recipe

Chicken and Peppers with Goat Cheese

Once upon a time I had this little ol’ blog and the only people who read it were mom and dad (thanks guys!) Ironically enough, it was during these first six months that I posted most of my recipes. Since then, I’ve started focusing more on the workout aspect of healthy living, and I leave the recipe development up to the pros like Erin, Arman, and Dannii.

So while I’m sure I’ll come up with new stuff here and there, I think it’s time to share some of the best things I’ve ever made, and hope you like them too. There’s something about spring that makes me want to start creating recipes again, and also start sharing healthy food ideas, not just fitness tips.

Chicken and Peppers with Goat Cheese

Ingredients

  • 3 grilled chicken breasts (precooked)
  • 16 oz bag of quinoa (or brown rice)
  • 4 assorted bell peppers (we used yellow, orange, and green)
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1/2 of a 5oz. log of goat cheese–more or less depending on  your preference
  • 2 15oz. cans TJ’s Organic Great Northern Beans (or any other kind of white bean)
  • Cumin (start with 3 tbls. and add according to taste/preference)

Start by cooking the quinoa according to the instructions on the bag. Once it is cooked season it with a tablespoon of cumin and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.

img_2101Once the quinoa is cooking, chop your peppers and onions.  You want these pieces to be bite-sized but not too small.img_2099

Sautee the chopped peppers and onions in olive oil until cooked, but still crispy.  Season with salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of the cumin.

Once the peppers and onions are cooked, add the chicken breasts (chopped). Finally, stir in the goat cheese! Mix only until the goat cheese is combined throughout.  Add your third tablespoon of cumin, along with a few pinches of salt and pepper.

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Now that everything is combined, it’s important to keep tasting until the amount of cumin is just right.  It’s a very important flavor that really adds a lot to the dish, so make sure you use enough.  You can always add more, but you can never take some back!

Serve with the quinoa and a simple side salad.  I made one using my dijon mustard dressing and leafy greens.img_2111

South of the Border Frittata

I think it’s safe to say that every diet-friendly cookbook idea known to man has been written. Just looking at Amazon I saw “Thug Cookbook”, “The Disney Princess Cookbook”, “Giada’s Feel Good Food” and “Simply Skinny.” There are so many cookbooks out there claiming to have a variety of recipes that will make you feel your best and will be super easy to cook and cheap to buy. But in my humble opinion there are only two words you need to know to eat well, eat fast and eat cheap.

Mexican food.

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I mean really. So many veggies. So many whole food options. So many spices. And they respect the power of guac and cheese, which I can always get on board with.

I plan on moving out of my parents’ house sometime in the next month (fingers crossed!) and I know between rent, the cost of living in downtown Chicago, and my admitted love of Trader Joe’s and fitness studios it’s going to be a tight squeeze on my wallet. And since I’ve never been a huge pasta person I need a cheap go-to option.

Mexican food can be the healthiest food or the most unhealthy choice. Why yes, I do love me some nachos and a margarita the size of a small child. But I also love burrito bowls, shrimp fajitas and would swim in a pool of black beans. All wonderfully healthy options. Not to mention that when I’m making Mexican food I’m almost always downing it in red pepper flakes, an addition that has been proven to shake up your metabolism. Which is a healthy living tip I’ve always taken extremely seriously because my metabolism might be kicking now but if my love of food doesn’t die down sometime in the next decade there might be troubled waters ahead.

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So now that the move-out date is approaching, I’ve started my experiments. And since I’ve been in the midst of a desperate attempt to veggiefy my life, I threw the contents of my fridge into a cast iron skillet and hoped for the best. My prayers were answered and I was left with a kick ass fritatta.

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South of the Border Frittata

Ingredients

  • 10 eggs
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/2 block sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 bag store-bought spinach, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick Cajun seasoning (or just paprika)
  • Sprinkle of red pepper flakes
  • Salt/pepper to taste

Directions

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a cast iron skillet on medium heat
  • When oil is hot, add onion and pepper to the pan. Let cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and chopped spinach.
  • Add spices and salt/pepper to taste (personal preference is key here!)
  • Turn heat to low until the spinach wilts. Stir in salsa.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the ten eggs and almond milk. Salt and pepper.
  • Turn heat back to medium and pour the egg mixture over the cooked veggies in the skillet.
  • Stir constantly until the veggies are all evenly distributed and the egg begins to set. Add the cheddar cheese to the mix just before it hits the oven.
  • Place skillet in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes (mine took 14 but ovens vary)
  • Serve with salsa, black beans or avocado toast. Or all of it. No judgment.

