Monday, October 13, 2014

{Video} Trader Joe's Haul and 2 Week "He Said, She Said" Meal Plan

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I'm married to a meat eater... is this relationship doomed?

OK, so that sounds a bit dramatic.  But, more and more I'm reading about people struggling with meal planning... and way too much time and money spent at the grocery store, now that their partner, spouse, kids, or even they, themselves have moved over to a plant-based diet.  And believe me, it's usually the cook in the house that suffers the most.  And by suffer, I mean double time, and double the dishes in the kitchen.

I stopped eating meat about 3 months ago, for no particular reason except that I lost the taste for it.  And I've never looked back, and have already reaped many of the benefits of a plant-based diet.  But my husband did not... and who am I to judge, or make him fend for himself in the kitchen.  Because, let's face it, Taco Bell and tuna sandwiches can only get a person so far.

So I decided to sit down and map out some ways to satisfy our "He Said, She Said" diets, and it has actually worked. I've spent less time than I ever have in the kitchen (seriously, we're talking 23 years of marriage) with far less dishes.  And the best part? We're both eating healthier... even my husband now asks for, and truly enjoys his rainbow salad with "nibbly bits" (raw sunflower seeds and dried cranberries) every single day.

He Said, She Said Meal Planning Tips

1, Make whole grain and vegetable dishes the main attraction, and the meat an extra. Not only will you save money, but you'll start to enjoy the feeling of being able to eat more.  And not feel as bloated, weighed down, or sleepy, like you would with a heavy meat-based meal.

2. Look for a Trader Joe's in your area. I especially enjoy purchasing their frozen chicken breasts and fish. This makes it easier to grab what you need to make a "He Said" meal, without worrying about meat going bad, or depending too much on leftovers.

3. Rotisserie chickens are a "He Said" eater's best friend. Chicken can easily be added to just about any "She Said" meals like rice or quinoa, tacos, pasta dishes... the list is endless.

4. Check out your grocery store's sale flyer each week, and buy meat that can be used for several "He Said" meals. His favorite is pork tenderloin, which we often find on sale BOGO at Harris Teeter. The first night I roast it, then the next few nights it can be used in sandwiches, quasadillas, or our favorite- stir fried rice.

5. Make your "She Said" meals based around what's in season. Not only will this save you money (buying in-season produce) but you can also support your local farmers.  Don't have a farmers market nearby? Most grocery stores purchase some of their produce locally or regionally, so look for the signs.  Much better to buy produce from a few hours away, rather than across the country... or from another country.

6. Purchase a variety of vegetables each week for your "He Said, She Said" salads.  Once a week, I wash and cut up many of the vegetables ahead of time like beets, broccoli, red and orange peppers (don't buy the green ones- they're actually unripe peppers), red cabbage and fennel.  And don't forget your "nibbly bits" which are my favorite part... raw pumpkin seeds (make sure and buy raw) and dried cranberries (low sugar is not always better- look at the ingredient list).  I also add clover sprouts, but make sure you buy from a reputable company that tests each batch for any harmful bacteria.

7. Make up a few salad dressings each week, and keep them in the fridge.  I rarely buy dressings at the store these days (except my husband loves Briannas "strawberry" dressing). By making them myself, I can control the ingredients, and the sugar... and they take minutes to make.  My favorite is olive oil, apple cider vinegar (make sure it has the "mother"), Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper.  Simple shake it all up in a mason jar, keep the leftovers in the fridge, and you're good to go for the week. 

8. Keep it Simple.  Long gone are the days where I made complicated dishes that left my kitchen a major mess.  Try to incorporate as much raw produce as you can into your diet (which only needs a knife and a cutting board).  And for the "He Said" dishes, look for recipes that utilize one pan... like a baking dish, a cookie sheet for roasting, or even foil, for the simplest foil baked fish, etc.  Once you learn some simple and delicious recipes (like those below) you'll realize just how much better tasting, quicker... and cost effective preparing food at home can really be. 

