Sundried Tomato and Basil Egg Muffins

As I continue with the theme of New Year’s resolutions from the last couple weeks, who made a resolution to eat breakfast more often? Breakfast really is important for starting your day on the right foot. If you wait to eat when you’re completely starving around 10am, you’ll find yourself reaching for the greasiest bacon-filled breakfast sandwich, or the sugariest doughnut you can find in a hangry haze. Even if all you can manage is a yogurt cup or a banana, you can bring something more substantial with you on your commute or to eat at work.

This recipe works perfectly for quick and easy breakfasts on the go, and is chock-full of protein, between the eggs and ricotta cheese. I also used fresh basil in this, which could only be made better by being fresh from a pot on the deck in the summer, instead of fresh from a package at the grocery store. When you’re looking for sundried tomatoes, find the ones sealed in a zippered package, not the ones in a jar in oil. You’ll save yourself a lot of fat, but still have all the flavour. I used kitchen scissors to cut both the basil and tomatoes, and that sped up the process even more.

This recipe makes 9 egg muffins. I’ve been eating two per meal with an english muffin to round out the meal.

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Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) light ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) skim milk
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped sundried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped fresh basil
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Grease a muffin tin. Do not skip this step unless you like scrubbing muffin tins.
  3. Crack the eggs into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the ricotta and milk and whisk until light and fluffy.
  4. Divide the egg mixture between 9 holes of the muffin tin. Sprinkle each muffin with sundried tomatoes and basil.
  5. Bake for 18 minutes, or until eggs are completely set.

Muffins can be stored in the fridge and reheated in the microwave as needed for make-ahead breakfasts.

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Chocolate Strawberry Shake

I don’t know what normal people do on Friday night, but I am fairly sure it doesn’t involve meal planning and organizing for weekend food prep and making grocery lists. And yet here I am: Okanagan Dry Pear Cider in one hand and a list of food ideas in the other. I’m cool.

Since I went from working dinner shift hours to working normal people hours, and then decided to tack a CrossFit workout on the end of a long day, I’ve had to adjust how I pack my food for the day and what I take. This is further complicated by the fact that my job involves testing recipes (tough life, I know), so eating weird things at weird times and in weird amounts. I’ve started taking a handful of smaller “mini meals” to work with me that I can eat throughout the day, or leave in the fridge for the next day if I don’t get to them.

Smoothies can be made ahead of time really easily. They just tend to settle out over night, but that can be fixed with a quick stir or shake (provided you have this in a sealed jar or container). I make my entire lunch, this shake included, the night before, store it in a Mason jar, and then keep it in the fridge at work until I want it. I like almond milk, and chocolate almond milk in this case, because it has a nice nutty taste to it. For those who need a dairy-free diet, it’s a good source of calcium. To make this shake dairy-free, use lactose free yogurt instead of the vanilla Greek yogurt and you’re all set.

This recipe makes 1 shake.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup baby spinach, washed
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt (or lactose-free yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate almond milk
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender, Magic Bullet, or the container of an immersion blender. Blend until smooth. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge until you’re ready to drink.

Avocado and Tomato Melt

The last couple weeks have seen an enormous spike in my views on this blog!!! And before we all get excited, all I mean by that is that a handful of people (Hi Mom! Hi former roommates!) looked at it instead of no one, but that also there are some new people checking it out! And that’s pretty cool. If you like what I do, let me know. If you make any of my recipes, let me know how they turn out. And if you’re on the Facebook, check me out riiiiiggghhhhtttt here.

This recipe was more or less inspired by the cheese toast thing my mom used to make when I was little and came home from school for lunch. The twist is that now I’m not six years old and I’ll eat “mixed together food” and put some tomatoes and avocado in it. It’s not a difficult recipe, but it made a perfect lunch when I was stuck at home with the snow last week and couldn’t get to work. For those who are about to say “Avocados are expensive!!! No freaking way!!!”, hang on a sec. I only buy avocados when I can get a bag of five or six of them for less than $4.I think the bag I found this time was $2.99. Otherwise it’s not happening.  And then I eat them like crazy for the five minutes when they’re all ripe at the same time, and then I have to wait for the next time they’re on sale.

This recipe makes 1 little toast, and is perfect for a quick breakfast, cozy lunch with some tea (have you noticed I pair everything with tea?) or a really quick light dinner.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 slice whole wheat bread
  • 1/4 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 medium tomato, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp shredded marble cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Alternatively, this can be done in a toaster oven set to the same temperature.
  2. Cover a baking sheet in tin foil and place the bread on it. Arrange the avocado and tomato slices on it in a single layer and sprinkle with cheese.
  3. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted and the bread is toasted.

