Saturday, March 24, 2012

Al Dente Pasta Recipe #1 {Whole Wheat Linguine with Chicken and Apple Sausage in Garlicky Tomato Sauce}


If you watched my vlog earlier this week, you know how excited I was about the samples of Al Dente Pasta I received. I love pasta, but unfortunately it doesn't have the greatest rep among the many other wholesome carbohydrates. (Buckwheat, quinoa, millet, barley, wheat berries: I'm looking at you!)

For me, pasta is a treat that I love to have on occasion (I'm talking about the original white processed goodness that is just so comforting). Most of the time, my family makes whole wheat pasta, and as good as it is, it just isn't the same... It's kind of "heavy"-tasting, if you ask me.

But it looks like Al Dente Pasta is about to change all that... Call it Al Dente Revolution? Methinks so!


I decided to begin my Al Dente culinary adventure with the Whole Wheat Plus Flax Linguine.

1+1/2 cup serving size?! 5g of fiber?! 8g of protein?! YUP!

Short for time because of school, and with a growling stomach, I grabbed the package of Applegate Farms Organic Chicken and Apple Sausage that I spotted in ShopRite last weekend.

A quick fix turned into a delicious, healthy meal...

{Whole Wheat Linguine with Chicken and Apple Sausage in Garlicky Tomato Sauce}

I began by sautéing 1/2 yellow onion in olive oil with a dash of salt. I then added 3 chopped cloves of garlic and sauteed a little more. Finally, I sliced up 4 sausage links, and also added about 2 tbsp ketchup + about 1/4 cup V8 juice.

[I've never had Applegate Farms sausage before, but was so happy to discover it. It's all natural and organic! The Chicken + Apple combo was a savory treat!]


Served over a bed of linguine...



20120323-131448.jpg took just one bite to realize that I will never go back to the plain-white-pasta-eating-days.

Now, I've had fresh pasta made from scratch before, so I know what the real stuff tastes like... (And by real I mean fresh pasta made at home by an Italian mom) So please believe me when I say, this pasta tastes so realso freshso wholesome, and SO GOOD.

[Do you see the little specks of whole wheat in the linguine? That's how you know it's real!]

Yes, I'm talking about whole wheat pasta - the stuff that I thought is supposed to taste un-pasta-like. And no, not an exaggeration. My taste buds now understand the meaning of high quality gourmet pasta, and (for better or for worse) they now have seriously high expectations... Good thing I still have more Al Dente pasta left for future culinary experiments! ;)

Wish it didn't take me this long to realize that pasta can be both wholesome and delicious, and that my pasta-lover-appetite didn't have to be suppressed all these years... But surely better later than never!

Al Dente Pasta - welcome to my life! :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Too excited right now - Al Dente Pasta! {Giveaway}

I am so excited right now because I just received a package from Al Dante Pasta with their three new products: (1) Bona Chia Fettuccini (2) Whole Wheat Linguine (3) Spinach Pappardelle

Watch this first, and then keep reading! :)

I first learned about Al Dente Pasta when I watched a recent news segment on Top 5 Food Trends. It's BonaChia pastas were selected from nearly 80,000 other new products to be featured (that surely has got to be such an honor and so exciting!)

