Sugar-Free Peach Parfait

Sugar-Free Peach Parfait
Sometimes in life it comes down to tough decisions.

For example, when your iPhone gets really full and you have to delete some music. That’s when you have to have to ask yourself the hard questions. Questions like… do I really need this much Katy Perry music? Does anyone?

When hard questions like this come up, you also have to stop and analyze yourself. I mean… what does it say about you that the most played song in your iTunes is 3 am by Matchbox Twenty. You must be lonely?

There’s only one thing to do while you contemplate these hard decisions and life questions… you have to eat some sugar-free peach parfait.

If you’re one of the folks jumping on the no-refined-sugar bandwagon, you’re gonna love me for this one. And even if you’re not, I promise you won’t be able to tell the difference between this and a “typical” dessert that does involve refined sugar… well, except that this one might taste better. :)

This dessert revolves around seasonal, ripe peaches and my secret ingredients – cashews and dates – to create a creamy, dreamy parfait that’s gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, and works wonderfully for folks with dietary restrictions, raw foodies, plant-based folks/vegans, and folks following a paleo lifestyle.

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Mexican Cucumber Salad

Mexican Cucumber Salad

Everyone keeps talking about it being the “end of the summer.”

Shhh… no, it’s NOT the end of the summer. It’s the height of the summer!

It’s the best time of the year when amazing things like peppers, zucchini, cucumber, greens, peaches, and herbs in season! Nope, it’s not the end, my friends… I think it’s just the beginning. (Okay, not really, but just go with me on this one…)

I’ve been really bored of my lunches lately. If you’ve been in a food rut too, don’t worry, you’re not alone. I typically opt for a simple salad during the weekdays (you can see my Healthy Trader Joe’s Meal Plan for tips and ideas), but lately I’ve been bored of my classic mix of greens, tomatoes, bell peppers, and balsamic vinegar.

So, I decided to take everything in season and put it together in a yummy salad tossed with a little salt and cumin. Yes! You can add beans to this salad to make it a hearty vegetarian/vegan entree or serve it alongside a protein source of your choice. Either way, it’s a quick and easy way to break up the food rut and excite your taste buds.

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Summer Heirloom Tomato Salad

Summer Heirloom Tomato Salad

One of the best parts about life is experiencing new things. It’s so easy for us to get stuck in our ways, caught up in the routine of the day-to-day and forget all that exists outside of our comfort zone.

This week I challenged myself to do something a little different. The result? I’m now in love with Bollywood dancing. I joined a dance studio here in Seattle and have been trying out Bollywood and hip hop classes. So far, Bollywood is winning in my book… mostly because I can’t seem to pop my hips and shoulders like a hip hop dancer. :)

You know what else I tried this week? A summer heirloom tomato salad mixed with fruit. Yum. Maybe I can’t convince to try Bollywood dancing (it is fun though, I promise), but perhaps you can be persuaded to break the inevitable food rut and enjoy some heirloom tomatoes as well?

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Pineapple Baked Chicken

Pineapple Baked Chicken

Have you ever wondered who purchases those herbal neck wraps, blue eye masks, or foot massagers at Bed, Bath and Beyond?  Tonight I was reorganizing my bathroom cabinet and that is when I realized it: It’s me. I’m single-handedly the one keeping those personal care companies in business.

I will happily get rid of extra candles and picture frames.

I don’t need a ton of clothes or different pairs of shoes.

But, ain’t nobody taking away my neck wrap, neck pillow, acupressure mat, hot water bottle, skin conditioning gloves, or sleep mask. Seriously. My bathroom cabinet looks like a cross between products that were purchased out of SkyMall magazine or some crazy TV infomercial. And truthfully, that’s probably where some of them came from.

Now that we got that out of the way and I have publicly shared how strange I am, it’s time to talk about normal things. How about we start with dinner?

