Soup, soup and more soup!
That's what we've been having on the menu around here!
The cold weather really brings out the need to have truly comforting meals, specially at dinner time and a steaming bowl of vegetable soup is always a safe choice. I like to use whatever vegetables are in season and, sometimes, I also add something more substantial for a complete meal like mini meatballs, kidney beans or small shaped pasta.
This time I wanted to keep it simple and clean.
I had some protein for the main dish so I just went with basic vegetables for a nutrient dense soup and a nutritional boost for the whole family. Giving the children a cup of soup is a great way to amp up their vegetate intake and it also helps to limit the amount of food they have in one sitting.
If you're having a plate or bowl of soup before the main course you'll be having less of it, controlling your portions and allowing you to feel satisfied with natural, "good for you" food.
1 sweet onion
chicken broth (enough to cover the vegetables - I used one and a half carton of good quality broth)
1/2 orange bell pepper
3 medium sized white potatoes
2 small cans of diced tomatoes
3 cups white cabbage
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
freshly chopped parsley
1 - Start by prepping all the vegetables that are going to go into the pot. Peel and dice the onion, carrots and potatoes.
2 - Heat the olive oil on a non-stick pot and add the chopped onion. Let it cook for about 5 minutes and add the carrots, the bell pepper and about 1 Tbsp of chopped parsley.
3 - Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and add the diced tomatoes along with all of the tomato juice from the can. Mix everything together and add enough chicken stock to cover the vegetables. Taste the liquid to adjust the seasoning, if necessary, and let it cook in medium heat for about 15 minutes.
4 - Add the diced potatoes to the pot and the previously shredded or roughly chopped cabbage. Cover and let it cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
5 - After the soup has finished cooking turn the heat off and add a handful of chopped parsley for a burst of freshness or add it in each individual plate, when serving.
As I'm writing this post I'm already thinking about the next batch of souping I'm cooking up for next week! I'm leaning towards the fish and seafood soup because it is a complete meal in itself and it is one of my son's favorites.
Of course, I'm always tempted by this recipe of roasted tomato soup or the cozy and super decadent onion soup, which I will now have without the cheese since I gave up dairy almost a year ago. I'm still trying out vegan cheese options but I'm looking for clean products and I haven't really been able to find them...
I hope I've inspired you to try a batch of this wonderful soup or any other that I've published. I'm always amazed at how many soups we can come up with just using the most simple and clean ingredients.
Fall flavors and seasonal produce are my go-to's lately.
I love butternut squash, in particular, and I'm always trying to find different but simple ways to cook it, adding some of the other seasonal staples. Cranberries are sweet and tart at the same time and are the perfect pair for the sweet and buttery taste of the butternut squash. Adding some sage leaves just gives it the perfect final touch and makes these bowls a super comforting meal on a cold day when you just feel like having something special for lunch or dinner.
I also added some walnuts that gave this whole dish a nutty and warm flavor. I love nuts and I always try to incorporate them into my daily meals as a source of healthy fats. They are a great complement for our daily diet, as long as we do some portion control not to have too much calories just from nut intake.
Nuts are high in natural antioxidants, like polyphenols which may protect cells and LDL cholesterol from damage. They can also help reduce inflammation and and are high in fiber which are all great benefits for such mighty tiny little things! I love all kinds of nuts but I'm particularly fond of walnuts, pecans and almonds.
When I make a smoothie bowl for breakfast, for example, I always make sure to top it with seeds and nuts and also some freshly cut fruit and a drizzle of honey - it's a perfect way to start the day and I have a nice serving of healthy fats and nutrients from the fruit too. I use almond or coconut milk since I gave up dairy after realizing how inflammatory it was to me. When I have something else for breakfast I always find a way to incorporate nuts in, at least, one of my daily meals and I must say that I can't even imagine my daily diet without them!
As for my kids, my oldest also loves nuts and usually adds them to his oatmeal with honey, in the morning. My youngest is still not on the nut wagon but she'll get there, eventually! I always like my kids to try everything I cook so they can experience a wide range of flavors and textures and sometimes what they don't like one week becomes their favorite thing the next one!
Talk about ever changing tastes!
One of my goals as a mom of two young children is to teach them how to eat healthy and to make healthy choices. As long as they have the basic notions I believe they'll grow up with the right mindset and, hopefully, will become responsible adults who care about what they feed their bodies.
As for this recipe, the kids are not too fond of butternut squash so mom and dad had these amazing little lunch treats all for themselves! And what a treat that was!
1 small butternut squash
1/2 cup dried cranberries (look for the natural ones, with no added ingredients/sugar)
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup halves walnuts
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp all spice (all natural)
1 - Start by preheating the oven to 450 F.
2 - Peel the butternut squash, cutting it in half and then, after removing the seeds, dice it in small size chunks.
3 - Add the squash pieces to a large bowl where you'll be mixing all the other ingredients.
4 - Add all the other ingredients to the bowl: the cranberries, walnuts and the sage leaves roughly chopped. Season with the salt, pepper, garlic powder and all spice.
5 - Mix everything together and lastly add the olive oil, giving a very good mix after that to incorporate all the ingredients.
6 - Fill a greased baking tray with the butternut squash mix - I used two medium sized souffle bowls which also work perfectly if you're going to make this as single serve meals. I just brushed the inside of the bowls with a bit of olive oil and added the butternut squash mix.
7 - Take the butternut squash filled bowls to the oven to bake for about 30 minutes. Check every 5 minutes after the first 20 so you can adjust the baking time to your own oven - times can vary a bit depending on the oven you have.
8 - After the cooking time has finished and the butternut squash has a beautiful brown color on top , turn the oven off and remove the bowls from the oven.
I had one of these amazing Fall festive cups for lunch, with a perfectly fried organic pasture raised egg on top - the creaminess of the egg yolk was the scrumptious final touch over the brown and toasted butternut squash! Just forgot to take a picture of the said amazing egg!
These squash bowls can also be made with other roasted vegetables. Just play with your favorites and add some different spices to make different combinations for the whole family.
This is a dish that reheats very well so you can easily fit in into your Sunday meal prep and use it during the week to build your weekly menu: add some of your favorite proteins or have it has a breakfast bowl just by adding one or two fried eggs! Just check the post I tagged above, about meal prep, to get an idea about how simple your week meals can get if you start meal prepping over the weekend!
As for me, this is a perfect side dish that allows me to make a whole meal out of it too and that is one of the advantages of thinking about versatile meals - being able to switch the menu with a few staples is what allows me to keep my sanity on busy weeknights!
Just in time for Thanksgiving I tried this new stuffing recipe and it is a keeper!
As most of you know, we don't have any family with us, here in the US, so we spend this holiday season by ourselves. We enjoy the four day weekend and always try to do something fun with the kids, like go roller skating, going to the movies and, of course, having a Thanksgiving dinner as a family. We always go out for dinner and last year we found the perfect place: good food, great service and a family friendly place to have an amazing dinner together.
I always buy a turkey but I save it for when we have visits coming by and I always try to give the recipe a twist!
This year I decided to try a whole30 friendly stuffing with a cauliflower base, some more vegetables and a whole lot of pecans! I love the contrast between savory and sweet and this stuffing really does the trick - salty cauliflower and veggie mix and sweet dried cranberries are the perfect combo! Add some crunchy pecans to the mix and you have a winner, just right there!
This recipe must be made in a pan that can be transferred from the stove top t the oven: I used my cast iron pan which I love to use in this kind of recipes. I always get the impression that food gets even more flavor for being cooked in a cast iron!
I served this as a side dish not really as stuffing inside the turkey. The texture is perfect and the secret is not to overcook the cauliflower rice - if the mix seems a bit dry just add some chicken broth to make it a bit more loose, but not too much! There's nothing worse than mushy cauliflower rice!
I hope this recipe comes in handy and that you'll be able to give it a try for your Thanksgiving dinner. It's a healthy recipe with whole ingredients that, I hope, will please everyone.
1 small sweet onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 celery stalks
salt and pepper
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
3 cups of cauliflower rice (I just used a whole cauliflower, cut it in medium size chunks and riced it on the food processor by using the "pulse" function a few times, until the texture was perfect to use)
1/3 cup dried crnaberries
2 Tbsp chopped pecans + extra to use as a topping for the stuffing
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 - Preheat the oven to 450 F.
2 - Peel and finely dice the onion and the carrot. Dice the celery too and get the olive oil in the pan.
3 - Heat the olive oil for a minute and add the onions first. Cook them for a couple of minutes and add the carrot and celery. Season with salt, pepper, the thyme and half of the garlic powder. Cook in medium heat for about 6-8 minutes.
4 - Add the riced cauliflower, the chopped pecans and the dried cranberries and mix everything together. Cook for about 8 minutes and, if you see that the mixture is getting to dry, just add a bit of chicken stock (maybe 1 or 2 Tbsp) to help cook the vegetables without burning them.
5 - Turn off the heat and add the pecans as topping for the stuffing. Place the pan in the oven to roast for about 20 minutes. This will give the pecans, and the whole dish really, a deeper and stronger flavor.
6 - Add the pomegranate seeds to the top of the stuffing and serve as a side dish together with the other Thanksgiving fixings!
Doesn't that look good?
Who said cauliflower is boring never tried it like this! That's for sure!
Oh, well! The cold weather that came in through last week was all I needed to get on the comforting soup band wagon! Is it just me or to face off these cold nights the best thing to have at hand is a big bowl of steaming hearty soup?!
I try to make a batch of soup every week so we can get a cup of it before our main dish. However, usually that soup is made with a vegetable base, then pureed and sometimes I add some leafy greens, like spinach or kale, and cook it down for an extra 10 minutes or so.
These days I've been feeling like having a whole meal soup!
By adding potatoes, extra veggies or pasta you can get a super comforting and satisfying meal that will work out well as a family dinner. If you feel like adding something else, a slice of garlic bread is always a safe choice and the kids are always up to it!
I was roaming around at a local supermarket by my kids' Portuguese school (they have lessons now, for a couple of hours, two days a week, since there's nothing like cultivating our mother tongue, as well as speaking English during the day, at school), last Tuesday. I couldn't believe when I got to the fresh fish stand and I saw this amazing looking salmon head! I knew I had to get it and I immediately though about making a fish soup out of it.
As I've mentioned before, we love eating fish but it is a really pricey item, here in the US. I'm always amazed at how expensive a fish meal is for the whole family and, usually, I'd pay over $30 just on salmon for a salmon dinner for the four of us. Well, for this beautiful and big salmon head I paid under $3! Isn't that a bargain?! I guess most people aren't used to eating it here and, therefore, it becomes really inexpensive. Great for me because I got this great fish portion and cooked up a really hearty soup that was enough for 8 portions.
If you haven't tried fish head you should really try it out because it's where you'll find the most tasty "meat" of the fish! It is somewhat of a task to, after cooking the fish head, take out all of the bones and get the meat aside for the soup, but it so worth it, I guarantee it!
There's nothing like trying something new and, if you never had it, how can you really say you don't like it?! That is something I always tell my kids and I also follow along those lines with foods that I haven't tried before.
For this soup I used my Instant pot and it worked out perfectly! It's so convenient to just dump all the ingredients in the pot and program it - all I had to do after that was to pick out the fish and take out the bones, after the cooking time came to an end, and add some fresh parsley to give the soup a fresh touch and that was it!
Simple, natural, quick and good tasting food!
1 salmon head (pick out a fairly big one, with a good portion of meat at the end of the head)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 big sweet onion
1 large carrot
2 small bell peppers (I used orange)
1/2 can sweet corn
1 can organic fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1/2 lbs red potatoes
1/2 Tbsp Primal Palate New Bae seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp ground pink Hymalyan salt
1 vegetable "Bou for You" cube
filtered water to cover the vegetables and almost all of the fish head (this will depend on the size of the pot and any additional ingredients you might want to add)
1 - Prep all the vegetables so you can then dump everything in the pot! Peel the onion and the carrot and roughly chop them. Reserve. Wash and chop the peppers and add them, alongside with the onions and carrots the the bottom of the pot. Drizzle the vegetables with the olive oil.
2 - Drain the corn (if you're using canned corn, like I did) and add it also to the pot.
3 - Add the fire roasted tomatoes to the pot. Wash the potatoes and cut them in medium sized chunks. Add to the pot and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and the New Bae Seasoning.
4 - Wash and chop the parsley and cover everything with it. Crush the seasoning cube and lay it all over the other ingredients.
5 - Check the salmon head for some visible scales or bones. After doing that and removing any undesirable bones add it to the pot and add filtered water to cover all the vegetables and half the fish head.
6 - Program the pot, choosing the "soup" program for 25 minutes. After the program ends use the fast release system and take the salmon head out of the pot to remove all of the fish meat that you can. Check the pot for any additional bones and after having all the meaty parts together add them to the soup.
7 - Serve the soup in big bowls and add some more freshly chopped parsley. A slice of good quality bread is also great for dipping in the soup broth!
Apparently, for some people, seeing a fish head may be disturbing and that is why I'm posting this picture at the end of the post, so that everyone can get to read the recipe and not have to look at the piece of fish. What I really like is fresh and natural food and fish is exactly that, in its whole because it such a complete source of protein.
If you prefer you can also use fish portions or fillets to make this soup, you don't have to use fish head.
I can't tell you how good this soup turned out!
