Back-To-School Meal Tips: Breakfast Edition

Source: http://www.fivehearthome.com/2015/01/01/healthy-oat-smoothies-recipe-blueberry-muffin-smoothie-peach-cobbler-smoothie/
Source: http://www.fivehearthome.com/2015/01/01/healthy-oat-smoothies-recipe-blueberry-muffin-smoothie-peach-cobbler-smoothie/

Whether you’re sending a little one off to school, or just looking to save some time and money as life shifts back into full gear this fall, these tips and recipes will help you stay happy, healthy, and stress-free in the upcoming months. From quick, energizing breakfast ideas to perfect packed lunches to easy family dinners, we’ve got you covered! So sit back, relax, and know that while life may get a bit more hectic as the weather turns cold, at least mealtime doesn’t have to.

First thing’s first: breakfast. We hear it all the time, but it’s true: breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. In fact, studies have shown that children who regularly eat breakfast have higher IQ scores than those who skip this meal. Unfortunately when we’re in the midst of the inevitable early-morning mad dash, we often compromise this important meal. Here are some tips and recipes to make sure you’re getting the most out of your breakfast (even when you’re in a rush!).

Breakfast Tips:

  • Lay things out the night before. Even just setting out plates and utensils the night before can make a difference when it’s 6am and your brain isn’t fully activated yet.
  • Always keep a supply of healthy on-the-go options available for those mornings you find yourself rushing out the door without a minute to spare. Breakfast bars, granola, yogurt cups, hearty muffins, and protein-rich smoothies are all great options (see recipes below!).
  • Prep ahead of time. Dedicate a Sunday afternoon to preparing several large, wholesome breakfast dishes–quiches, stratas, even breakfast burritos and pancakes!–to get you through the week (or the entire month, if you’re ambitious!).
  • Utilize your freezer. Your freezer can be your best friend when it comes to prolonging the life of those make-ahead meals. Many casserole-style breakfast dishes freeze quite well, but my personal favorite freezer-friendly breakfast is the good old smoothie. Make a big batch of protein-rich smoothies, then portion them out into mason jars or travel cups, and pop a few in the freezer for future use.

Breakfast Recipes:

1. Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars: Forget store-bought granola bars, which are often packed with sugar and additives. Here’s a perfect grab-and-go option that’s wholesome, perfectly sweet, and super easy to make on your own.

Source: http://minimalistbaker.com/healthy-5-ingredient-granola-bars/
Source: http://minimalistbaker.com/healthy-5-ingredient-granola-bars/

2. Blueberry Oat Muffins: These heart-healthy muffins are so moist and delicious, you’ll think you’re getting away with something.

Source: http://dearcrissy.com/healthy-blueberry-muffins/#_a5y_p=4134066
Source: http://dearcrissy.com/healthy-blueberry-muffins/#_a5y_p=4134066

3. Spinach, Kiwi & Chia Seed Smoothie: Don’t let the green color fool you. Sweet, tart kiwi fruit and creamy banana mask the flavor of the spinach (which adds a great nutritional boost!).

Source: http://joythebaker.com/2013/01/spinach-kiwi-chia-seed-smoothie/
Source: http://joythebaker.com/2013/01/spinach-kiwi-chia-seed-smoothie/

4. Strawberry-Banana Quinoa Smoothie: Cooked quinoa adds body and protein to this classic smoothie (and you’ll never know it’s there!)

Source: http://noblepig.com/2013/06/strawberry-banana-quinoa-smoothie/
Source: http://noblepig.com/2013/06/strawberry-banana-quinoa-smoothie/

5. Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie: Ok this one legitimately tastes like dessert. Kids love it. I love it. You’re going to love it. (It’s actually really healthy I promise.)

Source: http://skinnyms.com/chocolate-peanut-butter-paradise-smoothie/
Source: http://skinnyms.com/chocolate-peanut-butter-paradise-smoothie/

6. Baked Blueberry Oatmeal: Avoid the mess and hassle of homemade oatmeal in the morning. Make this freezer-friendly bake ahead of time and you’ll have creamy, satisfying oatmeal ready in seconds.

