The Crockpot…

If anyone knows me they know I despise crackpots partially from the terrifying scent of hot pork that would literally over take our entire house as kids! (sorry mom you know I love you!) Between the hot pork and beef stew I never thought I could look at a crock pot without wanting to throw it out the window.

When my husband and I got married we didn’t even register for one because I was convinced I would never use this odd kitchen contraption.  Fast forward 5 years I finally have been convinced of their convince and endless cooking possibilities!  Thanks to my brother-in law who recently moved out of the country we inherited his crock pot and I have been using it ever since!IMG_2162I have found that I can make all the soups I normally make without having to watch my baby and the pot at the same time!  They are super easy and clean up is a breeze which I am sure most of you know but I am new to the crock pot community lol!

One of the first soups I tested out was a vegan lentil soup that turned out really delicious and was super easy!  The first step was to rinse and drain one bag of lentils and put them into the crock pot.IMG_2160 Next up was to figure out what kinds of veggies I wanted to go with them and used up some of what was left in the fridge, including mushrooms, carrots, celery, and half an onion.IMG_2165 I just placed them on top of the lentils and added some seasonings which consisted of black pepper, salt, and celery seasoning.  I also added in some chopped garlic.  Then I just covered the veggies with about 6-8 cups of veggie broth and cooked on low for about 6-8 hours.  IMG_2161 IMG_2166I started it in the morning and it was ready for dinner!  This soup turned out great and is perfect for the winter making a really filling and hearty soup without any meat!
IMG_2159xo Meg

Couscous…

I am in love with this ancient grain, it is a nice change from quinoa and rice and goes perfectly with veggies!  This is super easy to make because you put it in a pot with water and let it absorb all of the water until it is light and fluffy.  For 1 cup of couscous it is about 176 calories with less than 1 gram of fat and about 6 grams of protein depending on the particular brand you purchase.
IMG_7250 IMG_7242 For this dish I started by cooking the couscous with water and followed the instructions on the package.  Next I sautéed some red onion with a little extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Next I tossed in some zucchini and the juice of one lemon.  You could add chicken, steak, or any other veggie that you have on hand and it would be delicious!  IMG_7243 IMG_7244 IMG_7248This dish is pretty low in calories and would make a perfect side dish if you are eating meat I would just cut the portion to maybe half a cup instead of a full cup.  The lemon added the perfect kick to the dish and to top it off I added a little bit of a ripe avocado and it was so good I can’t wait to make it again! This was super easy and you could use a variety of different ingredients and flavors to suit your families taste buds!

xo Meg

Acorn Squash…

I have never eaten more squash before in my life than I have this Fall!  It has quickly become one of my fave foods to eat because it’s delicious and so versatile.  You can do so many different things with squash and it is so healthy for you!

This recipe in particular is great because you can tailor it to your taste buds and it got my husbands seal of approval which is difficult when it comes to veggies!  I made two different versions like I do with most of our dinners, one with meat and one without.  Another reason I love this recipe is that it allows you to use your left overs but feels like a brand new meal.  You could literally use any combination of veggies or substitute the chicken for ground turkey or beef.

Chicken Version

1/3c Cooked Chicken Breast

1/4c Baby Spinach

1/4c Left-over Rice or Quinoa

2T Italian Bread Crumb

1/4c Grated Cheese

1T Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Salt & Pepper to taste
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Veggie Version

1/4c Baby Spinach

1/4c Mini Bella Mushrooms

1/4c Left over Rice or Quinoa

1T Italian Bread Crumbs

2T Grated Cheese

1T Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Salt & Pepper to taste

IMG_3670Steps

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Slice your acorn squash in half scoop the seeds out
  3. Spray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides
  4. Place acorn squash orange side down on a baking tray and cook for about 25 minutes
  5. In a bowl combine the ingredients that you want to stuff your squash with (*save some of the grated cheese to top at the end)
  6. Take a pair of kitchen scissors and cut everything up so that you have smaller pieces which will make it easier to fit everything into the squash
  7. After 25 minutes take the squash out of the oven and carefully flip over
  8. Fill squash with your chicken or veggie mixture and top with the grated cheese and place back in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown
  9. Enjoy!

