{Vegan} Orange Ginger Asian Quinoa Salad

This is my favorite time of the year. Summer has arrived but it’s not quite in full swing yet so the air is warm, but not yet humid. The evenings and nights get nice and cool but you can still sleep with the windows open. If ever there was a perfect time to live in Wisconsin, it is now!

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This surge of warm weather and endless sunlight always gets me craving big bowls of fresh veggies for lunch. If you feel like you’re in a lunch rut or you’re sick of your usual salad routine, this quinoa salad is for you!

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You can make a big batch that will last all week, and like a fine wine it only get better with time. You could easily switch out the quinoa for pasta in this recipe too.

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Fresh squeezed orange juice sets this dressing apart from all others. Fresh ginger and garlic along with rice vinegar and soy sauce give it that classic Asian flavor that you’re looking for, but the orange zest is what really gives it a big burst of freshness.

{Vegan} Orange Ginger Asian Quinoa Salad

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 1 cup frozen shelled edamame, cooked and cooled
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • optional: sesame seeds for garnish

For the dressing:

  • zest of half an orange
  • juice of one orange
  • 1/2 inch cube ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons agave nectar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

In a small saucepan combine quinoa, water and sesame oil. Bring to a boil, cover and turn heat to low. Simmer on low for 12-15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Season with salt and pepper, fluff with a fork and place in fridge to cool.

Combine all dressing ingredients in a mason jar and shake vigorously until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large serving bowl combine cooled quinoa, carrots, cabbage, edamame, red pepper and dressing. Garnish with sesame seeds if desired and serve!

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Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese Salad

This is my faaaaaavvvoorrrrittteee summer salad.  I actually eat it all year round, but especially love it in the early summer for some reason. There is nothing better than crispy pecans and warm, creamy goat cheese paired with a simple white balsamic vinaigrette and roasted beets.

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Normally I roast my own beets, but this time as I was ordering our groceries, these Love Beets popped up as an option when I searched. And I was very intrigued. Normally I don’t go for many precooked convenience foods but when I saw that the only ingredients listed were organic beets, I thought they might be worth a try.

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And now, I may never roast another beet again. They are delicious! Perfectly roasted and very flavorful.

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I think it was $3-$4 for 4 medium sized roasted and peeled beets. You are paying for the convenience, but sometimes after a long day I like things to be a little convenient. Especially when they are so healthy and good for you.

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Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese Salad

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 10.5 oz. log plain goat cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans (a food processor works well)
  • 16 oz. spring greens or your fave lettuce combo
  • 4 medium beets, roasted and peeled
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • olive or grapeseed oil for frying
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

For the dressing:

  • 2/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Slice goat cheese into 8 equal pieces. I like to cut the log in half, then cut each half in half, and so on until I have 8 slices. Place goat cheese in the freezer for 5 minutes which will make it easier to work with.

Beat egg in a shallow bowl. Place pecans in a shallow bowl. Use hands to form slices of goat cheese into uniformly round pucks. Dip each puck into the egg mixture, allowing the excess to drip off and then dip it into the pecan mixture, covering the entire surface with pecans. Use your palms to smash the pecans into the goat cheese, forming it into a flat round patty about half an inch thick.

Heat a 1/4-1/2 an inch of oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. You will know the oil is hot when you can dip the handle of a wooden spoon into it and the oil begins to bubble around the spoon handle. Working in batches depending on the size of your pan, fry goat cheese rounds for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. If you find the rounds are cooking faster than that, turn the heat down. Transfer to paper towel lined plate to soak up excess grease.

In a mason jar combine all dressing ingredients and shake vigorously until emulsified. Assemble each salad with a bed of lettuce, a handful of roasted beets, a sprinkle of diced onion. Then pour dressing over the salad and place the goat cheese round right in the center.

Directions

I made these as a meal prep recipe for the week and reheated the goat cheese rounds just before eating in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds and they were delish! Not quite as good as freshly fried, but the flavor and texture was still very tasty.

Lemon and Dill Goat Cheese Bites

Tomato Basil Linguine with Burrata

This is seriously the simplest and most delicious recipe ever. It’s the perfect thing to make when it’s 96 degrees and insanely humid outside and you want to spend about 4 seconds in the kitchen.

