Banana-Almond Smoothie

So this smoothie really isn’t much to look at, but its humble looks are deceiving. This is a speedy, satisfying, and healthy drink that is perfect for a weekday morning breakfast, snack, or post workout treat. Just 3 or 4 ingredients, a quick whirl in the blender, and bam, done. You could totally customize this to your liking- swap in peanut butter for the almond butter, use coconut milk (or other milk of your choosing) for the almond milk, add a handful of spinach, add a dash of cinnamon, the possibilities are endless!

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Banana-Almond Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 banana, broken into 3-4 chunks, frozen
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp almond butter
1/8 tsp almond extract (optional)

Directions:

1. Place all ingredients in the blender, and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Source: Bon Appetit

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Toasted Cumin Seeds

Happy Monday all! We’ve made it through the first day of the week, and hopefully everyone survived intact! Personally, I find Tuesdays to be even harder though, so if I can just make it through tomorrow I’ll be okay ūüôā

I thought that you would appreciate a ¬†healthy, refreshing salad to start off this week, especially with the high humidity and temperatures that are hitting the Northeast, and other parts of the country as well. Today it was over 90 degrees here, and that will continue for the next couple of days. This is a perfect salad for summer… good for lunch, a light dinner, or a dish to bring to a picnic or party. I made my salad with honey (as I didn’t have agave in my pantry), but if you use agave then this will be vegan. It is also gluten-free, so it great for those with food restrictions and/or allergies! Most importantly, it is delicious!

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Toasted Cumin Seeds

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Toasted Cumin Seeds

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked quinoa

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp cumin seeds

1 cup plum tomatoes, finely diced

3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (about 3-4 limes)

2 tsp honey (or light agave nectar)

1 tsp grapeseed oil

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup scallions, finely chopped

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1 avocado, diced (optional)

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional)

Mixed greens, for serving (optional)

Directions:

1. To toast the cumin seeds, place a small skillet over low heat, add the cumin seeds, and toss for about 5 minutes, until fragrant.

2. In a large bowl, add the toasted cumin seeds, tomatoes, lime juice, honey or agave, and grapeseed oil. Mix together. Add the quinoa, and stir well to combine. Add the beans, scallions, cilantro, avocado (if using), and jalapenos (if using), and mix in gently. Season to taste with salt. Serve over greens, if desired.

Source: slightly adapted from Appetite for Reduction

Chicken Cobb Salad

Do you ever feel like you need to get some vegetables into your body, stat?! I do! Especially after many indulgences in a row, my body just craves veggies! This is a great way to incorporate vegetables into a meal in a guy-friendly way. I think a hearty salad that has the good stuff, but also some chicken, bacon and cheese is the perfect way to get my boyfriend to eat his vegetables, and be happy about it! ¬†This classic salad was so tasty, and also very beautiful looking! Of course, when you eat it it becomes jumbled like any normal salad, but at least for a couple of minutes it looks so orderly and elegant! … and now I’m really inspired to try some other variations on the Cobb salad like this one, this one and this one.

Chicken Cobb Salad

Chicken Cobb Salad

Serves 4

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed

4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, and crumbled

2 hard-boiled eggs

1 large head romaine lettuce, shredded

1/2 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice

3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat broiler, place oven rack 6-inches from top. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray with cooking spray. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and place on baking sheet. Broil for 4-8 minutes until lightly browned. Flip chicken over, and broil for 6-8 minutes more, until chicken is fully cooked. Let cool until they can be handled. Chop into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss the lettuce with the dressing.

3. To assemble salads, place a serving of lettuce on each plate, and then arrange the chicken, eggs, bacon, cheese, avocado, and tomato on top of the lettuce in rows.

Source:¬†adapted from¬†The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook¬†and¬†Everyday Food: Great Food Fast

 

Shrimp and Broccoli Stir-Fry

I think a recurring theme on my blog seems to be a love for quick and easy meals. Most of the meals I cook are weeknight meals. Meals that have to be pretty simple to put together since I am usually exhausted when I get home from work. I love meals that have simple ingredients, easy prep, but are still full of delicious and exciting flavors. I love to cook the more elaborate meal from time to time (usually this can only happen on the weekend), but I’d estimate that probably more than 75% of the things I cook are of the quick and easy variety, and this is something I have no problem with. Stir-fries are one of my go-to weeknight meals. I’m always on the lookout for a good one. I love that stir-fries encompass both protein and veggies, eliminating the need for multiple side dishes, and other than the prep work of slicing and dicing your ingredients, the actual cooking part is very quick. I also love the flavors that go into a stir-fry- soy sauce, garlic, ginger, honey in this one for example, chile sauce, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce in others… This shrimp and broccoli stir-fry makes for a wonderful weeknight (or weekend) meal. It comes together quickly, is healthy, and most importantly, is very tasty! I loved the slight sweetness from the honey, spiciness from the red pepper flakes, the saltiness from the soy sauce, and the tang from the rice vinegar. A great balance of flavors!

Shrimp and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Shrimp and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tbsp cornstarch

2 1/2 tbsp canola oil, divided

1/4 cup scallions, cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces

2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups broccoli florets

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp honey

1/8-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

1. Place the shrimp in a medium bowl, add the cornstarch and toss together. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil to the pan, and swirl to coat. Add the shrimp, and cook about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the shrimp from the pan (place in a bowl or plate).

