Saturday, March 17, 2012

Healthy Meals List

So last week I posted a list I started with freezer friendly meals and this week I decided that since I have been working with Mama Bootcamp and helping the clients with meal plans and recipe lists, I should take that list of recipes and share it here.  And just like with the other list, I'll add to it as I find other recipes to add.  I am also building a Healthy Meals board on Pinterest, which you can follow here-
The recipes on this list basically are somewhat low calorie or low fat, and they are that way naturally with lean meats or meatless, there's nothing too processed to achieve being low fat.  But things like fat free or low fat dairy or fat free broth may be used to lighten up a traditionally high-calorie dish.  Some of the recipes contain nutrient-packed ingredients and are just plain good for you. 

Shepard’s Pie Lightened Up- The great thing about a dish like this is how you can pack it full of veggies.  And this recipe lightened up the fat in the mashed potatoes and in the filling. Use lean ground beef or try using ground turkey. 

Paprika Shrimp Green Bean Saute- Super easy to throw together on a weeknight since all of it cooks quickly.

Chicken Fajitas- The longer you can marinate this the more flavorful it will be.  The recipe includes a spicy cream sauce to garnish them with that is made with fat free Greek yogurt.

Tortellini, Tomato and Spinach Soup-Tortellini make this soup be more filling as a one-pot meal and you can pack full of other veggies in addition to the spinach.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas -  It’s meatless, it’s vegan-ish with just a small amount of cheese and if you aren’t up for making the enchilada sauce as provided in the recipe, you can just get a good canned green enchilada sauce. 

Chipotle Chicken Salad- Love this salad!  Prep all the elements ahead of time so all you have to do is assemble your salad.

Salsa Chicken Soup- A spicy twist on chicken soup. 

Minestrone Soup- Plenty of filling veggies and beans full of fiber and protein.

Vegan Crockpot Lasagna- Love lasagna in the crock pot!  What is traditionally a time consuming meal can be made on a weekday with less effort.  And this one uses delicious polenta instead of pasta.

Healthy Bean Soup with Kale- Make a big pot of this and you can have plenty for lunch every day.

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream Sauce- Love this recipe.  The sauce is great.  It uses chipotle chilis, which you can use as little or as much as you want depending on how hot you want. 

Baked Southwest Tilapia- This is very easy to put together.  I also think you could cut it into smaller pieces before cooking and then use the fish for tacos. 

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake- This is a good cheesy and filling casserole, but it uses pre cooked brown rice and Greek yogurt. 

Pan Sauteed Salmon over Mediterranean Vegetables- A great, heart-healthy dish. 

Beef, Cheese and Noodle Bake- Substitute with ground turkey and use whole grain elbow macaroni to lower the fat and increase the healthy carbs.

Cheap & Easy Turkey Stir Fry- Using lean turkey that is quick cooking, you can whip this up using whatever fresh or frozen veggies you have. 

Grilled Salmon with Basil Lemon Butter- Very simple and delicious way to fix salmon.  It uses just a little European style butter, which adds some delicious richness, but it’s still very low calorie.

Pineapple Chicken Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette- If you like a main dish salad for dinner, try this one.  It’s very easy to prep the parts in advance to put together when it’s time to eat. 

Chicken Enchilada Soup- The flavor of enchilada in the form of a soup.  Great for making ahead and re-heating during the week.

White Chicken Chili- Using lean chicken, white beans and green chili, this is perfect to make ahead and freeze, garnish with a little cheese if you want or none to keep the fat and calories lower.
Ravioli and Vegetable Soup- The pasta makes this meatless soup more of a meal and what’s great about it is how you can add any veggies you want or have on hand. 

Light Turkey Meatballs- This is a great basic recipe that you can do almost anything with.  I made them and froze them uncooked, which is why they are also on my Freezer Friendly List.   I later cooked them in marinara sauce.  But you could also cook them with stir fry style with veggies and terriyaki sauce.  Or cook them with bbq sauce and serve with steamed broccoli. 

Stir Fried Turkey in Lettuce Wraps- I like this because you can set all the elements out on the table and sit down together and have fun and conversation while assembling your wraps. 

Chopped Greek Salad with Chicken- Another good main dish salad or you may prefer to fix this to pack for lunches.

Side Dishes

10 Minute Tasty Asparagus and Brown Rice- This is a fantastic side dish and it’s so quick to make if you use leftover brown rice from another meal.  Or if you want, both Trader Joes and Whole Foods sell cooked brown rice.

