Mar 312015

I fully admit that I am accident prone and kind of clumsy.

I’ve never used the mandoline that came with the salad spinner Michael’s mom got me for Christmas one year. It just seemed like a bad idea. Especially for me. But last weekend I decided that I wanted to try my hand at pickling some radishes (because I love pickled things and I recently discovered that I quite enjoy radishes so why not?).

I asked Michael if he wanted to help me with the Mandoline or take me to the ER. Either way, he needed to be aware and on hand. :) He said “didn’t it come with a widget?” I had no idea so we poked around and found a widget. He experimented and low and behold it was for the mandoline! YAY! I feel excited that we discovered I CAN use the mandoline with the widget thingy and I don’t have to worry about slicing off my hand.



You stick the radish on the prongs and then slide it down the mandoline and your fingers are all intact afterward. Brilliant. I’ve often wondered why they didn’t come with like metal gloves or something because seriously, these babies are dangerous weapons!


Tada! Sliced radishes ready for pickling and no fingers were lost in the making of it. I sliced up the bunch and some cuts were less attractive than others but it got the job done and I’m really excited to use this thing for other veggies! Here is the recipe I used:

Spicy Quick Pickled Radishes

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 11 minutes



  • 1 bunch radishes
  • ¾ cup white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (this yields very spicy pickles, so use ½ teaspoon for medium spicy pickles or none at all)
  • ½ teaspoon whole mustard seeds (optional)
  • Optional add-ins: garlic cloves, black peppercorns, fennel seeds, coriander seeds


  1. To prepare the radishes: Slice off the tops and bottoms of the radishes, then use a sharp chef's knife or mandoline to slice the radishes into very thin rounds. Pack the rounds into a pint-sized canning jar. Top the rounds with red pepper flakes and mustard seeds.
  2. To prepare the brine: In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, honey or maple syrup and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, then pour the mixture over the radishes.
  3. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. You can serve the pickles immediately or cover and refrigerate for later consumption. The pickles will keep well in the refrigerator for several weeks, although they are in their most fresh and crisp state for about 5 days after pickling.
  4. MAKE IT VEGAN: Substitute maple syrup or agave nectar for the honey.
  5. CHANGE IT UP: To the best of my knowledge, you can pickle any thinly sliced vegetables in this manner. Try carrot ribbons, cucumbers, red onions, cabbage and/or fennel! The thinner you slice the vegetables, the faster they absorb the vinegar solution and taste like pickles.

It seemed simple enough and I had everything on hand, except honey, but it said you could use syrup instead.

I added the red pepper flakes and some of the peppercorns. I also sliced up about four cloves of garlic and added that to the radish mixture in the jar. I followed the instructions and boiled the water, vinegar, salt and syrup. I ran the jar under hot water then put the radishes, garlic, red pepper flakes and peppercorns inside, mixed it up a little and then poured the liquid in the jar. I mixed that up, sealed it and put it in the fridge. Unfortunately it takes a few days for the radishes to pickle and be ready to sample but I’m confident that they will be good!


I waited about 6 days and then gave them a try. They were perfectly pickled! And SPICY!!! Super spicy. I loved it! I had some with dinner, which didn’t really go together but who cares. Pork chops with brussels sprouts cooked with bacon and onions, and the pickled radishes on the side.

They were crisp and crunchy and like I said, very very spicy. I will probably eat this jar pretty quickly. :) I need to make some more!

Feb 242015


Lately I’ve been craving vegetables like crazy. I’ve always been a fan of veggies but for some reason I recently started craving them. I made a switch in my diet and started incorporating more veggies in my diet to satisfy that craving and I found that I was really enjoying roasted vegetables for lunch during the week.


I’ve been rotating what I roast. For awhile I was doing carrots, onions, broccoli and pre-chopped butternut squash from Trader Joe’s. Then I did carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli and onions. I don’t know why it took me so long to roast these babies. They are so good! I use a little bit of olive oil or the spray-on coconut oil from Trader Joe’s, then use salt, pepper and the Costco no-salt seasoning. That’s about it! And they come out delicious, perfectly cooked (although the sweet potatoes are often a little softer than the rest of the veggies).

This has been a base for my lunches at work lately. I love it! I tried it with some rice; for a few days I added some half a cooked spicy bratwurst (splitting one brat between two lunches); I also tried adding some cooked cubed chicken. All of those variations worked well and kept me fairly full for the rest of the afternoon.

