Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Everyday Groceries - Printable!

Hey, guys! I've got a little somethin'-somethin' for you today! I created this free printable of my typical pantry staples. Isn't it thrilling?! I knew you were just dyyying to see what I keep in my pantry at all times. What a nerd you are! Welp, dream no further....I've typed it out for you.

But in all seriousness, if you're interested in creating a healthier lifestyle and in need of some tangible products to take home from the store or market, this is a good place to start. I've found that keeping these items on hand makes it really easy to throw together flavorful and satisfying meals throughout the day. Typically, on any given day, you'll find these staples in my fridge or cupboards, but of course it'll fluctuate slightly by seasonality, sales, or my weekly menu. You may also notice that there is limited animal products on this list besides some dairy and eggs. Feel free to add in your preferred protein sources (mine is clearly beans, tofu, and dark leafy greens). I also didn't include amounts because that will really depend on your preferences and meal planning - but I usually stock my freezer with nuts, my pantry with dried grains and beans, and keep the crisper overflowing with produce.

Click here to save, print, and share the free download of my Everyday Groceries PDF, pictured below (opens up in Google Docs). Oh, and thank you in advance for not commenting mean things about my graphic design inabilities.

Before you head back to your hump day, I'd love to hear some of YOUR favorite pantry staples in the comments below!

xo Dianna

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Garden Lesson #2: Totally Tomato

They don't ever seem to stop producing.

We planted our tomato plants waaaay too close together in the community garden. We practically have to crawl into the tomato bed by a tiny little aisle to search for these perfect red babes. My arms itch daily and my garden jeans constantly have that sickeningly sweet smell of tomato plant leaves. I'll shamelessy admit that when there's more than just me at the garden, I swerve into another bed so I can avoid the tomato torture. Ok, that's a little extreme. But if you've ever been an arm (or two!) deep into a six foot tall towering tomato plant, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

And yes, I am that weirdo that has a designated pair of pants (and shoes) just for gardening. The perfect pair for wiping muddy hands. We're a team.

What the heck are we doing with all of these tomatoes? Here's a few ways I've been eating up our abundance of tomatoes and pinning ways to finish the rest:

ROASTED // Roasted Tomato Basil Pesto from Angela at Oh She Glows. She's a vegan cooking genius and her new cookbook is ridiculous.

SOUPED // Sourdough bread and tomato soup? Please and thank you, My Name is Yeh. Sub in three pounds of roasted or blanched and peeled tomatoes instead of the canned ones.

SAUCED // Add in a handful of fresh basil or parsley into Martha's Simple Tomato Sauce.

BAKED // If someone will bake this focaccia for me, I will eat it all.

Of course, salt and pepper and a dash of balsamic is a crowd favorite around here to. What's your favorite way to enjoy end of summer tomatoes?

xo Dianna

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Butternut Squash Soup with Parsley Pecan Pesto

There are so many things right about today's recipe, I don't even know where to start! It's a definite crowd pleaser for those of you who are ready to dive into fall and even those of you who are holding onto every last humid drop of summer's heat. You've got your fall inspired soup paired with a brightly flavored summer pesto - the best of both seasons!

Get your spoon ready, folks.

Oh, and a huge hug to my creative food stylist friend, Casey Dobbins, for getting in the kitchen with me and helping to style these shots. Even though I fell off a chair half way through our shoot and now have a bruise the size of an egg on my shin. At least the soup didn't spill and my camera is intact.

I am in love with this recipe because so many of its ingredients are local: the butternut squash from my neighbors garden, the parsley from Gibbs Road Farm, the basil and tomatoes from my own backyard, and the organic pecans grown by Missouri Northern Pecan Growers. Until I started working at a natural grocery store a few years back, I had no idea that pecans grew in Missouri, let alone just an hour outside of Kansas City.

I am constantly amazed at what this state has to offer in fresh, local and organic ingredients. 

So what makes a Missouri Pecan? For starters, they're slightly smaller than a Georgia pecan and actually a bit sweeter. Like any pecan, they're abundant in the heart-healthy monounsaturated fat oleic acid and plant sterols, natural compounds researched for their cholesterol-lowering effects. Don't be fearful of pecans' high caloric content as pecans are nutrient rich in both macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals. A 1-ounce serving of pecans contains significant amounts of B-vitamins, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, 71% of the recommended daily intake (RDA) for manganese and 38% of the RDA for copper.

