Summer Eats, (Slightly!) Slimmed-Down

I say “slightly” because some of the ingredients featured in these recipes aren’t as —¬†errrhealthy as they could be. For example, Brioche is used rather than a more nutritious whole wheat alternative.

But, hey…Sometimes you just gotta have those comfort carbs!

(Alright. I confess: my eating habits are, in fact, subject to slip-ups. You caught me. I’m human, too!)

Anywho, since May is underway, classic warm weather¬†favorites¬†are making their seasonal debut, and in my kitchen, I can’t resist showcasing those fresh ‘n airy flavors all day long — from breakfast to dinner!

Whether you crave¬†“brekky” in bed or a poolside cookout this weekend, here’s what I’ve got in the works to tickle your summertime¬†taste buds:


First, on the menu…Who’s up for¬†brunchin’ it?!

AVOCADO & ALMOND BUTTER PROTEIN PANCAKES

Ingredients:

1/2 Hass Avocado

1 c. Whole Wheat Flour

1 Egg (omit if Vegan)

3 tbsp. Water

1 tbsp. Agave Nectar

1 tbsp. Almond Butter

1 tbsp. Whole Grain Oats

Preparation:

  1. Peel and core the halved Avocado, then transfer it into a small mixing bowl and mash until smooth, as though you’re making guacamole.
  2. Add the Flour,¬†Oats, Water, Egg (unless, of course, you’re vegan!),¬†Agave Nectar and Oats¬†into the mixing bowl, then combine all the ingredients together thoroughly.
  3. Coat a small skillet with non-stick Cooking Spray and pre-heat the skillet on a medium stovetop setting.
  4. Spoon the desired amounts of Batter into the skillet, then cook evenly on both sides, about 2-3 minutes each.
  5. Transfer the Pancakes onto a plate and allow them to cool slightly, then top each pancake with a dollop of Almond Butter.

avocado pancakes


And, now for round two…Did someone say¬†din-din?!

TANGY CUCUMBER, LEMON & DILL SALMON BURGERS

Ingredients:

1 Skinless Salmon Fillet

2-3 Cucumber Slices

2 slices Brioche (I used St. Pierre)

1 Garlic Clove

1 tbsp. Lemon Juice

2 tsp. Lemon Zest

1 tsp. Dried Dill Weed

2 tbsp. Feta (sub. for Cashew Cream if vegan)

1/4 c. Plain Greek Yogurt (check out this non-dairy guide if vegan)

Preparation:

  1. Coat a small skillet with non-stick Cooking Spray and pre-heat the skillet on a medium stovetop setting.
  2. Place the Salmon in the skillet and saute evenly on both sides until the fish is cooked thoroughly, about 5-7 minutes each.
  3. While the fish is cooking, whisk the Yogurt, Garlic, Dill, Lemon Juice and Lemon Zest together in a small bowl, then set aside temporarily.
  4. Place the Brioche slices in a toaster until they turn golden-brown and crispy, then transfer them onto a plate.
  5. Spread a thin layer of the Yogurt Sauce on each Brioche slice and place the Salmon on one of the slices.
  6. Garnish with the Cucumber slices and crumbled Feta (or cashew cream), then place the remaining Brioche slice on top.
  7. Serve this¬†Salmon Burger¬†alongside a tropical fruit medley — such as Mango, Kiwi and Avocado.

salmon burger

(In other news: it just occurred to me that I might be suffering from an Avo-Addiction.)

4 Dinner Ideas for an Easy & Speedy Midweek Meal

Once you’re over the…well, hump…of Hump Day, it’s often downhill in the dinner department. We’ve all experienced that struggle of¬†keeping things semi-creative in the kitchen when all we¬†really want is to order take-out and pretend it’s Friday.

However, there’s no reason for a midweek meal to suffer just because schedules are tight or¬†“foodie” inspiration is lacking. ¬†The following recipes are super simple to make, have “proven crowd pleaser” written all over them, and take up less than 20 minutes of your precious time. Plus, they feature wholesome ingredients for a guiltless chorus of “I’ll have seconds!”

A couple caveats: These are single serving recipes, so if you’re cooking for more than just yourself, double (or triple or…quadruple?) the ingredients. Also, some recipes call for cheese, so if you prefer vegan or dairy-free diets, you’ll need to either find a suitable substitution or omit the cheese¬†altogether.

Now, without further ado,¬†I present your solution to that infamous Is it the weekend yet???”¬†din-din dilemma…


For a Mexican Fiesta:

Mango & Avocado Quesadillas

  • Ingredients
  1. 1/2 mango
  2. 1 hass avocado
  3. 2 whole wheat tortillas
  4. 1 block low-fat Gouda
  • Preparation
  1. Peel and dice the mango into bite-sized chunks, then do the same with the avocado.
  2. Grate the Gouda cheese and measure out 1/2 cup of the resulting shreds.
  3. Grease a small skillet with cooking spray, then heat it on a medium stove-top setting.
  4. Place 1 tortilla in the pre-heated skillet, then spread the shredded cheese evenly on top.
  5. Layer the avocado and mango chunks over the cheese and top with the other tortilla.
  6. Cook the bottom tortilla for approximately 3 minutes, or until the cheese starts sizzling.
  7. Flip the quesadilla over and cook the other tortilla for the same amount of time.
  8. Allow the quesadilla to cool slightly before cutting it into triangular  slices.

