Fresh and Fast Lemon Broccoli Salad

So ya’ll already know I’m totally ready for summer! Today is absolutely beautiful, and after my work out I decided to sit by the pool for a few minutes before coming inside to meal prep. If I’m making a salad, I want it to be flavorful, crunchy, and satisfying. This salad is super light and actually gets better with time. I usually let it sit for a day before trying it, so that made it even more perfect for meal prep!

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I’m going to give you both the dressing and the salad recipe. The dressing is super simple and can be used on other salads as well. It is so easy to make your own dressings, and if you have mason jars or small sealed containers they can keep for at least a week in the refrigerator (if not longer!). You can easily control the ingredients when you make your own dressing, allowing there to be a lot of flexibility and versatility in what you create! I tend to not like a lot of dressing on my salads, so if you want a little more liquid just double what I am going to provide today.

Quick side note. Does anyone else notice that when the weather gets nicer they tend to eat out more? I am currently trying so hard to break this habit. As soon as the sunny days and comfortable cool nights come around all I want to do is sit outside at a restaurant, people watch, and enjoy a yummy bite to eat with hub. While we never choose anything to outrageous and have a pretty good balance of healthy options with a little indulgence, there is no doubt that the more I eat out the puffier I tend to feel. Whether its the occasional alcoholic beverage or just too much salt in our meal, having multiple meals out per week can leave me feeling a little sluggish and heavy come Monday.

If you tend to have the same experience, here are a few tips for still being able to enjoy the outdoor and dining experience without the unwanted side effects! These are all things I try to do myself, so I definitely speak from experience!

  • Make dinner at home ahead of time and just go out for a drink or two. Instead of going out and getting your meal and a few drinks, skip the meal and just grab a drink. People watching and enjoying conversation with others is just as good without the food!
  • Eat something light (a greek yogurt with a little fruit, a few slices of rolled turkey with cheese, a plate of raw veggies with hummus, a small slice of leftover chicken breast with a few whole wheat crackers) so that you aren’t as hungry when you go out. Then you can just split an appetizer with your significant other or a friend and still feel satisfied at the end of the night.
  • Just drink water! There is no rule that you have to have a caloric drink or alcoholic beverage at lunch or dinner! It is ok to just drink water! If you really want that beverage, consider cutting it with something that is non-caloric. A good example of this would be ordering a wine spritzer instead of a glass of wine. Ask the serving to only pour 1/2 a glass of white wine and top it off with a little seltzer or soda water. They will typically cut the price as well!

Ok!!! Now on to that delicious recipe!! I hope you give this super easy and delicious salad a try. You can always add other elements such as more raw vegetables, slivered or chopped nuts, etc. Enjoy!

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Fresh and Fast Lemon Broccoli Salad

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

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp honey
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Salad:

  • 1 head raw broccoli, chopped into bite-size florets (about 2.5 cups)
  • 1, 12 oz container of broccoli slaw (This is just carrots, cabbage, and broccoli already chopped! I purchased mine at Sprouts!)
  • 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raisins (golden or regular is fine)
  • 1 medium Gala apple, diced (Or use whatever apple you like best!)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Prepare all the fruit and veggie ingredients as needed. Chop them as fine or as large as you’d like. in a large bowl, add the broccoli, broccoli slaw, diced apple, sunflower seeds, and raisins.

In a mason jar or sealed container, add the dressing ingredients and agitate by shaking. Pour the dressing on top of the salad and lightly toss with your hands. Add a little extra squeeze of lemon juice on top with a pinch of salt and pepper if needed. Store in a sealed container for up to 4 days

 

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Easter Dessert Made Simple, Chocolatey Banana Cake with Walnuts

Happy Easter everyone! It seems as though over the years Easter has obtained quite the reputation for chocolate, Easter baskets filled with candy, decadent pastries and desserts, and Easter egg hunts with jelly bean and candy-filled eggs. Well… even though I did cave and buy a bad of Reese’s peanut butter eggs (primarily because my husband asked where the Easter candy was in our house), I still wanted to make an Easter brunch dessert that was chocolatey and satisfying but lighter and more tummy friendly!

