Featured

Week of Eats

Breakfasts

Turkey Bacon Egg Cups a la @fitlicity

Pro Plate Tip: pair it with roasted brussels, pear, and onion and a side salad.

Healthy Hint: Meal prep the egg cups and “breaky brussels” up to seven days in advance. RehEAT the egg cups gently in 30 second microwave increments, and crisp up the veggies in the air fryer.

Eat the Rainbow Breaky Plate

Featuring seven-minute Jammy Eggs a la @fitlicity, smoked salmon, turkey bacon, crunchy raw veggies of every color, texture, and flavor profile… and a special appearance by a cauliflower “bagel”.

Mains (Lunch + Dinner)

I operate on a “leftovers for lunch” planning strategy, so each of the meals below yield at least four servings for myself and Mo.

Spatchcock Chicken

Spatchcock is simply a preparation method of a whole chicken that involves removing the backbone and breaking the breastbone so that the chicken lays flat – cooking more evenly (and quickly!). The marinade du jour in honor of Super Bowl Sunday is buffalo!

Pair it with: cacao e pepe brussel sprouts and roasted cauliflower.

Spinach Artichoke Chicken Casserole

I’m modifying one of my own culinary creations to bring you something a little bit new with a bite of familiar flavor! Stay tuned. But until then, use this recipe for ooey-gooey but totally ooey-gooey-good-for-you deliciousness.

Pair it with: sautéed green beans and asparagus

Spanakopita Meatballs

If you’re wondering what in the heck Spanakopita is… so was I! But the photo of this dish was so dang pretty, it was worth a trip to the Google machine. A quick browser search informed me that these meatballs are inspired by a Greek culture classic – savory spinach pie (sans phyllo dough).

Pair it with: vegetable medley, a tzatziki sauce, and a side salad

Butternut Squash Chicken Curry

A trip to the Weather app (one of my Meal Planning pro tips – check the forecast!) showed me that a cozy, rainy evening lay ahead. Cue: a comforting bowl of curry. This recipe uses one of my favorite packaged products – Yai’s Thai Curry!

My mods: I’m making the fat content a bit more modest by using 1/2 can of Yai’s Thai sauce

Pair it with: cauliflower rice and extra spinach

Shrimp, Peas, and “Rice”

A surplus stock of frozen jumbo shrimp inspired this “Fish Thursday” dish… and girl, I am glad about that!

My mods: I’m subbing confetti rice, a colorful blend cauliflower, broccoli, and carrot, in place of the called-for grain

Pair it with: roasted lemon parmesan broccoli

Snacks

Cottage Cheese Power Bowl

Spoon out a base of 1/2 cup cottage cheese and let your fridge and pantry inspire the rest. If you’re afraid cottage cheese isn’t your thing… make sure you try it first! May I suggest Good Culture or Nancy’s? If it’s still not your thing, opt for greek yogurt or ricotta, instead!

Pair it with: sweet fresh or frozen berries nuts and nut butter (maybe even a piece of dark chocolate or sprinkle of cacao nibs!) or savory tomato, cucumber and bell pepper with olives and basil (go crazy with a balsamic drizzle!)

Bistro Box

I like to mix and match my snacks bistro-box style. All you need is protein, fiber, and fat!

Protein: deli meat slices, smoked salmon, hard boiled egg, canned tuna, chicken slices, yogurt or cottage cheese

Fiber: raw crunchy veggies (snap peas, celery, carrots, bell pepper, zucchini) or fresh berries (blue, black, straw, or rasp)

Fat: cheese wedges, nuts, nut butter, avocado, or olives

Featured

Week of Eats Holiday Edition

If you think the long anticipated arrival of The Holidays (you know, the capital-letter week-and-a-half of Christmakwanzakuh celebrations) stops this sister from planning her meals… you don’t know me as well as I thought.

When social commitments are crowding the calendar leaving little resemblance of routine to be found, mapping out my (color-coded, time-blocked, hyperlinked) menu makes room for all the things that fill me up (like food, friends, and family) and reduces those things that weigh me down (like stress, scrambling, and inefficiencies).

Scroll on to read all about my approach to planning around – and for – The Holidays!

Plan practically.

