DIY Wednesday: Basil Salad Dressing

FriendsDIY Wednesday: Basil Salad Dressing | Life Healthfully Lived, I’m ready to admit something.

I’m kind of having a love affair with basil.   I know, I know.  It’s just a summer fling, but I can’t get enough of the stuff.  It smells so good, looks so pretty, and tastes phenomenal.  Even better, it makes any food I put in my mouth taste phenomenal.

I got into the fresh basil game a little late this summer because for most of the summer we were gone every weekend and I couldn’t get to the farmer’s market and I was not going to pay over $3 for the tiny little packages at the store.  But this past month we have made it to the market and one stand there sells fresh herbs of all kind and I can get a whole bunch of basil for $2.  Naturally I load up on it and come home and make all the basil things.

Besides the obvious pesto (which I have like 3 jars of right now) I have been making basil and lemon oil, and this dressing.  I have swooned about this dressing a few times over on Instagram so  I thought that I would share it with you guys.DIY Wednesday: Basil Salad Dressing | Life Healthfully Lived

I’ve talked about making your own salad dressing before and I think it’s the best money and health saving switch you can make.  Making your own salad dressing is SO simple and you get to control the ingredients.  Store bought dressing is full of preservatives and you’re paying a lot of money to ingest those things.

So why not make your own?  This literally comes together in the touch of a blender button and BAM, you have a delicious, basil-filled dressing ready to go on salad, over vegetables, or straight into your mouth with a straw.  Which I’ve never done…

Basil Salad DressingDIY Wednesday: Basil Salad Dressing | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 1 cup loosely packed, whole basil leaves
  • 2 tsp roasted garlic or 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk (you could also use almond milk)
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  1. Ready for this?  Put everything into a blender and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week…. if it lasts that long.

I love one step recipes almost as much as I love basil.  See how easy it is to make dressing?  You can even switch up the herbs you do and use parsley, dill, or cilantro.  Whatever your little heart desires! DIY Wednesday: Basil Salad Dressing | Life Healthfully Lived

5 Things That Have Found Their Way Into My Kitchen

It might come as a shock to you, but sometimes I get stuck in food ruts.  I usually make the same thing for dinner during the week so that I can keep Adam and I on track with healthy meals and I can keep our food costs down.  But the other reason is that I can get lazy.  Sometimes the idea of coming up with something new and delicious just makes me tired.  So it’s easy to rely on the same old favorites in the kitchen and not venture into new territory.

While there is nothing wrong with preparing the same food that you know you like and you know is healthy and works for your body, it does get a little boring after awhile.  Boredom, as least for me, only leads to bad things in the area of food.  Soon I start eating more and more to feel satisfied because the meals I’m eating are the same old same old.  When that happens I know it’s time to switch things up and throw some new tricks into my old routine.

Here are some things that I have added to my kitchen and pantry in hopes of shaking things up and keeping my meals healthy and fun!

P.A.N- Pre-cooked White Corn Meal5 Things That Have Found Their Way Into My Kitchen | Life Healthfully Lived

If you follow me on Instagram (which you should, I’m fun), then you have heard me rave about this.  Actually you have heard me rave about arepas which are made from pre-cooked corn meal.  I have seen arepas on other bloggers feeds and seen them on shows like Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  Every time I see them being made, I’m like, “Those look amazing, I need to try them myself.”  So I finally got this flour to make my own arepas.  Yes, you have to use pre-cooked corn meal not regular corn meal.  This was the brand that was recommended everywhere I looked, and I found it on Amazon for like $2.  Expect an arepa recipe soon because not only is it delicious, it is way easier to make than you would think.

Figs

5 Things That Have Found Their Way Into My Kitchen | Life Healthfully Lived

This is another thing that I constantly see on social media and yet I have never tried them.  Well, I have never tried fresh figs.  I have had dried figs and fig newtons if you can count those as actual figs.  But the fresh version was never on my radar. They have a very short season and I just happened to see them on sale at my Jewel so I picked some up on a whim.  They are really good!  I think I might have to try making some fig jam with them so I can enjoy them just a little bit longer.

Canned Coconut Milk5 Things That Have Found Their Way Into My Kitchen | Life Healthfully Lived

Ok, this isn’t a new one for me, but I had forgotten about it for awhile.  I used to get a couple of cans of coconut milk a week and use them in soups and stews and oatmeal and baked goods.  It’s really nice and creamy, so it works great as a substitute for things like heavy cream or whole milk.  My favorite thing to do with it lately is make creamy herb dressings/sauces, which I used on my pasta salad recipe last week and which leads me to the next thing….

