Sunday, March 29, 2015

Loaded Veggie Kale Salad with Almond Butter Dressing


Now that we’ve climbed out of a frozen tundra and into Spring, I thought it’d only be right for me to bring back Salad Sundays. And I figured it can’t hurt to combine a scrumptious salad with the comfort of a lazy Sunday. Both are definitely favorites of mine.

Loaded Veggie Kale Salad with Almond Butter Dressing  |  Love.Bake.Read

After a long Winter of eating lots of comfort food, I’m ready for the fresh air of Spring and some lighter food options. If I’m being completely honest, it’s been an exhausting few months at work, which has led me to fall off track so.many.times with eating and with working out. Every year when the busiest months of work are over, I tell myself I’m going to get back on track and keep moving forward. My magical date for starting fresh and rebooting is April 1st, so I’d better get myself in gear. Focus, focus, focus.

Springtime makes me think of healthy, colorful food and it kind of motivates me to put that extra pep in my step. Typically if I can maintain eating healthy then naturally I’m able to keep focused on working out, which leads me to feel healthier overall. Can’t be that! 

Loaded Veggie Kale Salad with Almond Butter Dressing  |  Love.Bake.Read

So really, that’s what this salad is all about—eating healthy, colorful food that makes you feel good. This salad is certainly as colorful as can be and is entirely healthy, even with the dressing. The dressing is really unlike any other dressing I’ve tried before. It’s made with almond butter, a decent amount of lime juice, and a touch of maple syrup—talk about tickling your taste buds with goodness. This dressing is hands-down one of my favorites because it’s just that good. It’s not your run-of-the-mill salad dressing. Nope! It's good for you and is packed with bold flavors, making it a good way to kick up your salad another notch.

Loaded Veggie Kale Salad with Almond Butter Dressing  |  Love.Bake.Read

I used kale for this salad, but don’t hesitate to add chopped raw cabbage, or even some fresh spinach leaves. I’ve tried all of the above and loved it every time. I topped our salads with diced green bell pepper, diced cucumber, halved grape tomatoes, black beans, and roasted sweet potatoes. If you’ve never had sweet potatoes in a salad…do it! Oh my goodness, we were blown away by how gooood they were in this salad. The creamy, caramelized, sweet bites were simply divine. I also sprinkled on some chia seeds and flax seeds, as well as a small handful of nuts. I used cashews and honey roasted peanuts, but feel free to use whatever sounds best. 

If you happen to have any leftover almond butter dressing…I highly recommend you make my Roasted Red Pepper Chickpea Burgers and slather a generous bit right on top. So incredibly delicious. I may have also just eaten the dressing by the spoonful…

Loaded Veggie Kale Salad with Almond Butter Dressing
Yields 2-4 servings

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 sweet potatoes with skin—washed and diced
  • 8 cups of kale—destemmed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1½ cups cooked black beans or 1 (15 oz.) can—drained and rinsed
  • 1 bell pepper—seeded and diced
  • 1 cucumber—peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes—halved
  • 1-2 green onions—sliced 
  • Salt
  • ¼ cup of nuts (I used cashews and honey roasted peanuts)
  • 1-2 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1-2 tbsp. flax seeds

For the dressing

  • ½ cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
  • 1 garlic clove—minced
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 4 tsp. maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp. water

Directions

For the salad
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. 

Toss the sweet potatoes with the EVOO. Transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Gently flip and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until fork-tender. 

Divide the kale between bowls and sprinkle with salt. Top each salad with some of the roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and green onions and sprinkle with a bit more salt. Top each salad with some of the nuts and sprinkle on the chia seeds and flax seeds.

For the dressing
Add all of the ingredients, except for the water, to a bowl. Carefully whisk until smooth. Add the water 1 tbsp. at a time and whisk to incorporate. Note that the dressing will thicken a bit as it sits. 

Top each salad with your desired amount of dressing. Toss to coat.

Store leftover salad and dressing separately in the refrigerator.

Source
Adapted from Oh She Glows

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Roasted Red Pepper Chickpea Burgers


It’s certainly no secret that I’m a fan of hearty + healthy food—food that leaves you feeling a good kind of full. So today, I’m happy to share with you these super yummy chickpea burgers that are light and satisfying. Another upside? You’ll probably even have a few leftover for lunch, which is always a plus in my book.

Roasted Red Pepper Chickpea Burgers  |  Love.Bake.Read

Speaking of lunch, I used to make pinto bean burgers in bulk to freeze, so that we would always have something quick on-hand to grab on our way out the door. I’ll be honest though, it’s been a while since I’ve made them. But, these chickpea burgers, along with the cauliflower-quinoa cakes from my last post, really have us missing the convenience of having a healthy homemade meal on-hand. So, I just might have to make a batch of each and toss them in the freezer.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cauliflower-Quinoa Cakes with Creamy Mushrooms, Spinach, & Caramelized Onions


Elegantly styled food is kind of a secret passion of mine, which is why I couldn’t wait to plate this meal. The whole time I was cooking, I knew exactly how I wanted to style it for presentation. Ooh, sounds so fancy, huh?! What can I say, I’m just really drawn to elegant food. Steve, on the other hand, loves a full plate of messy goodness—so anytime I present him with a pretty plate of food, he jokingly says I feel hungrier already.  Haha! 

Cauliflower-Quinoa Cakes with Creamy Mushrooms, Spinach, & Caramelized Onions  |  Love.Bake.Read

While this may not look like a lot of food, it’s actually quite satisfying. It starts with a hearty mixture of mushrooms, spinach, and caramelized onions made creamy with a splash of unsweetened almond milk and a handful of parmesan cheese. We were blown away by how incredibly delicious this side dish was. The richly flavored caramelized onions really shine through, as do the meaty mushrooms. The wilted spinach is the feel-good food in this dish, since dark leafy greens are so good for you. But, what really set this side dish on fire was the almond milk and parmesan…such creamy perfection!

Next up is a completely unique quinoa cake made with cauliflower and a few other ingredients, including garlic and ground oats. The cakes also pack a hint of heat from red pepper flakes and a nice zesty kick from some lime juice. See what I mean when I say these are unique? Heck of a flavor combination. The quinoa cakes are actually really easy to make and they are as sturdy as can be, meaning they hold together really well thanks to the chia egg (just chia seeds soaked in water).

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Black Bean Mexican Lasagna


Happy Spring!! Finalllllly. Hopefully you've been out and about enjoying this lovely weather.

My weekly meal plan always includes 2-3 meals made with beans, simply because beans are super cheap and because they’re a good source of protein. We pretty much survived on beans and rice all while paying off our student loan debt. So, it’s safe to say we’ve eaten this lasagna countless times over the last few years. 

Black Bean Mexican Lasagna  |  Love.Bake.Read

I used to make this meal with pinto beans because they are even cheaper than black beans, but this time around I used all black beans, which felt like a luxury. It’s the small things, friends. With a doubt, this is a budget-friendly meal that’s also a crowd-pleaser. 

This lasagna doesn’t take very long at all to make, which means it’s a great weeknight meal. The hands-on time is minimal—always a plus! You just have to chop a few ingredients and let the mixture simmer for a bit. Then you assemble the lasagna, which is quick, and pop it in the oven to bake.