What I Ate Wednesday

I just realized Christmas is next week… um, December… where have you gone? Guess it’s time to start wrapping presents and making/eating all the cookies. Oh and watching Love Actually. While I’ll gladly watch that movie in the dead heat of the summer, watching Hugh Grant dance around his office is certainly more entertaining festive around Christmastime. 

One thing I am fully aware of is that it is What I Ate Wednesday. Party time people! Honestly sometimes I find it a bit strange other people care about what I eat (maybe they don’t), but this little link-up is certainly fun to participate in and can provide lots of inspiration for trying new things. So that’s my challenge to you: try something new this week!

Breakfast

Smoothie madness continues because nothing feels better to me than starting my day with a big glass of fruits and veggies. Lately I’ve been adding some Vega Sport protein powder to fill me up a little more after my morning workout. I love that it’s vegan — #plantpower. 

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Snack

Skinny Pop! Have you guys tried this stuff? It’s really amazing for bagged popcorn. I buy these small bags at Costco. They’re perfect for grabbing on the go and the ingredient list is nice and clean. 

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Lunch

Big Greek salad with mixed greens, farro, olives, artichoke hearts, cucumber and tomatoes. All topped with a lemon oregano dressing (recipe coming soon!). Side of apple, carrots/hummus (not pictured).

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Dinner

So simple, so tasty. A stuffed sweet potato with some Jack Daniel’s pulled chicken. Not as healthy as homemade, but freezer meals are good in a pinch and usually better than eating a whole meal out at a restaurant. 

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Snack

Cashews, peanuts, chocolate chips & shredded coconut. Thanks to my husband for making this delicious dessert/after dinner snack. Didn’t eat the whole bowl in one sitting, but saved some for later. 

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Speak up: what did you eat this week?

Parmesan Arugula Salad

Bittersweet. Peppery. Fresh. Green. These are a few of my favorite (arugula) things. 

parmesan arugula salad

For a long time, I was afraid of trying arugula as a salad base. The slightly bitter green was familiar to me on top of sandwiches and as a garnish, but as the star of a dish I wasn’t so sure. So I did what any normal person would do and ordered an arugula salad at a restaurant. It was bursting with flavor and fresh citrus fruits. At that point I knew there was no need to fear a plate full of arugula leaves. 

For my first at-home salad attempt I went easy… I mean super easy. So easy I’m not really sure I can call this a recipe. It’s more of a one bowl toss. Anyway, my thought behind creating this salad was that it would be the best sidekick your meals have ever seen. It will take seafood to the next level. It could accompany a slice of pizza. Or you could load it up with more veggies/lean protein and eat it up all on its own. 

Personally, I’ve enjoyed this salad with salmon and crab cakes, but would also be inclined to serve it as an appetizer salad at the beginning of a meal or along side a pizza pie. However you choose to eat it, I know you are going to love it. Plus arugula is a heartier green meaning this salad will survive overnight in the fridge. Hello leftovers!

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Parmesan Arugula Salad
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 5 oz baby arugula
  2. 2 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
For flavor & spice
  1. 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  2. salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Toss arugula with cheese and olive oil in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Fresh Simple Five http://www.freshsimplefive.com/

Black Bean Soup

Not sure if it’s the wintery weather, but I’m on a serious stew/soup/chili kick. There’s just something about sitting down to a steaming hot bowl of the stuff that makes me feel warm and comforted. Don’t you agree? The recipe I’m sharing today combines two of my favorite things, soup and black beans. Seriously, I could not live without black beans. They are nutritious (packed with fiber, protein, iron and magnesium) and delicious. 

Black Bean Soup 12.9.14

Only four ingredients are needed to make this savory, slightly spicy soup which means it’s perfect for whipping up on a weeknight. No long hours in the kitchen required. You could just as easily slip this soup into your weekend food preparations and reheat during the week. Oh and did I mention the toppings? Though not formally part of this recipe, don’t skimp on a little bit of cheese (I prefer cheddar) and a dollop of Greek yogurt to finish everything off. If you’ve never had Greek yogurt on top of soup or chili, prepare for your world to be rocked. 

black bean soup

Black Bean Soup
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 large onion
  2. 2 cloves garlic
  3. 1 jalapeño, chopped & seeded
  4. 2 cans low sodium black beans
for flavor & spice
  1. 1 tbsp olive oil
  2. 1 tsp cumin
  3. 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Cook onion until translucent, about 6-7 minutes.
  3. Add garlic & jalapeños. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Rinse black beans and add to pot along with 2 cups of water.
  5. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes or until thickened.
Notes
  1. Serve topped with cheddar cheese and Greek yogurt.
Adapted from Food & Wine
Adapted from Food & Wine
Fresh Simple Five http://www.freshsimplefive.com/

Speak up: Black beans — yay or nay? What’s your favorite kind of soup?

