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Posts tagged “Heart healthy

Black Grape, Walnut, & Blue Cheese Salad

with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

Black Grape, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

I found some gorgeous big, juicy, crunchy black grapes at the grocery store the other day. I am not really much of a grape lover (unless it’s WINE!), but my kids like them, so I decided to bring some black grapes home for the teenagers. But my kids didn’t eat them. I even put some in a little container for my daughter for a before-dance snack, but she didn’t touch them. I kept reminding my son that they were there … no luck.

So it seems like I’m stuck eating the grapes. I tried to think of a way to eat them that I would actually enjoy and the first thing that came to mind is a salad. I thought if I added some crunchy walnuts and blue cheese, that would probably make them palateable. And you know what? It worked! I think I may actually start LIKING grapes …

Black Grape, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

Black Grape, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

Red or green grapes would work nicely in this salad too. Red ones would add more color, too!

  • Mixed greens
  • Black grapes, sliced or halved
  • Walnuts, toasted
  • Blue cheese crumbles
  • Vanilla Ginger Yogurt dressing (recipe below)

Prepare the dressing and set aside. Fill your salad bowl most of the way with mixed greens. Add a generous amount of grapes and toss to mix. Top with some toasted walnuts and blue cheese crumbles and drizzle with the Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing.

Black Grape, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

  • 1/3 cup vanilla lowfat yogurt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger root
  • milk or rosewater, to thin

In a small bowl, mix the vanilla yogurt with the grated ginger root. Add milk or rosewater as needed (I used a little of each) to thin out the yogurt to the right consistency to drizzle properly.

This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous FridaysScrumptious SundayAll my Bloggy FriendsTuesday Talent Show, Tasty Tuesday, Newlyweds Recipe Linky, Show & Share Wednesday and Lifeologia’s Birthday Party Potluck.


Fairy Tale Tomato, Corn & Bread Salad

with Great Northern Beans & Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Tomato  and Bread Salad: something's missing ...

Have you ever made something once and thought “it’s good, but it really ought to be better?” Yeah, that’s what happened here. The first time I made it I used a great big eggplant and I tried cooking it on the grill. Except my coals ran out of heat and the eggplant didn’t get properly cooked and it was this awful rubbery texture. I ended up picking all of the eggplant out of my salad that night and just eating the tomatoes with the corn and bread … not that that was a BAD thing, it was quite delightful that way. I just hated wasting the lovely eggplant …

So: take 2. This time I used a couple of my fairy tale eggplant. If you’ve not seen fairy tale eggplant, they are those tiny purple eggplant that look SO adorable because they are about finger sized or a little bigger, maybe half my hand size?  You never have to peel them or salt them because their skins are perfectly tender and they are never bitter. If you’re inexperienced with eggplant, fairy tale eggplant are a good place to start. This time was definitely better … but something was missing … oh my gosh! the corn! I totally forgot the corn. Okay, so I went and grabbed some corn from the freezer, cooked it up and added it … ah! much better!

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Tomato, Corn and Bread Salad

Fairy Tale Tomato, Corn & Bread Salad

Adapted from Williams Sonoma. For one hearty serving or two small “sides”:

  • 2-4 fairy tale eggplant (about 1/2 cup after roasting/chopping)
  • 1 cup fresh garden tomato, chopped into bite-size chunks
  • 1/2 cup cooked white beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup cooked corn, drained
  • 2 slices of sweet onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups toasted whole wheat bread cubes (about 1 inch in size … or smaller … to your liking)
  • A few fresh basil & tarragon leaves
  • A few roasted sunflower seeds
  • Tahini yogurt ranch dressing (recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Slice the fairy tale eggplant lengthwise in 1/2-inch slices. (You can use other eggplant in place of Fairy Tale, but you may need to peel them first.) Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set the eggplant on the baking sheet. Spray them with cooking spray and sprinkle with a bit of salt or Red Robin Seasoning. Roast the eggplant in the oven or toaster oven at 400 for about 10 minutes or until they are tender.
  2. While the eggplant are cooking, chop the tomato and onion and heat the white beans and corn up. Also, set the bread cubes on another oiled baking sheet  and let them toast in the oven for the last few minutes of the eggplant roasting or until the cubes are lightly browned and toasted.
  3. Chop the eggplant into bite-size chunks. In your salad bowl, toss the eggplant, tomato, corn and onion till well mixed. Gently fold in the toasted bread cubes, drizzle with tahini ranch dressing and sprinkle with fresh herbs and sunflower seeds.

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Tomato, Corn and Bread Salad

Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

  • 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 1 Tablespoon light mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup mixed fresh herbs (I used rosemary, basil, thyme, tarragon, oregano, parsley … dill would be wonderful too, but my dill plant has died off)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more to taste as needed) + freshly ground pepper to taste.

In a handi chopper or food processor, blend all ingredients till the herbs and garlic are well chopped and the mixture is fairly smooth. Taste the dressing and add salt and/or pepper to taste. Store any leftover dressing in a covered container in the fridge.

This recipe was shared at Cast Party WednesdayFriday Favorites and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Chocolate, Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

Chocolate Fruit & Nut Energy Bites

Chocolate craving! Time for something chocolatey good. With nuts. Yes LOTS of nuts. Oh and some peanut butter. Dried fruit in there … ah yes. And to add a little bit more healthy yumminess, some oats.

Roll it all into a little ball and what do you have? A quick, healthy snack. Not one you want to eat a LOT of at one sitting because they are a bit calorific, but something you can grab on the go when you need a little energy, especially before or after a good workout. An energy byte! (Terrible geeky pun intended.)

I like to eat one of these for a bit of dessert after a good meal, or when I am running out the door and need something fast to grab for a quick bit of energy. Or when you need a quick chocolate fix, but you don’t want to totally destroy your healthy eating plan. A little bit of chocolate and a few nuts every day are very good for your health.

Chocolate Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

Chocolate, Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

You could use a good quality dark chocolate in place of the almond bark and cocoa powder. I just didn’t have enough on hand, so I decided to make my own “chocolate”!

  • 2 squares of almond bark (or white chocolate)
  • 4 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 3 Tablespoons of Chocolate PB2 powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2/3 cup nuts (I used a mix of peanuts and cashews)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped into bits
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions:

  1. Melt the almond bark in a medium mixing bowl in the microwave by microwaving on high for 1 minute, stir, microwave for 30 seconds, stir again, keep microwaving for 30 seconds/stirring until the white almond bark is completely melted.
  2. Stir in the dark cocoa powder, PB2 powder, vanilla and peanut butter and stir until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Stir in the oats, nuts, cranberries and apricot bits until everything is coated in chocolate. Form the mixture into balls and set on a tray. Sprinkle the bytes with a bit of coarse sea salt.
  4. Set it in the fridge until the chocolate is set, then transfer to a covered storage container. You can store these at room temperature or in the fridge, as you prefer. I like to eat them at room temperature so I’m not bothering to refrigerate mine. They aren’t going to last that long anyway!

Chocolate Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

This recipe was shared at Katherine Martinelli’s Nut BloghopShare it SaturdayLunch Box Linky and Scrumptious Sunday.


Cantaloupe Walnut Salad w Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing

Cantaloupe & Toasted Walnut Salad with Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing

I went into the kitchen to get a cup of chai this morning. It was nearing lunchtime and when I reached into the fridge to grab the milk, the cantaloupe reached out to me. I came out of the kitchen with this salad. I got so caught up in the salad that I had to go back into the kitchen for the tea.

You must try this salad. It is pure simplicity to make, but tastes like heaven, especially if you can find yourself a really good juicy sweet cantaloupe. The sweet maple syrup with the mint and the tangy yogurt perfectly balance the juicy muskmelon and the crunch of the nuts. The mixed greens just round it all out, adding crunch, color, and variety.

Not to mention your body will love you for it. Every ingredient in this simple salad pitches in to help you feel energized and alive.

