Vegetable antipasto

vegetable antipasto | happyfoodbites

I have a ravenous appetite for vegetables these days, especially in this antipasto form, but as a child I had an insatiable appetite for books and read a bit of everything including a phase in high school almost too humiliating to record when I read the kind of books that showcased a glistening muscular man (complete with a flowing golden mane) gazing over the horizon while a woman of well-endowed proportions swooned in his arms. If there are any redemptive qualities by comparison, I was also the kid that read the dictionary for fun. Less embarrassing than either of those examples are books I read like Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon and Redwall which overflowed with characters who grew into better versions of themselves. To me, that’s the real power of books and the reason I’m an optimistic girl is because I live my life as a story. I have my own primary narrative filled with good and bad characters, with trials and tribulations, and with joyful surprises, but I also relish the times when I get to be a supporting character in other people’s stories.

In all the tales I’ve read and which now live tangled together in my mind, things perpetually end well. “Well” doesn’t always mean a happy ending but that’s okay because it turns out we humans are very bad at calculating how much happiness we actually gain from the things we think will make us happy. The best thing about that is that we are also terrible at the opposite: we over-estimate how bad the bad things will be.1

My childhood idols, mentors, and heroines raced and thrashed across the pages, danced through lines and twirled between words, cried in frustration, screamed with disappointment, but always persevered. The moments that are toughest to live in, those times when you howl I don’t care anymore I’m done, when you want to spend every day sheltered beneath your covers, those are the days when you turn just one more page. You lift your foot and take one more step. And one more after that. You need to know what happens next in your story. Soon you’re not even aware of your steps because you’re not counting them anymore, you’re not giving yourself ultimatums anymore, suddenly you realize you’re actually DOING that thing; the thing that’s uncomfortable, nagging, painful, or boring. The thing about those moments, however long they last, those are the moments you look back on and think about most. Those are the moments when you see your grit and perseverance shine through and those are the chapters where you learn the most about yourself. There are a lot of steps in the prep for this vegetable antipasto but use your moxie and like most things that require time and effort, you will be rewarded (in this case with some happy food bites).

fennel peppers and carrots

The great thing about antipasto is much like a frittata, you can use up any vegetables you have on hand. For this one I used fennel, red and yellow bell peppers, and multicolored carrots as the big veggies.

cut fennel in half

Lop the green stalk and leaves from the top of the fennel and cut it half.

slice fennel into strips

Slice each half into strips.

dice fennel strips

The rotate ninety degrees and dice into large chunks. Once the fennel and carrots are chopped to pieces, add them to a large pot of boiling water and cook for three to five minutes until tender-crisp. Drain and plunge directly into an ice bath until completely cooled.

char pepper over oven flame

Roasted peppers have an extra smoky layer of flavor and you can use jarred ones but it’s so easy to roast your own! Just like charring tortillas, put the pepper directly over a high flame and rotate every thirty seconds until blackened all the around.

fully charred pepper

Once your peppers looks like this, put them in a paper bag with the top folded down a few times for five to ten minutes. As they cool in the bag, the steam will loosen the skin and it will slide off with a gently push from your fingers.

skin removed from peppers

When the skin is removed the peppers will be soft and shiny and almost slimy.

peel open peppers and scrape out seeds

Peel the peppers open and scrape out the seeds, then dice into medium-sized chunks.

additional veggies | happyfoodbites

This would be a very long and very boring post if I had pictures of all the chopping so here are the supporting flavor characters, all sliced and diced: shallots, black olives, marinated artichoke hearts (jarred), pimento stuffed olives (jarred), sun-dried tomatoes (jarred), and fresh grated parmesan cheese.

mix olive oil and balsamic vinegar into spices and minced garlic

Once all the veggies are chopped and tossed together in a large bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, rosemary, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes.

SONY DSCPour marinade over vegetables and toss until well-coated. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator at least twelve hours before enjoying. Antipasto is wonderfully versatile, toss with pasta, serve on oat biscuits, or just eat it by heaping spoonful right out of the bowl! Keeps up to one week in the fridge.

Below is your printable recipe with nutrition information included

vegetable antipasto
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced fennel bulb
  • ½ cup minced shallots
  • 1 cup diced roasted bell peppers
  • ½ cup black olives, chopped
  • ½ cup pimento stuffed olives, chopped
  • ½ cup diced marinated artichoke hearts
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, vinegar, spices, and olive oil until well-blended. Set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add carrots and fennel at the same time and cook about 3 minutes until tender-crisp. Drain and blanch immediately in ice bath until completely cool.
  3. Drain carrots and fennel and combine with shallots, roasted peppers, olives, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan in a large bowl. Pour marinade over vegetables and stir until vegetables are coated. Cover and refrigerate at least 12 hours and up to 1 week.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ¼ cup Calories: 138 Fat: 10 Saturated fat: 1 Unsaturated fat: 8 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 11 Sugar: 4 Sodium: 398 Fiber: 3 Protein: 2 Cholesterol: 3


Human beings are works in progress who mistakenly think they are finished.

