One of the best things about summer is the fresh, local produce and the quintessential summer food staples. It’s so amazing to see how much better everything tastes and how much longer it stays fresh when it was grown nearby. I love creating meals and dishes that are full of color, flavor and with food that is in season in my area.
One of my favorites is my take on a classic pasta salad. This salad has all of the flavors of a traditional pasta salad, while using up your zucchini and summer veggies! The veggies make this recipe packed with antioxidants and fiber as well as low in fat!
Veggie Packed Pasta-less Salad
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
2 medium zucchinis, spiralized into zoodles or cut into “noodle” like strips
1/2 tsp Salt
2 bell peppers, chopped ( I like to use a mix of green, red, orange + yellow!)
1 small cucumber, sliced lengthwise and cut into half moon slices
1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1.5 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
1. Spiralize or cut the zucchini into noodle like strips or small, thin pieces. Place in a colander over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and mix to make sure the noodles are coated. Let sit for ~15 minutes while you wash and chop the rest of the ingredients. This helps drain off some of the water and keeps the zucchini crisp.
2. Add the bell peppers (I like to use 1/2 a green, red, orange and yellow pepper but any combo to get you to 2 bell peppers will work), cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion to a bowl.
3. Whisk together the garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, olive oil and white wine vinegar.
4. Pat the zucchini with a clean tea towel or paper towels to remove excess moisture. Add to the bowl containing the other vegetables.
5. Pour the dressing over the veggies and toss to coat. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste.
6. Let sit for a half hour if you have the time! This is also great to make ahead for meal prep!
Serve with your favorite protein for a meal, eat as a snack or make for your next gathering! This recipe can easily be tweaked to suit personal tastes. Some add in ideas: olives, shredded Parmesan cheese, cubes of mozzarella, provolone or cheddar cheese, turkey pepperoni, fresh herbs and artichoke hearts.
Some things just pair so well together…chocolate and hazelnut are two of those things! When we think of this combination, our minds may go to the beloved spread – Nutella. While Nutella tastes great, the first ingredient in Nutella is sugar. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than about 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and 9 for men. A single 2 tablespoon serving of Nutella contains the equivalent of about 5 teaspoons of sugar, the majority of them added sugar! For reference, there are 6 teaspoons in 2 tablespoons, so the fact that sugar is making up 5 of those 6 teaspoons in a serving is kind of crazy! In my version of this healthy Nutella, I use dates as a natural sweetener. My version of healthy Nutella does not contain any milk, making this recipe dairy free and vegan!
Easy, Healthy 4 Ingredient Nutella
Time: ~10 Minutes
2 Cups of Peeled, Dry Roasted Hazelnuts (I used Nature’s Garden Roasted Hazelnuts from Costco)
2 Tablespoons of Navitas Organics Cacao Powder (This is different from cocoa!)
3 Medjool Dates, Pits Removed
1 Pinch of Salt
1. Add the hazelnuts to a food processor or high powered blender. Blend them until they form a butter. Turn off machine and scrape sides down as needed. This will take a few minutes for the butter to form, but the exact time will depend on the machine you are using!
2. Once the hazelnuts have been blended into a smooth butter, add the cacao powder, the medjool dates and the salt. Blend until everything is well combined and there are no chunks of dates left.
3. Transfer to a jar and store in your pantry. Some natural separation may occur, so be sure to stir before using! This will keep for a couple weeks.
This makes 12 servings of 1.5 Tbsp each. There are 150 Calories per serving, 12 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein and 1/5 of the amount of sugar as regular Nutella!
We love this spread on fruit, rice cakes and pretzels! I would love to hear how you are using it!
As much as I absolutely love summer, I am enjoying the first bits of crisp air and the fact that the stars seem a little bit brighter this time of year!
As the seasons change, I slowly start changing some of what I am eating to include more warm foods and this time of year is perfect to use up the fresh, local produce in some warm dishes (although you can catch me eating soup any time of year). I am sharing a few ideas with you below!
- Use up veggies like fresh zucchini, eggplant, onions and peppers by chopping them up and grilling or roasting them. Simply add olive oil, salt and pepper and cook to the level of doneness you like. Fresh herbs, garlic and balsamic are also welcome additions. Use these throughout the week in a variety of ways:
In the filling of an omelet, on a wrap or sandwich with some hummus or cheese, on top of a scoop of quinoa or brown rice with some greens and a protein, tossed on your favorite pizza crust that’s been topped with a sprinkle of cheese and a handful of spinach or arugula, mixed with your favorite cooked pasta (I love a lentil or quinoa pasta for extra protein!) a drizzle of olive oil and black pepper, in the filling of a crustless quiche or egg cups for a quick, microwave and go breakfast.
- Use a bounty of tomato and zucchini in this delicious and filling zucchini parmesan recipe.
- Use up extra peppers and even sub canned tomatoes for fresh ones in this amazing shakshuka recipe that is a favorite for brunch but also works a healthy lunch or dinner.
