I restarted the BBG (Bikini Body Guide) program by Kayla Itsines a couple weeks ago and have been trying to watch what I eat so it doesn’t cancel out all my effort that I put into the daily workouts. I always seem to feel more satisfied with my meal-plan when it consists of lots of greens and vegetables. This week I have two similar salads scheduled, this BLT Pasta Salad and a BLT Caesar Pasta Salad. Yes, someone likes bacon in their salads. I will eat the BLT Pasta Salad Monday thru Wednesday and the BLT Caesar Pasta Salad Thursday and Friday. This weekend is much too eventful with the kids getting out of school, graduations and birthday parties so I will be trying to behave to the best of my advantage during such. Keyword, “trying.”
Now before you think “this recipe calls for ranch dressing AND barbecue sauce, it can’t be that healthy”; hear me out. This is 6 servings. I cut my servings in half since I’m only having this from Monday thru Wednesday. While you can choose to find a more healthier alternative to the ranch dressing (ie lite ranch, fat-free ranch, yogurt ranch) just know that you’re going to be mixing the portion of it with 6 cups of tossed romaine lettuce. Feel better?
There’s something about mixing ranch with barbecue sauce. When I didn’t watch what I ate, I used to ask for a side of ranch and a side of barbecue to dip my french fries and chicken nuggets in. It still sounds good. But not having to run for an hour and a half to work it off doesn’t, so I think I will just stick to having that ranch and barbeque in this salad.
BLT Pasta Salad
Your favorite go-to-sandwich just became a salad with pasta.
- 6 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
- 2½ cups uncooked bow-tie pasta
- 2 medium size tomatoes, diced
- 4 turkey bacon strips, fully cooked and crumbled into small pieces
- ½ cup ranch dressing
- 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce
- In a medium size saucepan over med-high heat, cook pasta according to package directions. When finished cooking, drain in a strainer over cold water to cool down completely.
- In a large bowl, add pasta, tomatoes, bacon and romaine lettuce.
- Using a small bowl, add ranch dressing and barbecue sauce. Stir to combine first, before pouring overtop pasta salad mix. Toss gently and serve immediately.
- This can be stored for 3 days in an air-tight container. Just don't add the romaine lettuce until right before serving.
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.
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.
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
Penne noodles with a homemade pesto sauce, diced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese.
- 8-ounces whole wheat penne pasta
- fresh mozzarella cheese
- 3 roma tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup pesto sauce, homemade recipe above
- 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.
- 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.
I had been sick the duration of this past weekend. During what was the nicest weather weekend that we’ve had in months, at that. So while I sat in my dark, dreary bedroom; lonesome with my magazines and my HGTV, I also didn’t cook. Understandably, no one wanted my germs. I didn’t want my germs either but I didn’t get to vote on that one. So when I started to actually feel like I could leave my room without chancing the possibility of spreading my cold plague, I planned out the food menu for the week and happily headed to the grocery store.
Most people find peace on the ocean, in the library, or in the bathtub. I find peace in the grocery store. I’m a little strange like that. I was also a little cheery that I had planned to bake a Lasagna for dinner this evening. We haven’t had Lasagna in quite some time. The sin!
There’s a reason why Lasagna is a family favorite. Be it that it’s because anyone can make it or that it’s a quick recipe; Lasagnas are the kind of meal that you can prepare mid-day and foil up in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it. That’s perfect for 99% of parents whose schedule revolves around their children’s’ schedules or work.
And while there are a lot of ways you can prepare and dress your Lasagna, the good ole Meaty Lasagna way never actually gets old.
Meaty Lasagna Casserole
- 1lb ground turkey
- package of Lasagna noodles
- 1 24-ounce jar marinara sauce
- 1½ cups ricotta cheese
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 egg
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large saucepan, boil water. Add lasagna noodles and cook according to package.
- Spray a large skillet with no-stick cooking spray. Over medium-high heat, cook ground turkey until brown, draining excess juices. Return to stove and add marinara jar, allowing to simmer.
- In a medium size bowl, add ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg and parmesan cheese. Mix well and set aside.
- Add ½ cup meat sauce to the bottom of a 9x9 casserole pan. Layer lasagna noodles length-wise, letting them slightly overlap. Next add cheese mix followed by lasagna noodles. Top with meat-sauce. Repeat layers once more.
- Sprinkle additional mozzarella cheese onto, if desired. Cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove foil and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.
When we think of pasta, we imagine a tomato sauce deliciously overlapping noodles. Spaghetti Carbonara is a little different, but the good kind of different.
The dish that originated out of Rome simply consists of egg, bacon, black pepper and cheese tangled between thin pasta noodles. Add in additional meat, vegetables to even greater the flavor.
Perfect for those with the intention of having a light dinner, or needing a quick meal to put together.
The healthier version of pasta!
- 4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
- 2 large eggs
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Whole grain spaghetti
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 4oz deli-fresh ham, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 8 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced thinly
- Fill a large saucepan 2/3 full with water for spaghetti noodles. After water is brought to a boil, cook noodles according to package.
- While noodles are cooking, whisk together eggs with 2 tablespoons cheese, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium skillet, add oil and cook garlic for 1 minute over medium heat. Next, add red pepper flakes and ham and cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- After draining noodles, add to egg mixture, stirring well with a large spoon to combine well. Add garlic and ham mixture and stir again, combining well.
- Divide among 4 plates. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese on top, along with another pinch of red pepper flakes if desired.
Spaghetti is a household staple as far as dinner for at least 2 nights per month. Sometimes even as frequent as once a week, depending on how good the spaghetti itself (or sauce) is. I like to compliment my pasta with homemade meatballs that have been soaking in marinara sauce for hours ala crockpot.
Because I’m doing my best to avoid as much processed food as possible, I’ve decided that spaghetti for me is best as natural as possible. The kids’ aren’t especially big on raw tomatoes, so they stick with the traditional spaghetti marinara, but I can get my husband to eat his spaghetti natural because he does like raw tomatoes. Phew, nothing like a night where you AREN’T the only oddball plate at dinner.
The great part about natural sauce is you can mix and choose whatever ingredient to add to it as you like. I, personally, like just a slight hint of kick so I add crushed red pepper to mine. That also helps it to not taste too bland, as it can; tomatoes are good, but let’s be honest, they aren’t really flavorful.
Suggested Ingredients: 5 diced roma tomatoes, minced garlic, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper, dried oregano, dried italian seasoning, crushed black pepper, salt.
1. Add all ingredients into a processor and only process for a few seconds. This allows the mixture to not only mix, but liquify just slightly. You do want some whole tomatoes.
Note: Processing is optional. Sometimes I just mix in a bowl and eat as is.