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{crazy} healthy mint chocolate chip milkshake

my daily green smoothie recipe is getting a bit redundant.  pb2, frozen banana, milk and spinach.  easy and yummy but i wanted something new.  something fresh.  something green and minty.  my favorite ice cream flavor is mint chocolate chip.  this flavor was the inspiration.

1 cup milk
1 banana (mine was peeled and frozen)
3 cups baby spinach
1/4-1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (a little goes a LONG way!)
1 sprig fresh mint leaves
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
3 cups ice cubes
2 tablespoons chocolate chocolate chips

blend all ingredients except for chocolate chips until smooth. add more milk if mixture is too thick to turn. add chocolate and pulse until ground into chunky pieces. transfer to glasses.

yesterday i bought mint chocolate chip ice cream.  like no other ice cream before, it is still in our freezer.  i made one of these last night and it hit the craving.  super healthy.  ridiculously delicious.  i see many more of these in my future.


{it has been a while} weekly menu

i can’t remember the last time i made and posted a weekly menu.  dinners have consisted of a lot of our freezer meals that i made a while back and green smoothies with yogurt.  we eat so. much. yogurt it is a little embarrassing when we are at the grocery.  i want to have a bit more structure and thought it was a good habit to get back into.

sunday

breakfast: greek goddess {it’s amazing and worth the calories!} honey yogurt. udi’s gluten free granola. + pineapple, banana, orange green smoothie.

lunch: udi’s gluten free individual frozen pizza. they are for reals yummy and have reasonable calories and sodium levels.

dinner:  {i am clearly in the mood for pizza} homemade pizza.  i buy the “against the grain” gluten free crust in the frozen section.  tonight i will top with homemade pesto from our garden, fresh tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese.

monday

breakfast: yogurt and granola.

lunch:  “elvis” green smoothie.  overnight oats.

dinner:  grocery shopping dinner date night out. probably mediterranean, if i know my husband.

tuesday

breakfast: yogurt and granola.

lunch:  out and about.

dinner: soccer night so the husband eats out and i at home.  i will probably go with overnight oats since i am eating out for lunch.

wednesday

breakfast:  green smoothie = frozen blueberries, frozen banana, fresh orange and spinach.

lunch:  udi’s gluten free individual frozen pizza. {my hump day splurge}

dinner:  taco salad night.  fresh romaine lettuce with all the fixin’s: ground turkey, corn, black beans, sautéed red peppers and onions with salsa as the “dressing.”

thursday

breakfast:  yogurt and granola.

lunch:  leftover taco salad.

dinner:  blueberry chia pancakes.

friday

breakfast:  green smoothie. yogurt and granola.

lunch: overnight oats.

dinner: healthy sausage and egg sandwich. yogurt and fruit.

saturday

breakfast: yogurt and granola.

lunch: out and about.

dinner:  {potbelly copycat salad} romaine lettuce, red grapes, grilled/roasted chicken breast, walnuts, sliced apples, dried cranberries.

 

what will y’all be eating this week?


chocolate chia seed pudding {yum!}

oh chia seeds.  i have declared my love for these little seeds a while back but had gotten out of the habit of eating them.  this week, i found my bag and went to town. the husband picked on me at first but now he is a believer.  they are easier to digest than flax seeds and have more benefits.  they absorb 10 times their weight in water to help you feel fuller and reduce food cravings.  plus they are the richest plant source of omega-3s, even more than salmon!

i mix them in smoothies and in yogurt, everyday.  there isn’t any taste but a little crunch.  i love it!  it is fun to watch them grow and grow when i put them into my smoothies.  last night i wanted to make a little something special for the husband.  i personally, love the rainy, cloudy weather.  seattle and me would get along.  the husband, on the other hand, needs the sun.  since we haven’t seen the sun since sunday {and still no sight} he had been feeling a little down.  typically, i would go to the chocolate chip cookies.  but i really wanted to make a “treat” that had health benefits.  a quick search later, i found chocolate chia seed pudding.

the recipe:

2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 C unsweetened almond milk {or your favorite dairy alternative}
2 tbsp agave, brown rice syrup, maple syrup or stevia to taste {i used maple syrup}
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla

mix all the ingredients together. it may take a little time to incorporate the cocoa, but eventually it will. after everything is mixed, cover and leave on your counter for at least 20 minutes before enjoying. or you can leave it in the fridge overnight and enjoy the next day. the chia seeds continue to absorb the liquid they are in, so you may need to water your pudding down with some more almond milk if you leave it till the next day. you can top your pudding with fresh fruit or just eat it plain.

the consistency was like tapioca pudding and it was super tasty.  success!

since counting calories, strictly, dinners have been a lot of “fend for yourself” nights.  i typically will make a green smoothie for the both of us and then the husband will eat something else on his own.  one meal that i found that is super easy to pull together and under 400 calories is a stir fry.  i chop up 1 onion, 2 bell peppers {the more colorful the better}, 4 sausage link {i keep the flavors of this dish different but switching up the sausage. last night this was bison with jalapeño and the last time it was chicken with apple and maple.  no matter the flavor, make sure you read the ingredients and buy sausage that has been minimally processed.  if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.}, a little garlic and thats it.  sometimes i add a can of white beans if i have calories to spare.

super healthy dinner that is super quick.  if i am cooking, this is mostly likely what i have made.


6 freezer meals for fall {october}

i love fall cooking.  stews, soups, chilis.  all comfort food in my book.  lucky for the waistline, stews, soups, and chilis can be pretty darn low calorie.  we still have a couple meals left in the freezer but i could tell the husband and i were a little bored of the rotation so i thought it a perfect time to make up six new meals.  when i first started freezer cooking i was using the aluminum pans.  aluminum has some scary research in terms of cooking with it and the connection to alzheimer’s, so i quickly began searching for other alternatives.  for soups and such i found these plastic containers that are freezer safe on amazon.  i try to use glass as much as possible (double bonus, it can go into the over without more dirty dishes) and am slowly adding portion control glassware to my collection.

to see my previous recipes for freezer cooking click the following, here and here.

whenever i am prepping for freezer meal cook day, i first assemble all my recipes and ingredients.  then i figure out what i can do ahead of time, this time around i cooked a whole chicken in the crock pot the day before.  two of my recipes used shredded chicken, so i would split the chicken between those two meals, and then overnight i made chicken stock.  i saved having to buy chicken stock at the store and used the fresh stock i had just made in my recipes the next day.  plus, homemade chicken stock tastes so much better.  i just froze the rest.

here is my recipe for slow cooking a whole chicken and making homemade stock.

i did learn this the hard way, when freezing glass jars, make sure you use jars that are wide mouth.  when they taper in at the top (regular mouth) they can break when frozen.  and they will.  chicken stock and broken glass is not a good time.

with the shredded chicken i made the following, chicken pot pie soup and chicken enchiladas.

{ chicken pot pie soup }

ingredients:

1/4 cup flour (to make gluten-free use 2 tbsp cornstarch instead)
2 cups water
4 cups milk
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1/2 medium chopped onion
8 oz sliced baby portabella mushrooms
2 chicken bouillons
fresh ground pepper
pinch of thyme
10 oz frozen classic mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, green beans, corn)
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed small
16 oz cooked chicken breast, diced small
salt

directions:

create a slurry by combining 1/2 cup of the cold water with flour or cornstarch in a medium bowl and whisk until well blended. set aside.

pour remaining water and milk into a large pot and slowly bring to a boil. add celery, onion, mushrooms, chicken bullion, thyme, fresh pepper, frozen vegetables and return to a boil. partially cover and simmer on low until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. remove lid, add potatoes and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. add chicken, and slowly whisk in slurry, stirring well as you add. cook another 2-3 minutes, until soup thickens, adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve.

{ chicken enchiladas }

ingredients:

for the sauce:
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tbsp chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3/4 cup fat free chicken broth
kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste

for the chicken:
1 tsp vegetable oil
8.5 oz (2 breast halves) cooked shredded chicken breast
1 cup diced onion
2 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup cilantro
kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup tomato sauce
corn tortillas

directions:

in a medium saucepan, spray oil and sauté garlic. add chipotle chiles, chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. bring to a boil. reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. set aside until ready to use.

heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. sauté onions and garlic on low until soft, about 2 minutes. add chicken, salt, cilantro, cumin, oregano, chili powder, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and cook 4 to 5 minutes. remove from heat. to assemble, i didn’t roll the enchiladas because corn tortillas don’t roll easily.  i just make a enchilada casserole.  i layered enchilada sauce, tortillas, chicken and repeat until at the top.  when i bake these i will sprinkle a little cheese on top.

{ spinach lasagna }

ingredients:

9 lasagna noodles, cooked (gluten free, i like tinkyada)
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained
15 oz fat free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
salt and fresh pepper
32 oz tomato sauce
9 tbsp (about 3 oz) part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

directions:

combine spinach, ricotta, parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of freezer dishes. layer lasagna noodles then cheese mixture then sauce.

