RAISING THE SALAD BAR

Salad

Raising the salad bar

New Years resolutions.  Hmmm. You can probably tell by this post date alone, it’s not my strength. Two weeks too late. I’m probably like a lot of you. Life is busy. There’s a lot going on. Some are big things and some are not so big, but all together it can be too much on my plate. Literally. My muffin top has changed over the years to a…. well, a small wedding cake. BUT, we’ve come up with a “baby step” program around here that’s been helpful for everyone in the family. It’s a quick way to eat healthy and get your veggies in when your pressed for time, don’t feel like cooking or just need a quick something for OR with your meal.  It’s an instant salad bar.

At the beginning of the week I wash and prepare all the fixins for a yummy salad and put them in various size containers that all fit into one big 9×13 ish size container in my fridge.image

The idea was to give my family an easy to prepare option that was a healthier choice. It was a little love sabotage. We needed something to take the place of the ever so delicious quesadilla. Everybody in the family loves salad but the thought of prep was a downer sometimes.

It’s so easy to pull out the container and personalize a salad that even a teenager can do it. Really. I’ve  seen it done. With my own eyes. I’m a little misty thinking about the first time it occurred. Anyway, I can pull it out every night and make a salad bar in one minute flat. If my dinner is a little on the sub-par side, it’s instantly a better meal. Everything I cut and prepare is good for 5-7 days at least. The only ingredient that has ever gone “man down” on me is an occasional cucumber or a fresh berry.  We use bags of salad and spinach or cut pre-washed lettuce as we need.

These are some of the ingredients we love:

  • tri-colored peppers
  • peas, fresh or thawed
  • jicama
  • craisins
  • cut turkey or ham
  • sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • almonds
  • raisins
  • croutons
  • bacon pieces
  • cubed cheese
  • beets
  • cherry or grape tomatoes (golden and red)
  • cucumbers
  • carrots (slices or pre-shredded)
  • fresh berries

Eating your greens ✔️

Making healthier choices✔️

Baby step goals✔️

Watching your teenager eat something different than a quesadilla ✔️

Happy Resolutions ya’ll. We believe in you.

Dip In

Years ago my “blog sister” asked if I had a quick and easy recipe for a treat she could take to a pot- luck type work party.  I told her about a yummy fruit dip that was super easy and sooo good.  I called her later and asked her if people liked the dip.  She was still at the party when I called.  Her answer was this: (I swear) ” I can’t talk to you right now, my co-workers are carrying me on their shoulders chanting my name”.

They liked it.  So will you.

  • one 8 ounce brick of cream cheese ( we prefer reduced fat)
  • 3/4 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 package of Heath or Skor toffee pieces. (Found in the baking isle near the chocolate chips).* These can easily be frozen for later use).

Place the first three ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat well with a hand or stand mixer.  Add Heath or Skor toffee pieces and mix until just incorporated.  Put it in a serving bowl, cut up some apples,bananas or strawberries and stand back. Get ready for your shoulder ride, they’ll be chanting your name.

 

Brownie Points

Ooooh la la. A dainty dessert.

Mmmmm.

The original recipe for these brownie cookies is from PDX Food Love, but being the dainty little dessert gals we are, we had to change it up to make it more. We really make all the recipes for our blog and take the pictures ourselves. We got together the other day to make a few of the recipes for future posts. We don’t live THAT close to each other. We’re what my mother calls: ” G.U.’s” (geographically undesirable). Anyway, when we get together we try to make it count. These brownie cookies were yummy and almost so soft you couldn’t hold them….and so the brownie ice cream sandwich was born.

Better-than-Brownies Chocolate Cookies

Makes 24 large cookies

You will need:

  • 8 ounces semi-sweet baker’s chocolate (don’t use chocolate chips! They have stuff like paraffin in them and aren’t as good).
  • 2 tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 + 1/6 cups sugar (amount is weird because I halved the recipe, but it’s pretty easy to eyeball one half of a 1/3 cup scoop)
  • 1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract (again, use the real thing for true decadence)
  • 1/4 cups AP flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder

Start by melting the chopped chocolate and the butter in a heat-safe bowl in a double boiler (put the bowl over an inch of water in a pot. Try to get similar sizes so the bowl is pretty steady on top of the pot). Keep the temperature on medium low – ideally this will go pretty slowly so no burning takes place.

