Running My First 5K and Conquering My Fear of Grilling…

I have been so busy recently that I have been neglecting blogging and it makes me sad. But I wanted to do a quick catch-up of my life lately! I’ve been settling into my new apartment quite well; I love having my own space and a nice big kitchen of my own! I had a friend over on Sunday and we fired up my grill for the first time. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous to use this grill for the first time. It was left by the previous tenant, and while it looks pretty new, I had this fear that I would turn the gas on and light it and it would explode. I have lots of irrational fears like this. But I decided that I just needed to try it and it would all be fine. I told my friend I wanted to grill us some lunch, so we made some chicken and veggie skewers…so yummy. I brushed the chicken with pesto and it was delicious. Oh and the grill didn’t explode (of course it didn’t). Now I can’t wait to start grilling all sorts of things!

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I also ran my first 5K race on Saturday! It was the Narragansett Summer Running Festival, which was held at Stonehill. I signed up for it awhile ago because I wanted to challenge myself – I’ve never run a full 5K before, just a mud run (which is basically half running, half climbing and getting dirty). I generally despise running, but I wanted to push myself and I figured running around my alma mater would be a nice distraction from the actual running! Going into the race, I had only run about 2.5 miles outside, so I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to run the whole 3.2 miles. However, I found it to be a lot easier than I thought, and the pretty campus and a great playlist of tunes certainly helped. I ran it in about 36 minutes, so my timing was pretty good! I won’t say I love running now, but perhaps I could be swayed into running another 5K. I enjoyed the rest of the weekend staying on campus and pretending to be a college kid again!

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One of my best friends is getting married this weekend, so I have a busy week ahead of me, but I know it will be a blast! 🙂

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Pesto Pasta with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Feta

I’ve almost been in my own apartment for a whole week – woah! I have to say that I have no complaints so far, other than missing having my roommates around. It can be lonely! But I do love having a whole fridge to myself, being able to do dishes/use the microwave late at night, and just generally being able to do my own thing. Since I was settling into the place this week and didn’t want to cook anything complicated, I made one of my favorite pasta dishes that comes together in minutes. I make this dish often when I need to whip something up that will be quick yet satisfying. This always fits the bill!

I first made this when I ventured out into the “real world,” when I was a rookie cook and new to living on my own (feels like light years ago!) I based it on a dish my college cafeteria used to serve, which was just bow-ties with spinach, tomato, and feta cheese. So simple yet so delicious. I have tweaked it a bit to make it healthier and jazz it up, but I still owe the Stonehill College cafeteria a big thank you for introducing me to this dish!

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Pesto Pasta with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Feta

  • Servings: 6 servings
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 box whole-wheat pasta
  • 1 bag spinach leaves
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/c cup pesto (or more/less to suit your taste)
  • Feta cheese

1.) Cook pasta until desired firmness. Drain and set aside.

2.) While the pasta is cooking, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven on medium heat. Once oil is hot, start adding in spinach, a handful at a time, until the whole bag is wilted, stirring frequently.

3.) When spinach is wilted, add the can of diced tomatoes to the sauce pan and let simmer for a few minutes. Then add pasta and desired amount of pesto and stir everything together!

4.) Top each serving with Feta cheese and enjoy!

Nutrition Info (Per serving, topped with 1/4 cup Feta cheese, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 448
Fat 21 g (5 g saturated)
Fiber 10 g
Carbs 54 g
Sodium 680 mg
Protein 18 g

Quick and Easy Veggie Pesto Pasta

Hello everyone! I have had a busy couple weeks…lots of tests and projects for school, a new position at work, and finally some sunny weather! Time is flying by; I can’t believe it’s already the middle of April and almost the end of my first year of grad school. Ah! But I have to say, I’m ready for this semester to be over and the summer to begin 🙂

Due to the hectic schedule I’ve had lately, I’ve needed to make some super quick and easy meals so that I can continue to eat healthy while constantly being on the go. I found a recipe for pasta with veggies and pesto, and since I had all the ingredients, it was perfect! It was delicious and super filling as well; I sort of forgot how yummy pesto makes everything until I made this dish!

