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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Clean Fuel for Dirty Training + Vega Giveaway and Protein Cake Recipe

For most people, life winds down to a slower pace in the summer, but not me!  Both my work and workout schedules have been in beast mode with several back-to-back business trips and lots of Spartan Race training (dirty training!) to nail a big race goal next weekend.  These mental and physical stressors, along with the fact that my three teen boys are all home for the summer and their junk foods is laying around everywhere, should be tempting me to just chill out on the couch with a bag of chips – but I’m staying strong!

Slack Line Practice

But, thanks to Vega® Clean Protein and Vega® Clean Energy (sent for me to test out as part of a Vega campaign), I’ve been able to avoid these temptations and stay in tip-top shape to tackle the obstacles that have literally and figuratively been thrown in my path lately. I don’t always eat vegan, but it’s a nice option to rotate through my diet for variety – and both these new, premium plant-based products from Vega make it easy for me to fuel up and train clean.

Vega Clean Protein and Energy

In addition to being Vegan Certified, Vega® Clean Protein and Vega® Clean Energy are both Non-GMO Project verified, gluten-free, made without dairy or soy, and contain no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners.

To be honest, I’ve gagged on some other brands of plant-based protein – even hidden in blended smoothies. But the Vega® Clean Protein is delicious just shaken up with ice in a shaker bottle – that makes post-workout recovery a snap!  Both the Chocolate and Vanilla flavors are a blend of pea, hemp, alfalfa and pumpkin proteins that boasts 25 grams of protein with only 1 gram of sugar – plus it’s got the full chain of amino acids, 4BCAAs, glutamine and also takes care of 20% of your daily iron intake needs. All of this for just 130 calories.

Vegan Chocolate Orange Protein Cake

If also the Vega® Clean Protein used it to make this awesome single-serve Orange Chocolate Protein Cake for a clean dessert, bedtime snack or quick breakfast – it just takes 90 seconds! It’s vegan, non-dairy, gluten-free and lower carb!

Vega Chocolate Orange Protein Cake makes a great post-workout snack, quick breakfast or better bedtime snack.

Instructions: In large mug or small microwave-safe bowl, mix together 2/3 scoop Vega® Chocolate Clean Protein, 1 tablespoon gluten-free baking mix, 1 tablespoon gluten-free, oats, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons orange zest, and 1/3 cup almond milk. Microwave for 60 to 90 seconds until set. Remove and sprinkle with dairy-free chocolate chips, if desired.

Vega Clean Energy

On those days when I’m dragging and need a little sumptin-sumptin before a workout, Vega® Clean Energy comes to the rescue. Taken 20 minutes before a run or workout, it’ gears me up for great things thanks to electrolytes, naturally-occurring caffeine from black and green tea and quality carbs to rev the kick start the ole engine with some quick-sourced energy.  It comes in two flavors – Berry and citrus tea!

Aside from these certified vegan sports nutrition products, I’ve been getting lots of great virtual support from Vega on their FuelYourBetter.com page. You should check it out too, it’s loaded with training tips, nutritional articles, and fit-focused recipes that will help you attain all your fitness goals – be those in running, triathlon, Crossfit, weight-lifting, yoga, obstacle course racing, paddle boarding, parkour, rock climbing, team sports or attaining all-around general fitness and shaping up for summer! #FuelYourBetter

vega fueledBeing the Instagram junkie that I am (follow me @thefitfork) I also like to stalk Vega’s new @VegaFueled Instagram page.  You’ll easily agree that it’s an inspiring page featuring real world people that will make you want to get moving too! Follow @VegaFueled  and tag your own photos with #vegafueled and #FuelYourBetter and you may be featured within the Vega community!

In fact, you can  enter for a chance to win a Vega Clean Prize Pack that includes 1 tub Vega Clean Protein, 1 Tub of Vega Clean Energy and a Vega Shaker Cup.  All you need to do is follow me at @thefitfork and the @VegaFueled Instagram Account and post a workout / fitness photo hash tagged #VegaFueled, #FuelYourBetter and #thefitfork.  I’ll randomly pick one winner on 6/30/2016 — No PO #s US/CAN Only.

vega run

Try out Vega for yourself! Use discount code VegaFit at the Vega Store and save 20% off and free shipping – one use per customer and valid until 6/30/2016.  SHOP VEGA HERE!

