Healthy Fast Food: Is There Such a Thing?

A few weeks ago, I posted this article over on my Facebook page.  A reporter for Business Insider decided to eat a fast food diet for an entire week.  The catch?  She would only choose the healthy options at each place.

More and more, fast food restaurants are adding things like kale salads, quinoa, and overall healthier items.  Their customers are demanding better food and they’re trying to deliver.  But are they really? Sometimes the healthy option is actually worse than their regular fair.Healthy Fast Food: Is There Really Such A Thing? | Life Healthfully Lived

I totally understand how it sounds complaining about fast food.  Everyone does it.  They are an easy target.  It’s simple to point at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King and say, “You’re what’s wrong with our health and obesity problem.”  There have been countless documentaries, news stories, articles, and research dedicated to this theory.  I don’t want to add more noise to the crowd with this.

I just want you to really think about your own life and your food choices.Healthy Fast Food: Is There Really Such A Thing?

Is a McDonald’s kale salad really fulfilling your nutrition needs or are you getting it because it’s convenient and you think it’s what you should get?  How often are you getting fast food, healthy options or not?  Does your body feel as good as it possibly could?  Do have energy to get through your day, exercise in some form, and enjoy your hobbies?

These are the thoughts that should go through your mind each time you sit down to a meal and yes, please try to sit down for your meals.  More often than not, I’m going to guess eating anything at a fast food joint isn’t going to leave you feeling as satisfied as a homemade meal.  Like the reporter in the article found, she actually wasn’t eating enough at each meal and she was eating way too much salt.  Fast food isn’t meant to really nourish your body.  It’s meant to be, well, fastHealthy Fast Food: Is There Really Such A Thing? | Life Healthfully LivedHealthy Fast Food: Is There Really Such A Thing?

If you get the majority of your meals in the form of fast food, I’m not saying you’re a bad person or unhealthy.  I just want you to think about your options.  Could you possibly make some of the things you’re eating in your own home?  Making your own food is always going to be better for you than getting it from somewhere else.  It doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated, just a little meal prep and you could be eating your own kale salad for lunch instead of relying on McDonald’s. Healthy Fast Food: Is There Really Such A Thing?

I get it.  Fast food is easy and cheap.  You don’t have to think too much about it.  But maybe you should.  You might see a big change, not only in your waistline, but your whole well-being.

 

Sweet Potato Hash

Sweet Potato Hash | Life Healthfully LivedThe time has come to share the sweet potato hash that won the hearts of my family over Christmas.  And they have promised me that they really do like it, not just because it was made by me and they have to pretend to like everything that I make.  It’s actually good.

Plus Adam keeps asking for me to make it which is a good indication that he really likes something.  Although the boy did use to but corn syrup on his pancakes and didn’t like mac n’ cheese as a kid.  Seriously, what kind of psycho doesn’t like cheese and noodles as a child?  My husband apparently.

Anyway, back to this sweet potato hash.  I was trying to think of something to make for a crowd for Christmas brunch that tasted good but was still a little healthy.  Gotta balance out those cookies!  I had a bunch of sweet potatoes lying around and instead of just roasting them up like I usually do, I decided to fancy them up a bit.  Ok, not that much but I added some bell peppers, onions, and cilantro and was amazed at how just a few ingredients made such a big difference.

So if you’re looking to change up your normal breakfast hash, give this sweet potato version a whirl.  Promise you won’t be disappointed!

Sweet Potato HashSweet Potato Hash | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 2-3 large sweet potatoes, washed and dried
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • handful of fresh cilantro, stems removed and chopped
  1. Once your potatoes are washed and dried, dice into small cubes.  You want to make sure they are fairly small and uniform inside so they cook properly.
  2. In a large skillet that has a lid, heat a little olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and saute for a few minutes until a little soft.  Add the bell peppers and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the sweet potato cubes and half the minced garlic and mix everything together.
  3. Sprinkle everything with the Italian seasoning, smoked paprika, and a little salt and then cover with the lid.  Let the everything cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so the potatoes don’t stick to the bottom.
  4. Once the potatoes are fork tender remove the lid and add the rest of the garlic and seasonings.  Cook for another five minutes.  Turn off the heat and add the cilantro and stir to combine.Sweet Potato Hash | Life Healthfully Lived

This hash is awesome served with a poached or fried egg on top.  But then again, most dishes are better with an egg on top.  Tomorrow is Adam’s birthday so we plan to spend some time eating good food downtown and probably going to see Star Wars again.

What does your weekend look like?

