a balanced plate with room for dessert

Leave a comment

Kale & Apple Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

The last outdoor farmers’ market is this Saturday in Madison. The last Wednesday market was yesterday and my heart broke a little. What am I going to do on my Wednesday lunches now? I can’t believe it’s November. I can’t believe it’s already snowed. I’m looking forward to visiting the indoor market for the first time this winter. I can’t believe I’ve lived in Madison for 5+ years and have never been to the indoor farmers’ market.

I have one thing that I’m looking forward to buying – kale. Lots and lots of kale. Sometimes I forget that good food doesn’t need to be time-consuming. It doesn’t need to be complicated. This kale & apple salad is the perfect example of that.

Kale & Apple Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing |

Kale & Apple Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 red onion, cut into a small dice
2 bunches kale (about 1 pound)
2 medium honey crisp apples

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, mustard, poppy seeds, salt, and pepper until well combined. Drizzle in oil while whisking continuously. Stir in onion and set dressing aside.
  2. Remove fibrous stem from kale discard.  Slice leaves crosswise into 1/4-inch thick ribbons and place in bowl with dressing.
  3. Slice apples into matchstick pieces and add to bowl. Toss to combine. Allow salad to sit for 15 minutes before serving. Salad can be prepared up to one day ahead of time; toss again before serving.


recipe slightly adapted from Chow




Mediterranean Chopped Salad

I have a secret: I made this dish months ago. Back when spring was barely showing its face in Wisconsin. I took one bite of the salad and knew that this was going to be absolutely perfect for summer. The salad was delicious back in the spring when it was made from not-quite-in-season veggies. Now that it’s summer, I urge you to take advantage of the delicious, local veggies at a farmers’ market near you. I walk through the Appleton or Madison market every week and the bountiful produce makes my day. I can’t eat this salad right now (it doesn’t fit into my diet quiet yet), but I can dream about it. I’m hoping that my food issues get sorted out before the summer is over so I can take advantage of the fresh veggies from the market and in my garden.

Mediterranean Chopped Salad |

Mediterranean Chopped Salad

1 medium cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 small red onion minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1 romaine heart, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
Ground black pepper

  1. Place cucumber and tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and gently toss to combine. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, and garlic. Add the cucumber, tomatoes, chickpeas, olives, onion, and parsley; toss to combine and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  3. Add romaine and feta and toss until ingredients are evenly distributed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste before serving.


recipe very slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Leave a comment

Spring Veggie Quinoa Power Bowls

Spring is here. With spring, comes spring cleaning. Most people clean out their closets and rid the house of dust bunnies. Why don’t ya take it one step further and clean up your lunchtime routine? Stop running to the closest fast food joint and prep this at home the night before instead. Your body will thank you.

I love quinoa for its amazing health benefits. It has protein, fiber, and iron, plus lots of vitamins and minerals to keep your body healthy and help it repair itself. It’s naturally gluten free and it is one of the few plant foods that is considered a complete protein. As an added bonus, the texture is really, really cool. It can be a bit on the pricier side when you compare it to other grains like pasta, bread, and rice, but it’s worth the cost. (Hint: I like getting it from Costco. They come in huge bags for a good price and it lasts forever.) Asparagus is also packed with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. How could you not love a veggie that is a cancer-fightin’, health-improvin’ machine?

spring veggie quinoa power bowls |

This quinoa bowl is packed with goodness and is so easy to throw together. It’s ready in under 30 minutes and it’s good warm, cold or at room temp. What more could you ask for?

Spring Veggie Quinoa Power Bowls |

Quinoa Power Bowls
serves 4

1 cup quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
olive oil spray
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and chopped into 1 ½ – 2 inch pieces
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 – 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 large lemon, juiced
8 cups spring mix (lettuce or other salad base of choice works, too)
4 ounces feta cheese
1/2 cup almonds
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Bring chicken broth to a boil. Add quinoa and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until all liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the dish. Spray a large pan with olive oil. Add garlic and onion and saute for 1 – 2 minutes, or until onion softens. Add asparagus, bell pepper, and garbanzo beans and cook until vegetables are tender-crisp, about 3 – 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and squeeze lemon juice over the vegetables. Toss to combine.
  3. To serve, divide the spring mix between four bowls. Fluff quinoa with a fork and place on top of greens. Top with vegetables, feta, and almonds.


adapted from Clean Eating Magazine


Kale BLT Salad

Ok, so there isn’t any “L” in this BLT salad. It should probably be called BKT or BKaleT.  As it turns out, raw kale isn’t really my jam. It tastes like what I think grass might taste like. But, raw kale covered in dressing with bacon? Right up my alley.

