What I’ve Been Eating Lately: Random and Tasty

It’s been a while since I’ve caught you all up on what I have been eating lately. I will warn you that my eats have been completely random. I have been veering away from the cold salads more often in place of something warm like soup or quesadillas.

Thank you to Jen at Peas and Crayons for hosting the What I Ate Wednesdays!

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Here it goes!

Gluten-free pasta with mom’s spaghetti sauce. NUM!

gluten free spaghetti

Cheese quesadillas with salsa.

gluten free quesadilla

Organic tomato soup with extra cracked black pepper.

tomato soup

Homemade veggie dip made from cottage cheese, ranch seasoning, and Italian seasoning packets–the Ninja Ultima was perfect for this job!

homemade cottage cheese veggie dip

Veggie plate with veggie dip.

veggie plate

Grass-fed beef burger with Monterey jack cheese.

burger

Acorn squash with turkey bacon.

squash

Oatmeal for National Oatmeal Day!

oatmeal

More quesadillas, this time with black beans and avocados too!

quesadillas

Loads of berries (recycled photo)!!

driscolls berries

Baked strawberry oatmeal bars.

IMG_4310

I told you…completely random, but TASTY!

What have you been eating lately?! 

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Acorn Squash with Turkey Bacon + Weekend Happenings

What a weekend! This was a crazy fun weekend and I am exhausted but it was worth it!

Let’s begin with Friday…

I really haven’t been into the salads lately. I’m thinking it’s because it’s cold outside and I’m craving more warm foods. However I made myself a nice little salad on Friday for lunch and I actually enjoyed it! In the mix: dark greens, tomato, peas, avocado, olives, sunflower seeds, cottage cheese, and drizzle of olive oil infused with Italian spices.

salad

Friday afternoon we celebrated Ted and Annie’s wedding!

dana melanie wedding

It was so great to see the beautiful couple enjoy their special day and it was a lot of fun to see so many of my high school friends!

mel and brandon ted's wedding kal melanie liz

On Saturday, I was a lazy bum for the majority of the day. Dana made us a hearty, protein-packed lunch of eggs with chicken-apple-gouda sausage and onions. Seriously delicious and satisfying.

eggs and chicken sausage

I watched New Girl and eventually whipped up a batch of this awesome and super easy bean dip for a Halloween party we would be attending in the evening.

http://www.thecountrycook.net/2011/01/warm-bean-dip-and-party-food-highlights.htmlbean dip recipe

In the evening we headed out to our friends Adam and Stacy’s house for the annual Halloween party. Every year they impress me more and more with their Halloween decorations. You can only see half of my costume but I was a Food Safety Inspector (you can’t see my badge or meat thermometer and I don’t have my clipboard with me) and Dana was an Italian chef. Unfortunately his restaurant broke too many codes so I had to shut’er down. ūüôā

melanie dana halloween 2013

Thanks Adam and Stace for an amazing party once again!

On Sunday, Dana and I had a bunch of errands we had to run in the morning. I spent the rest of my day prepping for my big TV debut (more to come on this) and I also squeezed in a 3-mile walk around the neighborhood. The weather was absolutely perfect and the scenery was beautiful.

fall walk

For dinner I baked up one acorn squash and served it with organic butter and Applegate Turkey bacon, salt, and pepper.

acorn squash with turkey bacon

I wasn’t in the mood for anything sweet but I think maple syrup would have been really good on this too!

So there you have it. My weekend was a blast and went WAY too fast as it always does.

How was your weekend?
What’s your favorite squash?
How do you use it?

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Sugar Update From the Sky

Hello all! I’m writing from the air today as vacation begins TODAY! I’m about to watch The Great Gatsby and eat some oatmeal for breakfast (second breakfast really being I was up six hours ago and scarfed down a banana and some cereal already) so I’m going to keep this short and sweet for you all.

Speaking of sweet, I thought this would be the perfect time to update you on my sugar intake status. In case you missed it, I wrote a post nearly two weeks ago about how my refined sugar intake was starting to get ridiculously out of control. I decided to commit myself to limiting my refined sugar intake and focusing on only natural sugars in my diet for a while. You can read the full post here: Break the Sugar Addiction.

So how am I doing with it? Amazingly well! I have completely cut it out except for yesterday when I was absolutely starving at work and my only option was a chocolate chip cookie dough Larabar that I had in my purse.

