Grilled Eggplant Caprese Salad With Smoked Mozzarella & Basil Buttermilk Dressing

I don't eat eggplant often, but when I do I often make this recipe because it is super easy and delicious.  Eggplant is packed with nutrients, antioxidants and actually good for the brain.  It contains a phytonutrient called nasunin that has been shown to protect cells from damage.  So, eat it up!  It's good for you body, brain and can taste pretty darn good if you cook it the right way.  I love grilling eggplant.  It lends a smoky flavor to this purple vegetable.  



This recipe serves 4.

Salad
1 Eggplant, sliced and grilled
2 large tomatoes, sliced
8oz Smoked Mozzarella, sliced thin
1 loaf thick crusty bread, sliced and grilled

Basil Buttermilk Dressing
1 Cup basil
1/3 Cup Mayonnaise
2/3 Cup Buttermilk
Lemon Juice, to taste
Salt, to taste

Make the dressing one day ahead.  Simply place all ingredients in a small food processor, and blend until smooth.  Season with salt.  

For the salad, place eggplant slices in a colander set inside a large bowl. Toss eggplant with kosher salt and let sit for 30 minutes. Wipe eggplant dry with paper towels.

Light one chimney full of charcoal.  When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Brush both sides eggplant slices lightly with oil. Place on the grill and cook until well browned on each side, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove from grill.  Now, grill the bread in the same manner.

Place one thick slice of bread on the plate and layer eggplant, tomatoes and mozzarella on top of bread.  Drizzle with Basil Buttermilk Dressing. 

Michigan Chocolate Cherry Bread

This bread is super moist and loaded with cherries.  It’s pretty healthy too because it has so many fresh cherries, bananas and I replaced half of the white flour with wheat flour which gives the bread some more fiber.  I love making this for Summer adventure retreats because cherries are in season and abundant.  They are so good for you too!  The chocolate in the bread adds a layer of decadence and just one big slice it is the perfect morning fuel for a long hike.  I want to try it with a gluten free flour and when I do I will let you know how it goes!  Enjoy!

Ingredients

3 ripe bananas, mashed
4 Tbsp butter softened
¼ cup vanilla Greek yogurt
¾ c light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup chopped fresh cherries
2 Tbsp flour
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel and mash the bananas.  Stir in the egg, butter, yogurt and brown sugar and mix until well combined.  Combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and stir just until combined. Do not overmix.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Toss cherries with two tablespoons of flour and fold into batter.  Grease a 9 in x 5 in loaf pan and then pour the mixture in.  Let the bread bake for about 50-6- minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before removing.  Enjoy!

Whole-Wheat Yogurt Strawberry Pancake Stacks

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(Serves 6)

I served this breakfast a lot while working at The Clifton House Bed & Breakfast.  It has been a hit as well on retreats.  It is a fun and whimsical breakfast because the strawberries are stacked between the pancakes and the fresh whipped cream is thick, making for a fluffy and fantastic looking topper. Be sure to make fresh whipped cream.  It is so much better than store bought whipped cream.  I hope you enjoy!!

1 Cup flour
1 Cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 or 3 Tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1/3 Cup oil
2 Cups yogurt (use any kind)
1 Cup heavy cream, chilled
1/4-1/2 Cup sugar, to taste
1 pint strawberries, thinly sliced

Place a large bowl, preferable metal, plus whisk in the freezer for at least 20 minutes (this is for the whipped cream).  Mix flour with remaining dry ingredients.  Make a well in the middle and add eggs + oil + yogurt.  Fold all ingredients together.  Let batter sit while you make the whipping cream.  Remove the bowl and whisk from the freezer.  Pour heavy cream into bowl and begin to whip cream either with hand held whisk or a kitchen aid.  Whip, adding sugar gradually until stiff peaks form.  This takes a few minutes.  Meanwhile, heat the griddle.  Pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot, greased griddle. Flip when you see bubbling around the edges.  Cook 2-3 minutes on each side. Repeat with remaining pancakes.  Remove pancakes to a baking sheet and keep warm in a 200 degree oven if needed.  Serve each pancake stacked with strawberry slices and top with whipped cream.  Serve with maple syrup as well if desired.  

Quinoa Veggie Muffin Bites

1/2 Cup white quinoa
1/4 Cup red quinoa
1 1/2 Cups water
1 Cup broccoli, chopped
1/4 Cup shallots, diced
1/4 Cup carrot, grated
1 scallion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon grainy mustard
salt, pepper and sweet paprika to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a small pot, bring the mix of red and white quinoa and water to a boil.  Reduce heat, close with a lid, and simmer until quinoa is light and fluffy (about 15 minutes). Set aside to cool.  When the quinoa is cooled, place it in a bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and fold until evenly combined.  Add salt, pepper and sweet paprika.  Scoop the mixture into a lightly greased min-muffin tin.  Pop in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are slightly browned and the bites hold together.  Serve with a dip like greek yogurt with garlic and dill.  
 

