Lemon Asparagus Pasta

Stop the presses.

I have officially tired of tomato sauce. This is a true testament to my hard earned now semi-lack of pickiness! Or maybe I’ve just been eating too much pasta.

Anyway, that’s the reasoning behind attempting my very first sauce.  Note the lack of tomatoes!


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Thanks to Minimalist Baker for inspiring this recipe.

Serves 2-3

You will need: a large skillet, baking sheet, whisk

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 lemon
  • olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 ounces uncooked wheat pasta
  • 2.5 cups skim milk
  • 3-4 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • salt and pepper

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 400° F.

(Boil your water/cook your pasta while you are baking your asparagus!)

Rinse and trim asparagus. Place on baking sheet and toss with some olive oil. Add salt and pepper.

Cut a few thin slices of lemon and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes.

Remove sheet from oven and chop asparagus into thirds.

For the sauce…

Heat a large skillet on medium. Add 3 Tbsp olive oil and the garlic. Stir around for 1-2 minutes until the garlic turns a little brown.

Add 3 Tbsp flour and whisk for 30 seconds.

Whisk in milk 1/2 cup at a time.

Add some salt and pepper and continue to whisk.  Lower heat to medium-low and continue cooking to thicken, stirring occasionally.

Continue cooking for a few minutes until the sauce thickens.

Add the juice of half a lemon and stir.

*****

Mix the sauce with the asparagus and you’re good to go.

Feel free to serve with one of the lemon slices!

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Thanks as always to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

Enchilada Casserole for ALOHA

Whenever I’m going to an event that you have to bring a dish to, I try to bring something healthy. Unfortunately, that’s the only way I will pass over the tupperware dish of iced pumpkin muffins….

The only thing is that not every single person I know is super into “health food.” Meaning, in order to make people like your health(ier) food, you have to deliver it via a disguise of deliciousness.

Enter, healthy enchilada casserole.

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The cheese says it all.

And maybe if you do tell everyone that each slice is under 400 calories, they actually won’t mind the health food part.

******

Thank you to ALOHA for asking me to share what I would choose when, “bringing a dish to pass.” 

You can find a ton more great dishes on their RECIPE PAGE! 

 

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This recipe was inspired by THIS awesome blog.

You will need: mixing bowl, 9×13 casserole dish

Ingredients:

  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
  • 2 cups dry brown rice
  • 16 fl oz enchilada sauce (buy 2 jars!)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese mix
  • 1 can corn kernel
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook rice.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Mix the enchilada sauce, shredded chicken, beans, and 1 cup of shredded cheese together in a large bowl.

Add in cooked rice. Season with salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Pour mixture into a large casserole dish. Add the corn as a top later, then sprinkle on the remaining 1 cup cheese.

Bake for 25-28 minutes.

Throw on some chopped cilantro and serve!

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This enchilada casserole is totally one to bring to your next potluck or get-together!

Juicing Q and A with Williams-Sonoma

So pumped for a fun Q&A sesh about JUICING with Williams-Sonoma!

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1. What was my experience with a juice cleanse like?

About a year and half ago I started hearing about this new food phenomenon. Juicing.

Tons of different health blogs and documentaries all preached the newest superfood that was the actual elixir of life. If you drink it, you’ll get super skinny while simultaneously becoming healthy and strong and full of vitamins.

Count me in.

Then I heard that some people even do this crazy thing where they only drink juice instead of eating for days at a time. But of course you don’t even get that hungry because your stomach is full of juice…

I had worked up enough gall to take on the experiment in full force. Once I set my mind to it that I was going to do a juice cleanse, I became a stubborn juicing warrior. I was going to do this thing and I was going to do it right.

I started with a juice cleanse grocery list and the local farmers’ market.

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New food sparked learning about different vegetables and herbs and about what they looked like.

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Trying something totally new (beets!) blew my mind and made me feel proud of my formerly-picky self.

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Terrifying mishaps (TOO MUCH ginger) clouded the end of the cleanse and I struggled with the idea of – gasp – quitting. What kind of a person would I be now, eating solid food? Who had I become?

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There was definitely a sense of clearing out all the crap from your body and starting fresh.  I had become knowledgeable about what I was putting in my body was going to be  totally renewed on this awesome foundation of nutrients and health.

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But…

I was hungry. And kind of lightheaded.

After a few more juice cleanse cycles and attempts, I’ve come to my own personal conclusion about how juicing best works for me. I like supplementing my diet with juice because it makes me feel good about myself, like I’m doing my body a favor.

I never would have thought that picky old me would consume 8 ounces of green juice daily.

2. For someone who is starting their juicing journey, what are some tips and tricks for beginners trying a homemade juice cleanse? 

