Busy Week? Here are 4 Meal Prep Tips & a Video!

Summer is hectic! We’ve done so much traveling – weddings, showers, visiting family, you name it. I know when we have back-to-back weekends, I feel so swamped during the week trying to get everything done before we leave again.

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SO to make the week a little less swampy, I try to meal prep.

Some people think of meal prep and their mind goes straight to body builders eating broccoli, rice, and chicken for 8 meals in a row. While I have nothing against those three foods, that just doesn’t sound fun at all!

Instead, here are 4 meal prep tips to make meals simple and enjoyable:

  1. Make a game plan before you shop to prevent waste & save $$. Be realistic: You’re going to eat leftovers. Maybe you’ll eat out one night. Start with 2 or 3 meals to prep and increase as you like. Keep in mind which ingredients can be re-used in multiple dishes (i.e. use 1/2 of your beans in tacos one night and blend the rest into a dip for snacking). This will help decrease that leftovers purge we’re all guilty of. You know – when your fridge starts to smell and you find that container with 2 month old something inside.
  2. Have a variety of protein sources. Instead of thinking “OK I’ll grill 10 pieces of chicken and eat that every day”, mix it up. Try tofu, beans, seafood or steak. Give yourself options. Your taste buds will thank you.
  3. Whole grains are super versatile. Make a few servings of a whole grain such as Brown rice, Kamut (so good!), Farro, Freekeh, or Quinoa that will last for several days. You can eat these plain or add to a dish that needs a little more carbs. I like to add grains to salads and mixed vegetable dishes.
  4. Don’t forget snacks! Think protein + high fiber + healthy fats. Pre-cut some raw vegetables for dipping, slice some fruit, pre-portion nuts, seeds, & dried fruit. There’s usually not much cooking involved with snack foods and a little prep will save you at 3 pm when that honeybun in the vending machine is calling your name.

Want more ideas? Check out my meal prep for this week below!

Here’s the breakdown of the meals we got for the week:

  • Monday: Baked chicken and spaghetti squash with salad
    • Leftovers for lunch the next day + snacks (veggies + fruit)
  • Tuesday: Eggplant Parmesan
    • Leftovers for lunch the next day + snacks
  • Wednesday: Roasted broccoli, parsnips, baked chicken, and kamut
    • Leftovers at lunch – you get my drift
  • Thursday: Leftovers from the week + Sauteed Tofu

How do you meal prep? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks – comment below!

Cheers!

Legume Lovin’: Part 2

I promised an update on my personal legume challenge, and here it is! (And in case you missed Part 1). 

Two things stand out to me as I write this post:

  1. Weekends can interrupt intentions! Or so it feels like. I can totally relate to my patients who have specific goals around eating healthier and movement, but find weekends are a time of pause. Anyone else feel this way? I think dietitians in the counseling field are really focusing more on body kindness, intuitive eating, and giving oneself a break from overly strict goals. I find myself to be somewhere in the middle, gravitating towards structure during the week and less so on the weekends.

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So are weekends really interrupting my goals? Or are my goals unrealistic? What are your thoughts on realistic goal setting?

2.  I don’t like boring food. I could have been more successful in this challenge had I been satisfied with plain beans, giving less thought to the flavor and excitement factor. But I really enjoy altering the ingredients in front of me. By the time Saturday morning rolled around my fridge and pantry were close to empty, and I didn’t want to eat black beans for breakfast just to check the day off, so I took an incomplete and had banana pancakes instead!

Now, on to what I ate!

Monday: roasted cauliflower with a chickpea & vegetable sauté (onions, squash, tomatoes).

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Tuesday: chickpea leftovers from Monday+ spicy roasted carrot hummus fullsizeoutput_45e1.jpeg

Wednesday: I wanted to try a more convenient product just to see what’s out there. I saw someone at work eating this zucchini lentil pasta from Birds Eye and was suspicious but intrigued. I was impressed that it was only 160 mg of sodium per serving and it had a nice flavor. I had this with leftover chicken and some more vegetables.

