Serrano Honey Shrimp & Avocado Summer Salad

One of my favorite things about summer is the crisp, fresh, and delicious foods we New Englanders are finally surrounded by. This summer salad is a bit of a riff off of ceviche with the exception of the fact that I cooked the shrimp. It combines fresh vegetables, like peppers and onions, with fresh fruits, like avocado and pineapple, with seasoned chili-seasoned shrimp for a refreshing and simple dish. What really added depth and outstanding flavor to this dish was the addition of Serrano Honey Balsamic Vinegar from The Branch Olive Oil Company in Peabody, MA. In addition to the acid of the vinegar, this balsamic brings with it the sweetness of honey and just a little heat from the serrano chiles. It’s the finisher that really makes this dish pop. If you have a cookout coming up and want to bring something that really stands out and is completely different, this is the dish to go with.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole avocado
  • 12-15 shrimp (size 16/20), rinsed and tails removed
  • 1/4 of a red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen pineapple, diced
  • 1.25 oz The Branch Serrano Honey Balsamic
  • Chili powder
  • Garlic powder
  • 1/2 lime
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp EVOO or EV, cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil

Instructions:

  1. In a skillet, heat about 1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil over medium-low heat. Sprinkle both sides of the shrimp with chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Place shrimp in the pan and cook 2-3 minutes on each side until firm and cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
  2. While the shrimp is cooling, begin prepping the chopped fruits and vegetables for the dish and combine them in a large bowl with the chopped cilantro.
  3. Once the shrimp is cooled, cut it into small pieces and add it to the bowl. Add the balsamic vinegar and a squeeze of lime juice. Stir to coat everything.
  4. Cover and place the mixture in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

This dish is great to eat on its own or you could serve it in lettuce wraps, with tortilla chips, or over cooled rice or quinoa. I served mine over brown rice with a side of roasted broccoli as shown below.

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If you haven’t been to The Branch yet, I highly recommend you check them out. If you go in person, you can taste pretty much everything in the store and the employees there are super helpful. If you order online, they offer free shipping which is awesome, needless to say.

Quick and Simple Tomato Sauce

As I was just writing my review of Flatzza sprouted grain pizza crusts, it occurred to me that I should share my recipe for a quick and easy pizza sauce. I prefer to make my own sauce for pizza and pasta for a couple reasons: 1. it’s cheaper than buying store-bought sauce, 2. I can avoid that added sugar and sodium found in jarred sauces, and 3. I can make it taste however I want. I came up with this in a pinch one night and it’s been my go-to ever since: simple, quick, easy, yummy.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tsbp tomato paste
  • 1 28-oz can of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1-2 tsbp of fresh or dried oregano
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Process:

  1. In a large sauce pan, heat about 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring and mashing it in the oil.
  2. Add the oregano and stir around, cooking for about a minute.
  3. Using your hands, squish and smoosh the tomatoes into the pan (be careful of splatter!) and pour in the liquid from the can.
  4. Further smoosh up the tomatoes with your spoon or spatula and bring to a low simmer. Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste. Allow sauce to cook for at least 5-10 minutes. The tomato paste will thicken it as it cooks and the flavors will further incorporate the longer it goes. You can add any additional seasonings you’d like!

Super easy, right?!

Load it up for a veggie-loaded pasta sauce

Have a hard time getting your kids to eat their vegetables? Working veggies into your pasta sauce is a great way to get them to. Simply take this pasta sauce and add the following veggies to it. If your kids are super picky and will balk at chunks in the sauce, simply dump it in the blender and puree it all together.

  • 1/2 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 bell pepper (any color but green), diced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 cup broccoli, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrot, finely chopped

Simply sauté these veggies in the pan until they’re soft before adding the tomato paste in Step 1 above. You can add other vegetables to this as well, like finally chopped spinach or kale. Adding a chopped mushroom with a meaty texture, like oyster mushrooms, can give this sauce a bolognese feel.

