Cantaloupe and Avocado Salad with Agave-Lime Dressing

Cantaloupe and Avocado Salad - Mimi's Fit Foods

Ok. Ok.  So, this might seem like a weird combination.  However, let me be the one to convince you that it is a mightily GREAT combination.  We like both cantaloupe and avocado in our house.  We like it a lot.  We also love lime.  Thus, I knew I had to give this a whirl to see if the flavors would meld well together.  Oh man!  We love cantaloupe, avocado, and lime EVEN more now.  This salad was screaming SUMMER and it tasted fresh, with a hint of sweetness, as well as a hint of tartness.  It was a perfect side dish to our dinner.  My cute little baby even GOBBLED this right up.  I seriously put a good portion size on her serving tray, turned around to do something, turned back around to check on her, and it was all gone and she was begging for more.  I kind of wish I could act like a baby sometimes and cry and grunt for more too . . . even when I know I’ve had way over my portion allotment.

I’m SUPER glad I found this recipe and had the curiosity to try it because it’s going to make several more appearances at our lunch/dinner table (and probably others too when we are asked to bring fruit to the next BBQ) this summer.  It’s not only unique, but so, so, so, SO good.

Cantaloupe and Avocado Salad2 - Mimi's Fit Foods

Cantaloupe and Avocado Salad with Agave-Lime Dressing
Adapted from Whole Living

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Agave Nectar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
1 cantaloupe (3 pounds), quartered and seeded
1 avocado, halved, pitted, and skinned

In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, Agave, oil, and salt; set aside.

Cut each cantaloupe quarter in half lengthwise.  Run a knife between the flesh and the sin of the melon; discard skin.  Cut each wedge into 1/2-inch pieces.

Cut each avocado half again length-wise and then into 1/2-inch-thick chunks.  Add cantaloupe, avocado to bowl with dressing and toss to coat.  Divide among 6 plates.

Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 1/6 the Recipe)
Calories:  142
Protein:  1.9g
Carbs:  18.9g
Fat:  7.5g (0.4g = Sat.)
Fiber:  2.2g
Sugars:  14.6g

*Note:  If looking to cut calories, you can cut the dressing in half.  There is PLENTY of dressing, so that wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice in flavor and will cut about 20 calories.  You can also eliminate the avocado which will save an additional 45 calories.  (So, if you eat this with half the dressing and no avocado your calorie count will be closer to 82.)

Watermelon, Strawberry, and Feta Salad With Balsamic Reduction

Watermelon, Strawberry, and Feta Salad With a Balsamic Reduction - Mimi's Fit Foods

Those of you who have had tried a balsamic reduction over your fruit know exactly where I’m coming from on this post.  Those of you who have not tried such a thing . . . well, it’s time you jumped on the wagon because you’re seriously missing out.  I know, I know.  It sounds completely weird and it’s hard to even imagine that such a concoction would taste so awesome.  But, I’m here to tell you that it is seriously awesome!

My sister-in-law reminded me of this beautiful combination when we had lunch a couple of weeks ago.  I was then asked to bring fruit to a family party and I didn’t even think twice about what I would take.  I put the fruit in a big bowl and then allowed everyone to add their desired amount of balsamic reduction and feta cheese to their own portions.  This worked out perfectly because most of the kids just had plain fruit while several of the adults had the more “sophisticated” salad.  I’ve been eating this for a snack or side dish almost every day since (because the balsamic reduction goes a LONG way).  It’s sweet and savory all at the same time.  If you haven’t tried this, you just have to give it a whirl.  If you have tried it, may this be your mouth-watering reminder to make it again.

Have I mentioned how much I love summer?

