Crisp Spring Hydration Salad

This salad could not be more refreshing or hydrating- the crunchy cucumbers and apple pieces become coated in the sweet juice of the orange wedges, meaning no extra vinaigrette is needed 😊  Plus, you can make this salad a day in advance and take it with you to work or school, as the orange juice prevents the apples from browning.  This picture was taken of my salad made 24 hours prior, as proof that the salad will look freshly made a day later!

Serves: 1

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 0

What (your ingredients):

½ apple

2 Persian cucumbers

1 orange

½ cup microgreens (I used sunflower microgreens!)

How (your directions):

Roughly chop ½ an apple and place in a bowl.  Slice the cucumbers into half-moons and toss with the apples.

Slice the whole orange into wedges, removing the peel and allowing any orange juice to coat the apple and cucumber pieces.

Plate with microgreens and enjoy!

Why (the science):  If you are one to get bored of drinking plain water, this salad is a great option to stay hydrated and cool off on a warm day!

Warm Pear Compote

This warm compote has all the comforting flavors of sweet spices-cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.  Not to mention that your kitchen will smell wonderful as this compote simmers.  The chia seeds act to thicken the compote, so you can spoon it over fresh and steaming whole wheat waffles.  Added bonus, there is no added sugar!  The sweeter your pears, the sweeter your compote.  This leaves room for a drizzle of agave, if you love a sweet drizzle like I do 😊

Serves: 4

Prep time: 2-5 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

What (your ingredients):

3-4 ripe pears, diced

1/3 cup water

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Dash of nutmeg

Dash of ground cloves

1 tablespoon chia seeds

How (your directions):

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring diced pears and water to a simmer.  Add spices and continue to simmer over medium-low for 10 minutes.

Stir in chia seeds and continue to simmer for 5 minutes.

Allow compote to cool slightly for about 3 minutes, which allows the compote to continue to thicken.

Serve hot over whole wheat waffles!

Leftover compote is delicious stirred into yogurt or spooned over warm oatmeal 😊

Why (the science):  Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the heart healthy fats, as well as fiber.  1 tablespoon of chia seeds contains almost 6 grams of fiber, providing 20% of your fiber for the day!

Spring Rolls with a Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

Spring rolls are the perfect grab-and-go lunch for a busy work or school day.  You can assemble them the night before, place them in an airtight container with a separate container for the dipping sauce, and take them with you the next day- no heating required!  While spring rolls can be $7-9 from a grocery store counter, you can make these for nickels and pennies 😊

Serving Size: 6 Spring Rolls (Serves 2-3)

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 3 minutes

What (your ingredients):

45 grams Instant Vermicelli Rice noodles

6 sheets Rice Paper

1 cup of our favorite sliced veggies! Carrots, Radish, Cucumber, Bell Pepper, Cabbage, etc.

1 Avocado, thinly sliced

Mint or Basil leaves

2 tablespoons peanut butter (I use Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter for added sweetness.  Hint: Add one teaspoon of honey or maple syrup to dipping sauce if using a plain peanut butter)

1 teaspoon sriracha

1 teaspoon soy sauce

How (your directions):

Spring Rolls:

Soak rice noodles in boiling water for 3 minutes, then rinse with cold water.  Drain and set aside on paper towel.

Fill a large bowl with warm water.

When ready to assemble, soak one rice paper sheet in warm water for 20 seconds until pliable then lay flat on work surface.

Fill with favorite sliced veggies, a few rice noodles, 2-3 thin slices of avocado, and 2-3 mint or basil leaves.

Roll spring roll like a burrito, then repeat with remaining 5 rice sheets.

Dipping Sauce:

Combine 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, 1 teaspoon sriracha, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and 2-3 tablespoons of water. 

Whisk until smooth.  Thin with extra water if desired.

Why (the science):  Spring rolls with the spicy peanut dipping sauce create a balanced meal of fiber-rich and water-rich vegetables, carbohydrates from the rice noodles and rice paper, and healthy fats from avocado and peanut butter.  Not to mention, they are incredibly refreshing on a warm Spring day!

Eggplant and Mushroom Bolognese

This bolognese recipe is my new favorite pasta creation, because it really has the flavor and texture of a classic Italian meat sauce.  Mushrooms and eggplant are often used to replace meat, so when they are diced finely and sautéed with Italian seasoning, the result is a phenomenal sauce that you’ll love more than the meat version!  Don’t leave out the tomato paste, as it creates a richness in flavor that can’t be missed!

Serving Size: 4 portions

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

What (your ingredients):

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ large yellow onion, finely diced

Dash of salt

1 eggplant

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 8.oz package baby bella mushrooms

½ teaspoon Italian seasoning

Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Cracked black pepper to taste

1 jar favorite tomato sauce

4 oz. spaghetti

How (your directions):

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously (pasta water should taste like the saltiness of the ocean).

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large fry pan over medium heat and sauté onions with a pinch of salt until slightly translucent, about 5 minutes.

