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Friday, July 10, 2015

Pasta Salad with Fresh Spinach, Mozzarella, and Cherry Tomatoes

I love cold pasta salads during the summer but worry about too much added fat and calories in some recipes.  I experimented and came up with this healthy alternative.  This fresh spinach pasta salad is tossed with an olive oil vinaigrette and seasonings including fresh parsley and basil giving it plenty of flavor.  This recipe yields approximately 10 servings and for fewer servings may be halved. Each serving has approximately 330 calories.

Fresh mozzarella has a softer and more moist texture than regular mozzarella.  One ounce of fresh mozzarella contains about 60-70 calories,5 grams of fat, and 5 grams of protein.  I enjoy it as a special treat once in awhile. Expert guidelines recommend that as part of a healthy diet, individuals should consume between 25 to 35 percent of total daily calories from fat from sources such as fishes, nuts, and vegetable oils.  Saturated fats consumed should be less than 7% of an individuals total daily calories consumed.  Fresh mozzarella can be incorporated as part of a well balanced, healthy and nutritious diet.

Pasta Salad with Fresh Spinach, Mozzarella, and Cherry Tomatoes

10 servings at approximately 330 calories/serving.  For fewer portions, this recipe may be halved.

16 ounce package of whole wheat pasta, I used 1 box of Farfalle
10 ounces fresh baby spinach, washed and drained
3 cups cherry tomatoes, washed and sliced in half
1 cup fresh mozzarella balls, sliced in half
1/2 cup fresh italian parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin Olive oil
1 Garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Cook pasta according to package directions and remove from heat.

Wash cherry tomatoes and slice in half.

Slice fresh mozzarella balls in half.

Chop and mince the fresh parsley and basil.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions and drain.  Rinse with cold water.

Toss and combine with baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, and fresh Italian parsley and basil.  Stir to combine.

Combine Olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, garlic clove, salt, pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes.  Place dressing ingredients in a screw top jar or cruet and shake to combine.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Pour over pasta salad.  Toss and stir to combine.

Toss with freshly grated parmesan cheese if desired. Enjoy!

Friday, July 3, 2015

4th of July Fresh Fruit Kebabs

This is an easy idea for a colorful fresh fruit centerpiece and healthy dessert in celebration of the 4th of July holiday.

I served the fruit skewers on a decorative tray (22 inches X 14 inches) which held a total of 12 skewers from left to right as shown above.

4th of July Fresh Fruit Kebabs

Approximately 2 pounds fresh strawberries, washed and drained
Fresh blueberries, washed
Approximately 6-8 fresh bananas, cut into 1 inch thick slices
Approximately 20 yogurt covered raisins to use for "stars". I prefer a no sugar variety.  I served the fresh fruit with plain greek yogurt.

I assembled the "flag" from left to right. At the top of the first skewer, I used 2 blueberries, 1 yogurt raisin, 2 blueberries, another yogurt raisin, 2 blueberries, 1 banana slice, 1 strawberry, 1 banana slice, 1 strawberry, 1 banana slice, and another strawberry.

At the top of the second skewer, I used 1 blueberry, 1 yogurt raisin, 2 blueberries, 1 yogurt raisin, 2 blueberries, 1 yogurt raisin, and 1 blueberry.

On the 3rd skewer, I repeated the same pattern I used on the first skewer and on the 4th skewer I repeated the pattern I used on the second skewer.  This pattern continues until reaching the 7th skewer.

For the 8th-12th skewers, at the top of each skewer I used 1 strawberry followed by 1 banana slice and repeated this pattern until reaching the full height of the tray.  On each skewer I used a total of 5 strawberries and 4 banana slices.

Below are photographs of the fireworks display held at the University at Buffalo.  We are fortunate that we live close enough to the campus that we are able to walk each year.  The pictures below were taken on July 4, 2015.