How to Make a Salad that Doesn’t Suck

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We get it. You think salads are boring, unsatisfying and the epitome of diet food. But munching on greens doesn’t have to suck! If you don’t like salad, you probably don’t know how to make a good one. Delicious salads (or any food) should be colorful, vibrant and fresh with lots of interesting components. I promise you won’t feel the need to eat pizza after you make one of these amazing salads. They will keep you full and help you get in more veggies in your diet!

How to Make a badass Salad:

1) Use an Array of Greens!

Ditch the lettuce! Your salad will be infinitely better with other delicious and nutritious greens. Experiment and find a mix that you like.  Try kale, spinach, and arugula or even add some herbs!

2) Add Textures and Color

Make your salad interesting by adding something crunchy. Good quality croutons, nuts and seeds are what I like best. You can even add other crunchy veggies like celery, cabbage or shredded carrots. The options are endless!

3) Add protein & Healthy Fats

This will keep you full and make the salad satisfying. If you eat meat, try add some chicken, steak or seafood. I almost always add cheese because, well, everything is better with cheese!

More options:

  • Avocado
  • Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans
  • Hummus
  • Chickpeas
  • Hard-boiled egg

 4) Add Fruit or Additional Veggies!

Use whatever you have in the house! Don’t overcomplicate it by adding too many ingredients. Maybe some strawberries or dried cranberries? Olives? Radishes? Use what you like and make it work for you! One of my favorite summer combinations is: Spinach, strawberries, goat cheese, walnuts and lemon vinaigrette! Don’t be afraid of adding fruit!

5) Make your own Dressing!

It’s always going to be easy to buy a bottle of salad dressing from the grocery store, but making your own is so simple and more beneficial. You can control all the amounts and ingredients. Lots of processed salad dressings can contain unnecessary ingredients and emulsifiers. Try sticking to an oil & vinegar based dressing rather than a creamy one.  A good salad always needs some type of acid – lemons, limes, balsamic or apple cider vinegar is the way to go.

 

Here are some of my favorite go-to dressings!

Methods: Use a whisk and a small bowl to combine ingredients or find a small mason jar and shake until the oil and vinegar everything is emulsified.

The most simple Lemon Vinaigrette: ½ lemon squeezed, 2 tbsp. olive oil, sea salt & black pepper

Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette: 1 clove of crushed garlic, 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. raw honey, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, sea salt & black pepper

Maple Tahini Dressing: 2 tbsp. tahini paste, 1 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. organic maple syrup, a squeeze of lemon or vinegar, sea salt & black pepper

Herb Vinaigrette: ½ lemon squeezed, 2 tbsp. chopped herbs (basil, parsley or thyme), 1 tbsp. raw honey, 2 tbsp. olive oil, sea salt & black pepper

Easy Seafood Paella

I was inspired from my trip to Spain to make this amazing regional dish! Full of bold flavors, spices and the most amazing rice you will ever taste!  Paella is definitely my new favorite food and I was so excited to come home and attempt to make it myself. The concept is very simple – just rice, veggies and any meat or seafood. It turned out so amazing and I am happy to share the recipe with you!

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Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Arborio rice
  • 2 cups approx. chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 cup red and green bell peppers
  • ¼ cup frozen green peas
  • ¼ cup artichokes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. black pepper or cayenne pepper
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Your choice of seafood: I used shrimp & mussels
  • 1/8 cup fresh parsley

Method:

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  1. Prep rice, seafood and broth ahead of time – cut peppers and veggies into bite sized pieces
  2. In a cast iron pan or deep skillet, cook peppers in olive oil for 4-5 minutes until slightly softened.
  3. Add rice and “toast” for 2 minutes
  4. Add peas, garlic and any other vegetable, stir for 1 minute. Artichokes and green beans are also common.
  5. Add broth to the mixture and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes until rice is cooked. Cover and stir occasionally. Add more broth or water as needed.
  6. During this time you can cook the seafood separately or add it on top of the rice 5-10 minutes before it is done. The heat from the pan will cook the seafood. Be sure to cover with lid.
  7. Top with parsley and serve
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Cook peppers for in olive oil, add rice and “toast” for 2 minutes

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Add peas and any other vegetables you’d like! Cook for 1 minute

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Add chicken or veggie broth and simmer for 30-40 minutes

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Final product w/ fresh parsley! Enjoy

Pro Tips:

  • Saffron is usually used to give the rice a golden color. Since it is the most expensive spice in the world, I used turmeric as a substitute. Real Paella uses saffron! If you can find it, use it!
  • Traditionally, Arborio rice is used for paella, but I used a combination of short grain brown rice and Arborio. Use what you have! Any rice will work.
  • Make your own chicken or veggie broth! If you have leftover chicken or old veggies you need to use up, there’s no excuse not to make one! I made my own veggie broth using leftover carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes, basil, oregano, bell peppers, and zucchini. I simply sautéed the veggies in some olive oil and poured in 2 ½ cups of water once the veggies had cooked for 6-7 minutes. I let is simmer for about 20-30 minutes.
  • Adjust amounts of broth and rice accordingly. If you like your rice more tender, add more broth.
  • Add any seafood, meat, or keep it vegetarian! In Spain I had both chicken paella and seafood paella. Use what you have and make it work for you!
  • If you like your veggies to keep more texture in the dish, saute them less time in the beginning of the recipe. I like my peas and peppers to keep their color (and nutritional value!)

