Another double dose

Hey y’all. Appears it’s time for another double dose of Recipe Run-down, as I’ve once again been negligent in my writing… In fairness, my sister decided at the last minute to come down for a visit this past weekend, so that took top priority! On the plus side, between her visit and a friend’s birthday brunch this weekend, I’ve been doing some serious baking, and also crock-potting (if that’s not a word, it should be). These recipes are PERFECT for these chilly crisp fall days, so grab yourself a cup of your favorite coffee or tea, and read on.

Run4UC Recipe Run-down!

…another double dose.

On the menu:

  • Crock Pot Pumpkin Cinnamon Applesauce

  • Chicken and Pepper Fajitas

  • Vegetarian Bean and Polenta Casserole

  • Slow Cooker Quinoa Chicken Chili

  • Whole Wheat Apple-Pumpkin Muffins

 

Crock Pot Pumpkin Cinnamon Applesauce from Prevention RD (Click here for original post and recipe)

Yes, the week after the black bean soup, I was back to Prevention RD for more. I had been longing to make the first pumpkin anything of the season and also trying to figure out some healthy late-ish night snacks. (Don’t know about you, but when I work out in the evening, dinner alone just doesn’t cut it, so having a snack arsenal is incredibly important.) So when I came across Nicole’s pumpkin applesauce, I knew I had to try it. I always loved growing up, going to the orchard with mom, and coming home to make batches and batches of homemade applesauce. Best part about this recipe? All done in the CROCK POT. No slaving over the stove all day, still get the perfect fall snack.

mmm. good cold, best warm right out of the crock pot :)

mmm. good cold, best warm right out of the crock pot :)

Thoughts on the recipe: Loved this. It’s definitely not your typical applesauce, but part of what was so fun about it is that it’s different. The pumpkin flavor is pretty strong, so you do probably need to love both applesauce and  pumpkin to fully enjoy this recipe. But, you could also easily adapt this to have a much more mild pumpkin flavor if that’s what you prefer.

Thoughts on the blog: You can see my thoughts from this Recipe Run-Down! Hint: I love it.

Adaptations: A few things to note here. 1) I have a 4.5 quart crock pot, which didn’t quite fit all the apples. I’d suggest that if you don’t use all the apples, cut back a bit on the pumpkin as well so it doesn’t become overpowering. 2) The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of brown sugar (pumpkin itself isn’t very sweet), but I decided to only put about 1 tablespoon. I like applesauce just fine with no sugar in it, so this worked okay for me. If you like a bit more sweetness, I’d definitely suggest sticking with the 1/4 cup. Or you can make it with less, and just add more sugar to individual servings according to taste. You could also increase your apple to pumpkin ratio, and that would sweeten it up as well without adding more sugar.

Keep or toss?: Keep. It was a tasty and fun way to mix it up for the start of pumpkin season! Plus it made my house smell AMAZING while it was cooking ;)

 

Chicken and Pepper Fajitas from Real Simple (Click here for original post and recipe)

Thoughts on the recipe: So this one may be a no brainer for some of you, but hey, when you’re stuck for meal ideas it’s nice to have an easy recipe right in front of you! And folks, this one is super easy. Just chicken, bell peppers, and some garlic, onion and spices, all done in the skillet, and you’ve got a meal in 20 minutes or less. Plus this stores great as leftovers, and I love the variety of fajitas. You can use the mexican-flavored chicken and peppers for true fajitas on a tortilla, a “fajita bowl”, or anything else you like, and you can change up your leftovers by adding different toppings! I generally just ate mine as fajita bowls (honestly, it was just easier), and topped it with some spicy corn and black bean salsa, avocado, and fat-free greek yogurt (your friendly neighborhood sub for sour cream).

one skillet and all done!

one skillet and all done!

Thoughts on the blog: Okay, so Real Simple is not a blog. It’s a lifestyle magazine. But they do come up with some great recipes!

Adaptations: Other than eating it as a bowl rather than on tortillas most nights, no adaptations made to the recipe. I thought the flavor was just right for what I wanted, but you could always add some additional spices if you wanted to mix it up or increase the heat.

Delicious on corn tortillas

Delicious on corn tortillas

Toss or keep? Keep! You won’t necessarily create a fancy masterpiece with this straightforward recipe, but some nights I have no desire for that. This is easy and creates a delicious meal and great leftovers. What more could you want?

