meal prep

My Go-To Hearty Kale Salad

If you have been following along lately, you know that I have been throwing together a lot of salads. They are just so quick and easy and versatile. You can throw anything in them and run out the door. And, I’m not one that can always go out to lunch, so it’s great to have this ready to go at work. I always include one or two things with it, like an apple or a yogurt, or a granola bar or crackers and hummus, but this salad really helps satisfy me and keep me energized for the rest of my day.

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To me it’s hard to prep salads ahead of time because so many of the lettuces like spinach and mixed greens can get wilty (is that a word? I’m goin’ with it) really quickly. The great thing about kale is that I can go ahead and wash it, chop it and throw it in a bowl, or put together and dress my salad completely and it will still be good in a couple of days! For all of these reasons, I have been loving this kale salad. This is the variety I typically make but I put a few other varieties at the end of this post. You can either prep the greens and toppings and store separately, allowing for more variety during the week or go ahead and throw it all together in one large bowl! When I use this creamy tahini caesar (which I tell you in my post is by Cookie & Kate) I usually store it separately. If using a balsamic or some sort of vinaigrette, I’ll often go ahead and massage the dressing into the kale. It helps break it down a little bit so it is not so tough when it’s time to enjoy it.

Today I’m sharing this tasty, fueling and satisfying go-to salad with you. I hope you enjoy!

Happy Fueling!

Taylor



My Go-To Kale Salad with Creamy Tahini Caesar Dressing

Makes about 4 entree-salads (if using about 2 1/2 cups per salad)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Balsamic Roasted Portobello mushrooms (recipe and 3 ingredients in this post)

  • 1 batch of Tahini Caesar Dressing (recipe & ingredients in this post, original recipe by Cookie & Kate)

  • 7 cups chopped Lacinato kale (about 1 bunch)

  • 5 cups lightly packed Romaine lettuce

  • One 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (optional but I LOVE adding these!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven and roast mushrooms according to directions linked above.

  2. While the mushrooms roast, whisk together the ingredients for the Tahini Caesar dressing in a small bowl (recipe linked above). Keep in the bowl or pour into a small mason jar (or other airtight container) to store and use throughout the week.

  3. Add the pumpkin seeds to a small skillet and heat on medium heat. Cook about 5 minutes until the seeds begin to “pop”, brown and you start to smell their rich nuttiness. Yum! You don’t need to add any oil to the skillet because seeds naturally contain oil that will start to come out as the seeds begin to heat up.

  4. Add the kale, romaine, chickpeas, tomatoes, parmesan cheese, roasted chopped portobello mushrooms and pumpkin seeds to a large mixing bowl and toss together with tongs or salad spoons to incorporate all ingredients.

  5. Store the salad and dressing in the refrigerator separately to use throughout the week. Or, if serving for a group immediately, add dressing to the salad and toss until all well-combined. I would start with about 1/4 cup of dressing and toss all together. Add more dressing as needed or let your guests add it separately at the table!

  6. Enjoy!

Nutrition Notes:

Kale: Did you know kale is a non-dairy source of calcium?! I try to incorporate it into any of my athletes meals that don’t eat dairy but will eat kale (that’s not often, ha, but I’ll take it when I can!) This leafy green also contains, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese.

Tomatoes: vitamin C, lycopene, fluid, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin K, potassium

Chickpeas: protein, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, folate, copper, manganese

Pumpkin Seeds: protein, fiber, monounsaturated fats & some omega 3’s, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc

Tahini: protein, thiamin, phosphorus, monounsaturated fats and some omega 3’s, copper, manganese

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Balsamic Roasted Portobellos

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I am such a fan of portobello mushrooms. They add a meatiness to dishes, they bring out the flavor of other ingredients in dishes, and, I think, you can really add any flavors to them that you want to them. They are so easy to roast and they can be stored in the refrigerator to incorporate in dishes later throughout the week. You can stuff them, add them to pasta sauces, make them a burger if you don’t eat meat and so much more. The other day I decided that I needed something more for my kale caesar salad and pretty quickly these portobellos came to mind. I’m sharing this super simple recipe with you guys today so that you can throw these together for an easy side dish, salad topping, entree and more any night of the week!

