Healthy Meal Prep – Turkey Taco Salad and Tuna Sushi Roll Bowls

We’re all looking for ways to eat healthier, and meal prepping is one method I’ve found that helps me to save money by avoiding eating out, as well as eating healthier since I’m planning and preparing my own meals.

Turkey Taco Salad is a great recipe that lets you customize your meal for whatever type of diet you follow. If you’re going low-carb, leave out the corn and tortilla chips. Only add vegetables you like. Customize the level of heat in your salsa, and add guacamole if you like, or just plain avocado (or none!).

Simply brown a pound of ground turkey, drain any excess fat and add a packet of taco seasoning (or make your own!). Prep your bowls by adding 1/4 cup of corn and 1/4 cup of black beans to each bowl. Add 1/5 of the turkey to each bowl, then top with shredded cheddar or any other cheese you like. I like to bag my cold ingredients so I can heat up the turkey and let the cheese melt, then mix in the other veggies so the lettuce doesn’t wilt. Throw into sandwich bags your choice of lettuces or other greens, diced tomatoes, sliced avocado or a spoonful of guacamole, a spoonful of salsa and a spoonful of Greek yogurt. Add a dollop of southwest ranch dressing if you like. Each day, pack one bowl and one bag for your lunch. You can take a bag of tortilla chips with you to crumble over the top if you choose.

For the Tuna Sushi Roll Bowls, mix up a quick marinade of Japanese ponzu sauce, a couple drops of sesame oil, 1 tsp. grated ginger and 1 diced garlic clove. Marinate the thawed tuna steaks for at least thirty minutes while you prep the rice. I use a rice cooker so I can “set it and forget it.” White or brown rice is fine – I make enough for three cups cooked. Once the rice is done, it needs to sit out at room temperature to cool down. Whisk in a bowl 1/3 cup rice vinegar, 1/3 cup sugar or agave and 1 1/2 tbsp. salt. Once all the sugar and salt has dissolved, use a wooden spoon to mix the vinegar mixture into the cooled rice. Lay down a layer of rice in each of your bowls, then dice avocado and cucumber and add to the bowls. When your tuna has cooked through, remove it from the oven and let it cool a bit, then add a piece to each bowl. Crumble dried seaweed over each bowl and sprinkle a few dashes of soy sauce (or add that later when you warm your bowl up to eat).

Grab a bowl each day and you’ll have a healthy, inexpensive lunch!

How do you meal prep?

Paris – Finally!

The title of this post has a double meaning. My husband and I took our “grand European anniversary trip” last fall, but it’s only now that I’ve had the time to sit down and give our trip the in-depth posts it’s due. See, nearly as soon as we returned from our trip, holiday planning took over our lives and our days and weekends were filled with children’s holiday events, shopping for gifts and decorating. As soon as Christmas was over, we found a great deal on a bigger home (sorely needed, as our two boys were sharing a room in our old house), and so we began the stressful process of both getting our existing home in shape to sell and making an offer on a new home. We went through a number of twists and turns in the home selling and home buying process, and at the end of March we finally moved into our new home. Since then, nearly every waking hour we’ve had that hasn’t been spent on work or shuffling our kids around to all their activities has been spent unpacking and organizing the house.

The other side of my “finally” headline is the fact that’s it’s taken me so damn long to get to a city I’ve wanted to visit my whole life. Ever since I was a little girl taking ballet classes, Paris has been one of my bucket list cities to visit. Taking French since middle school and being a French minor in college, you’d think I would have gotten there far before now. But no, though I’ve traveled to many places, Paris had never been one of them until our trip last fall.

We touched down at Charles de Gaulle airport around noon on a Sunday after an overnight flight from Dulles. After the 45-minute taxi ride, we arrived at the Hotel Louvre Sainte-Anne, a cute little boutique hotel in the 1er arrondissement within walking distance to the Louvre. Being in “Little Tokyo” meant that there was a plethora of delicious-looking sushi and ramen shops, most tucked into tiny spaces with large windows onto the street. The girl at the front desk recommended we try Toyotomi, a sushi restaurant around the corner. Our sushi rolls were delicious and filling, a great quick lunch before wandering the city.