Just a few minutes of browsing through their website, and I couldn't contain the excitement of the pasta lover in me... I reached out to the company and heard back from Monique - the co-founder of Al Dente Pasta (it was founded in 1981 by a husband-and-wife team! Love that!). Customer service of a family-run business surely can't get any better that that. Monique kindly offered to send me a few of their new products to try and to contribute to their growing number of recipes... and to sponsor a giveaway for ya'll!
High in fiber and protein, low in fat and sugar, and made from the highest quality of all natural (and local!!!) ingredients, these Al Dente Pastas have officially found a special place in my heart.
Al Dente Pasta only uses the very best ingredients—100 percent North American-Grown durum wheat, farm fresh eggs plus premium herbs and spices. While many conventional pasta makers extrude their pasta in order to speed production, Al Dente uses the time-honed tradition of rolling out its pasta dough. This process called “sheeting,” duplicates rolling pasta dough with a rolling pin which Monique’s mentor, famed Italian cook Marcella Hazan, believed was essential to creating the best pasta. Sheeting is a slow and precise process that allows Al Dente to achieve the sublime, velvety texture that has made it a favorite on dinner tables across North America.
Al Dente Pasta, now a classic in all 50 states and Canada, has never lost the character of a truly “specialty” product.  Al Dente’s  values are reflected in the honest packaging of each and every bag of pasta.  Taking no shortcuts, working closely with the growers and millers of our durum wheat, using the “real thing” when it comes to flavors, taking total responsibility for the manufacturing of our pasta (we are the manufacturers, not just the marketers of Al Dente Pasta.)  Al Dente is the specialty pasta maker who balances old world tradition and authenticity with a contemporary, friendly approach to bringing the best that America has to offer-an affordable luxury.
Al Dente hosts a wide variety of original, classic flavors, such as Spinach, Egg, Garlic Parsley, Basil, Squid, Wild Mushroom and Spicy Sesame.  Keeping up with the times, the Deschaines continuously expand their offerings with pastas like, Carba-Nada (reduced carbs, revered by diabetics and weight watchers alike), Al Dente’s Whole Wheat Pasta (known for pleasing people who don’t usually like whole grain pasta), a line of beautifully packaged “Organic Duets” (combining unique and exciting flavors that push the pasta envelope) and most recently introduced (and big in every way) are the Pappardelle pastas!
I can't wait to get creative in the kitchen and experience "the satisfying taste and texture of traditionally made pasta with a modern twist." Please stay tuned for my culinary creations. And in the mean time, why don't you enter this wonderful giveaway for a chance to win the same 3 bags of Al Dente pasta - Bona Chia Fettussini, Whole Wheat Linguine, and Spinach Pappardelle.

  • Visit the the main site and tell me which Al Dente Pasta you are most excited to try.
  • What is your favorite pasta dish? (Hint hint - I'm looking for some inspirations!)
  • Like Al Dente Pasta on Facebook
  • Follow Al Dente Pasta on Twitter
  • Like my page on Facebook
  • Follow me on Twitter
  • Subscribe to my blog (via WordPress or email)
You can complete one or all of them to be entered!
Deadline to enter: Sunday, April 1 at midnight EST.

This is so exciting! (I must have said that already 5 times...)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

#WIAW Happy Pi Day!

Hello my lovelies! Happy Pi Day! I hope your week is going well! Though I'm always busy with either school, work, or volunteering, the week never fails to fly by for me. That's why I always try to slow down the pace of my weekends, thought even they seem too short, too.

Today's WIAW was fantabulous, and filled with both old and new favorites. (Sadly, no pies were consumed...)

{Breakfast - 7:30am} Protein Oats with Fresh Strawberries. I made instant oats, stirred in 1/2 scoop of SunWarrior, added a pinch of salt (my trick to hiding the chalkiness of a protein powder!), and a dash of cinnamon. Topped with fresh strawberries and Nature's Path Pumpkin Flax Plus Granola. (The pumpkin seeds are my favorite! I always pick them out. Shhh, don't tell!)

{Morning Snack - 10am} A handful of pistachios! (not pictured)

{Lunch - 12:30pm} Cabbage Wraps with Sprouted Bean Trio and Shredded Carrots. A new creation! I am in love with TruRoots Sprouted Bean Trio, which we found at - believe it or not - Costco! (We practically live there, haha). This trio consists of the nutritious and delicious organic sprouted lentils, mung, and adzuki beans. A hardy combo indeed! I simply cooked the trio according to instructions on the package, seasoned with salt and olive oil. I also microwaved a few cabbage leaves and shredded carrots (I used a potato peeler to turn it into "pasta"!) to soften them up. I then scooped some of the beans and carrots into a cabbage leaf, rolled it all up, and num num num... Need not say more :) A simple, clean, nutritious vegetarian meal.

{Afternoon Snack - 3pm} - (not pictured) For a much needed energy kick, I had a cup of coffee and some CHO love - I went with plain CHO and drizzled some maple syrup and crushed pistachios. An old favorite!

