Why I Enjoy Eating Simple & Healthy Meals

This week I made an easy delicious yet healthy dinner and if you’ve read any of my other Tuesday food posts, you’ll see that this is a weekly theme.
The ingredients for this meal were: Garlic naan, tomatoes, kale, and chicken with pomegranate vinaigrette.

This meal was simple to prepare because I bought a rotisserie chicken which I tore apart, cooked the kale in water and olive oil, sliced up tomatoes and cooked them, warmed the garlic naan in the oven and put all the ingredients together on the bread and poured the pomegranate vinaigrette over top. This took less than 30 minutes to make.


The next night, I reheated the meal, added a small avocado and topped it with everything seasoning. It tasted so good this way, too! The beauty of this dish is that you can add many ingredients to make it new again, which is why it’s a staple dish.

simplemeals1
The reason why I enjoy eating a meal like this is because I get to eat what I want while still eating my vegetables. And, anyone can make this dish. I treated it like it was a personal pizza. While I LOVE pizza and eat it from time to time, I also enjoy coming up with new dishes that satisfy me the same way a pizza would. I encourage you to try this too, all you have to do is think about ways you can alter your favorite dishes to make in a new healthier way at home. Doing this will make you more excited about cooking and eager to try something new for dinner.

Tip: I’ve learned to treat cooking as a way to relax my mind. Anytime I need a break from working on something or need to clear my mind, I find that cooking focuses my mind.

What’s one staple dish you’ve reinvented? Would you eat the dish I’ve posted? Let me know in the comments below.

How To Get Out Of A Food Rut

While driving home from work, I realized I didn’t want what I had planned for dinner-chicken fried rice with veggies. While it is a simple dish to cook it didn’t sound appetizing. I caught myself wanting to drive to the grocery store to pick up something to eat, so I started to think about what I could make with the ingredients I’d already had that could be incorporated with the dish. Since I had fresh food at home I didn’t want to waste the money I’d already spent and waste another night of not eating the fresh food. I knew I had kale, zucchini and eggs. Since none of those ingredients take long to cook, I decided to cook them all, throw them on a plate and call it dinner. It came out really good and was a very filling meal.
Here are my tips when you find yourself in this rut while driving home from work:

1. Think about the foods you already have in your kitchen. If you have a lot of fresh ingredients cut up some or all of them and incorporate them into the dish you originally planned to have. Just thinking about creating a new dish will get you excited about dinner and will make you want to eat at home.

2. Think about the possibilities for two meals instead of one. If you make enough food to last two days or more, come up with ideas on how you can make the meal a different way for leftovers. Small things like adding new dressings, seasonings, bread or cheese will really add to the dish to make it taste new.

3. You’ll save money. If you’ve convinced yourself that the dish you’re about to make will satisfy you for dinner that night, then you’ve saved money. The fresh food sitting in your kitchen is something you picked up from the grocery store for a reason, don’t let it go bad for another day.

4. You get to be creative. Coming up with several ways to prepare a meal stretches your mind-you become versatile in cooking.

5. You’ll get to cook. Going to the grocery store to pick up dinner is really easy. However, I find that after work I enjoy cooking because it gives me something to focus on. Plus, every time I cook something new it helps to further my cooking knowledge and ability. It also shows me what I enjoy eating and is a meal I can cook again in the future.

 

Do you have any ideas for how to get out of a food rut? Any meals you enjoy making with fresh ingredients? Let me know in the comments below!

How I’ve Learned To Accept My Body

I’ll tell you a short synopses of my workout routine throughout my life. I danced from a child until high school graduation. When I stopped dancing after high school I was shocked to see my muscle (specifically in my legs) disappear. The reality is that I wasn’t working out at all so naturally my body would change. However, because I’d been used to seeing my body a certain way for YEARS it felt different seeing it change.
When I was in my late 20’s I came to accept my body for what it is. I’ve learned that if I maintain a consistent workout schedule, my body will be toned and for the times I don’t it will change again.
I’ve come to recognize that the relationship I have with food determines how my body will function. I’ve realized my body will change for the rest of my life and that’s okay. I’m learning what I can control with my body is to ask myself, what foods I’m addicted to and WHY I want to eat something-is it because I’m actually hungry or because the food is in front of me or in the building or am I just craving it?
My point in telling you all this, is to not be so hard on yourself when it comes to your body because you only have one.

