Pepperoni “Pasta” Salad

pepperoni noodle salad 2

The warmer days are becoming more and more abundant and we’re getting closer to actual summer, which means more salads and other cold foods. I love the change in eating that each season brings and look forward to the variety that each season offers.

This cold “noodle” salad is reminiscent of pizza and tastes incredible. It’s fresh, light, and full of Italian flavor. The “Rawmesan” really brings the salad together and adds a wonderful cheesy flavor minus the actual cheese. If you don’t want to buy it, you can also make your own by following this recipe. It’s very easy. Alternatively, you can opt for some high-quality Parmesan if you tolerate it. I personally do okay with small amounts of aged cheese, like Parmesan, but find that I feel better without cheese completely and prefer to mostly avoid it. So, I opted for the Rawmesan. Do what’s best for you.

I recommend eating this within a couple days, as the zucchini starts to soften slightly and more water is drawn out (of course, it still tastes good though). If you do have leftovers, it works well to add a little more zucchini and fresh basil the next day.

Meanwhile, I’m off to NYC bright and early this morning for an intense 3-day kettlebell training and then some fun. I can’t wait, as I love NYC!

Cheers and enjoy!

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Ingredients:

  • 3-4 medium zucchini, spiralized
  • 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 4 oz package Applegate Farms mini turkey pepperoni, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • About 1/3 cup Rawmesan or high-quality Parmesan cheese, if tolerated

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini noodles, cherry tomatoes, basil, red onion, and pepperoni.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, garlic granules, sea salt, and black pepper.
  3. Pour dressing over salad and mix well with tongs. Lastly, mix in the Rawmesan or Parmesan cheese. Serve.

 

Smoky Sweet Potato, Kale & Pineapple Salad

This salad is a mix of sweet, smoky and spicy, and just the thing to share at an upcoming Memorial Day barbecue or other gathering this summer. I recommend making it ahead of time, so that it can sit in the fridge for a few hours before eating. The salad becomes much more flavorful, although it’s still good if you don’t have time for that…or aren’t patient. I really enjoy this side dish with chicken, but think it would pair well with nearly any protein.

Meanwhile, you can catch me making this recipe on KATU Afternoon Live on Friday, May 26! Watch the replay of my segment HERE.

Cheers and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large white sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium orange sweet potato (I used a jewel), peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp salt-free mesquite seasoning blend, separated (I used this one, which is unsweetened)
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple, cut into 1/2 to 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups loosely packed curly green kale leaves, de-stemmed & chopped
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Spread sweet potatoes onto a large baking sheet and drizzle with melted coconut oil. Mix in the minced garlic, 1 Tbsp of the mesquite seasoning, and sea salt and black pepper, to taste.
  3. Place in preheated oven and roast for 30-35 minutes, stirring halfway through. Once done, set aside to cool completely.
  4. Add the kale to a large bowl and generously season with sea salt. Massage the sea salt into the kale with your hands for 1-2 minutes (this helps the kale soften and makes it more flavorful). Then, add the olive oil, red onion, pineapple, and remaining 1 tsp of mesquite seasoning. Stir well.
  5. Once sweet potatoes have cooled, add to the kale mixture and gently stir. Taste and add more mesquite seasoning, sea salt, black pepper or olive oil, if desired.
  6. If possible, allow flavors to marinate in the fridge for at least a couple hours before serving. When ready to serve, I recommend sprinkling on a dash more mesquite seasoning, but this is optional.

Dill Pickle Deviled Eggs

deviled eggsWith spring (sort of) in the air and Easter on the horizon, I thought I’d share a deviled egg recipe. I will also be making this recipe live on KATU Afternoon Live on Monday, April 10, so stay tuned. UPDATE: catch the replay of my segment HERE.

Meanwhile, I love deviled eggs! Oddly enough, I didn’t try one for the first time until I was 24 years old. Crazy, I know. Growing up, I was scared of deviled eggs. I thought they stunk and looked weird. But, I was a kid that would only eat egg yolks in the form of scrambled eggs — no runny yolks, no fried eggs, no hardboiled eggs (except bites of the white), etc. When I finally bit into a deviled egg at a friend’s house several years ago, I was shocked what I’d been missing out on. So good! Now, I’m a huge fan and that’s a great thing since I have a fridge full of deviled eggs (the first batch didn’t turn out how I wanted, so I made them again with tweaks).

Despite popular belief, deviled eggs can be healthy. I think it’s all a matter of quality. And, if you’re someone that still thinks eggs yolks are bad for you and cause high cholesterol and heart disease, you’re living under a rock. The FDA and American Heart Association reversed these claims because the science does not support it (and never did!). Eggs are incredibly healthy, especially when sourced from pasture-raised chickens. And, the yolks are the most nutritious part of the egg, as they’re full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Please don’t throw those away! But, I digress. If you’re reading and following my blog, you probably already know this anyway. If this is new information to you and you want to learn more, do some research. All of this information is accessible online.

