Foodie Friday — I’m a total #foodlovah

Sooooo yeah. Foodie Friday started out as a great regular blog series for me. …but in order to have a ‘series’ you kinda hafta keep up with it, huh? :/

I’m gonna go ahead and admit that for awhile there I was feeling pretty uninspired on the food front, eating a *lot* of the same things on repeat. And in some ways, that’s a very good thing (um hi, oatmeal, I promise I will never betray you). But in other ways, a change-up was long overdue.

And after this little change-up time period of mine, I’ve discovered something: I’m a *total* #foodlovah. Like, holy crap do I love food. A lot. I could talk about it for hours. Legit. Just ask my friends, they’ll tell you. Hell, you already know this if you follow me on instagram — my pictures are at *least* 50% food related (and that’s a generous underestimate, I fully realize).

Anyway, I thought it was time to bring back Foodie Friday, if nothing more than to share with you some of the new foodie finds I’ve discovered a total love affair with. And maybe it’ll inspire you to instill a foodie change-up of your own! Because guess what? #healthytastesgood :-)

*****

Kabocha — where, oh WHERE, have you been all my life? I mean really, these girls are forever talking about kabocha. And then my sis joined the kabocha train and I was quick to snag a seat beside her on the train. It’s amazing. Has such a fun sweet potato/squash texture that I just adore — and the calorie bang for your buck it provides (35 cals per cup)? I’ll take it!

Lately, kabocha has been my faaaavorite topping on salads. It’s been in heavy rotation on work-from-home-Friday. This past Friday I roasted up some brussel sprouts to go along with the kabocha and tossed it on top of arugula and goat cheese (another obsession of mine lately…especially when it melts into the salad thanks to the warmth from the roasted veggies! I die…).

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Spaghetti squash pad thai -- hoooooly yum. I made this last night during a much-needed ‘me night’ while Scott was off at a work event. I have been wanting to try my hand at it forevverrrrr (especially after one of the girls at the studio, a newly-trained barre n9ne instructor – yay, has been talking it up!) and finally had my chance. I started with this recipe and basically just modified it to my liking. I’m no chef and I’m definitely not a food blogger, but damn, I even impressed myself!

Some of the modifications I made to the recipe…
I used shrimp instead of chicken
I used PB2 instead of peanut butter
I used sriracha as my hot sauce
I added a titch of lime juice for flavor
And to thicken the sauce, I added a tablespoon of plain greek yogurt instead of corn starch (since I used PB2 vs. regular peanut butter the sauce started out being watery)
I then tossed in top of stir fried snap peas, mushrooms, carrots and spagetti squash. Added some pea shoots and a tablespoon of chopped peanuts on top and voila. Heaven. Pure bliss.

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Bananas and oatmeal — two of my favorite breakfast foods. But mash them up and call them a cookie? I’m all yours, baby. Two-ingredient cookies -- yessssssss.

My version:

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The only addition I made was a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips. My batch came out to 8 small cookies for about 50 calories a pop. They taste like banana bread bites and are great for a little sweet tooth fix OR as a pre-workout bite if you’re feeling a little hungry but don’t want too much in your belly. I LOVE these little guys.

And finally — that baked oatmeal I was raving about in my post yesterday. What I love most about this? How GREAT it tasted warmed-up at work. I usually cook my oats on the stove the night before and reheat them at work. It works fine and gives me my oatmeal fix but lately, it’s been bumming me out because it’s not *quite* the same as fresh-from-the-stovetop-oatmeal. So I went on the hunt for a good workaround.

And found this recipe on pinterest — pb&j oatmeal, yes please!

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My modifications — I made half of the batch in the recipe (so two servings worth) and wound up using less peanut butter in the baked oatmeal than the recipe called for. (I also used less jam, I didn’t want it to be too sweet — oh, and I used fig butter, excellent choice…). You see, I wanted to ‘save’ some peanut butter to ‘frost’ on top of the baked oatmeal after reheating it at work. And man was that a good decision!! All I needed to do to reheat these at work was add a splash of almond milk and it was just perfect. I usually eat a banana in the oatmeal but in this case, I ate the banana on the side instead. Nice little change-up if you ask me.