And these Missouri Pecans are certified organic!!!!!

Missouri Pecans can be found in local natural grocery stores (here in Kansas City, 91st and Metcalf Whole Foods Market carries them in the produce section) or you can order them online here. Nothing compares to the soft, luxurious sweetness of these organic and local pecans. They also make a great gift for fellow foodies and nut lovers!

Butternut Squash Soup with Parsley Pecan Pesto
Serves 2 (with pesto to spare!)

1 medium butternut squash, halved, seeds scooped out, and cut into quarters
5 small tomatoes, halved
1 cup water
1/2 cup almond milk
4 garlic cloves, peeled
Sea salt, to taste
1/2 jalapeno or 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
Pinch of nutmeg
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

For the Pesto:
1 bunch parsley
1/4 cup packed basil
1/3 cup olive oil
5 small cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 cup chopped Missouri Northern Pecans
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Candied Pecans:
1/3 cup chopped Missouri Northern Pecans
1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lay butternut squash quarters cut-side down on a baking sheet and pour water over the top until squash is sitting in 1/4 inch of water (this helps to steam it while baking). Bake for 40 minutes or until fork tender.
  2. Lay tomato halves in a baking dish and roast in the oven for the last 15 minutes of the butternut squash time, until the skins have softened.
  3. In a high-powered blender or food processor, add the olive oil, parsley, basil, nutritional yeast, pecans, and seasonings to make the pesto. Blend or process on high until smooth, taste and season as desired. Scoop pesto into a small bowl.
  4. After squash is cooked and cooled enough to handle, use a spoon to scrape the flesh out of the skin and into a blender. Add the almond milk, jalapeƱo or red pepper flakes, garlic, salt, roasted tomatoes, nutmeg, and maple syrup. Blend on high until smooth, adding more liquid and seasonings to achieve desired taste and consistency.
  5. In a small pan, add 1/3 cup chopped pecans and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup. Cook on medium high heat while continuously stirring for 3-5 minutes, until the maple syrup coats the nuts. Turn off heat and let the nuts cool.
  6. If needed, briefly reheat the butternut squash soup in a saucepan. This may not be necessary, depending on how fast you work. Pour into a small bowl, dollop with pesto, and top with candied pecans.
Hope you all enjoy this one! Even if you aren't into soup just yet this season, I hope you'll try out the pesto for pasta, spreading on sandwiches, or eating right off the spoon. Why didn't I use pecans in pesto sooner?! 

Stay tuned for another pecan recipe (something sweet!) coming up soon...

xo Dianna

Disclaimer: Today's recipe was sponsored by Missouri Northern Pecan Growers, LLC. I was given pecans to create a recipe; no other compensation was involved. All opinions expressed are that of my own.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Life as of Late

Right about now everyone is cursing summer's end. Nope, not me. I'm embracing and thanking August for it's close. August was a tough month for me, but I guess that's just how life is: one minute everything is all figured out and the next you feel like you've been kicked down a flight of stairs. Yes, clearly I'm having a fit of "poor me" and you are welcome to leave at any time. I just thought I'd be frank with you.

In the span of 4 hours one muggy wednesday in August, I lost my first dietitian job offer, had my family dog of 16 years die in a horribly painful way, was denied continued financial aid to finish my master's degree, and accumulated some unhealthy credit card debt (because I was counting on that full-time salaried job...). I mean come on, what kind of cruel joke was all that?! August, you were nothing but a big horrible month of tears and confusion. September, I am wholeheartedly ready for you. You're here to bring bigger and better things, I am sure of it! Positivity is good, right?

Oh, and my lack of recipe posting is basically due to the fact that I've been living off of chocolate chips. I may have consumed more chocolate chips than is humanly possible and I bet my insides could melt into hot fudge. Not even joking.

But you know what? I'm on the up and up! I have an interview today (eek!) and I'm taking the RD credentialing exam in two weeks. So have no fear ladies and gents, I'm getting back into my usual ways and will have the delicious stuff back up on here in no time! Here's a sneak peek of what's in store these next few weeks in my kitchen. In the meantime, enjoy these energizing and life-brightening photos I snapped while at Duke Farms in New Jersey visiting my family. They make me happy.

xo Dianna