Better Bites

My experiments in healthy eating, cooking, and living

Archive for the tag “Leafy Greens”

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 goods that didn’t actually end up tasting good.

I made this watermelon kale salad 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).

At this point, I’ve officially given up trying to bake dessert 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 favorite 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


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)


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


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


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.


Green Beans with a Ginger Sauce

Asian Green Beans

These ginger-flavored green beans were served on a bed of kale and white jasmine rice.


Upon tasting the crisp beans, the flavor of ginger stood out the most. The soy sauce added a bit of salt and cut the sweetness of the agave. There isn’t one reason I won’t make this again.

*Recipe for the rice and kale is not included here, but I seasoned the rice with with a little garlic powder, salt, and pepper. I also added a bit of Earth Balance buttery spread to it. The kale was made the same way, but I also added some fresh minced garlic when I steamed the kale.

Asian Green Beans 2

Green Beans with Ginger Sauce:

*Serves two as a side or main dish (if you make the rice and kale to go alongside the beans)


1 tsp of sesame oil (plus a little more for drizzling)

3-4 cups of fresh green beans, ends trimmed off

1 tbsp of water

1 – 2 tsp of freshly grated ginger

1 1/2 tsp of soy sauce

1 1/2 tsp of agave nectar

1/4 tsp of freshly grated pepper and garlic powder


Add the sesame oil to a frying pan or pot on medium heat. When the oil is heated add the beans. Stir them around and coat them in the oil, then put a lid on the pot and let the beans cook for about 5 minutes. After five minutes, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well (at this time you can drizzle a bit more oil on if you would like – about a teaspoon of sesame oil). Add the lid back onto the pot and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes or until the beans are still crisp, but slightly more tender. Serve immediately and top with sesame seeds if you like. Enjoy!

Lentil, Kale, & Carrot Dal

Lentil, Kale, & Carrot Dal

I’ve come to love making and eating dal. It is such a simple dish with so many delicious variations. This recipe was no different. The carrots gave the dal a crunchy texture, while the baked potato and roasted tomatoes gave a much softer feel. The slightly spicy flavor of the curry was balanced out by the sweet flavor of the carrots and tomatoes. This dish was simple to make, healthy, and provided a good amount of leftovers, which I always look forward to having at lunch. If you have any favorite dal recipes, please post them below! What is your favorite ingredient combination when making dal?

Lentil, Kale, & Carrot Dal: 

Serves 2-4 (depending on the amount of potatoes you bake)


2 – 4 potatoes (depending on the number of people you intend to serve), washed

1/2 cup of red lentils, rinsed

2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil (plus a tad bit more for drizzling over each potato)

1 large garlic clove, diced

1-2 large handfuls of kale, washed and diced into about 1 inch pieces

1-2 carrots, diced

1 can of roasted & diced tomatoes

1 tsp of curry powder

1/2 tsp of turmeric

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


1- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Then wash and dry the potatoes. Poke a slit into each potato and bake them for about forty five minutes to an hour (poke a fork or knife in them to see if they are tender).

2- Meanwhile, slice and dice all of the vegetables and put a medium sized pot filled 3/4 of the way with water on the stove over medium high heat. When the water begins to boil, add the lentils. Let them cook for about 7-10 minutes or until they are tender (you don’t want to overcook red lentils, as they tend to break apart easily if overcooked).

3- When the potatoes have been in the oven for about 40 minutes, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot add the garlic. When the garlic begins to brown on the edges, add the kale and carrot pieces. Stir every few minutes.

4- After about 8 minutes (when the kale is tender – the carrots will still be crunchy), add the roasted tomatoes, lentils, and all of the spices. Stir well. Heat for about another five minutes or until all of the flavors are combined.

5- Hollow out a hole (with a diameter of about 2 inches) in each baked potato. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil over each, as well as a dash of salt and pepper. Serve the dal inside each potato. Enjoy!

Some Seriously Mean Green Quinoa

Mean Green Quinoa

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. That is a heart-shaped serving of quinoa. You may be wondering why? I was thinking, well why not? My grandma had also recently passed down a few cookie cutters to me. A wave of nostalgia washed over me as she handed them to me. I kept seeing flashbacks to when I was a kid. I was remembering the old copper colored jello molds she used to have and then remembering all the fun shaped jello treats I ate. I also began to think back about her old house and all the memories that were created there. Many of them centered around food.

