Salads for the week ahead

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Some of you had asked for my recipes… as usual, most of them are in my head (and I still haven’t learned to write them down!)  So I will do my best to give you an idea of what was in them!  A few hours in the kitchen on the weekend (when I can manage it) sure saves on time during the busy work/school/hockey/activities that go on during the weekdays.

The quinoa salads.  I start by making a large batch of quinoa. i.e. 3 cups quinoa in half water/half vegetable broth (about 6 cups liquid).  Once cooked I divide it up to make different salads.

 

Zesty Orange Cranberry Quinoa Salad Orange Curry Cranberry Quinoa Salad (all measurements approximate)

  • Approx 2 cups cooked quinoa (for the liquid in cooking I used half veggie broth half water)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots
  • 1 1/2 can of sliced mandarin oranges in their own juice (save the juice for the dressing)
  • 1/2 bunch of green onion cut up
  • 1/2 to 1 avocado cubed
  • 1/3 cup black beans

While the quinoa is still warm I mix in the dried fruit for it to soften.  Then let it cool in fridge while making dressing.

DRESSING

  • 1 can of the mandarin orange juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 – 2.5 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (or to taste)
  • 1.5 tsp Dijon mustard
  • small amount of fresh ginger
  • two big spoonfuls of plain greek yogurt

I blend all the dressing ingredients in my vitamix then pour and mix into quinoa mixture and add the remaining ingredients (avocado, beans, green onion etc.)  I don’t always use all of the dressing, and I save some for my green salads during the week.  Or you can just keep dressing on the side and add when you go to eat the quinoa salad.

 

ImageQUINOA CILANTRO BLACK BEAN LIME CUMIN SALAD

  • Cooked quinoa
  • 3/4 of a can of rinsed black beans
  • red/yellow grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 bunch green onion
  • kale
  • 1 carrot shredded

mix the kale in with the quinoa while warm and then let cool while making dressing

DRESSING

  • juice from 1 1/2 limes (and a bit of zest)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1tsp (or more) minced garlic
  • 1 – 1 1/4  teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1- 1 1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • small amount sea salt & pepper
  • 2 big spoonfuls of plain greek yogurt

blend all the dressing ingredients in blender.  And keep to the side or mix into quinoa salad.

once quinoa is cooled a bit then add the remaining salad ingredients.  Always up for modifications of course add any veggies you want!  It’s also good with bell peppers.

 

Image     ROASTED YAM AND FETA SALAD

  • 1 large yam roasted  (wash yam, cut into small cubes, spread out on cookie sheet with parchment paper, drizzle a bit of olive oil and sea salt, roast at about 375 for 30-50 mins) let cool slightly before making salad
  • crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 of red onion chopped
  • (also yummy when you add any leftover cilantro chopped up)
  • I also added any leftover quinoa to some of this salad as well

DRESSING

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup      (*note that’s the only sweetner I had on hand, you can probably use honey, or agave etc.)
  • 2 big spoonfuls of plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 – 1 tbsp dijon mustard

Again, I blend in vitamix.  Add directly to salad, or keep on the side to have at the time you eat it.

 

Image ASPARAGUS POTATO SALAD WITH DILL  

 

Roasted Potatoes:

  • 2 lbs potatoes I used baby yellow. washed & chopped into 1” pieces
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh thyme

roast in oven until soft when poking with a fork, then I roast a bit longer for crispness

Dressing:

  • 1/2 – 1 avocado
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill
  • juice from 1 – 1/2 fresh lemon and some zest
  • 1 green onion chopped
  • salt and pepper

blend all the dressing together.

 

Roasted Asparagus

  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends broken off and chopped into 1” pieces
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • roast in oven

add all together, with some chopped green onion and fresh thyme and some kale

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425F. In a large bowl, mix together the potatoes and seasonings. Lay on a baking sheet lined with parchment or non-stick mat. Roast for 30 minutes, tossing once half-way through baking. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by mixing all the dressing ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

 

4. Mix the potatoes, asparagus, and dressing together in a large mixing bowl and season to taste. Serve immediately, warm. Makes about 4-5 servings.

Note: I used just a touch of maple syrup to balance out the dressing. You could also use a touch of sugar or other sweetener. Or simply do not use it at all. I thought it balanced it out really well and you couldn’t detect the maple.

