Mango Guacamole

It’s May 1st and so begins my month of travel. This will be a true test of how well I eat and if I can keep up with my exercise. I typically do my cooking on the weekends but on weekends like this when I’m getting ready to travel, I usually don’t even bother getting groceries. My flight is on Sunday so I need to eat what I have and make sure my refrigerator is pretty empty. Since I’ll be in London for Cinco de Mayo and won’t get a chance to make myself some tacos, I decided pick up the ingredients to make this Mango Guacamole to eat instead.

Fresh mango and avocados are stirred together with red onion, cilantro, pepper (I used jalapeño), and orange and lime juices. Mangos and avocados are pretty inexpensive in the grocery store right now so I love taking advantage of that. I could eat avocados every single day so making this guacamole makes me really happy. If you don’t like guacamole, so sorry to hear that. The mango and orange juice in this gives it a hint of a sweetness that pairs so well with the heat of the Serrano or jalapeño pepper. Luckily, this guacamole makes just enough that I won’t have any leftover before I hit the airport. I’ll happily eat it all weekend.

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Combine mango, red onion, cilantro, orange juice, lime juice, salt, avocado, and pepper in a large bowl; toss to combine.

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Serve guacamole with tortilla chips.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  •  Jalapeño pepper

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Edamame Hummus

I haven’t been very good at going to the gym lately which is making feel pretty bad about myself but I have been doing some workouts at home that are leaving my body SORE. But as we all know, it’s a good sore. Why is it so hard to stay motivated? I was doing great at being in a routine and eating so well but then a work trip and a few frozen pizzas sent me spinning out of control. Well, here we go again, me being a broken record, concentrating on eating well. I have a lot of traveling coming up over the next month so now is the time for me to get it together. I’ll need as much willpower as I can get when faced not having my own kitchen. Until I head out, I’m doing some healthy snacking with this Edamame Hummus.

Thawed frozen edamame is whirled in a food processor with garlic, olive oil, lemon, and tahini until smooth and thick. If you like edamame and you like regular hummus, you’ll like this version. The result is a fresh and vibrant hummus that is perfect with fresh veggies or chips. I really loved this. I used a fraction of the oil that the recipe called for (only 2 tablespoons) so use your judgment on how much you want to use. Making this edamame takes two seconds so if you think you have that kind of time, give this a try. Especially if you love hummus.

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Add garlic, edamame, extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup water, lemon juice and tahini into the bowl of a food processor; puree. Season generously with salt.

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Serve with chips or veggies.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Like It

Source: Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine

Grilled Chicken Salad with Strawberries and Feta

I was traveling for work last week and had a lot going on which meant hardly any exercise and lots of bad eating. I actually don’t mind traveling for work but at the same time, I love being in a normal routine at home of making good food and hitting the gym. The one morning I actually made it to the gym? It was packed with every machine taken. I did some exercises in my room instead but that didn’t really do me much good for the rest of the week. So this week, I’m back on track. (I feel like I’m always saying that.) Salad…and more salad. Luckily, I came home to the latest Cooking Light magazine in my mailbox which had this Grilled Chicken Salad with Strawberries and Feta. It seemed meant to be.

Chicken breasts are marinated briefly in simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar before being grilled. Strawberries, arugula, and red onion are mixed with a little more oil and vinegar before being topped with the chicken and tangy feta cheese. This salad is simple and a little bit perfect. Strawberries and balsamic already pair so well together but added with the marinated chicken and spicy arugula, it just makes this salad so hearty and flavorful. I’ve been craving strawberries lately so this was a great way to enjoy them before they are perfectly in season. Salads can be good like that.

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Combine 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons vinegar in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag; seal. Let stand 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; grill 5 minutes on each side or until done. Cut into slices.

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Combine remaining 1 tablespoon oil, remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and sugar in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add strawberries; toss to coat.

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Add arugula and onion to strawberry mixture; toss gently to combine.

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Sprinkle feta over salad. Divide salad among 4 plates; top evenly with sliced chicken.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • Regular balsamic vinegar

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Egg Salad Sandwiches with Bacon and Sriracha

Got some hard-boiled eggs leftover from Easter and are kind of sick of deviled eggs? Is that even possible? To be sick of deviled eggs? Not in my world. Deviled eggs, egg salad, or hard-boiled eggs simply sliced over some avocado toast – I don’t care. I’ll take them hard-boiled any which way. I eat deviled eggs so often throughout the year but I rarely think to make egg salad anymore. Probably because I can eat an entire bowl of egg salad with a spoon. Portion control? Ha! But I couldn’t resist trying these Egg Salad Sandwiches with Bacon and Sriracha.

Hard-boiled eggs are mixed with a combination of a little mayonnaise, plain non-fat Greek yogurt, bacon (I used turkey bacon), scallions, and Sriracha. The mixture is plopped on top of some arugula which adds yet another layer of vibrant flavor. (Don’t like arugula? Use spinach). I’m not typically a big fan of using yogurt in place of mayonnaise in most cases but here, it works. With the Sriracha and light oniony bite of the scallions, you can’t even tell the yogurt is in there. And bacon? Who doesn’t love bacon? This egg salad is insane. Sriracha and eggs work so well together that it doesn’t even seem right to not put them together. I ate my egg salad on seeded Jewish rye bread which packs yet another punch so I was in heaven. Thank goodness for Easter. It’s just another reason to make hard-boiled eggs. As if we need a reason.

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 Cook bacon in a medium pan over medium-high heat 3 minutes, until crisp or microwave per package directions. Remove bacon from pan or microwave; crumble. Place bacon in a large bowl. Stir in onions, mayonnaise, yogurt, Sriracha, salt and pepper.

