Main Dishes

Healthy Creamy Roasted Carrot Soup

Healthy Creamy Roasted Carrot Soup | Lemon & Mocha

I don’t remember what prompted me to try this recipe, but I am so happy I did. Immediately after tasting it for the first time I ran to Matt (well carefully speed-walked), spoon in hand, telling him to stop what he was doing and try this soup. I couldn’t believe how something with such basic ingredients could taste so rich of flavor and buttery. Also that a soup without cream and less than a teaspoon of butter per serving could taste like such an indulgence.

Healthy Creamy Roasted Carrot Soup | Lemon & Mocha

The depth of flavor in this soup starts with roasting the vegetables. The carrots are roasted until they are super tender and blistered, which amplifies their sweetness. Onion slices get roasted with the carrots to bring a richness to their flavor as well. The ginger adds the perfect amount of balance without being overpowering.

Healthy Creamy Roasted Carrot Soup | Lemon & Mocha

This Healthy Creamy Roasted Carrot Soup freezes well and tastes even better after the flavors have been able to meld together for some time. Although it takes a fair amount of time to make, most of the steps are hands off so it doesn’t feel too involved.

Healthy Creamy Roasted Carrot Soup | Lemon & Mocha

I always ask Matt if he has any dinner requests for the following week and this carrot soup has turned into his most frequent request. Other than meatloaf – the kid loves meatloaf 😂. We end up having it mostly for weekdays, but I’ve also served it for the holidays. Especially for holidays and dinner parties I like starting the meal with a dish I’m proud of, but that isn’t rich or heavy, and this soup fits the bill perfectly. It also makes a great make-ahead lunch – if you have enough leftover from dinner!

Healthy Creamy Roasted Carrot Soup | Lemon & Mocha

Healthy Creamy Roasted Carrot Soup
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 1 medium onion, peel removed and thickly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 ribs celery, roughly diced
  • 1½ - 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger, from about 1-inch peeled piece, depending on preference
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with nonstick aluminum foil and lay the carrots in a single layer. Place the onions in a single layer or if they won’t fit you can layer them on top of the carrots. Drizzle with the olive oil then toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper then roast in the oven for about an hour. Toss the carrots once during cooking and check on the onions; you don’t want them to burn. The carrots should be soft, blistered and browned.
  2. In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the celery and ginger and cook until the celery starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the roasted carrots and onion, vegetable broth, salt, pepper and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. Use a high-speed blender to puree the soup. If using a regular blender, puree the soup in batches. Once pureed, taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Tastes best after the flavors have been allowed to meld for a few hours or overnight. Reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave and adjust seasoning to taste before serving.

Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking.

Healthy Chicken Cobb Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Healthy Chicken Cobb Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing  |  Lemon & Mocha

As you all know, I am not a huge salad fan, but I love a good cobb salad. Cobb salads have all the best yummy toppings! Bacon, avocado, hard-boiled eggs, blue cheese – so good!

Healthy Chicken Cobb Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing  |  Lemon & Mocha

Most cobb salads are covered with unhealthy creamy dressings, but today we’re switching things up. The dressing is still creamy, but it’s fresh, preservative free and full of only good fats. The creaminess of the dressing comes from the avocado and it gets a nice acidic punch from the lime juice. In addition to this cobb salad, I’ve also used the creamy avocado dressing lightly drizzled over grilled chicken. It would also taste great tossed with warm roasted potatoes – the options are endless!

Healthy Chicken Cobb Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing  |  Lemon & Mocha

Looking at the list of ingredients you might think this salad isn’t healthy, and I’m certainly not a nutritionist, but for me, this salad gets its healthy title from moderation. I would much rather have a small amount of real bacon than more of a “healthier” substitute. Plus, this salad is loaded up with greens and lean protein.

Healthy Chicken Cobb Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love making this salad on a Sunday when Matt and I need to detox from the weekend. It makes four servings so the two of us are set for two lunches each.

