Spiralized Greek Salad

Last week Adam and I headed to Millennium park to hear the Grant Park Orchestra play Mozart’s Mass in C minor.  You might not know, but I actually have a degree in music and while I don’t do much with it at this point in my life, I still love listening to performances.Spiralized Greek Salad | Life Healthfully Lived

This concert in the park was a lot like Ravinia.  Free for the lawn seats and you can bring a picnic and chairs and set up camp while listening to some good music.  You can pay to sit in the bowl of the park, but why pay when you can still hear the performance AND eat.  Food and music.  My two loves. And Adam, of course.

So I knew I needed to come up with some simple and easily transportable food for dinner.  I tried out these bean burgers from Minimalist Baker and they were phenomenal.  I had mine wrapped in butter lettuce and got a few buns for my bread-loving husband.  I also came up with this simple Greek salad but added a little twist by spiralizing the cucumbers.  The dressing is equally as simple and it also works great as a marinade (more on that in a later post….)

Whether you have a concert in the park or a summer party to attend, this is a great dish to bring along.   If you have time, make it the night before so the dressing can really soak into the salad.  This is one of those dishes that taste better over time.

Spiralized Greek Salad Spiralized Greek Salad | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 8 oz of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 2/3 cup Kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced thinly

For the dressing: 

  • 1 tsp dried minced garlic
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp spicy mustard
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  1. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Rinse and dry the cucumber and then spiralize.  If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can also slice the cucumber however you would like.  Once you spiralize the cucumber cut up the noodles a little so they are easier to manage.  Place into a large bowl.
  3. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and then add the rest of the vegetables to the cucumber.  Stir to combine everything.
  4. Quickly stir the dressing again and then pour about half of it over the salad.  Stir everything so all the vegetables are coated and then cover and store in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.  You can add more dressing before eating if needed.  Spiralized Greek Salad | Life Healthfully Lived

I know I have been giving you a lot of simple recipes lately and A LOT of recipes that don’t require a heat source.  It’s summer.  It’s hot and ridiculously humid.  And honestly, I’m struggling to come up with a ton of super creative meals lately.  I know I’ll get my creative juices flowing again soon, but for now I’m just going to share the few things I have going on in my kitchen right now.  Thanks for sticking around and enjoy!

Basil Hummus Dressing

Yes, I know I didn’t put DIY Wednesday in the title of this post.  I’m not losing it.  Or if you didn’t notice, I’m not a crazy person just prattling on about post titles.  Ok, maybe just a little…

Anyways, I’m starting a new “series” if you will but it isn’t really a series at all, just more helpful recipes for the middle of your week.  Wednesday is when most of us feel done with the week.  We are exactly the same amount of days away from Friday as we are from Monday and for some reason, it feels like the weekend will never get here.  We’re tired of work and we come home and realize we have nothing to make for dinner.  That’s where many of us throw in the towel and order pizza.

Or maybe you’re like me and prep a few things on the weekend so you don’t have to figure out your dinners but you are getting bored of the exact same meal and want to throw a little variety into your food.  That’s where these Wednesday recipes are going to come in handy.  They are all things that are made with simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen and can be thrown together fairly quickly. Basil Hummus Dressing | Life Healthfully Lived

I don’t have a catchy name for these recipes yet.  I know DIY Wednesday was creative genius so I will have to top that one.  But I do know this basil hummus dressing is amazing and goes well on anything.  It’s like summer in dressing form.  Just a few ingredients and a quick whir in the blender and you can use this for salad, coleslaw, chicken, fish, zoodles, or as a dip for vegetables.  Plus, if you want to keep it bean-free you can just use a few tablespoons of raw cashews that have been soaked in hot water for 15 minutes to thicken your dressing.  Basil Hummus Dressing | Life Healthfully Lived

See?  I’m always thinking of solutions for you!

Basil Hummus Dressing Basil Hummus Dressing | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp hummus OR 2-3 tbsp raw cashews soaked in hot water for 15 minutes
  • 1 tbsp shallots, diced
  • 2 cloves, garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
  1. Put all of the ingredients into the blender and blend until you have a smooth and creamy dressing.  Taste and adjust any seasonings, especially if you used cashews instead of hummus.

You can use any type of hummus you would like whether it’s your favorite store brand or your own homemade.  I just happened to have a little of my favorite hummus leftover so that’s what I used.  Enjoy!

DIY Wednesday: Lemon Poppyseed Vinaigrette

Be prepared for all the lemon/poppyseed recipes this week.  More specifically, be ready for Meyer lemon and poppyseed recipes.  I found a whole bag of Meyer lemons at Aldi for $1.99 and since I had never tried them I picked them up and found a few delicious ways to use them.

Dressing was one of the first things I did with them, I also made muffins, marinades, smoothies, drizzled over fish and chicken for the husband, and even tried them in eggs. Yeah, that last one was not good.  But gotta experiment right? Lemon Poppyseed Dressing | Life Healthfully Lived

If you aren’t familiar with Meyer lemons, they’re kind of like if an orange and a lemon had a baby.  It’s a little sweet and a little sour and a lot yummy.  It works really well in a lot of recipes because it doesn’t have the puckering effect of lemon but doesn’t end up overly sweet.  Sadly, Meyer lemon season is short but that makes it even more special.  So if you have seen these lemons in your grocery store but have never known what to do with them, stick around and try my vinaigrette today and some muffins on Friday!