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Pastries and desserts often contain a lot of butter and a lot of sugar, which is perfectly fine in moderation, but typically we are not deciding between the candy, the chocolate, the danish, or the Easter bread… we are usually trying a little of all 4. For my dessert, fat it minimal, but flavor is still fully there! I use a base of over-ripe bananas to add moisture and sweetness. Whole wheat flour provides a little more density and fiber to this cake, but if cooked right will not dry it out whatsoever. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the chocolate! A few chocolate chips were added for those who desire chocolate to consider a dessert a dessert. Walnuts were also added for a little crunch!

This cake looked so delicious last night, that I couldn’t even wait until today to try it out! I hope you enjoy my Chocolatey Banana Cake with Walnuts, and have a happy Easter!

Chocolatey Banana Cake with Walnuts:

Ingredients:

  • 2 over-ripe bananas, mashed until fairly smooth
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, not packed
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine your mashed bananas with the brown sugar, egg, almond milk, and canola oil until the sugar is well incorporated and there aren’t any lumps. Add all of the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt) and mix until well combined. Add your chocolate chips and walnuts by lightly folding them into the batter so they are well distributed.

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Lightly spray your bunt pan (or another type of cake pan; baking time may differ though), and add in your batter evenly. Bake for ~35 minutes or until the top of your cake is fairly firm and lightly brown. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before flipping over onto a serving platter. Serve warm and enjoy!

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Lean Turkey Bean Chili

Sometimes even a summertime rainy day calls for something a little warm and a little comforting. My Lean Turkey Bean Chili did just the trick last night! Filled with protein, but still light and lean, this is the perfect comforting dish to cozy up with on the couch during summertime thunderstorms. I hope you try it out!

 Turkey Bean ChiliTurkey Bean Chili

Lean Turkey Bean Chili

Ingredients: Serves 5-6

  • 32oz (4 cups) fat free, low sodium free range chicken broth
  • 8oz (1cup) warm water
  • 2 cans no added salt crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1 can red kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1lb lean (I used 99% lean) ground turkey
  • 1 cup frozen sweet corn
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp tabasco sauce

Total cooking time: 1hr 10min

In a large pot, add all of your liquids (chicken broth, water, crushed tomatoes), pinto beans, and kidney beans. Season with 2 Tbsp cumin, 1 Tbsp garlic powder, 1 Tbsp black pepper, 1 Tbsp paprika, 1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for 1/2 hour. In the mean time, brown your ground turkey in a skillet over medium heat. Season with remaining 1/2 Tbsp cumin, 1 Tbsp garlic powder, 1/2 Tbsp black pepper, 1/2 Tbsp paprika, and 1/2 Tbsp chili powder. I browned my turkey in a little olive oil spray to prevent sticking. once your meat is fully cooked, drain any excess fat and add to your chili base along with 1 cup of frozen sweet corn. Place a lid partially onto your pot and let simmer for another 20 minutes on medium. Remove the lid completely after 20 minutes, add 1 tsp of tabasco, and allow another final 20 minutes of cooking. Reduce your heat to low, or turn off completely if serving the entire bowl, and serve with toppings of your choice such as tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese, diced avocado, or a fresh baguette!

250-320 calories/serving


Portobello Mushroom Cap Pizza

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For me, summertime and Portobello mushrooms go together wonderfully. They are light and airy, yet still provide a robust, meaty flavor that I love. They are also very versatile. From chopped, sautéed, and used in pasta dishes, to grilled and used as a burger alternative, Portobello mushrooms can be jazzed up and changed around to your liking.

This recipe is for my Portobello Mushroom Cap Pizzas. Unfortunately, I live in an apartment with little room for an actual grille outside so I used my George Forman, but an outdoor gas or coal grille would have been my first choice for preparing the mushrooms!

