Lunch prep

Sea Salt and Rosemary Sweet Potato Wedges

Hubs and I have been watching a documentary on Netflix called Down to Earth and it’s actually co-directed and produced by Zac Efron and Darin Olien. Obviously, you’ll know Zac Efron as an actor, but Darin has been around the health industry for a while now. He discovered Barukas, a super nut in the Savanna and has been a notable figure of health and fitness. While watching this documentary, hubs and I had a conversation about our health and ways we can continue to not only cut out refined, processed foods in our life, but make smarter choices about water, waste, and recycling. This renewed my love for plant-based, wholesome foods and recipes, and sent me into a meal prep FRENZY last weekend. Needless to say, on the menu this week are homemade burgers with a side of sweet potato wedges, which is the recipe that I’m sharing with you here!

French fries are delicious, there’s no doubt about it. However, the oils that are used to fry the potato is consistently exposed to oxygen which then takes the oil and makes it harmful to your body. Oils that are usually used to fry french fries are often canola, soybeal, or sunflower, which carry high levels of trans-fats and is often times genetically modified and exposed to pesticides. My oils of choice are often between cold-pressed organic Olive oil and Avocado oil. The beauty of these wedges is that they’re not even fried, they are baked with olive oil and have a perfectly sweet, crisp-at-the-bottom texture, with an herbed flavoring due in part to the dried rosemary.

This is such a simple recipe that it’ll become a home staple:

  • 2 medium garnet sweet potatoes, rinsed
  • Dried rosemary
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Preheat the oven to 400*. Take the sweet potatoes and cut off the ends. Slice them in half horizontally, then again vertically until you have four smaller quarters of the sweet potatoes. Slice them again into smaller wedges and toss into a large mixing bowl. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with dried rosemary and sea salt. Toss to fully coat and add to the baking sheet. Bake for ~20m (give or take a minute or two depending on your oven).

I cannot wait for you to give these guys a shot; they’re absolutely perfect as a side for burgers, a base for bolognese (if you follow a Paleo diet), excellent with eggs (OMG DOING THIS), and a healthy snack!

Fusilli Pasta with Red Pepper Cream Sauce

Pasta. Who says no to pasta? There’s virtually endless “pastabilities” when it comes to making pasta as a meal. You can add vegetables, a variety of meats, different sauces, different shapes of pasta, even alternative pastas such as Banza (chickpea) or brown rice pasta! It’s literally one of the most reliable pantry items that never disappoints.

I’ve wanted to try and make an easy cream sauce and figured being at home lends itself to more experimenting in the kitchen. I had a jar of roasted red peppers and some heavy cream, and decided to throw it into a blender with some dried herbs and parmesan. I will say that this sauce is heavy on the red pepper flavor, so if you aren’t a roasted red pepper fan, this may not be for you. However, I love them so this was incredibly tasty for me (my husband not so much… but hey, ya can’t win them all).

This sauce has layers of flavor: the cream, the parmesan, the peppers themselves, and then the oregano and basil added into it. Tossed with some fusilli pasta – one of my favorites – and it was exactly what my belly needed.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 package of preferred pasta
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried basil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Begin by boiling a pot of water. Salt the water and begin to cook your desired pasta until al dente and strain. Pour into a bowl. For the sauce, blend the peppers, cream, parmesan, and spices together in a blender. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir to combine. Sprinkle a little more salt, pepper, and parmesan and mix. Serve with fresh basil, a dollop of ricotta, or even some sautéed spinach or zucchini! Plus, this pasta and sauce tastes EVEN BETTER as leftovers the next day. #winning

Sausage and Peppers

Peanut butter and jelly. Macaroni and cheese. Donuts and coffee. Okay, the donuts and coffee doesn’t necessarily fit the analogy, but I can always go for a donut when I have coffee it sort of counts. Classic pairings are sometimes even more delicious than getting ultra creative and trying hard in the kitchen. During today’s current reality (I REFUSE to say new normal, because nothing about this is normal, it’s our current reality and if things shift afterwards – hopefully they do – it will be our new reality), it’s damn near impossible to order groceries on whatever site you use, grab a delivery slot, and get everything you hoped for. Sometimes, we have make do with what we have, and that’s what sausage and peppers was for me.

I’m a purist when it comes to certain foods, and sausage is one of them. I’m not a huuuge turkey or chicken sausage fan, I just feel like the flavor in pork sausage tastes better, and it’s higher fat for a reason! Trader Joe’s makes an awesome pork and beef uncured sausage link pack that I am dying to grab again, when I am brave enough to venture to stores. I had a pack in the freezer and decided “THIS is a good time to take these out and make lunch with them.” I had also ordered several bell peppers from the previous week’s grocery delivery, so AHA!… let’s make sausage and peppers. I’d like to take a moment to settle a debate here too: I despise green peppers. There is no room for them at the table: they smell and taste like dirt and are super bitter. I prefer orange and yellow bell peppers and usually have them on hand.