Brown Rice Salad with Spinach and Tomatoes-  Another great side dish and something you can pack for lunch as well.  It goes great with grilled fish or chicken.

Three Bean Salad with Quinoa- This is probably better for the summer as it’s a great side dish for grilled chicken or fish and it calls for fresh green beans.  If you don’t find good green beans to use, skip them.  You could always add chopped broccoli or double the amount of  one of the other beans. 

Banana Muffins- These are a staple in my house and a special recipe I only make with my younger daughter.  I often substitute the sugar with brown sugar, the caramel/molasses flavor is perfect with the bannanas.

Pumpkin Muffins- Another great muffin recipe from Get Natured, tasty as well as packed with nutrition.
Pineapple Breakfast Sandwich- A nice combination of whole grain carbs and protein to start your day. 

Banana Oatmeal Smoothie- It seems strange, but I really love this smoothie.  You blend cooked oatmeal with frozen banana, almonds, Greek Yogurt and ice.  For me, this is a good way to fuel my morning for a workout.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Freezer Friendly Meals

I had a few requests for some ideas on meals to make ahead and freeze.  I often try to to include recipes that are freezer friendly on my weekly recipe lists and so it occurred to me that I should pull a list together and put it on the blog.  And as I come across others that I like, I'll just add them to this list.  If you are someone who is preparing for a new baby, a busy month or you just prefer to cook just a couple times in a month you could bookmark this page and come back to it when you are looking for inspiration.  I find that even though I love to make a scratch meal and serve it up fresh each night, the reality of my family's schedule is that I can't do that and remain sane.  Maybe 2 or 3 nights in a week there is time, but if I were to take the time to cook each night, I would be taking away time from something else that needs attention.  Like a baby.  Or children who need help with homework.  Or showering.  :-)

So here's my list that I will consider a work in progress.  Leave me comments if you have any recipes you would love to recommend.  And here is a handy template for labels for your meals.  You can print them on plain paper and just cut and tape them to containers or print on Avery labels 5164FREEZER LABELS

Freezer Friendly Meals

Light Turkey Meatballs- You can either cook these and then freeze these on a sheet pan, then transfer to a freezer bag or container.  Or leave them uncooked and freeze them so you can cook them when you want.  If you freeze them unbaked, my suggestion is to cook them by simmering in marinara sauce, it’s really flavorful that way. 

Freezer Friendly Chicken Enchiladas- Easy enchiladas that doesn’t use a canned sauce, it’s fairly easy to make the sauce from scratch.  Includes instructions for freezing unbaked and then how to bake them after freezing.  

Baked Polenta Pie- Assemble this in advance in a disposable foil pan, put in the freezer and save it for a busy night, just bake and eat.  Feel free to change up the sausages/meats to use whatever you prefer.

Beef, Cheese and Noodle Bake- Substitute with ground turkey and use whole grain elbow macaroni to lower the fat and increase the healthy carbs.  I suggest that you not let the sauce cook down as the recipe instructs, but keep it saucy since the noodles will absorb moisture.  You could freeze unbaked or completely baked.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos- A bunch of cilantro is so inexpensive and this dish is easy.  She also provides instructions for making it as a freezer meal.

Classic Baked Ziti- Simple and easy.  This recipe includes making the tomato sauce portion, which if you like to use a jarred marinara sauce and want to skip that part of the cooking, feel free to do that.  Just assemble this as listed in the recipe, then freeze with a note on the baking instructions.  You could also bake it ahead of time and freeze after it cools so that all you have to do is thaw and re-heat servings.

Turkey Meatball and Tortellini Soup- With big meatballs and tortellini, this soup can be a meal.  I consider it a pantry/freezer meal, the ingredients are always available in my house and if something isn’t, I just improvise.  Great meal to make ahead or makes a lot for multiple meals.

Easy Ranch Chicken- This one is suggested to prep ahead and freeze uncooked. 

Taco Pasta- Cook as directed, once it’s cool, portion into freezer bags or containers and then freeze.  Re-heat in microwave or on stove top.  
Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf- Sort of the flavors of chicken parmesan but a meatloaf instead.  Includes directions and options for freezing.  

Chili Taco Casserole- Prepare this and then transfer to either a foil or freezer/oven safe pan with a note on the baking directions.  Then defrost and bake as directed.  Alternatively you could follow all the directions and after cooled, freeze and then defrost and re-heat as needed.

