SNACK ATTACK – Drink your veggies!

I love fruits and veggies. But its only been in the last couple of years that I have learned how much I REALLY love to drink my veggies, especially my greens … kales, spinach … oh yum! I started out adding a couple of handfuls of spinach to my Green Monster smoothies (recipe coming soon!) for breakfast every morning. That didn’t seem too bad, so I added a couple more. Then I experimented with kale, Swiss chard and a few others. I think kale and spinach are my absolute favorite, especially since kale is like the Superman of greens.

I was recently talking to the store manager at our local Earth Fare about the different juices and smoothies they offer at their Juice Bar. I’m not a big juicer for several reasons: its expensive to buy a juicer, its expensive to buy all of the produce and if you aren’t careful, the calories add up really fast. But he intrigued me with their Ginger Kale Lemonade. I didn’t try theirs that day because I was looking for something more filling but it inspired me to create something of my own.

So here’s the recipe.

A few notes:
– The more ginger you add, the spicier it is. I liked mine spicy and not sweet.
– Because I don’t have a juicer, I made mine in a blender so it was more like the consistency of a smoothie instead of a juice.
– Despite it being VERY bright green, everyone in my family tried it, but none of them liked it. They all thought it was too tangy. They like things much sweeter than I do. If you want yours a little sweeter, feel free to add a little organic honey.

I can see this being one of my go-to summer drinks when I’m sitting on the deck on a sunny day watching the kids play in the backyard.

Its only about 85 calories for 1/2 of the recipe (without honey) and pairs nicely with 1/2 of a serving of almonds (about 14) for a 165 calorie snack. Enjoy!

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FOOD PREP MENU – April 23, 2014

Menu:

Monday – Chicken Power Bowl
Tuesday – Coconut Chicken Strips with Apricot Sauce and Quinoa with Sweet Potato and Green Beans
Wednesday –  Asian Lettuce Wraps
Thursday – Asian Salmon
Friday – Quinoa Taco Bake

Grocery Shopping list for this menu.

Let’s get two meals out of the way super quick so we can feel very accomplished. It’s the little things that keep me going.

Get one of your storage bags and write Coconut Chicken on it. Then add your flour and unsweetened coconut. Done! Not really but almost … now you need to cut your chicken breasts into strips and put those in another storage bag and put them in the refrigerator. Now you really are done with the Coconut Chicken until you are ready to cook it.

Next let’s prep the Asian Salmon. (This is probably our FAVORITE recipe at Food Prep Headquarters!) Grate all of your ginger. You are going to need it for two recipes. Then get another storage bag and measure out the olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, ginger and garlic. Seal it and put it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to prepare it.

Two recipes out of the way … feels pretty good doesn’t it??

Now let’s peel and chop our sweet potatoes and get them in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 while you prep. Once you’ve chopped them, put them in a storage bag and drizzle with olive oil and shake. Then pour on a foil-covered baking sheet. Put them in the oven for 20-30 minutes. At the same time, put 5-6 eggs in the oven to make hard-baked eggs for your Power Bowl. Click here for Alton Brown’s Hard-Baked Eggs. (I will never hard boil eggs again! Also I bake mine right on the rack not in muffin tins.)

Let’s also put our quinoa and rice on the stove top to cook.

Now that we have all of that happening, let’s spend some time chopping. Chop all of your onions, garlic, jalapenos, peppers, scallions and water chestnuts. Also drain and rinse your black beans and garbanzo beans.

You may have to stop periodically to take things out of the oven or off of the stove as they finish.

Let’s start with the Asian lettuce wraps. I took a few liberties with this recipe. For one it called for ground chicken not ground chicken breast. I used ground chicken breast and it turned out fine. The recipe also calls for microwaving the chicken until it’s no longer pink. Well, that didn’t happen either. I just went ahead and cooked it through in a skillet. Again it turned out fine.

In a large skillet, cook your ground chicken through making sure it crumbles. Once it is cooked, line a bowl with paper towels and transfer it to the bowl to drain. Then in a storage bag, add your chicken, bell pepper, onion, garlic, hoisin sauce, ginger, salt and pepper. In a separate smaller bag, add your water chestnuts and rice. Put both bags in the refrigerator and we are finished with meal #3.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Now let’s pop our garbanzo beans in the oven to bake while we work on our next recipe. Put your garbanzo beans in a storage bag with a drizzle of olive oil and mix to coat, then pour them out onto a foil covered baking sheet and season with salt. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes until crispy.

While that is baking, let’s make the quinoa taco bake. Follow the recipe directions through assembly, then cover with foil and store in the refrigerator until the day you want to serve it, and then bake it.

 Roasted Red Peppers

Fire Roasted Red Peppers

Next let’s put our chicken breasts on to cook in a large skillet on the stove. Add a little olive oil to the pan and season them with salt and pepper. Brown each side and cook through. Once it is finished, slice it and store it in the refrigerator.

While that is cooking, you can toss together your Sweet Potato and Green Bean Quinoa. In a storage container, mix your quinoa, baked sweet potato cubes, chopped green beans, dried cranberries, walnuts, onion and salt & pepper then drizzle with olive and store in the refrigerator.

