Not only is it Monday, but it’s raining! I’m going to brighten up my mid-day meal with this Strawberry Blue Cuke Salad (aka Strawberry Blue Cheese Salad with Cucumber and Snap Peas), it’s bursting with fresh flavors and a palette of eye-popping colors. It’s definitely the super-delicious, super-healthy silver-lining to being stuck-inside over the lunch hour!
I originally developed this recipe for the Living Litehouse Blog as a way to feature their insanely delicious Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing. Head over there to check out my Four Tips for a Sensational Salad. I know all the salad-eating secrets and how to keep the love for lettuce alive – I should, since I gobble up about 365 big salads a year!!
Meanwhile, make a bowlful of this beautiful goodness and share family-style with those you love. I’m showing this salad as a side today, but I’ll often turn it into apan sauteed shrimp, grilled chicken breast, or chickpeas to add some sustaining protein for the day.
Or, bottle up this easy salad in a mason jar to take for lunch on-the-go at the office, school or gym. Just remember the number one tip with jar salads, put the dressing on the bottom and layer upward according to the durability of the ingredients – heartiest go low, fragile an prone to wilt go higher. Check out more jar salad tips here. Due to my Kitchenaid Spiralizer Attachment addiction, I processed the cucumbers up into twisty-twirly ribbons. But, feel free to use slices or julienned strips. Enjoy!
Prepare cucumbers with spiralizer or use vegetable peeler to make long ribbons by swiping end to end. Place prepped cucumber in colander and rinse away any seeds (even “seedless” have some) and let drain for 5 minutes.
Hull and quarter strawberries.
Cut sugar snap peas in half crosswise or larger ones in thirds. Slice a few open lengthwise at the seam to show off peas inside.
Layer in jar in this order: dressing, cucumbers, strawberries, snap peas, and blue cheese. Or, toss with dressing and serve in bowl or on platter.
Spring has really sprung here in Austin, so naaaaaaturally I’m talking running shoes and spiralized salads. The bluebonnets are always a sure sign as is the unofficial start of trail running season.With some off road and Spartan running on my upcoming race calendar, I was excited to try out the Superior 2.0s from Altra Running. Such a light and fast ride for a trail running shoe and I had absolutely no loss of traction on the slightly muddy banked trails, excessing sloshing out of the water crossings, or feet that felt like they had been beat up by race end. Check the Superior 2.0 out, you will love them for flying down gentle trails to all sorts of gnarly terrain. And, more good news, I placed 3rd Overall Female in that 10k trail race aptly named “The Maze.”
So, now you know my latest spring shoe obsession, but what about the salad?How about a Spiralized Cucumber and Grapefruit Salad with Avocado Cilantro Dressing?!
I used the spiralizer attachment on my Kitchenaid mixer to transform cucumbers into windy ribbons and toss with tart grapefruit segments and other flavorful ingredients like feta cheese, avocado chunks, pecans and cilantro.
It makes a showy salad full of salty-sweet tang, vibrant colors and crunch! To marry the flavors even more, I’ve also used a favorite dressing — OPA by Litehouse Avocado and Cilantro! With a base of Greek yogurt, this dressing is a healthier way to pour rich and creamy flavor atop any salad – or use as a versatile sauce over fish or in your lunch turkey wraps, the possibilities are endless.
A few tips about the Spiralized Cucumber and Grapefruit Salad with Avocado Cilantro Dressing:
Don’t have a spiralizer? Don’t worry, just quarter and seed the cucumbers lengthwise and then julienne into 2 to 3-inch strips.
Don’t skip the draining step after prepping the cucumbers or you’ll end up with excess water pooling in the bottom of your bowl (and eventually making a soggy salad).
For convenience, consider using prepared grapefruit segments found in the produce section. Drain off the juice (drink or reserve for another use – see below) and simply toss in the salad. There’s no time-consuming peeling and tedious cutting away of pesky membranes.
Before adding avocado chunks to the salad, I like to dunk them in reserved grapefruit juice (or lemon juice) to keep them from oxidizing and browning before serving. This also helps leftovers stay fresh in the refrigerator for another day.