Watermelon, Strawberry, and Feta Salad With Balsamic Reduction

1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
watermelon, cubed
strawberries, sliced
reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled

Place balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring just to a boil, and then turn down the heat so that the boil reduces to a simmer.  Stir occasionally and allow to simmer until the vinegar has reduced by at least half (for a thinner reduction) or to about 1/4 cup (for a more syrupy consistency – which is what I prefer).  This can take up to 20 minutes.  Allow to cool and transfer to an airtight container.  You can store the balsamic reduction in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For each serving, place about a cup of mixed fruit (watermelon/strawberries) on a plate.  Drizzle with balsamic reduction and 1 tablespoon feta cheese.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving)
Calories:  66.3
Protein:  2.4g
Carbs:  12.8g
Fat:  1.3g (0.6g = Sat.)
Fiber:  2.3g
Sugars:  9.4g

Fresh Raspberry Freezer Jam With Agave

Fresh Raspberry Freezer Jam With Agave Nectar - Mimi's Fit Foods

I grew up on homemade jam.  I have a HUGE preference for the stuff over store-bought jams.  There’s just something about the freshness and the quality of doing it yourself.  Most homemade jams are loaded with sugar (no wonder I’m in love with the stuff, right!?), which is still usually healthier than buying what you find on the grocery store shelf.  At least you don’t have all the preservatives and such.  This year I decided to try making jam with an alternative sweetener.  I’m not a lover of large amounts of Splenda, so I decided to go with a more natural sweetener . . . Agave.

Agave is a sweet nectar that is plant-based.  It actually is a product of the agave cactus.  It most closely resembles honey in both texture and taste (although I think Agave is a little sweeter, which means we can use less of it as compared to honey).

The only tricky part about making this jam was finding a pectin that would respond to Agave so that I would still have that nice, jam consistency.  After doing my research, I decided to buy Pamona’s Pectin.  It’s not sold everywhere, but I’ve found that it is sold in most health food stores.  I bought mine at Good Earth without any problems.

One other issue I encountered was that I was slightly nervous about the consistency of the jam when I was done making it.  I was worried it wouldn’t set up and resemble the jam texture I am used to.  Thus, I put my jam in a large pot, brought it to a boil, and then immediately took it off the stove.  I put the jam into jars and as soon as it cooled, the consistency was perfect.  If you like your jam a little runnier, this step can be completely omitted.

The jam turned out beautifully, you guys!  It tastes so yummy and it still holds that freshness that I adore about freezer jam.  I will fully admit that it doesn’t taste as sweet as the traditional, sugar-loaded stuff.  But, it’s not far off.  And, for the calorie and sugar savings that my body will appreciate, I’m MORE than happy with the trade-off.

I’ve had several people ask me about how to make low-sugar jam, so I am now happy to offer a solution that I completely love.

Fresh Raspberry Freezer Jam with Agave
Slightly adapted from the Pamona Pectin Recipe

8 cups mashed raspberries
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups Agave
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons Pamona Pectin powder
5 tablespoons calcium water (comes in Pamona Pectin packet)

Wash and rinse jam containers (I used pint jars).

Prepare calcium water in a jar (as per Pamona instructions which is adding the entire calcium packet to about 3/4 cup water).  Set aside.

Prepare fruit.  Measure fruit into large bowl and add lemon juice and agave.  Sir well.

Bring water to a boil.  Put in food processor and add pectin powder.  Vent lid and blend 2 minutes until all powder is dissolved.

Add hot liquid pectin to suit; stir until well mixed.

Add calcium water from jar; stir well.

If jam does not seem to jell well, but runny jam in pan, bring to boil, and immediately remove from heat.  It jells when cool.  (Omit this step if you are satisfied with the consistency of your jam.)

Fill containers to within 1/2″ of top.  Put on lids.  Store in freezer immediately.  Keep in refrigerator to eat and after thawing.  Lasts about 1 week in refrigerator.

