Posted by: Kara Lydon, RD | April 15, 2014

Tropical Green Smoothie

You can call me fashionably late to the green smoothie party that started a couple year’s back. I’ll take it. It’s one of those parties that you can join as late as you want and still take part in the fun.

I’ve got a Kitchen Aid Blender so I’ve always felt intimidated by green smoothies. I’d think to myself, “No way is my regular ole’ blender going to chop greens! I’ll end up sipping on chunks of spinach!” That’s a big “EW” in my book. So while everyone and their Mom downed deliciously beautiful green drinks, I watched from a far and sipped my boring fruit smoothies with serious smoothie envy.

Tropical Green Smoothie | Peace, Love, and Food

It wasn’t until the recent spring weather emerged from a way-too-long-winter that I felt inspired to kick the blender back into action. Inspired by the words of John Lennon, I thought let’s give green smoothies a chance…Or, was it peace? Hm.

Now I understand that my hesitation to the world of green smoothies doesn’t match everyone else’s reasons for apprehension. I know that the idea of adding greens to smoothies can seem counterintuitive or downright yuck. But, the beauty of green smoothies is that the fruit you add will mask the taste of the greens so that you can sip and reap the nutrition benefits without puckering your face. This green smoothie is a good starter smoothie for those that are hesitant to go green - I couldn’t taste the spinach at all!

Tropical Green Smoothie | Peace, Love, and Food

Tropical Green Smoothie

Fit for Green Smoothie Beginners!

Makes one serving


1/3c frozen mango

1/3c frozen pineapple

1/2c frozen spinach

1/2 banana

1/2 avocado

1c coconut water


Add all ingredients to the blender and blend until pureed.

This smoothie is a nutritional powerhouse – an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including iron, fiber, vitamins A and C.

Tropical Green Smoothie | Peace, Love, and Food

Posted by: Kara Lydon, RD | April 8, 2014

Spring Eating: Toasted Barley Salad With Fava & Fennel

With spring officially upon us (and finally in the air), I think about the term “spring cleaning” in reference to our diets – purging our cabinets of processed foods and replacing them with nutrient-rich, whole foods. But this year, I’m focusing on spring eating – embracing the bountiful, colorful, delicious produce that is now in-season. Below are just a few reasons to shop with the season:

  • Save Money! Produce that’s in-season tends to be more fairly priced.
  • Reap the nutrients! If picked and eaten at its peak, seasonal produce is packed with more vitamins and minerals than produce that was harvested before ripening.
  • Feel good! Eating seasonally often equates to eating locally grown foods. Eating locally helps support local farmers and reduces the miles your food traveled to reach your plate, minimizing your carbon footprint.

Add these nutrient-packed spring seasonal produce to your shopping list: Apricots, Artichokes, Asparagus, Arugula, Beets, Carrots, Cherries, Chives, Fava Beans, Fennel, Fiddleheads, Garlic scapes, Leeks, Melon, Mangoes, Peas, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Swiss Chard, Watercress.


Recipe: Toasted Barley Salad with Fava & Fennel 

Serves Six


1 cup pearl barley

3 cups water

1/2tsp salt

3 cups shelled fava beans

1 fennel bulb, shaved

7 mint leaves, thinly sliced

1 shallot, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

3tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Juice and zest of ½ lemon

1/8tsp sea salt

1/8tsp freshly cracked ground pepper

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. On a baking sheet, place barley in preheated oven until lightly toasted, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from oven and place in a medium saucepan with 3 cups of water and 1/2tsp salt. Bring water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 45 minutes, or until tender and the water is absorbed.

3. While the barley is cooking, prepare the dressing by adding olive oil, lemon juice and zest, shallot, garlic, salt, and pepper to a small bowl. Whisk together until combined.

4. In a large bowl, combine cooked barley, fava beans, fennel, and mint. Add dressing and toss to combine. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving.


St. Patty’s Day comes and goes quickly, but the Recipe Redux is celebrating the “patty” all month long. This month’s challenge was to create a healthy burger or patty of sorts. The challenge was pretty timely because I just made my very first homemade veggie burger about a month ago – Julie Morris’ Black Bean Hemp Protein Patty from SuperFood Kitchen. I even made them at Steve’s request! He loves burgers, whether they contain meat or they’re veggie-friendly – an equal opportunity patty enthusiast!

