Chilled Cucumber Soup

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Chilled soups are perfect for summer! And if you like cucumbers, you’ll want to try this one! It has Greek yogurt, green onions, fresh dill, and parsley in it. Some lemon juice and salt give the flavor a little punch and I also added some garlic … Continue reading

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Peach Cucumber Salsa

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Are you growing cucumbers in your garden this year? Here’s a recipe you can use those cucumbers in! It’s perfect for summer because it’s a little fruity, lightly sweet, and a little spicy–good with tortilla chips or as a side dish … Continue reading

Rejuvenating Beet Smoothie (Non-Dairy)

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There sure are a lot of big food-related holidays and events during the winter. There’s Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Day, Superbowl Sunday, Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day–no wonder it’s so hard to diet this time of year! If you feel like you’re needing a little dose of something healthy, this is just the thing. I was inspired by this Beet Rejuvenator at New Nostalgia and decided that yes, I did need some rejuvenating! :) I don’t eat a lot of beets, but I know how good they are for you. This smoothie is supposed to be super cleansing–it also has carrots, cucumber, lemon, and ginger root in it, so I’m sure it is! I made a few changes, using a whole (small) beet instead of half, and using the juice from one lemon. I also added some honey, so I’m not sure if or how that affects the cleansing qualities of the smoothie. I thought the blend of the veggies with the lemon juice and ginger was good, but I liked having the smoothie a little sweeter. I used raw honey, which has more nutrients than the processed kind.

Also, I used a blender, so I cut my veggies into chunks for easier blending. If you’re using a juicer, you won’t need to do that. If you use a blender, you’ll probably have to stop and stir the ingredients a few times to help blend it, and you’ll have a thicker smoothie. Be sure to use organic veggies if you can! This smoothie does make you feel like you’re getting a little healthy boost, so if you’re in an unhealthy food rut, try this out for a refreshing change!

REJUVENATING BEET SMOOTHIE by NancyCreative, adapted from New Nostalgia

Makes about 2 servings (16 ounces)

  • 3/4 cup sliced carrots (about 1 large or 2 small carrots)
  • 1 medium-size cucumber, cut into slices or chunks
  • Juice from 1 large Lemon
  • 1-inch piece of Ginger Root, cut into small chunks
  • 1 small Beet Root, cut into chunks
  • 2 Tablespoons raw honey

Put all ingredients in your blender or juicer, and blend till smooth (if using a blender, you may have to stop it and stir to help the mixture along). Pour into 2 glasses and serve.

Have you ever made a smoothie with beets? What other healthy kinds of smoothies do you like to make?

Watermelon-Cucumber-Tomato Salad with Feta

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Throughout the summer, I love eating slices of juicy watermelon, but I thought I’d try something different with it for a change. I found a Watermelon-Cucumber Salad with Feta recipe at Food.com, and it sounded like the perfect thing to try! I omitted some ingredients and added some others, and I really like the slightly sweet and savory combination of tastes this salad has! It’s a great way to use your garden veggies if you’re growing cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, too!

WATERMELON-CUCUMBER -TOMATO SALAD WITH FETA by NancyCreative, adapted from Food.com

Makes 6 servings

  • 6 cups watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 medium English cucumber, peeled or unpeeled and thinly sliced or cut into chunks
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced or chopped (chop the green stems and the white part of the onions)
  • 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • I/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (or you can use a whole 4-ounce container if you want to have extra cheese in your salad)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh mint, chopped (optional)

Combine watermelon, English cucumber, green onions, olives, and cherry tomatoes in a large salad bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, honey, and olive oil.

Add lime juice mixture to watermelon and other ingredients in large bowl; toss gently to coat.

Sprinkle with feta and chopped fresh mint, if using; toss gently again and serve.

Have you made any unique watermelon recipes this summer?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday.

Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion Salad

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If you have a vegetable garden, you may may have planted some cucumbers and tomatoes. And throughout the summer, there’s a good chance you’ll end up with quite a bit of these because they seem to grow so well in gardens! Here’s a recipe you can use your cukes and tomatoes in…it’s a quick and easy salad with a lightly tangy apple cider vinegar/olive oil dressing. I like this salad because the taste of the dressing is very light and complements the natural flavor of the cucumbers and tomatoes. I found it at Foodnetwork.com–I used grape tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes and added a little extra sliced onion. I also added a bit more apple cider vinegar for just a slightly tangier taste. If you have large tomatoes, you can cut them into chunks about the size of a cherry tomato.

