Meal-Prep Roundup: Real-Food-Style

Look no further for meal preparation inspiration! Never again will you say ‘I have no time,’ ‘I’m out of ideas,’ or ‘healthy food is gross!’ Check here periodically to learn how you, too, can cook well and eat well.

Holiday Harvest Sausage Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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The only thing better than holiday meals is the leftovers! Create this colorful, fancy-shmancy dinner, reminiscent of your Thanksgiving best.

 

Ingredients

-2 bags mixed greens (I enjoy spinach and arugula)

-1 cubed butternut squash

-1 package low-sodium sausage (Challenge: Can you stay below 500mg per link?)

-2 large handfuls of asparagus, trimmed

-Crumbled salty cheese, for garnish (try feta, bleu, or goat!)

-Pomegranate seeds to garnish

-Candied pecans (Trader Joe’s has a great variety!)

-Dressing: Mix 4Tbsp dijon mustard, 1/2c balsamic vinegar, 1Tbsp honey, sprinkle of salt

 

Directions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425F. Peel and cube the butternut squash (1inch cubes) while the oven heats
  2. Toss butternut squash in olive oil and sprinkle with salt/pepper/red chili flakes. Spread on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Roast for 20-25 mins, tossing halfway. (Squash is done when easily pierced with a fork)
  3. When the squash is about halfway done, spread the trimmed asparagus on top of the same cookie sheet (Yep, you read that right! Layer those right over the top of your squash). Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt/pepper. Roast until your spear bends easily when you hold it up (vertically)
  4. Cook sausage according to package directions (if it’s already cooked, I like to put it in the oven just long enough for it to be crispy on the outside)
  5. Prepare your dressing (ingredients listed above) and store in a Tupperware container
  6. Clean your pomegranate (or take the shortcut way and purchase the pre-seeded kind)
  7. Ready to assemble? Grab a dinner plate and let’s get to it:ย  Layer mixed greens, squash, sliced sausage, and asparagus spears. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, crumbled cheese, candied pecans, and dressing. Serve with wine for an extra fancy flair!

Thanksgiving For Lunch

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Not quite a hot meal, but not quite a salad; This savory-sweet lunch is best described as Thanksgiving in a bowl! The proportions below yield enough to make a week's worth of grub, so let's get cooking. Your meal-prep game just leveled up.

 

Ingredients

-1.5c red quinoa (or whichever color you like. I enjoy red for the color contrast)

-1 cubed butternut squash

-4c frozen, shelled edameme

-4oz crumbled feta cheese (try the ‘lite’ version if you dare! I prefer the richer full-fat version)

-1/2c pomegranate seeds

-4c arugula

-Dressing: Mix 4Tbsp dijon mustard, 1/2c balsamic vinegar, 1Tbsp honey, sprinkle of salt

 

Directions

  1. Boil 3c water on the stovetop. Add in quinoa and cook according to package directions
  2. While waiting for the water to boil, pre-heat your oven to 425F. Peel and cube the butternut squash (1inch cubes) while the oven heats
  3. Toss butternut squash in olive oil and sprinkle with salt/pepper/red chili flakes. Spread on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Roast for 20-25 mins, tossing halfway. (Squash is done when easily pierced with a fork)
  4. Prepare your dressing (ingredients listed above) and store in a Tupperware container
  5. Clean your pomegranate (or take the shortcut way and purchase the pre-seeded kind)
  6. Store all components we just made (squash, quinoa, seeds, dressing) in separate containers in the refrigerator until ready to use
  7. Ready to assemble? Grab your to-go lunch container and let’s layer: 1c arugula, 1/2c-1c quinoa, 1/2c squash, 1c frozen edamame (it’ll defrost by lunchtime), sprinkle of pomegranate seeds, 1oz crumbled feta, and 2Tbsp dressing. Shake it up and pack it for later! Don’t forget to grab a fork!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Stuffed Dates

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: Easy
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What's better than sharing homemade food with friends? Nothing! Scientists know that a robust social life AND a positive relationship with food are keys to a healthy body and mind. For these reasons, I want you to share these Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Stuffed Dates this weekend! These are no-bake, potluck-perfect, sweet treats you don't want to miss out on.

