Entrees (Vegetarian)

Zucchini Polenta Pie (Meatless Monday)

Surprise!  Another zucchini recipe. You’re not sick of zucchini yet, right? Good, because I’ve got more where this comes from.  But don’t worry, soon enough you’ll be getting some butternut squash recipes since that’s the next big harvest from our garden.  The good news is that if you don’t like zucchini (you’re crazy) you can use eggplant in this recipe or yellow squash.  In all reality, the plethora of tastes and flavor combinations in this dish really made it unique, and almost impossible to even taste the zucchini.  I might even add more the next time I make it, because, I love the stuff (even after having been chowing down on it for a month now).Zucchini Polenta Pie (Meatless Monday) 2

Zucchini Polenta Pie


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced **
  • 2 medium zucchinis, chopped
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes (I used to cups chopped Roma tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder **
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1-14 oz. can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil (or fresh)
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

** NOTE: If you are following a low FODMAPs diet, omit the onion and the garlic powder, and use garlic or Tuscan-infused olive oil to add those flavors back.  This recipe is Gluten Free.


  1.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat and saute onions for 5 minutes.
  2.  Add zucchini and saute, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until slightly softened.
  3.  Add crushed tomatoes, water, garlic powder, salt, and red peppers flakes to the onion and zucchini mixture and stir until mixed.  Then add in the olives and beans, and stir until thoroughly mixed.
  4.  Cover and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally (~10 minutes)
  5.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  6.  In a small saucepan, bring 3 1/2 cups of water to a coil then slowly whisk in cornmeal and salt, constantly stirring until polenta thickens (~10-12 minutes).
  7.  Lightly oil 2 1/2 quart baking dish with olive oil and pour in zucchini mixture.  Spoon polenta over mixture and spread evenly.
  8.  Top with mozzarella cheese and basil and bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until cheese has lightly browned.
  9.  Remove from oven and let cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

Estimated Nutrition Facts for 1/4th of dish

Nutrition Highlights:  Good source of vitamin A and calcium, an excellent source of fiber, iron and vitamin CZucchini Polenta Pie (Meatless Monday) 3

You know those moments when you just want to dive into something, even though you know it’s piping hot?!  I had one of those moments when I took this out of the oven.  I restrained myself, barely.Zucchini Polenta Pie (Meatless Monday) 4

After about ten minutes I cut myself a piece and went to town.  There were three ingredients in this pie that were homegrown; zucchini, tomato, and basil. Wonderful!  One of these days the cheese will be from our cows and the cornmeal will be from our corn.  No.  Not true.  We live in Ohio, but no farms around here.Zucchini Polenta Pie (Meatless Monday) 5

QUESTION:  Which food can’t you get enough of this summer?  Will you miss it when summer ends, or will you continue to buy it “out of season”?

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.  Nick and I started watching Breaking Bad last week and between hanging out with friends this weekend, walking in the Central Ohio Heart Walk, and doing a ton of yard work, managed to watch a few more episodes on Netflix.  I’m obsessed. We’re only just now finishing season one and I can’t believe we have four more seasons to go.  I have never “binge-watched” a show like this before (other than Fringe, and Seinfeld, I suppose) and it’s so addicting.  Do you have any favorite shows you’ve been into lately??

Thanks for reading!

The Candid Rd

Entrees (Vegetarian)

Homemade Veggie Pizza with Oat Flour Crust (Gluten-Free)

When I was young I could easily eat half a pizza, without thinking twice (seriously, it’s true).  That is, only if it wasn’t made by my mom.  Not to say her pizza was bad.  In fact, it was always delicious, but when you’re young you never want the homemade version of things, you want the store-bought or restaurant-made version (it was the same story with mac and cheese.  My mom tried enticing me with her mac and cheese all the time, but I wanted the Velveeta Shells and Cheese!). Now that I try to follow a gluten free and low FODMAPs diet, I basically have no choice but to make my own pizza (and Nick, well, he gets stuck eating it too).Homemade Veggie Pizza with Oat Flour Crust (Gluten-Free) 7

Thankfully for both of us I’ve finally perfected the crust, and as you learned last Friday, I’ve perfected the sauce as well.Homemade Veggie Pizza with Oat Flour Crust (Gluten-Free) 8

4.8 from 4 reviews

Homemade Veggie Pizza with Oat Flour Crust (Gluten-Free)


