Recipes Feed

All hail the Chicken Caesar Sandwich!

I was sent a free coupon from Al Fresco for the purpose of creating a recipe.

Chicken caesar dogs

My family is knee-deep in end-of-the-school-year activities -- and this isn't just any year-ender. It's high school graduation time for the teenager, which makes for a busy house (mostly him but also for mom and dad).

I try and resist the urge to just give up and go out for dinner most days, so I look for super easy meals that I can whip up in a flash, and chicken and turkey sausages come in really handy for that.  I pretty much always have a package either in the fridge or the freezer, ready to go for additions to pasta, the grill, and skillet meals. I always reach for poultry sausage because while they have the same great flavors as pork, they're a lot lower in fat and calories.

This quick meal idea was inspired by something I saw on a menu while on vacation this spring. In all the time I've been cooking with chicken sausage I saw it and thought "Great idea -- why haven't I done this before?"

So now I did. 

I made these on the stove but they'd be a great addition to your Memorial Day grill menu.

Armed with a coupon from  Al Fresco, I picked up a package of Sweet Italian Style chicken sausage and made a sandwich twist on the classic chicken Caesar salad that includes all the familiar flavors, including a well-placed anchovy on top.

I was running low on Caesar dressing so I extended it with some Dijon mustard, and I discovered that I liked it even better. The mustard helps bridge the salad and sausage worlds.

I simply toasted the buns but if you want to do it up big-time, brush the buns with garlic butter before you toast them to get that crouton flavor.

Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

  • 1/4 cup light Caesar dressing (I used Simply Dressed light Caesar dressing)
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 4 hot dog or small sub rolls
  • 4 Al Fresco chicken sausages (I used  Sweet Italian style, but Roasted Garlic or Roasted Pepper and Asiago would also work well)
  • 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1/4 cup shredded or shaved Parmesan
  • 4 anchovy fillets (optional)

To make the sauce, mix the dressing and mustard in a small bowl. Set aside.

Toast the buns, and while they're heating up, cook the chicken sausage. (I heat them in a dry skillet over medium heat until the sausages start to brown.)

Place the sausages in the buns, top with lettuce, sauce and Parmesan and top with an anchovy fillet. 

Makes 4 sandwiches.

 


A watermelon-lime-kefir smoothie for a feel-better Monday

I've had a cold all weekend, and I'm hoping it goes away quickly because this weekend is BUSY! The kid has his spring band concert on Thursday, the band banquet is Friday and he has senior prom on Saturday.

Plus, I have not one but two dental appointments on Wednesday, and have you done that when you can't breathe out of your nose? Good times.

Anyway, here was my breakfast:

Smoothie and sudafed

The one good thing about cold medicine is that it completely kills my appetite so I really had to work up an interest in making breakfast. 

I had some leftover watermelon chunks in the fridge, which inspired me to make a smoothie based on an agua fresca. The combination of watermelon and lime is one of my favorites and I figured that a base of plain kefir would go with the sweet-tart flavors. I figured right. I also added a little agave syrup. If you use a flavored kefir (Lifeway makes a limited-edition watermelon kefir!) you can skip the agave.

Watermelon lime kefir smoothie labeled
Watermelon-Lime-Kefir Smoothie

  • 1 cup plain kefir
  • 1 cup watermelon chunks
  • 1/4 of a peeled lime wedge
  • 2 teaspoons agave syrup
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice

Blend everything together until the lime and ice are thoroughly processed.


Hemp, hemp, hooray for Stonyfield and PrAna!

As a member of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club, I received products and coupons from Stonyfield and PrAna to write this post. All opinions are 100 percent my own.

Now that my mouth is pretty much back to normal, I’m adding back in some things that were off limits, like seeds. When you can’t eat things with chia seeds and hemp seeds, you realize just how many things you buy with chia seeds and hemp seeds.

Banana hemp yogurt labeled

I was inspired to make a little bowl of breakfast yum by a pair of prAna workout capris.

Chetan caprisHuh?

This month Stonyfield and PrAna are teaming up to celebrate #TheWholeYou, so I was sent a pair of PrAna’s Chetan capris, which are a blend of cotton and hemp (a ha!) They’re super comfortable and a little heavier in weight than my usual workout capris, so they’ll be great for wearing to more than the gym. They’re a warm charcoal gray and have cool diagonal piecing on the lower legs. They also have a handy little pocket sewn in the waistband. (Here's a detail shot of the capris at right. Are those my legs? I wish!)

