Tag: pinterest

Go From Nacho Cheese to “Nooch”o Cheese!

Despite the fact that I was a lifelong lover of dairy products like yogurt (ate it every day!), ice cream, string cheese, and Parmesan cheese, I cut out dairy products a couple of years ago.

It turns out that dairy products were triggering a number of health issues I had for most of my life – from allergies, congestion, sore throats, ear infections, indigestion and acid reflux to skin issues, gas and bloating. I used to get congested frequently, had chronic ear infections (which meant lots of antibiotics), and took Claritin and Zyrtec for seasonal allergies, along with reflux reducing meds like Prilosec (for 10 years!).

For me, cutting out dairy has been one of the keys to begin healing my body, not being sick so often (almost never!)…and getting off of those medications naturally. It’s been pretty amazing!

Check out my *NEW* Pinterest board – Deliciously Dairy Free – for additional articles on the topic as well as dozens of recipes for non-dairy alternatives to foods like cheese, cheesecake, ice cream, milkshakes, dips and dressings. I will be featuring many of them in upcoming blog posts, so stay tuned!

One of the questions people often ask me is, How do you live without cheese? I could never give up cheese.”  The short answer is there isn’t an “exact” match, BUT I’ve found some great options to use as replacements!

One of those foods is nutritional yeast (AKA “nooch”).

Nutritional yeast! I bought this kind at Wegmans, but you can also get it at Whole Foods, MOMs, or online

Nutritional yeast! I bought this kind at Wegmans, but you can also get it at Whole Foods, MOMs, Roots, or online at Amazon, Vitacost or other health food retailers.

A few years ago, I had never even heard of nutritional yeast and certainly wouldn’t have guessed it was something edible. This is kind of like the eggplant naming question…couldn’t they have picked a more appealing name??

Despite its odd name, this stuff has been a staple in our pantry for the past 3 years. You can find it online, or at Wegmans, MOMs, Whole Foods, Roots, or other natural food stores.

Here’s the 411 on why you might want to get yourself some “nooch”!

  • If you don’t eat dairy (or are trying to reduce it!), it’s a great substitute for cheese-based preparations. It has a “cheesy” smell and taste to it.
  • It’s a great source of protein and contains essential amino acids (protein building blocks!).
  • It’s loaded with vitamins, especially B vitamins, which are important in hundreds of your body’s processes, including staying energized and fighting stress.
  • It’s low in sodium.

If you can get past the weird name, it’s worth giving this stuff a shot. 

I will be posting my favorite “nooch” recipes in the coming weeks – check out the list below for a sneak peek of what I will be making and sharing!

This is what "nooch" looks like out of the container

This is what “nooch” looks like out of the container

  • Herby homemade popcorn
  • Salad dressings
  • Kale chips
  • “Cheezy” curly kale salad
  • Dairy-free “cheese” sauce for mac & cheese or nachos
  • Nutty rawmesan cheese (a substitute for my beloved Parm cheese!)

Want to learn more about nooch? Click here or here!

If you’re interested in going dairy-free and what it could look like for you, check out this 28-Day Dairy Free Challenge with Dr. Oz or this information on elimination diets from my favorite blog, Nourishing Meals!

Stay tuned for future recipe posts featuring this quirky but healthy ingredient!

Unexpected “Fries” Surprise! (+ A Kickin’ Tomato Dipping Sauce)

I like eggs. I love plants. 

But for some reason, I’ve never been much of a fan of eggplant…And really, couldn’t we have come up with a better name? It’s called “aubergine” in French. Doesn’t that make it sound more appealing? 🙂

I’ve eaten it a few times, mixed in with a ratatouille, fried as “chips” when I was in Spain, and probably thrown into a soup at some point (people are sneaky!). I don’t know if it’s the texture or what, but I’ve never been crazy about this odd-looking vegetable.


As I experiment with recipes each week, I like to incorporate foods I’ve never eaten before or try them using a new preparation. In my Hometown Harvest bag this week, I came across none other than…eggplant!

I’ve never actually bought or cooked eggplant before, but I’m up for the make-eggplant-taste-good challenge!

Whenever I need inspiration for recipes, I check out the dozen or so cookbooks I have, browse through my favorite blogs, or search on Pinterest. I found two yummy recipes and am sharing both with you today!

Baked Eggplant Fries & Kickin’ Tomato Dipping Sauce

**The KEY to making sure these don’t become limp, soggy eggplant mush is to put them on a paper towel on a baking sheet and sprinkle salt on them to pull out the water. Let them sit for about 25 minutes and pat them dry. The more moisture you pull out, the “crispier” the fries will be.**


The crispy baked fries are on the left and the easy paleo fries are on the right


Eggplant Fries – Version 1
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 cup almond flour/meal + 2 tablespoon arrowroot powder OR 1 ½ cups cornmeal (Both work – your choice!)
1 ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt, divided
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil, melted
2 free-range organic eggs

Almond meal/flour can be on the pricy side, but I usually find a good deal at Trader Joe’s, or you can click here for how to make your own! 

Spicy Tomato Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 14 oz can crushed red tomatoes
zest of half lemon
1 tablespoon oregano

Click here for the full recipes for the crispy fries and tomato sauce! Also, check out my step-by-step pictures below for how to make the fries!

Here is the recipe for the Easy Paleo Eggplant Fries – Version 2

I didn’t know what to expect because I have only really ever had mushy eggplant, but the “breaded” fries held up really well! There is a nice crunch when you bite into them, and the breading is delicious. The kickin’ tomato sauce is really tasty, and that is coming from someone who doesn’t like “spicy” food!

