Better Bites

My experiments in healthy eating, cooking, and living

Archive for the category “Lunch Recipe”

A Fried Green Tomato Sandwich with Pesto and Confessions of a Dog Mom

Fried Green Tomato Sandwich

Each night when I arrive home, I feel like a celebrity. My little fans try to paw their way through the door as soon as they hear the key. While Max and Layla are tiny (11 and 13 pounds), somehow they manage to jump up near the height of my face (which I suppose isn’t terribly difficult since I’m only five feet tall). It’s as if they’re hiding a little invisible trampoline beneath their furry feet.

In between trying to get my attention by jumping as high as possible, I get pawed and whined at. It’s as if they’re saying “Mom, what about me? Look at me. Look at me. No really, look at me. Don’t even bother with that other little dog over there.” At some point, Layla even dances on two feet trying to get my attention like a student who is very eager to answer a question.

After a few minutes, the dancing, jumping, and whining usually subsides. Already after only being home for a few minutes, I feel like the best dog mom in the world without having ever lifted a finger.

I am greeted with the same enthusiasm each morning when I lift the lock to their crate. They bounce up and down as I stumble around the house trying to get ready for the morning. Usually, by the time I’m ready to leave the house we’ve switched roles. They’re snuggled up on my bed without any motivation to get up as I’m running out the door on the way to work.

Max and Layla 2

I almost have as much excitement for this pesto sandwich as my dogs have for me when I get home each day. While the season for tomatoes has passed in the Northeast, green or yellow heirloom tomatoes will also work for this recipe. Enjoy!

A Pesto and Friend Green Tomato Sandwich

*Serves 2

Ingredients:

1-2 tbsp of olive oil

2-3 green tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick

1 cup of Italian style breadcrumbs

1 bell pepper, roasted and cut into strips (I just roasted mine in the toaster oven until it was soft – for about 10-15 minutes)

1 avocado, halved, pitted, and sliced

1/4 cup of pesto

4 slices of freshly baked bread

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. After slicing the tomatoes, coat each side with breadcrumbs. Place them in the frying pan until the side in the oil turns golden brown (2-3 minutes). Then, flip each slice and let the other side brown.

After frying the tomatoes, toast the slices of bread. Then spread each slice with pesto. Top with tomato, pepper, and avocado slices. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

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Watermelon and Kale Salad Topped with Oil-free Cilantro and Lime Dressing

Watermelon salad 2

It seems I have lost the ability to bake. In the past five hours I’ve attempted to make vegan cornbread and blueberry scones, as well as chocolate chip scones. Yet, all I’m left with is a terrible mess (three times over) and a trash can full of baked goodies that were actually supposed to taste good.

I made watermelon gazpacho for dinner tonight. I thought that cornbread would be a great starch to pair it with (little did I know how it would turn out). I subbed white unbleached flour for white spelt flour and while the corn muffins rose, they did not taste delicious (or even edible really). I’m blaming that cooking catastrophe on the spelt flour, which I’d used once before for baking biscuits and I was left with that same horrible flavor (maybe it had spoiled?).

The second and third baking mishaps were a mystery to me. I made the same scone recipe I’d made a thousand times before (or maybe at least a handful of times), but the “scones” (if you’re nice enough to call them that) came out perfectly flat. They looked like puffed up cookies. They’d spread so far the edges started to cook together to form one massive mama scone that looked reminiscent of Swiss cheese. As there were lots of holes in areas that didn’t manage to touch. I thought maybe the first batch was ruined by the frozen blueberries, but the second batch came out the same way. They were practically brown on the outside and yet they were flat and overly soft on the inside. The taste was not overly appealing either.

I even told myself to stop after that first batch of scones. I knew they’d turned out terrible and that wasting double the ingredients was bad enough, but I guess the third time is a charm (really it was for me and my garbage baked goods). I’m sensing you can feel my frustration here. I was really hoping for some scones tonight.

At this point, I’ve officially given up on trying to make yummy treats for tonight. I’ve surrendered to my possessed oven. I’m assuming it’s the only reason for all of the unsightly baked goods that have come out of it tonight. It’s also hot, 10 pm, and I’m beginning to get tired eyes. For tonight, the oven wins, but I will surely make another batch of my famous scones at some point.