So, when push came to shove this month and I was prodded to create an original patty from scratch, I immediately thought of my patty critic – Mr. Steve. I thought about what flavors I could bring out in the burger that he wouldn’t be able to resist, and then it hit me, Buffalo! No, not the animal. 


Steve and I grew up in Buffalo, NY, home of the original Buffalo wings, and home to Buffalo sauces galore. One of Steve’s favorite foods from his childhood is buffalo chicken wing dip, and I knew that if I made a Buffalo-flavored burger, it would take him home.

I’ve also been cutting back on my dairy consumption since my trip to Thailand. While I was there, I unintentionally didn’t eat much dairy at all and noticed my allergies significantly improve. So, I said sayonara to my daily Allegra pills (along with dairy) and haven’t looked back since. With this change in my diet, I’ve been playing around with cashew cheese alternatives. I recently made an avocado cashew sour cream to dollop on black bean and sweet potato chili. For the Buffalo-inspired burgers, I wanted to create a blue cheese cashew dressing to bring it all together.

Buffalo Chickpea Quinoa Burgers with “Blue Cheese” Dressing

Makes 6 patties


For the patties:

1c cooked quinoa

1 1/2c chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4c shallot, minced

1 large carrot, grated

1/3c quinoa flakes

1/3c hemp seeds

1/4c Frank’s hot sauce (any Buffalo sauce can be substituted)

2tsp white miso paste

pinch of sea salt

pinch of white pepper

6 hamburger buns

For the “blue cheese” dressing:

1c cashews

4 tsp apple cider vinegar

5 tsp nutritional yeast

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp white miso paste

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp  white pepper

1/8 tsp sea salt

1 cup water

To serve:

Green leaf lettuce

Avocado, sliced

Extra Frank’s hot sauce


For the Patties:

Cook quinoa according to instructions on the package. In the meantime, add chickpeas to a food processor, and pulse to a powder-like consistency. In a large bowl, add the ground chickpeas, quinoa, garlic, shallot, carrot, quinoa flakes, hemp seeds and miso paste. Mix together and use the back of a fork to mix the miso and mixture together. Add Frank’s hot sauce, salt and white pepper and mix together. With clean hands, knead mixture and press down to form. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes. Form into 6 patties, squeezing and packing the mixture together. Use a George Foreman grill and cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until browned. If you don’t have a George Foreman, cook in a nonstick frying pan with a small amount of olive oil for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until browned. 

For the “blue cheese dressing”:

Soak cashews in 1 1/4c water for 30 minutes. Add cashews and remaining ingredients, except water, to a food processor or blender and puree on high speed. Add water, 1/4c at a time, to achieve desired smooth and creamy consistency. You may need more or less than 1c water. Top burgers with dressing.



To get in the patty spirit, check out what the other Recipe Reduxers are stacking up this month by clicking on the link below:


Posted by: Kara Lydon, RD | March 13, 2014

Irish Lentil Guinness Stew

The luck o’ the Irish will surely be with you this St. Patrick’s Day as you put a healthy twist on the classic beef stew by substituting lentils for beef. This stew is a perfect seasonal choice for those looking to eat healthier and on a budget. Replacing beef with lentils will help cut calories and fat from this traditional favorite dish, not to mention help put a few pennies back into your pocket. Here are just a few reasons to grab lentils for your next stew:

Inexpensive source of protein: One serving of lentils (1/2 cup, cooked) contains only 115 calories but packs in 9g of protein! For 9g of quality plant-based protein, you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank. A 16-oz. bag of dry lentils costs about two dollars, which means your serving of protein only set you back twenty cents. Not a bad deal!

Excellent source of fiber: A serving of lentils boasts 8g of soluble fiber, which is equivalent to 32 percent of the daily value. Soluble fiber is an important nutrient especially for clients with diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel in your digestive tract that delays stomach emptying, which may have a beneficial effect on satiety and insulin sensitivity. Soluble fiber also helps block absorption of dietary cholesterol, lowering LDL cholesterol levels.

