Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Good and The Bad

Week 2 and 3 are coming together...  The good news is that I have FINALLY gotten the hang of posting on a blog with pictures (thanks Mike!!).  So now I can do this project much more efficiently! 

Good: Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes (and holy cow are they good) and Balsamic Vinaigrette Roasted Chicken (this will become a regular)

Not so Good: Paul's race week request of tortellini with broccoli and pesto...anyone who knows him knows that he can indulge like this.  The rest of us can just politely shake our heads at his Olive Oil laced blood :)

The Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes came from the prepped food counter at Whole Foods.  I saw them, read the ingredient list, and was ready to tackle them head on!
1 sweet potato baked (I used a fairly large one)
Apple juice sweetened dried cranberries (about 3/4 cup) coarsely chopped
1 cup Lundberg Rice Jubilee Mix (GF)
1 cup Quinoa (I used plain, but you can use red if you have it)

Cook the rice and quinoa according to directions.  Combine the mashed sweet potato, quinoa, rice, and cranberries.  Form in cakes on a sprayed cookie sheet.  Put in a 375 degree oven for 8 minutes each side.  AND, THAT'S IT!!  They lasted all week as a fantastic side, never got dry, and tasted incredible as a side dish or crumbled on a salad.

Balsamic Vinaigrette Roasted Chicken (Sorry no pics)
Bone in Chicken Breasts (your choice on quantity)
Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
Italian Seasoning
In a pan pour 1/2-3/4 cup balsamic Vinegar (more if you are roasting a bunch of breasts)...I did 6.  Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil and seasoning and whisk it in the pan.  Place the chicken breast side down and marinate in the fridge for 1-2 hours  Place in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes breast side down.  Flip and cook through for another 25+ minutes.  Sounds like just "normal" roasted chicken...not so fast!  Place the chicken on a platter, container, or otherwise.  Pour the liquid into a small sauce pan.  Skim off the olive oil.  The easiest way to do this is by placing ice cubes in the sauce and getting a quick gelatin going.  From there, boil the sauce until the Balsamic thickens.  It made a beautiful thick sauce, and gave a rich flavor to the chicken.  Seriously decadent!!
The not so healthy...Paul's Tortellini
It's one of his all-time favorites that I make, so the effort was worth it.  Steamed broccoli, homemade pesto, and brutally high effort ricotta tortellini because of the quantity.  It definitely doesn't fit into healthy or painlessly quick meals, but if you want the recipe I am happy to share.
Here is a pic of the finished product :)
Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter is Here...bring on the CHILI!

I promise as the weeks progress I will get better about posting this earlier in the week. The pics were taken, the meals were prepped, but somehow they never quite got from phone to brain to page.

So here we are on Thursday with what was created on Sunday...not ideal.

With the artic blast coming this week, I knew we were destined for a great pot of chili. That, and I had two portions I wanted to make for friend's having babies in the next two weeks.

Before you turn your email off with my meat choice, I specifically wanted to explain the veg version 1st and then as a side note explain the "with meat" addition.

I made a Venison/Elk sweet potato and black bean chili and corn muffins.
The chili started with a recipe from Eating Well Magazine, but then tweaked for ease, less salt, and less fat: I made a HUGE stock pot of chili
4 medium sweet potatoes peeled and diced
4 cans no salt added black beans strained and rinsed
2 large onions diced
1 jar pure tomato puree
24oz pure tomato juice
2-3 cups water
chili seasoning (see pic)

chipotle pepper to taste
lime juice to taste
1T olive oil

16oz ground lean meat of choice if adding (prepped in a separate pan and then added with rest of ingredients when time to simmer)

Heat up olive oil. Saute sweet potatoes and onion until onion is cooked. Add all other ingredients and simmer until potatoes are soft, it is thickness of choice, and the house smells fantastic :) For the chili seasoning, I buy the pre-packagedwhere the salt is separate so that I don't need any. I add all the chili powders and spices. I also don't add the masa, either.

For the corn muffins, I searched and found cornmeal that didn't scare me...pure cornmeal. I got Lamb's brand, which happens to be a local brand; bonus!! I used egg whites, whole wheat flour, skim milk, and canola oil. I skipped the sugar, too. Paul, of course, topped his with honey :) I will try it also in the next few weeks with a gluten free flour blend and see how it turns out because they were super easy and really tasty.
I also thought I would include a pic of what our fridge looks like on Sunday evening as I prep to send the hubby to work on Monday. Every week I send Paul with oj, fat free milk, fruit, yogurt, breakfast, and lunch. Each day he takes a new breakfast and lunch. I line it up on the shelf so all he has to do is load it in his cooler in the morning. His breakfast has been the rave of late, so I thought I would share the two staple meals.

