Pesto Pasta Salad

pestopastasalad
The thing I love about pesto is the variety of ways you can use it. It’s common for us to use it during the summer for a healthier version of grilled cheese for adults. I say adults because I cannot imagine either kid liking pesto and so I am saving myself the trouble of even wasting such a delicate and tasty sauce.

This Pesto Pasta Salad is a branch off of a Balsamic Mozzarella Tomato, or bruschetta salad. You’re welcome to use any sort of pesto sauce that you like, but I recommend making your own. 

pestopastasalad1
Pesto is pretty easy sauce to make. I prefer to make my pesto over purchasing it because I like to know everything that goes into it. A classic pesto recipe only requires a few things and just takes you a few minutes to make. Add each of the following ingredients (except cheese) into a blender until everything combined resembles a paste. Remove from blender and add cheese.

Pesto Sauce:
4 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and dried off with a papertowel
½ cup olive oil
¼ pine nuts
2 garlic cloves
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Note: If you’re making 1 day ahead, transfer sauce to a small bowl and refrigerate. 

 

Pesto Pasta Salad
Serves 4
Penne noodles with a homemade pesto sauce, diced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
23 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
8 min
Total Time
23 min
Ingredients
  1. 8-ounces whole wheat penne pasta
  2. fresh mozzarella cheese
  3. 3 roma tomatoes, diced
  4. 1 cup pesto sauce, homemade recipe above
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan over med-high heat, bring water to a boil. Add penne pasta and cook according to package. Drain and let cool water run over pasta until chill.
  2. In a large bowl, add pasta, mozzarella and tomatoes. Add pesto sauce and stir well. Serve immediately or refrigerate in a well-concealed container to chill.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Turkey Caesar Sandwich

caesarturkeysandwich

Chicken Caesar Salad, or just a side caesar salad, has always been one of my go-to choices when I’m eating out or needing a quick throw together lunch for the week. But salads get tiring after so many and sandwiches are nice but let’s be honest; half of the time they’re not the healthiest choice you can make. Ugh, carbs. 

So while trying to fix the solution, I scanned through the bread section at our local Market District and found this fantastic loaf of bread; Aunt Millie’s 35 Calorie Whole Grain. I’m still trying to limit my bread intake, but if I’m craving a sandwich now I know I can enjoy one that’s not to the roof in calories. 

OK. So since salad is getting a break, now it’s time to give chicken a break. I’m sure it’s probably the one source of protein/meat that you eat most per week. Luckily, turkey is just as good (especially for a sandwich) simply because of the similarity and it can be bought with low sodium. You can keep the caesar dressing though. It’s extremely easy to make, uses a few ingredients you may already have on hand and tastes GREAT with turkey. 

Now you have a sandwich that’s as close to a caesar salad as you’re gonna get. And it may infact be healthier. Cheers to that!

Turkey Caesar Sandwich
Serves 1
Give Chicken Caesar Salad a break. At least for one meal.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 slices whole grain low-calorie bread
  2. 2 leaves of romaine lettuce
  3. 3 ounces low-sodium turkey, thinly sliced
  4. 1 slice of tomato
  5. 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
  6. 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  7. 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  8. dash of Worcestershire sauce
  9. black pepper
Instructions
  1. Combine Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl, mixing well. Lightly sprinkle black pepper. Spread onto slices of bread.
  2. Add romaine lettuce leaves, turkey and tomato.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Ranch Chicken Salad

ranchchickensalad

Mondays are never easy, but rainy Mondays are even less. I had prepared this lunch dish last night in-between waiting for our pork tenderloins and twice baked potatoes to cook and it looked and smelled so delicious that I was looking forward to photographing it in some great natural light. I should have known better. I regularly look at the weather forecast and I knew rain was headed our way all day today. It’s OK. Considering that I am going to be eating this as my lunch for the next several days and we have sunshine the remainder of the week; I will have plenty of opportunity to take a better photograph and edit this post with it. And you after Monday readers will never know! 

I’m trying to ease more dairy free recipes into our menu. This is officially my first, purposely at least, and can also be seen as Whole 30 and Paleo friendly as well. Everyone cheer! 

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I’m not sure if you already know this or not, but the secret to preparing a quick and tasteful chicken salad is rotisserie chicken. It doesn’t make a difference if you buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery or if you slow-cooker some chicken breasts for 4 hours with broth; chicken salads taste best with shredded, juicy chicken. You can also add and mix things as you go, accordingly to what flavors you like. I like my chicken salad quite often, so I am always trying to think of new ways to differ it up. 

So why not add some ranch? There are so many great things you can do with a dry packet of ranch seasoning. I use it for a handful of recipes as it adds a nice little tangy taste that can or cannot be similiar to the ranch you use for salad dressing depending on just how much you use. If you’re leaning more towards creating your own ranch seasoning rather than buying one from the grocery, a great dairy-free recipe can be found here.

Ranch Chicken Salad
A new and tangy twist on your typical chicken salad recipe. Just as easy to make, even more delicious.
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Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups of rotisserie, or finely shredded chicken breast
  2. ½ cup mayonnaise
  3. 1 tablespoon dry ranch seasoning
  4. 1 cup celery, diced
  5. 1 red bell pepper, diced
  6. ¼ cup yellow onion, diced
Instructions
  1. Combine shredded chicken, mayonnaise and ranch seasoning in a medium sized bowl. Mix well.
  2. Add celery, bell pepper and onion to chicken mixture. Combine well.
Notes
  1. Serves best after being chilled for a half hour in refrigerator.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Healthy Egg Salad

eggsalad
When I was younger, I used to associate eggs with breakfast. Now that I’m older and have been working out for the past year+ on a pretty consistent basis, I associate eggs with the word “protein.”

With the daily recommended protein amount being 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men, eggs (6 grams each) are a fantastic source when starting the day off, or even eaten as a hard-boiled treat in-between-meals snack. But sometimes we get tired of the same ole eggs for breakfast routine and want to switch it up for something else. You can still get your daily egg or two in with this simple and healthy egg salad. Add it over-top of a rice cake or have it as a sandwich.

 

Healthy Egg Salad
Serves 4
A delicious serving of egg salad; perfect for lunch or snack as a sandwich, ontop of a rice cracker or simply by itself.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 6 hardboiled eggs, shells peeled and chopped into small pieces
  2. 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  3. 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  4. 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  5. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  6. 1/3 cup celery, diced
  7. 1/4 cup green onions, finely sliced
Instructions
  1. 1. Using a medium size bowl, mix eggs, mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Gently fold, but enough that you’re combining all ingredients well.
  2. 2. Add celery and green onions, again mixing well.
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

The Importance of Meal-Planning and Meal-Prep.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” I often wonder if the individual who thought it up was trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Healthy is not easy. There’s several components that go into the equation when it comes to trying to reroute your daily diet into something that your body will appreciate more than those greasy drive-through french fries. The most important components? Meal-Planning and Meal-Prep. Lets face it though. Not everyone loves meal-planning and not everyone loves cooking. I think you have to enjoy both in order to have a deep and committed relationship with planning a menu and looking forward to prepping food. And while meal planning can be time-consuming and meal-prep, a process (think 2-4 hours spent in your kitchen on a Sunday morning) they’re also the key to a successful healthy lifestyle.
foodprep

When I started out on my journey towards becoming more fit and healthy one year ago, I actually looked forward to the process of meal-prep. I was following an e-guide program that lasted 28 days and came with an already scheduled meal-plan for the week, grocery list to check off, which foods I was prepping on what day and what my workout was. Everything is easier when simply laid out for you. But doing so, this taught me how to continue making healthy choices when the program was over. I just had to follow two rules

1. Allow yourself 5 meals a day. That’s right. FIVE!:

Now before you get all bug-eyed, hear me out. I understand you’re either looking to lose weight or maintain. Eating 5 meals a day isn’t going to contribute to weight gain if you’re eating correctly and not just anything and everything in the fridge or pantry – in fact, 5 meals allows your body to use energy stores and burn more fat.

The easiest and most foul-proof way to do it is to fit one small snack in after breakfast and another after lunch. This leaves less need to over-indulge at dinner and less chance of finding your hand in the chip bag. That’s right – no more Doritos fingers!

2. Prep twice a week.

Yes, my friends. When I say twice a week, I mean you will be eating left-overs. I’m sure when you were younger the thought of eating last night’s dinner again for dinner tonight gave you the hebeegeebees. Not anymore! Left-overs are now your body’s best friend. Please don’t imagine microwaving frozen pizza. That’s not the kind of left-overs I meant.

It’s a lot more easier for you to schedule repetitive meals for a few days. This calls for less overall prepping and saves you some cash at the grocery store. It also rids you of that “what should I cook for dinner tonight?” headache. I, personally, meal-prep on Sunday and Wednesday. That means Monday-Wednesday I eat the same breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, and dinner. Thursday-Saturday, same thing. Sunday is my exception day. I try to maintain healthy choices, but don’t have a set plan.

Seems easy enough, right? Everything is as enjoyable as you allow it to be. Prep and dice your vegetables while listening to music or use Pinterest to find healthy alternatives to your favorite foods. And don’t forget the tupperware! Not only are you going to need plenty of it, but you get to pick some out in all shapes and sizes. The cute little dressing ones are my favorite!

 

(Pictured above is ingredients for Chorizo Breakfast Burrito)