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The garlic works it’s magic in some melted butter, then throw in the cherry tomatoes and simmer them in some white wine until they burst.  The addition of a little heavy cream and fresh basil gives you the lightest, yet creamiest sauce you’ll ever taste.

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And then, as if it couldn’t get any better, you add a dollop of burrata on top! Never had burrata? Go directly to the store right now and buy some. Burrata is a ball of fresh mozzarella filled with shredded fresh mozzarella mixed with heavy cream. It’s the most decadent and and amazing thing ever. And I only buy it once every few months because I can barely control myself around it!

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Not only is this a great weeknight dinner, it’s also a wonderful meal prep recipe! It reheats beautifully–just add some fresh basil before serving!

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Tomato Basil Linguine with Burrata

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil + more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 8 oz. linguine, cooked according to package directions, tossed in olive oil (so it doesn’t stick together)
  • 8 oz. Burrata cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Heat butter and olive oil in a large saute pan over medium low heat until butter melts. Add garlic and cook for about one minute, stirring frequently. Then add cherry tomatoes and white wine along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Turn heat to mediumhigh and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until cherry tomatoes begin to burst. You can use the back of a wooden spoon to gently press them and help them along if they are not bursting. Remove pan from heat and stir in basil and heavy cream. Season to taste, then toss with pasta. Garnish with fresh basil and burrata.

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Bacon & Leek Pizza with Dill Pesto

Do you have a Woodman’s where you live? Have you tried ordering your groceries online? You literally pick out exactly what you want (including back ups in case they are out of something) and pick the date/time you want to pick them up. They text you a reminder when your groceries are ready and you text them back when you have arrived. They wheel the groceries right out to your car and even help you load it up. It literally could not be easier! It has saved us so much time it’s ridiculous! There is a $4.95 charge if your order is $50-$99.99 but get your order over $100 and it’s free! In the long run I’m convinced it’s also saved us money too, because there’s no impulse purchases as you’re navigating the aisles.

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The biggest plus for me is the not having to deal with the anxiety and annoyance of grocery shopping. I hate dealing with the aisle blockers, slow walkers, dilly dalliers, loud talkers, yelling parents, screaming children (mostly my own) and worst of all those shoppers who act like they are literally the only people in the entire store. You know the ones, blocking the entire dairy aisle with their perpendicular cart only to leave it in the middle of the aisle and wander down 10 feet to look at the sour cream. Meanwhile a line of 8 people is waiting to get around her. I may have lost my temper a bit and after politely saying, “Excuse me” also muttered under my breath, “Not like there’s a line of 10 people behind you.” This lady got super pissed and started yelling at me. Admittedly, I was being a bit snippy and I probably deserved the words she said to me. But damn lady, get outta the freakin’ way! We all have places to go and no one wants to stand here and watch you spend 20 minutes debating sour cream brands.

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So now it’s click, click, click, pick up my groceries and I’m done. No more starting shit at the grocery store for me!

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I do have one complaint though…I hate all the plastic bags! I have tried writing “paper bags only, no plastic bags please” in the notes section of every single order, and I still get everything in plastic bags. I could probably bring my own canvas grocery bags and switch them out, but you know they are just going to throw away those plastic bags and no reuse them, so what’s the point? At least when I get them home, I can recycle them. But, come on Eau Claire, let’s get on this “plastic bag ban” bandwagon please!

Rant over. This pizza is delicious and you need to make it now. It easy, it tastes great and your family will love you for putting this delicious creation on the dinner table.

Bacon and Leek Pizza with Dill Pesto

  • Servings: 2-3
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Ingredients

  • 1 (12-14 inch) pizza crust (1/4 of my no knead pizza dough recipe)
  • 1/2 recipe of my homemade dill pesto (or 1/2 cup of your fave pesto)
  • 1 medium leek, thinly sliced
  • 4 strips crispy bacon, crumbled
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Garnish: fresh chopped dill

Directions

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. If you’re using my no knead pizza dough recipe, line a pizza pan or baking sheet with foil and and sprinkle a thin layer of corn meal to prevent the crust from sticking. Turn the dough ball out onto a floured work surface. Gently shape it into a disc, then carefully working in a clockwise motion, gently press and stretch the dough into a 12 inch circle. Don’t overwork the dough; the less you touch it the better. If you’re using a pre-baked store bought crust you can skip these steps and just place your crust on a foil lined pan.

Spread pesto in an even layer across the pizza, leaving about a half inch of crust. Then add, leeks, bacon, mozzarella and Parmesan, spreading everything in an even layer across the crust. Bake for 15 minute or until the edges are dark golden brown and the cheese starts to brown as well. Garnish with fresh dill and serve!

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (7)

{Vegan} Quinoa and Lentil Tacos

You may have noticed that I’ve been pretty silent on the blog and my social media pages this past week. Well, that’s because I’ve been eating the blandest of bland food in preparation to be the lucky recipient of a colonoscopy! *insert shudder and disgusted face here* A colonoscopy at 30?? Yes, my friends. A couple months back I experienced some rectal bleeding that lasted about a week. To be honest, it scared the shit out of me. Pun intended… I can only attribute it too a few too many take out pizza nights accompanied by a couple too many glasses of wine. Other than that there was no change to my diet, exercise or sleep habits. I experienced no pain, no cramping, nothing out of the ordinary other than some very bright red blood in the toilet bowl and streaked through my stool. I know, too much information, but after doing some research, colorectal cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer related death is this country. So it’s time to start talking about your poop people!

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Even with the introduction of fiber supplements and ridiculous amounts of fruits and veggies, the bleeding continued every morning like clock work all week. By Friday morning I was feeling light headed and dizzy (most likely related to the unsettling feeling of now knowing what the hell is going on with my body). I could only get an appointment with the GI doctor if I had a referral from my primary care doctor or an urgent care doctor. I didn’t have a primary care doctor (although you can bet your bottom dollar that I do now and you should too!) and after a quick trip to urgent care I was told they don’t treat issues like mine and that I needed to go the ER. So, after an abdominal CT and some labs they said everything looked normal and I finally got that referral to the GI department!

Of course, the GI provider told me that while the CT didn’t show any masses or abnormalities, they really wouldn’t be able to rule everything out until they did a colonoscopy. Now I am one of those people who likes to really do my research and know exactly what I can expect before something happens. I told the provider I needed to think on it and mentally prepare for the colonoscopy before scheduling one. A little background info on the topic: My grandma is almost two years cancer free after her own battle with colon cancer, so this really hit close to home for me. She had a large mass removed from her colon along with chemotherapy treatments and to be honest, she handled it like a champ. Although they say your risk only increases if you have a first degree relative who had colon cancer, I have to imagine that my risk is still somewhat increased if I have a second degree relative who had it. In my mind, I knew that I had to have the colonoscopy but I needed some time to learn more about the process and what I could expect. The provider I had the consult with assured me that the risks were minimal and rarely occur, but there was the possibility of perforation of the colon (when removing a large polyp) and there’s always risks with sedating a patient (issues related to heart rate, blood pressure, etc.).

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Armed with my limited knowledge of the procedure, I started doing some research using the good old Google. I discovered that in most cases the patient is sedated for the procedure and has no memory of it at all. They wake up and hang out in the recovery area for about a half hour and then head home to sleep and relax for the rest of the day. Obviously sedation affects everyone differently, but many people feel foggy and out of it for the rest of the day. You aren’t permitted to sign legal documents and are considered legally impaired for the rest of the day. While having no memory of the procedure sounded great, being sedated and out of it for the rest of the day just did not sit well with me. The more research I did, the more articles I found about sedation free colonoscopies. I was surprised to find out that most health care providers, health care staff and those who are “highly educated” opt for sedation free colonoscopies because it’s just not necessary to be sedated. Now, I don’t have a college degree but I can tell you that I if I don’t have to put sedatives in my body, I don’t want to. I hate to put any anything in my body if I don’t have to (unless it’s wine or pizza…now you see how I got in this predicament). I don’t even like to take Excedrin when I have a throbbing migraine with aura so the thought of a sedation free colonoscopy appealed to me.

Contrary to popular belief, colonoscopies are not painful. Your colon actually does not have nerve endings that sense pain, temperature or touch. Most people who experience extreme pain or discomfort during the procedure are those with inflammation, digestive issues or obstructed bowels.

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Post Procedure Update:

WOW. Glad that’s over. But seriously, it was no where near as bad as I was expecting! Like I mentioned above, I started eating a low fiber, very bland diet about 4 days before the procedure and also reduced my overall intake of food. The day before the procedure I only drank clear liquids, ate gummy bears and lemon popsicles. While the lack of food for over 24 hours was not as hard as I thought it was going to be, I did have a lot of difficulty focusing at work and only lasted for about half the day before I had to go home and be foggy in the comfort of my own home.

I made sure to pump myself full of water in anticipation of the dehydrating prep that I had to drink the night before the procedure. In most articles I read, the prep portion was the hardest for patients to complete. It requires you to drink 16 (8 oz.) glasses of this nasty, salty liquid. You drink 12 glasses the night before and 4 glasses the morning of. I channeled my younger partying days and poured myself shots of the prep liquid which I threw back and then chased with white Gatorade. This made it a lot easier for me, but seriously drinking 72 oz. of liquid in 3 hours is quite a feat! The actual evacuation of my bowels really wasn’t too bad. I hadn’t eaten much over the last few days, so there wasn’t much left to come out! I heeded all the warnings and was sure to use baby wipes instead of toilet paper during the process which made things a lot less painful. Overall, while unpleasant, the prep was not awful. The worst part was just the sore bottom afterwards. Thank you Desitin!

Although by the time the first round of prep was completed things were coming out clear, I drank the second round of prep in the morning as instructed. I read many stories of people’s colons being too dirty to undergo procedure and having to reschedule and start the whole cycle over–no thank you! So I choked it down and then rested for a few hours before my appointment. My appointment was in the afternoon because they were able to squeeze me in on short notice with my doctor of choice, Dr. Jaime Zighelboim. He was a clear choice for me after reading this article about how he performed sedation free colonoscopies. I found my experience to be very similar to the lady in the article.

I do have to note that I was overwhelmingly impressed with the nursing staff and their ability to keep me feeling very calm, comfortable and relaxed during my entire visit. My admitting nurse had me laughing and was very encouraging when I relayed my plan to forgo sedation. He described the procedure in great detail so I knew exactly what to expect. He explained that the first part of the procedure they are just working on getting the scope all the way to the end of your colon, then the remainder of the procedure they are cleaning the colon with water and suction while they inspect every inch. Once you make it through the full insertion of the scope, the removal process is a piece of cake. He also explained that they would still place an IV in my arm in the event that I did choose to have sedation mid-procedure; they would be able to hook me up and get those going right away. It was comforting to know that if it was painful or uncomfortable, there was always the option of sedation.

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It seems like such a small thing but it also really helped to have the procedure nurse hold my hand during the entire procedure. She kept asking how I was doing and reminded me to breath during the times where I felt some pressure as the doctor guided the scope around the 90 degree angles of my colon. At first, I closed my eyes and didn’t want to watch the TV screen projecting the view of the scope. But as I relaxed, I opened my eyes and started watching as he steered the scope skillfully shooting water at little particles that were stuck to the walls of my colon. His movements were calculated and confident. I truly felt like I was in good hands.

For the most part, it really was an uneventful procedure. It lasted maybe 10-12 minutes. I felt some little wiggles from inside and I could feel the presence of the scope just at the opening of my rectum but it was well lubricated and was not painful during insertion or during the procedure. I did feel some poking and pressure once and it lasted for maybe 8 seconds. It was on my left side and it was just as the scope rounded a sharp corner. On a scale from 1-10 I’d give the pain maybe a 3-4. It was not a pain like when you cut your finger or even when you hit your shin on something. It was more just a poking pressure. I took a few deep breaths and closed my eyes again and it was pretty much over as quickly as it as it began. During this time the doctor explained that while the colon itself cannot feel pain, the pressure that I was experiencing  was the ligaments that hold the colon in place stretching and moving as scope navigated the corners. In the end, I was given a clean bill of health and sent on my way!

I realize this is like WAY TOO MUCH detail for some people. But honestly, it’s something we need to talk about. I wonder if my grandma would have had a colonoscopy earlier in her life if she’d known what to expect and known the consequences of not having regular exams after age 50 or before if you are having issues. It’s amazing that colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer related deaths in this country despite it being extremely preventable and treatable in many cases with early detection and regular screenings. So that’s why I chose to write about it. Because colonoscopies have a bad rap and they really don’t need to.

Personally, I would 100% do it again without sedation. Being awake and aware of what was happening to my body felt empowering. Being able to get up and walk out of the hospital after the procedure felt great. If you are contemplating a colonoscopy without sedation, I would strongly urge you to try it. You can also opt for the drugs if it’s not your cup of tea. It’s important to remember that you have options, and to find a health care provider you trust who is willing to discuss alternatives to traditional medicine.

