This month The Recipe Redux is hosting a challenge to create a healthier version of one of the all-time favorite barbecue side dishes, potato salad! According to the United States Potato Board, a medium potato has only 110 calories, contains more potassium than a banana, and half your daily value of vitamin C. Seems like good ol’ potato salad is already on the right track to being healthy, so I helped it along by giving it an even bigger helping of vitamins and minerals (such as potassium, vitamin E, folate and vitamin B) from one my favorite nutrient-dense foods, avocado.

This potato salad is a good accompaniment to anything from the grill and, because it has no dairy, won’t spoil as quickly like regular potato salad, so you can bring it on a picnic and not worry about keeping it ice-cold. It has chunks of creamy avocado instead of mayonnaise, a sprinkle of fresh tomatoes, chopped cilantro, and is infused with a hint of smoky spices. The firm texture of earthy red potatoes brings all this creamy goodness together. If you love barbecues, you’ll love the smokey flavors of this potato salad!

Smokey Potato-Avocado Salad

Smokey Potato-Avocado Salad

1 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 pound red potatoes, cut into 1″ chunks
1 ripe, firm avocado, pitted and cut into large cubes same size as potato
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 ripe tomato, seeds removed and diced, reserving 1 tablespoon for garnish
fresh cilantro or coriander sprigs

Directions:

Fill a large pot halfway with water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Add potatoes, making sure they are covered with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and bring to a low boil on medium/medium-high and cook 7 minutes more or until just tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and cool for 15 – 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika. Set aside.

Cut avocado in half, remove pit and cut into 1″ pieces. Place in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon lime juice. Sprinkle half of seasoning mixture and toss gently with a fork. Add potatoes and mix gently (the mixture will get creamier, but keep some chunks of avocado.) Sprinkle in half of remaining seasonings, adding more to taste. Fold in diced tomato. Top with remaining chopped tomato and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Added note, 6/28: avocados tend to brown, so be sure to serve this within 4-5 hours of preparation. One trick you can do is garnish with fresh diced avocado right before serving, so even if the salad is a few hours old, it will look nice and fresh! (Thank you, Emily, for asking me about this! )

 By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the United States Potato Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

A quick and easy dairy-free, gluten-free potato salad


Happy Wednesday, everyone! This being my first What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) post sponsored by Peas and Crayons, I wanted to kick it off to a good start, especially because I’ve been going off my healthy eating path and WIAW is a good incentive to get back on track. I’ve been eating  less healthy greens and eating more snacky stuff this past week and I noticed a HUGE dip in my energy level in the afternoons. Normally I’d see my husband yawning in the afternoon, but this time it was ME who felt tired, lazy and just wanted to drink coffee to help get me through. Although I still made healthy dinners and lunches, I ate less of the good and more of the bad.

I notice how much better I feel when I eat primarily veggies, even better with raw veggies (the Blood Type Diet says a diet focusing on vegetables are beneficial for A-types like me.) I try to do at least 80 percent veggies/legumes/fruits when I prepare my meals, which isn’t that difficult, but I’d like to increase the raw veggie consumption, as well.

To start off, I had a Chocolate Avocado Smoothie  for breakfast. The fruits and veggies are raw, the “seasonings” are not, but it’s a heck of a lot better than a toaster pastry!

Don't let the chocolatey goodness fool you, this shake contains vegetables!

For lunch I ate a ground-up nut mixture that contained carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and seasoning. I’m avoiding wheat products this week, so I wrapped it in lettuce leaves and had it with Gouda cheese:

My afternoon snack were these incredibly indulgent and almost raw Fudgy Espresso Bites (see delicious recipe below):

Instant espresso enhances the dark chocolate flavor of these fudgy cocoa bites.

For dinner I made veggie chicken soup, which is great when you’re trying to clear the fridge to make room for more fresh veggies! I seasoned this batch with Spike:

Veggies, pearl barley and chunks of chicken make this a hearty and flavorful soup.

Dessert was an almost raw Key Lime Avocado Pie:

Tart, light and refreshing!

