Tag Archives: salads

NROLFW update & more mango

I’m halfway through the first stage of NROLFW and wanted to do a quick update on my thoughts/progress so far with the plan.

Stage 1 calls for 16 workouts, alternating between workout A & workout B. After 3 full weeks, I’ve completed 8 of the workouts at the “2 set” phase and just today moved into the second half of stage 1 which increases the sets to 3.

I’m not going to do any updates on measurements yet, I’ll wait until the end of stage 1 for that. Sorry, no awkward full body muscle pictures today. Winking smile 

In general, I love it! In these 3 weeks, I’ve learned to live and function in a perpetual state of soreness (in a good way!). This is the longest I’ve ever stuck with a strength training program before. I seriously look forward to each and every workout. I think a few things are contributing to that:

  • The way the program is structured it encourages you to add heavier weights as the workouts progress.
  • It gives you “beginner” moves when necessary so it’s easy to tell when you’re gaining strength because they start to feel easy and you move onto the “real” moves (push-ups are an example here).
  • I think the emphasis on dumbbells and barbells instead of machines makes it more easily recognizable when you can handle increased weight.
  • I already see a difference in muscle definition. Positive reinforcement baby!

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These are me not flexing. I’m going to call them my “rolling hills” and I’m pretty sure they weren’t there before. Winking smile Well on my way to looking like the book cover.

NROLFW

Click here for before pictures (granted, I am flexing in those so they’re not totally comparable).

A few fun facts:

Prone jackknife is my favorite move of this stage.

Step-ups are my least favorite (boring and tedious)

-I can now do 3 sets of 10 full push-ups!

-In general this is how I feel about deadlifts:

Diet wise I haven’t been doing anything out of the ordinary besides being more cognizant of my protein intake. I will try to have a protein smoothie or something high in protein after each session. It doesn’t always happen, but I’d say about 75% of the time.

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Today’s smoothie, which overflowed the second I put the camera down and which Ginger promptly licked up.

Stay tuned after another 3 weeks for a full Stage 1 recap.

**********

Now, let’s talk about mangoes. Again.

I actually bought 2 mangoes for last week’s Mango black bean salad but only ended up using one because the other was hard as a rock. 6 days later after hanging out next to the bananas getting all ripe, it was begging to be used. After reading Jenna’s recap on her fruit detox, I had been craving fruit and couldn’t even think about “real” dinner foods. I just wanted fruit. The practical side of me kicked in though and somehow I ended up with this.

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Quinoa, mango, spinach salad.

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With a piece of whole wheat sunflower seed bread. Delicious, light dinner.

Quinoa Mango Spinach Salad

Makes 2-3 full dinner servings or 6 side dish servings

  • 3 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach
  • 1 mango chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of half a lime
  • juice of 1 small orange
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

Rinse quinoa and toast with coconut oil before adding water and cooking normally (optional, but recommended). Combine next 6 ingredients in a large bowl. When quinoa is finished cooking, add to bowl and mix to combine. Whisk together last 5 ingredients and pour over salad. Toss. Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

 

What’s the weirdest craving you’ve ever given into for dinner (or any meal)?

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18 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Recipes, Strength training

Dear Summer,

Yesterday, June 13,  I used the heated seats in my car. Please understand we have 6 winter months in which that is acceptable, June is not one of them. Summer is for A/C and barbeques. Swimming pools and beaches. Beer and mango, black bean salads. Not heated seats. I’d appreciate it if you could get your act back together.

*Warmest* regards,

Gina

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Mangoes bring me back to my childhood and memories of my dad. I can clearly remember the first time I had one.  We waited patiently for it to ripen on the countertop. Once ripe, it went into the fridge to chill. Then, we all waited for dad to cut it “correctly”. Did you know mangoes are the national fruit of India? My dad grew up in Calcutta, India. He knows mangoes.

