The Absolute Best Cowboy Caviar – A Healthy and Versatile Recipe!

A dip full of veggies has to be healthy, right?! This is NOT the case when you LOAD it up with sugar as is the case in some cowboy caviar recipes I have seen! This quick and easy recipe uses a little bit of agave and is loaded with flavor that is only enhanced the longer it is allowed to marinate for. 

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Cowboy Caviar 

Makes 8 Servings
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Rest Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients:
1 Red Onion, Minced
1 Green Pepper, Diced
1 Red Pepper, Diced
1 15 Oz Can Chick Peas or Black Eyed Peas, Rinsed & Drained
1 15 Oz Can Black Beans, Rinsed & Drained
2 Stalks Celery, Diced
1 Lb Tomatoes, Diced 
1.5 Cups of Corn Kernals, Cooked
Optional: Bunch of Cilantro, Parsley or Scallions, Minced

Dressing:
1 Tsp Chili Powder
1 Tsp Cumin
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
½ Tsp Sea Salt, More to Taste
1/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp Agave Nectar or Sweetener of Choice
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Optional: Juice From 1/2 Lime

Instructions:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients for the dressing and slowly whisk in the vinegar, agave and oil. Mix well and set aside while you prepare the salad. 
  2. Combine the red onion, green pepper, red pepper, chick peas or black eyed peas, black beans, celery, tomatoes and corn in a bowl. Add the option herbs if you are using them.
  3. Add the dressing and stir well. 
  4. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight if possible, the longer this sits, the better it gets! 

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This cowboy caviar recipe is one of my favorites because it is so versatile. It works well served as a side dish (pair with grilled seafood or meat for a perfect summer meal!), a dip with crispy corn chips, as a topping on tacos, with eggs for breakfast and even on top of some crisp greens as a salad. Stir in some cooked quinoa to the cowboy caviar and you have a super easy weekday bring to work lunch. If you don’t like chick peas or black eyed peas, double up on black beans or add in pinto or kidney beans! 

Grilled Romaine – The Easiest Salad You’ve Ever Made

I am not sure if it’s because I live somewhere that is cold and cloudy for the majority of the year, but I genuinely find summer to be absolutely magical. From the time spent outdoors to the colorful and flavorful foods I feel so inspired to create meals with, I believe all aspects of glorious summer are meant to be shared. With meals that are lighter and more laid back, I have really been trying to embrace the less is more motto. Instead of creating a massive dinner salad using everything in my fridge, I tried my hand at grilling some romaine!

The first time I had grilled romaine was several years ago and I was recently reminded of it. This bare bones recipe below came to life when I was going to make a giant salad for dinner but was pressed for time. The fat from the oil, acidity from the lemon juice, salt from the cheese and sweetness of the tomatoes make this simple dish so tasty. Go ahead and give this grilled salad recipe a try – you’ll be surprised at how good it is!

Grilled Romaine – The Easiest Salad You’ve Ever Made

Makes 2 Servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:
1 Head of Romaine Lettuce
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Shredded Parmesean Cheese
1/2 Lemon
1/2 Cup Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
Salt
Pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your grill.
  2. Halve the head of romaine lengthwise. Rinse and pat dry.
  3. Brush, drizzle or spray olive oil on the cut sides of the lettuce and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place romaine cut side down on the grill. Grill for 5 minutes, until the lettuce is charred and slightly wilted.
  5. Remove from the grill and immediately squeeze lemon juice over the lettuce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  6. Top with halved tomatoes and enjoy!

Want some variety? This recipe would also be amazing with fresh herbs sprinkled on top, balsamic vinegar instead of lemon juice and blue cheese could be substituted for parmesean. When using cheeses on salads, I prefer to use strong, sharp cheese as I feel the strong flavor goes farther and you have to use less!

Quick Cannellini Bean Salad

Something I am trying to be more conscious about is food waste and how to reduce it in my home. This recipe came to fruition as I was chopping up celery to roast and to use in a soup. I was trimming away the leaves from the celery and realized that they were a perfectly good and usable part of the vegetable so instead of throwing them away or saving them for a stock, I decided to set them aside in a colander to use later for salads. The mild celery flavor from the leaves compliments the smooth and creamy beans, bright lemon, sweet onion and spicy garlic perfectly! If you don’t have any celery at home, try using parsley or any other fresh herbs you may have on hand!

Cannellini Bean Salad

Makes 4 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:
1 15 Ounce Can of Cannellini Beans
¼ of a Sweet Onion
1 Stalk Green Onion
1 Handful of Celery Leaves Chopped or Parsley
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Juice from ½ a Lemon
1 Clove of Garlic
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Instructions:
1. Rinse the cannellini beans and drain. While they are draining, finely mince the ¼ of an onion and the garlic. Thinly slice the green onion, stopping when it gets to the white portion.

