Weekly Meal Plan: 12/19 – 12/25

baked pork and apples

Well, a week of Christmas celebration officially started for us yesterday.  We headed into NYC Thursday afternoon for our annual Friday visit before Colleran Christmas weekend kicks off in CT.  We typically start the day at the Today Show followed by skating at Rockefeller Center, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Macy’s windows, etc.  Looks like we will be blessed with warmish weather this year.  NICE!

Friday: When we arrive in North Haven, CT Friday evening we typically order pizza for the group of 10 adults plus 7 children, but I’m bringing leftover Sweet Potato Chicken Curry that I made earlier in the week.

Saturday: I am contributing two things to the Colleran Christmas dinner.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts: I am planning to shred them in the food processor, toss them with a very thinly sliced red onion, olive oil and craisins.
Jicama & Orange Salad w/ Mint: I am adding pomegranates to the recipe for a little festive color.

Sunday:  We will be arriving home mid-afternoon.  I doubt I’ll feel like doing much cooking so I think I’ll defrost the Slow Cooker Italian Chicken I made two weeks ago.  I love that this recipe yields enough for two meals!

Monday: My good pal Debra (Sophia Chow blogger) made a healthy version of Kung Pao Chicken last week.  The husband saw the recipe on her blog and requested we try it some time.

Tuesday: My parents arrive from FL!  I am serving Oven-Baked Pork & Apples which I have made before (Click here for recipe review).  I’ll also serve baked traditional and sweet potatoes and roasted carrots.

Christmas Eve: Our tradition is a variety of selections from the local Chinese restaurant and Takara which is Japanese and offers sushi, noodle and rice dishes.

Christmas Day: The day starts with raspberry crepes, scrambled eggs and sausage.  Instead of lunch, we have a mid-afternoon snack of appetizers (shrimp cocktail, assorted cheeses, etc.) and for dinner we enjoy grilled filet, crab legs, my mom’s famous mashed potatoes (filled with lots of indulgences like cream cheese, butter and sour cream!), grilled asparagus and Baked Butternut Squash & Apples.  We will end the day with this great recipe for Flourless Chocolate Cake topped with raspberry puree and vanilla ice cream.

Happy Holidays to you and your family!

Weekly Meal Plan: 12/12 – 12/18

Pork Loin

Another busy December weekend!  A neighborhood gathering Friday night, I’m attending a 2-day training Saturday and Sunday, and another holiday gathering Saturday evening.  Tis the season!

Friday: Unlike most Fridays, I’m actually planning on cooking a normal dinner at home before we head to the neighbors later in the evening for a neighborhood holiday get together.  Given the chaos of the impending weekend, I thought it would be nice to sit down to a home cooked meal together.  I am planning on: Chicken Basil Meatloaf.  This is a good recipe we’ve made before.  Here is my Recipe Review.  I’ll also make roasted potatoes and red onions and roasted broccoli.

Saturday: Day 1 of a 2-day training for the CrossFit Level 1 Trainer certification.  Attending this in December was really poor planning on my part.  I haven’t had nearly the amount of time I would have liked to read through the manual.  Once I get home, we will get a quick bite to eat somewhere locally before heading to a holiday gathering.

Sunday: In the morning I’ll set the Crock Pot up with Slow Cooker Steak Fajitas before I head to the second day of training.  I’ll whip up an easy spinach salad (spinach, caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes) to go along with it.

Monday: Sweet Potato Chicken Curry I have only made this once before and it was a LONG time ago.  Since my picky 12yo won’t be home for dinner, I thought we’d give it a second try.  My 9yo, on the other hand, has really turned a corner in the last year in regard to her eating habits.  She enjoys most meals I serve these days.  Perseverance pays off!

Tuesday: Pork Loin with Apples & Kale I made this once before and it was REALLY good.  Here is the recipe review.

Wednesday: Leftover night before our big holiday weekend.

Thursday afternoon we are headed to NYC!  Colleran family Christmas is in CT the weekend prior to Christmas every year.  A few years ago we decided to head down a day early and take the girls into the city for the day to swing by the Today Show, skate at Rockefeller Center, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Macy’s windows, etc.  It’s become an annual tradition we all look forward to.  This year we are headed down Thursday so we can spend the night and not get up at 5AM (or earlier to catch a train out of New Haven) in time to catch some of the Today Show.  The girls are really excited to see the city all light up at night.  We can’t wait!

SCHOOL DAY BREAKFAST & LUNCH:

I’m always on the hunt for new GF school lunch options for my 12yo and my 9yo just likes to try new things for breakfast and lunch.  However, I’m not planning on trying any new recipes this week.  I will boil up a bunch of eggs for either hard boiled eggs or egg salad which both girls enjoy.  I’ll also pick up some guacamole for my 12yo to have with veggies and Food Should Taste Good chips.

Last week we tried Paleo Crunch Balls which were really good.

Healthy Holiday Potluck Recipe Idea

Thanksgiving salad

Heading to any holiday parties over the next few weeks?  I have a rule and a strategy for attending parties.  First, the golden rule: You should never, never, never go to someone’s house for a gathering empty handed – even if the host says she doesn’t need anything. Second, the party strategy for overeating prevention: Contribute something that’s good for you.  If you bring a healthy dish, you know that you’ll be able to fill the majority of your plate with something nutritious.  Leave room for only small portions of other highly caloric or less healthy foods.

In need of a good, seasonal recipe to bring?

I made this Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash & Pomegranate Salad as one of my contributions to Thanksgiving dinner.  It was very yummy and it’s very colorful: bright greens, orange/yellow and red.  The pomegranates really give it a festive splash.  I made a few modifications I would recommend.  I suggest putting the brussels sprouts through the food processor to shred them, I used plain pecans rather than candied and skipped the parmesan.

You can also make it really simple and bring an appetizer platter with red pepper hummus, brightly colored veggies like sweet bell peppers, blanched french style green beans, carrots, etc.

If you you are interested in learning about some of my other holiday season survival strategies, check out my December Healthletter.

Warm Soup on a Chilly Day

cooking soup

We are bracing for a rainy Noreaster here in the New England.  An excellent day for a healthy soup to warm you up!  I made a new recipe last week: Sweet Potato, Chicken & Kale Soup that I really enjoyed.  Not only is it super healthy, it’s hearty and filling as well.  It uses rotisserie chicken as a time saver.  Other than chopping some vegetables, it’s a pretty quick soup to make.  The recipe yields plenty for leftovers for lunch or future meals.

Give it a try!

Weekly Meal Plan: 12/5 – 12/11

too busy

Speaking of “hectic lives”… The season has definitely arrived.  Our weekend is crazy!

Friday begins with the annual town tree lighting festivities and my 12 year old’s first semi-formal dance, Saturday morning I’m making smoothies and providing snack bar samples to my fellow CrossFitters at Reebok CrossFit Medfield and we are taking the girls into Boston to see the Nutcracker in the afternoon followed by a little wandering around the city and finally Sunday is the 9th Annual Medfield Foundation Angel Run that I am co-chairing.  The race has 1100+ on-line registrants already and we expect another 100-200 race day registrations.  By Sunday afternoon I think I’ll be just a wee bit tired!

The mid-week doesn’t actually look much less hectic.  Tuesday I’m having dinner with my Medfield besties and Wednesday evening is the annual Spaghetti with Santa dinner.

So… What does this all mean to you, my loyal followers looking for some healthy and easy recipes?  Well, unfortunately it means I’m only cooking twice this week.  BUT! Don’t forget there are many recipes on my Recipes tab (recently updated for better navigation), Recipe Reviews on my blog and Recipes I’ve Tried & Liked on my Pinterest Boards.  If you haven’t looked at any of these recently, take this opportunity for a little perusing.

Here’s what I am cooking this week:

Sunday: First slow cooker meal of the season!  After the weekend we are having, I won’t be keen on spending much time in the kitchen once I get home.  I’m making Slow Cooker Italian Chicken which I made last in March (the link takes you to the Recipe Review I wrote about it in the spring).

Monday: My mother-in-law who is celebrating her 75th birthday on 12/5 will be over for dinner.  I thought I would make something a little more special than the typical mid-week dinner.  I’m trying a recipe for Stuffed Acorn Squash (with ground pork) that I got from The Best Paleo Recipes of 2014 which is an eBook I recently purchased.  There are a lot of good recipes in it and I’ve only made my way through about half of the eBook so far.  Unfortunately, I can’t link you to the actual recipe. If it’s good, I’ll share it with you as a Recipe Review next week. I’m also serving a Spinach Salad w/ shaved asparagus*, caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes.
*What is shaved asparagus? A friend recently recommended this to me and I have been wanting to try it.  You take a raw asparagus spear and use the peeler to shave it into little ribbons.  Sounds great to me!

SCHOOL DAY BREAKFAST & LUNCH:

I’m always on the hunt for new GF school lunch options for my 12yo and my 9yo just likes to try new things for breakfast and lunch!

This week: Paleo Crunch Balls!

BTW… The recipe for Paleo Protein Bars we tried last week was REALLY good!

Also, my 9yo has been into looking through my VitaMix cookbook and making smoothies for breakfast this week.  This recipe (slightly modified from the cookbook) was a hit:

Nutty Fruit Smoothie
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 banana
1/4 cup of almonds or walnuts
Sprinkle of cinnamon
Handful of ice cubes

Recipe Review: Cranberry Maple Orange Pork Chops

Cran Maple Orange-Chops

I made this recipe the Sunday BEFORE Thanksgiving, but with all the goings on, this is the first opportunity I’ve had to share my review. We really enjoyed it and I would make it again following my modifications to the original recipe (see below).  Due to the one hour of marinating and other prep, I would also suggest it’s a great weekend dinner rather than mid-week.

Here is my version:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoons sea salt
  • 4 pork chops (I used boneless, but I’m sure bone-in would be fine too)
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3-4 cups of diced sweet potatoes and butternut squash
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup whole cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary, diced

Directions:

  1. Combine orange juice, maple syrup, and sea salt in a bowl or bag, place pork chops in marinade and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 400.
  3. Toss sweet potatoes, squash, red onions, 2 TBS coconut oil and garlic in bowl or bag, toss/mix, place on foil lined pan, salt/pepper to taste and roast for 15 minutes (they will still be firm).
  4. Heat 1 TBS of coconut oil in dutch oven, add pork chops (save marinade on side) and sear chops for approximately 2 minutes per side.
  5. Add marinade, roasted vegetables, cinnamon, cranberries and rosemary to dutch oven over pork chops.
  6. Reduce heat to 350, place dutch oven in oven (uncovered), bake for 20-30 minutes until pork is cooked throughout and vegetables are tender.

Weekly Meal Plan: 11/28 – 12/4

Xmas tree 2013

Is anyone really ready to start eating and thinking about cooking again?  We are in VT for a little post-Thanksgiving fun over the long weekend.  No “real” cooking on the agenda until Monday. ;) This is our annual weekend of getting organized for the upcoming ski season and cutting down our Christmas tree to bring home with us.  Here we are last year getting ready to go out and select our tree.  Such a fun family tradition!

Once I get back to cooking this week I’ll be making two tried and true recipes (Tuesday and Wednesday) and one new one (Monday).

Sunday: We will get home late in the afternoon and I’m sure I won’t feel like putting much effort into dinner.  So, I’ll fall back on our standard default easy meal: “breakfast for dinner”.  Eggs are super easy and super healthy!  If you still believe in the old notion that eating too many eggs leads to high cholesterol, read this article.

Monday: Kale, Chicken & Yam Soup

Tuesday: Balsamic Chicken & Tomatoes and Roasted Cauliflower with Dijon Vinaigrette

WednesdayStuffed Sweet Bell Peppers (using ground beef from my monthly meat delivery from Walden Local Meat) and roasted broccoli

Thursday: Leftover night!

SCHOOL DAY BREAKFAST & LUNCH:

I’m always on the hunt for new GF school lunch options for my 12yo and my 9yo just likes to try new things for breakfast and lunch!

This week I’m trying: Paleo Protein Bars