Watermelon Spinach Salad

watermelon spinach salad

Happy hump day, folks!  Who else is planning their summer menu?  I’ve got the perfect recipe for barbecues, family potlucks, and all of the upcoming summer festivities!  Picnic or potluck style food used to be my jam.  I loved eating potato salad, cold pasta salad, deviled eggs—basically anything with mayonnaise. 😋 Though, why have mayo when you can have fresh, colorful food?!  The Watermelon Spinach Salad I’ve whipped up will be the game-changing healthy side dish or main to jazz up summertime meal spreads!

watermelon spinach salad

Occasionally, salads make an appearance at the average summer get-together but a big pile of green leaves does not usually appeal to people.  Add in a little texture and color and bam!  Suddenly the dish takes on a whole new kind of appetizing.  Watermelon is abundant and affordable during summer months so make sure you use a fresh and firm one for this salad.  Grainy or barely-sweet watermelon is not something we want in this salad.

Refreshing watermelon, briny green olives, and the texture of the quinoa and sliced almonds make this salad so satisfying!

It works great as a side dish but it’s also easy to turn into a meal.  Just add protein of choice like chickpeas (or lemon pepper tuna, if you’re like my mom) and then it’s a complete meal!  To coat the salad, I used an adaptation of a lemon dressing from Cookie and Kate that I’ve been head over heels for.  It’s seriously the best for drizzling on ANYTHING!  It is a subtle complement to make this salad come alive.  I know I’ll be making this again and again throughout the summer!

watermelon spinach salad

watermelon spinach salad

watermelon spinach salad

watermelon spinach salad

Have a great rest of your week!  Also, don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss out on any of my new posts.  Subscribe via the right-hand side panel or at the bottom of this page. 😉

watermelon spinach salad

Watermelon Spinach Salad
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Recipe type: Main, Side
Cuisine: American
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
I've created a fun salad to take to all of the upcoming summer festivities! It's perfect for barbecues to potlucks, or simply enjoy at home with a glass of lemonade. Recipe makes 2 main salads or 3 side servings but can easily be multiplied.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder (Kate uses 2 cloves garlic, minced)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • A dash of black pepper
  • 5 cups packed spinach
  • 1 heaping cup cooked white quinoa
  • ½ cup sliced radishes
  • 4 large green olives from a jar (I used garlic-stuffed, marinated olives)
  • For serving: 3 cups cubed watermelon, 3 tbsp sliced almonds, and, optional, protein of choice—I went with ½ cup garbanzo beans
Instructions
  1. First, combine ingredients for the dressing in a medium bowl. Everything from the olive oil through the black pepper.
  2. Then, add the spinach to the bowl and lightly massage or toss to thoroughly coat with the dressing.
  3. Incorporate the cooked quinoa, radishes, and green olives.
  4. To serve, add the watermelon and sliced almonds. Plus, optional protein, if eating the salad as a main dish.
Notes
Salad is best eaten right away but can last up to a day if made ahead of time. If saving for later, store the watermelon separately so it doesn't water down the salad and combine when ready to serve.

 

May Pole Day and a Fresh Salad with Pasta and Fruit

Today is May 1st, AKA May Day.

Fresh and Fruity Iceberg Salad with Pasta for May

In elementary school, this day was a big deal for the kids because they would get to participate in the May Pole Dance.  Also, by kids, I mean me.  I got to participate in the May Pole Dance along with my entire third grade class.

I think it was a whole month in advance that we started practicing.  My teacher would take a break from lesson plans a few times a week and take us outside to the field to dance with ribbons.  I can’t exactly describe how the dance went but it looked something like this. Our parents and the community got notified of the event (because 8 year olds dancing around a pole to create a ribbon braid is considered an event for a small town like mine, mmkay?).  It was also a rite of passage for children.  As a youngling in school, I saw the older kids participate and looked forward to the day that I would be so privileged to participate in the acclaimed event.

