Cranberry Pumpkin Granola Bars

Here’s the deal, my family loves granola bars. I’m sure you can relate. I mean, is there really a more perfect snack? Well, of course there is, but this one is just so handy, which makes it the “perfect” snack in my eyes. Here’s the problem though, crappy granola bars are everywhere! Even worse, really good granola bars are expensive! Ugh!

What’s a mom, wife, daughter, friend to do? Why, make my own and share the recipe with YOU, my faithful followers! 🙂

Yes, I want you to have the option of making  your own bars because you know, just as much as I do, that granola bars rock. So take that money you were going to spend on the crappy or expensive bars and use it to buy the ingredients to make these perfect little Cranberry Pumpkin Granola Bars. 

Need more reasons to love these? Thought so!

  1. They freeze well. Yes they do! So make a double batch and keep some in the freezer so you’re never without. Just cut them before freezing them, then stuff them into a re-sealable freezer bag. Give them a little room and lay them flat in the freezer. Once partially frozen, you can rearrange them and they won’t stick.
  2. They taste good and your kids will eat them. This means no more fights about other junk they want to eat. They will like them and beg you for more. Which, in my world, is sooo much nicer than hearing them beg for pink cupcakes!
  3. Your kids (or hey, even someone else’s) can help you make these! Woo hoo! Who doesn’t need an extra set of hands in the kitchen? And listen, getting kids into the kitchen is one of the best things we can do as parents or care givers!
  4. They make great gifts. Oh indeed and what about hostess gifts? Yes, that too! I mean, wouldn’t you want these wrapped up and given to you? I’ll take them over a candle any day!

Enjoy, my friends!

And here are the pretty pictures:

Check out how I made these beautiful Cranberry Pumpkin Granola Bars!

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Cranberry Pumpkin Granola Bars


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

A Fall spin on the classic granola bar. This one is also gluten and nut free!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup prunes, very finely chopped (or pulsed find in a food processor)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, very finely chopped (or pulsed find in a food processor)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300’F. Line a 9×9-inch pan with parchment paper. (Using two overlapping strips works well here for removing the bars from the pan after baking.)
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oats and pumpkin seeds.
  3. Heat a small pot or pan over medium heat and add the butter. Once the butter has melted, stir in the pumpkin pie spice and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the pumpkin puree and cook 1 more minute. Stir in the maple syrup, salt, prunes and cranberries. Remove from heat and pour over the oat mixture.
  4. Pour the oat mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly across the bottom. Using a piece of foil, wax paper or parchment paper, cover the granola bars and push down evenly on the top to compress the mixture. The firmer the bar, the better it will hold together after it’s cooked. Remove foil, wax paper or parchment and place in the oven.
  5. Cook bars for 15 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and set on a rack to cool. Once cooled, transfer the pan to the refrigerator and chill at least 2 hours. Using the parchment paper, remove the bars from the pan and cut into individual bars. (Why chill them? This helps them firm up, which makes cutting them easier!)

Notes

  • Cut bars can be kept in the refrigerator about 5 days and up to 2 months in the freezer.
  • To keep this one GF, just be sure to use gluten-free oats.
  • Cut the pan 5×3 to get 15 bars

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 15
  • Calories: 127
  • Sugar: 5
  • Sodium: 41
  • Fat: 4
  • Saturated Fat: 1
  • Unsaturated Fat: 2
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 22
  • Protein: 3
  • Cholesterol: 2

Mango Matcha Smoothie

Why I made this recipe: Because I am smitten with smoothies and equally smitten with matcha tea. So why not combine the two? Oh, and because I was hungry and I had these things in my house. Just being honest.

Why I love this recipe: This mango matcha smoothie is one of those recipes that’s super simple to make, yet the ingredients make it feel sophisticated. Love it for that and also because it tastes great.  

How this recipe is healthy: Lots of reasons. First, portion size. It’s just one cup, which in my world, is the perfect size for a smoothie. Because let’s face it, take-out smoothies end up more like colossal milk shakes rather than nutritious, cups of joy. Second, it’s got matcha tea powder in it, a really interesting type of tea made out of whole tea leaves, which means you get loads of antioxidants, including those that may help prevent certain diseases like heart disease. Nothing wrong with that, right? Also, I like it because it’s not super sweet. This isn’t dessert, it’s a snack or a nice supplement to breakfast or lunch. Enjoy it as is or use it as the base for an amazing smoothie bowl. Yum!

