Celebrate the Holidays with Whole Foods Market’s Better For You Options!

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Let’s face it.  The holiday’s are a busy time of year and as much as we love to entertain our family and friends sometimes you need some help.  I am all about healthier and flavorful when it comes to my meals.  Don’t get me wrong, we all need to indulge sometimes but serving up the most tasty yet healthy side dishes keeps everyone pleased.  Serving fish and meats is always a must but the vegetarian and vegan side dish options can always satisfy any type of diet.

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I know I can always rely on my local Whole Foods when it comes to my healthy holiday side dish options.

https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/shop/JER

Always veggie packed and filled with so many delicious flavors. All the choices are tasty and made with all natural clean ingredients like this Chili Lime Cauliflower and its gluten free and vegan!

Cauliflower helps reduce the risk of cancer, improves digestion and detoxification and helps to fight inflammation.  It provides high levels of vitamin C and vitamin K.  Cauliflower is also very versatile and can be used to make cauliflower crust and cauliflower rice for a healthy low carb. option.

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And as for these Feta Oregano Sweet Potatoes I have no other words but finger licking delicious!! That’s right I said FETA OREGANO SWEET POTATOES! Yummy Yum Yum!

Sweet potatoes contain Beta Carotene and are an excellent source of vitamin A. They are also a very good source of vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6.  Additionally, they are a good source of potassium, dietary fiber, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and phosphorus.  Another gluten free option.

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THEN there is the Lentil Mushroom Stuffing.  Another amazing tasty and delicious vegan option.  What are the holiday’s without a good stuffing?  A nice change from the traditional all bread stuffing’s. Lentils + Mushrooms + Stuffing….UMM YESS PLEASE!  Plus lentils include beneficial nutrients like fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins and are low in calories and contain barely any fat.  

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One of my favorites is the Sauerkraut Roasted Rainbow Carrots.  The carrots are roasted to perfection and the sauerkraut gives them a delicious tangy bite.  Carrots are loaded with vitamin A and contain high sources of antioxidants such a Beta Carotene.  They help protect against cancers and heart disease.

Sauerkraut is an anti-inflammatory food packed with benefits. It’s loaded with probiotics and a good source of antioxidants and dietary fiber. This colorful side dish option is a win win for all of your guests!

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NOW don’t even get me started on the Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts!  Anyone can throw some brussels on a sheet pan, drizzle with a little EVOO and roast away but THESE brussels are taken to a whole another level.  Perfectly charred with a sweet and spicy glaze and the addition of crunchy pumpkin seeds for the finishing touch.

Brussels Sprouts are probably one of the most nutritious veggies you can eat.  These cruciferous veggies are an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. They are also a very good source of nutrients including folate, manganese, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, choline, copper, vitamin B1, potassium, phosphorus and omega-3 fatty acids.

For more healthy tasty options check out the full Whole Foods Holiday Catering Menu here:

https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/shop/JER

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Nutritional Information Sources:

https://draxe.com/cauliflower/

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=64

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=10

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5488/7-Health-Benefits-of-Lentils.html

https://www.livestrong.com/article/374784-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-sauerkraut/

 

Induction Cooking & Heston Cue

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Im always trying to find new innovative cooking equipment and products to help make my life easier in the kitchen and the Hestan Cue Smart Cooking System sure meets my expectations. https://www.hestancue.com/

          Regardless if you are good in the kitchen or not it can be just fun as well as helpful.  The Heston Cue is an induction burner and pan equipped with Bluetooth technology and is controlled directly off an app right from my smartphone or tablet. I was able to make this restaurant quality Zaatar roasted carrots and kale salad with toasted cashews and cumin spiced yogurt easy and quickly with the step by step instructions.

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My husband Jordan is a restaurant equipment salesman and knows a lot about this stuff and even he is impressed. I will be using the Cue often for sure and I look forward to trying out the many delicious recipes the app has to offer.

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I’ve tried a few recipes so far and I haven’t been disappointed yet.

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Induction cooking coils emit magnetic energy creating a current in the food pan base. The electrical resistance in the metal them heats up the pan. The induction service does not emit heat so it’s a cleaner more efficient way of cooking and it’s 35% more efficient than gas and 45% more efficient than electric stoves.

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I’ve cooked many types of fish with the Hestan Cue like salmon and shrimp to name a few but these Spanish style shrimp was my favorite so far.

