10 Recipes to Try This Fall

10 #Recipes To Try This #Fall | Dietitian Debbie Dishes Will and I just got home from our nutrition conference last night, so I am trying to catch up on work and process all the new nutrition information I learned over the last few days! I love going to the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (ie. FNCE) because I always leave feeling inspired after hearing from speakers who are doing great things in the world of dietetics. If only I could get half as far as they in my career! I made sure to attend as many social media geared talks as I could, so I have lots of new ideas for this little blog of mine. As I browsed through some of the posts I missed over the weekend on my favorite blogs, I thought I would share some fall recipes that are on my list to make this season. Some healthy, some not so much – but all are vegetarian-friendly and guaranteed to be delicious. I can’t wait to get started on whipping them up in the kitchen. Here are the top 10 recipes on my list to try this fall. (It was hard to choose only 10!)

1. Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad from Edible Perspective

2. Pumpkin Spiced Waffles from Spoon Fork Bacon 

3. Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers w/Baked Cheddar Beer Onion Rings from Half Baked Harvest

4. Cinnamon and Raisins Knots from What Should I Eat For Breakfast Today

5. Creamy Pumpkin Quinoa Risotto from Hello Natural

6. Kale and Apple Butternut Salad from Love & Lemons

7. Maple Pumpkin Parfaits from Oh My Veggies 

8. Garlic Spaghetti Squash with Herbs from Pinch of Yum 

9. Steel Cut Oats and Cinnamon Stewed Fruit from A House in the Hills

10. Vegan Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream from Minimalist Baker

What recipes are on your list to make this fall? 

Smoky Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Pepitas

Smoky Butternut Soup with Roasted Pepitas

Will and I recently discovered the bulk spice bins at Whole Foods and have using them to stock up these days when we run out of our pantry stock. It’s fun to browse and they are actually a really good deal. For those spices you only need for one recipe you want to try, it can be a great way to save money since you don’t have to commit to a whole shaker full. A spice we have recently fallen in love with is smoked paprika. So much so that I included it in my recent 10 vegetarian pantry essentials!

Smoky Butternut Soup w/Roasted Pepitas

Using just a little bit of this spice adds a flavor that reminds me a bit of bacon minus the actual meat of course. It is definitely a flavor that I wasn’t expecting that I would be able to recreate in vegetarian dishes until I discovered this spice. Paired with sweet butternut squash in this dish, it is absolutely delicious. The recipe redux for this month was to try out a new-to-you spice – so what better time to share my love for smoked paprika!

Smoky Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Pepitas
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-5
This smoky sweet butternut squash soup is perfect for chilly fall evenings. Top with a few roasted pepitas for a little crunch and interesting visual appeal.
  • For the Soup:
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil if vegan)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • For the pepitas:
  • ½ cup pepitas
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • Dash of garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and salt
  1. For the soup:
  2. In a large stock pot, melt butter and then add onions. Cook over medium heat until translucent and soft. Add the garlic, butternut, sweet potato and broth. Bring to a simmer and cover. Let simmer for ~20 minutes.
  3. Uncover the pot and stir in the spices and coconut milk. Test a piece of squash or sweet potato. If it is tender, transfer ingredients in batches to a food processor and puree until smooth.
  4. For the pepitas:
  5. In a medium, non-stick skillet add the pepitas. On medium-low heat toss pepitas for 3 minutes. Add the oil and spices and stir. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Serve with prepared soup.

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Southwest Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash

Southwest Quinoa Salad w/Roasted Butternut Squash | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

Before I head out for this big annual food and nutrition conference for dietitians in Atlanta today, I wanted to share this super easy and delicious quinoa salad recipe with you all! I love the interesting dichotomy of summer and fall veggies at the farmer’s market the last couple of weeks. Hence the combo of super sweet cherry tomatoes and roasted butternut squash in this recipe!

