Israeli Cous Cous Mediterranean Salad. PS, I leave for Europe in 9 days

In 9 days, I’ll be boarding a plane that will initially drop me off in Stockholm. From there I’ll go to 14 more countries/23 more cities in two months (!!!!!!!!). Trying to contain my excitement. This has been in the making since my trip to Europe last summer.

When I was there last summer, I studied abroad in Italy, learned how to make authentic Italian dishes from a little Italian lady and did some minor weekend traveling.

Last years trip to the Grana Padano Cheese factory, one of my cooking classes with my Italian instructor and the Olive Oil factory:

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That was enough to get me saving and planning for this trip I’m about to embark on. I won’t be doing as much cooking as I did my previous time (only a few simple dishes cooked in hostels), but I’ll be going to a ton more countries. My goal for this trip is to not only see new things, places and people, but also to taste new cuisines to inspire a few new dishes to add to my upcoming cookbook!

Once I get back, official recipe testing and cook book creating will be on the way! Lots of work to be done, so before the madness and as a graduation gift to myself… Europe it is.

Here’s probably the last recipe I’ll be posting in a while. But don’t worry! This isn’t the last for two months. I’ll be posting about my experience abroad, the food I eat and the workouts/hikes/classes I do.

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Israeli Cous Cous Mediterranean Salad

serves 2

Ingredients

1 pre-cooked chicken breast, torn into bite sized pieces

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/3 cup dry israeli cous cous

1/2 cucumber, chopped into bite sized pieces

1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half

1 green bell pepper, chopped into bite sized pieces

1/4 cup thinly chopped red onion

1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles

1 handful italian flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

7 large basil leaves, thinly sliced (julienned)

2 small garlic cloves, sliced

1 small chunk of either grana padano or parmigiano reggiano cheese (you’ll need a micro grater to grate this)

2 tablespoons pine nuts

salt

1. Make the Israeli cous cous. In a small pan, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil on medium heat. Add the Israeli Cous Cous and stir around, toasting the cous cous for about five minutes. Add 2/3 cup water, raise to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 5-6 minutes and then drain excess liquid. Put this to the side to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. Make the pesto. You can either use a mortar and pestle or a food processor. I think the pesto tastes 1000000x better when made with a mortar and pestle, but it’s up to you. Combine the pine nuts and garlic in the mortar. Crush until the ingredients almost form a paste. Add the olive oil and basil and crush/grind. This process takes a few minutes. Lastly, stir in about 2 tablespoons of micro grated parmigiano reggiano or grana padano cheese and a pinch of salt.

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3. In a large bowl, combine the cooked chicken, bell pepper, cucumber, parsley, tomatoes and onions. Pour the pesto on top and toss to combine. Separate the mixture into two bowls or plates and top with the israeli cous cous and goat cheese crumbles.

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Labor day plans? Here’s some tips for eating well on the go!

I’m in my last semester of college which means that this weekend is my last Vegas trip as a college student. I’ve been to Vegas and plenty of other mini vacations with frats and friends, and if you have ever been on one of these too… you understand just how difficult it is to eat well while booze cruising. It’s actually especially important to eat healthy the day after drinking a lot because your body goes into repair mode after all of the hurt that you put it through the previous night. If you don’t give it some healthy food to work with, you’ll fall weeks behind in your diet and training schedule and all that working out will be reversed in a matter of days.
Yeah, sounds sh*tty huh? I personally don’t like to keep starting from square one whenever I go on vacation, so I’ve developed some strategies for how to maintain a healthy diet while out drinking for a weekend with your friends. If the de-training doesn’t scare you, then at the very least these are awesome tips for not spending too much money going out to eat while on vacation.

The number one theme you’ll notice throughout these tips is be prepared. When you’re hungover, it’s going to take a lot of effort to just get out of bed, let alone go through the extra effort of finding healthy food. So you have to be prepared to make things as easy as possible for your little hungover future self.

Do this BEFORE you leave…
Buy breakfast and snack items
This is the easiest thing you can do. It’s easier to make healthier choices when you’re out to eat at dinner and lunch because for the most part you’re over your hangover and not craving crappy food anymore. But you MUST have breakfast and snack items that are healthy and readily available so that you don’t opt for that McDonalds Hashbrowns or McFlurry.
Here are some of my favorite items..
Breakfast:
Vigilant Eats Super Food Oat-Based Cereal

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*This is one that I always bring to Vegas. It’s under 400 calories, it fills you up until lunch AND it’s packed with organic, gluten free superfoods. Plus it requires cold water and it has it’s own spoon so that you don’t have to worry about bring your own spoon and heating up water! Plus it tastes great!

Snacks:
-Fruit. Preferably ones that aren’t easily squished.
*I mean apples, oranges and bananas. Don’t even try bringing pears, plums or kiwi. They will get squished and it will be gross and smelly.
-Hummus and baby carrots.
*Super easy. Just buy a pack of baby carrots and hummus and you’ve got yourself a protein and fiber packed snack on the go! You just may want to opt out of the garlic flavored hummus. You are on vacation after all and you won’t want to scare away the other people you’re with.
-Mixed nuts.
*Another great item. You just might want to pre-portion them out into baggies so you don’t go ham stuffing your face with cashews and almonds. Mixed nuts have a lot of great things in them, but you don’t want to accidentally eat 1000 calories of them in one sitting. It’s a lot easier to do than you think.
-Water.
*This is an easy one to forget about. However, you really can’t forget this one. Especially if you’re going to someplace like Vegas. I have one very terrible memory of being a freshman in college and going to Vegas for my first time without my parents. I woke up feeling so ill and dehydrated, like most people do in Vegas and went on a search for water. I didn’t have any cash and the vending machines weren’t accepting my card. It wasn’t until an hour later of excruciating hungover pain that I was finally able to obtain water. And it cost me $6 for a 16 oz bottle. Just bring water. Don’t make that mistake.

**Lastly, bring a cooler. It can either be a throw away plastic one or a legit nice cooler that you borrowed from your parents. Just don’t forget to bring a cooler.

Do this WHEN YOU ARRIVE
If you didn’t bring a cooler, then empty out a clean trash can and use that as one. It may seem gross, but just make sure to use it before anyone has vomited in it and you’ll be fine. If you were prepared enough to bring a cooler then good job-a gold star for you! Either way, fill your cooler/trash can up with ice from your hotels ice machine and put any perishable items and your waters into it. You’ll want cold water when you wake up the next morning with a throbbing head ache. It would be a shame if you went through all the effort of bringing food up if it just went bad by lunch time.

Now you’re all prepared for your holiday weekend. Go enjoy it with your friends and maybe even fit in a workout while you’re there!

Try my 22 minute full body workout that you can do anywhere without any equipment! You could even do it in your hotel room!

Have a fantastic labor day weekend everybody!