And now here’s the Fudgy Cocoa Bites recipe, inspired by The Rawtarian’s incredibly delicious Raw Chocolate Cake recipe:

Fudgy Cocoa Bites

Ingredients:

1 cup almonds, soaked 2 hours or overnight in fridge
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked 2 hours or overnight in fridge
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, soaked 2 hours or overnight in fridge
1/2 cup dates, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (not sure if this qualifies as raw since the alcohol is distilled?)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup agave sweetener (for Ginger Cocoa Bites, please see instructions below and make syrup first.)

Instructions:

After soaking all the seeds and nuts, drain thoroughly. Add to food processor and process until finely ground. Add dates,  cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Process until mixed thoroughly and date pieces are chopped fine. Slowly drizzle in agave (or open the top and pour agave in, this way there’s less syrup stuck to the bottom) and process until mixture forms a ball.

Form dough into teaspoon-sized truffle bites, press into mini muffin tins or candy molds. Dust with extra cocoa powder if desired. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up then remove carefully. (I’m not sure what the longest is you should store them for, but I’ve had mine in the fridge for a couple weeks and have been nibbling on them daily.)

Ginger Cocoa Bites: (I got the ginger syrup recipe from The Veggie Nook’s Lime Cornmeal Pancake recipe, but instead of maple syrup I used agave…and added a LOT of ginger! This is so delicious I keep a stash of this handy. Thank you, Gabby!) Ginger syrup –  In a small pan on the stovetop, heat the 1/4 cup agave with 1 tablespoon thinly sliced and chopped ginger. Simmer on LOW HEAT for 3 minutes to reduce the spiciness of the fresh ginger. Turn off heat and cool the syrup while you combine the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle agave syrup and ginger pieces into mixture, process until mixture forms a ball and form into truffles or press into molds.

Espresso Cocoa Bites (my favorite!): add in 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso granules or 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules and 1/4 teaspoon stevia with cocoa powder. Form into desired shapes, sprinkle with just a pinch of espresso or finely ground coffee granules.

Peanut Butter Cocoa Bites: add 2 tablespoons smooth or creamy “no-sugar” peanut butter before adding agave.

Gluten free, dairy free bite-sized pieces of rich chocolate flavor with an incredible fudgy texture.

Enjoy your Wednesday, and eat well!

Lemon-spiked yogurt floats on a leafy green so you can scoop a little tangy goodness with each spoonful of creamy avocado-leek soup.

This is my first Recipe Redux challenge and for those of you not familiar with this, it is a once-a-month themed cooking challenge in which you redo a recipe to make it healthier (and hopefully tastier!) This month’s theme is “The First Shoots of Spring.”  I was pretty excited to try and come up with something that would be worthy of the challenge, but it was a lot harder that I expected because 1) I’ve lived my entire life in a tropical climate and didn’t know what ‘spring’ foods were, and 2) the local markets didn’t carry pea shoots, garlic scrapes (?) or ramps (??). Although my findings were limited, there were lots of leeks in the markets, so I decided to brighten up a traditional vichyssoise with easy to find ingredients, and which can be made in less than 20 minutes…how’s THAT for a redux? :)

Vichyssoise is made up of potato, leek, heavy cream, and chicken stock. My stomach is sensitive to dairy so I eliminated the heavy cream, increased the potato, and added a ripe avocado, celery, some water, and fresh lemon zest. The taste remained rich and savory, and to add a new dimension, I topped it off with a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt (easy on my stomach) with a touch of fresh lemon juice.

Avocados are a great source of fiber and vitamins, including vitamin K (aids in blood clotting,) vitamin E (antioxidant, helps body assimilate vitamin K,) folate (aids in tissue development,) and potassium (helps metabolize carbs and ensures proper function of cells, tissues and organs.) Yogurt contains live bacteria cultures to aid digestion, and the fresh squeeze of lemon juice also helps digestion while providing a bit of vitamin C.

