Chicken & Grapes Waldorf Salad (and a slightly bent resolution)

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How many of you resolved to eat better this year? I’m guessing a lot. It’s a pretty popular resolution. (Actually, that might be why you’re here right now!)

I resolved to eat clean as much as possible by eating fewer foods that have more than five inrgredients on the label. (More than 5 ingredients is okay as long as I make it myself). Essentially, I’m trying to cut processed foods. Just a few weeks into the year I’m already realizing how hard that is. Bread is impossible to buy in the store without a ton of ingredients and preservatives (and as much as I’d love to, I’m NOT making my own bread on a regular basis). I’ve spent a lot of time reading food labels in 2015.

So when I had a craving for waldorf salad, I was in a bind. (Waldorf salad is usually a chicken salad with apples, grapes, and/or nuts.) I wanted a fresh, crisp dish to start off a healthy New Year, but there was one barrier in my way: mayonnaise – the base for the waldorf dressing.  Sadly, the mayonnaise I had in my fridge had exactly 10 ingredients. Too many.

I thought about substitutes, but couldn’t come up with any that could properly replace the creaminess of the tradition dressing for a waldorf salad. So I went for it – but in a small quantity. The dressing in this recipe includes a little mayonnaise, but also apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Overall, this is a healthier, lighter version of a waldorf salad. So what if I cheated a little bit? Rules are meant to be broken (or just slightly bent)!

Light Chicken Waldorf Salad

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Yield: 1 serving. Per Serving: $3.28, 434 calories, 13g fat, 70g carbs, 39g protein.

Slice ¼ cup grapes in half, cook ¼ cup faro according to package instructions, and slice 1 large stalk celery on a bias. Prepare dressing the dressing by whisk together 1 teaspoon each of mayonnaise, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss grapes, faro, celery, 1 cup arugula, and 6 ounces of sliced, cooked chicken breast with the dressing.

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Everyday Kale Salad

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Summer is in full swing and it has left me running in circles (in a good way). I blame training for a triathlon and beautiful weather that begs for outdoor social engagements. I’ve been a little behind on my posts (and laundry, and email, and cleaning…) but I’m getting back on schedule. Because it’s been hard to keep to my usual routine, I’ve been leaning toward easy to prep meals that can keep for a while in the fridge, so that the last minute dinner with the girls doesn’t through of my meal plan for the week. Insert this kale salad. As I’ve said before, kale is my favorite leafy green for many reasons. Today’s reason is it’s heartiness, which allows you to keep kale longer than other salad greens. No more slimy mixed greens for you!

Before I jump into the recipe, I need to highlight one thing: the key here is massaging the kale. Yes, it sounds weird, but it makes a huge difference!

Everyday Kale Salad

Yield: 4 servings. Per Serving (without mix-ins): $0.53, 71 calories, 4g fat, 23g carbs, 2g protein.

Wash 1 bunch of kale (about 1 pound), remove stems, and cut into bite-sized pieces. Whisk together your favorites of the following ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon oil – I highly suggest olive oil as your base for any dressing, but you could use vegetable oil if necessary.
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar or acid – I like apple cider or red wine vinegars, but you could also use balsamic or rice wine vinegar, or even lemon or lime juice.
  • 1 teaspoon syrup – honey is my go-to, but maple syrup or agave nectar works.
  • 1 teaspoon salt – go kosher or go home!

Massage the kale with your hands much like you would knead dough, until it turns a dark green. Toss in the dressing and let marinate in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Add your favorite salad mixings (pictured here – tomatoes, red onion, fresh corn, and Israeli couscous) and enjoy!

Summer Recipe Round-up

Happy Memorial Day! I hope you all had a chance to relax this long weekend while enjoying some nice weather. The weather was a little unpredictable in Boston but I still had a chance to soak up some rays in between passing showers. I haven’t quite had much time to cook this weekend, but hey, sometimes that’s relaxing too!

In honor of the first official day of summer, I put together a round-up of summer recipes you can enjoy as the weather gets even nicer and backyard barbeques start popping up. Today is the start of everyone’s favorite season (come on, admit it) and there is lot of fun and good weather to look forward to. I’m looking forward to competing in a few races, taking weekend trips around New England with my friends, and the start of my farm share in a few weeks. What are you looking forward to this summer?

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Shrimp, Watermelon & Cucumber SaladCrisp, fresh and very refreshing. Best enjoyed outdoors with a wine spritzer. Per Serving: $6.36, 257 calories, 6g fat, 25g carbs, 29g protein.

Grilled Romaine Lettuce – Yes, warm lettuce is good. Per Serving: $1.93, 80 calories, 7g fat, 3.5g carbs, 2g protein.

Summer Corn GuacamoleBecause who doesn’t love guac and fresh corn off the cob? Per Serving: $0.81, 88 calories, 7g fat, 7g carbs, 1.5g protein.

Broccoli ColeslawPrefect for your next potluck barbeque. Per Serving: $2.01, 71 calories, 1.5g fat, 12.5g carbs, 3g protein.

Cheers to summer 2014!

Pomegranate Greek Salad

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I often say that soup is the winter equivalent of a salad. If prepared correctly, a vegetable-based soup can be as healthy, light, and nutritious as a bright summer salad. However, salads themselves can be great in winter time too, with a few tweaks.

Make a salad winter-ready by adding seasonal veggies and a warm element. Here, I added pomegranate seeds pearled couscous. You could try another grain – like quinoa or faro – but I prefer the doughy, soft texture of the pearled couscous. Seeding a pomegranate can be a pain, but it’s always worth it.

Pomegranate Greek Salad

Cook 1 package pearled couscous according to package directions. Top 2 cups mixed greens with 1/3 cup cooked couscous, 5 diced olive, 2 ounces cubed feta cheese, ¼ cup diced cucumber and ¼ cup pomegranate seeds. Dress with 1 tablespoon Italian dressing.

Yield: 1 serving. Per Serving: $3.89, 493 calories, 22g fat, 59g carbs, 14g protein.

Deli Salad with Turkey, Asparagus, & Avocado

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Quality ingredients don’t need much messing with – like in this quick and easy Deli Salad. I love arranging salads in this style, with ingredients side by side, because it is so visually appealing. As they say, we eat with our eyes first!

You can mix this up with ingredients that appeal to you or serve it over mixed greens as a traditional salad. To store and transport for lunch, wrap each ingredient individually in plastic bags or containers and arrange when you’re ready to eat. This is a great quick post work-out meal when you want to feel healthy and light.

Deli Salad with Turkey, Asparagus, & Avocado

Steam or boil 5 asparagus spears for about 5 minutes. Slice 1 medium tomato and dice ¼ avocado. Arrange asparagus, tomato, and avocado on a plate with 3 slices deli turkey and 1 ounce shaved parmesan. Drizzle with ½ teaspoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 1 serving. Per Serving: $4.56, 300 calories, 16g fat, 23g carbs, 22g protein.

A Second Chance for Leftovers: Caprese Salad Two Ways

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I recently made a big win for leftovers. The photos above (which may look familiar if you follow me on Instagram) capture two caprese salads: on the left is a traditional caprese of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil topped with farro; on the right is a caprese minus the basil plus quinoa and a poached egg.  Both salads warranted #nofilter and were as tasty as they are beautiful. The traditional caprese was dinner on Tuesday and the poached egg caprese was brunch on Sunday.

A key component of my approach to home cooking is leftovers. Leftovers save time and money by allowing you to make multiple meals at once while taking advantage of bulk pricing. However, I understand that there are people in this world that are vehemently opposed to leftovers. If you are one of those people, I hope you’ll give leftovers a second chance (no pun intended) by trying these tips to keep things exciting:

1) Add a new ingredient every time. If you’re the type that will get bored of eating the same meal multiple times in one week, add new ingredients to the dish each time. With my caprese salad, adding a poached egg completely changed the dish. Add a handful of spinach to leftover pasta, throw some kale chips on top of soup, or steam different veggies every night to serve alongside chicken. I’m also a huge fan of throwing anything on top of a salad – including deli meat, meatballs, and even lasagna.

2) Store and reheat properly. I recently had a terrible experience with a leftover quesadilla that I attempted to reheat in the microwave at work. What was originally a crispy, melty veggie quesadilla ended up a greasy, soggy mess. In retrospect, I should have brought the ingredients (cooked veggies, shredded cheese, and a tortilla) separately and cooked them for the first time in the microwave, rather than reheating. A great dish can turn into a disaster if the leftovers are not stored or reheated properly (think soggy salads). In advance, think about how the leftovers will reheat and plan accordingly.