{ 3 Bean Chili }
Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes

ingredients:

1 lb meat, turkey, beef, bison. whatever your fancy.
1 small onion, chopped
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (16 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (4.5 oz) can chopped chilies, drained
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, undrained
1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, undrained
1 (15.5 oz) can small red beans, undrained
2 tbsp chili powder

directions:

brown meat and onion in a medium skillet over medium high heat until cooked through. add the beans, chilies, chickpeas tomatoes, tomato sauce and chili powder mixing well.

{ chorizo lentil soup }

ingredients:

1 pound chorizo sausage
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 can (15 Oz. Size) cannellini beans, drained
1 can (15 Oz. Size) fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup dried lentils
2 cups chicken stock
6 cups fresh chopped spinach
salt and pepper, to taste

directions:

in a big stockpot, brown the chorizo in a little bit of vegetable oil, stirring constantly, until almost done, about 5-7 minutes. add in the cannelini beans, tomatoes, lentils, and chicken stock and stir until combined. bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes until the lentils are soft and tender.

remove from heat and stir in the spinach; cover for about 5 minutes to let it wilt. season with salt and pepper to taste.

one of my tips for freezer cooking day is to use all burners, the crock pot is totally a burner! i started the day off with prepping my corned beef and cabbage stew and tossing it in the crock pot.  by the end of the day, it was done and ready to freeze.

{ corned beef and cabbage soup }

ingredients:

2 tsp olive oil
2 leeks, chopped (whites and light green only)
2 cloves garlic
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 lb lean corned beef brisket (yields 9 oz cooked)
6 cups of water
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
1 small head cabbage, cored and chopped
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
fresh pepper to taste

directions:

in a pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium low heat. add leeks and sauté until soft, about 4-5 minutes; add garlic, carrots and yellow pepper and sauté about 2-3 minutes.

into the crock pot, add corned beef, peppercorns or seasoning packet that comes with the corned beef, bay leaves, parsley, water, and vegetable mixture. covered on low heat for 6-8 hours, until the meat becomes tender.

remove the corned beef, set it on a cutting board and shred with a fork. return it to the pot then add the cabbage and potatoes, taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed. cook until the potatoes and cabbage are tender, about 45 more minutes.

enjoy!


5 healthy freezer meal recipes + 4 hours = 21 meals.

my food budget this month is out of control amazing. we have never eaten more at home.  to say i am obsessed with freezer meals would be quite the understatement.  now that i have a few under my belt, it is time to really focus on healthy freezer meals.  i also did a break down of cost per 2 serving meals.

$102.44 spent at trader joe’s.  i had several ingredients on hand so that definitely helped.  i used 5 recipes which made 21 meals, meals being 2 servings per meal.  that comes out to $4.87 per meal for the two of us.  besides the cost savings, the fact that i have ready meals that just need to be thawed and then reheated.  it makes meal planning and eating at home such a no brainer.

to see what i made during my first attempt at freezer meals, click here. to see slow cooker freezer meals, click here. still want more slow cooker meals, click here.

the first recipe is for black bean taco soup.

ingredients:
1 lb lean ground beef (or ground turkey works too!)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 package mild taco seasoning mix or make your own
1 (16 oz) bag frozen corn
1 (16 oz) can black beans drained and rinsed
2 (14 oz) cans stewed tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilis

directions:

  • brown meat and onion in a stock pot, drain.
  • stir the remaining ingredients into the pot, mix together.
  • pour soup into freezer safe containers.  (i bought these bpa free containers from amazon.)
  • freeze.
i found on pinterest lots of “crock pot” recipes that are pre made.  crock pot meals are already a favorite of mine and this just takes the ease to a whole new level.  basically, you assemble all the goods in a bag, freeze until ready to throw into the crock pot to cook.  no worries if you have all the ingredients, it is already together.

ingredients for cilantro lime chicken with corn and black beans: this recipe makes two bags, which for us is two meals per bag.