What are you training for? How are you fueling? Have you ever tried a slack line? Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of White Wave. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

4 Ways to Eat a Black Bean Burger #OMGardein + Giveaway


Chipotle Black Bean Burger with Southwestern Zoodles
Black bean burgers are the bomb! Especially the Chipotle Black Bean Burgers from Gardein, with their spicy, smoky southwest flavor. I could think of a million ways to serve these plant-based patties and today I’m sharing 4 Ways to Eat a Black Bean Burger. Since these alternative burgers come four to a pouch,  you can enjoy something different with each one! And, the patties cook straight from frozen in minutes, so even on the busiest nights, you’ll can eat a healthy dinner at home instead of heading to the drive-through. Keep reading to get the recipes and to enter my giveaway for a $25 Visa Gift Card so that you can buy and try Gardein for yourself — plus there’s a $1 off coupon for everyone!

4 Ways to Eat a Black Bean Burger - make your next meal easy and healthy thanks to these plant-based patties from Gardein. #spon

I’ve always found meatless products from Gardein to be a quick and convenient way to create a plant-based meal, especially as a busy home cook who doesn’t have tons time to fuss with finding quality and adequate sources of plant-based protein – I can count on Gardein to help me out with this.

Chipotle Black Bean BurgerJust so you know, I am an eater of chicken, beef, seafood in addition to lots of plant-based proteins – I crave variety in my diet! Variety in colors, flavors and types of foods – I think it’s one of the best ways to ensure that I’m treating myself to a wholesome abundance of nutrients. Covering all the bases for my body, so to speak!

Making a meal featuring plant-based proteins is something that happens a couple times a week at my house – but when we have vegetarian and vegan relatives visiting, it’s more frequent.

Gardein products are good for your body, made with non-GMO soy and wheat, ancient grains and veggies. You get the taste, texture and protein content of meat for typically less fat, less calories and no cholesterol. And, Gardein products are all vegan and kosher.

Chipotle Black Bean & Spicy Zoodles Burger (pictured above)

Prepare black bean burger according to preferred method on package. Use spiralizer to cut ½ zucchini. Season with salt, chili pepper and cumin; steam in microwave-safe dish for approximately 1 minute or until tender but not mushy. Add prepared zoodles and patty to bun and add condiments of choice. Serves 1.

Chipotle Black Bean Burger with Southwestern Mushroom-Squash TossChipotle Bean Burger & Southwestern Mushroom-Squash Toss

  • 2 Chipotle Black Bean Burger Patties
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium summer squash or zucchini, spiralized or julienned
  • ½ pint button mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ teaspoon each: salt, cumin, chili powder

Prepare black bean burgers according to preferred method on package. In medium skillet, add olive oil and bring to medium heat. Sauté squash, mushrooms and tomatoes for approximately 2 minutes, or until softened, but not mushy. Season with salt, cumin and chili powder. Divide veggies among two bowls and top each with a patty. Serves 2.

 Black Bean Burger, Hummus and Spinach Stack - GardeinChipotle Black Bean Burger, White Hummus & Spinach Stack

  • 1 Chipotle Black Bean Burger Patty
  • ¼ cup packaged white bean hummus
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup packed fresh baby spinach
  • Garnish: pine nut relish from top of hummus or chopped nuts of choice

Prepare black bean burger according to preferred method on package. In small skillet, heat olive oil and sauté garlic and spinach for 1 to 2 minutes or until wilted. Top patty with hummus and spinach. Add garnish. Serves 1.

Gardein Black Bean Taco Bake for One Chipotle Black Bean Taco Bake for One

  • 1 Chipotle Black Bean Burger Patty
  • 2 tablespoons frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons salsa
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tomato
  • ¼ cup crushed tortilla chips
  • 1 ounce cheddar cheese
  • Garnish with sour cream or Greek yogurt, if desired

Prepare black bean burger according to preferred method on package. Break cooked patty into small pieces. In small baking dish or large ramekin, toss together cooked burger pieces, corn, salsa and tomato until combined. Stir in crushed tortilla chips. Top with cheddar cheese and broil for 2 to 3 minute or until warmed through and cheese bubbling on top. Serves 1.

