Vanilla Almond Granola.

Slightly sweet, crunchy granola with hints of vanilla, almond, and cinnamon flavor!  Surprisingly easy and much more affordable than the store-bought variety.

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School is back in session and this teacher has been going 100 miles a minute! But seriously. The beginning of the school year is always so hectic. Awesome and exciting, too, but also very hectic.

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Know what’s great on hectic mornings?

Vanilla Almond Granola. Homemade, of course! I can’t believe I’ve never made this stuff before. It’s so much cheaper than buying it pre-made and it’s absolutely delicious! The addition of a tiiiny bit of almond extract is brilliant–it brings out the almond flavor just the right amount without being overpowering.

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I love sprinkling this it on plain Greek yogurt. It makes for a quick, healthy breakfast with virtually no prep-time required.

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The granola adds a necessary crunch, texture, and touch of sweetness to the otherwise tart yogurt. Something about the contrast between the creamy yogurt and slightly crunchy granola just works, ya know? Sprinkle some ripe berries on top and you’ve got yourself a filling meal loaded with all kinds of yummyness.

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I know you don’t need another reason to make this super easy recipe, but here’s one more anyway: your house will smell AMAZING for hours after you make this. Cinnamon and vanilla always seem to exude the most awesomely sweet, warm aroma when baked.

Plus, all you need are two mixing bowls to make it!

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One small note about this recipe: yes, it calls for coconut oil, but you won’t taste it. I promise. My husband hates coconut and he had no idea I used coconut oil in the granola. If you’re allergic or still don’t believe me, feel free to substitute some vegetable oil.

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Do you like granola? What’s your favorite variety? Let me know in the comment section!

Vanilla Almond Granola

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil (or vegetable/canola oil)
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1). Preheat the oven to 300F. Line a large baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2). In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, cinnamon, and salt.

3). In a medium bowl, whisk the syrup, oil, almond extract and vanilla extract together until well combined. Pour over the oats and toss well.

4). Spread the granola on the pan in one even layer. Bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes (<–very important!!). Let the granola cool before consuming.

Servings: about 13 servings of 1/4 cup each. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 171 Carbs: 20g Fat: 9g Protein: 4g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 9g
Recipe: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/06/17/vanilla-almond-granola/

Grilled Potato Fries.

 Satisfy a craving for french fries with grilled potato fries instead! 

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So here’s the deal. French fries = deliciousness, but also a whole lot of extra oil that doesn’t do you, your heart, or your waistline any favors. Would you believe me if I told you that grilling slices of potatoes results in a crispy-on-the-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside-just-like-a-french-fry texture? Well, you should. Because it’s true. And it’s a game-changer for all you fry loving readers looking to eat healthier.

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I promise x 1000 that these will satisfy your cravings for a deep fried french fry. The only difference you’ll notice is in the shape (although you could cut them like matchsticks if you wanted to!), and a lack of excess oil on your fingers. They taste indulgent, but won’t leave you feeling super full. My husband loves a good french fry, and he couldn’t get over how good these are! Make sure to add enough salt, to taste, otherwise they won’t have that salty french fry flavor everyone loves. You could also use your favorite seasoning blend if you’d prefer!

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Maybe your grilling some chicken and trying to keep it healthy. Don’t ruin it with fries; grill your potatoes instead!

Grilled Potato Fries

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium russet potatoes
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • Freshly cracked sea salt and black pepper

1). Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Carefully slice the potatoes in about 1/4″ slices. Toss in a medium bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

2). Place the potato slices on the grill and close the lid for about 6-9 minutes. Flip the potatoes and cook again until they’re golden brown and can easily be pierced with a fork.

3). Sprinkle with additional sea salt after grilling and enjoy!

Servings: 4. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 172 Fat: 4.8g Protein: 3.5g Fiber: 3.1g Points+: 4
Recipe courtesy of Audrey’s Apron.

 

Thai-Inspired Hydrating Cucumber Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

This crisp, cool cucumber salad is sure to help you cool off during the hot summer months! Topped with crunchy roasted chickpeas and peanuts, this dish can be a meal in itself.