Fresh Herbs5 Things That Have Found Their Way Into My Kitchen | Life Healthfully Lived

Another one that isn’t new, but that I had put on the back burner.  I usually pick up a bunch of cilantro each week, but one stand at my farmer’s market sells every fresh herb known to man.  I have started getting fresh basil, dill, parsley, cilantro, and lemon grass and using them in all the things.  Seriously, go get some fresh herbs and put them in your meals.  They enhance the flavor and bring a wonderful freshness to boring old dishes.  Throw some basil into a frittata or blend in some parsley with meat/lentil loaf.  It will up your dinner game and everyone will think you’re a culinary whiz.  You can also freeze, turn them into oil, or sauces to have them on hand for the winter months.

Trader Joes5 Things That Have Found Their Way Into My Kitchen | Life Healthfully Lived

We have a Trader Joes in our neighborhood, but I always forget about it because it isn’t in my usual rotation of grocery stores.  That needs to change because I went there on Friday to find shaved brussels sprouts (another Instagram phenom) and remembered why I love Trader Joes.  They have good food for a decent price.  Plus I found these dark chocolate covered espresso beans for Adam that he has become obsessed with at work.  Brussels sprouts and chocolate.  Yup, good combo.5 Things That Have Found Their Way Into My Kitchen | Life Healthfully Lived

Long story short, don’t be afraid to branch out of your food comfort zone.  It can get so easy to make the same things over and over and over… but even just a little change can add some pizzazz and flavor back into your meals.  Plus there are plenty of healthy options out there to make dinnertime tasty and nutritious.

What are some things that have turned your kitchen game around?

Key Lime Popsicles

IKey Lime Popsicles | Life Healthfully Lived am excited about this one you guys.  One of my favorite desserts is key lime pie.  I love the tanginess of the lime and the fact that it isn’t overly sweet.  And key lime cheesecake?  Forget about it.  Creamy, tangy, limey goodness.

Back in the day, my family would go to this restaurant called Omega.  They were a greek place (duh, their name is Omega) and they had all the food.  Seriously so much food.  You could get a whole 3-course dinner which would include soup/salad, an entree, and then dessert.  You could also order a la carte, but who would do that?  Crazy people that’s who.  Anyways, back to the 3-course feast.  They had a huge dessert counter and big glass cases that would display hundreds of cookies, cakes, and pies.  After our dinner, my sister and I would run to the dessert counter to choose what we were going to get.  I would make the obligatory lap around the cases, but I already knew what I was going to get.  A big slice of key lime cheesecake.  It always hit the spot and no matter how full I was from my massive dinner, I had a little room for that cheesecake.

Key Lime Popsicles | Life Healthfully Lived

I haven’t had key lime pie or cheesecake in many years, but I still crave that tangy goodness especially around summer.  I decided it was high time that I made a key lime dessert that would satisfy my craving without being totally decadent.

My one hurdle was the sweetened condensed milk.  That is one of the key ingredients in key lime pie and there was no way I was including it in my “healthy” version.  I thought about doing just plain coconut milk and leaving it at that, which would certainly work.  But I decided to take it a step further and made a coconut condensed milk.

Key Lime Popsicles | Life Healthfully Lived

Bingo.

This key lime popsicle is cool, creamy, slightly sweet, and wonderfully tangy.  It passed the husband test (although I handed it to him right as he was in the middle of a video game. Gamer wife fail) and he ate it with glee.  It also doesn’t require a ton of ingredients and once you make the condensed milk, it takes like 2 minutes to put together.  After that, all you have to do is wait for it to freeze…

Key Lime Popsicles

Key Lime Popsicles | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, unsweetened
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup lime juice (I used 2/3 but I like it very tangy, use less if you don’t want it as tart)
  • 1 tsp grated lime zestKey Lime Popsicles | Life Healthfully Lived
  1. Shake your can of coconut milk well and pour into a medium saucepan.  Bring to a low boil over medium heat stirring occasionally.
  2. Once the milk is at a boil, whisk in the maple syrup or honey and keep at a low simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn’t scald.  The milk should get a little thicker and reduce down just  a little.
  3. Remove from heat and pour into another bowl and let it cool completely.  Once it’s cool add in lime juice and zest.  Stir it all together.
  4. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds and let them freeze for at least 2 hours, overnight if you can.  If you don’t have popsicle molds you can use an ice cube tray and toothpicks or dixie cups and popsicle sticks.  Key Lime Popsicles | Life Healthfully Lived

DIY Wednesday: Coconut Whip Cream

FullDIY Wednesday: Coconut Whip Cream | Life Healthfully Lived Disclosure:  I do NOT like whip cream.  I know, I know, I’m not American, but it’s a texture thing for me.  For some reason, I don’t like the way whip cream feels in my mouth.  Yes, I’m a weirdo and I’m ok with that.

