Some weeks I’m good about meal planning. Others, not so much. During those weeks when I haven’t planned out what we’re going to have for dinner each night, I inevitably find myself staring into the refrigerator, trying to come up with a wholesome, balanced meal with whatever food we have left. This was me last night. I’m sure others out there can relate! It can be tempting to order out in situations like this, and when we lived in NYC, we often did (more than I’d like to admit!), but now that we’re living in the suburbs and adhering to a tighter budget, I’m trying to cook at home the majority of the time. Fortunately, it’s usually not very difficult to piece a meal together since I keep lots of veggies and whole grains on hand at all times. Sometimes it just takes a little creativity! And it’s always worth it.
For last night’s dinner, I was in the mood for Mexican food and we had all the necessary fixings for veggie fajitas, so I decided to make veggie fajita bowls. Instead of wrapping the veggies in tortillas, I used quinoa as a base for a bowl, and topped the quinoa with the veggies and some chopped romaine. It was quick and easy and satisfied my craving for Mexican food, minus the usual sodium and bloat that comes along with it. I was going to add black beans but completely forgot, and truthfully didn’t even notice until I saw the unopened can on the counter later. If you do want to add beans though, they’d be a nice addition to this dish. And although I didn’t have any, I highly recommend cilantro (if you like it). I absolutely love cilantro and I think it can take the flavor to the next level.
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 1 tbsp olive oil + a small amount for coating the saute pan
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 medium onions, sliced into strips
- 3 bell peppers (I used tricolor but any bell peppers work), sliced into strips
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/8 tsp cayenne
- 1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
- 1 Lime, halved
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Chopped romaine
- Black olives, salsa, and guacamole (optional)
- Cook quinoa according to package directions.
- Lightly coat a large pan with olive oil and add the garlic and onions. Cook on medium heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add the bell peppers.
- Mix broccoli and the tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl until evenly coated and then add the broccoli to the pan.
- Add all the spices and stir. Sauté veggies until nearly cooked through, and then add the mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes until tender. Squeeze a little fresh lime juice over the veggie mixture and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add veggie mixture to the cooked quinoa and then top with chopped romaine and whatever other fixings you like (guacamole, black olives, salsa, etc.)
What do you make when you’re low on ingredients and haven’t planned anything in advance?
Good morning and happy Valentine’s Day! Are you doing anything special? Truthfully I’ve never been big on Valentine’s Day and I don’t have any plans to celebrate this year, but in honor of the day, I’m sharing a recipe for a yummy heart-healthy smoothie. A smoothie is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Valentine’s Day, but there’s really no better way to show yourself or your family a little love than by making something delicious and nutritious that does the body good. Am I right?
Although most fruits and vegetables are good for your ticker, the ingredients in this smoothie are particularly associated with heart health. Raspberries are packed with powerful antioxidants and phytonutrients that can help combat inflammation; bananas are a good source of potassium and magnesium, which can help decrease blood pressure; oats, cauliflower, and chia seeds are all high in fiber, which can lower cholesterol; and chia seeds are also a good source of omega-3s, which are known heart-health-boosters. You know what they say: food is the best medicine!
If you’re thinking, “Cauliflower in a smoothie? Eww, gross,” I assure you, you can’t even taste it! Although I’ve been on the green smoothie bandwagon for a long time now, it never occurred to me to add cauliflower until I started seeing it pop up all over wellness blogs online. Whoever thought of it was genius because it makes smoothies creamy and thick (not to mention it gives you a serving of vegetables) without detracting from the taste at all. Win win!
Whether you’re going all out today for Valentine’s Day or doing absolutely nothing like I am, I hope you have a wonderful day and treat yourself to something special!
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 cup frozen organic cauliflower florets
- 1 cup frozen organic raspberries
- 1/2 cup frozen banana slices
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1/4 cup rolled oats (old fashioned, not instant)
- Add the liquid, followed by the rest of the ingredients, to a high-powered blender.