 

 

beet and apple salad with cabbage

 

BEET & APPLE SALAD

 

 

  • 4 beets ( I use the ones from costco already cooked)  chopped into small bite size bits
  • 2-3 apples (red and green) I keep the peels on and chop into bite size
  • feta cheese
  • green onion

mix all together

for the dressing:

  • raspberry vinagrette
  • sea salt
  • syrup
  • dijon mustard
  • ground peppercorns
  • oregano

 

 

 

 

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Summer Salads

I love salad!  I love the fact that you can just throw a variety of fruits and veggies together and they taste delicious… salads are only limited by your imagination.  With the local Farmer’s Market opening today I thought I’d share with you a couple of my favourite recipes made from a number of fresh fruit & veggies that I pick up at the Farmer’s Market.

486578_10151929570870597_1021576739_nWATERMELON CUCUMBER FETA SALAD

 

Watermelon (cubed)

fresh blueberries

feta cheese (broken up)

chopped up fresh mint

craisins

edible flowers

alfalfa sprouts

cucumber

all layered together for a delicious fresh salad

 

dressing: 

 

RASPBERRY CREAMY VINAIGRETTE 

 

fresh raspberries

juice of one navel orange

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup plain greek yogurt

3 tbsp honey

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper

 

Put raspberries, orange juice, red wine vinegar, greek yogurt & honey in blender… pulse gently until mixed.  while

blending on low, add in olive oil until fully mixed add in Salt & Pepper

 

IMG_3897FRESH FLOWER GREENS SALAD

fresh greens from farmers market (variety of lettuce types – arugula/butter/romaine/red)

thinly sliced onion (I use red onion)

avocado

alfalfa sprouts

green grapes halved

chopped fresh herbs (basil & mint)

shredded carrot

edible flowers (farmers market)

 

dressing:

 

CUCUMBER DRESSING

1 cucumber peeled & chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp agave (or honey – local honey is delicious)

1 tsp tarragon

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

 

blend all ingredients until smooth.

CHALLENGE #9 – A VIDEO BLOG

Well, having never done a video blog before I was very unsure of what to do.  And since I wasn’t really that into sitting in front of a video camera and talking to you all.. I made a video of photos.   Our challenge this week was to make a video and share with you the things we have done to improve our health and lessons we have learned along the way.

 

Sweet n Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

delicious snack

delicious snack

I think I just found my new snack!  One of the ladies in my Kin’s GreenFighter Challenge posted a recipe for Roasted Honey Cinnamon Chickpeas so I thought I’d give them a try.  We love roasted chickpeas for snacks in our home, but I had actually never considered making them sweet!  Usually we add sea salt, garlic, paprika etc…

THEY ARE DELICIOUS!  …  I didn’t really follow the recipe that was provided (no measuring done for this one).  When cooking I usually consider recipes a guideline (which is why I rarely bake!)

This is how I made them (again measurements are approximate!)… one day I’ll actually measure for you ha ha

  • 2 cans of garbanzo beans (organic low sodium)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1-3 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • few pinches of hawaiian sea salt
  • few pinches of cayenne pepper
 
*** for part of the batch I also used just the Garlic Ginger infused Honey I happened to have on hand
 
Preheat oven to 375
rinse & dry chickpeas
I roasted for about an hour at 375  (you can test them to see if they are crunchy)
once dried in oven I mixed them in (hot) with the honey mixture
back into the oven convect at 375 for about 10 mins 
 
YUMMMM!!!!!!  I love that salty sweet spicy-ness!
 

Let me know if you tried them… they are such a good option for a crunchy snack – and now, thanks to the recipe Alicia shared. I’ve learned they can be a sweet treat as well

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A Few of my Favourite things…

Okay come on … admit it.. you just started singing didn’t you?  When I hear “my favourite things” I suddenly want to run in a field in Austria whilst twirling my dress made out of curtains …. annnnnd back to reality!

The challenge this week for us GreenFighters is to share with you some of our favourite things, and so… I present to you, my favourite things… NOW try not to sing!

Raindrops when running & making me hustle
20lb dumbbells and feeling my muscle
Great tunes on iPods making me sing
These are a few of my favourite things

Cream in my coffee and crisp juicy apples
Winning at negative tough mental battles
Cold dreary weather turning to spring
These are a few of my favourite things

Fresh Breakfast smoothies to drink in the morning
Feeling my healthy body transforming
40 degree heat and yoga and stretching 
These are a few of my favourite things

When the day’s tough, when there’s no zing
When I’m feeling sad
I remind myself of my favourite things 
And then I don’t feel so bad

hot yoga

hot yoga

I have really enjoyed discovering Hot Yoga at Oxygen in Walnut Grove, they have a great variety of hot yoga classes and I have found that while I’m recuperating my back (and still wanting to stay active and healthy) this has been a great solution.

I’ve signed up for a full year and don’t plan to stop!  I’ve been doing 3-5 classes a week, the instructors are so awesome there & always offer help in modifying for my injuries etc.  If you’ve ever considered giving Hot Yoga a try, I really recommend it.

I love my running shoes, my favourite shoes so far, the bright colours on a rainy day (have you looked outside today?) make me smile.  I love lacing them up and heading outside for a walk.  I’ve accepted that for now, I can’t push myself to run and I am IMG_4512(somewhat) okay with that.  I have gone running a few times in the past couple weeks and have definitely paid for it later on in the day.  So for now, I walk.

My smoothies are another favourite thing, I can throw any combo of fruit and veggies in there with some protein and I have a delicious meal ready to be enjoyed

cranberry & veggies w/ chocolate protein powder

cranberry & veggies w/ chocolate protein powder

My favourite meals are salads, again being able to throw such a variety of foods in … okay.. it excites me.  The other day I had a craving, I wasn’t sure what for but I wanted something kinda sweet.  I came up with a citrus salad with goat cheese and shaved dark chocolate… can you say YUMMM????

Citrus Salad

Orange
Grapefruit
Avocado
Boursin Cracked Pepper & Cranberry cheese
shaved dark chocolate

citrus salad with goat cheese and avocado

Another favourite thing… okay well PERSON is my awesome trainer Andrea.  She has a boutique studio for women in Cloverdale.  Anyone intimidated to go to a gym, or wanting more than just an on-your-own gym workout – go see Andrea.  Even though, at the moment I’m unable to do the HIIT classes, TRX classes or weight lifting, Andrea remains to be a wonderful supportive inspiration and I hope that I will be back training at Life Designs Fitness Studio very soon!

I love getting creative in the kitchen and trying new meals….. what are some of YOUR favourite things on your health & fitness journey?

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Challenge #4 – an Easter Fitness/Health Challenge

Easter and Health aren’t necessarily words you would put together… there’s chocolate, candy, more chocolate, large meals, hot cross buns … but all of that doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy Easter (and enjoy some chocolate! – 70% dark is my favourite!!)  All can be enjoyed… in moderation of course.

The challenge this week for us Kin’s GreenFighter’s is to share some tips on how to make this Easter a healthier one.

So here are my tips:

1.  a healthy and fun breakfast (bunny pancakes anyone?)  I’ve shared my pancake recipe below

2. a fitness inspired easter egg hunt.  We have sports themed eggs and fill them ourselves.

You don’t always need to fill these with candy! why not try some of these ideas:

      • miniature cars
      • silly putty / play dough
      • little jewelry
      • littlest pet shop animals
      • fun shaped erasers
      • Home made coupons i.e. “movie night with mum” or “a trip to the park” etc.
      • Bath beads
      • stickers
      • a loonie or twoonie
      • magnets
      • hair accesories

3. go on a different type of hunt…. a GEOCACHE HUNT … never heard of Geocaching? It’s a free outdoor treasure hunt.  You try to locate hidden containers using your smartphone or GPS… a fun family activity!

4. do an Easter inspired fitness circuit & break a sweat:

      • HOP
        • Plyometrics baby!! (Plyometrics is a series of explosive movementd:  jumping, bounding and hopping exercises they fire up your fitness level and will also help with coordination and agility)
        • jumping jacks
      • SKIP
        • grab that skipping rope!  it’s a great way to work up a sweat
      • JUMP
        • jump lunges
        • jumping jacks
        • burpees
        • skaters
    • My littlest one LOVES joining in on my workouts when I’m at home… create a “little kid friendly easter workout” 
        • hop like a bunny
        • roll like an easter egg (somersault)
        • bend down and pretend to pick a flower then hold it over your head
        • flap your arms and tweet like a chick

5. eat like a rabbit (wear your bunny ears!). you can usually find some fun easter dress-up ideas at your local dollar store.  Put on your bunny ears and see who can eat the most bunny food.