So yeah — I told you I could go on, and on, and on, and ON about food didn’t I? This wound up being one of my longest posts in awhile, sorry about that. Well, sorry-not-sorry. Blame the #foodlovah in me. ;-)

A day in the life — foodie friday style

Soooo – if you hadn’t noticed by now, my blogging has slowed down quite a bit lately. Not because I don’t love this blog anymore (quite the opposite, I’m VERY fond of this little ‘home’ of mine…), but because I try to always blog with intention. I don’t like throwing posts up there just because I haven’t posted in xyz days. I try to only blog when I truly have something to say. And well, I guess I’ve just had less to say lately – or I’ve been too busy in my ‘real life’ to jot my thoughts down over here.

ANYWAY. I sent a quick little tweet out yesterday, sort of just thinking out loud (but via tweet, ha):

Jess Sutera ‏@JessFit654
Itching to blog but nothing is grabbing me this week. How is this possible? Big time writer’s block over here #helpme #talkingtomyself

And I promptly got the following response from one of my longest time blog buddies, Naomi:

Naomi ‏@NJnSF
@JessFit654 I want to hear more about what your meals and snacks are like…

Huh. That’s kind of a good point, actually. I haven’t done a ‘Foodie Friday’ post in ages *and* I actually get this question pretty often, mainly from clients at the studio who are looking for healthy food swaps and such.

So here we go – a day in the life of me – foodie style. ;-)

A typical weekday might look something like this for me:

5:00 – 5:20am: Wake-up and either head to the studio to teach or head upstairs to my treadmill for a run. (if I head to the studio, I’m always armed with some coffee, usually iced, in a travel mug)

7:00-8:00am: Get ready for work, grab my lunch bag and laptop bag (and gym bag if I’m teaching that night) and off to work I go. (well – *after* I stop at Starbucks for a venti coffee with whole milk, that is!)

 (note I tend to hold off on breakfast until I get to the office. I realize that this is not ideal for some of you, but somehow I’ve ‘trained’ my body to hang on tight until I can get to work to eat a proper breakfast. If I’m teaching a double in the morning, though – I will eat a little something beforehand – usually it’s a Lindsay Cotter Healthy Bite and a bit of coffee!)

 9:00-ish: Heat up my oatmeal in the kitchen at work. My oatmeal bowl is almost always the same during the work week: ½ cup irish oatmeal, 1 cup water and cinnamon sprinkled on top. When I reheat it, I add a splash or two of unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Then I stir in a tablespoon of peanut butter (mmm) and either sliced banana on top or chopped apple (that I cook the night prior, too) stirred in.

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(and yes, my oatmeal is portable — I make it the night prior and reheat it at work, that lower left hand shot is proof! Plus, it reminded me that Love Grown Foods granola on top is an AWESOME way to jazz up your oatmeal, just sayin’)

12:00 – 1:00pm: I try VERY hard to wait until 12:30 to eat my lunch but sometimes I eat earlier than that – or later if I have a meeting – but my mid-week lunch itself is typically some version of a wrap with either fresh fruit on the side or baby carrots/veggies and hummus on the side.

My wraps tend to include: Flatout wrap, a smear of laughing cow cheese (and/or mustard), fresh spinach or mixed greens and deli ham or turkey. Sometimes I’ll make egg or tuna salad (made with Chobani plain greek yogurt in lieu of mayo) if I’m feeling particularly ambitious the night prior.

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On the side I’ve been all about fresh fruit sliced up OR if we’re talking about this week? I’ve been obsesssssed with the buffalo-style hummus (ala Spabettie!) I made over the weekend with baby carrots on the side. Note – if you make this (which you MUST!), it gets spicier as the week goes on. Fun, right?

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3:00-4:00pm: snack time! This can vary – lately it’s been Chobani banana, mango, pineapple or strawberry-banana greek yogurt (on a big yogurt kick!). Other snack options for me tend to include: an apple paired with string cheese, or cottage cheese and fresh berries, or a Healthy Bite and some fruit (orange, apple, pear, clementine).

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6:30-7:30pm-ish: Dinnertime varies from day-to-day depending on if I’m teaching at night or not. But WHAT I tend to eat is actually not all that varied (which is making me think I ought to switch it up more, but I get lazy and tend to revert back to my good ‘ol stand-bys so easily!).

