Eat Clean – Better Food Starts with Simple Ingredients

Eat Real Food - TheFitFork.comLet’s get real. Even as fitness aficionado, it’s not easy, nor realistically possible, to eat clean and healthy 100 percent of the time. But, the mindset that it’s just fine to eat clean 80 percent of the time and the other 20% doesn’t matter at all, rubs me a little the wrong way. Yet, it’s so popular – the “80/20 Principle” is pervasive all over the Internets, Twitter, Instagram, other social media and even t-shirts!

The other 20 percent DOES matter – it’s 1/5 of your daily consumption!  Do you drive your car with reckless abandon 20 percent of the time? Do you only balance your bank account 80 percent of the time?  While, I think it’s fine to treat yourself to more indulgent foods as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes plenty of exercise,  it’s still important to make sure those treats are made with better ingredients – whole foods or unprocessed (or very minimally processed) foods, as much as possible.  Dark chocolate is a favorite treat of mine, as is ice cream with whole food ingredients. If you do break and eat freaky foods like Velveeta queso and Diet Mountain Dew (like I did on my recent beach trip), don’t freak and throw out the baby with the bathwater– just get back on track at your next meal. When I’m really being conscience of what I’m eating on a regular basis, even these little wobbles don’t add up to anywhere near 20 percent.

Sunrise yoga handstand fueled by BETTER FOOD!

Sunrise yoga fueled by BETTER FOOD!

Eating better makes you feel better, and when you feel better you have energy to conquer your goals — for me, that’s new yoga poses, obstacle course races, marathon running and more. Better food starts with simple, fresh ingredients free of artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colors and flavors and other nasty stuff that requires a chemistry degree to pronounce – that’s why I love to work with organizations like the Texas Beef Council, the National Watermelon Promotion Board and Litehouse Foods.  Recently I found out that Panera Bread is tidying up their already pretty darn clean menu.  I’ve always enjoyed stopping into this casual spot for a quick meal after the gym, with the kids for a healthier lunch, and even to pick up salads to-go for a busy weeknight dinner.

Panera has always been a more mindful solution than grabbing burgers and fries at a drive-through, they are known for seasonal ingredients, whole grains and well-balanced plates (would you like an apple with your sandwich?!).  Also, I’ve always appreciated the transparency about each menu item’s calorie count and nutritional information. Well, the good just got better and most menu items including salads and dressing are made without artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives. The company created a No-No List including chemicals, additives, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial trans fats, etc. (more than 150 ingredients in total) and is currently in the process of removing all of these from their offerings by the end of 2016. I’ve put all the no-no ingredients in a graphic for you to print out or pin.

If it doesn't sound like food, then it's not food. Eat clean.Yesterday, I enjoyed a Strawberry Poppy Seed and Chicken Salad for lunch – it was really too pretty to eat, but I did! It was topped with chicken raised without antibiotics, romaine, fresh strawberries, blueberries and pineapple, mandarin oranges and pecans with fat-free poppy seed dressing with no preservatives or funky stuff.

Strawberry Poppy Seed Chicken SaladThe entire full-sized salad has just 350 calories and yet 29 grams protein – now that’s a lean and mean deal! They have lots of other equally delicious and nutritious options like the new Power Kale and Chicken Caesar topped with handmade Parmesan crisps.

Power Kale and Chicken Salad

What do you think about the “80/20 Rule” ? Have you ever been to Panera?  What is your favorite menu item to order?

Fast, Fit Family Valentine Dinners – Mix and Match Menu

10 Ideas for Mix and Match Family Valentine Dinner - TheFitFork.comHas your week of work, working out and kids’ activities been more jam-packed and crazy than a floral shop filled with frantic husbands and boyfriends fighting for the last bouquet? Well, don’t fret that you haven’t made a menu for Valentine’s Day, I’ve got you covered!  Check out my ideas for quick-to-make, kid-friendly dinner ideas that provide the quality nutrition you love!  I have three ideas each for salads, entrees and desserts — plus a bonus baked heart fries recipe– feel free to mix and match!

SALADS:

Spinach Strawberry SaladStrawberry Spinach Salad – This beautiful berry salad will get any spinach avoider to start eating greens!

 

 

 

 

Cucumber Heart Salad

 

Simple Green Salad with Cucumber Cutouts – Dress up a simple green salad with cucumbers punched out in the center with a small heart cookie cutter.

