Category Archives: Lunch

Tzatziki Lamb Meatballs & Spiralized Beets

This dish is BOMB. Something about the combination of savory lamb meatballs baked with fresh mint from the garden and crunchy warm beets all topped with a creamy homemade cilantro tzatziki sauce make this dish so freaking delicious. It’s incredibly different and unique, and so tasty that I could honestly eat this for dinner at least once a week. Patrick and I found this recipe in our Inspiralize Everything Cookbook, and we fell in love with the idea of spiralized beets immediately. We made a few tweaks to the recipe to give it more flavor, and I think we’ve finally perfected the ingredients and quantities to our liking. I know it’s a weird combination of ingredients, but seriously – try it. You won’t regret.

Estimated Time: 1 hour

Ingredients (serves 4):

Meatballs:

  • Minced Ground lamb: 1 lb
  • Ground Cumin: 1.5 tbsp
  • Ground Coriander: 2 tsp
  • Paprika: 1/2 tsp
  • Garlic Cloves: 4 large, minced
  • Fresh Mint: 1/4 cup, minced
  • Breadcrumbs: 1/4 cup
  • Salt: 3 cranks
  • Pepper: 2 cranks

Beets:

  • Red Beets: 2 large, peeled and spiralized
  • Salt: to taste
  • Pepper: to taste

Yogurt Sauce:

  • Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt: 1/2 cup
  • Shallot: 1/2 shallot, minced
  • Fresh Cilantro: 2 tbsp, minced
  • Lemon Juice: 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • Paprika: 1/2 tsp
  • Salt: 1 crank
  • Pepper: 1 crank
  • Water: 2 tbsp

Garnish:

  • Raw cashews: 1/4 cup, chopped or halved
  • Cilantro: 2 tbsp

Preheat the oven to 425. Prep two baking sheets with parchment paper. Separately, prep a third baking pan or sheet with cooking spray. Peel the beets, spiralize them, and distribute over the 2 parchment paper baking sheets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then set aside.

Next start working on the meatballs. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix with hands, form 2″ meatballs and place on the baking sheet that’s been been sprayed with cooking spray. Place beets and meatballs in the oven and then set two timers. For the beets, bake for 10-12 minutes (or until al dente). For the meatballs, bake for 17-18 minutes. While those bad boys are baking, prepare the tzatziki sauce. You’ll see I added 2 tbsp water into this sauce, only because I like a more runny consistency. But if you like the sauce on the thicker side, you can omit the water.

Beets should be close to done by now, so take those out when the timer goes off and then distribute the noodles amongst 4 plates. Last but not least, chop up your cashews and place on a baking sheet (I just reused the baking sheet from the beets).

Once the meatballs are done, take them out and then switch the oven to broil. Broil the cashews for 1-2 minutes (watch closely! They will burn fast!). Add the meatballs and tzatziki sauce to the plated dishes, and garnish with cashews and cilantro. Yum yum yum!

Warm Spinach & Sausage Caesar Salad

This warm green salad is very easy to make, and is hearty enough on its own for lunch or dinner. The tasty flavors of savory sausage juxtapose sweet, ripe grape tomatoes and crunchy spinach melt in your mouth. Dine al fresco with a glass of rose, and I’d say you’re set for a good day.

Estimated Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • Baby Spinach: 3 big handfuls
  • Mild or Hot Italian Sausage: 1 link (I recommend New York Style Sausage Company)
  • Grape Tomatoes: 10 grape tomatoes, sliced in halves
  • Baby Bella Mushrooms: 3 large mushrooms, sliced
  • Light Caesar Dressing: 1 tbsp (I recommend Ken’s Lite Caesar)
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese: 1 tbsp
  • Olive Oil: 1 tsp

Pour the olive oil into a small skillet, and turn to medium-high heat. When the pan gets hot, place the sausage in the pan and cover with a glass top. Sear for about 3 minutes, flip, and sear and char the other side for another 3-4 minutes (keep glass top on while searing). Next, pour just a couple tablespoons of water into the pan, cover, and reduce heat to medium. This creates some steam for the sausage to continue cooking. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes with glass top on the pan, or until sausage is cooked all the way through. Meanwhile, combine all the remaining ingredients into a large bowl. Slice the sausage into bite-size pieces, add to the salad, and stir together. Done!