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Thursday: Made these Pinto Bean Veggie Burgers for dinner

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Friday: Leftover veggie burgers for lunch

Saturday we went to the beach and beans just weren’t on the menu. But crabs were!!! IMG_0229

On the way home, we stopped at Taste. I LOVE this place. They have delicious, local food, gifts, and a thoughtful wine selection. Plus a cute, inviting outdoor area to eat and play. I got chicken salad on greens for there – and a bottle of Thibaut-Janisson to go!

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Thoughts for the future:

  • More planning. Isn’t this always the case? I’m going to either need to make more and have leftovers OR make sure I have enough ingredients on hand to really amp up my beans towards the end of the week.
  • If traveling, bring the beans. There are several ways to incorporate beans into snacks that can be taken to-go.

I would love to hear your tips on upping your bean game!

Cheers!

Legume Lovin’

Last night I made the most delicious, buttery-sweet cinnamon rolls on the planet.

Joy the Baker…thank you! My sister-in-law is getting MARRIED and asked if I could make mini-cinnamon rolls for their rehearsal dinner. That was the easiest “yes” of the year. So now I get to practice. I’m sorry in advance for the number of boomerangs I will post to Instagram between now and November.

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In between letting the dough rise and contemplating dinner ideas, I thought of a personal challenge: To eat at least 1 serving of beans every day for 1 week.     

I know it doesn’t sound hard to eat a serving of beans every day. It shouldn’t be.

But I want to be purposeful about including this awesome food group into my daily menu. They are such a satiating, nutrient dense food, full of protein, fiber, iron, potassium, manganese, folic acid, zinc…blah blah blah.

As a woman of child-bearing age, I know how important it is for my body to get extra iron and folic acid. Yet another reason to eat legumes!

One serving of beans or legumes is considered 1/2 cup cooked. These recommendations are in line with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and as Americans, we are falling way behind on meeting that goal!

Average Vegetable Subgroup Intakes in Cup-Equivalents per Week by Age-Sex Groups, Compared to Ranges of Recommended Intakes per Week

Legumes
The orange dot is average intake – the blue line is the recommended range.                                 DATA SOURCES: What We Eat in America, NHANES 2007-2010 for average intakes by age-sex group. Healthy U.S.-Style Food Patterns, which vary based on age, sex, and activity level, for recommended intake ranges.

I started day one with garbanzo beans for dinner. I added one can of rinsed beans to some sauteed onion, summer squash, and tomatoes. To add a middle eastern flavor, I used about 1/2 – 1 tsp of the following spices: cumin, garam masala, nutmeg, turmeric, and chili powder. I served it over roasted cauliflower and topped with a sauce.

The sauce was equal parts Greek yogurt and Dijon mustard, 1 tsp Harissa (a chili pepper paste), pepper, salt, and a splash of Worcestershire sauce.

Look too funky? To each their own!

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It’s important to mention that variety is key. So tonight, we’ll have a choice of black beans, pinto beans, or lentils.

You’ll have to check back at the end of the week to see if I met my challenge!

Do you meet the recommended number of legume servings per week? I would love to hear unique or simple ways you incorporate them.

Wish me luck!

Cheers!

Lemon Squash Bread

AKA: Summer in a loaf pan!

I adapted this recipe from: Creative-Culinary.

Told you I needed new ideas for all the squash from our garden. Also, I’ve been craving something lemony, so this couldn’t have come at a better time.

We won’t call this healthy, but an attempt was made to cut the saturated fat and sugar content (a little). And besides, it’s summer, and a holiday weekend, and I have squash that needs to be used!

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup stevia
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups grated summer squash
For the Glaze:
  • 1 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour 1 regular loaf pan (I used the leftovers to make muffins)
  3. In a standing mixer, mix butter, oil, sugar, stevia, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla until well blended.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  5. Sift flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and gently mix.
  6. Add squash and stir just to blend.
  7. Pour into prepared pans and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. (Muffins bake for 25-28 minutes).
  8. Allow the pan to cool; remove the bread and place top down on a serving plate.
Make the Glaze:
  1. Combine the melted butter and powdered sugar and stir until smooth; add the lemon juice and lemon zest and stir to combine.
  2. Pour the glaze over the top; covering it completely.

Happy (almost) Independence Day!

Cheers!

Spicy Roasted Carrot Hummus

If I had to pick one food to have for the rest of my life, it would be ice cream.