 

Vegetarian Slow Cooker Bean and Polenta Casserole by Better Homes and Gardens (Click here for the original post and recipe)

Thoughts on the recipe: The original name of this recipe on the BHG website was “Vegetable Casserole.” Seriously? This title is so lame that I almost missed out on one of the best recipes I’ve tried! This was a lunch swap recipe, and a TOTAL hit, so you know it’s been approved! This is another crock pot recipe and could not be easier. You just mix some spices with some cans of beans, and then layer into the crock pot with polenta and cheese, and top with spinach and tomatoes at the end. I’m telling you, I cannot describe how great this was. The italian spices with the polenta and cheese… the smell of it cooking was out of this world, and the taste did not disappoint. And it also made for great leftovers! The hardest part of this recipe is just finding the polenta in the grocery store. If you don’t know, polenta is just a form of cornmeal (and is gluten-free!). It comes in tubes, and usually it can be found in the aisle with the other grains (quinoa, rice, pasta), but is also sometimes found other places in the store (like mixed in with the produce, which is where I found mine…).

Here's the mixture of beans, spices, and the secret ingredient - pesto!

Here’s the mixture of beans, spices, and the secret ingredient – pesto!

Just getting started in the crock pot, before topping with cheese, spinach and tomato. (Failed to get a final photo, but check out the original link!)

Just getting started in the crock pot, before topping with cheese, spinach and tomato. (Failed to get a final photo, but check out the original link!)

Thoughts on the blog: Again, a magazine not a blog. But a simple, incredibly delicious recipe nonetheless.

Adaptations: None. Followed this to a T and wouldn’t change a thing.

Toss or keep? KEEP. Go make this right now.

 

Slow Cooker Quinoa Chicken Chili from The Girl Who Ate Everything (Click here for the original post and recipe)

Thoughts on the recipe: THIS WAS SO GOOD. It was good the first day, and in true chili fashion was even better on days two and three. I have never made chili with quinoa, and wasn’t sure how I would like it, but folks let me tell you, it was awesome. It adds some heartiness and texture without taking anything away from what you love best about a good chili. I’m generally lukewarm about quinoa – I like it, but I don’t loooove it – but I really loved it in this. This would be a great recipe for those of you on the fence about quinoa, and for everyone else, you’re guaranteed to love it too. This recipe is also incredibly healthy, which I love. It’s full of chicken (much leaner than chili’s best friend ground beef), beans, tomatoes, corn, plus some extra whole grains from the quinoa. The next time you’re wondering what to cook on a cold day, the answer is this chili.

Was too busy chowing down to photograph... Photo credit for this goes to http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/

Was too busy chowing down to photograph… Photo credit for this goes to http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/

Thoughts on the blog: I pulled this one from pinterest at the last minute before grocery shopping, but given how good this was I’ll definitely be heading to the blog for more!

Adaptations: Absolutely none. For reference, it had a mild-moderate level of spiciness, so you could adjust the spices as you like it. Oh! And be careful if your crock pot is any smaller than 4.5 quarts. My 4.5-er handled this okay, but any smaller and this will boil over.

Toss or keep? Keep!!! So, so good.

 

Super Soft 100% Whole Wheat Apple-Pumpkin Muffins from The Comfort of Cooking (Click here for original post and recipe)

Thoughts on the recipe: This is a great healthy muffin recipe. I love muffins, and I get disheartened looking at all of the recipes full of processed sugar and unbleached white flour. Those sugary, high-fat muffins are great for a treat, but when I want them for breakfast or to snack on, I want something a bit more healthy. This recipe is just that. Not sugar or fat-free, but definitely lower in both than your typical muffin. Plus, the apple-pumpkin flavor makes them a perfect fall treat! The best part about these muffins is the texture. The title does not lie – they are seriously SUPER soft and very moist, which isn’t normally what you get with a whole wheat muffin!

fresh out of the oven!

fresh out of the oven!

Thoughts on the blog: Again, a pinterest recipe, but will be back for more.

Adaptations: When I made these, I was making them for a friends’ brunch and didn’t want them to be too whole-wheaty. Often the best way to avoid this but still get some good whole grains in there is to do half white/half whole wheat flour, so that’s what I did, and I was happy with the result (though I think they would be just fine with all whole wheat flour). If I made them again, I think I would add a bit more cinnamon for flavor. Also, these would be awesome and more flavorful with tiny apple chunks mixed in the batter, or blueberries, or raisins, or dark chocolate chips!