{Dinner - 7pm} - (1) A bowl of salad (lettuce-less but filled with all sorts of raw veggies and greens instead!) topped with grated black radish. The cool thing (in addition to its phenomenal health benefits), is that only the skin of the radish is black, while the flesh is a juicy white! (2) Pasta with turkey and sauteed red peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes. (3) Pumpkin pancakes for dessert with a cup of tea!
Sounds like a pretty delicious WIAW to me!

And guess what?! Remember my recent review on Barney Butter? Thanks to all of you who've expressed similar excitement for this delicious healthy nutty creation, the kind folks from Barney Butter will give away a 16oz jar of Barney Butter to one lucky reader! Please head over to this post to read the review (if you haven't done so already) and to enter!

xoxo. Veronica

Monday, March 12, 2012

Breakfast Favorites

Hey hey there! How have you been??? The weather here has been unbelievably gorgeous! High 60s and 70s... Hope it's here to stay!

Last week I enjoyed a plethora (yea SAT word!) of delicious and nutritious breakfasts, so I thought I'd share with you! You already know how much I enjoyed the new protein muffin with Barney Butter, but I've come up with a few new additions to my breakfast menu...

I loved each one, and as you will soon see, each breakfast was unique in texture, flavor, and ingredients and required different preparation techniques. I surely kept things exciting in the kitchen at 7 in the morning...

So here are the Top 5 Breakfasts of the Week!
(1) Kiwi Vanilla Chia Pudding

Stir together: 2 tbsp chia + 1/2 cup milk + 1/2 tsp vanilla + sweetener of choice+ pinch of salt
Allow to stand for ~15 min. Then, stir again and add more milk to achieve desired thickness (it will thicken up quite a bit the longer it stands!). Mix in fruit of choice. The kiwi was fantastic!

Though I've been a chia lover for almost a year now, I can't believe I've never made chia pudding before! Shame on me! I love adding chia in my oatmeal because it makes it thicker and fluffier, but quite honestly, I was a little hesitant about making this gel-like chia pudding. Hesitant no more! For those unfamiliar with chia, the texture may take some time getting used to, but I guess my years-worth of oatmeal nearly every day has prepared me well and I loved it. It's very filling, too!

(2) Strawberry Banana Protein Smoothie

Blend together: 1/2 large banana + 4 large strawberries + 1 scoop protein powder (I used SunWarrior Vanilla) + 1/2 cup water
Confession: This smoothie was inspired entirely by my recent love for the 2% Strawberry Banana Chobani Greek Yogurt.

(3) Fried Egg atop Sweet Potato

It was one of those mornings... I woke up and all that was on my sleepy mind was the delicious runny yolk. I love it when I know what I want! But the night before, I steamed some sweet potato that I was planning to mash into my oatmeal... Change of plans. Instead, I made my egg sunny side up, sprinkled with a dash of salt and peppa, and enjoyed it atop of the scrumptious, sweet, smooth sweet potato. The flavors and textures worked beautifully together!

(4) Banana Millet Bread (Please see original recipe by See Michelle Cook)

The stars were perfectly aligned for this bread. First of all, since my recent obsession with Barney Butter, I wanted another healthy option in place of my protein muffins to enjoy spoonfuls of Barney Butter with... Secondly, there were two overly ripe bananas eagerly looking at me from the fruit basket... But I didn't want to make the good ole' banana bread, which I consider to be a dessert. I wanted something more versatile, something that I could enjoy with different toppings, both sweet and not. Michelle's recipe was exactly what I was looking for. The millet added the perfect crunch, the banana kept it moist and subtly sweet, and the whole wheat and no added sugar(!) kept it healthy. Win-win-and win. We've been enjoying this baked creation with Barney Butter, strawberry preserves, Smart Balance, and as is!

(5) Manchego Cheese Omelet with Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli and Cauliflower

Greens for breakfast, anyone? Yes, please! Unlike the mornings I had the chia pudding and the smoothie, this dish answered my salty ans savory morning call.

Omelet: (1) Whisk together 1 egg + 2 egg whites (2) Pour onto a heated and oiled skillet (3) Spread shredded cheese (4) and Cook until done!
Veggies: (1) Dice the veggies (2) Lightly oil or spray a frying pan (3) Roast the veggies until desired texture (I like mine crunchy, so it only took about 3min!)

