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Mint

Fresh Carrot Slaw

Fresh Carrot Slaw

I could eat carrots for breakfast (in the form of carrot cake – mandatorily topped with cream cheese icing), lunch, and dinner. Dessert too, if we’re circling back to breakfast here. It’s my veggie snack of choice. Straight up raw. No baby business. Colored in shades of red or purple, if I’m feeling extra fancy.

Fresh Carrot Slaw

As warm weather falls upon us, raw carrots become a pleasantly light and refreshing snack all on their own. If you’re like me, that goes for all year around, too.

However, if for some reason you’re not quite as enthused about acting under the constant facade of Bugs Bunny – or simply want a nicer side dish for your just grilled burger – other options abound. Take this carrot slaw, for example, filled with several depths of flavor, yet still every bit as fresh as a just picked and rinsed carrot from the ground. This slaw keeps it raw, but also keeps it chic.

Fresh Carrot Slaw

This time of year, I like to serve this alongside a meal straight from the grill. Think grilled tuna burgers with spicy mayo, or jalapeño black bean burgers with mango salsa, or a sesame crusted tofu. Grilled or not, think Aloha-inspired recipes or Asian-fusion cuisine. Whatever that happens to mean…

Spring bloom

Feel free to play with the herbs here, depending on what you have, or looks fresh. Also, make sure to toast the walnuts. To do so, simply heat up a cast iron pan (or saute pan, if you don’t own cast iron) over medium-high. Without greasing the pan, add the walnuts straight to the hot surface, and toast until fragrant and edges are browned, stirring regularly.

Fresh Carrot Slaw

Share your favorite light & healthy spring/summer veggie sides in the comments. Would love to hear what you’ve been cooking up lately!

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Thai Peanut Spaghetti Squash Bowl

Spaghetti Squash with Thai Peanut Sauce

Making peanut sauce is like having an old childhood friend come to visit. Not the kind of friend you avoid after spotting in the grocery store during a trip to visit your parents. Rather, the kind you actually want to see. The kind you wish you could run into more often.

This, for me at least, is how it feels when I’m whizzing away peanut sauce in the food processor. Upon first taste from the spatula, I always question myself as to why I don’t let the occasion occur more often. Peanut sauce should be a current friend, not a long lost one.

Peanut Sauce

I found this recipe over on a newly discovered blog, Produce on Parade. Katie whips up some awesome vegan dishes, including the one I’m sharing with you today.

It joins a relatively new pal of mine, spaghetti squash, with that old friend I mentioned above. It’s hard to go wrong when you put those two ingredients together in a bowl, and top it with fresh herbs and salty nuts.

Consider making one and a half batches of the sauce. Heck, go crazy and double it and you could have leftovers to dip tomorrow’s broccoli in. I tend to like things on the saucy side, so I upped the amounts listed in the recipe below. If your tastes lean the same way, I suggest you do the same.

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Swiss Chard and Black Bean Fritters

Swiss Chard and Black Bean Fritters

Random mornings off from work are my favorite. The streets are quiet. The sunlight is spilling itself through the windows. The music is whatever I want it to be, and however loud I choose. And the kitchen is mine for the taking.

Talk about a me-centric morning. But sometimes those are very much in need.

I shot a wedding on Friday, which allowed me to take the start of the day at my leisure. Rather than logging all those hours in front of the computer, I decided instead to spend some serious “me” time in the kitchen. Rarely a bad choice. Especially when you’re working hard, and a long day awaits.

Swiss Chard

A meal filled with greens and protein is never a bad idea before (or after one) one of those days. I particularly love how much swiss chard fits into this recipe. That rainbow stemmed green is a warrior, I tell you.

Putting up a fight against the first few frosts, swiss chard still seems to be holding its own in the gardens around here. It’s one of my favorites to view, so naturally filled with beauty and color. The day it leaves the garden will be a sad one for me.

Luckily, it’s still going strong, ready to lend its nourishment in recipes like this. These fritters are crispy on the outside, yet incredibly moist inside, and filled with all the energy you need to take on the day. Pair with a dollop of yogurt, or maybe even a ketchup/hot sauce combo if serving for breakfast.

