Spring Caesar Salad with Roasted Chickpeas and Za'atar Croutons

Spring Caesar Salad with Roasted Chickpeas and Za'atar Croutons

This spring Caesar salad is packed with seasonal produce like sauteed asparagus, crispy cucumbers and peppery radish mixed with arugula! Crunchy roasted chickpeas and za’atar seasoned croutons balance out the meal with protein and carbohydrate. One of those salads that will be on repeat all season!

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Banh Mi Bowl with Lemongrass Tofu Meatballs and Sriracha Aioli 

Banh Mi Bowl with Lemongrass Tofu Meatballs and Sriracha Aioli 

This banh mi bowl is the meal in a bowl of your dreams! Top brown rice with lemongrass tofu meatballs, pickled daikon and carrots, tons of fresh herbs, crispy cucumbers and a spicy sriracha aioli drizzle. You'll love all the different flavors and textures! Perfect for meal prep because it's delicious straight out of the refrigerator. 

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Tandoori Salmon with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Tandoori Salmon with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Make this quick and easy recipe for tandoori salmon with cucumber yogurt sauce! Tandoori is a delicious Indian spice that pairs perfectly with salmon. The cucumber yogurt sauce helps to cool it down a bit. Serve with grilled vegetables and cooked grains to make a complete balanced meal! 

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Sesame Soba Noodles

Sesame soba noodles! Toss whole grain soba noodles in a creamy tahini sauce then add crunchy carrots and cucumbers to make this cold Asian salad. 

Oh hayyyyy there sesame noodles. Don't worry, we'll come back to you. But first, let's talk Olympics.

Tell me, are you watching? What's your favorite sport? It's badmitton, isn't it? ;) I'm typing this while watching women's gymnastics qualifiers. Sidebar - Simone Biles OMG!!! How does your body do these things? I literally do not understand.

I'm always super ambivalent about the Olympics when they're first starting then two days later I find myself in tears watching some random Armenian's medal dreams get crushed. Currently, I've cried at least five times including when the Dutch cyclist crashed, when Gabby Douglas stepped out of bounds during the floor routine, and when my husband made a remark about the diversity of American athletes showing off what's cool about our country. Tears. What is wrong with me? I think I need to get my hormones checked...

So back to these sesame noodles. I'm a huge fan of Asian noodle salads. It's all the things I want in the summer. Salads and substance.

You'll want to find soba noodles if you can. One hundred percent buckwheat are my jam, and gluten free too for those who must avoid, but the whole wheat or mixed buckwheat and wheat are easier to find and work just fine. Regular spaghetti also works in a pinch.

This sesame sauce is the bestest. Most sesame noodles use sesame oil as a dressing, but sometimes that gets a bit greasy. So I used tahini, which was almost like a peanut satay sauce. Actually, you could probably use peanut butter instead of tahini and it would be equally amazing.

To round it out, add rotisserie chicken or baked tofu cubes. You could also serve it over a bed of lettuce for more green.

Sesame Soba Noodles

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 ounce soba noodles
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha
  • 1/2 cup scallions, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into half moons
  • 2 carrots, shredded

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook soba noodles according to package instructions. When cooked, drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. While noodles are cooking, whisk together tahini, sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and sriracha.
  3. Toss noodles in a large bowl with dressing, scallions, cucumber and carrots. Serve room temperature or chilled.

More Asian noodle salads:

Curry Salmon Noodle Bowl
Curry Salmon Noodle Bowl
Vegan Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodle Salad with Tempeh
Vegan Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodle Salad with Tempeh
Kimchi Noodle Salad
Kimchi Noodle Salad

Black Garlic Tofu and Mango Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

These vegan black garlic tofu and mango spring rolls are a unique spin on traditional flavors! Serve with a sweet and savory peanut dipping sauce. 

Before we went to Vietnam last year, I had dreams of learning to create authentic versions of all the delicious food we ate on our trip. Then after a street food tour of Hoi An where we learned just how much time and effort went into perfecting each dish, how street food vendors spend their lives cooking the same dish each and every day, passing their secrets down to their children, I realized authenticity was kind of a silly dream. Now when I'm craving Vietnamese, I go to a local Vietnamese run restaurant or if cooking at home, use the recipes as inspiration, not a rule. Kind of like I did with these black garlic tofu and mango spring rolls! Not authentic at all, but SO delicious and packed with summer flavor.

