Vibrant Penne Pasta


I am SO excited to share this recipe with you.

My mom and I made this pasta when we had my grandparents over for dinner last week. We didn’t use any sodium in this recipe because my grandpa cannot eat sodium for health reasons. We just put a little bit of seasoning salt on our pasta after it was served.

Lots of garlic, tomatoes, and fresh vegetables give the pasta a fresh flavor, and the basil gives it a little zing. The sauce is like a thinner, more natural version of canned spaghetti sauce, which we couldn’t use because it is FULL of sodium. My grandparents loved the pasta, and not just because their daughter and granddaughter made it! (hehe)

This pasta has SUCH great, vibrant flavor. I hope you love it as much as my family did!




Vibrant Penne Pasta

serves 8-10

takes around 40 minutes to prepare (active time : 20 minutes)

based off of “Pasta Primavera with Fresh Veggies and Herbs” from The Vegan Table*

  • 1 box (16 ounces) of penne pasta
  • olive oil (to drizzle the bottom of a pan with)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 large (or 9 baby) carrots, chopped into 1 inch circles
  • 1 head of broccoli, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped into 2 inch strips
  • 10-12 asparagus stalks, cut into 1 or 2 inch pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups (4 or 5 medium-sized) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch (around 8) scallions, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped & loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup toasted pine nuts**
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta.
  3. Meanwhile, dump the pine nuts into a roasting pan and roast them for 6-8 minutes (until they’re darker and lightly toasted)
  4. Cut the veggies. Drizzle the bottom of a roasting pan with olive oil. Add the chopped veggies and garlic to the roasting pan and roast them for 15 minutes, then flip the veggies and roast them for 15 minutes on the other side. Take out the veggies when they are crispy.
  5. Transfer the roasted veggies into a sauté pan, and turn the stovetop to low heat. Pour the tomatoes into the pan. Stir to combine them with the veggies.
  6. Pour the vegetable stock into the pan, stir, and let the mixture simmer until it is thoroughly heated.
  7. Add scallions and chopped basil to the mixture and stir until combined.
  8. Pour the drained pasta back into the pasta pot. Add the veggie mixture to the pan and mix it with the pasta.
  9. Serve the pasta. Top with fresh basil and roasted pine nuts.
  • *I changed the veggies, amounts, and directions from the original recipe.
  • **You CAN use other nuts (like cashews), but pine nuts taste best with this dish!


xx Ellie


Gingery Veggie Stir-Fry


I’m all about using fresh vegetables in the summer. We have a square foot garden at my cottage, which is where I live in the summer. I live in the cottage, not the garden btw. I may eat a bag of baby carrots a day, but  I’m not THAT much of a rabbit.

We grow all kinds of vegetables in our garden, but the plants that thrive there are broccoli, green beans, swiss chard, lettuce, and kale! I used three of those five fresh vegetables in this stir-fry, which is one of my go-to summer meals. It has a great natural flavor thanks to the fresh veggies, but it also has a little kick from the ginger and garlic.



fresh veggies from our garden  : green beans, broccoli, and swiss chard

I use the vegetables we have on hand when I make this stir-fry. I often just step outside and grab veggies from the garden! No worries if you don’t have a garden. You can just use whatever veggies you have in your kitchen for this stir-fry! This ginger / garlic combo tastes great with almost any vegetable (although I’m not sure how great it would taste with beets or cucumbers…).

It is the perfect light summer meal, but it also makes a great side dish. I can see this being served at a dinner party, as a potluck dish, or as a side to a veggie burger!

Enjoy one of my favorite simple, flavorful, and fresh meals!



Gingery Veggie Stir-Fry

serves 2

*This is a very “laid back” recipe. Below is what my mom and I usually stir-fry, but you can add and subtract as many veggies as you’d like!*

  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1-2 cups beans
  • 1-2 ears of corn
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1-2 cups swiss chard (3-6 large leaves)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger OR you can use squeeze-able ginger like the one linked HERE.
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Chop the veggies into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Spray / oil a large pan with cooking spray / olive oil.
  3. Add the veggies to the pan. Turn the heat on the pan to medium-high. Sauté the veggies (stir them back and forth with a spatula) until the swiss chard is wilted and the veggies are a tiny bit brown and look ready to devour! Pour the veggies into two bowls, season with more ginger, garlic, salt, and pepper (if desired) and enjoy!

Have a happy, veggie-filled day!

xx Ellie

P.S. – a great post-meal snack is one of these cupcakes! I made these yesterday for my street’s block party. They’re banana chocolate chip spice cupcakes with expresso frosting. I guess they’d be called banoffee  spice cupcakes? The recipe is from Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli (I’m kind of obsessed with her and her recipes if you haven’t noticed… 🙂 ). I topped them with cinnamon and a Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chip (I’m also obsessed with these chocolate chips!!!).


5 Minute Quesadilla


Quesadillas are perfect for days when you a) don’t feel much like cooking, b) are trying to clean out the veggies from your fridge, or c) when you’re running late and need to make and eat something quickly.

