Want to see what’s in my lunch bag today? Take a look!
Bringing my lunch to work is a habit I’ve been working on since I entered the work force. Over the years I’ve learned what travels well and what doesn’t. Recently I’ve started packing a few snacks and my vitamins, just in case I need them during the day. Today I packed part of a steak and veggie frittata from yesterday. Frittatas are great because you can pretty much throw any leftovers in and get something absolutely delicious. This one features leftover grilled sirloin and a mix of grilled peppers and onions. Between the steak, eggs, and cheese I’ve got plenty of protein and fat to keep me feeling full well in to the afternoon. On the side I’ve packed a salad with raspberries and pine nuts. I keep salad dressing in the refrigerator at work because I’ve learned my lesson after spilling dressing all over my lunch bag and car one too many times. For my mid-morning and afternoon snacks I packed a few sweet peppers, green olives, and an organic sunrise energy bar. These little bars are packed with oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and quinoa – they’re pretty delicious, too. I’ll wash all of this down with water and take my fish oil and multivitamin at lunch. Bringing my lunch to work every day is just one of the ways I’m making an investment in my long-term health.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see some shots of my everyday life. My goal is to show examples of how I manage to balance my health and wellness goals with a busy lifestyle. I have a full-time job that I work Monday through Friday, in addition to working on a side business most evenings and weekends. My Instagram feed is full of the meals I eat, the exercise I fit in, and the little things I do to bring joy to my life. This “week in review” blog is to give a little more insight in to the photos I posted throughout the previous week.
Meals & meal prep
You might have noticed that the majority of my meals are plant-based. My rule of thumb is to try and eat at least 1 plant food from every color of the rainbow everyday. Looking back at my meals this week, I realize I need to work on getting that BIV part of the rainbow a little more. As far as meal planning goes, I don’t really plan ahead other than to stock the pantry and fridge with healthy, whole foods. I know my husband and I would do better if we worked from a meal plan, but I haven’t taken the time to sit down and create one. The best I can do right now is wake up, make a cup of tea and open the fridge to see what’s there. For breakfast and lunch I’ll pack any leftovers plus some fruits and veggies for work. Dinner tends to follow the same pattern: protein, veggie, and complex carb. Sticking to that pattern makes it easier to decide which protein/veggie/carb we’re having based on what’s in the fridge or pantry. Maybe one day I’ll sit down and create a bunch of seasonal cycle menus. Or maybe not.
My exercise has been a little less predictable over the last few weeks. I’ve been changing my routine up and going to the gym in the morning. I thought getting it over with at the beginning of the day would mean I was less likely to skip, but now I’m finding that those morning hours would be ideal to work on my side hustles. So there might be another change coming. At any rate, I usually exercise 3 days per week – twice at the gym and once doing a long hike or walk around the neighborhood. At the gym, I’ve been loving sprints and TRX recently. For hiking, there are so many wonderful options within the Nashville city limits. We don’t have to drive far to find a great 5 mile hike.
Farmer’s Market & Backyard Garden
My neighborhood farmer’s market just opened for the season and if you can’t tell by the pictures, I’m pretty excited. This little market is within walking distance of my house (about 1 mile) and it happens every week from about mid-Spring to early-Fall. I love being able to come home in the afternoon and walk down to the market to pick up some fresh, local foods for the week. Right now the strawberries are in season and I can’t get enough of them. We’ve been using them in smoothies, topping our oatmeal and salads, and having them for dessert. We’ve also got strawberries coming up in our backyard garden so hopefully we’ll be enjoying them for a while (if the critters don’t get to them first). In addition to strawberries we planted peppers, tomatoes, basil, and herbs. I’ve got lots of plans for what we produce so stay tuned for more!
On Friday I posted a picture of the app I use for guided meditation. It’s called Headspace and it might be the best Christmas gift I got this year. My husband has been meditating for almost 2 years now and he’s been encouraging me to give it a try. Since I started my new job my emotions have gotten the better of me at times and that has impacted my home life. When he gave me this gift he also wrote me a sweet note about how it’s helped him and how much he believes it could help me become a better person (the person I know I can be.) Since I started using this app, I have noticed such a huge improvement in so many areas in my life (which is really just my mind) other than my stress level. I have so much less negative self-talk, I am beginning to confront my emotions and quickly move away from unproductive ones, and I am better able to harness my focus and creativity to what what really matters to me and my future. From just a few months of meditating, I have been able to overcome so many of my fears and barriers. If you’ve been thinking about starting a meditation routine, I highly suggest it and I recommend starting with Headspace.
