Let’s pretend this is a panzanella

I lived in Italy this summer for five weeks and I ate a lot of pasta. There isn’t exactly a whole love of big veggie dishes in Italy (trust me, I searched) unless you’re on the coast. I’m spoiled and grew up in Southern California where we have arguably the best produce in the world. I eat tons of veggies, so this overdose of pasta was quite the culture shock. However, panzanella was an occasional awesome find. It’s basically a plethora of veggies that are grilled or cooked with some toasted pita or bread of some sort. I dig it.
I was feeling a little nostalgic of my travels through Italy and whipped up my own version of Panzanella! Mine is light, limited on the bread, and very flavorful considering how few ingredients it has. Whip it up, pour yourself a glass of red and pretend you’re sitting in a piazza in Florence!

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Panzanella
serves 1
ingredients
1 green bell pepper, thickly cut
1 zucchini, thickly cut
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup chickpeas
1 whole wheat pita cut into 8 triangles
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons goat cheese

1. Put the olive oil into a pan and turn to medium heat. When the pan is hot, add in the first four ingredients along with 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and the dried basil. Toss the veggies with a spoon and let them cook for 7 minutes , stirring occasionally.
2. While the vegetables cook, heat the oven to 300 and assemble the pita pieces on a cookie sheet. Put them into the oven and cook for 5 minutes or until slightly crispy.
3. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, chickpeas and remainder of the salt to the veggies. Stir and cook for another 3 minutes.
4. Assemble the vegetables on a plate with the pita pieces around them. Sprinkle the goat cheese on top.

Don’t forget your glass of red! You aren’t in Italy until you have your wine!

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UrthBox made my case of the Mondays a whole lot better

I just discovered something that I wish I had when I was a freshman in college so that I could have used it my entire 4 (and a half..) years at school. Let me preface this with the fact that I get through my day because of snacking and I’m sure that’s the case with most students. When you’re a student, you don’t really have the time (or desire) to cook full meals and so quickly grabbing a snack from the store on the way to school is usually what you have to do. If you’re especially unlucky and forget to grab something at the store, you’re usually stuck buying “convenience” crap food on campus that typically consist of a coffee to keep the hunger away and a bag of chips or a muffin that has an expiration date that’s further out than your own.

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When I discovered UrthBox, I felt like all of those years of abuse from grabbing junk food on the go when I was too unorganized to have healthy snacks available could have been avoided. Even as a nutrition major, I know it takes a ridiculous amount of time to go through the grocery store and read every snack label to make sure that there isn’t anything bad in it. My friends really hate grocery shopping with me because of this… so it can cause social issues as well. Just ask any roommate I’ve ever lived with and they’ll explain the methods they’ve used to entertain themselves at the store while I desperately scan every food label for healthy snacks–basically, the process isn’t fun for anyone.

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UrthBox is everything I’ve ever needed, especially as a student (Plus, it makes a great monthly care package for family members to send to their kids! *cough* Hi mom *cough*). They provide a monthly box of goodies that have passed their strict criteria for calorie and nutrition content, ingredient source and manufacturing reviews. Only the best reach your doorstep. So not only do you get to try a bunch of new products that were delivered straight to you every month, you also don’t have to worry about checking the food labels because they’ve already done it for you!! Praise the lord! Think of all the sleeping.. I mean studying.. you could do instead of wasting time checking food labels!

UrthBox has four different types of boxes to order based off of your dietary needs as well: Classic, Gluten-free, Diet, and Vegan. I got the classic. It was delicious. But more on that later. You can also get different sized boxes delivered to you depending on the type of “snacker” you are. You can get the small discovery box which is only $19 per month and has 7-10 products, the “part time snacker” box which is $29 per month and has 12-15 products or the Happy snacker which has 20-24 products and is only $49 per month. You can do the math, but I’ll just explain this to you: This is way cheaper than if you were to actually go out and buy all of the products that they sell. And it’s delivered to your door. Every month. I really shouldn’t have to say more because those facts alone got me beyond excited about UrthBox. But one more fun fact: You can get discounts and gift cards on the products that they sent you online or at local stores.

STUDENTS and PARENTS: It’s cheap. It’s healthy. It’s convenient. It’s delicious. It’s always fun getting mail. Do yourselves or your kids a favor and sign them up for this. I’m a student and a nutrition expert and this passes both the need for something easy as well as the body’s requirement for something healthy.

I can’t possibly explain all of the perks of UrthBox in this post, so to sign up or to get more information, check them out on facebook, their website, instagram or twitter:

www.urthbox.com

www.facebook.com/urthbox (like them and you’ll get a $10 off coupon code! Score.)