While the chocolate is melting, use a whisk to mix together the sugar, eggs and vanilla separately. When the chocolate and butter have melted into a smooth liquid, take it off the heat, and temper with the egg by adding a teensy bit of chocolate to the egg at a time, so you don’t get chunks of cooked egg. Eventually you will be able to just add the rest of the chocolate. Be careful – the bowl will probably still be warm.

Stir in the flour and baking powder, and drop onto cookie sheets with either parchment or silicone baking mats (don’t skip this on these cookies). I would also do no more than 6 to a sheet, because they do spread quite a bit. Bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees, and allow to cool on the tray, ideally set on a baking rack.

While the cookies were cooling, we allowed some vanilla ice cream to soften a bit. When it’s soft enough to handle, scoop out a chunk and form it to fit the cookies. Truthfully we put a plastic bag on our hands and formed the ice cream to fit the cookie. Wrap each cookie in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer. You could even roll the edges in sprinkles to make them fun for a party. Peppermint,cherry chocolate,chocolate chip, orange sherbet. Go nuts…. Mmmmm. Nuts. Those would be good too.

* Makes 12 ice cream sandwiches

 

Granol..ahh

I went to my sister’s house for dinner and started to pick at the homemade granola in her cupboard.  I picked and picked and picked….  My children and husband picked and picked. Collectively we shamed ourselves with the gluttony of ten families.  We would have stuffed more in our pockets as we were leaving but we had pretty much polished it off.  We left with a promise of the recipe being ON OUR COMPUTER by the time we arrived home.  Mmmm.   It’s making me salivate even now.  It is sooooo good.

I mentioned our embarrassing gluttony to my “blog sister”.  She admitted she’d sent a batch of the granola to work with her husband because she couldn’t keep her hands out of it.  (Her husband’s co-workers asked for the recipe).  It’s chuck full of pecans, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds. Craisins, raisins, blueberries, coconut and cinnamon.  It makes your house smell like Christmas while it cooks.

You want it now don’t you?  Two words: MAKE IT.  Three words:  MAKE IT, HURRY.   Let us know, we’ll be right over.

 

TRINA’S GRANOLA

6 Cups Oats, rolled (raw)

2 Cups Coconut

2/3 Cup Sunflower Seeds

1/2 Cup Sesame Seeds

1/2 Cup Pumpkin Seeds

1 Stick Butter

1 Cup Brown Sugar, packed

1 Cup Honey

1/2 Tsp Salt

2 Tsp Vanilla

1 Cup Raisins

1 Cup Crasins

1 Cup Dried Blueberries

1 Cup Pecans

Sprinkle of Cinnamon

 

  1. Preheat oven to 300 Degrees
  2. Mix Oats, Coconut, Sunflower Seeds, Sesame Seeds and Pumpkin seeds in a mixing bowl
  3. Bake Oats, Coconut, Sunflower Seeds, Sesame Seeds and Pumpkin Seeds on 300 degrees for 30 minutes on cookie sheet
  4. Melt Butter and add Brown Sugar, Honey, Salt, and Vanilla in a separate mixing bowl and set aside
  5. Chop Pecans and add them to Raisins, Craisins, Dried Blueberries in a separate mixing bowl and set aside
  6. Once the Oats mixture has finished cooking for 30 minutes; remove from oven and increase oven temperature to 350 degrees
  7. Stir in the butter mixture and Raisins mixture with the baked Oats mixture in large mixing bowl
  8. Cook the granola on 350 for 10 minutes
  9. Once you have cooked the granola for an additional 10 minutes; change oven setting to broil
  10. Broil Granola on high for 2-3 minutes. Checking consistently to ensure that the granola is just getting brown not burning
  11. Remove Granola from oven.  Stir mixture and sprinkle generous portions of cinnamon on top
  12. Allow to cool completely before placing granola in storage containers

Helpful hint:  If you want your granola more Crunchy broil for 3-4 minutes, remove from oven stir and place back in oven and broil for another 3-4 minutes

Sometimes I Feel Like A Nut…

I promised myself this week that I was going to get back on track with my health.  My eating, exercise and life have been, to be honest, COMPLETELY off.