Healthy Chicken Cobb Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing  |  Lemon & Mocha

I especially loved having this recipe in my back pocket for the summertime when I was eating lunch outside. No microwave needed and the crunch of the romaine is so refreshing when it’s warm out. I hope you enjoy!

Healthy Chicken Cobb Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing  |  Lemon & Mocha

Healthy Chicken Cobb Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the salad
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to season
  • 8 heaping cups of chopped romaine lettuce, washed
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked
  • ½ an avocado
  • ¼ cup blue cheese crumbles
for the dressing
  • 3 tablespoons water, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ½ an avocado
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
for the salad
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil and place the chicken breasts on it. Very lightly drizzle with olive oil then season generously with garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Lightly season with salt. Bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Let cool then chop and set aside.
  2. While the chicken is cooking prep the rest of the ingredients. Slice the hard-boiled eggs. Crumble the bacon. Dice the avocado.
  3. Divide the lettuce between 4 bowls or containers. Divide the chicken, egg, bacon, avocado and blue cheese between the 4 servings.
for the dressing
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Add more water if desired for a thinner consistency. Use roughly 2 tablespoons of dressing per salad.
Notes
If you want your salad even healthier you can omit the chopped avocado since there’s already avocado in the dressing. You could also swap some of the romaine lettuce for a different green, such as spinach.

 

Zucchini Noodles & Chicken Sausage in Vodka Sauce

Zucchini Noodles & Chicken Sausage in Vodka Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Happy Monday! This week I’m kicking it off with an easy and healthy dinner recipe – zucchini noodles (aka zoodles) and chicken sausage in vodka sauce! This was the very first recipe I made with my KitchenAid spiralizer attachment. Currently, this is the most used attachment I have for my mixer. I love noodling vegetables! Firstly, because this thing cranks out the veggie noodles so fast. Secondly, something about the noodle shape makes me want to eat all the veggies. Probably because I have a noodle obsession.

Zucchini Noodles & Chicken Sausage in Vodka Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’ve made curly-q potatoes, beet noodles, sweet potato noodles and even apple curly-q’s, but zucchini noodles are the ones I go back to time and time again. The best part of this veggie noodle craze is that even if you don’t have a spiralizer I’ve seen prepared spiralized veggies in every grocery store I’ve been in, from Whole Foods to Market Basket to Stop & Shop. So convenient! However, as with most prepared foods, they are pricier than buying the veggies whole and preparing them yourself so I would highly recommend getting a spiralizer, whether it’s a hand held one or the KitchenAid attachment.

Zucchini Noodles & Chicken Sausage in Vodka Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

This dish is a great weeknight meal especially because it is made all in one pan. Check out this handy how-to graphic I made!

Zucchini Noodles & Chicken Sausage in Vodka Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

First, the zoodles get sautéed with some seasoning. It only takes a few minutes because they’re so thin and noodly. After you take the zucchini noodles out, you sauté some sliced chicken sausage, add the vodka sauce to warm it up, toss with the zucchini noodles and serve. Done! After sprinkling with Parmesan, of course.

Zucchini Noodles & Chicken Sausage in Vodka Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

I promise that even the least experienced cook out there can nail this. I love cooking, but most weeknights I want dinner to be done as quickly as possible so Matt and I can have the rest of the night to get stuff done and relax. This meal is one of our go-to dinner recipes for a reason! Enjoy!

Zucchini Noodles & Chicken Sausage in Vodka Sauce  |  Lemon & Mocha

Zucchini Noodles & Chicken Sausage in Vodka Sauce
 
Yield: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 medium zucchinis, ends removed
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 chicken sausages (I use Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage)
  • ¾ - 1 cup vodka sauce or preferred marinara sauce, depending on how saucy you like it
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for topping
Directions
  1. Wash and dry the zucchinis then spiralize them using your desired method. Heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini noodles and season with the garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté the zoodles until cooked through, but still al dente, about 5 minutes. Remove the zoodles from the pan.
  2. Drain and wipe any liquid from the pan then return it to medium heat with the remaining teaspoon of olive oil. Slice the chicken sausages and add to the pan. Cook until lightly browned. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the vodka sauce. Stir and let warm then add the zucchini noodles. Toss to coat then divide between two bowls. Top with the Parmesan cheese and enjoy!
Notes
Zucchinis retain a lot of water so if you have leftovers they will most likely be watery when you reheat them. These are best eaten right after being prepared.

