Creamy Dairy-Free Veggie Mac and Cheese + How to Healthily Enjoy the Holidays

Hi Everyone!

While the holiday season can be a fun time filled with friends and family, there is also an abundance of food that is typically out of your normal routine. My family has some delicious foods we make every year to celebrate Christmas, such as Monkey Bread, Twice Baked Potatoes, Snowball Cookies, and the annual Christmas Eve Italian dinner we have at our family friends’ house. It is so much fun to share these dishes with the people we love, and while it is important to enjoy these foods, it is equally as important to have a diet that incorporates what makes you feel your best.

Around the holidays, there is a sense of guilt around enjoying traditional Christmas foods. Instead of just focusing on those around you and indulging in some of your family’s once-in-a-while treats, many people feel the need to impulsively overeat in one day, with the intention of being “good” the next day. Instead of listening to how they are feeling, they choose to ignore this internal cue, resulting in an overbearing feeling of sickness and unhappiness.

If people instead focused on enjoying themselves during the holiday season and eating both healthy foods combined with some of the festive treats, they would feel better about themselves and have a healthier attitude towards food. Worrying about food never helps your health, and certainly doesn’t contribute to a positive relationship with yourself or with food.

If you’re anything like me, then after the holidays you might tend to crave hearty recipes filled with veggies. I typically am a little more sensitive to dairy, meaning that I avoid having excess amounts of it, so after all of the cheese and cracker appetizers of the holidays, I love making recipes such as this dairy-free pasta to refuel.

This pasta uses cashews as the base of the cream sauce to create a rich flavor packed with protein. It also adds in some extra veggies for both taste and nutrition, which you can customize based on your own preferences. This dish is perfect to whip up as an easy dinner or to share with others!

So, enjoy the rest of the holiday season, and eat what makes you feel good!

Dairy-Free Veggie Mac and Cheese

Serves 2

Ingredients:

For the cream sauce:

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked overnight (for easier blending)
  • 1/2 cup water (or more depending on desired thickness)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • Salt to taste

For the pasta:

  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta, cooked
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes

Steps:

To start, add all ingredients for cream sauce to blender and blend until smooth and thick. In a medium skillet, mix pasta with veggies and cream sauce and heat until warm. Serve or keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Healthy Cauliflower Fried Rice

Hi Everyone,

As winter approaches, it is a great time to test new recipes and experiment with adding your favorite ingredients to create your own healthy, unique dish. Lately, I have been on a cauliflower kick, and have loved using cauliflower in place of traditional starches I would use in recipes such as pizza, pasta, and rice. Not only is cauliflower almost identical in taste, but it also packs an extra nutrient punch into all sorts of recipes. It’s versatility makes it easy to cook with, and you can easily switch things up by adding new sauces, veggies, and/or proteins.

The other day when we were off of school, I wanted to make some kind of stir fry, but realized we were out of the typical ingredients I would use. So, I decided to make a homemade fried rice with similar flavors, and ended up coming up with this recipe.

This cauliflower fried rice tastes just like traditional fried rice, and can easily be customized with your favorite add-ins. So, please enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Healthy Cauliflower Fried Rice

serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 package frozen cauliflower rice (unflavored)
  • 2 tbs. water
  • 2 tbs. grass fed butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbs. soy sauce (or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos)
  • 1/3 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 tbs. chopped onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbs. chopped green onion
  • salt, to taste

Steps:

In a medium skillet over medium high heat, add cauliflower rice and water. Once defrosted, add butter, soy sauce, and garlic powder. Add in chopped sugar snap peas, carrots, and onions, and crack both eggs into skillet. Continue to mix until evenly distributed throughout rice, and serve with green onion on top, Enjoy!

The Best Cauliflower Gnocchi

Hey Everyone!

Chances are, if you’re even slightly interested in the health food world, then you’ve heard about (or tried) the increasingly famous cauliflower gnocchi. This pasta-like phenomenon is definitely as good as the reviews say, and I have easily jumped onto this bandwagon.