Oh, we all have those days when the dreaded bloat is out of control. Personally, sometimes my tummy can stick out more than my butt. I’ve reduced my family to tears of hysteria (and fear) on more than one occasion by sticking out my distended middle as far as humanly possible – I look like a skinny 6-month pregnant woman or have an awful basketball sized tumor! Maybe it’s too much salt, not enough water, low fiber intake, that time of the month . . . or all of the above. I think we can all agree that being bloated and retaining water is not only an uncomfortable feeling, but also a self-confidence shaker – even though we all know that by eating healthfully, this gut grief not a lasting situation. Can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’ll share pictures of me taken within a short period of time — before dinner and already bloated (left) and feeling fabulous early one morning (right)! .
Rather than staying swollen up like a balloon, you can stop the suffering and get on the path to that slim and trim you with my Dandelion Greens Detox Smoothie. Packed with all sorts of healthy ingredients that promote healthy digestion and hydration, this green smoothie recipe is also very light, so you don’t have to fret about overdoing the liquid calories.
For under 120 calories, you get a 20-ounce glass of goodness that has no added sugar, progresses you towards your daily fiber needs, and even has a touch of protein from the dandelion (surprise!) It’s also rich in many vitamins and minerals, especially potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamin K.
Here’s a rundown on the ingredients and how they can tame your tummy troubles.
Cucumber: Not only is this veggie is loaded with water (95% to be exact) which helps improve hydration, it also is a good source of a flavonoid antioxidant called quercetin that help reduce inflammation and puffiness – that’s why we have all long-loved to put slices over our eyes.
Coconut Water: High in potassium and other electrolytes, this watery juice from inside the coconut helps to flush sodium out of the body and restore healthy hydration levels. For convenience, I love to have this Coconut Water Powder on hand.
Banana: Bananas are rich in potassium, a mineral that helps manage fluid levels in our bodies and can assist in shedding salt-related water retention. Also, this dietary fiber in this popular fruit keeps things moving along in your digestive system.
Ginger: This root is a wonder when it comes to health benefits, anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, migraine relief and more. It also contains an enzyme that optimized the absorption of proteins and Lessing protein-related bloating and gas in the process.
Dandelion Greens: Dandelion greens (as well as the root) are a fantastic detox food that cleanses the liver, flushing toxins and excess water out – perfect if you have lots of water retention. Dandelions have a surprising amount of protein for a “green” and even more calcium than spinach. You can also use the greens (mainly found in the early spring) in salads or sautés or reap benefits from drinking a dandelion tea or taking a dandelion root extract or supplement.
“The chickpea is neither a chick nor a pea. Discuss.” Remember when Mike Myers chatted about this the “Coffee Talk” comedy sketch on Saturday Night Live?
The chickpea, also known as a garbanzo bean, is actually a legume that has been around for more than 7,500 years. A popular choice for man Mediterranean and Indian dishes, the little chickpea is packed with big nutrition – an excellent source of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamin B6 for vegetarians. Vitamin b6 helps to stabilize blood sugar, metabolize foods and make antibodies to ward off disease.
I came up with this lovely dish for Litehouse Foods and just knew I had to share it here – it’s perfect for a lunch or light dinner. The cool and crisp salad is dressed with flavors favored along parts of Greece and Italy and packed into a tomato serving as an edible bowl. Did you know the healthy, long-living people of the Mediterranean region eat, on average, nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day? This chickpea salad will get you well on your way to meeting this daily goal.
½ cup Litehouse Food’s OPA Feta Dill Greek Yogurt Dressing (plus additional for garnish)
2 grape tomatoes cut in half
2 ounces baby spring lettuce mix
In work bowl of food processor, add kale, cilantro, onion chunks, lime juice and garlic. Pulse for approximately 1 minute or until ingredients are finely chopped like pesto. Set aside.
In medium bowl, add chopped cucumber, rinsed chick peas and mixture from food processor. Add ½ cup dressing and mix everything together until thoroughly coated.
