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Broccoli, Cherry Tomato, and Pesto Pasta Salad

17 Jul

 Are you suffering from a heat wave? Toronto had 4 consecutive days of high temperatures (+32C, humidex reaching to +42C). I kept close to a pool yesterday, and stayed out of a steamy kitchen 🙂  If you are suffering too, a cooling bowl of this pasta salad won’t go unnoticed!  It makes the perfect lunch or a light dinner on a hot summer day. Make this dish early in the day to allow time for the flavors to blend.  Enjoy and stay cool!

Another cooling tip:    used the same water to cook both pasta and a vegetable.  Additional bonus – it cuts down a pot to clean!

Adapted from the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook.


  • 4 oz whole wheat rotini pasta
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup packed fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup pesto
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add the rotini and cook per the package directions.
  2. Add the broccoli during the last 2 minutes of cooking.
  3. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again.  Transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Add the tomatoes, onion and basil to the bowl with the pasta.  Stir the pesto and oil and toss well.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cold Pasta Salad

How do you beat this heat?

Apple-Chocolate Chip Pancakes

14 Jul

Apple-Chocolate Chips Pancakes

Great for Sunday mornings! Fluffy and moist and oh-so-sinful with all the chocolate…

Putting the chocolate chips in before cooking the pancakes may seem a little strange but they don’t sink to the bottom of the batter and are evenly dispersed and melt a lot more in the actual pancake.

For those who don’t like chocolate these pancakes will be excellent with fresh blueberries too.

Adapted from the Flat Belly Foods Guide


  • 2/3 c whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 c fat-free plain yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and grated
  • 1/3 c semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Whisk flours, cornmeal, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, yogurt, egg and oil in a large bowl until combined.
  2. Fold apple, then chocolate chips into batter.
  3. Coat large nonstick skillet with spray and heat over medium heat.
  4. Spoon 2 to 3 tbsp of the batter into skillet for each pancake.  Cook 2 minutes, or until bubbles appear on surface and edges set.  Flip to the other side.
  5. Cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.


Spinach Salad with Pears, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese

5 Jul

Spinach Salad with Pears, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese

This is one of my favourite salads, I have it at least 4 times a week 🙂

Blue Cheese goes very well with any nuts and berries or fruit.  Strawberries, melon, or peaches make suitable stand-in.  I’ve used different nuts  – almonds, pecans, and pistachios.

The combination of all ingredients is exquisite and just right for a festive table.

Adapted from the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook


  • 1/2 cup walnuts (or any other nuts you like)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 1 large red or green pear (quartered, cored, and cut into thin slices)
  • 2 tbsp golden raisins
  • 1 bag pre-washed baby spinach
  • 3 oz Blue cheese, crumbled


  1. Toast the walnuts in a large skillet over medium heat until fragrant, no more than 4 minutes.l
  2. Whisk the oil, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper in a salad bowl.  Stir in the onion, then the pear and raisins.  Add the spinach and toss to coat.
  3. Divide the salad among plates and top each with the reserved walnuts and Blue cheese before serving.

Steamed Asparagus With Poached Egg and Pesto

18 Jun

Asparagus with Poached Egg

I had this one night as a light dinner when I hardly had anything in my fridge.  I wouldn’t even call it a recipe as it is very easy to make.  For a bit more flavour add some lightly grilled prosciutto and/or Parmesan cheese.  It will be equally good for either breakfast or light lunch.

Ingredients (Serves 1):

  1. 1/2 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed
  2. 1 egg
  3. 1 tbsp pesto


  • Fill a pot with water.  Make sure you don’t add too much water – you only need enough to create steam.  Place the asparagus in a steamer basket and put it inside the pot.  Cover with a lid a steam for a couple of minutes – your asparagus should look bright green.
  • Place it on a serving dish and top with a poached egg topped with pesto.  Salt and pepper to taste.


Thai-Style Soup with Corn and Seafood

10 Jun

Corn and eafood soup, Thai-style

I’ve made this recipe for a few years now and it’s always excellent.  I shared this recipe with my friend and her boyfriend proclaimed at first bite that this was by far the greatest soup she made! This soup makes great leftovers.

Adapted from the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook


  • 1 bag (16 oz) frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • ¼ canola oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into very thin strips
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 8 scallions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp reduced-sodium fish sauce
  • ¾ lb mixed seafood
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ tsp ground red pepper (optional)


  1. Place 1 ½ cups of the corns and ½ cups of the broth in food processor or blender.  Process until smooth and set aside
  2. Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat.  Add bell pepper and jalapeño pepper and cook for 3 minutes.  Add scallions and cook until vegetables are tender.
  3. Add fish sauce, reserved corn-broth mixture, and remaining corn and broth.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes, or until thickened.
  4. Stir in seafood, cilantro, and red pepper (if using).

Mad for Peanut Butter? Try this soup!