One of the main reasons why this dish is so popular, in my opinion, it’s it’s versatility. You can cook up this gnocchi with some pesto, tomato, mozzarella, and drizzle of balsamic vinegar for a caprese version, mix it with some tomato sauce and basil for a true italian taste, or make it my favorite way, which I’m showing you here. After trying to find the absolute best version of this gnocchi that brings out all the best flavors, I found that this recipe I came up with was always ranked first.

While many might like this cauliflower gnocchi (I find it at Trader Joe’s) because it is gluten free and a lighter alternative to the traditional potato and ricotta gnocchi, I like the taste and simplicity it. This is the perfect side to whip up in a flash, or you can easily add in a variety of vegetables, chicken, or your favorite add-ins for a warm and filling meal.

They key to my recipe is actually not cooking the gnocchi like the package tells you! The first time I made this and was experimenting with a recipe, I cooked the gnocchi according to the directions and found myself with a soup-like, squishy consistency. If you try it this way, however, you’ll find yourself with gnocchi that has a golden crisp on the outside and a soft, doughy pasta inside.

So, let me know if you like this gnocchi as much as I do, and don’t forget to share with others! Happy November 🙂

The Best Cauliflower Gnocchi 

(serves 1-2)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 package Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi
  • 1 cup organic baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbs. water
  • 1 tbs. organic olive oil
  • 2 tbs. nutritional yeast (optional- dairy free cheese seasoning)
  • 2 tbs. fresh cheddar cheese
  • Sprinkle of Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Seasoning (optional)

Steps:

In a medium skillet pan, add gnocchi, water, and olive oil. On medium high heat, cook the gnocchi until defrosted and slightly golden, about 8 minutes. Add in nutritional yeast, spinach, and tomatoes, and cook on a medium low heat for another 5 minutes, until slightly crispy and spinach and tomatoes are cooked. Sprinkle in cheddar cheese and mix until melted. After plating, sprinkle with Everything but the Bagel seasoning, if you’d like. Enjoy!

Easy and Delicious Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Hi Everyone!

Happy February! Isn’t is crazy how far into winter it is already? One thing I’ve been doing this winter is experimenting with remaking my favorite recipes to incorporate more vegetables, because during the season where everyone gets sick that’s always a great idea. Cauliflower has become a big trend in the last year, because it is incredibly versatile and has little flavor to it. It is perfect as a substitute for rice, pizza crust, or thickening smoothies.

This cauliflower crust has been tested by my family and I can safely say that while it is a bit more crispy that normal pizza crust, it is absolutely delicious!

So, without further ado, please enjoy this great alternative to a normal pizza crust and let me know what you think!


Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 bags frozen cauliflower rice (preferably organic)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mozzarella
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • any other vegetables or toppings of your choice

Steps:

First, cook the cauliflower rice according to the package and let it cool. In a food processor, blend the rice until fine. Squeeze the rice in a towel to get all of the excess moisture out of it, and then mix the cauliflower with the eggs, half of the mozzarella, and the salt. On a pan lined with parchment paper, spread the dough out into 2 or 3 pizzas and top with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees, and top with sauce, the rest of the cheese, and any other toppings of your choice. Bake again for 5-10 minutes, or until golden and crispy, and enjoy!

Honey Thyme Roasted Carrots- a Healthy Side

Hi Everyone!

Happy 2017! I can’t believe 2016 is over; it has been such an incredible year for me and The Mini Foodie blog, so I cannot thank you enough! What is your best memory of 2016? Let’s just say going into 2016 I never would have thought I’d have the opportunity to meet my “real food idol,” see my blog grow from having fifteen followers on Instagram to now having close to 1500, and be on my way to teaching a class at Whole Foods. Wow! I am so incredibly grateful for such an amazing year.

What do you think 2017 will bring? At this time of year, I hear a lot about New Year’s Resolutions, mainly to eat healthier and/or exercise more. It is the start of the new year, which is amazing, but why do we only change our habits at this one point in the year? Why don’t we change our unhealthy habits in say, July? In my opinion, anytime is a great time to start eating less processed food!