It was a busy week and now I’m off to prepare for the coming week’s adventures!
Oh hey, look at me. I’m back after a very long absence. I have no real excuse for the lack of posts because I have thought about this little site every week since last Spring, I just haven’t felt very connected to my RD voice in a while. What happened? I started a new job, a more clinically demanding job and it’s taken a lot out of me. It’s even made me question my choice to become a dietitian at all. That has been a huge weight to bear, but I’ve done a lot of RD soul searching recently and I’ve re-connected with my voice. I’ve also realized that my voice is an important one, and one that some people may really need to hear. So, I’ll be back to posting here. It may be slowly at first, but as I grow comfortable in sharing my voice there will be more posts. During one of my recent meditations, I worked through some negative feelings about “re-starting” and decided that instead of calling it a re-start, I’m choosing to call it a re-direction. Re-starting implies that the initial idea or plan was a bad one, but I don’t think that at all. Re-directing feels more like makinga shift away from where I had gotten and back toward where I need to go. And that is exactly what I am doing. Starting now!
You know that feeling you get when you bite in to the first home-grown tomato of the season? I’m a big fan of that feeling! In fact, I like to experience that feeling every day of the summer and early fall. To ensure that I’ve got a steady supply of delicious home-grown tomatoes, my husband and I planted a garden in our back yard. This is our second year to plant at our current house and we’re looking forward to all the amazing summer dishes we’ll be able to create with our own produce. While we’re waiting for our goodies to surface, I thought I’d share with you some photos of the garden and a few things I’ve got planned to use up all that sweet summer produce.
Our neighbor swears this is THE BEST way to grow tomatoes. We were pretty successful last year until every squirrel in Nashville found our juicy beauties!
Heirloom tomatoes: If I can keep myself from eating these babies straight off the vine like an apple, I’ll be using them to make
• Simple tomato sandwiches on toasted bread with homemade mayo
• Tomato sauce and tomato soup for the colder months
• Pico de gallo & salsa for topping fish tacos, chicken + veggie quesadillas, and every egg dish known to man (or at least me)
• Beer battered fried green tomatoes (for special occasions only, of course!)
• Cut and tossed with cucumbers and herbs for a quick salad or side dish
• Topping pizzas or tarts
• Slow roasted to intensify their flavor and use for topping salads & grain dishes
• Grilled veggie kebabs
• Salad on a stick with basil, mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar
Bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, Chinese peppers:
• Cut in to strips for lunches & snacks
• Topping salads
• Stuffing with a meat + grain mixture
• Grilled veggie kebabs (along with the Cherry tomatoes and some local zucchini and squash)
• Slow-roasting with a little oil, salt, and pepper
• Pesto, pesto, pesto
• Whole leaves on sandwiches
• Torn and tossed in to salads or on top of grilled veggies
• Flavoring water & adult beverages
• Sliced up for salads
• Quartered for a crunchy snack w/ herbed ricotta or goat cheese
• Roasting with oil, salt & pepper for a warm veggie side dish
• Sliced in to sticks for snack & happy desk lunches
Rosemary, Tarragon, Sage, Oregano, and Thyme:
• Mixed in to butter to use in roasting chicken, grilling steaks and corn on the cob
• Flavoring soups to store for the fall & winter
• Freezing in oil for later use
• Adding to salads, roasted veggies, grain dishes
• Flavoring soups to store for the fall & winter
• Freezing in oil for later use
• Flavoring guacamole, pico de gallo, tacos, bean & corn salad
• Topping my favorite home-made Mexican dishes like quesadillas and enchiladas
• Freezing in oil for later use
Spearmint & Peppermint:
• Steeped in to simple syrup for adult beverages and tea
• Flavoring water & adult beverages
• Freezing in water for minty ice cubes
• Flower arrangements
• Making crafts like soap & candles
• Drying for use in home décor
• Sprinkling in to bubble baths
Our little square foot garden! That big guy at the bottom is sage bush that returned from last year.
