Mason Jar Breakfasts
Thanks to The Yummy Life Chris and I are now enjoying delicious breakfasts in mason jars. On the left is a Greek yogurt parfait with flax-seed granola, raspberries, mango, and blackberries. I usually eat Greek yogurt in the morning, and I’ve tried all sorts of brands and flavors with different fruits, jams, and granola. A recipe in my new favorite pink cookbook inspired me to buy plain Greek yogurt and add my fruit or granola on my own. I started out making them in bowls or cups, but moved on to the mason jar after starting the overnight oats as well. The various parfait were delicious, but I grew tired of eating the same thing every day. To spice up our breakfast, I looked around online for more recipes particularly ones that involved oats. That’s when I found the Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal recipes on The Yummy Life blog. I recently made the Almond Mango version from the blog (pictured on the right), and it was fantastic. I take some liberties: I typically use almond milk instead of skim milk (unless Chris requests otherwise), and I haven’t tried it with chia seed yet. I also prefer more than 1/4 cup of oats, as listed in the recipes, but this is likely due to the missing chia seeds). I’ve made a few of the flavor suggestions from the site, and now I’m trying a few of my own creations. Right now I have a Maple Peach Blackberry Twist soaking in my fridge for breakfast tomorrow. I can’t wait!
Bento Box Lunches
For a long time now, I’ve had this horrible habit of forgetting to eat all day and then making up for it at dinner. Granted this has a lot to do with the nature of my job. All day I’m bouncing around from a school to a house to park and so on. The point is I go where my clients are, and I drive a lot. During the work day, my car is the only home base that I know. Unfortunately, this means I don’t get to bring my lunch and stick it in the fridge at the office. I’ve tried packing lunches with ice packs for my car, but the boring sandwich and chips thing never really stuck. I recently bought this Lock&Lock bento-style lunch box from Amazon. It’s awesome because now I can pack a variety of dishes, keep everything separate, and prevent sogginess. I’m using tuna salad, egg salad, and roasted nut recipes from the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook, along with hummus, dried fruit and veggies. I make the tuna or egg salad at night twice a week (they last 2-3 days in the fridge), and I chop the veggies the night before. Chris and I both loved the Dilled Egg Salad – the fresh herbs and spices were perfectly balanced, and the Dark Chocolate Roasted Nut Mix – cocoa, brown sugar, pecans, and hazelnuts. Chris gets the same lunch as me, but he’s using a Zojirushi lunch jar. It’s really a neat, modern-looking way to pack lunch, and I love that it doesn’t need an ice pack.
I believe this is one of those “you know you’re an adult when…” moments. You know you’re an adult when you get super excited about packing lunch in a bento box, making breakfast in a mason jar, and eating healthier! I’ll update the post with better pictures soon!
This recipe is found in the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook.
1. Poach Chicken in Chicken Broth
*Cook’s notes: If you can’t cover the chicken, do the next best thing and flip them half way through.
2. Set chicken aside and cook potatoes.
*Cook’s note: I was afraid that there wasn’t enough liquid to cover the potatoes, so I added another cup of water and bullion in a deeper pan. In retrospect, the potatoes were a bit mushy and this might not have been necessary.
3. Drain potatoes, mix with tomatoes, tapenade, lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh pepper.
*Cook’s notes: Fresh lemons and good olive oil are staples in my kitchen. If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, the diced can version will do (but you’ll sacrifice some freshness). You can use a store-bought tapenade OR you can make your own. Tapenade is fairly easy if you have olives, fresh herbs, garlic, oil, spices, capers, and a food processor. I made my tapenade with canned olives and artichoke hearts (instead of capers), but I’m sure the fresher version is superior.
4. Plate your chicken, top with potatoes, and add a green of your choice.
*Chef’s notes: This is where I like to ask Chris to make a fresh salad. This evening he took bibb lettuce and tossed it with fresh cucumber, fresh red pepper, olive oil, and vinegar.
There you have it! A delicious healthy dish. A few points: 1) Poaching the chicken adds moistness and flavor without oil. 2) While there’s oil in the tapenade and potatoes, it’s a good oil (monounsaturated). 3) You can limit your starch intake (with the potatoes) by first filling up on a fresh, light green salad (again some oil but it’s monounsaturated and better than cream). Chris loved the lemon and garlic on the potatoes. Vinegar and citrus are his weaknesses.
Another surprising note. You can complete this dish in the same time that it takes to assemble a brand new coffee table.
I was hoping I’d beat Chris, but it was rather lucky to have a table to eat from while watching the Daily Show tonight.
After moving, I found a few of my favorite cookbooks and added to them. I’m now keeping my favorites out on the counter. The Vegetarian Recipes book on the right holds some of my favorite tried and true dishes. This is the cookbook that taught me how to use spices and add flavor to healthy recipes. Chris’ parents gave me this cookbook as a gift just last year. I’ve loved experimenting with fresh pasta thus far, and I look forward to many more adventures. The deep red book, well that’s just an old wine tasting journal that I’m hoping to revive. Finally, there’s the newest addition in bright pink (I guess they know their audiences?) – the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook. This is the diet I used 4 years ago, when I noticed that I was putting on some weight. While I think a lot of the diet industry is fluff (and even some of the stuff in this book), the basic ideas of this diet mirror that of my heyday vegetarian recipes: Replace bad fats with good fats, and eat smaller portions more often. While most of the recipes Chris and I post on this blog are more indulgent in nature, the truth is that we eat baked chicken and veggies most nights. I plan to use this category to share adventures in adding new twists and flavors to a healthier diet. Don’t worry, we still love food, and we will still definitely indulge from time to time – just not every night :).