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Salads & Dressing

Grilled Watermelon Salad

Grilled Watermelon Salad5

Grilled watermelon salad is the perfect summer side dish. Slice up some watermelon rings, throw them on the grill (literally if you’re brave enough), wait for some gorgeous smokey grill marks to spear and you’re half way there.

Grilled Watermelon Salad

If you don’t have a grill, a grill pan will work fine. You can also skip the egregious use of fire all together and just cut the watermelon into bite sized chunks. The saltiness of the Cotija and the briny quick-pickled red onions set of that great sweetness of in-season watermelons.

Grilled Watermelon Salad2

It’s also a great salad to serve at room temperature, making it the perfect low maintenance side dish to serve on your summer party table. It also has a lovely sweetness that pairs well with a spicy food, I served it with these wings. It does not, however, keep very well. If you plan to make it ahead of time, keep all of the components separate and toss just prior to serving.

If you need a patriotic plan for the rest of the watermelon, check this out.

Grilled Watermelon Salad7

 

Grilled Beer & Buttermilk Chicken with Sriracha Glaze

Ingredients

    For the Chicken:
  • 2 cups Buttermilk
  • 12 ounces IPA beer
  • 2 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 2 lbs chicken drumsticks and wings
  • Cilantro, minced (optional)
  • For The Glaze:
  • ¼ cup Sriracha
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ½ cup IPA beer
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup mirin

Directions

  1. In a large bowl whisk together the buttermilk, 12 ounces beer, salt, smoked paprika, cayenne, cumin, and brown sugar. Add the onions and chicken to the marinade. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 12.
  2. Just prior to grilling, make the glaze. In a saucepan over medium high heat, whisk together all the glaze ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 8 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken from the marinade, discard marinade.
  4. Place the chicken on a preheated grill, brush with glaze, cook for about 2 minutes, flip and brush with glaze. Continue to flip and brush with glaze every 2-4 minutes until chicken is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes (depending on the size of your chicken). Transfer chicken to a serving platter and sprinkle with cilantro.
https://domesticfits.com/grilled-watermelon-salad/

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Quinoa Crab Salad with Jalapeno Vinaigrette

Quinoa Crab Salad with Jalapeno vinaigrette

I could eat this salad every day.

I realize that quinoa has become a food trend that will inevitably run it’s course, I don’t care. I’ll love it and I’ll eat it long after it’s no longer cool.

The first time I made it, I cooked it the same way I cook rice and the results were pretty sad and mushy. I did some digging and figure out a few quinoa tricks and started to cook it this way. It has more flavor and better texture and it isn’t mushy at all, now I’m hooked.

Quinoa Crab Salad with Jalapeno vinaigrette4

After I made the jalapenos dressing I wandered around my kitchen looking for more things to eat it with, it’s amazing. I’m so glad I started making my own dressing, it takes about 30 seconds. It’s great to be able to through a bunch of ingredients in a blender and those little ingredients come out as a delicious sauce.

 

IPA Lemon Bars

Ingredients

    Crust:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 6 tbs unsalted butter
  • pinch salt
  • Filling:
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 tbs corn starch
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup IPA beer
  • Powdered sugar for dusting
  • Yield: 10 to 12 cookies

Directions

  1. In a food processor add the flour, powdered sugar, butter and salt. Process until well combined.
  2. Press into the bottom of a greased 8X8 pan (for a 9x13 pan, double the entire recipe).Chill for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350.
  4. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool to about room temperature, about 15 minutes (this will help the crust and the filling to stay in two distinct layers.)
  5. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, flour and corn starch. Add in the lemon juice and beer, stir until combined. Pour the filling over the cooled crust. Bake until the center has set, about 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before refrigerating. Chill for 2 to 3 hours before cutting. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
https://domesticfits.com/quinoa-crab-salad-with-jalapeno-vinaigrette/

Quinoa Crab Salad with Jalapeno vinaigrette2

 

Creamy Goat Cheese Dressing

 

 

"Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many." –-Unknown

It’s my birthday today.

Although I’m taking a few minutes to type this up, I get to spend the day with my Husband and daughter.

For me, birthdays are a bit like Thanksgiving, which is fairly fitting seeing as that my birthday often falls during the same week. Maybe it’s because my Dad died in his 20’s, or because I am by nature a grateful person, but birthdays make me feel lucky. Another years worth of experiences and knowledge under my belt.

