It’s nearing the end of tomato season here in California and I’m always sad when this time comes. Soon, I won’t be able to simply walk outside, pick a plump favorite off the bush and maw on it with fervor. My husband professes that I have a freakish love for these nightshades and I unabashedly admit it — they are a perfect fruit that acts like a vegetable. Tomato sauce, Caprese salad, simply sliced with salt/pepper or in these recipes featuring tomatoes — I wallow in the beautiful yellow, red and green orbs all summer. I’ve been developing this paleo friendly gazpacho soup lately since this year’s massive crop has lent itself to tons of experimentation. The ingredient list might look long but this uncooked blender soup comes together in about 15-20 minutes. How easy is that? Add cooked shrimp to make it a complete meal.
Read more: Recipe: Paleo Friendly Gazpacho Soup
Every summer, I grow my own tomatoes. Giddily and enthusiastically. Almost to a fault. I receive my heirloom seed catalog each winter, earmark the hell out of it and plant new varieties each year — starting the seedlings indoors during February for a late April outdoor planting. Watching them grow (quite impatiently, I might add) is a uniquely geeky pleasure since I know what comes to fruition after all the loving nurturing. The harvest! If you follow me on Instagram, you won’t really see pictures of my pets or family… but red, yellow, and green heirloom tomatoes.
Read more: Awesomely easy heirloom tomato salsa recipe
The packages of beef jerky at the gas station make every fiber of my body shudder. I can’t get past the thought of consuming any part of that slimy, salty, chewy “beef product”… the expiration date and unpronounceable ingredient list reveal a recipe for a disgusting, bloated disaster. But too often it’s the only quick protein to be had in a convenience store when on the road, so I reach for nuts, which are a poor substitute when craving meat. I don’t have to worry about that anymore.
Read more: Recipe: How to make homemade beef jerky
I discovered fresh fennel as an adult, after getting over my aversion to anything licorice. I still can’t eat red or black licorice candy but have fallen head over for this anise-scented, bulbous vegetable. I also make salads with it, tossing in whole grain mustard and rice vinegar but this spicy, garlic-y shrimp and fennel recipe is go-to weeknight deliciousness for us. Since fennel can be awkward to slice, cut the bulb in half and place the flat part on the cutting board for leverage. From there, a really sharp 8-inch chef’s knife will help a lot. So simple, you can have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes. Buy peeled and deveined shrimp and it will save even more time.
Read more: Healthy n’ easy, hot n’ spicy dinner recipe: Shrimp with sliced fennel
Most black bean soups start with dried beans, but in this one I use canned. Why? It’s easier and faster. And almost as cheap. Just be sure to wash them to remove the salt which can throw off your soup flavors. This recipe is also designed to be the main course with a simple salad as a side dish.
Read more: Recipe for quick success: Spicy Black Bean Soup (low fat)
The New Year is well underway. I don’t know about you, but for me, the dawning of a brand new calendar encourages me to freshen things up in the kitchen. Gone are the last few months of heavy, overindulgence (thank goodness!), and in comes lightened flavors to get our bodies moving for the new adventures ahead. Like this recipe for Edamame Salad with Avocado and Grapefruit.
Read more: Recipe: Healthy edamame salad with avocado and grapefruit
A hearty, one-dish winter meal that provides tons of veggies and satisfaction. Pair them with an inexpensive sparking wine like Italian Prosecco or Spanish Cava and you’ve got a meal made for any weeknight.
Read more: Spicy sausage-stuffed portobello mushrooms