Grilled Romaine Wedge Salad

I’m really excited to have my new healthy foodie friend, Melanie Delude, guest post on the blog today. I met Melanie at Camp Blogaway back in May and we have remained blogger buddies ever since. I even had the chance to meet up with her when vacationing in New Hampshire this summer where she lives with her family. The recipe below looks amazing and I cannot wait to try it out. Enjoy :)

I am so honored to be guest posting on Desert Healthy today! This is my first ever guest post, and I am very excited to share my Grilled Romaine Wedge Salad with you. I hope you love it as much as I do!

The inspiration for this salad developed while I was working on my 100 Day Project a couple months ago. Each day, for 100 days, I posted a simple and healthy recipe idea and photo to Instagram. When I agreed to do the project back in April, it sounded so daunting to have to come up with something new on a daily basis. I was pleasantly surprised that because I prepare all the food that my family eats each day, as long as I planned ahead and included lots of variety into our meals, it was relatively easy to post new material. To see more of the work from my 100 Day project, head over to Instagram and search for the hashtag #100daysofeasyhealthyrecipes.

And now, for the recipe!

Yield: 4 small servings, or 2 large servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 heads of romaine lettuce, cut lengthwise
  • ½ of a large sweet onion, sliced into thin strips
  • 3 slices cooked all-natural bacon or prosciutto, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup of gorgonzola cheese crumbles
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil (or similar high-heat oil option)
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Step 1: Brush the romaine generously with olive oil, and season to taste with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. On a grill over medium heat, place the romaine cut side down, and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until nicely charred.

romaine 1 (1)

Step 2: Caramelize the onions until browned and softened. For great tips on creating perfect caramelized onions, check out this post by Plating Pixels.

Step 3: Plate the grilled romaine, then top with the caramelized onions, bacon or prosciutto, and gorgonzola cheese crumbles. Drizzle with olive oil and fresh lemon juice.

romaine 2 (1)

 

Melanie Delude profile imageMelanie Delude writes a self-titled blog (www.melaniedelude.com) which is focused on her passion for providing healthy recipes for her family, including her 2 young children. Her biggest passion beyond her blog is her love of running, and she has successfully completed 3 half marathons to date, and hopes to begin training for a full marathon within the next year. Other passions include frequent travel, hiking, downhill skiing, and curling up with a good book.

 

 

 

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Healthy Pantry Essentials

NutsChances are that you stock up on some of the popular standards found in most pantries such as seasonings and dry pasta, but I thought I would share with you my favorite pantry essentials for healthy eating. I think it’s important to have good ingredients and supplies on hand as it helps ease the confusion around meal times. If you have healthy food on hand, guess what….you will eat healthy and make good decisions. Below are some of my pantry essentials.

1. Oils. Of course old faithful olive oil is always within arms reach, but I also try to have others on hand such as avocado, sesame, coconut, and different flavors of olive oil. Avocado oil has a high smoking point so it’s great for cooking on medium to high heat because the oil doesn’t break down as easy and lose its nutrients. It also dissolves well in a light vinaigrette or it can be drizzled on top of fish and vegetables for added flavor and extra health benefits. Coconut oil is chock full of nutrients and can help with digestion, immunity and bone health. Sesame oil is has been around for thousands of years and it delivers an Asian flare to dishes. I love using it in vegetable dishes, stir fries, and chicken breasts. It has anti-inflammatory properties, zinc, and fiber to name a few health boosts it provides.  Flavors such as garlic, lemon and even bacon flavored olive oil can really dress up a dish so I encourage you to give them a try.

2. Raw nuts. It’s best to buy raw nuts rather than salted because the sodium that salted nuts can harbor is far too high. I always have bags of walnuts, almonds, pecans and pistachios in my pantry. It’s so easy to grab a handful and snack on them to curb hunger. They’re full of healthy fats (don’t worry the good kind that helps promote heart health), protein and antioxidants. They can be roasted in the oven for a few minutes on 350 with a little oil and seasoned to your liking if you don’t like them raw. They burn quick though so watch them closely. Throw them in a baggie and store in your purse or car for a quick fix. They can be thrown in smoothies, on top of salads or crushed and crusted onto fish or meat.

3. Organic Tea. I always have multiple boxes of organic tea available to me when I want the soothing comfort of a warm mug in my hand. Tea and especially green tea are a great alternative to coffee. I quit coffee about 3 months ago and I feel better ever since doing so. Tea has a boatload of antioxidants along with other energy boosting properties! There are so many benefits to being an avid tea drinker. It’s important to purchase organic tea because tea leaves are some of the most susceptible crops when it comes to pesticides. My favorite brands are Numi and Yogi.

