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

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.


Race Recap // Chicken Sausage with Peppers and Easy Spinach Pasta Salad

This post two-for-one deal. It’s a running and recipe post all rolled into one! Let me start the race recap with my Saturday. In my last post I talked about my nervousness and how I planned on dealing with it. So, what did I do all weekend?

Well, like I had said before, Mike and I went to the Cellcom Race Expo and picked up my race packet. We bought a running hat (for him) and some more running capris (for me) there. We then headed over to Hinterland for some beer & food. It was so good. We decided to sit in the lounge and I’m so glad we did. The space is really neat – we snagged a corner booth that had a nice view of the downtown area. The service and food were amazing. We’re already planning on next trip back – I’m sad they are a 40 minute trip away, but it’s definitely worth it.

hinterland beer, goat cheese curds, smoked chicken pizza

We drank: Cherry Wheat (Crisp, cool and refreshing. Brewed using tart Door County cherries from Seaquist Orchards) and Bourbon Barrel Dopplebock (Dark amber color. Full-bodied. Pronounced notes of caramel and oak with a smooth bourbony finish. Aged 10.5 months). Both were delish.

We ate: Caprine supreme goat cheese curds with kimchee ketchup and Nueske’s smoked chicken pizza (maple bock barbecue, mango, chives, goat cheese). The cheese curds were different than any cheese curd I’ve had before – they were light and fluffy and the kimchee ketchup was awesome. The pizza was, of course, delish as well. I loved the addition of the mango.

Saturday, we wasted the day away at home and ran some errands. I felt sick with anticipation almost all day. I was refreshing the weather on my iPad every hour (definitely wasn’t helping). I ended up throwing together dinner early at around 5:00 so we could eat early and get to bed by 9:00.

Some people have certain foods they need to stay away from before race day. I’ve found that I can eat almost anything, but it’s best if I stay away from fiber and copious amounts of grease. I ended up making a dish with chicken sausage and bell peppers with a pasta salad side. I loved that this meal was filling, easy, and my stomach handled it perfectly.

healthy chicken sausage with peppers |

Chicken Sausage & Peppers 

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
12 ounces fully cooked chicken sausage*, cut into 1 1/2 – 2″ pieces
2 bell peppers, sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add in onions and cook for 3 – 4 minutes or until they start to soften.
  2. Add in sausage and bell peppers and cook until sausage is heated through, 3 – 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*I used Johnsonville’s Chicken Sausage – Chipotle Montery Jack in my dish. I’ve had this type before and love it so I used it again instead of trying something new.

healthy chicken sausage & peppers with easy spinach pasta salad |

Easy Spinach Pasta Salad

12 ounces farfalle or other small pasta
1 teaspoon garlic olive oil or plain olive oil*
3 cups baby spinach
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain and immediately toss with garlic olive oil. Toss warm cooked pasta with spinach, onion, tomato and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

*I used a garlic evoo from a local store, The Olive Cellar. Love the place and will never buy olive oil (or balsamic) from any other place.

After eating a fair amount of this, Mike and I turned in for the night. He tried to calm my nerves by playing the Fun Run episode from The Office. It worked 🙂

Now, that brings us to Sunday: race day. Mike and I rolled out of bed at around 4:00 that morning and I nervously ate a banana and some Quaker Oatmeal Squares. I chugged a little water and then we were off to Green Bay. We weather was beautiful at first. Here’s a picture of me – all happy that it was race day and ready to conquer Cellcom once again.

cellcom half 2013 - before

I got about 2 miles in before I realized just how hot and humid it was. Last year was hotter, but this year was much more humid. I do not handle humidity or heat very well. Put the two together and well… I’m a goner. Let’s just say that there aren’t many pictures I want to post of my grossness mid-run. I will, however, share with you the pics Mike snapped during my last mile in Lambeau Field!

cellcom half - lambeau field

I may look happy and full of energy in the above photos, but miles 2 – 12 were killer. I was dragging and just mentally d-o-n-e with it all. After I crossed the finish line and found Mike, I loaded up on brats and beer. I got my picture taken with a complete stranger (??) and then changed into dry clothes before heading back out to Lambeau and cheering on the marathoners and snapping a few more pics.

cellcom half 2013 - finish

I wish I could say that everything was perfect. That I hit my goal time. That I PRed. But none of that is true. I debated sharing my time with the world because I was embarrassed at first. Then, I realized that all runners have good days and bad days. I just happened to have a bad day. And even though my time was 2:27 and I finished nearly 15 minutes after my goal time, I still did better than the person I was just 2 1/2 years ago. I used to be someone who couldn’t run for 20 seconds straight and struggled through Day 1 of Couch to 5k for a solid week.

I don’t run to be first. I run to finish.


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.


Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

This was a super easy dish! I was excited to be able to use up some more goodies from our CSA box (lettuce and cucumbers this time). I’m a big fan of easy, no-fuss dishes in the summer. What made this dish even better is that I had every single ingredient in my kitchen already! I love it when I don’t need to make a trip to the store to make a dish 🙂

I was impressed with how long the lettuce from our CSA lasted. They sent it to us with roots (and a little dirt) still attached and wrapped in some plastic wrap. It didn’t look wilty or sad when I finally got around to using it a week and a half later. I wish all lettuce looked this good after such a long time!

PS – Mike and I are en-route to Myrtle Beach today! I’m so excited for a week of sun and relaxation. There are some new recipes scheduled to be posted during the week I’m gone. Hope you all enjoy 🙂

Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

1 head lettuce or salad greens of choice
2 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 red onion, minced
1 large mango, diced

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, mayonnaise, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly add in oil, whisking constantly.
  2. In a large bowl, toss chicken, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, and mango with the dressing.
  3. Place greens on plates and top with chicken salad. Serve immediately.

*adapted from Food and Wine