Gardein Meatless Pepperoni Pizza Pocket

I also love the Gardein Meatless Pepperoni Pizza Pocket (a new product) that is perfect for my lunch-on-the-go or those busy weeknights when kids have overlapping sports practices and I am literally feeding them in the car.  I really appreciate how easy they are to make (kids can do them in the toaster oven) and they have 42% less fat than traditional pizza pockets.

You need to try these products for yourself  — help keep life quick, easy and healthy! Head over to Gardein and get a $1 coupon now until May 31, 2016!! #OMGardein

Win a $25 Visa Gift Card at TheFitFork.comEnter my giveaway for a $25 Visa Gift Card so that you can buy Gardein and some fresh produce to make a healthy, plant-based dinner on me! Follow the Rafflecopter instuctions below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Paleo Carrot Ginger Gazpacho – Some Bunny Loves You

Lemony Carrot Ginger Gazpacho is perfect for light lunches, Easter brunches and as a prelude to your spring entree. Paleo, sugar free, raw, vegan and vegetarian friendly.Each time I enjoy my recipe for Lemony Carrot Ginger Gazpacho, I want to kick off my sandals and run through the green lawn shouting “whoohoo!”  That’s because this light and lovely chilled soup captures the essence of spring, and I live for the spring . . . and summer.  Warmer weather calls for cooler food and this chilled soup is a twist on gazpacho, a classic Spanish recipe. For my version, I’ve added carrots, ginger and a coconut water base to help with hydration.  Perfect for a light lunch, Easter brunch or way to start your pool-side dinner – save a few cucumber slices for your eyes so you can feel like a pampered spa guest.

Lemony Carrot Ginger Gazpacho is perfect for light lunches, Easter brunches and as a prelude to your spring entree. Paleo, sugar free, raw, vegan and vegetarian friendly.

 

Benefits of Ginger - TheFitFork.comWhen I serve this Lemony Carrot Ginger Gazpacho to my family, I smile and say “some bunny loves you!”  That’s because I know how much wholesome, healthy nutrition in packed into each spoonful  of this chilled soup– loads of lycopene, vitamin K, potassium and dietary fiber to mention a few benefits.  Plus, you get all the healing benefits of ginger – it helps tame digestive issues, reduces inflammation, boosts the immune system. Plus, I personally adore the zingy taste – you can add more or less fresh ginger depending on your preference.

To optimize taste and health benefits, please use fresh ginger and not ground ginger, bottled minced ginger or ginger paste.  A little knobby length of ginger will stay fresh in your produce bin for a couple months and if you have the right grater, it’s easy and mess-free to get what you need.  Not trying to sound infomercial-y, but this Dual Gage Grater is a must-have for ginger, garlic, turmeric, citrus zest, hard cheeses and such it’s only $3! The two sides each have a different grate size and the “V” shape catches all the teeny-tiny shavings so they don’t fall all over the counter or plate – you simply tip over into the bowl and scrape off.  Plus, after you rinse off and dry, it slides back into itself for easy storage.

Lemony Carrot Ginger Gazpacho is perfect for light lunches, Easter brunches and as a prelude to your spring entree. Paleo, sugar free, raw, vegan and vegetarian friendly.

Paleo Carrot Ginger Gazpacho -  Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, raw, sugar-free, gluten-free and more. Also, if you’re a meal-prepper, this soup that doesn’t’ need to be reheated makes a nice alternative to the standard make-ahead fare for grab-and-go healthy lunches and quick dinnersThis recipe works for many diet types including Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, raw, sugar-free, gluten-free and more. Also, if you’re a meal-prepper, this soup that doesn’t’ need to be reheated makes a nice alternative to the standard make-ahead fare for grab-and-go healthy lunches and quick dinners. Keep refrigerated in tightly sealed mason jars or plastic containers for up to five days and transfer to a lunch box with ice-pack. Enjoy. Linking up with The Fit Foodie Mama and Running on Happy – please check out!

