“This week my energy is at an all time low. The heat is getting to me, the summer is almost gone, and miscellaneous appointments and errands to run just never seem to end. I have felt a little overwhelmed by it all.”

“I never seem to have enough time in the day to get everything done that I want to, and dishes are piling up, lord knows I’m the only one who notices. I seem to be running in this vicious circle of never ending giving. Where does eating come into that?”


A lot of us feel this way on the regular, isn’t that right? So why add complexity of meal prep to the equation? This week, I wanted to give you all some insight on how some key items in your pantry, garden, and fridge can be the key to a farrago meal, that turns out even better than you imagined it would.

  

Just like last week, I had few fresh garden items, as well as ones gifted to me by some gracious clients who always seem to know the way to this girls heart (it’s good food, by the way. That and workout clothes 😉 hehe) Fresh squash was on the menu, and I had onions and tomatoes from the garden to use up, and fast. Parsley was running near it’s end, so I figured why not just top it off? And fresh red pepper flakes always make things taste better (if you like a small kick).

If you’re really not feeling like cooking anything longer than a few minutes, this dish is definitely for you. I often find that clients get bored of the same old thing, so me being the creature of habit that I am was hard pressed to find a way to make this dish simple, yet different than my usual. And I realized as I walked through Costco last night, I hadn’t ever used chicken sausage before! And the lovely thing is, it’s already pre-cooked, ready to go! Why didn’t anyone tell me this before? Maybe they did, and I just didn’t listen 😛 But looking on the ingredients list, I was content with what I saw, and it’s going in my belly as I write to all of you.

I also didn’t feel like making sides this week, as I’m sure a lot of you feel like this sometimes. Complex prep is for the birds! Make it simple. I found this gem at Costco a few months ago, and have fallen in love with it. I like to throw it together as a snack every so often, and this week was that week! So simple, and tastes REAL good. It’s got the crunchy and the sweet that I love so so much (hey I’m a sugar loving human too), but a much better health footprint than the latter, which would have been oreos….don’t judge.

Not sure what to do for some healthy on the go snacks?? Here are some ideas. Be prepared to scroll….

Fruit

 

  • Grapes – (especially good frozen!) (53 calories in 80 g)
  • Cantaloupe – (60 calories in 177 g)
  • Watermelon – (46 calories in 1 cup)
  • Apples – (116 calories in 1 large apple, 223 g)
  • Bananas – (105 calories in 1 medium banana, 7 -8 inches long)
  • Oranges – (70 calories in a 3″ diameter orange)
  • Strawberries – (50 calories in 1 cup)
  • Raspberries – (try them covered in Greek yogurt and frozen!) (64 calories in 1 cup)
  • Mangoes – (145 calories in 1 fruit; 207 g)
  • Grapefruit – (52 calories in 1/2 fruit; 4″ diameter)
  • Honeydew Melon – (50 calories in 134 g)
  • Peaches – (38 calories in 1 medium peach; 2.5″ diameter)
  • Nectarines – (62 calories in 1 medium nectarine; 2.5″ diameter)
  • Blueberries – (83 calories in 1cup)
  • Plums – (20 calories in 1 fruit; 2″ diameter)
  • Dried Plums (prunes) – (200 calories in 1/2 cup)
  • Pineapple – (82 calories in 1 cup – chunks)
  • Pears – (96 calories in 1 medium pear)
  • Apricots – (1 whole small fruit – 17 calories)

Veggies

  • Baby Carrots – (30 calories in 85 grams)
  • Cucumbers – (8 calories in 1/2 cup, sliced)
  • Tomatoes – (16 calories in 1 small tomato, 2″ diameter)
  • Spinach (great for green smoothies)– (7 calories in 1 cup)
  • Kale – (33 calories in 1 cup, chopped)
  • Zucchini – (20 calories in 1 cup, chopped)
  • Green Beans – (44 calories in 1 cup)
  • Celery – (3 calories in a 4″ stalk)
  • Broccoli – (31 calories in 1 cup, chopped)
  • Cauliflower – (25 calories in 1 cup)
  • Asparagus – (27 calories in 1 cup)
  • Sugar Snap Peas – (52 calories in 1 cup)
  • Green Bell Pepper – (24 calories in 1 medium pepper)
  • Cherry Tomatoes – (20 calories in 5 cherry tomatoes)
  • Red Bell Pepper – (15 calories in 1 medium pepper)
  • Edamame – (120 calories in 1/2 cup)

Dips (because sometimes raw veggies are just… raw)

  • Lite Ranch – (60 calories in 2 tbsp)
  • Hummus – (54 calories in 2 tbsp)
  • Natural Peanut Butter (no sugar added) – (100 calories in 1 tbsp)
  • Almond Butter – (200 calories in 2 tbsp)

Snacks for the pantry

  • Almonds – (164 calories in1 ounce, about 24 almonds)
  • Cashews – (170 calories in 1/4 cup)
  • Walnuts – (210 calories in 1/4 cup)
  • Pecans – (100 calories in 10 pieces)
  • Pistachios – (163 calories in 47 nuts)
  • Peanuts – (166 calories in 1 ounce, 28 g)
  • Trail Mix – (150 calories in 1/4 cup)
  • Pumpkin Seeds – (56 calories in 1 tblsp)
  • Granola – (180 calories in 1/2 cup)
  • Whole Grain Bread – (85 calories in 1 slice)
  • Dates – (23 calories in 1 date)
  • Unsweetened Applesauce – (105 calories in 1 cup)
  • Unsweetened Raisins – (42 calories in 1 mini box; 1/2 oz)
  • Edamame – (188 calories in 1/2 cup)
  • Pretzels – (110 calories in 28 g)
  • Wheat Thins – (130 calories in 29 g)
  • Air-Popped Popcorn – (93 calories in 3 cups)
  • Turkey Jerky – (120 calories in 2 oz)
  • Bean Chips (chips made from black beans) (140 calories in 1 oz/10 chips)

Snacks to keep in your fridge

  • Cheese Sticks / String Cheese – (80 calories in one piece; 28 g)
  • Greek Yogurt (I personally prefer Fage brand) –(150 calories in 7 oz)
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs – (72 calories in 1 large hard-boiled egg)
  • Pickles – (8 calories in one 4″ pickle)
  • Cottage Cheese – (I dip wheat thins in mine!) (81 calories in 4 oz)
  • Bagged Salad – (15 calories in 3 ounces)
  • Tomato Juice – (41 calories in 1 cup)
  • Fruit-Infused Water
  • Fruit Smoothie

I’m always taking one or two (or four or five!) of these snacks to work; I used to put them in plastic baggies and recycle them when I was done. While it served its purpose, I was convinced there was a smarter, more ecological way. Luckily, so did the good people over at Blender Bottle!! Check out the Blender Bottle GoStak (click here).

If this dish doesn’t have you convinced that it’s easy, I dare you to try it. took me an hour to do everything (24 meals, 12 snack packages, 10 sides packaged and refrigerated). What do you have in your pantry that you aren’t sure of what to do with?

Another of Jen’s Concoctions

INGREDIENTS

Serves 12
  • 6 links of chicken sausage ½ onion, chopped
  • 1/2 package 10oz white mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cup chopped squash (3/4-inch dice)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 medium sized tomatoes diced
  • 2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup dried parsley (fresh is better)
  • Splash of bone broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 8- by 12-inch or 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Stir in the mushrooms, zucchini, garlic,, and cook until the vegetables are starting to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Cook rice until almost fully done. Rinse and set aside.
  4. Start the base of the pan with 1 1/2 cup of the rice. Top with the tomatoes and a little garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and ground pepper. Add in 1/2 of the vegetable mixture and cooked chicken sausage. Repeat again, with less rice, and no garlic.
  5. Bake until the liquid in the dish is bubbling, about 20 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle with any remaining parsley. Serve.

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