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Watermelon Salad with Avocado, Feta, Mint and Pomegranate Dressing

2 Jun Watermelon Salad with Avocado, Feta, Mint and Pomegranate Dressing

Whew!  The blog has been silent for quite sometime, but I have a good excuse…

We packed up Baby Bird for her first international jaunt to Paris and Ireland (Yes, I realize that it sound weird to list a city and then a country as separate destinations, but I figured it was easer than listing every town we visited in Ireland!) where we all ate entirely too much bread and cheese for 15 days.  But we ran it off…

The Hubs on a morning Paris run

The Hubs on a morning Paris run

The Hubs completely dominating The Cliffs of Moher

The Hubs completely dominating The Cliffs of Moher

International travel even has a way of making ME look like a competent runner

A little run through The Burren- International travel even has a way of making ME look like a competent runner

So I guess we sort of had baguette immunity since we were running.  That’s a thing, right?

We’ve only been home a few days- we are currently struggling to get a toddler back on the correct time zone… YIKES!- and I’m trying to keep things simple, so when we got an invite to a friends house for dinner* I went with my very favorite, super simple summer combo of watermelon and feta for our addition to the fete.  Just to be fancy, I jazzed it up with avocado, mint, and a pomegranate simple syrup that were still all very easy but felt slightly elevated.

To be clear, this is the salad that will accompany me to all gatherings in the next few months.  So if you invite us over, don’t you add this to your menu and then expect me to arrive with a berry crostada embellished to look like the American flag.  You’ve been warned!

Okay, okay… if you ask really nicely, I’ll still show up with a patriotic dessert.

But you better have plenty of watermelon salad!

 

*If you invite people over for dinner after they’ve been out of town with a toddler for awhile, you are totally awesome.  Chances are anyone traveling with kids is exhausted and looking for any excuse to not have to cook a meal at home… and then clean it up!

Watermelon Salad with Avocado, Feta, Mint and Pomegranate Dressing

Watermelon Salad with Avocado, Feta, Mint, and Pomegranate Dressing

  • about 1 lb watermelon, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 avocados, cubed
  • 6 oz solid feta, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 2 sprigs of fresh mint
  • 1 cup unsweetened, pure pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

In a small saucepan, bring pomegranate juice, sugar, and maple syrup to a simmer and reduce to form a thin simple syrup.  Set aside in a container to cool.

Layer watermelon, avocado, and feta in a large serving bowl.

Pick the mint leaves from the springs and chiffonade.  Sprinkle leaves across the top of the feta layer.

Serve with dressing on the side (the most attractive presentation) or toss with simple syrup dressing just before serving.

 

Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans and Grapefruit

13 Jan Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans, Grapefruit, Avocado and Kefir- Go Running, Mama!

Last week I intended to post about my goals for this year.  Actually, I planned to post within a few day of my recap of last year’s goals but I just hadn’t seemed to settle on measurable parameters quickly enough to do so.  Then I meant to get them typed up this weekend.  And again today…

Maybe one of my goals should actually be typing up and airing my goals?

In reality, two of my very huge goals for this year are putting my family (That include ME!  I’m a part of that family so my needs are going to become more important too!) ahead of everything else and being honest with myself about each day’s “must do’s” as opposed “like to do’s.”  Guess where my goals blog post falls?

What was a “must do” today were some household responsibilities and then allowing Roomba to do my vacuuming while I enjoyed some crafting and  outdoor time with Austin’s most natural gardener.

Go Running, Mama!

Seriously.  That adorable little one wins every time.  And I’m not allowing unnecessary responsibilities to make me feel bad about that anymore.

And, of course, dinner was on that “must do” list as well.  After a day of play and a later than expected work evening for The Hubs it really became a “must do quick” sort of task.  So I kept it quick and dirty easy and healthy.

Quinoa, kefir sauce, black beans, mashed avocados, and grapefruit… in a pretty little pile on a plate. Done and done.

And now I’m off… because sleep is topping my “must do” list right now!

Bonsoir!

Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans, Grapefruit, Avocado and Kefir- Go Running, Mama!

Quinoa Bowl with Black Beans and Grapefruit

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can Eden Organics BPA free black beans
  • 2 grapefruit
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 limes
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup plain kefir
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/3 cup green onions, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

Rinse the quinoa well in a strainer until water runs clear.  Add to a sauces pan with vegetable broth and  bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, uncover, and fluff with a fork.  Set quinoa aside to cool.

