Posts tagged ‘Healthy’

August 25, 2014

Cilantro Lime Quinoa

If you are like me, you are always looking for a healthy option you can make ahead for lunch. Quinoa always seems like a good healthy choice, but I haven’t really found a way I liked it…until now! This is light and fresh with lots of healthy additions. Bonus, it holds up really well all week! I like to make this on Sunday and it is just as good on Friday as it is on Monday. I love that I can eat it cold at my desk which makes life so easy. Let me know what you think!


Cilantro Lime Quinoa


2 cups uncooked quinoa

2 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

Juice and zest of 4-5 limes

2 Tablespoons honey

1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Kosher or sea salt


1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

6 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)

2 red or yellow bell peppers, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 grilled chicken breasts, chopped

Rinse quinoa 3 times to remove the bitter outside layer. Cook the quinoa with chicken stock and water (I add a little extra liquid because we are at high altitude). Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce to simmer for 30 seconds, bring back to a boil for another 30 seconds then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes until cooked through and tender. Allow to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk the lime juice with the zest, honey, a pinch or two of salt & pepper, and olive oil, until the dressing comes together. Add the cilantro and mix.

Add the chopped scallions, peppers, carrots, black beans, chicken, and quinoa and gently toss in the dressing.

Garnish with additional cilantro and lime zest, if desired. Eat immediately or pack up for lunches for the week. Great hot or cold!

February 10, 2014

Work Lunches

Continuing our healthy eating theme of late, I thought I would share my Sunday routine for making 5 days of lunches in one afternoon. Being well prepared makes life SO much easier for the rest of the week. With BF needing the equivalent of two full lunches every day, it is much easier to have them all done before we get wrapped up in the week. In order to easily accomplish this, I start by making the carbs…usually brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes. All of those things can cook while I work on the other things. Next comes chicken breasts (seasoned and baked for 45min at 375°), flank steak (marinated and grilled or stir fried), and chicken muffins. Finally the veggies…I usually just steam tons of broccoli and green beans. I try to mix things up, but these are the staples for sure! I also love that if I have leftovers, I can use it for easy dinners or freeze things for later. Next, I pull out the trusty food scale and lots of Tupperware. An assembly line makes things super easy and I can do exactly what is right for each of us.

Usually I start with the carbs so it cools while I do others and then add protein and veggies.

By the time I am done all we have to do is grab and go in the morning!

Between this and the egg muffins, you can have most of your day covered. A couple hours of work really pays off later in the week. Do you have ideas you use to make your healthy habits stick? We always need new ideas!


PS- You can see my little lunches in the back row. Measuring also helps me to stay on track with what I need to be eating while looking at all that food!

January 29, 2014

Cooking Staples

We started talking earlier this week about healthy eating and how to make it easier. When you live with someone who eats roughly 4,000 calories a day…all clean…you have to do some prep work to make things practical. On the weekend, we sit down together and make a menu for the week for dinner, but that doesn’t always help with breakfast and lunch. I am getting better at planning leftovers in for lunches, but it is much easier to just pack everything at the beginning of the week and be able to grab and go. I start by cooking about egg muffins, 2 cups of brown rice, 6 organic chicken breasts, 4 sweet potatoes and steaming a bunch of veggies. With these staples always in the fridge, you can make a lot of things happen. Sometimes chicken becomes Chicken Tinga, or enchiladas. Often it gets chopped and sent in lunches. By having a bit of an assembly line with the food scale, I can get through things pretty quickly with already cooked foods. Bonus, whatever we don’t get to, I just freeze and use that in meals down the road. Shredded chicken is awesome to have in the freezer…a great time saver! I try to mix in something I haven’t tried before once a week. It doesn’t always happen (read: the lentils I meant to make still in my pantry) but I try for variety. We usually mix in one fish meal and one lean red meat meal each week. I swear all of this is much easier than it sounds! It really does make the rest of the week go much smoother. Here is an example of a dinner I made from our staples in the fridge. You can see our fully stocked fridge is how we make it without take out for every meal! Chicken and Brussels sprouts with brown rice. MMMM. This was great too because it saved well and became the perfect lunch later in the week. Gotta love multitasking!

Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

2 Chicken breasts cooked and cubed

12-15 Brussels Sprouts, shredded

3 T Dried Cranberries

2 T Sliced Almonds

2 T Honey

2 T Butter

Crushed red peppers

Salt and pepper

Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium heat add Brussels sprouts and sauté about 2 minutes. Add chicken, cranberries, and almonds. Season with salt, pepper, crushed red peppers and drizzle with honey. Cook another 2-3 minutes.

Serve over brown rice.

