Tag: vegetarian

30 High-Protein Meals Made with Cottage Cheese

This post is dedicated to my co-worker who is OBSESSED with cottage cheese. Literally any recipe- he’s shamelessly adding it to boost his protein intake.  But I can’t blame him. It’s a whole food.  It tastes great and it’s incredibly versatile and an excellent ingredient to support weight loss.  So Scott – this one is for you!  

Cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein, and according to the American Dairy Association it packs about 12 grams per 1/2 cup serving.1 Not only does it boast high protein content, but its creamy texture makes it a versatile ingredient for a variety of meals. Whether you’re a fan of the taste of cottage cheese or looking for ways to sneak more protein into your diet, these recipes are great additions to your meal plan. Here, I’ve compiled the best cottage cheese recipes that are gluten-free and perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, each designed to deliver at least 30 grams of protein.

1/4 cup (2 oz) cottage
1/4 cup (2 oz) cottage by U.S. Department of Agriculture

Breakfast:

Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowls: Start your day with these bowls combining cottage cheese, fresh berries, a scoop of protein powder, and a touch of honey. Blend in a food processor for a creamy texture similar to Greek yogurt.

High-Protein Pancakes: Mix cottage cheese with oats, eggs, and a scoop of your favorite protein powder. Cook on medium heat for pancakes that are a healthy breakfast option and a good source of calcium.

Savory Cottage Cheese Bowl: For those who prefer savory recipes, this bowl mixes cottage cheese with avocado, cherry tomatoes, and olive oil. It’s a great way to incorporate healthy fats and important nutrients into your morning routine.  

Cottage Cheese Toast: Upgrade your toast with a spread of cottage cheese, topped with sliced bell peppers and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese. Place under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese melts for added deliciousness.

High-Protein Omelette: Whip up an omelette by adding 1/2 cup of cottage cheese into the egg mixture. Throw in fresh veggies and cooked chicken for extra protein and flavor.

Cottage Cheese Cake Overnight Oats: Combine 1/2 cup of cottage cheese with 1/2 cup rolled oats.  Mix in a touch of vanilla, and 1/2 a mashed banana and let sit overnight.  Top with fresh raspberries.  It’s one of the best ways to have cake for breakfast!  Add stevia as needed for sweetness.  

Lunch:

Cottage Cheese Alfredo Sauce: A healthier version of the classic alfredo made with cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, garlic and fresh herbs blended until smooth. Serve over your favorite gluten free pasta for a nutritious lunch.

Cottage Cheese and Quinoa Salad: A filling salad that combines the protein power of quinoa and cottage cheese with fresh greens and a lemon olive oil dressing.

Stuffed Bell Peppers: Mix cottage cheese, cooked lean ground turkey, and quinoa for a filling, then stuff into bell peppers. Bake in the oven until the peppers are tender.

Cottage Cheese Tacos: Replace traditional taco meat with a blend of cottage cheese, taco seasoning, and black beans, served in lettuce wraps for a low-carb option.

Savory Cottage Cheese Dip: Blend cottage cheese until smooth, then mix with diced tomatoes, green onions, and a touch of garlic for a dip that goes well with tortilla chips or fresh veggies.

Cottage Cheese Egg Salad: For a refreshing twist, mix chopped boiled eggs with cottage cheese, mustard, and herbs for a high-protein egg salad.

Dinner:

Cottage Cheese Lasagna: Substituting ricotta with cottage cheese is a great way to boost the protein content in this classic dish. Layer with cooked pasta, your favorite sauce, and plenty of vegetables. I’ve done it several times with my baked ziti recipe!

Cottage Cheese Pizza: Swap out mozzarella for cottage cheese on your pizza for an unusual but tasty twist. Add toppings like cooked chicken breast, spinach, and bell peppers for added nutrients.

Cottage Cheese Stuffed Chicken: Stuff chicken breasts with a mixture of cottage cheese, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes, then bake until juicy and tender.

Creamy Cottage Cheese Vodka Sauce: Make a quick cottage cheese Vodka sauce to create a creamy, satisfying pasta dish paired with grilled chicken.  Zip cottage cheese with your favorite jarred marinara sauce and then heat and serve!  

You can easily replace the ricotta in this recipe with cottage cheese.

Cottage Cheese Burrito Bowl: Mix cottage cheese with rice, beans, and fajita vegetables for a hearty and nutritious meal.

Cottage Cheese Bolognese: Replace half the meat in your traditional Bolognese sauce with cottage cheese for a lighter, yet still protein-rich sauce.

Snacks:

Cottage Cheese Ice Cream: Combine cottage cheese with coconut milk and your choice of sweetener, then freeze for a healthy alternative to traditional ice cream. Check out my recipe here!

Cottage Cheese Energy Balls: Blend cottage cheese with oats, chia seeds, protein powder, and a bit of honey, then roll into balls and refrigerate—a perfect pre-workout snack.

Cottage Cheese and Fruit Parfait: Layer cottage cheese with fresh fruits, a drizzle of honey, and some granola for a quick and easy snack.

Cottage Cheese Dip for Fresh Veggies: Blend cottage cheese until smooth, then season with your favorite spice mix.  I like the Trader Joe’s Ranch seasoning for a kid friendly dip that pairs well with any type of fresh vegetables.

Cottage Cheese Caprese Bites: A simple snack of a slice of tomato, topped with a scoop of cottage cheese, basil leaf, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Don’t forget the flaky sea salt!

Cottage Cheese on Toast: Just scoop your cottage cheese onto your favorite gluten free bread or seed cracker. Top withe diced tomato, chive and everything but the bagel seasoning.

Additional Meal Ideas:

Protein-Packed Smoothies: Blend cottage cheese with fresh or frozen fruit, almond milk, and a scoop of protein powder for an easy way to increase your protein intake.

Cottage Cheese-Stuffed Avocado: Halve an avocado and fill with cottage cheese, topped with salsa and a squeeze of lime, for a balance of creamy and tangy flavors.

Cottage Cheese Frittata: Beat eggs with cottage cheese, pour into a baking dish, and add your choice of vegetables and cheese. Bake until set for a high-protein, easy meal prep option.

Cottage Cheese Meatballs: Combine cottage cheese with ground meat, breadcrumbs (gluten-free options available), and spices. Basically use in place of your liquid or eggs. Bake and serve with your favorite sauce.

Savory Cottage Cheese Crepes: Fill crepes with cottage cheese mixed with herbs and shredded chicken for a delightful lunch or dinner option.

Cottage Cheese and Berry Compote: A simple dessert or snack, layer cottage cheese with a homemade berry compote for a burst of flavor.

Incorporating cottage cheese into your meals is not only an easy way to boost your protein intake but also enhances the flavor and texture of dishes. From the creamy sauce of a lasagna to the sweet satisfaction of cheesecake, cottage cheese proves to be a great ingredient for anyone looking to maintain a healthy, high-protein diet. 

Benefits of eating cottage cheese

It’s a good source of high-quality protein.  With about 12 grams of protein per half-cup serving, cottage cheese is an excellent source of casein protein. 

It’s a source of bone-strengthening minerals: Cottage cheese is packed with calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, which are vital for strong, healthy bones. 

