Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mexican Quinoa Salad

This is such a tasty and healthy meal that I've made it twice this week! I was inspired by my good friend, Jill Nevard, who is our trainer at work and specializes in healthy eating. This recipe is adapted from a menu item we have at work.

Quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah", just in case you were wondering) is an ancient grain that is a complete protein and gluten free. It is similar to rice, in that it is a blank canvas for flavor. The tangy lime vinaigrette really makes this a winner!

1 lime, juiced & zested
2 TBS agave nectar
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
This makes a lot of dressing, so normally I just skim off some for a later use. You only need about 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup dressing. 

1 cup quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 TBS chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 of a yellow, red or orange bell pepper
1 small jalapeno, diced finely
1 handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
2 handfuls of greens- spinach, arugula, whatever you like
1 handful of freshly grated white cheddar-optional

Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a fine mesh strainer. Add to the chicken broth in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for 15 minutes. Turn of heat and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes and fluff with a fork. While the quinoa cools off a bit, prepare the dressing. Mix the lime zest, juice, agave nectar and garlic together. Whisk in olive oil and add salt and pepper accordingly. Again, if you don't want to use all the dressing, skim some off and save it for another time. Chop the veggies and throw them in a big bowl. Once quinoa is cooled off, add that and mix together. Serve over greens and sprinkle with cheese. Make sure to taste it to see if it needs more salt or more dressing.

This recipe serves about 4 people. You can bulk it up even more with grilled chicken or flank steak would be delicious too. Also, add whatever veggies you like! Some black beans or roasted corn would be really good in this dish as well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I love margaritas...no really, it's deep love for them. So I will share this fusion of a recipe with you so you can be loved because of your margaritas! I basically blended a skinny margarita with a beer margarita and the baby they made is UH-MAZING :)

1 cup of FRESH lime juice
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 cup cold water
1 cup 100% agave silver tequila
1 mexican beer

Certainly adjust these measurement according to your taste. If you like a sweeter drink, add more agave, if you like it stronger in the liquor department, add more tequila! I really love how the mexican beer cuts through the tartness of the margarita. 

Grab a glass, lime and salt the rim and ENJOY! 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fresh Salsa

I love salsa. It's one of my absolute favorite condiments ever! But, it must be made right. I have a couple of different salsa recipes I make. This one is of the fresh tomato variety. Normally, in the dead of winter, I would be making salsa with canned tomatoes. I found lovely fresh tomatoes at SAM's Club the other day that taste almost as good as home grown! Here is basically all that you need to make this delicious dip...

Isn't that pretty?! This recipe is a taste and see, which means, the numbers aren't exact. If you like more garlic, add more. If you don't like cilantro that much, don't add as much. If you are wimp and don't like spice, cut back on the peppers. If you like it unbelievably spicy, have your husband make the salsa and forget to mention he only needs to use 2 jalapeƱos and he'll use the entire bag in the fridge because he's helpless (true story). Basically, just add a bunch of junk in the food processor and see what happens :)

10 small on the vine tomatoes, cut in quarters
1 whole lime, zested and juiced
2 big garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 good handful of cilantro
two good pinches of kosher salt
1-2 fresh jalapeƱos, deseeded and roughly chopped

Zest is the colored part of any citruis. Use a Microplane, like the one pictured above to add that really lime-y flavor that we are going for.  Place all items in food processor and let it rip! This salsa is on the thinner side, but if you like it more chunky, just pulse your food processor until desired consistency. Taste with a tortilla chip and see if it needs anything. 

Don't mind my red alien hand...

Stay tuned for my FAMOUS margaritas. Ole! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Power Smoothies

Hello all! Here is another healthy recipe, but it's so tasty you won't even know that it's good for you! (I hope!) I make these smoothies for breakfast often and they keep me very full and satisfied throughout the morning. They have ground flax seed in them, which I got in the bulk section of Whole Foods. Flax is super good for you and packed full of fiber. You have to grind flax seed up, though, for your body to absorb the nutrients properly. I just grind them up in my little coffee grinder for a minute and they are ready to go. Also, I use the protein packed, non-fat greek yogurt to give this breakfast a little substance.

