Try This— Vegetarian Lebanese Stew

I’d rather spend half an hour rearranging things in the dishwasher to fit in that last mug than spend the 20 seconds it would take to wash it by hand. Are you sure you want to turn me loose on meal planning? Ok. Let’s go! If my dishwasher ambition tells you anything, it’s that I crave efficiency. I like the idea of making a big meal on a Sunday evening and eating the leftovers throughout the week. Cook once, eat all week. I’ve found that when the weather is as cold as it’s been, there’s nothing more satisfying than a piping hot bowl of stew. Served over rice, mashed potatoes, with a side salad, or as a stand alone meal, vegetarian stews are probably the easiest weeknight meal you can make.

In the past, I’ve always just sliced up root vegetables and dumped them in a slow cooker with some pre-made soup (carrots, turnips, parsnips, onions, potatoes, and yams, with a butternut squash soup base is my favorite). Totally easy way to make a stew, but after a while it can get a little boring. I decided to play with some Middle Eastern flavors in the stew I made last night and I’m so glad I did! Oregano, mint, and cinnamon take this stew to new heights. It’s hearty, stick-to-your-ribs good, yet still seems fresh and lighter than most stews. You must try this!

Lebanese Vegetarian Stew


  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped. You pick the colors. I like green peppers in this stew
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced.
  • 3 baking potatoes, peeled and chopped.
  • 1 16 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 16 ounce can of white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 26.46 ounce box of Pomi Strained Tomatoes or a 28 ounce can of tomato puree
  • 13 ounces or a generous 1-1/2 cups of canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of white wine or a couple of splashes of dry vermouth (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
  • Drizzle of honey or about a teaspoon of sugar to balance the acid in the tomatoes.
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano. Rub it between your fingers to release the flavor.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried marjoram (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried mint
  • A couple of pinches of ground cinnamon
  • Olive oil for cooking and drizzling
  • Sea salt or kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste


  • In a large dutch oven or an oven safe pot with a lid, saute the onions and bell pepper on medium to medium high heat with some olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Once the pepper and onions are soft, add the potatoes, garlic, chickpeas, white beans, tomatoes, vegetable broth, wine/vermouth, sugar, dried herbs, spices, bay leaves and more salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a gentle boil. Immediately turn down the heat, simmer, covered for about 5-7 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • After 5 minutes of stove top simmering, place the pot in the oven and cook for an additional 30-40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  • When the stew is finished cooking, remove bay leaves.
  • Adjust the salt and pepper. Also add a pinch more of dried oregano, mint and cinnamon.
  • Serve with rice or a salad and a dollop of sour cream.
  • Enjoy!

This recipes makes a pretty big pot of stew. If you’re cooking for yourself, you can place the leftovers in mason jars and store for up to a week in the refrigerator, and up to 2 months in the freezer. Bonus: If you’re feeling like you want a pot pie (and really who doesn’t?), this stew makes the perfect filling. Just pour this into your pie pan and bake. Seriously, how easy is that?!

Pro tip: I prefer to use Pomi tomato products because they come in a box instead of a can, and somehow always retain a garden fresh flavor.

recipe adapted from Vintage Kitchen

Try This---One-Pot Creamy French Onion Pasta Bake

Try This—One-Pot Creamy French Onion Pasta Bake

It’s official… I’m super cold. This is probably my least favorite time of year. Cold weather weighs on me like a ton of bricks. The bright side is that I can prepare some hearty, hot meals for a little comfort. After spending a very cold and rainy Sunday in Brooklyn, I decided that I really needed some stick to your ribs soup. By the time I got to the grocery store, that craving totally evolved into an intense yearning for pasta. Whatever. I guess I shouldn’t shop when I’m hungry.

Anyway, I found this wonderful recipe that combines all the goodness of french onion soup with all the awesome of pasta. I mean, seriously, do I really need to explain? You must try this!

Try This---One-Pot Creamy French Onion Pasta Bake

One-Pot Creamy French Onion Pasta Bake


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 sweet onions (I like to use 2 smaller onions)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
  • salt + pepper, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth + 3/4 cups water
  • 1 pound of your favorite short cut pasta
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 6 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (optional)


  • Heat a large high-sided dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the butter
  • Add the onions + brown sugar and cook about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened
  • Slowly add the Worcestershire sauce and the wine, let them cook into the onions, add more and continue to cook
  • Repeat until the the wine is gone and the onions are caramelized to your liking
  • Preheat the broiler to high
  • Toss the mushroom and garlic in with the caramelized onions, season with salt + pepper
  • Cook another 3-4 minutes
  • Pour in the vegetable broth + water and bring to a boil
  • Add your pasta, bay leaves and thyme, cook, stirring often until most of the liquid has been soaked up by the pasta and the pasta is al dente
  • Stir in the cream and a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Stir in half the gruyere cheese and the gorgonzola cheese
  • Cook 2 minutes and then remove from the heat
  • Top with the remaining cheese and place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until the cheese is melted
  • Serve warm, top with fresh thyme and parsley if desired

