Taco Bowls with Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch

Taco Bowls with Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch

I’ve had this one planned for awhile now. Every few months, I’d glance at my upcoming list of potential recipes and start salivating over the idea of this summer taco salad. I love summer, I love tacos, and I really really love salads, so here we go!

Instead of taco meat, I mix red quinoa and black beans with lime juice, chili powder, smoked paprika, and a touch of maple syrup – all of this helps create a bit of a smoky flavor. Quick tip: keep this quinoa mix on hand in the fridge to build lunchtime salad bowls throughout the week.

Taco Bowls with Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch

Now onto the “ranch” sauce – I used blanched, slivered almonds (unpeeled almonds work best and it’s not fun to peel almonds yourself), Almond Breeze Almondmilk, cucumber, lime juice, jalapeño, and spices. It makes the perfect cool, creamy ranch-like sauce.

Jack and I had a long argument about whether this tastes similar to “authentically” bottled ranch dressing. He said “it tastes more like tzaziki because of the cucumber” and I said “that’s the COOL part about cool ranch.” The argument came to an abrupt, unsatisfying end when Jack found a bottle of ranch dressing in the back of my parent’s fridge that expired last December that we both refused to try. I continued on, and once the taco bowls were assembled with this creamy vegan ranch-ish sauce, we were both very happy.

Taco Bowls with Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch Taco Bowls with Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch

This recipe has a few components – but all of them can be made in advance: the sauce, the quinoa – even the baked tortilla strips.

Taco Bowls with Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch

You can assemble your bowls however you like – I use chopped romaine lettuce, fresh raw corn kernels, chopped tomato, and tons of cilantro.

The sauce recipe makes extra – store it in the fridge and put it on more bowls, in tacos, or use it as a dip for raw vegetables.

Taco Bowls with Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch

Heirloom Tomato Bean-LT Sandwiches

Heirloom Tomato Bean-LT Sandwiches

I love a faux BLT, especially during this time of the year when the T’s are in top form. Admittedly, I was never a bacon lover so just putting veggie things between bread is fine with me. My favorite version of a BLT sandwich is the crispy Shiitake BLT that’s on page 171 in the cookbook (it’s the closest to the real deal!). I also love this smoky marinated tempeh as the “meat.”

But this time, as I was deciding whether or not to “bacon” some coconut, Jack had the idea to call this a Bean-LT. The B in this version is the Bean spread that I used here instead of mayo.

This white bean spread is thick and tangy. It’s made with pureed cannellini beans, lemon, capers, and garlic – all ingredients that go well with fresh tomatoes, avocado, lettuce, and grainy Whole Foods Market Seeduction® bread. A few pinches of smoked paprika add a little smokiness to this otherwise very fresh sandwich.

A Festive Fruit Salad with Lemon & Ginger

A Festive Fruit Salad with Lemon & Ginger

My best 4th of July memories are all about watermelon and pool parties. When I was younger, we used to go to the community pool and they hosted this relay race game where you’d swim across the pool trying to push a slippery watermelon with you. It was harder than you think, especially when you’re a little kid. Afterward they’d cut up the watermelon for all the kids to eat. Between the splashy water and the watermelon juices, well, it was all a big fun slippery summery mess.

All of these thoughts of watermelon made me immediately think “fruit salad,” followed by the realization that I never even posted a fruit salad on this site! I have salads with fruit in them, but this one is a salad that’s really all about the fruit. It’s pepped up with a lemon-gingery dressing, fresh herbs, and a few soft mozzarella cheese balls.

You may notice that I got a little crafty and cut my melons into star shapes – I used a 2-inch cookie cutter and I promise it wasn’t as fussy as it might seem :). Of course, you could just use a melon baller to save some time (and fun).

Happy long weekend!

Cucumber Mango Miso Noodle Bowls

Cucumber Mango Miso Noodle Bowls

A few weeks ago, while I was making a list of potential upcoming summer recipes, I asked Jack “hey, what’s a recipe you really want me to make?” In the past, answers to questions like that are usually “pretzels!” or “pizza!” but this time it was “an asian noodle salad.” I asked if he could be more specific but he said “I just really really love noodles – you know, when they’re tossed in an asian-ey kind of dressing.” Not a huge help, but at least it was something.

So on a Monday when I felt I could use a little reset after weekend-eating, his idea (with a ginger-y sauce) sounded pretty good. This recipe is not an authentic version of anything, but when I got around to making said “asian noodle salad,” this was what I happened to have: a bunch of cucumbers, a ripe mango, a few limes, a jalapeño, and a bunch of mint. At first, I wanted to add peppers, cabbage, and everything colorful, but then I realized that I could make something delicious without tossing in the kitchen sink.

Cucumber Mango Miso Noodle Bowls

The tangy miso-peanut sauce is the real star – it’s also become a go-to recipe lately because its ingredients are so easy to keep on hand. Miso paste lasts about 1 year in the fridge and I store my fresh ginger in the freezer. Peanut butter, garlic, limes, are all regulars around here.

The second time I made this recipe, I served it to my family and added tofu on top to make it a bigger meal – the tofu is not pictured here, but I’ve included a recipe below. This recipe serves 3 on its own or 4 if you add the tofu (or whatever protein you like – chicken, shrimp, salmon, etc).

If you don’t have vermicelli rice noodles, brown rice stir fry noodles (the flat, thicker noodles) work well here. Pasta would also be fine in a pinch.

Cucumber Mango Miso Noodle Bowls

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

Summer has officially begun this week – and we’re making mojitos!

I hope your herb garden is ready because instead of the basic mint mojito, these are made with lemongrass and basil as well. Basically, I like to build cocktails the same way I approach salads – the more fresh herbs and citrus, the better.

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

To make these “skinny,” I skipped the sugar and sweetened these with Truvia Natural Sweetener instead. It has no calories and it’s sweetness comes from the stevia leaf. Personally, I’d rather splurge on a dessert than on a sugary cocktail so I love that these mojitos are on the lighter side! Since stevia is sweeter than regular sugar, a little goes a long way. 1/2 teaspoon of Truvia is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

For awhile, I was intimidated by preparing lemongrass – but it’s so easy! Just peel off the outer leaves, exposing the softer part of the stalk, like this:

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

The next step isn’t pictured, but you want to take the back of your chef’s knife and bash that inner stalk so that the flavors of the lemongrass release. After that, dice it finely like this:

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

Muddle the minced lemongrass with the rest of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker – then shake it up and pour!

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos