Summer Salad Series: A Simple, Satisfying Side Salad

The Summer Salad Series didn’t turn out to be the best-series-ever, I admit it. But today I had a very random salad that I threw together with what I happened to have in the house, and it turned out great! Sometimes the best things come from throwing together whatever ya got!

Being the eve of Labor Day Weekend, I figured this would be a perfect time to post one last salad of summer, and also offer a great option for a side salad for this weekend’s festivities!

eat something new

What you’ll need:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Mild Banana Peppers
  • Cucumbers – skin left on for extra crunch!
  • Reduced Fat (or Fat Free) Feta Crumbles
  • Italian dressing (I used Olive Garden’s I had left over from a salad I got to-go)

What you’ll do:

I think it is pretty self explanatory, but just for good measure: Wash and cut lettuce. Top with desired amount of the rest of the incredients, toss with dressing of your choice and enjoy! As always, this recipe is super easy to adapt to your tastes, preferences and allergies. I do recommend a lighter dressing because of the bold flavors from the feta and the banana pepeprs – you don’t want to cover them up! Light italian, light balsamic, or a little oil and vinegar would probably be best.

The verdict: It is so simple, but completely satisfying! I thought I would be left wanting more, so I packed a few light post-salad snacks, but I honestly don’t even need them! The little bit of fat from the cheese, the zing and heat from the banana peppers, the filling lettuce and super crunch from the cucumbers is a great combination. This is sure to make an appearance at least once a week!

Want to make it a meal? Throw in some grilled chicken, chick peas or tofu and you are good to go!

I also think that this salad would make a phenomenal side to go with burgers, chicken, barbeque or anyhting else, really.

How do you feel about banana peppers?
They are my latest obsession and I can’t get enough of them!

Do you have a salad you make for parties? Please share!

What’s your favorite must have ingredient for salad?

Have a Happy Labor Day!

Jazz! Apples

jazz applesThe power is still out due to Hurricane Irene and therefore this week’s grocery trip was short and sweet.. literally. I was only in the store for about 25 minutes (I check lots of labels and compare prices so this is short for me!) and I bought apples and new snack bars for work. I needed items that don’t need to be refrigerated, but I also didn’t want to completely sacrifice nutrition, either.

I have been in the market for new snack bars that are low in fat, calories AND sugar – a combination, come to find out, that is hard to come by. More on my thoughts on sugar and snack bars in a later post. This post is about Jazz Apples!

As I walked through the produce section, admiring all of the need-to-be-refrigerated fruits and veggies, I thought to myself: Apples and Pears! Both are great snacks for me at work and don’t have to be refrigerated. AND I could keep them in the office. Looking around for my normal favorite, Fuji or gala apples, I was surprised that I didn’t see any. I settled on some other variety, but then out of the corner of my eye I saw a sign that said Jazz! Confused at first and then intrigued, I put my apples back and made my way over to the Jazz! apples. They looked like both fuji and gala in that they were yellow and red in color. They were larger, though, and had a more of a “tall and skinny” look than the normal “short and fat” apple shape. Only 10 cents more per pound, I figured what the heck? Eat something new, right?

I snacked on one at work yesterday (and today) and they are delicious! Crisp, dense, NOT gritty at all – my number one attribute I look for in a good apple (the only macintosh I like is my computer) – and just the right amount of sweetness. Jazz apples have a distinct taste that is hard to explain, but nothing crazy or strange, just delicious!

This is what Wikipedia had to say about Jazz apples:

“Jazz is a relatively new apple variety from New Zealand. It is the result of a cross between Royal Gala and Braeburn made by Plant & Food Research in 1985.[1] It is also known as Scifresh. It was launched in April 2004.

The apple is sweet, crunchy and juicy. It has a firm, dense flesh and a complex flavor with the acid of Braeburn and the sweetness of Royal Gala giving it broad appeal.

The speculation about why the apple variety is named Jazz, is most likely the exciting color combinations that can be compared to the music style jazz which is often an advanced harmony with discoloration of a piecework.

Jazz apples are being grown under license in New Zealand, UK, Washington state in the US, Australia, France, Chile, Italy, Switzerland and Austria.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz_(apple))

After doing a simple Google search I noticed that Jazz apples even have their own website: jazzapple.com.