4. Beans. Oh the magical fruit is truly magical. I always have various kinds of beans on hand because with the quick opening of a can, a BPA-free can of course, they can be added to a dish to add heartiness and fiber. I like cannellini, garbanzo, great northern and normal and refried black beans. I also have dried beans on-hand sometimes too. They’re simple to prep….ready for it….throw them in a bowl with water and soak overnight. That’s it.

5. Jarred Organic Spaghetti Sauce. I try and buy any tomato product organic as tomatoes have loads of pesticides on them otherwise. Even after rinsing tomatoes, their thin skin can still have dozens of pesticides hanging out.  These products include pizza sauce, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spaghetti sauce to name a handful. How easy is it to grab a jar of sauce and make a quick pasta dish when you’re short on time or to add it to stuffed peppers. I also use spaghetti sauce for homemade tortilla pizzas.

6. Organic Stock/Broth. Right now in my pantry I have 5 cartons of vegetable and chicken stock. You never know when a recipe will call for a few cups of stock and to me a bouillon cube just doesn’t cut it. Not only do I use the stock for recipes, but if I’m feeling under the weather, I like to sip on chicken broth just like I would a cup of tea. It helps soothe me and I begin to feel better. Be sure to check the ingredients in your stock because sometimes even organic broth can sneak in unwanted ingredients such as oil, sugar and “natural flavors.” Look for a broth that has minimal ingredients and doesn’t contain the old red flag of “natural flavors.” I like the brands Pacific and Imagine, but even liking those brands I still read the labels. Sometimes a chicken broth is legit, but then the vegetable broth is unacceptable even if made by the same brand name. General rule of thumb – always read labels.

7. Grains. Having an arsenal of healthy grains that can be cooked and added to dishes contributes to a healthy, well-stocked pantry. It’s helpful to prep grains earlier in the week to store in the fridge so you don’t have an excuse to not include them in your diet. A couple scoopfuls can be thrown into basically anything for added fiber, protein and minerals. Grains keep you full longer which helps keep you satisfied between meals. I personally like to eat grains for breakfast and lunch and they can be purchased frozen as well. Trader Joe’s has frozen brown rice and quinoa that I love to cook with every week. Within 4 minutes in the microwave, I can have a cup of either one and it just makes life so much easier. So if you don’t want to stock up on grains in your pantry, I highly recommend frozen products to keep in your freezer for last minute additions to a meal.

8. Snacks. We don’t always want to walk into the kitchen and have to prepare or cook something, especially when we’re really hungry. We want to just be able to look in the pantry and grab something quick, me included. To combat the urge to eat crap food, I really don’t buy it. Instead I have healthier alternatives around so that if I do want something quick, I’m not worried about the ingredients. I always have bags of tortilla chips, packets of Justin’s almond butter, jars of salsa, crackers I approve of, air-popped popcorn, KIND bars, and trail mix for a quick fix. I have this same mentality when I travel. I carry healthier snacks with me so I don’t have to cave and buy something overpriced at the airport that has zero nutritional value.
 

These are just some of my favorite staples. I would love to know if you have pantry essentials that you like to keep on hand. Comment below :)

 

michael_pollan quote

 

 

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Golden Frittata with Crispy Bacon, Leeks, Potato, Kale and Goat Cheese

Frittatas are one of my favorite things to make because they’re cheap, you can use up whatever ingredients you have in your fridge and they’re super tasty. A frittata is like a quiche minus the crust. It’s a great dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The beauty is that all you need are eggs along with random or calculated ingredients, depending on how long you’ve thought about it, and you have the essentials to making a great frittata.

I am still going strong with my weekly CSA subscription. I had farm fresh organic eggs, kale and a potato to eat up from it. Also in my fridge was a log of goat cheese, a few slices of leftover bacon and a leek in my crisper. Without hesitation, I knew I had the makings for a delicious frittata so I began to chop. Frittatas really can be constructed with whatever ingredients you have on hand. They can be vegetarian, with cheese, without cheese, or however you prefer. You simply saute the ingredients in a pan until tender, add the whisked eggs, and into the oven for a bit. I like to cook mine a little bit longer so they get that beautiful golden crust and the eggs are firm, not soft. Upon removal from the oven, the frittata should slide nicely out of the pan onto a cutting board where you can then cut it into perfect wedges. So simple. So good.