Did you think it would be something healthy? 🙂

But a close second would be roasted vegetables. No offense to the raw and natural, but roasting transforms them in magical ways. They’re more earthy, nutty, and usually a little sweet. Some of my favorites to roast are peppers, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, squash…I could go on. Do you have a favorite?

I wanted to take this flavor beyond a typical side dish and add it to hummus. Here is my spicy roasted carrot hummus. Ready to be enjoyed with raw veggies, pita bread, spread on a sandwich, or however your taste buds desire.

Ready…set…Get your big heavy food processor out – it’s gonna be worth it.

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Spicy Roasted Carrot Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups raw baby carrots (or 2 carrot sticks, chopped)
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 can (15 oz) reduced sodium (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • fresh oregano, small handful – (or 1 tsp dried oregano)

Directions:

  1. Spread carrots evenly on a lined baking sheet and toss in 2 tsp olive oil. Sprinkle the chipotle chili powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper over the carrots and distribute evenly with your hands. Roast in a 400 degree F oven for 35 minutes.
  2. Add chick peas to food processor and pulse for a few seconds. Next, add the roasted carrots and do the same.
  3. With the food processor on, add 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil slowly through the pour spout. You can add more or less depending on the consistency you prefer.
  4. Add the apple cider vinegar slowly through the pour spout, again keeping consistency in mind.
  5. Remove the lid and add the remaining seasonings and herbs. Process until combined.

Cheers!

Veggie-Stuffed Summer Squash

We’ve picked about 25 squash so far this summer – definitely more than we can eat! And it doesn’t look like they’re going to slow down anytime soon – therefore, I am making it a goal to try cooking it in new ways.

It has been so much fun to watch something grow. First was the arugula, now the squash, and our tomatoes are slowly starting to reveal themselves! I’m crossing my fingers that the sweet peppers will come in, but no signs yet. fullsizeoutput_45d3This was a fairly quick meal. It was intended to be vegetarian, but I did add a little ground turkey to satisfy my meat-loving husband. I think it’s safe to say the non-meat version of this dish would be sufficient with lentils providing protein and mushrooms lending a meaty flavor.

DSC_0207Veggie-Stuffed Summer Squash

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium-sized squash
  • 1 cup dry lentils (cook in 3 cups water, covered, over medium heat for about 30 minutes or until tender – makes about 2.5-3 cups cooked lentils)
  • olive oil
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms, diced
  • 2 medium carrot sticks, diced
  • 1/2 – 1 cup frozen corn
  • Grated parmesan cheese (I used about 1/4 cup)
  • salt and pepper (optional)

Directions:

  1. Get your lentils on the stove and cooking before you start chopping your vegetables.
  2. Slice your squash lengthwise. Scoop out insides of the bulb-shaped end so you have a nice hollow spot to add your veggies. Reserve the scooped squash in a bowl – set to the side.
  3. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F. Place the squash cut side up on a lined baking sheet. Lightly coat the inside of the squash with olive oil or cooking spray.
  4. Heat 2 tsp of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add diced peppers, mushrooms, reserved squash, carrots, and a dash of salt. Cook until soft (about 7-10 minutes).
  5. Add frozen corn and stir the vegetable mixture to combine. Turn off heat
  6. When the lentils are cooked, drain the remaining water and add them to the vegetable mixture. Stir to combine.
  7. Scoop about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the vegetable mixture into each of the squash. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and pepper.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

You will probably have lots of leftover veggie stuffing (I did). This made for a great side at later meals.

Serve squash with a tossed salad, pork, chicken, or anything you may have growing in your garden!

That’s what I like to call “yard-to-table”. Cheers!

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Mediterranean Frittata Muffins

I’m feeling very inspired by the Mediterranean diet as I’ve been prepping for an upcoming cooking demonstration.

These muffins are full of ingredients found in mediterranean cuisine. They make for a quick breakfast (or dinner) when cooked in advance, and even freeze well for lasting enjoyment! I don’t have kids, but I can imagine this would be a fun way for them to try vegetables in the morning.

