Category Archives: Salads

Weekly Eating – 10/16

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Hey y’all, for those who don’t know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (along with a whole host of other causes I’m sure). Though I agree with BitchesGetRiches on how empty the promises of “raising awareness” I do want y’all to be aware that:

  • It is estimated that in 2017, there will be at least 252,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer among women
  • 40,610 deaths will be caused by breast cancer
  • A self-exam is the best preventative thing you can do
  • Men can also get breast cancer
  • Mammograms aren’t always the best idea before 40
  • About 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their life
  • Costs of cancer care can easily be in the hundreds of thousands, even with great insurance
  • Diet and exercise can lower your risk of developing cancer

(Sources: Susan G Komen.org, breastcancer.org, cancer.org, MayoClinic.org, The CDC, USNews.com, Washington Post)

Ways you can help:

Save the boobies!

Monday:

Breakfast – I had made another big batch of smoothie in jars for this week, so I had a strawberry banana smoothie. It was also nice and pink!

Lunch – Salmon Couscous Salad: I brought enough for 3 days lunches

Dinner – Ham & Bean soup. I had some veggie soup leftover, plus some of a pork loin from the weekend. To use them both up and make it into something new I just chopped the pork, added a can of white beans, and simmered it together for about 20 minutes. With the rest of the leftover rolls, it was delicious and perfect!

Tuesday:

Breakfast – Smoothie in a jar

Lunch – Salmon Couscous Salad

Dinner – White cheddar shells with pork. I just could not even, Tues was a stressful day. So I said F it, I’m making boxed mac n cheese. Hubs was sweet and took over, and decided to tear up the remaining piece of pork loin and add it to the mac n cheese.

It turned out really really good actually! Since the mac n cheese was a Friday Freebie at Kroger and the pork was leftovers, this was basically a free meal. Not bad for not wanting to cook.

Snack – 2 Cookies & Green tea

Wednesday:

Breakfast – smootie in a jar

Lunch – Salmon couscous salad

Dinner – Ribs with potato wedges & roasted cabbage. I had planned to make stuffed cabbage casserole, but the face hubs made when he saw that on the meal plan board was so sad… since I was grocery shopping today, I decided I’d pick up whatever was on sale and surprise him. And boy, when I saw organic grass-fed ribs on sale for $5, you better believe I snatched that right up!

Even better, when I got to the checkout, the sale price rang up wrong, about $2 more than it should have been. I politely pointed it out to the lady, who checked the sticker and saw I was right. Turns out, if something rings up incorrectly and you catch it, you get that item for free! So we had FREE ORGANIC RIBS! Best day ever.

Of course, having ribs meant having bones leftover. And I’m not one to waste an opportunity, so of course I tossed the bones into the small crock pot overnight with some spices and odd and ends, so now I also have a quart of organic beef broth!

Snack – a coworker brought in pumpkin oatmeal bars, so I had one of those with some green tea. Delightful. I’m trying to cut back from 2 cups of coffee a day to only one, plus it is finally getting chilly around here, hence all the green tea this week.

Thursday:

Breakfast – (free) Raspberry Noosa & my homemade tropical granola. Noosa was another Kroger Friday Freebie, and I already know I love this brand, so I was pretty excited about it. I used half the container and added about 1/2 cup of granola for a perfect and tasty breakfast.

Lunch – Peanut butter and banana sandwich, (free) peach cottage cheese, mason jar salad. The cottage cheese was another Kroger Friday freebie (I really love these things) and it sounded interesting. I love cottage cheese, and I love peach yogurt. but I gotta say, not a fan of them mixed together. I could only handle about half, and then I threw the rest in the trash. I know, I’m sorry!

Dinner – Spaghetti with meatballs, garlic bread, and zucchini. I had a half loaf of garlic bread in the freezer, so I pulled that out and roasted it on a pan with some meatballs and zucchini while we went for a nice walk. When we got back I just boiled up some pasta, added sauce, and pulled the pan out of the oven.

Snack – granola bar

Friday:

Breakfast – mason jar smoothie

Lunch – Employee Appreciation Day picnic! We got free lunch of bbq pulled pork, baked beans, chicken tenders, pasta salad, and coleslaw. I haven’t had chicken tenders in ages, so that was delightful. There was live music and games and tons of free swag too! You know my favorite price is “free”.

They were pretty good gifts as well, multiple travel sized toiletries which will be perfect for upcoming trips, a full sized bottle of ibuprofen, a tshirt which will probably see many yoga workouts, a nice divided lunch box, and several nice pens. All in all a very good day, I felt quite appreciated.

Dinner – Stir Friday! I found 2 pork chops in the freezer, which I took out and thawed. I also got a marked down bag of chopped cauliflower rice for myself, and made regular brown rice in the rice cooker for hubs. With a cup of frozen mixed veggies, some garlic and soy sauce, it was a perfect simple meal.

