Lazy gal meal prep

Typically I have been posting on this website every Wednesday. Sometimes I am really good about making new recipes or having ideas on something I want to post and sometimes I am just not creative or motivated to come up a new idea. And sometimes I am just too busy. With summer quickly approaching, (thank you for nicer, warm weather finally) I have gladly been spending more time out and about and less time in my kitchen.

Instead of a recipe, I thought I’d share a few tips on what I do for meal prepping or to get things a bit prepared so I am NOT in the kitchen so much.

I eat an almost embarrassingly large amount of food. Right now, I blame it on training for the 50k in June. I am pretty active for 2 hours a day most days but sit throughout the day at work. At home I try to keep active and only watch the news and Wheel of Fortune on TV. I found cutting out TV to be a great tool to increase my NEAT and just not have an excuse to lounge. When I do lounge I instead try to read either a book or news on my phone and of course, scroll social media. I also spend time prepping food instead of lounging. I am not kidding when I say I eat more than my husband. I don’t know what will happen after training for this run is over!!

WHY:

  • Ease of grab and go
  • Healthy options at your fingertips
  • Less excuses for grabbing less nutritional foods
  • Cook according to the season (right now that means a lot of grilling and FRESH veggies or fruit)
  • Work once, eat several times – one bigger chunk of time pays dividends for several days
  • Work smarter, not harder

BREAKFAST:

  • Make a big batch of muffins or healthy banana bread
  • Mix up my yogurts (I like to mix my yogurt with powdered peanut butter and sometimes with a bit of protein powder) and I mix them in individual plastic wear all measured and ready to grab because I am always dilly dallying up until the last minute
  • Boil and peel hard eggs, I usually do about 15 at a time
  • Assemble egg sandwiches (sliced hard eggs make a great sandwich and are so easy)
  • Portion and bag fruits/veggies for smoothies and keep in the freezer to blend up quickly

salad

LUNCH:

  • Bulk cook some easy carbs – I prefer beans or sweet potatoes – both can be made in the Instant Pot
  • Bulk cook a variety of veggies – grill asparagus, green beans, Brussels, etc. or steam broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
  • CLEAN and CHOP produce – the easier it is to grab and use, the better
  • Sandwiches or wraps are easy to transport and can be made 2-3 days in advance without getting soggy, especially if you toast the bread first
  • Portion out any sides like cottage cheese or snacks you have in the afternoon to ensure portion control

SUPPER:

  • Grill – no one wants to cook inside on these warm days. Take out a bunch of meat, I mean 3-4 pounds and grill it. Be sure to season to your preference and once it is cooked and cooled, cut it for use that week and freeze the rest to use in the future. If you are already grilling meat, you might as well double up. This works especially well for chicken and turkey. I don’t care for steak or pork leftover as much
  • You can grill pretty much any veggie and even fruit if you like
  • If you do need to bake (like banana bread) just bake in the morning before it gets too warm
  • Salad kits are our friend. These are so easy to use and bulk up to your preference. We have been loving these, especially since romaine lettuce is a bit scary with the e. coli breakout. See photo above for an example – the kit comes with toppings and dressing. If you don’t like the topping, leave it. If you don’t like the dressing leave it. Some dressings make great marinades for meats. Or I like to bulk them up with meat I have already grilled. These packages say they serve 3-3.5 but we typically get two large salads out of them for a hearty meal
  • Flatbread pizza. Use a tortilla or thin dough and throw it on the grill with sauce, cooked meat and veggies and you have a meal in minutes
  • Ground beef – grilled burgers or taco are always a hit. Remember if you make a pound of taco meat, you might as well make two and freeze part of it for late

I hope those few tips help you out. Not every meal needs to be gourmet and goodness knows we have to soak up the outdoors and warm weather while we can. Enjoy!

 

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Buffalo Deviled Eggs

We have a potluck every once in awhile at work. Some people bring their tried and true dishes every time. I generally try to mix it up just because I like trying new recipes. For this potluck, I was really pressed for time. I do generally (not always) try to bring something a bit more nutritious because potlucks can be HUGE calorie bombs. I decided on buffalo deviled eggs because 1) almost everyone likes deviled eggs – they are continuously the first item to go at potlucks; 2) quick and easy to make with ingredients on hand – especially easy to peel with the Instant Pot; 3) buffalo anything is my love language.

