Tag Archives: whole grain pasta

Roasted Pumpkin Orzo with Goat Cheese and Cranberries… or Thanksgiving in a bowl

16 Nov

I am not sure if I’m doing Thanksgiving with the family this year… my family on this side is very thin and they all have their own thing going. I may even accept an invitation to do Thanksgiving in the BVIs.

And it got me thinking of all those people out there that do Thanksgiving by themselves… or just with a partner or a family member. Those people, who like me, have their bulk of the family far away from them. My friend Sue reminded me that not everyone has or likes to cook Thanksgiving for tons of people. Sometimes it’s just you. And that’s also something to be thankful for…

I’ve done and practiced this recipe only for myself… so why adapt it to make for more people?? I’ll share it for just one person, but YOU can feel free to multiply it for as many people in your dinner party. It’s indeed something to indulge and maybe even use up any leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner.

Regardless of how I decide to celebrate Thanksgiving this year… and celebrate I will, I already know I can capture all the flavors and feelings of Thanksgiving in this bowl.


Roasted Pumpkin Orzo with Goat Cheese and Cranberries

1/3 cup whole grain orzo pasta
2 cups of pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
3 ounces goat cheese, divided
3-4 Sage leaves, fresh or dried
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
¼ cup dried cranberries
  1. In a baking dish place the pieces of pumpkin, crumble or chop the sage leaves and spread all over the pumpkin pieces. Season with salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Toss well to combine. Add about half the goat cheese in pieces andnestle them in between the pieces of pumpkin. Drizzle an extra olive oil stream over the goat cheese to make sure the cheese browns.
  2. Roast in a 400F oven for about 30 minutes. No need to move or flip anymore. When the time is done, turn off the oven. Leave everything in there to finish cooking while you boil the pasta.


3.  Boil the pasta in salted water according to the package directions. Orzo cooks very quickly… Drain most of the water, but not all. I do not use a colander for this; I just strain most of the water thru the pot cover. The water left will help create the sauce.

4.  Add the remaining goat cheese to the pasta. Stir well to combine, melt the cheese and create a sauce. Add the roasted pumpkin pieces with the toasted goat cheese. You can save a few pieces to use for garnish if you’d like. Add the dried cranberries. Mix all the components well.

5.  Serve using the reserved pieces of pumpkin and goat cheese and maybe a few extra cranberries too.

It’s quick… and almost needs no tending to. It’s a great pasta dish to enjoy during Thanksgiving or to use up some pumpkins you may still have left from Halloween, huh??



The cranberries might sound funky to you, but they balance out the tanginess and savory aspects of the goat cheese and the sage. I might add some toasted nuts next time to see how that plays up. But for now, it’s delish!!!

But where will I get my protein?

30 Sep


Don’t be fooled by people who discourage your vegetarian lifestyle claiming you’ll be protein-deficient…

Check out all the sources of protein available from non-animal sources.  Learn them…  for your own benefit and to answer those skeptics you’ll find along the way.

Other sources of protein are:

  • Nuts and Seedsalmonds, peanuts, cashews, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, quinoa, chia, etc.
  • The milks of such nuts and seeds – like almond milk and sesame seed horchata
  • Other beans besides lentils and black beans – red kidney beans, pinto beans, pink beans, white beans, chickpeas, cannellini beans, fava beans,  green beans, etc.
  • Brown rice – and when combined with beans, it is a complete form of protein.
  • Whole grain pastas – I am guessing the spaghetti in the chart above means whole wheat, but let’s make that note here then.  Regular semolina pasta is not rich in protein, but the whole wheat or whole grain kind is.
  • Spirulina – Spirulina is an algae found in certain lakes.  And in dry form it’s 60% protein…  I have taken it in tablets.

And… excess protein is harmful to our health regardless if it’s animal or vegetable protein.  So be mindful not to exceed the necessary daily requirement.  If we sin, it’s usually because we exceed the necessary protein intake.  By knowing which foods provide which amounts of protein we can plan accordingly and try to avoid the excess.

So, don’t worry about your protein intake…  there’s plenty of protein going around and in the vegetable world there’s way more variety than what people really think.

Basic Italian Tomato Pasta

30 Jul

I told you about the versatile and easy Tomato Italian Salad…  and here’s how you turn a salad into a meal.



