Summertime means a lot of eating on-the-go for our family. It isn’t the running to and from activities like the school year, but the good stuff like picnics with my people, poolside lounging and road trips to the neighboring Michigan beaches.
Thankfully, the fresh produce and deliciously grown convenience food that we all love is in season. A container of cherries shared by the pool, bunches of grapes on our car trips, and strawberries by the fistful in the sunshine until we think we might turn into berries ourselves. It’s all such good stuff, isn’t it?
Salads are my go-to in the summer thanks to their amazing portability factor. Not only do I love fresh green salads made with romaine or spinach, but I adore a healthy topping of quinoa on top for that protein punch.
*This post is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
One of my favorite celebrations is 4th of July and today I wanted to share with you a fast & easy 4th of July fruit dessert platter you or your kids can make into a flag to celebrate the holiday. Walmart partnered up with me to share a festive 4th dish and I have to say that this delivers on the red, white, & blue.
Since I am gluten-free, I often have to bypass the dessert trays. As an adult, it is not a big a deal. As a child, the dessert table is EVERYTHING, especially when it comes to holiday feasting. I wanted to create this cute tray just for them and I found these glutino gluten-free yogurt covered pretzels are not only a fantastic way to add the white we needed for our stripes, but they also are highly addictive and delicious. You can certainly make your own white chocolate covered pretzels, if you are feeling ambitious, but these cut down on the time invested in creating our cute tray!
Flag cupcake picks can be a great way to festively pick up a berry (or ten). I found these at a local party supplies store and they are an adorable touch to a festive spread.
I think the best part about this tray is that it is not only relatively healthy, but it is also a tray that you can confidently create and know it will get eaten. After a big cookout, light desserts are a wonderful addition to the table for snacking on. Have too many desserts on your table? Save this to serve up during the fireworks. It will be gone before it even gets dark enough to see them!
Check out the instructions below on how many supplies you need to put this tray together!
*This post is sponsored by Wild Oats. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
Grilling season is in full swing and I couldn’t be happier. What could be better than dining outside, keeping your kitchen clean, and providing a great meal (with leftovers for the week) in the process? Each year I vow to try my grill in a new way and this year I wanted to try some new ways to grill vegetables. Today I am partnering up with Wild Oats and sharing an easy veggie side dish you can create with just Brussels Sprouts, a few of your favorite dried and fresh spices, and a couple of other basic pantry ingredients.
Brussels Sprouts are one of my favorite veggies in the world. In winter, I love to roast them until the taste resembles a decadent plate of french fries. For the summer months though, I love to keep my kitchen nice and cool so I wanted to figure out a different way I could make them. I decided to try them on our outdoor grill and see if the results would be just as tasty. Guess what? It didn’t disappoint.
Wild Oats offers a variety of delicious organic dried spices that you can use on your grilled veggies this summer. Have you seen these jars in your local Walmart store? It’s a great value and I love the dried spices, particularly when the garden isn’t in full swing or to mix even with the fresh herbs we have on hand. For these Brussels Sprouts you can add a little paprika for a smoky flavor, or chili powder for a little heat, or dress them up simply with a little Italian seasoning blend which pairs perfectly with the fresh garlic we have in this recipe.
Although I love the charred bits on my Brussels Sprouts, I do like to protect them with a double layer of foil to prevent them from getting really burnt. The length of time you cook them really depends on your own personal taste. I like mine to have a nice crunch still so 10-12 minutes is a good amount of time for me. If you prefer a softer veggie, 15-18 minutes should do the trick! Keep in mind, these are a great one to prep the night before for a party and tuck in your fridge for your events. How awesome is that?
A couple of years ago, quinoa wasn’t even on my radar as a food that I would want to eat. Once I went gluten-free though, it became necessary to really explore foods that I hadn’t considered before and the absence of so many of my go-to carbs made this option seem rather appealing.