CUCUMBER, TOMATO, AND ONION SALAD slightly adapted from Foodnetwork.com

Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 pound cucumbers (about 2 medium), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups (1 pint) grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (or cut larger tomatoes into cherry tomato-size chunks)
  • 1/2 to 2/3 of a medium size sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, toss together the cucumbers, tomatoes, sliced onion, and parsley. Drizzle vinegar and olive oil over these ingredients, then add a few dashes of salt and pepper, and toss all ingredients again, coating everything well. Add more salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Let salad stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

Do you have a summer vegetable garden? What kinds of veggies do you like to grow?

Lemon Mint Cucumber Water (aka Detox Water)

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Now that the warm weather is here, I’m craving some flavored water! Not the sweet, artificially flavored kind you buy, but naturally flavored with fruits and herbs. I have some recipes for flavored water here, but I found another water recipe I wanted to try that I found on a site called The Denver Housewife. It’s supposed to be good for hydrating and detoxing (or removing impurities from) the body. The lemon-mint-cucumber combination cleanses, aids in digestion, and rehydrates. I added an extra lemon because I love the lemon flavor (it does make the water pretty tart and lemony, so try it with two lemons first), and a little more cucumber. I already had mint growing in a large container on my patio, so it was so convenient to just snip some fresh mint right from the pot!

If you don’t have a really large pitcher–a gallon-size pitcher would be best–you can make a half batch of this in a smaller pitcher. Or make the whole batch, split up into 2 smaller pitchers. This water would be great to bring to the office…you could make it in the evening and take it to work the next day!

NoteIf you are wanting to use this flavored water as part of a diet, you should always check with your doctor first! This water recipe is mainly a way to make drinking water more enjoyable with healthy natural flavorings for those who don’t like to drink plain water. If you have further questions about this water, please see The Denver Housewife’s post–she has a Q&A section there that you might find helpful.

Here’s how you make it…

LEMON MINT CUCUMBER WATER slightly adapted from The Denver Housewife

Makes 1 gallon-size pitcher

  • 12 cups of water (3 quarts)
  • 2 to 3 lemons, thinly sliced (you can also substitute limes or mix it up…use a lemon/lime combination–using organic lemons or limes is best)
  • 1 small cucumber or 1/2 of a medium to large cucumber, preferably organic, thinly sliced
  • 10 to 15 mint leaves. preferably organic

Rinse lemons and cucumbers very well before slicing; slice thinly. Add lemons, cucumber, and mint to pitcher. Cover with water and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight (the flavor will be stronger if you refrigerate overnight, but I like the lighter flavor, too). Pour in a large glass over some ice…it’s very refreshing! This water tastes best the day or day after you make it.

Another flavored water I’ve made is Apple Cinnamon Ginger Water, so you may want to take a look at that recipe! What’s your favorite way to flavor water?

Linked to Create and Inspire.

Honey-Sweetened Cucumber Salad

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If you are growing cucumbers in your garden this summer, this is a great side dish to use them in! I found a recipe at Our Best Bites that I modified a little…I used honey instead of sugar as a sweetener, used a little less salt, and used white wine vinegar instead of rice vinegar. I thought using honey in this cucumber salad worked out great! I’m trying to use honey instead of granulated sugar when I can because it’s healthier, and this seemed like a great recipe to try it in.

The honey gives this salad a yummy sweetness, and there’s a little zing and spice from some diced red onion and red pepper flakes. Sweet and spicy…I love that combination in this salad! If you don’t want much spiciness, add a little less of the red pepper flakes and it should be just fine! This recipe makes about 4-6 servings, depending on how big your servings are. If you’re making this for a larger group, you’ll probably want to double the recipe.

HONEY-SWEETENED CUCUMBER SALAD by NancyCreative, adapted from Our Best Bites

Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 1/2 pounds cucumbers (about 3 medium), peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar (or substitute rice vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 Tablespoons honey (or substitute same amount of granulated sugar)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons finely diced red onion

Place cucumber slices in a colander sitting over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and toss well. Let cucumber slices sit in your refrigerator for 1 hour, tossing them several times as they are draining.

