Starbucks-copy PB&J protein box

Adapted from Platings and Pairings. Prepares 4 meals.

Ingredients:

  • 8 tbsp (32 g) Peanut butter (I find almond butter less tasty)
  • 4 tbsp (16 g) Bonne Maman mixed berry preserves
  • 4 Whole-wheat whole Grain Bread slices / 1 Whole Wheat Pita halved
  • 4 string Cheeses (or 4 oz. of mixed cheeses, like I did!)
  • 40 mixed Nuts (optional)
  • 4 Mandarin oranges
  • 20 Grape Tomatoes
  • 20 Baby Carrots
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch sticks
  • 2 Bell Peppers, cut into 1/2-inch sticks (optional)
  • 24 Cucumber slices (optional)

Directions:

  1. PB&J the sandwich thins, then slice in half. Cut the carrots / celery to bite size. Add the rest of the ingredients.

Please ignore the actual Starbucks fruit & nut packs in the photos, I just saved them since forever and wanted to use them up. ^_^ I tried the cucumber slices previously but they would retain so much moisture and get everything soggy. Same problem with hummus without having a cupcake paper or something to hold its viscous mass.

Costs:
3 lbs. Mandarins $5.99
Oaxaca cheese $4.99
Queso de Papa $1.99
Arnold Sandwich Thins $4.29
Grape Tomatoes $2.50
Carrots and Celery, sliced $2.21

$21.97 plus leftovers

~Jessica

Starbucks-copy strawberry overnight grains

Adapted from Kitchen Treaty and Life Made Sweeter

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup red quinoa, rinsed
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 2 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 3 tablespoons honey or pure maple syrup + more to taste if desired
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds*
  • 1/4 cup coconut chips

Directions:

  1. Combine uncooked rolled / old-fashioned oats, milk / Greek yogurt and sweetener and spices if using.
  2. Scoop some of the oats into a bowl, mason jar or a resealable container.
  3. Slice or chop up some strawberries and layer over the oats.
  4. Spoon in the rest of the oats on top. Alternatively, you can just mix in the strawberries with the oats and just add everything into the jar or container all at once.
  5. Seal up the container and park it in the fridge overnight.
  6. The next morning, you can heat the glass jar up in the microwave for a hot breakfast or enjoy your overnight oats cold straight from the fridge. You can add more milk and any fun toppings of your choice.
  7. It should keep for 4-5 days.

To cook the quinoa or steel-cut oats:

  1. Add water to a large saucepan set over medium-low heat. Stir in the oats, quinoa, and salt. Cook on medium-low, uncovered, until the grains are just tender and the water has evaporated, 15-20 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat. Stir in the coconut milk, chia seeds, honey or maple syrup, and vanilla. Taste and add additional sweetener if desired. Allow to cool, then pour into eight separate containers (about 1 cup per container). I like to use mason jars because they have lids + they’re sturdy and portable.

I didn’t have quinoa or steel-cut oats this time, but I loved the texture in the Starbucks version (shaved coconut might be harder to acquire, or pricy). I didn’t have almonds or fresh fruit either, maybe when it’s in season… I used some cow’s whole milk, but will try coconut milk next, if I cook the oats and quinoa together.

~Jessica

Starbucks-copy eggs & cheese protein box

According to No. 2 Pencil and Simply Recipes. Prepares 4 meals

Ingredients:

  • 8 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled 
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 oz. white Cheddar cheese
  • 4 Mandarin oranges
  • 20 Baby Carrots
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch sticks
  • Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter, portioned into 2 ounce containers
  • 8 multi-grain flatbread sandwich thins, cut in quarters (multigrain muesli bread)

Directions:

  1. Cover the eggs in a saucepan with water: Fill a saucepan about a quarter of the way with water. Place the eggs in a single layer at the bottom of the saucepan. Add more water so that the eggs are covered by at least an inch or two of water. 6 eggs should be covered by at least an inch, 7 to 12 eggs, 2 inches.
  2. Heat the pot on high heat and bring the water to a full rolling boil. add in 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  3. Turn off the heat, keep the pan on the hot burner, cover, and let sit for 10-12 minutes.
  4. Strain the water from the pan and run cold / ice water over the eggs to cool them quickly and stop them from cooking further.
  5. Brush apple slices lightly with fresh lemon juice to prevent browning if desired. Alternatively, keep the slices face down and pressed together prevent browning as well.
  6. Sprinkle eggs with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Assemble four protein bistro boxes and store refrigerated.
Before I added the peanut butter and smoked almonds

Eggs should be eaten within 5 days. I’m not a big fruit person, so I go cucumbers, carrots, and celery with pesto hummus. I did manage to find sandwich thins (Arnold) by some miracle. My first attempt, I decided to just try hard-boiling four eggs, to see if I could do it right. Next time, I will get a bigger pot or pan, and cook all eight eggs at once so I can meal prep for four lunches at a time. Teacher hack ^_^ This would look pretty with some red bell pepper, if they were in season and cheaper.

Carrots/Celery $1.99
Extra sharp cheddar $2.69
Gouda cheese $4.99
Arnold Thins $4.29
Esti pesto hummus $3.79
Cucumber $0.80
Green bell pepper $1.93
Dozen brown eggs $2.99

Total $23.47 for two ‘weeks’ worth of protein boxes (8 boxes)

~Jessica

Turkey chili with beans

Adapted from smitten kitchen and a Whole Foods ingredients list

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 2 1/4 pounds ground turkey (I used 1 lb.)
  • 2 cans 15.5 oz dark kidney beans, drained (I used Teasdale Chile verde beans and Goya Frijoles negros)
  • 1 14 ounce (400 g) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup canned vegetable stock or turkey broth
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar or lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa or cornmeal (I used corn starch)
  • 1/3 cup chili powder (I used paprika instead — sweeter flavor)
  • oregano, basil
  • cilantro, chopped, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Place a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the onion, stirring well, and cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the celery.
  3. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Gradually add the broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the Dutch oven. Stir in all of the spices (e.g. chili powder, cumin), cocoa (thickener), and tomatoes (and tomato paste).
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add the beans, bell pepper, salt, and vinegar (or lime juice), stirring well.
  5. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes more. Adjust flavor with your spices of choice. Top with the chopped cilantro.
  6. Garnish with cheddar, sour cream, and jalapeno, as you like it. Serve hot, with cornbread, if desired.

Turkey is good brain food, and Whole Foods has a Tequila lime turkey chili with beans that we would get, before I tried this recipe. I love the tomato paste that comes in metal tubes, like at Rewe or Kaufland or Edeka, because you wouldn’t have to worry about finishing the tin or storing the unused bit. I added ½ a carrot because I had it on hand and I didn’t think it would detract from the primary flavors. Wish I had some cheddar to grate on top!

Happy Boxing Day,
~Jessica

Garlic parmesan roasted sweet potatoes

Adapted from The Cooking Jar and Together as Family

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes peeled and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • Fresh thyme

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Peel and cut sweet potatoes into thin slices.
  2. Place garlic, oil, butter, salt, Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning in a bowl and mix well. Throw in sweet potatoes and toss until well coated.
  3. Lightly butter a baking dish and arrange coated sweet potatoes into a spiral. Sprinkle with a little parmesan if you like.
  4. Bake for 18-22 minutes. Serve the garlic parmesan roasted sweet potatoes warm and sprinkle with thyme if desired.

Jennifer picked out a recipe she wanted to use 3 sweet potatoes she had on hand, for a dinner we were invited to. These definitely needed to be cooked longer, or cut thinner. My bad! Next time I’ll do slices, which bake deliciously and look fancy as heck. Also, plastic is evil — avoid at all costs.