When we were in Vietnam, we sampled dozens of different spring rolls with different types of rice paper wrappers, fillings, and sauces. Also, using rice paper to make rolls out of shrimp pancakes or grilled pork skewers  with herbs at the table was really common. When I spotted these brown rice paper rolls at Earth Fare, on a whim I decided to whip up spring rolls with what I had on hand.

Impulse buy number 2 - black garlic from Trader Joes. It had been sitting in my vegetable basket at least a week or so while I tried to figure out what on earth to make with it. All the recipes I found were a little too chefy for me (black garlic ice cream....errr, no thanks). In the end, I simply blended it up with tamari to make a simple sauce for pan seared tofu.

If you've never tried black garlic before (I hadn't!), it's a typically Asian ingredient made by slowly caramelizing whole heads of garlic over the course of a few weeks. It tastes sweet and just barely garlicky, more like balsamic vinegar or a savory jam to me. If you can't find it, honestly you could just leave it out and swap flavored baked tofu or plain pan seared tofu. While you can taste the rich and savory flavor it lends behind the sweet mango, fresh herbs and peanut sauce, it's not super obvious, so feel free to let those flavors shine.

Rolling spring rolls can be a little tricky, but the good news is they don't have to be pretty, just edible. Rice paper gets soft with just a couple seconds in warm water, no boiling needed. Layer the ingredients in a line down the middle, fold the edges in, then roll. It's kinda like making a mini burrito!

Black Garlic Tofu and Mango Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Makes 16-20

Ingredients

Black Garlic Tofu:

  • 1 lb block firm tofu
  • 6 peeled black garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Spring Rolls: 

  • 8 ounce package brown rice paper rolls
  • 8 ounce bag cellophane noodles
  • 2 mangos, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and sliced
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed mint leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups sprouts or microgreens

Dipping Sauce: 

  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili oil (or 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Instructions

  1. Remove block of tofu from container. Wrap with paper towels or a kitchen towel and place on a plate topped with a heavy can to drain for 30 minutes.
  2. While tofu is draining, make the dipping sauce. Blend all ingredients together in a blender or food processor and puree until well combined. Taste and season with salt to taste. Pour out into bowl and clean out blender or food processor to use for making black garlic sauce.
  3. Blend together black garlic, soy sauce and water until pureed. Set aside. Cut the tofu in half through it's widest part, then cut into thin sticks. Heat sesame oil on medium high heat. Add tofu and sear. Flip every 3 minutes until most of the tofu is crispy and lightly browned. Pour in sauce, cook until thick and mostly of the liquid is evaporated, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside until ready to use.
  4. Cook rice vermicelli according to package directions. Using kitchen shears, cut into the noodles making 3-4 cuts so they aren't quite so long.
  5. Arrange the spring roll fillings (tofu, noodles, mango, cucumber, pepper, mint and sprouts for easy assembling.
  6. When ready to assemble, fill a shallow bowl with very warm water. Dip a rice paper roll into the water, pressing gently to submerge until pliable, about 10-20 seconds. Remove, shake off extra water and place on work space. Press 2 mint leaves down the center of the wrapper. Top with 2-3 sticks of tofu. Top with a small handful of rice vermicelli noodles, cucumber, red pepper, mango and sprouts. Be careful not to overstuff. Fold top and bottom edges over the edges of the filling. Carefully wrap one of the edges not covered in filling over the top of the filling, then roll into a roll, pressing in the edges and filling as needed to keep it compact. Set aside and repeat with remaining rice paper rolls and filling.
  7. Serve with peanut sauce for dipping.

You might also like: 

Vegan Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodle Salad
Vegan Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodle Salad
Curry Salmon Noodle Bowl with Soy-Lime Dressing
Curry Salmon Noodle Bowl with Soy-Lime Dressing
Kelp and Zucchini Noodle Salad with Mango and Peanut Sauce
Kelp and Zucchini Noodle Salad with Mango and Peanut Sauce

California Roll Sushi Burrito

If you don't live in a big city, your only chance at enjoying a sushi burrito is making one at home! Learn how to make this easy California roll sushi burrito. 

A few months ago when I went to Virginia/DC for my sister-in-law's bachelorette and to wrap up work on Joyful Eating with Alex and Anne, I had a not so top secret side mission - to get a sushi burrito.