Time to set some goals and remember the ones I’ve accomplished over the past year. This time last year I was contemplating writing a book proposal, and just two weeks ago I signed my first (yes, first, of what I hope to be many) book deal.

This year my goals are more personal:

1. Learn how to say no without feeling guilty.

2. Know my value and how to ask for it without apologizing (as in, stop doing so much work for free!)

 

So, seriously, help me out. I might need some accountability with those two.

 

 

Beer Cheese Wontons

Ingredients

  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbs corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup beer
  • 1/2 tsp sriracha
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 24 wonton wrappers
  • 2 tbs green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Directions

  1. In a food processor combine the first 9 ingredients (everything except the wonton wrappers, green onions and the oil), process until well combined.
  2. One at a time, place the wonton wrappers on a flat surface. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, wet the edges or the wrappers with water.
  3. Place about 1 tbs of filling in the center of the wrapper. Sprinkle green onions on top (about 1/4 tsp).
  4. Fold wrapper over to create a triangle, press the edges together until very well sealed. Brush the bottom of the triangle with water and fold the corners into the center and press into shape.
  5. Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Adjust heat to make sure it does not get to the smoking point, or the wontons will burn.
  6. Carefully add wontons to the hot oil, cooking until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.
  7. Serve immediately, wontons will get soggy if they sit.
https://domesticfits.com/creamy-goat-cheese-dressing/

 

 

Oh, and don’t forget to enter to win $250 from California Strawberries. Details here!

 

 

Kale Caesar with Goat Gouda, Avocados and Homemade Croutons

 

A few weeks ago I was invited to the opening of Messhall in Los Angeles to partake in an amazing media dinner. I was stuffed with steak tartare tacos, lobster mac n cheese, incredibly memorably cheese grits, the best pork chop of my life and a kale caesar salad I can’t stop thinking about. I was fortunate enough to accompany the incredibly dashing Greg Henry of Sippity Sup, sit with a small group of food writers, publicists, bloggers and magazine editors on the patio of the iconic space that once housed The Brown Derby. a Los Angeles landmark turned into the hip new Mess Hall with a summer camp chic vibe and a menu that is both familiar and vibrantly new.

Although all the food was memorable (how can I forget corn on the cob with smoked tomato butter?), there was something about that salad that I couldn’t stop thinking about. The simplicity and perfectly balanced flavors, how the kale was such an improvement over Romaine, how had I never thought of this?

Even weeks later, when a waiter at a different Los Angeles restaurant attempted to talk me into ordering the kale salad at his place, I had to mention to him the perfection of Mess Hall salad.

So here is my version, a Kale Caesar with Goat Gouda, Avocados and Homemade Croutons. But if you’re in Los Angeles, stop by Messhall for the real thing.

 

Triple Berry Blueberry Beer Cobbler

Ingredients

  • Six cups of berries (I used 2 cups each blackberries, strawberrries, and blueberries) Frozen is fine
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, plus 2 tbs divided
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs corn starch
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberry beer
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 12 tbs butter (1 1/2 sticks) cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs beer

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. In a pot over medium high heat, add 4 cups berries (reserve 2 cups mixed berries for the end), 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, corn starch and beer. Allow to simmer until reduced and thickened, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, add reserved 2 cups of berries, stir to combine. Add to a deep dish pie pan.
  4. In a bowl, add 2 tbs brown sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and stir to combine.
  5. Add the butter, rub into the flour until well combined and resembles course meal.
  6. Add the milk and 1/2 cup beer, stir until combined.
  7. Gently add the flour topping, a bit at a time, to the pie pan until the berries are covered.
  8. Bake at 450 until the topping has turned a light golden brown, about 18 minutes.
  9. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the cream, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 2 tbs beer. Whip on high until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes.
  10. Serve the cobbler topped with whipped cream.
https://domesticfits.com/kale-caesr-salad-with-homemade-dressing/

 (I was provided with a delicious free dinner & cocktails from Messhall,  

however I was not monetarily compensated for this review.

All ideas and opinions are my own.)

Bacon, Blue Cheese & Duck Fat Roasted Potato Salad

I’m torn. On one hand, I’ve never been the sort of person to trash a company in public, but on the other hand I want others to be aware of companies that form borderline abusive relationships with clients whose livelihoods they hold in their digital hands.

