Bytes of Love

Working mommy. Startup daddy. Rascal toddlers.

Category: Breakfast, Brunch & Lunch (Page 1 of 4)

Four Weekday Recipes You Can Actually Make

Well, when you guys told me that two-small-children, two-careers life is crazy, you weren’t kidding. If you’re like us, the hours of 5 pm – 9 pm on week days are pretty…intense. By intense I mean that the baby needs to be nursed, while the toddler needs some fruit, wants to play with play-doh, and needs help while going potty. ALWAYS at the exact same time. All at once. Daddy isn’t home yet to help, but thank goodness he’s there for dinner. Dinner is an exciting mix of food going everywhere, negotiations for more blueberries, and the baby refusing to sit in his bouncer for longer than two minutes because he HAS TO sit at the table with us and pull on mommy’s hair while she eats dinner. And, nurse again while she attempts to eat, of course. After dinner, we do dual bath and bed times, books, evening snack and bottle, and then label the next day’s bottles for daycare, do some laundry, and pick out everyone’s clothes for the next day. Anil and I usually don’t get “us” time until about 11 pm or so.

Somehow, when you’ve been away at work from your kids,  you don’t mind the circus after work. As hectic as it is, it’s really hard not to smile when the toddler tells you the “skarks” in Finding Nemo are scary :-) It’s such a blessing to have healthy children.  I’m also constantly being told that I’ll miss these moments one day, so I will take y’all’s word for it.  However, there is one thing I’ve really come to dislike when I get home and that’s cooking meals and doing dishes. It takes away from precious family time that we never seem to get enough of these days.  I never thought I’d say this and I still love to eat, but having a lot of time to prepare meals is just not happening. And that’s ok. We still manage to pull together dairy-and-soy-free dinners (for me, who nurses an allergic Asher) on most days, with shameless take-out meals making up for whatever we’re lacking. I thought I’d share a few of these super simple meals, in case you’re in the same boat and don’t have more than about 15 minutes to get dinner on the table.

Four Weekday Recipes You Can Actually Make

1. Oven roasted veggies and sausage: Pick a few veggies that don’t get too soggy in the oven. We like sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onions. Add your favorite kielbasa or sausage. Don’t eat meat? You can try tofu or soy based sausage, or toss in cooked lentils at the end. Toss the veggies and sausage with natural Italian seasoning, some garlic powder, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Bake at 350 to 375 from about 45 minutes to an hour (really depends on your oven). Done! Healthy, easy, and you can prep it the night before and just throw it in the oven as soon as you get home. Depending on the protein you pick, this is a wonderful gluten, dairy, and soy-free meal as well.

Oven roasted goodies

2. Alexia frozen veggies and fried eggs: If you’re going to go the frozen route, Alexia is actually a pretty good brand because they use all natural ingredients. I like their asparagus, red potato, and mushroom medley. I sauté this mix with a little bit of olive oil and then fry some eggs for protein. Very simple, but tasty.

Alexia and eggs

3. Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala burgers in tomato-cilantro sauce. Ok, this one requires a little bit more night-before prep and also requires you to have some Indian spices on hand. Go grab a small container and mix in a teaspoon of turmeric, a teaspoon of fennel seeds, a teaspoon of dried thyme, a teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala. Mix well and get back to it the next day when you’re ready to cook. When it’s game time, grab a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes and a handful of fresh cilantro. Wash well and toss in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add some olive oil to a pan and add the dry spice mix. Cook for a few minutes and add the tomato-cilantro mix. Cook for another 5 minutes or so and crumble in the completely defrosted veggie burgers, from TJ’s, of course. Cook for another 10 and you’re done! Indian food that tastes like it took an hour to make, done in about 20 minutes.

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4. Chimichurri-anything. I absolutely love chimichurri sauce. It’s so easy to make and you can prepare it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. Here’s what you do: take 1 cup fresh cilantro, 1/2 cup fresh parsley, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 large cloves of garlic, 1/2 tbsp cumin powder, 1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like the heat). Blend it all in a food processor & toss it on pretty much anything. And by anything I do mean anything: roasted or steamed veggies, potatoes, meats, tofu, tempeh, chicken, yuca, you name it. SO good.