For more info on the Heston Cue check it out here with the links below or can be found at Williams Sonoma or Amazon.

https://www.hestancue.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Hestan-Cue-Smart-Cooking-System/dp/B0737B68XD/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511230667&sr=8-1&keywords=hestan+cue

https://www.williams-sonoma.com/

 

Eat The Rainbow

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A well balanced diet and exercise are the keys to being healthy and physically fit.  I always try to include a lean protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates and lots of fruits and veggies in each of my meals if possible.  If I eat to many carbs. in one meal such as a big pasta dinner I eliminate the carbs in the next.

It’s easy to fit in some extra protein and nutrients to a basic meal. Toss your tomatoes with hemp seeds or sprinkle some on avocado toast, add chia seeds to your yogurt to give it a little crunch or throw some pumpkin seeds in your salad.

Healthy fats are important in giving your cells structure, are a major fuel source for your body and help provide the main way you store energy.  You need fat to help you absorb certain nutrients, such as fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) and antioxidants.  Omega-3 fats, a type of unsaturated fat, are important for optimum nerve, brain and heart function.  Some examples of healthy fats are nuts, avocados, olives, olive oil, coconut.

Some lean proteins include eggs, beans, lean meats like chicken breast, top round beef and turkey, fish such salmon which contain Omega-3 and cod.

Fruits and veggies have endless benefits. I always include a variety of different colorful veggies in my meals.  The different colors of the rainbow contain different nutrients and health benefits.

Red fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and beets contain a natural plant pigment called lycopene.  Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce the risk of cancer and keep our heart healthy.

Purple / Blue fruits and veggies contain the plant pigment anthocyanin which has antioxidant properties that protect cells from damage and can help reduce the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease.

Orange / Yellow fruits and veggies contain carotenoids. One type of carotenoid is Betacarotene which is found in sweet potatoes, pumpkins and carrots. It is converted to vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy mucous membranes and healthy eyes. Another carotenoid called lutein is stored in the eye and has been found to prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness.

Green vegetables like brussels sprouts contain a range of phytochemicals including carotenoids, indoles and saponins, all of which have anti-cancer properties. Leafy greens such as spinach and broccoli are also excellent sources of folate.

White fruits and vegetables such as potatoes, cauliflower, garlic and bananas contain a range of health-promoting phytochemicals. Allicin found in garlic is known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties. Bananas and potatoes are a good source of potassium.

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The Dr. Praeger’s Southwestern Hash Browns on my plate are a great source of this and they taste super yummy.  Dr. Praeger’s also have a variety of other delicious products that are veggie loaded and made with all good ingredients.  My kids love them as much as I do so it makes it easy to include veggies and essential nutrients in their diets.  You can find Dr. Praeger’s  products here:  https://drpraegers.com/where-to-buy/
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Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash Sauce & Soft Boiled Egg.

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Why does everything taste better with an egg on top?  Especially when it’s a runny soft boiled egg.  This pasta with roasted butternut squash sauce is made with a few simple ingredients garlic and caramelized onions to give it a sweet and smokey flavor and the richness of the egg adds that extra saucy and nourishing goodness.  Handsome Brook Farm Organic Pasture Raised Eggs were perfect for this meal because I know they are American Humane Certified and USDA Certified Organic.  They always taste the best.

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Ingredients

2 cups uncooked penne pasta (sub gluten free if preferred)

4 cups butternut squash cubed

1 Tablespoon chopped garlic

1/2 cup chopped yellow onion

1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or broth

1 1/2 cups kale finely chopped

2 Handsome Brook Farm Soft Boiled Eggs

http://www.handsomebrookfarm.com/find-us/

(bring water to a boil, add the eggs, boil for 6 minutes, immediately remove to ice cold water)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

Garnish

Grated Parmesan Cheese

Pumpkin Seeds shelled and salted

Preheat oven to 425 F.  On the stove top bring a medium pot of water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until desired texture, drain and set aside.  While the pasta cooks spread the butternut squash onto a baking sheet.  Toss with extra virgin olive oil and bake for 30 minutes until squash is tender.  In the meantime heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium pan until hot.  Add the onion and saute for several minutes until it starts to caramelize.  Add the garlic and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes until garlic is tender.  Transfer onions and garlic into the same pot used to cook the pasta but do not wipe out the pan.  Add the vegetable broth and heat to a simmer. Add the roasted squash and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool.  Once cooled use an immersion blender or transfer to a blender to puree.  I find that an immersion blender works better so it doesn’t over blend.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and set sauce aside.  In the same pan used for the onions and garlic heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the kale.  Saute until the kale is wilted. Add the pasta back into the pot, stir in the sauce and the kale.  Serve in bowls and top with Parmesan cheese, pumpkin seeds and the soft boiled egg. Slice the egg so the yolk runs into the pasta. Serves 2.

