Plant-Based Pesto Quinoa

If you follow me on instagram, you know that I set two goals for the month of September: 1. better meal prep and 2. daily meditation. Truth be told, the meal prep is going pretty well. Why it’s more difficult to find the time to  literally sit still than it is to exert effort into things like shopping, chopping, and cooking is beyond me. Meditation is a work in progress…but at least the meal prep is going well. Hey, nobody’s perfect, right?!

Anyway, I typically meal prep on Sundays and I usually roast some chicken and a ton of veggies. Last Sunday, I was a little sick of chicken, so instead made a big batch of quinoa to have throughout the week. I didn’t want the quinoa tasting like bland leftovers, so I decided to mix things up and pesto-fy my quinoa….because anything with pesto is delicious, no?! Plus, not that I’m into labels or anything, but this baby also happens to be vegan/plant-based, gluten free, dairy free, and choc-full of all of your macro-nutrients. Yup, you’ve got protein, carbs, fat, and a serving of greens too – all in this one super simple dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 handful arugula
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional, or sub for parmesan cheese if desired)
  • 1/2 cup organic corn

*note: all of my ingredients were organic, but if you’re going to go organic on anything, corn is the most important because conventional corn is so highly GMO. I use frozen organic corn and just thaw it out beforehand.

Cook quinoa (cook however you like to cook your quinoa. I cooked it on the stovetop in 2-3 cups water and a pinch of sea salt.) While quinoa is cooking, make the pesto by combining arugula, basil, olive oil, 1 tablespoon of the pine nuts, and nutritional yeast in food processor (I use a Vitamix.) Toast the other tablespoon of pine nuts, but be sure to watch them because they toast fast! (Truth: toasting nuts usually takes me two attempts because I forget about them and burn them the first time. Don’t do this.)

Turn heat off, but leave pot on the warm stove and stir in pesto, corn, and pine nuts. That’s it! Enjoy for lunch or dinner…all week long!

One Healthy Breakdown: Meatless Monday…and Tuesday…and Wednesday…

 

All About Meal Prep

Meal prep is a great way to set yourself up for success. With no time to make a healthy meal when we’re hungry, we’re likely to resort to processed food, take-out, fast food, mindless eating, and overeating. With a kitchen full of healthy snacks and balanced meals on hand, it’s a lot easier to eat healthier. With one simple change, healthy eating becomes a whole lot happier.

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  • Schedule one or two days a week to prep. While it doesn’t have to be the same day each week, plan to take some time to prepare some meals and snacks to last you throughout the week. Think about the times when you cave and come up with some good preventative strategies. For example, if you’re always starving mid-afternoon, pack an extra snack to tide you over until dinner. This will keep your energy, blood sugar, and mood in check and help you to slow down and enjoy dinner because you won’t be famished when you finally sit down. If you struggle with breakfast, prep something simple that will fuel your day, like yummy muffins, berry bars, a frittata, or healthy bread.
  • Have a plan, make a list, and stick to it. Whether you’re using a meal template (google what you’re looking for, like “family meal plan” or “paleo meal plan.”) or creating your own, be sure to map it out. You’re less likely to throw those impulse cookies in the cart when you shop with a clear grocery list. Start collecting recipes that you’d like to make; use Pinterest or collect magazine pages so that you remember them. Another fun tip is to use themes, like taco Tuesday or breakfast for dinner. Lastly, remember to check the weather because it often impacts our cravings (think soup on a chilly day and BBQ when it’s warm.)

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  • Get your nutrients. Be sure that your plan includes carbs, protein, and healthy fats. For example, your energizing carbs could be oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and quinoa. Protein may be a chicken, hard-boiled eggs, and/or tempeh. Maybe you make individual portions of trail mix and some guacamole for healthy fats. Cater to your personal preferences, but be sure to prep produce, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats in bulk.
  • Leftovers are your friend. There’s nothing wrong with a good ol’ L/O. Leftovers come in super handy, so double your recipe or make a little extra knowing that you can have it the following day or freeze it for another time. You can even make leftovers ‘like new’ by adding them to a fresh bed of greens for a big salad or reinventing the meal.
  • Have fun. Prepping is not miserable! Turn on music, get your fam involved, and have fun!

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One Healthy Breakdown: if you care, P R E P A R E !

*For more meal prep tips, check out the queen of food prep, theleangreenbean.com

October’s Tiny Change: Eat Breakfast

OHH Intro: Breakfast is something OHH REALLY stands behind! No, not only on Sundays, but Every. Single. Day. It’s HUGE…and delicious! So, if you’re not a breakfast eater, take the next few weeks to become one (and, no, a cup of coffee does NOT count as breakfast, sorry people!) It may be easier (and yummier!) than you think after scrolling through Kale and Chocolate’s deliciousness below!)

If you’re just joining us, this post is part of Kale and Chocolate’s year-long #12tinychanges challenge. Each month, we’re implementing one super small, super doable change-over a year it really adds up! You can read about all the changes here and share your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #12tinychanges, and don’t forget, there will be giveaways!

kale-and-chocolate-pb-j-oats-1Since October is my favorite month of the year and breakfast is my favorite (and most important!) meal of the day, I decided to turn our attention to how we take care of ourselves first thing in the morning. After all, it’s hard to feel amazing throughout the rest of your day if you’re getting up when it’s still dark and heading out the door on a cup of coffee and an empty stomach!

When we make the time to eat something nourishing and healthy first thing in the morning, we’re setting the tone for the rest of the day! We’re making ourselves the priority, not our schedules or our to do lists. We’re also balancing our blood sugar and metabolism, giving ourselves an energy source to draw on, and taking a few moments to center ourselves before we venture into the fray.

