Curried Lentil Potato Soup

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My 3 year old has strange tastes. Not like a “he eats watermelon with ketchup” weird (though he does that too) but like, he doesn’t like buttered noodles. What child doesn’t like buttered noodles?? I swear he doesn’t like them just to be contrary because what’s simpler than buttered noodles when you are in a hurry for a meal. Anyways, one type of noodle that he does love is noodles that have been cooked in curry and turmeric, which is how I came upon this soup.

That said, the noodles are totally optional. I think they add a nice balance to make this soup a bit thicker and less broth-y, but if the potatoes are plenty for you that’s great and saves you a few minutes on cook time.

Start by dicing 1/2 an onion, 1 cup of celery (2-3 stalks), and 1 cup of carrots (~2 carrots). Place these in a soup pot with a bit of oil and saute for about 5 minutes. Add 1 tsp turmeric and 1 tsp curry powder. Cook until fragrant, about another 5 minutes.

Yes, I need a new soup pot.

Add 8 cups of broth, 2/3 cup of rinsed lentils, and the diced potatoes. In regards to the potatoes, I used 2 russet potatoes this time but I’ve made it with 4 little red potatoes before. Either works. Bring the soup to a boil and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes, add 1 cup of small pasta (I used elbows) and cook for another 10 minutes before serving.

Curried Lentil Potato Soup


  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 2/3 cup brown lentils
  • 2 russet potatoes (or 4 red potatoes)
  • 1 cup of small pasta (I used elbows)


  1. Dice onion, celery and carrots. Place these in a large soup pot with a bit of oil and saute for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add 1 tsp turmeric and 1 tsp curry powder and allow this to cook with the veggies for another 5 minutes or so.
  3. Add 8 cups vegetable broth, 2/3 cup lentils, and diced potatoes. Bring broth to a boil. Once boiling drop the temperature to medium to allow it to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add 1 cup of pasta, cook for another 10 minutes, or until the pasta is fully cooked.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

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When I was pregnant with my second, I prepared a whole bunch of healthy snacks and lunches that are easy to eat one handed in preparation for being alone with two kids full time. My mother-in-law made us a few loaves of zucchini bread also. That’s where the inspiration for this recipe came from.

What she makes us is definitely delicious, but is pretty high in added sugar. While these still have added sugar it has been cut down a good bit. Frankly, I’ll take a bit of added sugar if it get my kid to eat and touch some vegetables once in a while. He helps me make these so is aware of the fact the there is zucchini in them and likes to help grate it. Exposure is key, right?

After a bit of trial and error, these muffins turned out great. They have a wonderful texture, which I find difficult to maintain when using applesauce in a baked good, and a good amount of fluff to make a nice rounded top on the muffin. One note about the flavor: the recipe uses the Crockpot Applesauce, which thankfully has no added sugar, but I also find Crockpot Applesauce has much more flavor than store bought. So while you can absolutely use store bought applesauce, the flavor of the muffin may not be as strong.

Start by preheating your oven to 350. In a food processor, place 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of oats, 1/2 a cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of applesauce, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 cup of grated zucchini (with excess moisture removed), 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Blend this until smooth. Add a 1/3 cup of chocolate chips and pulse once or twice.

Prepare a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Fill each cup with about a 1/3 cup of batter, they should be pretty full. Place in your oven for 20 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean when tested. They are best kept in the fridge and they can be frozen for 2-3 months. They reheat well in the microwave also.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (see note above about Crockpot Applesauce recommendation)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup grated zucchini (with excess moisture removed)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Place all ingredients, except chocolate chips, into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add chocolate chips and pulse a few times to combine.
  2. Prepare a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Add about 1/3 cup of batter to each cup. They should be pretty full.
  3. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean when tested.

