Pack some pasta salad, it’s the perfect picnic food! Whether you are hanging lakeside with the kids all day or heading to a summer concert in the park with your sweetie, prepping a pasta salad for the cooler makes for a fresh, flavorful and fit meal later.
Plus, picnic recipes like my popular Niçoise Tortellini Salad are super simple and speedy to assemble – you know I’m spending the time savings outdoors and out of the kitchen! Continue reading →
Football parties, tailgating and fall season gathers require dip to draw people together. Just think of all the great gossip, high-fiving and friendly smack talk that has gone down in, what I like to call, the “Chip and Dip Zone.”
But, maybe you hesitate to enter the ZONE for fear of the cheesy dip – is it made of mystery processed “cheese,” loaded with fat upon fat, or just boringly bland? I’ll admit, these thoughts cross my mind, especially flashbacks of tepid fake orange stadium cheese on stale round tortilla chips. That’s why I came up with my Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso – it’s bold and it’s better for you made with REAL ingredients.
I think you’ll definitely widen your mind (and mouth) in appreciation for my Blue Cheese & Fire-roasted Tomato Queso. This unique cheese dip marrieds the audacious attitude blue-cheese with the smoky laid-back goodness of tomatoes roasted over flames. I’ve used my fav brand of blue cheese (Simply Artisan Reserve Blue Cheese Crumbles) and canned fire-roasted tomatoes which. Of course, canned tomatoes are convenient and taste great in recipes, but did you know that they contain more lycopene (a free-radical destroying antioxidant) than those fresh off the vine? It’s true!
While this cheese dip recipe requires a whisk, it’s quite easy prepare, coming together in just 15 minutes or less– and you can keep it warmed for a party but pouring into a small slow cooker. It was first whipped up to celebrated International Beer Day with Litehouse Foods. Using low-fat dairy products help keep this snack sensible in moderation and, if you are on a gluten-free diet, it is easy to swap out flour used in the roux with a gluten-free flour blend (I use Living Now Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour, it’s inexpensive and provides the right texture for my recipe)
Serve Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso with veggie sticks, artisan chips, or chunks of crusty bread. I’ve even reheated the leftovers and poured over cooked zoodles and topped with shrimp for an impromptu “pasta” dinner.
If you are hosting a huge football party, you might want to consider adding my Healthy Snack Stadium to your spread of snacks, appetizers and game-day grub.
[Tweet Not yer stadium cheese dip! Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso #fitfluential #livinglitehouse”]
What football team(s) are you rooting for this season? Are you typically an at-home or stadium spectator? Please share in comments, xoxo Jennifer
Blue Cheese & Fire-roasted Tomato Queso
Up your game day grub with this lightened up queso featuring the bold flavors of blue cheese and flame-kissed tomatoes. It's even a winner at dinner served over zoodles or pasta!
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, warm milk (without boiling), stirring occasionally.
At the same time, heat butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add flour to melted butter and whisk continuously, cooking until it is bubbling and has turned lightly golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
Stream in heated milk, whisking continuously, and continue to cook over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens slightly. Add cheeses and whisk well until melted smooth and incorporated. Add Italian Herb Blend, dried red pepper flakes, green onions and drained tomatoes, stirring until combined.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into serving bowl and garnish as desired.
This blog post was sponsored by Silk but the opinions are all my own.
What happens when professional football and feeding the family a vegetarian meal collide – its #MeatlessMondayNight !! So, if your stomach is growling, get ready to rumble, there are so many meal and dessert options that don’t feature meat or dairy products. I’ll get to the entrée later, but let’s talk dessert first!
While I eat with my health in mind and look at food as a way to fuel my body for running, yoga and Crossfit, I also think it should taste fantastic – and should include room for the occasional sensible snack and dessert. To satisfy my sweet tooth after a Meatless Monday dinner, I’ve whipped up these easy Skinny Chocolate Cannoli Puddings that my whole family loves.
Skinny Chocolate Cannoli Puddings make the perfect, light addition to your football game night spread – especially if everyone has been filling up on heavy dips and appetizers. I’ve also served the individual-sized portions in clear plastic cups for easy clean up at tailgating parities. Just fill the disposable cups up with pudding, cover with plastic wrap and then place in a cooler along with a can of dairy-free topping for that special touch.
Great in recipes, but Silk Vanilla Soymilk is also yummy by the glassful!
These Skinny Chocolate Cannoli Puddings can be served in 2 ounce shooter glasses for a fancy presentation at a cocktail parting or holiday gathering. I’ve made the recipe with Silk Vanilla Soymilk, but you can easily swap in Silk Almondmilk, Silk Cashewmilk or Silk Coconutmilk. Compared to traditional cannoli made with full-fat ricotta cheese, heavy cream and lots of oil from frying the shells, my pudding version will keep you light on your feet!
If you’re a meat-eater (and I unapologetically am), why not join in the #MeatlessMondayNight challenge along with me? You don’t have to give up your meat every night of the week, just incorporate a vegetarian meal once a week, like for Monday night football games this season! Personally, I am never going to give up meat all together, I’m just into a varied diet with lean proteins including meat, poultry, fish, and plant-based protein along with colorful produce in season – my personal hashtag should be #AllTheFoods ! The products from Silk work so well in all my recipes and make it easier to attain this once-a-week change.
Don’t get so busy at mealtime that you slip into the bland habit of eating the same thing every night. Occasionally this happens to me, I realize that I am eating the same lettuce mix with the same toppings and dressing for days on end – like some sort of salad robot!
