Loaded Zucchini Hummus

Loaded Zucchini Hummus

Loaded zucchini hummus is a fun way to use up summer’s surplus of seasonal zucchini! Blend chargrilled zucchini into a garlicky hummus recipe, and top with a chopped Mediterranean salad of cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes, Kalamata olives and dill in a lemon-olive oil dressing! Perfect served with toasted pita.

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Spaghetti with Tempeh Sausage Marinara and Artichokes

Spaghetti with Tempeh Sausage Marinara and Artichokes

This spaghetti with tempeh sausage marinara is a weeknight version of one of my favorite weekend dishes! It swaps crumbled tempeh seasoned with sage, fennel, basil and oregano for sausage to make it a vegetarian meal. Add artichokes for veggies and texture! This easy recipe takes less than 30 minutes hands on time!

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Citrus and Arugula Salad with Fennel and Marcona Almonds

Citrus and Arugula Salad with Fennel and Marcona Almonds

This citrus arugula salad with fennel and marcona almonds is a simple, seasonal salad for winter, perfect as a side dish or for topping with grilled shrimp or roasted fish as a main. It's packed with Mediterranean flavors from crunchy marcona almonds, fennel and kalamata olives. You'll love the simple sherry vinaigrette! 

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Simple White Bean Soup with Smoked Paprika Oil, Feta and Kalamata Olives

Simple White Bean Soup with Smoked Paprika Oil, Feta and Kalamata Olives

Have you heard of soup bling? It's my favorite way to fancy up easy soups, like this simple white bean soup with smoked paprika oil, feta, and kalamata olives. Even without the toppings, this soup is PACKED with flavor, despite it's simple ingredients list. Make extra and freeze for later! 

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Caesar Salad Pita Pizza with Olive Caesar Dressing Recipe

Caesar Salad Pita Pizza with Olive Caesar Dressing Recipe

Combine two Italian restaurant favorites with this Caesar salad pita pizza recipe! Make this 30 minute meal by topping a whole grain pita pizza with a vegetarian Caesar salad tossed with an olive Caesar dressing made from California ripe olives!

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Gazpacho Pasta Salad

This whole grain gazpacho pasta salad is packed with cucumbers, tomatoes and is the perfect make ahead lunch for back to school time. 

I was asked to participate in the #PastaFits campaign as part of my work with Healthy Aperture Blogger Network. I was compensated for my time. Thanks for supporting the brands that help make Avocado A Day Nutrition possible! 

Hey guys! Excited to bring you the first of a 3-post collaboration with Pasta Fits! If you glance at my archives (or in my cabinet for that matter), you'd quickly see that I'm a big fan of pasta. Like, huge.

The theme for the first month of #PastaFits is back to school. Whether you have kids or not, September seems to be that time of the year when many start to settle down from a summer full of indulgence with healthier goals in mind. Of course, the holidays are right around the corner, making this month critical for establishing and solidifying healthier habits to take you through the smorgasbord coming straight at ya in November.

A great goal to start with is planning and preparing a healthy lunch on the weekend. Spend just 30 minutes prepping a big batch of whole grain based salad and you've got a third of your meals covered. BAM.

If you're looking for a family friendly salad to last all week, look no further than pasta salad. I mean, who doesn't like pasta? No really, who? I'm curious to know if there is one single person. My hypothesis is that every single human being who has ever experienced pasta loves it, but I could be wrong. Probably not though.

Sadly, there's a much larger number of people who absolutely love pasta who don't eat it because they think it's unhealthy. Ain't that a shame. First of all, there's always room for foods that bring you joy. But also, pasta is perfectly nutritious. My top choice is 100% whole grain, which is made with all whole grain flour. Whole grains are great for all sorts of things - cholesterol, weight management, keeping you full, and keeping your blood sugar steady.

Guess what else is good for blood sugar control? Pasta salad! Really! Studies have shown that cooking and cooling pasta helps lower the glycemic index even further. Once the starches in pasta are cooled, they turn into something called resistant starch. Similar to fiber, resistant starch doesn't break down into glucose, or sugar. This also means you absorb less calories and it feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut.

