Saturday, July 30, 2016

Avocado Egg Toast

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to visit local farmers markets.  I like to see what is in season and what fruits or vegetables the area is known for.

My recent journeys took me to Maui.  I know - it's a tough life! 

Farmers markets in Maui have a great variety of tropical fruits, as you would expect.  I cannot wait to share some of what I did with papayas and mangos.  However, I will start with something else I discovered.  What I did not expect to encounter in Maui were these enormous avocados.

Check out this avocado!

I couldn't wait to cut into an avocado. I found that not only were the avocados huge, but the nut in the middle was the size of a baseball!  

Check this out, relative to my hand!

They sure don't have avocados like that where I come from.  Best of all, the avocados were nice and ripe.

Mmmmm.....

At this point, I had some hard boiled eggs that I picked up from the deli, this huge avocado, and bread.  I decided to try a new idea based on a spin off from my normal breakfast of scrambled eggs and guacamole on toast.

Ingredients:
1/4 ripe avocado 
2 hard boiled eggs
2 pieces bread
Salt and pepper (optional)

Instructions:
1. Toast bread.
2. Scoop and smash avocado on each slice of toast.
3. Slice each hard boiled egg and layer on top of the avocado/toast.
4. Season with salt and pepper (optional). 

Enjoy this easy, tasty, and filling breakfast.

The finished product, in our Maui kitchen.






Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Easy Baked Tilapia

We eat seafood for dinner about once a week.  Tilapia is a good protein rich option that is also low on calories.  You can eat what seems like a ton of tilapia but you are only consuming about 200 calories per 4 ounce portion.  And it really fills you up due to the high protein count.

I am always looking for more ways to season and prep tilapia.  This week I tried something new.

Ingredients:
16 oz tilapia, thawed or fresh
8 tbsp dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Lightly grease or spray a 9 X 13 baking dish.
3. Spread each fillet with dijon mustard (about 2 tbsp per fillet).
4. Season each fillet with salt and pepper.
5. Bake for 10 minutes or until fish starts to flake.

We served this up with roasted peppers, carrots, and quinoa.

Before baking - tilapia is prepped.
After baking - tilapia is done.
Easy baked honey dijon tilapia with roasted peppers/carrots and quinoa.

Enjoy!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Lunch Prep - BBQ Chicken


Sunday is a good day for prepping lunches for the week.  Then it is an easy grab and go.  

I normally rotate my lunches weekly.  This means that for any given week, I eat the same lunch every day for that week.  Then the following week is another meal.  This has worked out well for me to be able to keep on track with my food goals.

Here is my simple way to prepare barbecue chicken lunches recently.  I had to make 3 lunches for the week for work.  

Ingredients:
2 sweet potatoes
3 chicken breasts
3/4 head cauliflower
Olive oil spray
Salt and pepper
Your favorite BBQ sauce

Below I have 3 sets of instructions before assembly.  I am very fortunate to have 2 ovens, so I can get my chicken in the oven and then I put my cauliflower in the other oven while I begin working on the sweet potatoes.  But even if you have 1 oven, you can just work on each item while you do other chores around the house or other things in the kitchen.  Let each item sit as you prepare the next item.  You will need all the items cooled before you assemble them anyway.   

Instructions for sweet potatoes:
1. Follow my post: Easy Sweet Potatoes

Instructions for chicken:
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Trim chicken breasts.
3. Season chicken with salt and pepper and place in a baking sheet that is lightly sprayed with olive oil spray.  Place in  oven for about 35 minutes, depending on the thickness of your cuts.
4. Once it is done, let it cool.

Instructions for cauliflower:
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Chop up cauliflower.
3. Place cauliflower on parchment lined baking sheet.
4. Place in oven for 20 minutes.

Instructions for assembly:
1. Get 3 containers - I like to make them all the same size for organization and for portioning out the veggies.
2. Place 1 chicken breast in each container.  I like to slice up each chicken breast before I place it in the container.  That way, it microwaves quickly and easily.
3. Place 1/2 sweet potato in each container.  Obviously, this leaves you at the end with 1/2 sweet potato.  You can portion the remains in the containers or just eat it right now ;)
4. Place even amounts of cauliflower in each container.
5. Add desired amount of BBQ sauce on each chicken breast.  I usually scoop 2-3 tablespoons.  As I have tracked calories, I was surprised to learn how quickly sauces can add to sodium or sugar as well as calorie counts.  I have found some brands of organic BBQ sauces that taste great, are more natural, and also are fewer calories than the standard BBQ sauces you find in the supermarket.  You can also make your own BBQ sauce.  In the future I plan to try to do this and will share my recipe, but for now I just buy the organic BBQ sauce and it has been very good!

I have had times where I microwave my lunch at work and get comments from people about how great my lunch smells.  And it tastes great too!  Usually I microwave in 1 minute intervals for 3 minutes, stirring at each minute mark.  I like my meals steam piping hot!


Sweet potatoes before prep.
Sweet potatoes after prep.
Chicken before baking.
Chicken after baking.
Cauliflower before baking - whoops!  I forgot the "after" picture.
One assembled lunch, before the BBQ sauce.
Here are my 3 staged lunches.
And BBQ sauce to finish it off.
It's a great lunch to look forward to.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette

After making a salad today, I realized that I needed salad dressing.  I managed to put together an easy recipe using ingredients that I already had on hand.  No preservatives and I saved at least $5 off buying a fancy bottle of something at the store.  AND it tasted great.  Score!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients together.  I poured mine into a small mason jar and shook it up.  Otherwise, whisk together in a bowl. And enjoy!




Monday, July 11, 2016

Walnut Feta Vegetable Salad

I went to Panera for lunch this week and had a great salad.  Then I realized that instead of spending $8 on a salad, I could easily make a great salad at home.