I love this meal so much it is super filling and nutritious, I also made a piece of tilapia to go along with my veggie version and it was great!  You could also use shrimp to stuff into a veggie version which I have tried before and that was really good too!

xo Meg

Vegan Chili…

This recipe turned out soo good I seriously can’t wait to make it again!  My husband wanted me to make him a big pot of chili so that we could freeze some for him to take for lunches later in the month. So I figured I would try and come up with something that didn’t have meat, but still was filling and tasted like chili!

I looked through our fridge to see what we had that I could throw together and  this is what I came up with.  It really is so simple and you can change up the ingredients to really whatever veggies you have on hand.  We always keep taco and chili seasoning packets in our pantry so these are really quick meals when you are in a rush or don’t know what else to make!

Recipe

1 Packet Low Sodium Chili Seasoning

1T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Can Tomato Sauce

1 Can Diced or Crushed Tomatoes

1 Small Butternut Squash

1 Green Pepper

1/2 Can Black Beans

1/2 Can Kidney Beans (can sub with your fave)

Brown Rice

Steps:

  1. Sautee the veggies in olive oil until they have a little color and start to soften
  2. Add in your tomato products and stir on medium heat
  3. Drain and add in all of the beans
  4. Stir in your Chili Seasoning
  5. Turn Heat to Low and cook for about 30 minutes or until the butternut squash is soft
  6. Serve over brown rice and enjoy!

Approximate Calorie Count

1 cup Chili = 220 calories

1/2 cup Minute Brown Rice Cooked = 112 Calories

Total: 332 Calories


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IMG_5869 IMG_5871 IMG_5873IMG_5885This is now one of my fave meals and it could not be any easier!  If you do eat meat you could easily add in ground turkey, chicken, or beef and it would be a great way to incorporate more veggies into your diet!

xo Meg

Veggie Soup…

So as you can imagine we had a lot of veggies left from our usual box and after a while it gets kinda hard to come up with new ways of using them so that you don’t get bored.  This week I decided to come up with some type of veggie soup with the greens that we had.  I have never had collard greens before and wasn’t quite sure how to cook them after consulting with mom-mom on how she ate them I decided to try a soup.

Then I just looked in my fridge and cabinet to see what I had and basically threw it all together and it seriously turned out delish!  This is so easy to make and is great for the cooler Fall days.  The best part is that you can eat what you want and then I put the rest in individual portions in the freezer so that I can just take it out when I want to eat it and not feel like we have to eat a gallon of soup in one week.

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Recipe

1 Can Black Beans

1 Can Diced Tomatoes

2 Cans Veggie Broth

1 Bunch Collard Greens

1/2 Butternut Squash

1/2 Red Onion

1.5 t Minced Garlic

1.5 T Olive Oil

1.5c Whole Grain Pasta

Red Pepper Flakes, Salt, Ground Pepper, Italian Seasoning, & Celery Salt to taste

Steps:

1. Grab a large sauce pot and sauté your onion, garlic, and seasonings with the olive oil

2. Add butternut squash and let cook for a few minutes

3. Add all of your liquids and bring to a boil

4. Add in your chopped collard or green of choice, pick something hardy so that it doesn’t cook into nothing.

5. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for 20 minutes, then add in your pasta and let cook for another 20 minutes. (You could also cook your pasta separately and then add it as you serve the soup)

6. Top with grated parm cheese and enjoy!

xo Meg

Kelsey’s Eggplant Parm…

This recipe is so delicious and full credit for it goes to my youngest sister Kelsey! She made this for me the first time about a year ago and I can’t get enough of it! It is a super simple meal to make but it is so delicious! I was so surprised when she first made it for us, I had never really seen her cook before and it seriously is so amazing, she did a great job!

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When I was at the grocery store I was in search of fresh veggies that we haven’t tried before. I came across purple potatoes and this really cool zebra striped eggplant! I thought that they looked beautiful and they were delicious as well! They both tasted just like the normal versions but its fun to switch it up every now and then!