2. Add 1 1/2 tsp of oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the scallions, ginger and garlic, and cook for about 45 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove the scallion mixture to the same dish that the shrimp is on.

3. Add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil to the pan, and add the broccoli. Cook for about 1 1/2-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the shrimp/scallion mixture, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil. Cook for about 1 minute more until the shrimp are cooked through and the broccoli is tender. Serve over rice if desired.

Source: Cooking Light, June 2013

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Spring really seems to have arrived here in Connecticut! I actually have been able to go outside without a winter coat, and have had to turn on the air conditioner while driving around in my car. I am extremely excited about this development! We have a couple of 40-something degree days this week, but the rest of the 10-day forecast is in the 50’s, with a couple of days reaching 60!! I know it’s mundane to talk about the weather, but hey, if I’m excited about it, I assume others are too!  Now, this dinner is not spring-like at all, but it is still worth sharing! This is from week 3 of the Whole Living Action Plan (I have one left to share after this before I get back to our regularly scheduled programming).

I love squash! Acorn, butternut, spaghetti, delicata… They are all good to me. This stuffed squash is a really good, hearty way to make squash a main dish. It would be wonderful to have in the fall (or winter, spring or even summer if you want to turn on your oven), and I think it would make a fabulous vegetarian/vegan main dish for Thanksgiving!!

Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
3 Tbsp plus 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp fresh sage, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/3 cooked white beans
1/3 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup kale, chopped
2 Tbsp toasted* hazelnuts, chopped

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Brush the cut sides of the squash with 1 tsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet, cut side down, and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, flip squash over, and set aside.
2. While the squash is roasting, heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté, stirring frequently, about 6 minutes, until tender. Add the sage, thyme, beans, quinoa and kale to the onion, and cook about 2 minutes, until the kale is wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Stuff each half of the acorn squash with half of the quinoa-bean mixture. Roast about 15-20 minutes, until golden.
4. To serve, top each acorn squash half with 1 Tbsp hazelnuts, 1 Tbsp olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon.

Source: Whole Living, January/February 2013

*To toast hazelnuts, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet, and roast for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Halibut with Roasted Beets

When I first looked at the title and ingredients in this recipe, I was hesitant. Halibut? Good! Spinach? Good! Beets? Goooood! But together? I wasn’t so sure. I’ve have never thought of beets and seafood going together. I persevered though, as I was determined to try every recipe in this cleanse, and I was having fun trying recipes that I normally would have passed over because they sounded boring, or were something that I knew Ron wouldn’t eat. Luckily, this recipe proved to be a winner. The combination of the mild fish, the sweet beets, and the spinach proved to be a really tasty combination! I used cod in place of halibut due to price, but any similar fish would do. I served this over brown rice because I wanted my meal to be a little more substantial, but you could serve it without any accompaniment, or serve it with any other whole grain. I imagine it would go well with quinoa, or farro, or whatever whole grain you happen to have on hand.

Halibut with Roasted Beets
Serves 1


Ingredients:
2 cups chopped spinach (or Kale or Swiss Chard)
1/2 cup roasted beets, diced*
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 5-oz skinless halibut filet (or similar fish such as cod, flounder, sole or tilapia)
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small baking dish, toss together the spinach, beets, olive oil, salt and pepper.
2. Whisk together the mustard and olive oil in a small bowl. Season the fish with salt and pepper, lay the fish on the beets and greens, and spread the mustard mixture on top of the fish. Cover with foil and bake 20-25 min until fish is cooked through.
3. Serve with a squeeze of lemon.
Source: Whole Living, January/February 2013

*To roast beets, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap the beets in foil. Then roast for about an hour, until tender. Let cool off, and then dice.

Black Bean-Brown Rice Patties

Happy weekend everyone! I hope spring has started well for you all.  It’s still quite cold here in CT and it’ll be a few weeks more before we actually start feeling any spring-like weather, but for now I’m enjoying the lengthening of days and searching for signs of buds and shoots pushing up from the earth. It looks like we possibly might have snow on Monday, and honesty, that doesn’t bother me at all. That’s just one of the things I expect from living in New England. The snow this winter has not burnt me out yet! 
These patties are a wonderful light, but hearty meal, that are one of my top contenders for my favorite recipe of the cleanse. I served mine with romaine lettuce drizzled with olive oil and lime juice, with some buttery avocado and cilantro on top. I didn’t even miss having a bun for these patties. The only issue was that they were a bit dry, so maybe next time I’d add a little bit more oil, or possibly bake them a bit less.  Regardless of this though, they were fabulous!



Black Bean-Brown Rice Patties

Makes 6 Patties (Serves 2-3)

Ingredients:
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 3/4 cup cooked brown rice (For reference, 1/2 cup uncooked rice will yield about 1 1/2 cups cooked rice)
2 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp flaxmeal
1 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Coarse salt
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Add all ingredients to food processor, and pulse until combined. Season to taste with salt.
3. Form 6 patties, about 1-inch thick. Place patties on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake about 20-minutes, until the tops are crisp and golden.
You can serve these plain if you’d like, but they are fabulous with a few extras- some ideas: lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, cilantro. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a squeeze of lime.