Super Green Walnut Pesto

Happy Thursday everyone! For me, it’s my Friday, and I am so darn excited to paint a little in our house tomorrow. We decided on… do I dare say it… a shade of gray… that will hopefully warm up some of our rooms and highlight some of our furniture and accents. I swear I do like other colors besides white and gray! (sometimes)

Two nights ago I was driving home from work and couldn’t for the life of my think of what I wanted for dinner. My mom and I were talking about pizza, and somehow pizza turned into pasta, and pasta turned into thinking of a new sauce that I could make from scratch. I decided to make pesto, but a not so traditional pesto, that I could secretly hide some extra green in it. Have a mentioned before how hard it is to get Jeff to eat vegetables?

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This pesto was BOMB. Literally, I was eating it with a spoon. Jeff liked it also, and I know it was truly enjoyable for him because he ate the leftovers the next day. Can I tell you just how much it makes my heart swoon when I come home and find leftover containers EMPTY in the kitchen sink. That is how I truly know when one of my recipes is a success!

I called this a “super green” pesto because it truly is really, really green. I don’t mean clean, green… although that is pretty appropriate as well…. but it is literally really green and bright in color. This pesto is so unbelievably easy and delicious, you can bet I will make it again ASAP.

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I hope you give this yummy little recipe a try. Don’t be afraid to play around with it or substitute different greens. Let me know if you find a substitution that you love! I’m sure others would like to know as well ๐Ÿ™‚

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Super Green Walnut Pesto

  • Servings: approx. 1 3/4 cup total volume
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ~3 cups raw greens (I used ~1 cup kale, 2 cups spinach)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup walnuts
  • pinch of kosher seal salt
  • pinch of back pepper
  • 3 med size garlic cloves OR 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup water

Directions

It a food processor, pulse greens with olive oil. Once there is a little more room in the food processor, add walnuts, salt, pepper, and garlic cloves. Pulse or grind on low until garlic is fully chopped and incorporated.

Scrape down the sides of the container and add ~1/3 cup of water. Continue to pulse or blend until the pesto is the consistency you prefer. If you like it to me a little chunky, you can just stir in the water to help thin it our instead of pulsing.

Serve over grilled meats, warm pasta, or with warm bread. Enjoy!

 

 


Kale & Quinoa Salad

You guys remember my yummy broccoli salad? Well, this is just a glorified version with a little twist.

Quinoa has always been an interesting grain to me. When I first tried it, I could not get over the grainy taste and wasn’t quite sure if I liked it hot, cold, or not at all. After trying many different recipes, I finally figured out ways to incorporate this high fiber, protein filled grain into my diet.

This recipe is very, very similar to my broccoli salad. You will see it pictured below with broccoli, but I originally made it with sweet potatoes (which I actually preferred!). Sweet potatoes add an interesting and yummy twist to a fun salad that is already packed with flavor. The recipe I provide will include both options.

IMG_2151Walnuts add a slight crunch, while dried cranberries add a touch of sweetness with each bite. Could a salad pack more flavor and nutrient dense foods into one bowl?

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Aside from all of the delicious flavors, this is a super simple recipe to make ahead and pack for lunches throughout the week. Kale is a firm and crisp vegetable that holds its shape and crunch for much longer than spinach, arugula, or other commonly used salad greens.

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I hope you give this easy, quick, and flavorful recipe a try! While I typically don’t measure ingredients when making salads, I tried to provide the most accurate measurements I could for the recipe. As always, let me know what you think!

Kale & Quinoa Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (dry) tricolor quinoa
  • 1 1/2 large sweet potatoes OR 1 1/2 cups raw, chopped broccoli
  • 3-4 cups fresh kale
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3-1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • dressing of choice
  • olive oil spray
  • seasonings: pink salt, black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Dice sweet potatoes into small, bite sized pieces. Spread evenly on a cookie tray and spray with olive olive spray (or spray of choice). Season with black pepper and pink himalayan salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until sweet potatoes are golden brown.

While the potatoes are roasting, bring 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of quinoa to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Let quinoa cook for about 15-20 minutes or until all water is evaporated. You may need to add another 1/4-1/2 cup of water as quinoa cooks. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

Wash and finely chop kale (if using broccoli instead of sweet potato, do the same at this time). Put into a large bowl and top with warm quinoa to help wilt the kale. Top with walnuts, dried cranberries, and feta cheese once quinoa has cooled to prevent the cheese from melting.

Keep in the refrigerator and portion out before serving. Top with dressing of choice. My favorite dressings for this salad include Champagne Pear Vinaigrette with Gorgonzola from Trader Joe’s and Organic Pear Vinaigrette from Sprouts.


Chickpea Peanut Butter Protein Cookie

Happy hump day everyone! Boy was today actually a huge hump day. After a busy day at work, all I really wanted to do was go for a fast-paced quick run. Nothing feels better to me when things are a little hectic and stressful than tuning out and falling into a repetitive stride.

You know what else can really help on hump day? Cooking a delicious and guilt-free fun dessert. Ginormous cookie anyone? If you add a little peanut butter and chocolate to just about anything I am satisfied, so I started to think of how I could transform my original Chickpea Cookie Pie recipe. This is already one of my favs, so why not amp it up a bit?

