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GF, Vegan & Raw/ Healthy Eating/ Meals/ RECIPES/ Sides

A Lunch Salad Full of Plant Protein!

This is my favorite on-the-go and go-to salad.  It is very filling, healthy, delicious, and full of wonderful plant protein! Edamame, quinoa & chickpeas make this a plant protein powerhouse! I pick it up at Trader Joes, but don’t worry if you do not live close to a Trader Joes, because this salad can easily be made at home!

Here are the ingredients:

Spinach –about 2 cups

Cherry Tomatoes –2-4

Shredded Carrots – a palmful

Quinoa –1/2 cup cooked (directions here)

Chickpeas –1/4 cup, drained & rinsed

Dried Cranberries–palm-ful

Edamame –1/4 cup, cooked

Pumpkin Seeds –palm-ful

Salad Dressing —Carrot Ginger or your choice.

These are ingredients I now have on hand at home most of the time, exempt pumpkin seeds.  I live right by a health food store that has pumpkin seeds so that is not a problem.  The Carrot Ginger Miso Salad dressing it comes with is really good, but I have made this at home and really this salad goes well with any type of dressing.  For some salad dressing inspiration, click over to my Salad Dressing Pinterest Boards.


Delicious Strawberry-Kiwi Spinach Dump Salad

There have been times when I was asked to bring a dish to share at a party, and I am running behind with no time to cook.  What to bring?  Strawberry Kiwi Spinach Dump Salad! 
Grab a large bowl and serving tongs, hit the grocery store on the way to your party, cut up your fruit once you get there, then dump it all in and enjoy!
As you can see in the photo above,  it uses Kashi Asiago Cheese crackers in place of croutons.  They soak up the dressing just enough and because they add a cheese taste, you can skip buying cheese.  This makes the salad much easier on the budget and some stomachs!  After the salad sits for awhile, the crackers get a bit soggy, but I’ve had people say that is the best part!
Strawberry Kiwi Spinach Dump Salad 
(a no recipe, recipe)
1 pkg spinach
slivered almonds
Kashi Asiago Cheese crackers
Kiwi, skinned & chopped
Strawberries, chopped
Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette
Put in a bowl, toss & enjoy!
I recently brought this to a family gathering at my sisters, and it was well received.  My dad was the official grill man of the day.  Why does everything grilled taste better when Dad grills it?

I totally forgot to take a photo of the finished salad, but you can see it back there behind my Fresh Lemon Pasta with Asparagus & Tomatoes.  Feel free to say hi to one of my favorite nephews, whom I promised someday would make the blog.  E–that day has come!  

GF, Vegan & Raw/ RECIPES/ Sides

Quinoa & Black Bean Salad

I love it when I find a recipe that after tasting it, I immediately know it will be a recipe that I will be making and enjoying often.  This is one of those recipes.  A staple.

It uses quinoa, a grain (a seed, actually) that is gluten free and high in protein.  Quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids making it a complete protein. The addition of beans in this recipe makes it super healthful and full of protein.  It is a great example of how plant foods can be filling and make a full meal.

Quinoa is super easy to prepare.  It is very much like making rice, 2 parts liquid to one part quinoa.  The only difference is that you need to rinse quinoa to avoid a slight bitter taste.

Quinoa is super mild in flavor, and ends up taking on whatever flavor you add to it, again, much like rice.

Quinoa & Black Bean Salad
Yield: 10 servings
1 teaspoon vegetable oil {I used coconut oil}
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa {I used red quinoa}
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro {I skipped this}
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and pepper, and saute until lightly browned.  Mix in the garlic and heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the quinoa, then pour in the vegetable broth.  Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Stir in the frozen corn and continue to simmer about 5 more minutes, until heated through.  Remove from the heat and stir in the black beans and cilantro.  Serve warm or cold.

This recipe can be eaten warm, at room temperature, or cold.  It makes the perfect pot luck dish, and a great grain salad to keep in the refrigerator for a quick and filling lunch.

I like to take it to go in a small mason jar, and eat it outside, sitting in the springtime sun while writing.

Try it!  Let me know what you think.


Black Bean, Corn, Avocado & Hominy Salad

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Avocados from Mexico for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I LOVE avocados!  I seriously do!  I have been buying at least 2 each week, but lately I have found myself grabbing a bag of them because I have found so many great uses for them.  I use them to create a super creamy and healthy smoothie, and I also love to use them simply sliced on toast, then topped with sliced tomatoes and a couple leaves of basil.
At our most recent family get-together, my sister-in-law brought a great recipe of Black Beans, Hominy, & Corn.  I loved it so much and could have stood there and eaten the whole bowl.  I thought about the recipe and the only way it could possibly be made better was to add some avocado to it.  That is what I did, and it turned out SO GOOD.

Black Bean, Corn, Avocado & Hominy Salad
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans corn, drained and rinsed
1 can hominy, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or to taste)
1 red pepper, chopped
1/4 of a large red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4-1/2 cup red wine vinegar, to taste
Juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper, to taste
Mix all together.  Tastes best if you let the flavors mingle in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.  Serve as a salad or with tortilla chips.

