Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mediterranean Salad


The weathers warming up and bikini season draws closer, although we all wish it wouldn't come so fast! I mean there's so much I still have to do like pull the weeds in my garden, lay out some mulch, lose five more pounds, and bake some more yummies before it gets too hot to turn on my oven.

Wow, did you notice that? I just said lose five more pounds and bake some more yummies. Kind of ironic, don't ya think?


With all these warm days, there's so much to do and so little time to do it with not much time left to prepare lunch or dinner. Which is why this Mediterranean Salad has been my go to lunch salad for the last month.

I just love these Garlic stuffed olives!

I love the variety of flavors the olives bring to this dish. I've combined three different kinds of olives here with Kalamata Greek olives, black olives, and garlic stuffed colossal queen olives. Yes, garlic stuffed olives and they are delicious! Plus I added diced English cucumbers, artichoke hearts, and grape tomatoes with white Balsamic vinegar and olive oil drizzled over the top.


A quick and easy salad to make paired with cheese and crackers and a glass of your favorite wine makes for a delicious meal anytime.

Mediterranean Salad

Recipe by Julie Murphy
A deliciously light olive salad
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 can (5.75 ounces DR WT) whole large black olives, pitted
  • 1 jar (7.5 ounces DR WT) Garlic stuffed olives
  • 1 jar (9.5 ounces DR WT) Greek Kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • 1 - 10 ounce package grape tomatoes, washed (can also use cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 cups artichoke hearts
  • 2 Tablespoons white Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 Feta cheese to crumble over the top *(optional)
Directions
  1. Add all ingredients into a large bowl.
  2. Drizzle Balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the top.
  3. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  4. Mix all ingredients together and serve with cheese and crackers and a glass of your favorite wine.
  5. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

No Bake Protein Bites


Have you seen these yet? Silly question, I know, because you probably have since they're all over Pinterest these days. These little balls that they're calling protein balls, raw balls, or cookie dough balls.

Well, if you haven't seen them yet, I'm about to introduce you. These little balls are delicious and packed with all this good for you stuff to help you survive that afternoon slump we all get between the hours of 2-5 p.m. Or they're great to pop in before or after a workout.


Whenever you eat one of these little balls, they're sure to put a little kick in your step. And they help curb any sweet cravings you have too! I'm speaking from experience here because these little balls helped me during my Sugar Crush Challenge last month. If it weren't for these little balls, I might not have survived and ate up all the sugar in sight!

I keep referring to them as "little balls" when in fact they should be called little protein bites. These protein bites might be little in size, but they're just enough to help pick you up or satisfy any sugar cravings without adding a lot of calories to your daily intake.

And you can make them in different flavors like I did here by rolling them in cocoa powder, unsweetened coconut flakes, or both. Or you can add nuts and dried fruit. The possibilities are endless.
 


No Bake Protein Bites
Recipe by Julie Murphy
Little bites of protein
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
Yield: 15, depending on how big you make them
Ingredients
  • 1 and 3/4 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 6 Medjool dates, pitted and pureed
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup cocoa nibs
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes for rolling (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons dark cocoa powder for rolling (optional)
Directions
  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In the microwave, warm peanut butter and honey in a small cup, if needed to help make stirring easier. No more than 25 seconds should help warm them. Set aside.
  3. Measure coconut and grind in a blender or food processor until coconut flakes become finely ground.
  4. In a medium to small bowl, add the coconut along with warmed peanut butter and honey. Mix together well with a wooden spoon. Mixture will be sticky.
  5. Blend in melted coconut oil and pureed dates, mixing well.
  6. Make sure mixture is not too warm before adding in cocoa nibs because you don't want them to melt. If too warm, place mixture in refrigerator for 5-10 minutes, then fold in cocoa nibs.
  7. Gently roll about 1 Tablespoon or smaller of mixture between your palms until a ball is formed. If mixture is too sticky, place in refrigerator for 30 minutes before making ball shapes.
  8. You can roll in either cocoa powder or flaked, unsweetened coconut before placing on prepared cookie sheet.
  9. Place cookie sheet in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to let balls set up.
  10. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator before serving.


All content and images are property of Sweet and Spicy Monkey. Please do not reprint this content without my permission. If you wish to include this recipe on your site, please re-write in your own words and use your own photographs and link back to this post for original recipe.
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Shared with: Busy Monday 161

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ribollita ~ Tuscan Soup


I know, it’s spring, but the chill of winter is still lurking around, along with all this rain. And what better time to take advantage of all the fresh vegetables in the store right now than with this delicious Tuscan inspired Ribollita soup, also known as cabbage and white bean winter soup.


