Cheese · dinner · easy · healthy · lunch · quick · salad · Vegetables · vegetarian · veggies · Yummy

Farro Arugula Salad

There was a time in my life when salads were a type of punishment. As a teen, I would routinely eat minuscule salads every night, iceberg lettuce drizzled in flavorless fat-free Italian dressing (15 calories per serving!). I discovered ranch dressing around the age of 16 at my first waitressing job, and didn’t learn about arugula until I was twenty-three when I worked at a higher end French cafe in New York. It opened up a whole new world (cue the song, please).

At the age of 18, I lived in New York with several lovely ladies. A few of them knew how to cook, or were at least good at having real food around. I was at a loss for how to put together proper meals. My undeveloped 18-year-old brain just couldn’t fucking handle it. I mostly ate canned clam chowder, breakfast cereal, bagels from a street cart, sandwiches, and the occasional salad. Now, let’s be clear about these salads. They consisted of iceberg lettuce (ew), pre-shredded cheddar cheese (ew), croutons (fuck yes!), and ranch dressing. If I was feelin’ fancy, I’d throw a boiled egg on top, or maybe even a microwaveable vegan chicken patty.

I took home-ec in high school, and vaguely remember learning how to make scrambled eggs in a microwave (WHY) and rice crispy treats. But no one ever taught me how to make a meal with raw ingredients. Outside of eggs, the first “proper” meal I learned how to make consisted of cream of chicken soup, white rice, chicken breasts, and a packet of dried onion soup mix. I was just fucking stoked to be using the oven at all. Seriously, what was the point of home-ec?!

In fact, I was so clueless about food that I literally purchased a head of cabbage instead of lettuce on one of my first shopping trips in New York. My mom had always purchased it for me, so I didn’t know the difference. It gets worse. I proudly took that head of cabbage home with me and immediately made a salad with it, gloating to my roommates that I knew how to prepare healthy food. I then ate the entire salad before noticing that I had purchased the wrong thing. I mean, let’s be clear, I knew it didn’t taste right. I’m not a fucking moron. I suspected something was off, but was too embarrassed to say anything. Then my roommate brought it to my attention that I was eating a bowl of fucking cabbage. Let me tell you – it doesn’t matter how much ranch you douse it with… it’s still fucking cabbage.

My salads have come a long way since then. I’ve learned to genuinely love them. While I still have a weakness for ranch dressing, I usually opt for something lighter and homemade. This salad is dressed very simply with a little olive oil, lemon, and salt and pepper. It can be served warm or cold, though I prefer warm. It never occurred to me that a salad could be warm until I started exploring food outside of my comfort zone, which is something I highly recommend. Not sure where to start? Find a recipe that peaks your interest (maybe this one), write out a list of ingredients, and go for it.

And for the love of all that is holy… if you aren’t sure what you’re buying, just ask someone at the store. If they’re a dick about it, tell them to fuck off. We’ve all got to start somewhere.

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Farro Arugula Salad (inspired by HelloFresh)

3/4 cup farro

1 yam (or sweet potato), peeled and cubed

1 medium onion, sliced into larger chunks

1/2 lemon

1/4 cup dried cranberries

Olive oil

3 cups veggie stock

Arugula (as much as you want)

A small handful of sunflower seeds

Goat cheese

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Toss the cubed yam and sliced onion with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread it out on a baking sheet and bake for about 30-40 minutes, stirring it around halfway through.

While the veggies are roasting, bring the stock to a boil in a medium pot and add the farro. Simmer for about 30 minutes, but keep checking it. You want to make sure it doesn’t overcook, or run out of liquid and burn the shit out of the bottom of the pot (this has definitely happened to me more than once). Once the farro is fully cooked, drain out any excess liquid in a colander and return to pot. Add in the yam and onion mixture, along with a handful of sunflower seeds, the cranberries (this doesn’t really need to be measured), the juice from half of a lemon, a heavy drizzle of olive oil, and a little salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything together and scoop over a large handful of arugula. Sprinkle with some crumbled goat cheese.

Serve this to your friends while pretending to be fancy as fuck, and maybe they’ll forget about the fact that you used to not know the difference between cabbage and lettuce. Or that you still don’t know the different between a yam and a sweet potato.

dinner · easy · gluten free · healthy · lunch · mushrooms · quick · salad · sides · vegan · Vegetables · vegetarian

Roasted Mushroom Arugula Salad and a Bruised Ego

Hannah and I decided to try the adult version of paint by numbers. Did y’all know this was a thing? I fucking didn’t. But it showed up on Hannah’s Facebook newsfeed with a timelapse video of someone completing a whole painting in like a minute. It looked like a fucking masterpiece, and we were convinced. I have a fucking art degree – this’ll be a breeze. Right?

Wrong.

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It’s an elephant. Can’t you tell?