Are you a gazpacho fan? Do you prefer warm weather or hot?  Did you run a race this weekend or have a competition? Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer

 

Lemony Carrot Ginger Gazpacho is perfect for light lunches, Easter brunches and as a prelude to your spring entree. Paleo, sugar free, raw, vegan and vegetarian friendly.
Lemony Carrot Ginger Gazpacho -- Paleo
Print Recipe
This chilled soup is a light and lovely prelude to any spring meal -- Paleo, sugar-free, vegan, vegetarian, raw and low-sodium.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Passive Time
2 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Passive Time
2 hours
Lemony Carrot Ginger Gazpacho is perfect for light lunches, Easter brunches and as a prelude to your spring entree. Paleo, sugar free, raw, vegan and vegetarian friendly.
Lemony Carrot Ginger Gazpacho -- Paleo
Print Recipe
This chilled soup is a light and lovely prelude to any spring meal -- Paleo, sugar-free, vegan, vegetarian, raw and low-sodium.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Passive Time
2 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Passive Time
2 hours
Instructions
  1. Add sliced carrots to microwave-safe dish and add ½-inch water to bottom. Top with lid and microwave for approximately 3 minutes or until steamed and tender, but not mushy. Remove from microwave and add to colander, rinsing with cold water. .
  2. Add carrots, cucumber, tomatoes with juice, onion, ginger, vinegar, lemon zest and lemon juice to blender. Pour coconut water on top and process until smooth, adding more coconut water if needed (or sub water, if can empty).
  3. Can serve at room temperature, but tastes better if chilled for several hours prior. Garnish with additional lemon zest, snipped mint and unsweetened shredded coconut.
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Lean & Green Edamame Spaghetti with Kumquats – Protein Pasta

Edamame Spaghetti with Kumquats and Feta, a higher protein and gluten-free option for dinner!

So, how does a plate of pasta fit in with my higher protein diet? Let me tell you! As many of you know, I’ve been eating a higher protein diet for the last several years and really scaled back the amount of carbs that come in the form of bread, baked goods, rice . . . and pasta! You may have read one or two of my posts on the importance of protein, there have been many!

Jennifer Fisher Yoga Side Plank

A higher protein diet helps me stay lean and mean for running, Crossfit, yoga and all my other fitness endeavors. Oh yeah, and for LIFE — that especially!

As a long-time athlete, I decided it was time to take a closer look at what I’ve been eating and how wit as or was not fueling my goals. While carbs have their time and place on my plate (like leading up to and during an endurance event and, of course, pretty much any and all vegetables whenever I want), kicking up my protein intake has really helped me build some much-needed muscle I need to stay competitive as I creep up into the shadows of being 49 years old!

Explore Asian Organic, Gluten Free Pastas

So, until I recently found the Explore Asian line of higher-protein pastas, I had been eating my beef ragu on top of zucchini, my stir-fry on top of spinach and my chicken noodle soup without, err, noodles – you get the idea! As much as I love the extra servings of veggies, sometimes it’s nice and comforting to have pasta to twirl around on your fork or slurp from a spoon. Explore Asian has given me back pasta options – and options that are ridiculously healthy and can be quickly cooked into a nutritious meal that fills me up and helps me stay lean and strong. I’m winning already!

Explore Asian Organic, Gluten Free Pastas

All in all there are five flavors, but I especially love these three Explore Asian products- Black Bean Spaghetti, Edamame Spaghetti and Thai Brown Rice Noodles. Every batch is made with the finest, organic NON-GMO ingredients that are also vegan, gluten free, organic, Kosher certified and come in low on the Glycemic Index (around 20).  Additionally, Explore Asian has about 400% more protein and fiber and 60% fewer carbs than other pasta making them a great option for diabetics, vegetarians or those following a low-carb, high-protein diet!

Edamame Spaghetti with Kumquats and Feta makes a high-protein vegetarian meal.

I’m sharing a yummy, easy “pasta” recipe (Edamame Spaghetti with Kumquats) using the Edamame Spaghetti from Explore Asian the pasta, coming straight out of the bag, is simply made from edamame beans and water, that’s it!  One serving of this bean-based pasta offers 24g of protein in a 2 ounce dry serving – this is pretty much spot on with the recommended 25 – 30g recommended per meal. You don’t really need to add any additional protein, but I threw on a few extra edamame beans to get to the upper range and flavored it up with some zesty kumquats and feta cheese.