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Mediterranean Frittata Muffins

makes 12 (1 serving = 2 muffins)

(adapted from foodandnutrition.org)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch wedges
  • 1/3 red onion, diced
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 cup chick peas, drained and rinsed if using canned
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used soy since I didn’t have cow’s milk)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil muffin pan with olive oil or cooking spray.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini, onion and mushrooms and sauce for 4-5 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and add spinach, chick peas, and oregano. Stir to combine and allow to cook another 2 minutes or until the spinach is wilted.
  4. Remove pan from heat and allow the vegetables to cool.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and pepper. Add feta cheese and stir to combine.
  6. Scoop vegetable mixture evenly into muffin pan.
  7. Repeat step 6 with the egg and cheese mixture.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until eggs are set with no runny liquid on top. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan.
  9. Enjoy now or store in an airtight container for 3 days. You can also freeze these and microwave one or two at a time.

CHEERS!

Tacos de huevo (Egg tacos)

Is it obvious we’ve been eating lot of Mexican inspired dishes??

Let me introduce you to one that can be made with ingredients you probably already have on hand. Scrambled egg tacos:

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Scrambled Egg Tacos:

makes 6 tacos

Ingredients:

  • 6 small soft corn tortillas
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 plum tomato, diced
  • 3/4 cup black beans
  • 3/4 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp cheese (I used leftover goat cheese because I love any cheese and it’s all I had. You might try queso fresco or another Mexican cheese)
  • 1 lime, sliced into wedges

Ok. Now for the hard part. These directions might be a little difficult to follow so read them very closely. 

Directions:

  1. Scramble eggs
  2. Toast your tortillas
  3. Layer the eggs, rice, beans, avocado, tomato, cheese, cilantro and give a squeeze of lime

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Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you want to eat these every night.

What ingredients are a must in your tacos? I would love to hear!!

Salud!

Rice, Bean & Spinach Enchilada Bake

Anyone else out there with an embarrassing monthly grocery bill??

Don’t get me wrong – I like knowing we’re buying good food, and I think good food is worth it; but 1) I know it’s possible to spend less and 2) I love a good competition (even if it is just with myself). I also love the idea of putting money saved into a travel budget  -I’m looking at you, little island with clear blue water!

Challenge: To only spend half of what we would typically spend on food for the week, including all groceries, drinks, and restaurants.

We usually have an idea of what to make for 2-3 nights during the week and bank on leftovers for lunches – so thankfully this wasn’t unrealistic. The biggest difference in what sits in my kitchen this week vs. last week is the protein. I am primarily eating vegetarian this week, however, I ‘splurged’ on ground turkey to make some lentil & turkey burgers.

How am I feeling about this challenge so far? EXCITED! You know when you get in a rut and make the same stir fry or chicken dish every week? Well this will force you to re-think and get creative.

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And with that, here we have the first bean and rice dish for the week!

Bean, Rice & Spinach Enchilada Bake

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz Enchilada Sauce (Cookie & Kate) (you can buy 2 cans from the store if you don’t want to make it – but this was delicious!)
  • Corn tortillas (12 if you’re using the small ones, 5-6 if you’re using the larger ones)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 orange or yellow peppers, thinly sliced (for cost purposes, choose whichever pepper is cheapest)
  • 1.5 cups corn (I used frozen, but you can use canned or fresh)
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1.5 cups brown rice, cooked
  • 1 plum tomato, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1.5 cups shredded cheese (I used monetary jack), divided
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Directions:

  1. Make your enchilada sauce ahead of time and pour it into a jar or other container and set aside.
  2. If you don’t have cooked rice already, go ahead and prepare that according to the package directions. I used Uncle Ben’s which only took 20 minutes.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 inch dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion, peppers and a dash of salt. Cook until soft (about 7 – 9 minutes).
  5. Stir in corn, black beans, rice, tomato, cumin, and chili powder. Allow flavors to come together for a few minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese, spinach, cilantro, lime juice, and salt/pepper to taste.IMG_0185
  6. Begin layering in your 9×13″ dish: First, spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Then add a layer of tortillas follow by 1/3 of the vegetable mixture and  ~1/2 – 3/4 cup sauce. Continue layering tortillas, vegetables, & sauce until you are left with tortillas as the top layer. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1 1/4 cups of cheese and bake for 20 minutes. Top with more chopped cilantro & serve!

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Hopefully all these rice and bean dishes will (literally) pay off soon!

Dreaming of that beach.

Cheers!