light chinese chicken salad with sesame ginger vinaigrette.

It seems ubiquitous that my 100th post(!) is a salad. I suppose it would be completely appropriate if my salad was lemon-themed, but let’s face it, I am just not that organized, and lemons were not in my meal plan this week, aside from my daily warm lemon water routine (<– SO good for you!).

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However, today’s recipe is a salad of Asian inspiration, which is fitting, seeing as Asian flavors are ones that I never, ever tire of. Do you have flavors/cuisines like that? Even with the copious and frankly embarrassing amounts of ginger I consume on a weekly basis, I can never get enough. So I bring you a light and healthy Chinese chicken salad. I don’t think this recipe is authentically Chinese in any realm, but these salads have enjoyed massive popularity for years. Sadly, most restaurant versions are positively laden with sodium and fat, and before you know it, your “healthy” meal has turned into a calorie bomb. No thank you.

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Here, we are grilling our lean chicken breasts (you can use boneless, skinless thigh meat if that’s what you prefer), throwing tons of delicious veggies into our salad, and topping off with a delicious dressing that is rich, thanks to the sesame oil, but not cloying at all. Sliced, roasted almonds provide the crunch factor, and provide us with healthy fats which keep us fuller, longer. This is one recipe I can make over and over again, and never tire of. I hope it’ll do the same for you!

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light + healthy chinese chicken salad.
inspired by many of the Chinese chicken salads I’ve had over the years. 

1 heart of romaine, chopped
2 cups savoy cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup roasted, sliced almonds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, lightly pounded
sea salt and black pepper

dressing:
2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari, or gluten free soy sauce
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sriracha or chile-garlic sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned)
1 tablespoon diced fresh ginger

directions
To make the dressing: combine all ingredients except oil into a blender. With the blender on medium, stream in the tablespoon of oil to emulsify. Pour into a container and set aside.

To cook chicken: Turn the grill, grill pan or heavy cast iron skillet onto/over medium-high. Season chicken breast halves with salt and pepper. If using a grill pan or skillet, add in one teaspoon of grapeseed oil to the pan to heat. Cook the chicken for 5-6 minutes per side, or until no longer pink and the juices run clear. Remove to a platter, and cut into thin slices.

To assemble salad: In a large mixing bowl add cabbage, lettuce, carrots, red bell pepper, cilantro, almonds and sesame seeds. Add half the dressing, and lightly toss. Top with chicken and additional dressing if desired.

Serves 2 as a main dish salads.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

roasted pear + pomegranate salad.

Hi there! Are your Thanksgiving plans and preparation in full swing? Whether you are hosting, cooking, or tasked with bringing a dish, I have something for you today that definitely deserves a spot on your holiday table. This salad is rich yet healthy, and it’s remarkably simple to make!

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Now, I can probably guess what you’re thinking: a salad… really? It’s Thanksgiving! Turkey, potatoes, stuffing… it’s a meat and potato lovers dream meal! That may be true, but I love vegetables, so I’m always very excited when I’m asked to bring something vegetal and green to the table. This is bright and punchy, which is a refreshing contrast to all the heavy dishes. The roasted pears help add richness and make this salad feel holiday special.

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Arugula is spicy, and is complemented nicely by the bright pomegranates and my favorite lemon dressing. I used a raw sheep’s milk cheese, but crumbled goat cheese would be lovely in this salad. This will be on my holiday table, and I hope it’ll make on yours, too!

roasted pear + pomegranate salad.
adapted from Wegmans Menu Magazine, Fall 2016.

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ingredients
5 ounces (weight) baby arugula
2 large red pears, cored and quartered
2 ounces pomegranate seeds
2 ounces toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper

lemon dressing 
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
few dashes of white wine vinegar (about a 1/2 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon wildflower honey
scant 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 small shallot, chopped
salt and pepper
dash dried thyme
* you will have leftover dressing; will keep up to 10 days

directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss pear quarters with tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper (1/4 teaspoon each, give or take). Toss well and spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning once halfway through. Once lightly caramelized and tender but not soft, remove from oven and let cool completely.

While pears are cooking, add all the dressing ingredients except for the olive oil into the blender. While the blender is on, slowly stream in the oil to emulsify.

In a large bowl, combine the pomegranate seeds, walnuts, cheese and arugula. Add 1/4-1/3 of the dressing and toss gently to combine. Plate onto a serving platter and top with roasted pears. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6. Easily doubled or tripled.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

beef noodle bowls with sesame ginger dressing.