Veggie Chickpea Curry

Totally healthy and extremely tasty. Need I say more? Clean. Colorful. Vegan. Yummy. This is a great, easy curry that is full of protein and fiber. Between the mix of cumin, curry powder, tumeric, ginger and fresh squeezed lemon juice, this dish packs a punch that pairs nicely with a side of warm brown rice.

Estimated Time: 1 hour

Ingredients (serves 5-6):

  • Cauliflower: 1/2 large head, chopped
  • Baby Carrots: 4 handfuls, chopped
  • Onion: 1/2 large, chopped
  • Petite Diced Tomatoes: 14.5 oz can
  • Diced Green Chilis: 4oz can
  • Garlic: 3 cloves, minced
  • Fresh Ginger Root: 2 tbsp, grated
  • Cumin Powder: 3 tbsp
  • Curry Powder: 3 tbsp
  • Tumeric: 1/2 tbsp
  • Cayenne Powder (optional): 1/2 tsp
  • Lemon Juice: 1 whole lemon, juiced
  • Water: 1/2 cup
  • Olive Oil: 2 tbsp
  • Fresh Cilantro: garnish

If you’re craving brown rice with this recipe, get that started first. Next, combine olive oil, carrots, onion and garlic in a large pot and turn to medium/high heat. With a wooden spatula, mix the olive oil around with the vegetables and continue stirring for about 3 minutes. Turn the heat down to low/medium and begin chopping up the cauliflower into small bite-sized pieces. Once that’s all cut up, add the in the cauliflower, diced tomatoes, green chiles, fresh ginger root, cumin powder, curry powder, tumeric powder and optional cayenne powder to the pot. Give it a good stir and increase heat to medium for about 10 minutes. Next, stir in a 1/2 cup of water. Cover the pot with a glass top, reduce heat to low/medium and continue simmering for approximately 30-40 minutes. Not done yet! Turn the stove off and squeeze in the fresh lemon juice. Mix all together and now you’re done! Serve over a bed of brown rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Best Ever Turkey Zucchini Burgers with Avocado

Looking for a super moist turkey burger that’s full of flavor? These burgers are fiance-approved, and refreshingly light on the tummy. By substituting cheese with fresh avocado and vine-ripe tomatoes, we’re adding tasty colors to this best-ever turkey patty. Ah yes, that turkey patty, the star of the show. No ketchup, mustard or mayo needed on this number: I’m giving away three secret ingredients that make this turkey patty stand proud on it’s own: fresh basil (for impeccable flavor), Worcestershire sauce (you’ll taste why) and zucchini (for moisture and nutritional content – double bonus!). Get excited.

Estimated Time: (1 hour 20 minutes, which includes 1 hour of marinating time)

Turkey Patty Ingredients (serves 5):

  • Lean Ground Turkey: 16oz
  • Raw Zucchini: 1 medium, shredded
  • Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs: 1/4 cup
  • Yellow Onion: 2 tbsp, minced
  • Garlic: 1 clove, minced
  • Fresh Basil: 2 tbsp, minced
  • Worcestershire Sauce: 1.5 tsp
  • Salt: 2-3 dashes
  • Pepper: 2-3 dashes

Burger Ingredients:

  • Hamburger Buns (wheat or white): 5 buns
  • Hass Avocado: 1 large, sliced
  • Vine-Ripe Tomato: 1 large, sliced thick
  • Yellow Onion: 1/2 large, sliced
  • Iceburg Lettuce: 5-6 large leaves

Start by preparing the turkey meat. Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and mix with clean hands. Note to engaged women: unless you want raw meat in it, take off your engagement ring. On a large plate or baking dish, split and create 5 patties, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Once you’re ready to grill, start up the barbecue and clean off any old residue. Grill the turkey patties for approximately 8 minutes, flip, and cook for another 5 minutes or until the meat is cooked all the way through. Meanwhile, using cooking spray, sauté your onions in a small skillet via kitchen stovepot on low heat while the burgers cook. Onions will take about 10 minutes. Once the burgers are close to being done, toast the hamburger buns on the grill for light crunch.

Stack all the ingredients onto the bun and you’re done! Also optional to eat your burger “naked” by substituting the hamburger bread with fresh crisp iceburg lettuce. Hope you enjoy it!