* Side Suggestion: serve this dish alongside a black bean and corn chutney


For an Asian Chow Down:

Vegetarian Thai Red Curry

  • Ingredients
  1. 1 cauliflower head
  2. 1 red potato
  3. 1/2 red onion
  4. 6 mint leaves
  5. 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
  6. 2 cups light organic coconut milk
  • Preparation
  1. Chop the cauliflower into small florets, then wash the florets in a strainer.
  2. Peel the potato and chop it into bite-sized chunks, then do the same with the onion.
  3. Grease a large skillet with cooking spray, then heat it on a medium stove-top setting.
  4. Add the cauliflower, potatoes, and onions to the pre-heated skillet, then sautee for 10 minutes.
  5. Pour in the coconut milk and Thai red curry paste, then turn the heat up to a boil.
  6. Stir this mixture vigorously until the coconut milk starts to bubble, then reduce the heat to medium.
  7. Continue sauteing this mixture, while stirring constantly, until the coconut milk has thickened.
  8. Allow the curry to cool slightly before mincing the mint leaves and sprinkling them on top.

* Side Suggestion: serve this dish alongside honey-infused jasmine rice (brown variety)


For a Mediterranean Spread: 

Garlic Couscous Greek Salad

  • Ingredients
  1. 2 cups couscous
  2. 1 block low-fat feta
  3. 1 cup spinach
  4. 1/2 red onion
  5. 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  6. 1/2 cup kalamata olives
  7. 1 tbsp lemon juice
  8. 2 tbsp olive oil
  9. 1 clove garlic
  • Preparation
  1. Fill a medium-sized pot with 3/4 cup of water, then heat on a high stove-top setting.
  2. Once the water has reached a rolling boil, add the couscous, garlic, and olive oil.
  3. Stir this mixture vigorously for approximately 1-2 minutes, then reduce the heat to low.
  4. Cover the pot and allow this mixture to simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
  5. Grate the feta cheese and measure out 1/2 cup of the resulting shreds.
  6. Finely slice the cherry tomatoes, red onion, spinach, and kalamata olives.
  7. Once the couscous has absorbed all the water, add the feta and vegetables to the pot.
  8. Stir this mixture thoroughly until all the ingredients are combined evenly.
  9. Allow the couscous salad to cool slightly before pouring in the lemon juice.

* Side Suggestion: serve this dish with a grilled whole wheat pita toast point


For an Italian Trattoria: 

Margherita Flatbread Paninis

  • Ingredients
  1. 3 basil leaves
  2. 1 Roma tomato
  3. 1 piece whole wheat Naan
  4. 1/2 part-skim mozzarella ball
  5. 1 tbsp organic basil pesto
  • Preparation
  1. Spread the basil pesto evenly over the smooth side of the Naan flatbread.
  2. Thinly slice the tomato and mozzarella, then place each slice on 1 half of the Naan.
  3. Layer the basil leaves side-by-side on top of the tomato and mozzarella slices.
  4. Fold the other half of the Naan over the layers of tomato, mozzarella, and basil.
  5. Transfer the Naan onto an open panini press or George Foreman grill.
  6. Close the lid of the panini press or grill and cook for approximately 3 minutes.
  7. Once grill marks appear on both sides, remove the panini from the heat.
  8. Allow the panini to cool slightly before slicing it in half, diagonally.

* Side Suggestion: serve this dish alongside balsamic vinegar-drizzled tomato wedges

Fall Has Fallen Into My Kitchen…

This past weekend, I visited a farmer’s market in the historic downtown section of my Southwest Florida stomping grounds. Even though autumn in my neck of the woods doesn’t necessarily mean colorful leaves and blustery wind gusts, we beach babes still get into the seasonal spirit.

So, – like I was saying before I went off on a “Floridians love this time of year too” tangent – I went to a farmer’s market. And I came home with an butternut squash, a bag full of apples, and other freshly-picked, locally-sourced fall-ish produce.

Then, I set to work putting these farmer’s market finds to use. And if you’re gonna whip up some autumnal comfort food, you might as well do it right. You might as well make soup.

Butternut squash soup. Butternut squash soup with apples. Sprinkled with aromatic spices on top. Warm, hearty, soothing. Ahhhhhh!

So, yeah. From my “fall friendly” kitchen to yours…here’s the recipe:


  • Ingredients:
  1. 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock (low sodium)
  2. 1 butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
  3. 1/2 red onion (chopped)
  4. 1 apple (peeled and chopped)
  5. /2 tbsp. ground nutmeg
  6. 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  7. 1/4 tsp. sea salt

butternut squash soup ingredients

  • Preparation:¬†
  1. Combine the butternut squash, apple and union cubes in a medium-size pot, then pour in the vegetable/chicken stock.
  2. Cover the pot and place it on a stove-top burner, then turn the heat up to high until the stock has reached a rolling boil.
  3. Uncover the pot and reduce the heat to low, then let this mixture simmer for approx. 10 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
  4. Remove the pot from heat and pour this mixture into a blender, then puree until the soup is thick and smooth.
  5. Pour the soup back into the pot and turn the heat on low, then simmer for a few extra minutes, while stirring constantly.
  6. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then give the soup another quick stir. (Side note: I also found that tossing in 2-3 packets of organic Stevia added a lovely sweet and savory combination to this recipe.)

butternut squash soup before

butternut squash soup after

  • Serving Suggestion:

I prefer¬†my winter veggie soups on the slightly sweet side, so I mixed 1/4 cup plain coconut milk into the soup, which added some creaminess to the texture and perfectly complemented the squash’s already nutty flavor.

butternut squash soup with coconut milk