Simple Cucumber & Watermelon Salad

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How adorable are these South Carolina wine glasses that one of my bridesmaids got us for our engagement?

Hi everyone! Sorry for being MIA for the last couple of months…I’m not sure if you heard the news yet – but I am excited to share with you all that Trevor and I are engaged!! Not only are we engaged, but Meaghan is my maid of honor! Super exciting:-)

This healthy bachelorette has been wedding planning like woah! Of course, we have been meal planning and cooking healthy meals and I am excited to getting back to sharing some of my recipes with you all.

DSC_0698Here is a recipe I made the other night that is perfect for a summer weeknight dinner out on the porch, or to bring to your 4th of July picnic. It’s a great side dish for grilled salmon or chicken, or even put it on a bed of arugula for a refreshing summer lunch. If you start snacking it on for breakfast, that’s not the end of the world either. The best part? It has 5 just ingredients!

The Healthy Bachelorette: Simple Cucumber & Watermelon Salad

Simple Cucumber & Watermelon Salad

Serves: 2 servings, 2 leftovers

Ingredients

  • 3 cups watermelon, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 large local cucumber, cut into half moons
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese

Directions:

  1. Cut the watermelon and cucumber.
  2. In a large glass bowl, add the watermelon cubes, cut cucumber, olive oil and lime juice. Toss to combine.
  3. Add in the feta cheese and toss the salad to mix ingredients evenly.
  4. Serve cold – can store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Breakfast Cranberry Carrot Muffins

Who knew muffins could include such random but delicious ingredients?  Why not put something better in there besides some super solid mystery fat and other big words we probably can’t pronounce?  Bananas, cranberries, oatmeal, and carrots make a surprisingly fantastic muffin.  So I cheated and bought the bag of shredded carrots and this suited my needs just fine.  If you are looking for more of a carrot cake consistency (hidden carrots) then you’ll need to shred them with the box grater yourself.  These taste just delightful toasted and with a little butter or jam on it. Perfect for breakfast or snack! NOM.

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Breakfast Cranberry Carrot Muffins

Makes: 12 Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup 1% milk (or milk of choice)
  • 2 cups shredded carrots (chop a little extra with a knife if using bagged carrots)
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 and spray or line a 12 tin muffin pan.
  2. n a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Sift well or mix with a fork until combined.
  3. Next add the oats, cranberries, olive oil, egg, milk, carrots, and mashed banana.  Stir well until all ingredients are blended.
  4. Divide the batter evenly in the muffin tin and bake for 15-18 minutes until cooked through.

Weeknight Power Bowl

The Healthy Bachelorette: Weeknight Power BowlFull steam ahead! I’m back in my 7th out of 10th class in grad school (yes this is taking forever…), working full time at Pure Barre and as a Coach for All Access Internships. Woah buddy.  All great things – but sometimes it just doesn’t allow for making healthy bachelorette meals. (Though did you hear the news?! Bachelorette only for a little while longer!)

Meal planning really helps during these busy weeks, and be sure to check out our healthy meal planning tools.  These are the kind of weeks when you revert back to college and instead of doing laundry – you just buy more underwear. Yeah that happened.

Check out my weeknight power bowl! The majority of this recipe is prep, especially if you use chicken that you already cooked earlier in the week. It is a yummy, healthy and fresh meal for one that you can save for the next night, or even bring for lunch the next day. It provides lots of color from the vegetables that serve as your base, and you top it all off and make it more than your typical boring salad by adding hummus, avocado and a fun lemon cilantro vinaigrette. Did you know that the Vitamin E in olive oil helps you absorb the nutrients in your vegetables? See, salad dressing isn’t always a bad thing! Enjoy and happy cooking:-)

Weeknight Power Bowl

Serves: 1 and 1 leftover

Ingredients

  • 6 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 of a hot house cucumber, washed and sliced into half moons
  • 8 campari tomatoes, washed and quartered
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced into 6 pieces
  • 6oz grilled chicken, cubed
  • 4 Tablespoons pine nut hummus
  • 4 Tablespoons cilantro
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided (I used dill infused for more flavor)
  • Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Set out a large salad bowl and a tupperware bowl.
  2. Add 3 cups of the baby spinach to each bowl, and top with 1/2 of the cucumber slices, 4 tomatoes, 1/8 cup red onion, 3 avocado slices and 3oz of the grilled chicken.
  3. Add 2 Tablespoons of the pine nut hummus to the center of the bowls.
  4. Top each bowl with cilantro, squeeze one half of the lemon onto the salad and drizzle 1 Tablespoon of olive oil.
  5. Top with fresh ground pepper, and serve!

The Healthy Bachelorette: Lunch!