Good source of vitamins and minerals: Lentils are quite the nutritional powerhouse, packing in a host of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and iron. Lentils are an excellent source of folate for women of childbearing age, providing 90 percent of the daily value. Recommend lentils to your vegetarian or vegan clients for an excellent source of iron — about 7mg per serving.


Lentil Guinness Stew

Serves 8

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 celery stalks
3 small yellow onions
10 oz. button mushrooms, sliced, divided
4 russet potatoes, peeled
3 small to medium turnips, peeled
3 large carrots, peeled
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 14.9-oz. can of Guinness®
4 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 cup dry black lentils, rinsed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Chopped parsley for garnish, optional


  1. Finely chop the celery, onions and half of the mushrooms. Chop the potatoes, turnips and carrots into large chunks. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat and add finely chopped vegetables. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add flour to vegetables, stir to coat and let cook for a few minutes, until the bottom of the pot begins to brown. Pour in the Guinness and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender, about one hour. Garnish in bowl with fresh chopped parsley.
  1. IMG_1464

This stew pairs perfectly with my Irish soda bread. May the luck o’ the lentils be with ya this St. Patty’s Day!

Posted by: Kara Lydon, RD | March 7, 2014

Cambodia Cuisine

If I could only eat one thing for the rest of eternity, it might as well be crack peanuts.

Let me rewind for second. When I was in Siem Reap, Cambodia, we toured the temples with a beautifully spirited woman named Kinal Min. If you ever have a chance to take a tour in Siem Reap, I highly recommend her. After marveling over the ancient beauty we just experienced at Angkor Wat, the largest religious structure in the world, the four of us (Kinal, my two friends, and I) processed what we just saw over breakfast at a restaurant on the grounds.

Afterwards, Kinal started talking to some of the locals who worked at the restaurant and were in the process of making something in an extra-large wooden bowl. Sure enough, Kinal, with her sweet ways, snagged us handfuls of what was in the works in this bowl. Enter: crack peanuts. They were dubbed crack peanuts by myself largely because there was no alternative name we were given to describe them and they were ridiculously addictive.


Crack peanuts contain a few ingredients: kaffir lime, lemongrass, sugar, salt and chiles. That’s all! The sweet and salty combination lures you in then hooks you with the refreshing taste of the kaffir lime and lemongrass, and a pinch of heat from the chiles. I cannot wait to re-create these at home! 

Another Khmer classic is Amok, Cambodia’s traditional curry. Its base is typically coconut cream and galangal (similar to ginger) and is steamed inside a banana leaf. I ordered mine with fish and was told there are two kinds of “river fish” to choose from: white fish and black fish. I went with white. The Amok with fish was surprisingly delightful – a really unique taste compared to the curry I had been eating in Thailand.


A popular vegetable in both Cambodia and Thailand that I’m fairly certain we ordered every single day during our trip is morning glory. From a taste perspective, morning glory (known as water spinach) is a cross between spinach and bok choy and typically flavored with garlic, oyster sauce and chili. I seriously miss this veg so much – not only for its taste but also its nutritional powerhouse – an excellent source of vitamin A and C and iron.


The food markets in Cambodia were quite an experience. Raw meat and seafood every which way you turned. I even gasped out loud at the sight of a pig’s head just chillin’ next to some produce. The smell was pretty rancid so I didn’t want to hang around too long but it was incredible to see and a sight I will never forget.



 Up next…A day in Chaing Mai, Thailand: visiting a local market and cooking up traditional fare at an organic farm.

Posted by: Kara Lydon, RD | February 27, 2014

Celebrating Four Years of Blogging


I’m always amazed at how fast time seems to move. I had this assumption that time would magically slow down once I left my full-time job. Boy, I was I sorely mistaken. 2014 is moving at lightening speed – how is it almost March already?!

