The Daily Dish: Chickpea of the Sea Salad


Well, hello, everyone. How’s your summer going so far? A lot has happened since I last wrote, but I’m not quite ready to elaborate just yet, so I’m going to just share a quick, cool recipe that’s perfect for toting along to the beach or pool!

There are so many delicious chickpea salads out there, but this one happens to be the easiest and tastes most like the tuna salad of my childhood.

Chickpea of the Sea

Chickpea of the Sea Salad

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1 1/2 cups garbanzo beans, cooked (or 1 can, rinsed & drained)
2 medium celery ribs — chopped, to taste
1/8 cup onion — chopped, to taste
1/4 cup dill pickles — chopped, to taste, or dill relish
2 tablespoons Reduced Fat Veganaise
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon kelp granules — to taste
2 cups romaine lettuce — shredded, to taste

Using food processor, pulse chickpeas to desired consistency, or mash with a fork.

Chop onions, pickles & celery, mix in which chickpeas & other ingredients down to lettuce.

Place lettuce and any other desired raw veggies on the center of your favorite bread or wrap, or inside a pita pocket. Top with a scoop of chickpea salad. Enjoy!

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Makes 4 Servings; Nutritional Info Per Serving as calculated by Mastercook: 117 Calories; 2g Fat (13.3% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 300mg Sodium.

1 Weight Watchers SmartPoint (not including bread) as calculated using the online recipe builder.

Have a wonderful day!

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, allowing for a bit of oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat. At the moment I am also using Weight Watchers to help me reach goal weight.

The Daily Dish: Vegan Lasagna Rollups

Here’s a well-known fact about me: I am enamored with all things Italian.  The language, the culture, the art, the fashion, and of course, the food. It’s my favorite way to cook, and I learned to do so from my wonderful ex-family who was half Italian (and half Irish, but more about that later). My “signature dish,” the one I’m known for, the most requested for not only holidays but birthdays & other celebrations: Stuffed Shells Florentine.  Served right after antipasto and  before the salad (to help digestion, they say), with a hunk of good Italian bread to soak up the sauce….delizioso! I’ve delivered this to many a potluck & dropped at the doorstep of several new mamas, so I knew I had to make it for my daughter’s Babymoon Meal Train.

Now, since going vegan I have been experimenting with a dairy-free version of this recipe, trying many different recipes calling for various vegan cheeses, both commercially-produced and homemade, in attempt to replicate the gooey cheesy goodness of the original.  I’m sorry to say, I have not yet experienced complete success. I came close, and wrote about that on my old blog, but there’s still some work to do. In the meantime, I found Brand New Vegan’s amazing recipe for Lasagna Rollups and they are now the go-to meal for all of the above occasions, including the birth of my sweet granddaughter.


In progress…


THIS is why a meal train is so important! What new parents have time to clean up this mess?


Voila! I broke the recipe into two platters so that one can be frozen for a later meal.


I love the cute labels that Meal Train provides!

Of course I included extra sauce and the ingredients to make our favorite bread, Grandma’s Garlic Bread, recipe by The Jazzy Vegetarian.

Someday maybe I’ll perfect those Stuffed Shells, but in the meantime, everyone is quite happy with the scrumptious substitute.

What’s your favorite Italian meal?


Cook’s Note: A typical serving of this meal for my family is two rollups, one serving of sauce, and 1 hunk of Italian bread. This would “cost” you 11 SmartPoints which is a bit higher than I like but certainly worth it, especially for a special occasion!

Nutritional Information, as calculated by Mastercook:

Fat Free Marinara Sauce: Per Serving: 85 Calories; trace Fat (2.7% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 722mg Sodium; 2 Weight Watchers SmartPoints 

Vegan Lasagna Rollups (sans sauce): Per Serving: 389 Calories; 6g Fat (13.9% calories from fat); 17g Protein; 67g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 104mg Sodium; 4 Weight Watchers SmartPoints

Grandma’s Garlic Bread: Per Serving: 75 Calories; 8g Fat (89.9% calories from fat); trace Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 99mg Sodium; 5 Weight Watchers SmartPoints


The Daily Dish: Chili-Stuffed Squash Boats

Chili-Stuffed Squash Boats

My local produce delivery provided us with some lovely spaghetti squash this past week and I was anxious to use them.

I didn’t really feel like a traditional pasta-ish dish, though, so did some searching and came up with a unique idea that I really enjoyed!

Inspired by Making Thyme for Health, I used my own family favorite chili which I just happened to have portioned out in my freezer.

The recipe is so easy, hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Chili-Stuffed Squash Boats

  • 2 cans kidney beans, rinsed & drained
  • 2 cans canned diced tomatoes (fire-roasted or Ro*Tel are great!)
  • 1 packet chili seasoning mix
  • 1 onion — diced
  • 12 ounces frozen veggie crumbles (I like the Boca brand)
  • 3 spaghetti squash — cooked

Dump all chili ingredients in slow cooker, cook on low all day, adding a bit of water if mixture seems too thick.*

Feel free to add other veggies such as corn, bell peppers, mushrooms, etc. This recipe is infallible, freezes perfectly and can easily be doubled for large crowds or hungry teenagers.