        • Snack on carrot sticks, celery etc. and dip them in hummus
        • fresh fruit salad
        • bunny trail mix (dried fruit, seeds, some pretzles and maybe a few jelly beans)
        • make a fun little salad (like my little cottage cheese bunny salad)

I hope you enjoyed these ideas!  And don’t forget to share what YOU will do to get in some extra fitness and some healthy foods this Easter!  I hope you all have a fabulous Easter.

Oatmeal Cottage Cheese Pancake

(again, I tried to remember to write down what I used…. but sometimes I just “wing it”… sorry!)

I do use pancake mix in these so maybe they aren’t as “clean” as they could be but I figure with all the other good stuff in them (and the kids like them!) that for us it works!

half a banana mashed and some applesauce1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup steel cut porridge oats (Rogers) it has steel cut oats, oat bran, wheat bran, & flaxseed
1 cup pancake mix
2 teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste)
2 teaspoon vanilla (I use vanilla that we brought back from mexico… couldn’t live without it! lol)
milk and water, as needed to the consistency you prefer

mix … cook on the griddle and Enjoy!  Top with some fresh berries and a little fresh whip cream…. yummm!

my crush on kale

I was rather dubious when I decided to try kale last year, I love spinach, I love cabbage, I love a variety of greens – but I had heard that kale was bitter.  However since it’s insanely good for you. (packed with Vitamins A & C, and is also rich in beta carotene, potassium, calcium, and phytonutrients that are believed to help fight cancer and repair cells) Kale is like the Hulk of cruciferous vegetables, bulging with nutrients and antioxidant properties… I figured I’d give it a go….. I love it!  I could eat it in every meal. Breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks!

Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and has zero fat.
  • One cup of kale has only approximately 33 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. It is great for aiding in digestion and elimination with its great fiber content. It’s also filled with so many nutrients, vitamins, folate and magnesium
Kale is high in Vitamin K.
  • Eating a diet high in Vitamin K can help protect against various cancers. It is also necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions including normal bone health and the prevention of blood clotting. Also increased levels of vitamin K can help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Kale is high in iron 
  • Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. Iron is essential for good health, such as the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more
Kale is filled with powerful antioxidants
Kale is a great anti-inflammatory food
 
Kale is high in Vitamin A
  • Vitamin A is great for your vision, your skin as well as helping to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers.
Kale is high in Vitamin C 
  • 17 times more Vitamin C than carrots and four times more than spinach
Kale is high in calcium
Kale boasts a relatively high protein content for the number of calories it contains. You won’t reach your daily protein needs eating kale, but when you’re running low every little bit counts
There’s more than one variety of Kale
  • Curly is the most common variety of kale and may even be found in mainstream supermarkets – I find this to taste better if softened by cooking, steaming, sautéing, adding to stir-fry or blending in my smoothie (delicious in a wintery type soup or stew)
  • Varieties of curly kale can range in color from a light green to a dark purple, though most common is a dark green leaf

Nero Kale | Lacinato Kale | Tuscan Kale | Black Palm | Dinosaur

  •  oblong shape and deep green bubbly leaves.   Grows in tall long stalks. For raw preparations, like salads, I much prefer Tuscan kale

Red Winter Kale | Red Russian Kale

  • resemble oak leaves with their soft sage color with red vining.  mild tasting and may have hints of sweetness

Today I made Kale Chips (these get devoured the second the kids see them)

START OF BY WASHING THE KALE AND DRYING IT

IMG_5557

SEPARATE THE LEAVES FROM THE STALK

IMG_5558

PUT ON A BAKING SHEET AND DRIZZLE WITH OLIVE OIL

IMG_5560

ADD SPICES (THIS TIME I USED PAPRIKA AND SEA SALT)

IMG_5567

POP INTO PREHEATED OVEN (350 degrees) FOR ABOUT 12-15 mins (until edges are browned & kale is crispy)

ENJOY!

kale chips

kale chips

Other ways to enjoy kale:  in a salad, in soups, sauteed with garlic, in a stir-fry,  blended into a smoothie, shredded onto pizza … so many options!

Green Meals for St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17, the Saint’s religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years.   Today, people of all backgrounds celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Green is the colour of the day for many!  So why not have a green meal (or three)?  No, I don’t mean throwing green food colouring into your mashed potatoes (but you could mix in some yummy kale to make it green!).

Many people associate St. Patrick’s Day with Shamrocks, Leprechauns and Four Leaf Clovers and, of course, the colour green.  From what I remember, if you don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day you are bound to get pinched!  So don some green, search for a four-leaf clover and try to catch a leprechaun.

