Green challenge

So did any of you participate in the Greens for March challenge?  How did you all do?  Truthfully, I did really well at first and then I got lazy.  There were days when we had a lot of leftovers.  I’m not a huge fan of leftovers.  I’m slowly starting to be okay with them, but find that I have to reinvent them to be okay with eating it the next day (how very spoiled of me to say, I know.).  So I was stuck eating leftovers for lunch (not that I’m complaining) and not salads.

But here are a couple of salads I created.  Stay tune for future posts of these recipes.

Beet Farro salad

Shaved brussels sprout salad

Kitchen sink salad with nut butter dressing

Mango, avocado, and black bean salad with chipotle chicken

This April, I’ve joined yet another challenged.  This time I’m doing the Young and Raw 30 day Green Smoothie challenge.  Upon joining the group, you’re emailed a list of ingredients to purchase for the next 5 days.  Then you’re emailed a smoothie recipe the night before using those ingredients.  This isn’t a cleanse challenge.  It’s just a way to get your greens in, via smoothies for 30 days.  You are not to use dairy, which I haven’t really done.  Usually I make my smoothies with greek yogurt and milk or soy milk.  The challenge also has you adding herbs into your smoothies like cilantro, basil, or parsley, which I also have never done before.  As well as adding hemp seeds (I’ve only added chia or flax) or maca.  So trying all these new things has pushed me out of my smoothie making comfort zone, if you may.  I decided to do this after I had the tasty HI-5 juice (okay it’s a juice, not a smoothie. but I don’t want to invest in a juicer right now) from The Protein Bar, while in Chicago.  Cilantro in a juice sounded interesting but intimidating.  To my surprise, it was UNBELIEVABLY tasty and pleasantly refreshing.  That drink inspired me to make my Copineappearanalery smoothie.  We’re in the second week of the challenge and some of the recipes have been good, some have been okay, and some I’d rather not taste again.  The challenge is going on right now and you can still join, unofficially, on Facebook.  There are other groups on Facebook that do something similar.  Some of which, do use dairy products, so I may try that next after this 30 day challenge.

Some people are doing these challenges as a means for dieting, which there are nutritionists that administer these challenges on Facebook.  I, however, am just looking for another way to get my daily dose of vitamins plus enjoy a tasty non-alcoholic drink.  I’m trying to stay clear of sodas and some juices (as they’re loaded with sugar).  Sometimes water can get boring, so smoothies or infusing my water with fruit are my healthy tasty alternatives.

Have you done a juice or smoothie cleanse?  How about a juice or smoothie challenge?  Have you bought into the ever so popular green smoothie trend?  What’s your favorite green smoothie recipe?

fruit salad

Peaches.  Plums.  Strawberries.  Raspberries.  Blackberries.  Watermelons.  Tomatoes.  Summer fruits.  So delicious and so delicious in salads… and I’m not talking about fruit salads (which are delicious).  I’m talking about savory salads.  That combination of sweet, sour, and salty are HEAVEN.  Here are a couple of my faves this summer which you can make an easy vinagrette to pair with them.  Olive oil, vinegar of your choice OR citrus of your choice, and s&p.  For more flavor, add some herbs like mint, basil, parsley or cilantro.  These are my go to’s for when I want something light and refreshing, especially in this summer heat.

  • Watermelon, Mint, and Feta.  For easy entertaining you could put on skewers and drizzle dressing over the top or make the dressing into a dip.
  • Watermelon, Tomato, Basil, and Feta.  You could also skewer these as well.
  • Tomato, Mozzarella Balls, and Basil.  Again, you could make these into skewers.
  • Peach or melon and prosciutto.
  • Strawberry (or any kind of berry), arugula or spinach, feta, and almonds.

  •  Peach, prosciutto, mint, feta and tomatoes.  PACKED with flavor.

  • Cucumber, tomatoes, and feta.  If you want it more Greek-esq add some red or green bell pepper.
  • Peach and tomato with cilantro.
Last summer,  Emily posted about summer salads with a link from the New York Times of 101 simple salad recipes.  It’s been a go to link since then (even when it’s not summer and I need some quick sides for dinner) and even though they’re REALLY simple you can build on to the recipes (which is what cooking is all about), which are some of the recipes I’ve shared up above.  Of course, you don’t want to muddle with the recipes TOO much because these are supposed to be light refreshing dishes.  They’re not meant to weight you down.

Hydrate

It’s summer (stating the obvious – I know) and hydration is so important this time of year (again station the obvious).  You all know that water is essential to keep hydrated but let’s face it, drinking water can be boring sometimes, so here are a couple of creative ways to keep hydrated.

Note:  When creating these drinks make sure you get ripe fruit.  If you use unripe fruit, it won’t taste as good and may require you to use more fruit, and possibly, more sugar, to achieve the flavor you want.

Flavored water – this is relatively simple.  Here are some variations:

  • Cucumber and mint.
  • Mint and lime.  If you want to sweeten it add some agave syrup (very mojito-esq, but without the rum of course)
  • Lemon or lime slice.  Super simple.
  • Freeze strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries.  Whatever you like.  When frozen, place them in your water along with some lemon slices.
  • Aguas frescas.   Blend your favorite fruit with ice cold water.  Add some agave syrup or sugar substitute and enjoy.  You can spruce this up by adding citrus.   I’ve made several strawberry and watermelon aguas frescas with lime this summer.  It’s been pretty hot here in the Bay and it really keeps me cool and hydrated.

Iced herbal tea – Make sure its herbal because there’s no caffeine in herbal tea.  Remember, caffeine causes dehydration.

Iced flavored fruit herbal tea –  Steep your favorite tea and allow to cool.  While steeping your tea, make some simple syrup.  If you don’t want simple syrup due to the calories use agave.  Cut up your favorite fruit and steep it into the simple syrup.  If you’re using agave, puree the fruit and add agave.  Chop the remainder of the fruit to place into your cup.  Mix tea, simple syrup or agave and chopped fruit along with ice.  A fave of mine is peach tea or mango tea.

DIY pink lemonade – This cuts the calories and is good.  Take your blended agua fresca watermelon, the juice of a lemon, and agave syrup.

Popsicles – Take any of the above drinks along with the diced fruit(s) of your choice and place them into popsicle molds.  Place them into the freezer until ready.  On a hot day you’ll totally enjoy this refreshing treat.

Frozen fruit – So simple yet so underrated.  Frozen grapes and watermelons on a hot summer day are DELISH.  Go ahead and put a stick or toothpick into your fruit to make it feel like you’re enjoying a popsicle.  We’re all kids at hard.  

DIY smoothies – You may think smoothies, how is this going to keep me hydrated.  Fruits are packed with water and sugars so they’ll definitely keep you hydrated.  This will definitely keep you cool, hydrated and give you the necessary intake of vitamins.  Blend your favorite fruits with your favorite juice or milk and yogurt ( if you need your calcium like I do) along with ice and honey or agave.  Some magazines even suggest blending basil and spinach and other vegetables in your smoothies for extra water and vitamins….although I’m not that quite adventurous yet but you can try.  😛

The benefit of all this?  Hydrated, glowing, and healthy skin that will really show off that tan you may have just acquired.  Plus it’ll keep you away from those heat wave headaches.

To make these drinks not so beneficial in hydration department but for some grown up summer fun add your favorite liquor.  For teas, I suggest rum.  Dark rum, if you’re brewing with black tea leaves.  Light rum, if you’re brewing herbal and white tea leaves.  For lemonade, vodka.  For aguas frescas, tequila… like I did with some strawberries.  🙂


On another ocassion, I took the watermelon aguas frescas, lime juice, tequila (agave tequila), triple sec, and club soda nice to make me and the hubs watermelon margaritas. Yummy!

Stay cool while in the heat!  Hope you’re all enjoying your summer!