{Vegan} Quinoa and Lentil Tacos

  • Servings: 8 tacos
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Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cups cooked red lentils
  • 1.5 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium tamari
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

Start by heating oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently for about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently for about 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with tamari and water. Then add lentils, quinoa, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika and a liberal pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine and cook until just heated through.

Serve with your favorite taco toppings! I chose my favorite Chipotle Lime Slaw, sauteed veggies and fresh made guacamole.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (9)

{Vegan} Sesame Ginger Pasta Salad

This salad is fast. It’s easy. It’s simple. And so, this post will be too! This is another one of my favorite meal prep recipes for lunches during the work week. I like to bring something cold for lunch so as not to fill our tiny office with the fragrance of my favorite curry recipe or roasted poblano soup. While I enjoy all those smells and flavors, I realize that everyone may not. So I usually save those gems for dinner and bring something equally as flavorful but slightly less offensive to the senses of those around me.

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Enter, pasta salad! You might be saying, didn’t you just post a pasta salad recipe last week?! Yes, I did. But that was last week and this is now. And when summer comes and you’re not sure what to bring to your friend’s BBQ, now you have this recipe and you have that Mediterranean pasta salad from last week. So you’re welcome!

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I like to use spaghetti noodles because I love to swirl them around on my fork but you could use any shape you want. Just try to make sure it’s whole wheat. It’s way better for you and once you get used to the toothier texture you might find that you prefer it over regular white pasta.

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{Vegan} Sesame Ginger Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

For pasta salad:

  • 1 lb. whole wheat pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper diced
  • 1/4 red onion, petite diced
  • 1/2 a small red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 3 large carrots, shredded
  • 3 stalks green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1.5 cups cooked, shelled edamame
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

For dressing:

  • 1 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

This recipe really couldn’t be much easier. Add all pasta salad ingredients to a large bowl. Add all dressing ingredients to a large mason jar and shake it up real good. If you are planning to serve the pasta salad immediately, pour dressing into the serving bowl and toss until everything is well coated. Garnish with sesame seeds.

If you are planning to meal prep this recipe like I did, pour about 1/2 of the dressing into the serving bowl and toss until everything is well coated. Then divide into 8 containers and garnish each container of salad with sesame seeds. Each morning before work, or just before serving add another splash of dressing to the salad. This will ensure that the noodles don’t get too soggy and that your pasta salad is still flavorful a few days later.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (2)

BBQ Pork Stuffed Poblanos with Spanish Quinoa

As someone who has struggled with gaining and losing the same 20-30 pounds for the last 10 years I am constantly trying to create recipes that are healthy yet satisfying in an effort to get back to my to ideal weight. I want a meal that tastes delicious and leaves me satiated but doesn’t break the calorie bank. These peppers are the best of both worlds; loaded with tender pulled pork that feels a little indulgent but stuffed inside a poblano pepper and filled with tons of protein packed quinoa.

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The BBQ sauce might throw you off a bit, but just hear me out. It’s delicious and if you haven’t tried the combo before, you’re welcome! Homemade enchilada sauce would be divine in this recipe but sometimes the canned stuff just makes life so much easier.

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I am forgetting the best part. Half the meal cooks in the crock pot while you get on with your life! For this recipe I used my easy Beer Braised Pork Carnitas which is a pork roast seared and then smothered in seasonings, slow cooked in a mixture of beer and chicken stock with a little hint of orange. I have literally made these pork carnitas at least twice a month for the last year. Mostly because they’re so easy to make and partly because every time I do my husband raves about their deliciousness!

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Actually the best part of this meal might be the Spanish quinoa. It’s made in much the same way that your typical Spanish rice would be but it’s got a lot more nutritional value. It’s all about the nutritional value!

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So let’s get to it!

