Grilled Avocado Boats with Blistered Tomatoes

Last week, I grilled cantaloupe and today it’s avocados! I’ve been getting my fruit freak on by firing up whatever pretty produce catches my eye. This isn’t big news at my house. When it comes to backyard cooking, I’m always in beta mode and, thankfully, it’s nearly impossible to mess up a simple, fresh meal on the grill. Grilled Avocado Boats

Are you ready to swoon over the “smoky swag” of my Grilled Avocado Boats with Blistered Tomatoes. Trust me, you’ll swoon and then run for a spoon! Continue reading

Shaved Asparagus, Spinach and Pea Salad with Quinoa

Roman Emperor and asparagus aficionado, Caesar Augustus, had an expression — Velocius quam asparagi conquantur!  Literally it meant “Faster that cooking asparagus,” but the point Augustus was trying to get across to his military minions was “Get going already”! Shaved Asparagus, Spinach and Pea Salad with Quinoa

Today I’m sharing a no-cook recipe that, by definition, IS FASTER than the already fast task of cooking asparagus. Try my Shaved Asparagus, Spinach and Pea Salad with Quinoa, it comes together in mere minutes and will pass muster with even the pickiest produce eaters!   Continue reading

Pomegranate Roasted Pears with Pine Nuts & Blue Cheese

I have a thaaaaaaaaaang for pears, eating right out of hand and using them as the star ingredient in healthy desserts. If I was a partridge, I’d never fly out of my pear tree –the fruit is just so dang delicious and nutritious. Pomegranate Roasted Pears with Pine Nuts & Blue Cheese is a super simple yet sorta fancy-schmancy dessert or side dish that can be made in 30 minutes! Pomegranate Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese and Pine Nuts

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Molasses & Pepper Crusted Steaks + Iron-Boosting Salad

Molasses Marinated Flat Iron Leftover steak from the grilling makes the BEST next day salad. Tossing a few extra steaks on the grill is my little secret to putting together a quick meal when life just starts getting too crazy to cook. Since we are now officially “Back to School,” my recipe for Molasses & Pepper Crusted Steak and the next-day “Super Iron Boosting” Steak Salad with Dates, Pistachios and Peppers will most likely be in my weekly lunch and dinner rotation until soup season hits (which is still months away in Texas).

pinners conference pic 1I’ll be showing these two recipes (along with a couple others) in my “Empowered Meal Prepping – Protein for Fitness” class line-up for the Pinner’s Conference in the Dallas area on Sept 9th.  Sign up for my class; I’ll also have beef swag and lots of tasty samples!  Use the discount code FITFORK at online registration to save 10% on the very reasonable cost that allows you access to 100+ classes on food, fitness, crafts, home décor and more! Or, if you just want General Admission to shop and see the sights (no classes), you can get a free pass ($7 at door) using FREESHOPPINGRESISTER HERE

So, let’s start with the steak . . . since you need steak leftovers to make the salad! The beef cut I’ve used is the very tender and quite economical Flat Iron steak, but Top Sirloin, Tenderloin or Strip steaks would all work equally well.   The natural sugars from the molasses in this recipe caramelize along with the pepper to make a deliciously crispy crust on the outside of a mouthwatering and juicy center.  I like to pair this steak with Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Quinoa Molasses and Pepper-Crusted Grilled Steak is a quick dinner to grill up and the leftovers can be used in salads, tacos, breakfast hashes and more.

Make sure to save some steak so you can use the leftovers to make my “Super Iron Boosting” Steak Salad with Dates, Pistachios and Peppers.  Almost everything about this salad is iron-boosting from the red meat and molasses, to the dates, pistachios (highest iron nut), and spinach.  All of us, especially athletes, need iron, a mineral that helps red blood cells get oxygen to the muscles, thusly improving energy, athletic performance and mental functioning.

uper Iron Boosting Steak Spinach Salad with Dates, Pistachios and Peppers is a quick and easy meal-solution made with leftover beef. Nearly every ingredients is an abundant source of iron, making it perfect for athletes or those with anemia.

Molasses Steak Salad with Dates Blue Cheese toesThe salad isn’t a “recipe” per se, just pile fresh baby spinach on a plate and add 3 ounces of leftover steak cut in bite-sized pieces. Top that with other veggies you love, like yellow pepper strips, and a couple tablespoons each of sliced dates, blue cheese and pistachios. I’ve served with my favorite store-purchased Organic Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing from Litehouse Foods.

How to Layer a Jar Salad

Above are some useful tips for prepping your salad in a jar, if taking to school or work.

Brazilian Beef and Plantain Breakfast BowlAnother recipe in my class, and so delicious with these steak leftovers is a Brazilian Beef & Plantain Breakfast Bowl (with Coconut and Honey).

 

 

 

 

 

What is your favorite cut of steak to grill? Do you like your salads savory, sweet or both? Do you go back and make recipes from pins you’ve saved? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

Molasses & Pepper Crusted Steak
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Molasses & Pepper Crusted Steak
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Whisk together molasses, vinegar, oil, pepper, garlic, ginger, thyme, and red pepper flakes, and pour into plastic zip-top bag containing steaks. Seal tightly and flip a few times to evenly distribute marinade.
  2. Set in refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours, flipping bag occasionally.
  3. Preheat gas or charcoal grill to 400 F degrees. Remove meat and discard marinade. Season with salt and more pepper to taste.
  4. Place steaks on oiled grates and grill for approximately 7 to 9 minutes on one side, or until moisture starts to pool on the top and beef releases easily from grates with tongs. Flip once, grilling on the other side for 6 to 8 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 135 F degrees with instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of steak
  5. Transfer plates to platter and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.
  6. *Double recipe if you’d like to have leftovers to make steak salad and beef breakfast bowl.
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Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa + Pinner’s Conference

Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa - thefitfork.comIt’s happened more than once, I’ve tasted a quinoa salad and gone “meh” even though I know good for me. We are at the crescendo of the quinoa craze, so you too probably are aware that this ancient grain (which is actually a seed) boosts your diet with  nutrients like B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E, and fiber. Additionally, quinoa is also one of only a few plant foods considered a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids — oh how I love me some protein! 

Maple Pecan Raisin Malasses Crusted Steak and Butternut Squash Quinoa

To add some flavor excitement to a quinoa recipe, I decided to mix up a dish that magnifies some of my favorite flavors that some consider “fall season” but I embrace year ’round – maple syrup and butternut squash! And hey, even though it was 105 degrees yesterday . . . we are getting closer to Autumn one day at a time! I’ve used two of my favorite products from NOW Foods, Organic Tri-color Quinoa and Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa can be served warm, room temperature or cold -- it's a healthy vegetarian side dish or salad packed with protein and wholesome energy.Anyway,my recipe for Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa is just bursting with flavor and wholesome goodness. Not only is this recipe pretty to look at, it’s a beautiful addition to a meal-prepping lineup — especially important now that it’s Back-To-School season. You can make a big batch and eat it warm or cold — it also holds up well to being packed in a lunchbox.   Of course, I like to pair mine with a big, juicy steak!

Maple Pecan Raisin Malasses Crusted Steak and Butternut Squash Quinoa

By the way, I am demonstrating this Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa coming up on Friday, September 9th at the Texas Pinner’s Conference  in the Dallas area (Arlington Convention Center). My class is called “Empowered Meal Prep – Protein for Fitness.” 

pinners conference class description

pinners conference pic 1Learn how to prepare enough protein (I’m grilling Molasses & Pepper Crusted Steaks) to make dinner with leftovers for breakfast and lunch — the other recipes are Iron-Boosting Beef & Date Spinach Salad and Steak & Plantain Breakfast Bowl. Sign up for my class, I’ll also have beef swag and lots of tasty samples!  Use the discount code FITFORK at online registration to save 10% on the very reasonable cost that allows you access to 100+ classes on food, fitness, crafts, home décor and more! Or, if you just want General Admission to shop and see the sights (no classes), you can get a free pass ($7 at door) using FREESHOPPING. RESISTER HERE