  • 3 cups oat flour
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 5 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 cup warm-hot water
  • 2 cups pizza sauce **
  • 8 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese (~1/4th inches thick) **
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh grated parmesan cheese **
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms
  • 2 red peppers, sliced and chopped
  • Fresh pepper and oregano (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Combine and mix the flour, salt, sugar, and the yeast in a medium sized bowl. Next, add the EVOO and water. (NOTE: The dough will be very sticky after all ingredients are mixed. Add more flour to prevent dough from sticking to your fingers, and be sure to knead the dough on a flat cool surface, with some flour down on the surface to coat).
  3. After kneading the dough for about 4 minutes, or until smooth and elastic, use your hands to spread the dough evenly on a pizza pan or baking sheet. Try to get the dough as spread out as possible, without ripping the dough (I used a large baking sheet and spread the dough to cover about 90% of the sheet).
  4. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then take out of the oven and add toppings (sauce, cheese, veggies, spices). Finish baking for about 30-35 minutes (depending on your oven and how crispy you like your pizza!). Take out the pizza and allow it to sit outside of the oven, on the hot pizza pan, for about 10 minutes before slicing.


** If you are following a low FODMAPS diet you will want to use the Rao’s Sensitive Formula Marinara Sauce, or make one of my two homemade sauces (find link under my low FODMAPs tab at the top of my blog). Or, if you have another brand in mind with no garlic or onion, use that. If you are lactose intolerant just go easy on the cheese, or use a lactose-free brand (keep in mind there is very little lactose in the small amount of cheese that is included on this pizza).Homemade Veggie Pizza with Oat Flour Crust (Gluten-Free) 9

Estimated Nutrition Facts for 1/12th of pizza

Nutrition Highlights:  Good source of fiber, iron and calcium, excellent source of vitamins A and C.Homemade Veggie Pizza with Oat Flour Crust (Gluten-Free) 10

I’ve found that fresh mozzarella really makes pizza that much better.  Not to say you must use fresh (and when I say fresh I mean house made at the supermarket where I shop) but I think it makes a difference in the end result.  It’s a difference I probably wouldn’t have appreciated as a young girl, but now I crave it.Homemade Veggie Pizza with Oat Flour Crust (Gluten-Free) 11

It took a few rounds of failed attempts before I finally perfected the art of making gluten free pizza.  This recipe was finally one that Nick and I both enjoyed, equally as well.Homemade Veggie Pizza with Oat Flour Crust (Gluten-Free) 12

I hope your family enjoys this as much as we did!

 QUESTION:  Was there a food that your mom or dad tried to make themselves, but which you refused to enjoy as much as the processed/packaged variety, when you were young??

Have a great Thursday everyone, and thanks for reading!

The Candid Rd

Entrees (Vegetarian)

Zucchini and Eggplant Pizzas (a low carb indulgence)

I can remember visiting my grandparents in Northern Ohio when I was young and the first thing I would do when I got to their house was raided the refrigerator.  I’d bypass the hugs and kisses and go straight for two things; maraschino cherries, and green olives.  Yes, it’s true.  I didn’t necessarily eat them together, but I did have a few of each after the “long” three-hour drive.  My grandparents were Italian, you see, so they always had those staples in their fridge (and they always knew to have fresh jars when I was coming to visit).  My love for olives didn’t stretch beyond the basic green and black olives until I was in high school.  I remember the first time I tried a Greek kalamata olive in a Greek salad at a restaurant, and then there was no stopping me.  My love for olives has expanded ever since.  Now you could give me any type of olive and I’d eat it.  Go ahead, try me.Zucchini and Eggplant Pizzas (a low carb indulgence) 14

So it’s probably no surprise that olives, of any type, are one of my favorite pizza toppings.  Even as a young girl I always requested olives on my pizza, but sadly my dad hates olives so I typically didn’t win that battle when it was family pizza night.Zucchini and Eggplant Pizzas (a low carb indulgence) 15

But now I make my own pizza and my own rules. Not only does that mean olives on my pizza, but it also means veggies as my “crust”.  Muahaha.Zucchini and Eggplant Pizzas (a low carb indulgence) 16

Zucchini (or Eggplant!) Pizzas



  • 2 medium zucchinis, cut in half lengthwise and hollowed out
  • ~3/4 cup pizza sauce **
  • 1/4 cup fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 6 kalamata olives, sliced
  • Pepper to taste


  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with olive oil and place the prepared zucchinis on the sheet.  Bake the zucchini for about 20 minutes, then dry with a paper towel (because zucchinis are such a high-liquid vegetable they sweat when they are cooked).
  2.  To add sauce, cheese, olives, and spices to the hollowed-out zucchini, then put back in the oven for 5 minutes.  Broil on high briefly for a crispy cheese, if desired.