It's chocked full of good things like cabbage, kale, leeks, potatoes, carrots, turnips, onion, rosemary, thyme, and cannellini beans. It's a meal in itself!

Of course, I suggest serving some garlic cheese bread with it to help bring out the flavors of this soup, but that idea is totally up to you.


The best part about this soup? You can put all the veggies in your crockpot and let them cook all day to come home and find a delicious hot meal waiting for you!


I just love crockpot dishes! ❤
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Ribollita ~ Tuscan Soup
Recipe by Julie Murphy
Cold weather cabbage and white bean soup adapted from Mario Batali.
Cook time: 8 hours
Yield: a whole lotta soup

Ingredients
  • 1.5 lbs. Baby Dutch yellow potatoes
  • 1.5 lbs. carrots - washed, rinsed, peeled, and diced into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 1 head cabbage - rinsed and quartered
  • 1 small bushel kale - rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 Leeks - only the white and light green parts, rinsed and sliced thinly
  • 3 turnips - washed and rinsed, cut into quarters
  • 3 garlic cloves - sliced thin
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 - 15.5 ounce cans Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6-8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dalmatian sage
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup Freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 loaf French or Sourdough bread
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
Cooking Directions
  1. Prepare crockpot by generously wiping inside, bottom and sides, with olive oil.
  2. Add potatoes, carrots, kale, cabbage, leeks, broth, and bay leaf into prepared crockpot and cover. If you don't have enough room for all listed ingredients, set cabbage quarters aside until other ingredients cook down, approximately 4 hours. Then add cabbage. Crockpot will be full.
  3. Cook on High setting for 4 hours.
  4. After 4 hours, place 1/2 cup warm broth (NOT hot), garlic, onion, rosemary leaves, and thyme leaves into a blender. Puree all ingredients together. If needed, add a little more broth or water to keep it liquefied. Pour into crockpot.
  5. Pour in prepared Cannellini beans. If needed, add in more broth.
  6. Add Dalmatian sage.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix all ingredients together. Place lid back on crockpot.
  8. Cook for another 3-4 hours on High setting. Vegetables should be tender before serving.
  9. Ladle soup into bowls and grate fresh parmesan over the top.
  10. Serve with toasted French or Sourdough bread.

  11. All content and images are property of Sweet and Spicy Monkey. Please do not reprint this content without my permission. If you wish to include this recipe on your site, please re-write in your own words and use your own photographs and link back to this post for original recipe.
 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Carrot Cake Chia Pudding


I'm near the end of my Sugar Crush Challenge so I'm still experimenting with sugar free sweets. And I'm so happy I've stumbled upon this idea of Carrot Cake Chia Pudding, inspired by Ali's smoothie over at Gimme Some Oven.

I used Medjool dates for natural sweetness and instead of a smoothie, I made mine a pudding. If you would like this as a smoothie, just use two tablespoons of chia seeds instead of three.


Oh my, it's everything a carrot cake is - a lightly spiced, sweet delight! All in a healthy chia pudding without all the sugar and calories that comes with a slice of cake.

It even has the same coloring as a slice of carrot cake!
So go ahead and make yourself some of this today and indulge in every bite because....well, because you deserve it after all you've done {smile}!


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Carrot Cake Chia Pudding
Recipe by Julie Murphy
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
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Ingredients
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 frozen banana, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened, flaked coconut
  • 1 scoop Vanilla protein powder
  • 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground ginger
  • dash ground nutmeg
  • 3 Tablespoons chia seeds
 
Directions
  1. Add coconut milk, yogurt, frozen banana, carrot slices, and dates into a blender.
  2. Pulse on High setting for no more than 10-12 seconds, repeating until all ingredients are pureed.
  3. Remove lid and add remaining ingredients. Repeat pulsing on High setting, should take no more than 3-5 times to have all ingredients blended together smoothly.
  4. Pour into a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Can serve with flaked, unsweetened coconut, raisins, chopped walnuts, fresh or dried pineapple, and/or carrot slices or peelings sprinkled over the top as shown.
       

*Helpful Hints*

- If you're not using a high speed blender, use carrot peelings instead of carrot slices, so you do not damage your blender.