Happy Fueling!

Taylor



Simple Balsamic Roasted Portobello Mushrooms

Makes 2 mushrooms

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large portobello mushrooms

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Line a small baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

  3. Using a basting brush (I love my silicone one that we got as part of a wedding gift), lightly brush the olive oil on both sides of both mushrooms. You don’t have to use all of the olive oil.

  4. Using the same basting brush, brush the balsamic vinegar on both sides of the mushrooms. Use as much of the balsamic as you can. I try to make sure it gets in the ridges (or gills) of the underside of the mushroom.

  5. Now place the mushrooms gill-side-up on the lined baking sheet.

  6. Bake in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender.

  7. There will be liquid in the well of the mushroom. I just pour that out into the sink. If you are adding the to a pasta or other dish, add that liquid into what you are cooking for extra flavor!

  8. Leave the mushrooms whole or dice them to add to sides, salads, pastas and more.

  9. Enjoy!


NUTRITION NOTES:

Mushrooms are great for their meatiness and their ability to bring out the flavors of foods they are paired with. They are also packed with nutrients like niacin & riboflavin (B vitamins that help the body make energy), selenium, phosphorus, copper and potassium, which are all important nutrients in helping our body function properly.



Creamy Tahini Caesar Dressing

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Hello friends! Hope everyone had a good weekend. If you follow me on Instagram you know it was a harder weekend for me. I can’t say that each year the weekend gets easier for me but I can say that I’m learning how to honor it, how I respond to it, and what I need to get me through it. It’s certainly a process but I’m learning and it is nice to be able to be honest with myself and allow myself the time and the space to reflect and fill my mind and time with things that nurture and continue to help me heal. For anyone who has lost someone close to them, I know we all have a different journey. This is part of mine and I just wanted to share a little of that with you this morning as it is a part of what makes me who I am today.

TODAY, however, is the start of a new week and I want to share with you a dressing that I have been loving lately. I typically always make my salad dressing from scratch because, with the right ingredients, you can make a dressing yourself better than anything you can buy off the shelf! My husband and I tend to like simpler dressings and my usual go-tos are a balsamic vinaigrette, a honey Dijon vinaigrette, or a champagne vinaigrette. Which dressing we use depends on the items in our salads. I’ve really never been a huge Caesar dressing girl and my experimenting with making homemade Caesar dressings has left me with the same final conclusion - just not a huge fan. HOWEVER, I discovered this Tahini Caesar dressing in my Cookie + Kate cookbook a few weeks ago and it has quickly become a staple on my lunch salads that I take to work! I’m sure it could also make a great addition to other entrees or side dishes or to my Vegetarian Sweet Potato that I published a while back. I highly recommend you visit her blog, which I have linked below. I believe you can find this dressing there (not positive b/c I got it from her cookbook). I really wanted to have the recipe in this space and be able to share it with you and so I have included it below. I talk about this cookbook a bunch because it’s another one of my go-tos when I want a hearty vegetarian option for dinner or lunch. I highly recommend you visit her blog or get her cookbook (this is not sponsored, I just really like her cookbook)!

I’ll be enjoying this dressing later today, but before I head out to the office, I’m sharing this dressing with you here.

Happy Fueling!

Taylor


Tahini Caesar Dressing

By Kathryn Taylor (Cookie and Kate blog)

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup tahini

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 to 1 1/2 lemons)

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, mustard, and salt.

  2. Whisk until blended, then add the water and whisk until you have a smooth, blended tahini sauce.

  3. Season generously with black pepper (about 10 twists).

  4. The dressing should be tangy, like classic Caesar dressings. If it’s overwhelmingly tart or too think to pour, whisk in an additional tablespoon of water. Mine was pretty thick so I ended up whisking in probably about 2 more tablespoons of water.


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!

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

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

Chili Lime Spice Mix

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Remember back in the spring when I made those roasted salmon tacos by Ina Garten?  If you missed it, I made them right before Cinco de Mayo and they were one of my best discoveries yet.  If you are looking for a simple & delicious taco recipe I hiiiighly recommend you try this one.  It was basically "love at first bite" for me and this spice mix and after dinner I started to think up what else I could use it with.