Source: http://www.tryanythingonceculinary.com/baked-blueberry-oatmeal/
Source: http://www.tryanythingonceculinary.com/baked-blueberry-oatmeal/

7. Almond Pancakes with Sour Cherry Syrup: A great family-friendly breakfast. Whip up a batch ahead of time and reheat in the microwave or on the stove over a low heat. The sour cherry syrup can also be made up to a week ahead.

Source: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/almond-pancakes-with-sour-cherry-syrup-51136810
Source: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/almond-pancakes-with-sour-cherry-syrup-51136810

8. Corn Meal and Oat Waffle Mix: Keep this dry mix on hand for speedy homemade waffles that are super satisfying.

Source: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/corn-meal-and-oat-waffle-mix-51195220
Source: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/corn-meal-and-oat-waffle-mix-51195220

9. Spinach, Mushroom & Feta Crustless Quiche: This has been my go-to crustless quiche recipe for years. It’s high-protein, totally customizable, and lasts in the refrigerator for over a week. You could easily freeze it, too!

Source: http://www.budgetbytes.com/2011/11/spinach-mushroom-feta-crustless-quiche/
Source: http://www.budgetbytes.com/2011/11/spinach-mushroom-feta-crustless-quiche/

10. Make-Ahead Omelets: Make a batch of these over the weekend then pop in the microwave for a beyond-easy weekday breakfast.

Source: http://www.incredibleegg.org/recipe/make-ahead-omelets/
Source: http://www.incredibleegg.org/recipe/make-ahead-omelets/

11. Freezer-To-Microwave Breakfast Burritos: Another great make-ahead recipe (that also happens to be very budget friendly!). Feel free to mix up the fillings to suit your tastes!

Source: https://newleafwellness.biz/2013/06/18/freezer-to-microwave-breakfast-burritos/
Source: https://newleafwellness.biz/2013/06/18/freezer-to-microwave-breakfast-burritos/

Is the stress subsiding yet? Maybe a little? Well we’re not done yet: next week we’ll be covering back-to-school lunches, including lunchbox tips, fun and filling recipes, and time-saving prep ideas. Until then, happy cooking!

New & Old Ways to Use Peak-Season Tomatoes

Various colorful tomatoes

It’s that time of year again! Gloriously juicy, perfectly sweet, and stunningly beautiful tomatoes are everywhere: pouring out of crates at the farmer’s market, clustered together in gardens and planter pots, and (hopefully!) in just about every meal you eat. If you’re as gaga over late-summer tomatoes as I am, you know how spectacular the flavors can be when you choose your fruit wisely and at just the right time. And I’ll give you a hint: this is the right time. Swing by your local farmer’s market or produce stand to make sure you’re getting the best quality possible. The year-long grocery store variety often pale (literally and figuratively) in comparison.

And so, this week, in celebration of this divine little fruit, we’ll review some simple, classic preparations and uses, as well as share some new and unique tomato-centric recipes for you to take a stab at this summer.

But before we begin, let’s review some of the basics. When choosing tomatoes, go for ones that are vibrant in color and are firm, with just a little give. Avoid any wrinkly fruits, as this is a sign of age. Also, go ahead and sniff your tomatoes; they should smell sweet and woody. Odorless tomatoes will have less flavor. To store, remove tomatoes from the bag and keep them at room temperature (storing them in the refrigerator can make them mealy). Leave them unwashed until right before you enjoy them. Once ripe, tomatoes will typically last two to three days.

Below is a lovely infographic that goes over some of the basic varieties of tomatoes, and their typical flavor profiles.

Source: http://www.joyfoodly.com/?s=tomatoes
Source: http://www.joyfoodly.com/?s=tomatoes

The Classics

To begin, here are a few of our favorite classic tomato preparations and recipes.

1. Spread a piece of toast (I like white or sourdough bread) with butter or mayonnaise, top with sliced fresh tomato, and sprinkle with sea salt. Voilà. (If you even need a recipe, here’s a good one.)

