Category: dairy free

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

Broccoli soup

broccoli soup | happyfoodbites

Much like my childhood nemesis cauliflower, I didn’t care much for cooked broccoli until recently (although it never bothered me when eaten raw). With a head of broccoli among the last of my CSA box veggies I decided to give my hand a try at broccoli soup. Broccoli seems to be an afterthought in many soups, one or two sad limp florets floating in the bowl but I wanted the broccoli to be the star.

mirepoix and broccoli

Start by preparing the mirepoix flavor base: carrots, onion, celery. Add some garlic for good measure, followed by the beheading of the broccoli. Set aside a few of the florets to be “floaters”.

vegetables in soup pot

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat and add carrots, onion, celery, broccoli, salt, pepper and basil. Tomato basil is my number one favorite soup so I thought I’d see if the basil works with broccoli as well (spoiler alert: it does). Cook until broccoli is bright green and onions are soft and translucent, about six to eight minutes.

add broth and beans

Add vegetable broth and white beans and bring to a boil. I precooked a couple of cups of great northern white beans over the weekend because they will be making an appearance in tomorrow’s recipe as well but any canned white bean would work just as well. The three most popular types of white beans are cannellini, great northern, and navy and while they have slightly different flavors and textures from one another, can generally be used interchangeably.1 Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for ten minutes, until broccoli is “al dente” mostly tender but with a little bite to it.

remove from heat and blend it all together

Turn off heat and purée soup with method of choice (mine is immersion blender). Add the floater florets into the pot and return to the burner. Simmer over medium-low heat for five minutes to soften the florets. Top with shaved parmesan (or omit the cheese to keep the soup completely dairy free) and serve immediately.

creamy broccoli soup without cream | happyfoodbites

Below is your printable recipe with nutrition information included.

Broccoli soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 3
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped with ¼ cup florets set aside
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • ½ onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons basil
  • ½ cup dried great northern beans, cooked
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  1. Add ½ tablespoon olive oil to large pot over medium heat and add carrots, celery, onion, garlic, broccoli, salt, pepper, and basil. Cook for 6-8 minutes until onion soft and translucent.
  2. Add broth and beans to pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until vegetables are al dente.
  3. Remove from heat and puree soup until creamy. Add remaining florets, return to burner over medium-low heat and simmer for 5 minutes until florets are tender.
  4. Garnish with parmesan (optional). Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 164 Fat: 3 Saturated fat: 0 Unsaturated fat: 3 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 0 Sugar: 7 Sodium: 490 Fiber: 9 Protein: 9 Cholesterol: 0

Things do not change. We change.

Henry David Thoreau

  1. Cookthink 

Roasted pineapple with cinnamon

roasted pineapple with cinnamon | happyfoodbites

Remember the chili lime tacos with roasted pineapple from last week? I added those leftover roasted pineapple bits to almost everything and the pineapple was so good I knew I was going to want more so this week I bring you a delicious two ingredient breakfast/snack/dessert: roasted pineapple with cinnamon. Pineapple + cinnamon. Easy peasy.

pineapple plus cinnamon | happyfoodbites

Immediately after I graduated college (the first time) I packed up my trusty, rusty 1990 Honda Accord and moved to Savannah, Georgia. And if there’s one thing Southerners know, it’s good food. The best seafood I’ve ever had was at The Crab Shack on Tybee Island. I learned that biscuits are actually not flavorless, crumbly lumps of dough that turn your mouth into a desert. I learned that a low country boil tastes better when eaten off a newspaper-covered picnic table. But one of the first food-related things I learned in the South involved pineapples and Southern hospitality. True Southern ladies and gentlemen would never be so bold as to vocally ask their party guests to leave when evening festivities were winding down, so the way they silently made the announcement was to put a pineapple on the mantelpiece. As guests took notice of the fruit, they realized it was time to bid farewell. I say it’s time to make a pineapple app that notifies your guests “The pineapple has been placed”.

chop off top of pineapple | happyfoodbites

This was my first time buying and prepping a whole pineapple. I don’t know if it was just beginner’s luck but I picked a good one too! There are three things you should look for when choosing a pineapple: fresh green leaves, a firm body that gives slightly under pressure, and a bottom that smells pineapple-y1 (yep I was one of those weirdos sniffing fruit at the grocery store). Pineapples do not ripen any further once they are picked so make sure to use your pineapple within a few days.2 Once you’re ready to dig in, start by lopping off the top leaves (and keep them for decoration in all of your pictures).

chop off the bottom | happyfoodbites

Flip it around and take off about half an inch or so from the bottom.

slice off the skin | happyfoodbites

Stand the pineapple on one (now flat) end and slice the skin off in strips, just like peeling a melon.

removing the eyes | happyfoodbites

Remove any remaining “eyes” with a paring knife. It took me about 15 minutes to get all those dang eyes out although like most kitchen skills I’m sure it gets faster with repetition. And in hindsight, I might have just made slightly deeper slices when taking off the skin but the taste, oh man the taste of fresh pineapple was so worth it!

after removing eyes | happyfoodbites

After getting all the eyes out, you may end up with an out of focus, swiss cheese like fruit. But don’t give up! Cut the pineapple into rounds about one inch wide.

cut out the centers with a cookie or biscuit cutter | happyfoodbites

Using a round cookie cutter or a biscuit cutter remove the center of each slice. The inner core is very tough so if you don’t have a cutter, use your knife to take out the center.

perfect circles | happyfoodbites

Perfect circles (on the inside at least)!

sprinkle liberally with cinnamon | happyfoodbites

Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon and place on lined baking sheet (the juice will get very very sticky so you’ll want to use parchment paper or a silicone mat). Roast for 20 minutes in the oven preheated to 425 degrees and then finish under the broiler for three to four minutes. Serve immediately.

roasted pineapple | happyfoodbites

Below is your printable version of the recipe with nutrition information included.

Roasted pineapple with cinnamon
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: varies
  • 1 whole pineapple
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon per slice
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Remove top and bottom ends of pineapple.
  3. Stand fruit upright and remove skin by slicing down through the flesh behind the skin. Using a paring knife remove any remaining eyes. Cut into round slices about 1 inch thick.
  4. Liberally sprinkle each slice with cinnamon and roast in oven for 20 minutes. Finish under broiler for 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice Calories: 50 Fat: 0 Saturated fat: 0 Unsaturated fat: 0 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 14 Sugar: 10 Sodium: 0 Fiber: 1 Protein: 1 Cholesterol: 0

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

– Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!