Happy Friday, friends! I’m talking food all the way from Mobile, Alabama today. This Friday is a little more special than others for my family because my older brother, Jonathan, is tying the knot tomorrow!
Between squeezing in last minute shopping and wedding preparations all week, I still managed to sneak in some good eats that I’m excited to share with you. It can definitely be challenging to incorporate proper nutrition into your diet during busy times like this, but that just heightens the importance. Making sure your body is properly fueled will help keep your immune system at its peak and prevent you from feeling run down.
So without ado (and before the “I do”) ;), let’s talk food!
1. Steel Cut Apple Pie Oats
This week started and ended with these delicious steel cut oats. If I have the extra time in the morning and my stomach is being cooperatively patient, I’m always partial to steel cut, as opposed to old fashioned oats. They take ~30 minutes to cook but are SO worth the wait.
I incorporated 1/2 of an apple and a pinch of apple pie spice while the oats were cooking and they tasted almost exactly like apple pie when they were finished. I was in heaven! I topped the oats with a dollop of 0% fat plain Greek yogurt, diced apple, cinnamon and walnuts.
- 1/3 cup steel cut oats
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened almond milk)
- 1/2 fresh apple, chopped
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- 1/4 tsp apple pie spice – can exchange for a combination of cinnamon, all spice and nutmeg
- 1 tsp sweetener (I used one packet of Stevia, though honey or agave nectar would also be great)
- Pinch of salt
- Add all ingredients to a pot that will leave at least 2 or 3 inches of room at the top (so the oats don’t boil over). Bring to a boil over medium high-heat
- Turn heat down to low, then simmer the oats for ~25 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until cooked.
- Remove from heat when all liquid has been absorbed and the oats are fully cooked. Transfer to bowl and add toppings of choice.
I actually loved these oats so much that I incorporated them into a yogurt parfait towards the end of the week, just to jazz things up. This parfait was pretty large and filling so I divided it into two snacks.
As an aside, why do all things taste better when eaten out of a mason jar??
For this parfait, I simply added 1/2 of the oats to the bottom of the jar, added a layer of 0% fat plain Greek yogurt, a layer of chopped apples, the remainder of the oats, another layer of Greek yogurt and finished it off with the remaining chopped apples. Plus a sprinkle of cinnamon for good measure.
2. Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Meat Ragu
Making homemade sauce is a labor of love. A labor I am all about when time permits. However, on a weeknight this dish was easy, quick, nutritious and very satisfying. If you haven’t tried spaghetti squash in place of pasta, you must try it!
I still enjoy pasta every now and then. I’m Italian – it would be a crime if I didn’t! However, since I discovered how easy spaghetti is to prepare and how versatile it is, I would almost opt for it over pasta. ALMOST
This dish is so simple and in my mind – perfect for a Monday when you really just wish it was Friday. Just roast 1-2 spaghetti squashes, sauté ground turkey with some veggies, pour a good quality tomato-basil sauce over it and call it a night! Added bonus- PLENTY of leftovers.
I personally don’t like my “pasta” drowning in sauce so the ratio of meat and veggies to sauce was just right for me. My suggestion would be if you do like tons upon tons of sauce, double up on the jarred sauce.
- 2 spaghetti squashes
- 1 lb 94% lean ground turkey
- 1 whole carrot or 1/2 cup baby carrots, chopped
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 jar good quality red sauce, I prefer tomato-basil
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for cooking
- Dash of salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and membrane. Season with salt and pepper and bake about 1 hour, or longer if needed on a baking sheet, cut side up.
- In a large deep sauté pan, heat oil. Add onions, garlic and carrots and sauté on medium-low for about 3 to 4 minutes, until soft. Add the turkey and season with salt and pepper. Brown the meat and cook, breaking it into smaller pieces with your spoon until cooked through. When cooked, add the tomatoes and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for ~30 minutes or so.
- Using a fork, shred “spaghetti” out of squash, top with meat ragu, add some freshly shredded parmesan cheese and dinner is served!
3. Green Smoothies with Coconut Water
SO REFRESHING! I don’t love coconut water by itself but adding it to green smoothies has now become a ritual.
If you’re new to drinking your greens, start with sweeter, smoother fruits like bananas and mild greens like spinach. Once your taste buds accumulate and you start feeling more adventurous, you get greener and experiment with other super foods.
So far, I’ve loved the combination of 3/4 cup coconut water, 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 scoop vanilla protein protein powder, 1/2 of a frozen banana, a generous handful of spinach, 1 tsp of chia seeds, 3-4 ice cubes and a spoonful of plain ol’ peanut butter (as pictured). Perfection!
4. Blackened Salmon Salad with Roasted Corn Poblano Salsa
One of those clean-out-the-refrigerator-and-add-protein salads that came out fantastic! I actually really love adding different kinds of salsa to my salads. Especially when I don’t have much fresh produce on hand.
This salsa was a Roasted Corn Poblano salad with red peppers, celery and onions I found at Publix. It paired perfectly with blackened salmon. If you don’t have any blackening seasoning on hand, it’s actually really simple to make. Just mix a dash of garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, onion powder, basil, thyme and/or oregano. Even if you only have half of those spices on hand, they all compliment each other so nicely that you really won’t compromise the overall flavor.
I also added half of a sliced avocado, a handful of cherry tomatoes, some slivered almonds and finished it off with a tbsp of balsamic vinaigrette. I will definitely be making this salad again soon!
5. Nutrition on the Road
In anticipation of our 8-hour drive to Alabama, I wanted to make sure I had plenty of non-perishable healthy snacks on hand. It’s so easy to snack on empty calories during long road trips, mainly out of boredom. I knew I wouldn’t feel good if I fell into that trap so preparation was crucial.
I whipped up some homemade Almond Butter & Dark Chocolate Granola, bananas, Quest Bars, almond butter and Stevia. This granola was SO good! I was happily surprised my whole family ended up snacking on it. I’m working on tweaking the ingredient ratio a bit, but as soon as I do, it will be posted!
I also prepared a few bags of oatmeal to keep in the hotel room. I simply combined 1/3 cup oats, 1 tbsp protein powder, 1 tbsp flax seed, 1 tsp chia seeds and a dash of cinnamon. Sure enough, this oatmeal came to the breakfast rescue this morning. I asked for some hot water to mix in it and added a little almond butter and a sliced banana.
Fail to plan, plan to fail!
I hope you all have a fantastic weekend! I know I will be savoring every moment of this weekend with my family and great friends. The best part? I get a new sister by the end of it