Explore Asian Edamame Spaghetti with Kumquats and Feta

The pasta is so easy to boil up too! It basically cannot be overcooked and the fiber content from the beans offers a great texture that keeps this pasta in a constant state of just-right al dente! This means the pasta products will work well in a crock pot and left overs hold up beautifully for reheating the next day! Check out this other recipe I made earlier in the year with the Black Bean Spaghetti — Black Garlic & Steak Curry!

Black Garlic Beef and Bean Curry

You can find Explore Asian gluten-free pastas at Whole Foods, Costco and Fairway stores as well as at http://www.explore-asian.com/.  Costco is now even selling the Edamame Spaghetti in 2lb boxes!

Use the STORE LOCATOR to find the retailer closest to you.

Try this gluten-free, organic, high-protein pasta out for yourself! If you do, take a picture of your recipe using Explore Asian products and enter for a chance to win a $100 gift card to Whole Foods.  Head over to the recipe database for inspiration, get cooking, and then send a photo of your finished dish to info@explore-asian.com no later than December 24, 2015.

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Explore Asian.

 

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Edamame Spaghetti with Kumquats and Feta makes a high-protein vegetarian meal.
Edamame Spaghetti with Kumquats and Feta
Print Recipe
Make a quick and healthy dinner of edamame pasta tossed with feta and kumquats - this gluten-free, high-protein spaghetti is perfect fuel for the athlete.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
8 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
8 minutes
Edamame Spaghetti with Kumquats and Feta makes a high-protein vegetarian meal.
Edamame Spaghetti with Kumquats and Feta
Print Recipe
Make a quick and healthy dinner of edamame pasta tossed with feta and kumquats - this gluten-free, high-protein spaghetti is perfect fuel for the athlete.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
8 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
8 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Prepare pasta according to package instructions. Drain and return to pot.
  2. In small bowl, whisk together orange juice, soy sauce, Srirracha, and olive oil.
  3. Put edamame beans, chopped kumquats and sauce into pot with drained pasta and toss until everything coated.
  4. Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve.
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Fall Veggie Chick’n Curry in a Hurry! #OMGardein

We are getting a cold front this weekend – the temps will only be reaching 89 F degrees with lows dipping into the 60s! That’s hardly sweater season, but I’ll take – especially after enduring a summer of running in an inferno. I can also tell that fall is on its way, the days are getting shorter and there’s that beautiful amber glint in the sky starting mid-afternoons. This gets me in the mood for a warm and nourishing plate of goodness (using Gardein products), something other than the no-cook entrée salads I’ve been eating for months.

Fall Veggie Curry with Gardein Chick'n Strips

Fresh fall produce, like sweet potatoes and cauliflower, come together beautifully in my Fall Vegetable Chick’n Curry. It’s a pot of soul-satisfying, exotically spiced food that will fuel any active lifestyle – just enough healthy carbs for quick energy and plenty of plant-based protein for muscle management thanks to Gardein Teriyaki Chick’n Strips. Whole grains, legumes and well-seasoned veggies round out the easy meal to add fiber and other essential nutrients, not to mention add tons of flavor and texture.

Ingredients for Fall Veggie curry

If you’re not familiar with the Gardein (garden + protein, get it?!) you need to be! It’s no secret I’m a meat-eater — I’m a grilling instructor, certified BBQ judge and elite running team member sponsored by BEEF. That being said, I’m all for variety in a healthy diet (I eat it all) and the products from Gardein are versatile, convenient and tasty way to get adequate protein when I’m preparing a vegetarian or Meatless Monday meal – which I eat at least once a week.

Fall Veggie Curry with Gardein Chick'n

Gardein makes over 20 plant-based protein products including these favorites — Gardein BBQ porkless pocket meal, Gardein The Ultimate Beefless Ground, Gardein Golden Fishless Filets, Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders and Gardein Teriyaki Chick’n Strips (used in my recipe today). Found in the frozen foods  aisle of your market,  Gardein products cook from frozen making them an ideal meal starter for those crazy, busy nights when you can’t get something going all the way from scratch or are too worn out to figure out if your vegetarian or vegan meal is packing enough protein. Gardein’s award winning products are made from non-GMO soy and wheat, ancient grains and veggies and offer a similar taste and texture to traditional meat with a bit fewer calories, cholesterol and fat.