In all honesty, since changing my diet to gluten-free, it has become my favorite pantry staple that I have used to create delicious, protein-packed dishes that my whole family loves. In the summer months, in particular, quinoa is perfect for your summer salads because it can be eaten hot, cold, or room temperature.
*This post is sponsored by Wild Oats. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
I am so excited to be joining in as a contributor with Wild Oats this year and to get the opportunity to share with you about this company as an affordable organic offering at Walmart stores. I will be sharing ideas each month over on their blog as well as sharing a monthly offering here showcasing a fresh dish that you can create in your own kitchen that is delicious and gluten-free! Be sure to check out my first post on their blog sharing my delicious Baked Pecan Chicken Tenders recipe that is my new favorite salad topper.
I am sure everyone has a bucket list of things they would love to learn to create in their kitchen. Hummus has been one of those things that I usually buy pre-packaged that I have always thought to myself, “I bet you could make that…and cheaper too!” Inspired by the Wild Oats Chickpeas on my store shelves, I knew that this was a sign that I should attempt this dish in my kitchen.
Making homemade hummus is so ridiculously easy that I am embarrassed it took me years to finally attempt this in my kitchen. Hummus can be made in a variety of flavors, but one of the flavors I love the most is the garlic hummus. To take this pantry staple to another level though, I roasted it in my oven with a little olive oil to create a deeper, richer flavor. Once the garlic is roasted, it is just a matter of whirling these chickpeas in your food processor along with spices, tahini, lemon juice, and a little water until you get the consistency you are after.
Where the heck is tahini in the grocery aisle? Good question (says the girl who visited many aisles where tahini was not). It is typically in the international foods aisles of stores or can be found at international markets, but can also be found in weird and random places like next to the olives in you standard grocery store. Really, ask your grocer if you aren’t sure and don’t let a little thing like I don’t know how to say tahini or I don’t know what tahini looks like stop you from making this amazing dish. The best part is how long tahini lasts in your fridge so you can buy this and enjoy hummus all summer long. And you will. Because once you try this recipe, you will realize that homemade hummus really IS the best hummus to eat and you will be stockpiling those cans of chickpeas so you can enjoy this easy appetizer anytime you get the craving for it. Amen.
Once you try homemade hummus, you will never go back. Make this easy dish with canned chickpeas from Wild Oats.
1 large head garlic
2½ Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 (15 oz) can Wild Oats chickpeas, drained
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp tahini
½ tsp salt, or to taste
¼ tsp ground cumin
2 - 3 Tbsp water
Chopped fresh parsley and red pepper flakes, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut about ¼-inch from top of garlic to expose tops of cloves for roasting.
Place garlic head on a sheet of foil and drizzle 1½ tsp olive oil evenly over top of garlic. Wrap foil up around garlic and roast 35 - 45 minutes until golden brown on a cookie sheet. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
To your food processor add chick peas, lemon juice, tahini, salt and cumin then pulse mixture 2 minutes. Scrape down sides and bottom of food processor, add remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, set aside 3 - 4 cloves of the garlic and add remaining (about 10 - 11) to food processor. Pulse 1 minute, then add water and pulse 1-2 minutes longer.
Plate hummus, make indentation in center and add 1 - 2 Tbsp more olive oil to taste (optional), then chop remaining roasted garlic cloves and sprinkle over top, sprinkle with parsley and red pepper flakes.
Serve with fresh veggies or gluten-free crackers. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ALDI.
If there is one thing I have learned over my years of surfing on Pinterest it’s that anything bacon and anything coffee is always a hit (and not just with me!).
Today I wanted to pair these two flavors together in a Maple Coffee Bacon that your whole family will love. The inspiration for this project came along with the opportunity to try the new Barissimo line of premium coffee products that are available at your local ALDI store.
Since you know I am a regular shopper, I had noticed the new line on the store shelves and was intrigued. The packaging is beautiful and the product feels very high-end, but a whole bag of ground coffee is a mere $3.99. It is, seriously, a steal!
