Sweet and Tangy Pasta Salad is Potluck Heaven

Are you a pasta salad kind of gal (or guy)? The boys in my house love this Sweet & Tangy Pasta Salad! It’s incredibly easy and a perfect dish to share at potlucks or cookouts.

We use gluten-free pasta because of my son’s wheat allergy. This recipe can be altered based on your available ingredients. I’ve add chickpeas to make it more of a “main dish” but we usually use it as a side dish.

Sweet and Tangy Gluten-Free Pasta Salad is picnic perfect

Sweet & Tangy Pasta Salad


  • 1 8 oz package pasta (we use gluten-free spirals)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves
  • 1/2 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 recipe Sweet & Tangy Salad Dressing


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, set a time so you don’t over cook. You want an al dente pasta.
  2. While pasta is cooking prepare all of the veggies and salad dressing.
  3. When pasta is done drain it well and run it under cool water, drain again.
  4. Mix all veggies and salad dressing into the pasta.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


This pasta is best chilled but can tolerate being at room temperature for a little while. It would also be a good addition to a lunch box with an ice pack.

Sweet and Tangy Pasta Salad is perfect for potlucks! Its allergy-friendly and really easy to make.

This was perfect with our Vegan Barbecue Sandwiches. I definitely recommend taking this to a potluck, it will be a hit and it’s very allergy-friendly. You can also try my Potato Salad and Portobello Burgers.

Can Buying a Cookbook Save a Life?

We are taking a break from our weekly Meal Plan series for a very special boy. Please read the story and learn how you can make a difference. 

Well, buying a cookbook probably won’t save someone’s life but it can go a long way to help Gabriel get the lifesaving help he needs.

Meet Gabriel.



He is a precious 2 year-old boy who has multiple life threatening food allergies. It’s really important that you know his story.

I “met” Stephanie, Gabriel’s mom in an online group for moms who have kids with food allergies. I was immediately drawn to her story. In just the last two weeks he has been in the ER 3 times due to food allergies. Their doctors want them to get into an intensive food allergy program at Nation Jewish Hospital in Denver, CO but their insurance wants them to exhaust all other options. The next step in a 8+ day stay at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN beginning next week.

Over 20 Anaphylactic Reactions

Here is the thing, Gabriel can’t really wait. Read what Stephanie said on the Help Save Gabriel Facebook Page

Gabriel turned 2 years old on May 21. He is hilarious, busy as can be and an absolute joy. Gabe had a lot of health issues from birth but we never expected this. At 4 months he was dx with asthma, and at 16 months our real journey began. We traveled to Fargo for an appointment about the asthma and ended it with a diagnosis of “off the charts” peanut, tree nut & dairy allergies. Since that time he has lost the ability to eat almost any food. He has had over 20 anaphylactic reactions in his short life…most of them in the past 7 months. These reactions threaten his life and require us to use his epi pen. With his last reaction he is now scared to eat and is losing weight. We are in the process of putting him on an elemental formula to get him the nutrition he needs. He has suspected EoE, an allergic condition of the GI tract, malabsorption, FPIES (food protein induced entercolitis), asthma, and possibly mast cell disease on top of the IgE allergies.

I have a son with multiple food allergies. His allergies affect every decision we make; where we go, what we do, what we buy. Food allergies are all-consuming but they are also very different for each family. We have to be very cautious but we aren’t even close to the situation Gabriel and his family face every day, every meal.


“I’m watching food steal my little boy”

In addition to environmental allergies, airborne allergies to peanuts and tree nuts and contact allergies to dairy there are over 30 foods that Gabriel is allergic to. How many foods does your 2 year old eat regularly?

Stephanie says,

Our situation is very critical. I am watching food steal my little boy. He is tired most of the time now, and once fearless becoming scared and clingy. I want to give my child the best chance he has, just like any mom. Feeding a child should not be scary or life threatening but for mine it is.

save gabe book cover 3

Here is how you can help!

1. Follow the Help Save Gabriel Facebook page to learn about opportunities to help. There are several of us Food Allergy Mom’s who are getting together to help raise money. You’ll find auctions, Pamper Chef, books, shirts and more.

2. Visit their Go Fund Me Page and give. You can give anonymously, and they are so grateful for any amount.

3. You can buy this new cookbook I’ve made available as a fundraiser for only $2.99. It’s free of the top 8 allergens and vegan. All proceeds will be donated to Gabriel’s family.  Read more about the Recipe Collection here. (It is a PDF download.)

4. Share this story! Most people don’t give a second thought to food allergies. Some people have mild food allergies but for others they are life and death.

So what do you think? Are you still with me? Is your heart-broken too? Please consider helping in any way you can, even offering words on encouragement in the comments for Stephanie and a prayer for their family makes a huge difference.

Secret Ingredient Vegan BBQ Sandwich

Shhh…I have a secret.

Any guesses?