Fall Veggie Chick’n Curry Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 package Teryaki Chick’n Strips from Gardein
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/3″ cubes
  • 1/2 yellow onion coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup halved Brussels sprouts
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-oz can fire-roasted tomatoes with juice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Serve with prepared rice.
  1. Heat oil 1 tablespoon of oil and cook Chick’n Strips according to package instructions, but don’t add sauce packet yet.  Remove cooked strips from skillet.
  2. Add remaining olive oil to same skilled and brown sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onions and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add broth, sauce packet (that came with  Chick’n Strips), chickpeas, tomatoes and spices to skillet and let simmer for approximately 10 minutes, until everything warmed and juices reduced a bit.
  4. Add cooked Chick’n back to mixture, stir. Serve over warm rice and sprinkle with cashews and cilantro.
  5. Serves 4.

For additional information, easy dinner solutions, and chef inspired recipes, visit Gardien – you can also get a $1 off coupon until October 9th, 2015.

If you’re NOT a vegan or vegetarian, how many times a week do you go meatless? What is your favorite dish? Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer 

Balsamic Grilled Vegetable Salad & Grilling Produce Tips

Take advantage of the summer's best produce with this Balsamic Grilled Vegetable Salad -- and check out the grilling tips.This coming weekend, I’m teaching 200 carnivores how to grill vegetable side dishes to go along with their beef. It’s hard to upstage a delicious, juicy flat iron steak — but I think a couple of my recipes can come close — especially this Balsamic  Grilled Vegetable Salad!

Five Tips for Grilling Vegetables this Summer

Grilled vegetables is super easy, and in the heat of the summer — there is no need to also turn on an oven or stove if the grill is already going. At BeefLovingTexans.com, I’m sharing Five Tips for Grilling Vegetables – go check that out! Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this delicious, easy grilled vegetable salad that is the perfect way to take advantage of your favorite fresh seasonal vegetables — feel free to swap in the veggies you love.  It’s also a great dish for my Paleo diet and low-carb peeps.

And, if you have any leftovers, these vegetables are so good in a sandwich! Or in an egg scramble, or on a pizza, or tossed with pasta.

Balsamic Grilled Veggie Sandwich

What is your favorite vegetable (or fruit) to toss on the grill? Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer

 

 

 

 

Balsamic Grilled Vegetable Salad
Print Recipe
Grilling vegetables is a great way to add a hint of smoky goodness and flavor to the summer season's best vegetables. The leftovers for this grilled salad can be used on pizzas, pastas and sammies.
Servings Prep Time
4 - 6 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
8 minutes 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 - 6 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
8 minutes 30 minutes
Balsamic Grilled Vegetable Salad
Print Recipe
Grilling vegetables is a great way to add a hint of smoky goodness and flavor to the summer season's best vegetables. The leftovers for this grilled salad can be used on pizzas, pastas and sammies.
Servings Prep Time
4 - 6 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
8 minutes 30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 - 6 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
8 minutes 30 minutes
Instructions
  1. In small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, oil, parsley, basil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Place veggies in large zip-top bag and add balsamic mixture; close bag and turn a few times to coat contents. Let marinate at room temperature for approximately 30 minutes.
  2. Skewer together mushrooms. Coat grates with oil and heat grill to medium-high — approximately 400 F degrees.
  3. Drain balsamic marinade off vegetables and reserve (never reserve marinade on raw meat, but on vegetables it is fine)
  4. Grill veggies for 6 to 8 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. Vegetables will be done when they are becoming tender (a little “crunch” is desired and have golden brown grate marks. Let vegetables cool on cutting board for several minutes and then cut down into bite sized pieces.
  5. In small sauce pan, bring balsamic mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, let simmer for a couple minutes to reduce a volume a bit.
  6. Add spinach to serving platter and top with grilled vegetables and balsamic dressing (made from the marinade). Toss with tongs and serve warm — or make the vegetables in advance, chill and serve as a cold salad
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Watermelon Cherry Cake with Choco Coconut Cream

Make summer holidays and warm-weather birthdays super sweet and healthy with a fruit-bedecked watermelon cake.

I love having my birthday the day before America’s – it makes me feel super patriotic and sparkly and sunshine summery. I’m usually celebrating at the lake, the river or beach along alongside a sea of other 4th of July weekend revelers who are unwittingly my party guests – the more the merrier!  One of the most memorable birthdays ever was on my 14th  year when a full orchestra of Culver Military Academy hunks stopped their steamboat by the dock and played “Happy Birthday” and shot off fireworks just for me, I was giddy and giggly for days. The girlfriend I was visiting with had the best grandma ever for pulling off that swoon-worthy surprise!