Leftover Fatigue

TheLeftover Fatigue | Life Healthfully Lived struggle is real you guys.  Thanksgiving is the beginning of the major leftover season.  And by the time you finally get rid of all of the Thanksgiving leftovers, Christmas comes and you have even more.  For some reason, when it comes to holiday meals we think that we have to feed 5,000 people even if there are only 7 or 8.  And if there are more than that?  Might as well feed a stadium full of people.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love leftovers.  I am the queen of leftovers.  Leftovers are the only way that my husband gets lunch during the week.  Leftovers are the only thing that feeds the both of us when I’m lazy and just want to pull something out of the freezer instead of make an entirely new meal.  Leftovers are amazing.Leftover Fatigue | Life Healthfully Lived

But you can get tired of them after awhile.  Especially if you’re having a turkey sandwich for the 20th day in a row.

So I thought that I would give you a few ideas of how to use up your leftovers in new and inventive ways.  You don’t have to have the same meal over and over again.  With these ideas, you can use up all that extra food, save money, cut down on food waste, and never get bored.Leftover Fatigue | Life Healthfully Lived

I don’t have exact recipes for these meals, but I will give you a basic outline so you can be as creative as you want with these.  I’m also going to share one of my absolute favorite leftover meals, my mom’s Thanksgiving casserole.  I’ve made a few changes to make it slightly healthier, but it is an awesome way to use up a lot of leftovers.  The great thing about casseroles is that they are really hard to mess up, and you can pretty much add whatever you have on hand to your meal.

Turkey

Turkey is the main dish, but people usually focus on all the side dishes.  Which means you’re left with like 20 lbs of bird and you can only eat so many turkey sandwiches, even if you do love them like Ross Gellar.Leftover Fatigue | Life Healthfully Lived

Here are a few more ideas for your turkey:

  • Dice it up into cubes or shred it and make turkey noodle soup.
  • Season turkey shreds with your favorite taco seasoning and make turkey tacos or burritos.
  • Cut it into long strips and put it on top of your salad.
  • Make turkey salad following this recipe.
  • Use cubes or shreds in your breakfast hash.  Bonus points if you use leftover sweet potatoes or regular potatoes!
  • Make the casserole at the end of this post!

Cranberry Sauce

Many people aren’t huge fans of cranberry sauce, it’s just something that has to get made for Thanksgiving.  Those people haven’t tried my sauce or my mom’s cranberry relish.  Either way, you probably have a good amount leftover.  Try some of these ideas out:

  • This might not be a super novel idea, but use a little cranberry sauce in your turkey sandwich.  The nice tart bite really adds another layer to a boring turkey sandwich.
  • Try adding some cranberry sauce to your morning smoothie or oatmeal.
  • Use it as a topping for meatloaf or my lentil loaf.  You can also add in leftover stuffing and carrots or green beans to make it a Thanksgiving loaf.

Sweet Potatoes/Mashed Potatoes

Many families have multiple potatoes at their feast, so there is usually a few containers full of leftovers.  Luckily, you can try these to get a little variety out of your potatoes:

  • Try making a soup out of your potatoes.  For sweet potatoes, puree them with coconut milk and add in onions and garlic for a creamy soup.  Or make a chowder with leftover mashed potatoes, corn, carrots, coconut milk, and any other vegetables you have on hand.
  • If you have sweet potato casserole leftovers and they are on the sweeter side, add them to your smoothie or oatmeal.  It adds a nice fall/creamy flavor
  • Make a Thanksgiving shepherd’s pie.  Combine turkey, carrots, celery, onions, some stuffing, and any seasonings you like.  Put them into a pie dish and then top with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes.  Bake uncovered at 425 for 20 to 30 minutes or until the potatoes start to brown a little.

Bread/Rolls/Stuffing

You probably have a good amount of bread left over and instead of just using them as the base of your turkey sandwich, plan ahead with a few of these ideas:

  • Let rolls or other bread dry out a little and then pulse them in a blender or food processor to make breadcrumbs.
  • Cut the bread into cubes and let them dry out and have homemade croutons on hand for salads.
  • If your bread or rolls are just a little stale, make a french toast casserole.  Cut the bread up into cubes.  Mix together milk (almond, coconut, or regular), a few eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.  Put the bread and some leftover cranberries into a casserole dish and pour the milk/egg mixture over everything.  Bake at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes until the top is slightly brown. Top with whipped cream and maple syrup.

Leftover Turkey Casserole

  • 2 to 3 cups leftover stuffing or 2 packages cornbread stuffing mix
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 1 or 2 cup turkey pieces
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup or try my homemade cream of celery soup
  • 1/2 cup broth or water
  • optional: cranberries, potatoes (we add my mom’s shredded cheesy potato casserole)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  If you are using packaged stuffing, moisten it with a little oil, broth, and hot water until it is smooth but not overly soupy)
  2. Oil a 9 x 13 casserole dish and line the bottom with the stuffing.  Mix together the cream soup and turkey pieces and layer this over the stuffing.  Top with potatoes, cranberries, and if you want it a little crispy on top, some bread crumbs.
  3. Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes until top is nicely browned.  Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

So there you have it.  A plethora of leftover ideas to keep you sane and well-fed all holiday season, plus a casserole to use up the rest of your Thanksgiving meal.