Best Ever “From Scratch” Spaghetti

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I’ve already talked about my dislike of jarred pasta sauce in Veggie Loaded Pasta Sauce recipe, but I’ll admit some nights even cutting vegetables is more work than I really want to put into dinner and “from scratch” is loosely used in this recipe. This spaghetti hits the spot. I feel silly even writing this recipe because it’s spaghetti…like not complicated, nothing overly exciting, but it was delicious enough that it was a GOOD dinner with great nutritional benefits, thanks to the lentils and cauliflower, and not half assed which is how I feel with most spaghetti nights.

Again, I feel silly writing this recipe but here we go. First start your lentils, add 1 cup of water and a rinsed 1/3 cup of red lentils to a small sauce pot. Bring this to boil. Once it’s boiling, drop the temp to medium for 15 minutes. Meanwhile boil a large pot of water, once this starts boiling, add 1/2 a box of spaghetti and 16 oz of frozen cauliflower. Boil for 10-12 minutes. Drain when it’s done and move the spaghetti and cauliflower back to the same pot and add in the cooked lentils.

Add 28 oz crushed tomatoes, 1 tsp Italian seasonings, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp parmesan, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast, a bit of salt and pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir well and serve! Seriously so basic, but so good. Doctoring up your own pasta sauce it a great way to increase the nutritional benefits with minimal effort. Note about the lentils: you can totally use green or brown lentils instead. However, the red lentils break down much more which is what I like about adding them to spaghetti. They are barely noticeable but are such a great nutritional powerhouse.

Best Ever “From Scratch” Spaghetti


  • 1/2 box of spaghetti
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup red lentils (rinsed)
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 16 oz bag of frozen cauliflower
  • 1 tsp Italian seasonings
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp parmesan
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of red pepper flakes


  1. In a small sauce pot, boil 1 cup of water with 1/3 cup of rinsed red lentils. Once this is boiling, bring the temp down to medium and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boiling, then add spaghetti and frozen cauliflower. Let this boil for 10-12 minutes.
  3. When done, drain the cauliflower and spaghetti. Add the spaghetti, cauliflower, and lentils into the large pot. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Let this simmer on medium low heat for 5-10 min to heat through.

Chickpea Nuggets

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I wish I could say I made these for my 3 year old, but apparently I have the only 3 year old in the world who won’t eat nuggets in practically any form. No idea why, the only nugget like food he eats is those Dr. Praeger’s spinach dinosaur bites. Granted they are delicious, so I understand why. Maybe that’ll have to go on the list for things to try to replicate at home.

So after much trial and error, I’ve finally got these so they have enough flavor, aren’t crumbly and have a crunch on the outside but softness in the middle. Now, full disclosure, I think any chickpea blend has the potential to be crumbly and making sure you start with the right texture will make a difference. These hold up though, they don’t break apart and I only lost crumbles in ketchup.

Simple process to make them. Drain and rinse 2 (15 oz) cans of chickpeas, put these in a food processor along with the following ingredients: 2 diced carrots, 1/2 tsp garlic, 1 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 1/2 tsp dried cilantro, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 eggs, 2 tbsp bread crumbs, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast. Blend well. Your texture should be similar to hummus but a little grittier. A small amount of un-chopped carrot or chickpea at the top of the food processor is okay, but you want the majority of it to be well blended. If you’re having trouble getting it to blend well, add 1 tbsp of water at a time and blend again. Add more water as needed to get the desired consistency.

Good example of desired texture. Left side: Hummus like, Right side: a little grittier with some pieces of carrot and chickpea. Once stirred together, it balances out to the right texture.

Take the blade out of your food processor and begin shaping your nuggets. You will want to use about golf ball sized amounts of the blend. Place them on a prepared baking sheet (strongly recommend parchment paper or a silpat mat) and gently press down with your finger tips to form the nugget shape. Depending on the size of each nugget you should end up with 15-20 nuggets.

My baking sheets are clean but well loved/used. Ignore that & enjoy your chickpea nuggets.

Preheat your oven to 425. Place each baking sheet in for 20 minutes, flip, then bake for another 10 – 15 minutes. They should be easy to lift when you flip them after the 20 minutes. There will likely be a light brown layer on the bottom after flipping (as seen below). If they don’t flip easily, give them another couple minutes and try again. After the second round in the oven, the chickpea nuggets are all done and ready to serve!

