Category Archives: Recipes

Meal Planning Monday: December 11, 2016

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It’s cold. Yeah, yeah, it’s December. It’s supposed to be cold in Iowa. But we were spoiled. So now I’m freezing my tuchus off. So this week I want mostly soups and warm stuff to put in my belly. 

Making soup is a perfect way to stockpile some extra meals – most soups freeze really well. So make a giant batch and stash some extra meals away for later. 

Here’s what’s happening in my neck of the woods this week:

Monday: The easiest Thai chicken soup – get some Tom Ka paste from an Asian market. I simmer cooked chicken with a can  of light coconut milk, 2 cups of chicken stock, a bag of stir fry veggies, and a bit of curry paste. Sometimes I add extra bamboo shoots or water chestnuts. Yum. 

Tuesday: Slow cooker pork loin with apples and sage. I might be gross because I use bottled gravy in this recipe, but it’s so good. And so easy. Come at me. I’ll serve with mashed cauliflower. 

Wednesday: Slow cooker mu shu chicken wraps. Just cook boneless skinless chicken breasts with a half bottle of stir-fry sauce for 4-6 hours. Shred, add the rest of the bottle of sauce, along with a bag of broccoli slaw. Serve as is or wrap that up in tortillas or low carb wraps. 

Thursday: Kiddo has a choir concert. So we need a quick meal: deli turkey, Greek yogurt cream cheese, and apples on low-carb flatouts it is. I will also stuff them with mixed greens and the kids will complain about their horrible lots in life. 

Friday: Leftovers!

Saturday: Ottolenghi’s chickpea, tomato, and bread soup. If I could cook one chef’s meals for all my days, it would be his. 

Sunday: Bouillabaise. Because I’ve always wanted to make bouillabaise, and I like saying bouillabaise. So I’m going to try it. This is a simplified version of a French fisherman’s stew. Serve with crusty whole grain bread. 

What’s on your menu this week? Leave a comment and share! 

 

Meal Planning Monday: December 4th, 2016

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Oh helloooooo. It’s time to plan. So that when the thing hits the you-know-what, you at least have dinner prepped. 

I feel like I returned from battle yesterday after buying my groceries for the week. The store was so busy it seemed like people were prepping for a zombie apocalypse. Instead, I think it was just a really good sale combined with the weather forecast predicting snow. People start buying milk and bread and basically lose their minds. This always amuses me a whole lot. 

But I have milk and bread now. And all the things to make this week’s meals. Check out mine here:

Monday: Lightened up Parmesan chicken: just skip the breading and bake chicken breasts. I sprinkle with Italian seasoning and salt then bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Toss on some cheese and marinara and bake 5-10 minutes more: until the sauce is warm and the cheese is melty. Serving with sauteed spinach instead of pasta – but have a bit on the side if you’re craving some. 

Tuesday: spicy California shrimp stacks from Skinnytaste. How freaking clever are these? I’ll serve with a cucumber sesame salad on the side. 

Wednesday: Chicken spinach frittata with leftover chicken from Monday. Add bits of whatever veggies you have around, and you can play with cheese. Here’s one variation from an Oregon Cottage. 

Thursday: Turkey taco stuffed sweet potatoes. Just use lean ground turkey and make taco filling from it. I like to add homemade taco seasoning, a bit of salsa, and a can of black beans to the meat. Then stuff your baked/microwaved sweet potatoes. Top with plain Greek yogurt and/or a little cheese. Nom nom. 

Tip: if you can, make a giant batch of the taco meat. Freeze the extras and then you can use this as a super fast dinner on crazy nights. 

Friday: Hey family, make your own damn dinner! Or… leftovers/cooked soups I found in the deep freezer. 

Saturday: Lower calorie Shepherd’s pie. Just take your favorite recipe and use 90% lean ground beef, plenty of veggies, and top with a mixture of mashed cauliflower and potato. Using buttermilk and cutting back on butter helps scale back calories for mashed potatoes. I’ll put some umami bombs into the sauce with cues from Serious Eats. 

Sunday: Roasted turkey tenderloins (I get these inexpensively at Aldi) with cranberry shallot sauce from Eating Well. Steamed green beans and roasted sweet potatoes on the side, because I’m still feeling Thanksgiving in my soul. 

What’s for dinner at your house this week? Have something good? Share it in a comment below. Happy cooking! 

Meal Planning Monday November 28, 2016

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It’s a new week and maybe I don’t need to eat pie every day. Or maybe I do? I had quite a lot of good pie and other treats for Thanksgiving. 

