2 Salad Recipes to Spring into Cookout Season

Outdoor entertaining is finally in full-bloom, so make your backyard the place. to. be. with my springtime spins on classic salad favorites.

First on the menu line-up, Asian Chicken Salad gets healthified by replacing those addictively fried wonton noodles with crisp and colorful matchstick veggies. Next, traditional Nicoise Salad gets revamped by swapping out anchovies and tomatoes for salmon and strawberries.

The final outcome? A “dynamic duo” of dishes that you’ll want to keep in your recipe repertoire all season long!

Note: To my vegetarian peeps, although both recipes are meat-centic, you can easily eliminate these components and turn the salads into side dishes instead of main courses.

springtime salad sensations

image courtesy of Nocoveglia via Flickr Creative Commons—altered with permission.

Asian Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

1 Chicken Breast (free-range)

2 Baby Bell Peppers (julienne sliced)

1/4 Red Cabbage Head (julienne sliced)

1 Carrot (peeled & chopped)

1/2 cup Edamame (steamed)

1/4 cup Raw Almonds (chopped)

2 tbsp. Soy Sauce (low-sodium)

1 tbsp. Sesame (or Olive) Oil

2 tsp. Rice Wine (or Cider) Vinegar

1 clove Garlic (minced)

1 tsp. Ginger (ground)

1 Lemon (juiced)

Preparation:

  1. Whisk together the Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Rice Wine Vinegar, Garlic and Ginger in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Place the Chicken into this mixture and set aside to marinate for about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Prep the Vegetables and Almonds according to the ingredient specifications, then transfer into a serving bowl and toss to combine.
  4. Preheat a skillet on the medium-high stovetop setting, then add the Chicken and marinade mixture.
  5. Sauté the Chicken for about 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked thoroughly, then remove from the skillet and cut into strips.
  6. Combine these Chicken strips with the other ingredients and drizzle the Lemon juice on top like a dressing.

Asian Chicken Salad


Salmon Nicoise Salad

Ingredients:

1 Salmon Filet (wild-caught)

2 cups Spinach (whole leaves)

1 cup Strawberries (sliced)

1/2 cup Gorgonzola (crumbled)*

1/4 cup Raw Walnuts (chopped)

2 tbsp. Balsamic (or Red Wine) Vinegar

1 tbsp. Olive Oil (extra-virgin)

1/4 tsp. Himalayan (or Sea) Salt

2 Thyme Sprigs (chopped)

1 Lemon (juiced)

*Make this recipe vegan by omitting the Gorgonzola or using these substitutes

Preparation:

  1. Whisk together the Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil and Himalayan Salt in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Place the Salmon into this mixture and set aside to marinate for about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Spread the Spinach on the bottom of a serving bowl, then prep the Strawberries, and Walnuts according to the ingredient specifications.
  4. Transfer these ingredients into the serving bowl, then add the Gorgonzola and toss to combine.
  5. Preheat a skillet on the medium-high stovetop setting, then add the Salmon and marinade mixture.
  6. Sauté the Salmon for about 3-5 minutes on each side, or until cooked thoroughly, then remove from the skillet and peel off its skin.
  7. Lay this Salmon filet over the other ingredients, then add the Thyme and drizzle the Lemon juice on top like a dressing.

Salmon Strawberry Salad

Got any seasonal salad creations of your own to share? Awesome…then, let’s get a recipe swap going in the comment section!

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How to “Dress” Up Your Daily Fruit & Veggie Quota {Guest Post}

According to research backed by the American Heart Association, people who habitually consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables experience a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease later in life. In fact, this study revealed that, of the 2500 test subjects monitored, women who ate about 9 daily servings and men who ate about 7 were 26% less prone to develop clogged arteries in older age.

In addition to supporting cardiovascular wellness, fresh produce contains essential nutrients like protein, antioxidants, fiber, and a plethora of other vitamins and minerals. So, incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet can yield balanced wellness and physical longevity.

The simplest, most straightforward way to boost your fruit and veggie intake is to replace that typical lunchtime sandwich with a crisp, colorful salad. Then, top it with this healthy homemade dressing which features the antioxidant-loaded nutritional supplement, Nutri Maqui. Your heart, immune system and other vital organs will thank you for giving them the nourishment they crave!