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On the first Sunday of each month, the Louvre offers free admission, so we walked the few blocks to the museum, taking in the vibe of the city and smelling chestnuts roasting (street vendors sell these in the fall and winter). While the rest of the city was not overly crowded, free admission to the most famous museum in Paris drew quite a crowd. We roamed the Denon Wing to see the “must see’s”:  the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory, the Venus de Milo. The further we got from those works, the thinner the crowds were, so we had a chance to explore a bit.

Besides the paintings, the Louvre houses some of the most beautiful sculptures in the world.

In the basement of the Louvre is an interesting Islamic Art exhibit that houses art and cultural objects from 1,300 years of history throughout the Middle East, Europe and Southeast Asia.

After the Louvre, we walked across the Seine to Notre Dame de Paris, arguably the most famous cathedral in the world. Construction of the gothic church began in 1163 and finished in 1345. It was one of the first buildings in the world to use flying buttresses to counterbalance the weight of the roof and walls. Heavily trafficked by Catholic pilgrims and other tourists from around the world, Notre Dame is guarded by heavily-armed French military following the string of terrorist attacks in the city. Indeed, other areas of the city, from the Eiffel Tower to the streets of the 11me arrondissement, were patrolled by soldiers carrying automatic rifles. It’s a feeling that’s somehow comforting and disconcerting at the same time.

Right around the corner from Notre Dame is the best ice cream shop in Paris, le Berthillon. Offering rotating, seasonal varieties, as well as dessert crepes and pastries, this shop has been in the same location for over sixty years. If Rum Raisin is on the menu, you must give it a try!

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Walking back to our hotel, we stopped to grab a sandwich for dinner. In Paris, long, thin sandwiches on baguettes are common. They’re topped with vegetables and meats and often melted slices of cheese. When nowhere else is open for dinner, you can be sure a kebab shop will have sandwiches, kebabs, crepes and a variety of drinks. We stopped at Creperie Doner Kebab d’Opera.

A l’Heure du Vin was a tiny wine shop near our hotel that had a range of excellent wines and spirits from France and Italy. After a long day filled with traveling and exploring, our hotel room window was the perfect spot to chill our white wine in the November night.

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More to come! Tell me about your last trip to Paris, or your dreams for exploring the city.

Three Magazines I’m Reading This Spring

Having the hard work of fixing a house up to sell behind us and having completed our move into our new home, I finally have a few minutes to relax and unwind. Lately I’ve discovered a couple of new favorite magazines, and re-discovered an old favorite:

I admit to a *slight* obsession with Fixer Upper on HGTV. Honestly, it wasn’t until Joanna Gaines brought her vision of rustic industrial furnishings to the masses that I realized that the home decor style I’d always loved was a “thing” now. This just so happened to coincide with the decision my husband and I made to buy a new home, and loading more than half of our stuff into a POD to stage our house so we could sell it really made me realize how much more simply and intentionally we wanted to live in our new home. A subscription to Magnolia Journal is only $20 a year for four issues.

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Kismet led me to discover Faerie Magazine when I came across a Tumblr post recently listing a number of interesting magazines to check out. It’s right up my alley, filled with articles on warriors and goddesses, an interview with Rasputina, information on gemstones and myths and recipes of golden apples. The magazine is published quarterly, and back issues are available on the website.

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Each time I travel to the mountains, whether it’s for work or for fun, I always pick up a copy of Edible Blue Ridge magazine. Of all the local versions of Edible magazine I’ve come across, the Blue Ridge one is the best. It’s always chock full of information on local food and beverage producers, and covers regional restaurants, food events and more. You can get your subscription delivered to your home, or you can pick it up at one of the many outlets throughout the region where it’s free to grab.

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What are your favorite magazines? Tell me in the comments below and I’ll pick one lucky winner by May 15 to win a yearlong subscription to The Magnolia Journal.

 

 

A new look

2017 has been a year of change, and in that vein I’ve decided to make some changes to my blog. While my obsession with culinary history continues, I wanted to open this blog up to be more of a lifestyle blog reflecting who I am and the things I love, from food and recipes to music, movies, clothes, home decor and more.

It’s no secret that I’ve been drawn to a darker aesthetic since I was a teenager, but what happens when you’re goth af on the inside, but you’re married, have kids and a career and live in the ‘burbs?

From the Wikipedia: Southern gothic is “a subgenre of gothic fiction in American literature that takes place in the American South.” Themes that are typical in Southern Gothic literature “include deeply flawed, disturbing or eccentric characters who may or may not dabble in hoodoo,ambivalent gender roles, decayed or derelict settings, grotesque situations, and other sinister events relating to or stemming from poverty, alienation, crime, or violence.”

For me, the Southern Gothic aesthetic encompasses urban and rural decay, melancholy music, rustic industrial decor, antiques and found objects, the spectre of history looming large and, my favorite part, the note of eccentricity that’s the hallmark of people who don’t fit into boxes. Imagine walking down a deserted Southern country lane, the air heavy with humidity and the scent of magnolia, as you explore a roadside antique shop or graveyard.

Join me as I share my obsessions and explore the Southern Gothic aesthetic.

What’s on the horizon: the promised recap of my anniversary Europe trip with my husband, antiquing in the mountains of Virginia, music, favorite recipes and more.

 

Incredible Europe Trip Recap

For the first two weeks in November, my husband and I traveled to Europe for a whirlwind trip celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary. We visited France, Germany and Holland, and stopped over in Iceland on our way back to the States. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing in-depth recaps from each of the cities we visited. Here’s a small taste of our itinerary:

Paris, France

 

Reims, France

Colmar/Alsace, France

Ingolstadt, Germany

Rothenburg, Wurzburg and Frankfurt, Germany

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Reykjavik, Iceland

Look for my in-depth travelogue blog posts in the coming weeks, and enjoy following our trip!

A Grand Adventure

I haven’t been blogging as regularly as usual, but I do have an excuse! I’ve been working on arranging all the details of my husband’s and my next grand adventure: a 12-day trip across France, Germany and the Netherlands with a stopover in my favorite place, Iceland, on the way home. We’ll be visiting Paris, the Champagne region, Alsace, southern Germany and Amsterdam on our trip, and I’ll be blogging about all the food and drinks we discover as we travel.

Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr for updates and photos from our trip. If you have suggestions for sights to see, please leave them in the comments below.

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Crockpot Comfort Food for Fall

One of my favorite crockpot dishes for fall offers an Indian twist on a fall favorite – sweet potatoes. Adding green or red lentils and cooking in coconut oil amp up the healthiness of this hearty dish.

Curries come from India, where chefs prepare flavorful blends of spices, herbs and chiles to cook with vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, chickpeas and lentils. Various proteins are made into curries as well, like chicken, lamb and goat. Commercial curry powders began to be produced in the 18th century, as British colonial government and military members desired a quick spice blend to cook the dishes they’d enjoyed in India. Curries are often wet, meaning the vegetables and meats are cooked in a thick sauce. Rice or naan bread is served to sop up the sauce.

Start by sauteeing your onion and ginger over medium heat.

Once that gets soft and flavorful, you can take it off the heat and add it to your crockpot. Next, add in your peeled, diced sweet potato, carrots and peas (if you like) and your spices.  Cover the mixture with vegetable broth and let it cook on high for two hours or on low for six hours.

Once the mixture has cooked down, I like to mash it with a potato masher until it gets to a smoother, stew-like consistency.  I have it with basmati rice, and I usually freeze some for later.  This dish is delicious and filling, a great work lunch for fall to pull out and heat up quickly.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

1 1/2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup dried green or red lentils
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 small bag frozen peas and carrots
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder or 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth