Summer can be awful. I hate the bugs, heat, sunburn, and the asthma attacks. This summer was so muggy, that most days, just stepping outside was enough to send me gasping for my inhaler. I’m thankful that fall is just around the corner and cooler weather is finally starting to breeze in. The one thing I do love about summer, though, is the abundance and variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that you can get anywhere for ridiculously low prices (especially the bounty at the Farmer’s Market – see yesterday’s post 😉 ). I can eat most of them on their own as snacks or sides, but I also love finding new ways to blend them into my meals and snacks! So I tried two different recipes recently, one focusing on fruit and one with veggies to use up all that gorgeous produce in my fridge.
I’ve mentioned before that I love oatmeal, and I was getting a little tired of my normal peanut butter and honey combo. So I figured I could jazz it up with some fresh fruit! I chopped up a whole cup of strawberries and an entire peach for about 3 servings of fruit. I cooked my oatmeal in almond milk and cinnamon, with a dash of sea salt, and then mixed in the fruit and a teaspoon of local honey. I usually add goat cheese for protein, but I was out, and the local market didn’t have any 😦 So I improvised and tossed in some cream cheese instead. The whole thing made for a light, creamy, and sweet meal that gave me almost all of my daily servings of fruit plus plenty of protein that kept me satisfied until lunchtime.
After a breakfast with all of those gorgeous colors and fresh fruits, I knew I needed to go for a dinner with some bright vegetables to balance it out 🙂 I do love a good quinoa salad, so I figured I’d go from there, but jazz it up a bit. I even decided to try a yellow pepper – my mom would call it a miracle, since I’ve ALWAYS hated peppers. But the color was too beautiful to resist. So here’s the vegan recipe I came up with (it makes about 2-3 servings, depending on your portion size):
- 1/2 cup of carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cucumber
- 1/2 yellow pepper
- 1 cup romaine lettuce
- 1/2 cup purple lettuce
- 1/2 cup kale
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 cup vegetable broth (I use organic Swanson’s, which is also gluten-free)
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- sea salt
- cracked black pepper
- cayenne pepper, paprika, and garlic powder to taste
Rinse the quinoa to remove any powdery residue. Combine quinoa and vegetable broth in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce to simmer, cover, and let cook for about 15 minutes. You may want to strain it to remove any leftover broth.
Chop up kale, cucumbers, romaine, and purple lettuce – combine and set aside. Dice the yellow pepper and carrots, and put off to the side.
Put the olive oil in a small pan over low heat, and add sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. When the oil starts to sizzle, add in the yellow pepper and carrot mixture. If you like spicy (like I do!) sprinkle some paprika and cayenne over the whole thing. Sautee the mixture to desired texture. I like to keep mine crunchy, so I cook the veggies just long enough to absorb the flavor of the spices and soften up just a little.
Add the quinoa to your lettuce mixture, then when the peppers/carrots have cooled, spoon them into the bowl. Mix well, then sprinkle with salt and pepper if needed. The wonderful part about sauteeing your veggies in olive oil is that you don’t need any salad dressing or anything, which is great, because it’s extra calories you really don’t need (and I hate salad dressing anyway). You end up with a salad that has plenty of protein, about 4 full servings of veggies, and an absolutely gorgeous array of colors. Who says salads have to be boring?! Spoiler warning: I loved the pepper 😉
So thank you, summer, for this beautiful (and healthy) bounty! My stomach is quite content tonight 🙂