Can be low in fat: Available in low-fat and nonfat varieties, cottage cheese is an excellent option for those looking to reduce their fat intake without sacrificing taste or nutritional value.

Gut Health Benefits: When produced with live and active cultures, cottage cheese can offer probiotics similar to yogurt, promoting a healthy gut microbiome. 

Macros

This is a list of ideas. You will need to play with the amounts you use to fit your macro goals. Feel free to DM or email me with questions!

References

1.  https://www.americandairy.com/health-wellness/benefits-of-dairy/cottage-cheese/

About Me

I’m Melanie.

I’m a chef, registered dietitian, foodie, wife and mom.
If you’re looking for quick and healthy meal inspiration that supports your health goals while feeding the rest of your family (including the kiddoes) well, then you’ve come to the right place!

Melanie Marcus Selfie

Mom’s Best Ever Whole-Wheat zucchini bread recipe

I enjoyed this delicious zucchini bread recipe frequently during my childhood. It was a go-to option for quick breakfast, an after-school snack, and as an adult, a sweet(ish) after dinner treat. One of our family favorites was the blueberry zucchini bread, baked to perfection in a bundt pan. During prime zucchini season, the irresistible aroma of freshly baked loaves would fill the air, waiting to be packaged and frozen for later indulgence.  What a great memory – and now I share it with my children.

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Now that I have my own garden, growing zucchini plants successfully has been quite the challenge.  I’ve learned first hand that squash bugs can take out your crop within a week if you’re not prepared – and to grow them in North Carolina is a labor of love.  After three years of watching my plants die, this year I was ready and have been able to grow amazing zucchini through August! If you are a successful gardener, bookmark this page so you can make this wholesome zucchini bread recipe anytime.  You won’t regret it!

Ingredients and Substitutions for Walnut Zucchini Bread

  • Walnuts – preferably toasted!  Always store walnuts in the fridge to maintain freshness.  
  • Eggs – It’s best to use room temperature eggs.  Also, you can use up to two flax eggs in this recipe if you want.  
  • Sugar – the original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar. If you want to limit sugar, you can go down to 3/4 cup instead – which is what I do! Coconut sugar can be used instead of white sugar if you like.  I don’t recommend using honey or maple syrup because they’ll add extra moisture.  
  • Vegetable Oil – any oil will work.  I’ve used canola oil, olive oil, coconut oil and rapeseed oil and they all turned out well.  Keep in mind that certain oils will impart flavor and potentially more saturated fat than others.  
  • Apple Sauce – I use unsweetened apple sauce to help keep the bread moist.  You can also use plain greek yogurt or mashed banana. 
  • Unsifted White Whole Wheat Flour – You can use half whole wheat (whole grain flour) and half white flour to  bump up nutrients from whole grains.  All purpose flour or AP flour will also work well.
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Baking Powder 
  • Zucchini shred using food processor or box grater.  This recipe calls for two cups of grated zucchini, I tend to use about 2 1/2 cups or one large zucchini. But remember to remove the seeds!!  Smaller zucchini are more desirable for their smaller, more digestable seeds.  If your zucchini is large, you will need to scoop them out.  
  • Vanilla extract
  • Optional mix ins :  blueberries, raisins, chocolate chips, lemon zest
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It’s so good that I’ll even make it in winter!

About white whole-wheat flour

White whole wheat flour is a healthier alternative to traditional all-purpose flour because it is made from whole grains rather than refined grains. Unlike other types of whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour is made from a variety of wheat that has a lighter color and milder flavor, making it more appealing to those who are used to the taste of white flour. White whole wheat flour retains the bran and germ of the wheat, which are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are beneficial for our health. 

How to make the best zucchini bread

I love a short and simple quick bread recipes, and this one is my favorite.  

  • First things first, preheat oven to 350F and line two bread pans (aka loaf pan) with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray.  You can also use one bunt pan.
  • In a large bowl, beat eggs (plus flax eggs) if you’re using, sugar, applesauce and oil. I like to do this by hand, but you can use your stand mixer with paddle attachment.  
  • Next, in a medium bowl combine all of the dry ingredients.  Whisk flour mixture well before gradually adding to wet ingredients.  
  • Now mix in zucchini.  
  • Last stir in walnuts and vanilla.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan or divide batter into two loaf pans and bake at 350F for about 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cooking time may vary slightly depending on the moisture content of the zucchini.    
  • When it comes out of the oven, set the pans on a cooling rack and cover with a clean kitchen towel.

How to freeze this classic zucchini bread

  • For best results, let your breads rest on a wire rack until cool to touch. This helps ensure that excess moisture has evaporated and doesn’t get trapped inside.  
  • Wrap tightly with aluminum foil.
  • Then label freezer-safe bag with date they were made.  
  • One loaf will fit into one gallon size plastic bag.  
  • Freeze completely in the coldest part of the freezer.  
  • When you’re ready to enjoy your zucchini walnut bread simply take out of the freezer the night before so you can have it the next day.

When to eat zucchini bread

1.  Serve for breakfast instead of store bought muffins.  

2.  Bring a loaf of zucchini bread to the office to share with co-workers

3.  Enjoy a warm slice with a little butter. There’s nothing like it.  

4.  Cut into individual slices and wrap with plastic wrap.  Store in a freezer safe bag in the freezer for a healthy snack anytime.  

The best part about this whole wheat zucchini bread recipe is that it makes two loaves!  It’s a quick bread batter that is sure to rival your favorite banana bread or pumpkin bread. For me, there is just something incredibly satisfying about this homemade treat – perhaps it was the inclusion of toasted walnuts, adding a perfect crunch to every bite.

Let me know if you try it for yourself!!  

Mom’s Walnut Zucchini Bread

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 16
Calories 288 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 each eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3.5 cups white whole wheat flour unsifted
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup walnuts toasted and chopped

Instructions
 

  • Mix eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce and vanilla in a large bowl.
  • In another bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
  • Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.
  • Fold in zucchini and walnuts
  • Pour into 2 prepared loaf pans, or 1 bundt pan.

Nutrition

Serving: 16gCalories: 288kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 4gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 10gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 343mgPotassium: 95mgFiber: 3gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 36IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 37mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

About Me

I’m Melanie.

I’m a chef, registered dietitian, foodie, wife and mom.
If you’re looking for quick and healthy meal inspiration that supports your health goals while feeding the rest of your family (including the kiddoes) well, then you’ve come to the right place!

Melanie Marcus Selfie

Easy fried rice for one

Are you looking for an easy and tasty weeknight dinner that won’t take all night to make? Well, look no further than this super fast fried rice! You can may also like my egg roll in a bowl or easy ricotta pasta recipes – so check them out if you have time. But this delicious fried rice is my go to for busy weeknights since it has minimal ingredients and takes way less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

Plus, you can customize this basic recipe by using whatever vegetables or proteins you have in your fridge whether they are fresh or frozen. Keep reading to learn how my step-by-step guide will help you whip up a batch of irresistible fried rice in no time flat. It can also be made as a side dish for two or easily made to feed the entire family.

