Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad #PaneraGoodness ~ The Way to His Heart

As most of you know, or have realized, my cooking style and blog have made a shift over the years towards making things yourself, cooking more and depending less on prepackaged products. There were several reasons for this evolution. First, it was cost. As a newly wed couple my husband and I found that it was a lot easier to make our own dough and enjoy pizza nights and at a fraction of the cost. Then it shifted towards convenience. I was pregnant with my first child during the winter here in Maine and I had no desire to go to the store so I started making a lot of copycat recipes, even the basics like taco seasoning. A big reason, though, was our health. Especially once I got pregnant and my daughter was born I wanted us to eat better and put better ingredients into our bodies. Worrying about what she was fed was only half the battle, we needed to eat well so we could be good examples and be around with her, and now my son, for a long time.

There are so many different terms out there that can get confusing. Whether you are eating organically, locally, you’re on a paleo diet, you’re eating clean, or just counting calories to be healthier. I realized that while I try and do most of these things, in the end, my goal is to eat and live cleaner. I feel like clean eating encompasses it all. While I am definitely known to indulge in some “dirty” eating and have some creature comfort indulgences, the everyday is about watching what I am buying, cooking more and depending on prepackaged items less or not at all, and focusing on labels.

Clean eating is actually pretty simple. Go to the store and pick up an item, the less ingredients it has, the better. Focus on the first ingredient. Ingredients are listed in order of weight, meaning the product is made mostly from the ingredient that is listed first. Aim for less than 10 ingredients, as a general rule. Balance your plate
and make half your plate fruits and veggies. Shop from farmers’ markets, produce stands, or—even better—grow your own.

The most difficult part of eating healthy is when I need to stop for a quick bite to eat. Whether I have my kids with me or am running a few errands without them, I am always on the run and hungry! I usually just avoid eating lunch out and wait until I get home. That usually creates an angry belly. Now, I’ve learned that Panera Bread has made a commitment to remove artificial additives. They’ve started this process by showcasing their clean salad dressings.

I was really excited to stop in one day, sans kids, and try them out. While Panera’s food is always tasty, I couldn’t wait to try some items that were truly good for me. I purchased the Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad which was absolutely delicious. The serving size is pretty large, but I couldn’t stop shoveling it into my mouth. There was a ton of chicken and strawberries inside, but there was also pineapple, oranges, blueberries, and pecans. The poppyseed dressing was clean( without any artificial flavors preservatives, colors, or sweeteners) and fat-free! Can you say winner winner chicken, er, salad?! While I definitely want to go back and enjoy that salad again, I can’t wait to try some of the others as well. The best part is I can go, knowing that what I am putting into my body and knowing it is good for me. Also, is it just me but eating off of real dishes always makes my meal feel more fulfilling and worth it.

Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad #PaneraGoodness ~ The Way to His Heart

Can’t wait to try out Panera Bread’s new “clean” food offerings? While you’re there, take a picture and use #PanereaGoodness to be part of the Panera movment!

While Cooking Light and Panera Bread supplied me with a giftcard to sample their new clean salad dressings as always the opinions expressed here are solely my own.

 

Bacon, Apple & Cheddar Broccoli Slaw

Bacon, Apple & Cheddar Broccoli Slaw ~ The Way to His Heart

Is this summer racing by as fast for you as it is me? I feel like I waited through a long, miserable winter and this summer is just steaming by. It doesn’t help that my oldest starts Kindergarten so we are now stuck in that “back to school” phase and my thoughts have been on how we’ll make life work after summer.

I’ve been trying to share some of new and old favorite recipes with you all this summer, but I have a long list that is still waiting to get published (lack of pictures because we’ve been on the go a lot this summer) and I wonder if you are all starting to think of the upcoming fall. So, while I’ll shift gears soon, I just had to share this coleslaw recipe with you because it’s become a favorite this summer.

I figured this was my final shot of getting everyone in my family to like a slaw recipe. I just really pushed the bacon, apple, and cheese. The funny thing is besides the bacon, apple, and cheddar cheese the rest of the ingredients are mostly disliked by the members of my household, but somehow all together it just works. The slaw doesn’t become drenched in liquids and become a soggy mess the next day. It stays nice and crisp and perfect for leftovers. Using broccoli slaw or even rainbow slaw also gives it a nice crunch.

I adapted this recipe a bit to fit my family’s needs, which translates to making this seem as appealing as possible! I omitted the onion because it was just a bit overwhelming and the leftovers were almost pungent. The slaw tastes lovely without them so we ditched them. Next, I julienne the apples and leave the skin on. This brings the eyes to bits of apples and the picky eaters don’t notice the bites of green vegetables they don’t like! Finally, I use any broccoli slaw variation that I can find. Surprisingly, my husband, was even okay with the fact that I used rainbow slaw which contained cauliflower. What?!?!

I’m calling this a huge vegetable side dish victory, even if it does contain bacon and cheese. I take my wins where I can get them!

Bacon, Apple & Cheddar Broccoli Slaw ~ The Way to His Heart

Bacon, Apple & Cheddar Broccoli Slaw

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. broccoli slaw (or any kind of slaw)
  • 2 apples, julienned
  • 1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup honey Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4- 5 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

In a large bowl, combine slaw, apples, and cheese.  Add honey mustard, mayonnaise, salt and pepper and gently toss.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Before serving, mix in bacon and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

*Want to skip the bacon for health or diet reasons? Simply toss in a handful of sliced nuts in its place.

Slightly adapted from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice

Blockbuster Cookies

Fun Blockbuster Cookies that include two classic movie snacks ~ The Way to His Heart

We took Caroline to the movie theater for the first time over the weekend. We waited until there was a better chance of her actually paying attention to the film and it was really perfect timing. She was so excited and old enough to know how much of a treat it was. She’s been to plays before and she’s seen Annie with the “Let’s go to the movies Annie” song so she was pretty amped. When we got there she was so excited to get popcorn in a giant tub. We indulged and got the biggest bag and some candy. We settled in and watched the Minion movie and every time I looked over at her face it made me smile because she had the sweetest look of pure bliss on her face. She said it was the, “best day ever” so I think we did good. Granted, she’s said that a lot in her life which is good since she also tells us there are plenty of “worst day evers” too!

So, once we got back into the hum drum of the work week I decided to have some summer fun baking and keep up the excitement of the movie theater. Who doesn’t love making popcorn for cookies at nine in the morning?

These cookies have a base that is similar to a chocolate chip cookie, but then the Raisinets and popcorn add a sweet and salty kick. I’m sure even the toughest critics will like these!

Fun Blockbuster Cookies that include two classic movie snacks ~ The Way to His Heart

Blockbuster Cookies

Ingredients

  •  2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups Raisinets
  • 4 cups buttered and salted popcorn

Pre-heat oven to 325 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat.

In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt until combined.

In the bowl of a standmixer add butter and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add both sugars and blend until combined.

Add eggs and vanilla extract to butter mixture and blend on medium-high until they are fully incorporated.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three batches, blending well after each addition.

Gently stir in the Raisinets and then gently fold in the popcorn.

Using a medium cookie scoop, or about 2 tablespoons, scoop out 9 cookies for each baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 14 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through.

Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and repeat with the remaining dough.

Yields 36 cookies.

Slightly adapted from FamilyFun Magazine November 2012

Caprese Zucchini

Caprese Zucchini ~ The Way to His Heart

My garden is starting to produce and nothing makes me happier. I love being able to go out there and grab a few items and whip something up. Since I have an abundance of basil I wanted to incorporate that as well. I’ve been using it left and right lately in order to use it up before the Japanese Beetles destroy it.

This dish is awesome since it uses up one of those vegetables that everyone is always looking to find new recipes for, zucchini. I think zucchini recipes are ones I am always asked for so I thought I’d share this with you. It’s easy and familiar and oh so healthy, without losing any flavor factor. Enjoy!

Caprese Zucchini

Caprese Zucchini

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 1/2 cup diced seeded tomato
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp red vine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Grill zucchini 2 minutes on each side.

Preheat broiler.

Combine tomato, basil, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Arrange the grilled zucchini on a foil-lined baking sheet. Top evenly with tomato mixture and mozzarella cheese. Broil for 2 minutes or until cheese melts.

Source: Cooking Light June 2014