My body is thanking me—my GI system really appreciates when I don’t eat the refined sugars. I also feel like I have higher amounts of energy as my body isn’t going through major blood sugar rollercoasters all day.

My go-to sweet treats right now (in moderation):

Even though it has only been just shy of two weeks, already my body is no longer craving sugar. In fact, I am noticing I am craving more salty foods, believe it or not!

My plan for refined sugar

Being that I am on vacation, and celebrating an anniversary nonetheless, I do plan on having a couple of sweet treats while I’m away. However, I am not going to let it get out of hand. Once I return home, I plan to continue leaving out the white sugars as much as possible, and limiting them only to special occasions.

To me, it’s worth it to cut out these sugars in order to stay healthy and to feel my best.

So, there you have it. Your brief update from up in the sky. The movie is about to start! Leo DiCaprio, here I come!

I can’t to fill you in on my vacation adventures when I get back. In the meantime, I have a handful of wonderful guest posts and one special one from myself as well! Have a fabulous weekend and a great week!

To those of you who decided to cut out or limit refined sugars with me, how is it going?! 

 

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Deliciously Simple Egg Salad Recipe (No Mayo)

Happy hump day! I hope everyone is having a fabulous week. How’s the freezer clean out going? Before we get into that I want to share with you all an embarrassingly easy recipe that you can make this week for lunch. It is a mayo-free, deliciously simple egg salad recipe!

egg salad

I always forget how much I enjoy egg salad until I make it again and then I always say, “why don’t I make this more often?” It’s protein packed, full of great vitamins and nutrients like Vitamin D and choline, and can be very versatile. Serve it on a lettuce salad, or on a couple of pieces of whole grain bread with tomatoes, in a whole grain tortilla with spinach, or you could even eat it as a snack by using thick cut veggies (think scoop-shaped ones like bell peppers and celery) to dip it up!

egg salad

This is what’s for lunch today, and I am excited!!

egg salad

Deliciously Simple Egg Salad Recipe (No Mayo)
Print
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 2 hardboiled eggs, peeled and diced
  • 2 Tbsp celery, diced
  • 1 Tbsp dill pickles, diced
  • 1 tsp capers, chopped or whole
  • 1 heaping Tbsp mustard
  • sprinkle of onion powder, to taste
  • fresh black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Use a fork to mix well and mash eggs slightly.
  2. Serve cold over a salad, on whole grain bread, in a whole grain tortilla, or with thick cut veggies to scoop up salad.

It has been a looooong time since I’ve shared a recipe, or at least I feel like it anyway. So although this is the most simple recipe ever, I am so happy I got to share one with you all still!

So, back to the project freezer clean out. How is it going for everyone? I am personally having a great time scrounging for long lost items in the freezer. Here’s a tip: remember to write the date that you freeze the items right on the bag or the container before you freeze them. Even if you think you’ll remember when you put the item in there, there’s a good chance you will probably forget. Just do it!

I threw together this hodge-podge of a meal last night and it turned out great. It was leftover asparagus and leek soup with broccoli, leftover sautéed veggies from the other night, chicken, yellow quinoa, and cheddar cheese melted over the top. So random but honestly so good!

leftover soup

Besides that leftover meal, I’ve also been enjoying brown rice wraps (that I keep in the freezer—sorta doesn’t count) with peanut butter and banana, smoothies made with frozen fruit, and that’s about it besides that I showed you in the previous post!

This whole freezer clean out business might have to extend to post-vacation. It is fun to get creative with what you have already! Plus, leftovers such as soup are so great when you are feeling real lazy and not wanting to make anything. Just toss it into a microwave safe bowl, cover it and let it heat through! Easy and delicious.

I hope you all have a great day!

I want to hear from you…Have you been working on cleaning out the freezer? Any delicious concoctions you have come up with?!

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WIAW: What I Have Been Eating Lately

Today I’m joining in on the fun with a round of Peas and Crayon’s, “What I Ate Wednesday,” but instead of what I ate Wednesday, I am renaming mine to what I have been eating lately.

