We had a friend over for dinner tonight and I used the opportunity to make Strawberry Peach Chicken Salad .  It was a great success.  The sweetness of the peaches and strawberries combined with the distinct savory taste of basil, all tied together with chicken and a homemade lemon poppyseed dressing made it an unusual but delicious offering.  Try this for a quick dinner full of antioxidants and vitamins, especially A and K.  You will love it! 

Strawberry Peach Chicken Salad
5 cups of spinach, chopped
1 heart of Romaine, chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
2 peaches, cubed
1 cup strawberries, sliced
3/4 cup walnuts, lightly toasted (after being soaked and dried)
3 Tablespoons  fresh basil chopped finely
3 cups  leftover rotisserie  chicken or 2 chicken breasts cooked, prepared to your liking. ( I like Mimi's Sticky Chicken)
Wash and spin dry the spinach and lettuce.  Chop and place in a large salad bowl.  Slice the strawberries and peaces into bite sized pieces.  Add the diced cucumbers and finely chopped basil.  Toss the salad well to mix in the basil.  Add the toasted chopped walnuts and chicken. Top with Lemon Poppy Dressing.

Lemon Poppy Dressing
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 spring onion
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 Tablespoons date sugar or sugar of choice
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt

To make the salad dressing, pour all the ingredients except the poppy seeds in the blender and blend on high until creamy.  Add the poppy seeds and blend until mixed well. Dress the salad lightly and serve the remaining dressing in a small pitcher on the side.  
Serves 4 

I started out with this recipe from Southern Living and changed it to my liking.

Strawberry Peach Chicken Salad
Here are  two wonderful chocolate mousse recipes.  The first, is made from all raw ingredients in order to preserve more nutrient value and the healthy food enzymes. The second recipe uses more common ingredients that you might find in your local grocery store so it may be easier  to make.  Either way, you will enjoy both of these recipes.  
Chocolate Mousse  (Raw)

1  avocado
1 banana, very ripe, frozen
6 T raw cocoa nibs 
2 T raw  honey
1 T virgin coconut oil
2 T cashew nuts
1/8 teaspoon vanilla bean
light srpinkle of Himalayan sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/3 cup  milk of choice (coconut, almond, etc.)
Nuts for garnish

Place all the ingredients, except the milk,  in the blender and blend until very creamy.  If you are using a Vita-Mix, use the stopper to move the ingredients around so that they become well blended.  The mousse may be stiff at the beggining until the banana and avocado get mixed in.    Slowly add the coconut milk to desired consistency. Blend for several minutes to make sure the nibs have time to get smooth. Taste and adjust the sweetness by adding more honey if desired. The mousse will firm up in the refrigerator, but of course may be eaten right away as well.  Makes 2 large servings or 4  regular sized servings. 

This Chocolate Mousse (Raw)  has the advantage of fresh whole ingredients which makes for a healthy decadent dessert and is something special that you wont need to feel guilty by indulging.  The mousse will not taste as sickly sweet as the store bought pudding, and it also will not leave you with the  super sugar load that other desserts tend to do.  
Chocolate Mousse II

1 banana, ripe and frozen
1 avocado
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon honey
1/4 cup coconut milk (canned)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon gf vanilla
Granola for ganish

Place all the ingredients, except the milk,  in the blender and blend until very creamy.  If you are using a Vita-Mix, use the stopper to move the ingredients around so that they become well blended.  The mousse may be stiff at the beggining until the banana and avocado get mixed in.    Slowly add the canned coconut milk (I use  Aroy-D if I can find it locally)  to desired consistency.  Taste and adjust the sweetness by adding more  honey if desired.    The mousse will firm up in the refrigerator, but of course it may be eaten right away as well.   Makes 2 large servings or 4  regular sized servings.  Enjoy fully!

Note:  I prefer using the canned coconut milk that does not have any other ingredients  except coconut milk and water which is not always possible to find.  Often, the canned milk will have a preservative in it which I try to avoid.   The two brands that contain only coconut and water are Aroy-D ( Asian Grocery store) and Golden Star (from Wal-Mart).  

Chocolate Mousse with Granola Garnish
Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Doug, Happy Birthday to you!
     My husband, Doug, celebrated his birthday earlier this month.  He usually enjoys brownies or carrot cake to celebrate his special day, but this year he decided to change it up a bit and asked for watermelon for his birthday!   What!?  No cake?  We have done many creative things for birthday cake, but never just simple, delicious watermelon.  Since this is a busy season for me and watermelon is something everyone in the family can enjoy together, I gladly went along with the idea.  (I usually have to make 2 or 3 different desserts for birthdays to work around everyone's food allergies.)