This week’s Happy Desk Lunch is one of my favorites so far! I’ve got leftovers along with an old favorite and a new favorite. I planned ahead this week and made a light tuna salad (old favorite) to go in my lunch box as well as my husband’s. The tuna and veggies are the stars of this dish, while a little Greek yogurt binds it all together. I use the same basic recipe to make chicken or salmon salad when I have left over grilled, baked, or roasted chicken or salmon. I served the tuna salad over half an avocado and on the side I’ve got a green salad topped with leftover jalapeno and cabbage slaw. I rounded out the meal with half of an orange and a ½ cup of my Chocolate Coffee Chia pudding (new favorite) topped with a few blackberries. A filling lunch that keeps me out of the hamburger & fries line in the corporate cafeteria? I’ll take it!
Light Tuna Salad
Makes 6 servings
½ of a small red onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded & chopped
½ cup Greek yogurt
2 cans tuna, drained & rinsed or (14 oz cooked chicken or salmon, shredded)
Juice of ½ a lemon
¾ tsp garlic salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a refrigerator safe container with a tight-fitting lid. Can be stored for 3-4 days. You will need to stir the salad before serving it. Serve on sandwiches, on top of a green salad, on crackers, or on thick cucumber slices for an elegant appetizer.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve got more cookbooks than you know what to do with. One of my goals for the year is to actually use the cookbooks, magazines, and pins I’ve amassed over the years. Another one of my goals is to start cooking seasonal dishes from a cycle menu that I can reuse year after year.
When I sat down with my collection of cookbooks, I quickly realized I was in over my head. After careful consideration and a bit of a mourning period, I scaled back my collection to only those that I know I will use or have used recently (as in, the last 6 months). Among the lucky remains is a set of Southern Living Annual Recipe books that I inherited from my grandmother. The set begins in 1979 and contains every recipe published in the magazine that year.
I love this collection because I’m obviously a sucker for cookbooks, but also because they were intentionally collected by an incredible woman who knew her way around a southern kitchen. After flipping through the first few books (in all I’ve got 1979-2000), it was clear to me that I had to do something special with them. There are an overwhelming number of recipes in each book, but each one conjures images in my head of southern ladies lunching on airy front porches or big southern families gathering around the table to celebrate…well, anything really. I had so many ideas that it was tough to settle on just one.
Enter the social media theme of “Throwback Thursday.” Eureka! I’ll recreate or update recipes from each month and work them in to my weekly, seasonal menu. So, there you have it. I’m hoping to make this a recurring series with many Throwback Thursday recipes to come.
To kick this series off, I’ve updated a recipe from April 1979 submitted by Mrs. Bruce Fowler of Woodruff, South Carolina. The recipe is called “Asparagus with yogurt dressing” and originally calls for boiling the asparagus until crisp-tender. The asparagus are then chilled and later served on a bed of lettuce and topped with a garlicky yogurt dressing. In my updated version I’ve roasted the asparagus to enhance their flavor and I’ve left out the bed of lettuce (too fancy for a weeknight meal). I served this dish at our weekly Sunday night dinner with friends and it was a huge hit. This quick, elegant and simple side will definitely be a regular part of my spring menus. Thanks Mrs. Fowler!
Roasted Asparagus with Yogurt Dressing
2 pounds asparagus, washed and trimmed
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1 hard-cooked egg yolk
Juice from half a lemon
1. Prepare yogurt dressing ahead by stirring together yogurt, garlic, parsley, and salt. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
2. Drizzle asparagus with olive oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Roast asparagus in a 400 degree oven for 12 minutes until asparagus are browned but still slightly crisp.
4. Remove asparagus from baking dish and place them on a serving dish. Squeeze lemon juice over the asparagus.
5. Spoon the yogurt dressing across the asparagus and crumble egg yolk over dressing.
*This dish can also be served cold.
Twice a week I get to work from home and when it comes time for lunch I like to challenge myself to get in the kitchen and cook a quick meal. This week’s happy desk lunch is one of my go-to lunches when I’m home and it combines two of my favorite foods: eggs and greens. As always I tried to use up some leftovers as well.
Let’s break it down!