 

 

 

 

Grapefrut and Hearts of Palm Salad

Grapefruit and Hearts of Palm Salad – Fall in love with the sweet-tart zing of this salad from Cooking Light. If you think the kids won’t like the slightly nutty, semi-firm texture of palm hearts (but I think they will), simply swap for another veggie.

 

 

 

 

ENTREES:

Give Me Amore Pizza

Give Me Amore Pepperponi Pizza

Give Me Some Amore Pizza with Quick Homemade Sauce – The kids will be begging for one more slice of this super-quick, convenience crust pizza that features homemade sauce made quickly in the blender (no simmering required).

Fish Baked in Parchment Paper

Herbed Cod with Vegetables in Papillote – This recipe I made for Litehouse foods sounds like it should be learned in a French culinary school, but it’s really super easy! Just wrap up ingredients in parchment paper and bake for about 15 minutes!

 

 

 

Spice Crusted Tenderloin Steak - TheFitFork.com

Spice Crusted Tenderloin Steaks – You can’t fail with a filet – and caramelized with spices and grilled to perfection, you will win Valentine’s Day dinner hands down.  Oh, and not only is tenderloin super tender (duh), it’s one of the leaner cuts!

 

 

 

 

DESSERTS:

Chocolate Yogurt Tart with Strawberries - TheFitFork.comStrawberry Greek Yogurt Tart – This better-for-you dessert features a grain free crust, creamy filling made with stevia-sweetened Greek yogurt, and lots of lush berries on top.

 

 

 

Strawberry Yogurt Chocolate Ice Cream TopperChocolate Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Topping  – I love this fun idea from friend Emily at the Litehouse Foods blog, she transformed Green yogurt fruit dip into a frozen “bark” to use as garnish on a favorite flavor of ice cream.

 

 

 

Strawberries and Chocolate Dip - TheFitFork.com

Berries with Chocolate Dip – Simple, sensible and a real sanity saver if you haven’t anything planned for dessert

 

 

 

 

 

Herb Lover's Oven Potato Fries for Valentines - TheFitFork.comThese were a popular recipe from last week — Herb Lover’s Oven Potato Fries

7 Heart-Healthy Salads | Raspberry, Feta and Wheat Berries Salad

Seven Heart-Healthy Salads - TheFitFork.com

I have a fondness for salads . . . actually maybe an addiction. Cooked veggies are pretty darn good, but if I don’t get my salad every day, better get out of my way!  What I love about salads is that they are easy to make, can be made-ahead of time to pack in a lunch or wait in the fridge until I get done running.  Many of my salad creations are impromptu, made with pre-cooked lean proteins, healthy pantry staples and whatever produce I find in the bin.  Of course, another benefit of eating salads (that is, if you don’t douse with fattening dressing) is that the ingredients are naturally low-fat and packed with important vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are so important for the maintenance and protection of your heart and body.  But, don’t just eat salad, exercise too – wink, wink, nudge, nudge.Raspberry & Feta Salad with Wheat Berries

Raspberry & Feta Salad with Wheat Berries – This salad features cooked grains atop a green salad to provide loads of minerals and soak up flavors from the dressing of your choice. This is a favorite salad from the Racing Weight Cookbook (Lean, Light Recipes for Athletes) — a great resource with more that 100 flavorful, easy recipes for athletes that will help you hit (or stay at) your ideal weight without compromising performance.

Raspberry & Feta Salad with Wheat Berries
Raspberry and Feta Salad with Wheat Berries
Print Recipe
Bright and beautiful, this salad features cooked grains atop a green salad to provide loads of minerals and soak up flavors from the dressing you love best.
Servings Prep Time
1 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Raspberry & Feta Salad with Wheat Berries
Raspberry and Feta Salad with Wheat Berries
Print Recipe
Bright and beautiful, this salad features cooked grains atop a green salad to provide loads of minerals and soak up flavors from the dressing you love best.
Servings Prep Time
1 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Divide salad greens between two plates, and top evenly with cooked grains, raspberries, feta and onion.
Recipe Notes

Republished with permission of VeloPress from Racing Weight Cookbook. Try more recipes at www.racingweightcookbook.com.

