#KatiesKitchen: Fancy Dinner Feature

Monday night, I had the best time doing “Lower Fix” 21 Day Fix workout with my friend Katie Uze! 30 minutes with Autumn has nothing on us! After our workout, we created a delicious and healthy dinner together to refuel…. when I say delicious I mean DELICIOUS.

I honestly can’t say enough wonderful things about Katie, but we’ll start with that she is one of the most compassionate, caring, and persistant human beings I’ve ever met. About a year ago, Katie and I expressed the same concern to each other about our lack of cooking ability. We didn’t quite know exactly where to start and weren’t too comfortable branching out other than creating salads, omelets, and pizzas. The bare basics of survival. 🙂 But we WANTED to grow and learn more.

Over time, we’ve both made a concerted effort to try different recipes or at least to LEARN a few meals we can pull out easily and start to create our own variations on.

Since then, Katie has seriously taken flight with her food adventures! I have LOVED seeing all of her amazing looking creations and healthy meal pics on Instagram and Facebook of the variety of meals she has prepared. I’m honored that I was able to join her for dinner to watch her work her magic!

—>The dinner we made consisted of:

+Pesto genovese chicken breast

+Katie’s take on healthy zucchini fries

+Maple mashed sweet potatoes. (our favorite!!!)

ZUCCHINI FRIES by Katie

Prep:

(1) Preheat oven to 425 and prepare a baking sheet by covering it with foil and placing 2 wire cooling racks on top. (I just used one and you could skip the cooling racks all together too)

(2) Cut zucchini into “fries” however thick you like. I quartered them then halved each quarter to make about 8 per zucchini (and then sliced a few bigger ones in half again)

Katie's Kitchen

(3) In a large gallon size ziplock bag, combine 1/4 cup almond meal and 1/8 teaspoon salt

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset(4) In a wide, shallow bowl, beat one egg with 1tbsp water

(5) In a second wide, shallow bowl combine 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese with 1tbsp Italian seasoning blend

Assembly Line:

(1) Put the zucchini in the ziplock bag and seal. Shake the bag to coat the zucchini in the almond meal and salt mixture

SHAKE(2) One by one, take the almond meal coated zucchini fries out of the bag and dip them in the egg and then the Parmesan Italian seasoning mixture. (be sure you smile like this when you shake the bag!)

(3) Once coated, place each on on the wire cooking rack (or straight on the baking sheet if not using a cooling rack. I think the cooling rack just helps the zucchini not stick to the foil and also allows hot air to circulate so the bottoms aren’t soggy and are more crispy and less of the “breading” sticks to the baking sheet and stays on the zucchini)

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset(4) Once all the zuchinni fries are prepared, place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until they start to lightly brown. If you like them a little more crispy like me, broil them an extra 3-5 minutes after baking.

Let cool and enjoy!

Also that is for about 1lb of zucchini. As you saw, if you use more zucchini like I did, you’ll need to adjust amounts accordingly- mainly the Parmesan, Italian mixture

Because it is a process, I just prefer to go ahead and fill the whole baking sheet and have leftovers 🙂

PESTO GENOVESE CHICKEN:

Marinate (overnight if possible) in pesto alla genovese, basil powder, garlic powder, onion powder, romano cheese, and a little oregano and parsley.

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Add some olive oil to your pan and sauté the chicken on med-high heat for roughly 10 minutes, as you occasionally flip the chicken over. We cut the thick chicken breast into smaller pieces so it would cook faster and then we could be sure to see that it was done.

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MASHED SWEET POTATOES: 

Ingredients:

ingredients for potatoes

3 lbs of sweet potatoes, or about 4-5 individual sweet potatoes (serves 6)

1 Tablespoon of Butter

1/4 Cup of Pure Maple Syrup

1/4 Teaspoon of ground Cinnamon

1/2 Teaspoon of Salt

1 Tablespoon of Coconut Milk

Prep:

(1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. About an hour before you start making the other parts of this meal, put the sweet potatoes in the oven to bake for the hour on a baking sheet. We had them bake while working out!

(2) Remove from the oven. Let cool for about 5 minutes.

(3) Combine above ingredients into a bowl and whisk together.

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(4) Split the potatoes in half and scoop the insides into the bowl. Discard the skins (unless you like to eat them)

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(5) Mashed all together and serve warm!

FINISHED PRODUCT: (graphic by @MissKatieU)

Katie's Kitchen ...

Not all Bars are Created Equal

If you know anything about me, I’m a BAR kind of person. Not the bar for drinks, but the “grab and go” rectangularly shaped conglomeration of food! These snacks are awesome so you don’t find yourself hungry and grabbing for junk, but make sure you take a look at the nutrition label, or you could find yourself mistaken when you think you’re helping your health and you’re actually feeding it chemicals.

As a society, we LOVE convenience and we need portion control… bars can be a great way to have both! There are so many out there, but I’m going to just tell you my opinion about a few that I’ve tried. Rule of thumb is to at least LOOK at the label and see if you feel comfortable and confident consuming it, and always consider REAL food the best option for meals. 🙂

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THE GOOD: 

LARA BARS

These are likely the cleanest general type bar out on the market and still tasty, made with 100% whole food and they typically contain only 4 or 5 ingredients. You just have to be sure to balance sugar intake for the rest of the day as they use dates as the primary ingredient. They’re high sugar, but it’s good sugar from food at least instead of added or artificial sugar. These are great for lifestyle purposes to keep you full between meals and are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, non GMO, Vegan and Kosher. Calories are around 200.

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QUEST BARS

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Quest Bars! I can’t get enough of the taste. These are the cleanest PROTEIN type bar with 20g of protein, 17g of Fiber, and 1g of sugar.  They are sweetened with Stevia and freeze-dried fruit, and come in SO many flavors. MY favorite being Chocolate Chip cookie dough (which you can put in the microwave for a few seconds and pretend you’re eating warm actual cookie dough…) If you’re not meeting your daily fiber intake, like most Americans, or need post-workout protein, this is your jam. You can also make tons of other delicious “desserts” with the bars 🙂

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Mini CLIFF BARS

These are organic and natural, but less of a every day snack and more for high performance workouts, energy and recovery. The sugar and carbs in it are often used for endurance runners and are SUPER FILLING, like mini-meal status. They’re non-GMO and made with organic rolled oats. I say mini, because the regular ones have upwards of 250 calories, whereas the minis stick around 100 and are a better snack option.

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KIND BARS

This is another type of “nut” bar, usually under 200 calories and often include seeds like chia/flax and added vitamins. These are also non-GMO and have very few ingredients (depending on the flavor). They are sweetened with honey and dried fruit, but just be a little more careful of the ones with chocolate added 🙂

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THE BAD:

SPECIAL K

This is known to be the quintessential “dieting bar” and brand. I even used to eat them in early college when I was fooled by their marketing techniques! For a very low calorie bar, they sure have over 50 different ingredients. High Fructose Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Artificial flavor, soy lecithin, soy protein isolate, trans fat, processed rice… not even worth the empty calories.

POWER BAR

Guess what the number one ingredient in this energy bar is? Sugar. That’s right, there’s more sugar in this bar than anything else. And there’s less than one gram of fiber. You might as well have a candy bar! NO NO NO. Remember how highly addictive sugar is HERE in my post “Sugar is Killing Us”. Don’t be fooled just because something says “PROTEIN” on the wrapper.

Nutrigrain Bars 

High Fructose Corn Syrup… need I say more? I’m not sure why these were like the breakfast of champions when I was growing up, but they’re nothing but enriched processed flour and fake fruit filling. Not a great way to start the day. They also have red #1 and blue #1 colorings which are known to cause several illnesses.

Think Thin 

It’s hard to “think thin” when you’re eating a bar with more saturated fat than the American Heart Association recommends. This energy bar also has SO MUCH sodium (like 300g) and is heavy on the SOY (look for WHEY as a higher quality option). These DO have 20g of protein and are 230 calories.

