Turkish Red Lentil Soup (Corba)

I’m on the record as stating that soup is not a meal, in and of itself, with very few exceptions.

This is one of them. (My mom’s baked potato soup is basically the only other)

Delicious & easy Turkish red lentil soup, ready in half an hour

I also don’t like lentils usually.  That is, until I went to Istanbul last year and we ate in a Kurdish family’s house and were served corba as an appetizer.  Corba is a hearty red lentil soup, super flavorful and comforting.  When I returned to the States, I started pinning recipes right away so I could try it myself.  I learned that red lentils are very different than the dark ones I’d had before, and didn’t have as many texture issues for me.

I’ve made this recipe a few times, trying to get the texture and flavors just right.  For some weird reason I have issues with it separating a bit (so becoming a little watery), but since I like it better with crushed up crackers in it anyway, I decided to just let that go.  One time I even tore up half a bagel into the soup, and the texture was awesome!

Healthy & easy red lentil soup

One of the great things about this soup is that it comes together really quickly—like half an hour from start to finish.  So you can get home from work, get it simmering, and go about your business until it’s time to blend everything up and serve.  Efficiency FTW!
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Best Healthy Recipes of 2016

I guess it’s that time again.  After all the holiday gluttony (and general comfort food craving this time of year), everyone is making resolutions and getting back to the gym and meal planning.

Honestly, I’m not.  I know myself well, and I have to have small, sustainable life choices vs. a diet or life change.  I try to eat healthy (except when I’m traveling) and work out every day (even when I’m traveling), and overall that works for me.  I let 15-20 pounds sneak up on me in late 2014, so I started tracking everything I eat and do in MyFitnessPal and finding healthy recipes I actually *liked*.  And by spring of 2015 I was back to normal and have been able to maintain.

So the good news is that I have a bunch of healthy recipes to re-visit from the last couple years, all now listed in one place for 2017 healthy living ease!

Don’t forget to look at all these great healthy recipes I posted at the beginning of 2015.  There are a ton of yummy make-ahead breakfast options, easy healthy dinners that also make satisfying lunches to pack for work, and (duh) healthy desserts.  Because I don’t believe eating healthy should be sad or boring or a chore.

Main Dishes:

beef-cabbage-stir-fry-pinterest

“Crack” Beef & Cabbage Stir Fry

Sweet and savory and crunchy and super satisfying.  But mostly cabbage, which is both cheap and super healthy (yay colon health!).  This is crazy fast and makes good lunch leftovers as well. [Read more…]

“Crack” Beef & Cabbage Stir Fry

This was my first “back on the healthy train” recipe since coming back from quite a bit of travel over the past few months—including a week and a half inhaling pastries on the French Riviera.  So I didn’t need normal healthy, I needed SUPER healthy.  A sort of food detox, if you will.

Beef & Cabbage Stir Fry...healthy, easy, yummy

What I didn’t expect was for this to be SUPER yummy as well.

beef-cabbage-stir-fry-green-onions

And cheap and easy.  Fast, cheap, healthy, easy, and yummy is like a unicorn of a recipe.  I mean, it’s no mac and cheese, but it’ll do.

beef-cabbage-stir-fry

This is going into my regular rotation of uber healthy meals.  It’s got a ton of fiber from all the veggies, is surprisingly satiating, and still has just enough protein from the beef.  You could definitely use a whole pound of beef instead of a half-pound (or substitute turkey, chicken, pork, whatever), but I didn’t feel cheated by the amount of meat, and it lets you stretch your meat further.  This was lunch leftovers all week for me, and I didn’t get sick of it, which is a miracle in and of itself. [Read more…]

Healthy Apple Muffins with Cinnamon-Sugar Topping

Crunchy cinnamon-sugar topping.

Crunchy. Cinnamon. Sugar. Topping.

Healthy Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Basically, that’s all you need to know about this recipe. But I guess I could mention the fact that they’re mostly whole wheat, low in sugar, and full of wholesome fruit. I mean, if that kind of thing’s important to you.

healthy apple cinnamon muffins apples whole

When you make this, the batter will worry you because it is crazy thick. Like, bread dough thick. You won’t pour or spoon it into the muffin tins, you’ll kind of awkwardly drop it in there and kind of smoosh it. Don’t try to smash it into the muffin cups, just kind of drop it and it will expand as it bakes to fill in the gaps. And despite the thickness of the batter and the density of the baked muffins, they’re super moist! [Read more…]

Balsamic Chicken and Brussels Sprouts

That’s right, we’re still on a healthy kick! And it’s delicious!

Balsamic Chicken & Brussels Sprouts

This recipe had been calling my name for a while, but getting decent brussels sprouts is kind of hard right now, and I also kind of avoid chicken when I can. Chicken’s kind of boring.

Balsamic Chicken & Brussels Sprouts done

This chicken isn’t boring at all—it’s got a richness from the balsamic, a crunch from the walnuts, and serious fiber from brussels sprouts. It came together super fast and made for great work lunches for a few days.

Balsamic Chicken & Brussels Sprouts with sides

Throw in a side of spaghetti squash and butternut squash and you’re on healthy overload! Seriously, the whole thing is a 20-minute meal, was super easy, and totally delicious! [Read more…]

Healthy Eating in 2015…Back to Basics

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I don’t judge people for making them or anything, but I’m more of a believer in making a change as soon as you see the need for it, not waiting for some contrived start date. Plus, if my old gym was any indication, few people keep them. It was nuts there the first few weeks of January, then back to normal within a month.

HOWEVER, I know that lots of you are making resolutions right now, and I myself have definitely slipped into bad habits over the last few months. I’ve got to lock it down now. Every time I call the Chinese place I want to go all Becca on myself…

Here is my healthy manifesto, though:

1) Healthy doesn’t mean unsatisfying—I believe things can taste good AND be good for you.

2) This is NOT a diet, this is about making good choices most of the time. I don’t believe in diets. Diets involve deprivation, and when you tell yourself you can’t have something it just makes you want it more. They’re unsustainable and that means that eventually people revert to their old ways. Plus, they’re just not fun, and I believe in fun. (And food. I love food.)

3) Quality of food  (i.e. packed with as many nutrients & as few chemicals as possible) is much more important than type, quantity, fat content, etc. And exercise is and always will be critical. Never underestimate the power of walking. Walking is amazing for body and soul.

So I’ve outlined some of my favorite healthy recipes below. This is as much for me as anyone else…for the last few months my schedule has been insane and I’ve been totally exhausted. That means I’ve been choosing convenience over everything else, eating out more often and have lacked the willpower to use portion control like I should. So now that I’ve had a week or so to decompress, I’m getting back to my good habits. [Read more…]

Peanut Butter Quinoa Granola

As I’ve mentioned here before, granola’s never really been my thing. That was, until I tried this maple nut quinoa granola recipe, and was instantly hooked on the light, crispy clusters. Gone are the days of tough, chewy oats. It’s a new granola day.

Peanut Butter Quinoa Granola finished

So my second attempt at this granola was a peanut butter one, which is right up my alley flavor-wise.

Peanut Butter Quinoa Granola

I had picked up pepitas, and added some ground flaxseed and chia, plus some walnuts and almonds. The flavor was awesome, though the clumps weren’t quite as crispy since the peanut butter changed the texture. [Read more…]

Dynamite Grilled Chicken

Last Sunday I just wanted something SIMPLE. I’d had a super long, exhausting week at work and even after resting up over the weekend I just found the prospect of cooking daunting.

Dynamite Chicken bite

I didn’t want to assemble 20 ingredients or spend an hour preparing different elements of a meal. I wanted quick and tasty and healthy. Also, I wanted ricotta, which is a weird craving but I went with it and threw together a delicious spinach, tomato, and ricotta frittata (bonus breakfast leftovers), then I added some more protein with this “dynamite” chicken.

Dynamite Chicken

Honestly, the main reason I made the chicken was so I’d have some leftovers for lunch, and also because I wanted to use my grill for the first time this spring. Aaaaand, that was a total fail because when I went out to grill the chicken like half an hour after turning on the grill, it was totally cold. I went to plan B (the stovetop), but still need to figure out what’s going on with my grill.

Oh well…it was worth it in the end, because the flavors on this chicken will knock your socks off. It’s really got some tangy bite, which was a nice complement to the more soothing, mellow frittata. Also, it was super easy, which is always a win in my book. [Read more…]

Kale & Walnut Pesto with Whole Wheat Pasta

As I mentioned in my last post, last weekend I made a few healthy additions to my lifestyle, things I felt like I could manage. The first was guzzling a full glass of water before getting up every morning, and the second was making sure I ate a healthy breakfast every day. I also started to make sure I took vitamins every day.

This meal was about the last one—trying to eat more raw foods.

Kale & Walnut Pesto with Whole Wheat Pasta

Cooking foods can make them more delicious, but can also destroy valuable nutrients and enzymes. That’s not to say you should never eat anything cooked, but adding more raw foods to your diet (such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts) can significantly up the amount of benefits you’re getting from your food.

Kale & Walnut Pesto with Whole Wheat Pasta & Flax

Of course, the best way to really get the most out of your food is to make sure you’re buying local and organic, since the longer since a food has been harvested, the more it loses. That’s not always feasible—either financially or availability-wise—but I am trying to get certain things organic, such as apples and carrots (two of the worst pesticide-contaminated foods).

This dino kale was in my CSA box, so it’s both local and organic. Rather than sauteeing it up like I normally do, I decided to puree it with some raw walnuts, garlic, salt, olive oil, and a little ground flaxseed for a different take on pesto. Toss with some curly whole wheat pasta, and you get the best of both worlds—cooked whole grains with a potent creamy raw sauce. [Read more…]

Quinoa Salad with Butternut Squash & Dried Cranberries

Blah blah blah resolutions blah. Seems like that’s all anyone talks about this time of year. But the fact of the matter is, there’s nothing magical about January in terms of getting healthy. In fact, it’s harder to make a drastic change mid-winter (when, let’s face it, your body is craving sleep and warm comfort food) than to make gradual changes over time that you can actually sustain.

Quinoa Salad with Butternut Squash & Citrus Honey Dressing

For me, the two major things are exercising almost every day and eating healthy at home since my job often entails lots of eating out, drinking, and treats. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself, it’s that I’m not going to stick with a diet that I don’t enjoy. That’s why one of my big focuses in the past year has been finding super healthy recipes that I absolutely love.

Quinoa Salad with Butternut Squash & Citrus Honey Dressing closeup

Make a list of the most healthy foods and ingredients you should be eating—superfoods, whole grains, spices, etc.—and then see how you can work them into recipes. Everyone’s list is going to be different. For me, I haven’t found anything involving lentils that I enjoy and brown rice is dry and bland when eaten as leftovers. But conversely I’ve found a lot of quinoa and barley recipes that I like and are great to take to work the next day. I love kale, brussels sprouts, all squashes, okra, and spinach, but there is no recipe or list of healthy benefits that can convince me to eat cucumbers, green peppers, or fresh ginger.

quinoa salad with butternut squash roasted

Once you find ingredients you enjoy, hunt up all sorts of different recipes using them. That’s where this recipe comes in. I’ve found that quinoa salads like this one and my sweet & savory chicken quinoa and quinoa & kale salad with feta & pecans are easy, healthy, filling, and affordable. And that’s quite the combination. [Read more…]

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