Avocado Hummus and Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

I guess these aren’t really sandwiches – they’re like half sandwiches.  Unless of course you eventually do what I did, and stick two half sandwiches together because they were just that good.  If you’ve been reading some of my most recent posts, you’ve probably noticed the avocado theme that’s going on.  Recent posts include Avocado Chocolate Chip Cookies, Quinoa Burgers with Avocado Sauce, and who could forget that protein packed Avocado Chicken Salad.  What can I say?  They’re delicious.  And I’m determined to work them into as many dishes as I can.  For a while now, I’ve been playing around in my head with the idea of an avocado hummus.  I’m happy to say that that idea has finally become a reality.  And oh, what a delicious reality it was.  

Avocado Hummus, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

 

This recipe is soooooo easy.  It’s one of those “just throw everything in a blender and push start” recipes.  Sometimes those are my favorite.  As much as I love cooking and playing in the kitchen, let’s be honest–it takes a lot of time and energy.  And sometimes I am just too tired for anything complicated.  However, being un-complicated doesn’t have to mean boring, bland, or take-out.  I love easy, fast, and healthy recipes like this.  Perfect for busy days.  As delicious as this was on bread alone, I knew it would be awesome paired with cucumber.  The hummus itself is so fresh and light tasting.  It just screamed at me, “Top me with a cucumber!!!!!”  And when the food starts talking–you just have to listen.  (Disclaimer, I’m writing this post at 11pm after three sleepless nights, so forgive me if I sound somewhat crazier than usual.)

Avocado Hummus, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

As little tea-sandwich-like bites, I think that these are super perfect for taking to any sort of summer get-together.  Bridal showers, baby showers, family reunions, fancy tea parties thrown on the sweeping lawn of Downtown Abbey–these are all excellent venues for Avocado Hummus and Cucumber Tea Sandwiches.  (If you are preparing for a big, food centered get-together, you may also want to check out 5 Tips for Surviving Get-Togethers without Blowing your Diet.)  Here’s how you prepare these crunchy little delectables…

Ingredients: 

1 ripe avocado, peeled and seeded
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed with cold water to remove excess sodium
1/2 cup of low fat cottage cheese
1/4 cup lemon juice (I love lemon, so if you aren’t as much of a fan, maybe start with 2 or 3 Tbsp and work your way up)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
A French baguette, sliced thin
1 or 2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced thin into rounds, and then into half moons

Method: 

1.  Put avocado flesh, chickpeas, cottage cheese, lemon juice, garlic, and salt into a high speed blender or a food processor.  Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed. 
2.  Taste and be happy.  Or, add more salt or lemon juice if you think it needs it. 
3. Spread some delicious hummus onto a slice of baguette.  Top with a cucumber half moon.  Grind on some fresh black pepper.  
4.  Once again, eat and be happy. 

Avocado Hummus, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

As mentioned, you can eat the little halves daintily, or if you’re more like me, then you can stack ’em up and make a sandwich. 

Avocado Hummus, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

 

Avocado Hummus, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

 

If you are really into dips and spreads, you may also want to check out other fun recipes including Pumpkin Hummus, Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips, Smoky Sesame Crushed Pea Dip, Spinach and Artichoke Dip, and Tomatillo Bruschetta.  

Also, if any of you lovely readers are vegan (like my new friend Celeste over at Honk if You’re Vegan 🙂 ), then you can try making this without the cottage cheese and adding olive oil a Tbsp at a time to get a good consistency.  If anyone does try that, please let me know how it turns out in the comments section! 

Okay friends, it’s been a long week.  I hope this post gets your weekend off to a good start.  Here, this should help…..

Luna,  (healthy)Vittles&Bits

 

Luna was very attentive during this whole hummus-making process…

Luna, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

And of course, she was ever so helpful by licking my fingers clean 😉  
Maybe that grosses some of you–but any dog lovers out there understand, I’m sure.  

Have a very happy (and healthy) weekend everyone!  

 

Quinoa Burgers with Creamy Avocado Sauce

I think we can all agree, that sometimes pictures speak louder than words.  That being said…

BAM!  How delicious does that look?

BAM! How delicious does that look?

If you’re thinking that it looks super delicious – you would be absolutely right!

I love quinoa, and am always looking for ways to use it as a meat substitute, as it is a complete protein source that doesn’t come from an animal.  In other words, if you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, quinoa is your best friend!

These burgers were very easy to make – and you know me, I’m always looking out for convenience!  I actually made these for a dinner party with the other fabulous dietetic interns, and it was great cause I made them the day before and shaped them into patties and then just popped them into the fridge until I needed to cook them up the next day.  Super easy!

You could serve these “burgers” on a traditional bun with the usual condiments – ketchup, mustard, onions, pickles, etc.  However, sometimes I like to be a little bit fancier than that and really do something different  – enter avocado sauce.