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Loads of fresh and sweet berries thanks to Driscoll’s berries!!

berries

Spinach salads with strawberries, black beans, avocado, chicken, sunflower seeds, and honey mustard dressing.

spinach salad

Fruit and Nut “Cereal”–blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, bananas, sliced almonds, cashew pieces, dried currants, cacao nibs, and almond milk! And I just decided that is what’s for breakfast today! Num!

paleo cereal

Leftover Four Bean Quinoa Chili from the freezer!

leftover chili

Two over-easy eggs with sautéed onions, fresh garden tomatoes, avocado, and salsa!

eggs

Blue Diamond Artisan Nut Thins. These things are crazy good! The box is empty.

blue diamond crackers

 

Dates for a little bit of a sweet treat.

dates and pb

And last but not least, homemade almond butter!

 

 

almond butter

 

I’d say I’ve been eating pretty darn well!

 

What have YOU been eating lately?

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Thai Chicken Salad with AMAZING Peanut Sauce

On Tuesday night my gal pal Kalkal came over and amazing things happened…thai chicken salad

 

Yes, you read it right. Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Sauce. Amazing peanut sauce. And to be perfectly honest, it was a super easy meal to make, so even better right?

1. We baked up two chicken breasts.

2. Made the peanut sauce.

3. Chopped the veggies.

4. Plated the salad.

salad prep

Once it’s all plated together you get this beautiful masterpiece. We have mixed greens, carrots, red bell peppers, onions, cilantro, basil, baked chicken, and PEANUT SAUCE!

thai chicken peanut salad

Every bite was an OMG bite. That’s how good it was! What really made the dish was the basil and the peanut sauce.

The freshness from the crisp vegetables paired with the slightly salty chicken, fragrant herbs, tangy lime juice, and sweet and slightly spicy peanut sauce…it’s perfection. Seriously this salad is incredible. Please make it soon!

thai chicken peanut salad

A success in the kitchen with Kalley once again. It probably helped we were wearing matching Boundary Water shirts. ūüėČ

melanie kalley

Quick flashback anyone?!

homecoming sophomore year

Homecoming Sophomore year of high school. We were just babies. ūüôā I’m so happy we’re still friends after all this time! Love you!

Thai Chicken Salad with AMAZING Peanut Sauce
Print
Ingredients
  • Chicken:
  • 2 small chicken breasts
  • sprinkle of garlic powder
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • sprinkle of coconut aminos or soy sauce
  • Peanut Sauce:
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. coconut aminos or soy sauce
  • 1½ Tbsp. lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp. natural creamy peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp. warm water
  • 1 dot of hot siracha sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • Salad:
  • Mixed dark green lettuce
  • carrots, cut into slivers
  • red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch strips
  • onion, diced
  • cilantro
  • basil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a baking pan with aluminum foil and a light spray of olive oil.
  2. Use fork to puncture chicken breasts. Then sprinkle on coconut aminos, lime juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Bake for 35 minutes and then broil for 5 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, prepare peanut sauce by combining sauce ingredients into a food processor or mini food processor. Process until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Prepare salad by plating chopped lettuce, topping with carrots, red pepper, onions, cilantro, and basil.
  5. Once the chicken is done cooking, cut into bite-sized pieces and place on top of salad.
  6. Drizzle with peanut sauce and a squeeze of fresh lime juice and ENJOY!

 

Have a fabulous Thursday my friends! I have some excitement headed my way over the next couple of days. Can’t wait to fill you in!

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Four Bean Quinoa Chili & GIVEAWAY WINNERS!

Well, hello there! Happy Friday!

Who wants some of this? four bean quinoa chili

I have LOTS of leftovers around here! This always winds up happening to me…I have the intention of making a small pot of chili, or soup, or anything really, and it turns into a humongo amount. Lucky for me soup freezes well and I have an extra freezer in the garage.

I know some of you out there probably think I’m totally crazy for making chili on a 95+ degree day, but it’s not like I slaved over it in kitchen. I let the crock pot do the majority of the work for me.

Here’s how I did it…

I chopped up the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and lightly saut√©ed them in a small amount of olive oil on the stove top for 5-7 minutes (more detailed instructions below). I then transferred the veggies to the crock pot along with all other remaining ingredients except the beans. I used canned beans and I didn’t want them to get too soggy and/or mushy by adding them too early.

chili

I actually let this whole concoction sit together overnight only because I knew I wouldn’t have time to throw this together in the morning, but you could most definitely do this all the morning of.

Since I did let this mingle overnight, it allowed for my quinoa to soak for a long time before cooking, which can aid in digestion. Again, this is a step you can skip if you would like.

