Berry and Avocado Summer Salad with Barbecued Tofu

berry avocado salad

I have been making this salad everyday for a couple of weeks now. It has all the perfect components for a summer dinner. The seasonal ingredients, the sweet and savory flavors, the cold ingredients easily thrown together in the kitchen, the hot ingredients cooked outside on the grill to keep your house cool, the bright happy colors- It’s summer in a bowl! If you don’t think you like tofu, you might not have tried it barbecued. I wouldn’t even say that it particularly tastes like barbecue sauce or feels like tofu. The sugar in the sauce caramelizes to a savory taste and the tofu firms up for a satisfyingly chewier texture. I like it better than tofu prepared any other way. This is an easy salad to throw together when you are having people over for dinner because it’s quick and looks so pretty. It is also packed with protein and  many healthy nutrients!

Berry and Avocado Summer Salad with Barbecued Tofu

Serves 2

6 oz of organic super firm tofu

1/4 cup barbecue sauce of your choice, or try this recipe if you want to make it from scratch!

3 cups baby arugula

6 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1 sprig of dill, finely chopped

2 green onions, finely chopped

1/3 red bell pepper, very finely chopped

5 strawberries, sliced

1/2 cup blueberries

1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced

1/3 cup raw walnuts

1/4 cup balsamic reduction (you can buy this at the store- usually labeled balsamic glaze- or make it by simmering balsamic vinegar over low heat until it thickens, about 15 minutes)

Optional: 1/4 cup olive oil (I found that the fat from the avocados and walnuts was enough fat for me but to each her own!)

 

If you have bought a block of tofu, slice off two 1/2″ thick slabs, and slather them in the barbecue sauce. Heat up the grill to medium high heat and grease it with a little oil. Once the grill is piping hot, lay the tofu slabs on there and grill for about 10 minutes per side, or until you get those nice dark grill marks.  If you don’t have a grill, you can put them in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through. I even make these in my toaster oven to keep the heat in the kitchen to a minimum.

While the tofu is cooking, get a big serving plate and spread out the arugula. On top of the arugula, sprinkle the basil, dill, green onions, and bell pepper evenly. Then, layer the strawberries and blue berries evenly. Do the same for the avocado and walnuts. I like to make a nice pattern and space everything out in an even, radial design. But, if you are not crazy like me and just throw everything on there, it will still be just as pretty, haha.

Finally, drizzle with the balsamic reduction and serve with the barbecued tofu slab on top. If you want you can slice the tofu up, which is what I did after taking the picture.

Happy Summer!

 

berry avocado summer salad (1)

Blackberry Almond Cheesecake

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This lovely little dessert is made from all raw ingredients and yet, it is extremely rich. All you need is a sliver to feel completely satisfied. It’s an added bonus that this is made with wholesome ingredients and lots of healthy fats. You can use any type of fruit you want, it’s also great with strawberry! We are lucky enough to have blackberries growing wild in our backyard, so I made this with our first ripe berries this summer. I used a 4” springform pan to make this cheesecake, although if you don’t have one, you can just use a 9” clear glass pie dish. The result will be a little less tall, but you can always double the recipe to fix that. One of the main reasons I used the 4 inch springform pan was because this cheesecake is so decadent, you don’t need a whole regular sized pie, and also, so I could show you the pretty layers! I squeezed half the blackberries through a sieve to get the juices and avoid the crunchy little seeds, but this is not a particularly necessary step, especially if you use any other type of berry.

Blackberry Almond Cheesecake

Makes about 6 servings

1 cup raw almonds

5 medjool dates, without pits

1 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

1 cup cashews, soaked for 3 hours (or overnight)

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1/4 cup agave nectar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup fresh blackberries, divided in half

1 tbs agave nectar

Combine the almonds, dates, almond extract, vanilla extract, and salt in a food processor, and blend until well combines and crumbly. Press this mixture down into the bottom of your pan in an even layer. Rinse out the food processor and add the remaining ingredients, except the berries. Blend for a good long time until the mixture is completely smooth. It should be thick and creamy. Scoop about 3/4 of the mixture into the pan, on top of the crust layer, making surge you leave a little room. Add 1/4 cup of the berries (or just their juices if you have the patience to press them through a sieve) to the remaining 1/4 of the cheesecake mixture, and continue to process until smooth. Then scoop that into the pan. Wrap the pan in foil and freeze overnight. To thaw, put the cheesecake in the fridge for about an hour, or on the counter for 15 minutes.

Toss the remaining 1/4 cup of berries with the 1 tbs agave nectar. Release the pan from the springform and put the berries on top.

Slice into wedges and enjoy your tasty delicacy!

