Homemade Mexican Viniagrette Salad Dressing

I have found the perfect homemade salad dressing container where you can shake and pour and it’s so easy to clean up!

20140403-114433.jpg

I got this on Amazon and after reading the reviews I clicked order right away.  It has a wide opening to add ingredients and a wide spout for chunkier herbs and onions to get through.  Also, dishwasher safe!

20140403-114443.jpg

Here are my ingredients I added for my Mexican vinaigrette salad dressing.  Olive oil, lime juice, shallots, cilantro, garlic, oregano, roasted ground cumin, a little bit of salsa verde and some chipotle hot sauce.  Added all of the ingredients gave it a shake and it was ready!

20140403-114450.jpg

I made a black bean tostada salad similar to this one here and used this as the dressing.

Healthy Bruschetta

I’ve been reading Breathing Room by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  It’s a romance book set in Italy and I’m halfway through but there are so many mentions of good bread, cheese drizzled with honey & oh my the olive scene in the olive grove.  (You should read it!  Hot.  Then check out all her Chicago Stars books – CANNOT PUT THEM DOWN)

While reading about her characters and the delicious food they were eating I began craving bruschetta.  I decided to make a healthy version and I picked up all of the ingredient at Whole Foods.

20140226-132607.jpg

Whole Foods has only one Whole Grain bread that is freshly baked.  I always have them slice the loaves for me and I buy two loaves every time I am there and freeze the second.  It’s the only whole grain bread my husband actually likes and it took this find to wean him off Wonder bread.

20140226-132615.jpg

I defrosted a bag of white beans I had in my fridge the day before I made the bruschetta.

20140226-132627.jpg

These herbs are such a time and money saver.  I use them many times a week for homemade salad dressings, stuffed peppers or stir frys.  These are frozen basil and crushed garlic cubes that easily pop out from their containers.  I got these at Whole Foods but they have them at Trader Joes too.  I use one cube of basil and scrape a little garlic for most of my recipes.  I find one entire cube of the garlic is too much.

20140226-132637.jpg

To make the bruschetta I chopped up cherry tomatoes & a little bit of shallots.  I mixed the tomatoes and shallots with the white beans, one cube of basil, a small amount of crushed garlic, oregano, black pepper and olive oil.  I let this sit and mixed it up occasionally to help the frozen basil and garlic melt.

I toasted 2 slices of bread while that marinated and then I simply topped the bread with the mixtures and drizzled a bit more olive oil on top.

You must top it off with some Parmigiano Reggiano.  I love to use a vegetable peeler and slice some over the bruschetta.  Whole Foods has delicious Parmigiano Reggiano and a good chunk of it will set you back about ten bucks but a little goes a long way with this flavorful, nutty cheese.

I made extra of the tomato and white bean mixture.  I put it in the fridge to use later to mix in with lettuce to make a salad.

Kale…mmm

20140223-181145.jpg

Yes, her body is sick and yes I stole this picture from Perez Hilton on my phone at 10:54 am.  But this is all about kale not Jen’s stripper body.  I’ve been hearing so much about kale lately especially people juicing with it (Yuck, no thank you).  I realized that I had never tried it and I had it in the back of my mind that one of these days I will venture into a kale recipe.  Then I saw this video.  Click here.

tone it up girls

It’s the girls from the tone it up show on bravo.  All these tips in their videos are great for snacks but this one stood out because I had been wanting to try this amazing nutrient dense food.  They pointed out it is a great lunch to take to work because kale is so hearty it won’t wilt with dressing on it.  So, I went out the next day and bought some prewashed kale from Trader Joes and made a kale salad!  My husband and I had it for lunch on our first day of our recent cleanse.  See here.  His was thrown together in a Ziploc with strawberries, goat cheese, sliced almonds and homemade dressing.

20140207-225434.jpg

Then I decided to make a white bean soup with kale the next week.  I seriously love white beans and white bean soups are my favorite because they are so creamy. I googled white bean kale soup and got ideas for recipes from many sources and came up with this yummy delight.

20140223-181257.jpg

For my husband I added Chicken sausage to my vegetarian soup.  We had grilled cheese sandwiches for a meal during one of our many snow storms here in the suburbs of Philly this winter.

20140223-181307.jpg

Here’s the breakdown with no measurements because I just threw it together.  I used kale, carrots, shallots, onion, vegetable broth and white beans.  I admittedly go overboard am a snob about beans and refuse to use canned beans.  So these I lovingly soaked for 8 hours and then cooked for an hour like I always do.

20140223-181318.jpg

I sautéed the carrots, shallots & onions with olive oil until soft then added the kale for a couple of minutes.

20140223-181329.jpg

I mashed up some beans with a fork in some vegetable broth to add to the soup to help make the soup creamy.

20140223-181403.jpg

This is a little blurry but I threw the sautéed veggies and kale along with the mashed up beans and then some more non mashed up beans in my crockpot.  I added rosemary, oregano, basil and some roasted garlic and voila delish!  The kale holds up great in soups and provides an interesting texture combined with the creamy beans.  I ate this soup for a week!

20140223-181418.jpg

Back to Jennifer Aniston for a moment.  Apparently to get that toned stripper ready body for We’re the Millers she ate veggies, greens, lean proteins and kale.  (Sounds like my soup!)  Also, she did yoga.  And when she wanted to cheat she ate kale chips.  Huh?  Is that a typo eonline?  My cheat is chocolate cupcakes or chocolate chip cookies or even chocolate chips not kale chips.  But one cannot help looking at that picture and not be inspired.  I’m going to add kale chips to my next Trader Joes or Whole Foods shopping list.

Cleanse Day Three

20140211-090158.jpg

Results from our 3 day cleanse:

  • My husband lost 4.5 lbs
  • I lost 5.4 lbs

Woohoo!  That is an average of 1.8 lbs a day for me.  I lost 3.6 lbs on Day 1.  I lost 0.8 lbs on Day 2.  I lost 1 lb on Day 3.  I think my husband didn’t lose as much because he was left to his own to make a couple of his meals and he has never read the Sass book.  We finished our cleanse on Sunday night and I worked all day Sunday and fell asleep early so I just got 3 meals into the day and my husband made himself a Mexican salad while I was working.

Here were our four meals:

Breakfast:  Cottage cheese with pineapple, blueberries and almonds seasoned with Vietnamese cinnamon and vanilla extract.

Lunch:  Strawberry goat cheese salad with almonds, parmesan cheese and homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

Dinner:  I skipped this meal and my husband made his own salad.

Snack:  Strawberry, blueberry, banana smoothie with avocado and Vietnamese cinnamon, vanilla extract, yogurt and milk.

We woke up early Monday morning and worked out.  As soon as we got back, the coffee was set to brew and I popped 2 beautiful slices of fresh whole grain bread from Whole foods into the toaster.  I couldn’t wait to have a crunchy, warm slice of bread and it didn’t disappoint.  I put a little olive oil on it and topped it with a slice of smoked gouda cheese and had some fresh pineapple as well.  I relished every single bite of it!

20140211-104356.jpg

I love eating the 4 small meals spaced throughout the day.  It really does fuel you and we both felt a difference in our energy levels.  It’s just a lot of work preparing 4 meals a day completely from scratch.  Overall, we were both very happy with our weekend cleanse and the true test will be to see if the cleanse weight loss stays off until Friday.  I have 3 more lbs to go to get back to my pre Thanksgiving day weight.  Damn you holiday wine, cheese and desserts!  I better be good this week too.  We have a reservation at my favorite Italian restaurant Friday night for our anniversary/Valentine day celebration.

Cleanse Day Two

20140208-231144.jpg

I lost 3.6 lbs in 24 hours!!!  Boy, do I LOVE cleanses.  Since it was Saturday night we decided to head out for a Cleanse Date Night to Saladworks.  I explained to my husband (who has been a vegetarian for almost 2 days at this point — a record for him)  in the car that a cleanse dinner is a salad with vinaigrette with non meat protein with an unsweet iced tea and no carbs.  So, he steps up and orders a chicken Caesar.  Ugh.  I give him the look and he then orders a healthier salad with chicken and ham and balsamic vinaigrette but fails again at the register with a wheat roll and an Arizona sweet iced tea.  To which he gets the look again and he shrugs and says at least he didn’t get the white roll.  I’m sure with his splurge he’s still going to lose like 25 lbs in 3 days.  I hate men and their metabolisms.

Back to the cleanse, Here were our four meals:

Breakfast:  Coconut Milk Strawberry Yogurt (Greek Style) with strawberries, blueberries and Vietnamese cinnamon.

Lunch:  Strawberry goat cheese salad with almonds, parmesan cheese and homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

Dinner:  Greek Salad with unsweet iced tea from Saladworks.  (The aforementioned meat salad with sweet tea and carbs for my husband)

Snack:  Pineapple, blueberry, banana smoothie with Vietnamese cinnamon, vanilla extract, yogurt and milk with a side of 2 tablespoons of sliced almonds.

The Greek Salad from Saladworks had so much dressing on it I couldn’t finish it and I even asked him to go light on the dressing.  Despite that I did really enjoy our healthy Saturday night out.  Although, last Saturday night out was much more fun and included chili relleno and tequila.

The smoothie was so delicious.  I cut up a fresh pineapple and threw in about 4 blueberries and a half of a banana.  Yum.

I did the Tone it Up girls Yoga workout again.  The link is here.  The weird seductive intro I could do without and the rose petals scattered about remind me of  the 90’s cheesy glamour shots.  Otherwise I really love it and check out her downward dog.  Impressive!

20140208-230554.jpg

 I can’t wait to weigh in tomorrow morning and get the final results!  Also, I can’t wait to eat carbs again even if it is brown rice, corn tortillas and whole grain bread.

Also, when we got home my husband really did not know that Caesar dressing is bad for you.  Good thing I’m the cook in this family.

Cleanse Day One

20140207-225350.jpg

Friday we started our Sass inspired Cleanse.  I created a menu with no carbs and more variety of food compared to the 5 Day Fast Forward Cleanse.  Here were my four meals.

Breakfast:  Strawberry Parfait with Vietnamese cinnamon, vanilla extract and sliced almonds.  Coffee with 2% milk.

Lunch:  Kale Salad with homemade vinaigrette, black beans, Salsa Verde, Roasted Cumin, Peppadew peppers

Dinner: Mexican Salad with homemade lime vinaigrette, romaine lettuce, salsa, black and kidney beans, avocado, cilantro, roasted cumin and cheddar cheese

Snack:  Smoothie with a half of a Banana, Strawberries, Frozen Mango, Vietnamese cinnamon, vanilla extract, yogurt and milk with a side of 2 tablespoons of sliced almonds

I was very sore from working out on Thursday so I did 20 minutes of yoga in the morning.  Have you seen the Tone it Up girls on Bravo?  I love those 2 perky trainers.  They have great youtube videos I’ve been checking out.  This is one of my favorite yoga workouts because it has most of my favorite poses:  cat pose, triangle, runners lunge, pigeon pose, spinal twist and one minute of meditation.  Check out the link below.  Namaste!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBl2SSOjLYE

20140207-225409.jpg

I made a pitcher of unsweetened iced tea with passion fruit and black tea, sliced lemons, limes and oranges.  Here’s a better recipe but I didn’t have the apple juice, frozen raspberries or mint.  http://bloggitude.com/2011/01/18/my-sangria-tea/.

I made our smoothies with our new personal blender that arrived yesterday.  You can only make one smoothie at a time but it’s easy to clean and easy to maneuver because it is very portable.

20140207-225425.jpg

My husband had to go to work so I made him a Kale salad.  Kale holds up really well all day with dressing on it.  It doesn’t wilt.  I didn’t have a to go container large enough for the salad so I threw his into a huge Ziploc with strawberries, goat cheese and almonds.  They have plates and forks at work.  He wasn’t forced to eat his cleanse salad out of a Ziploc bag.  Also, below I sent him off with a yogurt, Ziploc of 2 tablespoons of almonds and a banana.

20140207-225434.jpg

20140207-225445.jpg

Overall the first day went great.  The lowfat yogurt had too much sugar in it so next time I would go with nonfat but my goal with this cleanse was to find quicker solutions for a cleanse that has variety.  I can tell by the end of the day I feel lighter and more energetic.

Healthy Panini

I took whole grain bread & spread the bottom with a little goat cheese.  I then added chopped peppadew peppers, arugula, little olive oil & red wine vinegar then topped with some baby swiss cheese.  Put a little olive oil on the top & bottom of the bread then press down on the panini press & voila:

I came up with this on Saturday and just used what I had in the fridge.  I spent all day cleaning and was considering going out to grab something but threw this together instead.  I loved the peppery taste of the arugula with the spiciness of the peppadew peppers.  And of course cheese makes everything better.

The first time I had peppadew peppers was in the Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich from Panera Bread.  If you haven’t tried it you should.  I take out the red onions but this sandwich is fantastic.  Check it out here.  They put it on their tomato basil bread and the crust has a touch of sweetness on it.  So Yum.  I had one last week actually.  Love Panera!