Ahi Poke Salad with Macadamia Nuts

We made it through the gluttony of the weekend and I’m sure you’re as eager as I am to get your eating back on track and get more clean foods and vegetables into our systems. This Ahi Poke Salad with Macadamia Nuts is the perfect solution.

Ahi Poke Salad with Macadamia Nuts | CaliGirl Cooking

I’ve been a big fan of the Hawaiian delicacy known as poke ever since I learned that, hey, raw fish is actually delicious and I was surrounded by it at every grocery store I shopped at when I lived in Hawaii. When you’re living in a state that has temperatures over 80 degrees almost every day of the year, you learn (very quickly) to love healthy foods that require no cooking over any type of heat source.

Even though poke has been on hand as a convenience food in Hawaii for many years, it has only just started making its way onto the mainland. I say it’s about time! There are “poke bowl” shops popping up all over and it’s now just as common to find poke on the menu at your favorite seafood restaurant as it is to find ceviche (at least in California, anyway.) But have no fear! Even if the poke craze hasn’t landed in your city yet, you can jump ahead of the trend and make this super-easy, incredibly healthy recipe on your own.

Ahi Poke Salad with Macadamia Nuts | CaliGirl Cooking

Speaking of healthy dishes you can make on your own, I’m excited to announce that I’ve partnered with my friends Tobias and Christel at The Fit Blog to start bringing you quick, easy, healthy meals on a more regular basis on their site. Tobias and Christel are certified personal trainers with a passion for bringing the healthy lifestyle to everyone, no matter your age, size or activity level. I love their message because they are all about finding the balanced lifestyle that is right for YOU, without prescribing any strict, crazy diet regimens. Basically, they speak my language!

If you’ve been following me for any period of time now, you’ll know that I am all about that balanced living. I believe that everyone is different, but that you can be healthy and happy without having to cut a ton of food groups out of your diet/give something up completely (unless you’re deathly allergic, that is.) I believe that it’s all about moderation and that, if you focus on primarily eating whole, unprocessed foods, and getting in consistent physical activity, the rest of your health will fall into place.

From the moment I started talking with Tobias and Christel, I knew that we would be a great fit for each other. They, too, champion an extremely balanced lifestyle, and the fact that they don’t have a ton of specific criteria for what they would/wouldn’t like to see in the recipes I contribute (as long as they’re nicely balanced) won me over right away.

That being said, this Ahi Poke Salad with Macadamia Nuts is my first recipe contribution to The Fit Blog, and I’m so excited to share it with you today as well. It’s incredibly easy to make, comes together in under 30 minutes, requires no cooking and is also super healthy and chock full of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids. It’s the perfect dish to fuel you up for (or help you recover from) a great workout. It’s filling yet won’t leave you feeling heavy. Plus, you can serve it in an avocado! How cute is that?

Ahi Poke Salad with Macadamia Nuts | CaliGirl Cooking

To get the deets on how to make my Ahi Poke Salad with Macadamia Nuts, click on over to The Fit Blog.

And if you make it, please be sure to tag @caligirlcooking so I can see your creations! Happy, healthy Wednesday everyone!

Ahi Poke Salad with Macadamia Nuts | CaliGirl Cooking

Spring Kale Salad with Honey-Tahini Dressing

Spring has sprung and I’m celebrating with this season’s rendition of my favorite kale salad.

Spring Kale Salad with Honey-Tahini Dressing | CaliGirl Cooking

I love kale salads because they are soooo versatile. Since the kale is so hearty, it can really stand up to just about anything. That means we can load this puppy up with all of the things, all of the healthy things! I’m totally digging it and soon you will be too.

But first, how was everyone’s weekend? Highlights? Lowlights? It was so nice getting to spend some quality time with my mom, brother and his fam, but I sure missed my honey while he was living it up at his Bachelor Party! Looking forward to the few days we have together before I turn around and head up north to Santa Cruz for my Bridal Shower next weekend, the wedding marathon has officially begun!

I’m most definitely going to be counting on more and more fresh, healthy dishes like this Spring Kale Salad to get me through these crazy times. I know I’ll have more energy (as I’m sitting here kicking myself for being so tired since I spent the entire morning cooking and shooting recipes for the blog and realized I forgot to eat a proper breakfast) and it will also help me keep my bod (and my skin!) on track for looking my best on the big day. It’s amazing what a difference you feel when you start paying attention to your body!

