Cucumber Quinoa Salad with Lemony Vinaigrette

I’m not quite sure how I came across this recipe.  I want to say it’s because we had a cucumber in our produce box, but with the service we use (Imperfect Produce – link to site and also I have written about them in the past) we get to pick what’s in there.  I don’t really make a lot of stuff with cucumber, so I’m hesitant to think I’d pick a cucumber.  I think it could have also been that we had some old quinoa lying around and I don’t cook very often with quinoa so I needed some recipe inspiration.  That’s where this Cucumber Quinoa Salad from Gimme Some Oven comes in!

This salad is super easy to make and also very filling and tasty.  It makes a great lunch, side dish, or even dinner on a hot summer day.  I follow the instructions very closely to the original, but I have noticed that it can take about 50% more quinoa and still be tasty.  So if you want to spread out the salad a bit with more quinoa, that works great.  I sometimes use 3 cups cooked quinoa instead of the recommended 2 cups.

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Salad Ingredients:
1 cucumber, diced
2 cups cooked and chilled quinoa
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 roughly chopped basil leaves
1 batch lemony vinaigrette (see below)

Lemony Vinaigrette Ingredients:
1/4 cup extra virgin oil
2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning blend
Pinch of salt and pepper

Instructions:
Combine all salad ingredients into a large bowl and mix.  Combine all Lemony Vinaigrette ingredients into a smaller bowl and whisk together.  Pour Lemony Vinaigrette mixture onto salad and mix one last time.

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“Pulled Pork” AKA BBQ Sweet Potato Sammies with All of the Slaws!

This sandwich, as the post title states, is a vegetarian take on pulled pork.  Personally, I find it just as delicious and it’s super easy to make.  It makes a great lunch because you can simply make it the night before and you’ll have plenty to bring for a few days of lunches.  Plus, it’s great because it goes great with a variety of different slaws, which I’ll include below too.

BBQ Sweet Potato Sammies

Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes
BBQ sauce of your choosing (4-5 tbsp is good – feel free to add more/less. I like more.)
Olive Oil cooking spray
Buns (for sandwich)
Some kind of slaw (directions below)

Directions:

  1. Wash and skin sweet potatoes.  I usually just like to cut off the top/bottom of the potatoes and remove any weird spots from the skin.
  2. Shred potatoes.  You can either use a cheese grater for this, or you can use a spiralizer machine.  The spiralizer machine will cut your potatoes into curls, but I usually just take the curls and chop them up a little.  This is the easiest way, but the cheese grater method makes it a little more like a pulled pork texture.  I’d say if you’re making this for a party, use the cheese grater.  If you’re making it for yourself, use the spiralizer.

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  3. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray.  Once it’s heated up, cook your potatoes for 10 minutes.  Stirring semi-constantly.
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  4. After the 10 minutes, add your BBQ sauce and cook while stirring for another  5 minutes.
  5. You’re done!  Time to make the slaw.

For the slaw, I’m not the biggest fan of regular coleslaw (too much mayo), but I’m sure this will taste just fine with that.  I prefer vinegar based slaws, so here are a few I’ve made and I think taste really great with the BBQ sweet potatoes.

Clean Eating Mango Slaw

This slaw adds a nice sweet and salty flavor to your sammy.  I found this recipe on iFoodReal.

Ingredients:
1 lb white cabbage, shredded (thinly sliced is fine too)
1 large mango, diced
3 tbsp cilantro
1 tbsp white vinegar (or 2 if you’re like me and love vinegar)
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:  Combine all ingredients and toss in a large bowl!

Red Cabbage Slaw

This is a nice crunchy and colorful slaw to add to your BBQ sweet potatoes.  I found this recipe on Real Housemoms.

Ingredients:
1/2 red cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 medium carrots, shredded
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Directions: Toss ingredients together in a bowl and let sit for at least one hour.

Ginger Lime Asian Slaw

This slaw adds a nice sweet, but tangy flavor.  It’s a bit more involved than the first two, but it’s worth it.  I found this recipe on Real Food Real Deals.

