Feb 292012

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’d find seasonal delicious produce.  There are tons of hearty root vegetables, healthy greens like kale, and my favorite of all-citrus.  I have a theory that grapefruit keeps me healthy in the winter.  I love um so much that I just peel them and eat them like oranges.  I had to come up with a creative way to use my favorite winter fruit, so I made this amazing salad with some spicy shrimp, avocado, and a sesame ginger dressing.

The flavors in this salad worked so well together–acidity and sweetness from the grapefruit, creaminess from the avocado, a little heat from the cayenne sprinkled shrimp, and crunch and nuttiness from the toasted sesame seeds.  It was incredibly quick to throw together and is the perfect light but satisfying lunch or dinner.

Nutritional Highlights:  Grapefruit (as I’m sure you all know) is a vitamin C powerhouse.  In addition to that, it’s deep pink color comes from the antioxidant lycopene, which is also found in tomatoes.  Avocados are also packed with vitamins (like K, C, B5), fiber, and healthy unsaturated fats.  Shrimp is a great protein source for this salad because it’s incredibly low in fat and calories (since we’re already getting some from the avocado).  It also is a great source of selenium which some studied have correlated with cancer preventative qualities.  Plus, with spring right around the corner, this salad can help you get out back in warm weather shape!

Spicy Shrimp, Grapefruit, and Avocado Salad with Citrus Ginger Dressing

For the Salad (serves 2):

  • 4 cups fresh spinach or other greens
  • 12 large wild shrimp (frozen), salt and cayenne pepper for seasoning
  • segments from 1 grapefruit (squeeze the excess juice from the rind and reserve for the dressing)
  • 1 small avocdao, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • fresh cilantro to garnish
For the dressing (you can also use a store bought dressing)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger
  • 3 tablespoons grapefruit juice
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Prepare you ingredients: segment the grapefruit, slice the avocado, thaw the shrimp by running under cold water, and toast the sesame seeds.  Combine all ingredients for the dressing and set aside.  Sprinkle thawed shrimp with salt and cayenne pepper on both sides (or regular pepper if you can’t stand the heat). Heat small skillet over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook shrimp for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until opaque and just cooked through.  

Toss the spinach leaves with some of the dressing and put in the center of your plate.  Surround the spinach with alternating grapefruit segment, avocado, and shrimp.  Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds over the top and garnish with fresh cilantro and an extra drizzle of dressing. Enjoy!
Sep 282011

I really really love lentils.  I’m not really sure why–they’re pretty boring when you think about it.  But something about the texture and the fillingness and the fact that they’re awesome for you has got me to thinking what you can do with them aside from the usual lentil soup.  So when I stumbled across this lentil salad recipe, I knew I had to try it.  

Amazing discover of the week–trader joe’s sells pre cooked plain lentils.  That made this recipe SO easy (not that cooking lentils are all that hard, but still, saves a step).  I combined the lentils with grapes, toasted walnuts, fresh thyme, celery, feta, and an olive oil/red wine vinegar/honey/lemon dressing.  So simple but so tasty!  I plan on bringing it for lunch all week.  And shout out to my jewish half–would be a perfect vegetarian side dish for Rosh Hashanah.

Nutritional highlights: Lentils are packed with protein and fiber and are a great staple when you’re trying to create a filling vegetarian dish.  It can also be easily be made vegan without the feta.  The lentils aren’t the only powerhouse here–walnuts are a great healthy fat,  low fat feta gives us calcium, celery gives us fiber, and grapes are a great source of manganese.  The fresh thyme, red wine vinegar, honey, lemon juice, and olive oil gives this dish so much fresh flavor without adding much fat or sodium.  Enjoy this as a side or a vegetarian main.

Lentil Salad with Walnuts, Feta, and Grapes
adapted from Martha Stewart


  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup French or brown lentils
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
  • 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 ounces feta, crumbled (1/2 cup)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper


  1. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add lentils, reduce to a simmer, and cover; cook until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water. (Or buy precooked lentils! my new favorite thing!)
    Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together red-wine vinegar, lemon juice, and honey. Whisk in olive oil. Stir in lentils, walnuts, grapes, celery, and thyme. Add feta. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Aug 302011

There’s something really perfect about the combination of tomato, basil, and mozzarella. One of those perfect trios like the Three Musketeers, Rock-Paper-Scissors, or Destiny’s Child.  So you may think, why add another ingredient–4’s a crowd. But in this case, it’s just making a classic combo even better. Roasted eggplant stacks with tomato, mozzarella, and pesto.  Sometimes more is more.

The best part about this was it’s simplicity. The only somewhat involved step is roasting or grilling the eggplant, but then you simply stack with tomato, mozzarella, and (gasp!) store-bought pesto. Homemade is obviously better, but my meek little basil plant wasn’t quite up to that endeavor.  Serve as an app, salad, or double the stack for a meal!

Nutritional Highlights: Tomatoes are filled with a powerful antioxidant–lycopene, plus tons of vitamin C. Basil has “flavonoids” that help protect cells from damage (like radiation) and has also been shown to have anti-bacterial properties, and this helps prevent unwanted bacterial growth. Nasunin in the skin of eggplant is an antioxidant that has been shown to protect the lipids in brain cells. Fresh mozzarella provides calcium and has less calories and fat than many other cheeses (in general, soft cheeses are better than hard cheeses). Basically, this is a healthy, seasonal, delicious appetizer or salad that will impress without leaving you exhausted!


  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 tablespoon each Balsamic Vinegar and Oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 large tomato
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Pesto (homemade or store bought)
  • Fresh basil and parmesan for garnish
Instructions:  Preheat oven to 425.  Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch slices.  Now an optional step: Sprinkle the eggplant with kosher salt and let it sit for about a half hour.  This pulls out moisture and will help the eggplant hold its shape when cooked (but I don’t think skipping this step would be terrible).  Wipe off the salt and spread slices onto a sprayed baking sheet. Mix the oil, vinegar, and garlic and brush it on both sides of the eggplant slices.  Roast for 10 minutes, flip eggplant slices, and roast for another 10 minutes.  

While eggplant cools, slice your mozzarella and tomato.  Create your stacks by starting with one piece of eggplant, top with tomato and mozzarella, and then another piece of eggplant.  Top with pesto, fresh basil, and parmesan.  Drizzle plate with more oil and vinegar to get extra fancy.  Enjoy!