Healthy Philly Cheesesteaks

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Happy birthday to you…

Happy birthday to you…

Happy birthday dear Serendipity by Saraaaaa…

Happy birthday to you!

In case you didn’t guess, it’s the 1 year birthday of my blog!  Which I think is super rad, and exciting.

And while I probably should have made a delicious cake or brownies or something, I made philly cheesesteaks instead.  (Which is equally awesome as a birthday cake if you ask me).

In fact, philly cheesesteaks are one of my top guilty pleasures.  Seriously, I could eat these all day.

But if I did, I would blow up like a balloon, so a healthified version for dinner it was!  Not sure how B is feeling about my healthy cooking methods, but then again, who can complain about a nice hot meal every night?!

And he did say that these were really good so…do you need any more reasons to make these?

Didn’t think so…

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. cube steak*

1 Tbs. olive oil

1/2 green bell pepper, sliced thinly

1/2 white onion, sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, chopped finely

2 Tbs. beef broth

Onion powder

Garlic Powder

2 whole wheat deli rolls

1/4 c. part skim shredded Mozzarella

Salt and Pepper, to taste

*Cut the meat against the grain in thin slices and then kind of chop it roughly.

Begin by cutting the meat and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a large pan.  Add onions and peppers, and cook for about 6 minutes until slightly softened.  Add garlic and meat.

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This is kind of how the meat will look.  Spread it out so it cooks evenly.

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When it’s mostly cooked through but still slightly pink, add beef broth, garlic powder, and onion powder according to your taste.  If you do not want to open a whole can of beef broth for 2 Tbs. you can probably leave it out.  I just liked the juiciness it gave the meat.

Let the meat absorb the liquid.  Meanwhile, lay out your deli rolls on some tinfoil.

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Spoon meat and veggies on the rolls.  The left one looks like it doesn’t have onions or peppers.  It does.  Oops!

Top with cheese.  Add a lot if you want.  I won’t judge.

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Wrap the sandwiches up.  Bake them at 375* for about 10 minutes.  This will let the flavors meld together and the sandwiches will get all gooey and yummy.

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Cut them in half.

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Try not to eat the sandwich as you eat it. (Hardest. Thing. Ever)

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Be happy that this is a no guilt philly cheesesteak with bread.  Not stuffed in a pepper or something.

(And cheese!)

Also, don’t let people get mad at you because this isn’t a real “philly”.  It’s close enough.  It’s healthy.  Leave me alone.  I’ve never had a real one.

Someday I will, but for now, this delicious version will have to do!

Alternatives:

  • Vegetarian: Substitute meat with mushrooms, or your fave beef sub such as Morningstar Farms.
  • Vegan:  Substitute meat with mushrooms, beef substitute, etc.  Use vegan rolls (egg-less) and leave out cheese or replace with soy cheese.
  • Paleo: Stuff meat in a green bell pepper and bake to replace bread. Leave out cheese.
  • Gluten Free:  Stuff meat in a green bell pepper and bake or use a gluten free roll.

Serves 2.

Thanks for celebrating Serendipity by Sara’s 1st birthday with us!

XOXO Sara

Triple Chocolate Chunk Muffins

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Hello hello hello.

I hope you are having a wonderful few days of summer left before the crazy work/school schedule starts up again.  I know I definitely am!

I am finally moved up in my new house and have been on my own for a few days.  My fam left a few days ago and Brandon is coming back from Tennessee tonight!

It hasn’t been all lonely though.  I’ve been spending a ton of time with my family and friends here and I’ve had this crazy thing to keep me company.

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Don’t be fooled by those eyes.  She may look innocent, but Lacy can be trouble when she wants.

Anyways, since B is coming home tonight I decided to make his favorite: chocolate chunk muffins!  You know those fattening, 500 calorie cupcake-esque muffins from Costco?  Those are his fave.

