Hey y’all!

First off, my apologies for being MIA on the blogosphere lately. We just had a lovely long weekend, and to be honest, I would much rather be roasting marshmallows, screaming on rides at Six Flags, and taking a dip in Lake Michigan than inside and writing. But it’s Tuesday and we are back to business! Fall business. Serious business. Replacing-ice-cream-with-kale kind of business.

To help us all start September on the right track, I’m doing a two week real food challenge! Every day for the next two weeks, I’ll be posting a recipe that I’ve tried and tested in my own kitchen. Criteria for these recipes…

Real: meaning made with good-for-you ingredients: no artificial sugar, and light on dairy and simple carbs. We want food that makes you feel as good as it tastes!

Good: because, let’s be honest, I’ve had enough sad tilapia filets in my day to realize that you’ll stay motivated only as long as you enjoy what you’re eating.

Do-able: I’ve opted for recipes with ingredients that you should be able to find at your local grocery store, and things you should be able to make without much difficulty.

I’ll be doing a recap of how well each of these recipes scored in each category. And to start off, I’m sharing a recipe I made for Labor Day and that you should DEFINITELY add to your cookout/tailgate roundup: Rainbow Salad with Black Bean Pasta!

Processed with Snapseed.

This recipe started because I had a bag of black bean pasta in my pantry. Maybe you don’t have a bag of black bean pasta in your pantry. In that case, you should definitely head to the nearest Trader Joe’s and get some, along with their Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (we all have our reasons). ANYWAYS, I wanted to use this pasta in a end-of-summer-beginning-of-fall dish, and what better way to do that than pasta salad?

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To give this salad a little flair, I wanted to roast some of the veggies I used: mainly, the red pepper and corn. If someone has a better way to roast veggies, tell me, because I literally just threw them on the stove and hoped for the best.

Processed with Snapseed.Roasty!

Processed with Snapseed.I added some other summer veggies for color: tomato, red onion, and zucchini. Also, feta cheese because it’s my favorite and I needed another color in this salad.

Processed with Snapseed.This is the moment where you feel like a real salad champion, chipped nail polish aside. Meanwhile, I put together a super easy vinaigrette and gave everything a quick toss!

Processed with Snapseed.Boom. Lunch-ready, cookout-ready, get-in-my-tummy ready!

Processed with Snapseed.

So, how does this salad fare?

Real: 10/10. Black bean pasta is a great source of protein, and will indulge your pasta cravings without feeling all heavy. The fresh veggies make this a complete meal, but it’d be great with grilled chicken or fish!

Good: 10/10. Because of the cheese and vinaigrette, this pasta salad tastes as good as any other salad you might have, without being overly heavy on dairy or sugar. It’s cool and refreshing.

Do-able: 9/10. It might be hard to find black-bean pasta, but feel free to substitute another grain-free pasta (brown rice or quinoa can be found at most grocery stores). Other than that, most of these ingredients may be lurking in your fridge already!

In other words: definitely make this colorful salad to take to work tomorrow, or to your next gathering. It’s the perfect turn-of-the-season dish!



Rainbow Salad with Black Bean Pasta (gf)

serves 2-3


  • 2 cups Trader Joe’s Black Bean Rotini (or other gluten free pasta)
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • 1/2 ear corn
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

For vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1.  In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients for vinaigrette and set aside.
  2. Prepare pasta according to directions, rinse with water, and drain well.
  3. While pasta is cooking, roast red pepper and corn on an open flame, or in a skillet. Set aside to cool.
  4. Dice tomato, red onion, and zucchini into bite-sized pieces.
  5. In a large bowl, layer noodles, vegetables, and feta cheese. Drizzle with vinagrette and toss until blended.
  6. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve!

One thought on “Introducing: Two Week Real Food Challenge

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