Very Veggie Spaghetti



Few Americans get in the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables. Consuming five servings of produce day in and day out can be daunting, especially if you’re a toddler, or a first grader… or an adult. This recipe incorporates a variety of veggies into a tried and true favorite that even the kiddos will enjoy. Combine them with lycopene-rich crushed tomatoes and you’ve got a recipe for health (admittedly, that pun was very much intended).

Very Veggie Spaghetti



½ medium onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
½ bell pepper, diced
1 lb ground pork
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes, anywhere from a smidgen to a generous dash
1 tsp dried basil or 3/4 cup fresh basil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
¾ cup button mushrooms, sliced16 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil

balsamic vinegar, a healthy drizzle
1 cup kale, rinsed and packed (feel free to substitute fresh or frozen spinach as desired)whole wheat pasta


Salt and boil water for pasta. [Tip: Add in a bay leave to add flavor to the pasta.]

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and bell pepper to oil. Once onion starts to become translucent add ground pork, dried basil (wait until the end if you’re using fresh basil), salt and peppers to taste.

Once meat is mostly browned, add garlic an mushrooms into vegetable/pork mixture. Cook for 2 minutes. Add in canned tomatoes, kale and balsamic vinegar. Continue to cook until kale is wilted, but retains a vibrant green color.

Fun fact: Cooking tomatoes helps to release lycopene from its plant cells. Lycopene is a carotenoid (yup, that’s the same class of phytochemicals found in carrots) and may help to reduce prostate cancer. This is great news considering prostate cancer is the most common cause of death in men over 75. 

Beef Vegetable Soup



Beef Vegetable Soup

I was waiting until we had another cold front to post this recipe, but since this is Texas I realized I’d have to wait until Christmas. We enjoyed this soup so much that we gobbled it all up in one setting, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it would have been better the next day.

This beef vegetable soup makes good use of any root vegetables you have lying around. Red wine adds a nice depth of flavor to the savory broth. Caution: This beef broth will change your life. It is THAT good. My little ladybugs were feeling puny after a cold front blew in, but a little of this soup perked them right up. (And for those of you who’ve suffered through ailing toddlers, you know anything that can make them feel better is a game changer).

Beef Vegetable Soup



Serves 8

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes


2 tbsp. olive oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 lbs beef tips (Tip: You can cube a beef roast if you’re in a pinch like I did.)

4 cups chopped root vegetables (I used daikon, carrots, potatoes, and parsnips)

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (about 5 mushrooms)

6 cups beef broth

1 cup red wine (recommend merlot or cabernet sauvignon)

2 bay leaves

1 heaping tbsp. dried parsley (alternately use 2 cups fresh, chopped flat-leaf parsley added immediately before serving)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


(This recipe can alternately be prepared in a slow cooker. Place all ingredients in your slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6 hours.)

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add beef tips and cook until browned, but not fully cooked (about 7 minutes). Add garlic and cook an additional minute. Add remaining ingredients, cover, and cook to a boil. Reduce heat to achieve a simmer and cook an additional 30-35 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Serve hot with a white crusty bread.




Pork Stir-Fry



Stir-frying is an easy way to throw together a nutritious meal. You can substitute almost any fresh vegetable into this recipe. A stir-fry is a great way to use vegetables left in the crisper at the end of the week. Beef or chicken would also work perfectly well in lieu of pork. I took advantage of the beautiful bok choy and broccoli ready in our garden to make this, my favorite ever, pork stir-fry (that I have prepared).

This recipe is fast and well-balanced. You can serve this on an evening when you would normally order in Chinese food and rejoice in the fact that you’re eating less sodium and your food doesn’t contain unnecessary, harmful additives like MSG. It’s also ready in about the time it would take for your food to be delivered. It will be hot, fresh, and you know exactly what ingredients have gone into it.

I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I did!


Pork Stir-Fry

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: about 20 minutes


2 tbsp sesame seed oil

Pork loin, cut into 2″ strips

1 medium onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, cut into strips

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated

2 tbsp mirin

3 tbsp soy sauce

1/4 red pepper flakes, or to taste

1 head broccoli, cut into florets

1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 bok choy, sliced lengthwise


Drizzle oil in a wok or large saute pan and place over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and pork. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes, until meat is almost browned. Add garlic, ginger, mirin, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes and cook another 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining ingredients and cook for another 2-3 minutes, covered, until vegetables are fork tender but still retain their vibrant green color.

Serve over steamed white rice.




Roasted Root Vegetables

Photo Courtesy Rachel Durrent

Photo Courtesy Rachel Durrent

Isn’t this time of year just the best! I start skipping and humming a merry tune in mid-October and I don’t stop until the end of January. By December, most of my family members beg me to turn off the Christmas carols and stop forcing hot cocoa on them.

Everything about fall and winter makes me happy, but the food…! Oh, the food is my favorite! Of course, as nearly all health-wise folk and the majority of women, I try to pace myself when it comes to holiday goodies. Don’t get me wrong, I indulge in pie, and taters, and COOKIES, but I try to eat my veggies first. (How was that segway?).

So, with the holidays strongly on my mind, here’s a healthy side dish to your table o’ turkey. This recipe is a wonderful, seasonal addition to Thanksgiving dinner because the vegetables take up minimal oven space and can be roasted while the turkey cooks. The colors of these vegetables scream fall and phytochemicals (my favorite)!

Hey! That's me! Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent

Hey! That’s me! Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent

Roasted Root Vegetables

That Rachel, she's good! Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent

That Rachel, she’s good! Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent

Serves 6-8
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30-45 minutes


1 lb Root vegetables in season, such as beets, winter and summer squash, carrots, potatoes, peeled and chopped in 1” pieces
½ fennel bulb, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 450°F. Spread vegetables out evenly on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with herbs, salt and pepper. Cook for 30-45 minutes, until vegetables are golden brown and fork tender.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount per Serving
Calories 136
Total Fat 2.5g
Sat fat 0.5g
Trans fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Carbohydrate 26g
Sugar 5g
Fiber 7.5g
Protein 2.5g

Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent

Photo courtesy: Rachel Durrent

Easy Peasy Grilled Vegetables


The average cheeseburger is 750 calories and a large steak can have over 100 grams of fat. Then add potato salad and cole slaw for a whopping 700 calories (and that’s a small 1/2 cup serving of each) and you’ve got a full day’s worth of calories.

Try your favorite veggies on the grill for a tasty low-cal alternative. Everyone will be eyeing your plate this weekend!

Grilled Veggies

Easy Peasy Grilled Vegetables

A variety of your favorite vegetables (cut to maximize the surface area on the grill)
Olive oil

Chop vegetables into large pieces so that the largest surface is exposed to the grill. Coat each veggie with a thin layer of olive oil (recommend using classic olive oil instead of extra-virgin; don’t use too much, or your dripping produce could induce a flare-up of the most unappetizing variety). Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Fire up the grill. Cook on direct heat until vegetables reach a nice seer. (Cook times will vary depending on the density and size of the pieces). Repeat on opposite side. For thicker vegetables, like winter squash, corn, and sweet potatoes: remove to indirect heat and cook until fork tender. For small vegetables, like mushrooms, asparagus, and green beans: try using a handy-dandy grill basket (and throw in some shrimp if you’ve got it). 

Enjoy this guilt-free smorgasbord!