Rosemary Apple Chicken Salad

I love chicken salad. I’ve eaten and made multiple variations in the past but one in particular stands out in my mind. Before it closed, a local health food store called Sandy’s in Houston made a chicken salad that was to die for – it had big chunks of chicken, chopped apple, toasted pecans and Vegenaise. Sounds simple enough but it was SO delicious! Come to think of it, it was Sandy’s chicken salad that got me hooked on Vegenaise, and I’ve used it ever since!

Of course I had to try and recreate this favorite of mine! I’ve lightened up my own version by incorporating plain Greek yogurt to achieve the authentic creaminess of a hearty chicken salad. I do use a bit of Vegenaise since I love the flavor but you could either substitute mayo or use more yogurt if you prefer. For an ultra-quick lunch, I used leftover chopped rotessierie chicken but feel free to use your own cooked chicken of choice. I’ve already eaten two shares of this salad – served as lettuce wraps as well as slathered on my newly baked sandwich bread with Timtana– and both were equally delicious!

What is your favorite version of chicken salad?

Rosemary Apple Chicken Salad

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups cooked boneless, skinless chicken, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1 small apple, chopped (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup) – you could sub or add grapes if desired
1 large stalk celery, chopped
3 Tbsp raw or toasted pecans, finely chopped
1/3 cup plain yogurt (I usually use Greek)
1 to 2 Tbsp Vegenaise or mayo (depending on how creamy you want the salad)
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Add all ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine. Enjoy!

Good served as a sandwich, with crackers, over a bed of lettuce or in lettuce wraps!

Easy Rice Cooker Artichokes with Vegan Dip

Happy Father’s Day to all you wonderful dads out there, including my fabulous father! Sadly, our family is all spread out across the country today and aren’t able to spend time together but that doesn’t mean we aren’t thinking of you!

This photo is from a couple years back (is this one better, Dad?)...but I can't find many others of just the two of us besides my wedding photos! Dad, next time we are together, a photo shoot is in order... ha! : ) Love you!

I wanted to share a simple dish for you today as we are  in a bit of a time crunch to meet some friends this afternoon for a hike 🙂 Sometimes simple is the best, so here I have a quick and fool-proof method for steamed artichokes…in the rice cooker! After prepping the artichoke, you basically set the button and let it cook. Can it get any easier than that? Plus the dipping sauce is three ingredients and can be made in 15 seconds. I have to give props to my MIL’s boyfriend, Patrick, for passing along this cooking method a while back. This is the best steamed artichoke I’ve ever had, and it allows the leaves to get so tender that you get more “meat” off the leaves.

These are great for a snack, appetizer or as part of a meal, if you are a fan of artichokes then you have to try this!

Easy Rice Cooker Steamed Artichokes with Vegan Dipping Sauce 

Ingredients

1 or 2 large artichokes (depending on how many you can fit in your cooker)

For Sauce

A few tablespoons Vegenaise (or mayo, if preferred)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper

Directions

1. To prep the artichoke, take scissors and cut off the thorned tips of all of the leaves (if they have the thorns). Optional, since this is mostly for aesthetics as the thorns soften with cooking and pose no threat to the person eating the artichoke.
2. Slice about 3/4 inch to one inch off the tip of the artichoke and pull off any smaller leaves towards the base and on the stem.
3. Cut off the steam on the bottom so the artichoke can sit right-side up. If you like to eat the stem, peel the fibrous outside and cook alongside the artichoke if desired.
4. From the top with a large knife, cut a hatch-mark from the top all the way to bottom reaching the heart in an X formation. This will help the inside cook as well as the outside leaves.
Below is the artichoke after prepping.


4. Place the artichoke(s) in the bottom of the rice cooker and pour water over the top so it gets down in the leaves. The bottom of the rice cooker should have about an inch of water.
5. Close the top and turn the setting to “brown rice cooking mode” and press start. If you do not have brown rice cooking mode, enter the regular rice cooking mode and it should turn out as well. The artichokes should cook 30 to about 45 minutes. To check doneness, very carefully pull a leaf away from the body of the artichoke (be careful of the steam!). If it pulls away easily, it’s typically done, or you can taste test by seeing how easily the meat pulls off the leaf to your preference.
6. For the dipping sauce, add all Vegenaise, lemon and pepper into a small bowl and mix. Dip leaves and heart* into sauce and enjoy!

