Mar 292016
 

After a friend’s bachelorette party in Austin (read: bbq and booze) and a few too many chocolate Easter Eggs (OK, it was a lot of eggs), my body was desperate for something green. And it doesn’t get much greener than these Cucumber Sesame Noodles with Scallions, Asparagus, and Edamame.
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This dish makes the perfect side dish or vegetarian main. I personally think it’s easier than traditional sesame noodles since there’s no cooking/noodle boiling involved. The sauce is creamy, spicy, garlicy, slightly sweet, and seriously addictive. You can add any vegetables and/or protein you want to this dish, but I kept it light, simple, and springy with raw asparagus, scallions, and edamame.
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Nutritional Highlights: By replacing noodles with spiralized cucumber, this dish has far less calories than the the traditional version. Plus, it’s gluten free (if you replace the soy with tamari) and vegan! The creamy nut butter sauce (tahini, peanut butter, or almond butter all work) has protein and healthy fat to keep you full, plus the additional edamame adds extra protein. And although cucumber is super low cal due to the fact that it’s mostly water, it’s not necessarily the most nutrient packed vegetable, so I added asparagus which is packed with vitamin K, folate, copper and tons of other vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that contribute to it’s antioxidant properties. If asparagus isn’t your thing, try some chopped broccoli, shredded carrots, snap peas, green beans, shaved brussel sprouts, diced avocado…really all vegetables are welcome here. Looking to bump up the protein? Serve with a piece of grilled salmon, tofu, a few grilled shrimp, or anything you like!
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Cucumber Sesame Noodles with Asparagus, Edamame, & Scallions
Serves 3-4 as a side, 2 as a meal
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What’s in it:
The sauce:
1 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons tahini, creamy peanut or almond butter
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger (I use a microplane)
1 teaspoons finely minced or grated garlic (I use a microplane)
1 tablespoon sriracha (less if you’re not into spicy)

For the “noodles”
2 large English cucumbers, spiralized into thin noodles
4 scallions, diced (set a few aside for garnish)
1 1/2 cup one inch asparagus pieces*
1/2 cup edamame
1 tablespoon white and/or black sesame seeds

*If your asparagus is thin, simply cut into 1 inch pieces. If it’s thick, cut them lengthwise and then into 1 inch pieces since I used them raw. If you don’t like raw asparagus, substitute green beans, snap peas, grated carrots, small broccoli florets, or any other veggies.

How to make it:
1. In a bowl, whisk the sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, tahini/peanut or almond butter, honey, ginger, garlic and sriracha. Set aside.
2. Prepare all your veggies by spiralizing your cucumbers and chopping the other veggies.
3. In a large bowl, toss the “noodles” and vegetables with the sesame sauce.
4. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions and enjoy!
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This will put your greasy take-out noodles to shame!
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Jan 312016
 

People everywhere are predicting the big food trends that are coming in 2016. Things like poke, matcha, and acai bowls (or anything in a bowl for that matter) are definitely coming atcha this year. Another trend I’m particularly excited about? Breakfast salads.
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I have to say it’s pretty brilliant. Why should salads be restricted to lunch and dinner? Why not start getting those greens in first thing? Nobody puts baby in the corner. Breakfast salads are here and there’s no end to the possibilities. Whether it’s a savory version with a fried egg on top or a sweet version like this one–with grapefruit, ricotta, almonds, chia seeds, and honey–breakfast salads are the perfect quick healthy way to start your day.
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Nutrition Highlights: They say it’s the most important meal of the day, but breakfast can very quickly veer off the nutrition. The truth is most quick and easy options–like bagels, pastries, cheesy-bacony sandwiches and even many granola bars, yogurts and oatmeals–can be packed with added sugar and fat, and lacking in any real fiber or protein to get you going. A breakfast salad is the perfect way to make sure you’re getting a little bit of everything you need–fiber and vitamins/minerals from the greens and fruit, protein, fiber, and healthy fat from the nuts and seeds, and protein and calcium from the ricotta (or greek yogurt). The honey here is definitely optional and I would might omit it if I was using a sweeter fruit (like a pear), but with the tart grapefruit a tiny drizzle was perfect.
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Perfect Breakfast Salad Equation!
(a non-recipe recipe)
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What’s in it:
GREENZ- 2 cups (like arugula, kale, mixed greens)
FRUIT – 1/2 cup (like grapefruit, berries, mango, melon, apples, grapes, pears, pomegranate seeds)
NUTS- 1-2 tablespoons chopped, bonus flavor points for toasted (like almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts, pecans)
SEEDY THINGS- 1 tablespoon (like chia, flax, amaranth, sprouted buckwheat, sprouted millet, quinoa, hemp seed)
DAIRY – 1/4 cup (like ricotta, greek yogurt, or cottage cheese)
DRIZZLE – Tiny drizzle of olive oil and/or honey and a sprinkle of salt
Other fun options – 1/4 avocado, 1/4 cup whole grains (like cooked quinoa or farro), 1/4 cup cooked beets, anything else you can think of!

How to make it: Literally mix those things together and eat –> Breakfast of champions. Go.
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Jan 102016
 

Resolution season is upon us–the gym is more crowded and the produce section is more picked over. While I’m not usually a New Years resolution fan (why are we waiting for January 1st, people?), I can get on board with cleaning up our diets a little, especially after the eating spree that tends to occur between Thanksgiving and Christmas (guilty). If you’re going to make one resolution this year, make it to eat more food that looks like this: mostly plant-based and exploding with color (and not the kind you find in sour patch kids, sorry).
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The best part about this recipe is that it only takes about an hour to make and leaves you with 15 falafel, enough for 5 meals, so you lunches (or dinners) for the whole week are set. They may be cute and little but they have a HUGE amount of flavor and nutrition.
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Nutrition Highlights: This recipe is vegan and gluten free but still packed with protein and fiber and is seriously filling. Here are a few of the key players:
-Chickpeas: high in fiber and protein so they keep you full and keep things moving along (if you know what I mean).
– Butternut Squash: get it’s bright orange color from carotenoids which turns into vitamin A in the body and helps support vision, immunity, and controlling inflammation. It’s also very high in fiber which helps keep blood sugar in check.
– Oats: Instead of flour, this recipe uses whole grain rolled oats to bind everything together, which are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber and may help with heart health and blood sugar control.
– Turmeric: SO hot right now. I’m not ready to jump on the crazy turmeric supplement train, but it does appear to have some pretty powerful anti-inflammatory effects (and thus may help with arthritis, IBD, cancer, and other inflammatory conditions), so I’m not against sprinkling a little bit more in our food.
– Hemp seeds: OK, it’s another trendy one, but for a reason! It’s super high in protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and several minerals. Plus they’re nutty and tasty and crunchy…all good things.
And although I could go on for days about the benefits of each nutrient in these foods, the best part is they’re all real foods with nothing processed. Go plants!
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Butternut Squash, Turmeric & Hemp Seed Falafel
makes about 15 falafel (5, 3 ball servings)
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What’s in it:
– 1 can chickpeas, rinsed, drained and dried well (*you can also soak 1 cup of dried chickpeas in water overnight)
– 2 cups cubed butternut squash
– 1/2 onion
– 3 cloves garlic
– 1/2 cup fresh herbs, looseley packed and roughly chopped (I used half cilantro and half parsley)
– 3/4 cups rolled oats, divided
– 3 tablespoons hemp seed, plus extra for sprinkling
– 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
– 1/2 teaspoon cumin
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or cayenne (adjusted to you preference)

How to make it:
1. Preheat the oven to 400.
2. Put the butternut squash in a microwave safe bowl and cover (allowing a slight opening of steam to escape) with a microwave safe lid or plastic wrap. Microwave for 5 minutes to soften the squash. **Alternately you could use leftover roasted/mashed squash or frozen pureed butternut squash.
3. While the squash is cooking, put half the rolled oats into the food processor or blender and blend into flour. Pour back in with the rest of the non blended oats and set aside for now.
4. Put the onion and garlic into the blender and pulse until finely chopped. Add the chickpeas, butternut squash, and spices (turmeric, cumin, salt, red pepper) and blend until well combined. Add the herbs and pulse so they get chopped up but not totally blended so the falafel stays yellow rather than green (for aesthetic purposes only).
5. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and mix in the oats and hemp seeds. If the mixture is warm (from the squash), put in the freezer for a bit so it gets cold and is easier to form into balls.
6. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray. Form the falafel mixture into golf ball sized balls (about 15). Spray the tops with olive oil, sprinkle with a few hemp seeds, flip and repeat with the other side.
7. Bake for 10 minutes, flip the falafel and bake for another 10 minutes or until they falafel are slightly browned.
8. Enjoy falafel in a big salad bowl with lots of veggies like this one (mine has beets, carrots, broccoli, cilantro, pita chips and a drizzle of tahini) or in whole wheat pita or just straight up. Really you can’t go wrong.
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I think this is what they meant by taste the rainbow, right?
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Sep 222015
 