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Blueberry Snap Pea Salad with Chicken - TheFitFork.comBlueberry Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Chicken  –  Delicate, sweet yumminess – there is no other way to describe this entrée salad recipe. As a kid, we used to grow sugar snap peas in the early summer garden – so happy to have them year-round today my market.

 

Tropical Fusion Salad with Spicy Tortilla RibbonsTropical Fusion Salad with Spicy Tortilla Ribbons – This pretty salad of mine is a cover girl, appearing a few years back on the COVER of Taste of Home magazine.  Colorful fruits and veggies topped with oven-crunched tortilla strips make this salad a show-stopping stunner – that is until you announce “dig in!”

2010 MAy taste of home cover

 

 

 

 

Seared Steak and Mango Thai Noodle Salad

Seared Beef & Mango Thai Noodle Salad – The succulent flavor of seared beef pairs exotically alongside sweet mangos – toss in some other veggies and thin rice noodles for a balanced and beautiful meal.

Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salad - TheFitFork.com

Black Bean, Avocado & Corn Salad – This salad has been a family favorite for years and is actually been declared a contest winner by the California Avocado Commission. A healthy side dish for a BBQ or taco night, but I’ve been known to serve up a big bowl and call it dinner!

Strawberry Cucumber and Spinach Salad - TheFitFork.comStrawberry Cucumber & Spinach Salad – I have a hankering this lush and lovely salad is the one you’ll want to cut out hearts in the cucumbers and serve up to your sweetie on Valentine’s Day.  Serve as a side or top with the lean protein of your choice . . . .might I suggest scallops?!

 

 

Skinny Cranberry Chicken Salad - TheFitFork.com

Skinny Cranberry Pecan Salad – I love chicken salad. Cool, creamy and packed with lean protein, chicken salad is a go-to meal on my family’s overscheduled evenings. This makeover-recipe salad uses Greek yogurt for a healthier (and more protein-packed) meal.

How many times a week do you eat salad?

Describe your favorite salad (homemade or eating out)? 

 

 

Busy Day Fuel – Southwestern Tuna Quinoa Salad Two Ways!

5:15 am –  alarm clock, grab breakfast, run, shower, see three kids off to school, check emails, make work phone calls, start laundry, research and writing for client, leave for errands, hit the gym, eat lunch, grocery store, pick up kids from school, check mail, return emails, make more phone calls, go over kids homework, pick up clutter, make recipes, style photos, take blog photographs, chauffeur to sports practice and boy scouts, make dinner, pick up from band practice, finish laundry, pack next day’s lunches, go over family’s schedule, check emails, social media, talk to husband, play with dog, make a snack, sleep  – 11 pm (hopefully).  

alternative fish tacosOkay, so you can see I don’t usually have a lot of time for long, leisurely meals.  Normally, I am scarfing down breakfast, lunch and dinner quickly while standing up at the kitchen island or on the go. While my kids always get a nutritious, sit-down dinner before their nightly activities, my plate of food often gets pushed down the priority list while I wash the dishes, talk to them about their days and tackle the remainder of my  frenzied, gotta-get-out-the-door checklist.  Oh, if I had a dollar for every artistically-plated meal I’ve dumped into a Tupperware container to eat it in the car  . . . I’d have enough money to get the deluxe car detailing package that would remove crumbs from the nooks and crannies!

Maybe the whirlwind of life is why I love salads so much – by design, everything is meant to be jumbled up together – it’s not always pretty, but it’s productive!  Salads can be made ahead of time without worry of reheating and will wait patiently in the fridge until called into service. A big hearty salad with all the fixings is also the standard fare for my late-working, non-cooking husband.  To keep the love alive with my salads, I mix up the combination of dressings, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and extras like cheeses, nuts, grains and more – there a gazillion variations and I never get bored (this seems like an analogy for my life).

quinoa tuna saladAn easy and tasty protein that often tops my salads is tuna. I always keep a stockpile of  Bumble Bee® Tuna in the pantry and it has saved me from the “hangries” on many occasions with no-cook, no clean-up, super nutritious convenience.  I’m a fan of the single-serve, 2.5 ounce pouches of the Bumble Bee® Premium Albacore Tuna and Light Tuna because they don’t require a can opener or messy draining, making them oh-so workable in a lunch box.  But, if you’re used to the traditional cans, don’t worry, Bumble Bee® still makes those!