Spring Kale Salad with Honey-Tahini Dressing | CaliGirl Cooking

So, this kale salad. It’s pretty amazing. I basically went to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning and bought anything and everything that screamed “spring” at me and threw it all together in one big bowl. I then topped it with a delicious honey-tahini dressing featuring the Acacia Honey from one of my favorite new brands, Heavenly Organics. Not only do their honeys taste amazing, but they’re ethically harvested so that no bees are harmed in the process of making their delicious products. Pretty cool , huh? More to come on them in next week’s posts.

But back to our Spring Kale Salad with Honey-Tahini Dressing. As all kale salads are (or salads in general, for that matter), this recipe is completely customizable. I realize I live in Santa Barbara where we pretty much have viable produce all year round, but take advantage of what your local markets have, wherever you may be. That’s half the fun of it! My Farmer’s Market wins for this salad were some teensy, cute little radishes, some huge-ass English asparagus (no joke, we’re talking over a foot long), crisp sugar snap peas and some of the first fennel of the season (to name just a few.)

Spring Kale Salad with Honey-Tahini Dressing | CaliGirl Cooking

Now, there are always a few components you want to be sure you include in your salads: the fresh veggies (of course), but also something crunchy (which for me is usually some kind of toasted nut, in this case, hazelnuts), something sweet (I went for some of my favorite dates, the ones I used to make this and this) and as many fresh herbs as you can muster. Seriously, don’t skip the herbs. I know it sounds a bit tedious but they are such a game changer! You will not even believe what you had been missing in your pre-adding-fresh-herbs-to-your-salads days.

And of course, we have to talk about our Honey-Tahini Dressing. This one was a little off-the-cuff for me, since truthfully I’m usually a simple salad dressing kind of gal – olive oil and balsamic or lemon juice and I’m done. But I wanted to change things up a bit more from my Winter Kale Salad, so I whisked together some olive oil, lemon juice, tahini and honey, plus some garlic and a good pinch of salt, and man! It’s so delicious. In fact, the whole salad is sitting in the refrigerator right now “marinating” and I can’t wait to try it again at dinner time, once all of the flavors have melded together and soaked into our kale and hearty vegetables…..Yummmm!!!

Spring Kale Salad with Honey-Tahini Dressing | CaliGirl Cooking

The best part about this salad is that it’s REALLY easy, with hardly any cooking required. The only step that requires you to turn on any heat-emitting device is to quickly blanch the asparagus, and that’s for only about 5, max 10 minutes.

So what do you think? Are you ready to give it a whirl? Get thee to your city’s next Farmer’s Market and see what you can find. You’re definitely not going to regret this!

Spring Kale Salad with Honey-Tahini Dressing | CaliGirl Cooking

Spring Kale Salad with Honey-Tahini Dressing

Yield: Serves 4 as a main dish

A light and tasty spring rendition of everyone's favorite kale salad, finished with a creamy honey-tahini dressing.

Ingredients

    For the salad:
  • 2 cups asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, ribbed and chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 10 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ cups sugar snap peas, sliced diagonally
  • 2 cups sliced fresh fennel (approximately 1 large or 2-3 small bulbs)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 cup dates, pitted and chopped (about 10 dates)
  • 1 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
    For the dressing:
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. First, blanch the asparagus. Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil. While water is coming to a boil, prepare your ice bath. Take a medium mixing bowl and fill it about halfway (maybe a little more) with ice water. Once water on stove is boiling, add asparagus pieces for about 2 ½ minutes. Immediately remove from heat, strain, and add asparagus to ice bath. Let sit for another 2-3 minutes and then drain again. Set aside.
  2. Next, make the salad. Combine all remaining ingredients (including asparagus) in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Finally, make the dressing. In a small mixing bowl, combine all dressing ingredients using a whisk. Pour over salad; toss to combine.
  4. For best results, let salad sit and marinate for an hour or two before serving.

Notes

Wine Pairing Notes: As most green dishes do, this salad would pair wonderfully with an herbal, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc.

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Spring Kale Salad with Honey-Tahini Dressing | CaliGirl Cooking

Slay.

Mango Sriracha Hummus

Recovery food.

