Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cherry Tomato , Fresh Basil, and Avocado Salad

cherry tomato, basil and avocado salad on Gluten Free A-Z Blog

Sometimes you want a really extraordinarily good salad. This is it !

The sweetness of garden cherry tomatoes, the rich fragrance of the freshly picked summer basil, and the creaminess of Mexican avocados added to these other salad ingredients create a memorable meal. And it is a filling meal laden with important nutrients from some real antioxidant heavy power foods.

To make it a meal, we ended up eating the salad over cooked rice or quinoa , and it was absolutely delicious. Simple to make, extraordinarily beautiful to serve.

1/2 avocado diced
1 container of cherry tomatoes, halved ( I used yellow and red cherry tomatoes)
2 stalks celery, sliced
1/2 cup basil, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup of cooked chickpeas
4 marinated artichokes, cut in quarters ( from a jar of marinated artichokes)
2 tablespoons of diced red onion
1/2 cup red cabbage, chopped
1/2 cup red pepper, diced
Juice of 1 fresh medium lemon
Olive oil to taste ( about 1/4 cup)
2 cups of cooked rice

In a large salad serving bowl, assemble all ingredients except rice and toss. Place a half cup of  warm cooked rice on each plate, top with 1 cup salad and enjoy!!
Serve immediately

Shared on Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Do You Really Want Your 25 Cents Back?

Yesterday, I went into a local fast food chain to get a cup of coffee. To my delight, there was a big electronic sign that flashed a special that for a week coffee was only 25 cents. When the teenager rang up my coffee, he charged me 50 cents ( which is the regular special price) 

I pointed out to him the sign that says there was a special for the week of just 25 cents.. 

He looked at it and said, " do you really want your 25 cents back?? "

OK.. is it me??? 

Since it was only a 25 cent difference, he couldn't believe I wanted him to give me the 25 cents back after he had already wrung it up for 50cents...

Love to hear your two cents on this one.. leave a comment please!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mexican Quinoa Stuffing

What makes this quinoa stuffing Mexican?
This recipe is a mixture of black beans, avocado, chopped tomatoes , peppers, and of course cooked quinoa. It's really simple to make and is big on flavor, fiber, and nutrition.

Quinoa is becoming very popular. A few years ago most people probably had never even heard of quinoa ( pronounced Keen wah) , but today it's even available as a side dish on the menu of many restaurants.

If you haven't tasted it yet, it's time to try it.

It looks like a grain, but is actually a berry. Full of protein and other nutrients, it is a better choice than rice. Personally, I like the taste better. I think it is lighter and has a nuttier flavor.

My original intention was to make this stuffing for my stuffed peppers. But in my family , everyone prefers the stuffing over a cooked pepper and usually leaves the pepper on their plate.

Since red peppers are expensive, and stuffing and baking them are more time intensive , I decided just to make and serve just the stuffing.

It came out exceptionally delicious, and I made it very quickly.

I just chopped the veggies, opened a can of black beans, added the cooked quinoa ( which cooks up in 20 minutes) and doused with lots of fresh chopped up herbs and lemon juice.
Quinoa can be purchased in any health food store, supermarket, Whole Foods Market, or Trader Joe's It comes in a bag or box like rice.

1 can black beans, drained
3 cups cooked quinoa ( cook according to instructions)
1 or 2 large tomato , chopped
1/2 red pepper , chopped
1 cup of Florida avocado, diced
juice of 1 fresh lemon ( about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup of fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro , chopped
salt and pepper to taste


Mix together black beans, chopped tomatoes, chopped red pepper, avocado, fresh basil, cilantro, salt and pepper. Add room temperature or warm cooked quinoa and mix well. Allow to marinate a little and serve

I decided not to use stuff the peppers

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Middle Eastern Mezze Platter for Valentines Day

Mezza platter

I loved my special Valentine's Day outing to an authentic Middle Eastern neighborhood restaurant. My husband and I ordered a sampler of Middle Eastern appetizers arranged on a large platter with some little individual bowls of other specialty salads. This kind of combination of many appetizers is known in Middle Eastern cooking as --a  Mezze Platter.

What is Mezze? 
Mezze is a derivative of the Lebanese word "alumazza" which means, "that which is devoured." When most people refer to mezze, they are referring to a meal made up of many kinds of Middle Eastern appetizers.

What Was On My Mezze Platter? 
My Mezze platter consisted of homemade (by the owner of the restaurant) falafel balls, his homemade humus, tehina, three kinds of colorful cabbage salad, moroccan carrot salad, pickled beet salad, baba ganooj (smoked eggplant salad), Israeli tomato and cucumber salad and mushroom salad. All were beautifully served and amazingly delicious and made to order.

The intimate restaurant was very small, making the service very personal. There were only about 10 people in the entire restaurant which can only accommodate 12 maximum.

Each of the delicious little salads were marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, fresh herbs and lots of fresh garlic.The falafel was made of cooked chick peas and fava beans and blended with generous amounts of fresh parsley, garlic, and cilantro.

Everything Was Gluten Free and Vegetarian
The mezze meal was a gluten free vegetarian/vegans dream and the perfect Valentine surprise for me! They provided vegetable sticks such as celery, carrots, and romaine lettuce leaves for me instead of pita bread which is not gluten free.

Thank you to my dear husband Albert for this wonderful Valentine's Day gift!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Mezza platter

Monday, February 11, 2013

Best Spinach Avocado Salad

This afternoon, I needed a spectacular salad , and I needed one fast. The salad was going to be the main dish of an impromptu lunch for five. Having very little time, I searched through the fridge for any available produce , As a result of what I had on hand, I created this delightfully healthy salad.

I immediately realized that I was out of romaine lettuce, the usual staple of most of my salads. I had a bag of baby spinach and some fresh fragrant basil, so that became the base of my salad. It looked and tasted incredible.

Along with some gluten free wraps, some exceptional humus, some moroccan carrots, and some sliced hard boiled eggs, we had a great lunch.. Unfortunately, I forgot to take the picture until we were almost finished eating...


4 mini cucumbers, diced
1 container of cherry tomatoes, ( tomatoes quartered)
1 ripe Haas avocado, sliced
2 cups of baby spinach , cut for salad
1 cup of fresh basil , chopped small for salad
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine diced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, baby spinach , fresh basil in a bowl and toss. Lay sliced avocado around sides of bowl. Squeeze juice of one lemon onto salad and add olive oil and pepper and salt. Garnish with mini peppers.