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Broccoli Spigarello with Garlic and Pine Nuts

Broccoli Spigarello with Garlic and Pine Nuts

I have a pretty good idea of what you must be thinking at this point… what the heck is spigarello?  Don’t worry, I found myself thinking the same thing at last week’s farmers market.

One of my favorite parts of living in Seattle is the amazing diversity of produce we have here. Over the years I’ve challenged myself to “cook outside my comfort zone” by trying a new vegetable when I find something that I’m unfamiliar with at the market and then experimenting with the best ways to prepare it. This week’s challenge was spigarello.

Broccoli spigarello is native to southern Italy and is completely different from broccoli, broccolini, or broccoli rabe (in fact, they’re not even in the same family). I love broccoli so I have no problem with its sometimes bitter taste, but spigarello is an entirely different story. The best way I can describe the taste is the sweetness of broccoli combined with the leaves of kale.

Let’s just say I instantly fell in love. And when you combine it with a little bit of garlic, toasted pine nuts, salt and pepper? Well that’s just my version of heaven.

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Berry Salad with Sweet Chipotle Dressing

Berry Salad with Sweet Chipotle Dressing

I can’t believe we’re now at the end of June. This means it’s time to get serious about summer. And that means it’s time to eat lots of berries.

I would be a fruitaholic if I could be so I try to stick to fresh, local, and seasonal fruits as much as possible to keep my sugar intake low and get the most nutritional value. And right now in Seattle, it’s berry season.

This salad was inspired by a half-flat of fresh local strawberries from the farmers’ market. If you’ve never had fresh local strawberries, they will absolutely blow your mind. I promise that these are nothing like the large, slightly bitter, and air-y strawberries at the grocery store. No way. Local strawberries picked at their peak are small, deep red, tender, and incredibly sweet.

What could be better than pairing these local berries with fresh greens? Topping them with a sweet honey chipotle dressing, of course. As strange as it may sound, the spiciness from the chipotle dressing livens up this salad and adds something unexpected.

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How to Make Healthy Lunches in Under 60 Minutes

How to Make a Week's Worth of Healthy Lunches in Under 60 Minutes

I’m a busy person and even though I’m a food blogger, I completely understand the feeling of not wanting to spend your entire night in the kitchen preparing meals. However, I also believe that home-cooked and freshly prepared food is important enough for my health that I’m willing to dedicate some time and energy into preparing it.  That’s where this post comes in.

Monday through Friday I work in a typical office setting. This means on Sunday night I can be found preparing my meals for the week. As my schedule, career, and life has gotten busier and busier, I’ve looked for ways to spend less time in the kitchen, but still get the same results of delicious and healthy food.

I’ve been packing my own lunches for over six years now and I’ve found that it’s far healthier than eating out, saves a ton of money, AND it’s honestly not as hard as you think. Today my goal is to show you how quick and easy it can be to make healthy lunches for the entire week — all in under 60 minutes!

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Easy Broiled Curry Salmon

Easy Broiled Curry Salmon

There are a few things you should definitely do during the course of a 3-day weekend.

Yoga? Check.

Sleeping in? Check.

Drinking green smoothies? Check.

Sitting on your couch for a five-hour Law and Order SVU marathon? Check.

Alright, I’m not necessarily proud of that last one, but sometimes we all need a little break. And for me this past weekend that meant cuddling a cat and cheering on Olivia Benson. You go girl.

How was your long weekend? And, more importantly, what did you eat?

In addition to lots of fresh salads lately, I’ve been on a salmon kick. This is rather strange coming from someone who spent the first 27 years of her life avoiding seafood altogether. (Seriously, you can ask my mom.) 

In my salmon pursuits, I’ve discovered that my favorite way to prepare salmon is by broiling it. This method is quick, easy, and doesn’t require a lot of clean-up.  And, if you’re preparing food for just yourself (which is usually the case for me), it’s easy enough to broil a single filet and treat yourself to a fabulous and delicious dinner that looks like it took more work than it actually did. (This is always a bonus for nights when you have dinner guests!)

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