**NOTE:  If you are following a low FODMAPS diet be sure to use one of these low FODMAPs sauces.Zucchini and Eggplant Pizzas (a low carb indulgence) 17

You could also do this with eggplant.  It’s yummy.Zucchini and Eggplant Pizzas (a low carb indulgence) 18

If you choose to use eggplant instead, cut your eggplant about 1/2-inch thick.  Then be cool like me and layer them.  This was more like a lasagna or eggplant parmesan than a pizza, yes, I get it.

Estimated Nutrition Facts for 1 serving (or 2 zucchini halves)

Nutrition Highlights:  Under 150 calories, a good source of fiber, iron, calcium, and vitamin A, an excellent source of vitamin CZucchini and Eggplant Pizzas (a low carb indulgence) 19

Who says you can only have one piece of pizza? I say have two, or three, or four.  At least, that is if you’re eating this zucchini pizza.  Chow down!

QUESTION:  Have you ever made pizza with a veggie “crust”?  Do you love olives as much as I do?

Thanks for reading!

The Candid Rd

Entrees (Vegetarian)

Homegrown (and huge) Zucchini Saute with Quinoa

I was nervous when Nick came in with these zucchini from our garden.  In the case of squash, bigger is not necessarily better.  I always find the smaller squash to be more sweet and less seedy.  He was so proud though, I mean, check it out….Homegrown (and huge) Zucchini Saute with Quinoa 21

To my surprise, these gigantic zucchini were neither bland nor seedy.  In fact, they tasted great.  These two glorious beauties made this quinoa salad I’m posting today, and about 50 delectable zucchini fritters, which I’ll be posting tomorrow.  Of course, even after those two recipes I still had some zucchini leftover, which we enjoyed simply sauteed in some EVOO and topped with fresh parmesan cheese.

Zucchini Saute with Quinoa
Gluten-Free, Vegetarian

Serves 5


1 medium zucchini

2 Tbsp. tuscan or garlic olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. minced fresh marjoram

2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds

1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves

2 tsp. minced fresh oregano leaves

1/4 cup minced parsley leaves

3/4 cup quinoa, uncooked


  1.  Cook the quinoa according to the directions on the package (Typically 1:2 ratio of quinoa to water, together in a saucepan, bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes).
  2.  Cut zucchini in half crosswise.  Cut in half again and cut into thin strips.  Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook zucchini and squash until it begins to brown around the edges.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir to blend well.
  3.  Combine the zucchini mixture with the cooked quinoa.  Serve warm.

**NOTE:  If you are following a low FODMAPS diet you will be happy to know that this is low FODMAPs!Homegrown (and huge) Zucchini Saute with Quinoa 22

Estimated Nutrition Facts for 1/5th of recipe
Source: Calorie

Nutrition Highlights:  Under 200 calories, good source of fiber, vitamin C and ironHomegrown (and huge) Zucchini Saute with Quinoa 23

I didn’t use this entire zucchini for the recipe, obviously, but I wanted to take these photos to give you an idea of just how massive these things were! Homegrown (and huge) Zucchini Saute with Quinoa 24

Nick and I had some family friends over for a bonfire the night we served this.  Yes, we had hot dogs on a stick, fruit, beer, toasted marshmallows, and this salad.  Random? Sure. But it was a huge hit (and the sunflower seeds really added a nice savory crunch to the salad. I wasn’t expecting it!).Homegrown (and huge) Zucchini Saute with Quinoa 25

So in terms of our garden the zucchini, herbs, and tomatoes have been a success (tomato recipes coming soon!) but the spaghetti squash, well, that’s another story.  Yeah, I don’t think this is a spaghetti squash.  Thoughts?Homegrown (and huge) Zucchini Saute with Quinoa 26

QUESTION:  Are you having success with your garden this year?