A plan that isn’t practical – or flexible – isn’t feasible. Be sure to plug in an at-a-glance view of your schedule so that you have a clear view of how your plan will come into practice. This step will answer questions like: How many meals do you actually need? Where and when are you eating away from home (and can you contribute a dish)? How often are you cooking and how often are you being served? Where do you need to pack snacks for the road?

Keep a well-stocked fridge, freezer, and pantry… and use it.

A sporadic schedule is the perfect time to pull together simple meals from your Staple Stock Ups and make a little room for a refill. If you’ve always got eggs in the fridge, cauli rice and peas in the freezer, and coconut oil in the pantry – bam! Cauliflower “Fried Rice.” Grab chicken sausage and cauliflower rice from the freezer, your favorite pasta from the pantry, and sauce from the fridge and – voila! Marinara bowl.

I’m putting this into practice this week by whipping up a batch of my Spinach Artichoke Chicken n’ Cauli Casserole (still need a better name for that mouthful). I have artichokes in my pantry, cottage cheese, mozzarella, and cauliflower (I always buy an extra) in my fridge, and scooped up spinach to complete the dish.

Mix up your prep personality.

Take on the traits of a Big-Batch Prepster and cook up complete containers of casseroles, soups, and stews that you can dip into at a moments notice. Just reheat and eat! Or, channel the Mix-n-Match Maker by preparing individual components of meals that you can compose on the fly.

Like the true Gemini I am, I’ll be opting for a little bit of this and a little of that. The Mix-n-Match Maker in me is cooking up beef, rice, and veggies (Bonus! these are also items I have in my Staple Stock Up) for Mo to assemble to his tastebuds content and the Big-Batch Prepster in me is tossing the fixings for a Chicken Marsala Soup in the InstantPot, ready for the sippin’.

Go with what you know.

You’re giving out as much energy as you are gifts this week, and you don’t need to be squeezing out the last drop sweating over the stove. Set yours up for success (and satisfaction!) by dropping your favorite repEAT recipes into rotation.

I’ll be implementing this with my Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake, Spinach Artichoke Chicken and Cauliflower Casserole, and Egg Cups with Breaky Brussels n’ Onion a la fitlicity!

No prep, no problem.

Lean on items that require low-to-no prep to build snack-style or bistro-box meals. Think hard boiled eggs, smoked salmon, and deli meat or dairy like greek yogurt and cottage cheese for protein, raw crunchy veggies like snap peas, carrots, and baby bell pepper for fiber, and nuts, cheese, or olives for fat. Charcuterie Board for one? Count. Me. In.

Get freezer friendly.

As much as we can color-code and hyperlink our lives, plans change. *ahem, see point one* Stay one step ahead and plan to minimize food waste and maximize your grocery spend by preparing meals that can be frozen if they don’t get finished.

That’s precisely why I planned this Chicken Marsala Soup.

Share your Love Language.

Use time with family and friends to serve up the things that serve you and invite your support system to share in the flavors (and nutrients!) you love. Offer to contribute salads, sides of veggies, or yes – charcuterie boards, to The Holiday spread.

I’ll be assembling a Cobb Salad for my mom’s Christmas Brunch and a seasonal Pear and Pomegranate Salad and roasted Brussels n’ Onion a la fitlicity for Mo’s family.

Plus, I’ll be packaging up some Truffle and Rosemary Roasted Nuts and tying ’em with a pretty ribbon for a gift that keeps on giving (until the jar is finished, that is).

Featured

Under (Food) Pressure

It seems like you just watched Hocus Pocus for the twelfth time in twenty-four hours and already, The Holidays are upon us… bringing with them parties a plenty with friends that feel like family and family that feels like… well, family. Amidst good conversation and genuine connection are abundant apps, snacks of snacks, and tempting treats that leave our hearts, plates, and bellies full, fuller, and fullest.

But what happens when – gathered ’round the charcuterie board or seated at the dining table – someone makes what’s on (or off) your plate, their prerogative? Whether a curious inquisition or a snarky snipe, commentary about your eating choices may leave you feeling anything less than merry this holiday season. Here’s how to deal:

Before we begin, a disclaimer.

It goes without saying (but I’ll write it anyway) that even if you’re striving to live a healthy lifestyle and tend to be very thoughtful about your food choices, it’s okay to engage with food containing little nutritional value in whatever context is appropriate for your individual wants, needs, and goals. For you, the holistically-healthy choice may be enjoying a piece of candy or cake free of guilt. Or, it may be saying “no thank you” in a demonstration of developing discipline. Whatever it is, make sure what you’re serving yourself is serving you – body, brain, and belly.

We may choose to engage (or not to engage) with a food for several reasons, from personal preference to specific goals to ethical beliefs to allergies and beyond. Of all the things that belong on our plate, peer pressure is not one of them.

To eat the cake or not to eat the cake is not the question – but either way, you’re gonna hear about it. So, let’s strategize some effective responses to navigate Nutrition Nudgers.

First, make sense of the motive.

If you ask me, there are three reasons a “Food Pusher” may have something to say about your eating choices:

  1. Genuine Love & Care: For Aunt MaryPat, cooking enough meatballs & gravy (or is it sauce?) to feed an army is the ultimate expression of love. Keeping the people she cares about “well-fed” (maybe by way of calories, but not so much nutrients) by questioning whether or not you’ve eat yet before both feel are the door or suggesting – or straight up serving – seconds before you’ve cleared your plate makes her feel fulfilled. She means well, and that means you might feel badly about offending her…
  2. Curiosity: Your coworker Jane sees you happily munching through your colorfully-packed tupperware each day at lunch while she stares solemnly into a styrofoam take-out container. She’s been prime witness to your progress from how your productivity has increased to how your clothes are fitting, and she wants in! Don’t get your guard up! Jane might come off like she’s making a back-handed remark when in reality, she’s totally inspired by you.
  3. Pride: With all of the Diet fads floating around, one of your family members or friends is bound to be testing the trends, and they aren’t afraid to share it – after all, they lost 3 pounds! Your cousin Carla who’s “mostly Keto” will probably be the first to side-eye you for spooning some pickled beets onto your plate, but she’ll be the first to over-justify her slice of pumpkin pie at the end of the night.
  4. Insecurity: The girl you later refer to as “That B****” when you call your bestie to tell her what went down at your boyfriend’s cousin’s sister’s Friendsgiving is probably jealous of you. Or, what she thinks she knows of you based on your eating choices. Beneath the brash, she’s insecure about her own habits and decisions, and she wants to make you feel badly so that she can feel just a little bit better. It’s unfortunate, but remember – her words speak more about her character than yours.

Once you know who you’re dealing with, choose your tactic.

  1. Gratitude: Express your gratitude to Aunt MaryPat in your own way, something meaningful and tangible that doesn’t necessarily translate to unwanted food on your plate or in your belly. Start with how grateful you are for her thoughtful and sure-to-be delicious preparation. If the pushing persists, don’t be afraid to ask for her love and care on your terms, as well. After all, it’s these motives that are at the heart of her actions. Tell Aunt MaryPat that, while you absolutely love her meatballs & gravy – they’re the best in the world! – you’ve had your fill. Or let her know that, right now, you’ve made a commitment to your nutrition and would really appreciate her support in honoring your current priorities. That way, she can feel she served her purpose of caring for you, without serving you unwanted food. Plus, maybe she’ll even be inspired to whip up a delicious and nutritious meal for the next time you stop by.
  2. Education: Get curious right back and ask Jane what’s been going on in her life. Has she started a new exercise routine? Is the thinking about making some changes to her diet? Has she ever tried brussels sprouts? Be a catalyst for change from a totally supportive, I’ve been there, I get it, type of way. No need to lay down the dogmatic law with Jane. She’s not quite ready to hire a Nutritionist and get under a barbell, but with the right encouragement she’s well on her way. To get there, she needs empathy and a real deal, authentic role model. Feel free to share some healthy hints (or maybe even a bite of your snack?!) when she seems to pry. This could be the start of a brand new fit-friendship!
  3. Neutrality: Stay in your lane, sister, and don’t forget to celebrate cousin Carla’s success, no matter what your knowledge tells you about her tactics. Much like religion an politics, Nutrition Dogma doesn’t belong at the dinner table. Change the subject and do you, boo!
  4. Assertiveness: For someone who’s rarely at a loss for words, “That B****” won’t know quite how to respond when you politely lay down the facts. The straight-forward strategy will have her reconsidering her – and your – confidence while you move right along.

Above all else, remember that the actions you take to respect yourself, your values, and your priorities do not require justification or validation.

Featured

Week of Eats .010

The boy is back in tooooown!

ICYMI: Mo was traveling all week, leaving me and sweet Baby G to eat to our heart’s savory desires. Despite being an introvert (yes, actually) who relates to the lyrics of Ariana Grande’s *bop*, NASA on a personal level, I am more than ready for my partner to come home. And his return means… back to planning meals for two that not only meet both of our caloric and nutrient needs, but our preferences, too.

On an unrelated note, the first day of fall is officially this Monday, September 23! While I finally feel like I have seasonal permission to put fall flavors and soups, stews, and casseroles into my plan, temps are still hovering in the 80s here in the Philadelphia ‘burbs, so I’m gonna stick to some lighter, warm-weather fare… for now.

No surprise here: Spatchcock Chicken is staying in rotation! This week, I’m doing it up with a lemon-herb ghee marinade and pairing with roasted baby broccoli and brussels, all drizzled with a sure to be delicious caramelized onion and mushroom gravy.

I’m easing into the fall flavors with this One Pan Pork Loin with Brussels and Apples. It looked entirely too delicious, nutritious, and easy to pass by, and totally speaks my palate love language! I’ll be adding a side of my very own Cauliflower Mash (which I now steam in the InstantPot!) to take the cozy rating on this dish from a 10 to an 11.

One of my favorite repEAT dishes, I’ll be grilling up Tandoori marinated chicken thighs to pair with Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower and a hearty bed of greens.

I got very excited to put this Korean Beef Bowl on my menu when I stumbled upon a few variations of inspiration. I’ll be searing sirloin steak from The Simple Grocer with a Korean stir-fry sauce and plating (bowling?) with a bed of shredded cabbage, cauliflower rice, and home-pickled veggies! My inspiration is coming from the Cook Once, Eat All Week cookbook!

Another product of my recent The Simple Grocer order, I’ll be grilling up Pederson’s Green Chili Cheese Sausage and shrimp and pairing with grilled bell pepper and cauliflower “grits,” just like this recipe!

Here’s how it’s all playing out in my Meal Plan, breakfast and snacks included!

Featured

Week of Eats .009

Contrary to popular belief, Labor Day Weekend does not mark the changing of seasons. In fact, the first day of Autumn falls on September 23. So, another week of summery recipes for this gal!

Even though I waited until what felt like the eleventh hour to fill in this week’s meal plan, the usual ~*flow*~ took over and the dEATS were decided before the clock struck 3 pm and grilled zucchini squash turned back into pumpkin spice 😉

I told y’all that Spatchcock Chicken would be a staple on my menu for the foreseeable future, and I wasn’t lyin’! This particular preparation of a whole chicken, in which the backbone is removed, produces the most flavorful tender meat and crispy skin. Plus, it leave me with the perfect amount of protein to whip up a few easy-to-assemble, low-to-no cook Fridge Clean Out meals when the weekend rolls ’round. You can find instructions here, or pick up a deboned bird from Whole Foods! This week, I’ll be serving it with a spinach and arugula salad spread of grilled peach and prosciutto and a side of baby broccoli (or, as I’m writing this, I’m debating brussels… I don’ have a lot of brussels planned and I love my brussels…)

ButcherBox bring Ground Beef for life! I’m transforming it into one of my all-time favorite, super simple repEAT meals: Sloppy Joe! It’s a taste that transports me right back to childhood, eating what we christened “Sloppy Moms.” Equally delicious and likely way more nutritious (Sorry, Mom, I have no idea what you put in between your buns). I follow this recipe, usually experimenting slightly based on what sauces and such I have on hand at the time of culinary conception. My portion will be plated bowled a top oodles of zoodles and served up with a side salad.

