Cold Sesame Chicken Noodle Salad

Out of nowhere full-on, sweaty summer has arrived: temperatures in the 90s, soaring humidity, don't-even-bother-bringing-a-sweater kind of weather.

All I want when I come home is something cool and fresh. This salad is exactly what I was craving. Tangy, spicy and sweet Asian flavors coating succulent noodles and crisp snow peas – chilled to perfection with a hint of sesame.

Added bonus: you can whip out a batch ahead of time and it makes for superb leftovers. In fact, it’s best when left in the fridge for a while so the noodles and chicken really soak up the gingery, garlic dressing. It is one of my go-to dishes for summer potlucks.

If you are trying to cut down on carbs, just change the pasta to veggie ratio. When I want a lighter meal, I reduce the pasta by half and add more cabbage and snow peas. I also recommend adding bean sprout for an extra crunch!

What I love, besides the cool crunch, is that it is an all-in-one kinda meal. You don’t need a side or a salad, because everything is packed into one.  


Fish Tacos

I have had this for dinner at least once every week for the last month. Behold: Fish Tacos! I cannot get enough. I LOVE IT! Feel free to scream-sing those lyrics Icona-Pop style.

Besides being delicious, the tacos are fast to make and require minimal stove time so you can enjoy the summer weather instead of sweating in your kitchen. My favorite part of the dish, though, is the salsa salad I put in the tacos. It's a medley of sweet corn, blackbeans, avocado, red pepper and red onion that I top off with fresh lime and Mexican spices. It is so bright and crispy! I skip tomoatoes, because they often get so watery and seedy unless they are in season.  Sometimes I throw in mango if I want to really bring out the sweetness, but I feel like it does not go as well with fish as it does beef or chicken.

If you want to lighten up the meal, skip the tortilla and cheese and simply serve the fish and salsa salad over a bed of greens with your favorite Mexican dressing. I also just make the salsa salad as side. If you have it over rice, quinoa or salad it's makes for a great meal.


Finnish Berry Pancake

This completely satisfied my Sunday-morning sweet tooth without sending me into the sugar-induced comatose state that syrup smothered pancakes do. An eggy pancake filled with berries and dusted with some powdered sugar. This was my first go at a delicious recipe I found on (you guested it) Pinterest. And success! It reminded me of my beloved popovers except in pancake form and instead of filling it with fresh fruit salad the berries go directly into the batter. And comparing the ingredients, it is pretty identical. Eggs, milk, flour and a touch of butter. What is not to love?

Admittedly, I was cheeky enough to tweak her recipe before I even tried it. I reduced the butter slightly, added some lemon zest to brighten the flavor and opted for a mix of frozen berries instead of raspberries. Nothing groundbreaking! But I have a good feeling this could turn into a great savoy recipe if I left out the sugar and added herbs and sprinkled parmesan on top. 


Waldorf Chicken Salad Wrap

I’ve been known to get behind In-N-Out burgers, the occasional Subway sandwich or some Chick-fil-a every now and then. And as a child, I definitely would beg my parents to take me to the golden arches, partially so I could play in those grubby jungle gyms, but mostly for the collectable toys. But I fear I am slowly becoming one of those people. By those I mean the ones that turn up their nose at fast food. It wasn’t until yesterday that I realized how unappetizing processed food has inadvertently become to me.

I had just climbed onto the metro and plopped down on a seat after work, exhausted, slightly sweaty and 100% ready to be home when this smell hit me. Something like old grease, melting plastic and dusty moth balls. I scanned my surroundings for the culprit only to find someone next to me had pulled out a burger. I scanned again, unwilling to realize the truth: yes, this was the source. Burger King. I found myself repulsed as he scarfed down his flattened bun and square patty in about five seconds flat while clutching the oil-stained bag. THAT IS NOT FOOD, my internal voiced screamed. Food simply does not smell like that!
At that moment, I was just so happy to be coming home to my dinner. I guess having fewer processed foods in my diet I has really changed my taste buds over the last few years. The thought of my Waldorf chicken salad wrap had my mouth watering. After a hot day, it is just so refreshing to chow down on a mix of cold, crisp grapes, crunchy celery and sweet apples. And after eating real food, you just feel so much better. No bloating, no sluggishness followed by immediate hungry. It replenishing body’s nutrients instead of giving your liver  toxic junk to process. So do yourself a favor and eat something real.


Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Wilted Spinach Casserole

Until this year, Thanksgiving and Christmas were the only occasions sweet potatoes made it into my life. I would dutifully try the orange dishes year after year, not wanting to seem ungrateful or immature. But if I’m honest, I didn’t particularly enjoy eating them. Somehow the way they straddled that line between sweet and savory made my palate cringe. I couldn’t wrap my head around eating anything covered with marshmallows alongside green beans and meat. It just felt so wrong.

It wasn’t until I had the pleasure of trying deliciously crisp, salty sweet potato fries that I realized I might need to reassess this whole aversion thing. At first, I was solely fixated on them in fry form. And why not, they are just sooo freaking amazzing. Sweet potatoes became my saving grace while I did my 40 days of no processed sugar and carbs. But I also couldn’t help thinking… there has got to be more I can do with them. So, slowly but surely they are finding new ways into my diet. This recipe happens to be one of them. I made a vegetarian version, but you can easily throw in some chicken for more protein. I would just bump up the eggs to 4 and add a bit more milk and cheese to coat everything.


Sweet & Sour Mango Chicken Salad

Now that is a meal-worthy salad. Juicy chicken, sweet mango, crunchy cabbage, creamy avocado, spicy radishes and crisp red peppers. Note the lettuce-to-everything-else ratio. I top it off with my tangy sweet and sour dressing. When I am craving something with more carbs, I just throw this into a wrap. Tada!

So often I hear people say "O, salad, I wish I could eat that for lunch, but it just doesn't fill me up." I promise you can be "one of those people" who is satisfied by a salad. You see... it's not so much the person as the salad. If you eat a bunch of iceberg lettuce covered in nonfat Italian dressing with a few baby carrots unloving tossed on top then OF COURSE it doesn’t fill you up. It's just water with some salt and sugar. I don’t think that fills ANYONE up. When I say salad, I mean something more like this.

I dare you to eat this salad and tell me you are not satisfied and full. You are getting around +25 grams of protein along with a huge amount of fiber from the veggies. Plus the carrots provide antioxidant benefits from carotenoids and big dose of vitamin A. The cabbage and red pepper are also great sources of vitamin C.