I kinda live in workout clothes. Every morning I wake up and change into them because my goal is to get some work done, take a workout break and go back to work.

The past few weeks have NOT gone that way, what with dental surgery, vacation and IT band stuff, but yesterday I actually did that and it felt great to get back to my routine. Mouth doesn’t bother me, I’m caught up on work, I’m working through the IT band thing (curse you!) and I have a fridge stocked with Stonyfield yogurt, which REALLY came in handy when all I could eat was soft stuff.

Grassfed-greek-plain-24oz-1So what’s in my bowl this morning? Six ounces of plain whole milk Greek yogurt topped with a small sliced banana, a drizzle of honey and about a teaspoon of hemp hearts. I used to be really into flavored yogurts, but lately I'm all about the plain. You can add whatever you like, make it sweet or savory and use it in place of sour cream on things like tacos. It makes a great base for a super thick smoothie, too.

I was more than ready to celebrate #TheWholeYou, and you can, too.

PrAna is offering my readers 15 percent off using the coupon code WHOLES17GGG through the end of May.

I highly recommend the Chetan capris and may get a pair in another color!


Make it mushy: Notes from a post dental surgery menu (and a bonus smoothie recipe)

I've been off the Motrin 800 for more than 12 hours now, which means I might be over the pain hump of Wednesday's periodontal surgery. Some gross little infection had set up shop below a molar implant, and while it didn't hurt one bit, it was causing the bone around the implant to recede. Not good. 

So Wednesday, I had my gum split open (TMI?), every thing cleaned up and some bone graft packed in there. It was a fairly short procedure but the healing part is going to take awhile.

  • Nothing crunchy
  • Nothing spicy
  • Nothing too cold
  • Nothing too hot
  • No seeds
  • No straws

So obviously, all I want is sriracha and chia seeds -- the heart wants what the heart wants.

I've spent the past few days basically sacked out in the den with ice packs, soup and straw-less smoothies, brushing my teeth and rinsing with that gross antiseptic mouthwash multiple times a day. 

Hey, how was your weekend?

But I woke up this morning and am feeling like I can brave the discomfort without any meds. Feeling better, I whipped up this super simple smoothie that I poured into a bowl so I could eat it with a spoon because sucking through a straw might suck the stitches right outta my face.

A smoothie bowl! How trendy! But, alas, I couldn't decorate it with kiwis and chia seeds like all those Pinterest-pretty ones. Still, it was yummy and provided plenty of calcium and protein I need to regrow all that bone around the implant.

Super smooth mango smoothie bowl
Super Smooth Mango-Green Tea Smoothie

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1/4 avocado (I keep my avocado wedges in the freezer)
  • 1/2 cup chilled green tea
  • Stevia to taste (optional)

Blend everything together (I use a Nutri Ninja to make sure it's super smooth) and enjoy.

Other smooth and mushy things I've been enjoying, in case you're going to have dental surgery:

  • Carrot ginger soup: Pacific Natural Foods makes a good one, as does Trader Joe's. I mixed in half a scoop of unflavored Quest protein powder to pump up the protein and surprisingly it blended well and didn't taste weird.
  • Campbell's Well Yes Tomato Carrot Bisque: Holy yum, this was good.
  • Pizza Loft's eggplant Parmesan: We threw an 80th birthday dinner for my mom and my aunt (they're twins), and the eggplant parm was the perfect mushy comfort food. If you live in South Florida, Pizza Loft in Davie is a longtime family fave.

Other less exciting things: oatmeal, avocados, yogurt, kefir, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and of course, smoothies. But I have to set aside my beloved Wyman's berry blend because SEEDS. Here's a list of what I came up with for smooth smoothie ingredients:

  • Mango
  • Peach
  • Banana
  • Cherry
  • Peeled apple
  • Papaya
  • Avocado
  • Smooth nut butter (none of that stone-ground stuff)

How 'bout a Breakfast Banana Split?

Breakfast banana split cover shot labeled

I partnered with Stonyfield and Woodstock Foods for this recipe.  All opinions are my own.

Hey! Long time, no see!

I've been doing a lot more work for the Fit Bottomed World of healthy-living blogs, which is great. It's a combination of graphics, copy editing, writing and back-end stuff, so that's been keeping me busy (and apparently away from the blog). 

I've also been hitting the gym more frequently and staying up far too late watching MSNBC. 

