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


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!

Blueberry Chocolate Chunk Whole Wheat and Rolled Oat Waffles

If you follow me on Instagram, you know by now that I recently purchased a waffle maker. I've wanted to buy one for months after trying some frozen healthy waffles and literally thinking to myself, "I could do so much better." Soon after that experience, I stumbled upon more relatively healthy waffles that were actually really good, delaying my waffle maker purchase.

But it finally happened last week, and let me tell you, IT WAS WORTH IT! Also, WHAT WAS I THINKING? Waiting this long to buy my own waffle maker seriously feels like a crime. This baby turns out delicious, perfect looking waffles. Plus, I can play around with whatever recipe I want (added bonus). 

Another fun thing that happened last week, I received my first Cocoa Couriers box (I'll link my review here). So when waffle Wednesday approached, I knew one of those babies was going into my waffle. It was pretty much a no brainer because the Blueberry chocolate bar by Brasstown was pretty much the most delicious thing I've tasted in my life. Also, blueberries, chocolate, and waffles - need I say more?

Here's What You'll Need:

-1/3 cup whole wheat flour
-1/3 cup rolled oats
-1 tsp baking powder
-Pinch sea salt
-Sprinkle of cinnamon (probably like 1/8 tsp)
-1 egg
-2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
-2 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
-1/2 Brasstown Blueberry chocolate bar, cut or broken into small chunks (you can use any dark chocolate bar of your choosing)
-1/2 cup blueberries
-2 tbsp maple syrup


1) Heat your waffle maker.
2) In the meantime, mix together all of the ingredients (minus the maple syrup) in a bowl. You can reserve some chocolate chunks and blueberries to top your waffles, or just throw it all in. It's all going to one place, your mouth.
3) Pour half of the mixture into the waffle maker and cook according to your waffle maker's instructions. Repeat this for the second waffle.
4) Serve each and top with 1 tbsp of maple syrup.
5) Enjoy!

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Shrimp Cobb Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Shrimp has been one of my favorite foods since I was a little kid. It has a nice flavor, provides protein, and is still light and low calorie.

I knew that I had shrimp at home and was really feeling a nice salad. I started going over the things I had in my fridge and literally couldn't think of anything. Then I thought about the bacon I randomly had leftover from a couple days ago (random because I never buy bacon). Shrimp wrapped bacon? That sounds delicious but not exactly what I was looking for.

I sifted through the limited other ingredients I had lying around, and each one fit perfectly into a summer-inspired lighter cobb salad. Instead of heavy bleu cheese or ranch, I could make a nice citrus vinaigrette and cut out the cheese.

Here's What You'll Need:

For the Salad:
-4 cups of baby spinach
-10 cherry tomatoes cut into thirds
-1/2 avocado, chopped
-1 ear of corn, kernels removed from cob (or 1 small can of corn, drained)
-2 slices of bacon
-2 hardboiled eggs, chopped
-6 oz shrimp
-1/4 tsp of paprika
-salt and pepper to taste

For the Dressing:
-The juice of one lemon
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 tbsp white wine vinegar
-1/2 clove garlic, minced
-1/8 tsp oregano
-salt and black pepper to taste


1) If you haven't already, cook your bacon slices in a pan or microwave until they are crispy, and chop them into small pieces.
2) If you haven't already, hard boil your eggs (you may also buy them already cooked). Chopped up the eggs.
3) Add the paprika, salt, and pepper to your shrimp and cook on a grill or in a pan on the stove. If you are using pre-cooked shrimp, I still suggest adding the seasoning and just heating up the shrimp a bit using either method.
4) You can either add all the ingredients into one large bowl or split ingredients in half and serve separately.
5) Mix together the dressing ingredients, add to the salad(s), and enjoy!

If you are hesitant about the dressing, please try it! It is seriously delicious in the salad. It balances so well with the egg, shrimp, and bacon and gives just that extra bit of added flavor to this meal. Let me know what you think, and feel free to subscribe below!

