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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Smoothie Scene

Smoothies seem to be the new trendy way for people to start their day, so I thought I’d take some time to give my take and share with you some of my favorite smoothie recipes! Personally, I love the new smoothie trend! Why? A few reasons. How many people actually count how many serving of fruit or veg they are getting in a day? Although I’d like to think everyone, I’m also a realistic person, so I know that it is not happening. For some people, like my fiance, fruit and veg servings don’t even cross their mind, and well….he did choose to get engaged to a dietitian, so he had to realize I was going to start to push the fruit and veg on him sooner or later.

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My recent solution to his lack of interest in trying different vegetables or fruits (or really eating any for that matter): make him a colorful, tasteful smoothie a few mornings during the week that he can down in a few gulps without even stopping to ask what’s in it. Tricky… I know 😉

Smoothies are a great way to be sure you, your children, or your spouse are in fact getting in AT LEAST 1 serving of fruits and vegetables each and every day. Believe it or not, leafy greens such as spinach or kale are not even noticeable taste-wise when blended with a helping serving of fresh or frozen fruit. I pack it in there when I make one for myself. Jeff, I have to be a little more conservative with so that I don’t get a funny brown color mixing greens with berries.

When it comes to green smoothies, one of my favorite new recipes is:

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/2-3/4 cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup ice water (if too thick or having trouble blending)

Jeff often likes berry smoothies, so my go-to very berry smoothie is:

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk or any low-fat or fat free milk of your choice
  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 banana
  • 3/4 cup frozen mixed berry blend or frozen blueberries
  • few leaves of fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup ice water

For a little added fiber you can always add 1/4 cup rolled oats, or 1 tsp ground flaxseed for some added omega-3’s. If looking for a little extra protein, omit the milk, use 1 cup of Greek yogurt and 1/4-1/2 cup ice water to thin it out. Protein powder is also another great alternative, although I haven’t really used this in mine so I can’t give you any tips or advice for recipes!

However you choose to make your smoothies, remember that often times it doesn’t matter what fruit combo or veg you choose, it will typically taste fine! Experiment with your smoothies, and see what you like best!


Sweet & Spicy Warm Kale Salad w/ Sweet Potato & Gnocchi

Really, I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but this dish turned out amazing. To end National Nutrition Month, I decided to to make up a dish with kale because as I have said in the past, kale is not one of my favorites. I went to Whole Foods after leaving my internship to get a little inspiration and get my recipe juices flowing. This is what I cam up with, and I definitely think it is a winner! I hope you try it out and let me know what you think. Happy cooking 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • cooking spray
  • sweet potato seasonings: chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper
  • fresh kale, about 2 cups
  • 1 Tbsp reduced-fat feta cheese
  • 2/3 cup whole-wheat gnocchi
  • extra seasonings: red pepper flakes, pinch of salt
  • dressing: 1 Tbsp canola oil, 1 tsp dijon mustard, drizzle (very small drizzle) honey, black pepper, red pepper flakes

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Cut your sweet potatoes into small pieces, about the width of a quarter. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay down your chopped potatoes. Spray the tops of the potatoes with another layer of cooking spray, and add a generous amount of the sweet potato seasonings listed above. The only thing I would be cautious with is the chili powder if you don’t want your sweet potatoes too spicy (I like spicy so I added quite a bit!).

Let your potatoes cook for about 25 minutes, flipping them over about halfway through. Rinse and dry your kale and cook your gnocchi (should take about 3 minutes). In a large sauté pan, add a little olive oil and toss your kale and cooked gnocchi. Leave your heat on low. Season with a little black pepper, red pepper flakes (once again, a tiny bit packs a huge punch), garlic powder, and a pinch (literally a pinch) of salt.

While your kale and gnocchi is warming through, go ahead and prepare your dressing (ingredients listed above), whisking with a fork. It won’t completely combine, but that is ok! Once your sweet potatoes are through, add them to your pan, along with your dressing. The dressing should very lightly coat all of your contents. Add your sprinkle of feta cheese and you are done! Enjoy!