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From that day on mangoes have been one of my all time favorite fruits. I don’t know why I then tend to forget about them for extended periods of time. It’s almost as if they are too much of a “treat” to just be considered fruit. I equate them more with the likes of chocolate cake. Enjoyed occasionally, not an everyday indulgence. When they caught my eye in the grocery store yesterday, I knew it was time for us to get reacquainted.

Since the weather hasn’t been cooperating, I decided to take matters into my own hands and create a salad that at least tastes like summer. Mangoes + black beans + cilantro = summer. Anyone who disagrees with that equation obviously didn’t excel in math class.

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6 ingredients + chopping/dicing + a simple vinaigrette = 1 delicious summer salad

That’s some AP stuff right there. Or not. I got a 2 in AP calc, what do I know?IMG_0322IMG_0332IMG_0340

 

Mango, Black Bean Salad

Makes 6-8 side dish portions

  • 1 large ripe mango, diced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 2 fresh ears of corn, cut off the cob
  • 1 very small red onion or 1/4  of a medium red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro, diced
  • 1 medium jicama, coarsely chopped

Simple vinaigrette:

  • 3 tbsp evoo
  • juice of 1 lemon or 1/2 lemon + 1/2 lime
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

After chopping and dicing, combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients and pour over salad. Toss to combine. Season with more salt and pepper if needed and chill before serving.

 

How do you cut/eat a mango? I have a coworker who pokes a hole in it and then sucks the fruit out.

31 Comments

Filed under Recipes, Side Dishes

Coconut roasted carrot salad

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I’ve been on a bit of a coconut streak lately, adding unsweetened shredded coconut to my oats in the morning, roasting every possible vegetable in coconut oil instead of my usual olive oil, adding coconut butter to smoothies and the list goes on. So when Kelapo sent me a little jar of their coconut oil to try out I had no problem thinking of something to use it for. Since it’s Memorial Day weekend and pretty much everyone will be attending a BBQ at some point, I figured I’d make something that would be a nice side to all the grilled food. I hate when BBQ’s consist solely of meat, buns, and chips so I went with a vegetable but dressed it up a bit. Smile It was slightly warm in the house with the oven on in the 85 degree temps this afternoon but I’d say the outcome was worth it.

You’ll need about 2lbs of carrots for this. I only had about 1.5lbs of whole carrots so I stole a few baby ones from my hummus dip stash.

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Wash and trim them. I hardly ever peel my carrots, just give them a good wash. You can peel them though if the outer layer ugliness bothers you. Since these were going to be roasted I figured no one would see the outer layer anyway. Slice the carrots on a diagonal in thin strips and place in a large bowl. Mince up a couple gloves of garlic next and grab about 1/4 cup of sliced almonds. Put both the minced garlic and the almonds into the bowl with the carrots.

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Coconut oil wants to be solid. It will get slightly melted in the summertime but it’s never quite like other oils that are pourable (unless maybe your house isn’t air conditioned and gets pretty hot). For this recipe you need the oil to be completely liquid so you can pour it into the bowl with the carrots, garlic and almonds and stir to coat everything. I popped about 2 tablespoons into a small bowl and microwaved it for about 25 seconds, that’s all it needed to completely liquefy. When you  pour the now warm/hot oil over the colder carrots the oil might congeal a little. Don’t worry, once it goes into the oven everything will melt again.

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Pour the carrot mixture onto a baking sheet, you don’t really need to grease it since the oil is coating the mixture already. Roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, mixing/flipping once or twice as they cook.

Use the 30 minutes the carrots are roasting to gather up the rest of the ingredients.

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-apple cider vinegar

-honey

-feta

-dried cherries

-shredded coconut

-fresh mint leaves

I contemplated some more nuts/seeds but in the end left it simple with the almonds that were already in it. Not much prep work here. I just did a quick chiffonade with the mint and that was it.

Once the carrots are done take them out of the oven and let them rest a bit to cool down. Since we’re adding feta to the mixture you don’t want the hot carrots to melt the cheese. 15 minutes was about as much patience as I had.

