Just as cold months have us clambering for thick, rich foods, warmer months are all about salads and grilling. Our bodies instinctually know we don’t need as much fat when it’s warm, but we do need more hydration, and the season is ripe for beautiful fruits and vegetables.
Below is an easy salad packed with flavor and health benefits.
Grapefruit is loaded with water, fiber, vitamin C and lycopene. It helps you feel full, slim down, fight aging cells and build immunity.
Avocados are great for eyes, skin, hair, heart, good cholesterol, fighting cravings for bad fats, absorbing other nutrients…they’re even good for unborn babies.
Walnuts help with weight management, sleep, hair, heart disease, skin, preventing cancer, diabetes and dementia, and fighting off stress.
Basil has anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium.
Put them all together, and you get a glow-inducing meal that tastes as amazing as it is healthy.
Grapefruit, avocado salad with chicken
- 1 package of mixed greens
- 1 bunch of basil
- 1 Grapefruit
- 1 Avocado
- 1 handful of walnuts
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tsp dijon
- 1 tsp jelly (I used peach, but the fruit won’t be strong enough to alter the flavor, so use what you have)
- Salt & pepper
- Torn/cut grilled or rotisserie chicken
Wash all greens (if needed) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Chop up grapefruit and avocado into chunks. Mix oil, vinegar, dijon and jelly. Toast walnuts in skillet or oven. Put all ingredients, including chicken, in a large bowl, toss with dressing and serve.
As a spin-off to my slow-cooker turkey breast soup blog, I want to share a recent recipe I’ve been having fun with.
Like the soup recipe, I still coat the defrosted turkey breast in pesto and cook it in the slow-cooker. What’s different on this one is that I throw in whatever vegetables I have on hand (I’ve done onion and different squash varietals, red peppers, carrots, etc.), add in just enough broth to help their flavors mingle and keep them from sticking, then, I serve them on top of fresh kale. The heat from the meat and veggies wilts the kale just enough.
I add a little Israeli couscous for my son since he needs the additional carbs, but we don’t.
Using spinach or kale as a rice or pasta substitute is a great, easy way to completely revamp the nutritional profile of your meal. Between the fiber and the overall nutritional makeup of dark, leafy greens, you’ll stay full longer, and avoid unnecessary starches. You don’t have to completely change your diet to eat more cleanly; just make easy swaps like this one.
This meal is great all-around because it’s ready whenever we finish our whirlwind day and are ready to eat, and it’s family friendly. Eating well as a rule is easier than trying out a fad-diet. It’s just too hard to make a special, healthy meal for one person. You need options, like this one, that everyone can enjoy. Eating well should taste really good.
Pie for dinner? Heck, yeah! We’re all adults here, which means we can make rash meal decisions, such as deciding to have a milkshake for dinner. (Yep, I’ve done it.)
Honestly though, this is not that kind of pie. The crust only makes you think you’re cheating.
When I made this for dinner last night, it was definitely a last-minute, what do we have to make a meal, kind of dish, but it turned out delicious. I used a leftover half of a cooked spaghetti squash, which was great because it cut down on cooking time, and the squash was already cooled so I didn’t have to worry about it cooking the egg prematurely. In case you’re wondering, I used the other half of the squash with an artichoke and lemon sauce from Williams Sonoma the previous night.
My husband returned from a trip yesterday and I originally thought we would eat out, but we were both tired from golf, travel and pregnancy (respectively), so I decided to scrounge around the kitchen so we could relax at home. My pie pans haven’t arrived yet from our last duty station, but a cake pan worked just fine. Suffice it to say, this dish is easy, can be made last-minute, and can be built from a wide variety of ingredients. As long as you have two refrigerated pie crusts, one egg, some cheese, and a small selection of vegetables, you can create this pie.
Just as I did, get playful with this meal and use what you have. Maybe you have different kinds of meat, vegetables or cheeses on hand. Perhaps you want to make it vegetarian. As long as you use some cheese and an egg for binding, and make sure to drain excess grease and liquid (avoid a soggy crust) before building your pie, you can make it your own.
This is one of those recipes that looks and tastes impressive, but is as easy as making a casserole. It’s also a great way to sneak in a boatload of veggies. I did not add salt and pepper. It simply didn’t require it.
To really dress up the plate, you could serve a mixed green salad on the side. It would be lovely for a brunch, lunch or dinner.
- 2 refrigerated pie crusts (bring to room temp before unfolding)
- 2 slices of bacon (chopped)
- 1 chicken sausage (chopped) (I used one with feta and spinach in it)
- 1 can of tomatoes with basil, garlic, oregano, no salt added (drained)
- 1/2 tsp fennel seed
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cooked spaghetti squash (cool and de-seeded)
- 1/2 cup sliced zucchini
- 1/2 cup sliced/chopped sweet onion
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar
- 1/2 cup grated/shredded parmesan
- 1 egg
Preheat oven to 350F.
Set out pie crusts to bring to room temperature. Do not grease pie pan.
Cook meat in a skillet. Add tomatoes, fennel seed and red pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Drain excess grease and liquid. Let cool a bit so it won’t cook the egg when mixed in.
