Friday, February 15, 2019

Eat Pasta; Lose Weight

Book Review: The Mamma Mia! Diet

Can you eat pasta and lose weight?
Anything is possible!

The Mamma Mia! Diet is a book and cookbook which explains how you can eat pasta , enjoy wine, and still lose weight. 

This less restrictive approach to dieting boasts better health with Italian flavors and the proven benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. 

According to the authors, Dr. Paola Lovisetti Scamihorn and Paola Palestini , PhD, " The more doctors test it, the more they find that eating Mediterranean is the absolute best way to lose weight".

Of I course I only use gluten free pasta!

The Mama Mia!Diet supports eating olive oil, fruits, and vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish and poultry, whole grains, and wine! 

It is not a vegetarian cookbook, yet there are many vegetarian recipes.

The recipe for spaghetti with pesto and cherry tomatoes used 5 cherry tomatoes, 5 ounces ricotta, and 3 Tablespoons pesto mixed and tossed with the cooked pasta. Simple and easy, yet delicious.

This book was divided into three sections. 

Parts one and two of this book explain the premise of the diet in its entirety emphasizing nutritional information, do's and don'ts, and how to make smart choices for a healthy balanced diet.

Although the book encourages eating pasta, it is not the cornerstone of the Mama Mia! Diet. The menu suggestions are varied and focus on balanced portions of fruit, vegetables, healthy fat, animal protein, etc. Pasta can be eaten but does not have to be eaten.

In addition, the book reviewed individual vegetables, noting their benefits and how to shop and select the best quality. Actually, I found lots of interesting information that was helpful.

Part three is the actual cookbook which features a good selection of recipes and suggested seasonal menus. I found the recipes uncomplicated and fairly basic.

Of course for anyone gluten free, like me, you would need to use gluten free pasta.

If you are looking for a weight loss plan that is healthy and allows for variety in eating, this book may be a good one for you to explore.

Here are some examples of the vegetarian recipes. 

Pasta with Eggplant looked delicious as well as the Chickpea Salad. 

The Tagliatelle with Peas and Asparagus,  Lentil Salad, Pasta with Broccoli and Pasta with Kale all were dishes I would consider trying.

In addition the Veggie Balls, Beets and Ricotta Dumplings all looked tempting. 

For those who are not vegetarian there were lots of choices using chicken, fish, and beef. 

I love Mediterranean cooking. This diet seems like a healthy and satisfying way to eat. 

Shared on Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking where anyone can share a food related post

Disclaimer: I was sent this book for free in exchange for an honest review-

I am not endorsing this book and all opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Butternut Squash With Drizzle

Butternut squash is one of my favorite vegetables.

However, it is not one of my favorite vegetables to prep and cook!

After all, these squashes can be hard to peel and hard to cut. 

If you own an Instant Pot, you are in luck.

Did you know that butternut squash can be cooked whole in the IP without peeling or cutting it? After pressure cooking on high for 25 minutes, the thin skin comes off easily and the cooked vegetable becomes tender and can be cut in cubes or mashed.

What used to be time consuming and difficult task is now easy in the Instant Pot! 

Yes, you can also roast a whole butternut squash without peeling or cutting in the oven.  However, it's a lot messier, hogs the oven for an hour, and heats up the kitchen. I find it MUCH easier and just as tasty to make the squash in my Instant Pot.

Butternut squash is a great winter choice. It's available, it will keep for at least a week ( or more) on the shelf, and it's rich in beta carotene ( for the eyes) and protective antioxidants.

Amazing amount of nutrients

Our bodies depend on antioxidants to fight free radicals that can cause disease and also to help reduce inflammation. Scientific research on the cancer preventing benefits of antioxidants lead cutting edge doctors like Dr. Axe to say, "  That’s because the best way to reduce your risk of cancer is to fuel your body with nutrients that keep it healthy and able to fight infection and disease. The moral of this story? Fill your diet with antioxidants, like the ones in butternut squash." his full article

If you are not selecting foods for their nutrient value, maybe it is something to consider the positive impact healthy food may have on our health. We are learning that what you eat may make a difference in the way you feel and look. It seems the old adage, " you are what you eat" may actually be true!

How Do I Eat Butternut Squash?

If you are fortunate to get a sweet squash, eat in plain. It tastes amazing.

If the squash is not sweet, I like to make a honey, lemon, and orange blossom water dressing to sweeten it up a bit. In addition, I  sometimes top it with antioxidant rich and colorful pomegranates seeds.

This dish not only tastes great, it packs a great deal of nutrients.

How to cook butternut squash whole in the Instant Pot


1 medium butternut squash, washed well
1 cup of water


Place water in the Instant Pot liner. Use the steamer basket and place squash in it. Secure lid, close steam valve and set to pressure cook on high for 25 minutes. When done, release steam manually according to manufacturer's directions. When all steam is released, carefully remove lid and using pot holders remove the steamer tray with the squash. Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Scoop out squash or scrape off skin and slice squash. Drizzle with the honey orange drizzle. Top with pomegranate seeds if desired.

Recipe for honey orange drizzle 
1/2 cup orange juice ( freshly squeezed) 
1/2 cup of lime juice ( freshly squeezed) 
1/2 teaspoon of orange blossom water
2 tablespoons honey
optional: 3 Tablespoons pomegranate seeds

Mix all ingredients together and drizzle over the cooked butternut squash

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Chinese New Year- Quick Soup

Today is the celebration of the Chinese New Year- 
It's the year of the pig!

Being vegetarian/vegan, you won't find any pork or ham recipes here , but I am sharing a wonderful Chinese soup that I've made in the past. 

It's perfect for cold weather and is a nourishing immune booster for winter flu season. 
It's quick and easy to make, so you can have it ready from prep to finish cooking in 30 minutes!

Cabbage adds amazing flavor to soup. The flavor of cabbage tones down when cooked, and is also easier to digest than raw cabbage.  I used Napa cabbage in this recipe which is a soft, easy to cut, flavorful cabbage available year round in supermarkets and Asian stores.

Why not make a small pot this week in honor of the Chinese New Year? 

Of course all my recipes are naturally gluten free and vegan.. Enjoy 

                             Recipe for Quick Chinese Cabbage Soup

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Moroccan Chickpea and Olive Salad chickpea salad

Chickpea and olive salad is easy to make and absolutely delicious.
Moroccan recipes often include a fair amount of olives, and this dish is no exception.
This wonderful vegan salad can be made with green and or black olives, chickpeas, and cured lemon with lots of healthy herbs and spices.

Ethnic recipes draw from a variety of plant based ingredients, as well as powerful herbs and spices- Ethnic recipes are full of high energy ingredients which are so good for you.


The olives can sometimes make this recipe a little salty, but I toned it down by soaking the olives first in water first.


What is cured or pickled lemon?
 My husband's Middle Eastern family call it " Limone Me-cha- layl" 
and they consider it quite an appetite enhancer! My husband eats it with everything!! 

Personally, I have a difficult time warming up to cured lemon. I find it one of those things that is an acquired taste. It's taken me a while.

If you are going to make this recipe, it would be easiest to purchase the lemon already cured.

Where can you buy cured lemon?
In any Middle Eastern grocery store or you can purchase it through Amazon.. Organic Preserved Lemons by Les Moulins Mahjoub (7.05 ounce)

If you can't get the cured lemon, just add some lemon zest to the recipe.
It won't be exactly the same, but it will be good.


3 cups cooked chickpeas, warm
1/2 cup of green pitted olives
1/8 cup of diced very small cured lemon
1 cup of chopped tomato
1/2 cup of chopped red pepper
2 tablespoons of chopped red onion
3/4 cup of chopped parsley and or cilantro

1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped garlic
Salt and cracked pepper
Optional: 1/2 teaspoon ( or more)  of Moroccan Harissa ( hot spice)

Mix chickpeas, olives, cured lemon, parsley, cilantro, red pepper, red onion, and tomato in a large bowl and set aside.
Combine ingredients for dressing and pour over the chickpea mixture.

Serve and enjoy

Sharing on Souper Sunday where anyone can share a soup, salad, or sammie recipe.

shared also on Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads where anyone can share a food related post.