There’s no need to repent or detox.  But I’m craving some vegetables. This week’s dinner menu will have plenty of them. Hopefully there will be good leftovers for lunches, and I’ll throw some spinach into my breakfast smoothies or fold a few veggies into an omelet. 

Monday: Black Bean Pumpkin Soup from Smitten Kitchen with a mixed green salad

Tuesday: Feta spinach chicken sausages roasted with red bell peppers, onions, and broccoli. (Use whatever veggies and seasonings you like! I’ll sprinkle on oregano, salt, and pepper and roast in one pan at 400F until it looks nice and toasty. 25-35 minutes should do the trick. 

Wednesday: Baked ginger soy chicken from David Lebowitz, served with a big side of steamed or sauteed stir fry veggies. (Just buy the frozen ones if you don’t have fresh veg on hand.)

Thursday: Surely we have leftovers. Right? Right? If not, I’ve been itching to make the turkey meatloaf from Skinnytaste. It would taste great with a side of sweet potatoes and broccoli. 

Friday: Lentil chili from Little Broken. With a cornbread muffin, because yum. 

Saturday: Hosting a sleepover for many 4th grade hooligans. A DIY hot dog bar with fruits and veggies on the side will work for the kiddos. Turkey brats with apple sauerkraut and roasted Brussels sprouts for the grownups. Plus wine. Of course. 

Sunday: Blackened fish taco bowls from Noshtastic

Are you cooking up a favorite meal you’ve discovered lately? Tell me all about it in a comment below. Have a great week!

Meal Planning Monday for November 20, 2016

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Need some dinner inspiration? Last week I launched “Meal Planning Monday”. Although truthfully, I do most of my planning on Sunday. According to memes on the Internet, you’re supposed to plan on Monday. It must be due to alliteration. I have no idea. But whatever day you choose to start a new cycle of meals, just get a plan in place.

It’ll make your life way less full of crazy. At least 80% less of the crazy. And for this upcoming week, there will be plenty of that, at least around here. We’ve got Thanksgiving dinner to prep and one of my kiddos is turning 10. 

So this week’s dinner menu needs to be simple. I’ll make lunches out of leftovers, and hang with my favorite easy breakfasts. Happy Thanksgiving! Read on below for meal ideas.

Monday: Greek chicken wraps. Use rotisserie chicken, store-bought Tzaziki sauce, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, and whatever else sounds good. A little feta would be perfect. Stuff it all inside a high protein Flatout wrap or a pita. 

Tuesday: Thai peanut chicken slaw. Use leftover chicken from last night. Shred or chop and add to a bag of broccoli slaw. Add a light peanut sauce made with PB2, toss that together, and top with a squirt of sriracha, a handful of cilantro, and perhaps a few chopped peanuts. If you’re fancy. 

Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner. Eggs inside sweet potatoes. I saw it on Pinterest approximately 5,000 times and now I need to try it. You win, Pinterest. You could try a recipe like these eggs in sweet potato boats, but you barely need one. I may try to shove 2 eggs into one sweet potato half because I want more protein in there. 

Thursday: Thanksgiving! I’m bringing many pies to dinner, including a salted honey pie that is out of this world. Use a different crust recipe from the one listed here. The filling will blow your mind. No, it’s not even a little bit healthy. It’s pie. But a small slice is satisfying for this one. 

Friday: Turkey leftovers. I think I’ll make a white chili and substitute turkey for the usual chicken. I may riff off of Ellie Krieger’s white chili but sub cannellini beans for the hominy. 

Saturday: Are we tired of turkey yet? Probably. Try black bean sweet potato quesadillas: Saute cubed sweet potato with some smoked paprika and a little cumin. Dump in a can of black beans and heat. Then fill tortillas with that mixture, top with a bit of cheese like cotija, and heat on a griddle or skillet. Serve with salsa. 

Sunday: Oven baked honey sriracha drumsticks and green salad. It’s my boy’s birthday, and this is what he requested. Drumsticks are an odd favorite food, but I roll with it. I substitute gochujang paste for sriracha because it’s not quite so spicy. Find it at an Asian market. 

What’s on the menu at your place? Leave a comment below and share your favorites. 

Meal Planning Monday for November 14, 2016

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Oh hey there!

I’m starting a new series in the spirit of meal prep. Why? Because having a plan for the week makes healthy eating way less bumpy. 

I hesitate to say “meal planning” because people think of that as a rigid set of meals that they have to eat. Eat whatever you like! But once my menu for the week is set, I can chill out and know that dinner will happen without a last minute trip to the grocery store. 

I usually work off of what I have hanging out in my fridge, pantry, and freezer when I design my weekly dinner menus. I can whip up breakfast or lunch from most anything I have in the house. But dinner takes a little more planning. 

If that all feels overwhelming, start by reading a peek inside a week of healthy meal planning. 

Then if you’re needing a bit of inspiration, check out my menu each week and nab whatever sounds yummy. I try to choose dinners that have a fairly high protein count, are reasonably low in calories, and taste great. 

Some meals take a little more prep than others. If I make soup or stew I usually double the batch and freeze one. Then I have some “no cook” nights for when the you-know-what hits the fan. 

Meal Plan for November 14, 2016

Monday: Sauteed skillet of chicken apple sausages, cubed butternut squash, and brussels sprouts. (I just cook these together with a little thyme and smoky paprika.)

Tuesday: Leftover Turkey Chili from the freezer with mixed greens.

Wednesday: Lasagna soup with mixed greens.

Thursday: Apple stuffed pork loin with Moroccan spices. Roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes on the side.

Friday: Leftovers!

Saturday: One Pot Red Beans and Rice with Turkey Kielbasa

Sunday: Maple glazed baked salmon with pears, Brussels Sprouts, and whipped cauliflower/potato mash. 

Have a go to recipe that you’d like to share or even your menu for the week? Lay it on us! Just leave a comment below. 

Can’t take another shake? Try these ways to use your protein powder.

I giggled.

I giggled.

Do you have a bag of protein powder sitting in your pantry? Sweet: you’re in business today. 

If you’re like me, your containers may be collecting dust. I go through phases with how I choose to get more muscle building protein into my diet. Lately I feel ‘meh’ about protein shakes. Especially now that it’s autumn and I just want to bake things. And shove them in my belly. 

Protein shakes can save the day. Whey protein in particular is top notch for being easy to digest, quick to whip up into a shake with nothing more than water, and relatively cheap to boot. There are other kinds of protein powders too, and you can learn more about how they work here. 

You can fancy them up too with some milk, fruit, and whatever else you can dream if you’re feeling like channeling your inner Top Chef. 

Sometimes I’d rather eat more “food food” for my protein intake. You know – meat, fish, eggs, lentils, or a bunch of Greek yogurt. Sometimes I can’t stomach the idea of sucking  down yet another protein shake. Still, using protein powder makes it way, way easier for me to hit my daily protein target. And it’s a high quality source of those amino acids your body needs to build those gains. 

If you’re feeling burned out on bro shakes but want to get that extra boost from a powder, here are a few ways you can shake things up (without the shaker bottle). 

 

Spiced Pear Rice Pudding
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Use whatever kind of rice you have sitting around for this not-too-sweet dessert that works for breakfast too. The idea is simple: use equal parts rice and milk, add a splash of vanilla and a little bit of spice. I substituted pear for my usual apple, added a pinch of cardamom, and sprinkled on a few teaspoons of hazelnuts. 

Get the recipe here. 

Mug Cakes
lemon protein cake
Protein mug cakes are a thing now. Usually you microwave them and they become rubbery and sad. Yes, an affront to cakery. Is that a word? In any case, I almost always skip these. I’ve found a few good tips if you do decide to nuke one. The power level in your microwave should stay at around 30% power as you bake your cake. Start with a minimal time-  like 30 seconds. And then check.

The kind of protein you use makes a difference when baking with powder. Whey protein absorbs less liquid than other protein powders, so be wary of substituting when you follow a recipe. 

Or you can just bake your little cake in the oven, as I did with my lemon protein mug cake. It was surprisingly tasty and felt like dessert. Or breakfast dessert. 

Rating: 1 or 9, depending on your recipe. The lemon was a 9 for “almost real dessert”. 

Sludge
sludge
This recipe isn’t pretty. It sounds kind of gross. But it’s a chocolatey way to increase your protein intake. I added a few teaspoons of peanut butter chips. Because peanut butter is life, and I was PMSing like a beast. You know, weeping intermittently while watching the Walking Dead. I also needed a gateway recipe to help myself stop stealing my kids’ Halloween candy. Get the recipe from Muffin Topless. 

Cinnabon Protein Oatmeal
cinnabon

You don’t even need a recipe for this breakfast treat. And it’s crazy good. Instead of adding whey protein to my oatmeal, I whipped egg whites into my oats along with a little cinnamon and vanilla.

The magic comes in the topping. Use a tablespoon of Greek yogurt cream cheese or lowfat cream cheese.  Add a half scoop to a full scoop of protein powder depending on how much of a boost you’d like. Thin it out to a thin frosting by adding a little milk, bit by bit.

So good. Not funky. Much yum. Get my recipe here. 

Strawberry Fluff

So fluffy.

So fluffy.

This is the bro-iest bro treat to ever bro. I avoided it because it didn’t sound very yummy to me. But I finally caved and I’ll make this over and over again. Because it’s tasty.  But mostly because: holy mother of God, it’s filling. If you’re having a hangry kind of day, make fluff. It’ll fill your belly. 

You only need fruit, protein powder, some kind of milk, and perhaps a little extract and stevia.  Plus something to help whip it up. Most people use xantham gum. I used an egg white. Yeah, it’s raw. I probably won’t die. 

Get my recipe here

I have two questions for you, because I’m a curious cat. First. What’s your favorite brand/flavor/type of protein powder? And what’s your favorite way to use it? Leave a comment below or on my Facebook page. Thanks!

P.S. I share ideas for workouts and nutrition in my newsletter. I’ll help you build muscle, get lean, and feel mighty fine. Just fill out the form thingy below and I’ll hook you up with my Fat Loss on a Budget book. See you there!

 

Strawberry Fluff – a Protein Packed Treat to Fill Your Belly

So fluffy.

So fluffy.

Protein Fluff is Bro Treat 101. I’d read recipes for this treat on nearly every bodybuilding website. But I avoided it for years, thinking that the concoction was likely some sad dessert devised by people who’d been eating chicken and protein powder for too many years to remember real dessert. 

But I finally gave it a whirl. Here’s the thing. It’s not going to give you the same feeling as a decadent mousse. But it’s yummy. It’s insanely filling. And it provides a wallop of protein. 

I’ve read plenty of recipes. Many call for casein and xantham gum. But I didn’t have those, and I’m too lazy to go to the store. So I used whey protein and an egg white in my mix. The result was fluffy and wonderful. 

I think eating it straight out of the mixing bowl is completely cool. I won’t judge you. But if you stick the fluff into the freezer for 15 minutes you might enjoy it more. I wanted it to be cold. 

You can use nearly any fruit – but some fruits are sweeter than others, so when you blend your concoction before whipping, consider adding some stevia or other sweetener. Want to make it? Read on for the recipe. 

Strawberry Protein Fluff
Serves 1
Fluffy. Filling. Full of gains.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 large egg white
  2. 70 ml(s) Skim Milk
  3. 115.00 g, Strawberries, frozen
  4. 1 tsp Stevia
  5. 20 g Whey Protein Isolate (I used True Nutrition strawberry flavor but vanilla would be great too)
  6. 1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)
Instructions
  1. Use a blender to blend all the ingredients. Pour into a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Blend until very, very fluffy. (See notes).
  2. Eat right away, or freeze for 15-20 minutes.
Notes
  1. You could use a hand mixer - itl'l just take longer. Most standard recipes indicate whipping for 8-10 minutes, but my powerful stand mixer got the job done in under 3 minutes.
  2. This is a half recipe from what is typically suggested. If you're extra hungry or a very big dude, you may double it and it'll fit into your bowl. This serving size is more than enough to fill me up.
Nutrition
  1. Calories: 153
  2. Carbs: 13g
  3. Sugars: 10g
  4. Fiber: 2g
  5. Fat: 1g
  6. Protein: 25g
Adapted from Every bro forum on the Internet
Adapted from Every bro forum on the Internet
Amy Dix http://amydix.com/

Cinnabon High Protein Oatmeal

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When I first heard about making a high protein “frosting” I was deeply suspicious. I love frosting. Especially buttercream. I couldn’t imagine that this topper would actually taste great. 

The secret is in the two ingredients: vanilla protein powder and cream cheese. I used Greek yogurt cream cheese but you could substitute lowfat cream cheese and it would be just fine. 

For under 300 calories you get a breakfast that packs 28g of protein AND helps satisfy your sweet tooth. Win/win, yes? Enjoy!

