Lighter & Healthier

Spicy Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans with Eggs

It has 15g of protein, enough carbs to kick start your day, and plants. Don’t forget the plants. Because like me, I’m sure you’ve resolved to eat more plant-things this year. So let’s go ahead and scratch the first serving of the day off of your list.

Eggs over Asparagus with Bacon

Also, the sweet potatoes help keep the murderous rage away – you know the rage. The kind that comes with the cold-turkey 180 from crap holiday eating. I know you know what I’m talking about. Jason sure does. (giggle.)

The Craft

It’s a simple formula that has yet to fail me: 2 eggs cooked your way, over something green* and sweet potatoes**.

*I buy 6+ bags of frozen veggies a week: green beans, broccoli, and peas. When asparagus is in season (read: a pound is cheaper than a gallon of gas), it’s my favorite to use at breakfast but it does require more effort than just cutting open a bag and giving the plants a 4-minute spin in the microwave.

**You can make the diced sweet potatoes in bulk on the weekends to reheat or spend ~10 minutes cooking some that morning. I also bake 6-8 sweet potatoes every weekend to eat as sides throughout the week – slicing off a few rounds, sprinkling with some salt and chili powder, and then reheating in the microwave can save you time.

You can get the recipe for the potatoes here. Happy Clean(er) Eating!

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My Favorite Salad Chicken

The butter and the heavy cream.

And those month-old cookie-exchange cookies still sitting on the plate on the counter. It’s okay, you have my permission to throw them out now. Or use them for clay shooting – they’re probably about the same texture now.

This week, like a gajillion (it’s a word) other people on this planet, I’m committed to cleaning up my diet to detox from The Great 6-Week Holiday Food and Drink Indulgence of 2014.

My “favorite” (and I use that word increeeeedibly loosely) detox of the past couple of years has been Whole30. After suffering from plantar fasciitis for months and months, I feel like the complete overhaul of my diet was a huge factor in getting rid of it (’cause Lord knows I couldn’t be bothered with those stupid toe-scrunchy exercises).

But my irregular heartbeat issue seems to flare-up while on it so I have shied away from going all-in on it again this year. So this year’s detox will be less trademarked-program and more just-get-back-to-plain-smarter eating: more plants, lean(er) proteins, less bad fats.

Duh, right?

Mojo-Brined Grilled Chicken Breast

From June to mid-November, I lost 31 lbs (before gaining 11 of it over the holidays – and man, was that a delicious 11 lbs) not by doing a trademarked program, but by focusing on smarter eating and getting the majority of my carbs from plant sources.

So beginning today, I’m sharing some of my favorite heavy-rotation dishes to make when I’m in detox/zip-my-skinny-jeans-wthout-laying-on-the-bed-and-saying-Mommy-words mode. You can follow along on Instagram for insta-gratification for your lighter meal ideas. And then check back in here a couple times a week for full recipes and recaps!

Mojo Brined Chicken

First up, My Favorite Salad Chicken. Because plain grilled chicken won’t inspire anyone to meet their health goals for longer than 3 days.

I make it in bulk on the weekends and I actually have a batch going in the fridge right now. It is flavorful and juicy. But the best part is, that for the next several days, I won’t have to worry “what am I going to eat for lunch and have I used my Chick-fil-A Calendar Card this month yet.” Because it is always ready to slice and top a green salad at lunch or waiting be shredded with some greek yogurt and chopped grapes or apples and tucked into a wrap for a much lighter chicken salad lunch.

Mojo Brined Chicken

Get the recipe here!

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Eggplant Parmesan Pasta Bake

You are looking at the greatest thing to ever happen to eggplant since pizza crust and goat cheese.

Eggplant Parmesan Pasta Bake

The eggplant tree in my garden still thinks it’s summer. And frankly, with highs still in the low 90s, it IS still summer.

While I was out of town last weekend, Jason sent me a picture of the three soccer ball-sized fruits he picked from the “tree.” All bigger than my 4-year-old’s head. When I got back, I took one of those soccer balls (just one – and I had leftover slices!) and turned it into the most amazing version of Eggplant Parmesan.

Eggplant Parmesan Pasta Bake

The dish comes together pretty easily – assuming you don’t find out at the last minute that what you thought was a jar of marinara turns out to be calorie-bomb vodka sauce and then thank all the baby Jesuses for those two cans of crushed tomatoes buried behind the year-old can of pumpkin.

