Monthly Archives: September 2012

A Yummy Sunday Lunch

A very fun weekend is coming to an end! The only thing that put a damper on my weekend was the NY Giants just losing to the Eagles, especially because my hubby is a gloating Philadelphia fan! I guess I can’t blame him though, I would certainly do the same if the Giants had pulled out a win. 😉

This afternoon we had a few special guests over for lunch – my girlfriend Angi, her hubby John, and their adorable 3-month old baby girl Zoie. I’ve talked about Angi on my blog before. She was one of the first women I met when I moved out to San Diego. I thought she was an awesome person within a few minutes of meeting her, and she’s been my close friend ever since. Last year her Marine hubby got stationed in Arizona, so now she doesn’t live quite as close. I haven’t seen her in awhile and miss hanging out with her, so it was nice to catch up a bit today and meet little Zoie!

Angi and me at her baby shower last April

A foodie like me loves having company over so I can entertain with new recipes. I had a bit of fun whipping up some lunch for us to enjoy:

The pretty fruit skewers were something I spotted on Pinterest recently. I cut strawberries, banana, and a peach into slices, and also added grapes and raspberries to the mix. I paired the fruit skewers with an easy, creamy yogurt fruit dip.

For the chips & salsa combo, I followed a spicy tomato salsa recipe I found from Giada De Laurentiis on Food Network.

Lastly, inspired by my recent Greek pizza, I came up with a recipe for Greek pasta salad that turned out pretty damn good.

The recipes for everything are below!

Yogurt & Cream Cheese Fruit Dip
Author: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 6 oz of light cream cheese
  • 6 oz of vanilla yogurt
  • 1½ TSP vanilla extract
  • 2 TBSP packed brown sugar
Instructions
  1. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese in a small bowl until smooth.
  2. Add the yogurt, sugar, and vanilla extract, and beat until combined.
  3. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving with your choice of fruit.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 TBSP Calories: 70, Fat: 3 g, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Protein: 2 g

Spicy Tomato Salsa
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 4 medium tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP orange juice
  • ½ TSP red pepper flakes
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Put tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, OJ, and pepper flakes in a food processor. Pulse for just a couple of seconds, until ingredients are combined by mixture is chunky.
  2. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Transfer to a bowl and serve with chips.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 75, Fat: 7 g, Carbohydrates: 4 g, Protein: 1 g

Greek Pasta Salad
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 8 oz rotini, or other short shaped pasta
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 Persian cucumber, peeled & diced
  • 3 oz crumbled feta cheese (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP lime juice
  • 2 TSP dried oregano
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions.
  2. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, garlic, and onion in a medium bowl.
  3. Add oregano, olive oil, and lime juice to the veggies.
  4. Once pasta is done cooking, drain it, then rinse under cold water to cool.
  5. Put pasta back into pot, then pour the veggie mixture on top.
  6. Add the feta cheese, season with salt & pepper, and toss well.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: about 2 cups, Calories: 255, Fat: 10 g, Carbohydrates: 35 g, Protein: 8 g

Pesto with a Twist

Happy Saturday! My morning was spent hiking with my hubby and dog; then my afternoon consisted of relaxing on the beach in Del Mar. It was a gorgeous day and I’m happy I got to spend most of it outside. Pretty nice weekend I’m having so far!

Moving onto food…

I’m not a huge pesto sauce fan. I don’t dislike it, but I don’t go crazy for it either. Yet for some reason this week I was in the mood to eat pasta with pesto. Sadly my basil plant is coming to an end (and I need to get another one very soon!), so during this week’s food store trip, I nabbed a big container of fresh basil.

