This summer salad has quickly become a fan favorite! With simple, whole ingredients and a light, refreshing dressing, it’s the perfect accompaniment to your grilled or barbecued dishes. I love to grab tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh herbs from my local farmers market to really get that taste of summer!
I always have garbanzo beans on hand because they are such a versatile source of plant protein. Using avocado as the healthy fat in the dressing also keeps this salad oil-free (no unnecessary calories here!) It is vegan, gluten-free, and a delicious addition to any whole food, plant-based diet.
Hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does!
Two cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
Two medium tomatoes
Three to four green onions
One large lemon or two small, juiced
One lime, juiced
One ripe avocado
Herbs, fresh or dry, to taste – I like to use parsley and cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste
Rinse and drain garbanzo beans. Dice tomato and green onions, and peel and dice cucumber. Toss everything together.
Cut your avocado in half. Finally dice 1/2 and gently toss with your beans and vegetables.
In a measuring cup or bowl, mash the other half of the avocado. Whip it together with the lemon and lime juices and spices.
Add the dressing to your beans and vegetables until lightly coated with creaminess!
Serve as a side, over salad greens, or even on your favorite roll as a meatless entree option.
Whether it’s a summer holiday, camping trip, weekend gathering, or just some fun-in-the-sun, you can still enjoy delicious food!
Here are some of my favorite ways to stick to what I know is a little healthier, while sharing in festivities with family and friends.
Sides & Salads
There are a couple simple tricks to making your classic side dishes healthier: lighten the dressings, and increase the veggies! Lessening or eliminating that half a jar of mayo cuts SO many calories right off the bat. It also allows you to taste the full flavors of herbs and seasonings. I’m excited to share with you some of my family’s favorites.
Potato Salad & Cole Slaw: You don’t have to throw out your family recipe! Instead, change up the dressing by cutting out the mayo or miracle whip (or cutting it down to a tablespoon or two) and replacing it with some of these:
apple cider vinegar
Dijon mustard (or your favorite kind)
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
onion, garlic, and fresh herbs (parsley and chives in either, dill or rosemary on potatoes)
Pasta Salad: Choose a whole grain or bean pasta over white flour and you’ve already improved! Then:
Load up your pasta with cooked broccoli, fresh tomatoes, artichoke hearts, peppers, onion and garlic, and any other seasonal vegetables you love.
For a protein boost, add chickpeas!
Throw in your favorite fresh herbs
Lightly dress with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and salt & pepper
Chickpea Salad: This is a super light, low-carb alternative to the typical starchy sides. Fiber and protein fill you up and crisp veggies refresh you!
Dice cucumber, tomatoes, and red onion.
Drain and rinse chickpeas and toss them in with your vegetables.
Add any fresh herbs.
Lightly dress with (you guessed it!) extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and salt & pepper
Who doesn’t love a good cookout? Sometimes you just want to grab something easy from the fridge or freezer and throw it on the grill. For those occasions, I like to make a big batch of bean or veggies burgers and freeze them. Add a whole grain roll and your favorite toppings, or skip the roll and enjoy a burger on a salad or with sides. A few of my favorite recipes are below (and the first two are gluten-free).
A few years ago, if you had said the phrase “carrot dog,” I would have laughed in your face! There was no WAY you could make a carrot resemble anything CLOSE to a hotdog… Well, I was proven wrong, and now I challenge you to try it yourself! They are so easy – steam, marinade, grill! Here’s how:
Ready for some guilt-free snacking? Munching your way through a day in the sun can be delicious and nutritious for the whole family with a coupe of these go-tos:
Easy Homemade Hummus: Don’t overthink this. Dump all the ingredients in a food processor or blender cup, process until smooth, and enjoy! I love hummus with raw veggies or triangles of whole wheat pita bread.
15 oz can of drained chickpeas (reserve the liquid)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup of chickpea liquid (called aquafaba)
salt to taste
optional: garlic, tahini, other seasonings
Step Up Your Salsa by adding black beans and cooked corn. Bam.
Buffalo “Chicken” Jackfruit Dip: Be ready for a crowd-pleaser! This dip gets DEVOURED at every party it goes to.
Don’t you feel good when you know what is in your food? Simple, whole ingredients simply make me happy!
My breakfasts have LEVELED UP since I started keeping this homemade granola on hand. You can add varieties of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits to the simple base to suit your taste. It’s great for snacking, too!
Beyond just being a tasty option, there’s a lot that makes this breakfast a healthy choice:
Oats are gluten-free, heart-healthy whole grains that also work to control blood sugar. The omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts and flaxseed support heart health, brain health, and joints. Flaxseed is also an excellent source of fiber to aid digestion! Raw honey is FULL of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes that have antibacterial properties. (If you choose not to eat honey, this recipe can also be enjoyed using maple syrup.)
Ready to give it a try?! Prep time: 10 mins, Bake time: 27 mins… You can do it!
3 cups rolled oats
6 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 cup crushed walnuts or almonds
1/2 cup craisins or raisins (if you want)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp raw honey OR maple syrup
1.) Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
2.) In a small bowl or a pan, warm the coconut oil and honey or maple syrup until they can combine. Mix in applesauce.
3.) Toss the wet mixture into the dry until it is lightly coated. It should clump together a little.
4.) Spread on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for about 27 minutes, stirring every 10, until crunchy and golden.
5.) Cool and store in an airtight container for up to a week. Makes about 6 servings.
6.) Enjoy with your favorite plant-based milk & fruit! You can also pack it as a dry snack, or prepare it in small containers with yogurt for a portable breakfast.