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Summer heat is in full-swing here in Georgia! I love everything about summer: the long days, the time we spend outside, the fresh veggies from our garden, and even the heat! Having said that, it’s soooo important to stay hydrated when it’s this hot outside. Drinking lots of water is key, but did you know the food you eat can help keep you hydrated as well? That’s where this cucumber salad comes in! It’s refreshing, crisp, cool, and hydrating. The flavors are (you guessed it!) thai-inspired, but you’ll like this even if you don’t like thai food. Remember–it’s not thai food, it just has some common ingredient combinations you would find in that type of cuisine. Cilantro, red bell peppers, peanuts, etc. Quick confession: thai food is not my absolute favorite, but I loved this salad!IMG_1106

If you’ve got cucumbers growing in your garden, this is a great way to use a couple of them. In my opinion, they’re the focal point of the salad. To get the salad going, the cucumbers, red onion, red bell pepper, and cilantro all take a nice swim in a rice wine vinegar marinade. They need about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to come together, which is the perfect amount of time to finish making the roasted chickpeas, if you want them. The chickpeas are totally optional here. They add a big crunch factor and an extra 7g of protein per serving, but my husband actually preferred it without them. It’s up to you!

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If you want to make the chickpeas, you’ll need 1 can of them. Rinse, drain, and dry them before tossing them with olive oil and spices. Lay them on parchment paper and roast for about 30 minutes, depending on your oven. These actually make a great little snack on their own!

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Thai-Inspired Hydrating Cucumber Salad

Ingredients:
For the marinade:

  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1.5-2 tbsp sugar (this is a must to offset the strong tang from the vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the salad:

  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts for garnish
  • Roasted spiced chickpeas (optional)

For the roasted chickpeas:

  • 1 can (15 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric (I omitted)

1). Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Roll them in-between two paper towels to make sure they are completely dry before proceeding, otherwise they will not get crispy.

2). In a medium bowl, combine the chickpeas with the olive oil and spices. Toss well to ensure even distribution of the spices. Roast for 20 minutes before stirring them around. Roast for another 10-15 minutes or until the they’re golden brown and lightly charred on the bottom.

3). While the chickpeas roast, whisk together the seasoned rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.

4). Peel the cucumbers, chop off the ends, and slice them in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out the seeds from each half of the cucumbers and discard the seeds. Slice the cucumbers thinly into half-moon shapes.

5). Toss the cucumbers, red onion, bell pepper, and cilantro in the dressing. Let them sit in the fridge for 30 minutes to marinade while the chickpeas finish cooking. Let the chickpeas rest about 5 minutes before adding to the salad. Top with roasted peanuts. Enjoy!

Servings: about 3 as a main dish, or 6 as a side dish. Approximate nutritional information for 1 main dish serving: Calories: 275 Carbs: 40.5g Fat: 6.9g Protein: 12.7 g Fiber: 9.5g Points+: 7

Recipe adapted from: http://ohsheglows.com/2013/06/05/thai-inspired-hydrating-cucumber-salad-with-roasted-spiced-chickpeas/

 

 

 

Grilled Asparagus and Zucchini Salad with a Lemon and Basil Vinaigrette.

Fresh asparagus and zucchini are grilled to perfection, then tossed in a lemon and basil sauce with tangy garlic, scallions, and red pepper flakes. 

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I love this salad because it is a great way to use extra zucchini and basil, which are both in season right now and growing like crazy in my garden. If you follow me on Instagram (audreysapron) or Twitter (@AudreysApron), you’ve seen my excitement over the success of my first-ever veggie garden. Whether you’re growing zucchini or not, it’s a great time to cook with it because, as I said before, it’s in season, which makes it more affordable to purchase in store.

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This side dish comes together fast, making it perfect for a weeknight meal. In fact, I made this while we were on vacation. As much as I love cooking, I didn’t want to spend hours in the kitchen on our trip, so I paired this with some grilled chicken. Gotta love summer eats!

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Have you ever grilled asparagus? I love asparagus roasted, but (sadly) I had never thought to grill it until now. If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out! This is definitely my new favorite way to prepare it. Just as easy as roasting, and just as flavorful (if not more so!).

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On to the recipe! Fire up the grill and toss the zucchini and asparagus in a little oil, salt, and pepper. The zucchini takes longer to cook, so put it on first, followed by the asparagus a few minutes later. While the veggies are cooking, whisk together some lemon juice & zest, olive oil, garlic, fresh basil, scallions, and red pepper flakes. Don’t worry–this dish is not spicy. The red pepper flakes add a tiiiiiny bit of heat, but it’s only 1/4 tsp for the entire bowl, and it’s not very noticeable. In fact, next time I may double that amount. I recommend you taste it and add more if you want it.