Are you a make-ahead meal prepper? What is your favorite dish to stock in the fridge or freezer? Have the kids gone back to school yet? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

 

Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa - thefitfork.com
Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa
Print Recipe
Beautiful and health-boosting, this easy quinoa recipe works well as a warm side dish or cold salad -- it packs and keeps for several days making it ideal for potlucks, lunchboxes, and make-ahead dinner planning.
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa - thefitfork.com
Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa
Print Recipe
Beautiful and health-boosting, this easy quinoa recipe works well as a warm side dish or cold salad -- it packs and keeps for several days making it ideal for potlucks, lunchboxes, and make-ahead dinner planning.
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Toss butternut squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and place in single layer on rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Bake squash, stirring once halfway through, for approximately 15 minutes or until tender and turning golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool down.
  3. Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package directions -- it should also take around 15 minutes, so you can do the squash and quinoa simultaneously to save time.
  4. When quinoa done, transfer to large bowl, fluff with fork and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  5. While quinoa and squash cooling down, prepare dressing by adding maple syrup, remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, thyme and salt to small bowl and whisk until combined.
  6. Add cooked quinoa, cooked squash, green onions, raisins, and pecans to large bowl, mix gently to combine.
  7. Pour dressing over top and stir to evenly distribute. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled.
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Summer Sides! Tomato Salad with Savory Ancho Granola

savory granola tomato salad overhead horizontalBotanically a fruit, embraced as a vegetable, the vibrant and vitamin-packed tomato is tops when it comes to versatility. Tomatoes are enjoyed at the annual rate of 31 pounds per person, eaten raw on salads and as a key ingredients in sauces, salsas and many soups. Even my tomato-avoiding son gets his fair share in the form of ketchup!

I’m flashing back to one of my favorite easy recipes of summer, Tomato Salad with Savory Ancho Honey Granola. Get the recipe in an archived post FOUND HERE:

Tomato Salad with Ancho Honey Granola is a gorgeous and good-for-you side dish for your summer meals.

 

 

 

The Tomato Salad with Savory Ancho Honey Granola recipe can be avory Ancho Honey Skillet Granola is delicious eaten alone, but also makes a great crunchy topping for salads, soups and baked fish.FOUN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ancho Honey Skillet Granola recipe FOUND HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I like using Love Grown Food”s Super Oats for this Ancho recipe — it’s packed with all sorts of extra nut and seed goodness!


I’m also putting this gorgeous Crab & Heirloom Tomato Salad on my dinner lineup this week — it looks so light and refreshing!

Crab and Heirloom Tomato Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomat-O, tomat-OH, what is your favorite way to eat tomatoes? Please share in the comments below. Also, who’s training for what — I’m looking for some fall half marathons! XOXO, Jennifer 

Get Active Outdoors in Austin #FromHereForHere

 

This post was sponsored by Ozarka Water, however all opinions, recipes, and enthusiasm are my own.Hi How are You Mural from AustinI love living in Austin, Texas and, with the exception of a few boomerang moves, I have called this little place (well, now a BIG place) home my entire life – not many folks can say the same! Sure, the live music scene and hipster vibe has made this town trendy and it’s also the place to be for high tech, politics, and a good food truck fix.   However, the opportunities for being active are what I appreciate most about being right here in the ATX. The weather is wonderfully warm and the sun seems to never stop shining on the abundance of parks, lakes and local events where I stay active. And, there are so many local businesses that make products #FromHereForHere (like Ozarka Water) that keep me hydrated and fueled up for my healthy fitness journey.

Sometimes I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.  My neighborhood has over 20 miles of hike and bike trails to run and explore . . . 

#FromHereForHEre Trail Run in Austin

My house is sublimely sandwiched between two bodies of water. Three miles one way is Lake Travis, the largest reservoir of the Colorado River and home to swimming, boating, scuba diving, and even legal nude bathing in the Hippie Hollow park area (we all want to #KeepAustinWeird). Another three miles down the road the other way is the return of the Colorado River at Mansfield Damn before it turns into downtown’s Lake Austin (more recently renamed Ladybird Lake).