Source: Half Baked Harvest

Caramelized Cauliflower and Mushroom Casserole

Try This—Caramelized Cauliflower and Mushroom Casserole

This is one of those recipes that you can enjoy for lunch or for dinner. I even ate it cold and paired it with a side salad. There’s no wrong way to enjoy this one!
Caramelized Cauliflower and Mushroom CasseroleCaramelized Cauliflower and Mushroom Casserole

Caramelized Cauliflower and Mushroom Casserole – Easy and healthy comfort food!

Serves 6

1 lb / 453 gr brown mushrooms (or white button), cleaned and chopped
1 medium cauliflower head, washed, trimmed, cored and cut into florets
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
ground pepper
2 large free-range organic eggs
⅓ cup / 1.5 oz / 42 grams dubliner (or sharp cheddar cheese), shredded
½ cup / 5 oz / 140 gr Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
⅓ cup / 0.6 oz / 16 gr Parmesan cheese, grated
handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped


Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C) and place a rack in the middle. Rub a medium-large baking dish with a bit of olive oil and set aside.
Spread cauliflower florets in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cauliflower is lightly caramelized, turning once.
In the meantime, in a large skillet over medium-high heat saute the mushrooms in ½ tablespoon of olive oil sprinkled with a couple of pinches of salt. Stir every minute or so until the mushrooms have released their liquid and have browned a bit. Add the onions and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes until translucent. Stir in the garlic, cook for another minute and remove from the heat.
When the cauliflower is ready, add to the skillet and stir until combined.
In a large bowl combine eggs, cheese and Greek yogurt. Add cauliflower mushroom mixture, stir until well combined and turn out into your prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and cover with foil.
Lower oven temperature to 350°F (175°C).
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes, until golden around the edges.
Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley before serving.

Source: The Iron You: Caramelized Cauliflower and Mushroom Casserole

My Un-Diet Plan

Diet and Weight Loss

I truly believe that food should never be a punishment. Since this year began I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my diet. Diet. I even cringe at the word. I always associate diet with some sort of punishment. All of these fads that demand strict calorie counting, over the top restrictions, and unrealistic expectations. The truth is there is no cookie cutter diet out there that will suit all of your needs anyway, so what’s the point in punishing yourself?

Food should be enjoyable. Not decadent, not greasy, not overpowered by butter and salt. Just enjoyable. Nature has done a pretty good job of coming up with some ridiculously delicious flavors. My challenge to myself and to you is to stop dieting. Stop turning meal time into a chore and a negative experience. The challenge is to once again enjoy a positive relationship with food.

There are several habits that need to be broken in order to free yourself from the prison of dieting. It’s tough, but I’ve started on this road and I’m beginning to see a positive change both physically and emotionally when it comes to my relationship with food.

1 Stop Counting Calories!

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Image Credit:

I’ve fallen so far into calorie counting in the past that I’ve eaten a donut instead of an avocado because of the caloric value. Calories can be really deceptive that way. If you’re eating whole foods you don’t have to worry so much about calories. Your body will use them as fuel. Instead of calorie counting, I’ve tried to shift my focus to healthy portions.

2 No More Fad Diets


Paleo, the Whole 30, the GM, and all the others just don’t work for me. A negative relationship with food is simply a negative relationship with food no matter which way you slice it. Choosing your meals should not be a chore and it should never, NEVER cause anxiety. Any successful diet should be easy and enjoyable.

3 Spice Up Your Life


Flavoring food is an art. My default is always salt and butter. That’s certainly not the healthiest choice and as it turn out, it’s not always the tastiest choice either. There are so many amazing spices out there that actually enhance the natural flavors of your foods and have their own unique nutritional benefits as well. Win/Win! Don’t be afraid to try out recipes that call for a pinch of a spice you never use. The deliciousness might shock you.

4 Look for Healthy Alternatives

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Image Credit:

Ok. So it’s called comfort food for a reason. Cravings are real, y’all. I love mac & cheese, and I could probably eat a pan of it in one sitting. Sometimes it’s like that. Whatever your comfort food cravings happen to be, there’s always a healthy alternative. I’m not saying that you should grab an apple when you really want pizza. What I am saying is that you can find healthier recipes for your favorite comfort foods that don’t hold back on the yummy.

This year is all about realistic goals! Do you think I’m on the right track? Also, I’d love to hear about your goals and how month 1 has been treating you!