Tuesday, June 16, 2015

the month of pretty much not cooking… a few of my favorite meal hacks

Another fabulous school year wrapped up for the kids. 

The errands have been run. We've stocked up on books. 

Camp gear is laid out and Mabel's Labels have been put to task. 

I've been {humorously/pathetically} trying to re-learn my high school exchange student German in anticipation of a big family adventure. 

The kids are relishing a lack of schedule {and the house is pretty much a complete wreck as I try to settle into summer mode}. 

This month's been hard, as I worked through excruciating physical therapy and navigated anti-inflammatory meds that made me bloat up, feel down and just want to nap. And so began the month-of-not-cooking... 

Who knows if this "month" will extend all summer. But we all need to eat, and I like to feed my family well-- even if I don't feel up to cooking-- so here's a peek into some of my mealtime hacks:

For lunches on the go, I've become a big fan of Green and Tonic's Summer Roll. My older son's favorite is the Burrito Bowl. And I've been known to pick up two Soba Noodle Salads, pair them with a protein and call it dinner. 

I've been keeping at least two tubs of this Eat Well Embrace Life hummus on hand for easy, protein-packed snacks. Good stuff. Our local market, Walter Stewart's, carries a bunch of different kinds and friends out West echoed their love for this stuff, so you should be able to snag a few tubs by you too.

Mrs. Green's Market in New Canaan sells a variety of tamales {handy when you've got both vegetarian and meatatarian kids and want to make one family dinner}. I keep thinking "some day I'll make a bunch of tamales and stock my freezer with them…", but for now, these do the trick. Big hit around here. I recall also seeing tamales at Trader Joe's, but am not sure if that's a seasonal thing, or if they've become a permanent item? Anyone know?

For the few meals I have cooked this month, I've kept it super easy.

Rainy Day Roasted Asparagus

Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Lemon Zest

Preheat oven to 400. Snap tough ends off asparagus. Place asparagus spears on rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and shake to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 10 minutes, until spears start to turn golden brown at tips and are fork tender. Remove from oven and sprinkle asparagus with lemon zest and Parmesan while warm. Serve warm or room temp. 

Tomato Basil Mozzarella Stacks

Beefsteak Tomatoes, thickly sliced
Fresh Basil
Salt and Pepper
Lemon Zest

Stack. Easy. 

And one time I forgot to say, "no" and found myself needing to bring a homemade app to a gathering. After kicking myself, I thought back on what's simple and crowd pleasing for young and old alike. A riff on this one.  You can see I just mixed the pesto into the cheese mixture and topped each one with a half a cherry tomato this go round. Everyone loved them. 

So, from running into a bunch of you around town, I know I'm not the only one who's given up cooking either in the short term or for the summer. Do you have any favorite meals you've been picking up or cobbling together? Come chilly weather, we can all gather in our kitchens again and stock those freezers with goodness. Until then, let's hear your favorite mealtime hacks.

This post contains affiliate links. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

what's been cooking...

This post contains affiliate links.

Has it really been a month since I've sat down to post?

Well, I will fully admit to not spending a whole lot of time in the kitchen. The sun is finally out in the Northeast, and so am I. But here's what I've been whipping up...

To keep my skin clear and bright, smoothies every morning. I combine 2 cups of water, coconut water or almond milk + 1 packet of ALOHA Daily Good Greens + 1/4 - 1/2 cup of a good fat like hazelnuts, almonds or avocado + 1/2 - 1 cup of fresh or frozen fruit.

Blend it all together and voila. A satisfying start to my day.

My other morning ritual? 1 cup coffee + 1 Tablespoon coconut oil + 1-2 scoops collagen. Sounds weird, tastes delish. And keeps me looking 33 vs 43.

There's a lot of blending in the Spring. Quick and easy… and makes meals come together quickly. One recent fav:

Chimichuri Sauce
(makes 2+ cups; store in fridge or freeze)

2-3 cups fresh parsley
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup cider or red wine vinegar vinegar (or more, to taste)
4-5 cloves garlic (or more, to taste)
salt and pepper, to taste

Whiz everything in a blender or food processor until smooth. Serve drizzled over chicken, steak, fish, shrimp, quinoa, couscous, rice and/or grilled veggies. 

