Eat A To Z Healthy Recipe Challenge RoundUp – Letters E and F #EatAtoZChallenge

Eat A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge -Letters E & F | MealPlanningMagic.com

It’s time for another Eating A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge! Each month I and other bloggers showcase recipes featuring fruits, vegetables, grains or legumes that start with a different letter of the alphabet. It’s a link up party that I host along with Kathy from Penney Lane Kitchen (formerly Sparkles and a Stove ) and Alida from Alida’s Kitchen. This month’s letters are E and F. Yesterday, in my Weekly Menu Plan post, I told you that things have been super busy around here so this month I didn’t get a chance to make, photograph and blog a new recipe. Instead, I’m leaning on some other bloggers who have shared their recipes. Wow! I sure was getting hungry collecting all these posts. And I’m pretty sure I need to plant a fig tree so I can try out all these yummy sounding fig recipes!

Let’s get to it! Here’s the list-

Edamame and Great Northern White Bean Dip – Meal Planning Magic
Prosciutto and Fig Goat Chees Pizza – Nosh and Nourish
Eggplant Parmigiana Pasta Casserole - Cupcakes and Kale Chips
Bacon and Escarole Custard – The Tomato Tart
Turkish Stuffed Eggplant – The View From Great Island
Balsamic Marinated Eggplant Crostini with Cilantro Lime Tahini - The American Bite
Double Fudge And Fig Truffles – Spabettie
Indian Spiced Eggplant Yogurt Dip – Farm Fresh Feasts
Eggplant Rolls with Goat Cheese – Foodologie
Grain Free Thai Eggplant Tempura with Spicy Garlic-Soy Dipping Sauce - An Edible Mosaic
Balsamic Fig Jam – Wonky Wonderful
Eggplant Ricotta Grilled Cheese – The Law Student’s Wife
Fennel and Mandarin Salad with Champagne Citrus Vinaigrette – The Tomato Tart
Fig Upside Down Cake – Wonky Wonderful
Eggplant and Tomato Pasta – I Heart Eating
Tempeh Edamame Salad Rolls with Ginger Sesame Peanut Sauce – Spabettie
Super Simple Fresh Fig And Pistachio Salad with Pomegranate Dressing – An Edible Mosaic
Fig and Lemon Cake – Diethood
Marinated Fig and Arugula Salad with blue Cheese & Walnuts – The Kitchen Is My Playground
Baked Eggplant Chip Pesto Pizza - Farm Fresh Feasts
Fennel, Red Cabbage, Goat Cheese, & Tangelo Salad with Tarragon, Mint, Yogurt, & Lemon Dressing – Karen’s Kitchen Stories

Don’t forget to check out the Eat A to Z Pinterest board. There you can keep track of all the recipes that are added month-to-month but also find new recipes from last year too. What’s your favorite fruit, vegetable, grain or legume that starts with the letter E or F?

Eat A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge | Monthly Blog Hop Hosted by MealPlannignMagic.com, AlidasKitchen.com and SparklesAndAStove.com

Be sure to check out all the other blogs shown in the link up below to discover new recipes and ideas! If you’re a blogger and have a recipe to link up, I can’t wait to see what you share!



Don’t want to miss any more recipe ideas? Be sure to SIGN UP HERE to receive updates via email or RSS feed (you can choose the reader you prefer!) And don’t forget you can always follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. They all offer a little something different and are a great way to stay in the loop on new menu plans, recipe ideas, giveaways, organizing tips and more!

Cucumber Avocado Salsa #EatAtoZChallenge

Cucumber Avocado Salsa |  #EatA2ZRecipeChallenge | MealPlanningMagic.com
Have you ever tasted something that after the first bite, you just can’t seem to stop eating because it’s so good? This cucumber avocado salsa totally did that for me! I first tried it at my sister’s house years ago. She shared the recipe and since then whenever I make it, it is a huge hit and many of my friends request that I make it for all our get togethers. It is SO easy, you will want to make it over and over again. I often make a double batch, especially for parties, because it disappears so fast. When I made this recently I could not keep my kids out of it! They were dishing it up by the spoonful as a pre-dinner snack. And I was ok with that since it’s chock full of vegetable goodness. We like to eat ours with pita chips but tortilla chips are also good. We also like to have it on tacos of all kinds–fish, chicken, beef–you name it! It’s a very versatile salsa!