I also added some red pepper chili flakes to my steaming bowl of fish soup and it was the perfect final touch! I love spicy food, specially during the cold weather season! Next time you're at the fish market grab a good looking salmon head and try some fish head soup for something different and surprising!
As most of you, who have been following me for a while know, I'm a super fan of "meal prep Sunday".
Taking some hours off to cook and prepare everything you and your family will be having during the week really is something that can take away all the stress from cooking on weekdays or nights and give you the reassurance of having great and healthy food and snacks available at all times.
I try to think about the amount of lunches/dinners we'll be having at home, as well as school and work lunches, meals and snacks. Since doing my first whole30 I try to limit the processed food we eat and usually reserve those options for the weekend, as a treat.
We've always been used to eating mostly healthy food, cooked at home and with wholesome ingredients. Cooking was always something that was part of my life, growing up, and I've always loved to do it, either by helping my mom out when I was a kid or doing it now for my family. My kids also love to help around the kitchen and my son, Mr. J, keeps telling my that he wants to be a Chef when he grows up! Lets see if we can make the spark last and keep the kids more and more excited about food and making healthy choices.
When meal planning and prepping for your family there are some main points that you should have written down. I've writing this blog post about meal prep and I always go back to the basics when I start my plan:
What do I need to know in order to build by meal plan for the week:
After getting this essential information you must also think about the order in which your meals and food will be eaten. Some of the things that might get spoiled easily must be eaten first, as well as raw leafy greens, like arugula and spinach. I always prep my raw veggies for the week and keep them in airtight containers and they last throughout the whole week.
I just got an amazing set of clear glass food storage containers and I absolutely love them! I will be needing to buy some more of the bigger sizes and one of the reasons I love them so much is because I can see exactly what each container holds without having to open or move it! That way I don't forget about eating something that's in a colored plastic container, hidden from plain sight!
I wrote this blog post throughout the week and, at the end of the post, I'll be able to tell you exactly how many meals I got with this specific meal prep. I'll also be creating a shopping list for it and I'll be giving the option of getting some more information on my meal prep and new recipes by entering your email on the box by the end of the post so you can get all this amazing information in your inbox!
Let's move on and get into the delicious details of my family's weekday meals!
Every week I try to cook up, at least, a batch of soup. It's an excellent way to get some more vegetables in your diet because when I say soup I don't mean "hamburger soup" or "tortilla soup" but a vegetable based soup. This is also great to control the amount of food you eat because if you're having a plate of healthy and satiating soup before your main dish you'll probably be able to eat a bit less of your main dish and, this way, control the amount of food you eat in one sitting.
This week I was missing this amazing roasted tomato soup and I decided to cook up a batch that was enough to fill two tall plastic containers - I'm still midway through changing all of my food containers to glass!
I love tomato soup but I'm not a fan of a heavy version of it (with added cream) and this light but super flavorful version is just perfect! I gave up dairy since completing my whole30 and I really don't need it. The prolonged cooking process of this soup (roasting, simmering and simmering again after blending it) gives it a creamy texture and an amazing deep flavor.
I also cooked up a batch of carrot soup with fresh watercress. I made a basic vegetable soup base with carrots, onion, garlic and zucchini, blended it with my immersion blender after cooking the vegetables in bone broth for approximately 20 minutes and then added the watercress and cooked for an additional 10 minutes on low heat.
Making vegetable soup is so easy and simple and it is a great way to enrich your daily diet. Give it a try and mix your favorite veggies and get eating some delicious and comforting soups to go with the colder weather that is getting closer and closer by the day! For the colder days try this super yummy Onion soup or this hearty meatball soup that is a whole meal by itself...I love soup season!
I always like to have fresh raw veggies to have as a snack, both for me and for the kids. The notion that a snack doesn't need to come in a package is something that I've been trying to pass on to my children. Of course they eat those snacks too but I always try to make them like a weekend treat event and not a daily eating habit.
Fresh veggies are great for kids and come in so many colors that helps us build colorful and beautiful lunches that are healthy but super tasty too. Either by themselves or with some hummus or good quality ranch dip I always send two or three different kinds of veggies in the lunchboxes - I try to ask the kids if there's a preference for the next day because kids' tastes are ever changing, right?!
This week we chose celery, bell peppers, carrots, radishes, green beans and cucumber. We usually have grape tomatoes too, but this week our farmers market didn't have a good batch so we passed on those. All I have to do is wash the veggies (except the carrot which I peel), pat them dry with a "unpaper towel" (I love these ones, from Marley's Monsters and they're my secret to having gone down to 1 roll of paper towels every couple of months!) and cut them up. I store them in glass or plastic containers and they really last all week long -- the celery and carrot hold pretty good even longer.
These veggies are an essential component of the kids' lunchboxes and they're also great for a quick snack, which some hummus or cheese. Pick your favorites and include them in your weekly meal prep to make your snack time easier and quicker.
There are so many vegetables available all year long that there's no shortage of cooked veggies for our weekly menus! I love roasted and grilled veggies and this week I chose roasted acorn squash and sweet potato, grilled eggplant, boiled mini corn on the cob (great for dinner and paired with a cup of soup!), sauteed garlic kale, roasted mushrooms with thyme and garlic and boiled mixed veggies.
The mixed veggies is something that I always like to have in my freezer because they make those quick lunches doable and super easy! Mixed with a hard boiled egg and 1/2 a can of tuna they make up for a satisfying and nourishing lunch, both for kids and adults.
I also grilled some asparagus (simply seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder) and roasted a whole cauliflower, cut up in medium pieces and seasoned with curry powder and turmeric, which is a great anti inflammatory .
In the big glass square container there's a whole spiralized zucchini. This is a pretty expensive item to get at the supermarket, if you buy it already spiralized but it's so cheap and easy to make it at home that it really is a pretty good investment to get your own spiralizer and do it yourself. A lot of vegetables can be spiralized, like butternut squash, carrots, beets and turnip.
I use one pretty similar to this one and this even offers more blade variety so you can get different shaped veggies!
Cooked extra sides
Besides the vegetables I also cooked some quinoa and white rice to go with the prottein sources and the veggies. I also ended up coking up a batch of smashed potatoes and the kids absolutely loved it, I'll be cooking those up again a lot during the winter time!
This an extremely easy recipe for potatoes and all you have to do is boil the potatoes in salted water and after straining all the water out just lay all the potatoes in a baking tray lined with parchment paper. With a potato masher squash each potato until it gives in and spray the potatoes with some olive oil. Put the potatoes under the broiler for about 10 minutes or until you see they're getting crunchy and golden - keep an eye on them because the broiler can be really fast doing its work!
Cooked protein sources
One thing that you'll always see on my weekly meal prep is hard boiled eggs! It's such a great and portable source of protein and it's great to incorporate in almost every meal or to have as a snack - I usually cook up half a dozen and by the following day they're almost gone! Tuna or chicken salad with a hard boiled egg is usually one of the meals on repeat for the kids' lunchboxes because it's pretty easy to put up in the morning and everyone loves it.