Nutri Maqui Superfruit Salad Dressing

Nutri Maqui salad dressing ingredients

Ingredients

 ½ cup Grapeseed Oil

1 tbsp. Nutri Maqui Superfruit Juice

1 tsp. Whole-Grain Dijon Mustard

½ tsp. Lemon Juice

Nutri Maqui salad dressing preparation

Preparation

  1. Pour all ingredients into a small decanter, then whisk until they are thoroughly combined.
  1. Chop a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and raw nuts (e.g. carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, raspberries, avocadoes, almonds, cashews), then arrange them over a bed of leafy greens (e.g. spinach, kale, arugula).
  1. Drizzle the dressing on top, then toss the salad to evenly distribute all ingredients before serving.

So. Many. Colors. Amiright?!

Nutri Maqui salad dressing before   Nutri Maqui salad dressing after


Huge thanks to Nutri Lifescience, LLC, for supplying the research, content and graphics for this post.

 

Creative Breakfast Ideas to Make Nutri Maqui Part of Your Morning Routine {Guest Post}

Nutri Maqui antioxidant support

Fueling your body with the health benefits of Nutri Maqui superfruit juice is an enjoyable experience for several reasons.

The essential nutrients this supplement provides – such as immune-supporting antioxidants and longevity-promoting flavonoids – will help you feel vibrant and energized throughout the entire day. So, start each morning with Nutri Maqui then simply reap the wellness rewards, no matter how demanding your schedule might be.

The rich, silky and slightly tart flavor of this naturally-formulated juice blend pairs perfectly with other nourishing noshes as well. The following recipes – packed with protein, vitamins and minerals from various fruits, leafy greens and whole grains – will turn that been-done-before breakfast into a powerhouse meal.

Just take a look at these tantalizing examples…

Nutri Maqui Energy Bowl (total prep time: 3 minutes)

Ingredients:

½ Apple (cored & sliced)

½ c. Berries (any variety, sliced)

¼ c. Cashews (raw & unsalted)

2 tbsp. Oats (whole grain)

1 tbsp. Nutri Maqui Juice

1 tbsp. Almond Butter (organic)

Preparation:

1. In a serving bowl, mix together the fruit, cashews and oats.

2. Drizzle the Nutri Maqui juice over the other ingredients and mix again.

3. Top the energy bowl with a dollop of almond butter.

Nutri Maqui energy bowl


Nutri Maqui Green Smoothie (total prep time: 5 minutes)

Ingredients:

1 c. Almond or Cashew Milk (unsweetened)

½ cup Kale (chopped)

½ Avocado (diced)

1 tbsp. Almond Butter (organic)

1 tbsp. Nutri Maqui Juice

½ tbsp. Matcha Powder (organic)

2 tsp. Oats (whole grain)

½ tsp. Stevia (organic)

Preparation:

1. Place all the ingredients together in a blender.

2. Puree until the smoothie texture is smooth and creamy.

Nutri Maqui green smoothie


Nutri Maqui Greek Yogurt (total prep time: 1 minute)

Ingredients:

1 c. Greek Yogurt (plain)*

1 tbsp. Nutri Maqui juice

2 tsp. Blue Agave Nectar (organic)

1 tsp. Cinnamon (or, to taste)

Note: Make this recipe vegan by substituting Greek Yogurt with a non-dairy alternative like Coconut Yogurt.

Preparation:

1. In a serving bowl, mix together the yogurt, agave and Nutri Maqui juice.

2. Top the yogurt with a desired sprinkling of cinnamon.

Nutri Maqui yogurt


Nutri Maqui Pancakes (total prep time: 10 minutes)

Ingredients:

1 c. Whole Wheat Flour (organic)*

½ c. Water (add more if necessary)

½ Banana or Avocado (as a binding agent)

½ c. Strawberries (for topping, sliced)

1 tbsp. Nutri Maqui Juice

1 tbsp. Almond Butter (organic)

2 tsp. Cacao Powder (raw & organic)

½ tsp. Stevia (organic)

* Note: Make this recipe gluten-free by substituting Whole Wheat Flour with a GF alternative like Flaxseed Meal.

Preparation:

1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, “binder” fruit, cacao, stevia and Nutri Maqui juice.

