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Jul 152016
 

Hi friends! I’m off from work today due to summer Fridays, which is amaaaaazing! As some of you may remember, I work for an extra 45 minutes every day during the summer but then I get every other Friday off. Woohoo! Usually I wind up using these days off for some kind of vacation/travel plans, but today I’m spending the day getting stuff done around the house so we can spend the rest of the weekend doing other fun stuff. It’s kinda fun having the whole day to myself with no real plans!

This morning started off with a SUPER steamy run with Jack, and we wound up only going two miles because it’s so hot outside. Phew! Summer running is not easy. Despite the heat and humidity, I was happy to run on Arlington’s beautiful trails again! I have to admit I missed these trails when we lived in DC.

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Now that we’re back home, I decided to get my meal planning done for the week! I figure if I get my planning and grocery shopping out of the way today, then this weekend we can spend time on other chores, like possibly painting the upstairs loft! (Also I know I owe you guys a post with a tour of the town house, but I keep waiting for everything to be unpacked/ready for you to see! I’m starting to realize it might be a while before that happens, so I’m hoping to get a post to you next week.)

ANYWAY! Back to meal planning. I’ve talked about my meal planning process a bunch of times here on CET, but it’s been more than two years since I wrote a whole post about it so I thought it was time to give you guys an update. Here’s how I plan!

First, I take a quick inventory of our kitchen. I usually know what we have and what we’re out of, but sometimes a quick peek into the freezer or cabinets will remind me about something I forgot about (this week: tilapia fillets) or that we are out of a staple (this week: canned black beans). It also reminds me of what we need to use up, which this week was a big old zucchini that my mom gave me from her garden.

Then I also figure out what our plans are for the week and how many dinners we are realistically going to need. We are usually pretty busy in the summer, and this week is no exception. On Monday I’m meeting some girlfriends for yoga and dinner, on Tuesday Fabio has softball so dinner will need to be something quick, and on Thursday we have happy hour plans with Fabio’s coworkers. We also have some plans with our friends over the weekend so we won’t need dinner on Saturday. Yep – it’s definitely summer.

Once I figured all that out, our meal plan actually came together quite easily.

On the menu:

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BTW my menu board is from this Etsy store, but it looks like they don’t have that particular one available anymore.

Of course I usually write out our plan on Sunday so it was a little more challenging to do it on a Friday, but I made it work! Tonight I’m going to make some pico de gallo and mini chicken quesadillas (on taco shells), and then I can use the rest of the taco shells and pico on Tuesday when we have fish tacos (which are very easy and come together quickly, which is perfect for softball night). Tomorrow we have dinner in DC for our friend Ciro’s birthday, and then on Sunday we will have homemade pizza! I already went over Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday with you, and then on Wednesday we will use up the zucchini in the fridge with Cashew Chicken with Zoodles. Meal planning = done!

This week it was pretty easy to figure out what I should make based on our schedule and what we had on hand already, but sometimes we have a bit more freedom and room for creativity. When that happens, I browse through recipes that I save in a folder in my gmail and ones that I’ve printed out and stored in a cookbook (one of these days I’ll get organized with a binder…). I’ve included the links to some of my tried and true recipes below in case you’re interested in browsing them for your own weekly meal planning! Those are all recipes that I turn to week after week and am always happy with them. 🙂

Once I have my menu ready, I figure out what we’ll need to buy at the store. By the way, I have a split grocery list hanging right on my fridge with half the sheets for the regular grocery store and the other half for Costco. This is a system I’ve used for years since there are some things that make more sense to buy at Costco (in this case, poop bags for Jack – lol – and cereal, but we also like buying our eggs, chicken, steak, and salmon there) and other things like produce that I need from the grocery store. To make this list, I just bought a regular notepad with a magnet on the back, and then took a pair of scissors to the paper to cut them into two different strips. Then I rip off whichever list I need when we are going to the store, and it works great!

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Because I meal plan this way, our grocery list usually isn’t too long! Obviously I also include whatever items we’ll need for breakfasts and lunches during the week (lunch meat and rolls for Fabio and salad greens for me, plus apples, and bananas for me. FYI – we already have milk, eggs, and Greek yogurt in the fridge). We also like to have a few other staples on hand like potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. Even with all of this, our grocery bill is usually pretty low and grocery shopping doesn’t take long at all!

It’s a system that works well for us, and honestly hasn’t changed much over the years.

Well now that my shopping list is ready I guess I better head to the store. Sigh. It’s always more annoying going by myself!

In the meantime, here are some recipes to help you with your own meal planning!

