Greek Chicken Lunch Bowls


~Amanda~

The weather has been un-seasonally warm here the last few weeks and it has me thinking about this upcoming summer with days by the pool, my bachelorette party in Mexico… and of course my wedding in August! All of this is keeping me motivated to eat healthy and (hopefully) have that summer-bod in time for everything. One of the most important things you can do to eat healthy is to plan and prepare meals ahead of time. For me, this is especially important when it comes to breakfast and lunches for work and I have been trying out new, delicious recipes weekly. This one for Greek Chicken Lunch Bowls came from Eazy Peazy Mealz and is one of my new favorites! It takes a little effort to prepare on the weekend (and I do mean just a little, these are super easy to make), but is totally worth it when you have an awesome homemade lunch during at work that’s loaded with yummy Greek flavors and is healthy too.


The first, and probably most important, part is to make the Greek chicken. You make the marinade by combining olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, oregano, and creamy Greek yogurt together (I have actually never used Greek yogurt in a marinade before, but it is awesome and gives some extra moisture to the chicken and a nice bite of flavor). Then you add in the chicken breasts and marinade for 20 minutes (if you’re in a time crunch) but you can also do this a day before and let it marinade in the fridge overnight to get even more flavor infused in the chicken. Then you sear it in a pan on the stove and finish it off cooking in the oven to keep it nice and juicy. YUM! Once it’s done cooking, you want to let it cool completely so that all the juices get soaked back in and it remains tender and delicious, then you can cut it into smaller bite-size cubes.


The other components of the bowls are just as important as the chicken as they all add a different texture and flavor that makes the bowls complete. There’s a cucumber salad that adds a nice cool and citrusy bite, the tzatziki sauce is creamy and loaded with traditional Greek flavors like dill and mint and perfectly complements the chicken. Cherry tomatoes add a great pop of flavor. And finally some brown rice acts as the base to bring everything together – with some added nutrition as well! Once you have all the components prepared, you can create the bowls by layering in everything. These can be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. One recipe makes about 2-4 servings, but double it if you want meals for the whole week! Enjoy!


Greek Chicken Lunch Bowls
Serves 3
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For the Chicken
  1. 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  2. ⅛ cup olive oil
  3. 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  4. ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  5. ½ tablespoon red wine vinegar
  6. ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  7. ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt (I use fage 0%)
  8. Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Cucumber Salad
  1. ½ large cucumber, peeled and sliced
  2. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  3. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  4. ½ tablespoon red wine vinegar
  5. ½ teaspoon dried oregano
For the Tzatziki Sauce
  1. ½ plain Greek yogurt (I use fage 0%)
  2. ¼ large cucumber, finely diced
  3. ½ tablespoon garlic, minced
  4. 1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
  5. 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
  6. 1 teaspoon fresh mint, finely chopped
  7. Salt and pepper, to taste
For the bowls
  1. 1½ cups cooked brown rice
  2. 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  3. ½ red onion, sliced (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, oregano, Greek yogurt and salt and pepper. Add the chicken and toss until coated with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes up to overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees then heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the chicken. Cook for about 4-5 minutes per side until slightly browned then transfer to a pan and bake in the oven for 15 minutes until cooked through and the juices run clear. Remove and let cool.
  3. Once the chicken has cooled, cut into one inch bite size cubes. .
  4. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the cucumber salad by combining the cucumbers with all the other ingredients. Set aside.
  5. Then make the tzatziki sauce by combining all the ingredients. Set aside.
  6. Prepare the bowls by first dividing the cooked brown rice between 2-3 containers. Add the cherry tomatoes and red onion then top with chicken, cucumber salad, and tzatziki sauce.
  7. Cover and refrigerate for a maximum of 5 days. Enjoy cool right out of the fridge.
The Sisters Kitchen http://www.thesisterskitchen.com/

Banana Almond Butter Chia Pudding


~Amanda~

I did the Whole30 last month and there were so many recipes that I became obsessed with and have continued to make even now that I am finished with it. This Banana Almond Butter Chia Pudding is one of those recipes. I make a batch of this every Sunday and have two mason jars ready to go for breakfast for two days during the workweek (and I make our amazing Sweet Potato and Sausage Breakfast Quiche on Sunday’s to have for breakfast the other three days of the workweek). This chia seed pudding is a great alternative to your traditional overnight oats, with some added nutritional benefits from the awesome chia seeds – they are SO good for you – so not only is this pudding delicious, but it’s also super nutritious!