2. Add water until the texture becomes smooth, like batter, and mix again.

3. Heat a skillet on a medium stove setting and coat the bottom with cooking spray.

4. Ladle ¼ of the batter into the skillet and cook until it starts bubbling.

5. Flip the pancake on its other side and cook for about the same     amount of time.

6. Repeat steps 4–5 with the remaining batter until you have 4 pancakes.

7. Top the pancakes with almond butter and sliced strawberries.

Nutri Maqui pancakes

Every morning can set the tone for embracing a wholesome, balanced lifestyle if your body gets its daily dose of Nutri Maqui antioxidant benefits.

Have these ideas inspired you to create your own breakfast concoctions? Comment with more Nutri Maqui recipes below!

Huge thanks to Nutri Lifescience, LLC, for supplying the research, content and graphics for this post.

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

Believe the Hype: Juicing Is Your Brand New “Bestie”

…When it’s done right, anyway.

While I don’t necessarily advocate going on a 100% juice diet (there is something to be said for detoxing your system periodically…just not enough evidence yet to support this trend with science), juicing – as a nutrient-rich snack, sweet-tooth satisfier, or breakfast supplement – is a tasty way to sneak that recommended daily dose of fruits and veggies into your diet. So, blend up some wholesome deliciousness, and let’s drink to good health!

(Just be warned: juicing as a meal replacement should be cleared with your doctor beforehand).

juicing   

(image courtesy of healthyjuiceblends.com)


For a Metabolism Boost:

  • The Fruit: 1/2 cup strawberries (sliced)
  • The Veggies: 1/2 cup spinach (chopped)
  • The Protein: 1/4 cup Greek yogurt (plain)
  • The Liquid: 1 cup green tea (brewed)
  • The “Extra”: 1 tsp. cinnamon (ground)

For a Clear Complexion:

  • The Fruit: 1/2 cup watermelon (cubed)
  • The Veggies: 1/2 cup kale (chopped)
  • The Protein: 1 tbsp. walnuts (chopped)
  • The Liquid: 1 cup coconut water (unsweet)
  • The “Extra”: 1 tsp. turmeric (ground)

For a Healthy Heart:

  • The Fruit: 1/2 cup red grapes (sliced)
  • The Veggies: 1/2 cup carrots (chopped)
  • The Protein: 1 tbsp. peanut butter (organic)
  • The Liquid: 1 cup almond milk (unsweet)
  • The “Extra”: 1 tsp. honey (raw & organic)

For a Strong Skeleton:

  • The Fruit: 1/2 cup banana (sliced)
  • The Veggies: 1/2 cup watercress (chopped)
  • The Protein: 1/4 cup oats (whole grain)
  • The Liquid: 1 cup rice milk (unsweet)
  • The “Extra”: 1 tsp. ginger (ground)

For an Immunity Kick:

  • The Fruit: 1/2 cup apricots (sliced)
  • The Veggies: 1/2 cup sweet potato (mashed)
  • The Protein: 1/4 cup egg whites (whipped)
  • The Liquid: 1 cup orange juice (organic)
  • The “Extra”: 1 tsp. cloves (ground)

For an Energy Injection:

  • The Fruit: 1/2 cup avocado (sliced)
  • The Veggies: 1/2 cup cucumber (chopped)
  • The Protein: 1 tbsp. almonds (chopped)
  • The Liquid: 1 cup beetroot juice (strained)
  • The “Extra”: 1 tsp. dark chocolate (70% cacao)

Clean Up Your 4th of July Cookout

Hotdogs and baked beans are so 1776.

Fire up the grill, gather some friends, and serve these even better alternatives to a traditional all-American BBQ. Your backyard is sure to be this year’s block party hot-spot long after the fireworks display fades out.


Chick Pea Veggie Burgers (yields 6 – courtesy of Best Grilling Tips and Recipes)

  • Ingredients:
  1. 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
  2. 1 cup water
  3. 2 16-oz. can chickpeas (rinsed & drained)
  4. 1 red bell pepper (seeded & halved)
  5. 1 red onion (quartered)
  6. 1/2 cup olives (sliced)
  7. 6 cloves garlic
  8. 3/4 cup feta cheese (crumbled)*
  9. 1 egg (or 2 egg whites)
  10. 1/4 cup Italian dressing
  11. 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  12. 1 tbsp. dried parsley
  13. 1 tsp. black pepper
  14. 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs**
  15. 6 whole wheat pita pockets

*If your dietary needs exclude dairy, substitute extra-firm tofu soaked overnight in lemon juice.

