Clean Eating: A Weekly Meal Plan

Clean Eating: A Weekly Meal Plan

As the world opens back up, I feel like I have been traveling, eating and drinking alcohol so much more than I have for the past 14 months. Although it has been great to see friends and family again and get back to the things we used to do, the recent over-indulgences have left me feeling bloated, tired and achey. To reset myself, I decided to eliminate alcohol, coffee, gluten and processed foods for one week.

One of my all time favorite things in life is a piece of peanut butter toast in the morning. I love sourdough bread, but I decided to swap gluten for protein this week so for breakfast, I alternated between my favorite yogurt bowl: Fage O% Milk Fat yogurt, Kind Granola, cinnamon and local honey and eggs with freshly made salsa.

For lunch I mixed it up by making a smoothie or ordering from Sweet Green or Chipotle and I decided to get the most creative with my dinners for the week. I didn’t realize it, but Will and I normally eat quite a bit of gluten so it was a bit of a challenge to eliminate that for a week of meals. Since I never know what our weekends will bring, I only plan meals Monday through Thursday night, here’s a look at what I made for the week!

The Defined Dish Mushroom Lettuce Cups

Monday Dinner: The Defined Dish Mushroom Lettuce Cups. Will and I absolutely LOVED this recipe. It was so easy to cook (and clean up) and it was surprising filling. I had three and I lost count of how many Will had..maybe seven? I’d highly recommend these if you’re wanting to eat clean or eliminate meat and fish.

Build Your Own Taco Salad Night

Tuesday Dinner: Taco Salad Night! I think this was my favorite meal of the week. For our taco salad, I used chopped romaine lettuce, taco meat (2 lbs. ground beef cooked with half of a diced white onion, salt, pepper, 1 tbsp. chili powder, 1tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. oregano), shredded cheese and black olives. Instead of using salad dressing which can be highly processed, I got a freshly made salsa from Central Market and topped the salad with my homemade guacamole (3 avocados, half of a diced white onion, 1 diced jalapeño, 1 tbsp. Maldon salt, 1/2 of a lime squeezed and topped with chopped cilantro.)

We also loved this meal and I served it as a “build your own taco salad” so I got to make mine exactly how I wanted and Will got to do the same for his. Super easy to make, filling and very healthy.

The Defined Dish’s Mongolian Chicken

Wednesday Dinner: The Defined Dish’s Mongolian Chicken with a carrot ginger spring salad. I’ve always loved Mongolian Beef, but had never heard about Mongolian Chicken until I saw it from the Defined Dish. As with all of Alex’s meals, it was amazing and SO easy to clean up…another one of her one pot wonders.

Because Will and I normally have some sort of a starch with our meals, I just made more chicken than I normally would and more salad to make sure we were both full and it worked out perfectly.

Broccoli with Grilled Chicken and homemade Alfredo sauce

Thursday Dinner: Broccoli with grilled chicken and homemade Alfredo sauce. By Thursday, I was ready for some comfort food so rather than making my favorite fettuccine Alfredo, I swapped the noodles for broccoli. I never use store-bought Alfredo sauce and I’m not saying my homemade sauce is light, but it is not heavily processed.

To make the sauce, heat 1/2 stick of butter in a sauté pan over low heat and add in 1 cup of heavy whipping cream–let simmer for five minutes. Slowly whisk in 1 and 1/2 cups of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Finally add in 2 tbsp. chopped Italian Parsley, 2 cloves of chopped garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

By the end of the week, I felt refreshed, my skin looked clear and dewey and I lost three pounds. How have you stayed healthy as life gets back to normal? Leave me a comment and let me know!

XO,

Brit

Weekly Meal Planning

Weekly Meal Planning

Meal planning–which is different than meal prepping, has changed my life completely and has made it better both physically and financially. Rather than cooking all of my meals for the week on Sunday and then putting them into containers to eat throughout the week, I just plan what I’m going to make throughout the week and make a concise grocery list. By being organized about what I’m going to eat and buy, I rarely waste food and save a lot of money.

