Alright, folks. It’s a new year! You get a clean slate, a fresh start, to make better life choices. I’m starting my year out in my happy place: the kitchen!
My fiancé and I are getting married in 22 months (!!!) and we are making the conscious effort to eat cleaner and exercise so we can start our lives as Mr. and Mrs. healthy and fit. Better life choices start in the kitchen. I took the time out of my Sunday to decompress from holiday vacation and prep meals for the week. I also got the chance to play with my new Christmas toys! I get so excited about new kitchen gadgets and completely geek out. For New Years, I made a Sicilian Love Cake solely because I got the use my new Kitchen-aid mixer 3x! Thanks to my in laws, marriage is now optional because I got the one thing I wanted to put on the registry. (kidding!)
We tend to eat a lot of meat and heavy foods when we are with family, you may even call us meat-atarians. The holidays were definitely rough on our bodies. Not only are the meals I choose for this week cleansing and light, but they are almost entirely vegan. Here’s what’s on the menu for breakfast and lunches this week, original recipes are linked, my twist is below:
CHIA SEED PUDDING WITH DATES
Fiancé: what IS that?
Me: Pudding! Taste it!
Fiancé, making weird face: it’s good, but not what I expected when you said pudding.
So, disclaimer, this is more of the consistency of tapioca pudding than instant pudding. I am not typically a fan of tapioca, but I love this chia pudding.
Chia seeds are magical little pods of healthy goodness. They contain fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, phosphorus, and manganese.
The originally recipes mixed water and coconut milk and added vanilla extract. I substituted vanilla coconut milk for the water and extract and it tastes creamy and delicious. The original website offers more ideas for variations but I kept it simple:
– 4 cups Vanilla Coconut Milk
– 1 cup Chia Seeds
– 1 cup dates, chopped
– unsweetened coconut flakes
Combine coconut milk, chopped dates, and chia seeds in bowl. (Try not to eat all the dates before adding to the mixture)
Stir every 10-15 minutes for 45 minutes, or until pudding has thickened up
Put in container and top with coconut flakes.
Refrigerate and enjoy for breakfast or snack!
*makes seven 6oz mason jars
ZOODLES WITH AVOCADO SAUCE
My fiancé and I were watching The Kitchen one morning while having coffee and they said that even if you took zoodles and fried them, they would still have less calories than pasta. Since we’re trying to slim down for our pending nuptials, anywhere we can cut calories is pure gold. The avocado sauce is reminiscent of a creamy pesto, minus the oil and cream. Fiancé was a little unsure of eating something raw and vegan, again, we come from red meat eating families, but once he tried it, he loved it. It’s light and fresh tasting!
(Thank you, future sister-in-law for my spiralizer!)
– 2 zucchinis, spiralized
– 1 lemon, juiced and zested
– 1/3 cup water
– 8 tbsp pine nuts
– handful of basil
– salt and pepper, to taste
– grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced
After spiralizing zucchini, place in medium to large size bowl.
Slice tomatoes and add to bowl. I used a variety pack because the original recipe did and it looked pretty.
Zest one lemon into bowl. Be careful to zest only yellow skin. The white beneath it is bitter. Juice the remaining lemon.
Add avocado, water, lemon juice, pine nuts, and basil to blender. Blend until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.
I first read about Silky Zucchini Soup on Cup of Jo, a blog I follow. The soup is advertised as being creamy, minus the cream. Keeping with our veggie theme, I decided to give it a shot. This s the only non-vegan recipe I made for the week. Non-vegan because you use a tablespoon of butter, however, I am sure you can eliminate this by using more olive oil. We like butter for the richness it brings to a dish.
– 3 zucchini, cut in half and sliced
– 1 onion, diced
– 1 clove of garlic, chopped
– 2/3 cup vegetable stock
– 1 1/2 cup water
– 1 tbsp butter
– 2 tbsp Olive oil
– Salt & pepper, to taste
In a saucepan, I used my dutch oven, melt butter with the olive oil. Add in onion and garlic over medium low heat. Salt onions and garlic. Stir frequently until softened.
Add in zucchini and cook until soft.
Tips for Dicing an Onion:
- Cut off one end of onion, leaving the tail as a handle. Peel off skin and cut a small slice off onion so onion lays stable on cutting board.
- Slice into onion horizontally, but not all the way through. Make about 3 slices, depending how big your onion is.
- Now, make several vertical slices into onion, still using the tail as a handle.
- Make perpendicular cuts and you will have easily diced an onion.
- Link here for step-by-step instructions with pictures.
Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup
I have been dying to make this recipe since I first saw it on Pinterest in the Fall. I waited patiently until Christmas for my immersion blender and now I will be making ALL THE SOUPS.
This recipe is so simple to throw together and tastes creamy and delicious. I through this into the crockpot overnight for 8 hours. When I woke up, I added coconut milk and used my immersion blender to make it creamy and delicious. If you have a crockpot with a timer, use it. If not, sweetly ask your significant other to remember to turn it off when he/she wakes up.
Also to note, the recipe only calls for half a cup coconut milk. I attempted to do this in a catatonic state (also why there are fewer pictures) and accidentally dumped in 90% of the can. My soup is a little looser than the blog’s recipe but I adjusted the salt, pepper, and cayenne and it still came out delicious.
– 2 cups vegetable stock
– 2 cloves garlic, chopped
– 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
– 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and diced
– 1 medium (uncooked) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced (save yourself the trouble and buy the pre-cut, if available
– 1 sprig fresh sage
– 1 onion, diced
– 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
– 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper, or more to taste
– 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
– pinch of ground cinnamon and nutmeg
– 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
Throw all ingredients, except coconut milk, into slow cooker
Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4.
Once squash breaks down easily when stirred, add coconut milk. Using immersion blender, puree until smooth.
Taste and adjust salt, pepper, cayenne seasoning.