I’ve been trying to get more iron into my diet. I recently had some blood work, and it was revealed that I’m pretty deficient in my iron stores. I’ll soon be starting on some iron supplements, but I truly believe that the best way to get essential vitamins and minerals is through food. Since beef is one of the most well-known sources of iron, I figured it was the perfect starting point. I had a beautiful, lean top round steak in my freezer, and one Friday evening I decided to grill it up. It was nearly 1.25 pounds, so I had a lot leftover. Regular leftover steak sounded boring, so I made the leftover meat a focal point into a brand new, remade dish: asian beef noodle bowls.
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What a hit. Delicious cold, room temperature or hot, this is the ideal lunchtime food. I ate it cold on day one, and heated up the next day at work and both were equally delicious. You can bulk out the noodles with extra vegetables, and a delicious, luscious sesame ginger dressing. The dressing is thin, but coats the noodles, vegetables, and meat in the more delicate way. Give this a garnish with some sesame seeds and additional scallions, and you have a takeout-worthy dish that will simultaneously help you repurpose leftovers and clean out your vegetable crisper. Win-win!

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beef noodle bowls.
dressing adapted from The Pioneer Woman.

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ingredients
6-8 ounces leftover steak, thinly sliced (top sirloin, hanger, skirt, flank)*
4 ounces brown rice noodles or whole wheat thin spaghetti
1/2 cup white mushrooms, thinly sliced
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil

salad dressing:
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce (or 1/4 cup tamari)
1.5 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon avocado oil (can use olive or grapeseed)
1.5 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar OR coconut palm sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced

directions
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl. Meanwhile, take the leftover steak out of the fridge to pull the chill off of it.

Make the dressing: Combine the ingredients in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously until well combined. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Heat a non stick skillet over medium heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Once the oil is heated, add the mushrooms, carrots and pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until just slightly tender. Remove vegetables and add to the noodles. Add the scallions and beef and 1/2 of the dressing and toss to combine, adding more to your taste.

Divide amongst two bowls and top with sesame seeds. Eat cold or warm.

Serves 2.

**Please use grass fed beef and organic ingredients wherever possible**

Note: If you do not have leftover steak, you can simply sprinkle your choice of steak with sea salt and pepper and grill for 4-5 minutes per side, until medium rare. Let rest and slice, proceeding with the recipe.

 

 

 

sweet + tangy cucumber salad.

Can I give you one last hot weather recipe before the summer ends? I know it’s after Labor Day, but it was 90 degrees here yesterday, so I think it’s appropriate. This is an old school recipe, too. Cucumber salad. Not just any cucumber salad. A cucumber salad that teeters ever so slightly on the verge of too sweet, but yet somehow manages to stay just perfectly balanced between sweet and tangy. Ergo, the name of ‘sweet and tangy cucumber salad’ was born. I’m so clever.

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I received a container of this from my mom when she was visiting, courtesy of my grandmother, who sent it over from a picnic. My aunt was the one who had actually made it. I thought the original incarnation of this recipe was too sweet, so I cut back on the amount of sugar and oil, which is reflected in the recipe below. The onion becomes milder as it sits in the dressing, so I recommend making this at least an hour prior to serving.

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Take this to any end of summer picnics, and watch it disappear. Sometimes simple, family recipes really do take the cake.

sweet + tangy cucumber salad.
courtesy of my Aunt Terri’s recipe. image

ingredients 
2 cucumbers, peeled
1 onion, very thinly sliced
dressing:
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon celery seed

directions
Combine the sugar, vinegar, oil and celery seed into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Turn off and let cool. Set aside.

Peel cucumbers (if desired) and thinly slice and equal amount of cucumbers and sweet onions. Cut about an 1/8 inch thick. In a large bowl, combine the cooled dressing and the vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Serve chilled.

Note: The onion’s sharp flavor will decrease as it marinates in the dressing.

Serves 6 as a side.

**Please use ingredients wherever possible** 

 

raw corn + grilled zucchini quinoa with smoky lime vinaigrette.

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This salad is so simple and perfect for hot late summer days. It makes an amazingly simple dinner, and is even better the next day for lunch. I like this both warm and at room temperature. The salad is both gluten free and vegan, but if you wanted to add some additional protein, I think grilled shrimp would be divine.

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I didn’t even cook the corn for this, I simply cut it off the cob and added it to the bowl. If you prefer, you can cook the corn, but I love the simplicity of sweet, raw corn. I also thought the juxtaposition of the grilled zucchini and raw corn was just lovely.

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The vinaigrette really takes this over the top though. The dressing gets some smokiness from the cumin, but we’re going to up the ante by grilling the limes. Yes! The squeezed juice will retain some of that smoky, caramelized flavor and will punctuate the finished dressing. Only a minute or two is needed on the grill (or grill pan!).

raw corn and grilled zucchini quinoa salad with smoky lime vinaigrette. 

