Parmesan Crusted Pork Chop Sheet Pan Dinner

Sheet pan dinners are all the rage right now- as they should be!

What’s not to love about tossing all ingredients onto one pan and throwing it in the oven to bake while you finish up doing whatever it is you need to do?!?!

I love sheet pan dinners, and often recommend them to my clients as a part of their meal plans because it can reduce or minimize dishes, makes planning easier, and can result in a comforting, satisfying, and nourishing meal the whole family can truly enjoy. The best part is that it can be super simple and easy!

That’s why this month, as a part of our recipe redux community, we are sharing our healthy twists on sheet pan dinners so you can add to your recipe collection and feed your families delicious and nutritious meals for weeks to come!

IMG_20170801_160943

Pork chops are not a normal go-to in our family’s meals. Partly because my husband is not a big fan because they can be easily overcooked, and we tend to buy pork tenderloins instead – which would totally work here!

Most people often think that you can’t eat pork healthfully-as a part of a heart healthy, weight-conscious meal plan. But you can! You just need to pick the right cut of meat- center cut pork chops or trim off any visible fat on the perimeter or pork tenderloins are great options! You just want to make sure there isn’t much marbling within the meat portion- that’s the saturated fat that we need to be mindful of consuming less in order to decrease excess consumption which can lead to plaque build up, elevated LDL cholesterol, and heart disease over time.

IMG_20170801_160947

No matter what type of lean protein you are picking for your sheet pan dinner, think about what it can be paired with and that it includes a non-starchy veggie (broccoli + beets in this case) and an optional fiber-rich carbohydrate (think potatoes, corn, corn or whole grain tortillas, etc- sweet potato in my recipe).

The non-starchy veggie provides fiber, nutrients, and volume to the meal while the fiber-rich carb is also providing benefits and fullness from fiber, but can also serve as the little sweet treat on the plate too.

If you’re planning for the whole family and have multiple tastes and preferences to consider, pick a couple options that are well-liked staples and a new option or two to encourage trying new things at the same time! My daughter will eat all of this, but not everyday and it depends on the day. This was a great meal to offer to here to try to get in all the nutrients I’m aiming for, but keeping things familiar for her at the same time. If I would have put a pan together of flank steak, peppers, onions, and tortillas (which is a great option)- I know she’d likely only touch the tortillas. So it’s considering her preferences but completely accommodating her and offering her a separate meal of only mac ‘n cheese or chicken nuggets. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes that happens too. #thisisreallife

IMG_20170801_182301

Now that you have the background of how to plan these meals to fit everyone’s needs and likes, let’s get onto the recipe! You know me, I’m not much of a measure-r when it comes to cooking quick dinners, I just tend to sprinkle things on, but here’s the specifics to start that you can adjust to your liking.

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops with Roasted Broccoli, Sweet + Beets 

Ingredients:

4-8 center cut pork chops (or pork tenderloin)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 Tablespoons whole wheat bread crumbs

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1 sweet potato, diced

2-3 beets, peeled & diced

1 bag of frozen broccoli

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

Directions:

Spray a baking sheet with non stick spray and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

On the prepared baking sheet, add the pork chops and sprinkle each with a pinch of the seasonings (garlic powder to parmesan cheese).  Press the parmesan cheese lightly into the meat with your fingers.

Lay the broccoli, sweet potatoes, and beets onto the tray (or a separate tray if it won’t all fit on one without over crowding the pan). Lightly drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss well to combine and coat with the seasonings.

Add some black pepper to the pork chops.

Place the baking sheet/s in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Checking on occasionally, and tossing as well. If the pork chops are finished cooking sooner than the veggies (internal temp reaches 145 degrees), simply remove them and place on a serving dish to rest until the veggies are finished (I like my veggies with a little more “char” on them, so they need a little longer than the pork).

And that’s it! You can enjoy your evening with a fairly low maintenance dinner. You can do the dishes, hang with your kids, do whatever is on  your evening agenda before it’s time to hit the hay and start it all over again tomorrow! =)

xo,

Enjoy dinner time with your family!

Becca


For other sheet pan dinner recipes from other recipe reduxers, check out the link below:

 
recipe-redux-linky-logo
 

Carrot Apple Salad

This Illinois girl is absolutely loving the cool front we have been experiencing for the last week or so! Over the 10 years that I’ve been living in New Orleans, one of the things I miss most about the Midwest is the fall weather. I love everything about fall, and sometimes can get down that I’m missing out on those favorite things as we don’t experience fall until October (if we’re lucky- more recently the past years it’s been November & December or even January before it cools off}!

Isn’t it crazy how much the weather can impact our feelings which can play such an important role in our mood, emotions, and therefore, even our food choices?