I will tell you this:

I am so glad to have broken free of blog.com and I am appalled by they way they treat their customers. I didn’t want to leave, but I didn’t have a choice if I wanted to protect my content and my ability to continue to do what I love. I would strongly recommend NOT using them as a host, and instead using wordpress.com or even better, using wordpress.org as a self hosted site. If none of that made sense to you, Julie at Burnt Carrots has a great How To Start A Blog post that can clear some of that up. If you need more evidence, other than my desperate pleas, that blog.com is horrific you can ask this guy or this girl.

I feel better. And I will be eternally grateful to my friend Andrew of Eating Rules who helped me switch both of my blogs to self hosted wordpress sites. He has a company called Blog Tutor who does that sort of thing. A tech guy who is also a food blogger, who else would I have used?

On a lighter note, I booked my first TV gig!

I was contacted through my other blog, The Beeroness to do a live Cooking With Beer demo on TV in Los Angeles on August 31t! I’ll update you will more information once that date gets closer.

I’m so glad you all let me get that off my chest and now we can truly appreciate the magic of roasted potato salad.

It is very possible that I am one of the only people in this world that has issues with boiled potatoes. Most of the time I seem to over boil them into a near mushy state with my lack of long term attention abilities. And the water washes away a lot of that great starch that we love so much about potates. Roasting helps me to fix both of those issues, it’s more forgiving with the time and it expands the flavors instead of removing them.

And I added duck fat. I bough it at Sur La Table and a little goes a long way.

I made this twice in one week, it’s really great. By far the best potato salad I have ever made.

Jalapeno IPA Hummus

Jalapeno IPA Hummus

Ingredients

  • 2 fresh jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 3 tbs tahini
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced (about 1 tbs)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup IPA Beer (plus additional if needed)

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth. Add additional IPA for a thinner dip. Serve with pita or chips.
  2. *Note: most of the heat from Jalapenos are in the seeds. If you want a hotter hummus, you can leave the seeds in. If the finished dip is too mild, add 1/4 tsp chili powder for a spicier dip
https://domesticfits.com/bacon-blue-cheese-duck-fat-roasted-potato-salad/

Chinese Shrimp Salad

I went to a Dodger game this weekend.

Not just Went. I was asked to attend a VIP tour of Dodger Stadium for a Food Bloggers event that included hanging on the field, a tour of all of the exclusive restaurants, a buffet of all of the incredible hot dog creations the stadium chefs can dream up (macaroni and Fritos dog?!) and even a chat with Andre Ethier. Who told me he doesn’t drink beer (I’ll forgive him, kid can play some ball). And to top it all off, we got to sit in box seats right on the field.

If you follow me on instagram (@JackieJDodd), these pictures will look rather familiar.


Moments like these remind me to take a second to just sit and be grateful. Even when I feel like I am nowhere near the goals I have set for myself I always take time to appreciate what I have. The opportunities, people and experiences that give so much more to my life than I even deserve. I just finished Marcus Samuelson’s Yes, Chef and was incredibly inspire by his work ethic: "Always chase one shot of good luck with two shots of hard work" Great advice, Marcus. I’ll take it. Sitting side stage at America’s Favorite Past Time felt like a shot of good luck, so this week I’ll chase it with an even harder push towards my goals.

And after eating my body weight in hot dogs and chocolate cake at the Stadium, I needed a salad to balance it all.

And I know that I don’t have to tell you that Chinese Chicken Salad is much more about the dressing than it is about the chicken (which I replaced with shrimp).

This dressing, THIS dressing is so easy and so good you will never even be tempted to buy it pre made ever again.

And I also decided that I am also going to chase one negative though about myself with two positive ones. I like that formula, after all he is a Top Chef Master.

Chinese Shrimp Salad

3 cups green cabbage, chopped

3 cups red cabbage, chopped

1 cup jicama, peeled and diced

2 cups yellow peaches, chopped (about 2 large)

1 large avocado, chopped

1/3 cup green onion, chopped

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

3/4 cup cooked bay shrimp

5 wonton wrappers, cut into 1/4 inch strips and lightly fried

For The Dressing:

3 tbs rice wine vinegar

2 tbs brown sugar

3 tbs ponzu sauce

1 tsp sriracha

1 1/2 tsp grated ginger

2 tsp sesame oil

(you can also make a double recipe and save half in an air tight container in the fridge, should last about 1 month)

Add all of the salad ingredients (except the fried wontons) in a bowl, toss to combine. Top with wontons.

