If you’re anything like me, Spring Equinox means a tomato and raspberry juice stained battle across your cutting board as the yams and parsnips of Winter Past slowly lose their appeal to your fruit hungry heart. Or, maybe you don’t have the time to cook, the taste for kale, and getting out your cutting board is a battle alone. Either way, you’re probably reading this because Daylight Savings is a gentle reminder that we are summer bound, and our healthy habits could use a spring cleaning. As we transition from winter’s root heavy harvest, to spring’s brighter bounty, ‘tis the perfect season to reassess your menu. Read on for a few recipes that add a little hop to your health as we transition from spring showers into long hours of sunshine.
We can’t all enjoy the warming weather while sitting Italian villa-side, but we can bring the heart healthy ingredients of a Mediterranean styled diet to our own table. This dish stays low-sodium by using spices for flavor instead of salt, has only healthy fats, and is full of in-season veggies. My favorite part about this recipe is its versatility – if you’re craving something more south-of-the-border inspired, see my list of substitutions.
Serves 4-6 | From The Daniel Plan
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
3 mini cucumbers
12-15 pitted Kalamata olives
½ small red onion, finely chopped
3-4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
18 grape or cherry tomato, halved
1 yellow bell pepper. finely chopped
¼ cup minced fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoon minced fresh oregano leaves
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Kosher or sea salt and black pepper
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
for a twist, replace the lemon vinaigrette with lime, black olives instead of kalamata, black bean instead of garbanzo, and cilantro instead of mint leaves
Place quinoa in a sieve, and rinse well under cold running water for a few minutes. Place rinsed quinoa in a small (2-quart) pan, and add 2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Cover pan with a tight-fitting lid and turn heat to low. Cook quinoa for 18 minutes. Move the pan off the hot burner, and allow to sit for about 7 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and turn out onto a large, flat, rimmed baking sheet, waxed paper, or foil. Allow quinoa to cool. The larger the surface area, the faster it will cool.
While quinoa is cooking or cooling, prep vegetables. Dice cucumber, halve the olives and tomatoes, chop the onion, and cube the feta. Finely chop the bell pepper.
When quinoa is cool, place in a large bowl. Add the vegetables and cheese; mix gently. Serve dressing on the side. Extra dressing will keep a few days in the refrigerator for use over salads or for drizzling over vegetables
Even Goldilocks can’t turn her nose up at this bowl. Stealing a fiber packed food from the breakfast menu and making it appropriate for all hours of the day, savory oatmeal is a blank slate for your own culinary creativity and cravings. With the option of being gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan, it’s safe for most dietary sensitivities, along with being easy to whip up in the workplace. This porridge is just right for staving off any spring shower chills, while still making use of the season’s fresh fruit and veggie bounty. Enjoy with a soft baked egg or Braggs Amino Acids for an extra boost of protein.
Serves 2 | Adapted from Bob’s Red Mill Basic Recipes
2/3 cup Oat Bran Cereal
1/4 tsp Salt
1 ½ cups Water
½ cup Almond Milk (Original)
½ TBS Nutritional Yeast
Salsa or fresh Cherry Tomato
Bring water and salt to a boil. Stir in Oatbran cereal and Nutritional Yest and cook approximately 2 minutes. Garnish with Sliced Avocado and Salsa/Cherry Tomato
*Note: Savory oats also pair well with recipe variations that include baked broccoli, handfuls of arugula, shredded carrot, fresh ginger, peas, and curry spices. Think of your favorite flavors and go to town!
Raw Avocado Mousse:
The first time I tested this on an audience was my mom’s 50th birthday party. The unsuspecting crowd had a unanimous response of delight. Then I announced the dish as dairy-free and avocado based, and suddenly all of our guests developed the palette of Michael Bauer. At my mere suggestion of health they “could definitely tell I used agave instead of white sugar”. Hmph.
Despite their resistance, years later I still get emails requesting the recipe for this heart healthy, anti-inflammatory dessert. Maybe let the main ingredient be your dirty (or more like clean) dessert secret. To satisfy your chocolate cravings without sending your blood sugar soaring, read up and whip away!
Serves 6 | From thevegancookiefairy.com
3/4 cup almond milk
3 avocados, stone removed and flesh scooped out of the skin
1 Cup cacao nibs or powder
1/4 cup agave nectar, or maple syrup
Berries for topping, optional
Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until silky smooth. If your blender is not so powerful, add the cacao bit by bit and stop the blender every once in a while to scrape down the sides with a spatula.
Pour into 6 glasses and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (overnight delivers the best results.)
Guest Blog Post Written By: Kelley Farris