Maple Glazed Carrot and Black Rice Salad with Salmon

Sweet glazed carrots and nutty black rice make a great pairing in this salad.

I first started doing meal prep three years ago. I found myself getting tired of eating the same old sandwich and fruit every single day. My process has continued to evolve as my schedule and tastes have changed. But I still take the time, at the start of each week, to create delicious and healthy meals to keep me going during a busy week.

For more details on how I plan my meal prep every week, jump over to my Meal Prep page (see top menu). You’ll find helpful tips as well as essential products I use. Subscribe to my blog to get a free download of my meal prep planning worksheet.

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Maple Glazed Carrot and Black Rice Salad with Salmon

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 3

Equipment

  • Mini food processor
  • Mortar & Pestle
  • Non-stick baking mat

Ingredients
  

For the Salad

  • 3 Large Carrots peeled and cut into diagonal slices
  • 2 tbsp Avocado Oil divided
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seed
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seed
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 2 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 cup Black Rice (aka Forbidden Rice)
  • 1/2 + 1/3 cup Water
  • 1 lb Salmon
  • 1/4 cup Sliced Almonds
  • 1/4 cup Dried Cranberries
  • 2 cups Arugula
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

For the Dressing

  • Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
  • 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tsp Honey
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Instructions
 

For the Salad

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a non-stick baking mat.
  • Using a mortar and pestle, roughly grind the coriander and cumin seeds.
  • In a bowl, combine the carrots, 1 tbsp of avocado oil, ground coriander and cumin, turmeric, paprika, salt and pepper. Spread out over the baking sheet and bake 20 minutes. Add the maple syrup and bake an additional 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
  • In a small pot, combine the black rice and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, until the rice is tender the water has been absorbed. Allow to cool slightly.
  • Season the salmon with salt and pepper.
  • In a pan, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat. Cook the salmon about 8 minutes per side, or until done.
  • To a large bowl, add the arugula, almonds, cranberries, black rice, carrots, and the dressing. Toss gently to combine.
  • Divide the salad among meal prep containers. Add portions of the salmon. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

For the Dressing

  • In a mini food processor, add the dressing ingredients and blend to combine.
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Ginger Pineapple Chicken

The key to keeping meal prep lunches interesting is making them flavorful. This dish is loaded with flavor from the fresh ginger to the juicy pineapple. Add in tender chicken and a protein-packed grain. You really can’t go wrong with this one.

Benefits of Pineapple

Pineapple has long been known as an anti-inflammatory. Why? Because it contains Bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme that aids in digestion and contains anti-inflammatory properties. Studies say it can also help with pain control. So it’s a great ingredient to incorporate into your diet if you are affected by inflammatory autoimmune conditions (see my About Me page for disclaimers). Plus it’s sweet and delicious!

Benefits of Ginger

Ginger has a crazy amount of health benefits. It’s a natural germ fighter. It’s great for relieving nausea and stomach irritation. It’s anti-inflammatory and has been shown to reduce muscle pain. It’s the epitome of a super food! Plus fresh ginger adds a slightly spicy, slightly citrus flavor to dishes. It’s so good!

Grain Options

I try to stick with protein-rich grains with lots of antioxidants in my meals. So I tend to avoid things like white or even brown rice. If that’s your preference with a dish like this, by all means, go for it. But I find there are better options that pack more nutritional value into my meals. Which is important to me when I’m consuming a small portion. Might as well make every calorie count, right? I also like to avoid gluten whenever possible because I find it can lead to inflammation for me. So here are some other options for you:

Quinoa

Quinoa is a delicious super grain that is packed with fiber and protein. It’s a great substitute for rice and it’s really quick to prepare. Be sure to give your uncooked quinoa a rinse before cooking to eliminate any bitterness. My preferred brand of quinoa calls for a two to one ratio of liquid to quinoa. I add two cups of water or vegetable stock and one cup of quinoa to a small pot with a small pinch of salt. Bring it to a boil and simmer for fifteen minutes until the liquid has been absorbed. Let it stand about five minutes and then fluff with a fork before serving.

Forbidden Rice

Also aptly known as black rice for its hue, this stuff is also packed with protein, fiber and antioxidants. I really like the subtle nutty flavor while texturally, it gets soft like white rice. It is a little slower cooking than quinoa. My preferred brand takes thirty minutes. But it’s well worth it.

