Category: gluten 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

Greek yogurt meatballs


Greek yogurt meatballs | happyfoodbites

Previously, the most adventurous food I’d ever eaten was whole chicken feet. This weekend I added a new one to the list when I had a taco lengua, or a beef tongue taco, oh my. Upon close inspection the taste buds were visible on many of the rectangular chunks of meat. It was unadorned except for a few rainbow-shaped onions lounging in a salty marinade spooned on top. The meat was less chewy than I expected, almost like hard jello, and otherwise pretty bland wrapped in two doubled over, plain flour tortillas. On the other hand, these Greek yogurt meatballs I made were a decidedly more delicious though sadly, less adventurous dish.

Adding a new item to my “life adventure list” got me thinking about what defines an adventure. The answer is elementary, my dear Watson. Risk. There is no adventure to be had if there is no risk involved. Most people will tell you to analyze risk in terms of gains versus losses but try thinking about it this way: once you’ve been presented with a risk, your life is already changed. Whether it’s the chance to try a tongue taco, quit your job, move your bed to the opposite wall, or run away and join the circus, every risk leaves its mark. Even if you choose not to take a risk (which absolutely is the correct choice in some situations) you are already changed merely by being presented with the option. Another fragment of a fingerprint is etched into the marble slab of your soul with every risk offered to you. Your decision isn’t if you want to change but rather how you want to change. You are already the person who has been issued the opportunity of risk so you only need to decide if you want to be the person who declines the invitation or the one who embraces adventure. If you’ve never adventured before, start by trying this recipe, you’ll always find delightful chances for risk in the kitchen!

zest or grate the onion and garlic on top of meat | happyfoodbites

Start by slapping the meat into a medium bowl and using a microzester, or the fine side of a box grater, add shredded garlic and onion on top of meat. Set aside.

one half cup of oats | happyfoodbites

Use one half cup of oats either whole or whirled in the processor to a fine breadcrumb consistency.

oats and yogurt | happyfoodbites

In addition to a creamy one third cup of Greek yogurt (or sour cream).

whisk wet ingredients together | happyfoodbites

In a small bowl, whisk together the oats and the wet ingredients: yogurt, egg, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce.

add yogurt mixture and spices to meat | happyfoodbites

Drop wet mixture and spices on meat. I used two tablespoons of a Sicilian spice mix containing fennel, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, basil, roasted garlic, sea salt, carrots, and sesame. Use any of those flavors currently on hand or make a risqué blend of your personal favorites.

combine gently | happyfoodbites

Gently combine all ingredients by using your hand like a play-doh spaghetti factory toy. Let the ingredients gently squish against themselves as they slide through your fingers.

place raw meatballs on lined sheet and freeze for 2 hours before transferring to ziploc bag | happyfoodbites

Meatballs are great for easy additions to a variety of meals. I use my cookie scoop for mini meatballs that are about tablespoon sized. Lay meatballs on a lined baking sheet and place in freezer for a few hours until frozen solid then transfer to a freezer-safe storage container or ziploc bag.

meatballs in skillet

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees with cast iron skillet inside. Once oven is heated, add half of tomato sauce to skillet and plop meatballs directly into sauce. No need to thaw meatballs if using them frozen.

tomato sauce | happyfoodbites

I found this bottle of Italian-made tomato sauce hiding in the back of the cupboard but use whatever tomato or spaghetti sauce your pantry hands over. Pour the rest of your sauce-of-choice over the meatballs and bake until internal temp is 165 degrees, about twenty minutes if meatballs are fresh, thirty minutes if frozen.

Greek yogurt meatballs | happyfoodbites

Below is your printable recipe with nutrition information included.

Greek yogurt meatballs
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 30
  • 12 oz ground beef
  • ⅓ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup oats, ground
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Sicilian mix
  • 1 cup tomato sauce, divided in half
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with cast iron skillet inside.
  2. Add ground beef to medium bowl. Zest garlic and onion directly on top of meat and set aside.
  3. In small bowl, whisk together yogurt, ground oats, egg, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce until well combined.
  4. Pour liquid mixture onto meat and work gently with hands until meat is coated. Add 2 tablespoons of spices and mix again with hands until just combined.
  5. Remove skillet from oven, add ½ cup of tomato sauce and place meatballs in pan with space between. Once all meatballs are in pan, pour remaining sauce on top. Bake for 20 min or until no longer pink in center.
Be gentle when mixing meat, don't overwork it.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 meatball Calories: 36 Fat: 2 Saturated fat: 1 Unsaturated fat: 2 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 1 Sugar: 1 Sodium: 15 Fiber: 0 Protein: 3 Cholesterol: 16

One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.

-Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Purple beans and peach salad with citrus dressing

purple beans and peach salad with citrus dressing | happyfoodbites

There are rumblings of change in my life and the excitement is building. New changes are like a morning stretch: it’s not until the first extension of your arms when you recognize the sense of relief that comes from the reach. Then you elongate all your muscles, arching your back, leaning into the stretch, increasing the tension just enough to feel the slight elastic give of your muscles and tendons while the air in your lungs creaks out from the back of your throat, shaking off the overnight staleness and embracing the day. Is there any better feeling in the world? Not to mention that change begets change. The first spark of change is sometimes all that’s needed to ignite a wildfire of revolution. I don’t know if warm fruit counts as a revolution but lately I’ve been having happy bites of cooked fruit so when my latest CSA box came with a recipe for a warm purple bean and peach salad I was excited to give it a try with the citrus dressing I’ve previously used only on cold salads.

purple beans, peaches, and onions | happyfoodbites

Purple beans, one peach, and about half a cup diced onion form the base of this salad. Purple beans are essentially green beans with a purple pigment. Sadly, the color dissolves in water so they do not stay purple when cooked.1

cooking onions slowly | happyfoodbites

Add one half tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and cook onions over low heat. The original recipe called for caramelized onions. But the thing about caramelized onions is they take forever, about forty-five minutes for true caramelization. The picture on the left is after seven minutes and the right pic is after fifteen minutes (which was the extent of my belly’s caramelizing patience).

add sliced peaches to skillet | happyfoodbites

Once the onions are as close to caramelized as they’re going to get, add sliced peaches, crank the heat to medium-high and cook for five to six minutes until peaches are beginning to soften but still have some firmness to them. While the peaches cook, bring a pot of water to a boil, add washed and trimmed beans, and cook two to three minutes until green and crisply tender. Immediately blanch beans in an ice bath or running under the coldest water available. Pat beans dry and add them with the onions and peach slices in a small bowl and set aside.

orange zest | happyfoodbites

To make the dressing, start by adding about a teaspoon of orange zest into a small mason jar (or anything which can be lidded and shaken).

zest one clove of garlic | happyfoodbites

Add one micrograted (or minced) clove of garlic.

fresh squeezed orange juice | happyfoodbites

The liquid part of this dressing is equivalent parts orange juice and olive oil so it is easily adjustable, don’t worry about the exact amounts. Squeeze orange juice into jar.

add equal parts olive oil and orange juice | happyfoodbites

Add an equal amount of olive oil plus salt, pepper, and cardamom and shake it, shake it, shake it like a polaroid picture.

dollop of greek yogurt and shake again | happyfoodbites

Unscrew the lid, dollop in one messy tablespoon of greek yogurt (adjust based on how much liquid you used and desired level of creaminess) and shake again.

orange dressing with cardamom | happyfoodbites

Congratulations you have salad dressing! Now toss beans, peaches and onions with about one tablespoon of dressing and enjoy immediately.

Below is your printable recipe with nutritional information included.

purple beans and peach salad | happyfoodbites

Purple beans and peach salad with citrus dressing
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 1
For the salad
  • ½ bunch purple beans, rinsed and trimmed
  • 1 peach, sliced
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
For the dressing
  • zest of ½ an orange
  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon greek yogurt
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 salad with 1 tablespoon dressing Calories: 187 Fat: 12 Saturated fat: 2 Unsaturated fat: 10 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 19 Sugar: 12 Sodium: 6 Fiber: 4 Protein: 2 Cholesterol: 0

Adapted from Summerland

But luxury has never appealed to me, I like simple things, books, being alone, or with somebody who understands.

Daphne du Mauier

  1. Check out a great explanation on one of my new favorite blogs Garden Betty