The Weekend

This weekend I am super excited to have found a Triangle FIRE Meetup group! So I’ll be making some pasta salad to take to that, and hopefully learn a lot and make some new friends. We are also contemplating going to the NC State Fair, since Sunday is the last day to do so.

I need to make another batch of peanut butter granola bars since I’m running low, and maybe a few more mason jar salads for next week. If we find the energy, we might find a pumpkin patch or go apple picking. I also acquired a Singer sewing machine, which I need to look up the manual for and try to get it working.

Food Total: $55.13

I was very pleased with this week’s food shopping. I had an offer from Kroger where you get 200 bonus fuel points if you spend at least $50, but I didn’t want to go very far over that. Especially since last week I inventoried the freezers and have the rest of October already planned out. So hitting just over $50 was perfect, I got the bonus fuel points which will help keep gas costs down, but didn’t over-spend on my food budget.

Lessons Learned

It is SO GOOD to have a flexible meal plan, backup meals in the pantry, and knwo how to cook several simple meals. On days where work is stressful or you’re upset or whatever and you just cannot think about cooking something, having a pantry with options you can just make happen in 20 minutes or less is so critical. It saves us from the expense of ordering delivery or going out to get food, food that is probably not very healthy (because it would be either pizza or Firehouse brisket and cheddar subs, I guarantee).

How about you guys, did you have a great week or a learning week?

Weekly Eating – 10/2

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Monday:

Breakfast – raisin oatmeal

Lunch – Faux pho! We had tons of leftover shrimp fettuccini with broccoli and carrots from last week, so I decided to remix the leftovers. I put about a cup of pasta in a mason jar with some of the veg and shrimp, and added a little bit of purple cabbage, a tbsp of white miso paste and tsp of chicken bouillon powder.

Don’t you just adore this little lunch box?! Get yours: http://amzn.to/2y7wXms

When it was lunch time, I just added hot water from our keurig machine at work, and shook it up. Side note, make very sure your lid is tightened prior to shaking! 😉 This was SO GOOD, and was a great way to make leftovers fresh. I could easily add other toppings too like fresh basil, chopped green onion, crushed peanuts, etc.

Dinner – leftovers! Shrimp fettuccini, just as is with some garlic powder. Fortunately I love this stuff, so I’m not tired of it yet. I also went grocery shopping and processed a huge volume of fresh veg into bags for the freezer, a GIANT pot of cabbage soup, and a jar of purple cabbage to become sauerkraut.

Tuesday:

Breakfast – coconut almond yogurt

Lunch – The other half of the hamandegger burger from Cowfish last week, plus a salad in a jar. This is my version of balance.

Dinner – Since it was National Taco Day, obvs we had tacos! I mixed some chicken breasts with cranberry juice and homemade Pepper Jelly in a crock pot, plus some rice, pinto beans, lettuce, hot sauce and plain Greek yogurt

Wednesday:

Breakfast – KIND bar

Lunch – free pizza at a work meeting!

Dinner – Ham & Scalloped Potatoes (but with a surprise layer of green cabbage! Because I have a lot, it is good for you, and I like it. Hubs was less than thrilled but ate it, bless his heart.)

Snack – fresh veg & blender hummus

Thursday:

Breakfast – made a new batch of the Chocolate Peanut Butter granola bars! These will be appearing a lot the next few weeks.

Lunch – Cabbage & Veggie Soup: chock full of all kinds of veggies, tomato juice, and nutrition

Dinner – I harvested the last of my basil plant to make a big batch of blender pesto. I served it over the last of the massive vat of Shrimp Fettuccini with Carrots & Broccoli to make it feel totally new. With a side of warm garlic bread, it really hit the spot!

Plus I had an extra cup of pesto leftover, which I popped in the freezer for later. At some point during the winter, I can pull it out for a nice warm taste of summer.

Friday:

Breakfast – homemade chocolate PB pretzel bar

Lunch – Mason jar salad

Dinner – I splurged a bit and met a friend for wine and apps after work. We went to a place called Town Hall Grill, and it was so cute! We just had a nice glass of wine to unwind from the week and catch up a bit, before she headed to dinner with her in-laws and I headed home to make a beef stir fry.

I used a bag of veggies I froze from Monday, a chunk of steak from an on-sale roast, and the remainder of the cooked pasta from last week’s Shrimp Fettuccini. Combined with some soy sauce, jalapeno hot sauce, and YumYum Sauce, it was by far the most delicious, frugal Stir Friday yet!

Snack – someone at work brought in M&Ms and peanut butter crackers. I gave in and had some, and it was actually a pretty great combo of sweet and salty

The Weekend

This weekend is the first weekend in like a month 1/2 that we aren’t going somewhere! We are excited to relax, but also have a lot of adulting to do, and some fun house projects we plan to start on. We want to build a nice trellis walkway in the backyard, and line the trail from fence to door to garden with gravel.