Ingredients

-20 dates (either pit them yourself, or purchase a pre-pitted bag)

-1 bag dark chocolate chips

-Course sea salt

-1 jar no-stir natural peanut butter

Directions

  1. Slice each date lengthwise with a knife, so you have something resembling an open clam (But don’t slice all the way through!)
  2. Grab a spoon and stuff each date with peanut butter (as much or as little as you wish)
  3. Place peanut butter dates on parchment paper. Freeze for 10 minutes to allow peanut butter to set
  4. While dates are in the freezer, empty half of the dark chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each segment until chips are melted. Be careful not to burn them!
  5. Remove dates from the freezer, and coat each one with dark chocolate. Sprinkle each date with sea salt (Note: Depending on how much chocolate you like, you may need to heat more chocolate chips)
  6. Return dates to the freezer and allow chocolate to set. Enjoy!

 

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Move over, mashed potatoes, because cauliflower wants to steal your thunder! Switch up the same ol' routine and give this savory, creamy mashed cauliflower a try. Pair it with steak, chicken, tofu, or roasted veggies and a crunchy salad!

Ingredients

-1 head of cauliflower chopped into bite-sized pieces

-5 minced garlic cloves (raw is fine, but roasted garlic cloves will deliver more flavor!)

-4 whole rosemary sprigs

-1tsp garlic salt

-1/2c sour cream

-Magic Bullet or other food processor (a blender will work if that’s all you have)

Directions

  1. Chop cauliflower and place into large saucepan. Turn stove-top to medium; heat over DRY heat (no water, no oil, nothing!) stirring regularly. *Note: This serves to remove moisture from the cauliflower.
  2. After 5 minutes, add minced garlic, garlic salt, and rosemary sprigs. Continue to stir.
  3. Remove pan from heat. Allow to cool (when you can handle the cauliflower pieces by hand, that’s cool enough).
  4. Working in small batches, (so as not to overload your food processor) puree cauliflower, garlic, rosemary, and sour cream. *If working in small batches, divide sour cream and garlic among each batch going into the machine.
  5. Plate into a serving dish, and enjoy warm.

 

Taco Tuesday Baked Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Taco Tuesday just got even more exciting! We'll use taco seasoning as a dry-rub for perfectly baked chicken thighs. Pair this creation with Spanish rice or baked sweet potatoes, and sweet roasted peppers for a well-rounded meal!

Ingredients

-4 chicken thighs with skin

-Taco seasoning (I used Trader Joe’s; it’s a cheater method for sure, but luckily I have no shame in shortcuts!)

-2Tbsp olive oil

-5 minced garlic cloves

-1/2c chopped shallots (green onions are the same thing)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil (This is your consistent first step when cooking chicken thighs/breast)
  2. While the oven is preheating, arrange chicken thighs on cookie sheet. Remove skin from each piece
  3. Rub a thin, even coating of taco seasoning all over each chicken thigh. Distribute the garlic and green onions evenly on all pieces
  4. Place chicken skin back on each piece and drizzle olive oil evenly over each piece
  5. Place cookie sheet in oven and bake for 60 minutes.
  6. As always, the chicken is done when ZERO pink remains (cut into the thickest part with a knife to be sure).

 

Baked Pesto Chicken and Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Those devoted to the classic chicken, rice, and veggie meal-prep combination will love this (oh so slight) savory variation. Did you know there are about 10 million ways to flavor a chicken? Somebody get the pesto, because it's time to level up your game!

Ingredients

-4 chicken thighs with skin

-2 TBSP Trader Joe’s Quinoa Basil Pesto

-1/4c feta cheese

-5 minced garlic cloves

-1/2 red onion, sliced thinly

-1c cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

-2-3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil
  2. While the oven is preheating, arrange chicken thighs on cookie sheet. Remove skin from each piece
  3. Spread 2TBSP basil pesto onto each chicken. Distribute the feta cheese, garlic, and red onion evenly on all pieces
  4. Place chicken skin back on each piece, covering the pesto/cheese combination completely. Add tomato slices to the cookie sheet.
  5. Drizzle chicken and tomatoes with olive oil. Place in oven and bake for 60 minutes.
  6. The chicken is done when ZERO pink remains (cut into the thickest part with a knife to be sure).

 

Fig Bar Filling

  • Servings: 10-12 2 Tbsp servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Remember Fig Newton bars from your childhood? The sweet, sticky filling was always the best part, so enjoy the good stuff and take a trip down memory lane.

