Tag Archives: Spinach

New parent vegetable lasagna and my favorite app

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I love cooking meals for friends that have just had a baby because it means 1) I get to cuddle a newborn, and 2) hopefully bring a little sanity to some under-slept pals. However, you can’t just bring anything – there are a few qualifications that these meals must pass:

  • Little to no work for the new parents to prepare
  • Chock full of veggies to keep new parents going strong
  • Makes enough servings to have a few days of leftovers
  • Delicious
  • Pairs well with the glass of wine that mom desperately deserves

This lasagna fits the bill – I’ve made it several times now.  After a couple requests for the recipe, I decided to post it.

New Parent Veggie Lasagna, adapted from KathEats

-1 package lasagna noodles
-25 oz jar of pasta sauce (I like any kind from Trader Joe’s)
-1 small jar of pesto
-1 bag baby spinach
-2 to 3 zucchini
-4 roma tomatoes
-2 to 3 medium carrots
-5 oz. shredded parmesan cheese
-8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
-16 oz. low fat cottage cheese

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Let’s do this:

Slice your zucchini, tomatoes, and carrots thinly. I like to use my mandolin for this task.
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Prepare all your ingredients and get ready to layer!
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I go in the following order: noodles, sauce, pesto, veggies, cheeses, spinach. Then start over with a new layer of noodles, so you have 3 layers by the end. Top the last layer of spinach with a little extra cheese.

lasagna

Done!

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Cover with tin foil. I tucked in some italian bread, red wine, and two pieces of this cake that I happened to have made the day before for a birthday.
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Plus a note with baking instructions (400 degrees covered for an hour).
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As a final note, NONE of my recipes would be possible without the new app I have been using – ziplist! I was looking for a way to quickly add ingredients from recipes I found on the internet (mostly pinned on pinterest) to a running grocery list. Here’s how ziplist works for me:
(Note: This post is in no way sponsored by Ziplist – I can assure you they have no idea who I am. I just like it!)

1. Go to ziplist and create an account.

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2. Drag the ziplist toolbar icon onto your bookmark bar.

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3. Find any recipe you like on the internet and click your new bookmark bar.

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4. The ingredients get added to your “recipe box”.

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5. Click “add to list” and choose the ingredients you want added to your grocery list.

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6. Download the app from your app store. Take your app to the store and shop!

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Do you guys use an app for grocery lists? I’d love to know!!

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Broccoli and Winter Greens Soup

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Here’s a few things that stress me out, because I’m sure you care.

1. Real Simple magazine.

Nothing about remembering to vacuum my refrigerator coils is really simple.  Unfortunately for everyone who will ever come to my house, I will never be one of those people who has a calendar entry for cleaning my baseboards or goes through a daily cleaning checklist (for real?!). Sometimes, I want to know what it feels like to be one of those people, but then I think: No, I just want to know what it feels like to kick those people in the shins.

2. The Wire.

How is a girl supposed to sleep after watching this show?! The Huz spends the whole hour assuring me its not real while I shout advice at the characters.

3. Getting enough greens.

If you haven’t seen Forks Over Knives, stop what you are doing right now and go watch it, then come back. I like to try to get in greens whenever I can, and hence this recipe was born. If you are a wimp about greens, then add another potato to this recipe and use spinach for the greens. If you like strong greens, use kale or chard. I used a mixture.

Broccoli and Winter Greens Soup, serves about 4, adapted from Power Foods

-1 quart vegetable broth
-2 cups water
-2 russet potatoes
-4 garlic cloves
-3 scallions
-1 head broccoli
-3 big handfuls of greens (I used a blend of spinach and swiss chard that I found, but spinach will be the most mild. If you love your greens, go for the bag of southern mixed greens they sell at Trader Joe’s)
-salt & pepper
-shredded Parmesan cheese for garnish

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Pour the vegetable broth and water in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. While the broth is warming, do some prep work: Dice the potatoes, slice your scallions, and roughly chop the broccoli.

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Add the diced potato, garlic, scallions and broccoli to the pot and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until potato and broccoli are soft.
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Add the greens and cook for about 5 more minutes.
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Puree, either in batches in a blender or using Stick Blendy Wendy.
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For me soup is really just a vehicle to eat bread, so pair this with a piece of toasted whole wheat bread for dipping.
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World’s most filling breakfast for under 400 calories

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I love breakfast. I want to take Breakfast to the skating rink and buy it a promise ring from the gift shop. Then I want to take my parents’ car and drive slowly by Breakfast’s house over and over.

Most days I eat two breakfasts. That’s because I generally wake up feeling like I’m going to starve to death. This morning I decided to try something new: savory oats. I know, I know, the whole thing just seems wrong. But if it keeps me full for 4+ hours, it’s oh-so-right.

The 4 Hour, 400 calorie breakfast: Savory oats for one, inspired by Womens Health Magazine
-1/2 c rolled oats
-1 cup loosely packed spinach
-1 egg
-1/8 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-1/4 of an avocado
cooking spray
salt & pepper

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Let’s do this:

Add the oats and one cup of water to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until water is absorbed and oats reach desired consistency. Reduce heat, add in spinach and stir for a few seconds until spinach wilts. Remove from heat.