11 Feb

Peanut Butter Soup

As you may have noticed in my previous posts, we eat a lot of soup through the cold late Fall and Winter months (Click here and  here).  Some soups served as a first course, while others, more substantial versions, are the meal itself (click here and here).  This delicious soup is one of those soups that is hearty enough to stand alone.  The soup has a bisque-like consistency without the cream – the peanut butter melts into the broth!

This robust and creamy vegetarian soup is very satisfying. You may think you’re cheating by eating such an indulgent dish, but fear not– it’s full of good-for-you mono-saturated fatty acids.  Another reason to love this soup is that it comes together in a snap and cooks up in little time. I’ve tried this wonderful soup three years ago and it has become one of our favorites.

Adapted from the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook:

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs of selery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup natural unsalted peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • fresh cilantro, chopped (I used dill)


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, celery, and carrots; cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and 2 cups of water.  
  3. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes over low heat until vegetable are very tender.
  4. Transfer the vegetable to a food processor or a blender and process until smooth.
  5. Return to the pot and stir in the peanut butter, lime juice and remaining 1 cup of water.
  6. Cook for another 5 minutes until the peanut butter melts.
  7. Garnish with chopped cilantro or any other fresh herb and serve.

Roasted Bell Pepper and Avocado Sandwich with Dijon and Buckwheat Honey

8 Feb

Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich

Adapted from the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook

These days I am dancing up to 12 hours a week.  I get plenty of exercise and I want to make sure that I eat as healthy as possible and keep up my energy for dance.  Each meal I eat is balanced containing fruits/vegetables, carbs, proteins and healthy fats.

This vegetarian sandwich is very filling and the best part that it’s slightly over 300 calories.  This makes a light lunch which takes less than 10 minutes to prepare.

I shared this recipe with the girls in our Team and they all like it 🙂

Have got to stay in shape to fit into this sexy Salsa costume!


  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp buckwheat honey (pure natural unpasteurized)
  • 2 tbsp light ricotta cheese
  • 1 small (6-inch) chipotle whole grain tortilla 
  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted (I used a jarred variety this time)
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced


  1. Combine the mustard and honey and spread it on the tortilla.
  2. Top it with the ricotta cheese, pepper and avocado.

Soup For Supper? You bet!

20 Dec

This classic French Onion Soup underwent a major Flat Belly Diet makeover!  The cheese has been replaced with lots of tender strips of beef tenderloin so the sodium level in this dish is much lower.  Hope you’ll love it 🙂

Beefy Onion Soup

Adapted from the Flat Belly Diet.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz beef tenderloin cut into very thin strips
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 c reduced-sodium beef broth or water
  • chopped cilantro
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and sugar, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes or until golden. 
  2. Add the beef and cook for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. 
  4. Add the broth or water, pour in the vinegar, and bring to a boil. 
  5. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook fro 15 minutes.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro.   Serve with 1 slice whole grain French bread, toasted, and rubbed with garlic.

Make Mine a Spicy One

12 Dec

Imagine a big steaming pot of chili…  Doesn’t It have “comfort” written all over it?

This chili doesn’t have a lot of meat in it.  I add loads of good-for-you roasted pumpkin seeds for bulk and crunchy contrast.

You can top your chili with chopped avocado, cold sour cream, and some grated strong cheese.

Chipotle Beef and Bean Chili

Serves 4


  • 1 onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • ½ lb lean ground beef
  • 1 chipotle pepper, minced
  • 4 tsp chili powder
  •  21 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 can roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup dry roasted shelled pumpkin seeds, unsalted


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the beef and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, breaking into smaller pieces until no longer pink.  Meanwhile, finely chop the onion, bell pepper and garlic and them to the pot.  Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the chipotle pepper, chili powder, cumin, and oregano.  Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the beans, and ¼ cup water (if needed), and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and pumpkin seeds. 

Think Chocolate!

9 Dec

Creamy hot chocolate without any cream

Nothing is more comforting than a creamy homemade hot chocolate but the high calorie count can jeopardize your weight loss goal. This delicious snack or desert can be enjoyed while still on a diet!

Here are some simple secret tricks for slimming down this winter drink.  My creamy hot chocolate doesn’t have any cream in it (314 cal in 1 cup), I use tahini (95 cal in 1 tbsp) instead. Tahini contains all the essential amino acids, making it a high quality protein, plus it is rich in calcium, lecithin and B vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B15 and is easily digestible. Cinnamon helps to regulate blood sugar and lower bad cholesterol and has other numerous health benefits.  The supposed health benefits of cayenne are almost unbelievable but it’s nothing short of amazing with its effects on the circulatory system.


2 squares of dark chocolate (no less than 70%) or 2 tbsp of raw cocoa

1 tbsp tahini 

1 tsp agave syrup

¼  tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp cinnamon

a pinch of cayenne pepper

1 c boiling water

Add all ingredients to the Magic Bullet cup and mix until smooth.

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