Jazzed Up Mac & Cheese Cups

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Hello! How is everyone’s week going? Mine has been quite packed, but the good kind of packed that keeps you on your toes and keeps you thinking. So much going on in January in the world of Wellness and I’m also staying pretty busy with sports nutrition items as well.

Today, however, oh my gosh, I’m excited to finally get to share with you one of my newer recipes, these jazzed up mac and cheese cups.. This is one of my favorite recipes yet. It’s so savory and cheesy and easy to eat. It’s basically mac & cheese with a few surprise ingredients in a cup! And a bonus - made with milk and cheese, each cup packs in some calcium, which we know everyone needs, especially the young growing athlete. I actually created these about a year ago, but it took me a few times to get the recipe just the way I wanted it and then I, of course, had to have friends and family give them a try and earn their stamp of approval. You can prep these ahead and then store them in the fridge until you are ready to bake which, if you know my recipes, you know I love. They also store and reheat nicely, which is great because the recipe makes 12. I store them in a big airtight container or wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. They can be an easy option to take to school or work or enjoy as a late night dinner or post-practice snack. What makes them jazzed up? Well, I substitute some of the pasta for roasted cauliflower and add in sun dried tomatoes, which gives it a whole new level of deliciousness. And, honestly, you may not even realize it’s cauliflower in there if you are not paying attention. I seriously love these and I hope you do to! So, here you go, the recipe for my Jazzed Up Mac & Cheese Cups.

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

JAZZED UP MAC & CHEESE CUPS

Makes 12 cups

INGREDIENTS:

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  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup macaroni noodles (will use 1 1/2 cups cooked)

  • Cooking Spray

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1/2 tablespoon butter

  • 1 teaspoon flour

  • 1 1/4 cup 1% milk

  • 1 1/2 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese

  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon creamy Dijon mustard

  • 1 whole egg, whisked

  • 1/2 cup rehydrated (according to package directions) and chopped sun dried tomatoes

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the chopped cauliflower with the olive oil and salt.

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Spread cauliflower on lined baking sheet.

Roast cauliflower in preheated oven for 15 minutes, stir the cauliflower, and roast for 15 minutes more.

While the cauliflower cooks, bring a large pot of water to a boil and, once boiling, add the macaroni, cooking about 7 to 8 minutes until tender. When done, drain the cooked macaroni into a large colander and set aside.

Once the cauliflower is cooked, remove from the oven and set aside.

Now, increase the heat of the oven to 425 degrees F.

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Prep a 12-muffin tin (or two 6-muffin tins) by spraying lightly with cooking spray and then, using about 1/4 of the Parmesan cheese, sprinkle on the bottom of each muffin tin.

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Heat the same large pot you used to cook the noodles in to medium heat and add 1/2 tablespoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of flour. Whisk for about 3 to 4 minutes, allowing the flour to cook and start to brown.

Add the milk, whisking slowly as you pour it in, and continue to cook, whisking occasionally, until the milk begins to warm almost coming to a simmer.

Add the cheese to the warm milk and whisk in until the cheese melts into the milk and the mix is smooth.

Take pot off the heat and add the Dijon and egg and stir to incorporate all ingredients together.

Add 1 1/2 cup of the cooked macaroni, the sun dried tomatoes, and the cauliflower to the pot and fold it into the cheese sauce.

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Spoon mac and cheese mixture into each muffin tin (about 1/4 cup mix per tin).

Bake in a preheated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove cooked mac and cheese cups from the oven, sprinkle tops of each with remaining 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese divided equally between every cup.

Turn oven to a broil and broil on low for about 1 to 2 minutes until the tops start to brown and crisp a little.

Remove cups from the oven.

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Allow to cool about 10 minutes so that the cups will keep their shape when you take them out of your tins. After they cool a little, I run a knife around the edges of each muffin tin to help get each mac and cheese cup out smoothly.

Serve immediately or store to enjoy later in the week!

Serve It Again!

