Beefy Butternut-Carrot-Coconut Cream Noodle Bowls … Mmmm, Pasta!

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®  & La Moderna but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #MyExceptionalPasta #GoldenHarvest  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Eating bowl full of La Moderna Golden Harvest NoodlesNoodle night has been a “thing” at my house ever since my boys were toddlers who dared venture only as far as plain buttered pasta. Now all three are teens (one’s nearly 20) with taste buds much more adventurous and welcoming to new ingredients at our noodle nights. Since this mama is a healthy foodie, my family has come to expect my pasta recipes to be packed with as much nutrition and flavor as possible to optimize our active lifestyle. Food is fuel, but it should taste good too!

Molasses Steak on Butternut Carrot coconut Cream Pasta seems rich and sinful, but is actually a health and diary-free dinner.

My healthy pasta recipe today is Butternut-Carrot-Coconut Cream Noodle Bowls with Molasses Steak. For most of us, pasta equates “comfort” and eating it out of a big bowl packed with fresh, flavorful and fit-focused ingredients is not only an edible hug of happiness, but also one of health! I’ve been one to cut carbs here and there, but I always come back to pasta when I need to fuel my long runs, intense workouts or even just jump out of a brain fog. Butternut Carrot Coconut "Alfredo"La Moderna Golden Harvest is a brand I’ve been going back to time and time again for my pasta creations. Not only is the consistency, texture and flavor of this 100% Durum Wheat product on point, it’s also a good source of protein (8 grams per serving) thanks to the special selection of high protein wheat that is harvested from desert valleys on Mexico bordering California.

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The main protein source for my pasta bowl is sirloin steak that has been soaked in a mollassas marinade, grilled indoors or out, and sliced thinly into bite-sized pieces. While I’ve used lean top sirloin, you could also use any other steak cut that you prefer (such as strip or flat iron) or even heat up leftover roast or brisket. Spinach beefs up this recipe with even more iron in addition to my steak, it’s a must-have mineral this runner girl always needs to cure her fatiuge!

butternut-carrot-coconut-cream-sauceThe sauce is super creamy and rich, but surprisingly healthy made of wholesome ingredients including pureed butternut squash, carrots, coconut butter and coconut milk – there is no cheese or traditional milk, so this recipe remains dairy-free. It’s so creamy and rich tasting, it has the texture of an alfredo sauce, but my version it’s so much more sensible for an athlete’s diet. Plus, it’s seasoned with turmeric and ginger which have a host of health benefits to support optimal wellness.

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La Moderna comes in many familiar past shapes including spaghetti, elbow, rigate and rotini and you can find them at your local Walmart, that’s where I shop for mine. Check out the product locator before you head out shopping! Also, learn more about the brand and stay up to date on their latest products and promotions by following their social media – La Moderna Facebook, La Moderna Twitter, La Moderna Instagram, and La Moderna Pinterest

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What is your favorite pasta shape? What is your favorite sauce or toppings? Do you use pasta to “carb-load” ? Please share in the comment below – XOXO, Jennifer

Beefy Butternut-Carrot-Coconut Cream Noodle Bowls
Print Recipe
Beef up your noodle bowl with protein rich pasta and a rich, creamy but healthy dairy-free sauce made from butternut, coconut, carrots and turmeric.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Beefy Butternut-Carrot-Coconut Cream Noodle Bowls
Print Recipe
Beef up your noodle bowl with protein rich pasta and a rich, creamy but healthy dairy-free sauce made from butternut, coconut, carrots and turmeric.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Ingredients
For marinade & steak:
For Pasta & Sauce:
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Whisk together molasses, vinegar, oil, pepper, garlic, ginger, thyme, and red pepper flakes, and pour into plastic zip-top bag containing steaks. Seal tightly and flip a few times to evenly distribute marinade. Set in refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours, flipping bag occasionally. Preheat gas, charcoal grill or indoor grill pan to 400 F degrees. Remove meat and discard marinade. Season with salt and more pepper to taste. Place steaks on oiled grates and grill for approximately 7 to 9 minutes on one side, or until moisture starts to pool on the top and beef releases easily from grates with tongs. Flip once, grilling on the other side for 6 to 8 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 135 F degrees with instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of steak Transfer plates to platter and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing against the grain, and then cutting again into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, add chopped squash and carrots to microwave safe container and add ½ cup water. Loosely place lid on container or vent with plastic wrap and microwave on high for approximately 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables softened. Drain water and set aside. In large skillet, add 2 tablespoons coconut oil and bring to medium high heat. Add diced onion and cook for several, stirring constantly, until onions translucent and turning golden brown on edges. Transfer cooked squash, carrots, and onion with garlic to blender. Add ginger, salt, pepper, and turmeric. Pour in 2 cups of coconut milk and pulse until finely pureed. If needed, add up to another ½ cup of coconut milk a splash at a time to achieve desired consistency.
  3. Boil pasta according to manufacturer’s directions on box. Drain but do not rinse. Set aside. Transfer pureed mixture back to skillet to reheat gently over medium-low heat. Stir in chopped spinach and cooked noodles, stirring until combined for about 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Transfer to individual bowls or serve family style on a platter. Top with sliced beef. Garnish with chopped parsley and unsweetened, shredded coconut.
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Ginormous Jackfruit, Everything You Need to Know

