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Spring Asparagus and Tomato Penne with Barilla ProteinPLUS

 This post is sponsored by Barilla; however, I am sharing my own thoughts. All opinions are my own.

This post is sponsored by Barilla; however, I am sharing my own thoughts. All opinions are my own.

Spring is finally upon us, and I couldn't be more excited! That means fresh, bright produce and lots of outdoor time, so I decided I needed a recipe that celebrates all of the above! And what screams spring time picnics more than a fresh, veggie-packed pasta salad dish?

I had recently stumbled upon Barilla ProteinPLUS pasta at my local Walmart. It's packed with 17 g of protein (per 3.5 oz portion) from all natural vegetarian ingredients including egg whites, grains, lentils, and chickpeas. It's also a great source of fiber and ALA Omega-3. It seemed like the perfect base for a quick, easy, and delicious meal any day of the week, so I ended up picking up the penne to give it a try. 

I thought it would pair perfectly with some bright spring veggies like asparagus and tomatoes to make a light and fresh pasta (or pasta salad) dish while still being a good source of lean protein. I added in some lemon juice, pine nuts, basil, and a few other ingredients to bring that extra flavor, and it all came together to make a great meal or side that'd be perfect for your next picnic!

Here's What You'll Need:

-One 14.5 oz box Barilla ProteinPLUS Penne
-1 bundle of asparagus (~20 spears)
-1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
-1/4 cup pine nuts
-5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
-Juice of 1/2 lemon
-1/4 cup shredded or shaved parmesan
-1 tbsp EVOO
-1/4 tsp sea salt
-1/4 tsp black pepper

Serves 4 as a meal or 7 as a side or appetizer

Instructions:

1) Cook the Barilla ProteinPLUS Penne according to the directions on the box.
2) Remove the bottoms from the asparagus, and bake them in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes (may also grill or steam until tender instead).
3) Cut the asparagus spears into thirds.
4) Toast the pine nuts on the stove top until they begin to turn golden (about 3- 5 minutes).
5) In a large bowl mix together all of the ingredients until well blended. I reserved some of the pine nuts, basil, and parmesan to top it all off, but feel free to mix it all in if desired.
6) Serve warm or refrigerate to serve as a pasta salad, and enjoy!

Barilla Gluten Free pasta was recently named one of Parent's Magazine's "Top 25 Allergy Free Foods" making it a great choice to swap in for the ProteinPLUS penne if allergies are a concern! You can also use this Ibotta link to get some cash back when purchasing your Barilla pasta. Make sure to check out these other delicious Barilla recipes and their Pinterest board for more inspiration! And let me know what you think in the comments below!

Vegan Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

I've recently become obsessed with making my own nut milks, specifically cashew milk, ever since coming across Ellie's Best nut milk bags. For some reason I was under the impression that it would be difficult, but it's SO quick and easy. I just soaked a cup of cashews in water for 2+ hours, strained and rinsed them, and tossed them in the blender with 3 cups filtered water and a pinch of sea salt on high for a minute or two. Filtered it through my nut milk bag, and BAM delicious, creamy, unsweetened cashew milk. You can use the code Stacy10 for 10% off your own Ellie's Best nut milk bag by the way!

So basically I've been going through cashew milk like crazy these days. It's so tasty, and the consistency is nice and creamy. So I thought it would be the perfect ingredient for some creamy, vegan mac and cheese. You guys know I'm veggie crazy, so I decided to add in cauliflower because it would just soak up the taste of the delicious sauce. And I decided to keep it gluten free and protein packed with some Ancient Harvest POW! Green Lentil Penne.

Here's What You'll Need:

-7 oz Ancient Harvest POW! Green Lentil Penne
-1/2 head cauliflower, cut into pieces
-1/2 cup unsweetened cashew milk
-1/4 cup nutritional yeast
-2 tsp Dijon mustard
-1 tsp lemon juice
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1/4 tsp sea salt + extra
-1/4 tsp black pepper + extra
-1/8 tsp turmeric
-1/8 tsp chili powder (optional)
-2 tbsp avocado oil

Serves 2

Instructions:

1) Toss your cauliflower in the avocado oil with some sea salt and black pepper, and roast it in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes until it starts to brown and soften.
2) In the meantime, cook your pasta according to the directions.
3) Strain your pasta, and use the warm, empty pot to mix together the cashew milk, nutritional yeast, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, turmeric and chili powder.
4) Once cooked, remove your cauliflower and cut into smaller pieces.
5) Mix the cauliflower and cooked pasta into the sauce, serve, and enjoy!

Not into cauliflower? Feel free to swap it out with the veggie of your choosing! I also topped mine with a bit of red pepper flakes for some extra heat. Let me know how you play around and what you think in the comments below!

Protein Chocolate Covered Strawberries

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Happy Friday, everyone! What better way to celebrate than with CHOCOLATE! Not just chocolate but healthy, protein-packed chocolate covered strawberries? Does it get much better than that?!

