Healthy meal prepping – Tilapia style!

Meal prepping is all the talk now because it helps you succeed in making healthy choices. So, get yourself a large pack of Tilapia and a bunch of veggies, and you’ll be set for the week. Here’s how I did it:

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 pieces of Tilapia – a large package sold at the large discount stores works well
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, cut in half
  • 12 -15 or so spears of asparagus, trimmed to remove the thick bottom half
  • 10 – 15 Brussels sprouts, halved and with outer layer peeled off
  • 1 small onion, cut into 6-8 wedges
  • 20 – 25 baby carrots
  • 1 head of broccoli, trimmed into florets
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sprinkling of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to your liking

To make the fish:

  • Lay out the fish on two large dinner plates, so they don’t overlap
  • Sprinkle the top lightly with cayenne pepper and black pepper
  • Add a little salt if you like, but I leave it out

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  • Preheat 2 large skillets at medium-high (7 out of 10) for about a minute
  • Split 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, putting about 1/2 Tbsp in each hot skillet
  • Let warm for another minute

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  • Tilt the pan around a bit to get the olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan as completely as possible
  • Place the Tilapia, seasoned side down, filling each pan
    • Note – Don’t crowd the fish in the pan. I put 3 – 4 pieces in each pan, depending on size. I saved some fish for a second round of cooking. Don’t worry, it cooks fast!
  • Let cook for 3 minutes on the first side
    • Note, if you have a very small, thin piece, use your good judgement. It may need to cook less than the thicker pieces.

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  • Flip each piece of fish. Be careful to get the full piece of fish under your spatula. Tilapia is very flaky and will break apart when turning if you’re not careful. Don’t worry if it breaks though, it’s still delicious!

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  • Turn down the stove to about a 6 out of 10.
  • Cook on the second side for two minutes.
  • Remove from pan.
    • Note: If you need to cook an extra round of fish, add some more olive oil to one pan and repeat the process above, only cooking for two minutes on the first side this time around – your pan is REALLY hot at this point, and your fish will cook quicker!
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For the veggies:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  • Place all veggies on a large cookie sheet
  • Pour 1 – 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil over the top of the veggies
  • Sprinkle with a very healthy dose of fresh-ground black pepper
  • Sprinkle with salt if you’d like, but I leave it out

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  • Bake for 25 minutes, then remove from oven

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Store leftovers in the fridge and serve for dinner a couple of nights, or split into several containers for lunches throughout the week. Pair with healthy side choices, such as rice (I like the 90-second microwavable kind), fruits and veggies for a healthy-choice lunch!

Grilled steak, his and hers

In the interest of full disclosure, you need to do a little planning for this one – it marinates for two days to make the steak amazing!

How can you make meals you and your mate will both enjoy without cooking two separate meals? Serve what you cook two different ways!

Tonight, I made marinated, grilled steak. For my husband, I roasted some baby potatoes to go with the steak and gave him a regular green salad to mix in some veg. For myself, I played off the taste of the steak with the very best flavor accents I could think of – avocado, tomato, and blue cheese.

For the steak:

  • Put steak in a gallon-size zipper bag with:
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1/4 tsp. pepper
    • 1/8 tsp. salt
    • 2 tsp. Italian herbs
  • Marinate 48 hours. Just before grilling, blot the steak with a paper towel. This will reduce the amount of oil on your meat and prevent your grill from flaring up when you put the steak on. Grill on low to medium-low for 3 minutes on each side. My grill cooks hot, so I always use low.
  • Test for doneness, and put back on if you’d like your meat more done. Here’s what mine looked like – about medium.

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For the potatoes:

  • Place potatoes in a foil pie dish
  • Top with:
    • 1 large or two small cloves chopped garlic
    • 2 tsp. olive oil
    • 1 Tbsp. butter, cubed and separated
    • 1 two-inch sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
    • a very light sprinkle of salt
    • a generous sprinkling of pepper

Cover tightly with foil and grill on low  to medium-low for 20 minutes.

Before and after

Here’s a quick video on one technique for chopping garlic:

For the salad:

  • Place some washed and chopped romaine in a shallow bowl
  • Slice 1/4 avocado, a small tomato, and a 5-6 pieces of steak, then layer on top of the romaine, rotating between the 3 ingredients
  • Top with 1 Tbsp. blue cheese crumbles
  • Add some light ranch, or whatever dressing you prefer

Make sure you get a little of each ingredient in every bite to make it perfect!

Sweet, roasted butternut squash

And a video that’s a little scary, but funny and so helpful!

I used this recipe as a side with meatloaf, and it was sweet and yummy. It’s very simple:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F
  • Peel a butternut squash with your vegetable peeler – this isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be pretty!
  • Cube your butternut squash, using this semi-crazy tip to make the initial cut:

  • Put the squash cubes in a 9X12 baking dish, then sprinkle with:
    • a drizzle of olive oil, about 1 Tbsp.
    • a small handful of dried cranberries
    • 1 Tbsp. of butter – just break it up with your hands and drop the pieces around the dish (germs cook away at 400 degrees F!)
    • 1-2 Tbsp. brown sugar, depending on how sweet you like things
    • a small amount of rosemary – about 1 tsp. fresh or 1/2 tsp. dry
  • Stir then bake uncovered for 30 minutes

This recipe would also work wonderfully with acorn squash or sweet potatoes!

Weird Chicken and rainbows: They’re what’s for dinner!

Weird Chicken is one of my favorite dishes. I’ve been making it for years and have served it to many. It’s always a hit. I found the recipe in a fundraising cookbook put out by a company I used to work for. A woman I worked with contributed the recipe – thanks Nancy! And, paired with these rainbow veggies, it’s a complete and delicious meal.

Promise me you won’t be afraid of the prunes or olives. Baked prunes are tastier than raw prunes and, while I don’t like olives, I like the flavor they lend to the marinade and just eat around them.

Tips:

  • I use 3 chicken breasts in a 9X6 glass baking pan. This allows the marinade to cover the chicken almost completely. Not only does this help the chicken marinate better, but it also keeps it juicy while cooking, and reduces cooking time – the chicken boils in the marinade while it also bakes.
  • If you need to cook more chicken and use a bigger pan, double the marinade for best results.
  • I think chicken tastes better sliced thin. If cooking for a crowd, I like to slice all the chicken, place it on a platter, then spoon the marinade, prunes, and olives over the top to serve.
  • Try the prunes and chicken together. It’s definitely “weird” but it’s also delicious.

Weird Chicken:

  • Place chicken breasts in a baking dish.
  • Add
    • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 3 bay leaves
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
    • 2 tablespoons oregano
    • 1/2 cup green olives
    • 1 cup prunes
    • 3/4 cup white wine
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 olive oil
    • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • Cover the dish and marinate in the fridge, at least overnight. 24 hours is better.
  • Pull out the dish and uncover to allow it to come to room temperature while the oven preheats – it just helps it get up to temp a little better in the oven (Optional – add 1/4 cup more brown sugar on top before baking, but I think the dish is amazing without the extra sugar).
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • When preheated, place the dish in the oven (uncovered) and bake for 35 – 40 minutes.

(Before and after)

  • Test the chicken for doneness
    • Cut into the thickest part of the biggest chicken breast. The chicken should be white. You should not see any pink, and the meat should not look shiny at all. This is what you’re looking for:
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      If this is not what you see, put the pan back in the oven for 5 more minutes, then test again.

Rainbow Roasted Veggies:

To a 9×12 baking dish, add:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 red onion, peeled, halved, then quartered (8 pieces)
  • 1 lb. brussel sprouts (a little either way is totally fine)
  • 20 or so grape tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped, fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped, fresh rosemary
    ( use dried herbs if that’s what you have, just use less – it’s FINE!)
  • Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes
  • Uncover and cook for 20 minutes more
  • Test for doneness
    • Stick a sharp knife into several veggie pieces. If it goes into each piece easily, with little to no resistance, your veggies are done. If not, put the dish back in the oven for 5 more minutes, then retest.

Enjoy! May your chicken always be weird, and may you always eat rainbows!