Mango Avocado Salsa

Mexican food was a staple of my diet all growing up. Mangos, unfortunately, were not. So now I find any excuse I can to sneak mangos into my meals (or salsa) because they’re rather delicious.

mango avocado salsa

If you shop at Costco, you’ve probably seen the mango salsa they sell there. It’s pretty good, but nothing ever quite compares to making it fresh. Especially when you can find good mangos for a good price! One of the keys to making good mango salsa is starting with good mangos. How do you choose a good mango? Find one with as little green as possible! The more red, the more delicious! It should be mostly red, with some yellow (and probably a little green, cuz let’s face it – you’re probably not going to find a perfect one unless you go to the tropics) and it should be somewhat firm but not hard.

So once you’ve got your mangos, you might be wondering what exactly to do with them. They can be a bit tricky, with their big, weird-shaped seed in the middle, and the skin that needs peeled off, but once peeled the mangos are super slippery. Well, let me share what I’ve found to be the easiest, fastest way to cut up a mango:

time saverStart by slicing down one side of the seed, starting at the top towards the middle, and curving outward around the seed, down to the bottom.

how to cut a mango 1

Repeat on the other side, so you end up with two slightly curved pieces that you cut off, and the seed (with some usable fruit still).

how to cut a mango 2

Cut a cross-hatch pattern into the fruit, cutting dow to the skin but not through.

how to cut a mango 3

Then flip it inside out, pushing the fruit up and out of the skin. Some pieces will probably just fall out, and the rest you can just run the paring knife as close to the skin as possible.

how to cut a mango 4

Repeat these steps on the other two sides of the seed (there is much less fruit here, but still enough to be worthwhile).

how to cut a mango 5

And now you’ve got lots of delicious mango bits!

mango salsa recipe

Now it’s salsa time! Chop up the green onion, crush the garlic, seed and chop the tomato and pepper, and cut up the avocado.

To seed the tomato, just cut it in quarters lengthwise, and then run a knife from one end to the other, just under the seeds, and they should fall right off.

mango salsa recipe deseed tomato

To cut up the avocado, basically follow the same method as cutting the mango, but just slice it in half instead of cutting around the seed. Or look at this post for some pictures and tips.

Stir everything up, let it sit for at least 15 minutes so the flavors can mix a bit, and enjoy!

mango salsa

(I know, it doesn’t have any avocado yet here… but it’s still delicious and beautifully colorful!)

Just eat it on chips, or put it on tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos….

mango avocado salsa burritos

We made chicken burritos with leftover rotisserie chicken, some refried bean, and the mango avocado salsa, and it was super yummy! So simple, and a great use for any leftover chicken!

mango avocado salsa chicken burrito

Mango Avocado Salsa

2 large ripe mangos
1 roma (or other small-medium) tomato
1 large avocado
1 red pepper
2 green onions
2 garlic cloves

1. Peel and chop the mangos (see tips above). Seed and chop the tomato and pepper. Cut up the avocado. Slice the green onions. Mince or crush the garlic. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

2. Let sit for about 15 minutes (or longer if you want) for the flavors to mix. Stir and serve!

Makes about 2-3 cups salsa.

change it upAdd a jalapeno or other chili pepper for a spicier salsa. Or add some chopped cilantro! (I just didn’t because my husband doesn’t like it!)

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Lentil Vegetable Coconut Korma

Somehow I made it through more than twenty years of life without ever eating Indian food. It’s tragic, really. So to make up for lost time, we eat a lot of Indian food now. It’s just so delicious!

lentil vegetable coconut korma

I’ve experimented with lots of different recipes, but my favorites to make always use coconut milk as a base for the sauce. It gives it so much flavor and makes it nice and creamy! Plus, of my experimental recipes, the ones with coconut milk have always turned out the best. Maybe some day I’ll figure out how to make some other types of Indian food… but coconut milk is just so good I don’t really mind.

