Thursday, January 31, 2013

French Toast for One

I wasn't feeling my usual breakfast of eggs, Greek yogurt or a green monster protein smoothie post workout this morning. No way. Something more indulgent just sounded better. A loaf of fresh baked bread from my mom is sitting on my counter and a delicious idea came to mind. With just a few ingredients, I whipped up a single serving of French Toast that hit the spot! The frozen wild blueberries from Trader Joe's made a perfect topping when heated up in the microwave for 30 seconds.

This is a great (and easy) way to start your day on a sweeter note! So easy. So good.

French Toast for One

1 thick slice of good bread
1 egg
splash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk 
a few shakes of cinnamon
a few shakes of nutmeg
tiny slice of unsalted butter
fruit, to top

Cut slice of bread diagonally. Whisk together egg, almond milk, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour mixture onto a plate. Soak each triangle for about 2 minutes on each side, letting all of the goodness in. 

In a large, nonstick pan, melt a tiny bit of unsalted butter on medium heat. Place soaked bread in the pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, until it's nice a toasted. Serve with fruit, real maple syrup, powdered sugar and whatever else your heart desires.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bacon, Leek + Tomato Brisket with Polenta and Baby Arugula (volume 2)

Although we don't seem to be in the same boat as my freezing friends in the Northeast and the Midwest, Jack Frost has certainly made himself known here in Charlotte this week with frigid temperatures that don't appear on a Carolina forecast too often. When I worked on our meal plan for this week, I made sure to add some cozy (and healthy) meals to the list!

I made this last January in the bitter cold of the Illinois Winter and haven't made it again since. This wintry meal made it's way onto our menu this week and Mark and I forgot how seriously delicious it is. Everything is just thrown in the crock pot and simmers for nearly ten hours, making for a fantastic smelling kitchen if I do say so myself. 

Like I did previously, I served the brisket over a small portion of polenta to give the tasty juices somewhere to go. I also topped it off with baby arugula to add a fresh, peppery finish.

You can find the original post with the recipe HERE.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mediterranean Vinaigrette

Salads. One of my favorite of all of the food groups. 

If you open my refrigerator, you will never see a bottle of store bought salad dressing- I love to make my own! Making your own homemade dressings could not be easier or healthier. Not only can you control what goes in it, eliminating so much of the sodium and unpronounceable junk in those bottles from the grocery store, but you would be surprised at the random items you may already have in your kitchen that make excellent additions to any vinaigrette. Maple syrup, avocado, dijon mustard...I love to get creative.

This is a good basic vinaigrette that goes well with anything. Make a small batch to toss on a salad for two, or increase the measurements for a giant salad for your next dinner party, or just to keep on hand in the fridge. This also makes a great marinade for chicken, steak or pork- just eliminate the salt and salt your meat right before cooking.

Mediterranean Vinaigrette
serves a salad for 2 

2 Tbsp. good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic minced (or 1/4 tsp. garlic powder)
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl and toss with your favorite salad. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Health + Fitness Friday: Working out With a Growing Bump

It's Friday AND it's a beautiful one at that. The skies are finally clear and the sun is shining after four days of dreary clouds and rain. It's as though my mood has been instantly lifted and Mr. Wrigley seemed to wake up on the right side of the kennel as well. I started my Friday with a great workout which is always the best way to kick off the weekend, in my opinion. That and an early happy hour but since my happy hours these days consist of seltzer water, cucumber water, citrus infused water and get what I'm saying.

I'm linking up with my sweet friend Jen for Health + Fitness Friday so that I can quickly discuss what I've been doing to stay active all while I have a baby growing inside of me! Some people look at me like I have five heads when I say that I have continued to workout but honestly, I think it has made a huge difference in how I feel- which most of the time, is great! From the very beginning, I knew that I wanted to continue my regular workout schedule throughout my pregnancy and I am so happy that I have. I do feel very fortunate to have not had to deal with morning sickness or a major slump in energy level, which made maintaining my normal routine fairly easy. Had I been super sick, nauseous and tired in the beginning, it may not be the same story for me.

