Meal Prep Can Save You!

You know that saying, "Failure to plan is planning to fail."? Yah, well as cheesy as it is, it is TRUE! Especially when you're trying to eat healthy and lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.  I've mentioned before that I've struggled with  my weight and I have my whole life. Starting in third grade I became the fat kid and the struggle continues! After having three children I have finally learned that I can never just eat whatever I want.  I just can't. I've decided to be okay with that.  Someone told me I should write some tips out to help other people, so that's what this post is all about. 

My normal is to eat as healthy as possible, lots of fresh veggies and fruit and tons of water throughout the week, along with a good hour-long cardio and weights session or class at least four times a week.  On the weekends I loosen up on my diet a little bit and give myself a meal or two off to eat the food that I love, but that I know isn't helping my waistline! (Pasta, pizza, burgers, etc.) I can't just take the whole weekend off and make it a hayday. Disappointing, but true. Honestly, when I have done that I just feel so terrible I can't enjoy it anyway.

Prepping my healthy food ahead of time helps so much. If I have to chop lettuce and wash it, dry it and chop all of my veggies just to make a salad at lunch time when I've worked out and am already hungry, it is really tempting to eat something else! (AKA leftover pizza from said weekend splurge.)

Every Monday morning I chop all of the veggies I plan to use in my egg whites for the week.  The photo above is a small yellow onion, a small head of broccoli, and a bunch of spinach.  I washed all of it and chopped it small to use in my eggs.  That way in the morning when we are rushing to get out the door and to school on time I am not tempted to eat carbs instead of egg whites, which I know will fill me up and keep me full.  (Some other veggies I like to use in my eggs are zucchini or yellow squash, bell pepper, asparagus,  mushrooms...)

At the beginning of the week I also make a big salad that I can eat off of for lunch.  If it's in the fridge then I'm prepared. If I know that I'm going to be running errands after bible study and won't make it home for lunch I can quickly pack myself a salad, some carrots, and hummus and I am not tempted to drive through fast food to eat something that I will really regret!  I have found that I do not make rational food decisions when I feel hungry. I'll also pack myself a snack like a Lara bar and an apple if I know that I'm going to run some errands after a workout.  Too many times I have spoiled the hard work I've done at the gym on popcorn at Target or a frappuccino because I'm so hungry I don't care!

A typical day of eating for me:
Breakfast: sauteed veggies with 4 egg whites and iced coffee with cream
Snack: apple, orange, Lara or Luna bar, EAS shake, or slice of turkey (it all depends on my activity)
Lunch: salad with grilled chicken and vinaigrette OR flat out wrap with veggies and turkey OR leftovers (depending on what we had for dinner the night before)
Snack: baby carrots, cucumber & bell pepper slices with hummus
Dinner: healthy homemade meal...the options here are endless!
Snack: I usually have something after dinner, fresh fruit or an apple with peanut butter are my "good choices".

With just a small amount of prep it takes almost no time to throw together a healthy, filling meal or snack when I am rushed.  Without the prep I find that I eat whatever I can get my hands on when I'm "starving" and then my skinny jeans pay the price!
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Simplify School Lunches

I don't know about you, but I'm so tired of packing school lunches.  Lunches Smunches.  So...I decided to streamline the lunch packing process for the rest of the school year. I WISH I would've done this in August.  This has changed our mornings so I thought I'd share it with you.

Chips: I'm just too frugal to buy those miniature bags of chips so I bought one big bag and separated them into snack size ziploc bags.  I got 20 small bags of chips out of the one big bag that I bought for $2 at the grocery store! I get super excited about savings, I'm a dork like that.  I don't like to pack junk in lunches because...well, I was a fat kid, and I don't want my kids to learn bad eating habits so the one "treat" my son gets in his lunch is 7 Cheetos puffs.  I'm okay with it.

Dairy: I usually pack either a cheese stick or a Greek yogurt tube in his lunch, which is super quick.  This week I put a couple of boxes of Chobani yogurt tubes in the freezer so in the morning I can just grab one and throw it in the lunchbox and it is mostly thawed by lunch.

Fruit/Veggie: I always pack either a fresh fruit or veggie.  Clementines are super simple to stick in the lunchbox and he can peel and eat those quickly at lunchtime.  Robbie doesn't like to have apples in his lunch because it takes too long to eat so I pack a clementine, pear, baby carrots, bell pepper strips or celery sticks.

Sandwich: Throughout the year I will try to be creative with his main lunch item.  Sometimes I'll make a burrito and put it in foil, put a hot dog or leftovers of some kind in the thermos, but I'm tired of the hectic mornings.  No more creativity, it's sandwiches from now on.  Last week I got two loaves of wheat bread and made one loaf of turkey and cheese and one loaf of peanut butter and jelly. I put them in ziploc bags, stacked them in the bread bag, and put them all in the freezer. In the morning I grab a sandwich out and it's thawed by lunch.

To make the turkey and cheese I laid out all of the bread. On one side I put a slice of cheese, turkey on the other and squeezed some mustard in the middle.  I put the mustard in the middle so the bread wouldn't get soggy. 

To make the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I spread a very thin layer of peanut butter on one side of the bread hoping that would keep the bread from getting soggy. Then I topped it with strawberry jam (that I made, yummy!) and on the other piece of bread I spread a thicker layer of peanut butter.

And that's it! Less than 45 minutes of prep work and I have 18 school lunches prepped and ready to go. In the morning it now takes me one minute to pack my son's lunch and move on with life!