We’ve been trying to have at least a few dinners each week without meat. It cuts down on cost significantly, and it’s generally healthier to eat less meat than most people eat. This meal still gets you a nice amount of protein with the lentils and cashews. But you could easily add/substitute chicken, fish, etc. That’s one of my favorite things about this recipe – it’s so versatile! You could honestly put just about anything in there, and it would taste good!

its good for youLentils have tons of soluble fiber (great for lowering cholesterol, filling you up, and stabilizing blood sugar, among other things) and are also high in protein. Carrots have lots of vitamins and antioxidants. Coconut milk has lots of vitamins and minerals, but is a bit high in saturated fats (although with no meat, and spread between at least six servings, it’s not bad.)

vegetable korma recipe

Get the lentils started on the stove while you chop up the vegetables.

vegetable korma with lentils recipe

Add the vegetables and spices, stir, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, until the lentils and veggies are soft. (If you can find a korma spice mix at the store, that should work just fine. Just check the sodium – a lot of packaged spice mixes have tons of salt!)

coconut korma with lentils and vegetables

Add the tomato paste and coconut milk and stir well. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in the cashews. Do a taste test to see if you need to add any more spices or salt. Then serve over rice.

vegetable coconut korma with lentils

Lentil and Vegetable Coconut Korma

1 cup lentils
3 cups water
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 red pepper
2 carrots
2 small potatoes
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it hot)
1/4 tsp saffron
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cashews, roughly chopped
salt to taste

1. Combine lentils and water in a large pan, and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Once it boils, reduce heat to low.

2. While lentils begin cooking, chop the onion, pepper, carrots, and potatoes. Add to the lentils. Crush in the garlic, and add the spices. Let simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils and vegetables are soft.

3. Stir in tomato paste and coconut milk. Simmer another 10 minutes.

4. Add cashews. Check the flavor, and add salt or more spices if desired. Serve over rice.

Makes about 6 servings

change it upAdd pineapple chunks for a sweeter curry. Add or substitute sweet potatoes, cauliflower, or other vegetables. Add chicken, fish, or beef for a “heartier” meal.

Oven baked Cajun fries

I love french fries. It’s kind of a problem. Like, if there are french fries, I will just keep eating them until there aren’t any more. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m still eating them. My husband makes fun of me for it. I guess the good news is we basically never eat fast food, so we rarely eat french fries.

But I do sometimes make french fries! And these are infinitely better for me than the things that may or may not actually be potatoes, soaked in grease and coated in salt. For starters, I never fry my “fries.” I always make them in the oven. I also, obviously, use real potatoes. And I don’t use much salt because I use other seasonings as well. And you know what? I like them better than the fast food fries! (Except maybe the Cajun fries from Five Guys. They’re pretty amazing.)

So here’s my take on Cajun Fries:

oven baked cajun french fries

I made my own Cajun seasoning rather than using one you can buy at the store on the spice aisle because those tend to be mostly salt. This one does have salt in it, but is also full of other spices to give the fries lots of flavor! This seasoning mix would also be really good for grilled chicken, corn on the cob, or other veggies.

homemade Cajun seasoning

Cajun Seasoning Mix

1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp crushed bay leaves
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it hotter)

Mix all spices together, and use on french fries, chicken, vegetables, etc. or store in an airtight container until ready to use.

This spice mix makes enough for about five medium potatoes if you’re making Cajun fries. You can easily double, triple, or quadruple the recipe if you’re making more fries, chicken, etc. or just to store for another day.

Now on to making the french fries!

First you’ll want to scrub the potatoes and cut off any bad parts. Then you can chop them into long thin strips, or use my time saver tip:

time saverCut the end off the potato so it’s flat and can stand up. Then use an apple slicer/corer to chop the potato.

trick tip fast homemade french fries

You’ll want to cut the center “core” piece smaller – I usually cut in in fourths.

homemade french fries tip

Ta-da! Lots of french fries cut in a matter of moments!

Now just toss them in a bowl with some olive oil, then add the Cajun seasoning and mix to coat.

homemade oven french fries

Cover a cookie sheet with foil – this makes clean up so much easier, and also helps the fries not to stick. Then lay out the fries in a single layer on the cookie sheet. Pop them in the oven and bake until as soft or crisp as you like! (I usually do about 15 minutes. 20 minutes should make them pretty crispy. Or just move them to the top rack.)

homemade oven baked cajun french fries

You’ll probably want to turn them over/mix them around about half way through just so they don’t stick or get too crispy on just one side. The easiest way to do this – since the foil cools almost instantly, pull them out of the oven, lift the edges of the foil, and just shake them around. Then use a fork to spread them back out, and stick them back in the oven.

