Stovetop Mac and Cheese

I love this recipe! I decided to make mac and cheese this past weekend and I was so excited/ surprised it worked out! First of all, I had to use whole wheat noodles since that was all I had. I am all about whole grains, but sometimes WW pasta just doesn’t cut it. I added more salt than usual to the pasta water and it made a huge difference! Just think of all the flour that goes into making pasta, it needs some salt for flavor!

IMG_4350

Next I made the cheese sauce. I have never made it before so I wasn’t sure what would happen. I also used SKIM MILK- what? And no cream. The butter + flour roux thickened up the milk really nicely. The trick is to use a whisk to break up the roux into the milk.

IMG_4352

Same when you add the cheese, whisk whisk whisk. Lastly, I added some dry mustard into the sauce. This is the secret ingredient- it really brings out the salty, cheese flavor of the sauce. Delicious!

IMG_4354

This recipe is SO EASY. It took me less than 30 minutes to make. 30 minutes for a thick, creamy, delicious, lighted-up mac and cheese….win! I didn’t run it through a calorie counter or anything because come in- it is cheesy pasta. But I know that this is healthier than a boxed version because it has whole grains, less sodium (I’m sure) and way less preservatives/ strange chemical ingredients! You could also dump the mac and cheese into a casserole dish, top with breadcrumbs and throw it into a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. I was too impatient, but if you think ahead this would make it even more yummy.

IMG_4359

Stovetop Mac and Cheese 

Ingredients: 

1/2 cup whole wheat pasta noodles (I used penne but any will work)

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 cup skim milk

salt and pepper

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (the stronger the better)

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Directions: 

1. Cook pasta according to box directions, be sure to salt the water!

2. Melt butter in a large stock pan, once melted stir in the flour and let cook 1 minute.

3. Meanwhile heat the milk in the microwave just to take of the chill. I did it in a coffee mug.

4. Whisk in the milk until there are no lumps and the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Once the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes or so, add the cheese and dry mustard. Make sure to whisk the cheese or it won’t get smooth!

6. Drain the pasta and combine with the sauce.

Enjoy! 

 

Chicken Apple Salad

One of the perks of being in the nutrition profession is free samples. Yup- super great perk. I received this salad dressing a while back from a food expo and have been meaning to create a salad to try it out with! I threw this together for a quick weeknight meal.

IMG_4328

I did a meal prep night and chopped up a ton of veggies for stir fry and sandwiches as well as fruit for the week. I took a little cucumber here and carrot there to add to this salad but you could add ANY veggies you like. I would recommend adding the cucumber though, it tastes awesome with the apple!

IMG_4329

I like the combo of sweet and salty from the apple and feta cheese. The chicken is a good source of protein and I also LOVE adding warm elements like chicken or beans onto cold salad.

IMG_4331

This dressing was a tiny bit sweet for me but it paired nicely with all of the ingredients! I also threw in some homemade croutons– I will never go back to store bought croutons or crouton-less salad. I love my homemade version!

IMG_4333

Chicken Apple Salad

Ingredients: 

1 chicken breast or 2 chicken tenders, thawed

Romaine Lettuce

Cucumber, peeled and sliced

Apple, cored and sliced

Feta cheese

Other veggies (I used carrot and yellow pepper)

Homemade croutons

Your favorite dressing

Directions: 

1. Cook chicken thoroughly either in a pan on the stove or grilled. Slice into bite size pieces.

2. Meanwhile combine lettuce, apple, cheese, veggies and croutons. Top with chicken and dressing

 

Garlicky Chickpea Pasta

Oh my goodness I can’t even remember how long it has been since I’ve written a blog post! Too long! I have had a LOT of things going on that have resulted in scrambled eggs, grilled cheese and Panera for dinner. Things like applying for jobs and dealing with apartment flooding have taken priority (go figure).

IMG_4297

I had some spare time in the evenings this past week and actually cooked a healthy balanced meal for myself. And to share with you! This pasta is one of the best dishes I’ve made- no doubt. I got inspiration from this book. Such a great read about using every bit of every food. I also had a tiny bit of leftover cheese from one of my dietitian preceptors that she brought back for me from SPAIN. Yum

IMG_4300

I had some garlic cloves, a can of chickpeas in the back of my pantry and dried pasta. I threw in some spices and spinach and dinner was done! This is definitely a 30 minute meal and super filling. Even though I am not a labeled vegetarian, I eat a lot of vegetarian style meals. This one is a new fav!

IMG_4304

Side note about garlic, I have major issues with it. I love the taste and how it elevates dishes. BUT any time I eat raw or lightly sauteed garlic I taste it for days after. It seeps out of my pores all day and gives me a nice garlic perfume. I have roasted it before which makes it super sweet and gets rid of the bite. For this dish, I infused a bit of olive oil with garlic until the cloves were nice and brown then I took them out. Worked perfectly! I got all of the flavor from the garlic cloves, but it didn’t stick with me.

IMG_4313

Try this pasta next time you are stuck for a weeknight meal!

IMG_4310

Garlicky Chickpea Pasta

Ingredients: 

1/4th box Dried pasta (White or Whole Wheat)

1/2 cup frozen spinach

4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 can low sodium Chickpeas

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon spice blend (I used Trader Joes 21 Seasoning Salute which is similar to Mrs. Dash)

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese (use something strong!)

Directions: 

1. Cook pasta according to box directions, add frozen spinach to the boiling water with about 3 minutes left.

2. Meanwhile heat the olive oil with the garlic, salt, pepper and spice blend. Once the garlic is browned and fragrant, remove and discard.

3. Add chickpeas to olive oil mixture. Toss to coat and heat through.

4. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and toss with oil and chickpeas. Top with grated cheese.

Enjoy!

 

BBQ Chicken Pizza

The other day I was doing weekly shopping at Trader Joes and ran into a friend who used to WORK there. Omg- so awesome. She showed me all of the best things to buy. I picked up a bag of individually frozen chicken tenders. I stuck 4 in my crock pot with some water, salt and pepper and let it go on low all day. When I came home I threw together this pizza.

IMG_4235

So easy and delicious! When I was brainstorming making this pizza for dinner I got stuck on veggies to go on the pizza (to make it healthier, of course). Spinach? No. Olives? Not so much. I ended up with super thinly sliced red peppers and onion. Topped it’s with a little bit of BBQ sauce. Such a great combo.

IMG_4237

I used a pizza kit that I bought from a friend’s fundraiser but you could use any pre-made pizza dough. I’ve shared a few other pizzas on this blog (cracker crisp, french bread), which could also be made into BBQ chicken pizza.

IMG_4240

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Ingredients:

Pre-made pizza crust

1/4 cup pizza sauce

1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced

1/4th white onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup cooked chicken, shredded

1/4th cup mozzerella cheese

2 tablespoons jarred BBQ sauce

Directions: 

1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Spread sauce all over the dough.

2. Top with chicken, veggies and cheese. Drizzle with BBQ sauce.

3. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

(I mean do you really need directions to make a pizza? Do it your way!) 

Throwing it Together

Lately I’ve been so uninspired, as you can tell from my total lack of recipe posts. The past few weeks I’ve been eating lots of eggs, sandwiches and leftovers. When I do cook something, its a meal that I’ve already posted. There have been a few things I’ve done that are so easy that I didn’t even consider posting about them. Now that I’ve collected a few easy tricks I thought I could make a blog post out of it. The title really says it all, I’ve been throwing meals together. I have parts and pieces of meals stuffed into my freezer and leftover in my fridge. Some of these included a sad sweet potato, half a can of beans and carrot sticks (attempt at a healthy snack).

A few weeks ago I used a super cool feature in my rice cooker. I cooked brown rice as usual in the main part. And omg have I talked about how much I love my rice cooker? So easy to cook perfect grains- I put in the ratio spelled out on the bag/box and then the rice cooker SHUTS OFF when it’s done. I think it senses when all of the liquid is absorbed. I don’t even have to set a timer. Anyway, I digress. With the brown rice cooking in the main part, I thought I would try out the steamer insert. You know, one of those parts that kind of stays in the box unused because what is that? It fits on top of the main bowl and the steam from the rice cooks whatever is in the steamer basket at the same time. I put mushrooms and frozen edamame in the top and then mixed it all together once it was done. The veggies flavored the brown rice without any salt, fat or seasoning. I stuck bags of the mix into the freezer for later. I told my mom about my new find and she told me to blog about it, to which I said but the pictures are ugly! And she told me not to say that on the blog….oops.