Eggplant Parmesan Pasta Bake

You roast sliced eggplant for ~30 minutes to remove excess water and concentrate the flavors and then you layer it in a dish on top of half-cooked pasta with marinara (or “improvinara”), mozzarella, and parmesan. Another 30 minute spin through the oven and you have a golden brown, bubbling dish of Eggplant Parmesan perfection.

And your house doesn’t stink like yesterday’s fried foods the next morning.

Eggplant Parmesan Pasta Bake

Not all comfort food is terrible for you. This version of Eggplant Parmesan is lighter on fat, heavy on flavor.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 331.8 | Fat: 10.4g | Fiber 8.9g | Protein 12.9g | Carbs 49.5g

Ingredients

  • 8 oz dry pasta (I used whole wheat)
  • Olive oil
  • ~3 lbs eggplant, cut in 1/2-inch slices
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 1/4 cups marinara sauce, divided
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella torn into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz) shredded Parmesan
  • Basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Lightly grease a casserole dish and a baking sheet (two sheets, if your eggplant is soccer ball-sized).
  2. Preheat oven to 400.
  3. Cook the pasta for half the time suggested on the package and then drain.
  4. Add the pasta to the casserole dish along with 3/4 cup of marinara sauce, stirring to mix. Top with another 3/4 cup marinara
  5. Brush each side of the eggplant rounds with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Roast for 15 minutes, flip and roast for 15 minutes more.
  7. Place half of the eggplant rounds over the pasta and top with half the mozzarella and Parmesan.
  8. Spread the remaining 3/4 cup marinara over top, followed by the remaining eggplant, mozzarella, and Parmesan.
  9. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbling.
  10. Serve topped with basil, if desired.

Notes

Yields: ~6 servings

Adapted from Feast, via Annie's Eats

Estimated time: 1 hour 15 minutes

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Salmon and Sweet Kale Salad

If you are what you eat, I’m a large bag of shredded broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, and dried cranberries coated in a sweet & tangy poppyseed dressing. And a half-empty bottle of Sauza.

Because life is all about balance.

Salmon and Sweet Kale Salad

Now that school and soccer practice is back, I’m finding myself short on time and energy in the evenings and have been putting some of our favorite quick & easy dinners back into heavy rotation and relying on the “cook once-eat three dinners” method. We’ll be sharing some of those new quick & healthy recipes with y’all in the next few weeks.

Because it only takes, like, 9.37 minutes to make, “Spicy” Honey-Glazed Salmon shoots to the top of the list, as does anything I can make with the two bags of Salad Chicken (or Purse Chicken, if you’re Erica) I always have in the fridge.

Both of those are excellent candidates to top the bag of my latest obsession, the Sweet Kale Salad that my friend Shannon introduced me to from Costco.

Salmon and Sweet Kale Salad

And it’s a legit obsession. I bought 3 bags yesterday. Each bag will expire inside of a week. And there’s absolutely zero chance that they even last that long.

The poppyseed salad dressing that comes in the salad kit is too high fat/high sugar for my 1500-calorie, 45-30-25 half-marathon nutrition plan so I extend the dressing with some skim milk, fat-free Greek yogurt, and some cider vinegar (as noted in the recipe below). The dressing goes farther and I can use more.

But most importantly: dinner is on the table in 14.68 minutes.

Salmon & Sweet Kale Salad

A quick, halfway homemade dinner starring the Sweet Kale Salad Mix from Costco.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag Sweet Kale Salad Kit (found at Costco in the cold produce room)
  • 4 servings of the protein of your choice (highly recommend "Spicy" Honey-Glazed Salmon)
  • To extend the dressing:
  • 1 pack of poppyseed dressing from the salad kit (it comes with 2)
  • 1/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Open the salad kit and empty the greens and the packet of cranberries and pumpkin seeds into a very large bowl. (If you are going to eat all 4 servings within the next 48 hours, make the entire salad. If not, make half now, half later.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the poppyseed dressing, yogurt, milk, cider vinegar, and a tiny pinch of salt.
  3. Add the dressing to the greens and toss until completely coated.
  4. Let sit 15 minutes and then serve topped with salmon or chicken.
  5. Store leftovers covered, for up to two days.

Notes

Yields: 4 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 15 minutes

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