I do apologize that none of this post actually had to do with the watermelon and kale salad recipe which you will find below. It was delicious and did not end up in the garbage, as everything else has tonight.

Watermelon & Kale Salad:

*Serves 2

Ingredients:

7-8 leaves of kale, rinsed, dried, and roughly chopped

1/2 cup of sungold tomatoes, quartered

1 cup of watermelon, diced (and seeds removed)

1/2 cup of cucumber, diced

1/2 a jalapeno, diced finely

1/2 of an avocado, diced (or the remainder not used in the dressing recipe)

cilantro lime dressing (recipe below)

Method:

After washing the kale, dry it and then give it a rough chop. Add it to the serving bowl. Sprinkle the quartered sungold tomatoes on top of the kale. Then mix the cucumber and watermelon together and add that to the salad as well. To finish the salad, sprinkle the jalapeno pieces on top, drizzle on the cilantro lime dressing, and finally top with diced avocado pieces.

Oil-free Cilantro Lime Dressing:

*Makes enough dressing for two salads

Ingredients:

1 lime, juiced

1/3 of an avocado, diced

1 tsp of dried cilantro or 1 tbsp of fresh diced cilantro (fresh would be best)

1/2 a jalapeno, diced

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2-3 tbsp of cold water

Method: 

Add all of the ingredients (starting with 2 tbsp of water) to a small food processor and blend on high until the dressing is smooth and creamy. If the dressing is still too thick, add another tablespoon of water to the food processor and blend again. Add it to the top of the kale salad and enjoy immediately.

Cucumber & Chickpea Salad, as Well as a Thousand Beautiful Things

chickpea salad

My life has been moving at a quicker pace lately. It almost seems as if time is actually slipping through my fingers as summer comes to an end. In the past few weeks I’ve been savoring every moment of the end of this season. From visiting Maine and spending time on a white sandy beach, to making ginger flavored peach pie (and eating most of it for breakfast!), to finally tasting the first tomato from my garden, every day and experience has really been a joy and I feel happier than I have in a very long time.

After returning home midafternoon from a wonderful family vacation in Maine, my stomach started grumbling and I knew I had to create something out of the (lack of) items I had in the pantry. That is how this cool and spicy cucumber and chickpea salad came about. For a simple salad, it was very flavorful. Find the recipe below.

Peach pie

Ginger peach pie.

Peach pie 2

A slice of the pie with blueberry compote.

tomato

My very first home grown tomato.

OOB maine 1

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Cucumber and Chickpea Salad: 

*Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 can of chickpeas, rinsed

1 medium sized cucumber, peeled and diced

1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced

1/2 cup of sungold tomatoes, rinsed and quartered

1 tbsp of minced fresh cilantro or 1 tsp of dried cilantro

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp of garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

Optional: add diced avocado (If I’ had some I would have)

Method:

After prepping the ingredients, combine all of the them in a bowl. Refrigerate the salad for 20 to 30 minutes if you’d like the flavors to combine more. Serve atop a bed of kale, or another leafy green, add it to a wrap, or enjoy this salad on its own.

Crispy Maple Flavored Tofu Paired with Peach-Jalapeno Salsa

Tofu 1

I’ll admit it. Until trying this batch of maple glazed tofu (a recipe I found on a vegan blog I subscribe to called Fried Dandelions), I never used to like tofu. My feelings may have even been stronger than that of dislike. I pretty much used to despise tofu in its original form. When I would see recipes with tofu I would just look the other way knowing they weren’t for me. That was until I found a recipe for maple glazed tofu, which actually was the first tofu recipe that sounded appealing to me.

I was a bit suspicious that I was immediately drawn to the recipe, but I knew I had to give it a try. A vegetarian who hasn’t made tofu, I thought those didn’t exist, until me (except now I’ve joined the masses in having made and enjoyed tofu). I gave in and made the recipe and it was damn good.

The soy sauce and maple syrup gave the tofu that winning combination of having both a sweet and salty flavor. I also overcooked my tofu strips a bit. This gave them a gorgeous dark golden-brown hue and a crispy exterior, which made me like this recipe even more. The peach salsa gave the tofu some color and a pop of freshness as it was full of fresh out of the garden fruits and vegetables: farmer’s market peaches, cooling cucumber, diced jalapeno, and some chopped cilantro.