Add all of the dressing ingredients to a bowl, stir to combine. Drizzle over the salad. Serve cold.

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Orzo Caprese In Tomato Cups

When I was a kid "Pasta Salad" was just a requisite side dish at family gatherings that was hastily bought at the grocery store and remained in it’s plastic tub beside other more appetizing offerings while slowly making it’s way to room temperature. I never really understood how macaroni noodles, eggs and mustard where always such an important part of every barbecue I went to. And while these little gatherings were being planned, there was always a mention of it, "Who is going to bring the pasta salad?"  Pasta salads have so much variety and take so little time, you don’t ever have to resort to grocery store tub again.

Instead of that I offer you this. Orzo pasta and a fairly traditional Caprese salad, mixed together and served in a hallowed out tomato (feel free to bypass the individual serving size vegetable dish for larger gatherings.)

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Orzo Caprese Salad in Tomato Cups

1 cup dry Orzo pasta

2 cups (10 oz) grape tomatoes, halved

2 cups small mozzareall balls (ciliegine sized) cut in half or quarters

5 basil leaves, chopped

3 tbs pesto sauce

1 tsp balsamic

Salt & Pepper

4 beefsteak tomatoes

Cook Orzo according to package directions until al dente, put in a bowl with the grape tomatoes, mozzarella balls, basil leaves, pesto and balsamic. Toss to combine, salt and pepper to taste.

To serve in tomato cups, cut the beefsteak tomatoes in half widthwise and use a melon baller to scoop out the insides.

Fill with Orzo Caprese Salad and serve.

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Sauteed Brussels Sprouts With Goat Cheese

Every foodie mom wants to raise an eater. A kid with a profound appreciation for food who can tell you the difference between a Béarnaise and a Hollandaise. 

I love that my two year old’s favorite food is bacon, that she’ll pick the carcass of roast chicken clean if I let her, that she prefers to snack on roasted Nori sheets over Oreos if given the option, but it’s not my biggest focus. I want her to respect food, but I want her to respect people more.

I’m grateful that I have the ability to buy organic whole produce, spend the extra five bucks for the organic free range eggs, that I always make cakes, frosting, ricotta cheese, bread and pasta from scratch, and I’m thrilled that I get to be that type of mom. But I wasn’t that type of kid.

I was the kid who’s family lived pay check to paycheck, who once sorted through boxes of canned food sent over from the local Mission when the funds ran really low, who waited in the 12 passenger van while mom ran into the bakery to buy twenty-cent day old bread so our family of ten could make it through the month. And I never had a friend who made me feel bad about it.

When my seven sisters and I would have friends over on a friday night, and mom would make Bisquick pancakes for dinner, it was seen as charming, not as a cheap way to feed the fifteen mouths that were now at the table.

That’s what I want for Tater. To be able to sit at anyones table and see the food as what it is, a gesture of care and affection. I don’t want her to ask for aged Reggiano to add to the Rice-A-Roni that her friends mom served. I don’t want to raise a kid who wants to add a honey balsamic reduction to ice berg salad mix she is given by the next door neighbor.

I want her to eat what she is served, and feel grateful that someone took the time to offer her food from their home.

I want to raise a kid who would eat boxed macaroni and cheese if that what she is served, and clean her plate, without ever pointing out that her mom makes it from scratch.

And if she is at summer camp and a group of weary, under paid cooks serve her chicken nuggets and tater tots that only made a brief stop in the kitchen after a long ride on a Sysco truck, I hope she is able to see warm food that people took time away from their families to make for her. 

And if someday her mother in law serves her a burnt lasagna that is still frozen in the middle, with Kool-Aid out of plastic tumblers, I hope she say thank you. And I hope she means it.

Food is more than just an experience of taste and the pleasures that it brings, it’s about a respect for those who serve it. Everyone has different abilities, concerns and limitations but we all bring food to those we love with the same motivation, and no amount of foodie intolerance should ever diminish that.