Chia Seed & Cornmeal Waffles

I found this recipe on The No Meat Athlete's website and tweaked it a bit to simplify the recipe.  They have fabulous recipes!  (Serves 4)

3/4 cup medium to finely ground cornmeal
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup quick oats
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup hemp milk
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Preheat waffle iron.

Stir together the cornmeal, chia, oats, salt and baking powder.   In a separate bowl, mix together the applesauce, hemp milk, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla.  (The coconut oil needs to be at warm temperature or warmer to mix, so you may need to microwave it to get it to a liquid state.)

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry to combine into a smooth batter.  Spray the waffle iron with baking spray even if it is nonstick, and pour batter into hot iron and cook through.  These waffles take extra long to cook.  The waffles I cooked took twice as long.  

Carefully remove waffles from iron, respray with cooking spray, and repeat.  

To enjoy immediately, top with maple syrup and the fruits of your choice.  I served this on the "Love Yourself" Hocking Hills Adventure weekend with Tea Poached Pears.  It was perfection!  Alternatively, slice into bars, freeze and take on your next run, hike or walk!

Chocolate Grapes

This is the perfect Valentine's dessert.  You can pop them in the mouth without guilt AND they are deliciously easy.  ENJOY!

1 lb cold, firm seedless grapes, stems removed
4 oz 60% semisweet chocolate, melted in double boiler
1 to 2 Tbsp cocoa powder

Dry the grapes well and place them in a bowl large enough to toss them easily.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Add the chocolate to the grapes about 1 Tbsp at a time, stirring well with a spatula, carefully scraping the sides of the bowl and folding through the center of the grapes to coat all of them evenly.

When the chocolate begins to set, using a small strainer, sprinkle the cocoa powder little by little over the surface.  Gently toss or stir the grapes as you sift continuing to add the cocoa powder until al of the grapes are coated and separated.  Spread on the prepared sheet.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the chocolate is set, or for up to 1 day.

Pear Oatmeal Cookies

Hey Everyone!  These cookies are so awesome for breakfast after a run or hike.  They are easy to make, not too sweet and pretty healthy!  I cut out half of the brown sugar in this recipe, so if you aren't concerned about the sweetness or sugar content of the cookie feel free to add it back in.  I actually made them with my niece and nephew over the weekend.  It was a fun activity to do with the kiddos.  Griffin is 8 years old and helped measure out the dry ingredients.  I also taught him to crack an egg!  Still a little work to do, but he had fun ;)  I chopped the pear and Olivia, who is 5 years old, helped stir everything together.  I formed the cookies which was a little difficult, but the trick is to press them firmly into an ice cream scoop and then turn them out onto a greased cookie sheet.  I think they are best after placing them in a sealed container and eating them the next day.  Guilty confession: I put them in a container and have been carting them around with me in the car so that post run or hike I have something to eat!  They are the perfect treat!  The pear chunks keep the cookies moist with little bursts of flavor.  Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup coconut oil
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2  tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon, ground
1/4 cup whole wheat flour or almond flour
1 1/2 cup old fashion oats
1 pear, diced small 

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 1 baking sheet & set aside.  In glass, microwaveable measuring cup add coconut oil and heat until melted.  Allow to cool and add egg and vanilla.  Mix oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon a large separate bowl.  Combine wet and dry ingredients and finally stir in pears.  Using a large cookie scoop (I used 3 tbsp. capacity scoop), scoop out the dough and pat it into the scoop to form a firm cookie. Place onto prepared baking sheet, spaced about 2" apart. I put 12 cookies on one baking sheet.  Bake in oven for 10-20 minutes, until bottom of cookie turns lightly brown. Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes; Enjoy immediately or place in containers and enjoy the next day.  I like them the next day!

     

Crunchy Pear & Celery Salad

This salad is super refreshing in the Winter when you might not be drinking enough water.  I don't know about you, but I can't seem to get enough water in my body.  This salad is so nourishing and delicious.  I tweaked the original recipe by omitting the cheese.  So, if you want to be decadent you could add grated cheese of your choosing!  Pears are loaded with antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory.  Pears may reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.  The skin of the pear is loaded with nutrients, so don't skip it!  Be sure to include the skin in the recipe.  

2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 pears, diced
1/2 Cup chopped pecans

Place honey, vinegar and salt in a bowl and mix together.  Add remaining ingredients and toss. Enjoy on it's own or you can serve on a bed of lettuce.  Yum!  Yum!
 

Butternut Squash Pear Soup

This soup is so delicious.  It is even better the second day after the flavors have a chance to blend and deepen.  You can serve this soup with or without crumbled bacon on top.  I love the bacon.  It adds a smoky flavor to the soup and a nice crunch.  Feel free to add lots of cinnamon ;)  Enjoy this toasty treat!  Serves 8.

2 tbsp butter or olive oil
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 lb potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 pears, chopped
4 cups butternut squash (about 1 squash), peeled and chopped
2 cups stock (veggie or chicken)
2 cups water

Heat large soup pot and add 2 Tbsp butter or oil to heat.  Add celery, carrots and onion.  Saute 5 minutes.  Add cinnamon and stir about 1 minute.  Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Cook about 30 minutes and blend with immersion blender.  Serve topped with crumbled bacon or as is!  

Tea Poached Pears

I LOVE this tea poached pear recipe.  It is simple, healthy and super comforting.  It is a favorite on adventure getaways because it is not only delicious, but beautiful and dramatic.  We all know presentation is important!  Here's the recipe!  Serves 4.

4 pears
1 tea bag (passion tea, lemon ginger or any flavor!)
1 bag frozen berries
1/2 Cup Sugar
1-2 Tbsp Cornstarch


Put tea and 2 cups water into a large, deep soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, peel pears, cut off a little of the bottom so they can sit flat on a plate, and keep stems intact.  Arrange pears in steamer in pot in a single layer, stem side up. Cover and simmer gently, until just tender, 30-40 minutes. Meanwhile, place berries, sugar and a little water in a small soup pot and bring to a simmer.  Mix cornstarch with water.  Add to berry mixture and bring to a boil to thicken.  Once thickened reduce heat.  Place pears on individual plates (dry the bottoms so they don't slip around).  Spoon berry sauce over top.      


 

Vegan Taco Dip

1 can (15oz) refried beans
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 avocado
1 lime (juiced)
pinch of salt
2/3 cup cashews
1/2 water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup chopped romaine
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 roma tomatoes
3 green onions
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup sliced olives
Tortilla Chips

Soak cashews in water and vinegar in a blender.  Meanwhile mix together the beans with the spices in a bowl.  Layer on the bottom of a glass dish. You could layer the beans without the spices, but the spices add a nice zip to the dish.  Mix guacamole with lime and salt.  Layer on top. Blend cashews with water and vinegar and spread on top of guacamole.  Sprinkle cashew cream with nutritional yeast.  Top with chopped romaine, green onions, tomatoes, cilantro and olives. Chill at least and serve the same day with tortilla chips.       
 

Black Bean Burgers

I have been making these burgers for a while now and found the recipe on Epicurious (my favorite recipe website).  They are flavorful, delicious and very easy to make.  They also freeze well.  I increased the amount of cilantro from the original recipe and have also played around with substituting mashed sweet potato for the mashed black beans which works very well!  I have shared these burgers on many of my Yoga, Hiking & Food Adventures.  It is the perfect pre-adventure meal to load you up with energy!

Black beans support digestive tract health, are full of phytonutrients, and lower the risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  It is recommended to both carnivores and vegetarians to eat black beans.  Per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people should consume 1/2 cup of beans 6 days per week!  So, get eating!  Enjoy and Namaste.  (Serves 4)

2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained, divided
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 soft hamburger buns
Sour Cream
Salsa
Lettuce

Pulse 1 can beans in a food processor with mayonnaise, bread crumbs, cumin, oregano, and cayenne until a coarse purée forms. Transfer to a bowl and stir in cilantro and remaining can beans. Form mixture into 4 patties.  Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Cook burgers until outsides are crisp and lightly browned, turning once, about 5 minutes total. Serve on buns topped with sour cream, salsa and lettuce.  

Pumpkin Chickpea Curry

This recipe features pumpkin, an ingredient we usually associate with Pumpkin Pie. The pumpkin is savory here rather than sweet and paired with chickpeas, curry and onion. Pumpkin, like all winter squash, is a nutrient dense food and is low in calories. The orange fruit is a powerful antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. 

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 large can tomatoes
1 large can pumpkin
2 cups chicken or veggie broth
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 large can chickpeas
1 lime, juiced
Steamed rice
Cilantro

Saute the onion in olive oil about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in tomato and pumpkin. Cook 10 minutes. Add broth, coconut milk, curry and cayenne. Simmer 20 minutes. Add chickpeas and lime juice. Simmer about 20 minutes until dish is heated through. Serve over steamed rice and garnish with cilantro. Enjoy!