Toss or keep? Keep, with some add-ins to the batter. These are a great healthy snack!

 

I also made some seriously outstanding [gluten-free!] pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies last weekend, but that recipe will have to wait just a little longer. They deserve a post of their own! I hope you’re loving these cool autumn days as much as I am, and that these recipes make your days just a little bit warmer and a whole lot yummier. :)

 

What have you been cooking lately? Have you tried anything from Recipe Run-down, and what did you think?

Happy October!

Just a little note to say Happy October! Not only have we finally been having some cool-ish fall weather down here, but now the best month of the year is here! To celebrate, I put some pumpkin applesauce in the crockpot this morning before I left for class and work. Making applesauce makes me miss childhood and Pennsylvania – fall time always meant trips to the apple orchard and cooking tons of applesauce on the stove top with mom. North Carolina is a little short on orchards, and my family’s pretty far away, but for now this taste of home will do. I’m excited to have tried a pumpkin version, and spent my day very much looking forward to how my house would smell deliciously like fall when I got home! And let’s just say that when I arrived, my house smelled like a fall heaven, and the apple sauce did not disappoint.

pumpkin. cinnamon. applesauce.

pumpkin. cinnamon. applesauce.

You can look forward to the recipe later this week!

So, here’s to an October full of all of its best parts. Changing leaves, pumpkin everything, football, post-season  baseball (go RED SOX!), candy corn, hot drinks, baking, sweaters, boots, scarves, crisp air, perfect running weather, my BIRTHDAY :), and the refreshment that comes with a new season.

Hoping you enjoy the next 31 days as much as I know I will!

Run4uc Recipe Run-down – double edition

The past two weeks of my life has been consumed by exams. Let me assure you, spending your entire weekend studying biochemistry has not gotten any more fun since last semester. Happy to say, I think all of the studying really paid off this time, but nonetheless the past few weeks have left me completely exhausted.

my life.

my life.

survival tactics: hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream

survival tactics: hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream.

Luckily though, the fall weather is finally here which puts me in a stellar mood, and I got to take the full afternoon and evening off yesterday to get out of Chapel Hill, shop, eat Panera (my mom sends gift cards because she’s the best :) ), bake, and watch the Grey’s Anatomy season premiere. Woke up this morning, hit the gym, and am feeling unstressed for the first time in weeks, so I am VERY thankful!

panera! try their new fall squash soup. you will not regret it.

panera! try their new fall squash soup. you will not regret it.

All of that said, it’s been 2 weeks since Recipe Run-down, but I assure you I have still been cooking! Without further ado, here’s your double dose of recipe run-down!

Run4UC Recipe Run-down!

On the menu for the past two weeks:

  • Autumn Chopped Salad from Iowa Girl Eats

  • Shrimp Avocado Salad from Add a Pinch

  • Crock Pot Vegan Black Bean Soup from Prevention RD

  • Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms from fANNEtastic food

  • Peanut Butter Cookies from Smitten Kitchen

Iowa Girl Eats’ Autumn Chopped Salad (Click here for the original blog post and recipe)

Thoughts on the recipe: AWESOME. I love fruit and nuts in my salad, so I was pretty sold on this from the start. I tend to do fruity salads more in the summer though, so I loved that this salad was full of apple, pear and walnuts, perfect for the start of fall. This was a lunch swap recipe, and everyone else loved it too. As with any chopped salad, the chopping takes a bit of time, but very little in the grand scheme of cooking. It was worth it for the perfect ratio of every ingredient in every bite! (Though you certainly could skip chopping the lettuce and still have a delicious salad on your plate.)

Most of the ingredients - post chopping

Most of the ingredients – post chopping

Thoughts on the blog: I actually found this recipe on Pinterest, and didn’t spend much time on the blog, but will be worth going back to check out for more recipes in the future.

Adaptations: I made enough adaptations to this that I could probably call it my own recipe. So, here’s my version of the Autumn Chopped Salad —

  • 6 (ish) cups romaine, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 small pears, chopped
  • 1 large apple, chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4-1/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola
  • Raspberry vinaigrette dressing from Trader Joe’s

I didn’t do the bacon because my lunch swappers are vegetarian, and honestly I don’t think it needed it. LOVED the gorgonzola in the salad, and any balsamic dressing or dressing that goes well with fruit (Iowa Girl Eats suggested poppy seed dressing; that’d be great too). The salad can be served as a full entree with a side of bread, or a side salad with pizza, soup, or anything else you like!

autumn chopped salad, paired with some pesto pizza from Trader Joe's :)

autumn chopped salad, paired with some pesto pizza from Trader Joe’s :)

 

Keep or toss? If it’s not obvious, KEEP. And make again and again.