Poached Salmon with Lemongrass Coconut Curry

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The addition of herbs and spices to a simple dish makes a huge difference in flavor.  I tend to buy too many fresh herbs at one time and they end up going bad.  Chopping and mincing can be tedious when you are in a hurry and dried spices and herbs don’t always give the full fresh flavor that you are looking for.  I am a huge fan of Gourmet Garden organic pastes and lightly dried spices because they are always fresh and add all those delicious flavors I love to my meals.

This quick and easy Poached Salmon with Lemongrass Coconut Curry is the most comforting meal filled with fresh delicious Thai inspired flavors and only takes about 20 minutes to make.

Salmon Curry

Ingredients

1 lb. fresh Atlantic Salmon with bones and skin removed

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

¼ cup yellow onion chopped

1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden Ginger Paste

1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden Lemongrass Paste

½ small red bell pepper sliced thin

1 15 oz. can full fat coconut milk

1 tsp. chili flakes

2 cups fresh baby spinach unpacked

Fresh lime wedges

Handful fresh cilantro roughly chopped

1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden Chives

2 cups cooked white rice

Salt and pepper to taste

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On the stove top in a large pan heat olive oil on medium high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add onion, garlic, bell pepper and Gourmet Garden ginger paste and cook for about 1 ½ minutes until fragrant and veggies start to soften.

Stir in the Gourmet Garden lemongrass paste then add the coconut milk.  Heat until simmering stirring occasionally then add the salmon and chili flakes.

Gently stir until the salmon is fully cooked throughout about 3-4 minutes then mix in the spinach. Simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes until the spinach is wilted.  Season with salt and pepper.

Remove from heat and set aside.  Fill bowls or plates with cooked white rice.  Top with salmon mixture and garnish with fresh cilantro, lime wedges and Gourmet Garden chives.  Serves 3-4.


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Lemon Chicken & Potatoes – One Pan Meal

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Ingredients

6 chicken thighs

3 large russet potatoes cut into 1 ½ inch pieces

Extra virgin olive oil

4-5 large cloves of garlic peeled and sliced lengthwise in half

3 lemons

4- tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F.  Season both side of the chicken with salt and pepper.  On the stove top in a large pan on medium high heat, heat 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil until hot but not smoking.  Once the oil is hot place the chicken skin side down into the pan.  Brown the chicken 4-5 minutes on each side and transfer to a plate leaving the excess juices in the pan.  Add another 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan and add the potatoes, garlic, ¼ cup of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.  Cook the potatoes tossing often until they start to tender (about 5 minutes).  Transfer the chicken and potato mixture with all the juices onto a baking pan and spread out evenly.  Squeeze on the juice of another lemon and season with more salt and pepper.  Thinly slice a lemon and tuck the pieces into the mixture throughout.  Bake for about 30 minutes until the skin of the chicken is crispy and the potatoes are fully cooked and golden. Remove from oven and top with fresh cilantro.

Easy alternate method:

This method also works well however the chicken may not come out as crispy on the outsides and the potatoes are more tender inside and out.

In a large dish add ¼ cup olive oil, juice of 2 lemons, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1 ½ tsps. salt and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper. Place the chicken into the marinade and toss to evenly coat.  Cover and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Once marinated transfer chicken and marinade to a baking pan along with potatoes.  Toss the potatoes with the marinade to coat.  Add additional lemon juice and garlic if desired and season with salt and pepper.  Bake on 425 F. for 35-40 minutes until the chicken and the potatoes are fully cooked.

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Avocado Tartar Sauce

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I have three picky children ages 3, 7 and 13 so on those busy weeknights with the homework and after school activities I don’t always have time to make elaborate gourmet dinners.  Sometimes simple is the way to go.  Dr. Praeger’s  Lightly Breaded Fish Sticks and Potato Puffs make it easy.  They are veggie packed made with real wholesome ingredients and the kids love them.  But for myself I always want to kick it up a few notches so this Avocado Tartar sauce is the perfect compliment.

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Avocado Tartar Sauce

Ingredients

½ ripe avocado peeled and pitted

1 tablespoon avocado oil mayonnaise (or mayo of choice)

1 tablespoon chopped sweet pickle

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tsp. Dijon mustard (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Scoop the avocado into a small bowl and roughly mash with a fork leaving some chunks.  Mix in the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper.  Serve with Dr. Praeger’s  Lightly Breaded Fish Sticks and Potato Puffs.

Spaghetti Squash Egg Bake

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I love autumn and all the delicious types of squash available.  I also like eggs so why not put the two together?  These Spaghetti Squash Egg Bakes are a meal in one and filled with all my favorite things.  I always try and use the freshest organic ingredients because not only are they non-gmo and free of pesticides but they taste much better.  Especially organic pasture raised eggs.  Read my post from September 14th of why organic pasture raised eggs are the best and why Handsome Brook Farm   Organic Pasture raised eggs are my preferred choice.

https://zestmylemon.wordpress.com/2017/09/14/potato-peppers-scrambled-egg-bowls/

Ingredients

1 Spaghetti Squash

Extra Virgin olive oil

2 Handsome Brook Farm  Organic Pasture raised eggs

1 ripe avocado

10 cherry tomatoes

¼ cup feta cheese crumbles

Kalamata olives pitted and sliced in half lengthwise (5-10)

Small handful cilantro roughly chopped

Sriracha sauce

Preheat oven to 425 F and line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.  Place spaghetti squash on a clean dish towel on top of a hard surface.  With a sharp pointy knife carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise by piercing through the center with the tip of the knife and cut down evenly toward the end of each side. This takes some elbow grease so be VERY CAREFUL that you always cut away from your body.  Once there is an even cut down the center and through each end you can easily break the squash in half on the other side.

Take a metal spoon and scrape the seeds and stringy pieces out of the center of each side of the squash and discard.  Brush the inside of the squash with olive oil and season with salt.  Place each half center side down onto the parchment lined sheet pan and bake for 50 minutes until the edges are lightly browned.

When the squash is almost done cooking, slice the avocado in half, remove the pit and peel.  Dice into ½ inch pieces.  Slice the tomatoes in half.

Once the spaghetti squash is cooked remove from the oven and let it cool for about 15 minutes.  As soon as they are cool take a metal fork and gently pull apart the spaghetti squash noodles inside each half keeping the noodles inside using the squash as its own bowl.

Make a small 2 inch round cavity no bigger than 1 inch deep in each half and crack an egg in the middle.

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Place back into the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the egg whites are set and the yolk is slightly runny.  Remove from oven and top with avocado, tomato, olives, feta and cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper and drizzle on some Sriracha.  Serves 2.

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Shakshuka With Feta & Olives

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One of my favorite egg dishes is Shakshuka.  It’s warm and comforting and filled with flavor.  I love to add feta cheese, kalamata olives and lots of fresh cilantro to mine to give it a Mediterranean twist and scoop up with a good crusty bread or sourdough.  Mina Shakshuka https://www.casablancafoods.com/collections/shakshuka  makes it easy to prepare and than I can customize it to my liking.

Ingredients:

(1) 26 oz. jar of Mina Shakshuka

http://bit.ly/2hUOMzx

6 organic pasture raised eggs

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

10-15 pitted kalamata olives sliced in half

Handful of fresh cilantro chopped

Pour Mina Shakshuka sauce into a large pan on stove top. Bring to a simmer over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes.  Once simmering crack eggs over the top so the yolks are at least 1 to 2 inches apart, cover and and continue cooking for about 5 minutes or until the egg whites are cooked and the yolks are partially runny.  Remove from heat and sprinkle crumbled feta and cilantro over the top.  Serve with crusty bread and enjoy.  Serves 3-4

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Mustard Shrimp & Sweet Potato Bowl with Broccoli

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Autumn is officially here. This cozy mustard roasted shrimp and sweet potato bowl is earthy, nutty and wholesome. Perfect for one of those chilly fall evenings along with some bread dipped in some good herbed olive oil with glass of white wine.  Light and flavorful for a nice candlelight dinner with a close friend or loved one.

