Spring Veggies

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Spring is finally here! If you’re up north like me, it may be hard to believe due to this terrible weather we’ve been having, but March 20th officially marked the first day of spring.

I get excited for spring because it means the start of warmer weather and finally some leaves on the trees. Food-wise, it means finally fresh, in-season produce! As you know from the blog post “A Healthy New Year,” I have been trying to make some more health-conscious choices in my eating habits this year. One of the easiest ways to do this has been to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Spring means that more fruits and veggies will finally be in season!

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A list of vegetables that are harvested in the spring can be found here. Many leafy green veggies are harvested in the spring, making spring time the perfect season to start eating fresh salads again. Some of the in-season veggies I like to include in my salads are sliced radishes, shredded carrots, lettuce (obviously), mixed with a bit of kale for its nutrients. Kale is very

White Bean and Kale Soup

White Bean and Kale Soup

low in calories, but high in iron and other vital vitamins. I prefer to tear some up into small pieces and mix it in with my other greens, or eat it cooked. One healthy recipe from the Forq app I am dying to try is this White Bean and Kale Soup!

Cauliflower and broccoli are also spring veggies, and are some of my favorite things to cook with. In a previous blog post, I discussed my love of cauliflower and my first attempt at making a cauliflower pizza crust. It is such a versatile vegetable! Its closely related family member, broccoli, is one of my all-time favorite veggies. I could eat it every day just steamed with a bit of butter, salt, and pepper. If it is cooked right (not overcooked to become mushy), it is incredibly flavorful all on its own. Broccoli goes hand-in-hand with cheese like in this Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Pasta, or is perfect in other dishes such as this Slow Cooker Beef And Broccoli.

Last but not least, we have to talk about carrots! In my opinion, they are highly underrated. The most I see of carrots lately seems to be a few slices to add a pop of color to a boring salad. Carrots are packed with vitamins and minerals that help with vision, clear skin, and give the immune system a boost. Raw carrots are a great snack, or boiled with just some butter, salt, and pepper as a side dish to dinner. Or, if you want to make a healthy meal out of it, this 5-Ingredient Roasted Carrot Ginger Soup is the way to go!

Carrot Soup

Carrot Soup

Bringing Home the Bacon

bacon-1142659_960_720Bacon makes everything better. I cannot think of one food I’ve eaten with and without bacon and not preferred the latter. Now I’m not saying I add bacon to my three meals a day– I’m just saying I like to indulge a little.

Even the sound of bacon sizzling on the pan is magical. Back when I was younger, I used to sleep over at my grandmother’s house frequently. Every morning when I would wake up, she’d ask me what I would like for breakfast. It always had to be scrambled eggs and bacon. First, the bacon would be sliced into tiny squares. Next, it would be fried to a crisp and beaten eggs added. So simple, but tasty enough to keep me wanting to go back for more. Looking back now, I probably shouldn’t have eaten so much bacon…

But, like I said before, bacon makes everything better. And also like I said before, bacon-1323412_960_720it’s okay to indulge a little! When I was in elementary school, I had a gym teacher that would eat a pound of bacon every snow day. Living in Connecticut, we had snow days a lot! Now that is a little too much bacon.

I believe that bacon is a little too good to be cut out of our diets altogether, even if we are trying to be healthy. Plus, as I’m sure we all know, a little bacon goes a long way!

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Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Apricots

Now, let’s get to the recipes. I find excuses to cook bacon probably more than I should. But the excuse I have found most convincing is to use bacon during entertainment cooking. If you’re in question of what to cook when you’re cooking for other people, whether it be at your own get together or someone else’s, you can rarely go wrong when you use bacon. One of my favorite dishes to eat at an outdoor BBQ (besides the actual BBQ, of course) are Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Apricots.  It is such an unexpected, sophisticated dish that everyone will love!

Of course, a grill isn’t available everywhere. Another bacon-wrapped dish that is sure to be a hit are these Bacon-Wrapped Scallops. The recipe also includes a tasty spicy cilantro mayonnaise to dip in. Yum!

Now, let’s get to using bacon in our everyday meals. I absolutely love bacon in my pasta dishes! For example, bacon gives this Chicken, Bacon and Spinach Spaghetti the boost it needs to be delectable. The same goes for this Bacon and Egg Fried Rice. Bacon takes normal dishes like pasta and rice to the next level.

Bacon and Egg Fried Rice

Bacon and Egg Fried Rice

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Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Vinaigrette

Last but definitely not least, I could not have talked about bacon without talking about brussels sprouts. I never really liked them growing up, or even as an adult. That is, until I tried them with a recipe that called for– you guessed it– bacon. These Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Vinaigrette are absolutely delicious. Bacon really does make everything better!

We Know the Best Ways to Use Cauliflower

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At the beginning of January, I decided that this year’s goal was to get healthy. And how was I planning on doing that? By healthy eating, of course! In my “A Healthy New Year” blog post from the beginning of the year, I gave myself a few goals to help me get started. One of these goals was to find healthy alternatives to foods I know aren’t so healthy. It has turned out to be a bit of a challenge, but it has been fun! I’ve been trying tons of new foods and techniques; mostly focusing on vegetables. After all of this, I have a newfound love for cauliflower.

cauliflower-318152_960_720I remember the first time my mom put cauliflower in front of me and told me to eat it. I was nervous; it looks like weird broccoli! But I obeyed and boy was I pleasantly surprised. Cauliflower quickly became one of my favorite veggie sides. However, I did not know there was much I could do with it besides steam it, add butter, salt, and pepper, and enjoy! While this is still one of my favorite, simplest ways to eat cauliflower, I have learned that there is so much more to this healthy vegetable than a life of steaming.