Mango Sriracha Hummus | CaliGirl Cooking

That’s what I’m dubbing this Mango Sriracha Hummus. Because I don’t know about you but I had a few too many delicious Easter foods yesterday and I’m in full on “bounce right back” mode for the coming week. How was everyone else’s weekend? Did the Easter bunny come and visit? Did you eat just as much delicious food as I did?

We had a lovely weekend catching up with both of our families and many hometown friends. It’s always such a whirlwind trip when we head north for just the weekend, but it’s so worth it. We squeeze in seeing as many people as we can every time!

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but one of my favorite things about cooking is tasting something that is amazingly delicious (say, a dish at a restaurant or a some sort of store-bought item) and then interpreting it into my own homemade recipe. Not only does this allow me to control  EXACTLY which ingredients go into the dish, but then I can also make it as often as I’d like! It’s a win-win situation.

Mango Sriracha Hummus | CaliGirl Cooking

This Mango Sriracha Hummus is just that type of dish. We were over at my brother and sister-in-law’s house the other weekend and they had bought a Mango Sriracha Hummus from the grocery store that was such a perfect mix of sweet and spicy flavors. I love me a good hummus (as evidenced by this Pumpkin Curry Hummus I posted a while back) so I was immediately inspired to recreate it on my own.

And it was so easy! We simply add chunks of fresh mango into our typical chickpea-tahini-garlic-olive oil mixture as well as a few dashes of sriracha (or more, depending on how spicy you want the hummus to be.) I used a food processor as I find this more easily lends the creaminess I’m looking for in my hummus, but you could also use a high-powered blender.

Because the mango adds a little bit of extra moisture, we drizzle the olive oil in last, as we’re whirring the food processor, just enough to give the hummus the perfect, perfectly dippable, consistency.

Mango Sriracha Hummus | CaliGirl Cooking

Mango Sriracha Hummus | CaliGirl Cooking

We serve our Mango Sriracha Hummus the same way we’d serve any hummus, with tortilla chips, pita chips, and/or any assortment of fresh vegetables. It’s the perfect healthy snack as we’re recovering from a fun holiday weekend, and the perfect kick-off to a week of clean eating for me and the future hubs. Do I have any other brides-to-be out there? What are your favorite healthy snacks as your prepping for the big day? I’m always looking for more ideas!

Mango Sriracha Hummus

Yield: Makes about 2 cups

A sweet and spicy hummus with a tropical twist. The perfect healthy snack!

Ingredients

  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup fresh mango, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients up to the cayenne in a food processor. Run food processor until mixture begins to combine. With the food processor running, slowly stream in the olive oil until the mixture reaches the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper as needed and pulse to combine. For best results, chill for at least 15-20 minutes before serving.
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Mango Sriracha Hummus | CaliGirl Cooking

A big bowl of wholesome deliciousness.

Shrimp Ceviche with Papaya

Things are gettin’ real.

Shrimp Ceviche with Papaya | CaliGirl Cooking

It’s officially less than five months until I say I do! Annnndddddd…I picked up my wedding dress this weekend! It was somewhat surreal. You see, contrary to most brides, picking out my wedding dress was not a huge production. I literally went to the bridal salon with my mom, my sister-in-law, and my niece a few months after Chris and I got engaged, with the best intentions of simply trying on a few dresses and getting a feel for what I wanted. But then. Oh but then. I tried on the last dress and absolutely fell in love. I fell so in love that we had my dad drive down to meet us (I had promised him I wouldn’t buy a dress without his review and approval) and we ordered it on the spot that day.

So, this was way back in August, and I have been waiting patiently for it (or sometimes not so patiently) ever since. And Saturday was the big day! The dress came into the shop, my sis drove down from Santa Cruz to meet me, and we made a day of it.

Now, the moral of this story (aside from the fact that I am beyond excited that I now have my wedding dress in my possession) is that it gave me that extra kick in the booty to continue whipping myself into shape and eating clean, not so much to diet, but so that I feel amazing (both inside and out) on the big day. I seriously feel such a difference in my energy levels, my skin, and the way my body feels in general when I am feeding it whole, nutritious foods. Anyone else feel me on this?