I’m excited to finally share this recipe with you all and as part of the Eating A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge featuring cucumbers. The challenge is where each month I share a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, grain or legume that start with a different letter of the alphabet. March’s letters are C or D.

Cucumbers are a great source of antioxidant nutrients including vitamin C, B vitamins and manganese. They are a beneficial anti-inflammatory food and since they are 95% water, they help keep your body hydrated too.

Let me know what you think of this recipe if you give it a try!

Cucumber Avocado Salsa

Ingredients

  • Cucumber Avocado Salsa
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small to medium size jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • ¼ C minced red onion
  • 2 T chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1 T water
  • dash of vinegar (optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl. Use wooden or plastic spoon to mix well. Salt to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with tortilla or pita chips.
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Cucumber Avocado Salsa |  #EatA2ZRecipeChallenge | MealPlanningMagic.com

Just a few simple ingredients is all it take! I like to use my food chopper to dice the vegetables really small–it just makes it easier! A dash of vinegar is optional but I almost always include it.

Cucumber Avocado Salsa |  #EatA2ZRecipeChallenge | MealPlanningMagic.com

Eat A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge | Monthly Blog Hop Hosted by MealPlannignMagic.com, AlidasKitchen.com and SparklesAndAStove.com
You can find all the details about how to join the Eat A to Z Challenge by clicking here. I’m excited to be co-hosting this challenge this year with Alida from Alida’s Kitchen and Kathy from Sparkles and a Stove.

Don’t forget to check out the Eat A to Z Pinterest board. There you can keep track of all the recipes that are added month-to-month but also find new recipes from last year too. What’s your favorite fruit, vegetable, grain or legume that starts with the letter C or D?

Be sure to check out all the other blogs shown in the link up below to discover new recipes and ideas! If you’re a blogger and have a recipe to link up, I can’t wait to see what you share!



Don’t want to miss any more recipe ideas? Be sure to SIGN UP HERE to receive updates via email or RSS feed (you can choose the reader you prefer!) And don’t forget you can always follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. They all offer a little something different and are a great way to stay in the loop on new menu plans, recipe ideas, giveaways, organizing tips and more!

Whole Wheat Banana Bread #EatAtoZChallenge

Whole Wheat Banana Bread | MealPlanningMagic.com

Well, I had hoped to bring you a cold Avocado Chile Soup recipe for this first month of the 2014 Eating A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge, but it hasn’t happened yet. Instead I’m sharing with you this super yummy Whole Wheat Banana Bread recipe. I really wanted the soup to work but guess I didn’t give myself enough time to experiment. You see, there is a local restaurant that has a delicious soup but the version I made tasted more like a smoothie than a soup and just wasn’t the same. I’ll keep trying!

Now on to the Whole Wheat Banana Bread! I’ve tried many a banana bread recipe over the years but this one is moist and delicious and full of banana flavor. Plus, it’s filled with whole wheat goodness! It’s a recipe that I modified from another one I found online and our family loves it. I’m not sure about you, but I always seem to have some bananas that are nearing the overripe stage so this is a great way to use them up! (Did you also know you can freeze bananas? I like to unpeel them and put into a silicone muffin cup on a baking sheet to freeze. Then pop them out and store in a ziptop storage bag). If you have any of the bread leftover, you can slice it and freeze it then thaw for a quick breakfast or snack anytime.

Bananas are a favorite fruit around hour household! They are great in a smoothie, sliced over a bowl of granola, as a quick, healthy snack and in so many other delicious recipes. A good source of potassium,dietary fiber, manganese and vitamins B6 & C all in an easy-to-carry package, bananas are a no-brainer to add to just about anyone’s diet!

Now on to the recipe for the Whole Wheat Banana Bread! Here it is:

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups mashed overripe bananas (about 5-6 medium sized bananas)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; set aside. In a separate large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar.
  4. Add vanilla.
  5. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Add flour mixture to banana mixture and stir just to moisten. Do not over mix or bread will be too dense. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 65-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean.
  7. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
  8. Enjoy!
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Whole Wheat Banana Bread | MealPlanningMagic.com

Whole Wheat Banana Bread | MealPlanningMagic.com

What’s your favorite way to enjoy banana bread? I hope you’ll give this recipe a try!

