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!

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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!

Potato Chips

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Once upon a time (about a week ago), I though making potato chips at home was hard. For some reason I assumed it included either frying the potatoes or baking them in the oven at a low temperature for a long time. I thought I wouldn’t be able to cut the potatoes thin enough without a very sharp knife or a mandolin. I was so wrong. So, so wrong.

This is the easiest recipe I could ever post – it’s so easy it might not even be considered a recipe. It’s almost easier than opening a bag of store bought potato chips. And you can add whatever seasonings you want!

Please, please (I beg you), try this for the Super Bowl this weekend. Your friends will be extremely impressed and you’ll never buy a bag of potato chips again.

Potato Chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Slice 1 russet potato into 1/8 inch slices and arrange on baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip over. Bake in 5 minute increments, removing chips as they brown, until all of the chips are cooked.

Yield: 2 servings. Per Serving: $0.52, 82 calories, 0g fat, 24g carbs, 1g protein.

Mac & Cheese Bites

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Chicken wings, buffalo sauce, and potato chips are flying off the grocery store shelves this week – the Super Bowl is just under a week away. I’m not a huge football fan (and the Patriots are out of the running) but I love any opportunity to get friends together to enjoy good company and good food. In honor of the Super Bowl, I’ll be sharing two party-friendly dishes this week in an effort to prove that you don’t have to succumb to the usual greasy, fattening snacks to please the crowd and have a good time.

These baked mac and cheese bites are healthy and budget friendly at just 50 cents per serving. You could, of course, use any homemade mac and cheese recipe for these, but I’ve saved calories by swapping tofu for some of the cheese. You won’t be able to tell a difference and the creamy tofu adds protein. Put those chicken wings back on the shelf and whip up these instead!

Mac & Cheese Bites

 

Cook 2 cups whole wheat elbow macaroni according to package directions. Sauté ½ cup diced onion in 1 tablespoon butter until soft. Stir in 1 tablespoon of flour and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add ½ cup of milk and ¾ cup silken tofu and simmer until the mixture thickens, about 6 minutes. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Add 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese and macaroni. Chill in refrigerator at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.

Set up three bowls, one with ½ cup flour, one with 2 beaten eggs, and one with 2 cups panko breadcrumbs. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove mac and cheese from refrigerator and form into balls using an ice cream scoop. Roll in flour, dip in egg, and roll in bread crumbs. Place the prepared bites on a cookie drying rack on top of a baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve with marinara sauce.

Yield: 16 servings. Serving size: 1 bite. Per Serving: $0.50, 170 calories, 5g fat, 25g carbs, 7g protein.

Thanksgiving Round-Up

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I feel a little guilty for not posting more Thanksgiving-themed recipes this week. Thanksgiving is like the Olympics of food events and I feel like I’m not doing it justice! I had every intention of sharing something new for your Thanksgiving feast. Last week, I attempted to make pomegranate-glazed Brussels sprouts but failed. It was a good idea in concept, but the finished product was a strange brownish reddish green color and tasted pretty sour. It wasn’t pretty.

To make up for my lack turkey-inspired recipes, here are a few past recipes that would be perfect additions to your Thanksgiving dinner. Have a happy turkey day!

Thanksgiving Round-Up

  • Sriracha Kale Chips: Crisp up a head of kale while the turkey is in the oven. These are a great snack to have on hand while everyone is hanging (or helping) out before dinner.
  • Butternut Squash Soup: Try soup instead of mashed butternut squash – this would be a perfect appetizer before the main Thanksgiving meal.
  • Oven-Fried Tomatoes: Not a traditional side dish for Thanksgiving, but sure to be a welcome addition to the table.
  • Simple Apple Pie: A classic turkey day dessert – make sure to save some room!