And here are the pretty pictures:

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Mango Matcha Smoothie


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

A lightly sweet smoothie made with low-fat Greek yogurt, mango and matcha, perfect for an afternoon snack or as a post or pre-workout snack.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup frozen, chopped mango
  • 1 teaspoon green matcha tea powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground flax seed

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in the bottom of a blender and puree until smooth.
  2. Pour and enjoy!

Notes

  • Not sweet enough for you? Add a 1/2 teaspoon of honey.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 171
  • Sugar: 23
  • Sodium: 115
  • Fat: 4
  • Saturated Fat: 2
  • Unsaturated Fat: 2
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 25
  • Protein: 10
  • Cholesterol: 10

Slow Cooker Jamaican Jerk Pork

Why I made this recipe: Because certain people in my life (ahem, my friend since the 2nd grade, to be precise) told me they need quick recipes that taste good, can serve a small army, I mean, family, and aren’t loaded with unhealthy ingredients. Enter the Slow Cooker Jamaican Jerk Pork recipe.

Why I love this recipe: Mission accomplished! I’m pretty sure I met all of the criteria established during the serious brain storming session when said friend (see above) was last in town for a visit. Fast, simple ingredients, large quantity, tasty, healthy and freezable! Woo hoo! It’s always good to make sure your friends are happy.

Why this recipe is healthy: Instead of using pork shoulder, a relatively fatty cut of pork, I chose pork loin roast. This is a leaner cut and performs quite well in the slow cooker. Sometimes there’s a little extra layer of fat on this cut too, so feel free to cut some of that off before putting the rub on it. Besides that, pretty much that dry rub, pineapple and slow-cooking make this a relative healthy alternative to so many other pulled pork recipes. 

And here are the pretty pictures:

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Slow Cooker Jamaican Jerk Pork


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

A simple rub of vibrant jerk spices makes this pork perfect in a sandwich, on top of a bed of lettuce or whole grains, stuffed in a pita or as a topping for pizza.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 23 tablespoons jerk seasoning (use 2 for less heat, 3 for more heat)
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds pork loin roast, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 small yellow or white onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher or sea salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, combine the jerk seasoning, brown sugar, garlic and salt. Rub seasoning mixture all over pork roast. If doing this step the night before, place the pork in a rimmed baking dish or rimmed sheet pan, cover and refrigerate.
  2. Spread the sliced onions in the bottom of a 4 1/2-6 quart slow cooker. Place pork roast on top of the onions.
  3. Pour 1/2 cup pineapple juice and the chicken broth around the roast. Cover slow cooker with a lid and cook on low for 8 hours.
  4. Carefully remove 1 1/2 cups of cooking liquid and discard. Using two forks, shred pork in the slow cooker. Add the remaining 1/4 cup pineapple juice and the apple cider vinegar. Cover and cook on low for at least 30 more minutes. Season with salt and serve.

Notes

  • This recipe makes about 6 cups of pulled pork. Lucky you!
  • Not hot enough? Top with a dash of hot sauce before serving.
  • Making sandwiches? Top with a carrot or cabbage slaw tossed with a simple dressing of apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard and canola oil.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 10
  • Calories: 261
  • Sugar: 5
  • Sodium: 233
  • Fat: 9
  • Saturated Fat: 3
  • Unsaturated Fat: 4
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 6
  • Protein: 37
  • Cholesterol: 108

Pumpkin Spice Granola Recipe

I’m keeping this post simple because I feel it could easily get out of hand, fast!

Here’s the deal, like the rest of America, I am in love with pumpkin.

For some people, this is just a trendy type of love, but for me, it’s the real deal and it’s got roots, people, serious roots. You see my love of pumpkin stems from my love of Halloween. And that love story began a long, long time ago, back when I was embarking on my first trick-or-treating experience. Long before I knew that candy was just the beginning of my beautiful (and believe it or not, healthy) relationship with all things sugar. Now that I have such an advanced palate (uh huh, yep, I do. Ha!) and a degree in Nutrition, I can take what I love and put a de”light”full spin on it. Enter, my pumpkin spice granola.