I also cooked up a smoked kielbasa sausage, basically just pan searing it, with no added fat. It's also a great option to add to any plate with veggies and rice, for example. The chicken breasts I grilled were enough to make a batch of chicken fried rice and are also a perfect meal to heat up in the microwave during the week or to send in thermos containers to school or lunch.
I was in the mood for cooking some comforting meals and a medium batch of ground beef with tomato sauce was the perfect solution for that - it goes great with the smashed potatoes, over some spiralized zucchini or with the plain white rice or quinoa. As I've mentioned before I'm totally focused on keeping "food boredom" away and that's why I'm always trying to build up different meals with my meal prep items - I'm not one to eat the same meal 3 days in a row but if I have the opportunity to use the same protein base and mix it with different veggies and sides that makes it perfect!
This week the kids were asking for hot dogs so I changed it a bit and baked some pigs in blankets with some store bought refrigerated dough. Paired with a bowl of soup this make up for a great dinner and I also love to send them for lunch, with some raw veggies and fresh fruit.
How many servings/meals did we get from this meal prep?
After all of this you must be asking yourself this really important question:
How many meals did this weekly meal prep rendered?!
So you can have a very accurate idea of how many meals/servings I got out of each item on this meal prep I'll give you a full description of what we had and how we paired our main and side dishes:
As you can see we had a total of 22 meals and 14 servings of soup for the whole week, which was great for a 4,5 h meal prep work. This is one of the reasons I stick to this routine - there have been weeks when I wasn't able to meal prep and the result was a chaotic week with stress mornings prepping lunches and a lot of cooking during the weekdays which is something that I try to avoid!
I know that it might sound daunting prepping for that long in a day but, trust me, it is totally worth it!
This is an amazing way to make sure that you and your whole family have healthy and balanced meals and snacks at all time! Whenever you feel like eating something you'll be able to open the fridge and take something out that is good for you and quick to pick up.
To make this meal prep easier for you I've listed all the items used on this meal prep. If you wish to receive an email with the full list just fill out the form below with your name and email address and you'll get everything delivered to your inbox. The full grocery list needed and, as a bonus, for those of you that enter the email address I'll also be putting up a document with most of the recipes I used on this 4,5 h meal prep, so you can give it a try and test them with your family! Those will be sent separately and, probably, during the next week.
Once again I hope that this blog post is somewhat of an incentive to get you on the "meal prep train" and to also help you with some healthy and quick meal options for the whole family. I'll be publishing some more weekly meal prep posts and also weekly menus with different recipes so you can choose from a wider variety of meals and ingredients.
My whole30 journey was what triggered me to start doing this and it is something that I always try to pass on to my friends and family - eating healthy everyday is possible, it just needs time, organization and prep time!
What better way is there to welcome Fall then cooking up a hearty meal with pork chops and apples! It's a winning combination and with premium quality meat it just gets loads of extra points for flavor and tenderness of the meat!
I've recently got my first Butcher Box and I'm totally devoted to telling all about it to my friends and followers. Having a busy life is no longer an excuse for not getting high quality meat! With the Butcher Box subscription service you can get a box of 100% grass-fed, grass finished beef, heritage breed pork and free range organic chicken delivered to your doorstep every month or every other month, whatever option fits your family the best.
You can personalize your box and mix your favorite cuts of meat in order to fit it to your household and you can always choose some add on's like no-sugar bacon, which has been a staple at our house since I've done my first whole 30 program. I truly recommend this because with our busy schedule it can be hard to have the time to go to the butcher and buy great quality cuts of meat - with this service you are sure to get what you order and, if you're a meal planner like me, it just makes our life so much easier!
You know what cuts of meat you're getting so you can plan ahead and write down your meals for the week; apart from that you'll just need to make your produce list and make a run to the farmers market or your local supermarket to get the rest of your ingredients for the week's menu.
It'll come out at approximately $6/serving which is a great value for such high quality meat and, as you can see in my video that I'm sharing in the link below, the steaks are huge as are the pork chops, so you'll get a few meals out of those cuts! Also, the chicken breast comes in 3 pre-portioned packs so you can use them independently and cook them on your meal prep in different ways so you can have different options to choose from during the week. You can cook up some chicken soup with one of the packages and grill some strips for the week's lunches and lunchboxes and still be left with a package left!
On my first order, that I shared in this video, I got:
If you're interested in giving it a try and signing up to get to know a bit more about Butcher Box, just click here and, if you subscribe the service until the end of September, through my link, you'll get FREE ground beef for life!
How cool is that?
With this offer you'll get, with each box that gets delivered at your house, 2 lbs of 100% grass-fed and grass-finished ground beef for free! Just imagine the variety of meals you can cook up with ground beef, specially in the colder months: soups, chili, meatloaf, lasagna...so many options! So, don't waste a minute and click on the link above to get your offer but don't forget that you only have until September 30th to do it!
As soon as you get your first box you can try this recipe for yourself! Grab your Butcher Box now and start meal planning for the next month!
4 boneless pork chops (I used the "Butcher Box" heritage breed pork chops)
4 big white potatoes
1 small butternut squash (about 1+1/2 cup)
1 lbs Brussels sprouts
3 large Gala apples
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp smoked paprika
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
a few sage leaves for the pork
1 - Preheat the oven at 400 F.
2 - Prepare the vegetables to use them cover the baking sheet. Wash the potatoes and cut them in chunks, peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds and cute it in small pieces. Wash the Brussels sprouts , remove any damaged leaves and cut them in half or in quarters if they're too large. Try to have all the vegetables in same size pieces so they'll cook evenly.
3 - Place all the vegetables in a big mixing bowl and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and fresh thyme. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and mix everything in order to get a bit of it in all the vegetables; if necessary add some more. Add half of the paprika and give everything a last toss before transferring the vegetables to the baking sheet, previously brushed with olive oil.
4 - Wash the apples and cut them in fourths. Take out the core and seeds and slice them, keeping them in a bowl of water with lemon juice until placing them on the baking sheet, so they won't oxidize and turn brown. When the vegetables are on the baking sheet place the apple slices around the tray and between the vegetables, after removing them from the lemon water.
5 - Place the pork chops in a glass container or bowl and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and thyme leaves. Add a bit of olive oil and the juice of 2 clementines and 1/2 lemon.
6 - Place the meat over the vegetables and cover it with any remaining juice. This will help the pork chops to cook without making them dry and keeping them juicy and with a lemon/orange hint flavor. Place some sage leaves on top of the pork chops and place the baking sheet in the oven. Cook for about 25 minutes or until the meat is cooked.