My Recipes

Steak Tostadas

Bruschetta Turkey Patties

Sweet and Spicy Chili

Skinny Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup

Broccoli Fritters

Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

 

Around the Web

Cauliflower Rice Lettuce Cups with Sriracha Peanut SauceVeggie and the Beast

Club-Style Turkey Enchiladas RecipeTaste of Home

Zoodles with Bolognese SauceEat Yourself Skinny

Healthy Bacon and Pumpkin Pasta (this one is great when you have half a can of pumpkin to use up!) – Pinch of Yum

Teriyaki Salmon with Sriracha Cream Sauce (OMG this cream sauce…) – Damn Delicious

Peanut-Crusted SalmonBetter Homes & Gardens

Apricot Balsamic ChickenJoy the Baker

Cheeseburger CasseroleSkinny Taste

Fish Tacos with Peach RelishMy Recipes

Lightened Up Pad ThaiIowa Girl Eats

Honey-Soy Broiled SalmonEating Well

Chicken Tortilla SoupDinners, Dishes & Desserts

Hummus-Crusted ChickenGimme Some Oven

Kale Caesar Pasta SaladFoodie Crush

Cashew Chicken with Zucchini NoodlesLaa Loosh

Almost 5 Ingredient Spaghetti PiePaleOMG

Creamy Lemon-Pepper Orzo with Grilled ChickenFood Network

Egg White Pizza BakePeanut Butter Fingers

Brown Sugar Salmon with Avocado Crema – Eating in the Middle Cookbook

 

Happy cooking!

Question of the day: Do you meal plan? How do you do it?

 Posted by on July 15, 2016
Feb 252016
 

Hi friends! As I mentioned a few months back, I have teamed up with Jones Dairy Farm to try a few of their products. This is a partnership I can really get behind since all the meats I’ve tried have been really tasty, and the company promises that all of their products are gluten free and all natural. I feel like a lot of times pre-made/frozen meats can get a bad rap due to all the funky preservatives in them, and I think it’s important for people to know that Jones Dairy Farm products aren’t like the rest. They usually have just a few ingredients – all of which you can probably find in your own pantry – and they’re so quick, easy, and delicious.

This month, they encouraged me to get creative with breakfast for dinner! They even put together this website with tons of breakfast for dinner (brinner) recipes to choose from. I had some fun looking through the recipes, and eventually decided to make a spin on this breakfast chili.

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First, I headed to the frozen breakfast section of my grocery store, and selected a package of six Jones Dairy Farm’s fully cooked pork sausages.

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Once again, I was very happy with the ingredients listed: pork, water, salt, spices, sugar. Nothing weird there!

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Then I thawed the sausage and chopped it up into small pieces.

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Next I cooked the sausage in a large skillet on medium heat along with 1/2 cup salsa and a few tablespoons of water. I chose a nice fresh salsa with chunks of onion and jalapeno, but you could use whatever kind you want. I think a mango salsa would be delicious!

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While this cooked up, I added 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 tsp. cumin, and 2 tsp. chili powder to the pan. 

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I let it all cook together until the water and salsa had cooked down, and then I tasted the mixture and adjusted the seasonings as needed. Right before I took it off the heat, I added about 1/4 cup of drained and rinsed black beans.

While my salsa/sausage mixture cooled down, I cooked up an egg for the top. It wasn’t just any egg either – I used a duck egg that my mom gave me! These are fresh from her back yard, if you couldn’t tell. 😉

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The duck egg was a little bigger than a chicken egg, which I thought was perfect for this dish. Yum!

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Then it was time to plate! I started with about 1/4 cup of brown rice (I had some in the fridge from meal prep Sunday)…

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…then I added the salsa/sausage/bean mixture…

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…and finally the duck egg on top!

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I would have loved to add some avocado or cilantro to this dish as well, but sadly we didn’t have any. Boo. Hot sauce worked though!

Yumm – time to dig in!

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This meal was really simple to make, and so delicious! I really liked the flavor of the sausage, which reminded me a lot of breakfast, especially with the egg on top. I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a quick and easy breakfast for dinner recipe!

Find the full recipe here. (Note: I halved the recipe since I didn’t think we needed that much.) Enjoy!

Question of the day: Do you like breakfast for dinner? What do you usually make for it?

 Posted by on February 25, 2016
Dec 012015
 

Hi there! As I mentioned yesterday, sides are my favorite part of Thanksgiving. Turkey is tasty and all, especially when drizzled with gravy, but I can never get enough of the sides! My favorite side of all has got to be the stuffing. I don’t know why we only ever eat stuffing on Thanksgiving; who says we can’t eat it year round? I think we should change this.

Before Thanksgiving, I was contacted by the folks at Jones Dairy Farm who asked if I would be interested in an ongoing partnership, part of which would allow me to use some of their products to make one of these delicious stuffing recipes. Their email came right around the time I was making my Thanksgiving plan, so it was perfect timing! After browsing lots of delicious stuffing recipes like butternut squash stuffing, smoky jalepeno and corn bread stuffing, and brussels sprouts and bacon stuffing, I decided on this more traditional recipe: sausage, cranberry, and apple stuffing.

Yum! Once I told the folks at Jones Dairy Farm which recipe I wanted, they mailed me everything I would need to make the recipe (minus the wine, chicken broth and fresh herbs, for shipping reasons). Check out the size of the package!

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I loved that they sent me everything I would need, even down to the butter. They thought of everything! It reminded me a bit of Blue Apron, actually.

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You know what I loved even more? The ingredient list on the sausage: pork, water, salt, and spices. That’s it.

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In fact, one of the main reasons I was excited to work with Jones Dairy Farm is that their products are made with only premium ingredients and contain no fillers, binders, preservatives, allergens or MSG. They’re also certified gluten free and sponsor the Celiac Disease Foundation, for those who have gluten concerns. I typically try to limit my intake of processed meats because you just don’t know what the heck is in those products, but I was so happy to see that products from Jones Dairy Farm are completely natural.