If you need a quick and easy dinner idea, check out my Fiesta Tuna Quinoa Salad Recipe  —  it can be served two ways! First way is to serve in a bowl as pictured above and get your protein fix with a spoon – did you know that 2.5 ounces of the Bumble Bee® Premium Albacore Tuna has 17 grams of protein and the quinoa adds even more to the mix! Red quinoa and tuna make a snappy pair and all the healthy veggies and southwestern citrus dressing will make you want to jump up, stomp your boots and shout “Ole!”  Don’t be scared that there are a lot of ingredients, it’s super easy to put together — chop, chop!

The second way to serve this healthy salad is to fill romaine lettuce leaves with this tasty tuna quinoa salad and eat them wrap-style. If you’re looking for more lunch box ideas, easy dinner recipes or other healthy meal inspiration, check out the Bumble Bee® collection of custom tuna recipessouthwestern fish lettuce tacos

Fiesta Tuna Quinoa Salad Recipe

  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground chile pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup olive oil (divided)
  • 1 ½ cups red quinoa, rinsed
  •  15 ½ -oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup quartered grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • ½ cup diced red bell pepper
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon diced fresh jalapeno
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions (bulb and tops)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish
  • 1 large avocado, cubed
  • 2 (5-oz) pouches Bumble Bee Albacore Tuna or Light Tuna (or four 2.5-oz pouches)
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (depending on heat preference)
  • Extras (optional): lime wedges, cilantro sprigs and romaine lettuce leaves
  1. Combine 1 tsp. salt, the cumin, coriander, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  2. In a 3-quart saucepan, heat 1 Tbs. of the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the salt, cumin, chile powder and cinnamon; stir well and saute for 30 seconds to make flavors bloom.
  3. Add quinoa to spices, stir again for about 30 seconds. Add 2 cups water and bring mixture to a boil; reduce to a low simmer, cover, and cook until the quinoa for about 20 to 22 minutes or until water is absorbed.
  4. Remove pot from heat and place clean dish cloth between lit and pot; let sit for about 4 to 5 minutes. This will help absorb remaining moisture and keep quinoa from getting sticky. Let quinoa cool to room temperature.
  5. While quinoa is cooling, combine the black beans, tomatoes, corn, peppers, jalapeno, green onions, and chopped cilantro in medium bowl. Add citrus juices, remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, honey and Sriracha sauce. Stir until coated. Mix in cooled quinoa, tuna and avocado; stir gently until combined.
  6. To serve, place in bowls or lettuce leaves and garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs and lime wedges. Note: this dish is excellent made the day before as flavors have more time to mingle together.
  7. Serves 4.

Do you have any favorite tuna recipes?  Please share a description or link in the comments!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Lunchspiration | Creative Lunch Ideas & #HarvestSnaps Giveaway

lunchspiration

It’s back-to-school time and my kids keep reminding me that brown-bagging can get a little boring! Turkey sandwiches, peanut butter sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs have been overdone at our house. OVER. DONE. Not only are my guys getting older and more adventurous in their tastes, I personally prefer my mid-day meal to be something anticipate with excitement rather than aversion

I have three quick and easy ways to give your lunch a lift plus a giveaway for a stash of a yummy and healthy snack food to take on the go – Harvest Snaps. Read on!

Lunchspiration - Leftovers

Leftover #Lunchspiration: While some detest a repeated, reheated performance of last night’s dinner, I live for leftovers – in fact, I often plan to make extra, just so I’ll have an encore!  Sometimes, I repurpose dinner leftovers into new creations such as transforming fajita beef strips into baked sweet potato toppings, putting pasta, rice or grain remnants into a soup or chopping up leftover veggies to eat cold in a salad. But, not trying to brag, some of my dinners are so yummy (like this broccolini and tenderloin) that the second showing is just as wonderful as the first!

salad lunchspiration

Salad #Lunchspiration:  I may single-handedly eat more salad than anyone on the planet. It’s not because I’m trying to diet — I’m just a lettuce lover!  The kids always want me to buy Iceberg or Romaine lettuce, but I’m a huge fan of the Baby Spring Mix which features an assortment of darker greens – those darker lettuces are much more nutrient rich. But, eating a pile of lettuce day-in and day-out can get dull as a doorknob so I mix it up with a variety of unexpected toppings including any type of fresh or dried fruit (apples, oranges, blueberries, strawberries peaches or bananas). I dare you to put a banana on your salad – do it! Other creative ideas are leftover proteins (even scrambled eggs!), crushed up chips or Harvest Snaps in lieu of croutons, pan grilled or crisped cheese, and out-of-the-box dressings such as Sriracha mixed in plain yogurt, peanut butter mixed in orange juice or even cold spaghetti sauce. Seriously.