Green Mac & Cheese with Spinach & Peas

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Nachos, chocolate fondue, and this green mac and cheese were on the menu for a Halloween-themed gathering my roommates and I hosted at our apartment last week. The objective of the night was simple: get our favorite girlfriends together to eat, drink, and chat. The fact that it was Halloween was, frankly, unimportant and apparent only by the décor and Hocus Pocus playing in the background. Sometimes we need a simple excuse to get together in the same room to catch up and enjoy each other’s company. Sadly, it doesn’t happen often enough! The night was a success and this dish was the star of the menu – everyone kept going back for more!

Green Mac & Cheese

Cook 1 pound of pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, sauté 1/2 cup onion in 1 tablespoon butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the onions are translucent, add a 6 ounce bag baby spinach and a 16 ounce bag frozen peas. Cook until spinach is wilted and peas are cooked through, stirring frequently.

Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper and reduce heat to low. Add 2 cups low-fat milk and heat until warm. Remove from heat and blend (preferably using a hand blender) the mixture until smooth.

Slowly add the pasta and 1.5 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, stirring frequently to combine. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray and head oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour the mac and cheese mixture into the baking pan and top with ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese and 3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes or until top starts to brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings. Serving size: 1¼ cups. Per Serving: $1.31, 409 calories, 12g fat, 56g carbs, 19g protein.

Oven-Fried Tomatoes

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During my recent visit home to Vermont, I picked up three pounds of beautiful organic tomatoes from my mom’s farm share. They were so perfect and delicious I ate a few like you would eat an apple. I was very inspired to experiment with them, but a little hesitant since they really didn’t need much help.

This technique was a success. Baking the tomatoes brought out their natural sweetness and by oven-frying, it stayed very healthy. After I had already committed, I realized I didn’t have any breadcrumbs – so I made my own! These would be great as an appetizer or a side dish.

Oven-Fried Tomatoes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Toast 4 pieces whole wheat bread until dark brown and set aside to cool. Slice 3 large beefsteak  into ¼ inch pieces and lay out on a cutting board. Pat dry with a paper towel and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Crumble the toast into a bowl to make breadcrumbs.

Set up three bowls – one with ¼ cup flour, another with 2 beaten eggs, and a third with the toast breadcrumbs. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a baking rack on top (one that you would cool cookies on). Spray the rack with cooking spray.

Dip each piece of tomato in the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs. Place the tomatoes on the baking rack. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings. Per Serving: $1.64, 183 calories, 4g fat, 29g carbs, 9.5g protein.

Spinach Tomato Baked Mac & Cheese

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A few things to love about Fall: foliage, apple picking, sweaters, and pumpkin flavored everything. Although the days are shorter and the air is cooler, it is my favorite season. I only wish it would last longer!

In addition to the aforementioned reasons, Fall is great because with it signifies the ability to use the oven guilt-free. There are few things worse than trying to bake or roast in the oven in 95 degree weather – which is why most summer recipes involve very little stove or oven time. Now that the seasons are changing, the possibilities are endless. Bring on the casseroles, muffins, breads, roasted root vegetables, and lasagnas (oh my!).

Homemade baked macaroni and cheese is perfect for cooler weather – it’s warm, gooey, and cheesy. This recipe is also light and colorful with tomatoes and spinach so you can get your serving of vegetables. You could eat it as your main meal, or serve it up as a side to a protein. Something roasted would be fitting – like chicken, perhaps?

Spinach Tomato Baked Mac & Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook 3 cups penne according to package directions. Saute ¼ cup diced onion in 1 teaspoon olive oil for 4 minutes until translucent. Add 3 cups baby spinach and cook until wilted. Meanwhile, slice 2 roma tomatoes into ¼ inch slices and toast 1 slice whole wheat bread. When the bread is toasted, dice into ¼ inch squares. In a large mixing bowl, combine penne, spinach mixture, ¼ cup part skim ricotta cheese, ¼ cup part skim shredded mozzarella cheese, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Spray a 9×9 or equivalent baking dish with cooking spray and add pasta mixture. Top with tomato slices, toasted bread pieces, and 1 tablespoon part skim shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake in oven for 25 minutes.

Yield: 3 servings. Per Serving: $1.89, 306 calories, 7g fat, 53g carbs, 13g 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.