Chicken Quesadilla

This isn’t a mind blowing recipe. I recognize that it’s pretty basic, but I aim for healthy, quick and easy; the less stress the better. And I know there has to be someone out there who just wants an idea for a healthy weekend lunch, like we had after church today when we came home starving.

Turkey sandwiches for weekend lunches in the first few months of marriage got really old. Lately, we have switched to this delicious tortilla to use for wraps and quesadillas.

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Quesadillas are a great way to sneak in veggies and is the perfect example of why I try to always have some extra baked chicken in the fridge for when the moment of hunger strikes.

1. I used Roasted Red Pepper Hummus as a spread, which provides a little healthy fat and extra protein.

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2. I piled on as much organic spinach, kale, and chard (they came together in a bag) as I could fit! Then I cut up a few grape tomatoes we had in the fridge, and also cut up half of a chicken breast. Feel free to add any other vegetables you have!

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3. We had some shredded sharp cheddar cheese (say that 3 times fast) in the fridge so I lightly sprinkled that on top before heating. I bet feta or goat cheese would have also tasted wonderful!

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4. I LOVE using our George Foreman grill, so I grilled it on there for about 4-5 minutes. You can also throw it in the oven for 10 minutes, or even the microwave for a minute, but it won’t be as crispy obviously. For my husband who needs more calories, I fill an entire tortilla for the bottom and put another one on top so I can fill with more chicken and veggies.

ENJOY!!

XO,

Ro

Banana Protein Muffins

WARNING…these muffins are addicting 🙂

I used to go on late night WaWa runs in college where I’d eat 2 huge muffins before I even walked back to my dorm. Needless to say, I love muffins. I’ve loved having these as little low-calorie healthier substitute option that are a lot more moist and thick than a regular muffin. Sorry for those of you that like really fluffy!

If you want to be 100% sure they are gluten free, you can leave out the baking soda, they just won’t rise as much. (or buy gluten free baking soda, but I didn’t have any on hand, and it’s only a small amount)

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Ingredients 

7 Tablespoons of Coconut Flour

5 Eggs

2 Mashed Bananas

1 scoop or pouch of Vanilla Protein/Shakeology

1 mini cup of Applesauce (4oz)

2 Teaspoons of Baking Soda

1 Teaspoon of Honey

2 Teaspoons of Vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees and spray muffin tins with non-stick spray. They are sticky!

2. Mix all ingredients into large bowl. Let sit for around 10 minutes. It took my bananas a little while to soften and mix evenly.

3. Pour mixture into muffin tins. It should fill one tray: 12 muffins.

4. Bake for 20 minutes and then let cool for 5 minutes or so. Store in a container on the counter for grab and go during the week!

ENJOY!

XO,

Ro

Peanut Butter Protein Balls: The yummiest little snack

For all you peanut butter fans out there… this one is for you! A couple of these are perfect for a post-workout snack, or a very filling little sweet after a meal. My husband says it’s like eating a peanut butter cup without the excessive sugar.

As all my recipes are, this  one has to be the easiest to make yet!

Total prep time-just 5 minutes!

You need: 

  • 6 Dates or 4 Medjool Dates. If you don’t have a heavy duty blender, you may want to push out the pits inside of the dates before you put them in to the mix.

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  • 1 scoop (25g) Natural Protein Powder (whatever you have is probably fine! This is what I had in the cabinet leftover from last year. I used Vanilla, but next time I’m going to try with Chocolate Shakeology to get the Chocolate Peanut Butter taste).

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  • 4 tablespoons Crunchy or Natural Peanut Butter. As a warning, this ends up being nearly half of your jar! I had just enough left.

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  • 2 teaspoons Chia Seeds. My NutriBullet ground them up pretty well at the same time with everything else, but you may want to grind them first a little bit if you don’t want the texture coming out in the protein balls.

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Put all the ingredients into a blender, food processor, or I just used our Nutribullet. After a couple of quick pulses, the mixture was already soft and not sticky. Take the dough and roll into tablespoon size balls.

I put them in the freezer for about 3-5 minutes and took them out to enjoy a couple immediately! I’m planning to have a few in the fridge during the week for a grab and go filler.

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ENJOY!!

XO,

Ro