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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
The 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?
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!
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!
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
>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.
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?)?
>Healthy Foods There’s this list of vegetables that most people won’t even try because popular culture have vilified them as being gross, taste-less and even painful to eat. I would say the list consists of a dozen or so harmless (and actually tasty) vegetables:
Now while I agree with spinach being on this list (cooked or raw it tastes like grass) everything else on this list I have cooked and been able to make pretty tasty! This week I am going to tackle the beets. When I went to buy the beets I noticed that I could buy just the red root part or a bunch of beets with the greens still on them. While struggling to shove all of the beet greens into a produce bag I started to regret my decision to get (and try to cook) the beet greens but they were actually the highlight of my beet experience.
Beets The first caveat to beets that I discovered wast that they are really hard to peel. I started off with a knife and then decided it would be best for my appendages if I used a vegetable peeler that took longer but has protective guards on all sharp blades. Beets are tough, round and once the skin is off, very slipper. The second caveat is that they turn your hands, counter, knife and cutting board is dark shade of pink (obviously I was using red beets). Don’t worry…by the time I was done with the dinner dishes the pink was gone on all surfaces including my hands so I would just suggest skipping the dishwasher that night and wash everything the old-fashioned way!
After I chopped the beets into small cubes (they will cook faster if they are smaller) I coated them in olive oil and garlic powder. I looked up a bunch of recipes that call for a ton of butter and salt but what’s the point of eating something really healthy if you’re going to douse it with butter and salt? Other recipes also called for other spices but I would say a beet is like any other vegetable; once it is cooked, you can add any of your favorite spices to make it more tailored to your tastes. I am a garlic lover so decided garlic and olive oil was enough. I decided that straight on beets was not going to be the best way to tackle this dirty root so I combined it with chopped up carrots.
There are multiple types of preparations for beets (steaming, boiling, sauteing…) but I chose roasting because I love when vegetables get crunchy on the outside! So I put the beets and carrots on a baking sheet (no need to grease the baking sheet because the beets and carrots have enough oil on them to keep them from sticking) and roasted them for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, taking them out a couples times to move them around and flip some of the bigger pieces.
Beet Greens While those cooked in the oven I spent a great deal of time washing the beet greens because the Internet said they would be really gritty because beets are ground root vegetables. Mine seemed pretty clean but I don’t like eating dirt so I cleaned them really well and chopped up the leaves and red stems. Then I just sauteed them with olive oil, onions and garlic. It looks like a lot of greens in the beginning but they wilt up so fast that it turned out to be just enough for 3 meals.
Roasted beets are alright (I kind of think they taste like dirty). When I try making them again I am going to add some hot suace to the olive oil and garlic powder to give them a little more flavor but the beet greens were my favorite. Sauteed garlic beet greens are SO GOOD! The olive oil and garlic wonderfully compliment the earthy, bitter flavor of the greens! I definitely like beet greens better than beets…too bad you can’t buy beet greens without beets!
> I think one of the best ways to, in my opinion, eat vegetables is a batch of stir fry. Most people eat stir fry with rice but I find that if there’s enough texture between the vegetables it is good by itself or with a chicken breast, which is good because that’s less carbs! Usually, I just put any vegetables I have in a pan with garlic and olive oil. But the best stir fry is planned because some vegetables take a really long to cook in a pan and some take a really short time so it is good to put things in the pan in a planned order.
I usually put the garlic and onions in first to get them to flavorize (yep…I just made up a word!) the entire dish. Then I put in potatoes, mushrooms, fresh brussel sprouts and carrots if I have any of those ingredients. Yellow squash, zucchini, broccoli, eggplant and cauliflower go in next. And finally kale, other greens and tomatoes go in right before everything else is done.
Other than the garlic I usually put in a bunch of hot sauce and sometimes I put chili powder on the potatoes! Stir fry is a really versatile entree because you can put anything into that you have. I have also put radishes and baby bok choi into a stir fry once. I’m not the biggest fan of making stir fry with meat in it, I usually just make a chicken breast to go with the stir fry. I am interested in trying tofu but am not sure if I should use the crumble or the cubes…any suggestions?
> So after my first attempt at using the crock pot (which wasn’t an exact failure…the dish was just really salty) I have made three more meals in my crock pot. The second one was a squash medley stew that had three types of squash, tomatoes, and some other vegetables in it. That turned out pretty good but was essentially a side so I had to make chicken or rice with it every time I wanted to eat the leftovers.
The third thing I made was chicken curry stew. I was a little skeptical about making this because I’m not the biggest fan of curry powder and it had a lot of it in the recipe (2 tbs.). So I decided to only put half in and replace the other half with garlic powder. Other than curry powder and garlic powder, the stew had chicken, chick peas, and tomatoes. When I walked in after classes and work my entire apartment smelled like garlic, which is good because I love garlic! The stew turned out to be really really good (with my garlic substitution of course!), especially after I drained some of the excess liquid off. I think next time, to make it have a little more depth I will add some frozen peas or green beans!
The fourth thing I made was Chicken Chili (see picture)…not the white creamy kind that a lot of people associated with chicken chili but a southwestern type of chili. It had chicken, tomatoes, chicken stock, garlic, onions, pinto and hominy in it. I had no idea what hominy was so I Googled it and found that it is a form of processed corn…interesting. When I went to the grocery store I thought about just getting corn but the hominy was the same price so I decided to give it a try. After putting everything in the crock pot I decided, once again, that it needed more vegetables so I added a bunch of chopped up kale. The dish actually had a lot of flavor and a decent amount of spice after I added a squeeze of srachai! It was really good with some chunks of avocado or sour cream. When I made this again I will definitely replace the hominy with corn (it wasn’t bad just had a weird texture…almost like a bean), I will also replace the pinto beans with black beans, and continue to add something green (whether it be kale, peas, or green beans) and the srachai.