Pour the carrot mixture back into the bowl and add all the other ingredients to it. Add some salt and pepper to taste and garnish with some mint leaves. I kept this at room temperature to serve because I didn’t want the oil to start to congeal from the cold fridge. Obviously, the leftovers are now in the fridge but I will probably warm them up in the microwave quickly before serving again.

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The carrots did a great job absorbing the coconut oil flavor. It really stood out in the dish. I think the addition of the shredded coconut helped bring out the coconut oil flavor too. If you’re not a fan of mint I’d go with basil. I was torn between the two but I’m glad I chose the mint, I like the contrast of it with the honey and sweet cherries in this.

 

Coconut Roasted Carrot Salad

Makes 6 side dish servings

  • 2 lbs carrots
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • handful of fresh mint leaves
  • salt/pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash, trim and peel carrots. Slice them diagonally into thin strips. Mince garlic. add garlic, almonds and carrots to a large bowl. Melt coconut oil and pour over carrot mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Combine well and pour onto baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, flipping/stirring a few times during baking. While carrots are roasting, chiffonade mint and add mint and all other ingredients to the same large bowl the carrots were in. When carrots are finished roasting, let cool for about 15-20 minutes. Once cool, add carrot mixture to bowl with other ingredients and stir well to combine. Season with salt & pepper again to taste and garnish with mint leaves.

 

What are you bringing to your Memorial Day BBQ?

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Filed under Meals, Recipes, Side Dishes

Home sweet home

We got home Friday night just as the sun was setting only to see the jungle that our entire yard had become. It was raining the 5 days prior to us leaving for Ireland so we never got to mow the lawn or do anything outside. Fast forward 8 more days and the place looked like it had been abandoned!

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I wish I had a ruler to illustrate how high the weeds grass actually was. Ginger has this thing with long grass and for some strange reason feels compelled to eat it. It happens on walks all the time but then she’s on a leash and I can pull her away. I didn’t really think of it when we let her out yesterday morning and she spent the next 20 minutes chomping her way around the yard. When she finally came in she wouldn’t eat her food and as I sat on the couch next to her I could hear her stomach making obscenely loud noises for a dog. 10 minutes later she was running to the door to be let out to then have a 15 minute puke fest from the ingested grass. Lovely. Thankfully, Ulysses mowed it before going to work so we didn’t have to deal with that the rest of the day.

After breakfast I spent the entire morning yesterday cleaning up these…

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Those damn seed pods are everywhere! I definitely don’t remember this happening last year. The worst part is we just mulched around the entire yard and now all my pretty black mulch is covered with these things. It’s impossible to blow them off the mulch without blowing the mulch away too so I just gave up and instead cleaned the deck, porch, walkway and driveway.

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Despite the “fun” morning, I’m definitely happy to be home for a few reasons…

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1. A workout!

Yes, I ran inside yesterday even though it was gorgeous out. Since I wasn’t done with operation seed pod clean up until almost noon it was pretty hot out by then and I really wasn’t in the mood to fill up the camelbak. #lazy. The run wasn’t nearly as hard as I was expecting after 10 days off. I ended up doing 4 miles with some intervals.

  • Mile 1: warm up 6.2mph
  • Miles 2&3: alternating 1/4 miles of 7.2 & 6.2
  • Mile 4: cool down 6.2mph

Some abs and pushups later I felt much better about those 8 scones over the past week. Smile

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2. Water

Oh how I missed my beloved Under Armour water bottle. This thing comes everywhere with me. I love the ounce markings on it so I can keep track of how much I’m drinking in a day. I usually drink somewhere between 70-100 ounces/day. That’s 3.5-5 of these. It’s not that water wasn’t available in Ireland, it was just inconvenient to drink that much when you’re constantly on the go because of the obvious side effects…needing to pee every 45 minutes or so. When you have to pay or buy something from a store to use a bathroom in most places in Europe it would have been annoying to drink my usual amount so I drastically cut back. I felt gross because of it too. I woke up parched every morning and I’m pretty sure it was a contributing factor to how blah I felt by the end of the trip body/health wise.