Super Simple & flavorful Chili Lime Shrimp  Salad!

Super Simple & flavorful Chili Lime Shrimp

Salad!



Since then, I've used the rub for my Chili Lime Shrimp Salad.



Originally vegetarian dishes. But the Chili Lime Chicken on these Burrito Bowls was delish!

Originally vegetarian dishes. But the Chili Lime Chicken on these Burrito Bowls was delish!

I have also used it on chicken, which I added to a fall vegetable salad one week and burrito bowls another.  Both recipes were from the cookbook Eat Real Food by Kathryne Taylor.






WHY DO I LOVE THIS SPICE MIX?  I LOVE THIS SPICE MIX BECAUSE:

  1. There are only 3 ingredients!

  2. These 3 ingredients happen to be items I always have in our kitchen, so that's (1) less thought and (2) less groceries to buy.

  3. It takes no time at all to prepare!


This spice mix has come to the rescue several nights already and it is guaranteed to stick around as one of my go-to simple flavorings for meats and fish to add pizzaz to even the simplest weeknight dishes.  Here's how you make it.  I hope you enjoy it and that it helps you get some deliciously simple meals on the table like it has for us!

Happy Fueling!

Taylor


CHILI LIME SPICE MIX

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By Ina Garten

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt (or less if you prefer)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.

  2. Toss with shrimp, salmon, chicken or flank steak.

  3. Cook your seasoned protein of choice.

  4. Serve and enjoy!

 

NOTE:  This original recipe was for about 1.75 pounds of salmon. (to serve 6)  You could double or halve the recipe depending on how many people you are serving.  I have done both and it's turned out delicious either way!

Tender Juicy Oven - Baked Chicken Breasts

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Raise your hand if you're too familiar with dry bland cooked chicken breasts.  Taking it a step further, who instantly associates "baked chicken" with "tough" or "flavorless"?  I was absolutely one of those people!  Even some of my chicken salads with all of the dressing and mix-ins would end up dry.  That chicken would absorb any moisture in a 10 foot radius before I even had a chance to put it in the fridge!

Well, one weekend last month, I decided enough was enough.  I did a little online searching, comparing different blogs and websites and came up with this method of baking my chicken breasts.  It was still pretty quick prep and to my excitement, it came out of the oven so tender and juicy.  Even better, it stayed fairly tender and moist the following days, whether I shredded it and incorporated it over a spinach salad, added it to tacos or a flatbread, or mixed it with a dressing and turned it into a fun chicken salad!

I love this method because it acts as a base from which you can add whatever flavors you want, from herbs and spices to a variety of vinegars, and you still have a moist, tender chicken dish.  Or you can keep it simple, adding only a little salt and pepper, to incorporate in various dishes throughout the week!  Keep reading for this short and simple trick to Tender, Juicy Oven - Baked Chicken!

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

 

TENDER JUICY OVEN-BAKED CHICKEN

Makes 2 Chicken Breasts

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 - 1.5 pounds raw boneless skinless chicken breast

  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil

  • 1/8 or less teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 of a whole lemon, cut into quarters

  • 1/2 tablespoon butter (or less) or cooking spray, to grease one side of parchment paper that goes over the chicken.

 

DIRECTIONS:

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. Place chicken breasts on the parchment paper and brush chicken breasts with the olive oil.

4. Sprinkle chicken with the salt.

5. Place the 4 pieces of lemon on the baking sheet with the chicken.

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6. Butter or spray with vegetable spray a second piece of parchment paper that is big enough to fit over the baking sheet and seal in the chicken and lemon wedges (I usually just take a stick of butter and run it over the surface of the parchment paper until the paper is pretty coated with a thin layer) .

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7. Place that second sheet of parchment paper butter / oil - side - down over the chicken and lemon wedges and seal around the sides of the baking sheet.

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8. Bake the chicken in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

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9. Your final product should be super easy to slice with a knife, or shred with two forks and no longer pink in the middle. If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken should read 165 degrees F.