Sloppy Joes- This is a good recipe that doesn't use a seasoning packet, but the meat and veggies are cooked down with barbecue sauce and other spices.   Make a big batch and portion it out to freeze.

Crock Pot Carolina Pulled Pork- This is a Carolina style (meaning vinegar based) barbecue pulled pork you make in the crock pot.  You can make this and freeze it for later, or make a really big roast and freeze leftovers.

White Chicken Enchiladas- Really easy to make, doesn’t use a canned cream of chicken soup and you can freeze either baked to reheat or put in the freezer unbaked and then defrost and bake when you want to eat it. One change I made when I make this- I use 1/2 can green enchilada sauce instead of diced green chilies.  Then I freeze the rest of the sauce to save for the next time I make it.

Chicken Parmesan with Easy Marinara Sauce- This is my own recipe for Chicken Parmesan and a very quick homemade marinara sauce.  It's far from totally authentic, the origin of making it this way was to have a low carb version, so it's not breaded, it's just coated  in seasonings and grated Parmesan cheese.  For a freezer meal, I fully cook it, then when it's cooled it can be transferred to a freezer container for storage.  Then you just defrost and re-heat in the microwave.  You could also cook the chicken completely without sauce, freeze and then when you want to have it, cover the chicken with sauce and cheese and then bake.

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna- You can use my marinara sauce recipe above as it will make extra sauce to use in this recipe.  This is a great, healthy recipe you can portion into serving sizes or make one big one.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Meals for Week of March 5, 2012

So I'm making this short and sweet.  This week's list has several crock pot recipes and I have 2 recipes for shrimp, both with coconut, but yet they're not really the same.  The recipes this week are healthy and either easy for a weeknight or something you can make ahead and re-heat leftovers.

We had this in my house and loved it!

Meals for Week of March 5, 2012

Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp- Using light coconut milk still provides that great flavor combination with red chili paste, but reduces the calories and fat. 

Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken- This is recipe requires browning the chicken on the stove first, which really helps to sear in the flavor and keeps the chicken from cooking down into nothing.  It also is best cooked on high for 4 hours, so it’s not the sort of slow cooker recipe that you put out in the morning and leave all day.  But it is useful for a busy weekend where you can get it assembled and then leave it.  Or make it in advance and then just re-heat for another night. 

Skinny Coconut Shrimp- These are great as an appetizer with a dipping sauce or for a meal you can serve them with rice and a big vegetable stir fry.  I made one change to the recipe; I added the juice of one orange to the beaten egg.

Quick and Easy Zesty Sausage Pasta-  A fantastic sauce you can put over pasta, gnocchi, soft polenta or even over roasted vegetables for a low carb meal.  It’s quick to cook, but full of flavor.

Balsamic Roast Chicken- Delicious low fat method for roasting a chicken.  This recipe uses a whole chicken, but you could apply the same method to chicken parts.  Add sliced onions to the pan for caramelized onions to go with the chicken.

Slow Cooker Enchilada Chicken Chili- A slightly different flavor than your usual chili.  Really good!  The recipe suggests controlling the heat by cutting back on the chili powder if you’re using a spicy enchilada sauce.

Vegetable Bean Soup- Here is a meatless but filling soup that has many options for you to change it to suit your tastes.

Crock Pot Pasta Fagioli Soup- This is a beef, vegetable and pasta soup that is filling and you can make a large amount to eat all week or to feed a crowd. 

Peanut Butter Granola Balls- Really easy, a great snack for kids or to pack in their lunch.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Photo Shoot with His Life Magazine

We interrupt our usual programming to bring you some recipes and photos from our photo shoot with His Life Magazine.  This blog and my family are featured in the Spring issue and I wanted to share the recipes I made for the photo shoot. I also took some photos with my iPhone camera and with the Instagram app, so I'm sprinkling in a few of those here.

Photographer Tanea Devriend is the creative force behind His Life Magazine and she happens to take beautiful family photos of my family.  When she was looking to add blogs to partner with her magazine, I jumped at the chance and together she and I collaborated on a feature for the spring issue.  I put together a four course meal using the theme of love as inspiration.  The plan was that I would make a meal, with the help of my daughters for my husband.  It would be foods he loves, made by us, with love.

Link to download the magazine- His Life Magazine Spring 2012 Issue

First Course- Stuffed Mushrooms
There's a lot of great recipes for stuffed mushrooms out there.  My husband loves mushrooms, and the ones that I make are super simple.

