Easy Italian Pasta Salad

Easy Italian Pasta Salad

Summer is busy.  BUT it’s the good busy.  Family BBQs, reunions, trips, and simply just enjoying the beautiful weather.  With all this fun, who wants to spend lots of time in the kitchen?  Not this girl!  I’m all about the quick and easy recipes during the summer.  However, doesn’t mean we need to skimp on the healthy side.  This easy Italian pasta salad is quick to throw together and will be gobbled up at any family function… including dinnertime tonight. I like to think I’m a pretty nice person, but when it comes to some things… I’m a total snob. Such as water.  I’m a total water snob.  I’m a HUGE water lover and drink around 3 liters each day.  Play one round of my health challenge and you’ll get me.  Water does not taste the same!  I have a few favorites but totally loving my alkaline ionized water from the wellness center. Just like my water, I’m pretty attached to quality ingredients.  The couple extra pennies make a HUGE difference for my tastebuds and health.  I’ll share a couple tips on how to make this salad as tasty as possible. I recently found Garfalo pasta at Costco and instantly could taste the quality.  Cheaper pastas seem to either get mushy or rubbery when cooked.  Higher quality, like Garofalo, has better flavor and texture than regular store bought pasta.  I’m hooked.  Cheap pasta… ciao! Same with mozzarella. I usually stay far far away from dairy, but I do add mozzarella to this salad.  There’s a vast difference between mozzarella quality.  You don’t have to go too crazy, but I recommend purchasing some quality mozzarella for this pasta salad....
Fresh Fruit Salad

Fresh Fruit Salad

If you want something that will be consistently devoured by your family, you’ve come to the right place.  I make a large batch of this fresh fruit salad for every family gathering and it’s a hit each time.  Who would love juicy pineapple, crisp apples, and crunchy sweet grapes? Although a 3 ingredient fresh fruit salad is quick and easy, you don’t want to skip out on my tips. First, wash your grapes and apples!  And by washing, I don’t mean rinsing with water. Scrub those babies! Here’s a post on washing vegetables where you can see the difference between washed and rinsed grapes. I’ve used a few vegetable washes in my day.  I keep coming back to Fit Fruit & Vegetable Wash.  Big BIG fan! For grapes, I pluck them and place them in a large bowl.  I pour a cap full of Fit Fruit & Vegetable Wash over the grapes and fill the bowl with cool water until all the grapes are covered.  Let them sit for about 3 to 5 minutes and use your hands to gently scrub the grapes while still in the water in a circular motion.  Drain and rinse with water. For apples, spray each apple 2 to 3 times with wash.  Scrub the apples with your hands for about 15 to 20 seconds.  While rinsing under cool water, scrub the apple with your hands until you feel the residue wash off.  You’ll oooh and aaah over how great they feel!   After you finish cutting your fresh pineapple into chunks, don’t throw away the rind just yet!  Those crisp delicious apples need the juice from the rind in order to prevent them from...
Easy Strawberry Spinach Salad

Easy Strawberry Spinach Salad

When it comes lunchtime, I’m a salad-aholic.  There’s just something about combining crisp, fresh vegetables and fruits sprinkled with a little dressing.  Since I’m usually juggling my ready-for-a-nap 2 year old while quickly preparing lunch, I forego the photo shoot and just enjoy eating.  Well, I couldn’t pass up sharing this spinach strawberry salad.  It’s quick, easy and full of flavor.  You can also adapt the salad to include your favorite ingredients.     If you haven’t tried balsamic vinegar, what are you waiting for?!?!  I fall more and more in love with its versatile flavor.  Its fabulous spicy when combined with chili powder and cayenne pepper like in my Chili Chicken Skewers or delectable with fresh lime juice like in my Balsamic Quinoa Salad.  For this easy strawberry spinach salad dressing, I combined balsamic vinegar with organic agave to make it sweet.  It’s a must buy ingredient!  I’ve enjoyed this $5 Colavita Aged Balsamic Vinegar.  It’s a great flavor for the price… trust me, balsamic vinegar can get pretty pricey.           You really can play around with this salad and make it your own.  I love to add diced Fuji apples or fresh blueberries when I don’t have fresh strawberries on hand.  You can also add crumbled blue cheese or feta (I’m staying away from soft cheeses due to my current pregnant status) or even black beans.  My husband also digs a couple grilled chicken tenders on top.  Make it your own, my friends!  You’ll never get tired of it’s incredible flavor and textures.   PrintEasy Strawberry Spinach Salad Ingredients2 large handfuls of fresh organic spinach (about...
The Classic Cobb Salad

The Classic Cobb Salad

PrintThe Classic Cobb Salad This veggie and protein packed salad is a perfect post-workout lunch.Ingredients1 large Romaine lettuce leaf, washed and chopped 1 large Red lettuce leaf, washed and chopped 1/2 cup frozen sweet corn, rinsed with warm water 1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed well 1 cup cherry tomatoes, washed and cut in half 1/2 large avocado, sliced 1 large egg, hard broiled and sliced (optional) 2 medium green onions, chopped (optional) 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar 2 Tbs olive oil 1 Tbs fresh lime juiceInstructionsOn a large plate, evenly distribute chopped lettuce across plate. Layer the corn, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, egg, and green onions as pictured or toss ingredients together and spoon over lettuce. Mix together balsamic vinegar, oil, and lime juice. Pour evenly over salad. Notes*If you like a more creamy dressing instead of the vinaigrette, try my Avocado Ranch Dressing...
Balsamic Quinoa Salad

Balsamic Quinoa Salad

Whether you’re preparing lunch, dinner, or a family BBQ, this simple quinoa salad will be a hit!  I have no self control when I make this killer quinoa salad and end up eating it with every meal until it’s gone.  Okay, sometimes it’s just my meal.  It’s tangy, zesty Balsamic dressing with lots of soft and crunchy textures make it pretty irresistible.     Quinoa has become more and more popular recently.  There’s a good reason why.  This super grain is power-packed with protein, fiber, iron, and other vitamins and minerals.  My favorite quinoa to purchase is truRoots Organic Quinoa.  I purchase a 4 lb bag which lasts at least 6 months or longer.   Since quinoa has a mild flavor and rice-like texture, I love throwing in a 1/2 cup when cooking rice.  No one will ever know you did!  Try it out with my Sesame Ginger Chicken Stir-fry recipe.  Don’t forget to let me know if you were able to health-punk your family.  I love hearing about successes!       Balsamic vinegar can cost anywhere from a few dollars up to $400!  As you can see, not all Balsamic vinegar are created equal.  I’m not a wine drinker (or any drinker for that matter besides water), but I imagine the concept to be similar.  The longer a bottle ages, the more expensive and better quality.  Fortunately for us who can’t afford a $400 bottle of vinegar, this $5 Colavita Aged Balsamic Vinegar has great flavor.  I also really like the thicker, creamier texture of this Trader Joe’s Balsamic Glaze.  It will create a thicker dressing, but absolutely to...

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