Cut eggplant into a small dice and add to onions.  Push onions and eggplant to one side of the fry pan.  Add the tomato paste directly to the heat and allow to cook for one minute.  Then, stir all ingredients together and continue to sauté.

Add spaghetti to boiling, salted water and cook to al dente or 1 minute shorter than package instructions (about 7 minutes).

Finely dice the mushrooms and add to vegetable mixture.  Add Italian seasoning, pepper, and red pepper flakes if using.

When mushrooms have browned, add jar of your favorite tomato sauce and reduce heat to low.

Add 1 ladle of pasta water to sauce before draining water (the starch of pasta water thickens the sauce).

Serve the eggplant and mushroom Bolognese over spaghetti with a drizzle of olive oil and a few basil leaves.

Bon appétit!

Why (the science):  Did you know that eggplant can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol!?

Mexican Veggie Hash

One of my favorite brunch items to order is a potato hash with eggs, so when I decided to make hash at home, I was surprised at how easy it is to create!  What makes a hash extra awesome is that you can use any combination of veggies you have in your kitchen 😊  I like to serve mine with a squeeze of lime, half of an avocado with sea salt, and a perfectly fried egg.  Hash makes great leftovers for work or school the next day- just serve over rice, or fill a few tacos with the hash and a sprinkle of cheese.

What (your ingredients):

4-5 Yukon gold potatoes

1 large sweet potato

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 red onion

1 green bell pepper

1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon cumin

Pinch of salt and freshly cracked pepper

Toppings: avocado or guacamole, salsa, lime, fried egg, cilantro, cheese, etc.

How (your directions):

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Grease 2 large baking sheets with oil or line with a silicone mat.  Set aside.

Using the dicing blade on a food processor, or using a sharp knife, dice the potatoes into a small dice, keeping the dice size consistent for even roasting.

Toss potatoes with 1 teaspoon olive oil and evenly distribute between the 2 baking sheets.

Roast for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large fry pan, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat.  Add diced red onion and sauté for 5 minutes.  add bell pepper and sauté an additional 5 minutes.

When potatoes have finished roasting, add potatoes to the fry pan.  Add black beans, cumin and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Press mixture firmly so that a golden crust can form on the hash (like making a crunchy paella).

Serve hot with your favorite toppings- I highly recommend avocado and a fried egg so that the yolk can act as a sauce!

Why (the science):  Potatoes and beans create a complete protein, meaning that this dish can be vegan (skip the egg) and you still get all 13 of the essential amino acids your body needs!

Zucchini and Corn Fritters (Vegan)

Comforting corn fritters get a vegan makeover, ensuring a nutrient-dense patty filled with zucchini and spring peas.  Searing the fritters in a little oil creates a golden crust, then finishing in the oven ensures a soft interior.  Bright green in color and a little spicy, these fritters will become your favorite new Springtime comfort food 😊  Makes 8 fritters (and great leftovers, too).

What (your ingredients):

1 zucchini, roughly chopped into 6 pieces

1 yellow onion, quartered

1 clove garlic

1 cup peas

½ teaspoon chipotle powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup corn kernels

Spelt flour (5-8 tablespoons, depending on mixture)

Coconut or vegetable oil

How (your directions):

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease a large baking sheet with oil.  Set aside.

In a food processor, add zucchini, yellow onion, garlic clove, peas, chipotle powder, and salt.  Pulse until mostly combined, but not completely pureed.

Add corn kernels and pulse 2-3 times to incorporate.

Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add spelt flour, one tablespoon at a time, until mixture is slightly thickened and can form patties.

In a large skillet or frying pan, heat 1 teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat.  Form 3-4 patties and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Repeat process with rest of mixture, adding oil to skillet or fry pan as needed (between each round of searing patties).

Transfer seared patties to greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. 

If mixture is slightly wet on the interior, bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

Serve hot over rice and greens, then top with a drizzle of your favorite dressing and a dollop of hummus!  I used a creamy cilantro dressing, which complimented the spiciness of the fritters.

Why (the science):  Peas are rich in protein and create a gorgeous bright green fritter, which is important since we eat with our eyes 😊  Onion and garlic are not only flavorful, but are anticarcinogenic too!  And while spelt flour does contain gluten, it is much more easily digestible than its wheat counterparts, meaning less GI distress if you’re gluten insensitive.  Another fritter, please…

Detox Salad

While I have never understood the nutrition claim “detox,” there is one delicious salad that I love to purchase, and that’s the Whole Foods Detox Salad.  When I bought a pound container of it, I gasped when I saw the cost…$8!!! So, I decided to make it myself.  This batch makes 8-10 servings for a fraction of the cost, and stores wonderfully in the fridge for 5 days.  Just be sure to not dress it with your favorite vinaigrette until the day of serving 😊  Crunchy, slightly sweet, and eaten with a spoon, this “detox” salad (whatever that means) will become your new favorite refreshing salad!