This line features nine bagged and single serve coffee items, along with additional seasonal and Special Buy items that will be available for a limited time. Pictured below are a few of the ones that I found on my store shelves this week.
The Barissimo line, available exclusively at ALDI, includes the following (and here are the prices on these items too) for my fellow frugal shoppers:
Ready-to-drink Iced Coffees (French Vanilla, Mocha and Coffee) – $1.19
Whole Bean Coffee (Morning Roast and Donut Store) – $3.99
Fair Trade Coffee (Medium and Dark Roast) – $3.99
Donut Store Ground Coffee – $3.99
12 oz. Bag Coffee (Breakfast Blend, House Blend, and French Roast) – $3.99
Assorted Flavored Coffee (French Vanilla and Hazelnut) – $4.99
Flavored Coffee Cups (French Vanilla and Hazelnut) – $4.79
Regular Roast Coffee Cups (Breakfast and Donut) – $4.79
Specialty Roast Coffee Cups (Fair Trade Colombian and Dark Roast) – $4.79
Ever since a trip last year to NOLA, I have been thinking about the embarrassing pile of praline bacon I ate in one of the local restaurants that my brother took me too. Bacon that tastes like candy? How could that be bad?
I loved the candied sweetness of the bacon, but I love to add on to that layer of flavor with something to cut the sweet and I decided the Fair Trade Dark Roast Coffee paired with the thick sliced Maple Flavored Bacon would be a delightful combination.
If you haven’t tried the coffee itself, the dark roast is delightfully full-bodied and strong. It’s the kind of coffee that a mom who has to get her kids on the bus in the morning can really embrace.
As I had suspected, this delicious dark roast coffee was just what this sweet bacon needed to balance it out. The coarseness of the ground coffee adds an element of texture and the brown sugar glaze made from freshly brewed coffee and brown sugar is brushed on to each side of the bacon to create that delightful layering of flavors.
Since this bacon is so sweet, you don’t want to pair this one with another sweet breakfast item. I recommend an easy frittata for balance, a little fresh fruit, and a big mug of coffee (of course!).
Now run over to your local ALDI and snag a bag of this delicious coffee for yourself- at a price like that, you have nothing to lose!
Note- *Some of these items are Special Buy or Seasonal items that are only in stores for a limited time and may no longer be available.
Preheat oven to 375°. Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment or waxed paper and set a flat rack on top. Lay bacon strips on rack, overlapping slightly if needed. Sprinkle top of strips evenly with ground coffee. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and brewed coffee, stirring just to blend to a paste. Brush top of strips with half of sugar mixture. Bake 15 minutes. Turn bacon over and brush with remaining sugar glaze. Bake until crispy, 10-15 minutes more.
As I shared with you, when I attended college I lived on junk & convenience food and I had the inevitable “Freshman 15,” to prove it from my bad eating habits throughout the year. I only wish I knew how great I would have felt and how much better I would have performed if I had stocked my fridge with healthy options.
Now I know that there are healthy ideas for stocking your refrigerator – whether it’s a dorm sized mini-fridge, your first apartment fridge, or the huge family-sized fridge many of us graduate to – and I’m making sure that my kids do know that the foods that are good for your body are easy to keep on hand, too. In this healthy fridge makeover, I’m sharing easy ways to keep good-for-you foods within reach along with a recipe for a quick to make no-bake energy bite that you can mix up in a bowl for easy snacks on-the-go that both kids and adults love.
Eggs- Eggs are the perfect food for starting your day out right or for a healthy late night snack. Did you know that you can prepare an egg easily in the microwave with no special equipment at all? Simply spray or grease a bowl to prepare it and crack two eggs in it with a tablespoon of milk and whisk well with a fork. Place your bowl of eggs in the microwave and cook for one minute. Give it another little scramble with your fork and then cook for thirty second intervals, until your eggs reach the desired consistency. That’s it! Don’t forget that you can add your own fun add-ins to this versatile food like chopped up veggies, cheeses, or meats.