BBQ Pork Stuffed Poblanos with Spanish Quinoa

  • Servings: 10
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Ingredients

  • Beer Braised Pork Carnitas
  • 5 large poblano peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (4.5 oz.) can diced green chiles
  • 1 (28 oz.) can enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 red onion, petite diced
  • 1 cup shredded pepperjack cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • sour cream for serving

Directions

While the pork is working it’s magic, get started on that quinoa. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add dry, uncooked quinoa and toast it for about 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently. You are looking to bring out the nutty flavor and get it a little golden brown. Next add 1 cup water to the pan along with the can of diced tomatoes and the can of diced chiles (no draining!). Add a pinch of salt as well, then stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

When the pork is fully cooked it will be super tender, like falling off the bone and just begging to be pulled apart tender. Remove it from the crock pot and transfer to a large baking sheet. It’s easiest to do this with a big tongs as the meat will be falling apart making it a bit difficult to handle. Use two forks to gently pull the pork apart. While you are doing this remove any fatty parts and discard them. Place shredded pork in a bowl, set aside. Try not to eat it all before you stuff the peppers. Discard the rest of the contents of the crock…I know this seems like a terrible waste and I’m sure there’s something awesomely delicious that you could do with that fatty broth. If you think of something, let me know!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grab two 9×13 baking dishes and pour about half a cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of each pan. Time for the stuffing! Divide quinoa evenly between the peppers (about 1/3-1/2 cup per pepper) and make sure to stuff it in all the little crevasses. Next divide the pork evenly between the peppers (about a 1/2 cup or so per pepper). Mix remaining enchilada sauce with the BBQ sauce and pour this mixture over the pork stuffed peppers, dividing it evenly between them. Top each pepper with a small handful of diced onion and then a small sprinkling of shredded cheese. Cover each pan tightly with foil and bake for 45-50 minutes or until the peppers are tender but still have a bit of a bite.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with sour cream.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (7)

Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Dill Pesto

As you may know, I am all about that meal prep. Like ALL ABOUT IT. But I haven’t always been. I used to read those blog posts about how life changing meal prep can be and think it just seemed so daunting. Spending hours in the kitchen making giant meals, then portioning them out into all those cute little containers. Not to mention trying to find room for those containers in the fridge somewhere!

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So I moved through the week with no direction. I’d pick over things in the fridge, end up going to the grocery store 4 times a week just for a few things and order out a lot. This was the routine for a while. I had time to spend in the kitchen every evening and I enjoyed trying several new recipes each week. However, after my daughter was born things changed pretty drastically. Gone were the relaxing hours spent sipping wine and  perfecting my favorite recipes.

Overnight my priorities shifted to keeping this beautiful creature alive and catching any amount of sleep whenever possible. Eating moved to the bottom of the totem pole and preparing lavish meals seemed like a fond and distant memory. I quickly decided this was not sustainable and started looking into meal prep.

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Within a month or so, I started prepping my lunch and dinner for the week on Saturday/Sunday afternoons. What a game changer! A few hours spent prepping on the weekend meant that during the week I was free to focus on all the important things that were happening; baby giggles, snuggle time, washing bottles, changing diapers and showering. Hah, yeah right, that last one was a joke.

I pick out two recipes–meals that reheat well and can be made in a large batch–I order all my groceries online because Woodman’s is awesome and then spend a couple hours prepping everything.

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If we’ve got a busy weekend I’ll try to spread the meal prep out over the weekend. For instance, this weekend while the family was watching TV and vegging out on Friday night I started a pot on the stove and cooked my noodles. Then I happened to wake up uncharacteristically early on Saturday morning so I threw together the dill pesto before we ran errands. During naptime that afternoon I chopped all the veggies and assembled the salads. Then on Sunday I threw my second meal prep recipe in the crock pot and we spent the day at my grandparents house celebrating Easter. When we got home I shredded my pork and finished prepping my stuffed peppers for the week.

I feel like you’ve heard it all before. But seriously if you’re stressing about dinner, feel like you’re spending too much money on food every month or just need some sort of routine and stability, it’s time to meal prep!

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Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Dill Pesto

  • Servings: 8
  • Print

Ingredients

Pasta Salad:

  • 16 oz. whole wheat pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup halved green olives
  • 1 cup diced green pepper
  • 1/3 cup julienne sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup petite diced red onion
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese

Dill Pesto:

  • 1/2 cup fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Start by dividing pasta between 8 containers. Then divide remaining ingredients evenly between the 8 containers.

To make the pesto add dill, pecans, garlic and lemon juice to a food processor. While you are processing, slowly drizzle in olive oil until all ingredients are well minced and form a thick pesto. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Divide pesto evenly between pasta salad and toss to coat.

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