Another thing I've been doing is working with my teenager on cleaning up his eating -- totally HIS decision. I have a post scheduled soon at Fit Bottomed Mamas that goes into more detail about that, but even though he has zero weight issues, he doesn't want to end up with one, so he's making cleaner choices for his meals and snacks.

Lately he's rediscovered yogurt, something he hadn't eaten since he was a toddler. Grabbing a cup of Greek yogurt for a quick breakfast or an evening snack is a good protein-rich choice, and he can choose from a variety of flavors.

He hasn't gone hardcore, like I have.

I pretty much stick to plain yogurt -- be it Greek, regular, nonfat or whole milk. I've been cutting back on my sugar intake and I can honestly say I like plain yogurt now, maybe with just a tiny drizzle of honey or sprinkle of stevia, depending on what I'm eating.

Breakfast banana split watermark
Breakfast banana split ingredients watermarkedI came up with this idea for a fun breakfast or even a dessert. It's a healthy twist on the classic banana split, which uses Stonyfield Grassfed plain yogurt and Woodstock's almond butter and Hiker's Harvest Mix trail, which is a blend of organic pumpkin seeds, raisins, apples and almonds with no added oils, salt or sugar. I added a little drizzle of honey.

I had this for breakfast right after my photo shoot, but I think the kid will enjoy it, too.

Breakfast Banana Split

  • 1 medium banana, peeled and split lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup Stonyfield Grassfed plain yogurt (or any other favorite yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon natural almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons Woodstock Organic Hiker's Harvest Mix
  • Drizzle of honey

Top banana with yogurt, almond butter, trail mix and drizzle the whole thing with honey.

Makes 1 serving.

 


Pomegranate-yogurt muffins

Pomegranate muffin trio labeled
I partnered with Stonyfield and King Arthur for this recipe.  All opinions are my own.

I love pomegranates but am not a big fan of trying to bust them open and harvest the arils (those are the juicy, little gems inside). So I spend the extra money to buy cups of Pom Poms, especially when I've got a coupon.

They're great mixed into plain yogurt with just a drizzle of honey or maple syrup but I wanted to know whether I could bake with them. I had no idea what to expect. Would they burst open? Bleed all over the batter? Get hard and inedible? 

Happily, none of the above!

Muffins baking
I adapted one of my muffin recipes and added a cup of pomegranate arils to the batter and the result was great. The arils stay intact, don't sink to the bottom of the muffin and provide an interesting texture to the muffin with a mild tartness.

And they're really pretty.

LevoonsIn addition to the flour and the yogurt coupons, Stonyfield sent me a Silpat silicone baking mat (as you can see above, I'm all about baking in and on silicone) and a set of Levoons. The Levoons are very cool, in that they're self-leveling measuring spoons. Each spoon has a tiny scraper attached to it that levels off the spoon so that you don't need to grab a butter knife or even use two hands.

This recipe makes a dozen fairly large muffins with a cakelike texture. The muffin cups are filled nearly to the top with batter and they rise even higher than that. The batter looked a little thick so I added a little orange juice to thin it out. I couldn't really taste the juice, but orange and cranberry is a great combo and next time I may throw in some orange zest as well.

I used Stonyfield plain nonfat Greek yogurt for a boost of protein; you can always substitute regular yogurt or even whole milk varieties of either yogurt for some added richness. Each muffin is 145 calories, half a gram of fat and 5 grams of protein.

Broken muffin
Pomegranate-Yogurt Muffins

  • Ingredients2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and soda and salt. 

In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, egg, vanilla, orange juice and applesauce.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix just until it's combined -- don't overmix the batter or you'll end up with hockey pucks. Gently fold in the pomegranate arils.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tin; cups will be very full.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.


Let's make muffins for science!

I don't really mention it much on my blog but my kid is in high school marching band and this is his senior year, which makes me #bandmom on steroids. 

marching band gauntlets drum major
My son, the drum major


This time of year is especially frenzied, what with football games, fundraisers, competitions and lighting a fire under the kid's butt to get the college applications going. 

I've also been stepping up my freelancing work and fighting a cold.

Which is to say, I haven't been blogging much.

I've been feuding with my beautiful new Withings Body Cardio scale because the poundage isn't budging no matter what I do, and that's been making me kinda frantic. But the one nice thing about the Body Cardio is that I can see even though the pounds aren't budging, my body fat is going down while my lean mass is going up. Still ...

