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!

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!

salmon

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. 🙂

Jalea-style (Peruvian) Spaghetti Squash Shrimp

The other night someone let me try a version of Jalea Mixta, a Peruvian seafood dish that is basically fried seafood with an amazingly flavorful sauce on top. So, I decided to try it out at home and make my own healthier version using fresh seafood and making it into a “pasta”dish.

IT.WAS.EPIC.

Hands down one of the best things I’ve made in a long while.

Jalea Spag Sq Shrimp

And I promise no camera filter or editing was even used on that picture! 😀

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of frozen extra large/jumbo shrimp
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • Juice of 2-3 limes (depending on how juicy they are
  • 1 cup (or one large handful) of small tomatoes (I love sunsweets from Costco)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • cayenne pepper (to desired heat level)
  • crushed pepper flakes (to desired heat level)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 jalapenos or fresno chile peppers (Jalas if you like it a little spicier and if you want to go completely traditional just use a red bell pepper)
  • 1 small red onion sliced thinly (traditionally sprinkled over top, but I omitted because…honestly… I didn’t have one!)

Step 1: Roast the Squash Cut the stem end of the squash off, turn it on the cut end so that you have a steady base. Cut the squash lengthwise and then scoop out the seed portion. Place cut-side down in a baking dish with about 1 inch of water in the pan. Cook at 350* for approximately 30-45 minutes or just until you can easily pierce through the densest portion of the squash. Remove from oven and flip over onto skin side to allow to cool a bit. Once it’s cooled a bit, hold with a towel and use a fork to scrape out the squash into a bowl.

Step 2: Cook the Shrimp Boil a pot of fresh water and follow cooking instructions on your shrimp.

Step 3: Make the Sauce While the water is boiling for your shrimp… Seed the jalapenos and cut into 1 inch pieces or rounds. Add the cilantro, tomatoes, garlic, salt, cayenne, and chili flakes to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. With food processor on low setting, drizzle olive oil through top until desired consistency is reached (should have the consistency of a salsa). Taste, adding more salt, cayenne or chili pepper flakes as desired. Pour into bowl and add the jalapenos.

Step 4: Put it all together! Build your plate with squash, a few spoonfuls of sauce, some shrimp, and a sprinkle of the onions (if using).

Step 5: Sobremesa Share with a friend over good conversation and maybe a glass of sangria. 🙂

What’s your favorite Latin American inspired dish? 

P.S. If you try this recipe…please report back on how you liked it or what innovations you used!

What the Heck is Queen-Nah…Salad

I love football (even though the Steelers aren’t doing so great this season…sigh). I also love witty football commercials. And this one, this happens to be one of my faves…

It’s actually pronounced “keen-wah” but hey that’s close enough. What’s more important is that it doesn’t (or at least doesn’t have to) taste a dirty tree branch! I make a delicious quinoa salad that I thought I’d share since it makes an awesome dish for potlucks and parties (and umm in case you forgot party season is upon us!) So without further ado…

Italian Roasted Tomato Quinoa Salad

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Delicious quinoa salad! If you leave out the parm cheese it’s also a dairy free/vegan recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1C dry quinoa (any kind) rinsed thoroughly… if you don’t rinse quinoa it will taste nast-teeeee
  • 2C water (or chicken/veg broth if you want it to be extra tasty)
  • Approx 4C grape or cherry tomatoes… really any tomatoes would work
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic (peeled, smashes, and roughly chopped)
  • 2 springs of fresh rosemary or Italian flat leaf parsley it’s cheap and yes, it makes a HUGE difference
  • 1 TBSP EVOO
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 C fresh grated Parmesan cheese (optional…clearly leave it out if you’re dairy free)
  1. Cook quinoa following normal method: Boil water, add quinoa, return to boil, reduce heat, simmer until little halos form around the quinoa grains.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  3. Line baking sheet with tin foil and curl up sides (or cook in a shallow baking dish)
  4. Toss tomatoes, garlic and rosemary in EVOO; add salt and pepper to taste.

Mmm… looks so tasty right!? IMG_4089

  1. Bake for approx 30min or until the tomatoes begin to burst, give up their juices. (I like to turn on the broiler after they burst to get a nice char on them too!)
  2. Mix tomatoes and all of that juicy goodness into your cooked quinoa, add cheese, stir and enjoy!

I eat mine on Romaine lettuce leaves like as a sort of non-traditional lunch time lettuce wrap. ENJOY!

(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!