My Awesome Lunch: Easy Chick Pea, Cucumber & Tomato Salad

I had an awesome lunch today. And it took me all of 15 minutes to make it last night.

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Easy Chick Pea, Cucumber & Tomato Salad

  • 2 cups grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 English cucumber (quartered and chopped)
  • 1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/2 a medium red onion (minced)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced or grated)
  • Juice of half a lemon (or a whole lemon depending on how juicy it is)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Mix, mix, mix and enjoy. You can eat it solo, on a bed of lettuce, in Romaine lettuce cups, or as a side dish! It’s light, fresh and delicious!

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Sweater Weather…almost

Now that I’m a SoFlo resident, Winter just isn’t the same. It’s not about fires and flannel and snow. But, it’s finally cooling down here! To the point where I’ve been wearing multiple layers and (joy of all joys) scarves to work.

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I’ve also been getting into those winter flavors and warmer beverages. Last night I picked up my favorite tea…Constant Comment, and I made some Cranberry Chia Seed Jam.

Cranberries have so many great health benefits! You can read a great article on them HERE. The jam is also sugar and preservative free and filled with fiber.

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Cranberry Chia Jam

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Stevia to taste
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds

Directions

Place all ingredients except chia seeds into a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once cranberries start to “pop” open, reduce heat and simmer until the mixture thickens slightly.

Transfer to a glass storage container. Mix in chia seeds. Allow to cool completely, and then refrigerate overnight.

The chia seeds will soak up the excess liquid making a delicious jam!

I eat it on my microwave flaxseed muffin 🙂 oftentimes on my way to work!

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Jalapeno Citrus Salmon

I really love to roast salmon to take in my lunch, but putting lemon pepper on it gets a little old sometimes. So, I try to experiment with new seasoning combinations. This week I had a lot of mandarin oranges and had just bought jalapeno pepper spice…and my recipe was born!

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Ingredients:

  • 4-5 mandarin oranges (depending on their size/the size of your salmon filet)
  • jalapeno spice or fresh jalapeno ground into a paste (to your heat tolerance… I like it spicy!)
  • garlic powder or minced garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • parsley to top

Juice 2-3 of the oranges into a small bowl, add jalapeno, garlic, salt and pepper until the taste is to your liking and then rub into fish on both sides. Top with sliced mandarin oranges and sprinkle parsley on top (just for looks!).

Roast in a 450 degree oven for about 12-15 minutes or until cooked through.

Enjoy over mixed greens as a salad or with some freshly steamed veggies as an entree. 🙂

7 Simple (and Healthy) Salad “Dressings”

I’m a weirdo… I LOVE vegetables! And that includes salads…

Salad

MMMMMmmmmmm!

But, when you put a ton of dressing on the salad you miss out on the deliciousness of the veggies AND you’re usually adding extra calories, preservatives and fat to your otherwise healthy meal. I’d rather not sacrifice the amount of calories I can eat in a day for salad dressing, so I turn to my go-to salad “dressing” options. Here they are (in no particular order).

1.) Salsa

With less than 10 calories per tablespoon, salsa is great on southwestern style or tacos salads. I choose picante style usually since it’s more like a sauce and I can drizzle it over my greens.

2.) Tajin

This one can be a little bit harder to find, but it’s a chile, lime, salt spice mix that is so tasty on salads. I usually use it on  grilled chicken salads that include lots of cucumber and carrots.

3.) Citrus

A squeeze of orange, lemon, lime, or even grapefruit on your salad right before you chow down is delicious! If you want something a little less sour… squeeze the citrus into a small bowl and whisk in some melted honey or liquid/powdered stevia until it’s at the sweetness level you desire.

4.) Hot sauce

Okay, this one may seem a bit odd, but it goes hand in hand with my love of all things Mexican and hot. Sprinkle some salsa picante (not Frank’s Red Hot or Tabasco) on your greens and see how you like it. I LOVE this on a salad topped with an over-easy egg or two!

5.) Over-easy Eggs

Since I mentioned them above… over-easy or over-medium eggs are a great way to have some sauciness on your salad. Just cook the egg, allow to cool for a second or two so you don’t wilt your salad and then place directly on top of your greens. When you’re ready to chow down, cut open the egg and let the yolk be your dressing!

6.) Reduced or Aged Balsamic Vinegar

So, this one is a bit more complex if you want to make it yourself, but balsamic vinegar on its own makes a great salad dress. I find that the regular, un-aged or non-reduced stuff is too thin for me. So, I take my balsamic and reduce it in a small pot over med-low heat until it simmers and thickens up a little bit. You can also buy aged balsamic that is a bit thicker and tends to have a more robust flavor.

7. Aminos!

Aminos are an amazing soy sauce substitute, so they’re also great sprayed on Asian-inspired salads like a Mandarin orange, grilled chicken salad or a bok choy, mushroom, bean sprout salad. Just a few sprays or a light drizzle is all you need!

What are your favorite salad toppers? 

(no)sugar, spice & everything nice

It was C-O-L-D cold this week! And that meant two things…

1.) I felt the need to listen to Christmas music! (And thus broke my anti-Christmas-music-before-thanksgiving stance)

2.) I’ve entered into every minute of the day hot beverage mode.