July 10, 2013

Pineapple Un-fried Rice

There is a Thai place in our old neighborhood that makes unbelievable pineapple fried rice according to Mary. Ever since she mentioned it last week, I couldn’t get it out of my head. Conveniently, we had extra pineapple leftover from our Pineapple Salsa. On a night with little else in the house, we had just enough ingredients to make this “un-fried” version. There is so much flavor that you will never miss the extra oil, nuts or the egg. You can put any veggies you like and we often use dishes like this to clear things out. In this case, our emergency frozen veggies made an appearance and we were thankful for it! We also added cucumber at the last minute for a bit of texture which was a great way to remove the nuts you often find in this recipe. For a great ode to Thai food, try this one!


Pineapple Un-fried Rice

2 packages prepared saffron rice (one traditional and one Spanish flavor)

1 tomato, chopped

2 T olive oil

1 cup of fresh pineapple chopped (about ¼ inch pieces)

2 cups shredded chicken

1 ½ cups Whole Foods organic vegetable medley

1-2 cloves of garlic finely chopped

4 scallions, chopped

4 T basil, chopped

½ cucumber chopped

½ lime cut in wedges for garnish

For the sauce:

2 T light soy sauce

1 T Hoisin sauce

1 T coconut milk

1 t natural peanut butter

Juice of ½ lime

1 T Siracha


Combine the two types of rice and prepare as directed adding the chopped tomato to the cooking liquid. (We usually leave out the oil.) Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce and combine well. Heat the olive oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the garlic. When lightly cooked and aromatic, add the chicken to warm for 1-2 minutes then add the vegetables and cook another 1-2 minutes. Add the rice followed by the pineapple and combine all ingredients. Top with the sauce and add the cucumber and stir well. Garnish with the scallions, basil and lime wedges. Enjoy!

July 5, 2013

Pineapple Salsa and Baked Tortilla Chips

What is more perfect for a Fourth of July celebration than a BBQ? It is the perfect way to celebrate America’s birthday!! We were invited to a friend’s house for the celebration and were asked to bring a side dish, so I thought who doesn’t like chips and salsa? This pineapple salsa was a huge hit (and may become margarita inspiration in the future!) If you wanted to get really fancy, you could scoop out half of the pineapple to use as a serving dish. I also baked up some tortilla chips for the leftovers, and they turned out great! Do you have a favorite party side dish that is your go-to? Happy (belated) 4th!


Pineapple Salsa and Baked Tortilla Chips

For the Salsa:

½ Pineapple, Cored and Chopped

1 Tomato, Chopped

2 Avocados, Cubed

2 Scallions, Chopped

½ – 1 Jalapeño, Finely Chopped with Seeds

Juice of 1 Lime

Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Chips:

Corn Tortillas (however many you need for your crowd)

Cooking Spray

Kosher Salt

Your favorite spice mixture

Preheat oven to 375°. Stack the tortillas and cut into quarters. Lay out in a single layer in baking sheets and spray with cooking spray. Season with salt and your seasoning mix. Turn the chips and repeat on other side. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes, turning once. Allow to cool a few minutes before serving to finish the crisping process.

In a bowl combine the salsa ingredients and gently stir to combine. Allow to rest about 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

December 31, 2012

Welcome 2013!

As we ring in another New Year tonight, I want to thank you all for reading! We have had two great years here on Zest and are looking forward to 2013!!

Anytime a new year comes along, we all have the tendency to reflect and to resolve. I am pretty firmly set in my workout routine, though I will be throwing in some new twists this year. My biggest focuses this year will be on work and nutrition. I thought I would share a few ideas for getting on track in the New Year:

