3.31.2014

Crisp Cucumber Celery Salad

I swear, I come up with the best recipes when I'm in a rush!  I packed another salad-winner this morning for work and it hit the spot so well that I thought I should share it with you!

Crisp Cucumber Celery Salad
Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1-2
Ingredients:
        Salad:
                3 celery stalks
                1/2 cucumber
                1/2 cup cooked beans/legumes (I used french lentils)
                1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (fresh mint would also go well in this salad)
                Mixed Greens
        Dressing:
                1 Tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
                1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
                1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
                1+ Tbsp water (more to thin)
                1/4 tsp dried dill

Instructions:
  1. Wash all produce very well.  Trim the edges of the celery and cut on the bias (aka in a pretty diagonal).  Cut the cucumber in half, then in quarters length-wise, then slice.
  2. In a small bowl or container, add all of the dressing ingredients and stir thoroughly to mix.  Add more water to thin to the desired consistency.  
  3.  Place the cucumber, celery, and beans/legumes in a medium sized container.  Pour the mixed dressing over the mixture and toss to coat well.  
  4. Serve the cucumber and celery mixture by itself or on top of mixed salad greens.
Amy's Notes:
As I said above, I used french lentils in this salad, but feel free to use any bean or legume you have on hand.  You can, of course, add more beans/legumes if you desire.

Lately, I have been loving super simple, single-serve dressings like this one.  I like that it is quick to throw together and doesn't require the use of a blender.  If you like this one, make sure to check out my even more simple One-Two Dressing.

3.30.2014

ABC Muffins

I hope everyone is having a grand weekend.  I am just finishing mine up with a dinner out with Kevin and my parents.  We're going for Mexican tonight and I can't wait to get me some yummy salsa, mexican rice, and beans!

I had the afternoon to kill time today after meeting up with one of my best girlfriends to help figure out how to bustle her wedding dress for this July.  All I can say is, she is going to be an absolute georgous bride!

I had two beets in the fridge that I have been needing to use up, so, at first I thought to make a shredded raw beet, carrot, and apple salad.  Once I got done shredding the produce in my handy food processor, I just knew that I wasn't going to enjoy eating it as a salad, and would inevitably end up throwing half of it out.  I decided to go ahead and make something similar to zucchini bread, but with shredded apples (A), beets (B), and carrots (C) and in muffin form (Get it?  ABC Muffins?) to have for breakfast and snacks during the week.

I have never been the most particular baker, so I just started throwing things together to make a batter, and low and behold, it turned out great!  Here is my recipe...

ABC Muffins
Time: 20 minutes prep, 20 minutes baking per batch
Servings: 24 cupcake size/12 muffin size

Ingredients:
        Shredded: (about 4 packed cups total)
                2 medium raw beets, washed, peeled and shredded
                4 medium carrots, washed, peeled, and shredded
                3 medium apples, washed, peeled, and shredded

        Batter:
                1 + 1/4 cup water
                1 cup old fashioned oats
                1 cup pitted dates
                1 cup whole wheat flour
                1 cup walnuts
                2 ripe bananas
                2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
                1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
                1 tsp cinnamon
                1/2 tsp ground ginger
                1/2 tsp nutmeg
                1/2 tsp baking powder
                pinch salt (optional)
       Mix-in:
                1/2 cup raisins (optional)
                1/2 cup old fashioned oats
                
Instructions:

  1. With a food processor (or by hand if you are feeling so gung-ho), shred the apples, beets, and carrots.
  2. Place the shredded ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined.  Set aside while you make the batter.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. In a rinsed food processor, combine the batter ingredients (water, oats, dates, whole wheat flour, walnuts, bananas, ground flaxseed, vanilla, spices, and baking powder) and process until a thick, fairly smooth batter forms.  Add more water to thin if necessary.  It should be about the consistency of  mashed potatoes, not quite pancake batter.
  4. Place the batter into a large bowl and stir in the Mix-in ingredients (rasins and oats).
  5. Add one cup of the shredded ABCs and stir in until well combined.  Add another cup and stir, and so on until the 4 cups of shredded ABCs have been well mixed in.  
  6. At this point your batter should be well mixed and thoroughly pink from the beets.
  7. Prepare a cupcake or muffin pan with cup liners.  Scoup 1/4 cup of the ABC batter into each cupcake holder (up to 1/2 cup for a muffin pan).  Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a bit of rolled oats if you want.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Serve hot or cold.  Keep leftovers in the refriderator.

Amy's notes:
These muffins end up being a bit messy and make your kitchen temporarily pink, but boy are they good AND nutritious!  If you are not a huge fan of beets (I'll admit, it took me a while to aquire a taste for them), feel free to replace the beet with more carrots and apples.  Or all carrots.  Or all apples.  Whatever you want really.
I would highly suggest that you use cupcake/muffin liners, as these end up being quite sticky, and would be hard to get out of the molds.