My New Perspective on Food

Before I can tell you my new perspective on food, I’ll tell you my original perspective. I used to only buy enough food for the week and nothing more. What I’ve learned is when sticking to a budget- How to Stick to a Weekly Food Budget  and shopping at two stores where I can pick and choose what I want to buy based on the food items prices-I can buy more each week. I also used to buy whatever food I wanted, until I started recognizing what foods my body truly doesn’t like and recognizing what foods I’m addicted to. Here are my new perspectives on food:
Stock up on frozen & pantry foods. By stocking up on these items, it means you’ll always have something to eat. The only problem I’ve seen is that sometimes I’ll forget what I’ve bought a week or two ago. To combat this issue, I write down what I’m going to eat each week for dinner. If I have to buy food to go with it I’ll write that down that too. If I’m making something with fresh ingredients, I’ll incorporate them into my dinners for the week. However, if I’m making something frozen I can choose to make half of it for the week and the other half some other time.

Since I’ve been stocking up on food, my budget can go further by buying extra items-I’ll buy a package of chicken sausage even if I’m not going to eat it that week. Or I can save money by not buying any meats that week because I already have some in the freezer. I can also choose to spend my money on something that’s the same price as chicken.
What you eat each week begins in the grocery store. Over the past few years, I’ve realized what foods my digestive system likes and dislikes. One of the things I love is chips and artichoke & jalapeno dip from Trader Joe’s, however, my body does not. Not only because I’ll devour this food in a weekend but the food just makes my stomach upset. So, knowing this, I focus on buying foods that actually give my body energy and make me feel good. Since I know what foods I’m addicted to: chips, dip, salt, chocolate, etc. I try to minimize or eliminate buying them during the week. Another thing I’ve realized is that by eliminating the purchases of these items means I have money for fresh and healthy foods. The chips and dip costs almost $6, instead I bought hummus and veggies that cost less and makes my digestive system happy.

Tip: If you don’t know what foods you’re addicted to, start by looking at what you buy each week and try to figure out why you buy these foods. Is it because they taste good but then later your body doesn’t feel good or works improper? For one week, try eating different foods to see how your body handles them.

As I mentioned earlier, I am addicted to chocolate, so to combat this I’ve tried a few different things. Last year, I used to buy a  whole carton of ice cream and eat it in a week. I realized I should try eating less sugar each week, so I then started buying Greek Yogurt Frozen Pops (they are really good!). This gave me a small portion of chocolate to consume each week. Other things I buy are chocolate almonds-they come in a small pack and because I only consume a small handful every few nights, it takes me two weeks to eat through the pack instead of a week. The other thing I’ve tried is to buy 1 or 2 chocolate candy bars a week, which really cuts down my chocolate intake. After dinner is when I’d normally have chocolate, so if I don’t have it in my home, I’ll make sure I’m eating enough food at dinner.

The point of all of this is to recognize that the foods we bring into our homes is what we’ll be eating every day. And if those items are not making our body function to its best, we should try something else, or slowly wean ourselves into eating something else. I also learned last year that if I don’t walk down certain aisles in the grocery store that means I won’t be tempted to bring those foods home.

I’m curious to know, what is your perspective on food? Let me know in the comments below or on social media IG: @stylestomakeyousmile FB Page: Styles To Make You Smile

How to Make Fresh Pasta

On March 3rd I went home for a Pasta Party! My Dad showed my family how to make pasta from scratch. We made spaghetti and ravioli. My Dad’s family is full blooded Italian so both his grandparents and parents learned and taught my Dad how to make fresh pasta. His family always made pasta for traditional holidays.
Over the past few Christmases my Dad received a Kitchen Aid, pasta attachments and he bought a drying rack for the pasta-these are all items his parents & grandparents would have appreciated. When they made pasta, they would roll out the dough by hand, cut it and then hang it on a broom that was placed in between two chairs to dry on. Fast forward to today and all you have to do to make the dough is put the ingredients in the mixing bowl and let the Kitchen Aid do all the work.