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What we have here is a dozen eggs – the yolks are mixed with a bit of mayo and buffalo sauce. They are topped with sliced green onions, feta cheese and a small squirt of Sriracha. These are easily customizable – switch out the onion for celery or carrot, use your favorite hot sauce and top with any cheese from blue cheese or even cheddar cheese.

One more thing. I love eggs. A lot. I eat about a dozen a week. Therefore, I buy a lot. I don’t have a hookup to a chicken farmer (rancher?) at this point in time. Anyway, egg prices really vary quite widely and quickly. I buy the 18 packs and sometimes they are like a bit over $1 and the next week they are almost $4!?! Regardless, I think they are still a great value and a very healthy and easy food. Just curious how week to week the price swings so much. Like is that mama chicken just performing highly a week out of the month? I’m no chicken expert, that is for sure. I just love their eggs.

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Anyway, onto the recipe and away from my curious questions.

Buffalo Deviled Eggs – serves 24 (one half each)

  • 12 eggs, boiled, peeled and sliced in half with yolks removed
  • 1/4 cup (scant) Mayo
  • 1/4 cup (heaping) buffalo sauce
  • black pepper
  • Sliced green onion
  • Feta cheese
  • Sriracha sauce

Take your yolks and set aside in a bowl. Mash them with a fork until finely crumbled. Add in mayo (or Miracle Whip – no judgement), buffalo sauce and a healthy sprinkling of freshly cracked black pepper. Mix together and spoon evenly into each egg half yolk cavity. Top with sliced green onion, cheese and a small squirt of hot sauce. Refrigerate until serving.

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This was a fun twist on deviled eggs. Enjoy!

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Chicken Sausage, Brussels Sprout and Spiralized Sweet Potato Skillet

This is an easy, one-skillet dish that comes together in about 20 minutes. Super simple and nutritious to boot. All you need is some sausage, brussel sprouts, sweet potato and seasonings. Add a bit of cheese for some extra flavor.

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I don’t recall ever eating Brussels sprouts as a kid growing up. These little green cabbage like veggies are good to me. My husband isn’t a huge fan. But that just leaves more for me. I like to roast or grill them for best flavor. Also, I did Google how to spell them and it is a Brussels sprout or Brussels sprouts named after Brussels, Belgium. I have been buying a 2 lb. bag from Sam’s Club and eating the whole thing myself. I simply chop the ends off and quarter or halve them depending on their size. Throw away any dirty or super loose leaves.

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Chicken Sausage, Sprout and Spiralized Sweet Potato Skillet, serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large sweet potato (or 2 medium), spiralized with trimmed noodles (or diced small if you don’t spiralize)
  • 2 cups sliced Brussels sprouts
  • garlic salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 chicken sausage links, sliced into 1/2″ coins
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat half of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil is shimmering, add the sweet potato and season with garlic salt and pepper. Toss and cook for 7 minutes or until cooked al dente. Use the lid to speed up cooking. Set aside on a plate and then add in the remaining olive oil to the skillet. Add Brussels sprouts, garlic salt and pepper and cook through, about 5 minutes. Set aside with the potato noodles. Lastly, add in the sausage coins and cook until a bit browned and warmed through. Turn heat down and add veggies back with the meat. Toss and heat through. Top with cheese and let it melt. Serve.

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I used apple chicken sausage this time but I think I’ll try it with venison sausage next. This is also great for meal prepping as it reheats well and you can even freeze it for future meals. Enjoy!

 

 

Posted in Dinner, Dinner idea, Healthy Living, Main Dish | 2 Comments

Black Hills 50k training

Hey! Popping in this week and taking a break from posting a recipe. I can’t remember if I mentioned it on the blog but I am in the midst of training for a 50k trail run to be held on Saturday, June 23 in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The event is based out of Sturgis and you run 50k (that is over 31 miles peeps – holy crap!!) out of Sturgis along the Centennial Trail and finish in Sturgis. There is quite a bit of elevation (for this flat lander) and we run through a forest but also prairie like conditions. I am excited, terrified, nervous, scared and elated all at once to do this!!