healthy yogurt toppings

Yogurt #Lunchspiration:  Some might think that yogurt is only for breakfast or maybe a healthy dessert. But, I think it also makes a great start to any lunch – I use Greek yogurt because it’s packed with so much protein.  The richness and creaminess of Greek yogurt is something I don’t tire of quickly, especially when flavored with a few healthy toppings from a nearly endless array of options. Here are a few of my healthy yogurt toppings:

fruit and nut combo for yogurt

snap pea bento boSo, every lunch needs a little “crunch” for munching and Harvest Snaps is a favorite brand I like to feed my family. Harvest Snaps are gluten-free, baked (not fried), high in protein because they are made from lentils and peas, and have 40 percent less fat than a traditional potato chips. Oh, and did I mention that every one of the six flavors is delicious?! My current favorite flavor is a tie between the subtle Lightly Salted Snapea Crisps and bam-pow Wasabi Snapea Crisps. The other four and also yummy flavors are Black Pepper Snapeas,  Caesar Snapeas, Tomato Basil Lentil Crisps, and Onion Thyme Lentil Crisps.

bento box snapea

I have two ways for you to win – first you can win a BIG PRIZE directly from Harvest Snaps. How? Well, right now, head over to Harvest Snaps and play the really fun mix and match game where you “make” a bento box – then share your creation on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter for a chance to win one of three prizes for school valued at up to $1,000!

 

 

harvest snaps border

Second, you can enter my giveaway below to win one of three 6-pack assortments of Harvest Snap snacks that will come in really handy for packing those back-to-school or work-day lunches. Enter my giveaway in the Rafflecopter app below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by Calibee Harvest Snaps, however all opinions are my own.

Blueberry Snap Pea Salad & Blueberries for Dessert

blueberry chicken salad on mixed greens

You can’t beat a big salad for a beautiful, easy-breezy summer meal — and one topped with blueberries and sugar snap peas adds just the right sprinkling of sweetness along with a saturation of whole body wholesomeness.  My Mixed Greens Salad with Chicken, Blueberries & Snap Peas was inspired by the recipe for Creamy Blueberry Chicken Salad in the August 214 edition of Cooking Light magazine. Of course, I had to do my own spin based on the fresh ingredients in my fridge!

So, what’s so special about these salad toppings? Well, grilled chicken breast offers a great source of lean protein, I always try to get about 25 – 30 grams of protein per meal. Blueberries are loaded with a wide rand of antioxidants that help me stay healthy on the inside and out and, as with most berries, are relatively low on the glycemic scale compared to many fruits. If I’m not careful, I can eat the whole pint – I guess there are worse things that could happen. Now, sugar snap peas are a childhood favorite, my mom used to grown them in the garden. So crisp, refreshing and surprising low in calories (only 26 calories per cup!),  sugar snap pea are a great source of fiber, vitamin C and vitamin A.

salad with chicken breast, blueberry, red oinion

Mixed Greens Salad with Chicken, Blueberries & Snap Peas Recipe

  • 6 ounces baby spring lettuce mix
  • 1/2 cup thinly vertically sliced red onion
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil
  • 12 ounces shredded skinless, boneless poached or grilled chicken breast
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup favorite balsamic vinaigrette or Litehouse Food’s Huckleberry Vinaigrette

 To prepare, divide lettuce evenly among four plates. Top each plate with equal portion of onion, snap peas, basil, chicken breast and blueberries. Drizzle with salad dressing. Serves 4.

violet beauregarde Now, if you’re wondering what to eat for a dessert that won’t leave you feeling like Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, check out my delicious recipe for Blueberry Frozen Yothefitfork blueberry frozen yogurt 700!

