When You are Feeling Sweet and Sassy!

Recently the Blue Diamond Tastemakers program sent me two new flavors of almonds to try. Honey Roasted Vanilla and Honey Roasted Chipotle.
Blue Diamond Honey Roasted Vanilla Honey Roasted Chipotle Almonds

I had some grand plans of what I was going to do with these almonds. I wanted to crush up the Honey Chipotle almonds and use them as a coating for some chicken breasts, using a tiny amount of bbq sauce as a coating to adhere the crushed nuts to the chicken…
I wanted to incorporate the Honey Roasted Vanilla Almonds into my morning yogurt with fruit… and well… as you have seen on the blog… I had lost my job recently… and well… The almonds were consumed… as snacks not made into the fun ideas that swirled around in my mind.
Blue Diamond Honey Roasted Vanilla Honey Roasted Chipotle Almonds in portion controlled package with coffee to go as a snack
The day I went out on my bike ride, subsequently the day I got the “Can you come in tomorrow?” call, I was fueling my day with these Blue Diamond Almonds. Maybe these are good luck?

I enjoyed both flavors, but the chipotle was more to my liking, they vanilla was almost cloyingly sweet to me, but mixed well with the chipotle when I bagged them together. One of the things that I want to point out about these almonds though, that was actually the first thing I noticed when I received them was that Blue Diamond Almonds is supporting Honeybee Research! While I have a mega-fear of bees, wasps, hornets and all stinging insects due to my anaphylaxis, I do know how important bees are to our future. I love my produce, and flowers, and planet. I am SO THANKFUL when a company is taking steps to help causes that are important to me. So THANK YOU Blue Diamond for helping save he bees, BeeCause you care!

Disclaimer: Blue Diamond has provided me with this product, any thoughts and feeling on it are my own. They have not provided a monetary compensation for this.

Summer Salad Doldrums Solved, Out of the Blue!

Blue Diamond that is! One of the cues that summer is here for me is the wealth of fresh produce finally available. Most people that know me know my weekend routine used to be to hit the Farmers Market on Saturday and load up my car with all kinds of fresh goodies to last all week. Now I am out and about most of Saturday so it makes less sense to load up on a ton of things to get sad and soggy in my car all day.
There are some things that are just fine in my cooler bag all day long, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, heartier veggies, but now I am a twice a week farmers market girl, and I supplement that with lots of salad fixins from a variety of places. I am not a slave to any one market. I shop everywhere from Whole Foods, to Trader Joes, Costco to Target, I even pick things up at the local gas station (Kwik Trip) where I can score bananas for $.38/Pound!

One of the things that happens to be during the summer though is that I fall into a salad rut. I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, or maybe it’s just me. I can only stomach the same food for so long and then I don’t want to even think about it again. The problem is, I live in Minnesota… and if the winter that we just escaped is any indication of what we are in for in the future… I need to take full advantage of every morsel of fresh, beautiful flavorful produce while it is here. The seasons are never long enough, and I always no matter how sick I was of eating something find myself longing for just one more good *whatever* come winter. It’s usually a good summer tomato, with just a pinch of salt and pepper on it.

So I have taken to trying to keep my salads as interesting as possible… Impossible right? Sure it’s super easy to make a salad taste good if you add a a few ounces of of cheese, and maybe some croutons, or wonton strips those are popular now. How about meat… if some is good lets put more on! So instead of 4 oz of chicken let’s do 3oz of chicken, 3 of ham, and we need bacon right, and while we’re at it an egg. You might as well deep fry chicken fingers and go ahead and pour on some full fat salad dressing because you aren’t actually doing yourself any favors.

