Posts tagged ‘salad’
Farmers Markets were not something I frequented while living in Boston. While there were some great ones to choose from, I was intimidated by the crowds and the price tag. Since moving, however, Dan and I have become major converts to all of the fun, fresh, local ingredients that you can find at the market. While certain items can still be pricey, there can be some great deals on seasonal fruits and vegetables that all begged to be picked at once. We have also learned that there are some things that are worth the extra dollar or two! The best part is getting to know the vendors and supporting local business. We are on first name basis now with “The Egg Lady” and know who has the best tasting tomatoes or the best prices on lettuce. We go every weekend that I have off for some staples (eggs, seasonal vegetables, and occasionally some local berries or peaches) and allow ourselves one splurge per visit (usually locally-raised meat, fancy cheese, a bottle of local wine, etc.)
Here are some of the things we have found lately!
Staples: Seasonal Green Vegetables
One of my menu planning strategies is to not plan my vegetable sides. Why? This allows me to look for deals on what looks best or has the best price at the market. I am able to make a list generated by the main component of the meal for the grocery store, and then make sure I pick up 4-5 varieties of vegetables to accompany my meals for the week! Some of my farmers market favorites are zucchini, sweet corn, and lettuce, as these are low-fuss to prepare during the week and are usually abundant. The most notable find, however, was this gigantic bunch of kale grown by the local middle school gardening club that I picked up for just $2!
Worth it: Eggs
Farm fresh eggs are worth every extra penny, in our opinion. Not only do the chickens that lay them live a happier and healthier life, but the resultant quality of the eggs is incomparable to anything you could get in the grocery store. Not a believer at first, my husband directly compared a cage free, organic egg from Trader Joe’s to one from our favorite vendor at the Delmar Farmer’s Market. While the egg at Trader Joe’s was sunshine yellow, there was no comparison to the golden yolk that came from the farm fresh egg. The egg whites are also less runny, which means that our fried eggs are much easier to cook perfectly. He is now such a convert that we are now on first name basis with the egg vendor, and may even head to their farm one weekend to meet the chickens and pick our own dozen!
Not convinced? Here is a picture of our typical Sunday morning breakfast. Drool.
Treat yourself: Flowers
For weeks, I had been eyeing the gorgeous zinnias and dahlias, lusting after the gorgeous colors. While flowers are never cheap, some farmers market bunches can run upwards of $10 for a small bouquet. Since they are not a necessity in our weekly budget, I held out for the perfect occasion to splurge on these beauties. Finally getting the new table that my sister and brother-in-law hand-crafted for me seemed like the perfect occasion!
Putting it all Together: My Favorite Meal
One of my favorite meals from the summer is actually one of our simplest. We put together a salad from the bounty we had picked up at the market the day before, and boy was it good! The base was a baby lettuce blend with arugula, topped off with cucumbers, local aged goat-milk cheese, and a poached egg. I also threw in a handful of sweet strawberries that we picked ourselves at a local farm, and finished the salad with a simple balsamic vinegar reduction. I wish salads always tasted this good!
Question: Are you a farmers market fan? Share some tips and favorite finds below!
Summer happened overnight in Boston, it seems. It has been warmer here than it has been in Southwest FL for the past few days! Now that is hot. When my thermostat reads 88F INSIDE the house, there is absolutely no way you can convince me to turn the stove on for longer than absolutely necessary, let alone even think about using the oven. I have survived 4 Boston summers with no A/C, but if it stays this hot for much longer I might break!
To beat the heat, I end up eating a lot of salads in the summer. While I love my leafy greens, salads don’t have to be so monotonous. Here are some of the things I have been making lately:
A lovely, multi-colored, Mexican-inspired salad that is sure to brighten up any meal. I mixed mine all together right away and have enjoyed it for lunch for the past few days. You can eat it plain, serve it as a side for taco night, or even fill a tortilla with it! For those of you afraid of the long ingredient list, most of the work is just simple veggie chopping! Jicama is the most unfamiliar ingredient, but is a wonderful, naturally sweet, tropical starch-y vegetable that adds great crunch and flavor. I can see this recipe easily becoming a summertime lunch staple! I think it would be fun to turn it into a layered jar salad the next time I make it!