I hope you enjoyed my morning creations! Even though these may require slightly more time in the kitchen then the good ole' bowl of instant oats or cereal, standing by the stove and sipping on coffee while waiting for breakfast to cook is a relaxing way to welcome the new day. And a healthy, filling breakfast will keep my spirits high for the rest of the day!
Tell me: What is your favorite breakfast or brunch?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Barney Butter... What are you doing to me?! {Review... And giveaway?}

A while ago the very kind folks at Barney Butter were quite generous to send me the most wonderful "care package" (I call it a care package because it came during exam week and immediately brightened up my life!). A 10oz jar of Crunchy Barney Butter and 2 squeeze packets of the Creamy Barney Butter!

Because I still hadn't finished my MaraNatha almond butter, I convinced myself to wait to try Barney Butter... Since my excitement was too high to stay away, I asked my grandma to hide it from me... Good thing she did because I finally had some today, and now I'm seriously worried... It's way too good to be true... And by "way" I mean it's dangerous for me to be near this jar... because it might not be around for much longer...

It's crunchy (which made me realize how much I love and miss chunky nut butters!). It's slightly sweet (a product of natural sweetness of almonds and the addition of evaporated cane juice). And of course, it has a hint of salty...

The texture is phenomenal... Apart from the chunks of almonds, the butter is soooo smooth. And there is something caramel-like about it, too! I want to say it's a whole lot like peanut butter disguised in the healthier version of almond butter! ...oh dear...

And apart from its deliciousness, what some of you may find to be especially notable is that Barney Butter is peanut-free and made in a peanut-free facility! So if you or someone you know is allergic to peanuts, not to worry! Barney Butter has come to the rescue! :)

So after begging my grandma to finally give it to me (I still haven't finished MaraNatha but didn't want to wait any longer), I finally enjoyed this spoonful of heaven atop my fave, one and only, protein muffin...

But not the good ole' banana vanilla protein muffin that started my protein muffin revolution...

Meet the Vanilla-Apple-Hemp seed Protein Muffin!

Dry Ingredients:
1 scoop of SunWarrior Vanilla Protein Powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp Nutiva hemp seeds(!!!)

Wet Ingredients:
2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water; mix and allow to stand for ~3 min)

Directions: Mix the wet into the dry, and stir until mixture forms batter. Microwave for 3 min in a microwave-safe dish and allow to stand for another few min. Remove from the dish and enjoy with any toppings of choice! I went for that Barney Butter right away. :)



A fantastic, filling, delicious, and healthy breakfast. I was thinking about it as I was falling asleep last night. I wanted something protein-packed because I went running and lifted last night and needed better recovery today.

So while I bragged about this incredible new almond butter discovery, I'm sorry if I made you jealous!

Just take a look at these nutrition facts, and if you weren't impressed before... something tells me you'll want to try Barney Butter now...


[Click on the image for more details!]

So... was I right or was I right? ;)

Tell me: would you like to try Barney Butter, too?

If yes, comment below and I'll see what I can do about a giveaway! :)

I hope your weekend is going well! Thanks for stopping by, as always.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

#WIAW New flavors & treats

Hello hello! Long time no blog! I hope you don't think I haven't been eating or exercising in the time I've take off! On the contrary, there have been plenty of culinary experiments in the past few days. That includes both successes and failures :)

For the past week, I've started what hopefully will soon become a habit. Following the advice of a dear blogger friend, Pre, I now start each day with simple sun salutations while I wait for the coffee to brew. These moves awaken my body and get me moving, breathing, and thinking for the day. At the same time, I have noticed I am more focused and calm throughout the rest of the day. Not a bad habit to start, eh? Thanks, Pre! :)

Today's WIAW eats & treats consisted of entirely new concoctions, and all entirely delicious and nutritious!

I am one of those people who goes to the kitchen first thing! I'm always hungry and ready to get creative. It's my favorite meal of the day. But today, I actually started by prepping my lunch because I had no leftovers to bring to class. I recently got a whole case of sweet potatoes from Costco, and was excited to make roasted sweet potatoes and carrots!

