Meal Prep

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Another week and another successful meal prep. I can’t say enough good things about meal prep. It has helped me save money, monitor portion control, eat healthier and save time. If I can just cut down on all the extra-curricular stuff like drinking beer, eating cookies, candy, cake and ice-cream, then I might actually meet my health and fitness goals. I will get there, and I’m a firm believer in finding the right balance to enjoy those things. We’ll save that for another post.

This week has been an ambitious one and I couldn’t have done it all without my partner in meal-prep “crime” Sarah. She came with some really quick and delicious meals that will really help changing things up throughout the week. It’s also great to have someone to share the food with so you don’t get as tired of eating the same things all week. If you don’t have someone to share with, just make sure to wrap up what you don’t think you will finish and freeze for another time. Just make sure everything is air-tight to keep it freshest. Also, you do not need to make all these recipes in one week. These recipes are here to inspire and use at your leisure.

Sarah came in strong with 2 dishes this week.  First was a Balsamic Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Salad. Second was an Apple Gouda Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Smoky Roasted Sweet Potatoes. I contributed with Slow Cooker Carnitas Salad Bowl meals. I can say everything turned out great as I have tried each dish as writing this now. I can’t stress enough during cooking in general, not just meal prep, is to taste everything along the way. Taste all ingredients together because you never know if you just don’t like the way some ingredients pair together until it’s too late.

It’s also a good idea to keep hot foods together that will reheat well together. You obviously don’t want something hot you need to reheat with delicate vegetables you prefer to eat cold. I know this seems like common sense but definitely want to keep this in mind when assembling your meal prep. You don’t want to end up not eating your meal prep and just end up buying lunch because you’re not happy with it. That defeats the purpose. Anyway, that’s enough preaching for now, here are the recipes below if you want to give it a try.

Pro-tip: cook some of your meal prep the day before this way everything hot has time to cool properly before portioning out for the week. This will make it easier and you will have less risk of spoiled food.

Balsamic Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

4 Servings

  • ½ cup dry quinoa
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 medium carrots, ruff cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini chopped
  • 8 oz. button mushrooms halved
  • 1 small red onion medium chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup sprouted sunflower seeds or toasted almonds
  • 3 oz. goat cheese crumbled
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 5oz box baby arugula

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
  2. Rinse quinoa then combine with water in small sauce pan. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and continue to cook covered for 15 minutes. Fluff cooked quinoa with a fork when ready. Set aside to cool in fridge.
  3. While cooking you can place chopped vegetables and garlic in a mixing bowl and toss with olive oil, vinegar, rosemary, salt and pepper.
  4. Place vegetables on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 20-22 minutes or until carrots are tender and everything looks caramelized. It will help to toss the veggies half-way through cooking. Set aside to cool when finished.
  5. Divide the arugula into 4 different meal prep containers.
  6. Mix together the quinoa and roasted veggies in a mixing bowl, taste for seasoning and divide into the containers. Finish each with goat cheese and sprouted sunflower seeds.

*Optional* make additional balsamic vinaigrette if desired. I sometimes add garlic, Dijon mustard and honey for flavor and to emulsify, but basic ingredients listed below.

  • 1-part balsamic vinegar
  • 3 parts olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Apple Gouda Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Smoky Roasted Sweet Potatoes

4 Servings

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied thinly to stuff.

3 oz gouda cheese thinly sliced

1 large apple thinly sliced (Honeycrisp was used in this recipe)

1 Tbsp fresh thyme

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

For the sweet potatoes

4 medium sweet potatoes washed and medium diced

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 teaspoons thyme

1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Spray cooking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place butterflied chicken breast on the pan and place 7-8 thinly sliced apples on one side of the breast then top with the thinly sliced gouda. Sprinkle with thyme and fold over breasts. Drizzle with olive oil and season both sides with salt and pepper. Careful when flipping so that everything stays together.
  3. In a bowl, mix together diced sweet potatoes with salt, pepper, paprika and drizzle with olive oil. Place sweet potatoes in a single layer on a cooking sheet.
  4. Put chicken and sweet potatoes in the over to bake for 20 minutes. Flip the potatoes to cook evenly as needed.
  5. Continue to cook chicken until internal temperature reaches 165° and potatoes are fork tender.
  6. Divide potatoes and chicken in 4 separate containers and let cool before covering.

Slow Cooker Carnitas Salad Bowl

8-10 Servings

4-7 lb. Pork Shoulder

1 tsp chili powder

2 chipotle peppers with adobo sauce

1 Tbsp dried oregano

4 garlic cloves peeled, smashed, whole

2 navel oranges juiced

2 limes juiced

2 small bay leaf

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Rinse and dry pork shoulder, season all sides with chili powder, salt and pepper. Let the pork sit room temperature for at least 10 minutes while gathering the rest of your ingredients.
  2. Place the pork in the slow cooker and add chipotles, orange juice, lime juice, garlic, oregano and bay leaf. Cover with lid and cook on high for 8-10 hrs. Depending on crock pot and size of pork shoulder times may vary.
  3. When finished pork shoulder should pull apart easily with tongs or fork. Remove pork from crock pot and place in a baking dish with the fattier parts facing up.
  4. Place oven on broil and put in oven with door ajar for about 10 minutes to crisp up the pork. When satisfied with the crispiness, room from oven and let cool.

For the salad bowl I used 1 16oz box of mixed greens, 1 can of black beans rinsed, corn, Mexican blend shredded cheese, limes, avocado, and green onions. I made a chipotle yogurt ranch style dressing on the side.

*After Pork has cooled, divide portions into 3-4 oz containers or baggies and re-heat in microwave before eating the salad.

This will make sure all the veggies remain fresh. Freeze remaining pork or use for another dish. The world is yours…

Chipotle Yogurt Dressing

1 chipotle pepper

½ of 1 lime juiced

1 Tbsp of white wine vinegar

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 cup plain yogurt

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Place all ingredients in small blender and mix together. Add water if consistency is too thick.
  2. Taste to adjust seasoning as desired.

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