- Easy way of how to prepare your banana - peel, chop into slices, place in Ziploc bag, and freeze overnight.
 
All content and images are property of Sweet and Spicy Monkey. Please do not reprint this content without my permission. If you wish to include this recipe on your site, please re-write in your own words and use your own photographs and link back to this post for original recipe.
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Shared with: Savoring Saturdays, Munching Mondays #86, Totally Terrific Tuesday Link Party #28

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Green Smoothie Recipes

Avocado Kale Green Smoothie
I have finally came over to the other side! If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen all the green smoothies I've been making. Yep, I am now a green smoothie addict. I know, but as they always say, better late than never.

I really don't know who "they" are, but they are ALWAYS right! I'm thinking "they" must be our mom and dad's because they always seem to be right about everything {smile}.

But anywho, yes I am finally a lover of the green smoothie. Funny thing is, I never thought I would try one. After all, vegetables like kale, avocados, and cucumbers all blended up into a drink just did not appeal to my sweet tooth. Gimme some ice cream, chocolate, peanut butter, and caramel and that's what I'm talking about for a smoothie. Am I right?

Green stuff...Ick!

Recently I bought Matcha powder because I needed help building up my immune system after being sick with a respiratory funk last month. And I got to thinking it was time for me to try the Matcha powder and see what all the hoopla was about.

So I added some coconut milk, a frozen banana, Matcha powder, protein powder, kale, and a little bit of avocado. Whipped it all up, closed my eyes (because I'm a visual eater) and took a sip. That sip was the end to my closed mind thinking of adding vegetables to my smoothies because now I can't get enough of them!

It's true what "they" (yes, "them" again, the all-knowing, always right "they") say, you can't even taste the veggies! Well, I won't lie to you, if you don't have enough banana you will taste a little of the avocado. Which is why I add a large banana or one and a half of a banana and use coconut water instead of plain water. The coconut water has naturally occurring sugars and helps sweeten the smoothie so you don't have to add any honey or agave nectar. Or you can always use less avocado, but I L-O-V-E the rich creaminess the avocado brings to this smoothie!

Look at the creamy thickness the avocado brings to this smoothie
So if you've been like me and avoided the green smoothie because it just doesn't sound good, trust me on this one, and just try it. Because if you're anything like me, you'll be hooked after that first sip of green yumminess!

And I'm not just sharing one recipe with you this week, I'm sharing two of my favorite green smoothie recipes, my thick and creamy Avocado Kale Green Smoothie and my Refreshing Kale Cucumber Green Smoothie. Let me know which one you like best.
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Avocado Kale Green Smoothie

Recipe by Julie Murphy
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut water (can also use plain water)
  • 1 large banana, frozen and sliced
  • 2 cups kale
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 teaspoon Matcha powder
  • 1 scoop Vanilla protein powder
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
Directions
  1. Add coconut milk, coconut water, frozen banana, kale, and avocado into a High speed blender.
  2. Pulse on High, no longer than 10-15 seconds, until all solid ingredients are pureed, no more chunks.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and pulse on High setting until well blended. If too thick, you can add in a little more coconut water or water. I like mine thick and I use a spatula to help get it out of the blender.
  4. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy the goodness of this green smoothie!
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Refreshing Kale Cucumber Green Smoothie

Recipe by Julie Murphy
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces almond milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut water (can also use plain water)
  • 2 cups kale
  • 3/4 - 1 cup English cucumbers, sliced and diced
  • 1 large banana, frozen and sliced
  • 1-2 Tablespoons blueberries, frozen
  • 1 scoop Vanilla protein powder
  • 1 teaspoon Matcha powder
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
Directions
  1. Add almond milk, coconut water, kale, cucumber, frozen banana, and blueberries into a High speed blender.
  2. Pulse on High, no longer than 10-15 seconds, until all solid ingredients are pureed, no more chunks.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and pulse on High setting until well blended. If too thick, you can add in a little more coconut water or water. I like mine thick and I use a spatula to help get it out of the blender.
  4. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy the goodness of this refreshing green smoothie!


All content and images are property of Sweet and Spicy Monkey. Please do not reprint this content without my permission. If you wish to include this recipe on your site, please re-write in your own words and use your own photographs and link back to this post for original recipe.

Follow Julie's board Sweet and Spicy Monkey on Pinterest.

Shared with: Totally Terrific Tuesday Link Party #27