Meals that use a template or formula that you can make different each time you make!

Whip up a tasty, vegetarian meal that everyone will love! In minutes you can have a simple lunch or a quick weeknight meal - no recipe required! Bean vegetable saute. Get the Formula recipe! @danielleomar

Formula Meals: Bean and Vegetable Sauté

Whip up a tasty, vegetarian meal in minutes.  A Bean and Vegetable Sauté is the perfect lunch or quick weeknight meal – no recipe required! 

Whip up a tasty, vegetarian meal that everyone will love! In minutes you can have a simple lunch or a quick weeknight meal - no recipe required! Bean vegetable saute. Get the Formula recipe! @danielleomar

I love making dried beans from scratch. I used to think it was a very complicated process that I could not possibly have time for…until I tried it. It really can’t be any easier. It’s also not super time consuming, it just takes a little planning ahead.

Here’s my simple method to cook beans from scratch:

  • Rinse the beans and remove any particles or non-bean stuff.
  • Soak the beans in water, covered, overnight.
  • Drain the soaking water and rinse the beans.
  • Simmer on the stove in water until they are soft.

The type of bean you’re cooking might determine how long you soak or how long you simmer, but I find soaking overnight covers all my bases.

Once I have my beans ready to go, I usually make a sauté using whatever vegetables I have on hand. I might also add rice or quinoa, if I have some already cooked. What I love about a sauté is that it’s a formula meal. What that means is that you don’t need a recipe and you can’t really mess it up (my favorite kind of meal).

What’s the Formula?

2-3 parts vegetables: I like to use seasonal vegetables that I have on hand. I love mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower florets, and snap peas. You really can’t go wrong here, just throw in any combination of what you have. The parts means to use 2-3 different types of vegetables!

2 parts aromatics: Aromatics include onion, scallion, shallots, or garlic. I usually use 2 of these and saute them in the oil before I add the vegetables.

2 parts seasoning: This is where you’re choosing the flavors for your dish. In addition to sea salt and pepper, great flavor combinations include: oregano and thyme; cumin and chili powder; dill and thyme; ginger and rosemary; tarragon and parsley. Single spices that pack a flavorful punch all by themselves are: curry powder, garam masala, chaat masala, adobo, Jerk spice, Za’atar, and poultry spice.

1 part beans: If you’re making beans from scratch, get creative here! If using canned beans, I find that chickpeas, kidney beans, lima beans, fava beans, black eyed peas would work well.

1 part grain:  I like a sturdy grain like wild or brown rice or quinoa. You could also add cooked farro, wheatberries, or barley.

1 part fresh herbs: Fresh herbs add so much flavor and a pop of green color! My favorites are basil, mint, parsley, tarragon, dill and cilantro.

1 part oil:  Oil is the base to saute your vegetables so don’t skimp here. I usuallly use olive oil or coconut oil, but you could mix up the oils or add a tsp of sesame or peanut oil for flavor.

Other optional add-ins:  add a splash of lemon juice or a tablespoon of harissa for some heat! 

Saute the aromatics in oil and then add the seasonings and the vegetables. Once the veggies are fork tender, taste and adjust the seasoning. Then stir in the cooked beans and grains and cook until warmed through. Finish the dish off with the fresh herbs.


For a little more inspiration, here are a few more bean and vegetable dishes I’ve made in the past:

Pan Seared Fennel with White Beans and Black Olives

Pan Seared Fennel w Olives & White Beans


Asparagus, Tomato and White Bean Saute

Asparagus and white beans with cilantro pesto -- the perfect weeknight dinner! @danielleomar #glutenfree #cleaneating


Lima Bean Saute with Basmati Rice

Lima Bean Saute with Basmati Rice


 Mexican Red Pepper Saute

Mexican Red Pepper Saute

Formula Meal: no-bake energy balls are a favorite snack! healthy, gluten free and no added sugars! Learn how to make them yourself in a few easy steps! @danielleomar

Formula Meals: No-Bake Energy Balls

Formula Meal: no-bake energy balls are a favorite snack! healthy, gluten free and no added sugars! Learn how to make them yourself in a few easy steps! @danielleomar

I was fixing up a batch of my favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough energy balls last week and realized that this is a formula recipe! If you’re new around here, a Formula Meal is basically a dish that you can whip up using a specific formula each time, switching out the ingredients to create new and delicious flavors.

No-bake energy balls, bites, bars — whatever you want to call them — are great for a variety of circumstances: morning or afternoon snack, grab-n-go breakfast, post-workout or pre-run fuel, and even dessert if you get fancy with them. My no-bake energy balls are all nut-based, so if nuts are not your thing you are out of luck. They are also gluten-free and dairy free. I have seen energy ball recipes online where honey, agave, or maple sugar is added, but my no-bake balls do not contain added sugars.

There is one catch to making my no-bake bites, you need a food processor. I know for some people the food processor can be very intimidating, but it’s really very simple to use. Food processors run from $60-$200. If you don’t think you’re going to use the food processor very much you could get a mini one for about $30. I like this one.

I use my food processor all the time! Not just for my no-bake energy balls, but for slicing, dicing, and shredding vegetables (I hate to chop onions). I also use use it to make applesauce, hummus, nut butters, and a ton of other things. Most come with a few different blade options that you can use in a lot of different ways. This is the machine I have.

Now let’s get busy making some energy balls! Below are my favorite ingredient tips and a simple formula that will make you an energy ball pro in no time.

What’s the Formula?

2 parts dried fruit:  the dried fruit is going to play an important role in your balls because it helps to keep them sticky, which allows them to stay together when forming the balls. I always use Medjool dates because they are delicious, soft, and moist. The pitted dates in a bag at the grocery store are definitely not as moist as Medjool dates, so you will have to soak them in water first to soften them. I use about 10 dates to make one batch of balls.  Other dried fruits you can use are figs, cherries, cranberries, and apricots!

2 parts nuts: here’s where you can get as creative as you want. I always use raw nuts.  Raw cashews are a secret weapon for giving that cookie dough flavor.  Almonds are always a go-to, peanuts, macadamia, walnuts, pecans, even pistachios are good. You can combine a few different nuts or go with one for a very consistent flavor. Like for cashew lemon balls, you would go straight cashew. If you want a more complex flavor, mix them up. I usually do 1/2 cup total nuts.

1 part nut butter: the nut butter is for keeping the balls together. Natural almond butter, peanut butter, cashew butter, and sunflower butter are great choices. I usually use about 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons.  If you don’t want to add nut butter you could substitute with coconut butter/oil.

1 part spice: adding spice can give your balls some complex flavor. Cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, lemon or orange zest, sea salt, vanilla powder/extract, ground ginger, cardamom, and pumpkin pie spice are all fun!

1 part seed: seeds can add some fiber, protein and healthy fats to the balls. Options include ground flaxseed, chia seed, or hemp seed. You can also use sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds, too! I usually add in 1/4 cup.

1 part flavor (optional):  the flavor can be any combination of add-ins. I usually use about 1/4 cup. These are a few of my favorites:

  • raw oats
  • unsweetened shredded coconut
  • cacao nibs or powder for chocolate
  • matcha tea powder
  • freeze-dried fruit (apples, strawberries, raspberries, etc.)
  • extracts (mint, almond, hazelnut, etc.)
  • frozen wild blueberries
  • rice krispies
  • pretzels

1 part protein (optional): protein add-ins include protein powder, hemp seeds, or spirulina powder, and even cooked quinoa.

If soaking dates or making a paste, do this first. Then add dates to food processor and pulse until chopped up pretty well. Then add nuts and nut butter and process again. Finally, throw in your extra add ins and pulse until well combined and mixture looks like sand. You know they are ready when you squeeze the “dough” with your fingers and it sticks together. Then just roll the mixture into balls. Once you have your balls you can also roll them in cocoa powder, shredded coconut, or anything you want!

Below is some inspiration to get you started:

Chocolate Lemon Energy Balls



No-Bake Fig Newtons

no-bake fig newton balls


Cranberry Macadamia Nut Squares

Cranberry Macadamia Nut Energy Bars


Gingerbread Hemp Balls

gingerbread hemp bites


Lemon Apple Cocoroons

No-bake lemon apple cocoroons



fall clean eating detox program


Formula Meals: Quinoa Salad

Whip up a tasty, vegetarian quinoa salad that everyone will love! In minutes you can have a simple lunch, a quick weeknight meal, or the perfect picnic fare – no recipe required! 

Formula Meals: Quinoa Salad..learn the formula to make simple, healthy quinoa salads! Perfect for lunch or easy weeknight dinner!

I’m being very efficient today by combining my monthly Recipe Redux post with a Formula Meals post! This month’s Redux theme is spring cleaning. We were challenged to go through our pantry, cupboards, freezer, or fridge and choose an ingredient, spice, or condiment that’s been hanging out for a while. Then share a healthy recipe made using this new-found pantry prize. I decided to use this theme as a way to clean out my fridge. And what better way to clean out your fridge then to make a quinoa salad?

I perfected the quinoa salad last summer when I was doing some catering for a client. I made her a different quinoa salad each week and got pretty good at it. I discovered quickly that there was a formula for creating the most delicious quinoa salad. You don’t need a recipe, but the best iterations were those that contained a few specific ingredients.

I was never a real quinoa fan before making these salads for my client. Now I know that if I have some quinoa already made in the fridge, a delicious meal is just 10 minutes away!

What’s the Formula?

1 part quinoa: I like to mix the red and white quinoa together (or buy the tricolor).  To make, use one part quinoa and two parts water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for about 18 minutes or until the water is absorbed. I like to add lemon zest to the pot while cooking and then add a squeeze of lemon after cooking.  

2 parts vegetables: here’s where you can get as creative as you want. Whatever you go with, make sure you chop into bite-sized pieces. Some ideas are: steamed asparagus, chopped cucumbers, sliced cherry tomatoes, chopped zucchini, chopped broccoli (steamed or raw), fresh/frozen corn or peas, sliced radishes, chopped bell peppers, roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted cauliflower, etc.

1 part greens: the trick for adding the greens is to make sure you chop them into bite sized pieces!  I love using softer greens like baby kale, spring mix, baby spinach, arugula, watercress, pea shoots, etc.

1 part fresh herbs:  fresh herbs add so much flavor, don’t skip this part!  Experiment with chopped basil, mint, parsley, tarragon, dill or cilantro.

1 part fruit:  you can use fresh or dried fruit here. I love sliced apples, grapes, and strawberries. Dried cherries, cranberries, currants and golden raisins are fun, too!

1 part nut:  Every salad needs some crunch — sliced almonds are my go-to but I also love chopped walnuts, pecans, pistachios, and hazelnuts!

Always the same: a simple dressing of 2 parts olive oil, 1 part vinegar (of your choice), salt and pepper, juice from half a lemon, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, a few drops liquid stevia or 1 tsp honey.

Other optional add-ins:  black beans, chick peas or lentils are also a nice touch to any quinoa salad. 

Prepare quinoa and let cool while you chop the vegetables. If using already prepared quinoa, place 1-2 cups into a large bowl. Add your chopped vegetables, greens, herbs, and fruit to the bowl. In a small Mason jar, add the dressing ingredients and shake well. Pour dressing over salad and toss well to combine. Top with nuts and serve.

And that’s it! Don’t forget to check below to see what my fellow reduxers are whipping up for you this month!