I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for over 2 months now – that’s how far behind I am on blogging. Between the toddler, the newborn, and the move halfway across the country, I’ve been busier than I could ever imagine! Luckily, things are finally starting to settle down, and we are finding a rhythm and new routine here. I’ve lost all but the last stubborn 5 pounds of baby weight, and the Hubs and I are getting serious about cleaning up our diets and getting back into shape before the holidays.
Finding healthy, easy side dishes is of my biggest challenges when trying to stick to eating clean. When you’re aiming for 100+ grams of protein per day, meals tend to get a little boring over time. There are only so many variations of lean protein, low glycemic carb, and green veggie that you can eat before you are sick and tired of clean eating. Luckily, this dish is simple, quick and seriously yummy. It totally feels like healthy comfort food.
Now that we’ve left the sweltering heat of south Texas, I’m ecstatic to announce that fall is definitely in the air. It’s getting a little bit cooler in the evenings, and earlier this week I found myself pulling on a cardigan before stepping out to run a few early morning errands. Because I love pumpkin and apple flavored anything, fall is my favorite season for baking. Unfortunately, most of my favorite fall desserts work against my plan to shed these last couple stubborn pounds of post-baby weight. In order to curb my cookie cravings and stay on track, I experimented with baking flourless oatmeal cookies (similar to the banana variety I blogged earlier this year) with canned pumpkin puree.
The recipe is so simple, and it’s so easy to customize based on your taste buds and nutritional needs. Just start with a can of pumpkin puree and 2 cups of oats (quick or old fashioned will do). Add a teaspoon or two of any spices and flavorings you like (I used pumpkin pie spice and vanilla), and one cup of your favorite mix-ins like chocolate or carob chips and walnuts. If you want to add a little extra nutrition, sprinkle in some flax seeds or wheat germ. This is such a simple one-bowl dessert, and the best part is these cookies have only 40 calories each and no added sugar! Now you won’ t have any reasons to skip dessert!
1- 15 oz. can or 1⅘ cups of pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp sea salt
2 cups old fashioned or quick oats
½ cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
Line 2 cookie sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and sea salt until well blended. Mix in the oats, chocolate chips, and walnuts until well combined.
Drop heaping tablespoons of batter onto cookie sheets. You may want to flatten the cookies slightly with a lightly oiled palm or glass since they do not spread in the oven.
Bake cookies in preheated oven for 15 minutes – they should be slightly brown on the bottoms. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and transfer to wire racks to cool for an additional 20 minutes. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Some of you have noticed my absence over the past few weeks, and I appreciate the kind words and emails concerning my whereabouts. July and August were very busy months, and I might have forgotten to renew my domain in a timely manner. While I am indeed still alive and well, things might stay a bit quiet around here as we prepare for another out of state move with our newest bundle of joy. Now that the technical issues have been resolved, here’s a look at what we’ve been up to in my absence.
Summer gives a sense of purpose to lazy afternoons, long walks to nowhere on the beach, and afternoons spent lazily in the shade. I like to think that I haven’t been as busy with work, blogging, or cooking because I have been so busy relaxing. It feels good to admit this without any guilt. I’ve wrapped up most of my client work with just a few shoots left before I take maternity leave, and I’m clearing my calendar for the next few months as we prepare for our newest member’s arrival and another out-of-state move. The Hubs has been busy manning the grill, suppers have been simple and light, and most of my days are spent snuggling and playing with my Mini. I don’t often say this out loud because I relish just knowing it deep down inside, but my life has never been so perfect.
I love grilling and barbecuing in the summer, but it can be challenging to come up with healthy side dishes to accompany some of our favorite summer meals. When the idea of a watermelon salad came to me, I browsed several recipes before deciding to come up with my own. I wanted a balance of salty and sweet with a little bit of spice. This summery, crunchy salad turned out perfectly, and it’s so light and refreshing! It’s also a gorgeous, colorful dish that’s fun to bring to potlucks and gatherings – it looks so impressive but is so easy! You can use any balsamic vinaigrette recipe you’d like, or just grab bottle at the store. The jalapenos are optional, but you could spice it up more by adding something a little hotter like a serrano pepper, or keep it mild by omitting them altogether.
I thought it was cute to serve the salad over watermelon slices, which I sprinkled with a little bit of salt before serving. I found that salting and peppering the individual servings rather than the entire salad is the best way to go. Salting the watermelon causes the juices to be released more quickly, so it’s best to leave it out until right before serving to avoid having a watery dish. The same is true for the feta, so just have your family or guests sprinkle their salads as it’s served.
In a large serving dish, whisk together the lemon juice, parsley leaves, balsamic vinaigrette, and canola oil. Add the watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and jalapeno. Toss together and refrigerate for an hour, or until chilled. Right before serving, add the shredded spinach leaves. Serve portions over additional watermelon slices if desired. Sprinkle each serving with feta cheese and salt and pepper, to taste.