Southwest Quinoa Salad w/Roasted Butternut Squash | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

To get started on this dish, you have to tackle that butternut squash first. Let’s just say, I count it as a bit of an arm workout… Ever wonder how to get uniform cubes from such a curvy vegetable? Check out this helpful post from The Kitchn for step by step instructions and photos for dealing with a butternut squash. Once it’s all cut up, things get super easy! I roasted the squash pieces in the oven after tossing in some olive oil and salt (as usual). While this are roasting, you can cook the quinoa and chop up the rest of your veggies. 

I made this salad over the weekend and packed the leftovers in my lunch for the week – so good! If you are planning on eating leftovers, I would add the avocado as a topping rather than mixing them into the salad since they will begin to brown. A little queso fresco would go really well with this salad if you don’t want to keep it vegan!

Southwest Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten Free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-5
Add an interesting twist on your typical southwest quinoa salad by adding some roasted butternut squash. Queso fresco would be a delicious addition if you don't want to keep the recipe vegan.
  • 1 medium butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Dash of Salt and Pepper
  • 1 cup rinsed quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 2 cups (~one 15 oz can) cooked black or kidney beans
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Handful of chopped cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 avocados, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Toss cubed butternut squash in olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread into a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until lightly browned and soft.
  3. To make quinoa, bring quinoa and broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat to a simmer and cover partially with the lid. Let simmer for 15 minutes or until the liquid in the pan is absorbed by the quinoa.
  4. To make the salad, combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl and toss until well mixed. Serve warm or chilled with chopped avocado on top!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅔ cup Calories: 295 kcal Fat: 9.9 g Saturated fat: 2.2 g Carbohydrates: 44 g Fiber: 5 g Protein: 9.2 g Cholesterol: 0 mg

Southwest Quinoa Salad w/Roasted Butternut Squash | Dietitian Debbie Dishes


10 Healthy Vegetarian Soups for Fall

Healthy Vegetarian Soups for Fall | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

Now that fall is officially here, I have been craving soup all the time! I mean, it’s basically just another meal you can serve in a bowl… which I LOVE! (As you can see here, here, and here…) For inspiration, I looked to some of my favorite food blogs. I only included 10 here in the round-up, but you can check out my fall soup Pinterest board for even more recipes. All these are either vegan or vegetarian friendly and delicious, of course! Now if I could only decide which one to make first…

1. Mushroom Millet Soup with Cheezy Garlic Bread from Oh She Glows

2. Roasted Garlic Sage Pesto Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Fried Pumpkin Seeds from Half Baked Harvest

3. Creamy Vegan Broccoli Potato Soup from Edible Perspective

4. Quick Red Lentil and Spinach Curry from Naturally Ella

5. Kabocha Squash Fennel Ginger Soup with Spicy Coconut Cream from Dolly and Oatmeal

6. Creamy Potato Kale Soup from Pinch of Yum

7. Roasted Red Pepper Tortilla Soup from Cookie and Kate

8. Loaded Veggie Nacho Soup from Minimalist Baker

9. Caramelized Cauliflower Soup from The Sprouted Kitchen

10. Harvest Vegetable Soup from Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Salted Peanut Butter Popcorn

Salted Peanut Butter Popcorn | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

Last week, the guest on the Jess Lively podcast was a blogger who talked about creating a “capsule wardrobe”. I was absolutely fascinated by the idea and immediately read through her blog, Un-Fancy. Saturday afternoon I set to work cleaning out my closet and dresser. I had gotten into a rut recently where I would keep trying on outfits and hating all of them. However, with a capsule wardrobe, I would limit myself to only a few pieces and hopefully no longer have indecisive 10 outfit change days. So I was brutal. I set aside everything that didn’t quite fit right or I hadn’t worn in a really long time. I now have a significant pile of clothes to take to the donation center today. My closet feels so much more streamlined now! I am still working on pairing down to about 35 pieces, but I am well on my way to achieving that.

Since I am so indecisive about buying new clothes as well, I used wardrobe planner to figure out what additional things I really need to add to my closet to round out the outfit options I had left after purging my closet. I am so excited to see how it all works out!