Earth Day has always been one of my favorites to celebrate. I remember being young and spending Earth Day moments with my family. Planting seeds and excitedly waiting for them to sprout was my favorite activity! There were other years when we donned rubber gloves to pick up trash in the park or around our neighborhood, or when we decorated paper grocery store bags with drawings that encouraged people to, “Reduce, reuse, and recycle!”
As an adult, I try to make active choices in my daily life to reduce my ecological footprint (the impact I make on the environment by the demands I make on nature’s resources). Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to revisit these choices and make some extra commitments! I thought I’d share with you some of the ideas today and encourage you, as an individual or as a family, to choose your own commitment to our planet.
Eco-friendly Household Changes
Carry reusable shopping bags.
Purchase items in bulk to limit plastic packaging.
Set shower timers.
Switch to energy efficient light bulbs.
Get cozy with your recycling guidelines, and recycle everything you can!
Consider composting instead of throwing out plant matter.
Plant your own garden.
Shop as locally as possible, including from small businesses and farms.
Wait until clothing and personal items wear out or break before purchasing new ones. Consider swapping clothes with friends instead, or purchasing from thrift or consignment shops.
Switch newspapers, magazine subscriptions, and bills to digital versions.
Reduce waste by choosing reusable products over disposable, including water bottles, coffee cups, straws, plates, napkins, towels, silverware, etc.
Reduce your consumption of animal products, especially those that do not come from local farms.
Fun activities for Earth Day – or any day!
Go for a nature walk. Find a new park or trail to explore.
Start seeds in your house, plan your garden, or plant outside (weather permitting).
I’m just here to bust up some myths that often come up when it comes to “healthy” or plant-based eating! Below you will also find my favorite vegan weightlifter, my guide to plant-based grocery shopping, 30-minute recipes, and photos of my favorite go-to meals.
Mʏᴛʜ #1: 𝑪𝒂𝒓𝒃𝒔 𝒎𝒂𝒌𝒆 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒈𝒂𝒊𝒏 𝒘𝒆𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕. Hi, so, I eat a high-carb diet. That’s right: HIGH, as in, 50-70% of my daily calorie intake. You may have heard me talk about carbs before, but I will say it again: Not all carbs are created equal!! Carbs and bread are not synonyms. Carbohydrates that come from fruits and vegetables, and carbohydrates from whole grains and beans, are essential parts of your diet. They give your body energy and come packaged with a plethora of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants).
Weight gain is (almost) always an imbalance between calories you take in and calories you burn. We tend to underestimate the amount we consume, and overestimate what we burn. Refined grains, like white pasta or cookies, tend to be “empty” calories that your body either burns up like sugar, or does not burn and stores as fat. This can leave you feeling still hungry, lacking nutrients, gaining weight, feeling uncomfortable… and this is where carbs get a bad wrap! Instead, choose whole grains over refined ones, and shoot to keep that carb:fiber ratio below 10:1.
Mʏᴛʜ #2: 𝒀𝒐𝒖 𝒄𝒂𝒏’𝒕 𝒈𝒆𝒕 𝒆𝒏𝒐𝒖𝒈𝒉 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒕𝒆𝒊𝒏 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒕 meat. Our culture has a huge hype around protein. We buy the powders, look for “high protein” labels, and choose proteins as the center of a meal. In reality, protein needs depend on individual factors such as weight, activity level, and weight loss/fitness goals. It is extremely rare to be protein deficient in the United States, no matter what diet you consume! All plant foods have protein, in varying amounts and with varying amino acids, so consuming a variety of them throughout the day will give you all of the building blocks your body needs. Beans, nuts, and seeds are of course big sources of protein on a plant-based diet, but whole grains are also great sources. Vegetables such as broccoli and peas are high in protein, too. If you don’t believe that you can build muscle mass eating only or mainly plants, talk to an elephant or a gorilla…
Mʏᴛʜ #3: 𝑰𝒕’𝒔 𝒆𝒙𝒑𝒆𝒏𝒔𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒆𝒂𝒕 𝒉𝒆𝒂𝒍𝒕𝒉𝒚 𝒇𝒐𝒐𝒅. Supplements are expensive. Marketed health foods are expensive. Vegan junk food is expensive. When you compare a package of regular sausage to a package of vegan sausage, you will see the price increase. 𝐵𝑢𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑠𝑒 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑤ℎ𝑜𝑙𝑒 𝑓𝑜𝑜𝑑𝑠. You can still eat them as a fun or special item, just like you would splurge on your other favorite foods, but those products aren’t going to be the basis of your balanced diet. When you eat food in it’s whole form, it is substantially cheaper! It costs me about $6-7 to feed myself each day at home, and as my mom would say, I’m a good eater.
Mʏᴛʜ #4: 𝑯𝒆𝒂𝒍𝒕𝒉𝒚 𝒇𝒐𝒐𝒅 𝒕𝒂𝒌𝒆𝒔 𝒕𝒐𝒐 𝒍𝒐𝒏𝒈 𝒕𝒐 𝒄𝒐𝒐𝒌. It may be that some meals are second nature for you to cook, or that you can do other things while you are making your favorite recipes, so it doesn’t feel like “work.” Learning new things can take a little time, and learning new recipes is no different. When you get to it, though, the funny part is that most whole foods need minimal cooking. Letting rice steam is the longest part of any meal I cook!
In addition, I am a big advocate for meal prepping or batch cooking. Taking a little time on one day to bake oatmeal for breakfasts, make a chickpea salad for lunches, and cut up vegetables for snacks makes every other day a grab-and-go scenario. When I take the time to cook a more complex dinner, I make sure there is enough for more than one meal, either later that week or to be frozen.