These molds brought up wonderful thoughts of a time when molded jello really could make my day, which eventually led me to serve my mean green quinoa in the shape of a heart. As I have some new molds, you can expect more fun-shaped food in the future. What food memories come to mind when you think of your childhood?

Seriously Green Quinoa:

*Serves 2


3/4 cup of quinoa, rinsed

1 tsp of olive oil (for sauteing the veggies) + about 2 tsp for the quinoa

1/2 a red onion, diced

1 garlic clove, diced

1 zucchini diced

1 – 2 large handfuls of spinach

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

1/2 cup of cucumber, diced

1/2 tsp of dried basil or 1 tbsp of freshly diced basil

1 lemon, juiced

2 tbsp of pine nuts


1- After rinsing the quinoa, add it to a pot with  one and a half cups of water. Heat it over medium high heat. When it begins to boil, turn down the heat to medium low and let it simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is soft and fluffy.

2- While the quinoa is cooking, add the red onion to a frying pan with the olive oil. Sautee it for 3-4 minutes before adding the garlic. When the garlic begins to brown around the edges add the zucchini. Also add the spices (pepper, salt, and garlic powder) at this time. When the zucchini begins to soften, add the spinach. Take it off the heat after about 2 minutes or when the spinach has wilted down.

3- Add the extra olive oil to the quinoa (after it’s finished), as well as the basil and lemon juice. I also added a little more salt and pepper at this point. Stir well and then add in all of the veggies including the cucumber. Also throw in the pine nuts at this point, then stir and serve!

Spaghetti Squash Pasta

Spaghetti squash pasta

Tasty? Yes. Easy? Yes. Healthy? Yes. This recipe fulfilled all of my weeknight meal wants. It tasted good, it was simple to make, and it filled me up. The garlic and basil added flavor to the entire dish, while the mushrooms, tomato, and spinach added a variety of textures.

Spaghetti squash pasta 2

Spaghetti squash pasta:

*Serves 4-6


1 medium to large spaghetti squash, halved with the seeds removed

2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil for the veggies + 2 tsp  for the squash

2 large garlic cloves, diced

1 1/2 cups of sliced baby bella mushrooms

1 cup of grape tomatoes, halved

2-3 handfuls of spinach, washed and dried

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, and garlic powder + more for the spaghetti squash (use about the same amount to season the squash)

2 tbsp fresh basil, sliced


1- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the spaghetti squash halves face down on a cookie sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until they are tender.

2- After about thirty minutes of baking the squash, heat olive oil in a frying pan. Then add the garlic. After about 1-2 minutes or when the garlic is beginning to brown around the sides, add the mushrooms. After about 5 minutes, add the tomatoes. Let them soften for about 2 minutes. Then add the spinach and seasonings. Let the spinach cook down and take it off the heat once it’s cooked and add the basil. Stir well.

3- When the squash is done, use a fork to scrape out the spaghetti-like pieces into a serving bowl. Add the extra olive oil and season with some salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then toss in the vegetables and serve. Bon appetit!

Cool as a Cucumber “Green” Smoothie

cucumber smoothie

It’s the simple pleasures that matter most in life. The things that bring you joy each day. What are some of the simple pleasures you enjoy most? For me, some of those things include walking my dogs on a beautiful morning, enjoying the fresh spring air, chatting with friends, gardening, and smoothies.

I’ve been on a smoothie-kick for a couple of months and now I’m hooked. I feel so good after drinking them that I just can’t stop, not to mention that making smoothies gives me another opportunity to sneak more leafy greens into my diet.

The sun beamed down on the exposed skin on my arms, as I walked the dogs on this bright spring morning. I created a cooling “green” smoothie with a purple hue to combat the warm air outside. The cucumber flavor was very subtle. Stronger flavors of blueberry and banana masked any flavor of kale (which isn’t something I’d like to taste first thing in the morning). This felt like a definite pick-me-up on a morning where I felt more tired than usual. Read on for a refreshing drink recipe.

Cool as a cucumber “green” smoothie recipe:

*Inspired by Kris Carr’s favorite green smoothie recipe, which she discussed during The Food Revolution Summit  – many of the ingredients in this smoothie are ones she listed as some of her favorite smoothie ingredients

*Serves 1


1 1/4 cup of nondairy milk for a thinner smoothie or 1 cup for a thicker drink (I used unsweetened almond milk)

1 tbsp of ground flax seed

1 tsp of chia seeds, ground

1/2 cup of diced cucumber

1 handful of leafy greens (I used kale)

1/2 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries

1 banana, peeled and broken into quarters (for a colder smoothie freeze banana pieces first)


1- Add the ingredients to the blender in the order they appear and blend until smooth. Drink immediately.

