New Year’s in September?

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School starts tomorrow! The beginning of a new school year always feels a little like January 1st to me. It’s a time for me to set new goals, decide how I want the year to go, change old habits that don’t serve me, and think of new ways to approach the daily grind. It’s very exciting.

I started to get really excited about this just yesterday, when I was cooking a whole chicken in the crock pot for chicken noodle soup while simultaneously making my family’s favorite Pasta Caprese for dinner. This summer was a perfect storm of a very busy activities calendar for my 12 year old, a giant volunteer project for me that required hundreds of hours of work, and some weird virus I fought from May through August that left me feeling totally depleted. Cooking for me is a joy when I feel like doing it. Otherwise it just feels like another obligation. So, cooking (truly cooking, not just assembling quesadillas and sandwiches) was one of the first things I ditched when I felt overwhelmed. I have to be honest, it was fantastic for a while. But, now I am feeling better and so I got the itch to cook again yesterday, and it felt good to be back.

As I do every year at this time, I’ve been considering what is important to me this year, and what I can ditch. Cooking is definitely at the top of my “important” list. Getting back to the gym is up there as well. I put my nutrition school on hold because I found I couldn’t balance my volunteer gig and my lethargy with studying. I can’t wait to get back to that. And I have decided this year I am committed to doing small projects around the house that will keep it in better order. Closet clean outs, painting touch ups, and decluttering on the regular are all on the list. Bonus: getting to listen to my favorite podcasts while doing projects will hopefully motivate me! (Pod Save America, Song Exploder, West Wing Weekly, S-Town, and Radio Lab are all on my fave list).

What to ditch? Procrastinating. Saying “yes” to requests when I really want to say “no” (hello PTA). Guilt trips.

Have I missed anything? What’s on your list this fall? Please leave a comment below so I can steal your ideas!

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Fall = Pasta (Caprese Style)


The weather took a sharp turn here this week, with temps dropping into the 30’s overnight and 50’s in the day. It’s gorgeous, this crisp fall weather. It’s also that perfect time of the season where the last of the delicious garden tomatoes are at their peak and you just want to use them in everything before the frost comes and it’s too late.

Late summer/early fall tomatoes are perfect on pasta, I think. We love pasta in our house. We eat it about once a week, always with different variations of sauces. Over the years I’ve migrated from making white flour pasta to whole wheat to quinoa/brown rice blend. Recently I’ve started experimenting with legume pasta. I love that it is made with *only one ingredient*. In addition, legume pasta is high in protein and fiber. It’s also gluten-free,  vegan, and in the case of Pasta Lensi, also Non-GMO Project Verified.

Pasta Lensi, an authentic Italian pasta company, has been around since 1920. And just this September they launched their line of legume pastas. They sent me three flavors to try, which is fun because I really enjoy trying new things (ask any of my friends, they are constantly hearing me talk about something new I’ve discovered).

This week I made the Chickpea Casarecce. It’s made with flour ground solely from chickpeas.  I was told it pairs nicely with chunky sauces so I decided to make Pasta Caprese. Chunky tomatoes, shallots, lemon juice and fresh buffalo mozzarella –what could be better? (Of note: the chickpea pasta is a good source of potassium and iron. Iron is important when you eat mostly vegetarian, and so when you get it from non-meat sources it’s important to pair it with vitamin C. The tomatoes would be perfect for that.)

Look at these gorgeous tomatoes

Sadly, while preparing dinner I realized my mozzarella had gone bad in the fridge. What I didn’t know is that the Chickpea Casarecce would impart a creaminess to the dish, which compensated for the lack of cheese quite nicely. I love that it has 22 grams of protein per 3.5 oz serving.  The high protein content easily made up for the lack of cheese or meat in the dish. It also has 12 grams of fiber, which is just about 1/2 of an adult’s fiber needs for the day.

Dinner was favorably received by my family, and for that I am always grateful. My 11 year old gladly ate her whole bowlful. Here’s the recipe so you can try it at home.

INGREDIENTS:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 small clove garlic, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste (I love flake sea salt)

1.5-2 lbs chopped in-season tomatoes

1 pound Pasta Lensi Chickpea Casarecce (or any pasta of your choice)

8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 cup torn fresh basil

METHOD:

Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, shallot and garlic in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently stir in the tomatoes. Let sit for at least 15 minutes so that the flavors combine. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. (This pasta, like all the legume pastas I’ve tried, creates a foamy layer on the top of the water. Make sure to use a pot bigger than you need and watch so it doesn’t boil over.) Pour the pasta into a large bowl and spoon the tomatoes mixture on top, then stir to combine. Add the mozzarella and basil, and season with salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with whole sprigs of basil. Serve hot or room temperature.

Please let me know what you think of this recipe! Don’t hesitate to share with with your friends!

*I was provided product and compensated for my post by Pasta Lensi. All opinions are authentically mine.

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