Cilantro-Lime Halibut Tacos & Fresh Guacamole

halibut-cilantro-fajitas-tacos-guacamole

halibut-cilantro-fajitas-tacos

Fresh, bright green cilantro cooked with flaky halibut and tangy lime = heaven in my mouth. Add in a huge dollop of creamy guacamole and I’d say you’ve reached border line foodporn. This spread is particularly great for group gatherings, since everyone can sort of pick and choose which ingredients they want to throw into a tortilla. Plus, halibut is a totally lean protein machine and people usually don’t even realize they’re “eating healthy.” Lastly, I’m not the best at sharing food, so I totally get it if you end up not sharing at all and saving the whole thing for yourself. #nojudgements

Estimated Time: 1.5 hours; includes 1 hour to marinate the halibut

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

Cilantro-Lime Halibut

  • Fresh Halibut: 12-15oz
  • Cilantro: 1/4 cup, chopped
  • Garlic Cloves: 2 cloves, minced
  • Lime Juice: 2 fresh limes, squeezed
  • Olive Oil: 1 tsp
  • Taco Seasoning: 2 tbsp
  • Cayenne Powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Ground Cumin: 1 tbsp

Fresh Guacamole

  • Avocado: 2 fresh
  • Red Onion: 1/8 cup, chopped finely
  • Cilantro: 1/8 cup, chopped finely
  • Lime Juice: 1/2 lime, squeezed
  • Garlic Powder: 1 tsp
  • Salt: 1 tsp

Additional Buffet Items:

  • Whole Wheat Tortillas
  • Fresh Pico De Gallo
  • Chopped Lettuce
  • Fat Free Cheddar Cheese
  • Fat Free Sour Cream
  • Low Fat Tortilla Chips

First, you’re going to want to marinate the halibut for about an hour. Cut the halibut up into small bite-size pieces and mix all the ingredients together in a large ziplock bag. Place the halibut in the fridge and let marinate for about an hour. While those flavors are blending, work on the guacamole. Simply combine all the ingredients together and mix well. Add/subtract salt and garlic powder according to taste. Don’t forget to leave the avocado bulb in the bowl with the guacamole: it keeps the guac from turning brown!

Once the fish has marinated for about an hour, spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat it up on medium heat. Add in the fish and cook for no more than 5 minutes, stirring often. The halibut should cook quite quickly, and you don’t want to overcook. You’ll know it’s done when the pieces turn white and easily flake apart. Serve immediately amongst all the other ingredients.

Paleo Sliders with Mango Salsa, Pineapple and Avocado

Paleo Sliders with Mango Salsa, Pineapple and Avocado
Paleo Sliders with Mango Salsa, Pineapple and Avocado
First off, don’t let the word Paleo scare you away! You see, two of my closest friends, Stephen and Alisa, just moved into their new home and invited me over for lunch this weekend. They recently started the “Paleo lifestyle” and instead of searching for a healthy restaurant, we decided to cook our own fancy lunch instead!

No, I’m not going Paleo. But, I love learning new things, and I love experimenting with food. This was the perfect opportunity for me to learn what all this Paleo jibber jabber is all about, and between the three of us, we managed to find a recipe that was healthy, nutritious and delicious. As for the diet in general – I’m not sure that Paleo is for me, as I love my rice, quinoa, beans and cottage cheese way too much. Plus, not sure I could hang with all the oil and bacon.

Okay, back to the slider recipe – all I can say is that this lunch was bomb.

Estimated  Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  • Lean Ground Beef – 1.25 lb
  • Yellow Onion, chopped – 1 medium
  • Fresh Pineapple – 1/2 medium
  • Avocado – 1 large
  • Iceburg Lettuce – 4 large leaves
  • Mango – 1 large
  • Vine Tomatoes, de-seeded – 4 small
  • Red Onion, chopped – 1/4 cup
  • Fresh Cilantro – small handful
  • Garlic Powder – 1 tbsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Cooking Spray – 2 sprays

Start with beef sliders first. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a mixing bowl, mix yellow onions, ground beef and garlic powder together. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, and make small 2-3 oz slider patties; place the sliders on the sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until desired center is achieved.

