Grilled Shrimp Salad

I’ve been abusing my grill.
DSCN2869And I just can’t help myself. I love going to the grocery store and finding new/different things I can sizzle on the grill. I got to a point where I thought I could grill anything, but that’s definitely not the case. I’ve been on a grilled salmon kick so I decided to go out of my comfort zone and grill some shrimp. I stopped by Plum Market yesterday in Old Town, which JUST opened. Obviously when a new grocery store opens I have to shop there immediately. Anyways, they had pre made shrimp skewers at the fish counter, so I got one with a garlic marinade and the other with a blackened spice rub. YUM!

During the week I like to use as many short cuts as possible to save me time in the kitchen. Taking advantage of pre made items always helps which is why I also stopped by the salad bar and got some cooked quinoa. When I got home all I needed to do was throw the shrimp and veggies on the grill and assemble the salad. This took me no longer than 20 minutes to make.

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Grilled Shrimp Salad with Quinoa

for the salad:

  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1 cup sliced pepeprs
  • 1/2 cup sliced onions
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 10 shrimp, threaded onto skewers (5 shrimp per skewer)

for the dressing: 

  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon digon mustard
  • juice of 1 lemon, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Preheat grill to high heat, I use a gas grill but a grill pan works just as well. Coat grill rack with cooking spray. Grill shrimp 2 minutes on each side or until they are light pink in color. Remove shrimp from grill, set aside.

Coat peppers and onions with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt, & pepper. Place in a grill basket and grill until tender and lightly brown, about 8-10 minutes. If you don’t own a grill basket you can wrap the veggies in a foil pack and place on the grill.

Assemble the salad in layers starting with the arugula, then the quinoa, peppers & onions, and the shrimp last. You can remove the shrimp from the skewers if you would like, but I think it looks prettier to keep them on it. Optional: garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

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Arugula, Apple & Avocado Salad

aaa salad I like to call it triple A salad, it’s more fun that way. This was created on a whim when I was making dinner and needed something green. I turned to google and searched for arugula salad and found this recipe. I didin’t follow the recipe exactly, I just threw the ingredients in a bowl and hoped for the best. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m lazy or confident but I kind of find it fun. Does anyone else do that?

Arugula, Apple, & Avocado Salad

makes 2 generous servings

for the dressing: 
1 tablespoon honey mustard
juice of 1 lemon, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil

for the salad:
1 apple, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
5 oz. arugula
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds

In a small bowl, whisk together honey mustard, lemon juice, olive oil. Chop apples and squeeze a small amount of lemon juice on top and toss to prevent discoloration. In a large bowl, add the arugula, avocado, apples, sunflower seeds, and pour dressing on top. Season with salt & pepper.

DSCN2862 This light, summer salad is simple to make and uses ingredients that your probably already have on hand. It’s sweet, spicy, and crunchy which makes this salad a new favorite of mine. I also felt really cool making my own dressing- which I never really do!

 

Sauteed Snow Peas

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Snow peas are a delicious and easy vegetable to prepare. When I’m sick of typical green veggies (broccoli, asparagus, spinach, ect) I go for either snow peas or sugar snap peas. They are kind of sweet and adapt to any flavor you add to them. All I did was saute and add a little soy sauce.

DSCN2822Sauteed Snow Peas 

ingredients:

  • 1 package of snow peas (pre washed)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

directions:

Heat olive oil in a wok or non-stick skillet on medium to high heat. Add the snow peas, salt, and pepper. Saute for about 4-5 minutes until the snow peas are crisp and tender. You don’t want to over cook them or they will start to open up and get soggy.

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There you go! A simple side dish perfect for any occasion. This also makes great leftovers. I like to put them on my salads or add them to stir fry the next day.