  1. Plan Ahead. Take a look at your week and plan a menu. I like to look at dinner choices and how I can use them for leftovers for lunch.
  2. Be Prepared. Along the same lines, the more prepared you are, the better choices you will make. If you pack enough snacks and a good healthy lunch for work, it is much easier to stay on track.
  3. Keep Ingredients Separate. This may sound strange, but one of the biggest things I have learned from Mary is that you can always make something different, as long as the ingredients are separate. What I mean by that is if you make chicken and keep some out of the sauce, you can make something different. Same goes for pasta, veggies… If you make tacos and keep all the veggies separate, you can make a pasta dish later in the week.
  4. Make It Easy. Find things that you like to grab and go. As kids, we always had cut up celery and carrots in a tub of water in the fridge. That makes it easier if you don’t have to clean them on the way out the door. Also, pre-portion snack foods so you know exactly how much you are eating. Almonds are a great snack, as long as you eat the right amount.
  5. Baby Steps. This is the single thing that helped me the most. If you are just getting started, don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do it all at once. Crash diets are not sustainable. If you make small changes at regular intervals, you are much more likely to succeed. When I started, I added something new every couple of weeks. It started with a walk 3 times a week. Then cutting back on alcohol intake. Then adding more vegetables. You know your problem areas; just tackle them one at a time. Trust me; down the road some of those vices won’t even tempt you.
  6. If you are going to work out like an athlete, you have to fuel like an athlete. This is something that came into focus for me this year. I workout very hard; 6 days a week of weights, plus a few other things a week. Days that I don’t focus on my nutrition become very bad days for me. I get cranky and sluggish, plus I don’t sleep as well. When I remember to fuel before, during and after a workout, my days are great and I recover much easier. Since my workouts are important to me, so is my nutrition. Now you all know I love to cook, so you just have to be creative! Check out the recipe below that Mary found for something you can keep on hand for an easy lunch. This is a great balanced food that will keep you going!
  7. Don’t Beat Yourself Up. If you slip up, treat it as just that and do better at the next meal or tomorrow. Don’t give up, mistakes mean you have goals and that is something to shoot for!
  8. Write It Down. You always hear people say it, but it keeps you honest. Writing down your food will help you be more aware of what you are consuming. For me, it made me think before I put anything in my mouth because I knew I had to write it down. When you journal workouts, it helps you to make progress. You may run a little farther or faster. You may do two more reps, but either way you are taking another step forward. Writing down your goals gives you something to shoot for. Be realistic: make your goals achievable, challenging and measurable.
  9. Measure. Measure your food. Measure yourself. Both things will keep you aware and on track. Measuring your food gives you a visual of what you should be eating. Measuring yourself may show you progress you may not see on the scale. It is incredibly motivating to have something to measure against 3 months from now if you hit a plateau. You will be reminded of how far you have come!
  10. Just Do It! Don’t wait for tomorrow. Don’t wait for Monday. Or the first day of something…do it today! You don’t have to do it all today, just make one good choice. It might make all the difference!

GOOD LUCK! Happy New Year!!



Chicken Muffins

Adapted from Jamie Eason

2 lbs ground chicken (1.5 lbs breast, .5 lbs thigh)

3 egg whites

1 cup quick cooking oats

2 tbs jerk seasoning (or your favorite blend, be generous!)

2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp garlic 2 cloves minced

1 small onion (finely chopped)

2 celery stalks (finely chopped)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray muffin pan with canola or olive oil.

Place the onion and garlic and oats and spices in a food processor to chop and combine. Then eggs and meat and pulse to combine.

Use an ice cream scoop to make the mixture into balls and place in muffin pan. Muffins should be about the size of a racquetball. You can top with a bit of sauce to keep moist if you like (We like pepper jelly or sweet and spicy Asian sauce.)

Bake for 40 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

August 10, 2012

Cooking for a Boy

When you bring a new man into your life and say “I like to cook,” you better deliver. It always seems like a lot of pressure, even if you know you can make something great. I, of course, decided to take my chances and see what looked good at the store and wing it, rather than actually planning something ahead. Since my wonderful boyfriend had been traveling, I was going for healthy and not for a “man meal.” I decided that salmon was a good choice but I had to challenge myself with a method I hadn’t tried and a sauce I created with what was on hand plus two of my very favorite standbys: bruschetta (with help from Ali) and zucchini salad. I have to apologize for not having final photos, but I ended up a bit distracted trying to host and not burn my zucca! Such are the trade offs, right? All I can say is this is a meal you could serve for any occasion you are looking for something healthy and fantastic. Keep an eye out for the bruschetta recipe soon! Enjoy!



Herb and Mustard Salmon

With Broiled Zucchini Salad

1 Lb Salmon – Boned

Handful of Fresh Herbs – Cleaned, Stemmed and Chopped

2 T Dijon Mustard

2 T Dry White Wine

2 T Olive Oil

1 Clove Garlic

Salt & Pepper


2 Zucchini – Sliced lengthwise

1 Tomato – Chopped

Mixed Greens

Juice of Half a Lemon

Olive Oil

Goat Cheese

Salt & Pepper


Combine herbs, mustard, wine, oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender and pulse to create a paste. Lightly oil a baking dish and place the salmon in the dish, skin-side down. Cover with the paste. Bake at 350° for 20-25 min. Check for desired doneness and allow to rest about 5 min. While you make the salad:


Lay the zucchini on baking dishes and spray lightly with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Place under the broiler for about 5-7 min. Watch them carefully and turn once, halfway through. Allow to cook until very brown. Set aside while you toss the greens and tomatoes with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add desired amount of crumbled goat cheese. Place salad on the plate and top with several slices of the zucchini and your lovely salmon.

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