Summer Beet and Corn Salad

One great thing about summer is the abundance of fresh fruits and veggies that are available. Whether you get your produce from a farm stand, supermarket, or your own backyard, summer eating should be colorful and full of nutrition. Here’s a simple summer recipe for beet and corn salad, which can be eaten on its own, or as a side dish. If you’re heading to a barbecue, consider preparing a dish like this to impress your hosts and other dinner guests!

Simple Summer Beet and Corn Salad (serves 3-4)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large beet, or 2-3 medium sized beets (greens removed)
  • 1/2 cup sliced onion
  • 3/4 cup corn
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Boil water
  • As you’re waiting, remove outer layer from the beets using a vegetable peeler
  • If the beets are large, cut in half
  • Boil the beets for about 25 minutes (or until soft)
  • Remove corn from the cob, or if you’re not using fresh corn, measure 3/4 cup of corn and steam in the microwave
  • In a saucepan, heat the 1/2 cup sliced onion on low heat
  • Drain the beets when they’re finished cooking, and drain whatever excess water remains from the corn.  Remove the onion from the pan when it is lightly browned.
  • Combine the beets, corn, and onion, and add olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Mix well with a spoon.
  • Refrigerate and enjoy when cooled

 

-Jess

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Chocolate Chip-Granola Compassion Cookies

Cookies in the morning sunlight

Cookies in the morning sunlight

Greetings and happy (almost) summer solstice! The recipe I’m sharing today has nothing to do with summer. After all, chocolate chip cookies can be eaten year-round and aren’t necessarily something I think of as a summer treat. Regardless, I’m sharing this recipe because of the reasons why I decided to wake up early this morning and create these cookies in the first place. Lately my schedule has been jam-packed due to taking an intensive summer class (microbiology and a microbiology lab) and the start of a new job. These two factors have led me to indulge in some not-so-healthy eating, in the form of coming home late at night and indulging in some of my favorite healthy, yet, junky foods. I realized this past week, that I keep buying foods that I tend to overeat (cereal, granola, chocolate chips, and trail mix, although healthy, are my weaknesses and I never eat just one serving). As I’ve written in previous posts, using food during stress is common, but it shouldn’t be your go-to way to relax. With this in mind (and after eating one too many bowls of granola in bed this past week), I decided to make it easier for myself to not over-do my granola + chocolate chip habit by baking cookies that I can share and give to others. If you find yourself eating the same foods during times of stress, or simply when you’re not actually physically hungry, one easy step to alleviate this problem is by getting rid of the “trigger food”. Instead of being wasteful, either make a dish for someone else or donate the food item to a food bank. If the food is already opened, see if you can contact any organizations that accept fresh yet opened food (many do) or if you live in an area with a visible homeless population, consider showing some kindness and giving your food to a homeless person directly. Kindness towards yourself (by not using food to cope with stress) and kindness towards others (by donating said food items) is a win-win. Here’s my recipe for chocolate-chip granola cookies, or as I’m calling them “Compassion Cookies”. Enjoy and share your food!

Compassion Cookies 

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Makes 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of flour (it can be whole wheat, spelt flour, almond meal, gluten-free, whatever floats your boat)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (softened, I microwaved it in a bowl for 45 seconds)
  • 1/4 cup soy milk (or almond milk)
  • 1.5 cups granola (I used Nature’s Path Cinnamon Raisin Granola)
  • approx. 8 oz. vegan chocolate chips (I used sunspire organic 65% cacao chocolate chips, but I know trader joe’s also makes vegan chocolate chips)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Create a well in the dry ingredients and add applesauce, vanilla extract, and melted coconut oil.
  • Add the soy milk
  • Add the granola and chocolate chips.
  • Mix well.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with non-stick spray
  • Using a spoon, spoon cookie batter onto the sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes
  • Remove from the pan, allow to cool.
  • Share and enjoy!

 

-Jess

 

Double-Chocolate Brownies Fit For A Dad

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! I’ve decided to make this post short and sweet because it’s beautiful outside and I want to spend as much time with my family as possible today. If you haven’t noticed, my go-to gift strategy for loved ones is baking something delicious, so this morning I woke up early and made a new brownie recipe. If you haven’t yet gotten your dad a gift, consider whipping something up in the kitchen. Baked goods from the heart are always sure to please!

Father’s Day Double-Chocolate Browniesphoto 1-10

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 2 tbsp. melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup. soy milk + 1/2 cup raisins (mix together in a food processor to make a thick liquid)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder).
  • Combine 1/4 cup soy milk and 1/2 cup raisins in a food processor to make a thick liquid
  • Make a well in the dry ingredients and add apple sauce, soy milk, melted coconut oil, and soy milk-raisin mixture
  • Stir, and then add in chocolate chips
  • Grease a brownie pan/tin and heat at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes.
  • Allow to cool, then cut and serve

 

Have a great, chocolate-filled Father’s Day, and Happy Father’s Day to my Dad, who always encourages me to work hard and follow my dreams!

-Jess

My First Award!

