Chef Lauren

Tomato Couscous with Lemon Roasted Asparagus and Sautéed Sole

Thursday, January 30, 2014 by Chef Lauren

This well-balanced meal features a variety of healthy and organic food items from and takes only about 30 minutes from start to finish!

Couscous is a traditional North African grain dish and is one of my favorite starches to make. It is made from semolina wheat granules and only takes 5 minutes to cook. The best part is that there are endless ways to flavor it!

This recipe channels the flavors of Provence with tomatoes, garlic, onions and lemon.  These ingredients provide vitamins A, B6 and C  and minerals manganese, copper and calcium. Cashews give the dish added protein and varies the texture quite nicely. Parmesan cheese adds depth of flavor for a perfect side.

Swanson Spices

Tomato Couscous



  • Heat olive oil and herbs in a medium sauce pot over medium high heat.
  • Once oil is hot add garlic and onions and sauté until translucent.
  • Add tomatoes, 2 tbsp water, and lemon juice and simmer until tomatoes pop.
  • Once tomatoes have popped add remaining 2 cups of water and chicken base. Bring to a boil.
  • Once water is boiling add couscous and cashews. Place a lid on the saucepot and turn off heat.
  • After 5-7 minutes remove lid and fluff couscous with a fork. Add parmesan, salt and pepper to taste and serve.

tomato couscous


Lemon Roasted Asparagus

I found Garlic Gold’s Garlic Parmesan Nuggets on the Swanson website, and I just had to try them. They are a unique blend of garlic and parmesan and can lend themselves easily to any dish that needs some “oomph”.

Today, I decided to try them with asparagus. Trust me, it’s a winning combination! Asparagus is an easy way to get tons of vitamins. Asparagus is rich in vitamins C and K and folate and minerals manganese and selenium. The best part is that it’s finished in minutes.




  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Trim the woody ends off of the asparagus.
  • Toss trimmed asparagus with olive oil, lemon juice, parmesan garlic nuggets, salt and pepper.
  • Place asparagus on a baking sheet (I used a oven-safe skillet).
  • Roast asparagus for 5-10 minutes depending on your preference. 5 minutes will be al dente, 10 minutes will be softer but with nice caramelization.


Sauteed Sole with White Wine Pan Sauce

Sautéed sole is the final component of this meal. Sole is a flaky white fish similar to flounder. Keeping with the theme of the rest of the meal, sole cooks in just a few minutes. Sole is a low fat fish and a source of selenium, which aids in immune health.



  • Heat olive oil over medium high heat.
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper over both sides of the sole fillets.
  • Once oil is hot, add the sole and sear for 2-3 minutes before flipping.
  • Sear for 3 minutes on the other side. Remove fish from pan and turn the heat down to medium.
  • Add white wine to pan and reduce.
  • Turn off the heat once the wine has reduced and add the butter while stirring with a whisk.
  • Pour pan sauce over the sole and serve.

Nutty, Vegetarian Recipes Featuring Cashews, Almonds, Pecans & Pistachios

Thursday, December 26, 2013 by Chef Lauren

This week I’m going nuts for nuts. Nuts are a versatile ingredient in the kitchen and offer loads of nutrients that benefit your body. Studies indicate that nuts are particularly good for your heart and might even extend your life. A few ounces of nuts per day can have major long-term health benefits.

Nuts are rich in heart-healthy fats known as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They are also an excellent source of protein, which is great, because this week’s recipes are all vegetarian. Nuts are also rich in the antioxidant vitamin E, as well as riboflavin and selenium.

This week’s recipes are not only vegetarian, they’re also gluten free. If you follow a gluten free diet, these recipes will add variety to your recipe collection. If you don’t follow a gluten free diet, you won’t miss the wheat products one bit.


Watercress Salad with Pickled Radishes & Mixed Nuts

I love this salad. The peppery watercress is perfectly complemented by the pickled radishes and salty nuts. You may notice that there isn’t really a dressing for this salad. I like the way that just olive oil and champagne vinegar bring out the natural flavors of the other ingredients for a refreshing and crunchy treat.