Weekend Project: Veggie Broth

Back in the spring, I decided that at some point I wanted to make an enormous batch of veggie broth, and then freeze it to use for soup and all kinds of other yummy things. For starters, I kept calling it “veggie stock” but then did some research and this is incorrect. As a general rule, stocks are liquids that have had bones cooked in them, while broths have had only meat (or in this case veggies) cooked in them. By making my own broth, I would never have to buy prepackaged broth, which has a ton of sodium. I’m reducing food waste and making healthier food all in one go here.

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So to start this project, I grabbed a big freezer Ziploc bag and labeled it as “scraps for veggie broth”. Then every time I had clean vegetable scraps, like the middle of a carrot after using a peeler to shred it, or the end of an onion, or little bits of leftover garlic, I threw them in here. I had some celery tops, and tomato cores, and parsley that was getting close to past it’s prime. Basically anything that was clean, not moldy, and not a bitter vegetable (i.e. no kale, no brussel sprouts) is fair game. What I really liked about this was that it was cutting down my food waste. Instead of throwing out that parsley that was getting a little old, or losing so much of an onion by trimming the ends and peeling, I could just throw them in my freezer bag and know they would be used later. I also started saving any plastic containers I could find at this point. Since the broth was going to be frozen, and I don’t have a magical endless Tupperware, I knew I needed a lot. This meant that every sour cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, or bulk food container that came through the door was washed and saved.

When I decided that there was enough scraps and the bag was full, I grabbed my giant stock pot on a Sunday morning (I’m really fun to hang out with, I swear), put it on the stove, dumped the contents of the freezer bag in it, and then topped it up with water. At this point, I added some herbs and odds and ends to it. I had some bay leaves that probably wouldn’t bring a ton of flavour unless they were simmered for hours: perfect! Ditto for dried basil I’ve had since first year. Same goes for coriander seeds that came from a hand-me-down spice rack one of my roommates decided she didn’t want. Basically anything that wasn’t gross, but wasn’t good for much else went in. I put it on high heat to bring the whole thing to a boil and get it heated through. With such a big pot of water, this does take a long time. Once it came to a boil, I reduced the heat and let it simmer away for the next 6 hours while I went about my day.

After letting the broth simmer, I turned the heat off entirely and let the pot sit for an hour to cool down a little bit before straining. Then, I carefully scooped out some of the bigger pieces of vegetable so they wouldn’t be in the way. Now here’s the fun part: I had to strain all of this liquid and get it into containers to go in the freezer. While a really find sieve would have been perfect for this, I do not have one, and my colander was going to let way too many piece of wayward veggie scrap through. So obviously using a jelly bag was the right idea, right? For each container of broth, I placed the jelly bag just inside the top of the container, and ladled broth through it. This worked really well sometimes, and other times made an enormous mess as I tried to wrestle the container and the jelly bag and vegetable pieces and warm liquid. Next time, I will find myself a sieve for this, and find a way to bring the very heavy and very warm pot closer to the sink. Live and learn.

Finally, once all the containers were full, I let them cool completely, put the lids on, labeled them with the date, and got creative making room for them in the freezer. Now we’re all just waiting to see what I can make with all this! Stay tuned!

Sweet Potato Hash with Baked Eggs

In the last week, I’ve already touched on the fact that almost everyone has a goal to eat healthier in the new year. That’s all well and good, but it’s easier to reach this goal if there are more concrete steps. For example, trying to eat a vegetable at every meal. Or trying to

eat the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Or trying to eat two servings of fish a week. Or trying to eat one dark orange and one dark green vegetable every day. Or packing a lunch to take to work or school three times a week if you normally buy you lunch. By breaking the huge goal of “EAT HEALTHY” down into something that is both measurable, and perfectly achievable, you’ll be able to reach your goals easily.

This recipe contributed to two of the above goals. Sweet potatoes are an easy way to get a vegetable into your breakfast, as well as a dark orange vegetable to start your day off right. You could through some sauteed kale in here and bang out a dark green veggie too, if you’re really super ambitious. Everyone also knows that I love eggs because they are relatively cheap for proteins and very versatile. This recipe does take a little bit of time to make, so it’s not perfect for busy mornings but as an alternative to a big greasy breakfast on Saturday morning? Count me in. The fully cooked whites combined with the seasoned sweet potato, and topped with just a little bit of creamy yellow yolk on top makes this perfect for a cozy snowy morning.

You can grate the sweet potatoes by hand or with a mandoline or whatever works for you. I used this as an opportunity to play with my new food processor like the happy little food geek I am. I grated enough sweet potatoes for this in less than a minute! I am so impressed and excited with this, and can’t wait to see what else I can do!

