Category Archives: Lunch

Garbanzos, Sundried Tomatoes, and Spinach with Coconut Milk

I had a hard time naming this post because I can’t think of a good title for this recipe.  In the original post on theKitchn website, it was called “Braised coconut spinach and chickpeas with lemon.”  That wasn’t quite right.  I wanted to go with, “A surprising mix of flavors in one dish that was far yummier than expected and doesn’t photograph so well” but thought it was a little much.


You’ll just have to try it and help me think of a better title!


In the interim since the last post on this blog (I know, I know, it’s been a month, but birthdays, the start of the school year and the holidays got in the way) I have discovered instagram, so now my terrible phone food photography has slightly improved.  The original recipe (above) has better pictures than I do, but don’t be deterred by how it is a little funny looking.


You’ll need a big pan or a dutch oven (I used Matt’s trusty Le Creuset)

2 tsp oil (or enough to cook the onions, etc. in)

1 yellow onion, diced

4 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 T fresh grated ginger (I’m not a huge ginger person…so I use less)

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (these are my fave, so I always use a little more)

1 large lemon, zested and juiced

Dash of red pepper flakes (optional, but some nice heat)

2 15-oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (the original recipe recommends 1, but I think it needs more substance)

1 pound baby spinach (I always use the amount that comes in one of those easy grab bags from the grocery store…it’s plenty for me)

1 15-oz can of coconut milk


1.5 cups quinoa (The original recipe recommends putting the finished ingredients over a roasted sweet potato, but that consistency didn’t jive with me, so I went to my staple of quinoa.  It also recommended using cilantro and toasted unsweetened coconut as garnish, but I haven’t tried that).


Cook the quinoa.  I like to add lemon juice to it when it is done.

Heat the oil in your pan/dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add the onion and cook until it is beginning to brown (5 minutes or a little longer).  Add the garlic, fresh ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest and red pepper.  Cook for 3-6 minutes to let all the flavors meld.  (I’ve found I need to add a little more oil at this point)

Add the garbanzos.  Stir frequently and cook until they are the consistency you like (I like mine starting to be golden which takes about 10-15 minutes, but the original recipe recommends about 3 minutes)

Add the spinach, one handful at a time, and stir it around until it wilts down before adding the next handful.

When all the spinach has been added and cooked down pour in the coconut milk, salt, and lemon juice.  Bring to a simmer and continue to cook and stir for about 10 minutes.  Taste and add more salt and lemon juice as necessary  (surprise…I always like more lemon juice.

To serve, put a helping of quinoa in your bowl, and top with the garbanzo/sundried tomato/lemony/coconut mix.  Enjoy!! (I promise, this is really good.  The coconut milk might seem out of place, but it is a fantastic dish).


Smoothie in a bowl

Leslie W

This recipe was inspired by the Acai Bowl at Healeo on Capitol Hill. I love the Acai Bowl and wanted to recreate a version to enjoy at home for a much lower cost. This is great for breakfast and lunch, or even dinner when the husband, boyfriend, roommate, etc. is away and you want to fix something quick (like I did tonight). This recipe can be adapted to fix any dietary needs and is extremely simple to throw together.


Serves 1-2

1 unfrozen banana

1 C frozen strawberries

1/2 C frozen blueberries

1/4 – 1/3 C almond milk

1/2 – 1 C granola, Kashi Go Lean Crunch, or Whole Foods version of the Kashi Go Lean cereals (pictured above)

1/2 C mixed berries (blackberries and strawberries pictured ab0ve)

Optional: big scoop of almond butter on top (makes it extra delicious!)


Mix banana, frozen berries, and almond milk in a blender until smooth; add almond milk until desired thickness. Top with granola or Kashi, berries, and almond butter and enjoy! Simple as that! And you could make any smoothie recipe you prefer. I like this one because it resembles the Acai Bowl the most, but I think any smoothie would be delicious underneath. You can mix it up as well as use a frozen banana and fresh berries if that is what you have on hand. And this can be adapted by using gluten-free cereal or other desired topping. Chai or Hemp seeds would be pretty tasty on top as well. Also, I only use about 1.5 C of the smoothie.

Have a good night!


Tahini Quinoa Salad

Hello! It’s Melissa.

Tonight, I’m posting one of my most favorite quinoa salads (I feel like I saw that a lot…).  It’s Matt’s favorite (and a frequent request) and I’ve brought it to a few events and always get recipe requests.  It is adapted from the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook.  (It’s a fantastic cookbook – gluten-free, dairy-free and filled with over 200 recipes.  I’ve made a number of recipes from it and always end up loving them.)