3) Consume in a timely fashion. When people think of leftovers, they imagine a forgotten container in the back of the fridge filled with an unidentifiable substance. Don’t let your leftovers get to that point – intervene by the one week mark. One week after the dish was originally prepared, either eat it, toss it or freeze it. If you need to, label your leftovers with a date to make sure they aren’t forgotten.

Caprese Salad

Cook ¼ cup farro according to package directions. Slice 1 beefsteak tomato into ¼ inch slices. Slice 2 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese into 1/8 inch slices. Arrange the tomato and mozzarella slices in an overlapping fashion on a plate. Top with farro, drizzle with ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar, and 2 basil leaves cut into ribbons. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Yield: 1 serving. Per Serving: $3.72, 474 calories, 11.5g fat,69g carbs, 26g protein.

Poached Egg & Tomato Salad

Cook ¼ cup quinoa according to package directions. Slice 1 beefsteak tomato into ¼ inch slices. Slice 1 ounce mozzarella cheese into 1/8 inch slices. Arrange the tomato and mozzarella slices in an overlapping fashion on a plate. Top with quinoa and ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar. Boil 1 inch of water in a small saucepan. When the water is simmering, gently drop 1 egg into the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes, keeping the water at a simmer. When the eggs white have cooked thoroughly and are opaque, remove the egg from the water with a slotted spoon. Top the salad with the egg and season with salt and pepper to taste. Yield: 1 serving. Per Serving: $3.09, 338 calories, 13g fat, 38g carbs, 21g protein.

Broccoli Coleslaw

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Labor Day is right around the corner, signaling the unofficial end of summer. I’m hoping for a few more weeks of warm weather but, given New England’s unpredictability, not holding my breath.

Naturally, this weekend is a time to reflect on the summer of 2013 and everything that made it great. We welcomed the Royal baby (as well as North West, daughter of Kimye), Sharknado happened (I still don’t understand why), and we survived the Boston heat wave. Personally, I ran a 5K with my coworkers, spent a lot of time with my family, and (finally) launched this blog.

The highlight of this summer was my family vacation on Cape Cod where this recipe made its first appearance. If you’re hosting or attending a Labor Day BBQ this weekend, add this to your menu! It’s a super healthy alternative to traditional coleslaw drenched in mayonnaise. If you find it too tart, play around with the proportions in the dressing – extra agave will make it sweeter and extra mayo will make it creamier (just keep the calorie count in mind).

Enjoy summer while it lasts!

Broccoli Coleslaw

Chop 2 heads broccoli (approximately 3.5 cups) and 2 cups red cabbage into thin pieces. In a large bowl, combine with 2 cups shredded carrot. In a small bowl, whisk together ½ cup apple cider vinegar, ½ tablespoon mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon agave nectar, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Add to the vegetables and toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Yield: 4 servings. Serving size: 1 cup. Per Serving: $2.01, 71 calories, 1.5g fat, 12.5g carbs, 3g protein.

Grilled Romaine Lettuce

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Those of you from Massachusetts will know that it shouldn’t take four hours to get from Boston to the Cape. But, because it was a Saturday afternoon, Cape traffic was in full swing when I left for vacation last week. We pulled up to our rental house tired, sore, and – above all else – hungry.

One of my favorite parts of vacationing with my family is that they surrender to my cooking experiments.  I take over the kitchen for the week and keep everyone well fed and happy, with the help of my sister’s boyfriend, Matt – a grill master and breakfast champion.

After unexpectedly spending two extra hours in the car, we were all beyond hungry when we arrived. We didn’t have much to hold us over: just peanut butter, jelly, and some condiments. So a few of us hopped back in the car – hard to do after sitting in one for so long – to grocery shop. Almost immediately we decided on hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, and this recipe for grilled romaine lettuce.

The first time I was encouraged to try grilled romaine (by my friend Emily’s mom, at her home in New Hampshire – they serve it with freshly grated parmesan cheese), I was skeptical but intrigued. Warm lettuce seems odd, but try it once and you will never want romaine lettuce any other way. The lettuce begins to caramelize and wilt, much like sautéed spinach or kale, bringing out the earthy and buttery romaine flavor. The core of the romaine remains crunchy and the tips of the leaves crisp up from the heat.

If you don’t own a grill (like me) you can achieve the same effect by broiling romaine in your oven. Just keep a close eye on what’s going on so the lettuce doesn’t get too crispy (i.e., burned).

Grilled Romaine Lettuce

Fire up the grill (or broiler) to a medium flame. Slice 3 large heads of romaine lettuce in half the long way. Drizzle the cut sides with 1.5 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper.

Place the romaine cut side down on the grill. Put down the cover and grill for about 4 minutes. When the leaves have started to caramelize and grill marks have formed, flip it over and grill for 3 more minutes.

Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the lettuce. You can serve it whole, which makes for a stunning presentation, or chop it up and serve in a salad bowl.

Did I also mention this is extremely inexpensive? Enjoy!

Yield: 3 servings. Per Serving: $1.93, 80 calories, 7g fat, 3.5g carbs, 2g protein.

Leftovers Salad

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I left yesterday for my family’s annual vacation on Cape Cod. Almost every summer that I can remember we’ve vacationed on the Cape, spending days on the beach and evenings enjoying each other’s company. Ice cream is always involved.

This year there are 9 of us – my dad, my brother and three sisters, significant others, and me. We have a lovely red house off of Main Street in Chatham within walking distance of the baseball field and our favorite candy store. We’ve already made a few delicious meals, so you can expect more vacation posts in the weeks ahead.

Before I leave for vacation (or any extended period of time, for that matter) I try to eat (or freeze) all of the food in my fridge. I desperately avoid wasting food, so when this salad came together perfectly with the leftovers in my fridge I couldn’t help but share.

I don’t have a perfect recipe for this one but you can probably get the idea from the picture. It’s a bed of mixed greens with half a tomato, a cucumber (fresh from my deck garden), shredded carrot, very thinly sliced jalapeno (also from the garden), chopped onion, fried tofu, and – my favorite salad accessory – farro. I dressed it with a drizzle of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, and a pinch of sea salt and pepper.

Shrimp, Watermelon & Cucumber Salad

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In the elevator on my way to work last week, one of my coworkers asked me what recipes were coming up on CLK. I started describing this salad, which I made for dinner the night before and packed for lunch that day. When I got to the shrimp and watermelon part, he gave me a look (in a bad way). “I’m sure it’s good,” he said, “But I never thought of that combination.” Another male coworker in the elevator agreed – this sounded like a weird recipe.

I was a little taken aback and went on to explain that many other people before me had combined shrimp and watermelon. If I hadn’t already thoroughly enjoyed the salad for dinner, I may have been alarmed by our elevator interaction. The story was entirely different when lunch rolled around and I found myself enjoying this salad with a few female coworkers. They loved it and couldn’t wait to see it here on CLK.

It may just be that this one is for the ladies. What do you think?

Shrimp, Watermelon & Cucumber Salad

Spray a small saucepan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Season ½ pound of shrimp with ½ teaspoon creole seasoning. If you don’t have creole seasoning, try using a seasoning mix with a little kick – or, stick with traditional salt and pepper.

When the saucepan is warm, add the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes on each side until pink. Meanwhile, cut 1.5 cups watermelon into bite-sized (about 1 inch) pieces. I used a melon-baller, which makes the whole process much easier and cleaner, especially when cutting watermelon on the rind. Cut 1 medium cucumber in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Keeping the skin on, cut into bite sized pieces about the same size as the watermelon.

For the dressing, mix the juice of 1 lemon, 2 teaspoons agave nectar (or honey if you don’t have it), and 1 teaspoon olive oil.

Toss the cucumber and watermelon with 3 cups mixed greens and 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese. Divide onto two plates (or Tupperware – keep reading for storage tips), top with shrimp, drizzle with dressing, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and enjoy!

To pack this salad for lunch, put the watermelon on the bottom of your container. It will release some water over the day, so it’s best to keep it on the bottom rather than on top of the greens. On top of the watermelon, add the cucumbers, then the greens, and top it off with the feta. Carry the dressing separately, or get these amazing containers that my roommate brought home!

Yield: 2 servings. Per Serving: $6.36, 257 calories, 6g fat, 25g carbs, 29g protein.