10. Serve right away or save for meals later in the week!

NUTRITION NOTES:

Chicken provides us with protein, niacin, vitamin B6, among other nutrients.

1 ounce of cooked chicken has about 7 grams of protein.

Cherry Vanilla Overnight Oats

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As you all know, I have been on a bit of an overnight oats kick lately.  A bit behind the trend, I'm aware, but, then again, I've never been super trendy.  These have been such a time-saver in the last month, though!  With work fully underway in its busiest time and my Junior League commitments still going strong I need something quick and easy but that still tastes delicious and leaves me satisfied.  I will say it's a toss-up between these and my SunButter Banana Oats for which I like best.  The SunButter oats are a bit more savory, while these definitely have that fruiter juicier taste from the cherries and the yogurt.  I have resolved to alternating for the time-being because I really love them both.  I can keep these in the fridge for a quick breakfast in the morning or a part of a heartier snack. 

Not only are these great for a basic breakfast but these oats could also be a great post-run or post - workout meal or snack (depending on who you are and what type of athlete / exerciser you are) due to their combination of protein and quality carbohydrate.  The protein in this dish is helpful to repair any large or small tears in our muscle as a result of exercise and the carbohydrate repletes drained glycogen (stored carbohydrate) stores and provides the body with more energy.  A body receiving a post- intense - workout meal without carbohydrate may end up having to use protein for energy instead, which could hinder maintaining or building lean muscle.   So, in short, this dish provides the protein the body needs to repair and build muscle and the carbohydrates it needs for energy and to spare protein.

This could be a good post-workout breakfast for early morning exercisers, especially if it's hard to eat something first thing.  If you're someone who has trouble eating before early morning practices grab something simple like a piece of fresh fruit, dried fruit or dry cereal prior to your workout and make sure to refuel with a balanced breakfast of protein & carbohydrate like these Cherry Vanilla Overnight Oats!  And if you're an athlete that needs more than this post-workout try doubling the ingredients or add an egg or two on the side!

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

 

OH SO SIMPLE CHERRY VANILLA OVERNIGHT OATS

Makes 1 serving (1 "jar")

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons rolled oats

  • 1/4 cup 1% milk

  • 1/2 cup frozen halved cherries (they came whole and I cut them in half w/ a sharp knife)

  • 1/4 cup cherry yogurt (I love mine with Siggi's 2% black cherry yogurt!)

  • 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

To a small or medium-sized mason jar* add ingredients in the following order:

  1. 1/4 cup rolled oats

  2. 1/4 cup 1% milk

  3. 1/4 cup frozen halved cherries

  4. 1/4 cup black cherry yogurt

  5. 1/8 teaspoon vanilla

  6. 3 tablespoons rolled oats

  7. 1/4 cup frozen halved cherries

* my sister - in - law puts her in saved salsa jars , which I think is a great idea too!  I'm trying it next time!

 

WHAT'S IN THIS??

Rolled Oats:  fiber, iron, vitamin D, thiamin, phosphorus, magnesium, protein, carbohydrate

1% milk:  protein, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12, phosphorus, carbohydrate

Yogurt: protein, calcium, carbohydrate

Cherries:  fiber, carbohydrate small amounts of vitamin C & calcium;  currently being studied for their potential possible positive influence on inflammation and post-exercise soreness!

 

NUTRITION INFO (per serving)

265 calories;  15.75 g protein;  42 g carb;  7 g total fat (1.5 g sat, 0 g mono, 1 g poly);  4.5 g fiber;  21 g sugar (0 g added); 253.5 mg calcium;  95 mg Na;  1.75 mg iron


