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

Apple Cider Vinegar Health Benefits 

Every morning I drink either lemon water or apple cider vinegar water. It’s so important to hydrate your body first thing in the morning, and adding 1 tbsp. of ACV has so many amazing benefits. Check out my post about lemon water too if you’re interested!

  1. Promotes good bacteria due to probiotics
  2. Regulates pH
  3. Detoxifies the body
  4. Balances blood sugar levels
  5. Aids in weight loss
  6. Boost energy
  7. Clears sinuses + helps fight allergies
  8. Good facial toner (put on cotton pad and gently wipe on skin)
  9. Good hair conditioner (put in spray bottle and use as leave in conditioner)

Tomato Appreciation 

This year we planted and incredible variety of tomatoes in our garden! Over the summer I have gotten to enjoy the most amazing tomatoes of my life! So sweet, juicy and addictive.

Health benefits of tomatoes:

  • High in Vitamin C
  • Good for skin, high in beta carotene
  • Lowers blood sugar levels
  • Improves bone health
  • Lowers risk of cardiovascular disease due to the antioxidant lycopene
  • Boost immunity

I made caprese salad with them! Check out my Instagram for more pictures!

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies 

I made these amazing chocolate chip cookies! They use whole, healthy ingredients and definitely satisfy a sweet tooth.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup organic butter or coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used dairy free)

Preheat oven: 350 degrees F

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar until creamy. Add egg and vanilla, combine. In a small mixing bowl, blend in flour, baking powder and salt. Combine with creamed mixture. Fold in chocolate chips (I usually start with 1/3 cup)

Form into balls, line greased sheet pan, bake: 10 mins

Enjoy!

 

 

Health Benefits of Raw Honey 

I love using raw honey as a sweetener instead of processed white sugar! I use it in my oatmeal, pancakes, tea, baking desserts and even using it as a nightly face cleanser. It is a versatile ingredients that has so many amazing health benefits. Raw honey is better than  processed honey because all the vitamins, nutrients and enzymes are all intact.

Health benefits of raw honey: 

  • Anti-viral and anti-fungal properties
  • Relieves cold and flu
  • Heals sore throats
  • Fights allergies
  • Boosts immune system
  • Improves digestion
  • Supports good bacteria
  • Promotes healthy skin

Detox tea: 

– 1/4 lemon, squeezed

– 1/2 inch ginger

– 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

– 1 tbsp. Raw honey

I love making this tea when I wake up in the morning or before bed. It is very soothing and creates a warming sensation. The honey gives it the perfect amount of sweetness.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread 

Dear reader, this is seriously the best banana bread I have ever made. I am so excited to share this recipe with you because it turned out amazingly! 🙂

I’ve been interested in baking lately so I went to Whole Foods and picked up some ingredients to make this delicious vegan banana bread. Here are the ingredients that you will need:

  • 2 + 1/2 ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. almond milk
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup walnuts

1) Mash 2 and a half bananas – set aside

2) Combine coconut oil, coconut sugar, flour, baking soda, maple syrup, cinnamon and almond milk in a large mixing bowl

3) Add mashed bananas and stir until combined

4) Add chopped walnuts and dairy free chocolate chips

5) It should look something like this 🙂

6) Line a loaf pan with coconut oil and/or parchment paper

7) Fill and garnish the top – I added more chocolate chips, walnuts and the other half of the banana

8) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and bake for 35-40 minutes

9) Cool completely before cutting and serving

10) Enjoy

Health benefits of spelt flour:

  • Good for digestion (soluble and insoluble fiber)
  • High in vitamin B6, niacin, manganese, folate and magnesium
  • Lowers blood sugar levels
  • Reduces high blood pressure
  • Supports immune health
  • Low gluten

Health benefits of coconut sugar:

  • Low glycemic index (slow absorption of sugar into the bloodstream)
  • Builds strong bones
  • Regulates blood sugar levels and blood pressure
  • Prevents and manages hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes
  • Supports brain health
  • Aids in weight management
  • 16 vital amino acids

 

A New Found Passion


Gardening has been a tradition at our house for as long as I can remember. My parents have tended a family garden every summer, and each year we have an abundance of fresh produce. As a kid it seemed like no big deal, but now I am realizing how fortunate I am to be surrounded by homegrown veggies. Of course my dad does all the hard work, and I take credit by taking pictures and cooking amazing meals. 🙂

There is so much beauty in growing your own food. Taking care of a plant or watching something grow from a seedling is more rewarding than I have ever imagined. It takes hard work, patience and dedication. Watering, weeding, harvesting – and chasing away bunnies takes a lot of energy.

I love being able to wake up every morning and pick out veggies for my breakfast, or get home from work and pick out my dinner for the evening. It’s an amazing feeling to have so much variety at my fingertips.

This year, I started paying attention to all the labor that goes into having a garden. I became passionate about growing my own vegetables and using them different recipes. I definitely want to carry on the tradition and have a garden of my own one day to share with those I love. My boyfriend and I even planted a couple of potted vegetables to experiment with.

This summer my family planted a plethora of vegetables, as usual. We have more cucumbers than we know what to do with and our tomatoes have just started ripening. I am amazed at how much everything has grown in just a few short months.

Beautiful heirloom and cherry tomatoes. According to my dad, we had 34 tomato plants this year!

3 types of kale: Russian, curly and lacianto (or dinosaur) kale

Zucchini, squash, eggplant

So many herbs! I consider myself to be the herb queen because I always find an excuse to use them in recipes. Mint, sage, rosemary, thyme, sweet basil, Thai basil and chives.

More beauties

My boyfriend and I planted basil, rosemary, cherry tomatoes and jalapenos.

Me and my baby

I love sharing my passion with him and I love watching him get excited about plants. We ran into some trouble with the bunnies and squirrels (it turns out we weren’t the only ones who were waiting for our veggies to grow) but we still have so much amazing produce! Pesto and salsa are definitely on the menu this summer. It’s a learning experience for the both of us and I can’t wait to do it again next summer.

Smoothie of the day #3

Post run pick-me-up! Smoothies are great for a breakfast as well as a snack. I had this before my internship at Spoonriver Restaurant!

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 ripe banana
  • Handful of blueberries
  • 2 stalks of kale
  • 1 tbsp. Almond butter
  • 1 tbsp. Chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup Almond milk

Health benefits of Kale:

  • vitamin C
  • anti-inflammatory
  • healthy vision
  • vitamin K
  • potassium
  • antioxidants
  • cardiovascular support
  • lowers cholesterol
  • fiber = detox

Health Benefits of Blueberries:

  • lowers blood pressure
  • Antioxidants
  • lowers risk of heart disease
  • aids in digestion
  • prevents cancer
  • anti-aging
  • boosts memory
  • improves eyesight

Smoothie of the day #2

I ran out of pretty much everything in my fridge so this is what I had for breakfast! Smoothies are great because you can add any leftover fruits/veggies you have on hand.

  • 1 stalk of kale (that I picked from our garden)
  • 1/2 cup Spinach
  • 1 frozen banana
  • handful of frozen blueberries
  • handful of strawberries
  • 1/2 mango
  • 1/2 cup Almond milk
  • Coconut flakes, goji berries and chia seeds on top

It totally matches the grass! 🙂