The flavor of the week is back! Introducing the second most prolific plant in my garden (next to weeds)…cucumber!

This was the healthiest plant of the three. Had to push it back from the stone walkway using tomato cages and a block of wood.

Moved the vine from the ground onto the brick wall so it won’t fall prey to the weed whacker again.

Spikes on some cultivars provide a formidable defense against hungry predators…unless you’re wearing gloves!

These cucumbers, called “Straight 8,” are ready to pick when they’re about 8″ long. They’re crisp and have big seeds, but are so fleshy that I just gouge the seeds out and still have plenty of cucumber left. I eat them with my fruit salads, with tofu soaked in shoyu and ginger, and pickled some in Korean gochujang hot sauce for a lazy kimchee recipe.

But one of my favorite ways to eat cucumber was introduced by my father-in-law a few years ago. He would make grilled chicken with this delicious, creamy, garlicky tzatziki sauce. I had the hardest time pronouncing it but an easy time eating it! In addition to the incredibly creamy texture, the fresh garlic and lemon adds a delicious mouthwatering savoryness that can be eaten guilt-free: zero fat calories, low in sugar, and tons of protein!

I ate twice this much tzatziki, goes well with everything on my plate!

It’s another way to enjoy yogurt and a solution to getting  rid of all those extra cucumbers lying around. I just might have to let my in-laws give this a try…and maybe get zwei daumen nach oben!

Easy Tzatziki
serve with grilled chicken, raw veggies, raw zucchini noodles, or use as a veggie sandwich spread.

Ingredients:

1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon dried dill
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1 cucumber
1 1/2 cup Greek-style nonfat yogurt

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine garlic, salt, and dill. Stir in yogurt, lemon juice and zest. In another bowl or on a cutting board, using a box grater shred cucumber using large grater holes. Grabbing a handful of shredded cucumber, squeeze out excess liquid, reserving for later use (or drink it down!) Add squeezed & shredded cucumber to yogurt, stir to combine. Repeat with remaining shredded cucumber. Adjust seasonings to taste, store in refrigerator covered with plastic wrap until ready to serve. Makes about 2 cups.

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Is it August already?! Time flies when you’re having fun, especially for those of us who share yummy treats and awesome eats on What I Ate Wednesdays!

Last month was incredibly fun with Jenn’s theme of “Food, Fun and Fitness” and the momentum is carried over to August with “Summer Staples.” One summer staple I’ve been enjoying are big bowls of healthy fruit disguised as lunch salads. Combinations of fresh fruits, veggies, yogurt, and even some protein powder make a wonderful midday meal that is packed with vitamins, minerals, water, fiber, protein, and deliciousness! It’s a mish-mash of raw foods and gut-friendly yogurt, so it’s also great for digestion. Plus, it’s low in fat…reeealll low! ;)

On to breakfast!

Post-workout breakfast was peanut butter jelly toast, coffee and fruit (recycled picture here):

Lunch was a fruit & veggie salad bowl (It’s been my favorite for the past couple weeks now!) If you regularly have a good supply of fruits and veggies, you can come up with some crazy combinations that taste great!

A mish-mash of fruits, veggies, and marinated tofu & cucumber…delicious!

This has got to be the most delicious and healthy snack I’ve made in a long, long time: 6oz yogurt mixed with a spoonful of protein powder, dash of cinnamon (for sweetness and flavor,) and a heaping half cup of fresh fruits:

Make your own yogurt bowl with any combination of yogurt and fruits (no granola needed!)

Dinner was inspired by Paula Deen’s recipe for “Oven Fried Chicken.” I reduced the cheese and oil and added miso paste for flavor (and some salt.) Instead of water and additional oil, I used lemon juice. Serve it up with Lemony Basil Pesto and steamed brown rice (don’t forget the chopsticks!)

With brown rice and Lemony Pine Nut Pesto, this dinner is complete!

Basil Crusted Panko Chicken Strips – serves 2

Ingredients:

1 cup panko or crushed corn flakes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil (or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons white miso paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 8-oz chicken breast, cut into 1/4″ think pieces
optional veggie sides: asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, or any veggie you like roasted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix panko, cheese and basil. Divide in half, set aside. Mix olive oil, miso, and lemon juice. Add chicken pieces and stir to coat. Dip chicken pieces in half of the panko mixture, adding more from the reserve mix as needed. Place on silpat or cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick spray, leaving some room for veggies, if using.

There was enough room to squeeze in the asparagus. Perfect dinner for two!

Using your hand, toss veggies in leftover miso paste, add 1-2 tablespoons panko mixture and tossing well to coat. Place on cookie sheet with chicken or on a new sheet if not enough room. (leftover panko mix can be used in your favorite burger, meat loaf or meat ball mixture. Store in fridge for up to 3 days.)

Bake for 10-12 minutes (3-5 minutes longer if your chicken is cut into thicker pieces.) Serve immediately with Lemony Pine Nut Pesto.

What are some of your favorite fruits of the summer? Got any great recipes for potlucks, picnics or family gatherings?

If ever there was a fruit that says picnics, barbecues, and summertime fun all in one word, then that would be our Flavor of the Week…watermelon!

Even kitties need some refreshment! Image source: http://aboutalex.blogspot.com

There’s nothing like chewing into a big, fat slice of this summertime treat, both hands holding a two-inch thick piece with juices running down your arms as you challenge your sister to see who can spit seeds the farthest across the driveway.

There’s nothing like a refreshing slice on a hot summer day, but if you care to enjoy this vitamin-rich fruit, try it in a smoothie for a light and refreshing breakfast or snack (if you like pineapple smoothies, here is last week’s post with a pretty pineapple lassi photo.)

Watermelon lassi with protein powder boost

Watermelon Lassi – Combine 6oz. Greek-style nonfat yogurt and 2 cups watermelon chunks in a blender. Boost: add 1/3 scoop vanilla protein powder. Makes 20 ounces of deliciousness with approximately 210 calories and zero fat.

For something more substantial, just add granola and a handful of blueberries:

Watermelon-Berry Breakfast Bowl – In a cereal bowl, add 6 oz nonfat yogurt, 1/2 cup chopped watermelon and 1/4 cup fresh blueberries. Garnish with a tablespoon more of yogurt and top with a sprinkle of granola and chopped mint.

In the following weeks you will see more posts of healthier meals and fewer baked goodies. I know, it makes me a little sad to not enjoy the comforts of homemade cakes and cookies for the time being, but I am trying out a new exercise and meal plan to get stronger, have more energy and cut out extra fat in my diet as much as possible. It will be a nice change, and a challenge for me physically as I try out new exercises, but that’s what makes it more fun!

Here’s an excerpt from the Ayurvedic cookbook, Eat, Taste, Heal. In the chapter “Food as Medicine,” where they talk about the  Essential Ingredients for Health. It’s motivating and inspiring, and reminds us of our uniqueness:

Exercise Your Body and Mind. Physical activity keeps the inner motors of the body running with ease. Through exercising in accordance wit your underlying make-up, you have the ability to keep your body young and vibrant…in order to keep your mind clear and bright, also remember to exercise (your) inner talents and passions…if you regularly exercise your body and mind, you will help exorcise all imbalances and illness.”

Have a great week, everyone!

Happy Wednesday  everyone! Hope summer has been treating you well. It’s been hot and dry, and our poor lawn would love a good shower. On the upside: no bug bites for five whole days!

I’m combining my usual Flavor of the Week I normally post on Mondays with Wednesday’s WIAW sponsored by the wonderful Jenn at Peas and Crayons, so the Flavor of the Week is…PINEAPPLE!

There’s lots of ways to enjoy this bromelian beauty, and not just in fruit salads or pina coladas. Today I’ll be sharing a delicious and refreshing drink that not only helps beat the summer heat, but aids in digestion and supplies your body with lots of nutrients including calcium, protein, and Vitamin C.

Today I had a rather healthy appetite, so after my morning exercise I started the day with a pretty good breakfast:

Coffee, fried egg, toast, and fruit salad with a little chopped tomato sprinkled with a tiny pinch of salt (try it, it’s good!)

Here’s a close-up of the fruit salad, see the tomatoes? And tiny grains of salt on the grapes? Tasty!