On a quest for a healthier treat, I purchased a bag of dried young coconut from Costco.  When I looked at the nutritional information on the bag, I was floored.  Who knew that coconut was so low in sugar (1g) and packed with fiber (14g)?   I am hooked!  I decided to make a healthy version of an Almond Joy.  By simply combining dried young coconut, almonds and a 70% or higher dark chocolate (chopped or even semi-sweet chips), you have a satisfying healthy treat.

This treat has, depending on the type of chocolate you prefer, the following nutritional information:

20 grams of fiber  (Almond Joy -2 grams)

7 grams of sugar  (Almond Joy- 20 grams)

11 grams of protein  (Almond Joy -2 grams)

Using the following serving sizes, this little craving fighter has 10 whole food ingredients verses 30+ ingredients in an Almond Joy, whose ingredients include corn syrups, oils, and a whopping 20 grams of sugar!  This treat will leave you feeling satisfied and guiltless.

  •  1.5 oz of Philippine Brand coconut (roughly a heaping 1/3 cup)*These are chunks of coconut flesh NOT shredded coconut.
  • 1/4 cup Kirkland Signature dry roasted almonds
  • 4og  Lindt Excellence 85% chocolate bar (just shy of 1/2 jumbo sized chocolate bar).

Make some and feel “joy”ful about your snacking!

How To Make Your Berries Last

 

I buy almost everything in bulk, as you can see from my colossal size vinegar.  My family loves to eat berries, but often we end up throwing some of them out because they have started to mold.  I have read in several places that to preserve the life of your produce you shouldn’t wash it until you are ready to eat it.  The water from washing promotes mold.  This is where my issue about wasting food comes into play.  Sometimes we don’t eat it because we are in a hurry and don’t have time to wash it.  When that happens I’ll end up moving along to the pantry, which contains foods that are not nearly as healthy or satisfying.

My cousin from California has been washing her berries in vinegar to help preserve them.  Apparently the vinegar kills the mold spores and any bacteria on the fruit and slows down the molding process.  I tried it out and it works.  Now I always have fresh berries for my family to snack on.

Here is what you need to do:

Add one part Vinegar to 10 parts water

Bathe berries in mixture

Rinse thoroughly

Place on paper towels to dry

Store in an airtight container

I always put a folded paper towel at the bottom on the container to absorb any additional moisture.  When the towel gets damp I just remove it.  And to answer the question you’re asking yourself; no, you do NOT taste the vinegar.

Kale Green Smoothie

Why is there a picture of my sweet girl drinking this smoothie?  Because if my little girl can drink it, you can too!  There are plenty of green smoothies recipes on the internet, but most of them use spinach.  I prefer kale.  After reading Anti Cancer A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD, I promised myself that I would incorporate kale into my families meals.  According to the research done in this book, kale inhibits the cell growth in certain cancers.  Yes, you read that correctly.  It inhibits cancer cell growth.

in·hib·it/inˈhibit/

Verb:
  1. Hinder, restrain, or prevent (an action or process).
  2. Prevent or prohibit someone from doing something.
Synonyms:
prohibit – prevent – hinder – restrain – impede – debar

Kale was in the top 10 foods for colon, brain, lung, prostate and breast cancer.  And keep in mind you are eating it raw so no nutrients are being “cooked” away.

1 small bunch of kale (I used about 1/3 of the pre bundled shown)

1 banana

1 small apple (can substitute 1 cup red grapes)

1/2 to 1 cup greek plain yogurt

1 scoop whey protein (any flavor will do)

1 cup ice

Trim thick ends of kale so it’s not bitter, blend all ingredients in Vitamix or blender.  Enjoy.

Greek Yogurt, Nutella, Granola and Berries

This was my yummy breakfast this morning.  With the Greek yogurt it adds plenty of protein to keep you feeling satisfied.  And who doesn’t like to start off the weekend with Nutella?

Ingredients:

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 TBSP Nutella

1/4 cup granola

1/2 cup mixed berries

Stir in Nutella with Greek yogurt until smooth.  Top with your favorite granola and favorite berries.

A breakfast that will keep you feeling satisfied.  Enjoy!

Protein…CHECK!  Whole Grains…CHECK!  Fruit…CHECK!  Sweet tooth…IN CHECK!