Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls

All hail the hidden veggies!!

A close-up look at a delicious Hidden Veggie Acai Bowl from CaliGirl Cooking. The perfect healthy breakfast even the pickiest of eaters will love!

Seriously, who doesn’t want a HUGE serving of vegetables hidden into one of the most delicious acai bowls of all time? If you’re a fruit/breakfast fanatic like me and like to start your day off on the right foot, these Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls are for you.


And, speaking of hidden veggies, if you have picky eaters in your household (ahem, kids) you’re going to LOVE the fact that there is tons of broccoli and spinach packed into each and every one of these bowls.

Back in the day, when I first moved to Santa Barbara, I was living with my brother and sister-in-law and their three young kids until I found a place I could settle into on my own. As part of my “rent,” I’d try to cook for them as much as possible. As most families with young kids do, my bro and SIL were always struggling to get their kids to eat anything besides carbs and fruit. So, I took it upon myself to help them sneak some goodness into their diets in any way we could.

Some of the biggest hits I created for the kids were Hidden Veggie Popsicles. I’d basically whip up a smoothie with kale, carrots and sometimes even avocado the night before, poured the smoothie into a popsicle mold, and first thing in the morning there would be delicious, healthy POPSICLES waiting for the kids for breakfast. I mean, who doesn’t want popsicles for breakfast? They were a huge hit.

A healthy serving of Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls. Your answer to a quick, easy and healthy breakfast!

Fast forward to almost four years later, now I’m trying to sneak as many vegetables into my diet as possible with my ever-changing preggo mama appetite. Throughout my first whole trimester, veggies were not my friend. I’m normally a huge salad eater, but a big bowl of raw greens was the LAST thing I even wanted to think about eating.

Luckily, my healthy appetite for fruit has maintained throughout the duration of my pregnancy (and will hopefully continue to!) I’ve been able to drink our Power Protein Smoothies we make almost every day, which do also have some kale mixed in, and if I’m looking for a healthy snack in the afternoon, a piece of fruit (most likely paired with cheese) is the first thing I’ll grab out of the refrigerator.

On the weekends, the hubs usually spoils me with eggs, bacon, the works, but occasionally we’ll have some place we need to be in the morning and thus need a quick, healthy breakfast to get our day started on the right foot. On these days, you can most likely find us at Backyard Bowls, Santa Barbara’s acai bowl/smoothie mecca that is basically amazing beyond words.

I’ll usually order either their PB&J Quinoa Bowl if I’m in the mood for a warm, belly-filling meal, or their Green Bowl if I’m looking for something more refreshing. The Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls I’m sharing today are my own personal take on the Green Bowl, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to enjoy them just as much as I did!

These Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls from CaliGirl Cooking are the perfect healthy breakfast for picky eaters.

Here’s what you’re going to need: some banana for creaminess, and one more for your toppings (because aren’t the toppings some of the best things about basically eating a smoothie in a bowl?), frozen acai (find it at your local Whole Foods or TJ’s), frozen broccoli and fresh spinach (there’s your veggies!), frozen cherries, pineapple juice, lime juice and some fresh ginger (if you’re feeling adventurous.) I love the ginger for the zinginess it brings to the bowl, but you can easily leave it out if you or your kids aren’t really into such a distinct flavor.

Throw everything into a blender, top with the banana, some sliced strawberries, granola, honey and, my favorite, PEANUT BUTTER, and you’ll have such a delicious, crowd-pleasing breakfast that Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls will soon become the most requested breakfast at your kitchen table. Promise!

An overhead shot of delicious Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls. They'll be a huge hit with kids!

A close-up look at a delicious Hidden Veggie Acai Bowl from CaliGirl Cooking. The perfect healthy breakfast even the pickiest of eaters will love!
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Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

This healthy breakfast is packed with filling fruits and vegetables that will keep even the pickiest of eaters happy and full until lunch. 

Course: Breakfast
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 frozen acai pack
  • 1 banana, plus 1 additional for topping
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger (optional)
  • Sliced strawberries, your favorite granola, honey and peanut butter, for topping
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients except toppings in a blender and blend until smooth. 

  2. Pour blender contents into one larger cereal bowl (or two smaller ones) and garnish with desired toppings.

  3. Enjoy immediately!

Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls | CaliGirlCooking.com

Cherry Salsa

My cherry obsession is still going strong…

A bowl of delicious Cherry Salsa just waiting to be eaten with your favorite tortilla chips!

I honestly can’t get enough! Do you ever obsess about a certain produce item coming into season so much that your list of what to do with it is about a mile long? Hi, yea, looking at me right here. This Cherry Salsa is just another in the long list of recipe ideas I’ve been dreaming about since cherries went out of season last year, and I’m so excited about the way it turned out!