Also, we will be building a raised bed garden, for perhaps some fall planting and definitely prep for next spring. Cleaning out the gutters, if the ladder + hubs is tall enough. And if I get very motivated, I want to make several corn tacos with my Maseca, and make black bean breakfast tacos to freeze for the coming weeks.

 

Total: $58.78

My goal is to keep this number under $100 all the time, and eventually get down to $75/week for food.

This week I was quite proud of myself! I found several bags of clearance produce, where they sell for 0.99 regardless of what is in the bag. I got 3 bell peppers, 6 zucchini, and 4 yellow squash for $3. Between that and the dirt-cheap cabbage heads, we had TONS of fresh produce for barely $5.

I also finally got the motivation to make another batch of granola bars, which I desperately love the taste of. They are the perfect grab-and-go breakfasts, for when I don’t have time to make smoothies in a jar ahead, or a hot egg something. Plus a surplus of leftovers, all combined to make this a very frugal food week.

Lessons Learned

As much as I love going place and having people over, sometimes you need a no-plans weekend. Adulting is hard, and if you don’t stay on top of all the random chores and to-dos, then you will end up having to pay others to do your work and maintenance.

And as much as I’d love to have someone just show up and suddenly the laundry is done, the grass is cut, the landscaping is immaculate, and there are no dust bunnies to be found, I would much rather watch my savings account balance creep up, and dividends pile up in my investment accounts.

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How about you guys, did you have a great week or a learning week?

Weekly Eating – 9/11 & 9/18

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Well, this post is a surprise double feature, because last weekend we had a wonderful family wedding in Boston, but then nature conspired to strand us there Sunday night. It’s not a good excuse for not posting, but it’s the one I’m using.  🙂

The past 2 weeks have been an interesting see-saw of super frugal food choices and then accidental or on purpose food splurges. I did some creative re-purposing of leftovers too. The meal plan was sort of made up on the fly, but overall I think it was a total win. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Monday 9/11:

Breakfast – Brown sugar cinnamon raisin oatmeal.

I put together a little mason jar which I brought into work. I just add 1/2 cup or so of the mixture, and use the Keurig for hot water to make it in my coffee mug. Now I have oatmeal waiting for me in my desk drawer whenever I want!

Lunch – Leftover hibachi from the weekend before. My dad had been in town, and we explored a little near Cary and found a cute Chinese restaurant in a plaza that had delish hibachi. Of course I only ate half, and the other half was lunch.

Dinner – Chicken stir fry (even though it’s not Friday!) to use up the rest of the shredded cooked chicken and some rice we had. I also found packs of pre-sliced veggies on sale for $1 so this was perfect.

Tuesday 9/12:

Breakfast – raisin oatmeal (see above)

Lunch – Veggie soup & edamame. This was the last of a bag of edamame from last week, plus all the leftover bits of veggies simmered with some lentils. It’s more filling than you may think, and nice on a cold and dreary day.

Dinner – Salmon salad! I finally had to just post the recipe so I can refer to it (when I use it every other week in the future).

Wednesday 9/13:

Breakfast – raisin oatmeal

Lunch – salmon salad

Dinner – pasta with pesto, using basil from the front yard. It is going to seed and about done, so I harvested the most I could and made a big batch of pesto.

Combined with some tortellini, and meatballs with 1/2 pound ground turkey I had in the fridge, it was super tasty. Never would have thought pesto + meatballs, but it works.

Snack – half a can of pineapple

Thursday 9/14:

Breakfast – raisin oatmeal

Lunch – salmon salad!

Dinner – had dinner at a friend’s house, where we had wings and an assortment of cheeses and bread. It was so good, and we found a few new cheeses we like! Also I made a blueberry pie to contribute.

Friday 9/15:

Breakfast – I had some leftover milk that was about to go bad, and we were leaving town, so I made some yogurt! It makes the milk last longer that way.

For breakfast, of course I had fresh yogurt and some tropical granola.

Lunch – you’ll never guess…. salmon salad! Yes, I actually did eat this 4 days in a row. And loved it every single time.

Dinner – we were en route to the wedding, so we had Five Guys in the airport. Not the healthiest, but it was the first time I’d had fast food in… several months. Their burgers are pretty darn good.

The Weekend

This weekend was yet another wedding, this time in Maine! It was right on the water, and the fog cleared for about 5 glorious hours. It was an absolutely beautiful ceremony, and a joy to watch this family I have lucked into and chosen to join expand to encompass the bride and her wonderful family too.

I met new people, re-connected with a few we hadn’t seen since our own wedding last year, and danced my face off! Doing the electric slide with several fabulous people more than triple my age was one of the many highlights of the weekend. Another highlight: eating lobster twice in one day!