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This recipe is fairly fast to make and lasts for about 5-7 days in the refrigerator. I think it tastes just as good cold as it does warm and is perfect for a quick after-work snack or a yummy after-dinner dessert. If you like peanut butter and chocolate, this is definitely a dessert for you!

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Chickpea Peanut Butter Protein Cookie

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 banana
  • ยผ c coconut flour (have not tried with other flours, but coconut tends to absorb more water so less is typically needed)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • ยผ cup PB (unsalted)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ยผ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (have not tried with other milks)
  • 1 heaping Tbsp veg vanilla protein powder (have not tried with regular whey protein)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ยฝ tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 3/4 dark chocolate bar (I used sea-salt, almond dark chocolate)

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, addย all ingredients except for the chocolate. Pulse to help break apart the chickpeas, then blend until smooth. Stop a few times to scrap the sides of the processor to assure all pieces of chickpea are well blended and incorporated.

Once smooth, lightly grease a springform pan and evenly distribute the batter. Roughly break apart the chocolate bar (may use chocolate morsels or chips instead). Add the chocolate on top of batter and lightly press down. Top with a small pinch of salt.

Bake for ~35 minutes. The top should start to be a light golden brown. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving!

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Chickpea & Sweet Potato Veggie Bowl

Hi everyone! If you follow me on Instagram (@cquinn_rd) you probably saw me make this dish about a week ago! I figured I would actually do a recipe post so you have step by step instructions on how to make one of my FAVORITE lunches. This is one of the easiest lunches to prep for my work week and is so, so yummy! Packed with veggies and a little added protein from the chickpeas, this is the perfect balanced lunch to satisfy my tummy.

I’m not a huge fan of kale, but sautรฉing the kale in a little olive oil helps break down the leaves and make it softer and a little charred. I use typically use olive oil if I am choosing an oil to cook with, but you can choose what you like best. If I’m not using olive oil, my other go-to is canola!

If you tend to eat smaller portions, this recipe will yield 4 servings. If you need a little more bulk to my meal, this can be portioned into 3 servings instead.

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Chickpea and Sweet Potato Veggie Bowl

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy with some prep involved
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Ingredients

  • 1 full head of kale (about 4 cups raw)
  • 1, 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1-2 extra large sweet potatoes (about 2.5 cups chopped)
  • 1.5 cups frozen broccoli
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil (or oil of choice)
  • 1/2 large yellow onion
  • sweet potato seasonings: garlic powder, black pepper, paprika
  • chickpea seasonings: garlic powder, black pepper, paprika, salt
  • kale and onion seasonings: garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, red pepper flake
  • 1 Tbsp shredded moz cheese per serving (4 Tbsp total)
  • sriracha to taste (may sub other toppings such as salsa, or pico)

Directions

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Chop the sweet potatoes into small, hash brown size pieces. On a greased baking sheet, spread out the potatoes before adding a little extra spray or oil on top and seasoning them. Season to taste. I didn’t provide exact measurements because I honestly don’t typically measure seasonings unless its absolutely necessary. If you like a lot of seasoning, add a lot of seasoning!

Do the same thing with the chickpeas, just be sure you drain and rinse them first. The sweet potatoes will roast for about 30 minutes, the chickpeas about 15 minutes. Once both have finished, take them out and let them cool (unless you are eating this right away and not meal prepping!).

In a large skillet, sautรฉ the chopped kale and onions in olive oil. You can add a little water to help the kale wilt. If you choose to do this, don’t add too much water or it will splatter due to mixing with the oil. Season with garlic powder, onion powder, a pinch (and I mean a pinch!) of red pepper flakes, and a little black pepper. After the kale is wilted, add the frozen broccoli and allow it to thaw and cook through (about 15-20 minutes total for this whole process).

Layer the kale mixture with a hefty scoop of sweet potato and spoonful of chickpeas. Top with a sprinkle of shredded mozzarella cheese and a little sriracha.

Other toppings that I commonly use are sliced avocado or a good chunky salsa! This meal is super easy to prep ahead and tastes good throughout the week, just don’t forget to re-heat it! Roasted chickpeas are also a great snack to try if you are looking for something a little different. You can season them with a variety of seasonings making them versatile and an easy snack to change up when you want to try something new!

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Looking Forward to Summer … Opening Up the Recipe Box!

Ok friends, please don’t think I’m loony but I actually kind of miss summer. Yes, 120 is a lot to swallow sometimes BUT lots of pool time and lost of fresh summer fruits and veg always get my recipe wheels turning. Today’s Thursday so I’m going to pull out some of my old recipes to re-share in hopes to get your summer food senses flowing! Of course, these recipes are great for any other time of the year as well and can maybe help brighten up some cold and gloomy days for my east-coasters (sorry, I’m not sorry I left!).