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‘Tastes Like Red Starburst’ Smoothie

Red Starburst Smoothie

Sadly, like most processed sweets, Starbursts are kind of a scary candy. The little chewy squares are mainly comprised of GMO corn syrup, boiled animal bones and ligaments, and artificial colors that have been banned in other countries and linked to ADHD in children. The stuff they sell to kids these days, it’s plain crazy. But, but…candy taste so good! Well, you are in luck, because now you can avoid all that pointless junk without giving up on juicy flavor. This smoothie really does taste EXACTLY like a red starburst, and it will give you a burst of healthy energy, (not the ADHD kind.) Not to mention, you get the wonderful side effects of glowing skin and a stronger immune system. It’s the perfect snack to start your day or your workout.

‘Tastes Like Red Starburst’ Smoothie

Makes 2 servings

8 ounces unpasteurized tangerine juice

1 cup frozen mixed blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries

1/2 frozen banana

1 strawberry for garnish (optional)

Blend all ingredients until smooth and go drink your candy. Try not to end up wearing it like I somehow did. Red Starburst Smoothie Gone

Exotic Immunity Juice

Exotic Immunity Juice

There were so many pretty fruits in the produce aisle this week, I got a little bit of everything. I found these gorgeous little fruits called kiwiberries. I had never heard of them. They look and taste exactly like a kiwi, maybe sweeter, but they are only about an inch in diameter, and don’t have a fuzzy skin. It turns out they have 5 times the vitamin C of oranges and more potassium than a banana ounce for ounce. I am in love. Last weekend I flew to New York for a vacation and on both flights I was sitting next to very sick people. They were taking medicine and ordering hot lemon water and everything, stay home sick people! Anyway, I figure I have some serious bacteria battling to do right now, and what better way than with juice? This juice probably has a weeks worth of vitamin C and lots of other nutrients and minerals to keep your immune system running at it’s best. I actually recommend drinking this during the week leading up to travel– prevention first!! This is delicious by the way.

Exotic Immunity Juice

makes 1 large serving

8 kiwiberries

3 blood oranges

1/2 cucumber

1/2 pomegranate

1 lemon

.25″ of ginger (optional)

I peeled the oranges but not the lemon. Also, crack the pomegranate open and take all the pith away, it’s too bitter! Just use the seeds. If you can’t find kiwiberries, you can use regular kiwis, it just might not be such a pretty color, as the berries have a purplish hue to them.

Throw everything in the juicer, stir and sip. Stay well.

kiwiberriesexotic fruits

Luscious Berry Cake

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I love the look of flowers and berries together . I had the pansies growing in the backyard. While they aren’t completely necessary, edible flowers do make a nice touch and you can sometimes find them at Whole Foods by the herbs. Other edible flowers you might have in your yard that you could use would be rose petals, violets, marigolds, strawberry blossoms, or even dandelions! (The yellow flower part obviously.) The lemon is very subtle and the overall experience of eating the cake is very light and refreshing. This cake was for some non-vegans, so I used a store bought cake, but you should try to make your own vegan bundt cake, no matter who is eating it! Here’s a recipe from someone who is a better baker than I.

Luscious Berry Cake with Lemon Scented Cream

(Makes 8-10 servings)

1 prepared vegan angel food cake

3 cans of full fat coconut milk

3 lemons

1/4 cup agave nectar

1 tsp vanilla extract

fresh berries of your choice (pictured blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, one small container each)

assorted edible flowers or petals

Put the coconut milk cans in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Take them out, turn them upside down, take off the lid, and pour out the ‘water’ (you can save it for another use, like a smoothie!) At the bottom of the can will be the thick coconut cream. Scoop out the cream and put it in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment (you can also do this by hand). Set it to medium and let it go for a minute or two. Zest the lemons into the cream and add the vanilla and sugar, stir them in. Evenly spread the whipped cream around the whole cake with a spatula. This wasn’t exactly a graceful process for me, but start by plopping it onto the top, and use the spatula to swirl it down and around the sides. Finally, fill the center with berries, and stick them on around the sides, finishing with the flowers.

Blueberry Protein Smoothie

blueberry smoothie

This is pretty simple, but it makes a great breakfast. I love Sun Warrior protein because it’s raw and plant based! I’m not crazy about the vanilla flavor, their chocolate is really the best, but for an ice-creamy-fruity type of smoothie, vanilla works best. Try making your own almond or coconut milk too!

Blueberry Protein Smoothie

(makes 1 large glass)

1 scoop Vanilla Sun Warrior Protein (that’s my favorite, but you can use any vanilla protein powder)

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 cup of coconut milk

I like to put the coconut milk in first, otherwise the protein powder just gets stuck to the blender. Throw the protein and blueberries in, and blend away. You might need to add a bit more coconut milk to get the consistency right. Look at that color!