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With spring in full swing and summer on its way, I thought I’d share with you this recipe for a fresh salsa. It’s not unlike pico de gallo—a classic Tex-Mex mix of tomatoes, herbs, onions, and (usually) hot peppers. What makes this recipe different is the chunky texture and use of little pearl onions in place of scallions or chopped red onions. Dressed lightly with a splash of olive oil and lemon juice, you could almost say that this salsa took a detour to Italy instead of Mexico.

I enjoy fresh salsa all year round, but especially in the warmer months when lighter food tastes good. Salsa is a great little condiment for grilled fish or rice and beans. For a quick salad, spoon some atop a bed of greens and top with a handful or two of chickpeas. As most fresh salsas do, this one also makes a terrific accompaniment to quesadillas or wraps. There’s something unique and different about fresh salsas that set them apart in a league of their own from the store-bought variety found in most supermarkets. It’s a brightness of flavor that just can’t be beat.

My local farmers’ market reopened for the season again on Saturday. I’m already dreaming of the beautiful heirloom tomatoes that will be piled high in the stalls in just a few months. Ripe and juicy and perfectly sweet, they’ll be knock-your-sandals-off good in this salsa!


Chunky Tomato and Pearl Onion Salsa – Makes 2 cups

10-12 red pearl onions, unpeeled

1 1/2 cups seeded, chopped Roma tomatoes (from about 2 large)

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

Big pinch of sea salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Bring a small pot of water to boil. When boiling, add the unpeeled pearl onions. Boil for 60-90 seconds; remove from water with a slotted spoon. When onions are cool enough to handle (this takes just a few minutes), cut off the root tips with a paring knife and discard. Rub off the onions’ skins with your fingers. Cut them in half and transfer to a small mixing bowl.

To the onions add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine everything well. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Refrigerate until ready to serve, or up to 2 days.


Fruit salsas are another delicious and easy way to brighten up your dinner table. Check out my recipe for Spiced Black Beans and Rice with Mango Salsa. It’s one of my favorites!

Two more tasty salsa recipes…


This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

Carrot Cake Bites

These Carrot Cake Bites, featured in my guest post today over at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, taste like carrot cake in a snackable ball with none of the refined sugar, flour, gluten, or dairy found in most carrot cake recipes.

I love keeping a batch of these at the ready in my refrigerator during the warmer months because they have such a refreshing flavor. In addition to making a great snack or simple dessert to enjoy yourself or with your family, these are also a tasty treat to pull out when friends or neighbors stop by for an afternoon chit-chat. This seems to happen more often in the spring and summer, so it’s great to have some simple little recipes like this one tucked away in your repitoire for unexpected guests.

Be sure to visit Simply Sugar and Gluten Free today and check out my guest post on the importance of fruits and vegetables in the gluten-free diet. Big thanks to Amy for inviting me to post on her blog!


Carrot Cake Bites – Makes 12-15 balls

2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped (about ¾ cup)

½ cup raw walnuts

¼ cup raw cashews

¾ cup dates, pitted and roughly chopped (about 5-6 large dates)

1 tsp. freshly grated ginger

½ tsp. cinnamon

Zest of one orange, optional

Sesame seeds or unsweetened shredded coconut, for rolling

In a food processor fitted with the S-blade, process carrots until finely ground. Remove and set aside.

Process the walnuts and cashews in the food processor (no need to clean it out) until finely ground. Add the dates and process until finely chopped and incorporated into the nuts. Add the reserved carrots, ginger, cinnamon, and orange zest (if using) and process until dough forms.

Shape the mixture into 12-15 small balls. Roll in sesame seeds or shredded coconut to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve, or up to five days.


You’ve gotta love a cookbook that makes you smile—even laugh—as you read it. Rebecca Katz’s The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen is food for the soul.

The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery

I picked it up a few weeks ago on the recommendation of some other Bauman College grads. I don’t have cancer or know anyone close to me who does, but that doesn’t matter in the least. Rebecca’s recipes for delicious, nourishing fare are perfect for anyone seeking to eat healthfully and support their immune system—whether they have cancer or not.

Along with the tasty recipes and sensational photographs in the book, Rebecca’s writing is a delight to read. Riddled with humorous stories and plenty of culinary and kitchen tips, The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen presents healthful cuisine in an engaging and “easily digestable” package. While the book caters to the physical needs of those undergoing cancer treatment or recovery, the recipes will tickle the tastebuds of foodies both ill and healthy alike.