Once I had the ingredients, it was time to get cooking! I started by chopping everything in advance – including the shallots, nuts, and herbs – and made sure to cube and toast the sourdough bread ahead of time. Yummm – I definitely snacked a bit on the bread while I made this. 😉

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Then on Friday morning (the day that we ate at my apartment) I cooked up the sausage and then the shallots and herbs.

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Easy peasy!

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Then I mixed everything together, topped the mixture with a reduction of chicken stock, butter, and wine, and threw some eggs in. I covered the stuffing with tin foil and baked it for 40 minutes, and then when the turkey had about 15 minutes left I threw it back into the oven – uncovered this time – to crisp up. And voila! Delicious sourdough, sausage, cranberry, apple stuffing! 🙂

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You can find the full recipe with measurements and more detailed instructions here.

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Overall the stuffing was a huge hit, and everyone gobbled it right up. I also loved telling everyone that the sausage was all natural with only four ingredients; it made me feel good to serve my guests food that I can support.

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This recipe also made a ton of leftovers, and after sending some off with my guests, I still had enough leftover that I’ve been adding it to my salads this week. What? It’s basically the same as croutons! 😉

Question of the day: What kind of stuffing do you make? Do you stuff it in your turkey or bake it separately? Do you call it dressing if you don’t put it in your turkey? I personally don’t, but I know some people do!

 Posted by on December 1, 2015
Nov 092015
 

Hi there! Well, I made it through my conference and I am now soaking up the sun in beautiful San Diego with one of my best friends, Catrina! I’ll be back in DC on Wednesday (though after taking the red-eye in from Cali we’ll see if I can get a post together…) but for now I’ll leave you with this delicious recipe for sweet potato and acorn squash soup!

With all the comforting flavors of fall and all the goodness of Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber – plus protein from the Greek yogurt – this soup will have you feeling great!

sweetpotatoacornsquashsoup

Here’s how this soup comes together.

First, chop up about two cups of sweet potatoes. This wound up being about two sweet potatoes for me.

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Then, boil or steam the sweet potatoes until a fork easily pierces through them. Meanwhile, cut one acorn squash in half and cook it flesh-side down in the microwave. You can also do this in the oven, but the microwave is just so easy! I cooked mine for about 8 minutes, in two four minute intervals.

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When the flesh scrapes away easily with a fork, it’s ready.

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While the squash and potatoes cook, heat a pot to medium-high heat and drizzle it with olive oil. Then add one diced onion and one clove of garlic. Add a pinch of salt and pepper for seasoning.

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Once the onions are soft and translucent, add the cooked sweet potatoes and then the acorn squash to the pot.

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Mix everything around so it’s evenly distributed, and cook for two to three minutes. Add a heavy pinch of salt, 1/4 tsp. of cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp. of ginger, 1/4 tsp. of nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon. Mix it all around, then pour in three cups of chicken broth. Bring the soup to a boil and then let it simmer for five minutes. Next pour the soup into a blender, or use an immersion blender and blend until smooth. Then stir in 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt. 

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Stir to combine. Taste (careful – it’s hot!) and adjust for seasoning. Mine needed more salt.

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Serve with whatever toppings you like! I wanted some crunch to go with the creamy soup, so I served this with chopped pecans, parsley, and crispy bread. Plus more Greek yogurt, of course!

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Yum! This dish is perfect for fall, full of good-for-you ingredients, and tastes great!

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This recipe made a ton of leftovers which I popped into the freezer.

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I hope you enjoy this soup as much as we did!

Sweet Potato and Acorn Squash Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
This soup is perfect for fall and full of good-for-you ingredients!
Ingredients
  • About 2 cups sweet potatoes
  • The flesh of 1 acorn squash
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup fat free Greek yogury
  • Toppings (chopped pecans, parsley, additional Greek yogurt, crispy bread)
Instructions
  1. Cut the sweet potatoes into large chunks. Boil or steam until tender.
  2. Cut the acorn squash in half and cook on high in the microwave for four minute intervals (will likely take about 8 minutes, depending on the size of your squash)
  3. Heat a pot to medium-high and drizzle with olive oil. Add onion garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Add the cooked sweet potatoes and flesh of the acorn squash to the pot. Cook for two to three minutes.
  5. Add spices, and stir to combine.
  6. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Use a blender or immersion blender and blend until the soup is smooth.
  8. Add in Greek yogurt and stir to combine.
  9. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  10. Serve with chopped pecans, parsley, and additional Greek yogurt, if desired.

Question of the day: What’s your favorite fall meal?

 Posted by on November 9, 2015
Sep 242015
 

Hi friends! I’ve been working from home for most of this week (Tuesday – Thursday) because the Pope is in town! Traffic and the metro is supposed to be crazy, so most of DC is working remotely. And you know what that means?? I’ve been spending lots of time in PJs with a makeup-free face. 🙂

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Plus a furry working companion!

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How sweet are my new PJ pants that my dad brought me back from Alaska? Of course they’re not as great as actually going to Alaska, but I had enough traveling of my own lately. 🙂 Fabio is working from home too, so we’ve been having a lot of fun! Can I work from home every day?

