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SNAP Challenge 2014: Day 4 ( + vegetarian lasagna rolls)

SNAP Challenge Day 4 | doughseedough.net

We’re over halfway through the Challenge, folks. Honestly? Today was the best I’ve felt so far. Maybe it was because I got to see Mike. Maybe it’s because I realized that we probably have enough food for the week. Either way, I’m going to go to bed happy and a little less worried tonight.

Today I ate:
Breakfast: oatmeal with egg
Lunch: vegetarian lasagna rolls
Snack: tortilla chips
Dinner: chicken taco soup
Snack: peanut butter toast, raisins

Today Mike ate:
Breakfast: oatmeal with raisins
Lunch: vegetarian lasagna rolls
Snack: peanut butter toast
Dinner: chicken taco soup
Snack: peanut butter toast

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is for spinach tofu lasagna rolls. Yes, tofu. Keep reading. Mike had the lasagna rolls during Day 3 of the Challenge. I asked him what he thought of the tofu and he just stared blankly at me… “what tofu?”

Apparently he thought it was just (really bad) ricotta! Well, surprise – there is no ricotta in this, either! I subbed in low fat cottage cheese (easier on the wallet and on the waistline) and mixed in plenty of good-for-you spinach.

{vegetarian} Spinach Tofu Lasagna Rolls | doughseedough.net

Spinach Tofu Lasagna Rolls

1 pound package lasagna noodles
1 teaspoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
19 ounces firm tofu, crumbled
3 cups chopped spinach
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 cups marinara sauce, divided

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, and set aside on a large baking sheet to dry out slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds. Add tofu and spinach and cook, stirring, until spinach wilts, about 2 – 3  minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in cottage cheese, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
  4. Spread 1 cup sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish. To make the lasagna rolls, place about 1/4 cup mixture on a noodle and spread across the entire noodle. Roll up and place the roll, seam-side down, in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and filling.
  5. Spoon remaining sauce over top of the lasagna rolls and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.
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SNAP Challenge 2014: Day 2 (+ a recipe!)

SNAP Challenge Day 2 | doughseedough.net

 

Day two is done. For me, it was just as weird as the first day. I wasn’t feeling 100% like myself due to the obnoxious cold I get hit with. Here’s what I ended up eating:

 

Breakfast: oatmeal with raisins
Lunch: peanut noodles with shredded chicken and veggies
Snack: cottage cheese
Dinner: peanut noodles with shredded chicken and veggies
Snack: apple
To drink: crazy amounts of peppermint tea sweetened with a bit of agave, water with lemon

 

So let’s move on to what I’ve been eating the past few days: peanut butter noodles with chicken and veggies!

 

This dish was crazy easy and it’s super customizable. I used bell pepper and carrots as my veg in this dish, but just about anything you have on hand will work. Feel free add more soy sauce, if desired. I only used 2 teaspoons because I ran out and didn’t budget for it in my SNAP Challenge budget. The most time-consuming part was cutting all the dang carrots up. I didn’t have my mandoline or grater  with me, but I highly suggest you use one to make prep a little easier. Alternately, just chop the carrots up. A little less pretty, but just as tasty.

 

Another bonus? The noodles taste stellar hot or cold. I opted to eat mine mostly hot since it made my throat feel better, but you just follow your heart (stomach? taste buds?) and do as you wish!

 

Peanut Noodles with Chicken and Veggies | doughseedough.net

Peanut Noodles with Shredded Chicken and Vegetables

1 – 13.25 ounce package of whole grain spaghetti
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
3 carrots, julienned
2/3 cup natural creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons sriracha, more or less to taste
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  1. Place chicken in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until no longer pink in the middle and internal temperature reaches 165°F, about 12 minutes. Remove to a cutting board and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, shred with two forks.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 2/3 cup of the pasta water. Set aside.
  3. While pasta is cooking, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, garlic, and ginger. Whisk in 2/3 cup of hot pasta water to thin sauce. Taste, and add more soy sauce and sriracha if desired.
  4. Toss pasta, bell peppers, and carrots with peanut sauce. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

 


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SNAP Challenge 2014: Menu Planning & Grocery Shopping

In honor of Hunger Action Month, I am once again taking on the SNAP Challenge from September 15 – 21. With cuts to the SNAP funding last November, we were left with even less to work with this year. The goal was to work with $4.25 per person for each day, giving us $59.50 to work with. This is $3.50 less than what we had last year when we completed the Challenge. It doesn’t seem like much, but $3.50 could have gotten us quite a bit more food.

The $59.50 must cover everything we eat or drink in the next week – this means no going out; no free food from family, friends, or coworkers; and no running to the store mid-afternoon for a snack. Any food that you currently have in the house is out-of-bounds, with the exception of spices and condiments.