Portobello Mushroom Cap Pizzas

Ingredients:

  • 2 large Portobello mushroom; cleaned well and patted dry (you will need to pat them a few times… they soak up water!); remove center stems (without breaking your mushroom!)
  • 4 Tbsp. roasted garlic marinara or tomato sauce (I used Trader Joes Roasted Garlic Marinara); depending on how large your mushrooms are, the sauce amount will vary
  • 2-3 Tbsp. shredded, fine parmesan cheese
  • 1 small Roma tomato
  • 6-8 spinach leaves depending on how large they are
  • dried thyme
  • dried basil
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Once your mushrooms have been cleaned, dried, and de-stemmed, place them on the grille for about 3-4 minutes (this was on my George Foreman where they were pressed, if on a normal grille, do about 2-3 minutes on each side; you may want to brush with a little olive oil as well to avoid sticking on a normal grille). Slice your Roma tomatoes to make about 1/2-1 cm thick rounds. You will need 6 slices total, so if your tomato is extra small you may need to use a second. A full-sized vine ripe or steak tomato may be used instead, just use one slice as it should take up about the same size as 3 Roma rounds. Once your mushrooms have been grilled, place them on a baking dish, lined with foil and sprayed with a little cooking spray. The stem side of the mushroom should be facing up. Spoon about 2 Tbsp. of sauce onto each mushroom cap. One top of the sauce, place a few spinach leaves to cover the sauce. Press them down gently so that they flatten out. Place 3 tomato slices on top of the spinach. Season with a pinch of dried thyme, dried basil, a little black pepper, and garlic powder. Once each mushroom has been seasoned, top each one with out 1 Tbsp. of shredded, fine parmesan cheese. If you would like your mushrooms a bit cheesier, go ahead an add a little more cheese! The parmesan cheese adds a salty taste, so there is no need to add extra salt. Place the mushrooms into the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is fully melted and starting to get a little golden brown on the edges. Enjoy your mushrooms with a side salad or a little pasta of your choice! Enjoy!

 

 


Herb & Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Fries

Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Fries

Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Fries

Who doesn’t like fries? French fries are a true indulgence for me. Salty, spicy, or sweet, I will take any fry that I can get! This past weekend I decided to test out a new kind of fry that I hadn’t yet made, zucchini fries! This recipe is simple, yet flavorful and satisfying. Of course, nothing can compare to a good, crispy potato fry, but if you are looking for a lighter version that can still give you a little crunch and satisfaction this will surely do it!

Herb & Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Fries

Ingredients:

  • 1 small zucchini or 1/2 large zucchini
  • 2-4 Tbsp whole-wheat or white flour
  • 2 egg whites with a splash of cold water
  • 1/2 cup plain, unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl mix your bread crumbs, herbs, garlic powder, and black pepper. Feel free to add more or less of any of the seasonings as preferred. I did not add any salt, but feel free to add that as well. Place your bread crumb mixture onto a larger dish so that it provides enough room for you to later toss the zucchini. On a separate dish or in a cereal bowl, mix 2 egg whites with a splash of cold water and set aside. In a 3rd dish, spoon out your flour. Slice your zucchini into strips and then cut into fries  (whatever thickness you prefer). My fries were a little thicker; thin fries (more straw-like) will take about 2-3 minutes less to cook. The thicker the fry, the longer you can expect your cook time to be.

Lightly toss your zucchini pieces in the flour. There should only be a light coating of flour on the zucchini. This will help the egg whites have something to stick to. Next, evenly coat the zucchini in the egg white mixture. Lastly, toss the zucchini in the bread crumb mixture. On a lightly greased baking sheet, spread out your zucchini pieces evenly. Try not to move them around too much once you have laid them out to keep as much of the bread crumbs on each piece as possible. Sprinkle your shredded parmesan cheese on top of the fries and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. To assure even browning, flip your fries halfway through the cooking time. Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice such as marinara, light ranch dressing, ketchup, or whatever you think sounds good!

Enjoy 🙂