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3. A packed fridge (and fruit bowl)

We actually went to one grocery store on our way home on Friday because I couldn’t bear the thought of having no produce upon waking up yesterday morning. Then yesterday I hit up the other grocery store for a few remaining essentials. Having so much produce that it doesn’t all fit in the drawer makes me happy. I think I went a little overboard though. Eating 85% carbs for 8 days will do that to you.

In produce alone I bought:

-arugula

-spinach

-salad greens

-broccoli

-cucumbers

-zucchini

-tomatoes

-avocados

-kale

-Swiss chard

-sugar peas

-peaches

-nectarines

-bananas

-blueberries

-strawberries

-raspberries

-blackberries

-apples

-cantaloupe

We have a lot of eating to do!

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4. Healthy food

Besides a yogurt bowl that escaped photography this morning, these were my eats for the day. A strawberry banana protein smoothie, a big salad with a bit of everything, and coconut crusted baked tofu with overcooked steamed broccoli and Trader Joe’s harvest grain blend. The tofu was a wing-it kind of thing and it came out amazing! Just mixed shredded unsweetened coconut with some bread crumbs, salt & pepper for the crust. Dipped the tofu slices in an egg + coconut oil + milk mixture and then rolled them in the crust mix. Baked for 20 minutes at 425. Really good! Might be my new fav tofu recipe.

And lastly,

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5. Shorts & flip flops.

Ireland was cold. It made me happy to be able to wear these today. Smile

And to end with a little fun, while I was traipsing through the rain and wind in Ireland Tina @ Love, Sweat, and Beers nominated me for the “7 things about me” award. I actually found it pretty hard to come up with 7 things because most people reading this right now probably already know these about me so just as a disclaimer to friends and family you’re probably not going to find out anything earth shattering here, sorry.

7 things award

1. I have never wanted to have children and after almost 5 years of marriage we’re both still “eh” about it.  As everyone around us starts having a family though I wonder how our friendships might change if we are the only ones without kids.

2. I have a secret desire to go to culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in France. When we lived in Florida I actually applied at their Miami location, paid the application fee, got accepted and then never followed through. I wish I had realized this desire before starting a career, getting married, buying a house, etc.

3. I’m severely allergic to any animal with hair/fur and get allergy shots and take zyrtec & nasonex daily just to have Ginger.

4. I despised oatmeal as a kid. Now, I’d consider it one of my favorite foods.

5. I’ve worked at the same job since graduating college for the past 7 years and have changed positions 6 times. Some promotions, some lateral, and some backwards just for a change.

6. I bought a stick shift car without knowing how to drive it because I wanted to learn. It worked. It sometimes feels bad-ass to be able to drive stick. Especially, on the other side of the road, shifting with your left hand.

7. I have only thrown up once since I was 5. It was my 21st birthday and that’s a story for another day. I hate throwing up and will avoid it at all costs.

And now I’m passing this on to these ladies:

Hayley @ Oat Couture

Kim @ Book Worm Runs

Kate @ What Kate is Cooking

What’s something random about you?

10 Comments

Filed under Around the house, Dinner, Lunch, Meals, Running

Ode to Ireland

First things first. Breakfast was too good not to share. This girl knows what she’s talking about when it comes to smoothies. I’ve been wanting to try these dough boy smoothies for quite some time and yesterday morning was the day. Boy am I glad I did. Such a nice change of pace for breakfast. It really does taste doughy too!

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Those white clumps are coconut butter and definitely the best part. If you haven’t tried these yet, do it.

<Insert long work day here>

But that’s ok because it’s only a 4 day work week for me. We leave for Ireland on Thursday night! We’ll be headed there for just over a week and plan to explore much of southern Ireland from Dublin —-> Cork –> Killarney —> Shannon. We’re going with Adrian & Doreen so you’ll be seeing a little bit more of those two. This is my first trip to Europe that we’re planning completely on our own and not with a group of some sort so, it will be interesting to see how everything pans out from driving our stick shift rental car on the other side of the road to figuring out how to get from city to city.