So with that in mind, here are a few tips that will help you navigate this month’s 12 Tiny Changes Challenge. Let’s do this! If you’re not eating breakfast:

1. Figure out why it’s not happening.
Do you dislike traditional breakfast food? Do you feel like you don’t have enough time? (Number one excuse!) Does eating early in the morning turn your stomach? Once you know your “why”, you’ll be able to make changes accordingly!

2. Try different dishes if you don’t like breakfast food.
You’re not actually required to eat pancakes for breakfast – or eggs or smoothies. Make your own rules! Or just move your breakfast from the sweet to the savory end of the spectrum. (It may also help reduce sugar cravings later in the day!)

sweet-savory-breakfasts-lg3. Prep your breakfasts ahead of time.
In September, our theme for the #12tinychanges was to devote a few hours to meal prep each week. When we think of meal prep, we’re usually focused on getting dinner on the table, but guess what? You can prep for breakfast, too! Make yourself one huge batch of overnight oats, pumpkin pancakes, breakfast quinoa, or berry good oat bars and eat them every morning. Chop and peel all your fruits and veggies so they’re ready for smoothies or whip up a big batch of chia seed pudding. You get the idea, it’s about setting yourself up for breakfast success!

4. If you truly can’t eat breakfast, then have a mid-morning snack ready.
There are a few people out there who really feel sick if they eat first thing in the morning. Try starting with a really mild, simple breakfast (like sprouted toast). If that doesn’t work, make sure you have snacks ready to go for when you do get hungry so that you’ll have energy to get through the day.

If you’re already eating breakfast every day, up your game! Breakfast Criminals has been a major influence and has inspired me to take my breakfast to the next level. If you, too, are already nourishing yourself in the morning, but you want to do even better, give these a try:

1. Double-check that your go-to breakfast is serving you.
Many of us (myself included) are creatures of habit. If you’ve been eating the same breakfast for years, why not make sure that it’s right for you? Who knows – maybe you’d have more energy and focus if you started your day with a protein-rich vegetable frittata, baked avocado with eggs, or seeded almond flour bread. Experiment with different types of breakfasts and take note of how you feel for the rest of the morning. Changing your breakfast can change your day, plain & simple!

2. Make your breakfast more interesting (and nutritious!)
If you’ve found a few breakfasts that are easy to make—and help you feel great—experiment with your faves. There are so many delicious, healthy ingredients that you can sprinkle over and stir into your oatmeal, smoothies, parfaits and more! You can see my long list of favorite nutritional boosts here. Have I convinced you? Breakfast can (and should!) be easy, energy-giving, and delicious. Happy breakfast-ing!

One Healthy Breakdown: let’s make this year amazing, starting with our morning meal!

12 Tiny Changes to Make the Year Amazing

*When Elise Museles of Kale & Chocolate shared her idea for #12tinychanges, I hopped on board without hesitation and I think that you will as well! After all, September is the perfect time to make healthy changes, we might as well make changes that stick! So, join us in making the next 12 months amazing, one tiny change at a time! Elise explains exactly how below:

September always feels like the beginning of a new year, doesn’t it? There’s an energy in the air as the kids head back to school and we adults buckle down at work. Just like the new year, many of us view September as an opportunity to make big changes: more exercise! Fewer refined carbs! More water! No TV! More salad! Home-cooked family dinners every night!

768px-EenbruinigherfstbladAnd we might just try to implement all of those changes at once, going from one to 60 in two days. Not surprisingly, this rarely works. We burn out, pull a muscle, and unhappily binge eat over the sink (we’ve all been there.) Our goals to eat healthy, exercise often, and replace TV with journal writing are strong on day 1…and gone by Friday…oops!

Has this ever happened to you? How many times have you broken promises to yourself? This time, it’s going to stick. This time, it’s going to be different. I know because I’ve been there. The only solution that I’ve found is to make teeny, tiny, sometimes even laughably small changes over the course of a long period of time. Baby steps, indeed.

Instead of “I’m quitting dairy tomorrow” I said, “I’m going to put almond milk in my coffee every morning for the next month.” Instead of “from now on, I’m drinking eight glasses of water every single day,” how about “I’m going to drink a glass of water before each meal for the next month.”

12tinychangesBy the time a month had passed, I was on my way to developing a new healthy (and permanent) habit. By the time an entire year had passed, I had over a dozen new habits! I slept better, ate cleaner, moved more, and was kinder to myself. I made all of these changes in a sane, sustainable way…and those good habits have stuck around. It’s not about the changes we want to make, it’s about the changes we actually commit to and turn into habits.

So I invite you to take advantage of September’s bustling new energy and join me in the 12 Tiny Changes Challenge, by committing to 12 small and doable changes to try—one per month, over the course of the next year. Grab yourself a cup of matcha tea and nestle in. We’ve got a fun year ahead. Are you ready? Let’s go, why wait?!

September: This month, I’ll devote a few hours to meal prep every week.

Your mom wasn’t kidding when she said that if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. It’s so much easier to eat healthy all week when your pantry, fridge, and freezer are properly stocked and prepared! This month, spend a few hours every Sunday (or Friday or Monday – you choose) prepping some of your meals & snacks, shopping for fresh, in-season produce, chopping, slicing, and peeling. You don’t need to do it all at once, but with the new fall routine settling in after summer’s carefree days, it’s an opportune time to create a little structure with your meal planning. Learn how to set yourself up for success here. Be sure to follow @kaleandchocolate on Instagram, (and @hamptonskiley) post your meal prep pics, and join in by using #12tinychanges hashtag. Last but not least, there will be prizes!

One Healthy Breakdown: get prepping and posting, change(s) is just around the corner!