Eat A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge | Monthly Blog Hop Hosted by MealPlannignMagic.com, AlidasKitchen.com and SparklesAndAStove.com
You can find all the details about how to join the Eat A to Z Challenge by clicking here. I’m excited to be co-hosting this challenge this year with Alida from Alida’s Kitchen and Kathy from Sparkles and a Stove.

Don’t forget to check out the Eat A to Z Pinterest board. There you can keep track of all the recipes that are added month-to-month but also find new recipes from last year too. What’s your favorite fruit, vegetable, grain or legume that starts with the letter A or B?

Be sure to check out all the other blogs shown in the link up below to discover new recipes and ideas! If you’re a blogger and have a recipe to link up, I can’t wait to see what you share!



Don’t want to miss any more recipe ideas? Be sure to SIGN UP HERE to receive updates via email or RSS feed (you can choose the reader you prefer!) And don’t forget you can always follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. They all offer a little something different and are a great way to stay in the loop on new menu plans, recipe ideas, giveaways, organizing tips and more!

Eating A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge and Blog Hop-New for 2014!

Eat A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge | Monthly Blog Hop Hosted by MealPlannignMagic.com, AlidasKitchen.com and SparklesAndAStove.com

Welcome to the 2014 Eating A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge (formerly the Eating the Alphabet Challenge)! This will be the third year that I’m hosting this monthly recipe round up from other bloggers. On the 15th of each month, we share and collect new recipe ideas that start with a different letter each month. The healthy twist is that each recipe must feature a fruit, vegetable, grain or legume that starts with the corresponding letters of the alphabet each month. It’s a fun way to share recipes with each other and our families!

Readers, you can join in too and challenge yourself to try something new each month that corresponds to the theme. Or choose a featured recipe for your family to try. The idea is that you’re trying new recipes and making it fun for your family by Eating A to Z! My kids love to get into it and come up with ideas of different fruits and vegetables that we can cook with. It gets them excited about trying something new!

This year I’m excited to welcome two co-hosts for the monthly linky party! Alida from Alida’s Kitchen and Kathy from SparklesAndAStove. You’ll be able to visit each of our blog’s starting on the 15th of each month and see all the recipes with that month’s letter(s) that other bloggers link up. If you’re a blogger and want to join in, please visit my EatingAtoZLinkyParty page by CLICKING HERE to read the guidelines.

Each month will feature a different letter–or two or three! The schedule for each month (posted on the 15th) is as follows:

February 2014 - Letter A or B
March 2014 - Letter C or D
April 2014 - Letter E or F
May 2014 - Letter G or H
June 2014 - Letter I or J
July 2014 - Letter K or L
August 2014 - Letter M, N or O
September 2014 - Letter P, Q or R
October 2014 - Letter S or T
November 2014 - Letter U, V or W
December 2014 - Letter X, Y or Z

I hope you all are as excited as I am about a new year of Eating A to Z. In the mean time, be sure to check out the Eating A to Z Challenge Pinterest board. You can CLICK HERE to find even more recipes from past years participants. If you’re on Twitter, follow us by using the hashtag #EatA2ZRecipeChallenge.

What new fruits, vegetables, whole grains or legumes are your family’s favorites? Leave a comment below and share new ideas with everyone who visits my blog.

Spinach and Sautéed Vegetables Panini

Spinach and Sautéed Vegetables Panini | #EatingAtoZChallenge | Easy Vegetarian recipe from MealPlanningMagic.com

This month I’m sharing with you one of my favorite sandwiches: a Spinach and Sautéed Vegetables Panini. It’s time again for the Eating the Alphabet Healthy Recipe Challenge. That’s where each month, I and other bloggers feature a fruit, vegetable, grain or bean/legume starting with different letters to give you ideas on how to incorporate more of these healthy foods into your family’s diet. This month I’ve chosen spinach since we’re highlighting the letters S and T.

I normally like to choose an ingredient that I haven’t used much and for me, that was going to be spaghetti squash. And I did make for my family but no one liked it except me. They’re just not big fans of squash in general so I went to one of our favorite vegetables, spinach. And I’m glad for it because I’ve been meaning to share this sandwich with you all for awhile now!

Spinach is so versatile and can easily be added to salads. I like to buy the baby spinach as it seems to appeal to my kids a bit more. My kids actually love spinach and prefer it raw over cooked but they will sometimes eat it cooked in dishes too. One of our favorite ways to enjoy spinach is this Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup from Taste of Home. I also like to include spinach in smoothies! Yes, you read that right. It’s a relatively mild-tasting green that can easily be added to smoothies or other sauces. We especially like this Green Monster Smoothie.