Garlic Sage Garden Gnocchi

I. love. gnocchi.  Not sure exactly what it is about it but I love it.  I think it has something to do with the delicate texture, the versatile taste (you can pair it with so many different flavors and sauces) and, of course, the ease of cooking and preparing it.  To me gnocchi is one of those foods that looks and sounds so fancy but that is actually SO SIMPLE to make!  All you do is drop the prepared gnocchi in boiling water and wait about 5 minutes or less until it starts to float to the top and voila - it's ready!  I know, I know, you're probably thinking, "she's not actually making gnocchi- she's just boiling it".  Kind of like when I was a little girl, around 6, and the kids got to contribute to our church cookbook.  I believe one of mine was lasagna, and it went something like "take the lasagna box out of the freezer, remove lasagna from box and bake in preheated oven until bubbling."  Don't get me wrong;  My mom and dad both made some excellent homemade dinners, but we did love a good Stouffer's frozen lasagna. One day I would love to make gnocchi from scratch.  However, in reality, I just flat out don't have the time for that.  So buying it prepared and ready to cook is the way to go for me!  

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WHERE TO FIND IT

If you're curious where to find it, I usually get mine at Central Market, either in their shelf stable pasta aisle or in their freshly made pasta section over by the meats and the fresh spreads and olive bar.  I have also found it at Tom Thumb and am fairly certain it's at most groceries.  The gnocchi I purchased for this recipe was in the refrigerated fresh pasta section.  I had a Central Market helper assist me and she assured me this was better than the air-packed gnocchi you find in the pasta aisle.  I had my doubts but, after cooking it, confirmed that there absolutely is a difference!  It's much more tender with a softer bite than the air-packed variety.  Of course, either will do (I have used both) but this definitely feels a smidge more elegant.  And, always a bonus, it reheats for a quick dinner leftover the next night.

THE INSPIRATION

I got this idea while in Memphis for Christmas and New Years.  The guys were off hunting and I had the house and time to myself.  Usually when this happens, when I find myself alone with my thoughts and a little free time, my brain starts to run wild and new ideas start to take shape.  These ideas can be anything from how to add a new feature to my website to new flavors to pair together for a recipe to a new nutrition topic I want to talk about on my blog.  On this particular occasion ideas started churning when I was at the Memphis Whole Foods and passed by a refrigerated case of featured fresh pastas and two varieties of gnocchi - a sweet potato and a spinach variety.  I passed it up this trip because I had no real plan for these guys and I'm trying to keep my grocery bill somewhat under control (gulp).  But as I continued to wander through the store and check items off my list (I'm a perpetual list maker if you were unaware) my brain kept wandering back to the gnocchi.  And the wheels were still spinning long into the evening.  I knew I wanted to create a recipe with gnocchi and I wanted to try one with this sweet potato variety.  Since I knew the gnocchi would have a bit of a sweeter taste, I decided I wanted the sauce to be savory.  I recently saw a recipe with sage and remembered how much I love it and, yet, how little I use it.  From trial and error in previous gnocchi recipes, I decided I wanted a bit of a creamier sauce, something that would be light but would also really stick to the gnocchi.  So I spent the next evening whisking up this new creamy sage and garlic sauce, roasting broccolini, sauteeing mushrooms, and combining it all for a rewarding and  satisfying dinner.  The final product was very tasty; However, the two thoughts I had as I finished were:  (1) "I bet it would be better with a little more sauce" and (2) "the sweet potato gnocchi is good but I bet this dish would be on a whole separate level if I kept it simple with a classic white potato gnocchi". 

Now, fast-forward to this past week where I am back in Dallas and kicking of 2018.  With a much more concrete plan in mind I got home after work with my ingredients and began to quickly rinse and chop the broccolini, mushrooms, sage and garlic.  I roasted the broccoli, sauteed the mushrooms and then whisked up my sauce again - this time using a little bit more of my ingredients to yield more sauce.  While letting the sauce simmer and the flavors come together, I boiled a pot of water, added the gnocchi and about 3 or 4 minutes later, just as I could smell all of the flavors come together in my sauce, those gnocchi all popped to the top.  Perfect!  Using a slotted spoon, I gently spooned them from the water straight into the sauce.  I gently mixed it all together and could already see the sauce begin to thicken due to the starch from the potato in the gnocchi.  Then I added my broccolini and mushrooms, gently stirred again and topped it all with some grated Parmesan cheese.  Wow.  This is a dish that smells incredibly complicated while actually being incredibly fast and relatively easy to put together!  What allowed it to be so quick and simple to put together?  I say it's because I incorporated one of my main cooking principles that I cook by to keep things simple and balanced.  That principle is: use different cooking methods in a meal.