Another thing to love about pasta salad: it's an easy way to use up leftovers. As I learned this weekend hanging out with mostly parents, not wasting leftovers is a constant battle parents go through. Simply add leftover vegetables or proteins to this salad which bulks it up throughout the week. Garbanzo beans, other cheeses, broccoli, carrots, peppers, and zucchini would all be tasty tossed in here.

Gazpacho Pasta Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces 100% whole grain penne
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/3 cup basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • pine of red chili flakes
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and diced small
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped small
  • 1/4 cup black olives, chopped
  • 1 8 ounce ball of mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add penne and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside to cool.
  2. While pasta is cooking, add canned tomatoes, basil, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, chili flakes and sugar to a food processor. Blend until pureed. Season with salt and black pepper.
  3. Place diced vegetables, olives and cheese in a large bowl. Add dressing. When cooled a bit, add pasta and toss to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Will last 5 days in the fridge.

More delicious pasta dinners that show how #PastaFits:

Spaghetti with Tempeh Sausage Marinara and Artichokes
Spaghetti with Tempeh Sausage Marinara and Artichokes
Pasta with Creamy Sage Pumpkin Sauce, Cremini Mushrooms and Peas
Pasta with Creamy Sage Pumpkin Sauce, Cremini Mushrooms and Peas
Spaghetti with Clam and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Braised Kale
Spaghetti with Clam and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Braised Kale

Vegan Tempeh Taco Salad with Cashew Sour Cream

A vegan take on taco salad made with tempeh and cashew sour cream. The whole family will love this plant based meal! 

Just a quickie post for you today, sharing a tasty little vegan salad I whipped up a few months ago. My kitchen creativity has been waning the past couple weeks, so I had to dig through the archives for an awesome recipe with pictures to match.

Even though I passed over this recipe the first time around doesn’t make it any less worthy of being shared. However, because I did have a full weekend of work, plans to celebrate one of my best friends 30th birthdays Sunday night, and an early morning class I'm teaching on Monday, it isn’t worthy of me chatting about it more than this! 

Enjoy!

Vegan Tempeh Taco Salad with Cashew Sour Cream

Serves 4-6ish

Ingredients

Tempeh Taco Meat: 

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 8 ounces tempeh, crumbled

  • 3 tablespoons salt free taco seasoning

Salad: 

  • Chopped romaine lettuce

  • Canned black beans, drained and rinsed

  • Halved cherry tomatoes

  • Chopped black olives

  • Sliced radishes

  • Diced avocado

  • Roughly broken tortilla chips

Creamy Salsa Dressing

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water at least 2 hours and drained

  • 1 cup salsa verde

Instructions

  1. First, make the dressing. Blend cashews and salsa verde together in a blender until smooth and creamy. Season to taste with salt.

  2. Next, make the vegan tempeh taco meat. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute 5 minutes until tender. Add tempeh, taco seasoning, and saute 5 minutes until lightly browned and slightly crispy.

  3. While tempeh is sautéing, toss together salad ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle with creamy salsa dressing and toss to combine. Serve topped with tempeh taco meat.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and Couscous Kale Salad

 A whole roasted head of cauliflower makes a gorgeous presentation, especially when served over a whole grain couscous and kale salad with sun dried tomato pesto. 

You heard it here first - cauliflower is the new kale.  Yup, that mushy white vegetable you pushed off your plate as a child is poised to make a comeback.  Just like kale can move seamlessly from chip, to smoothie, to sturdy salad green, cauliflower can go from a low calorie stand in for mashed potatoes, to spicy pureed soup, to a creamy yet crispy fritter.  You can even make them taste as good as French fries.  

Not only does cauliflower rival kale on versatility, but it rocks in the nutrition department too. It's hard to compete with kale’s perfect score on the ANDI scale, but cauliflower is no iceberg lettuce.  If you've been avoiding cauliflower, following the flawed "if it's white, don't bite" rule (which is a kinda dumb rule imo), you'll be pleased to know cauliflower is a nutrition powerhouse, right up there with it's cousins broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and (hey!) kale!

