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A full meal salad packed with fall goodness and a sweek, smoky vinaigrette!

I’ve been on a mission for the past few years to eat more seasonally and to really try and appreciate the variety that comes with a season change. I’m really going to miss summer berries, BUT I know that fall brings lots of amazing foods too. I let seasonal ingredients be my inspiration in making this delicious full meal salad.

A full meal salad packed with fall goodness and a sweek, smoky vinaigrette!

This bad boy is a nutritional powerhouse! I added my favorite fall fruit and vegetable (apple and butternut squash) along with quinoa for fiber and protein, dried cranberries for some tartness, and toasted almonds for that warm, nutty flavor (and the added bonus of some healthy fat!). I happen to love blue cheese so I added that too, but you can certainly leave it out for a vegan version of this meal.

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Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Smoky Maple Balsamic Dressing
 
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Serves: 1 full meal salad
Ingredients
Salad
  • 4 c. fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • ⅓ c. roasted butternut squash (I just dice mine in small pieces and roast in a 400 degree oven with a little coconut oil and salt for about 30 minutes)
  • ⅓ c. cooked quinoa
  • ½ apple (I used a jazz apple, use whatever your favorite is!), diced
  • 1 T. dried cranberries
  • 1-2 T. slivered almonds, toasted (a few minutes in a 400 degree oven will do)
  • 1 T. crumbled blue cheese (optional, but delicious!)
Dressing
  • ¼ c. pure maple syrup
  • ¼ c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T. dijon mustard
  • ½ c. olive oil
  • ¼ t. liquid smoke
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Toss together ingredients for salad.
  2. Combine ingredients for dressing in a food processor or blender until it forms a smooth dressing.
  3. Drizzle dressing over salad and enjoy!

A full meal salad packed with fall goodness and a sweek, smoky vinaigrette!

Allow me a moment to just recognize this dressing. THIS DRESSING, y’all. Perfect balance of sweet and sharp, and the smokiness just takes it over the edge. As a vegetarian I sometimes miss the smoky flavors that a lot of meats have (like bacon!), but I love using liquid smoke occasionally to provide that same amazing flavor. The recipe above makes a bigger batch than you’ll need for one salad. Because you are going to want more. Trust me.

A full meal salad packed with fall goodness and a sweek, smoky vinaigrette!

This salad would make a great packed lunch because none of these ingredients have a lot of moisture that would make the salad soggy. Pack the dressing in a separate container and you’re good to go!

A full meal salad packed with fall goodness and a sweek, smoky vinaigrette!

I’ll be seeing you again this weekend with a big life update post! It’s been far too long since I talked about what’s been going on with us!

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This easy recipe for stovetop mac and cheese uses greek yogurt to make a deliciously creamy cheese sauce!

Yesterday was really rainy and grey here in Georgia, and to me rainy days call for comfort food. My idea of comfort food has changed a lot since I’ve become more health conscious in recent years, but there are certain foods that will just always feel right. Mac and cheese is one of those foods for me! And while I’m in no way touting this as a health food, I’m happy to share a recipe with you that’s a much healthier option that traditional mac and cheese.

This easy recipe for stovetop mac and cheese uses greek yogurt to make a deliciously creamy cheese sauce!

One of my most popular recipes (it has over 160,000 views on my site!) is my Greek Yogurt Macaroni and Cheese. I love to see new comments and notes coming into my inbox about people trying and enjoying it! Because that recipe is a winner, I decided it would be fun to do a spinoff stovetop version. This recipe is faster to make because it doesn’t require any baking, but it has the same delicious flavor as the original! And if you prefer a more saucy mac and cheese, this is gonna be right up your alley.

Stovetop Greek Yogurt Macaroni and Cheese
 
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Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 8 dry oz. elbow macaroni (you can use whole grain or gluten-free if you'd like)
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. flour
  • 1½ c. milk
  • 1 t. salt
  • ¼ t. black pepper
  • 1 c. greek yogurt (I used whole milk Chobani but any type should work as long as it's plain)
  • ¾ c. shredded monterrey jack cheese
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers.
  3. Add in the flour and stir briskly with a whisk to form a roux. Let the roux cook for about 30 seconds to a minute while constantly stirring. You're looking for the roux to brown ever so slightly but you don't want it to burn!
  4. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly with the whisk.
  5. When the sauce is completely smooth, add in the salt, pepper, and cheeses.
  6. Stir until the cheese is melted and the mixture is very smooth.
  7. Remove from heat and let the cheese cool slightly before adding in the greek yogurt and whisking together until very smooth.
  8. Add elbow macaroni and stir with a spatula until all the pasta is coated in sauce.
  9. Return the pot to very low heat until the macaroni and cheese is warmed through. Taste and add additional salt or pepper as needed. Enjoy!

