Tuscan barley dinner

This was actually the first time I’ve ever had barley.

I heard it was similar to rice – but with a heartier texture, nuttier taste, and a decent amount of protein. Sounds like a carb I could get used to.

However, I didn’t really know what to pair it with. I searched online for some recipes, but nothing really jumped out at me. Since a plain carb is somewhat of a blank canvas I decided to liven it up with sausage, peas, onions, and cheese – as if it were a pasta dish.

The result was absolutely delicious & super filling! My husband and I practically licked our plates clean, and I’m definitely looking forward to making this again.

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Spicy lemon baked shrimp

It’s been a while since I’ve eaten (let alone cooked) seafood.

I was really craving flounder fillet… maybe broiled with some lemon, butter, and parsley…  but when I got to the fish market, these jumbo shrimp just caught my eye. They were huge.

I needed to buy them and eat them for dinner ASAP.

That broiled flounder does sound delicious, though. There’s always next time 🙂

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Loaded protein pancakes

My husband and I LOVE breakfast foods, especially pancakes and waffles. On the down side, they have little to no nutritional value – especially protein.

For me this is a big no-no. Since I work out regularly and lift weights, I need to eat enough protein to remain full, fueled, and ready to build muscle. This pancake recipe uses hemp, a plant-based protein. Though I prefer the taste of standard whey protein, it often gives me an upset stomach where hemp does not. The vanilla flavored hemp has a pleasant taste, and it blends in seamlessly with the Bisquick powder to create a mildly sweet pancake with great texture.

With a mix-in of chocolate chips, blueberries, or whatever else you want to toss in there – these pancakes will keep you full & energized and are super tasty.

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Mediterranean chick pea salad

My mother always says I’m like my grandmother because I have a sweet tooth and a knack for making killer salads. She was known for eating a pack of kitkat bars for dinner, but could seriously jazz up any entrĂ©e with an amazing salad.

Sure, salads aren’t a difficult thing to make. Many of them don’t even require cooking of any sort. But when one is composed of the perfect combination of veggies, a tangy dressing, and spices that brighten up the dish – it can truly be something wonderful.

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Low-sugar BREAD MACHINE banana bread

Well… LOWER sugar, at least. This recipe makes about 16 servings, and each one is around 9.5 grams of sugar… which is pretty damn low for a fruit-based bread. This is still as yummy and sweet as ever, and super simple to make because the bread machine does everything for you – from mixing to baking!

This bread makes a killer french toast for breakfast, or warmed up with butter and jam. It’s also perfect if you want it for dessert with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and some berries.

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Tex-Mex turkey stuffed peppers

September is drawing near a close, and the first full month of school is almost over. The mornings and evenings are becoming more brisk, and soon enough we will have true autumn weather.

Autumn is definitely my favorite season. I love the colors of all the leaves, the cooler (but not too cold) weather, apple and pumpkin picking, hot apple cider – the list can go on and on. But the BEST thing about the weather getting cooler is eating hearty, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. That’s right – the warmer weather is on its way out, and its time for me to start turning the oven on once more.

This dish is the perfect segue between light summery meals and autumn comfort. You still get to eat a low-carb meal that incorporates beautiful peppers and a good deal of tex-mex heat, while the filling is hearty and cheesy.

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Lemon chicken stew

Unfortunately, kids have germs. And now that I’m teaching again, I’m surrounded by kids. Welcome to my first upset stomach of the school year.

Whenever I’m having tummy troubles, I eat chicken soup for lunch and dinner. But I HATE most canned soups – they have practically no flavor and barely any chicken. I prefer to make my own in the crock pot – it’s relatively little prep, I can add a substantial amount of protein, and I can season it the way I want to.

My favorite type of chicken soup is Greek Avgolemono. There’s something about lemon and chicken that pairs so well together. I love that the soup is thick, almost like a stew.

I decided to make this lemony chicken stew as a spinoff of standard chicken noodle soup and greek avgolemono soup. I kick it up a notch with some Italian dressing seasoning, two different kinds of pepper, and some protein pasta. It’s soothing enough to heal a troubled tummy but tasty enough to eat when you’re feeling great.

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PB&J greek yogurt parfaits

This is the second day of school with my kiddos and the hectic bustle of the school year has officially hit me. This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s exhausting – So I’m keeping this brief and cutting to the chase.

Who doesn’t love a peanut butter & jelly sandwich?! This epic dessert takes the delicious nostalgia of a PB&J and turns it into a sweet, creamy, & crunchy treat. The best part is that it contains 18g of protein and is only 280 calories per serving (this recipe makes 2) – so it will keep you feeling full without destroying your diet. And it’s totally giving me a much-needed energy boost right now. #winning

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Dark cherry wheat bread

This time of year is the end of cherry season – so I’ve been trying to load up on them before I can’t find them at the grocery store anymore. This summer’s harvest has been as fresh and delicious as ever. I usually just eat mine as is, but my eyes were bigger than my stomach when I bought quite a few pounds of them recently. I knew I wouldn’t have enough time to snack on my cherries before they started to go bad, so I had to start incorporating them into some pies, tarts, and breads.

This was the perfect opportunity to have fun with my bread machine (some of you know how obsessed I am with my bread machine). This bread has a wonderful balance of components and flavors – a bit of fruity sweetness from the cherries, a bit of dense chewiness from the whole wheat flour, and just a tad of spice from the cinnamon and nutmeg. This loaf is perfect sliced up and eaten as toast with butter and jam, in the bread basket at dinnertime, or as a killer PB&J.

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Italian sausage & pepper burgers

I love a good hamburger from the grill, but lately I’ve been getting bored by the standard burger. I’ve been switching things up a bit – occasionally I’ll make chicken burgers instead of beef, I’ll experiment with different cheeses, and I’ve done pretty well with trying a variety of toppings. I’ve gone from the staples of lettuce, tomato, and pickles to pulled pork, hot peppers, and fried eggs.

The other day I found sweet Italian sausage patties in the grocery store and I just had to grab them. It’s been a long time since I’ve had sausage & peppers (one of my favorite comfort foods), and I was determined to turn one of my favorites into a burger. I decided to kick things up a notch by giving my burgers some classic garlic bread buns.

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