This reflection on time is sparked by a momentous occasion that’s occurring today. It’s Peace, Love, and Food’s fourth birthday! Yep, on February 27th, 2010, I wrote my first blog post and shared it with the world, all the while worrying, “will anyone read it?” I still think back to my inspiration to start the blog and I think of my dear friend and fellow RD, Janel Funk, who spoke to the Massachusetts Student Dietetic Association about the benefits of blogging as a RD. She said (and I paraphrase) that social media is moving so fast, if you don’t start your blog now, you won’t be able to catch up. That was my wake up call! My motivation. I thought to myself, it’s now or never.

Four years later, my blog has helped me land two dream jobs, make long-lasting friendships, meet amazing colleagues, discover my love of writing and most recently, my passion for food photography. Gosh, I’m getting so sentimental writing right now. Thank you for following my journey over the last four years. I’ve come a long way and so has this blog.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at some of my first food posts and shots. Just remember, we all gotta start somewhere!


My fourth post: Vegify your chili


My second post: Tempeh…temp-huh?


My first ever blog post, four years ago today! 

It’s timely that I’m reflecting on my blog evolution today as I am starting the process to give my site a makeover. That’s right, this blog and this girl is growing up so I’m taking the time to create a site that best reflects who I am today (and not the intern I was four years ago).

I’m really excited for this transition and can’t wait to share it with you once it’s finished. Thank you again for coming back, post after post, to read Peace, Love, and Food. It’s your ongoing support that inspires me to keep writing. 

Posted by: Kara Lydon, RD | February 21, 2014

Recipe Redux: Mandarin Champagne Cocktail

Beverages. They’re so hot right now. 

This month’s Recipe Redux is all about the growing drink trend that we’re seeing emerge on Pinterest and magazines everywhere. Whether it’s a trendy green smoothie, a decadent cocktail, or a hip hot beverage, drinks be everywhere. Drinks be everywhere on my blog too – remember the chocolate cherry frosty or the blueberry basil lemonade fizz (my first ever recipe redux post)? 

My inspiration was brunch happy hour. Last Sunday, Steve made eggs and deliciously spiced home fries while I played resident mixologist. Now, that’s what I call teamwork! I decided to makeover the traditional champagne cocktail that calls for sugar cubes and sweeten with juice of the winter citrus that I can’t get enough of this year. 


Mandarin Champagne Cocktail

Serves Two


1.5oz vodka

4oz mandarin juice (juice from 2 mandarins)

6oz prosecco


In a cocktail shaker, add vodka, mandarin juice and ice and shake until combined. Divide evenly between two cocktail glasses and top off each glass with prosecco. 


Cheers, friends! Raise a glass to other beverages created by fellow Reduxers by clicking on the link below.

Also, let’s give it up for the winner of the California Almond’s #lifehack pack – Ayla Withee of Eat Simply! Congrats, Ayla. Can’t wait to see what nutty creations you come up with.

Posted by: Kara Lydon, RD | February 16, 2014

National Almond Day Raw Brownie Recipe & Giveaway! {Sponsored Post}

Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by California Almonds. I was compensated for my time by receiving free samples of the products mentioned.  All opinions stated are my own.

Happy triple holiday weekend! That’s right, we’ve got the day for lovers, the day for prezzies, and the less familiar, day for almonds – the ultimate tree nut! That’s right folks, today is National Almond Day – a day to reflect upon all that these little tree nuts give to us. But really, it’s a day to celebrate the versatility of almonds by getting creative in the kitchen!

Call me nutty but I can’t get enough of nuts lately. They’re a good source of heart-healthy fat and a great source of plant-based protein, not to mention chock full of vitamins and minerals. This is why I was psyched when California Almonds sent me the ultimate almond package to celebrate National Almond Day – almond flour, raw whole almonds, slivered almonds and almond butter.

IMG_2864Emerging research is being published on the health benefits of almonds, which is no surprise considering they contain 6g of protein and 4g of fiber per ounce. Research is pointing to the consumption of nuts having a positive effect on chronic disease such as cancer and heart disease.

Between almond flour, almond butter and the nuts themselves, there are so many ways to incorporate almonds into your cooking. Use almond flour in your baking, crushed almonds as a topping for chicken or fish, almond butter to add to your favorite smoothie recipe.