Recipe for Dough: 3 cups flour, 4 eggs, a few tablespoons of water and olive oil.

Mix the ingredients in the Kitchen Aid mixing bowl until it forms into dough which will then form itself into a solid piece (you’ll need the KA dough mixing attachment to create the dough), cut into quarters, place the pasta attachment on the Kitchen Aid and push the dough through the machine. You’ll need to do this several times and on a several number settings on the machine until the dough forms into the consistency that you prefer-you’ll need it thin for spaghetti and thicker for ravioli.
Spaghetti: Once you’ve created the right consistency (thinness) for the spaghetti, you can push the dough through the attachment and it will cut the dough into thin strips of pasta. Take the pasta and place it on the drying rack to dry. If you purchase the Kitchen Aid drying rack, it comes with a wand where you can place the middle of the pasta on the wand and bring it over to the rack without having to handle it too much. Once you’re ready to cook, bring water to a boil, the pasta will cook in about two minutes.

howtomakefreshpasta4
Over a pound of pasta made!

 

We served the spaghetti with what we call “Seafood stuff.” This includes: crab, shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes (fresh from Dad’s garden-he froze these since the end of summer), lemon, garlic and wine.

howtomakefreshpasta5
Ravioli: Once you’ve got the right thickness for the ravioli, lay the pasta on a sheet pan, measure where the dough can be cut in half, cut there, then place the ravioli filling on the bottom portion of the dough. You’ll want to strategically place the filling straight across from each other on the pasta so you can cut down the middle and then in between the fillings. Before you cut, place the other portion of the pasta (that you cut in half) on top of the fillings and begin cutting. Once the raviolis are cut, use a fork to push into the edges to make indents in the pasta. Bring water to a boil and cook for five-seven minutes. This depends on the consistency you like.

howtomakefreshpasta2
Strategically placing the filling on the pasta to make ravioli

 

howtomakefreshpasta3
These are cut pretty close to perfection! haha.

Recipe for Ravioli Filling-Ricotta, sugar, cinnamon and sausage. Note: We made half of the ravioli with the sausage and the other half without it.

howtomakefreshpasta1
Ravioli filling

 

All the pasta tastes extremely fresh, soft and you can really taste the ingredients. I promise boxed pasta won’t ever taste the same! What are some of your family traditions? Do you have any family recipes handed down from other generations? Let me know in the comments!

The Meals I Eat Weekly

If you saw my last post How to Stick to a Weekly Food Budget you got to see a list of the foods I restock in my fridge. This week, I thought I would share what I eat for breakfast, lunch, a snack and dinner. The meals are simple and can be thrown together/cooked quickly. I try to have at least two-three options of each meal so I’m not always eating the same thing every day. I buy medium-large quantities of items so they last a while and will make each meal different; large pack of frozen berries, eggs and almonds. Having go to meals to eat on a regular basis means you won’t have to think too much about what to eat-just remember to stock up on fresh ingredients at the store each week!

Breakfast: Eggs-sunny side up during the week and on the weekends I add cheese, toast and avocado
Cereal-Topped with berries
Yogurt-Mixed with granola and berries (use one or both)
For the cereal and yogurt I include chia/flax seed mix for good digestive health. Also, I bring a piece of fruit to eat at work in the late morning, usually an orange or banana.

Tip: On Sundays I put frozen strawberries and mixed berries into glass containers and thaw in the fridge to put in my meals during the week.

Snacks: Fruit bars
Veggies and hummus
Smoothie-My smoothies can include a combination of any of the following: Almond milk, strawberries, mixed berries, banana, chia/flax seed, peanut butter, cacao powder, avocado and spinach. Sometimes I make these for breakfast when I’m in a rush to leave for work or am going on a long car ride.

