Watermelon Salad with Feta, Basil and Mint (Keto-Friendly!)

We’re having a cold spell recently… and I don’t hate it. There’s something about sweating before you even leave the house that just seems wrong. my dog is happier, I can wear better outfits to work…. it just works out better.

Now that I’m so close to a dog park for the summer, I take Sydney and walk over to the park so she can make friends and  get some exercise. She is so out of shape… that makes two of us (at least cardio). I probably couldn’t run for longer than 5-10 minutes at this point, but it’s probably worth it to start. There was at least two dozen dogs in and out of the dog field, and Sydney made a bunch of new friends.

I am also ready to eat some more garden food!!! All my little herblets are growing so well, I’m so excited. We had an abundance of basil in a giant flowerpot so I wanted to make something fresh like caprese… I just didn’t have mozzarella. Use what you got, yo. I’ll put a jalapeno in anything, it’s just the best. I’m not a big fan of feta cheese, but it definitely has the right briny flavor to make this salad work with the sweet watermelon and spicy jalapeno.

Short and sweet. Enjoy this recipe!

Watermelon Salad with Feta, Basil and Mint (Keto-Friendly!)

prep time: 20 min

cook time: n/a

serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of semi-ripe watermelon, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, diced into small pieces
  • 2 small English cucumbers, peeled and diced into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup of feta, small crumbles, plus more if desired
  • 1 large jalapeno, minced, ribs seeds and stems removed
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • pinch Himalayan sea salt

Directions

  1. Combine all fresh ingredients in a large bowl. Mix gently, so as to not bruise or break the watermelon and tomato.
  2. Drizzle with balsamic, adding more if desired. Season with a pinch of sea salt.

Best served right away, or brought to room temperature (to catch all the flavors!)

Enjoy 🙂

-S

Chipotle Caesar Salad (Paleo)

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You know when you’ve reached “old” when you feel as though the end of year shuffle had just come on and gone, when in reality it was 12 whole months ago. Back to the same grind, having all this time off of work, thinking I won’t have any time to do anything, and ending up with all the time in the world to do everything. I’ve done a lot of shopping (I should stop), a lot of cleaning, a lot of eating… I’ve done a LOT of working out.

2017 was an interesting year. I think after the volcanic eruption that was 2016, people yearned for a change. They were electrified – ready to rip the band-aid off, ready to reach in and pull their heart out and heal what ailed them. In Chinese astrology, each zodiac year is not just associated with an animal sign, but also one of five elements: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, or Earth. Both the zodiac sign and the element influence the astrology of the year itself. Element-sign combinations recur every 60 years. A friend of mine who is also a Feng Shui expert (check out her website here!) got me thinking, and I did a bit of research myself.

2017 was a Fire Rooster year. There was chaos… a lot of ups and downs, but nothing seemed to last too long. Rooster years are a weird but even blend of righteousness and justice, braggadocio and efficiency, back and forth. 2017 was a year to get involved in something, if not everything. A lot of change was unearthed, which in this instance is for the best. People have become more aware of their intentions, more flexible – how they can make changes for 2018 will help them advance in their awareness.

This upcoming year is the year of the Earth Dog. 2018 is the year for those who are loyal, considerate, and well-disciplined to shine. This is a strong year for financial potential by means of new business opportunities, increased cash flow, building good reputation and a high social status for the workhorse out there. You might see that there will be more social gatherings and more to celebrate. As we bring more balance into our lives, we will recognize that the tumultuous times of 2017 can be calmed with our ability to match the good with the bad, the high with the low, and the peace with the chaos.

Take some time to look up your Zodiac signs and how they correspond to 2018 – when noticing trends, be sure to keep them in your thoughts as you kick off 2018 so you can start with the right outlook, the best attitude and stay open to opportunity!

 

While this serves as a rough guide (be sure to check your birthdate to make sure you have the right one – it goes by the Chinese Lunar Calendar, which is a bit different than the Jan 1-Dec 31 calendar!)

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Start off this new year with a tasty and simple treat 🙂

 

Chipotle Caesar Salad (Paleo)

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Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 30 min

Serves 8-10

 

Ingredients

  • 2 small garlic cloves, grated or pressed
  • 1 tsp anchovy paste (found near the canned tuna in the supermarket)
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (I am a stickler for Grey Poupon)
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce (from canned chipotles in adobo)
  • 2 egg yolks (if you are opposed to using raw egg, you can use ½ cup of Coconaise instead)
  • 1/3 cup high quality organic olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground Himalayan sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • (optional: freshly grated parmesan for a non-paleo garnish)

 

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, anchovy paste, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce until smooth.
  2. Add the egg (or mayo), salt and pepper and continue to whisk until well combined. Taste and adjust to your preference – more tang needed = more Dijon or lemon, more salt needed, or more garlic.
  3. Serve over some crunchy fresh romaine, alongside some Maple Ginger Salmon, or even a tasty chicken dish like Dijon Crusted Chicken!

Enjoy 🙂

-S

Easy Caprese Salad

This one goes out to all my Italian family and has a special place in my heart. Growing up, almost all of my extended “family” was Italian. I loved this, because we are not one iota of Italian. A little Czech, a little Native American, a smidge of Irish… but we definitely got to enjoy the family/food-centric-lifestyle of a big Italian family. My mom’s parents owned a mushroom farm, and for decades the mushroom industry was (and still is!) sustained by several prominent Italian families, many of which became our own.