Vitamin C

Citrus fruits may be known for vitamin C, but one cup of cauliflower actually contains 85% daily value for the powerful antioxidant nutrient.As most of you already know, vitamin C also plays a role in immune function.Vitamin C is also associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, joint disease and cataracts.

Antioxidants

Cauliflower contains a wide range of antioxidant nutrients other than vitamin C. Other nutrients with an antioxidant effect include beta-carotene, caffenic acid, cinnamic acid, quercetin and kaempferol.

Cancer Protection

Cruciferious vegetables, like cauliflower, seem to play a special role in cancer prevention, especially for cancers of the stomach and lung. These vegetables are rich sources of glucosinolates, a sulfur containing compound that is transformed into indoles and isothiocyanates. These compounds reduce the risk of cancer by helping our body detox dietary and environmental carcinogens after turning them into a less toxic and more easily excreted compound.

Vitamin K

Cauliflower is a good source of vitamin K, a group of vitamins usually associated with green leafy vegetables.  Vitamin K is an important nutrient for blood coagulation.  It helps our body get the balance between too sticky (heart attack) and too thin (bleed out from a paper cut).  Adequate vitamin K intake is also associated with a lower risk of fractures, as it helps stop the activity of osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone, and promote the activity of osteocalcin, which is associated with bone density. Studies have also indicated a link between serum levels of vitamin K and a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

The glucosinolates in cauliflower also seem to play a role in modulating our inflammatory response, which decreases the risk of many chronic diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. One specific type of glucosinolate, called glucoraphanin, seems to specifically trigger anti-inflammatory activity in the cardiovascular system, which can help prevent and possibly reverse blood vessel damage.

Over the past couple years, I've racked up quite a few recipes for whole roasted cauliflower.  Now that I've made it, I'm not sure what took me so long to finally make it. It makes for such a stunning presentation! And if you're still not convinced cauliflower is the new kale, it's served over a kale and couscous salad.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and Couscous Kale Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

Cauliflower:

  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed of leaves and core removed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pesto:

  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated in hot water if needed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Salad:

  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 10 ounces kale, stems removed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, mincedSalt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Drizzle the head of cauliflower with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking dish and roast for about an hour to an hour fifteen until well browned on the outside and tender on the inside.
  3. Meanwhile, blend all pesto ingredients together in a food processor and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Heat 1 cup of water (or broth) in a small pot. Add couscous, cover and remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes then fluff with a fork.
  5. Place kale in a large serving bowl. Top with warm couscous to wilt slightly. If you like it more wilty, just pop it in the microwave for a minute or two. Add olives and walnuts, toss to combine. Whisk together oil, lemon juice and garlic, season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over salad and toss to combine.
  6. Make a layer of salad on a large serving dish. Top with cauliflower and drizzle pesto over the top of the cauliflower. Slice into chunks and serve with salad and extra pesto.

Greek Giant Beans with Spinach, Tomatoes and Olives Recipe

Greek Giant Beans with Spinach, Tomatoes and Olives Recipe

Greek giant beans with spinach, tomatoes and olives makes for a super satisfying vegetarian meal! It’s packed with veggies, and flavor! Budget-friendly using frozen spinach, canned tomatoes and dried beans. Make extras and freeze for later!

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Heirloom Chopped Caprese Salad

Heirloom Chopped Caprese Salad

Make the most of summer's best tomatoes with this heirloom chopped caprese salad. Feel free to use this recipe as a template. Add toasted bread cubes to make a panzanella salad. Add white beans or tofu cubes to increase the protein content. Serve over arugula or mixed greens or chopped cucumber to add more veggies. It's a perfect make ahead for picnics! 

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The Best Chopped Side Salad

The Best Chopped Side Salad

The BEST chopped side salad recipe! It’s not your ordinary boring old side salad with just tomatoes and cucumbers. This simple chopped side salad is made with chopped greens tossed with crunchy radish and cucumber, sharp cheddar, creamy avocado, and nutty toasted walnut with a mustard vinaigrette. Bring this chopped side salad to your next cookout!

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