Shrimp Ceviche with Papaya | CaliGirl Cooking

Side note –> I caved in and downloaded the Kayla Itsines app a little while ago and have now been doing the program for two weeks. I’m loving it! I’ve made sure to incorporate strength training into my workouts since forever, but in preparation for the wedding I wanted to mix things up a bit and give my body a little change of pace. I’m used to lifting heavier weights at a slower pace, but the Kayla Itsines app has you go through 28-minute high-intensity strength training circuits with mostly your body weight. It may just be wishful thinking but I feel like I’m seeing a difference already. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how I feel once I’m a month (and two months, etc.) out! Has anyone else done Kayla’s BBG programs? Thoughts?

Okay, back to eating clean, because that’s what today’s recipe is all about. Ceviche is one of my absolute favorite “clean eating” recipes. It is so refreshing and light, yet full of flavor from things like citrus, jalapeno, cilantro, tomato, etc. For this version, I decided to make a Shrimp Ceviche, and pump up the flavor (and nutritional benefits!) even more with the addition of some fresh papaya. Did you know that papaya is not only a great source of B & C vitamins, carotene and potassium, but it also does wonders for your digestion? I fell in love with papaya when I lived in Hawaii. Nothing like some sweet, juicy papaya with a squeeze of fresh lime juice after a long day in the sun!

Shrimp Ceviche with Papaya | CaliGirl Cooking

So it is what it is: Shrimp Ceviche with Papaya. This dish is full of so many healthy, yummy foods (not just the papaya!) We throw in the typical lime juice, mix it up with some blood orange juice for a nice blend of citrus (regular oranges work fine if blood oranges don’t happen to be in season), and also throw in some avocado in addition to the typical jalapenos, cilantro and tomato (all so amazingly good for you!) This is truly a “nutritional powerhouse” of a meal. And it’s so tasty! Almost like you’re eating salsa but with some great protein and healthy fats thrown into the mix.

The only (semi-scary) part is getting the raw shrimp “cooked through” with the lime juice. Trust me, I was worried about this too! But I included plenty of acid (from the lime and blood orange juices) in this recipe so you truly do not have to worry about it. Just let the mixture sit a little bit longer than the recommended 30 minutes before eating if you’re not sure. You just want to be sure that the shrimp has taken on a pinkish hue and is turning opaque. The dish really does get better the longer the flavors meld together!

Shrimp Ceviche with Papaya | CaliGirl Cooking

I think Shrimp Ceviche with Papaya is going to be my go-to weeknight dinner, cocktail party or weekend barbecue contribution for the foreseeable future. Waistline friendly and super tasty! Now how can we beat that?

Shrimp Ceviche with Papaya | CaliGirl Cooking

And for more clean eating inspiration, be sure to check out these other healthy recipes!

Shrimp Ceviche with Papaya

Yield: Serves 6-8

A refreshing, tasty and healthy shrimp ceviche with an extra dose of nutritiousness from fresh papaya.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Juice of 6 limes
  • Juice of 2 blood oranges
  • 1 cup diced papaya (about ¼ of a large papaya)
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 1 diced jalapeno, seeds removed
  • ½ cup diced tomato
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 avocado, diced

Instructions

  1. Remove tails from shrimp and cut into a small dice. Add to a large non-reactive (i.e. glass or metal) bowl with lime and blood orange juices. Add papaya, cucumber, red onion, jalapeno and tomato.
  2. Cover bowl with saran wrap and place in refrigerator for at least a half hour, or until shrimp has turned slightly pink and opaque.
  3. Remove bowl from refrigerator and stir in avocado and cilantro. Serve in martini cups or in a large bowl with a side of tortilla chips. Keep over ice if ceviche will be out of refrigerator for a while (i.e at a party.)

Notes

Wine Pairing Suggestion: Depending on the level of sweetness you like in a wine, I’d highly recommend a light, grassy Sauvignon Blanc such as this (for dry wine lovers) or a slightly off-dry Riesling such as this (for sweeter wine lovers.) The grassy, herbaceousness of the Sauvignon Blanc will pair nicely with all of the fresh flavors in the ceviche, while sweet, nectar-quality of the Riesling will help counteract any heat from the jalapeno.

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Shrimp Ceviche with Papaya | CaliGirl Cooking

Eat the rainbow.

Winter Kale Salad

New year, new me.

Winter Kale Salad | CaliGirl Cooking

Isn’t that what we all say? Yes, it may be cliché, but I do think the start of a new year is a great time to perhaps not necessarily make “resolutions” but rather goals or aspirations for the next twelve months.