     So we had watermelon for our birthday cake!  I just sliced a nice, juicy ripe watermelon (with seeds since it is usually sweeter), put candles on it and that was his cake.  It is very simple, easy, economical, healthy, refreshing, and a brilliant idea!  Leave me a comment and tell me if your family would appreciate a slice of watermelon or another kind of fresh fruit for their birthday instead of the traditional cake.
The candles with the flickering flames were enthralling.
Watermelon Birthday Cake!
     Sumner is here and so is the juicy and sweet  watermelon.  It is  absolutley wonderful straight from the fruit stand, however, when you want a special treat,  watermelon can be frozen and then whirled into a great low sugar, low fat, high nutrient  summer treat.

     Watermelon has  some surprising  nutrients.  It is high is Vitamin C, A, and B 6.  It has more of the cancer fighting  antioxidant lycopene than tomatoes, in fact more lycopene thatn any other fruit or vegetable.  Watermelon is also a great source of potassium   which helps in maintaining blood pressure.  

     This frosty literally takes only a few minutes to make and is a guilt free dairy free, allergy free treat!

Watermelon Frosty
2 1/4 cups watermelon cubes, frozen
1/2+ cup water
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 large lemon, squeezed (lime juice also works very well! use 2 limes)
1  banana, very ripe

     The night before, cube 2 1/2 cups of watermelon and lay the cubes  on a cookie sheet and place the watermelon ladden cookie sheet in the freezer.  Leave the watermelon cubes in the freezer  overnight or until frozen.  Place all the ingredients in a Vita-Mix or blender and whirl away for a few minutes. Pour into two glasses and garnish with a few slices of frozen watermelon.  Serves 2.   This is absolutely wonderful! Enjoy!

     Recipe source: Healthy Happy Bunch  by Kathy from  http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2011/05/watermelon-frosty-or-margarita.html.  You can go to the website  and enjoy her How to Vdeo as well.

Watermelon Frosty
Granola is such a wonderful, nutritious and hearty breakfast food or snack with just a hint of sweetness, but commercial granolas are laden with high fructose corn syrup and other additives.  It is so easy and more cost effective to make your own granola, and it only takes a little time to make your own healthy version!  I’m sure if you give it a try, you will love it as much as we do. Granola can not only be enjoyed with the milk of your choice for a yummy and satisfying cereal breakfast, it is also great mixed in with yogurt and fruit, as a topping for ice cream or as an easy snack on the go.

Granola is a good alternative for a quick and easy gluten free breakfast or snack.  In the past, oats have been labeled as one of the grains to stay away from due to their gluten content. Oat grains do not themselves contain gluten, but because they are grown next to and in fields of wheat they are often cross-contaminated.  Oat and wheat grains are similar in size and the same equipment is often used to produce both grains.  Additionally, wheat and oat fields are often planted in the same area, allowing the seeds to become intermingled so that when the seeds are harvested and then replanted you will often find wheat growing in oat fields.  Thankfully, there are now dedicated farmers who are willing to go to the extra effort to guarantee that the oats are pure and do not contain any contamination from wheat.  The seed, the harvest and the oats are tested at each stage of production to ensure that there is no gluten in the oats.  Bob's Red Mill carries Gluten Free Rolled Oats and Steel Cut Oats.  You can buy one or both of these products locally at Whole Foods, Publix, and Wal-Mart, as well as on line at Amazon.  

Enjoy this delicious, frugal, and easy recipe!

Nutty Granola with Raisins (mostly raw)

5 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup sesame seeds, soaked and dried
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked and dried
1/2 cup chopped almonds, soaked and dried
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, soaked and dried
1/4 cup chia seeds or flaxseed
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup raw honey
2 tsp. vanilla
2 apples, finely chopped
1 cup raisins (or more to taste!) (reserve)

Mix the oats, nuts, seeds, coconut and cinnamon and salt together in a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer.

In a separate bowl, mix the liquid ingredients together thoroughly.

Combine the liquid ingredients with the dry mixture, and blend until well integrated. Add the chopped apples and blend into the oat mixture.  

Spread the granola on several dehydrator trays (I used 4), and put in the dehydrator overnight or for 12 hours on 112 °F.  When the granola is crispy, add the raisins evenly and store in a tightly covered glass jar.

If you prefer, you can use your oven. Simply spread the granola on the bottom of the largest pan you have as evenly as possible.  Bake at 325 °F for 45 minutes, or until lightly browned. Stir every 15 minutes so that it bakes evenly and does not burn. The granola will crisp up as it cools. Allow to cool before adding in the raisins. 

Special Notes: Any desired combination of nuts and seeds can be used.  I like using my dehydrator so that the oven doesn't heat up the house (I live in Florida) and I don't have to watch the granola as carefully. Plus, the seeds and nuts  are still raw, even though (technically) the oats are not. 

Note:   To find out information on soaking and drying seeds see this article on The Benefits of Soaking Grains.