Drain and rinse black beans.

In a small bowl, mash avocados with a fork.  Add juice from one lime, diced yellow bell pepper and salt to taste.  Set aside.

In another small bowl mix kefir, juice from one lime, cilantro, green onion, and salt to taste. Set aside.

Cut the pith and peel from the grapefruits.  Using a paring knife, remove each grapefruit section.

To serve, assemble ingredients in a bowl- quinoa, kefir sauce, black beans, guacamole, and grapefruit sections.

If storing, keep ingredients separate and assemble when serving.

Get to Know Your Grains: Pearl Barley (Barley Salad with Tomatoes and Peaches)

1 Aug Go Running, Mama!- Get to Know Your Grains: Pearl Barley Salad with Tomatoes and Peaches

I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a household whose carbohydrate consumption came from potatoes, white rice, white bread, and enriched wheat pasta.  Who can blame my mom?  She was feeding a family consisting of two carnivorous meataterians who abhorred cruciferous veggies and anything “new”, herself- a lifelong locavore gardener and diet dabbler, and me- an angsty teen vegetarian weirded out by beans- on a limited budget in a suburb where access to alternative choices was limited.  As can be imagined in such circumstances, by the time I graduated from college the thought of consuming another baked potato or serving white rice next to baked chikin was enough to fully extinguish my appetite.

When I started branching out as an adult, I have to admit that it took a little getting used to when experimenting with grains that had actual flavor, complexity and mouth-feel.  I wasn’t used to really having to chew carbs.  Fast forward to the present and I’m pretty sure that at this point I could differentiate between most grains in a blind taste test based on texture and flavor (Uh oh… Did I just discover a new, lame party trick for myself!?)

I’m normally a Whole Foods shopper, but in the un-suburban Stepford-esque utopian community I live in there is a pretty fancy HEB supermarket within easy jogging distance so every once and awhile I will shop there with the Baby Bird especially since they installed a “Buddy Bucks” machine that gives kiddos points for every Buddy Buck they earn while being helpful shoppers (I don’t know for sure, but the CEO must have a toddler!).  I’ve noticed that they have a pretty impressive bulk including nuts, spices, “healthier” treats, and grains.  I’ve also noticed that normally the only people shopping the grains when I’m there is myself and the Bird who always points out to me that everyone else is “getsing the Sunny Fruits snacks” instead.

It’s human nature to default to the things we are most familiar with, so I can only assume that is what is happening with grains- if you’re not familiar maybe you avoid them!?  That makes me sad because I LOVE grains, so I thought I’d start a little informal series spotlighting some really great grains.

Barley seemed like a great place to start because I made an awesome, easy meal with it several days ago.  And because most people think of beer first when they think of barley which, even though great beer is awesomeness, totally sells barely short. In this recipe I used pearl barley which is refined slightly for quicker cooking time.

A bit about pearl barley…

Pearl (or “pearled) barley is a wheat free- but NOT gluten free– grain option.  Pearl barley is barley that has had part of its outer bran layer removed along with the hull making it, technically, a refined grain.  Barley however contains fiber throughout the entire kernel and not just the outer layer so it retains beneficial fiber and associated nutrients through processing.  Pearl barley cooks much quicker than whole grain barley.  Look for pearl barley that is tan in color as opposed to white to ensure it has retained some of its outer bran layer for maximum nutrient density.

Nutrition Information (1/2 c cooked pearl barley)

  • Calories- 97
  • Carbohydrates- 22 g
  • Fiber- 3 g
  • Total Fat- .35 g
    • Saturated- .5 g
    • Monounsaturated- .5 g
    • Polyunsaturated- .15 g
    • Omega-3 Fatty Acids- 16.5 mg
    • Omega-6 Fatty Acids- 101.5 mg
  •  Protein- 1.75 g
  • Vitamin K- .6 mcg
  • Thiamin- .05 mg
  • Riboflavin- .05 mg
  • Niacin- 1.6 mg
  • Vitamin B6- .1mg
  • Folate- 12.5 mcg
  • Calcium- 8.6 mg
  • Iron- 1 mg

Go Running, Mama!- Get to Know Your Grains: Pearl Barley Salad with Tomatoes and Peaches

Pearl Barley Salad with Tomatoes and Peaches

  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 lb (about two) heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 peach
  • several sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Himalayan sea salt
  • pepper

Directions: Boil barley in a pot a water for 20 minutes.