This year I splurged and bought myself one of these planners to help map out my life and my goals for growth in 2016. Last week I sat down and started writing out all of my intentions, and I must say it was such an inspiration for me and the great way to end 2015. Even if you don’t use a Day Designer like I’ve decided to (although I highly recommend it), I encourage you to take a moment and write down what you hope to accomplish in three, six, nine and 12 months and put it all on a calendar, so it’s there for you to see every single day.

Winter Kale Salad | CaliGirl Cooking

I am so excited for this next year, not only for what I believe it has in store for this little blog of mine, but because I also get to marry my best friend. As soon as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, Chris and I looked at each other and said “We get to get married this year!” We’ve been planning our special day since May, so it’s exciting when the calendar finally turns to the actual year in which the big day happens.

Because our wedding is this summer, we decided that the turn of the new year would be the perfect time for us to start cleaning up our eating habits a bit and focus on becoming as healthy as we can be for not only our wedding, but to start out our lives together as a married couple. We generally eat fairly healthy (with a strong focus on whole, homemade foods rather than packaged foods riddled with extra preservatives) but we all know what havoc the holidays can wreck on those habits. I mean, you just can’t turn down holiday M&M’s or all of the baked goods that get thrust upon you in the last month of the year.

Our goal for the New Year is to simply limit our guilty pleasures (I’m looking at you, cheese) and focus on creative recipes incorporating clean and tasty foods. Hence, the reason I am sharing this incredibly taste Winter Kale Salad with you today. When I lived in Napa, one of my chef friends (hi, Izzy!) taught me a great template for making a kale salad bursting with flavor, and not one that tastes like you’re chewing on cardboard.

Winter Kale Salad | CaliGirl Cooking

The main techniques that make this particularly taste kale salad are:

  • Making it at least a few hours (and even better, a day) in advance to let the dressing really marinate the kale and soften it up.
  • Including a combination of strongly flavored ingredients such as shallots and fresh herbs.
  • Chopping everything up into bite-sized pieces makes it easier to get the perfect balance of flavors in every bite.

As you can see, the outline is basic and you certainly do not have to stick to all of these EXACT same ingredients every time you make a kale salad. I used a variety of winter vegetables (mainly root vegetables) for this version, but come spring, summer and fall I’m sure I’ll be bringing this recipe back and sharing some other variations with you.

Winter Kale Salad | CaliGirl Cooking

 

I brought this Winter Kale Salad over to my brother’s house last night and let me just say it was devoured. There is a perfect balance of flavors: a slight sweetness from the roasted beets, a crunch from the slivered almonds, and acidity from the lemon juice to name a few.

Winter Kale Salad | CaliGirl Cooking

If there’s a particular vegetable you’re not too fond of, by all means substitute in something else. I love kale salads because they are hearty and can be made in advance (as I mentioned, they even get better with time, up to a point.) They can hold up to quite a bit, and are a great showcase for so many different herbs and vegetables. This Winter Kale Salad is great with a warming soup for a light and healthy dinner, or just add some grilled chicken or other protein to the salad itself and you have a filling lunch to take to the office.

Winter Kale Salad | CaliGirl Cooking

Do you have a favorite winter salad recipe that you love to kick off the New Year with?

Here’s to a healthy, happy 2016 and to realizing all of our goals and intentions!

Winter Kale Salad

Yield: Serves 8 as a side dish or 4 as a main dish.

A tasty and refreshing kale salad with winter vegetables and fresh herbs.

Ingredients

  • 1 golden beet, peeled and diced
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 watermelon radish, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate arils
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a small jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray or coconut oil spray. Place diced beets on pan and drizzle with olive oil or spray with more coconut oil spray. Sprinkle on salt and pepper.
  2. Place beets in oven and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes, or until you can easily poke a fork in them. You may want to check on them about halfway through and give them a little stir for more even cooking. Remove from oven when done and let cool.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add all of the vegetables, fruit and herbs. Squeeze on lemon juice and drizzle olive oil over top. Toss to coat and then add salt and pepper to taste. Place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to a day.

Notes

Wine Pairing Notes: Because of the fresh and yet hearty qualities of this salad, it would pair equally well with a light Pinot Noir as it would a grassy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

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Winter Kale Salad | CaliGirl Cooking

I feel the healthiness just looking at it!