Tag Archives: Healthy

PB&J Oatmeal Breakfast Bars


I don’t know too many people who like preparing elaborate breakfasts on weekday mornings, including me who is sans day job at the moment. I prefer cereal and the occasional bagel if I have an extra minute. But The BF grabs whatever is handy and races out the door, eating later at his desk while checking email. He’s not a big fan of hot oatmeal and one can only eat bananas for so many meals, so I decided to try and come up with something that he’d look forward to eating but that also didn’t start his day off with a total calorie fest. I found these incredible and surprisingly healthy breakfast bars on “Oh She Glows” (don’t worry, guys, men can eat these, too) and added a few things to make them BF-friendly.

On the menu:
PB&J Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
Makes 9 large squares (you can cut them smaller if you like)

2 1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant), divided
3 Tbsp chia seed
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp ground flax seed
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk (use soy milk or almond milk to make these vegan)
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 ripe banana, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp orange juice
1/4 cup raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line an 8 x 8 inch pan with parchment paper.

Blend 1 cup of rolled oats in a blender or food processor until it forms a fine flour (you can skip this by buying oat flour and just using 1 cup of it). Add oat flour, remaining 1 1/2 cups of rolled oats, chia seed, flax seed, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt to a large bowl and whisk until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, honey, peanut butter, banana, and vanilla until combined (obviously the chunkier ingredients won’t fully combine but do the best you can). Add this bowl to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth over so the batter is even.

In a small saucepan, combine orange juice and jam. Over low/medium heat, cook until the mixture becomes smooth with no lumps. Pour the hot jam over the batter in the pan until the bars are completely covered.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and remove from the pan. Let fully cool before cutting into squares.

Note: You could do virtually anything you want with these bars. I was thinking a pumpkin pie oatmeal bar would be to die for, with the addition of a cup of pumpkin puree, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp all spice, and maybe a crumble of brown sugar on top (removing the jam and PB and banana, of course). Still just as healthy as the above recipe and a completely different taste.

Last note!: Read all about the health benefits of chia seeds and flax seed by clicking the links. It’s pretty incredible!

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Vegan Chickpea Chili Over Rice


I have a new project that I’m working on that I’m SO excited about but can’t talk about quite yet (don’t worry, mom, I told you already). In the meantime, I can tell you it involves this: delicious food. And that’s all you really care about anyway, isn’t it?

This chili should come with a warning: contains colon cleansers. Get my drift? Don’t eat more than one heaping bowl if you’re like, going on a date or something and you prefer not to asphyxiate said date with vicious flatulence.

Do you guys read other food blogs that talk about flatulence? No? Well then I win!

On the menu:
Vegan chickpea chili over rice
Serves 5

2 cups jasmine rice
4 cups water
Salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp chili powder (chipotle chili powder if you can find it)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Fresh ground black pepper
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained
1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained

In a medium pot over medium heat, add the olive oil, the chopped onion, and the red pepper and sautee until the vegetables soften, around 10 – 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, the cumin, and the chili powder and stir to combine. Let simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

While the tomatoes are simmering, make the rice according to the package.

Season tomatoes with salt and pepper. Add chickpeas and kidney beans and cook over low/medium heat until beans are heated through, around 15 – 18 minutes. Put rice in bowls and serve chili over the top.

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Sesame Crusted Tuna

This meal is my idea of a pleasant surprise, meaning I had set aside an hour to cook dinner on Sunday and SURPRISE it took me 15 minutes. Also in my list of pleasant surprises: finding out my new sky-high heels are actually comfortable, and realizing I did not, in fact, drink all the wine in the house when I’m dying for a glass at 11am 5pm on a Saturday.

On the menu:
Sesame crusted tuna over arugula with ginger soy dressing
Serves 2

2 tuna steaks (around 1/2 pound each)
4 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 bunch of arugula (this is the bed if greens for your tuna so use as much as you like)

Dressing:
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp powdered ginger (or 1/4 tsp fresh ginger root, minced)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp water

With a paper towel, pat tuna steaks dry of any residual moisture. In a flat, shallow dish, pour sesame seeds in an even layer. Add salt and combine. Dredge tuna steaks in the sesame seeds so the steaks are coated on both broad sides AND the edges. In a medium sized skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sear each steak for around 60 seconds on each side, including the edges (use tongs for this part). Remove from heat and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes before serving (yes, the inside will be raw and no, you won’t get sick from it).

Whisk all ingredients for dressing in a small bowl. Heat in microwave for 1 minute so the honey melts a bit. Whisk again. Plate arugula over 2 plates, pour half the dressing over the greens, plate the tuna on top of the greens, and then top with remaining dressing.

NOTE: This recipe takes about 15 minutes from start to finish, a tiny bit longer if you’re slow in mincing the ingredients for the dressing. The clean up is minimal, the presentation is impressive, and the leftovers (should you have any…) are divine. Eat it cold so you’re not the smelly office girl.

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Vegetarian Week: Quinoa Salad with Red Pepper and Chickpeas


When preparing my vegetarian menu, I knew I need something to round out the vegetables and dairy. While staying away from traditional pastas, I thought I’d experiment with quinoa. Truth be told, the only reason I’ve never delved into this seed-that-functions-like-a-grain prior to my veg meal is because I can’t find it in my grocery store. And I’ve experienced the blank “I don’t know what the heck you’re talking about” stare at that store too many times to ask for something that sounds French but isn’t at all. “Keen-waaaaaaah?”

I found some organic quinoa at my produce market instead and went to town on this recipe. It ended up being way more delicious than I thought it would be and filling to boot.

