ten-minute stir fry

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ingredients: garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, cooked rice, brown mushrooms, spinach, eggplant, eggs, sesame seeds, fresh basil, ginger, sea salt, and black pepper.

chop up the garlic and sauté in sesame oil. crack the eggs into the pan (season with salt and pepper) and chop up the mushrooms and eggplant while the garlic and eggs are cooking in the pan. add the mushrooms and eggplant into the pan, then add the cooked riced, and cover in soy sauce (and a little more sesame oil). chop up some ginger and fresh basil, and add into the pan. add the spinach in and watch it shrink down. season with salt and pepper, take off the heat, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve.

i’m pretty sure this post took me longer to write up than making this dish for dinner tonight.

cauliflower rice and a 12 week challenge

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ingredients: cauliflower, lime, green onions, garlic, cilantro, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

put the cauliflower in a food processor until it has the right grainy texture (not for too long, so it doesn’t get mushy). chop up the garlic and green onions, sauté in a pan with olive oil; add the cauliflower, stir around for a bit until it looks ready then place in a bowl. chop up the cilantro, add it to the newly made cauliflower rice; squeeze fresh lime all over the dish, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve with a protein like chicken.

this is the meal i had right before i took my “after” picture for the 12 week challenge at work (spoiler alert: i didn’t win).

the only reason i even entered the competition was because the company paid the entry fee, and it happened to coincide with me actually wanting to get back into shape anyway. i was hit with the “enough is enough, i feel gross, unhealthy, and fat, and it’s time to do something about it” feeling that i haven’t felt in a few years. i hid my body in loose-fitting clothes all the time, and convinced myself that everything was okay because guys still found me attractive. well, there was one problem with that… i didn’t find myself attractive.

so, i committed to making a change. one that was sustainable with my lifestyle though and didn’t force me to give up all the things i enjoyed about life (aka huge bowls of homemade pasta and wine). i monitored my calorie intake and joined an expensive gym (so i’d force myself to go, to get my money’s worth) that is conveniently located in-between home and work and has classes that fit in with my schedule (side-note: studeo 55 is one of the best gyms i’ve ever joined).

the struggle is far from over, even though i’ve made a lot of progress. i do feel healthier, stronger, and more confident with my body, which is a huge step for me. i’ve realized it’s all about balance, and finding something that works for you and your body. my method and routine works perfectly for me, but might not be for everyone.

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spaghetti squash with sausage and kale

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ingredients: spaghetti squash (get them to cut it in half for you at the grocery store – if they’ll do it, it will save you a lot of hassle), sausages, kale, garlic, onion, pine nuts, fresh parsley, sea-salt, black pepper, and olive oil.

pre-heat oven to 400°, scoop out the spaghetti squash seeds, place the pieces of spaghetti squash on a baking tray, season with salt and pepper, and put it in the oven for about 40 minutes.

while the spaghetti squash is in the oven, chop up the garlic, onion, sausages, kale, and parsley. put the garlic and onion in a pan first with olive oil – eventually add the sausage pieces to the mix, then the kale, pine nuts, and parsley.

once the spaghetti squash is ready, fork it out into a bowl and then add the sausage and kale mixture to it. season with salt and pepper.

make your leftovers taste different the next day by adding different spices to it – i recommend rubbed sage.

crockpot coconut curry chicken

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i took the recipe from here and modified it as i saw fit. i love crockpots because they fit in so easily to a busy, work-filled schedule.

ingredients: coconut milk, chicken, olive oil, garlic, onion, ginger, black pepper, sea-salt, cumin, coriander, turmeric, eggplant, mushrooms, spinach, and whatever other vegetables you’d like to throw in there.

the night before work: place the ginger, onion, and garlic in a blender, and blend together until it forms a paste. heat up a pan with olive oil in it, transfer the paste into the pan, and add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, pepper, and sea-salt to it – cook for a few minutes. chop up all your vegetables as well – put everything away in the fridge.

the morning before work: place the chicken and vegetables in the crockpot – cover everything with the coconut milk and paste. turn it on low, and let it cook while you’re at work.

the evening after work: come home to a delicious smelling place, make some rice, and enjoy a dinner that essentially made itself!

simple salad dressing

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ingredients: olive oil, honey, lemons, shallots, garlic, dried cranberries, sea-salt, pepper, and mushrooms (optional).

mince garlic, slice shallots, and heat up both in a pan with olive oil. add the cranberries (and mushrooms), squeeze fresh lemon juice in, add a bit of honey, then season with salt and pepper.

pour over your greens of choice – i usually opt for kale and add a bit of avocado in there as well.

crispy gnocchi with spinach pesto

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the spinach pesto recipe was taken from one of my favourite food blogs, frugal feeding.

ingredients: spinach, garlic cloves, feta cheese, walnuts, lemon juice, olive oil, canola oil, gnocchi, parmesan cheese, sea-salt, and black pepper.

place spinach, garlic cloves, feta cheese, walnuts, lemon juice, and olive oil in a blender – blend until it’s at a consistency you like and tada… homemade pesto in seconds! boil gnocchi in a pot until done and then drain; pan fry in canola oil until slightly crispy. place in a bowl, cover the gnocchi with the homemade pesto, garnish with chopped walnuts, sprinkle parmesan cheese on it, and season with sea-salt and pepper.

mint in meatballs? delicious.

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mint in meatballs… i was skeptical at first, but it turned out to be absolutely delicious.

i would normally post a link back to the original recipe, but i deviated so much from it that there’d be no point. well, i didn’t deviate from it ingredient-wise, but i just didn’t agree with the techniques she used. firstly, the author told me to set my oven at 425°C, and i did at first, but then all this smoke started to emerge from the oven so i turned it down to 350 before a fire started. the author of the original recipe also wanted to GRATE the zucchini and sear the meatballs over the stove before placing them in the oven – ain’t nobody got time for that! i chopped up the zucchini in my blender (it had a “chop” button that i’ve been wanting to test out) and i stuck the meatballs straight in the oven until they were fully cooked. i love finding efficient ways to do things, without compromising quality. some might see it as laziness, but i prefer the term “being resourceful.”

besides, who wants to cook a laborious dinner after returning home tired from a full day at work? that’s what i thought.

ingredients: ground turkey, zucchini, green onions, fresh mint leaves, cilantro, cloves of garlic, egg, sea-salt, pepper, and cumin.

pre-heat oven to 350°C. chop up the ingredients and place in a bowl. crack the egg in there, add the spices, and mix everything around with your hands. shape into meatballs, put on a baking tray (i lined mine with a sheet of wax paper), and bake for around 15 – 20 minutes, or until they are done.

easy, simple, and delicious.