Dinner/ Recipes

spaghetti carbonara for one

I really feel like spaghetti carbonara gets a bad rap.  And, after making this simple meal for myself last night for the very time and experiencing it in all it’s egg and bacon glory, I feel the need to fix that.

Okay? Trust me on this.

Because adding bacon can never be a bad thing…and because if pasta with bacon and creamy, silky egg is wrong I never want to be right.

Bacon and eggs belong together. We know this! They go together like tubs and bubble bath, like road trips and red gummy bears. There’s just some things in life we don’t question, and bacon’s relationship with the egg is one of those things.

I had heard of spaghetti carbonara for quite some time now but never attempted it until last night. I think the thought of eating *nearly* raw egg creeped me out to the point of no return.

But then I made it. And I died.

When you make this, your house will smell like bacon and roasted garlic. You may attract cute neighbors. You may receive marriage proposals.

With bacon, anything is possible.

And I’d like to clear something up because you might have hesitated before making this dish for years just like me for the same reason.

The egg is not raw.

No, the egg cooks as soon as it hits the hot pasta and then you continue to cook the egg by whisking the pasta over the stove for a few minutes. The end result is each strand of spaghetti covered with a silky, creamy sauce that melts in your mouth, bringing utter bliss.

I made this for myself last night when Adam was out of town on business. Apparently I have a habit of cooking bacon and steak when he goes out of town.

And if you’re worried about your waistline, don’t! That’s what the whole wheat pasta is for! Using whole wheat pasta pretty much cancels the bacon, egg and cheese out completely.

Please make this. And then let’s talk.

Spaghetti Carbonara For One

Print this recipe!

2 oz (small handful)  dry spaghetti pasta

1 garlic clove, smashed and minced

1 strip bacon (good quality–preferably applewood smoked)

1 egg, slightly beaten

generous grating of fresh Parmesan cheese

Cook the bacon in a cast iron skillet. Remove and drain on paper towel before crumbling.

Add the minced garlic to the bacon grease and cook until fragrant (about thirty seconds).  Remove from heat.

Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water. Drain and immediately place back in the pot with the bacon, bacon grease and garlic. Place pot back on the stove over low heat, add the beaten egg and whisk continuously for three minutes, or until the egg cooks and thickens, creating a silky sauce over the noodles. Be careful not to stop whisking or the egg will scramble!

Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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  • Heather (Heather's Dish)
    January 27, 2011 at 5:02 am

    i am in BIG trouble with this one…and you’re right, with bacon anything is possible. yet another reason to love it!

    i am in love with this recipe…

  • Jessica @ How Sweet
    January 27, 2011 at 5:02 am

    I have been dying to try some carbonara for months but haven’t bit the bullet either! It may need to be a dinner this weekend. And as my bacon loving counterpart, I was totally expecting some chocolate + bacon from you!

  • Marie-JourneytoBodyZen
    January 27, 2011 at 5:03 am

    This looks so good! I love the combination of bacon and garlic. Great pictures too!

  • megan @ blackberries for jam
    January 27, 2011 at 5:03 am

    I suspect my husband may propose to me again if I make this dish. I may use it as leverage for that kindle I must have.

  • eliz@thesweetlife
    January 27, 2011 at 5:04 am

    Oh my goodness–she strikes again! Looks delish.

  • Lauren at KeepItSweet
    January 27, 2011 at 5:05 am

    I need to add this to my dinner rotation!

  • Jil @ Big City, Lil Kitchen
    January 27, 2011 at 5:05 am

    Ohh, this sounds wonderful.

  • Estela @ Weekly Bite
    January 27, 2011 at 5:05 am

    I always order this when we visit my favorite Italian restaurant. Its my most favorite dish. I love it so much I dare not attempt to make it because I’m afraid I’ll mess it up.

    Your recipe is changing my mind 🙂

  • lee
    January 27, 2011 at 5:06 am

    Yum. And only 6 Weight Watcher’s Points+. And I have bacon in my freezer. And will be making this for dinner tonight.