Next, cut the fresh pineapple into halves. To learn how to cut up a fresh pineapple, click here (we didn’t know how either). Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and begin to grill the pineapple. Cook on medium/high for about 10 minutes.

Next, work on the mango salsa. De-seed and chop the tomatoes, and then combine the fresh mango, red onion, cilantro and salt in a blender. Lay a bed of iceburg lettuce down on each plate, and then layer the pineapples, sliders and mango salsa on top of one another. Add avocado as desired. Done! Either wrap the sliders with the lettuce or try it with a knife and fork. Both are delish!

Weight Watchers Points Plus: 8 points per serving (yields about 2 sliders per serving with 1/4 avocado)

Hearty Cauliflower & Lentil Curry

cauliflower-lentil-curry

Looking for a hearty lunch or dinner with some ethnic flare? Packed with protein and fiber, this light non-spicy lentil curry will keep you feeling fuller, longer. Try this blend of tomato, cauliflower and lentils over a bed of lettuce or brown rice. Or, pair with with warm whole wheat pita bread. The recipe serves 8, so I’d recommend portioning out the dish into individual zip-lock bags and freezing them for when you need a quick bite to eat.

Estimated Cooking Time: 1.5 hours

Ingredients (serves 8):

  • Cauliflower: 1 large head, chopped into small pieces
  • Dry Lentils: 1 cup
  • Water: 4 cups
  • Onion: 1 large, chopped
  • Canned Stewed Tomatoes: 2 cans
  • Canned Green Chiles: 4 tbsp
  • Garlic Cloves: 6 cloves, minced
  • Fresh Ginger Root: 3 tbsp
  • Curry Powder: 4 tsp
  • Salt: 1 tsp
  • Tumeric: 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin Powder: 3 tbsp
  • Cayenne Pepper: 1 tsp
  • Lemon Juice: 4 tbsp
  • Olive Oil: 2 tbsp

Combine lentils, water, onion, curry powder, salt and tumeric in a large pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 45 or until lentils soften up. Once the mixture has thickened, add in the cauliflower, tomatoes and green chiles to the pot and cook for about 10 more minutes.

When the cauliflower is about 90% soft, start working on the oil mixture in a separate pan: combine the olive oil,  cumin, garlic and ginger over medium heat and cook for about 1 minute. Once the garlic is browned, add in the cayenne pepper. The lentil cauliflower pot should be done by now, so immediately add the oil mixture to the lentil/cauliflower mixture. Lastly, add in the lemon juice and stir everything together.

Serve immediately over a bed of lettuce, brown rice or pita bread.

Weight Watchers Point Plus: 4 points plus per serving

 

 

Eating Clean: Avocado, Apple & Salmon Salad

Eating Clean: Avocado, Apple & Salmon Spinach Salad

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m going nuts over the fresh salmon my dad recently caught. I had some leftover fillets and decided to make myself a clean fruit & salmon salad. You’re getting plenty of healthy fats from the avocado and salmon, and the chopped apple really adds a nice sweet flavor when positioned against the spicy salsa. I put tons of spinach and kale in there, so it ends up being a large salad- big enough for dinner. This is also a great lunch salad; sometimes I’ll make and pack it at night and take it to work with me the next day.

Estimated Time (15 minutes):

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • Spinach & Baby Kale Mix: 2-3 handfuls
  • Fuji Apple (chopped): 1/2 small
  • Avocado: 1/4 medium
  • Roma Tomato (chopped): 1 small
  • Carrot (chopped): 1 medium
  • Lemon: 1 slice
  • Pico De Gallo Salsa: 2 tbsp
  • Grilled Salmon: 4 oz

Place all ingredients in a bowl and squeeze all the juice out of the lemon.  Toss lightly. The pico de gallo salsa and lemon juice are used as dressing which helps keep the fat content down. It’s light, fresh and super good for you.

Weight Watchers Points: 7 points plus

 

 

The Infamous Juice Cleanse Detox

detox juice cleansebex-juice-cleanse

Yep, I did it. I tried it. I gave it my all. I was committed. I didn’t cave to solid food. I wasn’t even “starving.” Yet, I both succeeded and failed at the infamous juice cleanse detox.