We went to what claimed to have the “best lobster roll on the East Coast”, and not gonna lie it was pretty great. Their clam chowder was also amazing. And then at the wedding, we each got our own personal lobster! I know, it’s decadent. The perks of coastal living ya know? But then, they also have to deal with winter… so… #notworth

On Sunday they had a lovely brunch, with mimosas and 4 kinds of quiche. Everyone said their goodbyes and we headed into Boston. We carpooled with several people who all had staggered flight times. But we did get a few hours of wandering with my in-laws, since we had the latest scheduled flights. We got some tasty pizza at a place in Charlestown, and then wandered around Faneuil Hall.

Monday 9/18:

Breakfast – well, since we were stuck in Boston, and the hotel had a free breakfast, we obviously took advantage of that. English muffins with jelly, coffee and juice, and tiny yogurts, plus a bagel for the road.

Lunch – Now in Boston Logan International Airport for several hours, I splurged on a big hot meal. I ate about half of it, then stuck it in my carry on. I ate the rest when I got hungry again on the plane.

Dinner – I finally got home exhausted around 7pm, so I basically just unpacked a bit, got the pups, and went straight to bed…

It was so nice to see these faces again  🙂

Tuesday 9/19:

Breakfast – brown sugar raisin oatmeal!

Lunch – peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I was too tired from traveling to bother making, like, real food. I didn’t even get a picture

Dinner – I went out to a new sushi place with a friend called RockinRolls. It is a conveyor belt style, where you just grab the things you want as they go by! It was very cool, even if the nigiri were a little small. They made up for it in choices. And the miso soup dispenser was absolutely fascinating.

As a HUGE fan of sushi and also not paying a lot, a $12 all-you-can-eat option that’s only 10 minutes from my house is the best/worst thing ever. I will definitely be back.

Wednesday 9/20:

Breakfast – oatmeal! Yup, this is a boring breakfast week. Sorry not sorry, this stuff costs like 10 cents per serving.

Lunch – black beans & rice with salsa. I made a package of minute rice in the microwave and added a half can of black beans, topped with some salsa from a food swap. The other half I saved for tomorrow. This is becoming a staple work lunch.

Dinner – I used the rest of the pesto from last week and a can of tomatoes to make a tomato-basil soup, and some grilled cheese. I love simple meals, and even moreso when I’m just cooking for myself. Hubs was on a work trip in CT this week.

Snack – a handful of pretzels and some gummy bears… yeah I don’t know, it’s just what I had at my desk 🙂

Thursday 9/21:

Breakfast – more oatmeal

Lunch – Black beans & rice with salsa. This is just so oddly fulfilling to me. Pretty sure this will be a frequent occurrence in my life.

Dinner – I took the pups over to a friend’s house, and we had a vegetarian and a vegan present. I introduced them all to lentils, and we had veggie tacos. I’m not sure what kind of “meat” they had but it was really good!

Snack – There was a retirement party at work today, and I snagged a cup full of raw veggies to snack on all afternoon. Love free food that is also healthy!

Friday 9/22:

Breakfast – oatmeal

Lunch – ravioli from my last food swap (I put it in the freezer for an occasion like now), with some frozen veggies, the last of the pesto-soup and some leftover feta. It was actually really good! Hooray for frugal wins.

Dinner – We kicked off the weekend with dinner at The Pit, a very well-known BBQ joint in downtown Durham. We got the Big Boy to split, it’s all of their meats in one tray! The biscuits were AMAZING, and the ribs were probably my favorite. Or maybe the brisket.

Personally, I’d skip the grilled chicken, and the sauces are all Carolina style (very vinegary and not thick) so we weren’t blown away impressed, but if that’s your thing then this is the place for you!

The Weekend

This weekend, my aunt and grandmother are in town, visiting from Ohio! I’m so excited, it will be the first time either of them have been down to see our new house (the first one I OWN) and all the things I’m falling in love with in Durham and Chapel Hill.

We have plans to stuff ourselves at the all you can eat Rockin Rolls sushi, check out the 5th Annual Bull City Burgers & Brewery Oktoberfest, and the 10th Annual Abundance NC Pepper Festival.  It should be a good time! And I may need to buy new pants in a size up afterwards…

Total: $55 (or $515, depending what you count)

My goal is to keep this number under $100 all the time, and eventually get down to $75/week for food.

Well… we were really good about eating from the freezer/pantry the past 2 weeks while at home. But the $55 is from various airport foods while traveling. If you add in the extra things (hotel, uber rides, tickets to festivals, etc). then the true cost of travel wrinkles is much higher. I’m going to stick with the actual food costs though.

Lessons Learned

Always be prepared! I am already obsessive about taking snacks with me everywhere, but evidently I should double my efforts. Because you just never know.