Do you have any go to or favorite smoothie recipes? If so, feel free to post them in the comments section!


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


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


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?

Quinoa with Kale and a Balsamic Dressing

kale quinoa
To feed my growing quinoa addiction, I made quinoa with kale and baby bella mushrooms. At first bite, I felt the texture of the slightly still crisp curly kale, the softness of the mushrooms, and the roundness of the cooked quinoa seeds. The flavors of garlic and the hearty baby bella mushrooms mingled on my tongue, but I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing flavor-wise. Don’t get me wrong, this vegan dish was good, but it just didn’t have that quality that makes a recipe great. I had a little bit of leftover balsamic vinegar dressing I’d made for that night’s salad, just sitting on the table. On a whim, I drizzled a little bit of dressing over the steaming quinoa and took a bite. There it was, that flavor combination I hungered for. And so, this kale and quinoa salad topped with balsamic vinaigrette was born. Read on for the recipe.
Ingredients for quinoa with kale and baby bella mushrooms: 
1 cup of quinoa
1/2 tbsp of olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large clove of garlic, diced
2 handfuls of kale, sliced into about 1-2 inch pieces
1 cup of baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp of sea salt
1/4 tsp of garlic powder, pepper, and red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Ingredients for the balsamic dressing: 
1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp of sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder
1/2 tsp of oregano flakes
1/4 cup of olive oil
Add the quinoa to a sauce pan with two cups of water. Heat over medium-high heat. When it begins to boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer over medium-low until all of the water is absorbed. While the quinoa is cooking, chop all of the vegetables.
 Heat olive oil in a frying pan. When the pan is hot, add the onion. Let the onion cook for 3-5 minutes, then add the diced garlic. When the garlic begins to brown around the edges, add the portobello mushroom slices and the kale. Stir in the spices at this time also.
As the veggies are cooking, make the dressing. Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing except for the olive oil. Whisk the ingredients together, then very SLOWLY add the olive oil as you continue to whisk.
When the quinoa is done, add the other half tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and the vegetables. Mix well. Finish by drizzling the balsamic vinaigrette over the quinoa.
What do you like to pair with quinoa? Feel free to post any of your favorite quinoa recipes below!

Ginger Couscous Topped With a Vegan Asian Stir Fry

cous cous cafe

The aromas of ginger and garlic took over my little yellow kitchen after making a ginger and garlic couscous topped with an Asian vegetable stir fry, which sat upon seasoned ground tofu. A mixture of bok choy, portobello mushrooms, and diced organic yellow bell pepper pieces were topped with a slightly spicy sauce made of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and minced ginger. All of the flavors and textures combined to create this perfectly balanced couscous dish.

While I was making tonight’s stir fry recipe, I couldn’t help but think of the CousCous Cafe. Like this Asian dish, that meal also promised a unique blend of flavors and textures. It was a night that I haven’t ever forgotten. A night that included too many glasses of red wine, tender chicken tagine served with apricots, girlish banter, and the night of my first Moroccan meal, as well as my first time trying couscous.

The atmosphere was just as memorable as the meal. The place was cozy. After coming down a set of concrete stairs adjacent to the sidewalk, we were surrounded by tiny patio-like tables for two, colorful lanterns that hung from the ceiling, and light conversation.

Thinking about that night, now, is bittersweet. I miss the charming cafe, London, traveling, and Paris with its deadly pain au chocolat. That overseas trip took place in the spring of 2009. It was then that I was inspired to find a way to leave my awful corporate job in search of a career I was more passionate about. This is a decision that has forever changed my life and while I have a new career, I can’t help but think about my end goal which is to have my own food establishment (possibly a vegan bakery?). I’m not sure yet, I just know that I never feel more alive than when I work with food. I love serving it to people, cooking and baking it, and the satisfaction from tasting something delicious.

It all comes back to food. You have the CousCous Cafe to thank for this rambling post about charming restaurants, favorite meals, and inspiration. Think back to a time when you had a deliciously indescribable meal at a restaurant. Where were you? What were you eating? What made the meal amazing? Read on for the recipe for ginger couscous topped with an Asian stir fry.