So I made chocolate chip muffins.

Self-sabotaging, you say? Actually, these muffins are a nutritional experiment.

I had picked up a supermarket ladymag last month that featured a breathless cover line touting a muffin that "works like a tummy tuck!" 

Seriously, no. Muffins don't work like a tummy tuck.

But the story behind the muffin is pretty intriguing. 

 A University of Maryland School of Medicine study looked at a way to substitute animal-based saturated fats for plant-based unsaturated fats in muffins made for patients with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the name for a cluster of symptoms that include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess abdominal obesity, and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

The researchers made two batches of muffins -- one with monounsaturated fats (sunflower oil), the other with polyunsaturated (safflower oil) and had the study participants eat these muffins every day for 6 months, while also reducing their daily calories to make up for the calories in the muffins. 

The upshot: The PUFA muffin eaters lost more weight, had lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels, and increased dilation of blood vessels. Hooray! But one other effect piqued my interest even more. I'll quote it and then translate into normal speak.

A potential reason for the greater weight loss in PUFA than in MUFA subjects is suggested by greater increases in the anorexigenic hormone peptide YY after PUFA intake compared to MUFA or SFA.

Translation: the PUFA muffins triggered satiety compared with the other fats.

Want to try and decipher the entire study? Find it HERE.

Peptide YY, or PYY, is a gut hormone that may help regulate satiety. My guess is that my PYY hormone receptiveness is broken somehow from perhaps decades of dieting. Long story short -- I'm always hungry, but when I ate one of these tiny muffins at the end of a meal I felt a tangible switching on of my satiety, so much so that I was able to go 4 hours between meals yesterday.

So now I'm deep into research into what else can increase satiety. So far I've found that foods high in beta glucan also raise PYY. It's found in certain mushrooms, dates, oats and barley. 

Want the recipe? Here it is. It calls for brown sugar and regular sugar, but I substituted coconut sugar for both of them because that's all I've got in the house right now. I also used a 1-for-1 gluten-free flour instead of wheat flour. I figure it wasn't the sugar and flour but the oil in the recipe, so I wasn't worried about the substitutions.

University of Maryland Safflower Oil Muffins

  • 1 cup safflower oil Minimuffins
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup Egg Beaters
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

Lightly coat two mini muffins pans with cooking spray or use mini muffin liners. (I used a silicone mini muffin pan and didn't use cooking spray or liners. The muffin batter has a lot of oil so nothing stuck.)

Mix all ingredients together.  Fill each muffin cup with 1 tablespoon batter.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until baked through.

Let cool. Makes approximately 48 mini muffins.

I only got 46 muffins out of the batter. What I did was after the muffins cooled, I put three muffins into individual sandwich bags and put those bags into two gallon-sized plastic bags, and everything went into the freezer. You end up with about two weeks' worth of muffins.

 


A pumpkin pie oatmeal bake that's worth the wait

Pumpkin oatmeal bake beauty shot labeled

As a member of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club, I received products and coupons from Stonyfield and Bob's Red Mill to write this post. All opinions are 100 percent my own.

It's officially fall (even though it's 90 degrees down here), which means it's time to PUMPKIN EVERYTHING!

And despite the swelter, I'm pretending the leaves are changing and there's a nip in the air. I cannot wait for the weather to start cooling down because my physical therapy is working fabulously and my achilles is pretty much back to normal. I really want to get out of the gym a little and restart my neighborhood walks this fall and winter.

It's the perfect time to bake up a breakfast with all the flavors of autumn. I was given the challenge of coming up with a recipe that includes Bob's Red Mill coconut sugar and steel-cut oats, along with Stonyfield Organics yogurt, and since I already knew how yummy coconut sugar was, I made a baked oatmeal dish that you can cook once and enjoy all week.

Baking with steel-cut oats is different than with rolled oats. Steel-cut oats are more hearty and can use a little soaking before baking to ensure you don't end up with a brick in the oven.

I let my mixture sit in the fridge for around an hour but this would be a great dish to prepare the night before then pop in the oven the next morning. 

It's not your typical bowl of oatmeal -- it's more of a cakey, muffiny consistency, so I added a big dollop of coconut sugar-sweetened Greek yogurt for added moisture and protein.

This recipe makes 6 big, hearty servings, so you could get up to 8 servings out of this, depending on your appetite. 