The first step would be to wash your veggies and then slice up the eggplant into equal sized slices so that they cook evenly.  Then pre-heat your oven, dip each slice into an egg white and then bread with Italian breadcrumb.  Place slices on a baking sheet and bake for ten minutes.  At the ten minute mark take the tray out and flip each slice and continue baking for ten more minutes.  When the second ten minutes are up take out the eggplant and start to assemble the slices with tomato sauce and cheese and then place back in the oven at 400 degrees and wait for the cheese to get nice and bubbly!  Once the cheese melts your are all done!  You can serve this with whole grain pasta or a fresh salad.

When I made this I measured everything out to my specific calorie needs for the day so I used a 1/2 cup of sauce and 1/4 c of mozzarella cheese and 1/4 c of the breadcrumbs. This is a delicious meal and even though I didn’t eat it with pasta I was so full! The recipe will be to feed 2-3 but you can make as much as you want!

I used Rao’s Marinara Sauce which my sister insist upon using with this recipe!  If you don’t want to make your own sauce and want something really quick that you can pick up at most grocery stores.  I highly recommend this sauce it is so delicious and great regular pasta and we even make homemade pizzas with it!

Recipe

1 Large Eggplant

1/2 c Italian Breadcrumbs

1 Egg White

1-1.5 c Marinara Sauce

1/2 c Shredded Mozerella Cheese

4 T Grated Parmigano Cheese

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Thanks kel love ya!!

xo Meg

Pasta with Veggies…

There seems to be a reoccurring theme with many of my dinners and that is shrimp with veggies!  I don’t eat meat so they are a really easy substitute and I love them with veggies.  I try to mix up what I put them on and what flavors I use to cook them, even though many of my dishes look similar they do actually taste different!  This one is a really good one if you are in the mood for pasta.  I was really craving it this week, what I do is make a bunch of pasta and then I can tailor it to everyone’s specific tastes.  For example, I will eat it veggies and shrimp, my daughter eats just the veggies, and my husband eats it with just sauce and maybe chicken or a burger on the side.  This is usually how dinner goes every night, three different renditions of whatever is on the menu!  It helps to have one base ingredient that everyone likes and just use different add ins.

I first pulled out the marina sauce my mom made us from the freezer (thanks mom!) and let it defrost the day before.  Then that night I made a bunch of pasta almost a pound of Pasta Plus spaghetti.  Then I sautéed the veggies, I just use whatever I have in the fridge today it was zucchini, red onion, and baby spinach.  Then I cooked the shrimp and assembled everyone’s dish and topped with Parmigiano a necessity and only has about 20 calories per tablespoon but it adds so much flavor!

IMG_3042 IMG_3047 IMG_3048 IMG_3050 IMG_3051 IMG_3054I absolutely love the marina sauce that my mom and mom-mom make it is so delish and actually very easy to make.

Recipe

1 Can Crushed Tomatoes

2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 t crushed garlic

1/4 c diced red onions

Oregano, Basil, Salt, & Pepper to taste

*Cook onions and garlic in oil until translucent and then add the tomatoes and seasonings and heat through on stove top.  You could easily double this recipe and store extra in the freezer for a quick meal later!

xo Meg

Orange Chicken…

For the last couple of years I have bounced back and forth from eating meat to no eating meat, for the past couple of months I have technically been eating a pescitarian diet.  Personally I just feel my best when I don’t eat meat, I still consume some dairy products like mozzarella cheese.  The Italian in me just cant let it go! I have switched to unsweetened almond milk in my coffee and baking and actually really love it!  Occasionally I will have yogurt but other than that its mostly fish, veggies, and grains.  That being said, it doesn’t mean that I don’t still cook for the rest of my family and I really don’t see my husband going veg anytime soon! One of his fave meals is orange chicken like the kind that is deep fried, sweet but still kind of sour, you know fattening and delicious.  So we were in the town over the other weekend with our friends and went to a shop where they specialize in flavor infused olive oils.  They were all really good and decided on garlic and tangerine.  So my husband asked me to come up with an orange chicken that was healthier than the kind you would find in a restaurant.  So this is what I came up with, I obviously didn’t eat the chicken but I had the same marinade on my salmon and it was delic!

