Fall for Pumpkin Protein Balls this Season (See What I Did There?)

I look forward to October every year for one simple reason: it’s Pumpkin Everything Season! And despite living in Southwest Florida where the temperature rarely drops below 60 degrees, once autumn shows up on the calendar, I morph into that girl.

pumpkin-everything-season

Yep, I’m basic apparently. So sue me. Fall is a glorious time. And pumpkins are a direct result of that gloriousness.

These seasonal superfoods are rich in Vitamin A to promote vision health, Fiber to increase digestive regularity, Antioxidants to support immune function, Potassium to stimulate post-workout energy and Carotenoids to reduce skin aging effects.

Plus, they get all the Instagram likes, so…

But I digress. If you wanna experience those nutritional benefits for yourself, not just during autumn but year-round too (Why isn’t the PSL Summer Edition a thing? Looking at you, Starbucks!), might I suggest these no-bake Pumpkin Quinoa Protein Balls.

They’re perfect for a healthy plant-based breakfast or afternoon snack. And, all basicness aside, they taste like fall is supposed to taste. *insert brown leaf emoji*

I rest my case.

pumpkin-quinoa-protein-balls

yields 2 dozen protein balls

Ingredients:

1 can Pumpkin Purée (organic)

1 tbsp. Sunflower Butter (organic)

1/3 c. Rolled Oats (whole grain)

1/4 c. Quinoa (organic)

1 Apple (peeled & diced)

1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Spice

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/4 tsp. Ginger

pumpkin-quinoa-protein-balls-ingredients

 Preparation:

  1. Cook the quinoa according to its package instructions, then set aside.
  2. Combine the pumpkin purée, rolled oatssunflower buttercinnamon, ginger and pumpkin spice in a mixing bowl.
  3. Slice the apple into small chunks, then stir into the pumpkin mixture.
  4. Add the cooked quinoa to the pumpkin mixture, then stir these ingredients until thoroughly combined.
  5. Divide the batter into bite-sized balls and place in the freezer for 1 hour before serving.

pumpkin-quinoa-protein-balls-batter

pumpkin-quinoa-protein-balls-before-photo

pumpkin-quinoa-protein-balls-after-photo

So. Much. Yes.

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!

Superfood Spotlight: Edamame Goes Green for Spring

With the weather warming up—or heating up if you’re a Sunshine State dweller like me—in 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—like carrots or parsnips. This is also a deceptively delicious way to entice the kiddos with fresh veggies during those after-school snack attacks!

Let the Side Dish Take Center Stage this Holiday Season

Yeah, sure…Thanksgiving was a week ago. But that’s no reason to take the seasonal eats out of rotation. Not yet, anyway.

And definitely not before you’ve tried my Cranberry, Orange & Pecan Chutney. This recipe is vegan, refined sugar-free and contains natural ingredients. With a tart and tangy flavor, full-bodied texture and festive color combo, this crowd-pleasing side dish will make your holiday celebrations both merry and bright.

Plus, cranberries are extremely nutrient-dense (we’re talking antioxidants, fiber and Vitamin C!). So…there’s that.

Cranberry Relish recipe

Ingredients:

12-oz. Cranberries (fresh)

1 c. Orange Juice (freshly squeezed)

1/2 c. Raw Pecans (chopped)

2 tbsp. Orange Zest

1/2 tbsp. Liquid Stevia

1/4 tsp. Black Pepper

Preparation:

  1. Pre-heat a large stockpot on a high stovetop setting, pour in the Cranberries and Orange Juice, then bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and allow this mixture to simmer until the Cranberry skins start popping.
  3. Add the Liquid Stevia, then gently stir the mixture with a wooden spoon, while it continues to simmer.
  4. Remove the mixture from heat until it cools to room temperature.
  5. Strain the Cranberries in a colander and reserve the Orange Juice.
  6. Pulverize the Cranberries to a chunky consistency with a potato masher, then stir in the Orange Zest and Black Pepper.
  7. Pour the reserved Orange Juice into this mixture, stir to combine,       and refrigerate until cold.
  8. Sprinkle the chopped Pecans on top right before serving to add             a little extra crunch.