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Red Curry Quinoa Soup

Why I made this recipe: Because “soup season” has officially begun in my household and because I really enjoy a bold-flavored, hearty soup like this Red Curry Quinoa Soup.

Why I love this recipe: Well, for the reasons I made this soup and for a few more too. First, quinoa is one of my favorite grains, not only is it nutritious, but it cooks super fast. That means this soup comes together fast too! Why else, you ask? Because it’s totally satisfying. There’s nothing I dislike more than a weak, bland, watery soup. This one is none of those things! 

How this recipe is healthy: Oh, that quinoa! Not only does it cook fast, but it is so nutritious! A perfect source of vegetarian protein and loaded with fiber and iron, it’s a delightful alternative to rice and other grains. And how about that red curry paste! Never heard of it? Well, let me introduce you to your new kitchen staple. This stuff is simply magical. Typically used in Thai cooking, it adds serious depth of flavor to any dish you make, plus a little heat. All of that flavor doesn’t even come at a caloric cost either! The ingredients, usually chili peppers, garlic, galangal (or Thai ginger), shallot, spices and kaffir lime are foods that are loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients, that also happen to be amazingly flavorful. A true culinary and nutritional gem.  

And here are the pretty pictures:

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Red Curry Quinoa Soup


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

A hearty soup made with earthy, robust red curry paste, fresh vegetables and quinoa.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced (about 3/4 cup chopped)
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 medium sweet potato, diced (about 1 1/2 cups chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 2 teaspoons peeled, chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (or water)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Sea or Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a pot set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper and sweet potato and cook, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, curry paste and ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the quinoa and cook 1 minute more. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender and quinoa is cooked.
  3. Remove from heat and add the lime juice. Season with salt to taste and garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.

Notes

  • Cut the potatoes into half-inch cubes, this helps them to cook more quickly. And don’t worry if they’re not exactly a half-inch, just about that size is perfect! 🙂
  • Portion is a generous 1 cup.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 6
  • Calories: 164
  • Sugar: 2
  • Sodium: 637
  • Fat: 4
  • Saturated Fat: 1
  • Unsaturated Fat: 3
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 26
  • Protein: 6
  • Cholesterol: 0

Basic Black Beans From Scratch – Recipe Redux

Looking to “amp-up” your freezer-meal arsenal? Have no fear, because my Basic Black Beans are here!

Ok, so that was a little hokey, but it’s true! This month’s theme for the Recipe Redux was to share one of our favorite freezer meals. Immediately, I thought of my favorite recipe for basic black beans. How many times have they saved my life? More than I can count, let’s just say that.

What’s so great about these beans? EVERYTHING!

I’m not joking. They are just an all-around hero in my house and let me tell you why. First, they are made from scratch and that makes for some pretty perfect beans. Oh, I hear you mocking me about that, but hear me out. When you cook beans from scratch, you get to flavor them and control their firmness. Have you ever tried to eat a bean from a can, just by itself? It’s not that great, right? Generally flavorless and slightly on the mushy side, right? Well, those beans have their purpose, but not when I just want to sit down and eat a bowl full. Second, these beans are freezer champions. Meaning, you can stick these beauties in the freezer and then break off bits and pieces when you want them. It’s amazing and such a time saver!

Oh, I can almost hear you now…”Sara, this is great, but what the heck am I going to do with all of these beans?”

Don’t freak out! I wouldn’t leave you hanging like that! There’s sooooo much you can do with these. First, you can literally just eat them out of the pot like soup. Top a bowl of black beans with Greek yogurt, a little salsa and cheddar cheese and you’ve got an amazing meal. Or, drain them and add them to tacos or burritos. Still not buying it? Try mashing them up and putting them in a quesadilla or on top of a piece of whole grain toast along with some avocado. Sound good? Whew…now go make them and see for yourself!

