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Veggie Packed Pasta-less Salad!

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

Ingredients:
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

Instructions:
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.

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Easy, Healthy 4 Ingredient Nutella

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
Servings: 8

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

Instructions:
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!

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10 Early Fall Meal + Side Ideas Using End of Summer Veggies

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!

  1. 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.

  2. Use a bounty of tomato and zucchini in this delicious and filling zucchini parmesan recipe.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Pack up raw zucchini cut into sticks with a side of hummus or your favorite dip as a great snack for work or school.

  10. 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!

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Easy Chocolate No Bake Cookies

No bake cookies are a favorite of mine because they require so little effort and are ready so quickly! Unlike traditional cookies, these can be made using your stovetop (or heck, even your microwave!) and you don’t have to wait for them to bake. These no bakes contain antioxidant rich cacao powder, fiber packed oats and chia seed as well as antioxidant packed cacao and goji berries. YUM.

Easy Chocolate No Bake Cookies

Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 2 Minutes
Makes ~20 Cookies

Ingredients:
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil
1/3 Cup Almond Milk (or milk of your choice)
2 Tbsp Real Maple Syrup (You could use up to 3 depending on how sweet you like things!)
1 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Cacao Powder (Navitas is my favorite!)
Pinch of Salt
1 3/4 Cup Instant Oats
2 Tbsp Chia Seeds
1/4 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
1/4 Cup Dried Goji Berries (If you cant find these, consider subbing something like raisins!)

Instructions:
1. Place coconut oil, milk and maple syrup in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until until coconut oil is melted, about five minutes.
2. Turn off stovetop and stir in vanilla extract, cacao powder and salt to the coconut oil/maple syrup/milk mixture.
3. Add the oats and stir until well combined. Add in chia seeds, coconut flakes and goji berries.
4. Using a cookie scoop or a spoon, place tablespoon sized scoops of the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Leave raised or using a piece of parchment and your palm or the back of a spoon, press down on the cookies to flatten.
5. Place in the refrigerator for ten minutes or until the mixture is cool. Transfer the cookies to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

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Sweet + Spicy Brussels Sprouts

I’m an olive oil/salt/pepper savory roasted veggie type of gal, but I wanted to come up with something a little different with some special “treat yo’ self” vibes as the holiday season is approaching. This recipe couldn’t be easier and the combination of salty, sweet and heat with the pecans bringing the texture is amazing. These Brussels sprouts are going to be especially welcome on the Thanksgiving table to bring a pop of green amongst the delicious but bland in color sea of traditional Thanksgiving foods!

Sweet + Spice Brussels Sprouts

Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: ~30 Minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients:
~1 Lb Brussels Sprouts
1/4 – 1/2 Cup Pecan Halves
2 Tsp Hot Sauce (I used Syrachacuse Syracuse Style Hot Sauce from our new brick + mortar neighbors, Syrachacuse!)
2.5 Tbsp Real Maple Syrup
3 Tbsp Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tsp Garlic Powder

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 425. Wash and trim the ends of Brussels Sprouts, making sure to remove any damaged leaves. Slice in half length wise.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place pecans on baking sheet. When the oven is up to temperature, place the baking sheet with the pecans in the oven in a middle rack for 3 minutes.

3. While the pecans cook, make the sauce for the Brussels Sprouts by combining the hot sauce, maple syrup, liquid aminos, olive oil and garlic powder.

4. Pour the sauce over the Brussels Sprouts and stir well.

5. Remove the pecans and set aside.

6. Using the same baking sheet/parchment paper, pour out Brussels Sprouts and all of the sauce onto the baking sheet (it may look like a bit of a runny mess, but that is okay)!

Look at how the sauce is soaked up by the Brussels and caramelizes! YUM.


7. Bake for 30 minutes at 425, stirring once half way through. Remove from the oven and combine with the pecans. I broke my pecans up into smaller pieces. Serve warm or room temperature!