This recipe makes 2 to 4 servings, depending how hungry you are.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 cups grated sweet potatoes (I used 4 very small ones, 1-2 large ones will do the trick)
  • 2 tsp dry thyme
  • 2 tsp dry rosemary
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • dash of pepper
  1. In a medium skillet, heat the vegetable oil on medium heat. Add the sweet potatoes and spices and stir to combine everything. Let cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are soft and starting to brown
  2. Creat 4 small holes in the sweet potatoes. Crack an egg into each hole. Cover with a lid or large plate. Let cook until the whites are set (4-5 minutes) or longer if you want the whole egg cooked (I wanted just a bit of runny yolk).
  3. Serve sprinkled with a sash of pepper and a big mug of green tea.

 

Taco Spaghetti Squash Skillet

It’s Friday! Getting back into the swing of things after being off for the holidays has been rough for me, and I’m sure for everyone else. I’m exhausted! But I still figured I should get a post in for the end of the week. After switching jobs at the end of November and then going home for Christmas, it’s time to get back into a routine.

If anyone reading this was around for my very first blog post last fall, you’ll know that I’m a huuuuuuuuugggee fan of spaghetti squash. Well mostly, I’m a fan of starchy carby pasta-esque things. Spaghetti squash is a lighter, fibre-filled imposter of those things that just manages to work oh so well. Earlier this week, I made The Kitchn’s Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai which was awesome, but left me with half a spaghetti squash to deal with. So this dish is the brain-child of my mission to make something kinda sorta healthy for supper tonight.

If you like super spicy food, crank up the spices in this, or add some crushed red peppers, Tabasco sauce, or jalapenos. If spice isn’t your thing, use less chili powder, starting with a tiny bit and tasting to make sure it doesn’t end up hotter than your can handle. Also, let’s just check out how nicely this picture is lit, considering it was taken around 6:45 pm, on the kitchen floor. I think I’m on to something here.

This recipe makes 4 servings, which can be nicely reheated in the microwave for a work lunch later.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 spaghetti squash, cut lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 cups canned (or frozen if you’re weird like me) tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • cheese for serving
  1. Place the spaghetti squash, cut side down, in a microwave-safe dish. Add an inch of water and place in the microwave for 10 minutes, or until squash starts to get soft. Carefully remove the squash (IT’S HOT) from the dish and scrape out the “spaghetti” strands form the inside of the squash into a bowl.
  2. While the squash is cooking, heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet and add the beef to brown.
  3. Once beef is cooked, add tomatoes and corn. Stir to combine and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through.
  4. Add the spaghetti squash and spices and still to combine thoroughly.
  5. Serve topped with cheese.

 

Mediterranean Mason Jar Salad

Happy new year everyone!!! Who has made a new year’s resolution? How many of those have to do with healthy eating, or food in some way, shape, or form? Yeah I think that’s a huge chunk of us. This salad will fit into most of those resolutions, since it’s healthy, all vegetarian, packs some protein with the chickpeas, and is a cheap alternative to buying lunch at work or school. And mason jars are super cute. I know mason jar salads are kind of everywhere right now but that’s because they’re super practical. You just layer all your ingredients in, and then tip them out into a bowl at lunch time!

The order you layer stuff in your salad jars matters. Since I put some dressing on the bottom, I wanted to make sure that nothing touching the dressing would get too soggy (hence putting chickpeas on the bottom instead of lettuce). Also, I know that the traditional vinaigrette ratio is 2 or 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, but I find that makes for a greasy salad. And it isn’t really a bad thing that I like my salad with a little bit less fat is it? I did have to google the vinaigrette ratio over Christmas. As of an hour ago, the most recent Google searches in my phone were “vinaigrette ratio”, “low fat alfredo sauce” and “do I need to take the oven racks out of the oven before cleaning it”. Because I am just that cool.

This salad makes 1 serving, and you’ll need a 500 mL mason jar, with a lid, to pack it. Make the night before and store in the fridge until you need it, or try making a bunch ahead of time (do I hear Sunday night meal prep?) so you have grab-and-go lunches all week!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced (or 1 tsp prepared minced garlic to save some chopping)
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tbsp sliced black olives
  • 1/2 a medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 baby cucumber, chopped
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp feta cheese
  • enough shredded lettuce to fill the rest of the jar.
  1. Pour the oil, vinegar, garlic, basil, and oregano into the jar. Put the lid on and shake to combine.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients in order, without mixing the layers. To make sure there isn’t too much air between the ingredients, gently pack everything down as you go.
  3. Seal the jar and get excited for tomorrow’s lunch! Tip the salad out into a bowl when you’re ready to eat!