 

Add a Pinch’s Shrimp Avocado Salad (Click here for the original blog post and recipe)

Thoughts on the recipe: Yum! This salad is simple, seriously takes like no time if you buy ready-to-eat frozen shrimp, and was surprisingly satisfying. I loved the creamy avocado with the shrimp and spices. I did think it needed more onion and avocado, though. I only used 1 pound of shrimp (instead of two) but still used 2 avocados and 2 tablespoons red onion. (So, if you use the recipe’s 2 pounds of shrimp, I’d double the onion and avocado :) ). The flavor of the ingredients with the dressing is great by itself, but I tried to eat it with some spinach on corn tortillas and didn’t love it. The dish’s mild flavor sort of got lost in the tortilla.

IMG_2010

Shrimp and avocado. YUM.

Thoughts on the blog: Another pinterest find, but will be back to explore this blog as well.

Adaptations: Like I said, I doubled the avocado and onion – a good choice; and I tried it on tortillas – tasted fine but lost a lot of the flavor. I’d say this is best as a side dish or appetizer; pair it with your dinner but don’t try to make it a main dish without kicking up the spice of the dressing first.

Keep or toss? Keep!

 

Prevention RD’s Crockpot Vegan Black Bean Soup (Click here for the original blog post and recipe)

Thoughts on the recipe: This soup was just the comfort food I needed this week. It uses dried beans, which do require soaking the night before, but this will take you two minutes. After that, it’s super easy! Instead of having to watch a pot of boiling beans for several hours, just throw everything in the crock pot (literally) and let it cook all day! It does take a LONG time (9-12 hours), but if you set it up when you got up it would be done in plenty of time for dinner. The recipe has a surprising amount of veggies in it and a lot of spice, all of which gives it a great flavor. It was hearty and warm but not too heavy – I loved it.

soup ingredients into the crock pot! failed to get a picture of the finished product... but there's plenty over on the original recipe page!

soup ingredients into the crock pot! failed to get a picture of the finished product… but there’s plenty over on the original recipe page!

Thoughts on the blog: Let’s just say you’ll be seeing more from this blog. Prevention RD is the blog of a Registered Dietitian, and you can find TONS of great, healthy recipes on this blog. Definitely check it out!

Adaptations: I followed the recipe exactly on this one. I took it out of the crock pot around 9.5 hours (because I needed to go to bed…), and it was definitely done. If I had had the time, though, I probably would have left it 11-12 hours just because I like my beans reeeeaally well done in black bean soup. Like I said though, still tasted great!

Keep or toss? Keep for sure. I love new, easy crockpot recipes, and this one was great – A perfect fall recipe and would be a great one for a Sunday football get-together!

 

fANNEtastic food’s Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms (Click here for the original blog post and recipe)

Thoughts on the recipe: This is the first time I’ve done stuffed portobellos. I thought the flavors of this recipe were great, especially the sundried tomatoes and feta (!), and they were great right out of the oven. I would say that if you’re going to make these, eat them the same night. Loved them the first night, but wasn’t such a huge fan as leftovers. I think that’s just portobellos for you ;) Also, this recipe was insanely quick and easy; great for a weeknight when you don’t have much time.

portobellos stuffed with sauteed spinach, garlic, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, and feta.

portobellos stuffed with sauteed spinach, garlic, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, and feta.

Thoughts on the blog: You can see my thoughts on Anne’s blog over on this Recipe Run-down. To sum it up: love all the quick and easy recipes!

Adaptations: None.

Toss or keep? It’s a keeper, I think. Next time I’ll try cooking the mushrooms longer, and I’ll probably save it for when I’m not eating alone, since I liked it so much better right out of the oven than left over.