Find the peach-jalapeno salsa recipe below and the recipe for the maple glazed tofu here. I couldn’t justify rewriting the recipe, as it was written so perfectly on Fried Dandelions. The only thing I did differently was to cook the tofu longer to get that crispy exterior you see pictured above. Other than that I followed the recipe (which is slightly abnormal for me). Do you like tofu? If so what is your favorite way to eat/prepare it? Have you given in and joined the masses that cook it on a regular basis?

Tofu 2

The tofu: nearly naked and rather unappealing to me in this state.

Peach-jalapeno Salsa:

*Makes about 1 cup of salsa

Ingredients:

1 peach, rinsed, patted dry, and then diced into small pieces

1 jalapeno diced

1/2 cucumber, peeled and then diced into small pieces

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 teaspoon of cilantro, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 tsp of olive oil

1/4 tsp of salt and pepper

Method:

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Let the salsa sit in the fridge for about 10-20 minutes or more – just so that the flavors can combine. It is that simple. Enjoy alongside your favorite tortilla chips or give the maple flavored tofu recipe a try and serve with that.

Tofu 3

A Roasted Eggplant Sandwich with a Fresh Avocado Salsa

Roasted eggplant sandwich 1

The aforementioned sandwich stood about six inches tall, was filled with roasted eggplant and yellow bell pepper strips, as well as a tangy avocado salsa. It delivers a combination of flavors that complemented each other and is sure to please your taste buds (as it did mine). In a few words this sandwich was delicious, fresh, and simple ( and a bit messy too!). I was also overjoyed that I was able to use the beautiful heirloom tomato I’d bought from the farmer’s market.

Heirloom tomato

Aside from making this towering eggplant grinder and being slightly seduced by a seriously gorgeous (and flavorful) tomato, today was also my little sister’s wedding shower. The shower was held at a local Italian restaurant. The food was delicious, the staff very accommodating, and the guests were all about the room mingling with my sister and other friends and family. It was a wonderful day and I am very grateful to have been a part of it.

Susan's shower! 2

The star of the centerpiece were the white and blue-green hydrangea’s that the bridal party picked from my mother’s yard. You can also see the mini wine bottle favors, which turned out to be very cute!

Roasted Eggplant Sandwich with a Fresh Avocado Salsa: 

*Serves 2

Ingredients: 

1 large or two smaller eggplants, sliced into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices

1 tbsp of olive oil (plus a bit more for the salsa)

1/2 tsp of cumin

1 bell pepper, halved (seeds and stem removed)

1 medium tomato, diced or 1/2 cup of grape tomatoes diced

1/2 an avocado, diced

1 jalapeno, diced

1/2 lime, juiced

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, and garlic powder (for both the eggplant and the salsa)

1 tsp of fresh oregano, chopped (sub cilantro or parsley if you don’t have oregano)

2 whole grain buns

Other possible toppings: tomato, mustard, ketchup, avocado slices

Method: 

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prep the veggies (by peeling some of the skin off the sides of the eggplant and slicing it about 1/4 inch thick) and halving the peppers, as well as removing their stems. Then drizzle the eggplant with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cumin. Rub the spices on the eggplant to make sure they are evenly distributed. No need to season the pepper, just add a bit of olive oil to it and put them cut side down. Cover the eggplant with foil before popping the tray into the oven for about 30 minutes (so it will retain more moisture and you won’t have to use as much oil to keep it moist).

2. While the eggplant and peppers are cooking, assemble the avocado salsa. To a bowl, add the diced avocado, chopped tomato, lime juice, jalapeno, salt, pepper, a bit of olive oil, and fresh oregano. Stir the mixture together and put it into the fridge to let the flavors combine.

3. After the veggies are roasted, take them out of the oven. Cut the eggplant slices in half so they are short enough to fit on the buns and cut the pepper into slices. Add some roasted veggies to the sandwich and top with the avocado salsa, as well as any additional condiments. Enjoy!