Who said fruit salads are just for dessert? This Mango Blueberry Quinoa Salad also makes for another great lunch salad! The lemon-basil dressing is refreshing, and the blueberries and mangoes are unexpected but delicious. This is a must-make for any fruit lover!
The last summer salad I made to go along with these delicious Chipotle Shrimp Burritos with Avocado Crema. I would highly recommend these burritos – simple, spicy, and flavorful. I cheated on the avocado crema and simply mixed a store-bought packet of guacamole with a spoonful of Greek yogurt, some extra cilantro and lime. To balance out the spicy shrimp, I kept the salad on the lighter side. This literally came together with the odds and ends left in my fridge, freezer and pantry from the week! The palmitos are acidic, soft, and refreshing. The edamame provides protein and substance, and the corn has a great natural sweetness. The dressing is heavy on lime, giving it a nice, fresh summer flavor. It reminds me of a grown-up version of succotash with a little South American flavor. It could easily be made into a main meal by adding some avocado and increasing the portion size!
Question: How do you stay cool on hot summer days? My favorite response from a friend: “I eat popsicles in my underwear.”
serves 3-4 as a side dish
1 can hearts of palm (palmitos), drained and sliced
1 1/2 cups shelled edamame, cooked according to package instructions
2 ears corn, steamed (about 1 1/2 cups if using frozen)
1 cup loosely packed cilantro, minced
3 scallions, greens and whites, sliced
3 limes, juiced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt and garlic powder (or to taste)
Cook the edamame according to package instructions. Allow to cool. Steam the corn for 3-4 minutes. Once cool, cut the kernels from the cob. Mix the corn, edamame, and sliced palmitos together in a bowl. Add the sliced scallions and minced cilantro. Whisk together dressing of lime juice, olive oil, and rice wine vinegar. Season to taste with salt and garlic powder, then stir to combine. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
You guys remember my awesome roommate, right? She has made her appearance a few times on this blog, mostly during our crazy roommate dinner adventures… You may recall the voluminous winter melon soup mishap or this tasty sugar-free apple crisp we created together. She is getting married in less than a month (yay!) and I was excited to think of creative ways to make her feel loved for her bridal shower a week ago.
First, the non-food details! I had the week leading up to the shower off from school and studying, and so unleashed a bit of my crafty side in making these party favors. The small potted plants were her original idea for wedding favors, but the dirt and the size made them a bit impractical at her venue. Since we held her bridal shower in a park, I decided to make her idea a reality! The 4-inch pots are cheap, about $1 each at the hardware store. The flowers were also bundled in bulk, and so came at a steep discount. The signs also came together easily with some cardstock, popsicle sticks, and gel pens. My grandma and sister were a great help and sat for an hour on the patio with me, making each of the 25 “Let Love Grow Wild” signs in assembly line fashion. I think they came out well, and everyone loved them!
Another paper craft, this time made by a good friend’s mom. On the shower invitations, we asked everyone to bring a recipe for my roommate and her fiance to try out in their new kitchen! We gave her this book to help organize the recipes she has collected, as well as her new ones to try! This book is brilliant: there are blank cardstock pages to paste in printed recipes or ones cut out from magazines, and there are envelopes to store cards from friends and relatives. I have one of my own and I love it! I use it often to write down what I am making for the blog, which helps me to stay organized. If you are interested in getting one for yourself, contact Debbie at Life Is A Special Occasion (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
Now, onto the food. Since it was an afternoon affair, we served light picnic fair. I picked up a veggie platter at Costco, enlisted my wonderful boyfriend to carve me a watermelon basket for fruit salad, and threw together a quick Greek pasta salad. This salad has no mayonnaise, which makes it an ideal picnic and cookout side without fear of food poisoning. It also has some great bold flavors from the onions, feta, and olives. The dressing, borrowed from Ina Garten, brings the whole salad together. I made this in bulk, but halved the recipe below for more family-style cooking. If you are confused on the quantity of ingredients, I used entire standard-size jars of each ingredient labeled in ounces for the bulk recipe. (For example, a 6-oz jar of olives.)
Use your creative license with this salad – add some chickpeas, stir in some celery. Make it yours and bring it to your next summer party!