Jackfruit from Friedas.comWhat is a Jackfruit? Friends don’t let friends eat this weird fruit alone. Why? Simply because it’s jaw-dropping humungous and is known as world’s largest tree fruit. I highly recommend not walking under the tree that grows this monster-sized, greenish-yellow, bumpy-skinned, as they can weight up to 80 pounds!

Jackfruit tree - photo from Wikipedia

Jackfruit tree – photo from Wikipedia

How do you eat it? So, what can you do with a Jackfruit other that gawk at it or use it as an impromptu piece of workout equipment for a weight-loaded carry – haha!  Well, you can eat it, make recipes with it and stockpile it in your freezer!  The ripened fruit has been described to taste like a combination of mango-banana-melon. But, interestingly enough, the unripe fruit is very popular with vegans and vegetarians as a meat substitute in stir-frys, tacos, sandwiches, pasta sauces and more! Some say the taste and texture of Jackfruit is similar to pork, while others say it’s a chameleon that takes on whatever the predominant flavors of the recipe. The seeds have been likened to chestnuts.

Inside of Jackfruit

Jackfruit Flesh – photo from Friedas.com

What are the Health Benefits? Jack fruit is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin b-6, potassium and even some protein (about 3 grams per sliced cup).  About 1 cup of sliced fruit also has 157 calories and 1 gram of fat.

 How to Select and Store: Choose Jackfruit with bright green or yellow color, depending on ripeness, and a fragrant scent. Leave on counter to ripen. It should yield slightly when pressed. Wrap cut fruit tightly in plastic and store flesh in container. Refrigerate up to 7 days and freeze for up to 2 months.

Recipe Ideas:

How to Cook Jackfruit Seeds from Friedas.com

Jackfruit Vegan Chili from CoachDebbieRuns.com (she’s the biggest Jackfruit fan I know, so many other Jackfruit recipes on her site).

Vegan Jackfruit ChiliHave you ever tried Jackfruit? What did you think? What did you make? If not, what’s the weirdest fruit you’ve eaten? Please share in the comments, XOXO – Jennifer

 

Smile at Breakfast with Sandwich Bros. Flatbread Pockets – Win a Year’s Worth!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sandwich Bros. The opinions and text are all mine.

Sandwhich Bros. Egg White & Sausage Flatbread Pocket Sandwich Life is to short.  I want to wake up and seize the day immediately, but I also want to eat a good breakfast.  This could explain why I’m often fashionably late. My morning meal is often the reason I am running a bit behind, I’m a stickler on eating a protein-rich, balanced breakfast and often the preparation takes more time than anticipated.

TheFitFork.com loves Sandwich Bros. Flatbread Pockets in Breakfast Flavors!I’d say about half the month, my meal prep game is strong – I’ve got meats pre-portioned in the freezer and waiting to be tossed into egg scrambles or I’ve made master mixes of my protein mug cakes.  But there are admittedly weeks when the frenetic pace of managing work, training and crazy-busy family schedule has me falling off pace. But, thank goodness to one of my new favorite finds for the freezer – Sandwich Bros. Flatbread Pocket Sandwiches in their breakfast flavors.

