So, What’s the Deal With that “Buddha Bowl” Bandwagon?

Lately, my entire Pinterest feed has turned into one continuous love letter¬†to the gloriousness that is a¬†Buddha Bowl. I’ve been hearing this term used more and more in wellness circles, but it’s taken me awhile to join the “Buddha Bowl Bandwagon.” Well, until last weekend anyway.

On a random Saturday night, the fianc√© and I were embroiled in our usual debate: should we make dinner reservations, grab some take-out, or just raid the fridge?¬†Laziness won out (’cause my spirit animal is a 65-year-old in threadbare sweats who¬†calls “lights out” before 10pm), so we settled on Option #3. Then,¬†inspiration struck‚ÄĒHey…I’ll make one of those Buddha Bowl things!

So, through¬†trial-and-error, I debunked the basic formula and concocted my own variation. And now that I’ve graduated¬†from¬†Buddha Bowl virgin to Buddha Bowl addict, I’m passing this formula along to you.

(WARNING: contents might cause obsession!)

how to make a buddha bowl

1. ¬† Building Blocks‚ÄĒWhat Components Will You Need?

  • The¬†Base:¬†choose a whole grain like quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, wheatberry or farro.
  • The Greens:¬†choose leafy greens like spinach, kale, arugula, chard or watercress.
  • The Protein:¬†choose a plant-based protein like chickpeas, almonds, beans, tempeh¬†or tofu.
  • The Extras:¬†choose veggies like sweet potato, broccoli, asparagus, carrots or avocado (okay…not a veggie, but still delish).
  • The Dressing:¬†choose a sauce¬†like the flavor bomb pictured above. Wanna make it? Then, stay tuned…

2. ¬† Assembly Required‚ÄĒHow Do You Put It All Together?

  • The First¬†Layer:¬†cook the whole grains according to their package instructions, then spread¬†onto¬†the bottom of your bowl.
  • The Second Layer:¬†arrange¬†a handful of leafy greens over the whole grain base.
  • The Third Layer:¬†oven roast the protein source (or, leave raw if desired and¬†safe to consume), then arrange over the leafy greens.
  • The Fourth¬†Layer:¬†steam the veggies until tender, then¬†arrange over the leafy greens.
  • The Top Layer:¬†drizzle the sauce to evenly coat the veggies. Oh, and here’s that recipe I hinted at earlier…blend together¬†1 red pepper, ¬† ¬† ¬† 1 garlic clove,¬†2 tbsp. lemon juice,¬†1 tbsp. olive oil,¬†1/2 tsp. paprika,¬†1/4 tsp. turmeric,¬†1/4 tsp. coriander¬†and¬†1/4 tsp. cumin.¬†Viola!
buddha bowl finished product

couldn’t resist posting ANOTHER shot of my finished product in all its glory

Alrighty. That’s the gameplan, people. So, welcome aboard that Buddha Bowl Bandwagon‚ÄĒwhere dinnertime dilemmas have met¬†their match!

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‚ÄĒaltered 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!

Superfood Spotlight: Edamame Goes Green for Spring

With the weather warming up‚ÄĒor¬†heating¬†up¬†if you’re a Sunshine State dweller like me‚ÄĒin preparation for¬†glorious spring, this time of year makes me crave all things green.¬†Especially in the kitchen, amiright?!

And because I’m feeling Green Goddess-y at the moment, my latest recipe sorta resembles a leprechaun explosion. St. Patrick’s Day is next week, after all! The perfect appetizer¬†for a weekend¬†cookout, this fresh and vibrant take on hummus¬†is also loaded with plant-based protein.

Gotta love health benefits disguised as flavor bombs, so feature this superfood spread at your next happy hour. Talk about a hit throughout swimsuit season!