I kept seeing my New York and DC friends posting pictures on instagram with both hands clutching an extra large sushi roll stuffed with all things delicious. Can you say food FOMO? Come on Columbia, can we get with the program and convert one of our million burger joints to a sushi burrito place?

As it got closer to my trip, I googled all the sushi burrito joints in and around DC and plotted them on a map to see if I would be nearby. Unfortunately, I wasn't, but I figured it was worth a special trip. But somehow, when I was there, time slipped away from me and I never had a chance to fulfill my sushi burrito fantasy.

So, I decided to make it at home, which turned out to be a lot easier than I thought. Thanks to this handy video from my friend Lisa at Healthy Nibbles and Bits, I got my wrapping skill down pat. Rather than rehash the details and tips, I'll just point you over there!

For filling, I turned to the classic California roll for inspiration. I found canned crab clawmeat at Trader Joe's, which tasted not quite as good as fresh, steamed crab, but mixed with a little mayo and stuffed into a sushi burrito, I couldn't taste the difference. Just don't use imitation crab, which isn't actually crab but rather a processed stick of starch and random bits of white fish. Blech.

California Roll Sushi Burrito

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup short grain brown rice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 8 ounces crab meat
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 sheets of nori seaweed
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 small avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • Optional, for serving: wasabi, soy sauce and pickled ginger

Instructions

  1. Place rice in a colander and rinse under cold water, shaking rice from side to side until water runs clear. Place rice in a pot with 2 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer 40-50 minutes until rice is tender and water is absorbed. Uncover and let rice cool 15 minutes. Whisk together vinegar and sugar, drizzle over rice and stir to combine.
  2. While rice is cooking, mix together crab meat, mayo and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Place seaweed shiner side down on the counter or on a bamboo sushi mat. Scoop a quarter of the cooked and seasoned rice over the top. Using wet fingers (keep a bowl of water nearby for dipping your fingers), spread the rice evenly over the top. About 1 inch away from the end of the roll, scoop a quarter of the crab filling. Next to it, lay a few sticks of cucumber, then a line of shredded carrot, a few slices of red pepper, a few slices of avocado. Sprinkle sliced scallion over the top of the fillings.
  4. Check out this video for rolling technique. If you have foil, wrap it up in foil to prevent filling from falling out the bottom (not biggie if you don't!). Serve with soy sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi, if desired.

Curry Salmon Noodle Bowl with Mango and Soy-Lime Dressing

This curry salmon noodle bowl with mango is packed with fresh flavors! Drizzle with a soy-lime dressing for even more of a kick! 

Curry Salmon Noodle Bowl with Mango and Soy-Lime Dressing

With intuitive eating, you're never done learning. I consider myself a fairly intuitive eater at this point, but I still have learning moments! Like last Thursday, for example.

It was a really crazy day with leading a lunch and learn at Colonial Life, a client session, our last meeting before launching Joyful Eating and an evening meeting for our Columbia dietetics association, where I'm serving as the education chair for the second year. Running around all day, I wasn't really hungry and ended up eating a late, light lunch. Going into my five pm meeting, I felt comfortable, probably a five on the hunger/fullness scale. I figured I'd be ready to whip up dinner as soon as I got home, but as the meeting ran late, my stomach started to growl, my head started to throb - I was famished.

After the meeting was over, I was way too hungry and tired to cook and decided to meet my husband and friends at our local soccer bar where they were planning to watch the Copa America game. I glanced over the menu, and even though I knew Thursday was curry night and they make seriously one of the best curries I've had, my famished stomach was yelling "YOU NEED THE BURGER WITH BACON AND FRIED EGG AND CHEESE AND AAAAAALLLL THE FRIES."

Three bites in and I had regrets. What my body was really craving was to feel energized after a long day and for fresh flavors with lots of spices. Not a greasy burger, which was already making my stomach hurt.

Years ago, I would have beaten myself up for it. Blamed willpower. Told myself I was a poor excuse for a dietitian. But instead, I filed the experience into my mental bank where it'll serve as a reminder to be prepared with snacks and reheat and eat meals on full days and that when I'm really physically hungry, any food will fill the empty hole in my stomach. And then I stared longingly with sad puppy dog eyes when my friend was served his delicious looking chicken and vegetable curry, being the mature adult that I am.