I hope everyone had a nice weekend.  I have today off but tomorrow (I think) I start my new job.  I’m nervous, excited, anxious, everything all wrapped up in one.  Most of all I can’t wait to get back to work again.  While it’s been nice having a couple weeks off, I’m getting slightly bored.  Crazy how that works.

Entrees (Vegetarian)

Fresh Summer Vegetable Cod Pockets (Mess-Free and Full of Flavor)

Look mom, no clean up!  Don’t you just love recipes that involve little clean-up?   Yes, there is cod under there.  I promise.  It’s hard to see under all those fresh vegetables, but do some digging and you’ll find it.Fresh Summer Vegetable Cod Pockets (Mess-Free and Full of Flavor) 28

Speaking of vegetables, do you like them?  The other day I did an experiment in my weight loss support group; we counted the number of taste buds we have to see if we are “tolerant tasters”, “tasters”, or “hypertasters”.  Imagine a bell curve, with “tasters” being in the middle (meaning a majority of us are tasters”) and “tolerant tasters” and “hypertasters” being at the opposite ends.  According to the book I’m reading, “Taste What You’re Missing”, “hypertasters” are like really ticklish kids, and their taste buds get excited very easily.  With that in mind, they often have very strong likes and dislikes, and many “hypertasters” really hate vegetables because they taste extra bitter.  Get the book, it’s fascinating (you’ll learn there is really much more to the story than taste buds).  By the way, I found out I was a “tolerant taster”, meaning I had very few taste buds.  It makes sense now why I love EXTRA bitter dark chocolate and hoppy IPA, I’m just not as sensitive to the bitterness so it takes more bitterness to excite me (keep in mind, having few taste buds doesn’t mean you don’t taste well.  In fact, the author of the book is a professional food taster/tester and she is also a “tolerant taster”).  So, I’m a tolerant taster, plus I grew up in a household that was filled with lots of veggies (and good beer, actually) so I have always loved them.  In fact, I often crave vegetables. Strange?

 Cod Pockets with Tons O’ Veggies!


  • 4 fresh, not frozen, cod fillets (~4 ounces each)
  • 4 loosely packed cups of fresh baby spinach
  • Choose from the following list of vegetables (in all you will want ~1/2-3/4 cup of vegetables, in addition to the spinach, per packet)
  • Sliced red, yellow or orange bell peppers
  • Sliced shitake or crimini mushrooms **
  • Thinly sliced zucchini or summer squash
  • Fresh corn kernels **
  • Thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • ~2 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil, divided among four fillets (or 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish and extra flavor (or use the fennel greens)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut four large pieces of foil (pieces should be at least about 12 inches x 12 inches long). Lay on a clean workspace. Have ready a rimmed cookie sheet.
  2. Lay down spinach on the bottom of each piece of foil. Drizzle each mound of spinach lightly with ~1/4 Tbsp. olive oil (or add ~1/4 Tbsp butter, solid) and sprinkle with ~1/8 tsp. salt. Lay a fillet on top of spinach.
  3. Add remainder of the vegetables, preferably finishing with the colorful vegetable such as red pepper slices. On top, drizzle with the remaining olive oil (or solid butter), salt, and pepper (NOTE: You can add more or less olive oil, salt and pepper if you desire, but I tried to keep this light and lower in sodium).
  4. Begin sealing the foil by folding or rolling the edges toward the center until you are left with a hole that is about 3 inches in diameter. Do this with all four foil packets. Bake all together for ~25 minutes, or until vegetables are done and fish is 145 degrees F.
  5. Before removing from the oven, have ready warm shallow bowls. Carefully open the packets, being cautious of the rising steam. Gently slide the contents of the foil into bowls, including all juices. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and fresh cilantro, parsley, or fennel greens (or all!)


** If you are following a low FODMAPS diet limit the amount of corn and mushrooms, or just use fennel, bell peppers, and zucchini. The mushrooms contain polyols, and the corn (especially yellow corn in amounts above ½ cup) contain polyols and oligosaccharides.

Estimated Nutrition Facts for one pocket
** I used mushroom, fennel, red pepper and zucchini **

Nutrition Highlights:  Excellent source of vitamins A and C.  Also, ~360 mg EPA/DHA. Not bad.Fresh Summer Vegetable Cod Pockets (Mess-Free and Full of Flavor) 29

I just made two fillets the first time I did this recipe, which is an option.

