Cauliflower Alfredo ‘Primavera’ + the One Ingredient 30-Day Challenge Wrap-Up

In January I participated in a 30-Day Challenge hosted by Andrew, otherwise known as the One Ingredient Chef. It was extremely fun and educational. During the month we were challenged to only cook meals using ‘one ingredient’ items. Now, before you think it was a month of mono meals, let me explain.

So long as you can hold the item in hand before creating with it, it counts as ‘one ingredient’. Guacamole is a great example. Nice big tomatoes, some jalapeno, onion, avocado, cilantro, lime – yum! While your guac is now made up of many ingredients, they all started as whole foods.

Cauliflower Alfredo

One of Andrew’s recipes that received a ton of buzz was his Cauliflower Alfredo. I don’t normally care for cauliflower (yes, take my Vegan club card away), but it started getting SO much love from the group members, I couldn’t pass up giving it a shot. I was amazed. The sauce – with not once bit of cream or cheese – ends up being just what it’s not – creamy, mildly cheesy, a wonderful ‘Alfredo’ sauce.

For a lighter meal, I tried it first over spiral zucchini noodles topped with fresh diced Roma tomatoes. This next version was much more of a “comfort food” version ~ perfect for a cold day when you want something really satiating.


Cauliflower Alfredo ‘Primavera’


  • Andrew Olson’s Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce (link above)
  • Supergrain spaghetti (quinoa and corn flours) – or pasta/rice/veggie of choice
  • 1/2 C Sun-dried tomatoes, not packed in oil, julienne cut
  • 1 C Green peas
  • 4-5 large crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 T oil of choice
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, diced
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Note: I had previously made the Alfredo sauce, which made much more than I expected :) I froze the remainder and used it two weeks later for this recipe. It held up perfectly!

  • Prepare pasta according to package or preference
  • While pasta cooks, combine oil, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes in a large skillet, saute for approx 10 minutes until tomatoes plump up and re-hydrate a bit
  • Add in green peas & mushrooms, saute for another five minutes
  • Toss together pasta, sauce and veggies in skillet, reduce heat and cook until warmed though, roughly another five minutes.

Spicy Hot Cocoa – Vegan, Sugar/Dairy/Gluten/Soy-free

Happy National Vegan Day!

After a long night of taking care of trick-or-treaters at my family’s Haunted House…it’s been a cozy day at home. Cue the fall rain. Makes for the perfect night for a warm cup of cocoa, another of my beloved comfort foods.

While I’m sure this is one of those ‘me-too’ recipes that anyone can/will create their own, I’d like to share mine for my dear, culinary-impaired friends who have been urging me for recipes as of late :) You know who you are.

Spicy Hot Cocoa

The basics are, of course, the milk and cocoa, the sweeteners and spices can be adjusted to your tastes. Personally, I like the little kick of chili powder and cinnamon. Since sugar-free is something important to me, I used Wholesome Sweeteners Zero (erythritol).

Spicy Hot Cocoa

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 4 t baking cocoa
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t chili powder
  • 2 packs Wholesome Sweeteners Zero

Warm milk over low heat in a small saucepan. Whisk in cocoa, sugar and spices to taste. It’s always easier to add more than take away ;) I suggest tasting as it warms. If you like froth, whisk it up good! Now go sit on a comfy sofa, tucked in a soft blanket, surround yourself with love (tonight it’s my kitten and dog doing their version of Friday Night Wrestling), and enjoy this delicious, and very guilt free cocoa.

Spicy Hot Coca

PS – For those who are interested, and since it is National Vegan Day, check out PETA’s list of ‘Accidentally Vegan Food’, which includes Cracker Jacks, Monster Energy Drinks, Pepperidge Farm Turnovers, Ritz Crackers and many, many more (hello Holiday parties?) It’s not all tofu and wheatgrass, kids…although I won’t get into the ‘how good is this for me?’ debate. It’s just interesting to see and I promise, the page has no disturbing images or content.

Black Bean Chili

I feel like chili is one of those ‘kitchen sink’ type of dishes that you can never mess up. Sadly, I have messed up more than one batch :( I’m happy this one turned out just right, and hope you like it as well. It was my first time cooking with dried beans and they turned out beautifully.

You won’t feel left out of all those winter comfort meals when you have a warm dish of this Black Bean Chili.

Black Bean Chili

My ingredients:

  • 1 pack of dried black beans, rinsed, sorted and checked for stones. I let mine soak for 2-3 hours before using.
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans of tomato sauces
  • 1 diced onion
  • 3T chili powder*
  • 1T cumin*
  • 1T garlic powder*
  • 1T onion powder*

*These can all be adjusted to your taste

After soaking the beans for a few hours, rinse with cool water. Toss into a pot with additional ingredients. Bring to boil, simmer until the beans are tender (3-4 hours for me).

Super simple!

Top with your favorite chili fixins’ – I used Daiya Cheese Shreds and avocado. What would top your bowl?

Cinnamon Raisin Brown Rice Pudding

These days I’ve been struggling to make the adjustment from fruit & veggie protein shakes to food that fits in with the cold, autumn mornings. Almost every comfort food I enjoyed growing up is loaded with sugars – hidden or otherwise – or ‘bad’ carbs. We still crave those warm, flavorful dishes as the days get shorter, so I’ve come up with my variations of a few favorites.

Cinnamon Raisin Brown Rice Pudding

Whole Foods’ Almond Brown Rice Pudding recipe was near perfect for me – with a few exceptions. First off, I love, love, love cinnamon and raisins, so I adjusted the amounts to fit my taste. Secondly, not a fan of almond extract. I left out both that and the slivered almonds.

A bonus to this dish is that it has 6g of protein per serving, and is sugar/dairy/gluten/soy/wheat free & low in sodium.

It has the perfect amount of sweet – not to much, not too little…but if you’re someone who needs their rice pudding extra sweet, try drizzling this with some honey or agave or sprinkle with coconut nectar before serving – Enjoy!

What are your favorite cold-weather comfort foods? Let me know…

Michael Symon’s Zucchini Risotto

If you think cutting out sugar, fats, processed foods and – in my case – eating a plant-based diet means missing out on comfort foods, you’d be wrong.

Autumn has come to Oregon and I couldn’t be happier. Cooking & baking in the heat is not my favorite thing to do :)

This week I caught the tail end of The Chew with my Mom, and we watched them whip up this lovely looking risotto. I was especially excited to try it because –

1 – I have never tried or cooked risotto before, and I’m always looking to learn new things.
2 – I love comfort foods.
3 – Anything with a big bunch of fresh basil in it catches my eye!

Since I made this recipe just the way Michael Symon did (minus the grated cheese), I can’t take credit for anything but sharing it with you….It’s warm, flavorful, and best of all, it’s good-ol’-stick-to-your-ribs-cold-evening comfort. You’ll find it hard to believe it’s completely free of butter, cheese or dairy. Enjoy!

Michael Symon's Zucchini Risotto

Grilled Breakfast PB&J

Fall mornings in Oregon are wonderful. Cool and crisp, they scream ‘comfort food’. These are the mornings I find it most difficult to gulp down a cold protein shake before heading off to the gym. It’s usually the only time I miss warm & hearty meals. This grilled PB&J is warm, crunchy, and sweet, but packed with protein. It’s like getting to have a big gooey pastry without the guilt & without the inevitable sugar-crash and carb coma.
Grilled PB&J


  • Spread the butter spread on the outsides of your bread, and PB & J on the inside. Grill to desired level of crisp/brown.
  • Pretty simple, I didn’t include measurements since *my* idea of just the right ratio of PB to J could be completely different than yours ;) You will, however, be getting 12g of protein from the bread alone!
  • Vegan, soy-free, refined sugar-free

PB&J’s have become very popular as of late here in the Pacific NW. Especially the grilled variety. At Farmer’s Markets and Food Carts, and assembled with an eclectic variety of ingredients. Recently my niece and her mom hit up a food cart in Downtown PDX which featured one with pickles! And they loved it.

Have a favorite grilled sandwich or off-the-wall PB&J combo that you love? Let us know so we can try them out!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Blueberry Energy Bites

There isn’t much that SpaBettie whips up that I don’t love. This time around, it was her Blueberry Sunflower Energy Bites that caught my eye. A little burnt out on protein shakes at the moment, but still needing some compact protein and quick energy, they looked delicious! Perfect for my uber-busy week – quick-n-simple to make, even easier to grab-n-go in between client calls and marathon coding sessions.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Blueberry Energy Bites

I made a small change to adapt her recipe into a dark chocolate variety by substituting Peanut Butter Co.’s Dark Chocolate Dreams (my fave) for the sunflower butter. These little bites pack an amazing amount of flavor and remind me of Harry & David’s chocolate covered blueberries…something I used to love, but now steer clear of due to the sugar content.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Blueberry Energy Bites

Thanks again for another wonderful recipe, Kristina!