7 - For plating just take a bit of everything and slice the pork chops in medium slices. the ones I used were big, so 1 was enough for 2 people. Get the vegetables on the bottom of the plate, cover with the pork chop and sprinkle some freshly chopped cilantro for a hint of green. Use any remaining juices to drizzle over the meat.
This was the perfect recipe to welcome Fall of 2018! The roasted veggies, the flavorful and tender meat, the apples and the sage were a superb combination of warm and cozy flavors.
There's so much simplicity in sheet-pan meals that they really are one of my go-to's for busy schooldays - getting all the ingredients together and popping everything in the oven while everyone gets settled from school and sports activities is perfect!
No weeknight dinner stress and mommy gets a load of compliments on the healthy and hearty meals cooked for the whole family.
Just to give you a notion of the number of meals I got from this sheet pan dinner, it was enough for one meal for all of us, another for my lunch the next day and I still got three more individual servings out of it. All in all, 7 servings which was pretty good for the price that I payed for all the ingredients. That is one of the other reasons why I love sheet-pan dinners so much, they really stretch the food out!
Give it a try and let me know what you think of this recipe!
Happy Fall everybody!
The weather has been changing around here and the cooler days had me craving a warm and cozy bowl of rice and beans! On a rainy day what can be better than sitting on the couch with a warm meal made from wholesome and natural ingredients?
Most of the times I find simple recipes to be the best ones - they are so effortless but yet so rich and tasty! Another thing that makes me life easier during the week, and specially on the colder months, is my Instant Pot. I love it and use it all the time to steam vegetables, cook up a batch of soup or make delicious stews and dishes like this one.
Some people have been asking me about my Whole30 experience and if I'm still eating the same way now. I'm not - however, I've changed my relationship with food, which was one of my main goals by doing it as well as finding trigger foods for my chronic migraines.
I don't use food as an emotional backup and I can perfectly control what I eat without feeling pressured or deprived: I eat what I feel like eating and the only thing that still is somewhat forbidden to me are chips...I seem to have to eat them if I have them around, so the trick is NOT to have them around, it's as simple as that! It is not only because I feel like I can eat a lot of chips at once but also the fact that, after eating them, I don't feel that well and that is enough of a reminder that they are not good for me and so, I should stay away from them!
And now, the recipe for this scrumptious and simple meal.
1 pack of spicy sausages
1 cup basmati brown rice
2 large carrots
3 celery stalks
1 small can of red beans
4 cups + 1/2 cup bone broth (I used the "Osso Good Bones" classic variety)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp Primal Palate Jerk Seasoning
freshly chopped parsley
organic fresh spinach leaves
1 - Start by peeling the carrots and chopping them into bite size pieces. Wash and cut the celery stalks into small pieced and add these vegetables to the stainless steel pot, from the Instant Pot.
2 - Add the basmati brown rice and about 1/2 chopped parsley to the pot and season with the spices, salt and pepper.
3 - Cover all the ingredients with the bone broth and give them a stir to get everything well combined.
4 - Put the cover on the pot and seal it until you hear the lock sound. Place the vent attachment in the cooking position and set the Instant Pot on the Rice mode for 15 minutes.
5 - While the rice is cooking cut the sausage into medium sized pieces and saute in a non-stick pan. I didn't use any fat because the sausage has enough fat that gets released during the cooking process.
6 - After the "Rice" program has ended use the quick release method to release all the pressure from the inside of the pot and when the valve drops it is safe for you to open the lid. Open and check that the rice is cooked; if it needs a bit more time to cook just close the lid again and let the rice sit for another 5 minutes, it should be enough to get it a bit softer.
7 - Serve up this comforting dish in a bowl and add some extra veggies if you like! In my bowl, I placed a handful of fresh baby spinach - when I placed the rice and beans on top of it the heat from the rice was enough to get the spinach a bit cooked but leaving it still with a bit of a crunch, which I particularly love! Sprinkle with some fresh chopped parsley for a fresh touch and an aromatic finish which goes perfectly well with the warm spicy sausage.
After getting my rice cooked I, immediately, transferred it to a large skillet to prevent it from overcooking with the residual heat from the Instant Pot. As for the amount of food cooked on this meal, it was enough for 7 individual portions which was great for such a simple and economic dish.
That is one of the major advantages of using rice as base for a meal - it does stretch the meals and 1 cup of rice goes a long way!
This is a very nourishing meal and you can use your favorite veggies or sausages to adjust it to your family's preferences. If you'd like just keep it vegetarian, adding bell peppers or butternut squash, for example. I'me acostumed to brown rice and it's the only kind I eat now, after my Whole30 - apparently I'm getting the whole family on board which is, definitely, another WIN for this mommy!
If there's something that makes me happy during the school year mornings is knowing that I have the kids' lunches ready to go and filled with good and healthy food! I need my time in the morning...to wake up, have my breakfast and drink my coffee without rushing or running around getting everyone and everything ready in time for school.
I always wake up way earlier than I really need just to make sure that I get some morning time for myself. I don't do chaos - I hate hectic mornings which usually give me a headache and a bad day, overall. I rather wake up earlier and be able to have a scheduled routine with everything prepared. This doesn't mean that the lunchbox is completely packed and ready to go, it may only need some finishing touches, I'd say 5-10 minutes to get them filled and complete to go into the lunch bags and then everyone gets breakfast before heading out the door.
The only way to make this happen is to meal prep on Sunday. We can go around this issue and try to figure out other ways to make it work but it really is the only way to do it...honestly, I'd rather take a couple of hours on Sunday than put that stress on me on the weekdays.
It's more than worth it!
My husband usually takes his lunch to work too, so I have three lunches to make for the day. As for me I always make sure to cook something extra and loads of veggies that I can always pair with some cooked protein from the previous night's dinner or I can just have a vegan bowl which has been happening a lot lately!
Basics on lunchbox meals
I've always made a single meal for all of us, since the kids started eating "regular food". Cooking two different meals just didn't seem right, or possible, and I believe it is the best way to expose children to different foods and ingredients. They won't like everything we give them but they will start to get used to a diversified diet and that will help them to keep being curious about food.
I never get angry at them if they don't like something, which rarely happens. My 10 year old son loves to eat so there's no problem there! My 7 year old daughter is a bit different...she usually doesn't like spicy food, a lot of fresh herbs on her food or new things, in general. I usually have a couple of veggie options for lunch/dinner so there's always something for everyone.
This might seem a lot of work, having two veggie options at every meal but with meal prep Sunday things get way more easy and manageable. As you know, since I did my whole30 I've maintained the habit of meal prepping which allows for a smoother meal routine.
The basics for lunchbox meal prep are basically the same as for the regular meal prep:
1. First go over your fridge and pantry to make sure that you don't have fresh produce that might be about to go bad, in order to incorporate it on your meal prep. I usually do this on Friday night or Saturday morning and I use whatever I got leftover from the week to cook our weekend meals.