I also learned that eating super frugal meals doesn’t really bother me much at all. I’m perfectly happy with my rice and beans, PB&J, and grilled cheese, especially when hubs is away for work. I just don’t have the motivation to cook fancy things for myself alone.

This is a great thing, financially! The lower I can get the cost per meal, the lower our overall grocery bill each week / month / year. And then we have more wiggle room for the occasional travel issues or to treat visitor from out of town. That’s a win in my book!

 

How about you guys, did you have a great week or a learning week?

Salmon & Couscous Salad

The first time I had this salad was on a family vacation, and my sister-in-law and her friend were cooking a vegetarian dinner for everyone. She has been a vegetarian for going on 20 years now, which is an awe-inspiring lifestyle, for me. I’m not sure where the original recipe came from, but it involved corn and tomatoes, pine nuts and salmon, shaved parmesan and arugula. It sounded pretty good.

Then we sat down to eat. And it was presented beautifully, layered in a rainbow across a large serving tray.

And then I took a bite.

And I was in love.

That’s the story of my obsession with my favorite salad of all time. Since then I have made several permutations of this salad, for a dinner party, for hubs and myself, and just for me to enjoy at work. It is super simple to put together, and can be an easy thing to take to work to eat for several days. You can eat it cold or room temp, so there is no microwave fishy smell (which I’m sure my co-workers appreciate).

And it is virtually endlessly customizable. I’ve had it with pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, macademia nuts, or none. I’ve tried craisins, raisins, dates, and prunes. I’ve used couscous, quinoa, or no grains. And nearly every salad dressing on the planet will go with this well, as well as having it naked! (As in, no dressing, though do whatever makes you happy. At your house, not at work.)

If you’ve been keeping up with my Weekly Eating series, you know this is frequently a dish I make in large amounts so that I can have leftovers for several days. I’ve begun taking enough for 3-4 days’ worth to work, and just keeping it in the refrigerator and taking out one serving at a time. It is super healthy, quite filling, and pretty affordable if you choose ingredients seasonally and/or on sale.

If you’ve been looking for a recipe to impress at a dinner party, a meal that is inclusive for vegetarians (just offer extra protein options like quinoa and other toppings like beans/nuts), something light and fresh and healthy, or a make-ahead nearly-no-prep work lunch option, look no further!

Ingredients (per salad):

  • 2-3 ounces cooked salmon
  • 2-3 cups salad (spinach, romaine, mixed greens, arugula)
  • 1/2 cup cooked couscous (or barley, rice, quinoa)
  • Sprinkle of craisins or raisins or other dried fruit
  • Sprinkle of nuts (walnuts work best but any will work)
  • Sprinkle of cheese (parmesan, feta, goat…)
  • Optional other toppings: tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, peppers, carrots, beans, anything you can think of!
  • Dressing of choice

Step 1: Cook your salmon however you like, I usually pan-fry them with a spritz of coconut oil or bake them in the oven. Your choice to leave them as a fillet or shred them. You could also use canned, drained salmon here, or sub in cooked chicken, steak, or other fish.

Step 2: Cook your couscous or other grain. I like pearled couscous because it has a pleasant, sort-of-chewy texture that goes well with the overall texture of the salad. Quinoa is also good here.

Step 3: For visual effect, lay down a bed of greens and then layer each separate ingredient in a line across it. To just dig in, toss it all in a bowl, topping as you see fit. Enjoy!

 

 

Caprese Salad

 

Isn’t it amazing how the simplest of things can tend to be the most delicious?  Sometimes we get wrapped up in crazy new flavors, seasonings, toppings, ingredients list as long as your arm. But it truly is quality that makes all the difference.  When produce is seasonal, fresh, local, and picked in its prime, there is nothing better. And nothing says “summer” quite like a fresh Caprese salad. Soft, creamy mozzarella cheese, tangy fresh basil, and plump juicy heirloom tomatoes fresh from the vine. OPA!

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High-quality cheese is a delight, while 99 cent slices of pasteurized processed cheese like product is hardly worth wasting the calories and preserving your insides. And you can taste the difference between a true fresh pressed, high quality olive oil and a knock off lower quality oil or mixture. It should taste grassy and strong on its own, maybe tickle the back of your throat a little. That is the anti oxidants working. It is worth investing in some! A little bit goes a long way.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large fresh tomato
  • 1 large ball fresh mozarella cheese
  • Big handful fresh basil leaves
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Optional: Sea salt to taste

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Step 1: Slice the tomato and mozzarella into slices, about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick. Layer them alternating on a plate with fresh basil leaves. Drizzle olive oil over it all, and sprinkle on some sea salt. That’s it.

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You can also make this salad on skewers to serve as an appetizer or snack, or use the tiny mozzarella balls and grape tomatoes for an adorable itty bitty version! These flavors also lend themselves very well to bruschetta or pasta dishes.

