rosemary red potatoes with light roasted garlic dipping sauce

If it were up to my fiancé, I would make roasted red potatoes as a side dish pretty much every night. He's obsessed. And rightly so -- they taste as good as french fries, but they're actually nutritious! I usually just give them a rough chop, toss them with olive oil and dried spices, then roast them for half an hour in a hot oven (see my basic recipe here). This week when I made them, though, I was craving something a little different. Some fresh herbs, and some kind of dip. So, I grabbed some rosemary from the store then created this roasted garlic dip because 1) I love roasted garlic more than pretty much anything, 2) I had a head of garlic, and 3) I wanted something pretty healthy. So... yeah. This was freaking amazing. We couldn't get enough.

You SERIOUSLY need to make these potatoes and this dip. It's easy, but the end result tastes like it must have been difficult to make. Serve with my almond crusted chicken tenders and some greens and you have a delicious, balanced meal.

Have you ever roasted garlic before? It might seem intimidating if you've never done it, but the process couldn't be easier. And roasted garlic takes a dish (especially mashed potatoes...mmm) to a whooole 'nother level. All you do is remove the outer, papery skin off an entire head of garlic...


Asian brined pork loin with a hoisin glaze & sesame greens

So, I told you in my last post that I was ready to start spring off on the right healthy foot, right? Well, then it snowed yesterday. On March 25th. That ain't right. Butttt... I didn't let it stop me! I cooked this deliciously healthy and flavorful meal for dinner:

Plus, the snow meant I got out of work early and had extra time to squeeze in a workout and do some meal prep for the week. In 30 minutes or so, I made 4 lunches of spiced chicken (recipe here), mashed cinnamon sweet potatoes, mixed veggies, and balsamic cherry tomatoes. Yum.

Back to that pork though. As soon as I took a bite (and as soon as I heard Ryan go "OH MY GOD"), I couldn't wait to share the recipe for this Asian pork loin. It came out perfectly tender and juicy, and the hoisin glaze is so uniquely flavorful... kind of like an Asian barbecue sauce. 

This is one that I really hope you try. Have you ever made pork tenderloin? I was a little intimidated by it before I made it, but it's really quite easy. Just make sure you account for brining overnight, and have a meat thermometer -- don't want to take guesses with pork!


I'm back!

So, I snuck away to California last week and didn't even tell you guys beforehand... how rude! But I'm happy to say that, 1) it was a wonderful trip, and 2) I'm happy to be back! The trip was a combination of work and play (but more play, thankfully) in San Francisco and Los Angeles. I had never been to San Fran before, and what an awesome city! My brother and I did some exploring, including the typical tourist spots: the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Coit Tower, the sea lions at Fisherman's Wharf. So much fun. We also spent a few days in LA to see some family that we hadn't seen in entirely too long, and it was so, so, SO lovely. Hiking, exploring Venice beach, driving along the PCH, spending time with my cousins, and just enjoying being around great people. It was an awesome trip, and I'm already looking forward to returning! Then, it was back to San Fran for an academic conference -- not quite as leisurely, but also a great experience for a big ol' nerd like me. All in all, it was a week away that was so needed, with a great combination of leisure, adventure, activity, and learning... perfect. I'm going to share some pictures, then share what I have in store for the blog in the coming weeks!

A great view of San Fran from the 27th floor of the Hilton in Chinatown

The sea lions bathing at Fisherman's Wharf

The Painted Ladies with the San Fran skyline in the background

Chinatown in San Fran... so cool.
We rented a convertible Mustang... why not?


healthy clean-eating snack ideas

I recently had a request from someone to post about healthy snack ideas. This person -- like many others -- was doing pretty well with creating and eating healthy meals. It was the snacking that was doing the damage. Eating 3 times a day is not enough.. you NEED healthy snacks! But what to reach for? And how do you ensure that you'll go for the healthy options? Here are some of my favorite choices:

  • Frozen edamame (thawed) tossed with a bit of low-sodium soy sauce
  • An apple spread with a tablespoon of almond butter
  • Nuts! Always nuts! 1 ounce of almonds, walnuts, pistachios, or pecans 
  • 1/2 an avocado with a scoop of salsa in the middle
  • Plain greek yogurt mixed with cinnamon & berries
  • A can of tuna tossed with 1 oz sunflower seeds & balsamic vinegar
  • Hard boiled eggs (1 yolk, 3 whites) with salt and pepper + sliced cherry tomatoes
  • Cottage cheese mixed with cinnamon  
  • Carrot sticks & hummus
  • ANY fruits or veggies. Carrots, cucumber slices, red pepper slices, mango slices, grapefruit, grapes, the list goes on and on... eat up!
  • Homemade trail mix (see basic combo below)
  • Nut butter energy balls:

Another person requested a sample meal plan. Here's what an average day looks like for me:
  • 5-6am (pre-workout): 1/2 cup applesauce (this is all my body can handle that early, but it has enough carbs to give me energy)
  • 7am (breakfast): whole grain english muffin with either almond butter, cottage cheese mixed with cinnamon & splenda, or egg whites and cheese. Sometimes berries. Always coffee.


avocado, spinach, mozzarella & sriracha quesadilla

I mean, how could that combination of ingredients NOT be amazing?

Aside from this wonderful concoction of flavors that I'm sharing with you today, I also have great news: I PASSED MY FINAL THESIS DEFENSE TODAY! Meaning, I'm officially gonna be a master, y'all! This is just one milestone down on my journey to a doctoral degree and becoming a psychologist, but it feels AWESOME to get it done. I worked very hard on it, and I feel pretty proud of myself :) Plus, now hopefully I'll have a little more time for some regular blogging!

This quesadilla recipe I'm sharing with you today is very simple but oh-so-delicious. I had a mexican craving one afternoons along with a nearly-empty fridge... I spotted an avocado and the idea just came to me. Why wouldn't you put avocado in a quesadilla? With gooey mozzarella cheese? And healthy baby spinach? And the condiment that makes everything better - sriracha? It turned out awesome and I hope you try it! Do you have 10 minutes and these 5 ingredients? Then you're on your way!


pop-in post: spinach almond pesto

I've roasted several chickens on my own before, and they've turned out pretty good. But they aren't that easy to prepare, and I'm just not sure it's worth it -- aside from the disgusting prep work of, um, emptying out the bird, they require careful cooking to prevent drying out. The Harris Teeter near us, however, seems to have no trouble making a juicy, delicious garlic-herb bird that browns up perfectly (for just $4.99 on Sundays!). This makes it pretty hard to resist buying a prepared rotisserie chicken at the grocery store rather than making my own. And that's exactly what I did yesterday when I saw them on sale... but I knew it needed a little something extra. This pesto was perfect!

So today, when I got home after a long day at work, I just popped the bird in a 400 degree oven to reheat it for 20 minutes and I prepared this delicious, healthy spinach almond pesto as it cooked. I served the chicken alongside a cabbage and carrot cole slaw tossed with greek yogurt, mustard, apple cider vinegar, dill, S&P and a bit of splenda (no recipe for that - just toss it all together!). It turned out to be a super quick, simple, and healthy meal. Plus, easy cleanup! Ryan was raving about it, and while part of that credit goes to Harris Teeter, I think the flavorful, heart-healthy pesto was the star.

I LOVE basil pesto, but I switch it up from the classic recipe often because: 1) pine nuts are way too expensive, and 2) I don't typically have basil at my house. We ALWAYS have spinach and almonds, so this is easy and inexpensive to throw together. So good and healthy! Cut back on the cheese if you want to reduce the saturated fat (although it's not much to begin with, this makes about 4 servings for us which is only 1 tbsp of cheese/person!)


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