1 recipe of Basic Tomato Italian Salad
½ package of pasta – I used kamut spaghetti, but I think it would work better with penne


  1. Bring a large pot with salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to the package directions until al dente.
  2. While the water boils and the pasta cooks, you prepare the Basic Tomato Italian Salad.  If you have some leftovers of this salad left from a previous night, just take it out of the fridge so it can come a bit to room temperature while the pasta cooks.
  3. When the pasta is done, drain it and combine with the Tomato/Mozarella mixture.

Healthy Lifestyle Change for APRIL– Eat only Whole Grain flours

1 Apr

Whole grain flours are much more nutritious than white refined flours.  Whole-grain flours have insoluble fiber very necessary to help our intestines eliminate properly.  There are several benefits to transition from white-refined baked goods:

  • Baked products made with whole-grain flours have more flavor
  • Whole-grain flour has fiber that helps our system with constipation issues
  • Fiber has complex carbohydrates to help you feel more satisfied longer after eating
  • Whole-grain products contain more nutrients

Instead of buying at the grocery store the regular, same-old white bread you usually buy, you’ll now purchase instead:

  • 100% whole-wheat bread – it’s important to read the labels, because there are many sandwich bread brands out there that contain some form of whole-wheat flour, but still the main flour is white.  The label should say 100% whole-wheat and the first ingredient in the list should be whole-wheat flour.
    • Now, there are brands of whole-wheat semi baked baguettes too.
    • Local bakeries, even Pan Pepín in Puerto Rico, bake whole-wheat pan criollo – order this the next time you order a sandwich in a local panadería
    • Buy whole-wheat pita breads – these are great for sandwiches and even for pizzas.  They come in a small and larger sizes.





  • Whole-wheat or whole-grain pastas
    • In any major supermarket now there’s a variety of whole-wheat and alternative grain pastas in a variety of presentations – penne, macaroni, lasagna and fettuccini noodles, among others.
    • Try some alternative grain pastas – like those made out of Rice, Brown rice, Quinoa, etc.



  • Baked Goods made from Whole-Wheat or Whole Grains
    • In many supermarkets and health food stores there’s a wide variety of baked goods made from whole-wheat and other whole grains, such as:
      • Guava Pastelillos – Made in Las Marías, here in Puerto Rico
      • Health Food stores carry several boxed cake mixes made with whole-wheat or alternative flours, for the Baker who does not feel comfortable making cakes from scratch.
      • But if you’re comfortable making things from scratch here are a few cake and cookie recipes you can certainly try:

It’s not that difficult to transition from white/refined baked goods to whole-grain… it just takes a few different choices when we go to the grocery store will bring much more health and nutrition to our lives.  Try it… you will not regret it.

Blue Cheese Mac with Walnuts

31 May

I am a cheese lover… I guess this has been established and proven by the posts on this blog already.  However, blue cheese is a relatively recent acquired taste for me. I always found it too salty and pungent for my taste.  However, I few years ago I went to a really nice restaurant in Ponce, Mark’s at the Meliá, that featured a Boston lettuce salad with crumbled Maytag blue cheese and vinaigrette.  I was a convert after that dish.

Now I do not shy away from blue cheeses anymore.  I love it in desserts, in salads, and lately, in pastas.  That’s how this Mac & Cheese came about.  Kind of like a grown-up version of a mac and cheese. 

I did this dish the first time improvising at my aunt’s house in Miami.  She wanted macaroni with a white sauce.  So I decided to give it a twist to make it interesting.  She loved it and my cousin, whose daughter is a chef, loved it too.  She had never tasted my cooking and she was nicely impressed.

I hope when you make this, you’ll also impress the ones you love and cook for.


 Blue Cheese Mac with Walnuts


1 tbs sofrito
1 tbs olive oil
½ cup milk
4 oz cream cheese
1 handful of grated Italian-blend cheeses
6 oz of blue cheese – your favorite blue cheese will do here
½ cup of walnuts, toasted
½ package of your favorite whole-grain tubular pasta – penne, macaroni or rigatoni will all do


  1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Salt the water and add the pasta.  Cook for about 10 minutes, until almost cooked thru.  Try not to cook them too long, so they do not break when you stir the sauce in.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan over medium heat add the olive oil and sofrito.  Cook for a few minutes and add the milk.  Let it warm through, but be careful it does not boil.
  3. When the milk has heated up add the cheeses.  I leave the blue cheese for the end.  Stir a few times to make sure all the cheeses melt well.  They melt faster and better if they’ve been out of the fridge for a few minutes.  Not necessarily room temp, but not out of the fridge either.
  4. When the pasta is done, drain it and return to the pot.  Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir to combine.  Add the walnuts.
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