Baby Greens & Roasted Beet Salad

  
The busier I get, the more simply I find myself eating. I keep certain staples on hand, and, these days (and with the abundance of fresh organic produce Asheville and western NC has to offer) it’s lots of roasted veggies. Beets are one of my favorites, and they star in this super healthy salad. 
Ingredients:

  • organic baby greens (they’re all good, so take your pick)
  • thinly sliced onion
  • roasted beets, chilled and cut in bite sized pieces
  • raw pecans, chopped
  • balsamic vinaigrette (see below)
  • drizzle of sriracha (optional)

Method:

Add all ingredients to the bowl, and use your judgment for how much of each you want. My only recommendation is to make sure you have plenty of greens to balance out the other things. Oh, and don’t overdress the salad! Go slowly and mix gently as to not badly bruise the greens. 

Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  • 1 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey or agave (for vegan option)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar or other tightly lidded vessel and shake, shake, shake. Refrigerate leftovers. (By the way, this dressing is a super marinade.)

See how easy that was? Now you’ll know what to do with those leftover beets. Happy and healthy eating!

Don’t Toss the Microgreens from Your Organic Garden!

Hey, all, I was doing some gardening today when I realized how many times I’ve tossed seedlings that I’ve thinned. About a year ago, I realized that I was just tossing nutrient-rich microgreens. From arugula to kale to spinach, and all types of lettuce, they’re all edible and delicious! I especially love beet seedlings. I used to toss them because I only got about a handful. But that’s more than enough to use as a garnish on top of seared salmon or to add to a salad. They’re loaded with vitamins, nutrients, and flavor. I’ll keep this short: don’t toss the microgreens. Just wash and enjoy.

Chopped Kale Salad with Tumeric Basil Vinaigrette & My Much Needed Metamorphosis 

 
I’ll preface this post by saying that if you’re only here for the totally amazing kale salad recipe, go ahead a skip down the page. I won’t be offended. I promise.

For the rest of you, if you don’t remember me, let me reintroduce myself. I’m Jenna. I garden, I cook, I eat, I own a business, and I write about all of it. I’ve been away from blogging for a bit because I’ve been reevaluating things. I’ve decided to quit my job in academia to pursue my business, Happy-Go-Lucky Foods, full-time, we’ve moved to the mountains of Western North Carolina, and I’ve been eating a gluten-free and dairy-free diet. Because of some “lady issues,” my acupuncturist, Doctor of Oriental Medicine, and friend (all the same person) advised me to change my diet (on top of the Chinese herbs I take daily). It’s been about six months and I’m feeling great. My primarily vegan diet has helped me so much, and I wanted to learn to cook all over again. So here I am. I’m back. I’m different, but I’m back. It’s nice to see you. 
I may be a little rusty at this whole food blogging thing, but here goes…

I’ve been eating tons and tons of fresh produce. From squash to tomatoes to beans, corn, grapes, and kale, I’ve been a total veggie glutton. And living in the Asheville area, I’m so fortunate to have it all at my fingertips. Organic, fresh, local produce perfection is all here, and I couldn’t be more excited. Sometimes, I get a little overzealous, though, and buy more than I can chew. This is totally fine, though, because I get to be extra creative. An overstocked fridge with a spectrum of veggies (some cooked) and an unbridled sense of kitchen adventure led me to my new favorite salad. Are you ready?

For this healthy monster, you’ll need:

  • A couple handfuls of kale, chopped into small pieces 
  • Palmful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Small but of purple onion, diced
  • A few fresh green beans of any variety, cut in small bits
  • Corn, cooked and cut from the cob, about two tablespoons
  • A smidgen of fresh or pickled jalapeños (add as much as you like if you’re brave)
  • Several chunks of roasted and cubed sweet potato (I roasted these babies for soup, but couldn’t help myself)
  • Two tablespoons of the dressing that follows
  • Mixed nuts for a crunchy garnish

  
For the dressing, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup plain rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Several grinds fresh black pepper
  • Pinch dried basil
  1. Place all ingredients in a ball jar and shake like crazy. If you don’t have ball jars falling out of every cabinet like I do, use whatever you have. That’s all there is to it. The turmeric gives the dressing the most gorgeous color and the smell is to die for.

  
Now for the fun part, toss the salad with the dressing, and eat. You’ll have plenty of dressing leftover, but you won’t be able to keep your paws off it. It’s good. It’s really good. 

Kale and turmeric and super foods, and the rest isn’t so shabby either. Food like this makes me forget that I’m eating vegan. I don’t want for anything.

Happy and healthy munching, my friends. I’ll talk to you soon.

Pretty Purple Vegan Cabbage Slaw

Being a foodie definitely has its perks. I’m often the recipient of food stuff that friends purchase and realize they’ll never use. Gold beets? Sure. Twenty pounds of AP flour? Absolutely. Stunning head of magenta-colored cabbage? Bring it on.

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This cabbage, my friends, is the reason for this rainbow-colored vegan delight. It couldn’t be any easier of a recipe, and any excuse to use a mandolin slicer just about makes my day. It could also be adapted for the paleo diet if you nix the salt and sugar. Truth be told, the veggies probably have enough sweetness on their own, but I really dig the sweet/tangy flavor combo, so I do it up with no shame. And the salt is essential for helping the other flavors pop.

Ready for this? Don’t blink.

Ingredients:

  • half head purple cabbage, roughly chopped
  • half yellow bell pepper, julienned
  • half green bell pepper, julienned
  • one large carrot, thinly sliced
  • half sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1.5 teaspoons sea salt
  • cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar

Method:

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Fold to incorporate the wet and dry items together. Refrigerate for at least two hours.

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There. Done.

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Happy and healthy eating, my friends,

Jenna

Spicy and Garlicky Marinated Artichoke Hearts

Marinated Artichoke Hearts

I eat a lot of salad…even when it’s holiday time and I own stretchy pants. When there’s miles and miles of turkey, pie, gravy, pie, casseroles, pie, mashed potatoes, pie, and so on, I need to do even more to make healthy eating a part of my daily life. And playing with different flavors and textures keeps me interested. Because if I didn’t, let me direct your attention to the number of times I said “pie” in the first sentence of this post. I digress…

My latest favorite salad friend is artichoke hearts. And, truth be told, I was using the jarred ones that are readily available in the grocery store. It never dawned on me to make them. So, as with mostly everything else that I’m in food-love with, I decided to scrap the store-bought and make my own.

I wasn’t sure how this would go, so I wanted to make a small batch. I love garlic, I love chili flakes, and I love artichokes. I was sure I’d adore them together. But, if it didn’t work and the recipe was a bust, at least I wouldn’t be wasting a bunch of ingredients…and money. And, I never use other people’s recipes for experimentation; I like to blame only myself for bone-headed brilliance. This could have worked out horribly. But it didn’t. As Murphy and his stupid laws would have it, this experiment was a smashing success.

This is amazingly easy, I promise. Feel free to double or triple this recipe, but to make the same size batch as I did, you’ll need:

  • 14 ounce can of plain, quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar (you could substitute the same amount of lemon if you prefer)
  • Pinch of sugar

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Method:

To a large skillet, add the olive oil, artichokes, garlic, onion, oregano, salt, and chili flakes and cook for ten minutes over medium-low heat. It should just barely be at a light simmer. The goal is for the flavors to meld, not for everything to turn to mush.

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Remove the skillet from the heat and let cool completely. Once cooled, incorporate the vinegar and sugar. Finally, transfer the entire contents to a jar or container with a tightly fitting lid. Refrigerate at least overnight before eating…if you can resist.

Happy and healthy cooking, my friends,

Jenna

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Take a Cheap Vacation with this Mediterranean Potato Salad

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I reeeeeally need a vacation. Unfortunately, I won’t be taking one, at least for the near foreseeable future, and so I decided my tastebuds could at least experience a change of pace. They always have the most fun. So, for this flavor-cation, I’m going to the Mediterranean with this light, bright, organic and super tasty potato salad. It’s even a win for my gluten-free and vegan friends out there, too.

For this recipe, I used:

  • 2 pounds red potatoes, cooked in salted, boiling water until soft; cut into large chunks and let cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour before incorporating the other ingredients
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 10 basil leaves, cut into ribbons
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes (the ones packed in olive oil work best)
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons kalamata olives, sliced
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Dressing to coat
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

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Method:

Place all ingredients in a large bowl once the potatoes are fully chilled and carefully combine. As for the right amount of dressing, you just want the salad to be lightly coated. Add a little at a time until you’re satisfied and remember the potatoes will absorb some. Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to serve.

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For the dressing:

  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 basil leaves
  • Juice of one fresh lemon
  • 1 teaspoon fresh garlic
  • Pinch sea salt
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon honey (or sugar if you’re vegan)

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Method:

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy. It shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds. You’ll have plenty left over after making this potato salad, so enjoy it on fresh greens, on bruschetta, or brushed on grilled shrimp!

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Safe travels, everyone, and bring me back a magnet! 🙂

 

Organic Creamy Garlic & Dijon Salad Dressing

The thing I crave the most is a big, fat salad. Maybe it’s because Florida is always painfully hot and heating up a kitchen is no fun, or maybe it’s because a salad can be uber satisfying. Whatever the case, I had a hankering for an uncomfortably large kitchen sink salad with only-this-will-do Creamy Garlic and Dijon Dressing.

I first had this dressing while working as an intern for a copywriter. Because I worked out of her home, I’d catch glimpses of her super hero-esque mom activities: on the phone with clients while whipping up baked chicken nuggets, doing conference calls with students while making “big salad” with this dressing, making lunches for her husband and/or kids, all while standing on her head and mopping. I was supposed to be learning about copywriting (which I did…maybe) for my collegiate studies, but the big take-home point was this dressing!

While I’ve adjusted it over the years to suit my tastes, the basic idea remains unchanged: lots and lots of garlic.

Ingredients:

  • 10 cloves fresh organic garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup organic white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon organic dijon mustard (Tree of Life brand is my favorite)
  • 2 teaspoons organic honey (go local to help with seasonal allergies)
  • 5 grinds of fresh black pepper
  • Large pinch of sea salt

Method:

1. Place garlic in food processor. I use my small four cup one for this; it’s just the right size.

2. Add the olive oil.

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3. Pulse until it’s completely blended and paste-like.

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4. Add the vinegar, honey, black pepper, and salt. Pulse for about 30 seconds until it’s all blended. If your food processor has the option for chop and grind like mine does, alternate between both. The clockwise and counterclockwise chopping helps to break everything down. If not, it’s not a big deal.

5. Once it’s all blended, add the dijon. I do this last because I like to see how much it thickens the dressing. Dijon is a fantastic emulsifier. Pulse again for another 30 seconds. It should be super thick and creamy besides smelling like heaven.

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6. Finally, choose a pretty, transparent container. I really like to use my vintage cruet that I got for a quarter at at thrift store.

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This dressing keeps very well in the fridge, but I’d use it within a couple of weeks. Trust me, though, it won’t last that long. Oh, and by the way, if your’e feeling gutsy, add some tarragon! The anise flavor really gives this dressing an unexpected and pleasant twist. Happy eating!

Crinkle-Cut Organic Carrot and Feta Salad

I just got back into town from being a bridesmaid in my father’s wedding. And, because my dad is a food fanatic, I gorged myself at the joyous event. I ate sushi, clams casino, tenderloin on crostini, flounder, scallops, lamp lollipops, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. And that doesn’t even include the four course dinner or dessert extravaganza. Last night, I was at a massive, overwhelming, international Vegas buffet where two people happened to get married.

Now that I’m home, I want a simple, no fuss, healthy snack. I desperately need to go grocery shopping, so my fridge is pretty bare bones right now. But a girl’s gotta eat. And this girl’s resourceful. I have a bag of organic carrots and lots of cheese. We always have a ton of cheese.

I grabbed my new favorite crinkle cutter, my veggie peeler, two carrots, feta, and my shall-remain-nameless-always-perfect-for-emergencies Italian Dressing (geeeeeeeeeezfine, it’s Ken’s) , and made the perfect snack. I normally don’t write about quick snacks, but this one warrants a post.

To make this, peel and crinkle cut (or regular knife cut) two organic carrots. Fun colored ones would be great, too. Combine with two tablespoons of feta cheese, one tablespoon of dressing, a small pinch of sugar, and a couple grinds of black pepper. Toss and eat. How simple is that?!?!

The sweetness from the carrots, combined with the salty, tangy bite of the feta make the ideal scarfable snack. Plus, and I can’t ignore this, but the wavy crinkle cut shape is really fun!

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I’ll be enjoying this time and time again. I hope you give it try!

My Favorite, No Fail, Super Easy, Multi-Purpose Dressing

Fact #1: I love condiments. Fact #2: When I think of eating, 99% of the time, some sort of sauce or dressing is involved. Fact #3: I am about to share my favorite universal dressing with you.

1/2 cup organic light olive oil
1/2 cup organic red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon organic dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Shake vigorously. There. That’s it. I usually just make this in a wide-mouth squeeze bottle because it saves me dirtying a bowl and whisk.

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Black Bean and Chick Pea Salad: Protein-Packed and Delicious!


20130820-173456.jpgI’ve recently been eating a ton of legumes. I love how versatile they are and how easy they are to have on hand. I keep them dried in my pantry and even a few cans of organic, low-sodium options for when I’m in a rush. And, when it’s this stinking hot outside, a cold bean salad is a fantastic option for a light lunch or BBQ side dish. When I initially began throwing this together, I wasn’t sure I should blog it right away without getting feedback from my brutally honest friends. Well, it passed the test over the weekend, and I’ve even enjoyed toying around with the leftovers. Moral of the story? I’m now confident enough to share it with you today.

For this recipe you’ll need:

  • 4 cups garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 green cubanelle or small green bell peppers, diced or julienned
  • 1 brightly colored bell pepper, diced or julienned (I chose purple)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño or other hot pepper, finely diced (remove ribs and seeds to keep heat down)
  • zest of one organic lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • few grinds black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic infused EVOO (use plain if you don’t have this)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon local honey
  • 1 minced garlic clove (if you haven’t used garlic-infused EVOO)

Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl, fold gently, and let marinate for at least an hour before eating. This recipe should serve about 10 small portions.

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Tweaks for cheese and meat lovers:

I added a bit of feta cheese and though it was a perfect addition. My boyfriend had it with feta and grilled chicken and thought it made a perfect lunch on a hot day.

Happy eating!