As I mentioned earlier. Wrap each individually in foil or plastic wrap to pull out and take with you as a part of lunch. Or reheat them as an easy side with dinner another night of the week. OR grab one after an afternoon or evening practice as an easy source of protein, quality carbohydrate and calcium!

NUTRITION NOTES

Just one of these scrumptious cups contains 210 mg of calcium!

Sunbutter Banana & Chia Seed Oatmeal

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This month I have decided to focus my thoughts and recipes mainly on calcium and vitamin D for the athlete. This is probably the topic I talk about with young athletes most frequently. I know calcium and vitamin D probably do not seem like a big deal when new to your sport or injury-free, but it can really be a big deal if you are cutting it out of your diet completely! Not getting enough calcium can lead to low bone mineral density, and not only osteoporosis later in life, but stress fractures now if the athlete is overtraining and not resting and eating adequately.

When I meet with athletes, the hardest meal to pack nutrition into always seems to be breakfast. So, for that reason I started looking at what I eat for breakfast and what clients eat for breakfast most frequently and then see if I could make these breakfast choices more valuable to an athlete’s nutrition and training plan. Today’s recipe is an oatmeal recipe. I am an oatmeal fan because you can easily pack a lot into it. This oatmeal can be made the morning of or prepped the night before and then heated up in the microwave while getting ready for work or school in the morning. I love it because it’s hearty, it’s super satisfying and it packs in protein, quality carbohydrates, fiber and healthy fats in just one little bowl. For those athletes who have morning practices, it can also be stored in a small airtight container in a lunchbox with a cooler and heated up in the microwave after practice. I have really been enjoying this for breakfast these last couple of months and hope you enjoy it as well. I use a sunflower butter typically but, of course, you can use any nut or seed butter that you prefer. Here you go - the recipe for my Sunbutter Banana & Chia Seed Oatmeal…

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

SUNBUTTER BANANA AND CHIA SEED OATMEAL

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Makes 1 bowl

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup dry rolled oats

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon flaxseed or chia seeds

  • 1 teaspoon Sunbutter (or nut or seed butter of choice) + about 1 teaspoon more drizzled over the oatmeal*

  • 1/4 cup mashed banana (about 1/2 medium banana)

  • The other half of the banana, sliced over cooked oatmeal

  • Dash of cinnamon, to sprinkle over the top after cooked.

    I like this Sunbutter and this Sunbutter because they are super simple and doesn’t have added sugar and lots of other added ingredients (not sponsored at all. I’ve just discovered these to be my preferences after lots of trial and error of different products).

DIRECTIONS

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  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a cereal bowl or travel container and stir together.

  2. Microwave 2 to 2 1/2 minutes.

  3. Stir in the mashed banana until well incorporated.*

  4. Microwave another 30 seconds to 1 minute.

  5. Stir together and top with sliced banana, extra bit of nut or seed butter and sprinkle of cinnamon.

  6. Enjoy!

  • If taking to the office or school, you can go ahead and add the mashed banana in with step one. I think it just mixes in better if you add it once the oatmeal has cooked some.



NUTRITION INFO (per bowl)

294 cal; 10.75 g protein; 6.38 g fat; 48.5 g carb; 6.6 g fiber; 22.75 g sugar; 1.38 mg iron; 205 mg calcium; 0.53 mg zinc; 250 mg vitamin A; 50 IU vitamin D; 27 mg magnesium; 22 mg phosphorus, 326 mg potassium; 1 mg sodium; 20 ug folate



A Simply Stress-Free Christmas Brunch

Hello friends! It’s pouring here in Memphis and dad and Kyle are at the duck club, which makes it a perfect day for writing and recipe testing. Thought I would do a little post to tell you about our Christmas brunch and how I tried changing it up this year to keep things stress-free and with more time to sit around the Christmas tree!