At first, I was going for that kind of taste with these muffins.  I ended up with the chocolate-iest muffins ever.  Seriously, I had to drink milk with one and I don’t even like milk all that much.

I’m not quite positive how many calories these muffins actually are, but I doubt they’re 500 each.

Plus, I’ve been thinking about making a low cal low fat version of these.  (I know, boo, low cal low fat sounds boring but I bet I can make them delish).

Need I say more about these muffins?  I didn’t think so.  Here ya go:

Ingredients:

2 c. AP flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 c. cocoa powder

1/4 c. butter

1 1/4 c. chocolate chunks + more for garnish

2 eggs

1 c. sugar

1/2 c. buttermilk

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 c. milk

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.  Set aside.

In a small, microwave safe bowl, microwave the butter and 1/4 c. chocolate chunks for about 30 seconds or until melted.  Set aside to cool.

Whisk together the eggs, sugar, and cooled chocolate/butter mixture.

Add dry ingredients, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Mix in milk and chocolate chunks (you may need more milk if the batter is too thick).

Spoon batter into cupcake liners about 1/2 way full.  Sprinkle extra chocolate chunks on top.  Bake at 350* for 15-20 minutes.

Makes 16-18 muffins.

Serve with milk!  Seriously.

I think B is going to be very, very happy with his welcome home gift.

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Make.  These.  Muffins.  They’re so good.

Alternatives:

  • Vegetarian:  This recipe is vegetarian.
  • Vegan:  Replace eggs with 1/2 c. applesauce or 1 mashed banana.  Replace butter with veggie/coconut oil or vegan butter substitute.  Replace milk/buttermilk with almond milk or your fave sub.  Make sure to use only dark chocolate chunks!
  • Gluten Free:  Replace flour with rice flour, add 1/2 tsp. xantham gum, and use gluten free baking powder.

One more final thought before I go:  Remember when you turned a year older and people would ask if you felt different and you always said no?  Well, 18 really does feel different.  I actually feel like an adult cooking dinner every single night (instead of once in a while to help my mom out).  Doing laundry.  Constantly cleaning, walking the puppy, etc.  It’s crazy!  But exciting at the same time.

Thanks for following my new adventure!  College starts Monday.  Eek!

XOXO Sara

The Guide To Kauai

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Hello everyone!

I am here to share my wonderful, beautiful, amazing trip to Hawaii (finally).  Why did I wait so long to share this?  Because this is my (drumroll please) 50th post!  50 posts.  1 year.  Not to bad, huh?

I went to Hawaii late in July for 9 days and it was literally the best trip I have ever been on.  I cannot imagine a more beautiful paradise to spend a week of vacation on.

I decided to document all of the activities we did so I could share the best things to do with you!

We stayed in the beautiful town of Koloa on Poipu Beach at the Sheraton Hotel.  This was a great location because it was pretty close to every event we wanted to do, plus there were a ton of restaurants and shops to go to!

Here we go.  Get excited.

1.  Go see the Spouting Horn.

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The Spouting Horn is a famous blowhole in Kauai and was only about 5 minutes from our hotel.  You have to drive through a residential area to find it, but once you see it you’ll know.  Walk down the path for a few minutes, and there’s a nice little cabana of outdoor shops to take care of all your Hawaiian souvenir needs.  We visited the Spouting Horn while our hotel room was being prepped.  Then we went back and had a nice nap.  (7 hours on a plane will make you tired).

2. Go on a helicopter!

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The tallest water fall in Hawaii. It runs into 30 different waterfalls.

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Seriously.  Go on a freakin helicopter.  It was the best ever.

We went through Blue Hawaiian.  The tour guide/helicopter pilot was awesome.  For more info visit: http://www.bluehawaiian.com/

3.  Go on a safari (not what you think it might be.  Let me explain…)

This package is a 3 in 1 deal.  You get to kayak, hike, and zipline!  It was amazing.