Swiss Chard and Bean Fritters

 

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Veggie Summer Rolls with Crispy Tofu

Veggie Summer Rolls with Crispy Tofu

There are two times when I really miss having a TV. One is when any of the major tennis championships are airing. In this case, Twitter is giving me the play-by-play, which becomes more annoying than missing the match all together. The other time is when I get home from a long day and want to do nothing else but mindlessly flip on the Food Network. Like the Bachelorette has become for certain boys I know (yes, boys), the Food Network was once my dirty little secret. I knew the personalities of every one of the networks’ celebs. I acted like Giada and I were friends, and like Ina Garten would one day invite me to one of her fancy dinner parties. I even got suckered into the crazy reality game shows, which are rarely ever my thing.

A year ago I moved into a new apartment, and with it I got rid of my cable bill. What came next was ridding myself of my Food Network obsession. No more cooking sessions spent in front of a screen watching other people’s cooking sessions. No more drooling over greasy Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives eats — most of which, in reality, I’d never actually want to order. (Also, no more gagging over the way Guy Fieri would inhale those eats himself. Thank god.) No more tensing and clenching from watching people compete over…cupcakes. No more going to bed on an empty stomach from too much food-filled TV. No more Food Network.

While my withdrawal symptoms were brief, I still have a guilty pleasure for the Food Network. Any time I’m near a powered on TV, I try to get the FN on the screen. My mom will tell you, if I’m at her house at night, it’s on, meaning she’s often forced to bear some anxiety through an episode of Chopped.

Veggie Summer Rolls with Crispy Tofu

I visited my mom this past Wednesday, and yes, to her slight displeasure, we watched an episode of Chopped. One of the secret ingredients was spring roll wrappers. A competitor on the show decided to cut them up into noodles. Creative, I thought. But like half of what I see on the Food Network, something I’d never do myself. Spring roll wrappers are just too good in their traditional use of packaging up ingredients that I have little desire to transform them into noodles. I do, however, have a strong and frequent desire to utilize them for summer rolls.

These are my favorite. I order them nearly every time I’m at a spot that serves them, and I try to make the rolls at least a few times per summer on my own, when my ingredients are fresh.

Like the Food Network, they are a pleasure (though not a guilty one) of mine. Working with the rice paper takes some getting used to, but it’s not rocket science by any means. Don’t worry about forming the perfect roll. As long as you’ve got a mix of fresh ingredients sealed inside, you’re good to go.

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Strawberry Basil Mint Lemonade

Strawberry Lemonade

After a successful batch of strawberry-basil muffins, I decided I needed to use that flavor combo again. And again. And again. So, following a trip to my local strawberry patch, I was back at it. This time with strawberry basil lemonade (along with some mint thrown in there too for fresh measure).

Honestly, I’m not a huge lemonade fan. All the sugar takes the fun out of lemons for me. I like making funny faces upon their tartness, and shocking my tastebuds with their startling sourness. I also enjoy dousing my salads with vinegar, and for those of you who do to, I bet you can relate here.

When I order lemonade out, whether it’s homemade or not, it’s generally hard for me to tell whether there’s actually lemon juice in it or not. This is especially true for the strawberry variety. And don’t even get me started on that pseudo, crappy powdery kind.

Hence, lemonade is a rare occurrence in my diet. That’s not to say, however, I don’t find the thought of a cold cup of it to sound incredibly refreshing. What could be more elegant and alluring than a tall, iced glass of Strawberry Basil Mint Lemonade? With a splash of vodka (..ahem, use responsibly), even better.

Strawberries and Basil

So, I set out to make my own. Don’t worry, it won’t make you pucker until your eyes bulge out. In fact, it likely won’t make you wince at all. However, this is no sugar water. Instead, this lemonade is packed with taste. I’m talking basil, mint, and the actual fresh flavors found in strawberries and lemons. (You know, the real fruit flavors you should find in every glass of lemonade!) Feel free to add a splash of vodka, but I’m warning you. This is an incredible flavor-masker, so while the lemon flavor will be evident, the alcohol flavor may be not. It will, however, make for quite the refreshing summer cocktail. Enjoy.

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