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Usually for Christmas my family drinks coffee and exchanges gifts first thing in the morning and then we tidy up and start making brunch. This year, however, I decided to try mixing it up a little and seeing if we could enjoy breakfast and each other’s company around the table in the den while doing our gift exchange, leaving more time to sit and chat and not hear our stomachs growling while we open gifts! After thinking about what I could prep ahead, I landed on my Crustless Sage and Sausage Quiche. Because it’s only me, dad and Kyle on Christmas morning, we don’t need to go overboard on the food and so we bought some in-season fruits and our favorite whole grain bread to pair with it. The fruits I selected included grapes, oranges and pears and they were so sweet and juicy diced up as a fruit salad. Our bread of choice these days is Dave’s Killer Bread and it was hearty and nutty, toasted up and served with butter. And that was our Christmas brunch! Both dad and Kyle loved the quiche and I’m assuming they were telling the truth because it was almost all entirely gone by the end of Christmas morning!

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The quiche is super savory and so really complemented the sweet winter fruits served along side it. I always have a starch of some sort with a meal and the toasted Dave’s Killer Bread was perfect. I love having home-cooked meals at the table but I don’t think everything has to be homemade, especially if that means sacrificing time with family or friends. I know I could have made some homemade biscuits or bread or sweet rolls but dad doesn’t eat many sweets, and I didn’t want to spend all of my Christmas Eve in the kitchen. So the quiche was my home-cooked item that I prepped on Christmas Eve and placed in the oven Christmas morning and the other items were easily assembled Christmas morning while the quiche baked. It was a fun, relaxing and delicious Christmas morning.


And What About the Leftovers?

That’s another great thing about the quiche! It can be refrigerated and reheated for breakfast, lunch or dinner on any of the days to follow. I cut the remainder of the quiche into small squares, wrapped each square in plastic wrap and stored half of them in the refrigerator and half in the freezer so dad can have a quick protein-packed breakfast once Kyle and I are back in Dallas.

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Nine - Ingredient Yummy Stuffed Sweet Potato: A Vegetarian Prep-Ahead Meal

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Hi there! So, last week was a busy one! Lot’s of projects due and presentations and program wrap-ups and then we went to Scottsdale for one of my best friend’s wedding. I’m so glad that I did my meal planning the weekend before because there certainly wasn’t lots of brain space left to figure out dinner. One thing to note about my meal planning - there is nothing cookie cutter or perfect about them. I have a general plan that I could follow, but most weeks I actually go off course. This week my stuffed sweet potato was on the menu but I had actually planned to use slightly different ingredients. Then, when Monday came around, I had leftovers from dinner with friends the night before and, with that, a new idea. That is how this recipe came about that I’m sharing with you all today. It’s so SIMPLE!!! And it’s super tasty. It uses ingredients that, years ago, I would not have normally put together. However, after our trip to Israel this year I have become a little more adventurous with food and flavor combos.

This dish is a vegetarian option. However, it’s still packed with great stuff like complex carbs, vitamin A, iron, magnesium, some healthy fats and protein. I talk to so many people who think you have to eat meat to get your protein. Newsflash, you don’t! There are lots' of ways to get protein without eating meat. You may have to eat a little bit more of those foods because plant protein is not as easily absorbed in the body as animal protein, but, it can be done! For example, the 1/2 cup of chickpeas here provides about 7 grams of protein. then there are a couple of grams in the dressing and a gram or two in the potato. So, here is the recipe for my Mediterranean Stuffed Sweet Potato.

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

NINE-INGREDIENT YUMMY STUFFED SWEET POTATO

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium sweet potato

  • 1/2 cup of Prepared Slaw (see recipe below)

  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained

  • 2 tbsp hummus

  • 1 tbsp water

  • 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

SLAW INGREDIENTS (from Ina Garten):

  • One 10 oz. package of cabbage slaw

  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped dill

  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

  2. Poke holes in the sweet potato with a knife or tongs of a fork and place on a baking sheet. I usually use a fork and poke the holes in a line down the center (longways) of the potato, where I will end up slicing it once cooked.

  3. In a large bowl mix together the slaw, fresh dill and white wine vinegar. Cover and let sit, allowing all of the flavors to meld together. This can be done a day in advance. And for any of you who read my previous posts, this is from Ina Garten’s DELICIOUS salmon taco recipe.

  4. When the oven is preheated, place the sweet potato in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, until when you poke the potato with a fork, the tongs come out easily and clean.

  5. You can either allow the potatoes to cool at this point and then wrap in foil and store in the refrigerator, or go ahead and prep them to eat.

  6. To continue prepping, whisk together the hummus, water and lemon juice in a small bowl.

  7. Open the potato so that there is room to pile the toppings on top.

  8. Add about half of the humus dressing followed by about a 1/2 cup of the slaw followed by the chickpeas followed by drizzles of the remaining hummus dressing. Serve and enjoy!

  9. If serving this later in the week, I prep my potato the night before or morning of, opening it and adding the slaw and chickpeas. I package the hummus dressing separately. At the office, I heat up the potato and then add the dressing once heated through. Easy peazy!

NUTRITION NOTES:

Sweet potato: vitamin A

Chickpeas: protein, folate, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese

Hummus: protein, healthy fats…

Slaw: fiber

Pesto Chicken Panini: Making Use of Leftovers

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So, I made this sandwich a way long time ago and realized I never posted it! I came up with the quasi - recipe when I was trying to figure out what to do with my remaining Roasted Red Pepper & Pesto Chicken Salad. I love the chicken salad on it’s own but wanted to find some other way to mix up the recipe. That’s when this sandwich was born. I made it for me and my husband and we both enjoyed them! This can be a lunch or dinner item. Packed with protein, complex carbs, fiber, some calcium, and vitamins, including B vitamins and vitamin K this one sandwich packs a nutritional punch! The pesto and roasted red peppers keep this sandwich moist and full of flavor and adding the melty mozzarella takes it up another few notches. I always remind clients and friends to not overthink meals. If you can get three out of the five food groups at a meal, excellent! The sandwich can be easily overlooked, but if we take a closer look at this guy, we see that you get the “3 out of the 5” in just this one item! Whole grains, dairy, and meat are all here. Plus there are just a few little veggies snuck in there as well! The next time you toss together my Seven Ingredient Roasted Red Pepper & Pesto Chicken Salad, make sure to plan for this grilled panini with some of the leftovers. It won’t disappoint!

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

PESTO CHICKEN PANINI

Serves 1

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 slices hearty whole grain bread (my go-to’s are Dave’s Killer Bread, Seeduction bread from Whole Foods, and Flax & Chia Seed bread from Central Market)

  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup of my prepared Roasted Red Pepper & Pesto Chicken Salad

  • 3 thin slices of mozzarella cheese (you could also sprinkle on shredded, if desired (about 1/4 cup shredded)

  • About 3/4 cup fresh spinach

DIRECTIONS:

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  1. Lightly toast the two slices of bread.

  2. Preheat a panini press or heat a small skillet oiled with about 1 teaspoon of butter over medium heat.

  3. Place prepared chicken salad on one of the slices of toasted bread.

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4. Lay mozzarella slices over the chicken (or sprinkle if using shredded

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5. Top mozzarella with fresh spinach leaves.

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6. Make sure your skillet or panini press is preheated and top the layered ingredients with other slice of bread.

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7. Place sandwich in panini press, press down and cook until the mozzarella cheese is softened and melty and the bread is crispy.

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8. Serve and enjoy!

Honey Dijon Chicken Salad: Dairy Free Chicken Salad

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This week I want to share with you guys one of my go-to chicken salad recipes. It’s so simple but makes simple baked chicken wayyyy more exciting. Growing up I did not like chicken salad because I always felt like it was more mayonnaise than chicken and the mix-ins. So, I started coming up with my own recipes! I posted one of my favorites a long time ago (this confetti chicken salad) and now I’m sharing this variety. It’s such a simple solution to making sure there is something for lunch each day and I promise it’s more meat and mix-ins than mayo. Actually this variety doesn’t have any mayo at all. I typically throw it together on a Sunday afternoon or a Monday night after work. It probably takes a total of 45-ish minutes to put together, prep to plate, but about 20 to 30 of those minutes are hands-off to free you up for other things!