Spinach is a great source of dietary fiber, protein, Vitamins A, C, E and K (very high in this!) and many other vitamins and minerals. It’s a nutritional powerhouse! Another favorite way to enjoy spinach is on a salad. Uncooked is yummy but I especially like this Panini I made up. It is so simple and delicious. I was inspired to create it after trying a similar sandwich at Jason’s Deli but they discontinued making it. So here goes:

Spinach and Sautéed Vegetables Panini | Easy Vegetarian recipe from MealPlanningMagic.com

Spinach and Sautéed Vegetables Panini

Ingredients

  • Spinach and Sautéed Vegetables Panini
  • Makes two sandwiches
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup sliced bell peppers
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-4 slices white cheese of your choosing (I used Muenster but have also used fresh mozzarella or goat cheese when I have those on hand--just choose something that melts easily)
  • Season salt (I like Penzy’s Sandwich Sprinkle)
  • Two ciabatta bread or rolls
  • Butter

Instructions

  1. Slice rolls or bread in half and butter both outsides with butter. Place one buttered side on top of the other and set aside. Heat Panini maker.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a sauté pan and add peppers, onions and mushrooms when hot. Sauté about 5 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. On sliced bread with open side up, layer spinach, sautéed peppers and mushrooms and cheese. Sprinkle cheese with season salt.
  4. Place buttered side down of layers sandwich on hot Panini maker and top with remaining buttered bread/roll. Close lid to Panini maker and grill about 3-4 minutes until cheese is slightly melted.
  5. Remove from Panini maker, slice and serve.
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Spinach and Sautéed Vegetables Panini | #EatingAtoZChallenge | Easy Vegetarian recipe from MealPlanningMagic.com

Simple ingredients come together to make a delicious sandwich anytime!

Spinach and Sautéed Vegetables Panini | Easy Vegetarian recipe from MealPlanningMagic.com

Sautee the peppers, onions and mushrooms for a few minutes until tender.

Spinach and Sautéed Vegetables Panini | Easy Vegetarian recipe from MealPlanningMagic.com

Layer all the ingredients on the bread and you’re ready to grill on the Panini press! (or grill in a regular non-stick pan)

Spinach and Sautéed Vegetables Panini | Easy Vegetarian recipe from MealPlanningMagic.com

Just a few minutes on the Panini press and your sandwich is ready to enjoy!

For all the details about the Eating The Alphabet Healthy Recipe Challenge, check out my post from earlier this year (or if you are a blogger and want to join in, there is a sign-up form to complete). http://www.mealplanningmagic.com/2013/01/eating-the-alphabet-healthy-recipe-challenge-new-for-2013.html

Don’t forget to check out the Eating the Alphabet Pinterest board. There you can keep track of all the recipes that are added month-to-month but also find new recipes from last year too. What’s your favorite fruit, vegetable, grain or legume that starts with the letter S or T?
Be sure to check out all the other blogs shown below to discover new recipes and ideas!

Don’t want to miss an update? Be sure to SIGN UP HERE to receive updates via email or RSS feed (you can choose the reader you prefer!) And don’t forget you can always follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. They all offer a little something different and are a great way to stay in the loop on new menu plans, recipe ideas, giveaways, organizing tips and more!





Savory Plantain Tostones

Savory Plantains Tostones | #EatingAtoZChallenge | MealPlanningMagic.com

In our part of Texas, there are a lot of cultural influences on the types of food made in restaurants here (and at home by many). Some of my favorite restaurants are those with a Latin influence. And since I first tried it, I’ve long been a fan of plantains, the banana’s larger cousin. So I wanted to try making them myself for this month’s Eating the Alphabet Healthy Recipe Challenge.  Savory twice fried plantain tostones are an easy and quick way to enjoy these as an alternative to potatoes. I made ours with a creamy cilantro dipping sauce too.

The plantain is a starchy, low-sugar cousin to the banana that, when cooked up, maintains a somewhat firmer texture than cooked bananas.Good source of potassium, Vitamins A, B6 & C and many other vitamins. For more tips, recipes and other ideas for plantains, check out this site. You can find plantains near the bananas in many supermarkets. The green ones are for savory recipes like this one, the yellow ones are good for grilling and the brown skinned ripe plantains are great sautéed and served over ice cream (which I want to try next!) I hope you’ll give this simple fruit a try! Have you ever tried plantains?