 

What is your favorite summer dish? Do you have other recipes with the Caprese flavors you’d like to share? Comment below!

Cranberry Cashew Chicken Salad

 

Ever get really tired of a certain kind of lunch?  Like say you always take a roast beef sandwich with cheddar and mustard.  Or a tuna salad pita pocket.  Or a certain type or brand of soup.  When you eat the same thing several days in a row, you can get bored easily.  But then you also want more ‘grown-up’ options sometimes than just peanut butter and jelly, or maybe you don’t have any leftovers to choose from at the moment.

This is a super simple recipe for a great tasting and healthy chicken salad sandwich mix.  It is designed to make just enough for one large sandwich or wrap, but you can easily increase the quantities to feed a family of four or a luncheon buffet for fifty.  It has a tiny bit of sweetness, which helps kids love it too, and a nice bit of crunch to make it interesting.  No one needs to know that you snuck in an extra serving of fruits & veggies.

For maximum healthy, use plain Greek yogurt to bind it, and serve as a lettuce wrap or on whole grain bread or tortilla with extra veggie toppings.  This is a great way to use up extra chicken meat from a whole bird, and is very frugal and versatile.  Try this the next time you need lunchtime inspiration, a quick after-school snack, or a buzz-worthy picnic dish.

Ingredients for Cranberry Cashew chicken salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp dried cranberry
  • 1/2 tbsp cashews or peanuts
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise or Miracle Whip or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp mustard

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Step 1: Use meat from a cooked chicken (such as rotisserie) to save time, or poach 1 boneless skinless chicken breast in water or broth until no longer pink.  Shred with two forks, and use about 1/2 cup per serving you intend to make.

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Step 2: In a bowl, mix all ingredients together well.  This tastes even better if you let it sit overnight in the refrigerator, and will keep up to a week.  Feel free to add in your own flavorings like lemon or lime juice, use raisins instead of cranberries, or add spinach rather than celery.  If you have nut allergies, omit the cashews/peanuts, and if you still want crunch add a tbsp large breadcrumbs, fried onions, or Chinese noodles.

 

 

Cranberry Cashew Chicken Salad

Cranberry Cashew Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp dried cranberry
  • 1/2 tbsp cashews or peanuts
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise or Miracle Whip or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp mustard

Instructions

  1. Use meat from a cooked chicken (such as rotisserie) to save time, or poach 1 boneless skinless chicken breast in water or broth until no longer pink. Shred with two forks, and use about 1/2 cup per serving you intend to make.
  2. In a bowl, mix all ingredients together well. This tastes even better if you let it sit overnight in the refrigerator, and will keep up to a week.
  3. Feel free to add in your own flavorings like lemon or lime juice, use raisins instead of cranberries, or add spinach rather than celery. If you have nut allergies, omit the cashews/peanuts, and if you still want crunch add a tbsp large breadcrumbs, fried onions, or Chinese noodles.
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Mandarin-Cherry Tuna Salad

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For a quick, healthy lunch, tuna salad is always a go-to.  Pretty much all you need is a can or pouch of tuna and some lemon juice, but there are infinite ways you can spruce it up.
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For example:
  • Add a chopped hard boiled egg
  • Toss in diced celery
  • Shred up some carrots
  • Add chunks of apple
  • Spoon in a few tbsp of relish
  • Hot sauce!

And many more options, as creative as your mind can dream up.  This particular recipe came about because the baby oranges were on sale, and we needed to use some up before they dried out and became inedible.  Oranges go great with tuna, but I wanted just a little bit more to round out the flavor.  Dried cherries were just the thing.  Feel free to use raisins or cranberries if that is what you have.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can or pouch of tuna, drained
  • 1 small orange (or 1/2 can mandarin orange slices)
  • 1 tbsp dried cherries (or cranberries or raisins)
  • 1 tbsp mayo or miracle whip
  • 1 tsp lemon juice or cider vinegar
  • 1-2 cups chopped greens, or a wrap, or 2 slices of bread
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Step 1: Open and drain a can of tuna, mix in a bowl with the mayo and lemon juice.  Add in the cherries.

Step 2: Either wrap it up, make it into a sandwich, or serve it over a salad, topped with the orange slices.  Season to taste and enjoy!

Napa Cabbage & Roasted Beet Slaw


Happy Valentine’s Day dear readers!

Hopefully you have someone or many someones close to you to celebrate with this weekend.  Valentine’s Day of course causes some polarizing feelings, based on what your relationship status is it seems.  But there are more types of love than romantic love.  Try taking today to celebrate all your loved ones, including your family, your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers, and even random strangers.  Everyone could use a hug or a smile or a kind word.

For Valentine’s Day recipes to impress, try:

If you want to try impressing your loved one(s) with a home-cooked meal but feel daunted, try searching my “less than 5” section for recipes that take less than 5 minutes, less than 5 ingredients, or less than 5 dollars to make.

