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

Fresh from the Market: France 2017

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I’ve had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in France this past month through the University of Minnesota. I’m so excited to come back and share some amazing recipes and talk about my experience with you all! I’ve been exploring Paris, Nantes and Angers while learning about the agriculture and food systems. One of the highlights of this trip was visiting the beautiful farmers markets with my host mom every Saturday. I have never been happier being surrounded by an abundance of fruits and veggies, all grown locally and organically.

The first thing I noticed was the connection to food in this country. I’ve been visiting so many organic farms with my classmates and it’s truly incredible to see the value that people put into their food. I’ve noticed that most French people are aware of where their food comes from and really strive to buy produce that was grown in France.

My message to you: shop local and know where your food comes from!

Some of the best apricots and cherries I’ve eaten on this trip came from my host family’s backyard. Also the best Camembert cheese I’ve tasted came from a small farm, where I got to meet the cows and watch the farmer produce the very product that he loves.

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Some amazing goat cheese I bought ❤

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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)

Health Benefits of Vitamin D3

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that plays an essential role in the human body. It is also known as the “sunshine” vitamin because you can absorb it through 15-20 minutes of sun exposure. However, during this time of year (October-March), people living in the Midwest/Northern latitudes may be deficient due to insufficient sunlight in the winter.

Living in Minnesota, I know I don’t get a lot of sunlight, especially since I’m cooped up inside watching Gossip Girl. Hey, it’s winter break. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  This winter I decided to take a supplement to counter my inevitable deficiency.

Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to osteoporosis, higher blood pressure, diabetes, mood disorders and higher rates of certain cancers. It is so important to get enough, especially since it can impact up to 2000 genes in our bodies! Vitamin D is essential for bone health, immune functions and mental health.

Vitamin D works with vitamin K in our bodies to help absorb calcium into our bloodstream and help deposit calcium and phosphorus into our bones. This is why I chose to supplement with both Vitamin D3 & K2. Also, taking this vitamin in a liquid form is more beneficial than capsules because our bodies can more easily absorb it.

 

Vitamin D is also fat soluble, meaning that it is best absorbed when eaten with a good quality fat or a full meal.

Food sources of Vitamin D3:

  1. salmon
  2. tuna
  3. mackerel
  4. egg yolks
  5. cod liver oil

Health Benefits of Vitamin D3:

  1. boosts immune system
  2. improves bone & teeth health
  3. aids in calcium absorption
  4. destroys bad bacteria and viruses
  5. increases energy levels
  6. improves mood, combats seasonal affective disorder
  7. helps manage a healthy body weight
  8. improves DNA repair
  9. reduces risk of autoimmune disorders
  10. fights infections
  11. decreases blood pressure

Dosages may vary depending on your individual needs. A safe amount to start with is 1000 IU, but be sure to speak with a health care professional to get the appropriate amounts.

I put one drop in my smoothie: kale & spinach (yay more vitamin K), frozen banana, frozen strawberries, 1 tsp. coconut oil, 1 tbsp. chia seeds, 1 tbsp. cacao powder, water. Blend & enjoy good health. 🙂

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! 🙂

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! 🙂

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!