8-10 whole Radishes

½ cup plus 1 tsp Champagne Vinegar

1 tsp Sugar

½ tsp Himalayan Crystal Salt

4 cups Watercress

½ cup Cashew, Almond & Pistachio Mix

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 tbsp Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

¼ cup Hot Water



            Pickled Radishes:

  1. Mix ½ cup champagne vinegar with sugar, salt and ¼ cup hot water.
  2. Add radishes and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


  1. Toss watercress, pickled radishes, cashew, almond & pistachio mix, and a dash of salt and pepper with olive oil and 1 tsp champagne vinegar.


Acorn Squash Tart

Savory tarts are my absolute favorite. I make them all the time, for every occasion. They seem complicated, but are actually very easy. They simply require a little bit of time and patience and you will shock your family and friends. The fall flavors in this tart are particularly delicious.

Acorn Squash Tart



Acorn Squash Tart


            Tart Dough:

  1. Grind pecans in a food processor until they are powdery.
  2. Add flour, coconut oil, pecans and salt to the food processor.
  3. Blend until the ingredients begin to come together. You may need to add 2-4 tablespoons of ice water to bring mix together. If needed, add water slowly.
  4. Remove dough from food processor, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes remove dough from refrigerator and thinly roll out dough to fit in a tart tin with removable bottom. Alternatively you may also press the dough into the tart pan.
  6. Bake dough at 350° F for 15 minutes.
  7. Let the crust cool before adding tart filling.

Tart Filling:

  1. Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place squash in an oven safe container filled ¼ of the way with water and bake at 350° F for 20 minutes. Allow to cool.
  2. Slice onions thinly and add to a pot with coconut oil. Sautee at medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Onions are done when they are soft and browned.
  3. While the squash is cooling combine cream cheese, egg, goat cheese, rosemary, sage, and honey in food processor. Blend until smooth.
  4. Remove skin from acorn squash and slice the squash in ¼ in thick slices.
  5. Pour cream cheese mixture into cooled crust. Layer the caramelized onions on top. Add sliced squash. Top with parmesan cheese and bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Broil for 2 minutes to brown the top. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.
  7. Garnish with sliced scallions.

Squash Tart


Almond Meringue Cookies with Maple Almond Butter

I developed these cookies in homage to the illustrious French macaron. Macarons are amazing meringue cookies that are tough to get right. This recipe draws from the same ingredients in macarons and a similar process, but with no fuss and no need to worry about them coming out just so. When I discovered Justin’s Nut Butter Maple Almond Butter, I knew it had to be the filling for these cookies. The salty butter is a perfect complement to the sweet almond cookies.

IngredientsAlmond Meringue Cookies


  1. Beat egg whites until they are a medium peak.
  2. Add granulated sugar and almond extract and continue to beat until stiff peaks.
  3. In a separate container combine powdered sugar, salt and almond flour.
  4. Add ½ egg whites to almond flour mix and fold until ingredients are combined. Add remaining egg whites and almond flour and continue to fold until combined.
  5. Spoon meringue cookie mixture into 1.5 inch circles on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  6. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes at 350° F.
  7. Once cookies are cool remove from baking sheet. Spread maple almond butter on the smooth side of the cookie and sandwich with another cookie.


Chef Lauren Creates a Gourmet Pumpkin-Inspired Meal for a Fabulous Fall Feast!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 by Chef Lauren

‘Tis the season for pumpkin everything—lattes, beers, cupcakes, spice. You name it, it’s been pumpkin-ed this month. Beyond tasting delicious, pumpkin has plenty of health benefits. Lucky you, right?

Pumpkins are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, most notably vitamin A. Vitamin A not only promotes healthy vision, but along with antioxidant vitamin E, it aids in immune health, which is oh-so-important as the weather turns chilly.