Anyway, in terms of the other ingredients in deviled eggs, choose high-quality. I’m mainly talking about the mayo here. Dijon mustard is pretty straight forward or should be anyway, but check your labels to make sure. With the mayo, avoid those made with inflammatory soybean or canola oil, and either make your own with avocado oil (macadamia nut oil is great too) or buy this high-quality avocado oil mayonnaise.

A bonus health benefit of this deviled egg recipe is that you get a little dose of probiotics, thanks to the garlic dill pickle gut shot. It adds great flavor and healthy bugs, so yay. If you can’t find it or prefer not to use it, opt for a high-quality pickle brine instead. Please make sure there’s no weird stuff in the brine like yellow dye, polysorbate, etc. I have seen that stuff in pickles!

Cheers and enjoy!

closeup deviled egg

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Cut each egg in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the yolks into a medium-sized bowl. Place egg whites onto a plate or tray, face side up.
  2. Add the mayo, Dijon mustard, gut shot or pickle brine, dried dill, sea salt and black pepper to the bowl with the egg yolks. Mash and stir well (alternatively, you can blend this in a food processor for an ultra-smooth texture). Taste and add adjust seasoning, if needed.
  3. *Spoon a little bit of the mixture into each egg white half, dispersing it evenly between the eggs. Sprinkle eggs with paprika and dried dill for garnish.

*Note: If desired, pipe the yolk mixture into the whites with a pastry bag instead of using a spoon. A plastic bag with a tip cut off works as well to pipe the mixture.

Yields: 12 deviled eggs

 

Zesty Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Cauliflower “Rice”

roasted-sweet-potatoes-and-rice

Happy New Year! I hope all of you had wonderful holidays, got to spend time with loved ones, and enjoyed good food…and maybe drinks too! Jesse and I had a lovely time back in Michigan and as usual, the time flew by much too fast. There were many holiday festivities while we were home and even a little birthday celebration for Jesse (his 36th birthday was NYE – also the day we flew back to Portland). We’re grateful for the time we had, and feel fortunate we were able to be there for and with our families.

Meanwhile, I have an intention to invest more time in my blog this year, even if it’s only a little bit more. I enjoy having this space to share and miss doing so on a more regular basis. Last year was challenging in many ways and stepping back was necessary for me. Some challenges still continue, but things are evolving. Coming back around, I think blogging will be quite nurturing and I look forward to it.

Anyway, onto this side dish. It’s a bit zesty, a little spicy, and a lot flavorful! Pair it with chicken, fish, eggs, or even meatballs for a complete meal. I think it’s even tasty cold, but with the frigid temps we’ve been having (in the 20s, which is so cold for Portland), I’ll stick to eating it warm for now. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large white sweet potatoes, peeled & chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced into thin half moons
  • 16 oz coarsely riced cauliflower (I used a fresh riced pack from New Seasons)
  • 1-2 Tbsp avocado oil (I used this brand)
  • 1.5 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Fresh ground lemon pepper seasoning, to taste (I used this one)
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On a large baking sheet, mix together sweet potato pieces, onion, garlic, all the spices, and 1 Tbsp of the avocado oil. Place in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  2. Remove the pan from the oven and add the cauliflower rice. If needed and/or desired,  add up to 1 Tbsp more avocado oil and additional sea salt and black pepper. Mix well and place pan back in oven for 20-30 minutes, stirring midway through.

 

Broccoli Bacon Salad

Broccoli Bacon Salad

It’s the point in the term where everything comes crashing down, and I’ll be busting my buns right up until the last day of the term. There’s A LOT to do, so much so that I feel like I’m suffocating a little bit, especially because I have my wedding ceremony to think about too (including writing vows, which I have yet to start). I wrap everything up for this term two days before my wedding and the day my family arrives, which is June 6. I know it will all come together, and even though it’s going to be a bit stressful and chaotic, it will be fine. Somehow, things always end up working out. I keep reminding myself to take things in stride, BREATHE, and take one day at a time. I also need to take advantage of my time and prioritize appropriately, which is sometimes easier said than done. Anyway, that’s that! I’ll be a-okay, but just needed to put it out there because it makes me feel better! Also, I am by no means complaining, so please don’t misinterpret my rant. I am very grateful and happy, but just a wee bit overwhelmed!

*******

Does anyone remember eating the broccoli salad that had bacon, raisins, sunflower seeds and a creamy, slightly sweet mayo dressing? It often made an appearance at our family gatherings when I was growing up and more often than not, I enjoyed it. I think nearly every mom in my hometown had the recipe too. I don’t know if it was shared at PTA meetings or in elementary school cookbooks, but so many women made it at social gatherings. I kid you not!