But back to the quinoa salad.


2 mini cucumbers (cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds with a spoon and then chopped up)

30 baby carrots (cut into discs…obviously the number doesn’t matter, but I thought I’d give an idea of how many I use)

1 pack of cherry tomatoes (chopped in half, salted)

2 cans of garbanzo beans (cooked in a pan with salt and garlic powder until a little crispy)

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1/4 red onion (finely diced – if you don’t know how to chop an onion properly (like me until recently, I suggest you check out this video from gluten-free girl)

1.5 cups of quinoa (1.5 cups dry…then cook)


1/2 cup of sesame tahini

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (This is about 2 lemons, I always like a little more…)

1/4 cup olive oil

3 Tbls water

2 cloves of garlic (crushed…diced…grated – in small bits)

zest of 2 lemons

Salt to taste


Chop all the veggies and put them in a bowl:

*This is the first time I used cucumbers in the salad – I didn’t de-seed them and it got kind of watery..I’m hoping de-seeding them would help with this problem…

Make the quinoa, cook the garbanzo beans and toast the pinenuts

Mix the dressing ingredients together – I use an electronic hand mixer, although you can use a whisk it – but that can be tough because the tahini is very thick, so it’s kind of challenging to mix with just a whisk.

Pour the dressing over the quinoa, pinenuts, garbanzos, and veggies and ENJOY!

Black Rice Salad with Mango and Peanuts


Leslie H

It seems every summer I find a new salad recipe and  continue to make it throughout the season for every event we are invited to share something. Well, I think this is the 2012 recipe for the summer. It is easy and can be adapted to most any taste buds (especially you cilantro haters out there). This was taken from Bon Appetit. The colors are beautiful and the salad is quite tasty and delicious. My husband said this salad belongs in a bistro showcase!


2 oranges

1/4 cup or more of fresh lime juice

2 T. vegetable oil

1 T. fish sauce ( I didn’t use it)

2 cups black rice (sometimes called forbidden rice)

2 just ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2″ dice

1 cup cilantro, chopped

1 cup red onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts ( I used cashews, toasted on the stove)

2 jalapenos, seeded and minced ( I only used 1)



1. Remove peel and white pith from oranges. Working over a bowl to catch the juices, cut between membranes to release orange segments into bowl.  Squeeze membranes over bowl to release any juices. Strain juices through a sieve into a smaller bowl and reserve segments.

2. Add lime juice, oil and fish sauce if using to bowl with orange juice; whisk to blend. Set aside.

3. Bring rice and 2 3/4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Season with salt and cover. Reduce heat to low, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered for 15 minutes. Spread out rice on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with dressing, and season with a bit more salt, taste and let cool.

4. Place mangoes and rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Add rice and toss gently to combine. Season with a bit more salt if needed and perhaps a touch more of lime juice.

Pesto Pasta Salad


Being from Spokane, I’m still not used to the fact that June is not summer in Seattle.  Yesterday, it was 80 degrees in Spokane (and it’s been hovering around there all week) and in Seattle it was 62 degrees and I actually thought it might never stop raining.

Even with the nasty weather, a pesto pasta salad can be just the thing to kick you into a summery mindset.

(I’m stepping on my soap box for a brief moment):  Pesto is SO easy to make at home and is SO much more delicious than store bought.  You could easily buy pesto to make this salad, but I am highly encouraging you to make it yourself.  There is literally nothing better than when you’ve finished the last pulse on the Cuisinart and you (safely) dip a spoon/finger/spatula in and taste that perfect blend of salty and herby and nutty – and you realize you made that fantastic combination of flavors yourself.

The first time Matt and I made this salad was when my mom mailed us a frozen tupperware full of pesto and we needed something (besides spoons) to eat it with.  Now, hands down, my mom makes the best pesto.  I don’t have her recipe (hint, hint?) so I made Gluten-Free Girl’s Pesto recipe (you can click here for her original post) which is awesome.  Beyond (well, and including) the pesto, this is another one of those easy to tailor to your taste recipes.  We put sundried tomatoes, pinenuts, garbanzo beans and peas in our pasta salad, but the possibilities are endless.

