Melon and Mint Salad with Coconut and Pistachios

Melon and Mint Salad with Coconut and Pistachios

This melon and mint salad is my summer go to when watermelon and cantaloupe are at their peak ripeness. It's super simple and a portable side for bringing to barbecues. You can even turn it into a main dish salad by adding avocado and grilled shrimp! 

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Classic Green Smoothie + Review of The Natural Pregnancy Cookbook

This classic green smoothie is naturally sweetened with mango, watermelon and strawberries. Easily digestible and packed with nutrients to jump start your day! 

Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of The Natural Pregnancy Cookbook. I was not compensated to write this review. 

Remember back in the day when your facebook news feed was filled with pictures from going out the night before and slightly un-PC status updates (which have since been deleted because OMG WHAT DO YOU MEAN FACEBOOK ISN'T PRIVATE?!?!?). Sigh. Those were the days...

Now it's babies. Baby announcements, babies being born, babies in oversized onesies, babies growing into toddlers, toddlers throwing tantrums, toddlers making a mess, toddlers growing into kids, kids throwing tantrums, kids saying totally inappropriate yet hilarious things (my personal favorite of the bunch). Yup, at 31, we're at that age.

Babies just aren't in the cards for the hubs and I (so if that's where you thought this was going, sorry to disappoint). While we love our friends and families kids with all our heart (because we love our friends and families with all our heart), we are just not baby people. I can't think of two people who know less about babies than the two of us. Recently, when Scott saw our friends 2 1/2 year old walking and talking, he exclaimed, "I didn't realize they were already functional at that age!" I made fun of him, but secretly, I was surprised as well.

Except for the basics on how it starts, there's just one thing I know about pregnancy. It's scary. Apparently, there are all these awful people who drown pregnant women with unsolicited advice, especially about diet, leaving them feeling completely overwhelmed and fearful that everything they eat will cause their baby to come out with two heads. And then they judge you if you do not accept said advice.

What jerks.

My pregnant or trying to become pregnant friends frequently come to me for nutrition tips or with questions about dubious advice they were given. Being honest, I'm not the expert when it comes to nutrition during pregnancy. There's a lot I learned for the test then promptly forgot!

So when my friend Dr. Sonali Ruder of The Foodie Physician reached out to see if I'd like to check out her new cookbook, The Natural Pregnancy Cookbook, I happily accepted. Clearly my personal knowledge ain't cuttin' it!

The Natural Pregnancy Cookbook is more than a cookbook. It's as comprehensive a resource on nutrition for pregnancy as you can get without being overwhelming. It discusses everything from healthy weight gain, food safety, nutrients of concern, pregnancy cravings and side effects. And of course, there are tasty recipes for pregnancy that are simple enough to make after the little one comes along. I've got my eye on her salmon oreganata, miso roasted brussels sprouts and roasted butternut squash salad with maple dijon vinaigrette ;)

One other thing I know about pregnancy: morning sickness is awful. I shared an office with someone through two pregnancies. I remember the retching. Consider me traumatized.

It can be difficult to get the much needed nutrients in when you're feeling nauseous. Cold and easily digestible smoothies can be helpful since they don't have a strong scent, which can trigger nausea. Throwing some greens in your smoothie is always a good idea, but especially so during pregnancy. Greens are an excellent source of folate and iron, two critical nutrients during pregnancy.

This green smoothie from The Natural Pregnancy Cookbook is pretty fantastic as a basic smoothie recipe. It's nice and light, but you could always dress it up with a scoop of nut butter or even a little plain protein powder. The recipe calls for watermelon which is out of season right now, but luckily I had some frozen cubes leftover from making my Hawaiian fruit freezes. If you can't get your hands on any, just use extra strawberry. If you're feeling nauseous, throw some ginger in this. Not only is it delicious, but it's been shown to be an effective treatment for morning sickness. 

Also, totally unrelated but I wanted to share pictures from a fun photoshoot I did recently with the lovely Celia of Celia G Photographie. I've been wanting to get professional pictures done for the blog and media work, and I am so so happy with how they turned out! She perfectly captured the joy and easy going attitude I want to convey with my brand. Celia is an absolutely fabulous person and super talented - trust me, I'm much more awkward in real life ;) These pictures are even more special now after the flood. The riverwalk, one of my favorite spots in Columbia where we took most of the pictures, was completely devastated.

Classic Green Smoothie

Serves 2

Feel free to use all spinach or kale if you don't feel like purchasing both.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mango
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cubed watermelon
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, preferably organic
  • 1/2 teaspoon spirulina (optional)
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Divide into two glasses and serve.