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Ingredients:
8 cups Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
3 carrots, grated
1 apple, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced onion
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp rice vinegar

Directions:

    1. Combine cabbage, carrots, apple, salt, and lime juice into a large bowl.
    2. In a medium skillet, cook the onion, in 1 tbsp olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Add ginger and cook for another 30 seconds.
    3. In a bowl, mix together remaining tbsp of olive oil, honey, and rice vinegar.  Add the veggies from the pan.
    4. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and mix.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Imperfect Produce

Do you live in California? Do you live in the Bay Area?  Do you eat produce?  Awesome, keep reading.  BUT, even if you don’t live on those areas you should still keep reading to see if there is something similar in your area.  If you don’t eat produce, well, you can probably stop reading.

So what IS Imperfect Produce? Basically, they take produce that is not “pretty” enough for the grocery store and sell it to you!  The best part? They deliver.

Tons of produce is rejected from grocery stores just because it doesn’t look nice.  Perhaps the potatoes are a weird shape, there’s a scar on the zucchini, or the onion is too small.  These are all reasons perfectly good food will be rejected by the grocery store and then ultimately discarded!

With Imperfect, you can choose what size box you want as well as the contents of your box.  You can choose a mixed box, just fruit, or just veggies.  Each week you customize your box by choosing the type and quantity of produce you’d like to receive.  Then, you pay on the amount and type of produce you choose, plus a small shipping fee. In San Francisco, it’s $5 and they ship to you every Tuesday evening, so when you wake up Wednesday morning, you have produce!  It’s been a pretty great service so far.  The produce is great quality and the delivery is very reliable.  There is no monthly fee, and if you go away you can choose to skip a week or two.

We’ve been able to try out some new recipes that I normally wouldn’t have tried out because I wasn’t familiar with a recipe for the vegetable.  This has forced me to go out of my comfort zone and try some new things.  Fennel is now a favorite of mine!  Two recipes I was able to try out were this cabbage recipe and this cauliflower recipe.  The cabbage and cauliflower came from our Imperfect box.  So if you’re in the Bay Area, I’d definitely recommend Imperfect, and if you live outside of the Bay Area, I’d recommend searching for something similar near you.

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Our produce box! Each week it comes with some info about why the produce is ugly, the company, and a featured recipe.

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Fennel, Mushrooms, Broccoli, Lemons, Peaches, Nectarines, Zucchini, Lettuce, and Cantaloupe!

 

 

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust!

The time has come… Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust is here!  This recipe is nothing short of a modern day pizza miracle.  Seriously.  While slightly labor intensive, this low calorie, low carb, high fiber crust will make your pizza become everything you want and more.  Just take my word for it and make it.  Inspired by: Delighted Momma

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Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups of spaghetti squash (about 1 very large spaghetti squash or two smaller sized ones)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp of garlic salt
  • 1 cup of mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup of flax meal

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cook your spaghetti squash however you prefer (see my post on cooking spaghetti squash).
  3. Once your spaghetti squash is cooked, use a fork scrape out the insides.  You will now need to squeeze out as much water from the spaghetti squash as possible.  This is very important if you do not want a mushy pizza crust (it is also the most time consuming part of the recipe).  I have found that placing the spaghetti squash in a strainer as it cools is helpful, as well as using two cutting boards to squeeze the squash, just squeezing it with my hands in fist fulls, and using paper towels to absorb extra moisture.
  4. Combine the spaghetti squash and all the other ingredients listed above with your hands.
  5. Line a baking sheet or pizza pan with parchment paper and evenly spread your mixture on it. Make sure you keep the dough pressed together firmly as you spread.
  6. Bake your pizza crust for 25- 30 minutes or until you notice the edges starting to brown.  At the end of the 30 minutes carefully flip your crust and continue to bake for additional 25-30 minutes until pizza is no longer mushy and fully baked through.
  7. Take your crust out and spread on pizza sauce and whatever toppings you love.  Place it back it the oven for a few more minutes to let everything melt and get all bubbly.

How To Cook Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash could possibly be the most amazing vegetable on the planet.  I thought it would be beneficial to do a post on cooking spaghetti squash because I do cook a lot of recipes that involve it.  It’s pretty easy to cook and the hardest part is getting the squash open.  So, without further ado, here’s how you cook a spaghetti squash in 5 simple steps.