- Store bought tomato soup can contain thickeners and added sugar. Skip those and make your own! Chop up 3.5 lbs of fresh tomatoes, 1 large onion and 1 large red bell pepper. Place in a baking dish. Add 3 cloves of peeled garlic, a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Roast at 450 for 30-40 minutes until vegetables are soft, stirring halfway through. Let cool for 10-15 minutes and then add to a blender in batches. If the soup is thicker than you’d like, thin it with some chicken or vegetable broth. I find this totally dairy free soup to be so incredibly rich and creamy but if you’d like, you could add a couple tablespoons of cream, yogurt or the milk of your choice.
- Use fresh corn, potatoes and bell peppers in this recipe for the perfect end of summer corn chowder. Swap out the chicken stock for veggie stock to make this vegetarian!
- Use up extra green beans, tomatoes, herbs and zucchini in one of my favorite soup recipes and swap out the frozen veggies for fresh. You could even replace some of the canned tomatoes with fresh ones! This is a super filling lunch and you could always freeze leftovers.
- Slice fresh tomatoes and pat off some of the excess moisture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a pinch of shredded or grated Parmesan. Grill or broil until cheese is melted. Add balsamic if you’d like.
- Use up basil with this pesto recipe. Grill slices of veggies and top with pesto. Alternatively, cut the veggies in larger strips and serve room temperature with a mixture of Greek yogurt and pesto as a dip for a twist on a veggie tray or as an addition to your charcuterie board.
- Pack up raw zucchini cut into sticks with a side of hummus or your favorite dip as a great snack for work or school.
- Turn your tomatoes into “sun dried” tomatoes using this recipe. I did this last summer and they were absolutely unreal. I added them to any/everything!
This garlicky avocado arugula toast is easy enough for a healthy, every day breakfast while still having enough pizazz to serve at your next brunch! This combination contains necessary micronutrients like potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamin c, vitamin k and vitamin a as well as proteins and healthy fats. Choose your favorite bread and cook your eggs the way you prefer and this will be your new favorite breakfast!
Garlicky Avocado Arugula Toast
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Makes 2 Servings (2 Toasts/Person)
4 Pieces of Your Fav Bread – Toasted
4 Eggs, Cooked (whites, scrambled, over easy, hard boiled, etc)
2 Large Handfuls of Arugula
2-3 Cloves Garlic, Mashed
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Large Wedges of Lemon
1. Mince the garlic and add it to the olive oil in a microwave safe dish. Microwave the mixture for 10 seconds. Remove from microwave, stir and microwave for 10 more seconds. (Don’t skip this step – this helps mellow out the taste of raw garlic and helps to infuse the oil!)
2. Using a spoon, drizzle the garlic and oil over the four pieces of toasted bread, leaving a small amount of oil and garlic remaining.
3. Place the arugula in a bowl and squeeze one of the lemon wedges over it. Add in the remaining oil and garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper and then toss to coat the arugula. Set aside.
4. Cut the avocado in half. Remove the pit. Scoop the avocado out onto the toasted bread, using 1/4 of the avocado for each piece of toast. Using the back of a fork, mash the avocado slightly onto the toast. Use the remaining lemon wedge to squeeze lemon juice onto the four pieces of avocado covered toast.
5. Top each piece of toast with some of the arugula mixture and then top it all with an egg on each piece of toast.
Gua sha (pronounced gwah-sha or gwah-sa) is a centuries old Chinese Medicine technique. Traditionally gua sha was performed on the body using whatever a person had on hand – whether that was a copper coin, a spoon, a buffalo horn, a hemp rope soaked in sesame oil or simply one’s hands. It is only more recently in the 21st century that the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques including gua sha have been used in the mainstream beauty industry, with the popularity of gua sha having especially soared in the last couple of years due to social media applications such as Instagram.
With this increase in popularity, it is all the more important to pay respect and acknowledge the history and culture that gua sha originates from. Far to often we see gua sha stones/services promoted and sold in such a way that does not honor nor even recognize its origins in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Much of the modern usage and techniques of using gua sha for the face stem directly from Traditional Chinese Medicine, as have the ideas of how outward bodily appearances and skin color changes are directly related to changes in a person’s health, blood, and qi (energy). Gua sha’s use in the esthetic industry has also been heavily influenced and revolutionized by Dr. Ping Zhang, a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, who is also cited as being the inventor of the original gua sha facial.
Gua sha works to release tense muscles and tissues and then nourish them by increasing circulation and bringing more blood to the area being treated. By relaxing the facial muscles and increasing circulation/bringing more blood to the tissues, we can not only help diminish fine lines and wrinkles, but we can also help to even skin tone, as well as temporarily lift, firm, and plump up the skin to create a healthy, “youthful” glow. Facial gua sha can also provide relief to those with chronic, stress induced TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder).
Check out our Gua Sha Facial and our Based Intuitive Facial that includes facial Gua Sha as well as our handmade gua sha stones!