A (Few) Week(s) in Greek

On my Instagram account, I usually end up sharing the random breakfasts and lunch I throw together while simultaneously trying to do a million other things. Oftentimes it seems that yogurt — and more often than not higher-protein Greek yogurt — tends to be at the center of or at least plays some part in those meals. Here are a few of my favorites from the last few months, rounded up with (semi) recipes to help you make them yourself at home.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt (for Breakfast OR Dessert)

2 parts Greek yogurt (I used 2% plain Chobani) + 1 part fresh berries + 1 proportionate drizzle of sweetener, like agave

Combine, blend (in a food processor or with a stick blender), freeze, stir every hour until mostly frozen. Scoop.

Greek Yogurt with Berries and Graham Cracker

1 serving Greek yogurt (I used 2% plain Chobani) + 1 cup berries of choice + 2 graham crackers, crumbled (I used Shar gluten-free honeygrams)

Scoop. Top. Crumble.

Coconut Greek Yogurt with Berries and Granola

1 6oz container coconut Greek yogurt (I used 2% coconut Chobani) + 1/2 cup blueberries + 1/4 cup raspberries + 1/4 cup granola (I used vanilla Udi’s granola)

Key Lime Pie for Cheaters

1/2 6oz container key lime Greek yogurt + 2 graham crackers, crumbled (I used Sharr gluten-free graham crackers)

Just crumble the crackers over the yogurt.

Creamy Pesto Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt + 1 tablespoon pesto (homemade or store bought)

Mix until smooth. Dip whatever you want — I went with a veggie “quesadilla.”

Creamy Smoothie Bowl

1 thick fruit-only smoothie of your choice + 1 scoop plain Greek yogurt + chia seeds, honey/agave, cinnamon, any other toppings you want

Blend, swirl, sprinkle. Eat from a bowl.

Key Lime-Banana-Blueberry Waffle

1 frozen waffle, toasted + 1/2 cup blueberries + 1/2 banana, sliced + 1/2 6oz container key lime Greek yogurt (I used 2% Chobani)

Berry-Coconut Breakfast Waffle

1 frozen waffle, toasted + 1 scoop yogurt (Greek or regular work, any flavor or brand) + 1 cup blueberries + 1/2 banana, sliced + 2 tablespoons toasted coconut

Toast, top, sprinkle.

Oat-Yogurt Mess Bowl

1 cup yogurt + 1/4 cup raw plain quick oats + 1 banana, sliced + cinnamon + peanut butter + agave/honey (optional)

Mix it all together, or make it pretty like this! (Yogurt on the bottom, oats in the middle, banana around the sides, cinnamon and PB all over.)

Dilly Veggie Dip
1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt + 1 teaspoon lemon juice + 1/2 teaspoon dried dill

Mix, eat with veggies.

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A Random Revelation: Why I Learned to Love Cooking

I was 21, and my diet consisted mostly of mac and cheese, bagels, pasta, and sandwiches of various types. Don’t get me wrong — I packed plenty of vegetables and protein into those carb-heavy meals, and I knew the basics of throwing a meal together. But, like any other typical college student, wheat was a big part of my diet, even if I didn’t notice it. It was just there.

So when I found out I had to get rid of all that wheat from my diet — hello, Celiac — it was a little overwhelming. Whaat? I can’t go grab a turkey sandwich for lunch between classes? No bagels with cream cheese? No sausage, egg, and cheese on a croissant every Saturday morning to cure my inevitable hangover? Shit.

Instagram_inpostWhat followed  was a months long (err… years long? Ongoing?) challenge to identify every source of gluten in my diet, eliminate them all, and somehow find a way to replace them all with other wholesome, healthy-to-me foods. At first, I thought it was pretty easy. Eliminating the big sources — bread, bagels, pasta — made me feel a bunch better, so I wasn’t paying much attention to the “other” sources. Then, when I learned that I was in fact still consuming gluten — which is basically poison to my body — from unknown sources like soy sauce, dressings, Rice Krispies (what?!), and cross-contamination, I got more serious about eliminating those sources, too.

It’s been three years now.  And I think I’m finally “clean.” Except there’s one thing — for the last year or so, whenever I eat out at a restaurant or even at a friend’s home, I inevitably feel awful the next day, even if the previous day’s meal had been “gluten-free.” I’ve started to refer to this feeling as a “gluten hangover” — because that’s exactly what it feels like. A hangover. No restaurant or friend is intentionally feeding me gluten, but sometimes, it just happens. Cross contamination is a bitch, people.

So I’ve adapted. I’ve adapted without even realizing it. Give me a choice of eating out or cooking at home, and there’s a 99% chance I’ll choose cooking. And it’s not because I don’t enjoy eating out — I do, ohhhhh I do. But if the result is going to be me feeling awful the next day, 99% of the time, it’s just not worth it. I’d rather do the legwork myself — buy the groceries, do the chopping, sautéing and baking, serving, and cleaning. That way, I know that what I’m putting in my body isn’t going to end up hurting me.