Salted Peanut Butter Popcorn | Dietitian Debbie Dishes After all this closet cleaning, I was happy to relax while watching some Dr. Who and snacking on some of this delicious, new-to-me Quinn popcorn. We had the rosemary parmesan flavor with our show and I was super impressed! Finally, a microwave popcorn that isn’t full of trans fat and chemicals! I love their mission to completely transform microwave popcorn – they even have a farm-to-bag program so you can see where every ingredient is sourced. Take a peak at the label and you see that even their flavored popcorn have super short ingredient lists which makes my dietitian-heart happy.

It also happens to be national popcorn month, so what better time to enjoy a bowl! This simple salty peanut butter popcorn comes together in a matter of minutes and is literally only 4 ingredients. If you want to add a little more sweetness, toss a couple of chocolate chips into the bowl while you are snacking.

Salty Peanut Butter Popcorn
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3
Satisfy any salty/sweet craving with a bowl of this all natural salty peanut butter popcorn. Recipe adapted from The Kitchn.
  • 1 bag Just Sea Salt Quinn popcorn
  • ½ cup all-natural peanut butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional:
  • Toss a few chocolate chips into the bowl when serving for a sweet treat!
  • You could also try drizzling with dark chocolate.
  1. Prepare bag of popcorn in the microwave. Pour into a large bowl and pick out any un-popped kernels. (You don't want to run into those when eating your peanutty popcorn!)
  2. In a small saucepan, add the peanut butter, honey, and vanilla extract. Heat over medium-low heat until it starts to thin and become sauce-like. Once the consistency of gravy/cheese sauce, turn off heat and pour over popcorn.
  3. Toss to coat. Pour popcorn onto a sheet of wax paper and spread into a single layer. Let it cool for 5 minutes and serve.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Cup Calories: 384 kcals Fat: 22 g Trans fat: 0 g Carbohydrates: 40 g Sugar: 27 g Fiber: 4 g Protein: 12 g

  Salted Peanut Butter Popcorn | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

Healthy Travel: What’s in My Bag?

science behind dieting

Healthy Travel: What's in my Bag? | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

Happy Friday! After Wednesday’s lengthy post about sugar, I thought I would take a little break today and write about travel. I am leaving for a conference next weekend, so I have packing on my mind.  Plus, the holidays are coming up and many of you may be traveling soon as well! So, I thought I would share a few of the things you will always find in my carry-on for a healthy/enjoyable trip:

1. The BAG: Will bought this camera bag for me on my birthday last year and I have been using it every time we have travelled this year. It has enough padding to keep my camera safe in addition to extra room for all of my other carry-on items. 

2. My Camera: These days, I don’t go anywhere without my camera. I made the investment in a DSLR so I might as well get my money’s worth! I have a lot to learn when it comes to taking pictures of anything other than food though…

3. Sunglasses:  Forgetting your sunglasses on a sunny day is the worst. So, I always try to make sure I have at least one pair of sunnies in my carry on. Find a pair with UV protection to help prevent the development of cataracts and skin cancer. 

4. Scarf: One of my favorite accessories is a scarf. I almost always wear one when traveling since it can be used as a wrap around your shoulders for warmth on a chilly plane ride or as a pillow for an in-flight nap.

5. Water Bottle: It can be difficult to stay hydrated when traveling. I found that bringing my own water bottle and refilling it frequently at water fountains makes it more convenient for me to drink more water and saves money since I am not buying (and losing) new bottles of water while traveling. 

6. Healthy Snacks: As a dietitian, I don’t go anywhere without a healthy snack or two hidden in my bag. Typically, I stash an apple or two and some almonds. This trip, I plan to have a few of these gluten-free This Bar Saves Lives in my bag. (They can be found at Whole Foods!) I love the mission behind their company who partners with a non-profit to send packets of food to the hungry with each purchase. Something else to keep in mind is that all of these snacks pair well with yogurt from the hotel breakfast bar for a healthy on-the-go breakfast. 

