Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash with Chicken & Feta

Mediterranean spaghetti squash

 

Sometimes I get into a food funk and find myself not eating enough vegetables for a week or two (maybe that’s you all the time). It’s really easy to get out of the vegetable eating routine–you eat sandwiches instead of salads for lunch, and hit up one of your go-to quick meals of macaroni and cheese or pizza a few too many times in a week. Then you make excuses about how you usually eat healthy, and it’s no big deal. Well, not getting in your veggies is a big deal! And it’s never too late to make a few simple swaps to bump up your veggie intake. What helps is having some tasty vegetable-packed recipes that are simple to prepare. I love this Mediterranean spaghetti squash recipe. Normally I would prepare it with whole wheat orzo instead of the spaghetti squash, but like I mentioned before, I was seriously lacking my vegetables. The spaghetti squash instead of pasta was actually a really tasty trade-off, and I ate a bowl full of delicious vegetables!

 

This meal keeps things simple–you can chop up your vegetables while your chicken and squash cook. There is no sauce or dressing to prepare; all the flavor comes from mixing in a few spices. Top the meal off with some feta, and voila, you are done. So no excuses this coming week–eat your vegetables!

 

 

 

No-Bake Cookie Protein Bites

No Bake Cookie Protein Bites

 

It’s a few weeks into the new year, and I’m sure everyone is currently massaging their sore muscles from their new super regiment fitness plan, or if you are me, a “completely doable” marathon training program. Because why shouldn’t I be able to do nothing for two months, and then jump into a rigorous 6 day a week running and cross-training plan and be pain free. Do you want to know what makes my aching muscles feel better? Cookies, delicious chocolatey cookies (and a love/hate relationship with my foam roller). But what goes along with a super lofty new year new you training plan, an equally rigorous and strict diet plan that says NO to all things sweet and delicious. Thankfully, I’m actually pro cookie, and completely against saying no to foods you love. Just because a cookie isn’t kale doesn’t mean you can’t have one!

 

I’ve remedied the cookie isn’t kale dilemma by adapting the basic sugary no bake cookies recipe into one that works as a pre or post workout snack.  It’s higher in protein and healthy fat, and contains just the right amount of carbs to help fuel a workout or recover from one–the magical 3:1 carb to protein ratio. My husband loves to eat a few of these no-bake cookie protein bites before his 5 am exercise sessions. I love to eat 2 or 3 (or 4) after an hour plus run. Feel free to switch up the whey protein powder to a single ingredient vegan protein if you are into that. You could also use agave instead of honey if you want a completely vegan option. Just don’t omit some form chocolate chips, because that would be silly.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Overnight High Protein Oatmeal

overnight oats

 

I feel like the only meals I make now that I have a baby are the ones I can make in bulk or in advance (both if I’m lucky). Overnight oats are a super easy breakfast for anyone who loves oatmeal like I do. I love that I can put together my breakfast the night before, and eat it while the baby plays under her activity mat. This recipe would also be great for mornings when you are on the go. You can easily grab and eat them before work, or take them and eat breakfast at your desk. Overnight oats will keep for several days in the fridge, so sometimes I’ll make a couple days worth at once!

 

There are tons of overnight oatmeal recipes out there, and the only thing I tweaked from this basic overnight oats recipe was increasing the protein content. Instead of using a milk or water as the liquid, I used liquid pasteurized egg whites. I’ve really been on a pasteurized egg white kick lately; they are a great flavorless way to increase the protein content of my smoothies, and now my oatmeal. I even found a cage-free egg whites brand! The egg whites combined with plain Greek yogurt bump up the protein content from a meager 3 grams to 20! And like all oatmeal recipes, there are a ton of flavor combos, so you never will get bored.

 

This has been my go-to summer breakfast before or after a run. I’m training for an extended sprint triathlon (great way to lose baby weight), and I’ve eaten this 30 minutes before a run in the heat with zero stomach issues. Plus, cold oatmeal in the summer is super satisfying. I was a little skeptical of eating it cold, but it’s delicious!

 

overnight oats2

 

 

 

Weekly Smoothie Prep with Recipes!

Freezer smoothies

 

I think it’s appropriate that my first blog post back after having a baby be about preparing a healthy meal like breakfast quickly–like as fast as possible before the tiny human starts crying again. I used to think that the requirements for making a smoothie were easy enough without prepping anything ahead of time, but now I realize that it could be a lot faster. So for those of you who have kids, or just don’t like waking up 5-10 minutes earlier to prep all the ingredients for a smoothie, then this post is for you.

 

sleeping

Passed out after a good meal

It takes roughly 30 minutes on the weekend to assemble these smoothie bags, and then you will have a super nutritious breakfast ready in no time flat during the work week. It’s totally worth it. I pre-assembled all of my smoothie ingredients minus the liquids, which means that in the morning all I have to do is add my milk and protein of choice to the blender with my frozen smoothie pack–breakfast pronto! If I can do it with a 6 week old, you can do it too! Although you probably don’t need to blend the smoothie in the bathroom with the door closed to keep from waking your child who naps next to the kitchen! Thankfully she can sleep through almost anything!

 

I make my smoothies with a rough formula of 1 1/2 cups fruit, a healthy fat, a vegetable, optional grain like oats, a liquid, and a protein. There are a lot of smoothie recipes out there with 3 or 4 pieces of fruit in them, which in my professional opinion is too many carbs for a breakfast drink. I like to spread my fruit out throughout the day for a healthy energy boost when I need it. For my liquid I usually do skim milk, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, or unsweetened vanilla coconut milk, but you can use your favorite! I rarely think the flavor of a smoothie is changed much by the type of milk I use. For protein I’ve recently been using cage-free pasteurized egg whites–they add zero taste and a lot of great lean protein. Plain Greek yogurt, low fat cottage cheese, and plain protein powder are all also great options!

 

For all the smoothies you will need a quart-sized plastic bag, and a marker to write what is in your smoothie and what you need to add before blending–so you don’t forget! Feel free to make substitutions based on your taste preferences. It really doesn’t matter if you use chia seeds instead of flax seeds, or almond milk instead of soy milk, or protein powder instead of egg whites. Store smoothie bags in the freezer until you are ready to drink them!

 

smoothieprepbags

 

5 days of smoothies:

The Cinnamon Apple: 1 1/2 cups chopped apples (about 2 small), 1/2 cup baby carrots, handful of spinach or other leafy green, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp chia seeds

Add: 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese or protein of choice, and enough almond milk for blending (generally 1-1.5 cups)

This is a greener tasting smoothie–so if you aren’t used to green smoothies you may want to add a tbsp of honey or agave to your smoothie

The StrawBananaCado: 1 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen), 1/2 sliced banana, 1/2 small avocado, 1 handful spinach, 1/4 cup oats, 1 tbsp chia seeds

Add: 1/3 cup liquid pasteurized egg whites or protein of choice, and enough almond milk for blending (generally 1-1.5 cups)

The Berry Good Breakfast: 1 1/2 cups frozen mixed berries (like strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries), 1/4 cup oats, 1/2 cubed small avocado, 1 handful spinach, 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds,

Add: 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese or protein of choice, and enough almond milk for blending (generally 1-1.5 cups)

The Nutty Chocolate Banana: 1 1/2 sliced bananas, 1 tbsp cocoa powder, 1/2 cubed small avocado, 2 tbsp almonds, 1 tbsp chia seeds

Add: 1/3 cup liquid pasteurized egg whites or protein of choice, and enough almond milk for blending (generally 1-1.5 cups)

The Tropical Veggie Twist: 1 small diced mango, 1/2 sliced banana, 1/2 cup baby carrots, 1 handful spinach, 1/4 cup oats, 1 tbsp flax seeds

Add: 1/3 cup liquid pasteurized egg whites or protein of choice, and enough almond milk for blending (generally 1-1.5 cups)

 

Here is your list of ingredients you will need:

1 mango

2 small apples

3 bananas

1 large bag frozen mixed berries (great for multiple weeks of smoothies)

1 large bag frozen strawberries (great for multiple weeks of smoothies)

1 bag baby carrots

2 avocados

1 tub of spinach or leafy green of choice

1/2 gallon milk of choice: I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk

protein of choice: I used a mixture of lowfat cottage cheese and pasteurized egg whites

3 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp flax seeds (chia and flax are nutritionally similar–if you don’t like one, use the other)

2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

2 tbsp almonds

1 1/2 cup oats

1 tbsp cocoa

1/2 tsp cinnamon

 

 

smoothieprep_ingredients

 

 

Chicken Pot Pie with an Almond Cheddar Crust

chickenpotpie_glutenfree_casserole

 

The last few weeks have been crazy for this dietitian. My baby girl will be here in less than a month, so I’ve been rushing to get her room ready, clothes washed, and hospital bags packed. Plus, I was fortunate enough to have two baby showers recently. baby shower_dietitiansPictured is me at 35 weeks with some of my local dietitian friends. I even ate a cupcake without checking my blood sugar after (I’m a rebel sometimes)! One of my amazing gifts was a BOB running stroller. My post-pregnancy goal is to complete the Arcardia triathlon again in August, so the stroller will be great for the running training portion. It’s really important for me to have a fun fitness goal for after she arrives–for my health and sanity. I hear motherhood is just a tad crazy in the beginning, so I know it will be a challenge to balance my time and energy, but I have a goal to achieve! I’ll keep everyone updated on my progress with getting back in shape and getting a new nutrition plan lined up post baby. I can’t deny it will be nice to eat more carbs again after the birth, since my gestational diabetes will be no more. As of right now though, I’m still counting my carbs, and trying to make healthy lower carb meals–like this chicken pot pie made with an almond meal and cheddar crust! I never said low-carb had to be any less delicious!

 

Whether you are gluten-free, diabetic, or just looking for a tasty alternative to the classic chicken pot pie, I know you will love this recipe. Instead of using heavy cream and butter for the crust and filling, I went with 1% milk and olive oil to make it heart healthier. There is also NO chopping of vegetables required for this meal, because I used a bag of frozen mixed vegetables–the standard bag with green beans, carrots, peas, and corn. I also used shredded rotisserie chicken as another time saver. For the almond meal crust, you could definitely use a store-bought brand like Bob Mills almond meal/flour, or you can easily make your own in a food processor or high-powered blender using roasted unsalted almonds. Simply run the almonds through a food processor until there are no more nut pieces, and it resembles a course flour. If you grind too much, you will have almond butter (not a bad mistake). The crust recipe is very forgiving, so don’t worry if your almond meal is too course or fine; I still had some chunks in mine with no baking consequence. The recipe is very easy to prepare–just some mixing and heating! It’s also super filling and savory, making it the ultimate healthified comfort food. For you almond meal crust skeptics, my husband absolutely loved this recipe, and he doesn’t even like regular chicken pot pie!

 

chicken pot pie_gluten free_bowl