While I wasn’t looking to change up a classic pesto sauce too much, I did want to try to decrease the amount of oil I used. As I peered around my kitchen, I spotted wine and thought This could be a good idea! And so, a pesto wine sauce was born:


Fettuccine with Pesto Wine Sauce
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 12 oz fettuccine
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 TBSP white wine
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 cups of packed basil
  • 2 cloves basil
  • ⅛ TSP pepper, plus more for sprinkling
  • ¼ TSP salt, plus more for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to directions.
  2. Meanwhile, combine basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until well combined.
  3. Gradually add parmesan cheese and wine, scraping the sauce from the sides of the processor. Pulse until everything is mixed together well.
  4. Once pasta is cooked al dente, drain and return back to pot.
  5. Add pesto to the fettuccine, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix together evenly, and enjoy while it's hot!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 3 oz pasta + ¼ sauce, Calories: 515, Fat: 22 g, Carbohydrates: 67 g Protein: 13 g

I’m off to spend the rest of my Saturday enjoying a glass of wine and a movie with my little family. Good night!

The Perfect 200 Calorie Pumpkin Pancake

When I found out last night via Twitter that yesterday was National Pancake Day, I knew I’d have to celebrate it a day late and whip some up for breakfast in the morning. After all, I love pancakes and celebrating any fun, silly holidays!

I know that some people don’t believe in counting calories. It”s all a matter of personal preference, but I like to know what the food I’m taking in consists of. Plus, I usually log all of my eats into MyFitnessPal, so it kind of forces me to know how many calories I’m eating whether I want to know or not (except when I eat meals out – in which case it sometimes is a guessing game!). I like to consistently eat healthy, but if I don’t keep myself aware of the calories I’m consuming, I tend to eat more than I need to. And that is no bueno, since it can only lead to feeling yucky and gaining weight. Food is supposed to make you feel nourished and fulfilled, not bloated and too full, am I right?!

With that being said, I typically like to keep my breakfast meals around 200 calories. When coming up with a pancake breakfast idea this morning, I wanted to be consistent with that. I was in the mood for pumpkin and had Laughing Cow cinnamon cream cheese wedges handy. Thus, my cinnamon pumpkin pancake recipe, or what I’m thinking of as my new favorite autumn-time pancake, was born:


Giant Cinnamon Pumpkin Pancake
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 2 TBSP pure pumpkin
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 TSP brown sugar
  • 1 packet of Stevia sweetener
  • ¼ TSP baking powder
  • ¼ TSP cinnamon
  • 1 wedge of Laughing Cow cinnamon cream cheese spread
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Dash of salt
Instructions
  1. Warm a medium pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, combine pumpkin, flour, almond milk, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.
  3. Pour batter onto pan to form one large pancake. Heat until lightly browned on both sides.
  4. Spread cinnamon cream cheese spread on top of pancake, then enjoy while it's warm!
Nutrition Information
Calories: 190, Fat: 7 g, Carbohydrates: 31 g, Protein: 8 g

I’m off to relax for the rest of my Friday night. Hope your weekend is off to a good start!

Veggie Scramble Burrito

Hi there!

Yesterday I snapped photos of every single thing I ate, but wound up feeling too exhausted last night to form coherent sentences in a blog post after my usual Wednesday activities – work, working out (pilates + a Jillian Michaels’ DVD that kicked my butt!), a long walk at the park with Harley, and volunteering at the Humane Society. So, my What-I-Ate-Wednesday post is coming at ya a day late! 😉

My breakfast was one of my usual yogurt & fruit combos. This time it was a Chobani Apple Cinnamon yogurt paired with a chopped apple sprinkled with cinnamon:

A few hours later, my stomach was grumbling so I noshed on a brownie & oats bar:

Yum, love these bars!

For lunch, I made a tofu scramble burrito. First, I put a serving of chopped tofu with salsa in a food processor and pulsed until well combined. Next, I sliced bell pepper and shiitake mushrooms….