Recipe

1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast

3T Tangerine infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2T Orange Marmalade

2T Spicy Brown Mustard (or to taste)

1/4 T Honey

Salt & Pepper to taste

1 Large Orange zested

1 Large Orange Juiced

*Let the chicken maranade for as long as you can, ours sat for about 2 hours in the fridge.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 mins depending on how thick your chicken is cut or you could throw it on the grill

IMG_2983IMG_2974 IMG_2981 IMG_2986 IMG_2987 IMG_2990My husband absolutely loved how it turned out and said that it was light and fresh perfect for a hot North Carolina night! I served the chicken with brown rice and broccoli.  Depending on how you like to eat your rice you could double the recipe and save some of the marinade to put on the chicken after it comes out of the oven and mix it over the rice.

xo Meg

Pesto Shrimp & Quinoa…

So let me start with how excited my husband and I were to plant a garden as soon as we moved into our new house.  We couldn’t wait to pick fresh veggies with our daughter and thought that it would be so amazing to walk into our back yard and pick a fresh salad! With little to no research we headed out to Lowes to buy a ton of veggies dirt and stone to build our garden and it turned out so great we were so proud.  We used half already started plants and half seeds, everything was doing great and really growing until we had about three weeks of horrible rain and that pretty much killed everything in our garden we were so upset!

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Before everything died…
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The sickest bug I have ever seen & literally ate all of our tomato plants!

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All that hard work and aspiration for this amazing organic garden! Pretty much the only thing we have left is our basil plant which seems to be doing great, which leads to this recipe that I came up with determined to cook with something that we grew!

I always keep frozen shrimp on hand because they are super quick and easy to defrost, luckily my husband likes shrimp so its an easy meal for us to make.  You could easily substitute whole grain pasta out for the quinoa and that would be delic! I just happened to have this on hand at the moment.

I browsed online for a couple of pesto recipes and ended up making my own version that I loved and shockingly my husband liked too!  The main difference would be the lemon juice that I added but I love the tangy taste that it gives and made the pesto less thick.  You could use this pesto on anything like chicken, spread on french bread with tomatoes, or just on plain pasta.

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Pesto Recipe

1.5 c Basil

1 t Garlic

3 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 c Grated Parm Cheese

1 Lemon (juice only)

Salt & Pepper to taste

*combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until your desired consistency!

After I made the pesto i marinated the shrimp in the mixture for a little and then threw them into a frying pan, we had planned on grilling them but it started pouring so that was a no-go! I had started the quinoa in the beginning of my prep and let it cook until it was done.  When my shrimp were done I threw in about two cups of spinach for some extra veggies, then added in my quinoa and it was all done!

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This was really a pretty simple meal and not very time consuming, the best part is if you make extra you already have a great lunch packed for the next day!

xo Meg

My go-to dinner…

For some reason I have been in one of those ruts where I don’t know what to make and it is so hot out that I don’t really feel like making complicated dishes that will have me standing by the stove all night.  I still want something tasty and healthy at the same time.

This is a meal where I usually always have the ingredients and it is seriously so simple but I think that it is delicious and super easy to make.  First what I will do is throw my potatoes in the oven for about 40 mins before we want to eat and then just forget about them until everything else is all done.

I use the individual frozen tilapia fillets.  These are so great because one my husband will eat them and he usually hates fish!  They don’t have to defrost and if you are running low on time or just need something quickly you can literally just throw them in the oven and they will be ready in no time.  I always put low sodium Season All on them and then just bake them in the oven until they are flaky.

The last part is just any veggie that you happen to have on hand I love baby spinach but you could do anything!  It is so easy and quick but delicious and a healthy alternative to throwing a frozen pizza in the oven!

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Thanks for reading!

xo Meg