Berries- Berries are a great item to keep on hand to eat as a side, to grab by the handful for a quick snack, mixed in with a cup of Greek yogurt, or as a topper to a bowl of instant oatmeal in the morning. Cut berries can also be added to a water bottle and then allowed to steep overnight to create a healthy & inexpensive infused water.
Veggies- Cut veggies are the perfect item to have on hand for a quick and healthy snack. Some of my favorites for snacking are peppers (in every color), carrot sticks, celery sticks, & cauliflower. Pair these veggies with your favorite dips like a nut butter with celery or dip them in hummus for an easy snack.
Nut Butters & Nuts- Nothing is quicker or easier than keeping a package of nuts on hand for snacking. Did you know that you can even freeze nuts? Grab an extra package and store it in your freezer, up to six months, to make sure they don’t go rancid. Try a new variety like almonds, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, or cashews for a little variety. These can also be added to bowls of instant oatmeal in the morning or mixed into a salad for a crunch topping.
Nut butters are great for an accompaniment to celery or cut apples. My own favorite nighttime snack is peanut butter on a slice of whole grain toast with a glass of almond milk before I go to bed. It’s a satisfying and inexpensive snack!
Hummus- There are many different flavors and varities now of hummus and it is the perfect snack or spread to add to pitas or even smeared as a topping for your favorite sandwich. My favorite variety is the Red Pepper Hummus with sliced cucumbers or pita for an effortless snack.
Energy Bites- No-bake energy bites are a fun snack to have on hand when you are craving a treat with a little sweetness. We all adore these at my house! The best part is that they don’t require an oven or mixer, making these an easy treat to make…and to eat! Did I mention it tastes an awful like cookie dough too? Yum!
One of my children’s favorite things to order when we go out for sushi is a plate of potstickers to enjoy while we watch the sushi chef in his tall paper hat roll out or rice and seaweed and tuck pink-fleshed fish inside. They are second only to sushi itself in my children’s eyes.
While your children may not be on the same sushi train as mine, potstickers are rather universally delicious. A two-bite dumpling with a salty pork meatball tucked inside. But why wait until you head out to enjoy them when they can be made at home?
Once you get the hang of getting potstickers unstuck from the pot, there’s little stopping you from making your own all the time. We like to have a potsticker party, filling and crimping as many as possible, and then freezing them for use later as a quick and easy treat, nearly as easy as heading to our favorite restaurant.
Pulled from the freezer and cooked up on the spot, these meatball-filled dumplings make a wonderful lunch option when paired with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the pork, cabbage, carrot, onions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, egg, salt and the black pepper.
Place a small bowl of water near your work surface. Cover the potsticker wrappers with a damp cloth to prevent them drying out.
Place a rounded teaspoon of the pork filling into the center of the wrapper. Lightly wet the edge of the wrapper, and then using your thumb and finger, fold pleats into the dumpling, starting at the center and going towards the cents to form a crescent shape.
Set the filled dumplings on a baking sheet or cutting board, covered with a damp cloth. Continue until all the filling has been used.
To cook, heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a 10" non-stick skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add about 6 dumplings to the skillet. Cook for 3 minutes. Pour in ¼ cup of water, cover, and allow the potstickers to steam for 5-6 minutes, until they are cooked through. and golden brown on the bottoms. Remove the lid and allow the steam to cook off, shaking the pan lightly to encourage the potstickers to dislodge themselves from the pan bottom. Serve warm.
Summer is coming to a close. Once the kids go back it’s basically already over, but there are still warm weekends that you can make the most of before the wind turns cold and the produce stops flowing. It’s actually right now in this early September air that my farmer’s market seems to be bursting at the seams with tables overflowing and after months of waiting, there are watermelons for the taking.
There’s something about a watermelon grown locally that just sings more than any supermarket watermelon (that I’ve been enjoying liberally all summer long, mind you). We usually get our best watermelon of the season right at the end of summer, a bright flag-waving send off as we head into the colder months. It’s only right to dress it up then.