7. Chapstick: The dry air on the plane always leads me to get chapped lips. These days, I always try to keep a stick or two on hand in my bag. I am a big fan of these ones from Burt’s Bees. 

8. A Good Book: As a book nerd, I can’t possibly travel without at least one good book in my bag. (Often two… one in my carry-on for the trip out and one in my suitcase for the return trip – ha!) Right now, I am reading and loving Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. 

Other things you may find in my travel bag? Tea bags, sunscreen, a small notebook, Excedrin, and gum

What types of things do you pack in your carry on? What are your favorite healthy travel snacks?

Guide to Sugar, aka “The Sweet Stuff”

   Guide to Sugar | Dietitian Debbie Dishes As a dietitian, I am frequently asked about sugar. Is brown sugar better than white sugar? I heard that this type of sugar causes cancer. Is honey good for you? And so on… Since I get these kinds of questions at work and when out and about, I figured you must have them too!

What is “sugar”?

There are actually several different types of sugar which differ based on their molecular structure. However, we use the word “sugar” as kind of an umbrella term to cover them all. In the simplest terms, sugars are paired into two groups based on whether their individual molecules are paired with a second molecules or not. Those without a partner are monosaccharides and those married to another molecule are disaccharides. For example, the sugar that everyone is most familiar is the white, granulated sugar you use in baking which is made of two smaller sugar molecules bonded together – glucose and fructose.


  • Glucose: The most basic molecular building block of sugar. In your body, glucose is important for providing fuel to almost every cell in your body. 
  • Fructose: Fructose is the form of sugar you find in fruit. You may recognize the word “fructose” from the much debated “high fructose corn syrup” ingredient, but we’ll get to that.
  • Galactose: A form of sugar that is only found in milk.


  • Maltose:  Maltose is a combination of 2 glucose molecules. It is created when barley is fermented so you’ll find it in beer, cereals, and pasta.
  • Lactose: Lactose is a disaccharide composed of glucose and galactose and is only found in milk or milk products like yogurt and cheese. In those with lactose intolerance, their body doesn’t have enough of the enzyme lactase to properly digest this sugar which leads to unpleasant digestive side effects.
  • Sucrose: Sucrose is composed of a fructose and glucose molecule. Also known as table sugar, sucrose comes from sugar cane or sugar beet. 

What is high fructose corn syrup and is it bad for you?

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is made from corn syrup which has been processed with enzymes to convert some of the glucose to fructose. The intent is to mimic sucrose (table sugar) so the ratio of glucose to fructose is very similar. It has increased in popularity since the 1980′s because it is much cheaper to produce since it is derived from corn. Currently, high fructose corn syrup is used in the majority of packaged foods sold at the store: bread, cereal, yogurt, beverages, cakes, cookies, etc. 

Since high fructose corn syrup is so similar to table sugar (sucrose) it can be hard to pin down a direct association between HFCS and negative health outcomes. Over the last 30-40 years, consumption of sugar in general has increased along with the rate of obesity. In fact, the USDA reports that from 1970 to 2005, calorie intake from added sugars/sweeteners has increased from 76 kcal/day to 400-476 kcals/day! So yes, high fructose corn syrup has made it easier to consume even more added sugars each day, but at this point can’t be given all the blame. Rule of thumb, the less fructose you consume in the form of table sugar or high fructose corn syrup… the better!

What about artificial sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners, also known as non-nutritive sweeteners, are manufactured sugars that are exponentially sweeter than natural sugars. You’ll find these sugars used in “sugar free” and “diet” products. They are typically calorie free so they are toted as a good alternative to actual sugar in foods. However, research has yet to show that those who consume artificially sweetened foods actually consume less calories overall each day. Here are a few of the most common artificial sweeteners you may find in food.

  • Aspartame (Nutrasweet and Equal)
  • Acesulfame-K (Sweet One)
  • Neotame
  • Saccharine (Sweet’N’Low)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • Stevia (Truvia and PureVia)

Are maple syrup and honey healthy?

