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

 

 

 

 

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 #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!

Feta & Spinach STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS

first of all I apologize for not having exact amounts of the ingredients.  I usually throw dinner together, and then when it turns out I wish I had written down my process.  I’ll try to remember to do this for the future!  I also try to remember to take a photo!
 
STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS

stuffed chicken breast with feta, spinach, sundried tomato,

stuffed chicken breast with feta, spinach, sundried tomato,

Ingredients
  • 2-3 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup feta
  • 1/8- 1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
  • 1 tsp minced lemon zest – I love to use Meyer Lemons
  • small amount of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp fresh basil
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Place chicken breast between plastic wrap and pound to 1/4 inch thick. (Butterfly to help) ….  this is a great recipe to get out your frustrations .. and if you don’t have a mallet just find a rolling pin or some other object!
Combine spinach, feta, sundried tomatoes, lemon zest, garlic powder, basil and pepper in a bowl and mix well.
Put approx 2 tblsp of spinach mixture on widest part of chicken breast and then tightly roll the breast, leave seam side down on baking sheet.
Cook for approx 30 minutes.

and the challenge is officially ON!

For the past number of months I’ve been attempting to get healthier. Eating well, exercising and hoping the numbers on the scale and the inches on the tape measure decline.  It’s been slow going! VERY slow as far as I’m concerned, at least on the weight loss part.  I’ve definitely gained some strength & have also led a mainly healthy eating plan.

When I saw this Kin’s Market challenge I thought, “why the hell not?” and so I entered, immediately forgetting I had until I received a phone call.  Suddenly, now that March 1st has arrived and the challenge begins, this whole being in “public” during my attempt at getting healthier and increasing my fitness level has become very intimidating!

Seeing my face in the paper, finding out my body fat percentage, sharing that with anyone who reads the paper… it scares the S#*T out of me! So what am I afraid of?  FAILURE, a word that I have recently told myself I would eradicate from my vocabulary. But what am I failing at? What is the goal here? I know I’m already getting healthier, I know I’m stronger than I was 5 months ago.  I’ve built muscle.  I eat well. It can only get better from here …… right?!

Somewhere in my mind there’s some level of perfection I’m attempting to attain.  I know that leaving this vague notion of something perfect in my mind will get me nowhere.  Perfection, as far as I’m concerned, is unattainable – why? Because if, or should I say when, I reach whatever that “goal” is, my expectations are yet again raised. So here I am, wanting to run for the hills, cringing at being in the Surrey Leader on a weekly basis & having to share my story to the public. I’m afraid that I will somehow let someone down because I couldn’t lose the inches or weight in the right amount of time.

I need to change my thought pattern, remove the pressure and remind myself this is a journey about health, and improving it – along with improving my fitness level.  It’s about living a full and satisfying life.

I know for me the fear of failure has often taken the form of excuses and rationalizations about why I can’t do something. “Oh I’m so busy today”, “I don’t feel well”, “the kids need me at home”, “I need to fold socks”, “I’m tired”,  “it’s raining out”…..

Fear of the unknown becomes your jailer and your prison.  You stagnate.  Wasn’t it FDR that said, “ The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!”?

So it’s time for me to drop the fear, gain a healthier life and hopefully also drop some pounds.  Oh and maybe the occasional shove in the right direction by someone won’t hurt!

Want to go for a walk? I’ll find a way to go with you!  Want to meet me at the gym?!  Want to share healthy recipe ideas? … I’m open to it all!  WE can do this!

Here’s a photo I took this past summer … I added a little quote to the photo.  I have this as the homepage on my cell phone as a daily reminder!

And a cool little acronym I found.

Pumpkin Bites – no Baking required

I find these little bites of energy to be so handy on a busy day for a grab-n-go snack.  My kids also like to have them on hand for in between hockey games.

  • approx 1 cup of chopped dates
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds or flax seeds
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • (you can always use pumpkin pie spice as well)
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1/3 c pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats (dry)
  • 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Combine the dates, honey, pumpkin puree, chia (or flax) seeds, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg.  I don’t own a food processor (probably is easier to use one!) however I hand mix everything together.

 Once mixed together, stir in the oats, coconut flakes and pumpkin seeds. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer (this makes it easier to mold into little bites!).

Once the mixture is cool use an ice cream scoop (or spoon) to shape it into your desired size of energy balls. You can always line a small baking pan with parchment paper, and evenly press the mixture into the pan, let it cool, and then cut into bars.

Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  Awesome grab-n-go snack!

I also encourage you to play around with the recipe.  I’ve added dried cranberries before, or almonds…. it’s yours to play with!

The workout I never thought I could have

Today I went to my regular training class with Andrea of LifeDesigns. I take part in one of her 12 week programs called “Bounce”. This is my second time taking part in Bounce and I LOVE it. Andrea works with women and delves into not only the fitness and health side of things, but she also gets inside your head (in a very good way!).

lifting weights

lifting heavy and feeling great!

My Bounce group of 4 had a killer workout! If you had told me 5 months ago, that I would be curling 25lb+, doing lunges holding 35lbs, running sets of stairs (repeatedly!), holding a plank for over 1 min, doing “real men” pushups etc. I never would have believed you!

With Andrea’s constant encouragement, positivity and her 100% confidence in me (when I didn’t have it) she has pushed me way beyond what I thought I could ever accomplish. I’ve also been working with her on my nutrition, using the myfitnesspal app is also helpful! Andrea has tracked my food logs and given amazing pointers (more grains, consistency, eat more….) I love fruit and veggies, so luckily that part isn’t a trial for me. My favourite breakfasts are smoothies and I’ve complied quite a list of recipes! I’ve found that the possible culprit of my very very sloooowww weight loss could be that I: do not get enough protein, don’t eat enough calories, and need to cut back on evening snacking.

If you have ever considered looking into a trainer, and don’t want to go to a “big gym” or find them intimidating (I do!) then Andrea is the lady for you. The women that I have met through Andrea have become some of my very close friends. We bond over dumbbells and squats, we laugh and share common frustrations and goals and there is ALWAYS encouragement. I feel very lucky to have discovered such amazing people!

Am I the only one who gets excited about making a new smoothie for breakfast?!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

some of my favourite foods…

Eat a Rainbow

Today I am trying to fit in all my fruits and veggie servings! Made a delicious smoothie for breakfast and had time to make a massive batch of delicious vegetable soup!

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Dinner tonight was noodle-less lasagne! Layers of grilled zucchini with cottage cheese, ground turkey and veggies in tomato sauce, spinach and of course yummy mozzarella …. Delicious !

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For this tasty dish I swapped out pasta noodles with ribbons of zucchini.  I grilled the zucchini to get some of the moisture out (and add some great flavour)

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red pepper
  • 1 can Italian tomato sauce
  • 1/2 a can of tomato paste
  • fresh basil and any other spices/herbs

For the filling:

  • 2% cottage cheese mixed with thawed spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the vegetables:

  • 1/2 cup celery
  • 1/2 cup red peppers
  • 3  mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Freshly ground black pepper

other items:

  •  shredded mozzarella cheese (about 4 cups)
  • ground turkey
  • 2 meduim zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick (I used a mandolin slicer) – grilled (soak up any excess moisture with a paper towl)
INSTRUCTIONS
For the sauce:

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F
  2. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, mushrooms, peppers, until softened add in ground turkey … cook until done
  3. Add the tomato sauce & paste. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the flavors meld and the sauce has slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

meanwhile you will be grilling the zucchini

To assemble:

  1. layer of zuccini
  2. some shredded cheese
  3. cottage cheese mixed with spinach
  4. tomato sauce / meat

Repeat until final layer top with mozzarella cheese

Bake uncovered until the sauce is bubbling around the edges and the top is browned, about 40 minutes. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.