My coworker gave me three huge bags of kale – two curly kale and one dino kale. The curly kale went into this salad and I’m still contemplating what to do with the dino kale. I might just make another BKT salad because I’m seriously lacking in the kale recipe department. My coworker kindly included a recipe for this salad along with the kale. A little internet searching led me to the original source – Vegan Yum Yum. Needless to say, I completely un-veganfied it. Not only did I use mayo and bacon, I went and ate my salad with some grilled chicken, too. No regrets 🙂

Kale BLT Salad |

Kale BLT Salad

2 heads curly kale
12 strips bacon, cooked and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

for the dressing:
1/3 cup low fat mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Wash and dry kale. Remove the stem from each leaf with a pair of scissors, a knife, or your fingers. Stack leaves on top of each other and slice into thin strips. Place kale strips into a large bowl and toss with bacon, cherry tomatoes, and red onion.
  2. To make the dressing, whisk all ingredients together. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving.

slightly adapted from Vegan Yum Yum


Couscous Salad

It’s recipe swap time again! This month’s theme was Summer Salads and I got a couscous salad recipe from Nicole over at Cookies on Friday.

I was super excited to get this recipe because I love couscous. Specifically, pearl couscous. There’s just something really amusing about the shape and size of it to me. Unfortunately, the only place that I could find it before was at Trader Joe’s two hours away from home. Whenever I was in Madison, I would stock up on couscous.

Now, Trader Joe’s is a lovely 20 minute drive across town for me. I no longer have to be that crazy lady in the checkout line with 8 boxes of couscous in my arms.

If you can’t find pearl couscous (also known as Israeli couscous) you can use normal couscous instead! Nicole also noted that you can use whatever combination of mayonnaise and yogurt that you would like. I opted to use less mayo and subbed in a Greek yogurt instead of using a plain yogurt or sour cream, but feel free to use what you have on hand!

Couscous Salad |

Couscous Salad
recipe adapted from Cookies on Friday via All Recipes

1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoon ground cumin
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/3 cups pearl couscous
1 3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup toasted and sliced almonds
1 – 15 ounce can garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained and rinsed

  1. To prepare the dressing: combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add couscous and cook until lightly browned, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Slowly add in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Let simmer for 12 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat.
  3. In a large bowl, combine couscous, onion, bell pepper, parsley, raisins, almonds, and chickpeas. Toss to combine. Stir in dressing until evenly incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Thanks to Taste of Home Cooking for organizing! Make sure to check out the other recipe swap posts!


Leave a comment

Easy Quinoa with Roasted Mini Bell Peppers

This simple salad is packed full of flavor and makes the perfect accompaniment to pretty much any summer dish. If you’re ever asked to bring a salad or side dish for a potluck, throw this together… I’m 99% sure that no one else will show up with the same dish as you 😉

I’ll tell you a little secret though – this dish is also perfect alone as a main. I meant to grill some chicken to go with it, but sometimes I just run out of gas at the end of the day. This was one of those days. So we each had nice, large bowls of this instead. Perfect 🙂

Easy Quinoa with Roasted Mini Bell Peppers |

Easy Quinoa with Roasted Mini Bell Peppers

4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups quinoa
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup garlic olive oil, divided
1 package mini bell peppers
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped

  1. Bring chicken broth to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add in quinoa and garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover pot. Simmer until chicken broth is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place peppers in skillet in a single layer and cook until blistered on all sides. Set aside in a large bowl.
  3. Add quinoa to bowl along with remaining olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Top dish with feta and parsley and serve.


Mediterranean Salmon Salad

Mediterranean Salmon Salad with Feta, Artichoke Hearts and Orzo |

Okay, so I’m a bit of a bad dietitian. I don’t eat fish once a week. Or even once a month, honestly. I can’t really tell you why. I like it, but it just never seems to make it into my menu plan. I almost always have a salmon and tilapia in my freezer, but I very rarely reach for it when I’m putting dinner together. Hmm. Something’s gotta change. To start us off? This delicious salad. This salad isn’t your traditional mostly-lettuce salad. Don’t get me wrong – I love my mostly veggie salads. I eat one for lunch every day during the work week.  But sometimes a basic veg salad just doesn’t hit the spot. But this salad most definitely does. It is chock-full of all sorts of goodies from salmon to artichoke hearts to feta to…  well, everything I love. I made this again a couple weeks later and forgot the feta and it still tasted great. Best of all, it was super easy to put together. From start to finish, it only took about 20 minutes.

Mediterranean Salmon Salad with Artichokes, Feta, and Orzo |

Mediterranean Salmon Salad
slightly adapted from Weekly Bite via Prevention RD

for the dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

for the salad:
1 pound salmon filet
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup orzo
1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved
1 bell pepper, chopped (~3/4 cup)
1/2 red onion, chopped (~3/4 cup)
5 ounces feta, crumbled
14 ounce can of artichoke hearts, quartered
2 cups spring salad mix
dressing (see above)

  1. To make the dressing: whisk all ingredients together and set aside. 
  2. To make the salad: Preheat broiler to high. Sprinkle salmon with salt, pepper, and oregano. Place under broiler and cook for 5 minutes, or until center is cooked.
  3. Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and place into a large bowl. Pour 1/4 cup dressing over pasta and gently toss. Add in olives, bell pepper, red onion, feta, artichoke hearts, and salad mix to orzo and toss to combine.
  4. Flake salmon with two forks and place on top of salad. Serve with additional dressing on the side.