 

Packaged individually, family members can grab a Pocket out of the freezer and make a protein-rich breakfast in less than 2 minutes with absolutely no stress or thinking. I don’t think too well before a couple cups of coffee!  Another plus, they are “ Really…Really Tasty!”

sandwich-bros-sams

I love the Egg White & Turkey Sausage variety, this flatbread pocket is filled with a fluffy egg white cheddar omelet and lean Jones® sausage patty. If counting calories, you’ll be happy to learn this breakfast item has only has 150 calories per serving and 4 weight watchers points. The only macro I track is protein, with a goal of 25 – 30 grams per meal. Getting enough protein in the morning helps you start the day right, providing longer-lasting energy, promotes satiety, aids in muscle management, and can prevent unhealthy snacking later in the day.

This yummy Egg White & Turkey Sausage has 11 grams of protein, that’s really good considering only 150 calories! I’ll typically pair this low-cal breakfast entree with a small sugar-free Greek yogurt topped with fruit for another 18 grams of protein. I’m totally winning breakfast, and I only opened a few wrappers!

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When I’m feeling fancy, I pull open my produce drawer to see what veggies I have to stuff in my flatbread pocket to add even more nutrition. Today I found spinach and tomatoes! Mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, and onions make yummy stuffers too. Add the veggies to the pocket before or after microwaving, depending on the texture you prefer! It’s so easy!

dsc_0359There are other Sandwich Bros. Flatbread Pocket Sandwiches for breakfast including Egg & Cheese, Sausage & Cheese, and Turkey Sausage and Cheese. They also make other flatbread sandwiches that work for a quick lunch, dinner or snak.  Get a COUPON and try them yourself – you can find them at Walgreens, Walmart and Sam’s Club along with other locations. Start the day off right and get that #SandwichBrosSmile

Win a YEAR supply of Sandwich Bros. Flatbread Pocket Sandwiches - enter at thefitfork.com

In addition to the COUPON, here’s a deal you don’t want to miss! I’m hosting a giveaway and one lucky entrant will win an entire year’s supply of Sandwich Bros. Flatbread Pocket Sandwiches – 52 free product coupons (to use on 4-ct or 6-ct boxes)!  Whoohooo, if you win, breakfast problems will be solved for a good long while! Enter via the Rafflecopter app below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

3 Ways to Chow a Cherimoya + My #MustHaveBox

Just when I think I’ve tasted every type of fruit and vegetable there is to eat (ever been to Produce Convention), I realize that a tasty treat has slipped past my radar – the Cherimoya. Mark Twain once likened the cherimoya “deliciousness itself!”  – how did I ever miss the memo on this quite large and armored lizard-skinned looking fruit!

Discover easy, tasty ways to eat a Cherimoya (also known as a Custard Apple)

Cherimoya

Once set aside solely for ancient Incan royalty, this “King of Fruit” is still a prized possession – they are delicious and hard to find . . . and usually fairly big-bucks if you do. But, so worth the investment as you will gobble up this healthy treat in a single sitting, especially if you have a friend sitting nearby with a spoon. The flesh inside is amazingly fragrant, soft, sweet and scoopable – there some seeds inside, but they aren’t too hard to flick away.  When selecting afruit, pick a cherimoya that is still green but showing minor signs of turning brown soon. Like an avocado, the fruit is ripened with the flesh yields to a gentle touch. So, if your fruit is still green and hard, let it ripen on the counter for up to three days – or stick in a paper bag to speed the process along.  Check out my friends at Frieda’s for other great Cherimoya Recipes and Tips.

So, my top 3 ways to chow a cherimoya are:

Cherimoya sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg1)  Sprinkle with Spices: Sliced in half and sprinkled with cinnamon, dash of nutmeg and a bit of honey drizzle – I swear it tastes just like apple pie. My kids think it tastes more like a pineapple and banana that got married and laid a big prehistoric egg.  Either way, it’s a taste bud winner – haha!

Pureed Frozen Cherimoya - Smoothie and Meal Pret2) Mixed into Oatmeal: I put chunks or puree of cherimoya in my morning oatmeal.  This is a great way for me to boost up the vitamin C, potassium, and in my fiber in my daily diet. If I find the fruit on sale or can’t eat what I’ve purchased before going too ripe, I simply puree the fruit in the blender with a tiny splash of lemon juice and freeze in heavy-duty zip-top bags (above picture). This will keep in the back of your freezer for 6 months! You can also sub in for 1/2 the oil in baked goods as you would applesauce, pumpkin or another fruit puree.