Savory Plantains Tostones | #EatingAtoZChallenge | MealPlanningMagic.com

Savory Plantain Tostones #EatingAtoZChallenge

Ingredients

  • 1 plantain, peeled and sliced into ½-1-inch chunks
  • 4-5 tablespoons oil for frying (I used coconut oil to go with the tropical flavor, but any oil will do)
  • Salt to taste
  • Dipping Sauce:
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Dash of hot pepper sauce
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions

  1. In a heavy pot, add three tablespoons of oil until hot. Add plantain slices and fry until bright yellow and slightly golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel on a plate to drain. Using a fork or flat-bottomed glass, smash each piece into a ¼-inch jagged circle.
  2. Place plantain discs back in the oil and fry for 4-6 more minutes or until edges are golden brown, flipping one time. Remove to a wire rack and sprinkle with salt.
  3. These are a tasty snack or great served as a side dish to your favorite grilled chicken or steak.
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Savory Plantains Tostones | #EatingAtoZChallenge | MealPlanningMagic.com

Use a plantain that’s on the green side for this recipe.

Savory Plantains Tostones | #EatingAtoZChallenge | MealPlanningMagic.com

Plantain skins are thicker than bananas. The easiest way to peel is to score the peel with a sharp knife, then remove the peel with your fingers.

Savory Plantains Tostones | #EatingAtoZChallenge | MealPlanningMagic.com

Slice the plantain into chunks.

Savory Plantains Tostones | #EatingAtoZChallenge | MealPlanningMagic.com

Fry them for a few minutes on each side until golden yellow.

Savory Plantains Tostones | #EatingAtoZChallenge | MealPlanningMagic.com

I used the bottom of a flat drinking glass to smash my plantains after the first frying.

Savory Plantains Tostones | #EatingAtoZChallenge | MealPlanningMagic.com

Pan fry the discs again for a few minutes on each side until crispy on the outside. Remove to a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Eating the Alphabet Healthy Recipe Challenge | hosted by MealPlanningMagic.com For all the details about the Eating The Alphabet Healthy Recipe Challenge, check out my post from earlier this year (or if you are a blogger and want to join in, there is a sign-up form to complete).

Don’t forget to check out the Eating the Alphabet Pinterest board. There you can keep track of all the recipes that are added month-to-month but also find new recipes from last year too. What’s your favorite fruit, vegetable, grain or legume that starts with the letter P, Q or R?

Be sure to check out all the other blogs shown below to discover new recipes and ideas!



Simple Nectarine and Blueberry Sauce

Nectarine Blueberry Fruit Sauce recipe | EatingAtoZChallenge | MealPlanningMagic.com

Summer is just flying by for us! So I thought it only fitting I choose a summer fruit to highlight for this month’s Eating the Alphabet series featuring foods that start with the letter M, N or O. I chose nectarines since they are in season right now and they have been SO good. I paired this favorite fruit with another, blueberries, to make a delicious fruit sauce that is a delicious alternative to syrup on pancakes, ice cream or even as a filling in crepes. Actually, the ideas are limitless! And thanks to the nectarine’s natural sweetness, just a teaspoon of sugar is all I added to make this sauce.

We love to serve our sauce over this favorite recipe for whole wheat pancakes from AllRecipes. I love that the sauce offers a lower added sugar option than syrup. We sometimes squirt a bit of real whip cream on top (still lower in sugar gram for gram than the stuff you buy in the syrup aisle as most of it is high fructose corn syrup with coloring added!) We also like the fruit sauce on top of vanilla ice cream or added with vanilla yogurt into a sweet crepe good for breakfast or a healthy dessert.

If you have extra fruit sauce, you can freeze it in silicone muffin cups for individual portions. When you’re ready to use, just thaw the mixture and serve. You can taste summer all year long that way!

Nectarines are low in calories and have a number of health promoting anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins like Vitamin C, potassium, B-complex vitamins and more. I hope you’ll give this sauce a try!