This curry salmon noodle bowl is super filling, energizing and packed with the same fresh flavors I was craving that night. If only I had the ingredients on hand that day to whip this up real fast!

Ever since our trip to Vietnam, I've been obsessed with noodle salads. I usually use rice noodles or cellophane noodles, which are very thin and have a nice chewy texture. Plus, they soak up all the delicious flavor from the dressing. Also, feel free to use different vegetables or protein if you like. Chicken, pork or baked tofu would go great here, and for vegetables, radish, peppers, snap peas and sprouts would all add a similar fresh crunch.

Curry Salmon Noodle Bowl with Mango and Soy-Lime Dressing

Serves 4

Ingredients

Dressing: 

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar or coconut sugar

  • 1/4 cup warm water

  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded, finely minced

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • Juice of 1 lime

Bowl:

  • 1 1/4 lb salmon filet

  • 1/2 teaspoon Thai curry powder (or regular curry powder if you can't find it)

  • 8 ounces cellophane or brown rice noodles

  • 1 head butter lettuce, stemmed, chopped, rinsed and dried

  • 1 large carrot, shredded

  • 1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks

  • 1 mango, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced

  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced

  • 1 scallion, sliced

  • 1/3 cup cilantro leaves

  • 1/4 cup cashews, toasted and chopped

Instructions

  1. First make dressing. Whisk together sugar and warm water until dissolved. Whisk in jalapeno, sesame oil, soy sauce and lime juice. Set aside until ready to use.

  2. Heat oven to 250 degrees. Pat salmon filet dry with a paper towel, place on a baking sheet and spray lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with curry powder and season with salt and black pepper. Place in the oven and roast until it flakes easily with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Use scissors or shears to cut a few times into smaller strands.

  4. Divide butter lettuce between four bowls. Break salmon into pieces. Divide carrot, cucumber, mango, avocado, scallion and cilantro between the four bowls. Sprinkle with cashews. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

More fresh flavors for summer: 

Dark Cherry and Crispy Proscuitto Salad

Dark Cherry and Crispy Proscuitto Salad

Green Panzanella

Green Panzanella

Tropical Vegan Salad with Mango Macadamia Dressing

Tropical Vegan Salad with Mango Macadamia Dressing

Ahi Poke Bowl

Embrace the Hawaiian food trend with this ahi poke bowl, inspired by a trip to the Islands! Try it with tofu for a vegan version! 

When we were in Hawaii this past December, I kid you not, the hubs and I ate ahi poke every single day. We were discussing recently and I think that it might be our new favorite food of all time. I joked that I might rename my blog an ahi poke a day, but seriously, I might.

Almost as soon as I got home, I dreamed of recreating the dish. Luckily I got the chance when Food and Nutrition Magazine's blog said they were on the lookout for Hawaiian recipes and I basically emailed and said "Pick me!! Pick me!!!"

And they did :) So head on over to Stone Soup blog to grab the recipe for my ahi poke bowl!

Gazpacho Pasta Salad

This whole grain gazpacho pasta salad is packed with cucumbers, tomatoes and is the perfect make ahead lunch for back to school time. 

I was asked to participate in the #PastaFits campaign as part of my work with Healthy Aperture Blogger Network. I was compensated for my time. Thanks for supporting the brands that help make Avocado A Day Nutrition possible! 

Hey guys! Excited to bring you the first of a 3-post collaboration with Pasta Fits! If you glance at my archives (or in my cabinet for that matter), you'd quickly see that I'm a big fan of pasta. Like, huge.

The theme for the first month of #PastaFits is back to school. Whether you have kids or not, September seems to be that time of the year when many start to settle down from a summer full of indulgence with healthier goals in mind. Of course, the holidays are right around the corner, making this month critical for establishing and solidifying healthier habits to take you through the smorgasbord coming straight at ya in November.

A great goal to start with is planning and preparing a healthy lunch on the weekend. Spend just 30 minutes prepping a big batch of whole grain based salad and you've got a third of your meals covered. BAM.

If you're looking for a family friendly salad to last all week, look no further than pasta salad. I mean, who doesn't like pasta? No really, who? I'm curious to know if there is one single person. My hypothesis is that every single human being who has ever experienced pasta loves it, but I could be wrong. Probably not though.