Chickpea Nuggets

Makes 15-20 nuggets


  • 2 (15 oz) cans of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 diced carrots
  • 1/2 tsp garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2-4 tbsp of water


  1. Drain and rinse both cans of chickpeas. Add the chickpeas to a food processor. Add all remaining ingredients except water. The texture should be similar to hummus on the bottom of the food processor. It’s okay if there is a bit of un-chopped chickpea or carrot on top. If you are having trouble getting the food processor to blend well, add 1 tbsp of water and blend again. Continue adding water 1 tbsp at a time until you get the desired consistency (see pic above).
  2. Remove the blade, preheat your oven to 425, and being forming your nuggets. Using golf ball sized handfuls, place these on a prepared baking sheet (parchment paper or silpat mat). Lightly press down with your finger tips to create the shape.
  3. Place baking sheets in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, flip each nugget and bake for 10-15 more minutes. The bottoms should create a nice crust within the first 20 minutes and should be easy to flip. After the second round in the oven, they are ready to serve!
  4. Note: If you have trouble flipping or they start to break when you try to flip, put it back in the oven for a few minutes so that crust can form and try again.

Cabbage and Barley Soup

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This is a recipe based off one my mom originally made. I can’t say I’ve made anything with cabbage in the past 10 years of cooking. It’s just not something that I ever think of to use but it works perfectly in this soup. I’ll admit, it’s a bit of a longer cook time than most things I cook as well, at about an hour or so. However, it’s full of flavor, filled with great vegetables and makes tons of left overs so you have to cook less during the week so that’s a win!

Begin by dicing a whole onion, 2 stalks of celery, and 2 carrots (I used 8 baby carrots). Place these in a large soup pot with 1/2 a tsp of garlic and a dollop of oil. Saute this for about 5-10 minutes until the onions are translucent.

Add 8 cups of broth, 15 oz diced tomatoes, 1 bouillon cube, 1 tsp of Italian seasonings, and 1/2 a head of finely chopped cabbage. For the cabbage, I make very thin slices at an angle throughout the half head of cabbage. If it’s a wider cut, I just cut it in half then. After adding the above ingredients, bring the soup to boiling, then drop the temperature to simmering. Let the cabbage cook down for about 10-15 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of barley and 2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables. Let this simmer for 45 minutes or until barley is fully cooked.

Cabbage and Barley Soup


  • 1 onion
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 tsp garlic
  • olive oil
  • 8 cups of vegetable broth
  • 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 tsp Italian seasonings
  • 1/2 a head of cabbage
  • 1/2 cup of barley
  • 2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables


  1. Dice onion, celery, and carrot. Place these in a large soup pot with 1/2 tsp garlic and a bit of olive oil. Saute the veggies until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add 15 oz of diced tomatoes, 8 cups of vegetable broth, 1 vegetable bouillon cube, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, 1/2 a head of finely diced cabbage.
  3. Bring the soup to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once the soup is boiling, turn the heat to medium and allow the cabbage to cook down for about 10-15 minutes.
  4. After the cabbage has cooked down a bit, add 1/2 a cup of barley and 2 cups of frozen mixed vegetable. Allow this to simmer for about 45 minutes.

TVP Sloppy Joe’s

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Texturized Vegetable Protein is one of my favorite products as a vegetarian. It is a simple replacement in meals that are usually meat based and it is full of great nutrients which can be difficult to replace in a vegetarian diet. In just a 1/4 cup, there’s 13g of protein and 10% DV of iron.

TVP can be difficult to find depending on the area you live in, but it’s usually available through Bob’s Red Mill site or Thrive Market. If you are checking in the grocery store, it should be in the health food/organic section, near polenta or almond flour.

This is one of the first meals I created after becoming a vegetarian and one that we have probably once or twice a month because it’s so simple and family friendly. It goes well with all kinds of sides so its easy to mix it up.