SNAP Challenge Prep | doughseedough.net

Planning for this year’s SNAP Challenge was way more stressful that last year. On top of a more limited budget, I had to figure out how to feed both of us while we’re living in two cities, meaning I had to come up with meals that I could prep ahead of time and leave behind for Mike. I’ve also become a lot less aware of how much I was spending on groceries these past few months and I’ve fallen out of the habit of menu planning. I did my best and ended with the following menu plan:

Dinner:
Spinach & tofu lasagna rolls
Chicken taco soup
Peanut butter noodles with chicken and veggies
Pasta with zucchini in a lemon-yogurt sauce

All lunches, as usual, would be dinner leftovers. Some dinners would be leftovers as well. This plan follows pretty closely what I do on a weekly basis – make a few dinners that we eat for several meals.

Breakfast:
Oatmeal with raisins
Greek yogurt with agave
Regular fruit yogurt
Peanut butter toast

Snacks:
Celery/carrots with peanut butter
Apples
Toast with peanut butter

Groceries for SNAP Challenge 2014 | doughseedough.net

We did most of our shopping at Aldi, as I’ve found that it’s the most economical option out there. I ended up getting two things from the Asian grocery store near our house, since Aldi doesn’t carry ginger or tofu. Here’s the breakdown of what we bought:

Produce:

  • Cilantro: 0.69
  • Onions: 1.79
  • Celery: 0.49
  • Avocados (2): 0.49 each
  • 3 pack of garlic: 0.79
  • Baby spinach: 1.79
  • Granny smith apples: 3.29
  • Lemons: 2.29
  • Bananas: 1.20
  • Carrots: 0.99
  • Ginger: free (from the Asian grocery store -this always happens when I get the 1″ nubs of ginger)
  • Corn (3): 1.00 (from farmers’ market)

Dairy:

  • Extra sharp cheddar: 1.99
  • Individual yogurt cups (4): 0.39 each
  • Parmesan: 1.99
  • Low fat cottage cheese: 2.29
  • Plain nonfat Greek yogurt tub: 3.89

Protein:

  • Eggs: 1.15
  • Chicken breasts: 5.99
  • Firm tofu: 1.79 (from Asian grocery store)

Canned/dried:

  • Natural creamy peanut butter: 1.49
  • Diced tomatoes (2): 0.59 each
  • Black beans (2): 0.59 each
  • Tomato sauce: 0.25
  • Tortilla chips: 1.69
  • Spaghetti sauce: 0.99
  • Agave: 2.49
  • Old fashioned oats: 2.29
  • Whole grain spaghetti (2): 0.89 each
  • Lasagna noodles: 1.49
  • Lemon juice: 1.89
  • Raisins: 2.89
  • Whole wheat bread: 1.29

Total: $56.85 ($2.65 left)

What we picked from the garden: the few tomatoes we had left, two small bell peppers, hot peppers, and zucchini.

I think I did OK, but I won’t really be able to tell until the week is over. I will admit that I had a minor meltdown while we were shopping because I realized that I hadn’t planned for enough meals. I had to figure out another meal last-minute and hack off a bunch of “extras” we had on our list like coffee (Mike willingly gave this up!), almonds, peanuts, and more fruit and vegetables.

 


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One Pan Sausage Skillet Dinner

It’s been quite a few days and I still smell campfire everywhere I go. I finally realized that it wasn’t my skin, hair, or clothing. The smell has somehow permeated into my glasses. I’ve soaked and scrubbed them, but to no avail. I love campfires, but this is a little much! I guess from now on I’ll have to camp sans-glasses. Essentially blind. I may end up just falling into the campfire…

When you’re camping, the fewer dishes to wash, the better. Seriously. Mike and I are so determined to keep our dirty dishes to a minimum that we ate straight out of the pan instead of dirtying two plates 🙂 This one-pan meal takes minutes to throw together and minutes to clean up. If you don’t have a fire to cook over, try baking this in the oven!

One Pan Sausage Skillet Dinner | doughseedough.net

(Please forgive me for the photo – turns out that Me + Camera – Light – Tripod = Disaster)

One Pan Sausage Skillet Dinner 

serves 4 – 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds baby red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 large red onion, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound baby carrots
1/2 pound mushrooms, halved (quartered if large)
12 ounce package of chicken sausage (I used Johnsonville’s Chipotle & Jack sausage)
4 beef bouillon cubes, crushed
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, chicken broth, or water
shredded cheddar cheese, optional

  1. Coat a large cast iron skillet with olive oil. Arrange potatoes on bottom in an even layer. Spread onions, garlic, carrots and mushrooms evenly on top. Arrange sausage over the vegetables.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together beef bouillon, onion powder, garlic powder, dried minced onion, and black pepper. Sprinkle spices and soy sauce over the sausage and vegetables. Cover the skillet tightly with heavy-duty foil and cook over a fire for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until potatoes and carrots or tender and sausage is cooked through. Sprinkle with cheese, cover and return to fire for an additional 1 – 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.