  • Kristin @ Iowa Girl Eats
    January 27, 2011 at 5:06 am

    I was *just* thinking about attempting this for the first time myself! I have a hunk of leftover local bacon in my fridge and was trying to think of genius ways of using it, but you’re right – I was scared of the raw egg! Going to give it a whirl now, thanks for giving me the guts! 😉

  • Blog is the New Black
    January 27, 2011 at 5:07 am

    AMAZING! I was always terrified of the raw egg!

  • Melissa
    January 27, 2011 at 5:08 am

    I will be making this, asap!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    January 27, 2011 at 5:10 am

    Hehe, I feel like “with bacon, anything is possible’ should be on a bumper sticker.. or an apron or something! Looks amazing as always Jenna! 🙂

    • jenna
      January 27, 2011 at 7:20 am

      If you ever find that , let me know. I need one!

  • Kristen @ That Hoosier Girl
    January 27, 2011 at 5:10 am

    I was always weirded out by the raw egg too! Lucky me though…I have all ingredients on hand as we speak. This more than makes up for the recipe not being a bacon brownie 🙂

  • Marie @ PeoniesnCupcakes
    January 27, 2011 at 5:18 am

    OMG Jenna! You must have read my mind! I adore Pasta Carbonara & I dream all the time of the one that I ate in Venice this past September that was the absolute best ever! I am sure yours is just as great & I can’t wait to try it!!!

  • Dorothy @ Belle of the Kitchen
    January 27, 2011 at 5:20 am

    I just saw Mark Bittman make spaghetti with an egg on the Today Show and, though it looked divine, it also looked overly rich and heavy for me. But you have just sold me! And that with bacon on top!

  • Tami
    January 27, 2011 at 5:21 am

    we had this for dinner last night!!!1

  • lee
    January 27, 2011 at 5:21 am

    Yum. And only 6 WW P+. So totally making this for dinner tonight.

  • mary (sisters running the kitchen)
    January 27, 2011 at 5:23 am

    hmmm Carbonara…. I have actually never had it!! shocking!

  • Bethany @Bridezilla Bakes
    January 27, 2011 at 5:26 am

    You promise the egg isn’t raw?! Promise?? Because you’re right, that’s exactly what has been stopping me….

    • jenna
      January 27, 2011 at 7:20 am

      promise!! 🙂

  • Stacy @ Every Little Thing
    January 27, 2011 at 5:28 am

    This is definitely next on our list of pasta dishes to try!

  • Angharad
    January 27, 2011 at 5:28 am

    This was a staple in my house growing up and one of the few ‘real meals’ I would make at university. Love how quick and easy it is. The whole egg thing never bothered me but I suppose once you make it you know its a million miles from raw!

  • BrightBakes
    January 27, 2011 at 5:30 am

    This is one of my favorite “quick and delicious” meals when I don’t have any other inspiration of what to make for supper….and then I always wonder: why don’t I make it more often? Really. It’s so simple and perfect tasting…
    cathy b.

  • RhodeyGirl
    January 27, 2011 at 5:32 am

    When I was reading through the first few lines I was thinking.. I hope she knows the egg isn’t actually raw!


    I’m happy you’ve done your research. This was the dinner we had when my mom had no real food in the house. We all loved it! I loved watching her mix the final components together as fast as possible so the egg would be evenly spread.

  • Amanda (Eating Up)
    January 27, 2011 at 5:32 am

    Pasta recipes are so simple sometimes! I love that.

  • Caitlin
    January 27, 2011 at 5:33 am

    I LOVE the “man-food” tag on this. Genius.

  • Amanda
    January 27, 2011 at 5:35 am

    I was just reading a recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara the other day and the egg thing creeped me out too! Thanks for sharing this, and easing my raw egg fears – it looks delicious.

  • Natalie
    January 27, 2011 at 5:40 am

    Wow, I had no idea Spaghetti Carbonara had *almost* raw egg in it! 😛 Speaking of weird bacon baking I have a friend that swears by bacon cupcakes. Haven’t tried them for obvious reasons……

  • Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day
    January 27, 2011 at 5:58 am

    I tried to make a raw vegan version of this dish once.. it was horrible! hahaha.. somtimes it’s best to leave well enough alone I think.

