White Bean Dip

white bean dip

How are we doing with those healthy school lunches, everyone?? Do you have a fresh batch of ideas ready to go? Or are you facing another year of “sandwiches and sides”?

One trick to keeping lunch interesting is to mix things up by slipping some less traditional items into that lunchbox. As an example, this bean dip is packed with protein and fiber, and when you serve it with pita or naan and raw veggies, you have everything you need for a balanced lunch.

Plus, dipping! Hooray!


White Bean Dip

Makes 1 1/2 cups


4 Whole Wheat Pita Breads (or try Naan bread!)
1 can (19 oz.) cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Chili powder for sprinkling
Variety of cut vegetables for dipping


1.  Preheat oven to 350°.  Cut pita bread into wedges and place on baking sheet.  Toast until lightly browned and crisp.  10-15 minutes, turning once halfway through.  Transfer to a plate to cool.
2.  In a food processor, combine beans, oil, and lemon juice;  season with salt and pepper.  Puree until smooth.
3.  Place puree into a serving bowl, and lightly sprinkle with chili powder.  Serve dip with toasted pita triangles (or naan, which I prefer soft) and tons of fresh veggies!

Back-to-School White Vegetable Soup

back to school vegetable soup

We are in the final days before school starts, so I’ve started the discussion with my kids about what they’d like to find in their lunchboxes this year. We’ve generated a good list of ideas, but there’s one option that is a favorite for all three, and that’s SOUP!

My kids really love to take soup for lunch. We have small thermoses that fit in their lunchboxes and if I pack them hot soup with some cut up veggies or fruit and a little treat, I almost always find an empty thermos at the end of the day!

I love that I can make a pot of soup on Sunday and send soup in for several days during the week from that one pot. In the morning, I just heat a serving in a glass measuring cup  (the kind that looks like a little pitcher) in the microwave, pour it into the thermos, and repeat the process for each child. Raw veggies and fruit can be packed up the night before so this doesn’t take too long. If you’re packing LOTS of lunches, you may want to just heat a pot on the stove and fill the thermoses from there.


These Foogo Thermoses are a good size and have a good seal!

This particular recipe is a favorite, and it’s perfect in August because it uses late summer vegetables that you can still find at the farmer’s market (corn, zucchini, squash, beans, onions and potatoes). With the addition of cannellini beans as a protein source, you have most everything you need for a healthy lunch in one bowl!


Back to School White Vegetable Soup

8 servings  (so you’ll have enough to get multiple lunches)


8 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
2 15.5 oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 medium zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces
2 medium yellow squash, cut into bite-size pieces
1 pound fresh green beans, cut into bite-size pieces
3 cups corn (cut from 3 ears of fresh corn or use frozen)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1/3 cup fresh dill springs (optional – parsley is good, too!)


  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring the broth to a boil.
  2. Add the potato, zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, corn, onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  3. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.  Add cannellini beans. Stir in the dill.


Shrimp Fra Diavolo

shrimp fra_diavolo_clr-19

What image does your mind’s eye conjure up when I say “Brother Devil”?  Personally, I see me holding a glass of red wine and stirring a simmering pot in my kitchen! That’s  because Brother Devil translates to Fra Diavolo -  an amazing sauce, usually tomato based, with chili peppers for heat.

If you love a dish with a little kick, this one is a gem. You can make a skillet version anytime, but this particular version cooks in the slow cooker for several hours, a process which melds the flavors and gives the sauce depth. It’s easy to prep, delicious to eat, and makes your whole house smell amazing while it cooks!

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Serves 6


1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 (15-ounce) cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1.5 pounds medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, minced


1.  Heat the oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat.  Saute the onion,  for 8-10 minutes, until it is soft and translucent. Add the garlic, and red pepper flakes and stir till fragrant.

2.  Add the onion mixture, tomatoes, and black pepper to a 4-quart slow cooker.  Stir.  Cook on low for 2-3 hours.

3.  Add the shrimp.  Stir, cover, and cook on high for 15 minutes or until the shrimp is fully cooked. Stir in fresh parsley and serve over whole wheat pasta or cooked spaghetti squash or with a loaf of crusty bread.

Hint: Find your perfect heat. If you like more spice, add extra red pepper flakes. If you prefer your dish on the milder side, cut back on the amount.