IMG_2215A rich, sweet twist on traditional hummus. Balsamic roasted cherries are blended into a creamy chickpea hummus and topped with pesto and pepitas. The perfect spread on sandwiches, topping for salads, or dip for crackers and raw veggies.

I make a fresh batch of hummus at least every other week in my house. My favorite healthy snack is raw carrot sticks dipped in hummus and I eat it almost every day. It’s the perfect combination of healthy fats, protein and fiber.

IMG_2231Hummus serves as the ideal blank canvas to get creative with add-ins. Anything from herbs, roasted fruits or vegetables, nuts and seasonings – the possible combinations are endless. One of my go-to recipes that is quick, simple and requires minimal ingredients is my Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. Your turkey sandwiches and party appetizers will forever be changed!

Speaking of game changers, these roasted cherries stole my heart as soon as they made an exit from the oven. The balsamic and honey turn into a rich, decadent glaze as the cherries roast which really brings their sweet flavor to life. The next batch I roast will undoubtedly be going over a few scoops of vanilla bean ice-cream Greek yogurt. ;)

I want to take this hummus out on a date. I want to stare at its beauty and whisper sweet nothings into its bowl. But most of all, I want to slather generous portions on these Blue Diamond Artisan Nut-Thins.

IMG_2230These Nut-Thins are the perfect mode of transportation to get the hummus from the bowl to your mouth. They are deliciously versatile and are made from wholesome ingredients such as brown rice, almonds and seeds. For a bold-tasting hummus like this, a versatile cracker with a light flavor profile, yet dense nutrient profile is key!

Give your hummus a facelift this summer with this delicious recipe!

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Nut Thins.

Balsamic Roasted Cherry and Pesto Hummus

Makes 14 servings

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IMG_2100A lightened up version of a classic! White meat chicken tossed in a creamy dressing with grapes, apples, golden raisins, celery, toasted walnuts and herbs. Perfect to pile on top of a mixed greens salad, serve between two slices of bread or eat with crackers. This salad is low in fat, rich in protein and will soon be your new best friend for weekday lunches!

Chicken Waldorf Salad has always been one of my favorites, but I always refrain from ordering it out because it tends to be a very mayo-laden salad. I’ve even heard of restaurants adding buttermilk to the recipe to enhance the creaminess. WHAT? Fortunately, this is not a page out of Southern Living magazine and I am here to provide nutritious alternatives to ALL THINGS ;)

IMG_2101I’ve enjoyed this salad for lunch for three days in three different ways so far this week. #poet

I LOVE it as a salad topper, as it almost replaces the need for a dressing, especially with a little added lemon juice and olive oil. I also thoroughly enjoyed it inside a whole-wheat wrap combined with spinach, cucumbers and a smear of hummus. It’s also ideal for that 3PM snack craving when all you REALLY feel like having is a massive cookie and latte from Starbucks, but what your body is actually craving is some lean protein (check), fresh fruit (check) and crackers (as a mode of transportation for the chicken salad, of course).

IMG_2102I just love the fresh, fruity flavor and crunch-factor. It’s also a great recipe to use for leftover chicken, cubed or shredded. It can stay fresh refrigerated for ~3 days, however if you are as big of a fan as I am, a survival time of 3 days is a stretch.

Summer is basically made for lightened-up, fresh, fruity salads. And the occasional poolside margarita.

Enjoy!

Lightened Up Chicken Waldorf Salad

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IMG_2078It’s summertime and the living should be easy! These chocolate ice pops are low in fat, rich in protein and have no added sugar. They are incredibly simple to make and taste like an indulgent summer treat, yet are totally bathing suit friendly.

There is just something about summertime that makes this Florida girl crave ice cream, frozen yogurt or my personal favorite, gelato, on a daily basis. I’ve been on the hunt for nutritious alternatives to my favorite frozen treats and unfortunately, frozen fruit only satisfies the sweet tooth so much. These chocolate ice pops totally satisfy my two strongest cravings: chocolate and something creamy and frozen. Win-win!

IMG_2080Buying an ice pop mold has been one of my best decisions this summer. I’ve had too much fun getting creative with nutritious combinations of fruit, yogurt, coconut water and almond milk. The almond milk gives the ice pops a creamy, ice cream-like consistency that really enhances the decadence factor.