Sadly, there's a much larger number of people who absolutely love pasta who don't eat it because they think it's unhealthy. Ain't that a shame. First of all, there's always room for foods that bring you joy. But also, pasta is perfectly nutritious. My top choice is 100% whole grain, which is made with all whole grain flour. Whole grains are great for all sorts of things - cholesterol, weight management, keeping you full, and keeping your blood sugar steady.

Guess what else is good for blood sugar control? Pasta salad! Really! Studies have shown that cooking and cooling pasta helps lower the glycemic index even further. Once the starches in pasta are cooled, they turn into something called resistant starch. Similar to fiber, resistant starch doesn't break down into glucose, or sugar. This also means you absorb less calories and it feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut.

Another thing to love about pasta salad: it's an easy way to use up leftovers. As I learned this weekend hanging out with mostly parents, not wasting leftovers is a constant battle parents go through. Simply add leftover vegetables or proteins to this salad which bulks it up throughout the week. Garbanzo beans, other cheeses, broccoli, carrots, peppers, and zucchini would all be tasty tossed in here.

Gazpacho Pasta Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces 100% whole grain penne
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/3 cup basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • pine of red chili flakes
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and diced small
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped small
  • 1/4 cup black olives, chopped
  • 1 8 ounce ball of mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add penne and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside to cool.
  2. While pasta is cooking, add canned tomatoes, basil, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, chili flakes and sugar to a food processor. Blend until pureed. Season with salt and black pepper.
  3. Place diced vegetables, olives and cheese in a large bowl. Add dressing. When cooled a bit, add pasta and toss to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Will last 5 days in the fridge.

More delicious pasta dinners that show how #PastaFits:

Spaghetti with Tempeh Sausage Marinara and Artichokes
Spaghetti with Tempeh Sausage Marinara and Artichokes
Pasta with Creamy Sage Pumpkin Sauce, Cremini Mushrooms and Peas
Pasta with Creamy Sage Pumpkin Sauce, Cremini Mushrooms and Peas
Spaghetti with Clam and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Braised Kale
Spaghetti with Clam and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Braised Kale

Vegan Vietnamese Brown Rice Noodle Salad with Sesame Tempeh

Vegan Vietnamese brown rice noodle salad is packed with bright, fresh flavors from crunchy raw vegetables, fresh herbs, spicy sesame tempeh and a tangy sesame vinaigrette.

Happy Monday! Sending this post out from the airport on my way to Lodi, California, where I'm spending the next three days traveling with California Almonds. Very excited for this amazing experience, and to learn about my favorite nut along with some incredible RD bloggers. Follow me on instagram for updates!

This trip is the start to a season packed to the brim with travel. Next week I'm headed to Chicago, where I'll be spending a few days exploring the city with my mom before my cousins wedding. The week after that, we're headed up to Philadelphia a dear friends wedding. Then I'll have a few weeks at home before I head to Nashville for FNCE, the national conference for dietitians. From there (and I mean literally from there, like, the day after FNCE ends) I'm headed off for the two week trip of a lifetime with my hubs to....

VIETNAM!!

Hence this Vietnamese rice noodle salad, which I'm sure after eating authentic Vietnamese rice noodle salads I will look back on and cringe.

I won't lie, looking at my calendar, rapidly filling appointment slots and wondering when I will have time to keep up with this little blog of mine, it's a bit exhausting. But I mean, getting a free trip to California, having mother-daughter time in an awesome city, seeing lifelong friends and making new ones, going to freaking Vietnam...I really can't complain!

Right after my husband, travel is the love of my life. Nothing makes me feel more alive than exploring a new place and soaking up every last drop. Even if it's in our own state, it brings a joy to my life that I can't quite describe.

There's a saying attributed to the Dalai Lama to "once a year, go someplace you've never been before." I love this advice. Traveling, more than taking a vacation, expands your life in so many ways. It builds confidence, makes you a more compassionate person, opens your mind, makes you less materialistic, and (I think) sexier.

Travel can make you healthier. Looking back at my life, I truly believe traveling as a child was the single greatest factor in me becoming a dietitian and making my wellness a priority. Really. If you think travel is all about indulgent restaurants and skipping workouts, well, you're right, but there are other ways travel can make you a healthier person.

