Pinterest helped me make Chipotle at home!

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copycat Chipotle pin

Chipotle is by far my favorite fast-food/to-go restaurant, but it is kind of pricey and pretty high in sodium. So I decided to try and recreate my favorite Chipotle burrito at home to hopefully make it healthier and taste close to the real thing. My first stop in this plan was Pinterest. I found a pretty great webpage that had copycat recipes for all of the components I wanted.

homemade Chipotle chicken burrito bowls

homemade Chipotle chicken burrito bowls

The chicken copycat recipe looked too complicated for me so I just cooked mine on my George Foreman grill. I also bought my guacamole in 100 calorie packs and used canned (no salt added) black beans. I don’t like cilantro and rice has always seemed like an unnecessary filler, so I skipped the cilantro lime rice.

I did use the recipe for corn salsa and it was very good! Corn salsa is my favorite and it is surprisingly super simple to make.

FOODNOTES: All in all, my homemade Chipotle burrito bowls were nothing like the actual Chipotle bowls, but they were very good! They were also only 430 calories compared to the real Chipotle bowls, which hover around or over 600 calories. I definitely plan to make this a regular addition to my recipe rotation!

Macro bowls: Big taste, big flavor, small calories

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Macro bowl pin on pinterest

In my quest to be healthy and eat healthy I found a recipe for Macro Bowls on Pinterest about a month ago. Well, it wasn’t really a recipe, it was more of an idea to make lunches for your work week with five or six really heathy ingredients put together. I’ve been cooking food for the week all at once since I’ve lived by myself in college, but the idea of a macro bowl was new to me. I usually make a dish – lasagna, turkey meatloaf, something in the crockpot – and pack sides like an apple, veggies, etc. The website I found on Pinterest basically says to cook up two vegetables, a starch, a bean and a protein. They used kale, sweet potatoes, black beans, quinoa and tofu. Other than making lunches super easy, the goal of a macro bowl seems to be making lunches super tasty and healthy too. I’m not sure on the calorie count of the macro bowls on the website but it couldn’t have been very high.

macro bowl 4

macro bowls

When I decided to try making macro bowls I didn’t follow their recipe. I just focused on what super healthy ingredients I actually like and my favorite flavors (garlic, olive oil). My first set of macro bowls had sauteed kale with zucchini, onions and garlic, quinoa cooked in water with garlic salt, sweet potato wedges roasted with olive oil and garlic, and some low-fat chicken sausage cooked with black beans and garlic. The sauteed vegetables were super easy and very tasty. The quinoa added a good base for the dish. Sweet potato wedges are one of my favorite foods! Most people eat them sweet with sugar or brown sugar, but I think they are best with a little garlic salt and olive oil. For the chicken sausage I peeled off the casing and cooked the chicken like it was ground beef with the black beans. I layered all of these different pieces in to-go lunch containers and had five lunches for the week.

macro bowl 1

quinoa, sauteed kale and zucchini

macro bowl 3

chicken and black beans, sweet potato wedges

As for the details: I used one pan to cook the three stove-top layers and then roasted the sweet potato wedges in the oven, which was great because who likes to do dishes!!?? When I divvied out the ingredients I measured how much was going into each bowl so I could plug that information into my calories app on my phone to see what I was eating in numbers. According to my app, each bowl I made had 280 calories and 22 grams of protein. I work nights so my “lunches” are actually my dinners and typically you want to eat a high-protein low-calorie dinner to keep you full but not weigh you down. The best part of the macro bowl was how easy it was. The longest part was cooking the quinoa – it takes about 20 minutes on the stove, but now you can buy precooked quinoa that you just have to heat up, so that could decrease the time it takes to make the bowls.

macro chicken

chicken, peppers, black beans

macro bowl attempt 2

macro bowls with squash, brussel sprouts, chicken, kale

For my second attempt at making the bowls I eliminated the quinoa (mainly because I didn’t have any in my cabinets). Instead of chicken sausage I sliced up chicken breasts and cooked them with onions, spicy banana peppers, garlic and black beans. Instead of sweet potato wedges I steamed a small butternut squash and then mashed it with garlic and olive oil – very similar in taste and health benefits! I made the kale the same way but instead of including zucchini I steamed some brussel sprouts sprinkled with garlic salt – I love brussel sprouts! My second attempt took less time because I didn’t make the quinoa, and I still only used one pan to limit the amount of dishes. This time, my macros had 225 calories and 17 grams of protein.

macro bowl 5

macro bowls to go

FOODNOTES: The goal of a macro bowl is to make lunches super easy and super healthy. The best part about the macro bowl is you can make it however you want. If you don’t eat meat use tofu. If you don’t like kale use broccoli. If you don’t like quinoa use brown rice or eliminate it all together. Macro bowls could also follow different flavor profiles. Obviously I’m a garlic girl but you could make a miso dressing or  a peanut sauce to drizzle over the bowl for an Asian feel – both of those usually have low calories and the peanut sauce would add protein! I love how customizable these are, and that they ideally have less than 300 calories for so much food!