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Last year, I did this event but at the 30k distance. So I have an idea of what I am getting myself into but also, no clue on how to train for this distance. I kind of stitched a few different plans together to form a 16-week training plan. I had been running about 50 miles a week so I felt I had good base mileage coming in but I did not have much speed work or hill training. I knew to finish this race, I would need to become more focused and stronger. I did reach out to a few friends to ask for some advice and one that really stuck with me was to make the hard days count. My friend told me that he would focus on those days where there are hills or speed work and try to get those done along with a long run. For the easier days it would be OK if you had to skip or didn’t “nail” those runs. In 2017 when I finished the 30k, I was quite dehydrated and wiped out at the end of the race. I know I have to work on fueling and hydrating so that is another main focus this go around.

The goal is to finish happy and healthy. My performance will no doubt depend on the weather. I consider myself a very average runner and find joy in the camaraderie of the events and completing them. I try to not focus on time.

When looking at training plans, I realized I don’t really know much of the running terminology. The paces can be confusing. I don’t know any of my paces, I have trouble with consistently paced miles (my paces jump all over) and I don’t always have the patience to care enough to figure this out. I just want to go run and enjoy the feeling I get from that. I thought maybe I could share here a certain week in my plan and break it down. Well, at least how I break it down which might not be correct but at least I am getting in miles.

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A few disclaimers or things to note:

  • Everyone is different, find what works for you
  • Paces to me are suggestions, I try to meet them but my goal is to get in the miles and time on my feet
  • I take walking breaks, especially up hills – no shame
  • I take hydration breaks on long runs – basically anything over 13-15 miles I usually stop to eat and drink
  • I spend a lot of time working out but I don’t have kids, I don’t have a long work commute, I don’t work more than 40-45 hours a week, I don’t have many responsibilities
  • To keep up with working out I eat A LOT of food and spend time preparing food
  • My husband is very supportive and understanding of time I spend working out, eating and sleeping
  • For any long runs, I try to have people join me for part or all of the run because it is really quite boring otherwise. I try not to break up my runs but if you have to, you have to
  • I instruct spin classes two times a week at our fitness center so while this is a “job” it is also great cross training
  • A 16 week plan seems so long! I try to break it up in 3-4 week chunks and I also try to only plan out one week in advance of running so I don’t get overwhelmed with mileage or workouts
  • I am paying someone to help me in my strength training – if I did not I would be lazy and quit or half ass my workout. I know this is a weakness for me and no doubt his instruction and guidance has helped me improve. It’s ok to ask for help.
  • Not every week or workout is going to be great – try to stay positive and remember you are capable

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Basic structure

  • Run 5-6 days a week with 3 focused runs. 1-2 with hills.
  • Spin 2 times a week.
  • Strength 2 times a week.

Monday, April 23 – Week 8 of 16 in training

Morning – 6 mile run, 45 minute spin class. This run was “easy” in the way that the pace was something I can hold easily without getting out of breath or totally wiped out. I felt great.

Evening – 75 minute strength work out. We did everything from pushups to pullups, squats, a bajillion lunges, abs and stairs. I never know what we are doing from day to day and that makes it nice because I don’t have to figure out a plan or doubt my ability – I just do what he tells me.

Tuesday, April 24

  • Morning – 9 miles. This is what the plan called for:
  • 3 mile warm up at an easy pace
  • 8 x 30 seconds uphill at 6:25 effort with jog down rest
  • 8 x 75 seconds uphill at 7:15 effort, walk down rest
  • 4 x 20 second strides
  • 1.5 mile cooldown
  • 0.5 walk to nine miles

OK – let me break this down. I was very confused by this. I again took to Google and searched treadmill pace conversion as I was on the ‘mill. You can look up the MPH setting and incline to give you an equivalent. I did the 30 seconds at 8.0 speed and 5.0% for a 6:32 pace which was close enough for me. The 75 seconds were also at 8.0 but only 2.0% incline.

