Holiday Food Planning

Guest Blogger: Bert Arens


Stir Crazy Café and I had the privilege of being part of Giordana Cycling's “pop-up shop” on East Broad Street in Richmond, VA for the UCI Worlds Bike Race. Cycling apparel combined with a coffee bar made for an exciting hot spot as the world beat the streets in the heart of RVA.

It was through this relationship that I was invited to write a blog on “Italian food”, offering up some tasty recipes and tips as we enter the quickly approaching holiday season.


Comfort with Less Calories 

When we think of Italian food, meatballs and spaghetti may come to mind, along with garlic bread, red wine and antipasti salad. Then add on the cheesecake oh my! Can you say carb overload? After riding 160 miles one can afford the carb comfort, yet for others, they may be looking for something a bit lighter. There is more to Italian than pasta and bread for sure!

As a food blogger at, it is my intention to provide healthy food ideas that are simple to make and are minimal in cost. 

Tomatoes are a staple in Italian food. Here are some ideas to consider:


One of my favorites is the Caprese Salad made of fresh heirloom tomatoes, home-made Pesto, garden grown Basil and Buffalo Mozzarella. This could be a meal in itself aside from a salad or appetizer.

This pairs well with a Tuscan Lemon Bean spread on a crostini, topped with arugula, balsamic and olive oil. Add on some roasted red pepper for color if you so choose.


Tradition with a Twist 

Ever feel tired and stuffed after a Lasagna dinner? Try Vegetable Lasagna. This recipe is fantastic with or without the pasta. A generous portion will leave you feeling satisfied without the “overly full” effect.


When Mother made Chicken Parmesan, my brother and I were anxious for dinner. Now that we choose vegetarian style, Eggplant Parmesan is a perfect replacement for the poultry.


Friday night Pizza anyone? With Cauliflower Pizza Dough, just say YES! Using cauliflower dough removes the sugary carbs and adds in the vitamins!


Spaghetti Squash is also a wonderful low calorie vegetable that serves as a spaghetti replacement. It’s easy to cook and tastes great! Just roast it and top with sauce then serve. If you purchase a large squash it will go a long way and you are sure to have leftovers. Looking for a little variety with your squash? Try it Mexican style. YUM!  


You just received an invitation to a party and were asked to “bring a dish”. A Tomato Tart is a wonderful compliment to a meal, good hot or even room temperature.  


Vegetarian? Vegan? Artichoke hearts and garden tomatoes rolled in zucchini ribbons drizzled with fresh minced garlic and olive oil are a winner! Add salt and pepper, slow roast them, and boom...Easy as riding a bike!


Espresso, now that’s Italian! When you visit Richmond, please come visit the Café. Enjoy a, macchiato, a latte or even a mocha latte, hot or iced. And we even make Italian Wedding Soup in the winter time! 


In closing, impacting people's lives is humbling and I am grateful for the opportunity to bring healthy food options and hope you will put them to use in your own kitchen, just as you have been a supporter of Giordana Cycling in your fitness life.

Arrivederci for now!


Click here for more on guest blogger, Bert "Bertalini" Arens.






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