Nectarine and Blueberry Fruit Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 nectarines, diced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • ¼ - ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Chop nectarines into about 1/2-inch or smaller chunks. Peeling is optional (I don’t peel the nectarine—we don’t mind it!).
  2. In a small saucepan, add water, cinnamon, brown sugar and nectarines. Stir to combine.
  3. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a boil, stirring often so as to avoid burning. Simmer for about 5 minutes then stir in blueberries until combined. Heat for about 5 more minutes, until berries are warmed through.
  4. Remove from heat and serve over pancakes, ice cream, in crepes or whatever!
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Nectarine Blueberry Fruit Sauce recipe | EatingAtoZChallenge | MealPlanningMagic.com

Nectarine Blueberry Fruit Sauce recipe | EatingAtoZChallenge | MealPlanningMagic.com

Dice the nectarines into bite-size chunks.

Nectarine Blueberry Fruit Sauce recipe | EatingAtoZChallenge | MealPlanningMagic.com

Add the nectarines along with cinnamon, sugar and water and bring to a boil to start the sauce making!

Nectarine Blueberry Fruit Sauce recipe | EatingAtoZChallenge | MealPlanningMagic.com

You can freeze extra sauce in silicone muffin cups to thaw and use later!

Nectarine Blueberry Fruit Sauce recipe | EatingAtoZChallenge | MealPlanningMagic.com

This fruit sauce is delicious in homemade whole wheat crepes with a little yogurt. A healthy breakfast or dessert!

Nectarine Blueberry Fruit Sauce recipe | EatingAtoZChallenge | MealPlanningMagic.com

This sauce make a delicious fruit topping for vanilla ice cream too.

For all the details about the Eating The Alphabet Healthy Recipe Challenge, check out my post from earlier this year (or if you are a blogger and want to join in, there is a sign-up form to complete).

Don’t forget to check out the Eating the Alphabet Pinterest board. There you can keep track of all the recipes that are added month-to-month but also find new recipes from last year too. What’s your favorite fruit, vegetable, grain or legume that starts with the letter M, N or O?

Be sure to check out all the other blogs shown below to discover new recipes and ideas!



Greek Lentil and Orzo Salad

Greek Lentil Orzo Salad | #EatingA2ZChallenge | Meal Planning Magic Greek Flavors For a Simple Lentil Salad

Greek lentil salad is something I never really thought I would be making as I’m going to admit right up front that I have not really ever been a fan of lentils and have, frankly, been a little intimidated by them. But the more I read about these little powerhouses of nutrition (and economical to boot) I’ve been a bit more interested in trying to find a way to cook with them. I’ve asked on my Facebook page and gotten some great ideas. But it was my recent attendance at the BlogHerFood conference and stopping by the Canadian Lentils booth with all their delicious samples that helped me take the leap to give them a try.

From dips to soups to even desserts (?!?), lentils are a pretty versatile legume and I’ll admit I was much more intrigued to give them a try. Plus, knowing that they are packed with nutrition is an extra bonus! Just 100 grams of green lentils has a whole day’s worth of fiber, more potassium than a large banana and are an excellent source of folate, iron, manganese and protein, too.

I will have to say I have also discovered not all lentils are equal. Prior to cooking with the green lentils used in this recipe, I had previously only had brown lentils. I’m not sure if it was how I cooked them or what, but I had mushy, kind of yucky tasting results and that kept me from trying them again. The color of the lentils makes a different and the green ones have a sort of nutty flavor. Plus I followed directions a little better this time to cook them properly! And the extra bonus? Lentils are an economical choice at about 10-15 cents per quarter cup serving each.

At the conference, we got a copy of their cookbook (you can also find lots of recipes online). I adapted a recipe found there to create this delicious Greek Lentil & Orzo salad for this month’s challenge using an ingredient that starts with the letter K or L. It has a lot of common Greek salad flavors and comes together quickly and is easy to make ahead. We love Greek foods in our family and this was a winner. It is a satisfying and delicious vegetarian salad that is perfect as a side or light main dish.

This is a copy of the book I received--all full of lentil recipes!

This is a copy of the book I received–all full of lentil recipes!

Greek Lentil & Orzo Salad

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Greek Lentil & Orzo Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups orzo pasta
  • 6 T olive oil, divided
  • ¾ cup dry red or green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup red win vinegar
  • 4 small cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup green olives, pitted and chopped
  • ¾ cup red onion, diced (about one small onion)
  • 1 cup fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1 ½ cups feta cheese

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add orzo pasta and cook until al dente (about 8-10 minutes). Drain. Transfer pasta to a large bowl and mix in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cover and refrigerate until cool.
  2. Place lentils into a small saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until lentils are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
  3. Combine remaining olive oil, vinegar and garlic in a small bowl.
  4. In bowl with pasta, add cooked lentils, oil mixture and remaining ingredients (olives through feta cheese). Stir until combined well.
  5. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours. This salad is also really good the next day.
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Simple ingredients come together for a delicious and nutritious salad.