I highly recommend using mild cheddar cheese for this. Some reviewers on the OG recipe used sharp cheddar and from what I gather that makes for too “tangy” of a final product. I’ve always used mild cheddar for this because the yogurt provides its own sharpness and you want to keep a nice smooth flavor. You could even use all monterrey jack if you want, that would be delicious too! This easy recipe for stovetop mac and cheese uses greek yogurt to make a deliciously creamy cheese sauce!

I’m telling you…this is magical stuff! It’s best when it’s fresh off the stove, but it will reheat just fine later on if you have leftovers. Please comment below if you try it! I hope you love it as much as I do!

This easy recipe for stovetop mac and cheese uses greek yogurt to make a deliciously creamy cheese sauce!

-Lauren

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Fresh tomato salad with a tangy greek yogurt dressing!

I don’t know if this is the case everywhere in the US, but right now in Georgia the tomatoes are AMAZING. As much as I love the beauty of seasonal foods, I also kind of hate that in a few months it will be impossible to find tomatoes this good. There’s only one solution…eat all the tomatoes. Right now.

Fresh tomato salad with a tangy greek yogurt dressing!

I came up with this recipe because I wanted a simple way to enjoy these summer tomatoes while making sure that their fresh, sweet flavor was still the star of the show. I used a combo of red and yellow tomatoes both looked so beautiful at the fruit stand and I find that yellow tomatoes are often even sweeter than the red ones.

Fresh tomato salad with a tangy greek yogurt dressing!

This recipe uses very few ingredients and only takes a few minutes to make…just the way I like my recipes. 😉

Tomato Salad with Lemon Herb Greek Yogurt Dressing
 
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Serves: serves 4
Ingredients
  • 3 large tomatoes, thickly sliced
  • ⅔ c. greek yogurt
  • 1 T. chopped chives
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 t. lemon juice
  • ¼ t. salt
  • ¼ t. pepper
Instructions
  1. In a food processor or blender, blend together the greek yogurt, chives, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper until the ingredients are well combined.
  2. Arrange the tomatoes on a platter and top with dollops of the greek yogurt dressing.
  3. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper to taste (I used about ¼ t. more salt and just a couple dashes of black pepper). Garnish with additional chopped chives if desired.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you already know that greek yogurt is a go-to ingredient of mine. It’s so incredibly versatile, it’s healthy, and it’s delicious. Here all it takes is a little lemon juice and chives to transform it into a delicious dressing. Magical.

Fresh tomato salad with a tangy greek yogurt dressing!

I’m off to enjoy a hike with my sister and doggie on this beautiful Labor Day weekend! I hope you’re all having a relaxing holiday! Thanks for reading!

-Lauren

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These caramelized baby bananas make for an irresistible and healthy dessert or snack!

You may or may not know this about me but I have a sweet tooth that is OUTTA control! If I don’t eat enough fruit, I WILL somehow locate a Krispy Kreme doughnut or bowl of Ben & Jerry’s. For that reason I’m always always always looking for healthy dessert recipes. This is one that you MUST try.

These caramelized baby bananas make for an irresistible and healthy dessert or snack!

For this recipe I used my new obsession: baby bananas. Have you ever tried these?? They are like an elevated perfect version of normal bananas. I can’t believe it took me so long to try them.

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I ate that entire bunch on the way to work that morning! Best commute ever. What I’m trying to say is…buy yourself some baby bananas next time you see them. Also, make this recipe.