Dan Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness

  1. This is one of my favorite ted talks about happiness by Dan Gilbert

Oat biscuits

oat biscuits | happyfoodbites

I recently reconnected with an old friend of mine, a friend I made when my shadow was cast by a different person. It was wonderful to tour old memories together but we also talked about the optimism to be found in inevitable change. Change is frightening to many people because it seems to always be tied into moments beyond your control. I stumbled into nursing after learning the hard way that becoming a criminal prosecutor wasn’t quite what I was cut out for. My very first travel assignment as a nurse was to New Orleans . . . six days before hurricane Katrina made landfall. And for a few years after that I was paid to pack up my belongings every six months and follow the interstate, north, south, east, west; sometimes chasing the sun, sometimes her blinding red tongue sweeping across my rear view mirror in a blaze, but always on my way to adding a new layer to myself.

The key to embracing change is imagination. You have to be able to imagine yourself in other clothes, other roles, and other places. Imagination is the extraordinary talent we’re all wired for that allows you to simulate experiences in your mind. Each of your experiences, the sum of which is uniquely different from anyone else’s, leaves its mark on you so that the same cloak of change will drape differently across your shoulders than it does on your best friend, your brother, your mother, or your neighbor. Sadly, imagination is not a trait that is typically fostered and nurtured. In a worldwide survey where parents from fifty-four nations ranked, in order of importance, eleven qualities children should be taught at home, imagination did not rank higher than seventh place anywhere across the globe and in most countries it was tenth or eleventh.1 Today, take five minutes to exercise your imagination! Imagine yourself as a farmer with the feel of cool crumbly dirt under your fingernails. Imagine yourself working in mechanic shop with the smell of oil and anti-freeze burrowed deep within your hair. And imagine the joy dancing on your tongue when you bite into these slightly sweet, crisp oat biscuits.

grind 1/2 cup of oats to flour consistency

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and start with one half cup of oats. Whirl them in the food processor until they have the consistency of flour.

add butter and honey

Add flour, salt, and baking soda into food processor and pulse until combined. Then add honey and butter which will turn the dry mixture into moist crumbs.

mix in egg white

Whirl one egg white into the mix.

dough log

Plop the dough on a piece of wax or parchment paper and firmly press the crumbs together. Roll the dough into a long log and wrap tightly in wax paper. Refrigerate for thirty to sixty minutes, until dough is just starting to firm up. If you want to make the log ahead of time, you can refrigerate the raw dough for up to two days but it will harden significantly so you’ll need to let it sit at room temperature for thirty to forty-five minutes until soft enough to slice.

lay on lined baking sheet

Cut rounds off log about 1/4 inch thick and lay on lined tray. Bake for twenty minutes, turning tray once, until biscuits are lightly golden at edges. Allow to cool completely before lifting off baking sheet and store in  an airtight container for up to one week.

oat biscuits | happyfoodbites

Below is your printable recipe with nutrition information included

oat biscuits
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 24
  • ½ cup oats, ground
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, small pieces, softened
  • 1 large egg, white only
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Whirl oats in food processor until ground to a fine flour consistency. Add all-purpose flour, salt and baking soda to oats and combine. Add honey and butter and whirl until moist pea-sized crumbs form. Finally mix in egg white.
  3. Press moist crumbs together to form a log with a diameter of about 2 inches. Wrap log tightly in saran wrap and refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes or until just firm enough to slice. Carve rounds from the log ¼ inch thick.
  4. Lay biscuits on a lined baking sheet and bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned at edges.
  5. Store airtight for up to a week.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 biscuit Calories: 38 Fat: 3 Saturated fat: 2 Unsaturated fat: 1 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 3 Sugar: 1 Sodium: 36 Fiber: 0 Protein: 1 Cholesterol: 7

Inspired by LCBO

Human beings are works in progress who mistakenly think they are finished.