You never know when meal inspo will strike, and I’m pretty (100%) sure I flagged this Chicken Satay Cauliflower Rice Bowl during a 4:45 a.m. Instagram scroll, before hitting the gym but after my daily selfie-shimmy. What? You don’t search for recipes before sunrise? Weird…

I have a surplus of fresh parsley and cilantro on my shelves. Don’t let wilting herbs go to waste! This is the perfect time to blend up a Chimichurri Sauce to compliment your favorite protein and veggies! For me, it’ll pair with Sirloin filets, an heirloom tomato and shallot salad and Golden Jicama Fries, my favorite way to prepare my new favorite ultra fibrous root veggie.

ICYMI, Mo has a Friday ritual of grabbing lunch with coworkers to as the culmination of a successful workweek passed, which leaves me with the challenge opportunity of planning a Thursday dinner with just enough servings for two and assembling leftovers for a Friday fridge clean-out lunch. For my fam, this is the perfect occasion to make a dent in our weekly seafood quota since, in my opinion, fish, shrimp, and shellfish is often best eaten fresh off-the-grill or out-the-oven (I mean… I’ll do it, but no one really wants to be the one microwaving fish in the office). I only hope that my attempt at this Sicilian Style Salmon recipe with vibrant tomato, crispy broccoli, and briny olives is as beautiful as this photo. Intimidated by cooking your own salmon? Been there! Pro tip: use an air fryer for a perfect salmon filet (wild caught, skin on – the only way) every time. Season, rub with just a dash of your favorite oil (avocado or EVOO), and place skin-side down in your air fryer, cooking for 8 minutes at 400. Flip (carefully, keep that skin in tact) and go for another 2 to get the outside ultra crispy.

The Bonus! meal this week is courtesy of a weekend trip to my family mountain house with friends! One of my ButcherBox 5lb pork butts is making the 3 hour journey so that I can offer up an a la carte Pulled Pork spread. Bowls or buns, the fam and friends will be able to take their pick! This InstantPot recipe will make that marbled butt (actually, the top of the leg) the star of the show, and I’ll be serving up a ton of supporting sides from slaw to salad to brussels!

Check out how it all comes together across the week, below and stay tuned for how it pans out (get it, like pots and pans?) on my stories daily! Also, I added fun emojis to my plan this week during a rare moment of procrastination. You. Are. Welcome.

Featured

Week of Eats .006

If you’ve been following me for some (any) time, you’ve probably caught on by now that I don’t dine out – or take-out – too frequently. If I had to guess, I’d say I typically purchase a restaurant prepared meal two-to-three times per month. A steep decline in average over the past four years of shaping my lifestyle. It’s not that I have anything against a good ol’ menu meal, I just have created the habit of planning and prepping my food for the week (that’s why you’re here reading this, right?!). And when the weekend rolls ’round, I enjoy cooking-up culinary concoctions that I like to call “fridge clean-out” or “fridge-foraging” meals (keep scrollin’, more on that later). I can’t stand to waste not only the fresh produce I’m privileged to have access to, but the money, time, and energy I spend purchasing and preparing it. Alas, the importance of planning! If I am dining out, I make sure to build it right into my schedule to prevent waste of any kind, and set myself up for success. And apparently, when I do dine out, I do it three times in one week… Sroll on to see how I’m supporting a super social schedule with a week of nutritious eats. 

When I first took on a larger role in Mo’s nutrition by preparing his work-week meals, I restructured my planning methodology in such a way that dinner leftovers become the following day’s lunch. However, I soon realized this strategy meant having leftovers locked and loaded from Sunday supper – a time when Mo and I typically eat separate dishes (at the same time huddled around our binge-worthy series of the moment) – or planning a two-portion standalone meal for Monday lunch. It boggled my brain…. until I started shifting the way I viewed my meal plan. I’ve adapted my previous Monday-Sunday grid to a Sunday-Saturday timeframe. Much easier on the noggin. I digress. This week, I took the standalone meal approach, because cravings told me I absolutely wanted a packed plate of Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole paired with “cheesy” brussels sprouts Sunday evening (check my post soon for my method!).

What’s that standalone meal you ask? Typically, I make use easy-to-portion protein like chicken sausage or shrimp to avoid unnecessary leftovers. This household also happens to have those options stocked in our freezer at a ll times, so it makes for a low-to-no spend meal. This week, I’m bringing back an old fave: my Cauliflower Arancini Bowl! I’ll be prepping a batch with real-deal white rice for Mo, and maintaining that cauliflower for myself.

