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!

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!
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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!

 

 

Uh-mazing Chocolate Chip Cookies (PALEO, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Heart-Healthy….and Delicious!)

UH-MAZING Chocolate Chip Cookies (Paleo-friendly, Gluten-Free, Low GI, Heart-Healthy, All Natural, Vegetarian & Vegan)

The story behind the cookies goes a little something like this: my charming boyfriend is doing the Paleo thing. As a whole, he is quite healthy—but as per the Paleo diet, he is trying to stay away from wheat (and refined carbohydrates like pastas, breads, oatmeal, quinoa, etc.). In general, I do not eat many of these items (except quinoa), and bake mostly with Gluten-free flours (a variety), but the Paleo regune requires a little more effort than the Gluten-free regime.

Luckily, I know enough about nutrition in the kitchen to know what I can substitute, what flabors work, and well, sometimes I get lucky! The following recipe is Boyfriend-Approved, Kid-Approved, and Mom-Approved. These cookies are perfectly satisfying (and even more wonderful when warm)!

Note: these cookies do not taste Paleo. They taste real and hearty; they are fluffy—and yes, even moist.

ImageTiff's Tips: Tasty Cookies!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups organic, unrefined coconut flour
  • ¾ c. virgin, organic, unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/3 c. pure maple syrup
  • 2 Omega 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp. organic Vanilla Extract
    2 cups Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (these are Paleo friendly, Dairy-free, and Gluten free)
  • ½ c. almonds
  • 2 tbsp. honey (optional; some include this as a “moderated” item that Paleo diet followers can eat)
  • ½ c. chopped dates (optional; this is considered an item to be had in moderation by Paleo diet followers)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
  2. In a medium bowl, mix all ‘wet’ ingredients (coconut oil—make sure it is warm or in liquid form, pure maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla extract), and honey—if you are using it.
  3. In a small bowl, use a Potato Masher to mash 2 bananas (the riper the better!)
  4. Fold bananas into wet ingredients.
  5. Add coconut flour to ingredients; stir until thoroughly mixed. (Note: coconut flour is a very dry flour. If you notice the dough is too dry, you can add another mashed banan, coconut oil, or pure maple syrup to create consistency).
  6. Once dough is mixed (see picture for a good ‘reference’), add in ½ c. chopped almonds and Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips and chopped dates (if you choose).
  7. Form into cookie shapes (the dough does not change shape much in the oven, so make the cookies as flat or as thick as you want them to be! I prefer chewy cookies!)
  8. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until cookies are firm to the touch.
  9. Enjoy!

Super Scrumptious Sweet Potato Fries

Super Scrumptious Sweet Potato Fries
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I don’t know any child (or adult, for that matter) who doesn’t like fries. Unfortunately, consuming deep-fried french fries (often pumped with not-so-good additives and preservatives to keep them ‘fresh’ at restaurants and fast food joints) is terrible for your health.

To find a viable cure–and to help you all get your ‘fry fix’ I decided to turn to my good friends, Sweet Potatoes. They are complex carbohydrates, and you can buy them organic (read: without all of the preservatives). Not to mention, these are made with olive oil, which is good for your digestive system and contributes to heart health.

Of course, my favorite part of these fries is that you can sneakily give them to kids (or your boyfriend, as in my case!) and actually nourish them (when they think they are eating a ‘treat’).

I made three types of sweet potato fries; please read and decide which you (or your guests) would prefer! Then, whip them up and enjoy!

Options: Cinnamon (Sweet) Sweet Potato Fries; Cumin-Paprika-Italian Seasoned Fries; Garlic-Sea Salt Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:
Note: Please read the ingredients for the fries you would like to make! Follow the directions to step 3, then use the spices required for your fries of choice!

For All of the Fries:

  • Olive oil (1/2 tbsp. per potato)
  • Himalayan Pink salt, Kosher salt, or organic sea salt (which ever you prefer…for the record, Himalayan Pink salt gives you the benefit of iodine without the drawbacks and sodium of the other stuff!)
  • Organic corn starch (1/4 tsp. per potato)
  • Parchment paper
  • Cookie sheet

For the Sweet, Sweet Potato Fries

  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Cumin
  • ½ tsp. Pepper

For the Cumin-Paprika-Italian Seasoned Fries:

  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning (optional)
  • 1 tsp. fresh organic Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. organic Garlic Powder

For the Garlic-Sea Salt Sweet Potato Fries

  • 1/2 tbsp. organic Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. minced Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

 

Directions:

1. Wash, peel, and cut 3 large (or 5 small) sweet potatoes. (Cut into ‘fry’ shapes.) Put fry wedges into a large plastic bag (a simple Ziploc should do).

2. In a small bowl, mix olive oil and corn starch. (I use a ratio of 1/2 tbsp. olive oil per potato and 1/4 tsp. organic corn starch per potato.) Once mixed together, pour mixture (it will be somewhat paste-like) into the plastic bag. Toss the bag (your kids can help with this!) to assure that all fries are covered in a light layer of olive oil.

3. Once fries are covered in olive oil mixture, place in a single layer on a parchment-lined sheet. (This part is the most time consuming…but I promise it’s worth it!) Once fries are all laid out, sprinkle half of the spice-mixture over the fries.

4. Bake at 450°F for 15 minutes. At 15 minutes, turn the fries over and sprinkle the remaining spices over the fries. Bake an additional 15 minutes, or until crisp to your liking.

5. Enjoy with your favorite organic ketchup (recipe for ketchup coming soon)!
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