While feeling stressed about eating out can sometimes be annoying, it has had some perks. For one, I’ve really learned to love cooking: Probably in no small part thanks to the fact that cooking my own food is like medicine — it makes me feel so much better than anything procured in another manner. I’ve also become a pretty good cook. And I’ve become more confident in the kitchen, too. I’m proud of what I’m able to create with just my brain and whatever ingredients I have on hand. And social media — Instragram, for example — has allowed me to share those little victories with others. Sometimes, I’ve even been able to inspire others to head to the kitchen themselves, to create their own healthy meals. These little things, I think, make the rough parts of going gluten-free worth it.

That’s what I realized last week, randomly, while prepping some meals for a long day of traveling. Subway? McDonalds? No thanks, rest stop — I brought my own.

Blueberry-Flax Greek Yogurt Pancake Muffins

I’m not a “get up and make breakfast” kind of girl. I need at least two hours after I wake up before I am a fully functioning human, and I usually need to prepare breakfast for myself before that two hours is up. So, the answer? Things that I can make ahead of time and are easy enough to throw in a bowl/microwave and start eating in less than five minutes.

Blueberry-Flax Greek Yogurt Muffins_longNow, on the weekends, I’m a huge fan of whole-grain, gluten-free pancakes for brunch. But during the week, they don’t exactly fit my “less than five minutes of prep” requirement. But sometimes, you just want to enjoy a pancake-like delight in the middle of the week. The answer? Pancake muffins! Basically, you make pancake batter and spoon it into a muffin tin instead of into a pan. Brilliant! Here’s one of my favorite combinations — oats, flaxseed, Greek yogurt, and blueberries. Top with a bit of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup for some real pancake flavor. Another favorite combination? Crumble one of these muffins over a bowl of plain yogurt with fresh strawberries and a drizzle of maple syrup — perfection! (Check out THAT creation on my Instagram!)

Blueberry-Flax Greek Yogurt Pancake Muffins

 Blueberry-Flax Greek Yogurt MuffinsWhat You’ll Need:

3/4 cup  gluten-free pancake mix (or gluten-free flour mix)
1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
1/2–3/4 cup milk (any type)
1 egg
2 tablespoons honey (or agave, or maple syrup)
3/4 cup blueberries

What to Do: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.

Combine pancake mix (or flour), oats, greek yogurt, milk, egg, oil, and honey in a medium-sized bowl. Stir until smooth and there are no lumps.

Fold in blueberries. The mixture should be moist, but not soupy and not doughy. If your mix is too doughy, add milk until it reaches the desired consistency (which should sort of resemble the consistency of frosting).

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 to 4/5 of the way up, making sure the top of each is level (so that the muffin cooks evenly). Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool in the tin at least 1 hour. Then, enjoy!

Note: These muffins keep great frozen. I make a batch, remove them from a pan, place in a tupperware container and freeze for weeks! Then, just microwave for 30 seconds when you’re ready to eat, or stick them in a toaster oven for a few minutes. 

Beef Stir Fry with Tatsoi, Blue Aprons, and Friends

Back in September when my good friend Kelli told me she was leaving her job at Greatist, I was super super sad. Kelli was sort of my partner in crime at work in a lot of ways — I could always count on her to join me in inappropriately early office cocktails, and to join me on office errands or planning group activities (and making sure they actually happened seamlessly). 

But when I found out a little more about the company she was going to work for, I was super excited for her, and that this new company existed! Blue Apron is a grocery delivery service that sets you up with pre-measured ingredients and recipes/instructions for three meals every week (each recipe serves 2). They come up with some really awesome, inventive recipes and give you basically everything you need to make them. It’s home cooking made easy, basically.

Ginger Beef Stir Fry with Tatsoi

So one weekend a few months back after she started her new job, Kelli invited me over to test out a Blue Apron recipe and see for myself how their product worked. There was chopping and sautéeing and also lots of drinking. (It was this Saturday evening Kelli introduced me to my new go-to cocktail, the sidecar. I’ll have to share one of those recipes very soon…) The recipe we made — Ginger Beef Stir-Fry with Tatsoi and Jasmine Rice — was full of flavor and came with a pretty good proportion of protein-to-veggie-to-carb. We threw it together in less than 30 minutes and were perfectly full after chowing down. Blue Apron currently offers both Meat/Fish and Vegetarian boxes, and as soon as they offer a gluten-free box, I’ll definitely be signing up!

Head on over to Blue Apron for the recipe! And check out what they have in the lineup for next week and see if they deliver to your area, too. It’s a really fun concept to give a try, and I highly encourage you to test it out.

