I like to meal prep for the week. That helps me stay on track and not come in from work starving, which leads to eating whatever is quickest. I looked up three different recipes for my weekly meal prep: one for breakfast, one for snacks, and one for dinner. For breakfast, I settled on a quinoa egg bake.
Quinoa Egg Bake
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/4 cup nonfat milk
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups packed baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup finely shredded romano or parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8x8 dish with the teaspoon of butter; set aside. Rinse quinoa under cold water until water runs clear and drain well. In a large bowl, whish together eggs, milk, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and quinoa. Stir in spinach, then pour mixture into dish. Cover tightly with foil then jiggle dish gently from side to side so quinoa settles to the bottom. Bake about 45 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle top with cheese; return to oven and bake, uncovered, until golden brown and crisp, about 10-15 minutes more. Set aside and let cool before slicing into 6 equal servings (250 calories each).
Verdict: This was my first experience with quinoa, and once I invest in an extremely fine-mesh strainer, I'm sure I'm going to love it. I did not use nearly a whole cup of cheese (though I love it) because I didn't think it would need it. Turns out, I could've used more cheese. Also, I could've read the directions in full before slicing because I cut it into 9 servings... which makes mine only about 170 calories per serving (actually less since I used less cheese). The first time I tried it, I thought I was going to have to throw the entire pan away. But after having it for 2-3 days, I'm rather enjoying it. I put each slice into a container and I just pop it in my microwave at school for a quick breakfast. I'll be making it again! Possibly with a few variations.
For snacks, I decided to try a flour-free peanut butter muffin. I LOVE peanut butter, so how could this be bad, right?
PB & Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 medium ripe banana
1 large egg
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons honey
1 TB vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 400. Spray mini muffin pans with Pam or Baker's Joy. Add all ingredients (except chocolate chips) to blender. Blend on high until creamy. Add chocolate chips and stir with a spoon (if you're adding them). Spoon mixture into pans until about 3/4 full. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until tops are set. This makes 17 mini muffins at 100 calories each. If you skip the chocolate chips, they're just 65 cals.
Verdict: WATCH THE MUFFINS CLOSELY! I burned mine. These suckers cook QUICK. Of course I just tore the outside off and ate the inside because that would be wasteful to throw them away. They're really tasty! I think next time I'll cook them on 350 and start checking them at 5 minutes. It might help to do liners as well. Also, I might even skip the chocolate chips. It was almost too rich with them. I know, shocking revelation for a chocolate lover like myself. I think this will be a keeper once I perfect them!
For dinner, I knew I was going to make spaghetti squash, but I needed a "topping," so I found an amazing-looking recipe for sauteed spinach, mushrooms, and caramelized onions.
Sauteed Spinach/Mushroom/Caramelized Onions
1 TB olive oil + 1 TB
3 onions, sliced thinly
1 TB balsamic vinegar
10-15 mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup heavy cream (optional)
1/4 cup milk (optional)
1/2 cup grated parm (optional)
Heat 1 TB olive oil on high heat in a large skillet; add sliced onions and cook on high heat for about 10 minutes, constantly stirring with spatula. The onions should start to brown but not burn. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking onions for 10 more minutes, continuing to stir, as onions brown even more. At this point add just a pinch of salt over onions. Continue cooking for 10 more minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally to make sure onions don’t stick to the bottom of the pan or burn. By the end, you should have cooked onions for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle onions with a small amount of balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan.
While onions are cooking, heat 1 TB olive oil in another pan, and add sliced mushrooms and minced garlic. Add just a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook mushrooms and garlic covered for about 20 minutes, occasionally stirring.
Add cooked mushrooms to the pan with caramelized onions, add 3 cups of spinach and stir on low heat just until spinach wilts. Serve as is as a side dish or proceed to make a creamy sauce.
Optional step: Add heavy cream, milk, Parmesan cheese and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the mushroom-onions-spinach mixture on medium-low heat and mix. Stir to coat on low heat for about 5-10 minutes until cheese melts and starts to coat the vegetables.
Verdict: OBSESSED. I used a whole package of mushrooms cause I love 'em. I didn't do the FULL cream sauce at the end, but I did add a little sum'n. I skipped the milk and just added about 1/4 cup cream and 1/4 cup parm. It was delicious as-is, but cheese ain't never hurt nothin'. It makes 4 servings (my version has about 215 calories each... would have less without any added stuff at the end), but I divided mine into 3 containers for dinner this week. I piled it on top of roasted spaghetti squash for a healthy and satisfying meal that could be heated in 1 minute. The entire meal is less than 300 calories. #Winning.