On the menu:
Quinoa salad with red pepper and chickpeas
Serves 4 as a side

1/2 cup dry quinoa
1/4 chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup canned chickpeas
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp tahini
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook quinoa according to the directions on the package. Once completely cooked, remove from heat and stir in chickpeas, red pepper, and parsley. In a small bowl, whisk together the shallot, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle dressing over the quinoa and chickpeas and stir gently until incorporated.

This can be served warm, or refrigerated for a later use and served cold.

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Vegetarian Week: Peach, Tomato, and Corn Salad with Feta


Prepare yourselves: this salad is a hit. I know, you’re like, “Seriously? An exciting salad?” But in the dead of summer, when fruit is at its ripest and heat is at its hottest and your pits are at their sweatiest (no? just me?), you want something cool and refreshing even if you’re sittin’ pretty in Arctic/office air conditioning. This salad is it. When I served it to my parents my dad said, “What made you think this would all go together?” But truthfully, the geniuses over at WSJ thought this would go together. And I trust them.

On the menu:
Peach, tomato, and corn salad with feta
Serves 4
Adapted from this recipe from Wall Street Journal

3 ripe, sweet tomatoes
3 ripe (but still semi-firm) peaches
2 ears corn, shucked and boiled, kernels cut off
1/4 cup red onion, sliced thin
3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Cut tomatoes and peaches into wedges of equal size. In a large bowl, add tomatoes, peaches, corn kernels, onion, and olive oil and toss until combined and coated. Plate salad. Crumble feta over the top. Serve any remaining feta on the side.

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Mediterranean Chicken Salad

I love to cook (…duh) but sometimes weeknight meals feel like a chore to come up with. The BF and I do our weekly grocery shopping on Sundays and sometimes I just can’t think past Sunday night as far as meals go. “Are you sick of penne vodka?” I always ask, staring down at the shopping list with the same twenty items as last week and the week before.

If you’re like me, and you often run out of ideas, there’s a savior: Epicurious Weekday Meal Planner. It’s literally a meal for every night of the week. Not just an entree, not just a soup or a sandwich, a whole meal: salad, entree, and even a dessert suggestion. Epicurious even offers up suggestions on what to do with leftovers (for example, 2 cups of rice made on Monday could serve as the base for Tuesday’s soup). And the best part? Most meals are working-girl/guy friendly. You won’t find any four-hour-long roasting menus or Thanksgiving-sized turkey dinners. If you’re ever stuck for a meal idea, you gotta check it out.

The below meal comes straight from Epicurious’ Weekday Meal Planner and it exceeded my expectations. And I love that it makes enough leftovers for my lunch tomorrow and The BF’s dinner on Thursday.

On the menu:
Mediterranean chicken salad
Serves 5
Adapted from Epicurious.comĀ 

4 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups cooked, diced chicken

1 cup orzo
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 6-oz. jar of artichoke hearts, drained
2 Tbsp capers, drained
3 cups mixed greens
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup cucumbers, diced

In a small bowl combined oil, vinegar, tarragon, lemon juice, and mustard, and whisk together until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss the chicken with 1/4 cup dressing until coated.

Cook orzo as directed and once drained, toss cooked orzo with the remainder of the dressing. Add chicken to the orzo, then add the cranberries, artichoke hearts, and capers.* Plate mixed greens and then chicken salad on top of the greens. Add tomatoes and cucumbers on the side (or on top if the mood strikes you).

*This salad is “supposed” to be served cold (I don’t really do a lot of things I’m supposed to when it comes to cooking) but I looooved the flavor of the balsamic vinegar when the chicken and orzo warmed it up, so feel free to serve it warm or at room temperature.

Note: I warmed up some naan and served it alongside the salad. It was the cherry on the sundae… and yes. Afterward I ate a sundae.

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Roasted Shrimp with Tomatoes, Capers and Feta


I have a small collection of cookbooks, and truth be told, they serve more as kitchen decoration than anything else. I decided it’s because cooking from a cookbook is a gamble: you really have to trust the cookbook editor and publisher in order to guarantee a great recipe. I made some mediocre apple muffins a couple weeks ago from a cookbook, and I guarantee that if I had searched for the exact recipe online I would’ve found one with tons of notes in the comments and helpful tips on how to make those muffins stellar.

I do, however, have a cookbook that I know is incredible (I used to work for the publisher heeeeeey) and all about roasting: literally called All About Roasting. My hesitation in using it is that roasting, to me, seems super involved and time consuming. But I read through it slowly one blissful warm Saturday morning with a hot cup of coffee and found this incredible shrimp recipe. Turns out roasting doesn’t always mean 4 hours in the oven.

On the menu:
Roasted shrimp with tomatoes, capers and feta
Serves 2

1/2 pound jumbo shrimp
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp vodka
Salt
One 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, or 1 3/4 cups of peeled, seeded, and diced fresh tomatoes
2 Tbsp capers, drained
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, vodka, and a pinch of salt. Toss and coat and let marinade for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Spread the tomatoes in a shallow baking dish (I used a 8″ x 10″ Pyrex dish), drizzle with remaining Tbsp of olive oil, and sprinkle with capers. Arrange the shrimp on top of the tomatoes and pour extra marinade over the top.

Bake for 8 minutes, or until the shrimp are mostly pink. Using tongs, flip shrimp and cover with feta cheese. Bake for another 8 – 10 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through completely. Feta will be slightly melted.

Note: I served this over buttered orzo and it made a lovely weeknight meal with minimal effort. #Win.

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