Initiating a new Italian tradition

Recently I decided to try eating gluten free most of the time. I eat 98 percent gluten free at home and try to mostly avoid it when eating out (although I do love food and won’t give up a great meal because it has gluten in it). So when I decided to make lasagna last week I faced the task of making my favorite Italian dish gluten-free and tasty. There are quite a few gluten-free noodle options out there but I wanted to try a healthier option. So I did some research and bought three medium-sized zucchini.

veggie lasagnaThe recipes I read online said the zucchini should be sliced 1/8 of an inch thin and grilled before starting to layer the lasagna. I don’t have a mandolin so my zucchini was a little thicker than they should be. I also don’t have access to a grill so my zucchini slices went in raw. But zucchini has a lot of water in it so I laid all of my slices out on paper towels and sprinkled salt on them to draw the water out. I let them sit for 10 minutes or so and dabbed off the extra water that pooled on top.

I mixed up the regular cheese mixture of ricotta and mozzarella cheese and an egg. For the sauce mixture I used ground beef, a jar of Market Pantry pasta sauce, some fresh sliced Serano peppers (I think I sliced up 3), some italian spices, garlic powder, mushrooms and a little less than a cup of brown rice. I originally planned on using lentils, but I didn’t have any so I used up a random bag of brown rice in my cupboard (to save time – and dishes – I cooked the rice in the microwave). With all of my ingredients I was able to get two full layers and then a random layer of what I had left – I probably should have bought four zucchini and a mandolin so my slices would be thinner.

FOODNOTES: The best part of my zucchini was how good it was for me…my recipe made 12 portions, and each slice had 436 calories and 36 grams of protein! I plan on getting a mandolin in the near future to make my zucchini slices the perfect thickness. I also want to try using lentils like my original plan, but I will definitely be making this flavorful, healthy dish again! Do you have any dishes you change up to make healthier and tastier? What do you think are the best ingredients to use to cut out calories and add in protein?

Can a salad really be this good?

I have tried to make pasta salads from scratch and both times I have ended up throwing away a majority of it. The first time the canned beans I put in the mixture mushed and created this weird good all over that made everything pretty inedible. The second time the dressing I made was so spicy and vinegary I couldn’t even swallow it. So when I found this recipe I was excited but hesitant. After reading the simple ingredients of the dressing I decided to go for it and it was a good decision because I’ve found THE BEST RECIPE FOR HOMEMADE PASTA SALAD!

Homemade Greek Pasta Salad

Below is the recipe but here are some quick tips. Don’t stray from the dressing ingredients because they are perfect the way they are. However, do stray away from the rest of the ingredients if you want. Use what you have. Use what’s in season. Use what’s on sale (that’s what I did!). Sub things you like for things you don’t! I wouldn’t eliminate the feta or kalamata olives unless you really don’t like either because they go so well with the dressing!

Dressing

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp dijon mustard

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

salt

pepper

1 cup olive oil

Salad:

pasta (I suggest rotini!)

1 large English cucumber (halved and sliced)

1 pint cherry tomatoes (halved)

red onion (sliced)

1 1/2 cup kalamata olives (halved)

6 oz feta cheese

3 cups firmly packed baby spinach

Bottom line: I really don’t like spinach but decided to add it anyway and you don’t even taste it in this so this salad is an amazing way to get the health benefits from something you don’t always eat. Also, I bought a container of feta and a jar of kalamata olives. Both were larger than the recipe called for but I tossed all of them in and it turned out awesome! I added chopped red peppers but other good additions would be carrots and arugula instead of spinach.

Souper Tuesday!

Fresh veggies I added to the recipes

While people in 10 states were voting in presidential primaries I tweaked two magazine recipes to make two super healthy and tasty soups! Both recipes were pretty lacking in veggies when I found them so I definitely used them as a starting point. I added carrots and swiss chard to both recipes and broccoli to the chili. I really like ground turkey breast but my grocery store was out of it when I went shopping so I decided to try crumbling tofu into the turkey chili recipe instead.

For the lentil and chickpea stew I cooked the carrots, onion, swiss chard and broccoli for a couple minutes until soft. Then I added the veggie broth, tomatoes and lentils to the mixture. I let it simmer for a bit to combine the ingredients and added a bunch of spices. Then the entire mixture went into my slow cooker for four hours. The one thing I did really different than the recipe is I soaked my lentils in water overnight to cut the cooking time in half…it’s a very simple trick to really save some time on cooking day!

lentil/chickpea stew in the slow cooker!

