recipes

Butternut Squash Pasta

'Tis the season to celebrate all things squash! Spaghetti squash, butternut quash, acorn squash.. you name it. While spaghetti and acorn squash will have their moments on this blog, tonight we're talking strictly BUTTERNUT - and specifically butternut squash pasta. 

This dish combines naturally sweet and savory flavors - and I promise it's barely time consuming with my shortcuts (ie. you can use butternut squash puree if you don't have the time to dice and bake). While you can use whatever pasta you prefer, I recommend using chickpea pasta (ie. Banza) or red lentil pasta. Both of these are delicious high protein, high fiber pasta options. 

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Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 2 cups pasta, dry (chickpea pasta or red lentil pasta)
  • 1 can organic butternut squash puree (I used Trader Joe's brand)
  • 1/2 white onion, diced 
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded 
  • 2 teaspoons thyme, dried 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • Pepper, to taste 

Directions:

  1. On one stove top, begin to cook pasta according to directions on box.
  2. On another stove top, caramelize onions on medium heat until they begin to brown. While onions are cooking, put butternut squash puree and spices in blender. Once onions are cooked, add them to blender and blend on high for about 30 seconds or until ingredients appear uniform. 
  3. Once pasta is cooked, drain water and place pasta in bowl. While pasta is still hot, add Parmesan cheese and mix together. Allow cheese to melt into hot pasta. 
  4. Top pasta with blended butternut squash sauce. May top with additional thyme for aesthetic. 
  5. Enjoy! 

 

Cottage Mac n' Cheese

Mac n' cheese is one of my favorite childhood foods. And adulthood foods. I mean I don't really have to sell anyone on mac n' cheese - I think a universal consensus exists that buttery and cheesy warm noodles are delicious. BUT, knowing how unhealthy traditional mac n' cheese actually is, makes it fall on my forbidden foods list. I'm talking like, top 5.

The silver lining is that as a dietitian, one of my favorite pastimes is experimenting with food and creating innovative, healthy ways to enjoy the otherwise unhealthy foods many of us grew up with.

Here, I used chickpea pasta instead of traditional elbows made from refined white flour. Chickpea noodles are loaded with fiber and protein, while white noodles have little, if any. I also added muuna 2% plain cottage cheese for extra protein, flavor, and creaminess. This recipe calls for zero butter or artificial flavorings. In other words, this dish has lots of fiber and protein, and you can confidently prepare it without feeling an ounce of guilt! 

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Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 box elbow Chickpea pasta (I used Banza)
  • ½ cup 2% plain Muuna cottage cheese
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (note: set aside ~¼ cup to sprinkle on top before baking)
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

*Note: for those of you who like it extra cheesy, feel free to double the sharp cheddar to 2 cups total. 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cook chickpea pasta according to instructions on box. Once cooked, be sure water is completely drained.
  3. While cooked pasta is still hot, add cheddar, parmesan, Muuna cottage cheese, garlic powder, and salt, and mix ingredients together until they appear uniform. Remember to set aside ~¼ cup cheese to sprinkle on top before baking.
  4. Transfer pasta and cheese mixture to baking pan. You may sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top. Bake for ~10 minutes, or until cheese appears melted.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Southwest Quinoa Salad

This recipe is one of my all-time favorites, partially because it's completely fool proof, but mostly because it's so delicious. Bonus: it's packed with fiber and protein and serves as a standalone meal, or as a side dish to a larger meal. I like to make a big portion of this in the beginning of the week and keep it on-hand in the fridge all week long. Note: if you want to make a larger portion, just double (or triple) the ingredients below. 

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

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  • 1 cup quinoa, dry
  • 3/4 cup organic canned black beans
  • 3/4 cup organic canned corn 
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved 
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled 
  • 2 whole, organic eggs 
  • 2 limes, for juice 
  • chili lime seasoning, to taste
  • smoked paprika, to taste 
  • sriracha sauce, if desired 

Directions:

  1. Cook quinoa according to instructions on box. Once cooked, set aside in bowl to cool. 
  2. Combine quinoa, tomatoes, corn, feta and black beans together in bowl. Add paprika and chili lime seasoning, according to desired taste. Squeeze juice of 2 limes. Mix ingredients together until contents appear evenly distributed. 
  3. You may poach, fry, or scramble egg to top quinoa salad. Note: Add egg right before serving. 