I decided to get ready for our trip by incorporating one of the few foods I associate with Ireland (maybe I’m naïve but, what food is actually Irish?) into last night’s dinner. Cabbage! I’ll admit that my assumption of cabbage being Irish is based solely on the whole corned beef & cabbage St. Patrick’s Day tradition. So I apologize if it’s not but, I promise the recipe is good anyway!P1012649

There were slim pickings in the produce drawer of the fridge and since we’re leaving on Thursday I really didn’t want to buy too much either. Enter this coleslaw/salad that I can make a ton of, will keep just fine for a few days, and satisfy my vegetable quota. Hope Ulysses likes it because it’s on the menu every night between now and Wednesday!

Honestly, I don’t even know if I can call this a “recipe” it’s so simple. Simple is how I roll. I don’t have time for long, elaborate meals during the week while working full time and trying to fit in some sort of workout after 5pm. (Don’t even try and talk me into a morning workout. It will not happen. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve tried only to totally dismiss the alarm clock when it goes off.) My goal is to try and keep it healthy, quick, and of course tasty. That’s it. I think this satisfies all three.

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These 4 vegetables cost me $4.32 at my favorite store. I plan on having them last me for 3 dinners/lunches. Can’t beat that.

Ever had jicama?

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This was actually my first time buying it. I’ve had it in plenty of store bought vegetable party trays but never bought it myself. It looks like a root vegetable and you just peel the outside layer off much like you would a potato.

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Once the jicama is peeled, just julienne it along with the red pepper.

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This is a loose interpretation of a “julienne”. No need to be perfect here.

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Moving onto the cabbage, I actually take out the white inner core as I think it’s kind of bitter and then just slice it.

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Add all your sliced vegetables to a bowl. I actually threw in some un-pictured raisins too for some sweetness. I also thought about adding a sliced up apple but then realized I didn’t have any left.

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Now it’s time for the dressing. This is where most coleslaws go horribly wrong. I wanted to keep this one light and obviously healthy but, I also wasn’t in the mood for just a vinegary dressy.  I ended up kind of winging it and it came out great!

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp mayo
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • salt/pepper

Just pour the dressing into the bowl with the sliced vegetables and toss to coat.

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I let this sit in the fridge for a couple of hours but, there’s no reason you couldn’t eat it right away.

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I was alone for dinner last night and this was the perfect side to my grilled cheese and tomato sandwich. Smile

Now it’s time to start packing!

“Irish” Coleslaw:

Serves 8-10 side dish portions

  • 1 small head of red cabbage, sliced
  • 1 small head of green or savoy cabbage, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 jicama root, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup raisins, chopped
  • salt/pepper to taste

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp mayo
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • salt/pepper

Directions:

Thinly slice all vegetables and combine in a large bowl with chopped raisins. Whisk together all dressing ingredients and add to bowl with vegetables. Add salt & pepper to taste. Toss to coat and serve or refrigerate.

Have any of you been to Ireland? Any suggestions on things we must do while there?

14 Comments

Filed under Breakfast, Dinner, Meals, Recipes, Travel

Farm to table

You know you live in the sticks when you can be here in 5 minutes.

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Sometimes living in the sticks isn’t so bad.

5 Comments

Filed under Around town, Lunch, Meals

Mother’s Day wheatberry salad

One of the few redeeming features of the lovely little suburban town we live in is this place.

