add this: nuts

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I have to admit something.

I don’t always love nuts.

But then I remember that they are kind of a perfect snack, and can be pretty darn delicious from time to time. Everyone likes peanut butter, right?  I just recently came around to raw almond butter, and now I slather it on toast, celery and apples on a regular basis. I would never turn down pine nuts in pesto either. :)

If you are aren’t yet a fan, try adding some nuts in at snack time or nut butters for breakfast or lunch. Here’s the what, why and how…

What:

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Pistachios
  • Cashews
  • Pecans
  • Pine Nuts
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • (peanuts are technically a legume but are usually fall into the nut category)

Why:

  • contain fat, protein and fiber
  • full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • can help reduce the risk of diabetes
  • nutrient dense: full of vitamin E, folic acid, niacin, copper, magnesium

How:

  • Raw Nuts are best and then roast at home so they don’t go rancid
  • Add some flavor to roasted nuts (like curried or herbed nuts)
  • As a snack, on salads, or part of trail mix
  • Nut Butter – look for natural varieties – the only ingredients should be nuts and/or salt.
  • Watch portions! Nuts, although good for you, are very calorie-dense. A serving is one ounce.
  • Recipes to Try: Almond-Honey Power Bar, Nut Recipes on Foodily, Nut Recipes on Gojee

Do you have a favorite nut or way to eat them?

chicken field salad {trader joe’s inspired}

I’m pretty sure I’ve tried 98% of the items at Trader Joe’s. I mean, it is just too convenient. It is across from the yoga/spinning studio that I belong to. There are three of them within walking distance of our apartment. And they are absolutely everywhere here in Los Angeles.

So I’ve been doing most of my shopping there and trying everything along the way. I’m working on a Best Of Trader Joe’s post, but I’m struggling with how to organize it – there are so many great things! Anyway, one of our favorite salads is the Chopped Field Salad with Chicken – it has flavorful currants, chewy couscous and the sweet basil dressing – oh, that dressing! I set out to recreate the favorite and while I made a few changes, the flavors are very similar. This chicken field salad has all of the “requirements” for an entree salad, so it’s the perfect salad for lunch or dinner –  full of protein, fiber and flavor!

 

Chopped Field Salad

by Emily Dingmann

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

 

Ingredients (2 large entree salads)

For the Salad

  • 1 cup cooked israeli couscous
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup corn, toasted in hot pan
  • 8 oz cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp pecans
  • 2 oz cheese (I used feta but parmesan is used in the TJ version)
  • 8 cups mixed greens

For the Dressing

  • 1/2 cup basil
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 small shallot
  • 1 Tbsp honey or agave
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • salt & pepper

Instructions

For the Salad

Toss together couscous, pepper, corn, chicken, cheese, currants, green onions and pecans.

Top greens with couscous mixture.

Drizzle with sweet basil dressing.

For the Dressing

Combine all ingredients in blender or small food processor.

Blend until smooth.

Taste and adjust flavors if desired.

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rainbow chopped salad

In the short three weeks that Crooked Pint Ale House was open and we were still in Minneapolis, I managed to order the Rainbow Chopped Salad three times. It was clearly super tasty and good enough to resist ordering their delicious burgers! That should say a lot for a salad. And for me. ;)

So I had plans to recreate it right away and as we drove through South Dakota and Wyoming, I would glance at that salad on my list – just anxious to get back into the kitchen and eat something full of vegetables.

A few weeks later, and the Taster and I are sitting at our table with this beautiful salad (on chilled plates thank you!) in front of us.

And it was perfect.

This is what I consider the ideal lunch salad – it is pretty easy to throw everything together, almost everything can be prepped ahead of time, it’s got a slew of flavors, textures and colors going on and it is exciting enough to make you happy that lunch time is right around the corner.

The nutrition stats are pretty good too, although it is a tad low on protein for me.  Next time we’ll try it with some grilled chicken to really make it a full meal.

If you’ve been looking for a new salad, or something healthy to bring to Thanksgiving (the Taster thought it would be perfect on turkey day), go make this. You might even choose it over stuffing – I know I would.

Rainbow Chopped Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Serving Size: 2 large servings

464 calories, 30 grams fat, 8 grams protein, 21 grams fiber

Ingredients

  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 heads of romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups spinach, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 of small red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium apple
  • 2 oz blue cheese
  • 2 oz roasted pecans

Instructions

  1. Make dressing. Whisk together shallots, mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Toss lettuce, spinach, cabbage and apple with dressing until coated.
  3. Divide salad on two plates and top with blue cheese and pecans.
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creamy apple dip

Last week I taught a Nutrition/Cooking class for some wonderful adults with disabilities.
I’ve never done anything like it and I will admit that I was a little nervous. Ok, I was pretty much terrified. I didn’t really know what to expect, I hoped they would enjoy it and I really wanted them to like the apple dip that we made and then snacked on. :)

I talked about the plate method of eating that we use at Camp and then showed them how to make a favorite fall dip of mine. I grew up eating a dip very similar to this every fall, and it brings back memories of crunchy, golden leaves in the woods.

The class ended up going pretty well (they seemed to enjoy it!) and the dip went over fantastically, which I knew it would. I always eat it with apples, but it would be delicious on probably anything!

 

Creamy Apple Dip

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Yield: about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 8 oz light cream cheese
  • 1 cup yogurt (I used a vanilla-honey variety)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup chopped peanuts

Instructions

  1. Using a mixer, combine cream cheese, yogurt and sugar until smooth.
  2. Add peanuts and mix to combine.
  3. Serve with apple slices. Other fruit, crackers, etc would also be delicious.
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