3.21.2014

One-Two Dressing

I don't know why, but this work week seemed to drag on for me.  I had a really bad nights sleep Monday evening and it has seemed to throw off my whole week.  I had one of those nights that I kept throwing off the blanket being hot and sweaty, only to be freezing and grabbing for it again 10 minutes later.  The reason my mother would give me (the reasons she gives me for most things) is: hormones.  Growing up and even now, she would always tell me to "Blame it on hormones."  If I had a day where I just felt like crying - hormones.  If I felt forgetful or unfocused - hormones.  Even if I was clumsy and spilled food on my favorite shirt - hormones.

I don't think I want to blame my bad nights sleep fully on hormones this time.  Spring weather in the inland northwest is my least favorite of all.  It is nice that the weather gets warmer and sunnier, but it still seems to hang on hard to that winter chill.  Probably the reason for my hot sweat-then cold night of sleep was just Spring being Spring..... and hormones ;).

In an effort to catch up on my sleep, I've been going to bed decently early and sleeping in a bit more than usual, leaving little to no time to make or pack much of a lunch.  So, one morning this week I threw together in a large tupperware container some fresh spinach, a whole cucumber, and a whole avocado to be chopped and prepped at work.  For the dressing, I grabbed my jar of almond butter, scooped a bit into my to-go dressing container, topped off with balsamic vinegar, and ran out of the door.

To my surprise, it ended up being a dang good salad!  The best part was the dressing, so I thought I would share with you guys how simple and easy it is to make it.

One-Two Dressing
Time: 1 minute (Ha! Not even!)
Servings: 1
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Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1+ Tbsp water to thin
This was a salad that I made for a good friend and I before we went on an outing together today.  In the salad was mixed greens, shredded carrots, thinly sliced red onions, and french lentils with my one-two dressing.  Yum!
Instructions:
  1. Put the almond butter and balsamic vinegar into a small, airtight tupperware container with about 1 Tbsp of water.
  2. Secure the lid and shake the tupperware.  Open, and assess if you want to add more water.  Continue to add water if needed and shake until your dressing is smooth and the consistency that you like.
  3. Serve on top of a green salad.
Amy's Notes:
I couldn't believe how simple, easy, and delicious this dressing was.  It was easy as one, two... yep, that is it.  These two ingredients go so well together to give a nice balance of savory and tangy.  For those of you who don't have a high powered blender, or don't want to make a big batch of dressing that goes bad before you can use it, give this dressing a try!  The fact that this dressing takes just seconds to prepare (and gives your arm a little work out (haha!) makes it that much better!

Here was the salad that I had earlier this week with this great dressing.  Spinach, avocado, cucumbers and one-two dressing.

How much time do you spend prepping your lunch each day?

3.17.2014

Green Split Pea Hummus

Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone!  Tonight Kevin and I are hosting a little pot luck with some friends, and for a St. Patty's themed recipe, I decided to make something that is naturally green with green split peas and pistachios!
Green Split Pea Hummus
Time: 15 minutes, plus 1 hour cook time
Serves: Party size!

Ingredients:
1 cup dried green split peas (or about 2 cups cooked)
1 cup shelled pistachios
1/2 cup water (more to consistency)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Rinse the dried green split peas in a mesh strainer and pick out any debris.  Combine the rinsed and drained lentils with 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and then cover.  Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the lentils are tender but not quite mushy.  Remove from heat and leave the cover on to steam while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients besides the green split peas.  Process until the pistachios are well broken up and smooth.  
  3. Strain any remaining liquid from the cooked green split peas and add to the food processor.  Process until smooth and creamy, adding in water by the tablespoon until the desired consistency is reached.
  4. Place the hummus into an airtight container in the fridge to cool before serving.
  5. Serve with your favorite healthy crackers, chips, and raw veggies.
Amy's Notes:
If you don't happen to have pistachios on hand, any other type of nut or seed will work, such as cashews, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, etc.
This hummus is also great on a panini, like the one pictured below.  For this panini, I loaded it with my split pea hummus, lots of red onion slices, and piled high with spinach.  Yum!

3.14.2014

Irish Inspired Recipes for St. Patty's Day

What are your plans for St. Patrick's Day?  Over the weekend, Kevin and I will be going to a St. Patty's Day parade in downtown Spokane with some friends.  Then, on Monday, we are hosting a pot-luck at our apartment with some friends.  My old college roommate and maid of honor will be in town over the weekend and coming to our pot-luck, so I am so excited to see her and her new puppy she is bringing along!

If we are having a St. Patty's Day pot-luck, you better believe I will be making something delicious, nutritious, and Irish/Green.  In past, I have made a few Irish dishes like...

