Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chopped salad with homemade vinaigrette

Okay, friends - it doesn't get much simpler than this right here.  And it is as delicious or more delicious (according to my hubby) than any salad you'll get at a restaurant.  The best part?  You can customize it to your taste and include all the family favorites.  I'll give you the framework and you can run with it.  This will be a HIT at your next dinner party or picnic.  And in the meantime it will become one of your favorite salads to whip up for lunch or dinner.  Enjoy!

Happy Cooking!

Chopped Salad with Homemade Vinaigrette
4-5 cups (or large hand fulls) of mixed greens, such as spring mix and romaine, or your favorite lettuce
1/2 cup of garbanzo beans (you can use any bean you prefer)
1 medium sized carrot, shredded with a vegetable peeler
1/4 cup sliced black and green olives
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 hard boiled eggs, sliced up
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, or your favorite crumbly cheese such as feta or goat cheese
1 recipe of the homemade vinaigrette listed below
****all of the above ingredients are optional - use your favorite healthy salad toppings and veggies.  This salad serves 2 for lunch or dinner

Homemade Vinaigrette:
1 T white wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, begin by whisking together the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper until well combined.  Slowly add the olive oil while you continually whisk, which allows the dressing to emulsify.   Set aside while preparing the veggies (cutting, slicing, and dicing).  

Once you are ready to eat, add the veggies, lettuce, and other salad toppings to the dressing and toss until well combined.  I don't add the eggs until the very end....I don't like the yolk to go all over the place but that's a personal preference.  Like I said earlier, make this your own and make it how ever you like it.  Eat up and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

BLT chopped salad with Creamy Garlic Herb Dressing

This salad is everything I love in a salad only really, really good for you!  Typical salads can be loaded with hidden calories from cheese, croutons and fat-filled dressings.  In fact, I'm a total sucker for lots and lots of ranch dressing...I just can't get enough.

This salad is my solution to my ranch craving- it's made with a yogurt and herb based dressing, no cheese, and just enough bacon to make it taste super delicious without adding too much extra fat or calories.  In fact, if you use turkey bacon this salad is in line with any clean-eating lifestyle.  Plus, we added some chopped hardboiled egg on top for some extra protein.

I made it with my husband's 21 day fix in mind...although he hasn't started his 21 days yet, I am experimenting with recipes that will work for him and that really enjoys.  No one will stick to a healthy eating plan and decide to make it a lifestyle unless they really like what they are eating.  And yes - it is possible to do these things!  Healthy eating doesn't have to mean plain grilled chicken breasts with steamed veggies - it is so much more than that!!!

So get in the kitchen and get creative!  Or just let me do all that work for you and visit my blog often for more delicious and nutritious, healthy, recipes for you and your loved ones.  This dressing also tastes delicious with a little added blue cheese.  Add your favorite greens and veggies to make it your own!

Happy Cooking!

BLT Chopped Salad with Creamy Garlic Herb Dressing
my recipe was inspired by

For the salad:
5-6 cups of spring mix (we like the 50% baby spinach, 50% spring mix)
1 cup of grape tomatoes, cut in half (about 1/2 pint)
1/2 cucumber, diced
1/2 cup of fresh mushrooms, diced or sliced
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup peas (I used frozen peas, only defrosted, not cooked)
3 scallions, sliced

1-2 hard boiled eggs per person 

6 slices of extra crispy nitrate free bacon, crumbled (use turkey bacon for an even healthier version.  I like to cook my bacon in the oven at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until extra crispy.  I even use foil and parchment paper on the cookie sheet for an easy clean up.)

***This salad recipe serves 2 for a very generous lunch or dinner (depending on your daily caloric intake, you may need to divide this into 3 or 4...but what's better than having extra for the next day???).

For the dressing:
3/4 cup of Greek Yogurt (I used 2%)
1/4 cup of Mayonnaise (you could just use more Greek yogurt or some light sour cream)
1/4 cup of 2% milk 
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 T lemon juice
2 T olive oil
1/3 cup parsley
1/4 cup chives
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
***this dressing is enough for two recipes of the salad...I used about 1/3 of it on the salad ingredients listed above.  It stores nicely in the fridge for up to a week and tastes even better the next day!

Place the vegetables in a large bowl after chopping and shredding to your delight.  (Feel free to purchase already shredded or chopped ingredients to save yourself time or if you think it will encourage you to eat more salads throughout the week).  Set aside while you make the dressing.

Place all the dressing ingredients in a blender (we have a Ninja) and blend until smooth.  Store in the fridge until you are ready to eat.  

Once it's chow time, add the lettuce, bacon, and dressing to the large bowl with your vegetables.  Toss until well combined and serve immediately.

I always mix my salads in a large bowl - it's the perfect way to ensure you won't over-dress your salad.  A little goes a long way!  Remember: you can always add more, but can never take the dressing off your salad once it's there.