To celebrate National Almond Day AND Valentine’s Day, I made a delicious recipe for raw vegan brownies featuring almonds and almond butter!


Raw Orange Chocolate Salted Brownies 


1 cup raw almonds

1 cup pitted dates

1/2c cocoa powder

1 tsp maca powder

1 tsp orange zest

1 tbsp almond butter

1 tsp salt

coarse sea salt for garnish


In a food processor, add almonds and pulse for a few seconds until almonds turn turn into a course flour. While the food processor is running, add the remaining ingredients. The mixture should be crumb-like but but held together when pressed. Pour the mixture into a 8×8 pan and press down firmly with your hands. Cut into small squares or alternatively, roll into small balls for brownie bites. Garnish with course sea salt.


For chipoltle chocolate brownies, substitute 1 tsp orange zest for 1/2 tsp chipoltle powder and skip sea salt garnish.




To enter to receive your very own California Almond lifehack pack complete with almond flour, almond butter, whole almonds and slivered almonds, simply leave a comment here with your favorite way to use almonds in the kitchen. For an extra entry, share this giveaway via twitter “I just entered @karalydonRD giveaway for a free @almond #lifehack pack. Enter for a chance to win by visiting #spon”. This giveaway will run from Sunday, February 16 through Thursday, February 20. The winner will be announced on the blog on Friday, February 21st.

Disclosure: By posting this pairing I am entering a contest sponsored by Pistachio Health Institute and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

In-shell pistachios are awesome because they’re so versatile. Seriously, they’re macho enough to hang for game day and sexy enough to keep you company on Valentine’s Day. Plus, you get 49 nuts in one serving! Now, that’s what I call a deal. This month, the Pistachio Health Institute challenged us to create unique food + drink pairings for in-shell pistachios and in case you missed my game-day snack pairing, check it out here.

With love in the air and Valentine’s Day creeping up quickly, I decided to use romanticism for inspiration for this particular pairing.

Valentine’s Day Romantic Pistachio Pairing: in-shell pistachios + dark chocolate covered mandarins + moscato 


This pairing is super easy. I simply dipped peeled mandarins into melted dark chocolate and sprinkled with a few crushed pistachios. The mandarins + dark chocolate are sweet and tart while the in-shell pistachios are salty for that sweet + salty combo that we all crave.

The drink I used was Oddero’s 2012 Moscato D’Asti because frankly everyone deserves a little bubbly on V-Day. That, and its peach notes really brighten the citrus flavor of the mandarins.


I love mandarins because they are made in the U.S. (compared to Spanish clementines) and unlike clementines that can get dried out easily, mandarins are extra juicy and easier to peel (bonus points!).


This Valentine’s Day, get cuddly on the couch, break out the bubbly and get crackin’. In-shell pistachios are bringing sexy back. For more in-shell pistachio pairings by fellow ReDuxers, check out the link below.

Disclosure: By posting this pairing I am entering a contest sponsored by Pistachio Health Institute and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Super Bowl Sunday is here! Go Bills! Oh, wait. Hey, a girl can dream…

This month, the folks over at the Pistachio Health Institute challenged us Recipe Reduxers to come up with unique food and drink pairings for in-shell pistachios. I love in-shell pistachios because they’re salty and crunchy to satisfy any snack craving. Plus, a one-ounce serving equals (drum roll, please) approximately 49 nuts, which is more nuts per serving than any other snack nut, and a reduced serving of about 30 pistachios is just about 100 calories. In-shell pistachios are also surprisingly versatile and can be paired with sweet or savory, indulgent or heart-healthy.


My food pairing was inspired by the big game day.

The Ultimate Super Bowl Snack Trio: in-shell pistachios + salt & vinegar kale chips + sriracha popcorn + craft hard cider


All three snacks give just the right amount of crunch that you want with a game-day snack but each imparts something special. With the sriracha popcorn you get a little heat, the salt & vinegar kale chips give you a little acidity – that burns so good taste on your tongue, and the pistachios – rich and nutty. The craft hard cider is sweet so it balances out the saltiness nicely.


What are you waiting for? Get crackin’ and get snackin’. Check out the link below all week long for fun + unique in-shell pistachio pairings:

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