On Monday I did make my usual trek into the office, where I decided to take advantage of our office gym! I had packed my gym stuff up the night before, and I guess I grabbed the wrong shirt because when I put it on it was way too big.

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Fabio and I have that same shirt from our first half marathon, so I always wondered if I would mix them up one day. Well, I did. Womp womp. Oh well, it still got the job done.

For my workout, I made sure to print something out ahead of time because I knew otherwise I would spend the hour wandering around aimlessly and not actually get a good workout in. I wound up running one mile on the treadmill as my warm-up, and then completed the following:

PopSugarFullBody

[Printable version here]

It was a good one, and didn’t take too long either. After my workout I headed into the locker room to take a quick shower, when I realized I had forgotten a towel! Ah! I wound up bringing about 10 paper towels into the shower room with me and using those. Ugh. Not fun. I won’t make that mistake again! It was pretty comical though. 😉

Then on Tuesday I took full advantage of not having to commute to work by taking a 7:00 am class with Anne. Usually 7:00 am classes are too late for me if I want to get to work on time, so this was such a luxury!

We decided to try out a Metabolic Resistance Training class at a new-to-us studio in Georgetown, Definitions, and we were so impressed! The class was recommended to us on ClassPass based on classes we’ve taken previously. I love that new feature!

When we arrived at the large office building that houses the gym, a Definitions staff member was waiting for us in the lobby with an iPad for us to sign in. Then he escorted us to the gym entrance and introduced us to the owner, who showed us all the features of the gym. I hate when I get to a new gym and I have to wander around looking for everything, so I definitely appreciated the hospitality! No one knew we were bloggers either, so this is how they treat all their customers. 🙂

Then we were led to our workout space for the morning, a rather small but efficient room that totally took advantage of its small size. They had TRX equipment looped on to random ceiling poles and resistance bands clipped on to the shelves. So smart!

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Then our instructor for the day, DeShay, led us through an awesome workout! Here’s what we did:

Circuit 1* 

  • Station 1: row, lunge with dumbbell row
  • Station 2: ab roll ups with a sandbag, pushups with a band/plyo pushups
  • Station 3: sandbag shoulder lifts, side-shuffle

Circuit 2*

  • Station 1: row, squat jacks with medicine ball
  • Station 2: step ups, resistance band pulls
  • Station 3: battle rope, TRX squat jumps

*Complete each exercise for 45 seconds, with 15 seconds rest in between. Repeat each exercise three times before switching stations.

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Phew! What a tough workout! Anne and I were both red-faced and sweaty by the end.

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Those battle ropes are harder than they look!

We had such a great time and will absolutely be back! Definitely check this place out if you’re in the area. 🙂

Yesterday I enjoyed a nice rest day (although Fabio and I did take Jack for an extra long evening walk) and then today I was back at it with another ClassPass class!

This time I checked out the cycling class at Sculpt DC. I had been there once before for an awesome rooftop yoga class for the launch of ClassPass DC, but I had never tried their cycling class.

When I arrived, I was treated to this beautiful sunrise.

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So pretty! Also, the streets downtown were totally deserted, which I found weird. I guess everyone was working from home like me, or else congregating wherever the Pope was scheduled to be? Weird.

I thought the class was pretty good, but I didn’t like it as much as some of my other favorite DC cycling classes (FlyWheel, Biker Barre, Wired, Revolve, etc.). The instructor was really nice, but her music didn’t totally wow me, and some of her moves – while innovative – weren’t really for me. For example, during one song she turned off all the lights and encouraged us to do whatever we wanted. Luckily she picked a song with a great tempo for this, so I just cycled along to the beat. I didn’t really enjoy all that freedom though, and couldn’t help thinking that the reason I go to a spin class is for instruction. I can cycle however I want from the gym in my building.

Still, I liked the studio a lot and am planning to go back soon to try again. I was still a sweaty mess when I left, which is always a good sign!

Food!

Ok, now let’s talk about my meals lately. On Monday it was cold and rainy, so I brought back an old favorite: oatmeal!

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For those who don’t remember (it’s been ages since I’ve made this, after all) here’s how I make my oatmeal: mash up a ripe banana, add 1/3 cup oats, 1/3 cup milk, 1 egg white (when I feel like it), vanilla and cinnamon to a bowl. Mix well and heat for one minute in the microwave. Stir, and heat for one minute more. Let it sit for a few minutes to thicken up/cool off, and then add toppings! I like a lot of toppings so I usually go for some kind of nut, nut butter, and dried fruit. De-lish!

I also made a really delicious egg scramble for us this morning which included farm-fresh eggs, swiss chard, tomatoes, onions, jalepeno (from my mom’s garden!), and black beans. I topped it off with avocado, green onions, and cilantro.

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Such a tasty breakfast! I wish I had time to make this every day.

I’ve also been munching on a ton of apples lately; I got some really tasty ones in my Relay Foods order on Monday and now they’re almost gone. 🙁 Apples are just so good right now!

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Of course you know what goes well with apples? Cheese. 🙂

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I think our time in Paris spoiled us a little bit because Fabio and I have been wanting cheese and wine every day. While I definitely don’t think it would be good to get into the habit of doing this, I don’t have a problem with enjoying some cheese and an alcoholic beverage after work every once in a while. It makes us both so happy!