First, you’ll kayak for 2 miles down the Hule’ia River.  I didn’t get any pictures ):  No phones allowed out in the kayak.

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After, you’ll get off, take a short hike, and end up here, where you can swing on a rope into a small pool of water…

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…A special pool of water.  My biggest celebrity crush, Johnny Depp, filmed part of the 4th Pirates of the Caribbean movie here.  I died.  To the left of me…yeah, that’s where the mermaid was trapped.  True story.

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You will then take a little trolley to the picnic area where they give you a nice little lunch and some relaxation time.  Then, it’s time for ziplining.  You will get to wear an awesome outfit, like the one I’m wearing above.  Cute, right?

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After ziplining, you will hike again to another pool of water where you can zipline into some freezing cold water full of sea turtles (apparently–I guess they ditch the water once people arrive).  This was actually a lot of fun.

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You can also jump off of the deck into the water.  That’s my brother taking a dive.

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You will then take one more hike through a tall canopy of bamboo…

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…and end up on a boat back to the shuttle (or car which is what we took).  They gave us a few boxes of Hawaiian cookies on the way back and told us stories about the legends of the river and surrounding attractions.  The mountains behind me and my brother is actually an ancient Hawaiian burial ground.  Crazy!  If they ask if you want to hear the stories, say YES!

Again, the tour guide was awesome and it was crazy fun.  Bring something to repel masquitos!  I still have marks where I got bit.  For more info visit:  http://www.outfitterskauai.com/kipu-zipline-safari.php

4.  Snorkel

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My mom, brother, and I not actually in our snorkel gear but just having fun swimming!

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The gorgeous view.

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My mom snorkeling through The Tunnels–our favorite place to snorkel!  We did this on my birthday and it was an awesome way to spend the day!

5. Go inner tubing!

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This was crazy fun!  Probably one of my most favorite things I got to do on the island.  The tour had some thrill to it, but still had the feel of a lazy river.  You float in 5 tunnels throughout the “river”, which is actually part of an old irrigation system.

This fills up quick in the summer, so make your reservations at least 2 weeks in advance!

For more information (and the story of the irrigation system) visit: http://www.kauaibackcountry.com/tubing.html

*Along the way, they will take you to a viewing area where you can see the wettest place in the world:

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Mount Waialeale–average rainfall of about 420 inches a year.

6.  After the inner tubing, drive about 10 minutes to the Wailua Falls.

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Take a funny picture.

7.  Visit Hanapepe Town and go to Waimea Canyon.

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A beautiful view on the way there.

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On the way there!

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Beautiful views!

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On the way back!  Not only will I be living in the Biggest Little City in the World in about 3 days, but I also got to visit Kauai’s Biggest Little Town!

More little things to do…

1. See the sunset.

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See the beautiful Hawaiian sunset and climb some lava rocks!  Also, play in the ocean.

2. Relax on the beach for a few days (duh).

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The water is so warm so go swimming.  Try not to get knocked over by the waves when you’re right next to the shore (good luck).  My mom and I bought inner tubes, went farther out into the ocean, and had an amazing time swimming!

3.  See the ocean at night.

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Gotta love that reflection.  And the cloudy night.  Thankfully, we got a full moon (:

4.  Go to Tortilla Republic

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Breakfast is awesome.  Dinner is awesome.  Go there.  Kukuiula Shopping Center.  (Great shops too).

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Have a Hawaiian beer.

5.  Go to a luau.

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6. Go behind the stores at The Shops at Kukuilua for a beautiful view.

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7.  See a seal (hopefully!)

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There he is!

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Awwww…

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…look how happy he is in the sunshine.

8.  Make leis.  Release them into the wild when you’re done.  In Hawaii, you take what you need from nature and always return it.

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9.  Go to Bubba’s.  Yummm.

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10.  Meet the locals.

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11.  Go to Keoki’s Paradise.  We went there 3 times.  Once for my birthday.  Mmmm.