And finally let’s make the dressing for our Power Bowls. Combine the juice of two lemons, 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 clove of minced garlic and salt and pepper. Shake or whisk and store in the refrigerator. All the ingredients for the Power Bowl are ready and can be combined when you are ready to serve it.

Chicken Power Bowl

Chicken Power Bowl

DONE! Five delicious meals to last you for an entire week and probably plenty of leftovers for lunch too.

Please give us your feedback on how food prep is going for your family. What works? What doesn’t? What are your favorite meals? Have you found any great time-saving tricks?

FOOD PREP Menu – April 9, 2014

Menu:
Monday – Southwestern Turkey & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Tuesday – Quinoa Burrito Bowls
Wednesday – Farro Risotto with Bacon, Parm and Brussel Sprouts
Thursday – Kale and Quinoa Salad with Pumpkin Sage Dressing
Friday – Chicken Parm Meatball Subs

Grocery Shopping list for this menu.

There was a slight hint of Spring in the air this week so you might notice my menu reflecting the change in seasons. I’ve added a couple of lighter items to the menu this week.

And thanks to Domesticate-Me.com, I’m very excited to try a couple of new dishes this week. I stumbled across her when I was looking for a copycat Kale & Quinoa Salad recipe for a salad I had at a local gastropub, The Crest, that was to die for. I never did find the perfect recipe so I made my own with inspirations from several I found online.

Let’s start by putting our chicken in the crockpot. Put however many chicken breasts you need for your family size in the crockpot, cover with water or chicken broth and cook on high for 3 hours.

Next let’s pop our brussel sprouts and butternut squash in the oven to roast. Preheat your oven to 350. Then cube your butternut squash (or if you’re like me, I buy mine cubed. Some things are just worth an extra $1!) and slice your brussel sprouts.

Brussel Sprouts

Cleaning Brussel Sprouts

Put the squash in a storage bag, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil in the bag, seal it and shake to coat. Then pour it on a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil. In the same storage bag, add your brussel sprouts, drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil, seal it and shake it to coat too. Pour it on another cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil.

Place both pans in the oven. Cook your brussel sprouts for about 20-30 minutes until browned. Cook your butternut squash for about 40 minutes until soft.

While those are roasting, put all of your quinoa on the stove to cook — 3 cups of quinoa and 6 cups of water for about 15 minutes.

Now let’s get chopping. Chop your onion, shallots and jalapenos, mince your garlic and zest your lemon.

Chopped Veggies

Chopped Veggies

When your quinoa is finished, divide it our into three dishes — 1/2 cup for stuffed peppers, 1 cup for kale salad and 1.5 cups for burrito bowls (you can put this one in the refrigerator).

Let’s start on the stuffed peppers. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. When hot, add corn kernels and saute for about 3 minutes until just tender. Add the onions, garlic and jalapenos and cook until the onions soften and the garlic becomes fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add the ground turkey and cook until browned. Then add black beans (drained and rinsed), cooked quinoa, fire roasted tomatoes, oregano, chili powder, cumin and cayenne. (Note: After seeing the price of Mexican chili powder, I quickly googled a recipe for it while standing in the grocery, realized I had all of the ingredients and just whipped up my own.

Once it is all mixed together, take it off the heat and put it in a storage container and place in the refrigerator. All you will need to do when you are ready to eat it is cut your peppers in half, add the stuffing and bake.

Stuffing the Peppers

Stuffing the Peppers

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers

By now your roasted veggies should be ready. You can set them aside to cool until we need them.

Now mix your quinoa, kale and butternut squash in a storage container and put it in the refrigerator. I thought my kale pieces were too big so I took a pair of kitchen shears to them and chopped them down to be super small. In another smaller storage container, measure out 1/3 cup each of pumpkin seeds, chopped pecans and craisins. You can add these to the salad on the day you are going to eat it. I keep them separate so the pecans and seeds don’t get soft.

Kale & Quinoa Salad

Kale & Quinoa Salad

To make your dressing, add all of the ingredients to a bowl and mix with an immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can mix it in a regular blender. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Next up, the chicken parm meatballs. First toast your bread and make your bread crumbs in a food processor. Then in a large bowl, mix all of your ingredients, shape them into balls (about the size of a golf ball) and place them a few inches apart on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. When your chicken meatballs are done, take them out of the oven to cool then put them in a freezer bag and freeze them for later in the week.

While those are baking, let’s make our farro risotto. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan. Add shallots and saute for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute.

Stir in the farro until its well-coated with olive oil. Be careful not to let the shallots and garlic burn. Reduce the heat to low and add the white wine. Cook until liquid is completely absorbed.

Once the wine is absorbed, add one cup of chicken broth to the pan, until the farro is just covered. Cook at a simmer until absorbed, stirring periodically. Repeat this process by adding 1/2 cup at a time until farro is al dente.

Next stir in the roasted brussel sprouts and prosciutto (or in my case, turkey bacon that I’ve already cooked in the microwave until just done, not crisp.)

Remove from heat and pour into a large storage container, add one tablespoon of olive oil, lemon zest and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Mix together, cover and place in the refrigerator.

We are almost done! Now it’s time to check your chicken. It should be fully cooked and ready to be shredded. Shred the chicken and put it in a storage container until you are ready to make your quinoa burrito bowls.