 

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Matt, my cousin, Sarah, and I have a slight obsession with elote, also known as Mexican street corn. If your life has been elote-less thus far, what you need to know is that it is grilled corn slathered in lime juice, mayonnaise or crema, then sprinkled with salt, cotija cheese and chile powder. Basically, perfection on a cob.

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

It’s hard to say where our obsession stems from. It could be because we’re cheese freaks, because we love Mexican food, or maybe because we have some inexplicable connection to corn fields. However, I think the real reason we love it so much is because it reminds us of summer beach days.

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Every year my family meets at the beach in Delaware for our family beach week. A few years ago, we started incorporating happy hour towards the end of the beach day. Yes, we enjoy having a drink while the sun’s still warm before having to shower and get ready for dinner. But let’s be honest – it’s really about the corn. We tried it at happy hour at the Mexican restaurant near the beach and we got hooked. I’m talking left the beach early because we couldn’t take the corn craving anymore hooked. Ever since then, we’ve been on an elote frenzy, ordering it whenever we see it popping up on restaurant menus. So when I saw this Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad I knew I needed to have it as soon as possible.

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I first made it to bring to a barbecue and the weeks following I made it two more times because Matt and I couldn’t get enough. It is that good. I love elote and literally the only thing that could make it better is pasta, because hello – pasta! This pasta corn salad is packed with mind-boggling flavor and loaded with all the best goodies. There’s avocado, cheese and bacon in there. Yes, bacon! The pasta salad is smoky without being spicy, although you can certainly make it more spicy. My preference is usually just the least-spicy baby version possible.

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Every time I’ve made this it’s come out perfectly delicious. Even though I think it’s perfect as is, one of the reasons I love making pasta salads (other than my noodle obsession) is that it’s so easy to adjust the flavors to your personal preferences. Like it richer? Add more mayonnaise. Like it with more zippiness? Add more lime juice and zest. I like to make it as written, taste, and then add more of whatever I feel it needs, if anything. If you are going to make it ahead I would wait and stir in the bacon, cheese and avocado last minute. Also the pasta will soak up some of the dressing if you leave it overnight before serving so maybe make some extra dressing to pour in last minute as well.

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad
 
Yield: 8 servings
Ingredients
for the pasta salad
  • 1 lb farfalle pasta
  • 2 15-ounce cans of fire-roasted corn, roughly 3 cups corn (see note)
  • 3 scallions
  • ½ cup parsley leaves (or cilantro if you prefer)
  • ½ jalapeño (see note)
  • 6-8 strips bacon, cooked
  • ⅔ cup Cotija cheese
  • 1 avocado
for the dressing
  • ¾ cup regular mayonnaise
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • Zest from 1 lime
  • 1½ teaspoons hot sauce (see note)
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ⅛ teaspoon chili powder (more if desired)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
for the pasta salad
  1. Cook the farfalle pasta according to the package directions, being sure not to overcook. Strain and then immediately rinse with cold water. Let strain until completely drain, lightly patting with paper towel if needed.
  2. Drain the cans of corn and add them to a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked pasta. Remove the ends of the scallions then slice and add to the bowl. Chop the parsley or cilantro and add to the bowl. Carefully remove the seeds and pith from the jalapeño being sure to wear gloves or wash your hands immediately after. Finely chop and add to the mixing bowl. Crumble the cooked bacon and the cheese into the mixing bowl. Pour the dressing on top then stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Dice the avocado and fold in to combine.
for the dressing
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
Notes
- Note about corn: If you can’t find or don’t want to use cans of fire-roasted corn, you have a few options. Trader Joe’s sells roasted corn in their freezer section. You could char some drained regular canned corn in a skillet on medium-high heat. You could also grill your corn then remove from the cob.
- Note about spiciness: I do not like spicy food. If you make the recipe as written and remove the seeds and pith from the jalapeño, use a mild hot sauce (I use Trader Joe’s Green Dragon sauce), and use a minimal amount of the chili powder, it will not be spicy. If you are concerned, reduce the amount of hot sauce and omit the chili powder. If you want it spicier, I would leave the seeds of the jalapeño and increase the amount of chili powder.