Source: http://www.kitchendaily.com/recipe/garlic-toasted-tomato-sandwiches
Source: http://www.kitchendaily.com/recipe/garlic-toasted-tomato-sandwiches

2. Make a simple salad of sliced tomatoes, torn herbs (basil or whatever you have on hand), and a drizzle of olive oil. Throw in some sliced mozzarella and you have a beautiful caprese salad.

3. Start with store-bought (or if you’re ambitious, homemade) cheese ravioli and transform it with plump cherry tomatoes and a shallot-white wine sauce. Get the recipe here.

Source: http://www.kevinandamanda.com/recipes/dinner/cheese-ravioli-with-five-ingredient-homemade-brown-butter-tomato-sauce.html
Source: http://www.kevinandamanda.com/recipes/dinner/cheese-ravioli-with-five-ingredient-homemade-brown-butter-tomato-sauce.html

4. Whip up some classic Pico de Gallo to enjoy with tortilla chips, atop tacos, alongside grilled fish, or mixed into salads.

5. Dot homemade focaccia bread with tiny heirloom tomatoes and fresh rosemary for a beautiful bread to serve alongside summer meals. Get the recipe here.

Source: http://theviewfromgreatisland.com/summer-tomato-focaccia/
Source: http://theviewfromgreatisland.com/summer-tomato-focaccia/

6. Blend tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, onion and garlic with high-quality extra virgin olive oil for a gorgeous, creamy gazpacho.

The Next Level

If you’re looking to shake things up, try one of these lesser-known (but equally fabulous) tomato recipes.

1. Enjoy a rustic tart of cherry tomatoes and fresh summer zucchini. See the recipe here.

Source: http://www.recipegirl.com/2013/08/09/rustic-tomato-and-zucchini-tart/
Source: http://www.recipegirl.com/2013/08/09/rustic-tomato-and-zucchini-tart/

2. For a sweet and savory tomato spread, try this Spicy Tomato Chutney It’s fantastic on sandwiches, and also makes a great addition to any cheese board.

3. Who needs a bowl when you can toasty, cheese-topped quinoa right out of a big, beautiful beefsteak tomato? Get the Quinoa and Goat Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes recipe here.

Source: http://inquiringchef.com/2013/07/18/quinoa-and-goat-cheese-stuffed-tomatoes/
Source: http://inquiringchef.com/2013/07/18/quinoa-and-goat-cheese-stuffed-tomatoes/

4. Top store-bought pizza dough with sliced tomatoes, chunks of brie cheese, and thinly sliced red onions for a divine Tomato and Brie Flatbread.

5. Make a show-stopping panzanella (a classically Tuscan salad of vegetables and chunks of bread, which soak up the salad dressing!). This gorgeous Heirloom Tomato Panzanella is about as good as it gets.

Source: http://theviewfromgreatisland.com/panzanella-salad/
Source: http://theviewfromgreatisland.com/panzanella-salad/

6. Fill individual pie crusts with fresh tomatoes, sweet onion, black olives, and feta cheese for the perfect addition to your next picnic. Get the Tomato Hand Pies recipe here. 

Well if I wasn’t hungry before writing this post I sure am now. Enjoy these beautiful recipes, and more importantly, enjoy those gorgeous tomatoes while they last! Hopefully we’ve inspired you to try something new, as well as return to some of the classics.

Sources: http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/popular-ingredients/tomatoes-101, http://www.seattletimes.com/life/food-drink/a-guide-to-tomatoes-and-the-best-use-for-each-type/, https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/18/a7/05/18a7050aa723af3cf63f30915003e765.jpg, http://www.joyfoodly.com/?s=tomatoes

11 Wonderfully Original Mason Jar Salad Recipes

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-best-new-way-to-bring-your-lunch
Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-best-new-way-to-bring-your-lunch

I’ll be honest. I’ve long been wary of the salad. How am I supposed to feel full and satisfied after eating a bowl of lettuce? It just doesn’t make any sense. My distaste for this healthy-eating staple is made even more shameful by the fact that I’ve been a pescatarian for almost 15 years. Recently, though, I had a revelation. It came in two parts. First, salads do not have to be 90% lettuce, and second, homemade salad dressing is a bajillion times better than store-bought.

Since fully realizing the implications of these two shockingly simple ideas, my salad game has improved drastically. I have eaten more salads in the last year than I probably have my whole life. And they’ve been fabulous. From southwestern salads packed with black beans, ripe avocado, and sweet corn, to Indian-inspired salads topped with roasted curried vegetables, creamy goat cheese, and crunchy cashews. Even the way you cut your vegetables can make a difference – crunchy, hearty veggies like beets, carrots, and Brussels sprouts make a beautiful raw salad when grated into tender shreds and topped with a rich ginger balsamic and slivered almonds. My mouth is watering just thinking about it…

Anyway, here I’ll share with you ten of my favorite mason jar salad recipes. Do they have to be made in a mason jar? Of course not, but the jar makes for easy transportation and lets you portion out a week’s worth of salads all at once. They also keep the dressing far away from tender greens and other wilt-prone ingredients until you’re ready to shake and enjoy. Plus, eating out of a mason jar is just plain fun!

The basic Mason Jar Salad technique looks like this:
1. Start with a good-sized mason jar. I typically use pint- or quart-size jars, which have enough space for a good shake (therefore giving your salad a good mix before enjoying!).
2. Always layer the dressing first, otherwise it will seep through the rest of the salad and soggify the rest of the ingredients.
3. Next, add heartier ingredients like sturdy veggies, beans, or nuts.
4. Next come the more delicate ingredients like tomato, berries, or pasta.
5. Top off your salad with the lettuce (or the most delicate ingredient) to avoid wilting and squishing!
That’s really all there is to it! Make a whole set of ’em ahead of time and grab-and-go for the entire week! It doesn’t get much easier.

1. Quinoa Chickpea Salad

Source: http://thechicsite.com/2012/03/07/quinoa-salad/
Source: http://thechicsite.com/2012/03/07/quinoa-salad/

Protein-rich quinoa and chickpeas make this a great power lunch salad. Get the recipe here.

2. Greek Pasta Salad

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-best-new-way-to-bring-your-lunch
Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-best-new-way-to-bring-your-lunch

Fresh, bright veggies and a simple, homemade lemon vinaigrette give this easy salad fantastic flavor, while pasta adds substance. Get the recipe here.

3. Tripple Berry Nut Salad

Source: http://www.recipecorner.com/recipe/article/easy-and-quick-recipe/5-affordable-mason-jar-lunches-under-500-calories
Source: http://www.recipecorner.com/recipe/article/easy-and-quick-recipe/5-affordable-mason-jar-lunches-under-500-calories

Forget the lettuce! This hearty mason jar fruit salad is packed with flavor, nutrients, and protein. A simple orange honey dressing adds the perfect touch of tartness. Get the recipe here.

4. Southwestern Pepper Jack Salad with Creamy Avocado Salsa Dressing

Source: http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Vegetarian-Taco-Salad-34764271
Source: http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Vegetarian-Taco-Salad-34764271

Here’s that southwestern beauty I hinted at above. Creamy avocado dressing and pepper jack cheese put this salad over the top.  Get the recipe here.

5. Caprese Salad

Source: http://teewii.com/mason-jar-caprese-salad/
Source: http://teewii.com/mason-jar-caprese-salad/

This salad is beautiful in its simplicity. The key is to use the best tomatoes and mozzarella you can get your hands on! Get the recipe here.

6. Roasted Beet, Orange and Quinoa Salad

Source: http://dorastable.com/roasted-beet-orange-quinoa-salad/
Source: http://dorastable.com/roasted-beet-orange-quinoa-salad/

This bright, citrusy salad recipe is a great one to break out during those dark winter months when you need a burst of color and flavor in your life! Get the recipe here.

7. Seven-Layer Avocado Salad

Source: http://www.californiaavocado.com/blog/seven-layer-avocado-salad-mason-jar
Source: http://www.californiaavocado.com/blog/seven-layer-avocado-salad-mason-jar

Layers of bright, multi-colored veggies make this salad a real showstopper, and the variations are endless! Get the recipe here.

8. Watermelon, Feta and Arugula Salad

Source: http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2015/07/watermelon-feta-and-arugula-mason-jar-salads.html
Source: http://sweetpeasandsaffron.com/2015/07/watermelon-feta-and-arugula-mason-jar-salads.html

This savory-sweet salad is perfect for a light summer lunch or picnic. Get the recipe here.

9. Wheat Berry Apple Salad

Source: http://www.savoringthethyme.com/2011/06/summertime-picnic-food-ideas-wheat-berry-apple-salad-in-a-jar/
Source: http://www.savoringthethyme.com/2011/06/summertime-picnic-food-ideas-wheat-berry-apple-salad-in-a-jar/

Wheat berries, a whole grain packed with vitamins and fiber, make this salad super hearty, and cranberries and apples add a burst of sweetness. Get the recipe here.

10. Chickpea Salad

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-best-new-way-to-bring-your-lunch
Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-best-new-way-to-bring-your-lunch

Feel free to swap out veggies or try a different variety of beans in this versatile salad. Get the recipe here.

11. Zucchini Pasta Salad with Avocado Spinach Dressing

Source: http://www.sugarfreemom.com/recipes/mason-jar-zucchini-pasta-salad-with-avocado-spinach-dressing/
Source: http://www.sugarfreemom.com/recipes/mason-jar-zucchini-pasta-salad-with-avocado-spinach-dressing/

Spiraled zucchini “noodles” and a creamy spinach avocado dressing are the stars of this salad. Get the recipe here.

I hope to have converted at least a few salad-haters with this post! Remember, mix it up, keep things fresh, and experiment! Quick, healthy lunches–or even leisurely ones–can be easy and fun when you keep an open mind and prep ahead of time!

Food as an Art Form

These culinary creatives take “playing with your food” to a whole new level.

1. Jessie Bearden

Source: https://instagram.com/jessiebearden/
Source: https://instagram.com/jessiebearden/

Location: New York, NY
Mediums: Ice cream, cereal, condiments, & more
Subjects: Celebrities & pop culture
Website: http://www.jessiebearden.com/
About Jessie: Having blown up on Instagram with her show-stopping edible portraits, Bearden, at just 23 years old, is now producing work for big league brands like McDonald’s and Jelly Belly. In a recent interview with People Magazine, Bearden expressed that painting just felt too limiting. She found the colors and textures of everyday food inspiring, and so turned to this more unconventional medium to express her creativity.

2. Julie Lee

Sources: http://shop.julieskitchen.me/product/summer-tomato, https://instagram.com/julieskitchen/
Sources: http://shop.julieskitchen.me/product/summer-tomato, https://instagram.com/julieskitchen/

Location: Venice, CA
Mediums: Fruits, vegetables, & more
Subjects: Produce & prepared food
Website: http://julieskitchen.me/
What she has to say: “My food collages on Instagram started out as a way to showcase seasonal and local offerings from neighborhood farmers markets. It’s evolved into an ongoing project in the study of plant design, exploration of color theory, and pure, unadulterated food-love.”

3. Jason Mercier

Source: http://www.jasonmecier.com/
Source: http://www.jasonmecier.com/

Location: San Francisco, CA
Mediums: Food of all kinds
Subjects: People (mosaic portraits)
Website: http://www.jasonmecier.com/title.html
How he got his start: “Though I have no formal art training, I did have an excellent mentor in my grandmother, Anita Tollefson. When I was young, I remember being mesmerized by her paintings, weavings, mosaics, sculptures, collages, and stained glass work … My grandmother encouraged me to create masterpieces using materials readily available to me. She would rather paint on the back of her cigarette cartons than buy a canvas. I learned from her that I can make art out of anything I want to, and that there are no rules.”

4. Hong Yi

Source: https://instagram.com/redhongyi/?hl=en
Source: https://instagram.com/redhongyi/?hl=en

Location: Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Mediums: A little bit of everything
Subjects: Landscapes, people, animals
Website: http://www.ohiseered.com/, https://instagram.com/redhongyi/
How she describes herself: “Artist + shy rebel. Paints without a paintbrush. Learning to live a life bigger than myself.”