These babies have just a few, natural ingredients. I'm talking cacao, natural sweeteners, coconut oil, and the best vegan protein powder around! They make for the perfect guilt-free dessert or snack while still bringing the flavor, and they're super quick and easy to whip up. Grab a couple before or after the gym, as a post-dinner dessert, or even to top off your morning oats. They're great any time! 

Here's What You'll Need:

-8 oz fresh strawberries
-1/4 cup coconut oil, softened to room temperature or slightly melted
-1 1/3 tbsp (that's 1 tbsp + 1 tsp) Naked Nutrition Less Naked Chocolate Pea Protein Powder
-1 1/3 tbsp (that's 1 tbsp + 1 tsp) Cacao powder (I used this one)
-1 tsp pure maple syrup
-1/2 tsp vanilla
-Pinch of sea salt

Instructions:

1) In a bowl, mix together the coconut oil, Naked Nutrition protein powder, cacao powder, maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt until smooth.
2) Dip each strawberry into the chocolate mixture and place on a parchment lined plate. You may want to use a spoon or knife to spread the chocolate.
3) Put the plate of strawberries in the fridge for at least 30 minutes until the chocolate hardens.
4) Enjoy!

It's that simple, and you have yourself a delicious treat to last the weekend! Yes, they'll go that fast. Let me know what you think in the comment's below!

Cottage Cheese and Green Onion Biscuits - Vegetarian + GF

For some reason I've been craving all things comfort food recently, and this morning was no exception. Maybe it's the rainy, dreary weather we've bee having, but I woke up wanting a warm, buttery biscuit. I immediately thought of this cheesy biscuit-like bread with green onions that they serve at a local restaurant. So I figured why not try to make an easy, healthier version that I could enjoy at home.

I decided to swap out cheddar for cottage cheese and thought it would not only bring a great flavor but also a nice consistency. I decided to go gluten free since I have quinoa flour on hand, making them packed with protein between those two ingredients. 

Here's What You'll Need:

-2 cup quinoa flour (plus extra)
-2 tsp coconut sugar
-4 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp sea salt
-Two 5.3 oz containers of Good Culture Classic Cottage Cheese
-4 green onions, chopped
-1/2 cup unsweetened cashew milk (or regular or almond milk)

Makes about 10 biscuits

Instructions:

1) Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
2) Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl.
3) Add in the cottage cheese, milk, and green onion, and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms.
4) Spread some extra flour on a surface, and move the dough on it.
5) Sprinkle some extra flour on top, and knead the dough with your hands until thoroughly mixed.
6) Form the dough in a ball, and roll it out with a rolling pin to about 1 in thickness.
7) Using a biscuit cutter or floured glass about 2 inches in diameter, cut the dough into biscuit-shaped pieces.
8) Place the biscuits onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. 
9) Bake the biscuits in the oven for 15 minutes until golden brown on top.
10) Remove, serve, and enjoy!

I spread some ghee on mine, and it was absolutely perfect! Not into onions? Feel free to swap them out for another ingredient. Let me know how you play around and what you think in the comments below!

Cauliflower Nachos

Cauliflower has easily become one of my favorite veggies. It's delicious on its own or roasted, and it can literally be made into or the vehicle for basically anything - pizza crust, rice, buffalo "wings", you name it! It just has a naturally great flavor without being overwhelming. 

So earlier this week when I was craving nachos, I figured why not?! Sweet potato nachos are delicious, so why not swap out the chips (or sweet potatoes) for cauliflower this time. I just sliced the cauliflower into thin, chip-like pieces, seasoned them a bit, and they were the perfect base for some delicious nachos.

Here's What You'll Need:

-1 head of cauliflower, sliced into 1/4-1/2" strips (they will naturally break into "chips", and you can cut them into smaller pieces if desired)
-2 tbsp avocado oil
-1/4 tsp sea salt
-1/4 tsp black pepper
-1 tsp Just Spices Flavors of Mexico Seasoning (the code juststacy15 will get you 15% off)
-1/2 cup black beans
-1/2 large tomato, cubed
-1/4 cup red onion, chopped
-1/2 avocado, cubed
-1 jalapeno, chopped (optional)
-1/4 cup salsa
-1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend

Instructions:

1) Toss the cauliflower pieces with the avocado oil, sea salt, black pepper, and Flavors of Mexico spice blend, and spread the cauliflower evenly over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
2) Cook in a preheated oven at 450 degree for 15-20 minutes until tender.
3) Remove from the oven, and evenly spread all of the other ingredients over the cauliflower.
4) Return the cauliflower to the oven at the same heat for an additional 5 minutes until the cheese melts.
5) Remove, serve, and enjoy!

Easy peasy, right?! And it's oh so delicious! You won't be missing those chips, trust me! I'd love to hear what you think in the comments below.