Gluten Free Brown Rice Noodles

This is a great, gluten free pasta option. I like the wider Pad Thai noodles but Maifun is a great option if you prefer a thinner cut. They’re a good source of fiber and they cook up in just five minutes.

Recipe:

Start by taking the skin off a fresh pineapple and removing the core. I like to use a pineapple corer to make this job a little easier and cuts the fruit into even slices. Place half the pineapple into the bowl of a food processor. Add ¼ cup of coconut aminos, 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 inch of grated ginger and a pinch of salt. Process until smooth and set aside.

Cut the remaining pineapple into chunks and set aside.

Cut about a pound of chicken thigh meat into bite sized pieces (swap breast meat if you prefer). Toss the chicken pieces in two tablespoons of cornstarch, salt and pepper. Add a tablespoon of avocado oil to a pan. Heat over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the chicken pieces and allow to brown. When the chicken is nearly browned, add the pineapple pieces. Allow them to caramelize. Add the pureed mixture from the food processor. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer until the chicken pieces are cooked through and the sauce is thickened.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare your grain of choice.

Divide the grain between three meal prep containers. Top with the chicken mixture. Store in the fridge until ready to heat and enjoy.

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Ginger Pineapple Chicken

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Main Course

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Pineapple peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Aminos
  • 3 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 1 inch Fresh Ginger
  • 1 lb Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp Avocado Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • To prepare the sauce, add half the pineapple along with the coconut aminos, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, and salt to a blender. Process until smooth and set aside.
  • Cut the remaining half of the pineapple into chunks and set aside.
  • Toss the chicken pieces in the cornstarch and season with salt and pepper.
  • In a large skillet, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides. Add the pineapple chunks and allow to caramelize. Pour in the sauce mixture and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thickened.
  • Prepare your grain of choice.
  • Portion your grain of choice and the chicken mixture between two to three meal prep containers. Refrigerate until ready to heat and enjoy.
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Chili Salmon Grain Bowl with Mango Salsa

Perfect for a spicy and delicious lunch

I like to keep things as simple as possible when I’m putting together my meal prep menu for the week. This salmon dish goes together very quickly and easily. Yet, it’s packed with flavor.

For this meal, I elected to make the mango salsa myself. You can definitely use a jarred fruit salsa, if you prefer. I never seem to have good luck when it comes to picking out mangos. So I took the easier route and went with frozen mango chunks instead. Frozen fruits are processed at their peak so you know you’re getting flavorful fruit. Obviously, it’s not quite the same as fresh but this is one way to avoid issues with fruits being out of season.

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Chili Salmon Grain Bowl with Mango Salsa

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course

Ingredients
  

For the Salmon and Quinoa

  • 1/2 cup Quinoa cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 lb Salmon Fillets
  • 1 tbsp Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tbsp Avocado Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Salsa

  • 2 cups Mango Chunks thawed if using frozen fruit
  • 1 small Red Onion diced
  • 1 small Yellow Bell Pepper diced
  • 1 small Jalapeno diced, ribs and seeds removed
  • 2 tbsp Lime Juice
  • Cilantro finely chopped (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
 

For the Salmon and Quinoa

  • Prepare the quinoa according to package instructions.
  • In a skillet, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat, until it shimmers.
  • In a small bowl, combine the spices. Rub the mixture over the top of the salmon fillets.
  • Place the salmon in the pan, skin side down and cook approximately five minutes. Turn the fish and cook an additional three minutes. Return the fish to the skin side, reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and allow the salmon to cook through.
  • To assemble, place a layer of quinoa in a meal prep container. Top with a salmon fillet. Add the salsa to a separate well of the meal prep container. If not using partitioned containers, store the salsa separately until ready to eat.

For the Salsa

  • Add the salsa ingredients to a large bowl and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
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Chipotle Chicken Salad

Sweet and spicy

Summertime is almost here. The weather is finally warming up and that has me in the mood for light and fresh food when I’m creating my meal prep menus for the week.

This salad is a perfect balance of sweet and spicy. It’s mixed greens, sweet strawberries, creamy avocado, and spicy chicken.

The dressing in this case is mayonnaise-based. I used a combo of mayo, honey, lime juice, and a little sauce from chilies in adobo. It also adds a nice creamy element. If you’re not into mayo, it could be swapped for avocado instead.


