Assignment 3 – Quinoa Meal Prep Madness

Hey there!

For this week’s assignment, I didn’t get too creative with my grain choice, and I stuck with my tried and true friend Quinoa.  I love cooking with quinoa almost as much as I love eating it.

Maker:S,Date:2017-11-22,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

Breakfast

This was the hardest meal for me because honestly… I’m really grab and go with my breakfast.  It’s typically instant oatmeal or a protein granola bar (or sometimes I skip all together… not a great habit I’ll admit).  Given that, I decided to make my own granola bars this week as I’ve seen quinoa in some of the packaged bars I’ve gotten before.  These were so easy and so delicious!  The flavor is peanut butter and dark chocolate.  I didn’t have to cook the quinoa, but I did bake it in the oven for about 15 minutes.  I will definitely be making my own protein/granola bars again.  They were better than store bought.

Lunch

My prepared lunch for the week is a sweet potato, kale and quinoa salad.  I cheated a bit as I’ve made this before, but it’s one of my favorite recipes ever!  I added cilantro and parsley for herbs and the dressing is a lime vinaigrette.  Weirdly, it also calls for cinnamon which gives this salad a warm fall type of vibe to it, but I’m still going to eat it for spring!!  There are also onions, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds.  I’m actually really looking forward to having this salad for lunch this upcoming week.

Dinner

Dinner this week is sweet chili salmon on a bed of quinoa with veggies.  Salmon is a protein that I use semi-frequently, but not as much as I do chicken.  It’s so funny because my mom used to make salmon all the time, and I hated it as a kid.  It was on sale at the grocery, so I figured I would use that as my main protein this week as well as a way to get in some more quinoa.  I baked the salmon and the vegetables.  Very hands off recipe in terms of like… making and cutting a lot of things.

So that’s been my massive quinoa meal prep… will I be sick of quinoa after 12 meals in a week?  Probably, but I had fun making it.

Thanks for reading!

~Corey

Assignment 2 – Gettin’ Tropical

With the arrival of spring, I decided to use that as the inspiration for one of my items of produce.  The mighty pineapple.  Pineapple reminds me so much of summer, and I wanted to welcome the warm weather with something tropical.

(Full disclosure: I LOVE pineapple on pizza.  I’m not going to apologize.  Pineapple tastes good on everything.)

I also chose asparagus.  My mom used to cook a lot of asparagus, but I have never made it, so there were my ingredients settled.

And I decided to be real ambitious and combine BOTH of my produce into one recipe.  Pineapple Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry (served on a bed of cauliflower rice because I love it so much).

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The first thing I learned is that pineapple is… not easy to cut.  I kind of parceled it into fourths after removing the top and then tackling the skin removal.  My hands were very sticky afterward.  Oh well!  What is cooking if you’re not covered in something delicious by the end of it.  That was definitely the hardest part of this recipe.  Any tips on cutting pineapples would be welcome.

Here is the finished product:

I did try it, but as you can tell this is a meal prep for my upcoming week, so I haven’t had it fully.  The pineapple for me is really the star of the stir fry.  I think the sauce was a bit weak.  I think an extra tablespoon of Sriracha might have brightened it up or even some brown sugar.

Okay… full disclosure… the finer details of this assignment were totally not conducive to my meal prepping lifestyle.  I had made all of my lunches and dinners ahead of time last week, so I hardly did any cooking during the week.  This helps me a lot with time management because I am a very busy person.  (I’m not bragging–I would literally not be able to function as a human being without my google calendar.)  I wake up at 5:00am to work out most days, so if I get home at 6:00pm from work, asparagus is the last thing that I really want to think about.  That’s where meal prep is a god send!  All this is to say, that I only made one recipe with my produce ingredients.  I would’ve done a second meal prep, but I have three work lunches this week (orientation season).

Another lesson here, you’re going to need more asparagus than you think.  I used it all in this one recipe!  Anyway, I still have leftover pineapple, so I might edit this with a few other recipes.  I would love to make a pineapple salsa or a pineapple tropical smoothie for breakfast.  Yum!

Still this was good for reflecting on produce!  On my shopping trip, I got apples, blueberries, cucumbers, kiwis, and carrots.  I’ve been trying to break bad snacking habits (this is a callout for Jalapeño Cheddar popcorn and Haribo gummy bears), so I’m really trying hard to consider produce to be a snack rather than packaged treats!  My mom was very adamant that a meal needs to consist of at least one vegetable, so produce has never really been a problem to incorporate into meals!

Sorry I couldn’t give you a whole trilogy of recipes, but I hope that you all enjoyed the beautiful weather this weekend!

~Corey

Assignment 1 – Cooking for blizzards

Confession: I am obsessed with meal prep.  Mostly because it makes my life exponentially easier.  I am a creature of routine, so meal planning already takes up a BIG part of my life as on a week to week basis, there are just not enough hours in the day to do everything that I want to do!  Having most of my meals ready for the upcoming week brings me an incredibly peace of mind.  I do miss some of the flexibility, but it keeps me off sustaining on a diet of Trader Joe’s Frozen burritos and microwave popcorn.

Because of this meal prep, I have a pretty robust pantry that I share with my three lovely roommates.  They have also turned me on to a few ingredients and spices that I would normally not have considered (hello Sriracha!).  I think where I could be doing better would probably be on proteins–I tend to get fresh, free-range, organic meat if I know I’ll be cooking them rather than frozen back stuff.  (I love the idea of vegetarianism, but as a runner, I just can’t give up that protein currently, so I try to buy the more ethically sourced stuff.) I really struggled with finding a good protein base for my meals with what I had.  I also found some questionable looking produce in the depths of my fridge (maybe cilantro–no clue).  I think that I need to be mindful of food storage and only buying what I consume in a week.  Also, I should communicate better with my roommates.  So many bell peppers!  Although bell peppers are delicious, we don’t need 10 of them.

Meal 1: Kung Pao Shrimp w/ Cauliflower Rice.

This recipe is soooooooo good and so easy.  It’s less than 10 ingredients!  All of which I had.  And it took less than 30 minutes to throw together as I was supposed to be entertaining friends in about… oh… 30 minutes!  I made enough to have some for lunch the next day as well because lunch is usually the last thing that I want to think about at like 6am.  Sambal Oelek has been a game changer for my spicy Asian inspired recipes.  That is another pantry staple that I recommend.  I also subbed out rice for Trader Joe’s Cauliflower rice.  I know it’s a convenience type of food, but I just can’t give it up.  (Note: I have made my own Cauliflower rice–I recommend if you want an arm workout!)

Meal 2: Black Bean and Sweet Potato salad

I made this on Sunday during the blizzard for my dinners this upcoming week.  (I also did make another bulk meal for lunches which I will post about probably next week–it was a salmon thing, but I did have to buy the salmon, so it doesn’t count!)

As mentioned, I struggle with keeping protein on hand in my pantry, but I always have some form of canned beans and sweet potatoes.  This was more of a salad as I made a vinaigrette with lime juice, olive oil, chili powder, and garlic!  I actually want to scramble it up with into some eggs to make it more of a main course rather than a side salad.

Overall, I think I need to be more mindful of my pantry.  I did not struggle to come up with two recipes (I have an overflowing bookmark bar).  The spices and sauces that we have are great and versatile, but we are overdoing it with the produce and it’s really heartbreaking to see so much go to waste because we physically can’t consume it.  We also have a big ol’ freezer, so I think I will start investigating freezing some chicken!  I mean, we live in a terrible blizzard state.  Surely I can manage to keep my food cold.

~Corey