Preparing a summer salad is a creative outlet that allows me to experiment and play with my food. Colorful and fresh ingredients are readily available in the stores, farmer’s markets, CSA boxes and, if you are lucky, your own garden. Magic happens in a salad bowl when fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruits combine with a light dressing. A mix of crunchy and soft textures with sweet and tangy flavors delight the taste buds.
Inspiration for this summer salad came from a nectarine, my first of the season. This nectarine was surprisingly sweet and juicy. Resisting a nectarine with its gorgeous red-orange skin and luring sweet smell is nearly impossible. They just might be my favorite fruit. Hence, my decision to use the nectarine in my newest summer salad creation.
A Palette of Vegetables
Creating a brilliant summer salad isn’t difficult. There are so many tasty, fresh ingredients to inspire a multitude of delicious results. With my guys out-of-town for the weekend, I only had my own taste buds to please. As a result, I could experiment with whatever I had on hand. The refrigerator yielded fresh ginger, lacinato kale, red cabbage, a red pepper and the remaining quinoa from a previous meal. From my pantry came an avocado, orange cherry tomatoes, a lemon, olive oil, and almonds. Pink Himalayan salt and toasted sesame seeds were in my spice drawer. Finally, the pièce de resistance, that gorgeous nectarine was waiting in the fruit bowl just for me.
Simple Steps to a Summer Salad Masterpiece
Whisk the juice from half a lemon, ginger, olive oil and salt together in the salad bowl.
2. Rip the dark green kale leaves from their center stem and slice them up into thin ribbons. Toss them with the lemon juice mixture.
3. Chop some red cabbage and add it into the bowl with the kale.
4. Make thin slices from the red pepper, cut them into bite sized pieces and toss them in with the kale and cabbage.
5. Add quinoa to the bowl and mix it all together. I had some radish slices mixed in with my leftover quinoa (just in case you are wondering about the little white circles). They could be added, but aren’t necessary for this salad.
6. Chop up the nectarine, tomatoes, avocado and almonds.
7. Toss everything together in the bowl and top with the almonds and sesame seeds.
8. Serve it up on a plate and enjoy. Alternatively, you can it eat it straight from the bowl. It’s so good you’ll devour the entire salad. At least I did.
9. Finally, enjoy outside with a beautiful view.
What are your favorite summer salad combinations?
Thérèse Buckingham for Vitality in Focus
Summer Salad: A Palette of Colorful, Fresh Ingredients
Next Level Burgerwas a neweating experience that surprised us with its concept and the taste of its burgers.
Last Saturday my husband, two sons and I, made a spontaneous trip to Portland to watch the State Championship lacrosse game. We knew that we would need to grab a quick dinner before the game. Therefore, before we left home I did a Google search for healthy restaurants close to the game venue (West Linn High School). In my last post, 4STEPS ON HOW TO EAT HEALTHY WHILETRAVELING, I explained how doing a little research ahead of time saves us a lot of angst and frustration when it comes time to find a healthy place to eat. Although there were several options, Next Level Burger best fit our time and location constraints. Additionally, it is a burger joint and my guys were all over that!
Next Level Burger
Next Level Burger has the philosophy that food should be sustainably sourced, organic, non-GMO and delicious and that spoke to me. Looking at a photo of their menu board online we saw traditional to unique burger choices. Descriptive words like “savory meaty patty” and “juicy sausage style patty” appealed to my guys. A place concerned with the quality of their ingredients surely could tell me what has or doesn’t have soy in its ingredients. So, we left Bend with our dinnerdestination agreed upon.
With stomachs growling we pulled into the parking lot. The guys were looking forward to the burgers ( I think they were starting to salivate) and I just wanted a soy, gluten, and dairy free meal.
Expectations Shot Down With a Single Word
The cheerful woman behind the counter greeted us with a lively “hello” and asked, “Are you familiar with Next Level Burger?” We must have looked like deer in headlights as we were scanning the menu board above the counter. We shook our heads, “No, this is our first time.” She jumped all over that and quickly said, “We are 100% vegan. Let me tell you about our burgers…” Wait, What? Vegan? This was not what my guys had their taste buds set on.
Describing their burgers with words like “meaty and “juicy” made it harder to comprehend the vegan part. Her enthusiasm was evident in how she deciphered the entire menu for us. Although, I think she lost Rikley and Keaton at “vegan”.
Try Something New
Without time to come up with a plan B, we were willing to try something new even if it wasn’t at all what we had envisioned. Besides, we have cut our meat consumption at home considerably and have been enjoying many vegan meals. Rob and the boys placed their orders for burgers with sweet potato fries.
