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Hellooooooo Summer! You have arrived! Long, lazy days spent at the beach. Outdoor picnics. Barbecues – with plenty of beer and wine…..and VACATION! I know. I’m a little too giddy about summer’s arrival. But hey! It was a grueling winter, and spring was no walk in the park. So yes, I am thrilled to be able to wear shorts and sundresses once again.

Yes, picnic season is in full bloom, which is why I want to share this Strawberry Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad recipe I concocted while trying to explore San Francisco’s food scene. It’s the perfect summer picnic dish. True story. I was staying at an Airbnb in Oakland, and while trying to find my way into San Francisco, I got sooo very lost. But lo and behold, I ended up at the Fruitvale Farmers Market.

I couldn’t resist all the delicious ripe fruits displayed on the farmers’ stands. Luscious, ripe, red Roma tomatoes and strawberries. Plump, juicy blueberries. Beautiful, bright green spinach and cucumbers. I was in foodie heaven. Naturally, I bought a little of everything. I know. I’m a sucker for summer fruits and veggies.

As I was making my way back to my Airbnb, I started thinking about what I would do with my newly acquired bounty. Considering I had spent the past two weeks eating everything unhealthy under the sun, I decided to celebrate summer with a healthy pasta salad.

Directions

Cook Penne Pasta according to boxed instructions. I prefer my pasta cooked al dente, so I will cook it until the maximum amount of time.

While pasta is boiling, clean and dry spinach and place in a large bowl.

Once pasta is finished cooking, strain water and add pasta to bowl of spinach. Mix in balsamic vinaigrette to keep pasta from sticking.

In a medium bowl, combine strawberries, Roma tomatoes, avocados, and cucumbers. Toss to mix without smooshing avocados (Yes, I said smooshing). Add salt and pepper to taste and add to spinach and pasta mix.

Bright green spinach. Red Roma tomatoes. Ripe cucumbers, avocados, and juicy strawberries all mixed together.

Once greens and pasta are thoroughly combined, add chicken and toss with additional balsamic vinaigrette and sprinkle crumbled cheese on top.

It’s been a hectic morning in the office and now that it’s time for lunch, you’re craving more than the leafy rabbit food you packed. But if you fast food it, you’ll fall off the New Year’s Resolution bandwagon of eating healthier this year. If you succumb to the boring salad that awaits you, chances are, you’ll binge eat on all that’s bad for you once you get home.

So what’s a famished power player to do? Have no fear! We at Who’s Cooking What, Where? have been there, done that, won’t do it again. Say goodbye to your boring, sorry-excuse-for-a-lunch iceberg salad! Just throw it out! Because our favorite foodies share some of their favorite fast and easy lunch solutions that are NOT salads!

Baked Honey Sriracha Lime Salmon 

If you’re an all-things-hot-and-spicy kinda person, like the lovely and talented Tiffany Azure, voice behind Creme de la Crumb, then you’re gonna love this recipe. Ranking it as one of her top 5-10 all-time favorite recipes, Tiffany swears it’ll be your new go-to brown bag fave.   (Courtesy of Creme de la Crumb)


Chipotle Slow Cooker Bourbon Chicken Wings 

Normally, I’d save this recipe for Super Bowl Sunday, but when it comes to chicken wings, all bets are off and we are down for some good ‘ol slow cooked BBQ wings any time, any place . . . and the break room is no exception. Just cook up some white rice to go with these babies and you’ve got yourself a full-on meal that’ll see you through the rest of your crazy-busy workday.   (Courtesy of Climbing Grier Mountain)


Sundried Tomato Lemon Chicken

There are a number of reasons why I love sundried tomatoes in just about everything I make. For starters, they have an explosion of flavor that will liven up any dish with their characteristically sweet taste.  But don’t take my word for it. This recipe incorporates a brilliantly orchestrated array of flavors that is not only healthy, but packed with nutrients and antioxidants, thanks in part to our friend, the sundried tomato. (Courtesy of The Whole Cook)


Spring Veggie Stir-Fry

I love this recipe because it calls for all that’s healthy, clean, and colorful. It also calls for ingredients that can be found at your local farmer’s market. So grab your recyclable bag and head on out for a fun-filled day at the market perusing Mother Earth’s bounty. (Courtesy of COOKIE + kate)


Garlic Shrimp Asparagus Skillet 

A huge shout out to Primavera Kitchen’s lovely founder, Olivia, for sharing this gluten free, low-carb, one-pan-wonder that takes less than 25 minutes from beginning to end. When you’re pressed for time, but don’t want to compromise on taste or nutritional value, this recipe will check off both those boxes.   (Courtesy of Primavera Kitchen)


Pasta with Snap Peas, Basil, and Spinach  This

This one-pot-wonder (do you sense a theme here?) is a great stand-alone meal packed with all of the season’s colorful ingredients. However, if you’re a carnivore at heart like I am, throw in some leftover chicken or turkey breast to complete this protein-packed nourishing meal.  (Courtesy of Delish)


Chili Lime Chicken Wraps with Mango Avocado Salsa

Here in Southern California, it’s hard not to be obsessed with wraps. With the strong influences of So Cal’s Hispanic community, it’s no wonder tortillas have become a popular substitute for bread. So when you can’t decide what to pack for the day’s lunch, just whip out this recipe and you’ve got yourself a super-fast, super-delicious meal that won’t disappoint.  (Tastes Better from Scratch)


Spaghetti with Clams

Dubbed the “hottest demographic in the labor market” by AARP, women (and men) are working not only past traditional retirement age but into their 70s, 80s and sometimes beyond.  With that said, is it any wonder we have no desire to spend time cooking up a long, drawn-out recipe after an exhausting day at the office? Today’s wonder women want nutritious meals that are packed with an immense amount of flavor, but don’t require a lot of time to make. Which is why we had to share this amped-up spaghetti recipe as a salad alternative.   (Courtesy of Family Circle)


Pork Chops with Sweet & Sour Glaze New

New York transplant, Chungah Rhee, is the curator and founder of Damn Delicious, where she delivers the promise of taking you on a culinary adventure using simple, fresh ingredients and transforming them into sophisticated and elegant meals for the everyday home cook. After having tried this recipe, I can attest to her claim. It’s gonna take your lunchtime meal to a whole new level. (Courtesy of Damn Delicious)


Quick Pineapple Paleo Cauliflower Fried Rice 

This healthy, low-carb recipe is not only fast and easy to make, but is packed with enough protein and flavor that will make this your new grab-and-go lunchtime meal. After all, who has the time to cook in this so-called “adulting” life. (Courtesy of Cotter Crunch)