And so, I slices up one sweet potato and two carrots, tossed in olive oil, and roasted them at 350F for about 20 min, flipping them over half way through. Once they were in the oven, I did my sun salutations. :)


...And then it was time for breakfast!

{Breakfast - 6:30am} (1) Omelet (with garlic powder, salt, and pepper = so simple!) (2) Whole wheat flat bread with avocado and a dash of salt and peppa (= wow! ).



I have to admit - the avocado on toast is now a new favorite, and one I could have at any time of day. Why did it take me 23 years to realize this?!


While I love to "compartmentalize" my meals when putting everything on a plate, I usually end up combining everything when eating. The mashed avocado on the flatbread topped with the omelet was a magnificent "breakfast sandwich."

By the time I was done savoring every bite, my root veggies had finished roasting. Just look at these beauties!


P.S. As I'm sure most of you know, sweet potatoes and carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A (they are ranked at top #2 and #3!!!). However, being fat-soluble, you must consume it with something containing fatty acids in order for your body to effectively absorb and utilize it. So please don't fear adding healthy fats! In my case, the olive oil will do the trick! [I'm all for consuming healthy fats in the form of nuts, seeds, and oils! I don't believe in nor promote a low-fat diet.]

...Anyway... Got off-track here :)

{Morning Snack - 10am} - Strawberry Banana 2% CHO! OMG. I've never had this flavor before, and this was theee last one from the assortment pack that Chobani generously provided a few weeks ago. It reminded me of a strawberry banana smoothie. I expected to find chunks of banana, but instead if was more like mashed banana on the bottom, and I loved every spoonful. I actually didn't know Chobani made 2% Greek yogurt (I don't think my local supermarket has it), and I found the texture creamier. Oh Chobani, how I love thee.


{Lunch - 12pm} - Consumed with the besties, N & M! Nothing better than great company and great food!

I knew that the lovely roasted veggies would by no means be enough for lunch, so I created this - a product of three leftovers: cooked wheat berries, hard boiled egg white, white beans, and sauteed onion. Seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Not bad, actually! I also had a salad.



{Run - 5pm} It was 61 degrees when class finished, and though I was feeling tired, I wasn't going to let such a gorgeous day pass by! I drove home, put on my running gear, did a few stretches, and off I went for my fave 2.8-mile loop. In the middle, I stopped to stretch and did 50 lunges (25 on each leg). Tomorrow is supposed to be a high of 66 degrees, but unfortunately I'll be stuck indoors and/or driving from 7am to 10pm... Yup, that's my typical Thursday!

{Dinner - 7pm} Oh my goodness. This is what happens when I leave my grandma home alone... She watched Russian cooking shows and got creative... without me! [tear] Not only was there this gorgeous salad and side of quinoa, she also cooked pork chops in the juices of sauteed onion, garlic, apple, and prunes! Flavored with salt, pepper, and rosemary. The meat was incredibly tender, and the flavors were dancing on my palate. I went for seconds :)




I decided to have a small cup of decaf coffee with a few crackers for "dessert."

Ah, what a great day of great meals and moves!

Hope your week is going well!

Tell me: Have you tried any new recipes recently? Would love to hear about your inspirations and creations!

Friday, March 2, 2012

This Week's Protein Favorites & Chobani Giveaway Winner!


I recently rediscovered my love for egg white omelets... They bring back so many college memories. While I was there, my university had already begun to make great efforts toward conscientious and sustainable eating by offering farm-fresh & cage-free eggs, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and local organic produce. By the time senior year rolled around, there was an entire vegan salad bar resembling that of Whole Foods! Roasted beet salad with clementines... Merinated mushrooms... Roasted tofu... And even seitan!

In the mornings, I would often let the chef get creative with my omelets. Each time, I would find a different combination of veggies in my omelet and the absolutely best was when there was ooey gooey cheesy goodness. When I gave up meat and then dairy, the chef embraced the new challenge - he would add tofu or smokey tempeh (amazing!). On some mornings, I would bring my own container of Daiya or nutritional yeast, and he would recreate the cheesy goodness. Of course, this was truly special... and happened only because I was one of theee first students to come to the dining hall as soon as it opened at 7am (I was always an early bird, with early lectures, and looked forward to waking up early to start my productive day!)