This healthy soup uses fresh ingredients and can be enjoyed warm or cold any time of day. Happy eating!

Potato Leek Avocado Soup
 serves 2
This soup can easily be veganized with vegetable broth and soy yogurt.

1 tablespoon oil
1 cup diced potato
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup diced celery
1 leek, white and light green parts only, sliced thinly
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons nonfat greek yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste
lettuce leaves, minced red onion for garnish (optional)

To clean leeks: cut off dark green portion. Slice leek lengthwise from green part to bulb, but not cutting through bulb. Fan out leaves and rinse well under running water. Slice thinly.

Cook potato and garlic in oil on medium heat about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add celery, leek and 1 cup of chicken broth, simmer low for 5 minutes.

Transfer half of mixture to blender and puree.

Transfer half of mixture to a blender with 1 cup of chicken broth and avocado and puree about 30 seconds or until smooth. Return puree to pan and add remaining 1 cup broth and 1 cup of water. Heat until simmering, about 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Turn off heat, stir in lemon zest. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Divide soup between two bowls. Place 1 lettuce leaf (at least 3″ long, 2″ wide) in center of bowl.  Top with 1 tablespoon of yogurt and sprinkle minced red onion for garnish. Can be served warm or cold.

Lemon-spiked yogurt floats on a leafy green so you can scoop a little tangy goodness with each spoonful of creamy avocado-leek soup.

Need a little extra? Try these little appetizers made of sliced cucumber, fresh Parmesan and  raw beets topped with thin slices of leeks. Lots of fresh flavors, sweet and salty combined with crunchy and creamy…this little appetizer has it all!

Easy peasy leeky appetizers!

Perfect for parties, just layer it, serve it, enjoy it!

Hi, everyone! I’ve been invited to a Linky Party by justafrugalfoodie and I’m bringing the best thing I ate this week, this delightfully delicious avocado key lime parfait! It’s light and creamy, refreshing, and filled with wholesome, nutritous ingredients. One taste of this lip-puckering parfait and you’ll be pleasantly pleased!

Having not grown up with the four seasons, spring is a new experience for me. I always thought winter would be a snow-covered scene until the first day of spring, when the snow would melt on cue, birds would start singing and blossoms would start popping up. I guess it  doesn’t happen exactly like that, but there’s that unmistakable transition to earlier mornings that make me feel better about waking up with the sun.

I saw a cooking show that featured a delicious key lime pie, something that made me yearn for a fresh tasting “hello, spring!” kind of dessert, yet still be comfy and homey-feeling. I love the immediate pick-me-up that the scent of lime and lemons can give you, there’s no other fruit that leaves you feeling more optimistic. Key lime pies are so delicious and refreshing, but can also be overly sweet, cloying, and leave you feeling like, “Blech, I just ate some key lime pie,” instead of “Yay, I just ate some key lime pie!”

I needed a healthier version, and a search for ‘raw key lime pie’ on the internet led me to The Bees Knees Kitchen where her incredibly delicious recipe uses the nutrient-dense avocado as the base. Avocados are a wonderful source of fiber, vitamin E,  potassium, and folate, and also helps your body assimilate fat-soluble nutrients like lutein and alpha- and beta-carotene*. Such a simple recipe with healthy ingredients, no baking, and the fresh, lively citrus certainly satisfies your sour tooth, while the smooth, velvety texture just says ‘comfort food’.

I made a few modifications to the ingredients and served it up parfait-style. I took one parfait to my husband (two spoonfuls lighter, I had to be sure it was up to snuff!) and he enjoyed the tart flavor from the avocado filling as well as the addition of the yogurt-lime topping. What a great dessert to bring into spring!

*source, http://www.avocado.org/avocado-nutrients/

Avocado Key Lime Parfait
This would also make a great breakfast, where the crust can be sprinkled on like granola.

Filling:

2 avocados
1/3 cup key lime juice or lime juice
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon stevia
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
zest of 1 lime

Blend all the ingredients  in a blender until smooth, adding more honey or stevia to taste. Set aside.