  • Buy organic.

When your body is experiencing the initial shock of nutrients during a juice cleanse, it’s really important to make sure to watch the quality of those nutrients. Since your whole system is feeling a little on the fritz, you want to make sure you’re not using poor quality produce with possible bacteria and pesticides.

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  • Use produce bags from the grocery store as a “trash bag” in the pulp canister

Makes pulp cleanup amazingly simple and you are so earth-conscious with recycling.

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  • Add some apple

Any juice that needs to be sweetened will immediately taste way better if you add APPLES. Nature’s best packet of sugar for sure. Pretty much every juice has apple in it: green juice, root juices, and fruit juices!

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3. Which is better? Store bought juice or homemade juice?

Hands down, homemade. Homemade juice is fresh. You know exactly what is going into it. It has way less sugar and added ingredients than store bought juices.

I am guilty of purchasing store-bought juice though, but in moderation it is definitely better than the non-juice alternative! One good note: do not a cleanse with store bought juices, because pasteurized juice does have a higher sugar content and isn’t meant for complete meal substitution.

**

Become your own juice barista!

Not only does Willams-Sonoma have the dreamiest juicers ever to drool over, they have a great juicer resource page that even includes different ways to juice and TONS of delicious looking recipes.

Happy juicing!

Pepperoni Pasta Bake

All the food and fitness magazines often pump up protein into the magic element in your diet that will boost your metabolism and make you magically skinny.

I’m in to it.

I am personally not a huge meat eater, so I am finding myself more and more paranoid about getting enough protein. Not quite sure the hummus with lunch is going to cut it if I want to focus on weight loss and building muscle.

And lord knows there is only so much crock-pot chicken breast I can eat.

Enter: the pepperoni pasta bake.

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This recipe was adapted from HERE.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb whole wheat pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 30 pepperonis, sliced into halves
  • fresh basil leaves

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 °F.

Boil a pot of water and cook the pasta.

While pasta is cooking, add olive oil in a skillet on medium-high. Toss in chopped onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally Remove from heat.

Drain the pasta and return to the pot.

Stir in onions/garlic and the marinara sauce, diced tomatoes, most of Mozzarella, and the pepperonis. Mix.

Transfer the pasta mix to a greased baking dish.

Sprinkle with remaining Mozzarella. Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes.

Garnish with fresh basil and serve.

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Thanks as always to Jenn @ Peas at Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

Summer Food Trucks

So this summer has kinda of involved a lot of food. Good food.

I am currently obsessed with the ever-so-trendy mobile cuisine craze, aka FOOD TRUCKS. 

Food trucks have come a long way from the original ice cream man truck. There are sooo many different kinds and they are even  starting to show up in surprising locations.

When we went to Texas for a cousin’s wedding earlier in the summer, it was evident that the multitude of unique food trucks fit right in with the quirky charm of Austin.

Tuna’s fam and I were watching some bands at a bar in downtown Austin one of the nights and we ended up wandering out of the back patio. Best thing to find in the backyard of a bar after a evening of drinks: gourmet grilled cheese, made to order.

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Almost everyone in our group ended up ordering one of the Thrilled Cheese sandwiches.

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Of course my picky self chose the tried and true “Nana.” Probably the best grilled cheese I’ve had in my life.

If you’re ever in the Austin area, make sure to find Thrilled Cheese on Twitter HERE and find out where they’re at!

Wandering home that same night we stumbled on a bunch of food trucks hanging out on the side of the main drag. We couldn’t resist stopping and checking them out.

One of the guys ordered a dish of Chicken Biryani (chicken and rice with creamy yogurt and intensely flavorful Indian spices) at a truck called Taste Fro(m) India and let us each have a bite. It was my first time trying Chicken Biryani and it was AMAZING.

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We went back the next day and I got a whole plate for myself. : ) I like Indian food now because of this food truck! You can find their Yelp page HERE. 

A few weeks ago when I was visiting my friend Nancy in Baltimore, we went to a festival called ArtScape, which is a huge arts festival but also had a whole food truck section.

There were a TON of choices, but we finally settled on Cruisin’ Cafe because it had a lot of good Maryland crab options.

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We had to wait a little while for our food, but in the end it was definitely worth it..

Behold: the “crabby fries.”

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They were warm, crabby, and delicious. But even though Nance and I shared them, it still was a little too much for us. We thought it could have used a little more fries and less of the creamy crab dip.

What I REALLY loved was my crab cake BLT. It had the perfect texture and I wish I had the sauce to put on everything I eat from now on.  Mmmm….

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Obvi we had to end the tour de truck with a sweet treat, so we shared some salty caramel ice cream from the Taharka Bros. truck.

