Easy Salad Recipe for Summer

When it’s hot outside, the last thing I want to think about is cooking in a hot kitchen. No thanks! But I still want to eat healthy and nourishing meals – that’s where the summer salad comes in! Chop a few veggies, throw them in a bowl, add a light dressing, and voila! Dinner in less than 10 minutes. You guys know I’m all about food prep but I’ve been spending every free moment I have this summer enjoying the weather with friends and wine! So the last thing on my mind on Sunday is food prep. But when you’re making quick salads like this one it’s really not a big deal. I literally spend minutes throwing these together and I’ll often double the recipe and add half to a container for lunch before I add the dressing. Two meals in one?! That’s my kind of summer prep!

If you’re anything like me, you need BIG salads to keep you full for longer than 10 minutes. I need way more than just leaves and a couple tomatoes. The recipe I found below is a great starting point but feel free to make substitutions as you like! I usually add quinoa, almonds, and a protein like grilled chicken or boiled egg. This is super filling and refreshing for a light summer’s eve! It’s also a huge recipe and could probably feed four regular or two people with appetite’s like mine. 😉

Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad with Poppyseed Dressing

Ingredients:

Salad Ingredients:

  • 6 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced (or you can double this to 2 avocados!)
  • 4 ounces crumbled gorgonzola or blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • half a small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 batch poppyseed dressing (recipe below)

Poppyseed Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup avocado oil (or any oil, such as olive oil)
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • pinch of ground dry mustard (optional)
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

To Make The Salad:

  1. Toss all ingredients together with your desired amount of dressing until combined. Serve immediately.

To Make The Poppyseed Dressing:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together until combined.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper, or more to taste.

A glimpse into my meal prep ritual

Welcome to summer y’all! I’m so happy summer is here as it’s my favorite season. I love the sun and doing summery things like going the beach, riding my bike, getting ice cream…the list goes on LOL. I wasn’t able to take a vacation this spring as originally planned due to some financial constraints but it’s ALL GOOD cuz summer! I’ll go in the fall or winter hopefully, I will definitely let you know!

I’ve had many requests to discuss a bit more about what I do to prepare healthy meals and snacks for a busy working week. I talked a bit on here about my food prep Sundays (love!) but there is so much more to it than making one recipe on Sunday. Here’s exactly what I do to prepare meals for a busy week ahead:

Saturday: prepare a grocery list and shop til I drop (okay more like for one hour but you get it)
Sunday:
– batch cook 2-3 meals. Usually a soup, stirfry, pasta, salad, meatballs, whole chicken, or something of the like
– cut up carrots, celery, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumber etc into 5 containers for morning snacks for the week (usually 1-2 cups)
– Measure 1/4 cups of nuts like almonds, cashews, peanuts, pistachios, into 5 containers for afternoon snacks for the week
– prepare one or two easy sauces in my food processor to use for snacks or in salads i.e. hummus, artichoke dip, pesto, etc

After that, I’m usually POOPED! I spend about 3-4 hours doing all this, sometimes less if it’s summer and I’m doing more fast and easy recipes like salads. BUT all the prep is worth it because I have all of my lunches prepared and often most of dinners. Sometimes the prep requires a bit of light cooking in the evening like boiling noodles, or baking some vegetables but it’s so easy I don’t mind. So long as it’s no slaving over the stove for an hour, am I right?!

Anyways, there is a chaotic look into my food prep life. I hope it inspires you to try something new! xo.

Meal Prep Sunday: Slow Cooker Edition

You guys know how much I love food prep Sundays. Well cooking all day isn’t the most fun, but having healthy meals all week and not having to cook every night is the best! So I make it work LOL. Today I wanted to share an easy recipe to make in the crockpot or slow cooker. I let this simmer all day and then portion into various glass containers and jars for my work lunches and some dinners too. It’s a great soup for these cold and wet last days of winter. At least I hope winter is ending soon! I literally found so many recipes by Googling “healthy crockpot recipes” so give that a try to find a recipe that you love.

This is a vegetable soup with lots of great winter vegetables and even some red lentils I found thanks to A Beautiful Plate. I’m not vegetarian, but I do eat a lot of meatless meals throughout the week. Please enjoy and tell me what you think!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, trimmed, peeled, and diced
  • 2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed and chopped into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 3 Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup split red lentils
  • 1 cup canned chopped tomatoes (with their juices)
  • 2 pieces of parmigiano-reggiano rind
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt, plus more
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 cups finely sliced savoy cabbage, reserved for later
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley (or basil), for garnishing
  • freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, for garnishing

Directions:

  1. If you own a stovetop-safe slow cooker insert: Heat the olive oil in the insert over medium heat on the stove. Add the onion and celery and saute until tender, 5 to 7 minutes, before transferring to the slow cooker and continuing with the instructions below.
  2. If you do not own a slow cooker with a stovetop-safe insert (or wish to skip step one): Place the insert on the slow-cooker base (this recipe will fit a 4-quart capacity slow cooker). Add the olive oil, onion, celery, carrot, zucchini, potatoes, split red lentils, chopped tomatoes, parmigiano rind, bay leaves, thyme, chicken stock, kosher salt, and black pepper. Stir together. Cook on high heat for 4-6 hours, or until the red lentils are tender (or alternatively, cook on low heat for 8-10 hours).
  3. In the last hour of cook time (or 2 hours, if you are cooking over low heat), add the thinly sliced cabbage. Remove and discard the dried bay leaves and any tough thyme sprigs. Adjust the seasoning to taste salt and pepper – you will most likely need to be liberal on the salt for this soup!
  4. Serve the soup and top each serving with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley, and freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano.