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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 2 lunches

Equipment

  • Mini food processor

Ingredients
  

For the Chicken

  • 1 1/2 lbs Chicken Thighs
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Powder
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp Cumin Powder
  • 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp Avocado Oil

For the Salad

  • 3 cups Mixed Greens
  • 1/2 cup Strawberries quartered
  • 1 cup Sweet Corn prepared to package instructions and cooled, if using frozen
  • 2 Green Onions sliced
  • 1 Avocado diced

For the Dressing

  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise or 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1 tbsp Lime Juice
  • 1 tbsp Adobo Sauce from chilies in adobo

Instructions
 

For the Chicken

  • Combine the spices in a small bowl and generously coat the chicken pieces.
  • In a pan, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken, about three to four minutes per side.
  • Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Allow the chicken to cook through, about 30 minutes for bone in pieces.
  • Once cooked, set the chicken aside and allow to cool.

For the Salads

  • To assemble the salads, divide the salad ingredients evenly between two meal prep containers.
  • Dice the chicken and add to the salad.
  • Refrigerate until ready to eat. Keep the dressing on the side to avoid the mixed greens getting soggy.

For the Dressing

  • Add the dressing ingredients to a mini food processor and proces until combined.
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Southwest Chicken Grain Bowl

Perfect for meal prep

Gain bowls are a favorite of mine for meal prep. I like to mix my grains. It creates layers of flavor and different textures. My go-tos are quinoa and black rice (aka forbidden rice). Both are a good source of protein, loaded with antioxidants, and gluten free, making them anti-inflammatory friendly foods.

This grain bowl is incredibly easy to assemble and is really good hot or cold. The chili-lime dressing adds a nice kick of heat. If you want to cool it down a bit, I recommend adding a side of prepared guacamole.

For the chicken, I created a spice rub of chipotle chili, garlic, cumin, and oregano. It adds a ton of flavor to otherwise unexciting chicken breast.

One of my favorite tools in my kitchen is my juicer. A citrus reamer is great for juicing a single piece of fruit but when I have a large number of fruits to juice, like for lemon tart, I prefer a juicer. The one I use has a mesh to capture seeds and excess pulp too.

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Southwest Chicken Gain Bowl

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Tex-Mex
Servings 3

Ingredients
  

For the Chicken

  • 2 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Oregano dried
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp Avocado Oil

For the Grain Bowl

  • 1/2 cup Quinoa cooked according to package instructions
  • 1/2 cup Forbidden Rice cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 can Black Beans drained and rinced
  • 1 10oz bag Frozen Corn cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper diced
  • 3 Green Onions sliced

For the Dressing

  • 1/4 cup Avocado Oil
  • Juice of 2 Limes
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 Jalapeno seeded and diced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
 

For the Chicken

  • In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  • Season both sides of the chicken breasts with the spice rub, liberally.
  • Warm the avocado oil over high heat. Add the chicken and cook until done. Set aside.

For the Dressing

  • Add the dressing ingredients to the bowl of a small food processor and process until smooth.

For the Grain Bowl

  • In large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Add the dressing and top with chicken.
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White Bean Hummus

For when you forgot to soak the chickpeas

This recipe was invented, not out of some desire to create a reinterpretation of a favorite condiment or some kind of hipster riff on a classic. I was sitting at my computer, getting some work done on my book blog, just about to wrap up and head into the kitchen to get to work on meal prep. And I realized, I forgot to soak chickpeas the night before. The only canned beans I had on hand were cannellini bean. White bean hummus it is!

This recipe is for an Israeli style hummus, which is a little thinner and smoother than other hummus. It’s a great snack with crackers or vegetables. I also really like it as a dressing over salads or as a dip for kebabs.

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White Bean Hummus

Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Snack
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Blender

Ingredients
  

  • 15 oz can Cannellini Beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/4 cup Tahini
  • 1/4 cup Lemon Juice
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Check the seasoning and add water, a tablespoon at a time, if too thick.
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Pair it With

Chicken Shawarma Salads

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Chicken Shawarma Salad

A flavorful salad, perfect for meal prep

Shawarma is a delicious, spiced, Middle Eastern classic. And one that I absolutely love! This version includes a spice mixture of cardamon, cumin, and coriander, giving the chicken a wonderfully earth, smoky, and complex flavor. Then it’s diced over refreshing greens, cucumbers, and bell peppers.

Finally, for the dressing, I use a classic Israeli hummus. Or in this case, I use a white bean hummus. You’ll have to check out the recipe to learn why.