Spice Up Your Eggs

Breakfast foods are my absolute favorite. I love breakfast for breakfast... and I also love breakfast for dinner. Especially when I've had a long day at work and I have about 5 minutes of dinner prep in me, at best. As a dietitian, maximizing the nutrition in my meals is always a priority - and it just so happens that nutrients and flavor go hand-in-hand when it comes to my scrambles. I'm big on adding spices to eggs because 1) they provide a ton of flavor, and 2) spices are super high in antioxidants - that substance that combats otherwise harmful free-radicals. I urge you to try my recipe for spicing up your scrambles, regardless of what meal you make it for.  PS: feel free to get creative! If there is a spice that you love not listed below, modify my recipe and make it your own! 

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Ingredients (serves 1):

  • 2 whole eggs, organic, cage-free
  • 2 tablespoons feta cheese 
  • dash of soy milk (or almond if you prefer)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 
  • generous pour of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of thyme 
  • may top with sriracha 

Directions:

  1. Crack 2 eggs in bowl and whisk so that egg yolks break and mixture appears uniform and yellow. Add dash of soy milk and mix again.
  2. Add spices to egg mixture and mix again.
  3. Use nonstick pan and turn heat to medium. Add feta cheese to skillet. Scramble eggs until they are cooked to your liking.
  4. May garnish with more thyme or spices, as desired.  

Mango-Kefir Lassi

Have any of you ever tried a traditional Indian Mango Lassi? Have any of you proceeded to fall in LOVE with this drink, before learning it's loaded with sugar, fat, and calories? (guilty). I decided to put the Tovita touch on this smoothie because I felt it had so much potential to be a healthy dessert (or breakfast, or snack, or whatever you want to call it) and honestly, I love mangoes. It's that simple. 

Some ingredients worth mentioning: I added tofu as a source of protein. Rather than adding protein powders, tofu is a good source of protein (7 - 9 grams per serving) and easily absorbs the flavors of the other ingredients. Plus its natural pudding-like consistency makes it a perfect addition to the recipe. Next, I added kefir because it's a great source of probiotics. Remember, probiotics are those organisms that provide a host of benefits to our guts. 

Ingredients (serves1):

  • 1 cup cubed, frozen mango 
  • 1/3 cup plain, unsweetened kefir 
  • 1/3 inch slice of silky, organic tofu 
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup of vanilla almond milk (or other milk substitute) 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dash of turmeric

Directions:

  1. Blend all ingredients together until evenly distributed. Note: may add more liquid base per consistency preference. (more liquid = thinner consistency; less liquid = thicker consistency) 

 

Cannellini Bean & Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Bowl

If you've been following this blog for a bit now, you probably know that I love experimenting with unusual ingredients or atypical combinations. If you're landing here for the first time, well, now you're in on it too. 

When making my usual after-work smoothie bowl the other day, I found myself thinking about how I could add more fiber without increasing sugar content, and without compromising the sweet flavor. Yes, I could add more greens, but that would create a tarter taste. Yes, I could add cauliflower (and that probably would have been perfect), but cauliflower smoothies feel like the new avocado toast these days, and that didn't make me feel like I was living on the edge. That's when I thought of adding cannellini beans! (because that's what everyone thinks of when they want to live on the edge, obviously). They're loaded with fiber and protein (1/2 cup has 5 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein), they're bland enough that they adopt the flavor of the fruit smoothie - or any smoothie - without compromising the taste, and they would add some more volume - because whoever wants their smoothie to end!? 

Here is the recipe for my cannellini bean & chocolate cherry concoction - highly recommend you try it. Oh, and I will DEFINITELY be experimenting with other fruit/vegetable flavor iterations of this bean-based delight, so stay tuned :) 

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • 1/2 cup unsalted, organic cannellini beans 
  • 1/2 frozen banana 
  • 1/4 cup frozen wild blueberries 
  • 1/2 cup frozen dark and sweet cherries 
  • 1/3 cup organic soy milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dash of cinnamon 
  • 4 I Heart Keenwah chocolate quinoa puffs (for topping)
  • 1 tablespoon cherries (for topping)

Directions:

  1. Set aside topping ingredients and add all other ingredients to blender. Blend on high for about 30 seconds, or until contents appear evenly distributed. 
  2. Pour mixture into bowl. Use your hands to crush quinoa puffs, and sprinkle on top of smoothie. Add remaining tablespoon of cherries for topping.
  3. Enjoy! 

 

Eggplant Pizza (part II)

Summer is right around the corner, which means it's time to stop talking about putting an end to pizza Fridays (fine, late night pizza too...) and actually do something about it! Now this is where eggplant pizza really comes in handy. It provides the same cheesy deliciousness as pizza - sans the white bread, guilt, or typical massive stomach ache that follows.  