  • Cara Thielvoldt
    January 27, 2011 at 5:58 am

    Yet another meal I need to try, ASAP. hahaha. Love it.

  • Justeen @ Blissful Baking
    January 27, 2011 at 5:58 am

    Thanks for clearing that up that spaghetti carbonara does not include raw egg! I also had that misconception for years. This pasta looks to die for – and it’s just way too easy to throw together!

  • Alexia @ Dimple Snatcher
    January 27, 2011 at 5:59 am

    egg in pasta…interestingggg. but i can imagine the deliciousness since i love egg with cheese 🙂

  • Erin
    January 27, 2011 at 6:09 am

    I love spaghetti carbonara! I will definitely be trying this!

  • Ann
    January 27, 2011 at 6:11 am

    You have given me confidence to try carbonara again. I’ve been thinking about it since I saw Giada make a delicious looking version. The first time I tried, the recipe directed me to heat crushed red pepper in olive oil, and my pan was too hot, filling my kitchen with an eye-burning smoke. I think I should be able to successfully avoid that fate this time.

  • Christie {Abundant Self Care}
    January 27, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Oh, how you tempt me with this goodness.

  • Dee
    January 27, 2011 at 6:12 am

    oh my good good. must try this!

    I love eggs and eggs on pasta? well there’s nothing wrong with that! says the girl who puts egg in her ramen noodle soup! It’s amazing if I do say so myself. 😉

  • Heather
    January 27, 2011 at 6:19 am

    I love this dish, we make it at Christmas when my brother comes home – HE MAKES HIS OWN PANCETTA – amazing! I think I may be making this tonight….

    • jenna
      January 27, 2011 at 7:18 am

      can your brother come to my house for dinner?

      • Jaya
        January 27, 2011 at 8:35 pm

        That sounds amazing! Have you ever made it with guanciale? That’s amore.

  • Daisy
    January 27, 2011 at 6:39 am

    I ate this for the first time at a restaurant last year. and I felt the same love for it as you did. thanks for creating a recipe!!

  • Bethany @ More Fruit Please
    January 27, 2011 at 6:44 am

    I didn’t even know that spaghetti carbonara was made with an egg! It’s just been one of those pasta dishes that I’ve been brainwashed into thinking is too rich, so I’ve never tried it. This looks amazing though and will be going on my list of things to make right after your turkey-lentil meatloaf!

  • Beth @ DiningAndDishing
    January 27, 2011 at 6:47 am

    Now this is an adorable recipe! And proof that eating alone doesn’t mean eating a frozen dinner :).

  • Haleigh
    January 27, 2011 at 6:56 am

    This recipe looks delicious! I’m always a little intimidated to make pasta for some reason, but I may have to venture out to try this 🙂

  • Natalie @ Will Jog For Food
    January 27, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Carbonara is one of my favorite pasta dishes! I have never made it at home yet, but now i think i will. When it’s made right, it’s a little bit of heaven in your mouth.

  • Brenna [fabuleuxdestin]
    January 27, 2011 at 7:03 am

    I kind of think it’s better with regular spaghetti. Start with a big green salad! I love making this for big groups with French creme fraiche…so yummy!

    • jenna
      January 27, 2011 at 7:17 am

      creme fraiche would be delicious in this…I’ll have to do that next time!

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape
    January 27, 2011 at 7:10 am

    While I’m a little disappointed this isn’t a bacon cupcake (if anyone could make that work-you could!) this does look pretty fantastic!! And I’m glad to read that the egg isn’t raw because I’ve run across this several times and always pass it over because I didn’t want to eat a raw egg.

    • jenna
      January 27, 2011 at 7:17 am

      bacon cupcakes might have to come in the future! 😉

  • Krystina (Basil & Wine)
    January 27, 2011 at 7:13 am

    I would DEFINITELY recommend using pancetta in lieu of regular bacon.

  • M
    January 27, 2011 at 7:27 am

    Love ,love love these savoury posts Jenna!

    Super yum!

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman
    January 27, 2011 at 7:35 am

    I’ve avoided this because I always feared the egg. I had no idea it cooked. I’m much more willing to try this now.