3 Step Slow Cooker Stew

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Some days I seriously think the slow cooker is the modern kitchen’s greatest invention. A chop, chop here,  a toss there, simply push a button and voilà — a few hours later you have a delicious meal. I mean could life get any better/easier?! Having a slow cooker is almost like have a personal chef who slaves over dinner while you’re gone and has a piping-hot plate sitting on the table when you get home… almost. 

These days I can’t help but make at least one thing in the slow cooker each week. Sundays are often times full of chopping veggies and yummy smells coming from the kitchen. The best part? Meals to enjoy throughout the week without hardly lifting a finger. As of late, one of my favorite go-to creations is stew which I love for a few reasons. One: it warms you up from the inside out and for someone who is forever freezing this is of the utmost importance. Two: the more veggies the better. Three: it pairs well with sourdough bread… enough said. 

In light of these three reasons, I wanted to share a simple step-by-step guide for creating your own stew at home because I don’t think anyone should live without it. It is truly easy and even the most novice chef can throw one together. There aren’t any real quantities/measurements for this guide, use your eyes to fill that slow cooker up. I usually fill ours (6 qt Crock Pot) up about 3/4 of the way and it makes about 4-6 servings. 

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Step 1: Veggies

Admittedly my favorite part of stew making is seeing how many veggies I can pack into it. I usually aim for about 3-5 different ones. Always on the list are potatoes, carrots, celery and onion. I’ve also used bell peppers, broccoli and corn before. Simply rinse, chop and toss in. 

Step 2: Protein

Add heartiness and staying power with protein. My go-to choices are beef and/or lentils. I think chicken or beans would work well here too. Last time I made it, I used a combo of 1 lb. beef stew meat (from Whole Foods) and about 1 cup of green lentils (uncooked).  

Step 3: Add Broth & Cook

Low sodium vegetable broth is my go-to stew liquid. I particularly enjoy Trader Joe’s brand. I pour the carton (about 2-3 cups) into the slow cooker and let it settle. I usually give everything a good stir and add a little bit of water to bring the liquid just level with the top of the ingredients. Toss in a few spices (salt, pepper, herbs), set to low and let simmer away for 5-6 hours on low. 

Enjoy your stew fresh that day or refrigerate for easy weekday meals!

Speak up: Do you like stew? What’s your favorite thing to make in the slow cooker?

What I Ate Wednesday #5

So let’s be real… whose pants felt a little too tight Monday morning after last week’s Thanksgiving festivities? Guilty as charged. And you know what? I’m totally cool with that. Following a healthy diet means enjoying the holidays and indulging in our favorite treats (in moderation, of course). Along with lots of turkey, stuffing and potatoes, I was lucky enough to sample a limited-release craft beer (Goose Island Bourbon County Stout), hangout at a German Christmas market with family and enjoy a meal at one of my favorite taco restaurants. All in all, I’d call the weekend a win.

Although, as you can imagine, come Monday I was ready to get back to my regular eating and exercise routine. Here’s what I cooked up for this week’s What I Ate Wednesday.

Breakfast

It’s all about that smoothie because who doesn’t feel better after drinking a big glass of fruits and veggies?!? This week’s breakfast smoothie brought to you by blueberries, celery, cucumber, spinach, Greek yogurt and a touch of OJ. Nom! I also ate some toast and an egg, but I gobbled that up too quickly to photograph.

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Lunch

Chickpeas are seriously underrated, don’t you think? Today’s lunch was Mediterranean-inspired and loaded with the aforementioned chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, feta cheese and loads of dill! Side of tzatziki sauce with a pita and an orange (don’t blink… you’ll miss it in the corner). After lunch, I munched on baby carrots throughout the afternoon. 

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Dinner

Slow cooker stew loaded with veggies, lentils and some beef. I made a large batch during the day on Sunday and it simmered away while I drank beermosas and watched football. It was perfect. We’ve been enjoying eating it all week.

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Speak up: What’s the best thing you ate this week?