Makes approximately 5 1/2 – 6 pints.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 1 Tablespoon)
Calories:  11
Protein:  0.1g
Carbs:  2.8g
Fat:  0g
Fiber:  0.4g
Sugars:  2g

*For the record – Smucker’s Red Raspberry Jam contains 50 calories per tablespoon.  I’m feeling pretty good about my jam right about now.  🙂

Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Cranberry Orange Sauce with Cinnamon - The Best

Please!  I beg of you!  If you don’t already make your own cranberry sauce, start NOW.  It’s the easiest to make in the whole wide world and it tastes so fresh and flavorful that you will kick yourself for not making it sooner.  Besides, then you know EXACTLY what’s in it, there’s no preservatives from the canned stuff, and well, it’s simply delicious!

It’s so easy to make because all you do it throw fresh cranberries in a saucepan, add water or juice, a little bit of sugar, and then you just simmer it until it thickens.  Easy peasy!

This is my most favorite version of cranberry sauce.  I LOVE the addition of orange and I have yet to find someone who doesn’t (however, if you are totally against the idea of adding orange . . . just substitute water in place of the juice).  The orange juice and zest allow us to use less sugar, but then it also elevates the flavor.  Win-Win!  I love to throw a cinnamon stick in the pan while it simmers.  You can’t REALLY taste much cinnamon flavor, but there is a slight hint.  Maybe I mostly just like the fact that it makes me feel super festive.  I admit it; I love the holidays and the smells of the holidays are DEFINITELY part of the love!  And, so is this delicious cranberry sauce.  I don’t let the holidays ever go by without it.  I seriously don’t think you should either!

In fact, may you should pair it with this super delicious turkey!  That’s what I did.

Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Adapted from Tyler Florence/Food Network

12 ounces cranberries, fresh
1 orange, zest, juiced and just into strips
1/3 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick

Put all the ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Serve at room temperature or cool and refrigerate.  Remove the cinnamon stick & orange slices before serving.

Makes just over 1 cup of sauce.
Serves 10.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 2 Tablespoons)
Calories:  46.5
Protein:  0.2g
Carbs:  11.9g
Fat:  0g
Fiber:  1.8g
Sugars:  8g

Banana Berry Baked Oatmeal

Oatmeal Baked with Blackberries, Raspberries, or Blueberries and Banana

It’s that time of year when it seems like most of us want something warm and comforting for breakfast (well, and the other meals too, right?).  I love making baked oatmeal year-round, but it seems like I make it a lot more during the fall/winter seasons.  I absolutely adore making this with apples and cranberries during this time of year, but this is another very delicious option.  The berries and banana add a perfect sweetness and the touch of cinnamon and maple syrup make this so good it’s hard to imagine that it’s actually good for you!

For whatever reason, baked oatmeal is magic.  People who don’t like to eat oatmeal, actually love these versions of baked oatmeal.  You’ll have to let me know if you end up making a believer out of you or your loved ones!

Banana Berry Baked Oatmeal
Adapted from Annie’s Eats

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar free maple syrup
1 cup skim milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 banana, peeled and sliced (about 1/4-inch slices)
1/2 cup fresh berries (blackberries, raspberries, or blueberries)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish.  In a medium bowl, combine the rolled oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Stir with a fork to combine.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine the maple syrup, milk, egg, and vanilla.  Spread the sliced bananas in a single layer over the bottom of the baking dish.  Sprinkle the dry oat mixture over the fruit in an even layer.  Pour the liquid ingredients evenly over the oats (I like to take the back of a fork and lightly press any of the dry oats into the liquid mixture to ensure every oat is wet).  Sprinkle the berries over the top.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is browned and the oats have set.  Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 3.

Nutritional Information Per Serving (1/3 of the Finished Recipe)
Calories:  210.8
Protein:  8.6g
Carbs:  38g
Fat:  4g (1.3g = Sat.)
Fiber:  5.1g
Sugars:  11.4g

Chili Salmon with Mango, Cucumber & Avocado Salsa

Salsa Includes Blueberries, Lime, and Jalapeño

Oh my!  This is SO my kind of dinner!  This seriously tastes like healthy summer on a plate.  The salmon is simply seasoned with chili powder and the salsa is sweet and fresh.  Of course the chili powder is a fabulous compliment to salsa, so it’s no wonder this all goes together beautifully.