IMG_6279

We all most likely have associated food with feelings of comfort and satisfaction in some form or fashion at some point in our lives. The key {and challenge} is keeping this as positive and inspirational part of our day, not as a crutch to heal or numb our emotions when we are down. I didn’t say it was easy or without its struggles though.

IMG_6280

This carrot salad is an older recipe of mine that I twisted from Panera‘s carrot salad when I first started my blog.

The difference is that there’s no added sugars here and it’s rich in protein and fiber! It’s a cool, crisp, and fall-like recipe that’s nothing more than fruits and veggies.

The cinnamon adds a nice warming spice and sense of autumn while the salad itself is refreshing and crunchy. Have it as a snack on its own, or spread out the servings and use part of it with a meal that’s richer in veggies and lean protein.

IMG_6281

Carrot Apple Salad

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

4 cups carrots, julienne (or shredded)

1 apple, julienne

1/2 cup raisins

2 Tbsp water

1/2 tsp cinnamon

¼ orange, juiced

1/2 lemon, juiced

½ cup 2% plain Greek yogurt

Directions:

In a large bowl, add the carrots and apple. In a separate bowl, combine raisins and water. Microwave the raisins for 15 seconds.

Combine the raisins with the carrots and apples. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Allow to “marinade” for a few hours or for a day in the fridge.

Nutrition facts (per 4 servings): 150 calories, 1 grams fat, .5 grams saturated fat, 95 milligrams sodium, 33 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 21 gram sugar, 5 grams protein

IMG_6282

This recipe is a good example of how you can take a recipe and make it comforting and satisfying for yourself, meeting your emotional needs, but it can also be nourishing and helping to keep your overall health and wellness goals in check.

We need to be mindful of our emotions and our needs, but learn and work towards keeping foods as nutrient rich and helpful as possible.

Enjoy!

xo,

Becca

 

Peach Kiwi Smoothie

It may be after Labor Day and all- which means the unofficial end of summer and the start of fall- but in NOLA we are likely to feel summer-like weather all the way into late fall.

And while smoothies are perfect for the summer; their cool, refreshing qualities helping to keep us hydrated and nourished in the hot summer days- they can be great any time of year!

IMG_20170801_094910_9155

I have my go-to smoothie that I use repeatedly; I most often pick a strawberry banana fruit base with plain Greek yogurt for the protein, probiotics, and calcium with a few flavor and nutrient enhancers like nut butter, flax seed, and spinach. This peach kiwi twist is a fun way to switch out colors and flavors to refresh your palate!

IMG_20170801_0654022

Peach Kiwi Smoothie

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

1/2 peach, sliced

1/2 kiwi

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon peanut or almond butter

1 cup spinach

3 ice cubes (can omit if using frozen fruit)

1/4 cup Fairlife skim milk

1/4 cup plain coconut water

Directions:

In a blender, add all the ingredients and blend until well combined.

IMG_20170731_072224

xo,

 Becca

Meal Planning: Families with Tots and Particular Tastes

Sometimes it’s hard to get your kids to eat anything healthy. And it can feel overwhelming to to try plan and prepare meals that will meet everyone’s nutritional needs and also taste preferences.

This is my current and ongoing struggle {as mentioned in a recent previous post}. Add in fatigue and boredom and it can make dinner time down right challenging.

This week I decided to plan a menu completely catered to my child’s taste preferences, while sneaking in nutrients as much as i could. And you know what, it’s easier to cook for my kid than it is for me and my husband.

It’s less time consuming, easier to prepare, and perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or something you can really work on over the weekend and use through the week as needed.

IMG_20170831_110408

soup + grilled cheese: start with a soup that has some veggies and/or protein in it (vegetable, tomato, black bean, even broccoli cheese). Cut the grilled cheese into fun finger-friendly shapes (can use cookie cutters) and let the child get whole grains from the bread, protein from reduced fat/2%/light cheese, and hopefully some extra nutrients with the veggies in the soup.

pizza: for shortcuts use mini whole wheat bagels topped with a homemade or jarred marinara topped with part skim mozarrella cheese, and again sneaking in veggies. The red sauce or marinara can count for your veggies, but if you can add artichokes, mushrooms, thinly sliced spinach, it’s all good efforts.

spaghetti: whole wheat pasta and marinara with meatballs or meatsauce. I prefer to make my own marinara because it’s an opportunity to add veggies that my daughter will not eat, even ones that my husband won’t eat. This week it was sliced mushrooms and zucchini, but I’ve also added carrots and you could add bell peppers, eggplant, etc

quesadillas: whole grain tortilla + reduce fat cheese + sneaking in veggies when can (think: pureed pumpkin, squash – even from the can – or shredded zucchini, in my case it was just a side of salsa, hoping she would dip it. Small steps, remember).