This quick and easy quesadilla takes only 5 minutes to make! And it’s customizable — you can put whatever veggies you have on hand into it! Hooray for simple recipes! Quesadillas are also a great way to eat more veggies, which we need a lot of (look at this neat food pyramid!).


I enjoyed this quesadilla a lot. I hope you do too!




  • 2 tortillas
  • ½ cup vegan cheese, such as Daiya mozzarella (sold at most grocery stores)
  • 3-4 tablespoons salsa
  • 1 cup sliced broccoli
  • green beans
  • ½ cup spinach
  • olive oil OR cooking spray (for pan)
  • OTHER ADD-INS: mushrooms, asparagus, carrots, avocado, zucchini, swiss chard, meat substitutes (tofu, tempehseitan, etc.)

Chop the veggies. Drizzle 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large pan OR spray the pan with cooking spray. Add a tortilla to the pan. Sprinkle cheese on top of the tortilla. Add the veggies and the salsa. Add more cheese. Add a second tortilla on top. Turn up the heat on the burner to medium-high. Let it cook for a minute or two, then spray the top tortilla with cooking spray. Now, flip the quesadilla with a giant spatula if you have one! The flipping is the trickiest part of the whole recipe! I’m proud of you for doing it. Then let the other side cook for a minute. When both sides are light brown and crispy, turn off the heat, take the quesadilla out of the pan, and put it onto a plate. Cut it in fourths (like in the pictures), or just eat it as one gigantic thing. Your choice!



Vegan Resources

My Cookbook Staples


images via

Favorite Vegan Food Blogs

  • Oh She Glows is bursting with simple vegan recipes that even non-vegans will enjoy! The site is run by Angela, the author of The Oh She Glows Cookbook (mentioned above).
  •  Minimalist Baker is run by a husband and wife duo. They create delicious dishes, and their photography skills are out of this world!
  • Chocolate-Covered Katie is full of healthy but still yummy desserts created by Katie, who might love chocolate even more than I do!
  • Oh, Ladycakes is awesome. Wonderful, simple recipes + gorgeous photos + funny commentary = perfection.
  • The Friendly Fig is a great blog for new vegans and practiced vegans alike! It has awesome vegan resources and easy vegan recipes with ingredients you probably already have around your house.

Favorite “Vegan” Documentaries

I hope you enjoy these “vegan” resources! Have a happy and healthy day!

xx Ellie

Pesto Protein Bowl


What is your favorite “type” of food? By type I mean ethnicity, a.k.a. where the food originally came from.

I honestly don’t have one favorite type of food. I LOVE Mexican food (salsa’s where it’s ATTTT), Costa Rican food (beans and riceeeeee), Thai food (peanut noodles = heart eye emoji), and Mediterranean food (baba ganoush and HUMMUS >>> ). But sometimes I crave Italian food (pasta, pizza, and LOTSA BASIL) and “American” food.

Okay change of subject (but it’s related) : what counts as American / USA food? I feel like it’s a mix of a bunch of other cultures’ food. When I think of USA food I UNFORTUNATELY can only think of McDonald’s type of food : burgers, fries, milkshakes, ice cream. I also think of pizza and spaghetti (but then I’m like, “aren’t those Italian!?”). SO anyway, tell me in the comments what YOU think is “American” food!

So back to my favorite food culture. I LOVE Mexican food, but I also like Italian food. That’s why I love this bowl. It’s a Mexican-type bowl full of grains, black beans, and salsa-like ingredients like corn and tomato. Then you add pesto and it adds an Italian flair to what I previously decided was a Mexican-themed bowl. So if you have a hankering for Mexican food and ALSO Italian food, try this bowl! That way, you can enjoy the foods and flavors of both cultures!

It’s a pesto protein bowl because it’s very pesto-y and chock-full of protein thanks to the quinoa and black beans. Enjoy it!


Pesto Protein Bowl

serves 4

*It’s SUPER quick and easy to make!*

For the Pesto

from pg. 12 of The New Basics cookbook

  • 2 cups of fresh basil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Process the garlic, basil, salt, and pepper in the food processor. Slowly add in the oil through the “feed tube” while the motor is running. Process until the basil is puréed.

For the Bowl

  • the pesto (obvi)
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1  15.5 oz. can black beans
  • 4 ears of corn
  • 3 tomatoes
  • basil leaves (to top the bowls)
  1. Measure 1 cup of dry quinoa and cook according to package directions. Pour the quinoa into a big bowl when it’s done cooking.
  2. Drain and rinse the black beans (keep the liquid to make aquafaba!) and add them to the bowl.
  3. Cook some corn and add it to the bowl.
    • Side note: a great way to cook corn is to wrap the ear in a wet paper towel and cook it in the microwave! Cook each ear for 2 minutes on high. So if you do 2 ears at a time, set the microwave for 4 minutes. ***Thanks Dama for the tip!***
  4. Wash the tomatoes, then cut them into small pieces and put them in the big bowl.
  5. Pour all the pesto into the bowl and mix all the ingredients together.
  6. Scoop the mixture into bowls, and serve with fresh basil leaves and salt + pepper. Enjoy!