FUEL: Typically, I'm a morning workout person and used to just grab a few almonds or a spoonful of almond butter before working out. Right now though, I try to eat a small breakfast about an hour before I workout so that I can fuel my body a little extra. Hard boiled eggs and plain greek yogurt with fresh berries are my go-tos and always give me the extra energy I need for my workouts. Water is key for me, too. I have always been a big water drinker but I swear, being pregnant has turned me into some sort of a camel-like creature. I just can't get enough!

WORKOUTS: Prior to becoming pregnant, I was doing a lot of high intensity interval workouts that included a lot of crossfit and muscle confusion. I still do some crossfit type workouts but not near the intensity that I was once doing. I'm actually running more often than I was before and also doing strength training. I operate on an every other day schedule so for example on Monday, I will run or do some kind of cardio for 45 minutes. Then, on Tuesday, I'll only do 20-25 minutes of cardio and strength training. There are a few classes I like going to as well just so that I can mix things up. Right now, I aim for workouts 5-6 days a week!

My friend Kelly, who is a fitness instructor, reminded me that if you were doing it before you were pregnant, you can do it while you are pregnant! She gave me some great advice and said to just watch my heart rate, make sure my body temperature doesn't get overly high and to listen to my body. She also said that if you can carry on a conversation while working out, you're at a good pace. 

Also of note? Thanks to my workout playlist, this baby of mine is bound to come out dancing and fist pumping. Just like his/her mom :)

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend! 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Skinny Chicken Parm

Chicken parmesan is always a comforting meal, especially in the dreary days of the winter. Unfortunately, most recipes for this American-Italian dish are not so healthy with heavy breading on pan fried chicken that is then drenched in cheese and found atop a bed of pasta. While delicious, it's just not a light weeknight meal. 

Since I love making dishes healthier, with some inspiration from one of my favorite food blogs, Skinny Taste, I came up with a lighter version of Chicken Parm that is perfect for weeknight cooking and won't break your healthy streak. I started by simmering a quick marinara on the stove, and coated my chicken breasts in a mixture of almond meal, salt and pepper and a tiny bit of grated parmesan. The chicken is then topped with a sprinkle of mozzarella, baked and served on a bed of tri-color quinoa with extra marinara. This skinny dish is absolutely delicious! For a more Paleo friendly version, I like to use spaghetti squash instead of quinoa.

Skinny Chicken Parm
recipe adapted from Skinny Taste

28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (unsalted)
olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
a few shakes of dried oregano
handful fresh basil, chopped (if you have it on hand)
salt + pepper, to taste

4 chicken breasts (filleted, to make 8)
1 cup almond meal (found at Trader Joe's)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt + pepper, to taste
olive oil, for brushing
shredded mozzarella

Start by making the marinara. In a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan on medium-high heat, add garlic and cover with olive oil. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until garlic is soft and fragrant. Turn heat to medium-low and add tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Stir and let simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Fillet chicken breasts, cutting each in half, yielding 8 pieces of chicken breast. In a shallow dish (a pie dish works great) combine almond meal, salt, pepper and parmesan. Brush chicken with olive oil and coat in almond meal mixture. Place on a baking sheet and repeat with remaining pieces of chicken. 

Bake chicken in the oven for 20 minutes, then turn over and bake for another 5 minutes. 

Remove from oven, and top each chicken breast with sauce and a sprinkle of mozzarella. Bake for 5 more minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve over quinoa or spaghetti squash.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Glowing Greens Smoothie

When I posted a picture of my green smoothie on Instagram last week, I got simultaneous text messages from both of my sisters asking if that is what my lunch looked like after its been chewed. Silly sisters. If you feel the same, this recipe is probably not for you but if you have joined the green smoothie party, too, this is a one! 

I personally LOVE throwing a bunch of vegetables and fruit in a blender for a nutritious breakfast, lunch or afternoon snack. At nearly 20 weeks pregnant, I have never been so thirsty in my life and I am constantly gulping down water. Lately I have been craving juicy fruits like oranges and pineapple and I love snacking on celery. Mixing up a green smoothie helps quench my thirst and I'm getting tons of good nutrients as well. These are also an excellent source of vitamins for your skin! Hence...the glow before the greens in the recipe. When combining ingredients in a green smoothie, I find that some apple almost always adds just the right amount of sweetness so that you don't feel like you are sipping on a celery and spinach milkshake. 

