Fresh, Easy Spring Meals

The past two weeks have been absolutely beautiful weather wise.  So much so that I’ve really been craving fresh, springtime meals.

When strawberries are in abundance (which they were thanks to my CSA with Lazy Eight Stock Farm), making strawberry yogurt is a no brainer.  No need to buy store bought strawberry flavored yogurt with added sugar and other questionable ingredients when you can easily make your own Strawberry Greek Yogurt.

When spring veggies are easily accessible from your local farmer, fresh and easy meal are doable in about 20 minutes. This is particularly true when you add other quick ingredients like whole grains and cheese.  That’s exactly what you’ll get with the Couscous Lemon Salad with Spinach Feta and Asparagus.

Another meal that deserves some talk time is the Buttermilk Oat Soaked Pancakes.  These are consumed quite often on weekends at my house.  However, let us not forget that breakfast for dinner is always a good idea.  This go round, I substituted buttermilk for regular milk.  Buttermilk helps keep pancakes light and fluffy, and it adds a slight tang to the batter that goes great with pure maple syrup.

Hope Something Makes Your Belly Smile…


Snacks

Strawberry Greek Yogurt


½ c. organic Greek yogurt (alternative: organic plain yogurt)
4-5 organic strawberries
1 t. local honey (alternative: 2-3 drops of organic stevia)
A few drops of organic vanilla extract

Directions: To a single serving bowl, add the strawberries and mash them with a fork.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir.  Sweeten to taste with a bit more honey, if needed.  Enjoy!


Carrot Cake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

 
Adapted from Amy’s Healthy Baking

Dry Ingredients:
1 c. instant oats (measured correctly – good read to refresh your measuring skills)
¾ c. whole wheat white flour (measured correctly)
1 ½ t. baking powder
1 ½ t. cinnamon
1/4 t. sea salt

Wet Ingredients:
2 T. coconut oil (alternative: unsalted organic butter)
1 large organic egg, room temperature
1 t. organic vanilla extract
½ c. pure maple syrup
¾ c. organic carrots, super finely grated
¼ c. organic raisins

Directions: In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  In a larger bowl, stir together the wet ingredient.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring just until combined. Cool in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Scoop cookies into 15-16 rounded mounds on a silicone lined baking sheet or baking stone.  Bake for 12-15 minutes. Edges will be slightly browned.  Allow to cool before eating or they tend to fall apart.


Kale Egg and Rye Bread Bake 

(Don’t judge it with your eyes. Your taste buds will thank you.)

 

adapted from The Nutritionist Reviews

1/2 loaf whole wheat rye bread, cut into bite sized chunks
2 c. organic kale, roughly chopped or organic bagged kale (I have used organic baby kale too)
1 1/2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped OR 1 (14 oz.) can organic diced tomatoes, strained of excess juices
1 small yellow onion chopped or 2-3 chopped green onion or scallions (Carly: added)
5 eggs (Carly: 2 whole eggs plus 4 egg whites)
1/4 c. organic milk
1 c. organic plain Greek yogurt
1-2 cloves crushed garlic
1 t. dried dill
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
1/3 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
Salsa, optional topping
hot sauce, optional topping
organic plain Greek yogurt, optional topping

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a 9×12 baking dish, mix together the kale, tomatoes, onion, and bread.  In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, yogurt, garlic, dill, black pepper, and garlic powder.  Evenly pour the liquid over the kale mixture.  Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until the egg mixture has firmed up (it shouldn’t jiggle when you wiggle the pan).  Remove from the oven and evenly top with the Parmesan cheese.  You could eat it as is…or, you could add some salsa and/or a few dashes of hot sauce. If you’re feeling really adventurous, add a dollop of Greek yogurt along with the salsa and/or hot sauce.


Couscous Lemon Salad with Spinach Feta and Asparagus

 adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

1 c. Israeli Couscous (alternative: whole wheat orzo pasta)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. olive oil
8 asparagus spears, cut into 1 inch pieces
Sea salt/pepper, freshly ground
1 c. fresh organic spinach
1 large lemon, halved
1/3 c. feta cheese

Directions:  Cook couscous according to package directions in salted water.  Drain when done (reserve a cup of the cooking water).  While the couscous cooks, warm a skillet to near medium heat.  Add olive oil and garlic.  Cook until you can smell the garlic.  Add the asparagus and saute for 5 minutes before adding the spinach.  Stir until the spinach begins to wilt.  Squeeze the lemon over the top and toss the asparagus mixture.  To a large serving bowl, combine the cooked couscous, asparagus mixture and feta cheese.  Add 1/2 cup or more of the couscous cooking water and stir to create a bit of a sauce. Season with salt and pepper and give a final squeeze of lemon.  Serve immediately.


Quick Buttermilk Oat Soaked Pancakes


2 c. homemade buttermilk (add 2 T. of white vinegar or lemon juice to organic milk and allow to sit 5 minutes)
2 c. organic rolled oats
2 organic eggs (alternatives: 1 whole egg + 1 egg white OR flax eggs*)
1 t. organic vanilla extract
1 T. local honey, preferably raw
½ c. white whole wheat flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
½ t. sea salt
½ t. cinnamon (optional)

Directions: In a large bowl, add the homemade buttermilk.  Stir in the oats, eggs, vanilla, and honey.  Allow to sit at least 5 minutes.  In a smaller bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Gently stir to combine, being careful not to over stir.  Lightly grease the skillet with an oil of your choosing (we like coconut oil or organic butter).  Top with pure maple syrup or a thin layer of creamy almond butter.

Serve with uncured bacon or preservative free turkey bacon.

Note: Makes 10 pancakes using a 1/3 c. measuring scoop)

*Flax eggs are great substitutes to eggs if you’re vegan or you just prefer not to use eggs.  To make flax eggs, stir together 3 T. of water and 1 T. ground flax seed.  Allow to rest 5 minutes.  (When baking, I’ve found that substituting up to 3 flax eggs works great.  Using more than 3 flax eggs can result in disaster).


Balsamic Watermelon Chicken Salad


Adapted from Pinch of Yum

1 c. balsamic vinegar
1 T. organic coconut palm sugar (alternative: 4-5 drops of organic stevia)
1 lb. organic boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 T. Trader Joe’s 21 Season Salute (alternative: other multi-season blend)
1 T. olive oil
4 c. organic baby spinach or other organic greens
2 c. cubed watermelon
½ c. blue cheese crumbles (alternative: Feta cheese)
¼ c. sliced or crushed almonds (alternative: pine nuts)

Directions: In a small saucepan, add the balsamic vinegar and coconut palm sugar.  Bring to a low boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Allow to simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  It will reduce by about one-half and thicken to a maple syrup consistency.

Tip: Put the cut watermelon in a strainer while preparing the salad to drain some of the excess liquid.

While the vinegar is simmering, season both sides of the chicken with the dry seasoning.  Pan sear or grill until cooked thoroughly.  Remove the chicken from the heat.  Cover and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes.  Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.

To a large serving bowl, layer the spinach, watermelon, chicken, cheese and nuts.  Drizzle with the balsamic reduction to taste.

Another tip: Double the recipe to serve 6-8 people.