I like my veggies.

My mom is probably squirming with joy at that statement. She used to make my sister and I eat cooked carrots and I hated them…with a capital H. Nevertheless, as I got older I began to appreciate the taste of vegetables, many kinds, the various ways to cook them and their nutritional value!

One of my favorite veggies is cauliflower and one of my favorite condiments is mustard. Yellow, grain, honey, spicy, pretty much all kinds! Well, there is some German in my lineage so I’m positive that’s where my love of mustard originates. Is there a condiment or smear you like?

I was online and inspired by this recipe. (A) Because it’s simple and (B) It’s packed with flavor and good things for your body. Cauliflower contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits! I decided to add Herbs de Provence to the line-up because I love those aromatic flavors. Eat up friends!

Spicy Mustard Roasted Cauliflower
Inspired by this recipe

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3 Tbls spicy mustard
11/2 Tbls extra-virgin olive oil
1 pinch of sea salt
1 pinch of ground pepper
1 Tbls Herbs de Provence
2 head(s) (about 2 pounds) cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, whisk the mustard, oil, Herbs de Provence and season with salt and pepper. Toss in the cauliflower; spread on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

You’re probably thinking I have cake fever, right? First this easy chocolate cake and now this delectable and uber light hot milk sponge cake. Well, if cake fever does exist then I am a victim! Oh darn…

Some other news. I ran the Pasadena Half Marathon this past Sunday and despite the pouring rain, I broke my personal half marathon record and ran 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 12 minutes. My goal?? To run it in under 2 hours, which I am confident I can do! This type of news also warrants cake, don’t ya think?

You won’t believe it, but this cake only has seven simple ingredients. I promise you’ll like this!

Hot Milk Sponge Cake
Inspired by a recipe from this book, page 165

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2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup organic unrefined sugar
1/2 cup 1% or nonfat milk
2 Tbls unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Stir flour and baking powder together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a separate bowl beat the eggs with an electric mixer on high speed for about 4 minutes or until thick. Slowly add the sugar using the electric mixer on medium speed. Add the almond extract. Continue beating until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until combined.

In a small sauce pan on medium to low heat, warm the milk and butter until butter melts. Don’t forget to stir the milk! When the butter melts, add to the dry mix beating until combined. Pour batter into cake pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack. Enjoy with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, whipped cream, melted chocolate or a fruit compote!

It’s always a good idea to have an easy and basic chocolate cake recipe in your back pocket. Ya just never know when you’ll need to bake one…

– last minute birthday with friends or at work
– dinner gathering
– picnic

The reasons are endless and sometimes you don’t even need a reason to bake a cake! The intoxicating smell of baked chocolaty goodness is good enough for me.

I found a recipe for a carob cake, but preferred to use chocolate instead. This cake is so light, sweet and pillowy. Please add to your recipe box. It won’t disappoint!

p.s. I didn’t add any embellishments or frosting on this cake. I just wanted to share it’s simplicity.

Easy Chocolate Cake
Inspired from this recipe

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3/4 cup unrefined cane sugar
1/2 cup whole wheat all-purpose flour. Plus 6 tablespoons
3 tablespoons baking cocoa
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch of sea salt
1 egg
1/2 cup 1% or nonfat milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a (9-inch) baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, baking cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a second large bowl, whisk together egg, milk, oil and vanilla.

Add egg-milk mixture to flour mixture and beat for 2 minutes. Whisk in water and then pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside to let cool for 15 minutes, then serve warm or remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Tell me there’s a dinner party with friends and I am there! That’s what inspired this strawberry and nectarine crostata. My friends were prepping the dinner, so count me in for a homemade baked dessert and vanilla frozen yogurt for topping. Are you drooling? I am.

Even though this is called a dessert, it’s actually very light and not very sinful. The strawberries protect your heart and are considered an anti-inflammatory. And did you know that one cup of fresh nectarines contains 214 mcg of beta-carotene? Nectarines also contain Vitamin C. Are you sold yet?

This dessert is literally just fresh fruit, some sugar and organic pie crust from Trader Joes. Done and done. You can whip one of these up for any occasion. It’s so easy. I’ll definitely be making more of these, with different fresh fruits, during the Spring and Summer.

Strawberry and Nectarine Crostata
Inspired by this recipe

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– 1 cup fresh strawberries, halved or quartered
– 1 cup fresh nectarines, peeled and sliced
– 1/4 cup evaporated cane juice sugar
– 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
– 1 organic pie crust round, thawed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the thawed pie crust on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Set aside.

To make the fruity inside of the crostata:
Place the strawberries, nectarines, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 to 20 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Do not let it burn. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a bit.

Once the fruit filling is cooled, gently pour into the middle of the pie crust. Make sure to leave a 2-inch border at the perimeter. Gently fold the edges of the pastry up and over the filling, pleating as necessary, to form a round. Make sure to seal any cracks in the pastry.

