REAL Lunch: Gemelli Pasta w. Garlic Marinara

Gemelli Pasta

4 c. Gemelli Pasta
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp basil, shredded fresh or dry
3 c. of fresh Marinara
1 TBsp Olive Oil
1/4 tsp salt
Mozzarella Cheese *optional

Set a pot of salted water to boil on high heat.

Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, quickly saute (1 min) the minced garlic and basil in Olive Oil over medium-low heat – taking care not to burn or brown the garlic, that will make it bitter. Add the Marinara to the garlic, oil and basil and lower the heat to low.  Stir well and cook for 12 – 15 minutes.

Check your salted water — when you have a rolling boil, add the Gemelli, stir to prevent sticking and cook until al dente (about 15 mins).

Drain the cooked pasta,

For packing to-go, scoop about 1 c. of pasta per container and top with 3-4 TBsp of Marinara, a few shreds of cheese or fresh herbs.

For dining-in, plate pasta and sauce — serve with crusty Italian Bread, that you can make ahead of time (like, the Sunday before) and a quick Romaine, Carrot and Tomato salad.


AND p.s. – you just got 4 servings of Vegetables in one meal!


REAL Easy Teriyaki Marinade

Dinner Teriyaki


2 parts tamari
1 part agave syrup (or other sweetener)
1 part rice vinegar
1 part dark sesame oil
2 TBsp ginger, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 scallion, sliced
juice  OR zest of 1 lime (zest packs more punch)

Use as a marinade for seitan, tofu, chicken, beef, pork or veggies.

Grill on a hot surface for 10 – 15 mins per side.

Try to pause between bites, it’s soo darn good.

Teriyaki Marinade


REAL Lunch: Quick Gyros

Chicken Gyro

REAL Lunch: Quick Gyro ~ Serves 5 ~ Substitution makes this Vegan Friendly

Unbelievably easy. Insanely delicious (I just finished mine).

I packed them for the kid’s lunches in a 2 ply to-go wrap. One sheet of wax paper, and one sheet of aluminum foil. Fold the sides in and roll the long end together along the top. Perfect.


1 lb chicken tenders OR 1 lb of seitan strips
Spice Blend, 1 TBsp each:
Turmeric, Paprika, Dill, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Salt, Cracked Black Pepper, Parsley.
1 pkg Pita Breads
Olive oil
Lettuce, Shredded
Tomato, Sliced
Shredded Cheese, optional*
Sliced Onions, optional*
Fresh Jalapeno, optional*

//Yogurt Sauce//

1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped parsley or mint
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dark sesame oil


In a medium bowl, coat the chicken tenders with your pre-mixed spice blend.

Turn your broiler to medium-high. Lightly coat both sides of your pita breads with Olive Oil, and either spread them out onto a cookie sheet and place under the broiler for 2 – 5 minutes each side OR using a frying pan, warm the pitas on each side for 2 – 5 minutes.

Pan-fry the spiced chicken (or seitan) on medium-high heat in a heavy bottom pan, using a teaspoon of olive oil. Cook until the meat is cooked through (or until the seitan is browned and crispy) about 10 – 15 minutes. Chop the chicken (or seitan) into chunks, while still in the pan – using a metal spatula.

If you’re packing to-go, grab your wax paper and foil sheets and layer them. Foil first, wax on top. Pita next.

Layer the cheese, chicken (or seitan), lettuce, tomato slices, sliced onions, jalapeno strips and yogurt sauce [feel free to use whatever you have on hand, use Ranch dressing, Bleu Cheeese Dressing, or any other favorite sauce].

Wrap and Pack, enjoy later.

For dining-in, just plate up with fresh fruit and call it a meal!

Happy eating!

Easy Potato Gnocchi

I had always watched fancy cooking shows where recipes like this were made, but when I realized how easy it was to make them, how much the kids liked them, how versatile they were to use – well, I had to.

I made a batch of dough and prepared them two ways.

Caramelized Portabella and Sweet Onion and Basil Pesto – so very good.



5 large potatoes, gold are my favorite

1 egg,  lightly beaten

salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 cup of flour (more for dusting your work surface)

1 tsp fresh nutmeg


1 medium onionplus 2 cloves of garlic and 8 baby bella mushrooms

pesto (fresh or store bought, Sam’s Club brand is great)


Peel all of the potatoes. Fill a large pot with cold water. Salt the water, then cut potatoes in half and place them in the pot. Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes until tender throughout, this takes about 30 minutes.

Remove the potatoes from the water one at a time with a slotted spoon and place into a large bowl.  Work quickly with the potatoes, so that you can mash them when they are still hot. Process the potatoes through a ricer, pulse them in a food processor or mash them with the tines of a fork – no need to make things more complicated eh? The end result is that you have an even consistency and no big lumps.

Let the potato mash cool in the bowl – about ten minutes. When you are ready, drizzle the potatoes with the beaten egg and sprinkle 3/4 cup of the flour across the top. Incorporate the flour and eggs into the potatoes with the egg incorporated throughout – use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to make quick work of it. Scrape the bottom of the bowl and fold the ingredients together, until the mixture is a light crumble. Then knead the dough with your hands, very gently.

Here, you can add more flour (a sprinkle at a time) if the dough is too sticky. The dough should be still be moist, but it should be fairly easy to handle; not tacky. Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Now gently roll each 1/8th of dough into a snake-shaped log, roughly the thickness of your thumb. Use a knife to cut pieces every 3/4-inch. Dust with a bit more flour.

To shape the gnocchi hold a fork in one hand and place a gnocchi pillow against the tines of the fork, cut ends out.

Gnocchi Fork

Lightly, use your thumb and press in and down the length of the fork. The gnocchi should curl into a slight “C” shape, the back will have ridge marks from the tines of the fork. Set each gnocchi aside, dust with a bit more flour if needed, until you are ready to boil them. This step takes some practice, don’t get frustrated – sometimes I just cut them and don’t bother with the tines and ridges; they’re just as good in the shapes of little square plain pillows.

Bring a fresh pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook the gnocchi about ten at a time. They will float to the top of the pot when they are ready. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon, and place them on a waiting platter.

Combine with your sauce or accompanying ingredients of choice – fresh sauteed garlic spinach, pesto, caramelized mushrooms and onions, fresh grated parmesan and a splash of cream with fresh cracked black pepper — the options are endless!

Serves ~ 8