breakfast: whether it’s smoothies, pancakes, muffins, you can sneak veggies into all of these. Just have to be a little creative or experimental – or have reliable blog recipes – to play around with recipes that also have whole grains and low sugar.

pinwheels: whole grain tortilla wrapped around sliced veggies, protein, and a spread of something like cheese, hummus, guacamole. Slice it up and it’s like kid-friendly sushi.

crudite platters: assemble a mix of whole grain crackers, finger-friendly veggies, fruit slices, nuts, cheese, spreads like hummus, and some protein (think hard boiled eggs, chicken or tuna salad, guacamole). Switch our your types of fruits, veggies, crackers, protein etc. next time to keep everyone interested.

{For older kids who want and could benefit from more decision-making and involvement, I love taco bars, pizza bars, build-you-own burritos, etc to give them options of what they are adding in. As long as whole grains and veggies are made available, it’s a great opportunity for kids to pick what they want to try. If it’s nothing at the present moment, maybe next time they’ll be more adventurous.}

IMG_20170821_152451_316

{yes, I know I’m missing a veggie in this photo- it was a quickly thrown together afternoon weekend snack platter}

Your goal is to offer a protein, a veggie, and a whole grain {fiber-rich} option at each meal. If fruit and milk or yogurt also ends up on the plate, that’s fine too, and can often count towards the fiber and protein needs, respectively.

I find it helps to also include a small amount of something you know they’ll love. While my daughter didn’t try the salsa or the edamame here, she did eat more of the chicken quesadilla than anticipated simply because she was reassured by the 100% whole grain sun chips also included. Again, baby steps.While she really only ate grains/fiber and protein in this meal, next time I prepare it I can try to add a veggie to the quesadilla  OR replace the sun chips with my homemade brussels or kale chips {it depends on the day if she’ll eat these}.

IMG_20170826_122909

Just try to remember and reassure yourself no matter what your struggles are with nutrition, as with many things in life, it’s about progress over perfection. Yes, we want to offer the most healthy foods (whole grains, fiber, lean protein, healthy fats, vitamins/minerals), minimize added sugars, empty calories, and junk but we don’t want to foster a stressful and negative environment around food. Whether that’s for ourselves or for our children. Food is fun and comforting and that’s okay. We just also need to work towards it nourishing us as much as possible.

Happy meal planning!

xo,

Becca

Vanilla Yogurt Pancakes

The weekends are such a special time.

Time for yourself.

For your family.

For doing things you love with people you love.

So while you’re food choices are often more decadent and indulgent feeling, that doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy!

IMG_6127

Pancakes have always been something special and I love making them on the weekends.

My pancakes are 100% whole grain, made with more protein from Greek yogurt, with less sugar thanks to my 30-second fruit syrup made with no sugar added preserves, water, and a touch of sweetener.

They are satisfying and filling! I even make enough to last through the week for breakfast which at that point I top with almond butter and more for the all fruit preserves! Weekend vibes all week long!

IMG_6129

Vanilla Yogurt Whole Grain Pancakes with Homemade Fruit Syrup

Makes: 12-16 pancakes

Ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

dash of cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

1 banana, mashed

6 ounces Siggi’s Vanilla yogurt

1 cup Fairlife skim milk

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the syrup:

1 tablespoon all fruit spread or jam

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon syrup of choice

Directions:

Preheat a non stick skillet to medium, medium-low heat.

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour through nutmeg). In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients (banana through vanilla).

Pour the wet into the dry and gently combine.

Pour desired amount of pancake mixture into prepared skillet, also sprayed with nonstick spray.  When bubbles st art to form (after a couple minutes), flip the pancakes and cook on the remaining side for about half the time.

Serve warm with the syrup that has been combined in a glass jar and warmed in the microwave (about 30 seconds).

IMG_6133

The vanilla Siggi’s Skyr yogurt gives these not only extra protein (in addition to the Fairlife milk) but it also adds a touch of sweetness and fluff  to the pancakes.

Don’t be afraid of using whole wheat flour here, the pastry flour gives these a lightweight and soft texture. All the ingredients combined really help switch this (the yogurt, milk, banana) but you don’t have to worry that these will be hard and dense that can happen when using 100% whole grain products in place of traditionally-used enriched or refined flours.

If you need a gluten free version, you can substitute gluten free oat flour cup for cup in this recipe.

IMG_6128

Enjoy this recipe and the printable recipe card: Vanilla Yogurt Pancakes!

xo,

Becca

Caesar Dressing

IMG_6103

One of the first things I learned about my mother in law is that she is a great cook! And one of the first recipes I ever associate with her & that she then shared with me is her caesar dressing. I’ve twisted it ever so slightly over the years but it has always been a staple in our house. We even served it at our rehearsal dinner, we love it so much!

