Pasta Pomodoro with Spinach & Zucchini

I owe all my cooking skills to my mom, she honestly is a phenomenal cook.  I started learning how to cook when I was about 7.  Whenever my mom was in the kitchen I was always there and I remember the first time she actually made me cook with her hands on because before she always told me “con la cottura si impara guadando” meaning “with cooking you learn by watching first”  My mom made everything from scratch, nothing was ever store bought, from fresh pasta, to sauces, to fresh bread- she made it all by hand.  The things I have learned from my mom are priceless, something I will forever hold near and dear to my heart and hope that I can pass on all that I have learned from her to my boys and their families (one day)

One thing she taught me was that any good sauce if made with fresh ingredients should take no more than 30 minutes.  I think that’s why I generally can whip up dinner in under 30 minutes.  She taught me to be creative with what we have, and to be honest I find I come up with some of the best dinners that way.

I think I’ve said this before, my kids love their Italian food and of course who doesn’t like pasta.  This is one of my boys favorite  and I load it with their 2 favorite vegetables. It’s quick and easy and trust me you and your family will love it!


1 jar of Passatta ( Crushed tomato)

2 cups chopped spinach

1 large Zuchiini (grated)

1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic

salt and pepper to taste

fresh basil and parsley

1/2 cup water


  1. In a sauce pan, saute onions, garlic and grated zucchini for a few minutes.
  2. Add crushed tomatoes, water, salt, pepper and fresh herbs.  Bring to a boil then lower heat to a light simmer.
  3. Simmer for 10-12 minutes ( uncovered). Add Spinach and let simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Serve with your favorite pasta.

( This makes enough sauce to serve with 1 pack ( 450g) of pasta)



Curry Coconut Lentil Soup

Curry plus coconut is a match made in heaven. Seriously, the combination of the two pretty much makes everything tastes good.  As you have probably figured out, I’m Italian, and traditionally our lentil soup ( from the part of Italy I am from) is made with swiss chard and potatoes, with a tomato base. Don’t get me wrong, I am still trying to master my moms lentil soup, but I used the basics of how my mom makes it and kicked it up a notch.  Initially I was worried my little one wouldn’t like it. He’s 10 and isn’t the easiest to please when it comes to introducing new flavors, he loves his Italian foods, what can I say! LOL.  BUT…this was a hit.  As much as I try to teach my kids to try different things, I also choose my battles, so when I’m creating new recipes, I 100% keep my boys favorite foods in mind and go from there. It really just makes my life easier. They both love lentils, but my 10 year old hates potatoes, but loves carrots- which is why I used sweet potatoes ( he can’t tell the difference between the sweet potato and a carrot, I know he’s 10, but lets just continue this way until he figures it out).  They also both love spinach versus swiss chard and I took a shot at seeing if they would like the curry and coconut flavors.  You can add more curry if you like, but the recipe below is a subtle hint and the coconut just made it creamy with a bit of sweetness that compliments the light heat of the curry.  I think that’s why it was such a hit. Flavorful but not overpowering.

If you try any of my recipes, i would love your feedback!   Enjoy!

serves 6


1 large Zucchini ( diced)

1 small sweet potato ( diced)

1 cup white mushrooms ( diced)

1 small onion ( finely chopped)

1 clove of garlic (minced)

2-3 cups spinach

1 can diced tomatoes ( sodium free)

1/2 cup dry lentils

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

3 leaves fresh basil (chopped)

1 liter vegetable broth

1 cup coconut milk

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp yellow curry powder

salt and pepper to taste


  1. Wash and chop all veggies to desired size, set aside.
  2. In a pot, saute onions and garlic with olive oil, until the onions begin to sweat.  Add zucchini, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and curry powder and tomatoes. Saute for a few minutes
  3. Add broth, lentils, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then lower heath to low/medium to a steady simmer. Simmer for 40 minutes until lentils are almost cooked.
  4. add coconut milk, fresh herbs spinach and simmer for another 5 minutes

Serve and Enjoy!