I consulted with the woman helping us, explaining my dietary restrictions, and chose a quinoa-black chia seed patty on a bed of lettuce. No bun, no tempeh smokey bacon and no egg-free mayo. She asked if I wanted NL-cheese on my burger. I quickly said, “No dairy, thank you.” She immediately reminded me of the whole vegan thing. Was it the three plus hour drive we made to get there or my grumbling stomach that was making it so hard for me to understand that the ENTIRE menu, even the shakes, is vegan?
Long Story Short
Here is the quick synopsis:
We were traveling (again).
A Google search led us to a healthy, organic, burger joint called Next Level Burger.
To our surprise it turned out to be a vegan restaurant.
We ate our vegan burgers in the car before the lacrosse game.
Filling and flavorful the burgers were completely devoured without a single complaint. Not a single crumb was left in the compostable take out boxes.
I was much happier without a greasy burger. In retrospect, my only regret is that I was pressed for time and couldn’t savor it while I ate.
The sweet potato fries were some of the best I’ve ever had.
I am eager and the guys are willing to try again.
Next Level Burger wants to redefine the classic American burger experience. Therefore, if you are looking to increase your intake of plant-based foods then Next Level Burger is the place to go. This particular NLB is inside the 365 by Whole Foods concept store in Lake Oswego, Oregon. In addition, you can also find them on SE Hawthorne Street in Portland, and opening in August at Roosevelt Square in Seattle. Lucky for us, their flagship store opened almost three years ago in Bend. So, we may have another opportunity to try Next Level Burger in the near future.
My meal was very satisfying, and I will definitely go again. Maybe I’ll try one of their beautiful salads or a different kind of patty. Committed to “good food, good people and good for the planet” this place speaks to me. My guys liked their meals and would try it again knowing ahead of time that they won’t be eating a beef burger.
Don’t Judge A Burger By Its Vegetables
There is a moral to this story. Veering out of your food comfort zone can lead you to a new experience with a tasty outcome and a healthy alternative to a familiar food.
*Full disclosure: I didn’t take any pictures of our burgers or experience. All of the photos in this post were curated from Instagram.
As we go into the biggest traveling time of the year, the question for many is, how can I eat healthy while traveling. Perhaps the most trying part of traveling is finding a healthy meal? It isn’t always easy and it can be stressful when you are traveling with others who are hungry and just want to eat NOW! I’ve found 4 steps to help me succeed.
If you have read my About page you’ll know that I don’t tolerate soy. It’s an intolerance not an allergy, but nonetheless eating something with a soy based ingredient will make my stomach cramped, bloated, and gassy. It is uncomfortable at any time, but when traveling it is even worse. Along with soy there are some food additives that can trigger a headache or create stomach discomfort. Nitrates in processed meats and artificial sweeteners are two of those additives. In addition I have a goal, for myself and my family, to eat for optimal health. When you take into consideration convenience, time constraints and sticking to a budget you can see how the goal to eat healthy while traveling can be illusive.
There are two major roadblocks to eating well on the road or in the air. Number one is time. Taking time out to sit down and order a meal when you are on a long drive, and you just want to get to your destination isn’t ideal. Most of the time when we are on a long road trip, we want to refuel our stomachs and gas tanks in one stop. For the most part fast food restaurants and gas stations will have little to no soy-free options and don’t meet the goal of eating for optimal health. Number two is the lack of availability of healthy real foods. If you struggle with similar issues when you travel I hope that my 4 steps on how to eat healthy while traveling is helpful.
4 Steps on how to Eat Healthy While Traveling
Below are the steps that I use to find a healthy meal or snack when traveling.
1. Be Committed
Make sure you are clear on your eating goals before you embark on your trip. It could be to not eat any fried foods, include a fresh vegetable with each meal, or drink only water until you reach your destination. You might have, like me, certain ingredients that wreak havoc on your digestive system. In that case, your goal will be to avoid foods containing the culprit ingredients. It is also important that your travel partners are aware of your goals and willing to make some accommodations so that you are successful.
Last spring Rob, Keaton and I were on a ski/college visitation road trip to Utah and Montana. We arrived in Eden, Utah, hungry and tired after a long day on the road, and found a family owned Mexican restaurant. As is typical in Mexican restaurants, they set chips and salsa on the table as soon as we sat down. I always ask what oil is used for frying the tortilla chips. If I’m lucky it’s corn or canola. However, soybean oil is cheap and is often the oil of choice for frying.