Crust:

2/3 cup pecans, walnuts or almonds
2 teaspoons coconut flour or flaked unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup agave syrup
stevia
1 teaspoon lemon zest
pinch of salt

Directions:

For crust texture – Put pecans, coconut flour or flaked unsweetened coconut, stevia, lime zest and salt into a food processor, pulse into crumbs. Process and slowly drizzle in 1/3 cup agave syrup in the chute. To test if done, pinch a small amount between your fingers, crumb mixture should hold. For crumbly topping, don’t pulse as long, but keep larger chunks of nuts for that “granola look.”

Yogurt topping:

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1/4 teaspoon stevia
2 tablespoons lime juice

With a spoon, mix all ingredients until well combined, adding more agave to taste.

To assemble:

In a glass cup, layer 1 teaspoon crumb mixture, 1 tablespoon of key lime filling, and 1 teaspoon of yogurt, repeat. Garnish with mint sprigs, lime slice, and coconut flakes. Makes 4 servings.

For Key Lime Avocado Pie: Use 1 cup sunflower seeds and 1/2 cup almonds, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained. In a food processor add nuts, 1 teaspoon stevia, 1 tablespoon agave and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Process until it forms a dough. Press into springform pan lined with wax paper. Press dough 1″ up the sides. Add avocado filling and top with yogurt. Freeze for at least 30 minutes or until firm enough to slice.

 

 

My cat Wolfie loves yogurt, but this snack is for me!

The cocoa powder will dull the otherwise bright green smoothie, but the flavor it brings will brighten your day.

I started experimenting with smoothies a few weeks ago to introduce more raw foods into my diet, and to hopefully perk up my energy and overall well-being. Strangely enough, I found smoothies made mostly of fruits made me extremely tired, and only after drinking a cup of coffee was I able to get back to work! I read several recipes for green shakes, all sounding pretty gross until I came across one that used greens, fruits and avocado. I found this the most delicious and versatile, and you could add flavors like blueberry, banana, chocolate, peanut butter, strawberry, etc. The avocado–and the addition of the different flavors–seemed to help tame the leafy green taste, and you still get a nutritious, vitamin-packed smoothie.

Here is what I made this morning using my favorite green smoothie ingredients: kale, apples, avocado and dates (it is not entirely raw because of the roasted cacao nibs, cayenne and cocoa powder.) I prefer the more nutrient-dense kale over spinach, and the taste is mild enough to let the other delicious flavors come through. I added just enough banana for additional creaminess and sweetness. Feel free to adjust any of the ingredients to your liking:

Green Morning Smoothie with Cocoa and Banana

1/2 apple, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 kale leaves, chopped (about 1 cup packed)
2 dates, soaked for an hour or overnight
1/2 ripe avocado, chopped
1 two- or three-inch-piece ripe banana (the riper, the better!)
1 packet of Stevia, or 2 teaspoons sweetener of your choice
2 teaspoons cacao or cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon broken cacao nibs, plus extra for garnish (optional)
1 teaspoon hemp seeds (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 -3/4 cup soy or almond milk
1 cup water, plus more, if needed

Add everything in a blender, add enough water until it reaches 3/4 of the level of your ingredients. Mix on medium-high speed until blended, adding more water if needed. Pour into glasses, garnish with ground cacao bits. Makes about 20-24 ounces.

Chocolate Avocado Shake
This shake is more chocolatey. The sunflower seeds and cacao nibs give it an extra crunch!

1/4 avocado, chopped
1 stalk celery
2 kale leaves, about 1/3 cup packed
1/4 apple, chopped
1 pitted date, chopped
3 inch piece frozen banana, sliced (about the length of your index finger)
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds (optional)
2 roasted cocoa nibs (about 2 teaspoons ground, optional)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon stevia
1 teaspoon agave syrup (or leave out and use all stevia)
pinch salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 – 3/4 cup soy milk
1/2 cup water

Put everything in a blender, pouring liquids last. Blend until nice and thick, adding more water and sweetener to taste.