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Ingredients you need for this easy fried rice recipe

  • Toasted sesame oil – Other neutral oil such as vegetable oil, canola oil or olive oil will work well too here but sesame oil adds a lot of flavor.
  • Garlic – this is a classic flavor component, so don’t skimp. You can mince whole fresh garlic, use jarred minced garlic or frozen cubes are a great way to add flavor.
  • Fresh ginger – I like to use frozen cubes to keep this simple, but you can also grate fresh ginger.
  • Mixed vegetables – think fresh veggies like broccoli, bok choy, carrot, bell pepper, zucchini, green peas, green beans, onions, mini corn, bell peppers. A bag of frozen veggies will work here too.
  • Brown rice – I like to use brown rice, but it’s a matter of personal preference. Any rice will work. Leftover rice is a fabulous option if you have it. But white rice or cauliflower rice are also good substitutes. Just be sure any of the rice is pre-cooked and cooled. In fact, cold rice works best for fried rice recipes.
  • Gluten-free tamari – low sodium soy sauce, coconut aminos, even regular soy sauce will work but it does have gluten. These are all interchangeable so just use what you have.
  • Whole egg – We fry them sunny side up, but I also like to scramble the egg into the rice the way my mom used to do it for us, so it’s just personal preference.
  • They key is to use a hot wok or well heated frying pan to make sure everything cooks evenly!
  • optional toppings: Sriracha, green onions, bean sprouts, cilantro, sesame seeds, cubed tofu, or protein of choice such as leftover chicken.
Jump to Recipe

Steps to make classic fried rice

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet or large wok over high heat.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, ginger, and chopped vegetables and cook over medium-high heat .
  3. Stir-fry the vegetables for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned and softened. Keep the ingredients moving so they cook evenly.
  4. Add the rice and cook, for another 3 minutes, then add the soy sauce and cook for 1 minute more. 
  5. Let the rice cook, undisturbed for 1-2 minutes if you like crispy bits in your fried rice.  
  6. Remove rice from panServe with sriracha.

What kind of rice is best to use for fried rice?

Personally I love to use leftover cooked rice from takeout. Day-old rice works really well because the individual grains maintain their texture as opposed to getting mushy. While jasmine rice is popular because of its aroma and flavor, but it tends to naturally have wetter consistency that helps it clump together.

  • If you have a rice cooker – Make the most of it by making a larger batch of fresh rice, let it return to room temperature and then freeze on a sheet pan in a single layer to use for later weeknight meals.
  • Microwaveable packets of long-grain rice are great for this type of quick cooking. They are also the best way to keep on hand in your pantry to make a complete meal in under 2 minutes!
  • Frozen brown or white long grain rice are other good options. I recommend that you microwave just before you add to the cooked vegetables. Though I find that rice doesn’t get as crispy with this method.

As you can see there are several types of rice you can use.

Here’s a secret for good fried rice: Cook your rice until it’s al dente, which means it has a little bite left to it. This prevents your fried rice from becoming mushy as you add sauces to your stir fry.

Tips for adding more flavor

When making dishes that include soy sauce, you may think more soy sauce is better. While you don’t want to skimp, it could become very one note if you use too much. Here’s what I recommend instead.

Make your fried rice with quantities listed in the ingredient list. Then taste it. While it may need more soy sauce for your liking, it’s important to remember that 15 milliliters or 1 Tablespoon of soy sauce has 920 milligrams of sodium. That’s 38% of the daily recommended value, and just about half of what the American Heart Association recommends for a heart healthy diet.

Instead of adding more soy sauce, you may want to sprinkle with a small amount of kosher salt to help bring out some high notes.

Alternatively, use lemon or lime juice! Citrus helps bring balance to salty or fatty foods and helps your tongue and mind appreciate the flavors. Just give a squeeze over the top and taste the difference for yourself!

If you happen to have leftovers, store your homemade fried rice in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Calorie information

This recipe is really macro friendly because it has a significant source of fiber, plus you can modify the fat, protein or carbohydrate to meet your needs easily!

Calories 456

Fat 12 grams

Saturated 2grams

Sodium 571 grams

Protein 16 grams

Fiber 7 grams

About Me

I’m Melanie.

I’m a chef, registered dietitian, foodie, wife and mom.
If you’re looking for quick and healthy meal inspiration that supports your health goals while feeding the rest of your family (including the kiddoes) well, then you’ve come to the right place!

Melanie Marcus Selfie

Quick Fried Rice for One

Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 11 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Calories 456 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger minced
  • 2 cups vegetables chopped
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice cooled
  • 2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 egg fried
  • edamame, shrimp, tofu, green onion, sesame seeds, sriracha

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat.
  • When the oil is hot, add the garlic, ginger, and chopped vegetables.
  • Stir-fry the vegetables for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned and softened.  Keep the ingredients moving so they cook evenly.
    Add the rice and cook, for another 3 minutes, then add the soy sauce and cook for 1 minute more. 
  • Let the rice cook, undisturbed for 1-2 minutes if you like crispy bits in your fried rice.  
  • Transfer your rice to serving bowl and top with fried egg and additional toppings if desired.

Nutrition

Calories: 456kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Creamy Ricotta Pasta with Veggies and Pine nuts

Our family likes mac and cheese. But there’s a limit to how many nights in a row that I can make that blue box! I like this recipe because it requires minimal and simple ingredients, plus it changes up the usual tomato sauce that we have in regular rotation. You may only need to pick up 3 or 4 items – like lemon or ricotta, pasta or broccoli for a quick crowd pleasing creamy pasta. Also play around with the vegetables that you include to use up what you have on hand. It’s a great recipe to put in the rotation for meatless Mondays or any day of the week. It’s just one of those dishes that is good any time of year.

Let me know if you try it!

Ingredients and substitutions for this creamy ricotta sauce and pasta recipe

  • Broccoli florets – break down a whole head of broccoli into small florets or use pre cut and cleaned veggies.
  • Fresh lemon – we’re using both the zest and the juice in this recipe so go with fresh
  • Pasta – I like short pasta with a shape that will catch the sauce. We’ve had it with rotini and pasta shells and it was great! It will also work with whole grain, brown rice or quinoa pasta. Use whichever your family likes.
  • Ricotta cheese – I’m suggesting a part skim ricotta cheese to help limit saturated fat, which also helps reduce total calories. You could absolutely use a whole milk ricotta for a richer and creamer dish. I like ricotta cheese because it adds a bit of protein too.
  • Salt and pepper – use these to season your pasta and sauce as you cook. The final result will be bland if you don’t!
  • Handful of basil – I love using fresh if I have it, but you could also use frozen and mix it in with the ricotta for a herby version!
  • Optional – chili flakes, parmesan cheese and pine nuts. If you don’t have them, don’t worry. If you do have them, use these to top the finial dishes before serving. You could even used up crumbled bacon and frozen peas for a traditional combo.

How to make creamy ricotta pasta step by step

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Then zest and juice the lemon into a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions for al dente. Two minutes before it’s al dente, add the broccoli and let cook for last two minutes.  
  3. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water when you drain the pasta and broccoli.  
  4. Mix lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1 cup ricotta cheese. You can use a food processor or just mix really well with a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  
  5. When the pasta reaches 2 minutes less than al dente, add the broccoli florets and cook for the remaining 2 minutes. 
  6. Return the hot pasta and broccoli to the pot. Add the ricotta mixture and 1/4 cup pasta water. Stir, adding more pasta water as needed, until the sauce coats and clings to the pasta. Taste and season with black pepper and Parmesan cheese, basil and red pepper flakes and pine nuts if desired.

The best part is you can also substitute any other vegetables you have on hand. Even leftover roasted cauliflower, and carrots could mix in well here.  

What to serve with creamy ricotta pasta

The nice thing is you really don’t need to serve anything else, but if you wanted to go the extra step here are a few ideas.

  • simple side salad
  • roasted chickpeas
  • roasted chicken or pork chops
  • sautéed greens
  • fresh diced tomatoes

How to store creamy ricotta pasta

If we have leftovers I like to store them in quart containers and then reheat in a pan with a little chicken broth or water to revive the sauce. Once the pasta comes down to room temperature, store it in an airtight container for up to three days.

Nutrition and macros

I make this recipe with brown rice pasta or traditional wheat pasta. But you could use the sauce over palm noodles or zucchini spirals if you needed to follow a low carb or lower calorie diet.

337calories

5g Fat 62g Carb 11g Pro 3g Fiber

creamy ricotta pasta

Creamy Ricotta Pasta

Super fast and nearly one pot meal for any day of the week
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 337 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 large pot
  • 1 food processor or large bowl

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 each lemon zest and juice
  • 1 pound pasta any kind you like
  • 1 handful fresh basil
  • red pepper flakes, parmesan and pine nuts optional

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Then zest and juice the lemon into a small bowl and set aside.
  • Add the pasta to the boiling water.  Two minutes before it’s al dente, add the broccoli and let cook for last two minutes.  Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water when you drain the pasta and broccoli.  
  • Mix lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1 cup ricotta cheese.  You can use a food processor  or just mix really well with a wooden spoon.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  
  • When the pasta reaches 2 minutes less than al dente, add the broccoli florets and cook for the remaining 2 minutes. 
  • Return the pasta and broccoli to the pot. Add the ricotta mixture and 1/4 cup pasta water. Stir, adding more pasta water as needed, until the sauce coats and clings to the pasta. Taste and season with black pepper and Parmesan cheese, basil and red pepper flakes and pine nuts if desired.

Nutrition

Calories: 337kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

About Me

I’m Melanie.

I’m a chef, registered dietitian, foodie, wife and mom.
If you’re looking for quick and healthy meal inspiration that supports your health goals while feeding the rest of your family (including the kiddoes) well, then you’ve come to the right place!

Melanie Marcus Selfie

How to grate carrots without a grater – there’s always a way

If you want to make a carrot cake but find that you don’t have pre-shredded carrots, and you don’t have a traditional box grater either – there are a few things you can do to get the job done. Keep reading for the best way to grate carrots in a pinch. No one will ever know!

Tools you could use to make grated carrots

There are all different types of graters so, although you may not have a box grater or hand grater, there are a lot of things you can do to get your carrots down to the right size for your recipe. You may be surprised the simple kitchen equipment you need is already on hand! Thin slices of carrots for your carrot kale muffins or your other carrot favorite recipes are just minutes away!

  • vegetable peeler
  • cheese grater or micro plane grater
  • julienne peeler
  • shredding blade on mandolin
  • small food processor with shredding disc accessory
  • a sharp knife

How to make grated carrots

My first choice would be to use a mini food processor with a grating plate, because this is probably the easiest way. I try to use this kitchen appliance any chance I get, because it always gets the job done with minimal effort. All you need to do is add your carrots through the top shoot of the processor and let the plate do its job while you hit the pulse button. It will shred carrots for you!

If that’s not an option – I’d go for my vegetable peeler. Over a cutting board, run the peeler in a downward motion starting at the larger end of the carrot and ending at the pointed end of the carrot. Just like you would if you were going to peel it. It will make long thin strips. Then you can run your knife over them and cut them down to small thin pieces. It’s a great way to break your carrot down into small pieces with limited equipment!

The next method you could try is your microplane. This is a hand held grater that has small holes, similar to the large holes of the box grater. The main difference with with this tool is that your carrots will come out very fine, possibly mushy, so proceed with caution.

A julienne peeler will shred your large carrots into thin strips which means with a little bit of effort from your knife, you can chop them down to smaller pieces and get similar results to your box grater.

The best method will come down to which tools you have at home because there are truly a bunch of different ways to shred fresh carrots.

Use carrot shred immediately, but extra can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days. Try using them in muffins, breads, scones, meatloaf or quiche.

If whole carrots are more your thing – try these vegan carrot dogs! They’re excellent!

About Me

I’m Melanie.

I’m a chef, registered dietitian, foodie, wife and mom.
If you’re looking for quick and healthy meal inspiration that supports your health goals while feeding the rest of your family (including the kiddoes) well, then you’ve come to the right place!

Melanie Marcus Selfie

A beginners guide for eating more plant-based meals

Going plant-based is one of the best things you can do for your body, your mind and your overall health. It doesn’t have to be a major decision that you overthink into paralysis either. It doesn’t mean you have to start an exclusively vegetarian diet or vegan diet (where you eliminate all animal products including dairy products).

All it means is that you have a new found focus on whole foods and plant-based foods – healthy foods, not necessarily eliminating all animal foods. It can be done slowly one meal at a time! 

Check out these tips courtesy of Dole Food Company to start including more fruits and vegetables in your diet today! 

But before we get into the tactical tips… lets overview why plant based is so good for you.

Health Benefits of plant-based eating

Research has shown that balanced vegetarian and plant forward diets can reduce the risk of chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels and some cancers! Some of these benefits, aside from weight loss include:

  • Lower body fat with a focus on healthy fats and lower overall calorie intake which lowers the risk for obesity, in turn lowering risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Lower blood pressure, which could be a result of fruit and vegetables intake. But it could also be the result of other lifestyle factors unique to plant-based eaters such as increased exercise, lower alcohol intake and typically following a non smoking lifestyle.
  • Lower risk for heart disease which may be due to lower saturated fat intake in combination with antioxidants found in plant-based foods.
  • Digestive issues such as constipation and divercitular disease is diminished. This is likely the result of the high fiber content of fresh fruits, vegetables and plant-based alternatives.
  • Lower risk of some cancers including prostate, colon and rectal which are likely a result of higher fiber content of fruits and vegetables in combination with increased micronutrient and antioxidant intake! Additionally less fat tends to be consumed along with lower consumption of carcinogens.
  • Lower risk of kidney disease, kidney stones and gall stones. IT’s thought that lower protein content found in vegetarian diets plus increased intake of legumes and vegetables
macro friendly food
Omnivores plant forward dinner!

Tips for building plant based meals today!

