Tomato Orzo Salad

Remember those bright red tomatoes I got? Well it is your turn to go find some so you can try out one of my all-time favorite side dishes: Tomato Orzo Salad.

The great thing about this salad is that it becomes anything you want it to be. Just start with tomatoes and orzo pasta and then add whatever veggies you want! Here is the version I put together:

I started out with orzo, tomatoes, olive oil, lemon, avocado, cucumber, green onions, and olives.

I then put 1/2 a cup of orzo in some water and let it cook until it was al dente (not to hard, and not mushy)

While that was cooking, I chopped up all my vegetables into bite sized pieces.

After the pasta was done cooking, I cooled it off by rinsing with cold water. Then I added it to a bowl with all of the veggies:

Last, but not least, add the dressing. For this one I used olive oil and lemon juice, but you can also use Italian dressing if you have that in your fridge already. Stir it all up, and chill until you are ready to eat!

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This delicious salad is a great for lunch boxes, dinnertime, or an after school snack!

If you want to get creative, here are some alternative topping ideas:

  • Italian Style: Orzo + Tomato + Mozzarella + Basil + Italian Dressing
  • Mexican Style: Orzo + Tomato + Cheddar cubes + olives + avocado +cilantro + onion
  • Oriental Style: Orzo + Tomato + Water chestnuts + soy sauce + bean sprouts + imitation crab

Get creative and try your favorite combination of vegetables, the options are endless!

 

Happy Creating!
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Healthy from my head ‘Tomatoes’

Happy Monday everyone! Guess what I picked up for our Wednesday Recipe today?

Tomatoes galore! Don’t those look so good? I am excited to start cooking with them but before I do that, let’s talk a little bit about this vegetable (or is it a fruit?).

The debate has been going on for years. Is the tomato a fruit or is it a vegetable? If you look at a tomato from a gardening (or botanical) perspective, tomatoes have seeds and therefore are fruits. When it comes to the culinary world, however, tomatoes are better represented as a vegetable. This confusion even brought the tomato to the Supreme Court in 1983, where it was ruled as a vegetable.

 

So in short… A tomato is officially a vegetable.

 

 

This vegetable has become so popular, that around 93% of gardens in the United States have at least 1 tomato plant and for a good reason! They are delicious, are useful in many different recipes, and they are EXTREMELY healthy

 

Did you know? Tomatoes are unique because they become more and more healthier the more they are processed (cooked, canned, blended, etc.) Your body absorbs more of the nutrients from a can of tomato sauce than from a fresh tomato (but the fresh tomato is still very healthy).   

Health Benefits
  • Contain a nutrient called ‘lycopene’: Lycopene is extremely healthy for our body because it prevents your cells from being damaged, it helps you live longer, it keeps your brain healthy, and it supports your immune system!
  • High in Vitamin C: In fact, 1 cup of tomatoes have about 1/3 of the amount you need for the entire day! Vitamin C keeps your immune system and your respiratory system strong!
  • Good source of Vitamin A: Vitamin A is an important nutrient for your eyes.
  • Healthy source of Vitamin K: 1 cup of tomatoes has about 25% of the recommended intake for Vitamin K. Vitamin K is well known for the role it plays in your blood. When you get a scratch or cut, Vitamin K helps your body slow the bleeding and ‘clot’ so that you don’t bleed out all the way with a simple paper cut.
Creative Creations

Tomatoes are so versatile and are used in many different countries. The possibilities are endless, but here are a few ideas to get your creative juices going:

  • Canned or homemade tomato sauce for pasta
  • Salad topping
  • Marinades for chicken
  • Homemade salsa
  • Stuff with diced veggies, ground turkey, and cheese, and bake in the oven
  • Grill them
  • Top sandwiches
  • Bruschetta: French bread + olive oil + tomatoes+ basil+ mozzarella (dipped in balsamic vinegar)
  • Add to casseroles
  • Roasted with olive oil and a little salt and pepper (surprisingly sweet treat)
  • Add to a homemade savory jam
  • Blend into soup
  • Topping for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and any other Mexican dish
  • Mix with breakfast scrambled eggs
Varieties to Try

 

There happens to be over 10,000 varieties of tomatoes, but here are a few you might find at the local grocery store:

  • Beef steak
  • Grape
  • Cherry
  • Roma
  • Kumato
  • Campari
  • Sungold
Recipes
Tomato Orzo Salad      
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Simple Salsa

 

Fall Time Bucket List

Fun Friday

The wind is crisp, the sweaters are out, and the leaves have changed colors. Friends, we have officially made it into the fall season. Don’t let those cooler temperatures slow you down! It is just as important to stay physically active throughout the Fall and Winter as it is during the Summer.

Here is my favorite Fall Bucket list that keeps my family and I active and having fun. I will now share it with you, with an added bonus. If anyone can complete this list by the end of the year, you will receive a Fall Fun prize! So print this list, check it off, take lots of pictures, and share with your friends. The more the merrier!

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Fall Bucket List Printable

What are some ways you stay active? How many activities can you create to stay healthy and active this fall?

Happy Creating!

Kale Chips

Ready to try Kale in a crispy, tasty way? Kale is a loaded with vitamins and minerals, and if prepared correctly, it might become your all-time favorite snack. So lets try this recipe out!

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For this recipe, all you need is 1-2 bunches of Kale, 2 Tablespoons of oil (I use olive oil, but you can also try a vegetable oil such as ‘canola’), and spices of your choice.

 

 

 

First, take each kale leaf and slide the leafy part off of the thick, bitter stem:

Next, wash the leaves, tear into 2 inch pieces and put on a freshly cleaned towel. Try to remove all the water from the leaves (this will make the chips crispy after cooking):

Ready to get your hands dirty? Massage the leaves with oil, and seasoning. As you massage for a couple minutes, you will get oil on each leaf, and you will massage out the natural bitterness of kale.

 

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After a little massaging, spread your leaves evenly onto a baking sheet.  For 1 bunch of Kale, I had to use 2 baking sheets.

 

 

 

 

Finally, pop the trays in the oven for 5 minutes. Open the oven (letting moisture out), flip the chips over, and cook for another 5 minutes while watching carefully. Pull them out and let them cool. Bon appetite!

Something I LOVE about Kale chips is that they are so simple, and I just can’t stop eating them, they are so tasty! The other thing is, you can get creative with them. This time I simply used garlic salt and pepper, but you can try some other combinations such as:

  • Mexican flavors: chili powder and cumin
  • Warm flavors: Cinnamon and or a little nutmeg
  • Savory flavors: Onion powder and paprika
  • Indian flavors: Curry
  • Garlic & Parmesan

and the list goes on! So test this out with several different flavors and take a picture of your favorite spice combination. Comment below for a chance to win a fun prize!

 

Happy Creating!

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s my number, so ‘Kale’ me maybe?

Have you heard? Wednesday is National Kale Day! Over the past few years Kale has become famous for its ‘superfood’ components, but what does this all mean? Why are people so eager to jump on the kale wagon? Well my friends, Kale is more than what meets the eye. Try it 3 different ways and you might just find yourself craving Kale yourself!

Did you know? In 2007 a man from Alaska hit the world record for the largest Kale bunch. It weighed 105 pounds and 14.5 oz!

Health Benefits
  • Loads of Vitamin C- which can keep our immune systems strong, and help our respiratory track when we are exercising
  • High levels of iron- Iron is important when you are growing because it helps distribute oxygen to all of your cells, helping your entire body function better!
  • Calcium- you know how everyone says drink milk to have strong bones? One reason is because of the calcium, and kale has it too!
  • Full of antioxidants- Antioxidants kill off bad cells in the body that can lead to diseases such as cancer. So fill up on those antioxidants!
  • B vitamins- B vitamins help digest your food so you can have energy throughout the day!
  • Vitamin K- Vitamin K is sometimes called the ‘clotting factor’. That is because it helps your blood clot when you get a scratch or cut so that you don’t bleed too much!
Creative Creations
  • Add it into guacamole
  • Massage with lemon juice or pureed tomato dressing to take the bitterness out of the kale
  • Dry them for Kale Chips!
  • Grill and put on sandwiches
  • Blend in with smoothies
  • Add to soup
  • Mix with some spices and a grain like couscous
  • Add to stir-fry’s
  • Use as a pizza topping
 Varieties to Try

There are over 50 types of Kale, but common types you can find in the store include:

  • Dinosaur Kale (AKA Lacinato Kale)
  • Red Russian Kale
  • Chinese Kale
  • Redbor Kale
  • Curly Kale

 

Recipes

Check out this week’s Kale chip recipe!

Picnics & Parks

What things come to your mind when you think of being healthy? Some things I think of are:

  • Eating fruits and veggies
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Homemade meals
  • Being happy
  • Spending time outdoors
  • Playing & being active
  • Family mealtime

As we are closing up this fantastic family mealtime month, lets talk about how we can combine those last two: Being active and family mealtime.

What are some ways that you can involve physical activity around mealtimes? Lets end this month strong with a few more family mealtimes. Upload a picture of your family meal to the comment section for a chance to win a prize!

Happy Creating!

Family Mealtime = Healthy Teens

Family Mealtime is extremely healthy for our minds, our bodies, and our relationships! Find one friend this week to invite over for a family meal to share some of the benefits. Who knows? Maybe you can start a chain of events and get family mealtimes going in more homes!

Family Mealtime Themes

Want to mix things up with family mealtime? Today’s topic is probably my all time favorite part of family mealtime month. Today we get to talk about family mealtime themes!

overhead view of two authentic street tacos

Remember family mealtime doesn’t just have to be dinner, so here are some themes you can do for breakfast, lunch AND dinner!

Now for the challenge: For your chance to win a prize, choose a theme (or make up your own) and comment below with a picture of the themed meal that you do.  Note: You must be under 18 to win!

Eggplant & ChickPea Stew

Hello! I hope everyone is enjoying family mealtime month! Igot a little bit behind this week, but don’t worry…We have some fun things this week! To start it off, I have a recipe today that will knock your socks off! It’s called Toasted Eggplant and Chickpea Stew!

I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid I knew nothing about eggplants. How do you cook them? Are they easy to prepare? Are they sweet? Are they bitter? Are they crunchy? Are they creamy?  Eggplants were just a big purple mystery! So if you have never tried one before, here is your chance! Get ready to master that mystery vegetable!

 

You will need: 2 eggplants, olive oil, salt & pepper, medium onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, diced tomatoes, chickpeas (AKA garbanzo beans), vegetable broth, and cilantro.

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First preheat the oven to 450 degrees

Wash and cut off the green stem. First cut the eggplant lengthwise.

And then into strips

And then into cubes

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Place eggplant on a baking sheet with oil, salt and pepper, and roast about 15 minutes (until soft)

Heat up a large pot. Add in ½ Tb olive oil, 1 diced onion, 3 minced cloves garlic, 1 tsp chili powder, 2 tsp cumin, and ½ tsp cinnamon. Cook until onions are soft (about 5 minutes)

Add eggplant, tomatoes, chickpeas, and broth. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes

Bon Appetite!

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Quick Tip: To add some color and flavor, top with chopped cilantro and serve over rice or couscous

 

Happy Creating!

Family Mealtime= Better Grades?!

Didn’t realize that having a meal with your family would improve your grades in school did you?! Well it will!

The more meals you have with your family, the more your brain develops communication and critical thinking skills. Talking with your family with healthy food in front of you can also can boost your mood which helps your brain think more clearly!

Family Mealtime for the win!