I recently added a recipe to the “Guac-Off” Contest that is happening at the “I love avocados on Facebook” page.  I am waiting to hear the results, but I sure wish I had the above recipe at the time of the contest.  I think it just might have won it.  Yes, it is THAT good.
 I have had fun exploring the Avocados From Mexico facebook page, it has free avocado screensavers, wallpaper, virtual gifts for friends and even ringtones.  I downloaded the instrumental ringtone and my girls think is is so funny to see me break out in my Mexican Avocado dance when it goes off!
You can connect with Avocados from Mexico on Twitter, at Twitter@guacgrl.  Avocado lovers are using the hashtag #iloveavocados, and you can too, if you decide to tweet your love of avocados!

 What is your favorite way to use an avocado?
Visit Sponsor's Site


Tropical Green Salad Smoothie

{can you tell my hair is totally wack?}

This smoothie is pretty much a salad in a smoothie.  It is delicious! I often make it breakfast, along with a piece of high fiber toast.  I love that I am getting all of the benefits of eating a big healthy salad, without having to eat another plate of big healthy salad!  Slurping my fruits and vegetables through a straw can be much more fun than all that chewing.

 I use 2 whole cups of baby spinach which is so mild tasting that it disappears once you add the fruit.  I add a bit of flax oil, it is the “dressing” of the salad.  I add it to help get my omega’s in for the day.  On a simple day, I use only banana and then add a cup of ice at the end.  Today was more special, I happened to have frozen mango chunks and frozen pineapple tidbits (both in the freezer section at Trader Joes), so I added those.  My girls argued over “who got more” of this smoothie today.  Never seen kids argue over a salad before, have you?

*Put the ingredients into the blender in the order that I list them.  They blend much more smoothly if you do.

Tropical Green Smoothie
1 Tbls flax oil (optional)
2 cups baby spinach
1 banana (can be frozen or not)
1 1/4 cups milk  (I use almond or coconut.  Can use dairy)
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
(if not using the additional frozen fruit, add a cup of ice)
Sweetener of choice, if needed (stevia, honey, agave, or sugar)–usually not needed
Add the oil, spinach, banana, and milk to the blender.  Blend until
spinach disappears into tiny green flecks.  Add the frozen fruit or ice.  Blend until smooth.
This recipe makes 26 ounces.

**can add a scoop of protein powder and a touch more milk if you desire.  I use a vegan pea protein powder,  Plant Fusion Vanilla Protein Powder which I love.  I buy the vanilla flavor.

**you can pour these into popsicle molds and let the kids have green popsicles for breakfast!


My Favorite Salad

I had a friend bring this salad over to my house and both Todd and I just loved it!  We agreed it is a favorite, we both took a bite and just looked at each other with wide eyes and a smile–yes, it is that good!

 The dressing is tangy, the apples are tart and crisp, the grapes are sweet and the candied pecans are like a crunchy dessert topping!

 I had to have the recipe so I could make it myself and share it with all of you.



~Salad-greens ( I love to use Butter/boston lettuce and red leaf in the mix)

~Red grapes

~Granny smith apples

~Candied pecans (recipe below)

~Dressing (recipe below)


Toss and Serve.

Candied pecans-

3/4 c brown sugar (If you are looking for low sugar, I think this could be reduced)

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 c margarine

1 c chopped pecans

In small pan melt margarine, stir in brown sugar and cinnamon. After that mix in the pecans, coating them with the mixtutre. Pour into pan in single layer and bake at 200 for about 10 minutes. Pour onto wax paper. Cool and separate.


1 c oil

1/4 c sugar

1/4 c vinegar

3 T Dijon

1 T Worcestershire

1/2 t salt

Blend together.

Healthy Eating/ RECIPES/ Sides

Balsamic Vinegar + Pomegranate Mist For Salads! Yum!

I have been eating soup and salad almost daily since my diagnosis.  It is a great way to get most of my vegetable servings in.  I have loved experimenting with my salads, the goal always to have lots of different colors going on for maximum health benefits.

I have been on the lookout for the perfect salad dressing, and have not been too happy.  There are so many in the grocery store that have high fructose corn syrup in them, or bad oils that I do not want cloggin’ up my body.  The non-fat versions crank up the sugar, in an effort to add the taste back in that is missing, once fat is removed.  The few that I did find that were healthy enough, lacked in the taste department.



I was at my local health food store and a cool- looking mist bottle among their salad dressings caught me eye.  It said “Balsamic Vinegar + Pomegranate.  I love both flavors.  I looked at the ingredient list and guess what is in it??

~100% Barrel Aged Balsamic Vinegar from Medena, Italy
~Pomegranate Juice

Just 2 ingredients! Isn’t that a beautiful thing??  Another beautiful thing is that each bottle contains 384 servings!  They are super fun to use–pump 5 times and then spray.

The mist bottle is very cool. So very convenient.  I looked it up on to see if I could get it any cheaper, and if it comes in any other flavors.  It does.  They have just plain Balsamic, Balsamic and Raspberry, Olive Oil Mists, ect.  I noticed they also come in a half size, which would be perfect to throw in your purse to use on the go.

I cut some pepper strips and broccoli florets for a snack, and had a whole bunch of fun spraying them.  It is really, really tasty– so much flavor!  I plan on drizzling my salads with some olive oil, then giving them a mist.  Simple and healthy.

It is a bit pricey- I paid 7.99 for it- but the amount of servings in a bottle helps justify that, plus I plan on re-using the bottle by filling it up with olive oil or my own balsamic vinegar.  I’ll make up for the pomegranate part by sprinkling my salads with pomegranate seeds.

If you wanted to save money, you could skip the Gourme’ Mist all together and just purchase  a spray mist bottle like this one, then fill it with your own Balsamic Vinegar.