You guys are gonna love this salad!  Make it your own - add your favorite toppings and change it up to whats fresh at the farm stand.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Week 24 & 25 - family and supporting goals

I've been quiet...again!  So many amazing recipes to share and so little time to do it.  I promise to try to be better about that...I've been having too much fun with my family members visiting us here in Boston, enjoying their company and this beautiful weather.  Plus the hubby has been traveling a lot for work.  But now I have a break of two weeks with no visitors until our vacation, so it's time to re-focus.

This week is all about being a support system - My hubby has declared that he wants to change his eating habits and daily physical activity.  I'm so excited for him and very grateful that he WANTS to do this for himself.   He is surprising me with his level of commitment over the past few days and I will do everything possible to help support him in the coming weeks.  In the interest of his weight loss goals, I am back to trying many new recipes and many of them are no-carb per his request.  Here is a sample of what he is eating (and therefore, so am I - I don't cook twice):

Breakfast:  protein shake

AM snack:  apple and 10 almonds

Lunch:  vegetable chopped salad with garbanzos, hard-boiled eggs, and a homemade vinaigrette

PM snack:  Greek yogurt and 1/2 cup berries

Dinner:  grilled chicken with a watermelon, arugula, and feta salad

I plan on writing a post in the near future on other breakfast, lunch, snack options and of course the dinner recipes with be posted in the following days (if they aren't already on my blog).

Below is our dinner plan for the week and the link to week 24 and 25 from last year (same scenario last year - hubby was traveling, family in town visiting).  I wish you all a wonderful week!  Keep on reaching for your health and wellness goals!

Happy Cooking!

Week 25 - June 22, 2014

Sunday:  grilled chicken with watermelon, arugula and feta salad

Monday:  BLT chopped salad with creamy herb dressing

Tuesday:  grilled salmon, Asian quinoa salad, stir-fried snap peas and shallots

Wednesday:  grilled steak, black bean and corn salad, sauteed greens

Thursday:  chopped salad w/leftover veggies and proteins in the fridge

Friday:   cheat night - pizza night

Saturday:  Spanish chicken and rice with saffron cream (from cooking light magazine)

Weeks 24 & 25 from Healthy Home Revolution 2013

Monday, June 9, 2014

Week 23 - summer sanity

Wondering what to do with the kids this summer?  Here's how I plan to stay sane...

Summer is in full swing son had his last day of school on Wednesday and we're having lots of fun during the day.  The days are really fun, but really LONG.  So with both kids home, its important to have some structure and some built in down-time for everyone.

Yesterday, I sat down with my oldest to make a list of what HE wanted to do this summer:  indoor and out door activities, some daily learning activities, and an agreed upon limit to screen time.  We also came up with a list of family rules, all rules that he came up with himself with a little re-wording from me.   These rules are my attempt to maintain my sanity as much as possible...both kids home all day usual means more disagreements.  Not sure if it will do anything, but it makes me feel better and satisfies the inner-teacher in me.  We hung up our summer bucket lists, plans, and rules in the playroom:

It's also important to both myself and my husband to have some of our own down time, both together and on our own.  I need some time without the kids - I love them dearly, but I'm a better mom and person if I have a little time to myself.  This looks different for everyone, but for us it means to prioritize a date night - preferably once a week.  This night rotates depending on the week and our activities for that week, but it means we will always have some kid free time to re-connect.  We have also chosen to reserve Wednesday for kid-free  fun with friends.  I'm going to be taking a self-defense class and my hubby will be playing tennis.  I'm very excited to start!

Summer also means I no longer want to turn my oven on.  I start to get creative with salads and the grill.  Below you will find my meal plan for this week and a link to week 23 from last year.  Have a fantastic week!

Happy Cooking!
Week 23 - June 8, 2014

Sunday:  chopped salad, lentil salad with peas and mint, lemony confetti pasta salad (Meatless night)

Monday:  grilled chicken breasts and thighs, leftover salads from Sunday night

Tuesday:  BLTs and baby lettuce salad with beets and blue cheese

Wednesday:  leftovers or takeout

Thursday:  date night

Friday:  pizza night and my family visiting

Saturday:  grilling out with my family

Week 23 from Healthy Home Revolution 2013 (nothing fancy on this menu)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Week 22 - long nights

My toddler has decided to go on a sleeping strike...I mean, come on! Really??? Mommy needs to sleep! So you can see where this is going...I'm running on empty and doing my best to keep my head up.

Below you will find a rough sketch of some meal plans for this week. We have a busy week ahead, lots of activities with the end of school and beautiful weather. Enjoy your week!!!

Happy cooking!

Week 22 - June 1, 2014

Sunday - takeout

Monday - leftovers (Hubby working late)

Tuesday - grilled chicken, caprese pasta salad, grilled spring veggies

Wednesday - date night

Thursday - my book club dinner

Friday - pizza night

Saturday - grilled steak, potatoes, asparagus