Cantaloupe & Toasted Walnut Salad with Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing

Cantaloupe & Toasted Walnut Salad with Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing

Inspired by my Maple Mint Cantaloupe Lassi

  • Mixed greens
  • Fresh cantaloupe, cut into chunks
  • Toasted Walnuts
  • Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing (recipe below)

Mix up the dresssing. Fill your bowl most of the way with greens. Add a generous pile of cantaloupe chunks. Sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of toasted walnuts. Drizzle with the Maple Mint Yogurt dressing to your heart’s content. Garnish with fresh mint leaves or edible flowers if you like. Revel in the wonderful taste of this ultra simple salad.

Cantaloupe & Toasted Walnut Salad with Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing

Maple Mint Yogurt Dressing

  • 1/4  cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • About 1 Tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped fine

In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients. Drizzle generously on the salad. Store any remaining dressing in a covered container in the fridge.

This recipe was shared at Newlyweds Recipe LinkyTastetastic Thursday, Fit & Fabulous Friday and Share it Saturday.


Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

and a Mushroom Cherry Tomato Quinoa Pilaf

Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

Ever since I made Baba Ghanoush, I’ve been wondering: what else could you do with eggplant puree? And then I picked up these HUGE chicken breasts at the store and was marinading them in buttermilk for my daughter and I for dinner … and it occurred to me that these babies would be really good stuffed with something wonderful and creamy. Eggplant puree, with cream cheese! and fresh tarragon and basil! Ah yes! How wonderful would THAT be?

Um yeah, completely wonderful … especially when you serve it over a pilaf of nutty quinoa with garlicky sauteed mushrooms and fresh garden cherry tomatoes.

Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Marinade: buttermilk + seasonings

Eggplant Tarragon Cream Filling:

  • 3/4 cup chopped roasted (or grilled) eggplant
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 oz light cream cheese
  • About 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped mixed basil & tarragon leaves

Directions:

  1. Put the chicken breasts in a bowl and add enough buttermilk to cover them completely. Add seasonings as you like: I added a couple teaspoons of Mrs. Dash and a couple teaspoons of a basic rub seasoning I like to use. Let the chicken marinade in the buttermilk for at least an hour … I left mine in there overnight.
  2. To cook the eggplant, I took a couple of the little purple tender eggplant from mom’s garden, sliced them lengthwise, sprayed them with cooking spray and set on a baking sheet that I’d sprayed with cooking spray. (If you’re using a larger eggplant, you probably want to peel it and slice into 1/4 inch slices.) Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant is soft and tender. Chop the eggplant roughly and toss them into a handi chopper with a couple cloves of garlic, the cream cheese and some fresh tarragon and basil leaves. Pulse to mix it all well and make a good creamy filling.
  3. Now, take the chicken breasts and slice into them horizontally with a small knife, not cutting all the way through so you make a little pocket in each chicken breast. Fill each pocket with half the filling, then close the open end with a toothpick.
  4. Heat up your grill and sear both sides of the chicken breasts on the hot part of the grill, then move them to the cooler part of the grill to cook until they are cooked through.
  5. Serve over a bed of the mushroom cherry tomato quinoa pilaf (recipe below), garnished with a few fresh basil or tarragon leaves.

Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Eggplant Tarragon Cream

Mushroom Cherry Tomato Quinoa Pilaf

  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup of mushrooms sauteed with red wine, garlic, and bruschetta seasoning (see my Chardonnay Mushrooms recipe for instructions)
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • Roasted sunflower seeds

Sautee the mushrooms with a couple cloves of garlic and a splash of red wine like I did with my Chardonnay Mushrooms. Add the hot, cooked quinoa, then the cherry tomatoes and stir gently to mix. Cook for just a few minutes to let the cherry tomatoes heat up. Serve the pilaf sprinkled with a couple tablespoons of sunflower seeds for a nice salty crunch.

This recipe was shared at Cast Party Wednesday, Weekend Potluck1 Month of Fun and Talent Show Tuesday.


Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

My dad loves cantaloupe. He loves it so much that one time he even built a “cantaloupe accelerator” so that his cantaloupe plants would start producing fruit earlier in the season. He doesn’t do the “accelerator” anymore, but he still grows cantaloupe every year, and he has perfected the art of growing them to the point where eating cantaloupe from dad’s garden is almost a spiritual experience. It is the sweetest, most flavorful cantaloupe you have ever tasted …

So we went to visit my parents the other weekend and his cantaloupe are ripe (but he’s having trouble with the gophers eating them … can you blame them for wanting a bite?) He mentioned to me that he and mom have been blending up the cantaloupe with some yogurt and drinking it just like that. I said to him “you mean like a lassi?” … well, he didn’t know it was called a lassi; he just knew he liked blending his cantaloupe with yogurt.

For those of you who don’t know, a Lassi is a drink made with yogurt. It is common in India and Pakastan. I was most familiar with the Mango Lassi which is a blended mango drink with yogurt, but I did a little research and discovered there are many ways to make a lassi: some are spiced and savory, some are fruity and sweet, but all of them are made with yogurt.

Anyway, my dad gave me some cantaloupe to bring home, so I had to try making his Cantaloupe Lassi. I added vanilla because I just love vanilla so much. I also froze some of the cantaloupe chunks to make it extra cold and smooth, almost like a milkshake. My dad is right (as usual!) … a Cantaloupe Lassi is truly a wonderful thing. It’s healthy, it’s cold, it’s quick, it’s easy, but most importantly: it’s delicious!

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

  • 1/2 cup fresh cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt … I have tried both plain (with no sweetener) and vanilla yogurt … I think I like the vanilla better, but they were both really good!
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Pour and drink!

Here’s another delicious variation …

Maple Mint Cantaloupe Lassi

  • 1/2 cup fresh cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • Several fresh mint leaves

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Pour and drink!

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

This recipe was shared at Manic Monday, Melt in your Mouth MondayTotally Tasty Tuesday, 1 Month of Fun and Cast Party Wednesday.


Bulgur Black Bean Salad with Tomato & Avocado

Bulgur Black Bean & Fresh Tomato Salad with Avocado & Jalapeno

My friend gave me some cooked bulgur when we went camping together … in a way, I wonder if she gave it to me just so she could see what I would do with it. I brought it home. It sat in the fridge till I was nearly sure it must have gone bad already … and then, suddenly, I was craving Mexican food. Something with black beans and jalapenos and tomatoes and cilantro and onions. And then it occurred to me what to do with the bulgur: give it a KICK! I made this salad one day last week and munched, munched, munched all afternoon.

Last weekend my friend came up to my parents’ place for the first time EVER, with her hubby and youngest son. We ate antelope & venison that my dad cooked on the grill, dad’s garden potatoes mixed with peppers, spices and cheese and my tarragon roasted vegetables. Then the next day we munched on Dad’s fabulous fresh garden melons. I fed them caramel peach bread pudding, chocolate zucchini cake, and sandwiches made from the roasted veggies and grilled meat (yes, in that order).

And after we had eaten all of that, I remembered  the bulgur salad. Everyone was stuffed, but I made my friend taste a bite of it anyway, since she had given me the bulgur. She loved it, so I sent it home with her.

Bulgur Black Bean Salad with Avocado & Fresh Tomato

I played around a little with stuffing a couple tomatoes with the salad for a pretty presentation … what do you think? (Vegies in the background are stray bounty from my mom & dad’s garden … it’s everywhere!)

Bulgur Black Bean Salad with Fresh Tomato & Avocado

This is a hearty, spicy, flavorful salad that you could serve as a meal all by itself.

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked bulgur
  • 3/4 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 or 2 medium fresh garden tomatoes, chopped

Dressing:

  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped jalapeno (use more or less jalapeno according to how hot & spicy you like it)
  • 1/2 – 1 whole avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped (I only had about 1/2 an avocado, but I think the salad would be tastier with more!)
  • Garnish: cilantro or parsley leaves and a slice of fresh lime

Directions:

  1. Toss together the cooked bulgur, onion, black beans, and tomatoes in a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, cumin, honey, and cilantro (or parsley) until well blended. Gently fold the avocado pieces into the dressing to coat. (This will help keep the avocado from turning black.)
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to mix. Garnish with a twisted slice of lime and some cilantro (or parsley) just before serving.

Bulgur Black Bean Salad with Fresh Tomato, Sweet Onion & Avocado

This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous Friday.


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