Stuffed Mushrooms

1 doz mushrooms- large sized for stuffing, some stores sell pre-packaged "stuffers"
2-3 tbl. olive oil
2-3 small mushrooms, finely chopped
1 1/4 c. mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese
2 tbl. mayonnaise
3 tbl. butter
2 cloves garlic- crushed
1 tsp. cajun seasoning or Emeril's Essence
salt, pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350
Wash stuffing mushrooms, remove stems and chop, then hollow them out a little (if possible) and save those bits to mix into the stuffing. Brush the insides and outsides with olive oil.
Melt butter in medium sauté pan, add garlic and begin to sauté, add chopped stems and insides. Cook for just a few minutes to soften mushrooms.
Mix together cheeses and mayo. Add the cooked garlic and mushrooms. Season with Cajun seasoning or Essence. OR experiment with other seasonings- herbs or more garlic, whatever you like. Add salt and pepper to your taste and mix this all together.
Place spoonfuls of the filling into the mushroom caps.
If your baking dish needs it, brush some olive oil or butter on the pan. Place the mushrooms on the pan and bake for about 10-15 minutes. Then turn the temp to BROIL and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, watching closely.
A note about the cooking time: Larger mushrooms are going to need more time to get the stuffing heated and melted and the mushroom soft. So, cooking time will vary.

Here's another recipe, somewhat the same technique, little different flavors, but from one of my favorites, The Pioneer Woman.

Second Course- Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Balsamic Dressing
My husband is not a big salad eater, but he does love a good spinach salad.  This one is very easy.  I left it simple but like with any salad you can add anything you like.

1 bag baby spinach
2-3 slices of bacon
3 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar (I get mine in the bulk section at Whole Foods, it's a Fig Balsamic Vinegar)
Dried cranberries and sliced almonds (use however much you want)

In a small pan fry the bacon slices until crisp, then set aside on a plate and crumble them.  Then using the same pan, remove some of the bacon grease leaving about a tablespoon or so.  Put the pan on medium/high heat and then slowly pour in the vinegar.  Be careful as it can splatter, but you want it to bubble and boil so it can combine and reduce a little.  Prepare the salad; place spinach in desired serving dish, add the cranberries and almonds, pour the warm dressing over, gently toss everything together.  Serve immediately with some crumbled bacon on top.

Third Course- Buttermilk Roast Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Collard Greens
My husband loves chicken prepared all sorts of ways.  I chose this recipe from the fabulous Deb of Smitten Kitchen because I felt like it was easy for everyday cooking, but yet also worthy of being served for a dinner party.  Delicious and yet inexpensive.
Smitten Kitchen Buttermilk Roast Chicken
As far as the mashed potatoes, you may have your own favorite method, on this day I did a basic version using red potatoes that the girls then smashed with a bit of butter, milk and salt.  But here's a fantastic version that I LOVE, it's what I consider "special occasion" mashed potatoes.
Mashed Potatoes with Browned Butter, Goat Cheese and Sage
For the collard greens, something my husband grew up eating and loves to have with chicken or ribs, I use a recipe from Paula Deen.  I just happen to omit the hot sauce and drizzle in a bit of balsamic vinegar toward the end of cooking, so it's got a smokey yet sweet and tangy taste to them.

It was really hard to wait for the ice cream to finish!

Fourth Course- Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream with Peanut Butter Hot Fudge Sauce and Chocolate Brownies
Homemade ice cream is fun and it's delicious and the recipe I used is featured in the magazine.  It's from Mark Bittman who writes for the New York Times, has published several books and has an iPhone app, which I happen to use quite a bit.
Peanut Butter Hot Fudge Sauce 
Using this Chocolate Sauce recipe from Martha Stewart, I adapt it to just make it in the microwave, heating it in 30 second intervals and stirring until it's all smooth and combined.  I added to that, 2 heaping tablespoons of smooth peanut butter, stirring and using the heat of the sauce to melt the peanut butter and if you need to, put it back in the microwave for 10 or so seconds.
For the brownies, I again use a simple recipe from Martha Stewart that I love and I haven't made brownies from a box mix ever since I discovered this recipe-  Fudgy Brownies

You can make a sundae with a brownie on the bottom, a scoop (or two) of ice cream, top it with the peanut butter hot fudge sauce and then whipped cream and chopped peanuts.  Or, what I did that day, I topped it with tiny chocolate peanut butter cups.

Sharing the ice cream sundae with Daddy

The aftermath!!