Beluga Lentil, Tomato, & Asparagus Salad

When I was shopping at the local health food store the other day, I noticed a package of black beluga lentils and was quite intrigued. I am not a huge fan of lentils, but I just thought they were so cute and would look pretty when plated with some colorful veggies. They are easy to prepare, have a mild flavor and are packed with vitamin B and protein. For the dressing, I used Shiri Zimmerman’s tomato salad dressing recipe with some minor changes (she’s my sister-in-law and fellow lentil lover). The salad turned out to be a huge hit when we served it at her home in Deal, NJ, and is something  that will definitely make multiple appearances over the spring and summer.

Tomato Salad Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic pressed
  • 1 tsp coconut palm sugar (lower glycemic index then white refined sugar- basically it doesn’t cause the sugar highs and lows that refined sugar is guilty of doing. It provides a slower release of energy. Measure it just like sugar 1:1 ratio.)
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 pint yellow and red grape tomatoes halved


  • In a small jar whisk all ingredients together (except tomatoes).
  • Place tomatoes in dressing and let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad- this allows it to absorb all the delicious flavors of the dressing.

Asparagus Ingredients:

  • 1 Bunch Asparagus rinsed
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Asparagus Instructions:

  • Place water and salt in a pot and bring to boil
  • Trim off the tough end of the asparagus (Tip: Take 1 asparagus stalk and snap off the tough end where it naturally breaks.  Place all asparagus together and use the broken asparagus as a guide for where to cut the rest). Discard the tough white end.
  • Place Asparagus in boiling water and cook for 5-8 minutes, or until tender.
  • Once tender remove immediately plunge into bowl of ice water

Black Beluga Lentils Ingredients & Recipe:

I just followed the package instructions for this…

  • Sort and rinse 1 cup lentils. Place in pot. Add 3 cups water. Bring to boil and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until tender.

Garnish with Parsley (as always I need my fresh herb fix) and plate to your liking.  The first time I served this I placed the beluga lentils on a plate. Topped neatly with asparagus and then with tomatoes soaked in dressing.  I then drizzled the remainder of the dressing over the dish (as pictured below).  The second time I made this dish I cut the asparagus into about 1 inch pieces and mixed all ingredients in a bowl and served as a salad for lunch at Shiri’s house (as pictured above). It was a big hit!

Health points: Beluga lentils are packed with fiber and protein. Asparagus is loaded with folate, vitamins A,C,E,K, and antioxidants.

xoxo almost caviar lovers


ABC (Avocado+Banana+Coconut) Vegan Ice Cream

OK I have to admit I belong in Ice Cream Addicts Anonymous. I can seriously eat ice cream every day – snow or sunshine.  In an effort to limit all of the preservatives I consume with store bought ice cream, I decided to make my own unprocessed version.  Sorry Edy’s slow churned – I know you will be losing a lot of business.

What was the inspiration behind the ingredients? Simply, things I had around the apartment.  Here is a tip: buy a bunch of bananas, peel, and freeze.  I almost always have bananas at hand to throw into smoothies or other banana-related items.  As for the avocado, I watch a lot of Iron Chef America (best show ever) and they always seem to be putting things you wouldn’t expect in the ice cream maker. So why not avocado? let’s start adding some healthy fats to our ice cream!

Kitchen Gadgets: Here at the TeamZ Ponderosa, we seem to be collecting kitchen gadgets by the minute.  We may need to leave NYC because we will soon outgrow our kitchen.  I guess that is why we have space under the bed right?! So I made this recipe 2x once with an ice cream maker and once without.  It came out awesome even without the ice cream maker- I promise. I had it taste tested by cousin Andrew and BFF Atara (and of course the hubby- but he likes everything I make..or at least that’s what he’s contractually obligated to say).  Without the ice cream maker it has more of an ices texture, while the ice cream maker creates a more lasting creamy feel and appearance.

Ok enough talk. Here is the recipe.  As you can tell I am super passionate when it comes to my ice cream.