While your chili is cooking, prepare the “boats.” Grab your spaghetti squash and a large, sharp knife.  I like to microwave the whole squash for a minute or so to make it softer and easier to cut, then slice in half lengthwise & scrape out the seeds and dark yellow stringy parts. Place upside-down on a parchment-lined cookie sheet or glass baking pan filled with a tiny bit of water to prevent sticking. Bake in 375°F oven for 30 minutes or so, until the flesh is soft and the “spaghetti” comes out easily with a fork. In this case, you want to leave that flesh in there, just mix it around a little bit.

Spoon your chili into the “boat,” sprinkle on your favorite fixings and enjoy!

*Alternatively, cook the chili on the stovetop for about an hour.

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Serves 6. Per Serving  as calculated by Master Cook (excluding toppings): 104 Calories; 1g Fat (4.8% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 443mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable.
4 Weight Watchers SmartPoints as calculated on WW’s Recipe Builder

Have a wonderful day!

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, allowing for a bit of oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.

Happy New Year

Goodbye, 2016, and good riddance! Overall, you were a pretty rotten year. To recap,  in January we became aware of some health issues with my dad, symptoms that his girlfriend couldn’t deal with on her own. In early March, we moved him 350 miles from home, up here with us, and started the rounds of doctors and tests which, in mid-April, lead to the diagnosis: Alzheimer’s Disease/Lewy Body Dementia. 

(In the midst of this, one very BIG, very BRIGHT spot..we welcomed my first grandchild into the world. The amazing, adorable Angelo graced us with his presence in April, and he has kept me laughing & smiling through the darkest parts of this year. What a blessing he already is, what a joy!)

So, we sold Dad’s truck and beautiful 5th wheel trailer and with that went his dream of traveling the country, enjoying his retirement after 42 years with the same company. It was devastating. We were able to move him into his own small home, maintaining some independence,  but he requires some supervision so we hired caregivers to be with him about 75% of the time.

At some point that’s not going to be enough and I will have to make the Big Decision. For now, I’m just treading water, trying not to drown under the worry and overwhelming responsibility that comes with being the only child of an ailing, aging parent. It requires more patience, strength and grace than I possess on any given day.  I’ve discovered skills I never knew I had and dusted off some I never thought I’d need again.  Managing finances, caregivers & general day to day life, doctor visits (and one scary hospital stay), has become  the focus of my life. It has become a full-time job, because even when he’s being cared for by paid professionals, I’m still on call. 24/7, 7 days a week. My phone is far from my side. No vacations, no holidays, no days off where I can just put Dad’s illness on the back burner and focus on ME. It’s sad and stressful and all-consuming. Yet, I keep going. I keep swimming, as Dory advises, hoping that I make it look easier, that I appear more graceful than I actually am. Because it’s not his fault. And I’m not complaining, truly I’m not. It’s just freaking hard, that’s all.

With all of this going on, I moved Dad to the front burner and put everything else in the back. My hobbies, my goals, my weight loss. My fitness. All of it got put on hold. I tried to keep up with my daily walks, but either I was too busy or I was simply too tired or stressed. It was easier to self-medicate with food instead of exercise. I allowed some more junk to seep back into my diet, especially while cooking for Dad who is definitely not vegan but was willing to try some faux meat products, just nothing too “green” or anything that looked like “weeds.” So, more veggie burgers, hot dogs & fries & less kale ended up on my plate for a while. My Fitbit continued to plug along, logging the couple thousand steps that were part of my daily routine. Now & then I managed a long beach walk, and my body & soul thanked me for it but I couldn’t manage to sustain that habit. As a result, my clothes got tighter. The  numbers on the scale started going in the wrong direction. And before I knew it, 10 of the 20 lost pounds had crept back on.


Sad & sobering and oh-so-disappointing. But, here I am. It’s a new year, can’t do anything about what happened in 2016. What now? Do I keep heading in that direction, just treading water and surviving? Nah, let’s not. A better idea would be to get myself together, force myself (and others) to put myself first, or at least somewhere near the top. How to do that? Well, I think we have a working system in place, that Dad’s needs are being met..for now.  There will always be adjustments, issues that come up that will need addressing, but I can’t sit around waiting for what might happen. I need to keep living my life the best I can. I have a father to care for, but I also have a partner, children and a grandchild who want and need me around! In order to do that, I’ve gotta take care of myself. I’ve got to do what keeps me healthy & happy because if I’m not around, who’s gonna take care of Dad?

So, I am already working on the new plan. It involves some elements from the past, what worked before, with a few new habits thrown in. I’m excited and hopeful and determined to lose what I gained in weight, and gained what I lost in fitness & mental health.

For the readers who are still with me, thanks for hanging in there. I hope to see more of you in 2017.