I have the privilege  of spending time and money on the food that I want to serve, but the love I bring to my table is no different than the busy, over worked mother or 5 who serves spaghetti from a jar and a box twice a week.

I want her to be gracious and appreciative, no matter what is put in front of her, thanking her hosts, because others did that for me.

That’s what food is about.

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts With Goat Cheese

3 tbs olive oil

3 cups Brussels sprouts, cut into quarters

1/2 tsp course salt

1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper

small pinch of cayenne pepper

2 oz goat cheese, crumbled 

(makes 4 side dish portions)

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat until hot and shimmery. Add the Brussels sprouts, tossing frequently until browned and fork tender. Turn off heat, add the salt pepper and cayenne, toss to coat. Add to a plate and top with goat cheese. 

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The Best Little Quinoa Salad Ever

By now, you  have probably heard a thing or two about this scandal with Paula Deen. If you haven’t, here is a recap:

Paula Dean was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

Three years ago.

The number 1 treatment for Type 2 Diabetes is diet and exercise.

She continues to cook large volumes of high fat, high sugar food on TV, in her restaurants and cook books.

She now wants to endorse a Type 2 diabetes drug and "comes clean" about her diagnoses.

The public freaks out.

Although we all have opinions about, well, just about everything and everyone we have ever met, I’m not concerned about Paul Deen. I don’t know her, and it’s none of my business.

But I am concerned about you. And me. And what I feel like is my responsibility to you. I have quite a few "special occasion" food recipes on this blog, made with high fat, high calorie, high sugar ingredients. And I hope that doesn’t give you the wrong idea.

I hope you all read my post about how I don’t eat like that all the time and how I stay in shape.

Learning from someone else’s mistakes is better than making one yourself, the same dramatic positive changes without the mess to clean up. Use her as inspiration, not as fodder for gossip. She is unhealthy and needs to make changes in her life, but that’s her business.  How can we take this all in, look at ourself and see how to make our own changes rather than making her the villain? How can we help the people we love who are living unhealthy lives? How can we all be in this together and use it as a way to live better and eat better?

How can we have those uncomfortable conversations with people we love who are killing themselves with food? You know who just popped into your head when you read that. Why haven’t you talk to that person?

Use Paul’s story as an icebreaker in your own life. As inspiration to change. 

Whether she decides to change or not, who cares? 

I’m glad this came out, but can we stop pointing fingers and starting living better?

Here is my salad, my way of staying in shape. I eat it about 5 days a week in various forms and this one is my favorite.

Chocked full of protein, iron, amino acids, general good stuff. It also keeps me full until dinner.

Best Quinoa Salad Ever

 2 cups arugula (or spring greens), chopped

1/2 cup cooked quinoa (Here is how you cook Quinoa the RIGHT way don’t cook it like rice or it will be mushy)

2 tbs pine nuts

1/2 an avocado, chopped

1 oz goat cheese

1/4 cup Pomegranate seeds

2 tsp Balsamic vinegar

Toss it all in a bowl, makes about 2 servings.

Printable: Best Quinoa Salad

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Food & Wine Pairing: Prosciutto Truffle Salad with Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir

Welcome back to wine week! To get caught up, make sure and read yesterdays post:

How To Pair Food and Wine 

Rule one: Acid needs acid

I loved (LOVED!!) this recipe and pairingI am much more of a red wine person and learning about versatile red, with a higher acidity and lower tannin level than most reds, I am able to serve a red wine as a stand in where most people would typically put a white. Because, remember, pairing is more about acid and tannin levels than white versus red. 

I CAN have a red wine with white meat!! As long as I can pick the right one. 

The wine in this pairing is Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir, 2009

I really liked this wine, and I loved that I am now able to pair a red wine with white meat if I so desire. Still maybe a bit to tannin heavy for a light, white fish, but works perfect with pork or possibly a chicken dish. AND It’s UNDER $10!! I love that. I love that I can serve a beautiful wine, paired perfectly with my beautiful salad, and no one will ever know that I so incredibly affordable. 

This was a recipe that I followed the closest. And I loved it so much I made it twice in the same week. It is easy, full of flavor and has a fancy boldness that is perfect for a dinner party. 

It has a super easy homemade dressing that you mix right in the salad bowl. 