 

Step by stepPumpkin Pie Oatmeal Bake

  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill coconut sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup Stonyfield plain whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1 teaspoon each cinnamon and ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and a dash of cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups Bob's Red Mill uncooked steel-cut oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts but pecans would be great)
  • Extra yogurt and coconut sugar for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together everything but the oats and nuts in a large bowl. When everything is well combined, add in the oats and refrigerate for at least an hour to let the oats soften. 

When you're ready to bake, pour mixture into a medium baking dish coated with nonstick spray. (I used a 9 by 13 inch pan.) Sprinkle nuts on top.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the center no longer looks wet. (Don't overbake this or you'll end up with a brick.)

Cut into 6 servings and serve warm from the oven with a big dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkling of coconut sugar.

Leftovers freeze well and are great with a splash of almond milk to bring a little more moisture back.

Makes 6 big servings.

 


Stuff I Love: Fancy livin' for less at ALDI

This is a sponsored post for ALDI.

Spongebob fancy living
When I think 'fancy living' my mind always goes to SpongeBob Squarepants.


At long last an ALDI has opened in Plantation. That hasn't stopped me from driving all over the county to shop at one -- I'd either go up north to Tamarac or down south to Cooper City or Pembroke Pines to take advantage of the deals.

For years I had heard about the stores and even met with representatives at FitBloggin' and BlogHer Food conferences, so the urge to drive a half hour to grocery shop was strong, since I knew that the company prides itself on a great selection of items. 

But now, finally, there's an ALDI on 12190 W. Sunrise Blvd. -- just east of the Sawgrass Mills shopping area. It seems to be a really good-sized store (the former site of a CompUSA), and there's plenty of parking. FYI; The bigger the ALDI, the wider the food selection.

Yes, ALDI is a no-frills bargain outlet, but what it lacks in fancy store displays it more than makes up for with surprisingly diverse and better-for-you products. You can check out the Healthy Living section on the ALDI website that highlights its fresh produce and meats, ever-expanding SimplyNature natural and/or organics line, LiveGfree gluten-free products, and sustainable seafood.

The store is great for inspiring dinner ideas -- grab a jar of their Priano pesto and spread a teaspoon of it on a chicken breast before baking it. Super simple and really tasty. And, oh my gosh, get the rosso pesto, too. It's pesto with sun-dried tomatoes and it's mind-blowing.

I like the fact that, aside from my favorite products, I'll also be surprised with items, like the bottle of Tajin seasoning ($2.39) I picked up because I spied a lime on the label. Tajin is one of those name-brand items that you'll find from time to time. The teenager loves that I found Cheez-It Grooves ($2.49) there this week, and I also found PB Crave cookie dough-flavored peanut butter ($4.99).

Aldi haul
Here's part of my Labor Day haul.


There are loads of products in each section but I wanted to highlight a few that I really love and buy again and again.

LiveGfree cornbread mix: I always have at least two boxes of this in my pantry. A fresh batch of cornbread is great to serve with my chicken chili, and I like to mix things up by adding a half cup of corn kernels to the cornbread batter. I also sometimes sub out the oil and use plain Greek yogurt to make a slightly lighter loaf. And the fact that the cornbread is gluten free is a big plus. I don't have celiac or anything serious but my doc said I was probably gluten sensitive and I feel a lot better when I keep it to a minimum. ($2.99)

Southern Grove Oven-Roasted Almonds: I hit up the ALDI first thing Labor Day morning, and since it wasn't super busy, an employee and I were perusing the almond section, wondering what the difference was between the roasted almonds and the oven-roasted almonds. Turns out the roasted ones contain peanut oil, which I avoid because my son has a peanut allergy. The oven-roasted almonds are simply almonds and salt, and those are the ones that I got, along with SimplyNature organic almonds, which are unsalted. ($5.79/Southern Grove; $6.49 SimplyNature)

Deutsche Kuche German Style Sauerkraut: I am seriously in love with this sauerkraut. ALDI is a German company, so it makes sense that they'd have some stellar kraut. Of course it's great on hot dogs and brats but I just attack the jar with a fork to get my fix of probiotics. (Yes, lowly sauerkraut is a superfood.) ($1.69)

SimplyNature freeze-dried fruit: This is a fairly new addition, and I am love the freeze-dried peaches, apples and strawberries. You can eat the entire bag for 100 to 130 calories, depending on the fruit. The apples still have their skins intact and it's a nice combination of green and red crunchy apple slices. It's a perfect lunchbox addition. ($2.99)