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2. Clean and dry celery leaves (or parsley) and finely chop.

3. Add the drained beans, onion, garlic, green onion and celery leaves to a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest if desired.

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If you don’t have cannellini beans, use chick peas or navy beans instead.  Lemon juice may also easily be substituted with 2-3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Eat this recipe as a side, or pair with a protein for a full meal. How do you cut down on food waste? I would love to hear any tips you may have!

Herbed Cauliflower Rice

Growing up, we always ate rice as a side dish and I’ve had/made more rice dishes than I could ever possibly count. A type of rice that’s new-ish to me is cauliflower rice. This low calorie alternative to regular rice is super rich in vitamin C, and also rich in fiber, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6. I prefer to buy frozen cauliflower rice that is readily available at most grocery stores since it’s easy to prepare and use in recipes and I can make sure I have it on hand. This recipe combines cauliflower rice with flavor packed dried herbs and bright, fresh fruit for a crowd pleasing side dish!

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Festive Cauliflower Rice

Makes 4 Servings
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients:

1 Lb Fresh or Frozen Cauliflower Rice
1 Tbsp Dried Parsley
1 Tbsp Dried Thyme
2 Cloves of Fresh Garlic, Minced
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
¼ Cup Chopped Walnuts
½ Cup Pomegranate Seeds
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. My oven has a roast setting, so I used this!
  2. If using frozen cauliflower rice, take it out of the freezer and cook for half of the time it says to on the package, you want the cauliflower rice thawed enough to separate and spread onto a baking sheet, but not heated through or it will be a bit mushy in the final dish.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it with olive oil. Spread the cauliflower rice evenly onto the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until there are some light brown edges developing on the cauliflower rice.
  4. While the cauliflower rice bakes, add the parsley, thyme, garlic and olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat. The herbs will absorb most of the oil. Cook for five minutes, stirring the mixture continuously so that the garlic doesn’t burn. Don’t skip this step or you will be left with super bitter garlic and a less flavorful dish!Cauliflower Rice - 1 (1)
  5. When the cauliflower rice is done cooking, remove from the oven and place in a bowl. Stir in the garlic herb oil mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. In the same pan you used to make the garlic herb oil, heat the chopped walnuts on high heat for one minute, stirring the entire time so that they don’t burn.
  7. Add the walnuts to the cauliflower rice mixture to combine.
  8. Add the pomegranate seeds to the mixture and stir gently.

If you’re not a fan of thyme, try this recipe with rosemary. If you don’t have pomegranates, try using red grapes cut in half. This dish works as a room temperature “salad” for a healthy luncheon dish or a warm side for a dinner, whatever you prefer!

Cilantro Lime Carrots

In my family (of two), one of us is a Thanksgiving/holiday traditionalist who likes things the way they always have been and one of us is not, so we compromise.  These cilantro lime carrots are a perfect example. Traditional roasted carrots are jazzed up by bright and tangy colors and flavors that are the perfect contrast to the rest of the white-ish/grey-ish, decadent, indulgent foods. Go ahead and make some, share some and live a little outside of tradition!

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Cilantro Lime Roasted Carrots

Makes 8 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
2 Pounds of Carrots
Juice From 2 Limes – About 1/3 Of a Cup
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tsp Honey (Substitute Maple Syrup, Etc. to Make This Vegan)
½ Cup Packed Chopped Cilantro
Salt
Pepper

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Wash and peel carrots. Cut them into halves (or thirds depending on their length.) Cut each of those pieces into halves, lengthwise this time and each of those pieces into lengthwise halves.Cilantro Lime Carrots - 1
  3. Toss the carrots with 1/2 tbsp olive oil.
  4. Arrange carrots on a baking sheet. I line mine with parchment paper so they don’t stick. Season with a quick sprinkle of salt and pepper. Pop them in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes until, flipping them halfway through.
  5. While your carrots roast, prepare the dressing in a glass (or other microwave safe) bowl by mixing together the cilantro, lime juice, honey and remaining 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper.Cilantro Lime Carrots - 1 (2)
  6. Take the carrots out of the oven and place in a bowl.  Microwave the dressing for thirty seconds.
  7. Pour the dressing over the carrots and toss to coat. At this point, I like to remove my carrots from the excess dressing and place in a serving dish so they are not swimming in the dressing.  Feel free to pour the excess dressing into a container and serve it along side the carrots!

If cilantro is not your thing, try this recipe with other herbs such as parsley or basil or even a combination of the two! If you prefer flavor but in a more subdued way, try tossing the carrots in the dressing and then baking them.