The 20 second strides are fast paced but only for 20 seconds, then recover by jogging and do again. It takes about 0.5 miles for me.

I had some time so I walked another 0.5 miles at a quick pace while scrolling on the ‘Gram.

Evening – back to the gym for about 80 minutes of strength. My legs were a little sore from all the lunges yesterday. Today we did a lot more upper body work with weights. We ended with cardio (box pushes, stairs, burpees and ropes) and abs.

Wednesday, April 25

This is a “recovery” day. I ran 2 miles, power hiked 1 and ran one. Spin class for 45 minutes. My legs were pretty smoked from Monday and Tuesday.

Thursday, April 26

11 miles. This is what they (the serious runners) call a cut down run.

Warm up for 2 miles starting on the lower end of your “easy” pace. So if Mile #1 is 9:15 pace, #2 is 9:05 and -10 seconds per mile until mile 10. I felt pretty good but in miles 9 and 10 I did take a few quick walking breaks. My legs were still tired and it was just a struggle. Some days are like that.

Cool down 1 mile

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Friday, April 27

8 “easy” miles. I just hate that term. It is never EASY, but you just don’t need to care about the pace here is really what that means.

Saturday, April 28

22 miles. GULP. My longest run ever. I was very, very happy to have a friend accompany me on all 22 miles on her bike. It was quite windy this day and there was no escaping it out on the prairie. We ran some section lines (I took a wrong turn) and found some hills. I did finish my last 2 miles in town to escape the wind – it was really beating me down.

Sunday is full recovery day. Take it easy, meal prep, clean house, relax outside a bit, etc.

Finished the week with 60 miles. I feel like another 8 weeks seems so long to “train” but I am taking it week to week and trying to keep my long runs interesting when I can. The change to nicer weather and getting outside for more runs sure helps the attitude.

Maybe I’ll do another check in with training. This one was pretty long – thanks for reading!

 

 

Posted in Exercise, FeistyLife, Healthy Living | 1 Comment

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken (meal prep)

Today I’m sharing a method I use quite often when I meal prep. I’ll make up a big batch of chicken with some flavor. This particular day, I was making BBQ chicken. The chicken cooks quickly in the Instant Pot, or you can use a slow cooker to cook it until it falls apart while you are at work. I actually used my Instant Pot but on the slow cooker setting. I have a feeling I won’t need my slow cooker for much as I use my IP so often.

The slow cooking method is really forgiving and very hard to screw up. My favorite ways to season the chicken are with 1) buffalo sauce, 2) BBQ sauce or 3) salsa for Mexican flavored chicken. Each is super easy to do. Balsamic chicken is another fave. But – BBQ it is for today.

Ingredients – makes 6-8+ servings, depending on size

  • 2-3 lb. trimmed chicken breast
  • 1-2 cups BBQ sauce – I used G Hughes Sugar Free BBQ Sauce – Hickory flavor (2 Tbsp is 10 calories and 2 carbs), available at Walmart
  • 1 small jar pickled jalapenos with juice (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place chicken, BBQ sauce and jalapenos in the slow cooker. If you are not using jalapenos, add in about 1/2 cup water. You want to keep the chicken juicy. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-10 hours. On low, the chicken will likely be done at 6 hours but I am typically away from the home about 10 hours and it was just fine.
  2.  Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and place on a large cutting board or platter. Using two forks, shred the chicken. Place the shredded chicken back in the slow cooker and stir until chicken is well coated in the sauce.
  3. Serve the BBQ chicken in buns or tortillas with cabbage or slaw, if desired. You can also use the BBQ chicken to make pizza, quesadillas, salads, tacos and more.

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On this particular night I had slaw and chicken in a tortilla with cheese and cilantro and my husband had a big salad with slaw, carrots and some cheese. Leftovers freeze well. Enjoy!

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Molasses Banana Bread

It seems like I always end up with a few extra bananas that go brown before we get around to eating them. No problem – they are easy to freeze for smoothies or that “nice” cream people like. Or, my favorite application is banana bread. This particular day I was looking to bake something with molasses. This bread fits the bill and with little sugar and no oil it is fairly low in calories. The bread is great for breakfast or as a quick dessert.