- Blend on high until the texture is smooth and creamy.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I wanted to share a recipe for a homemade sweet treat that you can give to loved ones or even enjoy yourself! I don’t know if you can even consider this a recipe because it’s so incredibly easy, but I figured it was worth sharing in case you’re still searching for Valentine’s Day gift ideas last minute. When it comes to Valentine’s Day gifts, chocolates are always hugely popular, but why buy a generic box when you can so easily make chocolate of your own? Chocolate bark is beyond simple and it’s so much more meaningful than boxed chocolates because you can personalize the bark however you want, depending on what the recipient likes. It looks so pretty too!
For this version of chocolate bark, I used dark chocolate and added just a few basic toppings–shredded coconut, dried cranberries, and colored sprinkles. Although this is a treat, I still wanted to make it as healthy as possible, so I opted for antioxidant-rich ingredients that have at least some nutritional value. Although you can use any chocolate chips for bark, the quality of the chocolate is really important and is key to how well it tastes, so I think it’s worth buying higher end chocolate. I used Ghirardelli premium baking chips, the bittersweet chocolate (60% cocoa) kind. I prefer 70% and higher for my chocolate (the darker the better!) but 60% was as high as I could find for chocolate chips. If you want this to be vegan, you could use vegan chocolate chips. I’ve never attempted this but I imagine it would turn out fine.
In terms of containers to put the bark in, there are countless options. You could use a tin or a box, but since half the appeal of chocolate bark is how it looks, I recommend going with something see-through. I personally love using a mason jar. Clear cellophane bags would work great too!
If you’re still on the hunt for an easy DIY Valentine’s Day gift this year, I hope this offers some inspiration!
- 2 10-ounce (or 12-ounce, depending on the brand) packages dark chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup shredded coconut
- candy sprinkles (optional)
- Line a 9.5 x 13 sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe container and microwave for 45 second intervals until fully melted, stirring after each interval.
- Spread chocolate out evenly on the parchment paper using a spatula. Top with dried cranberries, coconut, and sprinkles.
- Place sheet in the freezer for at least an hour, until hardened.
- Remove from the freezer and break chocolate apart with your fingers.
So somehow it’s Friday again already. I’m not complaining because it’s my favorite day of the week (well maybe after Saturday). I’m just wondering where the days went! This week seemed to go by in a blur for some reason. Anyone else?
Anyway, I’m popping in today to share one of my favorite new-to-me recipes, courtesy of my mother-in-law, Carol. When Carol came to visit us shortly after we had Jackson (back in 2016), she made a pasta dish for dinner one night that completely knocked my socks off. It was essentially just pasta tossed with sauteed vegetables that were seasoned with olive oil, spices, and lemon juice. If it sounds super basic, that’s because it is, but don’t let that fool you! The flavor is fantastic. I was honestly surprised at how much I liked it because I’m typically much more of a tomato sauce person when it comes to pasta and never choose to order an olive oil-based dish when I go to restaurants. I liked it so much, though, that I’ve now added the recipe to my shortlist of standbys, and I request it every time Carol comes to stay with us!
The one thing I often change when I make it myself is the pasta. I like to swap out regular pasta for lentil pasta to boost the protein content. I also happen to love lentil pasta! I should note that the taste and texture of bean and legume pastas vary by brand, so I can only speak for the kind I used, which is Trader Joe’s. I may do a post dedicated to bean pasta and what I recommend, because I’ve tried quite a few. If bean pasta is not your thing though, feel free to use regular old pasta. The other thing I change up is the mix of veggies, depending on what veggies I have on hand. For this recipe, I used broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms, but we’ve had it with asparagus and snow peas thrown in too. You can really use whatever you like and it’ll be delish!
I hope you have a great weekend. Thanks for stopping by!
- 1 12-oz package of lentil pasta (I used this kind from Trader Joe’s)
- 1 8-oz package of mushrooms, chopped (about 3.5 cups)
- 4 cups chopped carrots
- 4 cups broccoli florets
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1.5-2 tbsp olive oil (depending on preference)
- Salt and pepper
- Add olive oil to a pan, throw in the carrots and broccoli, and then mix until the veggies are evenly coated. Add the oregano, basil, and lemon juice and mix again. Cover and saute the carrots and broccoli on medium heat, stirring often, until the veggies are tender but still crisp, about 20 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Sauté the mushrooms until fully cooked and all the water has evaporated. Combine the mushrooms with the other veggies and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- While the veggies are cooking, boil water for the pasta. Cook the lentil pasta according to the package directions.
- Top pasta with veggie mixture.
I’ve been dealing with an annoying sinus infection for the past few days (oh the joys of pregnancy!) and, in addition to lots of tea and soup, I’ve been craving baked goods like crazy. Go figure. I had a few bananas that were on their last leg, so I decided to whip up some fresh muffins. To satisfy my desire for comfort food, I wanted to try a version that includes peanut butter. Peanut butter is one of my all-time favorite foods, so anything with peanut butter as a main ingredient is guaranteed to be a treat!
Although this was the first time I made these peanut butter banana oat muffins and I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be, they turned out so, so tasty, and I had to share the recipe. Sometimes I find that recipes for healthier baked goods can come out dry or lacking flavor, but that’s not the case with these muffins. I couldn’t get enough! They’re perfectly moist and flavorful without being too sweet or cake-like, which is just how I like my muffins. They’re not technically vegan because there’s honey in the recipe, but they have no refined sugar, oil, or dairy–just clean and simple ingredients that make a healthy, satisfying snack any time of day!
Aside from being delicious, these muffins are super easy to make, which is key when you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen prepping or cleaning up. For freshness, I recommend putting any remaining muffins in an airtight container in the refrigerator after the first day. They should also freeze well if you want to take one or two out at a time. If you’re a peanut butter lover like I am, I think you’ll love these too! Give them a try. I’d love to hear about other wholesome peanut butter recipes so that I can add them so my arsenal, so if you happen to know of any, let me know!
- 3 overly ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 cups)
- 2 chia eggs* (1 tbsp ground chia seeds + 3 tbsp water per “egg”)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups oat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a couple of muffin tins (recipe yields about 16-18 muffins).
- Prepare the chia “eggs.” Grind a small amount of chia seeds in a coffee grinder and measure out 2 tablespoons of ground seeds. Add 6 tablespoons of water, mix well, and set the mixture aside for about 10-15 minutes to form “egg” mixture.
- Add the mashed bananas, chia eggs, honey, almond milk, peanut butter, and vanilla to a bowl and stir thoroughly.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the oat flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined.
- Pour batter into greased muffin tins, filling almost to the top. These don’t rise as much as other muffins, so you can add a little more batter per muffin than usual.
- Bake muffins for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow to cool and enjoy!
*Adapted from Making Thyme for Health’s Flourless Peanut Butter Banana Muffins
It’s pizza Friday over here in our house, my fave day of the week! Anyone else share this tradition? It’s something I just recently started up because I’ve been craving pizza like crazy during my pregnancy, but I think it may just stick around. There was a time when I avoided pizza like the plague, but I love it so much and life’s too short, so it’s back in my life in regular rotation again. I choose to mostly make it myself now though because, for one, it’s actually pretty simple, and two, I like to have control over the ingredients that go into it. Otherwise I wind up feeling stuffed, bloated, and lethargic.
Being pizza Friday AND Super Bowl weekend, I figured today was the perfect time to share a pizza recipe I’ve been loving lately. I think it would be great to serve as a meal or snack during the big game! And it’s really not that much more effort than ordering in, I promise. What makes this recipe super simple is using pre-made dough and pizza sauce. You could make your own of course, but in the interest of keeping this as quick and easy as possible, I went with store bought. Whole Foods makes great frozen dough with healthy ingredients (my favorite is the multi-grain but whole wheat is great too), as well as basic organic sauce. In terms of toppings, this recipe includes one of my favorite combos–mushrooms, kale, and white beans. You may think beans are a strange choice for pizza, but they add a nice flavor, not to mention a bit of protein and fiber! I think this is delicious without cheese, but if you feel so inclined, feel free to add it to the mix.