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Basil is one of my favorite herbs, and I think it pairs nicely with the veggies and lemon. If you prefer to use parsley, oregano, mint, whatever… you can do it. You might even want to get adventurous and try a combination. The important thing to remember is to use fresh herbs. Everything about this salad is fresh and light, and I just don’t think dried herbs would have the same effect. If you’re in a bind, you can actually leave the herbs out completely–it’s still very flavorful on its own!

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I hope you make it and enjoy!

Grilled Asparagus and Zucchini Salad with a Lemon and Basil Vinaigrette. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • Freshly cracked sea salt and pepper

For the vinaigrette:

  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 garlic clove, grated or minced
  • 1/4 cup  chopped fresh basil (or herb of choice)
  • 3 minced scallions
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Freshly cracked sea salt and pepper

1). Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Prepare the asparagus by trimming the ends. Cut the ends off the zucchini and slice in half. Toss in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the zucchini to the grill, flipping after about 6-7 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook for about 5 minutes per side. The zucchini and asparagus are ready when they are easily pierced with a fork.

2). Meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette. In a bowl, whisk together the lemon zest/juice, olive oil, basil, garlic, scallions, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.

3). When the zucchini and asparagus are fork-tender, remove them from the grill and chop into about 1 inch pieces. Add the chopped veggies to the bowl with the vinaigrette and lightly toss to combine. Taste and re-season, if necessary.

Servings: about 6. Nutritional Information per serving: Calories: 82 Carbs: 9g Fat: 5g Fiber: 3g Protein: 4g Points+: 2
Recipe adapted from: http://cookblog.org/grilled-veggies-lemon-herb-vinaigrette/ 

Servings:

Southwestern Grilled Sweet Potato Salad

Last week we went on vacation, and it was glorious! After spending all day in the pool, I wanted to make something light, healthy, nutritious, and colorful. This southwestern grilled sweet potato salad was just the ticket. There are a LOT of textures and flavors going on in this one, folks. It’s a definite winner!

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Let’s deconstruct this giant rainbow bowl, shall we?

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The focal point of this salad is the grilled sweet potatoes. Yum. I cut them in big rounds to make them easy to grill, and then quartered them after grilling. Do you have to grill them? Absolutely not. It’s hot here in the south, so grilling means the heat stays outside the kitchen, which is important when it’s in the 90’s! I actually think roasting the potatoes would be equally good (if not better), so if you don’t have a grill I would recommend trying that option. If you do that, you can go ahead and quarter the sweet potatoes before baking. IMG_0945
Bright yellow corn, tasty black beans, and a crisp red bell pepper provide a nice contrast in texture to the grilled sweet potatoes. Top all that off with vibrantly green onions, creamy avocado, and fresh cilantro, and you have a bowl full of color. The last step is to toss it all together with fresh lime juice, salt, and pepper, and you’re ready to eat!

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Simply put, this is an awesome side dish (or main dish for the non-meat eaters!) that will definitely make another appearance in our home. My husband, who does not like avocados, loved this dish. When it all comes together, it’s just that good!! Take this to your next cookout or picnic!

Southwestern Grilled Sweet Potato Salad
Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 can corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 avocados, pit and skin removed, chopped
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

1). Pre-heat the grill. Toss the cut sweet potatoes in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill them over medium-high heat until they can easily be pierced with a fork (about 8 minutes each side).

2). In a large bowl, combine the corn, black beans, red pepper, green onions, cilantro, and avocados. Once the sweet potatoes are cooked through, quarter the rounds and add them to the bowl. Add the lime juice, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine. Taste and re-season, if necessary.

Servings: 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side. Approximate nutritional information for 8 servings: Calories: 234 Carbs: 34g Fat: 9g Protein: 8g Fiber: 10g Points+: 6 

Recipe adapted from: http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/southwestern-grilled-sweet-potato-salad/ 

From the Archives: Parmesan Roasted Green Beans

Parmesan roasted green beans are an easy side dish that can accompany chicken, fish, steak, pork, or any dish! The simple roasting method brings out the best in the green beans, giving them a unique flavor and delightful texture. No bland, mushy green beans here!IMG_0839

The first time I roasted green beans was life-changing; I never knew they could taste so good! My husband and I don’t particularly care for the green veggie unless it’s roasted. The texture and flavor completely changes so that even green-bean haters love them this way!

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I originally posted this recipe last year in conjunction with my easy crock pot bbq chicken, but this simple recipe deserves its own post. For the last couple years this has been my tried-and-true green bean recipe, and we wouldn’t have it any other way! Trust me, if you haven’t roasted green beans yet, you must try them. And then let me know how they turn out. I promise they’ll win you over this way!