I’m the first to admit that I have a love-hate relationship with my melon baller. The waste is what gets me. There’s all this juice that seems to collect as you’re balling, and then the bits in between the balls are just byproduct – okay, so I just snack on all the little bits, and I’d do the same if I were slicing it.
Still, it’s a kitchen tool I don’t often use. I pulled it out recently to make a fruit salad for my daughter’s swim team (high school sports do so many meal functions), and everyone was excited about the end result, but none more so than my 6-year-old, who told me it was like “eating a bouncy ball made of watermelon” that was “so, so tasty.” That, folks, right there is how you win your mommy over.
This fruit salad gets a minty punch from reduced watermelon juice, and an extra special crunch from a few chia seeds sprinkled on at the end.
Cut the watermelon in half and, using a melon baller, scoop the watermelon into balls. Collect the formed balls in a bowl, and pour off the excess juice that collects in the watermelon into another bowl or pot to use for later.
Slice the strawberries, rinse the blueberries, and combine with the watermelon balls.
Julienne the mint, setting aside 1 tablespoon for garnish, and combine with 3 cups of the reserved watermelon juice and the honey in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat slightly and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has reduced by half. Once the liquid has reduced, strain the mint pieces, remove from heat and chill.
Pour the watermelon-mint syrup over the fruit. Sprinkle the chia seeds on, toss to combine, and serve cold.
I don’t know if I ever devoted an entire post to grapes in over a decade of running this site, but perhaps this showcases how underappreciated this fruit is. It is a staple around here as a side to round out our sandwiches, it’s an effortless appetizer paired with wine and cheese, and it spends its freshly rinsed self at the pool with us as a snack that can withstand the heat and temperatures. We are definitely fans of the humble grape and I am sure you are too.
Unlike some of the more difficult fruits I have featured, it is quite easy to spot a good batch of grapes. Did you know premium grape season is actually September and October? It really is the best time to buy a big bag of grapes for your family. It is advised to select grapes based on the color of them. For green grapes, they should have a slightly yellowish, translucent hue rather than a true, opaque green. Red grape varieties should be mostly red and have a rich, crimson tone.
One other way to check for a good grape is to look at the stem of the grapes. A dry and brittle stem indicates that the grapes might not be as fresh and seeing a little peek of green on the stem is a good indicator of a fresh batch. The shape of the grape should not be misshapen or wrinkled, but plump and juicy. Of course, you can always bring them back to Walmart if they aren’t perfect thanks to their 100% money back guarantee so selecting great grapes is foolproof.
I decided to incorporate these grapes into a gluten-free pasta salad to take to a cookout. This salad was hearty and filling for someone who is often unsure if she will be able to eat at social events (ahem). Not only is this just the kind of creamy pasta dish I love, but it incorporates the smoky saltiness of turkey bacon and chopped toasted pecans for a protein punch that really fills you up. The smokiness is balanced with the sweetness of the grapes making for an interesting flavor combination and perfect for showcasing the beautiful in-season grapes.
Oh, grape, you certainly are a wonderful fruit and I’m sorry we haven’t loved on you more over the years! I promise to do better!
A gluten-free pasta salad laced with pecans, bacon, and sweet grapes.
1 bag of gluten-free pasta (any variety)- 16 ounces
1 lb. fresh broccoli
½ cup light mayonnaise
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
2 packets Stevia
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt
2 cups seedless red grapes
10 cooked turkey bacon slices, crumbled
½ cup pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan for about 6 minutes until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
Prepare pasta according to package directions. Once done cooking, rinse well before assembling.
Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets from stems and separate into small pieces using a paring knife. In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, yogurt, Stevia, red wine vinegar and salt and toss with broccoli, hot cooked pasta (that has been rinsed) and grapes. Stir to coat.
Cover and chill for up to 3 hours. Stir in bacon and toasted pecans just before serving.
Note- The sauce on this can be doubled if you desire a more creamy pasta.