Sugar-Free Sparkling Meyer Lemonade

Sugar-Free Sparkling Meyer Lemonade

New Year, new you! Quite a few of my friends are sober/cleansing/detoxing in January. I am not – my friends all know I can barely go an evening without Pinot – but I’m hosting a dinner party for some of those healthy January friends and needed to find them a tasty drink. Serendipitously, our dear friend Todd brought us beautiful Meyer lemons from his family’s home in Napa. So when life gives you lemons in sober January, you make sugar-free sparkling lemonade!

This lemonade is made with Truvia, which is a stevia sweeter. Stevia is a calorie free, plant-based sugar substitute made from the stevia rebaudiana plant in South America. It is significantly sweeter than sugar, so make sure to use less of it whenever you substitute it for sugar. I also like my lemonade to taste like lemons, so this recipe is high in lemon flavor, high in bubbly fun, and high on my list to replace my pinot tonight.

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Sparkling lemonade: serve in a Crow Canyon Home pitcher and pour into a Pottery Barn old-fashioned glass!

Sugar-Free Sparkling Meyer Lemonade

Ingredients
1c boiling water
1c Truvia
2c Meyer lemon juice (9-12 lemons)
6c water
24oz (2 cans) club soda
ice
mint (for garnish)
sliced lemons (for garnish)

Directions
Stir boiling water and Truvia together until dissolved, about 5 minutes. Add in Meyer lemon juice, water and soda. Cool in refrigerator about 20 minutes. Add ice, mint and sliced lemons to finish. Note: to make this recipe even more bubbly, substitute out more of the water for club soda.

Tasty lemonade with a sugar substitute will help you keep your sugar free detox New Years resolutions!

Beet, Apple & Fennel Salad with Creamy Ricotta Dressing

Beet, Apple & Fennel Salad with Creamy Ricotta Dressing

Beet, Apple & Fennel Salad with Creamy Ricotta Dressing

I love a simple, fresh and healthy salad. I try to eat salads every day at work. But if you do the math on my years at the Gap times days of work less days of vacation less cheating with a burger plus days I justify my burger by adding a side salad…well…that would be a lot of salads. And everyone who has losing weight as a New Year’s resolution (like, every woman ever) vows “salads for life” and keeps that vow for about…three days. You know why we can’t hold those resolutions longer? Yes, you know why. Salads can be so boring! Iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots, the occasional broccoli floret and as much ranch dressing as you can justify to mask the boring-ness of veggies. So I set out to make a salad that would help me start that New Year resolution early. And stick with it. For at least four days this time.

This salad has a salty, creamy ricotta “dressing” that amps your salad up and makes it crave-worthy. The fennel/apple/beet combo will brighten your winter work day.  And the simpleness of the recipe will help you keep resolutions of making your own lunch. So let’s get salading…

Fennel comes in a “bulb” that looks a little like celery and onion had a baby. The “fawn” or delicate leafy pieces add flair to your presentation

These are apples….you know what they are! Choose a crisp apple such as Fuji, Braeburn, or Honeycrisp

Beet, Apple & Fennel Salad with Creamy Ricotta Dressing

Ingredients
1 1/2c ricotta
3tbs + 1/4c olive oil
1/4c hazelnuts, finely chopped
4 roasted beets*
1/2 crisp fuji apple
1 fennel bulb
arugula
2tbs champagne vinegar
cooked chicken breast (optional)
salt & pepper

*Note: To save time, I used store-bought beets, which are pretty darned decent. To roast yourself, heat an oven to 350 degrees. Toss beets in olive oil, salt, pepper and wrap in aluminum foil. Cook for 20 minutes or until soft when pierced with a fork. Let cool and peel beets.

Directions
In a mixer, add ricotta, 3tbs olive oil and salt & pepper to taste. Mix on high until creamy. If desired, increase creaminess by adding more olive oil. This creamy sauce can be made in advanced and stored in an air-tight container in the refridgerator.

Heat a saute’ pan to medium and toast hazelnuts until fragrant, about 5 minutes, staring frequently. Careful – nuts burn quickly! Set aside nuts.

Thinly slice apple. Chop off roots of fennel and reserve the “fawn”, or soft, leafy parts from the top. Cut fennel into fours and cut out the tough core. Thinly slice.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, champagne vinegar, and a pinch salt & pepper to make a light vinaigrette.

Spread ricotta mixture on the bottom of a plate. Lightly dress arugula with vinaigrette and place over ricotta. Top with beets, apples, fennel, toasted hazelnuts, (and chicken, if desired) and finish with a sprig of fennel fawn.

Eat, enjoy, and smile, knowing that you’re starting your New Year’s resolutions early – in a very delicious way.

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