Typical mid-week dinners:

  • A giant salad with grilled chicken that I either toss in buffalo sauce and pair with greek yogurt (spiked with lemon juice, salt and pepper) as my ‘salad dressing’ or I’ll add the grilled chicken with chopped apple and my favorite Trader Joe’s champagne vinegrette or I’ll make it a fajita-style salad with sautéed peppers and onions and salsa as my dressing. These three salads have been in HEAVY rotation lately.
  • Otherwise – our dinners tend to involve grilled chicken breast or boneless pork chops with a steamed or roasted veggie and a salad (sometimes with fresh bread from the grocery bakery) or sometimes we’ll get really crazy and make chicken (or shrimp) curry over rice (or over spinach which I’ve been doing a lot of lately).
  • If we’re feeling extra adventurous we’ll go for something fun like chicken or shrimp lettuce wraps with potstickers (Trader Joe’s makes really good ones!) on the side. Side note: I find that we tend to eat more fish in the summer, I tend to crave lighter proteins in summer when it’s hot out.
  • And if we’re doing a date night style dinner (mid-week or weekend) we are both HUGE fans of grilled filet mignon with roasted asparagus and salad.

SO hmm – the theme here? Some sort of protein + a veggie + salad = the Sutera standby meal. <–HA!
(and funny — I don’t take many dinner pics, weird huh?? Didn’t realize it until I went hunting for pics for this post…)

 8:00-9:00pm: If it’s date night (um hi, winesday anyone?) there will be wine involved. And usually a Dove promise (looove these), too.

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Orrrr, if it’s a regular old night, I might go for some banana-strawberry ‘fro-yo’ (frozen banana, frozen strawberries, food processor it up, add some pb or cocoa powder and bam, instant dessert) or edy’s slow-churned vanilla or chocolate single-serve frozen yogurt. OR I might make lowfat ‘cupcakes’ out of any old cake mix that I stir canned pumpkin into and bake into little cupcakes. Warm one of those suckers in the microwave with a teaspoon of peanut butter or nutella and you have a SUPER yummy dessert for around 130-150 calories. The.Best. Yep, I’m one of those that always craves a little something sweet after dinner. And this works for me. Ohhhhh does it work for me. ;-)

Holy wow – I guess I had a lot to say on this topic. I hope you stuck with me through all of this!! And now I’m curious to see what your ‘day in the life – foodie style’ looks like!! #nosy #foodlovah #happyfoodiefriday

Lunchtime love-fest

Soooo — I’ve been working from home the past couple of days (our office is moving to a new location next week) which has given me the chance to try some new lunch combos since I have my kitchen at my disposal.

Before I divulge my lastest lunchtime love-fest with you all, I have one very serious message to send you all today:

I am such a firm believer in healthy, whole, real foods whenever possible. This wasn’t always the case (perhaps a post for another day — my food journey?) of course, but for the past couple of years especially my approach to eating has been simple. No diets. No quick fixes. Just hard work and really, REALLY yummy food — that just so happens to be very healthy, whole and real. So that’s my wise words of wisdom for you today:

Skip the diet. Just eat Healthy.
(can I get an ‘amen’ to that please??)

ANYWAY. The point of this post — the lunch I’ve been obsessed with this week. It’s been a total lunchtime love-fest. Have devoured it the past two days and I do believe I’ll be making it a three-peat today. It is just TOO GOOD.

Annnnnd voila:

This is the most delicious savory and sweet combo I’ve tried to date. What I did:
- Toasted two pieces of cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread (I love the chewy, nutty texture of this bread, and the nutritionals are amazing, packed with protein and fiber!)
- Spread the toasted bread with one laughing cow wedge (trust me on this)
- Fried up one whole egg
- Added fresh spinach and sliced tomato
- Plus a side of juicy honeydew melon and blackberries

And there you have it — the most ridiculous lunch I’ve made in awhile. I was literally sad when I took the last bite. Which is why I made it again the next day. ;-)

So my two tidbits for you today: A killer (and so easy) lunchtime recipe *and* some words of wisdom — no diets, just healthy, real, whole foods. Get after it, friends! Own your health!! 

Foodie Friday – the fuelin’ edition

Iiiiiiiit’s Foodie FRIDAY — the fuelin’ edition up in here!!!

(pardon the excitement here — apparently anytime I start talking about all things marathon training related, I get wicked excited…who have I become?! But I digress…this is a post for another day, hehe)

But seriously, it IS another edition of Foodie Friday and well, what’s not to get excited about? Plus, it’s Friday – the week (a rather un-fun one at that) is nearly behind us and the weekend is thisclose. Oh – and I have the pleasure of teaching two barre n9ne classes today (one first thing this morning and another tonight!). Oh happy day. :-)

(again a digression, sorry — I’m a bit of a spaz these days)

Back to Foodie Friday — the fuelin’ edition…

Today I’m here to talk about how Scott and I have been fueling up for these epically long runs of ours. At first, we started with your standard chomps and things. For me — honey stingers. I love that they are made with all natural ingredients and aren’t pumped full of fake crap. No bueno. For Scott – gummi bears. He loves it. So cute.

An example:

BUT — what we’ve learned the longer our runs get is that we need more ‘real food’ when we’re out there for hours at a time. And I never ever thought I’d get to that point where I can fuel *almost* like a regular runner. By now you all know that I have a hard time running with much in my tummy. It’s never happy running ‘heavy.’

However, I’ve discovered the perfect, PERFECT solution to the real food ‘need’ on long runs coupled with the can’t-have-much-in-the-tummy-when-running issue.

Enter: HEALTHY BITES. 


…or as I like to think of them: tasty little bites of heaven. Made with lots of extra love from the most fabulous and totally genius creations ala Lindsay Cotter.  <–if you don’t know Lindsay yet, you MUST get to know her. She is incredible, with such a huge and loving heart, a kind soul, and SUCH creativity when it comes to cooking up these little bites of heaven. I heart her so. <3

So these healthy bites — they are nothing short of amazing. I used to eat them as a fun little snack in the afternoons with an iced coffee (perfect combo, if you ask me!).

But now? They are incredible bites of fuel, mid-run. They give me SUCH a burst of energy, and man are they tasty. Even my super-duper-picky husband loves them (he’s a fan of the muddy buddy bites!) and will eat them mid-run. And if you know Scott, you KNOW this was no small feat to get him to even try them to begin with!!

So yeah — marathon training or not, these bites are awesome!! As I said, before training kicked in, I was eating these as little afternoon snack/pick-me-ups, a perfect little pre-dinner treat if you’re looking for a snack that’s bite sized and not too much of a caloric investment (most of them are about 50 cals each).

In short — I LOVE healthy bites. Love, love, love. And I think you should too. Just sayin.’

Anyway, that’s that – I love healthy bites, I’ve found a fueling strategy that works for me (and the hubs) and that makes me a VERY happy marathoning camper!

Happy (foodie) Friday friends!!

Foodie Friday – the ‘me dinner’ edition

So by now you all know how much I just adore this guy, right?

(sorry, I can’t help myself, I LOVE his smile in this picture from last summer at the lake!)

Well, even though I adore him more than anyone else in the world, I do appreciate a good ‘me night’ now and then, too. Last night turned into being just that: a night all to my own, to do whatever I felt like doing, including cooking a meal that only I would eat!

I thought about it all week – hmmmm, what should I make that I’d normally not ‘get’ to make since a certain someone in this household can be rather picky?. ;-)

…it didn’t take me all that long to figure out, to be honest. I knew I wanted something stir fry-ish (yes, that’s a word). And I knew I wanted to cook up some barley – a grain I only recently re-discovered and freakin’ LOVE. It all came together, though, when I saw an instagram pic from Tina with a genius idea — she used pineapple juice to cook up her quinoa recently. Um hi, I LOVE pineapple! So instead of pineapple juice in the barley, I decided to use fresh pineapple chunks in the stir fry itself.

…which is how this creation was born:

Shrimp and veggie stir fry over barley <–such an original title, I know

OMGGG. Freakin’ delish.

In the mix:

1/4 cup (raw) barley (that I cooked in water/chicken broth, LOVE how it puffs up once cooked!)
1 cup (or so) of trader joe’s frozen veggies (it had peppers, baby corn, broccoli and carrots)
1/4 cup (or so) of fresh snap peas
1/2 cup fresh pineapple chunks
4 oz cooked shrimp
lemon juice (optional, to taste)
chicken stock to saute

I basically cooked up the barley earlier in the day and once dinner time rolled around, I sauteed the veggies and shrimp in the chicken stock and then added the barley in to warm it up. Once it was almost done, I squeezed a bit of fresh lemon juice on top.

…and then I devoured it. Yummmmm.

Talk about the perfect ‘me’ dinner if I do say so myself ;-)
(if you’re curious, this was about 425 calories in total)

It may have concluded with this fine pairing:

Field Stone rose (one of our favorite wine clubs!) and a Dove chocolate
Perfection. <3

< Editor’s Note: Check out the new layout! Dig it? Don’t be too impressed, it’s just a wordpress template, but at least it freshens things up around here nicely! >

Foodie Friday — eating like a marathoner (my way)

I thought I’d bring ‘Foodie Friday’ back this week — but in a different format. I’ve been learning a TON about myself so far during marathon training and one of those learnings revolves around food. Now, I’m not gonna lie — some of you might be surprised by what I’ve learned, and I’ll stick a giant caveat on this post — this is just what has been working for me. It may not work for you. But one thing I’ve definitely learned while training is that every body is different! TRUTH!

But back to the point here – the things I’ve learned while eating like a marathoner (my way).

By now you all know — I’m a big-time fan of food logging. I picked it up during the barre n9ne challenge last May and have been a faithful logger ever since. I stick to the same number of calories every day, regardless of what my workout plans may be. Yes — even on long run days. With the exception of the fuel I take during the long runs (which I’ll get to in a minute!), my calorie number stays exactly the same.

And so far? That is totally working for me. I haven’t needed to eat anything more than my body has been needing, calorie-wise, before I started marathon training. However, I will say this: if I get to the point in training where I am faced with hungry horrors and my body truly needs more calories, believe me — I’ll eat an extra snack or mini-meal to satisfy my body’s needs. I’m not in this thing to deprive myself, that’s for sure. I love food way too much for that *and* I know it’ll just have the oppositie effect that I’m looking for. Fuel, fuel, fuel!

What I have noticed? My body craves, craves, craves….protein. Not carbs so much (‘cept for the night prior to a long run…mmmm pizza!), but protein. It’s the one thing that keeps my body feeling energized and truly fueled. I am finding myself gravitating towards proteins in a big, big way lately.

Some examples of what that might look like:

  • egg salad on a flatout wrap — huuuuuuge fan of these lately.
  • chicken salad on a flatout wrap – newfound love affair sparked just this week (picture below…which you’ve seen if you follow me on instagram!)

  • (basically any protein source stuffed into a wrap and I’m a happy camper)
  • cottage cheese (or plain Fage 0% yogurt) with fruit, HEALTHY BITES!, a laughing cow wedge spread on a sliced apple, peanut butter on an english muffin — heavy rotation snacks going on up in here

  • one thing that hasn’t changed; post-run recovery meal: OATMEAL!! Except for last weekend, I went with protein pancakes (see, there’s the protein fix again!) because I had fresh blueberries which just screamed PANCAKES. OMG it was heaven on a plate:

Another oddity — and one I wasn’t expecting — on long run days, I’m not nearly as hungry as I am the day after the long run. My body actually tends to feel less hunger after a long run. I’m still eating appropriately on long run days but I totally expected to want to eat my face off after 15 miles! Instead, it’s the day after — sorta like DOMS that always hurt way worse the second day? Hungry horrors tend to settle in the next day for me. I guess my body takes awhile to catch up to all those miles run. ha. ;-)

A final biggie — this one is all about what I’ve learned fueling during my runs. And I KNOW this will sound crazy to any of you who run longer distances, I clearly am in the vast minority here when I say this. But my body tends to run better on less fuel and less water.  I simply cannot take much of anything in my stomach before a long run (we’re talking maybe a couple of crackers or a half a banana while zipping out the door). And during the run — the most I’ve taken for fuel so far has been 5 honey stingers and 3 gummi bears (Scott is loving the fact that he can eat gummi’s as fuel!). Water — Scott and I share an 10 or 22 oz  water bottle (depending on the length of the run). Yes, we share. I can’t stand running with the handheld, but Scott doesn’t mind it (what a guy!). Again — I KNOW that’s not very much water but it’s all my tummy can take. Any sloshing or heavy stomach feelings, and the run goes all downhill for me. Really fast.

So I feel like I’m baring my soul to you guys here but seriously, this is my quirky-but-it-works-for-me approach to eating like a marathoner. The bottom line: I eat as many fueling foods as I can get my hands on, I’ve been limiting alcohol during the week (sad face lol) and hydrating like whoa.

Running, of any physical activity, is suuuuuch a personal journey, it truly is. And this is one journey that I am loving, quirks and all. ;-) A HUGE thank you in advance for sticking by me throughout this ride so far, I know I am blabbing a LOT about marathoning, I promise not all of my posts will be about it for the next few months. I’ll try, anyway. ;-)

Foodie Friday — a picnic in the park

For those of you who follow me on Instagram (@jessfit654), you might remember seeing this picture last weekend:

That would be Scott and I — at the start of our impromptu picnic in the park on Saturday. We’re all smiles. <3

Like I mentioned in my post on Wednesday, a lot of what ‘life’ is about are those unplanned, real, present moments. Saturday was exactly that. It was just Scott and I, a blanket and a picnic basket. As simple as that.

So I thought I’d dedicate today’s Foodie Friday post to what “our” version of a picnic looks like: 

Three parts fruitwatermelon, pineapple, cherries…




Two parts  LOVE…as in LOVE GROWNgranola and Scott’s favorite guilty pleasure…gummies!

And one giant helping of cuddle timeunderneath a brilliant blue sky, a warm-ish breeze and lots of sun. 

See? Picnics can be EASY. They don’t have to involve lots of prep work, planning and all that jazz — simple is GOOD. Simple leads to quiet moments together, lounging (and napping) in the sun, enjoying total and utter presence. I highly recommend it.

(and ps. am I the only one that could literally exist on fresh summer fruits and not much else ‘cept for wine  for the duration of the summer months?? I. Am. Obsessed.)

Foodie Friday — the “if you give a boy a cookie” edition

Remember that book “If you give a mouse a cookie”?

I LOVED that book growing up.
A close second to the Berenstain Bears “Messy Room” that is. ;-)

For those of you that follow me on Instagram (I’m “jessfit654″ if you’re looking for me!), I posted this series of pictures yesterday morning:

That would be a ridiculous ice cream cookie sandwich.

A concoction I created for the birthday boy. Ice cream and homemade chocolate chip cookies are his ultimate weakness. Swap in homemade ice cream for store-bought and you have a birthday boy’s dream come true.

Now, I can’t take *any* credit for the recipes – I made the cookies based on the directions on the back of the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chips wrapper and used this recipe from Real Simple. <–I’m so original, right??

The key for me? Using whole, real ingredients – fresh cream, fresh milk and butter, real chocolate. Real, real, REAL.

You see, my rule of thumb is this: If you’re going to indulge, make sure its worth it. And it better be real, homemade and fresh. Or else, why bother? I wouldn’t ever dream of wasting precious calories on a chips ahoy cookie or some crap like that. Such a waste when homemade always tastes SO MUCH BETTER.

…and sometimes? You just need the cookie. You just do.

Especially when you take two cookies and mash homemade chocolate chip ice cream in between them. This would be the smiling face of one very happy birthday boy.

 “If you give a boy a cookie” indeed. ;-)

Foodie Friday — more than *just* a salad

Know what cliche I cannot stand? That women must eat *just* a salad in order to fit the sterotypical “healthy eater” mold.

However, I *do* dig salads…but not the boring ‘ol lettuce, tomato, cucumber side salad variety (though, those have a time and a place, I probably eat one of those almost every night as part of my dinner). What I’m talking about here are meal-sized salads that pack a protein boost along with lots of antioxidants and a TON of flavor.

With that, I welcome back Foodie Friday — the “more than *just* a salad edition.

Now that spring and summer weather is upon us, I’m back to gravitating towards salads for lunch or dinner. For some reason, in the winter months, I just don’t crave meal-sized salads very often. I usually steer for wrap sandwiches (which are still in heavy rotation right now!!) and warm foods and the thought of salad is somehow far less appealing until the seasons change.

But just this week, I re-discovered my love affair with a couple of salad concoctions I ate pretty often this time last year and thought I’d share them with you here, along with my “approach” to building the best damn salad around (if I do say so myself!).

First up – my lunch yesterday:

This was a mixed green salad with fresh sliced strawberries and cucumbers and leftover quinoa on top. We had quinoa the other night with dinner and it turned out so well, I was really glad I made extra! I sauteed garlic, onions, and jalepenos and then added the quinoa to the pan and used chicken stock to cook the quinoa in. Turned out super-flavorful with just the right amount of heat from the jalepeno. Such a good pairing on the salad yesterday!!

And then – this ended up being dinner last Friday:

Neither of us were in the mood to cook. At. All. We were tired, it had been a long week for both of us given I was away most of the week for work in Cali. BUT I was craving a homecooked meal after being away. So, Scott agreed to grill if I could figure out something easy to have with whatever he grilled. And this is how our new signature grilled chicken salad was born — I do believe it’s become our new Friday night dinner staple. Takes no time at all — just assemble the salad, grill the chicken and slice it up on top. Easy peasy! This chicken is Scott’s specialty – he takes lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper and a touch of cayenne and sort of makes a rub out of it to put on the chicken. Then he grills it up while I prep the salads – simply made with fresh baby spinach, tomatoes, cucumber and salt and pepper. I also like to add a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese on top of my salad, adds extra flavor!

There are loads of other salads I could probably tell you about but I thought I’d share my most recent faves. My approach to building a meal-sized salad is pretty simple. I always include at least one protein source — hard boiled egg, chopped almonds (1 oz goes a long way), goat cheese, avocado…you get the idea. Then I’ll add a shitton of mixed greens or fresh baby spinach, plus cucumber and tomato and the sky’s the limit in terms of toppings I mix in. I love to pair strawberries or blueberries or watermelon with either feta or goat cheese – omg so good. Or strawberries/blackberries with avocado is equally delish. Black beans, corn and red onion is an awesome pairing for a southwestern inspired salad – with some queso fresco cheese and salsa as the dressing if you’re feeling really daring. ;-) I’ve also built a mixed green plate and topped it with fresh-made tuna or chicken salad which adds a giant protein boost. So yummy. And lately, using leftover quinoa or barley has been awesome as a protein/fiber boost.

So there you have it — some of my salad faves…something I’m sure you’ll see lots more of from me this summer as I continue to get creative in the kitchen, especially as locally-grown produce becomes available. I <3 summer!!

Foodie Friday – the “I’m a genius” edition

Ok, so maybe I’m not a real genius, but after coming up with the tastiest lunchtime concoction ever the other day, I kinda felt like one. Even if just for a split second. I even instagrammed and tweeted out my geniusness to that effect. ;-)

This baby is my version of a grilled cheese — it’s genius, I swear. I took a flatout wrap (best invention ever), smeared it with an herb/garlic laughing cow wedge, added a slice of lite provolone cheese (Trader Joe’s makes a really good one), some sliced tomato and fresh mixed greens — and then I folded it over and into the pan it went. I pressed it down (panini-like) until it was toasty on both sides. On the side was an orange and some fresh strawberries – this girl needed the vitamin C boost in a big way this week (notsicknotsicknotsick and all).

Another “genius” item for this week — this one goes to my sis who came up with a yummy alternative to my usual go-to PM snack (usually Chobani…unless I’m running shortly thereafter. Running + dairy + me = no bueno as we all learned last week!).

Into the bowl went cottage cheese and a perfectly ripe banana sliced nice and thin. You might spy some crumbles on top too — that’s from a failed attempt at Nicole’s no-bake chocolate chip “cookies.” (don’t worry Nicole, I’ll try again – for now, they are great as a topper to cottage cheese or yogurt!).  This was so yummy — definitely rotationg this sucker into my PM snack mix asap!

And finally – a new take on plain ‘ol water. Something I drink a ton of already, but drank even more of this week while warding off the sickies. I’m a big fan of selzer water (after I drink my allotted “regular” water for the day, at least 64 oz) – and like to spruce it up with fresh fruit whenever possible.

Well – I recently got a box of Vita Coco water to try out and figured I’d throw that into my selzer one day (I’m a fan of the pineapple infused vita coco but find the mango/peach flavor hard to drink on it’s own for some reason).

The result? A really refreshing and tasty, kicked-up selzer water. This one had fresh blackberries and pineapple, a splash of the Vita Coco mango/peach water and lots of ice. Super-duper refreshing…and for a split second, if I closed my eyes really tight, it felt like I was sitting on a beach somewhere drinking a tropical-infused drink. ;-)

So there you have it – a couple of new (and genius!) foodie finds for me this week. All very tasty, all very nutritious and healthy, and all very easy and fun to make (and eat!). God, I love food. ;-)