Fresh and Fruity Iceberg Salad with Pasta for May

Oh, and you might be wondering what May Day is and the meaning behind the May Pole Dance.  Honestly, I only ever participated in May Day at that elementary school of mine so I don’t know the exact history.  I believe the dance is ceremonial and dates back to really old times in England.  These days, especially in the U.S., we tend not to follow such traditionalist practices so it I think it is less common.  The dance and celebration that occur are in honor of the start of summer and the new life that it brings.  Thus, I felt it appropriate to share the story as I mention that I am so very into fresh recipes for summer!

Fresh and Fruity Iceberg Salad with Pasta for May

The warm weather has me craving chilled salads, sweet and juicy produce, and ingredients that won’t weigh me down.  I called this dish a Fresh Salad with Pasta and Fruit because that’s what it is.  It also has all of my favorite ingredients from chicken salad but without chicken 🙂 I know apples aren’t technically considered summer fruit but they’re around all year long!  Some light and crisp lettuce, plus, crunchy celery, adds to the hydrating factor of this salad.  A very important factor if you’re dealing with hot temperatures like me.  #SoCal

As always, I made this recipe based on ingredients I had in my fridge but change it up to fit your needs.  Some darker leafy greens would work nicely instead of the iceberg.  Even try dried cherries instead of fresh grapes.

Have a happy month of May!

Fresh and Fruity Iceberg Salad with for May

Fresh Salad with Pasta and Fruit
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Recipe type: Lunch
Cuisine: Salad
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 salad
The warm weather has me craving chilled salads, sweet and juicy produce, and ingredients that won’t weigh me down. It's kind of like a chicken salad but made vegetarian and I utilized what I had in my fridge. Feel free to change it up and sub in whatever greens you like.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of lettuce of choice (I only had iceberg but some kale, arugula, or romaine would be lovely!)
  • 3 oz of Banza penne pasta (or other short cut pasta)
  • 1 small-medium sized apple, chopped
  • 1 small stalk of celery (or half a large stalk), chopped
  • ¼ cup of red grapes, chopped in halves
  • Extras: black olives, sliced in half, and chopped pecans
  • Dressing is: 2 tsp olive oil, 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp maple syrup, and ¼ tsp dried tarragon.
Instructions
  1. Set a pot of water on the stovetop to boil and cook the pasta for about 10 minutes or until desired doneness.
  2. In the meantime, chop up the veggies and fruit. Add all ingredients to a serving bowl.
  3. Drain the pasta water and let pasta cool for a minute before adding to the salad.
  4. Drizzle the dressing over all ingredients and enjoy!

Quinoa Taco “Meat” Recipe

Salad with Quinoa Meat

When I was in high school, the cafeteria used to serve junk like pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, or hot dogs.  I like a slice of pizza once in a while but what I love is food that makes me feel good.  There was a limited supply of salads because the school must’ve thought no one would want to eat salads.  On the contrary, everyone would make a beeline for them right at the start of lunch (teachers included).  Every day there was a different lunchtime salad option.  Wednesdays used to be Taco Salad day.

My very favorite!

Salad with Quinoa Meat

You know the one.

It has a bed of lettuce, ground beef crumbles, tomatoes, black or pinto beans, shredded cheese, crunchy tortilla chips, and salsa.  If you order something similar at restaurants, it will probably come with some guacamole, too.  It has all of the yummy taco flavors but is totally healthy because there’s some lettuce in there, am I right?  Well, today’s quinoa taco meat recipe is inspired by my old favorite salad but completely plant-based.

I use a taco seasoning recipe from My Blessed Life which I then add to cooked quinoa, warmed up in a pan.  It provides the Mexican taco flavors but also adds a bit of protein and texture to a salad.  My favorite salad is shown in the pictures.  I like using the quinoa meat with a romaine lettuce base, cilantro, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, and a red salsa for topping.

It is so simple and find myself making this all too often!  Let me know if you give it a try.