Spaghetti Squash is the secret ingredient in my BBQ Sandwich. I know, you thought I was going to use jack fruit like lots of other bloggers. While I hear it is delicious I’ve never seen it or tried it. I’m all about easy to find, inexpensive ingredients. Of course if I ever see jack fruit in the store I’ll be sure to try it too!

Vegan BBQ Sandwich...You'll never guess the secret ingredient!

We have tried, and I mean really tried to enjoy Spaghetti Squash. I recently took a poll on Facebook to find out how everyone else makes it and it seemed like most people saute theirs butter or oil. While neither of those appeal to me I decided to try a little saute myself, except I’m using Barbecue Sauce.

Vegan BBQ Sandwich...You'll never guess the secret ingredient

Vegan BBQ Sandwich



  1. Prepare Spaghetti Squash as mentioned HERE.
  2. Carefully remove squash from the Crock Pot and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Use a fork to rake out the spaghetti squash and put it in a small skillet.
  4. Pour you favorite barbecue sauce over the squash and mix well.
  5. All the sauce to mix well with the squash then scoop it onto buns.


These BBQ Sandwiches are perfect for a pot luck. You could even return the BBQ Spaghetti Squash to the Crock Pot for transport and to keep it warm. Serve leftover on top of baked potatoes. We enjoyed these sandwiches with pasta salad. I’ll share that recipe soon!

While Spaghetti Squash will never be our family’s favorite thing to eat this recipe is certainly our favorite way to eat it so far. My 3 year old loved it the most. He finished his in record time.

Do you like Spaghetti Squash? 

If you are taking this to a pot luck I recommend taking Potato Salad! Follow me on Pinterest for more ideas!

The Easiest Way to Cook Spaghetti Squash

If you like Spaghetti Squash I may be your new best friend! Why? Because I’m about to tell you the EASIEST way to cook Spaghetti Squash. Want more good news…you don’t need the oven.

I kid you not! The easiest way to cook spaghetti squash is in the Crock-Pot!

Before I discovered how easy it was to cook Spaghetti Squash in the Crock Pot I hated to cook it. For one thing, it is always really hard for me to cut the squash in half length-wise and every recipe I’d ever seen told me to do it that way. Second, I don’t like to use the oven unless it’s winter because it heats up my house. Third, every recipe told me to use oil and that is a no-no in my house.

The Easiest Way to Make Spaghetti Squash

The Spaghetti Squash doesn’t really NEED to be sautéed (it’s already cooked) but in an informal poll I did on Facebook everyone who LOVED Spaghetti Squash sautéed it after roasting.

I’ll admit I like it better that way too. Come back soon because I’m going to share my FAVORITE Spaghetti Squash recipe and you won’t believe what it is!

I’ve got a few more easy Crock Pot Recipes! Try my Easy Mexican Rice and Bean Casserole or my Cheezy Crock Pot Brown Rice and Broccoli Casserole. They are both family and reader favorites.

Flavoring with Lemon Instead of Salt

A special thanks to Sunkist for sponsoring today’s discussion.

Do you keep a salt shaker on your table? We used to keep salt on the table until I realized my family would add salt to their food before even tasting it. Salt is a dangerous habit in America. A few years ago we cut out oil and decreased our salt consumption. We still use small amounts of salt but not near as much as before.

A few things helped us reduce our salt intake…

  1. We added other flavors and seasonings like Sunkist Lemons instead of salt.
  2. We allowed time for our palate to adjust.
  3. We bought low-sodium substitutes of some of our favorite products.

We missed salt the most in crunchy snacks. The following recipe uses Lemon instead of salt. The salt is not missed at all.

Decrease Salt by seasoning with Sunkist Lemon's

Lemon-Pepper Roasted Chickpeas


  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 can)
  • 1 Sunkist Lemon (juice and zest, about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper (optional)


  1. Drain and rinse chickpeas and gently towel dry them.
  2. In a medium bowl mix remaining ingredients and stir well.
  3. Add chickpeas and allow them to marinate while oven preheats to 400 degrees.
  4. Stir regularly.
  5. Pour chickpeas into a baking pan (with sides, not a cookie sheet) covered with parchment paper.
  6. Bake for about 1 hour.

I recommend you bake for 25 minutes then stir well. Bake for an additional 25 minutes and stir again. Then bake for 10 minutes, stir chickpeas then bake for 5 minutes between stirs until chickpeas are golden brown and crisp. DO NOT BURN.


These Lemon-Pepper Chickpeas are a fun snack or a great addition on a salad. No one will guess it’s salt-free.

Decrease Salt by seasoning with lemon juice

For more inspiration on using lemon instead of salt take a look at this Sunkist S’alternative info graphic.

Flavoring with Lemon instead of saltSunkist lemons are grown in California and Arizona and available all year round. In addition to helping boost flavor and reduce sodium intake, lemons can be used in a number of ways – from household cleaning to healthy living. I always keep a bowl of lemons on my counter. I use them for cleaning, in drinks and especially in food.
season with lemon

Please take a minute and visit Sunkist to discover recipes and more information about sodium and sodium alternatives.

Which tips are your favorite?

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