Egg Muffin Cups

These egg muffin cups are super popular in the online healthy recipe world right now and for good reason – they’re a great way to get your healthy breakfast on the go!

Ingredients:

  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1/4 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (to taste)
  • 1 1/2 cups spinach
  • 1/2 cup shredded, low-fat cheese of choice

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin tray with coconut oil or spray with cooking spray.
2. Beat eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
3. Stuff muffin cups with spinach evenly. Pour egg mixture over spinach until cups are 3/4 full. Top with cheese.
4. Bake egg cups for 20-25 minutes until eggs are cooked through. They will puff up while baking and then deflate a bit.

Serve hot and fresh out of the oven or store them in the fridge and reheat them throughout the week for breakfast on the go. These also freeze very well!

egg cups

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

One of the questions that I get a lot is what kinds of things can you substitute for dessert that still taste good and satisfy that sweet craving. Without fail, this recipe is my top suggestion. It combines the healthy fats of an avocado with the antioxidants of cocoa and it tastes just like a chocolate pudding cup without the added chemicals and preservatives and with less sugar. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Really? Avocado? That can’t be good. Just trust me on this one. You will be pleasantly surprised.

One thing to remember with this recipe is that, just like an avocado that is left cut for a while and starts to tastes weird, that will happen with this, too. The brown avocado flavor will start to come through if you allow this to sit for too long. Fortunately, this recipe is so quick and easy to make that it won’t be a problem to just whip it up whenever you’re ready. And you definitely won’t have any leftovers!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large, ripe avocado (not overripe)
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar (optional, but recommended)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy.
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The final product looks just like regular chocolate pudding and it tastes like it, too!

I think this mousse tastes better cold, personally, so I suggest popping it in the fridge or the freezer for a little bit to chill it.

Try topping it with homemade whipped cream, chopped nuts, or shredded coconut before serving. This also makes a great lunchbox snack – just scoop some into a small tupperware and you have a DIY Jell-O pudding cup.

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Quinoa, Apple, & Chicken Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

Fall is officially upon us and today’s weather was like jumping right into the deep end of it with the rain and the cold and the wind. So I decided to prep one of my favorite nutritious comfort foods for dinner tonight. This recipe combines a bunch of fall produce and flavors and leaves you feeling satisfied but not guilty.  It also features my favorite seasoning blend: Bell’s Turkey Seasoning. I will put this into almost any recipe and I am of the humble opinion that you can never have too much of it. It’s a New England classic!

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I created this recipe a couple years ago while just messing around in the kitchen with the random things we had in there. It ended up becoming a favorite and my partner requests it regularly in the fall and winter.

A couple notes before I get started on the recipe:

  1. You should alway sharpen your knives before you use them, like every time. If you don’t, I strongly encourage you do it this time because it can be a challenge to cut through the acorn squash.
  2.  You’ll see salt listed in the ingredients list below but not an amount. This is because I salt regularly while I cook to build different layers and complexity in the food, so I don’t actually know how much is in it. I find this particularly important when you’re cooking the quinoa as that can be a tough item to flavor. Just a dash of salt every cooking stage or two and you’ll be really happy with the flavors you evoke. That said, always taste regularly as you cook as well!

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash, halved the long way
  • 1 medium orange or yellow bell pepper, dicedIMG_20170922_190700
  • 1 cup celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium gala apple, diced (about 1 1/4 cup)
  • 1 cup diced portobello mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (3/4 cup dry)
  • 3-4 chicken sausages cut out of the casing
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 1/4 tsp Bell’s turkey seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • cinnamon
  • coconut oil
  • sea salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the halved squash face-up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Spread a very light layer of coconut oil of the cut surfaces and sprinkle with cinnamon. Place in the oven and bake until tender.
  2. While the squash is baking, prepare the quinoa according to the package and set aside.
  3. While the quinoa and squash are cooking, prepare the other ingredients. Warm extra virgin olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the pepper, onion, celery, and mushrooms and sauté until they begin to get tender. Add the chicken sausage until the outside begins to turn gray. Add the apple. Continue to cook until the apple softens and releases its juice but not to the point that it becomes mushy.
  4. Without draining the sauté pan, add the quinoa to the veggies and sausage mixture and mix well to combine. Add the Bell’s Turkey Seasoning and garlic powder and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix to distribute throughout.
  5. Once the squash is tender, remove it from the oven. Fill the middle space with quinoa mixture until heaping. You won’t be able to use all of it in the squash.
  6. Place the squash back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes or so to combine the flavors.
  7. Cut the squash pieces in half and serve with additional filling.