Why’d I do it? Well, despite my very healthy weekday meals and activities, I had spent the last few weekends with a lot of alcohol and I just felt like I needed to cleanse my body from all the toxins. I had heard about juice cleanses in the past, and had read that they often make you more productive, energetic and happy. This sounded like fun! After all, a new cold pressed juice shop just opened up down the street from my house. Why not give it a go? I signed up for a 3-day cleanse.

Here’s the truth about these juice cleanses: they’re different with each person. For me, it was a fucking disaster. Pardon my language, but this one merits some serious passion. Let me recap how it all went down with the JC:

  • Day 1: “This is fun! Sip on a juice every two hours…easy!” I was feeling confident and excited by this new project. I even went to the gym and did some cardio and weight resistance training. The juices tasted pretty sweet to me, but I wasn’t hungry or starving at all. I went to bed feeling excited to start Day 2.
  • Day 2 Morning: “Alright, let’s get to that first juice. Looking forward to a productive day of working out and running errands.” Got through juices 1-3 and completed a pretty good cardio spin class workout. Was running on endorphins around noon and felt great. Still no cravings for solid food. Go ahead and be fooled by the smile in the photo above, that’s when I thought all was bright and chipper!
  • Day 2 Afternoon/Evening: “Oh wait, I have a headache. Actually, I have like a REALLY bad headache.” I don’t know what happened here but this is where things started to spiral downhill. I completed the rest of my juices for the day, confused by what had happened to me. Honestly, it felt like I was REALLY hungover (and I didn’t even get a single glass of wine out of it! psst). Still no food in my body, but I figured it would go away with sleep.
  • Day 3: “Okay, now my head and my joints hurt. Maybe this isn’t for me.” By day 3, I decided to opt out of the juice cleanse. From here, I eased back into raw fruits and vegetables. And I was tired. Really tired.
  • Day 4: I’ve never been more excited for a kale and eggwhite scramble in my life. I made a delicious zucchini noodle and bay shrimp marina dish for dinner (stay tuned for the recipe!), and the headache was finally starting to go away. THANK G.

What happened to me? Not quite sure. But, my body was definitely communicating with me and I’m glad I listened to it. I had read that headaches are a common side effect, but these side effects were so severe that this juice cleanse only made me feel more lethargic, unproductive and sleepy. Not to mention, I don’t think my body was used to all the sugar from the fruit juices. However, this is how my body reacted to the cleanse; my sister-in-law did the cleanse with me, and she felt great the entire time. Different for everyone.

Hey man, at least I tried it: I both succeeded and failed at the infamous juice cleanse detox.

The Halibut Protein “Everything” Salad

hearty-halibut-protein-detox-salad

Hands down: one of my very favorite salads of all time because it’s packed with protein and colorful nutrients.  Adopted from my sister’s recipe book, this salad combines all sorts of delicious fruits and vegetables. I call it the “everything” salad because it’s got everything from brussel sprouts to avocado to orange slices to apples to mozzarella. It’s super moist and delicious, and the best part: it requires no dressing, at all! This salad is delicious and filling on its own, but if you’re looking for some extra filling, try it with the halibut fillet.

Estimated Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients: add as much much/little of each ingredient as you like!

  • Kale/Spinach/Romaine Lettuce: 1 large handful
  • *Halibut Fillet: 4 oz, seasoned and baked
  • **Brussel Sprouts: 7 pieces, halved and boiled
  • Apple: 1/2 small, chopped
  • Cucumber: 1 small, chopped
  • Red Onion: 1/8 cup, chopped
  • Avocado: 1/2 medium, chopped
  • Orange: 1/2 small, chopped
  • Baby Carrots: 4 small, chopped
  • Light String Cheese: 1 stick, chopped
  • Fat Free Cottage Cheese: 1/2 cup
  • Parmesan Cheese: 1 tbsp
  • Lemon Juice: 1/2 lemon
  • Salt: 2 shakes
  • Pepper: 3 cranks

*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly season the halibut fillet with your favorite seasonings (I personally love Santa Maria seasoning). Once the oven is ready, pop the fillet into the oven and cook for about 8-10 minutes or until the fish easily flakes apart.

**Brussel Sprouts: I like to boil the brussel sprout halves for about 10 minutes before throwing them into the salad.

While the halibut and brussel sprouts are cooking, chop all the other fruits and vegetables up. Once all the items are prepared, combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well. Enjoy!