Asian Flare Rice Bowl

Jasmine rice is my boys favorite type of rice, but seriously can you blame them? it needs so little added ingredients to make it taste good.

This is my first year having a garden, and its full of my favorite fresh herbs, which is what inspired me to make this dish.  Fresh basil and jasmine rice go hand in hand, it’s a perfect partnership!


Rice: 1.5 cups of cooked organic jasmine rice. I boil mine plain- with no salt or oil.  Fresh basil ( about 2 leaves), fresh parsley ( about 1/2 cup chopped), zest of 1 lemon, 1 glove of garlic chopped, salt & pepper to taste, 1 tsbp olive oil

Vegetable stir fry:  2 heads of broccoli. cut washed and blanched. 2 carrots, peeled and chopped, 2 celery stalks, chopped, 1 large zucchini chopped, 1 yellow pepper chopped, 2  gloves of garlic- finely chopped, fresh parsley , fresh basil and 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger, 1 tsbp olive oil

Chick Peas: 2 cups cooked chick peas, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp red curry powder


Rice; Saute fresh garlic with olive oil, add cooked rice and stir fry for about 1 minute. add fresh herbs, salt, pepper and lemon zest, stir fry for another minute.

Veggies: saute all veggies with 1 tbsp of olive oil and garlic, add fresh herbs and ginger. Stir fry until desired consistency

Chick peas: heat 1 tsbp of olive oil with 1 tbsp red curry on medium heat, toast for about 45 seconds.. Add cooked chick peas and stir.  Place in lined baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes

combine all 3 into a bowl and enjoy!


Green Smoothie Bowl

This makes the perfect post workout breakfast!  I’ve been trying to incorporate more raw meals into my daily nutrition and it seems like this whole breakfast smoothie thing is a ‘thing” right now, so i gave it a shot, with whatever I had in my fridge and viola…my super yummy green smoothie bowl. for sure making this on repeat!

Enjoy 🙂


1 cup fresh kale-chopped

1/4 of fresh banana ( or frozen)

1/4 cup frozen mango ( or fresh)

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/4 of an avocado


1 tbsp of natural peanut butter


2 tbsp Coconut Yogurt

1 cup fresh berries

1tsp hemp seeds

1 tbsp raw walnuts


In a blender add all ingredients and blend until desired consistency.  Poor into bowl and top with  coconut yogurt, fresh fruit, seeds and nuts.

super easy right?  I know!!!!

Lemon Blueberry Muffins (Vegan)

Baking is my thing!  There is just something about playing around in the kitchen that makes me happy.  My kitchen is my (other) happy place.  Since moving towards a more plant based diet, I  seem to be spending more and more time baking different things and this is where my training as a professional baker comes in. I like to make sure that all my creations are  quick, easy and of course something my boys will enjoy.   So, after grocery shopping and coming home with a big pint of organic blueberries I decided to bake with them.  Originally I was going to make a loaf, but I just find muffins are the perfect serving size and easier to pack.

These came out amazing, with no alterations needed to the first go at the recipe!  I hope you enjoy them as much as we did ( yes, past tense because they are already all gone )

Makes approx 20 muffins.


1 1/4 Cup Organic Whole Wheat Flour ( for Gluten free use All purpose gluten free baking mix)

1/2 Cup Organic Quick Oats

1 Scoop Pea Protein ( optional)

1/3 Cup Coconut Sugar

1 flax egg ( 1 tbsp flax meal mixed with 3 tbsp warm water- let sit for 5 min)

1 tsp Cinnamon

1tsp Baking Soda

1 tbsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 ripe banana

zest of 1 lemon

2 tbsp oil ( I use avocado oil- you can use olive oil, coconut oil or grapeseed oil)

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp Unsweetened Almond milk ( you can use any other milk alternative you like)

1 cup fresh ( or frozen) blueberries

Pumpkin seeds for topping ( optional)



  1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.  Grease muffins tins
  2.  In a large bowl, mash banana and add coconut sugar, vanilla extra, flax egg and oil and mix well
  3. add: flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, pea protein, salt and cinnamon. Add 1/2 amount of almond milk and begin to mix. then add other 1/2 of almond milk
  4. with a spatula, fold in blueberries and lemon zest.
  5. using an ice cream scooper or spoon scoop mix into muffin tins, top with seeds and bake for 15-16 minutes turning trays at the 10 minute mark.
  6. once done, let cook on baking rack.
  7. serve and enjoy!!

store in air tight container for up to 3 days on counter.  These will also freeze very well!