While barley is boiling, diced tomatoes and peach.  Strip thyme sprigs of their leaves and add to tomato/peach mixture.  Add olive oil, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.  Toss to combine and coat.

After 20 minutes drain barley and rinse with cold water.  Toss tomato mixture into barley.

Serves- 3 adults and 1 toddler as a meal.

Remember to carefully check the package on all foods you purchase and consume if you are excluding an allergen or ingredient from your diet.  Just because the raw ingredient normally does not include an allergen does not mean that certain brands do not process or expose ingredients to allergens.  Know your brands and their manufacturing processes!

Baked “Fried” RED Tomatoes

22 Jul Go Running, Mama!- Baked "Fried" Red Tomatoes

Thursday night is normally a pretty casual dinner around our house.  My husband incorporates two days of fasting into his nutrition routine, one of which is Thursday, so I normally use that as a leftover evening or graze of fruit and cheese with the little one while we enjoy a guitar serenade from fasting Daddy.

This Thursday I intended to cut up a plate of fruits and veggies to share with the Baby Bird and make myself a big salad in order to use up our more delicate local produce before we eft for a weekend mini-vacation.  Quick, easy, resourceful.

Thursday evening, however, Daddy came home and let me know that he had adjusted his fasting days for the week and would be joining us for our evening meal.  Here is a little nugget about our relationship- my hubby is a gracious and reasonable man who would be perfectly happy eating our simple fasting night fruit and veggie plate with us, but he works so hard every day to provide and opportunity for me to stay home raising our daughter that I feel like he deserves a “real meal” for dinner.

I surveyed the items I had pulled from the fridge to utilize that evening- an arugula mix of salad greens from Animal Farm, peaches from Cooper Farms, and two beautiful tomatoes from Finca Pura Vida.  I couldn’t help but think that this would make a for an indulgent fried green tomato salad if my tomatoes weren’t so beautifully red.  But seriously, who laments juicy, red tomatoes!?

It might make me seem a bit petulant, but I couldn’t get the idea of fried green tomatoes out of my mind.  Plus, I had some beautiful breadcrumbs I had just made from the leftovers of a rosemary farmers’ loaf and a jar of roasted green pepper harissa in the fridge that would make an ideal condiment.  I also knew from previous experience that I can bake almost anything instead of frying- with equally crispy-delicious results.

Maybe, in theory, baking slices of red tomato in substitution for frying slices of green tomato is a sacrilege… especially for a Southern girl like myself.  But let me tell you, y’all… in practice it is anything but.  Those lovely red tomato slices came out fabulously crunchy and golden but without losing any of the slightly-firm-yet-juicy-deliciousness you get from a perfect, ripe tomato.  Bravo, Finca Pura Vida- y’all know what you’re doing over there on your vines!

Whisked up a quick dressing (Dressing in our house is a “little o’ this, little o’ that” affair created measurement free and on the fly.  For this salad it meant rice wine vinegar, olive oil, aioli, ume plum vinegar, and a dollop of garlic & onion jam being glugged together and seasoned with coarse salt and pepper.), drizzled it on, and tickled my arugula greens a la Jamie Oliver to dress them (love him or hate him, Jamie Oliver’s salad tickle fingers are the only respectful way to dress your salad).  Layer on sliced peaches, your baked red tomato slices, and a dollop of spiciness et voila!

Quick, easy, fresh.

Oh, and delicious!

Go Running, Mama!- Baked "Fried" Red Tomatoes

Baked “Fried” RED Tomatoes

  • 2 tomatoes, slicked thick
  • 1 1/2 c cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 c bread crumbs
  • 1 c plain kefir
  • 1 tbs fines herbes
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a baking pan lined in foil with olive oil.  Set aside.

Sprinkle the cut sides of the tomato slices with salt and lay on a clean dish towel or paper towels.  Flip after 10 minutes.

Place cornmeal in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper.  Add kefir to a second shallow dish.  Place bread crumbs in a third shallow dish and season with salt, pepper, and fines herbes.

Dip tomato slices in cornmeal, then kefir, then the breadcrumb mixture and spread on the baking pan.  Bake for 15 minutes then remove from oven and flip with an offset spatula.  Return to the oven for 15-20 more minutes until tomato slices are golden brown.

Serving suggestion: Serve on an arugula mix salad dressed lightly with an aioli-based dressing with sliced peaches and a dollop of roasted green pepper harissa.

Serves 2 adults and 1 toddler.