And while you are at it…. share with me what YOUR green meal will be! …..

Challenge # 3 for us GreenFighters is to make a “unique green meal”… and so – here are my submissions:

Breakfast:  a green smoothie using green fruit and veggies (apple, kiwi, avocado, celery, kale)

Lunch: a deconstructed green salad with a variety of fruits and veggies (Kale, celery, green pepper, romaine lettuce, avocado, green apple, kiwi, honey dew, pumpkin seeds, cucumber, lime)

Dinner: spinach pasta, fresh basil pesto with sauteed kale and brussel sprouts

May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
–Irish blessing

A healthy vacation…? is it possible?

A healthy vacation…. can that happen?   We will soon find out!  

As I’m madly running around the house attempting to pack, trying to complete (ahead of time) 2 weeks worth of challenges for Kin’s GreenFighters, juggle the kids’ hockey schedule, work schedule and my own attempts at getting regular exercise in this week…. I’m wondering if this whole “fitness / healthy eating regime” that I’ve stuck to so well over the past while will stay that way!

Vacation is for relaxing (well as relaxing as a 2 year old allows it to be!)  We go-go-go non-stop every day of the week when we are home.  So this is a very welcome change to our everyday lives.  Do I want to exercise?                                 Actually, YES… I DO!!! 

I will be packing my exercise bands… I intend to workout – but will it happen?  Instead of lifting weights, will I be lifting a pretty drink with an umbrella?

One thing I’m HUGELY thankful for, is that we are staying in a condo – this means I can control my own food intake and don’t have to rely on restaurant cooking.  Yay … too bad I can’t pack my Vitamix!

I will have to ensure that I get in some form of regular exercise while on holiday; swimming, going for a walk – maybe even hitting the gym at the condo?  Any suggestions ?

Maybe the fact that as soon as I get back from vacation I need to weigh in and measure my waist and submit it to the Kin’s Challenge…. YIKES!

Personally I actually detest weighing myself and having a number define me, I can go up and down by 6lbs in a day!  Anyone else like that?  I think the fit of my clothes, and the way I feel are better judges as to how I’m doing.  The weigh in is a requirement and I understand the concept behind it, however I don’t find weighing myself motivating at all – it has the opposite affect on me.  I avoid the scale at all costs!  So I will just keep up with what I’m doing, fitting in exercise and healthy eating.  I feel better, more energized – so this MUST mean I’m doing something right!?

Let’s see what happens…………..

update on week 2

I’m approximately 2 weeks into this challenge as a Kin’s Greenfighter with Kin’s Farm Market. I’ve learned that my keywords on this challenge are “plan & prep”. 

I can tell you that having this challenge hanging around my mind has, in a very positive way, helped increase the motivation and drive to improve on my health and fitness.  I’ve been making sure that I do some form of exercise for a minimum of 30 mins every day. Last week I was able to get in 4 one hour hot yoga sessions, 2- 45 min intense HIIT Training sessions and 2 walks over 5K.

Scheduling in exercise, just as if it were a Dr. appointment or such, and pre-planning my week of exercise has ensured that I can fit it all in. Even on the busiest day I’m making sure to take some “me” time. No more excuses!   Certain days it may just be a 40 min walk around the hockey rink neighbourhood while one of the older kids is at the rink getting ready to play, either way – I’m finding ways to make exercise happen! I’m feeling stronger and feeling that this new “habit” is going to stick. I love the energized feeling I get from working out!  Things are coming together!

Eating healthy has also been a big focus. Planning ahead for the week to come has really helped with making sure I’m not just going through a drive through, grabbing “whatever”, or making a frozen pizza. When I plan ahead I alleviate the stress of “what’s for dinner?!” (the biggest question of the day in our house!) and when I have a plan and my foods are prepped, it really doesn’t take much time at all to make a healthy meal. The other day when I was so tempted to run through a drive-through because I only had 30 mins between getting home from work & having to leave for the hockey rink, I quickly fired up the BBQ and bbq’d chicken, tomatoes and peppers. Having a lot of fruits and veggies on hand helps with healthy snacking as well!

All that being said, there is no way I could do this all on my own.  My family has been amazingly supportive.  The older kids have volunteered to watch the little one while I go work out & my partner always makes sure that I have time in the day to accomplish my fitness goals!  It’s a true team effort!  AND the healthy habits are rubbing off on the kids as well!  A complete WIN WIN situation!