To make salads that I find interesting I usually play my own version of kitchen roulette.  I start with a bed of some kind of green.  Generally this is NOT iceberg, I personally feel if you are going to eat a salad iceberg is a waste of time.  If it’s what you like FINE eat it… you’re getting water, and that’s great, but try branching out to a romaine if you like a crisper lettuce, or a butter lettuce if you like something softer.  Spinach also makes a great salad base.  I also have been known to use Kale, Mixed greens, micro greens, it all depends on what looks good and what I have. I eat a lot of salads… Sometimes they have fruit… sometimes they have bacon… and sometimes they are NUTS! (Here are a few examples)

UpTown Cafeteria My Salad with Bacon

Sometimes I Custom Order Salads when I am Out to Brunch

 

Salad wiht Blueberries and Strawberries in need of Almonds

And sometimes we put fruit in our salads (this had cheese and Blue Diamond Almonds on the side!)

 

Once the greens are in play I have to decide what mouth feel I want for the salad. Blue Diamond’s Tastemakers program sent me a package with their Whole Natural and their Rosemary & Black Pepper to experiment with.  I knew I needed to choose ingredients that could stand up to a bolder flavor.  Rosemary is an intense flavor, I rarely cook with it because if you aren’t careful it is super easy to overseason with it.  Then you end up with Christmas Tree Chicken instead of Rosemary Chicken.

Salad with Blue Diamond  Rosemary & Black Pepper AlmondsFor this salad I chose to use a butter lettuce, which is a more tender lettuce,  but would balance well with the crunch of the almonds.  I added some avocado, turkey, olives, red peppers, onions, snow peas, banana peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers to this monster sized salad! The items I chose to add provided a good balance of textures as well as colors to the salad. I topped it off with a sprinkling of the Blue Diamond Black Pepper Rosemary Almonds, as well as a few of the Whole Naturals instead of using croutons.

The salad filled my stomach up so well.  I stayed satisfied for hours thanks to the healthy balance of fat and protein, not to mention the carbohydrate that mixed together by pairing these almonds with my salad.

I posted about this salad on my Instagram account, and posed the question to my friends, and now I want to hear from you as well… what do you put on your salad?  The one I mentioned above required no salad dressing.  The density of flavors from the avocado and the tenderness of the lettuce, and juices from the ripe summer veggies meant I did not need to add anything more.  Have you ever added Blue Diamond almonds to your salad?  I had previously added the Salt and Vinegar variety to salads, instead of adding my usual oil and vinegar dressing but I really enjoyed the change that the Rosemary & Black Pepper almonds brought to the dish.

handfull of blue diamond whole natural almonds

And remember… generally about 23 almonds is a serving… you don’t need to have a whole serving to top your salad… you can put a small handful on a cutting board and sliver or chop them down to feel that same satisfying crunch for far fewer calories or points.

 

 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds They sent me a 6oz can of Whole Natural almonds and a 6oz can of Rosemary & Black Pepper almonds and I ate them! THEY aren’t paying for my opinions, these are my thoughts. 🙂

A Swimmers Life

I do believe that I have officially returned to my “swimmers” life. I was sitting at Starbucks drinking my coffee and I could smell the chlorine on my skin. I showered and scrubbed after my Aqua Zumba class on Saturday morning. (Which by the way I LOVED!!)

I think it must be time to start investigating some new soap again. I have some tea tree soap from Trader Joes that I guess I might try.  I am unsure how to get the chlorine off of my skin. I suppose google will give me 1000 different answers but I was hoping maybe someone that reads my blog might have a “tried and true” product they love? I know I need to find a shampoo that gets the chlorine out. The UltraSwim I have been using is killing my hair. Too many Sulfites I guess.  I may just end up having to give up the coloring on my hair.  I know that sounds like a horrible though.  I mean, I just do it myself at home anyway.  It isn’t as if I am paying hundreds of dollars to have someone put color and highlights in my hair… heck I have issues paying to get my hair cut some days.  My hair is short, my color is important.  As I get older the grey becomes more apparent and I am not vain about it, it’s been there since I was 12… henna was my dye of choice at that age… and it was MESSY!!!

So I guess what I am saying is to the swimmers out there, aside from winning the lottery and being able to move somewhere with my own private water source, be it a body of water that is natural, or putting in my own with lighting to treat it in addition to the chemicals does anyone have any suggestions on chlorine removing shampoo or body products?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the smell of the chlorine… I kinda like it (does that make me weirder than I am?)  I just figure it can’t be good for my skin.