Green Goodness Pasta Salad- Fantastic Food Friday.

Oh my. This Green Goodness Pasta Salad is whoa. It’s light, it’s bursting with flavor and it’s a beautiful blend of tang, herbs and asparagus. I adapted it from the Greed Godess Pasta Salad in Clean Eating Dinner in 30. I’ve had this bookzine for a couple months now and I happened to grab it while meal planning last week. It’s definitely become one of my new favorite pasta salads. And will most definitely make an appearance or two at some potlucks!

green goodness salad

It is a multi-step meal and I while I think it took a little longer than 30 minutes, it was totally worth it. One way to help it go together faster is get everything measured and ready. Oh- and you need to have the chicken cooked, so use leftovers or cook it the day before.

12 oz cooked and cooled chicken, cut into bit size pieces
2 cups asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
12 oz rotini pasta (use whole grain if you want)
¼ cup EACH chopped fresh parsley, cilantro and dill
3 green onions, thinly sliced
EVOO
Salt and Pepper

Blanch asparagus in boiling salted water for 1-3 minutes, until fork tender. Immediately put in a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Let it hang out in the cold bath while you do the rest.
Cook pasta according to directions. When you drain, toss the pasta with a little EVOO to keep them from sticking. I left it in the strainer, but you could also spread it out on a tray or cookie sheet.
For dressing whisk together

½ cup plain Greek yogurt (one 6 oz container)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
1 glove of garlic, finely minced
1- 4 tbsp milk (add one tbsp. at a time to get the consistency of a creamy dressing)

Drain the asparagus. If there’s any ice left you can run warm water over it to melt it, or pick out the ice pieces.
In a large bowl, add pasta, asparagus, chicken, dressing and herbs. Mix until it’s well coated with the dressing. Seasoning with salt and pepper if desired. I was pretty liberal with it.

Fantastic Food Friday- Black Bean Quesadillas

One of my big goals for 2015 is instituting Meatless Mondays. My sister went vegetarian about a year and a half ago, more recently vegan. While she has had tremendous success, I am not quite ready to give up all meat and animal products. So, meatless Mondays it is! Along with that, I am trying to choose more plant based protein sources as well as find local and humanely raised meat sources.

Our first meatless Monday was a big success! Well, I think it was. For dinner we had black bean corn quesadillas. We made things a bit more complicated by making our own tortillas but they were so worth it!

For tortillas, you need

2 ¾ cup flour

1/3 cup lard or shortening

¾ tsp salt

1 cup warm water

(I use lard because we don’t use shortening. Totally not vegetarian, but I didn’t exactly plan very well this week either!)

Dissolve the salt in the water. Mix flour and lard with a pastry blender or fork until it’s all mixed together into small pebbles. Pour half the water over the flour and mix. Continue adding water until everything has been moistened. Knead until you have a medium dough. (Not to soft, but not real stiff!) Divide dough into 12 portions, roll into small balls. Place on plate and cover with plastic wrap. Let them rest for 20 minutes.

Start heating up an ungreased cast iron skillet. On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough into a circle, about 1/8 of an inch thick. Don’t stack these up. Husband and I found it best if one rolled and one cooked them.

Make sure your skillet is screaming hot. Place one tortilla on the skillet. It will bubble. In about 30 -45 seconds flip it over. There should be nice golden brown spots. Cook for another 30 seconds or so. Don’t overcook or they get hard. Don’t use oil or you get fried tortillas. We just threw ours on a plate since we were using them for quesadillas, but if you wanted to keep them warm for tacos, use whatever method you like (roll in foil or put in tortilla warmer). Turn off the stove but keep that skillet close because we are going to use it again!

For the filling, you’ll need

1 cup frozen corn 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed 1 onion, finely diced 1 tsp oil ½ -1 tsp garlic powder ¼ – ½ tsp chili powder 2 tbsp lime juice Salt to taste 8 oz package of cheddar or Mexican blend cheese (or however much cheese you like)

Put the corn in a second ungreased skillet on low-medium heat. Stir and cook until the corn just starts to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Put in a bowl. Place the oil in the skillet and let it heat up. Put the onion in the skillet. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and chili powders. Add the rinsed black beans and stir until heated. Kinda smoosh them down with the back of your spoon. Add the corn back in. When its all combine and warm, put it back in the corn bowl. Mix in the lime juice and salt.

Warm up the skillet again. If you are using store bought tortillas, warm them up slightly on the skillet. You want them warm enough to fold without breaking.

Place 1/12 of the mixture (I totally eyeballed it based on who it was for, kids got a little less than the adults) on half of the tortilla, leaving about a ½ inch of space at the edge. Sprinkle on some cheese. Fold tortilla in half and press down a smidge.

Put the folded tortilla on the hot cast iron skillet. Let it cook for about a minute, watch close so it doesn’t burn. Flip it over, carefully and cook another 30- 60 seconds, just long enough of the cheese to melt.

Cut into wedges and serve with sour cream, salsa, guacamole…

Adapted from The Curvy Carrot and My Worldwide Culinary Adventure.

100 Day Mini Pledges

We really failed on the healthy eating thing the last half of 2014. We started out pretty strong, but baby came, school started, the girls started dance, crosswalk, and other obligations popped up that just made it too easy to eat out, grab convenience foods and otherwise NOT make good choices. (This coming from an RD student….!)

But husband and I have been talking the past few weeks about the changes we need to make. We have three big reasons why- my tumor, A’s allergies and K’s pica. All are kinda getting out of control and I’m convinced they can be helped with a clean, real, whole food diet.

My usual go to resources are the Clean Eating magazine, Eating Well magazine, and the Eat Clean Diet series. But I stumbled across the 100 Days of Real Food website this past year. The blog started as a guide of sorts for families who wanted to cut out processed foods. She posts terrific recipes and I love her lunch box ideas!

For 2015, she has created a 100-day mini pledge. Each week an email will be sent that outlines a small change to take on for just that week. Some mini pledges include eating more fruit and vegetables, removing added sweeteners and no refined oils. Seems simple enough but will really get us going on the right track! I plan on implementing these changes for my own family. Anyone want to join in?

What healthy change are you making in 2015?

Update

Phew. Life! I just finished my 3rd semester as a dietetic student. I had a food science class that took nearly every waking moment. It wasn’t hard, just a lot of work. And I never want to bake muffins again.

I also had a checkup with my doctor. The tumor on my pituitary gland has doubled in size. That’s not good. The largest side is now 10mm and there is now concern that my vision may be impacted if it’s not treated. Thankfully, surgery is last resort and medication will be used. Unfortunately, I am unable to continue breastfeeding while taking it. So, that last few weeks have been spent weaning Vivian. Luckily, she takes the bottle great, it’s more my problem quitting than hers! It’s a hard, hard thing to quit, but I’m starting to feel closure. We are only nursing about two to three times a day (down from 8+!)

We totally feel off the clean eating wagon and got ran over by it. Convenience reigned king in my kitchen the past few months. So I am on a quest to find super easy, quick REAL FOOD MEALS for the next semester. I can’t keep eating crap. I just can’t. I feel miserable. Krissy is pica-ing more and more and Amelia’s rashes are getting worse.

I’m taking three classes next semester. I hope it won’t be crazy, but it probably will! I’m definitely going to need to work on balancing life, school, family and health. Going to be working on putting my goals into words for 2015 in the next week. Health is going to be my number one priority!

I had another article published at SuperKidsNutrition! This one is on pica in preschoolers. Check it out!

We got a dog! His name is Frankie. He’s a husky mix and is a rescue. He’s totally smiles in his sleep.

me and frankie

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Fantastic Food Friday- DIY Dressings

Nothing screams summer more than a huge salad. Crisp romaine lettuce, juicy grilled chicken, cucumber rounds, carrot slivers and sugar peas are just… perfect for summer evenings. Taco salads are wonderful for picnics and potlucks. Fruit salads are the warm weather dessert of choice.

But those dressings can get you into trouble. Store bought ones can be full of sugar, salt, chemicals and who knows what else. So here is a roundup of my current favorites!

First up… Catalina Dressing. If you make taco salad, you gotta have Catalina dressing. I modified this recipe from Simply Scratch. Husband now prefers this over store bought. And so do I.

Catalina Dressing

½ sweet yellow onion
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup honey
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Rough chop the onion and then throw that onion into your food processor and whirl it around a few times to mince it. Add in everything else, except the EVOO. Blend that all up. When it’s good and mixed, SLOWLY, SLOWLY, EVER SO SLOWLY drizzle the EVOO in while the food processor is running. Blend a few more seconds. Store it in the fridge, but I think it’s best served at room temperature.

Next up… Copycat Applebee’s Asian Dressing. I’m so sorry, I don’t have my original source for this. But is so much like the Applebee’s dressing, it’s scary. And if you close your eyes and serve it with romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, crispy noodles, slivered almonds and shredded carrot, you can almost imagine you are out for lunch instead of your kitchen!

Asian Salad Dressing

6 tablespoons Honey
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ tsp sesame oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Blend everything up with a mixer. I use my immersion blender and it works perfect!

How about Lemon Poppyseed dressing? It’s the same one from this post. But here it is again!

Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

1 tbsp mayo
2 tbsp honey
½ tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp lemon juice

Whisk it all together. Pour it over fruit salad, or on romaine tossed with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and pecans.

I haven’t found a great ranch dressing yet. I’m still looking. But two other recipes I’d like to try soon are Creamy Sweet Onion and this Russian dressing.

What’s your favorite dressing to make? Do you have a great ranch dressing you make you want to share with me?

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