Quinoa Beanballs

by lauren atkinson


I like this variation of a meatball as they are hearty and have a fantastic texture. The sage and paprika together will bring through a meatier, smoky flavor. This recipe created ~24 balls and they can be kept in the refrigerator, uncooked, up to 1 week or you can freeze them for about a month. 

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 can Great Northern White Beans
1 jar sundried tomatoes, with oil (4oz jar)
2 whole cloves of garlic
1.5 tsp paprika
1 tbsp sage
0.5 tbsp parsley
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste


1. Blend the Beans and tomatoes! In a food processor or blender, you will want to pulse the beans along with the garlic and sundried tomatoes until smooth. Once this is done, set aside. No need to strain the tomatoes prior to adding to the food processor: the oil from the tomatoes will assist in holding the mixture together. 
2. Rinse the Quinoa. If you are using a quinoa that is not pre-rinsed, you will want to rinse the quinoa.* You can rinse quinoa by using a fine sieve and running warm water over the quinoa while agitating the quinoa a bit with your hands or a spoon.
3. Cook Your Quinoa. I like to cook my quinoa in vegetable broth. Combine the broth and quinoa in a saucepan, bring to a boil. Once boiling lower the heat and cover your saucepan. It will take 10-15 minutes for the quinoa to cook. Cooked quinoa will be fluffy and most (if not all) of the liquid will be absorbed.** I then let the quinoa rest for a few minutes, removed from heat so that it cools a bit before being handled.
4. Mix it all together. Once your quinoa has cooled a bit, combine the bean mixture and quinoa in a large mixing bowl. At this point, you will also add your spices: the sage, paprika, black pepper, and salt. The mixture should be tacky (that's the beauty of the white beans! food glue!) 
5. MAKE THE BALLS. roll the mixture with your palms into 1.5inch balls. I like to scoop the mixture into my palm using a spoon -- this creates less mess. Once you have your balls, place them gently on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. 
6. Bake at 375° for ~35 minutes. The outside will brown a bit. 


These quinoa and bean balls are great with pasta. I like to add these into my marinara and simmer for a few minutes prior to serving. I'd image these would be AWESOME on a sub too :)


*Rinsing quinoa removes the natural coating on it. If you do not do this, your quinoa might taste a little more bitter than you're expecting. Some brands of boxed quinoa comes pre-rinsed so no effort is needed there :) If you buy bulk foods, you will need to rinse! 
**Cooked quinoa will have "germ" (the outer ring of the quinoa) start to separate from the seed. 

Cream of Potato and Cauliflower Soup

by lauren atkinson

This recipe came about as I had found beautiful cauliflower in the grocery store. Carnival Cauliflower comes in many varieties. Bright oranges, fluorescent greens, and purples. I love the way that it looks but it also develops a beautiful color once cooked with other foods. I thought that using it in a soup would create a contrast of color, instead of having the normal cream to beige color of soup.
Something about late fall and moving into the holiday season gets me inspired with my cooking. I enjoy switching out the usual ingredients for warmer colors, brighter tastes, and higher temperatures. This soup has a great peppery taste and the consistency of a comfort food.
When I whipped out this soup the other day, I had every intention of only eating 1 bowl and saving the rest for later in the week. However, the soup was so good and I had some heavy workouts which resulted in extra hunger, that my husband and I ended up eating the entire pot over the course of the day! That's what happens when you feel trapped indoors due to Bay Area Fog!


Yields 6-8 bowls of soup
1 large head of cauliflower, leaves removed, chopped into smallest florets. (As mentioned above, I used carnival cauliflower, giving the soup a greenish hue!)
4 large golden yukon potatoes, cubed
1 medium red onion, diced small
3 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tbsp Black Truffle Oil (or fragrant oil of your choice)
6 cups vegetable broth
3 cups unsweetened, unflavored almond milk
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
 a pinch of salt, to taste

Food Processor or Blender
Small saucepan to boil cauliflower
Large pot for soup
Wire Mesh Strainer


In a large pot on medium heat, bring onion and garlic to temperature over the truffle oil, stirring frequently. Onions should be translucent and garlic, fragrant. At this point, reduce heat to low and add cubed potatoes and spices. Cook the potatoes about five minutes, until slightly golden and softer. Then add vegetable broth. Bring the broth to a boil.