Every Sunday I meal plan for our family. I start by pulling out my cookbooks to get inspiration for the meals I will cook during the week, then I take a look at what I already have in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer and finally, I make my list. I usually only plan meals Monday-Thursday because by the end of the week I’m tired and want to go out for dinner or we might have plans.

Once I’ve decided on what I’ll be cooking for the week, I make my list and try to organize it by where each item is located in the store. For example, I put all vegetables together, all meats and fish together, etc. By doing this, I can clearly see what I need from each area so I don’t end up at the register and realize I have forgotten the zucchini I need for my meal one night.

Make your list and check it twice! My sister-in-law got me these grocery notecards from Katie & Co. in Houston and I am so in love with them!

I started getting passionate about meal planning when I moved to Houston seven years ago. First and foremost, I had gained 15 lbs. from eating out too much and I was also looking to save money because I pretty much made no money at my first job in Houston, Neiman Marcus. Through meal planning, I actually learned to cook pretty well and it has become a hobby and passion of mine. Meal planning really saved us during the first months of the pandemic because I was able to get creative with what food we did have and make really delicious meals.

I live for the produce section at Central Market…my happy place.

I think it’s essential to have a plan when you go to the store. I don’t have a lot of free time so I don’t want to have to go to the store multiple times a week. By making a well-thought out list, you can save yourself a ton of time and money by not buying things you don’t need or forgetting things you really do need.

Voila! All done with grocery shopping for the week!

The best part of meal planning is that once you’re done with the shopping, all of your hard work is over for the week (in terms of food.) There’s no last-minute stress about what you’re going to make or do for the family because that’s all done…you just have to cook it!

Happy cooking, friends! I hope you all have a happy and healthy week ahead of you!

XO,

Brit

Amazon Favorites

Amazon Favorites

Amazon has become such a staple in my life over the past year. From coffee to clothes, I buy so much more than I ever thought I would from the online superstore because it is just SO easy, cheap and cute. Every few months I do a refresh and lately, I’m loving all things green, blue and white.

I used to think it was really important to buy designer sunglasses, but now I think that is crazy. These Celine dupe sunglasses look amazing and it’s ok if you misplace them or something happens to them because you can get two for $20! Such a steal and a great staple for spring. Another must have accessory is this layered initial necklace. I bought mine last month and have been wearing it non-stop and have gotten a ton of compliments on it.

Loving my new sunnies and this necklace set.

Amazon has so many cute clothes right now! I love this white midi dress and this blue patterned dress…it looks like a Bell dress, but for 1/10th of the price. I’m having a green obsession this spring so I snapped up this scalloped edge mint green bikini which would be great paired with this white flowy cover up and also love these sage green leggings. I have both styles in other colors from last year, but the green versions are to die for!

If you’re looking to update your spring shoe collection, you don’t want to miss out on these tan bow flip flops or these Amina Muadi look-alikes. I got a pair of the bow flip flops last fall and have been wearing them every chance I get. They are perfect for the beach, running around and could even be shower shoes for the gym or dorm room as they are entirely waterproof.

These tan bow flip flops are a must for spring and under $20.

If you’ve been following along for a while, you’ll know that I gave up coffee a few years ago to help ease my acid reflux. But over the last year, I have been treating myself to an occasional Blue Bottle iced coffee. I usually buy these little cans at Central Market, but you can also get them at Whole Foods or on Amazon. They are just the best. I serve mine with whole milk and over ice in this BPA-free tumbler and then usually head out for a long walk with Charlie.

To get organized this year, I ordered this Van Gogh Starry Night inspired Planner. It’s a little kooky, but I actually really love it! I love the binder size and the layout is perfect for me. I’ve also been slightly perturbed by the prices of planners lately like Erin Condren and Bando. It should not cost $50 or $100 to get organized. This planner is just $7!! Another life-hack tool I’m loving right now is the Üllo wine purifier. I am allergic to sulfates so wine can be dangerous for me because it is traditionally packed with sulfates for preservation. The Üllo wine purifier is said to filter out all of the sulfates so I’m really hoping it does!

