Meal Prep-Healthy Vegetable Soup

Do you ever have those Sundays where you just know that the coming week is going to be a hard one?  That was my Sunday.  I was just exhausted this past weekend and had little to no motivation to meal prep some fancy, new, time consuming meal that I’ve never made before….so…I opted for a classic.  I opted for simple.  I opted for comfort.  I opted for vegetable soup.

**On the plus side, what’s healthier than a big old bowl of vegetables??**

From my previous posts, you’d know that I am in the process of moving…well, getting ready to move.  I have been re-organizing, cleaning, clearing, trashing, donating, and trying to sell anything we could.  I’ll be moving to Washington in a couple of months, and my boyfriend and I decided that we only want to fill our two cars with as much as we can, and leave the rest.  We want a new start.  We want simple.  So we are saying no to a big moving truck and only keeping what we need/can fit.  I spent literally the entire weekend doing as much as I could and I actually did get quite a bit done.  But by the end of the day on Sunday, though, I really just wanted to cuddle up with a blanket and a yummy bowl of soup.

I think we can all agree that soup gives us a sense of comfort…am I right?

I didn’t want to make a heavy soup, and I wanted to skip out on meat this week, so I decided on classic vegetable.  You can really add anything and everything into your version of vegetable soup, but I am just here to share my version.

Also, crock pots are my saviors.

My local stores didn’t have every ingredient I wanted on sale this week, so I did use a few frozen veggies..which is fine..fresh or frozen are what I like to use.  I try and stay away from canned veggies if I can, but hey, use what you can.

Since I did get some of my vegetables frozen. that saved me a little time on prepping.  This was such a quick meal to prepare, the longest part is waiting for it to cook in the crock pot.  You can even make this soup stove top if you want, but I went with the crock pot because I wanted to let it simmer for a few hours.

I started out by cutting up my onion and celery stalks.  I wanted to add in some extra flavor by slightly carmelizing my onions before I put them in the crock pot.  I simmered them for a few minutes over the stove and then added in some minced garlic and my chopped celery.  I let that brew for a few minutes while I got my other ingredients ready to go.

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As soon as I saw my onions starting to slightly brown, I removed the pan from heat.

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I got my green beans, carrots, peas, and corn frozen, so no prepping there!  You can just throw those bad boys in your crock pop straight from the bag.

For the broth, I went with vegetable broth and a small can of chicken broth (just for a little added flavor).  You can do all vegetable, all chicken, whatever your heart desires.  I went with vegetable because it was the healthier option and the sodium content was quite a bit less than what it was in chicken broth.  (If you remove the chicken broth, this is a perfect vegetarian meal!)

I decided to thrown in some chick peas for protein since I was straying away from meat this week.  However, customize your version any way you’d like!  You can use kidney beans, ground beef, turkey, etc.

**It was at this moment I realized I would be needing 2 crock pots**

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As you can see, I added in some additional veggies that I had laying around the house.  I found some pre-diced (thanking my past self for cutting these a few weeks ago when I did) sweet potatoes from a meal prep I made a few weeks ago, so I threw those in my crock pot(s) along with 3 small russet potatoes (diced, of course), and some freshly cut parsley.  I also added in some spices before I left my soup to cook.  Those spices consisted of salt, pepper, chili powder, crushed red pepper, basil, italian seasoning, and a couple bay leaves.

And that’s it.  That’s all there is too it.  I wasn’t actually going for a spicy soup, but somehow I made it that way.  I mean, it wasn’t spicy spicy, but it definitely has a zing to it.  And not going to lie, it tastes freakin’ delicious.

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Recipe:

  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3.5 c. celery
  • 3 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 lbs. frozen peas
  • 1 lbs. frozen green beans
  • 1 lbs. frozen carrots
  • 2 lbs. frozen mixed green beans, peas, and corn
  • 6 c. sweet potatoes
  • 3 c. russet potatoes
  • 2 cans chick peas
  • 2 cans italian diced tomatoes
  • 3 48 oz. boxes vegetable broth
  • 14.5 oz. chicken broth
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Salt, pepper, basil, chili powder, crushed red pepper, italian seasoning, fresh parsley, to taste

-Heat vegetable oil in pan.  Once hot, add in diced onions and cook until transparent.  Once transparent, add in cut celery and minced garlic.  Simmer until onions start to brown.

-Add in peas, carrots, green beans, corn, chick peas, potatoes, and tomatoes (not drained) into crock pot.

-Once onion mixture is cooked, add into crock pot.

-Add broth into crock pot.

-Add spices.

-Let simmer 4-10 hours.

(I left mine to cook about 8 hours on low-medium heat)

ENJOY!

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Breakfast Prep-Overnight Oats//Fruit Salad

I’m just going to start off by saying that I am not a morning person.  I am that girl that chooses to sleep until the last second instead of waking up and doing my hair and/or makeup.  That also means I choose not to wake up early enough to prepare breakfast every morning.  So, instead, I found a savior breakfast.  Overnight oats.  You might think eating oatmeal every morning would get old, but you can create so many different variations that it truly doesn’t.  I’ve literally been eating overnight oatmeal for breakfast 5 days a week for a good three months.  Still love it.  Still tastes bomb every time.  Well, most times.  There’s been a few mixes I’ve made that haven’t been my favorite, but usually, they’re bomb.

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It’s so easy to make overnight oats, which is another reason I love doing it.  Personally, I don’t prep 5 days worth of oatmeal.  I have a weird feeling that the milk will start tasting funny or the fruit I put in will go bad if I let it sit for that long.  I don’t know, I know and have read of plenty people doing a weeks worth at a time, but for some reason, I just refuse.  I only make 2 jars at a time, one for myself and one for my boyfriend.  I just prep these every night for the following morning (since it takes less than 5 minutes to make, doing it at night it perfectly fine with me).  I always use Mason jars for my oatmeal.  I’m sure you could use any container you like, but c’mon, Mason jars are just cuter.

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Like I said, you can add anything you like inside of your oatmeal.  I usually just throw different kinds of fresh fruit inside, but I’ve gone ‘outside the box’ a few times.  My favorite is simply bananas, brown sugar, and strawberries.  My choices depend on what the cheapest fruit is that week (if you haven’t gotten the hint by now, frugality is my specialty).  I always keep my measurements the same for the oats and milk because I only prepare a servings worth.  For my toppings, I just use however much I feel like cutting up that night.

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I always put my dry ingredients in the jar first, so the oats, toppings, and sweetener (if I choose to use one).  I like doing dry ingredients first so I can eyeball if I need to add any extra milk.  I will always use 1/2 cup oats (I just use Quick Oats, but you can use Rolled or even Steel Cut–those just take extra time and I’m not about that life) and ~3/4 cup milk.  I only use almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, or any variation of those.  You can of course use regular milk, I just like using this type because it has way less calories and you can’t even really tell it’s not regular milk.  I’m not even a fan of almond/coconut/etc milk by itself, but I love it in my oats.  My absolute favorite type to use is the almond/coconut blend by Almond Breeze (shown above^^).  I am a die hard coconut fan and I love that I can always taste a hint of it in the oatmeal.

Once you add in your milk, shake everything up so you can make sure you have enough for your oats to soak in.

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A few of my favorite combinations for toppings:

  • Bananas, strawberries, brown sugar
  • Bananas, honey, powdered peanut butter
  • Bananas, mangoes, brown sugar
  • Bananas, cinnamon
  • Granny smith apples, brown sugar, cinnamon
  • Raspberries, blackberries, mangoes
  • Shredded coconut, bananas, vanilla

There’s truly endless possibilities of combinations you could create.  I will tell you this, though.  I tried pineapple once, (I LOVE pineapple) and it was NOT good.  I don’t know if it just didn’t mix well with the almond milk I used or the oats or what it was, but it was just not a good taste.  Personal opinion, of course, I just wanted to share my thoughts because I was so disappointed that I can’t use of of my favorite fruits.

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Besides the overnight oats, I always like keeping us stocked with fresh fruit to eat or snack on whenever.  Watermelon was FINALLY on sale this week so you better believe I snatched some up for a huge fruit salad I made to last us all week (I’m lying, it did not last all week).  I  used blackberries, watermelon, bananas, and mangoes for this salad, then just squirt some lime juice on top.  I didn’t pick the best watermelon this time around, but it wasn’t too bad, and it still looked pretty.  By the way, if anyone knows how to pick the best watermelons, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!  I feel like I always have terrible luck.

Also, feel free to share your favorite overnight oats combinations, I’d love to try some new ones!

Recipe:

  • 1/2 c. Oats (Rolled, Quick, or Steel Cut)
  • 3/4 c. Milk (Any milk will do, I use Coconut/Almond Blend)
  • Toppings of choice

-Mix everything together, refrigerate overnight for at least 8 hours

Meal Prep-Teriyaki Chicken//Zucchini Salad

Before you think “Wow, those two dishes don’t really go together”, trust me, I already know.  Why would I make a half Asian, half Italian meal?  I’ll tell you why….because I wanted to.  Or, more specifically, because I used what my local grocery stores had on sale this week.

Honestly, I’ve been waiting to make this teriyaki chicken for a few weeks now.  I’ve never done a homemade teriyaki sauce, but I’m glad I did, because it was damn good.  It took no time at all, which was also a major plus.  In fact, this whole meal was actually quite quick.

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I started out by making my zucchini salad, which is just pasta salad substituting the pasta for zucchini noodles.  I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out, but wanted to risk trying in case it was something I ended up loving.  I’m glad I thought about doing this.  Zucchini noodles have become a staple in my household recently.  They’re so much healthier than pasta noodles and they take very little time to prepare.  If you’ve never done so, I’ll give you some very detailed instructions on how to.  First, invest in a spiralizer…it will change your life.  Second, wash your zucchini, cut the ends off of both sides, and cut the zucchini in half (this isn’t a necessary step, but i like to do this so my noodles don’t come out so long).  Third, stick your zucchini on your spiralizer and start spinning.  Done.  It’s that easy.  When you finish, you’ll have a little something like so:

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Perfect zoodles.   Yep, you read that right.

After I cut all of my zucchini (I used 8) I started preparing the veggies that I was going to add into the salad.  You can use whatever vegetables you want.  I decided on red and orange peppers, broccoli, black olives, and green onions.  Nothing too fancy.  The reason I was hesitant to make this side dish was because I didn’t know how well the zucchini would take to the Italian dressing I chose to use.  Zucchini is obviously pretty moist once you cut it up, and I was nervous that the noodles were just going to be a soggy mess once I added the dressing.  Before I added anything into the noodles, I lined a big mixing bowl with paper towels and moved all of the noodles into the bowl with the paper towels, hoping that some of the moisture would get sucked up.  I let them sit for about 25 minutes and then moved on to finishing off the salad.  I did add some parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper in addition to the veggies and dressing.  To my surprise, it turned out great.  The noodles were not soggy and still had a nice crunch to them.

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Alright, so now we’re moving on to the main dish, the teriyaki chicken.  I found a recipe for a very simple teriyaki sauce here and tweaked it to my liking.  It took less than 10 minutes to make this sauce and you’d never know that by how good it was.  All you have to do is add all of the ingredients into a saucepan, let it boil, then reduce your heat down and stir until it starts getting heavy.  You can also add a little more cornstarch if you’re wanting a thicker sauce, or more water if you want it thinner.

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That’s basically all there is to it.  I bought chicken tenders because I was honestly too lazy to cut up large chicken breasts, so I already had my chicken ready to go.  I lined a baking pan with foil (again, out of sheer laziness and not wanting to clean) and added a couple spoonfuls of the teriyaki along the bottom of the pan.  You add in your chicken, add any spices you want on the chicken (I went simple and just used garlic, salt, and pepper) and use the rest of your teriyaki to top everything off.  Throw it into a 400 degree oven for about 18 minutes and you’re good to go.

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This was so simple, anybody could make this meal.  And again, I know this doesn’t technically ‘go together’, but do what you want!  I wanted a veggie side dish to keep it on the lighter side this week, as opposed to something heavier like rice, so that’s exactly what I did.  Plus, with Summer weather coming in full force here in Arizona, a cold pasta salad was perfect.

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Let me know if you make this meal and how it turned out 🙂

 

Recipe: Teriyaki Chicken 

  • 3/4 c. Soy Sauce (I used low sodium)
  • 5 1/2 tbsp Honey
  • 2 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 4 tbsp Water
  • 1.5 tbsp Minced Garlic
  • 3.75 lbs Chicken

-Add all ingredients into saucepan over medium heat

-Bring to a boil, then turn to low heat and stir sauce until desired thickness

-Coat bottom of baking pan with a layer of teriyaki, add in (optional) seasoned chicken, then use the rest of the sauce to cover chicken

-Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes

Recipe: Zucchini Salad

  • 8 large zucchini, spiralized
  • 12 oz. Italian dressing
  • 2 cans Black Olives, sliced
  • 2 Orange Peppers, cut
  • 1 Red Pepper, cut
  • 3 large Broccoli heads, cut
  • 1 bundle Green Onions, sliced
  • 1/2 c. parmesan cheese
  • Salt, pepper to taste

-Cut ends off zucchini, spiralize into thin noodles.  Line bowl with paper towels, place zucchini in bowl for 20-25 minutes to absorb excess moisture.

-Remove paper towels from zoodles.  Add in all prepped veggies, spices, cheese, and dressing.  Stir together.

-Enjoy!

(I’ll remind you that these recipes are what I use for 10 meals, so be sure to adjust accordingly!)

Meal Prep-Ground Turkey and Sweet Potato Mix//Broccoli

Hello, hello!  It’s Sunday night, and I’ve just finished my meal prepping for the week.  I’m not going to lie, I was a little iffy about this one because I’ve never really been into sweet potatoes.  I’ve always preferred regular potatoes, but for the sake of nutrition, I decided to be a little daring.

Many of my recipes I create are inspired from Pinterest, but I never follow recipes to a T.  I like putting my own spins and twists on each meal I create, and I definitely do my own thing when it comes to spices.  My boyfriend loves spicy food, I, however, am a complete wimp when it comes to spice.  But, being the amazing girlfriend I am, I always try to make each meal spicy enough for his taste (as I attempt to build up my spice tolerance) so I usually go pretty heavy.

I started out by getting all of my ingredients and prepping them as needed.  This included 2 yellow bell peppers, a sweet onion, and fresh parsley.  If you haven’t seen my About Me page, I make 10 lunch meals at a time (Monday-Friday meals split between my boyfriend and myself) so if it looks like a lot of food, it’s because it is.

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I decided to use broccoli as a side dish, so I started getting it prepared and ready to go into the oven so I could save some time and just have everything going at once.  This time around, I dressed the broccoli with a pretty small amount of olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and chili powder.  I spread the veggies on an aluminum baking pan (make sure you don’t overlap) and threw them in the oven at 400 degrees for 12 minutes.  Remember when I talked about building my spice tolerance?  There’s your proof^^

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After I put the broccoli in the oven, I started cooking the ground turkey for the main dish.  I cooked the turkey on medium heat by itself until it was just about done, around 5-6 minutes, and then added 2 tsps minced garlic, yellow peppers, onion, and simmered everything together for another 5 or so minutes (or until your onions start to brown).  I also added in a few spices (salt, pepper, chili powder, and crushed red pepper flakes) while everything was simmering down.  I’ll tell you what though-crushed red pepper is not my friend.

While things were cooking, I peeled and cut my sweet potatoes.  I diced them pretty small so they wouldn’t take too long to get tender.  As soon as the onions browned in the turkey mixture, I added in the potatoes and covered the pan.  It only took about 10 minutes for them to get soft, and I did add in some additional spice and a small amount of water (to prevent any sticking).  To be honest, this was my first time making sweet potatoes, but I think I did a pretty OK job.  Once everything was ready, I sprinkled some shredded mozzarella on top, let it melt, then topped it off with the fresh parsley.

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Hello, delicious 🙂

Recipe:

  • 2 Yellow Peppers
  • 1 onion (I used sweet, I’m sure any would do)
  • Fresh Parsley
  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 5-6 sweet potatoes (depending on size)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/3 c. Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, chili powder, crushed red pepper to taste*

-Heat olive oil in pan and cook ground turkey on medium heat until just about fully cooked, about 5-6 minutes.

-Add in yellow peppers, minced garlic, and onion.  Cook until onions start to brown.

-Add in spices.

-Once onions are browned, add in cubed sweet potatoes and cover pan.  May need to add water to prevent the potatoes from sticking. Cook about 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

-Top everything with mozzarella cheese, let melt, then add fresh parsley.

-Enjoy!

 

Recipe inspired by : http://www.primaverakitchen.com/ground-turkey-sweet-potato-skillet/