Avocado and Arugula Salad

I eat a lot of raw fresh produce. The longest I ever lasted with a 100% raw food diet was a month. I definitely felt great but 100% just isn’t practical for my lifestyle. The whole premiss behind this way of eating is that cooking foods above 115 degrees F kills the enzymes in food that help us digest and absorb nutrients. Now I just incorporate as much seasonal fresh produce into my day to day eating habits as possible.

When I was on the raw food kick, I ate this Arugula salad at LEAST once a week. It was so filling and satisfying. Stew and I were wanting a lighter meal, so we had this for supper. 

Avocado and Arugula Saladserves 1

2 cups arugula

1/2 granny smith apple, thinly sliced

1/2 avocado, sliced

2 Tbsp craisins

2 Tbsp slivered almonds

1 Tbsp sunflower seeds

1 tsp chopped parsley

1 tsp chopped mint

Create a bed of arugula in a large bowl. Arrange the apple and avocado fanned out in a circular patter on top of the arugula (To cut the avocado, slice down the center around the pit. Then tap a large chef’s knife into the pit and twist. This should make the pit come right out. Then peel the avocado by pulling the skin off). Sprinkle with the remaining ingredients. Drizzle with a little bit of the red wine vinaigrette. Now you have yourself a healthy and delicious lunch or dinner!

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Red Wine Vinaigrette

Why buy dressing when you can make your own?! It’s so easy and SO much better for you! You actually know every single ingredient in the dressing. The garlic paste in a tube is my secret weapon. I use it when I want the garlic flavor but not chunks of garlic (or quite frankly when I’m too lazy to chop garlic). It has a VERY strong flavor so you don’t need much. You can find it in the refrigerated section at any grocery store. This dressing is full of flavor and will make you and your salads very happy! 

Red Wine Vinaigrette –makes 1 cup

2 Tbsp lemon juice (1/2 lemon)

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp grainy mustard

1/2 tsp garlic paste (or 1 clove garlic minced)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake until combined. A little goes a long way flavor wise. You’ll never buy dressing again!

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Orange and Craisin Quinoa

Right now I’m on a quinoa kick. YUM! Quinoa is the only grain that is a complete protein. What does that mean? Well, it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids that humans need in their diets. So, bottom line, eat more quinoa! It’s similar to couscous because you can transform its flavor easily. I was watching Food Network and Giada de Laurentiis was making something similar to this. I added a few of my own touches. This recipe is so refreshing! I paired it with grilled rosemary chicken and broccolini. It went so well with the savory chicken! It couldn’t be easier too! You combine all the ingredients, except the craisins, into one pot and simmer it, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the craisins in, stir it, and take it off the heat. Keep the lid on and let it sit for about 5 minutes so any excess liquid and all the flavors absorb into the quinoa. This will make you fall in love with this miracle seed! 

Orange and Craisin Quinoa-serves 4

Adapted from Giada at Home

1 1/2 c. Water

Juice of 1 orange (about 1/2 cup)

Zest of 1 orange

1 c. quinoa

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 c craisins

Combine all ingredients, except the craisins, into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Add craisins and fluff with a fork. Move the pot off the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 more minutes.

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Garlic Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Here’s my spiel for the day…Potatoes are a vegetable that you definitely want to buy organic. Not only do they get sprayed from above with pesticides, but they absorb them from the soil too. Since they have such a thin skin, pesticides get absorbed easily so you can’t exactly peal it away. Now that we have that settled, let’s talk roasted potatoes. This dish is SO easy to make, and it is a crowd pleaser. It only takes a few minutes to prep and you can swap the rosemary and garlic for any flavors you like! The potatoes I bought were pretty small, so I cut most in half and the larger ones in quarters so they were all about the same size. Then, you put ALL of the ingredients onto a sheet pan and mix it up with your hands. Move them around so the potatoes are coated evenly with the oil.

Looks delicious right?! Arrange the potatoes so they’re all cut side down and they form a nice crust. About halfway through the cooking, take a spatula and flip the potatoes around so they cook and brown evenly. Careful not to overcook these babies or they’ll dry up. After about 40 minutes, test them with a fork or a toothpick to make sure they’re tender in the center. Once they’re tender on the inside and start to brown on the outside, they’re finished! Sprinkle them while they’re hot with a little salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Garlic Rosemary Roasted Potatoesserves 4-6

2 lbs. small potatoes

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt

Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. I used a bag of organic small multi-colored potatoes. You could substitute purple, red, or fingerling potatoes. Cut the potatoes into about 1 inch pieces. You want the potatoes to be about the same size so they cook evenly. Place potatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil, rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss with your hands so the potatoes are evenly coated. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, mixing halfway through. Test with a fork to see if they’re tender. Once the potatoes start to get a brown crust on the outside and are nice and tender on the inside, they’re done! While potatoes are hot, season with more salt and pepper to taste.

