lemon Zest
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 tsp. Dried Italian Seasoning or 1 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt or Sea Salt
  • Pepper to taste

Turn on broiler on your oven. Spray casserole dish or rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray or brush with a little olive oil. Place salmon filets in casserole dish. Here’s a tip I’ve learned to save time. If you buy salmon in a big slab rather than individually portioned filets, a quick and easy way to cut the salmon is to use your kitchen shears. They go right through the skin every time. In a small bowl combine olive oil, lemon juice, zest, minced garlic, seasoning or herbs, salt and pepper. Stir well and pour over salmon filets. Place in oven on middle rack. Broil for 15 or 20 minutes. We like our salmon well done. I take it out of the oven when the top of the salmon looks brown and crispy.

I usually serve fish with brown rice and a salad or green vegetable. This week I happened to have picked up some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes from the farm market in town along with some handmade Ohio City fettucine. Normally I buy whole wheat pasta, but he only had black pepper, so we gave that a try. I was excited to eat them both and pasta seemed to go well with Sicilian Salmon, so it was a perfect side dish for this meal. Andy brought home some pretty asparagus from his market, so I decided to use that up too.

To prepare the pasta I just chopped two or three tomatoes and put them in a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil, a clove of minced garlic and a little salt and pepper. The fresh pasta only takes two minutes to cook. I tossed it with the fresh tomato sauce. I cut off the ends of the asparagus, then simmer it in a little bit of water and usually give it a little drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of feta.

Buon appetito!

Sicilian Salmon

Here are the nutrition facts for 1 serving of Sicilian Salmon (not including the asparagus and pasta) according to My Fitness Pal.

Calories (1 filet): 356

Fat: 21.8

Cholesterol: 90

Sodium: 368.5

Potassium: 20.1

Carbs: 1.9

Fiber: .1

Sugars: .3

Protein: 30.2