Cut the eggplant discs into matchsticks after you peel it

After you peel the eggplant, cut it into discs and then into matchsticks

Lay the sticks out on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt to pull out the moisture

Lay the sticks out on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt to pull out the moisture

Dip the sticks in the egg base and then coat with almond and herb mixture before laying on baking sheet

Dip the sticks in the egg base and then coat with the almond and herb mixture before laying them on the baking sheet

Prepare the kickin' tomato sauce dip while the fries are roasting!

Prepare the kickin’ tomato dipping sauce while the fries are roasting!

Rotate the fries halfway through cooking for even browning and then dip in tomato sauce - YUM!

Rotate the fries halfway through cooking for even browning and then dip in tomato sauce and enjoy – YUM!

It was my first time cooking eggplant, so I have a lot more I want to learn, but I would say this first attempt was a success 🙂

What did you think? Do you have any other eggplant recipes that you like to make? Feel free to share any of your favorites in the comments below!

This Is Community

Growing up, I preferred being alone more than being with other people.

It’s not because I didn’t like people; I was just super shy and introverted and felt safer and more comfortable in my own company than I did with others.

As I’ve mentioned before, studying abroad in Spain my junior year of college left an indelible mark on me, expanding my palate beyond what I ever thought possible. It also transformed my social tendency to prefer being alone.


The Hispanic culture is a very social one. I was surrounded by people all of the time and rarely had the opportunity to be by myself. When I returned from my semester abroad, instead of spending all of my weekday evenings hunkered down in the library reading, studying or writing, I began to value and enjoy staying up until 2:00 a.m. playing cards, baking, listening to music, and hanging out with my friends.

For the first time in my life, I wanted to be around people more than I wanted to be alone.

Graduating from college and leaving the academic world for the first time two years later was frightening for me. All of my identity was wrapped up in how well I performed as a student and whether I got good grades.

I had just started my first dating relationship, moved out of my parents’ house and into an apartment with someone I didn’t know, and was working two jobs. In the midst of all of those transitions, I felt alone, lonely, and sad. I lacked community.

My then-boyfriend (now husband!) and I went through some challenging times as individuals and as a couple as we sought to establish new connections and find community.

Over the past seven years, we have been blessed by the generous, loving, supportive community of family, friends, church members, and co-workers that surrounds us.

We have experienced the significance of what it means to be in community.

When a couple in our church has a baby or is going through a challenging time, and dozens of people sign up to bring them dinners for two months…

This is community.


When we sign up for a missions trip to Nicaragua as we are buying our first house and don’t know where the almost $3,000 we need for the trip will come from but end up being fully funded

This is community.

When a kitchen sink pipe starts leaking the day we move into our new house (which we had to get some loans to get in the first place), and our next door neighbor (who happens to be a plumber) offers us his industrial air blower to dry out the floor and replaces the pipe for half of what it would have cost elsewhere…

This is community.

When our bus gets stuck in the mud in an impoverished village in Nicaragua as we are on our way to a feeding center, and the villagers stop what they are doing to find rope to pull us out, dig their heels into the mud to push from behind, and bring whatever precious water they can find to help us clean ourselves up afterwards…

This is community.

When my husband has hand surgery and can’t drive his manual transmission car for a month, and four friends eagerly offer to lend us theirs…


This is community.

And days later, when a snowstorm comes through, and our next-door neighbors take it upon themselves to shovel out our walkway, sidewalk and driveway, as they tell us, “We know your husband can’t use his hand. We take care of you.”

This is community.

This is what happens when we are in community. We were meant to be in community.

So, what does this have to do with food?

As I’ve written before, we believe good health begins in the kitchen. It’s a place of connection, community, and comfort.

Unique communities around the world identified as “Blue Zones” are home to the world’s longest lived people, people living active, fulfilling lives well into their 90s and even 100s. Belonging to some kind of faith-based community, being in a social circle that supports healthy behaviors, and eating a plant-centric diet are three of the nine lessons learned from people who live to be 100+.

The next time you have an opportunity to spend time with friends, family or even a coworker, create community in the kitchen. Make a healthy, nourishing meal together. You don’t have to have a fancy kitchen or be an experienced chef to do this – maybe a pot, a pan and a knife, or some of these inexpensive kitchen staples.

Pick out the menu, go grocery shopping, prepare the meal, and savor the food together. It will be more enjoyable than doing it by yourself. Do that enough times and maybe cooking will become something you get to do instead of something you have to do.

Looking for some healthy recipe inspirations? Check out my Pinterest board or some of the links below for ideas!

  • Kath Eats Real Food: Real food. Nothing processed here. Delicious and simple ingredients and recipes…check them out!
  • Girl Makes Food: Discover how delicious and easy healthy food can be!
  • Clean Food: Terry Walters cooks seasonally and prepares delicious, nourishing recipes. I have her cookbook, Clean Food, and we have made nearly a dozen delicious recipes from it!
  • Healthy Girl’s Kitchen: After struggling with diet obsessions for years, Wendy has lost and kept off over 40 pounds through a plant-based diet. Check out her awesome recipes!
  • The Gracious Pantry: Clean eating recipes for everyday living.
  • oh she glows: In addition to being meat and dairy-free, many of Angela’s recipes are free of gluten, soy, and processed foods…did I mention they are also delicious?

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