Meal Prep & Nutrition

My Work Snack Drawer

I can’t focus when I am hungry. Therefore, when I am in classes, I tend to always keep an emergency granola bar in my backpack or carry a few extra snacks to the library if I know I am going to be there late. When I got to my co-op this cycle, I realized that I could designate a whole drawer next to my desk to snacks. I just needed to decide what to fill it up with. I wanted the snacks to be moderately healthy given that I am more stagnant at work (although the active office lifestyle post gave me some great tips on how to change that!). So here is a list of some snacks that I have thought of/kept at work/seen others keep at work/were suggested by other SWE members.

  1. Granola bars – I transferred my backpack emergency granola bar to my desk. I switch up which kinds I have in there to keep it interesting. Some brands I like are Nature Valley, Kashi, and Kind.
    1. TIP: If you are looking for more filling bars, look for protein bars.
    2. TIP: You can also just keep straight up granola in your snack drawer and eat it by the handful. Currently, I am addicted to the Almond Butter granola from Trader Joe’s (10/10 would recommend).
  2. Trail mix – I tend to make my own trail mix. I buy different types of nuts in bulk and throw them in a Tupperware based on what I’m feeling for that day or week. I also buy large portions of raisins or other dried fruit. Trader Joe’s mix of crasins, golden raisins and dried blueberries is one of my favorites.
    1. TIP: If you want pistachios in your trail mix, it is always cheaper to buy them in the shell. I tend to sit and shell a bunch for the week, while watching TV or while on the phone with someone.
  3. Pretzels – I switch up week to week what kind I get. Snaps? Traditional? Sticks? Honey wheat? Yes, please!
  4. Instant Oatmeal – Instant oatmeal is super convenient and filling! With many different flavors, you can find one to fit your daily mood.
    1. TIP: Keep a reusable spoon and Tupperware or bowl in your snack drawer to use when you make the oatmeal. That way, you don’t have to use your company’s plastic wear.
  5. Kale Chips – A great alternative to other types of chips! These are a great way to incorporate more green veggies into your diet.
  6. Pita Chips/Veggies & Hummus – Okay so technically you can’t keep the hummus or veggies in your snack drawer, but if your company has a fridge you can use, keep a container of hummus in there (make sure to put your name on it just in case!). You can store the pita chips in your desk and pack veggies as part of your lunch. Some great veggies for this are baby carrots, bell peppers, & cucumbers.
  7. Peanut Butter – Multiple people at my co-op keep peanut butter at their desk. They put it on apples and bananas and sometimes they keep a loaf of bread at their desk too so they can make a PB&J sandwich. (Again, if your company has a fridge you can keep your jelly in there.)
    1. TIP: Traditional peanut butter contains a lot of salt, sugar, and hydrogenated oil (this has trans fats, which never leave your body—yeah my high school bio teacher really scared me with that one). Look for peanut butter brands that cut down on these ingredients. Skippy and JIF both make “natural versions” that don’t have hydrogenated oil. Personally, I look for peanut butters with no added sugar or salt. I always check the ingredients list to see if the only ingredients are peanuts. Some stores even have stations where you can grind your own peanut butter, so you know it is 100% peanuts (s/o Whole Foods).
  8. Apples, Pomegranate Seeds, Bananas – Keep fruits in your desk that are okay at room temperature and don’t go bad quickly!
  9. Dark Chocolate Espresso Beans – But these are chocolate?! Well, these are a better alternative for keeping you awake at work than filling up your coffee cup for the sixth time (if you use cream & sugar) and when eaten in moderation.
    1. TIP: I was never a big coffee drinker until my first co-op. At first to get it down, I would use a lot of cream and sugar. Slowly I reduced the amount of sugar I would use and now I use none at all. I also try to cut down on the amount of cream that I use. If I have the option, I use half & half or non-fat milk. I felt better about my daily cup of coffee by making these small changes.
  10. Dried Fruit – Dried fruit will store really well in your desk. There are plenty of options to try out! I personally love dried mango and apricots.

Have other suggestions for desk snacks? Write them in the comments below!

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Meal Prep & Nutrition

Take IN : Fried Rice

Craving take out, but don’t want to spend the money, wait for delivery, or feel (*insert greasy/bloated/word of choice here*)? I have just the recipe for you! It is endorsed by three others who I made it with so I am feeling pretty confident about this one. A classic, chinese food take out staple: Fried Rice. This recipe is great because it can be completely vegetarian, vegan, or you could add proteins of your choice (chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, tofo, etc). The recipe is originally from this website — I have included the instructions below, while editing them with my suggestions (in blue).

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Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ teaspoons + 2 tablespoons avocado oil or safflower oil, divided (We used olive oil because we didn’t have either of these and it turned out just fine.)
  • 2 eggs, whisked together
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 2 cups additional veggies, cut into very small pieces for quick cooking (options include snow peas, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, bell pepper, and/or fresh or frozen peas—no need to thaw first) (We used broccoli, bell pepper, and celery, but as someone who LOVES peas, I would probably add those if I were to make this again!)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon grated or finely minced fresh ginger (Powdered ginger works as well!)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (These definitely added a little heat to the dish–omit if you don’t want your fried rice to be any bit spicy. As someone without a huge spice tolerance, I found this to be delicious and not overwhelming.)
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (*see notes!) (We used white because that is what we had, but using brown makes this a bit healthier.)
  • 1 cup greens (optional), such as spinach, baby kale or tatsoi (We used spinach AND kale #health)
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (We didn’t have this, so we omitted it!)
  • Chili-garlic sauce or sriracha, for serving (optional)

Instructions:

  1. To expedite the cooking process, make sure you have all of your veggies chopped before you begin cooking! Also, the rice can be made in advance. I’m suggesting that you start over medium-high heat, but if at any point you catch a whiff of oil or food burning, reduce the heat to medium.
  2. Warm a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet (or Wok) over medium-high heat until a few drops of water evaporate within a couple of seconds. Immediately add 1 ½ teaspoons of oil and swirl the pan to coat the bottom. Add the eggs and swirl the pan so they cover the bottom. Personally, low and slow is my motto with scrambling eggs. It takes a while, but it is worth it–keep stirring! Transfer the eggs to a bowl and wipe out the pan with a heat-proof spatula.
  3. Return the pan to heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent and the carrots are tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining veggies (not the greens!) and salt. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally (don’t stir too often, or the veggies won’t have a chance to turn golden on the edges), until the veggies are cooked through and turning golden, about 3 to 5 more minutes. In the meantime, use the edge of your spatula or a spoon to break up the scrambled eggs into smaller pieces.
  5. Use a big spatula or spoon to transfer the contents of the pan to the bowl with the cooked eggs. Return the pan to heat and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant while stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Honestly, we did this with the onions, but you could do it here as well. It would be interesting to see how it influences the flavor. Add the rice and mix it all together. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is hot and starting to turn golden on the edges, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the greens (if using) and green onions, and stir to combine. Add the cooked veggies and eggs and stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the tamari and sesame oil. Taste, and add a little more tamari if you’d like more soy flavor (don’t overdo it or it will drown out the other flavors) or salt, if the dish needs an extra boost of overall flavor.
  7. Divide into bowls and serve immediately. I usually serve mine with chili-garlic sauce or sriracha on the side. Leftovers store well in the refrigerator, covered, for 3 to 4 days (if you used purple cabbage, it might stain your scrambled eggs a funny blue color, but it’s fine to eat).

RICE NOTES: You’ll need to cook about 1 cup dry rice to yield enough for this recipe; be sure not to over-cook it or it will stick to the pan. I prefer short-grain brown rice since it’s a little chewy, but medium-grain or jasmine rice will work, too. You can use freshly cooked rice if you spread it onto a large tray and let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes first (this gives it a chance to dry out a bit so it doesn’t steam itself in the pan). Day-old leftover, refrigerator rice is great, too. Just break up any clumps of rice before you add it to the pan.

 

Meal Prep & Nutrition, Uncategorized

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

This recipe comes to us from Drexel SWE Alumni, Jane Maurer, and receives rave reviews by other SWEeties who have tried it. I can’t wait to test it out myself! The original link to the recipe can be found here, but I have also included it below for convenience. It yields 4 servings and should only take about an hour to cook (or if you have an Instant Pot, one commenter said that you can cook it in 6-10 minutes on soup mode)!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch of ground chile powder or cayenne, more to taste
  • 1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.
  2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
  3. Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.
  4. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup then add it back to pot. Soup should be somewhat chunky.
  5. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.

 

Extra bonus: This recipe is vegan as long as you use vegetable broth!

 

 

Meal Prep & Nutrition

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

From Guest Contributor: Elvira-Marie Mikhael

I really liked this recipe because it was easy to make and healthy too! Definitely a good option if you’re vegetarian, thinking about transitioning to a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, or just looking to incorporate more veggies into your diet. I made these for the super bowl with some ranch dressing. The original recipe listed below makes 8 servings. I put the leftovers over some rice, seasoned chickpeas, and spinach and had that for lunch the next day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white, whole wheat or all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/2 cup FRANK’S RedHot® Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce (I imagine that you could substitute another type of hot sauce as desired/needed.)
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted

Directions:

  1. PREHEAT oven to 450°F.
  2. COMBINE flour, water, salt, and garlic powder in a large bowl and stir until smooth. Add cauliflower and stir gently until florets are evenly coated with batter.
  3. ARRANGE cauliflower in a single layer on lightly oiled, large baking sheet (preferably nonstick). Bake 20 minutes or until golden.
  4. COMBINE Cayenne Pepper Sauce and melted butter and pour evenly over cauliflower. Toss gently until cauliflower is evenly coated.
  5. BAKE 10 minutes or until cauliflower begins to crisp, rearranging florets occasionally if needed. Serve with celery and blue cheese dressing.

 

cauliflower cooking pot delicious food
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Meal Prep & Nutrition

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Bars

If you ask me what 2 of my favorite foods in the entire world are, I’ll probably answer “bananas and natural peanut butter”. Although my reliance on peanut butter has dwindled from being one of my main food groups freshman year of college, it is a rare day that I don’t eat a banana. I am particular about my bananas and peanut butter though! My bananas must be slightly green to just turned yellow and if they have brown spots, they will be put in my freezer to be used later for baking. I always buy natural peanut butter with a sole ingredient, peanuts. I try to avoid peanut butters that adds salt or sugar and if it has hydrogenated oil in it, it is a no go as hydrogenated oil has trans fats in it, which never leave your body. Therefore, when I found this recipe for banana peanut butter oatmeal bars by Fit Foodie Finds, I was so excited! The recipe below yields 4 servings and it can be found originally here:

Ingredients:

  • 1 very ripe banana, medium
  • 2 eggs, large
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter, creamy (I recommend using natural!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1.5 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup oat flour (or any kind of flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. First, preheat oven to 375ºF and spray a medium-size baking dish or cake pan with coconut oil cooking spray (I’m sure that PAM would work too).
  2. In a large bowl, mash 1 very ripe banana until liquid. Then, add in eggs, peanut butter, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and almond milk and mix until smooth.
  3. Add rolled oats, flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix until everything is thoroughly combined.
  4. Transfer batter into baking dish and slice a few bananas on top (I’m probably going to skip the bananas on top, but that is personal preference).
  5. Bake at 375º for about 30-40 minutes (it will depend on the size and depth of your baking dish) or until firm.

I can’t wait to try out these bars! I think I will make them on Sundays and then I can eat them for breakfast throughout the week. I’m sure they would also be good as a dessert with chocolate chips in them 🙂

Meal Prep & Nutrition

Cauliflower Rice

Growing up, cauliflower was not my favorite vegetable. I wasn’t particularly picky, but for whatever reason I couldn’t get over cauliflower. I thought, “why eat cauliflower when we can just eat broccoli? Aren’t they the same??” Flash forward 15 years and not only do I love cauliflower, but there are tons of great recipes that utilize cauliflower! I’m sure many of you have seen all of the food videos that use cauliflower as pizza dough or tater tots or even bagels! (See 23 Insanely Clever Ways to Eat Cauliflower Instead of Carbs). However, something new that I recently tried was cauliflower rice. I had seen a few recipes that used it and I figured, why not? So when I was at Trader Joe’s, I grabbed a frozen bag to keep in my freezer until I was ready to test it out.

One of the great things about cauliflower rice is how easy it is to store and cook. You can stock up on some and leave it in your freezer and then either microwave your serving size for 3-4 minutes or cook it on the stovetop for 5 minutes. That’s really all it takes! Since cauliflower does not have a particularly strong taste, it is easy to spice up and experiment with. One of my favorite recipes so far is this recipe for Chicken Fajita Cauliflower Rice Bowls, which is originally from Delish and yields 4 servings.

Ingredients:

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 bell peppers, sliced (I like to use a variety of colors.)
1 sweet onion, sliced
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
24 oz. bag frozen riced cauliflower (I’ve purchased this from Trader Joe’s and Aldi.)
1/3 c. freshly chopped cilantro (I rarely have this, so I often go without it.)
2 tbsp. lime juice
1 avocado
Cheese and sour cream as desired

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400º. Arrange chicken breasts on half of a large rimmed baking sheet, then arrange peppers and onions along remaining half. Drizzle chicken and vegetables with olive oil.
  2. In a small bowl, add chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and salt, and stir to combine. (I made extra of this and put it in an old spice jar that I had lying around, so I can use it for other recipes or again for this one!) Sprinkle mixture over chicken and vegetables, tossing to coat both sides, then bake until internal temperature of chicken reads 170º on an instant-read thermometer and vegetables are roasted, 30 minutes. (I don’t have an instant-read thermometer, so I just monitor the oven closely and cut a piece of the chicken to make sure it is cooked before removing everything from the oven.)
  3. Meanwhile, prepare riced cauliflower according to package directions. Once cooked, toss with cilantro and lime juice.
  4. Serve chicken and vegetables over cauliflower rice with cheese, sour cream, and avocado.

Note: Recently, I had some left over roasted brussels sprouts that I reheated and also threw into this “rice” bowl. I thought they made a good addition!

gallery-1490286540-chicken-fajita-cauliflower-rice-bowl-5.jpgPhoto: Karly Campbell

Overall, I like cauliflower rice. I think it is easy to store, easy to make, and yummy. I don’t think I would ever eat a side of cauliflower rice plain, but I am sure that if I added some spices or overall flavoring to it, then it would be a much better side dish.

Have you cooked with cauliflower rice before? If you have recipes you’d like to share, please comment them below or send them to swe.drexel@gmail.com!

Meal Prep & Nutrition

Smoky Quinoa and Black Bean Salad (Vegan)

This is one of my favorite meal prep recipes! I make it in bulk and then portion it out for either lunches or dinners during the week. The original recipe is from budgetbytes.com, but the below recipe includes some of my alterations. (Quick plug: Budget Bytes is a great website. I like it because you can change the serving size and it will tell you how much each ingredient costs per serving. It is great for us college students who are on a budget!) This recipe says that it makes 4 servings, although I typically find that it makes a bit more than that.

Note: I often also make chicken with this recipe that I sometimes cut up to toss in the salad or I eat it on the side. I normally season the chicken with oregano, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper. This makes the recipe no longer vegan, but delicious nonetheless. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 15 oz can of garbanzo beans
  • 2 bell peppers (preferable red, yellow, or orange)
  • 2 green onions (I have never used these in this recipe)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Use a wire mesh sieve to rinse the quinoa. Drain away the excess water and place the rinsed quinoa in a sauce pot.
  2. Add 1.75 cups water to the sauce pot with the quinoa, place a lid on top, and bring it up to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off and let it rest for 5 minutes, without removing the lid. Finally, fluff with a fork and allow the quinoa to cool. You can place the quinoa in the refrigerator for faster cooling.
  3. While the quinoa is cooking, rinse and drain the garbanzo beans. Toss them in salt, pepper, and olive oil and toast them on a baking sheet in the oven. You can keep them in until they reach your desired crunchiness, but don’t dry them out entirely. Toss them periodically for even cooking.
  4. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the dressing. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and freshly cracked pepper. Set the dressing aside.
  5. Rinse and drain the black beans. Dice the bell peppers, and slice the green onions.
  6. Combine the beans (both types), bell peppers, green onions, and cooled quinoa in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over top, and stir until everything is evenly mixed and coated in dressing. Taste and adjust the salt if needed. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat. Make sure to stir the salad well before serving.

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