*When all leaves are removed, you can eat the best part – the artichoke heart! With a spoon, scrape out and discard the “choke” (the inedible fuzzy part part) covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into sauce to eat. SO good!

Sweet Potato Salad

The weather is warming up and it’s about to be grilling season! With Memorial Day weekend fast approaching, I thought I would share a potato salad recipe with a Southern-ish twist. I’ve adapted the recipe from Gina Neely’s version seen on Down Home with the Neelys on Food Network. Instead of traditional potato salad, try this dish at your next potluck or picnic for a side that pairs nicely with grilled entrees, burgers or sandwiches.

Sweet potatoes are a nutritional powerhouse and are praised as themost nutritious vegetable“, according to nutritionists at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). They’re loaded with carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, so you can fill good about eating your taters!


Sweet Potato Salad
(adapted from Gina’s Sweet Potato Salad)

Ingredients 

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1/2 onion, finely chopped (I used red onion)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Vegenaiase (mayo or LF mayo would work here too)
3-4 Tbsp of plain greek yogurt (or omit for vegan preparation and increase Vegenaise)
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tsp smoked paprika, or to taste (I love the taste of smoked paprika)
1/2 to 1 tsp ground cumin
a dash of cayenne pepper or to taste, optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1. Add the sweet potatoes to a large pot of cold salted water*. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook the potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and let cool in a colander.
2. Once the potatoes are cool, transfer to a large serving bowl and add the onion, red pepper, and green onions.
3. In a separate bowl, add the Vegenaise, yogurt, lime juice, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic and salt and pepper, to taste. Whisk or stir to combine, pour over the potatoes and veggies and thoroughly mix. Serve immediately or refrigerate for 1 hour for the flavors to meld.

*If you add potatoes to a pot of boiling water, they will cook from the outside in, and you will usually wind up with a potato still raw in the middle.

Recipes Notes: If you prefer a slightly sweeter version, add a 1/2 teaspoon or so of agave, honey or sugar to taste.

Tuna Salad with a Crunch

I’ve been craving the tuna salad from a a little cafe and bakery up in Silverthorne, CO called Blue Moon Bakery. They don’t have gluten-free bread (some GF goodies though), but their tuna salad wrapped in crispy romaine lettuce with a big slice of tomato makes me forget the bread entirely. Their tuna salad includes toasted sunflower seeds and crunchy celery that makes a satisfying protein-filled lunch that keeps you full for hours.

It’s not exactly a quick lunch to drive all the way up the mountain so I decided to make my own version for a fast fix. I don’t know about you, but I love tuna salad with a little texture, not the mushy stuff you can get pre-made. My twist includes one of my recent favorite raw veggies, jicama (stay with me…) along with the more traditional celery and carrots. Serve a couple scoops over a bed of greens or spread some on your favorite sandwich bread or crackers. In fact, these would be good served with my Grain-Free Seed Crackers!

Protein-packed lunch or snack with a crunch!

Tuna Salad with a Crunch

Ingredients:

1 6 oz. can of tuna, in water (I prefer Polar’s chunk light)
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1 or 2 green onions, chopped
1 small slice of jicama, chopped
1 1/2 tsp of raw or roasted sunflower seeds (pepitas would also be good)
2-3 Tbsp Vegenaise to taste (or mayo, if preferred)*
Pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Mix all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and enjoy!

Makes one large serving or 2 small servings.

*I love the taste of Vegenaise but mayo or a low fat mayo would work equally as well. I don’t like extra creamy tuna salad but include enough to hold everything together nicely, adjust to taste.

Recipe Notes: If you prefer smaller chunks, finely chop the celery, carrot, jicama and green onion.