I recently shifted my focus from cardio (mainly in the form of running) to strength-training (all done at home with resistance bands! I'm dreaming of a gym membership because I'm getting bored of working out at home), and have been trying to make some appropriate changes in my diet, too.

I have always loved eggs, and you know I'm especially obsessed with runny yolks! (Check out all of my Happyolks posts!). The yolk unfortunately has a bad rep because of its cholesterol content, but I surely hope ya'll don't think that it's bad for you! The egg as a whole is the perfect source of complete protein, folate, B vitamins, and lecithin (one of my fave bloggers, Sarah, just wrote a wonderful post on the incredible, edible egg yolk), and the cholesterol is actually good for for blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels! So, don't fear the happyolk! Embrace it :)

Because I always do, it's important that I don't over-do on my happyolks, and on some days I do choose to go with the egg white only. However, I don't believe in letting the beautiful egg yolk go to waste. Instead, I've invested in liquid egg whites!

Today's egg white omelet was filled with fresh veggies - my fave combo from the college days: broccoli, cauliflower, and red pepper.

A side of ketchup is a must.


My other recent protein-licious creation, as you may have noticed, is the protein muffin, inspired by the very awesome Chelsey. I've been making one nearly every day, and now that I've got the hang of it and know the recipe by heart, I decided to get creative with the flavors...

Today's protien muffin: {Chocolate - Almond Butter Swirl Lava Protein Muffin}... okay, that's too long...

Swirl? Because it has two layers - bottom is the regular vanilla, top is chocolate, but it came out swirled!

Lava? Because it has an almond butter center!

Yup, I'm proud of this one :)


Ingredients: (Serves 1)

  • 1 scoop Sunwarrior Vanilla protein powder

  • 1/8 tsp. salt (helps to balance the "chalkiness" of protein powders! works like magic!)

  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda

  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla

  • 1/4 cup fruit puree (i.e. banana, pumpkin, apple, pear, carrot - in fact, you can use baby food!)

  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp. ground flax + 3 tbsp. warm water, left to sit for ~3 minutes)

  • cooking spray

  • 1 tsp. cocoa powder

  • 1 tbsp nut butter


  1. First combine the dry (except the cocoa powder), and then add the wet ingredients.

  2. Stir until you have a "batter" - it will be sticky and thick!

  3. Spray the baking dish with cooking spray.

  4. Scoop 1/2 of the batter and spread to cover the bottom of the baking dish.

  5. Make an indent in the middle and scoop the spoonful of nut butter.

  6. Stir in the cocoa powder to the remaining 1/2 of the batter, and add to the baking dish to completelyy cover the nut butter.

  7. Microwave for 3min and allow to stand for a minute or so.

  8. Use a butter knife to loosen the muffin away from the edges.

  9. Enjoy! I love to top my protein muffin with more nut butter or fruit preserves, or to crumble it on top of Greek yogurt for even more protein!

Last but definitely not least, the Chobani Champions has also made it to the Top 3 Protein Favorites of the Week! Indeed, Chobani Champions is the first Greek yogurt for kids, but who says an adult can't enjoy this delicious and healthy goodness? I'm a total fan!


These are smaller than the "adult" Chobani - 3.5oz instead of 6oz, and contains 8g (16% DV) of protein, about 100 calories. Creamy, smooth, and sweet (but not too sweet), they are a perfect afternoon snack. I've only tried the Vanilla Chocolate Chunk and the Orange Vanilla flavors. You can actually see the chocolate and the orange zest. Yup - that's what I call real food with real ingredients! Looks like there are also 2 other flavors! Honey Nanna and Verry Berry. YUM!

...Speaking of Chobani... Thanks to everyone for entering the Chobani Giveaway! The lucky winner will be getting an assortment case of Chobani Greek Yogurt!




Congrats, girl! With just one comment entry, you're one lucky duck! Please check your email!

TGIF! Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

xoxo. Veronica

P.S. Please share your favorite sources of protein! Would love to hear from you!