They smelled delicious when I opened the foil.  Quite honestly I could have simply had this with just red pepper and fennel.  If you’ve never tried fennel, you must.  For the longest time I thought fennel would taste like black licorice (because it smells like black licorice) so I never tried it (I hate black licorice).  I’m so glad I was forced to try it one day at work, because it’s really amazing, and very low in calories.Fresh Summer Vegetable Cod Pockets (Mess-Free and Full of Flavor) 30Fresh Summer Vegetable Cod Pockets (Mess-Free and Full of Flavor) 31

I actually ate this out of a bowl, but didn’t take a photo.  Have you ever been so excited to eat something that you forget to take one last photo of it?!   Come on, you’ve been there, done that. Admit it.

If you like the idea of Cod Pockets you might also like this Magic Foil Salmon from last year.

 QUESTION:  Have you ever counted your taste buds?  Try the experiment at home (and use those sticky reinforcements you can find in school supply aisles instead of punching your own hole in a piece of paper).  For more fun experiments, read Barb Stuckey’s book.

Entrees (Vegetarian)

Simple Zucchini with Lemon Basil Pesto (Meatless Monday)

Sometimes all I want for dinner is a big bowl of veggies.  Do you ever feel that way? If you’re like Nick, you might be making a face right now…..for him, he could eat a big bowl of veggies, but only if it comes with two large slices of buttery bread.  Anyway, I actually made this recipe last summer, but never got to post it.  When we planned what to plant in our garden this year I went back to last year’s recipes to see which ingredients I used most.  Basil and zucchini were my top two ingredients, therefore they are currently being planted in our garden (I’ll be posting about this year’s garden soon).  The pictures I took last year aren’t amazing, but the recipe was, so I knew I had to post it anyway. I will definitely be making this recipe all spring and summer long.  It was that good.

Simple Zucchini with Lemon Basil Pesto (Meatless Monday)


  • 2 tsp. Extra Virgin Oil (or use a garlic-infused oil if you’d like)
  • 3 zucchini, halved and cut into 1-inch thick pieces
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted unsalted pine nuts
  • ¼th tsp. sea salt
  • ¼th tsp. fresh ground pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Brush a large baking sheet with 1 tsp. oil and spread zucchini in a single layer on sheet.  transfer to oven and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until just tender and beginning to brown.
  2. Meanwhile, in a blender (or Magic Bullet!), combine the remaining 1 tsp. oil, lemon zest, and juice, basil, nuts, salt and pepper.  Blend, stopping to scrape down sides of blender if necessary, until smooth.  Transfer to a medium bowl, add zucchini and toss to coat.


** NOTE:  If you are following a low FODMAPs diet this recipe needs zero modifications!Simple Zucchini with Lemon Basil Pesto (Meatless Monday) 33

Estimated Nutrition Facts for 1/4th of recipe

Nutrition Highlights:  Under 100 calories (I think this 70 calorie estimated is slightly off, but either way I think the recipe is less than 100 calories per serving), low sodium, a good source of vitamin A and an excellent source of vitamin C.Simple Zucchini with Lemon Basil Pesto (Meatless Monday) 34

This pesto would be delicious with whole wheat pasta, on a whole wheat pizza crust, or really on top of any of your favorite vegetables (I’ve had it with steamed broccoli and carrots once. Yes, random, but so tasty).  It’s really just a great pesto recipe. Simple, and delicious. Want another idea?  Next week this pesto will be used on portobellos mushrooms.

QUESTION:  What’s your favorite way to use pesto??

So, this week has been rough.  Basically I’m having one of those “mindless eating” attacks every single day.  I find myself just leaning on food lately to heal; stress, loneliness, sadness, and anxiety (I’ve got a lot going on, and on top of that my laptop finally broke two days ago.  I am beyond sad about that).  I don’t want to start recording my calories again, because that’s just not fun and I don’t think it’s necessary, but instead I’m going to start journaling what I eat and how I feel when I do eat.  I’m going to try some of these mindful eating strategies.  I hope I can find a good journal at Barnes and Noble. This has just got to stop!   After all, bathing suit season is approaching, and I’m just feeling bloated.  Ugh.

Anyway…….  have a great week everyone.  And as always, thanks for reading!

The Candid Rd

Entrees (Vegetarian)

Zucchini Pasta with Red Sauce and Oat-Filled Turkey Meatballs

Do you ever see a really good deal on a cookbook and feel obligated to buy it?  I’m normally not an impulse shopper, but when it comes to certain things, like cookbooks, I am!  Our local grocery store has a giant cookbook sale every once in a while, and last year this book was on sale for two dollars.  Yes, two-dollars!!Zucchini Pasta with Red Sauce and Oat-Filled Turkey Meatballs 36

Strangely enough, I’ve yet to make any of the “skinny desserts” (there is a molten lava cake that I’m planning on making soon), but I have to say I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’ve even used the cookbook once. I mean, with Pinterest, wonderful blogs and recipe websites, who needs cookbooks anymore?!  Well, as it turns out, I do!  This was actually the second recipe I made from this cookbook, and coincidently the first one I made was also using ground turkey (turkey meatloaf with crimini mushrooms).  Today I want to share with you a lower carbohydrate, fat, and therefore lower calorie way to make “spaghetti and meatballs”.Zucchini Pasta with Red Sauce and Oat-Filled Turkey Meatballs 37
You’ll start with the “meatballs”……

 Turkey Meatballs with Oats


  • 1 pound lean ground turkey breast
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 egg white
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, oats, egg, oregano, thyme, basil, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Roll into 12 meatballs (about 2 heaping tablespoons each).  Spray a heavy ovenproof skillet (or baking sheet) with nonstick spray.  Place the meatballs in skillet and bake for 12 minutes or until done (should reach 165 degrees).


** If you are following a low FODMAPs diet, these meatballs are low FODMAPs. They are also gluten-free, especially if you choose a certified gluten-free oat.

Estimated nutrition facts for 1-serving (3 turkey balls)

And if you want to have a very low calorie and low carbohydrate “pasta”, make zucchini noodle pasta (or spaghetti squash is another option). Simply shred zucchini and boil it for about 5 minutes (I used 4 zucchini for 4 servings).Zucchini Pasta with Red Sauce and Oat-Filled Turkey Meatballs 38

Step one: shred the zucchini (1 small zucchini per person)Zucchini Pasta with Red Sauce and Oat-Filled Turkey Meatballs 39Step two: boil water, then add zucchini and allow to simmer for 5 minutesZucchini Pasta with Red Sauce and Oat-Filled Turkey Meatballs 40

Step three: strain and put into a bowlZucchini Pasta with Red Sauce and Oat-Filled Turkey Meatballs 41

Step five: add your favorite toppings

If you eat about 1 cup of the zucchini you will only be consuming about 20-30 calories.  Compare that to regular pasta, which is about 180-200 calories in a cup.  Yeah, now you get it!  And this is even husband approved. I reluctantly served this to Nick but was happy to see (and hear from his “Mmmmm”) that he enjoyed this dish just as much as I did.  In fact, here is what he said, “What is this?” and I said, “Zucchini!!  Cool huh?!” and he said, “yeah, it’s good!”.  SCORE! Now if only our future children can enjoy zucchini pasta….

 ** NOTE:  If you are following a low FODMAPs diet look for a tomato sauce that is free of onion and garlic.  Or make your own. Zucchini Pasta with Red Sauce and Oat-Filled Turkey Meatballs 42

The meatballs really tasted great, and with the tomato sauce and zucchini pasta, it was the perfect light and refreshing dinner.Zucchini Pasta with Red Sauce and Oat-Filled Turkey Meatballs 43

QUESTION: Have you ever made zucchini pasta?  What other vegetables have you used as “pasta”?

Thanks for reading!

The Candid Rd

Entrees (Vegetarian)

Cashew, Lentil and Brown Rice-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

We have a chef who often comes into the supermarket where I work and demos delicious vegetarian cuisine for the customers.  I sometimes get to be a part of the demos, but other times I just enjoy watching and learning (and eating of course).  Last month Chef Bryan (see below) came in to make a dish that I just had to try.  I knew it was far from FODMAPs-friendly, but I was hoping it could be a new recipe for me to share with my portobello-loving husband, Nick.Cashew, Lentil and Brown Rice-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms 45I only snapped two photos, since, well….it was a demo and I wasn’t a part of it (I didn’t want to be rude, seeing as though it was a demo and all).Cashew, Lentil and Brown Rice-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms 46Not the best photo, but trust me, they were tasty and blog-worthy!