One of the problems with the frozen meals (Lean Cuisines, etc) was that I would be hungry again in 1-2 hours after eating lunch. Then I’d start snacking on the candy at work. I was sabotaging myself by eating processed food that wasn’t filling, wasn’t enough calories and just made me hungry.

A tip that I learned a long time ago was to spend 1 hour doing food prep after grocery shopping. I am so glad I adopted this habit. I get home from the store and I take the time to chop the vegetables and on Sunday nights Michael and I cook up various meats (like pork sausage for breakfasts for the week, chicken breasts for lunches, etc). It makes it so much easier to make a good choice when looking to make something to eat quickly.


One night Michael and I went out for a date night dinner to Laughing Planet. It’s a great restaurant, especially if you have kids. They have tons of really healthy options, a rotating menu and they post the nutritional information for the meals. You also have the option to put your burrito in a bowl to make it low-carb.


I ended up ordering the daily special. It was called the “Winter’s Bounty Bowl.” It was pulled pork with Korean BBQ sauce, spinach, roasted Brussels sprouts on top of a butternut squash puree. Then it was topped with an apple, ginger and mango relish. It was SO good! And it was really filling. I am totally going to try and recreate this recipe at home soon!

Back to lunches…I’ve been trying to look for some recipes and ideas for other lunch options. I’ve collected a few. Here is one:

Carrot Coconut Curry Soup

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Calories per serving: 204



  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 4 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2½ cups vegetable broth
  • 14-ounce can coconut milk (full fat)
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Cilantro, lime wedges, and red pepper flakes (to garnish)


  1. Dice the onion. Peel and mince 1 tablespoon ginger. Peel and chop 4 cups carrots.
  2. In a medium stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 6 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the ginger, carrots, and 2½ cups vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer; cover and cook until carrots are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. When the carrots are soft, carefully blend with an immersion blender (or in a blender) until the carrots are smooth.
  5. Return the carrot mixture to the pot and add 1 can coconut milk and 2 tablespoons red curry paste. Stir until well blended. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add about ½ teaspoon kosher salt, then taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
  6. Serve with chopped cilantro, lime wedges, and red pepper flakes if desired.
  7. Notes: Slightly adapted from Easy Gourmet by Stephanie Le

I recently had the Thai carrot soup at Whole Foods from their soup/salad bar and it was OMG AMAZING. I immediately tried to find the recipe because I had to make it myself. I didn’t find one specifically from Whole Foods but I found a bunch of options and settled on this one to try first. It was super easy to make and didn’t have a ton of ingredients. The only thing I changed: I used the Light Coconut Milk instead of the full fat like the recipe said. It’s what I had on hand and honestly,  I didn’t want the extra calories from the full-fat version.


One thing I’ve learned making Asian dishes–never add extra salt. A lot of recipes call for a pinch or two of salt (sometimes more). But if you’re using jars of curry paste, or chili paste, or other Asian ingredients from a can/jar/package–IT ALREADY HAS SALT! And sometimes a lot of it. I learned that lesson the hard way and now I almost never add salt to recipes I make when using these ingredients. It’s just not necessary.

I cooked everything up and let it simmer for awhile and then used my immersion blender to get the soup creamy. I love that blender! It’s so easy to use and it works really well. Plus I don’t have to mess with pouring things into a blender and then spilling it all over the place. So much cleaner and easier. I blended up the carrot mixture until it was the consistency of baby food then I added the curry paste and coconut milk.


The one downside of the immersion blender–I did get splattered a few times when I used the fast speed. Ooops! After everything was all mixed in I let it simmer for 10 minutes and then tasted it. It needed a little something…I added a pinch of Splenda and then tasted it again. I added one more pinch of Splenda and then it was perfect. I hadn’t expected having to add sweetener because carrots are already so sweet but the soup was just a tad on the bitter side. The Splenda fixed that right up and the soup was perfect!


I got 5 GENEROUS servings out of this recipe instead of 4, which made the calories more like 165 calories instead of 200+. This could have easily been 6 servings for dinner–with maybe some crunchy French bread and a salad. The soup was creamy and the texture was perfect. It was also surprisingly spicy!



I loved the soup. It was SO CLOSE to the Whole Foods recipe. I’m not sure where it’s different. I need to have the WF version again. I’m sure they used fresh ginger (I used powdered) and they probably used the full fat coconut milk. Maybe those small changes made the difference? I’m not sure but I loved my version. It was tasty and filling, low in calories and spicy!  Yum! Yum! I also had a bunch of leftovers for work lunches. Perfect!

What are your favorite veggie recipes?