Simple ingredients come together for a delicious and nutritious salad.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy lentils?

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way by Canadian Lentils to include them in this post. They just helped spark my interest in developing a recipe using lentils for this month’s challenge.

Join the Eating A to Z Healthy Recipe Challenge!

For all the details about the Eating The Alphabet Healthy Recipe Challenge, check out my post from earlier this year (or if you are a blogger and want to join in, there is a sign-up form to complete).
#EatingA2ZChallenge | Meal Planning Magic
Don’t forget to check out the Eating the Alphabet Pinterest board. There you can keep track of all the recipes that are added month-to-month but also find new recipes from last year too. What’s your favorite fruit, vegetable, grain or legume that starts with the letter K or L?

Be sure to check out all the other blogs shown below to discover new recipes and ideas!



Edamame and Great Northern White Bean Dip Recipe

Edamame and Great Northern White Bean Dip & Spread #EatA2ZRecipeChallenge | Meal Planning Magic

Edamame and Great White Northern Beans combine in this unique recipe to make a delicious sandwich spread or dip. It may seem like an unlikely pairing but it’s something I’ve been thinking about trying ever since coming across similar recipes online (was it Pinterest, another blog? I can’t remember, but I know I saw it!)

These last few weeks have been crazy busy for me. I have been gone somewhere every weekend for the last month and a half! That means less time in the kitchen for me so this month’s Eating the Alphabet post is a few days behind. Oh well..better late than never!

Healthy Family Ingredients

When trying to decide what ingredient I wanted to feature this month, I knew I wanted to use edamame. My whole family loves to eat steamed edamame in the pods but I have seen lots of recipes here and there using this soybean in salads, dips or other dishes. I decided I wanted to make a dip sort of like hummus but also using white beans instead of the traditional cannellini beans. In searching the web I never really found a recipe exactly like what I was looking for so I created my own!

This is SO incredibly easy you will ask yourself why you don’t make it more often. It is delicious served with cut up vegetables like carrots or cucumber but also tastes great with pita chips (I was out of those so didn’t include them in the picture). Not only can you enjoy it as a dip but it is also delicious as a spread on a sandwich or wrap. Best of all it can be made ahead and will store in the refrigerator for two days.

A Nutritious Snack

Edamame has been around for centuries and is popular in many Asian cuisines. This legume is packed with fiber, protein and antioxidants such as vitamins C and A as well as being high in iron. A half cup serving of edamame has 9 grams of fiber—as much as four slices of whole-wheat bread and as much iron as a 4-ounce roasted chicken breast. Great Northern Beans are also full of fiber and iron as well as potassium. These legumes and beans are a powerhouse of nutrition and taste great together too!

Edamame and Great Northern White Bean Dip & Spread #EatA2ZRecipeChallenge

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz. can Great Northern White beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 ½ cups edamame, unshelled and cooked per package directions
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup cilantro

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, blend all ingredients together until smooth, about one minute. Transfer the dip/spread to a bowl or storage container. Cover and chill until the flavors are blended, at least 30 minutes. Serve cold. This dip/spread can be refrigerated up to two days.

Notes

Add more cilantro if you'd like a little more zip!

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Simple ingredients and SO easy to make!

Simple ingredients and SO easy to make!

Steamed edamame--love the bright green goodness!

Steamed edamame–love the bright green goodness!

Just a touch of a button for a minute or so and that's it! Chill to blend flavors.

Just a touch of a button for a minute or so and that’s it! Chill to blend flavors.

And these soybeans are Non-GMO. My husband picked them up for me and probably had no idea--but yay him!

And these soybeans are Non-GMO. My husband picked them up for me and probably had no idea–but yay him!

Bloggers, Join the Eating The Alphabet Healthy Recipe Challenge!

For all the details check out my post from earlier this year (or if you are a blogger and want to join in, there is a sign-up form to complete which you can find here).

Don’t forget to check out the Eating the Alphabet Pinterest board. There you can keep track of all the recipes that are added month-to-month but also find new recipes from last year too. What’s your favorite fruit, vegetable, grain or legume that starts with the letter E or F?
Be sure to check out all the other blogs shown below to discover new recipes and ideas!