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Get a small frying pan hot and coat with cooking spray, then crack your egg into the pan. I flipped my egg because I’m not one for runny yolks, but I think I’m alone in this. So cook the egg to your desired done-ness.

Add the oats to a bowl or plate, top with shredded cheese, sliced avocado, and the egg. Top with salt and pepper, and hot sauce if you like!

Now I’m going to go write a note to Breakfast that I can pass it during homeroom, asking it to check a box if it likes me. Or maybe I should just text Breakfast?

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Here’s the stats on this breakfast (note I cooked my oats in water, but if you cook yours in milk the calories will be a bit higher):

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Lessons from Lent and an EWM: Spinach & Artichoke Sammies

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I recently awoke from the sugar coma I fell into on Easter Sunday. It was a wild ride that I’ll never forget.

I must say, I learned a thing or two from 40 days added-sugar-free:

    • The sugar crash is for real. During Lent I never found myself falling asleep on the way home from work, like I tend to do when I’m allowed to go bonkers on whatever cookies/candy are left behind in the company cafeteria.
    • Labels. I have always considered myself a label reader. I scan labels for the nutritional information and the ingredients. Usually I look for the number of calories and the protein/carbohydrate content. Then I scan the ingredient list looking for weird things like words that have no vowels, or fake sugar. However, during Lent I was focused on added sugars. I became very fluent in the different types of sugar – honey, corn syrup, brown rice syrup, agave, etc.  I was amazed at how many things have a form of sugar listed as the first ingredient! Exhibit A: This innocuous-looking bar.

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Looks good, right? Organic ingredients, typical number of calories for an energy bar. Its even made locally! Seems like a great little snack. But back up – the ingredient list is another story. Sugar is the first ingredient!

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How can that be? There is more brown rice syrup than there are cashews in a cashew bar? Before Lent, I don’t know that I would have noticed this – I would have scanned the ingredients, seen that there was no xyfncfpprwxz acid*, and thrown it in the cart.

*A made-up word, but you know what I mean.

So put those little lessons in your pipe, as the saying goes. On another topic, last night I made an EWM: Spinach and Artichoke sandwiches. I got this idea from an issue of Whole Living magazine. They had a whole article on sandwich combinations. This one is reeeeal easy.

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Spinach and Artichoke Sammies, inspired by Whole Living
(makes about 4 open-faced sandwiches)

Go get:

1 can white beans (I used cannellini beans)
2 handfuls spinach
1 jar marinated artichokes (I didn’t use the whole jar)
1 T olive oil
4 slices whole wheat bread
salt & pepper

Let’s do this:

I hate the idea of cold beans, so I rinsed and drained the cannellini beans, then added them to a skillet with the olive oil and warmed them up for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and mash with a fork.
Put your bread in the toaster. Throw the spinach into the skillet that you just used for the beans – you just want to wilt the spinach a little. In the meantime, chop up the artichokes into small pieces.

When the bread is toasted, spread on a layer of beans, artichokes, and top with the sauteed spinach. Top with salt and pepper to taste.

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Polish off dinner with something that has sugar as the first ingredient. I kid!

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Takin’ a leek, or: pasta with leeks, lentils, and spinach

Would you believe I’ve never bought a leek before? I was excited to tackle this recipe from my fave cookbook just so I could buy leeks like the cool kids.
And so I could make a dad joke about “takin’ a leek”.

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Pasta with leeks, lentils and spinach (adapted from Power Foods)

You’ll need:
1 cup green lentils
2 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
about 2 cups brown rice pasta (any kind of pasta will work)
2 T olive oil
2 leeks
1 t chopped fresh thyme
2 handfuls baby spinach
salt & pepper
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Let’s do this:
In a saucepan, combine the lentils, 1 garlic clove, and the bay leaf. Add enough water to cover by about an inch. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer until lentils are tender (this took about 25 minutes). Drain lentils and toss the garlic clove and bay leaf.

While the lentils are cooking:

  • Cook pasta according to package instructions
  • Mince remaining garlic cloves, slice the white and pale green part of the leeks into about 1/4 inch rounds
  • In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium. Add leeks, garlic, and thyme, stirring occasionally until leeks are soft

When the lentils are done, add them to the leeks and season with salt and pepper. Add the pasta and spinach to the pan, and remove from heat. Stir until spinach wilts.
This makes 2-3 servings. Enough for dinner for two, and a fight over who will bring the leftovers the next day!

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Reader Request: what’s in your fridge?

A loyal reader recently asked me to do a post about the essentials I keep in my fridge. A few months ago, I might have considered taking a picture of the inside of my fridge for this post. But ever since Kath showed us in the inside of her fridge, I’ve been very self conscious about my fridge. Attempts to minimize the contents were met with tears, so I’ve finally accepted that my fridge will always be jam-packed with leftovers and produce.

I’ll do one post on my perishables and another on dry goods. Here’s what I have to have every week, or I’ll prolly starve:

My Perishables (lowest cost option is in green):

Unsweetened vanilla almond milk: I’m a big fan of almond milk because I don’t like cow’s milk (lots of reasons – this could be a whole post in itself – but suffice it to say that I first started straying from milk when I noticed that I would feel really badly on my Saturday morning runs after I had dairy on Friday – I was lethargic and sometimes would get sick). Needless to say, there is a lot of controversy around soy, so don’t prefer soy milk. I already have tofu in my diet, and adding soy milk to that would put me over the edge in the soy department.

You can get the 365 brand almond milk at Whole Foods, which is my fave. Almond Breeze is also good and they have it at most regular grocery stores. I use this for my morning smoothie every day, and its sooo delish with cereal or granola. If you have never tried it, you can get a 32 oz carton at Trader Joe’s or Jewel (local grocery store), which is low-commitment. Here’s the price breakdown:

  • Trader Joe’s: $.05 to .06 per oz, depending on brand. They have both Almond Breeze and Pacific brands. I believe Pacific is organic and usually its a little cheaper.
  • Whole foods: $.05 per oz for the 365 brand. Note that this is based on the refrigerated half gallons ($3.39 regular price). They also have shelf-stable options, but I don’t usually stop in that aisle so I haven’t price compared in a while. Based on taste, the 365 brand is my fave.
  • Costco: $.04 per oz. Costco sells the Silk brand, which is sweetened (slightly higher calorie and has evaporated cane juice), but you really can’t beat the price. This comes out to $2.66 for a half gallon, which is almost $.75 cheaper than Whole Foods.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the nutritional stats. Note that the Silk brand is sweetened, so it has added sugar and calories. The 365 brand also has the shortest ingredient list (always a plus in my book) and doesn’t have the elusive “natural flavors” as part of the ingredient list. If you are wondering why I have all three of these in the house right now available for photos, see my initial comment about messy fridge. I also hoard things when they go on sale.

Bananas: I always have these on hand for smoothies and snacks!

  • Trader Joe’s: anywhere from $.29 to $.49 per pound
  • Whole foods: closer to $.99 per pound, but I usually don’t pay attention because I’m not crazy enough to think they will be cheaper here
  • Costco: $.27 to $.44 per pound

Spinach: I try to have this on hand to toss into my morning smoothie and up the nutritional content – it becomes a Green Monster! Its also great to have on hand for a quick mid-week dinner salad. The best deal I have found for spinach is the huge tubs at Costco, but there is a produce market by us (Stanley’s for you locals) that is much cheaper, but non-organic. Spinach is something I prefer to buy organic since it’s one of the dirty dozen.

  • Trader Joe’s: $.33 per oz (organic)
  • Whole Foods: $.37 per oz (organic)
  • Costco: $.24 per oz (organic)
  • Stanley’s: $.15 per oz (non-organic)

Lemons: I can’t drink my water plain, so I always keep lemons on hand to keep my water interesting!

  • Costco: $1.29 per pound
  • Stanley’s: $.98 per pound

Kale: I really love kale for juicing and for making kale chips! If you’ve never made kale chips before, I highly recommend them lieu of potato chips next time you are making burgers.

  • Whole Foods: usually $2.49 per bunch (organic)
  • Stanley’s: $1.49 to 1.98 per bunch (organic)

Morningstar Black Bean Burgers: I usually buy the big Morningstar bean burgers at Costco because I love these so many ways: scrambled with an egg, crumbled on a salad, or wrapped in a tortilla with some avocado. They are $13.69 for a 12 pack of big burgers (note these are 4 oz burgers, which are bigger than the 2.75 oz burgers sold in regular grocery stores).

Eggs: Some days, I just really crave a scrambled egg on toast with a little cheese, so I try to keep eggs in the fridge most of the time. I splurge a bit and get free range organic because I’m paranoid and I don’t buy them that often so its worth the spurge (here’s a simple guide to eggs). I don’t usually price compare these because I just pick them up at Whole Foods when I run out, and they are less than $3 for a dozen (at $.25 each, that’s a pretty cheap and quick dinner!).

Tofu: I usually have this in my fridge to make my version of a chocolate milkshake!! Its a nice protein boost for smoothies and I use it for desserts or stir fry occasionally. I typically buy firm because its the most versatile. My favorite tofu is sold at the farmer’s market by Tiny Greens, but when I can’t make it to the farmer’s market…

  • Trader Joe’s: $.11 per oz for organic firm tofu and $.09 per oz for non-organic firm.
  • Whole Foods: $.12 per oz for organic 365 brand.

Avocado: I like to have one or two avocados on hand to add to fish tacos (post forthcoming) and salads. They never go bad in our house. The price for these are so volatile depending on the time of year, so I usually pick these up at Stanley’s. Avocados are on the clean dozen list, so I don’t fret too much about buying organic.

I think that about covers it for perishables. I always have random fruits and vegetables around as well. This week I stocked up on oranges, grapefruits, and brussels sprouts, so those are currently spilling out of the fridge and fruit bowl. I’ll be back with my must-have dry goods!

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