Red Lentil Soup with Harissa

Red Lentil Stew spiced with turmeric, garlic, and lots of harissa. This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and made in a slow cooker!

Red Lentil Soup with Harissa | Serendipity by Sara Lynn
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Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad

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While in London, I ate french fries and gelato every single day.  I also indulged in a pint (or two) of craft beer.  Every single day.  For a month straight.  In short, my destructive, unhealthy diet was a sober vegan’s worst goddamn nightmare.

Needless to say, by the time I got home, I was prepping myself for an intense detox consisting of straight juiced kale and other horrible concoctions nutrition bloggers insist are good for the body and the soul.

While I didn’t *exactly* end up subjecting myself to some kind of horrible, liquid diet (I mean, last weekend was my birthday, so of course I was going to eat steak and cake!), I was able to come up with some yummy, clean recipes.

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One recipe from the mix is this roasted vegetable orzo salad.  It’s light and summery which made me extra excited to eat it for lunch all week.

Although I’m longing for sweater weather season with soup-based dinners and a nice mug of warm tea before bed every night, I’m still trying to push as much summer recipes into my life as I can before it’s too late!

This recipe is especially great served over spinach with a little extra dressing and a grilled chicken breast.

On a side note: My heartburn has gone away since I started incorporating more veggies and less french fries into my life.  Weird right?!

Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad:

1 1/2 c. orzo pasta (whole wheat if you can find it)

2 zucchinis, cubed

2 yellow squashes, cubed

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced

1 can chick peas, drained

1/2 c. walnuts, toasted

Crumbled feta, for topping (optional)

Dressing:

1/4 c. olive oil

2-3 Tbs. red wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp. dried parsley

Onion powder, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Pinch of sugar, agave, or honey

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Toss zucchini, yellow squash, and bell peppers in olive oil and a few pinches of salt.  Spread onto a greased baking sheet.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until tender.

Meanwhile, cook orzo according to package directions.  Drain and let cool to room temperature.

While pasta is boiling, whisk dressing ingredients together until incorporated.

To make the salad, mix cooled roasted veggies with the orzo, chickpeas, and walnuts.  Pour dressing over the top and mix to coat the orzo.  Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to eat.

Serve with crumbled feta over the top.

Makes 4 entree servings or 8 side servings.

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Although I miss the nights of drinking pale ale at the Craft Beer Company in London, eating deep fried foods, and laughing with my friends, I’m also happy to be on a normal eating schedule again!

It’s also nice to not have to take an antacid before bed every single night.

Can’t say I wouldn’t do it all again!

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Song of the Day: Smother–Daughter

Thai Marinated Cucumbers and The World is a Beautiful Place (and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die)

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Does anybody (besides me) like the smell and idea of pickles but not actually like pickles themselves?

Because I’m finding that I have that kind of relationship with pickles.  I want to like pickles, I just have a hard time with them for some reason.

Probably cause I’m a weirdo.

Which is coincidentally what my roommate thinks I am after I took him to see The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die (or to shorten it: The World is a Beautiful Place/TWIABP)

Oh, you don’t know who that is either?

I’m not surprised actually, but you should check them out.  I’m a little bit in love with them <3

(ily TWIABP)

Uhhhhhh…back to the pickle thing now?

I’m not huge on pickles, although I am trying, but I looooove Thai marinated cucumbers.  I don’t know how you couldn’t.  They’re kind of sweet and vinegar-y and go great with chicken satay with peanut sauce or homemade ramen just sayin’.  Also, they’re way healthier than pickles, so there’s that.

And you should try them about rightthisverysecond.

Okay?

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Ingredients:

1 cucumber

1/4 c. rice vinegar

2 Tbs. sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Red chili flakes, to taste

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Slice your cucumber.  I really like pickling cucumbers for these because they’re super crunchy, but I couldn’t find any at the store this time, so a regular one works just fine! (Also, this is like, half a cucumber because that’s just what happens sometimes).

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Whisk together the vinegar, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, and chili flakes.

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Pour vinegar mixture over cucumbers.