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ingredients
2 cups cooked quinoa
3 ears of corn, kernels cut off the cobs
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

dressing:
1-2 limes, grilled (see note below); 3 tablespoons of juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

directions
Preheat grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Lightly brush olive oil onto zucchini slices. Grill 2 minutes per side, oiled side down first. Oil the other side. Once barely tender, remove from heat. Slice down the middle vertically, and then rotate, cutting the slices into 1/2 inch pieces.

While the zucchini is grilling, cut the lime(s) in half. Grill the lime, cut side down, for 1 minute per side. Remove and juice the grilled lime halves. (*I had a very juicy lime, so one lime yielded more than enough juice).

Once you’ve juiced the limes, make the dressing. In a blender, add the lime juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, cumin, sea salt and pepper. Turn the blender on, and stream in olive oil until well combined.

In a large bowl, add the cooked quinoa, raw corn, grilled zucchini, cilantro, salt and pepper. Pour 2/3 of the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Taste, and add the rest of the dressing if needed. Serve immediately, or at room temperature.

Serves 4 as a side.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

spinach + strawberry salad.

As mentioned in the previous post, today’s recipe is dedicated to my favorite way to serve this luscious poppyseed dressing.

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I hesitate to even call this a ‘recipe’. A quick search on Google will show you a plethora of spinach berry salads, but for good reason! They are so, so delicious and seasonal.

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Strawberries out of season? No problem! Simply substitute blueberries, blackberries, or even peaches! Don’t like almonds? Simply use walnuts or pecans. What I’m trying to say is that this is incredibly flexible to suit your taste buds and pantry items. I like to add cool cucumbers to offset the sharp onions, and some shredded carrots to complement the sweet and ripe strawberries.

The combo of tender spinach, berries and that sweet and tangy dressing is a beloved classic for a reason.

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All tossed together with the dressing and ready to devour.

spinach + strawberry salad.

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ingredients
4 cups baby spinach
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup raw almonds, sliced
1/4 cup cucumbers, sliced into half-moons
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup carrots, shredded
sea salt and pepper to taste
poppyseed dressing

directions
In a large bowl, add all salad ingredients, and spoon over some dressing (two tablespoons is plenty for me, but I like my salads lightly dressed). Toss gently and serve immediately. That’s it!

Serves 2 for a main dish salad.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**

asian BBQ chicken salad.

This salad is so delicious. Gosh I love a good salad. I’m sorry I just wrote that — I’m so boring. Most people go ga-ga over classic drool worthy foods like cookies, brownies, nachos, a burger. Not me! Salads are where it’s at. I think it’s because I love that they are such blank canvases; ready for anything: fruits, veggies, protein, dressings, you name it!

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I mean, just look at that. Crisp peppers and cabbage, delightfully crunchy cucumbers and chopped romaine lettuce, topped with that sticky, sweet and spicy chicken. Hello, salad nirvana!

This is a main dish salad that makes enough for two: one 8 ounce chicken breast is enough for two salads – 4 ounces for each person. Trust me, this salad is super filling and you can feel great, even if you end up eating the entire thing all by yourself!

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I cooked the chicken on my cast iron grill pan, but you could use your outdoor grill. If you prefer to cook on the stovetop/oven or don’t have a grill or grill pan, I would recommend the pan roasting method. To do this, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a heavy skillet over medium/medium high heat. Add chicken and let cook for 3-5 minutes, or until chicken releases easily. Turn and then put the skillet in the oven and let cook for 10 minutes longer, or until chicken is done.

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asian BBQ chicken salad
marinade adapted from half baked harvest. 

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ingredients

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 teaspoon whole grain or dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 garlic clove, minced or grated
1/2 lime, juiced

salad

1 large or 2 small romaine hearts, chopped
1 cup of green cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup of red cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup of carrots, shredded
1/4 of an English cucumber, thinly sliced into half moons
1 bell pepper (red, yellow, orange), thinly sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

directions

Combine all marinade/dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Reserve about 1/3 of the marinade. Add chicken to remaining marinade, cover, and refrigerate and for at least 30 minutes. Remove from marinade and  grill, 5 minutes per side or until done. Alternatively, you can pan sear/pan roast/bake — whatever is easiest for you.

In a large mixing bowl, add all salad ingredients, romaine through sesame seeds. Add rice wine vinegar and toss gently to combine.

Divide salad amongst two plates and add 4 ounces of chicken to each plate. Drizzle each salad with a tablespoon of the remaining marinade/dressing. Serve immediately.

Serves 2.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**