Towards the end of the four hours I added the chickpeas and some more seasonings to taste! The dish turned out really well and with the addition of the broccoli and swiss chard it will be a great lunch option for the week!

The ingredients for this recipe cost a little more than ten dollars and I will be getting at least six meals out of it! I’m very excited for lunch this week!

For the chili recipe I was very excited to replace the ground turkey with crumbled tofu and it turned out really well! I also added the carrots, swiss chard and broccoli, which really adds to the flavor and heartiness of the recipe! The flavors are so good in this recipe that I’m looking forward to trying it with the turkey instead of the tofu.

tofu and chickpea chili

Original Recipes:

Curried Lentil and Chickpea Stew

Turkey Chili

 

 

 

 

 

Bonus Tip:

broccoli prep

When prepping broccoli the best tool to use is your kitchen shears. It is really easy to slip and cut yourself because of the odd angles you have to cut at when trying to chop up a head of broccoli. I usually buy my broccoli from the bulk bin to get exactly the amount I need and not a full head of broccoli. The smaller chunks are also easier to prep. The kitchen shears give you a lot of control and they make it easier to cut the broccoli into really tiny chunks or bigger pieces.

When prepping broccoli don’t throw away the stalks. The stalks have a really great broccoli flavor and awesome crunch which makes them a perfect addition to any salad. Most grocery stores sell “broccoli slaw,” which is basically shredded pieces of the stalk. So save your broccoli stalks and make your own slaw!

homemade broccoli slaw

You could shred the stalks to make actual slaw but I just chopped it up into pieces and dropped it on to my salad! The stalks stay fresh a lot longer than the florets so save them for when your a little low on fresh veggies. These tips can also be used for cauliflower!

Give Peas a Chance!

>I am an anomaly when it comes to college students and preferred foods. Example: I absolutely love peas! I love cooked peas, raw peas, cold peas and peas in recipes. Sometimes, if a recipe doesn’t already have a vegetable in it I will toss a bag of frozen peas into it just for color! Oh yeah, this one I can blame on my mom, I love mixing a can of peas in with a box of mac and cheese. It is great! Seriously, you should try it!

Peas added to a salad

But one of the best ways to eat peas is cold and on top of a salad! It is so refreshing and adds great texture and nutrients! I recommend adding peas into your favorite crock pot recipe, pasta dish or even using peas to substitute ingredients to jazz up a traditional recipe.

Try this recipe for green pea hummus. It is excitingly green and unexpectedly flavorful!

Bottom Line: GIVE PEAS A CHANCE!!!

Turkey Meatloaf tastes better than it sounds!

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When I first found a recipe for Turkey Meatloaf I thought it would be a brick of Thanksgiving Day turkey mooshed together…not very appetizing! But then I decided to give the recipe a try because it had cooked vegetables and a lot of seasonings in it.


Turkey meatloaf with carrots, zucchini, yellow squash and onions.

*Disclaimer* When using any type of ground poultry there are two options. Ground turkey/chicken or ground turkey/chicken breast. I recommend getting the ground turkey breast because the ingredients are water and turkey breast. If you look at the ingredients of ground turkey you will find both dark and white meat, skin and fat. So you can either have turkey (ground turkey breast) or turkey with other things ground into it (ground turkey). Your choice!

The recipe is quite a bit different than traditional beef meatloaf because it had sauteed carrots, onions, zucchini and yellow squash in it. That’s one of the reason I decided to try the recipe! But once the vegetables are prepped the rest of the recipe is pretty much the same as a traditional meatloaf recipe! You mix in the vegetables and spices like garlic powder, salt, cumin, mustard, bbq sauce, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. One of the reasons I may have loved this recipe sooo much is because both the mustard and bbq sauce I had in my refrigerator were branded as Jack Daniels flavored so that added a nice kick to the mixture!

The recipe also called for an egg to keep the mixture together after cooking but I forgot the egg and everything turned out fine. So if you want to take the calories count down even more not including the egg is definitely an option. After baking the inside of the meatloaf was moist and the outside was brown and crunchy! The flavor was a great combination of the vegetables and spiciness. And it wasn’t as greasy as beef meatloaf because ground turkey has a lot less fat than ground beef. I recommend turkey meatloaf for anyone who likes the heartiness of meatloaf but doesn’t like how greasy it tends to be. If you don’t like carrots or onions or zucchini you can substitute any of those for your favorite vegetables! Turkey meatloaf is the perfect combination of contrasting flavors; the heavy spices, and the light turkey and vegetables. And since the vegetables are already in the mixture I just ate it with some couscous or other cooked grains.

Everyone’s turkey meatloaf could taste different based on the variations of ingredients they use. What vegetables would you use in your turkey meatloaf? What’s your favorite type of BBQ sauce and mustard (Jack Daniels?)?