Easy Avocado Tuna Salad

Easy Avocado Tuna Salad RecipeLet me introduce you to your new favorite healthy snack: Easy Avocado Tuna Salad. My quest for an easy and healthy snack lead me to The Healthy Maven’s recipe for tuna salad. I made a few tweaks, and immediately became hooked.

Although I’d love to nosh on cheese and crackers all afternoon long—and believe me I could with the entire cheese drawer in our refridgerator stuffed full of decandent cheese—my waistline and my dietitian (and of course by dietitian I mean the internet), confirm that this is not the snack of champions. And that is how I arrived at a delicious and healthy alternative to the classic tuna salad. Hardcore health nuts and weight lifters will eat tuna straight from the can. I’m not that hardcore. Not even close. But I don’t eat mayo. See my dilemma? Enter avocado, stage right. The tangy flavor of Dijon mustard mixed with refreshing apple and crunchy celery, plus a dash of spice and citrus, and voilà! A simple, healthy and flavorful snack was born.

This is culinary greatness in my book. Easy, few and fresh ingredients, healthy, and cheap. Yep, culinary greatness by all accounts. Get ready to toss out that unhealthy version for this Easy Avocado Tuna Salad.

Easy Avocado Tuna Salad
Here’s what you’ll need:

1 large ripe avocado
2 cans of chunk light tuna in water, drained
1/2 cup chopped scallions (green parts only)
2/3 cup chopped celery
1/2 green apple, chopped
1 heaping tsp. dried dill weed
1 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Makes 4-6 servings.

  1. Peel and pit the avocado and place in a medium bowl, then mash it up with the back of a fork.
  2. Add in tuna, scallions, celery and apple. Mix until just combined.
  3. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.
  4. Serve as a healthy snack on top of crackers or cucumber, or enjoy spread between two slices of bread for the perfect sandwich any time of day.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 💜

Printable recipe

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Eggs in Purgatory

eggs in purgatorySimple, healthy, and delicious—the three criteria I live by for creating or following a recipe. Eggs in purgatory hit all of those marks. Plus, this dish whips up in no time!

The main ingredient is cauliflower, but don’t let that deter you from making this dish if you don’t usually like it. In fact, you probably won’t even realize that you’re eating cauliflower. That’s because its beautifully masked by the spicy crushed tomatoes and other ingredients.

I tried to find the origin of eggs in purgatory, or shakshuka as its called in North Africa and the Middle East, but apparently several cultures have laid claim to its creation. Although its origins may be a bit murky, whoever invented it sure did us all a favor! 😉

This is a perfect dish to make on a Saturday or Sunday morning, for brunch or even dinner—heck, anytime of day is perfect for making and devouring this dish! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 💜

Eggs in Purgatory
Here’s what you’ll need:

1 small (or ½ of a medium) head of cauliflower, cut into ½-inch pieces
fine-grain sea salt
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes with peppers, onions, and garlic—salsa style
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 eggs
marjoram leaves for garnish
(optional—for spice lovers) red pepper flakes

Makes one large skillet full; about 2-4 servings.

  1. In a large pot, boil the cauliflower in salted water (a dash of sea salt will do) for one minute. Cauliflower should be barely tender.
  2. In a medium bowl, add the flour. Drain cauliflower, shaking off any excess water, and toss with the flour in your medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet (a cast iron skillet is ideal, but not necessary), heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Take the floured cauliflower, tapping off extra flour, and place into the skillet being careful not to burn yourself. Arrange in a single layer and cook until golden, 4-5 minutes, flipping from time to time to evenly cook and make golden.
  4. Stir in tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer. (Spice lovers: sprinkle red pepper flakes all over cauliflower and sauce mixture. Keep in mind a little goes a long way!)
  5. Using a spoon, make small pockets for the eggs near the outer edges of the skillet. Break eggs into the pockets you just made and place a cover over skillet. Cook until the eggs are set (4-5 minutes). Serve immediately, garnishing with the marjoram.

Enjoy!

Printable recipe

This dish was inspired by Heidi Swanson’s recipe in her book, Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel.

Follow me on Twitter: @LibbeyC and Instagram: @ironwomandiaries

Mango, Avocado, & Rice Spring Rolls

Mango, avocado, and shrimp spring rollsWhat’s better than delicious? Because whatever that is, describes just how amazing these spring rolls are. Seriously, I could have eaten EVERY SINGLE ONE! I think you’ll find that these are super easy to make, full of good-for-you fresh ingredients, and an easy recipe to swap or omit the ingredients you don’t like, don’t have, or can’t find.

There are three main keys to follow when making these spring rolls:

  1. Slice your ingredients thin (see image below).
  2. Don’t over-stuff. Doing so will likely cause your rice wrapper to tear, or make it rather difficult to eat.
  3. Roll tightly. Practice makes perfect and it may take you a couple of tries to really get the hang of rolling these. Good thing is, no one is judging you by how they look, just how delicious they taste!
ingredients for mango, avocado, rice spring rolls

Thinly sliced ingredients for spring rolls.

Although I’m calling these ‘mango, avocado, & spring rice rolls,’ don’t be fooled. There are a few other essential ingredients to round out this recipe into a super healthy and flavorful dish.

peanut sauce and rice wrappers

I love this peanut sauce and these spring roll wrappers were perfect, too!

Mango, Avocado, & Rice Spring Rolls
Here’s what you’ll need:

10 spring roll wrappers (approx. 9-in. rounds)
1 cup, packed, baby spinach
1 cup purple flowering kale, stems removed (You may find this particular ingredient hard to find. No worries, though, simply omit it from this recipe.)
½ yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
½ orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 mango, peeled and thinly sliced (Check out these instructions if you are unsure how best to cut a mango. Unlike these instructions, however, keep your slices thin and long, not thick and cubed.)
1 avocado, pit removed, peeled, and thinly sliced (Check out these instructions if you are unsure how best to cut an avocado.)
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
¾ cup cooked jasmine rice
Spicy peanut dipping sauce: Tsang® Bangkok Peanut Sauce (or another peanut sauce of your choice)

Makes 10 spring rolls

  1. Fill a wide-mouth bowl (or improvise and use a sauté pan!) with warm water. Take one rice paper wrapper and dip it into the water. Let it soak 10-15 seconds or until the rice paper becomes soft and pliable. Remove from water, letting the excess water drip into the bowl, and place on a clean surface or wet tea towel.
  2. Fill the bottom third of the rice paper wrapper with two spinach leaves and flowering kale leaves, one yellow and one orange pepper strip, 1-2 strips of mango and avocado, and two teaspoon sized spoonfuls of jasmine rice. Finish by generously sprinkling cilantro on top of other ingredients.
  3. Fold the bottom of the rice wrapper, up. Then fold in both sides and roll paper tightly, upwards, to form a neat roll shape. Set roll aside.
  4. Repeat process with each rice paper wrapper until you have 10 neatly rolled spring rolls.
  5. Serve immediately alongside spicy peanut dipping sauce.

Another excellent add-in is sautéed shrimp. Lightly sauté 6-7 medium-sized shrimp in olive oil over medium heat. Allow for shrimp to cool slightly before handling.

Có một bữa ăn ngon! (“Have a nice meal” translated in Vietnamese) 💜

Printable recipe

Joe rolling together the mango, avocado, and rice spring rolls

Joe, master spring roll roller.

This recipe is my own, if you repurpose or share this recipe please link to this page and give IronwomanDiaries credit. Thanks!
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Vegan Pumpkin Soup [from scratch]

Vegan pumpkin soupWeather in Wisconsin the last few days has been dreary. Thankfully we have a glorious wood stove that takes the chill out of these cold fall nights. Better yet on these dreary and cold nights, is a bowl of homemade soup to warm the body and soul from the inside out. I have to admit, I was a bit intimidated by the thought of making pumpkin soup totally from scratch but, after just recently mastering the skill of baking spaghetti squash, I felt up to the challenge. (Never cooked spaghetti squash before? Watch this super helpful video and see how easy it actually is!)

I think you’ll find that the little extra work involved in making this soup is well worth it. Nothing can compare to the fresh taste of something made completely from scratch. This soup is creamy, oh-so-tasty, and packed with good-for-you ingredients. I guarantee you’ll love this dish as much as I did!

As a side note, I’m feeling a bit guilty that my food pictures aren’t always (if ever) spectacular (especially at home). Black countertops and poor lighting contribute to this, however really it comes down to time. I don’t have time to stage the perfect photo nor the equipment to do so. I hope you can look past that and see that the recipes are delicious and worthy of cooking/baking in your own kitchen. And, if you do, maybe you’ll share your (better) photos with me! 📷💜

Vegan Pumpkin Soup [from scratch]
Here’s what you’ll need:

2 pie pumpkins (also known as sugar pumpkins)
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups organic vegetable stock
1 13.66 fl. oz can of light coconut milk (or about 1.5 cups)
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
½ tsp. fine sea salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
ground black pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil

(Optional) Garnish with:
raw pepitas
pure maple syrup

Makes 4 large servings

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. With a large, sharp knife, cut off the tops of both pie pumpkins and then cut each in to halves. Use a large spoon with a pointier edge to spoon and scrape out the center of the pumpkin halves. Be sure to remove all of the seeds* and strings.
  3. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on the flesh of each pumpkin and place flesh-side down on the baking sheet. Bake 55-60 minutes. Note: if you use smaller pie pumpkins, your roasting time may be less. Similarly, if you use larger ones, you may need to roast slightly longer. You’ll know when the pumpkins are done when you can easily pierce the skin with a fork.roasted pie pumpkins
  4. When roasting is complete, remove tray and pumpkins from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Spoon out flesh (or peel off the skin, whichever you prefer) and place in a medium-sized bowl. Pumpkin puree
  5. In a medium stockpot (8 quart), add 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and minced garlic. Sauté over medium heat 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add vegetable stock, coconut milk, seasonings, and pumpkin to stockpot and bring to a simmer (keep at medium heat).
  7. Carefully transfer soup mixture to a blender to purée soup. Using a medium speed, blend until just creamy and smooth. Most likely you will need to blend the soup mixture in batches. While you do this process, transfer freshly blended soup into a pourable mixing bowl until all of the soup mixture has been puréed. Now pour soup back into the stockpot. Blender with pumpkin soup mixture
  8. Cook for an additional 5 minutes until soup is hot. Serve in your favorite soup bowl as is, or garnish with a bit of pure maple syrup and raw pepitas.

Bon appétit! 💜

*Don’t toss those seeds! Roast them for a delicious snack later. See this Roasted Pumpkin Seeds recipe.

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This recipe is my own, if you repurpose or share this recipe please link to this page and give IronwomanDiaries credit. Thanks!
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

5 Reasons to eat chocolate today [And not just because it’s #NationalChocolateDay!]

#NationalChocolateDay 2015It’s National Chocolate Day! What a perfect excuse to eat a little extra chocolate.

Chocolate is probably my biggest weakness—especially if peanut butter is involved and it’s in ice cream form! 😜 I don’t really care for candy bars, just a piece of dark chocolate is enough to satisfy my nightly cravings. I’ve also been known to occasionally sprinkle cacao nibs on my overnight oats or raspberry topped English muffin. Luckily though, there are proven health benefits associated with dark chocolate and, especially, cacao nibs.

Have you tried cacao nibs? They are slightly bitter (I always by the unsweetened ones, as those are the purest and pack the most health benefits), but if you add them to overnight oats, a smoothie, or on top of toast, you won’t even notice this. I buy the Navitas Natural brand. They are the perfect excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast and still feel good about it!

As promised, 5 Reasons to eat chocolate today:

  1. Flavonoids: These powerful antioxidants absorb free radicals that cause damage in the body; like heart disease and cancer.
  2. Reduced inflammation: Amazingly, chocolate can help reduce inflammation in blood vessels, keeping them both pliable and capable of full dilation for optimum blood flow to your heart and other working muscles.
  3. Improve your mood: Scientifically speaking, chocolate and cacao stimulate the brain to release a feel good chemical, phenylethamine, that triggers the release of endorphins. This causes dopamine, which is associated with pleasure, to spike in production. All you need to know is, chocolate really can make a person happy!
  4. Less cravings: Dark chocolate lessens cravings of sweet, salty, and fatty foods. So that means eating a bit of chocolate can actually help you stick to a balanced diet!
  5. Everything in moderation: There are many other health benefits of dark chocolate and cacao, but when it comes down to it, I’m a believer of everything in moderation. If you are craving chocolate—eat it! Depriving yourself will only cause you to over-indulge later or be unhappy. Life is a balancing act. Finding what balance works for you is the key to your happiness.

So go ahead, eat some chocolate today! 💜