Grapefruit, Avocado, Quinoa, and Spinach Salad with Avocado Green Goddess Dressing

Have you heard of green goddess dressing? I have no idea where it originates from, but I am newly obsessed. According to the ever informative Wikipedia green goddess dressings typically include mayonnaise and sour cream among many other herbs and spices. I try to eat less mayonnaise and sour cream due to their high saturated fat content, so I have developed this version of green goddess dressing using a better for you green fat…AVOCADO! This dressing is so good, I want to put it on everything. It goes perfectly with the last grapefruit recipe of the week: Avocado, Grapefruit, Quinoa, and Spinach Salad.

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Grapefruit and avocado are a match made in heaven. Seriously, if you look up grapefruit salads, they almost always include avocado. I think its because the creamy texture of the avocado helps to balance out the bitter flavor of the grapefruit. I went ahead and took my avocado obsession up a notch by including it in the dressing for my grapefruit and avocado salad.

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If you’ve had green goddess dressing before, what else do you put it on?

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Chia Seed Pudding with Broiled Grapefruit & Blueberries

I have a confession… when I say I like grapefruit, I think I mean grapefruit cocktails. Grapefruit has always been my go-to when I order a drink. Last weekend I had a “Summer St. Sling” from Barcelona Wine Bar-a delicious cocktail made with Chamomile Infused Tito’s Vodka Fresh Pink Grapefruit & Lemon Juices.

So naturally I thought I would like grapefruit period. It turns out that’s not exactly the case. I even thought that if I broiled grapefruit that would change my mind, but it didn’t.

Even still, I am sharing with you another grapefruit recipe (and even one more at the end of the week). I hope those of you who love grapefruit will still find them delicious.

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Have you tried chia pudding? Like grapefruit it’s not for everyone.  It’s definitely an interesting texture, but if you can get past that, Chia is a superfood! Chia seeds are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which help reduce cholesterol and inflammation. They also are an excellent source of fiber and a good source of calcium.

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Blueberries and Grapefruit add vibrant color to this chia pudding. It’s a perfect pick me up on a cloudy winter day.

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Broiled Grapefruit Whole Wheat Muffins

I am taking broiled grapefruits up a notch with these whole wheat muffins. I am cooking & baking with grapefruit this week to add some brightness to the cold snowy weather we have been having. I cannot really complain because it only snowed about 8 inches in Boston. To the rest of you still digging out, I hope these muffins brighten your day.

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These muffins use applesauce and yogurt in place of butter or oil. I like to swap healthier foods for fat and sugar sources to feel a little better about eating a treat. The base of this recipe can be used to make lots of different muffin variations. For this recipe, I added a little lemon zest to the batter to add some freshness.

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The grapefruit sits on top of the muffins best if you only fill the muffin tins half way!

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Ingredient of the week: Grapefruit

This week I am celebrating winter citrus. Grapefruit is a one of a kind fruit that has a unique taste. It’s definitely worth a try!

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The best way to cut a grapefruit is to cut from the top. Then slice horizontally to get the pretty star on the inside.  If you try to cut a grapefruit into wedges you will likely make a big mess like me.

You should not cut a grapefruit vertical from the top. It will make it very hard to cut pieces. (I learned the hard way.)

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Either way, they make for a great picture!

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Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts

If you told me 10 years ago I would not only eat, but enjoy pizza crust that was actually cauliflower, I would have told you “yeah right.”

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I have a distinct memory from when I was younger when my mom tried to “trick me” by swapping mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes. After just one taste of these “faux-tatoes” I knew something was up. I looked at my mom, who could not keep a straight face, and asked her what she was trying to feed me. Fighting back laughter she tried to play off the fact that she had made mashed potatoes. I wouldn’t have it for a second. I called her bluff and pushed it away. There was no way I was eating that. Later in the meal, she finally gave in and told me it was cauliflower. I knew it!

Fast forward 10 years, I am making pizza out of cauliflower. It’s truly mind blowing! (Right, mom?)

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I don’t want this story to discourage any parents from trying to ensure their kids are eating enough vegetables. I respect my mom for trying to hide vegetables in my food, but she just did it all wrong. If you want to try “cauliflower mashed potatoes” swap half of your mashed potatoes with cauliflower and combine the two thoroughly. A cauliflower mashed potato combo will more closely mimic the taste and texture of mashed potatoes, which will increase your chances of successfully hiding them from your kids.

Another way to add more vegetables to your diet is by making this cauliflower crust pizza. Although the crust doesn’t taste like pizza dough, it doesn’t taste like cauliflower either. I really love the flavor and texture of this crust.

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I’ve made this recipe a few times, but I am usually deterred because of the time (and cleaning) involved in ricing the cauliflower. Not any more! I have discovered frozen riced cauliflower at Trader Joes. Frozen vegetables actually have the same nutrient profile as fresh vegetables. As a result, there is no way I am going to stress about using fresh cauliflower when I can save time using this frozen version.

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The only thing about this pizza is that it might involve a fork and a knife. I know that some pizza lovers will scoff at the idea of using a fork and knife for pizza, but trust me on this one, it’s worth it.butternut squash & brussels cauliflower pizza (1 of 1)-2

Butternut Squash & Mushroom Farro Risotto

Tom Brady does not eat mushrooms but that’s not gonna stop me!

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We are expecting a huge snowstorm at the end of the week here in Boston, so I am planning to eat lots of this Farro Risotto to stay warm (well this and lots of wine).

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This twist on risotto uses Farro instead of the traditional Arborio Rice. Farro is an ancient whole grain that boasts high amounts of fiber, calcium, and iron among other vitamins. Farro has a nutty flavor and is less grainy than quinoa, which may be more tolerable for those of you who complain about the texture of quinoa. Farro grains are much bigger than quinoa, which gives the farro a closer match in texture to Arborio Rice. I chose farro to substitute Arborio rice as Aborio rice is mainly empty calories, whereas farro is rich in vitamins and minerals.

