Late Summer Salad: Vegetable Salad with Beets and Goat Cheese

Even though it’s the end of summer, I think it’s the perfect time to make fresh salads filled with your favorite produce. This Vegetable Salad is so colorful and flavorful from fresh roasted beets, corn, potatoes, tomatoes and lettuces topped with goat cheese and pecans. It makes a great main-course vegetarian salad because it is so hearty. This recipe is adapted from a recent recipe in Cooking Light for a Corn and Basil Salad. I added and deleted various ingredients, and this version turned out even better than it looks. My friend, Nancy, served it the other night along with beef tenderloin, and her friends raved about it. You can also add chicken or shrimp if you want to add extra protein. Also, feel free to prepare the beets, potatoes, corn and salad dressing ahead of time so all you have to do is assemble the ingredients.

Meatless Monday Main Dish: Ziti with Roasted Summer Vegetables

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School is a few weeks underway already in Alabama, and I am amazed at how hard my kids’ homework is. Last week, my two oldest children were up to almost 10 every night doing math problems, reading their quota of 150 minutes a week and so on. My son even had to do a “glog” which is actually the same thing as a “blog”. Pretty cool, huh. After a long day at school (and after-school sports), I love to serve the kids something really healthy, colorful and fresh. This dish was a hit the other night, especially topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It’s great when I can feel good about what they are eating, especially when they are working so hard and need good nutrition.

Incredible Pasta Salad: Vegetarian Pasta Salad

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My kids love pasta salad, and always request it. This week my daughter, Leigh, and I threw this together. It was so delicious, fresh, healthy and gone in about 10 minutes. The photo got rave reviews on twitter and facebook when I posted it. Everyone was begging for the recipe. Here it is just in time for summer. It’s a cool and light idea when it’s so warm outside. Feel free to add cooked or grilled chicken if you like.

For the Sun-Dried tomatoes, I love “California Sun Dry Tomatoes” that come already julienne- cut.

Magical Gluten-Free Side Dish: Southwestern Quinoa Salad

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A lot of people have asked me lately, “What is quinoa?”. I answer, “It’s the magical grain.” Quinoa is the amazing gluten-free grain that is high in fiber and a complete protein, meaning it has all nine amino acids. Quinoa also contains high amounts of  lysine, manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus. It is a great replacement for rice or couscous and works great here in this simple recipe for Southwestern Quinoa Salad. Serve it room temperature or chilled. It’s awesome, and my kids even ate it too! By the way, quinoa can be found at Whole Foods Market or any of your specialty stores.

Delicious and Healthy Easter or Passover Side Dish: Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini

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I made this recipe last year on NBC 13 “Daytime Alabama” for Passover and Easter, and it was a hit. This Stuffed Zucchini recipe was one of my kid’s favorites (believe it or not). This recipe for Stuffed Zucchini only has 150 calories per serving, 2.g grams of fat and only 13 carbs, and the cost per recipe is only $7.03 (for 4 people, very economical for fresh veggies).

My youngest son, Zachary said, “This tastes almost like a vegetable pizza.” I have to admit. He was right.  So, if you’re looking for a new healthy side dish for Passover, Easter or for anytime during the year, try these. I bet you will be pleasantly surprised. It’s really easy too. I promise!

Healthy Vegetarian Main-Dish or Side Dish: Couscous-Stuffed Acorn Squash

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Two of my favorite ingredients are acorn squash and Israeli couscous. For those of you who haven’t tried Israeli couscous, it is a small pearl grain made of wheat flour twice the diameter of regular couscous. You can find it in the grocery stores where couscous and rice are sold. In this vegetarian main-dish or side dish, the couscous is flavored with lemon zest, olive oil and red pepper flakes and stuffed in a roasted acorn squash brushed with honey. This healthy dish is as pretty as it is delicious and very filling.

Healthy Snack or Appetizer: Carrots with Low-Fat Dijon Vinaigrette

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Kelly, one of my dear friends and running partners, has been talking a lot about eating “raw” foods lately. She’s one of the most intelligent and healthy people that I know, so when she talks, I try to always pay close attention. I have always been intrigued by raw food diets and juicing. I served up this platter of fresh raw carrots with a homemade Dijon Vinaigrette, and they sure went fast. It was a simple way to get some raw veggies in the kids’ diet, but also makes a great side dish or appetizer.