I know I’ve been inundating you with the cherry recipes lately, so I can only hope that you’re enjoying these Cherry Bourbon Breezes and this Herbed Cherry and Ricotta Crostini as much as I am. If so, I’m confident that you’ll be totally digging on this Cherry Salsa as well.

It’s an easy recipe, with no cooking involved, that can easily be served up on its own as an appetizer or snack, or as a topping for your favorite barbecued meat (I have some juicy grilled pork chops in mind.) Might I also mention it would be the perfect addition to your Father’s Day menu this weekend?

This Cherry Salsa is the perfect appetizer or snack for any barbecue or family get-together you're having this weekend!

Speaking of, what are your plans for celebrating Dad on Sunday? We’re so lucky that both of our dads live relatively close to each other, so we’re heading up to the Bay Area to spend some quality time with them, and of course to make them some delicious food!

I think some Cherry Salsa might definitely need to make an appearance alongside the tri tip, chicken and sausages we’re already planning on serving. Still need to think of some more sides and dessert though. Any fun suggestions?

As I mentioned above, this Cherry Salsa is a breeze to make, and you can have it ready to serve in under 20 minutes. It involves basically all of the same ingredients as a regular pico de gallo salsa, but subs in fresh, pitted cherries instead of  tomatoes. That’s it! So easy, right?

Fresh cherries, rinsed and ready to be made into delicious Cherry Salsa!

And if you’re looking for another, more traditional salsa to serve alongside (or instead) of this one, be sure to check out my Spicy Homemade Salsa. You could even go with a fancy selection and add this Mango Salsa to the mix! Clearly I’m a salsa-lover and I’m not ashamed to show it.

Even if you have no plans for Father’s Day, this Cherry Salsa needs to make an appearance in your household in the next week. Cherries are at the top of their game right now and you wouldn’t want to miss out on another great opportunity to use them.

An overhead shot of a big bowl of delicious Cherry Salsa.

Happy Monday and I hope your week is made even better with this delicious recipe!

A bowl of delicious Cherry Salsa just waiting to be eaten with your favorite tortilla chips!
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Cherry Salsa

A fun take on everyone's favorite Mexican condiment, this salsa uses the season's best fresh cherries in lieu of tomatoes - a delicious twist!

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Servings: 6 people
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces fresh red cherries, pitted and diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate for a half hour or so for best results. Serve with tortilla chips!

Cherry Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher

The perfect way to get ready for the weekend!

Two frosty glasses of the Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher mocktail. You can also make it a cocktail by adding vodka or gin!

It’s no secret that I love alllllll the tropical flavors. I mean, just take a quick glance through my Recipe Index and you’ll find everything from this Belizean Rum Punch to this Li Hing Pineapple Margarita. And now that it’s (almost) officially summer, they’re just going to keep on coming starting with this Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher!


If you’re new to these parts, you can take a look at this Lightened Up Double Strawberry Milkshake post for all the deets on why I’m taking a little break from the heavily alcoholic beverages but, have no fear! Even if the drink recipes I’m posting don’t always contain alcohol as is, I’ll always provide a recommendation for a good way to booze them up a little bit 😉 (I mean, someone around here’s got to have a little fun, right??)

But before I get to my new fave Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher, tell me, what fun things are you up to this weekend? I, for one, am really looking forward to relaxing and just getting my head on straight. I recently took a part-time copyrighting job for a beverage company and it has definitely been keeping me busy. I’ve been working 14-hour days (between the blog and this new gig,) waking up early and going to bed a little later than usual for this preggo mama. I’ve just gotten the bulk of a big project out of the way, though, so I’m looking forward to regrouping, maybe heading to the beach, and just getting some extra sleep over the next couple of days!

A single ice-cold glass of the Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher mocktail or cocktail!

I will also most likely be sipping on plenty of Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refreshers. Since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve really been conscious of not going overboard on the nonalcoholic beverages, whose empty calories can really add up over time (Baby D. needs real, filling nutrients, not empty calories!) What I love about this Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher is that it’s actually REALLY healthy, with hardly any sugar (save for a little bit of simple syrup.)

The lemon and lime juices are giving me (and baby) an extra dose of Vitamin C, while the coconut water and club soda make the drink incredibly hydrating. So there’s definitely no need for me to feel guilty when I’m sipping one of these and relaxing on a sunny beach this weekend!

An overhead shot of the tasty Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher.

The other great thing about this mocktail is that, if you’re anything like me, you probably already have just all of these ingredients on hand in your pantry or refrigerator. And if you aren’t well-stocked with bar accessories like simple syrup, just throw some water and sugar together in a pot to boil and simmer down and you’ll have a homemade batch ready in no time.