 

Smitten Kitchen’s Peanut Butter Cookies (Click here for the original blog post and recipe)

Thoughts on the recipe: Oh. My. Gosh. I love Smitten Kitchen, so I knew I couldn’t go wrong here, but YUM. After several weeks of stress I really felt like baking yesterday evening, and my boyfriend just moved into a new place and had been hinting at a ‘housewarming gift,’ so I figured it was the perfect time to bake up some version of his favorite combo – peanut butter and chocolate. Let’s just say this choice did not disappoint. These peanut butter cookies have a crazy good peanut butter flavor without being sickeningly sweet (I hate that), and the chocolate chips give them the ever-delicious chocolate/peanut butter combo that tastes so great. They were slightly crispy on the outside but perfectly chewing on the inside… yes. Yum. That’s all I have to say. Oh, and eat at least 2 or 3 as they come out of the oven. Warm, freshly baked cookies make the world a better place.

yum yum yum yummmmmmmm

yum yum yum yummmmmmmm

Thoughts on the blog: All I’ll say is that if you haven’t ever checked out Smitten Kitchen, you need to do so immediately. This woman is an amazing cook. Many of her recipes are pretty involved, so not the best for quick and easy week night meals, but if you’re looking to make an amazing dish or dessert, this is the place to go for sure.

Adaptations: Only by accident – forgot to roll them in sugar right before baking. Didn’t matter. Still amazing this way!

 

Now, go cook away, and enjoy the rest of this beautiful fall weekend!

First Run4UC Recipe Run-down!

Did I not say that my timeliness in writing a post could not be trusted? I said my new recipe testing segment would be out by Tuesday of each week, but clearly I cannot stick to a deadline. Perhaps it’s because I have too many other deadlines happening in my life, or maybe I’m just a blogging delinquent. Or both. Maybe we should just say it’ll be out sometime within the week… But at any rate, better late than never, right?

Run4UC Recipe Run-down!

On the menu for this week:

          Simply Baked Oatmeal from fANNEtastic food
          Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken from skinnytaste

Can you tell I was in the mood for fall? The one thing I strongly dislike about living in North Carolina is that the fall comes so much later than in the northeast! When September 1st rolls around, I am READY for cooler temps, changing leaves, scarves, boots, pumpkin flavored everything, and hearty food to warm body and soul.

Yes, I did break my own rule and drink a Pumpkin Spice Latte in the A/C while it was ridiculously hot outside. It was a long day, okay? And it tastes like fall.

Yes, I did break my own rule and drink a Pumpkin Spice Latte in the A/C while it was ridiculously hot outside. It was a long day, okay? And it tastes like fall.

It was 90 degrees and humid for most of this week, but that didn’t stop me from celebrating the beginning of what (at least in my mind) is the fall season by busting out the crock pot and trying a new baked oatmeal recipe. The only thing that would have made it more perfect, other than cooler temps, would have been being able to watch football all day Sunday instead of studying biochem. Fall of 2014 is going to be epically filled with everything that I am missing out on. But I digress.

Now, if you remember, I’m part of a lunch swap with my grad school friends, so I don’t actually have to make lunch for myself most days of the week. I just prepare one lunch for the group on Mondays, and then get to enjoy lunch from each of them the rest of the week.

The chili/stew from Thursday's lunch swap, chock full of beans, lentils and sweet potato. So good!

The chili/stew from Thursday’s lunch swap, chock full of beans, lentils and sweet potato. So good!

Because of that, I got away with preparing only two things for this week, both made on Sunday. How easy is that? I actually had a third meal planned, but ended up saving it for this weekend, since the Santa Fe Chicken easily lasted me for 4+ dinners. Time was of the essence this week, so I was more than okay eating the same dinner 4 nights in a row if it meant I didn’t have to spend time cooking.

So here’s the recipe run-down!

fANNEtastic food’s Simply Baked Oatmeal (Click here for the original blog post & recipe)

 

Fresh out of the oven!

Fresh out of the oven!

Thoughts on the recipe: It was breakfast for lunch from me this week! This recipe was awesome. I’ve made baked oatmeal from many different recipes, and this was definitely one of the best recipes I’ve tried. It was super moist, and sweet without tasting like dessert. Some baked oatmeal recipes are full of fat and sugar, but both are in moderation in this version, with a minimal amount of oil and modest amount of brown sugar. Plus, oats are whole grains and full of fiber, so this recipe keeps you full long after you chow down. I loved the bananas in it because a) I love bananas and b) they gave it extra moisture!, and I used dried cranberries which I thought tasted great. I also really like this recipe, and baked oatmeal in general, because you can completely adapt it to your taste. Next time I think I’ll try adding some fresh or frozen berries to the mix!

IMG_1988

YUM.