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Sometimes I’ll add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese when I take the pan out of the oven, and sometimes I won’t. The parmesan adds another dimension of flavor and saltiness, but if you don’t have any or are cutting out dairy for dietary reasons, they’re still delicious as-is.

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They key is to season them well. Season with quite a bit of freshly cracked pepper, sea salt, and garlic powder before baking, then taste one out of the oven and re-season, if necessary. I like to season them once they’ve been tossed in olive oil and are laying flat on the baking sheet because I feel it gives me better control, but you can also season them as you combine them with the oil.

One last trick I use: I always cover my baking pan in foil for virtually no clean up. I lightly spray it with cooking spray before adding the green beans. Works every time!

Parmesan Roasted Green Beans

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz green beans, washed and dried
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp shredded parmesan cheese (optional)

1). Preheat oven to 425F. Line a pan with foil for easy clean up. Mix the green beans with olive oil, then season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Make sure they are all in one even layer on the pan.

2). Bake for 10 minutes. Mix the beans lightly and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle with shredded parmesan cheese (optional).

Serves: about 4. Nutritional Information per serving: Calories: 62 Fat: 2.9g Carbs: 8g Protein: 2.7g Sodium: 38g without salt

Recipe adapted from: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2011/11/roasted-parmesan-green-beans.html

 

Baked Falafel with a Spicy Feta Dip.

Quick update: #1) School is out and summer is here, so expect more weekly posts! #2) For my birthday, my husband bought me a DSLR camera, so hopefully the quality of my pictures will be improving (considering I was using my phone camera before!)

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Ok, let’s talk about falafel. Such a funny word, isn’t it? Good thing it is incredibly delicious! We love Mediterranean food and falafel is high on the list. If you’re not familiar with falafel, it is made up of mashed chickpeas and spices, and usually deep-fried. My version is baked, but don’t worry, no flavor or texture is compromised, and it’s so much better for you! Falafel is gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan friendly. I think it’s pretty kid-friendly, too. You can eat them plain, inside a pita, on a salad, or dipped in this spicy feta dip I’m sharing with you today. Falafel is so versatile that everyone in your family will find a way to enjoy it!

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Because falafel is awesome (and overpriced in restaurants), I wanted to make my own at home. My first attempt at making falafel was almost 3 years ago. Let’s just say that batch did not turn out right, but I learned from my mistakes. Really just one mistake, in particular: over-processing the chickpeas. I was new to using my food processor and went a little crazy with the pulse button until my chickpeas were well blended and, sadly, mushy! The horror! It has taken 3 years for me to forget how unsuccessful that trial run was, and this week I decided to go for it again. I am SO glad I did; they turned out perfectly.

Here’s what they look like before baking:
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And after:
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Other than the tasty end result, there are so many things I love about this recipe/falafel in general. First of all, it is cheap to make. You can easily make an entire batch for less than $5. Secondly, it’s good for you! In 3 falafel there’s 10g of protein and 10g of fiber, and virtually no fat. And lastly, the food processor does all the work for you! Chickpeas, garlic, green onion, spices/herbs, lemon juice, flour, baking powder…they all go in to the food processor, which makes for no chopping and easy clean-up.

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I used the pulse button on my food processor instead of just turning it on and letting it go because it gave me better control of the texture of the falafel. I made sure to stop when the mixture was beginning to come together, but there were still visible chunks of chickpeas, as you can see above. This gave the falafel awesome texture!

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I always make tzatziki sauce to go with our Mediterranean meals, but this time I wanted to switch it up a bit. Instead, I made a spicy feta yogurt dip from plain non-fat yogurt, reduced-fat feta cheese, olive oil, and cayenne pepper. Since I had my food processor out for the falafel, I used it to make this dip while the falafel baked. Another easy recipe: place all the ingredients in the food processor and turn it on! Done.

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This dip has awesome texture AND flavor. It is thick and the feta is definitely noticeable. The salty and savory feta compliments the cool, creamy yogurt and the cayenne pepper adds a nice little punch of heat. The dairy in the dip cuts down the heat a lot, so feel free to taste and add more if you want more spice. You can use this feta dip with your falafel pita, in a salad or just plain! Bonus: it is a great dip for cold vegetables, too!

