Farmer’s Market Sandwich (Again)

I’m kind of obsessed with this sandwich.  I made it for dinner Tuesday night, and then had it again for lunch Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

It’s good, ya’ll.  Even if you’re not a big fan of squash, you might like it this way.  Besides, what else are you going to do with all the extra squash your neighbor keeps giving you?

I made a video how-to of this last year, which I’ll post at the end.  But if you prefer the drool-worthy picture step-by-step, here you go.

You’ll need: squash or zucchini, olive oil or balsamic vinaigrette, pesto, basil and real mozzarella (the kind that comes in a ball). 

1. Preheat oven to 350. 

2. Cut your squash (and/or zucchini) into rounds that about as thick as a quarter. 


(PS, that’s my cute sister in my kitchen!)

3. Lay the squash coins out flat on a cooking sheet.


4. Drizzle with olive oil or… even better the balsamic vinegar recipe I gave you in my previous post!  Sprinkle with Mrs. Dash’s, or Italian Seasoning or good ol’ salt n pepper.


5. Roast the coins in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes.  Check them half way through, and flip ‘em over.

6. Meanwhile, spread about 2 tsp of pesto on a slice of bread.

7. Lay two thin slices of mozzrella (abt 1 oz) on the bread.  Sprinkle a little pepper on, and microwave for 10 seconds just to get it a little melty.  This is about where you should be dying from the delicious aroma of pesto + melted cheese. 


8. Cover the mozz with basil.  I really don’t believe in too much basil, but use your own discretion. 


9. Once the squash is cooked, add it as the “meat” of your sandwich.


10. Devour.  Repeat for the next four days in a row.


Okay, if that wasn’t good enough for you, you can watch me make it here.  This is a lower-calorie version with a few swaps, but the steps are still the same. 

Summer Salad

I really thought I had nothing left in the fridge and that I was desperately overdue for the grocery store. BUT, I also had a really anxious doggy on my hand and I wasn’t really in the mood for all the structure that crating him requires right now. So I started digging in all the drawers of my fridge and came up with this really lovely meal:

Salad greens with an apple, piece of cheddar cheese (sandwich slices) and a few almonds sliced. Sprinkled with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and some fresh ground pepper. Accompanied by Fage 0% with 1 T honey and a few more almonds.

Fresh Summer Lunch

Fresh Summer Lunch

Sometimes desperate times force you to get creative! My fridge wasn’t half as Mother Hubbard as I thought!


When we were growing up, my mom would pull everything out the fridge every 2-3 weeks, pile it up on the counter and hand us a plate. We called it “Smorgasbord” and as a kid, I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. As the cook, now I get why my mom did that. There’s nothing more annoying than whipping up yet another meal when there’s at least 2-3 days worth of leftovers taking up real estate in your fridge. After hosting both sets of our parents, one sibling and two out of town friends over the course of one weekend, we had some serious leftovers hanging out in our fridge. So Sunday afternoon, I pulled everything out, piled it up on the counter and handed out the plates.

Anything You Want, We Got It.

Anything You Want, We Got It.


This is one of the most delicious meals I think I’ve had in awhile! Toasted whole wheat bread and snow peas with hummus, and a salad with lunchmeat turkey, strawberries and balsamic vinegar. Sometimes the most simple meals taste the most delicious!

Not bad for leftovers

Not bad for leftovers

That’s More Like It

Traveling again. This time to Tampa for the Nutrition, Physical Activity & Metabolism Conference. I learned from my airport food snafu last week and planned ahead a little better, packing snacks and lunch food galore. For lunch, I had a turkey sandwich on the Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins by Arnold’s (my new fave, which I picked up from my mom.) I also found this lovely little combo of veggie sticks with some ranch dressing. I estimated the dressing cup to be about 3 Tbsp of dip. The only thing I had to buy once past security was a big ol’ bottle of water. I was surprised to see the 1L bottle was comparable price-wise to the 20 oz, so I grabbed that – and then of course, had to go bolting from the plane when we landed in Tampa, my plan to stay well hydrated nearly backfiring. To arrive somewhere post-long day of travel not feeling sluggish and crappy was a nice change of pace.

Way Better Airport Food.  Cos It's My Food.

Way Better Airport Food. Cos It's My Food.

Old School Lunch

My lunch today reminded me of what my mom might have packed for me when I was in school. (I NEVER bought lunch – maybe on the rare chicken nugget days – so thank you mom for approximately 920 lunches made. WOW! I have her to thank for my healthy eating habits!) Sometimes the most basic meals are the most delicious! Lunch today was whole grain bread (120), 1 can of chunk light tuna in water (100), 2 t of mayo (60), grapes (60), carrots (30) and yogurt for dessert (80). (450 total).

School Days Lunch

School Days Lunch

They’re Good For Your Heart…

I often hear complaints that it’s too expensive to eat healthy. I was fortunate enough to have a “sink or swim” tutorial in the art of healthy eating on a budget: public health grad school. Public health grad school presented the perfect paradox. Grad school = no money. Must budget. Public health = junk food stigma. Eat poorly, be judged. I was forced to learn to eat healthy without going broke. Brace yourself, it’s not as exciting as having Rocco DiSpirito in your kitchen each day but it works.

Secret Numero Uno: The Bean. I have noticed down here in the South that beans often have to play second fiddle. Having BBQ? Don’t forget the beans. Would you like pintos or limas with that side of fried chicken? Beans, however, make a great starring role in a dish. They’re low in cals, they’re packed with fiber (meaning you stay full) and high in protein.

And oh yea – they’re SUPER cheap.

I forgot how much far 1 pound of dried beans goes, so I’ve been eating this soup for lunch for nearly two weeks. Next time, I think I’ll freeze half.  Enjoy, the first of my healthy/cheap eats: Black Bean Soup.

Black Bean Soup with Cheddar Cheese

Black Bean Soup with Cheddar Cheese

Makes 8 cups <> 1 cup = 210 cals, 10 g of fiber, 13 g of protein.  (The cheese adds a squeak more calories, of course!)

1 pound dried black beans

10 cups water

2 cloves garlic, crushed

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

1 ½ cups finely chopped green pepper

1 ½ cups finely chopped onion

1 ½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp dried whole oregano

1/8 tsp hot sauce

1 can (14 ½ oz) tomatoes with onion  (Del Monte)

Sort and wash beans, place in a large pot. Cover with water to a depth of 2 inches above beans and let soak for 8 hours or overnight.

Drain beans and return to pot. Add water, 2 cloves garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer 2 hours or until beans are tender.

Add green peppers, onion, cumin, oregano and hot sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer 45-60 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add tomatoes and simmer 15 minutes more.

Total cost at Harris Teeter: $7.24*

*(not including the spices.  If you don’t have these spices on hand, come to my house where I have them in mass quantities and never, ever seem to use them up.)

Walnuts, Wild Rice and Feta – Oh My!

I was working on a class I’m teaching on whole grains and I guess that inspired this salad.  It was made from leftovers but it was absolutely delicious.  It was 1 cup of cooked wild rice (cooked with chicken stock the night before), about 4 toasted walnuts chopped up and 1/2 oz of feta cheese.  The combination of the oil in the nuts, the salt in the feta and the starch of the rice was perfect.

Wild Rice with Feta & Walnuts

Wild Rice with Feta & Walnuts

293 calories for the rice salad, plus I had a salad with my own homemade dressing which is 63 calories per tablespoon.  I usually count 10 calories for a straight up veggie salad, so total count was 356 calories.  I didn’t end up finishing it all, it was so filling.