In a medium bowl, combine squash (I used a fork and knife cross-cut to help the spaghetti mix more easily), zucchini, onion, cheese and egg. Add in meat and tomato mixture. Pour mixture into first pie crust, press, top with second crust, cut slits in top, bake at 350F for 50 minutes.
This recipe combines sweet-heat with some cool lime yogurt and peppery greens. It’s pretty much a party in your mouth. Although, unlike some parties, this one won’t leave you with a hangover. Low fat, low carb, high fiber, high protein, lots of vitamins and even some calcium means you can feel good enjoying every bite.
Jerk pineapple pork chops with black beans, lime yogurt and arugula
- 1 can pineapple chunks in 100% juice
- 1 can crushed pineapple in 100% juice
- 2 stalks of scallions chopped
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1.5 tsp allspice
- 1/2 de-seeded habanero / 1 de-seeded jalapeno / 1/2 tsp cayenne (choose your heat)
- 4 bone in pork chops
- 1 tsp each salt and pepper
- 1 can black beans
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 tsp agave nectar or honey
- 1 small container of plain yogurt
- bag/bunch of arugula
- 1 Tbsp fennel seed
- 3 garlic cloves – minced
- zest of one orange (save the insides for your jello)
- 1 1/2 Tbsps chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 pork loin (the one I used was just under 2 lbs)
- 2 cans of northern beans
- juice of one lemon
- Pulp from orange you zested for the pork (I used blood orange, but they’re more easy to come by in Italy)
- 1 package of sugar-free lemon jello mix
- 1/2 cup of coconut milk
- 1.5 cups of cold water
My mother and I just finished eating our way from Naples, Italy up into Paris, France over the course of the past two weeks. Although I loved every bite of my chocolate filled croissants, crepes, pizza, pasta, foie gras, escargot, creme brulee, etc., I was itching to get back into my kitchen by the end of it.
Any neighboring passengers on my flight home could have seen me napping with a dreamy grin on my face. Perhaps they thought I was dreaming of romance and unicorns, but I was actually imagining what I would cook first – that and getting to see and feed my husband.
I show love by feeding people, I really love my husband, and he and I both love curry dishes with coconut milk. While soaring high above the clouds, I decided I would make our favorite curry dish recipe to welcome us both back home.
As with most of our favorite dishes (hello, pancakes), the first time was not the charm for curry. I tried using the little melting blocks you can get at the store, but they have a ridiculous amount of sodium in them, so I moved on to playing around mixing different flavors and seasoning blends. Try; try again, and eventually you taste what you know wins the ribbon.
The recipe below uses chicken broth and coconut milk rather than oil or butter. It’s low in sodium with a little spice to kick up your metabolism, and it incorporates fruit, veggies and protein, so it will fill you up and hold you for a long time.
I like a bit of sweet mixed in with my savory dishes. The apple, basil and coconut milk give an aromatic sweetness to the entire dish, while the golden raisins give a sweet surprise when you bite into them.
I mentioned the dish having spice, but it is not hot. Other ingredients cool it down, so I would only call it “warm.” If you aren’t into spice, omit the creole seasoning. Although the madras curry powder is labeled as being hot, it is not the spicy culprit in this dish.
The trip with my mom was priceless, but it’s good to be home.
Just as the flavors of this dish intermingle, we intermingle, and it all combines so that even Goldilocks would call it “just right.”
Apple, Coconut Curry
Serves 2 football players, or 3 normal adults – to get to 4 servings, add another chicken breast and up everything else by 1/4
- 3/4 cup of chicken broth
- 2 Chicken breasts – cut into strips/diced/cubed, depending on your preference
- 1 diced apple
- 1/4 cup of golden raisins
- 1/2 cup of garbanzo beans
- Couple handfuls of spinach (can also use about 1/3 bag of frozen)
- 1 tsp of creole seasoning (Tony Chachere’s)
- 1 Tbsp of dried basil (fresh would be even better)
- 1 tsp of ginger
- 1 tsp of cumin
- 2 tsps of regular curry powder
- 2 Tbsps of hot madras curry powder
- 1/2 can coconut milk
Partially cook the chicken in the broth, then add everything except for the coconut milk. Stir frequently over medium heat until there is almost no liquid remaining. Add the coconut milk and serve over quinoa or brown rice.
Buon appetito; Bon appetit; and welcome home.
You know what most people are missing in there diets? Vegetables. (You were hoping I’d say pizza or chocolate, right?)
Somehow, vegetables get a bad wrap when we’re kids, and then we have to learn to love them as we get older. In my opinion, if you don’t think you like most vegetables, you just haven’t had them a way you like them.
Think of vegetables the same way you think of chicken. You don’t like chicken every way it’s served, but you probably like it at least one way.
The great thing about vegetables is that you can pretty much stuff your face with them and, assuming they aren’t fried or doused in butter, your body will only benefit.
From the recipe below, you might conclude that I’m into the Atkins diet, but you would be very wrong.
Our adult bodies don’t need as much starch as our bodies did when we were kids because we aren’t in building-mode anymore; however, carbohydrates are an amazing energy source and should not be completely omitted from your diet.