Caramelized Baby Bananas
 
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Serves: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 baby bananas (or you can use 1-2 regular bananas), cut in half lengthwise
  • ½ T. maple syrup
  • dash of cinnamon
  • optional toppings: peanut butter, toasted walnuts, nutella, honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat your broiler to high (or 500 degrees).
  2. Lightly grease a cookie sheet (I used a tiny bit of coconut oil) and place the bananas on the sheet, cut side facing up.
  3. Use a pastry brush to brush a little maple syrup on the top of each banana piece.
  4. Sprinkle the bananas with a dash of cinnamon.
  5. Broil in preheated oven, checking often, until the tops are caramelized. This took about 4 minutes under my broiler, but check often so they don't burn!
  6. Remove from the oven and top with peanut butter, walnuts, and any other ingredients you like!

These caramelized baby bananas make for an irresistible and healthy dessert or snack!

I decided to top mine with peanut butter, Nutella, some toasted nuts, and a drizzle of raw honey. Toasted coconut, toasted almonds, or fruit jam would also be delicious options! This tastes like bananas foster and REALLY hits the spot when you’re craving dessert. You don’t even need any toppings at all and this makes such a delicious treat!

These caramelized baby bananas make for an irresistible and healthy dessert or snack!

Every day I don’t succumb to a doughnut is a success in my book. 😉 One day down.

-Lauren

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This post brought to you by Marzetti® Brand. The content and opinions expressed below are that of A Dash of Soul.

Even though I’m a vegetarian, I sometimes have a hard time thinking of quick and easy ways to make flavorful vegetable dishes. That’s why when Marzetti® reached out to me about their Marzetti® Veggie Drizzle™ Finishing Sauces, I knew I had to try them! They have several flavors but for this tasty vegetable medley I used the Marzetti® Veggie Drizzle™Garlic Parmesan Finishing Sauce. mareztti-0047 The Marzetti® Veggie Drizzle™ Finishing Sauces come in a bottle that is ready to use. You just pour the sauce right on and you instantly have delicious vegetables. I love that I can use this on busy weeknights to take make dinnertime even faster! I think it would also be great for repurposing leftover veggies too. You could flavor your broccoli with Garlic Parmesan flavor one night and Honey Balsamic the next! mareztti-0061 In this medley I used broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini, and carrots, but there are different flavors of Marzetti¨ Veggie Drizzleª Finishing Sauces that pair well with any vegetable (or blend of vegetables) that you like!

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I was very impressed with the flavor of this product and would highly recommend it. Life can get very busy and it’s great to have convenient options like this to help out in the kitchen! mareztti-0054 Let me know if any of you try Marzetti® Veggie Drizzle™ Finishing Sauces, I think you’ll really love it!

-Lauren

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Healthy and delicious ice cream made from 5 clean ingredients!

I wish I could say I came up with this genius idea. I wish I could. Maybe I’ll just pretend for this post that I did, in case you haven’t heard of it? Ok, I came up with this genius idea. You won’t even believe how creative and smart I am. This simple 5-ingredient recipe is a delicious replacement for ice cream and I have been addicted to it the last few weeks!

Healthy and delicious ice cream made from 5 clean ingredients!

And here’s the embarrassingly simple (and genius, all mine) recipe:

5.0 from 1 reviews
Raspberry Swirl Nice Cream
 
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Serves: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 frozen bananas, sliced
  • ½ t. vanilla extract
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries, mashed with a fork
  • 1 T. peanut butter
  • 2 T. granola (optional, but provides a nice crunch)
Instructions
  1. Mix the bananas and vanilla extract in a food processor or high speed blender until the mixture is smooth and fluffy (will take a couple minutes at least).
  2. Fold the mashed raspberries into the banana mixture to make a swirl.
  3. Divide banana mixture into two bowls.
  4. Top with granola, drizzle with peanut butter, and enjoy!

Come and check out my Facebook page for a video on how I made this!

Healthy and delicious ice cream made from 5 clean ingredients!

If you have a sweet tooth like me you will LOVE this. You will love the genius idea that I came up with.

-Lauren

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I’m back this week with more food prep! It really is changing our game. I can’t even tell you how many unhealthy choices have been/will be avoided because of the few hours I spent prepping for this week. These ideas will work for either Hammer & Chisel (which we’re loving) or 21 Day Fix. I could have prepped all our meals but I decided to focus on lunch since I feel like that’s our weak spot. Here’s the result!

Food Prep Ideas for Hammer & Chisel or 21 Day Fix!

And here’s what’s on the menu!

Plant-based lunches:

  • veggie bowl of sautéed broccoli, onions, and mushrooms with vegan cheese sauce topping (3 green, 1 yellow, 1 teaspoon); black bean burger (1 red, 1/2 yellow)
  • caesar salad with [unpictured] roasted chickpeas (2 greens, 1 red, 1 blue, 1 orange, 1/2 yellow);mixed berries on the side (1.5 purple)

Food Prep Ideas for Hammer & Chisel or 21 Day Fix!

I admit, the croutons aren’t an approved food. :) But feel free to leave them out or make your own croutons with whole grain bread!

Food Prep Ideas for Hammer & Chisel or 21 Day Fix!

Omnivore lunches:

  • balsamic marinated flat iron steak (2 reds, 1 teaspoon); sautéed broccoli, mushrooms, and onions (2 greens); roasted sweet potatoes (2 yellows)
  • chicken cesar salad (2 reds, 2 greens, 1 blue, 1 orange, 1/2 yellow); mixed berries on the side (1.5 purples)

Food Prep Ideas for Hammer & Chisel or 21 Day Fix!

If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to Pin  the image below! :)

Herbivore and Omnivore ideas for healthy food prep!

If you’re interested in the nutrition plans I’ve been talking about then just let me know and I can give you more info!

See you next time!

-Lauren

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Prep for Success!

Being a busy working lady means LOTS of opportunities for excuses. I’m learning this more and more every day! But every time I make a mistake I try and figure out what went wrong. I know for a fact that when I have a healthy option prepped and ready to go, I am infinitely more likely to make the healthy choice. Makes sense, right? So when Jason and I started Hammer and Chisel (an awesome workout/nutrition program) last month, I knew I wanted to start off right by doing some food prep. I set aside a few hours on a Saturday and got to work.

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The first thing I made was egg cups! I wanted to include plenty of veggies so I added onions, spinach, and bell pepper inside. A little cheese on mine and some turkey bacon + cheese for Jason’s! These were SO convenient for the mornings.

The Hammer & Chisel nutrition plan has a certain amount of fruit that you’re supposed to eat every day. I am a HUGE lover of fruit, but it can be kind of tough in the winter when there aren’t as many fruits in season. To make sure we didn’t skip our fruit I washed and portioned out single servings of grapes and cara cara oranges.

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Here are some more ideas for healthy things you can prep in advance:

  • Parfaits with greek yogurt, granola, and berries
  • Sliced bell peppers and cucumbers to dip in hummus
  • Fruit salad
  • Egg salad (use greek yogurt to replace some or all of the mayo!)
  • Homemade trail mix
  • Overnight oats

We’re loving Hammer & Chisel so far! I hung the nutrition plan up in our kitchen for easy reference. The plan doesn’t restrict my food intake at all (who wants to be restricted?? not me! not ever!), it just ensures that we’re eating the right proportions of each food group.

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This is one of the dinners we enjoyed in our first week of the plan:

Spring mix salad, barley, balsamic glazed salmon

That’s a spring mix salad dressed with fig balsamic vinegar, barley, and balsamic glazed salmon. Drooling just thinking about it!

See you next time, friends!

-Lauren

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Eating and Being Merry

I hope you all had wonderful holidays! I thought the new year would be a perfect time to catch you up on all we’ve been doing this holiday season. It’s been quite the whirlwind!

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The season started in New Jersey where we spent Thanksgiving with Jason’s family. My in-laws are great cooks so all the food was amazing!

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I think it was great for Jason to get to spend the holiday back home with his family. Just look at that face!

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When we got back I started preparing for my most favorite time of year! We decked out the house (including a real live Christmas tree for the first time in my life!) and I decided to host Christmas Eve dinner at our place. Jason’s family usually does a seafood dinner that night, so I decided it would be fun to do the full feast of seven fishes. It’s a traditional Italian/Italian-American meal and it’s a really special way to celebrate the holiday. The feast takes quite a bit of preparation and so it was nice to have some snacks beforehand when all our guests (my family) were at our house and hungry! Almonds to the rescue!