Just a few pieces of fruit chopped up makes a great fruit salad. Add some chopped tomato and a teeny pinch of salt and you made it even better!

I was hungry sooner than I thought (2 1/2 hours later.) Lunch was leftover fish with orange-shoyu sauce with green beans and rice:

Fish with orange-shoyu sauce, green beans, rice & apple slices with Celestial Seasonings Blueberry Breeze tea.

Later on I was STILL hungry so snacked on some blue corn chips and a nice, big medjool date (no photo.)

Work has been a bit hectic the past few days, and I didn’t feel like cooking but wanted some good comfort food. My husband and I checked out The Hitchin’ Post Restaurant, just a few miles from where we are. Everything on the menu sounded great, but I decided on their Hitchin’ Post favorite, Seafood Dijon (sp?). It was served hot n’ fresh from the oven with the smell of buttery, garlicky goodness wafting up from the dish:

Seafood in a butter-garlic-wine sauce topped with a Parmesan crust and baked ’till bubbly!

If you can imagine two plump scallops the size of marshmallows, two pieces of succulent shrimp, tender flaky pieces of halibut and chunks of sweet crab meat simmered in a butter-garlic-wine sauce…that is what melted my socks off at dinner! :) It was such a treat, and I savored every bite. But after such a heavy meal, I needed something to help ease my stomach and satisfy my sweet tooth. We didn’t order dessert, but I came home and made something that would be the perfect finish: pineapple lassi.

Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits, and my Uncle Kenneth (the one who grows coffee) grows white pineapple that is so incredibly sweet, you’d think it was infused with sugar. But no matter what variety you have on hand, all pineapples contain an enzyme, bromelian, that helps with digestion by breaking down proteins in your gut. Pairing that with the beneficial bacteria found in dairy yogurt and you’ve got a delicious digestive aid.

Quick, easy and refreshing Pineapple Lassi.

Pineapple Lassi

Ingredients:

6 oz plain nonfat yogurt with active cultures
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh pineapple, core removed
1/4 cup fresh chopped orange, about 3-4 segments (optional)
1 teaspoon orange-agave syrup or regular agave syrup or honey
1/4 cup water (optional)

Directions:

Put everything except water in a blender and blend on medium to medium-high until smooth. Add water to thin, if needed. Add more syrup to taste. Garnish with fruit and mint (that one in the middle is pineapple mint!) Makes about 18 ounces.

Tasty and refreshing, this pineapple lassi is chock-full of vitamins and minerals.

What’s your favorite drink to beat the summer heat?

Hello, readers! I am entering my first food blog contest sponsored by Frito-Lay and presented by Recipe Redux, a monthly recipe challenge to make our favorite recipes healthier (and perhaps even tastier!) The best part about this contest is that even though I get to do all the fun cooking and blogging, you will have the opportunity to win this awesome Gluten-Free Prize Pack from Frito-Lay:

Gluten-Free Prize Pack courtesy of Frito-Lay

This prize pack includes:

– A chip and dip serving tray
– One bag each of Lay’s Classic potato chips and Tostitos Scoops! tortilla chips
– One copy of Nicole Hunn’s “Gluten Free on a Shoestring”

All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this blog post and tell me what is your favorite gluten-free Frito-Lay snack…that’s it! But be sure to do it before midnight on Thursday, May 31st. If you’d like to increase your chance of winning, just refer a friend to follow my blog, send an email to me at thefooderyblog@gmail.com (or just message me in this post) to let me know who it is and I’ll TRIPLE your chances of winning! Be sure your friend comments on this post afterwards, and they’ll have a chance of winning, too!

I’ll announce the winner of this contest on Friday, June 1st. If no one claims the prize by Monday, June 3rd, I’ll announce the runner-up winner on Tuesday (I have to turn in the winner’s info in by the 8th!) Good luck to all!

Now, for my Frito-Lay gluten-free recipe submission! I like the idea of having mini-sized snacks because they seem special in their own little way, like they were made just for you. I used Tostitos Scoops! for this reason, and the big challenge was to create a tasty appetizer filling these little crispy Scoops, but not causing the chip to become too soggy.