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My dad was trying to eat dessert and take a picture at the same time, hence the blurry, but this is me eating my birthday Hula Pie (mint chip was my fave).

12.  Get shaved ice!

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We went at least once a day (if not twice).  Try out Uncle’s Shave Ice.  It’s da best.

13.  Find you Hawaiian name.

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14.  Cry when you leave.  And start planning your next trip.

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I want to go back to Hawaii so bad.  Soon!

A few tips:

Bring a water proof camera.  My biggest regret.  I would redo that if I could.

Don’t bring small kids.  I’m sorry.  You cannot do most of these activities unless you’re a certain age.  If you plan on bringing your children to the beach or pools, I would say just go to a beach closer to your home and save tons of money.  I guarantee I would not have known the difference between Hawaii and California when I was five years old.  And then you can have more money for all of these amazing activities when your children are my age!

This is just my personal opinion because the best part of the trip was all of the adventures we took.  However, it is all up to you.

If you have any questions about Hawaii, any of the things we did, or anything else don’t be afraid to ask!

XOXO Sara

How to Pack 2 Weeks in a Carry On (Summer Edition)

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Back in June (yeah I know, I’m sorry, I haven’t had time to write this) I went to my new home in Reno to move and paint!

I was there for 2 weeks, and after packing up this giant beast…

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…there just wasn’t much room for a big ol’ suitcase.

Although we didn’t fly, I was sure to make these tips applicable to those who will be boarding an airplane with their luggage.  It was actually pretty easy to fit everything into a small carry-on once I put my mind to it.

The key to packing two weeks worth of clothes into a tiny suitcase is learning the art of mixing and matching, packing basics, and a few accessories to tie everything together.  And if you’re weird about wearing the same thing twice, you’re going to have to just get over it.

Sorry.  I can be pretty blunt.

Anyways, here’s how I did it…

Pack 4 bottoms

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1 pair of jeans (I like dark wash–they go with everything), 1 pair of light wash shorts, 1 pair dark wash shorts, 1 pair colored jeans

7 shirts/blouses

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1 basic tank top (mine was black), 1 fashion tank top (striped), 1 printed shirt (black cheetah print), 1 sleeved blouse (red/orange lace), 1 dressy tank top (white), 1 basic shirt (black fringe), 1 flowy tank top (coral)

 

1 skirt, 1 dress, 1 romper (or skirt/dress)

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Maxi skirt (striped), Flowy dress (polka dot), Romper (gray/black)

 

Don’t forget your undergarments, socks, and such!  That could get ugly…  I also packed an outfit for working out and of course pajamas and sweats!

Tips

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To keep shirts from getting wrinkled, fold in half and then fold in the sleeves (if the have any).  This shirt looks wrinkly, but it’s just the material.

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Pack everything folded and stacked to maximize space.  For shoes, I packed 1 pair of running shoes, 1 pair of flip flops, 1 pair of dressy sandals, and I wore my TOMS on the way there.

Also keep in mind that I had a few nice events/dinners to go to throughout those two weeks.  If you do not, you can pack more  casual outfits, shoes, or accessories.

Also, don’t forget to bring accessories!  I brought a few scarves, 2 beanies, and some jewelry to make everything go nicely together (:

A couple outfits I wore…

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Basic tank top, striped Maxi, dressy sandals, jewelry accessories

 

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Black cheetah print shirt, light washed shorts, TOMS, jewelry accessories, black beanie (not pictured)

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My toiletries, a jacket for the ride up, chargers, and my iPad for games went in my back pack which traveled with me up front.  The suitcase was thrown in the back and away we went!

If you’re traveling on a plane with toiletries, make sure to do so according to the TSA’s directions!

That means…

All toiletries that are liquid must be 3 oz. or under (100 mL).  They must be stowed away in a plastic bag which has to be sealed.