Apple Cider Cherimoya Smoothie is loaded with fall flavor, fiber, vitamin C and more!

3) Blended into Smoothie: Blending cherimoya with orange juice is traditional but my recipe for Cherimoya Apple Cider Smoothie is super yummy.  I use one of the delicious, cold-pressed, 100% juice apple ciders from Litehouse Foods — so fresh you need to look for it in the produce department!

Directions: Add 2 tablespoons oats to bottom of blender, pulse for a few seconds to grind up. Add ½ cup cherimoya puree (preferably frozen) or fresh chunks, 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, ½ cup apple cider, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon honey (or sugar-free alternative) to blender and blend for 1 minute, adding a few ice cubes to achieve desired consistency. Serves 1.

Must Have Box from POPSUGAR

Also, I want to share with you my favorite little luxury each month – it’s the PopSugar #MustHaveBox from POPSUGAR.  The Must Have Box is a specially-curated monthly subscription that is filled with full-sized products across fashion, beauty, home décor, upscale edibles and more. I absolutely have adored everything that’s come in my monthly box – often they are splurges that I would never buy myself (but am oh-so happy to have) or fabulously off-beat, quirky things that I never knew I needed until I have in my hot little hands – and then I’m hooked!

The Fit Fork - POPSUGAR Must Have Box

Must Have Box from POPSUGARThe October box included a book, Power Your Happy, by POPSUGAR founder Lisa Sugar, a gorgeous umbrella from Henri Bendel (along with a shopping discount card), Dark Drinking Chocolate (by My Cup of Cocoa) and a Rise & Shine Diner Mug (by Morning Culture). The Lalicious Bubble Bath, Revlon Eye Pen and Makeup Eraser Mini really spoke to my girly side, that’s a nice treat when a mom of three boys!  Check out some of the past Must Have Boxes  and sign up for a subscription that suits you – save $5 on your first box with code SHOP5.  Whoohoo!

What is your MUST HAVE this month? Tip me off on your new, most favorite, most awesome find! Oh, and have you ever tried a Cherimoya?! Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennnifer 

 

Kick the Fall Allergy Crud, Stay in the Game with #MinuteClinic

Living in warm climate has its advantages and disadvantages when it comes to running and exercising outdoors. I really love the fact that it’s nearly November and it’s in the 80s, sunny and breezy– but with that beautiful weather comes an extended fall allergy season. Fall is the worst season for allergies sufferers; there are more allergy triggers than any other time of the year. Typically, weed pollens (like the 17 varieties of ragweed) and mold spores peak in the autumn months as do other irritants like dust mites (yuck). This pesky problem is nothing to sneeze – or, actually it is!  Austin Sunset in October / Middle School Football

Sniffing and snuffing in the stands puts a damper on watching my kid’s football games, and I know my boys don’t like to be out there on the gridiron feeling all gunked up.    Thank goodness we have a MinuteClinic at the corner of our neighborhood to help make a quick diagnosis between cold, flu and allergies and to provide the treatments needed to stay in the game.

text to mom about allergies and minuteclinic

Seasonal fall allergies can even take a toll on my indoor workouts – for example, we open the garage doors on both sides of my CrossFit gym to get the air circulating. When the air starts circulating, the allergens get their groove on. But, it’s too hot to close the doors with no gym air-conditioning, so we all suffer and #UseAllTheTissues until swinging by MinuteClinic for relief. minute-clinic-allergy-gym

Practical tips can help reduce allergies, as well. For example, at home (unlike my gym!) don’t leave windows open during the day and avoid the use of a window fan – both will fast track unwanted pollens and mold spores into your home.  Be mindful to clean and change air filters every three months to lessen the amount of dirt, debris, and allergens that invade your space. Also, shake out pillows, blankets and other bedding between frequent washes and don’t go to sleep after being outdoors without washing your hair (allergens get trapped in there too).

minute clinic waiting room 2

If you or your kids need over-the-counter or prescription medications in your allergy-fighting “toolkit,” MinuteClinic is a convenient solution to get you feeling like a champ again. This walk-in clinic located inside select CVS Pharmacies and Target Stores across the U.S. and the District of Columbia has nurse practitioners and physician assistants who can give you a good look over and recommend the right over-the-counter medications and even write prescriptions when medically appropriate.  Minute Clinic is open 7 days a week with both weekday and evening hours – and, most health care insurance is accepted. Find a MinuteClinic near you!  Also visit Twitter feed or Facebook page.