It's helps you see past the insanity of fad diets. When you travel around the world, you see a wide range of traditional diets. You also see how the people eating these different diets are generally pretty healthy, much healthier than we are here in the States. For example, in Peru, potatoes were a major part of every meal. At the farmers market, there was an entire potato section which consisted of two 30-foot long tables overflowing with dozens of different types of potatoes. I also saw native Peruvians absolutely whooping fit Americans on the Incan trail. Our guide said Peruvian guides hiked to Machu Picchu and back in one day. It takes other travelers three days, one way. It's kind of hard to give in to the low carb propoganda after seeing that.

Travel expands your taste buds. Picky eaters...not exactly the healthiest. Travel exposes you to new foods and flavors. When you're a more adventurous eater, eating healthy food is less about dieting and more about trying new and delicious foods.

Travel makes you appreciate what you have. In many countries, poverty is much more visible than we're used to. Seeing how people not only live, but in many ways thrive, with much less material possessions than we're used to, makes you truly appreciate what you have. When  you truly feel grateful for the food in front of you, it seems wasteful not to enjoy and savor it mindfully.

Travel motives me to be healthy later in life. Scott and I are planning our lives to ensure we're able to travel as much as possible, as late into life as possible. I am fully prepared to be that little old lady, cane in one hand, Scott's hand in the other, navigating the streets of some small European town.

You don't even have to travel to exotic places to get these benefits. Exploring new places in your own backyard can be just as beneficial, and fun! Some of my favorite trips have been less than a couple hours drive - camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains, hiking with friends in the upstate, and exploring historic sites in South Carolina. You can even learn a lot from exploring your own town with fresh eyes!

Do you love to travel? If so, how has it enriched your life and made you a healthier person? 

Vegan Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Sesame Tempeh

Serves 6

Adapted from Thug Kitchen

Ingredients

Ginger-Sesame Tempeh:

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons coconut oil

Salad:

  • 8 ounce package thin brown rice noodles
  • 1 head of butter lettuce, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
  • 1 large cucumber, julienned
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 cup sliced green onion
  • 1/2 cup cashews, toasted
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Toasted Sesame Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Instructions

  1. First, make the tempeh. Cut the tempeh into 16 slices width-wise. In a medium bowl, whisk together the rest of the tempeh ingredients. Pour over the tempeh in a shallot bowl, flip to coat evenly with marinade. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

  2. When ready to cook, warm 1-2 teaspoons in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add tempeh slices and cook 3-4 minutes, flip, then cook 3-4 minutes on the other side. Remove and set aside while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  3. To make the salad, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles and cook according to package directions. When they are done, drain, rinse under cold water until cool, then set aside.
  4. While the noodles are cooking, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
  5. Divide the salad greens between four plates or large bowls. Top with a scoop of rice noodles in the center. Place the carrot, cucumber, herbs and green onion in piles around the noodles. Drizzle with dressing, top with cashews and serve.

More recipes inspired by my travels:

Chermoula Roasted Eggplant with Bulgur Salad
Chermoula Roasted Eggplant with Bulgur Salad
Crispy Potatoes with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce
Crispy Potatoes with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce
Spanish Chickpeas and Greens
Spanish Chickpeas and Greens

Zucchini Chickpea Balls with Chopped Greek Salad

Highlight summer produce with this month's Recipe Redux Recipe - zucchini chickpea balls with chopped Greek salad! 

Hi kids! Today is Recipe Redux, so you'll be getting a bonus recipe this week PLUS because I got a little carried away with the theme, a recipe roundup!

This month's theme is Fresh from the Garden, highlighting summer produce from the farmer's market, CSA or, as in this case, my backyard!

When we bought our house, I got inspired by a Southern Living article and decided that one day we would have fully edible landscaping. A fence of grape vines, fresh herbs in lieu of flowers, a perfectly distressed farmhouse table under a peach tree for shade...you get the picture.

Then we actually attempted our first garden an realized this whole vegetable growing thing isn't as easy as it looks. I think our yield was 4 peas, 3 tomatoes and maybe one oblong cucumber? Four years later, we're just happy to finally have more grass than weeds.

To our surprise, this year our garden has been mildly successful. Apparently, sunlight and water help. Who knew? We've had tons of heirloom tomatoes, a few Japanese eggplants, lots of basil and more zucchini than I know what to do with.