I cannot say enough good things about this planner!! Under $7 and has the best built-in organization tools.

What are your favorite things on Amazon?! Leave me a comment and let me know!!

XO,

Brit

Super Bowl LV: Healthy Eating at Home

Super Bowl LV: Healthy Eating at Home

Tom Brady, the Chiefs and The Weeknd…could I ask for a better Super Bowl lineup? I have had a crush on Tom Brady since middle school and the Chiefs are my favorite team in the NFL so I will be cheering for both teams this Sunday and eagerly anticipating The Weeknd’s performance. Since we’ll be celebrating from home, I’m making my favorite chili, guacamole and buffalo chicken wings for me and my husband to snack on for the big game.

Since I went to two years of high school in Kansas and my parents lived there for more than a decade, I consider myself a Chief’s fan and I love game day at Arrowhead!

To start off our Super Bowl celebrations, I will be whipping up a big bowl of my favorite guacamole. I stumbled upon this creation one day when I was out of red onion and tomato so instead I used white onion and no tomato and it ended up being the best guacamole I’ve ever made.

Because of the cooler weather, I think Chili is perfect to cook for Super Bowl Sunday. For whatever reason, I prefer to use pinto beans for my chili so it’s a little bit different, but I love it. You can warm up some tortillas or biscuits for dipping and top the chili with sour cream, cheese and green onions. We also love buffalo chicken wings in our household. I get the pre-marinated buffalo chicken wings from Central Market and cook them at 450 degrees and 20 minutes on each side. I know this sounds a little aggressive, but they get so crispy and delicious.

And of course chicken wings! I buy mine pre-marinated and cook them on a wire rack and baking sheet at 450 degrees for 20 minutes on each side.

I love how all of these foods are great for snacking on throughout the day and they are exactly unhealthy. What are you cooking this weekend for the Super Bowl and who are you cheering for?

XO,

Brit

Chicken Night at Home

Chicken Night at Home

Chicken Night has become a staple in the McAshan household during quarantine. I originally got the idea from our country club in Houston–every Thursday night, the club had “Chicken Night” where they would have a buffet of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, Mac and cheese, fried okra and gravy. When we moved to Austin at the beginning of quarantine, I decided to make a *somewhat* healthier version of Chicken Night at home.

I make two versions of chicken for our Chicken Nights–Honey Chipotle Chicken and Honey Garlic Chicken. I serve both our favorite salad from HEB. When I make the Honey Chipotle Chicken, I serve it with Mac and cheese and when I make the Honey Garlic Chicken, I serve it with Basmati rice.

Although these aren’t the healthiest meals ever, they are comfort foods that my husband enjoys and having a staple each week for dinner makes my meal planning a lot easier.

Since I know I’ll be making a version of Chicken Night each week, I always have Panko, HEB Basmati Rice, Annie’s Mac and Cheese, honey, San Marcos Chipotle Peppers, Crystal Hot Sauce, ketchup, liquid aminos, corn starch, chicken tenders and HEB Cracked Pepper Caesar salad stocked in my house.

The chicken recipes are pretty much the same other than the flour mixtures and sauces. To prep my tenders, I set up an assembly line starting with the pounded tenders, buttered sheet pan and three bowls for dipping the chicken in–starting with the flour mixture, the lightly beaten eggs and finally the panko.

Voila!

Happy cooking friends, I hope you enjoy Chicken Night as much as we do!

XO,

Brit

Date Night at Home

Date Night at Home

If you would have asked me a year ago what my favorite thing to do was, I would have instantly answered, “going out to dinner!” I love trying new restaurants and cuisines, but lately, I prefer cooking at home. I’m not sure whether its because of COVID or our new puppy, but I love being at home so our date nights have transitioned from going to our favorite restaurants to cooking at home as a family.