Oh and as for leftover dessert?  Just eat that for breakfast 🙂Leftover Fatigue | Life Healthfully Lived

What is your favorite way to use up your leftovers?

 

Thanksgiving: Round 2

Like many people, I get to celebrate the holidays multiple times.  Marriage opens up new families and traditions to be celebrated and that means twice the holiday fun.

Yesterday, I spent the day with Adam’s side of the family, cooking, laughing, drinking, and spending time together.  It was a great day and I really do enjoy experiencing family gatherings with his big family.  Adam’s mom is one of 10 and when you get everyone together there are easily 20 to 30 people crammed into the house.  And that’s what Thanksgiving and Christmas are about right?  Shoving as much love and happiness into a room as possible.

Today is the Buchanan Thanksgiving and while it is a smaller affair, it’s no less heartwarming or full of family.  I love getting together with my family and sharing our traditions year after year.  One of my favorites is signing the tablecloth.

Many moons ago, when Thanksgiving was exclusively at our house, my mom had the idea to get a plain white tablecloth and have the whole family sign it every year.  It’s become kind of like a history book for us.  I can look back and see when I couldn’t even write my name, remember when certain friends came for dinner, and watch the transformation of our family.  I loved this idea so much that for our wedding Adam and I had our guests sign a tablecloth instead of a guest book.

I’m not sure what your day after Thanksgiving traditions are, but whether you are a black Friday shopper or have another meal to get to, I hope that you are enjoying your family time and celebrating your own traditions!

Last Minute Thanksgiving Round-Up

Tomorrow is the big day and instead of my usual DIY Wednesday post, I thought I would do a round-up of some of my recipes that would make a good last minute dish.

These meals are fairly simple to put together and they are sure to please everyone at the table.  Which is no easy feat with a big crowd!

Appetizers

My Favorite Hummus- Last Minute Thanksgiving Round-Up | Life Healthfully Lived

Start everyone off with some veggies and dip.  This hummus is my favorite and while it does take a few extra steps, it tastes so much better than store bought.  You can also make it a few days in advance so you don’t have to worry about it the day of.

Carrot Fennel Soup- Last Minute Last Minute Thanksgiving Round-Up | Life Healthfully Lived

Soup is a really good first course and this carrot fennel soup could not be easier to make.  The slow cooker does all of the work and all you have to do is puree it right before you serve it.  Again, you could make today and then just heat it up right before it’s time to eat.

Sides

Quinoa Cornbread Bites- Last Minute Thanksgiving Round-Up | Life Healthfully Lived

Try this healthy twist on cornbread and I bet people will like them just as much.  Also, other than the flax seed, most of these ingredients are things that you might already have on hand.

Spicy Cranberry Sauce- Last Minute Thanksgiving Round-Up | Life Healthfully Lived

This is my all-time favorite side dish for Thanksgiving.  My mom makes an awesome cranberry relish, and I discovered the awesomeness that is spicy cranberry sauce last year.  This comes together really fast and can be made right before serving.

Mains

Pumpkin Gnocchi-  Last Minute Thanksgiving Round-Up | Life Healthfully Lived

I have been making a butternut squash version of these for the past few weeks and they would be a fun addition to your table.  They are great for vegans and gluten-free folks who might have a harder time finding something to eat.  You can prep these today and pop them in the freezer.  Then you can just pull them out and cook them in boiling water when you’re ready to serve them!

Butternut Squash Gnudi-   Last Minute Thanksgiving Round-Up | Life Healthfully Lived

Another vegan/gluten-free main dish that you could make today and then serve tomorrow.  It is a little labor intensive, but if you have a lot of hands on deck to help, you can pull these together in time for the big dinner tomorrow.

Desserts

Frosted Pumpkin Blondies-  Last Minute Thanksgiving Round-Up | Life Healthfully Lived

Like brownies but with pumpkin.  Plus a simple frosting?  Big win in my book.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies-  Last Minute Thanksgiving Round-Up | Life Healthfully Lived

I love a good oatmeal cookie and the pumpkin in these make them really moist and delicious.  They also make a great breakfast the next morning…

Over On Girlish

I also write recipes for Girlish and I have a few tasty Thanksgiving dishes over there that you should check out!

Cranberry Coffee Cake- Last Minute Thanksgiving Round-Up | Life Healthfully Lived

If you have guests that are going to be there in the morning, this coffee cake is great to have on hand.  It tastes like it’s bad for you, but it actually has some really healthy ingredients

Thanksgiving Wild Rice-  Last Minute Thanksgiving Round-Up | Life Healthfully Lived

I am going to be bringing this to the two Thanksgiving’s that I am going to this year.  It comes together fast, good for vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free folks, and tastes like Thanksgiving all in one meal.

Hopefully you aren’t stressing too much about your feast and you can find a few recipes here that you and your family will enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving friends!