First dice up 1/2 an onion and one bell pepper. Throw the onion, bell pepper, and one tsp minced garlic into a large skillet with a tsp or two of olive oil. Saute the onion, bell pepper, and garlic over medium to high heat for about 5 to 10 minutes until the onion is translucent and the bell pepper has softened a bit.

Drop temperature to medium low. Add 1 cup of TVP to the skillet with 15 oz of tomato sauce, 1/2 cup of vegetable broth, 2 tbsp of tomato paste, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a dash of oregano, salt and pepper and 2 tsp of Annie’s (vegan) Worcestershire sauce (you can use any brand but some brands have anchovies, so that’s up to you). Stir and combine well. Let mixture sit on low to medium heat stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes until it has thickened and warmed through.

Serve on burger buns or kaiser rolls, with some starchy sides and vegetables.

TVP Sloppy Joe’s

Serves: 6


  • 1 medium bell pepper
  • ½ an onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic 
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP)
  • 15 oz canned tomato sauce
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp Annie’s (Vegan) Worcestershire sauce (or any brand, see note above)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • dash of oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 hamburger buns or kaiser rolls
  • 6 slice of cheddar cheese (optional)


  1. Dice bell pepper and 1/2 an onion. Saute onion, pepper and garlic over medium high heat until peppers are tender, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add 1 cup of TVP, 15 oz canned tomato sauce, ½ cup of vegetable broth, 2 tbsp tomato paste, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a dash of oregano, salt and pepper, and 2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce to the skillet. Stir to combine.
  3.  Reduce heat to medium low. Let mixture simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened.
  4. Serve on roll of choice with or without cheese. 

Veggie Loaded Pasta Sauce

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I stopped buying store bought pasta sauce a few years ago and instead buy crushed tomatoes. I did this for a few reasons. 1) It’s crazy expensive considering how much you get. Jarred pasta sauce costs almost $2 a jar for 24 oz, a can of crushed tomatoes costs $0.88 for 28 oz. 2) Store bought is significantly higher in sodium, sugar, carbs, and calories. Jar sauce tends to have about 480 mg of sodium (compared to 110 mg), 9g of sugar (compared to 2g), 13g of carbs (compared to 5g), and 88 calories per 1/2 cup (compared to 50 for crushed tomatoes). This obviously will vary from brand to brand. 3) I mostly stopped buying it because I find store bought too sweet and didn’t really enjoy it. Also, I’m cheap and don’t like to spend extra money.

Now obviously, you can also use fresh tomatoes to make your own pasta sauce. Frankly you won’t see that on this blog. No time for that in this household. I say that. I may take it back. We have a garden going right now. My tomatoes are just starting to get red. I feel like they will all probably turn red at the same time. I’ve got salsa planned, tomato sandwiches, some baby food for my 6 month old, and I’ll cook with some. If I still have some left over, I may have to make my own sauce. So exception there.

Anyways, on rushed night, I often heat crushed tomatoes, add some seasoning, spinach and mushrooms and throw it over some cooked pasta. In my mind, pasta nights are generally meant to be fast, easy, and satisfying for the whole family. The sauce can be adapted to what you have on hand. Which is what inspired this sauce, I had a bunch of garden veggies to use up.

Tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash are from our garden.

Start by dicing up 1 zucchini, 1 yellow squash, 1/2 an onion, and 4 cherry/grape tomatoes. Place these right into a large sauce pot. Add 1 tsp of garlic and a dollop of olive oil or oil of your choice. Sorry, I don’t tend to measure my oil when sauteing.

Saute the veggies for about 10 minutes until the zucchini and yellow squash have softened. Pour a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes in with the veggies. Also, add in a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, 1/2 a cup of vegetable broth, 1 tbsp of tomato paste, 1/2 tsp of salt (optional), and add a couple handfuls of frozen spinach

Didn’t measure exact amount of spinach. This was about 2 1/2 handfuls.