…and then I combined the tofu mix with the veggies, and cooked the scramble in a skillet over medium heat with mixed up salt & pepper sprinkled on top:

While my tofu & veggies were cooking, I spread a Laughing Cow Queso Fresco & Chipotle wedge on a flour tortilla, and popped it in the microwave to warm. Once the veggies were softened, I removed my scramble from the skillet, placed it in my tortilla, and topped the whole thing with chopped avocado:

Here’s the exact recipe:

Veggie Scramble Burrito
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 1 flour tortilla
  • 3 oz extra firm tofu
  • 1 Laughing Cow Queso Fresco & Chipotle cheese wedge
  • ½ red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 oz avocado, chopped
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Cut up the tofu into chunks.
  2. Combine tofu and salsa in a food processor, and pulse until well combined.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.
  4. Meanwhile, chop bell pepper and mushrooms.
  5. Combine tofu mixture with the pepper and mushroom and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Cook in the skillet for around 5 minutes, or until veggies are tender.
  7. While the scramble is cooking, spread the Laughing Cow wedge onto the flour tortilla. Pop in the microwave or toaster until warmed.
  8. When tofu mixture is done cooking, place in the center of the tortilla. Top with avocado chunks, and roll into a burrito.
Notes
*There's no need to press the tofu beforehand. It'll seem a bit watery when you pulse it in the food processor, but the moisture will dissolve once you cook it in the skillet.*
Nutrition Information
Calories: 327, Fat: 15 g, Carbohydrates: 39 g, Protein: 16 g

For an early dinner before heading out to volunteer, I ate some brown rice with edamame:

I also had a nectarine with a few cashew pieces:

Lastly, my nighttime snack was a good one – mainly because it involved this deliciousness:

Dark chocolate combined with peanut butter = heaven.

I spread a bit of it on whole wheat toast and topped it with banana:

”One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”  -Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright

 

Celebrating Man & Woman’s Best Friend

Did you know that it’s National Dog Week?

2012 marks the 84th anniversary of this holiday. National Dog Week was founded by Captain William Judy, a dog judge and former publisher of Dog World Magazine.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge dog lover. I welcome any excuse to recognize all the wonderful canines out there who brighten the days of so many people like myself. Harley’s nuttiness makes me laugh every single day. But National Dog Week is more than that. The message it’s meant to convey is near and dear to my heart…

One main reason that National Dog Week was created was to raise awareness of what it means to be a well informed, responsible pet owner. This includes things like making sure your pet is up-to-date with their shots at the vet and being able to regularly exercise your dog.

As a volunteer at the Humane Society, I know all too well about people who mistreat their dogs. Just last week I came home from volunteering thinking about one dog in particular – an extremely sweet girl whose ears had been cut off and was found tied to the side of a building soon after giving birth. Quite frankly, I want to punch the person who did that in the face. I can’t even fathom treating a dog poorly, and unfortunately this isn’t a rare occurrence. This brings up another focus for National Dog Week: finding a good home for every dog. I think that a lot of people don’t realize what a commitment it is to have a dog, especially a puppy, and they get aggravated once they figure it out. This leads to some of the neglect dogs endure, whether intentional or not. But the fact is, it’s better to relinquish your dog if you can’t care for him/her properly. The animal lovers who work at shelters around the country will give stray dogs the best lives they can given the circumstances. Dogs are amazing creatures who deserve to be well-cared for, simple as that.

With that being said, I think National Dog Week honors not only all the great dogs out there, but all the people who take awesome care of them and allow their dogs to live their best lives. In celebration of this week, I say that all you canine owners should spoil your dogs a bit (as I know I will!). Get them a new treat or toy, take them to the park, get them groomed, or just give them extra love. After all, they are human’s best friend!

Quote of the week: ”If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” – Will Rogers

Loaded Veggie Fajitas

If you’d read my blog before, you know that I love to cook. Though my hubby is a meat-eater and I’m a vegetarian, I’m lucky to be married to a guy who is not a picky eater. However, the dinners I make with my Marine around can be pretty different from the ones I put together when I’m on my own.

You see, I can eat a nice salad or a simple dish of beans and brown rice for my evening meal and be content. For Adam, that’s not so much the case. He needs to eat a heavier dinner (and at least twice as much as me!), and so sometimes it can be a bit of a challenge to continuously come up with good dinner ideas that’ll work for both of us. I love my pasta and carbs, but I definitely shouldn’t make that for us every night, and he’s not at all into protein pancakes for dinner as I am. 😉

I have my staple dinner ideas that I know will always work for us, but since I get bored easily with eating the same things all the time, I’m constantly on the prowl for new dinner recipes. I like to do a combo of things – between flipping through my cookbooks and checking out recipes in magazines and online, to concocting dishes in my head as I walk through the grocery store (and sometimes when I’m laying in bed, working out or walking my dog!).