Recipe adapted from Chelsea’s Messy Apron.

Roasted Veggie Hummus Wraps

Roasted Veggie Hummus Wraps  |  Lemon & Mocha

Lunch always seems to be a struggle for me, especially when I’m trying to eat healthy. I don’t want it to be complicated because if I’m cooking lunch and dinner on a weekday I’ll feel like all I did all day was cook and work with no time to relax. Boring also won’t cut it because then I’ll find myself not wanting to eat it and will end up with takeout or vending machine chips instead. My ideal healthy lunch has lots of veggies, minimal carbs and is something I can mass meal prep on a Sunday without taking too much time out of one of my days off.

Roasted Veggie Hummus Wraps  |  Lemon & Mocha

Roasted Veggie Hummus Wraps are one of the go-to’s in our house. I roast all the vegetables on Sunday and then we are ready for lunches for the week. Having lots of roasted veggies in the fridge for weekday lunches is great when you want veggies, but the thought of another salad is making you want to order a panini and fries! If you have never had roasted vegetables with hummus before you are missing out. The creaminess of the hummus with the tender bell pepper, zucchini, eggplant and mushrooms is a really tasty combination. This recipe makes four servings, but it can easily be scaled up or down. If you want more protein in your lunch these wraps work really well with grilled or rotisserie chicken.

Roasted Veggie Hummus Wraps  |  Lemon & Mocha

When you are buying wraps, especially if you are trying to be healthy, make sure you read the ingredients and nutrition facts. I always thought wraps were healthier than sandwiches, but a while back I did some research and found that a lot of wraps can be worse for you than sliced bread. Many brands claim to be healthy, but are full of sodium and trans fat. Try to find wraps that are high in fiber, low in sodium and don’t have artificial preservatives.

Roasted Veggie Hummus Wraps  |  Lemon & Mocha

A quick tip for softening your wrap to make it easier to roll so it won’t crack on you: wrap the tortilla in a damp paper towel and microwave for ten seconds. That’s it! I told you it was a quick tip!

Roasted Veggie Hummus Wraps
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 red bell pepper, thickly sliced
  • 2 zucchinis, quartered then thickly sliced
  • 1 small eggplant, small diced
  • 1 package sliced baby bella mushrooms, about 8 ounces
  • 4 6” whole wheat wraps
  • ½ cup roasted red pepper hummus
  • 1 cup spinach leaves
  • Olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a half sheet pan with nonstick tinfoil. Arrange all the prepared bell pepper, zucchini, eggplant and mushrooms on the baking sheet. Try to get the vegetables in a single layer, slightly overlapping the mushrooms if needed. Drizzle with olive oil then lightly move around with a spatula to coat. Generously season with ground black pepper, salt, garlic powder and Italian seasoning.
  2. Roast the vegetables in the oven for 20-25 minutes, adding more time if needed, until the vegetables are tender. Toss the veggies halfway through the cooking time.
  3. Lay out the wraps. Spread 2 tablespoons of the hummus onto each wrap. Divide the spinach leaves between the 4 wraps then evenly divide the veggies. This is definitely a loaded wrap so you will probably need a fork to finish all the yummy veggies that fall on your plate while eating!
Notes
- If making ahead, store the roasted veggies separate from the wraps and add when ready to eat so they don’t make the wraps soggy. This can be eaten with the veggies room temperature or heated up. If I was bringing these wraps to work or packing in a lunch I would put the divided veggies in a little reusable container. That way the veggies can either be warmed up in their container or left cold. Then I would put the hummus and spinach on the wraps and roll them up. When it is time to eat, carefully unroll the wrap, add the veggies, and wrap it back up.
- For additional protein, add some grilled or rotisserie chicken to the wrap.