Fail-proof Roasted Veggies đŸ„•

Fail-proof Roasted Veggies đŸ„•

Hey fam 😊

Hope you’re loving summer, wherever your summer might have landed you!

If there’s one summer meal must-have, it’s grilled fish. Or grilled chicken wings. Or, grilled anything. If there’s two – oven-roasted veggies are going on at the same time.


I’d like to let you in on the secret to perfect roasted veggies, because I feel like it’s a complete game-changer. If you already know about this, you know exactly what I mean. And once you’ve got a method you like, it’s easier to want to try different veggies and easily bring a lot more variety to your plate.

Who ever thought asparagus could look so tempting? 👀


Ok. Here’s the classic “recipe” –

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You’ll need:

  • An oven
  • A baking sheet, or pan of any kind
  • A spatula
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Veggies (carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes asparagus, broccoli, etc.)
  • Other spices/parmesan (optional)

Start by preheating your oven to “bake” around 375 F, or a little hotter for potatoes. Maybe 425. You’ll figure out what works best for your oven/each veggie pretty quickly, but you can always cook longer or less depending on how toasty you want them to look!

Wash up your veggies if they’re fresh – use a scrubber to get all that dirt off 😝

(This works great with frozen veggies as well! Just pour them right outta the bag onto the pan.)

If you’re using potatoes or something bigger like that, you can chop them into thin strips, little wedges, chunks, “fries” – whatever!

The fun part- drizzle a little olive oil all over your pan of veggies. About a tablespoon for a decent-sized tray, or just enough to lightly coat the veggies.

The good fats in olive oil help us absorb more of the vitamins and minerals in veggies, so it’s a win-win for taste and nutrition.

Then, hit em with a few pinches of salt. Sea salt, pink salt, whatever! You can add other spices if you have some you really like. If you’re roasting sweet potatoes or butternut squash, you could skip the salt and add cinnamon. But they’re good salted too!

P.S. – If you’re watching your sodium, either a) measure the total amount of salt you use and make sure you don’t consume more of a serving than you need, or b) substitute other spices or one of Mrs. Dash’s salt-free seasonings. Or skip it all together, because just the olive oil will make these pretty darn good.

Once you get ready, stick your pan in the oven! You should do this about 1 hour before you wanna eat.

Cook 25-30 minutes, pull the tray out (with hot pads!), flip all the veggies over with a spatula, and cook 25-30 more.

If you wanna add some Parmesan, pull the tray out again with 10-15 minutes to go and sprinkle some on. This is especially great on green veggies like asparagus or broccoli! đŸ˜Š

And after about an hour, here’s your final product!


Veggies should be crisp and lightly browned. YUM 👅

Temperature, time, etc. are totally modifiable to suit different ovens, vegetables, and tastes – but this should be a good outline to cooking veggies well. It’s hard to mess up – and if you turn the oven light on, set a timer, and stay nearby, you’re not likely to!

It’s also a nice method because you can put these in, forget about them until your timer goes off and it’s time to flip, and use that time to get the rest of your meal ready. Or, if you have some chicken or something already cooked, you can roast these and keep studying or cleaning or whatever, heat up the other stuff in the good old ‘wave, and you’ve got a super low-maintenance but awesome dinner.

This method has also been known to win over even the pickiest of veggie eaters, because it makes them taste super crispy like french fries 🍟

Hope you love ’em!

If you have (or find) a favorite roasted veggie or a favorite spice to add, let us know in the comments below!

xoxo 😘 Stay bright!

Rae

Fear of Failure 🍳 

Fear of Failure 🍳 

Our days are already mapped out. Did you know that?

Every single one, written in God’s book.

We get to choose how hard we work at our jobs, what we watch on TV, what we eat, who we spend time with, how often we blog… but He already knows every choice we’ll make before we make it. If we are believers in Christ, His Spirit continually draws us to the places we need to be to make an impact for Him. He knows we’re not perfect, and He will use us and bless us anyway. He actually couldn’t use us if we were perfect… because there’d be no room for Him. People would just see us.