Since maple syrup and honey are more natural, many people encourage the use of these as a replacement for table sugar. However, just like table sugar both maple syrup and honey when used in excess can contribute to weight gain. Honey is relatively high in fructose. In fact, some honey is illegally “stretched” by adding high fructose corn syrup because of their similarities. Honey does have some redeeming qualities as it contains some B6 and vitamin C. Maple syrup on the other hand is high in the sugar, sucrose. In addition to sweetness, maple syrup offers some iron, calcium, zinc, and manganese. Bottom line, although both honey and maple syrup offer a few more nutrients than table sugar for example, they are still added sugars and should be used in moderation.

Is brown sugar better than white sugar?

Raw sugar is light brown because it still contains some molasses. When sugar is bleached to make it white, the molasses is removed. This is sold as table sugar. To make brown sugar, some molasses is added back into the bleached sugar to add color and some flavor. So is brown sugar better for you than white sugar? Unfortunately, no. They are both almost identical except for the addition of some molasses for color to brown sugar.

Added Sugar vs. Natural Sugar

Natural sugars are those that are found naturally in a food. For example, fruit naturally contains quite a bit of sugar in the form of fructose. On the other hand, added sugar is sugar added to foods when cooking, baking, or processing. Currently, the American Heart Association has recommendations for the amount of added sugar in your diet, but no one has set any limits on total sugar consumption at this time. However, too much of either sugar can contribute to negative health effects over time. 

When you start reading food labels, you may be surprised that there are more added sugars hiding in food than you once thought. It’s almost everywhere – salsas, salad dressings, tomato sauce, etc. This means that if you eat a lot of packaged goods, even if they aren’t desserts, you could be eating more added sugar than you realize. 

Is sugar bad for you?

The short answer is… yes. Sugar is important as a quick source of fuel for exercise, but as I already mentioned, Americans in general are eating way too much of the sweet stuff. Consistently eating too much sugar (in all its forms) over the course of years can contribute to excess weight gain, elevated triglycerides, increased risk of heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. The American Heart Association recommends that women limit their consumption of added sugars to no more than 6 teaspoons or 100 calories per day and for men, no more than 9 teaspoons or 150 calories per day. The only problem with this recommendation is that it can be hard to know how much added sugars are in a food since these aren’t yet listed on the nutrition label. If you aren’t sure, you could look for some of the sugar based ingredients listed below.

The food label does list “sugars”, however this includes both added and natural sugars. If you are curious how many calories from sugar the food has, you can simply multiply the grams of sugar in the food by 4. (1 gram of sugar = 4 calories.) Another way to monitor sugar intake is to convert grams of sugar to teaspoons as 4 grams of sugar is one teaspoon. 

Sugar Has Many Names…

As you may have guessed, when you look at ingredients list on a food label it is unlikely that you’ll see the word “sugar” listed. There are so many different forms of sugar! A good rule of thumb is to look for syrups or words ending in -ose. This will give you an idea of whether a food has any added sugars. (You may find it hiding in foods like salsas, pasta sauces, and more!)

Natural and Processed Sugars: 

  • Agave nectar
  • Beet sugar
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • High-Fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Palm sugar
  • Rice syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Turbinado sugar

Artificial (Non-Nutritive) Sugars:

  • Aspartame (Nutrasweet and Equal)
  • Acesulfame-K (Sweet One)
  • Mannitol
  • Neotame
  • Saccharine (Sweet’N’Low)
  • Sorbitol
  • Stevia (Truvia and PureVia)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • Xylitol

As a friendly reminder, here is a printable PDF you can take with you to the store or hang on your fridge! –> Guide to Sugar

Guide to Sugar | Dietitian Debbie Dishes



Pumpkin Buckwheat Granola

Pumpkin Buckwheat Granola | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

Fall is officially here. Time to start putting pumpkin and roasted winter squash in everything. Am I right? This granola is a quintessential fall recipe. Pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger all marry together in a delightful granola that has a bit of extra crunch from the addition of buckwheat. Buckwheat was another one of my random bulk bin purchases a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t feeling like making it into a hot cereal and I had run out of granola so I tossed it in and hoped for the best. Just like quinoa, buckwheat turned out to be a fun, crunchy addition. 

