Thursday, June 20, 2013

Batch Meal Prep - Clean Eating

Hey friends!!  I haven't blogged in awhile - yikes!  Summer's here and all of my little princesses are home with me.  It probably goes without saying that my days are pretty busy and these kids are wearing me OUT!  Phew!

Today's post recaps my very first Batch Meal Prep!

6 portioned meals for the rest of this week & weekend

I'll save a lot of what I want to share for another post and keep it simple today.  In short, I am feeling unbalanced and not entirely healthy these days.  My stress levels are a bit higher with my girls home (more fighting, whining, crying, etc) and my adrenal fatigue is wearing on me.  I had been upping my cardio the past few weeks and it really did me in.  It put my adrenals into hibernation for a bit. Therefore, I decided that trying meal prepping & portioning might be in my best interest in order to keep my food intake on track...and also eliminate the stresses of making meals for myself and my kids, three times a day.

After some great inspiration from Instagram and a few Google searches, I came up with a quick (okay, it took me a few hours) and easy plan for the next 4 days or so.  I learned a bit and will plan better and more accordingly next week.  But this works for me right now!

My awesomesauce husband, Josh, picked up 3 organic, hormone-free chicken breasts from The Fresh Market the other day.  I rinsed and patted them dry, laid them on non-stick foil on a baking sheet and sprinkled them with salt-free Mrs. Dash.  Tossed them in the oven and baked at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes.  They were thick, hence the baking duration.

While the chicken was baking, I added a dish with 5 really small sweet potatoes and let those bake for about 50 minutes.  Halfway through the sweet potato baking time, I also put in a baking dish with asparagus.  I left it plain - no oil, no seasonings.  I left that in there for about 25 minutes.

I really liked being able to time out these three foods and use the oven for all of them at the same time.  It reduced energy used, and also cut down on my cooking times.

While the chicken, sweet potatoes and asparagus were in the oven, I steamed 2 heads of broccoli (plain) and a package of pre-washed green beans.  For a snack, I sliced up three bell peppers (yellow, red & orange).  I portioned these out into 6 containers - each had half of a chicken breast (sliced), asparagus, broccoli and sweet potato (some whole, some halved, depending on size).  I left the green beans & peppers in separate containers for snacks or meal additions.

Pictures follow - they show how I portioned everything out.  Hope this is helpful for anyone else who might want to start food prepping & portioning!

So pretty!  Lots of health benefits in different colored produce!
Seasoned chicken, prior to baking
Baked sweet potatoes 
I fully admit that I totally cheated and steamed these right in the bag!
Steamed broccoli
Chicken - after baking
Asparagus - baked plain, no oil or seasoning 
Here's a look at the 6 portions plus green beans & bell peppers
close-up of one of my portioned meals

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Shredded Chicken Stuffed Peppers

Hey friends!!  This is part one of a two-part blog post.  I made two separate but awesome foods for dinner tonight (the other one was Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Cream Sauce) and I feel like they deserve their own posts.  Therefore, this is part one...Shredded Chicken Stuffed Peppers.

I visited one of our local farm stores today and picked up three chicken breasts.  I know the chicken is from PA, just a hop, skip & a jump away from MD - and I know that it's humanely raised with no hormones or anti-biotics.  I pretty much always buy my chicken from this particular farm store.

I tossed the chicken in the crockpot and added a mixture of about 1/3 cup of my FAVE chili sauce by Organicville and 1 cup water, then I sprinkled a Mexican spice mix over top.  The chicken cooked on low for about 6 hours and it shredded with just one fork (can't beat that!)

1 and 1/4 cup shredded chicken
1/3 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup onion, diced
6-7 lacinato kale leaves, chopped
1T coconut oil
2 large green bell peppers
garlic powder
taco seasoning or Mexican spice mix
Daiya cheese, 3T chopped (or any dairy or non-dairy cheese of your choice)

Heat oven to 425.  Cut the tops off of the green peppers and scoop out the insides (pic 2).  Place in baking dish and bake for about 10 minutes before stuffing (pic 3).  Meanwhile, heat a pan on stove over medium heat and add 1T coconut oil.  Add red pepper and onion (pic 8).  Once those turn translucent, add the chopped kale (pic 9).  Cook for two minutes, then remove from heat.  Mix veggies in a bowl with the chicken and cheese.  Spoon half of the mixture into each green pepper (pic 12).  Put back into oven and cook 10-15 minutes (pic 13).

Let cool and serve with Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Cream Sauce (part 2 of this blog post).

Now - step by step pictures!

1. Organic, fresh bell peppers 
2. Cut off tops & scoop out seeds
3. After pre-baking for ten minutes

8. Red Pepper & onion, sauteed in coconut oil 
9. Sauteed veggies with kale added for final 2 minutes
10. Shredded chicken
11. Daiya Jack - my favorite cheese substitute
12. Before baking
13. After baking
Serve alongside my Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Cream Sauce 

Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Cream Sauce

Here's part 2 of my two-part blog post tonight:  Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Cream Sauce.  My earlier post was for Shredded Chicken Stuffed Green Peppers.  I served these zucchini noodles with the stuffed peppers tonight and they were heavenly!  A great pairing if you ask me.

A friend had posted on Facebook last week that she purchased a spiral cutter for veggies, to make noodles and such.  I have been wanting one for quite some time - well over a year I jumped at the opportunity to get this Paderno spiral slicer on Amazon.  It arrived today and while I had already decided to make my stuffed peppers, how could I not use my brand new kitchen tool?  Just happens I picked up three organic zucchini this morning.

I want to say that while I will totally make raw zucchini noodles (recipes forthcoming), I decided to steam them tonight.  I liked the consistency, but I did really need to drain them.  Zucchini retain a lot of water!

