Four Steps to a #REALMEAL (plus Salmon Veggie Pasta recipe, oh my!)

realmeal

As a part of the Spring Fling Challenge, many in the Lean.Green.Kitchen community have been making an effort to enjoy one #realmeal each day. For some, this is just a part of their every day lifestyle and has been a chance to show off their daily work, while others have struggled with pulling something together each day. In today’s post I am reaching out to those struggling with my four step guide to #realmeal success. Hopefully it will provide a little structure, which always helps when people are making changes to their daily routine. And to show off the structure, we’ll use the very delicious example of a Salmon Veggie Pasta recipe. Sounds good to me!

FOUR STEPS TO A #REALMEAL

Step 1. Planning

The number one thing that has helped me put #realmeals on the table night after night has been a weekly meal plan. I wrote all about it on this post: Plan Your Meals. Each weekend I write out the days of the upcoming week and look at the calendar to see what the evenings have in store. Then I think about what I have in the refrigerator that I need to use and what fruits and veggies I’ve seen at the farmers market (or in my farm box) and with all this information I come up with meals that I can handle on each of the nights.

There are often nights with very little time between activities and dinner, so I plan crock pot meals, breakfast for dinner and make ahead meals if necessary. I love using Pinterest for meal inspiration, and sometimes will just type ingredients right into Google if I can’t think of anything. We also like routines, so our family pretty consistently has Taco Night on Tuesdays and Pizza Night on Fridays. I try to cook chicken, salmon and beef once each week and we usually have leftovers from one of those to make into something new another night. My daughter eats very little meat, so we usually have nutrient-rich side dishes, though sometimes I just open a can of beans to fill up her plate (she loves beans!)

Step 2. Prepping

Having a meal plan is great but means nothing if you don’t follow through. The real commitment comes when you buy the food necessary for the meal plan. This is what seals the deal for me. If I have the food in the house, then we are a go. I shop at the farmers market on Sunday and the grocery store on Monday for the week. Then it is all about the prep work. This is what allows us to eat before eight-o-clock at night. Each day I am looking at the meal plan to see if there are things I can do to make the next few nights meals go faster. This often includes taking meat out of the freezer, placing not so ripe avocados into a brown bag for quicker ripening, and making dressings, marinades and sauces.

It is VERY VERY VERY helpful if you read the instructions of any new recipes you are making to get a sense of the timeline needed to put it together. There is nothing worse than coming to the end of making something only to realize the last line says, “serve over rice” and you haven’t started any rice. Not that this has ever happened to me. Twice.

I know of many people who successfully prep lots of food on the weekend, including veggie chopping, hard boiling eggs, cooking grains, and even roasting/baking meats and making casseroles. I encourage people who are struggling with meal prep to try this option. If I worked outside my home I think this would be a must do, but I have the luxury of doing daily meal prep while I’m making my lunch throughout the week. However you choose to implement it, the more you can prep, the easier getting your #realmeals to the table will be!

Step 3. Preparing

Some of us love to cook, so preparing meals is not a mental hassle, but that’s not the case for everyone. I encourage you to look at preparing your meals as an adventure or a gift depending on what gets you excited. Embrace your inner scientist and follow recipes or embrace your inner artist and follow your intuition while you cook. If you have other people around, create opportunities for them to help – make a list of mini tasks that will get the job done quicker and dish them out. If you go into an evening with the plan and the prep done, making the actual meal is very do-able. Turn on some music and work it!

Step 4. Presenting

If you have planned, prepped and prepared your #realmeal you may find yourself feeling a real sense of accomplishment, and rightfully so. I encourage you to celebrate your efforts by putting a final thought into how you are presenting the food. This starts with clearing off the dining room table and sitting at it to enjoy your meal. Making beautiful food only to go eat it on a plastic plate while watching television is depressing to me. Go enjoy some conversation or have a quiet moment if you are eating alone. Pour yourself a tall glass of water, use a napkin in your lap and enjoy your food.

In the culinary world we use the term, “plate your food” to describe the process of presentation. Think about mixing the colors, building height, adding toppers to make you and your meal guests feel like they are receiving something special. Because they are.

 

Here is a quick and easy recipe we can use as an example:

photo 1

Salmon with Spring Veggie Pasta

Planning: Create grocery list to include ingredients.

  • Frozen Wild Salmon
  • Whole Wheat Pasta Noodles
  • Parm Cheese Block
  • Spring Peas
  • Spring Onion
  • Spinach
  • Lemon
  • Butter, Olive Oil (evoo), Avocado Oil
  • Savory Seasoning Mix, Dried Dill, Garlic Powder, Salt and Pepper

Prepping:

  • Purchase ingredients.
  • Place salmon in the refrigerator to thaw.
  • Shell the peas.
  • Grate the Parm.

Preparing:

  • Season the salmon with savory seasoning blend, dill, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Drizzle with avocado oil (or evoo or butter). Broil under lo-broil for 10 minutes.
  • Boil noodles as directed.
  • Dice spring onion and sauté in large sauté pan with avocado oil, butter, or evoo. When softened, add in spinach, peas and a little dried dill and sauté some more.
  • Take sauté pan off heat and add cooked noodles. Toss with zest from the lemon, salt and pepper to taste and grated Parm cheese. Add a little pat of butter or splash of avocado oil or evoo to add flavor and make the pasta less sticky.

Presenting:

  • Place pasta into a serving dish and top with broiled salmon (chunk it up with a fork). Top with a little more Parm cheese, a squeeze of juice from the lemon and fresh dill if you are really fancy. Serve with other seasonal nutrient-rich side dishes and/or a hunk of yummy bread to help slurp it up!

 

Here’s what it looked like for lunch for leftovers:

photo 4

Is this helpful? What’s the hardest part of getting #realmeals onto your table each night?

Spring Fling Challenge Begins!

lists with quote

Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly starts off with a quote from a Theodore Roosevelt speech from 1910. When I first browsed the book and read these lines, I admit to tearing up, because it hit so close to my heart. It is exactly what I am doing, day after day and here it was being celebrated and given the powerful phrase “daring greatly.” This is what the Spring Fling (for all the details on the Spring Fling, read this post) is all about, so by participating you now can tell yourself and others, “I am DARING GREATLY.”

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

For those of us flinging ourselves into this challenge, we will become the doers of deeds. We are consciously choosing to value ourselves – body and mind – and take actions that support this value. When you think about it, it could truly change the world, and certainly our own personal world.

By completing this challenge together, we can use each other as inspiration, as accountability partners, as cheerleaders and as soothers when it is all just too overwhelming. Anyone can do this challenge, though we all need to tailor it to fit our needs and our daily life. Each of us are wary of different parts of the challenge and excited for other parts. Together we can provide support for the rough spots and provide a safe place for both big time bragging and ideas for turning around missteps. So, yes, I really do want to see a picture of that bathroom cabinet after you purge and organize it. I do wish to hear all about your first yoga class in five years. I do wish to drool over the picture of pasta sauce you made from scratch and the table set for the family to all eat together screen-free. Please share!

Here’s how we can connect on social media:

Facebook: Be sure to “like” Lean.Green.Kitchen at www.facebook.com/leangreenkitchen. With Facebook only showing about 10% of my “fans” my posts in your news feeds, you may need to come over to the Lean.Green.Kitchen FB page to see all the action. If you “like,” comment or share Lean.Green.Kitchen posts you will see more Lean.Green.Kitchen stuff in your news feed. That’s just how the algorithm works.

Twitter: Be sure to follow Lean.Green.Kitchen at @eatrealgoodfood. I will use the following hashtags and so can you: #lgkspringfling #realmeal #cleanup #selfcare

Instagram: Be sure to follow Lean.Green.Kitchen at @jennkd. I will use the following hashtags and so can you: #lgkspringfling #realmeal #cleanup #selfcare

Beyond social media sharing, I highly recommend you find a friend, or better yet a group of friends to rally together with this challenge. I love doing things like this with friends so we can bond over the experience. Think of a few people you would enjoy sharing this with and show your enthusiasm for the challenge. Send them these links, bug them on Facebook, send them a text, whatever works for you. Buddies just make everything more fun.

Print your Challenge Log:

All Lean.Green.Kitchen community members who are subscribed to my email list receive a printable Challenge Log that you can print out and complete each day. The subscription box is at the end of this post if you’d like a Challenge Log. (It says “SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG” in big letters down there, you can’t miss it!)

I believe the rewards for this challenge will be many for those who participate. But in addition, I am offering a small lovely prize for the first 100 people (in the United States) who send me their completed log at the end of the challenge. It’s always fun to receive a little reward for successfully committing to something for a month, so why not!

Comment away! Questions? First day successes? First day jitters? Where are you at?

Read all about the Spring Fling Challenge HERE.

lists

Lean.Green.Kitchen’s Spring Fling Challenge

  Spring Fling Challenge

Now this is going to be fun! Stay with me while I try to explain it. Beginning April 21st, the Lean.Green.Kitchen will be “hosting” our first reader challenge… The Spring Fling Challenge! We are going to use the boost of energy that comes each spring to “fling” ourselves into living our best life!

Here’s the challenge, should you choose to accept it!

Each day, for 30 days (April 21st – May 20th) you will attempt to complete the following three tasks:

1. Eat a meal of real food made by you (or your family). Better yet, enjoy the real meal sitting at a table. You can choose between breakfast, lunch or dinner and it can be as fancy or as simple as works for you. No processed food or take out food counts. You can determine your definition of processed food. Here are some Beginner Steps to Real Food if you need them. Some people use the 5 ingredient or less rule while others read labels to make sure the ingredients are acceptable to them. I’ll leave that to you to decide, but the meal must be a conscious effort to eat foods from nature, not from laboratories. #realmeal

2. Complete one mini clean-up/clean-out project that will simplify and enhance your daily life. If it is a biggish project, you are encouraged to “chunk” it up and complete it over several days. For me, I’ve been dabbling in the idea of minimalism and simplifying my surroundings, but often get to the end of the day and realize I didn’t make any efforts to move my household in line with these newly developing beliefs. I know of others who wish to do some deep spring cleaning but haven’t quite started yet. This challenge makes it happen. #cleanup

3. Enjoy a self-care moment each day. This can be as simple as going outside and standing still while mindfully breathing or it can be trying that new fitness class you keep putting off. In fact, I have tons of suggestions for this one, because I love making self-care moments and only accomplish them when I plan ahead of time. *Turning off your screens (and phone) early in the evening. *Placing cucumber slices over your eyes while resting for ten minutes on the couch. *Inviting a positive friend over for tea. *Gardening. *Taking a stroll with a loved one. *Going to bed early. *Making something crafty. *Listening to new music. I could really go on and on. But you get to make your own list of options for what sounds like self-care to you. #selfcare

Logging Your Efforts: All Lean.Green.Kitchen community members who are subscribed to my email list will receive a printable Challenge Log that you can print out and complete each day. The subscription box is at the end of this post if you’d like a Challenge Log. (It says “SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG” in big letters down there, you can’t miss it!)

I believe the rewards for this challenge will be many for those who participate. But in addition, I am offering a small lovely prize for the first 100 people (in the United States) who send me their completed log at the end of the challenge. It’s always fun to receive a little reward for successfully committing to something for a month, so why not!

To make this a fun, interactive challenge, I will be posting my meals and activities each day all over social media. I’ll post on Facebook, put up pics on Instagram, and tweet on Twitter. For those of you who don’t do social media, I’ll also post in the comments section of this blog post as well. This is all well and good, but the real fun happens if you all share and inspire too! We can hold each other accountable, steal ideas, lament our failures and salivate over foodie pics together.

Here’s how we can connect on social media:

Facebook: Be sure to “like” Lean.Green.Kitchen at www.facebook.com/leangreenkitchen. With Facebook only showing about 10% of my “fans” my posts in your news feeds, you may need to come over to the Lean.Green.Kitchen FB page to see all the action. If you “like,” comment or share Lean.Green.Kitchen posts you will see more Lean.Green.Kitchen stuff in your newsfeed. That’s just how the algorithm works. :)

Twitter: Be sure to follow Lean.Green.Kitchen at @eatrealgoodfood. I will use the following hashtags and so can you: #lgkspringfling #realmeal #cleanup #selfcare

Instagram: Be sure to follow Lean.Green.Kitchen at @jennkd. I will use the following hashtags and so can you: #lgkspringfling #realmeal #cleanup #selfcare

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Pre-Challenge: To get ready, between now and April 21st your Pre-Challenge is to brainstorm possible options for your #realmeal, #cleanup and #selfcare. I recommend printing out your Challenge Log and using the backs of the pages for creating lists of what you’d like to accomplished.

I wavered between calling this a Spring Fling and a Spring Revolution, but in the end I went with “fling” because it represents a short period of enjoyment. This challenge is meant to make you feel better in your body, in your daily life and in the world. Maybe we will become a REVOLUTION, but for now, FLING yourself into make this spring one to remember. Join us! Are you in?

Spring Fling Challenge

Recovery Smoothie, anyone?

recovery smoothie

I can’t even believe it… it has been one year since the Lean.Green.Kitchen blog launched. I remember the excitement, the gripping fear, the hopefulness all whirling around as I clicked “Publish” for the first time. It was awesome. I eased into the first post with a celebratory Pom Orange Spritzer recipe and smiled most of the day.

Now here we are a year later and I am much higher (though nowhere near the top) on the blogging learning curve. I have given this blog over 1,000 hours of my time – blood, sweat and tears included. My strengths and weaknesses are bared out for all to see on this site, for I have been authentic through the entire process.

So a celebratory spritzer sounds good right about now, but it’s not an authentic representation of where this blog is today. We are in the thick of it. Much work has been done and much more work is before us. It’s time for a recovery smoothie. Something to replenish nutrients lost through good old-fashioned work, and to power us up for all that remains ahead of us.

Recovery Smoothie

Recipe: Recovery Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup plain kefir or yogurt (dairy or non dairy both work)
  • 2/3 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 T aloe vera juice (optional)
  • 1 handful spinach (optional)
  • 25 drops liquid B complex (optional)
  • 1 t green powder (optional, I use Vitamineral Green)

Recovery Smoothie Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Blend together until smooth. Adjust the thickness to your personal taste by using more or less coconut water.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 1 (very thirsty person) or 2 (somewhat thirsty people)

I drink this smoothie 5 or 6 days a week, especially after hot yoga classes, stressful situations, and working in the yard. It also makes a wonderful breakfast that powers me through without hunger until lunch and is a beautiful food for anyone fighting off or recovering from illness. With probiotics, great fats, electrolytes and super foods, this smoothie is a healthy gift you can give yourself today. And that’s reason to truly celebrate!

Happy Blogoversary to the Lean.Green.Kitchen community. Let’s keep this up, shall we?

Recovery Smoothie

 

Anyone remember this bench from the first blog post?

pom spritzer  Here it is! The Pom Spritzer recipe is just a click away.

Mexican Caesar Salad

Mexican Caesar Salad

It is April and about time to roll back the soups and dial in the salads! Here is our first salad recipe of 2014 and it is a beautiful colorful one that will serve you well all spring and summer. This Mexican Caesar Salad is a twist on the original Caesar Salad, with bright colors and flavors – such as diced red, yellow and orange bell peppers, crumbled blue corn chips, and a green cilantro dressing. To pile on the nutrients, the dressing uses pro-biotic-packed kefir and pumpkin seeds for the creamy base. Plus romaine lettuce is a powerhouse all on its own!

Enjoy!

Mexican Caesar Salad

Recipe: Mexican Caesar Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 head of romaine, chopped in bite sized pieces
  • 1 or 2 bell peppers (a variety of red, orange or yellow), small dice
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 cup blue corn chips, crumbled
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled (optional)
  • fresh ground pepper (for topping)
  • minced cilantro (for topping)
  • a few blue corn chips crumbled (for topping)

For Cilantro-Kefir dressing (makes a little more than you will need):

  • 1/2 small can of diced mild chiles
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (raw or roasted pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cloves garlic (roasted for a smoother flavor)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • 3 T Cotija cheese
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro (I used leaves and stems)
  • 1 cup plain, unsweetened kefir (can sub with mayo if you must)
  • water to thin if needed

Instructions

  1. Toss all salad ingredients together.
  2. For the dressing, blend all ingredients except the cilantro and kefir until smooth. Then add cilantro and kefir and blend again until smooth. Taste and add salt for more sparkle and water for thinning if necessary.
  3. Toss salad with dressing. Crank a little fresh ground black pepper over the salad and sprinkle a little minced cilantro and blue corn chip crumbles over the top for presentation points.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

 

Okay, I can’t help it. I’ve got to share this beautiful colorful fruit salad too. It’s so easy and makes a great addition to any fiesta!

Fruit Salad with Lime & Mint

 Recipe: Fruit Salad with Lime & Mint

Ingredients

  • 2 mangoes, cubed
  • 1 basket strawberries, sliced
  • 2 oranges, cubed
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 5 mint leaves, chopped fine

Instructions

  1. Toss the cut fruit with the lime juice and mint and serve. Tastes even better if you let it hang out together in the refrigerator for a few hours prior to serving.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

Looking for more salad ideas? Here are a few:

Confetti Pasta Salad with text  Confetti Pasta Salad

Pearl Couscous  Spring Pearl Couscous

Beet Orange Salad  Beet Orange Stack-Ups

Simplest Salad  The Simplest Salad