Prepare marinade while cucumber slices are draining in the refrigerator: Combine vinegar, water, honey, and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until liquid is reduced to about 1/3 cup (if you end up with less than 1/3 cup, add some water to bring the mixture to 1/3 cup). Remove mixture from heat and mix in the diced red onion. Let mixture cool to room temperature.

When cucumber slices are ready to remove from the refrigerator, dry them a little more by patting with some paper towels and then combine with the vinegar marinade mixture, blending well. Refrigerate until well chilled and then serve (you can serve it without chilling, but it tastes best chilled!).

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Cucumbers are great in summer salads and side dishes! Do you have a favorite recipe you like to make with cucumbers?

Five-Layer Greek Dip

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The first time I had Greek food was when I lived in Kansas City. A friend and I ate at this simple little family-owned Greek restaurant that was within walking distance from where I lived (unfortunately, it is no longer in business). The food there was just too good for words! I’ve eaten at many other Greek restaurants since then, but haven’t found any that top the homey little place I first went to.

If you are a fan of Greek food, too, I think you’ll like this easy-to-make hummus-based Five-Layer Greek Dip. I found the recipe over at Kraft Foods and changed it slightly by using less feta cheese and more chopped cucumber and olives than their recipe called for. You can either use store-bought hummus or make your favorite hummus recipe and use that in the dip (you may want to check out the easy Hummus recipe that I just posted a few days ago).

FIVE-LAYER GREEK DIP by NancyCreative, adapted from Kraft Foods

  • 1 (7-ounce) package of your favorite Hummus (or make your own)
  • 2–4 ounces of Feta Cheese, crumbled (I used 2 ounces to layer over the hummus, and 1 ounce to sprinkle over the top of all the layers)
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumbers
  • 3 Tablespoons sliced kalamata olives
  • Pita Chips, for dipping

Spread hummus onto bottom of 9-inch pie plate. Cover the hummus with a layer of feta cheese, followed by layers of the chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and sliced olives (I layered 2 ounces of feta cheese over the hummus, then sprinkled another ounce over the top of all the layers). Serve with pita chips.

It’s such an easy, healthy recipe…hope you enjoy it!

Linked to Foodie Friday, Cast Party Wednesday.

Matt’s Couscous and Lentil Salad

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I have many friends who are great cooks, and Matt is one of them–in fact, I fully expect him to go to culinary school one day and become a professional chef! Everything he makes is really good. Like me, he loves baking sweets and rich desserts, but also likes making healthy dishes…like this Couscous and Lentil Salad. He brought it in to work for a special lunch gathering one day and I had the chance to taste some of it. I loved it! Not only does it taste great, it’s also made with lots of healthy ingredients…lentils, olive oil, garlic, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese…what’s not to like about this? :) I asked Matt if I could have his recipe so I could share it with you. It’s a great side dish for lunch or dinner. It’s actually a good meal in itself if you’re wanting something light and healthy.

So thanks to Matt, you can try this too! Let me know how you like it!

COUSCOUS AND LENTIL SALAD

  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar, divided
  • 1 cup couscous (can also use quinoa)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced and mashed into paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped mint leaves OR basil leaves
  • 1 cup arugula, stems discarded and chopped
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber, seeds removed
  • 3/4 cup feta, crumbled
  • optional: can also add sweet peppers and/or kalamata olives, and use with any combination of the vegetables above. Also works well without the cheese.

Cover lentils with water by a couple of inches and simmer approximately 15 minutes, tasting periodically — they should be just tender and not mushy. Drain well and transfer to a bowl, and stir in one tablespoon vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cool completely, stirring occasionally.

Prepare couscous according to package directions using water or chicken stock and the 3/4 teaspoon salt. Fluff couscous after standing for 5 minutes and transfer immediately to a large bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil. Cool completely, stirring occasionally.

Whisk together garlic paste (made with the 2 mashed garlic cloves and salt) and remaining vinegar and oil to make a dressing; add salt and pepper to taste. Combine lentils and garlic dressing mixture with couscous and stir well. Cover and chill in refrigerator.

Before serving, stir in remaining ingredients and season to taste. Add more oil and vinegar if necessary.

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Matt said this recipe makes 6 to 8 side servings.