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Mix together.  Let marinate for about 20 minutes (or longer if you like it really strong) and then pour out extra vinegar.

“Hey Sara, you need to go get your nails done now”–you guys.

“I know, I’ll try to do better in the future”–me.

(Thank for loving me anyways) (Even when I enter weird made up commentary mid directions).

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Put these on everything.

XO Sara

Song of the Day: Space Exploration to Solve Earthly Crises–TWIABP (fitting, yes?)

Also ft. Chris Zizzamia who does an awesome spoken word/poetry collab with the band which you will hear in this song!  Cool, right?

Black Bean and Corn Guacamole

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“Hey, Sara.  Why are you taking pictures of that guacamole?”

“Errrrrrr, uhhhhhm, weeeeelllllllll…..”

I feel like that just summed up my life in two sentences.

That was a quote from one of my roommates.  Sometimes it takes a while to openly admit that you’re a food blogger.  Not that I’m ashamed.  Just that it’s not something that just comes up all the time.

Until your roommate walks in, practically smacking you in the head with the front door while you “rap squat” with a camera pointing directly at a bowl of guac.  Don’t know what the “rap squat” is? Check this out here.  That should sum it up for you/give you a good laugh.

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Anyways, yeah, guac.  I’m pretty sure that I’m allergic to avocados considering I never feel all that great after eating them, but I don’t care.  Because they’re worth it.  Why are they so good?!

This guac has corn and black beans in it, like that really great salsa, except that it’s in guacamole!  Yes, please and thank you.

But Sara, doesn’t regular guacamole have tomatoes and onions in it?

Uhm, don’t you have something better to do?  Shouldn’t you be watching Netflix or something?  I recommend It’s Always Sunny. (No, Netflix is not compensating me for that comment.  But I am interested Netflix.  Need a cute little redheaded spokesgirl?  Sorry, was that conceited?).

But for real, the answer is yes.  But I hate raw onions and I forgot tomatoes at the store.  You may add them if you want.  I just did not have the necessary ingredients with me.  Sorry ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Let’s get started!

Ingredients:

1 avocado

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 lime, juiced

1/4 tsp. onion powder

Salt and pepper, to taste

4 drops Tobasco, or to taste

1/4 c. corn (fresh, frozen, canned, your choice)

1/4 c. black beans (I used canned.  Make sure to drain and rinse!)

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Cut your avocado in half, around the pit.  Jam your knife into the pit and yank it out.  Just twist a little, it’ll come out.  Don’t cut your hand!  You can do this guys.

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Put the avocado in a good mashing bowl with your garlic, lime juice, onion powder, salt and pepper, and Tobasco.

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Smash it with a fork!

Screw the fork, this is taking to long.  Use a potato masher.

Oh yeah, I don’t have a potato masher.

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The fork works.

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Stir in black beans and corn!

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Serve with these!  They’re way healthier than regular corn chips and they’re way more delicious!

Again, not being compensated.  Again, interested.

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This should serve 4 regular, healthy sized portions.  But we all know you’re going to eat half of it like me.  Don’t be like me, kids.  Do yourself a favor.  Learn portion control.

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You know what, avocados are really good for you, eat however much you want.

And let me know how that goes.

Tips:

1. To find a good avocado, take the little stem off.  If it’s green, it’s ripe!  If it’s creamy white/tan, it’s not ripe.  If it’s dark brown or black, it’s bad!

2.  To keep guacamole from going brown and goopy, cover it with water.  Then just dump it out and stir whenever you want to eat it.  Kind of sounds gross, but it’s not (it’s just water) and it’s better than brown clumpy guac.  The reason it works is because food can’t oxidize in water!  Yeah, science bitch!  (Breaking Bad, anyone?)

XO Sara

Song of the Day: Honestly?–American Football

Healthy Dirty Rice

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I know, it’s been like, a month.

But on the bright side, I got great grades from all of the finals I was studying for.  When I say that, I mean that somehow I got a full 100 on my calculus exam.  If you’re sitting here stunned, just know that I have been feeling that way since I found out two weeks ago.

I seriously don’t know how that happened.

Another plus is that I’m doing great in my three week mini class.

Three weeks, three credits.  No biggie.

(Kind of a biggie).

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On the bright side, I have definitely not forgotten all about the blog.  I actually have a bunch of great stuff coming up for you guys.  And in approximately a week and a half, I will be completely off of school and lots of great stuff will be coming your way!

But first, let’s start off with dirty rice.  I can recall a few times when I was little where my mom made the boxed Zattaran’s stuff on super busy nights, but we realized pretty soon after that we were not huge fans of the boxed dinners.

Luckily, dirty rice is super easy to make at home and tastes 10x better than Zattaran’s.  This is easily a 30 minute meal (excluding the rice prep but still…).  And, if you didn’t already expect this, the recipe is healthy.  Shocker right?

*Disclaimer:  This is NOT traditional dirty rice.  Traditional stuff uses chicken gizzards and livers and other leftover chicken parts.  Now, I know that they’re just some chicken parts, but they are just chicken parts I can not wrap my head around eating.  So therefore, I went the Zattaran’s route and used ground beef.  Also, this recipe was created completely according to taste/whatever I had in my kitchen so the spices may or may not be traditional.  End of disclaimer.*

Ingredients:

2 c. cooked long grain brown rice

1/2 lb. ground beef

1/2 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 tsp. ceyenne pepper, or to taste

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. dried mustard

1/4 tsp. dried marjoram

1/2 tsp. parsley

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 beef bouillon cube, dissolved in 1/4 c. hot water

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Cook rice according to package directions.  Set aside when finished.

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Chop up veggies!  Yes, those are dried onions.  Yes, I forgot to buy a real onion.

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Saute the veggies until soft.

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Brown the beef.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant.  (Blurry picture alert.  Whoops!)

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Oh yeah, and dissolve that little guy.

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Add rice and spices to the mixture.

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Mix it all together and add beef bouillon mixture.  Let simmer until the liquid is absorbed!

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Serve to a group of very happy peeps.

Also, please note that you should adjust spices as needed for your tastes.  I decided to not use much salt since I used a beef bouillon cube.  Just taste and adjust accordingly.

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Serve this with a nice little side salad and you have a delicious dinner that will make the whole family happy!

*Vegetarian/Vegan: Replace ground beef with zucchini, tofu, eggplant, and other veggies.  Replace beef broth with veggie broth.

*Gluten Free: This recipe is gluten free

*Paleo: Replace rice with cauliflower “rice”.

XOXO Sara

 

 

 

Homemade Hummus

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Mmmm hummus.

It’s one of my faves.  But I do not love the store bought stuff.  How do you make something so healthy taste so chemical-y?  They find a way, I’m telling you.

So I made my own!  Homemade tahini and everything.

This is perfect with fresh veggies and whole wheat toasted pita bread.  I could go eat some right now, and I just might.

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I even accidentally stabbed myself with my blender to make this stuff, so sacrifice was involved.

That’s how good hummus is.  I’m willing to give some blood for it.

But somebody’s gotta do it, ya know?

Oh, did I mention how easy it is to make this?  Even homemade tahini is so simple!  Just blend up the tahini, scrape it out and make the hummus right away.  No clean up involved.  It only took me about 30 minutes, and I was on my way to Greek food heaven.  Maybe gyros will happen this weekend?  It’s so possible.

Follow the directions like this and you will have a perfectly smooth hummus!  Any other way might not end up with the best results.  Go with your gut, but keep in mind, this is my recommendation 😉

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Spoon tahini into a blender.

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Add fresh lemon juice…

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Blend away!  Let it just blend for a good two minutes.  Scrape occasionally.

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Add a bunch of chopped garlic!

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And some salt.

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And some paprika!

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And don’t forget about the olive oil.  My favorite of all the oils.

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Blend it up!  I actually used a little too much paprika so mine looked kind of reddish orange.  You do not have to make my same mistakes, but you can if you want.

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Add chick peas and blend until smooth and creamy.  (At this point, it will be thick, so add some water to get it to the desired consistency).