Colcannon: mashed potatoes with kale and onions


What foods will you be making to celebrate St. Patrick's Day this year?

3.12.2014

Amy's Immune Boosting Juice

Blah, I'm sick at home with a head cold today.  I think I can blame it this time on a compromised immune system from staying up late and drinking a bit too much over the weekend.  Luckily, at work I have been switched over to a laptop with docking stations at both of my offices, so I was able to take it home and get some work done this afternoon.  Before sitting down to work, I decided a nice fruit and vegetable juice could help kick my immune system back into gear.

Amy's Immune Boosting Juice
Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1-4 (makes about 4 cups)
Ingredients:
4 green tart apples, cored
2 medium oranges, peeled
1 large grapefruit, peeled
1 lb organic carrots, tops removed
1 beetroot, peeled
2 inches peeled fresh ginger (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Wash and prep all ingredients.
  2. Run through a juicer extractor (citrus juicers won't work for this).
  3. Stir, skim off any excess foam, and serve over ice or chilled from the fridge.
  4. Consume the same day to take advantage of the fresh immune boosting juice!
Amy's Notes:
This juice was so pleasantly sweet from the fruit and carrots, but had a wonderful earthy taste from the beet.  I could tell after I had drank some of the juice my energy levels seemed to be up, and I was able to concentrate better as I worked.  I just know that all of those fresh nutrients are doing wonders to help my immune system fight off this cold.

As another note, I did not have ginger on hand to use in this recipe, but if I did, I would have tossed it in there.  Not only does it give any juice it is in a nice sweet, clean tang, but it is another great one for your immune system.

For those of you that are interested, here is some more information about the immune boosting power of all of the ingredients from my juice today:

Apples: Apples contain quercitin, a flavonoid antioxidant which has immune boosting properties. Quercitin reduces the incidence of the common cold, has anti-inflammatory properties, benefits the heart, reduces risk of cancer, and also helps prevent allergies. Since apples are abundant in the fall I always like to include them in my juice recipes. (source)

Oranges:  Juice from oranges give your body a kick of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Folate or Vitamin B-9, and Copper.  All are vital nutrients in a well functioning immune system.  (source)

Grapefruit:  Like oranges, grapefruit is packed with Vitamin C.  Vitamin C-rich foods like grapefruit may help reduce cold symptoms or severity of cold symptoms; over 20 scientific studies have suggested that vitamin C is a cold-fighter. (source)

Carrots: Carrots are one of the most overlooked vegetables for overall health. They benefit the heart, lungs, skin, eyes, and  immune system. Carrots contain beta carotene which fights infection. Other orange vegetables such as butternut squash, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes also contain beta carotene as well as vitamin C, another immune boosting nutrient. (source)

Beets: Beet juice does not only enhance the immune system; it can also benefit your health in other ways.  Some of the essential nutrients that are present in beet juice are beta carotene, vitamin C, carotenoids, sulfur, calcium, iron, manganese, and potassium choline.  This drink can improve the function of the brain, cleanse blood, and strengthen the gallbladder and liver.  (source)

Ginger root: Check out this list of reasons ginger is great for your immune system.

3.01.2014

Bountiful Basket 3: Conventional vs. Organic Produce

I hope everyone's Saturday is going well.  I just wanted to stop in real quick and show you the Bountiful Basket that I picked up this morning.  This is the first time my mom and I opted to pay $25 for an organic basket instead of $15 for a conventional basket.  Here is what we got:
  • 1 large bag of Brussels sprouts
  • 1 turnip (What the heck are we going to do with that?!)
  • 1 carton of beautifully red strawberries
  • 1 bunch rainbow chard
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 english cucumber
  • 3 large beets with greens
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 5 apples
  • 5 oranges
  • 4 limes
All in all, I thought it was a pretty good basket.  I could tell that the quality of the produce was a big step up from the conventional basket.  It felt like we got relatively the same amount of food volume-wise as the conventional basket.  The only perk with getting conventional is that they distribute any extra produce after the baskets have been sorted, whereas the organic boxes are a pre-packaged, closed box.  On the other hand, the organic box had some things I have never seen in the conventional box, such as beets with their greens still attached, actually ripe strawberries, and rainbow chard.  

Ok, I'll admit it... my name is Amy and I am addicted to food porn.  I mean, seriously, the rainbow chard and strawberries are georgous!  I have, over the last hour in between doing laundry and cleaning, went to the fridge to admire the strawberries more than a few times.  I have gone so far as to make the above picture my phone's lock screen wallpaper....hey, it is a great way to remember during the week what delicious and nutritious food I have to eat at home.  Life Hack!

What are your opinions on paying extra for organic over conventional?  Obviously food with less chemicals will be healthier for your body, but can you see or taste the difference?