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Spinach with Feta and Craisins

The weather is beautiful at my house. We spend all day outside, or at least it feels like it. It’s the perfect weather to start grilling. My biggest menu planning failure is planning side dishes. I think as far as “grilled chicken” and MAYBE a starch, like potatoes or rice. But vegetables? I often just wing it with what is in my fridge/pantry.

For me, this spinach is perfect because it uses ingredients I usually have around. And it is really quick and easy, a must for this time of year. It is full of flavor and different textures which makes it a winner all around. Enjoy!

Spinach with Feta and Craisins (serves 4)

Spinach with Feta and Craisins

18 ounces fresh spinach
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
⅓ cup pine nuts
½ cup craisins
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Place spinach and water in a large bowl. Cover bowl. Microwave until spinach has decreased in volume by half, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from microwave and keep covered for 1 minute.
2. Transfer spinach to colander and press out excess water.
3. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, nuts, and craisins. Cook, stirring constantly until garlic and nuts are beginning to LIGHTLY brown (watch carefully to not burn).
4. Add spinach. Toss to coat. Keep stirring until combined, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with vinegar and feta. Serve immediately.

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 225
Protein: 7 g
Fat: 14 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 8 mg
Carbohydrates: 24 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sodium: 209 mg

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Pan Fried Tilapia with Curried Greens

Two for one today! Here is a super simple, quick dinner that we all need right now. The fish is as simple as they come but still incredibly simple. Try different seasoning blends (preferably salt free or low sodium) to mix it up. The greens are a great side to try out strong flavored greens. Experiment with different leafy greens – I love mustard greens, but chard and collards are also excellent here. There is an entire world outside of kale.

Happy eating!

Pan Fried Tilapia (Serves 4)

Pan Fried Tilapia

4 tilapia fillets
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil

1. Lightly season fish with lemon pepper (or desired seasoning, see note).
2. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a medium-sized skillet. Add fillets. Cook for 4-6 minutes per side, flipping once. Cook until fish flakes easily – internal temperature of 145 degrees.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 143
Protein: 23 g
Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 58 mg
Carbohydrates: less than 1 g
Fiber: less than 1 g
Sodium: 60 mg

Curried Greens (Serves 4)

Curried Greens

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bunch greens (collards, mustard, kale)
½ onion thinly sliced
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp sugar
1 (15.5 oz) can light coconut milk
2 tablespoons lime juice

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add ginger, garlic, greens, and onion; saute 3 minutes, until greens and onion begin to soften. Stir in curry powder; cook 30 seconds.
2. Stir in sugar and coconut milk; cook until reduced by half, about 6 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Stir in juice; reduce heat to medium, and cook 2 minutes. Serve.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 282
Protein: 4 g
Fat: 28 g
Saturated Fat: 22 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 9 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 26 mg

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

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Apple Chicken Salad

Lunch is one of the hardest meals of the day for me. I want to eat healthy, preferably without cooking. I don’t want to use up my leftovers most of the time. I want something quick. And obviously, it has to be delicious.

Various types of chicken salad have become a bit of a go to for me. I can use it on crackers, as a sandwich, as lettuce wraps, or on a salad. It gives me several days of lunch with one day of effort. All wins. And it is tasty.

Apple Chicken Salad (Serves 4)

Apple Chicken Salad

1 can of chicken, drained well
1 apple, chopped small
¼ cup walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons blue cheese
¼ cup mayo
2 tablespoons dijon mustard

1. Mix all ingredients until well combined.

Nutritional information (amount per serving):

Calories: 165
Protein: 11 g
Fat: 10 g
Saturated fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 19 mg
Carbohydrates: 8 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 335 mg

Recipe notes: There are lots of ways to serve this, as I mentioned above.

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Carrot Tahini Soup

Spring is here. I’m so excited for the warmer weather, sunshine, and vibrant colors. Even in my food, I want more color. Fast food is also key, because we want to soak up the sun while we can, right?

This carrot soup fits all the criteria. Beautiful, bright orange. Full of fresh flavor. Easily on the table in 30 minutes. Even the kids loved it. Wins all around! Enjoy!

Carrot Tahini Soup (Serves 4)

Carrot Tahini Soup

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb carrots, chopped
3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
3 tbsp tahini
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 tsp fresh thyme
¼ cup unsalted cashews or peanuts, chopped
¼ cup plain greek yogurt

1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute onion for 5 minutes. Add salt, paprika, garlic, and carrots. Cook for 1 minute.

2. Add broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until carrots are tender enough to blend. (Pressure cooker option: Cover, seal, bring to high pressure. Cook on high pressure for 7 minutes. Quick release pressure.)