I like to paddle board toward downtown for miles or until my arms tire out . . .

Paddle Boarding Lake Austin

#FromHereFor Here Jet Ski in Austin

 

Some days I get my motor started by taking the jet ski out . . . 

 

 

 

 

 

Or, sometimes I just relax and sit in a chair while my son enjoys after-dinner fishing while our dog standing on guard . . . 

davis fishing with lucy

And, if the water sports in Austin weren’t enough, there is every type of endurance sporting event imaginable – my favorites are probably the Spartan Race in nearby Burnett at Reveille Ranch and the Fit Foodie Race.

Of course, being so active in Austin requires the proper hydration and snacks! And that’s where I can count on Texas to treat me right again! There are so many beverages and foods #FromHereForHere that make it heaven for the adventurous, healthy foodie like myself.

Ozarka Water  by Lake Austin

jennifer ozarkaWith the heat and amount of physical activity I do in the summer, I always concerned about getting enough water. At the top of my cooler you’ll find Ozarka ® Brand Natural Spring Water, sourced from three nearby springs, this water has a uniquely Texan fresh taste! It’s so easy to stay hydrated with this clean-tasting, crisp water that’s available in convenient single-serve bottles and for Ozarka® water delivery at home.

Gotta have that Ozarka ® Brand Natural Spring Water! I try to drink an ounce per pound of my body weight, even more if I’ve run far or worked out hard!

All these outdoor workouts in in Austin makes a girl hungry So, I came up with a super easy nut recipe using a few local ingredients #FromHereForHere . It’s perfect to pack up in a snack baggie for on-the-go munching at the lake or post run!  My Habanero BBQ Almonds use Yellowbird Sauce (a peppery condiment that puts the whoowhee hot yum on EVERYTHING, Sweet & Spicy Mustard Seeds from Taste Elevated that add in interesting mustard sweet-heat flavor and BBQ Sauce from Snow’s BBQ Sauce (named best in the state by Texas Monthly staff).

Habanero BBQ Almonds

To make, heat skillet to medium- high over stovetop. add 1 cup raw, unsalted almonds. Toast, stirring constantly for 4 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup BBQ sauce, 2 teaspoons habanero sauce, 1 tablespoon moist, jarred mustard seeds (with sauce) and 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt. Cook over medium-low for an additional 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Makes 1 cup.

JElly Queens Spice Kings Grill OzarkaI also found some new local ingredients for my grilling creations — I can’t wait to try them! The Black Garlic Rosemary BBQ Sauce from Jelly Queens  is an umami bomb of flavor! I first learned about black garlic about a year ago as an ingredient, but have never seen it used in a prepared artisan product – this stuff will send your taste buds out of bounds!  They also make a fab-looking Steak Rub that will be so on fleek crusting up my flat iron!

Chips Queso Bean Salad OzarkaWhen I’m packing a picnic lunch for the lake, my recipe for Mom’s Best Black Bean, Avocado & Corn Salad is ALWAYS a winner – in fact, the California Avocado Association even named it the winner in the July 4th All-American Recipe Contest in 2014! But add some local love to this salad, I take along Queso con Salsa Escabeche from CookWell & Company  (built around a blend of blue and cheddar cheeses!) and Paqui’s  Tortilla Chips (“better for you” tortilla chips named after the Aztec word for “to be happy”). The family and I are snacking happy until the sun sets!

What do you love most about your hometown? Do you have any must-try local food products? Do you drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water per day? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

 

Grilled Chicken, Corn and Jicama Chop Salad with Sweet-Heat BBQ Vinaigrette

This post is sponsored by Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q, however the recipes, opinions and enthusiasm are all my own!