Second Full Disclosure: I did NOT come up with this recipe.  There are plenty of blogs/websites out there that have this recipe but I wanted to share it with you guys to show you how easy it is to make your own whip cream.

When you think about it, the method to this is right there in the name.  You are just whipping cream.  Fresh whipped cream can be a beautifully simple thing and it’s fun to watch cream turn into something light and fluffy.  Unfortunately, many people rely mostly on cans or tubs of whip cream and that’s where things get messy.

Fresh whip cream is meant to be eaten right away and not stored for a long period of time.  In order to make the whip cream sold in stores have a longer shelf life, chemicals and preservatives are added.  Things like stabilizers, gums, sugar are all used to make sure you can use your whipped cream for a long period of time.  Luckily, it’s really easy to make your own whipped cream and you don’t have to add any questionable ingredients.  This recipe is even better because those of you who have/choose to avoid dairy can still enjoy this dessert topping.

Add it to berries for a simple dessert, try it on top of your favorite cobbler or crisp, put some in your yogurt and create a parfait, or use it on your banana split.  You can use this whip cream just like store bought and feel better about the ingredients and the cost!

DIY Coconut Whip Cream

DIY Wednesday: Coconut Whip Cream | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 1 can full fat unsweetened coconut milk, chilled overnight in the fridge
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  •  1 tsp vanilla extract, optional
  1. Place your can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight so it can chill and create the cream.

    DIY Wednesday: Coconut Whip Cream | Life Healthfully Lived

    Pour off that liquid on the top…

  2. Open the can from the bottom and pour out the liquid into a cup or bowl and set aside.  Scoop out the cream and place into a large bowl or into the bowl of your mixer.  Add in the maple syrup and optional vanilla extract.

    DIY Wednesday: Coconut Whip Cream | Life Healthfully Lived

    …and scoop out the cream on the bottom.

  3. Using a hand mixer, immersion blender, or stand mixer, whip the coconut cream until it is light and fluffy.
  4. Use the whipped cream right away. It will last a few hours in the fridge but not much longer than that.DIY Wednesday: Coconut Whip Cream | Life Healthfully Lived

What is your favorite thing to top with whip cream?

Recipe: Popcorn Clusters

Friday.Recipe: Popcorn Clusters  I can hear the collective sigh of all you hardworking people!  I know that this week has been crazy busy for me and I am really glad that the weekend is almost here.

Adam and I are actually going to his aunt’s wedding today in Waukegan so our weekend is going to start a little early.  But I did want to make sure I gave you guys something yummy to make over the weekend.  I’m always thinking of you like that!

This is just a quick snack I threw together because I randomly had leftover popcorn.  I know, weird right?  Who has leftover popcorn?  Anyway, I was going for a healthy popcorn ball but that did not happen at all.  Luckily what did happen is a fairly tasty treat/snack.  It’s always great when your mistakes turn into delicious things.  Don’t you wish that would happen in real life?  Like don’t worry about messing up that interview, it’s now a plate of cookies!  That would be awesome.  Oh well, maybe someday…. Ok enough babbling onto the snack!

Popcorn Clusters

Recipes: Popcorn Clusters

  • 1 1/2 cup popped popcorn
  • 2/3 cup assorted nuts and seeds (I used pecans, almonds, and pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp tahini or almond butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  1. In a medium bowl mix together the nuts, seeds, and chocolate.  Set aside and line a muffin tin with liners.  Place about 2 tbsp popcorn in each liner.  Sprinkle a little of the nut/seed/chocolate mix over this.
  2. Place the oil and maple syrup in a medium saucepan and place over medium high heat.  Heat until the mixture is just bubbling and then add in the tahini or almond butter.  Stir to combine and heat for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Turn of the heat and stir in the cinnamon and salt and then moving quickly pour about a tablespoon over each muffin liner.
  4. Once all the tahini mixture is used up, move the popcorn clusters to the freezer and freeze for at least 30 minutes or until the clusters have hardened.

Recipe: Popcorn Clusters

Once the clusters have cooled you can pop them out of the tin and store them in an airtight container.  Make sure to keep them in the freezer or fridge so they don’t melt!  Now you have a delicious snack whenever you get hungry!

OH!  You guys should also go check out the blog Girl-ish.  They are an awesome blog that writes about fashion, entertainment, life, and health and I am one of their newest contributors!  I’m really excited to be working with these ladies and can’t wait to bring you more tasty and healthy food over there.

Have a super weekend and see you guys on Monday!