Garlic Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts

I am the worst blogger ever and I’m sorry. I could give you all the excuses in the book how work is hectic, I was out of town, I’m stressed, I’ve had no sleep, I was partying for St Patty’s day, etc. To be honest, I just haven’t allocated my time to writing as much as I used to and that is something I am working on! My big boy camera is also out of battery so I used my iPhone to take these pictures.

J and I had something similar to this when we were in Scottsdale. I knew I had to make it at some point when we got home. J doesn’t even like cauliflower and loved this! The pine nuts make this dish, they add some extra flavor and crunch.

Garlic Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts

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ingredients:

directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the cauliflower florets on a large roasting baking sheet lined. Drizzle the olive oil over the cauliflower, and season with salt and pepper. Combine so the olive oil, salt, and pepper evenly coat the florets. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

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Place pine nuts in a dry saute pan and toast for 10-15 minutes on medium to low heat. Shake the saute pan frequently to ensure even browning.

Sprinkle over roasted cauliflower and enjoy!

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 I put the leftovers in my salad that I’m having for lunch today… YUM!

Getting Back on Track

So it’s a new year, new beginnings, new goals. After stuffing my face during vacation, I am completely aware that I need to get back on track. I’m so sick of eating out- so, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking for myself and J and I already feel so much better! I also like to know whats in my food and how it’s made. Even if I tell the waitress at a restaurant to cook my omelet in pam who knows if that actually happens! Below I put together some meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks that are easy to make and perfect for during the work week.

Breakfast:

  • Overnight Oats
  • 1 whole grain cinnamon rasin english muffin with 1 tbsp of jam
  • 1 packet of instant oatmeal (I like to keep a box at my desk)
  • 2 whole grain kashi waffles with 1 tbsp of jam/spray butter/light syrup

Lunch:

This is the hardest meal for me, I have no clue why. I am so indecisive about what I want that it’s always a problem. Although I mention my restaurant go-to’s I’ve found that I’ve maintained my weight by bringing my own lunch.  

  • Turkey sandwich in a wrap/sandwich thin/light whole grain bread. Avoid cheese and mayo and use mustard instead. I like to bring my own and purchase turkey from the market. If I’m eating out I make sure to eat my sandwich open face- always! 
  • Soup– I love picking up vegetable from Au Bon Pan. They have 12 different kinds of soups and you can see the calorie content for all of them. I am not a fan of canned soup, I find it to be disgusting.
  • Chili– I just made a batch of Taco Chicken Chili. I stored the leftovers in portioned tupperware containers and bring it for lunch. Watch out for toppings such as cheese and sour cream, those add up!
  • Salad– I find salad to be the biggest pain the in butt to make at home. I love the Whole Foods salad bar. I create monster salads with tons of veggies. I’ve been enjoying Trader Joe’s kale salad, I feel so healthy when I eat it for lunch.I also like salads from Protein Bar too, the southwest salad is my favorite. Always order dressing on the side and stay away from creamy dressings which are a ton of calories.

Dinner:

  • Salad– see above
  • FishSalmon, Whitefish, Tilapia are my favorite fish to cook during the week.
  • Sushi– J and I order in sushi at least once a week. Stick with the rolls without tempura crunch, cream cheese, mayo, or sauce. Those all add extra calories. I also love go mai (boiled spinach with peanut sauce).

Snacks:

  • Mojo bars or Kind bars
  • Clementines (in season!)
  • Apple with 1 tbsp of almond butter
  • Pop Chips

Tips:

  • Always measure your portions. If you don’t have measuring tools handy, make your best guess. Items like peanut butter add up.
  • Do NOT starve yourself. This will lead to a binge later which will just upset you even more.
  • Wear a pair of pants that are a little snug on you- this will be a constant reminder to eat healthy.
  • To stop yourself from late night eating: paint your nails. You can’t stick your hand in a bag of chips with wet nails!
  • I have found that drinking green juice such as BluePrint’s Green Juice (kale, apple, ginger, romaine, spinach, cucumber, celery, parsley, and lemon) reduces my cravings. It’s sold at Whole Foods now!

Let me know if you have any questions about any of the meals/snacks/tips above. Hopefully this gives you some new ideas to help you get back on track this year.

 

Cinnamon Sugar Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I absolutely love that Trader Joe’s has pre cut, peeled, and washed veggies. It is the best time saver ever, especially since sweet potatoes are a pain to prepare.

J was so nice to take me to the grocery store so I told him to pick out whatever vegetable he wanted for dinner. Sweet potatoes are his favorite! They also have pre cut butternut squash as well. I was all out of brown sugar so I used raw sugar instead. I used just enough to sweeten them up to help bring out their natural flavors.

Cinnamon Sugar Roasted Sweet Potatoes

 ingredients:

  • 1 bag of Trader Joe’s pre cut sweet potatoes OR 3-4 sweet potatoes peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp raw sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

directions:

Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil, spray with non stick cooking spray. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar, and cinnamon. With clean hands, toss all ingredients together so the potatoes are fully coated.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes flipping them half way.

I love roasting vegetables so they caramelize and all of the natural flavors come out of them. They are fantastic when they are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

Feel free to  modify this recipe, this would be great with a little pumpkin pie spice!

Grilled Eggplant Parmesan

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I am beyond excited for lollapalooza… 4 more days and counting! I made this recipe last week and it turned out amazing. This is my summer take on a healthy eggplant parmesan.

I make sure the eggplant is grilled to perfection, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I love the smokey flavor from the grill, it gives eggplant parm a whole new vibe.

Grilled Eggplant Parmesan

ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1/2 cup of jarred tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
directions: 
Wash and cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch pieces.
Brush each each eggplant slice with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on the grill for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. I like it when you can see the grill marks.  😆

Top grilled eggplant with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese. Feel free to use any cheese you like, I used only parmesan for less calories.

I prefer to keep this recipe simple but feel free to make it your way.

Have a great day!

Roasted Potatoes In a Foil Pack

I’m pretty impressed with myself…

However, I can’t take credit for this idea- my friend Lauren made these potatoes for my BBQ last week and I absolutely loved the idea… roasted potatoes on the grill??? How fancy! At this point, I’m so madly in love with my grill I’ll just about grill anything.

Roasted Potatoes In a Foil Pack

ingredients:

  • 1 small onion thinly sliced
  • 3 small bags of baby red potatoes (or 4 medium), cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup of EVOO
  • 1 tbsp of seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • 1 tsp of crushed garlic

directions: 

Rinse the potatoes in cold water. Chop the potatoes into bite sized pieces and place in a bowl. Add the sliced onions, olive oil, seasoned salt, pepper, and garlic. Mix well with your hands until all of the ingredients are incorporated. FYI: I like my potatoes well seasoned so you may want to use less seasoned salt.

Place a medium sized amount of the potato mixture in the center of a large sheet of non-stick foil. Bring the foil up to the sides, double fold the top ends creating a large foil packet. Make sure to leave room for heat and circulation inside.

Place foil packets on the grill for 30-35 minutes until the potatoes are crispy. Check to make sure they are at your desired crispiness by carefully opening each packet with a fork.

If you season them well enough they are so good you don’t even need ketchup. I brought the leftovers to work today- I hope they are a hit!

Have a great day!

My First Summer BBQ & Easy Entertaining Tips

Last night I hosted my first BBQ this summer! It was so much fun to have my friends over and grill on my balcony. The way I entertain is to have food out and ready for my guests. I like it when they walk in the door and food is waiting for them. I also like to serve a variety of options especially since so many people have dietary restrictions. I can’t wait to have my friends over to BBQ again!

Appetizers:

Shrimp cocktail

chips & guac

hummus & pita chips

pigs in a blanket

For appetizers I like to have a variety of finger foods. I’m a big fan of dips and if you want something healthy make sure you have veggies for dipping.

I highly recommend buying at least one appetizer from Trader Joe’s. They always have something that my guests will enjoy. My rule is that at least one item must be homemade- who wants to eat all store bought appetizers!?

Main Course:

Turkey Burgers

Salmon

My main course is typically a protein of some sort. I ALWAYS get my meat from Whole Foods. Typically I choose what is the freshest or what’s on sale. I like to keep my main courses as simple as possible but with some thought involved. Since I made turkey burgers I made sure to have toppings (lettuce, tomato, & onion) along with a hot toasted bun. Since I don’t eat poultry I also made grilled salmon with a miso glaze.

Sides:

Salad (romaine, corn, pistachios, and dried cranberries)

Cornbread Casserole

Cole Slaw

Roasted Potatoes

Pasta Salad

Grilled Veggies

This is the best part of the entire dinner! My friends are incredible chefs and brought the side dishes below. I like to have at least one type of vegetable, a mixed green salad, a variety of starches (pasta salad & potatoes), and other delicious dishes that can please any crowd.

I absolutely LOVE entertaining and having my friends over for dinner. A lot of people tell me how they can’t cook or they don’t know how to entertain. The hardest part is balancing your time in the kitchen and entertaining your guests. Although it can be a lot of work, I have some tips to make entertaining easy and seamless.

Organize: If you need to search for recipes, do that a few days in advanced. Then make a grocery list of everything you need. That way your not running around trying to find everything last minute.

Prep ahead of time: If there are certain dishes you can make ahead, I highly recommend you do so. You can even make some of your dishes a week in advance and freeze them. For example, lasagna is a great dish to make in advance and freeze. If you are serving appetizers, make sure they are out and ready before your guests arrive- one less thing you have to do after they get there.

Use Shortcuts: Buy your veggies already cut up (it’s more expensive but a HUGE time saver). If you’re baking use boxed cake mix and add other ingredients to make it taste homemade. Choose recipes where you only need to assemble the ingredients for example hummus dip, six layer greek dip, or chili cheese dip.

Clean as you go: This is also a big time saver. When you notice the dishes piling in the sink, throw them in the dishwasher to prevent a giant mess.

 The key with entertaining is to have fun and enjoy yourself. Try not to stress yourself out. If it’s your first time entertaining, your friends will understand if things aren’t perfect. If all else fails, order in some pizzas… at least you tried and you guests will appreciate the effort!

 

Great Vegetarian Lunch Idea

As I wrote about in previous posts, I’ve been having trouble finding lunch options due to my pickyiness. My friends inspired me to create the above Mediterranean veggie pita. Here’s what’s in it…

  • 1 whole wheat 100 calorie pita (from Trader Joe’s)
  • Fire roasted red peppers
  • Arugala
  • Feta
  • Hummus
  • Sliced red onions
  • Garbanzo beans

I pretty much find anything I have in my fridge and stuff it into a pita. There is some prep involved but nothing I would consider a hassle. Below are other ideas for a veggie sandwich/pita/wrap.

Carbs:

  • 100 who wheat pita
  • whole wheat tortilla
  • whole grain/9 grain bread (toasted)
  • lettuce leaves- if you’re not doing carbs

Veggies:

  • spinach
  • olives
  • sprouts
  • any leftover roasted or grilled veggie (mushroom, asparagus, zucchini, etc.)
  • avocado
  • tomato

Extras:

  • cheese (low fat)
  • hummus
  • greek yogurt
  • lemon juice & olive oil
  • seasonings
  • falafel
  • tofu or setan
  • Trader Joe’s meatless meatballs

 You can make this sandwich/pita/wrap be anything you want it to be. I love Mediterranean flavors so I created my pita based on what I was in the mood for. It’s great to get creative and look forward to a good, hearty, and healthy lunch during the workday.

You’re probably wondering who the winner is of my greek fro-yo giveaway

Congrats to Olga N!

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway, there will be more to come so stay tuned!

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