Human perfection is a myth, and this principle bleeds over into every area of our lives. The desire for perfection can actually hinder progress – it’s hard to keep pressing forward when we’re continuously looking back and trying to fix what we messed up, or mentally beating ourselves up over our mistakes. So much can be gained from being accepting, especially of ourselves, and getting back at it.

I can name countless areas where I’ve done both – beat myself up, or kept going – and the latter is always more beneficial. Sports, relationships, eating healthy, school… yeah. Even if you win at everything you attempt, there might still be something you could’ve done better. But that’d keep you from celebrating your victories!

You know what I’m really not perfect at? Among a lot of other things… cooking.

My first cooking experience at my new home in Auburn involved making a huge mess in the microwave (should’ve used a bigger bowl). I know how to make oatmeal… but sometimes new variables enter in. My new microwave is way more powerful than the one in my dorm was. I used a different bowl. The list goes on. However, I could’ve saved myself some cleaning if I had been watching the oats while they cooked. So, that was my takeaway from this – the first time you do something new, keep an eye on it.

empty bowl
My oats were still delicious 😉

My first time using the oven here… I burned my thumb. Don’t try to watch TV while you’re getting a pan out of the oven. But, if you do, life will go on, and the roasted carrots will still be pretty good.

carrot
Roll carrots in olive oil & salt; Bake @ 325 for 30 minutes, flip, and bake 30 more.

I’ve made some really yummy food for myself and my family, and I’ve learned a ton about cooking for one person. Some of my top tips include buying what you like, buying frozen veggies and meat often (because you can’t use fresh as fast as you think), and keeping staples on hand for quick meals. Also, I’ve learned that (though I’m definitely a snack lover) cooking real meals is so much more satisfying, and so much more nourishing to the body, than just eating some stuff out of the cabinet for dinner. Cooking for yourself also gives you a sense of personal pride (Yeah, I made that, and it was darn good!) and is SO much healthier than eating out all the time. Eating out is good for the soul, sure, and can be perfectly healthy a few times a week, but home-cooked meals have the potential to be so much better for the body. Plus, you pick exactly what ingredients go in (Don’t like mushrooms? You’ll never have to pick around one), how much goes on your plate, and you don’t have to wait on somebody else to put your order in with the chef.

People like to say they “can’t cook.” Well, don’t take my word for it, but…

“Anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great” – Chef Gusteau (Ratatouille)

You can do it. To make it good, you just need practice, and maybe a little help from somebody whose cooking you like. And if you don’t enjoy being in the kitchen, I’ve got some tips that might help you out with that.

  1. Pick out things at the store that make you excited to cook. I love anything breakfast-y, anything with the word almond in it (almond butter, almond milk…), fresh fruit, dark greens, and whole grains. Oh yeah, and sweet potatoes. When you’re the chef, you’re in charge – why not make a meal out of your favorite healthy foods?

    bfast dinner 2.0
    Sweet Potato, Kale, & Egg  Skillet + Kodiak cakes + Almond butter + Berries + Almond Milk
  2. Make some noise in the kitchen. Listen to your favorite music, turn on the TV, call a friend, or recruit others to hang out with you while you cook. You don’t have to isolate yourself! The kitchen should be one of the warmest and liveliest places in the house. Just don’t let yourself get distracted while you’re pulling a pan out of the oven!
  3. Cook ahead. I love already having the tough part of a meal done, especially during the week. If I cook 2 decently large chicken breasts one night, I can work that into 3 or 4 meals and only have to cook the veggies and rice. If it’s been a long day, I’ll just throw that chicken on a tray with corn tortilla chips and a little cheese, chop up an avocado or a tomato, and call it nachos. Or, if it’s been a really long day… salad takes 2 minutes. It’s always there for me.