2. The second thing will be making a list of your kids' favorites - write down a list of proteins, veggies, fruit, grains and snacks. After this first time all you have to do at the beginning of each week is go back to this list and match some perfect pairings to have the weekly lunchbox menu done. After that week try to switch the meals to a different day of the following week and change the sides so that you can always give them something different. Kids get bored easily!
3. After having that list done go back to your pantry to check what you've got and what you'll be needing to shop for the week. Make your shopping list and remember to stick to it when you're at the grocery store! A great trick to save you time is to try and make some family meals from a meal that they like, this way you can prep their lunch and a weeknight family meal at the same time just by doubling the recipe!
4. Check what lunchboxes are still good from the previous year or if someone needs a upgrade! Older kids need more food and younger kids might eat a bit less so try to consider that when choosing your lunchbox. This year I took the leap and got my 10 year old son a PlanetBox Rover lunchbox - I can't wait for him to start using it! I've heard wonders about this product and I can't wait to try it out. They are expensive but very durable and spacious. I'll leave the links for the lunchboxes so you can choose which one will suit your needs the best.
I always find Amazon to be the best site to look through and compare different products because it also allows you to read the reviews written by other people that have already bought the item you're thinking of buying. That is an extremely tool for me and I always find the information that I'm looking for! The Rover PlanetBox can be found here:
For my 7 year old daughter I have the Yumbox that she totally adores! The different compartments with the drawings and writings are perfect for kids and make them even more excited about lunchtime! Find it on Amazon:
For me and my husband I have a BentoGo which works perfectly for carrying the meal and the fruit/salad in the adjacent compartment: the size is good and the lunchbox is pretty functional and pretty. The fact that the fork, spoon and knife fit inside the containers is also pretty neat and useful.
5. Check if you have adequate containers to do your meal prep. The amount and the type of container is also important - I've decided to switch to glass storage containers since I've become interested in a greener way of life. Also, besides the good option of ditching the plastic I was shocked about the amount of bacteria and other harmful stuff that can get stuck in plastic containers! No wonder we can't wash them properly...even when we think we do there's always something left there due to the porosity of the plastic itself! So, just check if you need to buy some containers and head on to the next step!
6. Do your shopping trip, preferably alone! This way you can be sure to get JUST what was on your list and not another toy, snack or candy that wasn't there...we've all been there, haven't we?! Don't forget to also shop for snacks - I'll be also making a post about healthy school snack options. It's extremely important in what regards snacks to make sure that your kids' school has a "safe school snack list" to make sure that you don't send anything that they might not be able to eat.
7. Now that you have everything you need to make your lunches for the week, just get prepping! Wash and cut the fruit and veggies yourself because buying them pre-cut is way more expensive and, most of the times, you don't even know how long the produce has been in that container...also, less plastic, less waste!
I've placed below two pictures from my fruit and veggies meal prep. Having this items already washed and ready to place in the lunchboxes is a life saving hack! I can't stress enough how this is the foundation of a smooth week in what comes to packing lunches for kids and adults! To be able to take and go anything from these containers makes a huge difference and it shows us that preparation leads to a healthy lifestyle and good choices. EVERY, SINGLE, DAY.
This veggies are some of the staples at our house. Both the kids love them so we always go around rotating them throughout the week. Whatever I see that's being leftover I usually try to incorporate in our dinner meals to make sure that nothing goes to waste. The only thing missing is the cherry tomatoes that I forget to buy on Sunday and had to rush and pick up on Monday morning.
For example, this week I saw that the carrots weren't getting as much love as the other veggies so I decided to throw them in the soup pot and make a creamy carrot soup with lentils, turmeric and spinach, which is a leafy veggie that I always have frozen to use in a situation like this. Who doesn't like a creamy, rich and delicious soup?!
It's always a matter of choosing your family's favorites and try to incorporate them in the daily meals in a fun and different way. As I've already mentioned kids get bored really fast!
So, put up a list and just start trying out the meal prep game, I assure you it will be something that will stick with you for good!
I've also written this blog post about meal prep when I was doing my whole30, so be sure to check it out too because it has really great tips for a weekly meal prep for the whole family. I assure you that, at first, it may seem a bit daunting, it also did feel that way to me, but now I can not live without it and it's what makes me feel in control of my family's meals and good choices!
A week of healthy school lunches
Now that you have the basics for planning your kids' school lunches lets get to work and build those satisfying and healthy meals that will nourish them and put a smile on their face whenever the time comes for them to open the lunchbox at the school cafeteria!
We must remember something here. It's the beginning of the school year and we're all excited for school to start - kids are eager to get together with their friends, learn new things or get to know a new school and a new daily routine and the parents are off to their regular dairy routines too. At first we're all going to be able to get those sandwiches really pretty with those cutter we just bought from Amazon but by December we may feel like this is too much and that's OK! Just keep prepping and making sure that what's in the lunchbox is healthy and it's something that the kids like, none of us is perfect and a regular sandwich is totally fine! Don't put too much stress on you or everything will become harder and stressful. All you need is some time over to weekend to plan and, knowing the time you have available to get the lunches finished in the morning, just use what you have and the time you have to make it work.
These are some ideas from lunches that my kids like. Some of them have something that my daughter likes the most and some of them are my son's favorites. I hope they inspire you to build your own weekly lunchbox menus and, if you need any help, feel free to email me with your questions and I'll make sure to try to get back to you as soon as possible.
Lunchbox 1 - Ham wrap and fresh veggies and fruit
Take the fresh fruit and veggies from your pre-cut essentials that you have from Sunday meal prep and add some chopped walnuts (or any other nut that your kid may like) for healthy fat and all you have to do is make the wrap which you can prepare the night before and keep it in the fridge until putting it on the lunchbox in the morning!
I chose cherries and green seedless grapes to have some more color which is something that always gets the kids' attention. Trying to make things appealing really does pay off and encourages them to eat what they think is pretty and exciting!
I smeared some avocado mayo on a wrap and added some romaine lettuce leaves, carrots sticks and 3 slices of oven roasted ham. Rolled it up, holding everything very tightly and sliced it so I could fit everything in the lunchbox. If you prepare the wrap the night before, keep it in a sealed container and you just need to slice it in the morning.
I think these lunchbox cards are just adorable! There are a lot of printable options too, if you look them up online. It's something that I love to send to school everyday so that the kids feel like their lunch really is important to me and that I care that they like what I prepare for them. The kit I got is super cute, gender neutral and has a super price as of now - get it while you can!
That's it! Easy and peasy - one lunch down, four more to go!
Tuesday - Grilled shrimp with sticky rice balls
Don't go thinking around that I cooked the shrimps specially for the lunchbox! That would be going overboard, indeed!