Now, if you know me well, you’re laughing right now.  Up until about a month ago I hated avocado, and now I just can’t get enough of it.  I’m a big fan of texture in my food, and I just couldn’t get past how freaking slimy it was!  However, one day I was at the greatest sushi restaurant in central PA (Akitas in Lemoyne) and I decided to be brave and order a roll that was topped with avocado.  O.M.G.  It was AMAZING.  And that’s when I had this brilliant (heavy sarcasm) revelation that I could eat avocado with other foods and the other foods could bring the texture while the avocado delivered big time on flavor and nutrients.  (Sometimes it takes me a while to realize the really obvious things in life…)  For other delectable revelations including avocado, be sure to check out my Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad, and of course the Avocado Chocolate Chip Cookies 🙂

Thus, when it came time for my “fancy” intern dinner, I knew just the thing to serve with my quinoa burgers.  Here are the recipes for each:

Quinoa Burgers

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked quinoa
3/4 cup reduced fat, shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup of low fat cottage cheese
About 5 or 6 baby carrots that I shredded in my little mini food processor
3 eggs
2 Tbsp flour
2 green onions, diced
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp of garlic powder
a dash of salt (optional if you’re watching your sodium)

Method:

1. Combine quinoa and 2 cups water in a large pot on the stove. Cook over high heat till boiling, then reduce to a simmer and cover.  Let it simmer for about 20 minutes, till all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is sort of fluffy.  Once it’s cooked, remove from the heat and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, and all the other ingredients.  Stir till it’s all well mixed. At this point, you can either shape them into patties and cook them, or shape them into patties and place on a cookie sheet to be refrigerated until you need them.
3.  To shape patties, use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop up enough for each patty. This will make 12 patties.  Just scoop up the mixture and then plop it onto a cookie sheet and using your hands carefully smooth the edges and push it down into a patty shape.  If you’re going to cook them later, just place a sheet of cling wrap on them and pop into the fridge.

Ready to go in the fridge!

Ready to go in the fridge!

4. To cook them, spray a skillet with non-stick spray and cook over medium heat for a few minutes. When the bottom side starts to turn golden brown, flip and cook the other side for a few minutes.  Then, serve with delicious avocado sauce and enjoy (recipe below).

IMG_1256

Avocado Sauce

Ingredients:

1 large, ripe avocado, peeled and seed removed
1/2 cup of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp hot sauce (I used Frank’s red hot)
a dash of salt

Method:

1. Blend everything in a high speed blender or food processor.  Then, devour!  It tastes kind of like Ranch dressing actually.

What a beautiful and healthy meal!

What a beautiful and healthy meal!

As my avocado obsession is clearly just beginning, be prepared for more recipes featuring this slimy, green, delectable fruit.  If you have any that you want to share I’d love to hear from you in the comments section!

What’s your favorite way to eat avocado?

Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Bites :-)

I was bopping around on Pinterest the other day (as I often do) and saw a pin for apple cinnamon quinoa bites.  Intrigued,  I decided I had to try it. After all, I love quinoa, I love cinnamon, and I love apples – this has to be a good idea. At work, we had an office party on Thursday.  I figured, what better time to try them out?  So I baked up a batch (actually I tripled the recipe, so it was three batches).  These were SO EASY.

Bite sized things are just super adorable.

Bite sized things are just super adorable.

The original recipe came from this blog: And They Cooked Happily Ever After.  I pretty much just changed the quantity of the ingredients, and also used egg whites instead of whole eggs.

Ingredients:

3 cups cooked quinoa
3 cups instant oats
1 and 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 and 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
3 Tbsp maple syrup (Agave would probably work fine too)
2 apples, diced
about 1/2 cup of egg whites

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Spray mini muffin tins with nonstick spray. Or, you can do like me and mix it up – mini muffin tins and regular muffin tins (I find it easier to take the bigger sized “bites” for breakfasts).
2. In a big mixing bowl, mix together the quinoa and the oats.
3. In a separate, smaller bowl, mix together the spices and sugars. Then, add this into the quinoa and oat mixture and give it a good mix.
4. Add in the rest of the ingredients and then stir until the egg white is distributed evenly throughout the mixture.
5. Distribute mixture into the muffin tins and bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes for smaller bites, and 20 minutes for the full size “bites”.

There you have it – enjoy!

IMG_0677

 

These were great right out of the oven, but also great for popping in the microwave for 30 seconds to eat for a fast and hearty breakfast before work.

These are dense little bites, full of nutrition.  The quinoa and oats provide a great source of protein and fiber to keep you full until lunch.

 

Also, I recently made Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bites for the Super Bowl a few weeks ago, because let’s face it – a super bowl party isn’t a super bowl party without something buffalo chicken flavored.

Tasty and spicy!

Tasty and spicy!

The basic recipe for these bites can be found here: So Very Blessed – Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bites.

Substitutions/Changes I made included:

Using reduced fat mozzarella cheese
Using egg whites instead of whole eggs
Doubled the amount of onion
Used Chipotle Spiced Panko Breadcrumbs instead of regular

I feel like these would also be good with celery in them, but haven’t tried it yet. If you do try a variation on these, or any other quinoa bites, let me know – I am always looking for more bite sized variations 🙂

 

 

photo-97

 

LIttle Nelson had a very serious spinal surgery on Wednesday of last week. We just got him back on Friday.  So far he cannot move his back legs at all.  He is very scared and upset.  Please keep him in your thoughts/prayers for a safe recovery.  The vet said it’s going to be a very long process – complete recovery will take about a year, and we have to keep him confined from the other dogs and as immobile as possible for at least 4-8 weeks. I’ll keep you all updated as he begins to recover.