Ingredients for ginger couscous: 

*Serves 2-4 (with the stir fry) / cook and prep time: about 10 minutes

1 cup of whole grain couscous

1 tbsp of sesame oil

1 garlic clove, diced

1 tsp of ginger, diced or grated

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

1/4 to 1/2 of an organic bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup of scallions, sliced


1- Boil 1 cup of water in a pot. As soon as the water begins boiling, add the couscous, ginger, garlic, and spices. Take it off the heat. Stir it and then let it sit with the cover on for about 5 minutes.

2- Meanwhile, dice the bell pepper and scallions. As soon as the couscous is done, fluff it with a fork and stir in the scallions and bell pepper. Top with stir fry mixture.

Ingredients for the Asian stir fry with the vegan crumble topping:

*cook and prep time: 20 minutes

2 tbsp of sesame oil (1 tablespoon for the tofu crumble and another for the veggie mixture)

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 package of original Lightlife’s Smart Ground Original Crumbles

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes

1 clove of garlic, diced

1 head of baby bok choy, sliced into 1 inch pieces (and about 1/4 inch pieces for the thick white stem)

1/2 of an organic bell pepper, diced small (about 1/4 inch pieces)

1 portobello mushroom, diced small

1/2 tsp of ginger, grated or minced

1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes, black pepper, and garlic powder

1/2 tsp of sesame seeds

1 tbsp of hoisin sauce

1 tbsp of soy sauce


1- Heat one tablespoon of sesame oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Then dice the yellow onion. Add it to the frying pan. Let it soften and then add the crumbles. Break them up. Add the spices and take the mixture off of the heat after its started to brown.

2- After removing the crumbles from the pan, add the rest of the sesame oil to the pan. Dice the garlic clove and then add it to the pan. While the garlic is heating, chop the bok choy. Add it to the frying pan as soon as the garlic begins to brown around the edges.

3- Chop the mushroom and bell pepper. Add those to the pan with the spices and sesame seeds. Grate some ginger and throw that in too.

4- When the veggie mixture begins to soften, but the peppers are still slightly crisp, add the soy and hoisin sauce. Stir and then take it off the heat. Serve the stir fry vegetables on top of the crumbles and couscous. Enjoy!

Feel free to share any of your favorite stir fry or couscous recipes below.


A Savory Pecan, Goat Cheese, & Roasted Beet Salad

pecan goat cheese salad

On Easter Sunday, I stood in line staring at the mountains of homemade food in front of me. For our holiday dinner, I decided to bring a goat cheese and roasted beet salad. My plate was full of colorful vegetables by the time I arrived at the table. Aside from roast, honey baked ham, and rosemary seasoned lamb, there was also honey-flavored carrots, mashed and sweet potatoes, and roasted asparagus. I loaded my plate with asparagus, my spinach salad dressed in balsamic vinaigrette,  carrots, and sweet potatoes. I didn’t miss having meat in the least bit. I admit it, I’m a plant eater and I love it! Read on for a salad recipe that my family members raved about.

Ingredients for balsamic vinaigrette: 

2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp of salt and pepper (adjust to taste)

1/8 tsp of oregano and garlic powder

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 – 3/4 cups of olive oil

Ingredients for  pecan, goat cheese, & roasted beet salad:

1/2 cup of pecans, roughly chopped

1 tbsp of olive oil

1/4 tsp of salt

1 1/2 tbsp of honey

1/2 of a red onion, finely sliced (lengthwise)

4-5 handfuls of spinach, washed and dried

1/2 cup of goat cheese crumbles

3-4 beets, sliced thin


1- Add the vinegar, spices, and minced garlic to a bowl. Whisk the ingredients together and then very slowly add the olive oil as you whisk the dressing.

2- After making the dressing, set it aside and heat a half of the olive oil in a frying pan. Then add the chopped pecans to the pan. Drizzle the honey on the nuts and then add the salt. Stir it up and toast the pecans for about 5 minutes over medium heat.

3- When the pecans are finished, set them aside and reheat the skillet with the other half of the olive oil. When it is heated, add the finely sliced red onion. Sautee until the onion caramelizes. Then let the onion cool with the pecans.

4- Slice the roasted beets and wash the spinach. Add both ingredients to a serving bowl with the vinaigrette dressing (use as much of the dressing as you like). Throw in the sauteed onions and goat cheese. Toss together and you have yourself a fantastic salad!

Wife, Mother, Maker made delicious looking vegan quinoa, beet, and spinach salad that looks delicous and uses similar ingredients. What have you made recently that you couldn’t help but rave about?

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