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Carrot Apple Ginger Juice

There’s nothing as soothing as a cold glass of fresh juice. It was abnormally warm about a week ago, and I had a craving for fresh juice. I stopped by this new juice bar by my house. I had a juice that was similar to this, and I was hooked! I went three days in a row. But for the sake of saving money, I started making it at home! I usually pick one or two juices that I’ll have all week and load up on those ingredients. That way, I’m not spending a billion dollars on ingredients. When I juice, I always choose organic ingredients because your body quickly absorbs the enzymes, minerals, and other nutrients through the liquid, even more so than eating the fruit or vegetable, because your body doesn’t have to break down and digest the food. This is an easy way to get more fruits and veggies into your body!

Carrot Apple Ginger Juice

3 apples

5 carrots

2 celery stalks

1 inch piece ginger, peeled

Cut the fruit and vegetables into pieces that will fit through the feed tube of your juicer. Run all ingredients through the juicer. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

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Grilled Rosemary Chicken

Here’s another chicken idea. I find that chicken can get so boring, and I’m always looking for new ideas to spice it up! Start with the chicken breasts. I usually buy my chicken in bulk and freeze it in meal size portions. I had 2 thick chicken breasts, so I sliced them in half lengthwise to make 4 thinner breast pieces. They’re easier to cut if they’re still a bit frozen in the center (of course you can always buy the thin cutlet pieces to save a step). Then, in a gallon size ziplock bag, combine the remaining ingredients. Mush the ingredients together with your hand in the bag. Using tongs, place all four pieces of chicken in the bag. Squeeze the air out and zip the bag closed. Then, move all the chicken pieces around in the bag to get them completely coated. Place them in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour or up to 8.

Heat a grill pan to medium heat. Using a pair of tongs, pull out one piece of chicken at a time. Shake off excess marinade, and place on the grill pan. Grill on each side until chicken is cooked through. This is delicious by itself, or cut up over a salad. Enjoy! 

Grilled Rosemary Chicken

serves 2-4 depending on portion size

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (slice through the center to make 4 thin breast pieces)

1/4 c. olive oil

1 tsp dried thyme

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Start with the chicken breasts. I usually buy my chicken in bulk and freeze it in meal size portions. I had 2 thick chicken breasts, so I sliced them in half lengthwise to make 4 thinner breast pieces. They’re easier to cut if they’re still a bit frozen in the center (of course you can always buy the thin cutlet pieces to save a step). Then in a gallon size ziplock bag, combine the remaining ingredients. Mush the ingredients together with your hand in the bag. Using tongs, place all four pieces of chicken in the bag. Squeeze the air out and zip the bag closed. Then move all the chicken pieces around in the bag to get them completely coated. Place them in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour or up to 8.

Heat a grill pan to medium heat. Using a pair of tongs, pull out one piece of chicken at a time. Shake off excess marinade, and place on the grill pan. Grill on each side until chicken is cooked through. This is delicious by itself, or cut up over a salad. Enjoy!

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Cake Pop Placecards

My husband and I have some friends who get together once a month for a supper club. The couple who hosts is responsible for the main dish and the theme. We have such a blast getting together with each other! Stew and I were the hosts this month. Our theme was “Cupid’s Calling” for Valentine’s Day. With a little help from Pinterest, I planned the most romantic Valentine’s supper! Our main course was pork tenderloin with a balsamic glaze served with whipped potatoes. Each couple brings either a side, dessert, or drink. This makes it less stressful for the host!

In my searching, I came across cake pop place cards. Now, I LOVE cake pops! They’re so fun because you can use them for anything! I made them for halloween and shaped them into ghosts. They’re super easy, and once you have a basic recipe, you can turn them into whatever you want. So I make a batch of the cake balls and freeze what I don’t use. Just take them out to sit at room temperature when it’s time to decorate! I start with a basic chocolate box cake recipe and bake the cake according to the package instructions. Then, let the cake cool, cut into chunks, and mix with 1/4 cup store bought cream cheese frosting in your standing mixer. You can add more icing if you need a wetter mixture. Remember, you can always add more icing, but you can’t take it out!

Melt about two tablespoons of the white chocolate pieces in the microwave. This will act as the glue for the sticks. Dip one end of the stick into the chocolate and push it into the bottom of the cake ball. Place the pops stick side up so the chocolate can harden. 