Chimi

4 Ingredient Chia Pudding

We’ve come such a long way since the chia pet….or have we?! Chia seeds are back in style. You hear as much about them as you hear about kale and coconut-anything these days. With our juice is loose movement still going strong, we’ve been adding chia seeds to our smoothies every morning. Then I read this post and had to try out chia pudding. Four Ingredients and some minor stirring later, Dilan, daddy and I devoured most of this creamy goodness in one sitting. I followed this recipe almost exactly, but reduced the tablespoons of maple syrup to 1.5. The pudding was still fairly sweet, so I may even try to leave it out next time. I used Silk’s unsweetened coconut milk instead of regular milk, but I’m guessing if you use the vanilla kind that you can just omit the vanilla from the recipe. I also used black instead of white chia seeds. I have yet to hunt for the white ones.

Just to recap: stir together 1 1/2 cups of coconut (or any other kind) of milk, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of sweetener (maple, agave, or other), 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla, and 1/3  cup of chia seeds. Pop in the fridge for 4 hours or so and you’re done! The pudding will take on a tapioca kind of consistency. Top it with your favorite fruit and you’ve got yourself a wholesome breakfast or snack.

Now one thing to watch out for are chia seed recalls. Lots of them lately. I found a good site to check for these: http://jillsjuices.com/recent-food-recalls/.

Overall, this was delicious, quick, easy, and so much more nutritious than any type of Jello you’ll find in the grocery aisles. As a bonus, I got to sing the chia pet song to Dilan, which cracked him up. Give this a try and please let me know if you come up with any cool variations!

4 ingredient chia pudding

Loaded Portobello Mushroom Burgers

A few weekends ago, we made these Portobello mushroom burgers and they were uh-mazing. I call them loaded because even though they don’t have a ton of ingredients piled on, they are loaded with flavor. Here’s how we made them:

The ‘Shrooms
Simply wash and pat dry the mushrooms. We grilled three total on our George Foreman grill. Whether you do this on a Foreman or in a grill pan, count on grilling these for about 10 – 15 minutes. We added a balsamic glaze from Trader Joe’s to these before we tossed them on the grill, but beware that this may cause them to grill a bit faster (and they will burn if you don’t take them off the grill on time). We served the mushrooms on whole wheat buns.

The Toppings
A healthy dose of guacamole goes amazingly well on top of the mushrooms. Check out my homemade version here: http://instagram.com/p/mdcTMrtTTl/. I also picked up some organic mayo from Trader Joe’s and mixed it with a good amount of Sriracha. Delicious, but if you want a healthier version of this, mix some plain greek yogurt with Sriracha instead. Or, go half and half. Finally, grind some freshly ground black pepper on top and you’re good to go! We served this on bibb lettuce that we got from our weekly local produce box. Some baked sweet potatoes would make a terrific side as well. What do you think?

loaded portobello mushroom burgers

The Juice is Loose

Yeah you read that right. We’ve been juicing! Anil really is the best hubs ever and decided to get me a belated Valentine’s day present last month. This is awesome for two reasons: 1) We don’t even exchange Valentine’s day gifts because there’s rarely a good sale on anything around that time and 2) I got a Breville juicer!! I feel like we’re the last people in the first world to get a juicer, but hey, it’s been amazing. Life changing is really more like it. So far, we’ve juiced mixes of carrots, green apples, kale, celery, sweet potato, cilantro, ginger, and zucchini.

The main benefit of juicing? You get nutrients delivered directly to your bloodstream. And you can feel this: every day that we’ve juiced, we have felt a jolt of energy and have not touched caffeine of any kind throughout the day. It’s so cleansing and you just feel so fresh and energetic. It’s also pretty cool to throw in an entire apple without having to cut it. It’s magic.