O’Nutty Vegan Banana Muffins


Vegan- Banana Nut Muffins ( with GF option)

Serving: 20-24 Muffins ( depending on muffin tin size)

You know me, I love playing around in the kitchen, especially when it comes to baking.  Since moving towards a more plant based diet, my baking skills have been coming in handy.  


This recipe started with my kids asking for me to make my banana loaf. Naturally I needed to come up with a vegan version of it, that had some added health benefits.


Usually it takes me a few tries to get the recipe right, but not this time. Got is bang on the first try!  It’s super moist, fluffy and delish! It’s also packed with protein, fiber and essential nutrients ( bingo!)


Xo Denise


1 flax egg ( 1 tbsp flax meal, 3 tbsp water- let sit for 5 minutes)

3 ripe bananas

1 ¼ cup- Whole wheat flour ( GF option- GF baking flour mix)

1 cup quick oats

1 scoop Pea Protein ( optional)

1tbsp chia seeds/hemp seeds (optional)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp baking powder

½ cup coconut sugar ( or you can use brown sugar)

2tbsp cane sugar

Pinch salt

½  tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

¼ cup oil ( Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil or grape seed oil)

¼ cup natural peanut butter

½ cup almond milk ( your choice- but I use unsweetened)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Grease/line muffin tins- set aside
  3. In a small bowl- mix all dry ingredients except for sugars, and set aside
  4. In a large bowl, mash bananas, add flax egg, vanilla extract, peanut butter and oil. Mix well, then add coconut sugar and cane sugar. Mix well
  5. Add dry ingredients and start to mix using a spatula. Add almond milk and mix until well combined
  6. Using an ice cream scooper ( or a tablespoon) scoop batter into tins
  7. Bake for 14-16 minutes. I have a gas oven, so my cooking time is less than a standard conventional oven, it make take a few extra minutes in a conventional oven.

The muffins will last up to 3 days on your counter in an airtight container, up to a week in your fridge or you can freeze them.

To make these school safe, you can eliminate the peanut butter, I actually just made a batch this morning without the PB, and it still came out delicious.



Pesto Veggie Pizza on a Spelt Crust


Recently, I have started to add more plant-based meals into our daily nutrition trying to limit/decrease animal products and increase our intake of more wholesome foods including plant-based proteins.
With  2 boys and a husband who’s favorite food is pizza, I   decided to test out a full out veggie pizza for dinner incorporating everyone’s favorite veggies. Having just made a trip to the local natural food store, I bought a whole bunch of fresh, organic veggies and was able to use all fresh herbs from my garden 🙂  Having the boys come with me and pick out there veggies actually made this pizza one of the best pizza’s I’ve ever made (for real). Definitely a big hit! Enjoy 🙂


1 fresh spelt pizza dough ( purchased from local natural food store) or you can use regular pizza dough- your choice


1/2 of both a purple and yellow bell pepper ( they had purple peppers!!! they are very light in flavor- so a great choice for picky eaters)

1 small zucchini, chopped finely

1 cup chopped mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup black olives

(added hot banana peppers on mine & Brad’s side of the pizza)


1-2 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic glove

handful of both fresh basil and parsley ( from my garden)

salt & pepper to taste

1tsp water


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

  1.  roll out  pizza dough and place on a greased pizza sheet. NOTE: if oyu are using spelt, it rolls out nice and thin. which gives you a really yummy thin crust (crispy) pizza
  2.  wash and cut all toppings, set aside
  3. using a blender, to make the pesto sauce, add all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth
  4. spread pesto on dough evenly
  5. add all toppings
  6. bake for 12-15 minutes. I have a gas oven so it may take longer in a regular electric oven.