The next day I gave it all a stir and turned the crock pot on low at 12:00 pm (this is still without the beans and chiles). This mingled in the crock pot for four hours.

Then I added the beans and the chiles (you could add the chiles to the ingredients that were already in the crock pot, I just kind of forgot/got too lazy to open up the can I guess!

chili

Three hours later when we arrived home, I did some final taste testing, added some additional seasoning, and gave it one last stir.chlii

I chopped some cilantro and fresh avocado to top off the chili.

I got’er all served up!

chili

And I devoured.  chili

chili

You can add any other toppings you like—cheese, sour cream, Greek yogurt, green onions, etc!

So pretty, right? Call me crazy but I can eat chili any time of the year no matter how hot it is. Now, if I didn’t have air conditioning, we would be talking a whole different ball game.

Four Bean Quinoa Chili
Print
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 3 cup chicken broth**
  • 2½ Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp smoky paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sprinkle of garlic powder
  • **you could substitute vegetable stock and make this recipe 100% vegan
  • sprinkle of onion powder
  • 1-15 oz can black beans
  • 1-15 oz can chili beans
  • 1-15 oz can red kidney beans
  • 1-15 oz can white kidney beans
  • 1-4 oz can of diced green chiles
  • cilantro (optional topping)
  • avocado (optional topping)
Instructions
  1. Lightly saute onions, garlic, carrots, and celery on the stove top for 5-7 minutes.
  2. In a large crockpot, add the sautéed vegetables, quinoa, broth, and all spices. Stir, cover, and turn crockpot on low. Let this go for 4 hours.
  3. After 4 hours add in the beans and chiles and stir. Recover and let cook for another 2-3 hours.
  4. Give it one last stir and taste test to make sure seasonings are spot on. Add additional seasonings if desired.
  5. Serve in pretty bowls and top with cilantro and avocado!
  6. Enjoy!

 

What do you think? Am I crazy for making hot chili on a super hot summer day? Do you ever eat soup in the summer?

*********************

Now, to those of you hanging around to find out if you are the winner of the Dara Torres meet and greet, spin class, and free ear buds, your wait ends here.

The two winners are:

1. Katie @ Daily Cup of Kate

2. Stacy Elling

Congrats you two! I will get an email out to both of you with the details of the event!! Thank you all of you who entered!

HApppppppppyyyy Friday!!

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WIAW: Sweet and Salty

Well I was all set to write out a nice post to contribute to WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday) hosted by Jenn over at Peas and Crayons, but guess what? My body was needing some extra sleep this morning and I gave it what it wanted. Therefore, I don’t have any much time to blog this morning, so here is a quick version of WIAW (actually a combination of eats from Monday AND Tuesday)!

First, what is WIAW?

According to Jenn…

“—What WIAW¬†isn’t¬†about—-
Comparison – Judgement – Restriction – Guilt
—-What WIAW¬†is¬†about—-
Celebrating one of the glorious things we all have in common: We all eat!
WIAW is about food and fun! It’s about making new friends, breaking out of a food rut, noting changes in your diet/lifestyle, inspiring yourself & others, embracing fruit & vegetables, nourishing your body with the foods that work for¬†you,¬†finding new ways to eat your favorite foods,¬†and so. much. more.
Celebrate Food. ¬†Celebrate blogging.¬†¬†Celebrate Individuality.”

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I also want to mention that I absolutely did not photograph everything I ate! Here’s what I have got for ya!

Berries with brown rice puffs and almond milk.

brown rice cereal with fruit

Spinach salad with tuna and veggies!

spinach salad with tuna

Caribou coffee with mom (no picture): caramel soy latte! My new favorite! my adorable mom and abbie

Spoonfuls of this stuff…

peanut butter coconut spread

My amazing dinner I shared with you yesterday: quinoa with sautéed veggies and hummus!

quinoa sauteed veggies

And I will not lie to you, I consumed a lot of this stuff over the past couple of days. Trail mix is my weakness! The sweet and salty combo gets me every time. So darn delicious!

trail mix

Thanks Jenn for hosting WIAW! Happy Hump Day!

Do you prefer sweet or salty foods? 
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Atlanta for the Weekend!

I am coming off of one fantastic weekend. Dana and I flew out to Atlanta to celebrate the beautiful Katie’s birthday with her! Remember last year when we went out there for my birthday? I thought I would switch it up this time and go out there for hers.