Thoughts on the blog: fANNEtastic food is a blog I frequent on a fairly regular basis. I haven’t yet tried many recipes off of it, but everything that she shares is based on super quick and easy meals, so I’m excited to try some other recipes from her and see how they turn out! Also, she has a number of vegetarian recipes (I tend to cook largely though not exclusively vegetarian for several reasons so I love this), and she also has a ton of gluten-free and vegan options. Worth checking out, for sure.

Adaptations: I doubled this recipe, and it fit nicely into a 9×13 baking pan. This amount made 6 good-sized portions, and would obviously make more servings if you wanted smaller portion sizes.

Sidenote: For the lunchswap, I gave each of the girls one of these little Chobani bites to go with their baked oatmeal. It’s the first time I’ve tried them, and while I think they’re overpriced for a little yogurt, in typical Chobani fashion they were very tasty. The little dark chocolate bites made it a yummy but healthy dessert!

Raspberry w/ dark chocolate bits.

Raspberry w/ dark chocolate bits.

 

lunch swap ready to go!

lunch swap ready to go!

The verdict: Keep or toss? This recipe’s a keeper, for sure. Makes a good breakfast, breakfast-for-lunch, or snack any day, and great for a group too!

 

skinnytaste’s Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken (Click here for the original blog post & recipe)

Thoughts on the recipe: I know I just said I cook mostly vegetarian, and I do. But I found this recipe last week and really wanted to try it, so I got some chicken, and let’s just say I was not sorry that I ventured out of the usual. This chicken was DELISH. And not only that, but the recipe was insanely easy and prep time was virtually non-existant. It took a whopping 10 minutes maybe to get everything into the crockpot, and then it just cooked away in there all day long while I did other things. Then, about a half hour before it was done, it took another whopping five minutes to pull the chicken breasts out and shred them. You then put them back in for a few more minutes, and voila! Perfect, moist chicken that has soaked in all the flavors of broth, tomatoes, scallions and spices all day long.

See? Super easy perfectly shredded chicken.

See? Super easy perfectly shredded chicken. All it takes is two forks!

I’m honestly not a huge fan of chicken in general, but between the texture of the shredded chicken and all of the corn, black beans, tomatoes and chili peppers that were mixed in with it, this was truly delicious. I put it on corn tortillas and topped with plain, non-fat greek yogurt (as a sub for sour cream). So simple, and so tasty. It also would have been great over rice, in a burrito, or on a taco salad, and it tasted great by itself too!

 

Failed to get a more beautiful photo of an actual meal (you can see the original blog for that), but here's the finished product in the crock pot!

Failed to get a more beautiful photo of an actual meal (you can see the original blog for that), but here’s the finished product in the crock pot!

Thoughts on the blog: I LOVE the skinnytaste blog. I’d venture to guess that I’ve made more recipes off of this blog than any other. I’ve had favorites obviously, but I can’t say I’ve ever tried a recipe from her that just plain wasn’t good. She has tons of recipes. TONS. You can search by food or meal type, vegetarian, crock pot, gluten-free, the list goes on. And everything has a healthy spin on it, so you really can’t go wrong. I would highly recommend trying recipes off of skinnytaste, and can’t wait to share with you some of the other great things I’ve tried and loved.

Adaptations: None.

The verdict: Keep or toss? Keep! Absolutely. And next time, make a taco salad with it. YUM.

 

That’s it for now! Hope you try and love these recipes as much as I did! I’m excited for another round of quick and easy meal prep this weekend, and I’m excited to start sharing some previous food blog recipe favs along the way, too. After spending all day at a regional dietetics conference, I’m exhausted and so looking forward to a Friday night full of much needed sleep :)

Happy weekend!

announcing a quick, simple and tasty new segment!

With limited time as a grad student and working person, I find it REALLY hard to make time to cook full, balanced, healthy meals for myself each week. In fact, I’ve been doing a pretty crappy job at it lately. Despite loving nutrition and eating and basically everything related to food, when I’m busy, I don’t actually always love to cook. (Shhhhh, don’t tell!) But seriously, most of you know what I’m talking about. I love the finished product of a freshly prepared meal, but when I’m short on time it’s one of the first things to go. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong eating those pre-prepared meals once in a while (Trader Joe’s pizzas and boxed Indian food anyone?). In fact, even when I’m cooking a lot, I always have them on-hand as there is inevitably at least one night where you just don’t feel like cooking. But, I personally can’t live on these alone, and so I’m delving back into the land of quick and easy food prep. Care to join me?

This is what happens when you don't food prep. A delicious Weaver Street Market salad. Unfortunately my wallet cannot afford this type of 'catering' on a more regular basis.

This is what happens when you don’t food prep. A delicious Weaver Street Market salad. Unfortunately my wallet cannot afford this type of ‘catering’ on a more regular basis.

Last year I got in the habit of doing the majority of my meal prep on the weekends (something that a lot of bloggers like the Lean Green Bean highly encourage), and it really works! If you can take the time to get most of your meals prepped on the weekend, then you have hearty and healthy meals to eat all week without having to think about coming home after a long day and actually cooking the meal. The thing is, though, my weekends are pretty busy too. So the goal is not only to get my food prep done on the weekends, but to keep it as fast and simple as humanly possible while still healthy AND tasty. Tastiness is obviously a must.

So here’s the plan: Throughout the upcoming year, I’m going to do some recipe testing. I have little time (or talent) for creating my own recipes from scratch, so I often cook from a variety of food blogs and a few trusty cookbooks. I’ve heard from many friends that they don’t like cooking from blogs because they never know if they can trust that a recipe will turn out well. But what if I said I would do the recipe testing for you?

BIG NEWS: I’m going to do just that! Each week, I’m going to test 2-3 recipes which will serve as my meal prep for the week, and then I’ll share the results with you! You can expect to see this new weekly blog segment sometime between Sunday and Tuesday each week (I know, I know, a good blogger would pick one day and stick to it. but let’s face it, my blogging timeliness just isn’t that reliable). This week’s recipes are currently in the works in the kitchen. Results coming soon!

On the topic of meal prep, I should also mention that lunch swap is back and is as delicious as ever! More on that soon too :)

This salad was so yummy. This is also the only time in two weeks that I thought enough to take a photo before scarfing down my lunch.

This salad was so yummy. This is also the only time in two weeks that I thought enough to take a photo before scarfing down my lunch.

How do you stay on top of your meal prep for the week?

Do you have any recipes/food blogs that you would recommend Or any blogs/recipes you’ve been wondering about and think I should try?

The famous question…

Remember the days when you were a kid and people would ask you that famous question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Remember how you somehow always had an answer? When I was in elementary school I remember the pastor asking all of the kids during the children’s time what they wanted to be when they grew up, and one of the little boys announced without second thought, “a ghost!”  He wasn’t thinking about how much money he would make as a ghost, or where he would have to live in order to pursue his vocational dream, (or obviously about the fact that being a ghost isn’t exactly a plausible career track…); he was thinking only about what he felt like being that day, and that was enough. 

Then you got to high school, and the question turned into “where are you going to college?” Your response: panic. Until you figured it out. Then, “what are you going to study?” Aka, we’re back to asking what I want to be when I grow up? Response: panic. Until you figure that out (after changing your mind three times…), and happily coast along for a year or two doing the college thing. Then you get to your (second…) senior year, and once again, we’ve arrived at the favorite question: “What’s next for you?” Panic ensues, yet again. Until you decide you’re going to apply for a certain job, or volunteer abroad, or go to grad school. So, let’s say you choose grad school. You get in (yay!), and all’s well again because you’ve at least narrowed your career path down to one field, and hey, that’s a big accomplishment! You sort of feel like maybe you’ve actually figured out what you want to be when you grow up, and that feels pretty good.

Until you get to grad school… year TWO. And suddenly you realize that while you’ve picked a field you love, you have about a million and one job options within that field, and you are hit with that unfortunately familiar panicky feeling that somehow after all this time you still don’t know exactly what you want to be when you grow up! How is this possible, you ask? After going on 20 years of school (aaand I wish I hadn’t just calculated that number out); shouldn’t you have a clue by now?

And that place, ladies and gentlemen, is where I (and many of my classmates, I think) have been for the past few weeks. The field of nutrition is AWESOME because of it’s broadness, and as a future “MPH, RD” I’m qualified to do a bunch of different things, which is one of the reasons I went into this field in the first place – I don’t have to do one particular thing every day for the rest of my life! But, at the same time, we all have to start somewhere, and we’re basically being asked to choose where we want to start. Not that we get to choose our first job with over a year still left of the program, but we do have to declare a “concentration,” and that concentration is how we determine our last internship next fall. While this internship doesn’t define our career path, it certainly gives us great experience in a particular area, and it may just help us get our foot in the door for a job, so choosing wisely is recommended. So, “no pressure” but pressure, if you get what I’m saying. 