Liebster Award

Greetings readers! I’m thrilled to announce that Vitamin Valentine has been nominated by Alice at A Healthy Nut (a great nutrition blog!) for a Liebster Award! Thank you so much Alice! The Liebster Award is given to blogs so that fellow bloggers can connect and showcase a little bit about themselves, as well as to highlight their blogs. Here are the rules of the award:

1. You must link back to the person who nominated you.
2. You must answer the 10 questions given to you by the person who nominated you.
3. You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award.
4. You must create 10 questions for your nominees.
5. You must go to their blogs and notify the nominees.

Here are Alice’s questions for me (and my answers):

1. What made you start up your own blog ?

I started my blog last June (wow, it’s been a year!) when I enrolled in a dual B.S./M.S. program in nutrition. I have always been interested in nutrition and wanted to share some of my favorite recipes on this blog. As I started learning new things in my classes, I decided to make my blog a combination of things I’m learning, healthy recipes, and personal tidbits from my life.
2. What’s your best piece of healthy advice to others ?

My best piece of healthy advice to others is to be the healthiest version of you, instead of striving to compete with others. Being healthy shouldn’t be stressful. Instead, focus on what you’re capable of and appreciate where you are in this moment.

 

3. What’s your must have, cannot live without, piece of food ? Peanut butter anyone ?

My must-have food are honey crisp apples. They’re so delicious and I love going apple picking in the fall specifically for this variety. Honey crisp apples also go exceptionally well with the aforementioned peanut butter!

 

4. What is your one must have piece of fitness equipment ?

My must have piece of fitness equipment is a treadmill, because sometimes you just want to go for a run but the weather or time of day doesn’t permit that (night runs=my happy time, but it’s safer inside). I also tend to wear headphones and doing that outside isn’t the safest option. Safety first!
5. Smoothie or juice and what’s your favorite ?

Tough question. Can I pick both? I like smoothies because they still contain all of the fiber in the fruits and veggies you’re using, but I also like juice because it’s refreshing. My favorite smoothie is probably kale or spinach + 1 banana, some frozen berries, and coconut water.
6. Favorite foodie recipe ?

Angela Liddon’s Italian Bean Balls & Spaghetti Squash Noodles. Found here: http://ohsheglows.com/2013/10/30/italian-bean-balls-spaghetti-squash-noodles/
7. Favorite work out song ?

Currently, it’s “Julian” by Say Lou Lou, but this changes just about every week! I love music and I love discovering new songs/artists, especially because treadmill running can get boring and music is a great motivator/distraction.
8. How do you work out ?

I try to do yoga every day, even if it’s just a few poses and a meditation. I aim for 5 days of some form of cardio, whether it’s running (outside or on the treadmill), using an elliptical, or going for a hike.
9. If you could live any where in the world, where would you live and why ?

I would like to live anywhere where trees outnumber cars, or somewhere in the Pacific Northwest US, Australia, New Zealand, or South America. I currently live in New York, and although there are things I love about it, I’m not a fan of harsh winters and heavy traffic.
10. One thing that other’s don’t know about you ?

When I don’t know the lyrics to a song, instead of humming, I “meow” the lyrics. (I may or may not be classified as a “crazy cat lady” 😉 )

 

My nominees for the Liebster award are:

1. FeedMeColor (http://feedmecolor.wordpress.com)

2. VeggieChica http://veggiechica.com

3. The Personal Blogs http://thepersonalblogs.wordpress.com

4. Stuff My Brain Thinks http://stuffmybrainthinks.com

5. Size Zero Kitchen http://www.sizezerokitchen.com

6. Second Act Kitchen http://secondactkitchen.com

7. Craving Something Healthy http://cravingsomethinghealthy.com

8. Lucy’s Friendly Foods http://lucysfriendlyfoods.wordpress.com

9. Freedom Food Journal http://freedomfoodjournal.wordpress.com

10. Eat Lift Run Sleep http://eatliftrunsleep.wordpress.com

 

And here are my questions for my nominees:

1. What has been the most rewarding part of blogging (so far)?

2. How did you get interested in nutrition, cooking, fitness, or wellness?

3. What’s your go-to breakfast for a busy workday?

4. What is your most memorable eating experience?

5. What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?

6. What’s your favorite vacation destination?

7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given (it can be health/nutrition related, or not)?

8. What’s your favorite dessert and have you made a healthy version?

9. What’s your favorite way to workout?

10. Share something that may surprise a reader!

 

I hope everyone participates, I had fun answering the questions! Thanks Alice, and have fun with this!

-Jess

Wrap it up: Tofu Salad!

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Tofu is probably one of the most versatile plant proteins to cook with. One of my favorite ways to eat tofu is in an egg-salad-like dish (sans eggs). This dish can be eaten in a wrap, a sandwich, on crackers, or on its own. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients (serves four or more)

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  • 1/2 a package of firm tofu, drained
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 tsp. dill
  • dash of black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric (optional, used for color)
  • 1 tsp. mustard
  • 3 tbsp. vegan mayonaise
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tbsp. tahini sauce (optional)

Directions

Drain the tofu and press out remaining water using paper towels. Chop the tofu into small pieces.photo 2-8

Chop the onions, carrot, and celery.photo 5

Combine the ingredients in a bowl, and add mustard, vegan mayo, soy sauce, and tahini. Add spices (pepper, turmeric, dill). Mix together and add to your favorite slice of bread, salad, or wrap.

I added salsa and spinach leaves to my finished product. Yum!

I added salsa and spinach leaves to my finished product. Yum!

Enjoy!

-Jess