For your cooking and eating enjoyment I have developed some pumpkin-inspired recipes guaranteed to warm you up and fill you with important micronutrients.

Remember that everyone’s tastes are different, so taste as you go and tailor to your own taste preferences!


Mixed Greens with Pear, Bleu Cheese and Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

This salad combines creamy bleu cheese with sweet pears and nutty pumpkin seeds for a beautiful and healthy fall salad. The crunchy roasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed vinaigrette provide you with essential fatty acids as well as plenty of magnesium, zinc and potassium, benefiting both your body and your taste buds.

Note: Use just enough dressing to coat the greens. You will have extra.


Spiced Pumpkin Seeds



1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Mix raw pumpkin seeds with spices, honey and oil in a plastic bag and shake until coated.

3. Spread seed mixture over baking sheet and toast for 10–15 minutes, or until golden brown.


Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette



1. Mix all ingredients and stir with a fork or whisk until incorporated.




  • 1 bag mixed greens
  • 3–4 oz bleu cheese - crumbled
  • 2 pears – sliced


Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Breast over Wilted Kale with Pumpkin-Orange Puree

This dish provides a combination of ingredients that is sure to impress your friends and family. In addition, this dish is an excellent natural source of vitamins A, C, K, and E as well as iron and calcium.  I think the dish is prettiest when the chicken is plated on top of the kale and the pumpkin puree is drizzled alongside the kale--but get creative, these flavors marry well together no matter how you plate it.


Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Breast



1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Mix salt, pepper, paprika, garlic and onion powder, honey, mustard and olive oil.

3. Slice chicken breasts in half cross-wise.

4. Pour marinade over chicken breasts. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

5. Remove chicken from refrigerator and wrap each portion of chicken in prosciutto.

6. Assemble on baking pan and roast for 15–20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160 degrees F.


Wilted Kale



1. Heat olive oil in a sauce pot over medium heat.

2. Add garlic and onions and heat until translucent – about 10 minutes.

3. Add chopped kale to onion and garlic mixture along with salt, pepper and chicken broth.

4. Allow to simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.


 Pumpkin Puree



1. Heat a small sauce pan with coconut oil over medium heat.

2. Add garlic and oil, salt and pepper and heat until they are translucent.

3. Add the pumpkin, vinegar, honey and chicken broth.

4. Bring to a simmer. Add more water 2 tbsp at a time if it appears too thick. Simmer for 10 minutes if it appears too thin.

5. Finish with orange zest.


Chai Spiced Cupcakes
(with bonus Italian Buttercream Frosting!)

This is one of my absolute favorite desserts. While there is no actual pumpkin in this recipe, the combination of spices is reminiscent of everything we love about pumpkin-spiced dishes. Even better news: They’re vegan! I dare you to eat only one.


Chai Spiced Cupcakes



1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Melt coconut oil.

3. Combine oil, coconut milk, vinegar, and vanilla.

4. In a separate bowl combine remaining ingredients and stir until combined.

5. Slowly add dry ingredients to the coconut milk mixture and mix until combined. Be careful not to over-mix.

6. Pour batter into greased cupcake liners, 2/3 of the way.

7. Bake for 10–15 minutes.

8. Cupcakes are done when you can insert a knife or toothpick into the center of the cupcake and it comes out clean.


At this point you can quit and enjoy your healthier vegan chai spiced cupcakes. If you would like something a little more decadent, I have provided a frosting recipe that is neither healthy nor vegan, but is incredibly delicious. Sometimes it’s nice to indulge.


Italian Buttercream Frosting



1. Combine egg whites and sugar in a glass bowl that will fit nicely over a sauce pot.

2. Fill sauce pot 1/3 of the way up with water and bring to a simmer.

3. Place glass bowl over sauce pot and stir egg whites gently until the sugar melts and the egg whites are a warm 130°F.

4. Remove egg white mixture and beat vigorously, preferably with an electric mixer, until fluffy.

5. When egg whites are fluffy, add 2 sticks of softened butter, salt and vanilla and combine.