#1 Muesli Bread with peanut butter and sliced banana (1/2 banana fits best)
#2 Whole Wheat Lavash with peanut butter, Uncle Sam's Cereal, and sliced apple or banana
I can make sandwiches with both of these that are portable and really tasty. They also work great after his morning workouts because between the muesli bread and pb he is getting over 15g of protein!
I will take pics when I make it on Sunday for all to see. He eats out with friends every Friday morning after their run....eggs and a kid's pancake from Austin Java. Did you know they only charge like $3 for the kids pancake and it is the same size as the adult version??

Have a wonderful rest of the week and stay warm!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Starting the Year

The start of the new year has brought busy times. I know everyone who reads this can relate: house, work, training, spouses, pets...it just never ends. And somewhere in there I am encouraging folks to cook meals and eat healthy; you bet!

One of my very favorite foods are beets. Yes, I am serious. I love to eat them shredded and raw on top of salads. But, there is nothing messier than shredding beets. They stain: hands, counters, sinks. One of my indulgences is to grab a container of already shredded beets from the salad bar at Whole Foods. I don't shop there every week, but when I am there I always sneak a peek at the salad bar and then treat myself. Sometimes you have to cheat and make life easier!
Menu for this week: Sunday - Tuesday: Homemade Spinach Pizza and Salad
(I had roasted chicken salad)
Tuesday - Friday: Spelt Chicken Tenders with roasted potatoes, peas, and salad

Spinach pizza is an easy house staple:
Whole Foods wheat pizza crust out of the freezer
Tomato sauce (which I always keep a container in the freezer)
Low fat mozzarella
Fresh Spinach

Defrost the crust. Roll it onto a pizza tray; put sauce, fresh spinach, and sprinkle cheese. Place in the 375 oven for 10-15 minutes until cooked through. That's it!

Spelt Chicken Tenders with roasted potatoes
Spelt Flakes (think corn flakes but better) crushed...I use my hands to crush them
Chicken breasts or Chicken Tenders
Egg Whites
Whole Wheat Flour
New Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes

Dredge the chicken in flour, then egg whites, then coat in the flakes. Place on a olive oil spray, sprayed cookie sheet. Cut the potatoes into wedges and place on a cookie sheet drizzled with olive oil. I like to cook this in a hot oven 415+ the chicken, if tenders, 15 minutes and the potatoes 20-25 min.
95% of dinners come with a salad and an extra vegetable. I LOVE salads, so they are a staple. My preference is the protein I create placed on top of a salad for my meal, and then I put Paul's dinner together with a bit of everything. By doing this Paul gets the portions he needs and I am not creating two entirely separate meals.

Once dinner is over, I divide the leftovers into containers for Paul's lunch. He gets an exact portion of everything, so that his lunches have enough food.

**Make sure when you package up leftovers that you are making sure you round out the meal with extra vegetables if you are short on other parts.
Eat and Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What was I Thnking?

The idea truly came like a light bulb over head in the middle of a conversation. I was enjoying some final time with Amy, and she mentioned the upcoming challenge of good food ideas while moving to Lubbuck, Texas. At first I blurted out, "I will send you recipes as I prepare them for Paul (my husband)" Then the light bulb burst: "I am going to create a blog and send out the weekly meals I prep, pics, and ideas to share what I do and just how easy it is."

After she cheered wildly, ok maybe a little exaggeration, she said, "I can't wait to eat healthy." Now, granted, she already eats healthy, but the point is that she was fearing getting in a rut. The idea of seeing someone else's weekly meals open the door to new ideas.

My conversation with her is not a new one. It just came at the perfect time, Dec. 31st. I was in need of a resolution and sharing healthy meals for the year seemed like a great one.

I am like so many others: up before 5; get a workout in; work a full day; get another workout in if I am lucky...and somewhere in the mix: go to the grocery; do yet another load of laundry (how much workout clothing can one man actually wear); oh yeah, and in the end prepare healthy meals. It is in this mix that I have a passion. On most weeks, I love creating these healthy meals, and sharing the fruits of my labor.

So here I am...over the next 52 weeks I am going to share the meals I prepare; how I prepared them (think recipes); and pics of the end result (the pics should improve with practice).

Although, I could do this alone I thought it would be more fun to include your creations, too. With this comes an on-going monthly contest. Submit your creations; readers will vote; and winners will receive gift certificates to Whole Foods or a local grocery store!

Let the fun begin!

Highlights from Week 1 will come tomorrow!