Here’s what you’ll need for this super simple and tasty dish:

  • 1 pkg sausage (I’ll allow turkey or chicken substitutes here), sliced into small rounds
  • 2 medium peppers, julienned (sliced thin)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Your favorite spicy seasoning – I use a fajita mix or cajun mix, I would also use New Bae seasoning from Primal Palate, found here!

Start by heating a large sauté pan with the olive oil. Throw in the peppers and let them cook down until they begin to sweat and slightly brown, this will be around 5-7 minutes. Throw in the sliced sausage and sprinkle in your seasoning. Cook until the sides of the sausage are browned and the peppers are soft.

This dish is perfect on its own, over orzo pasta, paired with rice, or can be tossed with other roasted veggies. I will also say this stays well in the fridge so it’s a perfect stay-at-home meal prep for lunches. Enjoy!

Beef and Bean Chili

It’s March, and while it’s not necessarily Spring yet, it’s certainly starting to feel like it. I’ll also admit that I haven’t had my usual energy to do much cooking or prepping, so this week is about keeping things simple and delicious, and helping my husband not spend money on lunch everyday for the rest of the week. Nevertheless, chili is something that I have always loved making because you can virtually make anything into a chili. I have a traditional chili on the blog already, but decided to ramp this one up with black beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and roasted corn, all ingredients easily found in Trader Joe’s. I must admit, I couldn’t stop “taste testing” this one as it simmered.

I’ll keep this blog post super simple and cut right to the ingredients and recipe directions, because mama’s tired and needs her sleep (after all, we only have 10 more days until bub is due and I’ll need as much sleep between now and then as possible!).

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 can rinsed and drained garbanzo beans
  • 1/2 can rinsed and drained black beans
  • 1 cup Trader Joe’s frozen roasted corn
  • 2-3 tbsp Chili powder
  • 2 tbsp Paprika
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • A shake of red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. In a large pot (I love my Staub cocotte), add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pot and turn the heat to medium. Add in chopped onions and saute until fragrant.
  2. Add in ground beef and brown until done. Add in can of crushed tomatoes, and seasonings (you’ll more than likely need more seasonings as the chili builds).
  3. Rinse and drain black beans and garbanzo beans, add them to the chili and stir to combine. Add in the cup of frozen corn and add a second round of seasonings (as desired, taste the chili first – when I did this I noticed it needed more smokey flavor so I added more chili powder).
  4. Turn heat to low/simmer and cook for another hour, stirring occasionally as to not burn the bottom.
  5. Serve with rice, potatoes, or quinoa!

Kale with Sausage and Onion

I’m one of those people that has a love-hate relationship with kale.  Sometimes I’m craving it, but other times I want nothing to do with it.  Kale can be so versatile: sautéed, steamed, made into chips, tossed with some oil and lemon, or layered in a sandwich.  My personal favorite: sautéed for sure.IMG_3808

This recipe is so delicious and perfect for lunch and meal prepped.  I’m totally one of those ladies who will #mealprep on Instagram and be all proud I took care of my food for the week, and this one never fails me.  For the sausage, I never skimp out – I always use pork, but it has to be good quality.  I like Niman Ranch or Applegate (or even Vermont brand has quality nitrate-free uncured sausage).  The snap that the sausage has on it when it’s cooked is great and takes seasoning very well.  I cut the links into 1/4in thick circles and chop the onion into slices as well.  The onion goes in the pan first and will cook until translucent and fragrant (who doesn’t love the smell of cooking onions in a pan?).  Then I add the sausage and sauté until the sausage browns on the sides.

I like a traditional Old bay seasoning, but didn’t have any so I opted with a Mexican blend.  It acted as a nice little twist to the dish.   After the sausage is pretty much browned on both sides, add in the kale and stir it in by layering the onions and sausage on top to wilt the leaves.  Continue to do this and add as much kale as you’d like!  I also added a bit more oil to saturate the kale and get things nice and seasoned.  This could be done with a varietal of foods like spinach instead of kale, chicken sausage, peppers AND onions (mind.blown), or stick to the recipe!  The choice is yours 🙂 Happy cooking!

Kale with Sausage and Onion

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg sausage
  • 2 bunches organic kale - rinsed; just the leaves
  • 1 medium onion sliced thin
  • 3 tbsp olive oil I used avocado oil
  • Seasoning such as Old Bay or your choice!

Instructions

  1. In a large sauce pan, heat the oil on a medium heat.
  2. Slice onions into long strips and set aside. Chop the sausage links into 1/4in thick rounds and set aside.
  3. Add onions to the pan and sauté until fragrant and translucent
  4. Add in sausage to the onions and begin to sauté until browned.
  5. Season the onions and sausage with choice of seasoning and stir.
  6. Layer in the kale and stir in as needed. Add in a bit more oil as desired.
  7. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Swap out pork sausage for chicken as desired. Use spinach instead of kale if thats' what you prefer!