Pesto Pasta Salad


For the Pesto:

3 medium cloves of garlic, threaded on a skewer (I did GFG’s method this time, but in the past I’ve nixed the skewer and roasted the garlic for 40 minutes at 350)

1/4 cup pine nuts

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (we’ve found the optimal amount is about 1.5 big containers of basil leaves)

2 Tbl fresh parsley (I omitted, because I’m not such a fan…you can also sub spinach for some extra nutrients and no added flavor)

7 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil

Salt (lots…to taste)

1/4 cup parmesean (optional…add more salt if omitting)

For the salad:

1 package of GF pasta (I prefer the tinkyada brand – you absolutely cannot tell it’s gluten free)

1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped

1/3 cup pinenuts, toasted

3/4 cups peas (about 1/3 of the bag of frozen peas we had)

1 can garbanzos

For the pesto (copied straight from GFG, because she says it best):

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Lower the skewered garlic into the water. Boil for 45 seconds. Immediately run the garlic under cold water. Remove from the skewer. Peel and mince. (If you’re making pasta right after, save the water for it.)
2. Toast the nuts in a small, heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until just golden and fragrant. (Should be about five minutes.)
3. Place the basil and parsley in a heavy-duty, quart-size bag. Take out your meat tenderizer and pound those poor little herbs until they are bruised. (Ouch. That sounds bad.)
4. Place all the ingredients except the cheese in your food processor. Pulse. Pulse. Pulse. When the goop is smooth, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl, mix in the cheese, and add salt to taste. (I use sea salt, of course.)
5. Eat. And moan with pleasure.

Eat the pesto right away. If you want to keep it for a few days, cover the bowl with plastic wrap. If you want to keep it for longer, then pour the pesto into ice trays. Freeze, then transfer to a freezer bag. When you’re cooking, you can just pop in a cube of frozen pesto and watch the summer appear again.

Make the pasta, drain, put in a big bowl.  Add chopped sundried tomatoes and toasted pinenuts.  Add peas (defrost and drain first).  Add garbanzos that have been sauteed in olive oil, salt, and garlic powder (Matt doesn’t like garbanzos in the salad, so we put them on the side and I add it to my own servings).  Top it all off with the pesto as soon as possible (my reason being, if you don’t, you will eat all of it with a spoon before it makes it to your salad.  I’m 100% serious.  It’s that good).

When you cover the pasta salad, smoosh the plastic wrap against the surface of the pasta (instead of just over the top of the bowl) because it has a tendency to turn brown and this helps prevent that.


Garlic Potato Salad

Leslie H

While I know my kids have never been big potato salad fans, I found this one in my new cookbook Herbavoracious by Michael Natkin, changed it a smidge, and think it will be a delicious side dish for Father’s Day today. It is not your basic potato, hard boiled egg, mayo salad; it has really been updated with wonderful tangy flavors. Give it a try! It is gluten and dairy free and certainly can be made vegan by substituting the small amount of mayo for Vegannaise.


  • 5 pounds small, waxy potatoes
  • 8 stems green garlic – I couldn’t find these but used spring red onions (look like large red scallions)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves minced garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • big pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • fresh chives and the purple buds (right now they are in abundance in my yard!)
  1. Wash the potatoes and put them in a large pot full of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until they are fully tender but not falling apart (time greatly depends on size and variety). Drain, rinse, cool, and cut into bite sized pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, remove the fuzzy end of the red onion including the outermost leaves, just like you would with a scallion. Slice thinly. Heat a small saute pan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil and saute the green garlic/red onion for about 5 minutes, until it is tender.
  3. Scrape the green garlic/red onion and olive oil into a small bowl. Add the remaining olive oil, minced garlic, vinegar, mayonnaise, black pepper, salt, rosemary, cayenne and black pepper. Stir well. Dip a piece of potato in and taste. Does it have enough salt? Is the garlic flavor present enough? Could it use a bit more cayenne? When you are satisfied, toss the dressing with the potatoes. This is easiest to do with your hands.
  4. Just before serving, thinly slice the chives and buds and  mix it into the potatoes.

Roasted Tomato and Basil Quinoa Salad


Even though we are experiencing June-uary in Seattle right now, I decided to make one of my all-time favorite quinoa salads this week, which is perfect for a summer picnic.  The inspiration came from a pasta salad recipe my mom ripped out of a magazine (we think Bon Appetit), but on the whole, it is an original recipe.  It made about 5 days of lunches.

Roasted Tomato and Basil Quinoa

(my artistic, up close and personal picture…)



1.5 cups Quinoa

3 cups water



2 cans butterbeans

garlic powder


olive oil


1 pack cherry tomatoes



olive oil


1/4 cup pinenuts

about 1/4 cup basil (like 5 stalks…)

2 green onions



zest of 1 lemon

juice of 1.5 lemons

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

garlic powder


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Line a baking pan with a silpat (or foil…or something to make it non-stick).  Cut the cherry tomatoes “hot dog style” (the long way) into halves.  Line them up on the baking pan with the skin side down, insides facing up.  Drizzle with olive oil and then lightly sprinkle with sugar and salt (I think it’s about 1 tsp of each…but enough to cover all the tomatoes).  Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes, but check them frequently so that they don’t burn and get to the perfect level of toasty.