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Basic Black Beans From Scratch


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

With just a little planning, delicious black beans can be yours to be used in any meal. These beans freeze well, so enjoy some now and stick them in the freezer to have later.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried black beans, sorted and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

Instructions

The night before

  1. Place the rinsed black beans in one or two large, sealable container(s) and pour enough water over them to cover by a few inches (they’ll expand a little, so give them room!)

To cook the beans

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin seeds, stirring and cook an additional 1 minute.
  2. Drain the beans from the soaking liquid (you can toss the soaking liquid) and place in the pot with the onions and cumin. Add the water, garlic and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Stir, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover partially with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, Add the salt and cook an additional 15-20 minutes or until the beans are tender, but still holding their shape.
  3. Remove beans from the heat and stir in the Mexican oregano.
  4. Serve as is for the perfect side dish or drain and add to tacos or quesadillas. They can also be served as soup and topped with Greek yogurt, chopped tomatoes and fresh cilantro.

Notes

  • Makes about 6 cups drained black beans.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 12
  • Calories: 146
  • Sugar: 1
  • Sodium: 8
  • Fat: 2
  • Saturated Fat: 0
  • Unsaturated Fat: 1
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 25
  • Protein: 8
  • Cholesterol: 0

 


Easy Pizza Toasts

I know you and I know you love pizza.

You love it so much that you insist on ordering it at least once a week from your favorite pizza place. While that’s fine and good, it’s um, actually not. Many pizza places load on the heavy toppings and leave you feeling like you just ate a vat of oil topped with a salt lick. Yuck. Ok, well, maybe it tastes good at the time, but it can leave you feeling pretty gross. But don’t worry, I have a solution! My famous (or soon-to-be-famous) Easy Pizza Toasts.

Yes, pizza can be yours and it can taste good and leave you feeling awesome!

What’s the trick? There isn’t one! Yup, it really is easy. Let me explain. Start with some yummy whole wheat bread then slice it thinly. Cook up some yummy veggies (this toast I made with onions and squash) – hint, cut them up small so that they cook fast (this also makes them look super cute on your toasts). Spread a little marinara on top of those bread slices, top with a little cheese (a good, flavorful sharp cheddar is my favorite), then add the veggies. Slide them into the oven for about 10 minutes  and you’ve got Easy Pizza Toasts!

So, no more heavy pizza for you (ok, have it every once in awhile), instead enjoy the crispy, crunchy, veggie-goodness of these Pizza Toasts!

 

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Easy Pizza Toasts


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

Quickly sautéed veggies piled high on whole grain bread topped with cheddar cheese then toasted in the oven.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1/2 loaf, 15-ounce whole wheat baguette, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices on the bias
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion (about 2 1/2 ounces), diced small
  • 1/2 medium zucchini (about 5 ounces), diced small
  • 1/2 medium yellow squash (about 5 ounces), diced small
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 cup canned or jarred marinara sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400’F. Line a 9×13-inch sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. (You may need to adjust the heat to prevent burning.) Stir in the zucchini, squash and salt and cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and oregano and cook one more minute. Remove pan from the heat.
  3. Spread marinara sauce evenly over bread slices, then sprinkle with cheese. Top each slice with some of the squash mixture. Transfer pan to the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until bread is toasted and cheese has melted.
  4. Garnish with fresh basil before serving.

Notes

  • This recipe makes 20 pizza toasts. A great appetizer or main dish!

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 5
  • Calories: 476
  • Sugar: 7
  • Sodium: 1034
  • Fat: 23
  • Saturated Fat: 11
  • Unsaturated Fat: 11
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 50
  • Protein: 20
  • Cholesterol: 49

Blueberry Greek Yogurt Muffins with Crystalized Ginger

It’s time for another recipe for the Short and Sweet Series:

Let’s talk blueberry muffins!!!

Why I made this recipe: Because I wanted  muffins. 🙂 Oh, and I wanted to try and make them healthier by using Greek yogurt.

Why I love this recipe: Because they are loaded with blueberries and I adore blueberries (see below). Plus, I like that they are a little heartier and denser than your average muffin, thanks to the Greek yogurt.