  1. Start by looking at what you can add. Which meals do you and your family already love? Are mac n cheesebaked ziti and pizza on the list? Let’s see how we can add more plants! Try adding chopped steamed broccoli into the cheese sauce, add sautéed peppers and onions to your meatloaf and pop open a salad kit to go along with pizza night. Viola, plant-forward dinners are served. 
  2. Explore with just one vegetable at first so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Think about how you could take a head of cauliflower and try incorporating it a bunch of different ways throughout the week. You could roast it whole as an entrée or, you could mash it like potatoes with nutritional yeast for a tasty side dish. You’ll gain a comfort level for what to do with it, so it doesn’t seem foreign.
  3. Do a little research. Pick three new plant-based recipes that you really get excited about, it could even be a healthy snack recipe. Commit to trying them and then add them to the rotation. Going vegan or vegetarian can require different cooking skills so it’s best to start slowly. 
  4. Stick to what you know how to make – it’s a good idea, especially in the beginning. Do you have chicken salad on repeat for a quick lunch? Try using mashed chickpeas instead. Are Taco Tuesdays on rotation? Add more produce with this recipe that includes the DOLE® Ultimate Caesar Kit. 
  5. Lean on your grocery stores for meal prep. Will buying a pre-made mirepoix (chopped carrots, celery and onions) make a quick minestrone soup come to life for you? What about meal prep kids like Dole’s Sheetpan Meal Starter Kit
  6. Substitute, in full or partially! Take a meal your family already loves like meatballs or baked ziti and substitute half of the ground beef with whole plant foods like diced mushrooms or lentils. You could substitute all of the ground meat the celebrate meatless Mondays too!
bowl trend

7. Jump on the “bowl” craze. Literally, grab your favorite bowl, start with a base of greens and add from there! You could create a cold Buddha bowl with other vegetables and proteins or add cooked brown rice and curry for a warm option. 

  1. Remember that whole grains are plants too! Oatmeal, quinoa and farro are great additions to make at meals, and they’re particularly easy to have for breakfast! 
  2. Be sure to get enough protein! When going plant-based it’s easy to eliminate animal proteins and substitute them with vegetables. But, if you don’t add plant-based proteins, you will feel unsatisfied. Turn to beans, tofu, nuts, seeds, lentils if you’re looking for plant-based options!

Foods to stock up on for your plant based journey

Plant based foods

Nut butters – peanut, cashew, almond, walnut, chunky or sooth, they are all full of healthy fats plus protein and can add satisfaction to any meal, snack or smoothie. Just be wary, that many of the natural versions without added oils, sugars or stabilizers must be refrigerated for best quality.

Soy milk – yes, soy milk and soy products are most like milk and dairy when it comes to macronutrient profile of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Plus I happen to think it tastes better than a lot of the other dairy alternatives too! If you’re not a fan of soy, almond milk or coconut milk are fine options, but they will not offer the protein that traditional dairy or soy can provide.

Beans, beans beans – whether canned or dried, beans such as black beans, chickpeas and lentils are a pantry staple that ensure you can make a plant-based version of your favorite burgers and sauces.

Oatmeal – Choose from quick oats, rolled oats or unsweetened steel cut oats for a variety of uses. Traditional breakfast cereals have a lot of added sugar, but when you choose oatmeal, you have an ingredient that makes for a quick breakfast but can also be used in a variety of other dishes too.

Other meat substitutes – Think about tofu and seitan. You may want to pick up a brick for when you’re ready to move beyond beans and edamame!

alternative milk options

Seasonings– Whether you already have a favorite blend or your looking for something new, I highly recommend finding a seasoning mix that you like. Mine is Seasonello. It is an Italian seasoning salt that is amazing on everything from poultry to tofu to veggies. I also recommend trying nutritional yeast if you’re trying to find a cheese replacement! It’s also a good source of B6 and 12!

A really good olive oil – (or two!) Choose a good quality olive oil for most cooking and then select a higher quality extra virgin oil for finishing dishes or dressing salads. A high quality oil can make a big satisfaction impact!

Leafy greens – Spinach, kale, spring mix, arugula are just a few. I suggest a variety of fresh and frozen for versatility!

Starchy vegetables – Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, yucca, corn, peas, and beets. Stock up on these for filling and colorful meals! Many can be found semi prepared in your produce department so you won’t have much prep to do at home!

If you are thinking about going all plant based or vegan, there is more to learn about vitamin B and vitamin D, these nutrients are primarily found from animal sources and may require supplementation. If you have questions or concerns about your unique nutritional needs, speak with your doctor or schedule a consult with a registered dietitian.


About Me

I’m Melanie.

I’m a chef, registered dietitian, foodie, wife and mom.
If you’re looking for quick and healthy meal inspiration that supports your health goals while feeding the rest of your family (including the kiddoes) well, then you’ve come to the right place!

Melanie Marcus Selfie

The perfect texture rich, cozy fall harvest farro salad

When the calendar turns to November, my usual salad just won’t do. I usually turn to warm and comforting foods, but I find that roasted vegetables on top of arugula are just one of those hearty salads that you just want seconds of! I love this as a meal prep lunch for the work week, but it would also be a beautiful and unexpected addition to any Thanksgiving table.

I am the Registered Dietitian for Dole Food Company and they generously covered the cost of ingredients for this recipe.

What is farro?

farro

Farro is an ancient grain that has a nutty flavor and a pleasantly chewy texture when cooked. It looks a lot like barley. The great thing about it is that it doesn’t get mushy, even if you overcook it!

Ingredients you need for Harvest Farro Salad

  • farro
  • red onion
  • sweet potatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt and cinnamon
  • lemon juice
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • honey
  • baby Arugula
  • pomegranate arils
  • pepitas or pumpkin seeds

Tips for putting it all together!

  • Prepare your farro in advance, according to package directions, remove excess liquid once done cooking.
  • Use a rimmed baking sheet, lined with nonstick foil when roasting vegetables.
  • Let the farro and veggies come to room temperature before laying salad.

Substitutions & Additions

  • Instead of sweet potato you could use butternut squash
  • If you don’t have canned mandarins, use fresh!
  • If you don’t have farro you could use barley, wheat berries, quinoa or whole grain brown rice.
  • Carmelized brussels sprouts would be an amazing addition
  • A beautiful garnish would be goat cheese or feta cheese crumbles.
  • If you don’t have pomegranate arils you could always use chopped apple.
  • If you don’t have lemon juice you can use tangy apple cider vinaigrette or vinegar instead!

Nutrition Rundown

While this salad isn’t gluten free because of the farro, it could easily be made without gluten by substituting another whole and hearty grain. Try quinoa!

This recipe is naturally vegan and vegetarian and chock full of antioxidants from ingredients like arugula, pomegranate, sweet potato and pepitas!

Farro is an excellent source of fiber which helps keep us full, but it also helps keep our digestive system regular and happy! It’s also a wonderful source of complex carbohydrates which provides that immediate satisfaction for the brain, but has the added fiber to be a longer burning fuel for the body. Farro also contributes iron and magnesium to the diet.

How to cook farro

I just followed the package instructions which was to use 1 cup dry farro and 2 cups of water. Bring them to a boil and then reduce down to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes until all the water was absorbed.

PRO TIP: rinse your farro after it’s done cooking to prevent further cooking!

What to do with leftover farro

I has leftover farro when preparing this recipe, so if that’s the case with you, here are a few ideas to help you.

  • Serve it like oatmeal with milk and honey
  • Fry it up like fried rice with veggies and an egg or shrimp
  • Add it to salads
  • Use it as a base for a grain bowl
  • Mix into sautéed spinach and garlic

If you like this recipe, be sure to check out my family’s special recipe for creamy balsamic salad dressing. It’s amazing for salads but as a marinade too!