Make the quinoa.  (I think I’ve explained this elsewhere…make according the recipe on the box, just like you would make rice.  Make sure to rinse the quinoa in a mesh strainer first to get rid of extra hulls).

Heat a little oil in a sautee pan and when it’s hot, add 2 cans of butterbeans (rinse them out first!).  Sprinkle with salt and garlic powder to your taste.  I like to cook the beans until they start to get a little bit crispy, flipping them every so often. (I have a weird thing about raw beans…but you definitely don’t have to cook them).  I ADORE butterbeans…I think I could sit and eat a whole can cooked like this in one sitting.  They absorb flavor really well and don’t have a funky taste like some beans have…

Toast your pinenuts until fragrant and slightly brown on low heat in a small sauce pan.

Chiffonade the basil (aka…chop it up into small pieces).

Cut the green onions into little pieces.  (I’ll be honest…I added these for the color.  They were a tasty addition, but totally optional.)

Combine the cooked quinona, butterbeans, roasted tomatoes (delicately!), pinenuts, basil, and green onions in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the zest of 1 lemon, the juice of about 1.5 lemons, olive oil (about the same amount as the lemon juice), a few healthy pinches of salt, a couple grinds of pepper, and a dash or two of garlic powder. Whisk the ingredients together.  Add balsamic vinegar until it tastes just right. (Note…as mentioned before, I love my acidic flavors, so can be pretty lemony/balsamicy depending on your palate).

Pour over the quinoa mixture and enjoy!

Roasted Tomato and Basil Quinoa Salad

I always find this become more delicious after sitting overnight and the butterbeans have soaked up some of the dressing flavor and the basil has rubbed off on the other ingredients.  This would also be tasty with some Parmesan cheese, but it is totally unnecessary for those trying to be dairy free!


Tofu and Rice Salad (and a mediocre strawberry recipe…)

Hello! It’s Melissa.

This is the “recipe” for one of Matt’s favorite lunch foods I make – a tofu and rice salad. I say “recipe” because I made it up and I make it different every time; no specific quantities are required and it’s perfect for tailoring to your preferences. The ingredients I used make a decent sized salad – usually 5 or so meals, so adjust as needed.

Tofu and Rice Salad


1.5 Cups of Uncooked Rice

2 Packages of Extra Firm Tofu/Oil/Salt (or…just buy the pre-fried tofu at Uwajimaya’s that is super delicious and way easier, and cheaper…)

Baby Carrots

Frozen Peas

Sesame Oil

(Mushrooms, cabbage, and green onions are also good additions…)

For the Sauce:

Tamari (GF Soy Sauce)

Sesame Oil

Brown Rice Vinegar (Doesn’t have to be brown rice, that’s just the kind they sell at TJ’s)

Sweet Chili Sauce

Hot Chili Oil

Brown Sugar (usually I would use honey, but we were out, and this was still tasty)


1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

2) Rinse the blocks of tofu and wrap up in a towel to soak up the extra water (let sit about 10 min…)

3) While you’re waiting, start cooking the rice.

4) Chop the tofu into cubes, and arrange on a baking pan that has a silpat or was coated in nonstick spray.

5) Drizzle oil (I used olive, sesame would be tasty too..) over the tofu and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

6) Bake in the oven until the tofu is crisped to your preference (usually 20 minutes on each side…)

7) While the tofu and rice are cooking, chop the baby carrots into disks and defrost the peas by heating them in sesame oil in a pan.  (Sometimes I cook the carrots a bit with the peas and some Tamari to add a little flavor, not this time though…)

8) Combine the rice, tofu, carrots, peas (and whatever else you like) into a big bowl.

9) Make the dressing:  Unfortunately, I don’t have any exact measurements for the dressing, but I’ll tell you the process.  To make a delicious Asian sauce, you need a balance of salty, spicy, sweet and tangy.  I start with a base of Tamari (salty) which is the ingredient that I put the most of in the sauce.  Then I add a couple of glugs of Rice Vinegar (tangy) and a little Hot Chili Oil (because I don’t like too much spicy).  Then I add a little Sweet Chili Sauce (sweet).  I’ll add a little sesame oil to give the sauce some depth.  Then I taste – What does it need?  If it feels a little bland, maybe it needs a little more Chili Oil.  If it’s too heavy tasting, it needs a little more rice vinegar or some lime juice for zing.  This time, I needed a little more sweet, so I tossed in some brown sugar (a little bit of a random choice for sweet, normally I do honey, but we were out…).  Just continue adding ingredients little by little to the dressing and keep tasting until you like it – and then it’s perfect!