Examples of liquids:

Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, liquid soaps, gel deodorants, mascara, foundation, liquid eyeliner, face wash, toothpaste, mouthwash, creams, lipgloss, makeup remover, contact solution, etc……

To cut down on the amount of toiletries you have to seal in a Ziploc baggie:

Bring solid eyeliners, lipsticks, deodorant, soaps, and face makeup.

If you’re visiting family or friends that will have items such as toothpaste, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, and soap, don’t pack it!  Ask if you can use it beforehand.  And if you’re like me, and you have that awesome shampoo you can’t live without, just think about using another brand.  As much as I love my shampoo/conditioner, I can live without it for a few days!

Also, remember to BRING EXTRA BAGGIES.  If yours breaks, you cannot bring your items through.  Bring extra baggies in case of emergencies.

In addition, think about packing your own liquids per family member so you don’t run out of a certain item and have to buy more.

If you have any questions on tips to packing, ask away!  I’ve done quite a bit of research on this over the summer being gone so much and whatnot…. (;

And keep checking for my post on the best things to do and places to see in Kauai!  I will be posting it within the next few days and I’m so freakin excited.  I miss that place already.  I’m actually going to make a travel category specifically for things like this…. Good idea?  I hope so!

Have a great night guys and safe travels!

XOXO Sara

Oil Cleansing Method

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Hello everyone!

I am currently recovering from surgery and although I am super tired, I decided I needed to wake up for a few minutes to write a post.  To make me feel better (-:

A few months ago (6, actually) I wrote a post about baking soda face wash and all the benefits to washing your face with a natural cleanser opposed to the name brand chemicals they sell in drug stores.  I also mentioned how I would test the oil cleansing method and let you know how it works.

I used olive oil as my oil of choice.  Some people use a mixture of olive and grapeseed and some people use other kinds, but this is what I had on hand and also my favorite kind of oil.

To cleanse your face with oil, you will first wet your face with warm water.  You will massage a small amount of oil into your skin (a little goes a long way) for about one minute.  Then, you will steam your face with a towel or in the shower for about three minutes.  I found it easiest to steam while in the shower.  Lastly, you will wash the oil completely off your face, dry your skin with a clean towel, and apply moisturizer.

The first time you do it, the texture will probably freak you out.  Unless you’re not a texture person.  Up to you.

You will massage the oil into your skin and it will feel like nothing is happening but don’t worry, it’s getting in there.  Just don’t scratch it into your face or anything.

Steaming your face will feel like forever even though it’s only 3 minutes.  If you do it in the shower, you can shave and stuff  while your waiting.  I recommend the shower.

You will try to wipe the oil off of your face but it will never completely come off.  No matter how hard you try.  Even after you dry your face, you will feel it.  No worries, it’s off.  It’s just how your skin feels.

And you’re done!

I did it in four parts: every day, twice a week, once a week, and not at all to see the best way to do it.  Here are my results:

Every Day:

        Doing this every day seemed to not have the effect on my skin that I thought it would have.  I still had about the same amount of pimples I had before.  Even though I never went through the purging period (where your skin breaks out as it adjusts to this method) I was still not completely happy.  A.K.A. too much work for not a great outcome.

Twice a Week:

        I did the OCM twice a week and used my baking soda cleanser the other five days.  I had a better outcome, but still a few zits left over.

Once a Week:

        Cleaning my skin with oil once a week was my favorite outcome.  My skin felt better, looked better, and was clear aside from the occasional breakout.

Not at All:

        Cleaning my skin with just baking soda kept me from breaking out, but my skin was drier than when I cleansed my skin with oil once a week.

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I concluded that cleansing my skin with pure, organic olive oil once a week, and with baking soda the other six days, was the best way to go with my skin.  However, I recommend that you try it the same way I did to see what works best for your skin.  Maybe even try a few different oils?

Would you try the OCM?  Comment and let me know how you feel!

XOXO Sara

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Strawberry Almond Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

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It’s 11 p.m. on a balmy summer night, and even though I have to be up a 4:30 a.m. for surgery, I am surprisingly energetic and wanting salad I am not allowed to eat.