Pumpkin Buckwheat Granola | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

If you aren’t familiar with it, buckwheat is a seed that is actually not related to wheat but rhubarb and sorrel. Like most grains, it is relatively high in protein, iron, vitamin B6, and magnesium. If you purchase gluten-free oats, this recipe can be made gluten-free. Feel free to substitute other nuts for the walnuts and pumpkin seeds. Dried cranberries would also be a tasty addition! I have been eating this granola all weekend with either a chopped pear or apple and some plain yogurt for a satisfying breakfast. 

Pumpkin Buckwheat Granola
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Gluten Free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Add some fall flavor to your breakfast with this gluten free pumpkin buckwheat granola. Serve over yogurt with a chopped apple or pear for a filling breakfast.
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup buckwheat
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • ⅓ cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Pour all ingredients together into a large mixing bowl. Stir well.
  3. Spread oat mixture out onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.
  4. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet before transferring to a storage container.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 96 g Calories: 353 kcals Fat: 18.7 g Saturated fat: 2 g Trans fat: 0 g Carbohydrates: 39 g Sugar: 7 g Fiber: 5.6 g Protein: 10 g Cholesterol: 0 mg

Pumpkin Buckwheat Granola | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

10 Essential Vegetarian Pantry Staples

10 Vegetarian Pantry Essentials | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

If you could get a sneak peek into my apartment pantry, these are the top 10 vegetarian panty essentials you would always see on my shelves. (Or on my grocery list for stocking up again!) Keep these pantry items on hand and you will have the building blocks to create healthy, vegetarian or vegan meals at home. 

1. Lentils: Lentils are small round legumes that are commonly used in Mediterranean dishes. They come in a variety of colors including red (pictured), green, brown, and black. When cooked, they have a mild, nutty flavor. They are great for vegetarians as they offer 18 grams of protein per cup of cooked lentils. In addition to being a great source of protein, they are also low calorie (230 calories per cup) and high in fiber (16 grams per cup). 

2. Vegetable Broth: Vegetable broth is a versatile pantry staple. We typically buy ours, but there are dozens of great recipes online for making it at home. Keep it on hand for adding to: soup, stir fry, gravy, grains. 

3. Oats: Oats are definitely one of my breakfast staples. This whole grain is packed with insoluble fiber which can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. In addition to making oatmeal, I use oats in baked goods, granola, and even smoothies. 

4. Quinoa: Quinoa are tiny edible seeds that can be used in a variety of dishes. Like lentils, they too have a mildly nutty flavor. I use quinoa frequently as a substitute for rice because it has so much protein. In fact, one cup of cooked quinoa has 8 grams of protein and is considered a “whole” protein because is offers a balanced amount of all nine amino acids which is uncommon for a plant based food.

5. Vinegar: Keeping a variety of vinegars in your pantry is key for spicing up dishes and creating simple homemade vinaigrettes for salad. This summer, we branched out and started using vinegar in a new way – homemade pickles! In addition to adding flavor, vinegar may also help with better blood sugar control after a meal.  In our pantry, we typically have: red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, rice wine vinegar, white vinegar, and apple cider vinegar. 

6. Nuts:  When shopping, I always try to make a pit stop at the bulk bins to pick up some nuts. Nuts and nut butters are great for vegetarians as they offer a lot of protein, healthy fats, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin E. Their nutrient profile is great for satisfying any mid-day munchies when paired with fruit or whole grain. I toss nuts onto my cereal in the morning, pack them as a snack, add them to granola, or use them as a crunchy salad topping. 