6-8 chicken breasts
4 Tbs olive oil
2+ limes, juiced
2 (16oz) bags of frozen corn
4 minced garlic cloves
1 finely chopped onion
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp cumin or chipotle powder
salt and pepper to taste

directions:

  • take ingredients and split everything into two freezer safe containers. i used ziploc bags.
  • mix bag by shaking, seal, label and put in the freezer.
  • cooking instructions: cook in crockpot on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

a friend of mine posted this chili link the other day on her blog.  i immediately wanted to try it.  the weather is getting cooler and it is perfect chili weather.  plus it has super healthy ingredients, perfect for my quest for healthy freezer meals.  look at all those colors.  freezer meals do not have to be bland and void of nutrients!

here is the original bean chili with walnuts and chocolate recipe. i adapted it slightly for the freezer.

ingredients:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 fresh chili, minced (more if you like it spicy)
1 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
2 bell pepper, red & yellow, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and finely chopped – i did not include a parsnip. i am VERY allergic.
2 large stalks of celery with top greens, finely chopped
150 g raw walnuts, very finely chopped
800 g cooked mixed beans (adzuki, kidney, black eye, borlotti)
2 x 400 g cans whole plum tomatoes
1 cup (240 ml) water
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) balsamic vinegar
70 g 80% dark chocolate, broken in pieces

directions:

  • start by preparing all vegetables.
  • heat oil in a large thick-bottomed saucepan or dutch oven. add onion, garlic, cumin, chili, paprika and oregano, and let fry for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally, until the spices smells fragrant.
  • add bell pepper, carrot, and celery, let cook for another couple of minutes.
  • add walnuts, beans, tomatoes, water and salt
  • add balsamic vinegar and chocolate, stir around carefully.
  • taste and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • place into freezer safe containers.

 

to get away from pasta heavy freezer meals, i found a recipe for stuffed cabbage.  i calculated this recipe to be approximately 200 calories per serving without cheese.

ingredients:

2 tsp olive oil, divided
1 lb. 95% lean ground beef – i used ground turkey.
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 tbsp finely minced garlic
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp paprika
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 heads green cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 can (14.5 oz.) petite dice tomatoes with juice
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups low-fat mozzarella cheese

directions:

  • heat a large frying pan on medium heat; add ground meat and cook until it’s browned and cooked through, breaking it apart as it cooks.
  • in the same pan, add 1 tsp olive oil, chopped onion and cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent and starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
  • add the minced garlic, dried thyme, and paprika and cook about 2 minutes more.
  • add the diced tomatoes with juice, tomato sauce. add water to the pan. simmer until it’s hot and slightly thickened, about 15-20 minutes.
  • while it simmers, cut cabbage in half, cut out the core, and remove any wilted outer leaves; chop the cabbage coarsely into 1 inch pieces. also start cooking the brown rice.
  • when the meat and tomato sauce mixture has cooked and thickened a bit, stir in the 2 cups of cooked rice and gently combine.
  • in your freezer safe containers, layer half the cabbage, half the meat mixture, remaining cabbage, and remaining meat mixture. cover tightly with foil or lid.
  • to cook:  bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until the mixture is just starting to bubble on the edges then remove foil and sprinkle on cheese (if using.) bake uncovered an additional 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and starting to slightly brown.

because it is a favorite of the husbands, i made baked ziti. i made it a bit more healthy by adding spinach and less cheese.

ingredients:

olive oil spray
1/2 cup grated parmesan
8 oz part skim ricotta
8 oz part-skim mozzarella, shredded
14 oz uncooked sweet italian chicken sausage, removed from casing
12 oz penne pasta
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves smashed garlic, roughly chopped
10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
salt and fresh pepper to taste
4 cups tomato sauce

directions:

  • bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. when the pasta water comes to a boil, cook pasta according to instructions for al dente, but undercook them by 4 minutes less; drain and return to pot.
  • in a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, 6 tablespoons of the Pecorino Romano cheese and half of the mozzarella cheese.
  • meanwhile, in a large deep skillet, brown the sausage breaking up into small bits until cooked through; set aside. add the oil to the skillet and sauté garlic about a minute, careful not to burn. add spinach and season with a little salt and pepper and cook another minute. return the sausage to the skillet and add the marinara sauce; cook on low about 2-3 minutes.
  • put half of the cooked pasta into the prepared baking dish and top with half of the meat sauce. spoon the ricotta mixture on top of the sauce in an even layer. cover with the remaining pasta and the remaining sauce. top with the remaining mozzarella cheese.

needless to say, there are lots of dishes to be cleaned. i am tired. but knowing that i won’t have to cook for the next two weeks is pretty darn satisfying.  i have ordered some glass freezer safe dishes to move away from the aluminum.  this is a healthy obsession that both the husband and i are excited about exploring more.

if you have any freezer meal recipes, please share!


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