Maybe it’s just me, but seems to take me forever to get back on track when I decide to throw all caution to the wind and eat whatever I desire. We had “dinner on the ground” at church the Sunday before Valentine’s Day and that was the beginning of my downward spiral. The following week I indulged a lot. Then I topped it off yesterday with a number one combo from Sonic. Time for a get real talk with myself.
I have started this week much better, but my goodness, it’s like starting over again! Healthy living is tough! Sometimes I wish I had never been raised on biscuits, gravy, country ham and fried salmon patties! Life would be so much easier now! It seems that what I have established so far is my downfall last week is due to church and mama, lol.
Flatbreads have quickly become one of my favorite meals while trying to eat healthier. A few of my favorites are Buffalo Chicken Flatbread, Shrimp Verde Flatbread (recipe on NJSD), and this Cucumber Caprese Flatbread. I found this recipe while visiting my mom and looking through her Diabetic Living magazines. I love the recipes in her magazines so much that she recently gave me a gift subscription.
These recipes are packed with flavor, and because I can eat the entire flatbread I do not feel deprived! I typically prefer to make homemade dressing. However, for 1/2 tablespoon of dressing I found that Newman’s Own Light Balsamic is very good. If you still prefer to make your own because of salt content I will include an amazing recipe below.
Cucumber Caprese Flatbread
- 1 light original oval flatbread (I used Flatout brand)
- ½ c. coarsely torn fresh arugula and/or baby spinach
- ¼ c. red and/or yellow cherry tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- ¼ c. English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 tbsp. thinly sliced red onion
- 2 tbsp. torn fresh basil
- ½ tbsp. bottled light balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
- 2 tbsp. roasted red pepper hummus
- 1 tbsp. crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
- Cracked Black Pepper
- Preheat oven to 425℉. Place the flatbread on a baking sheet. Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly browned and edges are crisp. Transfer to a wire rack; cool.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the arugula (and/or baby spinach), cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and basil; toss with vinaigrette.
- Spread hummus on cooled flatbread. Spoon tomato mixture over hummus. Sprinkle with feta cheese and black pepper. Cut into wedges and serve.
- Weight Watchers Smart Points = 3 points
Reduced Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- ½ tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- ½ tsp. minced garlic
- ½ tsp. dried basil
- ½ tsp. salt
- Whisk all ingredients together, pour over salad and toss.
- Weight Watchers Smart Points = 4
For someone that hates to be late to anything It seems I am always last to jump on the bandwagon when trying new ingredients in the kitchen. For the first time ever I have tried Quinoa! I tried it in this layered Mason jar salad and now I am a huge fan!
Quinoa, pronounced (keen-wah), is considered to be a whole grain but it actually is not. It’s a seed and it’s gluten-free, cholesterol-free, high in protein, and provides 9 essential amino acids. It is thought to help stave off a number of diseases, reduces the frequency of migraines and reduces the risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks.
I love to keep these layered jar salads in the fridge for quick and easy lunches or those dinners when you have no time to cook. They generally start with the dressing in the bottom of the jar, followed by the hardier ingredients, keeping the lettuce near the top of the jar to keep the salad crisp. This salad will last 3 to 4 days stored in the refrigerator.
Greek Quinoa Layered Jar Salad
- 4 quart Mason jars, with lids
- 1 c. Quinoa
- 2 c. vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp. fresh chopped dill
- ¼ c. diced red onion
- 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- ¼ tsp. dried oregano
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ⅛ tsp. ground black pepper
- ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 c. grape tomatoes, halved
- ½ hothouse cucumber, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- ½ c kalamata olives, seeds removed and cut in half
- 5 oz. feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
- 1 head romaine lettuce
- Combine rinsed Quinoa in a saucepan with 2 cups broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes or until Quinoa has absorbed all of the broth.
- Turn off the heat and place a lid on the pot. Let Quinoa steam for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Stir in chopped dill and red onion. Let cool.
- Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, pepper, and Dijon until mixed well. Divide evenly between the 4 quart jars. Layer the veggies in the jar starting with the tomatoes, the bell pepper and cucumber.
- Divide the Quinoa among the jars, spooning it in. Top with feta and olives. At this point you can press down the ingredients slightly in the jar.
- Top off each salad with a handful of chopped lettuce. Store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Pour the contents into a bowl when you are ready to eat!
