**Originally published with The Christian Online Magazine, January 2012**
The holidays are over and we’ve all probably had a few too many slices of pie, sugar cookies, cups of pumpkin spice lattes, and sweet and sticky candy canes. So, to lighten things up I’ve decided to share a couple of my favorite whole-foods recipes. These ingredients are healthy, natural (meaning they grow from the ground, not in an industrial plant), and delicious. They are easy to manipulate around the foods you like so you can personalize each one to your individual tastes.
Both of these salads keep well in the refrigerator, and make satisfying snacks or meals. They are great on the go, or at home, and relatively easy to make. I’ve also made both of these items for church events with excellent feedback. (As the resident vegetarian, I usually volunteer to make gluten free/vegan dishes to offer at events where most of the foods are sugar and carb laden.) The best part is no one can ever tell they are “healthy”! Go ahead, give it a try and see for yourself.
One fresh pineapple
One pint of strawberries
Five clementines (they look like miniature oranges)
Two small containers of berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries…etc.)
The juice of one pomegranate
This “salad” is super fresh, easy, and delicious. Simply prepare the fruit (washing) and chop it up to the desirable size and toss it in a bowl. The juices from the pineapple, clementines, and berries will mix well together, and no other “sweetener” is needed. (However, for some fruit salads honey or agave nectar makes a great healthy sweetener.)
To juice the pomegranate: put the pomegranate seeds in a sandwich sized plastic bag, seal tightly. Gently roll over the seeds with a rolling pin to retrieve pomegranate juices. Cut a tiny hole in the corner of the sandwich bag to drain the juice into the fruit salad. Adds an extra special punch of flavor!
This fresh fruit cocktail stays good in the fridge (if it lasts that long) for several days and makes an excellent, vitamin rich, energy boosting breakfast or after-dinner desert.
One box of veggie pasta (I use Eating Right™ brand made with vegetable puree)
One box of quinoa pasta (gluten free option)
OR Mix half-box veggie pasta with half-box quinoa pasta (this is how I make mine)
Four stalks of celery
One bell pepper (any color you choose)
One large cucumber
One large tomato
½ medium onion (I use red onions, but any onion you like will work fine)
One cup vegan (or regular if you like) Italian dressing **
¼ cup vegan mayo (or regular if you prefer)
One tablespoon Dijon mustard
One tablespoon dill weed
½ teaspoon sea salt (or regular works fine)
Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
Cook pasta as package directions indicate, meanwhile, in a large bowl mix the dressing ingredients together with a whisk.
While pasta cooks, chop veggies into desired size, and add to the dressing, mix together.
Once pasta is finished, rinse under cool water until pasta is cooled off; then add pasta to veggies/dressing mix. Stir well and it is ready to go! This pasta salad is so fresh and delicious, and keeps well for several days in the fridge. My husband likes to eat it with chicken for dinner, but it can be eaten on its own as a meal or a snack.
**Home-made Italian Dressing
One cup of vinegar (any type is fine: wine vinegar, rice vinegar, etc…)
1 1/3 cup of olive oil
Two tablespoons of water
½ tablespoon garlic powder
½ tablespoon onion powder
½ tablespoon agave nectar (regular sugar can be used, or honey)
One tablespoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
½ tablespoon dried parsley (fresh is even better!)
One tablespoon salt
Pour all ingredients into glass jar or bottle and shake well. I like to use old pickle jars or even Tupperware if that is all I have laying around. I can’t say for sure how long this keeps in the fridge because it has never gone more than a week in my house before being used!
(For more home-made, money saving ideas visit http://www.pennilessparenting.com)
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© Rebecca Aarup