The potatoes were left over from that same crawfish boil I mentioned last week. If you’ve never been to a boil, it looks something like this:
If you look closely, there’s quite a bit going on in addition to the crawfish. At most boils you’ll find some variation of sausage, potatoes, and corn. Additional flavorings vary by family. You’ll always find oranges, lemons, whole onions, whole heads of garlic, and mushrooms in my crawfish pot!
Back to lunch…The potatoes were already cooked through so I cut them in to cubes and started by re-heating them in the toaster oven. While they warmed up, I washed the greens and heated a little pecan oil in a pan on the stove. Once the oil was hot, I threw in the potatoes and browned them up a bit. I moved the potatoes to the side of the pan, then threw in a big handful of greens and cooked them until they were just wilted. I dumped the potatoes and greens in to a bowl to get happy while I fried up my egg. I fry my eggs with a small amount of whatever fat looks appealing that moment: butter, olive oil, pecan oil, coconut oil…there’s no shortage in my cabinets. When my egg was cooked over-easy, I topped the potatoes and greens with it and sat down to enjoy this delicious creation.
After my initial experiments with chia seeds last week, I spent some quality time in my kitchen with my cookbooks to get a few more ideas for recipes. When I was in the initial phases of starting this website, I really dreaded the thought of writing recipes. It’s not that I don’t like to cook, it’s just that most of my cooking is the result of one of 2 things. Either I follow a recipe word for word with very few modifications or I jump in blindly and end up with recipe instructions that go something like this:
2 swirls around the pan with olive oil
3 finger taps of cumin
2 good squirts of hot sauce (as opposed to measly squirts??)
a 7 second drizzle of honey
Bake at whatever temperature your oven gets to when you set it to 350
Obviously I will not be writing a cookbook any time soon!
After much trial and error, I did come away with a few good recipes that I’ll be adding to my repertoire. The recipe for Chocolate Coffee Chia Pudding is the result of my love for the flavor combination of chocolate + coffee. The protein powder used in the recipe usually goes in our breakfast smoothies, but it happened to be the only chocolate flavored ingredient I had in the pantry. The second recipe for Oats & Chia Pancakes was really just an experiment with using the Chia Gel from last week’s post to replace eggs in a recipe (I love eggs, but I was curious). Let me just warn you now: THESE PANCAKES ARE NOT LOW CALORIE! They are, however, delicious and should be enjoyed in moderation.
Without further ado, here are the recipes.
Chocolate Coffee Chia Pudding
Makes 3 1/2 cup servings
1 cup brewed coffee
1 tsp honey
1 Tbsp chocolate flavored protein powder of your choice
1/2 cup dairy or non-dairy milk of your choice
1/3 cup chia seeds
1. While coffee is still warm, stir in honey.
2. In a bowl or container with a tight-sealing lid, stir together milk and protein powder. Pour coffee in to container and mix well.
3. Pour chia seeds in to coffee mixture and stir well. Seal container and store in fridge. In a few hours the seeds will swell and you’ll have a pudding-like consistency.
1 cup oats
1.5 cups dairy or non-dairy milk of your choice
2 Tbsp chia gel
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 1/4 cup All-Purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1. Combine oats & milk, set aside for 5 minutes.
2. Add chia gel and coconut oil to oat mixture, stir until just blended. Batter will be thick.
3. Using 1/3 cup measure, pour batter on hot griddle or pan. When the surface is bubbly and the edges are slightly dry, turn pancake to cook other side.
This week’s happy desk lunch features a few leftovers and an experimental item. I posted last week about my adventure in to Chia seeds. I enjoyed them so much that I used the chia gel to top my yogurt in this week’s lunch. I also spent some time planning ahead to make the most of a few leftovers I had in the fridge. My mom was visiting for the weekend and by the time she left, the fridge was full of delicious foods. Featured in the salad is a bit of the barbequed chicken she took home from our favorite BBQ restaurant in Nashville, Edley’s. I also threw on a bit of corn leftover from a birthday crawfish boil (that’s right, crawfish in Nashville!), and some black beans which are another pantry staple in my house. I topped my salad with just a little salsa as the dressing and I couldn’t leave out the avocado. A few carrots that I cut up in to sticks earlier in the week, and I’ve got a pretty well-rounded happy desk lunch!