7. Oil: No kitchen is complete without at least one bottle of oil. Olive oil is my favorite, but we also try to keep canola or vegetable on hand too for things that need a higher heat than the olive oil can tolerate. My favorite way to prepare vegetables is to chop them, toss in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven until lightly browned. It’s so easy and turns out delicious every time. Pair a nice vinegar with your olive oil and a bit of seasoning and you can create a healthy vinaigrette for salads in a matter of minutes. 

8. Chia Seeds: It may seem weird to include chia seeds on the list, but I find myself using them fairly regularly. They are great for vegetarians because, tiny as they are, chia seeds offer quite a bit protein and fiber (10 grams per 2 tablespoons in fact!). In addition, they are a good source of Omega 3 fatty acid, a nutrient that is sometimes lacking in a vegetarian/vegan diet that doesn’t include fish. You can sprinkle them on cereal or add them to your smoothies.

9. Dried Beans: If I were stranded on an island and had only a few foods to pick from, beans would likely be one of them. Yes, they seem like a strange choice, but they are such a well-rounded source of nutrients. Beans are full of fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, potassium, folate, phosphorus, etc. Beans are also super cheap too! Canned beans are great to have on hand, but we also make up a big batch of dried ones most weekends and freeze them for use in hot dishes or salads throughout the week.

  • How to Cook: Rinse beans well and pick out any shriveled beans or stones. Pour beans into a large stock pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring water to a boil and then turn off heat and cover. Let sit for 2 hours on the stove. Drain the soaking water and cover beans again with a new layer of water or broth. Bring to a simmer and let cook another 2 hours over medium heat or until beans are tender. Stir occasionally and add additional liquid if needed, until beans are done.
  • Recipes: Spicy Sweet Potato Pasta with Chickpeas and Spinach // Vegetarian Huevos Rancheros

10. Smoked Paprika: If you have not discovered the magic of smoked paprika, you are missing out! I have been using this one spice almost as much as I use salt and pepper. As a vegetarian, I love that I can still have a hint of that smoky flavor I used to think you could only achieve with meat. We use it most often on roasted vegetables or in stir-fry.

A few close runner-up items that didn’t quite make the list? Popcorn kernels and canned coconut milk. Both we use quite often! What are your pantry staples?

Pear Pomegranate Sangria

Pear Pomegranate Sangria

Ahh… Monday. Here we go again! Let’s make this Monday a little brighter and chat about this sangria, shall we? Sipping on this sangria is a bit like an antioxidant kick in the pants. That ruby red color provides a lot of cancer fighting power! 

Pear Pomegranate Sangria

Red wine, and alcohol in general, has been associated with lowered rates of heart disease risk. (When not consumed in excess of course.) Alcohol can help increase good “HDL” cholesterol – as much as 12% in those who have 1-2 drinks per day. Red wine in particular appears to have some anti-clotting properties – important for preventing stroke in those at risk. (Source) In addition to the benefits of the red wine, pomegranates are also high in similar antioxidants as well as vitamin C. 

Pear Pomegranate Sangria

This sangria is perfect for welcoming fall. Pomegranate season is just now starting and I couldn’t be more excited to start using them again in all kinds of recipes! Thanks to Dreaming Tree for providing me with a sample which I used when I developed this recipe – it was perfect for this combination of fruit. 

Pear Pomegranate Sangria
Recipe type: Drink
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Get an antioxidant boost with this fall flavor inspired pear pomegranate sangria.
  • 1 bottle Cabernet Sauviognon (I used Dreaming Tree)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 pear, chopped
  • 1 orange, chopped
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds removed
  • ½ cup pomegranate juice
  • 1.5 ounces Grand Marnier
  • Soda water
  1. Layer all the ingredients together in a tall pitcher. Let sit in the refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight to let the fruit infuse some flavor into the wine.
  2. To serve, place ice into wine glasses and pour wine over top of the ice. Add a splash of soda water. Serve chilled with additional sliced orange for garnish.

 Dreaming Tree Wines provided me with a sample of wine which I used for the development of this recipe. I was not compensated in any other way for this post and all opinions are my own.