I've also made sure to keep a few tubs of pesto on hand for quick weeknight dinners. Kale Pesto is a go-to, and another that's become a recent fav is Carrot-Cashew Pesto. Deelish. This is one of the recipes in the Second Batch of Stock Your Freezer in a Snap, which you can purchase here if you don't already have the instant download. Lots of good vegetarian, gluten-free, and family friendly freezer recipes in there that you can whip up.

My kids love this Carrot-Cashew one because it's creamy and sweet.

I love to spread this one on naan and make a pizza dinner, which has been pleasing both the vegetarians and non-vegetarians around here.

Fitbit Flex Activity + Sleep Wristband

That kind of dinner comes together quickly, which is perfect because I find we're on on fields, tracks and whatnot well into the evenings most nights.

My other fav, if games, matches, belt tests or meets fall right at lunchtime or dinnertime, is the snack bar at our local park. My personal favorite? Emad's Falafel Platter. If you're at Mead Park, it's a must try.

I was trying to think back on the past month and the only real 'cooking' I've done was to restock our supply of enchiladas for the freezer. I've taken to making large trays of chicken ones, and packaging up individual containers of vegetarian ones for my older son. Have that system down pat so we can all enjoy the 'same' meal.

On Cinqo de Mayo we had both sets of grandparents visiting, so I whipped a chicken and veggie tray of enchiladas out of the freezer and served them alongside that delicious Romaine, Jicama, Mango Salad that's an oldie but goodie on the blog.

Plus, since that enchilada recipe makes a ton, we were able to surprise our son's dedicated Robotics Team coaches and teachers with a Cinqo de Mayo feast too. Ole!

Anyway, given the choice, we're taking most of our meals outside

and when I do cook (enchiladas being the exception), I'm making a real effort to eat clean-- lots of quinoa salads, things like the chimichurri sauce and pestos mentioned above drizzled over grilled veggies, fish or meat.

But then there are those times when you think, "I want to be good… but man of man, do I also want a decadent treat!". And that's when I poke around sites I like and find recipes like this Banoffee Pie from Oh She Glows that make me swoon.

Fitbit Flex

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

easy clean eating: banana-walnut chia pudding

Whipped this up to rave reviews this week...

As one commenter said on the Facebook page, "I love chia pudding  But I think you have to like tapioca pudding to deal with the texture. Just my opinion….." and I'd totally agree. We happen to love it around here.

As you can see, I had some ripe bananas just begging to become a wholesome snack, so this go round, I decided to make the chia pudding banana-flavored… but then at the last minute I added walnuts too for some extra good fat. If you have nut allergies, you can absolutely omit the walnuts, no problem, and you can use whatever milk your family enjoys-- be it dairy, seed, soy or nut.

OK, so the preparation is super simple-- first you blend 2 cups of milk {whichever type your using} + 2 bananas + 1/2 cup walnuts {optional} + 1 Tablespoon vanilla + 1 teaspoon cinnamon {or more, to taste-- I like our cinnamon-y so I added as much as a Tablespoon} + a dash of ginger {optional, start with a scant 1/2 teaspoon and go from there til you get to desired taste}. Once this mixture is smooth...

you'll simply pour it over 2/3 cup of chia seeds, then either stir well-- or shake-- and place the bowl into the fridge overnight. In the morning you'll have a thick pudding to enjoy for a protein-packed breakfast, or a special after school snack.  

Banana-Walnut Chia Seed Pudding
{makes 6 servings}

2 cups of milk {dairy, nut, seed, or soy-- your choice}
2 bananas
1/2 cup walnuts {optional}
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon {or more, to taste}
a dash of ginger {optional}
2/3 cup chia seeds

Blend all but the chia seeds until mixture is smooth. Place chia seeds in a bowl or jar large enough to hold whole batch of pudding. Pour banana mixture over the chia seeds and stir-- or shake-- to combine. Place container in fridge overnight.