Ingredients

-8 small figs, sliced in half

-3Tbsp balsamic vinegar

-2Tbsp honey

-1 cookie sheet lined with foil

-Magic Bullet, blender, or food processor

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil
  2. While the oven is preheating, wash and slice each fig in half
  3. Arrange figs on cookie sheet. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar
  4. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool before placing in Magic Bullet (or blender or food processor)
  5. Place cooled figs in blender, add honey, and blend until no lumps remain.
  6. Enjoy your fig bar filling by the spoonful, mixed into yogurt, oatmeal, or made into homemade fig bars if you’re feeling extra crafty!

 

Spicy Tacos, Vegetarian-Style

  • Servings: 15-20, but note the lentil base is freezer-friendly
  • Difficulty: easy
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Who says you can't please everyone? Omnivores and herbivores alike will be begging for this taco recipe. It's up to you whether you want to give up your secret!

Ingredients

-1 package of lentils (preferably split lentils because they cook faster. Choose whichever color you like!)

-1/2 package Trader Joe’s taco seasoning (or DIY if you’re feeling adventurous)

-2Tbsp olive oil

-1 chopped onion (red, white, or yellow. Don’ mattah)

-1c chopped unsalted walnuts

-Taco fixings (taco shells, guac, diced tomato, shredded lettuce, queso fresco, plain Greek yogurt OR sour cream…you know the drill!)

Directions

  1. Cook lentils on stove-top according to package directions (roughly 15 minutes if you chose the split variety)
  2. While lentils are cooking, chop your onion and sautee it in olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Go back to those lentils: turn heat to Low and stir in 1/2 of the taco seasoning package, the walnuts, and the sauteed onion.
  4. Choose your own adventure: Either pulse the lentil mixture in a food processor until it resembles taco meat, OR simply mash some of the lentils in your saucepan with the back of a wooden spoon (simplicity is a beautiful thing, people)
  5. It’s taco time! Construct your tacos however you like. Let the extra lentils cool, put in a freezer bag, and stash it in the freezer for next time!

 

 

Confetti Egg Muffins

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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It's an egg muffin party, and I invited the WHOLE EGG to the venue! The yolk does have cholesterol, but guess what? 1. Every single one of your body's cells needs cholesterol. 2. Your liver can make it on it's own. 3. Your body down-regulates it's own cholesterol production when you eat dietary cholesterol (and up-regulates production when needed). 4. Dietary cholesterol NEGLIGIBLY contributes to the amount of cholesterol in the body (in most people). Phewf! Now that we've learned some foodie science, let's get back to the party essentials; The salami, basil, and tomato used here are the most delicious confetti!

Ingredients

-2 whole eggs (Pick brown or white or speckled; the color doesn’t affect the egg’s nutrition at all!)

-2TBSP milk (whichever kind you like)

-3 TBSP Nutritional Yeast (for a to-die-for cheesy flavor)

-1/4tsp salt, dash of pepper

-1/4c almond meal

-1 diced tomato

-2tsp basil

-2TBSP salami, cut into small pieces

Directions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Grease a 6-muffin tin (olive oil or cooking spray will do the trick)
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs and milk until frothy, just as you would beat scrambled eggs
  3. Stir in the nutritional yeast and almond meal until no clumps remain
  4. Stir in your add-ins (salt & pepper, salami, basil, tomato)
  5. Distribute the mixture into your muffin tins
  6. Bake until golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean (approx. 15 minutes)
  7. Remove from muffin tin and cool on a wire rack

 

 

Chicken Pesto Sandwiches

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Good food doesn't need a trendy gluten-free, vegan, Paleo, or Keto label. These sandwiches are just plain GOOD, and that's a word that resonates with everyone!

Ingredients

-2Tbsp basil pesto (either DIY or use Trader Joe’s bomb diggity Quinoa Pesto)

-Baked chicken breasts or thighs (bake ’em plain ahead of time, so you’re ready to assemble from here!)

-1-2 slices good garlic sourdough bread, toasted

-3 tomato slices

-1-2Tbsp whole-milk ricotta cheese (or skim, or whatever you like)

-Romaine lettuce leaves for garnish

-Extra basil pesto, if desired

Directions

  1. Like the meal-prep master you are, either defrost or take from the refrigerator 1-2 pre-baked plain chicken breasts or chicken thighs
  2. Slather the chicken in basil pesto
  3. Toast your sourdough bread. Hands off! It smells good, but don’t sneak any bites yet!
  4. Assemble: Slice of bread, shmear of ricotta cheese, lettuce leaf, tomato slices, more pesto (Fact: There is no such thing as too much pesto!), and chicken. Top it off with another ricotta-shmear and bread, or leave it open-faced