Have a fun day!

xx Ellie

Pink and Green Smoothie


I LOOOOOOVE smoothies. They’re easy to make, (most are) healthy, they’re tasty, and they’re a great way to add extra greens into your diet!

My favorite types of smoothies are COLORFUL. Green, pink, yellow, purple… even brown smoothies are great (because brown = chocolate / peanut butter)!

I love this smoothie because it’s colorful (and it tastes good)!

Enjoy it!


Look! The pink layer ended up swirling into a heart shape! ♥

Pink and Green(s) Smoothie

serves 1

For the green layer : 

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1/4 to ½ cup of nondairy milk (less liquid = thicker smoothie)

for the pink layer :

  • ½ cup frozen strawberries or raspberries
  • ½ cup nondairy milk
  1. Blend the green layer. Pour it into a big glass or mason jar.
  2. Rinse out your blender.
  3. Blend the pink layer and pour it into the same glass / jar as the green layer.
  4. Swirl the 2 smoothies around together with a spoon and enjoy!


Have a great weekend!

xx Ellie

DIY Gym with Items around the House

I think working out should be FREE. That way, everyone can get into shape regardless of whether or not they have a gym membership! I’m a big fan of workouts that you can do anywhere with anything. I like running, ab workouts, and yoga because they require no equipment and you can do them literally ANYWHERE. I’ve been wanting to expand my blog for a while now to include a fitness section, because fitness plays an important role in my life AND fitness and food go hand-in-hand (work OUT to eat OUT)! So, when Kelsey from Modernize (a home design company) approached me and asked if I’d be interested in sharing a simple workout you can do at home with items you have laying around the house…I said OF COURSE! I filmed myself doing the workout so you can read how to do the exercises (below) and then do them with me! I hope you enjoy this little workout! I like it because you can do it anywhere at any time!

DIY Gym with Items around the House  By Hannah West

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 9.20.20 AM

Via Modernize

It seems like there are two options when it comes to getting regular exercise: join a gym or buy equipment for your own home workout room. But you don’t need to drop hundreds to thousands of dollars to get in shape. Lo and behold, there’s a third option! You can pull off a DIY gym with items that are already hanging out in your house. Your workout room may not be full of fancy machines, but it will certainly get the job done. Here are few ideas for an easy and free home gym. Bench or Chair  A sturdy bench or chair is one of the most versatile workout tools out there. Like squats with weights, chair exercises tend to give every muscle group its due attention. Make sure your chair is sturdy and won’t slide across the floor. On hardwood, this may mean installing foam flooring or a mat that grips the slick surface. DIY-ing your gym doesn’t mean skimping when it comes to safety. Once you have your chair securely in place, here are a few exercises you can try:

  • Chair Leg Raises: First, place the chair next to you, facing the same way as you. Place your left hand on the back for support while lifting your right leg as high as you comfortably can. Repeat as many times as you want before switching to the other hand/leg.
  • Leg Lift and Twist: Sit near the edge of your chair (but not too close) and cross your arms over your chest. With your back straight, lift one leg straight up while keeping the other on the floor. Rotate your torso in the direction of the leg that you’re lifting, and switch from right to left after each lift.
  • One Leg Dips: Stand with your back to the chair or bench. Stand about two feet away from it and place one foot on the chair, with the top pressed against its surface. Dip down by bending the standing leg. Do this as many times as necessary before switching to the other side.

Gallon Jugs Clean two empty gallon jugs and fill them with sand to make “poor man’s (or woman’s) dumbbells.” The advantage to working out with milk jugs versus a machine is that machines do a lot of the balancing for you, while working out with milk jugs teaches smaller, tertiary muscles that are needed for balance to work a little harder. If you need to work your way up to a full jug, you can always start with half gallons. Use your jugs for squats, curls, lunges–pretty much anything you can normally do with dumbbells, you can also do with jug weights. Bath Towel  Surprisingly, you can efficiently work out several muscles groups with nothing but a bath towel. A bath towel can work a lot like a resistance band and is great for toning if you perform the exercises right.

  • Single Leg Squat with Towel: stand with your feet together and place one foot on top of the towel. Slide the towel slowly out to the side, and slide it back in, squatting with the other leg while doing so. Do each side for 30 seconds.
  • Shoulder Hold: Grab a large towel and step on one end. With your palm facing down, grasp the towel and hold it at arm’s length. Bend your knees slightly and keep your feet shoulder width apart. Hold the tension at 45 degrees for 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat. Do this set twice.

Duffel Bag If you want to get old school, grab a sturdy duffel bag that can take some abuse. Fill a trash bag with sand, wrap it with duct tape, and place it inside the bag. You now have a heavy-duty, nothing fancy workout tool. You can squeeze it against your chest and run in place. You can press it overhead. You can use it as a medicine ball by laying on the floor, lifting it from your chest, and doing a situp. These few simple items come with endless ways to get your muscles working hard. Next time you’re rushing to get to your local gym before work or watching an infomercial for an elaborate workout machine, look around your house instead–and head over to for more home gym ideas.

Thanks to Modernize for the workout, and thanks to you for reading! I hope this guideline helped you have a KILLER workout in your DIY home gym!

xx Ellie