Getting Greek in Astoria – Greek Couscous Salad

It’s been quite a while since I posted a recipe.  I will confess that after the Whole30 ended I fell off the wagon for a while until I realized how miserable eating dairy, gluten, and (too much) sugar made me feel.  While I’m certainly not going back to any sort of restriction diet (<3 whole grain bread and jelly beans), I’m trying to my best to stick to food that don’t make me feel physically and mentally gross.

Another reason I derailed was due to the fact that my kitchen was out of use for a while.  Don’t worry, no pipe explosions or hostile take over by the water bugs – my kitchen was in boxes because we moved!  We said so long to the Brooklyn and hello to Queens.  It’s only been a week, but I have to say Astoria already feels like home.  Not only does the area feel like friends and family, we also happen to be walking to distance to friend and family!  With a new back yard, I’m looking forward to adding some grilling recipes to my repertoire.  Sadly, it’s still winter in the city so I’m still confined to my stove, but at least I’m back in the kitchen!

Last week I needed a side dish to go along with tilapia, so I decided to embrace our new greek neighbors and came up with a greek couscous salad.  I used large pearl couscous, also known as Israeli couscous, because I find it works better with the ingredients I used, plus I found a whole-grain version!  I used feta cheese sparingly – even though I try to limit dairy, it felt wrong not to include it.

I’m looking forward to exploring our new neighborhood and making more meals at home again, now that our kitchen is unpacked and ready to go.  Maybe I’ll venture into more mediterranean cooking.  Bring on the hummus and falafel!

Greek Couscous Salad

Yields 4 servings

1 cup uncooked whole-grain large pearl ( or Israeli) couscous

1 Tbs EVOO

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes

Large handful of fresh spinach, chopped

½ cup kalamata olives, chopped

¼ cup feta cheese chopped

Cook the couscous according to the package.  Chop tomatoes, spinach, olives, and feta – feel free to add more/less based on personal preference.  Let the couscous cool for a few minutes and then pour into a bowl.  Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined.  Enjoy!

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Whole30 Meal Prep & Plan Weeks 2-3

Working for a company owned by Norwegians has its benefits.  One of the big ones being their belief in paid time off and holiday observation.  Seeing as I had the day off, thanks to the wonderful memory Dr. King, I knew what I would be doing most of the day – meal prepping and planning!

I know I forgot to post my meal plan last week (my apologies), but work kicked into high gear so I found myself having less time to write than usual.  Here’s last week in a nutshell:

  • Chicken* with broccoli (recipe at the end of this post)
  • Turkey Meatloaf
  • Sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, and blueberries – not together, I was just in the mood for each of these things.
  • Pork chops with broccoli – the pork chops are seasoned the same way as the chicken and cooked in EVOO in a cast iron pan (5 minutes on each side on high heat)
  • Turkey meatballs with zoodles (recipe will make an appearance this week)
  • Lots of salads
  • Breakfast of champions: 2 hardboiled eggs, 1 banana, leftover sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts.

*this is usually dinner, but this week the chicken is being cooked as we speak for lunch time salads.  This is a VERY quick and easy thing to prep for the week and have in the fridge for lunch or dinner.

Saturday night we went out Hu Kitchen on 5th Ave by Union Square for dinner.  If you live anywhere near Manhattan, or come for visit, I HIGHLY recommend you check this place out.  It’s not a sit-down restaurant, it’s more cafeteria style with counters but there were plenty of places of to sit.  They even had a coffee bar that served organic wine, but sadly I could not partake.

I spent Sunday out and about in the city with my lovely lady friends, so by the time I got home I was not feeling the whole ‘try new recipe’ thing.  I picked up a turkey kielbasa and brussel sprouts (if you can’t tell, I really love brussel sprouts) and had that with some of the organic sauerkraut I had picked up at Whole Foods.  Quick, easy, and delicious.

For this week, breakfast and lunch will be looking pretty similar but dinner will be all new recipes!  Here’s what on deck:

  • Chicken curry with cauliflower rice
  • Chicken “cutlets” with lemon and capers, served with brussel sprouts
  • Pork chops with sweet potatoes and broccoli
  • Shepard’s pie

Make sure to check back throughout the week for the recipes!  Here’s my recipe for what I refer to as “everything chicken” as it’s good with everything!  These quantities will give you enough for a week’s worth of chicken, but feel free to change the numbers if you want more or less.

“Everything Chicken”

You’ll need:

  • 3lbs boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil or EVOO
  • 1 Tsp Adobo
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

What you do:

Heat up a frying pan with oil on medium heat and cut the chicken into bite site pieces.  Throw the chicken in the pan, toss with oil, and add the seasonings.  Cook chicken all the way through – about 8-10 minutes.  If you’re not sure, cut into one of the pieces – if it’s white and the juices run clear you’re good to go.  Serve with veggies, cauliflower rice, or on top of salad.

 

 

Whole30 Day 3 – All Salads All Day

This title may be misleading; I’m not having salad for every meal since I’m not a rabbit.  But I am going to talk about my favorite ways to prepare them! Photo cred to the Paleo Mama.

Meal plan for today:

  • Breakfast: Egg “muffin” & apple w/ almond butter
  • Lunch: Shredded chicken over spinach with walnuts and balsamic vinegar
  • Dinner: Shrimp over zoodles (i.e., zucchini noodles)

This morning I added an apple with almond butter for extra carbs, protein, and fat since I’m going to spin class during my lunch break.  I’m fortunate that I have a job that lets me take enough time to fit in a class, so I try to take advantage of it on days I don’t go to CrossFit.  I try to eat according to my workouts, so if I know I’m going to get my fitness on in the afternoon or after work, I’ll try to get in some extra nosh.  Conversely, if I’m taking a rest day I’ll usually go easy on the carbs since I won’t be burning them off at my usual rate.  Unless I see the train pull in when I walk into the station – then it’s an all out sprint and additional sustenance will be necessary.

For lunch today, I decided to make the same salad as yesterday since I loved it so much.  Even before the Whole30, I’ve always tried to have a salad for lunch.  I do my best to bring my own since salads run $10+ in my work neighborhood.  I usually assemble them in the morning before I head to the gym, but you can definitely prepare them the night before.  Just don’t add the dressing until you’re ready to eat it…unless you happen to have a mason jar.  That’s right, mason jars aren’t just for jamming or drinking out of in Brooklyn, they make excellent salad containers!  

Put your dressing on the bottom, then add the veggies and protein, and top it off with the lettuce.  Voila!  You have a portable, and spill proof, salad!  It’s also a great way to prep salad for the week, as long as you have the room in your fridge. I’m a big fan of using mason jars since I really hate getting to work and finding that salad dressing has leaked all over my bag. It’s almost as annoying as having a homeless man expose himself on my way to work.

I like to change up my salads because I typically get tired of eating the same thing day after day.  Salads are a great way to pack protein, veggies, and healthy fats into your midday meal time.  These salads can also make a great dinner if you’re trying to keep it light. I use a random assortment of the following ingredients, pick your favorites and give it a try!

Greens:

  • Arugula
  • Romaine
  • Spinach

Veggies & Such

  • Carrots
  • Red peppers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Roasted sweet potatoes
  • Kalamata olives

Protein

Nuts & Seeds

  • Walnuts
  • Pistachios
  • Sunflower seeds

Dressing

  • Olive oil with lemon juice
  • Straight up lemon juice
  • Balsamic Vinegar (you can cut it with olive oil if it’s too bitter)
  • Olive oil with salt & pepper

Normally I add dijon mustard to my dressings but unfortunately not this month since it’s not Whole30 approved.  Much to my dismay, dijon mustard has sugar in it.  I told you sugar was in everything!
Tonight I’ll be whipping up shrimp over zucchini noodles with my handy Vegetti (yes, the one ‘as seen on TV’), so make sure to check back tomorrow for the recipe!