Makes 4-6 servings.

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Butternut Noodles and Mushrooms

I don’t know how it happened, but fall is already right around the corner. I am actually sitting here with a blanket on my legs since the mornings are already getting cool here in MA, so I decided to post one of my favorite warming and satisfying fall recipes.

The mushrooms used in this recipe have a very meaty texture to them so it’s very satisfying without the meat. Depending on your model of spiralizer, making veggie noodles can be pretty labor intensive, so I recommend buying the packages of pre-cut squash to spare yourself the extra effort of cutting, spooning, and peeling a whole squash before spiralizing it.

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash, spiralized
  • 1 cup oyster mushrooms, chopped (not too small – you want pieces big enough that allow you to still get the texture)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (you may need a little more or less depending on how much noodles you end up with)
  • 2 tbsp fresh, finely chopped sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large frying pan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil until it begins to glisten (not smoke). Once it’s reached that temperature, add the oyster mushrooms and sage and sauté until the mushrooms are tender. As you are cooking it, the sage is infusing the olive oil with its flavor.
  2. Once the mushrooms are tender, add the butternut noodles to the pan and toss so that they are all coated with the oil and the mushrooms are distributed throughout. Cook 1-2 minutes to soften the noodles.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

If you want some even bigger fall flavor or are really into the taste of sage, like I am, you can also finish this dish by sprinkling it with a little Bell’s Turkey seasoning before serving it.

Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

If you are one of the many parents who struggle to get their kids to eat their vegetables, you are going to love this recipe. If you are an adult who hates eating vegetables, you are going to love this recipe. If you love alfredo. you’re going to love this recipe. The sauce has the velvety texture and creamy flavor of alfredo, but contains just a tiny amount of cheese and is made of cauliflower. Instead of milk or heavy cream, you use the water you cooked the cauliflower in for a liquid so you’re still able to get some of those water-soluble nutrients from the cauliflower. You won’t even know you’re eating a vegetable! What’s even better is this is super quick and easy to make.

A quick note on the pasta. I always recommend whole wheat pastas over white pastas – it is far more nutritious than white and it’s also more filling. However, this sauce is made with water and whole wheat pasta tends to soak that up very quickly so you end up with a grainier textured sauce. I still don’t recommend white pasta. I would say go with a brown rice pasta or a whole wheat blend, like whole wheat and quinoa pasta. It will act less like a sponge while still not being an empty carb. I recommend using penne or ziti because it catches some of the sauce inside of it so you get even more flavor with each bite.

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup water (from the cauliflower)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 box whole grain pasta, cooked

Equipment

  • Blender

Directions

  1. Break up the cauliflower into florets. Place them in a large pot of water and boil until soft.
  2. While the cauliflower is cooking, saute the chopped garlic cloves in the extra virgin olive oil for about a minute – just long enough to bloom the flavor. Scrape the garlic and oil into the blender.
  3. Once the cauliflower is soft, add it to the blender with the salt, water from the pot, and parmesan. Blend until the sauce is smooth.
  4. Add the sauce to the cooked pasta. Optional: top with a little more grated parmesan and cracked black pepper and enjoy!

Using a small head of cauliflower, I had some extra sauce leftover using one box of pasta. So. if you buy a larger head, you may be able to make enough sauce for two boxes of pasta.

If you want to take this one step further, add some grilled chicken and broccoli to it!

Cauliflower Sauce
This sauce is so incredibly velvety and creamy!