Breville Juicer

The main downside of juicing? Because a professional juicer takes out all the flesh and skins of fruits and veggies you lose out on fiber and need to make sure that you’re adding that back into your diet some other way. If you juice too many fruits, you may also be getting too much sugar directly into your bloodstream, which is why we stick to mostly veggies. Now the juicer is great, but it takes a lot of work to clean it up and we weren’t crazy about the fact that you’re not getting fiber from all the produce. So now, we mainly juice on the weekends, when we have a little more time to spare in the morning. For weekdays…

Blendtec

Enter the Blendtec. Smoothies give you the fiber you need and keep you fuller longer since they’re slower to digest. There’s also only one jar and lid to clean. Problem solved. We have an old (15+ years?) blender in our cabinet, but it’s no match for the Blendtec. When you start researching blenders, you’ll soon find that the Vitamix and the Blendtec are the top 2 high end blenders on the market. They’re both highly reviewed (and pricey), but we went for the Blendtec for several reasons: the Blendtec allows you to simply add your ingredients, close the jar, push a button and sit back. With the Vitamix, you may have to push down the food or may have to switch speeds. Small extra steps, but important ones. We also read some complaints about the jar being so tall that it did not fit under standard kitchen cabinets. This may have been fixed, though. The Blendtec also comes with a touch interface and is touted as “the iPhone of blenders”. Switches may last longer, but we’re suckers for clean designs. We were sold and have been making smoothies almost every single day since. Even soon-to-be 18 months Dilan participates. We usually feed him a protein or non-GMO cereal alongside the smoothie or juice, but as soon as he hears the sound of the Blendtec, he wants in. It’s a great way to sneak in extra fruits and veggies. As health nut and foodie parents, we just love this. We cut up fruits and veggies the night before and ta daa, breakfast is done in minutes. I used to bake breakfast breads for the week on Sundays, but smoothies and juice have now replaced these.

Stay tuned for our favorite smoothie and juice recipe making their way to the blog soon. Cheers!

Baby Bok Choy Omelets

Some of you may know that Anil makes the most AMAZING omelets. I really can’t make them better myself. We love having omelets for breakfast or brunch because they’re light, healthy, and nice and filling. About two weeks ago, we had some baby bok choy leftover in the fridge so we simply sautéed it with a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil and just a tiny splash of soy sauce. After sautéing it, Anil added it to the omelet with some low-fat shredded Mexican blend cheese. Guys, it was to die for. We made them again for brunch today.  It’s fabulous Sunday brunch food and I can’t wait to eat these again. Here are some tips on how to pull this off:

  • Mix all your ingredients in a separate bowl first. Anil combines eggs, a generous splash of milk (any kind will do, as long as it’s not too sweet), salt and pepper, and some red chili powder for heat.
  • Cook the omelet on medium heat and brush the pan with olive oil first. Don’t use too much oil, just some oil applied with a brush works best.
  • Carefully turn the omelet and add your veggies / meats / cheese to the middle of the omelet. You’ll only need about two more minutes before you can fold all sides to the middle and serve it warm. Mmmm enjoy!

baby bok choy omelets

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Five Ingredient Kale Smoothie

I know what you’re thinking: you’re not quite done sipping on hot chocolate yet. Don’t worry, we do our fair share of sugar and fats damage during the holidays. When we are on staycation for a full 10 days though, we try to get  some more exercise in and slip in some detox foods like this five ingredient kale smoothie. I’m not a smoothie connoisseur, so don’t know a ton of green smoothies to compare this to, but what appeals to me about this one is that it only has five basic ingredients and it doesn’t taste like a ton of grass :-)

Here’s how you whip one up:

Ingredients

About 3 kale leaves, torn up
1/2 cup pineapple chunks
1 cup coconut milk (any kind)
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon powder

Directions

Simply add all ingredients to a blender and liquify away! Makes about 2 tall glasses. Enjoy cold.

kalesmoothie

Goodbye Summer: Watermelon & Halloumi Cheese

I have to admit it: I don’t care about summer…at all. I know that’s shocking to most people who live for summer, but I can totally live without the humidity and extreme (85F+ degrees) heat that we have here in North Carolina. I’m all about fall. The weather’s perfect, scenery is gorgeous where we live, slow cooker meals are nice and easy, football season is back, and PUMPKIN BEER.

