Tag Archives: healthy

Greek Chickpea Salad

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Greek Chickpea Salad

Winter in Southern Oregon can be a great time of year for many people.  There are so many things to do and see.  There are myriad of fun activities such as skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.  But, by the time February rolls around, I’ve grown tired of winter… Those feelings only get further amplified by unexpected snow falls, a foggy day or rain.  I’ve grown bored of wearing tall boots, long coats and hats.  I want my sandals, bright warm sunshine and blue skies back.  I recognize that spring is “just around the corner” but, there are times I just need a little bit of proof…

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Finding proof that warm spring weather is on its way was much easier than I thought.  As I was clipping fresh sprigs of rosemary from my garden for my Greek Chickpea Salad, I noticed a single blue flower on the tip of one of the rosemary stems.  As, I walked through the yard, other small signs of spring started to appear.  My tarragon and chives were starting to poke through the soil.  There were tiny buds on the branches of the cherry and crab apple trees.  All simple reminders that spring is nearly here!

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Fresh rosemary.  Rosemary is a wonderfully fragrant herb used in many Mediterranean dishes. I use rosemary frequently because I love the flavor and because it is so readily available to me.  I use it in many savory dishes that contain lamb, chicken or pork.  I use fresh rosemary in salads and homemade baked bread as well.  It’s a versatile herb that has earned a permanent place in my kitchen.  If you have the opportunity to plant rosemary in your yard, by all means do so!

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My Greek Chickpea Salad is prepared with canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), crunchy green cucumber, bright red grape tomatoes, red onion, tangy kalamata olives, dressed with a lemon garlic rosemary dressing and topped with feta cheese.  My Greek Chickpea Salad makes a wonderful side salad or as a main course for an easy vegetarian lunch.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients

  • 1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup cucumber (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup red onion (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives (sliced)
  • 3 –  4 Tbs olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp garlic paste (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/4  – 1/2 tsp rosemary (finely minced and to taste)
  • feta cheese (optional)

In a medium sized bowl, toss together the chickpeas, cucumber, tomato, red onion, parsley, and kalamata olives,  In a separate bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic paste, salt, pepper and rosemary.  Taste the dressing and correct your seasonings.  Be aware that fresh rosemary can easily overpower a dish.  Add the dressing to the garbanzo mixture.  Mix lightly.  Top with optional feta cheese.  Makes 2 lunches or 6 smaller side dish servings.

A Winter Weekend in the Cascade Mountains and Chicken Lentil Soup

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Chicken Lentil Soup 

I love living in Southern Oregon.  One of my favorite things to do during the winter months is to visit the Cascade Mountains.  This year our family and friends stayed in some cabins up at Hyatt Lake over the weekend.  Hyatt Lake is about an hour drive from our home but in snowy weather, it may take twice as long.  There was at least 3 feet of fluffy snow on the ground and the temperature was a bone chilling 16 degrees.   The only way we could get up to our cabins was with four wheel drive pickup trucks for there was nearly 10 miles of narrow snow packed roads.

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A view up towards the summit.

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Along the edge of Hyatt Lake.  The lake was frozen over.  During the summer months, Hyatt Lake is known for its wonderful trout fishing and camping.

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A view across the lake.  The ice on the lake was only a few inches thick and covered with snow.  We would not dare walk out onto the lake for it was too risky and dangerous.

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Sunset in the forest.  It was eerily quiet.  The only noise that we heard was the snow dropping off the branches of the trees.  There were no birds, squirrels or any signs of wildlife. The birds either migrated south or are spending the winter in the valley below. Other animals such as black bear, skunks and squirrels are hibernating in their dens.  Deer, cougars and elk generally find their way down to the warmer lower elevations during the cold winter months.

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A view from the top of the mountain.  You can see the ski resort at Mount Ashland in the background.

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Snow covered Chinquapin Mountain. In late spring, when the snow has melted, Chinquapin Mountain is one of my favorite places to hunt for Morel mushrooms.  When I get some mushrooms this year, I’ll be sure to post some delicious Morel mushroom recipes.

After spending a cold day in the snow, my Chicken Lentil Soup is a perfect way to warm up. My Chicken Lentil Soup is made with locally grown organic green Laird Lentils, carrots, onions, celery, chunks of tender chicken and flavored with my homemade Garam Masala Spice Blend.  It’s easy to make, tastes delicious, and as an added bonus, it’s really good for you too!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Laird lentils (washed and picked over)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup carrots (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 Tbs Garam Masala spice blend
  • 1 12 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1/2 pound cooked chicken (chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large sauce pan with a lid, saute onion, carrots, celery and red bell pepper in olive oil.  Cook until onions are translucent and tender.  Add lentils, Garam Masala, tomatoes, garlic and chicken stock.  Cook on low heat until lentils are tender, about 30-40 minutes.  Add cooked chicken about 10 minutes before lentils are done.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Serve hot with crusty bread.  Makes about 4 servings.

*Note:  I used precooked chicken that I found in the deli section of my favorite store.  I added the chicken towards the end of the cooking process because I wanted the chicken to stay tender.

Wheat Berry Salad and a walk along Bear Creek

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Wheat Berry Salad with Kalamata Olives and Feta Cheese

I’m not a big fan of making New Year’s resolutions.  All my resolutions such as losing weight and exercising more, historically have been destined for defeat.  So, since I despise failure, I don’t do resolutions anymore.  Nope, none, nada…  I look at it this way.  I make New Year’s expectations. Expectations for me are doable and achievable.  This year I expect to take smaller steps to improving my life and health.  I’m certainly not a perfect person but when I expect something out of myself, I do it.

One of the first things that Bruce and I did for the New Year was to take a long walk along Bear Creek here in the Rogue Valley.  Bear Creek is home to many species of birds, aquatic mammals and fish.  During the spring and fall months you may see large salmon or steelhead swimming up the creek on their way to their spawning grounds.  In the winter, the water in the creek is too turbid from the rain and snow to see much at all.  However, it is a great time to go birding.  So, I grabbed my camera and out the door we went.

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A great egret hunting for fish in the marshy area near the creek.

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A pair of mallard ducks on a log.  This is my favorite picture of the day.  The brightly colored drake is on the left and the plain colored hen is on the right.  It won’t be long before they start nesting.

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A closeup of a drake Mallard duck.  Notice the beautiful blue wing bar and bright orange legs?

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When we got back home from our walk along the creek, I decided to make a bright and flavorful Wheat Berry Salad.  My Wheat Berry Salad is simple to make and tastes delicious! It’s made with tasty little wheat berries, red bell pepper, Kalamata olives, green onions, parsley, feta cheese and my favorite red wine vinaigrette.  In just a matter of hours, I’m already living up to my expectations.  A lovely walk and a healthful salad.  That was easy.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  •  3 cups cooked wheat berries (1 cup dried = 3 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 cup red bell (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinaigrette (click on link for recipe)
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives (pitted and chopped)
  • 1/4 cup green onions (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
  •  4-  6 cups lettuce, watercress or your favorite leafy greens

Mix all ingredients (except lettuce or watercress) in a medium sized bowl adding the feta cheese last…  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Chill and serve on a bed of lettuce, watercress or other leafy greens.  Garnish with additional feta crumbles and chopped parsley.  Makes 6 servings.