Delicious Autumn Salad

Autumn Harvest Salad

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Salad
Servings 8
Calories 251 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup dry farro rinsed and drained
  • 1 red onion cut into wedes
  • 1 sweet potato cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 cup mandarins in juice
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted pepitas

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 425°F; line a rimmed baking pan with nonstick foil. Prepare farro as label directs; cool.
  • Toss onion, potato, 1 tablespoon oil, ½ teaspoon salt and cinnamon in a large bowl; spread on prepared pan. Roast onion mixture 25 minutes or until golden brown and tender, stirring once.
  • Whisk lemon juice, parsley, honey and remaining 1 teaspoon salt in a separate large bowl; whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in remaining 3 tablespoons oil to emulsify. Fold in arugula, Mandarins, farro and onion mixture. Makes about 7 cups.
  • Serve salad sprinkled with pomegranate arils and pepitas.

Nutrition

Calories: 251kcal
Keyword autumn
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

How to Cut Papaya – Step by Step

While there are all different types of papaya or “pawpaw”, all of them are native to tropical regions such as Central and South America, Mexico, Hawaii. Local grocery stores near me carry Mexican papayas and the brand they had today was Chula Vista. They are large football shaped fruit, weighing about four pounds and are green when unripe. The inside can range from yellow to deep peach or bright orange flesh that has the texture of mango, with the sweet flavor of melon. They also have hundreds of black seeds inside which are normally removed, but don’t worry, they’re edible! Read on for how to cut papaya in different ways and why you want to do it!!

How to choose a papaya at the store

In addition to Mexican papaya, you may also see Hawaiian papaya in the U.S. Either way, they will most likely be green, so just pick one that is heavy for it’s size with clean, unblemished skin. Ripe papaya should have a sweet aroma and papaya skin should hold an impression when squeezed gently. Handle gently to prevent bruising. And beware, fresh papaya will continue to ripen at home. Peak season is late Fall through early Spring. Though, like pineapple, in the US papaya are available and ready to eat year round.

How do you know when it’s ripe?

When you get it home, it will likely need a few days to ripen to a nice yellow color. Unripe papaya is green and should be stored in a cool dry place. I remember my grandfather wrapping it in newspaper and leaving it on the counter in the cool laundry room to become ripe at room temperature.

Papayas are kind of like bananas, where they’re not so sweet when they’re green, but they’re really enjoyable to eat when they’re deep yellow, even slightly spotted.

Papayas are best enjoyed when they are 3/4 yellow. Overripe papaya may blemish and develop soft spots. If this happens, cut it right away.

How to ripen papaya at home

Store green papaya wrapped in newspaper or in a paper bag in a cool dry place for 2-3 days until it is no longer green, and is turning yellow. The more yellow and spotted the papaya, the riper it is. Once it is ripe, or turning yellow, it should be cut. It can be stored in the fridge to stall ripening, if you’re not quite ready to cut it yet.

What you need to start cutting

  • cutting board
  • chef’s knife
  • paring knife
  • spoon
  • optional: vegetable peeler

How to cut your papaya

  1. Remove the paper from your papaya
  2. Rinse under cool running water.
  3. Using a sharp knife, cut the papaya in half, longways.
  4. Then cut off the ends of the papaya.
  5. Using a large spoon, remove the black seeds and discard, or set aside to add to salad dressings for a peppery bite!
  6. At this point you can use a melon baller to scoop out kid friendly rounds!
  7. OR I like to use a chef’s knife to cut into long strips, about 3/4 inch thick. For me, this is the simplest method.
  8. Then use a paring knife to remove the papaya skin along with any black spots
  9. Then I either serve in strips or cut into smaller pieces.

I’ve seen people remove the skin of the fruit with a vegetable peeler, but it can be a little cumbersome. If you want to remove the skin before cutting the fruit halves, I recommend turning the “papaya boat” or half, upside down so the flat side is on the flat surface of the counter top so the slippery fruit is more stable.

What does papaya taste like?

Mexican papaya is firm and juicy, but not quite as intense as Hawaiian papaya, which are much smaller in size.

Papaya has a sweet taste similar to other melons and can have a musky flavor when overripe. If you don’t like the flavor of papaya at room temperature, you may like it chilled.

What do you do with papaya seeds?

The small round black seeds inside the papaya are actually edible! They have a peppery flavor and can easily be incorporated into salad dressings or marinades.

If that doesn’t sound good to you, compost them or discard.

How to serve papaya?

  • Chilled with a little lime juice
  • Chop it into a fruit salad with other tropical fruits such as mango and banana
  • Papaya salsa made with red onion
  • Use papaya halves as their own bowl! Fill them with tuna salad, fruit, yogurt or cottage cheese.
  • Add papaya to salad
  • Consider adding papaya to lunchboxes as an interesting and tasty addition
  • Add to holiday fruit baskets.
  • Add a papaya salad to your brunch spread
  • Pair with grilled meat and seafood for a pop of color and balance.
  • Add papaya to marinades to take advantage of their natural tenderizing properties
  • Cut a papaya to pair with food from Indian cuisines
  • Juice it or add to smoothies!

What flavors go well with papaya?

  • meat
  • poultry
  • smoked meats
  • avocado
  • chilies
  • lime
  • lemon
  • tropical fruits
  • coconut
  • ginger

How to store papaya?

  • Store in an airtight container for several days in the refrigerator.
  • Chunks can also be frozen. I recommend freezing them on a large sheet pan first. Then place frozen chunks in a zip lock bag, remove as much air as possible and then place back in the freezer for up to three months!

How does papaya fit into my macros?

  • Just like most fruit!
  • Make a mental note to fit it into your next regular or low macro days!
  • Portion it out into 1 or 2 cup servings for an easy grab and go lunch!
  • 1 cup : 16g Carb, 2g Fiber, 1g Protein, 1g Fat

Papaya Nutrition

Papaya is low in calories and rich in nutrients and has a lot of health benefits. List most fruit, they’re low in calories and a good source of fiber and other important nutrients.

Just one cup of pieces has…

  • 62 calories
  • 1g protein
  • .5g fat
  • 16g carb
  • 2g fiber
  • 29mg calcium
  • 264mg potassium
  • 53mcg folate
  • 68mcg vit A
  • 88mg vit C
  • 3.77mcg vit K
  • 2650mcg lycopene

And so much more!! 2

They’re high in vitamins A, C, K and folate, fiber and potassium!

They’re also rich in antioxidants carotenoids and phenols.

It also contains an enzyme called papain, which aids digestion.

Papaya was ranked first in a study that compared 40 different fruits for their Dietary Recommended Intake of nine vitamins, potassium and fiber.3

It’s combination of vitamins A and C, fiber and potassium make it a super heart healthy fruit.

Red flesh papaya fruit are a good source of lycopene which is an inactive source of Vitamin A that has been linked with reduced risk for lung, prostate and stomach cancers.1

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/papaya
  2. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169926/nutrients
  3. https://www.amazon.com/Dole-Nutrition-Handbook-Longer-Healthier/dp/1605292958

Simple 3 Ingredient Banana Oatmeal Cookies for the win!