This recipe is a light, easy slaw using ingredients that are around in February: cabbage, carrots, and beets.  Dried cherries or cranberries and honey sweeten it up, while apple cider vinegar & lemon juice gives it pucker power.  And the beets give it a lovely pink color!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 large cabbage
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 medium beets
  • 1 tbsp dried cherries or cranberries
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Step 1: Cut the tops off the beets, place in an oven-safe sprayed pan and roast at 350 for 35-40 minutes, until tender when pricked with a fork.  Dice or shred the cabbage into small strips.  You will need about 3-4 cups, but can halve or double the recipe as needed.

Step 2: Julienne the carrots or shred them. (Julienne means essentially cut into very thin strips like matchsticks).  When the beets are soft, let cool enough to handle and then cut them into thin strips as well.
Step 3: In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrots, beets, and dried cherries or cranberries.

Step 4: In a smaller bowl, combine the oil, honey, lemon, and vinegar and whisk until well combined.

Step 5: Pour the liquid over the vegetables in the bowl.  Add some salt & pepper to taste.

Step 6: Mix everything well to coat, and refrigerator for 1 hour up to 2 weeks. 

The liquid mixed with the beets turns a nice red-pink color.  This slaw is super healthy, and tastes great on its own or slathered onto sandwiches or hot dogs.  You can also pickle it by adding slightly more vinegar to cover in a bowl or jar, and leaving it out at room temperature for 4-7 days.  Then put on a lid and put it in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

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Have a healthy, happy Valentine’s Day!

Spring Microgreens Salad with Beet Vinaigrette

 

As spring slowly begins to win the seasonal fight with winter, tender crops begin to appear in the local markets.  Radishes, greens and lettuces, root crops, winter squash, carrots, onion and potatoes both old and new along with greenhouse grown herbs, eggs and meats and dairy, and mushrooms abound.  Take advantage of fast-growing baby greens and all the chlorophyll and concentrated nutrients they offer with lots of fresh spring salads!

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Basically any meal starts off right with a heap of greens of any kind, topped with various seeds, nuts, vegetables, or proteins of your choice.  Choose darker or colorful varieties for the most nutrition, including kale, spinach, sprouts, arugula or rocket, and watercress.  You can also whip up your own salad dressing at home in the time it takes to mix & shake, and it will be far tastier, healthier, and cheaper than a plastic bottle full of chemicals.

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All  you need is a mason jar, an oil, an acidic (vinegar, lemon juice) and flavorings (fresh or dried herbs/garlic/pepper).  This recipe is for a beet juice vinaigrette, which has tons of delicious flavor, liver-cleansing benefits, and as a bonus is a lovely pink color!  I’ll bet you topping any salad with this will automatically make you smile.  For the beet juice, you can either roast and juice fresh beets, or you can use the juice from canned beets, no judgment here.

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Ingredients (makes about 2 cups salad dressing):

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup beet juice
  • 1 heaping tsp miso

 

Step 1: Put all ingredients into a mason jar or other jar with a lid, and shake it up until emulsified.  The miso may take a bit to dissolve, but it’s worth it.  It adds a salty depth of flavor and a healthy boost of probiotics.  Refrigerate for up to 1 month.

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To make this lovely salad yourself:

  • 2 cups fresh mixed baby greens
  • 1/2 can sliced beets
  • Handful of almonds
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts
  • 1 tbsp dried cranberries
  • 3-4 tbsp beet salad dressing

Place the greens on a large plate.  Add the beet slices (save juice for the dressing), artichoke hearts, nuts, seeds, and berries.  Shake up your vinaigrette and pour over all.  Smile, and enjoy!

Feel free to experiment with your salad dressing.  Try using lemon juice or lime juice, add chopped fresh herbs like mint, parsley, or cilantro, add crushed fresh garlic or peppercorns, use any kind of vinegar or oil you want.  It is so quick and easy, you are bound to find recipes you enjoy, and may never go back to store-bought dressing again!

 

Have you made your own dressings?  What is your favorite recipe?

Sweet & Sour Brussels Sprouts Salad

 

Ahhh the tiny but mighty Brussels sprout.  The divider of nations.  The cruciferous ruiner of relationships.  You get the idea.

Brussels sprouts tend to be a very polarizing vegetable.  For as many veggie lovers that swear by the carmelized candy that is roasted sprouts, there are another 1-2 sad souls who have been turned off by less-than-ideal preparations of boiled, rubbery, or wilty sprouts and swear off these delicate nutrition-packed powerhouses.

Brussels sprouts grow on stalks up to three feet tall, and each bud resembles a miniature cabbage, with a diameter of 1/2 -2 inches.  Typically sold in grocery stores removed from the stalk, they can be found in farmers markets and some specialty stores still attached.  They also are offered canned or frozen, though I cannot vouch for their nutrient content or flavor in such preparations.