Salad with Quinoa Meat  
Quinoa Taco "Meat" Recipe
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Cuisine: Vegetarina, Vegan
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Serves: 1 serving
An easy-to-make "meat" alternative to add some Mexican flair to any dish. It is the perfect base for beans, vegetables, or any other proteins you would like to add.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 tsp taco seasoning (see notes)
Instructions
  1. There is not really a science to making the taco meat. I throw some quinoa into a pan and warm it up with the spices. Half a cup of quinoa to 1 tsp of homemade taco seasoning or store-bought should work, though adjust based on your taste for spice.
Notes
Easy Homemade Taco Seasoning via my Blessed Life
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
Simply, mix all seasoning ingredients together.

Seasoning recipe can be found at My Blessed Life.

 

 

Gingerbread Stovetop Oats with Cashew Cream

Gingerbead Oatmeal

Today I was reading about NASA’s recent discovery of exoplanets that may be similar to our planet Earth.  It seems that they are in a prime zone for habitation and may even have oceans.  See the article here.  I don’t avidly follow space and scientific findings but something about the excitement surrounding the discovery of the planets really cheered me up this morning.  I think the optimism about the possibility that life may exist elsewhere is a really neat thought.  It is a wild thought but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

I have something a little less wild and not very space-related to share with you today: Gingerbread Oatmeal!

I know we are in the month February but who says the gingerbread flavors are only for November/December?  I’m still totally digging spiced flavors in my breakfast!

I must admit, I’m usually a much bigger fan of overnight oats than I am of warm, cooked oats.  It’s a texture thing.  One exception is this recipe for gingerbread oatmeal.  The molasses and spices are so comforting and delicious that it would be a crime not to try them warm!

Another factor that kept me from liking hot oatmeal in the past was the bland taste of it.  I felt it was necessary to add sugar to make it taste like something!  Hold your horses because there is NO sugar needed for this recipe.  We’re using the au natural sweetness of banana 😀  Then, we top off the oatmeal with some fruit of your choosing ( I like pear) and some delectable cashew cream.  I say we soak some cashews NOW so that we can whip up the cashew cream and this oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow! 😉  Who’s with me?!


Gingerbread Stovetop Oats with Cashew Cream
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Recipe type: Breakfast
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Cook time:
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Serves: 1 bowl
A warm bowl of oatmeal, sweetened with banana, and bursting with the flavors of molasses and gingerbread spices. A comforting breakfast for one or double up, as needed, to serve more. Top with fruit of choice and cashew cream.
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup rolled oats
  • ⅔ cup water
  • 1 medium banana (half mashed, the other half sliced)*
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp ginger
  • ⅛ tsp nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp allspice
  • ⅛ tsp cloves (optional)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp ground flax seeds
  • Cashew milk or milk of choice, for serving
  • Sliced pear, optional
  • Cashew cream**, for serving (see notes for recipe)
Instructions
  1. Add the water to a small pot and bring to a boil. Then, add the oats, mashed banana, spices, vanilla, and molasses. Turn down the heat to a medium level.
  2. After about two minutes, once most of the water has been absorbed, stir in the flax and chia seeds until well-dispersed and cook on low for one additional minute.
  3. Take the oatmeal off the heat and let sit for a minute. This is important because the banana makes the oatmeal retain a lot of heat so it will be REALLY HOT if you dig into it right away.
  4. Serve oatmeal with the other half of the banana, sliced pear, a small pour of milk, and a scoop of cashew cream.
Notes
*If desired, applesauce could be substituted for the banana in the recipe.

**You will have leftover cashew cream if making this recipe to go with the gingerbread oatmeal.

Cashew Cream recipe is as follows:
¾ cup raw cashews
1/3 cup water, plus more for soaking
1 ½ tbsp maple syrup
¾ tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt or kosher salt

Simply place cashews in a bowl and fill with water until they are covered. Let them soak to soften. I recommend soaking cashews overnight in the fridge but between 2-6 hours is all that is necessary. Once cashews have softened and expanded, empty the soaking water and add them to a blender or food processor. Blend up the cashews until crumbly, then add ⅓ water, the maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. The resulting thickness will depend on the power of your blender or food processor. I left mine a bit clumpy but blend until desired consistency is achieved.