3. Combine carrot mixture and tahini in a blender (or add tahini to pot off heat and use immersion blender). Beldn until smooth. Serve with a sprinkle of herbs, nuts, and 1 tablespoon yogurt on each bowl.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 237
Protein: 9 g
Fat: 14 g
Saturated fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 1 mg
Carbohydrates: 22 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sodium: 810 mg

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

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Greek Chicken Bowl

Spring is here! Fall is my favorite season, but spring has to be a close runner up. It’s so great to have the sun out more, a little warmer weather, and feel like everything is coming alive again. I have definitely spent more of my waking hours today outdoors than in, and I love it.

Spring also feels like a great time for some lighter, faster meals. Still filling, but with a fresh feeling. I love these Greek chicken bowls for lunch or dinner. Easily adaptable to whatever tastes you have in your house. Also easy to use some store bought ingredients to save yourself some time. Enjoy!

Greek Chicken Bowls (Serves 4 at least)

Greek Chicken Bowl

1 cup quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons lemon juice
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp oregano
1 cup nonfat plain greek yogurt
¼ tsp garlic powder
2 tsp lemon juice
½ seedless cucumber, diced small
½ cup hummus
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, diced
½ seedless cucumber, diced small
½ cup feta cheese
kalamata olives, optional

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with foil.

2. Combine quinoa, broth, and lemon juice in a pot. Cook quinoa as long as package directs. Fluff with a fork.

3. Place sweet potatoes on one baking sheet and chicken on another. Drizzle sweet potatoes with oil. Combine salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic. Toss half over potatoes, rub half on chicken. Bake for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender and chicken is 165 degrees (rotate pans halfway through cooking time).

4. Combine yogurt through chopped cucumber in a blender, pulse until combined. (tzaitziki sauce)

5. To serve, place 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/2 sliced chicken breast, 1/4 of the sweet potatoes, 2 tablespoons hummus, some red onion, some tomatoes, some cucumber, and 2 tablespoons feta in a bowl. Drizzle with tzaitziki sauce and olives to taste.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 652
Protein: 54 g
Fat: 18 g
Saturated Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 120 mg
Carbohydrates: 70 g
Fiber: 10 g
Sodium: 787 mg

Recipe notes: This recipe looks complicated. You can simplify if you have rotisserie chicken meat on hand. Also, buy storebought hummus (any flavor) and tzaitziki sauce if you like. The toppings listed here are yummy, but you could also throw in some spinach or any vegetables you like.

Source: adapted from Everyday Reading

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Pear Cinnamon Smoothie

Starting about a year ago, I finally joined the breakfast smoothie band wagon. I would make them off and on before that. But I wasn’t a huge fan. I always felt hungry soon after or wanted more food. Something finally clicked with me though, and I’ve loved them. I think it helps that I can drink it as part of my cool down from exercising. And I can sip as I go about my morning mom duties – grabbing breakfast for kids, cleaning up, making beds, etc. It feels less time consuming.

I’ll admit that the a berry-banana-chocolate protein powder smoothie is my go to, since I always keep the ingredients around. But it is nice to liven things up sometimes. This pear cinnamon smoothie is really easy to throw together and is yummy and satisfying. Enjoy!

Pear Cinnamon Smoothie (Makes 2 servings)

Pear Cinnamon Smoothie

2 pears
1 cup vanila nonfat greek ygourt
1 banana
¼ – ½ teaspoon cinnamon, to taste
ice, as needed for desired consistency

1. Blend ingredients until smooth.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 272
Protein: 14 g
Fat: 1 g
Saturated fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 4 mg
Carbohydrates: 57 g
Fiber: 8 g
Sodium: 54 mg

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Chili Sauce Salmon

Lent season is coming soon, which for many people means Fish Fridays. We like fish at my house. Even my kids eat it well, which surprises me literally every time I make it. As a kid, I only ate fish sticks. But the mild flavor of salmon really appeals to my kids. Which I think is a win.

This salmon is super simple to grill or bake in the oven. Chili sauce is kind of a random ingredient, but I’ve never had trouble finding it in the condiment section at the grocery store. Enjoy!

Chili Sauce Salmon (Serves 4)

Chili Sauce Salmon

4 (6-7 ounce) salmon fillets
¼ cup chili sauce
¼ cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

1. Combine chili sauce thorugh soy sauce. Place in a resealable bag. Toss salmon to coat in marinade. Refrigerate and marinade for at least 30 minutes, up to 4-6 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 375. Bake salmon 30 minutes, or until internal temperature is 145 degrees.

OR Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Grill salmon 5-7 minutes per side, or until internal temperature is 145 degrees.

Recipe notes: You have a couple options on the marinade. It is delicious just marinated and cooked. If you want sauce (like picture), you can save the marinade and boil it and use it as a sauce. Or make a second batch of the marinade after. I did the later to have something to picture, but I halved the amount which was plenty.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 287
Protein: 36 g
Fat: 8 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 79 mg
Carbohdyrates: 18 g
Fiber: less than 1 g
Sodium: 623 mg

Source: original recipe

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