New Parent Meal Prep

Before my mom leaves on Saturday she is going to help stock our “new parents” outdoor freezer by prepping a few meals and batches of healthy muffins that will be simple to heat and serve for lunches and dinners. These, combined with the meals and/or healthy groceries my friends have signed up to deliver through August, will make avoiding takeout that much easier.

On Wednesday she started with Mini Vegetable Lasagnas (made in muffin tins) from Oh My Veggies. I cannot get over how cool it is that these call for wonton wrappers as the noodles. Who knew?! She made them while I was with Rylan at a lactation consultant appointment (all is generally good) and said the sample she tried was delicious. Sadly, Kona also wanted to sample some so we lost one to the hungry pup.

I can’t wait to pair one or two of these with a crisp salad and steamed veggies. We are going to be eating well! You can find the full recipe here and I will continue to post other maternity leave freezer meals as we complete them.

Grilled Tofu and Pineapple with Coconut Quinoa

The time lapse since my last recipe post essentially correlates to the last time I cooked us a decent dinner. We haven’t been existing on cereal or PB&J sandwiches alone, but it hasn’t been gourmet by any means. Our kitchen is so hot right now. I get in and get out as quickly as possible.

And let’s be honest. I’m no longer that motivated to cook since eating has been a chore since about 32 weeks.

But with only two weeks left until my induction, I got a sudden wave of motivation to try something new while simultaneously making sure that I am packing in as much protein as possible for Sprout’s last weeks of development. The following meatless Monday dinner was inspired by a tofu recipe on Edible Perspective.

  • Extra Firm Tofu – I pressed an extra firm block early in the morning and then marinated it in store-bought teriyaki sauce all day in the fridge
  • Pineapple – I used canned pineapple rings
  • Quinoa – I used 1/2 cup of lite coconut milk in lieu of a full cup of water

To “grill” the tofu and pineapple I greased the grill side of a cast iron griddle and heated it up across two burners. The tofu and pineapple grilled up quickly, probably about three minutes a side. The 1/2 cup of coconut milk in the quinoa added a decadent and silky texture, a perfect compliment to the tofu and pineapple. We ate everything with a small salad and steamed green beans for the ultimate meatless Monday meal.

If you are afraid of cooking with tofu keep trying and remember to give yourself at least 30 minutes for pressing all of the water out. It makes a tremendous difference with the texture. Enjoy!

Quinoa with Roasted Peppers and Feta

Quinoa is “the perfect protein” according to many pregnancy magazines so I have been trying to eat it regularly. Just like tofu it’s pretty much a blank slate for recipes and a combination of flavors. And idiot-proof to make — my favorite.

Credit: Lemonsforlulu.com

The recipe, via Lemons for LuLu, could not have been simpler. I made it Sunday for a few friends we had over for a BBQ. Pescatarians and meat eaters alike would have gone back for seconds had I made a double batch. I’m not entirely sure if feta is or is not on the pregnancy “do not eat that cheese list” but the packaging said pasteurized and at some point it just gets too hard to keep track. If feta is on the naughty list I likely only had a few bites. Don’t send the soft cheese police after me please.

Additional quinoa recipes I’d like to try soon:

Three cheers for the perfect little protein!

Teriyaki Tofu with Vegetables and Soba Noodles

Where is time going? I keep meaning to blog, and then another week passes. I blinked and April had arrived. On the “coming soon” pregnancy front everything is going great. I am rounding out week 23 and have my 24 week appointment on Wednesday. Most days I feel a ton of movement and we are to the point that others can feel (and see) sprout move too. Sprout especially likes to put on a show mid-day when I am trying to concentrate at work, and at night when I am finally ready for bed. But I don’t mind. I still get giddy with every kick and nudge.

Since I am still feeling so good I have thankfully been able to maintain a normal fitness routine, taking spin, yoga sculpt, kettle bells and barre four to five days a week–modifying certain moves as needed. I of course know to be careful and listen to my body, but my mindset would be so different if I was forced to give up my classes. Those classes are my escape. My stress relief and a time to treat myself, and sprout, right.

On the eating and cravings front my weight gain has been steady. Mike has even stopped pestering me about weekly weigh-in’s to check my status. Hooray! My sweet tooth is the craving I give in to the most, so for our main meals I’ve been trying really hard to eat as clean and healthfully as possible. Hence the recipe below from the cookbook Crazy Sexy Kitchen. Kris Carr is the inspiring author.

I received this cookbook for Christmas and soon read the entire opening, which provides pages and pages of education about a plant-empowered diet/lifestyle. But all of the recipes seemed a little daunting so I put it away while we were in Breckenridge most weekends.  This weekend I finally found myself with – gasp – no plans other than a deep clean of the house. So I chose two recipes to try and shopped on Saturday instead of Sunday.

DISCLAIMER: This recipe is not for the post-work cook. The steps themselves are simple but everything takes a LONG time, so I suggest giving this a try over the weekend for dinner or in our case, lunches to start the week out right.

Teriyaki Tofu with Vegetables and Soba Noodles – Ingredients 

Teriyaki Marinade

  • 5 tablespoons tamari
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 6 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
  • 5 gloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced ginger (I used the pre-minced in a jar to save some time)

Basic Ingredients

  • 14 oz package of extra-firm tofu, pressed and sliced into 6 slabs
  • 1 pkg soba noodles

Sesame Sake Reduction

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup sake or cheap cooking wine (I ended up using Sherry)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot (I substituted cornstarch) made into a slurry by mixing with 1/4 cup cold water

Veggie Mix

  • 2 cups mushrooms (The recipe called for chanterelle or other wild mushrooms but I just got a carton of the basic ones at the store)
  • 1/2 cup canned sliced water chestnuts
  • 1 cup julienned snow peas
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
  • One julienned red pepper (My addition, not in the recipe)

Step 1: Prepare the teriyaki marinade by combining tamari, sesame oil, pineapple juice, rice vinegar, agave and ginger in a bowl and whisk everything well. Set aside 2/3 cup for the Sesame Sake reduction.

Step 2: Place the tofu slices in a shallow pan and cover in the remaining marinade. I let them marinade for two hours in the fridge, flipping once.

Step 3: Since the meal was being prepped for the next day I cooked the soba noodles during this “down time” according to the package directions and put them in the fridge once drained.

Step 4: Heat the oven to 325° once the tofu is almost done marinading. Place the tofu on a rimmed baking sheet (sprayed with cooking spray) and pour the marinade leftovers onto the tofu. Bake for an hour, flipping about halfway. Remove from the oven.

Step 5: When the tofu has about 20 minutes left, in a small saucepan whisk the reserved Teriyaki Marinade, orange juice and sake (or sake substitute) together on medium-high heat. It should start to reduce. I let it cook about for 20 minutes. Then remove it from the heat and whisk in the arrowroot (or cornstarch) slurry. The mixture should thicken up slightly.

Step 6: In a large wok heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil then add the mushrooms, water chestnuts, snow peas and any other veggies you prepped (in our case, a red bell pepper). Stir continuously for a few minutes then add the soba noodles and ladle in a few spoonfuls of the sake reduction. Add the chopped basil and use tongs to toss everything well. Remove from heat.

Step 7: In another small saute pan on medium heat place the tofu slices at the bottom and ladle in a few spoonfuls of the sake reduction until it thickens. Keep adding a few more spoonfuls as everything is absorbed/thickens. I still had a little of the sake reduction left over so I poured the rest over the noodles in the wok.

Take a HUGE swig of wine (or sadly in my case, water) and leap for joy. You made it. Either plate in bowls or separate into Tupperware for yummy, healthy lunches. The cookbook recipe calls for garnishes of green onions, more chopped basil and sliced red chile…but I had nothing left to give in the kitchen by this point (I prepped this while cleaning our house. Perhaps that was a bit aggressive).

From-scratch vegetarian cooking can be simple, or it can be really time consuming. That’s because in many cases there are a lot of steps to making the protein replacement (e.g., tofu or tempeh) take on notable flavor. While I have the time (i.e., no newborn to feed every 2 hours) it’s worth the extra effort to go the extra mile for our meals. Well, some days it is. Did I mention how exhausted I am from this “relaxing” Sunday with no plans?

Pinterest Recipe Review: Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry

My slow cooker has been getting a serious workout lately. It really makes life easier with the hubby working on the basement until 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. every night and me being utterly exhausted after work + the gym.

The second Pinterest slow cooker recipe find that I tried this week is a vegetable curry from Better Homes & Gardens. I loved that I already had all the spices on hand and that the ingredients list wasn’t totally overwhelming. I doubled the amount of green beans it called for and might do the same with the tomatoes and possibly the vegetable broth in the future. I prefer my slow cooker meals to have a lot of residual juice and sauce. Pair the curry with quinoa and you have a protein powerhouse thanks to the chickpeas in the mixture.

Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry recipe from Better Homes & Gardens. Enjoy!

If you want to take a look at what other recipes have my mouth watering on Pinterest, please follow my “Have Kitchen Will Cook” board.

Pinterest Recipe Review: Slow Cooker Pesto Lasagna

 

This past weekend I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. So while taking breaks from my ridiculous Downton Abbey marathon (I’m officially hooked and chomping at the bit to watch season three) I decided to try two recipes from my “Have Kitchen Will Cook” Pinterest board.

First up, a Slow Cooker Pesto Lasagna with Spinach and Mushrooms recipe from Cooking Light. I have never made a lasagna from scratch so this seemed like an easy entry point. While it doesn’t compare to my mom’s lasagna, it was hearty and full of flavor. I doubled the amount of spinach used (a powerhouse pregnancy food) and added red chili flakes to the jarred sauce. In general I think it could have used even more sauce but that was easy to add when reheating leftovers.

If you are low on time or are scared (like me) of making lasagna completely from scratch, bookmark this recipe and give it a try. I don’t think you’ll regret it!

Quinoa and Chocolate Chip Protein Bites

I often worry that I am not getting enough protein given my gym routine and lack of meat in my diet. I do still eat fish and semi-regularly incorporate tofu and tempeh into my meals, but it likely isn’t enough. So when I pinned a recipe for Quinoa Protein Bites recently, it wasn’t long until I was at the store gathering the missing ingredients.

Protein powder, quinoa and flax combine with peanut butter and chocolate chips for a sweet treat.

Disclaimer. The bites are much yummier than they appear in this crappy phone picture. However, the texture is super tricky to get right. First I froze them and they were rock hard. So I let them thaw a bit and they fell apart into a goopy mess in my hand. So I decided to toss them back in the freezer and just wait a few minutes or microwave them for about five seconds before eating.

Mike looked at me like I was trying to poison him when I handed him a goopy version but quickly agreed the taste was stellar. Kind of like an uber healthy peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie.

If you want a quick bite of something sweet that also packs important nutrients, give these a try. Don’t be afraid to stir in some ground flax, nuts or chia seeds as well! Hope to hear from you if you try these at home.

Link: Quinoa Protein Bites recipe by Shawn Can Blog.

 

Decadent Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet cake “filled” with cheesecake pudding and topped with Cool Whip and Oreos. This isn’t something I make everyday. In fact, I rarely bake because I refuse to have such temptations in our house. But this past weekend we hosted friends in Breckenridge and I felt the need to serve something sweet and special.

I turned to my “Have Kitchen, Will Cook” Pinterest board to choose a recipe, and Red Velvet Poke Cake via The Country Cook practically jumped out of my screen. Semi-homemade baking appeals to me and this could not have been any easier. It was devoured by everyone in mere moments of it hitting dessert plates.

Recipe via The Country Cook.

Treat yourself and tell me what you think! Just sign up for a few extra gym classes first!

Overnight Crockpot Oatmeal

 

Mother Thyme, I love you. I don’t know you but I love you for inspiring me to finally try my hand at overnight oatmeal. Our kitchen smelled delicious in the morning and I can only imagine how incredible this trick is for busy parents trying to get an entire family out the door without succumbing to Pop Tarts. While it’s just Mike and me, my love affair with the snooze button can make having a wholesome breakfast tricky some days.

If you are an oatmeal purist who is concerned about the soggy factor, don’t be. Perhaps you think this recipe may be too sweet? Trust me, it’s not. I chose a quick reheat method of one minute and 15 seconds in the microwave, then topped with fresh blueberries and a splash of skim milk. I wasn’t hungry until lunchtime! One other note, I also added ground flaxseed to the ingredients list.

Recipe by Mother Thyme. Thank me (well, mainly her) tomorrow morning.

 

Penne Rosa with Shrimp

 

I am extremely grateful to my colleague who shared this delectable and healthier Penne Rosa with Shrimp recipe with me last week. The recipe is via BacktoherRoots.com. She, like myself, loves Noodles & Company but is also wary of the nutritionals on many of their dishes. Substituting nonfat Greek yogurt for heavy cream instantly lightens and de-guilts this dish. I ended up adding more spinach at the end because I absolutely love spinach but overall this recipe is a breeze to follow start to finish. I also only had gluten free penne on hand and it fell apart toward the end. True whole wheat penne would be preferred.

Enjoy!

 

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