Instagram and Twitter: @Urthbox

Let me tell you about my experience with UrthBox:

I first received an email saying my UrthBox should arrive in 1-3 business days. So obviously, I immediately checked my mailbox to see if somehow the magical folks at UrthBox were able to teleport my package of snacks to me. Unfortunately, they haven’t yet discovered how to do this but I didn’t have to wait long for my UrthBox to arrive because two days later (when I again over-eagerly checked my mailbox) I had my box of goodies in my hands.

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Which is when I took this picture. You’re lucky you even got a picture of the unopened box. It took a lot of will power for me to take the time to snap this picture before tearing it open.

It was like Christmas in November. Which Christmas basically is in November now with Starbucks blasting Christmas music and using their holiday cups-very confusing- but I digress.

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I first see the UrthBox card saying “You are what you eat! So don’t be fast and cheap”. Oh, UrthBox. How did you know I require humor in my relationships? I can already tell this is going to work out really well.

When I brought the box into my apartment, I suddenly had the urge to artistically display the products around a pumpkin because, you know, it’s fall and food makes me inspired.

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My roommates were eyeing all of my snacks and looking down at their own barren sections of the kitchen with extreme sadness (Again, students have ZERO time to buy their own snacks. It’s just a fact of life.).

I now have a full stash of snacks to bring to class with me so that I don’t starve/resort to snickers bars or bags of chips. You guys. Listen to me and sign up for UrthBox. It’s probably the best thing that could happen to a student. Just do it. You’ll be happy, just like me and my satiated little belly.

PS: I’m writing this while snacking on the “Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips” from my box. I’ve never tried them before until now and I’m hooked. Non-Gmo and all! God, I love snacks.

A recipe that makes being poor taste rich: Beef Stew with red wine

Remember that leftover bagged red wine you have from your last party? Or the cheap cut of beef that you bought because you’re too broke to get the tender cuts? Well, we can make your cheap self appear to have a lot more money than you really do with this flavorful stew!
You can really stretch your dollar when it comes to stew. Cooking meat for a couple of hours causes a tough cheap cut to turn into a tender one. Plus, stew is mostly comprised of items that you already have in your pantry and fridge. So no need to make a huge trip to the grocery store to put together this meal!
This recipe is packed with nutrients from the multitude of vegetables and is naturally low in calories while still being able to enjoy beef and flavor!
Try it out as the beginning of fall starts to sneak in on us. It’s perfect to warm up with on a cold, fall night.

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Beef stew with red wine
serves 2

ingredients
1/2 lb stew meat (if it isn’t already cut, ask your butcher to cut it for you)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 large onion, chopped (larger chunks)
1 small sweet potato, chopped (large chunks)
3/4 cup butternut squash, chopped (large chunks)
1/2 cup red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon)-use a cheap wine
4 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 1 tablespoon dried- make sure to crunch it up a little first)
2 sprigs thyme (or 1 tablespoon dried)
Salt and pepper

1. Pour the olive oil into a large pot and heat to medium high. Put the meat chunks in, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of both salt and pepper and brown all sides. This should take 5 minutes or so.
2. Take the meat out and add in the onion, celery and carrot. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt over the veggies. Sauté for 4 minutes and then add the wine. Let the wine cook for about 5 minutes or until reduced in volume by 3/4.

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3. Add the rest of the vegetables and the browned meat back into the pot, along with the chicken broth, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Cover and cook for 2 hours. After the two hours, the stew is done! Make sure to remove the bay leaf before serving. You can save the leftovers for the next day. Stew is even tastier when it’s been sitting.

MUNCH THIS: blueberry almond butter pancakes

I use to eat pancakes a lot growing up. Drenched in syrup, slathered in butter… You could hear yourself getting fatter (Tommy Boy reference for anyone who caught that). But then I grew up.
A couple of weeks ago, I thought that I would treat myself and get some pancakes for breakfast. It had all the above stated necessities. About two seconds after I finished eating it, I wanted to puke. I felt so… Icky inside. It didn’t even taste as good as I remembered. I guess eating cleaner caused my taste buds to prefer the healthier foods and reject the heart attack on a plate foods.
Put I still like the idea of pancakes, so I didn’t give up on them.
A few days later, my sister in law introduced me to a cleaner, healthier version of the sinfully sweet breakfast treat. And it is my civic duty to pass the recipe on to my fellow health nut followers!

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Clean blueberry pancakes
serves 2

ingredients
1/2 cup almond butter
1 banana
2 eggs
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together the first three ingredients really well. Once that is mixed, stir in the frozen blueberries. Put two tablespoon portions onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
3. Sprinkle the top with the honey, blueberries and Greek yogurt!

** Try this out on a lazy Sunday morning. Make extra and store them in the fridge for the week! Just reheat them in the oven!

