Perfect Summer Dish: Tuscan Italian Tomato Basil Salad

This delicious salad takes just minutes to throw together and adds color and fun flavors to any meal! It is perfect for a light dinner or as a side salad to any lunch or dinner entrée. It should be noted that it holds for approximately 3 days—but it’s so delicious that it’s usually gone by then anyway! Image

(This recipe makes approximately 1 meal-sized serving or 2 side servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of heirloom tomatoes, organic (the more colorful—the better!) (this is approximately 3 cups of a variety of heirloom tomatoes)
  • 1 small red onion (you’ll only need about ¼)
  • 1 tbsp.  crumbled feta or your desired amount of fresh mozzarella or –if you don’t do cheese products, skip this step! The salad is delicious without the additioImageImagen of cheese.
  • ½ tbsp. fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp. organic Italian dressing (I use the creamy Italian from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • just a pinch of Himalayan salt or sea salt

Directions:

  1. Wash, dry, and halve all tomatoes. Place them in a mixing bowl.
  2. In a small dish, combine the balsamic vinegar and Italian dressing (of your choice). Once mixed, pour over tomatoes. Stir this mixture gently. (Do this first so that the tomatoes can “marinate” while you prepare the other ingredients.)
  3. Chop approximately ¼ of a red onion (or your desired amount) into thin pieces. Add the mixture to your tomatoes.
  4. Add basil and feta or mozzarella to the mixture.
  5. Mix thoroughly albeit gently, so you do not crush the tomatoes.
  6. Serve and enjoy!
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The Most Refreshing Salad on Earth

Hi y’all! I hope you are well! I’ve been doing superb myself, though working a little too much. I’ll be striving for better personal-work balance from now on…and you know what that means! — More blogging! (It’s my personal way to unwind.)Image

Over the last week I have been craving salads of all sorts. I’ll post a few “unique” salad dishes for you to try, starting with this BERRY refreshing salad! (Points for being clever, right?!)

This salad is unique because it incorporates the refreshing taste of mint and the sweet, melt-in-your-mouth summery fruits. The flavors awaken your senses, the mint promotes a fast metabolism, and this salad is QUITE beautiful to look at!

Because it’s unique both in taste and in aesthetics, your guest (boyfriend? Husband? Wife?) will think you took a long time on it—when in reality it takes just a few moments to throw together. (I love easy!)

Ingredients (for a serving for 2):

½ cup blueberries, organic

½ cup strawberries, organic, halved

½ cup watermelon, cubed in 1-inch pieces

1 /2 tbsp. organic Stevia

1 tsp. honey or agave

1 tbsp. water

1/2 tsp. grated lemon or lime

½ tbsp. fresh, finely chopped mint leaves

Directions:

  1. Wash all fruit and set aside to dry.
  2. In a small bowl or dish, whisk together stevia, honey/agave, water, and lemon or lime zest. Once the mixture is fully incorporated, add in the finely chopped mint leaves.
  3. Put all fruit in a serving bowl; pour the mixture over the fruit and mix thoroughly.
  4. Let the fruit sit in the fridge, covered, for at least 30 minutes. (The natural sugars in the fruit are accentuated by the lemon and lime zest! This assures that the minty flavor is not too strong!)
  5. Enjoy!

Happy cooking, friends!

-Tiff

Light & Filling (+ Delicious) Springtime Lime-Cilantro-Quinoa Salad (Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Heart-healthy)

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Quinoa has been dubbed the “Supergrain of the future” by nutritionists—and I totally agree. It was first discovered around 3,000 years ago by the Incas—who realized the seed (yes, it’s a seed) was safe for human consumption. So, though it seems relatively “new” to modern day Americans (many thanks to the pasta that has hogged the grocery shelves for so long), quinoa has ancient roots—and it is extremely healthy.

Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat, it contains nearly twice the fiber as other grains, it contains high iron, it’s rich in magnesium, and it’s high in Riboflavin (vitamin B2)—which improves energy and metabolism.