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Chicken Shawarma Salad

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 3 lunches

Ingredients
  

For the Chicken

  • 1 1/2 lbs Chicken Thighs
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Ground Cardamon
  • 1 tbsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp Avocado Oil

For the Salads

  • 4 cups Mixed Greens
  • 1 Bell Pepper sliced
  • 1/2 cup Matchstick Carrots
  • 1 small Cucumber sliced

Instructions
 

For the Chicken

  • Combine the spices and coat the chicken pieces generously.
  • In a pan, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken on each side until deep brown.
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and allow the chicken to cook through. About 30 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and allow to cool slightly.

For the Salads

  • In your preferred meal prep containers, divide the mixed greens, bell pepper, and cucumbers.
  • Remove the chicken from the bone (if using bone-in), dice and divide over the salads.
  • Refrigerate the salads until ready to eat. Add white bean hummus before enjoying.
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Pair it With

White Bean Hummus


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Chinese Salmon Salad

A fresh twist on an old favorite

There are a ton of recipes out there for Chinese Chicken Salad. It’s an incredibly popular option for meal prep, lunch, and dinner. So I decided to to put a new spin on an old classic. This version uses salmon as the protein. You could also use ahi tuna steak if you prefer.

The dressing for this salad is a basic Asian vinaigrette. I prefer to use coconut aminos in place of soy sauce. Coconut aminos has a similar flavor, although a little lighter and sweeter. It’s also soy free, gluten free, and much lower in sodium, making it anti-inflammatory friendly. I also chose to use avocado oil instead of olive oil. Both are rich in heart-health omeg-3s so it really comes down to personal preference.

When mixing dressings, I find it easiest to whip them up in a mini food processor. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend getting one. They’re relatively inexpensive and come in really handy for making salad dressings and chopping nuts.

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Chinese Salmon Salad

A new twist on an old favorite
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Total Time 27 mins
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine American, Chinese
Servings 3

Equipment

  • Mini food processor

Ingredients
  

For the Salad

  • 1/2 12oz Bag of Coleslaw Mix
  • 1/2 cup Matchstick Carrots
  • 1 cup Sugar Snap Peas halved
  • 1/2 lb Salmon cooked and flaked
  • 3 Green Onions sliced
  • 1 cup Oranges, supremed or one 12-15oz can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1/3 cup Sliced Almonds

For the Dressing

  • 3 tbsp Coconut Aminos
  • 2 tbsp Avocado Oil
  • 3 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 4 tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Powdered Garlic

Instructions
 

For the Salad

  • In a large bowl, combine the coleslaw mix, carrots, peas.
  • Top with the salmon, green onions, oranges, and almonds.
  • Add the dressing or serve on the side if preferred.

For the Dressing

  • In a small food processor, combine the dressing incredients.
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3 Ideas for Infused Water

Three fresh and flavorful ways to stay hydrated

Infused water is a great way to stay hydrated. It’s also great for getting additional antioxidants into your diet. Plus it can help boost your immune system and regulate blood sugar.

I like to create blends of three types of fruits when I create infused water. I also like to add herbal tea, like mint or ginger, for an extra layer of flavor. Just add a tea bag of your favorite to your pitcher with your fruit.

I recommend getting an infusion pitcher for creating your waters. Mine has a strainer in the lid to keep the fruit, and any seeds or pulp, from getting into my glass.

Staying hydrated is really important for fighting inflammation. So drink up!

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Watermelon Lime Cucumber Water

Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Drinks

Equipment

  • Infusion pitcher

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Watermelon cubed or balled
  • 1 Lime sliced
  • 1 small Cucumber sliced
  • 6 cups Water

Instructions
 

  • Combine all ingredients in an infusion pitcher. Refrigerate at least four hours before consuming.

Pineapple Lemon Cucumber Water

Prep Time 10 mins
Course Drinks

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Fresh Pineapple
  • 1 Lemon sliced
  • 1 small Cucumber sliced
  • 6 cups Water

Instructions
 

  • Combine all ingredients in an infusion pitcher. Refrigerate at least four hours before serving.

Strawberry Kiwi Lime Water

Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Drinks

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Strawberries sliced
  • 1 Lime sliced
  • 2 Kiwi peeled and sliced
  • 6 cups Water

Instructions
 

  • Combine all ingredients in an infusion pitcher. Refrigerate at least four hours before serving.
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