Favorite Salad

Happy Friday! It’s hard to believe we leave for Maine one week from today! I wanted to share my newest favorite salad with you. It’s an “egg salad salad.” Lol. It might sound strange at first but it’s creamy, full of protein, and yummy!

First to make the egg salad. I (or my hubby) usually like to make a big batch and have it throughout the week. We boil eggs using this method then we dice up the egg- add diced onion, freshly pressed garlic clove(s), mayo (you can leave it out to make it healthier), dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and lots of fresh dill weed.

To make the salad just add a dollop of the egg salad over your favorite greens (this time we used baby spinach), and add whatever else you’d like. I like to add any combination of: onion rings (either yellow or purple), sliced carrot, goat cheese crumbles, diced tomato, and sliced cucumber. Lastly, I dress it with this fabulous dressing from my bestie’s blog.

Try it out and see what you think!

30 Days of Detox

Hello!? It just dawned on me that I was missing a great blog opportunity! I haven’t blogged about a big change in our diet recently!!

About a month and a half ago, AJ (my husband) and I decided to do a 30 day cleanse based on The Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose. It all started with my fellow veggie-lover-health-nut friend Rebecca. She has been following this lifestyle for awhile now and after multiple conversations with her and after reading Detox for Women by Natalia Rose on my Nook…I decided to give it a try! Why? Although I already felt we were being healthy, I learned a lot from the book and thought we could use a cleanse. Also, I’m always up for trying something at least once. AJ was on board too- as long as it was only for 30 days! lol.

The Surprise. As far as AJ knew, we were going to start our cleanse on March 1st. However, what he didn’t know was that I had been planning a surprise trip to Disney World since Christmas and we would be leaving on March 1st! So after we had a fabulous time at Disney and ate til our hearts content- we officially started on March 6th.

Us on my most favoriteist ride of all time- The Rockin’ Rollercoaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The Changes. On the cleanse we are no longer eating any sugar, grains (except for sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel), meat (except for fish!), cow dairy (goat is ok!!), or anything caffeinated. Most other things have already been cut out since we became Flexitarians. The biggest change is not what we’re eating but how we’re eating. The main thing being “Food Combining.”

It’s the whole idea that all foods have a “digestion time.” Meaning- that some foods don’t take very long to exit the stomach for digestion (like fruit) and yet others take a longer time (like meat). Food combining is combining foods that have the same “exit times” so that your whole meal gets digested at the same time to prevent food from sitting in the stomach too long. On the flip side of things, you are also being careful not to “mis-combine” to make sure you’re not giving your little system an overload!

The Detoxinista, my new favorite food blog to follow, has an awesome chart that I’ve printed out, laminated, and put on our fridge to make food combining that much easier. Here it is: Food Combining Chart. Check out what she has to say about food combining (super cute chart!) and also some of her awesome detoxilicious recipes!

The Food. So here’s a typical day for us…

This green juice is a mixture of kale, cucumber and 1 grapefruit with stevia to sweeten. It’s easily my favorite green juice so far but AJ detests the taste of grapefruit :(. So our daily juice is the “green lemonade” from the book. Still good :)

Each day starts out like this…with a big glass of green juice. We each have about 16 oz. of green juice for “breakfast” each day and try to drink as much water as possible during the morning as well. The goal is a whole liter of water but that doesn’t usually happen for me since I can’t spend my whole morning in the bathroom at work! We also may have some fruit by itself in the morning.

Lunch is our first “meal” of the day. Usually a raw salad with a homemade dressing and sometimes cooked veggies on the side. This is my new favorite lunch:

Raw Blended Carrot Revival (from the book) and a Veggie Sandwich. This soup is fantastic! It is so simple yet has such a punch of flavor! On my sprouted grain sandwich (Ezekiel bread) I have: stone ground mustard, sliced avocado, tomato slices, cucumber slices, onion slices, sea salt and garlic powder, and spring mix greens…

Good to the last drop!

If we snack in the afternoon, it is usually some raw carrot sticks, or if it’s 3 hrs. after our lunch and 3 hrs. before dinner we’ll have some nuts and dried fruit. Pistachios, almonds, cashews and dates are our favorite combo!

Dinner is the best part! If we have a flesh based meal (I have to call it “protein meal” around AJ because he gags at the word “flesh”) we’ll have a delicious raw salad with goat cheese in it…

Sauteed Onion and Goat Cheese salad

And some fish….

Bobby Deen’s Lime Baked Tilapia

Did I mention we can still have dessert? For dessert we’ll either have some dark chocolate (70% cocoa) or some Laloo’s goat milk ice cream (creamy, dreamy, and surprisingly non-goaty tasting!! Where has this been all my life!?!?).

Our favorite starch based dinner is a raw salad with lots of mashed avocado as a dressing (or chopped up in our salad), steamed veggies, and baked sweet potatoes dressed with organic butter and pumpkin pie spice…mmm!!

One thing is for sure. Detoxing is delicious if you do it right! Today is Day 22 for us! We were very tired and felt yucky for the first couple of days. But then…we both lost weight…which was not the goal but a by-product (I lost 5 lbs. in 5 days- yikes!) and most of all we feel great and have more energy! The best part is that I don’t ever feel bloated after eating a big filling meal and my stomach has stayed nice and flat for 22 days!! Stay tuned for more of my “properly combined detox recipes.” And who knew that I already had some on here?!

Watermelon Lemonade

Creamy Berry Smoothie

Ants on a Log- Revamped

After the 30 days? We’ll just have to wait and see!

Rainbow Roasted Vegetables

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we’re doing and devote our attention to eating.” ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

These vegetables are almost too pretty to eat! I love how all the colors and flavors come together! It’s an easy side dish that looks magnificent on any plate! There really isn’t a set recipe for these. I seasoned mine with garlic and dill seasonings, but you could use any herbs you like, rosemary would be nice too! You can also add as much or as little of whatever veggies you would like, and you can make a lot of it or just enough for one!

Rainbow Roasted Vegetables
(serves a lot!)

Ingredients

Sweet potato, cut into 1 inch cubes

Yellow, red, and purple petite potatoes, cut in half (1/4 the larger ones)

Red onion, cut into large slices/chunks

Rainbow carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

Parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

Olive oil

Dill, garlic powder, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste (or seasonings and herbs of preference!)

Method

1. Choose, wash, and prep your veggies. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a (or 2) baking sheet(s) with aluminum foil.

2. When veggies are prepped, add to a large mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil and season them to your liking. Mix well.

3. Spread veggies in an even layer on the lined baking sheet(s). Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring about every 10 mins (and rotating top and bottom pans if you have two).

It’s as easy as that! Serve as a side dish at your house, or bring it as a fun side dish to your next dinner party! That’s what I did!

Our friends invited us over for dinner- I brought the rainbow roasted veggies which are featured here with Grouper with White Wine and Tomato Sauce, and Mushroom Quinoa Risotto. Delish :)

Red Carrots

This week’s foodie tip (sorry it’s a couple days late!) is to buy in-season, local produce from your local Farmer’s Market. Buying locally not only helps your local economy, but you can actually talk directly to the person that grew your food! You know where it comes from, how it was grown, and often times get some good tips on how to prepare it if it’s something your not accustomed to.

I got these beautiful red carrots from Trace, or as I also call her- “my lady.” I am a faithful weekly customer of hers (for 2 years now) because she always has the most fresh, beautiful, and tasty produce! I have used these red carrots as well as her “rainbow carrots” (gorgeous colors of yellow, orange, red, white, peach- who knew carrots could come in so many colors?) in a number of ways. They make everything look gorgeous. I’ve put them in salads, in my Rainbow Roasted Vegetables, even used them to add earthiness and depth to my spaghetti sauce! This week make sure to make a stop at your Farmer’s Market!

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

image

“True friends are never apart, maybe in distance, but not in heart.” ~Unknown

Every time I make these muffins I think of my best friend, Brett. Last March, I went to visit her during my spring break and I brought some VERY overripe bananas with me because I was determined to attempt vegan baking. I had heard that bananas could substitute eggs as a binder, so I thought we should try it out. I was there for 5 days and each day was packed with all the things that we do best…eating, talking, shopping, wine tasting, eating, talking….it was so great…and so us. One of our other favorite things to do together is bake. On my last night there we still hadn’t used my bananas…so despite it being 11 o’clock at night, we baked. And it was so worth it! We made these vegan banana muffins and they were moist and delicious. Since then, I’ve been adding non-dairy chocolate chips to them to make them even more delicious! They also freeze well. I’ll often make a batch, and then after they cool, put them into a freezer bag in the freezer. For a quick breakfast on the go, I just take them out of the freezer and microwave them for about 30 seconds and they’re perfect! Great with coffee, almond milk or if you are not a vegan- then maybe you’ll go for the cow’s milk! Oh yeah, and feel free to lick the bowl- no eggs!! :)

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (yields 12 muffins)

Ingredients

3 very ripe bananas

1/4 c. vegetable oil

3/4 c. organic cane sugar

2 c. flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

1/3 c. vegan mini chocolate chips (optional)

Method


1. Preheat oven to 375. Meanwhile, mash the bananas in a medium sized bowl and add oil and sugar, stir to combine.

2. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients into the dry and stir until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

3. Grease or line muffin pan. Fill each cup 3/4 full.

4. Bake for about 20-25 minutes at 350. *Lower the temperature to 350 degrees after about 2 minutes of baking time. Muffins are done when a toothpick comes out clean. (Mine are usually done right at 20 mins)

5. Allow muffins to cool for 1 minute in the pan and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

(This tip of spiking the oven temperature in the beginning and then lowering it actually helps prevent the muffins from sticking!)

Enjoy!

Eggplant 101 (and Roasted Veggie Melts)

image

“Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables. They probably get jet-lagged, just like people.” ~Elizabeth Berry

Eggplant used to scare me. I avoided it at all costs. That is until I learned about its properties and how to prepare it. If you handle it incorrectly it could be your worst nightmare but if you treat it properly, it could be your newest best friend. I want to share some secrets of the world of eggplant with you and hope that you give this magnificent vegetable a chance in your kitchen!

Varieties of Eggplant:

There are many different varieties of eggplants in the US. The most common are the Italian eggplants which are usually dark purple (almost black) and oval shaped.

image

The second most common is the Asian or Japanese eggplants. They are long and tubular, sometimes even twisty.

image

You can even find white eggplant, speckled eggplant, and more! But as far as taste goes, there is not much of a difference. Some say that the Japanese and white eggplants have a more mild flavor than the Italian varieties. To me, they taste the same. However, the Japanese eggplants do tend to have thinner skin. When deciding which variety to buy, I suggest you focus more on the shape that you want for your eggplant in whatever recipe you plan to make. For example, if making a casserole, I want my eggplant slices to be small and round, so I would go with the Japanese variety. If making eggplant sandwiches, I would choose the Italian eggplant because I like large slices that fit on my bread. It’s up to you!

Choosing Eggplant:

1. Buying local eggplants is much preferred. You are guaranteed to eat them when they are in their peak season (which means they will taste better) and of course it is one of the best ways you can be environmentally friendly. If you can’t buy them at your local farmer’s market then choose organic eggplant at your local grocery/health food store.

2. All eggplants should have smooth skin, free of blemishes and bruises, and be firm when lightly squeezed. (Don’t squeeze too hard!) Avoid an eggplant that is wrinkly or that has soft spots, those are signs that the eggplant is too old. Eggplant is best kept in the refrigerator until ready to prepare.

Preparing Eggplant:

The most important property you need to know about eggplant is that it is absorbent. Like a sponge, it will soak up any liquid that you put on it. This can be good if you are making eggplant parmesan but this can be very bad when it comes to oil. Many people (who prepare eggplant incorrectly) complain of eggplant being mushy- and it can be if you let it soak up liquid!

That is why sweating the eggplant is essential before cooking it. This is when you salt the eggplant and allow it to sit. The salt extracts the excess liquid within the eggplant, so that when you cook it and it absorbs more moisture, it isn’t too moist.

Sweating Eggplant:

Decide whether you will peel your eggplant or leave the skin on. This is up to personal preference. Then slice your eggplant as you wish, either horizontally into rounds, or lengthwise into strips/slices. Be careful not to cut your eggplant too thick or too thin, as this will either make it too dry or too moist. I usually cut mine to 1/4” thick slices. Then lay out all your slices and salt them. If you want to be really thorough you could salt both sides but I usually just do the top. Then set your kitchen timer for 30 minutes and let them sweat. When 30 minutes is up, rinse the salt off under cool water, quickly (like you would a mushroom- you don’t want it to absorb all the water!). Dry well on paper towels, pressing down lightly to absorb all the water. Then you are ready to cook your eggplant!

Cooking Eggplant:

My preferred method of cooking eggplant is roasting. You can also grill, sauté or fry eggplant (we don’t like to use the “f” word in our house!). If grilling eggplant, make sure you brush both sides of your slices with olive oil before placing on the grill. Today I’d like to focus on roasting eggplant. My instructions for roasting eggplant are included in my recipe below. I typically roast my eggplant this same way before using it in almost any recipe!

Recipe:

These “roasted veggie melts” are great for lunch or dinner. Even non-veggie lovers are sure to love this sandwich since it is reminiscent of an Italian sandwich- only in this case, sans meat. Eggplant is a great meat-replacer. If we’re at home we like to make them this way under the broiler on crusty bread. Another thing I like to do is after cooking all of these veggies let them cool and put them into tupperware containers in the fridge. Then we take regular bread to lunch, veggies, and cheese, etc. We toast the bread at work and melt everything else on the bread and it’s a healthy yummy lunch!

Roasted Veggie Melts (makes several sandwiches)

Ingredients

1 medium Italian eggplant, rinsed and dried

2 bell peppers, cut into long strips

1 yellow onion, cut into long strips

3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped roughly

extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 tomato, thinly sliced

Crusty rolls

provolone cheese slices

herbes de Provence/Italian seasoning

Italian dressing/mayo

Method

1. Slice your eggplant into rounds about 1/4” thick. Lay on cutting board. Salt them and allow to sweat for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

image

2. Quickly rinse eggplant slices under cool water and dry well on paper towels.

3. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray or brush with oil. Arrange eggplant slices on baking sheet. Freshly grind some pepper over them- they don’t need any more salt. Brush with a light coat of olive oil on top sides of the slices. Or you could spray them with non-stick cooking spray of your choice.

image

4. Roast eggplant in oven at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes depending on how thick or thin slices are. Check on them if needed to make sure you don’t burn them.

image

5. Sauté the onions and peppers in some olive oil over medium heat until soft, then add garlic and sauté for a minute more. Season with salt and pepper.

image

image

6. To make sandwiches, open up your hoagie rolls and lightly brush the insides with olive oil. Preheat the broiler and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (or use the same one from the eggplant) and spray with non-stick spray or brush with olive oil.

7. Lay open-faced hoagie rolls on lined baking sheet and on bottom side of each roll layer roasted eggplant slices. Then top with some of the pepper, onion and garlic mixture. Lay some slices of tomato on top, sprinkle with seasoning of your choice (I like to use herbes de Provence, hubby likes Italian seasoning) and put some provolone cheese on top.

8. Put open-faced sandwiches under broiler until bread is crisp and cheese is melted. Keep watch so they don’t burn! About 2 minutes.

9. Then drizzle some natural Italian dressing on top (or in my husband’s case he likes to put mayo on it) and Enjoy!!

image

Here are some other Eggplant Recipes that I’ve tried and really liked:

Cornmeal-Crusted Ratatouille Tart (I used whole wheat instead of cornmeal for the crust)

Eggplant Gratin

Grilled Vegetables

Stuffed Eggplant with Shrimp and Basil

– Also stay tuned for my own recipe for Eggplant Burgers coming soon!!

Photo Credits:

Japanese Eggplant

Italian Eggplant