No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Energy Bites Recipe (sweetened with Dates)

eanut Butter Chocolate Energy Bites--made using Dates! | #EatA2ZRecipeChallenge #vegan | Meal Planning Magic
Can you believe it’s already the middle of March? That means it’s time for another Eating the Alphabet Healthy Recipe Challenge! I’m a few days late because I was out of town on vacation for Spring Break. If you’re new here, this blog hop features fruits, vegetables, grains or legumes to help us discover delicious new ways to enjoy these healthy foods. And hopefully make some of them a little more interesting by choosing a different letter each month. For more details on how it all works, see the end of this post (and if you’re a blogger, find out how you can join us!)

A Healthier Natural Sweetener (and Vegan!)

This month I chose dates. I have been seeing all sorts of things on the web about how to use these vitamin and fiber-filled powerhouses as natural sweeteners in tasty treats so I knew I wanted to give them a try. Plus, I needed a reason to use some of that big bag of dates I bought at Costco a few months ago! It seems like there have also been a lot of recipes popping up about how to make homemade energy bars like Clif or Lara bars. I knew I wanted to try something like that but in a bite-size form. So the other day I had a craving for something with peanut butter and chocolate. I couldn’t find a recipe that had just the right combination of ingredients so I came up with my own based on a compilation of some of those I had seen. Did you know that dates are an excellent source of iron and also potassium? They are also rich in lots of minerals like calcium and manganese and many other anti-oxidants. They are also full of fiber!

Delicious Peanut Butter & Chocolate-A Great Combination

These little bites were SO delicious that I could not stop eating them! They kind of reminded me of some I used to make growing up. But what’s great about these is that they are a guilt-free treat because they are all natural and vegan too (for those who follow that diet). The reviews from my family were a little more mixed. My son LOVED them and has had one for a snack nearly every day for a couple of weeks. He thinks he is getting a real treat just like a cookie or brownie but I feel much better giving him one of these! My daughter liked them too but thought the bites were a bit too rich so my second batch was just a one-bite version. My husband didn’t care for them but I realized later it’s probably because he does not like anything fudgy—which these are very similar to. I shared some with my neighbor and she had similar results—she loved them and her family liked them too.

I am so glad to have found this delicious way to enjoy dates and satisfy my sweets craving at the same time in a healthy way. They make up so quickly, I bet you’ll always want to have some of these on hand! And an extra bonus? They are vegan too (for those of you who watch that kind of thing!)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Energy Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup dried dates, chopped
  • 1/2-¾ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½-2/3 cup old-fashioned oatmeal (start with 1/2 cup and add more if it's still too sticky)

Instructions

  1. Place dates and peanut butter in food processor. Cover and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Add coconut, cocoa powder and oatmeal until fully blended. The mixture will form a ball and be very sticky. Using a 1-inch scoop, form balls and place on baking sheet lined with silicone mat or parchment paper. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. May be kept in refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for up to three months.
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Just a few simple, natural ingredients is all it takes to whip up these delicious, nutritious sweet bites.

Just a few simple, natural ingredients is all it takes to whip up these delicious, nutritious sweet bites.

Dates and peanut butter ready to be blended!

Dates and peanut butter ready to be blended!

Blend the dates and peanut butter first until a creamy mixture forms.

Blend the dates and peanut butter first until a creamy mixture forms.

After you'veblended the  dates and peanut butter, add the rest of the ingredients. Just a few quick pulses is all it takes!

After you’ve blended the dates and peanut butter, add the rest of the ingredients. Just a few quick pulses is all it takes!

Use a scooper to help make rolling into balls a bit easier.

Use a scooper to help make rolling into balls a bit easier.

All the balls are ready to be chilled then enjoyed!

All the balls are ready to be chilled then enjoyed!

Bloggers, Join the Eating The Alphabet Healthy Recipe Challenge!

For all the details check out my post from earlier this year (or if you are a blogger and want to join in, there is a sign-up form to complete which you can find here).

Don’t forget to check out the Eating the Alphabet Pinterest board. There you can keep track of all the recipes that are added month-to-month but also find new recipes from last year too. What’s your favorite fruit, vegetable, grain or legume that starts with the letter C or D? Be sure to check out all the other blogs shown below to discover new recipes and ideas!