Now during the day I drink my fair share of black coffee. But that caffeine can get to your head (even though my homemade blend is 1/2caff)…especially before bed. So, I branch out to my homemade Peppermint Mocha. It’s delicious, dairy-free, sugar-free and all of 15 calories. BOOM, you’re welcome…enjoy!

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Skinny Peppermint Mocha

  • 1 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp stevia powder
  • Hot water (or half hot water, half almond milk)
  • 1 Peppermint tea bag

Mix together first three ingredients. Let tea steep for approx 3 minutes. Stir, sip, savor.

Who needs Starbucks?!?? 😀

#pumpkinspiceeverything

Fall in American no longer means the leaves are changing colors or the weather is get cooler… it means pumpkin spice everything! Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice Jell-O pudding, pumpkin spice creamers and cookies and liquors!

And, you know what? I friggin LOVE it!

Here’s my logic…

Sara+fall=love

Fall=pumpkin spice everything.

Therefore, Sara+pumpkin spice everything= love.

(Undergrad philosophy 101 did teach me something after all.)

However, I don’t enjoy how pumpkin spice everything usually means processed everything. So, I’ve made a few deliciously non-processed pumpkin-laden things over the past few weeks and thought I’d share. (especially since the last time I posted was way way way way too long ago).

Pumpkin Spice Oat Bars

Oatbars

  • 2.5C rolled oats
  • 1 tsp powdered stevia
  • 1 TBPS cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • dash of all spice
  • 1C pumpkin puree
  • 1 TBSP vanilla
  • any other add-ins you enjoy (craisins or fresh cranberries with a little extra melted honey are a great addition! and I usually add in a scoop or two of protein powder to make them a more well-rounded snack)
  • TIP: add a dash of almond milk if it looks too dry or a little more pumpkin

Mix dry, add wet, PRESS (really press) into a pan (smaller pan if you want em thicker, bigger pan if you want em thin… but the thinner they are the more likely they are to crumble!)

Bake in 350 degree oven  for ~10-12 minutes or until the tops are dry to the touch.

Overnight Slow-cooker Pumpkin Butter

pumpkin

  • 1 medium “pumpkin pie” pumpkin
  • 1/2C coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of all spice
  • 2 TBPS cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 C water
  1. Gut the pumpkin like you would a jack-o-lantern. (Clean and roast the seeds if you love some peppitas on your oatmeal like I do).
  2. Split it in half and place flesh side down in a casserole dish with about 1 in of water in the bottom.
  3. Roast in 350 degree over until you can pierce the skin easily with a knife.
  4. Allow to cool and then skin the pumpkin.
  5. Place pumpkin flesh and all other ingredients in a crockpot.
  6. Allow to cook on low overnight (8 hours) or on high for ~4 hours.
  7. Puree in a high-end blender or with a blender stick.
  8. Enjoy on everything… even cardboard. 😀

TIP: if you’re having a hard time blending it add some apple cider/juice to it to help the process.

Enjoy all the tasty pumpkin treats this season! And, feel free to share your faves below!

Change & Chewsday

I love inspirational quotes, mantras, verses, and anything else that makes you go “yea, right on!” when you read it. One in particular came to mind this morning as I substitute taught a fitness class…

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To be honest the first quote that came to mind is “sticks and stones may breaks my bones buuuuttt…” this one seemed more positive 😉 There are people that HATE change mainly because they are unwilling to try anything new, and a met one of those ladies today in the locker room after class. All that came to mind is, if we repeatedly do the same things over and over again (no matter if it’s fitness related or not) eventually we become numb to them. And last time I checked being numb, stale, or constantly maintaining the status quo in lift is not only boring, but also unhealthy. I’ll add one more mantra for good measure… variety is the spice of life! So, here’s to trying something new and not whining when you’re forced to do it 🙂

What’s one thing you can change TODAY that will make your life healthier, more fun, or just spice things up?

Well, you could make a new recipe! I put a new twist on one of my favorite bake-ahead recipes (I usually cook 2-3 recipes the first weekend of the month and then freeze half or more for quick lunches/dinners) and I thought I’d share it!

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Spicy Stuffed Peppers

Filling:

  • 1lb ground turkey
  • 1/2C brown rice dry (par-boil it…aka cook it halfway)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (minced or grated)
  • 1 TBSP chili powder
  • 1 TBSP paprika
  • 1 TBSP oregano (mexican if you have it)
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced (this is where you can control the spice!)
  • 2 TBSP fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 small can (6-8oz) of tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 green peppers, cleaned

Sauce:

  • 2 large cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1-2 TBSP of the adobo sauce from the chipotles
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl mix all ingredients except peppers and crushed tomatoes together until well incorporated. Place peppers upright in a baking dish. Fill evenly with meat mixture (I used a medium ice cream disher to be sure they were all evenly filled…two scoops each!). Mix sauce ingredients until desired spiciness. Pour over peppers. Cover dish with aluminium foil and bake for approximately 1 hour or until peppers are soft and meat is fully cooked.

As you can see I enjoy mine over a bed of spinach. 🙂 They’re the perfect lunch option! One pepper is about 250 calories: 15g of protein, 13g of fat and 19 carbs.

Buen provecho!