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Butternut squash is a great addition to this risotto. For this recipe, I chose to serve it as cubes, but you can also mash or place the squash into a food processor and then evenly incorporate the squash into the farro. This is a great option, but definitely takes more time and requires more cleaning (of which I am not a fan).

Although the dish is best when served warm, I also often eat it as leftovers the next day. I have discovered a trick to make the leftovers taste as good as the first day. When you heat the farro in the microwave, add ¼ cup of vegetable broth to the dish. This will add flavor to the dish while it heats up.

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What are your plans if you get snowed in this weekend?

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Roasted Butternut Squash & Rainbow Carrot Salad

It’s hard to crave a salad on cold winter days, but if you had warm roasted squash to your greens you get the best of both worlds, right?

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This salad packs extra warmth with the addition of roasted rainbow carrots. Add the maple vinaigrette and this is the perfect salad when you are looking for something sweet.

If you don’t know how to cut a butternut squash, follow my instructions, (or better yet save time and just buy it pre-cut).

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I think this salad is best served warm, but don’t let that stop you from packing it for work. Just pack the squash and carrots in a separate container. When its time for lunch, put the squash with a little but of water in the microwave for 30-second increments. Add the warm vegetables on top of the rest of the salad and enjoy!

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Ingredient of the week: Butternut Squash

This week I am cooking with Butternut Squash. Butternut squash is a winter squash high in Vitamin A. Butternut squash is definitely not the easiest vegetable to cut, but here is how to do it.

While I don’t usually buy pre-cut fruits and vegetables, butternut squash is where I draw the line. The time is takes to cut one up is not worth it to me. So go ahead and buy the pre cut squash for any of this week’s recipes!

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Mahi-Mahi Fish Tacos with Pomegranate Cranberry Salsa

I fell in love with fish tacos long before I visited San Diego, but since then my love has grown exponentially.

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And if you ask me, nothing pairs better with a fish taco than a fruit salsa. Since this week’s feature ingredient is pomegranates, I’ve made you a pomegranate cranberry salsa. To make the cranberries less tart, I heated a sauce pan and let the cranberries blister. I added a little sugar to cut through the sour flavor of the cranberries. The salsa also calls for lime juice, cilantro, and red onion. I think the trick to finding the right amount of red onion is to chop up what you think you might need and then use HALF. With red onion, it’s always best to error on the side of caution.

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Back to my love of fish tacos. I love fish and I love tacos so fish tacos are just a match made in heaven. As a child I was always a really picky eater (I could go on and on about my weird taste preferences, but I’ll save that for another day). The weird thing about my taste preferences is that I have always loved fish. I hated pizza but I loved fish… there is really no plausible explanation for this.

Moving on, these fish tacos are so delicious. I have discovered the absolute best tortillas at Trader Joes. If you continue to read my blog (and I hope you do), you will find that I get about 80% of my groceries at Trader Joes. It’s the closest supermarket to my apartment and since I have to walk home with all my groceries proximity is of the essence. The best tortillas are a mix of wheat and corn. I find them much heavier than other tortillas. The texture and taste are just great. I definitely recommend you warm them up in the oven or toaster oven prior to serving.

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And more about Trader Joes. I buy most of my fish there too, from the freezer section! Since I usually only need one serving for me, I find the frozen fish to be quite practical and also less expensive. The one thing I make sure to look for is that the fish is wild caught. If you want to know about the perils of farmed fish, just ask my grandma, she will be MORE than happy to share her point of view.

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And lastly, you have to add avocados to these tacos because lets face it are tacos really tacos without avocado? (there is only one right answer)

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Pear & Pomegranate Winter Salad

You won’t miss your summer salads after trying this version celebrating 2 delicious winter fruits: pomegranate and pears.

I love salad with fruit, I just can’t get enough of them. I really don’t like typical garden salads. Iceberg lettuce, carrots, tomatoes and cucumber… not a salad in my book. Spinach, fresh berries, and some avocado…now that’s what I call a salad. Although salads with fruit are definitely harder to come by in the winter, especially in New England, I’ve got you covered with this pear and pomegranate combo.

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This salad uses arugula as its base. I think the peppery flavor pairs nicely with the sweet fruit. Sometimes I find arugula to be a bit too peppery, if that’s the case for you can add half arugula half spinach.

The elephant in the room with this salad is the Parmesan Cheese. I know it seems out of place but trust me it works so well! Actually trust Jessica of How Sweet It Is. I discovered the fruit/Parmesan combination on her website and have been obsessed with it ever since. I like to use Trader Joes freshly saved Parmesan, Romano and Asiago cheese. The large shavings are perfect for a salad. The bonus is that this Parmesan “blend” is much more affordable than traditional Parmesan.

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Although the salad is a recipe for one, the dressing will serve much more, about eight servings. I keep the dressing in the fridge and it last about a week. It will like separate in the fridge, but just shake it before using. I know many homemade vinaigrettes used mustard as an emulsifier, but I really dislike mustard. I did some research and found that honey was a pretty good substitute. Without mustard the dressing might separate more, but I am happy with the consistency and taste without it.

What I love most about this salad and dressing is that they are both great formulas for many salad variations. It’s easy to swap any fruit, lettuce, seed/nut, and cheese for another to make the salad completely different. I will certainly post some of my favorite variations on this blog. Even the dressing can be modified to fit with different salad combinations. You can swap in any type of vinegar for the apple cider vinegar.

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I hope this salad cures your winter blues.

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