Just like you plan a vacation by leafing through brochures and surfing the web, why not spend a few extra minutes each week finding some quick and easy ways to give your busy weeknight meals some international flair and flavor. To get you started, I’ve put together a collection simple and healthy dinner recipes for Foodie.com that are a one-way ticket to flavor town – groan, did I just say that?! There is a healthy international recipe for everyone – Thai recipes, Italian recipes, American recipes, Middle Eastern recipes, Latin American recipes and more! I’ve also put together a challenging workout for the gymnastic rings. I love to get a workout in on the rings because, unlike a stable bar or floor surface, the rings make your muscles work in over drive to find balance and work in harmony with your whole body. On the rings everything is a little more difficult – okay, some things are a lot more difficult. With the movement of the rings, I’m constantly having to rely on joint position and muscle senses in order to accomplish an exercise – that’s called proprioception, y’all! While I’ve written this gymnastic ring workout for 5 sets, feel free to go at your own pace and rest between sets and individual exercises. Also, reduce the number of sets and reps, if needed. If you can’t do one of the exercises, simply hang from the rings and stretch your spine out and then practice the hollow body rock movement needed for kipping. If workout is too easy, wear a weight vest like I suggest in my Rings of Fire workout – ha!
Also, if you are planning on running Zooma Texas (or even just sorta thinking about it), join me, the other Zooma ambassadors and lots of new running friends at Athleta at the Domain ( 11601 Century Oaks Terrace Suite 121, Austin, TX 78758 ) for a Kick Off Training Run. We’ll run 3 miles together as #ZOOMAnation and then enjoy post-run beverages and a gift-with-purchase (of $75+) from Athleta. All levels of runners are welcome, you do not have to be registered for the race to attend, so grab your girlfriends and join us!
Have you ever been on the gymnastic rings? My favorite exercise on the rings is “toes-to-bar,” what is yours . . . or what would you try first? Have you ever run a Zooma race?
Oh my goodness, I almost let National Pasta Day go uncelebrated and in my house full of noodle-lovers, that would be an unforgiveable offense. I’ve grown my three sons into their teens on some form of pasta or another – they get that gene from their dad who lived exclusively on macaroni and cheese with tuna fish until age 29 (when we got engaged).
Carbs, carbs – yes, traditional pasta has carbohydrates. Even though I eat a higher protein diet, I do enjoy a little taste of carby comfort now and then – especially when it’s topped with a kaleidoscope of my favorite fresh produce. I want to share with you my recipe for Shrimp & Sugar Snap Pasta with Lemon Gremolata — it may seem a little “out of season” considering the boom of butternut squash and pumpkin recipes this time of year but, trust me, it’s a welcomed ray of sunshine for your supper (and the leftovers pack nicely for lunch). Oh, and since Austin is still in its endless summer season (which I expect to last until the beginning of November), I will just continue to enjoy wearing flip flops, summery tops and just-picked-from-the-garden pasta dishes.
I adapted this pasta salad recipe from one I’ve taught in classes on behalf of the Texas Beef Council. Of course, that recipe used sliced sirloin (always a good choice) but I just knew it would be good tweaked with shrimp, chicken or just extra vegetables. Feel free to make substitutions, this recipe is super accommodating. For example, if sugar snap peas aren’t in the market, substitute blanched green beans or lightly steamed baby carrots. Also, use the noodle you prefer – like gemelli, corkscrew, bow ties or penne! The light and vibrant Lemon Gremolata dressing will find its way into the nooks and crannies of the pasta and really pulls all the flavors together. Enjoy!
Winter is almost here and big salad for dinner might sound a bit out of season. However, I’ve tossed together a fabulous entrée salad for Litehouse Foods that will have you crawling out of hibernation during the calendar’s cooler months. My Ranch Winter Panzanella with Chicken is inspired by bread salad renowned in the Tuscan region of Italy that most often features sun-ripened tomatoes, lettuce and basil drizzled with a vinaigrette. However, my sweater-weather version of this signature seasonal course includes chicken breast along with roasted winter vegetables caramelized to sweet, earthy perfection — and finished with a creamy Greek yogurt ranch dressing. Baby Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, red onions and spinach are all in the mix, but swap out or add to the robust medley with any favorite ingredient — most root vegetable will win raves.
Roasting vegetables is super easy. Coarsely chop up potatoes, squash, onions, Brussels sprouts, carrots or whatever hearty veggies you love and top with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. Roast for 30 minutes in a 400 F degree oven, stirring halfway through.
Mmm, you don’t want to miss the full recipe for this salad. Visit the blog at Litehouse Foods for all the delicious details.
½ loaf (about 8 ounces) day-old French or Sourdough or Rustic bread (cut into 1” cubes)*
4 Tbsp olive oil (divided)
4 Tbsp dried Italian Herb Blend (divided)
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt (divided)
1 10-oz package frozen cubed butternut squash
1 lb fresh baby Brussels sprouts (halved)
1 large red onion (peeled and cut into 1” chunks)
1 lb pre-cooked chicken breast (cut into large chunks)
1 cup packed fresh spinach leaves
½ cup Greek-yogurt based or light Ranch Dressing
1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Add bread cubes to large bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Italian Herb Blend and 1 teaspoon of the salt.
3. Toss together to coat bread. Spread out on rimmed baking sheet and bake uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Remove from oven to cool on paper towel. Keep oven heated.
4. In large bowl, add cubed squash (okay if still frozen), Brussels sprouts, and onion. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons Italian Herb Blend and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Dust off crumbs from crouton baking sheet and spread out vegetable mixture in single layer. Roast uncovered in 400 F degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring gently halfway for even cooking.
5. Remove vegetables from oven and let cool down for approximately 15 minutes. Add prepared bread croutons, cubed chicken and spinach to pan; toss together. Transfer to serving platter and drizzle with Ranch Dressing or serve on the side. Best served warm or at room temperature.