These 3 ingredient banana cookies from Dole Food Company are a #momfavorite. They’re not complicated to make and they have a touch of natural sweetness that satisfies! Plus my daughter loves to get involved with making this easy recipe from start to finish – which means she’s more likely to eat them! Their wholesome ingredients are a natural fit for vegan diets making them the perfect treat. I’ve also heard them referred to as oatmeal breakfast cookies and after trying them they are like a portable and more convenient replacement for your bowl of oatmeal!! Check out the full recipe below!

While I am a full time registered dietitian with Dole Food Company, this post is not sponsored in anyway!

Jump to Recipe

On breakfast cookies as a dietitian…

healthy cookie

These cookies are a major win. They’re packed with nutrient dense foods like rolled oats, nut butter of choice and bananas! Let’s go over the nutrition benefits of each:

  • Rolled Oats – These complex carbohydrates are full of fiber which is known for slowing digestion. It also helps stabilize blood glucose levels avoiding spikes in blood sugar. Research consistently shows that fiber slows digestion and helps us feel fuller- for longer too! These carbs also help fuel the brain making these healthy cookies a perfect morning treat!
  • Nut Butter – Especially a single ingredient peanut butter is the perfect combo of fiber, protein and health promoting fats. Research suggests that those who eat peanut butter at breakfast tend to eat less for up to 12 hours afterwards! In general, when looking for peanut butter, avoid those with hydrogenated oils and added sugars.
  • Bananas – These household staples are a powerhouse for nutrition. Known for their potassium content, one medium banana provides 9% or 422mg which offers major heart health benefits and can help support a healthy blood pressure. Among other things, they also have a decent amount of soluble and insoluble fiber which support heart and gut health respectively!

Making breakfast cookies from the culinary perspective…

Like I said, these aren’t complicated to make, but that’s what makes them so great! All you need are three ingredients, mix them together and then bake! They’re so easy to make, even a child can do it!

Do I have to used rolled oats?

There are three main types of oats. Steel cut, rolled and quick oats.

Steel cut are hearty, filling and nuttier that rolled or quick. But they will not work in this recipe. Steel cut oats are the shape of little pellets and will not absorb enough liquid from the bananas and peanut butter to make a proper batter.

Rolled are convenient and often called for in baking recipes. I like the texture rolled oats give this recipe, but quick oats will work well too!

About the bananas

  • Overripe bananas, either fresh are frozen are the star ingredient.
  • If you’re going with fresh bananas – make sure they are overripe for the sweetest cookie! In general, the more blemished and ripe the better! This is the perfect recipe to keep on hand when your bananas are turning spotted. Bananas are sweetest at this stage!
  • Use frozen! This is totally fine to do, just caution you may have a bit more liquid than if you use room temperature bananas. So if the dough feels extra sticky add 1-2T additional tbsp oats.

What are the best type of oats?

  • This recipe uses rolled oats because I think they provide a great texture.
  • You can use quick cooking oats too! They will just absorb more liquid during the baking process.
  • I don’t recommend substituting oat flour for the rolled oats in this recipe. The amounts would have to be tweaked for it to be a successful banana cookie recipe.

When it comes to the PEANUT BUTTER…

  • If you want something slightly sweeter, then use traditional peanut butter like Skippy or Jif that tend to have added sugars. Normally, I would suggest avoiding added sugars from a nut butter, but in this case the sugar makes for a great tasting three ingredient cookie!
  • If you’re trying to limit added sugar, I recommend using an all natural peanut butter. Look for one that has simple ingredients. There are many that have a single ingredient: peanuts!
  • This recipe will work with any nut butter that you have on hand. You can use creamy peanut butter or chunky varieties of cashew, peanut, or seed butter. Almond butter works well too!

Chewy vs Crispy?

  • If you want them chewier, I suggest cooking them about 12 minutes.
  • I like them a bit crispier so I go 15-17 minutes.

Optional add-ins

Get creative with your add-ins! These breakfast cookies are really delicious on their own, but they’re so easy to customize for your taste. There are plenty of options to experiment with. Try these versions!

  • Add 1/2 cup mini dark chocolate chips to the dough before portioning out, or just sprinkle a few on top of each one for a little hint of chocolate.
  • Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon to the dough.
  • Sprinkle with Monkfruit sweetener or brown sugar before baking for an added touch of sweetness.
  • Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt before baking to play up the sweet and savory balance.
  • Add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pepitas.
  • Add 1/4 cup ground flax seeds to the dough for heart healthy fats.

Helpful tips

  • I don’t recommend adding sugar like maple syrup or honey as it will make the dough wetter. But you could add 1-2tsp if you’re hoping this cookie recipe will solve your sweet tooth cravings! Just be prepared with added 1-2T rolled oats.
  • If you want to make a double batch, I recommend combining ingredients separately for best results.
  • I recommend rolling these into balls or using a small ice cream scoop to get even sized cookies. Then pat them down with your fingers to get that traditional cookie shape. The cookie dough won’t spread out or flatten during the cooking process.
  • Bake cookies until the top is slightly golden. And they are quite forgiving even if you over bake them!
  • Store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days. When we make a batch they never last more than a day or two!

Other tools you need…

  • parchment paper – use it to line your baking sheet for easy clean up.
  • large mixing bowl – for mixing
  • cookie sheet – for baking
  • I like to mix these by hand, but you could always use a food processor if you want a fairly smooth consistency.

As a mom…

I use this recipe as a healthy cookie or activity for my daughter to make from start to finish. She peels the bananas (if we are using fresh), and then mashes away!! I help measure the peanut butter and then we add the rolled oats together. She’s able to mix everything together on her own which is a huge confidence builder!

Next, I line the baking sheet and show her how to use a small ice cream scoop to portion out equal size balls. We then pull out the mini chocolate chips for an extra special little topping as we press down the cookies to a flat disc shape together.

We made these cookies just this past weekend. It was raining and I think we had all had reached our limit for screen-time and just needed a change of scenery. I knew I had bananas that needed to be frozen or used, and we always have some kind of nut butter and oats, so we were golden. Twenty minutes later we had cookies (and breakfast for tomorrow!). It’s really the perfect activity for kids. The total time commitment is very low!

Tracking Macros?

  • Be sure to divide batter into 12 even cookies.
  • Each cookie has 106 calories, 6g Fat, 10g Carbohydrate, 3g Fiber and 3g Protein.

I feel like the coolest mom when Jules exclaims “I can’t believe we’re having cookies for breakfast!”

When do I make 3 Ingredient Banana Oatmeal Cookies?

  • Make them for a quick breakfast (EVEN DURING THE WEEK) to enjoy at home or on the go! They’re the perfect portable version of oatmeal.
  • They’re my go-to guilt free after dinner treat especially when we top them with dark chocolate!
  • When the kids are looking for something sweet and I want them to have a healthy dessert.
  • Make them with sun butter for an allergy friendly lunch box snack.
  • Anytime we need a quick healthy snack.
Banana Oatmeal Cookie

3 Ingredient Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Dole Food Company
Developed by Dole Food Company, this recipe is one of my favorites!!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Servings 12
Calories 106 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 each bananas
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Mash bananas in a medium bowl with the back of a fork; whisk in peanut butter. Stir in oats and optional add-ins, if desired; using 2 small spoons, drop about 1 heaping tablespoon dough 2 inches apart on prepared pan.
  • Bake cookies 12 minutes or until lightly browned; cool on pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 12 cookies.
  • Tips: You can add mini chocolate chips, chopped fruit or nuts or even ground cinnamon to make these a bit fancier!