I have an incredible amount of laundry to get to so I’m going to limit the words for ya’ll today (the southerners must have rubbed off on me). Here’s a photo recap from our wonderful weekend with our friends.

Dinner at Muss and Turners: I ordered the Grilled Bison Flank and the collard greens

kate and melanie

atl muss and turner

Hike up Stone Mountain on a rainy and windy day=kinda scary/ super slippery

kate and melanie

stone mountain atl

Going up was simple compared to coming down! Hanging on tight.

stone mountain atl

Burgers at Flip Burger: I ordered the turkey burger with tomato, avocado, sprouts, provolone cheese, and some awesome ketchup. We all split an order of fries too. Confession: I love crispy fries.

Flip burger

Atlanta Braves baseball game! We had amazing seats and had a blast!

atl braves

Headed to the Farmer’s Market and Art Festival at Piedmont Park!

melanie and dana    farmers market atl

Hanging out on their massive covered porch while the rain fell and enjoying their friend’s adorable puppy, Ruby who is an Italian Greyhound. She liked snuggling with me! My heart melts.

atl ruby

Homemade dinner on the last night made by Dana and myself: scallops, spinach salad with fresh organic peaches and almonds, roasted veggies from the farmer’s market (zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper), and quinoa of course. ūüôā

scallops

I really can’t believe the weekend came and went already. Why does time fly by so fast?! Luke and Kate, thanks for being such great hosts to us once again! Can’t wait to see you again.

What was the highlight of YOUR weekend? A beautiful walk, much-needed couch time, cooking, baking, a ice-cream cone, etc?

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Greek Quinoa Salad

Happy Wednesday!

As I mentioned yesterday, I am on a quinoa kick. At the beginning of the week I usually prepare a large batch of quinoa so that I am able to enjoy it easily throughout the week.

I generally add the quinoa into a big mixed greens salad or serve it alongside of some chicken kabobs or stir-fry, but sometimes I get fancy. I got fancy this week.

After taking inventory in the fridge, I realized that I¬†had just about everything I needed to make a Greek inspired quinoa dish: quinoa, zucchini, tomatoes, and basil from the farmer’s market, red onion, red bell peppers, feta cheese, and everything I need to make my own Greek dressing (olive oil, red wine vinegar, spices). The only thing I had to buy at the grocery store to make this salad complete was kalamata olives.

This dish involves a little bit of chopping and mixing, but all in all it is pretty simple! I made my own dressing but you could certainly buy your favorite Greek or Italian salad dressing at the store in this salad, and that would be just fine.

Greek Quinoa Salad

What’s great about this dish is that you can make it the night before you want to eat it, and just add finishing touches right before you serve it.

So to begin, I had cooked a huge batch of quinoa with half chicken broth and half water. I scooped two cups of the cooked quinoa into a medium bowl. Then I chopped up zucchini, red onion, red bell pepper, grape and cherry tomatoes, and kalamata olives. I mixed the quinoa and veggies and set them aside.

Greek Quinoa Salad

Then, I mixed up my dressing (the recipe is below). I poured half of the dressing over the quinoa and combined it gently into the salad. I covered the salad and put it in the fridge for the night.

The next day I removed the salad from the fridge, added in the rest of the dressing, gave it a stir and topped it with fresh feta cheese and fresh basil!

Greek Quinoa Salad Greek Quinoa Salad Greek Quinoa Salad   Greek Quinoa Salad Greek Quinoa Salad

Botta bing, botta boom! Beautiful. I couldn’t stop snapping photos, it was just so pretty!

Greek Quinoa Salad
Print
Serves: 8-10 as a side salad
Ingredients
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (cooked in half chicken broth and half water)
  • ½ cup red pepper, diced
  • ½ cup zucchini, diced
  • ½ cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • ⅓ cup red onion, diced finely
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • 3 Tbsp fresh basil, cut into shreds
  • Dressing:
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1½ tsp. dried oregano
  • 1½ tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ Tbsp. ground mustard
  • cracked black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a small container, mix up the dressing. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine quinoa, red pepper, zucchini, tomatoes, red onion, and half of the dressing. Give it a gentle stir, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge overnight (or for a couple of hours).
  3. The next day, remove the salad and add in the remainder of the dressing, mix to combine. Finish by sprinkling feta cheese and fresh basil on top of salad. Enjoy!!

Are you utilizing locally grown, in-season vegetables?

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