**If your dietary needs exclude gluten, substitute crushed GF Rice Chex cereal.

  • Preparation:
  1. Boil the water in a small pot and add the brown rice, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot.
  2. Allow the rice to simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it is tender and the water has absorbed.
  3. Preheat the grill to 450 degrees (Fahrenheit) and coat a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray.
  4. Once the chickpeas have dried off from being rinsed, transfer them to a mixing bowl and mash with a fork.
  5. When the chickpea mash becomes thick and pasty, set the mixing bowl aside temporarily.
  6. Put the pepper, garlic, olives, and red onion into a food processor and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped.
  7. Strain the excess water out of this veggie mixture, then add to the mashed chickpeas and stir thoroughly.
  8. Pulse the cooked rice and feta cheese (or tofu) in the food processor, then stir into the chickpea mash.
  9. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, Italian dressing, oregano, parsley, garlic, and black pepper.
  10. Add this mixture to the chickpea mash as well, then stir in the bread crumbs until the mash holds its shape.
  11. With your hands, form 6 patties and place them on the greased sheet of aluminum foil.
  12. Coat the grill grate with cooking spray, then place the aluminum foil holding the patties on the grill.
  13. Cover the grill and cook the burgers for about 20 minutes, flipping them once after 10 minutes.
  14. Place 1 burger inside each pita pocket and serve with any condiments of your choosing (I suggest a dollop of plain Greek yogurt mixed with 1 tsp. olive oil).

chick pea burgers   

(image courtesy of thedailyspud.com)

Chili & Lime Corn-on-the-Cob (yields 6 – courtesy of All Recipes)

  • Ingredients:
  1. 6 corn-on-the-cob ears (husks removed)
  2. 3 cups water
  3. 1/2 cup lime juice
  4. 1 tbsp. chili powder
  5. salt and black pepper (to taste)
  • Preparation:
  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and coat the grate with cooking spray.
  2. Pour the water into a mixing bowl and add the corn, then let them soak for 5-10 minutes.
  3. In another mixing bowl, combine the lime juice, chili powder, salt, and pepper, then set this mixture aside temporarily.
  4. Remove the corn from the water, dry them off completely, and place on the heated grill grate.
  5. Cook the corn cobs for 3-5 minutes on each side, turning periodically and brushing on the chili mixture as you turn them.

corn on the cob   

(image courtesy of allrecipes.com)

Quinoa, Black Bean & Mango Salad (yields 6 – courtesy of Skinny Taste)

  • Ingredients:
  1. 1 15-oz. can black beans (rinsed & drained)
  2. 1 cup cooked quinoa
  3. 1 cup corn (off the cob)
  4. 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
  5. 1 mango (chopped)
  6. 1/4 cup red onion (diced)
  7. 1/2 cup cilantro (chopped)
  8. 1 jalapeno pepper (seeded & diced)
  9. juice from 1 lemon or lime
  10. 1 1/2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  11. 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  12. 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  13. 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  14. 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • Preparation:
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the quinoa, black beans, mango, corn, pepper, cilantro, onion, and jalapeno.
  2. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon (or lime) juice, chili powder, turmeric, cumin, garlic, and olive oil.
  3. Drizzle this mixture over the quinoa salad, then refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

quinoa salad   

(image courtesy of skinnytaste.com)

Minty Rosewater Lemonade (yields 6 – courtesy of Banglish Kitchen)

  • Ingredients:
  1. 2 cups water
  2. 1 bunch mint leaves (chopped)
  3. 1 1/2 cups Stevia powder or organic honey
  4. 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  5. 3 tsp. rosewater*

*You can typically purchase rosewater at Middle Eastern ethnic markets.