Hope you make time to try this recipe and that it gives you some simple lunch or dinner solutions!

Happy Fueling!

Taylor


HONEY DIJON CHICKEN SALAD

Makes about 3 cups

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast (should make about 3 cups cooked chopped)

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey

  • 1 cup diced celery (about 2 to 3 large stalks)

  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries


DIRECTIONS:

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  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Cook chicken according to instructions for my Tender Oven-Baked Chicken. (Or use your own favorite cooking method for simple chicken)

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3. While chicken bakes in the oven, whisk together the olive oil, Dijon mustard and honey.

4. Set aside.

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5. When the chicken is done, allow to cool slightly.

6. Once cooled slightly, dice chicken into bite-size chunks and add to a medium mixing bowl.

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7. Add honey dijon dressing to the diced chicken, mixing well to incorporate all of the dressing with the chicken.

8. Add in the diced celery and dried cranberries.

9. Mix everything well to combine all ingredients so that when served, each person gets sweet tangy bites of chicken, tart cranberries and a crunch of celery in every bite.

10. Enjoy!

NUTRITION NOTES:

A recipe packed with protein and vitamin B12

NUTRITION INFO (per 1 cup):

413 calories, 43 grams Protein, 14 grams Carb, 18 grams Fat, 0.8 grams Fiber, 1.5 grams Iron, 33 mg Calcium

Ten Minute Mediterranean Tuna Melt

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Hello!

I posted this tuna melt on my stories a while back and had some of you wanting me to share the recipe. So, I’m finally getting it up! This is such a simple meal. You can literally put it together in ten minutes. This meal is full of fiber, whole grains, complex carbs, protein, omega 3’s (healthy fats), and calcium.

It is great for a quick weekend lunch or a quick early dinner before an evening game or practice. It could also be a lighter but refueling option after a late game or practice (when dinner may have been eaten as early as 4:45 or 5:00 p.m. and it’s now 8:30 p.m. and the athlete has been playing for hours).

I actually made one of these this past Saturday. I was going to use the remaining tuna for a salad on Sunday, but when I went to the fridge, it was all gone. Apparently, Kyle is a fan as well… :)


So, here you go! The recipe for this super simple Ten Minute Mediterranean Tuna Melt!



Ten Minute Mediterranean Tuna Melt

Makes 1 sandwich (with leftover tuna to make 2 more sandwiches or a salad)

INGREDIENTS:

For the tuna salad:

  • One 5 ounce can of white chunk tuna (packed in water)

  • 2 tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon plain yogurt (I used low-fat Greek)

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  • 1/4 teaspoon honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill (+ more for sprinkling over top of sandwich)

  • 3 Cherub tomatoes, chopped into bite-size pieces

  • 2 tablespoons chopped Kalamata olives (5 Kalamata olives)

For the Sandwich:

  • 1 slice of whole grain bread

  • 1 slice of Provolone cheese



DIRECTIONS:

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  1. Shred tuna in a small bowl.

  2. Using a toaster, toast whole grain bread to desired doneness.

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3. Mix the tuna with the yogurt, dijon and honey.

4. Mix in the chopped tomatoes, olives and dill.

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5. Spread 1/4 cup of the tuna mixture out evenly over 1 slice of toasted whole grain bread.

6. Turn the oven to Broil, on high.

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7. Place toast on a small baking sheet and broil in the oven for about 1 minute until the cheese is all melty.

8. Enjoy!


Five Ingredient Breakfast Sandwich

I discovered the breakfast sandwich by chance.  It wasn't at McDonalds or another fast food place.  It was something my mom would make on slow Saturday mornings for herself to sit and enjoy.  I remember one morning at our place on the lake in Hot Springs, Arkansas, waking up and walking into the den to find mom taking her first bite of that eggy cheesy sandwich.  It looked like she was loving it and so, of course, I was curious.  I asked for a bite and was hooked!  After that, slow Saturday mornings (which typically meant the ones at the lake because all other Saturday mornings I was up at the rink at 5:45 AM skating) meant egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches.  It wasn't anything over the top, simply 2 slices of whole wheat bread, egg and American cheese, but to me it was just a touch away from gourmet.  

