Five Minute Asian Dinner

I tend to be a creature of habit when it comes to easy, weeknight meals. After a long day of work sometimes I lack creativity when I get home, especially if it’s after an evening event or workout. Therefore, you see lots of omelets, veggie burgers, bowls of cereal, or salads around the blog.

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But, last night, after a five mile run in Central Park and a Pure Barre class with some fellow bloggers, I was not only ravenous but I was also craving an actual meal. Since it was already 9pm, there was no way I was going out to dinner. Instead, on the subway ride home, I started thinking about what was currently in our refrigerator and pantry that could create a nutritious and easy meal.

Thanks to the Asian Sea Bass we enjoyed Sunday night, the refrigerator was filled with ingredients such as minced garlic, ginger, bean sprouts, and vegetables. Within ten minutes of walking through the front door I had prepared a warm, satiating meal fondly called a Five Minute Asian Dinner.

Five Minute Asian Dinner

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1 package shiritaki noodles

1/2 package defrosted Asian vegetables

1/3 cup bean sprouts

Drizzle of sesame oil

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1 Tbsp minced ginger

1 Tbsp scallions

1 Tbsp peanut butter

1 tsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp orange marmalade


1. Par boil or microwave shiritaki noodles, according to directions, drain well

2.. While noodles are par boiling, defrost package of Asian vegetables.

3. Set aside 1/2 package of vegetables and well drained, par boiled noodles in a bowl together.

4. Drizzle sesame oil in a small saucepan on medium low heat on the stove.

5. Quickly saute garlic, ginger and scallions in saucepan.

6. Once warm, add peanut butter, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and orange marmalade.

7. Stir with a whisk over medium low heat for a few minutes until combined and melted.

8. Pour sauce over noodles and vegetables, mix well.

9. Enjoy!


Healthier Indulgences

Good morning gang! As I promised, there are some great guest posts on the way this week which will range in topics from food to workouts. Hopefully yesterday’s booty busting workout has you ready to mix up your workout while today’s post will leave you with some healthy inspiration.

Thank you so much for all your kind comments and warm thoughts regarding my Papa’s passing. It was been a very draining week thus far but I’ve been so thankful to be here to support my mom and family. Who knew there was so much to do?! Without further adieu, I’ll turn it over to Gretchen, my hilarious DC blogger diva who has a knack not only for delicious food but fun, inspired photography.

Hey there, healthy & happier folks! My name is Gretchen and I blog about life, my love of food, and my 60-pound (so far!) weight loss over at Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!

As mentioned, I am an avid lover of food (hence the necessity to start a weight loss blog in the first place, haha), and am always trying to find a way to balance life’s necessary indulgences with a healthy lifestyle. Diets that deprive you of certain dishes or ingredients in the name of "health" never work, in my opinion. It takes an approach of moderation and balance in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle when it comes to food! One of my favorite ways to do this is to "healthify" some of my favorite foods with natural ingredients — we’re not just talking about swapping out sugar for Splenda here.
By keeping a few healthy item swaps in my back pocket, I’m able to eat more of my favorite foods without any fallout. The following recipes take advantage of these easy ingredient replacements to create final dishes that are just as decadent as the originals with far less fat and calories.
Chicken salad is a deli favorite of mine, but it’s usually dripped with mayo and goodness knows what else. My recipe for healthy chicken salad uses lean chicken breast and a dressing that includes plain, nonfat Greek yogurt (which tastes just like sour cream!) instead of mayonnaise. It’s also full of veggies to pack an extra healthy punch! It tastes great on its own as well as between two slices of bread. Yum!
I make no secret of the fact that potatoes are my true weakness. Baked, fried, au gratin, you name it, I love ’em all, but my hands-down favorite has always been mashed. Mashed potatoes are not generally known for being low on the caloric spectrum, however, with all the butter and cream (otherwise known as "deliciousness") that usually goes into them. My recipe for Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes replaces all of that with roasted garlic and a little bit of heart-healthy olive oil instead. This dish turns out so creamy and decadent, you’ll never believe there’s no butter in there! It’s my best excuse for eating mashed potatoes on days other than Thanksgiving.
No healthy recipe repertoire would be complete without at least one dessert in there! This easy, no-bake recipe for chocolate crème pie uses silken tofu as its secret ingredient that packs in a whopping 8 grams of protein per slice. Don’t balk at the thought of putting tofu in a dessert — you really can’t taste it at all! All that you end up with is creamy, dreamy, chocolatey bliss with a whole lot of nutrition behind it. So there you have it! Three recipes that make use of healthy ingredient swaps and don’t take away from the taste, texture, or general indulgence of each dish. Experiment by creating your own "healthified" recipes, and enjoy your favorite dishes without that extra side of guilt!
If you’d like to read more about me, weight loss journey, or my healthy recipes, please visit my blog, Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!


Mexican Quinoa

Every Sunday, as I read other blogs, I am inspired to cook. I know that I’ll enjoy and benefit from having a few staples prepared in the refrigerator, but most Sundays, I never make my way into the kitchen.

Yesterday, feeling surprisingly energetic after an epic birthday party the night before, Bo and I found ourselves organizing the house from top to bottom. This was serious stuff folks. I was under the bed fighting dust bunnies and Bo was trying to organize our pantry for the hundredth time. By 4pm we had tackled the house and were actually able to sit back and relax for a bit. Then Bo mentioned the pile.

