Vegetarian Valentine’s Day

Asparagus Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese, Lentil and Pomegranate Salad with Parsley, Cumin, and Coriander, and Multigrain Toast

Is it just me, or did Ash Wednesday come particularly early this year? Because I work with students with special diets, because I value plant based diets and their effect on the environment as well as the food system, and because giving up grilled chicken and fish for so long will be a sacrifice, I decided to go vegetarian during Lent. And since the Liturgical Calendar seems to be ahead of itself this year, this means that I am celebrating a Vegetarian Valentine’s Day.

My meal consists of Asparagus Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese, Lentil and Pomegranate Salad with Parsley, Cumin, and Coriander, and a warm slice of Multigrain Toast.

Asparagus Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese, Lentil and Pomegranate Salad with Parsley, Cumin, and Coriander, and Multigrain Toast

Asparagus Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese: I used this recipe from Giada’s new cookbook, Weeknights with Giada. I left out the leek and butter, because I don’t know what a leek is and was too embarrassed to ask at the grocery store (maybe next time). This cookbook has some great looking healthy recipes, and I’m very thankful that my brothers gave it to me for Christmas this year 🙂

Lentil and Pomegranate Salad with Parsley, Cumin, and Coriander: I used this recipe that I found on Pinterest (of course!) It tastes great chilled, and seems like it would be a great dish to bring to a potluck because it would travel so well.

I made both recipes simultaneously, and the whole meal came together in under an hour. Not bad!

– Kelly


Healthy Valentine’s Day Menu

It’s almost that time of year! Instead of spoiling your loved ones with sugary treats that could lead to upset stomachs and dental carries, show them that you care by cooking some extra special, wholesome meals. Here is an entire day’s menu of healthy Valentine’s meals. The images are meant to inspire you, while the accompanying text will guide you through how to keep each meal nutritious. Enjoy!

Breakfast: Heart Shaped Pancakes

Healthy Valentines Breakfast

Image 1 via More Design Please, Image 2 via a pretty cool life

You can get these lovely heart shaped pancakes by using a squeeze bottle, cookie cutters, or even a plastic sandwich baggie with a snipped off corner. Serve with fresh fruit and a protein source (such as Greek yogurt, low fat cottage cheese, or scrambled eggs). Make sure that you are using a whole grain pancake mix, such as one of these below.

Healthy Pancake Mixes

1) Bob’s Red Mill 10 Grain Pancake & Waffle Mix, 2) Kodiak Cakes Frontier Flapjack and Waffle Mix – Whole Wheat Oat and Honey, 3) Hodgson Mill Multigrain Buttermilk Pancake Mix with Milled Flax Seed & Soy

Lunch: LOVELY Sandwiches

Healthy Valentines Lunches

Image via Lisa Storms

The possibilities with this one are endless! I love the balance with the fruits, veggies, and nuts. Just be sure to aim for a whole grain bread.

Snack: Heart Fruit Kabobs

Heart Fruit

Image 1 via, Image 2 via

A great set of cookie cutters goes a long way! Feel free to serve with either low fat or nonfat yogurt or cottage cheese on the side.

Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup for the SOUL MATE + HEARTS of Palm Salad

Valentines Dinner

Image 1 via Recipe by Photo, Image 2 via Paula Deen

This link has a great tutorial on how to make the heart shaped carrots. For a basic chicken noodle soup recipe, start here. I also like the one in my new Ellie Krieger cookbook. Paula Deen’s Hearts of Palm Salad with strawberries and spinach looks great as is, but hearts of romaine and heart shaped veggies (such as cucumber slices) would also make for a special thematic treat.

Dessert: Healthy Red Velvet Cupcakes


Image via the Berry

It just wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without something sweet. I love the look of these X’s and O’s cupcakes. Instead of sugar laden box cake mixes, try this winning Red Velvet Cake recipe from the New York Times, which includes whole grain flour, cherries, apple sauce, and beets, among other healthy ingredients. Also on my list of healthy Valentine’s Day desserts to try is this Chocolate Beet Cake with Beet Cream Cheese Icing, and these Gluten Free + Vegan Red Velvet Brownies.

For more heart shaped food inspiration, check out this page on Pinterest. What will you be making this Valentine’s Day?

– Kelly

Butternut Squash Chicken Quesadillas + Butternut Squash & Apple Soup


Whole grain quesadilla with butternut squash, kale, chicken, and Monterrey Jack cheese

As soon as I saw this Butternut Squash and Kale Quesadilla recipe from the Pioneer Woman, I knew that I had to give it my own healthy twist. As a newbie to butternut squash, I was also inspired to try a great looking soup recipe (Butternut Squash and Apple) from my Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook. For those of you new to Butternut Squash, I highly recommend looking at the Pioneer Woman’s step by step tutorial on how to chop it (easier said than done!). Otherwise, slice it in half and roast it in the oven before attempting to peel & chop (this is my method).