Simple Soups

Sorry I don’t have a picture for this one, but I promise it is very tastey! When I am having a busy week, I love to pull out the crockpot. Sometimes, the last thing we want to do is think of and cook a full dinner at the end of a busy day. There are so many things you can do in a crockpot, the possibilities are endless! I made this crockpot Spinach Cannellini Bean Soup a few weeks ago and meant to post it but got wrapped up on the couch with a big bowl of warm soup and it slipped my mind 🙂 It is so simple, flavorful, and comforting. I really hope you try it out!

Crockpot Spinach Cannellini Bean Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 container vegetable broth (I believe it is a total of 4 cups)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 can of cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots (I used large carrots, peeled, and cut them)
  • 1/2 bag frozen chopped spinach (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • dried thyme, basil, black pepper, and garlic powder (season to your liking, just remember dried herbs are much more potent then fresh!)
  • 1 cup whole-wheat rotini

Add all ingredients (except the pasta) to your crockpot and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours. During the last 1/2 hour, keep your crockpot on low and add in your pasta. Serve after your pasta is tender, and make sure to turn your crockpot off or the pasta will eventually overcook and become soggy! I finished off my bowl of soup with a sprinkle of low-fat mozzarella cheese. This recipe makes a total of about 4-5 servings. I froze half of mine to use at a later date! Enjoy 🙂


Greetings From Arizona!

My lack of posting has a reason! I am currently in Arizona soaking up some sun, some culture, and some much needed time with my special someone. My food inspiration has been booming during my time here. I have a million and one ideas for recipes now when I return home. For those of you who ever decide to take a trip out to this desert paradise, I have a few restaurant recommendations for you! A few of them may be chains, but in my opinion who cares! Good food and good atmosphere is something I love, and the hot Arizona sun and surrounding cacti just add to my enjoyment!

True Food

I went here for lunch today and boy was it a treat! As a vegetarian, there were a ton of options to choose from (which is always nice) and a good handful of options for non-vegetarians, those who eat gluten free, or vegans. The menu is based off of an “anti-inflammatory diet” which was interesting, but don’t let that scare you away! The atmosphere was clean, earthy, and relaxing. From my research, other locations for this restaurant are mainly out West, so sorry East coasters! I had the Kale Crunch salad which had kale, cabbage, almonds, grapefruit, avocadoradish, and watercress with a spicy chili dressing. I also split lettuce wraps with tofu and cashews. My meal was wonderful. I would definitely go back! 

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Tonto Bar and Grill

This restaurant was located in Cave Creek, Arizona with beautiful decorations and surrounding scenery. I sat outside under warm heat lamps by a unique sculpture with trickling fountains and illuminating flames. For dinner, I had the Vegetarian Nosh which allowed me to choose from a variety of vegetables, starches, and choose a special sauce to dip the veggies in. For my nosh, I chose grilled asparagus, sautéed broccolini, sweet potato hash with corn, spaghetti squash with spinach, and a small russet potato. I also chose the roasted garlic and mesquite honey sauce. On a non-food note, I also saw a javelina! Javelinas (hav-a-lina) are wild pigs with horns that personally I think are quite cute, but many people probably beg to differ. 

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Cafe Zupas

Ok so those of you Arizona locals may laugh at me for this one, but I really enjoyed it! If you are in need of a quick, easy, and in my opinion healthy lunch, this would definitely be a great stop! My boyfriend and I ate here during our trip to Desert Ridge yesterday afternoon after shopping around, and we both found something that we actually enjoyed (which can be rare!). The menu consists of mainly soups, salads, and sandwiches. All of the salads and sandwiches are made right there in front of you, and each meal comes with a complimentary chocolate covered strawberry (what is not to like about that?!). I had their vegetarian sandwich, which had sprouts, roasted red peppers, tomato, cucumber, greens, munster cheese, and a pesto sauce on ciabatta bread with a cup of their wild mushroom bisque with shitake, crimini, and button mushrooms, both of which were excellent and light for the sunny afternoon!

Wherever you choose to travel, I hope that you take the opportunity to try something new or push yourself out of your food comfort zone a bit. You will never know if you’ll like something unless you try!

What are some of your favorite restaurant finds from your travels or vacations?