Cranberry Relish close-up

Cue. All. The. Drools.

Fall Into the Season’s Freshest, Healthiest & Yummiest Flavors

In this week’s installment of “Who-Cares-If-I-Live-In-Florida-It’s-Fall-So-I’m-Gonna-Eat-Fall-Food-Dammit,” enjoy my seasonal take on a vegetable stir-fry. This rustic recipe might look simple and understated, but it’s bursting with savory warmth, aromatic spice and pick-me-up heartiness. Plus, that quinoa hiding underneath gives the dish a nutty nuance, which just screams “Happy Almost Holidays!”

Autumn Veggie Quinoa Bowl

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Quinoa (rinsed)

1 Sweet Potato (peeled & cubed)

1 cup Chickpeas (drained & rinsed)

1 cup Brussels Sprouts (fresh)

2 tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

2 cloves Garlic (minced)

1 tbsp. Lemon Juice

1/4 tsp. Smoked Paprika

1/4 tsp. Sea Salt (or, to-taste)

Preparation:

  1. Pre-heat a saucepan on a high stovetop setting, add the Quinoa and 1 cup Water, then stir to combine.
  2. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, reduce the heat to low, then add 1 tbsp. Olive Oil and 1 clove Garlic.
  3. Stir to combine again, cover the saucepan and allow the Quinoa to simmer until the Water is absorbed — about 20 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat a large skillet on a medium stovetop setting, coat the bottom with nonstick cooking spray, then toss in the Vegetables.
  5. Add the remaining 1 tbsp. Olive Oil, 1 clove Garlic, Paprika and Lemon Juice to the Vegetable medley, then stir periodically until the Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts soften.
  6. Combine the Quinoa and Vegetables in the skillet, sprinkle Salt and more Paprika, — if desired — then dig in!
sweet potato brussels sprouts and chickpea quinoa bowl

And, behold…comfort food at its colorful, delectable best!

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

A Smorgasbord that Just Screams “Summer!”

Summertime may be halfway over, but that doesn’t mean outdoor cookouts should come to a screeching halt.

Au contraire!

There’s still a forecast of several sunny days ahead to embrace the refreshing, bold, and colorful flavors of this glorious season. So, put those thoughts of pumpkin spice lattes on the back-burner and get back into the summer spirit.

Here’s a light and tasty dinner idea that’s sure to both beat the heat and please the palate!


Fish Tacos (yields 4 servings)

2014-07-26 19.44.17   

  • Ingredients:
  1. 4 corn tortillas
  2. 1 avocado (diced)
  3. 1 mango (diced)
  4. 1 cup cabbage (shredded)
  5. 1/2 cup organic salsa
  6. 2 salmon fillets
  7. 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Preparation:
  1. Cut the salmon fillets into bite-size chunks.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan on medium-high.
  3. Saute the salmon in the olive oil until cooked thoroughly (flaky).
  4. Toss the mango, avocado, and salsa together in a mixing bowl.
  5. Warm the tortillas in the oven (350 degrees) until slightly crisp.
  6. Slice the cabbage into thin shredded pieces (like coleslaw).
  7. Assemble the tacos in this order: fish, cabbage, salsa mixture.

Watermelon Salad (yields 4 servings)

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  • Ingredients:
  1. 1 cup watermelon (cubed)
  2. 1/2 cup feta cheese (crumbled)*
  3. 2 tsp. mint leaves (chopped)
  4. 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  5. 1 tbsp. olive oil

*If your dietary needs or preferences exclude dairy, you can substitute firm silken tofu in place of feta.

  • Preparation:
  1. Toss the watermelon chunks and feta cheese (or vegan substitute) together in a mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar in another mixing bowl.
  3. Once the oil and vinegar have been thoroughly combined, drizzle this mixture on top of the watermelon.
  4. Sprinkle the chopped mint on top of this salad as a garnish.

Serving Suggestion:

Set out the salad, tortillas and toppings, buffet-style, so that cookout goers can enjoy a “build-your-own-taco” station.

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Now, let’s all do 5 minutes on how delicioso that looks. Go.