While the onions and garlic are cooking, boil a smaller pot of water with the cauliflower. Once the water and cauliflower is brought to a boil, the cauliflower should be soft and yield to pressure without mushing. At this point, remove from heat and drain in the colander. 

Add the cauliflower to the large pot containing onions, garlic, potato, spices and broth. Boil for 10 minutes. Once potatoes are soft, remove the pot from heat. Here is where a mess can happen so be careful! Using a wire mesh strainer, removed all solid food from the broth and add to a blender or food processor. Pour almond milk into blender and pulse on low until smooth. Transfer this mixture back into the broth and bring the soup back to a low boil. Add salt, to taste.

Soup is now ready to enjoy! Garnish with feta cheese or nothing at all!  


Quick Salad

by lauren atkinson

Here's a quick salad that will curb a few cravings: in the mood for a taco but don't want the guilt? Just take this for a spin! Fastest salad you'll concoct that will make you feel full! 


Salads like this are perfect for second meals: I tend to have my most protein-filled meals at breakfast and midday, with a salad like this being an in-between meal/snack, or substituted for lunch with a protein shake!  


2 cups baby spinach
 1/2 cup cucumber, cubed
2 tbsp feta cheese
1/4 of an avocado, peeled and then diced
3 tbsp of salsa of your choice
1 Roma tomato, diced
1/4 Red Kidney Beans
add a side of 1 serving corn chips for dipping or crumbling!

For me, this meal equaled out to 377 calories! A great small meal perfectly rounded out with a protein shake or smoothie.

For added accessibility: chopped half of your vegetables after purchase! If you know what meals your produce is going to, preparing by chopping and dicing makes the preparation of meals so much faster, especially with the produce you use daily. For me, I always dice a few tomatoes and cucumbers, and half of my celery gets cut, so that meals are faster to make and I have no excuses!  

Lentil and Feta Stuffed Acorn Squash

by lauren atkinson

My favorite season is autumn. And every year sometime around August, I get in the mood to start cooking for the season even if it is a little early. What says autumn more than squash, really?

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1 acorn squash, cut in half seeds removed
1/2 red onion, diced small
1 can Cannellini bean, drained and rinsed
1 cup red lentils, rinsed then cooked
1 tbsp EVOO
1/2 tbsp cardamom
1 tsp sage
1 tbsp thyme
1/2 tbsp rosemary
pinch of black pepper
3 cups water
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
3 bay leaves
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bake dish, combine the 3 cups of water with 2 tbsp nutritional yeast and bay leaves to make a broth. Turn the acorn squash halves flesh side down in the baking dish. Once the oven has preheated bake the squash for 25 minutes. Flesh of the squash will be soft. 


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While the squash is baking, cook lentils. Lentils will take about 15 minutes to cook, so while they are simmering, use a potato masher to squash beans in a bowl, adding spices. When the lentils are finished, add the lentils to the beans and mix together with olive oil. 

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Once the squash is ready, remove from the oven. Flip the squash so the skin side is down. Scoop the mixture into the squash halves. (you may have remaining filling depending on the size of the squash. The leftovers taste great on a sandwich paired with greens!) Top with a desired amount of feta and then salt to taste. Place the squash back in the oven for ten minutes. Cheese will have browned. 

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Taco Tuesday: Fennel Tacos

by lauren atkinson

Fennel is an ingredient that often times gets the short-end of the stick. Many times it gets set aside due to its licorice scent and bitter freshness when it's raw. 

I've found that fennel just needs some friends: warm, spicy friends that allow fennel to be a refreshing stand-out. What better way to allow that to happen then to throw it in a taco alongside traditional taco seasonings?

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1 Fennel Bulb, cleaned and sliced thinly
1/2 Large Red Onion- peeled and sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, sliced into inch-long pieces
4oz Brown Clamshell mushrooms
1 cup baby creamer potatoes- mixed assortment; washed and halved
2 tbsp black truffle oil
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
corn tortillas
parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a glass roasting pan (or pan of your choice) toss sliced fennel, red onion and brown clamshell mushrooms with olive oil. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes, fennel will become soft and onions will start to carmelize, mushrooms browned. 


In a medium sized bowl, combine all spices. Toss these spices in the potatoes with black truffle oil and red bell pepper slices. When well combined, put the mixture in a roasting pan and cook for 25-30 minutes, until potatoes are soft.

Allow both pans of vegetables to cool about five minutes, then serve on corn tortillas. garnish with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

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