1. Buy spaghetti squash (that one’s pretty self explanatory).

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2. Cut spaghetti squash open length-wise.  This can be a little tricky and involves some semi-dangerous knife-work, so be careful!

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3. Scoop out the seeds/middle of the squash.

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4. Place spaghetti squash flat side down on a plate and microwave for 10-12 minutes.

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5. Use a fork to scrape the squash part out of the skin and into a bowl.  Voila!  You have your “spaghetti!”

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***Update – You can also cook it in the oven at 375 for 45-1 hour.  I have also read in the past that cutting the sides off (where the stem is) might make it easier to cut length-wise.  I have also read that microwaving the entire squash for a 2-3 minutes might soften it up and make it easier to cut in half.

Bruschetta + Grilled Chicken

A healthy protein filled bruschetta dinner!  This is a really delicious bruschetta recipe that tastes just like what you’d get in a nice Italian restaurant.  I really like bread, so I doubled the bruschetta recipe below to make a bruschetta appetizer with bread.  Outside of the bruschetta, this dish is super simple, being comprised of basically a grilled/broiled chicken breast and a side arugula salad (with more bruschetta on top, of course!).  If you want to make an appetizer plus the chicken dinner for two, I would recommend doubling the bruschetta recipe, but if you want just the chicken + bruschetta + some for the salad for two, or just bruschetta, the recipe below is MORE than enough.  Plus, it is very healthy, especially if you use part skim mozzarella! Thanks to Skinny Taste for the recipe!
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Ingredients:

3 medium vine ripe tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
3 oz part skim mozzarella, diced
2 chicken breasts
4 cups arugula
bread (optional)

Instructions:

1. Combine onion, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  Set aside.
2. Chop tomatoes and place into a large bowl.
3. Combine with garlic, basil, and onion-balsamic mixture from step 1.  Set aside to sit at least 10 minutes or as long as overnight.
4.  Add in the mozzarella cheese when ready to serve.  Your bruschetta is complete!
5. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Grill or broil (or cook however you please, really!) the chicken and top with the bruschetta.
6. Add arugula and top with some bruschetta. Serve!
 

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Spaghetti Squash Italian Casserole

This is the recipe that transformed my boyfriend and I into spaghetti squash fanatics (or “sketti squash” as we affectionately refer to it as now).  I knew of spaghetti squash because a friend of mine raved about it in college, but I don’t think I ever tasted it.  We try to eat really healthy, and my boyfriend came across this recipe earlier in the year.  It’s still our favorite spaghetti squash recipe, and the best parts about it are that it’s super easy to make, very healthy, and heats up very well (helloooo leftovers)!  Thanks to (Healthy) Vittles and Bits for the original recipe (I have modified it slightly to reflect how I make it)!

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Ingredients:

1 lb ground turkey
3 pressed garlic cloves
2 cups tomato sauce
1 tsp dried oregano/parsley mix (3/4 oregano, 1/4 parsley)
3/4 (6oz) bag of shredded, reduced fat mozzarella cheese
1 large spaghetti squash
1/2 cup Feta cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Place each half face down on a large microwaveable plate and microwave for 10 minutes on high.
3.  While the squash is cooking in the microwave, brown the ground turkey over medium heat. Add in the garlic, tomato sauce, oregano/parsley mix seasoning.  Mix together.  Stir in 1/2 of shredded mozzarella.
4. When the squash is finished cooking, let cool for a few minutes.  Then scrape out the insides of the squash halves using a fork into a 9×13 pan (if it is not a non-stick pan, spray with some olive oil cooking spray).  The spaghetti squash should be the first layer on the bottom of the pan.
5. Spoon the ground turkey mixture on top of the spaghetti squash.
6. Sprinkle the feta cheese and the rest of the mozzarella cheese on top and bake uncovered for about 20-25 minutes.
7.  After 20-25 minutes, broil for 3-5 minutes (500 degrees) until the cheese is nice and browned on top.
8. Serve!

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