Smoothie of the Day #8

Smoothie Ingredients:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Ginger
  • Lemon
  • 1 frozen banana
  • Handful of Strawberries
  • Maca Powder
  • Chia seeds

I used 1 tsp. of maca powder & 1 tbsp. chia seeds
I put everything in a blender & added a frozen banana to make the smoothie creamy!

Amazing! This is truly my favorite color! 🙂

Health benefits of Maca Powder:

  • Increases energy
  • reduces oxidative stress
  • improves memory
  • helps balance hormones
  • Supports thyroid health
  • improves cognative function
  • High in iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium ❤

 

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

What do you do when you have leftover ripe bananas AND zucchini? Make this delicious zucchini bread of course! I made two batches last week and they are already gone (in my belly). This is the perfect breakfast, toasted and slathered with almond butter, or the easiest snack to just grab and go!

This zucchini bread is made with spelt flour, coconut sugar, coconut oil and dairy free chocolate chips! It is so simple to make, and very delicious. Oh, not to mention spiked with cacao powder for that double chocolate-y goodness.

Baking with zucchini is a really great way to get veggies into your diet without even trying! You wont taste the zucchini because it has such a mild flavor, but you will see little green specks. I highly recommend keeping the skin on because that is where a lot of the nutritional benefits are. For those of you who have never used zucchini before in your baking, get ready to be amazed!  Shredded zucchini  makes your bread (or cake) super moist.

Here are the ingredients that you will need:

  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1 1/2 cup of shredded zucchini
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup dairy free chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup of coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (maple syrup or honey also works)
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup of walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1) combine mashed banana, coconut oil, shredded zucchini, eggs, vanilla and coconut sugar in a large mixing bowl

2) add spelt flour, cacao powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and sea salt: stir until barely combined

3) add chocolate chips and walnuts!

4) pour batter into a greased loaf pan (I used coconut oil) & top with more walnuts and chocolate chips if desired 🙂

5) bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Let it cool completely before slicing!

6) enjoy! 🙂

Zucchini health benefits:

  • helps improve digestion
  • reduces blood pressure
  • helps maintain eye health
  • good source of antioxidants, vitamin C and potassium!
  • anti-inflammatory
  • rich in B vitamins
  • reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
  • aids in weight loss

Cacao powder health benefits: 

  • high in antioxidants
  • rich source of magnesium
  • helps build strong bones
  • detoxifies the liver
  • regulates blood sugar levels
  • anti-aging properties
  • improves your mood (due to the phenethylamine)

Vegan Falafel Recipe 

I’ve been craving falafel recently so I decided it was finally time to make some! I grew up eating Mediterranean food but if you are unfamiliar with falafels, I would describe it as a crispy, chickpea fritter. They are so delicious and unbelievably easy to make! This was my first attempt, and I am happy to announce it was very successful. Healthy, protein-packed, vegan, gluten free deliciousness. Please give these a try!

Here are the ingredients that you will need:

  • 1 cup of chickpeas (canned or dried & soaked for 24 hours)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro (or parsley)
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tbsp. of millet flour (or spelt flour for non-gluten free option)
  • squeeze of lemon

Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you get a crumbly – wet sand consistency

You can use any kind of flour, but I chose organic millet flour. Millet is nutrient dense; it has B vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium – all essential for good health.

Taste for salt. Seriously, these will be sub-par if they are under seasoned!

If you squeeze the mixture, it should hold its shape. If not, add more flour as needed.

Form into balls or patties and pan fry in olive oil until crispy. It should take about 3 minutes per side. Don’t be afraid of frying! People have done studies measuring the amount of oil before and after frying.When done properly, it’s remarkable how little oil is actually absorbed. Having said that, you can also bake these at 350 for 20 minutes.

Mmmm…. I put them on some salad and drizzled with tahini! Sooo amazing!

The inside should be nice and fluffy, with a crispy outside. Enjoy! 🙂

Smoothie of the Day #7

  • Handful of spinach 
  • Frozen mango chunks 
  • 1 frozen banana 
  • Fresh pineapple chunks 
  • Hemp seeds 
  • Almond milk 

Overnight oats:

  •  1/4 cup of steel cut oats
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk
  • pinch of cinnamon 

-Combine ingredients in a sealable container and store in the fridge overnight for the perfect oatmeal! 

Healthy Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

This is my favorite chocolate chip muffin recipe! I always make it when I have too many ripe bananas that are past their prime.This recipe is easily adaptable, and you can use the same batter for making banana bread. Here are the ingredients that you will need:

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (or maple syrup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (or walnuts)

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line muffin tins

2) In a large mixing bowl, combine mashed bananas, coconut oil, eggs, cinnamon, almond milk, coconut sugar, salt and vanilla extract

3) Add spelt flour, baking soda and chocolate chips (I used dairy free) and mix until well incorporated.

4) Fill muffin tins 3/4 of the way full, and bake for 12-15 minutes. Feel free to top with extra banana, walnuts or chocolate chips.

5) Let cool completely before serving. Makes 18-20 muffins

6) Enjoy! 🙂