Tonight our menu was inspired by The Defined Dish’s Pan-Roasted Blackened Cajun Chicken. Alex warned us in her stories last night that getting boneless chicken breasts with the skin on might be a challenge, but the butchers at Central Market were happy to help me this morning, they were even excited to know what I was making!

When you’re at your local grocery store or meat market, just ask the butcher for boneless chicken breasts with skin. It’s not really common, but if you ask nicely, they’ll be happy to help.

When I saw Alex posting about this meal last night, I just knew we had to make it. Last year, my husband and I spent some time in the French countryside and ever since, I have such a new appreciation for chicken. The recipe Alex shared was inspired by the Cajun Chicken entree at Le Bilbouquet…one of my all time favorite restaurants. I’ve never had this dish in the restaurant, but I definitely will next time I go!

I paired our dinner tonight with a medium-bodied French red wine. I think the seasoning on the chicken paired so well with this wine!

For our date night, we started off with a little cheese board when Will got home from work. I kept it pretty simple, but used my favorite ingredients. Central Market makes my FAVORITE crackers, the rosemary crostini crackers…they are a game changer so I started out with those, selected a basil pesto goat cheese and a blue cheese, peppered salami and holiday grapes to round out my board. I like to drizzle local honey over my blue cheese because I think it gives it a really nice balance.

A little cheese board for our appetizer

For our salad, I made a version of a childhood favorite. I diced an apple, crumbled some goat cheese, added a dash of salt and pepper and mixed it with butter lettuce and a spring mix. I drizzled Garlic Expressions over it.

For our main entree, I served the pan-roasted chicken with oven frites and my mixed salad.

Pan-Roasted Blackened Cajun Chicken with Oven Frites

by Alex Snodgrass – The Defined Dish

Pan Roasted Blackened Chicken

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 lbs boneless, skin-on chicken breasts about 1 1/4 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon avacado oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine substitute chicken broth plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon arrowroot starch
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or whole 30 use ghee
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Oven Frites

  • 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes or 2 large potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS 

Pan-Roasted Blackened Cajun Chicken

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • in a small bowl, combine the salt,pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, paprika, rosemary, and oregano. Set aside.
  • Pat the chicken breasts dry and season the skin side with half the spice mixture.
  • in a medium oven-safe skillet, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat until just starting to smoke. Carefully lay out the chicken breasts into the hot skillet skin side down. Cook without moving until the skin is deep golden brown and very crisp, about 6 minutes. While cooking season the second side of the chicken with the remaining spice mixture. Carefully flip the chicken breasts and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake until cooked through, or when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breasts registers 150 degrees, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and set aside, reserving the pan juices in the skillet.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the wine, chicken broth, and arrowroot and whisk until the arrowroot dissolves. Set aside.
  • Pour off all but about 1 teaspoon of the fat from the skillet and place the pan over high heat. Add the garlic along with the wine mixture, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook, stirring until the sauce is reduces by two -thirds, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add butter and the lemon and allow the butter to just melt. Stir to combine. Taste the pan sauce and season with more salt and pepper, if desired.
  • Slice the chicken breasts and serve on individual plates. Spoon plenty of pan sauce over the slice chicken and serve with the oven frites.

Oven Frites

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Scrub the potatoes well, then cut them lengthwise into 1/2 inch wide fries.
  • Place the fries in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper until evenly coated.
  • Spread the fries across the prepared baking sheet in a single layer (you may need two baking sheets to ensure they are in a single layer and have plenty of room to crisp up).
  • Bake in the oven until potatoes are golden brown all over and crisp, about 30 minutes (and no, you do not need to toss during the cooking time at all).

This dinner was amazing!! My husband and I both loved it and were pretty impressed with just how good it was. The chicken was full of flavor and moist, the oven frites were excellent ( I roasted mine for about 45 minutes because I like them extra crispy) and we loved the salad!

What are y’all doing for your date nights this week?! Leave me a comment and let me know!!

XO,

Brit

Brit’s Pantry Staples

Brit’s Pantry Staples

Are you one of the one in five Americans who prefer cooking at home? Even before the coronavirus pandemic caused thousands of restaurants to close and forced people around the world to stay home, a survey published in February of 2020, found that a large portion of Americans prefer cooking at home to have more control over their budget and their health.

I began cooking regularly after I moved to Houston. Although going out to dinner has always been one of my favorite things, something about the portion sizes and type of food I was eating caused me to gain 15 pounds in a two month period. After I started cooking for myself, the weight I had gained began to drop off naturally. As someone who baked a lot growing up, but never cooked much, I had a lot to learn. One of the biggest things to think about when you begin your cooking journey is to have a fully-stocked pantry.

My pantry must-haves!

When I think of my pantry, I think of it in four different categories–spices, baking, starches and sauces.

Spices: The spices you use can make or break a dish. Outside of salt and pepper, paprika is my most used spice. The items I have listed below are my go-to spices.

Salt, Pepper, Paprika, Oregano, Cayenne Pepper, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Red Pepper Flakes

Baking: I definitely have the baking bug. From brownies and blondies to chocolate cakes and scones, I love baking! It relaxes me and makes me feel so accomplished when the sweet treats I bake turn out well. Because I do bake on a regular basis, I always need to have lots of flour and sugar on hand. Outside of my baking, many of these ingredients are also needed for the savory cooking I do so I always make sure I have these items around.

Flour, Panko Bread Crumbs, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Corn Starch, Vanilla, Chocolate Chips, PB2

Starches: It’s always important to have starches stocked in your pantry. I probably use rice most often…maybe two to three times a week so I always have lots of rice in my pantry. I also keep Annie’s Mac and Cheese because my husband loves it and regular pasta on hand to complete dishes.

Rice, Pasta, Mac and Cheese, Chick Peas, Black Beans

Sauces: When I think of sauces, I’m really thinking of the ingredients I need to make sauces. These ingredients can be used for making so many different sauces and are required in many of the recipes I make.

Tomato Paste, Local Honey, Coconut Aminos, Rotel, Crystal Hot Sauce, Hatch Diced Chiles, Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, Rice Vinegar, Fish Sauce, Red Wine Vinegar, Olive Oil , Vegetable Oil, Anchovy Paste, Beef Stock, Chicken Broth

Not mentioned in my list: my aprons! I love cooking in my aprons. Many of them were gifts or something I bought on a trip so these aprons always bring back fun memories for me and keep my clothes clean when the oil in the kitchen is flying!

What are your pantry must-haves? Let me know what you think of my list and happy cooking!

XO,

Brit

Easy Red Coconut Curry

Easy Red Coconut Curry

Even though we are in quarantine and I am home all of the time, I still feel like my weekdays are crazy busy! Because of that, I love cooking healthy, one-pot meals throughout the week. Tonight I’m making my favorite red coconut curry recipe from Averie Cooks.

Thai food has always been one of my favorite cuisines and after living in Houston, Texas, for the better part of a decade, I got pretty spoiled when it came to getting the best Thai food or really any kind of food just down the street. My husband and I recently moved to Austin in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic so we know a little bit about the food scene here, but definitely not as well as we knew our favorites in Houston. Today I was craving curry, so I decided to make this delicious recipe instead of ordering-in.

All the ingredients you will need for the coconut curry recipe.

I’ve made this recipe about 10 times and I’ve decided the only red curry paste I like to use for it is the Exotic Thai Red Curry Paste. I’ve tried a few other brands and it really makes or breaks this dish if you don’t get a good paste.

The creator of this recipe, Averie Cooks, claims this fresh, nutrient-rich recipe is only 141 calories per serving. I serve my curry over rice so of course that number will go up. One cup of rice is generally 160 calories so you will be at 300 calories for one serving of this dish, which is amazing!

Not only is this dish healthy, but it is SO easy to make, you can make it all in one pan and it only takes about 20 minutes, which means you’ll have an easy clean up too!

Let me know what you think and if you try this recipe out!

XO,

Brit