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Have I ever mentioned how good hummus is with warm whole wheat pita bread?  It’s da best.

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Ingredients:

2 cans chickpeas

2 Tbs. tahini

Juice of 2 lemons

8 cloves garlic (you may use less, I recommend this many though)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. paprika

1/4 c. olive oil

2-4 Tbs. water, to thin (I needed 4)

Drain chickpeas and rinse in cold water.  Set aside to drain all of the water out.

Spoon the tahini in a blender and squeeze as much lemon juice as you can in with the tahini.  Blend together for about 2 minutes, scraping occasionally.  Add garlic, salt, paprika, and olive oil.  Blend for a few more minutes, scraping sides occasionally.

Add chickpeas about 1 1/2 cups at a time.  Blend thoroughly so that the hummus is nice and smooth.  Add water to thin to desired consistency.

Makes about 4 cups.

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Delicious.

*This recipe is vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free!

*Paleo: Replace chickpeas with roasted eggplant or roasted cauliflower.

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

 

Chipotle Spiced Chicken Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Crema

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Hi guys!

I’m writing this post late in the night purely because there’s a good chance I’ll be on a small hiatus for the next few weeks.

Why?

Because I’m moving!  Yep, the past week all I’ve been doing is packing away.  We even got a 26 foot trailer to pack it all in.  Crazy!

So, about these tacos.  I’ve been craving Mexican food so badly the past few weeks but have yet to get it.  And even though what I’m really craving is deep fried chips with salsa, and globs of gooey cheese over shredded beef, this was a pretty good sub for a healthy dinner.

And just in case you’re wondering, my brother (and I quote) said these were “the best tacos he ever had”.  A nice compliment if I do say so myself.

The best part?  They’re sooo easy!  They only took me about 1 hour to make from prep to dish-washing, and some of it can be made in advance if needed.

Keep reading for the best tacos ever 😉

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XOXO Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Beach Demon by Wavves

 

Sugar Free Dark Chocolate Truffles

 

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Hello friends!

Another recipe for another day.  Lately, I’ve been needing chocolate.  NEEDING it.  And I’m not one of those crazy, obsessed chocolate-fans.  I just enjoy it four times three times more than once a week.

Chocolate is obviously one of the most popular foods in the whole entire world.  Cocoa powder is one amazing ingredient.  Has anyone ever tried it in a savory dish?  I think I need to get on that.

Mole sauce maybe?  On cheese enchiladas?  Yes please.

And although cocoa powder has amazing health benefits (antioxidants anyone?) milk chocolate or white chocolate do not provide the same benefits.  Dark chocolate is ideal for a healthy chocolate option, but many of the brands are still filled with sugar.

And that’s where I come in.  Well, my truffles.

These truffles are made with dark chocolate and a natural sweetener: honey!  However, don’t fret; they don’t taste like honey.  They also take about 7 minutes total.  Seriously.

Another bonus: kids and men will love these and they’ll never know that they’re good for them!  Score.

*Also look for some more alternatives at the bottom of this page!*

 

Ingredients:

6 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate

4-6 Tbs. honey (sweeten according to taste)

6 Tbs. skim milk

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 c. hazelnuts (or nut of choice), optional*

Cocoa powder, shredded coconut, or nuts for garnish

 

In a microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate, honey, milk, and salt.  Microwave in 30 second intervals until smooth, like ganache.  While still hot, add vanilla extract and hazelnuts.

Freeze for 2ish hours.  It may look firm before then, but the center won’t be.  It could help to mix it a few times.

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When it’s done, it should look like this.

Then, just scoop them out with a cookie scoop, and roll in garnish.  That easy!

Oh, and keep them in the freezer or they might melt.

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*Gluten Free Option: Already gluten free.

*Vegan Option:  Use coconut or almond milk instead of skim milk.

*Nut Free Option: Replace hazelnuts with chocolate chips, dried fruit, or leave them out completely.

*Honey Free Option: Use Splenda, agave nectar, or sugar if you want!

Let me know what you guys use in this recipe!  So yummy.

Stay Serendipitous!

XOXO Sara