The chocolate almond topping is totally optional. I enjoyed it for the extra texture and crunchiness, but the ice pops are equally delicious without it.

IMG_2081Another great health benefit of these pops is their micro nutrient profile. They are rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium that work together to promote strong, healthy bones. This combination makes them the perfect snack for kids. Or the adult kid in you, of course ;)

It’s not easy to find frozen treats that are both rich in nutrients and low in sugar. If only that pint of Ben & Jerry’s benefited the body the way it benefits our taste buds!

IMG_2079Grab one to take for an evening stroll with your family or friends.

Pack them in a cooler to take out to the pool.

Enjoy one after a bike ride, swim or hike.

Or simply do what I did – snack on one while curled up on the couch on a rainy Sunday morning. The ease of preparation should perfectly coincide with your easy breezy summer vibes. Enjoy! Read More →

IMG_2002Meat and potato fans unite! Tender pork loin is slow cooked with cinnamon-spiced apples, red potatoes, rosemary and thyme to create a meal that smells almost as satisfying and comforting as it tastes!

It’s the middle of the week and what is better than having dinner 90% prepared the moment you walk in the door after a long day of work? Besides not ever having a long day of work, few things can top that feeling! This meal is very low maintenance and requires very little prep work, which is obviously ideal during hectic weekday mornings.

In fact, everything can be prepped and placed in the crockpot the night before so all that is required of you the next morning is to set the timer. Efficiency is such a beautiful thing.

IMG_1999After 8-9 hours you will come home to a house smelling like Thanksgiving morning at Paula Dean’s house (sans the 8 sticks of butter). Your senses will be invigorated, your spouse will name you MVP of the house, your kids won’t be begging for frozen pizza and you will just FEEL like you really have it all together.

And you totally do. Life = conquered.

IMG_2001So I have to ask – Is anyone else a gigantic fan of the pork + apple combo? I just think they work in beautiful symphony together. Slow cooking apples allows them to almost caramelize as they release their natural sugars. I love cooking pork chops (or tenderloins) in a mix of stewed apples, sometimes apple cider and a mix of earthy herbs. The taste combination is just so comforting and heavenly.

You could sub the pork for chicken breasts (or thighs), however since pork tenderloin is just as lean as chicken breast and tends to be more flavorful, I would highly recommend it!

IMG_1998Add a simple veggie or side salad and you have a well-balanced, nutritious meal that the whole family is bound to enjoy. If you’re not feeding an army, be prepared for a decent amount of leftovers!

Though I have to say, the pork tastes mighty fine in tacos or in a sandwich the next day if you’re looking to switch it up. I enjoyed my leftover pork in a toasted corn tortilla with roasted red peppers, hummus, arugula and a little feta. A totally different flavor profile that was equally delicious.

Make dinner stress-free tonight with this simple, delicious recipe.

Slow Cooker Rosemary Dijon Pork with Cinnamon-Apples and Red Potatoes

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Every good summer outing comes with a great summer snack!

IMG_1940Summer in Florida means highs in the 90’s on the daily. This summer has been an absolute scorcher so far and we haven’t even hit the worst of it yet. When it comes to planning any kind of outdoor activity, I always try to think of nutritious snacks that will withstand the heat. Unless a hefty cooler is in the equation, this typically means no perishables, chocolate chips or chocolate-coated candy. Enter: Tropical Trail Mix.

It’s sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy and all things delicious. It packs the perfect dose of healthy fat, protein and natural sugar to keep you energized during your favorite outdoor activities. Whether it’s biking, hiking, kayaking or simply enjoying a day at the beach, you can count on this trail mix to be your snack-time savior!

trailmixBlue Diamond’s Roasted Salted Almonds are mixed with golden raisins, banana chips, dried pineapple, roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and unsweetened coconut flakes. You could improvise to your liking by subbing dried mango slices for the pineapple or craisins for the golden raisins.

I absolutely loved this combination and thought all the ingredients worked in perfect harmony. You can whip up this trail mix in less than 5 minutes, pack it in a bag or mason jar and be on your way. Read More →

IMG_1878Moist, tender and incredibly flavorful carne asada tacos topped with a refreshing watermelon salsa and a drizzle of minty lime yogurt crema.