I don't have a juicer yet, but I'm thinking that's next!

Glowing Greens Smoothie

1.5 cups water
2 romaine leaves
1 stalk celery
handful of baby spinach
1/2 apple, peeled and chopped
1/2 banana
juice of 1/2 lemon

Mix everything up in a blender until smooth. Add ice for texture, substitute water for almond milk, or even add in some fresh berries! Smoothies have no rules in my world. If it's still not sweet enough, try adding some Stevia. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Rigatoni all'Amatriciana

I wish this recipe was as fancy as the name sounds, but in reality, it's an easy and delicious pasta dinner that was always a quick go-to in our kitchen growing up. My parents learned to make this from my Godmother (a REAL chef) and it's just divine. I had to apologize to Mark for waiting OVER TWO YEARS to introduce him to this dish. Thanks to my non-paleo friendly, carb induced pregnancy cravings when nothing sounded tasty in October, I found all the ingredients for this pasta in my kitchen and had it on the table in no time. I just did what I remembered my parents doing, maybe made a few alterations and in the end, it tasted like it came from the Nido Kitchen, which is ultimate success! We devoured it again last night and the leftovers are already gone. It's almost better the next day.

The distinct flavor of bacon simmers together with garlic, onions and tomatoes to bring together a rich, yet simple sauce. I prefer this sauce served over Rigatoni and topped with freshly grated Romano cheese. 

Rigatoni all'Amatriciana

1 lb. Rigatoni pasta 
6-8 slices of good bacon, chopped
1 yellow onion, diced (or more if you are an onion lover)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can crushed tomatoes (no salt added)
salt + pepper to taste
Romano cheese to serve

In a large, heavy bottom sauce pan (I just use my French oven so I can toss in the pasta at the end), cook bacon on medium heat until cooked. Add onions and garlic, and simmer for 3-5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add crushed tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until sauce thickens. Toss with rigatoni and serve with freshly grated Romano Cheese. 

...Wrigley's nickname of the week has been Wrigatoni. It only seemed fitting that he wanted in on the Rigatoni dinner action. Ohhhh Wrigley.

Friday, January 4, 2013

#holycannoli #OMG #andbabymakesthree

Actually, four. Since the Wrigster is a family member that we love oh so much. Obviously.

We are so excited about this new adventure we are on and expanding our little family. This pregnancy is almost halfway over and I think it has yet to sink in that we are bringing a mini version of ourselves into this world! It is the biggest blessing. When we found out about Baby Moore at the beginning of October, we went through so many emotions as we tried to grasp what was really happening in the coming months. Anxious, nervous, can we do this?...but mostly we were filled with so much joy and even more love. It was an out of body experience. 

I am 18 weeks as of yesterday and feeling great! I have actually felt great from the very beginning, which I am truly thankful for. 

I haven't really changed up my workout routine much which I think is a huge factor into keeping my energy up and my mind focused on keeping my body healthy and in tip top shape for the entire pregnancy. I try to run every other day and on the days I don't run, I do other cardio and strength training. I like to take advantage of classes at the gym, too! My belly is slowly growing and I'm patiently waiting for the day that it magically pops- or so that is what everyone says happens. And pregnancy cravings are a REAL THING. Chocolate and ice cream are a given, but these days, I can't seem to get enough BLT sandwiches. Toasted. With mayonnaise on both sides. I DON'T EVEN LIKE MAYONNAISE. I guess there are worse things I could be craving? Strange craving #2- cucumber water. Crystal and I had a lunch date at Fern in early December and the water they serve is cucumber infused! It was love at first sip and I now always have some cucumbers steeping in a pitcher of water in the fridge. It's so refreshing and spa-like.

This has been the most exciting journey so far and I can't wait to see what the next 22 weeks bring. I hope to keep documenting a little bit over the next five months as we get ready for Baby Moore. We are most excited to meet our sweet little lovie in June. We aren't finding out the gender which means we will have the most magical surprise to look forward to this Summer. 

Happy 2013 to all!