Last night’s dinner was a new meal: healthy veggie-loaded fajitas. Though I’ve made tacos and fajitas before, I had never made them quite like this. Both my hubby and I had happy, full bellies afterwards!


Loaded Veggie Fajitas
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3
 
Ingredients
  • 2 small red potatoes
  • ¼ red onion, minced
  • ½ green bell pepper, cut into slices
  • ½ red bell pepper, cut into slices
  • ½ large zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into thin slices
  • 1 TSP vegetable oil
  • 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 3 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • ½ TBSP dried thyme
  • ½ TSP salt
  • ¼ TSP pepper
  • ¼ TSP paprika
  • Flour tortillas & your toppings of choice: salsa, sour cream, cheese, guacamole, etc.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Bake the potatoes for 30 minutes. Remove and cut into thick slices. Note: Potatoes should not be completely cooked yet.
  3. Combine oil, lemon juice, white wine, basil, thyme, and paprika in a food processor. Pulse until well blended.
  4. Put sliced potatoes, peppers, onion, and zucchini a large bowl.
  5. Pour the marinade over the veggies, and toss to mix thoroughly.
  6. Arrange the veggies on a sprayed large baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.
  7. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned. Half way through the baking time, flip all the veggies over.
  8. Serve with all your favorite toppings and flour tortillas.
Notes
*These fajitas are highly customizable, so use GF corn tortillas to make em gluten free, or you can leave out the cheese or use vegan cheese to keep it dairy free. Whatever works for you!*
Nutrition Information
Serving size: for ⅓ of veggies: Calories: 130, Fat: 2 g, Carbohydrates: 25 g, Protein: 4 g

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone & Trying Out Tennis

 “Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.” – Louis E. Boone

When I was about 12 years old, I tried taking tennis lessons for one summer. I don’t think I was very good, and I hadn’t played since then…. until today.

My hubby had asked me a few times in the past couple of weeks if I wanted to take advantage of the multiple tennis courts in our community. He took my answer of, ”Yeah, sure, maybe…” as a go-ahead to come home with a new pink tennis racket for yours truly.

Note: My pink tennis racket is NOT a $600 Chanel one as pictured!

Oh crap. Now I actually have to play with him! I thought.

I guess I was a little hesitant about playing for fear of being completely horrible at it. But the truth is, I think I put myself out there pretty often in unfamiliar circumstances, so why would trying tennis be any different?

Putting any silly fear aside, this afternoon we ventured over to the tennis courts and engaged in an hour of poor form (at least on my part!) and totally not playing by the rules tennis. And you know what? I had a blast. I thought it was so fun that I suggested we could maybe make it a weekly exercise session, or at the very least, something we do again soon. I have a little (okay, a lot) to work on with my tennis skills, but in all honesty, I don’t really care if I was anyone’s entertainment for the day. I got a workout in while spending time with my hubby, being outside, and laughing my ass off all at once. Can’t really get much better than that in my opinion!

My tennis session brings up something I’ve talked about multiple times – having variety in my workouts. To me, switching up my exercise routine keeps things fun. Besides keeping you engaged, constantly switching up your workouts also keeps your body guessing. If you do the same exercises every single time you work out, your body adapts quickly, and then you stop seeing results. Whomp.

In the past week, here were the workouts I did:

Monday – the bike circuit routine I blogged about here

Tuesday – mountain biking

Wednesday – power yoga

Thursday – a circuit routine focusing on legs

Friday  – hiking

Saturday – active rest day (only light yoga, stretching, and a long walk with my pup)

Sunday – tennis playing!

So blog friends, in moving forward with your week and your life in general, why not get out of your normal routine and try something new? Life is too short to always be playing it safe, whether it be something smaller like trying out a new workout or type of cuisine, to something bigger, such as going on an adventurous vacation or experimenting with a totally new look. Just take a chance and do it, because in the words of Helen Keller, ”Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” What do you want your life to be? 

Homemade Pizza Night: Greek-Style

I love to bring along a lot of things to read to pass the time when I travel. Thanks to a readership program I began participating in a few years ago, I get a load of good magazines every month – from Cosmopolitan to Wine Enthusiast. When I went to Amsterdam a few weeks ago, one of the reads I brought with me was an issue of Islands magazine. I enjoy reading this magazine because A.) I love to rip out pages of places I want to go to one day, and B.) They publish a lot of articles that discuss culture and people from around the world, which I find really interesting.

In the Islands issue I read on one of my plane rides, I found one article particularly intriguing. It was about the Aegean Greek island of Ikaria, where people are four times more likely to reach the age of 90 than Americans. Per capita, the island has the world’s highest number of people over that age. What are some of the Ikarians’ secrets to leading longer lives with less instances of heart disease and cancer?

  • Get moving! The people on this island are constantly walking around their mountainous villages.
  • Consume wild greens – The island’s inhabitants eat a lot of veggies that they pick themselves. Thyme, mint, oregano, spinach, kale, chard… They grow it, they eat it.
  • Drink large quantities of red wine – Enough said, you don’t have to tell me twice. 🙂
  • Be a nap taker.
  • Feel a sense of belonging and have an easy sense of humor.

It seems to me that another reason why these islanders live so long is that they keep their anxiety levels at bay. The article notes that people don’t stress about being late, and they take their sweet time doing things (which, let’s be honest, may just be an elderly person trait in general!). What I took away from this article are things that seem like common sense for a long, happy life: not stressing out over trivial things, exercising, eating veggies, lots of laughter, wine and naps… CHECK! I’m certainly going to continue to do my best to live my life following all of these “‘rules.”

In line with this post’s theme of Greek awesomeness, tonight’s dinner was a Mediterranean homemade pizza! This was the gist of it:

I prepped green bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, spinach, red onion, and roasted red pepper:

I rolled my whole wheat pizza dough out:

Instead of using a red sauce, I put together a light dressing to coat the dough with to compliment my veggies:

Next, I brushed the dressing and evenly arranged the veggies and cheese onto the dough, then baked until lightly browned:

It was a healthy, delicious new pizza recipe that I’ll definitely be making again! You can find the full recipe below.


Greek-Style Pizza
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 whole wheat pizza dough (I use the Trader Joe's brand)
  • 6 oz Feta cheese crumbles, Mediterranean style
  • ½ green bell pepper
  • 2 cups raw spinach
  • ¼ red onion
  • 1 roasted red pepper
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • ½ TBSP red wine vinegar
  • ¼ TSP garlic powder
  • ½ TSP dried basil
  • ½ TSP oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Chop up the peppers, onion, and tomatoes into thin slices.
  3. Using a flour-dusted rolling pin, shape your dough into a large circle on a flour-dusted surface. Place in a pizza pan.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, garlic powder and basil.
  5. Lightly brush the dough with the olive oil mixture.
  6. Arrange all of the veggies onto the dough evenly.
  7. Sprinkle the cheese on top, and season with salt & pepper.
  8. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice, Calories: 195 calories, Fat: 7 g, Carbohydrates: 27 g, Protein: 9 g

 

Red Wine Portobello Calzones

Hi friends! It’s been another football filled Thursday night in my house, and my New York Giants just killed it and crushed the Panthers! 🙂

Before I get to food, here’s a cute puppy picture:

I spent some time with this 10-week old cutie volunteering last night at the Humane Society. I doubt I’ll ever see him again, as he’ll probably be adopted by the time I get back there next week. Such a sweetie!

The recipe I’m sharing with you tonight is adapted from the Skinny Bitch cookbook:  

Calzones remind me of my grandma’s house. Sometimes when I hung out there growing up, we used to order food from this local Italian joint, and I frequently would get a mozzarella & ricotta calzone. I first made this recipe when I had a craving for one of those calzones. They definitely satisfy a restaurant calzone yen, but include more veggies and leave out an excessive amount of calories!