I have tried multiple recipes for chia seed pudding, but this one quickly became my all time favorite because it has so much flavor and texture to it (some can be so bland and boring). By processing the banana together with almond butter and almond milk before combining it with the chia seeds (rather than just adding almond milk), you get so much added flavor. I don’t know many people who don’t love bananas and peanut butter so to have a variation of that by combining banana and almond butter for breakfast is pretty much the greatest thing ever. Plus adding some cinnamon to the mix just gives it that extra warmth and spice and makes the banana and almond butter flavors pop even more.


I recently started adding cacao nibs to this chia seed pudding too and it is so so good! The cacao nibs are a great alternative to chocolate chips in whole30 recipes and they add some great texture in the pudding as they hold their shape and bite well so it keeps you from getting bored with just a bowl of mushy pudding. So once you have all your ingredients combined, you pour the mixture into two smaller mason jars and refrigerate overnight (or up to 3 days) until ready to have them for breakfast. These are even better when you top them with a little extra sliced banana, almond butter drizzle, and some extra cacao nibs. So if you’re looking for one of the best make ahead breakfasts for your busy week, this is definitely a recipe that you need to try now!


Bana

Banana Almond Butter Chia Pudding
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. 1 large banana (fairly ripe)
  2. 1 cup almond milk
  3. ¼ cup almond butter
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla (omit for whole30)
  5. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  7. 1 tablespoon cacao nibs
Instructions
  1. Place the banana, almond milk, almond butter, vanilla and cinnamon in a food processor (or blender if you don’t have a food processor) and combine for about 30 seconds until well blended.
  2. Stir in the chia seeds and cacao nibs with a spatula.
  3. Pour into two medium sides mason jars and close.
  4. Refrigerate overnight.
  5. Serve topped with banana, almond butter, and cacao nibs.
The Sisters Kitchen http://www.thesisterskitchen.com/

Zoodles with Pancetta, Fig, and Arugula


~Amanda~

I was at the grocery store this weekend and there were a ton of incredible looking zucchini in stock, so I knew I had to make a zucchini based dish for dinner one night this week, and of course my mind went straight to zoodles because I love zoodles; they are a super low calorie alternative to pasta (and I’m all about low calorie, healthy eating right now since I’m getting married in just 5 months – I know, where has the time gone!? 5 months?!) and when made right, they have the perfect texture and are a base to which you can add pretty much anything, just like you would with pasta. I had pinned this recipes from Tasty Yummies a while ago, so this was the time to test it out! This was such a quick and easy recipe perfect for a Monday night – especially since the season finale of The Bachelor was on tonight, so I couldn’t be stuck cooking in the kitchen all night when the best, most exciting rose ceremony ever was going to be on!


This recipe first caught my eye because of the use of figs in it. I have been really into dates lately for healthy snacking and bought some dried figs at the store to test out a while ago and instantly fell in love with them. They’re great for snacking because they’re healthy and have so many nutritional benefits and they are also slightly sweet and have great bite and texture to them. I knew that combining them with some salty and savory pancetta in a ‘pasta’ dish would be amazing, and it most definitely was. Another key ingredient in this dish is the arugula. Arugula is something I love to use in pasta dishes as it adds a great peppery flavor and some freshness. The peppery flavor with the salty pancetta and sweet figs really does create such an amazing and complex flavor profile and your taste buds will be so so happy.


If you haven’t already hopped on the Zoodle bandwagon yet, you most definitely should. They are just so great and even easier to make; you can purchase one of those super fancy spiralizers that you hook onto your countertop OR you can buy the cheap $3 one on amazon like I did and discover that it works just as well, if not better, and it is so much easier to clean and store. The only downside is that it is definitely more work on your part to actually twist the zucchini through, but there’s nothing wrong with a little arm workout in the evening (just make sure to alternate sides so you don’t have one giant zucchini twisting bicep!). All the zucchini needs is a quick saute over medium heat. Any by quick I mean 1-2 minutes, you do not want them to get overcooked or they will become soggy and mushy. Once that’s done, you combine it with your sauteed pancetta and cheese, top with figs and some olive oil and sit down and enjoy the rest of your evening, because that took no time at all! Enjoy!

Zoodles with Pancetta, Fig, and Arugula
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, cut in ¼” pieces
  3. 1 large shallot, minced
  4. 1 clove garlic, minced
  5. 4 medium zucchini
  6. ¼ cup romano cheese, grated
  7. 12 fresh figs, quartered (substitute dried figs if fresh aren’t available)
  8. 3 cups arugula
  9. ⅓ cup basil leaves, torn
  10. Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Spiralize the zucchini using a spiralizer (or you can use a mandolin to slice thinly then cut into thin stips).
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta, shallots, and garlic and sauté about 6 minutes or until pancetta is golden and shallots are tender.
  3. Add the zoodles to the skillet sauté for 3 minutes over medium heat, until slightly tender. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the Romano cheese and arugula and toss until slightly wilted.
  5. Transfer to bowls for serving and top with figs, basil and a drizzle or two of olive oil.
The Sisters Kitchen http://www.thesisterskitchen.com/

Protein Cocoa Energy Balls


~Amanda~

Working out is a huge part of my life – every weekday I wake up early and hit the gym before work. I do this for many reasons; the most important is obviously to be healthy and take care of myself and keep my heart and body feeling good. Another big one is because I LOVE TO EAT! I cook healthy and I eat well, but I really enjoy my food and my sweets so I exercise so I don’t have to watch what I eat a much and I can enjoy my food. I always have half a banana before I head out the door to give me a boost of energy for my workout (bananas are filled with digestible carbohydrates (fuel) and are packed with potassium to help keep nutrient levels high. But just as important is my post-workout food – PROTEIN BALLS! I make a batch of these every Sunday afternoon and keep them stored in the fridge during the week so I have a delicious and healthy snack ready for me everyday, no effort.


It is so important to give your body some food for recovery after your workout to help your muscles and body heal and boost your energy. I am obsessed with energy balls and over the last few years I have many so many different recipes and have taken my favorite bits of each recipe to make these ones that are absolutely perfect for me. The base of these balls are dates. Dates have quickly become one of my favorite foods – I always have them in the house and will have one as a healthy little snack to hold me over until meal time. They’re just sweet enough to satisfy my sweet tooth, but so good for you that there is no guilt. Dates contain so many important vitamins and minerals, they are high in antioxidants, fiber and iron, and they are rated low-medium on the Glycemic Index. I could go on and on about the benefits they have, but just trust me – they’re so good for you and great to eat post-workout.

In addition to the dates, I add cashews, flaxseed, protein powder, cocoa powder, and coconut oil. I add flaxseed to anything I can (pancakes, oats, etc) so it was natural that I would put it in these energy balls. As far as protein powder goes, I have found that plant based protein powder works best for me. I find that it’s so much easier on your digestive system and I have become obsessed with Vega brand. The cocoa powder was a very obvious addition because I loooooove chocolate! PLUS did you know that it’s so good for you (as long as you use 100% raw, unsweetened) and it can improve your health and lower the risk of heart disease. And finally coconut oil is key in these energy bites. It helps hold them together and I love adding a little more than usual recipes would call for and when they are refrigerated it firms up and gives them a nice bite, so they’re not as chewy and fall apart-y as some other ones I have tried are. So now that I’ve gone on and on about these ingredients and how great they are for you, you need to actually make these and you’ll see that they also taste AMAZING too! ENJOY!

Protein Cocoa Energy Balls
Yields 15
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Ingredients
  1. ½ cup cashews (unsalted)
  2. 10 large dates
  3. 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  4. 2 tablespoons chocolate protein powder (I use Vega plant based protein powder)
  5. 1 tablespoon 100% dark raw cocoa powder
  6. 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  7. 1 tablespoon water
Instructions
  1. Place the cashews in a food processor and pulse until finely ground.
  2. Add the dates, flax seed, protein powder, cocoa powder, coconut oil, and water to the food processor and combine for about 30 seconds until everything is very well blended (if the mixture is too thin, add some more cashews to thicken it up, if the mixture is too thick, add in a little more water to thin it out – you want it to be thick enough to hold its shape when formed into balls).
  3. Form the mixture into one inch balls in your hands and place on a plate
  4. Refrigerate for 1 hour before eating or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
The Sisters Kitchen http://www.thesisterskitchen.com/

Arepas with Smoked Salmon and Avocado


~Amanda~

This post is for a recipe that might just be one of my greatest accomplishments yet – not because it’s super difficult or complex or fancy (it is none of those things), but because it is for one of my all time favorite things I like to order when I go out and I am so incredibly proud of myself for recreating it at home and having it taste almost identical to when I eat out and get it… this wonderful thing is the AREPA! There is an awesome place in Denver called Avanti Food & Beverage and it’s like a new age food hall. There are a variety of different restaurant concepts within the building all specializing in different cuisines and it is here that I was first introduced to the Arepa a few years ago and I have loved them ever since.


So what is an arepa? Up until I had one, I had never even heard the word before; arepas are a Venezuelan corn flour bread that is cut open and stuffed with a variety of different fillings. I have tried several like cheese and plantain or chicken and avocado but nothing beats smoked salmon with fried plantains, avocado and cheese. All those amazing flavors combined together inside of an arepa with a crispy outer shell and soft warm inside make up one of the most delicious things you will ever eat; it’s sweet, savory, salty, citrusy, crunchy, and soft all in one bite. So now that I have (hopefully) made you want to try one, let me tell you how easy they are to make!

To make arepas you must have precooked white cornmeal, no substitutes. Trust me on this, I tried making mine with masa once because I couldn’t find the precooked white cornmeal in stores and it was not very successful. They weren’t horrible, but they weren’t great either. I recommend buying PAN – I couldn’t find any in stores near me so I just ordered it online. Once you have the cornmeal, the rest is simple; combine it with some warm water and a bit of cheese, form them into patties, and fry them up in some coconut oil! That’s it! As I said before, there are a bunch of different ingredients you can use to fill them, but this recipe is the best by far; I use smoked salmon that I buy at the store, avocado mashed with some lime juice, fried plantains, and a little cilantro to finish it off. Also, they are a bit messy, so if you wrap them up in foil (just like they do at the restaurant), they are so much easier to eat and it keeps everything together. I hope you love these as much as I do, they will change your life!


Arepas with Smoked Salmon and Avocado
Serves 4
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For the Arepas
  1. 1 cup precooked white cornmeal (I recommend PAN brand)
  2. 1 cup warm water
  3. ⅓ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  4. 2 tablespoons coconut oil
For the Filling
  1. 1 cup smoked salmon, flaked (Honey Smoked Salmon - Original is perfect)
  2. 1 large avocado
  3. 1 lime, juiced
  4. Salt and pepper, to taste
  5. ½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  6. 1 plantain
  7. 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil
  8. 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
Make the Arepas
  1. Combine the precooked white cornmeal, water, and mozzarella cheese in a bowl until it forms into a ball of dough.
  2. Split the dough into equal portions (they can be as large or as small as you like - I usually make about 4 larger ones); roll the dough into balls and then flatten so they are about one inch thick and resemble hamburger patties.
  3. Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat then place the arepas in it and cook until medium/golden brown and cooked through (about 5-7 minutes per side).
  4. Remove from skillet when done and place on a plate with a paper towel to remove any excess oil.
  5. Let cool for a few minutes and then slice ¾ of the way through (leave just a little bit on the end in tact) and stuff each one with mozzarella cheese and close again so it melts. Set aside.
For the Filling
  1. In a small bowl, mash the avocado with the lime juice, salt and pepper using a fork until mostly combined (some small chunks can remain).
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat and slice the plantains so they’re about ¼ inch thick. Place in the oil to fry for about 5 minutes per side until golden brown and softened. Place on a paper towel to drain off excess oil.
Stuff the Arepas
  1. Fill each arepa with a portion of the smoked salmon, avocado mash and plantain slices. Garnish with some fresh cilantro and enjoy!
Notes
  1. They are so much easier to eat if you wrap them in foil like a burrito and go from one end to the other!
The Sisters Kitchen http://www.thesisterskitchen.com/