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Today, I still love a good breakfast sandwich, but I like to play around with ways to mix and match ingredients & flavors and, of course, find ways to make it simple and workable for busy schedules.  The other weekend after a good Saturday morning run and nothing on the calendar in the near future I decided to bring out the breakfast sandwich for a little Saturday morning brunch.  I've tried different recipes in the past but this one is my favorite so far.  I have made this particular recipe for Kyle and my dad, and both gave it a thumbs up.  

The thing about this sandwich is that while yes, it does take more time to make as opposed to pouring yourself a bowl of cereal or topping some yogurt with fruit, it's still relatively quick and simple.  If you really want to simplify, you can make the goat cheese - tomato spread the day before to have ready to go or you could even make these guys a night or two before, wrap them tightly and then freeze them to be quickly heated up the next morning before heading out the door!

So, whether you're looking for a slow savory Saturday morning breakfast or a quick and simple bite to grab and go, I think I've got you covered with this small but mighty 5 ingredient breakfast sandwich.

Happy Fueling!

 

 

MY FAVORITE FIVE - INGREDIENT BREAKFAST SANDWICH

Makes 1 sandwiches (but makes enough goat cheese spread for 2 sandwiches)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 whole wheat English muffin

  • 1 tablespoon goat cheese

  • About 4 sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil, lightly blotted to remove some of the excess oil, and diced

  • 1/2 small avocado

  • 2 eggs

DIRECTIONS:

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1. Toast one English muffin in a toaster.

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2. In a small bowl crack two eggs and whisk together, adding a pinch of salt.

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3. In a small mixing bowl, add the diced tomatoes and 1 tablespoon of goat cheese.

4. Mash and mix together with a fork until the two ingredients are well incorporated.

5. Set aside.

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6. Heat a small non-stick pan on medium-low heat.

7. Add your 2 scrambled eggs to the pan, letting them get firm on the bottom, but turning the pan frequently to let the liquid uncooked egg spill over to the outside of the pan and cook.

8. Push the sides of the eggs down as you go to keep the eggs in a thin circle shape at the bottom of your pan (this should only take a few minutes).

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9. Once there is barely any liquid left on top, fold over one side of the circle so that the outer side is touching the center line - like in the picture above.

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10. Now fold over the other side so the outside of the opposite side touches the center as well - see picture above.

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11. Now fold over the other sides to create a small square pocket.

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12. Now flip the square pocket over with a spatula and cook for one more minute so that any uncooked egg gets cooked. I usually flip it and then put a lid on top to trap steam in and cook it quickly without drying it out.

13. Now that it's cooked, turn off the burner and remove skillet from the heat.

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14. Spoon your avocado out into a small bowl ....

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15. .... and roughly mash with a fork. I like mine to have some small avocado bites in there!

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16. Begin to assemble your sandwich by spreading 1 tablespoon of the goat cheese - tomato mixture on the top half of your English muffin.

17. Place the egg pocket on the bottom half of the English muffin.

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18. Dollop 1 tablespoon of mashed avocado onto the top of the egg and spread out gently with your spoon, knife or whatever utensil you are using.

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19. Add the top to your English muffin, goat cheese spread - side down and press gently.

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20. Voila! The perfect Egg Sandwich!

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21. Slice if you'd like or dive in and enjoy!