  • Stephanie @ Living and Loving
    January 27, 2011 at 7:35 am

    If you swear the egg isn’t raw, i’ll give it a shot! I LOVE bacon so why not put it in pasta? I’m going to be giving this one a try soon!

  • amy@healthyhungryhappy.com
    January 27, 2011 at 7:36 am

    that looks so great! I love spaghetti carbonara!! basically anything with eggs and bacon….thanks for the recipe!

  • Camille
    January 27, 2011 at 7:53 am

    I was wondering how this could possibly be related to bacon and eggs! What a cool idea!

  • Macrae
    January 27, 2011 at 7:53 am

    You should make your own pasta. Seriously, once you do it you will never want to go back…and I know you love being covered in flour 🙂
    Also, if you ever have a chance to go to the pizza place Poila, jump on it! They have a Cabonara Pizza, out of this world!!

  • Maria
    January 27, 2011 at 8:02 am

    You said yesterday that this post wasn’t what I was thinking but…I was thinking carbonara! It’s like you read my mind! Maybe it’s because I made your lemon pound cake recipe last night, which was uh-mazing, by the way. And seeing as EVERYTHING I’ve ever tried from your site is uh-mazing, I have to try this too, especially because I have had a total hankering for this dish for DAYS.

  • rebecca lustig
    January 27, 2011 at 8:03 am

    though I wouldn’t eat the bacon, i’m fascinated by the addition of the egg and how it cooks through!! i’ll have to try it, for sure

  • Jess
    January 27, 2011 at 8:05 am

    i love spaghetti carbonara, and i actually have all the ingredients for this!

  • Lu @ Done Dieting
    January 27, 2011 at 8:26 am

    I’ve always been hesitant about the raw egg thing too. Glad to know that it doesn’t actually become a potential dinner, with a side of salmonella. This looks so good. I’ll definitely try it.

  • Mary (What's Cookin' with Mary)
    January 27, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Oh my heavans!!! This sounds SO wonderful. I created a shortcut for the next time that B is out of town so that I can partake in the creamy, eggy gloriousness!! Always looking for good ‘dinner for one’ type things for when he’s out on business. Thanks Jenna!

  • meagan
    January 27, 2011 at 8:36 am

    This is our go-to “no groceries” meal–because we always at least have one egg, one slice of bacon and some kind of pasta. Beautiful photos!

  • Natalia - a side of simple
    January 27, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Divinity. That’s the only word I can think of.

  • leslie
    January 27, 2011 at 8:39 am

    i don’t eat bacon (i’m a jew, it hurts my grandparents’ souls when i think about it :)), but i love the concept of whisking an egg into pasta. i’m going to try this with udon noodles – thanks for the idea!

  • Baking 'n' Books
    January 27, 2011 at 8:40 am

    You were right! This isn’t just bacon and eggs 🙂

  • Isaure
    January 27, 2011 at 8:42 am

    I used to live in Rome and I’d always order this at restaurants. If you ever find pancetta or thick-sliced bacon it works even better 🙂 and maybe a little parsley. Also, try beating the cheese in with the egg before adding it to the pasta- FANTASTIC!

  • kallie
    January 27, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Hi Jenna! I’ve visited your blog for over two years now, and I just want to say I really appreciate your take on life, exercise and food 🙂 I think life can be lived without chocolate, but its much better with it. I do however, have a question. I know that portion size is big for you, but how do you do it? When I like a dish/dessert especially I find myself going for thirds…thanks so much for sharing a balanced perspective, that includes God.

  • Moni'sMeals
    January 27, 2011 at 8:47 am

    This is perfect for my weekend coming up. I can sub the bacon with some veggie bacon and I am good to go. Thanks Jenna!

  • Chicago Cuisine Critique
    January 27, 2011 at 8:58 am

    This recipe seems a lot simpler than some of the carbonara ones I have made before. Can’t wait to try it out.

  • Laura @ prettylittlewords
    January 27, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Ohhhh I’ve made this almost the exact same way myself, and it’s absolutely DIVINE. I always go a little heavy on the parmesan though 😉

    I hope the rest of the world soon realizes that *real* spaghetti carbonara doesn’t have cream!!

  • Delphine from Antiquarian Cooks
    January 27, 2011 at 9:04 am

    You just made it possible for me to deal with the blizzard we had in NY (our 8th so far!). Can’t wait to go home and curl up with this.

  • Meryl
    January 27, 2011 at 9:09 am

    I have been a long time reader- but rarely comment. I just want to tell you that I am loving the new direction of the blog. You are hilarious and definitely found your niche. Kind of like the Pioneer Woman but at a different stage of life.. love it!

    Just thought I would send some encouragement your way- keep it up!

  • Carpensm @ A Life Without Ice Cream
    January 27, 2011 at 9:32 am

    OMG I have a whole lot of mouth watering going on after reading this post! That looks amazing and I think I’m going to have to try it! I wonder if it will work with turkey bacon? I’m just thinking, what will I do with a lb of bacon minus 1 strip 😛 I can’t be trusted with bacon around 😛

  • Anna (Munching Mamacita)
    January 27, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Oh man does this remind me of Italy. I’m not a bacon-eater (I know, I can feel the virtual slap coming through my screen as I type this) but this still looks absolutely divine. You’re recipes never cease to impress me!

  • Stephanie Rose
    January 27, 2011 at 10:30 am

    ooo I wanted to make this for so long, but was afraid. But you’ve managed to persuade me again. Bacon TONIGHT!

    • jenna
      January 27, 2011 at 10:51 am

      do ittttt

  • vanessa
    January 27, 2011 at 10:39 am

    If I had to choose, carbonara would be my last meal. All of my favorite foods: eggs, pasta, bacon. Love.

    • jenna
      January 27, 2011 at 10:51 am

      I’m with you, sister!

      • vanessa
        January 27, 2011 at 12:13 pm

        this is my personal favorite recipe for it — try it!

  • Lisa
    January 27, 2011 at 10:47 am

    That looks sooooo good!!! I’ve been craving spaghetti lately. Maybe instead of the red sauce and garlic bread I just make it with BACON…MMM

  • chelsey @ cleaneating chelsey
    January 27, 2011 at 10:49 am

    This recipe is anything BUT unhealthy! It looks great – even from a vegan perspective!

  • Emily @ Savory and Savage
    January 27, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I am really loving that you are posting recipes for one. I love cabonara and I am going to try out the recipe tomorrow when I pick up my weekly supply of local farmstand eggs!

  • Katie @ peacebeme
    January 27, 2011 at 10:54 am


    I love bacon in savory dishes. I am going to make this, might double it for two. Saving this one!

  • C.
    January 27, 2011 at 11:18 am

    oh holy yum!!!

    I am making this very, VERY soon.
    I wish a plate of it would show up on my desk here at work right now.

  • Lauren
    January 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Oh bacon, how I love thee! Yet another one of your recipes I must try out!

  • Karla
    January 27, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    I just moved to Italy for 5 months! Now all I want is to eat this! Perfect for my itty bitty kitchen!
    I recently read that pasta alla carbonara was created during WWII from bacon and egg rations of US soldiers in Italy. No idea if there’s any truth to that but I like the sound of it 🙂

  • betsy
    January 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    it’s even better with a splash of white wine or vermouth to the garlic/bacon mixture before it gets tossed with the pasta and egg!

  • Liz
    January 27, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I, too, have been turned off by the raw eggs. Apparently, the authentic way to make this IS with raw eggs mixed with parmesan cheese, all of which is then put on the spaghetti when the spaghetti has cooled enough so that the egg does not cook. This is the key to the creamiest sauce.

    But, I will take it your away ANY day over that. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea… the bacon part draws me in… just not the raw egg.

  • Lindsey
    January 27, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    That looks delish!!! I would love to make it for a dinner party we have coming up, but one of my girlfriends does NOT eat any kind of red meat. I know, I know… anyhow, is there any way to make this dish with chicken?