Anyway, I got to thinking about the salad recently because I had a bunch of broccoli in my refrigerator that needed to be used up, pronto. I didn’t have any mayo made and really wasn’t feeling a mayo-based dressing anyway, so revamped it as a slightly creamy vinaigrette. It turned out very well and I was surprised how much it tasted like the original salad. Honestly, I think it’s the bacon, sunflower seeds and raisins (or in my recipe, currants) that really make the salad taste the way it does. For those of you that remember the salad I’m referring to, see for yourself. For everyone else, enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head broccoli, chopped (peel & chop stems too)
  • 1/8 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 4 slices good quality bacon, cooked & chopped
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dried currants (this brand is good)
  • 3-4 Tbsp raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 tsp full-fat coconut milk (I like this brand or this brand)
  • 1/4 tsp raw honey
  • 1/8 tsp mustard powder
  • Himalayan sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the broccoli, onion, bacon, currants and sunflower seeds.
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, coconut milk, raw honey, mustard powder, sea salt and pepper.
  3. Pour dressing over mixture and stir well. Refrigerate at least 6-8 hours or overnight. Pull out of the fridge about 10 minutes before serving, to allow dressing to soften (it firms up in the fridge since it’s an olive oil based dressing).
  4. Enjoy with burgers, grilled chicken, steak, fish, etc. Anything really!

Broccoli Bacon Salad

Red Coconut Cauliflower Rice

Red coconut cauliflower rice.

This post was actually meant for yesterday, but life got busy and I didn’t get it done. Yes, I could have found the time, but I felt like there was no harm in waiting. Plus, I just wasn’t feeling it yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, I love my little blog, but some days blogging just feels hard! Any of my fellow bloggers out there feel the same way?

Lately, I’ve been making cauliflower rice a lot more. I think it’s because I got a new bigger food processor that makes prep a breeze. You see, before, I was using a tiny 4-cup prep food processor and had to rice cauliflower in multiple batches, which took a fair amount of time. It didn’t come as a big surprise when the motor in that little guy crapped out. I always pushed its limits and take full credit for it’s death (on the bright side, I got my money back, even after having it for over a year). Now, my 11-cup Cuisinart rices the sh*t out of cauliflower! Thanks to my sis, Ashley for giving me this as a wedding shower gift. I definitely needed it!

Anyway, I love the versatility of cauliflower rice and appreciate how easy it is to prepare. Sometimes though, it gets boring, so it’s nice to create different variations. This specific recipe is great with stir fry, curry, stew or something as simple as baked chicken thighs. I’ll leave it up to you to decide what you want to serve it with.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small head cauliflower, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 3-4 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut

Directions:

  1. Toss chopped cauliflower pieces into the food processor. Pulse several times until cauliflower is riced.
  2. Melt coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the riced cauliflower and season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Cook for a couple minutes. Then, add the cayenne and paprika, and stir.
  3. Continue to cook for a few more minutes over medium-low heat. Adjust seasonings if need be.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the shredded coconut.

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Baked Bananas and Squash

Baked bananas and butternut squash.

Wow, what a morning it’s been. I’m already whooped and the day continues! I woke up tired from a poor night’s sleep, ate breakfast, studied a little and then dropped our cat, Mila, off at the vet just after 7 this morning for a procedure. After seeing her off and getting the lowdown from the vet tech, I drove straight to school for two challenging back-to-back finals. I felt really bad leaving Mila, especially because she was crying, scared and hungry (we couldn’t feed her after 8 p.m. last night), but it’s for her best interest. Jesse will pick her up later this evening. Poor little dear.

Now, I need to pack for my trip home to Michigan, nap (hopefully) and go to work. My flight is at 12:55 a.m. tonight, well technically tomorrow morning, so I’m going to try and sleep briefly again tonight, before going to the airport. Then, I’ll get a few hours of crummy sleep on the flight, have a 4-hour layover in Minneapolis (yuck) and then a 2-hour flight directly into my hometown of Alpena. It exhausts me just thinking about everything, but it’s only one day and I’ll make it through. Plus, I get to see my family, attend my wedding shower and not think about school since I’m officially on spring break. It’s all good stuff and the pros outweigh the cons.

Meanwhile, here’s a good, carb-y side dish for you all. Jesse and I ate it with chicken breasts and sauteed kale for dinner, which was a great combo. It’d be awesome with some eggs and bacon or sausage too. For an extra dash of yum, drizzle with coconut butter…mmm!

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cubed
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted (I like this brand)
  • 2 medium bananas, thinly sliced (use just-ripened bananas that are yellow, but have no or few brown spots)
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Dash of cayenne
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened pineapple or orange juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Place squash cubes on a baking sheet and toss with the coconut oil, cinnamon, cayenne and sea salt. Add the bananas and pour pineapple or orange juice over everything. Toss again, gently, so as to not mash up the bananas. Sprinkle with more cinnamon, if desired.
  3. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until squash is tender.

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