Raw Carrot Cake Balls

I love this recipe!  I found it on yummly and it is fantastic.  A client told me even her kids like it.  I always tweek recipes, but the only thing I did to this was add an extra carrot for more nutrition.  Why not, right?  These would be a great post-workout snack too!

2 carrots (large, grated, yields about 1 cup grated carrot)
1 cup medjool dates
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup coconut (dessicated, optional)
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins
2 tbsps water (if needed)

Shred carrots first in food processor.  Next, add the remaining ingredients.  Roll into balls, refrigerate and enjoy!  These can be refrigerated for 1-2 weeks and frozen.

Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

I found this recipe from The Ambitious Kitchen.  I did not have applesauce, so substituted cranberry sauce and it worked out nicely.  I hope you like this as much as I do.  These brownies are very chocolately!!

Delicious chocolate chip packed zucchini oat brownies made without flour or butter! SO YUM!

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup all natural unsalted peanut butter
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
1/2 cup unsweetened natural applesauce or canned cranberry sauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup gluten free oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (vegan if desired), divided

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 8x11 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Place oats in blender or food processor and process until finely ground. Don't worry, it doesn't need to be perfect but it should take a few minutes. Set aside.
In a large bowl of electric mixer, cream together peanut butter, applesauce or cranberry, honey or agave and vanilla until smooth. Add in zucchini, cocoa powder, ground oats, baking soda, and salt; mix until well combined. Gently fold in 1/4 cup of chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and sprinkle remaining chocolate chips over the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until tooth pick inserted into middle comes out almost clean.
Cool brownies completely on wire rack then cut into 20 squares. I like to refrigerate these and then enjoy!  Either way, enjoy!

Quinoa Enchiladas

People are lovin' my Quinoa Enchiladas!  I made it again last night for the gathering of the peeps I am going to India with and everyone wanted the recipe.  Here's my latest tweek to the recipe 😎. 


Sauté 1 small diced onion in olive oil about 5 minutes. 
Add 1 small diced bell pepper, 2 small diced carrots, 3 minced garlic cloves, 1 cup corn, 1 tsp cumin and sauté about 5 minutes. 
Add 2 cans drained & rinsed black beans, 1 jar frontera enchilada sauce, 1 can fire roasted tomatoes and 1 cup raw quinoa. 
Heat through. 
Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup grated cheese. 
Pour into greased baking dish. 
Top with 1 more cup grated cheese of choice! 

Let sit a few hours or overnight and then bake at 350 degrees uncovered 30 minutes. 
Top with avocado, sour cream, cilantro and chives.

Kale, Broccoli, Blueberry & Honeyed Walnut Salad

This recipe did not originally have kale in it, but I thought it would be a nice addition and beef up the salad a little.  The kale simply adds more dimension and nutrition.

For the Salad:
1 bunch kale, chopped up
2 crowns broccoli, chopped into florets (7 cups)
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
10 ounces fresh blueberries
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt (you can skip the yogurt to make this dairy free)
Zest of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or about 1 lemon
4 tablespoons honey or more if desired
2 teaspoons kosher salt or more if desired

Toss all together and let sit about 1 hour in the refrigerator.  Meanwhile, toast the walnuts.

For the Honey-Toasted Walnuts:
1 cup raw walnut halves
4 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons honey (or maple syrup?!)
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Coat the walnuts first with the oil and then the honey.  Toast at 350 degrees 7-10 minutes.  Be sure to set the timer!  It is so easy to burn nuts!  Toss in Salad.

Creamy Anti-Inflammatory Salad Dressing

I got this recipe from GoDairyFree.com and really love it!  It is perfect as is, however you can substitute the cashew milk for coconut milk or almond milk. You can also play around with the spice proportions. Try this on salad greens, a top a sweet potato or over steamed veggies. 
ENJOY!

INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup raw cashews
1 tablespoon chia seeds (use white for a lighter color)
⅔ cup So Delicious Dairy Free Unsweetened Cashew Milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon raw honey (use agave nectar for strict vegan)
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon fresh minced ginger
½ to ¾ teaspoon curry powder, to taste
⅛ teaspoon mustard powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place the cashews and chia seeds in a small food processor and grind into a powder. It's okay if it begins to clump.
  2. Put the cashew-chia mixture in your blender with the cashew milk. Blend until smooth, about 30 to 60 seconds.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and puree for about 60 seconds more, or until nice and smooth. Taste, and adjust seasonings, if desired.
  4. For maximum thickening and to let the flavors meld, chill for 30 minutes, and then briefly blend or whisk before pouring atop your salad. Can be gently heated and served with steamed vegetables, if desired.