Eating healthy on a post grad budget: making the struggle easier

I have one more semester until I’m completely done with school and honestly, it scares the sh*t out of me. It’s hard to get excited about graduation when all I can think about is the impending doom of being on my own and having responsiblity thrust upon me. Thankfully, I have learned how to at least feed myself on a limited budget so I won’t starve to death or survive off of plain pasta.
One of my friends who graduated in May asked me to shed some light on how to eat well while pinching your pennies. I’m going to provide tips that have gotten me through hard times of barely any money and an example week of how to eat when you can’t even rub two dimes together.

SURVIVAL TIPS

1. Meal planning will become your best friend. It can be extremely annoying to have to plan out what you’re going to eat each day for 5 days, but unfortunately, you’re broke and you don’t have much more of an option. When you’re making the big bucks, you can go crazy and decide on a whim what you’ll eat, when you want to eat it. But for now, you have GOT to learn how to meal plan.

???So how do you meal plan???
Great question, young post college graduate. That leads me to my next point…

2. Make simple meals that all use some of the same ingredients. This is really important. Lets say you want to make a veggie pasta with zucchini, tomatoes, and broccoli. Use the leftover vegetables the next day to make a veggie quinoa bowl. It takes some planning, but it gets easier, I promise.

 

I’ve told you how to plan to eat cheaply for a week… now how do you make it healthy?

SIMPLE!

3. Use the recipes that I post to plan your meals around! And stay updated with the recipes that I post. I have been living a healthy and CHEAP lifestyle on my own now for four years. I’ve learned a lot. Use my information to help you succeed in staying healthy on a budget.

 

Now I’m going to lay it all out for you in a 5 day example so that you can get the gist of how to do this. I’ve  listed enough meals for each category to get you through the week. Some won’t have 5 different meals and that’s because you can eat this on multiple different days to save you money:

Breakfast: Eggs and toast, strawberry and almond butter toast (use bananas instead of strawberries), leftover savory eggs and potatoes

Lunch: raw kale salad with avocado dressing, fajita style chicken lettuce wrap, dinner sized salad (add chicken),  chicken sandwich (using leftover chicken from one of your meals), black bean quinoa bowl 

Snacks: peanut butter protein bars, kind bar, greek yogurt

Dinner: Vegan shepherd’s pie, green monster quinoa bowl, savory eggs and potatoes, potato leek soup with toast, teriyaki chicken plate (use quinoa instead of rice)

Drinks: a bottle of wine… you know… for the weekend. or something.

You can eat ALL OF THIS healthy food for only $55.61. And I even included a bottle of WINE! Take that out and you’re under $50!! I actually went to Trader Joes, wrote down the cost of every item that you need for these meals, and then figured out the cost of everything. You’re welcome. Now you don’t have any excuse! Go eat healthy and check in for more recipes on my blog! All are diet friendly. All approved.

Just a reminder… THESE are all the money saving meals that you’ll be able to make. Looks a lot different than ramen, huh?

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6 ingredient potato leek soup

This soup is so fast and so easy that literally anyone can make it regardless of their culinary skills (or lack thereof). The soup is deceivingly creamy without the use of any dairy. Since there isn’t any dairy, it’s also a lower calorie soup while still being able to fill you up!

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Six Ingredient Potato Leek Soup
serves 2
Ingredients
2 Yukon gold potatoes
2 leeks
2 cups chicken broth
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil

1. Wash the leeks and potatoes well. Chop the potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes. Cut the leeks into 1/2 inch strips. Put both items into a pot with the chicken broth, salt and rosemary sprig. Cook while covered on medium for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, uncover and remove the rosemary. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for another 5 minutes.
2. Put the entire cooked mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. You can also use an immersion blender if you have one.
3. Pour the soup into two bowls and drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil over each bowl. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.

This recipe is perfect for a light summertime dinner! Enjoy!

Pan roasted chicken with apple cider vinaigrette

I made this recipe last night and it was ridiculously easy, the chicken was moist and the flavor was so unique! Plus, the sauce is based off of apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard so it’s low in calories too!

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Pan Roasted Chicken with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

serves 2
Total cook and prep time: 30 minutes

ingredients
2 chicken breasts, filleted and pounded
2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 apple, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons white wine (or champagne) vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey

1. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a pan at medium heat. Sprinkle the thyme and salt on both sides of the chicken breasts. Put the chicken breasts on the pan and cook both sides for 4-5 minutes per side.
2. Add the apples and onions and sauté around the chicken for 3-4 minutes.
3. Combine the rest of the ingredients (apple cider vinegar and down) in a bowl and whisk. Add this to the chicken, onion and apple mixture. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook for 10 more minutes. Turn the heat off and let the chicken steam in the covered pan for another 5-10 minutes.
4. Serve over a 1/2 cup of cooked wild rice.

I hope you enjoy the recipe! It was super easy to make and the flavors will impress everyone!
Plus, this recipe is bikini friendly for the summer time!