Nutrition

Calories: 106kcal
Keyword banana, easy
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

The Vegan (Carrot) Hot Dog Your Kids Will Love!

Does it feel like your kids are just eating hot dogs and chicken nuggets? This is my life right now! As a dietitian I know it’s totally normal for kids to get stuck in a rut with food, but as a dietitian mom, I cringe a little bit inside every time we feed our children hot dogs, even if we do switch it up with turkey dogs every now and then. But this is life. Kids like what they like, and it’s okay to include traditional “kid food” as part of the meal rotation because this is how they learn balance and moderation. Plus, they’re more likely to try new foods, when familiar foods that they like are on the plate. So is there a healthy hot dog out there? YES! Check out this carrot dog!!

Jump to Recipe

That said.  The all American favorite hotdog happens to be a source of saturated fats and sodium, which usually isn’t a problem for children- but having them on a more frequent basis doesn’t exactly lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating.  This is why I was thrilled to develop this healthy hot dog recipe with Dole Food Company. Ingredients were provided for me, but all of the opinions are my own.

These Southwest Carrot Dogs, a healthy hot dog alternative, and a kid food favorite, are an ideal substitute for hot dogs!  Bonus – my children both approved!  You could even just make the marinated hotdogs without the side salad for an easy plant-forward vegan bbq option. 

It’s recommended that children, just like adults make half of their plate fruits and vegetable at mealtimes.  Orange and red vegetables should make the plate several times a week because in general they’re an excellent source of vitamin A.2 They support eye and skin health and help keep our immune system at peak performance.

Carrot Nutrition

One large carrot has about 48 calories, 1g protein, 10g carbohydrate and 3g fiber!4

They’re an excellent source of vitamin K and Fiber.

They’re a good source of vitamins B6, C and E, folate, niacin, potassium and manganese.

One 2011 study published in the Nutrition Journal found that carrot juice increased antioxidant levels in participants. Authors concluded it may offer protection to the cardiovascular system.3

Why Vitamin A is important: 

  • Like vitamins C and E it appears to scavenge free radicals, offering antioxidant protection.
  • Adequate levels of vitamin A are associated with a lower risk of cancer and heart disease1.
  • It’s essential to eyesight!  Vitamin A helps us to react to changes in brightness and it also helps us see different colors. 
  • On a cellular level, it helps cells become highly specialized – which is a really good thing. 

Vitamin C and potassium are often also found in red/orange fruits and vegetables.  Vitamin C supports healthy teeth and gums, helps with iron absorption and is important to be sure scrapes and cuts heal properly and quickly.  Potassium is a nutrient of concern for most people and helps counter the effects of sodium.  It also helps us maintain healthy blood pressure. 


Which are better?  Raw or cooked carrots?

Raw baby carrots are a go-to snack for me with hummus or other dip, but I remind myself that cooked carrots provide greater amounts of vitamin A because cooking them (as we do with this carrot dog) helps break down cell walls to make it more easily absorbed in the body! Pureeing, chopping into soups and carrot juice are particularly good options.

If carrots aren’t up your alley, other vitamin A-rich foods to try include: 

Jump to Recipe
  • Acorn squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Red bell peppers
  • Sweet potato
  • Tomatoes

What did I learn from making this recipe? 

It’s super easy.  Marinade and grill.  That’s it. 

The only change I made with the carrot dog was to use Mrs. Dash No Salt Added Steak Seasoning.  Regular steak seasoning has a lot of salt.  This swap keeps the added salt to a minimum. 

You can totally make the marinade in advance to keep things easy the day of entertaining, but it’ll also work if you marinade that morning for an afternoon grill out. 


Keep these ingredients in your pantry to whip these vegan healthy hot dogs together anytime! 

  • Pineapple juice
  • Lower sodium soy sauce
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Avocado oil
  • No salt added steak seasoning
  • Liquid smoke

Liquid smoke wasn’t as difficult to find as I thought it would be. My local Food Lion grocery store had it right next to the BBQ sauce section.

Jump to Recipe

Do I need the liquid smoke to make the carrot dog marinade?

I say yes. You’re going for a hot dog flavor then this is going to deliver it. It’s a unique product that I don’t use frequently in my cooking, but I would use it again. It’s not too overpowering and does create a HUGE impact with flavor!

Are the healthy hot dogs Vegan or Gluten Free (GF)?

This carrot dog (aka healthy hotdog) is vegan. Marinade ingredients are all naturally vegan, but read labels when purchasing products to confirm.

This vegan bbq superstar could also easily be made gluten free, you would just need to use a GF soy sauce like tamari instead. There are also GF brands of liquid smoke – like Stubbs, so be sure to read labels if this is a new ingredient for you! And of course, use a GF bun.

Note the Dole Salad kit does not state on package that it is gluten free or vegan.

Vegan Hot Dog

Southwest Carrot Dog

Dole Food Company
This plant forward option for the classic hotdog from Dole Food Company can't be beat!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Servings 8 people
Calories 279 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 8 large DOLE®Carrots peeled, ends trimmed to length of hot dog buns
  • 1/2 cup DOLE®Pineapple Juice
  • 1/2 cup less-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 plus 3T cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp steak seasoning I like Mrs. Dash no salt added
  • 3/4 tsp liquid smoke
  • 8 each 100% whole wheat hot dog buns
  • 1 bag DOLE®Southwest Salad Kit
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn thawed
  • 1 each DOLE®Avocado peeled,pitted and chopped

Instructions
 

  • Heat carrots and enough water to cover by 2 inches to a boil in a medium saucepot over high heat; boil 8 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain and rinse carrots under cold running water until cool; pat dry and place in a large zip-top plastic bag.
  • Whisk juice, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, seasoning and liquid smoke in a medium bowl; pour over carrots. Seal bag, pressing out excess air; massage carrots in bag to coat and refrigerate at least 4 or up to 24 hours.
  • Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling over medium heat. Remove carrots from marinade; reserve ¼ cup marinade. Spray carrots with cooking spray and place on hot grill rack; cover and cook 10 minutes or until heated through and grill marks appear, brushing with reserved marinade and turning ¼ turn every 2½ minutes. During last minute of cooking, place buns, cut side down, on hot grill rack; cover and cook 1 minute or until lightly toasted.
  • Prepare Salad Kit as package directs in a large bowl; stir in beans and corn. Makes about 4 cups.
  • Serve carrots in buns topped with salad mixture and avocado.

Nutrition

Calories: 279kcal
Keyword kid friendly, plant forward, vegetarian
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Let me know if you try this recipe. I bet it’ll make your family take a second look to realize their eating a carrot dog and not a hot dog!!

Kid approved carrot dog!!

Did your kids like carrots?

They’re great tasting on their own but can be combined with other flavors well too! Try adding them to a vegetable stir fry, another kid food favorite, for additional nutrients. If you try this healthy hot dog please let me know!

  1.  Janice Thompson and Melinda Manore, Nutrition An Applied Approach.  (New York: Pearson Education Inc, 2009). 
  2. https://www.myplate.gov/life-stages/kids
  3. Tonia Reinhard, Super Foods. (Firefly Books, 2014).
  4. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2258586/nutrients