I can tell you, this was absolutely more of a blessing than it was a curse. On the upside – everyone was your ‘cousin’! Go to the grocery store? See your cousins! At a party? Call them all your cousins! Half of them aren’t really your cousins, but it’s easier to explain than saying “my mom grew up with their mom Lisa and she dated Lisa’s brother for a year but then he married Patty… so that’s my Aunt Lisa.”

Generations grew up alongside each other, and the grandparents had their kids, who played alongside each other, married into another big local family, had kids and did the same thing all over again. Your network of people who care about you is your entire town. It’s a great thing.

On the downside… your family is your entire town. You’ve got so many “cousins” that you have to do a family tree run-through just to make sure you’re in the clear if you plan on going on any dates. Speaking for a friend.

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While there were plenty of dinners filled lasagnas and raviolis, and Seven Fish feasts to attend at Christmas, nothing is as simple (and equally delicious) as this salad. You don’t need any secret spices or coveted recipes by your Nana (but…. I need to find someone to give me a Gnocchi recipe… i’ll have to do some investigating…), you just need a big platter, the freshest Mozzarella, and some tomatoes and basil from your garden. Throw in some salt, pepper and a splash of balsamic and olive oil, and you have a fancy salad that looks beautiful anywhere.

That was basically a walkthrough of this recipe…. no, really! But i’ll still post how to arrange it. it is literally 2 steps – best simple salad ever.

Caprese Salad

Serves 6-8, small portions

Prep time: 10 min

Ingredients

  • 2 cups small mozzarella balls, in water
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ~ 2 tsp basil, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • pinch of fresh minced garlic (optional – literally just a PINCH – you do not want to overpower the salad)

Directions

  1. Mix mozzarella and cherry tomatoes in a bowl, stirring to get some of the tomato juice around.
  2. Add garlic (if using), then balsamic vinegar, then olive oil. Stir to coat salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I let mine sit for at least 20 minutes to marinate, but you can serve immediately.

Enjoy!

-S

Garlic Tahini Kale, a.k.a. “No New Friends” Salad (Paleo, Vegan)

fullsizeoutput_22cThis salad idea came upon me when I visited a certain nationwide chain of healthy food stores. This store is wonderful and I often like spend my life’s savings each time I visit, but since they charge what really feels like $57 per pound for their salad-bar food, I decided to make my own version myself. And then I decided to spend  the leftover money on a new sports bra from Athleta. Money well spent… but I realize it’s likely more money than just buying the damn salad. I’ll make sure I wear my bra when I eat my salad, just to prove a point. This salad also has the nickname… cue Drake voice… “No New Friends” Salad, because it is a bit STINKY…. stinky in the best way ever, who needs new friends?! Just don’t plan any dates or business meetings after eating this salad, unless you don’t like the people. In that case, eat the whole bowl and then sit really close to them while whispering them sweet-nothings like Marilyn Monroe.

On a more serious note, I honestly think kale is the most underrated leafy green out there. It’s popular, but aside from being trendy, there’s so many great things about kale.

It’s super high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, calcium, iron, and beta carotene… so many vitamins.  I think beta carotene is the most important, because it’s said to help fight against skin cancer…. and I love the sun. According to Dr. Drew Ramsey, MD, TEDx alum and member of Dr. Oz’s ShareCare, kale also contains phytonutrients called sulfurophane which helps your liver detox, as well as kaempferol, which is belived to help you keep your youthful glow. Well, you know what they say… closer to kale, closer to God.

They don’t say that, actually. That’s embarrassing.

Garlic Tahini Kale, a.k.a. “No New Friends” Salad

Prep time: 20min

Total Time: 20 min

Serves 8-10 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-sized head of curly kale, stems removed
  • 1/4 cup tahini, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce, or gluten-free tamari, may need more to taste
  • 6-7 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

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Directions:

  1. After removing the stems, chop kale up, loosely so it’s easier to bite. No one wants to eat one giant leaf, that’s hard. Once chopped, put in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In a smaller bowl, mix tahini and soy sauce, and stir until evenly mixed. Add garlic, continue to stir. Add lemon juice, also stirring. Slowly drizzle olive oil in until emulsified.
  3. Here’s where things can get a little dicey, but note, this does NOT impact the flavor. After adding the lemon juice, sometimes the dressing “curdles”, or separates. I don’t know why, but I would imagine it’s likely due to the citrus. As long as your ingredients are fresh, you shouldn’t need to worry. You won’t notice once it’s on the salad. Taste your dressing, and add more lemon or soy as needed. I doubt you’ll need more garlic, but you can add more if you think it needs it.
  4. Drizzle dressing over kale and stir thoroughly – it’s easiest with tongs. To make sure everything is coated, I really mix it up well for a few minutes. On the flip side, if you have too much dressing, just add more kale. Do whatever you want, this salad is just the greatest.
  5. You can serve immediately, but this is always the first thing I make so I can let it marinate on the counter while I cook other things. That way, the flavor really soaks in.

Enjoy! And don’t forget to comment and tell me about how yours came out 🙂

-S