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Turkey & Rice Taco Skillet

Before I dive into our weekend adventures and the recipe,  I want to explain why I haven’t been posting as much (and why I’m eating dairy again). I’m unable to complete even a simple 5 mile run without almost collapsing. I can’t eat without being sick. Two of the most important things in my life: running and food, are now what frustrate me the most.  I’m taking it a day at a time, praying that my doctors can figure out what’s wrong with me soon so I can go back to being normal. Until then, I’ll be posting a bit less; it’s hard to post new recipes when you don’t each much of anything besides cereal and salads 🙂

But onto happier things… Mike and I went on our first camping trip of the season this past weekend with our pups. It rained Friday, but Saturday was picture-perfect and we were able to get in a nice long hike. Really long hike. Because we got lost. But hey, what’s the point of life without a little adventure? I’ve got two camping meals to share with you this week. For our Friday night dinner, I made a Turkey and Rice Taco Skillet. It was pouring, but we huddled under the tarp with the dogs and ate our dinner. It was the perfect meal to keep us warm in the cold, wet weather. I figured I would share this recipe first since it kind of works with the whole Cinco de Mayo thing, too.

Though this was made over a campfire, it is easily adaptable to be made at home on the stove top. That’s the beauty of cast iron – it can be used inside and outside. I’ve finally gotten my “inside use” Dutch oven and skillet to where they are pretty darn well seasoned. The skillet I used while we were camping, though, has been on hundreds of camping trips with Mike when he was growing up. The skillet is so perfectly seasoned that it puts my pieces to shame. I guess I have something to work on, eh?

Turkey & Rice Taco Skillet {camping meal} | doughseedough.net

Turkey and Rice Taco Skillet
serves 4 – 6

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, minced (seeded if desired)
1.25 pounds lean ground turkey
1 packet hot taco seasoning mix
4 cups water, divided
3 cups Minute Brown Rice
1 – 15 ounce can corn
1 – 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 – 14.5 ounce can chopped tomatoes with jalapenos
1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
sour cream to garnish
olive oil spray

  1. Spray a large 12″ cast iron skillet with olive oil. Add garlic, onion, and jalapeno and cook over the fire (or medium-high heat) until onions are tender. Add the turkey and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in taco seasoning and two cups of water. Bring to a simmer and stir in rice and remaining two cups of water. Let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes, beans, and corn and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed.
  2. To serve, divide between 4 – 6 bowls. Sprinkle with lettuce, cheese and top off with sour cream.

 

 


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Spring Veggie Quinoa Power Bowls

Spring is here. With spring, comes spring cleaning. Most people clean out their closets and rid the house of dust bunnies. Why don’t ya take it one step further and clean up your lunchtime routine? Stop running to the closest fast food joint and prep this at home the night before instead. Your body will thank you.

I love quinoa for its amazing health benefits. It has protein, fiber, and iron, plus lots of vitamins and minerals to keep your body healthy and help it repair itself. It’s naturally gluten free and it is one of the few plant foods that is considered a complete protein. As an added bonus, the texture is really, really cool. It can be a bit on the pricier side when you compare it to other grains like pasta, bread, and rice, but it’s worth the cost. (Hint: I like getting it from Costco. They come in huge bags for a good price and it lasts forever.) Asparagus is also packed with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. How could you not love a veggie that is a cancer-fightin’, health-improvin’ machine?

spring veggie quinoa power bowls | doughseedough.net

This quinoa bowl is packed with goodness and is so easy to throw together. It’s ready in under 30 minutes and it’s good warm, cold or at room temp. What more could you ask for?

Spring Veggie Quinoa Power Bowls | doughseedough.net

Quinoa Power Bowls
serves 4

1 cup quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
olive oil spray
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and chopped into 1 ½ – 2 inch pieces
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 – 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 large lemon, juiced
8 cups spring mix (lettuce or other salad base of choice works, too)
4 ounces feta cheese
1/2 cup almonds
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Bring chicken broth to a boil. Add quinoa and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until all liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the dish. Spray a large pan with olive oil. Add garlic and onion and saute for 1 – 2 minutes, or until onion softens. Add asparagus, bell pepper, and garbanzo beans and cook until vegetables are tender-crisp, about 3 – 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and squeeze lemon juice over the vegetables. Toss to combine.
  3. To serve, divide the spring mix between four bowls. Fluff quinoa with a fork and place on top of greens. Top with vegetables, feta, and almonds.

 

adapted from Clean Eating Magazine


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Southwest Turkey Meatball Skillet

This easy meal uses my favorite baked turkey meatballs and is on the table in 20 minutes. The best part? Cleanup is simple – this is a one pot meal, folks. If you’re a starch-lover like me, serve this with your favorite crusty bread, quinoa, or brown rice.

Southwest Turkey Meatball Skillet | doughseedough.net

Southwest Turkey Meatball Skillet
serves 4 – 6

16 baked turkey meatballs (recipe here)
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn
1-15 ounce can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
4 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
4 cups chopped kale
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft, about 3 – 5 minutes. Stir in corn, beans, tomatoes, kale, and broth. Season with lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  2. Nestle meatballs into the vegetables and bring mixture to a simmer. Partially cover and let cook for 3 – 5 minutes, or until meatballs are heated through.
  3. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.