While we've provided eggplant pizza recipes in the past, this one is mildly tweaked in effort to offer fewer steps. We know - the nicer the weather, the less time you want to spend in the kitchen. You're welcome. 

Ingredients (serves ~4):

  • 1 large eggplant
  • tomato sauce of choice (we like Trader Joe's Traditional Marinara Sauce)
  • mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • spices: salt, garlic powder, basil, red chili flakes (or other spices of choice) 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Slice eggplant into 1" thick discs. In separate shallow bowl, combine olive oil and a pinch of salt and garlic powder. Dip each eggplant disc into bowl, and then lay on baking sheet. Bake discs for 20 minutes.
  3. Momentarily remove eggplant sheet from oven and top eggplant discs with about 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce, and sprinkle mozzarella cheese, chili flakes, and basil (or other spices) atop each disc. Allow to bake for another ~5 minutes, or until cheese is melted to your desired consistency. 

Cauliflower Pizza

Thank goodness for the invention of cauliflower pizza. Seriously. If I ate traditional pizza as often as I eat cauliflower pizza, let's just say my RD license might be at risk of being revoked. While I'm really good at scarfing this deliciousness down, I can't say I'm particularly good at making it. So, when a client recently asked me for a cauliflower pizza recipe, it occurred to me that I don't actually have one... awkward... 

Fortunately, my friend @officialcauligirl knows a recipe or two :) and was happy to help me out. Well, US out. She so kindly offered her recipe for cauliflower pizza, and it's much easier than you think!! In fact, the pictures below are taken from a client who took on the cauli task, and it was a total success! So, feel free to try out her recipe OR if you're like me and you live in NYC, feel free to order from her and get the pizza delivered straight to your door. Email cauligirl29@gmail.com to place your order and remember, Tovita clients and followers receive a standing 10% discount when you mention Tovita x Cauli Girl in your email. 

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 2 organic eggs 
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese 
  • dash of salt
  • dash of garlic powder
  • dash of oregano

Directions:

  1. Cut 1 head of cauliflower into fourths. Place in food processor until cauliflowers appears to have the consistency of rice. 
  2. Drain with a cheese cloth to get rid of excess water.
  3. In a large bowl, add eggs, cheese, salt, oregano, and garlic powder to cauli rice, and stir together.
  4. Spray a generous amount of cooking spray on a cookie baking sheet and spread mixture into any shape desired. 
  5. Bake at 500 degrees for 25 minutes. 
  6. Remove crust from oven and top with desired sauce and cheese. 
  7. Bake for another 10 minutes and broil on high for the last 2 minutes, until the cheese begins to bubble. 
  8. Allow to cool, and use pizza scissors to cut into slices. 

Southwest Style Chickpea Pasta

This recipe was entirely unintentionally crafted. But hey, they say the best things happen when you don't plan them, right!? Anyway, I was making my usual effortless chickpea pasta dinner, when I decided I was craving something mildly sweet. While corn isn't exactly chocolate, it's a starchy vegetable and therefore inherently adds an element of sweetness. (Remember, starch is a form of sugar). I added in the corn kernels, which prompted me to kick the southwest theme up a notch. That's when the paprika sealed the deal. If I had some cojita cheese on hand, I would have definitely sprinkled a teaspoon or two on top, so if that sounds good to you, go for it! Feel free to add in whatever vegetables you think might pair nicely with this dish - oh, and then share it with me!! You guys constantly give me a ton of #foodinspo, so keep me posted :) 

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • 3/4 dry cup chickpea pasta (I used Banza)
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved 
  • 3 medium pearl tomatoes, quartered 
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced 
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels (corn in water, no sugar added) 
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 

Directions: 

  1. Add halved tomatoes and diced garlic to nonstick pan on stove top over medium heat. You may add a bit of water if contents begin to stick. Allow to saute for about 8 minutes. 
  2. While veggies are sauteing, boil water to begin to make the chickpea pasta (may follow instructions on box). 
  3. Add corn kernels, paprika, salt, and garlic powder to tomato mixture on stove top. Mix ingredients with spatula and turn heat down to low. Continue to allow to cook for another ~5 minutes. Sauce should appear to have a thicker and chunky consistency. 
  4. Once pasta is cooked, drain water and add noodles to bowl. Add tomato sauce and allow to cool a minute before enjoying. Note: may add paprika to taste, if desired.