I spent the middle of my March Madness-on-a-Saturday afternoon online looking for some new healthy recipes for the week that I could give a try. Pinterest never fails, I found this easy (and super delicious) recipe from Gimme Some Oven that I just had to prepare for my lunches. Not only does it include just a few simple ingredients – the dressing is extremely tasty and blends well with the pasta and vegetables.
Meal prep keeps me on my toes. I’ve always believed that if you don’t plan accordingly, you’re setting yourself up to potentially slide off the path.
Luckily – this pasta salad holds well for several days. Prep away.
Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Quick take on a Mediterranean style pasta dish that's best served cold.
- 12-ounce box of farfalle pasta
- 1 English cucumber, diced
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut into halves
- 4-ounces crumbled fat-free feta cheese
- half of a medium size red onion, sliced thin
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh is best!)
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon organic honey
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- small pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- Cook pasta accordingly. Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta can be handled.
- Meanwhile, prepare lemon-herb vinaigrette dressing by whisking all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Using a large bowl, add your pasta, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onion slices. Mix well. Carefully fold feta cheese into mixture, followed by drizzling the lemon-herb vinaigrette dressing overtop. Toss salad well so that dressing is evenly spread.
- Divide between 4 bowls and serve with additional feta cheese if desired.
- The original recipe calls for olives. I don't care much for them, but if you do, feel free to add a handful to the ingredients.
Have you ever passed by the marked down aisle of food at the grocery store and wondered what you could do with any of the marked down bread? So much! Yesterday I bought a bag of french loaf pieces that was marked down to 49 cents with the intentions of making croutons out of it. I’ve got a salad planned for my lunch this week, as well as a soup and croutons go well with both.
Anyone can make their own croutons with just 4 basic ingredients and an oven. Add some spices or parmesan cheese to give them a more flavorful taste to match whatever entree you have planned to incorporate them in. I promise you won’t buy store brand croutons again!
Homemade Garlic Croutons
You can make your own croutons with just 4 ingredients and an oven.
- 4 cups of bread, cut into small cube shapes
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Add bread cubes to a large bowl. Sprinkle both garlic powder and sea salt overtop, gently stirring. Next drizzle olive oil overtop and carefully fold; making sure to coat all bread.
- Using a cookie sheet, add bread; spreading out evenly so none overlap. Cook for 10-15 minutes depending on how quickly they brown.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool 5-10 minutes before adding to your recipe or storing in a gallon size ziplock bag.
Monday, the first day that I actually am beginning to feel as normal as normal gets for me. After spending the majority of the past week either caring for someone sick or being sick myself, I was able to actually sleep soundly through the night with a cough here and there and wake up feeling refreshed enough. I had my entire weeks menu as well as my workout schedule all ready to go last week and so today I had the motivation to be productive. Happy to say I succeeded!
I started off my morning with a Egg McFitFun, a fun and healthy version of what you can find at most fast-food restaurants and discovered via my FitGirlsGuide 28 Day Jumpstart ebook. After that, I did my BBG 1.0 leg workout (FINALLY!) and proceeded to make this fantastic lunch that I stumbled across on Pinterest that this post is mostly about. Little did I know that this meal itself was big enough and as much work as an entrée is; something it would probably be more perfect for – but what the heck, I made it anyway and stashed the extra portions in the refrigerator for the next few days worth of lunch!
If you haven’t gone outside the box and made rice with anything but what the directions tell you, let me tell you – you are MISSING OUT! Don’t get me wrong, rice in itself can be delicious, but it’s a whole other world when you’re cooking it with broth and spices. I know you’ve probably already looked at number of instructions in the directions and thought “Whoa! That’s a lot!” and I thought that myself too, but the end result is absolutely worth it.
I think my favorite part about this recipe is the fact that it’s based on the combination of Ranch and BBQ sauce. Anyone else use to order a side of ranch and a side of BBQ sauce to mix together and dip their fries and chicken nuggets in as a kid? I still do it at 34. So this Hidden Valley Ranch dressing is like a dream come true for me.
BBQ Honey Ranch Chicken and Vegetable Bowl
If you haven't tried a ranch and bbq sauce combo, it's about time you did! Why not try it over this salad mix?
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into tender size pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup onion, diced
- 1 ½ cups long grain white rice
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
- I can black beans, washed and drained
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 16-ounce bottle Hidden Valley Ranch Honey BBQ Dressing
- 1 medium cucumber, sliced thin
- 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced thin
- 2 cooked ears of corn, kernels cut off cobb
- 1 avocado, sliced
- cilantro, optional
- In a large ziplock bag, add chicken pieces and 1 cup of Hidden Valley Ranch Honey BBQ Dressing. Allow marinating in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- In a medium size saucepan over med-high heat, add olive oil and allow to momentarily heat up. Next add onion and rice, stirring often; 3-5 minutes or until rice appears a light shade of brown. Add chicken broth, black beans and cumin. When rapid boiling occurs, lower heat to low setting, cover and allow to cook for 20 minutes. After, remove from heat , sitting for 5 minutes before fluffing rice mixture with a fork. Set aside.
- Using a medium size skillet, add pepper and corn with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté vegetables for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Well grease a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, allowing to cook on each side for 5-7 minutes or until chicken has grill marks. Flip and cook other side. When chicken is thoroughly cooked, remove from heat.
- In 4 bowls, add rice mixture followed by peppers, corn, cucumber and avocado. Add chicken, cilantro and drizzle additional Hidden Valley Ranch Honey BBQ Dressing on top.
If you’re like me, you’ve gone through your Pinterest feed for what feels like a gazillion times looking for some sort of “different” kind of lunch to prepare for the week. I often like to base my mid-day meals around salads or something close to, as lunch is when I like to get the majority of my greens and vegetables intake.
With today being Labor Day, the kids being home from school and a local Arts Festival going on; I wanted to get my grocery shopping done early yesterday so that I could successfully complete all my Sunday chores today and not having some spill over into the first of the week and delay any fun or relaxation for today. I started my meal-plan planning extra early because so. (Remember… fail to plan, plan to fail!) – and while things didn’t go as planned (one child is sick), my food was still ready today so I didn’t have to worry about screwing up on my new dietary!
I don’t feel like I get my share of enough egg-protein, or at least I don’t feel like I have lately. So when I opened my laptop this morning I made sure to search for a recipe that would require at least one egg or more. I can always make the staple recipe for egg salad; I could prepare it blind-folded, but I wanted something that had a little more taste to it. One where by Tuesday afternoon, I’m already sure that come Wednesday’s lunch time I will be wanting anything BUT what I’ve already got prepared. And so I ran across this recipe for a Cobb Egg Salad from Lemon Tree Dwelling that had one key ingredient that won me over – dry ranch dressing mix. I like to use my dry ranch with yogurt for a healthier take on ranch dressing for dipping some veggie sticks in. If you love ranch, you can’t really go wrong with this dressing mix.
Another great thing about egg salad is how quickly you can prep it. Sure, if you’re not much of an hard-boiled egg peeler it can take *some* time, but I promise with practice and correct technique you’ll get the knack of doing it. Afterall, it took me months but I finally got it and I can proudly say that today I peeled 6 eggs in under 10 minutes. That’s an accomplishment! The rest of the ingredients though – super easy to assemble and throw into a bowl. Almost too easy.
Ranch-Style Cobb Salad
If egg salad and cobb salad were to meet in an alley, and egg happened to have brought ranch with him and cobb, arugula lettuce - this would be the outcome. Enjoy this recipe with rye crackers, as a salad or on a sandwich. Perfect for both parties and for meal-prepped lunches for the week.
- 6 large eggs, hard boiled and peeled
- 4 pieces cooked turkey bacon, crumbled into small pieces
- 4 tablespoons lite mayonnaise
- ½ dry ranch dressing mix
- ¼ cup grape tomatoes, diced
- ¼ cup celery, diced small
- ¼ teaspoon green onions, sliced thin
- ¼ cup chopped arugula lettuce
- ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Hard-boil your eggs; bringing your pot of water and eggs to a raging boil over medium-high heat. When this has happened, turn off heat and cover pot with a lid allowing to sit for 12 minutes. Run cold water over eggs before attempting to peel. After eggs have been peeled, chop into small pieces.
- Using a large mixing bowl add eggs, bacon, tomatoes, arugula and cheese. Next add mayonnaise and dry ranch dressing mix, stirring gently but combining well. Serve or store in a tight-closed container for later.
- Original recipe can be found at Lemon Tree Dwelling (www.lemontreedwelling.com) - I added a few extra vegetables, etc of my own to their own delicious recipe.
This may be the easiest salad I have ever prepped before! Aside from washing blueberries, the only thing you really have to put together is the dressing and that’s easy when you have a salad mixer. This one from Crate and Barrel is fantastic; I love how well it combines the ingredients together.
Arugula Power Salad with Blueberries and Honey-Lemon Dressing
A delicious salad made of power greens, blueberries, sliced almonds, feta cheese and a honey-lemon dressing drizzled overtop.
- 5-ounces arugula, kale, butter and spinach lettuce
- 1½ cup fresh blueberries
- 2-ounces feta cheese
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons pure honey
- 1½ tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- pinch of black pepper
- Add all salad ingredients into a large bowl prior to making dressing.
- In a smaller bowl, add all dressing ingredients and whisk well. Drizzle over salad. Toss to cover evenly and serve.
A lot of meal plans that I have seen in the past have included a hard boiled egg at some point, be it with an entree or as a mid-day snack. I’ll be the first to admit that while I do tend to eat a lot of eggs for breakfast or as a quick and easy snack, I do not necessarily like them. I never have and I’m way past the “you just may grow to like them” stage. However, there are some circumstances where they taste a little more enjoyable to me, and in a cobb salad is one. I’m not sure if it’s because of the dressing or the ingredients that they’re paired up with; they’re just much more tolerable.
But if you’re an egg lover, then chances are you’ll love this salad as well. It’s simple to make, and really doesn’t take much preparation effort aside from cooking the bacon and hard-boiling the eggs. And the dressing is light and delicious.
Funny thing about these pictures – if you’ve already scrolled down and looked at the recipe ingredients, you know that it calls for blue cheese. Yes, that’s shredded mozzarella cheese in the picture. I had full intentions of eating this Cobb salad with blue cheese and didn’t pick up any at the grocery this week because I made my list knowing that I had a container in the refrigerator whose expiration date wasn’t even close to today’s date.
Don’t trust those expiration dates.
After preparing everything and assembling, I got to the part where I add the cheese and went to open the container. The FOULEST smell, hit me so hard it almost knocked me out! Not to mention that the entire amount was covered with more blue than you typically see. Again, expiration date? The end of August. There was no way I was using that, so I tossed it in a plastic grocery bag and walked it to the garage dumpster verses even taking the chance of smelling that in the trash container in the house. So gross. So THAT’S why I used mozzarella cheese. Tastes good with this version, and you know – if you don’t like blue cheese, you can always substitute it with other cheese choices such as goat cheese, mozzarella, or feta. Whatever is on your plate is always your pick of the crop! Enjoy.
Good ol' fashion cobb salad recipe with a homemade red wine vinaigrette dressing.
- 2 cups romaine lettuce
- 4 hardboiled eggs, peeled and sliced
- 3 roma tomatoes, diced
- 6 slices cooked turkey bacon, crumbled
- ½ cup blue cheese crumbles
- ¼ cup avocado, optional
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon pure honey
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Using a small bowl, mix together all ingredients for dressing with a whisk until well combined.
- Align a plate with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, turkey bacon, egg slices and blue cheese crumbles. Drizzle dressing overtop.
We’re in the process of moving here shortly. Movin’ for the most part is fun because you’re either getting your own place, upgrading to a bigger home or about to live in a whole new city/state. We bought a home, had it gutted and added on additional square feet so it’s basically a brand new build. That makes it twice as exciting. But the packing up is not exciting at all. You don’t realize how much junk you own until it’s time to divide between what to box up and what to throw away. I guess that’s why most hoarders don’t move.
Inbetween packing this week, I will be spending a few hours here and there at the local pool to get some vitamin d for my pale skin. I have planned a easy sesame noodle bowl for my lunch and while some would prefer such a meal hot, I will be eating my chilled from sitting inside a portable cooler. Still same taste, but the being served cold will definitely help a cool down from the heat – it’s in the 90’s this week!
Easy Sesame Noodle Bowl
An easy meal made in 15 minutes tops that can be served cold or hot and with or without vegetables.