He Said, She Said 2-Week Meal Plan

Week 1

Monday- (H) Pork Tenderloin (S) White Bean, Leek and Asparagus Salad and a side salad
For the pork, trim off any extra fat and place in 9x13 pan. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and Greek seasoning. Roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until an internal temperature of 136 degrees (USDA says 145 degrees). Let rest, and then slice.

Tuesday- (H) Pork Quesadillas with Balsamic Onions (S) Roasted Root Veggie Quesadilla with Balsamic Onions and a side salad
For both quesadillas, peel and cut into chunks whatever root vegetables you'd like, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc. Place on a rimmed cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Salt and pepper, and I like to add the zest of a lime for some extra flavor. Roast at 400 degrees until caramelized, around 25 minutes. 

For the balsamic onions, thinly slice a sweet onion and add to a hot skillet with about 1 Tblsp. oil. Cook for a few minutes until translucent, and then turn down heat to medium low. Add in about 2 Tblsp. balsamic vinegar and a bit of salt and cook until the vinegar is reduced, about 20 minutes.

For the "He Said" quesadilla, place a small amount of oil in a skillet and once heated up add in a tortilla. Top with roasted veggies, sliced leftover pork, balsamic onions and goat cheese. Then top with another tortilla.  Once the bottom is nicely browned and starting to crisp, turn over and brown the other side. For the "She Said" quesadilla, follow all the steps except leave out the pork.

Wednesday- (H) Citrus Soy Glazed Sirloin (S) Zucchini Corn Pesto

Thursday- (H) Steak Fried Rice (S) Broccoli and Carrot Fried Rice
For the "She Said" meal, add in the broccoli and carrots before the meat, and serve. Then for the remaining stir fry, add in the meat for the "He Said" meal.

Friday- (H & S) Leftovers

Saturday- (H) Salsa Chicken (S) Bok Choy and Fennel Salad
For the salsa chicken, simply defrost the chicken (or use fresh), trim off any fat, and wipe off any juices. Place in a greased 9x9 baking dish. Spinkle the chicken with a bit of salt and then top with your favorite jarred salsa. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (depending on thickness).

Sunday- (H) Leftover Chicken in the Taco Salad (S) Brasil Nut Taco Salad with Corn Salsa and Guacamole

Week 2

Monday(H & S) Curry Noodles and a side salad

Tuesday- (H & S) Butternut Squash Chili and a side salad

Wednesday- (H) Tuscan Chicken Artichoke Bake over rice or quinoa (S) Rainbow Salad with Spicy Balsamic Lime Vinaigrette
For the chicken bake, defrost 3 chicken breasts (or use fresh) and cut into bit size pieces. In a greased baking dish add in the chicken pieces in one layer. Salt and pepper. Then top with a can of chopped tomatoes (drained) and a can of artichoke heart quarters (not marinated, and drained). Pour in enough chicken broth to come about half way up the pan. Sprinkle all with Greek seasoning (I use quite a bit). Serve over cooked rice or quinoa.

For the salad- use the veggies listed in the recipe. Or make a rainbow salad including all your favorites... one of every color!

Thursday- (H) Leftover Chili (S) Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Lentils and Dates 

Friday- (H) Leftover Chicken Artichoke Bake (S) Leftover Cauliflower Salad

Saturday- (H) Honey Glazed Salmon in Foil (S) Beet Ravioli with Pine Nut Goat Cheese Rosemary Cream Sauce 

Sunday- (H & S) Leftovers

Enjoy! And please check back for future He Said, She Said meal plans and recipe ideas.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

{Video} Week 4 Matthew Kenney Raw Food Academy- Final Recap


Just now, several weeks after graduation, I've really been able to absorb what was a whirlwind month.  Really let it all sink in, and reflect on not only what I've learned, but also how this raw food culinary experience has truly changed me. 