Then, spray a large plate with nonstick spray so the chocolate won’t stick to the plate. Melt 1/2 a bag of the white chocolate pieces in a microwave safe bowl for 15 second increments, stirring after each. Add in the food coloring to achieve the darkness of your liking (I use a toothpick so I don’t add too much at once). Dip the chocolate cake into the melted chocolate and place on the prepared plate to dry (If you were making cake pops instead of place cards, you would place the stick into a piece of foam so that they dry sitting upright). 

Once the chocolate hardens, melt about 1/2 cup white chocolate pieces in the microwave in 15 second increments, stirring after each. Spoon into a piping back and use a small round tip to pipe tiny white dots onto the cake pop. Once the chocolate dots harden, place the pops into cellophane bags, stick side up. Punch a whole into the top of each name tag. Tie a piece of ribbon around the top of the bag, looping both ends through the whole in the name tag. Tie a pretty bow and voilà!

Cake Pop Place Cards –

This recipe makes about 45 cake balls, depending on the size. I only used 10 for my place cards and froze the rest.

1 box Chocolate cake mix

1 tbsp instant coffee powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

pop sticks

1 can cream cheese frosting

1 bag white melting chocolates

pink food coloring

10 cellophane bags

ribbon

name tags

Bake the cake according to the package instructions. Then, let the cake cool completely. Cut into large chunks and mix with 1/4 cup store bought cream cheese frosting in your standing mixer. You can add more icing if you need a wetter mixture. Remember, you can always add more icing, but you can’t take it out!

Melt about two tablespoons of the white chocolate pieces in the microwave. This will act as the glue for the sticks. Dip one end of the stick into the chocolate and push it into the bottom of the cake ball. Place the pops stick side up so the chocolate can harden.

Then, spray a large plate with nonstick spray so the chocolate won’t stick to the plate. Melt 1/2 a bag of the white chocolate pieces in a microwave safe bowl for 15 second increments, stirring after each. Add in the food coloring to achieve the darkness of your liking (I use a toothpick so I don’t add too much at once). Dip the chocolate cake into the melted chocolate and place on the prepared plate to dry (If you were making cake pops instead of place cards, you would place the stick into a piece of foam so that they dry sitting upright).

Once the chocolate hardens, melt about 1/2 cup white chocolate pieces in the microwave in 15 second increments, stirring after each. Spoon into a piping back and use a small round tip to pipe tiny white dots onto the cake pop. Once the chocolate dots harden, place the pops into cellophane bags, stick side up. Punch a whole into the top of each name tag. Tie a piece of ribbon around the top of the bag, looping both ends through the whole in the name tag. Tie a pretty bow and voilà! You will have left over sticks, ribbon, and chocolate. But you can use these for the next batch of cake pop place cards!

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Chili Citrus Kale Chips

Those of you who know me, know that I like to dabble in the raw food world. It all started when I found this incredible cookbook Raw Food Real World. I had no intentions of becoming a raw foodie. Heck, I didn’t even know what it was! I got the cookbook years ago for my mom actually. Ok so I may have borrowed it from time to time… FINE I still have it! But that’s beside the point. I fell in love with the photos. I wanted to eat everything in there! As I read this cookbook, I learned about eating raw, and it made sense. I’m definitely not 100% raw, but I do try to incorporate as much raw whole foods into my diet as possible. I just feel better when I do. Which leads me to my recipe for Kale Chips. 

Last summer, I got more kale in my farm share than I knew what to do with! Of all the kale recipes I created, this was by far my favorite. I actually made the chips in the dehydrator for the most part (the temperature only goes up to 115 degrees so it doesn’t kill the enzymes). But sometimes, I just can’t wait 4 hours for a batch of these babies to be done. A craving hit the other day, and I definitely didn’t want to wait. So I made them in the oven. Start by washing the leaves thoroughly. Then dry them completely, and tear them into bite size pieces. In a large bowl whisk all of the ingredients until they’re well combined. Place the leaves into the bowl and, using your hands, move the leaves coating them completely with the mixture. 
Place a cooling rack inside of a cookie sheet. Spread the leaves out on the rack so that the chips cook evenly. The rack keeps the chips from turning mushy. Pop the chips into the oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until they’re crisp. Use a spatula to move the leaves off the rack and into a serving bowl. They are the perfect mix of sweet, spicy, and salty. Oh, and it’s ok to eat them all in one sitting. Enjoy! 