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Veggie Pesto Pasta


Adapted from: iFoodreal

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pasta, uncooked
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 1 container cherry tomatoes, cut in half (about 2 cups)
  • 4 cups broccoli florets, steamed
  • 1 bag raw spinach (8 cups)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shaved or shredded

Directions:

1.) Cook pasta, drain, and put back into the pot. While pasta is cooking, cut cherry tomatoes into halves.

2.) In a large skillet, over medium heat, add olive oil and garlic. Saute for 30 seconds and then add spinach, a few handfuls at a time, and stir to wilt.

3.) When all the spinach is wilted, move over to one side of the skillet and add the chopped tomatoes. Add half of the pesto, stir, and let cook for a few minutes. Then add broccoli and stir again. Let cook for a few minutes to let the flavors develop.

4.) Add the pesto veggies to the pot with the pasta. Add cheese and remaining pesto and stir everything together. Serve with a little shredded parmesan on top!

Nutrition Info (Per serving, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 315
Fat 15 g (4 g saturated)
Fiber 7 g
Carbs 32 g
Sodium 407 mg
Protein 13 g

Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad

One of my goals for 2015 is to run a 5k…not a mud run, but an actual RUN. I am not a fan of running, which is why I enjoy doing the mud runs; you get to climb over a bunch of obstacles and only have to run in between them. However, I would like to become a better runner and maybe even enjoy it (maybe). Over Christmas I ran while I was at my parents’ house because I didn’t have a gym to use. It was also in the 50s a few days! Only in New England. I actually was able to run about 2.6 miles comfortably, and probably could have kept going! I was surprised at this, since normally I can run a max of 2 miles and that usually happens on a treadmill. I think I have the strength training workouts from the Amanda Adams program to thank for this 🙂 Anyways, I bring this up because I just signed up for my first 5k – the Narragansett Summer Running Festival! It’s not until July, giving me plenty of time to get ready, but I am doing it with a couple friends and it’s at Stonehill College, so I get to run around my old alma mater. And you get a few Narragansetts at the end. Running actually sounds ok if it ends with a few beers!

I made this delicious pesto bow-tie pasta salad with fresh zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes to bring to my friend’s lake house last summer. Naturally, I left it all in the fridge at home, so I ended up having to eat it all myself (I guess that’s not the worst thing!) I never posted the recipe, but thoughts of running outside and warmer days reminded me of it. I’m sure it would be just as big of a hit in the winter time as it would be in the summer! It would also probably be good served warm. Hmm now I may have to whip up a batch again soon…let me know if you try it out!

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Veggie Pesto Pasta Salad

Adapted from: Joy of Kosher

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb bow-tie pasta (or any other pasta you like!)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 2 yellow squash, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.) Cook pasta until desired doneness. Drain and set aside.

2.) Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, zucchini, and squash and sauté 3 to 5 minutes or until just tender. Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes.

3.) In a large bowl, combine cooked squash and tomatoes with pasta, pesto, and cheeses. Mix well to combine and add salt and pepper, if desired. Serve warm or refrigerate until cool and serve chilled.

Chickpea, Tomato, and Mozzarella Salad with Pesto

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! I had a great time catching up with friends and family, relaxing and enjoying some delicious food and drinks! Although it was in the 50s in New England, we still got into the holiday spirit 🙂 Now that I am back at work and back “to normal,” I was ready to make something light to eat after the holiday feasting! I had found this recipe on Pinterest and decided it would be the perfect way to switch up my normal lunch salads. I added avocado because I think avocado makes everything better, and it reminded me of the avocado, mozzarella and tomato salad I made for a party this summer that was a huge hit. But this salad was delicious without avocado as well, in case you aren’t a fan, and let me know if you think of other ways to jazz it up too!