  • Preparation:
  1. Boil the water in a medium-sized pot, then add the mint leaves and Stevia powder (or honey).
  2. Continue boiling this mixture, stirring occasionally, until the sweetener has dissolved in the water.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the lemon juice and rosewater, then allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Remove the lemonade from the heat, pour it into a pitcher, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  5. Add some ice cubes and more lemon juice or sweeter to taste, then refrigerate the lemonade for another 15 minutes before serving.

rosewater lemonade   

(image courtesy of sunandglory.com)

Berry & Tapioca Parfaits (yields 6 – courtesy of Fat Free Vegan Kitchen)

  • Ingredients:
  1. 3 cups almond milk (divided)
  2. 1/3 cup tapioca pearls
  3. 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  4. 3 tbsp. agave nectar
  5. 1/2 vanilla bean (split lengthwise)
  6. 1 lb. strawberries (washed & stemmed)
  7. 1 pint blueberries (rinsed & drained)
  • Preparation:
  1. Put the tapioca and 2 1/2 cups of almond milk in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Turn the heat down to a simmer and continue to cook this mixture for 15-20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the cornstarch and 1 tbsp. of the remaining almond milk and set aside temporarily.
  4. When the tapioca pearls have become translucent, add the remaining almond milk, 1 tbsp. agave nectar, and vanilla bean to the pan.
  5. Return the heat to a slow boil and continue to cook and stir for another 5 minutes.
  6. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the pan and cook for another 5 minutes or until the pudding thickens.
  7. Remove the pudding from the heat and transfer it to a metal bowl and scrape out the vanilla bean.
  8. Place the metal bowl in an ice bath and allow the pudding to chill for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Slice the strawberries into quarters and pulse them in a food processor with 2 tbsp. agave nectar, then divide the puree into 6 glasses.
  10. When the pudding has cooled, divide it equally among the 6 glasses on top of the strawberry puree.
  11. Refrigerate the glasses for at least 15 minutes before serving, then top with a generous amount of blueberries.

parfait   

(image courtesy of blog.fatfreevegan.com)

15 Snacks to Get You Through the Day Without Undoing Your Diet

Need an afternoon pick-me-up halfway between lunch and dinner? Well, next time you find yourself poking around for the Cool Ranch Doritos, nibble on these guiltless goodies instead:

1. Frozen Grapes: put approximately 30 (1 cup) red or green grapes in a large Ziploc bag and store inside the freezer for a minimum of 2 hours

2. Apples & Nut Butter: core 1 apple and cut horizontally into thin slices, then spread 1 tbsp. nut butter (I suggest almond) on 2 slices and press them together to make a “sandwich”

3. Carrots & Hummus: peel and slice 2 large carrots into fourths or simply grab 10 pre-cut baby carrots and serve with 2 tbsp. organic hummus

4. Edamame & Sea Salt: boil approximately 10 (1 cup) edamame pods, then shell the individual beans and sprinkle with a few pinches of sea salt

5. Greek Yogurt & Honey: swirl together 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt (preferably nonfat) and 1 tsp. organic honey, then top with fruit slices or a dash of cinnamon

6. Green Tea Smoothie: put 3/4 cup of green tea, 2 tbsp. plain Greek yogurt, 2 tsp. agave nectar, and 6 ice cubes in a blender and puree until smooth

7. Baked Kale Chips: slice the stems off 1 bunch of kale and tear into bite-size pieces, then drizzle with 1 tsp. olive oil and cook in the oven at 400 degrees until crisp

8. Toasted Almonds: place approximately 20 (1/4 cup) whole almonds in an ungreased skillet and sautee over medium-heat until golden brown

9. Avocado & Lime Juice: peel and thinly slice 1 avocado, then coat the slices with 2 tsp. lime juice and top with a few dashes of organic stevia powder

10. Oatmeal & Berries: boil 1/2 cup of whole grain rolled oats in 1 cup of water, then mix with an assortment of fresh berries (I suggest blueberries or raspberries)

11. Spiced Orange: slice 1 orange in half horizontally and sprinkle with a mixture of organic stevia powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves

12. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: lightly brush 1 tsp. olive oil over 2 tbsp. pumpkin seeds and cook in the oven at 400 degrees for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown

13. Tomatoes & Feta: dice 1 medium-sized Roma tomato and mix with 1 tbsp. feta cheese, then top with a few squeezes of lemon juice or 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

14. Dried Mango: peel and slice 1 mango and brush with 2 tsp. agave nectar, then bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 185 degrees, flip each slice and cook for another 30 minutes

15. Egg White Scramble: sautee 1/4 cup raw spinach and 1 clove of garlic in a skillet on low heat, then add 2 egg whites and scramble until fluffy