Some of my pizza ingredients

Today, I would like to share with you my journey of making a cauliflower pizza base. Let me just start by saying I love carbs. I also love pizza. So, when my pizza craving kicked in, I knew I had to do something about it. I remembered saving a recipe on Forq for a pizza crust made out of cauliflower, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I used this recipe, found on the Forq app. My first order of business was to collect ingredients. The first road block I ran into was how to “rice” my cauliflower. I do not have a good shredder tool, and attempting to chop a whole head of cauliflower into teeny tiny pieces just seemed tedious. Lucky for me, my local market sells cauliflower pre-riced! It was about a dollar more than regular cauliflower, but it is “riced” daily and totally worth it for me. I was also worried that the bits of cauliflower were going to be too large, but it worked out well! The directions call for pre-cooking before you mix the ingredients; I chose to microwave, but you can also steam it on the stove!

My cauliflower pizza

My cauliflower pizza

In conclusion, my first thoughts on cauliflower pizza is that it is… interesting. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it’s better than the fresh pizza from your favorite Italian restaurant. But I will say is that it was tasty enough to satisfy my pizza cravings, at least for a little while! I chose to top my pizza with some fresh mozzarella and basil– next time I’m going to test out a few more toppings. Next time I’m craving pizza, I know what recipe to use!

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Cheesy cauliflower breadsticks

There are tons more healthy cauliflower recipes I found on the Forq app that I’m excited to try. A variation on the pizza that looks super tasty are these Cheesy Cauliflower Breadsticks.  It’s pretty much just the pizza, but a little more garlic-y and cheesy– yum! The next recipe I am dying to try is this Spicy Cauliflower Stir-Fry. I’m not vegetarian, so I think I am going to try adding some chicken to mine for some extra protein! I am also going to try replacing mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower in this Cauliflower Shepherd’s Pie. Shepherd’s Pie was one of my favorite meals growing up; I’m excited to try the healthy alternative! Last but certainly not least, this Sausage and Cauliflower Casserole looks to die for!

Sausage and Cauliflower Casserole

Sausage and Cauliflower Casserole

If you have any cauliflower recipes, I would love to see them on the Forq app! Forq is my favorite place to find and share recipes– it has been key to my success in eating healthier this year. With spring coming, there will be even more local fresh fruits and vegetables to try!

Flour Power

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Bread has been around since pretty much the beginning of time. After doing a little research, I found that it is believed that Egyptians invented it around 300 BC. It’s so old that no one really knows for sure.

I’ve definitely been on a baking kick recently. I love cooking (obviously) but there is something about baking that completely relaxes me. My new baking excuse is bread!

I remember when I was egg-944495_960_720a little girl, I would always be baking bread. My grandmother and I would constantly use her bread maker, or even better, during the Christmas season we would make delicious cardamom bread for all our friends and family. I remember still being a child and my neighbors inviting me over to bake bread  just for fun. I even remember spending all my loose change at the third grade bake sale to buy as many slices as possible of my teacher’s homemade cinnamon bread. I have very fond memories of baking, and they have resonated with me through the years.

Amish White Bread

Amish White Bread

Yet, I have always been a little weary about baking bread on my own. I’ll be honest; yeast scares me! I still to this day get nervous when using it. But there is nothing better than homemade bread. Store-bought is great, but nothing compares to homemade. Let’s put it this way: when I eat white bread from the store, I usually need to at least slather some butter on it. But when I bake my own, like this simple Amish White Bread, I could eat the whole loaf plain!

However, baking bread with yeast is very time-consuming. In today’s world of busy schedules, time is a hard thing to find! Since I shy away from yeast in general, I’ve found quite a few bread recipes that don’t require it! These breads are perfect for breakfasts and snacks. They’ve become a staple to my everyday eating routine.

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

First, I just have to share my all-time favorite with you. Banana Bread. It is insanely simple to make, and absolutely delicious. It’s also a perfect way to get rid of those over-ripe bananas! I also like that I can do a lot with this bread. I can make it plain, or I can add chocolate chips or walnuts to spice it up a little! It’s also dense enough that it can go in the toaster, which I absolutely love. I also found another recipe on the Forq app for banana bread, however this one has added protein to give you that extra boost! Perfect Protein Banana Bread will help you start your day off right; next time I have some over-ripe bananas I am definitely going to give this one a try.

Another bread I love to make that is very similar to banana bread is Zucchini Bread. Don’t worry, this bread does not have an over-whelming zucchini-2054823_960_720zucchini taste. It is very similar to banana bread in texture, but I definitely recommend adding chocolate chips to this bread because the zucchini is not a natural sweetener like the bananas. Another trick I like to do to sweeten up my breads a bit is sprinkle raw sugar on the top. It makes a nice, sweet crust that I definitely prefer!

The last sweet bread that I am going to

Sliced apples

Sliced apples

share with you is the classic Apple Bread. I have had tons of variations on this recipe, and they have all been amazing! To me, anything with apples in it is a big hit. I found this one on the Forq app, of course, and it is very simple but very tasty! I can’t wait to make this and sit down with a cup of tea and a slice of warm apple bread. Yum!

There are tons more recipes for tasty bread on the Forq app. And of course, if you have a favorite bread recipe, please share it on the app! I’d love to try it, and I know a lot of the foodie friends would too!

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