- 12-ounces lo-mein egg noodles, cooking accordingly
- 4 green onions, sliced thin
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 4 tablespoons canola oil
- snap peas, optional
- cabbage slices, optional
- green pepper slices, optional
- diced cucumber, optional
- Cook noodles according to package directions. In the meantime, cut green onions. When noodles have finished cooking, drain in strainer. Using a large bowl, add noodles and set aside.
- Add remaining sauce ingredients into a medium size bowl. Whisk well and pour into large bowl of noodles and green onions. Use a large spoon or tongs to combine noodles and sauce well.
- Sprinkle with green onions and any additionally vegetables you like.
Quick lunch alert! It’s pool season and if you’re like me; you are attempting to not only eat healthy at all times, but also avoid the ridiculously overpriced pool food. I love pizza as much as the next person, so I have to remind myself how long it would take to burn those pizza calories off on the elliptical (it’s 60 minutes) each time I see a child walk by with a slice on their plate.
White Bean Tuna Salad is packed with protein and inexpensive to make. While all beans are low-calorie and cholesterol free; I used a can of Northern Beans because I know that in just a single cup there’s nearly 4 of iron. And that’s not the only benefit – they’re also a great source of dietary fiber, protein and potassium. Which makes the “did you get your beans in today?” phrase make sense.
White Bean Tuna Salad
A light take on a tuna and bean salad. This tastes great on it's on, on top of a slice of grain bread or crackers.
- 15-ounce can Northern Beans
- 5-ounce can chunk light tuna in water
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lite mayonnaise
- salt and pepper, for taste
- Rinse and drain beans using a colander. Set aside.
- Add can of tuna to a small bowl after draining excess juice in sink. Pat dry with a paper towel. Next, add beans to tuna followed by green onion slices, lemon juice, olive oil and mayonnaise. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper over-top and mix well.
- Chill in refrigerator momentarily before serving.
I was extremely excited about making this dessert for the first time. I’ve had it at my in-laws before and had never really entertained the idea of trying to recreate it myself until we went strawberry picking a couple weeks ago. Ever since I’ve had a fridge full of berries; I’ve kept imagining how beautiful food pictures would turn out because of the vibrant red color. Plus this would be a great dessert for a upcoming fourth of July party so I had better get my practice in now.
And so because of the strawberries + jello’s deep red hue and because it was a really nice day out, I thought there was no way I was not getting a handful of great pictures to share along with the recipe.
Chances are that if people are too excited to serve and devour it, you’re not getting a very time lengthy photo-op. Just take your dessert that you spent a few hours slaving over (I’m being dramatic) and eat it. If it’s good enough, you’ll bake it again. And this dessert was beyond good enough.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
- 6-ounce package strawberry Jell-o
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1lb fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced into small pieces
- 2 cups salted pretzels
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 8-ounce tub of cool whip, thawed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using cooking spray, well grease a 13x9 pan. Set aside.
- Combine strawberry jell-o in medium sauce pan after two cups of water are boiling. Stir well until mixed and lower heat allowing to cool down to room temperature.
- Using a large ziplock bag, crush two cups of pretzels using a rolling pin.
- In a medium size saucepan, add butter and allow to melt over med-high heat. Add ¼ cup granulated sugar, whisking well. Next add crushed pretzels and stir with a wooden spoon. When pretzel mix is combined well, add it to 13x9 pan; pressing to the bottom and edges are evenly covered. Set aside and allow to cool down to room temperature.
- In a large mixing bowl, add cream cheese and ½ cup granulated sugar. Use a hand mixer to beat mixture until it appears fluffy and light. Add whip cream and gently fold in until everything is combined completely. Spread overtop pretzel mixture evenly and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Next add strawberry slices to jell-o. Stir well. Pour overtop whipped cream mixture; spreading evenly. Return to refrigerator and allow to cool 2-4 hours before serving chilled.
It should be mandatory for all salads to include at least one fruit topping. I happen to love fruit so the more, the better in my case. So with that being said, I present to you the holy grail of fruit in a salad:
Paired with chicken, slivered almonds and feta cheese.
Balsamic Chicken and Fruit Spinach Salad
- 4 cups baby spinach
- ½ cup fresh blueberries
- ½ cup fresh strawberries
- ½ cup mandarine oranges
- 3 tablespoons feta cheese
- 3 tablespoons slivered almonds
- 2 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Add all salad ingredients into one large bowl. Drizzle dressing over-top and divide between two large bowls.