We had them grilled the night before and I added some extra so I could have some leftover for the kids' lunches! That's something that I always think about - what protein can I cook extra the night before to incorporate in the lunchboxes for the next day. That's way prepping is SO important!
The fruit and veggies are from the meal prep containers that are sitting in the fridge just waiting for me to pick them up when I'm assembling the lunches. This time I chose fresh cucumber slices, carrot sticks, black olives, diced pineapple and blueberries.
The sticky rice balls were a new experiment and it worked out really well and both the kids loved them! I prepared the sushi rice according to the instructions on the package and then transferred the cooked rice to a glass bowl. When the rice was still warm but manageable by hand I used a table spoon measure to scoop out a rice ball and, with my hands slightly wet I molded the rice just a little bit. I placed the balls on a tray and after finishing them all I placed them in an air tight container and kept them in the fridge. These sticky rice balls are perfect for lunchbox lunches because the kids can just hold them by hand and eat them with no need for forks or any other utensil. Also, they are really cute!
I sprinkled some sesame seeds on some of the balls and I'll be sure to look for black sesame seeds for some color, that should be fun! The little toothpicks are perfect for holding small foods and I'm sure I wouldn't mind having some for myself. Even though I'm an adult I sometimes find myself looking for those cute animal picks to have some blueberries too!
Wednesday - Meatballs with pasta, green beans and mushrooms
The other day I decided to make some meatballs using the Mighty Spark Food ground bruschetta mix. I love this brand because it has the most delicious and creative meat products I've ever seen and I haven't tried one that I haven't liked!
With 2 lbs of ground meat I did a batch of meatballs which I separated in two portions - I froze one of the portions for quick weeknight dinners and I cooked the rest of the meatballs to have during this week. I was even able to get two hamburger patties out of this amount of meat and I decided to freeze them in my Tupperware container that I used for my "Salmon cakes two ways" that you can find here.
For this lunch I sauteed some mushrooms in olive oil and seasoned them with salt, pepper and fresh thyme. I had some leftover cooked pasta and I added some cooked green beans - to make sure that the pasta wouldn't become sticky in the container I decided to give it a toss in a pan adding just a bit of olive oil.
After everything was cooked it was just a matter of assembling everything in the little lunchbox compartments. I also added some tomato sauce as a dip for the meatballs, fresh carrots and some black olives. Honeydew melon was already cut up so I just added that too.
Thursday - Black eyed pea tuna salad with a hard boiled egg
My son LOVES this salad! Although this is my daughter's lunchbox I'm using some favorites from both of them so I can give you a better notion about the meals we eat as a family. It's such a simple recipe and it keeps pretty well in the fridge for 3-4 days, just make sure to season it when you're serving it and not before.
I used one can of tuna and that was enough for four portions of salad, which is pretty good! In a large bowl I added the tuna, a can of black eyed peas, some freshly chopped parsley and diced peppers (I used a mix of orange and red to keep it colorful).
At the time of serving or putting the salad in the lunchbox add a bit of olive oil and salt. I added extra protein with a hard boiled egg and also kept the salad theme with some romaine lettuce leaves, cherry tomatoes, black olives and fresh cucumber. I used a cutter to get that fish shape and it just took me a couple of minutes, using the already sliced cucumber that I had in the fridge.
For fruit today we chose two clementines.
Friday - Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with veggie chips
The last lunch of the week was more a mainstream one! The kids weren't used to having sandwiches for lunch back in Portugal but now they like to have them for lunch, once in a while. Today I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with some whole grain seeded bread and used a puzzle shaped cutter to cut out little pieces of the sandwich. I really have to get the accessory sandwich tray for this yumbox because it is way more spacious to fit a whole sandwich than this one!
I added some veggies chips from this brand that we like. I always look at the ingredient list and try to choose a snack option that represents "the less of two evils"! I limit the processed food my kids have in a week but they need to have some chips that they can have and as long as we take note of what is eaten and in what amounts, I think it is perfectly fine. A balanced diet is the final goal, not total deprivation!
I'll be working on a blog post about snacks that I buy for my family and what options you have if you're looking to get your kids on a healthier lifestyle. It's good to have, at least 4-5 options from which they can choose what to have in their lunch.
For veggies today I added fresh celery sticks with ranch dressing. That's another important issue - choosing dressings that are made with all natural ingredients and no added sugar, so that we and our children can enjoy them without not only the guilt but also the unhealthy consequences. I like the Tessamaes "Organic Creamy Ranch" which I buy maybe 2 bottles a year. We don't use much as you can tell but the kids like to dip their veggies on it, once in a while.
For fruit we had green seedless grapes and also some mixed nuts.
I hope you liked my suggestions and that this post was an inspiration to get some freshness and healthy ideas in your kids' lunches and yours too! I would love to get some feedback from all you moms and dads out there that struggle with packing lunches for school:
What information do you need to get your packing routine smoother?
Would you like to see more of our weekly menus?
What about a shopping list with all the ingredients needed for this or other week of school lunches?
Let me know about your ideas and questions in the comments below or send me an email with all this questions! I can't wait to read them and find out all about your needs so I can try to help you through some very simple and easy tips that we can all do in our homes to make our children eat better but without too much stress!
Summer break is here and I've been struggling with adjusting to our new routine!
Well. the issue is that there is not an actual routine, which I must have to get some order in my daily life - the kids are having summer camp in alternate weeks so I'm with one of them all the time and the pressure of feeling like I have to get them out of the house for outdoor activities or other interesting things to do, instead of giving into TV and Ipad time is high!
I also have to teach them how to figure things by themselves and try to occupy their own time without needing me all the time. Adding to this a lot of home chores, recipes on hold, reviews to write down and organizing our trip back to Portugal by the beginning of August...well, I'm just a mess all around.
I know things will get better and summer really is a hard season for me. The constant reminder that I have to be perfect and that the house has to always look good, the cloths ironed and the kids well fed takes a toll on me and I'm trying to find a way to keep it all together.
We all have bad days or weeks, it's just a matter of pushing through and trying to do the best we can.
After all, we're just humans.
Another thing that I've been struggling with, due to everything I've mentioned before, is creativity in the kitchen. I'm always trying to think of new dishes to cook and make them a bit more elaborate than everyday cooking looks like. To tell you the truth, I'm realizing that food doesn't have to be over complicated, it just has to be good, delicious and nutritious.
Most of the times I think about putting some ingredients together in the most simple way, with basic condiments and spices and, if it works out it really is a great idea to publish it on the blog because, sometimes, people just need to get an idea of foods that go well together - specially in the summer, no one want to spend hours cooking a meal, right?
We simply want to enjoy good food and spend time with family and friends, so choosing easy and quick meals is the right way to go!