On with today’s recipe, I’d like to share with you my Thyme Roasted Carrots recipe. This is a perfect side for any type of meal, and is even great in your lunchbox the next day over a salad. We had these delicious roasted carrots at Christmas dinner with our family- yum!

So, without further ado, please enjoy this recipe, and share with friends and family! Have a happy and healthy 2017, and thank you for making it a great 2016! 🙂

Honey Thyme Roasted Carrots 

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 12 large carrots, or 1 bag presliced carrot sticks (not baby carrots)
  • 3 tbs. olive oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbs. honey
  • 2 tbs. freshly chopped thyme

Steps:

To begin, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Then, wash and slice the carrots into sticks, or your desired shape. The carrots will shrink when you cook them, so be sure to make thick slices! In a large bowl, toss the carrots with all of the remaining ingredients, and stir to evenly coat. Next, transfer to a sheet pan and spread in an even layer, cooking for 20 minutes or until tender, but not mushy. Let cool, and enjoy! 🙂

 

Pecan Nectarine Salad (an easy summer dinner!)

Hi Everyone!

So today I asked my parents if I could make dinner (because I think it’s pretty fun to get to cook multiple things and serve them to everyone!), and they, of course, agreed! When I get the chance to be creative with any dish I want, it usually results in a new recipe- so that brings me to today’s recipe, Pecan Nectarine Salad! It’s a great choice for picky eaters and adventurous taste-testers alike with its complimentary flavors.

This salad is a new favorite- it is naturally sweet, tangy, and crunchy, and doesn’t involve a lot of cooking for when it’s hot outside. It’s pretty versatile, so you can switch up the ingredients by using peaches or goat cheese in place of the feta and nectarines if you’d like. Plus, you can use any dressing you choose- I used my Maple Balsamic Vinagrette for this recipe, but really any homemade dressing or good-quality dressing will do.

If you’d like to make this salad a little more substantial, try adding grilled chicken or fish- while seafood isn’t my taste, I’m sure it’d be great on this salad.  An additional option would be to pair this with a side such as the Carrot Fritters from 100 Days of Real Food.

Without further ado, please enjoy this Pecan Nectarine Salad and share! What’s your favorite summer dinner?:)


Pecan Nectarine Salad (serves 3) 

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You will need:

  • 2 cups organic leafy greens (I like spring mixed greens)
  • 1/4 cup organic crumbled feta
  • 1 nectarine, chopped
  • 1/4 cup halved pecans (can substitute any seed for nut allergies)
  • Optional local, organic grilled chicken slices

To prepare:

In a bowl, combine your washed greens and nectarines. Mix until combined, and top with the feta, pecans, chicken, and salad dressing of choice. Enjoy

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Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinagrette

Hi Everyone!

Today I’m sharing a delicious, healthy, and extremely simple dinner salad with you! Can you remember a really hot day, one where the last thing you wanted to do is cook? I love to cook, but adding even more heat into the mix on a 90 degree day isn’t always the best idea. So, I love to make refreshing salads on these days (the combinations are endless!) to share with my family and friends. In fact, this exact salad is inspired by my cousin, Ava!

While there are tons of great salad ingredients out there, fresh fruit and goat cheese are a very flavorful, unique choice! Sometimes, it is nice to break out of the typical garden salad rut, and using different cheese and fruits/vegetables you can do that.

What’s your favorite salad? Feel free to comment down below or tell me on Instagram! Without further ado, please enjoy this healthy summer salad, and stay cool! 🙂

Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinagrette (Serves about 2)

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Ingredients:

  • 21/2 cups leafy greens (arugula and spinach are amazing!)
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese, sliced or crumbled
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • Optional slice of red onion, diced
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. pure maple syrup

Steps:

First, prepare your dressing by whisking together the balsamic vinegar, oil, and maple syrup. Set aside, and wash the fruit and vegetables. Start with the leafy greens, adding in strawberries and red onion from there. Crumble about 1/4 cup of goat cheese into the salad, and mix with 1 tbs. dressing, adding more to taste. Enjoy!