Quick side note! I have noticed recently that I have been having a lot of bloating, cramping, and discomfort when I eat a lot of grains (you have no idea how upsetting that is for me!!). Unfortunately, Celiac disease runs on my dad’s side of the family, so this has me a little nervous of what is to come in the future. Both my aunt and grandmother were diagnosed with Celiac disease later in life and have since adapted to eating gluten free. Because of these reasons, you may notice me start to play around with a few gluten-free recipes just to test the waters! If anyone has any good recipes to try — please send them my way!

Now, on to those recipes! The first one I’m going to share is one of my absolute favoritesย because it includes a “sauce” made with one of my favorite foods — avocado! This recipe is for my Creamy Avocado Pasta Salad.

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Creamy Avocado Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1 avocado, fairly soft
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/3-1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • garlic powder (I didn’t measure the seasonings, sorry! add to your best judgement)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • paprika

Salad:

  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta, I used penne
  • 1 small container of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2 cups asparagus, chopped
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olive without pits
  • black pepper

Directions

Add all dressing ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside while you prep your other ingredients. Cook your pasta until tender; at the last minute, throw in your chopped asparagus (make sure to chop off the woody, rough end, about 1-2 inches from the bottom). Allow your asparagus to cook for ~2 minutes in the boiling water, then drain both the pasta and asparagus. Set aside to cool.

Chop the rest of you ingredients, including the olives. I halved the olives, but feel free to chop as fine as you like or leave whole. Once pasta is no longer steaming, add the rest of your ingredients to a large bowl and pour in your dressing. Mix until all ingredients are fully coated. Finish with a little sprinkle of black pepper. Serve chilled or lukewarm. Pasta salad will stay good in the refrigerator for ~4-5 days; your avocado may just turn a little brown in color. Enjoy!

Seriously that pasta salad is one of my favs! The sauce is super creamy but light for summer days by the pool! Also, healthy fats — sign me up! Avocado is filled with monounsaturated fat which actually helps lower cholesterol levels and can help provide satiety (feeling of fullness) during a meal or snack. Avocados are also high in Vitamin E, C, and B vitamins, so girls/women reading this — it’s great for hair, skin, and nails!

The second recipe is for my Roasted Summer Vegetable Pizza. This is another one of my favorites because well, who doesn’t like pizza! I use a store-bought whole wheat pizza crust from whole foods and top with yummy summer veggies and a blend of spicesย and cheeses!

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Roasted Summer Vegetable Pizza

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 prepared whole wheat pizza crust (can also try gluten-free, regular white, or cauliflower crust!)
  • ~1-2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, sliced into about 1/2 in circles, then cut in half
  • 1/3 cup frozen or fresh corn (you may use yellow, white, or sweet)
  • 1/4 medium red onion, sliced
  • 3/4 cup whole-milk shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup fresh feta cheese
  • Seasonings: garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, red pepper flakes
  • hummus

Directions

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

If you are using frozen corn, thaw first, if using fresh there is no need to prep. Toss your zucchini, corn, and sliced onion in about 1-2 Tbsp canola oil, black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder (use as much as you like, or you may switch up the seasonings). Roast your veggies in the oven for about 15 minutes or until they are slightly brown and caramelized. Once your veggies have cooked, top your pizza crust with the veggies and 2 different types of cheese. Top with a little extra garlic powder and a pinch of red pepper flake.

*FYI: Red pepper flakes pack a BIG kick in a very little amount, so unless you want your mouth on fire, I caution you from using to much!

Bake your pizza in the oven for ~15 minutes or until the bottom and edges of your crust are a golden brown and have nice, crispy feel. Allow your pizza 5-10 minutes to cool before slicing and digging in! Again, I topped mine with a little fresh hummus, but you can omit that if you’d like. Enjoy!

How about a burger? Burgers are a perfect summertime food, but I tend to be partial to vegetarian versions. This recipe is for my Spinach Feta Black Bean Burgersย which I actually came up with a few years ago when I was in college! These were so easy and can be made in advance and frozen for later use!

Black beans are a great source of fiber and can be used as a protein for those who choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. They are creamy in texture and can provide a “meaty” flavor when used for vegetarian burgers!

Spinach Feta Black Bean Burger

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed to get ride of any extra seasoning or liquid that they may be sitting in
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 + 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2-3/4 (eyeball, about 1/2 a bag) cups frozen spinach, thawed in the microwave and pressed between paper towels to squeeze out water

Directions

In a large bowl, mash your black beans with a fork until they are fairly smooth. Add the rest of your ingredients and combine well (get your hands dirty — this works best!).

Divide your mixture into 4, forming individual patties. You can wrap and freeze the other 3 to use at another time if you are only cooking for yourself. Cook on medium heat either on a grill or stove-top in a pan with a little cooking spray. Each side should take about 3-4 minutes. Be sure to press down your burger a little when you flip it over! Each side should get a little golden brown. If you still have some of the mixture seeping out of the sides if you push down lightly, cook for a few minutes longer. When finished, top with whatever toppings you like, add your bun, and you are done! I used a little sprinkle of mozzarella cheese, a few extra leaves of spinach, a tsp of dijon mustard, and whole-wheat bread as my bun. Lettuce leaves works well too!

Hope you try one of these out, and of course let me know what you think!