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Green Chile Burger with Jalapeno Pesto Mayo

We love burgers.  Seriously.  Just search the burgers/sandwiches label and you will see...kinda obsessed.  Rob requested a burger of some sort this week and he is so laid back, if he ever requests anything I like to accommodate him!

We always like to try burgers with a spicy flair when we are out but both Rob and I don't like that it seems like most of the spicy burgers on menus out there include every. single. spicy. ingredient there is.  Why would we need jalapenos, pepper jack, salsa, chipotle mayo, and habanero sauce on a jalapeno kaiser roll ALL for one burger? OVERKILL. This burger has a great spicy/Mexican kick but not over the top. (In my most humble opinion on the subject.)

I roasted some fresh green chiles that I got in my basket to put in the burgers, but a can of chopped green chiles would work out just as well.  I would say the key to the deliciousness of this burger is the Jalapeno Pesto Mayo, so just bite the bullet and whip up a batch.  The rest of the pesto freezes great to use in a pasta or on a steak sandwich in the future.

Green Chile Burger with Jalapeno Pesto Mayo

2 lbs lean ground beef
3 small shallots, minced (about 2-3 Tb. minced)
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

2 tsp. sea salt
lots of black pepper
1/4 cup canned & drained green chiles,  OR 2-3 roasted green chiles, chopped

3 avocados
1/2 lime
salt & pepper

Jalapeno Pesto Mayo:
4 Tb. mayo
2 heaping  Tb. Jalapeno Pesto (or more depending on how you like it)

For Serving:
provolone cheese slices
sliced tomatoes
rolls or sourdough slices

In a large mixing bowl combine ground beef, shallots, garlic, green chiles, salt and pepper.  Form into 6 patties.  Refrigerate until you're ready to grill.  Smash the avocado and squeeze half the lime over it and sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Stir to combine and refrigerate until serving.  For the Jalapeno Pesto Mayo mix together mayo and pesto and set aside.  Heat the grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.  Grill on each side 3-4 minutes, topping with cheese slices a minute before you remove the burgers from the grill.  To assemble the burgers put tomato slices on the bottom bun, if desired, top with burgers, avocado mixture and jalapeno pesto mayo.  Enjoy!

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Buffalo Cauliflower

I know this is a strange idea...but it works!  This winter we got into a bad habit of getting pizza and wings...almost every Friday and it HAD to stop!  I found this recipe on Pinterest and loved that it was a lighter dish and also vegan. We loved this, it is a perfect accompaniment to homemade pizza night.  This is a little more intense as far as prep, but it comes together pretty quickly and it is worth it!  I love that the coating is more of a batter and reminds me of the breading on fried mushrooms.

Buffalo Cauliflower
recipe barely modified from The Curvy Carrot

1 medium head cauliflower, rinsed
1 c. milk of your choice
1 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. vinegar
2 tsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 c. buffalo sauce
Blue Cheese or Ranch dressing for serving (make your own!)

Preheat the oven to 450. Line a cookie sheet with foil and lay a wire rack over it.  I use a wire cooling rack. (You can grease the cookie sheet generously and lay the battered cauliflower directly on the sheet but it tends to stick.) Chop the cauliflower into chunks.  In a medium bowl whisk together the milk, flour, vinegar, garlic and sea salt.  Gently toss or dip the cauliflower chunks into the batter and transfer to the wire rack or greased cookie sheet.  Bake 15-18 minutes, until just starting to brown and crisp.  Remove from the oven and toss with the bufffalo sauce, returning to the foil lined cookie sheet. (No need to use the rack this time.) Bake another 5-8 minutes. Serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing.

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Triple Chocolate Blondies

I'm in a blogging lull.  I'm cooking.  We're eating.  I'm even taking photos of some of my food, I am just not getting from the camera to the computer to the editing to the blogging.  Forgive me if you've been waiting for my next post!  Every day I say "I've got to blog today!" and then laundry, bible study, preschool, volunteering, baseball...and so many other things happen and I don't get to it! Turning over a new leaf today!  

It's hard, if not impossible, to go wrong with an Our Best Bites Recipe. This is no exception, these blondies are yummy!  I am not a big baker.  I don't enjoy it, although I certainly do enjoy eating baked goods so it's probably a good thing that I don't bake my own very often.  My husband loves butterscotch anything so when I saw this recipe I made it right away. The original recipe calls for white chocolate chips, chocolate chips and butterscotch or peanut butter chips.  I just used chocolate and butterscotch chips and drizzled the top with white chocolate so it's still triple chocolate blondies!  When you make them, use any combination of chocolate chips that you like.

Triple Chocolate Blondies
recipe adapted from Our Best Bites

2 sticks butter
2 cups light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 cups chocolate, butterscotch, white chocolate or peanut butter chips in any combination.  (I used 1 c. chocolate and 1 c. butterscotch chips)
2 cubes vanilla almond bark or 2/3 c. white chocolate candy melts or 1/3 c. white chocolate chips
1-2 tsp vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 and spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.

Melt the butter and combine in a mixing bowl with the brown sugar.  Add the vanilla and eggs and beat with a hand mixer until creamed together.  Add in the flour and mix on medium speed until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips and spread the batter in the pan.  Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  Once cool melt your white chocolate (bark, candy melts or chips) in the microwave according to package directions.  Stir in the vegetable oil and carefully pour the melted chocolate into a ziploc bag.  Snip the tip off of the bag and drizzle the bars with chocolate.  Allow the chocolate to cool and harden before cutting into bars.  
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