SimplyNature Organic Macaroni and Cheese: If you're going to make boxed mac and cheese, why not make it organic? My teenage boy loves this stuff and usually downs half the box in a sitting. I'll make a box, add a can of tuna and a cup of peas and -- voila! -- it's instant tuna noodle casserole. a super easy dinner. Another way to add extra protein is to sub out the milk and butter and use an equal amount of plain Greek yogurt. It adds extra tang to the cheese. It also comes in the slightly more elegant Shells & White Cheddar. ($1.29)

Aldi fancy stuff
Certain items have limited availability, so if you like them, snap them up while you can. I found some great German-style rye bread ($1.99, 2-year-aged English Cheddar ($3.49) and English cucumbers ($1.19) , which, come to think of it, would make a lovely fancy tea sandwich. They also had those teeny, thin haricot vert ($2.19) -- green beans to you non French speakers.

... oh, who am I kidding? I got a D in college French and all I retained is haricot vert.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Barissimo Fair Trade Certified dark roast coffee, which sells for the tiny price of $3.99 for a 12-ounce bag. That's about half what you'd pay for Fair Trade coffee, and it's great.

Oh! Those Asiago Cheese Crisps ($2.99) in the photo? They're FABULOUS, and if you're a fan of Panera Bread's Romaine and Kale Caesar Salad, these are just like those cheese "croutons" that top the salad.

Speaking of salad, ALDI ran a cheeky little ad, inviting a bunch of foodies to a dinner where they were served a lovely multi-course dinner and they had to guess which items came from ALDI (spoiler alert: they all did). Anyway, the kale salad prepared by Bon Appétit executive chef Mary Nolan looked especially delish, so here's the recipe, which would make a great entree salad:

Kale Salad with Lemon Yogurt Dressing, Marcona Almonds, Avocado and Dried Cranberries

  • ½ cup Friendly Farms Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons Carlini Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons SimplyNature Organic Wildflower Honey
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Iodized Table Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground Stonemill Essentials Peppercorn Grinder
  • 16 cups SimplyNature Organic Kale
  • ½ cup Southern Grove Dried Cranberries
  • 2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces, divided
  • ½ cup roughly chopped Marcona almonds, divided

In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, lemon zest, salt and pepper until smooth.

Toss dressing with kale and thoroughly mix, massaging into leaves. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Toss in dried cranberries, half of the avocado and ¼ cup almonds. Mound into a large serving bowl and top with remaining avocado and ¼ cup almonds.

Recipe courtesy of executive chef Mary Nolan, Bon Appétit

* * * 

I really hope I've given you a different look at ALDI because the store has really been upping the healthfulness of its products, moving toward 100 percent cage-free eggs, taking junk food out of checkout lanes, expanding its gluten-free and organics and removing synthetic colors, MSG and other artificial ingredients from its own lines. 

You can find out more at Facebook.com/ALDIUSA, Instagram.com/ALDIUSA, and Twitter.com/ALDIUSA.


Chocolate-Hazelnut Yogurt Dip

Chocolate hazelnut yogurt dip labeled

As a member of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club, I received products and coupons from Stonyfield and Justin’s to write this post. All opinions are 100 percent my own.

I have vowed to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to my diet because sometimes it's just too easy to grab a protein bar or a bag of pretzels when snack time rolls around.

"Protein and produce" is my mantra.

So while hummus and carrots or turkey celery rollups are perfectly acceptable snacks, there are times when you want something a little more indulgent feeling. This fits the bill. 

I hurried and made this Chocolate-Hazelnut Yogurt Dip as soon as I received the jar of Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter because I knew it wasn't long for this world. Have you tried this stuff? It's much tastier and better for you than that other hazelnut spread.

I mixed a tablespoon of the nut butter with some Stonyfield plain whole milk Greek yogurt, a little honey and a sprinkling of cacao nibs for added texture. Feel free to sub out your favorite nut butter. The dip is great with apple slices but would also pair nicely with bananas, strawberries or just a spoon. The entire dip recipe has 13 grams of protein for a little over 200 calories so it would make a light breakfast paired with a piece of fruit. 

Chocolate-Hazelnut Yogurt Dip

  • 4 ounces Stonyfield plain whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon cacao nibs

Whisk ingredients together until smooth and sprinkle with cacao nibs.