Since it’s full swing summer, I’m in a how-many-things-can-I-shove-in-a-tortilla-and-call-tacos phase. Trust me, enter this phase and will never grow tired of tacos. Meat tacos, breakfast tacos, dessert tacos. Let’s do it all.

FullSizeRender (11)Not sure if I can fully describe my love for these hand-held delights. The juicy tender steak is incredibly flavorful and the salsa adds the perfect hint of sweetness and crunch.

I wasn’t sure if the flank steak would reach my desired level of tenderness considering it is tougher cut of meat, but the meat shreds incredibly well after being slow cooked for 8-9 hours. Mine literally just fell apart. It was a beautiful thing.

Your house will also smell AMAZING after these succulent aromas fill the air. Slow cooker – you are better than any Yankee candle I’ve ever smelled.

IMG_1892I’m also all about the chunky fruit salsas right now. Freshly chopped seasonal fruits mixed with sweet onion, bell peppers, sometimes a little heat, loads of fresh lime juice and sea salt. They are a summertime staple in my recipes and I love getting creative with the ingredients.

This watermelon salsa is super refreshing, flavorful and the perfect component to tacos, salads or plain ol’ tortilla chips. Heck, I could even eat it by the spoonful. I topped it with a little reduced-fat feta cheese for that extra “zing” but you could also use goat cheese or go cheese-less.

IMG_1891Speaking of watermelon, let me introduce you to my new favorite dessert: A fat slice of watermelon covered in fat-free cool whip. It is the ideal dessert for summer: light, refreshing and so satisfying. I shouldn’t discriminate by calling it dessert because I’ve had it numerous times this week for breakfast, too. So nice, I had to eat it twice!

I would honestly eat these tacos for breakfast, too. Or perhaps just toss the carna asada meat in a tortilla and top it with a fried egg and a drizzle of Sriracha? Ugh, drooling.

IMG_1894Let’s eat tacos and talk summer and share feelings.

Crockpot Carne Asada Tacos with Watermelon Salsa and Minty Lime Crema

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IMG_1829A stack of fluffy, decadent pancakes that mimic the taste of carrot cake, yet are low in fat, low in sugar, and rich in both protein and fiber. Dessert for breakfast just got a whole lot more nutritious!

I would venture to say breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Well, wait. Okay, every meal is my favorite of the day. But my FAVORITE favorite is, hands-down, breakfast. A good breakfast just sets the tone for the a good day. THESE set the tone for an unbeatable day. They can make your Monday feel like Friday and your Friday feel like the start of a 10-day vacation.

They’re loaded with that comforting spice flavor we all know and love about carrot cake. They’re soft, yet dense. Fluffy, yet moist. Bursting with shredded carrots and topped with walnuts, golden raisins, cinnamon and a luscious cottage cheese “frosting”.

IMG_1832Yes, we are substituting the traditional cream cheese frosting for a low sugar, low fat cottage cheese “frosting”. No, it does not have quite the same whipped texture or desirable creaminess, but trust me when I say it is the most excellent healthy substitute. Simply whip it with a little Stevia and it becomes cream cheese frosting’s archrival.

I’ve found that the magic combination of flours for protein pancakes is a mix of oat and coconut flour. Oat flour yields a light, fluffy texture and coconut flour can enhance the moisture, as it tends to soak up liquid a bit more than most flours.

IMG_1833I could probably eat these pancakes every morning for breakfast and never grow tired of them. Though if I did, I could switch off and have them for dessert!

They are gluten-free, packed with protein and have no added sugar. You can enjoy a guilt-free breakfast that will you keep satisfied well into the morning. Oh, happy day!

Carrot Cake Protein Pancakes

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IMG_1787Grilled eggplant topped with a delicious Harissa Tahini dressing, feta cheese and fresh basil. Perfect as a side dish or vegetarian meal.

We are in full swing of eggplant season and I’ve been seeing the most gorgeous varieties at the farmers’ market lately. The graffiti eggplant, in particular, caught my eye this past weekend and I couldn’t pass it up.

Graffiti eggplant is similar to Italian eggplant in size and shape, with a velvety flesh, pretty lavender color and white mottled skin. It’s perfect for grilling, roasting or pureeing for dips or Baba ghanoush.

Or, of course, for my favorite use of eggplant – eggplant parmesan!