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Looks like a regular grocery store from the outside right? Well, not quite. First of all, it’s in one of the sketchiest shopping plazas in town. Secondly, hardly anyone in the store actually speaks English. Korean or Spanish, you’re good, but not English. That’s ok though, me and the fish guy are tight. I’m a regular wild Alaskan Salmon buyer of his and we have our little “head nod” way of communicating. I don’t even need to say “salmon, a little less than a pound” anymore. He just starts cutting the filet before I’m even at the counter. The best part about the store however, is that they are ridiculously cheap! This isn’t a full fledged grocery store by any means, but I buy all my weekly produce here and probably pay 1/3 of what I would in a normal grocery store. I don’t know how they do it or what black market they’re getting their stuff from. I choose to remain naive to these things and just focus on the savings and convenience (it’s only about a 5 minute drive from my house and it doesn’t get much closer than that when you live in God’s country).

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I should be much more strategic about my weekly grocery shopping trips and plan my meals out for the week so I don’t have to make multiple trips, but when it’s only a 5 minute drive down the road the incentive to do that kind of planning just isn’t there. I decided I wanted to bring some sort of side dish that included vegetables for today’s Mother’s Day gathering at my parent’s house because the menu as of yesterday afternoon consisted of “meat for the grill”. After surveying the fridge it quickly became apparent that a trip to good ‘ole Hopewell Farm was necessary. About 20 minutes later I had the goods:

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This is the kind of dish that can honestly be made with whatever veggies you want or have. Hate onions? Omit them. My dad hates cucumbers but I’m putting them in anyway. He can eat around them. It’s not Father’s Day after all.

Next step? Wash & chop. That’s it, seriously.

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Look at those knife skills! For some reason I find chopping/dicing vegetables to be incredibly relaxing. I actually look forward to nights when dinner requires a bunch of prep like this so I can turn on some music and dice away with a glass of wine next to the cutting board. Is that weird?

The other element to this side dish is wheatberries. Well, today it’s wheatberries. This is actually a dish that my mom started making a few years back with orzo pasta. I didn’t have any orzo though and any grain will do so I subbed out the orzo for wheatberries instead. I like the chewy texture better actually. Brown rice, barley, any sort of pasta will do though. Use your imagination. Depending on the cooking time for whatever grain you choose you should probably get that going right now if you haven’t already. Wheatberries are simple. Put them in a small sauce pan, cover with water, bring to a boil and then simmer for at least 30 minutes. I gave mine about 45. 30 is good if you want an intense “chew” factor going on. 45 is a little safer. At the end of the 45 minutes, they’ll have mostly absorbed all the water you put in, but if there is any excess just drain it and set the wheatberries aside.

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As you’re dicing up your veggies just start throwing them into a large mixing bowl. Once the wheatberries are cooked and drained, add them to the bowl as well. A few more additions and you’re done.

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Love my potted herbs. This is parsley, but you could use whatever fresh herbs you’re feeling or have on hand. Basil or cilantro would work well too. If I’m going for more of a Mexican theme I would’ve used black beans instead of chickpeas, thrown in some olives, and subbed out the parsley for cilantro.

At this point you can refrigerate the mix overnight if you’re prepping for the next day (like I was) or you can whisk up the dressing and be done.

Dressing I used:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • salt/pepper to taste

The dressing can be altered to your liking. Sometimes I use balsamic vinegar. If I were rolling with the Mexican theme there would be some lime juice in there. Just taste as you’re going along and modify as needed. Pour the dressing into the large mixing bowl with the veggies and wheatberries and mix it up.

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Wheatberry Salad:

Serves 8-10 side dishes

  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 3 green onions. diced
  • 2 carrots. diced
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 large red pepper, diced
  • 2 small orange peppers. diced
  • 1.5 cups dry wheatberries
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup parsley, minced

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • salt/pepper to taste

Directions:

Put wheatberries in small sauce pan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to simmer for 30-45 minutes. While wheatberries are cooking, wash and dice all your vegetables and put into large mixing bowl. Add drained/rinsed chickpeas and minced parsley. Once wheatberries are done cooking, drain and add to mixing bowl with vegetables. Either refrigerate at this point overnight or mix up dressing and pour into mixing bowl. Mix well, season with more salt/pepper if needed.

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Filed under Recipes, Side Dishes