ICYMI, I ordered Amazon Prime Whole Foods delivery for the first time last week to support myself during a super busy time. It was a great experience and absolutely helped me to maximize my schedule, but I would have made a few minor adjustments such as, picking a larger broccoli crown, a smaller jicama root, and not being forced to purchase 2 lbs of chicken thigh when I only needed ~1.5. This ramble is to tell you that I had an extra pack of chicken thigh in my fridge that wasn’t quite enough for four servings, but too much for two. So, I’m using that easy to portion protein again to make some Grilled Tandoori Shrimp & Chicken Kebobs. I use this recipe for my marinade. I’ll be pairing it with a tahini-dressed roasted salad of kale, cauliflower, red onion and date, tossing on some cucumber, tomato, and feta, and topping it with a lemon-dill dip, and garnishing it all with mint from my herb garden, of course.

One of my top tips to make meal planning simple is keep a list of 3-5 go-to repEAT favorites for each meal, and bring them into circulation when inspiration is lacking, schedules are wonky, or hey, just ’cause! There’s no need to reinvent the flavor wheel each week. So, one of Mo’s most-loved flavors made it’s way onto the menu this week – Egg Roll Bowl. I’ve tried a few variations of this popular better-for-you remake, and this recipeis my personal fave. I’m serving it with a sesame ginger roasted broccoli, snap pea, and carrot medley and perhaps some cauliflower “fried rice“.

This Lemon-Dill Breaky Box has been the soundtrack to my portable breakfast summer. It’s a super-low-almost-assembly-only prep. Here’s how to build yours!

  1. Prepare your dip (Yields 1 Serving)
    • 2/3 cup non-fat, plain greek yogurt (that’s 1 individually packaged cup, or ~150g)
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 tsp dill
    • Optional: shake of salt and garlic powder
      Pro-Tip: Mix it right in the individual yogurt container for no clean up!
  2. Add EGGstra 😉 protein with a perfectly jammy hard boiled egg
    • Pro-Tip:For the perfectly jammy egg, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. AFTER water comes to a boil, carefully add eggs by placing into pot with a spoon and continue to boil for ~7 minutes. Remove the same way, gently with a spoon, and transfer immediately to an ice bath for ~8-10 minutes. Store in-shell in the fridge for 5-7 days. Stressed about cracked eggs? Let them come to room temperature before boiling as an extra precaution if you please.
  3. Fill it out with veggies
    • Sliced mini bell pepper
    • Sliced baby cucumber
    • Snap peas
    • Tomato
    • Jicama sticks
    • Carrot
  4. Top it off with some favorable fat
    • Smoked salmon
    • Nuts of choice
    • 1 mini cheese

And for this week’s bonus, I present… the Fridge Clean-Out Meal, also known on the ‘gram as “fridge foraging”. How many times have you stood in front of your fridge, freezer, and pantry and sighed, **I have nothing to eat** only to then order something less-than-nutritious on speed-dial? Chances are, between leftover prep or unused produce and your kitchen stock, you have a ton of options waiting to be paired together, you just need a little creativity!

  1. Start with the base. I’ve always got these things stocked:
    • Fridge: surplus salad greens
    • Freezer: cauliflower rice
    • Freezer: cauliflower pizza crust
    • Pantry: go-to grains or legumes
  2. Pick the protein. At any moment, you can find these items in my kitchen:
    • Fridge: eggs – quick and easy!
    • Fridge: greek yogurt
    • Freezer: chicken sausage, shrimp, fish
    • Pantry: canned tuna, canned salmon
  3. Identify the toppings. I typically find something like this during a forage:
    • Fridge: leftover veggies – even if they look like they’re on their last leg – you won’t notice after a proper roast!
    • Fridge: surplus fruitFridge: cheese!
    • Freezer: frozen veggies, frozen fruit
    • Pantry: nuts and seeds/nut and seed butters
  4. Determine the flavor profile. I always have one of these to choose from on the shelves:
    • Fridge: marinara, dressings, fave sauces
    • Freezer: herb cubes, ginger cubes

Here’s a look at how it’s all coming together in my plan:

Eat on, fam!