 

Lunch ready for tomorrow! And check out this fancy planner that I got to design with Erin Condren for Pure Barre. It also has a meal planning dashboard – pretty awesome!

 

Savory Rosemary and Mushroom Frittata

Frigid winter nights and lazy shopping habits call for an easy dinner during the week. Eggs are among my most favorite ingredients, primarily because I can eat them for any meal of the day.  If you have the ability to purchase local eggs, I highly recommend it.  You will immediately notice the difference when cracking them open.  Local fresh eggs, and most store bought organic eggs, will have a noticeably deeper yellow-orange color to the yolk.  This is actually a very good thing, the deeper color means these chickens were fed healthy ingredients, which means their eggs are densely packed with nutrients. Enjoy this tonight and reheat for lunch tomorrow!

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Savory Rosemary and Mushroom Frittata

Serves: 2 (with leftovers)

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 package button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • cheddar cheese
  • salt & pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 and heat an oven-proof skillet on medium heat.  Add the olive oil and onions and sauté for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and sauté for another 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Once the mushrooms are toasted brown and soft, add the fresh rosemary and stir.
  3. Add the baby spinach and stir well until the leaves become slightly soft.
  4. Add the eggs to the pan and swirl to let the mixture flow through to the bottom. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Top the egg mixture with the cheese.  Lower the heat to medium-low and let the eggs cook for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Swirl the pan and place into the oven.  Bake for another 5-6 minutes until eggs are set.
  7. Top with parsley, scallion, and avocado. Serve with roasted vegetables and toast.

 

 

A Review of Blue Apron by a Registered Dietitian

A Review of Blue Apron by a Registered Dietitian

It’s New Years Resolution time again, and for a lot of people that means trying out new tools that can help make their lives healthier. Maybe you are trying a new exercise, or maybe you are trying to cook more at home. There are a ton of new grocery home delivery services that can make cooking at home easier! At home delivery services make meal for two planning easy, as all of the ingredients (like ALL of the ingredients besides salt/pepper/oil) are sent to you in a box all measured out and prepackaged. They also do a great job of teaching you how to make the recipes so even a person who is incredibly uncomfortable in the kitchen can prepare a restaurant quality dish. The instructions have photos, similar to our blog posts, of each step and what it is to look like. If you are a food safety crazy like I am you are probably wondering “but what about the meat and cheese? What if I’m not home the second they deliver to put it in the fridge?” They have these amazing ice packs (don’t throw them out!) that keep the food cold that we have reused for picnics and potlucks too.

The basics:

You can purchase a 2 person meal plan from Blue Apron for $59.99 which they estimate will give you a total of 3 dinners together per week. (You will see below that we were able to stretch this though.) They will accommodate vegetarians or aversions/allergies to red meat, fish, shellfish, pork, lamb, etc. – however they do not offer recipes to meet specific diets. Not even for weight loss! I would say this is one of the main places that Blue Apron is lacking. They do not offer recipes that would fit for weight loss, gluten free, dairy free, or a heart healthy diet. All of their recipes are very high in sodium (similar to dining out) and given that the majority of America already gets too much salt in their diet, I see this as an opportunity for Blue Apron to easily expand their offerings.

Blue Apron pretty much has their branding game on lock down –  they have all of their product bases covered. Do you love the recipes they send and need a place to store them? You can buy a recipe binder. Want more than 3 recipes per week? You can purchase one of their four cookbooks. Is your kitchen gear lacking? Head over to their market for branded knives, cutting boards, an actual blue apron or “the kitchen drawer.”

NOTE: Blue Apron’s service auto renews and until you manually cancel they will keep delivering and keep charging you. This blog post was originally planned to be about a 1 week trial of Blue Apron and because I did not cancel my subscription right after ordering my first box, I was charged $60 and my second box showed up the following week. 

I tried Blue Apron for 2 weeks and here is what I ate:

Salmon Pastrami on Rye with Red Cabbage and Green Apple Slaw A Review of Blue Apron by a Registered Dietitian

  • This was probably one of my favorite recipes as this is something I have never tried before – not even at a restaurant!
  • Quick and easy to put together, and I would make this again. I tried this following the directions, but did not add any salt when the recipe indicated and it was prefect.
  • Healthy Bachelorette Version: This was the only recipe that I tried that had vegetables on the side – yay! The calories were pretty high at 675 per serving though. We made this into 4 meals by having half a sandwich with the slaw instead and eating the rest as leftovers.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Maduros with Stewed Collard Greens & Charred Lime Review of Blue Apron from a Registered Dietitian

  • Two words: Fried Plantains. That’s what Maduros are!!
  • This was my second favorite dish! Mainly because I never make plantains. I also loved the creative way they used collard greens – living in the south I have only had them with bacon. Again, I did not add any salt when indicated and it was plenty salty.
  • Healthy Bachelorette Version: At 615 calories per meal this is on the higher end. Try dividing it up into 3 meals (2 dinners and 1 leftover) to cut it down to a reasonable 410. We would recommend trying with skinless chicken to captivate the flavors and cut back on the calories/saturated fat.

Baked Sicilian-Style Rigatoni with Lacinato Kale and Ricotta Salata Review of Blue Apron from a Registered Dietitian

  • Raisins and almonds in rigatoni? Kale yeah!
  • Very tasty. We avoided adding excess salt in the directions though because there is so much from the cheese and the tomatoes.
  • Healthy Bachelorette Version: This recipe used white pasta, and it’s the first time I have cooked with white pasta in years. While it was good, maybe not worth the blood sugar spikes it causes. This recipe rings in at 700 calories – that’s half a 1400 calorie day. No thanks! As you can see in the photo, we made this into 4 dishes instead and added some roasted broccoli on the side bringing it to around 400 calories total.

Lentil Bolognese with Fettuccine and Crispy Rosemary Review of Blue Apron from a Registered Dietitian

  •  This one was not my favorite (and the first recipe of my unexpected second box). The flavors were very heavy, but it would make a great winter meal if you like lentils.
  • Fried rosemary is a cool garnish/flavoring!
  • Healthy Bachelorette Version: This dish is also at 700 calories per person, and we would recommend dividing it up into 4 dishes and adding a side salad. Similar to above, we recommend whole wheat pasta instead. To beef up the nutrition without beefing up the calories, I opted to add in some broccoli here as well.

Crispy Cod and Spiced Couscous with Acorn Squash and Rainbow ChardReview of Blue Apron from a Registered Dietitian

  • This dish is going to give you diabetes y’all (just kidding…kind of). But it’s really really high in carbohydrates! With 1 cup of uncooked couscous (145g carbs) and 1 acorn squash (45g carbs) this recipe has 89.5 grams of carb per serving! (Remember: meals should be between 30-45g carb). I tried, but I just couldn’t do it…I saved the acorn squash and cooked the couscous and measured out 1/2 cup to have with this meal and unfortunately just threw the rest away. It was SO much.
  • I like the idea of using chickpea flower in this dish for flavor on the cod, however mine did not brown appropriately and the oil required was way more than I needed.
  • Healthy Bachelorette Version: This one is tough. I would recommend choosing either 1/2 cup couscous per meal or 1/2 an acorn squash – not both. This recipe had 585 calories per serving originally, but we just cut out a bunch when we cut out the carbs. Leave off the extra salt too!

Chicken Khao Soi Soup with Yellow curry and Crispy Wonton Noodles (ate it all and didn’t take a photo #sorrynotsorry)

  • We love noodle bowls! If you like curry, you will like this dish.
  • One MAJOR step I would add to this recipe is that you should strain the noodles in a colander. Half of my noodles may have gone down the skink due to me being lazy and not grabbing one.
  • Healthy Bachelorette Version: The golden mountain sauce is basically salt and this was a very very salty dish. Try and only add half of what they give you. The chicken thighs add calories and saturated fat, but don’t necessarily add a lot of flavor here. You could save some calories here with white meat chicken instead. Overall, at 600 calories this one isn’t the worst but if you turned it into 3 meals (2 dinners and 1 lunch) with a side of non-starchy vegetables (think side salad or raw veggies and dip) this would come in at 400 instead.

Last but not least, in my second Blue Apron box I received and unexpected visitor. Yes. Yes. That is a snail in my kale. A snail in a Blue Apron BoxUnfortunately I had to cut back on the kale because there was snail all over it!
KALE NO. I contacted Blue Apron and send them this photo and I was credited $19.98 to my account, however you cannot buy a Blue Apron meal box for this price. Looks like I will have to get that blue apron after all…

A Registered Dietitian’s Take on Blue Apron and a note to the company:

Overall, I love the idea of getting more people in the kitchen and getting them more comfortable with food and cooking their own meals. I thought the meals were very tasty, had unique flavors I do not typically use and I definitely learned something each time I made one. I don’t think these recipes are something I would make every night – and a lot of times it felt like we were dining out at a restaurant. The recipes were easy to follow and I love love the photos in the instructions.

The majority of the meals run very high in calories 600-700 calories per meal. For a typical Healthy Bachelorette, this is more than what we are looking for to meet our goals (slash it’s half of our calories for the whole day). The meals are also very high in carbohydrates and sodium, while sometimes lacking in non-starchy vegetables. I think that Americans are looking for an easy, economical way to eat healthy, and Blue Apron should seriously considering bringing on a Registered Dietitian to their team to assist in making the meals healthier. Consider accomodating those with special diets  – think low  calorie less than 500kcals per meal, gluten free, pre-diabetes and diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, dairy free and more. With nearly 50% of the US population suffering from heart disease, Blue Apron is missing out on a large market of consumers looking for healthy options – an RD can help.

Have you tried Blue Apron or other meal delivery services? What is your take? We would love to hear about it in the comments below! 

Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

The weather has been frigid and dreary which means I don’t want to do anything except wear flannel pajamas, eat cheesy foods, and watch Rom-coms. Despite this,  I am determined to not let the annual “winter coat” back on (or, better known as the reason I have 8 pairs of jeans in varying sizes).  I love to make soup, especially the good and hearty type.  This soup accomplishes that perfectly and, as a bonus, is thickened with cannelloni beans making this a low-fat, high fiber version!

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Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Serves: 2 (+4 lunches!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 carrots, peeled and minced
  • 3 cups of chopped broccoli
  • 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 1/2 cup 1% Milk, optional, and recommended:)
  • salt & pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Heat a soup pot on medium and add the olive oil and onions. Sauté for 2 minutes until they turn clear.
  2. Add the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes. (If it starts to become dry, add a tablespoon or 2 of water.)
  3. Add the stock and water to the pot.  Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.  (This is important as all of the flavors from the onion and garlic season the stock).
  4. Add the cannelloni beans and blend everything together using an immersion blender. This will create a nice puree of your aromatics and beans.
  5. Add the carrots and broccoli to the pot with the puree and allow the soup to simmer for another 5-8 minutes, until the carrots and broccoli are soft.
  6. Blend the soup again until it is almost entirely pureed.  Leaving some whole pieces of broccoli works well.
  7. Add the cheddar cheese (and milk, if desired), stir until melted,  and season to taste! Serve with extra cheddar.

 

*You can also use a regular blender, obviously!   When blending in step 5, leave about 2 cups of the soup in the pot and puree the rest.

*If freezing, do not add milk to the soup.  You can add milk when re-heating at a later point.

BLT Spaghetti Squash Boats

This fall I joined the Hub City  Farmers Market CSA – Fall Farm bag, and am really loving it! I have heard about CSA’s before, and have had friends who have joined them, but 4 servings of produce every week was just too much food and it would have gone to waste. This farm bag is perfect as it supports local farmers with produce that has been picked within the last 24-48 hours and is only $15 per week for 8 weeks. Every Saturday, I select which items I would like in my farm bag, and the bag is actually delivered to my office on Tuesday! It is a very exciting part of my day. This season is almost over, but if you live or work in the the Spartanburg area, I would highly recommend the Hub City Farmer’s Market CSA program for Spring.

Since it is a fall farm bag, we have been getting a lot of fall squashes such as butternut, acorn and of course spaghetti squash! This has caused me to get quite creative with my fresh recipes (exactly the result I wanted out of this program). This week I got a little creative with my spaghetti squash.

If you have never had spaghetti squash, I highly recommend you try it. It is a gluten free option to spaghetti, is a whole food (no added chemicals, preservatives, fat or salt) and actually has way less calories than real spaghetti. One cup of spaghetti has 221 calories, compared to spaghetti squash which has about 40 calories per cup –  that is over 5x the calories! And I promise you, the texture and the flavor is way better than bland out of the box spaghetti. Try using spaghetti squash in any dish you would typically use spaghetti noodles (with pesto, marinara sauce etc).

Recently, I have really been obsessed with these “spaghetti squash boat” recipes you see on Pinterest . It’s super easy, just roast the squash, add in your toppings, roast a little more and serve. Check out my BLT Spaghetti Squash Bowl below and don’t be expecting leftovers .. you will want to eat it all!

BLT Spaghetti Squash Boats

BLT Spaghetti Squash Boats

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 Medium Spaghetti Squash
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 pieces nitrate free bacon (I used Applegate)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 6oz bag baby spinach
  • 2oz goat cheese, divided
  • Black Pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut the both ends off of the spaghetti squash, then cut it in half. Scoop the seeds out with a spoon.
  3. Drizzle 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and grate fresh black pepper over each half of the spaghetti squash.
  4. Place the spaghetti squash face side down on a cookie sheet. Bake on 425 for 35-40 minutes.
  5. While the spaghetti squash is cooking, cook the bacon in a large frying pan on medium-low heat trying not to char it.
  6. Once the bacon is cooked, place on a plate with a paper towel and pat off the extra grease.
  7. Add the spinach and halved tomatoes to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes until spinach is wilted.
  8. Once the spaghetti squash is roasted, remove from oven and turn over face side up. Fill the middle of the spaghetti squash with the spinach and tomatoes and top with crumbled bacon and 1oz of crumbled goat cheese.
  9. Roast for another 5 minutes on 425, and serve!