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good friends = will pose mid-bite for you

This is a special food truck for many reasons. Not only did it launch by Kickstarter,  they have an awesome story with some goals that I definitely support.

From their Kickstarter page…

THE TAHARKA BROTHERS STORY

Back in ’10 we were talking about the lack of job opportunities for young black men in Baltimore. We discussed the idea of owning our own business and paving our own path. We, repping various parts of a city steeped in struggle, thought hard about friends, families, futures, hopes, ‘hoods and heroes. We asked ourselves some hard questions. Could we promote peace, social and economic justice to the people of Baltimore through starting our own business?

Taharka is majority owned and operated by urban young men, all under the age of 24. We are a Benefit Corpration (for-profit) and for-community enterprise which uses it’s award-winning ice cream and business initiatives to help bring about a better, brighter, and more “taharkafied” world.”

Their ice cream is really good too.

We couldn’t get enough of the trucks, so we went back the next day for more.

Can’t go to Greece? Me either. The next best thing – gyros from Greek on the Street food truck.

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I was super impressed with the speed that they pumped out the hot and juicy gyros.

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But the best part was definitely the “most amazing pita shell ever” (said in a Gordon Ramsay-esque  voice).

They were ridiculously fresh and the chicken in it really melted in your mouth.

Moral of the story: if you see a food truck – wherever your are – stop and order something from it to eat! I have yet to have a bad food truck experience.  You really can’t beat the convenience, plus the price of the food is usually a lot less than it would be for the same thing in a restaurant.

The only con I can find with food trucks is a bit of a big one: the healthiness factor.  I don’t really want to know the calorie count of the crabby fries because I’m sure I would be horrified. Food trucks definitely aren’t an all day/every day way to eat, but fun for a special occasion or on vacation.

It would be nice to add nutritious to the the convenience and price of food trucks food – along with the quality of taste, of course.

My next mission – find a DELISH, HEALTHY food truck. The big question is, does one exist?

Tell me: what are your thoughts on food trucks?

Have you tried any especially good ones?

ProCakes Review

I was so excited when I found out I got to review ProCakes’ protein pancakes. Healthy protein pancakes were one of the first foods I had at my friend’s place in Hawaii when I started eating clean. They are basically a staple in the clean eating world.

Here’s a little bit more info about this special yummy pancake mix…

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ProCakes is a high protein, carb smart, gluten free pancake mix with no added sugar.  It’s uniquely designed to help satisfy hunger while enhancing your diet with the protein your body needs to stay lean and healthy.  It’s comfort food for the fit inspired.

I especially love the no added sugar aspect of ProCakes. I am definitely trying to cut down on added sugar lately, as I keep reading more and more about the effects of sugar on our bodies (source).

ProCakes is even cooler because it is a fitness inspired company run by a very awesome blogger, Caren, at The Fit Habit. The company’s products are mindfully macro-balanced, which is sweet. A macro-balanced diet = a healthy dose of carbs, fats and proteins, which serves as building blocks for a strong, lean body.

Pancakes with side of strong, lean body for me, please!

I’m also glad the protein isolate ProCakes uses is whey protein. Whey protein is my protein of choice in all of the smoothies and protein bars I make. Here’s a good article on why to use whey protein.

Another great thing about it is that it is GLUTEN FREE. A lot of my friends and family are gluten free these days.

*****

I made my ProCakes test kitchen run last Saturday morning. Ok…late morning.

The ingredients part of the recipe is super easy to do: no food prep needed, just quick and painless addition of TWO little ingredients.

1 EGG

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(FREE RANGE, of course! An organic tip: to really make sure your eggs are coming from happy and healthy chickens, don’t just buy cage free eggs – buy free range – where the birdies can roam around on the farms and have plenty of livable space.)

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1/3 cup MILK

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Unfortunately, I kind of botched the test kitchen run.

Meaning my pancakes turned out not so pretty. Obviously I need buy some more so I can redeem my sad little guy. Just blame it on my lack of pancake making skills.  I am thinking a round cookie cutter would serve just fine as a shaper next time. #testkitchenfail

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Even though my pancakes didn’t quite do ProCakes visual justice, they TASTED good!  ProCakes’ protein pancakes have a little more of a sweet cookie-ish taste than usual plain pancakes, which is definitely a plus. The dash of cinnamon in the mix goes a long way. ProCakes are totally not your run of the mill, bland health food.

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YOU can buy your own protein pancake ProCakes HERE!

ProCakes sent me the product to review. All opinions are my own.

BLT Zoodles

Last week my friend told me she got a spiralizer.

Huh?

I didn’t know what she was talking about.

Apparently there’s this cool kitchen thingy that slices up stuff like zucchini and potatoes into noodles.