I decided that mini-quiches would make a great gluten-free redux (did you know Frito-Lay Tostitos corn chips are only made with corn, oil and salt? Simple is good!) This recipe is fast, ingredients are readily available, and they have as much flavor in each little bite as the traditional flour crust recipe. I made a tray of these in my toaster oven and they came out perfectly. They cool off fairly quickly, so transfer them immediately from oven dish to serving patter and they’re ready to eat!

Mini Quiche Scoops

Mini Quiche Scoops – makes 16

16 Tostitos Scoops chips
2 tablespoons finely shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons fnely shredded reduced fat Parmesan or Asiago cheese
1 slice bacon, excess fat removed and chopped finely
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced red onion
1 egg
1 tablespoon Low-Fat Greek Yogurt
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or paprika

2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley, divided
3 grape tomatoes, sliced thinly

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small baking pan, arrange Tostitos Scoops chips facing up, set aside. Combine cheeses in small bowl and set aside.

In a small pan, cook bacon on medium heat until almost crisp. Add 1 tablespoon minced red onion, cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, yogurt, salt and cayenne until well combined. Stir in 3 heaping tablespoons of cheese mixture. Add bacon and onion mixture and 1 teaspoon of the parsley and stir until combined.

To each Tostitos Scoops, add approximately 1 teaspoon of egg mixture, about 2/3 full. Top with additional shredded cheese, tomato slice, minced onion and parsley.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until egg is slightly firm. Transfer to serving plate and enjoy immediately.

Tostitos Scoops filled with a savory quiche filling


Disclosure: I received free samples from Frito-Lay of the products mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe
I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Frito-Lay and am eligible to win prizes associated with
the contest. I was not compensated for my time.



Creamy, tangy yogurt and fresh lemon juice make this bean dip delightfully different.

This recipe is featured in Justa’s weekly feature, Fantastic Foods Friday.

If you have never cooked your own beans, it is incredibly simple, and no more difficult than boiling a pot of noodles. Worried about the uncomfortable side effects? Someone once told me that to get rid of the gas, you just have to poke a tiny hole in each bean to let the gas out (lol!) But seriously, visit this website for some great info on beans and how to make them virtually gas-free.

I had a lot of cooked beans left over from making my black bean & turkey burgers last week. Extra cooked beans are great sprinkled on salads or tossed into a soup for lunch, and taste better than the conventional canned and salted versions. What to do with the extras…fiber for my morning smoothies? No way! Bean dip? Heck yeah!

The beans I had left over were a mixture of black and pinto. I like them both, and they looked pretty displayed in my clear oxo pop containers (which are excellent for storing flours & grains, btw.) But when you cook them, the pinto beans pick up a reddish tint from the black beans. Since the beans would end up in chili, turkey burgers, or mashed into a bean dip mix, I didn’t mind this at all.

The base of this recipe starts with a yogurt-tahini mixture, similar to the sauce for falafel, but much thicker. Use Greek-style yogurt, but if it’s not handy, drain regular yogurt in a paper towel-lined strainer for a few hours before using to get the same consistency. It’s great as a dip, as a spread for crackers or bread…I even topped my black bean burgers with the bean dip, and it was even more delicious!

Surprise your guests with a new twist on bean dip!

Black Bean and Yogurt Dip

1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups cooked, unsalted black beans (or pinto, or adzuki, or a combination)
1/3 cup tahini (to make your own: add 1 cup raw sunflower seeds to food processor, grind until texture is sandy. Drizzle in about 1/4 cup olive oil, process until it forms a smooth paste.)
1/2 cup Greek-style plain nonfat yogurt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Olive oil
lemon zest
raw sunflower seeds

Instructions:

Soak minced garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil, set aside. Mash beans and tahini in large bowl with potato masher or pastry cutter until most of the beans are smashed to your liking. Add yogurt, lemon juice, kosher salt, and minced garlic with olive oil. Mix well. If too thick, add a teaspoon of water or lemon juice (if you like it lemony.) If too thin, add more tahini. Put mixture in a serving bowl. With a clean finger or chopstick, make a swirly pattern in the dip. Carefully drizzle olive oil into the pattern. Sprinkle with raw sunflower seeds and lemon zest. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.