Printable: salad-recipe 

I only made a few minor changes to this recipe:

  • Since I had truffle oil on hand from when I made this, I used it in place of the olive oil. 
  • Instead of rubbing the bowl and the bread with garlic, I used a microplane to grate it to a paste and spread it on the bread, and just added the garlic paste to the dressing
  • I grilled the bread slices on my grill pan and served them on the side
  • I added chopped tomatoes 
I really hope you love this salad as much as I did, its simple, fresh and delicious. 
Seek out the wine if you can, and remember that it is a red that you can pair with high acid dishes if you are one of those people who doesn’t particularly fall in love with whites. 
More food and wine parings coming this week. Stay tuned!
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Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

I get asked a lot of questions as a food blogger. Some are about food. Some are about blogging. Some are more personal. But one of the most common questions I get asked is, "How do you stay so skinny when you cook so much food?!"

First, it’s hard. Really.

Work, being a mom, a wife, a blogger. AND trying to stay in shape is a lot of work.

A lot.

Here are some of the rules that I use to a balance food blog and skinny jeans:

1. I don’t eat fast food. It is a really rare occasion when I do, and never, ever, ever for dinner. More of a road trip occasion, or an I’m running late so I’m going to grab the one sandwich under 400 calories at Quiznos occasion. And no chips, and an unsweetened iced tea.

2. I always eat breakfast. Once in a while I have fatty things, like that french toast I still can’t stop thinking about. But 5 out of 7 days, its 2 slices of reduced calorie whole wheat toast (or whole wheat english muffin) with 1/2 tbs peanut butter each. For breakfast, you want the trifecta: low cal, high protein, good carbs.

3. I read ALL the labels of everything I put in my mouth. And just assume that you will have more than the serving size. For instance: most cereal puts a "serving size" of 3/4 a cup. Really? That’s less than my cup of coffee. You will probably have more like 2 cups. So that cereal that you think is only 175 calories. It’s probably more like 430. Thats like eating a burger. But at least the burger is worth it. Bottom line, if you are counting calories, measuring your food is a BIG part of that.

4. Snack well. I like to get the most food possible for the least amount of calories. It’s like a game. But I don’t eat a lot of processed foods, and even when I did, those 100 calorie packs aren’t really a calorie bargin. I want 2, and if I’m going to eat 200 calories, I’d rather have a snickers. This is one of my go to snacks: 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced, drizzled with lemon juice, sprinkled with salt and chili powder. It’s like 15 calories. I also do that to radish slices.  Crispy and salty. Like chips, but good for you.

5. Know your weaknesses. I know I like to cook big breakfast on the weekend, and eat more for dinner when I get to cook for other people. So on the weekdays, I eat a low dairy, high plant, low fat diet. Such as: Salads with low-cal dressing (or just balsamic vinegar) or even my favorite salsa instead of dressing, non-dairy soups, roasted veggies with skinless chicken.

6. Know your calories. I have the Lose It app on my phone (it’s free) and I try to stay under 1,600 calories a day during the week. Give up calories where you can, but don’t feel like you have "earned" an extra slice of pie. That just ruins all the work you did. The truth is, unless you are an Olympic swimmer who burns 14,000 calories a day, you will never reach your goal weight with exercise alone. Never. You have to get your eating in check. Can you indulge? Sure, once in a while, but make sure you make up for it but eating lots of plants. Don’t starve yourself, it makes your body store everything as fat. So you are hungry and still gaining. That sucks. Think of calories like you think of money. You only have so many (probably around 1,700 a day if you’re a girl) to spend before you go "into debt" (meaning: gain weight). Is that mediocre lunch really worth half of your calorie budget? Do you like that White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks 600X more than a regular cup of coffee? Because that’s how many more calories are in it (a venti White Chocolate Mocha, with whip has 620 calories, a plain cup of coffee has about 5 calories). Spend where it counts, cut when it doesn’t.

7. Find the WHY. I have a Masters Degree in Psychology. Did you know that? It’s true. The mental part is hard. Probably harder than being hungry, is being unmotivated. Write a list of WHY you want to stay (or get) in shape and post it everywhere, and keep updating it. And talk yourself down when you do want to grab for that bad stuff. Oh, and don’t keep in the house, it just makes it that much more difficult for yourself.