I've been sticking to a mainly whole foods diet and I'm looking into plant based diet too. I don't think I'll ever give up fish, meat and eggs completely but I'm seriously considering lowering down my animal protein consumption. I already try to have 2 plant-based days a week and it has been a great experience - I feel amazing and healthier than ever! I'm also educating myself and learning more and more about nutrition because there's nothing like getting information from clinical studies and educated people that have been studying the subject for decades. I'm currently devouring "The China Study", by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and his son Thomas M. Campbell II, MD. I'm trully enjoying this learning experience.
So, yesterday I decided to cook up a delicious lunch bowl. I just opened the fridge, took a look at what I had in there and put this super yummy and nutritious lunch bowl together in just about half an hour. It rendered my about 4 meals which was pretty good for the amount of time I spent cooking.
I decided to keep every cooked ingredient in a separate container because, I could combine it with different sides I had already cooked. That way I'll change up a bit my bowl every time I pick something from the containers!
As you know I hat food boredom!
I opted for spiralizing the butternut squash at home but you can buy it already spiralized it at the supermarket. It's more expensive to buy it already prepped but if you need convenience it's, obviously, the way to go.
1/2 a whole butternut squash
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper and garlic powder
2 Tbsp freshly chopped basil leaves
3 Tbsp "The new primal" spicy marinade/cooking sauce
1 bunch kale
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup pepitas
1 Pederson's Farms no-sugar added smoked Kielbasa
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 - Start by trimming the kale, chopping it roughly and washing it thoroughly. Reserve.
2 - Spiralize the butternut squash, which can be a bit of a hard task if you got a big one, like I did! You've got to cut the end of and peel the long part of the squash, which is the one that you'll be spiralizing, with a vegetable peeler. Reserve the remaining squash and dice it, store in a freezing bag and freeze to use in a different recipe.
3 - In a non-stick pan cook the sliced Kielbasa, in a Tbsp of olive oil, until it starts to get a brownish color. It's delicious when it starts to kind of caramelize, which is not the case because it doesn't have any sugar in it, but it's delicious!
4 - Reserve the cooked sausage and add the kale to the same pan to just toss it in the remaining fat. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and keep moving the kale around so it doesn't get overcooked. When the kale turns a dark green color add the pine nuts and pepitas and give it a final toss. Reserve the kale mix in a glass container.
5 - Add the second Tbsp of olive oil to the pan and cook the squash noodles. These will take about 7-8 minutes to get cooked in medium to high heat. Keep stiring them once in a while and when they start getting cooked add the cooking sauce/marinade. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, add the chopped basil and reserve.
6 - All the ingredients are cooked and you just need to assemble your lunch bowl.
7 - In a large bowl add some of the butternut squash noodles to form a base. Add some of the kale and pine nut mix and some sausage slices. Add some extra pine nuts on top and some fresh blueberries for a burst of antioxidant goodness.
This is a great option to include on your weekly meal prep. Also, cook additional protein sources and veggies so you can build lots of different bowls throughout the week - having it all prepped and cooked on a Sunday night will, surely, make up for a stress free cooking week!
Just assemble your plate and bowl every time you need a meal and enjoy the different flavor combos - also, add some more fresh herbs to spruce up those flavors! Nothing like the scent of fresh herbs on a hot and delicious plate of food!
I love salads and they really are my first choice for warm weather meals. This was my first attempt at a chicken salad with mayo since I usually don't use it and prefer simpler seasonings. I had gotten a Primal Kitchen avocado mayo to try out so I decided to use it and it really came out perfectly balanced and not overpowering, as I thought it would be with regular mayo.
I chose Boston living lettuce leaves because they are big and sturdy enough to hold the salad, in case you really want to ditch the fork and eat it like a taco! It's a pretty portable meal either way - carry it in a glass container and enjoy a fresh burst of flavors and textures either eating with a fork or getting adventurous and grabbing your lettuce taco by hand!
This was done as a Whole30 meal, hence the brand of marinade I used, but you can always choose another brand or make your own marinade if you're not following this specific food elimination program. Either way this step of marinating the meat you'll make for a super tasty chicken that will, in itself, elevate this simple chicken salad to the next level. There is nothing worse than plain, boring chicken breast meat, right?!
I hope you get to try this because it is delicious, simple and easy to make. It's a perfect meal for summer days and if you choose to carry it out don't forget to pack some ice packs around your container to make sure that everything stays safe on warm weather days.
The textures and falvors go perfectly together and the crunchiness from the celery is the perfect complement for the creamy mayo and the sweet grapes.
What a perfect flavor/texture combo!
Write down your grocery shopping list and get this recipe on this week's menu for the whole family!
Boston living lettuce leaves (trimmed and thoroughly washed)
1 lb chicken breast
1/3 bottle of "The Primal Kitchen" classic marinade or cooking sauce
3 small celery sticks
1 tsp garlic powder
1 + 1/2 cup seedless grapes
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup Primal Kitchen avocado mayo (you can substitute for your favorite brand)
salt, pepper at taste
1 Tbsp olive oil (to cook the chicken)
1 - Start by marinating the chicken in "The New Primal Kitchen" classic marinade and cooking sauce. If you're using whole chicken breasts, like I did, cut them in smaller bite-sized portions and place them in a glass container, covering with the marinade so that the whole chicken gets covered. Close the lid and keep in the fridge for about 2 hours. Alternatively you can buy the chicken strips instead of the whole breast in order to save some time with the prepping.
2 - Grill the chicken in some olive oil, adding the rest of the marinade as you go. Reserve the cooked chicken in a bowl, letting it cool down completely in order to start making the salad. You can also do this two first steps a day ahead so you can have everything ready to go when you want to make your salad.
3 - Peel and shred the carrot, wash and roughly chop the celery, adding them to a big bowl where you're going to build your salad and mix all the ingredients. Add the cooled chicken pieces.
4 - Wash the seedless grapes, pat them dry and cut them in half. Add these to the salad bowl with the walnuts. Add the mayo to the bowl and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and freshly chopped dill. Mix everything together and taste it so you can see if you need to make any adjustments at this time.
5 - Platting - I love serving salads like this over lettuce leaves and I used Boston living lettuce because of its broad and large leaves which are perfect for this! Serve the salad on a plate, over the lettuce leaves.
I also prepared the rest of the salad in glass meal prep containers so I could have extra meals prepared and ready to grab and go. There's nothing like meal prep to make you feel prepared for a healthy and pretty good tasting week of meals!
In this particular case I ended up sharing my chicken salad with some friends.
I mean, it's one of the things that makes me feel better - to share what I cook with others and see their reaction. My love for food is closely tied too my love for sharing my passion for cooking and healthy habits so the best thing to do is to share!
This is an example of a very simple meal and, of course, you can always add some other ingredients that you fancy or use other seasonings. From the basic recipe build up your chicken salad and make a super refreshing meal to your whole family over this next week!