Lemon Poppyseed VinaigretteLemon Poppyseed Dressing | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (please use fresh juice, it tastes so much better)
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest (from those lemons you just squeezed)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced very small
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced very small (more if you REALLY like garlic)
  • 2 tsp poppyseeds
  • 1 tsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt (more if needed)
  1. Place a fine mesh sieve or strainer over a large bowl or sturdy measuring cup.  Squeeze your lemon juice over this so you can catch seeds and any pulp.  Keep going until you have 1/3 cup.
  2. Put the rest of the ingredients into a mason jar or other container with a secure lid.  Shake everything together and use over your next salad or as a marinade for fish, chicken, or pork.

Make sure you store this in the fridge and use it within the next few days.  Now, just so you know as this sits, the ingredients will separate into different layers.  That’s fine, all you have to do is shake it up right before you use it.  The olive oil also might solidify a bit in the fridge but that doesn’t mean it’s gone bad or anything, just let it sit out until it’s back to room temperature.Lemon Poppyseed Dressing | Life Healthfully Lived

Other than that, enjoy this refreshing and healthy vinaigrette!

DIY Wednesday: Cauliflower Stem Cream Sauce

Ok, so if you read my post on Monday then you know that last week I was fighting off a stomach bug/virus.  It really knocked me on my butt and I’m still trying to get back to completely normal.  Because I couldn’t eat anything more than baby carrots and brown rice cakes (totally weird combo I know, but it’s the only thing that didn’t make me want to run to the bathroom) I ended up with a lot of vegetables that were just about to go bad.

Instead of throw them away, because I hate wasting food, I decided to come up with new interesting ways to use them.  One of my biggest missions is to reduce the amount of food waste we create each year.  There are so many things that we can do with food rather than throw it away but sometimes you have to get creative.  If you want a few other ways to cut down on food waste, you can check out this postDIY Wednesday: Cauliflower Steam Cream Sauce | Life Healthfully Lived

So today we have a recipe that uses a part of the vegetable that most of us throw away, cauliflower stems.  Yup, you can eat the stem but because gnawing on a big old stem doesn’t sound too appealing, we’re going to make a creamy sauce that can go on pasta, vegetables, meat, or even used as dressing.  The best part is it only requires a few ingredients and minimal effort.

Stop throwing away food that you think you can’t eat because I bet you can use it in a unique and delicious way!

Cauliflower Stem Cream SauceDIY Wednesday: Cauliflower Steam Cream Sauce | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 1 1/2 cauliflower stems, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp roasted garlic (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (or 1/4 cup parmesan cheese if you do dairy)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup reserved steaming water
  1. Save the large main cauliflower stem from your bunch along with any other trimmed pieces you aren’t using with the cauliflower florets.  Trim off the green leaves and the tough woody bottom of the large stem and then cut everything into bites size chunks.
  2. Fill a medium pot with about 2 cups water and set up a steamer basket if you have one.  If not, you can just boil the cauliflower right in the pot.  Steam the cauliflower until very soft and easily pierced with a fork.
  3. Transfer the cauliflower to a blender or food processor and save the steaming water.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the blender and blend until you have a thick paste.  Add the reserved water a few tablespoons at a time until you reach the consistency you would like.  Thinner for things like dressing and pasta sauce, a little thicker for meat and vegetables. DIY Wednesday: Cauliflower Steam Cream Sauce | Life Healthfully Lived

DIY Wednesday: Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing

IDSC_3095 have lived in Illinois my entire life, so I am a Midwest girl through and through.  I think a big stretch of farmland is beautiful, I can drive in most snowy conditions, and I know malls are the best way to shop for everything.  The other thing that my Midwestern upbringing has taught me?

Ranch dressing belongs on everything.

Raw vegetables?  Instantly better doused in ranch.  That boring old salad? Drench it in the white stuff.  Chicken fingers and nuggets were made for dunking into the nectar of the Midwest gods.  I’ve even dipped french fries, meatloaf, and sausage into ranch.  Don’t judge until you try it.

DSC_3089

Unfortunately, the combination of ranch dressing on all the food and frying everything possible has made the people of this part of the country just a little less healthy.  When I changed the way I ate, I begrudgingly quit my ranch habit.  After a short (read: longer than I thought) adjustment period, I actually started to enjoy the flavor of my food without the aid of ranch dressing.

But there was still that fat Midwestern kid inside that wanted to swim in a vat of ranch.  I decided to fix it.

I made this dressing with full-fat coconut milk and my DIY ranch seasoning and was shocked with how much it tasted like traditional ranch.  It was a little runny at first, but after a few hours in the fridge it thickened up nicely.  I tend to like a more watery ranch, so I let it sit out a few minutes before I use it.

The fact that it’s so easy to make this dressing and the fact that I love it on everything have made it a weekly staple.  Try it on roasted sweet potatoes or mixed into mashed potatoes.  It is amazing with carrots and celery sticks and is wonderful whisked into a frittata.  I even made a topping with mashed potatoes and this ranch and spread it on top of my lentil loaf.

So if you have been missing ranch dressing in your healthier lifestyle, try this dairy-free version.  I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing

DSC_3116

  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk, unsweetened
  • 2-3 tsp ranch dressing seasoning, add more or less to your taste
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt (sea salt will also work)
  • 1 tsp roasted garlic (you could also use garlic powder)
  1. Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend for a few minutes until everything is combined.
  2. Pour into an airtight container (like a mason jar) and put in the fridge to thicken.  Keep it stored in the fridge for up to a week.

That’s it. Easy Peasy, time to put ranch on all the things and not feel like the fat Midwestern kid you might just be at heart! DSC_3120

Have a great day everyone!