Mild Guacamole and a Southwest Babe Bowl

img_1757Cook’s notes: Sometimes guacamole with a lot of garlic and jalapeno is tough to digest. Lime juice is more authentic, but we only had lemon juice, and it still turned out well. This perfectly mild version is delicious and easy.

Serves 8

  • 4 ripe Hass avocados, halved and pitted
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1.5 teaspoons dried cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Scoop the avocados and place in a medium bowl. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the avocado halves. Toss to coat with lemon juice. Sprinkle the dried cilantro and salt over the avocados. Using a fork, mash until a smooth consistency is achieved. Taste the guacamole “(over and over)” and adjust seasoning if necessary. Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator. Stir before serving.

The next day, you can use the guacamole as part of an “Ultimate Babe Bowl” (balanced macro bowl) from Megan Kober, who is a registered dietician. “The whole purpose of a Babe Bowl is being able to pack loads of vegetables, fiber-packed starchy vegetables or grains, healthy fats and lots of protein into one meal,” Kober says.

Southwest Babe Bowl

Place the ingredients in a bowl, mix, and eat.

  • Protein | 4 oz. rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed and meat cut into chunks
  • Healthy Fats | 1/4 cup mild guacamole
  • Vegetables | 2 cups baby spinach
  • Starchy Carbohydrates | 1/2 cup black beans (rinsed and drained) and 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • Bonus Bites | 1 to 2 Tablespoons homemade salad dressing, such as Small Batch Italian Dressing

Adapted from Chipotle — The Not-So-Secret Guac Recipe and The Nutrition Addiction

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Pitcher of Arnold Palmers (Lemonade-Iced Tea)

1LemonCook’s notes: Inspired the claim that “A true Arnold Palmer isn’t made with equal parts iced tea and lemonade; in fact, it’s three parts iced tea to one part lemonade” (link). The lemonade in this recipe is made with reduced sugar.

Combine the following in a 2-quart pitcher:

  • 6 cups strong tea, brewed with 6 tea bags in 6 cups hot water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar dissolved in 1.5 cups hot water

Apple Harvest Salad with Maple-Balsamic Dressing

Maple Salad DressingCook’s notes: I made this salad recently for a Grilled Cheese Housewarming Party. The hosts asked everyone to bring a kind of grilled cheese sandwich or a compatible dish. It’s a pretty salad … and it goes well with grilled cheese. The recipe is easily cut in half.

Salad
6 cups mixed green lettuce
6 cups butter lettuce
1 Braeburn apple, cored and diced
1 Granny smith apple, cored and diced
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup toasted almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds

Maple-Balsamic Dressing
1 cup olive oil
6 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine the salad ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.

Put all the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight-sealing lid. Close the lid firmly and shake vigorously to combine.

 

Zucchini Noodles with Pesto

IMG_0747Cook’s notes: Another wonderful spiralized zucchini recipe inspired by Two Peas and Their Pod. We sauteed the cherry tomatoes with the zucchini.

2 Tablespoons (1 oz) olive oil
16 oz cherry tomatoes
3 to 4 zucchinis, ends trimmed and spiralized (or cut into thin strips)
Olive oil for sautéing
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Basil pesto, to taste

Heat a large skillet over a medium-high burner. Add the oil and tomatoes, stirring frequently, until the tomato skins start to split and release their juices. Add the zucchini and gently cook until zucchini is tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Toss with pesto (about 1/4 cup, stir and add more if desired).

Infused Mint Water

IMG_0740Cook’s notes: I had a small package of mint from the grocery store and found a drinkable way to use it. Very refreshing on a hot day. Keeps in the refrigerator for about a week.

Add 1 package (~18g) mint leaves, diced and stems removed, to a jar. Cover with water.

Refrigerate water mixture, stirring once per day, until flavors have infused, about 2 to 3 days. Strain before drinking.

Yellow Squash Noodles (“Squashetti”)

IMG_0749

“Squashetti” noodles served with brown rice and teriyaki meatballs

Cook’s notes: Make the vegetable “noodles” with a spiralizer device (I use a KitchenAid attachment) or a julienne peeler. Saute lightly in olive oil for a few minutes until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

You can serve spiralized veggie noodles with any sauce you would put on regular pasta.