And for those of you who are still able to imbibe, I’d highly recommend either vodka or gin as the spirit of choice to spike these bad boys. I am personally more of a fan of gin because of its floral notes, but I also know there are a lot of you out there who would much rather go the less flavor-forward vodka route.

I’m keeping it fairly short today because there are a lot of tasks I still need to complete before kicking off my weekend with a Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher, but enjoy your Friday and, if you can, enjoy a spiked version or two for me!

This Hydrating Citrus Coconut refresher is nonalcoholic, but can easily be made into a cocktail with the addition of vodka or gin!

Two frosty glasses of the Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher mocktail. You can also make it a cocktail by adding vodka or gin!
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Hydrating Citrus Coconut Refresher
Prep Time
5 mins
 

The perfect, healthy mocktail for summer featuring two types of fresh citrus, hydrating coconut water and fizzy club soda. Make it boozy with vodka or gin!

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces coconut water
  • 2 ounces club soda
  • Optional: 2 ounces vodka or gin
Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients except the club soda in a cocktail shaker filled ¾ full with ice. Shake vigorously for 10-20 seconds and then strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with club soda and garnish with a lemon and lime wedge threaded onto a cocktail pick.

 Citrus Coconut Refresher | CaliGirlCooking.com

Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables

It’s summer time and the cooking is easy!

A close-up view of Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables, featuring Frontier Co-Op's Oregano Leaf.
This post is sponsored by Frontier Co-Op.

At least that’s what we like to think, right? Memorial Day is behind us, which means we’re heading full-throttle into warm weather eats. And what better way to #SpiceUpSummer than with top-quality herbs and spices?

Today I’m partnering with Frontier Co-Op to bring you this incredibly fresh and delicious Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables, which I can guarantee is going to become one of your go-to meals over the next few months. It’s loaded with the best in-season flavor – Frontier’s own Oregano Leaf, tons of lemon juice and a touch of cayenne pepper – and since it uses just one dish, it’s incredibly easy to whip up on any night of the week with minimal cleanup. If you ask me, there’s no better way to #CookWithPurpose, one of Frontier’s main initiatives this summer.


I love working with Frontier Co-Op because of this very message. To them, it’s all about working together to create sustainable, high-quality products that bring people together through delicious food. And you know I’m all about that!

Beautiful Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables made with Frontier Co-Op's Oregano Leaf. The perfect one-dish meal for summer!

Herbs and spices are some of the best tools we can use to accomplish this. They add so much incredible flavor to a recipe for very few calories, which makes healthy, delicious cooking easier than ever. They’re also perfect for those hot summer days when you want to pull together a wholesome, nutritious meal with minimal time spent slaving away over the stove or in the kitchen.

This Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables most definitely falls into the quick-to-make/easy-to-cleanup/loads-of-flavor category. All it takes is a half-hour marinade for the fish, 20 minutes in the oven, and a tableful of hungry people.

An overhead shot of Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables featuring Frontier Co-Op's Oregano Leaf.

I opted for sea bass for this particular recipe because it looked the best at the store, but you can really use any firm white fish. Just make sure all of your filets are about the same thickness so they cook evenly in the oven.

The sea bass (or whichever fish you opt to use) gets marinated in a tasty blend of Frontier Co-Op Oregano Leaf, fresh garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. This imparts all of those delicious flavors throughout the filets, so you get all of the deliciousness in every single bite. Plus, since we’re working with fairly delicate fish, it only needs a half-hour marinade. Because when we’re trying to #CookWithPurpose, we don’t want to waste away an entire evening waiting for our dinner to be ready!

Once you have the sea bass part of your Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables ready to go, prepping the vegetables is easy. Feel free to use your creative license here, but I opted for zucchini, red baby potatoes and fresh corn. Oh, and shallots, because shallots make everything better. The “do” for these is even easier than the marinade for the fish. We’re bathing our veggies in a simple dressing of olive oil, more oregano, salt and pepper. It really doesn’t take much when we have all of those amazing flavors going on with our fish.

We give the vegetables a little head start in the oven to make sure they have time to cook all the way through, then we add the sea bass for the last 12-15 minutes. It won’t take long for all of the delicious smells from the Oregano Leaf and lemon juice to start wafting through the house, so it’s a good thing you won’t have to wait too long before enjoying!

Individually plated Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables featuring Frontier Co-Op's Oregano Leaf.

What are your favorite warm weather recipes featuring herbs and spices? How are you going to #SpiceUpSummer this year?