While you’re waiting for your first box to arrive (wink, wink), here are a few of their other recipes I’ve been dying to give a try!

Pork Tamales with Smoked Chili Sauce
Pork Tamales with Smoked Chili Sauce

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Sometimes, a girl just needs a cheesy, BBQ-y, semi-unhealthy-but-let’s-just-pretend-that-didn’t-happen pizza.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Yep, just like this one. One of the blessings and curses of not being able to chow-down on any gluten-filled slice of greasy pizza lining the NYC sidewalks is that if I want to indulge, I usually have to make it myself. So, while it takes way more work, I also inevitably end up making it healthier. Like, for instance, on a super-thin brown rice tortilla instead of a super-doughy traditional pizza dough. While the texture’s clearly different, it still seves the same purpose of getting those awesome, gooey toppings into your mouth.

BBQ Chicken and Red Onion Pizza

Serves 1

What You’ll Need: 

1 brown rice tortilla
1/2 a chicken breast, shredded
1/4 cup BBQ sauce (roughly) (homemade or store-bought, you choose)
1/4 of a red onion, very thinly sliced
1/2 – 1 cup shredded cheddar jack cheese (the amount depends on just how stressful of a day you’ve had, clearly)
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leafed parsley, finely chopped

What to Do: 

Heat the oven to about 425F. Throw the tortilla in the oven on a piece of aluminum foil. (This is my super-sneaky trick to avoid washing a  cookie sheet. Shhh!) Let heat/crisp up for about 3–5 minutes (or until light brown).

In the meantime, combine the shredded chicken and about half the BBQ sauce in a small microwave-safe bowl or mug. Toss to evenly coat. Then, stick in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until warm. (If you don’t like using the microwave or don’t have one, this can be done in a small pan over medium heat on the stove.

While the chicken is heating and tortilla is crisping, make sure your onion is finely sliced.

Once the tortilla is slightly crisp, remove from oven and spread with as much of the leftover BBQ sauce as you’d like. Next, top with chicken, onion slices, and cheese.

Once the tortilla is topped, put it back in the oven (carefully, on the tin foil), and bake until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned, about 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on it!

While the pizza is baking, make sure you have your finely chopped fresh parsley.

Once the cheese is melted and the edges of the tortilla are super-crispy, remove from oven and let it cool slightly on a cutting board. Sprinkle with the parsley, slice into wedges, and enjoy!

Brussels Sprout and Cherry Tomato Hash

I’m having a love affair with Brussel’s sprouts.

Brussels Sprout and Cherry Tomato HashIf I walk into any grocery store in a dazed, post-work stupor, I typically lunge right for the sprouts, returning home to attempt any number of simple, comforting preparations, from whole-roasted with cloves of garlic to shredded into a lightly sauteed slaw. The obsession all started with the Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Dig Inn, a small chain of quick-service (but super high quality) restaurants in NYC that serve super healthy, super high quality “real food.” Those sprouts are like crack, and they are the drug of choice in my office.

All other recipes paled in comparison to those sprouts.

And then I magically created this. (I’ll admit it — a few months ago!)

One day, right after Hurricane Sandy hit New York and I returned from a (perfectly timed) vacation, I walked into my local grocery store to find a massive sale on all things produce. (I’m guessing this had to do with that whole “no power” thing). Brussels sprouts for $1.50 a container! Orange cherry tomatoes for $1.99! I nearly died I was so happy. So I (naturally) overfilled my basket with both, convincing myself I could create something of substance from my little green and orange friends.

That night, I shredded some sprouts, sliced some tomatoes, and went searching through cabinets for anything else to make it special. My tride and true favorite, balsamic vinegar, some onion, half an orange, and (of course) wine. What resulted was sweet with just a hint of tartness, and a divine partner to sticky brown rice. The next day, it perfectly topped a roast chicken breast. I’m pretty much convinced this combo would be good on top of just about anything — maybe even ice cream (though don’t quote me on that).

Brussels Sprout and Cherry Tomato Hash

Serves 2

What You’ll Need:

1 small container brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced
1/2 cup orange cherry tomatoes, quartered lenghwise
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 onion (or shallot), chopped
1/2 cup water (or white wine)
juice from half an orange
salt and pepper
olive oil

What to Do:

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan.

Sautee onion until it begins to soften.

Throw in the sprouts and water (or wine).

Cook over medium until the sprouts begin to soften and the water is mostly absorbed, stirring occasionally.

Once the water’s absorbed, add the tomatoes and a few tablespoons more water, if it looks like you need it.

Cook until the tomatoes begin to soften.

Add the vinegar and orange juice and cook down until the vinegar has evaporated (about 5 minutes).

Serve with brown rice, and a simple protein like roast chicken if desired.