Salads are so versatile.  You start with your base: your favorite lettuce types.  Then you add your vegetables.  Then you can have fun with nuts, cheeses, and dried fruits.  Finally, you can top your salad with additional protein.

After making this walnut feta vegetable salad, I packaged some for lunches and added grilled chicken on top of each one.

This recipe makes a pretty huge salad, as you can see.  I served it for dinner and had leftovers for some lunches.

Ingredients:
One head iceberg lettuce, chopped
6 oz spinach, chopped
2 cups chopped walnuts
4 oz crumbled feta cheese
5 oz dried cranberries 
1 small head cauliflower, chopped
8 oz radishes, chopped

Instructions:
Toss it all together.  You can top with grilled chicken.  If you are interested in making your own dressing to go with this salad, I will be sharing my recipe for a homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing shortly.

Plenty of salad to feed a big family.

It is fun to make your salad colorful.
Topped with grilled chicken for an easy lunch.



Saturday, July 9, 2016

How to Make Sure you Eat Vegetables all Week

I used to throw away produce every week.  Now that I menu plan, I rarely throw away anything, and our family eats more fruit and vegetables throughout the week.  Here is how I make sure that we eat vegetables every day.

I usually wind up buying produce twice a week.  I buy on Saturday and I buy again on Wednesday.  This gives me a chance to evaluate how much has been consumed and then I can make up the difference as I plan the rest of the week.  Because inevitably, my plan for the week somehow results in more vegetables being eaten than I had originally planned.  This is a good problem!

Here is my example for this week.  On Saturday at the farmers market, I bought:

  • One big head of cauliflower  - for two side dishes with dinner and to add to salads.
  • One head of broccoli - enough for one side dish with dinner.
  • One head of lettuce - to add to sandwiches and wraps, or for a very simple salad.
  • One bag of Brussels sprouts - another side dish with dinner.
  • 3 bunches of radishes  - I snack on these and add them to salads.
  • 1 bag of carrots - for the kids to snack on.
I had to wash and chop up everything except for the carrots.  I did not have the energy to peel anything, so I just got a bag of the ready cut ones.  I do prefer to peel them myself, but sometimes you just have to cut bait.

Here are some pictures of my work in progress.



And here is my final product for the week, all bagged up and ready to go.





Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Spaghetti Squash


I love spaghetti squash in place of spaghetti.   You can have squash with sauce and meatballs or make it a "pasta" bake or a stir fry.  It is so easy to get spaghetti squash ready for recipes.  Oftentimes I make spaghetti squash the night before the meal so it is ready to go and one less thing for me to deal with.  I don't like having to bake a spaghetti squash for 30 minutes and covering it in oil or water.  That's too much work!  Here is my favorite, easy way to make spaghetti squash.  

1. Pierce the squash about 8 times with a fork, depending on the size.
2. Place on a microwave safe bowl and microwave for about 20 minutes.  Make sure to rotate it at the 10 minute mark.
3. Let it rest for a bit, and then cut it in half.
4. Scoop out the seeds in the middle.
5. Get a big fork and shred your spaghetti squash.
6. Either serve immediately or store your spaghetti squash after it has cooled in a ziplock bag or tupperware container.

Here is my pierced spaghetti squash.  I use a big fork.
After microwaving, the squash looks lighter in color.
After resting and cooling, cut the squash in half.
After the seeds are scooped out, it is time to shred with a fork.
Here is all that lovely spaghetti squash.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Easy Sweet Potatoes

We eat sweet potatoes at least once a week.  Here is my favorite way of making them.  Healthy and fast.  In my pictures, you will see 2 sweet potatoes.  I usually make 2-4 at a time, depending on how many people I am feeding and whether I want leftovers.

Make sure you wash the outside of the sweet potatoes before you start this recipe, especially if you want to eat the skins!

1. Pierce the sweet potato about 6 times with a fork.
2. Microwave for about 6 minutes.  Rotate the potato halfway through.  Make sure you use a microwave safe plate!
3. The sweet potato should now be tender.  Let it rest for about a minute.
4. Slice the sweet potato lengthwise.
5. Slice a criss cross pattern on each half of the sweet potato.
6. Season the sweet potato - I use salt and pepper.
7. You can butter it at this point or brush with olive oil.
8. Place the sweet potato on a foil lined baking sheet.
9. Place the baking sheet in an oven on the broil setting.
10. Broil for about 10 minutes or until it is nice and crispy.
Pierce the sweet potato about 4 times with a fork.
Microwave ~ 6 minutes.
Here is what they look like when done.
Let it rest.
Slice lengthwise.
Place on foil lined baking sheet.
Slice criss cross pattern.
Add seasonings, butter or olive oil.
Place pan in oven on broil.
Broil to desired crispiness.





Sunday, July 3, 2016

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

We went on a road trip today and in preparation for the journey, I made some granola bars last night.  This is my favorite recipe to date!

I used chocolate chips but in the future I am thinking about mini m&ms or raisins.  There is plenty of variety to this recipe.

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Dry ingredients:
4 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp salt

Wet ingredients:
1/2 cup canola or coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup honey

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
2. Mix together the dry ingredients.
3. Microwave the wet ingredients all together for about 30 seconds.
4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix.
5. Pour into a 9" X 13" baking dish.
6.  Bake for 40 minutes at 325 degrees

Once cooled, cut into granola bar shapes.



This is a winning recipe with my husband ;)


These cut very easily into bars.
You get a lot of bars out of this recipe.
Wrapping these up to snack on later.

Packaged as a gift.
You can also toss these in a Ziplock bag for your road trips!
On today's road trip, the bag came home empty. :)