I wasn’t lucky this time because as I was questioning the waiter he let me know that soybean oil is added to their salsa and every dish on the menu. There was one exception; guacamole. Now, I love guacamole, and they let me bring in the bag of tortilla chips we had in the car, but the hot meals that Rob and Keaton ate looked and smelled delicious. Then again, who wouldn’t want free liberty to eat an entire order of guacamole by themselves?
the Wasatch Mountains in Utah
2. Be Prepared
Prepare ahead of time if you want to eat healthy while traveling and avoid feeling poorly. I always carry raw nuts and seeds, dried sulfate-free fruits and a couple limited ingredient protein bars like RxBars and Lara Bars. These bars can always replace a meal when I can’t find something suitable. They are great on an airplane in place of the salty & oily snack packs of nuts, pretzels etc… the flight attendants give out. They are also more favorable than the expensive pre-packed “meals” you can purchase.
You will have greater options when traveling by car especially if you will be staying in a hotel with a small refrigerator. I like to pack an insulated bag with some hummus, carrot & celery sticks, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit, my Pre-Run Energy Cookies, or homemade muffins like the Super Hero Muffins from Run Fast Eat Slow. In addition to the cooler bag, I’ll have a bag with an assortment of the same food items that I take on flights along with a bag of granola as a breakfast option. I love this particular granolabecause it is gluten and soy-free, and it doesn’t have added sugar. I can only find it in store at our local Market of Choice, but it is available to order on Amazon. Being prepared means I won’t starve, and I can supplement a meal if necessary.
Finally, I also prepare for the just in case situation where I inadvertently eat something that causes stomach pains. I have found that Traditional Medicinals makes a line of organic digestive teas. The Belly Comfort (formerly Eater’s Digest), Gas Relief and Ginger Aid teas are all in my arsenal. They are soothing and helpful. I feel much better sipping on tea than I do about popping an OTC medication like Tums, Rolaids or Prilosec into my mouth. Those come with side effects that I don’t want to deal with. I prefer to first follow the Hippocrates quote, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
3. Know How to Hunt
When we have time to sit down and order at the table we have learned to search Google for “healthy restaurants in(city name)” or “vegetarian restaurants in (city name).” Both of these searches will usually generate a top 10 list through Yelp or TripAdvisor. We have had a lot of luck with this method. This is how we were able to enjoy fabulous meals at:
Market on Front in Missoula, MT
Mizuna in Spokane, WA
a vegetarian meal of field roast and chipotle tomato sauce on top of Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes
Simple Food Group in Lake Geneva, WI
beautiful seasonal frittata, the perfect meal for a post 7-mile lake side run
Shine in Boulder, CO
slaw made with kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, carrots and quinoa topped with wild smoked salmon
I just discovered eatwellguide.org. This is a website where you can input a city and it will generate a list of recommended restaurants. “The Eat Well Guide® is a curated directory of over 25,000 hand-picked restaurants, farms, markets and other sources of local, sustainable food throughout the US”. The next time we are looking for a restaurant, grocery store or farmer’s market in an unfamiliar place I will remember to use this website. It could even help find new options in your home town.
Grocery stores can offer a hunting ground when nothing else works. There have been times when my guys will grab a fast burger with fries, and I’ll walk through a grocery store and come out with a tub of hummus, a box of acceptable crackers and some fresh fruit.
Sometimes you have to be patient and hunt a little harder. One night, intent on a pizza dinner, four of us went into three Italian restaurants before finding one that made their pizza crust and sauce without soybean oil.
It’s exciting to discover a gem. My idea of a gem is a restaurant that is allergen savvy. It will use fresh locally sourced ingredients when possible and have a menu full of healthy options. These are safe havens for me. Bushel & Peck’s in Beloit, Wisconsin is such a place. With Rikley attending College in Beloit we visited 1-2 times a year to watch him play soccer and lacrosse. Bushel & Pecks’ was the place I knew I could get a breakfast, lunch or dinner and not only would it be soy-free, but it also checked the box next to “eat healthy while traveling”. We would eat here two times a day if needed. This is what I will miss most about Beloit now that Rikley has graduated and we won’t be visiting again.
4. Stay Calm and Make the Best of It
Occasionally things just don’t workout the way you hope. While traveling across country last September with my sister, we stopped at an Amish restaurant in rural Minnesota. We were hungry and ready for a break, however the choices were slim. I ordered a grilled tomato-basil and cheese sandwich. I waited in hungry anticipation for a golden-grilled sandwich, cheese melting out from the sides and a stack of tomatoes and basil in-between. Imagine my disappointment when a slightly browned sandwich with two square pieces of Kraft cheese, that hadn’t melted, a slice of tomato and a basil leaf was set down in front of me. This was one of those times when my stash of nuts and a protein bar came in handy.
One stop on our road-trip from Portland, Oregon to Beloit, Wisconsin. I had lots of creative meals along the way.
A couple of weeks ago we had time to get dinner in Chicago before our flight home. We chose an Italian restaurant where we hoped to get a deep dish pizza. Unfortunately for me, the pizza dough had soybean oil in it. I opted for a dinner size salad with olive oil and vinegar on the side. My salad didn’t smell or look as good as the deep dish pizza my sister and husband were eating. However, it was a healthier choice and I didn’t have a belly ache on the flight home!
the Buckinghams in front of the Buckingham Fountain in Chicago
Let your waiter know your food or diet restrictions. Most of the time they are very accommodating and can help you find something on the menu you can eat. Look for options that aren’t fried, are made without creamy sauces and come with fresh vegetables. Thank them for their help. Last Friday with the help of my server at Immersion Brewery I had a delicious roasted sweet potato and beet salad with quinoa. They switched out the dressing for me and left off the cheese.
Food For Thought
It is possible to eat healthy while traveling. However it takes some forethought, dedication, patience and sometimes a sense of humor. Finally, there’s the time when we arrived in Chicago well past our dinner time. There was a TGIF’s at our hotel. The menu had icons to indicate the allergens in each dish. While this was very helpful, after searching the extensive menu, I found only two options; clam chowder and steamed broccoli. I ordered both, put the broccoli in the chowder, and had a meal that filled me.
As more and more of you follow these steps and ask for more real food options, I hope companies will make it easier to live a healthful lifestyle while we travel. I love the mission statement from Bushel & Peck’s and would like to see more places like this.
Do you try to eat healthy while traveling? What experiences have you had trying to eat healthy while traveling?
When I hear fritter I think of some morsel of food that’s been covered in a batter and deep fried. Think of corn fritters, hush puppies or apple fritters and the word healthy doesn’t come to mind. However, fritters can also be pan fried with a little healthy fat and made up of any number of vegetables. My aim is to find recipes that are good for you, taste great and are simple to make. This recipe fits the bill. It has just 9 ingredients that should be readily available at most stores or could be substituted. These vegetable fitters are versatile and are even good cold the next day for lunch, so double the recipe and have plenty left over. Pair them with a kale salad and you have a nutritious complete meal.
Potential Health Benefits
There’s lots of healthy goodness in this meal. The ingredients contain antioxidants, nutrients, essential fatty acids, and minerals that boast numerous health benefits. As a result your brain, skin, eyes, joints, gut and heart will thank you. In addition, a dinner like this can speed up your metabolism, increase your energy and improve your memory.
Zucchini is low in calories and high in anti-inflammatory properties. Essential nutrients like potassium and manganese are high in zucchini. In addition, it has a high water content that makes you feel full.
I grew up watching commercials for Chia Pets, and was surprised when chia seeds became a popular superfood. There are a number of reported health benefits to adding nutrient dense chia seeds into your diet. Studies have shown that they can improve heart and digestive health, boost your energy and metabolism, help you build muscle and lose weight, and prevent premature aging of the skin. They are versatile and can be added to many recipes. I’ve use them in our morning smoothies, breads and pancakes, on yogurt with granola and in these fritters. There is some evidence that soaking them in water for 30 minutes makes them easier to digest and makes the nutrients more readily available.
The list of health benefits for coconut oil goes on and on. From reducing inflammation to improving memory in addition to boosting the immune system and increasing energy and endurance it has an impressive line-up of benefits when used both orally and topically. It is important to buy cold pressed extra virgin coconut oil and avoid the refined or processed oil to ensure that you get the greatest health benefits.
These vegetable fritters are so easy to make especially if you have a food processor. My Cuisinart is about 25 years old and still running strong. It makes quick work of prepping vegetables, making hummus, chopping nuts and making smooth salad dressings. I keep mine readily available on a shelf in my pantry so that deciding to use it is a no brainer. If your useful kitchen tools and small appliances are buried in a cupboard behind other things you won’t use them. At least that is my experience, because a knife or grater is easier to grab than getting down on your knees and pulling things out to get to the food processor. Alternatively, you can use a box grater if you don’t have a food processor.
Carrots & Zucchini
You’ll want about 2 cups of grated vegetables for this recipe. You can see that I have a heaping 2 cups from 1 large zucchini and 2 large carrots. I had extra grated carrots that I then used in the kale salad. The zucchini has a high water content, so it helps to squeeze or press some of the moisture out of it before adding it to the other ingredients. After grating the zucchini put it into a colander with small holes or a mesh sieve, sprinkle a little salt on it and let it sit while you prepare the carrots and onion. Then just push the zucchini down and let the excess water drain out. Alternatively you can squeeze it with your hands. You could also use sweet potatoes, parsnips, rutabaga, or butternut squash.
Dice half an onion to equal about 1/2 cup. Onions add immense flavor to savory recipes.
Add Flax & Chia
Put the carrots, zucchini, and onion into a bowl and add 1/3 cup of flax meal and 3 teaspoons of chia seeds.
Break two eggs into a smaller bowl and give them a quick whisk with a fork.
You can make this a vegan meal by replacing the eggs with chia seeds.
Next add a 1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan pink, sea or kosher salt and 3 grinds of pepper from a pepper mill. Mix it all together.
Kale Salad to Complete the Meal
This is a simple kale salad to serve along with the fritters. Plus the ingredients add to the nutritional bang of this meal. I like to use Lacinato (dinosaur) kale in salads, but I had curly kale, so I used it. There are just 7 ingredients in this salad. Wash, de-stem and chop the kale. Put the kale, the extra grated carrots, and 2 tablespoons each of pepitas and goji berries into a bowl. Drizzle the juice of a lemon and a tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil on top with a pinch or two of salt and toss to combine. When I make a kale or cabbage salad I like to make it first and let it sit while I prepare the rest of the meal. This helps to soften the kale and the flavors have time to mingle and create a more flavorful salad.
After the salad sits for 10 minutes give it a taste test and add more lemon juice or salt if you think it needs it. If you don’t have any more lemon juice then apple cider vinegar works as well.
Cooking the Fritters
Heat a griddle pan or skillet on medium heat and melt 1/2 a tsp of coconut oil on the hot surface. I love this griddle pan from Al Clad. It covers two burners and allows me to fry more fritters at a time. Measure about a 1/4 -1/3 cup of fritter batter onto the hot skillet and let them cook until browned, about 4 minutes. Flip the fritters and brown on the other side. Make sure you keep mixing the eggs back into the batter. They tend to puddle in the bottom of the bowl and you want them to cook with the fritters.
These fritters smell delicious as they are cooking and get a nice golden brown crunch on them. You’ll want to sneak bites as they come hot off the griddle.
Dinner is Ready
Plate 2-3 fritters along side the kale salad and get ready to enjoy. Save any leftover fritters for tomorrow’s lunch. One of the nice things about using kale in a salad instead of lettuce is that the leftovers don’t get limp or slimy by the next day. You can enjoy leftover salad tomorrow as well.
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2 cups grated carrots and zucchini (about two large carrots and one large zucchini)
2 eggs; whisked (organic and/or free-range if possible)
1/3 cup flax meal
3 tsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp Himalayan or sea salt
3 grinds on a pepper mill
1-2 tsp coconut oil
THE KALE SALAD:
2 cups of chopped kale
1 cup of grated carrots (you can use what is left from the carrots grated for the fritters)
2 TBS pepitas
2TBS goji berries (could replace with raisins, dried cherries, or dried blueberries)
Juice from 1 lemon
1-2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Add all of the salad ingredients to a bowl and toss to combine. Let the salad sit while you make the fritters. This will give the kale time to soften.
To make the fritters combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
Heat the coconut oil in a hot skillet.
Spoon about 1/3 cup of the fritter batter onto skillet and flatten out like little pancakes. Fit as many as you can onto the cooking surface.
Let the fritters fry for about 4 minutes until brown underneath.
Turn them and let them brown on the other side.
Serve the fritters with the kale salad and enjoy!
Zucchini has a high water content and it is best to drain some out before adding it to the other ingredients. After grating the zucchini put it into a colander with small holes or a mesh sieve, sprinkle a little salt on it and let it sit while you prepare the carrots and onion. Then just push the zucchini down and let the excess water drain out. Alternatively you can squeeze it with your hands.
You can make this a vegan meal by substituting the eggs for more chia seeds, 1 TBS/egg) that have been soaked in water for about 30 minutes or so. You can used ground chia or flax seeds as an egg substitute as well.