Friday, May 30

Chicken Basil Pesto Pasta

I love using fresh herbs and greens in my dishes. Not only are they good for you but they make anything you cook look so pretty. This pesto pasta dish is easy to throw together and tastes delicious!

Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

Yield: 4 Servings

Chicken Basil Pesto Pasta
3 chicken breast, cut into bit sized pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
13 oz whole wheat Farfalle (bow tie) pasta
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1 medium tomato, diced

3 cups fesh spinach
1 1/2 cups fresh basil
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil

Combine all pesto ingredients minus the olive oil in a food processor or blender, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and process until smooth.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add pasta, cook until desired tenderness, then drain, rinse and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet, add chicken and saute just until cooked through and juices run clear.

In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked pasta, chicken, sun dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes and pesto. Serve warm or cold.

Wednesday, May 28

Mango-Lime Wine Spritzer

When it comes to mixed drinks I like them about as girly foo-foo as they get. Drinks must be sweet, light, refreshing and the alcohol not overpowering. This spritzer is perfect for your next brunch, evening wine-down or any other excuse you have to enjoy this summery spritzer.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Mango-Lime Wine Spritzer
3 limes, juiced
1 mango diced (1/2 reserved)
5 mint leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon honey
Club soda
Moscato Wine

Combine the lime juice, half of the mango, mint leaves and honey in a small bowl. Using the back of a fork, smash the reserved half of the mango until a thick puree form. Add the mango puree to the lime mixture and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. To serve add 1 tablespoon of the lime-mango mixture to your glass, top with 1 part Moscato to 3 parts club soda.

*Note, if you like your spritzers on the stronger side, increase the Moscato and decrease the club soda to your liking.

Thursday, May 22

Tropical Dreamsicle Chia Pudding

 This week I've been playing around with different chia pudding ideas and I have to say this one tastes like a dreamsicle; cold, creamy, sweet and citrusy! I love whipping up a chia pudding in the evening, throwing it in the fridge and having the perfect healthy breakfast or snack the next morning. Check out my tasty Strawberry Almond Chia Pudding for another great recipe.

Yield: 1 Serving

Tropical Dreamsicle Chia Pudding
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
A couple grates of orange zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon honey
1 heaping tablespoon chia seeds
1 fresh mango, diced

Combine all ingredients except for the mango and whisk together in a small glass jar or cup. Cover and refrigerate 4-6 hours or overnight. Serve with fresh diced mangoes.

Saturday, May 17

Mango Lemon Mint Sparkling Water

Over the weekend the Hubs, Baby and I drove over to our local park and enjoyed a lovely picnic. I wanted something bubbly to drink without drinking a glass full of sugar. I have to say this sparking water is delicious! I was excited to use the mint from our garden in this refreshing summery beverage.

Serves 4

Mango Lemon Mint Sparkling Water
1 mango finely chopped
6 mint leaves, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
Club soda

Combine the mango, mint, lemon juice and honey. Gently mash with the back of a spoon or a potato masher to release the juices. Add a heaping tablespoon of the mixture to individual glasses and top with the club soda.

Healthy Peanut Butter Power Bars

These bars are super easy to make and a fun way to sneak in the super-food chia seeds. Packed with healthy energy these are the perfect grab-n-go breakfast or afternoon pick-me-up. Paired with a tall glass of milk these bars hit just the spot.

Adapted from Catch My Party

Healthy Peanut Butter Power Bars
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon rolled oats
1/3 cup crushed peanuts
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup peanut butter (all natural, no sugar, salt or oil added is preferred)
2 tablespoons honey
1 egg white

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine the oats, peanuts, cranberries, cinnamon, chia seeds, flax seeds and salt in a bowl. In a sauce pan over low heat whisk the oil, peanut butter and honey until smooth. Pour the peanut butter mixture into the oat mixture, mix and then stir in the egg white until well combined.

Line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper and press mixture down. Bake 20-23 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let cool completely before cutting. These bars are best stored in the fridge until ready to eat.

Wednesday, May 14

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

With grilling season upon us, here is a great salad that can stand solo as a meal or serve as a fantastic accompaniment to your favorite grilled protein. I'm envisioning bbq chicken , bratwurst or a juicy hamburger. Planning your Memorial Day menu? You won't regret serving this bright, fresh and flavor packed salad. If you need that extra kick, add a diced jalapeno or two to suite your taste.

Serves 6 as a side salad

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bit-sized pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 cup shredded cheese (combination of mozzarella and cheddar) 
3 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
3 roma tomatoes, diced
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 lime, juiced and zested
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Large handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

**Note: The Moroccan seasoning is a blend of cinnamon, cumin, black and red peppers and turmeric. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread prepared sweet potatoes in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a couple dashes of salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes, than flip the potatoes and add the diced onion. Continue roasting until potatoes are fork tender. When potatoes are done, increase temperature to 400 degrees and sprinkle cheese over the potatoes and onions. Roast for approximately 5-7 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and golden brown.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add corn and cook for 5 minutes. Slice corn off of the ears. In a large serving bowl, combine the corn, tomatoes, red pepper, black beans, lime juice, lime zest, Moroccan seasoning, garlic powder and cilantro. Fold in the warm potato mixture and serve. 

Sunday, May 11

Strawberry Almond Chia Seed Pudding

In my quest to eat healthy with less refined sugar, I've recently discovered chia seed pudding. Chia seeds are high in fiber, protein and healthy omega-3 fats, to name a few. Take a look at this interesting article by the Huffington Post if you're not super familiar with these tiny super-food seeds. Chia seed pudding can be made with any type of milk. Personally, I've tried it with regular 2% dairy milk and homemade almond milk. The almond milk received the winning votes from both me and the Hubs. The pudding has a similar texture to tapioca pearls but in my opinion the chia seeds are far tastier.

For a different twist try these various flavors and fruits

Mix-Ins- Blueberries, Raspberries, Mango, Pineapple or Blackberries,
Milk- Almond, Soy, Dairy or Coconut
Toppings- Fresh fruit, granola, minced mint leaves, dark chocolate, walnuts, or pecans

Strawberry Almond Chia Seed Pudding

Yield- 1 Serving

1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup diced strawberries (plus 1/4 cup to garnish at end)

Combine chia seeds, milk, honey and vanilla in a small cup or 1/2 pint Mason jar. Mix thoroughly and stir in the diced strawberries. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. Serve with additional strawberries on top of pudding.

Stir in the strawberries
Ready to set in the fridge

Whole Wheat Parmesan Herb Bread

Melted butter, fresh parsley, minced garlic and shaved Parmesan cheese complete this savory whole wheat loaf. Using my favorite Whole Wheat Bread Recipe as the base this herb bread variation is divine! This bread is the perfect vehicle for your next cold cut sandwich, chicken salad or red sauce Italian pasta dish. 

Yield 2 Loaves 


2 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 tablespoons dough enhancer (optional, extends the shelf-life of your bread)
1/4 cup gluten
1 tablespoons instant yeast (I like using the Saf Instant Yeast brand, inexpensive and bread rises fast)
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups whole wheat flour

Filling - for one loaf of bread
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (shredded or shaved) 
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

Using your mixer with the dough hook and on low speed, combine the water, oil, dough enhancer (if using), gluten, yeast, honey and half of the flour, Mix for 2 minutes and then add the salt. Continue mixing and add just enough flour so the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the mixer. Increase your speed, speed 3 if using a Bosch and mix for 5 minutes. Place dough in a oiled bowl covered with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled in size. If your flour is still warm this may only take 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Turn dough out onto a lightly oiled counter-top and knead a few times to release the air pockets. Divide dough in half. Roll out dough into a 9 x 18 inch rectangle. Spread with softened butter and top with Parmesan cheese, minced garlic and fresh parsley. Tightly roll beginning with the short side, tuck ends under and place in a oiled bread pan, cover with a lightly oiled piece of plastic wrap. Repeat for second loaf if making a second herb bread, if not, form the dough into a 9 x 9 inch square and roll, tucking the ends under and placing in a oiled pan. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft free place until bread has risen 1 inch over the tops of the pans. Place bread in oven and Immediately reduce temperature to 350 degrees.  Bake for 25-30 minutes. My bread is done after 29 minutes. Bread should be golden brown. Remove bread from pans and place on a cooling rack. If you are planning on slicing the loaf it is best to wait 2 hours before cutting. 

Monday, May 5

Healthier Chicken Teriyaki Pasta Salad

Just recently I was having lunch with a couple girlfriends and one of the girls made this amazing salad! Marinated chicken breasts in a sweet dressing, pasta, cranberries, mandarin oranges, roasted peanuts and fresh baby spinach. This salad is perfect for your next weeknight dinner, picnic in the park, work potluck, or the next time you're asked to bring "a side dish to pass". I loved the sweet and tangy dressing she used and wanted to see if could I lighten it up a bit. The results were phenomenal! Still sweet, tangy and every bit delicious as before. The leftovers we had the next day were fantastic.

Serves 4 as the main dish

Healthier Chicken Teriyaki Pasta Salad
3 chicken breasts cut into bit sized pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce ( I used the Kikkoman brand with garlic and green onions)
12 oz tri-colored penne pasta
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1 teaspoon honey
2 1/2 cups packed fresh spinach
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Mandarin oranges (optional)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add chicken. Saute chicken just until cooked through. Combine cooked chicken and teriyaki sauce in a large bowl and refrigerate. *Note, this step can be done the day before you serve the salad* Cook pasta according to directions on package, drain, rinse and set aside. Meanwhile in a small skillet over medium heat combine the pecan pieces and honey. Stir continually for 5 minutes. Remove pecans to a piece of parchment paper to cool. To assemble salad, add the cooked pasta, spinach and cranberries to the refrigerated chicken. Toss until combined. Garnish with honeyed-pecan pieces.

Extreme self control was necessary not to eat ALL of the honeyed pecans before the salad was finished.

Sunday, May 4

Coconut Milk Raspberry Ice Cream

Did you know that you can use coconut milk as a dairy substitute for ice cream? Perhaps I'm just the late one joining this bandwagon. I was first introduced to coconut ice cream through Charity and her Facebook page A Vibrant Life. She has tons of healthy, dairy-free and delicious recipes on her page. This decedent dessert is incredibly creamy, rich and yet refreshing at the same time. Who knew dairy-free could be so delicious! Frozen bananas add the perfect touch of natural sweetness that you won't even need to use refined sugar. With the coconut milk, bananas and vanilla as your ice cream base the flavoring options are endless!

Coconut Milk Raspberry Ice Cream
1 13.5oz can coconut milk (full fat or coconut cream)
2 large or 3 medium frozen bananas
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Honey (optional)
3/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries(thawed)

Combine the coconut milk, bananas and vanilla extract in a blender and process until smooth. Taste and add honey if desired. Add mixture to ice cream/yogurt maker and process for about 20 minutes. Add raspberries and continue mixing for 5-10 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. Best served immediately.