I couldn’t even finish filling in all the #1 spots. And this took me two and a half hours. To make matters worse, sitting for that long was fucking painful. Why? Because my klutzy ass fell down the stairs the other day. It would be funny, except I landed directly on my tailbone… and then bounced down another 4 stairs. Fuuuuuck. That shit hurt both my ass and my ego. Luckily, there was no one around to witness it. And I was able to get up quickly enough to avoid curious neighbors peeking out their doors, wondering what in the fuck crash landed into their apartment building. Nothing to look at here – just a chubby girl. Please look away.

I’m literally traveling to Hawaii today, which means my sore ass will be on a plane for 8ish hours. And I always pick a window seat because I want something to lean against, and I hate people. This means I’ll have to make 2 other people move for me to relieve the pressure on my ass. Sigh.

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I made this salad as a side dish from a Hello Fresh recipe a few weeks ago. It was paired with a brie grilled cheese. I just scooped the salad right into the center of that sandwich. It was fucking brilliant. Try it out. Pro tip: To save time, you could just saute mushrooms, but you can’t do as many at once.

Roasted Mushroom Arugula Salad

8-10 button or crimini mushrooms, sliced

1 large handful arugula

2-3 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar

Juice from one wedge of lemon

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon fresh Rosemary, minced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the mushrooms with a heavy drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread out onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with the Rosemary. Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Place the arugula into a medium mixing bowl. Top with the roasted mushrooms. Drizzle with the Balsamic, olive oil, and lemon juice. Add and little salt and pepper and toss to coat everything. Serve right away with a grilled cheese – shoveling all that green goodness into the sandwich.

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This is after another hour of painting.

Cheese · dinner · easy · gluten free · healthy · lunch · quick · sides · Vegetables · vegetarian · veggies

Zucchini Corn Salad and Saying Yes

I booked another trip to Hawaii. It feels indulgent and grandiose, but I don’t care. I’m allowed. As my luminescent (yes, that is the right word) yoga teacher (and friend) reminded me… I’m allowed to say yes. To life. To love. To adventure. To the things that feed my soul. So here I am… saying yes to the impractical. The lavish. The extravagant.

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Sometimes I feel guilt around going for the things I want. Sometimes my anxiety chimes in and says, “Who do you think you are? You don’t get to do this. You’re not special.” But then I remember that it isn’t about being special. It’s about being alive. I exist, therefore I matter. And I don’t have to make decisions based on anyone else’s ideas of what I should or shouldn’t be doing with my life.

As my therapist so adequately put it… I want “all the good stuff.” There’s nothing wrong with that. So many people think they don’t deserve it, or that they’re not enough. I thought that for years. Fuck that. We all deserve the good stuff. Go get yours and hold on tight.

Plans for my Hawaiian vacation coming up in 3 short months: Spending lots of time with both Cortney and the guy (Cortney keeps referring to “joint custody” and “co-parenting,” which fucking kills me), swimming in the mermaid caves, hiking to the tide pools, eating the most delectable pork sandwich in the world (don’t judge me), mochi every damn day, rocking chair sitting, epic conversations, sunrises and sunsets at the beach, and just all around fucking enjoying myself.

I made this salad several weeks ago when I just wanted something quick, healthy, and cheap. The only ingredients I had to buy were the zucchini and corn – everything else was already in my kitchen. After making this, I definitely thought to myself, “Fuck. This is going to taste like crunchy water,” and immediately planned to order a pizza afterwards. It was shockingly delicious and satisfying, though! Who knew? Add this to your weekly recipe repertoire, especially in the summer. It’s hot as hell outside, and we could all use a break from the stove and oven. It’s also nice to take a break from ordering delivery or take out, mostly because I hate putting on pants. Fuck pants. Why can’t I answer the door in my underwear?

Zucchini Corn Salad

1 zucchini, peeled thin with a vegetable peeler

1 ear of corn (cut the corn off the cob)

1 small tomato, chopped

Goat cheese

A handful of pine nuts, toasted (Not sure how to do that? Check it out here.)

A handful of basil, chopped or torn

Salt and pepper

Red pepper flakes

 

Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette

1/2 cup olive oil

Juice from 1/2 of a lemon

1 tablespoon basil, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

 

For the vinaigrette:

Mix all that shit together in a mason jar and shake well. Done. Nailed it. Good job.

For the salad:

Place a handful of the zucchini strips into a large, shallow bowl. Add as much corn as you’d like (I used about half), along with the tomato. Toss with a couple tablespoons of the vinaigrette and top with salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, pine nuts, torn basil, and goat cheese. As with anything else I recommend eating, do so without pants. Pants are prisons.

Side note: The photos are about to get SO MUCH BETTER. I got a new phone (Google Pixel), and the camera on it is fucking magic.

avocado · breakfast · brunch · easy · eggs · gluten free · healthy · quick · vegetarian

Breakfast Salad and Life Changes

As many of you know, I have a bit of a yoga obsession. It’s right up there with ice cream for me. I’ve only been practicing for a little over a year, but feel drawn to yoga unlike anything else. So I’ve decided to take the leap and sign up for a teacher training program. This doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to most people, but this is huge for me. I’ve never loved something enough to really dive in head first like this. I mean, not as a adult. There are things I’ve dabbled in, or thought about doing “someday.” This is the first time I ever thought to myself… what about now?

