Monday, January 12, 2015

Pork Tenderloin Stuffed Peppers with Brown Rice and Spinach #healthyluxemeals

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It's so exciting to discover new favorite foods, especially when you haven't given them a chance in the past... and in this case, downright avoided them.

So, bell peppers.  I never liked bell peppers (the proof was in the pile of leftovers every time I got fajitas). But it turns out I just don't like the green ones. The red, yellow and orange ones are so much sweeter.  And well worth the extra price you pay for them... which may have been the reason why I passed them over in the first place.  But, these days I can't get enough.  I roast them for salads, chop them up to add flavor to soups and stews, and use the baby bells to dip in hummus. 

And my favorite way to use them?  Stuffed peppers.  

This version uses pork tenderloin, but they're versatile enough to use any type of meat you'd like, including steak, chicken, or even leftover shredded beef or pork from last night's pot roast or crock pot meal.  You can even use tofu or a meat substitute for a vegetarian option.

A little spicy from the Cajun seasoning, and just enough richness from the melted mozzarella cheese.  This dish has all the elements of comfort food meets healthy food... with a few really good-for-you foods like spinach and brown basmati rice added in. 


Pork Tenderloin Stuffed Peppers with Brown Rice & Spinach

Serves 3

1/2 onion, chopped
12 oz. pork tenderloin, cooked and cut into cubes
8 oz. (1/2 can) diced tomatoes, drained
1-1/2 c. cooked brown basmati rice
1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning (salt-free if possible)
1/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
5 oz. fresh spinach
Salt and pepper as desired
6 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
3 bells peppers, cut in half and seeds and membranes removed (yellow is my favorite)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, saute the chopped onion in 1 tsp. olive oil until softened and translucent.  Add in the tomatoes, rice, pork, seasonings and spinach.  Cook over medium-high heat until spinach is wilted.  Turn off heat and set aside.

Cut peppers in half and remove seeds and membranes.  Place in a 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with  non-stick stray.  Stuff the peppers with the pork and rice filling.  Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake until cheese is melted and lightly browned, and peppers are soft, about 25 minutes.



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Week 1- Happy Healthy 2015 Meal Plan + Videos and Recipes #LuxeEats

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I've never been one for New Year's Resolutions because I've always believed that each and every day is an opportunity to start fresh.  But this year, I decided to get even more serious about my eating habits.

This last year, I've had some interesting experiences with my raw food culinary classes, as well as even eliminating meat for a few months.  And through it all, I've learned a ton, but have come to the conclusion that the best eating plan for me is based on a balance between organic produce and whole grains, plus organic dairy, humanely-raised and cage-free eggs, and the best quality meats that I can find.

So, here it goes! I've created a 3 week menu (week 2 and 3 to come) based on what seems to work best for me.  I hope this inspires you to add more healthy, unprocessed foods into your diet.  Plus, get excited to cook more at home... which not only tastes better and allows you to control the quality of ingredients, but it's so much cheaper.


WEEK 1- 7 Day Meal Plan

Day 1 

Breakfast- Yogurt and Berry Smoothie (use berries or fruit of choice with non fat plain Greek Yogurt)

Snack- 2 Poached Eggs on Toast with a bit of olive oil drizzled on the toast

Lunch- Salad with lettuce, cut up roasted yellow pepper, low fat and sodium turkey, feta cheese and dressing of choice (I used this balsamic vinaigrette recipe)

Dinner- Citrus Chicken Skewers with Brown Rice and Red Cabbage & Fennel Slaw 

For the chicken, combine juice from 1 lemon and 2 limes, plus 1 tsp. of zest from 1 lime and 1 lemon. Add in 1 Tblsp. balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp. olive oil, seasoning as desired (I used Greek) and 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes. Set aside 1 Tblsp. to use on the red cabbage and fennel slaw. And to the rest of it add chicken chunks and let marinade for at least 2-3 hours. Then place chicken on skewers and grill on an indoor grill pan or on an outdoor grill. (recipe adapted from The Daniel Plan).

For the slaw, mix cabbage and fennel and pour over the 1 Tblsp. reserved marinade/dressing.  Add honey if needed for extra sweetness.

Snack- Orange 

Day 2 

Breakfast- Oatmeal 

Snack- Plain Greek Yogurt mixed with unsweetened coconut flakes and an orange 

Lunch- Chicken Sausage Vegetable Soup 

Saute organic, low sodium chicken sausage in a small skillet to brown and then set aside. In a stockpot, saute a diced onion and sliced leeks in a tsp. of oil. When soft, add in whatever vegetables you'd like (I'm using baby zucchini, green beans, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, celery, corn and spinach). And top off with non fat, low sodium organic vegetable broth. Season to taste (I used Parisien Bonnes Herbes from Penzeys). Bring to a boil and simmer until vegetables are done. If using spinach add at the very end to wilt. Add in browned chicken sausage. 

Dinner- Baked Cod with Zucchini and Potato Skillet topped with feta cheese 

For the cod, place cod in foil packet with lemon juice and seasoning of choice (I used Greek seasoning). Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until cooked through.

For the skillet, saute 1/2 a sliced onion in 1 tsp. oil. Add in sliced zucchini and cook until softened. In the meantime, cut the potatoes in small chunks and microwave until soft. Add potatoes into the skillet and add seasoning as desired (I used a lemon pepper seasoning). Top with feta cheese.

Snack- Sliced Apple on top of Cottage Cheese. Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste.

Day 3 

Breakfast- 1 cup Steel Cut Oatmeal with Maple Syrup

Snack- Kiwis, sliced over yogurt. Sprinkle with unsweetened coconut. 

Lunch- Chicken Sausage Veggie Soup 

See Day 2 for recipe.

Dinner- Steak tacos using grilled steak, corn tortillas, cheese, lettuce and red cabbage slaw. Note- I doubled this recipe for leftovers.

For the cabbage slaw, shred the cabbage. Mix with 1 tsp. olive oil and 2-3 tsp. of balsamic vinegar to taste. Add in 1 tsp. stevia if desired, salt-free seasoning of choice, and pepper.

Snack- Orange and Cottage Cheese. 

Day 4 

Breakfast- Greek Yogurt and Berries Smoothie (use berries or fruit of choice) 

Snack- 2 poached or scrambled eggs on toast (I used Ezekiel bread). 

Lunch- Steak tacos using grilled steak, 1 whole wheat mini pita, cheese, lettuce and roasted fennel. 

Use leftovers from Day 3. For the fennel, slice up thin and layer on a cookie sheet (I use foil on the bottom). Drizzle with 1 tsp. olive oil and add a bit of sea salt. Roast at 350 or until lightly browned and caramelized.

Dinner- Chicken Picatta with Green Beans and Salad using dressing of choice (I used leftover balsamic vinaigrette from day 1).

For 4 chicken breasts, saute seasoned chicken breasts (I used lemon pepper) in 1 tsp. oil. When browned and almost cooked through, add the juice of 2 lemons and 1/4 c. non fat vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened.

Snack- Fruit Popsicle 

Blend fruit or berries of choice with 1 tsp. stevia and pour into popsicle molds (add water or orange juice if needed to thin out). Freeze overnight. (I used 3 cups of fruit to make 6 popsicles- but yours might vary depending on popsicle mold size).

Day 5

Breakfast- Eggs scrambled with spinach. Serve on a piece of toast (I use Ezekiel Bread). 

Snack- Orange Slices on top of Cottage Cheese 

Lunch- Chicken Picatta with Green Beans

Use leftovers from Day 4.

Dinner- Beef Burger in a Lettuce Wrap with Cheese. Add Roasted Sweet Potatoes on the side.

Snack- Apple and Pumpkin Seeds


Day 6 

Breakfast- Greek Yogurt and Berries Smoothie (use berries or fruit of choice) 

Snack- 2 Hard boiled Eggs and 1 c. Oatmeal 

Lunch- Turkey Salad with Roasted Yellow Pepper, Feta Cheese and Balsamic Dressing 

Dinner- Lemony Cilantro Turkey Burger with Spinach and Quinoa 

Click here for the Turkey Burger recipe. For the Spinach and Quinoa. Cook quinoa according to package directions and add in spinach to wilt. Drizzle 1 tsp. olive oil over and season as desired.  Lime juice would also be a nice addition.

Snack- Orange 

Day 7 

Breakfast- 2 Egg scramble with spinach and feta cheese. Serve on a piece of toast (I use Ezekiel bread). 

Snack- Sliced apple over cottage cheese. Sprinkle with cinnamon. 

Lunch- Lemony Cilantro Turkey Burger and Kale Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette 

See Day 6 for recipes.

Dinner- Roast Salmon with Brown Rice and Green Beans 

Drizzle the salmon with lemon juice and season (I used all purpose seasoning). Roast in a foil packet at 350 for 20 minutes or until cooked through (depends on thickness of salmon). 

Snack- Pineapple and Blueberries



Disclaimer: I am not a Nutritionist, and this meal plan is not a recommendation. This is simply what works for me, and how I choose to eat.  Each day offers between 1300-1500 calories, and follows the recommendations of the USDA for fat/protein/carbohydrate percentages, plus servings of foods such as grains, fruits, meat, dairy, vegetables, etc.  


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

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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

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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.
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