You see, as I started down this path, I had the dream of starting my own raw food business, which I still plan on doing.  And thanks to this program, I feel like I have the skills to prepare raw food for a successful business.  But there's more to it.

Through it all, I've seen the biggest change in me.

Today, I realize that there was so much more, and over the next months I'll be sharing more of my own personal journey of some very unusual, yet pretty intense health challenges this last year. And how organic and raw food has helped me get back to health.  No more hot flashes or night sweats.  Increased energy.  And a miraculous reduction in food allergies.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash and Spinach Chili #SecretRecipeClub


OK, so it might be a tad bit early for a hearty chili recipe, but come on Fall.  I know you're out there.  It's not that I don't love you, Summer, but this year has been a bit unusual, as I spent more time in the kitchen cooking, than laying on the beach soaking up the sunshine.

And so here we are in September (I know!), at another Secret Recipe Club reveal time.  And this month I was assigned to Tracy over at Pale Yellow.  Tracy has such a fun blog.  Science teacher by day, blogger by night, and she even has two turtles. Seriously, how cute it that.

So, as I perused her recipe index, I was drawn in by many, including her Irish Cream, Key Lime Cheesecakes, and Onion Jam Pizza (and did I mention these are all vegan recipes!)  But, I opted for this delicious looking (and sounding) chili.  And it was a huge hit in our home, tonight.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Week 3 Matthew Kenney Raw Food Academy- Recap and a Fennel and Pea Shoot Salad with Spicy Balsamic Lime Vinaigrette Recipe

Bahain Soup

Week 3 was the most intense, yet most satisfying week... with some really challenging and delicious recipes.  I don't know if this happens to you, but in my schooling experience, when I'm learning something new, there comes a point where things just click.  And this week, it all seemed to come together in my mind. And I gained an ever greater respect and love for raw cuisine... plus it didn't hurt that this was sweets week.

Oh yes, it was one sweet week (also read about week 1 and week 2).

And I think my favorite sweets were these chocolate chip cookies.  This was hard for me to wrap my head around, as I'm a long-time chocolate chip cookie connoisseur.  But these kept us coming back again and again, despite the fact that there were no eggs... or butter... white or brown sugar... or even white flour.

Chocolate Chip Cookies 

We even made the chocolate chips.  And learned that this superfood, cacao, has 10x more antioxidant potency than blueberries, 21x more potency than green tea, and 14-30x more potency than red wine.

I love that I didn't even need fancy equipment, we just snipped off the corner of a ziplock bag and out came these chocolaty morsels.

Raw Cacao Chips

And then there were cacao truffles... covered in coconut sugar, maca powder, bee pollen, a mix of dehydrated lemon and coconut, and cacao powder.

Monday, September 1, 2014

20 Vegetarian Lunchbox Ideas for Adults- Food Bloggers Recipe Roundup


There's an undeniable excitement in the air.  And all of this back to school talk has got me in the mood to buy Hello Kitty pencil cases, bubblegum erasers, and Sergio Valente jeans... which were just as fashionable at the roller rink as on the playground, by the way.  

And don't forget grocery shopping with Mom, to stock up on Wonder bread, b-o-l-o-g-n-a, and chocolate chips for her 7-layer bars.  Yes, it was the 80's, and looking back, I'm thinking that some of those less than desirable lunchbox items were surely balanced out by our daily nutritious, homemade breakfasts and dinners.

But now, fast forwarding 30 years, I'm still wanting a fun, fast and flavorful lunch... but a little more healthy.  A little more filling.  And full of fresh veggies and whole grains.

So, today some of the best bloggers around, and I, are giving you ample ideas and beautiful vegetarian recipes to help you get motivated to make more homemade lunches. Lunches that you can take to work, or simply have ready in the fridge to help you make healthier choices, when you're busy or on the go.

Vegetarian Dish - Brown rice with lentils, cucumbers, tomatoes & feta

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