“Ashley, I’ve made a pile of all the things in the pantry I doubt you’ll ever use or duplicates. Can you go through it and throw what you don’t want out? “

I groaned and walked over, amazed at what he considered to be trash. While I salvaged some things, I did end up parting ways with a few age old tea bags and expired products. But then I saw my afternoon inspiration: three bags of quinoa. How we accumulated such a collection I’ll never know. Maybe I read this post ages ago and felt inspired to buy it? Or, maybe it was on sale at Whole Foods one week and knowing it was a protein and fiber rich grain powerhouse, I was enticed to buy it.

The important thing is that the lonely boxes inspired me to create my own recipe. I opened up our fridge to see what I could use and decided that a Mexican quinoa would be the perfect way to spice up my weekday lunches. After all, my friends at Choose Cherries gave me this adorable lunch box that was just screaming to be used.

001 So, without further adieu, I give you my Mexican quinoa recipe. I enjoyed it today atop a bed of baby spinach for lunch and the flavors amazed me. This is definitely one of those dishes that gets better the next day and can last all week. Bulked up with vegetables and protein, this recipe makes four very hearty servings that are filled with healthy nutrients, vitamins, and no artificial additives. Even the dressing I used, a Whole Foods staple of ours, is all natural!

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Mexican Quinoa

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 15.5 oz black beans, rinsed
  • 1. 15.5 can corn, drained
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup Cindy’s Kitchen All Natural Tangerine Vinaigrette (available at Whole Foods)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • Dash of salt & pepper
  • Optional: diced avocado and/or chopped cilantro


Rinse 1 cup quinoa with water.

Combine quinoa with 1 1/2 cups water in saucepan.

Bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 10 to 15 minutes until all water is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Make sure that quinoa doesn’t burn by stirring once or twice during the simmering process.

Remove quinoa from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

Pour quinoa into a large bowl.

Add beans, corn, and peppers.

Stir together.

In a separate bowl, whisk dressing, spices, salt, pepper, and oil together.

Pour over quinoa and vegetable mixture.

Stir until thoroughly combined, ensuring that even the bottom quinoa is coated.

Serve chilled and garnish with optional avocado or cilantro.


Healthy Tikka Masala


Truth be told, I spent most of my life avoiding Indian food. I thought that all Indian food was spicy, curry laden food. Boy was I wrong! A few years ago, my friend Raj invited a number of his college friends to his parent’s home for an Indian feast. It was all homemade by his mother and delectable. I often forget how much I love Indian food until I see it on someone’s blog or an inspired by the smell as I run through the Curry Hill district, between Gramercy and Murray Hill.

Last week I asked Bo if we could make a healthy Indian recipe Monday night for dinner since we both had the day off. He eagerly agreed and also suggested that we go for Tikka Masala instead of Tandoori since we have that more often. Without thinking, I agreed and started searching the web for recipes. To make my search even more complex, I knew that I wanted to use our slow cooker instead of standing over the stove all afternoon. There is great debate both within our family and group of friends about whether a slow cooker can truly make a delicious meal. Some people argue that it doesn’t reach high enough temperatures, while Bo believes that some steps need to be done in advance if you want the carmelization factor or to truly bring out spices.

I finally found this Real Simple recipe online and thought it would serve as a good base for our adaptation.

As we reviewed the recipe, a few things stood out which we knew we wanted to alter.

  • They don’t cut the chicken thighs into pieces before putting in the crock pot. We believed that it would be more authentic if they were cut and also allow for more even cooking.
  • The heavy cream could easily be replaced with some skim milk and 2% Chobani yogurt to reduce the fat and calories.
            • The 2 teaspoons of spice mixture barely seemed enough for the large amount of food. Therefore, we chose to double it and then ended up tripling it as we tasted the evolving dish.
            • While the recipe called for Basmati rice, we substituted brown Basmati rice in it’s place. This allowed us to have some extra fiber while still enjoying the Basmati texture and flavor.

The best part of this dish, other than the flavor, was the small amount of preparation time it required. I literally did the prep in 15 minutes before heading out to the gym Monday morning. Real Simple also gave great instructions on making your own garam masala (½ teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon coriander, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves, ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg, and a pinch of cayenne).  if you didn’t have any in the pantry. Luckily, I had all the ingredients in the pantry to make my own which saved money!

004 005Eight hours later and a few spice adjustments later, we had a delicious dinner ready and waiting for us. Using the slow cooker allowed us time to run errands, workout, and watch a movie on the couch during our day off instead of sweating in the kitchen.

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Healthy Tikka Masala

Serves 4

Prep Time: 15m

Cook time: 8hr

  • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 6 teaspoons garam masala (Indian spice blend)
  • 1 extra teaspoon cumin
  • 1 extra teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 extra teaspoon cinnamon
  • a few heavy dashes kosher salt (1 1/2 teaspoon) and black pepper (1 teaspoon)
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8)
  • 1/2 English cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup brown basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup Chobani 2% yogurt
  • 1/8 cup skim milk
  1. In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato paste, garam masala, extra cumin, coriander, and cinnamon, 1 1/2  teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables, cover, and cook until the chicken is tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours (this will shorten total recipe time).
  2. In a small bowl, toss the cucumber and cilantro with the lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.
  3. Twenty minutes before serving, cook the rice according to the package directions.
  4. Just before serving, stir the yogurt and milk into the chicken tikka masala. Serve over the rice with the cucumber relish.

This reminded us that the next time we’re craving something, take a few minutes to search the web for a few recipes and some inspiration before ordering in.

Also, as promised, I’ve been tracking my food on Weight Watchers every day. I’ll try to get better with sharing each day with you. Below is today’s food which also happened to be the exact same as yesterday’s. See, I said I’m a creature of habit!

imageIn addition, the winner for the Gaiam 3 month subscription is Lauren from Fun, Fit, and Fabulous! Please email me your contact information.