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, as a runner with a big race coming up, it is crucial to “carb up”—and quinoa is one of the best carbs out there.

This recipe is light, fresh, and definitely one of my “go-to” meals before a big event. I’ll post more recipes with quinoa in the future (seriously, the seed is so versatile that it can be eaten as oatmeal or baked in a casserole—there are no limits to quinoa’s reach!).

 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of Himalayan salt
    2 cups halved cherry tomatoesImage
    ½ cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 3 finely chopped geren onions
  • ½ cup chopped spinach
  • 2 teaspoons organic garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Boil quinoa as per directions (different brands very slightly on length of time). Drain quinoa after boiling, then set aside in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, mix extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and lime juice. Once whisked, pour over quinoa and mix thoroughly. Image
  3. Combine finely chopped green onions, halved cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and chopped spinach. Mix with quinoa.
  4. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients on quinoa (cumin, salt, and garlic).
  5. Once quinoa is thoroughly mixed, serve and enjoy!

    Note: Though the Quinoa seed is gluten-free, it is sometimes processed in places that also process foods that contain gluten.

    Quinoa

Gluten Free, Healthier Version of Boston Cream Pie (Cupcakes!) (P.S. GO USA)

Tiffs Tips Boston

Like all of you, the Boston Marathon bombings and the ensuing chaos has struck a chord with me.

I am so thankful it is over—and I felt that this recipe would be an appropriate way to celebrate the FBI’s capture, while honoring the innocent victims and their families.

Sure, it isn’t the healthiest thing I’ve ever made, but sometimes life calls for a little bit of sugar.

This healthier version of Boston’s most famous dessert is dedicated to the people who were (and who are) affected by the marathon bombings, and to the people everywhere who pray for the condition of this country and this world.

The way I cope with grief is to pray, to run, and then to bake (in that order), and nothing seemed more fitting to bake than Boston’s most famous dessert.Boston Tiffs Tips

Tiffs Tips boston cream pie 2

Ingredients:
Cake:

  • 3 cups Bob’s Red Mill Yellow Cake Mix and the ingredients it calls for (3 eggs, veggie oil, and good ol’ H2O)

Better-Than-Store-bought Vanilla Pudding:

  • 1/3 cup organic granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons organic cornstarch
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk (or substitute for a Rice or Soy milk; I did not try this with Almond or Coconut milk, but if you do please post results!)
  • 3 large organic egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted grass fed butter, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons organic vanilla extractGluten Free Cake Mix
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamonPaleo, Rich Chocolate Frosting
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips or Enjoy Life dairy free chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon organic vanilla extractDirections:
  • Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  • Prepare the gluten free yellow cake mix according to the instructions. Spray and lightly flour cupcake tins, and pour cake batter evenly into tins (about 3/4 full, like you would for a cupcake). Bake for 25-30 minutes.
  • While cupcakes are baking, prepare the pudding center:
    1. In heavy bottomed saucepan, combine milk, cornstarch, eggs and sugar. Boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook the pudding for about five minutes, until it firms some.
    2. Remove from heat; then, once mixture has cooled, add the butter, cinnamon and vanilla extract.
      Beat well until the butter melts. Set aside.
  • Clean your kitchen (mine is always a MESS mid-baking). Once the cupcakes are finished baking, take them out of the oven and place each cupcake on a wire rack to cool
  • While cupcakes are cooling, make the Paleo, Rich, Creamy Chocolate Frosting.
    1. Mix dark chocolate chips, coconut oil, and vanilla extract over low heat for 5-10 minutes or until chocolate chips are dissolved.
    2. Place the mixture in a refrigerator-safe bowl and let harden in the fridge for about 25 minutes, until cool but not hard.
    3. Using a handheld blender, mix frosting until it is light and frothy.
    4. While frosting is hardening, cut cupcakes in half width wise. Spread a layer of pudding on cupcakes and sandwich in between cupcakes.
    5. Top cupcakes with chocolate frosting.
    6. Serve to friends while watching the Red Sox play, eat, and then go for a run!
  • Show support, send prayers, and eat Boston Cream Pie. Oh, and one more thing before I post the recipe: God Bless America.
    Boston Cream Cupcakes Tiffs Tips

Miracle Waffles (The Fluffiest, Tastiest Almond-Maple Waffles–Gluten Free, Paleo & Heart-Healthy)

Confession: nothing makes me happier than when my healthy kitchen creations are applauded as

being “better than the real thing.” And that kind of praise is exactly what these Waffles received!