NUTRITION NOTES

Egg:  protein, lutein, vitamin D, choline, vitamin B12

Avocado:  monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, potassium, fiber

Sun dried tomato: vitamin C, vitamin K, niacin, iron, magnesium, potassium

Whole grain English muffin:  fiber, protein, carbohydrate, 

Goat cheese: protein, fat, calcium, phosphorus

Mushroom, Thyme & Goat Cheese Pizza

If you've been following along, you know that I have been working on, and loving I might add, this new pizza recipe.  The idea started from a magazine clipping I found in my old binder of recipes collected throughout college and grad school.  However, I've added and edited and played around with so many ingredients since then that I can't actually remember what the original recipe was, other than the fact that it used thyme and goat cheese.  Today I'm sharing with you the recipe results of many tests and tastes.  While this recipe is how I like it best, you can make a variety of little ingredient changes and I bet it will still be wonderful!  In fact, I alternate between two varieties and I want to share that quickly with you before diving into the recipe..

VARIETY #1:  THICK CRUST

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One way I make this, and actually the first way I ever tried it, is on Whole Foods fresh pizza dough that I roll out and use for my crust (I hear Trader Joe's has a fresh whole wheat pizza dough too that is really good).  This version makes a thicker fluffier crust that yields a delicious pizza where the toppings kind of bake into the bread.  Ahh, so, good!  Not only is this option delicious but it can also be an easy way to get more calories and carbohydrates in your young growing athlete that has daily games and practices, depleted energy stores, and increased energy and nutrition needs. This option does take a little more time because you have to flour a surface and roll out the dough, but if time allows, I think it's absolutely worth it!  And, because it has a thicker crust, you or your athlete can throw on more favorite toppings!

 

VARIETY #2:  THIN CRUST

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My second variety is made on the Trader Joe's already-made whole wheat pizza crust that you find in the bread aisle.  I mostly like this version because of how quick and simple it is.  Wednesday night I cooked this variety for some girlfriends.  I got home around 6:00 p.m. and only had to focus on prepping the toppings.  Once the girls were over, I assembled the pizza and popped it in the oven for about 20 minutes and it was done.  I don't know about you, but that's my perfect idea of entertaining on a weeknight - a dish that everyone will enjoy and that allows you to be present with your company, not have to put all of your attention on cooking.  This is the variety that I'm going to share with you today!

PIZZA TAKEAWAY...

I always hear people say, "oh pizza is bad".  Oiy, feels like a punch to the stomach.  While, yes, some pizzas provide less fueling and health - promoting ingredients than others and when eaten too often, in too big of quantities over a long period of time can promote weight gain and other health concerns, I cannot say that pizza is "bad" and here is just one of my examples why.  This pizza uses a whole wheat crust from Trader Joe's (or something similar), easy to make homemade blistered & crushed tomatoes, sweet caramelized onions, soft crumbly goat cheese and fresh thyme.  And, while this is one of my favorite flavor combos, it is just one example,.  You can put any variety of your favorite veggies, cheeses and herbs and spices on here or throw in some chicken or lean ground beef if you want.  A perfectly fueling & filling option if you ask me!

So, here you go, my Mushroom, Thyme and Goat Cheese Pizza..

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

 

Mushroom, Thyme & Goat Cheese Pizza

INGREDIENTS:

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  • 1 Trader Joe's whole-wheat pizza crust

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil + 2 teaspoons olive oil + 1/2 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons olive oil (last 2 tsp optional)

  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes

  • 6 - 8 ounces of mushrooms (your choice - I love picking a variety!), chop larger ones but smaller ones can be left whole

  • 1/2 of a medium white or red onion, sliced into half moons

  • 4 to 6 ounces of crumbled goat cheese

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh thyme

  • Juice from 1/2 of a lemon

  • Salt and pepper, to taste



DIRECTIONS:

1.  Preheat the broiler on high.

2.  Line a medium-size rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

3.  To a medium-size skillet, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and heat on medium-low heat.

4.  Add mushrooms to the heated skillet and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until softened.

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5. While the mushrooms cook, in a medium-size bowl toss the cherry tomatoes with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Spread the tomatoes out on half your lined baking sheet.

6. In the same medium-size bowl toss the onion slices with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Spread the onions out on the other half of the lined baking sheet next to the tomatoes.