IMG_4220

Those leftovers turned into fried rice for dinner tonight. I roasted off the sweet potatoes while I was doing other meal prep and chopped some of the carrot. I stir fried all of it with some other veggies, the rice mix from the freezer and an egg. Quick dinner and really easy. I was pleased to have dinner on the table, use up my veggies and battle feeling uninspired by throwing together a bunch of odds and ends into something delicious.

Earlier in the week when I was doing some meal prep I chopped up an onion, the rest of the carrot and combined it with veggie stock and the rest of the beans. Easy bean soup! I totally can’t even post it as a recipe because it was so easy, but now I have something I can eat for a quick lunch or dinner that tastes really good. Having veggies chopped or easily accessible makes it a lot easier for me to avoid eating out or snacking for dinner. It was a nice reminder than I don’t need a new recipe or creative juices flowing to make a good satisfying dinner.

A Trip to the Store

I don’t have a typical Wednesday recipe today….due to lack of meal inspiration. Instead I am going to talk about meal planning and how I found some inspiration at the grocery store. Something that struck me while listening to talks at the conference was that people hate to grocery shop! I learned that on average, people are in the grocery store for 19 minutes. This blew my mind- I could never get in and out of the store in 19 minutes!

IMG_3712

<I wrote about what I bought at the grocery store and what I made here and here>

Yesterday I went in completely uninspired. I had no idea what I was going to buy or make for dinners this week. Maybe you have heard people talk about how their weekly meals are inspired by the fresh produce at the store or market. I have a hard time with this because I like to meal plan and I think all of the produce usually looks pretty good or they don’t have anything I want. But I went into the store today with a general plan to check out the veggies and buy what looked good. And it helped with my meal planning slump! I got veggies to make stir fry noodles, a mediterranean salad, green beans with almonds and white chili.

IMG_3285

<My original meal prepping post is here>

I usually don’t buy food for the week on a whim. I always have a list and a plan. Even yesterday when I went in I had the plan to stick with veggies. Recently I picked up this cute magnetic meal planning list and love it. Prior to that I was planning out my meals on notebook paper. What I do is plan dinners for 2 weeks and then have leftovers for lunch. I always plan in a few easy dinners like egg sammies or nachos. I then put a shopping list together. Extras like fruit, milk, Cheerios and string cheese are always on my list as well.  Ideally, I do some meal prep on Sunday or during the week if I don’t have a chance on Sunday. I put together parts of meals- roasted veggies, cooked quinoa, hard boiled eggs, washed fruit etc. Then during the week I just throw a meal together, this is ideal of course (so it doesn’t always happen).

IMG_3896

<You can find this cute paper pad here and here>

So the moral of this story- try to meal plan! It helps save money and time in the grocery store. It helps me feel less stressed during the week and helps avoid the 5PM question of what am I going to eat? (and scrambled eggs for dinner). But along those same lines, don’t forget to feel inspired in the grocery store. I think many think of shopping as a chore, but try to have fun in the grocery store! Check out the produce, try to find deals and be inspired by other’s carts (my favorite creeper habit).

Babaga-hummus

I’ve had chickpeas and tahini sitting on my counter all week waiting to be made into hummus. But I had a flooding fiasco which led to a giant, loud fan in my apartment. And also qdoba for dinner instead of delicious homemade food, so I could have some quiet at night :)
20140518-215515.jpg
Long story short, I finally got around to making hummus this weekend when I had a break at home (and clean carpet)!
20140518-215529.jpg
Earlier in the week an old friend asked for a summer recipe with eggplant, other than eggplant parm. I love babaganoush, which is roasted eggplant mixed with tahini. And I was all ready to make hummus. So I decided to mix the two.
20140518-215545.jpg
Hummus is super easy and cheap to make. I like this version way better than any store bought I’ve had. The eggplant gives a deep, rich flavor and makes this a really unique hummus.
20140518-215602.jpg
Babaga-hummus
Ingredients
1 large eggplant
1 can low sodium chickpeas
1/4th onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Directions
1. Poke holes in the eggplant, roast in a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes. For the last 5 or so minutes, add the onion and garlic tossed with a little olive oil. It will sizzle but don’t worry and only leave it in for about 5 minutes.
2. Let the eggplant cool. Cut lengthwise and scoop the flesh into a food processor with the onion, garlic, lemon juice, chickpeas and tahini. Pulse until everything is combined and fairly smooth.
3. Add oil to get your desired smoothness. I like it a bit chunky. Season with salt and pepper.