Several people have asked me to share my favorite recipes and food bloggers, so here’s a list of recipes for success and what I’ve been cooking lately!
I said it last week and I’ll say it again: what a crazy past few weeks. A combination of end-of-the-year deadlines at work, wrapping up the semester for grad school (I officially finished my first semester of grad school on Monday!), attempting a social life, traveling, and everything else that happens at the end of the year — it’s been a whirlwind!
One thing that helps me slow down is preparing meals. Sometimes preparing a meal looks like opening a cook book, moving around the kitchen chopping ingredients and measuring spices, and then leaning against the counter with a glass of wine, slowly stirring a pot — this forces me to chill out and gives me time to think. However, way more often than that, preparing meals looks like meal-prepping a ton of food at one time to get Alan and I through a busy week. Packing a bunch of containers has been SO helpful to us because being able to heat things up throughout the week gives us both opportunities to keep on working hard, stay focused on our goals, and even spend extra time with each other (sometimes our dinners together look like eating out of Tupperware.) Grabbing a meal without having to plan it that day also allows for opportunities to slow down and think (there are days in my office where I heat up my lunch and just be while I eat). Most of all, prepping food ahead of time gives us the opportunity to make healthy choices.
Let’s be real: with working full-time job, night class, and everything else that pops up, it’s hard to commit a lot of time to cooking good food during the week. When I was an undergraduate student, I did not regularly make healthy choices. While I didn’t eat a ton of fast-food, the 100 mph, fast-paced lifestyle left me choosing easy and fast things didn’t have the nutrients my body craved (I ate more foods frozen, packaged, and processed instead of fresh) or the correct portions I needed (my portions were much larger than they needed to be.) Other factors included in the not-regularly-making-healthy-choices lifestyle were that I didn’t let myself get hungry by snacking a ton and I didn’t regularly work out and stay active. Some weeks were better than others, but in those 4 years of college, I never really cared enough to put the effort in to make the healthiest choices.
After graduating, however, I wanted to make a change. I committed to living a balanced and healthy lifestyle, specifically focusing on nutrition and fitness. It was a lot of learning what worked and what didn’t work for me. (So much positive change happened in my first year living this way and a whole blog post covering my weight-loss/health/fitness journey will be out soon!)
One of the biggest game changers for me has been meal-prepping. If you follow me on instagram, you know I LOVE meal-prepping. I’m all about it. Sometimes meal-prepping looks like cooking a recipe that serves 8 and splitting it up throughout the week. Sometimes it looks like being creative (not following a recipe) and cooking pans of veggies, chicken, and sweet potatoes that can be split up into different combination of meals. I’m not a picky eater, I don’t mind heating up food, and I like to try new ways of eating foods I love. Nonetheless, preparing meals in advance works for me.
In the past few months, several people have asked me to share my favorite recipes and food bloggers. I keep recipes and comments about them in Evernote so I can remember what I’ve made and if I’ve liked it — I recommend doing something like this as you start preparing more meals! Anyway, here’s a list of my go-to food bloggers and what I’ve been cooking lately!
My favorite food bloggers:
- Minimalist Baker
- Dana at Minimalist Baker focuses on simple and delicious recipes that require 30 minutes or less, 1 bowl, or 10 ingredients to prepare. A lot of her recipes are gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan. I do sometimes find her recipes to be a little involved.
- Fit Foodie Finds
- Lee & Linley from Fit Foodie Finds have a food and lifestyle website filled with delicious and beautiful recipes. I have found their recipes super great to incorporate into my active lifestyle.
- Ambitious Kitchen
- Monique at Ambitious Kitchen creates food geared towards those with active, healthy lifestyles. There are so many good-for-you meals to share with the people in your life! She has a lot of healthy desserts, too!
- Bev Cooks
- Bev is a food blogger with so many amazing recipes. Her recipes aren’t always as health-conscious as Fit Foodie Finds or Ambitious Kitchen, but they’re sooooo tasty (I haven’t had a bad one!). She has such a big selection of foods to make, too.
- Little Bits Of
- Kelsey creates super yummy and healthy recipes, too! She has a lot of great paleo and whole30 options if you’re into that. Also, so many good desserts!
Recipes I’ve Recently Tried:
- Sheet pan shrimp fajitas (Recipe from The Blond Cook)
- I’m all about dumping some veggies and shrimp (with a few spices) on a pan and throwing them in the oven. Definitely add toppings like avocado, plain greek yogurt, etc. This recipe is fast, easy, and yummy.
- Slow Cooker Chipotle Steak Quesadillas (Recipe from Bev Cooks)
- I have to admit that chicken and turkey are my go-to meats, I eat either one of them and sometimes both, every single day. There was a long time I avoided other meats simply because I didn’t know how to cook them…and steak was one. However, this recipe was a game changer because all I had to use a slow cooker and booooom, steak was cooked, spicy, and perfect. Then with all of the chipotle ingredients on the quesadillas, this recipe was all I wanted and more (I love mexican food so I’m biased towards those kinds of recipes!)
- Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl (Recipe from Minimalist Baker)
- This is one of my most-cooked recipes ever. This was also the first recipe I made from Minimalist Baker and the first time I cooked with chickpeas! I never get tired of this meal, and usually double the recipe so I can eat it for a meal and then have it for lunch the next day, too!
- Vegan Beer Chili (Recipe from the Minimalist Baker)
- This is one of my favorite chili recipes! It’s vegan & can accommodate several dietary restrictions. I made this chili for a group of my best friends and we all loved it. This is the kind of chili that leaves the whole house smelling so good. It’s got a kick to it, which I love in a chili. Also, it has a can of beer! Love that.
- Healthy Turkey Chili (Recipe from Daily Burn)
- While I love a good vegan chili, sometimes you just gotta have the meat, which is why I was on the hunt for a turkey chili and found this recipe. This turkey chili was the perfect Sunday night dinner. With enough servings for Sunday night dinner and to fill a few leftover containers, this chili was so warm and cozy when the temperatures dropped.
- Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Mexican Quinoa (Recipe from Fit Foodie Finds)
- Sweet potatoes, black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, green chiles, and a bunch of spices… OH BABY. It is one of my absolute favorite combinations of foods. This recipe is so easy (have I mentioned how much I love slow cookers?), quick (literally dump things in the slow cooker), and tasty. It’s healthy, fresh, and keeps you full.
- Also, I asked Alan what his favorite recipe was that we’ve made recently and this is the one he said…. so obviously this is a smith household staple.
- Basil-y Grilled Salmon with Cucumber and Potatoes (Recipe from Bev Cooks)
- Sometimes Alan and I like to treat ourselves to salmon because it’s stinking’ good! Unfortunately it’s also expensive….thus, we splurge. Salmon with crispy potatoes and cucumbers is one of those good hearty meals that you cook when you’re having guests over and trying to impress them (in our opinion!)
- Cashew Chicken Quinoa Bake (Recipe from Fit Foodie Finds)
- I remember going to chinese buffets, paying $7, and downing 3 plates of food until my stomach hurt for the rest of the night…… not my best moments. When I started to pay more attention to what I ate, I soon realized that the buffet was not going to be my friend. This recipe has been a healthy alternative for when I’m craving chinese! You literally throw everything UNCOOKED into a casserole dish and plop it into the oven for an hour. Easy peasy, for sure chinesey.
- Meal Prep Carnita Bowls (Recipe from Fit Foodie Finds)
- This meal has the veggies, healthy fats, whole grains, and protein – everything you could possibly want in a meal. You can sub the pork loin for chicken (I’ve done that!) and it’s just as flavorful and tasty.
- Southwest Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Peppers (Recipe from McCormick)
- This recipe isn’t something that I make for a meal by itself (it only have sweet potatoes, peppers, and onions) but I use it as a base layer. Sometimes I cook some chicken and throw it on top, sometimes I use turkey sausage, or even some eggs. Basically, I used to not know how to cook vegetables so I started with simple recipes like this!
- Crockpot Chili – Black Bean & Quinoa (Recipe from Jessica in the Kitchen)
- Of course, another chili recipe… do you think it’s because Alan and I love chili or we love throwing things into a pot and letting it do all the work for us? Honestly, both. This is another one of those recipes where you dump, ad flavors, and let the crock pot do all the work. We just made this recipe earlier this week and it was a great Tuesday night dinner!
- Shakshuka with Feta (Recipe from New York times)
- This is a one-skillet recipe where you add tomatoes, veggies, and a bunch of spices into the pan. You make the sauce in the skillet and crack some eggs on top and finish it off in the oven. This feels like more of a summery dish to me, but it’s super light and tasty! (Note: I had never tried shakshuka before making this!)
- Slow Cooker Chicken and Tomatoes with Bowtie Pasta (Recipe from Bev Cooks)
- This recipe is so easy to make. You just throw some chicken thighs, tomatoes, and pepper into a crock pot and BOOM. Just kidding, you also have to make the pasta but that’s easy too. This recipe is a good compromise for Alan and I because he loooooves pasta (I don’t) and I loooooove veggies (more than Al). But, as a pasta lover and non-pasta lover duo, we both like this recipe!
- Creamy Kale Salad with Chickpeas & Shallot (Recipe from Minimalist Baker)
- I love a good kale salad. Not a plain bowl of lettuce – I’m not interested in that and don’t believe that’s even a salad. But greens with a bunch of toppings and flavors – that is a salad. That kind of salad is what this recipe gives me, full of flavor and good-for-you things.
- Meal Prep Chicken Burrito Bowls (Recipe from Gimme Delicious Food)
- Since there isn’t a Chipotle in Kirksville, these bowls satisfy my craving for a big mexican bowl of goodness. I made these for me, Alan, and Shari (for her birthday I prepped her lunches for a week!) and they were GOOD. I topped the bowls with this Healthy Creamy Avocado Cilantro Lime Dressing and it was the perfect addition (I’m a sauce person!)
- Meal Prep Chicken and Roasted Veggies (Recipe from Gimme Delicious Food)
- When I first started meal prepping my own lunches, I used this post for guidance. Basically, all I did was go to the grocery store, pick out a bunch of veggies (then chop them all), get some chicken, put everything on a pan, spring some spices, and cook that sucker. This was great for me because it was a starting point for me, and now I’m able to meal prep the veggies I like the most (or the ones that are on sale at Aldi) and customize my lunches to exactly what my body wants/needs.
- Harvest Tuna Salad (Recipe from Little Bits Of)
- Have you ever just really wanted tuna? I don’t experience that feeling often, but I have before, which is how I came upon this recipe. Tuna, apples, pecans, and a few other ingredients – this has been a great lunch option when I’m in the mood for tuna!
- Meal Prep Coconut Curry Chicken (Recipe from Fit Foodie Finds)
- Yet another slow cooker chicken meal… this time, curry edition!
Sweeter Recipes I’ve Made:
- In the past couple of weeks, I have been on an oatmeal kick. I honestly can’t even remember the last time I ate oatmeal before a month ago… I think what changed it for me was the toppings. I. love. toppings. So when I realized you could make a bowl of oatmeal and top it with almond butter, fruit, nuts, etc. it honestly changed my morning.
- On top of this OVERNIGHT OATS have been great to make! If I hit the gym in the morning, I usually stick this in my bag and start eating it on my two minute walk from the gym to my office. Here a couple of overnight oats recipes I’ve used:
- Overnight Oats Recipes – 6 Ways from Fit Foodie Finds – I’m sure these are all amazing, but I’ve only made the Peanut Butter Banana recipe. I made this one first and loved it so didn’t see the need to continue searching for a better recipe!
- Skinny Overnight Oats from Skinny Taste
- Energy Balls (Recipe from The Conscious Dietician)
- These. are. my. favorite. I love making a batch of these over the weekend and then eating them throughout the week. They are really awesome for me to bring to work and eat as a mid-morning pick-me-up! The beauty of this recipe is that you can switch it up quite a bit — leave out the cherries, add chocolate chips, use crunchy peanut butter, etc. — use the foods you are craving and add them in!
- Mocha Granola (Recipe from Kristine’s Kitchen)
- This mocha granola rocks. It uses a combination of coffee and chocolate – two of my favorite things! This recipe uses lighter ingredients, takes less than 20 minutes to make, and you can eat the final product for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, or a snack….. it’s a winner.
- Pumpkin Spice Granola (Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction)
- I made this granola for some friends in October and it was tasty! I for sure got caught up in the spirit of baking pumpkin items in the fall, but I wanted to bake something that wasn’t muffins or breads, so I made granola instead!
- Chocolate Chip Coconut Flour Banana Break (Recipe from Ambitious Kitchen)
- Sometimes when you bake “healthier desserts” you can tell they are a healthier dessert. However, this loaf tasted SO FREAKING GOOD and if I wouldn’t have know the lighter ingredients that were on the list of ingredients, I would have guessed there was loads of sugar and butter. You should for sure make this bread when you have some ripe nanners. It’s good when eaten by itself, on yogurt, with ice cream, etc.
- Blueberry Pie (Recipe by Ina Garten)
- Homemade crust. Homemade filling. Homemade Pie. Usually I don’t bake recipes that are this involved, but I feel like everyone should make a homemade pie once in their life. It was soooooo good.
- Vegan Cowboy Cookies (Recipe from Fit Foodie Finds)
- These cookies have all the goods – coconut, peanut butter, walnuts, chocolate chips, and oats. This is a cookie packed with ingredients, but made on the lighter side. It’s great with a morning cup of coffee (especially if you’re like me and can eat sweets any time of the day!)
- Healthy Soft & Chewy Oatmeal Cookie (Recipe from Amy’s Healthy Baking)
- These cookies were okay — they tasted fine, but the texture was just not what I was craving I think. But, they are healthy. However, if you don’t care about the ingredients as much, you should try Betty Crocker’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies — I made them this week for coworkers, friends, and people I wanted to thank, and they were a hit! While I like to bake healthy things, sometimes I have to remind myself people around me just like good cookies and don’t care as much about the ingredients as I do.
This isn’t everything I’ve made, but like I mentioned, it’s what I’ve been cooking recently. I try to branch out and try new things, but I am also a creature of habit so once I find something I like, I just want to keep doing it (or eating it) over and over.
Overall, meal prepping has changed my nutrition in such positive ways and if you ever have any questions about it, PLEASE ask. Every few months I will continue to share recipes for success and things I’ve been cooking!
Do you have any favorite recipes? What have you been cooking lately? Any go-to solid meals you would like to share?