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These almonds go great with cheese and olives as an appetizer! They aren’t as salted as other varieties so they’re perfect with sharp cheeses like aged cheddar or aged provolone. After our appetizer course we were ready to continue the feast! Jason made linguine and clams for the pasta course:

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And then after a little breather we continued on with dishes like filet of sole, fried shrimp, broccoli rabe, roasted cauliflower, potato croquettes, and even oysters!

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It was quite a lovely evening with my family. There’s nothing better (really, can’t think of anything) than sharing a meal with people you love.

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We’ve been back in Atlanta for a couple years now, but it’s still so crazy to me that we can just call up my family and they’re only minutes away!

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But the holiday fun did not end there! No no! My beautiful friend Katherine came to town to celebrate New Year’s Eve and just generally have an awesome time. We ate a ton, talked a ton, laughed a ton, and danced a ton. Just how it should be!

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Cheers to a fabulous 2016 full of more delicious food and merriment.

Thanks for reading!

-Lauren

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. All opinions are my own. Check out Blue Diamond on their website or on Facebook!

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A veggie dish you will not be able to stop eating! Flavorful, savory roasted cauliflower!

Well if there was ever a good reason to come out of an unintentional hiatus from your food blog, roasted cauliflower is it.

A veggie dish you will not be able to stop eating! Flavorful, savory roasted cauliflower!

When I realized that it was November (don’t ask me how that happened), I decided that I needed to get my act together and share some awesome plant-based recipes for Thanksgiving! Things may be busy, but I’m never too busy for the best food holiday of the year. If you haven’t tried roasted cauliflower before, you will NOT be disappointed by this. Steamed cauliflower can be very mediocre, but when it’s roasted it suddenly becomes irresistible.

A veggie dish you will not be able to stop eating! Flavorful, savory roasted cauliflower!Roasted garlic takes everything to the next level. It takes a little bit of extra time to make, but it is so worth it for the flavor you get in return. It’s garlic at its finest. Don’t skip the roasted garlic!

roasted cauliflower-ingredient-0008This recipe uses an entire head of roasted garlic, but I recommend you go ahead and roast a few heads while you’re at it to use for other things in the kitchen (think pasta sauce, mashed potatoes, or even your eggs in the morning). The garlic gets blended together with lemon juice and olive oil to create a thick sauce that gets tossed into the cauliflower right at the end of its roasting. Honestly I think the same thing could be done to almost any vegetable and it would be just as amazing!

Addictive Garlic Roasted Cauliflower
 
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Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. Italian parsley
  • 2 T. pine nuts
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. While oven preheats, peel the outer skin (just the parts that peel off easily) from your head of garlic. With a sharp knife, cut off the top of the head so that the tip of each clove is exposed.
  3. Place the head of garlic onto a small sheet of aluminum foil and pour a generous amount of olive oil over the garlic. Wrap up in the foil.
  4. Roast the garlic inside the foil package for 45 minutes.
  5. While the garlic is roasting, core the cauliflower and cut the florets into bite-size pieces.
  6. Juice the lemon (should yield about 3 T. of juice) and set aside.
  7. Chop the parsley and set aside.
  8. Prepare the cauliflower for roasting by tossing it with 2 T. of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Spread evenly on a baking sheet.
  9. When the garlic is done roasting, remove it from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
  10. Roast the prepared cauliflower in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until it is tender and nicely browned, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  11. While the cauliflower is roasting, use a knife or your hands to remove the garlic cloves from their peels.
  12. Using a food processor, puree together the garlic cloves, lemon juice, and 2 T. olive oil.
  13. Remove the roasted cauliflower from the oven and toss in the garlic mixture and pine nuts with a spatula. Return pan to the oven for about 2 minutes, or just until the pine nuts have toasted.
  14. Serve with chopped parsley sprinkled on top and enjoy!

A veggie dish you will not be able to stop eating! Flavorful, savory roasted cauliflower!Trust me, trust me. I usually stay away from dramatic recipe titles but REALLY! I almost ate the entire head of cauliflower by myself.

A veggie dish you will not be able to stop eating! Flavorful, savory roasted cauliflower!Thanks for reading! I hope to be back very soon! I feel like it’s been forever since I caught you guys up on my life.

-Lauren

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