Resources:

The Slender Kitchen site describes 3 ways to make these noodles with different tools. The about Southern Food site has a lovely recipe for these noodles with garlic and parmesan.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

IMG_2199Cook’s notes: I posted a version of this recipe several years ago that used two kinds of syrup (Peppermint Hot Cocoa, Syrup Version). This version includes two kinds of chocolate. The maple syrup seems to intensify the chocolate flavor. If you don’t have maple syrup, use either 1 Tablespoon honey or 4 teaspoons white sugar (you need to use 1/3 more sugar than maple syrup). Guittard does not add milk to their chips, but if you need certified vegan chips, I recommend the Enjoy Life brand.

1 cup almond milk
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (Droste Dutch Processed Cocoa)
1.5 Tablespoons extra dark chocolate chips (such as Guittard)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract

Microwave the almond milk in a glass measuring cup for 2 minutes on High.

Place the cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and salt in a mug. Add a splash of  hot almond milk; stir until chocolate chips are melted and the chocolate mixture is thick and smooth.

Add the remaining hot milk, maple syrup, and peppermint extract. Stir to combine.

Top with whipped cream and serve hot.

 

 

Review: Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Cookies

Cookies like muffin tops

Cookies like muffin tops

The recipe makes exactly 12 cookies. These cookies do take 30 minutes to bake and have a damp, heavy texture similar to muffin tops. One critique I have is that the ingredients are not listed in the order they are used. I ended up mixing the canned pumpkin in with the dry ingredients. This did not harm the cookies at all.

I would make these again: they are gluten free, vegan when made with maple syrup, and quite tasty.

Cooks in the US, note that 180C is about 350F for your oven temperature.

Recipe is from the blog The Big Man’s World.

Review: Coconut No Bake Cookies (Wookie Cookies)

Wookie CookiesThe Minimalist Baker has a terrific recipe for no-bake cookies.

I made these for a Star Wars-themed birthday party and called them “Wookie Cookies”. They were quickly dubbed “Chewbacca Balls” by the other guests.

Either way, one is quite rich. I’d recommend using a teaspoon scoop next time.

This recipe is both vegan and gluten-free. However, these do have nuts, due to the peanut butter. But the cookies are very tasty, no matter what they are called!

Healthy Makeover: Texas Sheet Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Healthier cake is still delicious

Healthier cake is still delicious

Cook’s notes: I made this cake for a friend who loves the combination of chocolate and peanut butter. I couldn’t bring myself to make the original Texas Sheet Cake, which has a huge amount of sugar in it. The cake turned out terrific, and several people asked for the recipe.

Note that the cake is vegetarian, due to the yogurt, but the frosting is vegan. You can easily make the cake vegan by using a vegan yogurt.

Serve extra frosting in a bowl on the side for dipping with pretzel sticks. It’s also great spread on graham crackers topped with banana slices.

Texas Sheet Cake – Healthy Makeover

Recipe from “Chocolate Covered Katie,” who says, “yogurt gives the cake moisture and softness without all the added fat, and I’ve cut way back extensively on the sugar as well. The result is a rich and surprisingly healthy chocolate cake with fewer than 60 calories per serving.

  • Gluten-free
  • Vegetarian (but not vegan, due to yogurt)
  • Eggless

1 cup “Cup for Cup” gluten-free flour blend
6 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup granulated sugar [vegan sugar preferred]
1/2 cup yogurt (plain, fat-free Greek yogurt)
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Peanut butter frosting, see below

Heat oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 13 x 9 jelly roll pan or baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the first 5 dry ingredients very well (flour to sugar).

In a separate bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients. Pour wet into dry and stir until just evenly combined, then pour into the greased pan. Bake 18-19 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean.

Healthy Peanut Butter Frosting

This will make approximately 2 cups of frosting, depending on how much almond milk is used. Recipe is vegan.

2/3 cup natural peanut butter, crunchy style
4 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
8 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Tablespoons vanilla almond milk, use more to change desired consistency

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the peanut butter, cocoa powder, honey, vanilla, and 2 Tablespoons of almond milk. Mix together. Continue to add almond milk in one tablespoon increments until you reach the desired consistency of frosting.