I had been talking myself out of it for months… telling myself that I wasn’t good enough yet, that I needed more practice… that I had to nail that headstand first. I thought I’d take the training next year, once I was ready… once everything was perfect. Fuck perfect. I’ve been waiting my whole life to take chances, to believe in myself enough to jump in. I’ve been waiting for everything to align perfectly, so that I’d then feel ready, and wouldn’t have to worry about failure. Failure isn’t so scary. It just means we wanted something enough to try. What’s wrong with that?

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I’m drinking with Hannah this weekend, so there will be stories next week. And more snark. I guess I’m not always feeling snarky. This week I’m feeling inspired.

I would also like to mention that I based 2 people at the same time in Acro Yoga this week. Like a fucking bad-ass.

Breakfast Salad

2ish cups of mixed greens

1 egg

Shredded carrot (like half a carrot’s worth)

2ish tablespoons thinly sliced onion and/or chopped green onion

2ish tablespoons chopped bell peppers

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

Salt and pepper

Dressing:

1/4 avocado

1 tablespoon stone ground mustard

3 tablespoons water

Juice from one lemon wedge

Salt and pepper

Fill a small sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. Lower in egg with a slotted spoon and let boil for 6 minutes (or, if you’re like me, 9 minutes…. but then the yolk will be hard and sad). A 6 minute egg will be soft-boiled, which is wonderful on salad. The yolk mixes with the dressing and makes everything more delicious. Eggs are the only food that come with their own sauce. USE IT.

While the egg is boiling, throw the greens and veggies into a large bowl. Mix the dressing together by throwing all ingredients into a bowl, and mushing it all together with a fork. Drizzle over the salad, and top with the soft-boiled egg (don’t forget to peel it). If you eat meat, add a little bacon to this.

I have found that this salad does not need cheese. The yolk is rich enough. However, if you feel the need to have cheese, no one is stopping you.

I’m a big fan of pairing this with a donut. But you do you.

 

dinner · gluten free · sides · vegan · vegetarian

Salad with Avocado Dressing

A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me about healthy foods. I was just learning how to cook, and she wanted to know what she could make on a week night that was healthy, but quick to assemble. I stated the obvious – salad. She actually said to me, “I don’t know how to make salad.”

What do you mean?! 

Doesn’t everyone know how to make a salad? I mean, you literally just throw vegetables into a bowl, and you’re done. It couldn’t be any fucking simpler. It’s like telling me you don’t know how to make a sandwich. I just don’t understand.

Salads get a bad rap for being too healthy, or not being healthy enough (i.e. taco salad), and for lacking flavor. I have a friend that often refers to them as “bowls of sadness.” I find this simultaneously hilarious and frustrating. It doesn’t help that most people grew up eating crappy bottled salad dressing and flavorless iceberg lettuce. I grew up dousing everything in ranch dressing, and that included all my vegetables. (I’m from Minnesota. It’s what we do.) I also ate croutons like they were chips. You know those Texas Toast ones with the seasoning? Those are fucking delicious. I ate them by the handful, and routinely bought 6 bags of them at a time. But! They are not even close to being healthy. That goes for most bottled dressings, too. That shit is full of chemicals and preservatives. You’ll be doing your body a huge favor if you just start making your own salad dressing. And stop eating croutons. It’s really easy, I promise.

This recipe can be an entree, or a side dish. I usually eat it for dinner, in a medium sized silver mixing bowl, at least once a week. I’ve had people comment on the size, but it’s just vegetables. You can’t judge someone for eating too big of a salad. I mean, really. Don’t be a dick.

Yes, this salad has a lot of fat in it. Before everyone panics about consuming too many fat grams, let’s consider what is actually included in those fat grams… fucking tons of vitamins and nutrients. It’s all healthy fat, and so amazingly good for you. Avocado fat and McDonald’s fat are not the same thing.

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Salad with Avocado Dressing

4-6 cups mixed greens (please never use iceberg lettuce again)

Salt and Pepper

Add all your favorite vegetables, seeds, nuts, cheese, meats (or whatever you have handy). I usually like some variation of the following:

Onion

Tomato

Bell pepper

Cucumber

Carrot

Sunflower seeds

Crumbled goat cheese

I like to slice everything really thin, and even use a peeler for the carrot. It’s a nice texture. Chop everything however you like. Once you’re done topping your salad, you’ll mix up the dressing.

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Avocado Dressing

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1/3 to 1/2 avocado, mashed

1-2 tablespoons spicy mustard

1 lemon wedge

1/8 cup water

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk everything in a bowl (or blender, if you want it really smooth), and toss with salad.

Eat it, and feel good about yourself.