Memories of Easter make me homesick. Not only for home but everybody and everything familiar with home. Growing up in a little North Georgia town where everybody married and settled down in the same town I had the great opportunity of actually having a relationship with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. I grew up on a little dirt road where I could walk to my grandparent’s house. My best friends (my cousins) lived just next door.
Families are smaller and more scatter these days. Even my kids don’t know their cousins and extended family the way I did. I have enjoyed moving and living in different cities as an adult, but did I cheat my children of the great family memories like I have?
If you are lucky enough to be gathering with family this Easter, here is a salad that everyone will love. You can assemble it the day before, and it will hold up great. This recipe comes from Pastry Queen Parties by Rebecca Rather and Alison Oresman. It is one of my favorite things to make up and have for lunch on weekdays. These salad jars would be perfect for picnics too.
Just a quick update on my recovery. Other than pain from the staples in my heel I am doing great. I will be in a cast by the time you read this. I still can’t stand or walk on my surgery foot, but if all goes well hopefully that will come in two weeks! I do have a touch of cabin fever, or maybe it’s farm fever. I would just love to hop in the old Suburban and drive! That will not come for a while but at this point the simple act of walking will be great!
Wishing each of you a blessed and happy Easter!
Layered Salad in a Jar
- ¼ c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 medium lemons)
- ½ c. white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp. milk honey
- ⅔ c. extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 c. feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 lb. orzo pasta
- 1 (16-oz.) bag baby greens, spinach, arugula, or romaine
- 5 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
- 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ c. pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
- 1 cucumber, coarsely chopped (with peel)
- ½ c. feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 tbsp. dried oregano, or 2 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano leaves
- TO MAKE DRESSING: In a bowl whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, honey, and olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the feta. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- TO MAKE THE SALAD: In a large pot, cook the orzo in salted water according to the package instructions. Drain and run cold water over the pasta to stop the cooking. Put the orzo in a large bowl and toss with ½ cup of the dressing. In a small bowl, stir together the green oinions, tomatoes, olives, and cucumber. In a separate small bowl, stir together the ½ c. feta and the oregano.
- TO ASSEMBLE THE LAYERS: Have 12 (1-pint_ wide mouth canning jars with lids ready. Spoon ⅓ c. of the orzo into the bottom of each jar, and follow with 1 layer each of the following; ¼ c. green onion-tomato-olive-cucumber mix, 2 tsp. feta-oregano mix, and ½ c. packed greens. Spoon about 1 tbsp. of the dressing on top of each salad. (You will have some dressing left over for another use.) Top with lids and refrigerate until needed. To serve, shake the jar to distribute the dressing.
- DO IT EARLY; The dressing and orzo can be prepared up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated. Assemble the salad in jars up to 6 hours before it is to be served. Keep it cold until serving time.
In Georgia we are lucky enough to enjoy all four seasons. I love the holidays that come with winter and the occasional snow, the beautiful flowers of spring and the perfect temperatures, the barefoot and beach days of summer along with the fresh garden produce, and the crisp air, apples, and beauty of fall. It never fails, when a new season starts to come around I’m more than ready for the change. In my lifetime, I have lived several places throughout Georgia and even in Florida for a few years. I love the south and there is no place I would rather be!
The warm days that we had recently have me longing for summer! I’m ready to pack up the sweaters and boots and pull out the shorts and flip-flops. Along with the clothing changes I’m also ready for the menu changes. Salad weather is just around the corner, but I couldn’t wait! I made this wonderful Greek Chickpea Salad for my family to enjoy over the weekend. It’s easy and versatile and full of wonderful flavor! This recipe is really just a guide because you can use the ingredients that you and your family enjoy. I like cucumbers in my salad but my mother-in-law prefers artichokes, so mix it up and have fun with it. This is best made a few hours before serving.
Greek Chickpea Salad
- 2 (15-oz.) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or mint
- ¾ c. chopped bell pepper
- ½ pint halved grape tomatoes
- ¼ c. red onion, chopped
- ¼ c. halved kalamata olives
- ½ cucumber, seeded and chopped
- ½ c. feta, cubed or crumbled
- 15-oz. can artichokes, drained
- 3 tbsp. plain yogurt
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ tsp. ground cumin
- salt and pepper, to taste
- pinch of granulated sugar
- 6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- Combine chickpeas, parsley, bell pepper, grape tomatoes, onion, olives, cucumber, feta and artichokes in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl mix yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, minced garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, and sugar together with a whisk. Add olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until well incorporated.
- Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Store in the refrigerator for several hours before serving. Serve chilled or at room temperature.