7. Place the baking sheet in the oven and let cook under the broiler for about 10 minutes, until onions and tomatoes begin to charr and the tomatoes burst. Mix with a heat-proof utensil about half-way through.

8. Once mushrooms are done cooking, turn off the burner and set aside.

9. Once tomatoes and onions are done cooking, remove from the oven and turn off the broiler. Gently crush the tomatoes with a fork (being careful not to squirt yourself with tomato juice!) and set aside.

10. Change the oven setting to Bake at 400 degrees F.

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11. Place pizza crust on a pizza stone or a large baking sheet and brush with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.

12. Then spread the tomato - onion mixture in a thin even layer, leaving a little room on the edges.

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13. Top pizza crust with mushrooms, crumbled goat cheese and fresh thyme. This picture was from a trial where I added the mushrooms raw. You can do this if pressed for time, but I thought the mushrooms had a better texture and were more thoroughly cooked when sauteed before adding to the uncooked pizza crust.

14. Place prepped pizza in the 400 degree oven and cook for about 20 minutes until the crust is crispy and the cheese has melted.

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15. Remove from the oven and slice into 4 to 6 triangular slices (or however many you want!)

OPTIONAL - you can whisk together the lemon juice and last 2 teaspoons of olive oil and drizzle over the pizza before slicing and serving. It adds a little pop of flavor!

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16. I always like pairing my pizza with a different salad. Sometimes I keep it simple with spinach and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and sometimes I throw together lots of mix-ins and a fun dressing. Anything works!

17. Serve and enjoy!

Spinach & Feta Stuffed Salmon

The other week we had a friend couple over for dinner and I got to test our my Spinach & Feta Stuffed Salmon again.  It was a crowd pleaser and, therefore, a keeper.  I used my original recipe that I included in my "Dinner Without a Plan" post but doubled the ingredients so that it could serve 4. I've included my updated recipe below.  Hope you enjoy it!

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SPINACH & FETA STUFFED SALMON

Serves 4

 INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

  • 6 cups of fresh spinach

  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta

  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts

  • Four 6-ounce salmon filets (I used Coho salmon)

 

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DIRECTIONS:

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  1. In a medium-sized skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil.

  2. Add the fresh spinach to the skillet and cook until the spinach starts to wilt down, about 4 minutes or so.

  3. Add the ricotta cheese and feta cheese to the spinach and mix until it is all starting to melt and blend together and the spinach is completely wilted.

  4. Meanwhile, while the spinach mixture heats, add your pine nuts to another small skillet and toast on medium-low heat until they start to brown and become fragrant, about 4 minutes (watch these and you'll know when they are done. They start to brown and you can smell the nuttiness - so good!). You don't need to add any oil to the skillet because as the nuts heat they release their natural oils into the pan. I would actually take them off the heat before they are completely toasted because you will be toasting them again with the salmon and you don't want them to burn. When the pine nuts are done add them to the spinach & cheese mixture, incorporating well with a rubber spatula, and set aside.

  5. Now prep the salmon. Lay the filets out on a cutting board or baking sheet skin side down. Next take a small sharp knife and cut a slit lengthwise down the top of the filet, making something like a pocket to stuff some of the spinach mixture in.

  6. Divide the spinach mixture up evenly between the four salmon filets, stuffing each with a good portion of the spinach mixture (and some will rest on top of the salmon like in the picture).

  7. Spray a grill pan with vegetable oil or canola oil, heat it to medium-high heat and turn the oven broiler on high.

  8. Once the grill pan is hot, add your salmon filets and let those cook for about 5 to 8 minutes until you start to see it cook / turn light pink from the bottom up.

  9. Place your grill pan with the salmon filets under the broiler and let that cook for about 1 1/2 minutes or until the filets reach your desired doneness.

  10. When the filets have cooked to your desired doneness, use oven mitts to take the grill pan out of the oven. Allow the salmon to rest while you plate the rest of your meal.

  11. Serve the salmon hot and enjoy!