I’ve found that the key to achieving a crispy crust is cooking the veggies really well before putting them on the pizza. Mushrooms, in particular, have a lot of water, so if they’re not thoroughly cooked before the pizza is baked, they can make things kind of soggy. One other tip. I highly recommend oiling the pizza pan a bit before adding the dough. This isn’t mentioned on the package, but when I made it for the first time without adding any oil, the entire crust stuck to the pan horribly and it was a complete disaster of a meal. Just ask my husband! Fortunately, spraying some oil completely solved the problem for me and I haven’t had any issues with sticking since.
If you’re a pizza lover like I am, I encourage you to try making it yourself sometime. I bet you’ll never go back to takeout!
- 3 cups sliced mushrooms (any variety; I used baby bella)
- 3 cups chopped and destemmed kale (I used bagged, pre-washed kale from Whole Foods)
- 1/3 cup no salt added white (cannellini) beans
- A drizzle of olive oil
- A pinch of garlic powder
- 1 Whole Foods brand organic pizza dough (16 oz; find it in the frozen section)
- 1/2-3/4 cup pizza sauce
- Defrost the pizza dough. I suggest putting it in the fridge the night before you want to use it. About an hour or so before you’re ready to bake it, leave the dough out on the counter so that it gets to room temperature.
- Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a pizza pan with olive oil.
- Saute mushrooms in a skillet until cooked through and all the water has evaporated off. Set aside.
- In the same skillet, saute the kale until wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- Rinse and drain the beans, put them in a small bowl, and add a drizzle of oil and pinch of garlic powder. Mix and set aside.
- Stretch and shape the dough how you want it and place it on the pizza pan
- Spread the sauce over the dough evenly, leaving about ½ inch from the edge clear. I listed 1/2 cup to 3/4 of a cup because some people like more sauce. Whatever floats your boat!
- Add the veggies and beans.
- Bake the pizza for about 15-20 minutes, until the crust is crisp.
There are certain foods that I can’t ever seem to buy enough of. Hummus is one of them. We go through SO much hummus at my house and we always find ourselves running out before our next grocery run. I just find it to be so versatile. It’s great with veggies and crackers of course, but I also love it on a baked potato, on toast, as a sandwich spread–the list is endless! I could just load up on more at the store so that it lasts longer, but I’m trying really hard to stick to a specific grocery budget each week, and I don’t want to adjust it just to accommodate our apparent hummus obsession! I had a bad experience attempting to make hummus many years ago, and never really tried again since then…until this past weekend. I figured I may as well give it a shot because making my own is not only more economical, but also healthier. I’m pleased to report that I think this version is a winner!
Although most of the hummus varieties I buy have oil in them, I wanted to try an oil-free recipe. I’m not opposed to oils, but I try to eat them in moderation. Since we tend to eat lots of hummus, I was really hoping to discover a recipe without oil that still has good flavor. Fortunately, I came up with one that I’ll definitely be making again! I started with a very basic Whole Foods recipe but modified the spices. I chose to saute the garlic instead of adding it in raw, because I like the cooked flavor better. And instead of using cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper, I decided to throw in smoked paprika. I also added in some sun-dried tomatoes, which, in all honesty, I think made the recipe. I tried the hummus before I added in the sun-dried tomatoes and something was missing flavor wise. I had a hunch that the saltiness of the sun-dried tomatoes would balance out the tartness from the lemon juice, and my hunch was right! It totally did the trick. The result was a smokey and peppery spread that I couldn’t stop eating.
Aside from having to pull out the food processor, which is admittedly something I try to avoid, this recipe couldn’t be easier. Let me know if you try it, and if you have any recommendations on homemade hummus recipes. I need a few to add to the rotation!
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 15-ounce can no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon reduced-sodium tamari
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
- Saute garlic in a little bit of olive oil for about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic to the food processor and pulse it until it’s finely chopped.
- Add the chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, and a quarter cup of water. Pulse again until all the ingredients are blended.
- Add the paprika and sundried tomatoes and pulse until evenly blended and smooth.
- Transfer to a covered bowl or dish and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
*Adapted from Whole Foods’ Simple No-Oil Hummus