Watermelon & Halloumi Cheese

On the flip side, I love summer fruits. So if you have any leftover watermelon, give this 10 minute recipe a try:

1. Chop up a seedless watermelon into bite-size pieces.

2. Get your hands on some Halloumi cheese! This is similar to mozzarella, but is much saltier, and is often made out of a mixture of sheep’s, goat, and sometimes cow’s milk. I get mine at Trader Joes.

3. Slice the Halloumi cheese into bite size pieces as well and fry with two tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat, until golden brown and a crust starts to form. Gently pat dry and serve next to the watermelon.

4. Drizzle both with balsamic glaze (Trader Joe’s again, people!) and finely chopped fresh basil. Serve as a snack or lunch. Pair with sangria or wine if you want to be adventurous. I promise you’ll like this. If you don’t, you’ll eat least look fancy 😉

watermelon & halloumi cheese

Mini Baked Omelettes

I may not be able to pull off a picture perfect dinner every evening, but one thing I know how to do is make a good breakfast. I LOVE breakfast. It’s my favorite meal of the day. I even make us brinner (breakfast for dinner) once in a while, especially during the colder fall and winter months. My biggest rule about breakfast is that it has to be easy. Ideally, bake-able. So when I came across this recipe on Pinterest, I just couldn’t contain myself. Want to share the joy with me? Here’s what you do:

  • Crack a few eggs (minimum of six) and add a splash of milk. I usually buy large organic eggs, but whatever you have on hand is fine. Eight eggs will buy you about 9 mini omelettes.
  • Chop up some veggies. Green onions, bell pepper, tomatoes, mushrooms, whatever you have on hand. Feel free to add meats or cheese as well, ham, bacon, whatever your heart desires.
  • Grease your best muffin pan and add the egg mixture to each muffin tin. Fill to about 3/4 of the way.
  • Top with some veggies and bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until the eggs are set.
  • Let cool and store in the fridge for 2-3 days max. Enjoy at room temperature or slightly warm.

Tadaa! Breakfast is done.

omelettes

3 Best Gluten Free Breakfast Breads

Gluten free breakfast breads have been a huge hit in our house over the last few months. I like that these loafs are all super easy to whip up and incredibly delicious to eat. I usually take a slice or two into the office and eat breakfast in complete peace there (sans baby) :-). My preferred brand of flour is Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour. It has worked for me every time. I order it in bulk on Amazon now, that’s how much we use it. After trying a dozen or so recipes, here are our 3 best gluten free breakfast breads:

  • Gluten free banana bread. I substitute the sugar for just under a cup of honey. Works great. You can also add more applesauce instead of oil and make this even healthier. Chocolate chips are usually added per the hubs’ request.
  • Gluten free chocolate zucchini bread. To make this gluten-free, simply substitute the flour for gluten free flour. If you want an even healthier version of this, substitute the oil with apple sauce and the sugar with a cup of honey (just one, not two).
  • Gluten free sweet potato bread. Anil liked this a lot. I made two loafs and he never got tired of eating it for breakfast. The only thing you might want to substitute here is the butter. Add some applesauce instead. However, not a ton of butter is used in this recipe, so you decide if it’s worth it!

Needless to say, we’re really not missing our regular flour. The main benefit to me is that going gluten free makes these loafs much lighter and makes them healthier overall. You can’t lose. Let me know what your favorites are! I’m signing off and heading over to Pinterest for more gluten free ideas. Check out my gluten free goodies board over there!

glutenfreebread

 

Cinnamon Bananas

Got some soggy / overripe bananas that you need to use up? I’ve got just the thing for you! I often need a quick and healthy topping for pancakes and waffles that I make for weekend brunch. Considering all the overripe bananas that we have at the end of the work week, I decided to create a topping for these sweet brunchy type of foods.

Here’s what you do: Slice 2 to 3 overripe bananas (horizontally) into small 1/2 inch rounds. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat and add the bananas, two tablespoons of water, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar. Add more water as needed. Bring to a slow simmer and serve on top of pancakes or waffles. If you want to be naughty, top with whipped cream. Voila! Brunch is done.

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