Questions:

  • What’s your favorite cultural food?
  • If you had to pick one dish that is your go-to cheap, healthy and fast choice, what would it be?

Crockpot Apple (Cider) Sauce

I was trying to think of a long-winded intro for this recipe but it’s just too simple. I figured I owed you all ONE fall recipe that was apple-themed instead of continuing my minor squash-obsession. So if you have an extra hour of prep time on your hands (coring, peeling and chopping apples isn’t an easy task) or just really need to take out some stress on food, then dedicate some time to this. Because you know what they say – all good things take time. Except microwave popcorn. And 4G LTE.

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Crockpot Applesauce

Ingredients

  • 24-30 cored/peeled/chopped apples – variety of Macintosh, Jonathan, and Golden Delicious
  • 1 cup of Trader Joe’s Honey Crisp apple cider
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I used 4 packets of stevia instead)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of cinnamon

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in your crockpot on low for eight hours.

PS apple is one of those words that, when you write it enough times, you take a step back and think, “What IS that word?” Weird word.

Enjoy!

Questions:

  • Do you ever use your crockpot to make sweet recipes? I hadn’t before this!
  • Do you like your applesauce plain or with cinnamon/sugar, or another combo?

Maple Cinnamon Protein Chia Pudding

Ah, protein powder.

I’d LOVE to be that person who whips up protein brownies. I tried once – they tasted like sponges. Literally.

I’d LOVE to serve up a nice plate of protein muffins or protein bread blah blah blah.

It just never works.

But, being the persevering person I am, I was determined to find a way to incorporate protein into my diet. For years and years I used whey protein powder, but always felt sick afterwards. So when I heard about Skoop I was realllllly excited to try it.

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I tried their B-Strong Vanilla Protein Powder and instantly fell in love. I didn’t have high hopes – after all, most protein powders taste like chalk. And if you’re expecting your protein shake to taste like a vanilla shake from Culver’s, you’ve got another thing coming to you. But as far as protein powders are concerned, Skoop is the best I’ve tried by far. It’s only icing on the cake that B-Strong has a complete profile of amino acids, tons of antioxidants and a full complement of vitamins and minerals. Now that I’m studying to get my personal training certification I know EXACTLY what that means and how awesome it is to find that in a product 🙂

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B-Strong, is a plant-based protein powder that promotes a three-stage process for manufacturing strong, lean muscles and all-over health. It’s designed to help your body absorb nutrients, build muscle and recover quickly. It’s unique in that it also contains prebiotics that promote a happy belly! It didn’t irritate my stomach at all. It’s gluten, dairy and soy free, and it contains pea and brown rice protein.

The fatty acids aid hormone function, healthy skin and cellular repair, but they also help the gut absorb macro and phytonutrients throughout your day. The BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) keep your muscles strong and happy throughout your daily activity or workout, so that you recover quickly and efficiently.

Now that it’s truly fall, I just can’t bring myself to make any more protein smoothies, even though that’s always been a favorite. So I set out to try something I’ve always heard about but never tried: chia seed pudding!

You all know what chia seeds are so I’ll spare you the same schpeal, but there’s something so magical about chia seed pudding. It tastes like if oatmeal and pudding had a delicious baby.

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Look how pretty!

Maple Cinnamon Chia Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 5 drops liquid stevia
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon (I used Korintje cinnamon from Whole Foods because I love how spicy it is!)
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 a scoop of Skoop vanilla protein powder

Directions

  • Mix almond milk and chia seeds and place in the fridge overnight. The almond milk will soak up the chia seeds. In the morning, mix the rest of the ingredients into the pudding and serve.

If you’ve ever thought about trying protein powder, head over to the Skoop website and check it out! They have a ton of other awesome products that people with all different dietary restrictions can try (no dairy, soy or gluten). Sadly it isn’t available in grocery stores – but that’s so they can donate 10% of sales to fill school salad bars with local produce. Mission Nutrition’s Buy One Give One means that for every serving you buy, the lovely people at Skoop will put a serving of fresh fruits and veggies on a kid’s plate. Plus you can use the promo code BIGLUNCH to get 10% off your order!

Also feel free to check out their Twitter and Instagram for other ideas for how to incorporate Skoop into your favorite foods.

**Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post, although I did receive multiple Skoop products to try. All opinions are my own! Ain’t nobody got time for fakes!

Questions:

  • Ever tried Skoop?
  • What’s your favorite way to sneak protein powder into your diet?
  • Got any good protein baked goods recipes to share?