At the end of the demo there happened to be one more mushroom leftover.  I asked Bryan what on Earth he was going to do with it.  He saw that twinkle in my eye and he knew I wanted to bring it home.  So he let me.  When I got home I zapped it in the microwave and gave it to Nick for dinner. I was slightly timid and nervous as I handed him the plate…..

“What is this?”, He asked

Oh it’s a delicious portobello mushroom with rice and beans and your favorite, cashews!!”; I said, with an emphasize on the two ingredients I was hoping would win him over; portobello and cashews.

“Oh, ok”, he replied, with a nervous look on his face.

After the first bite….Cashew, Lentil and Brown Rice-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms 47Take note: the dish was not so pretty after carrying it home and zapping it in the microwave, so….I could see why he was slightly uninterested.  Plus, Nick knows I like to feed him “unique” foods

“It’s TASTY!”, He said.

Oh, thank goodness.  I will have to make this again.

Cashew, Lentil and Brown Rice-Stuffed Portobellos

Serves 6

1 large yellow onion, chopped into small chunks**
1 cup cashews, cut in half **
1.5 Tbsp EVOO**
6 cloves garlic**
1 cup brown rice, cooked
~ 1.5 cups cooked lentils (or 1 can)
4 Tbsp. whole wheat bread crumbs
1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp. basil
1 Tbsp. thyme leaves
6 portobello mushroom caps, washed and stems removed **
1 large, fresh red tomato, sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (if needed)


  1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a large skillet saute the onion and the cashews with 1.5 Tbsp. EVOO until onions are soft and slightly brown.  You can add a dash of sea salt and pepper if you’d like.
  2.  Stir in garlic and allow to cook for a few more minutes
  3.  In a large bowl mix together onion mixture, brown rice, lentils, vegetable broth, bread crumbs, thyme and basil.  Stir well to combine, and season with salt and pepper if you’d like (this step can be done a couple days in advance if you are planning a party! Be sure to store it covered in a refrigerator.)
  4.  Brush both sides of each portobello cap and place top side down on a greased baking sheet.
  5.  Stuff the caps with the rice mixture and top each cap with a slice of the tomato.
  6.  Bake 25-30 minutes, or until the stuffing is browned and the caps begin releasing some juices.
  7.  Serve warm.

    **NOTE:  This is 
    not alow FODMAPs recipe.  However, if you are like me and you can handle a small amount of beans (with a Beano enzyme tablet of course) and one portobello mushroom cap, then I would modify this recipe by omitting the garlic and using garlic-infused EVOO instead (for the flavor!).  Also, cut the onion into large chunks so they can easily be avoided (although they still might cause problems if you are really sensitive).Oh yeah, and cashews aren’t low FODMAPs either.  Darn those oligosaccharides!

Estimated Nutrition Facts for 1 serving, without added salt

Nutrition Highlights:  Under 500 calories, low sodium (if you don’t add extra salt to taste), excellent source of fiber (beyond excellent!), and excellent source of protein and iron, good source of vitamin C.

Entrees (Vegetarian)

Inside-Out Vegetarian Lasagna (Meatless Monday)

Nick and I had my mom, dad, and his mom over for dinner one Saturday (a while ago) to watch the Ohio State Buckeyes beat Penn State (yeah, I had to say that).  We decided to make this delicious “Inside-Out Lasagna” because I wanted to practice making it before I demoed it at work (in front of about 20 people!).  Thankfully, it was pretty simple and it was a huge hit with our important guests of the evening.Inside-Out Vegetarian Lasagna (Meatless Monday) 49

Inside-Out Vegetarian Lasagna

Modified slightly from Eating Well

Serves 4


8 ounces whole-wheat penne **

1 Tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1 small onion, chopped **

2 cloves garlic, sliced **

8 ounces sliced white mushrooms ** (~3.5 cups)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian herbs **

8 cups baby spinach

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

3/4 cup light ricotta cheese **

Optional:  Add chopped, grilled tempeh for extra protein and texture

 ** NOTE:  If you are following a low FODMAPs diet, omit the garlic and onion (or significantly reduce the amounts, depending on your sensitivity) and use a tuscan or garlic extra virgin olive oil so you can still get their flavors.  You may also be lactose intolerant, which means you’ll need to omit the ricotta (or use a lactose free cottage cheese instead).  The diced tomatoes may also cause an issue, because they contain Italian herbs.  You could always use plain diced tomatoes and add your own herbs separately (basil, thyme, etc.) and skip the onion and garlic, which is typically found in Italian herb tomatoes.  Also if mushrooms cause you problems just be sure to eat around them (but there weren’t a lot in this recipe, so at least for me it didn’t cause issues).  And of course, last but not lease, look for a gluten-free pasta.