IMG_1801I also recently got my hands on a bottle of Bell Plantation’s Roasted Peanut Oil. This unfiltered extra virgin oil is a fantastic addition to recipes. Using this oil to sauté vegetables or chicken gives the food a rich roasted peanut flavor that is far superior to that of olive or coconut oil, in my opinion. I’ve also been loving it in salad dressings as well as sauces for Thai-inspired dishes. So many possibilities!

The roasted peanut flavor of the oil is the perfect compliment to the full-bodied spice of Harissa, the rich aromatic garlic and creamy Tahini paste. This sauce would be delicious on top of pork, chicken or any other grilled vegetables.

For a simple side-dish with loads of flavor, give this recipe a go!

IMG_1802

Grilled Eggplant with Harissa Tahini Sauce

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risottoCreamy sweet potato risotto with parmesan cheese and fresh herbs. A decadently delicious vegetarian meal or hearty side dish.

Risotto is just one of those side dishes that tastes fantastic with everything. Beef, pork, chicken, lab, fish or tofu. It could triple duty as an appetizer, entrée or side dish. I recently learned that Risotto in Italy is normally a primo (first course), served on its own before the main course. I could definitely get my palette fired up with this dish on a daily basis….

Risotto has also become one of my favorite grains to cook. Yes, it is a labor of love, but the finished product is always worth it. The texture is like a hybrid mixture of farro and rice. Slightly chewly and insanely creamy when cooked. Texture is imperative for my foodie soul.

risotto3Being a huge fan of the savory + sweet combo, sweet potatoes mixed with a sharp cheese and earthy sage is definitely one of my favorite combos. It’s like all of my favorite things meshed together into one perfect dish.

Risotto is typically made with broth, butter and wine. Sometimes heavy cream or milk to add extra creaminess. As much as I love a buttery risotto made with white wine and truffle oil, for this recipe we are nixing the wine and butter to make it as light as possible without skimping a bit on flavor or texture.

It’s healthy comfort food at its finest. I want to make a big pot for like, everyone I love.

risotto2It’s the perfect accompaniment to a red wine + Netflix night OR to share with friends at a dinner party. Dress it up or dress it down, as long as you enjoy a bowl of all of its creamy goodness, your soul will be happy.

Sweet Potato Risotto

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cknburgerHello, summer in a bun!

Chicken burgers made with shredded zucchini, fresh corn and spices topped with grilled tomatoes, arugula and an extra tasty roasted red pepper hummus. These should definitely make an appearance on your July 4th grilling menu!

This summer is blowing by so quickly and I can’t even believe the year is more than HALF way over! You guys. They are already selling PUMPKIN SPICE coffee creamer in the grocery store. What is life?!

The good thing is we still have at least 4 more months of outdoor grilling and dining al fresco. Well, technically since I live in Florida we have until December. Trust me, it’s not as glorious as it may sound.

cknburger4But back to this hand-held beauty. I am always looking for new ways to jazz up chicken burgers because as we all know, chicken alone does not pack much flavor. It’s fun to get creative and add in different veggies, herbs and spices galore to make each chicken recipe a fun, new experience.

This is also one of the EASIEST way to get kids to eat extra veggies. Zucchini is my favorite vegetable to grate and secretly add in food you wouldn’t typically expect it in. Breakfast items such as muffins and bread, as well as appetizers such as mini meatballs. Zucchini is quite flavorless on its own, but it soaks up other flavors like a sponge. It also adds a nice little bulk to the meat patties while adding extra nutrients and fiber.

Zucchini – you da real MVP.

cknburger3Let’s switch gears and also talk about this hummus. You are only 5 ingredients and 5 minutes away from your new favorite spread/dip/bowl of faceplant-worthy goodness. The one star of this recipe is, without a doubt, the roasted garlic. Roasting garlic has  become one of my favorite food-prep necessities to complete before the start of the week.

Whole heads of garlic are roasted with olive oil until each individual clove is golden and buttery with an aromatic, slightly sweet flavor that is out of this world. Roasting garlic takes away their crunch and astringency and leaves you with rich, caramelized cloves that are perfect to spread on toasted baguettes or use in dips, sauces or spreads. Heeaavven.

cknburger2Low in fat, rich in fiber and full of flavor. Give these chicken burgers a shot for your next indoor or outdoor grilling experience!

Zucchini and Corn Chicken Burgers with Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

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