Bake for 30 minutes to until pie crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Enjoy warmed. I prefer my slice with a dallop of vanilla frozen yogurt on top!

My goodness! Has it really been over two weeks since I shared a recipe with you all? The time is flying and here I am…I’m emerging from a two (or three?) week baking hiatus. Baking is good for my soul, so hopefully I don’t take a hiatus that long moving forward. Well….unless it’s over 95 degrees outside and I don’t want to melt alive in my house.

I recently found the most simplest of baking recipes and here is what I love about it: (a) it contains eight simple ingredients that you most likely already have in your kitchen, (2) it’s a crowd pleaser and (3) it’s incredibly versatile. For example, you can add nuts or seeds, dried fruit, real fruit, white chocolate chips, caramel and more.

The original recipe is for a chocolate chip cookie cake, however, I wanted to be playful and use chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds in place of the chocolate chips. I was looking for that chocolaty, sweet and tart flavor profile and I achieved it. Oh, did I achieve it. Moreover, when you bite into a slice of this cookie cake, you’ll enjoy the sweet and tart punch of melty chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds. I know, right?! Don’t forget, pomegranate seeds contain antioxidants, which are good for you. More reason to enjoy this cookie cake.

Cookie Cake with Dark Chocolate-Covered Pomegranate Seeds
Inspired from a recipe in this book. Pg 54

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– 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
– 1 cup all-purpose whole wheat flour
– 11/2 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 tsp sea salt
– 1 cup packed light brown sugar
– 1 tsp organic vanilla extract
– 1/2 tsp organic almond extract
– 1 large egg
– 1 cup dark chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch spring form cake pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until well blended. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, and egg until light and creamy. Incorporate the dry ingredients until just blended. Fold-in the dark chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and use a rubber spatula or butter knife to even-out the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy warmed, room temperature, dunked in cold milk or a la mode!

Raise your hand if you enjoy a warm slice chunk of quick bread in the morning or as a snack? Maybe it’s banana nut bread, blueberry bread, cinnamon swirl bread or pumpkin chocolate chip bread. My sweet tooth is growing just typing this. Here’s the buzz-kill….quick breads are notorious for being unhealthy…full of fat and sugar. Yipes!

Guess what…Not this quick bread! I actually like to call it a breakfast loaf because it’s so good toasted for breakfast with my favorite coffee.

This loaf contains only 1 tablespoon of oil AND zero butter and eggs. It has low fat milk, oatmeal and whole wheat all-purpose flour. Oatmeal helps maintain blood sugar levels. It also lowers your cholesterol and helps your heart! Why not enjoy that 2nd slice?

Good for you Breakfast Loaf
Inspired by this recipe

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– 1 cup rolled oats
– 1 cup whole wheat all-purpose flour
– 2 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 tsp sea salt
– 11/2 Tbls honey, maple syrup or agave syrup
– 1 Tbls canola oil
– 1 cup 1% or nonfat milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Grind oatmeal in a food processor or blender. In a large bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, dissolve honey in canola oil then stir in the milk. Combine both mixtures and stir until a soft dough is formed. Pour the dough into a loaf pan. Sprinkle some oats on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Slice and enjoy with a nice warm beverage!

So, was it the sausage or the cheese that inspired you to open this post and get your mouth watering?

Quiche is one of my favorite dishes with it’s flakey and buttery crust and creamy egg filling. Oh and add cheese and game over! Nevertheless, quiche this indulgent often make me feel a bit lethargic. Hello, food coma! Why not omit the crust and make the filling a bit lighter but still flavorful?!

You’ll enjoy the health benefits of this quiche. The chicken sausage and eggs contain loads of protein. Not to mention, the spinach contains phytonutrients for anti-inflammatory and ant-cancer benefits. The vitamin K from spinach is essential for maintaining bone health. Did I mention the sharp cheddar is low fat?…Eat up!

Crustless Sausage and Cheese Quiche

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– 2 cups of fresh spinach
– 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
– 2 chicken sausage links, halved and sliced into half moons
– 1/2 cup cubed low fat sharp cheddar or cheese(s) of your choice
– 2 large eggs
– 1 egg white
– 1 cup 1% or nonfat milk
– sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a pie dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Add the olive oil and chicken sausage to a medium or large skillet over medium heat. Cook the sausage until browned. Remove from skillet and set aside. Using the juices from the chicken sausage and olive oil, add the fresh spinach and saute until wilted. This step should not take very long, probably about 2 minutes.

Place the wilted spinach in a colander. When the spinach has cooled, gently squeeze to remove excess moisture. Lay spinach in the bottom of the pie dish. Throw-in the cubed cheddar and sausage!

In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, 2 whole eggs, 1 egg white and sea salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the spinach, cheddar and sausage. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove and place on a wire rack. Slice and enjoy!!