It looks like this:

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You can buy one HERE for about $35.

They are really easy to use and easier to clean than a juicer. There are even blogs wholly dedicated to spiralized food like THIS one.

Before eating the noodles I wasn’t completely convinced that I would spend the extra money on one but after tasting this dish – I definitely want a spiralizer. It totally tricked me into thinking I was eating a cozy noodle-y dinner as opposed to what it really was: a bunch of vegetables with some protein.

These BLT Zoodles really do taste like something you’d eat in a restaurant.

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Recipe modified from HERE, found by Mal. 🙂

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 small bag of spinach, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, (spiralized)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400ºF degrees.

Pour tomatoes into a medium bowl. Toss in a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes and set aside for later.

10 minutes into baking the tomatoes, put a large skillet over medium heat and add in bacon. Cook the bacon for 3 minutes and then flip over them over. Cook for another 3-5 minutes.  Set aside on a paper towel.

Pour out 2/3  of the bacon grease from the skillet. In the skillet, toss in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add in red pepper flakes and spinach and cook until the spinach is a little wilted.

Add the rest to the skillet: zucchini noodles, bacon, and tomatoes. Stir for 2-3 minutes.

YUM!

To make the zoodles –

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Run through the spiralizer.

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And cut with kitchen scissors:

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Thanks as always to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

Quinoa Tabbouleh

I was inspired to make my own quinoa tabbouleh a few weeks ago after my friend Vicki suggested it as an easy and healthy meal. We had just finished a delish Mediterranean meal at Mezè in Adams Morgan.

You know me – I’m always trying to use up some quinoa. 😉

Special thanks to Tuna for taking these pictures. I was stuck at work, and the sun was setting before I had time to capture the recipe photo shoot in the natural light myself. I think he’s found his calling, seeing how the photos turned out!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 green pepper
  • 3 small tomatoes
  • 1/3 onion
  • 1/4 cup black olives
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt

Directions:

Cook quinoa. Cool off.

Chop up cucumber, green pepper, tomatoes, onion, and parsley.

Combine chopped ingredients in a big bowl with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.  Stir in cooled quinoa.

Top with some more fresh parsley and serve.

A good meal add on: falafel 

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Thanks as always to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

Summer Crab Dip

Over memorial day weekend, Tuna and I headed out of town with some friends to get away from the city for a little while. The weekend consisted of wine, the pool, and LOTS OF FOOD.

I swear we ate enough for a small army. Really helpin’ my swim suit bod here.

My friend Jen was along for the ride which was especially perfect because she is known for making the best dips ever. They are often featured in the forefront of…well, ANY function we attend. You can usually find me in the middle of a party shoveling my face with her buffalo chicken dip, delish guacamole, or – my most recent fav: crab dip.

It was fun to be her sous chef for the weekend!

Jen’s crab dip recipe was adapted from HERE.

We served it as an appetizer with crackers, tortilla chips, and celery. Maybe if I eat this dip for all of my meals for the rest of the summer with CELERY the caloric content will equal out.

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Ingredients:

  • fresh crab meat, 8 oz container
  • 3 tbsp reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 4 oz  reduced fat cream cheese
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Microwave the refrigerated cream cheese for a sec so it’s a little soft (room temperature).

In a medium-sized bowl, stir crab, mayonnaise, cream cheese, sour cream, and 1/8 cup cheddar cheese.

Add in onions and a bunch of Old Bay and combine.

Sprinkle some more Old Bay and cheddar cheese on top.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Serve immediately.

 

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Thanks as always to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

Turkey and Cheese Roll-Ups

OMFG.

These are the best things everrrrrr.

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My friend made them for dinner a few years ago and I completely forgot that they existed until last week when I saw the Pillsbury crescent rolls staring at me longingly from the refrigerated aisle shelves.

Not the healthiest dinner on the planet, but add a big ‘ole salad on the side and you’ve got a weekday dinner.

Easy to make, easy clean-up, and a little taste of heaven (the butter!).  Justifying it with the 100 calories per roll sticker on the front of the tube.

It was just a small addition to the little break in the diet last week… if you will. #fafweek

 

Well – not cheese fries. But it’s true. Sometimes you just gotta eat delicious cheesy food.

I made mine with turkey and cheddar, Tuna added some ham in his! Putting this in the easy meals rotation for sure.

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You will need: baking sheet, parchment paper

Ingredients:

  • 1 tube Pillsbury crescent rolls
  • turkey deli slices (and ham, etc)
  • cheddar cheese slices

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Lay dough out flat.

Add filling to dough as preferred, and roll up! (I lined my rolls with 1 slice of cheddar and 1 slice of turkey each. )

Bake for 10-12 minutes.


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Thanks as always to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!