  • 1 avocado- pit removed
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 13.5 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • chocolate chips


  • Place all ingredients in blender (except for chocolate chips)
  • Once blended transfer to ice cream maker and follow manufacturer instructions
  • Mix in chocolate chips
  • Transfer to air tight container and place in freezer

If you do not have an ice cream maker – after blending transfer to air tight container and place in freezer.  Remove from freezer about every 30-45 minutes and stir with spatula or whisk.  Keep checking and stirring periodically until frozen. The pictures were taken of the non-icecream maker version.

xoxo Ice Cream Addicts

Passover Friendly Pesto Spaghetti

I find that on Passover I eat a ridiculous amount of carbs – from matzah pizza to chocolate lollipops – and I end up feeling really weighed down. This year I will try to make an effort to eat healthier and hopefully not feel the need to detox after the holiday.

I heart spaghetti squash all year round but it is especially perfect for Passover.  It is a great no carb, low calorie, and gluten free food with which you can easily substitute your pasta.

I also like to be creative with my pesto. Basil and pine nuts are not requirements, but  when making a pesto, you can just as easily pick and choose based on what ingredients you have in your house. All you need is a green fresh herb + a nut + garlic + olive oil. Classic pesto has parmesean but it is not necessary.

Ingredients for Cilantro Spinach Pesto:

  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2 tbsp toasted almonds (toast on un-greased pan over medium heat, and stir until golden brown)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of lemon zest
  •  pinch of salt and black pepper


Combine all pesto ingredients in food processor except for the olive oil. Finely chop and then stream in olive oil.

Tip:  Double the recipe and place in cube tray, then store in the freezer for future use!

pesto-cilantro spinach

Ingredients for Pesto Spaghetti Squash:

  • 1 spaghetti squash

  • spinach cilantro pesto from above
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 375 F.

2. Pierce squash with a knife in several places. Cook for 50 minutes – until squash is easily pierce-able with a knife.

I prefer to cut my squash after it is cooked – I find it much easier!

3. Let cool for 15 minutes.  Cut squash in half, lengthwise. Use a fork to scoop out seeds and discard. Then, using your fork, pull strands of squash away from peel and place in bowl.

4. Heat an olive oil coated skillet. Add spaghetti squash strands, pesto, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly to heat and combine.

Serve immediately. Feel free to garnish with toasted almonds, and if you want to go dairy, sprinkle some parmesan cheese!

xoxo getting creative with passover and pesto

Dare to Go Hazel-nuts: Homemade Hazelnut Milk!

For the most part I do not purchase milk.  I use soy, coconut, or almond milk instead of cow’s milk.  In general I have been trying to limit the amount of dairy in my life. I think we were not designed to drink and digest the milk of other animals.  AND I have watched way too many documentaries- Hungry for Change, Reboot with Joe, Forks Over Knives, Vegucated…

Since moving to the upper east side, one of my many health-oriented discoveries was the Green Bean Cafe, conveniently located only a few blocks from my apartment.  They serve vegan and organic food in this adorable, warm, and friendly cafe.  One of my favorite things that I have picked up from the shop is freshly made almond milk- they make it daily! I was inspired and feeling adventurous and decided to make my own homemade hazelnut milk. If they can do it- why can’t I?!

Although it takes some advanced planning it is super simple and doesn’t require any fancy kitchen supplies.


  • 1 cup raw hazelnuts
  • 2 dates
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Agave Nectar
  • Water for soaking
  • 3 cups water for blending
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil- melted (it is solid at room temp)

Kitchen Gadgets:

  • Blender
  • Fine Mesh Strainer/ or cheesecloth

Soak the hazelnuts overnight for 12-24 hours.  Soak the dates overnight in a separate bowl of water

Drain the hazelnuts until the water is clear and discard the soaked water.

Save the date water!

                  Toss the hazelnuts into your blender with 3 cups of water.  Blend on high speed until nuts are completely pulverized.