5. Michael Breach

Source: http://baristart.com/
Source: http://baristart.com/

Location: Brooklyn, NY
Mediums: Coffee
Subjects: People (portraits)
Website: http://baristart.com/
His mission: “I am here to share what I do, bring something new to the world, express myself through the medium of espresso and milk, and blow your mind in the process.”

6. Christel Assante

Sources: http://finedinelove.com/art-of-food-eggs-quisite-sculptures-by-christel-assante/, http://4rtgallery.blogspot.com/2013/04/eggshell-sculptures-by-christel-assante.html, http://myfoodfriend.net/2014/07/21/christel-assante-creates-delicate-sculptures-from-eggshells/
Sources: http://finedinelove.com/art-of-food-eggs-quisite-sculptures-by-christel-assante/, http://4rtgallery.blogspot.com/2013/04/eggshell-sculptures-by-christel-assante.html, http://myfoodfriend.net/2014/07/21/christel-assante-creates-delicate-sculptures-from-eggshells/

Location: France
Mediums: Eggshells
Subjects: Varies
Website: http://www.art-et-artisanat-du-monde.com/anglais/classement/Lumiere_Christel.php
Why eggs? “I like drawing on this very symbolic shape. It is such a pleasant material because it’s very porous, which allow numerous different techniques … The egg shape is able to present scenes which evolve as you turn around it. I like this idea.”

7. Jim Victor & Marie Pelton

Sources: http://jimvictormariepelton.com/, http://blog.pennlive.com/pennsylvaniafarmshow/2008/01/a_lot_of_patience_creativity.html, http://www.amazingworldonline.com/2013/02/udderly-delicious-butter-sculptures-by.html
Sources: http://jimvictormariepelton.com/, http://blog.pennlive.com/pennsylvaniafarmshow/2008/01/a_lot_of_patience_creativity.html, http://www.amazingworldonline.com/2013/02/udderly-delicious-butter-sculptures-by.html

Location: Philadelphia, PA
Mediums: Butter, chocolate, cheese, & more
Subjects: Farm animals, children, & more
Website: http://jimvictormariepelton.com/
A little about them: Jim and Marie are a husband and wife team that has been creating art together for more than fifteen years. The couple is best known for their larger-than-life butter sculptures, many of which were created for state and country fairs and expositions. However, their talents span far beyond just butter. Jim and Marie have done numerous commissions in bronze, steel, cast stone, and resin, and their work has been on display at a wide range of corporate and PR events.

8. Carl Warner

Source: http://www.carlwarner.com/
Source: http://www.carlwarner.com/

Location: London, England
Mediums: Vegetables, fruits, meats, cheeses, & more
Subjects: Landscapes
Website: http://www.carlwarner.com/
How he works: “I tend to draw a very conventional landscape using classic compositional techniques as I need to fool the viewer into thinking it is a real scene at first glance, it is the realization that the scene is in fact made of food that brings a smile that brings a smile to the viewer, and for me that’s the best part.”

The moral of the story? Not everyone can be a food artist prodigy, but you CAN be creative with more than just a pen and paper! So go ahead, play with your food! You have our permission.

Sources: http://greatideas.people.com/2015/07/29/instagram-food-art-caitlyn-jenner-rihanna/, https://instagram.com/jessiebearden/, http://www.jessiebearden.com/, https://instagram.com/julieskitchen/, http://relish.com/slideshows/10-incredible-artists-who-work-with-food/, http://www.webecoist.momtastic.com/2008/12/15/food-artists-and-sculptors/, http://www.jasonmecier.com/title.html, http://www.ohiseered.com/, https://instagram.com/redhongyi/, http://baristart.com/, http://myfoodfriend.net/2014/07/21/christel-assante-creates-delicate, sculptures-from-eggshells/, http://jimvictormariepelton.com/about-us/, http://www.jasonmecier.com/bio3.html