  1. Cook your pasta according to the directions on the package.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes.  Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms release their liquid, 4 to 6 minutes (NOTE:  you can drain some of the liquid out of the pan if you want a less watery sauce).
  3. Add tomatoes, spinach and crushed red pepper.  Increase heat to medium-high; cook, stirring once halfway through, until the spinach is wilted, about 4 minutes.
  4. Toss the sauce with the pasta and divide among 4 plates or bowls.  Dollop each bowl with 3 Tbsp. ricotta.Inside-Out Vegetarian Lasagna (Meatless Monday) 50

I just added 8 large handfuls of spinach, rather than measuring each cup.  Much easier!Inside-Out Vegetarian Lasagna (Meatless Monday) 51

Serve with a  piece of whole grain Tuscany Bread.  Delicioso!Inside-Out Vegetarian Lasagna (Meatless Monday) 52

Estimated Nutrition Facts for 1/4th of recipe

Nutrition Highlights: Check out that PROTEIN! Not bad for a vegetarian entree.  Also, an excellent source of Calcium, Vitamin C, Iron, Vitamin A (wowza!) and Fiber.

Another benefit of this recipe?  Both the men in my life really enjoyed it, despite no meat!  What more could I ask for?!

Entrees (Vegetarian)

How Do I Make Kale Taste GOOD in a Smoothie?! (FAQ Friday)

This past summer I learned a really great secret about kale and smoothies.  I was talking to my neighbor about how I try so hard to enjoy kale in smoothies, but I can’t.  Spinach blends so well and fits into smoothies like a charm, but I want to enjoy kale in smoothies too, because kale contains less oxalates (which can reduce calcium absorption) and it also may positively effect serum cholesterol levels (this is especially true for steamed kale).  I also want Nick to get some kale in his diet, but kale is impossible to hide in a smoothie because it has a slightly bitter taste that can make a good smoothie unpalatable.

So…what’s the secret?? FREEZE YOUR KALE! Yep, you read that right, freeze it.  Take a freezer bag and put a head of washed, dried, and chopped kale into the bag, and allow it to freeze for at least 10 hours.How Do I Make Kale Taste GOOD in a Smoothie?! (FAQ Friday) 54

After that you can add it to your smoothie just like normal.  I promise you it will be less bitter and slightly sweeter!  Now you can feed yourself and your loved ones kale (both young and old), and they won’t taste the bitterness in their sweet fruit smoothie. And what’s not to love about kale? Aside from its ability to bind bile acids and help you excrete them (along with cholesterol), it’s also been shown to have some anti-carcinogenic properties, reduce chronic-inflammation, and is an excellent source of vitamins K, C, and beta carotene.How Do I Make Kale Taste GOOD in a Smoothie?! (FAQ Friday) 55

Here is your “all fruit smoothie” Nick…..Muahaha

The smoothie in the picture above contains 1 large handful of frozen kale, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1 banana, and enough unsweetened vanilla almond milk to cover the ingredients.How Do I Make Kale Taste GOOD in a Smoothie?! (FAQ Friday) 56

And sometimes the smoothie just looks ugly.  In that case, put it in a pretty martini glass, it helps

Aside from frozen kale and fresh spinach, two other vegetables I love to add to smoothies are pumpkin puree and cooked sweet potato.  Both are delicious additions to smoothies and add great texture and natural sweetness.

QUESTION:  Do you ever add veggies to your smoothies?  Have you ever tried frozen kale in your smoothies?

Next week I’ll be posting a delicious citrus kale salad recipe.  So, I hope you love kale as much as I do! Until then, I’m off to work for the day then tomorrow Nick and I are off on a romantic trip up north.  Yep, we’ve got a heart-shaped jacuzzi in our room.  HA!  I’ll be sure to post pics on INSTAGRAM (The Candid RD)!