 

 

For even more inspiration on how to make a healthy sweet treat from a batch of these popular summer berries (second choice only to strawberries), check out Cooking Light’s collection of Blueberry Desserts – you’ll find everything from blueberry cobbler to blueberry popsicles.

blueberry desserts

Eat More Fruits & Veggies | Confetti Lettuce Wraps #Recipe

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Hum along now. There’s fresh produce for shopping with vine-ripe goodness a popping, to nourish my family held dear. Yes, it’s the hap- happiest season of all, with foods so darn delicious and purposefully nutritious, for friends come over to call.  Okay, while I might not be a songwriter at heart, I certainly am a natural-born lover of warm weather and the wonderful bounty of byproducts the spring season brings – namely an abundance of fruits and vegetable, beautiful flowers and the invitation of mild mile upon mile on the running trails.

running through flowers

Today I’m so happy to share a trail running tempo run I created for CorePower.com (and awesome, high-protein recovery shake I frequently drink) and a rainbow-inspired dinner idea for Confetti Veggie, Fruit & Bean Lettuce Wraps – perfect for a  #MeatlessMonday!

Now, onto the food! I love this healthy recipe because it uses more fruits and vegetables that can be counted on two hands. Gobble up a few of these lettuce wraps for lunch or dinner and you’ll be well on your way (if not exceeding) daily consumption goals for fruits and vegetables. Did you know, according to the Center for Disease Control, only a third of American adults report eating two servings a fruit a day and less than 27 percent consumed three or more servings of veggies, the minimum recommended daily amount (RDA)?  Notice how I bolded the word minimum? That’s because the RDA sets forth only the lowest level of nutrients needed for the average, already healthy person to keep from becoming malnourished. The minimum.

fresh fruits and vegetables
Much more than the MINIMUM in this healthy salad recipe!

I truly believe we should all be eating more fruits and vegetables, as opposed to the minimum. I wrote a post for Living Litehouse about how, as Americans, we are blessed to live in a country with easy access to high-quality, fresh foods that are reasonably affordable in the scheme of things. If you don’t agree, put your Starbuck’s latte or iPhone down and think about it for a minute — I’m taking a soapbox stance here.

vintage fruit and vegetable poster
Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables!

I recently gave an affordable healthy cooking demonstration in a 300+ packed auditorium in the lower-income part of town. The participants were friendly, engaged and open to learning my healthy cooking tips. Many approached me afterward talking about the woes of chronic health conditions (created by being overweight). I got home and, at first, thought it unusual that I had about 250+ more “direct” referrals in my Google Analytics for the day – that is, until I realized that as I was on the stage, all these low-income people were hitting my blog from their smart phones.  This argument that eating healthfully is too expensive gets a reality check. Remember,  you don’t need to shop at Whole Foods (unless you have money to burn) to eat well. Put down the $6 fruit cup and buy a sale-priced 10-pound bulk bag of the grapefruit (or whatever) for half the price at the “regular” grocery store.

A recent Harvard study reports it only takes $1.50 per day to eat a “healthy” diet as opposed to the processed, packaged and convenience diet that has become a way of life for many – I’d even say it costs even less if you know how to shop sales. So, in the end – it’s a priority, do you want a data plan or to die? Okay, I know that’s a little extreme – but you know what I’m saying.

rainbow lettuce wraps

Confetti Veggie, Fruit & Bean Lettuce Wraps Recipe.

  • ½ cup seeded and diced cucumber
  • ½ cup grated carrots
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • ½ cup diced strawberries
  • ½ cup diced pineapple
  • ½ cup diced papaya
  • ½ cup diced mango
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans – drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp. diced fresh Jalapeno
  • 2 tbsp. green onions, sliced
  • 2 head washed and dried baby romaine lettuce leaves
  • 2 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 oz. snow pea shoots
  • 4 oz. Litehouse Food’s Huckleberry Vinaigrette* (extra  for dipping)

*You can use any “sweet-ish” vinaigrette you prefer like a poppy seed, honey Dijon, balsamic, etc.  I just love the Huckleberry Vinaigrette by Litehouse Foods because it is so fresh and flavorful, not too sweet – and has actual whole huckleberries in the bottle!