Greek Pasta Salad
1 boxes whole wheat elbow macaroni
3 oz pitted kalamata olives, drained and sliced
6 oz roasted red peppers, drained and diced
5 oz cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1/2 c feta
1 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (1/2 tbsp fresh)
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, slice the olives, red peppers and red onions and add to a large mixing bowl. Quarter the cherry tomatoes and chop the artichoke hearts; add to the bowl. In a separate small bowl, mix together the garlic, herbs, oil and vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the vegetables. Stir to combine. Add the dressing and stir until well coated. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, then add the feta. Serve cold or at room temperature.
There is a standing joke among a few of my friends that I eat “rabbit food.” Just because my favorite food group is vegetables and have compulsive buying problems when produce goes on sale does not mean that my food is fit for bunnies. Vegetables should never be bland! Health food is not the twigs and grass salads of old… Just ask my friends in my Bible study who enjoyed this salad with me! On first glance, it is a healthy shade of brown, and there are pieces of veggies sticking out of every spoonful. However, this salad is addictive. One guy told his wife, “See, I could eat something like this every night of the week!” Everyone loved it so much they asked for the recipe – good thing I took a few pictures to post on my blog. ;)
The salad was inspired by a Google search of Israeli cous cous salads, which led me to the Food Network. It combined some of my favorite summer veggies and flavors, and I could not pass up the craving since summer weather was premature in Boston this past week! (80+ degrees on Thursday, in Boston, in March?!) I decided to adapt it to use roasted instead of grilled veggies, and added some wheat berries for extra texture. This was such a good idea – the chewiness added a lot of depth to the texture of this salad. The result is a filling and healthy salad that will never be mistaken for “rabbit food” again! The leftovers are even better as the flavors come together, and are great over mixed salad greens for a little extra veg!
Great Grains Salad with Summer Vegetables
adapted from this recipe, serves 8-10
2 cups Harvest Grains Isreali cous cous blend
1 cup wheat berries
1/4 cup +3 T Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 T Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 small yellow squash, roughly diced
1 small zucchini, roughly diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 T dried basil
2 T dried parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine garlic, olive oil, 1/4 cup of the vinegar, and 1 T of the mustard. Stir to combine. Add cut vegetables and coat; let sit for 15-20 minutes. Spread vegetables onto a greased baking sheet, reserving leftover marinade. Roast vegetables for 10-15 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Meanwhile, prepare the cous cous blend and wheat berries, separately according to package instructions. Mix the grains, vegetables and remaining marinade together. Allow to cool. Before serving, mix together the remaining 3 T vinegar with 1 T mustard. Dress the salad, add the dried herbs, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate and serve cold or room-temperature
Salads seem to be the pinnacle of healthy eating for many people – they can be a great way to load up on veggies, cut back on calories, and feel light and clean. However, salads can also be pretty unsatisfying. My friend, who is trying to be healthier for her New Years Resolution, is famous for her complaint. “I had a salad for lunch, and I’ve been starving all day!” It is always disappointing when your $12 salad from the salad bar leaves you wanting more just an hour later! Salads that are too low in calories can be a bust for any dieter, since it will lead to unintentional and mindless snacking later. Salads can also be unassumingly high in calories as well! At many chain restaurants and fast food establishments, salads contain more than 600 calories, which is more than most dieters bargain for. If most of these calories are coming from salad dressing and low-protein, high fat toppings, hunger will strike more quickly as well. So how do you make a salad that will stick with you but not on you?
In order to make salad eating more sustainable, I have figured out a few tricks to help me stay full and satisfied throughout the afternoon. First of all, portion control does not apply when it comes to salad bases. I have polished off a whole head of Romaine lettuce in one sitting before! Salad bases can include more than just lettuce, too. I include other veggies, like broccoli, peppers, carrots, or spinach as part of my salad base. They are voluminous but not calorie-dense, so volume is not as important. Next comes the good stuff, the stick to your ribs in a healthy sort of way. Avocado, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit help add flavor, interest, and dimension to a salad. This makes it less boring, more satisfying, and more filling. Protein is also important, whether it is through beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, etc. My favorite salad topping is chickpeas! Last step is the dressing: I am not a fan of pre-made salad dressings since they tend to have a lot of added salt and sugar, and can often be laden with hidden chemicals. My stand-by dressing is Balsamic vinaigrette, but recently have enjoyed some unexpected oil-free combinations. Hummus and Balsamic vinegar can make an interesting creamy salad dressing, and nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, almond milk and water make for an interesting cheesy dressing. Salad dressing and toppings can be the place where calorie counts creep up on salads, so portion control is more important here. However, using real ingredients to make your salad satisfying will help keep your body running well!