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Chickpea, Tomato, and Mozzarella Salad with Pesto

Adapted from: Two Peas and Their Pod

Ingredients:

  • 30 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1-2 cartons grape tomatoes, cut in half (I only used one and thought it wasn’t enough!)
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 8 oz mozzarella “pearls”
  • 5 small avocados (optional)

Directions:

1.) Mix everything except avocados in a large bowl. Portion into 5 containers.

2.) If using avocado, dice and add to the salad the day you plan to eat it, then mix. Add salt and pepper if desired. Enjoy!

Nutrition Info Without/With Avocado (Per serving, from My Fitness Pal):

Calories 342/ 494
Fat 16.4 g/ 34 g
Fiber 9.3 g/ 12.6 g
Carbs 30 g/ 36.4 g
Sodium 792 mg/ 792 mg
Protein 17 g/ 18.6 g

Two Recipes with Zucchini and Squash “Noodles”

Happy Monday everyone (if there is such a thing)! I had a great weekend with family and friends enjoying the last few weeks of summer. Grad school classes start next Wednesday for me…I can’t believe September is almost here!

I recently picked up the Veggetti (mentioned in my post here), so I wanted to try making squash and zucchini “noodles” and see how they came out. I decided to make a couple “pasta” salads to bring to the beach this weekend, so I grabbed a couple summer squash and a zucchini and tried the Veggetti. It was SO EASY; you literally just twist the veggies into it and they come out in long, spiralized noodle form. I literally turned around and my boyfriend had already turned an entire squash into noodles. Then you just chop them a bit so they aren’t so long, add your favorite ingredients, and a healthy salad is born. Doesn’t get much easier than that!

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I decided to make two salads this weekend; one with pesto and feta and the other with Italian dressing and parmesan. Both were a huge hit with my parents and friends; everyone was surprised they were zucchini and squash noodles!  I left the noodles raw in each recipe rather than saute them, since I was serving them cold. I think I will try sauteeing them in olive oil when I make a hot main dish with the “noodles”! For each recipe, add however much of each ingredient you like, mix together, and enjoy!

Zucchini and Summer Squash Noodle Pesto Salad

Ingredients: zucchini and summer squash “noodles”, pesto, Feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, salt and pepper

Zucchini and Summer Squash Noodle Italian Salad

Ingredients: zucchini and summer squash “noodles”, Italian dressing, parmesan cheese, cucumbers, red peppers, salt and pepper

Anyone have any other recipe tips for using the zucchini and squash noodles? I would love to hear any new ideas!

Veggie Pesto Pizza

Earlier this week I needed to make dinner, but wanted something relatively quick. I had bought frozen organic pizza crusts from Trader Joe’s awhile back, so I decided to make one for dinner! I had veggies and cheese, then added some pesto when I cooked the veggies to boost the flavor. The crusts are about 10″ around, so they are personal sized. I had half for dinner and ate the rest for lunch the next day. It was just as delicious reheated!

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Veggie Pesto Pizza

Ingredients:

  • Personal-sized pizza crust (I used Trader Joe’s organic)
  • Pasta/marinara sauce
  • Mozzarella balls
  • Onions, peppers, cherry tomatoes (and any other veggies!)
  • Shredded Italian cheese
  • Pesto (I used sun-dried tomato basil)

Directions:

1.) First, let crust thaw per package instructions (about 15 minutes). Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2.) While the crust is thawing, cut cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls in half.

3.) Next, saute onions and peppers until cooked. Add in cherry tomato halves and pesto and cook until soft.

4.) Put a thin layer of pasta sauce on pizza crust and top with shredded cheese.

5.) Then add in the pesto veggies and top with mozzarella balls and more shredded cheese, if desired.

6.) Bake for 12-15 minutes until toppings look bubbly. The crust was a little soft on the bottom of mine, so I probably could have cooked it a little longer. It may have been because I had a lot of toppings!