Meal Prep Sundays | Easy and Healthy Recipes

Happy Sunday! I wanted to share some recipes that I’ve been loving the past few months that are healthy, easy to make, and a great start to the New Year! Part of changing my diet and eating healthy was starting with Meal Prep Sundays! The idea is that on Sundays, or whatever day works for your schedule, you prep all of your meals for the week. This way you have healthy meals already made so you don’t have to think about what to cook or worry about making a healthy meal. I tend to prep only my lunches, and if I’m being really good I prep some healthy snacks to eat throughout the week, then I like to have an idea of what I’ll make for dinner during the week.

I get most of my recipe ideas and inspirations from Pinterest and tailor them to my diet and liking. I just went through my recipes board and removed all the cookie recipes I had added for the holidays. In the future, I think I’ll create a holiday board so that I can keep the yummy holiday recipes separate from my healthy, everyday recipes. I also keep a separate recipe board with meat recipes in case I want to make something separate for Jake. Generally, I don’t eat meat or fish, but go through these periods of time when I really crave a shrimp taco or broiled salmon, so I have them. For the most part, however, I stick to a vegetarian diet. I also try and stay away from carb loaded meals as much as I can. For me, I’ve found that not eating carbs as much as I can avoid them is the real trick to keeping fit in terms of my diet.

cous cous

Photo Courtesy of PicJumbo.com

Meal Prep Lunches

Quinoa Bowls | Quinoa is a great staple and alternative to other grains and it should be kept in the kitchen pantry at all times. It’s great as the base for cold salads, in casseroles, or used to replace rice and sometimes even pasta depending on the recipe. I love making fried quinoa, in place of rice, and adding in a lot of veggies – try this Very Veggie Fried Rice from Cooking Classy! One of my favorite recipes for quick and healthy meal prepping are quinoa bowls! There are endless possibilities depending on your favorite vegetables and what protein you add in. Cook quinoa to your liking, I use a slow cooker on high for a few hours, and cool in the fridge. Once cool, divide quinoa into microwave safe containers, add in black beans, add vegetables or your choice – I like using fresh carrots and broccoli, and sprinkle seasoning of your choice on top. All you have to do is pop it in the microwave for two minutes, and your lunch is done. It may not sound exciting, but I love this! This recipe was inspired by a vegan lunch ideas post found on Vegan Runner Eats. I also found a recipe on Lemon Tree Dwelling for quinoa taco bowls that I’d love to try! I can see this being a great alternative to traditional taco salad during the spring months. Not only are these great recipes for eating healthy, but they’re cost effective to anyone on budget!

Lunchables for Adults | Making a Lunchable type meal is another easy way to prep meals. You put together your favorite meals that you want at lunch and you can measure them out so you know the nutrition facts if you’re tracking calories. You’ll need a larger container for this one, I have these EasyLunchboxes from Amazon that have three divided areas for different foods. They only come in a 4-pack, so you’ll have to reuse one for later in the work week. Other than that, these are great! I’ve had them for a few years now and I really enjoy them! Perfect for portion control, children, and stacking in the fridge. My two staple meals for these are a brown rice, broccoli, mashed sweet potatoes lunch and a Mediterranean salad, cottage cheese, hard boiled egg combo – try this Mediterranean quinoa salad or use garbanzo beans instead of quinoa! These containers are also great for reheating leftover chicken or fish at work. If you’re not a fan of plastic containers in the microwave, invest in a glass storage set, like this Pyrex 20-Piece Set I just got for Christmas!

mealprep

Soups | If I could make all my meals in a Crock Pot, I would. It’s the best for making nearly any meal and it’s almost impossible to fail at the recipe. So many coworkers have been impressed with my prepped meals, but the secret is throwing all the ingredients into the Crock Pot and letting the magic happen. Soups are perfect for the winter months, and for the most part pretty healthy. Try and avoid cream based soups if you’re looking to cut calories, stick to soups with a lot of vegetable and proteins, and use sodium reduced products if you’re concerned about the salt content.

Some great recipes to try out are this Fall Vegetable Crock Pot Barley Soup from Better Recipes, which includes sweet potatoes and barley, so be careful on your serving size or lower the amount of those two ingredients. It’s super filling and tasty – I love the seasonings in this soup. There’s also this great cannellini bean soup from Martha Stewart. This recipe doesn’t specifically say it can be cooked in a Crock Pot but I’ve done it in the past and it works out fine. It’s been a while since I did a Crock Pot soup – I’m thinking it’ll be next on my list of meal prepping.

Tacos | Jake and I have not been able to get enough tacos this past fall and winter. Even though you can’t really prep tacos for lunch, they are easy to make and you can pretty much add any toppings that you want. The basics of our taco recipes are a tortilla, cabbage, a protein, shredded cheese, cilantro, pice de gallo, and a bit of sriracha mayo. A few great recipes to try are this chipotle lime shrimp tacos from Closet Cooking that calls for a creama lime sour cream, that can of course be omitted. For an vegetarian alternative, I sometimes use chickpeas and let them marinade the same way the shrimp would. For when I don’t feel like cooking, I’ll use my Crock Pot and make these black bean, sweet potato tacos from Kayln’s Kitchen. All I have to do is add in a can of black beans, two sweet potatoes, cumin and coriander seasonings, and let it cook on low while I’m at work. Super easy, super delicious, and a great fall and winter recipe. Always add extra cilantro on top!

Today I’m prepping the brown rice, broccoli, and mashed sweet potato meal and packing up some leftovers. I hope this helps a few of you trying new recipes for 2016 or getting into meal prepping. If you’re really interested in meal prep Sunday’s be sure to check out the subreddit for it on Reddit. People are always posting their preps, container options, and great recipes to try! Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter to see daily updates throughout the week to see what I’m up to!

Add Some Spice to Your Life

I’ve never been a fan of spicy or hot foods. I never was big on Thai or Mexican cuisine simply because I always feared the food would be too spicy for me to handle. I remember growing up thinking my dad was a total weirdo for going to Kansas City and trying the hottest barbecue sauce that he could find, to the point where there would be tears coming from his eyes. Now that I’ve had time for my pallet to grow and I’ve expanded my cooking skills beyond the basic American diet, I’m starting to really enjoy a good kick in a lot of my foods. I know I’m not breaking any new ground by sharing my favorite ways to add some spice to my meals, but this is a new experience for me! I actually crave something hot and spicy to the point where that’s what I’ll tell Jake that’s what I want for dinner. Yes, my hormones are totally normal so please don’t jump to any conclusions.

Jake always makes fun of me and my “sauce collection” going on in the fridge, but I’ve finally discover sriracha and I need it in my life. Also, it’s cousin sriracha mayo – so good on tacos! I had some tofu tacos a few months back when we had a food truck at work and my coworker highly encouraged me to add sriracha mayo on for a little something, something. I’m blaming this new found addition on her. After that I made tacos at home just so I could buy sriracha mayo for my “sauce collection”. It’s great on top of normal tacos, fish tacos, tofu tacos, or these sweet potato and black bean slow cooker tacos. We made this recipe two weeks in a row at home and it’s a perfect dinner dish for fall! And it’s a slow cooker recipe, so it can’t get much easier – I highly recommend trying it. Adding a little sriracha or taco sauce on scrambled eggs or a breakfast sandwich will also fulfill my cravings as they come along.

Another great recipe for a little spice, and also so easy to make, is this easy lo mein dish from Damn Delicious. I added in a tablespoon of sriracha and omitted the sugar, and it turns out perfect. Like I said, this recipe is super easy to make and takes nearly no time to cook it. Jake and I are pretty busy and also work opposite schedules, so I don’t like taking a lot of time to make the meals we get to eat together. Another sriracha inspired meal is this 20-minute spicy ramen. I even did the poached eggs and ate it with chop sticks. I’d love to try out some more homemade ramen recipes for the winter months, so please leave suggestions if you have them!

I’m finally figuring out what I’ve been missing out on all this time. I want to go out and try some authentic Thai or Indian cuisine, play around with their spice levels. Maybe some good, authentic Mexican food too. I’ve already been trying out some new salsas to see how much I can handle; I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew – for now.

2014 Favorites

Beauty Favorites

MAC Mineralize Skin Finish Natural – Medium Deep
MSF natural is hands down my favorite face powder.  I can use it all year round and it enhances my base, whether it’s foundation or a tinted moisturizer.  I can double up on it as a setting powder for under eye concealer while I’m traveling as long as I use a light hand. Sometimes I feel like the shade Medium Deep is a bit too dark in the dead of winter, but this summer I found out that MAC recently made a MSF natural a half shade lighter than Medium Deep so I may invest in it.  It’s an investment worth it too, I’ve had my compact for over two years now.

Sigma F88 – Flat Angled Kabuki
I own all of the Sigma kabuki brushes, but I always settle with the F88 over the others.  I feel like this one works the best with any kind of foundation, liquid, powder, cream, and whipped.  It can also blend a little bit of concealer in a pinch.  This brush over all the others tends to clean up better than the others, not that a stained brush affects how it performs, but it just feels better when you can see the brush clean.

NYX Powder Blush – Dusty Rose
This is my go-to blush for every day, traveling, and the blush I carry in my handbag for touch-ups.  I love it so much I own two of them so I don’t have to go back and forth from my collection to my handbag.  The finish of this blush is mostly matte, but the color adds a natural glow to cheeks and can be layered.  I tend to use an angled contour brush to apply this blush, which is the same brush I use to apply the Benefit Rockateur Box Blush, another favorite blush for the year.  The Benefit blush is similar to the NYX blush except for the added shimmer finish to it that acts as a highlight for the cheeks.  When I first purchased the Benefit Rockateur blush I didn’t like, but it’s definitely grown on me.  I like to layer both blushes with cream blushes and the Benefit blush works best on my skin color in fall and winter.

Rimmel Scandaleyes Shadow Paint – Rich Russet & Peachy Apricot
I’ve read mixed reviews on this product, but I really love these!  I only have the two shades listed above, but both offer an easy one eye shadow look.  You definitely need to wear an additional eye shadow primer under these like Urban Decay Primer Potion, but I don’t mind the extra step.  This product can be used with fingers or a sythnetic shader brush to apply the product evenly over the lids then if I’m feeling like I want some more dimension I add a light brown the crease and a white to the inner corners.  With an eye shadow primer these shadows last all day, I even wore it to a pool party and accidentally dipped in the water and the shadow stayed in place.  You can also use these as an eye shadow base if you want a more bold look.  These are also great for traveling!

Mario Bedescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream*
I discovered this eye cream this year by accident when I received it as a piece of gratis at my job.  My eye area is very dry, more dry than the rest of skin, and very sensitive.  This was the first time I’ve had an eye cream that has hydrated enough that I can feel comfortable wearing under eye concealer.  It also keeps minor patchy spots that I tend to get on my eye lids at bay.  There is no scent that I can detect with this product and the half ounce lasts since you only need a small amount to get the job done.

Curly Sexy Hair Curling Creme
This is my holy grail curling creme for my naturally (very) curly hair.  I tell everyone to try this no matter what level of curl their hair is on.  This product works with your natural curl while taming frizz and holding the curl all day.  It doesn’t add any additional curl to your style, but for me that’s perfect.  I buy these bottles by the bulk at Ulta when it’s on Buy 2, Get 1 Free.  If you aren’t ready to commit to three bottles of the product, try the Curly Sexy Hair Color Safe Curl Defining Conditioner and the Healthy Sexy Hair Tri-Wheat Leave In Conditioner.  The three products together work wonders on my hair!

OPI Nail Envy
I use this product almost daily to keep my nails from peeling and it doubles up as a base when you paint your nails.  I attribute this product to the health of my nails.  Now that my nails grow a significant length I can keep a manicure for a few days during the week.

Wide Tooth Comb
Any old wide tooth comb or detangling comb is the best for curly hair.  I keep mine in the shower and then use a normal comb after conditioning my hair.  Generally, brushes aren’t the best to use on curly hair so I tend to keep away from them.

Conditioning caps
You can buy conditioning caps at drug stores, Target, Ulta, or Sally’s for pretty cheap.  I get mine  CVS on a BOGO half off and throw them out after one use.  I shampoo my hair, layer on my hair mask of choice, and place a conditioning cap over top.  I usually do this on Sunday mornings and relax for a bit with a face mask on for about 15 minutes and then rinse out the conditioner.

Random Favorites

Blender Bottle*
I know this sounds crazy, but this bottle really is the best thing ever.  I love the size of it, I have a 28 ounce, and it’s perfect for water at the gym or running errands because I can throw the bottle in my purse and I know it won’t leak.  I make protein shakes in this for a quick breakfast on the go, mix vitamin C packets, and water flavors in this bottle.  This is hands down the best bottle ever no matter what you’re using it for.  If you’re a gym goer like me I definitely suggest investing in one just to keep in your gym bag along with a protein mix for an after workout shake.

Sons of Anarchy
I watch the entire series of Sons this past year and it quickly has become one of my favorite TV shows, in my top five for sure.  I started in early spring and watched the series finale this month.  I can’t say I was surprised by the finale, but it was poetic and I can live with it.  I don’t quite know what exactly it is that I love about this show, maybe it’s the family aspect or the hierarchy of it all, but I couldn’t get enough of it once I started watching it.  You can find six seasons of SOA on Netflix and can purchase the final season ITunes

Slow cooker
This year I jumped on the slow cooker bandwagon and I’m never going back; I am cooking in a Crock Pot for the rest of the my life.  One of my favorite recipes is a fall soup that I found on Pinterest that contains sweet potato and barley making it a filling lunch.  I usually freeze half of whatever recipe I cook so I have lunch made for about two weeks.

Most of these favorite products I packed for my upcoming trip to Iceland because I know that they’re the products I can use without having to think about it.  Next year I’m hoping to find a higher end foundation that I fan add to my favorites list and keep working on my personal records for the gym.  I just purchased lifting straps to help with my grip strength since I’m getting to a weight that’s hard on my hands even with gloves.  Hopefully, my 2015 favorites includes blogging, as I’ve added to the top of my New Year’s resolutions list.

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