Cinnabon High Protein Oatmeal
Serves 1
Make breakfast awesome and full of gainz.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup dry old fashioned oats
  2. 1 cup water
  3. pinch salt
  4. 2 egg whites
  5. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  6. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, divided
  7. Optional: packet of stevia
  8. 1 Tbsp Greek yogurt cream cheese
  9. 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used True Nutrition Whey Isolate)
  10. 1-2 Tbsp water or milk to thin frosting
Instructions
  1. Bring water to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Add oats, a pinch of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Lower heat to medium and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off the heat. Add 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla, then whisk in egg whites gradually, stirring quickly so they don't scramble.
  2. While the oats cook, make your frosting. Mix the protein powder, remaining 1/4 teaspoons of cinnamon and vanilla, and cream cheese. Thin with milk or water to make a frosting consistency. Swirl over your oats and eat that up.
Nutrition
  1. Calories: 280
  2. 31g carbs
  3. 5g fat
  4. 28g protein
  5. 3g sugar
  6. 5g fiber
Amy Dix http://amydix.com/

Spiced Pear Protein Rice Pudding

rice-pudding

Dessert for breakfast. Breakfast for dessert. Either works and I love this cozy recipe for a tasty protein boost in the fall and winter. This would work well with all sorts of rice: wild rice blends, brown rice, even farro or oatmeal. What’s your favorite way to use protein powder? Leave a comment below and share.

Spiced Pear Protein Rice Pudding
Serves 1
Healthy dessert. Or dessert for breakfast. Use up your leftover rice and get a boost of protein at the same time.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup cooked basmati rice
  2. 1/2 scoop vanilla whey protein (I used Jay Robb brand)
  3. 1/2 cup skim milk
  4. 3 ounces bosc pear
  5. 2 teaspoons chopped hazelnuts
  6. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  7. Pinch of cardamom
  8. 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Chop pear and saute it in a nonstick pan on medium heat. Add an extra sprinkle of cinnamon if you like. It will take 5 minutes or so for the pears to soften.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the rice, spices, vanilla, and milk in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat for around 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has disappeared.
  3. Take off the heat. Add the protein powder and mix well. It may be very thick. If so, add a bit more milk until it's the consistency you like.
  4. Top with pears and enjoy!
Nutrition per serving
  1. 275 calories
  2. 41g carbs
  3. 3g fat
  4. 4g fiber
  5. 14g sugar
  6. 21g protein
Adapted from Apple Cinnamon Protein Rice Pudding from Big Man's World
Adapted from Apple Cinnamon Protein Rice Pudding from Big Man's World
Amy Dix http://amydix.com/

Southwestern zucchini crepe to breakfast or brinner.

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I had a zucchini sitting around, wanting to become something. The only thing I actually long to eat, most of the time, is breakfast. So the answer was clear: a zucchini tortilla. 

However, as often happens when I start making stuff up as I go along in the kitchen, my tortilla became more of a crepe. But that’s fine, because it ended up just as delicious. 

Use the basic template I have and then riff from it with whatever you have on hand. I had diced onion and a bit of jalapeno pepper that needed to get eaten so I threw those in. 

Top it with whatever you like: an egg is a must if you’re a fan of them. I wanted sliced avocados but I only had guac. That was just as tasty. Shredded cheese and salsa also made it to the final plate. Cilantro would make a perfect garnish, but I was fresh out. I guess it’s time for a grocery run. 

Whatever you choose, the recipe is simple. I’ve included the ingredients for 1 crepe, because it’s all about me. But you could easily multiply them. Enjoy!

Southwestern Zucchini Crepe
Serves 1
It's a flat thing; not quite a pancake, but softer than a tortilla. Who cares though - it's yummy!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 zucchini, finely shredded (about 1/2 cup)
  2. 2 Tbsp diced onion
  3. 1 Tbsp diced hot pepper, such as jalapeno
  4. 1 egg white
  5. 1/2 Tbsp oat flour
  6. 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder or other seasoning
  7. 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  8. Dash of salt
Toppings
  1. 1 egg
  2. Avocado or guacamole
  3. Salsa
  4. Chopped cilantro
For the Crepe
  1. Shred the zucchini and squeeze it in a paper towel to remove the excess water.
  2. Place into a bowl and add the onion, pepper, egg white, flour, and seasonings. Cook over medium heat in a skillet or griddle sprayed with nonstick spray for approximately 10-12 minutes, or until lightly brown on each side.
  3. Remove from heat and top with fixings.
Notes
  1. Chopped bacon would be outstanding. I'm always pro bacon. Always.
Nutrition for 1 crepe (without toppings)
  1. Calories: 80
  2. Carbs: 7g
  3. Protein: 6g
  4. Fats: 2g
  5. Fiber: 2g
  6. Sugar: 1g
Amy Dix http://amydix.com/