I’m sure you’ll love it too and there’ll be no need to search for a good store-bought brand when you can make your own at home!

IMG_6106

This is an egg-less caesar salad making it great for anyone avoiding uncooked eggs, like pregnant or nursing moms!

Caesar Dressing

Ingredients:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

~ 6 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 tube of anchovie paste

freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup olive oil

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a cruet or mason jar. Shake to combine well.

IMG_6109

Super easy but so delicious and flavorful!

My MIL crushes her garlic in a garlic press, but I finely mince mine. You choose what may be best for you and your family’s preferences.

Her original recipe stated to use “a lot of garlic” well I didn’t know just how much that was until I actually had to watch her make it one day while visiting because until then, mine just didn’t taste the same. My version of  a lot of garlic was 3-4 cloves, but no, she uses like 9-10? I may be exaggerating now though. I’ve lost track over the years. I may have toned it down or 6-7 may be the realistic amount. Either way, did i say it was deliciously amazing?

IMG_6111

Pair it with a salad for pizza night, steaks, burgers, or make an easy grilled chicken caesar salad! Printable recipe for your recipe collection: caesar dressing.

xo,

Becca

 

Strawberry Spinach Smoothie Pops

It might be a mouthful to say but these smoothie popsicles are a great way to get a bunch of the nutrients your child may be missing in a fun a treat-like food!

IMG_6076

I fed this to my daughter on our hot afternoon walk – and while it was messy- I was a happy Momma! I didn’t even care that her dinner was hit or miss because at least she ate some veggies – and enjoyed it!

I will admit, this is like the 4th or 5th attempt in giving these to her because she has resisted them in other attempts. At first she wanted them, but became quickly uninterested.

Then she wanted to try them, but said she didn’t like them… I was questioning this one knowing what other foods and flavors she does like.

Then she’d eat them again, only a few bites. Until finally she finished a whole one!

IMG_6079

I know how frustrating and tiring it can be to continuously offer kids healthy items even when you are pretty certain they’ll turn them down or say they do not like them.

Persistence is key my friends!

I often times feel successful at dinner- not even if she doesn’t eat her veggies- but as long as she was offered them and we all ate dinner together.

It can be hard enough to get our dinner together, while still considering likes as well without making 2 completely separate meals (because in all honesty, we shouldn’t be doing that)! But there are those nights when I can just eat cereal for dinner- and often do- and she does too! So while I’m glad she ate, I’m not thrilled with the fact it wasn’t a well-rounded meal.

IMG_6078

But I try to remind myself- and hopefully this brings you comfort- that you don’t have to be perfect. Kids are great at knowing what and how much they want. While we need to continue to offer and expose them to new and nutrient-rich foods, we also have to balance so many things in our day, so keeping it as easy and stress free as possible is so important, even nutritiously.

So Mommas, for those nights everyone eats pizza for dinner sans veggie or salad or the night you just throw fries and chicken nuggets into the oven, give yourself a break! Rest, refresh, and regroup for later. It’s just one day. There’s always tomorrow. The trick is to not let it become a habit!

IMG_6077

Strawberry Spinach Smoothie Pops

Ingredients:
6 ounces plain Greek yogurt

splash of vanilla extract

1 cup unsweetened fruit

1/4 to 1/2  cup Fairlife skim milk

1/2 cup coconut water

1 tablespoon nut butter

2 tablespoons flax seed

1 cup fresh spinach

ice

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth & combined. Pour into popsicle molds or paper cups. Freeze for about 10-15 minutes (insert popsicle sticks at this point if haven’t already done so). Continue freezing until firm and cold.

Enjoy as a snack or light meal!

Our milk go-to these days is Fairlife milk. I love that it has half the amount of sugar and carbs, but even more protein that traditional milk all because it goes through an extra filtration process (just like strained or “Greek”- style yogurt).

Speaking of Greek yogurt – I use Fage 2% or Siggi’s plain here – again for the lower sugar, higher protein content. Vanilla extract helps to add richness  & flavor without sugar. My daughter can eat plain Greek yogurt happily, but if your child is not this way, maybe start with a flavored Siggi’s yogurt.  I chose strawberries because -for once she’s not my child in this instance as she doesn’t like fresh fruits in general let along berries-  I’m incorporating what nutrients and flavor profiles she’s missing in her normal diet. And spinach, let’s face it, she doesn’t eat hardly any veggies, so this is the most neutral flavor, but nutrient rich option to add into a smoothie!

Enjoy!

xo,

Becca

 

And for an easy printable recipe, don’t forget to click here: Smoothiepops.