Dan Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness

  1. Want to see which country aligns most closely with your values? Check out 

Creamy mushrooms

creamy mushrooms | happyfoodbites

The first time I ate an entire pizza by myself was in seventh grade. Sheesh that is a sad sentence. It gets much happier, though! Many, many years after middle school, when I finally started to eat less processed food, one of the first things I noticed was the decrease in the amount of food I was actually eating. As the rich aroma of these creamy mushrooms wafted through the kitchen while I was cooking, I thought there’s no way this is enough for four people, I’m going to eat this all in one sitting. And then I served myself a heaping scoop, making sure to accidentally knock a few extra pieces onto the plate. But what happens next is something wonderful: I feel full before I’ve finished my serving. And I’m not talking about the “food baby” kind of full, I mean honest-to-goodness satiety. I don’t know why I continue to be pleasantly surprised by how genuinely satisfied I feel after a handful of bites of minimally processed and nutrient dense food1

The thing about appetite is it’s an intricately complicated process. Did you know there are nearly a dozen hormones that affect hunger? The cells that produce these hormones are located in several organs including the stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, and both the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract; and each of these hormones interacts with a variety of “regulation centers” in the brain to tell you when you’re hungry and when you’re full.2 In addition, the sensing organs also send their own signals to the brain through the eyes, ears, nose, and tongue (for both taste and texture).3 When I eat highly processed foods, it feels as though my brain is being bombarded with so many clusters of contradicting signals that instead of wasting processing power, my brain throws up her hands and says look, I can’t figure out which ones are real, just put some food in your mouth and I’ll give you some of those feel-good endorphins. Eating “real food”, on the other hand, is like a lazy swing in the hammock for my brain. There are no distractions and I hear right away when my body says hey that’s good for now, that’s all I really need.

Remember the phrase perhaps made most famous by Spiderman’s uncle Ben: with great power comes great responsibility. The power, in this case, is knowledge of the science of eating. Those in charge of creating and marketing processed foods understand the complexity of this science but they do not choose to wield their power responsibly. The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food explores this subject and is such a great article I didn’t want to bury it in a footnote. It highlights the elaborate engineering undertaken to design the most profitable processed food. I won’t even be sad if you go read it now before moving on to the creamy goodness of these mushrooms.

a variety of mushrooms | happyfoodbites

Okay, are you back and feeling like a more informed consumer? Excellent! Now on to the recipe. Start with a variety of mushrooms, any kind will do. I had shiitake, button, and cremini. Slice the larger mushrooms into thin strips and quarter the smaller ones.

mushroom closeup | happyfoodbites

Have you ever looked closely at the underside of a mushroom? While you’re slicing and dicing, take a peek under a few mushroom skirts. Real food is stunning.

add mushrooms to hot skillet | happyfoodbites

Heat one half tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and add all sliced and chopped mushrooms to the pan with a squeeze of lemon juice. Cook for five minutes, until mushrooms are beginning to brown.

remove to bowl and let juices drain | happyfoodbites

Remove mushrooms to bowl and let juices drain. Add shallot and garlic to skillet and cook over medium heat for about three minutes until soft.

add cream | happyfoodbites

Meanwhile, whisk together cream, flour, salt, and pepper. Once shallots and garlic are soft, pour cream mixture into skillet and let bubble for about one minute.

stir constantly and let mixture thicken | happyfoodbites

Once mixture has thickened (it will happen quickly) return mushrooms and their juices to the skillet and cook for about five minutes until mushrooms are hot. Serve immediately.

Below is your printable recipe with nutrition information included.

creamy mushrooms | happyfoodbites

Creamy mushrooms
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 4 oz shiitake mushrooms
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms
  • 8 oz button mushrooms
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup whipping cream
  • ½ tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • pinch of pepper
  1. Thinly slice shiitake mushrooms and chop cremini and button mushrooms into quarters. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium high heat until water drops sizzle. Add all mushrooms and lemon juice and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are beginning to brown.
  2. Transfer mushrooms to small bowl and reduce heat under skillet to medium. Add shallot and garlic, cook for 3 minutes or until softened.
  3. Whisk together cream, flour, salt, and pepper and pour cream mixture into skillet, bring to a boil and let bubble for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Once sauce has thickened, return mushrooms and their juices to pan. Cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes or until hot. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ½ cup Calories: 104 Fat: 6 Saturated fat: 2 Unsaturated fat: 4 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 9 Sugar: 1 Sodium: 160 Fiber: 1 Protein: 5 Cholesterol: 10

Adapted from Marilyn Bentz-Crowley

The limits of my words are the limits of my world.

-Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian-British philosopher



  1. A 2010 study on how nutrient dense foods change perceptions of hunger, Nutrition Journal

  2. Here’s a 2006 study that gives a brief overview of most of the hormones involved in appetite regulation, Archives of Diseases in Childhood

  3. The Taste Science Laboratory