Enjoy! (They’re extra delicious with a little bleu cheese dressing)

Oven-baked Cajun Fries

5 medium potatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
Cajun seasoning (see recipe above)

1. Preheat oven to 450. Wash and trim the potatoes, removing any bad parts. Cut into long thin strips (see tip above).

2. In a large bowl, toss potatoes with olive oil until evenly coated. Sprinkle in the Cajun seasoning and mix well.

3. Spread the fries in a single layer on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, turning fries over about half way through. For crispier fries, cook on top rack or for a longer time.

Honey Nut Oatmeal

This is another recipe that came from our dairy-free trial with our two-year-old. Oh man was it hard! Just coming up with things for him to eat (without just feeding him the same thing every meal) was difficult, but trying to actually keep a balanced diet was even harder!

We bought some almond milk to try out. We got plain almond milk so as to minimize sugar intake (he’s already got enough energy!), which, in my opinion, doesn’t taste too great. I guess maybe some people like it, but I’m not a huge fan. But turns out if you use it to cook oatmeal, it gives it a nice nutty flavor and creamier consistency than just cooking it in water.

Instead of just adding sugar, we added some peanut butter, which made it creamier, nuttier, and added protein. And then we drizzled a little honey on top for extra deliciousness.

honey nut oatmeal 1

its good for youOats are full of whole-grainy goodness, and when combined with almond milk and peanut butter you get a nice balance of protein and carbohydrates. And honey is kind of a super food – full of vitamins, minerals, and anti-bacterial properties. Great way to start your day!

To make this, you basically make it the same way you would “regular” oatmeal – just substitute the water or milk for almond milk, bring it to a boil, and stir in the oats. Cook for about 5 minutes, then stir in the peanut butter.

honey nut oatmeal 2

Dish into bowls and drizzle a little honey on top. Enjoy!

Honey Nut Oatmeal

2 1/2 cups almond milk
1 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 Tbsp + honey

1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring almond milk to a bowl. Pour in oats and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter.

3. Dish into 4 bowls and drizzle a little honey on top of each.

Makes about 4 servings.

Green Hummus

Have any of you seen the Brian Regan bit about how cranberries are getting into everything? Well, first of all, it’s pretty funny, and second, I’m kinda feeling that way about spinach. But you know, I’m ok with spinach getting into everything. It’s so good for you, and it’s one of the few vegetables I can sneak into my two-year-old’s diet.

green spinach hummus

This recipe came from the week we took our son off dairy to see if that was the cause of some tummy troubles. And let me tell you, taking a kid off diary whose favorite food is cheese is quite a task! I had to get pretty creative, especially getting protein and calcium into him. Hence the green hummus.

  •     its good for you Chickpeas have lots of protein (and almost no saturated fat), and spinach has lots of calcium (and about           every other vitamin you can think of)!

And it was also really tasty, really healthy, really easy to make, and my little guy gobbled up his “green sauce” and asked for more!

One other thing that’s nice about this recipe – in addition to being very healthy and fresh, it’s also dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free, which I know is a big issue for a lot of people.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s super fast and easy to make? Well, it is! All you have to do is dump all the ingredients in a blender or food processor! I didn’t even measure the spinach – I just put the other ingredients in first, and then filled it with as much spinach as I could.

green spinach hummus recipe 1

green spinach hummus recipe

Just blend it all up, scraping down the sides occasionally. If it’s too thick/dry, add a tablespoon or two of water.

Green Hummus

Ingredients:
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) (I used low-sodium)
2 Tbsp lime juice (about 1 lime)
2 Tbsp tahini or sesame seeds
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1-2 cups spinach leaves
salt and pepper to taste
water (if needed)

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender. (I didn’t measure the spinach, I basically just filled the rest of the food processor with as much as would fit.)

2. Blend all ingredients until smooth, stopping and scraping down the sides as needed. If it seems too thick, add a little water for a smoother consistency.

3. Serve with pita chips, veggie chips, crackers, vegetables, etc.

green spinach hummus 2

change it upYou could also add roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, a clove of garlic, or fresh cilantro for a little variety.