They do not contain any butter, refined white flour or wheat flour, oil, or refined white sugar—and  yet, they are fluffy, tasty, and full of protein (from the almonds).GF Almond Maple Waffle

This Waffle recipe is perfect for kids (because what kid doesn’t like waffles?!) or for boyfriends, husbands, wives, friends, parents, second cousins, or anyone else you’re seeking to impress. (Note: by ‘impress’, I mean ‘feed’.) In addition to being perfectly fluffy and mouthwateringly delicious, this recipe is…(drumroll please) HEALTHY without tasting bland! (Would you expect anything less?!)

Note: the following recipe serves about 2 people.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Almond flour or Almond meal (you can make this yourself by putting almonds in the food processor; you want them grated as fine as possible)Almonds into Almond Meal Tiff's Tips
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1/3 cup Almond milk or Coconut milk (organic, of course)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut powder (almond “flour” and almond meal tend to be more moist; coconut powder is a very dry powder, so I use it in moderation to assure the batter isn’t too oily; you cannot really taste the coconut)
  • ½ tablespoon raw, organic honey
  • 1 tablespoon raw, organic maple syrup (as pure as possible—just say no to Mrs. Butterworth!)
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon organic almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Optional: 1/3 cup Enjoy Life Non-dairy Chocolate Chips
  • Optional: 1/3 cup Frozen or fresh blueberries
This was the first "test" waffle; this is actually SO tasty you do not even need syrup!

This was the first “test” waffle; this is actually SO tasty you do not even need syrup!

Directions:

1. Heat up the old waffle iron! (If yours has settings, I always prefer a medium-low setting because it seems to cook more evenly.)

2. Mix all wet ingredients in a medium bowl. Start with whisking eggs, and add the others (the fluffier the egg mixture—the fluffier the waffles!)

3. In a separate bowl, mix together all dry ingredients. (If you are choosing to add blueberries or chocolate chips, keep them out until step 5.)

4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, stirring while you pour.

5. Once batter is thoroughly mixed (you can do this with a blender on low, or with a simple stirring utensil), fold in blueberries or chocolate chips (if you are adding either).

6. Spray the waffle iron with a non-stick spray of your choosing. (Be generous with your spray.)

7. Pour batter, and flip (if your waffle iron has a flipping function). It should take a few minutes to cook thoroughly.

8. Remove the fluffy masterpiece. Take a bite to make sure it tastes fabulous, then serve with organic maple syrup (butter is not needed), sprinkle with powdered sugar (I mean SPRINKLE), OR top with a berry compote!

YUM!

Gluten-Free, Heart-Healthy, Vegan Garlic Avocado Hummus (the perfect Dip, Spread, or Dressing!)

Honest moment: I love dips. (Who doesn’t!?) Dips just make eating veggies so much more fun.
What I don’t love are the over-processed, additive-laden, high-sodium dips that line many of the supermarket shelves.

In general, I suggest store bought hummus as a healthier alternative to other dressings—but it can be expensive, and even the stuff branded as “healthy” can have high fructose corn syrup, tons of sodium, and other not-so-great ingredients.

So…I decided to give homemade hummus a whirl. Like everything I make, I gave it a little twist.

This is a hearty spread with tons of protein, fiber, and flavor! I’d recommend a serving size being about 2 tablespoons, and trust me—this will fill you! (Note: Even though this hummus is filled with good stuff, it should be consumed in moderation because of its calorie content!)