For dinner on Monday I made a big pot of homestyle chicken noodle soup with plenty of fresh herbs on top. Like I said earlier, it was a really gross rainy day on Monday so this was perfect.

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Having leftover soup for lunch hasn’t been bad either!

Then on Tuesday Fabio offered to make dinner which – no surprise – wound up being steak. I cooked up some black beans, brown rice, and quick guacamole to go with it.

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Yum!

Aaaand now we’re all caught up. 🙂

Question of the day: What did you eat for dinner last night?

 Posted by on September 24, 2015
Aug 112015
 

Today we’re talking muffins. Cute little chocolately banana oatmeal muffins, to be precise.

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Over the weekend I had these two bananas sitting in my fruit bowl that were just a tad too ripe for me. I know some people don’t have a problem with eating bananas this ripe, but I personally can’t stand the texture of bananas that are this speckled. So much mush! Bleh.

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Since I had some time on my hands while Fabio was golfing, I decided to whip up some muffins! I have a little mini muffin tray that I rarely get to use, so I figured this was the perfect occasion to break it out. Who doesn’t like mini muffins? I turned to the internet for recipe inspiration and then made a bunch of modifications to fit what I had on hand. Here’s what I ended up making!

First, I needed 1/3 cup of buttermilk which I obviously didn’t have. Did you know that to make buttermilk you can add about a tablespoon of lemon juice to regular milk and let it sit for a few minutes? The lemon juice will thicken the milk right up and then – boom! – now you have buttermilk. 🙂 I think Greek yogurt or sour cream would also work well here.

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While I waited for the milk to turn into buttermilk, I melted 1/3 cup butter in the microwave. The best way to do this is to cut the butter into little pieces and stir it around every 45 seconds or so. Now I know this is a lot of butter, but we’re also making three dozen mini muffins, so in my opinion it evens itself out. 🙂

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Once the butter was melted, I added it to my stand mixer along with 1/3 cup of regular sugar, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of honey. Then I mixed them all together until everything was incorporated.

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Then I dumped in my buttermilk and added 2 ripe mashed bananas and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and mixed until it was just combined (it’s important not to overmix here!). Whenever I add bananas to baked goods I always squish them around in their peels first to cut down on mixing time. It works every time!

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Then in a separate bowl I whisked together 2 cups of all purpose flour, 2/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Have you ever made a baked good that wound up tasting really bitter in some spots? A lot of times when that happens it’s because the baking soda or baking powder doesn’t get mixed in with the flour all the way and you wind up getting a mouthful of it. Yuck! I always make sure to mix my dry ingredients really well so this doesn’t happen.

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Then with the mixer on the slowest speed, I carefully added the dry ingredients to the wet. Be careful not to mix too fast or you’ll get flour everywhere! Not that I know from experience or anything. 😉 When it was all incorporated, I took the bowl off of the mixer and folded in half a cup of semisweet chocolate chips.

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I used a “heaping” 1/2 cup measurement because to me, there’s nothing wrong with a little extra chocolate. You better believe I snacked on a couple too! 😀

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Then I used a regular spoon to add the batter to a greased mini muffin tray. How cute is this tray?! I added a couple more chocolate chips on top of each muffin to make them look pretty. IMG_2592

Then I baked the mini muffins at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. When they were done I let the muffins cool in the pan for a few minutes before taking them out to cool on a rack.

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How good do these look? These muffins are a great snack any time of day, and I’ve already had a couple for breakfast, after lunch, and for dessert.

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Served with a glass of milk for protein…or just ’cause it tastes good. 😉

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As I mentioned this recipe makes a TON of mini muffins (three dozen!) so Fabio and I both brought some in to work to share with our coworkers.

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If you make these I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

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Mini Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins
Author: 
Recipe type: Mini Muffins
Cuisine: Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 dozen mini muffins
 
These mini banana oatmeal chocolate chip muffins are the perfect snack for any time of day! Makes 3 dozen mini muffins
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup  melted butter
  • ⅓ cup regular sugar
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk*
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • ⅔ cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup choc. chips + more for topping
  • *If you don't have buttermilk, add 1 tbsp. lemon juice to regular milk and let it sit for about 5 minutes
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a mini muffin pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Add melted butter, both sugars, and honey to a stand mixer and beat until combined.
  3. Add buttermilk, mashed bananas, and vanilla. Beat until just mixed.
  4. In a separate bowl combine flour through salt. Whisk together well.
  5. On low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Beat until combined.
  6. Remove bowl from stand mixer and fold in chocolate chips.
  7. Spoon batter into muffin tin and top with extra chocolate chips if desired.
  8. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until muffins are lightly browned.

Question of the day: Would you eat the bananas above or are they too ripe?

 Posted by on August 11, 2015
Jul 302015
 

*Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by DuClaw Brewing Company. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for your support.*

Hello there! Today we’re talking about one of my favorite things – craft beers!

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Over the last few years, Fabio and I have really gotten into craft beers. We used to order Blue Moons when we were out at the bar and wanted a beer that was a bit fun, but now that we’ve tried so many other beers we actually find Blue Moons to be a bit boring! Who would have guessed? While our favorites are now the hoppy IPAs (we especially like Dogfish Head 90 minute, Heavy Seas Loose Cannon , and Lagunitas India Pale Ale) we are always open to trying new brews.