Whole30 Day 1

Today is the first day of the Whole30!  Today’s meal plan consists of:

  • Breakfast: Egg “muffins”
  • Lunch: Salmon Salad
  • Dinner: Beef Stew

I spent the vast majority of yesterday in the kitchen, which is also my living room since I live in the city.  The apartment smelled amazinggggg.  My boyfriend/roommate was doing his meal prep as well so our tiny kitchen saw a lot of action.  We now have a very happy and very full fridge for the week.

I made egg “muffins” for the week as well as salmon and sweet potatoes for salads.  Yes, you can put sweet potatoes on salad and it is delicious!  The “muffins” are a great way to sneak veggies into your breakfast and I must say, I didn’t even notice that I was eating swiss chard this morning.  I was also starving after this morning’s workout, but I’m pretty sure I would have enjoyed them either way.

Our workout this morning was not so much exhausting as it was challenging.  I’m not say that it wasn’t exhausting, everyone collapsed when it was over, but I struggled more with trying not to scream than trying not to pass out.  One of the exercises we do fairly often in CrossFit is called Double Unders.  It’s basically extreme jump roping; you try to get the rope to pass under you twice, rather than once, in one jump.  It usually results in a lot of whip lash.  I’m usually pretty decent at them…except for today.  I had an unpleasant commute (thanks to the terrible parents of New York) so maybe it’s because I already frustrated, but for whatever reason I really struggled today.  After the workout was over I was so tired that I didn’t care anymore, but there was a good chunk of time where I wanted to throw my jump rope and yell i.e., have a temper tantrum.  Fortunately I did not do that, nor did I punch anyone on my way to my office, so I’m going to chalk that up as a little win for today.

One of the things I want to do along side my Whole30 is track what I like to call my “little wins”.  Little wins are time when I feel my emotions spiraling out of control but muster up the strength to keep it together.  Some are easier, like not screaming at a jump rope, while other are much harder, like trying not to have a panic attack on the train (that’s a big win).  I’m hoping that as I nurture my body with good food and exercise, the physical and mental benefits will lead to more little wins.

You can make your own egg “muffins” and salmon salads with the recipes below.  Feel free to post any questions in the comment section. I’ll be posting the beef stew recipe tomorrow so make sure to check it out!

Egg “muffins” (makes 8)

1 Tbs coconut oil (plus more for greasing the pan)

1 onion, chopped

1/2 turkey kielbasa, cut into bite size pieces

2 big handfuls of spinach

4 leaves of swiss chard

8 eggs

Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a muffin tin with coconut oil.  Melt the coconut oil and sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes.  Add the spinach, swiss chard, and turkey kielbasa.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper and cook until the veggies have been cooked down and the onions are golden, about 5-8 minutes.

Scoop the mixture into the muffin tins, I filled mine to the top.  Beat the eggs and fill each cup with egg (each cup takes about 1 egg).

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Salmon Salad

For the salmon:

1lb Wild Alaskan Salmon

1/3 cup EVOO

2 cloves of garlic, diced

1 Tbs fresh lemon juice (or half of a large lemon)

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place the salmon and all ingredients in a plastic bag or tupperware container (make sure the lid fits on tight!).  Shake it up and let marinate for 2-3 hours. If you’re short on time, I’ve made this recipe after only letting it marinate for half an hour and it still tasted great.

In a glass pan, place the salmon in tin foil and pour the remaining marinade over it before sealing.  Bake 35-45 minutes, until easily flaked with a fork.  Voila!  You have salmon for salads for the week OR a tasty dinner!

For the salad:

Arugula or romaine lettuce

Kalamata olives

Sweet potatoes*

Salmon

Fresh lemon juice

Place all ingredients in a bowl (up to you to decide your portions) or Tupperware and squeeze fresh lemon juice (this is your “dressing”).  Mix it up and enjoy!

*For the sweet potatoes – clean and chop a large sweet potato into bite size pieces.  Place in a baking dish and drizzle with EVOO. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes or until a fork can easily poke through.