Strain the milk with a mesh strainer or cheese cloth- this makes it nice and smooth. Place the pulp aside.

tip: Use a spoon to press down on the pulp to help release the milk

Pour strained milk back into the blender. Remove the pit from the dates (I used medjool dates) and add dates to blender. Pour in about 1/4 cup of date water. Add cinnamon and agave nectar.

Slowly Poor in coconut oil at a steady stream while blender is whirling.

Blend until completely smooth. Let it sit in the refrigerator for 1 hour.  Serve on ice. You can also keep it in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for a few days. Makes approx 3 cups.

Go out for a run and then drink up.

Nutritious, creamy, raw, vegan, and delicious! 

Ahh what about all the pulp?

I used it to make hazelnut flax seed crackers in our dehydrator.  It can also be used in cookies and cakes.

This is my first time ever using our dehydrator so I will post dehydrating recipes when I feel more confident in this department.

Here are some pics:

And the final Result:

Wasn’t exactly going for the cardboard look but the taste is good and practice makes perfect.

xoxo nutty for hazelnut

Squash It

Roasted Butternut Squash with Red Onion, Sage, and Goat Cheese

I have been in love with the flavors of butternut squash and sage melded together for years now. In my opinion this is one of the best fruit + herb combinations!

I would recommend that you buy fresh sage for this recipe. I promise you won’t regret it. Once you pop it in the oven with the squash the fresh aroma of the sage will get your appetite going.  Not to mention sage also has mucho health benefits- it is known to be an antiflammatory and antiseptic.


– 1 butternut squash- pealed and diced

– 1/2 large red onion

– sage

– salt/pepper/spicy paprika

–  olive oil

– Goat cheese

Start by preheating the oven to 425.

Heat your pan (i love my cast iron) over a medium flame.  Add a little olive oil and then toss in 1/2 large sliced red onion. Saute until it softens and becomes slightly translucent.

On a roasting pan toss butternut squash with olive oil, salt, pepper, and spicy paprika (that’s the hungarian in me). In my house paprika is just as important as salt, pepper, and toilet paper.  I do advice that you buy the hungarian brand of paprika- the flavor is much more potent.  Wash and dry several leaves of sage and mix in. Add in the sautéed onions.

I have to admit- I cheat and buy the already pealed and pre-cut squash.  Please do not judge.

Roast for about 40 minutes-untill tender and lightly browned, tossing halfway through.

Transfer to a serving bowl and top with goat cheese crumbles.

And I am the worst wife ever because I gobbled it up before my husband got home and left the dirty dishes in the sink.  One day I will be better.

Eat, Enjoy, and Squash It.

The Chia Comeback

If you are an 80’s baby this should bring back memories of the ch ch chia pet.

Well the chia seed is moving on up in life and has many more benefits aside from turning into a luscious fur coat for your terracotta kitten.

Why eat chia?

  • Packed with omega-3 fatty acid – it is the richest plant source for this oil.
  • Age-defying antioxidants – antioxidants prevent free radical damage in the body.
  • High in both soluble and insoluble fiber.
  • Increases your energy level – the Aztecs called it the “running food”.

Why is it magical?

It looks like a seed but once exposed to water it forms a coating of gel which increases its size.  This gel made of water has no extra calories and it helps your body think it is full.

How should I eat it?

Can be mixed into yogurt, oatmeal, baked goods, or smoothies.  No need to grind.

Chia Pudding Recipe:

– 1 1/4 cup coconut milk (may also use almond milk).  I like the Silk brand and buy original unsweetened.

– 1 tbsp maple syrup

– 4 tbsp chia seed

– Dash of cinnamon

– Top it off with some orange zest

Combine all ingredients in a jar, shake, and let sit for 30 minutes.  Can stay in the fridge up to one week – and actually gets better with time.

Eat Chia.

Introduce it to your friends, family, and coworkers.

My officemate xiomara (nickname Z) trying the chia pudding.

xoxo chia fanatic