Baked Spinach Artichoke Protein Pasta

Baked Spinach Artichoke Protein Pasta

Meal Prep is easiest when you can make a large batch of one thing that can last through the beginning of a crazy week. One of my favorite foods to prep in advance is pasta – it’s always great warmed up and holds up well in the fridge or the freezer. This recipe was originally presented at a Culinary Workshop class I recently helped to lead, and I adapted it, pumped up the protein with legume-based pasta and Greek yogurt and used my Skinny Spinach Artichoke Dip as a base to make it my own. The result was creamy, spinach artichoke deliciousness – and a ton of leftovers – perfect for a busy week ahead!

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Ingredients (Serves 8):

8 oz legume-based pasta, dry (I used Banza pasta- a chickpea pasta with added pea protein!)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 C plain, 2% Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp all purpose flour

1/2 C parmesan cheese, grated

3/4 C part-skim mozzarella, shredded

2 Tbsp smoked paprika

2 tsp garlic powder

1 can (about 15 oz) artichoke hearts, drained well (if salted, rinse and drain to remove excess sodium)

3 Cups frozen, chopped spinach, thawed

1/4 C low sodium vegetable broth

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Nonstick oil cooking spray

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Now just stir in pasta!

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil (add a dash of salt if desired).
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. While water is boiling, squeeze out any excess water from the spinach and artichokes (they must be dry before adding to recipe). Set aside.
  4. Heat oil in medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add onion, stir and sauté for about 4-5 minutes. Add minced garlic, stir, and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Add pasta to boiled water and cook according to directions on package, stirring occasionally. Watch the pasta closely, as many legume-based pastas can get mushy quickly! Be careful not to overcook.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, combine yogurt, flour, spices (paprika, garlic powder, ground black pepper), parmesan cheese and about 1/4 of the mozzarella cheese. Add spinach, artichokes, onion/garlic mixture and vegetable broth and stir until ingredients are well combined.
  7. Once pasta is cooked, drain in a colander and add to mixing bowl. Stir all ingredients until pasta is coated well with yogurt mixture.
  8. Spray a casserole dish (9 x 13 inches) with nonstick cooking spray, add pasta and yogurt mixture to dish and spread evenly with a spoon or spatula. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove from oven, add the remaining mozzarella cheese on top of the pasta and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted. Serve and enjoy!

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving: Calories 262 calories, Total Fat 8 g, Saturated Fat 4 g, Cholesterol 15 mg, Carbohydrates 29 g, Fiber 7 g, Protein 19 g, Sodium 318 mg, Calcium 274 mg

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Ready to bake in the oven!

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Greens Smoothie

Greens Smoothie

This has been my new go-to breakfast for busy mornings – you can make it in about 3 minutes or less, or you can even make it the night prior. Even though it’s bright green, don’t let the color scare you away. This smoothie is sweet, nutritious and packed with protein and vitamin C. Also, the vitamin C in pineapple and clementine help your body to absorb the iron present in spinach more readily – talk about a power breakfast. I usually eat 1-2 egg hard boiled eggs or egg whites to increase the protein content, or you can enjoy this smoothie as a mid-day pick-me-up!

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Ingredients (serves 1):

1 cup spinach, packed

1/3 C frozen pineapple chunks (make sure the only ingredient is pineapple – no added sugar or syrup!)

1 clementine, peeled and sectioned

1/2 C plain, 0% fat Greek yogurt

Ready to blend!

Ready to blend!

Directions:

  1. Place spinach all ingredients in blender (I used my Magic Bullet). Blend until well combined (you may need to blend it for about 2 minutes in order to get all of the spinach leaves fully incorporated). How easy was that?! *Note: you can make this overnight and store in your fridge to grab on your way out the door the next morning – just keep it covered.

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving

Calories 137 calories, Total Fat 0 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 22 g, Fiber 3 g, Protein 14 g, Sodium 68 mg, Calcium 185 mg

This breakfast could be grab-and-go, but it took so little time to make that I just enjoyed it at home!

This breakfast could be grab-and-go, but it took so little time to make that I just enjoyed it at home!

 

 

Presto Pesto!

Homemade Pesto With Basil, Spinach and Walnuts

This homemade pesto incorporates the goodness of spinach (which offers folate, vitamin K and vitamin C) along with omega-3 fatty acids from walnuts, which may help to reduce inflammation. While pesto is naturally caloric and a good source of fat, this version is lightened up by using minimal amounts of olive oil and cheese and is lower in sodium than many store-bought brands. I like to make it on a quiet Sunday so that I can have an easy grab-and-go topping for zucchini noodles, pasta or fish after a hectic Monday – it can stay in the fridge for a few days to save some time on days when you are busy.

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Ingredients (yields approximately 1 cup or about 8 two-tablespoon servings):

2 C basil leaves, loosely packed

1 C spinach, tightly packed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 oz shredded Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese (about 1/4 C)

1/4 C walnuts, chopped (use unsalted or reduced sodium to lower salt content of dish)

1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

All set to blend together!

All set to blend together!

Directions:

  1. Wash spinach and basil and pat dry with paper towel, making sure to remove all excess water. Place in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped (you may need to sweep the sides with a spoon a few times to get all spinach and basil leaves incorporated).
  2. Add minced garlic, cheese, chopped walnuts, salt, pepper and about half of the oil to basil spinach mixture in food processor. Secure the lid and turn the food processor to high for about 1 minute.
  3. Add remaining oil, give the mixture a stir, replace the lid of the food processor and continue on high until pesto is smooth. Use as a sauce to accompany your meal or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-3 days.

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving

Calories 102 calories, Total Fat 11 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 4 mg, Carbohydrates 2 g, Fiber 1 g, Protein 2 g, Sodium 267 mg, Calcium 46 mg

I served my pesto with zucchini noodles and baked salmon

I served my pesto with zucchini noodles and baked salmon

Easy Veggie Bowl Inspired By Bibimbap

Bibimbap -Style Vegetable Bowl

This veggie bowl is loaded with vitamins and minerals, such as beta-carotene (which our bodies convert to vitamin A), vitamin C, calcium and folate, while also offering fiber, protein, healthy fats  and a spicy kick! And the best part? It takes less than 20 minutes to prepare. This is my new go-to dish for busy weeknights!

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Ingredients (serves 1):

1/2 C brown rice, cooked (I like to make a lot of rice at once and keep it on hand for dishes throughout the week – just heat it up before everything is finished cooking!)

1/4 C extra firm tofu, cubed and drained (remove excess water by squeezing in paper towel or cloth)

2 carrots, sliced (or about 1/3 C)

1 C spinach, raw

1/2 onion, chopped (or feel free to use shallots or scallions)

1 large egg

1 Tbsp oil

3 Tbsp hot sauce (I like Cholula)

Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

Dash ground black pepper

Almost ready - now just top with egg and hot sauce!

Almost ready – now just top with egg and hot sauce!

Directions:

1. Warm oil in medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Steam carrots (you can do this by covering them in a bowl and placing in the microwave for about 1 minute, or steaming them over the stovetop).

3. Add tofu to onions in saucepan. Add spices and mix all ingredients together. Cook until tofu is slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp hot sauce, stir ingredients together and cook another 1-2 minutes.

4. Spray small pan with nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray and warm over medium heat. Crack egg into pan and sprinkle with dash of pepper. Cover with a plate and cook until egg white is cooked, leaving the yolk slightly runny (about 3-5 minutes). Set aside.

5. Add spinach to saucepan with onion and tofu and stir 2-3 minutes, until spinach is wilted.

6. Place rice in bowl. Top with tofu and vegetables. Add egg to bowl and drizzle remaining 1 Tbsp hot sauce over entire dish. Enjoy!

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving

Calories 434 calories, Total Fat 24 g, Saturated Fat 4 g, Cholesterol 186 mg, Carbohydrates 37 g, Fiber 6 g, Protein 19 g, Calcium 158 mg, Sodium 385 mg

Southwestern Salad

Spinach Salad with Black Beans, Grilled Chicken and Avocado

This simple salad is a must-try for summer. I am always trying to make my salads interesting by using different textures and flavors. Black beans and chicken add protein and flavor to this bed of veggies, while avocado adds satisfying texture. Also, this Southwestern-style salad has a kick to it – perfect for the summer heat!

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Ingredients (serves 1):

3 oz grilled chicken breast, grilled with spices (chili powder, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper) *This is a great use of leftovers. No leftovers and don’t feel like cooking a chicken breast for lunch? I like Applegate Farms Fully Cooked Southwestern Style Grilled Chicken Breast  strips

2 Tbsp cooked black beans (*If canned, look for Low-Sodium or No Salt Added varieties and rinse in a colander)

1/4 avocado, chopped

6 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 C cucumber slices

2 C spinach, raw

2 Tbsp sweet corn kernels (*I like to use frozen sweet corn kernels and simply microwave them or thaw them before use)

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

2 Tbsp roasted red pepper dressing (I like Greenway’s Organic Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette)

Directions:

1. Place spinach in medium-sized bowl. Add avocado, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, corn and red bell pepper.

2. Warm black beans in microwave (about 25 seconds). Add to salad.

3. Warm chicken in microwave (about 1 minute) and chop. Add to salad.

4. Drizzle dressing over salad and enjoy!

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

Calories 342 calories, Total Fat 15 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 56 mg, Carbohydrates 30 g, Fiber 11 g, Protein 29 g, Sodium 362 mg, Calcium 114 mg

A Very Veggie Egg Scramble

Scrambled Eggs with Vegetables

This simple breakfast guarantees you will start the day on top with a rainbow of vegetables before you even walk out your door. Broccoli and spinach offer up vitamin K and folate, while tomatoes and red bell peppers offer vitamin A. Also, eggs will keep you feeling full from their high protein content without weighing you down!

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Ingredients (serves 1):

1 whole egg, large

2 large egg whites

1/4 C broccoli florets , chopped into small florets

6 cherry tomatoes, cut in halves or quarters

2 Tbsp mushrooms, chopped

2 tbsp chopped onion (I love vidalia onion this time of year!)

1 C spinach, raw

1/4 red bell pepper, chopped

2 Tbsp reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese

1 tsp butter or margarine (I like Smart Balance with omega-3 fatty acids added)

splash nonfat milk

dash salt

dash ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Warm butter or margarine in small skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes, mushrooms and bell pepper to skillet and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add spinach and cook until wilted (about 2 minutes).

3. Place broccoli florets in covered, microwave-safe bowl and steam for 30-45 seconds, until broccoli is bright green (but still firm).

4. Crack egg in small mixing bowl and add two egg whites. Add splash of milk, salt and pepper. Whisk well and pour over vegetables in skillet. Cook until egg is cooked through (approximately 7-10 minutes). Add steamed broccoli and feta cheese. Cook for another minute (so cheese melts) and remove from heat. Enjoy!

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

Calories 206 calories, Total Fat 9 g, Saturated Fat 3 g, Cholesterol 190 mg, Carbohydrates 13 g, Fiber 4 g, Protein 20 g, Sodium 601 mg, Calcium 145 mg

Quinoa with Lentils and Veggies

Quinoa with Lentils and Veggies

This dish is packed with protein and fiber, so you can feel full while loading up on some plant-based foods, like veggies, lentils and grains. Using zucchini, bell pepper, spinach, mushrooms, onions and garlic, this staple packs in flavor, along with a ton of vitamins and minerals. Also, this dish is amazing to have as leftovers – serve it hot the first time and then serve it cold days later with some crumbled feta cheese. Craving some extra protein? I’ve also made this dish using tofu in combination with the lentils, for a heartier meal.

shown with tofu

shown with tofu

Ingredients (serves 5):

1 C quinoa, uncooked

3/4 C lentils, cooked (I like to use lentils that are pre-cooked and vacuum packed. These usually just require 2 minutes in the microwave, or can even be eaten out of the package, cold – just watch out for the sodium content!)

1 medium zucchini squash

1 red bell pepper

2 C spinach, raw

1 small onion (about 1 C chopped)

2 C mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves garlic

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

dash salt (depending on how much salt you prefer)

dash cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp butter (or Smart Balance or other butter alternative)

1.5 Tbsp olive oil

I added yellow squash this time!

I added yellow squash this time!

Directions:

1. Cook quinoa according to instructions on box (*note: you may choose to replace the water with low-sodium vegetable broth, which also tastes really good! If you do this, you do not need to add the 1 Tbsp butter – this is used to enhance the flavor when the quinoa is cooked with water)

2. Warm olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat.

3. Chop onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and mince garlic. Add onion to saucepan and cook for 2 minutes. Add bell pepper, mushrooms and spices (black pepper, salt, cayenne and garlic powder) and cook another 8-10 minutes. Add garlic.

4. Microwave lentils in microwave-safe bowl according to directions -usually about 2-4 minutes. (*note if you are soaking your own lentils you can omit this step).

5. Add spinach and sauté  until wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Add cooked quinoa and lentils to saucepan and cook another 2-3 minutes. Serve hot (or chill in the refrigerator and serve cold!)

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The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving

Calories 320, Fat 8 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 51 g, Fiber 12 g, Protein 13 g, Calcium 42, Sodium 70 mg

me leftover lunch - served cold with feta!

my leftover lunch – served cold with feta!