My approach to carbohydrates is to give them a supporting role rather than a leading role in meals. If I’m having a sandwich, I move all the insides over to one half of the bread. If I’m making pasta, I use a handle full of pasta to a pot full of meat and veggies. Using less noodles isn’t an option in a dish like lasagna because they are part of it’s structure; but, eggplant, zucchini or even portabello mushrooms are sturdy enough to make a delicious, healthy substitute for noodles.
Aside from the positive nutrition exchange going from noodles to veggies, the switch out also adds flavor and will fill you up faster. Noodles on their own don’t have much flavor, and your body doesn’t have to spend much time processing them during digestion. Vegetables, on the other hand, are full of fiber and flavor on their own.
Below is the exact recipe I used to make this dish last night. I tend to cook based on what’s on hand as opposed to planning out all my recipes. I never know what’s going to look fresh before I head to the store, so I just stock up on meat, vegetables and cheese, and then go from there. The kitchen is like my chemistry lab, but I get to wear cute aprons instead of a lab coat and goggles.
Variations for this recipe include, but are not limited to:
- doing a quick pan-fry with your eggplant slices instead of roasting them (be sure to blot, and use minimal breadcrumbs/flour – better yet, use almond flour);
- using zucchini/portabellos instead of/in addition to eggplant;
- adding other vegetables (mushrooms or carrots would be yummy);
- using mozzarella on top instead of or in addition to the parmesan;
- using another low-cal, low-sugar type of marinara – I only had 1/2 cup of prepared sauce in my fridge, so I had to add the other ingredients;
- omitting the meat.
Eggplant (Noodleless) Lasagna
- 2 large eggplants
- 8 oz ground meat
- 1/2 cup tomato-basil / marinara sauce
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 3 egg whites
- 1 cup parmesan
- 1 Tbsp. dried Italian herbs
- 1 cup frozen spinach (partially defrosted)
- 2 tsp minced garlic
Preheat oven to 400/204.
Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices. Heavily spray a cookie sheet (you might need more than one) with olive oil. Spread your eggplant along the pan(s) and spray the top side with olive oil as well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 mins, flipping the eggplant halfway through the time. I spray the eggplant rather than tossing it in oil because eggplant is very absorbent and can soak up more oil than you want instead of being coated evenly when tossing.
Cook your ground meat, and add it to the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir and cook to simmering.
Combine ricotta, cottage cheese, 1/2 cup of grated parmesan, 3 egg whites, herbs, spinach and garlic.
Spray your lasagna dish and layer as follows: Half the tomato sauce mixture, layer of eggplant, ricotta mixture, eggplant, sauce, remaining cheese. If you have enough eggplant, you can do more layers and just ration the other mixtures accordingly.
Bake for 30 mins, or until the sauce is bubbly and the top cheese is a bit toasty.
I’ve been on a quinoa kick recently, and last night I tested it as a risotto substitute. I’m happy to say it was a very easy success.
I was able to get my hands on a butternut squash last week, so I used that and some arugula in the risotto. All told, we had a healthy serving of veggies, protein, calcium, fiber and a little healthy starch and fat.
The sweetness of the squash and the pepperiness of the arugula paired very well, and the parmesan added creamy deliciousness without fighting the other flavors. I added a little salt and pepper during cooking, but it may not even need it. The ingredients came together to take care of all of it perfectly.
We served the risotto next to a couple lean ribeyes. My husband might be the huge Jimmy Buffett fan of the house, but I’m the one with the carnivorous habits. Last night was great though because he really loved his steak, too. I’ve switched up my marinade, and he mentioned how much he liked it, and how it didn’t need any A1 sauce, multiple times.
We were both proud members of the clean plate club last night.
For the steak marinade, I mixed equal parts good balsamic vinegar and worcestershire sauce with a little dijon mustard, a small squeeze of agave nectar (could also use honey) and garlic pepper. I only had about 3 hours to marinate them, but it proved to be enough time for all the flavors to meld.
This recipe serves 4 as a side, or 2 as a vegetarian meal.
Butternut Squash Quinoa Risotto
- 2.5 cups cubed butternut squash
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1/3 cup diced onion
- 1 cup dry,uncooked quinoa
- 1 large handful / half a bag of fresh arugula
- 2.5 cups chicken broth
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Cube and steam squash until it is almost mashable.
In a large skillet, combine oil, garlic, onion and quinoa over low-medium heat. Stir continuously for about 4 minutes, or until you can smell the quinoa starting to toast. Add squash and arugula, along with about 3 turns each of your salt and pepper grinders. Turn the heat up to medium, and continue stirring for another 2 minutes. Add half of your broth, and cook until all of it is absorbed. Heat the remaining broth and add 1 cup more of it to the dish. Stir regularly, and begin mashing up the squash with your wooden stirring spoon. Leave just enough unmashed to give it a little texture. Once all of the broth is absorbed, turn the heat back down to low, add the cheese and stir. Finally, add the remaining (hot) 1/4 cup of broth and stir until the risotto is creamy. Serve hot, and enjoy!