Vegan Pumpkin Chili

I could further solidify my basic status by making another pumpkin dessert, but instead I decided it was time to highlight all the health benefits of pumpkin (imagine that!)

Did you know…

  • One cup of pure pumpkin has only 49 calories and has three grams of fiber (talk about bang for your buck)
  • A cup of pumpkin has more potassium than a banana (perfect for a post-workout snack!)
  • Pumpkin is full of vitamin C, so it can help ward of that winter cold we all know is coming for us
  • Pumpkins contain the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a role in cancer prevention. So, eat up!

I’ve made this chili twice already and I have to say, humbly, of course, that it’s pretty killer.

Not only is it vegan and gluten-free, it’s basically impossible to screw up, pretty darn cheap, and the perfect cozy dish to enjoy during these early days of fall.

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Vegan Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients

  • 28 oz can pumpkin
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 15 oz can cannelini beans
  • 15 oz can kidney beans
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tblsp cumin

Combine all the ingredients in a slow cooker and leave on High for four hours. Season with salt to taste (important!)

Optional: serve over whole wheat pasta and top with cheddar cheese or Greek yogurt. It’ll win over even the meatiest of eaters in your home (see below for photographic evidence).

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That’s my dad, born and raised in the UP of Michigan, eating vegan pumpkin chili. Never thought I’d see the day.

Questions:

  • Do you like using pumpkin in savory dishes?
  • Have you had a chance to break out the crockpot yet? If so, what for?

Caprese Salad Salad (recipe)

Why the double salad, you ask? Because I was worried that people would read the title and expect your typical caprese salad, made up primarily of huge chunks of mozzarella on top of sliced tomato and slathered in balsamic. This is not that salad – but it is so much more.

The foundation is arugula, which, up until this point I hadn’t seen a need for. But I can’t stress enough how important arugula is to keep the integrity of this salad. It has a bite, taking this green meal to the next level when combined with the flavors of balsamic glaze, herbs, fresh mozzarella and tomato. It’s everything you’d ever want in a summer salad and more. Plus you just need to make one shopping trip to Trader Joe’s – they have all the ingredients and make it super simple to throw together.IMG_7875 Caprese Salad Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 package cherry tomatoes
  • 1 package arugula (mine was 7 oz)
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s mozzarella balls packed in olive oil and herbs
  • 1 bottle Trader Joe’s balsamic glaze

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients except the glaze and oil from the mozzarella. After your salad is assembled, whisk equal parts oil from the mozzarella container and balsamic glaze and drizzle over the salad.

It’s as simple as that – Enjoy!

Questions:

  • Do you like arugula?
  • What’s your favorite product from Trader Joe’s? 

Citrus Butter Shrimp (recipe)

Since summer is coming, I thought now would be the perfect time to share one of my all-time favorite recipes for citrus butter shrimp. It’s the perfect summer dish because it allows shrimp to bask in its pure glory while also drowning in melted butter, lemon and red pepper flakes. Ok maybe not perfect for summer…you have to put up with the oven, heating up the whole house—but thou shalt sacrifice for delicious food, n’est-ce pas?

Regardless…

As warm weather peeks its head out I start to crave simpler foods. This dish covers all the bases, and I hope you’re inspired to make it as well!

**Also Chelsea just informed me that today is National Shrimp Day! Am I psychic or what??

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Citrus Butter Shrimp

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 pound raw shrimp (16 oz bag)
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Optional: oregano, thyme, garlic salt, etc.

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Thaw, clean and take the tails off your shrimp according to package directions (I used TJ’s organic raw frozen shrimp)
  • Melt butter in a pan (I used a 9 inch circular pan) by placing it in the oven for a minute or two. Then take the pan back out of the oven.
  • Slice the lemon and layer the pieces on top of the butter
  • Arrange the shrimp on top of the lemon/butter mixture. Stir around so all the shrimp is getting some butter action.
  • Sprinkle the shrimp with red pepper flakes (I used just 3-4 shakes, or a tablespoon)
  • Place in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through
  • Take out of the oven and ENJOY!

If the amount of butter scares you off, never fear! Much of it is leftover in the pan. It’s just a wonderful cooking agent that really brings out the beauty and simplicity in shrimp. Plus, if butter scares you, you have bigger fish to fry (no pun intended).

No panko, no frying, no bread, nada. Just simple, beautiful citrus butter shrimp. I squeeze a little extra lemon over my final serving, but do whatever floats your boat.

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Questions:

  • Are you a shrimp lover? What’s your favorite recipe?
  • What’s one thing you’re looking forward to this weekend?

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND and don’t forget to grab your mom some beautiful tulips for Mother’s Day!

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