That’s why when the kind folks from DuClaw Brewing Company reached out to me about trying their new summer flavors – Funk and Morgazm – I was pumped! (So was Fabio, obviously 😉 haha.) DuClaw Brewing Company is a local craft brewery that was founded in 1996 right in Baltimore, Maryland. Driven by the company motto “craft be cherished, rules be damned,” (haha!) founder Dave Benfield took DuClaw from a home-brewing operation that sold beer through his dorm room window to a state-of-the-art brewery. How cool!

Here are the two flavors I got to try:

Funk: With American Wheat Ale as the beer’s foundation, Funk infuses blueberry and Meyer lemon flavor into this unconventional brew. American Wheat Ales are delicious to drink with fresh summer salads. They take well to the flavors of leafy greens, cucumbers, and bean sprouts, and can handle a vinaigrette or creamy dressing.

Morgazm: Named after Morgan, a DuClaw employee (!!), Morgazm is infused with grapefruit and dry hopped with Citra hops to add lemon and tart aromas. Citrus Blonde Ales pair perfectly with any sweet, hot, or spicy dish. If you’re all about the flavor, Asian dishes like hot Thai noodles, stir-fry or spicy sushi rolls are ideal. Not to mention, this is a great option for nights you’re ordering in. For all you Sriracha lovers, meat like chicken or beef marinated in a Sriracha-based sauce is an awesome addition to a tall, cool Morgazm.

I love that this brewery has so much fun with its names – some other flavors that they sell are Sweet Baby Jesus, a chocolate peanut butter porter; Bare Ass Blonde, a Blond Ale; and Dirty Little Freak, a coconut caramel chocolate brown ale. So funny!

Since Funk pairs well with fresh summer ingredients, I decided to pair it with a delicious summer vegetable orzo bowl!

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To make this bowl, all I did was chop up half an onion and one garlic clove…

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…plus half of a huge zucchini my mom gave me from her garden.

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Then I sauteed the onions and the garlic in olive oil for a few minutes until soft, and then added the zucchini and a few other summer veggies I had in the fridge (I used grilled corn and grilled red bell pepper, but you could use whatever you have!). I cooked everything until it was crisp-tender, and then tossed in some grilled chicken breast that we also had in the fridge.

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I cooked this just until the chicken was warmed through, and then seasoned everything with salt and pepper.

While my veggies and chicken were cooking, I made some whole wheat orzo. When it was done cooking I added 1/3 cup of the pasta water to the pan along with all the orzo. Then I added in the juice from 1/2 a lemon.  Plus more salt and pepper!

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I topped the whole thing with a sprinkle of feta cheese and green onions, and then dug in! It was a delicious meal and came together in no time. The fresh flavors of my meal went so well with the blueberry and lemon flavors in the Funk beer! (Enjoyed while watching – and crying to – the season finale of the Bachelorette #TeamShawn!)

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For the Morgazm beer, I decided to pair it with my favorite homemade pizza. Beer + Pizza makes me so happy!

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Nom nom nom.

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Both of these beers were incredibly tasty, and I would totally buy them on my own! Definitely keep an eye out for them if you’re looking for a fun new summer beer to try. 🙂

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DuClaw is available in select liquor stores, restaurants and bars throughout Maryland, DC, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, West Virginia, and most recently, Cleveland, Ohio. DuClaw also operates brewpub restaurants in Arundel Mills, Bel Air, Bowie and Baltimore Washington International Airport that serve its award-winning craft beers on tap.

Question of the day: Beer or wine?

I like both, but because Fabio likes beer so much that’s actually what we wind up having on hand more often than not!

 Posted by on July 30, 2015
Mar 102015
 

Hi friends! I have a fun and easy dinner idea coming at you today.

You see, it all started when we made these tilapia tostadas a couple of weeks ago and discovered just how easy and delicious tostadas were. Of course I’ve had tostadas before, but I had never made them at home and didn’t know how easy they were to put together.

Here’s you make them:

  1. Buy corn tortillas from the grocery store.
  2. Heat your oven to 375 degrees and place corn tortillas on a baking sheet either lined with tin foil + cooking spray or on a silpat mat.
  3. Cook corn tortillas for 4 minutes, take them out and flip.
  4. Cook for 4 more minutes on the other side or until they are crunchy.

So easy, right? This cooking method would probably work great for making homemade tortilla chips as well.

Anyway, we still had a bag of tortillas to use up from the other week, so we have been making tostadas here and there and topping them with all of our favorite Mexican goodies like guacamole, rice, cilantro, tomatoes, cheese, etc. etc. etc.

We had this meal again last night, and I just had to document it since it was so easy and delicious.

First I whipped up some quick guacamole (2 avocados, 2 tbsp. diced red onion, 1 chopped tomato, a bunch of cilantro, 2 tbsp. nonfat plain Greek yogurt, salt, pepper & garlic powder mashed with a fork) while Fabio got to work on some skirt steaks.

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He has really perfected his steak game lately, and now makes the most delicious perfectly cooked steaks ever. Here’s how he does it:

Skirt Steak (thin-cut):  Season with kosher salt before cooking. Cook in a non-stick pan on medium high heat with avocado oil (which has a higher burning point than something like olive oil). Cook for 4-5 minutes on the first side, then flip. Cook 3-4 minutes on the second side depending on thickness.