I’m particularly eager to try the Thai It Up Chicken Soup, Middle Eastern Chickpea Burgers, and Mediterranean Lentil Salad. Before I get to any of these, however, I want to share with you an adaptation I made of Rebecca’s Anytime Bars.

In the headnotes of the recipe, Rebecca writes:

“The great thing about this recipe is that you can change the ingredients to fit your taste preferences. You can even split the batter and make half with currants and cranberries and the other half with walnuts or whatever you’d like.”

I took her advice and shook up the recipe a little bit to my tastes, including making them gluten-free. The results are scrumptious—er, were scrumptious. They’re long gone already…and it won’t be long before I’m making another batch.


Hallie’s Energy Bars – makes 20 bars

(Inspired by the Anytime Bars found in The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen)

 1/4 cup millet flour

2 tbs. flaxseed meal

Pinch of sea salt

1/8 tsp. baking powder*

1/8 tsp. baking soda*

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup raw, whole almonds

3/4 cup raw pecan halves

1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup quinoa flakes or gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup (loosely packed) medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped

1 cup (loosely packed) dried Turkish apricots, roughly chopped

1 egg

3 tbs. honey or maple syrup

In a food processor fitted with the S-blade, process the millet flour, flaxseed meal, salt, baking powder and soda, and cinnamon until combined. Add almonds, pecans, and seeds and pulse 5-6 times to chop coarsely. Add quinoa flakes, dates, and apricots and pulse 10-15 times until everything is chopped and incorporated. (Mixture should still be fairly coarse.)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg and honey. Stir in the nut and fruit mixture until evenly moistened. Press into an even layer in the prepared 9×9 baking dish. Bake at 325-degrees for 20-25 minutes until set and lightly golden brown on top. Cool completely in pan, then cut into 20 squares.

Bars will keep at room temperature for up to 4 days or refrigerated for 5-7 days.

*Note: I do not have an eighth-teaspoon measuring utensil—I don’t even know if they make those! So I just used half of a quarter-teaspoon and it worked perfectly.


Hungry for more cookbook recommendations? Check out my post on Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors. Find more great recipes for healthy food at Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.


New Beginnings

The neighborhood I live in offers community garden plots to residents on  a first come, first serve basis. Last year, my family and I were “wait-listed” due to an abundance of eager gardeners and a lack of plots. We waited out the long winter in hopes of being offered a plot this spring…and much to our surprise, we got one!

On a lovely spring morning over the weekend, we journeyed the three blocks to our plot—lucky number 18—armed with rakes, spades, and gardening gloves. It was time to work the soil, to get in there and get dirty, to see what sort of ground we had on our hands. This is what we found.

Lots of rocks and pebbles, plastic plant tags, torn bits of potting soil bags, more rocks, clayish soil, scraps of wood—oh, and more rocks. The previous gardeners of this plot also left us a large square strawberry patch. Unfortunately, it’s quite overgrown and riddled with pesky weeds and thistles, so I think we’ll end up pulling it out and growing more vegetables there instead.

The strawberry patch (and yes, that is me in the photo waving to you. Hi!)

Spring is full of new beginnings. Out with rocks and weeds, in with the soil and seeds. Our adventures in gardening are only beginning. Hopefully, in a good 12 weeks or so, I’ll be able to post some stunning before-and-after photographs and maybe a tasty recipe or two using up our garden’s abundance. Stay tuned!

We all have those nostalgic recipes lurking in the back of our minds that evoke a sense of the past, maybe childhood or home, when we make them and eat them. Perhaps for you it’s your grandmother’s “top secret” recipe for chocolate chip cookies or your aunt’s best-ever potato salad. Maybe it’s the first recipe you and your spouse made together or the one thing you remember eating over and over again in a college dorm.

I have more than just one nostalgic recipe that holds a special place in my heart. But today I’m going to share with you a twist on a near and dear one: all the flavors of salmon loaf turned into a dressed-up salmon salad.

Doesn’t every little kid love salmon in a loaf? I know I did. My mom always seemed to make it just right. Her recipe was simple: just salmon, breadcrumbs, an egg, chopped vegetables (usually onion, celery, and bell pepper), and sometimes mayonnaise all mixed together and baked in a loaf pan. Unmolded from the pan and cut into slices, it was a tasty supper served alongside some warm peas and roasted potatoes. I haven’t had salmon loaf for a long time now, being gluten-free and all, but I do enjoy a good salmon salad every once in a while. Not only is this healthy meal gluten-free and dairy-free, it also replaces the mayo with a bit of olive oil for richness instead.