More smoothie recipes from the archives:

Raspberry Rooibos and Gingery Green Tea Smoothies
Raspberry Rooibos and Gingery Green Tea Smoothies
Turmeric Smoothie with Mango
Turmeric Smoothie with Mango
Wild Blueberry and Ginger Smoothie
Wild Blueberry and Ginger Smoothie

How To Make A Mason Jar Salad

Learn how to make a mason jar salad that will stay fresh for five days. Plus recipes for watermelon feta salad, spring quinoa salad with lemon-mint dressing and peach and arugula salad! 

I’m a sucker for cute food packaging. Maybe that’s subconsciously why I married a packaging engineer. Yes, that’s a real job. No, he is not responsible for those impossible plastic containers you need a chainsaw to hack into (a rigid plastic clamshell in case you were wondering).

He’s invented some pretty neat packages. But to me, I think they’re significantly lacking in the cute department. So I’m constantly sending him pictures and ideas, to which he reminds me that a food package should not only be adorable, but also functional. What fun is that?

Enter the mason jar. Now, I can’t claim that I invented it, but it is cute and it is also functional, especially when it comes to packing salads.

The mason jar’s tall, narrow build allows you to build an entire composed salad, dressing and all, without the dreaded wilt. By using a layer of sturdy vegetables to separate delicate greens and dressing, you can create a salad that will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days. As long as you don’t accidentally tip it over, the greens will be fresh and crisp. Sunday food prep anyone?

It's not rocket science, but there are a few things to know. Here's how to compose the perfect mason jar salad, one that's filling, tasty and will last!

STEP 1 // Get your hands on a clean, wide mouthed mason jar. For a main dish salad, look for a quart jar. For a side salad, use a pint jar.

STEP 2 // Spoon 1-3 tablespoons of salad dressing in the bottom of the jar.

STEP 3 // Add any hard, chopped vegetables to the jar. This will act as a barrier for the dressing and greens or other soft, absorbable ingredients. Carrots, radishes, whole cherry tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, snap peas, celery, and cucumbers are all good choices. If I’m using an ingredient that tends to brown, like avocados or sliced apples, I also like to add this to the bottom with an acidic dressing, which prevents it from browning.

STEP 4 // Add any softer, more absorbable vegetables and fruit, like berries, peaches, chopped tomatoes or roasted vegetables. You could also add any salty ingredients, like pickled vegetables or olives here.

STEP 5 // To make a more substantial salad, be sure to include a high fiber, unprocessed carb. Cooked quinoa, whole grain pasta, peas, beans, roasted sweet potato cubes, and brown rice are all nice choices. Layered on top of the vegetables, this will complete the barrier.

STEP 6 // If using nuts or seeds, add them now.

STEP 7 // Top with greens, like chopped kale, arugula, spring greens or romaine. Make sure the greens are tightly packed, which helps keep it fresh by minimizing the circulating air and keeping everything secure.

STEP 8 // Add proteins like cheese, diced cooked chicken, hard boiled egg or cubed tofu/tempeh on top. I add these no more than a day or two in advance.

STEP 9 // Enjoy! To eat your salad, pour out the ingredients on to a plate or bowl. This generally mixes the ingredients pretty well. You could try to eat it out of the mason jar, but it’ll be tricky to get a bite with everything on it.

One other tip: If you’re not using any sturdy vegetables, like in my peach and arugula salad, just pack the dressing separately in a condiment cup or in a snack sized zip top bag on top of your salad.

To get you started on mason jar salads, here are three of my favorite seasonal mason jar salads. The peach and arugula salad isn’t new - I shared it last year so head over to that post for the recipe. With our recent heat wave, all I've been craving are salads topped with chilled seasonal fruit! This peach salad is probably my favorite way to enjoy perfect South Carolina peaches!

Spring Quinoa Salad with Mint-Lemon Dressing

Makes 4

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Salad:

  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup peas, blanched from fresh or defrosted from frozen
  • 2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa, from 2/3 cup dry
  • Spring greens
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta

Instructions

  1. To make the dressing, blend the ingredients together in a blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Divide the dressing between four quart-sized mason jars. Add radishes, peas then quinoa, pressing down to pack lightly. Top with spring greens to the top of the jar. Sprinkle feta over the top and seal.

Watermelon and Feta Salad

Makes 6

This mason jar salad is perfect as a snack!

Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Salad: 

  • 1 seedless cucumber, chopped
  • Watermelon, cubed
  • Basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta

Instructions

  1. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the dressing between six pint-sized mason jars. Top with cucumber, watermelon, basil leaves and feta. Seal and refrigerate until ready to eat.

These salads are perfect for packing in a mason jar: 

Kale Tortilla with Jalapeno-Lime Dressing
Kale Tortilla with Jalapeno-Lime Dressing
Tropical Salad with Spicy Mango Dressing
Tropical Salad with Spicy Mango Dressing
Brussels Sprouts Salad with Ambrosia Apples & Tempeh Bacon
Brussels Sprouts Salad with Ambrosia Apples & Tempeh Bacon