Enjoy!
avocadohummustiffstips

Ingredients:

  • 4 15-oz cans of drained garbanzo beans/chickpeas
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup Tahini Paste/Sesame seed butter
  • 2 ½ tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. minced cilantro
  • 4 tbsp. minced parsley
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. Himalayan salt, or to taste
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • The juice of ½ lemon
  • The zest (grated skin) of a small lemon (ZZZZZest!)
  • 1 tbsp. minced basil leaves
  • ½ large Avocado or 1 small avocado
  • 1 organic tomato, chopped, to top the hummus as presentation

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor.
2. Refrigerate overnight, or for at least four hours. (The flavors strengthen overnight.)
3. Chop tomato, and serve on top of hummus (optional)
4. Enjoy being the “coolest mom ever” when you serve this to your kids…or the “favorite employee” when people try to steal your lunch.

Note: if you keep your hummus in an airtight container in the fridge, it will last for around a week. Save money on shopping and know what you’re eating!

Eat this with…veggies, like bell peppers, carrots, celery, chopped jicama, and more! Or, use up to 2 tbsp. as a hearty salad dressing. If you eat whole wheat bread, this makes for a wonderful “mayo” substitute to spice up any healthy turkey sandwich! ENJOY!

Basil, Chicken, Lemon, Pesto Pasta (Gluten Free with Vegan Option) made with Spaghetti Squash

Whether you are gluten free because of a sensitivity or Celiac, or perhaps because of something else (like a child who has a learning disability—which many doctors say  going gluten-free can help with), or even if you are a pasta loving wheat-a-holic: this recipe is hands down, five stars (or five mason jars—because this is Tiff’s Tips and not the Oscars)!

It is so good, in fact, that if you do not tell your kids that this “pasta” comes from a vegetable, they will never know. (Now, I am not advocating lying because I think that’s immoral—but sometimes what they don’t know, won’t hurt ‘em)!
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Basil Pesto Lemon Chicken Spaghetti (Squash)
Note: the following ingredients make 2-4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Spaghetti Squash (these make a surprising amount of spaghetti)
  • Olive oil
  • Himalayan Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder (organic, of course)
  • Cherry Tomatoes (or tomatoes of any kind)
  • 2 chicken breasts (ideally—organic, unprocessed, locally-sourced)* for vegan option, simply omit the chicken
  • Fresh chopped basil
  • Pine nuts
  • 2 lemons
  • Spinach

 

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F

2. Very carefully (I mean very carefully, and with a large knife—or axe) cut the spaghetti squash in two. (This is the hardest part of the whole recipe…you can do it!). (Note: I was kidding about the axe.)Image

3. Once cut in half, brush both interior sides with olive oil (just a pinch), and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

4. Put the squash onto a cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes (I would ere on the side of 40; the longer you bake it, the more squash it will make—just make sure the squash is not mushy when prodded with a fork).

5. While squash is cooking, make pesto with a food processor, Vitamix, or Blentec by combining 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1-2 squeezed lemons, garlic powder (I used about ½ tsp.), some pepper, a dash of salt, basil, and spinach. (Note: you can buy pesto if you’d like; I had difficulty finding Pesto without cheese, hence why I made it.) Play with the flavors until you like the taste! Set pesto aside.

6. Sauté chicken over stove; add in chopped tomatoes, and spoon in about half of your pesto mixture.

7. Once spaghetti is finished take sheet out and set aside; let cool for 3-5 minutes (until you can safely touch the squash without being harmed). With a fork, scrape out squash (length-wise).Image

7a. (Yes, I was a bit of a nerd growing up, so there is a ‘7a’.) Spaghetti will come out easily. Have a bowl ready to put spaghetti strings in. If clumps gather, separate them. Scrape the entire squash with your trustee fork.

8. Mix the remaining pesto with the pasta, any additional lemon juice, and chicken (if you’re going the chicken route); serve warm and enjoy!