It was thinking back on Mom’s salmon loaf that got me inspired to make this salad. I tossed together Mom’s classic combo of onion, celery, and bell pepper along with some canned wild salmon and a splash each of olive oil and lemon juice (Mom always served lemon wedges alongside her loaf). To sort of wrap the side dish of peas right into the salad, I threw in a handful of those as well for a pop of sweetness and color. Served up on a bed of greens, this delicious salad had all the flavors and colors of Mom’s salmon loaf but none of the breadcrumbs or mayonnaise that make it a bit indulgent.

When I took a bite of this salad—though it’s quite deviant from Mom’s original salmon loaf recipe—the memories came galloping back to the front of my mind: Mom in the kitchen stirring up ingredients with her trusty wooden spoon (which she still has, by the way)…reaching over the counter to give me a few strips of celery to nibble on…sitting down at the table as a family to chat about how the day went and enjoying a satisfying meal together.

Does life get much better?

I guess that’s why we have memories. To keep us mindful of what life used to be, of the simple pleasures we once savored, of the people close to us who we continue to love through the years, and of all the time stretched out ahead of us like a canvas ready to be spattered and splotched with new memories.

What are your nostalgic recipes?


Dressed-Up Salmon Salad  – Serves 1

3 oz. (half can) canned wild salmon, drained and flaked into bite-sized pieces

1/4 cup each: chopped bell pepper, celery, and onion

A few cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup fresh or dethawed frozen peas

Splash of olive oil and lemon juice

Salt and pepper, to taste

1-2 cups mixed greens

In a small bowl combine salmon, vegetables, tomatoes, peas, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Mix it all up well and spoon onto a bed of greens. Serve.

Looking for a crunchy gluten-free cracker or slice of flatbread to go along with your salad? Check out these recipes:


By the way, over the winter I devoted a whole entire post just to canned wild salmon. Head on over here to read it and find another tasty salmon recipe. It’s such a versatile and healthful ingredient. I always have some stocked in my pantry.

This post is linked to Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday.


Have you ever given your personality a color? If you were a color, which one would you be? Blue, purple, yellow, orange, aqua, cream?

My family had a lot of fun with this color concept when I was growing up. After some thinking and lots of around-the-dinner-table discussions, we determined that my dad was silver—because he might be a little dull at first, but when you polish him up he really shines. My mom, a creative type with a keen eye for innovative design, cannot be pegged with just one color. Instead, the jewel tone palette better portrays her many depths and variations.

Me? I’m green, because I have many different shades. (This was my sister’s reasoning, by the way, which I think fits me perfectly.) Just think of all the greens out there:  the color of fresh spring grass contrasted with deep evergreen pine boughs; the murky water of a lake washing up gnarly masses of black-green seaweed; the pale hue of leeks and pistachios; the eery green light streaming across the water onto Gatsby’s lawn.

The color of this soup.

I like to think of green as the color of life, the universal shade of vibrancy and vitality. I felt like I was eating a big bowl of liquid life when I slurped down this soup for the first time. It tastes like you’re doing something good for yourself as you swallow spoonful after spoonful. And no matter what time of year or time of day, we could all use a little more liveliness in our lives, couldn’t we?

What’s your color? Give it some thought—maybe at the dinner table with your family as you eat this soup. Come on back and let me know what you find.  

Photo courtesy of Brianna Tittel


Garlicky Green Soup – Serves 4

2 tbs. olive oil

2 leeks, white and light greens parts halved lengthwise, then chopped crosswise

4 cups broccoli florets

6-8 cloves garlic, chopped

2 small red potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/3-inch dice

6 cups water or no-salt vegetable broth

4 cups spinach leaves, washed and chopped

1/2 cup parsley

1 cup frozen peas (no need to thaw)

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tbs. lemon juice

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium. Add leek and saute until tender but not browning, about 4 minutes. Add broccoli and garlic; cook 2 minutes. Add potatoes and water. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until potatoes are just tender when pierced with a knife, about 10-12 minutes.

Stir in the spinach, parsley, and peas. Remove pot from heat. Puree using a handheld immersion blender. (If you must use a regular blender, puree the soup very carefully in batches so that it does not splatter and burn you. Return the pureed soup to the hot pot.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in lemon juice and serve.


This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.