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Food Fun

Some weeks life is just so busy that you don't have the energy for thinking outside the box for meals. By which I mean I often have weeks where everything needs to be cleaned, I have a doctor's appointment, we've made plans with multiple people, there are commitments to attend, etc. And then I don't have time (or even care) to find new recipes to try. I fall back to the tried and true things so I don't have to use my brain.

But then there are times where somehow I find the motivation, so I run with it. I tend to get bored of eating the same meals on a rotation, so when these periods of inspiration hit me, I try to bookmark new meals to try. And I've had a few new ones recently, so I thought I'd share some of the hits from January. Maybe there will even be something here that piques your interest.

I'll start with my lunches. Most of them have been vegetarian, but a couple have chicken. (I like to mix it up, but usually stay away from having red meat simply because I tend to eat the same lunch 4-5 days during the work week and that's a lot of red meat, especially if any of our dinners have it too.)

And this is all easy for me to remember because I've been keeping a food & exercise journal this year. I don't really need the accountability that I think a food journal is supposed to provide because I'm not trying to lose weight, but it does help me keep track of what sort of balance I'm hitting with fruits & veggies, desserts, etc. Plus, it's fun to see how I'm progressing in my workouts. Things I used to struggle with I'm now slowly getting better at. Anyway...

Week 1 was sort of a "whatever week" because I had it off of work still from the holidays, so I hadn't fallen back into an exact post-Christmas routine yet. But I did make some Peanut Butter Chicken Lettuce Wraps. I got the recipe from my online fitness trainer and the one change I made was to add chopped cilantro to it. It was pretty good! Recipe here.

Week 2 for lunch, I made this Middle Eastern-Spiced Squash and Bean Stew, which has been my favorite lunch this entire month! (I'm trying to figure out how soon I can make it again. LOL) And actually, 3 of the lunches I've made this month were from this blogger's site. I'm a little obsessed with it for the moment. Lots of whole foods and good flavors. This stew is a little bit of work, but incredibly flavorful! And warming for these cold days. I think if you're going to try any of these recipes, this is the one I'd most recommend. I did make a few changes, like using a dollop of Greek yogurt on top instead of whole milk yorgurt, omitting the mint (I don't really like it) and the toasted seeds (lazy). Haha. Obviously you can adjust to your liking as well, but the one thing you shouldn't tinker with is stirring in the lemon juice & zest at the very end. That totally makes this recipe!

Week 3 I made these Quinoa Cauliflower Patties. They certainly worked for me last week, but I don't know if I was blown away enough to make them again. 

Week 4 (this week), I'm having this salad. It's not the most filling since I'm stretching it over the whole week, so I'm having side dishes with it. Like yesterday, I chopped some pear chunks into a bowl of cottage cheese. I don't know what I'll do today, maybe the same. But I will say that even though yesterday morning as I was making this, I was wondering, "Am I really in the mood for salad?" that I ended up really liking the sweet potatoes paired with the apples and red onions, and the mustard-vinegar dressing is tasty too. So this one is one I'd make again for sure.

Next week, I'm going to steal an idea from Andee and make this soup because 1) it's warm, 2) it's slow cooked (Hallelujah!) and 3) it just looks like what I'm in the mood for.

Dinner-wise, I've mostly made recipes that weren't new to me this month, but two of the new ones I did make that stand out are:

1. These Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw because they were super easy and also more flavorful than I expected. However, in future, in place of the chili powder, I'd just use this blackening seasoning that we now use on everything. I love it because the flavor is complex without being too spicy. (These secondary tacos are also favorites of ours.)

2. Sweet and Sour Chicken because again, slow cooker!, and also sometimes you're in the mood for Chinese but don't want the billion calories that come with take-out. I did not use raw honey. I used either orange blossom or clover ... I don't remember which. And I made my go-to brown rice because it's easy and amazing and I love you Alton Brown.

Okay, must get back to work now, but I don't share as much food stuff as I used to, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to do it. I should really add a few recipes to my sidebar since I haven't updated that in forever because then they're easier to search and find later on. Maybe I'll work on that this week. I have at least one or two decent photos of a couple of the meals mentioned above. 

If you're looking for inspiration for a healthy, seasonal meal, I think almost all of these fit that bill (I'm not sure the sweet and sour chicken is exactly "winter"). If you end up trying any, and especially if you make any fun changes to the recipe that turn out well, let me know!

Oh, wait, wait! I know most of you probably don't do meal-replacement smoothies (and honestly I don't either 99.9% of the time), but I tried this post-workout smoothie for dinner last week and it was so delicious! Granted, you could always halve the recipe or split it with someone to keep the calories down and just have it for a treat instead of replacing a meal. And I know you're probably not looking for a smoothie recipe in January. Lol. But write this down somewhere if it sounds good because I promise you, it is!

(Modified from blogilates.com -- She uses coconut milk & coconut yogurt, but I don't have easy access to such fancy grocery items out here in Apopka, so I used substitutes):

PB & J Shake (about 470 calories)
Blend all:

1 C frozen strawberries
1 sliced, frozen banana (must be prepped ahead of time)
2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter (or regular)
1/2 C. plain yogurt
1 C. almond milk (or other milk type)

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