You will need a blender! Here is mine that my wonderful hubby got me for my birthday this past year. Some would say, "A blender? For a birthday gift? Isn't that offensive?" NO! I love it and he knew my passion for making smoothies and other various beverages (especially of the adult form) in these magical machines :)

1.5-2 cups frozen fruit
1 cup 100% juice
handful of fresh spinach
6oz tub of non fat flavored greek yogurt
1 tablespoon ground flax seed

Toss all of the goodies in the blender and let it whirl! The frozen fruit acts as the ice, so if you use fresh fruit, you'll need to use a handful of ice. If you don't know how to make ice, stop reading this blog please. :) I will say that this smoothie is pretty tart, which I love, but if you like your's sweeter use apple juice instead of orange and change up which fruits you use. Bananas have a lot of sugar in them, so they would be great in this. I know it may seem weird to add fresh spinach in a smoothie, but it is an excellent way to add veggies and not compromise the taste. Promise!

You'll have to excuse my pictures, by the way. I am a work in progress here and refuse my husband's help since I want to be an independent woman. If you know my husband, you know he's kind of a perfectionist and I am not at all. All of these photos were taken either at 5:30am or 9:30pm. I promise I will get better at the picture aspect of this whole blogging thing.

Enjoy your smoothies, party people!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Green Pasta Salad

If you are like me, you make mental or actual lists in your head of new habits you plan to start at the beginning of the year. It seems winter normally makes me super lazy and I typically fall off the "health wagon". So here is a great pasta salad recipe that is healthy, easy and super tasty! I love make a big batch of salad like this that can be lunch for work the next day, a side option, or even a light dinner. I'm using broccoli, fennel and edamame as my green veggies, but really use whatever you like! I also am using whole wheat pasta because it's so good for you and has lots of good fiber. Speaking of fiber, did you know that most Americans don't get nearly enough fiber daily? We are suppose to consume at least 25grams per day, and most of us only consume 10-15 grams. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this delicious recipe!

1 box of whole wheat rotini (or any other short pasta)
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup frozen shelled edamame (aka shelled soy beans)
1/2 cup chopped fennel (it's sorta like celery, but shaped like a bulb and more flavorful)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1/2 cup italian parsley (basically a good handful)
1 cup fresh basil (a really good handful-I'm so exact huh?)
2 small cloves of fresh garlic-roughly chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated (and REAL) parmesan cheese
1/2-1 cup olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, salt water heavily and add pasta. In the meantime, have a large bowl of ice water near by. Add the broccoli florets for one minute to the pasta water (yes, with the pasta in it) and then use a large slotted spoon to fetch the broccoli out and place in ice water. This method is called blanching. Drain broccoli and throw in a large mixing bowl. Once pasta is almost done, add the edamame. Drain pasta and edamame together and rinse under cold water and then throw that in the broccoli mixing bowl. Toast pine nuts in a very small skillet over medium, shaking the pan frequently. They burn easily, so once you can smell them, they are done. Add them to the mixing bowl as well.

For the pesto, get your handy food processor out and add all the ingredients except the olive oil. Pop the top on and through the feed tube, slowly drizzle your oil in while the processor is whirling. You may not need all the oil or you may need a little more. You just want a nice, sauce like consistency.

Pour the pesto sauce over the pasta mixture and mix well. Taste to see if it needs more salt (remember, you can always add salt, you can't take away!) or pepper. I sometimes like to squeeze a little more fresh lemon juice too if it needs it.

Serve just like that, or over some fresh greens to boost up your veggies for that day. Some sliced tomatoes or even grape tomatoes would be lovely as well! Salute!