Strip Steak/Tenderloins (thicker cut): Season with McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning. Preheat oven to 375. Cook on a cast iron skillet on high with no oil for 2-3 minutes per side just to sear the steaks. Then transfer to the oven for about 5 more minutes (depending on the thickness) to cook through.

According to Fabio, “Practice makes semi perfect – it all depends on the thickness of the steak and how hot your oven and skillet get.” Haha! He’s such a pro now. 😉

We had skirt steak last night, since that’s the kind of meat used in dishes like fajitas. Yum!

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Once the tostadas were crispy and the steak was done, it was assembly time! First I layered on some delicious guac to ensure each bite had some of the creamy deliciousness.

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Next I went with some rice and beans, and cheddar cheese (I put the cheese on top of the rice since the rice was still really hot. Melty cheese is the best!)

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Then I topped my creation with Cholula hot sauce, steak pieces and tomatoes. Nom.

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Fabio’s tostado was quite a bit bigger packed than mine – he likes to cram on as many toppings as possible. Just look at the excitement on his face, haha!

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Time to dig in!

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While we ate dinner, we enjoyed watching the season finale of the Bachelor. I will warn you that spoilers are included from this point on, so stop reading if you don’t want to know what happens!

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[Source]

I honestly have to say I’m a bit disappointed with who Chris chose for the final rose. Of course Whitney was more willing to move to Iowa, get married, and have kids, but it just seemed like there was way more chemistry with Becca.

I think that Chris could get bored with Whitney, and it honestly doesn’t seem like their relationship is based on much more than both wanting a family someday. What would happen if she has trouble getting pregnant? What about when their kids grow up and move away? Will there be enough of a relationship to keep them together? (Obviously these are sort of silly questions, since hardly any Bachelor/Bachelorette relationships make it even close to that far.) Also I just thought Whitney’s enthusiasm was a little too strong. Like almost in a creepy way. While Whitney went on and on about babies and marriage and happily ever after, blah, blah, blah, Fabio said this is type of woman than men are afraid of. Haha!

I guess I just really liked Becca (and have for a while) and was really hoping she would win. I could actually see her and Chris working out since there appeared to be more chemistry and more of a spark/fireworks. Becca also just seems so real, and I like how open and honest she was with her feelings throughout the whole process. Who could blame her for not being in love after going on like three dates – I think that’s the realest thing I’ve ever heard on this silly show!

Anyway, those are just my musings. Now I guess I’ll have to wait for Bachelor in Paradise (another utterly STUPID show) and then the Bachelorette which will have both Kaitlyn and Britt. (Worst decision ever, ABC. #TeamKaitlyn).

The end!

Questions of the day: What do you think about this stupid show? How do you cook steak?

 Posted by on March 10, 2015
Jan 272015
 

Those who know me well know that I love peanut butter. Yep, I’m one of those people who will get caught fingers-deep in a jar of peanut butter and have no problem licking it all off as a midday (or midnight) snack. Creamy or crunchy, natural or not, I don’t discriminate – I love them all.

Sometimes when I eat a peanut butter cookie I’m expecting all the joys of a peanut buttery bite, only to be disappointed that it tastes like a regular cookie with just a hint of my beloved PB. Of course cookies made with peanut butter chips can somewhat resolve this dilemma, but sometimes I just get a craving for something sweet with that super peanut buttery taste.

Luckily I stumbled upon a recipe that makes the most delectable sweet, peanut buttery cookies that I’ve ever tasted, and the only thing I found to be missing was a glass of ice cold milk! These cookies have a full punch of peanut butter flavor (and protein!) without the use of any flour or added oils.

The best part? They only require three ingredients and 10 minutes to make.

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I’m almost embarrassed to call this a recipe; there’s only three ingredients and the directions are so simple that it almost seems like this should be called a quick snack or dessert idea. I should also mention that I did not come up with this recipe myself, and if you pop over to Google and type in “3 ingredient peanut butter cookies” you will be rewarded with hundreds of similar recipes. Even so, I wanted to share this cookie recipe with you all today in case you’ve never seen these before and want to give them a try.

To make these cookies, I first preheated the oven to 350 degrees, and got my cookie sheet ready (I lined my cookie sheet with a silpat mat, but you could use parchment paper or nonstick spray). Then I measured 1 cup of creamy peanut butter, and added it to a large bowl. (Tip: I sprayed my measuring cup with nonstick spray before measuring, so the PB slid right out.) Jack was happy, since I let him lick the measuring spoon when I was done.

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To the bowl with the peanut butter I added 1 cup of sugar (I’ve heard you can use slightly less – about 3/4 cup – but I’ve never tried it myself) and 1 egg. You could also add vanilla extract here if you wanted to, but I choose not to. Gimme’ all that PB taste!

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Then I used a wooden spoon to mix everything together, and evenly placed balls of the peanut buttery dough on my cookie sheet (I just rolled the dough between my hands to get a ball). Next I used a fork to make that famous cross-hatch PB cookie design. I should point out that while these cookies will rise a tiny bit in the oven, they generally keep their shape so it’s ok to have them close to one another.