That whole “no eating 8 hours before surgery” thing has got to go.  Okay, maybe not, but I’m just hungry and grumpy.

Like I said in my last post, I have been obsessed with salads lately and this one is no exception.  It’s summery and delicious and inexpensive to make!  I usually have all of these ingredients sitting around the house.

Except for pomegranate juice/vinegar.  You may need to hit up your local grocery store for that one.

Ingredients for Salad:

1 c. spring mix

1 c. baby spinach

1/4 c. strawberries, sliced (about 3-4 large strawberries)

4 oz. chicken breast, cooked thoroughly

3 Tbs. slivered almonds, toasted

2 Tbs. blue cheese, crumbled

Ingredients for Pomegranate Vinaigrette:

3 Tbs. olive oil

2 Tbs. pomegranate vinegar

1-2 Tbs. pomegranate juice, to taste

2-3 Tbs. honey, to taste

1/2 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds

Salt and Pepper, to taste

To make dressing:

Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, juice, honey, salt, and pepper.  Stir in sesame seeds.

To prepare salad:

Toss all ingredients together in a salad bowl.  Drizzle with 2 Tbs. pomegranate dressing.

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Mmmmmm!

Alternatives:

Vegetarian: Replace chicken with more veggies or fruits.

Vegan:  Replace chicken with fruits or veggies.  Replace cheese with vegan cheese or exclude.

Paleo:  Replace cheese and nuts with extra fruits or veggies.

Gluten Free:  This recipe is gluten free!

XOXO Sara

Chicken Apple Walnut Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

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I’m finally back! 

*Hawaii* was the best vacation I have ever, ever been on but now I’m back, unpacked, and ready for a relaxing few days before I move to Reno.  

This summer, when I’m not out of town, I have been obsessed with salads!  They’re perfect for light summer lunches (and little bikini waistlines).  

With all of the fresh produce available in the summer, there’s so many possibilities to delicious, easy salads.  Plus, the ingredients are inexpensive and go a long way.  

Another bonus is that making salads will help you avoid turning on the hot stoves and ovens (although I did bake 8 dozen cookies yesterday.  Steamy kitchen anyone?)

So, since there’s only a few weeks of summer left (sigh) break out your cutting board and chop up some fresh ingredients for a nice summer salad.  Start with this one, and then down it with a few homemade cookies (;

*Look for a post in a few days about my trip to Hawaii!  I will show you the best things to do and the prettiest places to go*

 

Ingredients for Salad:

1 c. mixed spring greens

1 c. baby spinach

2 Tbs. feta cheese

4 oz. chicken breast, cooked thoroughly 

1/2 apple, diced (I used Gala)

3 Tbs. walnuts, chopped

 

Ingredients for Dressing:

1/2 heaping cup frozen raspberries, thawed slightly

3 Tbs. canola oil

2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. honey dijon

2-3 Tbs. honey, to taste

2 tsp. poppy seeds, toasted

Salt and Pepper, to taste

 

To make dressing:

Combine raspberries, canola oil, apple cider vinegar, dijon, honey, and salt and pepper in a blender.  Blend until completely smooth.  Strain the dressing through a sieve to remove any chunks or seeds.  Stir in poppy seeds.

 

To prepare salad:

Toss all ingredients in a large bowl.  Drizzle 2 Tbs. of dressing on the salad and enjoy!

 

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The dressing in this salad rocks!  Tangy and fruity all at once.  

I hope you guys enjoy this delicious summer salad.

 

Alternatives:

Vegetarian:  Replace chicken with extra veggies or fruit.

Vegan:  Replace chicken with veggies or fruit.  Replace feta with vegan cheese or exclude altogether.  

Paleo:  Replace cheese and walnuts with veggies or fruit!

Gluten Free:  This recipe is gluten free!

XOXO Sara