Vacation Planning!

It’s been forever since I’ve taken a vacation but next year I’ve decided to take two weeks off in the spring for an adventure. I’ll be going by myself so I’m researching destinations that will be fun for a female solo traveler but also safe at the same time. I’m trying to decide between a more adventurous vacation or a more relaxing vacation. I find when traveling solo that the adventure vacations can be the most fun because it’s easy to meet up with other travelers along the way and travel together. The relaxing vacations are nice but sometimes it’s a bit too much alone time LOL. Right now my wish list includes Bali, Costa Rica, or Brazil. Lots of sun at every destination but each with a different pace. Because I only have two weeks, length of  flight is also a serious concern. When I was in my 20s I would travel around the world on these long flights with long layovers but now I don’t have time for that. I want to get to a destination as fast as possible LOL. Here are a couple great blogs I found that I’m researching to make my decision on my final destination. If you have any great resources you use for travel I’d love to hear about them!

Zen-ing Out

OMG you guys. I have to tell you about this really cool present I got last week. It was my birthday and my super thoughtful older sister sent me this amazing gift in the mail that I would’ve never thought of. It’s a Tibetan singing bowl and it makes the most majestic sound I’ve ever heard. I’ve always loved music but I’ve always been more interested in bands and that sort of music. This is a spiritual type of music that people often used during meditation. When you hold the bowl in your hand and play it it creates these vibrations that run through your whole body. It’s hard to explain but it’s really cool! I’ve been playing mine when I get home from a busy day at work and I find it helps me calm down and relax. I transition out of work mode in the home mode very quickly LOL. After doing more research I see that there are tons of different sizes and materials for the singing bowls so I’m thinking of growing my collection. How cool would it be to have a Zen room filled with singing bowls? #ApartmentGoals. Do any of you own a singing bowl? I’d love to hear more ideas for how and when to use it!

Food Prep Sundays FTW

I’ve been trying to get on the food prep train and prepare all of my meals for the week on Sunday. I can be a challenge to buy all of the groceries in advance for a full week’s worth of meals but it’s totally worth it when you don’t have to think about cooking during a busy week. I decided I would share some of my food prep recipes with you in hopes of inspiring others to do the same. This Mexican Quinoa is one of my favourite go-to recipes I hope you enjoy. I’ll be sharing more recipe ideas very soon! Let me know if you have any requests!

Best Tips for a Restful Sleep?

I really need some advice! Normally I sleep like a baby every night. I go to bed around 11 PM and I wake up at 6 AM with no problem. But last night the strangest thing happened. I laid in bed for three hours before I fell asleep!  Even worse, once I did fall asleep it was a very light sleep and I woke up every hour on the hour. So I probably only got three hours of sleep and I was so exhausted today at work. Honestly this sort of thing never happens to me so I was wondering if there are any ideas about what I can do to prevent this from happening in the future?  A girlfriend at work told me if I can’t fall asleep to get up and have a snack but that sounds kind of crazy. Who wants to get up in the middle of the night and cook LOL. I was thinking maybe a more natural remedy might be appropriate. I’ve heard magnesium baths are a great way to relax and get sleepy. Any other ideas for what I can do? I would appreciate your suggestions so much!

Shopping and Burgers

I just had the best day at the outlets near Seattle! I love shopping but it can get so expensive so the outlet mall is a great way to still shop but also get some great deals! I live not too far from Seattle so every few months my girlfriends and I like to take a trip to the outlets to check out any new deals. Today I found a really cute bag at Fossil that I’ll have to upload some photos of. I have to admit I’m not much of a photographer but I guess I’ll have to improve my skills to show you on the blog LOL. We also went to this great burger place next to the outlets and you can get bunless burgers. I’ve been trying to cut back on carbs so I got a burger with a lettuce bun rather than a bread bun. It sounds crazy but it’s actually really good. If you ever make it out to the outlet malls you have to try this burger place. And don’t be afraid to go bunless. LOL.

Yummy Dinner Idea

New week new recipe! You’ve got to try this amazing cauliflower curry recipe I found online last week. I made it for dinner last night and finished it today for lunch LOL. I thought it would last me a few meals but it was too delicious! Next time I make it I’ll have to double the recipe or maybe just not eat as much LOL. It has cauliflower, mushrooms, kale, onions and coconut milk in it so it’s very clean but also very delicious. It might be my favourite thing I’ve ever made for myself because it almost tastes like eating in a restaurant but way healthier! Give the recipe a try and let me know what you think!

Hello world!

Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Cheryl Hall and I am the voice behind Paisley and Peppermint! I have always thought about starting my own blog and I decided to finally take the leap. I love to travel, shop, cook, and spend time with friends so I thought this blog could be a great way to capture those events and share them with my friends and family and hopefully also the broader world. I hope you enjoy following along and please send me any blog post ideas you have and I’ll try to accommodate them. Talk soon!