Ingredients:

1 pound of shrimp peeled and deveined

1 Medium sweet potato cubed

1 cup broccoli florets

2 tablespoons avocado oil

2-3 tablespoons whole grain mustard

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. chopped garlic

2 tablespoons pine nuts

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.  Peel and cut sweet potato into one inch pieces.  Spread onto baking sheet, toss with 1 tablespoon avocado oil and season with salt, pepper.  Bake for 10 minutes.

While the sweet potato cooks, place the shrimp in a medium bowl, toss with chopped garlic and season with salt and pepper.  After the sweet potato cooks for 10 minutes add the shrimp and broccoli to the baking sheet along with the sweet potato and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes until shrimp are pink and fully cooked and broccoli is slightly toasty.

While the shrimp and veggies cook toast the pine nuts.  On medium high heat, heat a small pan then the add pine nuts.  Tossing often cook until toasty and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small bowl mix together the whole grain mustard, 1 tablespoon avocado oil and 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar. Combine well. Toss onto the shrimp and veggie mixture and transfer to bowls.  Top with toasted pine nuts.  Serves 3-4

 

 

Greek Salad Bowl with Greek Vinaigrette

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I always love a good Greek salad. Fresh cucumbers, juicy tomatoes with olives and chunks of feta. But that tangy lemony dressing is what brings those good Mediterranean flavors together. I always make my own Greek vinaigrette because I can customize the flavors to my liking and I know what clean natural ingredients are going into it. Many store-bought dressings are filled with preservatives and not so good ingredients. I like mine to be extra lemony.

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To me everything tastes better in a bowl filled with healthy nourishing and colorful ingredients.  When I put together a bowl I like to stick to a theme, so for the  Dr. Praeger’s  #BowlBoss campaign a Greek Salad bowl was a must. Adding  Dr. Praeger’s Broccoli Cakes took it to a whole new level. And why not make it fun by spiralizing the cucumber?  Here’s how you do it.

 

Greek Salad Nourish Bowls – Serves 2

Ingredients:

4 mini cucumbers

10-15 cherry tomatoes

Romaine lettuce chopped 2-3 cups

Kalamata olives pitted (about 20)

Crumbled full fat feta cheese

Red onion thinly sliced

4 Dr. Praeger’s Broccoli or Spinach Cakes

https://drpraegers.com/our-food/broccoli-cakes/

Greek Vinaigrette – recipe below

Additions:  Roasted red peppers, marinated artichokes, stuffed grape leaves, capers

Arrange an equal amount of romaine into two shallow bowls. Chop, slice or spiralize cucumber and slice cherry tomatoes in half. Arrange into bowls equally along with Kalamata olives and red onion and Dr. Praeger’s  Broccoli Cakes.  Add the remaining additions of choice and top with crumbled feta.  Spoon Greek vinaigrette on top and toss.

 

Greek Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp. ground oregano

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

Add all ingredients into a small mason jar, close tightly and shake well to fully blend.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Save the remaining dressing in the fridge for up to a week.

Spinach Cauliflower Parmesan Waffles

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Why do waffles always have to be sweet?  My savory loving taste buds have been a fan of savory waffles for a long time.  Don’t get me wrong.. I love a good waffle with maple syrup and butter or topped with fruit and berries but the possibilities of good savory waffles are endless.  I like to mix as many veggies as possible into mine.  Zucchini, spinach, broccoli, kale.. so many veggie possibilities.  Then add different types of fresh herbs and spices, cheeses and even meats like bacon or pancceta.

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I love how a good savory waffle tastes with eggs and smoked salmon, creamy avocado and fresh tomatoes.  Or even mix it up and make it sweet and savory with some fresh fruit and berries.

And the best part about it is my kids love them so I can get all those good veggies into their diets in a way they can enjoy.

 

Ingredients

1 cup gluten free flour blend

1 cup cooked spinach

1 1/2 cup frozen riced cauliflower

2 eggs

½ cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp. olive oil

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

½ tsp. garlic powder

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

Olive oil spray

Turn on your waffle iron to medium high heat.  In a medium bowl combine gluten free flour blend, garlic powder, salt, black pepper and Parmesan cheese.  Mix in the eggs, almond milk and olive oil until smooth and the batter has a slightly thick texture.  Fold in the spinach and cauliflower.  Spray waffle iron with olive oil spray.  Pour waffle mixture into a waffle maker and cook each waffle for about 6-7 minutes or until golden. Repeat the olive oil spray before each waffle.  Makes about 4 waffles.