Spice Apple Cider

IMG_2907OMG…buy some apples, get out your juicer and make this cider right now. Or even better, make this cider, put it in a to-go cup and head straight for the pumpkin patch. If you follow these commands directions, your Fall will be complete.  I promise. There is something so nostalgic about apple cider. It transports me straight back to the days hyper color t-shirts were still cool (I am afraid they will make a comeback), when my mom would bring home jugs of freshly pressed apple cider. It was the perfect way to warm up after a crisp fall day. To this day, she still has the fridge stocked with apple cider during the holidays.

If you don’t have a juicer, please don’t turn your back on this recipe. You can still make homemade apple cider by using the old school (and flavorful) boiling method. Quarter your apples and place them in a large pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the apples. Add the spices to the pot. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for an hour or until the apples are very mushy. Once apples are mushy, mash with a potato masher. Place a very fine colander over a large bowl. Drain the apple mixture. And there you have it- apple cider without a juicer.

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Salmon + Avocado Lettuce Wraps

IMG_2897People often ask me how I come up with recipes. It usually happens at random times, when I am least expecting it.  An idea will  pop into my head as I am drifting off to sleep, while I am at the grocery store and a piece of seasonal produce jumps out at me, or on the tail end of a run when I am using my thoughts to distract myself from my tired legs. Today my recipe idea came to me while I was driving by a giant billboard. “Fresh. Bold. Spicy. Lettuce Wraps”. In an instant I went from not having a single thought of lettuce wraps to craving them. The gotta have it RIGHT now type of crave. This is how my Salmon Avocado Lettuce Wraps with Caesar Dressing came to life. I wanted lettuce wraps, and I wanted them fast.  These wraps are a snap to put together. Cooking the salmon is the most time consuming part of the recipe, and that isn’t hands on. Easy peasy.

Salmon Avocado Wraps work great for a lunch or dinner. They are also a crowd pleaser for entertaining.  Who doesn’t love a lettuce wrap? For a vegetarian version swap the salmon for some quinoa.

The Yogurt Caesar Dressing makes 1 cup, so depending on how saucy you like your wraps ( I like mine saucy), there is usually left over. The dressing will stay fresh in the fridge for up to a week.

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Avocado Pasta

IMG_2709Avocados are hands down one of my all time favorite foods. Rich, creamy, satisfying and delicious.  Avocados go well beyond just tasting fantastic. They are full of fiber, folate, potassium,  vitamin A, C, E, K and B6. Don’t be afraid of the high calorie and fat content of these alligator pears (that’s really their nickname), the calories are health supportive and a majority of the fat is monounsaturated fat. In other words, the fat and calories found in avocados are A-OK.

I most often find myself eating an avocado straight out of the skin, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper. So tasty. So satisfying.  Tonight I switched it up and made a creamy avocado pasta sauce. It was a hit in the Lee household. The avocado lends a buttery texture and mild flavor allowing the lemon and basil to have the spot light. Tossing in a diced tomato adds the perfect amount of color and texture. Taber added a bit of feta and sirracha sauce (note: he adds sirracha to EVERYTHING), but I liked the pasta as is.

Avocado Sauce goes well with all pastas. Fell free to ditch the quinoa pasta and use your favorite pasta or whatever you happen to have in the cupboard.

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Criss-Cross Applesauce

pumpkinsWelcome back, Fall. The switch from summer to fall seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. Grocery stores swiftly change their entrance displays from flowers to pumpkins, the beloved pumpkin spiced latte makes a comeback, and Halloween super stores pop up out of nowhere. There is zero time to mourn the loss of summer. Although it is still 90 degrees here in Austin, I decided to jump on the fall bandwagon by making cinnamon applesauce. Nothing gets me in the mood for fall faster than the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg wafting through the house. I was ready to throw on my leggings, zip up my boots and wrap a scarf around my neck. Then I remembered I live in Austin and the weather won’t chill out until late October (at the earliest). I was tempted to blast the air conditioning in our apartment just so I could pretend it was a perfect brisk fall day, but decided that would be an irresponsible waste of energy. So instead I sat out on my patio in shorts and a tank top and enjoyed my applesauce full of fall flavors.

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Chicken + Feta + Basil Burgers

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Rumor has it meatballs are a trendy food item right now. I had no idea. While I was watching one of my gossip educational shows, Extra,  an editor of People Magazine suggested viewers throw a “meatball party”. Hmmmm if I were to receive an invitation to a meatball party I would expect the entire male cast of Jersey Shore to be there. Meatball/meathead…same thing, right?

Instead of following the trends and making meatballs I decided to make chicken burgers. A distant relative to meatballs. So often chicken burgers start out great, but by the end of the cooking process they have transformed into dry wannabe burgers. When I set out to make these chicken burgers my main goal was to make an extra juicy burger with high flavor. Fresh herbs and mushrooms played a large part in helping me accomplish my goal. Mushrooms add moisture and fresh basil amped up the flavor.

If you aren’t a mushroom lover, this burger is still the burger for you. Taber strongly dislikes mushrooms, so I had to hide them in the recipe. I chopped them up so small he had no idea they were there. I have a horrific poker face, so I let him in on my little secret. Of course, I waited until after he was done with the burger.

These would also be great on the BBQ. Chill for one hour before throwing them on the grill.

To make this recipe gluten free- substitute almond meal for the bread crumbs or omit the bread crumbs all together.

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Thai Broccoli Salad

IMG_2221I have been making this Thai Broccoli Salad for about a year now, and it has become one of my favorite meals.  It is my go-to when I am craving Thai flavors, which is often. I love that it embodies the flavor of Thai without the sodium often found in dishes from Thai restaurants (not all Thai restaurants). Thai flavors with no bloat or MSG- pretty awesome. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a plate of authentic Pad Thai from my fav Thai restaurant every once in a while.  If you find yourself in the same Thai craving boat, give this recipe a try. You will be satisfied.

Thai Broccoli salad  is substantial enough to stand alone or can be served as a side. It would also be great with some added chicken.

Recipe tip- If you don’t have dates at home and aren’t heading to the grocery store, replace dates with 1 tablespoon raw honey.

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Ranchero Quinoa

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I am a self confessed juice bar junkie. I can’t stay away. My favorite juice bar, Juice Land, is a short hop, skip and jump away from my house.  It isn’t just the juices and smoothies that lure me in more than once a week. Juice Land also offers grab and go health supportive, super delish foods. My all time favorite dish  is their Quinoa Ranchero. It is the type of meal that makes you sad when you take the last bite. Has that ever happened to you?  I never want it to be over.  Since the day I tried Quinoa Ranchero it has been on my list of recipes to attempt. As of yesterday, I can officially cross it off the list because I finally made it! It is slightly different than the Juice Land version, but still so good it leaves me wanting more.

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Chocolate + Cherry Tart

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September is a busy birthday month for my family. I’m talkin’ 4 birthdays in 30 days.  Living in another state makes it difficult for us to participate in the family b-day celebrations, but that doesn’t stop us from celebrating. Last night I made a raw chocolate cherry tart in honor of the birthdays. We skipped the candles and singing, but dug in like it was OUR birthday. This may be the richest and most satisfying dessert in the whole entire world and the next universe over. The cherry flavor is very slight. Not too strong. Not too weak. I served it with coconut vanilla bean ice cream. The depth of the tart pairs well with the lightness of the ice cream. Besides the flavor, what I love most about this dessert is all the goodness it entails. Your body will benefit from eating every single ingredient blended into this chocolaty tart…A true rarity when it comes to dessert.

INGREDIENT SPOTLIGHT                                                                                                                                                                               Raw Cacao  

Before the cacao bean is processed with sugar and dairy to make your favorite chocolate bar, it is a packed with vitamins and minerals. Raw cacao, which can be found in the form of butter, nibs, powder or beans, is high in Vitamin C, antioxidants, magnesium and Omega 6s. Ready for a shocker…raw cacao is said to help prevent cavities. Yup-sir-e. Cacao is high in Theobromine, which kills a strain of bacteria that causes cavities. It is also one of the highest food sources of magnesium, which is the most deficient mineral of a modern day diet. Raw cacao is a bit pricey but defiantly worth it for the health benefits.

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Fig + Mint+ Goat Cheese Salad

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How beautiful are these figs? Serious stunners. I was at my second home the grocery store when these pretty little tiger striped figs caught my eye. Figs were not on my shopping list but I couldn’t resist, not that I tried to.  By the time I made my way to the check-out, I had dreamt up an arugula, feta, mint,  and goat cheese salad with a lemon vinaigrette.  The flavor combo of sweet figs, spicy arugula, salty goat cheese and tangy vinaigrette is ah-mazing.

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Get Your Peachy Greens On

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Not ready for summer to be over? You aren’t alone. The perfectly ripe and juicy farmers market peach stands with you. Lucky for them (and you), they still have a few weeks before they will officially be out of season. Although they will  soon say a sad farewell, please don’t fret.  We know peaches will be back in style next summer, unlike bright neon and high wasted shorts.

I used the last peach in the fruit bowl for my Sunday morning smoothie, along with some spinach, apple, kale and mint. The combo of mint and peach took my smoothie to the next level.  The fragrance alone gave me an extra spring in my step. That is quite the fete on a lazy Sunday morning.  It is definitely going down in the books as one of my favs.

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