Now, enough talking.  I want to share with you the recipe.  I hope you enjoy it and serve it as much as I plan to!

Happy Fueling!

Taylor

 

THE RECIPE!  

GARLIC SAGE GARDEN GNOCCHI

Serves 2 - 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 bunch (about 2 - 3 cups raw) broccolini, stems removed

  • 8 oz. container baby bella mushrooms, quartered & stems removed

  • 3 teaspoons canola oil, divided

  • 18 oz. container prepared gnocchi (should be about 3 cups uncooked)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 1 1/2 cloves chopped garlic

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

  • 3/4 cup 1% milk

  • 2 tablespoons whole milk

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, + more for serving


DIRECTIONS:

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large mixing bowl combine the broccolini with 2 teaspoons of canola oil and a pinch of salt (about 1/16th teaspoon).

3. Spread broccolini out onto parchment - lined baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast for 20 minutes, mixing with a rubber spatula halfway through for even cooking. Once broccolini is done cooking, set aside.

4.  While the broccolini cooks, heat remaining 1 teaspoon of canola oil in a large deep skillet on medium - low to medium heat.

5.  Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for about 6 - 10 minutes until mushrooms begin to soften and release their water.  Once cooked, transfer mushrooms to a small bowl and set aside.  You can leave some of the remaining juices from the mushrooms in the bowl.

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6. In the same skillet that you cooked the mushrooms in, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter at medium - low to medium heat.

7. Once melted and the butter starts to brown (you will see the change in color and smell a deeper, richer smell from the butter) add the garlic and cook about 2 minutes (stirring frequently). You want to cook until just fragrant and starting to brown - but be careful not to burn or you'll have to start over!

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8. Next add the fresh sage and cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes.

9.  Turn the temperature down to low and add the 1% and whole milk, stirring consistently as you pour in the milk so that it doesn't scald (and form that film on the surface of the milk).  Once all the milk is in, turn up the heat to about medium and allow it to bubble, stirring occasionally and then turn back down to low, allowing all of the flavors to come together while you prepare the gnocchi.  The sauce will seem a little runny, but don't worry - it thickens once the gnocchi is combined due to the starch in the gnocchi that releases into the sauce.  

10.  As the sauce cooks, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Once boiling add the gnocchi and cook until done.  You'll know they are done when the gnocchi pop to the surface of the water.

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11.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked gnocchi straight into the sauce (alternatively, you could drain the gnocchi in a large colander when cooked and then add to sauce when ready).  Stir gnocchi into sauce until all is well incorporated. 

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12. Add the broccolini, mushrooms and grated Parmesan cheese and toss again to incorporate the sauce and veggies and get the cheese melted and incorporated throughout.

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13. Serve in individual bowls, sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if desired, and enjoy!

NUTRITION NOTES:

Potato gnocchi:  fiber, protein (a little bit), some brands have a little calcium and iron but may not be significant per serving

Broccolini:  vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium

Mushrooms:  riboflavin & niacin (B vitamins), selenium, potassium, varying amounts of vitamin D, depending on sunlight exposure.

Parmesan Cheese:  protein, calcium, phosphorus

Milk:  calcium, protein, potassium, phosphorus, B12, vitamin D, riboflavin

Canola Oil:  monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, (also contains some saturated fat, but not as much as poly and mono), vitamin E, 

 

NUTRITION INFO (per serving)

Serving 2:  620 calories;  18.7 g protein;  86 g carb;  23 g total fat (5 g sat, 11.5 g mono, 2 g poly);  10 g sugar (0 g added);  9 g fiber;  1354 mg sodium;  270.5 mg calcium;  2 mg iron

Serving 4:  310 calories;  9.35 g protein;  43 g carb;  11.6 g total fat (2.5 g sat, 5.75 g mono, 1.5 g poly);  5 g sugar (0 g added);  4.5 g fiber;  677 mg sodium;  135.25 mg calcium;  1 mg iron