Spiralized Zucchini Summer Salad with Balsamic Chicken


If you haven't noticed yet, I'm a huge fan of grilling. I'd probably be just fine (if not really happy) grilling most of my meals. It's pretty simple. You can make a delicious marinade and just let your ingredients soak it up the fridge for a bit before throwing it on the grill, or you can just add some seasoning and throw it on.  Then you flip it over a couple of times, and, voila, a delicious, flavorful meal. Plus, in the meantime, you can prepare whatever else you need for your dish.

As August is creeping by (it's somehow almost half way over), I want to utilize that grill as much as possible. I decided to use another of my favorite tools, the spiralizer, to make a fresh, summer-inspired salad.

Here's what you'll need:

-3 chicken breasts (the nutrition info accounts for 5 oz chicken breasts)
-1 1/2 large or 2 medium sized zucchini, spiralized (I used the ribbon blade but any will do)
-1/2 avocado, cubed
-1 ear of corn
-1/2 large tomato, cubed
-1/8 red onion, chopped
-1 granny smith apple, cubed
-6 tbsp feta

For the marinade:
-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
-2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
-2 tbsp lemon juice
-1 clove of garlic, minced
-A dash of Himalayan sea salt
-A dash of black pepper

For the dressing:
-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
-1 tbsp olive oil
-3 tsp spicy brown mustard
-1/2 clove of garlic, minced
-Salt and pepper to taste


1) Mix all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl or plastic bag, add the chicken, and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes to an hour (the longer the better).
2) Heat up the grill.
3) Peel down the husk of the corn (without removing) and discard of the corn silk. Pull the husk back up to cover the corn, and toss it on the grill. The corn will cook for a total of 20-25 minutes (rotating every 5 minutes or so).
3) After about 5 minutes, add the chicken to the grill. The chicken will cook for about 7 minutes on each side.
4) In the meantime, chop up your ingredients if you haven't already done so, and make the dressing.
5) Remove the chicken and corn from the grill when they are done cooking.
6) Let the chicken sit for about 5 minutes, and then cut it into slices.
7) Cut the corn kernels off the cob.
8) You can either mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl or create individual bowls. I tend to do the latter. Add the raw zucchini noodles. Top them with apple, onion, tomato, avocado, corn, feta, and finally the chicken. Add on some dressing, and enjoy!

The mixture of the raw zucchini plus  the fresh tomatoes, apple, and onion mixed with the grilled chicken and corn is the perfect summer meal. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did, and let me know what you think below! Also feel free to sign up for (free) e-mail updates on new posts.

Tuna Zucchini-Pasta Salad

Coming into August, I've been hearing so many people say that summer is basically over. Summer just started a month a half ago!  We have another month and a half until we are heading into fall. I wanted to beat these "end of the summer" blues and keep summer alive with a nice, refreshing recipe.

This recipe was inspired by a pasta salad that I used to eat growing up. I decided to use raw, crisp zucchini noodles in the place of pasta and turn it into a delicious meal. You get some added freshness from the use of apples and celery mixed with a little protein and saltiness from the tuna. This would be a perfect lunch or dinner, or you can definitely serve it as a side at a summer picnic or BBQ.


Here's what you'll need:

-1 very large (or 2 medium sized zucchinis), spiralized using the ribbon noodle blade (if you don't have this option, a standard zucchini noodle will work just fine)
-2 cans of tuna (in water), drained and cut up
-1 granny smith apple, chopped
-4 stalks of celery, chopped
-3 tbsp mayonnaise
-1/4 tsp Himalayan sea salt
-1/2 tsp black pepper


1) Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl. Yes, it's just that simple.
2) Serve right away, topping with extra black pepper if desired, OR refrigerate until ready to serve.
3) Enjoy!

This recipe is super simple, and you may very well have some, if not all, ingredients lying around. I'm a big fan of black pepper, so if you are not, you may want to cut down the 1/2 tsp to 1/4. Let me know if you use this at your next cook out or you make it for a quick meal for yourself! I hope you enjoy, and leave any comments below! Also feel free to sign up for e-mail subscriptions.