  1.  In large bowl, toss together cucumber, carrots, red onion, strawberries, pineapple, papaya, mango, black beans, cilantro, jalapeno and green onions.
  2. Stir in Huckleberry Vinaigrette (or dressing of choice) and allow mixture to sit for five minutes so herbs rehydrate.
  3. Add a spoonful of fruit and vegetable mixture to the center of lettuce leaf. Repeat for remaining lettuce leaves and mixture.
  4. Sprinkle feta cheese on top of mixture and garnish with snow pea shoots.
  5. Serve with additional Huckleberry Vinaigrette for dipping
rainbow confetti salad

Also makes a great topping for fish, pork and poultry!

 

Sunday Dinners | New Tradition with Salads & Skewers

Do you have any recollections of traditional Sunday dinners with grandparents, parents, siblings and other relatives all gathered around the table? When Foodie.com asked me to share a post on the topic, I knew it would be easy because I have lots of great memories.

When I was a young working adult and newly-married wife, my grandmother and aunt would host a Sunday dinner in the middle of the afternoon complete with huge roast, ham or turkey and smorgasbord of sides – plus there was always a super yummy dessert. This spread was cooked with so much care and attention, the frequent non-family guests would always think we were celebrating some sort of special occasion – and we were! The special occasion was the company of each other and reminiscing about our collective past and sharing dreams for the future – in addition, there were always plenty of funny jokes and good-natured ribbing to go around. An extra perk for me was to see the making of secret family recipes firsthand and to learn great food tips from these two fabulous home chefs in the family.

Classic #throwback scene from a Sunday dinner at grandparent's house.

Classic #throwback scene from a Sunday dinner at grandparent’s house.

My grandmother is long gone and I live in a different city from my aunt today. But, I am blessed to have parents now living nearby and three children of my own; that’s why we try to get together as often as possible to share meals – and happy news, hopeful plans and lots of hugs.  Often these meals don’t happen on Sunday and they are usually not as elaborate as the traditional meals prepared by the earlier mentioned matriarchs – but we are still together breaking bread and making memories. Sometimes we do pizza as a treat for the kids, but often I try to keep it healthy by putting quick and nutritious salads and grilled kebabs on the menu

In addition to making kebabs outdoors on the grill, whipping up a big entrée salad is one of my favorite Sunday dinner ideas – especially on those busy weekends that are packed full of sports, church and volunteer activities. A big salad, like my recipe for Speedy Salad Nicoise, come together in just a few minutes, especially if you have already pre-grilled or roasted your lean protein. That’s one of my favorite tips for a busy week – I’ll crockpot a big chuck roast or grill a huge tray of chicken breasts or salmon to eat throughout the week.  Add a rustic loaf of bread, some flavorful compound butter . . . . and uncork a bottle of wine (plus apple cider for the kids) and you have all the makings for a special meal that brings together those who are near and dear. Salad with olives tuna tomatoes green beans

Speedy Salad Nicoise Recipe
Serves:  4

  • 3/4 lb. trimmed green beans
  • 4 small red potatoes
  • 1 head of Bibb, Boston or artisanal Romaine lettuce
  • ½ pint halved red and yellow cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup drained Nicoise olives
  • 2 (4-oz) pouches drained premium albacore tuna steaks
  • 2 Tbsp. drained capers
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh chopped chives
  • 4 oz. Red Wine Olive Oil Vinaigrette
  1.  Add eggs to large pot of water and bring to a boil; allow to gently boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and cover for 10 minutes. Transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water. Drain, remove shells and let eggs cool. Slice or quarter eggs lengthwise; set aside.
  2. Add the green beans to pot of water and par-boil for 2 minutes. Lift out with tongs and rinse in colander with cold water.
  3. Return the water in pot to a boil, adding more water if needed. Add the potatoes and boil for 15 minutes or tender. Drain and transfer to a bowl to cool. Peel potatoes and quarter or cut in large chunks.
  4. On a large platter, arrange the lettuce, sliced eggs, green beans, potatoes, halved tomatoes, and olives. Drain tuna steaks from their packing liquid and place in center of salad; sprinkle with capers. Dust entire salad with parsley and chives. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Serves 4.
Tuna jar salad

Bottle up your leftovers in a jar for Monday lunch!

And, if you have leftovers you can bottle them up for lunch on Monday. Just pile everything in a Mason jar with the sturdiest ingredients on the bottom (including the dressing) and the most delicate on top. When hunger strikes, turn the jar upside down, give a few shakes and pour on a plate (or eat straight from the jar)!

I’d love to hear your favorite Sunday dinner memory or recipe, please share in the comments!

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