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Then it was time for the oven! I baked these at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes, took them out and flipped the tray around, then baked them for 5 minutes more. I like my cookies a little underdone, so I took these out before they got too brown on top.

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When the cookies were still hot, I sprinkled them with a little crystalized sugar I had leftover from baking Christmas cookies. This part is totally optional, but I thought it added a nice festive touch to the cookies!

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I let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for about 10 more minutes to firm up, and then I transferred them to a cooling rack.

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Hello, my pretties.

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Of course at this point I just had to taste one, so I poured myself a glass of milk and dug in. Yep – just as I expected – a warm, melty peanut buttery cookie exactly how I like ’em. These things are amazing!

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If you’re as addicted to peanut butter as I am, you must give these a try!

Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 14
 
These three ingredient peanut butter cookies pack a super peanut buttery punch, and don't require any flour or oils!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup peanut butter (your favorite kind)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or nonstick spray.
  2. Mix all three ingredients together in a large bowl until a dough forms.
  3. Evenly space balls of dough on the cookie sheet. Roll and press flat with a fork.
  4. Bake cookies for about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until they reach desired doneness.
  5. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 additional minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

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Enjoy!

Question of the day: What’s your favorite kind of cookie?

 Posted by on January 27, 2015
Nov 042014
 

As soon as November rolls around, I inevitably find myself planning for one of my favorite holidays of the year – Thanksgiving!

This year Fabio and I will be in New York and Massachusetts for Thanksgiving, however in years past we’ve gone to my dad’s house where there is very little focus on healthy eating.

On Thanksgiving day, his dining room table will be loaded down with buttery rolls, sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes with melty dollops of butter, sweet potatoes topped with toasty marshmallows, and then of course turkey with gravy. Usually the only vegetable on the table is a green bean casserole made with Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup and crispy onion straws, and while all of that food is delicious and I have no problem with indulging on special occasions, I usually find myself wishing there was at least one more healthy dish on the table.

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Now that I’m older, I like to contribute something of my own to the feast, and this is usually where I sneak in a healthier dish. Last year I brought glazed carrots and roasted brussels sprouts with butternut squash and cranberries. Both dishes were a huge hit, and everyone was asking me how I made them. They couldn’t believe all I did to make the veggies was roast everything in the oven with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.

They were so easy, healthy, and delicious!

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This year we’ll be hitting up two Thanksgiving feasts – one in New York and one in Massachusetts – so I’m already on the lookout for a few healthy and delicious dishes to bring.

In case you’re in the same boat, I thought you might enjoy this roundup of healthy(ish) Thanksgiving dishes from around the web!

My Recipes

Breakfasts & Pre-Dinner Snacks

  • Baked Pumpkin Donuts – These baked donuts made with canned pumpkin make the perfect Thanksgiving breakfast treat! This post also provides links to various glazes and donut toppings. Yum.

  • Pumpkin Scones – This Starbuck’s Copycat recipe for pumpkin scones uses whole wheat flour and only a few tablespoons of sugar. These would be another perfect treat for Thanksgiving morning!

Side Dishes

  • Shaved Brussels Sprouts – If you’re looking for a twist on a veggie that gets a bad rap, try bringing shaved brussels sprouts! They’re really tasty and I bet you can get even the pickiest of eaters to like them 🙂

  • Skinny Mac and Cheese – This tasty mac and cheese is made with fat free cottage cheese, whole wheat pasta, and broccoli, making it a perfect side dish for your Thanksgiving feast!

  • World’s Best Broccoli – To this day, this is my absolute favorite way to cook broccoli. With a salty, sweet, and spicy topping, it’s a little fancier than regular roasted broccoli I would throw together on a weeknight. Luckily it’s still really easy and delicious, making it the perfect side dish to bring with you this Thanksgiving.

Desserts

  • Healthy apple cookies – These apple cookies are made with real apples, applesauce, and whole wheat flour. With a mix of healthy add-ins like raisins and nuts and a good mixture of fall spices, you’ll love these sweet iced cookies!

  • Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies – This is actually one of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes! Of course, as Phoebe knows, nothing can beat the Nestle Tollhouse recipe on the back of the bag, but this healthy alternative made with chickpeas is a great version!

Other Recipes from Around the Web

  • Ginger and Apple Bourbon – I don’t usually include drink recipes on the blog because I often think they’re too much trouble to put together (who has time to make a simple syrup? Not this girl) but this recipe from the Tampopo Post looked so easy and delicious I just had to share it. All you do is mix fresh cider, super-gingery ginger beer, and Kentucky bourbon in a 2:2:1 ratio. So easy!

  • Salted Caramel Apple Cups – Although these salted caramel apple cups from The Girl Who Ate Everything aren’t the healthiest dessert on the planet, their smaller individual serving size makes them great for portion control. Plus there’s apples in them, so that’s got to count for something, right? 😉 This is one recipe I definitely plan to use for Thanksgiving this year.

Aaaaaand now I’m hungry. Too bad I’ll have to wait a few more weeks to make any of these! Maybe I should do some sort of test run? You know, just to make sure it tastes ok? 😉

Hopefully this recipe roundup has inspired you to contribute something healthy to your family’s Thanksgiving feast this year!

Question of the day: What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish?

 Posted by on November 4, 2014