~Jessie

Fried salmon with fresh tomato and avocado salsa

Adapted from My Colombian Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound salmon
  • 1 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup sliced red onion
  • 1 jalapeño, sliced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:

  1. Drizzle olive oil over the salmon. Coat completely. Combine cumin, salt, and pepper and sprinkle mixture over the fish.
  2. When the pan is hot, place fish, skin side down. Cover and cook for about 4 minutes. Carefully turn the salmon, cover and grill an additional 3-4 minutes, more or less, depending on your taste. When the fish is cooked to your liking, remove from the pan and top with the avocado salsa.
  3. To make the salsa: Combine the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and avocado. Squeeze the lime juice over the salsa and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Set the salsa aside until serving.

I picked up an avocado at the corner green grocer. Had diced white onions and no fresh lime (not the season), and leftover (Whole Foods organic) cilantro from last time. I bought some local cherry tomatoes of different shapes and colors from Whole Foods, splurge! I forgot and used 1/2 lemon instead of the 1/2 lime still in the fridge (it was very dry though). I steamed a broccoli crown (over cooked a little bit more than the 4 minutes I should have done) for extra vegetable. And served over a bed of 1/2 organic brown, 1/2 Chinese white rice.

~Jessica

Avocado salsa

Adapted from Food 52

Ingredients

  • clove garlic, grated
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • ripe avocado, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 jalapeño, (omitted because I don’t handle spice)
  • 1/2 tomatillo, roughly chopped
  • scallion, roughly chopped
  • handful cilantro, roughly chopped
  • tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Fold everything gently together in a large bowl. Some of the avocado will mash naturally, but most of it should keep its shape, which tastes divine. Do the garlic and lime juice first, letting them mellow out while you chop up the rest of the ingredients. Serve fresh.

I first read about this in my Google News feed, on Salon. Took way more than five minutes to prep though. Served atop of my crispy pan-seared salmon on vegetable pasta.

~Jessica

Plum berry smoothie

IMG_20180814_075852.jpg

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup vanilla kefir (or whatever yogurt you have)
  • 2 large bananas, peeled (frozen ahead of time if you remember)
  • 1 plum, frozen, quartered
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 dates
  • 3 ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Pour in the almond milk.
  2. Add the kefir/yogurt and chia seeds and dates, to soak a bit and soften.
  3. Add the frozen plum.
  4. Add the two bananas, halved.
  5. Rinse your blueberries, and de-stem them if needed, before adding.
  6. Add the ice cubes. Blend all. Serve cold.

I froze my plums that I had quartered and de-pitted. I now have two more cut plums sitting in the freezer for the next couple of smoothies.

~Jessica

Blueberry banana smoothie

IMG_20180813_093705

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate kefir (or whatever yogurt you have)
  • 2 large bananas, peeled (frozen ahead of time if you remember)
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 3 ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Pour in the almond milk.
  2. Add the two bananas, halved.
  3. Rinse your blueberries, and de-stem them if needed.
  4. Add the kefir and chia seeds.
  5. Add the ice cubes. Blend until ready to serve.

I read that you can also freeze plums with a similarly nice slushie effect, so I quartered and de-pitted one for the next batch, sitting in the freezer now.

~Jessica

Green berry smoothie

IMG_20180708_222343-COLLAGE.jpg

Adapted from Diethood

Ingredients:
FOR THE BERRIES-MIXTURE
1-1/2 cups halved strawberries
1 banana
1/2- cup plain yogurt (I used Lifeway pomegranate kefir)
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup crushed ice
FOR THE GREENS-MIXTURE
2 cups torn kale leaves , packed (I used baby spinach)
1 green apple , quartered (optional)
1 banana
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I use Stonyfield Organic whole milk)
1/4 cup coconut/soy milk
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup crushed ice

Directions:
Freeze strawberries and 1 banana for 20 minutes. During that time, blend the kale, 1 banana, yogurt, honey, and ice until smooth and creamy. Divide into four portions and freeze for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, blend frozen strawberries, banana, yogurt, honey, and ice until creamy and smooth. Pour strawberry smoothie over kale and serve immediately.

Summertime means looking for cold, fresh, in-season recipes. This hits all the right spots for breakfast and a sweet treat. Plus, spinach has iron for us anemics!

~Jessica