Note: The recipe yields 6-8 servings, so you might need to adjust the ingredient count for larger gatherings. 

superfood snacking edamame hummus

Ingredients: 

1/2 c. Edamame (shelled)

2 tbsp. Grapeseed Oil

1 Garlic Clove (minced)

1 Lemon (juiced)

1/2 tsp. Cumin

1/4 tsp. Sea Salt

2 Thyme Sprigs

Preparation:

  1. Pre-heat a saucepan, filled with about 1 1/2 cups of Water, on a high stovetop setting.
  2. When the water reaches a boil, add the Edamame and reduce to a simmer until the they have cooked thoroughly.
  3. Turn off the heat and drain the edamame through a colander, then transfer them into a food processor or blender.
  4. Add the other Ingredients to the food processor or blender, then puree until smooth.

Serving Suggestion:

For a gluten-free alternative to store bought crackers or pita bread, enjoy this¬†Hummus¬†with sliced avocado and julienned tubers‚ÄĒlike carrots or parsnips.¬†This is also a deceptively delicious way to entice the kiddos with fresh veggies during those after-school snack attacks!

Summertime Fine with a Salad the Side

Summer is my favorite time of year for several reasons. Warm weather. Beach weekends. Fireworks. Outdoor cookouts. My birthday month. And fresh, vibrant, delectable veggies!

Speaking of summery produce in all its glory, this girl’s been busy testing new recipes lately. And, I’m pleased to report the results are successful.

Like…you should be so lucky to visit my kitchen.

Fortunately though, I’m bringing the deliciousness to you!

Who doesn’t love a seasonal salad — chock full of crisp, colorful, refreshing flavors? The following recipe offers just that with a zesty Asian twist. Better yet: it’s nutrient-packed, plant-based and 100% raw. So, treat yourself to seconds (or thirds!). I dare you to resist…

Thai Chopped Salad with Almond-Sriracha Dressing

Ingredients:

2 c. Romaine Lettuce (chopped)

1 c. Red Cabbage (chopped)

1 Red Bell Pepper (matchstick sliced)

1/2 c. Baby Carrots (matchstick sliced)

1/2 c. Garbanzo Beans

1/2 c. Raw Cashews

Thai Chopped Salad ingredients

For the Dressing:

3 tbsp. Soy Sauce (low-sodium)

2 tbsp. Almond Butter (all-natural)

2 tbsp. Agave Nectar

1/2 tbsp. Sriracha Sauce

Thai Chopped Salad dressing ingredients

Preparation:

1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the Soy SauceAlmond ButterAgave Nectar and Sriracha Sauce until smooth.

2. In a larger bowl, toss together the Lettuce, Red Cabbage, Bell Pepper, Carrots, Garbanzo Beans and Cashews until evenly distributed.

3. Drizzle the Dressing over the Salad, then roughly toss again to coat the dressing throughout before serving.

Thai Chopped Salad dressing

Thai Chopped Salad 1

Serving Suggestion:

Double the dressing ingredients to achieve a creamier texture, then dish up the salad over Brown Jasmine Rice for a curry-esque taste.

Quinoa Quesadillas (now, that’s fun to say!)

It’s Saturday night. Yours truly isn’t exactly in the mood for anything that doesn’t involve Netflix. Thus, I’m gearing up for a low-key evening in the comfort of my own humble abode¬†[read: bed].

But…then hunger strikes. What’s a girl to do?

Crank up the stove and start experimenting, of course!

So, tonight’s creation features a mash-up of flavors a la¬†Mexico and South America. I submit for your culinary seal of approval, my friends:

…drumroll, please

Quinoa Quesadillas!!!

Yup. These vegetarian delights are overloaded with protein, whole grains, and essential plant-based nutrients for a meal that will satisfy both your appetite and taste buds.

To utilize my limited command of the Spanish language (because, you know, just keeping with our theme), they’re fantastico.

Legitimate Spanish-speakers: is that actually a word?

Well, regardless…enjoy this delicious and nutritious recipe from my kitchen to yours!

Ingredients:

quinoa quesadillas ingredients

  1. 2 Whole Wheat Tortillas
  2. 1/4 cup Quinoa
  3. 1/4 cup Mushrooms (chopped)
  4. 1/4 cup Red Onions (sliced)
  5. 1/4 cup Tomatoes (chopped)
  6. 1/4 cup Cotija Cheese (crumbled)*

* Make this recipe vegan by substituting the cheese for Silken Tofu.