One thing I've learned from our successful turn at gardening - sometimes the bounty of summer produce can be overwhelming! When you know how much work has gone into growing a single tomato, the last thing you want to do is waste it. Here's a guide to summer produce so you can make the most of perfect, in season fruits and vegetables!

BERRIES // Store loosely covered with a dry paper towel in the refrigerator and eat quickly as berries are highly perishable. Freeze clean berries in a single layer then transfer to a zip top bag for storage.

Ginger Berry Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie (Edible Perspective)

Quinoa Superfood Breakfast Bake with Berries (One Ingredient Chef)

Baked Oatmeal with Bananas and Berries 

CORN // The sugars in corn quickly convert to start, so it's important to eat corn quickly after harvest. You can slice the kernels off the cob and freeze.

Mexican Street Corn Chopped Salad 

Charred Corn with Pistachio Cilantro Lime Rub (Joy the Baker)

Chipotle Corn Cakes with Avocado and Goat Cheese (Naturally Ella)

CUCUMBERS // If unwaxed, cucumbers can get slimy and go rotten quickly, so wrap with a kitchen towel and refrigerate.

Green Fiesta Juice (Nutrition Stripped)

Cucumber Mint Cocktail (Dietitian Debbie Dishes)

Fermented Dill Pickles

EGGPLANT // Look for eggplant that is heavy for it's size and springs back when pressed. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Chermoula Roasted Eggplant with Bulgur Salad

Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango (Serious Eats)

Grilled Eggplant and Pesto Sandwiches (Love & Lemons)

MELONS // Look for melons that are heavy for their size. Cantaloupes and honeydew should smell sweet when ripe. Watermelon is ripe when the pale spot on it's rind is a creamy yellow.

Cantaloupe Aguas Fresca 

Watermelon Cucumber Smoothie  (Healthfully Ever After)

Watermelon and Feta Salad 

PEACHES // To ripen a peach, store it at room temperature on the counter, stem side down. To further speed up ripening, store it in a paper bag where the trapped gasses will help ripen the fruit.

Flax and Oat Porridge with Grilled Peaches (A Cozy Kitchen)

Mason Jar Peach and Arugula Salad 

Peach Almond Yogurt Cheesecake Bars (The Roasted Root)

OKRA // Look for small okra, less than 3 or 4 inches long. Store in a paper towel or paper bag  in the refrigerator, as it will wilt or dry out if not not kept in breathable environment.

Blackened Okra (Naturally Ella)

Spicy Pickled Okra (Cottage at the Crossroads)

Roasted Okra with Chili Oil (Marisa Moore Nutrition)

PEPPERS // Peppers do well in the freezer. Chop and freeze in a zip top bag until ready to use.

Quinoa and Kale Stuffed Peppers

Spicy Peanut Soba Noodles with Veggies (Keepin It Kind)

Polenta Stuffed Poblano Peppers (Edible Perspective)

SUMMER SQUASH // Smaller squash between 6-8 inches taste the sweetest. Squash doesn't freeze well, except if you grate it first. Grated squash can be mixed into stir fries, pasta sauce or used in baking.

Zucchini Poblano Cornbread (Yeah...Imma Eat That)

Summer Squash Pasta with Green Goddess Dressing (Sprouted Kitchen)

Green Panzanella with Zucchini and Cucumbers 

TOMATOES // To ripen tomatoes, place in a brown paper bag with a couple holes along with an apple. Never refrigerate tomatoes, which ruins their flavor.

Tomatoes Stuffed with Pesto Brown Rice and Chickpeas

Taboulleh Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes (Tartelette)

Pasta with Cilantro Pesto, Corn and Tomatoes (Oh My Veggies)


Zucchini Chickpea Balls with Chopped Greek Salad

Ingredients

Zucchini Chickpea Balls:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated
  • 1 small red onion, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Greek Salad: 

  • 3 cups halved cherry tomatoes, preferably heirloom, halved or quartered if large
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dill, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mash chickpeas with a fork or potato masher until smooth. Mix in almond meal, zucchini, onion, egg, garlic and salt until well combined.
  3. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil. Form 12-16 golf ball sized balls and place evenly on the baking sheet. Spray the tops of the balls with olive oil. Place in the oven and bake 20-30 minutes, flipping halfway, until golden brown.
  4. While zucchini balls are baking, make the salad. Toss cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper and olives together in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Season with sea salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Garnish with dill.