spotlight

Fall foods and veggies dominate this week’s recipes. The pumpkin recipes are unavoidable at this point too. I did a lot of cooking last week (peanut butter cream pie, homemade cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookie cake…..). It was so refreshing to be back in the kitchen & I hope to keep it going! Hope you’re able to do the same with some of these recipes. Enjoy!

trick those taste buds during the upcoming eating holiday season with this cobbler turned juice or maybe these pumpkin cheesecake bites

how to make oatmeal ahead of time. there are really no excuses for skipping the most important meal of the day!

everyone will find something to love in this white bean tortellini soup

this tuscan vegetable stew looks a.m.a.z.i.n.g

don’t let the title of this creamy vegan herb salad dressing scare you. homemade dressing is way healthier than store-bought. and I think I could totally get on the tofu train if it were blended up into a salad dressing.

I have a feeling even veggie haters will be able to get on board with these roasted vegetable stuffed shells

make your halloween dinner fun with these halloween stuffed peppers

italian provolone pull-apart bread would make a perfect snack for watching football (or baseball! GO ROYALS!)

make your lunch time carrot sticks festive with spicy pumpkin chipotle hummus

pecan spiced buttermilk pancakes make for a perfect fall morning

instead of butter, you can spray this pumpkin spice popcorn with a little cooking spray to help the spices stick and you’ve got a healthy, whole grain fall snack!

 

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spotlight

I’ve found a pretty wide variety of recipes in the past week! I tried not to go heavy on the pumpkin recipes since they’re everywhere – hope you find something to try! Also, I’ll be putting together some posts for the coming weeks soon, so don’t forget to let me know if there is a topic you’re interested in learning more about [realfoodfirstRD at gmail.com OR there’s a comment form on my about page]!

roasted cauliflower + chickpea salad

slow-cooked tomato + herb white beans

steel cut oats + cinnamon stewed fruit

easy chicken pad thai

spinach artichoke pesto tortellini soup

roasted red pepper tortilla soup

raspberry bread

loaded power salad

slow cooker sweet potato, chicken, + quinoa soup

spotlight

Fall foods are taking over my kitchen in full force lately! There are some on today’s list that you don’t want to miss – like homemade applesauce! It’s so easy! Enjoy!

if you’re not sure how to use all the spices in your spice cabinet or just want to be more creative in the kitchen, this infographic is perfect for you. so much great info!!

if you don’t mind a little spice, you’ll probably love this sriracha roasted chicken

do you make homemade pizza? I used to make it at least once a week but I’ve gotten out of the habit. this thai chicken pizza would be a nice change of pace

I think I have my favorite pizza crust recipe on this blog somewhere from back in the day, but this whole wheat pizza dough is even faster. now you have no excuse NOT to make pizza this week! 🙂

did you jump on the kale chip bandwagon a couple years back? I know…it sounds like major hippie food but they’re pretty darn good and these masala kale chips look incredibly addicting.

I’m not a fan of tomato soup, but this one actually looks pretty incredible

a souffle pancake with cinnamon apples sounds like the perfect fall Saturday morning treat

fried chicken is high in unhealthy saturated fats but if it’s a routine part of your dinner menu, you can make a lighter version like this oven fried chicken

nachos are one of my favorite foods and they don’t have to be unhealthy. load them up with fiber-filled black beans, healthy fats from avocado, and veggies like bell peppers and corn for a filling meal you can enjoy and feel good about.

fall is full of all kinds of squash. if you haven’t tried it, what better way to start than squash covered in sweet and sour sauce?

everyone in the family will like easy cheese baked tortellini. bonus – it can easily be frozen so make a couple batches at once!

if you have a slow cooker and you haven’t made homemade applesauce yet, you are missing out. it is so incredibly delicious and EASY….and makes your house smell amazing.

fast food friday

I am all about fast food. No, I’m not talking about what you might find at your local Burger King. I’m talking healthy, real food that I can make at home….fast.

When I get hungry, I need food right.this.very.second….or else things go downhill quickly (just ask my family). Planning ahead is 100% necessary because I can go from being totally fine/not hungry at all to absolutely ravenous in approximately 30 seconds.

Because of this, it helps to have a rough plan for what I’m going to make for dinner each night so I don’t eat my entire kitchen while trying to make up my mind (which is even harder at this point because everything sounds good when you’re hungry!).