What (your ingredients):

1 green cabbage, cut into quarters

5-6 large carrots

1 apple

1 large bunch of kale, ribs removed, or 1 large bag of kale salad

2/3 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

How (your directions):

Using a food processor with the grater plate attached, shred the cabbage, carrots, and apple. 

Empty shredded mix from the food processor into a large bowl.

Remove the grater plate attachment from the food processor and attach the large blade.  Add the kale directly into the food processor bowl.  Shred the kale and add to the large bowl of shredded mix.

Top with dried cranberries and sunflower seeds.

This salad will keep for 5 days in the fridge if it remains undressed.  Dress with your favorite vinaigrette when ready to eat!

Why (the science):  Cabbage and kale are incredible prebiotics, which means that they feed and promote the growth of healthy bacteria in our gut.  A healthy gut affects our mood, appetite, weight, and stress levels!

 

Lemon Orzo with Artichoke Hearts and Asparagus

Bright and fresh, this pasta salad can be enjoyed hot, cold, or room temperature!  This recipe makes enough to serve 8, but I love to packservings in mason jars to take with me to work throughout the week.  Dinner plus meal prep for the week?  Check and check 😊

Why (the science):  Herbs are often used only as a garnish, but they have so much nutritional power!  Parsley plays the lead with artichoke hearts and asparagus to provide an abundance of vitamin C and folic acid, which play critical roles in our immune system and heart health.

 

Creamy Caulfilower Dill Soup

6 ingredients (olive oil, salt, and pepper don’t count!) is all it takes to make this silky, spring-inspired soup JOh, and there’s no cream!  Simmered and blended cauliflower creates that velvety consistency.  Ready in under 45 minutes from prep to serving, this light soup pairs perfectly with a grilled sandwich or breadsticks on the side.  Perfect for the cooler transition weather from winter to spring, it’s warming and comforting.  Serves 8 (makes great leftovers)

Why (the science):  Rule of thumb: stinky vegetables (think onions and garlic) and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower) are known for their anticarcinogenic effect.  This is one powerful soup!

 

Lemon Amaretto Cookies

If you love the Italian amaretto cookies, you’ll adore my new spin on the classic.  Amaretto is brightened with lemon zest and juice, and given a depth of sweetness from dried apricots and dates.  Made with oats, these cookies make a great breakfast, too!  Cookies for breakfast?  I won’t tell ;)

Why (the science):  Cookies that are incredibly sweet without any additional sugar?  Fiber from oats?  On the go energy?  That’s an incredible cookie!

 

Vegan Mac and Cheese

I grew up eating my Mom’s homemade mac and cheese, which had all the flavors and fat that comfort food typically has and is one of my favorite recipes (hello butter and cheddar!).  On a whim, I decided to make vegan mac and cheese inspired by fellow healthy food bloggers, and it knocked my socks off!  I tweaked a few recipes to make this stellar version-all the flavor of traditional mac and cheese, but without the saturated fat and dairy.  The “cheese” is gooey, creamy, and honestly tastes like cheddar cheese.  Skeptical?  Try it and taste for yourself

Why (the science):  Nutritional yeast is the key component to making vegan food brilliantly taste cheesy and is packed with vitamin B12, a vitamin found mostly in animal food.  B12 is required for metabolism and DNA synthesis, so nutritional yeast is a powerful food that all vegans should have in their back pocket 

Matcha and Cacao Truffles

Yes, truffles can be nutritious!  Made with nuts, seeds, fruit, and citrus zest, these truffles are gilded with superfood powders to give you long-lasting energy…truffles for breakfast anyone?

Why (the science):  Matcha powder provides an “alert calm” to get you through an afternoon slump, while cacao powder is a great source of fiber and iron.  Who knew?!

 

Eat the Rainbow Bowl

Isn’t there a tag line that goes something like taste the rainbow?  Well I say, don’t just taste the rainbow, but eat the rainbow!  This bowl could not be more colorful or more nutritious, so grab a big fork and dig in :)  Serves 4

 

Red Curry with Rice

My husband and I are huge Thai food fans and love going to Thai restaurants for a warming dinner.  But when I made Red Curry at home (my favorite Thai food), he praised it for being tastier than the curry at our favorite Thai restaurant!  And since Red Curry takes only 30 minutes to make, it’s faster than eating out.  Tastier, faster, cheaper, and healthier… that’s a win-win.  Makes great leftovers too!  Serves 6-8

Herbed Chicken and Lemon Quinoa Meal Prep

This meal prep takes only 30 minutes for all components to be successfully set up for a week of bright and filling lunches!  You can also serve this for an easy dinner throughout the week with your favorited roasted vegetables.  Quinoa is not only a great make-ahead grain option but is also a complete protein and pairs perfectly with tangy lemon, herbed chicken, and mild green onions. 

Balanced Bowl Meal Prep

Meal prep and eating healthfully could not be easier than a Balanced Bowl, because all components last successfully in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.  This means that all you have to do is assemble your lunch the night before or assemble all of the week’s lunches at once so they are ready to take with you!  (Just be sure to add the avocado new each day to ensure its freshness).