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Brussels sprouts are members of the family which includes broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, known as Brassicas.  These vegetables are lauded in nutrition circles for their hefty doses of vitamins A, C, and K, folate, and anti-inflammatory and potentially cancer-preventing compounds.

Taken from the website “world’s healthiest foods” (whfoods.com), Brussels sprouts have a whole host of healthful benefits:

“What’s New and Beneficial About Brussels Sprouts

  • Brussels sprouts can provide you with some special cholesterol-lowering benefits if you will use a steaming method when cooking them. The fiber-related components in Brussels sprouts do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they’ve been steamed. When this binding process takes place, it’s easier for bile acids to be excreted, and the result is a lowering of your cholesterol levels. Raw Brussels sprouts still have cholesterol-lowering ability — just not as much as steamed Brussels sprouts.
  • Brussels sprouts may have unique health benefits in the area of DNA protection. A recent study has shown improved stability of DNA inside of our white blood cells after daily consumption of Brussels sprouts in the amount of 1.25 cups. Interestingly, it’s the ability of certain compounds in Brussels sprouts to block the activity of sulphotransferase enzymes that researchers believe to be responsible for these DNA-protective benefits.
  • For total glucosinolate content, Brussels sprouts are now known to top the list of commonly eaten cruciferous vegetables. Their total glucosinolate content has been shown to be greater than the amount found in mustard greens, turnip greens, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, or broccoli. In Germany, Brussels sprouts account for more glucosinolate intake than any other food except broccoli. Glucosinolates are important phytonutrients for our health because they are the chemical starting points for a variety of cancer-protective substances. All cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates and have great health benefits for this reason. But it’s recent research that’s made us realize how especially valuable Brussels sprouts are in this regard.
  • The cancer protection we get from Brussels sprouts is largely related to four specific glucosinolates found in this cruciferous vegetable: glucoraphanin, glucobrassicin, sinigrin, and gluconasturtiian. Research has shown that Brussels sprouts offer these cancer-preventive components in special combination.
  • Brussels sprouts have been used to determine the potential impact of cruciferous vegetables on thyroid function. In a recent study, 5 ounces of Brussels sprouts were consumed on a daily basis for 4 consecutive weeks by a small group of healthy adults and not found to have an unwanted impact on their thyroid function. Although follow-up studies are needed, this study puts at least one large stamp of approval on Brussels sprouts as a food that can provide fantastic health benefits without putting the thyroid gland at risk.”  READ MORE HERE

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For those who are wary of Brussels sprouts, from past experience or a lack of experience, try this salad to introduce them.  Finely shaved sprouts are mixed with naturally sweet fruit (apples and raisins) and coated in a mixture of sweet and tangy dressing to produce a side salad, or even main dish, of healthy intent sneakily hiding under the guise of almost-dessert.  Everyone can feel good about eating this.  Try it at your next picnic, potluck, as a Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish, or just because it’s Tuesday night.

Brussels sprouts salad ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, shredded or diced very finely
  • 1 apple, diced very thin
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp raisins

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Step 1: Rinse your sprouts, and either use a shredder or a sharp knife to finely dice them, and put in a large bowl.

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Step 2: In a separate bowl, mix the lemon juice, honey, mustard, vinegar and olive oil.  Use as high quality an oil as you are able.

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Step 3: Very finely dice and slice the apple.  The best & quickest way is to rinse the apple, then slice into fourths.  Cut out the middle core & seeds and discard.  Then lay each quarter on a side, and thinly slice.  Slice each of those in half and you should have very thin, bite-sized slivers of apple.

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Step 4: Mix the shredded sprouts, apple slivers, and raisins in a bowl.  Pour on the liquid dressing mixture, and toss well to coat.  You can serve hot, cold, or room temperature.  You can serve immediately, or let it sit in the refrigerator up to three days for the flavors to mix.

 

Sweet & Sour Brussels Sprouts Salad

Sweet & Sour Brussels Sprouts Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, shredded or diced very finely
  • 1 apple, diced very thin
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp raisins

Instructions

  1. Rinse your sprouts, and either use a shredded or a sharp knife to finely dice them, and put in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the lemon juice, honey, mustard, vinegar and olive oil. Use as high quality an oil as you are able.
  3. Very finely dice and slice the apple. The best & quickest way is to rinse the apple, then slice into fourths. Cut out the middle core & seeds and discard. Then lay each quarter on a side, and thinly slice. Slice each of those in half and you should have very thin, bite-sized slivers of apple.
  4. Mix the shredded sprouts, apple slivers, and raisins in a bowl. Pour on the liquid dressing mixture, and toss well to coat. You can serve hot, cold, or room temperature. You can serve immediately, or let it sit in the refrigerator up to three days for the flavors to mix.
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