The salsa is seriously SO good!  It’s so good that it’s kind of a little bit hard not to eat more than the appropriate portion size.  (You’ve been warned!)  I was pretty intrigued with the addition of blueberries in this salsa.  I’ve made and seen several variations of mango salsa, but none that included blueberries.  Let me tell you, it’s awesome!  The burst of the blueberry in the mouth along with the sweetness and tartness of the berry is a perfect compliment to the soft and sweet mango.  The cucumber adds a nice balance to the sweetness as well as good bulk to the salsa (without adding many calories).  You can’t have a salsa without some kind of pepper, so there is a jalapeño pepper in here and you can add as much as you want.  The majority of the heat comes from the ribs and seeds of the pepper so for a mild salsa, remove all the ribs and seeds, for a hot salsa, keep them in.  The avocado adds a richness and creaminess to the salsa that helps to made this stuff so addictive.  Last, but certainly not least, is the addition of  lime zest and lime juice.  This gives the perfect amount of acidity and zing to the salsa and makes it taste amazingly fresh.

This meal can be eaten for lunch or dinner.  We had it for dinner with a side salad.  I think I might start making the salsa for snacks and appetizers too.  It’s that good!

Chili Salmon with Mango, Cucumber, & Avocado Salsa
Adapted from The Chew

For the Salmon:
4 Skin-On Salmon Filets (4 oz. each)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
1 teaspoon Chili Powder

For the Salsa:
1 mango (cubed)
1/4 – 1/2 English cucumber (diced)
1 avocado (cubed)
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 – 1 jalapeno (seeded and minced)
juice and zest of 1 lime
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

For the Salsa: Toss all salsa ingredients in a medium bowl until well mixed (I use a rubber spatula so that the avocado doesn’t get mashed).  Set aside.

For the Salmon: Preheat a grill (outdoor or indoor . . . I used a charcoal grill for mine) to medium-high, and season lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon chili powder over each of the salmon filets. Season with salt and pepper, and place, skin-side down. After 2 to 3 minutes, flip, and continue to cook on other side for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 130F.

Serves 4.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving = 1 Filet & Approx. 1/2 Cup Salsa)
Calories:  284.5
Protein:  30.4g
Carbs:  15.1g
Fat:  11.6g (1.7g = Sat.)
Fiber:  2.7g
Sugars:  6.1g

Tropical Protein Smoothie

When it comes to easy, this might be my most favorite protein smoothie/shake combination.  I’m not hard to please, am I?  I just love the combination of this fruit (peaches, mangos, pineapple, strawberries) mixed with vanilla.  I use this as a pre-workout shake or as a snack sometimes.  Truth be known that this seriously motivates me to wake up for an early workout some days.  I’ll be laying in bed trying to decide if I should wake up and workout or sleep longer.  As soon as I think about eating this for my pre-workout meal, my decision is made, and I’m out of bed and throwing on my running shorts!  It’s so yummy I feel like I’m “cheating” every time I eat it.

By the way . . . I usually buy me a big bag of this frozen fruit at Wal-Mart.  They usually carry it and, because I like it so much, I love that it comes in a large bag.  It’s more affordable that way too.  (Here’s a picture of it so you can see what I buy.)

Tropical Protein Smoothie

1/2 cup frozen mixed tropical fruit blend
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (about 22g of Protein)
1/2 cup cold water
ice cubes, optional

Place frozen fruit in a blender or food processor.  Blend until fruit is finely chopped.  Add cold water, protein powder, and ice (*if desired).  Blend until well mixed (doesn’t take long).  Pour unto a tall glass and enjoy!

*Note:  Depending on how “slushy” you like your smoothies, you may want to add ice to the blender when adding the water and protein powder.  The frozen fruit will offer some amount of slush, but you can achieve more by adding additional ice.

Serves 1.

Nutritional Information
Calories:  145
Protein:  22.5g
Carbs:  11.5g
Fat:  1g