Meal Prep Sunday – Chicken Noodle Soup

Who doesn’t love chicken noodle soup? It is perfect on those chilly days especially when you are feeling a cold coming on. After being around sick coughing children all day, I am always feeling a little less than 100%. So when I asked my husband what I should make us for lunch this week, he said chicken noodle soup. Of course, I could do this, and I could even use my Instant Pot again!

Don’t get me wrong, I liked the idea, but I felt like it needed more. It needed more vegetables. We were missing a huge opportunity to get more veggies in! I scoured the internet for a recipe that included the extra veggies, but I couldn’t find one for my instant pot. So I used this recipe from The Foodie and the Fix to get me started and then subbed in

I followed her directions, but when I added the pasta at the end, I also added green beans, zucchini, and tomatoes. I decided to add these ad the end because I didn’t want them to get too soggy and totally fall apart. I noticed that I am not getting as much vegetables everyday as I should be. I am not one to snack on veggies except for carrots, so I have been trying to incorporate them more into my lunches. This was an easy addition to give us more veggies while still enjoying our soup! You could totally add any veggie you wanted in this soup! I meant to add spinach, but I forgot!

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I love using my Instant Pot for recipes like this because I can saute right in the pot! Once I was done sauteing the carrots, green onion, celery, and garlic, I added the chicken and broth. I set my Instant Pot to soup for 15 minutes and let it go! It is awesome being able to meal prep soup, or really anything, in such a short amount of time. I am not the best planner, and generally run out of time. This has saved me!

So, if you are looking for an easy, quick, and healthy chicken noodle soup, I hope this helps! It is an easy dinner and a hearty lunch as the weather gets colder!

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Here’s to being happy & fit,
Victoria

 

Veggie Loaded Chicken Noodle Soup
Instant Pot Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 4 celery rods, diced
  • 1 bunch of green onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, cut in half circles
  • 2 cups green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes, can be fresh or canned
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 2-3 cups of whole wheat egg noodles (you could use any noodle you prefer!)
  • 6 cups chicken broth, low sodium is best
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp herbs d’provence

Instructions:

  1. Turn on Instant Pot to saute function. Saute onions, celery, and carrots seasoned with salt and pepper. After a few minutes add garlic and cook for another minute.
  2. Add broth and chicken, and some salt and pepper, to the Instant Pot. Turn to Soup and set for 15 minutes.
  3. When the Instant Pot is done, turn off and do a quick release. Make sure you are out of the way so you do not get hurt by the steam.
  4. Remove the chicken and place on a cutting board.
  5. Add pasta, tomatoes, green beans, spinach, and zucchini to the instant pot. Mix in with the soup. Turn on the Instant Pot to Soup again, and set your Instant Pot to zero minutes. This will build the pressure in the pot, but not over cook your noodles or vegetables.
  6. Shred the chicken while you wait for the Instant Pot to beep.
  7. When the Instant Pot is done, again turn off and do a quick release.
  8. Then add your chicken and herbs. Stir around and smell that delicious soup!

*If you are using a slow cooker, add all ingredients and set to low and cook for 6-8 hours. Chicken will shred easily when done.
*If you are cooking in a stock pot, add all ingredients and cook for about 20-30 minutes covered after bringing to a boil then set to simmer.

21 Day Fix Containers: 1.5 green, 1.5 red, 1 yellow for 2 cups

 

 

Meal Prep Monday Edition

It happens to all of us. We have the best intentions for our weekend, we will be the most productive and stay on top of our list and goals. Then the couch calls, or something pops up, and the next thing you know it is Sunday evening. You haven’t folded your laundry, you haven’t gone grocery shopping, and you definitely have not meal prepped.

This was me. Waking up this morning and realizing this stressed me out! What will I eat for lunch? What’s for dinner? What have I done?!

So, logically I went grocery shopping and picked out an easy recipe that I could throw together. My husband mentioned buffalo chicken, and I was sold. I love buffalo chicken…a lot. I began to look around on Pinterest for some inspiration. The Instant Pot saved me because I was able to cook three chicken breasts in 20 minutes and be able to shred them right away.

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I then made the Hidden Valley Greek Yogurt Dressing with low fat yogurt and low fat milk. I followed the directions right on the package. I let that set in the fridge for about 30 minutes. When I took it out, I added about a cup of Franks Red Hot Buffalo Sauce to the ranch. After I shredded the chicken, I put it in a container so we can put how much sauce we want in our serving of chicken. I portioned some out and put about 1.5 tablespoons of sauce for 1 cup of chicken.

In the morning, I will make my wrap with a spinach wrap, shredded carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, and the chicken. You could create a buffalo chicken bowl, sandwich, eat it with celery or bell pepper sticks,  on crackers, or just by itself! This is so versatile, easy, and delicious.

I had to taste the chicken before I put it away, and it tastes amazing! I love the buffalo sauce with the ranch. It is two of the best sauces put together. I am so excited to eat lunch this week.


Simple Buffalo Ranch Chicken

  1. Cook chicken breasts and shred. If you are using an Instant Pot, put chicken into the Instant Pot with one half to one cup of water, salt and pepper. Put on high for 20 minutes. Shred after quick release.
  2. Mix Hidden Valley Greek Yogurt dressing as stated on the package. Mix with 3 tablespoons of milk and one and one third cups of milk. Let set in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Mix in one cup (more or less depending on taste) of Franks Red Hot Buffalo Sauce. Stir together.
  4. Serve with chicken!

Hope you enjoy!
Here’s to being happy & fit,
Victoria

 

 

Meal Prep Sunday: Soup Season

Hey all! It is getting colder here in the Chicago land area, and that means that it is time for warm lunches! Most of my lunches I need to microwave, but now I want something that will really warm me up. I am always always cold! Another reason I want soup is I have fallen victim to fall cold season. As a teacher, with a horrible immune system, I am always waiting for cold season to pounce. These past two weeks have been a combination of allergies and a cold making it hard to breathe. My workouts have not been…well anything, but my meals have been okay. I am hoping some yummy, warm soup will help me get back to close to 100%.

I wanted to use my Instant Pot again to get more comfortable with it. It is truly amazing how quick this thing is! This soup, from start to finish was about 30 minutes and consisted of just using the Instant Pot, cutting board, knife, & peeler. Also, the ingredients were easy! All you need is turkey or pork sausage (I opted for lean turkey sausage), kale, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and an onion. I had the rest of the ingredients in my pantry. I love the fact that I could brown the sausage in the Instant Pot and then just add the rest of the ingredients. It has made meal prepping easier, which is always an awesome thing.

I am excited to try this soup tomorrow from Wholesomelicious and start soup season! I was able to portion out 8 about 1.5 cup servings for lunches. I also have baby carrots packed in baggies ready to grab and go. Something I struggle with is wasting time in the morning portioning out my snacks. I realized an easy fix is to portion out my carrots on Sunday, and then all I have to do is cut an apple in the morning. I have everything on one shelf, so I can make it as easy as possible on myself in the morning when I’m not functioning completely. Meal prepping gets easier, and you slowly get better at it. I am still figuring it out and making improvements.

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I can’t wait to try more soups and other creations in my Instant Pot! I have seen some yummy recipes full of veggies and super foods. Do you have any favorite Instant Pot recipes I should try?

Here’s to being happy & fit,
Victoria

Meal Prep Sunday: Double Edition

If you didn’t already know, I am a fifth grade teacher. This upcoming week happens to be parent-teacher conferences! This means that I am at school from when I get there in the morning (normally 7:30) to 8pm at night. Instead of giving myself the chance to order something unhealthy, I decided to prep lunch and dinner this week. This will also give my husband some dinners while I am gone so he doesn’t get tempted to order something either!

I had a craving for white chicken chili. I am not sure why especially since I have never had it before, but whenever I see it, white chili looks so good! I searched Pinterest and found this recipe that looked delicious from Averie Cooks. I also liked it because it gave me a chance to bust out my Le Creuset, the wedding gift that I really wanted, but seldom use. Luckily, it is beginning to be soup season, so I will be changing that! Back to the chili…I followed the recipe exactly, except for the part where I started to burn the onions because I was too busy shredded chicken…so don’t do that! This recipe was pretty simple once you read the ingredient list a few times, at first it seems pretty long, but a lot of it is spices. From the taste I took, I think I’ll be making this again! It was quick too, which is a huge bonus.

 

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My husband loves pot roast slow cooker meals with potatoes and carrots. When we saw it was going to be a cold week, we knew chili and pot roast were perfect meals! My husband got me an Instant Pot for my birthday (yay!), and I wanted to use it this weekend. So back to Pinterest I went to find a recipe for the Instant Pot. I decided to go with a recipe from Favorite Family Recipes. It was easy and because it was my first time using the Instant Pot, that was perfect! Being able to sear the meat in the Instant Pot is a game changer. I really hated having to sear the meat in a pan before putting in the slow cooker. I always thought that a slow cooker meal should be super easy, and this definitely fit the bill! From start to finish, this meal only took 2 hours and OH MY that first taste was amazing. We will definitely be making this again.

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Meal prep doesn’t have to be crazy! It doesn’t have to last all day. If it did, I definitely would not do it! Both of these meals will be filling, delicious, and easy to heat up at school. I will be steaming some broccoli and bringing a salad to get more veggies in as well. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail, and I was not going to let this busy week get the best of me!

What is your plan for meals this week? What are your go to Instant Pot recipes?

Here’s to being happy & fit,
Victoria

 

 

Meal Prep Sunday – Burrito Bowls

I love the weekends. I generally get to relax, move at a slower pace, and reconnect with myself and my family and friends. I never really prepared for the week ahead, and I think that only created more chaos and problems.

When I started my journey to be the best me, I realized that I had to really think about what I am eating for lunch throughout the week and our dinners. I could no longer just throw something together the morning of and have it be healthy, nutritious, and most importantly easy. To help solve my problem, I slowly started to get into meal prepping.

Now, I am not claiming to be perfect at this in the slightest. Last weekend we were at Tough Mudder and by the time we got home, I had no energy to grocery shop, let alone meal prep. I always have ingredients on hand for a quick salad with chicken, carrots, tomatoes, and black beans, so I just relied on that for lunch.

I try my best to think ahead for most dinners during the week. We tend to keep fish, shrimp, turkey burgers, and chicken in the freezer for protein options. We also have a lot of frozen vegetables. Having some healthy options in the freezer makes it easy when you need a quick, simple dinner.

When it comes to lunches, I find one recipe and make a big batch. I make enough for 5 lunches for me, and when my husband wants what I am cooking, I made 4-5 servings for him! I don’t mind eating the same thing everyday. On Sunday I will prep my lunch and then put it in containers so it is an easy grab and go in the mornings. It makes it foolproof and simple to stay on track!

This week I am making burrito bowls for my husband and I! He wants beef, and I am opting for chicken. I am loading these bowls with brown rice, black beans, peppers, broccoli, corn, and salsa.

I got my inspiration for this recipe from http://www.spendwithpennies.com/fajita-meal-prep-bowls/ The seasoning is delicious! I strayed a little bit to add more veggies, but for the most part I followed the recipe above! I made it more of a burrito bowl instead of fajita bowls (I don’t like peppers, but my husband does). You can really take this recipe and change it for your taste preference. You could add more veggies, use tofu, sub out quinoa instead of rice…the possibilities are endless!

Ingredients:
3 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
2 lbs chicken breast or steak
2 -4 bell peppers, any color
1 onion
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup salsa (any kind)
2 ½ cups of corn
2 ½ cups of broccoli
1 can black beans

Seasonings:
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon seasoning salt

Directions:

  1. Combine olive oil and all seasonings into a medium bowl.
  2. Cut your protein into 1” pieces and then toss in the olive oil and seasonings.
  3. Cook protein on medium heat until done (remember chicken needs to cook until it has reached 165 degrees). While the protein is cooking, cut onion and bell peppers.
  4. Once the protein is finished cooking, remove from pan and place to the side
  5. With the leftover olive oil and seasoning that is in the pan, cook onions and peppers, coating with the seasoning, until tender. Once the onions and peppers are done, put into a bowl and place to the side
  6. Steam corn and broccoli (it is easy to use frozen corn and broccoli in the steamer bags). Cook rice according to package instructions.
  7. Once all ingredients are cooked, combine and enjoy!


Serving Options:

  • ½- 1 cup rice
  • ¼- ½ cup black beans
  • ¾-1 cup protein
  • 1 cup + veggies (broccoli, peppers, onions, corn)
  • Salsa depending on preference! 

For those using 21 Day Fix containers:
You can really customize to your tastes! This is just what I did.

  • 1 yellow container of rice
  • 1 red container of protein
  • split 1 green container between corn and broccoli and/or split 1 green between peppers and onion
  • 1 yellow (or less) of black beans (I used about ¼ cup of black beans so I wouldn’t use all my yellows!)
  • Split salsa between servings (I used about 2 tablespoons)

 

My Go To for Snack Attack

I try to mix things up when I go grocery shopping, but the truth is that I am a creature of habit. I don’t mind eating the same thing for lunch everyday during the week. I don’t mind eating the same snacks.

Here are my 5 go to snacks to help me focus and achieve my goals:

  1. Baby Carrots – Ever since I was young, I remember loving carrots. These are easy to put into a bag or Tupperware and take on the go. They are also a snack that requires no prep time, take out a bowl, dump, and enjoy! Carrots also satisfy that need for a crunch instead of reaching for chips.
  2. Strawberries – Craving something sweet? Strawberries hit the spot for me. When I was a kid I remember pouring sugar on strawberries, and my mom constantly reminding us that they are naturally sweet. I get that now! Strawberries are easy to take on the go as well.
  3. Apple Pie Lara Bars – Oh my, these bars are so delicious! No childhood story about this snack! I recently discovered Lara Bars on my quest to find foods without an ingredients list a half mile long. Lara Bars are made with about 6 ingredients or less…and bonus, it’s all stuff you can recognize and pronounce! My favorite, Apple Pie, is made of dates, walnuts, apples, raisins, almonds, and cinnamon.
  4. Lightly Salted Almonds – I know that too much salt is bad, but man there is something about just a tough of salt on some almonds. Yum! Nuts are healthy fats, like avocado, but that means moderation. I normally pack about 10-15 almonds with me when I am on the go. If you were to look in my purse I will always have almonds and most likely a Lara Bar too.
  5. Honey Crisp Apples & Peanut Butter – Okay, you can eat any type of apples, I just happen to love Honey Crisp! When they go out of season and disappear from the store, I will of course eat other varieties! I am a HUGE fan of peanut butter, again a healthy fat, so this means moderation. There is something about the classic combo of apples and peanut butter. You can easily swap the peanut butter for another nut butter or sunflower seed butter to accommodate any dietary restrictions.

Stocking up on healthy snack options is a great place to start! It is easy to get that snack attack when you are bored or stressed. Try to add some healthy snacks to the mix to help you achieve your goals!

What are your favorite go to snacks?