This is what weekends were made for…

frittata

frittata

frittata

 

Golden Frittata with Crispy Bacon, Leeks, Potato, Kale and Goat Cheese
 
Ingredients
  • 2 slices of bacon; sliced into even small chunks
  • 1 leek; sliced thinly - use both the white & green parts (make sure all sand is out of the leek, clean well)
  • 1 medium Yukon or red potato; peeled and sliced thinly (the thinner, the easier they are to cook)
  • 1 stalk of curly green kale; removed leaves from the stems and chop small/mince
  • 1 TBSP of oil (I used avocado oil)
  • 3 ozs. of goat cheese
  • S&P
  • 8 eggs; whisked in a bowl (add S&P and red pepper flakes to the eggs along with a splash of half & half)
Instructions
  1. Warm the oil in a large saute pan on medium heat. Add the leeks (save 2 TBSP for garnish later on) and the potatoes. Saute for 5 mins.
  2. Add the bacon and distribute in the pan evenly. Sprinkle salt & pepper. Saute for the next 15 mins, flipping and stirring occasionally. Add the kale and continue sauteing for another 10 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Once the leeks, potato, kale and bacon look slightly crispy and cooked, add the egg mixture. Make sure the eggs are distributed in the pan evenly. Once the edge of the frittata looks like it's beginning to cook, place the pan in the oven. (Make sure the pan you are using is oven-safe.) Cook for 20-25 mins, checking it to make sure it doesn't burn. You want a golden, crispy color.
  5. Allow the frittata to settle for 10 minutes after removing from the oven. Cut and garnish with remaining leeks. Serve.

 

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Chocolate Almond Butter Avocado Pudding

Move over guacamole, here comes pudding. Once again, avocado rocks my world.  I was beyond ecstatic to come across this recipe on Minimalist Baker’s blog. I tweaked it to my liking and now I’m stuck with a really luscious, chocolatey, creamy dessert. This is what you need to do from now on when you have those last couple of avocados sitting on your counter that you haven’t used, but feel guilty not eating because they were $1.50 each. Pudding, people, is the answer. Give this easy recipe a crack and let the addiction ensue.

Chocolate Almond Butter Avocado Pudding

Chocolate Almond Butter Avocado Pudding

Chocolate Almond Butter Avocado Pudding

Chocolate Almond Butter Avocado Pudding
 
www.deserthealthy.com:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 ripe avocados; scoop flesh out
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • ½ C. + 1 TBSP of raw cacao powder (I used this brand)
  • ½ C. of creamy or crunchy almond butter (can use peanut butter too)
  • ½ C. of maple syrup (can also use honey)
  • ¼ C. of almond milk (or any nut milk)
  • 1 TBSP. of chia seeds (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender until creamy & smooth.
  2. If you want a more intense chocolate or for it to be sweeter, add more cacao and syrup. Taste test and tweak it until it tastes delicious to you.
  3. Divide into 4 glasses or ramekins. Chill in the fridge for a few hours and serve.
  4. Top with fresh fruit, drizzle of melted almond butter, or this coconut cream recipe.

 

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5 Minute Prep – Overnight Oats

I recently discovered the simplicity of preparing overnight oats. Things I love about this recipe:

  • Everything is in a mason jar which that alone makes it taste better…am I right?!
  • There is no cooking involved.
  • It takes less than 5 minutes to throw everything in the jar and stir.
  • You wake up smiling because breakfast is served.
  • You can modify the ingredients to your liking. I.e. Don’t like almonds? Use another nut, ya nut. Do you have honey on hand instead of maple syrup? Get your honey on. Doesn’t matter. The only thing that is crucial is that you use the 1:1 ratio between the oats and milk.

There are so many variations of overnight oats that can be dreamed up. I already have other combos in mind. Blueberries, pecans, honey and cinnamon. Peaches, pistachios, vanilla and honey. The potential is endless. Enjoy your oats!

overnight oats

overnight oats

 

5 Minute Prep - Overnight Oats
 
www.deserthealthy.com:
Ingredients
  • 2 C. of rolled oats (I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Quick Cooking Oats)
  • 2 C. of almond milk (you can use any milk you like)
  • 1 TBSP. of chia seeds
  • 1 TBSP. of shredded coconut
  • 1½ TBSP. of maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • ¼ C. sliced or chopped nuts (I used almonds)
  • 1 C. of fresh fruit such as strawberries, blueberries or raspberries (you will not need this until the next day)
Instructions
  1. In a large mason jar, combine all of the ingredients except for the fresh fruit. Stir well, cover with lid and place in refrigerator overnight.
  2. The next morning, remove from fridge, stir well and top with the fresh fruit.
Notes
This recipe makes enough oats for 3-4 people. I wanted leftovers so I made more than one serving. Feel free to reduce the measurements to accommodate only one serving if you'd like.

 

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