Here are a few images they featured that I thought were worth sharing:

They also boast many health benefits including:

  • Lots of fiber
  • Cancer fighting abilities
  • Help facilitate easier breathing

Anyone ever hear of the 3-A-Day Apple Diet? Jazz Apples link to the 3-Apple-A-Day Plan, claiming that on average, those who participate lose 20 lbs. in 12 weeks. Let me know if you’ve ever hear of or tried this. Very interesting!

Do you have a go-to apple variety?

What do you look for in a good apple?

What’s your favorite way to eat an apple? (plain, peanut butter, pie?)

Any out-of-the-ordinary fruits you think I should try?

Perfect Foods Bar

 

 

Perfect Foods Bars are high-protein, organic and gluten-free large snack or meal bars, depending on your food schedule. I had seen them on lots of blogs, but never in stores and was super curious. They were nice enough to send me a sample pack of their flavors, so here it goes!

Almond:
This is the first perfect foods bar I tried and I wasn’t a fan, to be honest. You can read my review here, but to summarize: It wasn’t terrible, I didn’t need to spit it out or anything like that, but I didn’t finish it.

In an attempt to find other opinions, I brought some bars to the office and had a female colleague of mine give this one a try.

Here is what she said:
“I liked how I could taste the honey – it was a prominent flavor. The almond flavor was also good. Overall I liked it!”

Cranberry Crunch:
This one was much better! This is the “Lite” version, with 199 calories as opposed to 304. The peanut butter taste isn’t overly intense, but it is prevalent. The cranberries and the “crunch” which taste like tiny pieces of rice cake, were great. Looking at the label, one of the ingredients is brown puffed rice, so there you go – that’s why I taste the rice cake! (But better – if you’re thinking rice cakes are bland- these are not!) I think I would really like this if the other ingredients had smaller proportions in order to make room for more cranberries.

Peanut Butter:
I alerted Katie at Perfect Foods Bar that I am not a big fan of things that are primarily peanut butter flavored, but she sent them along anyway so that I could have some peanut butter lovers in my life give them a whirl. So, I brought them to the office and this is the response I got.

“They’re OK. They really taste like peanut butter, like organic peanut butter. But I’m really not picky.” By the looks of it, he needed some milk; he was struggling to speak between bites. And judging by the fact that he finished it in less than 3 minutes, I would say he liked it.

If they sound like something you would like I would definitely recommend giving them a try. They are really, really nice people and this is a good product.

____________________________________________________

Full disclosure: I had seen Perfect Foods Bars on other blogs and could not find them in stores anywhere. When I e-mailed them, they offered to send me some if I would give them a review. This is my 100% honest review of their bars.

My Take On A Chicken Gyro

Cedar’s Mediterranean Foods generously sent me vouchers to pick up a few of their products to review for this blog. I tried their wraps at my boyfriend’s parent’s house a few months ago, so I was already a huge Cedar’s fan.

This weekend I picked up a few of their products that I’ll be talking about a little here and there in upcoming posts. Today I’m going to talk about their Cucumber Garlic Tzatziki and their Fresh Taboule salad.

Unable to get my hands on Cedars’ wraps, I have some Mission whole wheat small tortillas in the frdige, along with some chicken. I wasn’t sure what to make for dinner, but then remembered I have a huge onion in the fridge, too.

 

I decided to start heating my grill pan with some oil and getting my onion going. Then I sliced up the chicken and got to thinking about what else to add. The tsatziki would be great spread on the tortilla topped with the chicken and onions. I sliced up a clove of garlic and added it to the onions, added salt and pepper, and then once the onions were looking pretty cooked I added the chicken, turned down the heat and let it cook.

 

In case you aren’t familiar with the wonderful tasty goodness that is Tsatziki sauce, here is what Wikipedia has to say about it..

 

Tzatziki, tzadziki, or tsatsiki (Greek: τζατζίκι [dzaˈdzici] or [dʒaˈdʒici]; English pronunciation: /zæˈdziːkiː/) is a Greekmeze or appetizer, also used as a sauce for souvlaki and gyros. Tzatziki is made of strained yoghurt (usually from sheep or goat milk) mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, usually olive oil, pepper, sometimes dill, sometimes lemon juice and parsley, and sometimes mint added.[1] Tzatziki is always served cold. While in Greece and Turkey the dish is usually served as an accompaniment, in other places tzatziki is often served with bread (loaf or pita) as part of the first course of a meal.