Butternut Squash Chicken Quesadillas

Whole grain quesadilla with chicken, kale, butternut squash, and Monterrey Jack cheese

Healthy whole grain quesadilla with chicken, butternut squash, kale, and Monterrey Jack cheese

I decided to add chicken to the Pioneer Woman’s recipe to make them more filling and protein packed. I also discovered these awesome multigrain tortillas from Trader Joe’s to use. They are pretty large tortillas (nutritionally equivalent to about 2 small slices of whole grain bread), so 1 tortilla folded in half produces 1 quesadilla . Lastly, I oven roasted the butternut squash, rather than pan frying it in butter (for obvious health reasons).

Butternut Squash Chicken Quesadilla (serves 1)


  • 1 large (about 1.5-2 oz)
    whole grain tortilla (such as Trader Joe’s Whole Grain Flour Tortillas with Rolled Oats and Flax Seeds, pictured below)
  • 1/3 cup
    Butternut Squash, cubed and cooked
  • 1/4 cup
    Shredded Chicken (white meat, no skin)
  • 1/3 cup
    Leafy Greens (I have had success with both fresh arugula and frozen kale, both pictured below)
  • 1/4 cup
    Shredded Part skim Mozzarella cheese (gouda or jack would be great too!)

Cooking Directions

  1. Make sure that all of your ingredients are prepared and ready. If you are starting with raw chicken breast, bake it in the oven. Store bought rotisserie chicken would work in this recipe as well. If you are starting with raw butternut squash, I recommend cutting it in half and then oven roasting it, before cutting the squash into small cubes.
  2. Place your tortilla on a nonstick skillet. Fold the tortilla in half to create a crease, and then lay it back open on the skillet.
  3. Layer the greens, butternut squash, chicken and cheese onto one half of the tortilla. Then fold the other half over and hold it closed with your spatula if need be.
  4. Now turn the stove onto medium high heat. Continue holding the quesadilla closed with your spatula if it doesn’t stay shut on its own.
  5. Cook on the same side until the cheese begins to melt. Use the spatula to lift a corner of the quesadilla.
  6. Peek and make sure that the bottom tortilla is sufficiently browned, and then flip the quesadilla onto the other side.
  7. Cook for just a few minutes more to brown the other side.
  8. Transfer to a plate and serve immediately. Serves 1.

Nutrition: 247 calories, 6.3g fat (1g saturated), 30mg cholesterol, 405mg sodium, 267mg potassium, 29g carbohydrates (6g fiber, 2g sugar), 16g protein, 168% Vitamin A, 20% Vitamin C, 28% Calcium, 10% Iron

Nutrition Facts estimated via My Fitness Pal using ingredients below.

Butternut Squash Chicken Quesadillas

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

I followed this recipe for Butternut Squash and Apple Soup from from the Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook (page 221). Unfortunately, my food processor gave out so I had to puree the soup little by little in my knock-off Magic Bullet… quite a lengthy process!

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

In the end, it was worth it. I am a huge fan of Ina Garten! Her recipes always turn out delicious, and her TV show has an understated elegance that I can’t get enough of. Coming from her, this soup is surprisingly healthy. I took both the butter & oil down from 2 Tablespoons to 1 Tablespoon, but other than that, I followed the recipe to a T. See below for all of the wholesome ingredients that I used.

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

Ina Garten’s Butternut Squash and Apple Soup: Makes about 12 1-cup servings. Nutrition facts estimated via My Fitness Pal.

Nutrition (per 1 cup serving): 102 calories, 2.2 g fat (0.7g saturated), 8.8mg sodium (I didn’t add salt), 347mg potassium, 20.3g carbohydrates (1g, 11.5g sugar), 1.2g protein, 201% Vitamin A, 28% Vitamin C, 5.4% Calcium, 4.0% Iron

I still have one small butternut squash left. Here are some other recipes that are catching my eye. Which one would you choose?

Check out other seasonal recipes on my Winter Recipes Pinterest page.


Slow Cooker Brunswick Stew


Healthy Slow Cooker Brunswick Stew

I was first introduced to delicious Brunswick stew at The Brickstore Pub in Decatur, Georgia. This sweet and savory stew is hearty and filling, and the perfect recipe to come home to after a long fall day. I took this recipe and made it extra healthy by increasing the vegetable content and omitting excess sugar and butter. A side salad or kale chips make this a meal! (Mine is pictured with the seeded 7-grain bread from Clear Flour)

Healthy Slow Cooker Brunswick Stew

Slow Cooker Brunswick Stew, a healthy take on this recipe

Serves 9 (Makes about nine 1 1/2 cup servings)


  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 small new potatoes, chopped (I used 2 red and 2 golden)
  • 1 pound package frozen lima beans
  • 1 pound package frozen corn
  • 1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (I used Stubbs Original)
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder


  1. Add all ingredients to a 6 quart slow cooker, stir, and cook on low for 10 hours (or high for 5-6 hours). After cooking, shred any remaining large pieces of pork and stir before serving.

Healthy Slow Cooker Brunswick Stew

Nutrition per serving (1 1/2 cups): 233 calories, 2.6g fat (0.6g saturated), 32.8mg cholesterol, 287mg sodium, 37.8g carbohydrates (5g fiber, 10.6g sugar), 18.4g protein, 6.2% Vitamin A, 37.8% Vitamin C, 6.9% Calcium, 12.1% Iron

Nutrition Facts were estimated using the following ingredients: