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

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!

 

 

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.