Beautiful Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables made with Frontier Co-Op's Oregano Leaf. The perfect one-dish meal for summer!
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Mediterranean Sea Bass over Summer Roasted Vegetables
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
1 hrs
 

The perfect, healthy, one-dish meal featuring fresh sea bass and summer's best produce, with tons of zesty Mediterranean flavor.

Course: Main Course
Servings: 4 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the fish:
  • 4 pieces of sea bass filet (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Frontier Co-Op Oregano Leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Frontier Co-Op Cayenne
For the vegetables:
  • 4 baby red potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 zucchini, cut into thin disks
  • 3 ears of corn, shucked and kernels cut off the cob
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Frontier Co-Op Oregano Leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Combine sea bass and all other marinade ingredients in a large, resealable plastic bag, making sure the marinade covers the fish fairly evenly. Place bag in refrigerator to marinate for about 30 minutes.

  2. Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

  3. Next, prep the vegetables. Toss all vegetable ingredients together in a large casserole dish. Once oven is preheated, place vegetables in for 5-10 minutes.

  4. Remove vegetables from oven (do not turn off oven) and place the marinated sea bass filets over top. Return casserole dish to the oven and bake for another 12-15 minutes, or until the sea bass is cooked through. Serve immediately.

Spicy Homemade Salsa

Hey, hey, hey friends!

Spicy Homemade Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

I am so excited for today’s post because I’ve partnered up with some of my favorite event and wedding planning babes, A Savvy Lifestyle, to bring you the most delicious Spicy Homemade Salsa you’ve ever tasted. I’m serious here. If you like spicy, you’re going to LOVE this. You probably won’t even be able to put down the chips. It’s a good thing the recipe makes a huge batch so you just might be willing to share some with your friends for your Cinco de Mayo get-together!


I have to tell you a little story about the Savvy group because they really are a special bunch. When my husband and I first got engaged, one of the first people I told was my good friend Brittany who also happens to be a wedding planner. Now, I used to be an event planner but I am definitely no expert in weddings, so I needed all of the help I could get! Brittany just so happens to work for A Savvy Lifestyle’s parent company, A Savvy Event, so I knew I would be in good hands with her.

Seeing as we wanted her to be able to actually ENJOY our wedding (and not have to work for once!) she quickly connected us with one of her amazing coworkers, Jamie, to be our actual planner leading up to and the day of the event. All spare you all of the lovey-dovey, romantic details of our wedding planning process, but let’s just say it was so special to work so closely with such an amazingly friendly group of talented ladies! So when they asked me to contribute a festive Cinco de Mayo recipe for their lifestyle brand, I jumped at the chance.

Spicy Homemade Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

Coincidentally, this recipe is one that my husband has had in his arsenal since his good ol’ Isla Vista college days, so we’re putting our marriage to work to bring you this Spicy Homemade Salsa! We whip up a batch whenever we’re having a barbecue, family get-together or pretty much any other large gathering of people, and it’s always a hit, especially with our spice-lovers!

Seriously though, the spice-level on this recipe (as written) is not for the faint of heart. But there is some great news that goes along with that so as not to totally scare you away:

  1. When I say the salsa is “spicy,” think of it as a slow, gradual buildup. It doesn’t hit you all at once, and it certainly doesn’t burn off all of your taste buds with the first bite. I’d say if you normally buy “medium” salsa at the store, you’ll easily be able to tolerate at least small doses of this recipe as is.
  2. If you’re REALLY averse/sensitive to heat, you can easily just cut down the amount of habaneros used, or even use seeded jalapenos instead. Once you take the seeds out, peppers really just add flavor and hardly any spice at all.

The most recent evolution of this recipe, which you can find here in the A Savvy Lifestyle post, is our addition of some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Seriously, do not skip this step if you can at all help it. The smokiness of the peppers adds such a fantastic flavor to the salsa, it truly makes the dish three-dimensional and out of this world.

Spicy Homemade Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

CLICK HERE FOR THE SPICY HOMEMADE SALSA RECIPE!

So what are your plans for Cinco de Mayo? I for one am headed out to Salt Lake City tonight through Sunday for the Everything Food Conference, so no big Cinco celebration for me this year, but I am beyond excited. This will be the first full-on “food blogging” conference that I’ve attended and I’ve already got so many brands and people on my list to meet I just know it’s going to be a blast and go by way too fast. If for any reason you’re headed that way as well, be sure to drop me a line so we can connect!

So since I’ll be too busy mingling with my fellow bloggers and living it up in the SLC, do me a favor and enjoy some Spicy Homemade Salsa for me, will ya? And maybe a margarita or two?

Spicy Homemade Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

And be sure to check out A Savvy Lifestyle for the recipe and tons of other great posts about events, wine country and so much more!!