Roasted eggplant sandwich 2

Loaded Southwestern Bruschetta

Loaded Southwestern Brushetta

Just by looking at that picture, you know this is a messy recipe. If you mind getting your hands dirty,then your’e better off looking, rather than enjoying this loaded southwestern bruschetta. I am not afraid of getting my hands or face a little dirty and so I dug in. Like so many other foods, the messiness of the dish was entirely worth it. Think about it, would you avoid an ice cream cone or popsicle in the summer just to keep clean? I think not. Therefore, loaded southwestern bruschetta is a deliciously messy idea. What are some of your favorite finger-licking-good foods?

Thinking about messy summer foods reminds me of my favorite cold treat. Growing up, I was  nearly addicted to toasted almond ice cream (the kind that comes neatly wrapped, on a stick, and sprinkled with toasted almond flavored pieces). Anytime there was an ice cream truck that came by, it was guaranteed I would order a toasted almond frozen treat. I would sit at the beach eating my half melted ice cream pop, not even caring that half of it was on my hands and that the seagulls above were eyeing me. When I was finished, I only longed for more. Maybe that is why I’m also crazy for the Almond Joy.

*Find my Almond Joy Bar post here (recipe from Rawmazing) and my Almond Joy Popcorn recipe here. For an Almond Joy-inspired breakfast treat, try my Almond Joy Overnight Oats recipe (click here for the recipe).

Loaded Southwestern Bruschetta:

*Makes enough topping for about 1/2 a loaf of bread, sliced (I used a wheat loaf from Whole Foods, as I have yet to tackle making my own bread)

Ingredients:

1 avocado

1/2 tsp of garlic or more to taste (1/4 tsp for the bean/corn mixture and 1/4 tsp for the avocado spread)

1/4 tsp of salt and pepper (for the avocado spread)

1/2 of a lime, juiced

2 tsps of olive oil

1 portobello mushroom cap, diced fairly small (1/4 inch pieces)

1/2 cup of black beans

1/2 cup of corn

1 medium tomato, diced

1/4 tsp of salt and pepper (for the bean/mushroom mixture)

1/4 tsp of chili powder

a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 a loaf of whole wheat bread, sliced into thick pieces

Method:

1- First, make the avocado spread by halving the avocado. Then scoop out the green fruit’s ripe flesh into a bowl. Add the spices and the juice of  the lime. Mix well. Then set aside in the fridge to let the flavors combine.

2- Over medium heat, add olive oil to a pan. When the pan is hot, add the diced mushroom pieces. After a couple of minutes add the corn, tomato pieces, black beans, and spices. Stir and heat until the corn is warmed through (if using frozen corn) or until the mushrooms are fully cooked. Put a lid on for the last minute of cooking to moisten up the mushrooms.

3- Spread the avocado mash on the half loaf of bread. Then, slice the bread into thick slices. Top each slice with a generous helping of the corn salad. Enjoy!

The MLT, also Known as The Mushroom, Lettuce, & Tomato

Mushroom lettuce tomato

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who adored BLTs (bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich). What wasn’t to to love? There was warm and crispy bacon, as well as fresh lettuce and tomatoes, sandwiched between two toasted pieces of bread slathered with mayonnaise. I don’t think there was ever a time in life that I turned down a BLT, but now that I’m eating a mostly plant-based diet, bacon and mayonnaise don’t fit into the foods I eat. Of course, there are many ways to make vegan “bacon.” I haven’t tried any yet (I will be making coconut bacon soon), so I invented the MLT, which is stands for the mushroom, lettuce, and tomato.

Most of you are probably thinking, how can a mushroom even stand up in comparison to bacon, flavor-wise? I will admit, that bacon has its own distinct flavor, yet flavor was one element this dish was not lacking in. Both the rub on the mushrooms and the spicy guacamole I used to top the portobello with, pleased my taste buds and kept me coming back for more with each bite. I didn’t choose to put my MLT on bread, though it would have been delicious paired with freshly baked whole wheat bread.

You may think I’m nuts for changing an old favorite, but every recipe can use a little revamp every once in a while. The MLT is certainly not the same as the BLT, but taste-wise it packs as much flavor. Have you ever made any changes to the ever-popular BLT?

The Mushroom, Lettuce, & Tomato (the MLT):

*Serves 2

Ingredients: 

2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

2 large portobello mushroom caps, cleaned (gently wiped with a damp paper towel)

1/4 tsp of sea salt, freshly ground pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and cumin (for the mushrooms)

1 handful of romaine lettuce, sliced thin

1 tomato, diced

1 garlic clove, diced

1/4 tsp of sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder

1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

2-4 tbsp of guacamole (if you’re looking for a recipe, try this one, which I’ve made and enjoyed many times before)

Method:

1- Drizzle each mushroom with one teaspoon of olive oil. Then top with the spices (about 1/8 of a teaspoon of each spice on each mushroom). Then rub the mushrooms evenly coating the whole mushroom in olive oil and spices. Add the mushroom caps to a medium-large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the mushroom for about 5 minutes on each side. Heat with a cover for the last 30 seconds to one minute of cooking (if you put the cover on too soon the mushroom may become soggy). When the mushrooms are done they should be tender, but not soggy.

2- Add the tomato pieces, romaine lettuce slices, garlic, spices, and olive oil to a bowl. Stir them and then add them to the fridge until the mushrooms are done cooking.

3- When the mushrooms are finished, set them on a plate with the gills facing up. Spread guacamole on the gills (1-2 tbsp on each). Then top each mushroom with the lettuce tomato mixture and serve immediately.

Cilantro-lime Chickpea Wraps

cilantro lime salad 2

The cilantro-lime flavored chickpea filling.

You may not believe your eyes when you read the end of this sentence, but all week I have been daydreaming about eating kale. Yes, it’s true. I admit it. I’ve thought about putting it in soups, making salads with it, and adding it to wraps. I craved kale’s distinct flavor. It is slightly bitter, yet it also reminds me of the familiar taste of raw broccoli. I’ve had a bunch of curly green kale in my fridge since Sunday and I have practically been counting down the seconds until I could use it.

For some of you, this may be a feeling you can’t relate to. I don’t think many people dream about eating kale, but if you’ve become a kale-addict as I have, then this feeling wouldn’t seem too far fetched.

This crisp leafy greens were nestled in between layers of the cilantro-lime chickpea wrap I made for dinner. While kale didn’t play a starring role, its crisp texture paired well with the creamy feel of the chickpea salad. At first bite, the flavors of lime, garlic, and cilantro mingled on my tongue. In two words, for me, this salad was simply perfection. It was just what I wanted at the time, a healthy meal that didn’t sacrifice any flavor. On top of all that, it was also pretty inexpensive to make, which my wallet is still thanking me for.

cilantro lime salad 3

The final product.

Cilantro-lime Wraps:

*Serves 2 if eaten just by itself / 4 if used as a part of wraps

Ingredients: 

1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and then rinsed well

1 tomato, diced

1 avocado, halved, peeled, and diced

1 large clove of garlic, diced

1 tbsp of fresh cilantro, diced (or 1 tsp of dried)

the juice of one lime

2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and garlic powder to taste (I used about 1/4 tsp of each)

2 leaves of kale, washed and then sliced into about 1 inch strips

1/2 cup of hummus for spreading on the wraps (I used jalapeno hummus, which was delicious with the cilantro lime dressing)

4 wraps

cilantro lime salad

Method: 

1- Drain and rinse the can of garbanzo beans. Add them to a bowl with the diced tomato, avocado, cilantro, and garlic. Then add the juice of one lime, the olive oil, and seasonings. Stir well. Add more salt or pepper depending. You could just eat this salad like this or add it to a wrap. It was very tasty on its own, but as I mentioned before, I had my sights set on eating kale.

For my expert wrap-wrapping technique read on.

2- I am no expert, but this method works. Lay your wrap flat and spread it with a layer of hummus (spread it all over the wrap as it acts like a glue keeping the wrap together). Then place the kale and chickpea salad on the right half of the wrap (leaving about 1 1/2 inches of space above and below where the kale and salad is). Then fold the top and bottom edges of the wrap in towards the center and begin to roll the filled side of the wrap towards the empty side, rolling it tightly as you go. Slice and serve!

Have you been daydreaming about eating any specific foods lately?

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