TheMealsIEatWeekly6
Just one of the many smoothies I enjoy making during the weekend as a snack or for breakfast

 

Lunch: Sandwich-Multi grain or whole wheat bread, chicken (rotisserie or sandwich meat), cheese, olive oil mayo, spinach and salad dressing (if I don’t have a store bought brand I’ll make my own with olive oil, lemon, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper). I also eat a side of Greek Yogurt-I buy several flavors so I’m not eating the same thing all week.
Salad-Spinach, chicken, almonds, cheese, tomatoes, avocado, chia/flax seeds, seasoning and salad dressing. Salads are very versatile so you could switch up the ingredients weekly by using different greens, meats, cheeses, nuts and dressing or use some of the ingredients one day and all of them the next.

Tip: I put the salad in a long tupperware so I can store a fork and small-round salad dressing container in it.

Leftovers-I’ll bring anything to work that will easily fit into one tupperware dish like soup or whole wheat orzo with chicken.

themealsieatweekly7.jpg
Leftover Italian soup from Christmas dinner

 

Dinner: My dinner meals are different each week but my normal routine meal is: Meat, grain & vegetable-even in the form of pizza-because this totally counts! haha.

Store bought meals-Sometimes at the end of the week I like to splurge for something in the ready to eat section of the grocery store or get a wrap with chips. If I know I’m going to do this before grocery shopping, I’ll add the cost of the meal to my weekly budget.
Check out: How to Gain Weekly Food Inspiration for more ways to find dinner recipes.

Tip: Once you have the basics down for a few good recipes that you enjoy cooking, it’s easy to alter them with new ingredients to make the meals taste new.

I’d love to know what meals you eat each week! Leave some meals in the comments below.

How to Stick to a Weekly Food Budget

Howtosticktoaweeklyfoodbudget3

Grocery shopping is something I have grown to love. It’s something I do each week (possibly more than once a week). I try to focus on buying what I know I’ll want to eat throughout the week and make healthy meals that fit into my budget.
Here are a list of tips I use to stick to my weekly food budget:
• Know exactly how much you can spend each week on food. Try to make a budget that is doable as this will correlate into what you’re spending each month. During the week I sometimes run to the grocery store to grab fresh food instead of cooking I will then subtract the money I spent towards my next grocery run.

• Know your weekly schedule when planning meals. Keep your plans written in a planner to determine nights you’re free vs. busy. On the nights you’re free you’ll have time to cook a meal that will provide left overs for the nights you’re busy. Also, plan when you’re going to eat out so that you don’t have to buy/make any food for dinner that night.

• Know what foods you have in your kitchen. This all comes down to making a list of what you need and what you buy on a regular basis. Before you run out to the grocery store, consult the list of what you normally buy to see if you’re missing anything from your list. When you’re planning a meal you’ll know what ingredients to buy at the store vs. what’s already in your kitchen. Buying 1 or 2 ingredients because you know that’s all you need saves you money over buying what you already have.

 

 

• Shopping around is something I just started doing. Each week I buy from two grocery stores: Wegmans & Trader Joe’s. Each store has different items I buy weekly. Some of the items I buy at Wegmans are water, yogurt, almond milk, eggs, sandwich meat & at Trader Joe’s I buy fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese and frozen meat. In order to stay within my budget I compare costs of items I buy regularly at both stores and buy the items that are inexpensive at that store, this is how I save money and how I keep a low food budget.

• Know what you’re in the mood to eat. If you feel like eating fried rice and orange chicken this week then make sure that’s what you buy, otherwise you won’t feel satisfied eating food you didn’t really want because you kept thinking about eating food you don’t have. Also, if you buy frozen food, like a batch of chicken that you’ll need to cook during the week, make sure you’ll want to cook it. A helpful tip is to cook during a night you’re free and you’ve recognized it will take a certain amount of time to cook. While cooking chicken you can also cook a grain and vegetable with it, and do some dishes while everything cooks!

Do you stick to a weekly food budget? What are some tips you have that help you stay on track of your food budget? Let me know in the comments below or on Instagram or Facebook @stylestomakeyousmile