Let the sauce continue to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to mix in the spinach as it defrosts. Once the spinach is defrosted and mixed into the sauce, add 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast and 1 tbsp parmesan cheese. Serve over your choice of pasta. This makes a large quantity of sauce so you may want to make extra pasta for left overs.

Veggie Loaded Pasta Sauce


  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 4 cherry/grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable broth
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • frozen spinach
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp parmesan
  • pasta of your choice (cooked)


  1. Begin by dicing up your veggies and placing them in a large sauce pot. Add a dollop of olive oil and saute for about 10 minutes until the zucchini and yellow squash have softened.
  2. Add 1/2 a cup of vegetable broth, 28 oz crushed tomatoes, 15 oz of diced tomatoes, 1 tbsp tomato paste and 1/2 tsp (optional) salt. Stir and let simmer for 5-10 more minutes.
  3. Add a few (2-3) handfuls of frozen spinach to the sauce. Let this simmer while stirring occasionally as spinach defrosts. Once the spinach has mixed throughly, add 1 tbsp nutritional yeast and 1 tbsp parmesan cheese.
  4. Once your pasta of choice is finished cooking, serve and enjoy!

Crockpot Applesauce

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Crockpot Applesauce has become almost a weekly staple in our house. We start it early Sunday morning, it’s finished by mid afternoon and we have snack for the week. I can’t even take full credit for this recipe as my husband is the applesauce maker and the recipe is his. Papa Bear Feeds Family edition.

If you want to make this recipe, I would recommend having an apple peeler/corer/slicer. It’ll save you a ton of time. Here’s an example of the one we have. You can peel with a standard peeler then core but it will take more time.

Example of the type of peeler/corer/slicer we use.

That’s the first step of the recipe, peel, core and slice 10-14 apples (6-9 lbs). If you have a peeler/corer/slicer, you should be able to set it to do all three at once. If not, using a vegetable peeler (carefully) peel each apple. To core either use an apple corer or cut off the four quarters as close to the core as possible without getting into the seeds. Each apple can go right into the crockpot as you core it.

We like to add 3-5 pear into our applesauce. If you don’t have pears you can skip this step, but we find that it makes the applesauce a little more creamy. The pears do have to be hand peeled and cored (by cutting off quarters).

From here, it’s simple. Add 1 tbsp of lemon juice. If you have fresh lemons, squeeze the juice from one lemon over a mesh strainer into the crockpot. Add 1 tsp of cinnamon and stir. Turn the crockpot on to low for 6-8 hours, stir every couple hours, and the crockpot does the rest of the work.

At 6 hours the applesauce will likely turn out a bit thicker, verses at 8 hours it will be a little more watery. Adding the pears also thickens it up a bit. If you are in a time crunch, 4-6 hours on high will also do the trick.

Once the apples have softened completely, use an immersion blender to create your desired consistency. If you don’t have an immersion blender, get one, they are wonderful. Just kidding. You can use a potato masher, but your applesauce will likely have more apple lumps, not necessarily a bad thing. Keeps in the fridge for about a week and could definitely be frozen. Easy applesauce with no added sugar and no preservatives from your own kitchen.

Crockpot Applesauce


  • 10-14 apples (about 6-9 lbs)
  • 3-5 pears
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (or juice from 1 fresh lemon)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


1. Using a peeler/corer/slicer, peel, core, and slice 10-14 apples. Place the apples in the crockpot as you go. If you don’t have a peeler/corer/slicer, you can peel with a regular vegetable peeler and core by cutting the quarters off the apple as close to the core as possible without hitting the seeds.

2. Using a vegetable peeler, peel 3-5 pears. Core the pears by cutting the quarters off as close to the core as possible without hitting the seeds. Place the pears in the crockpot with the apples.

3. Add 1 tbsp lemon juice (or the juice from one fresh lemon) and 1 tsp cinnamon. Stir to coat as best as possible.

4. Turn the crockpot on low for 6-8 hours or 4-6 on high. After the apples have cooked down, use an immersion blender to create your desired consistency.