Jennifer Fisher Austin Runner and Fitness Enthusiast - TheFitFork.com

Celebrating my birthday early with family at the lake.

Please, no gifts -- unless it's a watermelon!

Please, no gifts — unless it’s a watermelon!

There are so many great things about having a 3rd of July summer birthday – I can wear my favorite sundress and sandals or better yet, a just bathing suit and barefoot. I can float around on the river all day and stay late at the country dance boot-scootin’ and catching fireflies, no worries about getting up early the next day – it’s a holiday, y’all! Sometimes, I am lucky enough to celebrate with my Aunt and Sister-in-Law who both have birthdays during the same week. If we happen to stay in town, my birthday weekend always includes running the Freedom 5k with family and good friends– a race that features watermelon at the finish line.

So YOU are invited to my birthday this year, can you come? There will be lots and lots of fun along with my favorite foods, especially watermelon. The dress code is casual and there’s no need to bring a gift. .. err, unless you want to wrap up a watermelon.

Watermelon Cherry Cake with Choco Coco Cream is a light summery dessert that is dairy-free, raw,  paleo and vegan.

Wow your party guests with a fruit festooned watermelon cake!The cake will be a fruit, fun and fabulously fit dessert – Watermelon Cherry Cake with Choco-Coco Cream! You may have seen these “cakes” that feature a big hunk of watermelon as the base instead of traditional spongy, sweet cake. In honor of my favorite seasonal flavors, my cake is piled high with ripe red cherries and topped with and alternative chocolate cream made frm whipped full-fat coconut milk to keep it paleo-ish, raw and dairy-free.  Don’t miss the easy recipe at the end of this post. Even a huge slice is a light way to end my favorite birthday bash meal of flame-kissed burgers and avocado, black bean and corn salad.   

Enjoy a Watermelon Caipirinhas, a summery cocktail for your next outdoor party.Our beverages will also be watermelon inspired — Watermelon Caipirinhas! But I’ll lighten up this boozy Brazilian drink with just a half shot of cachaça because I’m a certified lightweight! Kids will keep cool with my drinking my Watermelon Coconut Cherry Sippers – tasty, healthy and hydrating! I think I’ll have one of these too!

watermelon cake collageCheck out the other delicious watermelon cakes and desserts at Watermelon.org and follow my Living on the Wedge Watermelon board on Pinterest for lots of great watermelon recipes and ideas.

 

 

 

 

What are you doing this weekend to celebrate?  Will you have watermelon? Share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

The post is sponsored by the National Watermelon Promotion Board. However, the opinions and content (unless otherwise noted) shared are my own and NWPB did not tell me what to say or how to say it.

Make summer holidays and warm-weather birthdays super sweet and healthy with a fruit-bedecked watermelon cake.
Cherry Chocolate Watermelon Cake
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
12 servings 30 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 servings 30 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Make summer holidays and warm-weather birthdays super sweet and healthy with a fruit-bedecked watermelon cake.
Cherry Chocolate Watermelon Cake
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
12 servings 30 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 servings 30 minutes
Cook Time
0 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Cut ends off watermelon so that it sits flat on platter, reserve ends for use later. Continue to cut rind off, starting at top of watermelon “cylinder” going downward.
  2. Chill mixer bowl in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Add heavy cream and whip with whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Whip in cocoa powder and stevia (may substitute ¼ powdered sugar, if desired).
  3. Cut stems off cherries, leaving a 1/3” stub to secure into watermelon. If cherry is missing its stem, use a toothpick to secure. Start at bottom and work around watermelon going upward until entire sides are covered.
  4. Pour chilled coconut milk into cold mixer bowl, beat with cold mixer paddles for 30 seconds. Add cocoa and stevia, beat and additional minute or until incorporated and creamy.
  5. Pile up whipped coconut cream on top of cake. Use melon baller to scoop out watermelon balls from ends.
  6. Decorate top with watermelon balls, cherries and mint. Use store-bought or homemade chocolate curls (or mini chocolate chips) as the chocolate garnish.
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