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Baked Falafel

Ingredients for the falafel:

  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 4 green onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp lemon (about half a lemon)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp flour (I used white whole wheat)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • cooking spray

1). Preheat the oven to 400F. In a food processor, pulse the garlic a few times to get it smaller. Add the chickpeas, green onions, parsley, cilantro, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, red pepper, and lemon juice. Pulse until the chickpeas appear mashed, but not pureed. Add flour and baking powder and pulse a few more times. (See picture above in post for texture).

2). With clean hands, form 1 1/2 inch rounds using 2 tbsp of falafel mixture.  Flatten them slightly, place on a lined baking sheet, and repeat. Before baking, lightly spray with cooking spray.

3). Bake for 15-17 minutes. Remove from oven and gently flip the falafel over. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until golden-brown. Serve with spicy feta dip.

Yield: 9 falafel patties. Servings: 3. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 156 Carbs: 29g Fat: 1g Protein: 10g Fiber: 10g Points+: 4

Recipe adapted from an awesome vegetarian friend!

Spicy Feta Dip

Ingredients for the spicy feta dip:

  • 8 oz reduced fat crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2-2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more)

1) Place all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until well-combined. Taste and adjust seasoning or add more olive oil for a smoother texture.

Servings: about 6. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 152 Fat: 9g Carbs: 2g Protein: 6g Fiber: 0g Points+: 3

Recipe adapted from: http://www.howsweeteats.com/2014/02/baked-falafel-with-spicy-feta-yogurt-dip/

“Black & Blue” Spring Salad with Blackberry Balsamic Vinaigrette.

It is finally feeling like spring around here! As soon as the weather turns warmer, I immediately turn to cool, crisp salads to keep my meals light and filling. I love salads and eat them year-round, but somehow when it’s freezing outside the idea of biting into a cold piece of lettuce does not appeal to me as much!

Salads can get really boring, really fast. The trick to keeping them from becoming mundane is (obviously) change! Change the base of your salad (baby spinach, romaine, spring mix, etc.). If you like cheese, change what type of cheese you add. Change what vegetables you include. Change what crunchy add-ins you include. Change the dressing. And in this case, change it up completely by adding fruit!

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I love ripe, juicy fruit in my salads and usually stick to strawberries, blueberries, apples, or pineapple. Until now, I had never included blackberries! They were perfect in this salad. They were tart but sweet, and off-set the bite from the blue cheese perfectly. I added a few sliced almonds for added crunch, too.

And then, of course, there’s the dressing. It’s the real star of the show (and of this post)! To play up the blackberry flavor more, I topped the salad off with a blackberry dressing. It was quick to make, easy, and had the right balance of sweet and tangy. It’s sweetened with honey and a touch of sugar. I tried it without the sugar and my face immediately puckered–way too tart! I usually try to eliminate added sugars, but in this case the dressing  most definitely needs it. A scant 1 tablespoon is all that’s needed, though, which turns out to be less than a teaspoon per serving. Not too bad!

I love the deep color of the blackberry dressing–so pretty! All I had in the fridge was romaine lettuce, but I think this dressing would be even more beautiful among the deep green of spring mix or baby spinach! Use your favorite, or whatever you have on hand.

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“Black & Blue” Spring Salad with Blackberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

For the salad: 

  • 4-5 cups of your favorite salad base (romaine, spring mix, baby kale, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese*
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries

For the blackberry balsamic dressing:

  • 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tbsp honey (or agave nectar)
  • salt and pepper

1) To make the dressing: Add the blackberries and sugar to a food processor and process until smooth. Add the vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt, and pepper and process again until smooth.

2) To assemble the salad: in a large bowl, add the greens, blue cheese, sliced almonds, and blackberries. Top with blackberry balsamic vinaigrette. Enjoy!

*Note: to make it vegan, use agave nectar in place of honey and do not include the blue cheese!*

Servings: 4. Nutritional information per serving for the dressing: Calories: 105 Carbs: 10g Fat: 7g Sugar: 10g Fiber: 1g WWPoints+: 3

Nutritonal information per serving for the salad base: Calories: 91 Carbs: 5g Fat: 6g Protein: 4g Sugar: 2g Fiber: 3g WWPoints+: 2

Recipe adapted from: http://iowagirleats.com/2014/04/02/black-blue-spring-salad-with-honey-roasted-pecans-and-berry-balsamic-vinaigrette/  

 

 

Cauliflower “Rice” 2 Ways: Plain & Cilantro Lime.