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Gently stir in eggs.

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Arrange 1/2 cup arugula on each of 4 bread slices. Top each serving with 1/3 cup egg mixture and 1 bread slice.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • Turkey bacon

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Banana-Almond Butter French Toast Sandwiches

I was in Vegas two weeks ago and one morning my friends and I went to breakfast. (This doesn’t always happen). It was our first morning there and we hadn’t yet been sucked in to all the Vegas has. Not that I’m going to tell you anything that happened there – but I will tell you that I came thisclose to ordering French toast that morning. French toast is one of those things that I ate quite often when I was a kid but rarely do anymore. I always consider it when going out for breakfast but never order it. Thankfully, it’s easy to make at home. Got eggs and bread? You can make French toast. These Banana-Almond Butter French Toast Sandwiches are different twist that are a fun alternative to your standard breakfast. Maybe even your Easter breakfast.

Almond butter, maple syrup, and banana slices are spread between two pieces of break and then dunked in a mixture of eggs, almond milk (or regular milk), cinnamon and vanilla. Grilled until golden brown and slightly crispy, these sandwiches are packed with perfect salty-sweetness. Think of a peanut butter and banana sandwich marrying French toast. So yummy. Surprise your kids with these on Easter Sunday. They’ll be happy they are portable while they are off searching for eggs.

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Crack eggs into a shallow bowl. Add almond milk, vanilla extract, and cinnamon; stir with a whisk to combine.

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Combine almond butter and maple syrup in a small bowl. Cut banana lengthwise into 4 thin slices; cut crosswise into halves. Spread almond butter mixture evenly across bread slices. Top 2 bread slices with 4 banana pieces. Place remaining 2 bread slices over banana, sandwiching almond butter and bananas inside.

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Heat a panini press to 425°F or grill pan at high heat. Dip sandwiches in egg mixture, and let excess drip off.

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Lightly coat grill plates of panini press or grill pan with cooking spray, if needed. Arrange sandwiches on press or grill. Push down gently to flatten.

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Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until sandwiches are browned on the outside and hot in the center.Place sandwiches on a cutting board. Cut in half diagonally. Serve hot.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Blush Mac and Cheese with Tomatoes

Pasta? What’s pasta? I haven’t had it in so long, I think I’ve almost forgot. How crazy it is to me that I eat so little pasta these days when it was my dinner EVERYDAY when I was a vegetarian ten years ago. When people would ask what my favorite meal was? The answer was easily pasta. Now? I don’t even consider it. How did this happen? I don’t even recognize myself anymore. It’s amazing how when you are careful with what you eat, your tastes can change when you aren’t looking. I’ve dabbled in low-carb diets for years. Initially, they were impossibly hard. But now, I’ve found that I feel better and have fewer cravings so it’s easier. I still eat carbs, clearly, but now I can have pasta once in a while and truly enjoy it. This Blush Mac and Cheese with Tomatoes is a fun way to make an old classic pasta dish new again.

A creamy cheese sauce is made vibrant with additional flavors of tomato, shallot, garlic, thyme and spinach before being mixed with corkscrew pasta and topped with juicy, roasted grape tomatoes. The cheese sauce isn’t as cheesy as typical mac and cheese but the addition of the tomato paste and spinach make this feel more like a grown-up version of our childhood classic. I used quinoa pasta instead of regular pasta (but only because I couldn’t find whole-wheat) so my overall texture was a bit different than expected but still good nonetheless. The roasted grape tomatoes add a burst of sweetness and the spinach provides a nutritional boost. While I wouldn’t necessarily consider this mac and cheese, it didn’t disappoint.

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Preheat broiler to high. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. While pasta cooks, place tomatoes on a jelly-roll pan lined with foil. Broil 8 minutes or until tomatoes are beginning to blacken.

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While tomatoes cook, heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add diced shallots, minced garlic, and thyme; sauté 2 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.

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Add tomato paste; cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in milk, black pepper, and salt; bring to a boil. Cook 4 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

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Add spinach, stirring constantly until spinach starts to wilt.

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Add shredded cheddar cheese, and stir until smooth.

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Stir in cooked pasta.

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Top with the roasted tomatoes.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • Quinoa pasta

Overall Rating: Like It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Vanilla-Spinach Shamrock Protein Shake

Does anyone else get nostalgic for minty shakes from their childhood around St. Patty’s Day? I hadn’t yet thought about it until I saw this Instagram photo from Food Network last week. And just when I convinced myself that I was going to get ice cream to make the recipe in the photo, I decided that I could probably make a similar tasting shake in a much healthier way. The result was this Vanilla-Spinach Shamrock Protein Shake.

Almond milk, vanilla protein powder, spinach and peppermint extract are all combined in a blender resulting in a healthy, low-calorie, minty shake. The spinach provides a natural bright green color and the vanilla protein powder adds just enough sweetness to keep this shake just under 150 calories. If you prefer a slightly thicker shake, just add some ice. Whether you are watching your weight or not, this is one guilt-free way to celebrate St. Patty’s Day.

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Vanilla-Spinach Shamrock Protein Shake (makes 1 shake)

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I love Silk)
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder (I used Tera’s Whey rBGH Free Bourbon Vanilla Whey Protein)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract, to taste
  • 1 cup (or large handful) fresh spinach or baby spinach
  • whipped cream and sprinkles, optional

In the jar of a blender, combine almond milk, protein powder, and peppermint extract. Blend until combined, about 10 seconds. Add spinach to the milk mixture, pressing lightly down into milk if need be. Blend for 30 seconds until spinach is thoroughly combined. (If any spinach is left unblended, use a spoon to push it down into the jar further and blend a few seconds more.) Top with whipped cream and sprinkles, if desired.

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