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Molasses is a thick, sweet syrup used commonly in baking cookies or bread, added to sugar to create brown sugar, in shoofly pie, in BBQ sauces and more but most commonly in gingerbread cookies. I think it has a nice tang to it and I love the dark color it showcases.

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I came up with this recipe by looking at other similar recipes and created my own. The idea came from some “healthy” molasses cookies that I attempted a while back. Let it be known that not all recipe creations are successes. Those cookies, not so much. This bread – I loved it.

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Molasses Banana Bread Ingredients, makes 12 slices

  • 3 large bananas, mashed (420g)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (use good quality)
  • 1/3 cup milk of choice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup ground flax
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats

Instructions

Grease a 9×5 loaf pan very well, going up the sides. Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk the first 10 ingredients together in a bowl, then set aside. In a large bowl, stir remaining 3 ingredients together. Pour wet over dry, stir just until evenly mixed, and smooth into the loaf pan. Bake on the center rack for 45-55 minutes – until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove and let cool completely before going around the sides with a knife and inverting onto a plate or cutting from the pan. Store leftover slices in the fridge for 2-3 days or freeze for up to a month or two.

Before and after and my notes as I go along.

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I really enjoy slices of this crumbled into yogurt or toast it lightly in the oven and top with a bit of peanut butter. The bread is dense, tangy, spiced nicely with the cinnamon and stays moist. Enjoy!

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Protein Pumpkin Pancakes

Just like most people (I think anyway) I get in ruts where I make the same foods over and over, don’t know what I want to cook, don’t meal prep or plan in advance and suddenly eating Subway or a bowl of cereal is going to have to cut it as a meal.

I tend to go through phases where I cook up new and inspired dishes and then I get tired and bored of new ideas or looking for something new. Or, sometimes I find something I really like and cook it until I basically get sick of it – true story.

Lately I have been in a bit of a slump with cooking – I’ve mostly prepped some protein in advance and just pair it with a veggie, carb and a fat and call it a meal. Which is actually a great way to eat quite nutritiously, but it isn’t anything creatively inspiring.

So, I got to thinking and I have not shared my favorite weekend meal as of late. I love this meal on a lazy Sunday morning and it is quite healthy. I generally pair these protein pancakes with a fruit smoothie for a good dose of fruits and protein to start the day off on a good foot – even if a person may or may not be hungover. Remember, this is Sunday I’m talking about!

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Pictured above is my pancake batter and what I use for a smoothie. This meal is so simple but I thought I’d still share. I know not everyone uses protein powder or stevia but guess what? I’m not the food police and I really think to each their own. Personally, I really like protein powder – just try mixing it with yogurt and it is like an awesome thick pudding! I just try to get in a lot of nutrition and instead of a greasy skillet, this is a better alternative for me. (Although I do love a greasy skillet combo of hashbrowns with cheese, eggs, meat and toast – again, no judgement!)

Protein Pumpkin Pancakes – generously serves two, is easily halved

  • 1 cup (240 g) canned pumpkin
  • 2 scoops/servings vanilla protein powder
  • 3-4 servings liquid egg whites (depends on how thick you want them)
  • 2 packets stevia (about 2 grams)
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Heat skillet on medium to medium-low heat. Put all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together with a fork. The mixture will seem like it isn’t coming together but it will eventually. Now, whisk the mixture until smooth. Spray pan with non-stick spray and cook pancakes until done. Top with syrup and/or peanut butter and enjoy!

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On this Sunday, I served my pancakes with half a banana topped with cinnamon and peanut butter and a gorgeous fruit smoothie. I am not the type of person to eat a half of anything – whether it be a candy bar or a banana, but I split this one with my husband as it was our last one.

If you are interested the smoothie for two contains: 2 cups milk, one scoop protein powder, a few tablespoons PB fit powder, one single-serve container of yogurt, and a cup or two of frozen mixed berries – whir it all up in the blender and split between two cups.

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Here it is a bit more up close. Afterwards I topped my cakes with syrup – I love lots of syrup and devoured. Enjoy!

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