Also, pick up a J&J coupon book when you visit your nearest MinuteClinic and save up to $40 on brands you can trust!

Do you or your kids have seasonal allergies? Do you have any tips? Do you have a box of tissues in your car right now? Haha! Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

Ancho Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous

I’m all about keeping things simple in the kitchen, my life is already complicated enough! On busy week nights, a one-dish dinner can really lessen mealtime stress — especially a quick-to-clean-up recipe that is made with seasonal ingredients in 20 minutes or less. Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous is a one dish, 20 minute dinner that is perfect for fall weeknights.

Everyone in my family loves seafood; it’s often hard to decide what variety to cook! However, my recipe for Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous keeps everyone happy with a trio of gulf shrimp, sea scallops and haddock fish.  Ancho chili powder (from the milder poblano pepper), bourbon and real maple syrup get  friendly together for a smoky sweet flavor that is “kid-approved” spicy without being a tongue torcher. Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous is a one dish, 20 minute dinner that is perfect for fall weeknights.

After blackening the seafood in my Swiss Diamond Fry Pan (more about that practical luxury in a second),  seasonal vegetables such as butternut squash and Brussels sprouts get a quick searing and then finish alongside the whole grain pearl couscous as it cooks with  Better Than Bouillon® Seasoned Vegetable Base.   Better Than Bouillon

I’ve been a fan of Better Than Bouillon® blendable bases for years and use them in so many recipes ranging from soups, sauces, pasta and anywhere you would use a stock. Available in a range of flavors made from real ingredients including beef, chicken, vegetable and more, each jar of “flavor magic” as I like to say, punches up the flavor intensity so quickly and conveniently. I just stir a teaspoon into a quart of water to use as a traditional stock or use as much or as little as my creation of the day dictates.  I love that I can just make what I need, no wasteful half-full cans of broth sitting around to spoil. Pouring Better than Bouillon in Swiss Diamond Fry Pan

So back to the fry pan! While I mentioned I like things simple, I don’t like to skimp on quality. I always use the freshest, most beautiful produce and best cuts of meat and seafood selections that I can afford – eating well is my deserved splurge in life! I would not risk ruining my perishable investments in anything less than high-end cookware that delivers results. Even though nicer pots and pans may cost a touch more, it keeps from burning or otherwise ruining my food and having to routinely replace cheap pots and pans that can’t keep up with my tasks.  Chef quality cookware from Swiss Diamond suits my tastes and makes it easy to create my kitchen masterpieces with confidence.Putting lid on Swiss Diamond Fry Pan

The 11” Non-stick Fry Pan with Lid  I used to make my skillet dinner has been called the “Rolls Royce of Non-stick Fry Pans” by the Wall Street Journal!  When I blackened the seafood and cooked couscous in it, I was sure that there was going to be some elbow grease involved in getting off the crispy bits and goo – but no, it just swipes clean with a dish towel or brush.  So, how does this magic happen? The pots and pans are made with cast aluminum and treated (three times!) in a proprietary non-sticking coating that includes REAL diamond particles. I learned that diamonds “are a chef’s best friend” because they are durable, non-stick and are excellent conductors of heat!  I also loved how this fry pan has an ergonomic handle that that is cool-to-the touch but can go in the oven up to 500F degrees and comes with clear view lid with an adjustable vent to keep steam in or out! Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous.

So, I hope you find 30 minutes tonight to make my delicious, autumn-inspired Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous. Creative, convenient and easy to clean up!

How do you #MakeMealsBetter ? Please share your favorite one dish dinner or time-saving meal prep tip in the comments. XOXO – Jennifer

Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous is a one dish, 20 minute dinner that is perfect for fall weeknights.
Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous
Print Recipe
This autumn-inspired seafood recipe features shrimp, fish and scallops plus loads of seasonal vegetables and whole grain couscous to create a balanced meal that all cooks in the same skillet -- finished in 20 minutes!
Servings
4 servings
Servings
4 servings
Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous is a one dish, 20 minute dinner that is perfect for fall weeknights.
Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous
Print Recipe
This autumn-inspired seafood recipe features shrimp, fish and scallops plus loads of seasonal vegetables and whole grain couscous to create a balanced meal that all cooks in the same skillet -- finished in 20 minutes!
Servings
4 servings
Servings
4 servings
Instructions
  1. In small bowl, mix together salt, pepper, cumin and Ancho powder.
  2. Pat seafood dry and rub spice mix on all sides of seafood liberally.
  3. Heat grapeseed oil in 11” skillet to medium-high. Add seafood and sear for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until blackened and cooked through. Remove seafood from pan with spatula for use later in recipe.
  4. Add butternut squash and Brussels sprouts to same pan over medium-high and good until beginning to brown and caramelize, but slightly “undercooked,” about 4 minutes.
  5. Add bourbon to skillet and cook for 30 seconds, stirring to deglaze pan. Add syrup and stir for 30 seconds.
  6. Add dry couscous to skillet. Stir vegetable base into hot water and pour into skillet. Stir gently to combine all ingredients. Reduce heat to medium-low, add lid with vent closed, and simmer for approximately 5 to 8 minutes or until water absorbed and couscous tender.
  7. Turn off heat. Arrange seafood on top of this mixture and replace lid to “warm” for 1 minute.
  8. Garnish with sliced green onions.
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Let’s Lunch! Smart Meal Prep Tips & Recipes #ReynoldsHeatandEat

Lunch, you gotta eat it no matter where you are – home, work, school, errands, gym, airplane. The issues getting in the way of my healthy lunch life are meeting up with friends who don’t have the same concerns about eating “food for function” as I do, finishing a workout that went well past noon and being so hangry that I could eat the entire Shake Shack on my way home, or being stuck on travel and having the only option be airport food. Note – I have a $25 Gift Card Giveaway at bottom of post. 

Lunch Meal Prep

However, I’ve found that with a little bit of front in effort I can prep my lunches in nice little containers for the week on Sunday – the payoff is obviously a healthier meal with ingredients approved by me, less crazy mornings gathering my grub up, and saving money – yes, saving money is good! It means I can pay all the high dollar fees for getting to and entering the races I love doing.

Meal Prepping Tips & Recipes for Lunch!

These are some basic tips that I use every week when putting together my meals and packing them up in to-go containers . If you’re a pro meal prepper, these tips may sound simple. But, if you’re new to the game of big batch cooking and assembly line prep, these useful ideas will help you get started!

Prep your protein.  The slow cooker and grill are my two go-to ways to prepare large batches of beef, chicken and pork for lunches (and dinners) through the week.   On Sunday morning, it’s so easy to stick huge roast or brisket in the Crock Pot and then walk away to enjoy the day. I use darn-big slow cooker (8-qt) so that I can make the most meat possible and have even been known to have two going at the same time! For the grill, Costco-sized trays of chicken or steaks not only are more economical to buy, but will hook you up for the entire week or month – depending on your family size. For fish, fill a rimmed, oiled baking sheet with your favorite filets or one huge piece of salmon and bake in the oven ‘til done!

Get your whole grains, beans & legumes going.  Brown rice, quinoa, and ancient grains hold up really well to making ahead of time and reheating later. Often, I find that pasta gets mushy during its second showing- not always though, whole wheat pasta holds up pretty well.  Use a large stock pot or rice cooker to get the job done efficiently – mine has a 20 quart capacity!   Another benefit of cooking a week’s worth of grains at once, less mess to clean up.

Switch up the sauces & mix-ins.  Often eating meal-prepped lunches can seem monotonous, choking down the same bland thing day after day. However, adding a small serving of sauce or handful of mix-ins is an easy way to transform the same old lunchbox staples into a wider range of flavorful meals – try pestos, Asian-inspired sauces, marinaras, salsas and so on! Even some fresh, no preservative salad dressings make a good option on hot and cold dishes. As for mix-ins, the little “extras” I rotate through include nuts, seeds, cheeses and dried fruits.

Use the right container.  If taking a salad for work, a large mason jar can be layered with ingredients. Keep the dressing on the bottom and delicate ingredients up higher, leaving a little headroom at the top so that you can shake it up right before eating.  I also like to take my soup in a mason jar, placing a layer of plastic wrap over the opening and under the lid to both help prevent leaking during transport and to serve as a splatter guard when reheating in the microwave – you don’t want to put that metal lid in there!  Hot meals can be reheated in a variety of containers, but I am partial to the Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers  (more deets below)– they hold a generous portion, are a great alternative to plastic and can be tossed in the trash so no messy containers to take home.  Store small portions of dressings, nuts, and cheese in baby mason jars, cleaned baby food jars, small plastic containers or snack-sized zip-bags.

Know your food safety rules.  When meal prepping for a week of lunches, remember most pre-cooked proteins and grains will only stay fresh for about 3 to 4 days in the fridge—I prep for Monday through Thursday and then do actually treat myself to lunch out on Friday! You can also prep your “plated” meal, or bigger bags of “ingredients” for assembly later, cool and place into appropriate freezer-storage containers – in the freezer, you can keep the quality for about 6 months.   I refer to this handbook of food storage safety tips from Real Simple magazine often.  If you can’t keep your lunch in the fridge at work, make sure you’re using icepacks than keep your food chilled until chow time.

Reynolds Heat and EAt disposable containers

As I mentioned, I am digging these Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers (I purchased mine at Walmart on the food storage aisle where you find foil, plastic bag, wax paper, etc.).  Available in two sizes, these toss-away lunch tubs are a great alternative to plastic and are made with plant fibers.  The clear lids allow you to see what you’re grabbing from the fridge, but need to be set aside during the reheating process. Reynolds Heat & Eat disposable container at Walmart

Reynolds Heat & Eat disposable ContainersCheck these out for yourself by picking up a pack of new Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat Containers at your local Walmart – found on the food storage aisle. They are very reasonably priced and you can even save an additional $1.00 on one pack of Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers with this coupon.

Here are some recipes to get you going:

roasted-tomatoes-in-turmeric-sauce“Go for the Gold” Turmeric Hummus  can be tossed with pasta or zucchini noodles for a healthy option to a creamy sauce – another perk is that there is also added protein.

 

 

Beef Blue Cheese Date Jar Salad is full of protein and Iron Super Iron Boosting Beef, Blue Cheese and Date Salad relies on pre-prepped sliced steak from the freezer (or freshly cooked) and layers up nicely in a jar for on-the-go lunching. I’ve even eaten this one in the car!

 

Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa - thefitfork.comMaple Pecan Butternut Quinoa is a delicious fall-inspired salad that can be taken to work or school and eaten warm or cold.  Here’s a little tip, double up when cooking the quinoa for this recipe and bag the rest in the freezer for easy dinners later.

 

Shrimp & Sugar Snap Pea SAlad with Lemon Gremolata easily packs into a lunchbox served cold.Shrimp & Snap Pea Pasta with Lemon Gremolata – This is another dish that is just as good cold as hot. If meal prepping for lunch, I always leave the delicate veggies raw so that when I reheat, they don’t become mushy!

 

 

 

 

15 minute Beef & Veggie Fried RiceBeef & Veggie Fried Rice: I typically use sirloin or flat iron steads for this one, but prepping to eat several days in a row, I will swap up the meats with chicken, shrimp or just simply extra scrambled eggs for protein variety.

 

Don’t forget to GET YOUR $1 OFF COUPON for Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers!

walmart-25-giveawayEnter giveaway for a change to win a $25 Walmart Gift Card so you can try Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers yourself! Ends 10/20/2016 at Midnight CT.

Enter via Rafflecopter app below:

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Healthier Maple Pumpkin Pecan Popcorn + More Fall Favs

Maple Pumpkin Pecan PopcornMaple Pecan Pumpkin Popcorn: So much goodness here, this is a delicious and easy-to-make fall snack. Forget about Cracker Jacks, make your own healthier autumn-inspired version with real maple syrup, a bit of butter and real pumpkin along withthe right spices. Also, did you know you can make your own “clean” popcorn right in the microwave with nothing more than a brown paper lunch sack – that’s how I’ve been doing it for years!  Also, do NOT use maple FLAVORED syrup for this recipes, that would be a nasty, corn-syrupy shame. I love the 100% Organic Maple Syrup from NOW Real Food – it’s a light and delicate-tasting amber syrup that makes me think of a crisp, cool breeze and rustle of leaves with every taste! Recipe for the Healthier Maple Pecan Pumpkin Popcorn at the bottom of the post!

Maple Pumpkin Pecan Popcorn features all the flavors of fall an healthier sugar alternatives!

September PopSugar Must Have Box

September PopSugar Must Have Box

Also wanted to shout out some other this I’m loving this fall season. First, yay for the POPSUGAR, they sent me the September Must Have Box and, it’s definitely a must have! This awesome lifestyle subscription box always knows how to win me over with products that I’ll obviously love (like the GFB Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites) to unexpected surprises (like the Jack & Lucy Black Felt Hat) that I never knew I needed, but now wonder how I ever lived without! And this specially curated box of goodies even makes the practical contents (like the MANI E.R. purse manicure repair kit) super hip and cool.

Jack & Lucy Hat - TheFitFork.com Jennifer Fisher

Jack & Lucy Hat – TheFitFork.com Jennifer Fisher

If you are looking for a unique gift that gives for a month or e even all year, consider giving your bestie a subscription to the POPSUGAR Must Have Box. Use code SHOP5 (which never expires) at checkout to save $5 off your FIRST Must Have Box!

Tommie Copper Compression elbow sleeve

Second, I’m loving Tommie Copper Compression, again . . . as usual!  But this time I’m focused on their compression “sleeves” made for nearly every part and parcel of our limbs! Sometimes I ask a little too much of my bod and not even a rest day can  resolve my minor aches and pains. However, I really dislike being sidelined from training – – that’s why you’ll typically see me in some sort of compression gear. If you’ve ever seen my Instagram feed, you’ll see that I’m a huge fan of compression socks. But I also wear compression sleeves for ankle, knee, wrists, elbow and quads when needed for both during exercise support and post-workout recovery. Personally, I really like the Tommie Copper brand – the targeted compression sleeves are low-profile, unobtrusive and make my muscles, tendons and joints feel good (or at least lessen the feeling that I’ve been run over by a truck)!

Tweet “Maple Pecan Pumpkin Popcorn + Fall Faves @nowfoods @tommiecopper @PopsugarMH #ad”]

Of all the fall foods, what is your favorite? Or at least, favorite fall flavor? Ever try compression gear for anywhere other than your legs or rear? Please share in the comments, XOXO — JEnnifer

 

Maple Pumpkin Pecan Popcorn
Healthier Maple Pumpkin Pecan Popcorn + More Fall Favs
Print Recipe
Fall into fall with Maple Pumpkin Pecan Popcorn, it freatures nearly every iconic flavor of the season! Healthier than store bought caramel corn thanks to wholesome ingredients like maple syrup and stevia baking blend. Also, find out two companies that I've been loving later.
Servings Prep Time
10 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
60 minutes
Servings Prep Time
10 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
60 minutes
Maple Pumpkin Pecan Popcorn
Healthier Maple Pumpkin Pecan Popcorn + More Fall Favs
Print Recipe
Fall into fall with Maple Pumpkin Pecan Popcorn, it freatures nearly every iconic flavor of the season! Healthier than store bought caramel corn thanks to wholesome ingredients like maple syrup and stevia baking blend. Also, find out two companies that I've been loving later.
Servings Prep Time
10 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
60 minutes
Servings Prep Time
10 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
60 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 F degrees.
  2. In small saucepan over medium high, add sugar and syrup and heat for 1 minute until combined. Continue to heat and add butter, pumpkin, salt and pumpkin pie spice, stirring until butter melted and spices incorporated.
  3. Bring to boil, reduce heat and let simmer for approximately 2 minutes until slightly thickening but not turning dark brown
  4. .Add baking soda and stir. It will foam up a bit, continue to stir over the heat for 1 minute.
  5. Remove from heat and immediately pour into large bowl containing popped popcorn. Add pecans. Stir well to coat as evenly as possible.
  6. Spread out mixture on Silpat or parchment covered rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 250F degrees for approximately 45 minutes or until crunchy.
  7. Let cool for 10 minutes and transfer to serving bowl. Store leftovers in airtight container.
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