Maybe you have the same experience at dinner time? If so, I thought it might be fun to share some of the quick meals I make during the week. Some honestly take as little as 10 minutes, start to finish. Doing some prep on the weekends (washing/chopping vegetables, etc.) has saved me even more time with both cooking and clean-up during the week, but it doesn’t add on a ton of time if I haven’t done those things in advance.

For this week’s quick meal, I’m sharing this salad I made last night:

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My rough plan for dinner was Mexican. This usually means rice/homemade tortillas/chips/sweet potato + beans, corn, avocado, salsa, etc. Varying the “base” makes it feel/taste like a different meal, even though it may be the same ingredients.

For this salad, I turned the oven on broil when I walked in the door (so it would heat faster…it works – try it!). I chopped a sweet potato and tossed it with a little oil, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, smoked paprika, and salt. This went on a foil-lined baking sheet (less clean-up) and into the oven, which I then turned down to 425 degrees.

The sweet potato takes 15-20 minutes, but I spent that time getting out the other ingredients and cleaning up the kitchen. You could also roast the sweet potato in advance & store in the fridge for even quicker prep. To put it all together, I tossed some mixed greens with salsa and topped with leftover chicken (cooked in the slow cooker over the weekend), avocado, and sweet potato.

Easy, filling, healthy, delicious. That’s what fast food should be, right?

the cost of healthy eating: part 4

A few weeks delayed, but here is the last part of the series on the cost of healthy eating. So far, we’ve talked about how to shop for healthy foods on a budget and the cost of making foods at home from scratch vs buying pre-made foods. I didn’t go much into eating out, but my guess is that it would be pretty difficult to eat out 2-3 meals per day each week for less than the $40 spent on groceries in that post.

Today, I’ll show you a little bit of how you can make healthy eating a part of your busy schedule because, let’s face it: even if we know it’s cheaper (and healthier) to make food at home, it seems much easier to pick up something already made for you. However, it only takes a little planning to make healthy foods the fast and easy choice.

An hour or so on the weekend can leave you with a fully stocked fridge ready for the week ahead:

Meal Prep

When you get home from the store, wash and cut vegetables to make them easy to throw into lunches or dinner recipes during the week. I usually peel all my carrots and cut some into carrot sticks for lunches and some into smaller pieces for roasting. Broccoli also gets washed and chopped. Store carrots in a container with water to prevent them from drying out or getting soft. Store cut broccoli in a plastic bag with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture.

While cutting vegetables, you can be cooking rice for the week, which really requires no hands-on effort. One serving of rice is 1/4 cup dry, so I generally boil 2 cups of water and cook 1 cup of rice. That leaves me with enough rice for 4 lunches, which I store in individual portions to make things even easier. Dry beans also take minimal time to prepare – simply soak in a pot of water overnight or ~8 hours, rinse, add new water, and boil for about 1.5 hours. You can then keep some in the fridge for the week and freeze the rest!

I use this recipe for bread – it takes about 10 minutes to mix up and then just needs to rise. I used to make the 2 loaves and freeze one but I don’t eat bread enough to finish a whole loaf before it goes bad. By making the dough into rolls, I can freeze them all and just put 2-3 in the fridge for the week so they’re thawed when I want them.

So, what can you do with all these foods to make healthy eating easier?? For lunch, I grab one of my containers of pre-cooked rice, add 1/2 cup beans and some chopped bell pepper (which can also be done in advance), and heat it for about a minute while I fill a bowl with spinach, salsa, and avocado. Add the rice + beans and you have an incredibly filling, healthy lunch that took less than 5 minutes to put together.

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Sometimes I have to eat dinner away from home, so I can use pre-cooked quinoa or rice and make something like a burrito bowl that is good cold or hot. You could even cook chopped chicken breast on the weekend to easily add to something like this.

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This also works with rice/quinoa, sun-dried tomatos, chickpeas, lemon juice, and roasted eggplant (which can also be made ahead).

Having broccoli, carrots, and other veggies pre-chopped not only allows me to prepare dinner faster, but saves me time by not having to clean a cutting board. I just toss some of the pre-chopped veggies on a foil-lined baking sheet (now I don’t have to clean the baking pan either), give a little spray with canola oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake at 400 to 425 for 15 minutes for an easy, healthy side dish.

Those are just some of the ways you can make healthy eating easy during the week. What are some of the things you do to make meal prep easier?