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Triple Berry Jam

I love jam. I am not kidding. It’s just my thing…jam is my jam. There really is something special about it. In fact, there was a Christmas a few years back where my mother-in-law bought me jam, and it just about brought me to tears! Bless her, because it was and still is, a very happy and memorable moment. Jam-of-the-month club? Sign me up!

But here’s the deal, sometimes those jams are loaded with sugar. I know, a lot of people dig that extra shot of carbohydrate-crazy in the morning, but not me. I like the fruit and I want to taste the fruit, not the sugar. So, when I’m itching for some seriously tasty, fruity jam, I make my own. It’s completely simple to do and I love that I control what goes in it, that means less sugar, more fruit. Yay!

This triple berry jam is a great way to enjoy the rest of your summer produce. Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are all delicious and amazingly nutritious, so why not make a jam out of them!? If you don’t have fresh, use frozen, just know that you may need to cook it a little longer than the recipe below states.

What else can you use this delicious jam for besides toast? How about swirling it in yogurt? Or adding it to your bowl of oatmeal? I also think it’s pretty amazing on top of frozen yogurt or a piece of angel food cake. Yum!

Ps-Don’t skip the zest! It’s such a refreshing addition. Just be sure to wait to add it until the jam has cooled off a bit, otherwise it’ll just taste bitter.

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Triple Berry Jam


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

A simple homemade jam made with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, orange and a touch of honey.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled and quarted (or cut into eighths if large)

Instructions

  1. Combine the honey and orange juice in the bottom of a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the fruit, stir, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes.
  2. Remove pan from the heat, transfer the jam to a bowl or jar and allow to cool.
  3. Once cooled, stir in the orange zest then cover with a lid and refrigerate until ready to enjoy.

Notes

  • Makes about 1/3 cup jam.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 222
  • Sugar: 42
  • Sodium: 4
  • Fat: 1
  • Saturated Fat: 0
  • Unsaturated Fat: 1
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 56
  • Protein: 3
  • Cholesterol: 0

In A Rush? Try this Hummus Sandwich!

Why I made this recipe: Because I need things to be simple sometimes, yet I also want them to taste good and be relatively healthy. I mean, who doesn’t want that? Or, should I say, why wouldn’t we all want that!?

Why I love this recipe: It requires no cooking which means my kitchen (and all of those in it) stay cool. It’s quick and easy to put together, something your kids could definitely help you do. It’s loaded with flavor, especially if you use a delicious hummus that’s loaded with good things like veggies or garlic. I also love it because I utilized a simple restaurant trick of dressing the greens before putting them in this sandwich. Yum, it’s a step you shouldn’t skip!

How this recipe is healthy: It seems I am turning into a bit of a vegetarian these days. Or maybe I am just having a summer love affair with vegetables? I can’t help it, they are so good. So, this recipe is loaded with healthy, nutrient-rich vegetables and accented with a tiny bit of full-flavored feta cheese. The dressing on the greens is made from olive oil (yay to unsaturated fat!) and the hummus is a great spread that adds flavor without adding excessive calories and fat. Pile it all on some seriously delicious, whole-grain bread, and you’ve got yourself a winning dish that would make any dietitian (or mom) proud!

And here are the pretty pictures:

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The Fast Veggie & Hummus Sandwich


  • Author: Sara Haas

Description

A simple sandwich loaded with fresh vegetables, hummus and feta cheese.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups baby spinach or arugula leaves
  • 8 slices whole wheat bread (use good, hearty bread for this)
  • 1 cup hummus (plain, roasted red pepper, garlic, whatever!)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
  • 1 cup sliced tomato

Instructions

  1. In the bottom of a mixing bowl, combine the mustard, vinegar and garlic. Whisk in the olive oil and season with black pepper. Add the spinach or arugula and toss to coat.
  2. If desired, lightly toast the bread slices. Lay out the bread slices on a clean surface and spread 1 tablespoon of hummus onto each slice. On half of the slices, add the feta, cucumber, spinach and tomatoes. Top with other bread slice and serve.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4
  • Calories: 363
  • Sugar: 6
  • Sodium: 669
  • Fat: 17
  • Saturated Fat: 4
  • Unsaturated Fat: 12
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 42
  • Protein: 13
  • Cholesterol: 8