(pretty much my WHY for everything good in my life)

8. Replacement behaviors. This is an important part of therapizing yourself. Find your bad habits and replace them with good ones.  For me: 3pm candy jar. My coworkers all have them, and I do as well. Instead of wandering around chatting with the intention of snacking, I walked my office building for 15 minutes, stairs and all. Now, my candy jar is filled with candy I don’t like and I’m not even tempted to eat, just for those people who come to visit with the intention of snacking.

9. Just have one. If you really want to try a new recipe for cupcakes, pie, cookies, thats OK. Try and plan to make them when you can give the rest away. For me, most of the fun of cooking is having a recipe in my head and trying to figure out how to make it work in the kitchen. But most of my food, the sugary, high fat stuff, is given away. Take it to the office, or to a friends house, or let your husband take it to his office. Find a charity, like a women’s shelter, that might want it. Or throw it out. It sucks to waste food, but is it really doing any good taunting you from the fridge? Or, you can make a half or a quarter of the original recipe using an online site like Half Recipe.

10. Move a lot. Even though exercise doesn’t burn as many calories as we would like, it’s still important to move. For me, it’s spin class. Because it’s the most amount of calories I can burn in the least amount of time. If I really push myself, do everything that spin guy is yelling at me to do, I can burn nearly 700 calories in an hour. Thats a lot. Do that 3 times a week and thats 30 lbs a year. Find something that you will actually do, and do it. A lot. Spoil yourself with dance class, then treat yourself to shrimp cocktail (fairly low cal treat).

11. Water is essential. Get a water bottle and carry it around like a security blanket. First, it flushes out your body. Second, the human thirst reflex is so weak, it is often mistaken for hunger. Drink a lot of water and you will eat less and glow more.

Now onto the recipe. This makes 2 large entree sized portions, at about 330 calories each, or 4 side salad portions at about 165. If you want a little more, you can add 3oz grilled skinless chicken.


Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

1 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 tsp fresh sage, minced

1 1/2 cups fresh kale, chopped

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1 large roasted red bell pepper, chopped

2 tbs shallots, minced

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

2 tsp raw honey (sub agave for vegan)

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Boil the sweet potatoes in a large pot of lightly salted, boiling water until fork tender, about 5-8 minutes. Remove from water with a slotted spoon, allow to drain. I did a guest post of Eating Rules about the proper way to cook quinoa, if you are interested.

In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, sweet potatoes, sage, kale, cranberries, and red pepper. In a small bowl, add the shallots, balsamic, honey, salt and pepper, stirring to combine. Drizzle over the quinoa salad, tossing to coat.

Legal Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionsinst. The ideas presented here are just what works for me.


Strawberry Quinoa Salad

I’ve been eating a lot of quinoa salads ever since I did a guest post for Eating Rules. The post was about the amazingness of quinoa and how to make it the right way, as in not mushy. Andrew, of Eating Rules, posed a challenge to the world at large to give up processed food for one month, and somewhere around 3,000 people have accepted. Could you do it? Could you give up all processed foods for an entire month? You can start small, maybe one week, or maybe one meal per week for a month. How about "Unprocessed Wednesday Night Dinners" for the rest of the year. What is unprocessed? That been quite the discussion, for more information read this. But the short answer is, don’t eat food that has ingredients you don’t (or couldn’t) have in your kitchen. Skip the boxed, frozen, prepackaged, canned and chemical laden foods. Keep the journey from the farm to your table as short as possible. Cook with real, whole vegetables, fresh meats, grains that aren’t labeled "Instant" or "Success" or "Minute" but just: rice or quinoa. Make biscuits from scratch, roast a whole chicken, steam some vegetables, or grill some meat. You can do it. And the less processed foods your family eats, the healthier you’ll all be. For some inspiration to ditch the 37 ingredient bags of food, check out this family who did it and chronicled the highs and the lows.

Strawberry, Goat Cheese and Quinoa Salad

1 cup of quinoa, cooked

1 cup Strawberries, hulled and chopped

3 oz goat cheese, crumbled

½ cup chopped arugula

1 tbs basil, chopped

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1/8 tsp salt

2 tbs red onions, minced

2 tbs honey

In a bowl add the quinoa, strawberries, goat cheese, basil, arugula and toss combine.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, salt, onions and honey. Drizzle the balsamic mixture over the quinoa/strawberry mixture and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

(Makes 2 large salads, or 4 small side dish salads.)