There is so much to love about May! The weather is warmer, daylight lasts longer and backyard patios, porches and pergolas are prime party spots for good friends and great food. I don’t know about you, but my go-to cooking method from early spring well into the fall season is grilling. Whether I’m entertaining company or it’s just the family, my trusty grill is this mom’s solution when it comes to whipping up creative, healthy and quick meals. Grilled Chicken, Corn & Jicama Salad with Sweet Heat BBQ Sauce Vinaigrette

I will grill anything and everything.  I get fired up for grilling the gamut . . . meats and seafood to fruit, veggies and dessert (mmmm, banana boats)!  Today, I’m sharing a recipe for Chicken, Corn and Jicama Chopped Salad with Sweet-Heat BBQ Vinaigrette that relies on one of my secret weapons when it comes to grilling and barbeque – Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Sauces, Marinades and Rubs.

Grilled Chicken, Corn & Jicama Salad with Sweet Heat BBQ Sauce Vinaigrette makes a hearty meal for your backyard cookout, picnic or potluck.

grilled corn in hand squareGrilled corn and chicken are the stars of this simple grilled salad recipe – Stubb’s Chicken Spice Rub gives just the right amount of seasoning to poultry and vegetables without being overpowering or too spicy for my kids to eat. This is the original rub of Stubb’s fame, crafted by the legend himself at his original Texas Bar-B-Q joint — “It all starts with good rub.”

Stubb's Chicken Spice Rub

To dress this chopped chicken salad that also features jicama and avocado , I’ve created a simple barbecue sauce vinaigrette that is a bit spicy, a bit sweet – and certainly fun to eat! Using Stubb’s Sweet Heat Bar-B-Q Sauce is my not-so-secret shortcut to prepping this dressing in mere minutes. Of course, this BBQ sauce with hints of brown sugar and chipotle peppers is also excellent used in the traditional way to drizzle or douse on everything from baby back ribs and burgers to pizza and sweet potatoes.

Barbeque Brisket Skillet Nachos will satisfy a crowd!It’s also the sauce I use in my Brisket & Bean Skillet Nachos. I love that Stubb’s Bar-B-Q sauces get their bold flavors from real, wholesome ingredients with no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners.  Also, you’ll find absolutely NO (none, zip, nada) high-fructose corn syrup in these quality condiments.

Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q, maker the No. 1 brand of barbecue sauce, rubs and marinades in the the country, is located right here in Austin, Texas — so I can head over and dive head-first in a vat, if I want!  But, these barbecue “helpers” are also sold in 85% of grocery stores nationwide — so, run out and getcha some!

Stubbs Grilled Chicken Corn Chop Salad

Grilled Chicken, Corn and Jicama Chop Salad with Sweet-Heat BBQ Vinaigrette is such an easy grilled recipe and the perfect fixin’s for a potluck or picnic – whether for Memorial Day, a graduation or any summer time celebration. You can also make it the night before, the dish is delicious served cold and the vinegar and lemon juice in the dressing help keep the avocado fresh for up to a day in the fridge. If you want to enjoy as a side dish or vegetarian meal — just omit the chicken and dig in!

What have you been tossing on the grill lately? Any big weekend plans for Memorial Day — a race, a party, a picnic? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

Grilled Chicken, Corn and Jicama Chop Salad with Sweet-Heat BBQ Vinaigrette
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Grilled Chicken, Corn and Jicama Chop Salad with Sweet-Heat BBQ Vinaigrette
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 to 6 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Rub uncooked chicken breasts with 1 tablespoon olive oil and rub with 2 tablespoons Stubb’s Chicken Spice Rub.
  2. Heat charcoal or gas grill to approximately 400 F degrees and grill chicken approximately 15 – 20 minutes, flipping once, or until cooked through and internal temperature reads 165F degrees.
  3. While chicken is cooking, rub corn cobs with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon Stubb’s Chicken Spice Rub.
  4. Place corn on grill with chicken and grill for approximately 10 minutes, rotating occasionally, or until turning tender and browning in spots.
  5. Remove chicken and corn from grill and let rest for 10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle.
  6. Chop chicken into small, bite-sized pieces. Slice corn kernels off the cob. Add both to medium bowl along with jicama, red onion, red bell pepper and avocado. Set aside while making dressing.
  7. To make dressing, whisk Stubb’s Sweet Heat Bar-B-Q Sauce together with olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, honey and pepper.
  8. Pour dressing over salad and toss gently. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
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