I have some bad news, people. Prepare yourselves. Tomorrow is the first day of fall, which means right now, at 10:14 pm eastern standard time, there is only 1 hours and 46 minutes left of summer. So I’m going to spend those precious moments remembering one of the best parts of my summer–an amazing cooking class in Thailand on my honeymoon. Not only did I learn how to make this delicious green papaya salad (som tum), but I got to see my culinarily challenged husband cook for the first (and likely last) time ever. You think I’m exaggerating. I am not.
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Papaya is one of the fruits I don’t eat very often (except when I’m on my honeymoon in Thailand, of course) but I was excited to see it available in this little local asian market I like to call Trader Joe’s. Although it’s also delicious fully ripe, I for this recipe you want an underripe fruit to use in this savory dish. If you’ve never had papaya salad you should try it stat–it has that beautiful mix of salty, spicy, and a tad sweet, that makes Thai food so freaking good. Be warned, if you aren’t into spicy food, you may want to cut back on the garlic and red chiles. Or just man up.
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Nutrition Highlights: Papaya is packed with vitamin C, folate, fiber, carotenoids (vitamin A) and tons of other nutritional goodies. One cup of shredded green papaya only has 55 calories and 7 grams of sugar, but is very filling from all the fiber. The salad also has green beans, tomatoes, and peanuts, which make this a hearty meal or side.
And before I give you the recipe, here is photographic evidence proving both that Jeff has cooked exactly 1 time in his life, and that I still look ridiculous in a chef’s hat.
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Spicy Thai Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum)
Makes about 4 servings as a side
adapated from Baan Hongnual Cookery School in Chiang Mai (go there!!!)
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What’s in it:
1 large green papaya, peeled and shredded*
2 cloves garlic
3 small fresh or dried red chilies (less if you are spice-averse)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup green beans cut into 1 inch long pieces
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp sugar (technically palm sugar should be used but I didn’t have that)
2 Tbsp roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
(Optional:)
1 Tbsp dried shrimp (authenic versions use it but I omitted it since I didn’t want to buy it and I think you get that hint of fish flavor from the fish sauce).
Thai basil or cilantro for garnish

How to make it:
1. Using a mortar and pestle pound the garlic and chilies until well crushed. Alternately, finely mince.
2. Add fish sauce, lime juice and sugar and mix well.
3. Add green beans, green papaya, roasted peanuts, tomatoes (and dried shrimp if using) and toss well in the sauce. Enjoy!

*Papaya is ripe when the skin starts to turn from green to yellow. For this recipe, we WANT the unripe fruit, so choose a green firm fruit. You can shred it using a grater, spiralizer, or can slice into thin matchsticks instead.
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Jul 012015
 

After spending two weeks in Thailand for my honeymoon, I wasn’t so sure I was ready to come back to America. The beaches were beautiful, the were people friendly, you could have an AMAZING massage for approximately $4, and you can eat pad thai daily with no shame (ps, recipes coming soon!). But, alas, here I am back in the US and I’ve gotta say it’s not so bad here either. Between the supreme court decision last week, the perfect NYC weather, and the 4th of July coming up this weekend, I’m feeling pretty patriotic. Here are two amazing recipe ideas to spice up (literally and figuratively) your summer BBQs!
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Making delicious food in the summer is easy because the produce is so freaking good. Too many people miss this amazing opportunity at have a 4th of July cookout with some sad hot dogs, stale doritos, and maybe a lone slice of watermelon if you’re lucky. Add color and flavor to your bbq using lots of fresh fruits and veggies, in these dishes that look way more advanced than they are.
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This salad is a mix of chopped kale, cooked quinoa, cubed mango and avocado, toasted sunflower seeds, and cilantro. The amazing charred jalapeno vinaigrette adds the perfect punch to bring it all together.
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These kebabs may look like your standard chicken skewers, but looks can be deceiving. These are actually swordfish skewers, which are perfect for grilling due to its sturdy texture. The marinade is a spicy mix of ginger, garlic, soy, and dijon and they can be skewered along with any of your favorite veggies.
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Nutrition highlights: Both of these recipes are incredibly healthy. The kebabs use swordfish which is low in calories (150 per 3 oz serving), and high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids which is great for controlling inflammation in your body. A simple marinade and lots of veggies makes this a very healthy bbq option. The salad is great too, and on it’s own is completely gluten free and vegan. It’s high in protein from the quinoa and healthy fats from the avocado and sunflower seeds, and tons of vitamins (like C and A). It can stand alone as a meal or be the perfect side for your summer BBQ.
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Mango-Avocado Quinoa Salad with Charred Jalapeno Vinaigrette
Makes 3 servings as a main, 5-6 as a side
adapted from plated.com
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What’s in it:

For the salad-
3/4 cup quinoa
1 mango, cut into 1/2 in cubes
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 large avocado, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (note, don’t cut avocado until right before use)
1 bunch kale (can sub other greens if you prefer), big stems discarded and thinly sliced
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

For the dressing-
1 jalapeno
1 shallot, minced
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt/pepper to taste

How to make it:
1. Cook your quinoa. Combine 3/4 cup quinoa with 1 1/4 cups water, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for 10-12 minutes or until water is evaporated. Remove from heat and allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.
2. Heat a heavy skillet (I used a cast iron skillet) over high heat. Half the jalapeno and carefully remove the seeds (don’t touch your eyes or you will pay). When pan is just starting to smoke, place the jalapeno cut side down and cook for 3-4 minutes, flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes, pressing down slightly so you get a nice char on the outside. If you are using raw sunflower seeds, you can toast them in this same pan for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned. If you’re using already roasted/toasted sunflower seeds you can skip this step.
3. Make the dressing by finely mincing the jalapeno and then adding the vinegar, lime juice, minced shallot, and honey. Whisk to combine. Slowly add olive oil while whisking the dressing. Taste the dressing and add salt and pepper. Set dressing aside.
4. Make the salad by combining the all of the cooled quinoa, thinly chopped kale, and 3/4 of the cilantro, avocado, mango, and sunflower seeds. Toss this with the dressing and add salt and pepper to taste. Top the salad with the remaining cilantro, avocado, mango, and sunflower seeds for presentation. Enjoy!

Notes:
-You can make the vinaigrette and prepare the salad ingredients (except the avocado/mango) up to 2 days in advance. Just toss all of the ingredients before serving!
– If you’re making it for a main, feel free to add other ingredients like red bell peppers, black beans, or tomatoes. Be creative!
– Depending on how much heat you like, you can use more or less jalapeno in the dressing.
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Spicy Swordfish Skewers
Makes about 4 servings (6 smalls skewers or 4 large)
adapted from Ina Garten
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What’s in it:

3 Tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 Tablespoon peanut or canola oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
1 Tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 1/4- 1 1/2 lb swordfish steak, cut into 1 inch cubes
Salt, Pepper to taste
Vegetables for skewering: choose your favorites like zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers, red onion, and mushrooms
6 bamboo skewers, soaked for 30 minutes in water

1. Make the marinade by combining the first 8 ingredients. Add the cubed swordfish and marinate in a plastic bag or sealed container for at least 1 hour (preferably 4-8).
2. Prepare the vegetables by cutting them into pieces as close as possible to size as the swordfish cubes.
3. Preheat your grill or grill pan to medium-high.
4. Make the skewers by alternating veggies and swordfish cubes. Brush the kebabs with some of the remaining marinade and season with salt and pepper as desired.
5. Grill the kebabs for about 2-3 minutes per side, until swordfish is just cooked through and veggies and fish are browned. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Dec 222014
 

Anyone else feeling a little bit (figuratively and literally) sick of all the Christmas cookies and sweets? I have a very sweet these days, and even I am feeling a little bit overloaded by all of it. Here’s a recipe that proves that fruits and veggies can be just as festive as all those peppermint covered sugary chocolatey treats…well almost. Try this Winter Kale Salad which is as healthy as it is tasty and beautiful. To get on Santa’s nice list, serve it in a chip and dip platter so it looks like a wreath!
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There are so many different things you can put in this salad that would be amazing, but I decided on mostly red (roasted beets, pomegranate seeds) and green (chopped kale, granny smith apple, pistachios) with a little orange pop from some persimmons. The persimmons may have thrown off my red/green color scheme a tad, but I was intrigued by them so I bought a few. They are incredibly sweet and have a nice soft texture, kind of like a peach. If you can’t find persimmons, you can leave these out or just go with another winter fruit, like navel orange segments. A good dressing is key too, and this one is the perfect tart but slightly sweet mix, with lemon juice, mustard, vinegar, maple syrup, and olive oil.
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Nutritional highlights: We all know that holiday dining isn’t always a shining moment for healthful choices. This salad is a perfect addition to your holiday spread to solve that problem. Fill a big portion of your plate with this salad, and take it easy on the indulgences. There’s also some serious powerhouses in this salad. The kale, apple, and pomegranate seeds (and really all of the ingredients) have a ton of fiber that will keep you full…maybe even full enough to pass on dessert (but let’s be honest, probably not). The pistachios add healthy mono and poly unsaturated fats as well as B-6 vitamins and iron. Beets and persimmons are packed with antioxidants to help control inflammation in your body and ward of diseases. I served the salad with a little shredded pecorino on the side, but you can also mix it right in, as it adds a great saltiness that the salad needs. To keep the salad vegan you can leave it out.
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Winter Kale Salad with Persimmons, Beets, Apples, Pomegranate, and Pistachio
Makes 5-6 servings as a side (3 as a main)
*vegan* gluten free*
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What’s in it:

For the salad:
5 cups finely chopped kale
1 granny smith apple
4 red baby beets, cut into 1 inch pieces and roasted
3 fuyu persimmons, cut into wedges
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds (from about ½ large pomegranate)
1/3 cup shelled roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
Optional: 1/3 cup shredded pecorino cheese (omit for vegan version)

For the dressing:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice from one juicy lemon)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or another light vinegar like champagne vinegar, white wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
½ teaspoon salt
¼ freshly ground teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
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How to make it:

1.If you are roasting your own beets, preheat your oven to 425. Scrub and dry the outside of the beets but no need to peel. Cut off a tiny bit on the top and bottom end, and cut the beets into 1 inch chunks. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast for about 40 minutes, until the beets are tender. Alternately, you can buy already steamed or roasted beets and skip this step.
2.Prepare the remaining ingredients. Seed you pomegranate, chop the nuts, dice the apple and cut the persimmon (no need to peel skin). Chop the kale so it is small chunks, almost like a slaw. This will help the leaves get very tender as they sit in the dressing.
3.Prepare the dressing by mixing the first 5 ingredients together and then whisking in the oil gradually. Taste the vinaigrette to see if it needs more of anything (too acidic? Add more oil or maple syrup. Too bland? Up the salt and pepper).
4. Toss together the kale, apple, persimmon, beets, and all but 2 tablespoons of the pomegranate, pistachios, and pecorino. Toss with the dressing, adding gradually and tasting until it is your desire of dressed-ness.
5. To serve as a wreath, pour the salad into a chip and dip tray and sprinkle with the remaining cheese, pom seeds, and pistachios. Enjoy this festive, flavorful, and nutritious salad!
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Leave the leftovers (if you have any) out of Santa this year instead of cookies and maybe he’ll be looking a little fitter in his suit next year!
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Aug 172014
 

Something terrible happened today. I was walking down the streets of New York City, minding my own business, and something fell from the sky. It was a leaf. But not just any leaf–a brown leaf. I looked up, and spotted a whole tree full of leaves trading their vibrant greens for dull browns. Um, excuse me fall, it is August 17th, you are not welcome yet. In protest, I did the only thing I knew how to do–bought a watermelon, the epitome of summer in my mind. And then I cut it into adorable little cubes and stuffed it with burrata, because why not.
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Other than highlighting this amazing watermelon, the other big plus to this recipe is that it is incredibly easy. Cube the watermelon, dig out a little burrata crevice, fill said crevice with burrata, and top with a tiny bit of lemon zest and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. You can serve it just like that as a classy appetizer, or top mixed greens with the cubes and serve it as a salad.
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Nutritional Highlights: You know that signature bright pink/red “watermelon color”? Well it’s not just pretty, it also is a sign of it’s high lycopene content–an antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation and prevent a number of chronic disease in the body. It is also high in vitamin C and low in calories due to it’s high water content (about 46 calories per cup). Another unusual fact about watermelon is that it has a good amount of citrulline, an amino acid that is converted into arginine in the body (another amino acid). Through a lot of boring sciencey steps, our body produces something called nitric oxide synthase (NOS) which may cause blood vessels to expand, reducing blood pressure. To up the protein/calcium and enjoyment factors of this dish, I added just a tiny bit of burrata to each watermelon cube–you won’t regret it.

And here’s a photo of the whole meal–spicy sriracha-lime grilled shrimp, panko crusted zucchini-corn saute, and of course the watermelon-burrata salad. Not a bad dinner, if I do say so myself.
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Watermelon-Burrata Cubes with Lemon Zest
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What’s in it:

  • 1/2 watermelon, cut into 1-1.5 inch cubes
  • 8 oz burrata (or another soft cheese like goat cheese)
  • zest from one lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • balsamic glaze/reduction

How to make it:
1. Prepare your watermelon by cutting into 1 to 1.5 inch cubes. Using a small spoon or knife, scoop out a small hole in the center of the cube to make it a cup. Be careful not to scoop all the way through to the bottom.
2. Fill each watermelon cube with a small scoop of the soft center of the burrata or goat cheese.
3. Top each cube with a piece or two of lemon zest and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. If serving as an appetizer on their own, arrange the cubes on a platter and drizzle with balsamic reduction or glaze. If serving as a salad, arrange cubes on a bed of greens and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic reduction.
5. Enjoy this refreshing summer appetizer/salad while you still can!!
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