1 large zucchini
pinch Himalayan sea salt
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
1T coconut oil
2 avocados
1/2 lemon
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp taco or Mexican seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder

I used my spiral cutter to make the zucchini noodles.  I did cut the zucchini in half crosswise to make sure it would stay securely on the cutter (pic 1).  It worked perfectly (pic 2). Toss zucchini noodles with a pinch of sea salt and steam for about 12 minutes.  Remove from steamer and drain well to remove excess water (pic 7).

In blender, add avocados, coconut milk, juice from 1/2 lemon and seasonings.  Blend until desired consistency, adding more coconut milk if you'd like (pic 4).  *Note - I only used half of this sauce for the noodles.  Set the sauce aside and heat a small pan on medium heat.  Add the coconut oil and red peppers.  Sauté for 3-5 minutes (pic 6).  Toss drained noodles, red pepper & sauce together - serve warm.

These noodles can be served with my Shredded Chicken Stuffed Peppers or any other protein dish.  Enjoy!!

1. Half of a raw zucchini, ready for spiral cutting
2. Raw zucchini noodles, before steaming
3. Avocado Cream Sauce ingredients
4. Blended sauce

6. Red peppers, sautéed in coconut oil
7. zucchini noodles, steamed & drained 
8. Serve with Shredded Chicken Stuffed Peppers

Monday, June 10, 2013

Beef & Veggie Lasagna with Zucchini & Cashew Cheeze

Beef & Veggie Lasagna with Zucchini & Cashew Cheeze

I really love that so many recipes can be tweaked based on the ingredients, produce and spices that we have on hand at home.  Many of my original recipes are made differently each time because I may not have a particular spice or vegetable.  I encourage you to use my recipes as a base or starting point for your meals...but make any changes based on your family's needs or what you have available.  That's not to say that you can't make it exactly as posted.  Either way, I'm sure it'll be amazing!!

I knew that I was going to use zucchini for the noodles and organic ground beef for the filling.  I wasn't sure what else I was going to add, so this recipe was built as I was preparing dinner last night.

There will be picture overload following the body of this post.  I love adding step by step pictures because so many of us learn visually.  Seeing each step can help less confident cooks to really visualize what their meal will look like during each phase of the recipe.

Enough chatter from me.  Here's the recipe for Beef & Veggie Lasagna with Zucchini & Cashew Cheeze.

View of one serving, from the side

3 medium zucchini
1 small yellow squash
3 cippolini onions
5 white or baby bella mushrooms
3/4 lb organic (grass-fed, no hormones added) ground beef
1 recipe Cashew Cheeze (click HERE and scroll to bottom for recipe)
1/2 bunch kale
2 avocados, sliced
chili sauce
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp Himalayan sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp taco or Mexican seasoning mix
1-2T coconut oil

First, prepare the Cashew Cheeze sauce and set aside (pic 2).  Wash and slice your zucchini lengthwise (pic 4).  I used a knife rather than a slicer or mandolin so mine were not quite the same thickness...but they still worked just fine.  Steam the zucchini slices for about 8 minutes until they begin to look translucent (pic 11).  While those are steaming, dice your squash, mushrooms & onions and saute in coconut oil in a large shallow pan until browned - add some chili sauce here if you'd like (pic 6).  Remove from pan, set aside and add chopped kale to the pan.  Cook for a few minutes until it turns bright green then remove from pan and set aside (pic 10).  Next, add the ground beef to the pan and stir until cooked through.  (I like to reuse the same pan for everything because it cuts back on cleaning dishes later!)  Add taco seasoning, to your liking to lightly season the beef (pic 7).  The rest of the spices still need to be added so don't overdo it with the just yet.

In a large mixing bowl, add the ground beef and sauteed veggies.  Sprinkle the cumin, sea salt & garlic powder and mix well (pic 8).  Taste it now - if you want more spice, add more.  Line a rectangular baking dish with non-stick foil or spray well.  Add one layer of steamed zucchini "noodles" to the bottom of the dish (pic 12).  Next, layer the beef/veggie mixture (pic 13).  After that, add the kale (pic 14).  Next, add the avocado slices (pic 16).  Spread some of the Cashew Cheeze over the avocado and add the final layer of zucchini "noodles" (pics 17 & 18).  I added more Cashew Cheeze sauce and a drizzle of chili sauce to the top (pic 19).  Bake at 425 for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool a bit before serving.  Enjoy!!

1. The makings for Cashew Cheeze sauce (I added a little chili sauce too)

2. Cashew Cheeze sauce, after blending.  Mine was very thin - I added extra water.  It really thickens up during cooking - keep that in mind!

3. Three medium, relatively same size, zucchini

4. Zucchini - sliced and ready to steam

5. Diced squash, mushrooms & onion (I added a little extra zucchini too)

6. Sauteed veggies with chili sauce

7. Browned ground beef with taco seasoning

8. Ground beef & veggie mixture

9. Lacinato ("elephant") kale from my garden

10. Chopped kale cooking in coconut oil

11. Steamed zucchini "noodles"

12. First layer - Baking dish lined with zucchini "noodles"

13. Second layer - ground beef & sauteed veggie mixture

14. Third layer - chopped, sauteed kale

15. Slice avocados lengthwise in half and remove pit with large knife.  Slice the avocados lengthwise.  Scoop out with a large spoon and separate the slices.

16. Fourth layer - add sliced avocado

17. Fifth layer - Cashew Cheeze sauce

18. Top layer - more zucchini "noodles"

19. Top layer with added Cashew Cheeze & chili sauce

20. After baking - looks SO GOOD!

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