Cut large tomatoes in half crosswise and scoop out seeds and pulp with spoon (reserve for another purpose, if desired). Fill tomato cups with chickpea mixture and top with a dollop of dressing and grape tomato half. Serve on top of baby spring lettuce mix. Serves 4.
I have another yummy mention – POPSUGAR Must Have Snacks by Nature Box. I received a box full of these nutritious nom-noms in the mail and have been enjoying mixing up my normal afternoon snacking. Being stuck inside working on the computer (and nursing my sprained ribs) is much more tolerable with five bags of healthy snacks like Blueberry Almond Bliss and Lemon Pucker Pistachios.
Disclosure: POPSUGAR and NatureBox provided me with a complimentary POPSUGAR Must Have Snacks by NatureBox box. The opinions I have shared about the box are my own, and POPSUGAR and NatureBox did not tell me what to say or how to say it.
Everything seems to finally be coming up spring! Gardens are growing and offering up the first bounties of the season. I plan to be down at the local farmer’s market every weekend decked out in my sandals and sun hat – yes, you guessed it, I’m a warm weather-loving girl. Oh my goodness, the fruits and vegetables of this time of year take my breath away – the amazingly sweet berries, the mild spring onions, crunchy cucumbers and delicate baby greens. Ahhhh!
Foodie Recipes App to the rescue while shopping at Sprouts!
Usually, I’m pretty creative about pulling together a meal out of what I already have on hand in the fridge and pantry. But somehow, when I see the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables at the market, I sometimes get overwhelmed by the unlimited possibilities for my dinner table. That’s why I love Foodie Recipes; it’s a virtual cookbook full of recipes that I can take on the go. When my head starts spinning and I don’t know where to start, I can open up this app on my iPhone or iPad to find the perfect healthy recipe complete with gorgeous photos, clear instructions, and preparation and cook times. Yes, I’m the fly-by-the-seat of her pants home chef who plans her menu while pushing a cart or finishing a workout at the gym – thank goodness I now have “an app for that!”
It’s really neat how the format of the Foodie Recipes appreads just like a traditional cookbook, but with much more convenience. Every month, a new batch of food-editor curated recipes are uploaded in “editions” that fit the season or a theme – for example, past editions have included “Easy as Pie,” “Dinners for Two,” and “Holiday Sweets.” One of my favorite editions is “Gluten-Free Meals;” it features a seven day meal plan for folks who have allergies, are intolerant or just want to avoid foods with gluten. All 30 recipes in this “Gluten-Free Meals” edition were created by Café Johnsonia and organized so your every sense will be delighted from Meatless Monday through Sunday Supper (with Traditional Tuesday, Western Wednesday, Thai Thursday, Friday Favorites and Sunrise Saturday in between).
So, yesterday, as I toggled my way through the Foodie Recipes app, I found this lovely Strawberry Cucumber & Spinach Salad and it just reminded me of all the things I love about spring. I knew my mom and friends would love the gluten-free recipe too, so I shared through email and my social media outlets to spread this tasteful message of the season. You could serve this healthy recipe as a side dish or top with your favorite lean protein for an amazing entrée salad.
Enjoy! And, don’t forget to check out the FREE Foodie Recipes app for the iOS platform (iPhone, iPad, iTouch) – available for free download in the iTunes Store.
Strawberry Cucumber & Spinach Salad Recipe
8 oz. strawberries, sliced
1 small or ½ large cucumber, peeled if desired, cut in half lengthwise, thinly sliced
5 oz. fresh baby spinach
2-3 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
½ cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped
1-2 tsp. honey, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
For salad: Place all ingredients into a large serving bowl. Add some of the dressing and toss gently to coat. Add more if needed. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.
For dressing: Whisk the yogurt, lemon juice and olive oil together. Add the honey, salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings as necessary, to taste. Chill until ready to use. Yield: ⅓ cup dressing
This post sponsored by Foodie.com and the Glam Network. However, all opinions are my own.