10) Dress the salad and taste!  Being the sauce lover I am, I usually drizzle a little Sweet Chili Sauce on each individual serving I eat.

11) I like my salad warm (but maybe that’s just me…), but it’s tasty cold too!

(I apologize for the not-that-appetizing photo…it’s not a very pretty salad, and I haven’t mastered the art of food photography yet…)

A couple weeks ago, Kaitlin and I found a recipe for Balsamic Candied Strawberries on pinterest (Here’s the link to the recipe:

We were intrigued, so we decided to try them.  They were….interesting.  They weren’t balsamicy enough for my taste, and they kind of challenging to eat (the strawberries disappeared and the candy coating became a big chewy blob).  Because the Strawberries were so sweet, within an hour, they had dissolved the candy coating, so they were just sugary, slightly tangy strawberries. Now, Kaitlin and I are no expert candy makers, so their lack of perfection could have been entirely our fault.  We had some extra candy coating, so we toasted some pecans and coated them in sauce.

However, we (Kaitlin) took some beautiful photos of the process.  So while I wouldn’t necessarily recommend making them, it’s still fun to share the pics:


Dipping the Strawberries

Balsamic Candied Strawberries (and Pecans)

Spring Rolls

Hello! It’s Melissa!

This is a fantastic recipe my mom originally shared with me and it’s the recipe that inspired me to start the blog because I thought it was so great and I wanted to share it with everyone.

It is originally from

Wintery Spring Rolls

It takes a few steps to make each of the components, but once you make them they are easy to assemble and delicious to eat.  These are my adjustments with how I made it, so it’s a little different than the website.

Ginger Onion Paste:

2 green onions, finely sliced
1 shallot
1 tablespoon grated, peeled ginger
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
6 tablespoons sunflower oil

Brown Sugar Tofu & noodles:

(I would do 2x the amount of tofu and 4x the amount of rub)

12 ounces extra firm tofu
3 medium cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
4 teaspoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons sunflower oil

Cellophane noodles, 1 bunch from a package

Spring Roll Wrappers

Dipping Sauce:

(This is my own addition to the recipe, but I thought a little extra sauce to dribble in was a nice isn’t an exact recipe, just the basic ingredients)

Equal parts honey and tamari, a couple glugs of brown rice vinegar, a little hot chili oil (based on your preference).

For spring roll assembly:

Ginger Onion Paste (above)
Brown Sugar Tofu noodles (above)
crisp, crunchy lettuce (baby gems / romaine)carrot ( I just used sliced up carrot pieces)
1 small bunch fresh cilantro or other herbs, well washed / dried (I didn’t use cilantro…)
~1 dozen rice paper wrappers

Make the ginger onion paste: Place the onions and ginger and rest of ingredients to cuisinart and pulse until blended, not completely smooth.

Make the tofu & noodles: Rinse the tofu and thoroughly dry it.  Cut the block along the width into three slabs (I found this size was the easiest to rub and cook).  Mix 2x the rub recipe (garlic, salt, sugar and oil) into a paste.  Use your hands to slather and genly coat each piece of tofu in the rub, being quite thorough.  Set the bowl aside, leaving it dirty.

Cook the tofu in a single layer in a large skillet over medium-high heat until deeply golden on each side. I’ve found I don’t need any addition oil here. Remove from the pan, and when cool enough to handle, slice into pencil-thick pieces, and salt to taste.

In the meantime, toss the noodles (that have been rehydrated) gently (but well), in the residual marinade left in the tofu bowl. I also added 2x more of the brown sugar rub into the noodles – beware though, you might want to do minimal amounts of garlic, because you’ll really taste it (and feel it on your breath hours later!) Transfer to a bowl or platter.

Assemble the spring rolls: In bowl of hot water, dip each rice paper wrapper for just 3 seconds, or until slightly soft. Resist over-soaking, even if the paper is a bit stiff it will continue to absorb water as you assemble the wrap. Place on a flat work surface.

(I’m going to try and describe how to assemble them…I apologize if this makes it more confusing.  Basically, it’s like rolling a burrito).  Put down a generous smear of ginger onion paste in a horizontal line. Then a lettuce leaf, tofu, noodles, and carrots in the same horizontal line.

It looks like this:


Fold over at the parenthesis and make sure they stick shut.  Then, pull the bottom over and tuck tightly and roll.

Add a little drizzle of sauce as you eat if you want!