Pad Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing

A long, long time ago, I was in a serious relationship with pasta.

Spaghetti, penne, tortellini, ravioli, fettuccine, and any other type of noodle that I could get my knife and fork on… I devoured it in a mere blink of an eye. This relationship never wavered or faltered. It was an utter devotion to the infamous carb and grew stronger as each year went by.

My relationship with pasta peaked as I discovered Noodles & Company, along with their delicious array of pasta dishes from different parts of the world.  I would frequent Noodles & Co. at least twice a week, usually selecting the classic mediterranean penne rosa or the asian pad thai dish, depending on which region’s cuisine I was craving at the time. Looking back on this relationship, I think it may have been one sided (on my part), because the endless helpings of pasta didn’t exactly gift me with a chiseled physique. However, with every relationship, you remember the good times, you learn from your mistakes, and you move on.

Fast forward about 8 years, and I would like to think that my eating habits have changed a bit.  I am now in many different culinary relationships. From kale and coconut to avocados and salmon… I get around.  However, these new culinary relationships are definitely two-sided, satisfying my taste buds while also improving my health. Overall they’ve been fairly stable relationships and I do not have any urgent complaints. But even so, I still get that occasional urge to hop in my car, speed to Noodles & Co., and chow down on a heaping plate of pad thai.

Enter: Pad Thai Quinoa.

I know what you’re thinking. It will never work. But believe me, it really, truly does.

I found a recipe online last week and with my family’s approval, I made a Pad Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing for dinner one night. It was delicious! My dad even told me I could make it every week if I wanted.  And most importantly, it took me right back to my pasta-feasting days, minus the gluten and the 830 calories (thanks, Noodles website).

Pad Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing

Pad Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing It’s perfect for summer because you can serve it cold and you can even add some grilled chicken or shrimp if you want! (I used coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, but everything else I kept the same as the original recipe). I will definitely be making this again when I get those carb-loaded cravings that are bound to occur. But I don’t even feel like slightest bit of guilt about it.

Some people say you can’t eat healthy and still enjoy your favorite foods.

But I say… I’m pretty sure that’s just an excuse for you to not cancel your Noodles & Co. order that you already made for tonight.

Fiesta Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

I’m back! College ended. Graduation happened. Summer arrived. And I am once again laying on my parents couch, bored out of my mind, pretending that I will be going back to school in three short months.  And while I’m living in this … Continue reading

Warm Sweet Potato and Pear Winter Salad

While many of you may have finally ventured out into the snowy conditions today, I’m assuming there are still quite a few of you curled up on the couch who refuse to bundle up, shovel off your cars, and brave the questionable roads.

Even though snow days were the highlight of our childhoods, they don’t hold the same excitement in adulthood. You are quarantined inside your house, forced to perform excessive manual labor if you want to flee, and will most likely end up getting snow in unwanted places, no matter how many layers you put on before heading outside.

And although sometimes it’s nice to lay around all day and have nothing to do, those of us who are trying to keep ourselves away from the pantry/kitchen/cookie jar are challenged to practice much more self control than we were originally prepared for.  Because even though you can’t go to the gym, run your errands, go out shopping, or meet a friend for lunch on a snow day, you CAN microwave some popcorn, make some chocolate chip pancakes, boil a box of pasta, and bake a multi-layer cake on a snow day.

On lazy days like these, our bodies all of a sudden become infinitely more hungry, asking for more food just moments after finishing a meal.

It’s 1pm and I have no plans for the rest of the day. There’s nothing good on TV and no matter how many times I click refresh, my Facebook newsfeed is still the same. Well, I guess I’ll make something to eat so I can pretend I’m being a productive human. 

Next thing you know, it just reached noon and you’ve already had breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And now you’re planning dessert.

What’s worse is that none of these meals consist of healthy, crisp salads. Because who craves a mix of cold vegetables during weather conditions when there could potentially be a wooly mammoth living in your backyard? So instead, you turn to your next best option – a nice, big bowl of warm pasta with steaming tomato sauce and maybe a side of fresh mashed tomatoes topped with melted butter. Basically the same as a salad right?

Lucky for you, I have a healthy, warm recipe for you to make tonight (assuming you didn’t already eat your dinner in your boredom-infused eating frenzy).

Warm Sweet Potato and Pear Winter Salad

Ingredients: 

  1. 1 sweet potato
  2. 1/2 head of broccoli
  3. 2 large handfuls of spinach
  4. 2 handfuls of baby bella mushrooms or 2 sliced portabellos
  5. 1 sliced pear
  6. 1 sliced red onion
  7. 1 handful of walnuts
  8. 2 handfuls of mixed greens
  9. 2 Tbsp olive oil
  10. 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  11. 1 Tbsp maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Slice the mushrooms, onions, sweet potato and pear and put into glass baking pan drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice
  2. Place pan into preheated oven at 425 degrees and roast for about 15 minutes, until vegetables/pears are tender
  3. Spread spinach over top of roasted pears/vegetables and mix so that it will slowly wilt
  4. Cut broccoli and steam in microwave for about 2 minutes, until tender
  5. Toast walnuts
  6. Whisk olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup into a dressing and drizzle over mixed greens
  7. Add roasted vegetables and pears, steamed broccoli, and toasted walnuts to the bed of mixed greens and divide salad onto 2-3 plates

warmsalad

The roasted pears and toasted walnuts are a perfect complement to the other warm vegetables and all together they provide a delicious, healthy snow day dinner.

Spaghetti Squash with Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Now that the time has come where I can’t even venture to my mailbox without a huge winter coat, scarf, boots, and gloves, I have found myself craving some of my favorite comforting, carb-loaded dishes.  But seeing that I would have to rename this blog to A Bigger Bite if I wanted to include these beloved recipes, I decided to craft a lighter version of one of my all-time favorite meals.

Ever since I can remember, a heaping plate of pasta topped with pesto has been my go-to indulgence.  (Just see Dinner with Grandma to find out why…) So since spaghetti squash seems to be the new trend this fall, my roommate and I decided to join the band wagon and indulge, while still adding our own flare to the meal.  I bring you…

Caprese Spaghetti Squash with Pumpkin Seed Pesto

INGREDIENTS:
Spaghetti Squash:
  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 Tomato, chopped
  • 6 Oz Fresh Mozzarella (omit for vegan alternative)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Pesto:
  • 1/2 C raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 handful of fresh basil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Pinch of sea salt
INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Lightly grease pan
  3. Cut spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds (You can save them to roast later!)
  4. Place squash face down on pan and cook 30-45 min, until soft
  5. Put all ingredients for pesto in food processor and pulse until smooth, pesto consistency
  6. Let squash cool enough to touch, and then scoop out “spaghetti” with a fork
  7. Toss with mozzarella, tomato, and salt and pepper
  8. Top with pesto and voila!

*Serves 2

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Acorn Squash Stuffed With Quinoa and Pistachios

A few days ago, I stepped outside of my comfort zone and made a recipe that seemed a bit more intimidating than usual. When my friend told me that I was “selling myself short” after writing off a few complicated recipes I had seen, I decided to accept the culinary challenge.  I’m not very experienced when it comes to cooking with fall foods (squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, etc) so I recently found myself in a food-rut, longing for the colorful salads and green smoothies from the summer. There was only one thing to do – take the leap and dive into these seasonal staples.

I came across this roasted acorn squash recipe the other day while browsing through Weekly Greens, and realized I just needed to go for it.  To my surprise – it took less than 30 minutes total for prepping and cooking, it was delicious, AND it was roommate approved.

I made two separate batches – one with feta, one without, and both were equally appetizing.  For the vegan alternative, I just doubled the amount of pistachios that the original had called for.

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Now to my next leap of faith?
I have somehow mustered up the courage to make peace with my juicer so that I can (hopefully) endure another 3-day juice cleanse.  College life has once again gotten the best of me, so in an attempt to rid myself of the various toxins that come with this 4-year package, I have declared today Day 1 of my juice extravaganza.

Stay tuned…

A 21st Birthday to Remember…

Follow my blog with Bloglovin It’s official. Fall is here, people. So pack up your bathing suits, bring out your box of boots and sweaters, and hunker down under a fleece blanket. Since you’re now hopefully in “fall-mode” after following … Continue reading

Coconut-Lime Grilled Chicken Salad

On Sunday, I decided to get a head start to the week by pre-selecting about five different recipes that I wanted to try to make for dinner. Since my parents are away in North Carolina, and unable to cater my every meal, I thought this week would be a great test to see whether or not I can survive for the next year, living in a house where I will be required to cook (or order takeout) for myself each day. On one hand, if I fail this test, I guess I’m screwed and should probably open up my current job search to include sushi restaurants, since I could benefit from an employee discount. However, if I succeed, this year could be the beginning of a culinary adventure!

After making a list of the various ingredients I would need, I headed to Wegmans to stock up. Little did I know, my attempt at being a mature, independent, and capable adult would be shattered simply by approaching the free-sample stand they had set up of organic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The following is an excerpt from my conversation with the guy giving out the free samples:

  • Me: Hi! Can I try one?
  • Old Man: Where’s your mom?
  • Me: Ummm.. I’m just by myself..
  • Old Man: Well, how old are you dear?
  • Me: 20…
  • Old Man: Oh! Well now I’m embarrassed… I just needed to make sure you were at least the age of 14.. you know, for liability reasons, since younger kids aren’t always aware of peanut allergies that they may have.

Um, what.

…So you can understand my increased uncertainty and overall concern regarding my independence, after just being mistaken for a preteen.

Anyway, I am finally moving past that unfortunate experience and am now prepared to share the dinner I made last night. I wanted to do a simple salad with grilled chicken, so I took a leap of faith and threw some seasonings and juices into a bowl to make my own marinade. And to my surprise, it worked! Here’s the recipe:

Coconut-Lime Grilled Chicken Salad

Marinade:

  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos (you can substitute low-sodium soy sauce, too)
  • a few generous shakes of jerk seasoning
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp Himalayan Salt

Salad:

  • few handfuls of mixed greens
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced

I coated 3 chicken breasts in the marinade and let sit for 10-15 minutes while the oven was preheating to 375.

Since I have no grill skills, I cooked the chicken in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Then, I sliced one of the breasts, served it on the salad, and drizzled the leftover marinade on the top, as a dressing.

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It was actually one of the best grilled chicken recipes that I’ve tasted, so I’m pretty impressed with myself. Let’s hope the next four dinner recipes that I have planned for the week don’t fall short. Except, when you think about it, there aren’t really any expectations when you have a 13-year-old in the kitchen.

Super-Filling Grainless Granola

I had a second appointment with my nutritionist yesterday, and after complaining to her that I needed a little more variety in my diet and/or more ideas for meals, she gave me this recipe and told me to try it for lunch, swapping out my usual salad.  She had actually made this recipe that morning and she proceeded to pull out her mini mason jar carrying the granola.  However, the granola mixture only took up about half of the jar and judging by the amount in there, it looked like I would be able to eat the whole thing in about four generous bites.  Needless to say, when she told me that it was so filling that it could substitute for my lunch and usual afternoon snack, I was already thinking of the 3 or 4 additional snacks I would need to add to my diet in order to compensate for this “meal”.

Well, I was wrong.

I made this “granola” for lunch today and also brought along an afternoon snack for before my workout.  Did I eat the snack? No.

The ingredients for this recipe are kind of intimidating and many of you will probably read this list and think – “Welp, don’t have a single one of those ingredients she listed, next…” But I actually use all of these things in so many of my snacks/meals, so I really recommend going out and getting some of them to have in the kitchen.

Ingredients:

– 2 tbsp chia seeds

-2 tbsp hemp seeds

-1 tbsp ground flax seeds

-1 tbsp coconut oil

-1 tbsp shredded coconut

-2 tbsp raw cacao nibs

-2 tbsp gogi berries

-1/2 scoop protein powder

-handful of blueberries

-1 tsp of agave or honey

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After putting all of the ingredients into a container and mixing, pour almond milk over the mixture until the liquid just covers it.

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Now wait for it……

BAM!Image

In just a few minutes, the seeds soak up the liquid and the mixture turns into a granola/pudding-type consistency, ready to eat! (OR, ready to be covered and taken for later).

I ate this slowly, over the course of maybe 2-3 hours, because just a few bites are deceivingly filling (that’s because it’s loaded with lots of healthy fats).

Just like the “Mounds of Goodness” that I posted before, you can obviously add or subtract any ingredients to make it more appealing, or to make it more do-able, depending on the fixings that you already have in your kitchen.

In other news, I’m off to Charleston tomorrow for a long weekend trip, so maybe I will find some southern inspiration for my next post! See you later..y’all?

A Different Take on Tabouli

For dinner this evening, my mom and I decided to try a recipe from the “Raw Food” cookbook that I purchased from my nutritionist, also the author of the cookbook. We chose her Tabouli recipe, but decided to make a few changes due to of our own preferences.

Instead of using bulger wheat, we used a combination of lentils and brown rice that my mom cooked over the stove(we made the raw recipe…. not raw).  This also allowed us to make the recipe gluten-free.  We combined the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl and gradually added the rice/lentil mix until the flavoring was just right.

In the separate bowl we added finely chopped parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and avocado.  For seasoning, we used salt, pepper, coriander, mustard powder, and paprika.  We tried to stick to most of what the recipe called for, but it’s easy to play around with the ingredients and substitute different amounts or different vegetables/seasonings to get the right flavor or taste you would like.

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We served the finished product on a bed of spinach and — Voilá! This was probably my favorite dish that I’ve made since the start of my semi-raw, mostly vegan diet. The only thing that really takes time is cooking the lentils and brown rice, other than that it was really fast to prepare! Now if only I had prepared one of the raw-vegan desserts from the cookbook to eat afterwards…

Sunflower Seed Sundays

After a very busy weekend, I decided to try out one of the recipes the nutritionist had given me for dinner this evening.  My new diet has been surprisingly easy and I’ve been a lot less hungry throughout the day, … Continue reading