My recent and unexpected favorite salad add-on: roasted Kabocha squash. Kabocha squash, also called a Japanese pumpkin, is a sweet, orange squash that I have recently come to love. I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, and then sliced it into squash fingers. After sprinkling these with chili powder, cumin and salt, I roasted them in a 350 degree oven for about a half hour. I sliced the squash from the rinds and then cubed it over a giant salad base of Romaine lettuce. I added some green peppers, carrots, chickpeas, and avocado. Topped off with the unexpected nutritional yeast-mustard dressing, I was in salad beast heaven. I actually made this dinner two nights in a row, it was that good! The squash that wasn’t added to my salad was enjoyed like sweet potato fries, dipped in a bit of BBQ sauce. I will definitely have to get another squash before the winter squash season is over!
Question: Are you a salad fan? What is your favorite salad combo?
Happy Wednesday everyone! I have had the best few days at home and have thoroughly taken advantage of my vacation from school. For anyone still facing 2 more days at work, keep that sweet holiday vacation in the forefront of your mind… Christmas will be here soon! My days have been filled with baking Christmas cookies, making awesome meals with my mom and sister, crafting, gift wrapping, and relaxing on the sofa. I could get used to being this spoiled with so much free time pretty quickly! Here is a peek into my day that isn’t spent hunched over textbooks for hours on end. Be sure to check out Peas and Crayons and the WIAW link party for other weekday meal ideas.
I enjoyed sleeping in and waking up to no alarm. I caught up on some blog reading from bed on my phone, snagged a handful of peanut butter pretzels, and then went out for a short run. I am finally over the worst of my head cold and was itching to get outside. I only made it a mile, but it felt good to just get out and get moving. After a short set of free weights and a shower, I made eggnog spiced oatmeal. I am not a huge fan of eggnog because it is too thick and sweet, but like the way this hints at the Christmas time classic. A little banana for natural sweetness, with vanilla and rum extracts, cinnamon and nutmeg for eggnog flavor. I loved it the way it was, but my sister added a bit of brown sugar to make it taste more like classic eggnog. A great and filling holiday breakfast either way!
My mom is much better stocked with salad veggies and fun condiments than I am, so I enjoyed making a killer salad for lunch. Red leaf and romaine salad, carrots, radishes, snap peas, roasted broccoli, goat cheese, and black bean and corn salsa – salad heaven! With a slice of bakery bread on the side, I could barely finish! My eyes were bigger than my stomach, and I had to sacrifice a few of the snap peas.
I spent the rest of the day at my friend’s house for a crafternoon. I am really excited about what I made, all out of recycled magazine pages! The top is a coaster, then a pair of earrings, and what will soon become a necklace. I was Pinspired again, and was happy to have a few hours to kill making a craft. It is much easier than it looks, so check out the tutorial and give it a try.
My mom and I love coming up with dinner creations based on what we have lying around the fridge and pantry, and tonight’s meal was a definite winner! We sauteed up about 1/3 head red cabbage, 1/2 head green cabbage, 1/4 of a large red onion, and 4 grated carrots in some sweet ginger sauce, and then made vegetarian dumplings out of them. A quick boil to cook the shell, and dinner was ready! Enjoyed with some shelled edamame and what was left of the dumpling filling for a delicious, vegetarian meal! (My dad has had
vegetarian vegan dinners 3 nights in a row now without too much complaining – now that’s a good dad!)
My sister and I made our last batch of Christmas cookies, so of course some taste testing had to happen! We like to create characters out of our Gingerbread men, so I chose to eat the “Running Man Gingy” since I love to run! These were our best ever Gingerbread men, and our best looking ones too! If you are looking for Christmas cookie recipes, check out my posts from earlier this week, and stop back tomorrow and Friday for the last two!
Question: Are you on vacation yet, or are you still counting down the days?