Red Wine Portobello Mushroom Calzones
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 TBSP safflower oil
  • 2 large portobello mushroom caps, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ yellow onion, minced
  • 1 TBSP dried oregano
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 whole wheat pizza dough (I buy Trader Joe's)
  • 6 servings of fresh mozzarella, cut into bite sized chunks
  • ¼ TSP of each salt and pepper, or to taste
  • Flour for dusting
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.
  3. Add the garlic, onion, and portobello mushrooms and cook until veggies are tender, around 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes into the mix and season mixture with salt, pepper and oregano.
  5. Pour the wine into the saute pan, and bring to a boil. Let the mixture cook at a slow boil until it appears the liquid has reduced by half.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium-low and partially cover the pan. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Working on a flour-dusted surface with a rolling pin, roll out the pizza dough into 4 equally sized circles.
  8. Place dough on a large lightly greased baking sheet.
  9. Put a quarter of the veggie mixture on half of each crust. Evenly divide mozzarella among each dough.
  10. Fold the dough over to cover the filling and pinch the edges to seal.
  11. Cut a small incision on the top of each calzone to allow steam to escape.
  12. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
Notes
*I find it hard to seal the dough edges in a pretty manner, so don't worry if you can't get it to look perfect. It'll still taste great!*
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 calzone, Calories: 435, Fat: 17 g, Carbohydrates: 52 g, Protein: 21 g

Night!

Spicing Up Your Salads

*The recipe page has been updated!*

Earlier today I read an article regarding 2012 state obesity rankings (you can read it here). Not surprisingly, the rankings show that the states where people are eating their fruits and veggies have among the lowest rates of obesity. My current state of residency, California, ranks among the highest in fruit and veggie consumption. The study also found that states where people report engaging in the most physical activity also have the lowest obesity rankings. Cali is also listed as one of the highest in this category. However, the article notes that only about 1 in 4 adults in these top-ranked states are eating five daily servings of fruits and vegetables. I think it’s pretty sad that only 25% of people get the recommended servings of produce in a day, and that’s in states that have high fruit & veggie consumption! With that being said, let’s talk about fruits & veggies – salads more specifically.

Some people think salads are boring, but there are so many ways to jazz them up. I’m constantly coming up with different salad combos, from what I deemed my summertime salad to watermelon, feta & arugula salad. Here are some of the foods I tend to include in the mix most often:

Veggies

  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Romaine
  • Bell pepper
Fruits
  •  Strawberries
  • Apple
  • Tomato
  • Dried fruit: dates, figs and peaches
Nuts
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Pine nuts
  • Walnuts
Cheese
  • Mozzarella
  • Cheddar
  • Feta
  • Goat cheese
In the past few days, I’ve eaten a few salads that seem a bit fancy but were so easy to put together. If you’re looking to change up your same old salad combo or to add some produce into your diet, try one of the below recipes or get creative with your own mix!
Romaine & Artichoke Salad with Avocado Dressing
  • 1/2 romaine heart, chopped
  • 1 oz avocado
  • 1/4 cup artichoke hearts, sliced
  • 1/2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 Roma tomato, sliced
  • 1 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • Garlic powder, salt, & pepper to taste

In a salad bowl, combine romaine, artichoke, tomato and feta cheese.

Mash avocado in a small bowl. Whisk in red wine vinegar and olive oil.

Add seasonings to the avocado dressing, then pour onto salad.

Stats: 315 calories, 22 g fat, 12 g protein, 29 g carbs
Baked Goat Cheese & Cranberry Salad
  • 1 romaine heart, chopped
  • 1-1 oz goat cheese medallion
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Brush 1 TSP of the olive oil onto the goat cheese medallion, then roll it in the breadcrumbs.

Place the goat cheese on a lightly sprayed baking sheet. Bake for 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling.

Meanwhile, combine the romaine and cranberries in a salad bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk the remaining olive oil and balsamic vinegar together. Sprinkle sea salt into the mix, then pour over salad.

Once goat cheese is done baking, add it to bowl to complete your salad.

Nutrition stats: 390 calories, 22 g fat, 7 g protein, 43 g carbs