Have you heard of cauliflower rice? All you cauliflower haters listen up: this does NOT actually taste like cauliflower!! My husband tasted the cilantro lime version assuming it was rice and loved it, and the only way he will eat cauliflower is roasted. This side dish is super easy to make, a blank canvas just like rice, and a great way to sneak more veggies in your meals! It is gluten-free, paleo friendly, and clocks in at just 61 calories a cup. Any time you want to serve rice, you can serve this instead.

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I have 2 versions for you today: plain and cilantro lime. Let’s start with the plain first, as it will be the foundation for the cilantro lime version anyway.

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There is an essential tool you’ll need for making cauliflower rice: a food processor. If you don’t have one, I’m sure you could meticulously chop up your cauliflower florets until they’re teeny tiny, but it would take long time! Place your cauliflower florets in the food processor and pulse until they’re about the size of rice granules. Be careful not to over-process or else you will release too much moisture from the cauliflower and it will get soggy. No one likes soggy rice, right? Right.

A tip: you may have to pulse your cauliflower in 2 batches. I have what I consider to be a standard size food processor and found I had more cauliflower than would fit at once!

While this is happening, heat up olive oil in a large pan over medium heat with onions and garlic. Once they soften, you’ll add your “rice”, give it a stir, and cover for 5 minutes. Stir it again until the cauliflower is slightly crispy on the outside but tender on the inside. The last step is perhaps the most important: season with salt and pepper! The salt and pepper will take it from blah to perfect. If you taste it and think it tastes bland, chances are you need more salt and pepper. You can also add garlic powder if you’d like!

The end result is fluffy, slightly chewy “rice” that tastes good AND is good for you.

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A few weeks ago I posted this recipe for cilantro lime rice. You all seemed to love it, so here’s how to make cilantro lime “cauliflower rice”: once the cauliflower is cooked, pour it into a big bowl. Add the juice of 1/2-1 lime and 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, or more, to taste. That’s it! Easy, huh? This week I served it along with fajitas (I used this copy-cat Pappasito’s Fajita Steak marinade), but it would be perfect as a “rice bowl” using my super easy Crock Pot Mexican Shredded Chicken!

Cauliflower Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, cored and roughly chopped into florets
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

1). Place half the cauliflower in the food processor and pulse until cauliflower resembles the size of rice or couscous. Be careful not to over-process or too much moisture will be released and it will be mushy. Remove and pulse the second batch.

2). Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes, while stirring often.

3). Once the onions and garlic are softened, add the pulsed cauliflower to the pan. Toss to combine and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the cauliflower is slightly crispy on the outside but tender inside.

4). Season well with freshly cracked pepper and sea salt. Taste and re-season, if necessary. (Do not skimp out on the salt and pepper: it is critical to add flavor!)

For Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice:

1). After cooking the cauliflower as stated above, add the juice of 1/2-1 lime (depending on your preference) and 1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro. Toss to combine and enjoy!

Servings: 5. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 61 Fat: 3g Carbs: 8g Fiber: 3g Protein: 2.5g WW Points+: 2.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2013/10/cilantro-lime-cauliflower-rice.html

Adapted recipe courtesy of Audrey’s Apron. 

Chipotle’s Cilantro Lime Rice

Sometimes rice can be a little bland, which is why I love Chipotle’s cilantro lime rice–it is SO flavorful! If you are looking for a great addition to your Mexican dinner night, you need to make this rice. It will kick your tacos or rice bowls up a notch!

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All that’s required to totally transform your rice are a few simple ingredients: fresh cilantro, lime juice, and oil. After cooking your rice, simply toss it together with those 3 ingredients and all of a sudden you will have Chipotle-style rice ready for eating! We love it with my easy crockpot Mexican shredded chicken for tacos, rice bowls, quesadillas, etc.

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I used brown rice because it is much more nutritious, but you can certainly use white rice or whatever your favorite is! Also, honestly, the cilantro measurement is really an estimate–I LOVE cilantro and sometimes add more. I like to make sure every bite will be speckled with the green herb, but if you are not as big of a fan of the flavor I’d definitely stick to just the 3 tbsp. You can always taste it and add more if you think it needs it!IMG_20140219_175001827_HDR
Chipotle’s Cilantro Lime Rice

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked brown (or white) rice
  • 1/2 lime, juice of
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt, to taste

1). Prepare rice according to package directions.

2). In a bowl, mix together the hot rice, lime juice, cilantro, oil, and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.

Serving size: 1/2 cup cooked rice. Servings: about 6. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 163 Carbs: 33g Fat: 1g Protein: 4g Fiber: 2g Points+:4

Recipe adapted from: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2009/03/chipotle-cilantro-lime-rice-4-pts.html