After much thinking and some pretty serious self-reflection, I got myself down to a list of the things I love most in the field and would like to see incorporated into my career at some point in my life. The thing is, my interests span both clinical and public health nutrition; great to have broad interests, but not extremely helpful in the choice between a clinical or public health concentration… right. BUT, I have a great advisor, some great professors, and wonderful friends and family who are amazing sounding boards and advice-givers, and I’m happy to say that I think I’ve finally come to a conclusion! I haven’t yet chosen a defined career path (totally okay with that), but I have made some decisions that I think will set me up well to do something I love, regardless of what one (or 10) things I choose in the end. 

That announcement, however, is saved for another day… :)

vacation recap & back to the grind (and the blog!)

I’m back! My summer internship is over, and we’re back in the full swing of the normal semester schedule, which I’m happy to say includes blogging!

My summer internship ended well, and also included a photo shoot at a workshop my co-intern and I were running, which somehow ended up on the website. Weird? Cool? Not sure.

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But in all seriousness, Kelly (my co-intern) and I did write a blog post reflecting on our summer experience for the Interfaith Food Shuttle blog, so if you’re interested in reading a little more about my time there, you should check it out.

I’ve also mentioned that summer was pretty hectic, but I’m happy to say that the last few weeks of being MIA were because I was taking advantage of VACATION! First, I spent a week tucked away in a cabin in the mountains of western North Carolina. I had good food, good wine, a novel to read, cable tv (something I don’t have at home), and zero internet or cell phone service. It was seriously exactly what I needed after finishing up the craziness of my summer work. 

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Nothing better than being in secluded in the woods. Doesn’t hurt when it includes a hot tub :)

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For your viewing pleasure, the best taco salads of my life. READ: Guacamole + Trader Joe’s Cowboy Caviar is a recipe for pure taco salad heaven.

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Got to hang out in Asheville for the first time too! This consisted mostly of drinking and eating in just a few of Asheville’s many amazing restaurants and breweries. Definitely going to need to go back.

Then I got a bonus second week of visiting college friends in home-sweet-Pennsylvania! It’s so sweet and refreshing to catch up with dear friends who know you well.

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This place has the BEST breakfast. Nothing like catching up with college friends over blueberry buckwheat pancakes and unlimited coffee refills.

And for the final week of our whopping three week “summer,” I came back to Chapel Hill to start back to work at my office. Despite working, it was still really nice to take advantage of one full week of being in town without having to study. Netflix was my best friend.

And finally, this past Tuesday I took a deep breath and dove back into grad classes. I have two semesters to go, then onto a summer of clinicals, followed by one last internship, a master’s paper, and… graduation! This week has been a bit overwhelming to say the least. One of my classmates equated it to something like running your face directly into a brick wall. Yep, ouch. There’s a lot to think about in terms of planning ahead for our careers, and my mind has been churning for the past week with all of the potential options. (I think I’ve even caught myself talking out loud to myself a few times… Let’s be real; grad school makes you crazy.) I’m pretty sure my biggest problem is just that I’m interested in too much! But I guess that’s a good problem to have, and with a good group of grad school friends and a good set of advisors, I think we’ll all be just fine in the end. If nothing else, it’s exciting to be able to see that MPH/RD coming our way in the not-so-distant future!

In other news, I’m happy to say that the start of school has also meant getting back to running! I spent the majority of my workouts this summer at the gym (mainly BodyPump and kickboxing), which was actually a refreshing break from the running routine. The middle of North Carolina summer is just plain too hot and humid for me to be forced to run outside. That probably makes me a lame “runner,” but no thank you! It’s still pretty hot and humid, but you can tell that slightly cooler temperatures are on their way, enough so that I am willing to get back out there and hit the pavement. 

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New brooks! My feet are oh so happy.

The other major motivating factor is that I’m training for another half! I’m running the Greensboro Half Marathon at the end of October, along with a bunch of other grad school friends. I’ve lost some speed, which is to be expected when I haven’t been running consistently, but overall the start of training is going well. I’m definitely looking forward to fall and some cooler running weather, but happy to be back out there!

I’ve got plenty of other things to share with you, but I suppose I’ll save that for another day :) Here’s to the start of a new school year, a new running season, and to being able to see the finish line.