I added two pinches of red pepper flakes, the juice from half a lime and half a lemon, and lemon zest. Once the chicken looked like it was almost done I added a big handful of raw, baby spinach. I laid it right on top of the chicken and onions and covered the pan so it would steam.

Once it was ready I plated it atop the tzatziki on the tortilla, with Cedar’s Fresh Taboule Salad on the side, and was ready to eat.

DELICIOUS! The onions caramelized and teamed up with the olive oil to keep the chicken super moist. The fresh lemon and lime juice, lemon zest and fresh, cool tzatziki was the perfect balance to the whole wheat, chicken, spinach and spicy red pepper flakes. So many different textures and flavors that all came together wonderfully!

And if you decide to re-create this, you can add as much or as little of each that you’d like to create your ultimate flavor balance.

Substitutions:

  • Sub lettuce wraps for gluten-free (I may even do that another night this week!)
  • Vegetarian? No problem. Skip the chicken and mix in extra veggies.
  • The other ingredients can all be switched out based on other needs or preferences. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you need ideas are unsure about something! (eatsomethingneweveryday@gmail.com)

 

Cedar’s

Their cucumber garlic Tzatziki sauce is second only to fresh homemade. The tiny pieces of cucumber were few and far between, adding a little crunch without ruining the overall smooth texture. It was just thick enough and had a really great taste! if I can find it, this will be the one I pick from now on!

The Fresh Taboule salad was good. Not great. It smells delicious, and the first bite hit me.. hard. The initial parsely flavor is a little much. Ingredients are almost always listed with the first ingredient making up the largest percentage of the recipe and in descending order from there. Parsley was the first ingredient; maybe it should have been second or third. The flavor was good, I finished my side, and I’ll finish off the container this week, I would just prefer a little less parsley.

Yogurt City Fro-yo

Fro-yo, or frozen yogurt is a somewhat recent trend hitting the United States’ food scene. TCBY, The Country’s Best Yogurt, opened in 1981 as America’s first frozen yogurt shop. They immediately franchised and now have over 450 locations. The “recent” part of this trend refers to the number of copy cats.

The only TCBY close to where I live recently closed down. When I visited their website for information for this post, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It looked nothing like the store that was near me. They had obviously re-branded in order to keep up with the times.

Here is what they say on their website:

“As of 2010, we’ve remodeled our interiors and our brand to reflect our forward-thinking outlook on the future with a modern brand and logo, colorful palette and chic interior decor. We’ve been building a legacy of great tasting, healthy frozen desserts for the past thirty years and we don’t have any intention of slowing down or looking back.”

This was a great idea, because not only were they the oldest in the market, they looked it, too.

Compared to Pinkberry,  perhaps the most famous of the “newer” fro-yo chains, they were extremely outdated, drab and less than hip or cool.

Pinkberry also happens to be where I was reintroduced to this fad. I’ve been to TCBY a number of times in my life, but first experienced Pinkberry in the LAX airport on my way to a conference after visiting a friend in LA. It was an early  morning flight, I was exhausted, and just wanted something refreshing. The clerk behind the counter suggested I get the vanilla instead of the “original” because it is too tart. I asked for a sample, not knowing what he was referring to.

Pinkberry in LAX

I actually loved the tart flavor! And come to find out, that’s a crucial part of the trend. Most estalishments refer to it as “original” or “original  tart” – I had never had it at TCBY, I don’t even remember it being offered, but according to their website, “original tart” is in fact one of their current flavors.

Coming back to start Spring Semester on campus and upset that TCBY had closed, we were delighted to see that not one, but two new fro-yo joints opened right on Main Street. Admittedly this is poor planning and one of the two will likely go out of business, but for now it’s great to have them both here.

After asking our students and a few colleagues, we figured out which one was supposedly better and tried it out after a marathon day of doing work.

Original Tart & Taro w/ Strawberries & Pineapple

Yogurt City, with locations on Staten Island and in Philadelphia is now in Delaware, and we’re pumped! And so is the yogurt; it’s self-serve. You take a (giant) cup, and take as much or as little of each flavor that you want, add your own toppings and then weigh it. It is 45 cents an ounce.

I tried the Original Tart and Taro (taro root); they were both delicious. I topped it with fresh pineapple and strawberries.

I loved it, am super excited that they are right here on Main Street, and can’t wait to get it again!

 

Ice cream or fro yo?

TCBY or Pinkberry? Or local?

Favorite flavor? Topping?