Cashew cream yields about 3 servings of ¼ cup portions.

NOTE: Prep time does not include soaking time for the cashews.

 

Let’s embrace the last days of winter and enjoy the warm spices of gingerbread!

Crispy Aquafaba Protein Waffles

If you’ve ever cracked open a can of beans and wondered what the purpose of the smelly liquid is, you’re not alone.  I know the liquid helps preserve the beans for storage but, otherwise, that liquid is just useless, right?  Think again!  Aquafaba, or the murky beige liquid that comes packed in garbanzo bean and white bean cans, can be used for a surprising multitude of purposes.

Now, just to clarify, I do not subscribe to a specific way of eating but I do aim to be as plant-based as possible.

With that being said, I have finally perfected a vegan waffle that utilizes aquafaba. That may sound weird but stay with me here.

In reading, I learned that aquafaba can be used as a binder in place of eggs in baking.  I have dabbled in that and gotten mixed results.  I cannot say that subbing aquafaba for eggs works all the time but, when it does, it adds a great lift to baked goods.  In waffles, the aquafaba helps the batter rise up into all of the nooks and crannies of the waffle iron.  It creates a very structured—not soggy!—waffle 🙂

I call these protein waffles because I use a scoop of ALOHA vanilla plant-based protein powder in them, though they can be made without.  Perhaps with a pinch of raw cane or coconut sugar added.  I highly recommend the protein powder if you can use it.  Alternatively, if plain waffles, sans-protein powder, are your thing, you can still use aquafaba and I’ll add some notes below the post for how you can sub out the protein.  I am also a fan of whole grain wheat flour though these can be made gluten free with a little tinkering.  Again, see the notes.

Now, onto the recipe!

Crispy Aquafaba Protein Waffles
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Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Vegan
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 waffle
An easy waffle recipe that utilizes aquafaba, aka the beans' cooking liquid, to make crisp, egg-free, and dairy-free waffles. I like to use protein powder in them but the waffles can also be made entirely of your flour of choice.
Ingredients
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbs flaxmeal + 2.5 tbs water)
  • ½ cup aquafaba (plus 2 tbs, if needed)*
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 scoop of ALOHA vanilla protein powder or other plant-based protein powder**
  • ⅓ cup whole wheat flour***
Instructions
  1. Make flax egg by adding flax and water to a small bowl. Let set for 5 minutes. You may prepare your waffle iron during this time by spraying it with nonstick cooking spray or melting a teaspoon of coconut oil into the iron. Preheat iron to desired temperature. A medium to high heat setting works best.
  2. Add aquafaba, baking powder, vanilla, protein powder, and whole wheat flour to the flax egg. Stir just until the consistency reaches a thick but well-incorporated batter. If using whole wheat flour you may need to add the 2 extra tablespoons of aquafaba.
  3. Place batter directly into the center of the waffle iron and seal it. Cook until the waffle iron signifies the waffle is cooked. Mine takes about 5 minutes.
  4. Carefully remove waffle from waffle iron and cool for a few seconds. I like to toss the waffle between my hands just to release the excess heat. Add toppings of choice!
Notes
*Aquafaba from home-cooked beans can also be used.

**Instead of using 1 scoop of a plant-based protein powder you can just use additional flour for a total of ½ cup of flour.

**For a gluten free waffle, replace the flour with oat flour and 2 teaspoons of coconut flour. Additionally, the protein may be subbed out for a total of ½ cup oat flour and 1 tbsp coconut flour. Do not leave out the coconut flour—it is really helpful to give the waffle structure.

DISCLAIMER: I am not being sponsored or compensated by ALOHA for talking about their product. I am merely a fan of their protein powder.