Preparation:

quinoa quesadillas preparation 1

quinoa quesadillas preparation 2

quinoa quesadillas preparation 3

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, cook the quinoa according to the package instructions.
  2. While the quinoa is simmering, prep the vegetables and cotija cheese (or vegan substitute).
  3. Pre-heat a small skillet over a medium stove top setting and coat with olive oil cooking spray.
  4. Remove the quinoa pan from heat and drain any remaining water, then set aside temporarily.
  5. Combine the mushrooms, red onions and tomatoes in the skillet, then saute them until softened.
  6. Remove the vegetables from heat after approximately 3-5 minutes and set aside temporarily.
  7. Re-coat the skillet with cooking spray and turn the stove top burner back to a medium setting.
  8. Place 1 tortilla¬†in the skillet and spread the quinoa evenly over it, leaving 1/2″ space along the edge.
  9. Add both the cotija cheese and sauteed vegetables, then place the second tortilla on top.
  10. Cook the bottom tortilla for approximately 2 minutes, or until it sizzles, then flip to the other side.
  11. Allow the second tortilla to cook for the same amount of time before removing from heat.
  12. Once the quesadilla has cooled slightly, cut it into 8 equal-sized wedges and ENJOY, of course!

quinoa quesadillas finished product

TA DA!!!

But wait…there’s more:

Serving Suggestion:

Cored avocado halves — mashed with a fork, drizzled in lime juice, then¬†dusted with just a hint of chili powder,¬†stevia and leftover cotija cheese —¬†make a fabulously bold side for this Latin-inspired dish.

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

8 Amazing Alternatives to 8 Recipe Ruiners

Living natural starts in the kitchen (naturally). But while a home-cooked meal kicks McDonalds’ ass any day of the week, you might not be aware of just how harmful some of the most basic and accessible cooking ingredients actually are. The result: even though you think your health is right on track, those sneaky little culprits are thwarting all your efforts. And you’re blissfully unaware as you shovel cheesy goodness down that gaping pie hole. (Well…what’s the problem?! The recipe said¬†vegetarian!).

Fear not though: I’ve compiled a list of delicious AND nutritious substitutions for the ingredients you love but won’t love you back. And the best part? Once you try these alternatives (or even get creative and experiment with your own ideas!), you’ll never notice the difference.

Well, maybe you will…but it’ll be a good difference. Trust me.


1. Instead of Butter or Margarine: Try pureed avocado, no-sugar-added applesauce, hummus, mashed black beans, or nut butters (e.g. cashew, almond, all-natural peanut)

2. Instead of Dairy: Try nut milks (e.g. almond, soy, hazelnut), seed milks (e.g. hemp, flax, chia, coconut), or grain milks (e.g. rice, oat,)

3. Instead of White Flour: Try ground quinoa, rolled oats, whole grain flours (e.g. spelt, millet, barley, buckwheat), or seed meals (e.g. pumpkin, sunflower, chia)

4. Instead of Sugar: Try agave nectar, chopped raisins or dates, cinnamon or nutmeg, brown rice syrup, or all-natural sweeteners (e.g. stevia, monk fruit)

5. Instead of Table Salt: Try herbs (e.g. basil, dill, rosemary, oregano), spices (e.g. cumin, tarragon, cracked red pepper), garlic, dried seaweed, or lemon zest

6. Instead of Sour Cream or Mayo: Try plain Greek yogurt, honey mustard, or Mediterranean spreads (e.g. tzatziki, baba ghanoush, olive tempenade, pesto)

7. Instead of Eggs: Try silken tofu, pureed fruits (e.g. bananas, pumpkins, apples), ground flaxseed paste, egg whites, or arrowroot powder

8. Instead of Vegetable Oil: Try heart-healthy oils (e.g. coconut, olive, avocado, palm), or 100% fruit juices (e.g. cranberry, pomegranate, carrot, beet, lemon, lime)

So, what are you waiting for?! Get in the kitchen and show those processed fake ingredients that they’ve finally met their match. (Spoiler alert: both your waistline and digestive system say “thanks!”).