  • Cathy
    January 27, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I have no shame in enjoying a good carbonara every once in a while. And your version almost seems healthy compared to ours! We use a recipe from a Williams-Sonoma cookbook. Pancetta, parmesan, and romano cheese, among other things.
    And I agree, adding the egg at the end makes it sooo creamy and good.

  • Kayla
    January 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    I’m eating this right now. It is amazing! I never have all the ingredients for a recipe I see posted on a blog, but this time I did! So I seized the day and made this for dinner tonight. Delicious!

  • piffles
    January 27, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    awesome! will try this soon but aww, man … now you’ve got me cooking and all! (i love that cereal bar recipe, btw. making them again tonight!) =)

    i’ll probably need to increase my weekly mileage to rid my guilt!

  • Pam @ THC
    January 27, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    This is perfect, I can make this for my husband and I can have something else. Dairy and me just don’t get along 🙁

  • Sarah
    January 27, 2011 at 6:32 pm


  • Martha Lilian
    January 28, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Oh my gosh, this looks absolutely delectable. I’ve already filed it in my recipe box and I am sure that it will become a favorite!

  • Jessica
    January 28, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    I made this for myself this fall and it was amazing. However, I was worried it didn’t look right, but now that I’ve seen your picture, I feel better because mine looked like yours!

  • Dominique
    January 29, 2011 at 7:04 am

    Spaghetti carbonara is like my kryptonite. I can never to stick to an individual serving and my recipe involves bacon or pancetta (or if I’m feeling extra indulgent, both) plus a bit of heavy cream. It is definitely the stuff dreams are made of. The BF and I are going out for Italian tonight and if there’s carbonara on the menu, you know I’m ordering that!

  • Pam
    February 1, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Okay, I tried to make this TWICE and both times ended up with scrambled eggs! First I used a cast iron skillet but I think that held the heat too much, so then I tried a nonstick pan and made sure the heat was on low. I whisked like crazy and still, scrambled eggs! What am I doing wrong??

    • jenna
      February 1, 2011 at 5:13 pm

      oh no!! You need to take the pan OFF the heat while you add the eggs and then DON’T STOP WHISKING over low low heat until the eggs thicken. You may want to try not putting it back on the heat at all because it sounds like your pan/skillet is holding a ton of heat as is!

  • Pam
    February 2, 2011 at 5:24 am

    That must be it… I was just turning off the burner instead of taking the pan off. Okay, I’m gonna try again tonight. Third time is the charm!

    • jenna
      February 2, 2011 at 7:15 am

      oh gosh…let me know how it goes!!

  • Leah @ L4L
    February 4, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I’m totally making this today. And I can’t help it but I think I’m gonna have to double to bacon. More bacon never hurt anything, right?

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    […] when I was catching up on my reading at Jenna’s lovely blog – Eat, Live, Run and came across her post on this very dish, adapted to serve one.  The stars aligned and today turned out to be the perfect day to make carbonara for dinner.  I […]

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  • Jane
    March 5, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Can I just say this was great! I am in college (so quick and cheap is always good when it comes to food) but I made it with whole wheat pasta and turkey bacon (i added a little olive oil) to make it more healthy and throw in 1/2 cup of peas (I cooked them in them between the bacon and garlic) . This was great! I have been looking for a carbonara recipe!

  • Shan
    August 25, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    I just made this and oh my!!!! So delicious and creamy and EASY!!! ! I used penne pasta instead and added peas but wow!!!! Will be doing this dish more often. Thank you 🙂

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  • bodynsoil
    January 20, 2015 at 2:55 am

    I’ve never attempted this recipe before now, your version looks so quick and easy I don’t know why I haven’t. thanks for posting.

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  • FODMAP journey
    March 15, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Tried this recipe today and it was delicious! The eggs scrambled very slightly, but it was still creamy and extremely tasty. I am putting a slightly adapted version of your recipe (for those following a low FODMAP diet) on my blog site and will link out to yours as the original – thanks for the inspiration!

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  • Mary Frances
    April 8, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    I just made this and it was DELICIOUS! I paired it with a simple Greek salad made from cucumber, grape tomatoes, red onion, black olive, and feta cheese tossed with olive oil and lemon juice. I will definitely make this again!! Thanks for sharing!!!!