Chili Citrus Kale Chips-Serves 1-2

1/2 bunch kale

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp agave nectar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse and dry kale leaves. Tear the leaves into bite size pieces. Combine the remaining ingredients into a large bowl and whisk until they’re combined. Place the torn leaves into the bowl and mix with your hands, moving around until they’re coated evenly. Line a cookie sheet with a cooling rack. Spread the leaves onto the rack and bake for 10 minutes, or until crisp but not too brown. Using a spatula, move chips from the rack to a bowl. Enjoy!

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Chicken Noodle Soup

There’s something about chicken noodle soup that has healing qualities. Stew caught that cold that’s been going around. He came home from work, and I could tell he was not well. So, I cooked up some chicken noodle soup. It was exactly what he needed.

I usually buy chicken in bulk and then freeze it in meal size portions in ziplock bags. I’ll take it out the night before I plan to use it and leave it in the fridge. By the next night it’s defrosted perfectly. Of course, if you don’t plan that far ahead, you can always take it out a few hours early and place the bag into a bowl of water in the fridge. Place something heavy on top to keep the bag submerged.

Now, this recipe calls for 1 chicken breast in the crock pot, but I did two and shredded them both. I put one in a tupperware in the fridge for quesadillas the next night. The more I can do to make cooking easier, the better. You can even cook the chicken in the morning so they’re ready when you make the soup. While those cook, I cut the veggies. I saute them once the chicken is almost finished cooking.

Then I cook the pasta, strain it, and put it into a bowl to sit while the rest of the ingredients are cooking. I add a tbsp of olive oil and mix it up so the noodles don’t turn into one big block. I found that the soup turns to mush if I add the noodles in and let it sit overnight in the soup. If I know I’ll have leftovers, I keep the noodles in a separate container and add it to the soup as I serve it. But if there are enough people  to eat it all in one sitting, add the noodles in.

When the chicken is finished cooking, shred it with two forks into big chunks. Add the broth and chicken to the veggies and let it simmer so that all the flavors blend together. Ladle the soup (and noodles if they’re separate) into serving bowls and top with fresh parsley. The fresh herbs add a pop of color. Feel better! 

Chicken Noodle Soup-serves 4 to 6

1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, diced

4 celery stalks, diced

4 carrots, peeled diced

2 bay leaves

1 tsp dried thyme

1 clove garlic, minced

5 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 cup small pasta noodles (I used ditalini)

salt

pepper

  1. Place one chicken breast into the slow cooker and add enough water to cover. Add 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper corns, and 1 bay leaf. Cook on high for 2 hours. Once the chicken breast is fully cooked, remove from the slow cooker and shred using two forks. Set aside.
  2. Peel and dice 1/2 an onion and 4 carrots. Dice the celery and mince garlic clove.
  3. In a dutch oven or large pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil on medium heat. Cook the onion until it is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the celery and carrots. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook for 10 minutes until vegetables are softened.
  4. Add 1 bay leaf, chicken broth, and shredded chicken. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. In a separate pot, cook pasta according to package instructions. When pasta is al dente, drain and place in a bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together. I keep the pasta separate until I serve the soup. Otherwise, the noodles absorb the liquid and get too big.
  6. Ladle soup into bowls and add pasta. Garnish with some fresh parsley.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

Ok… these are the best creation ever! I’m definitely a health conscious eater. My philosophy is, you are what you eat. I feel better when I eat well. I’ve even grown to crave and love healthy food! Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a sweet tooth just like the next person! That is why I need a little sweet bite ready when a craving hits! So I combined my two favorite flavors, chocolate and peanut butter, to make these cookie bites! They couldn’t be easier, and they’re actually good for you! How many desserts can you say that about? I keep them in the fridge so they are a bit firmer than when they sit at room temp. Just be careful, you can’t just eat one!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

            1/2 cup almond meal

            1/2 cup regular rolled oats (Use GF oats if you want it GF)

            2 tbsp cocoa powder

            1/2 tsp kosher salt

            2 tbsp agave nectar

            3 tbsp peanut butter

            3 tbsp pure maple syrup (add gradually until desired consistency is achieved)

            1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1. In a food processor, process the oats until very fine, like a flour consistency.

2. Add in the almond meal, cocoa powder, salt, and agave and pulse until combined. Now add in vanilla and maple syrup gradually until desired consistency is achieved. Process until a dough forms. Stop to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. Dough will be very sticky! If it is too sticky to make balls, you can add a bit more almond meal.

3.Scoop dough into a bowl. Use a small ice cream scoop to form balls with the dough (lightly wet fingers if necessary). Roll them between your hands to form a ball. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

Note: If dough is too dry, add a bit more maple syrup. If too wet, add a bit more almond meal.

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