So yeah, cooking can be really fun. Therapeutic, even. At the very least, you can definitely do it! Never let fear of failure or imperfection get in your way. With cooking, diet, exercise, sport, school, a new job, or anything else in life – Go for it, and you might surprise yourself!

Good luck 😘

Rae

Me

Toast to a sweet week! đŸ»

Toast to a sweet week! đŸ»

Hey y’all 😊

I’m happy to report that last week was wonderful (& busy). The race went pretty well for me! I plan on doing a post on race day nutrition soon, because I feel like I really nailed my pre- and post- run fuel this time. I’d love to share what I’ve found that helps me and works for me on race day, so that maybe you’ll find some ideas for fueling your activities as well.

Looking forward to this next week, I’m setting my intentions and goals, and making sure my room is clean and ready for me to get work done in. I also just prepared some overnight oats to grab for breakfast tomorrow morning 😊

cocoa chia nectarine overnight oats
Cocoa-chia-nectarine overnight oats. Can’t wait till morning!
Sunday is such a necessary rest day for me. It gives me time to breathe, get ready for my week, and ask God to speak to my heart, correcting and refining my focus before I step back into the world again. If you need a little fresh air tonight, check out one of today’s sermons at churchofthehighlands.com or troychurch.tv 😍 They were both fabulous.

This week I’m doing oats for breakfast, but last week I made fancy toast every day! That’s what I want to share with y’all in this post – how I took yummy toast to wayyyyy higher nutrient-dense heights last week. I dare you – go beyond butter for a change!

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Sweet Potato Toast!

My first crazy idea was to buy these microwaveable sweet potatoes they sell in a package at Publix. I crave these guys, and the dining hall hadn’t had them in forever. It’s not their fault, they just don’t understand my love. They tried to trick me with butternut squash, which are nice… but just not the same. So here they are!

So, I microwaved these guys for 7-8 minutes, and while they cooled I popped some toast in the toaster. You know I love hearty, whole grain bread with a lot of seeds in it, but lately I’ve preferred the lighter (and much cheaper!) store-brand, classic, fluffy whole wheat. It tastes more like spring.

The first morning I made the sweet potato toast, I did it like this – slices, topped with a drizzle of natural almond butter, a sprinkle of cocoa powder, and a few roasted almonds.

toast day 1
Great breakfast for a chill Saturday.
I really enjoyed it!! I have to say, though… day 2 turned out way better. I used the pre-cooked sweet potatoes, and made a mash with almond butter, cinnamon, and a little unsweetened almond milk. Then, I decorated with a drizzle of unsweetened coconut yogurt, maple agave, and a few salted almonds. Oh my gosh, it was wonderful!

Once I get my own kitchen and a big knife…

If you google “Sweet Potato Toast,” you’ll see that you can actually turn slices of sweet potato into toast! You can have yummy toasted slices without using any bread at all. Bread is definitely a staple in my diet, but I don’t want it to be all I eat. Sweet potatoes are low on the glycemic index, which means they won’t spike your blood sugar as high as many other carbs, giving you more sustained energy. They’re also full of countless vitamins and minerals. And they satisfy the sweet tooth. And they go great with cinnamon, which research shows can help lower blood pressure. I love that our food can do more for us than just fill our tummies.

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The other new toast I made this week was Avocado Toast! 

This one’s pretty straightforward. You can do it mashed, sliced, however you’d like. I sprinkled salt and tricolor pepper on top, and it totally makes it THE BEST. This picture is from Wednesday, when I had a piece of avocado toast and the other with an egg on it (microwave-cooked!). Totally balanced carbs, fats, protein. I love it!

Have a great night, and a sweet week (no matter what you eat for breakfast)! And remember, whole grains will always give you the best bang for your buck. Greater satiety (fullness lasts longer), and more natural micronutrients and fiber.

With love,

Rae

National Hot Breakfast Month

National Hot Breakfast Month

It’s not very cold in Troy, Alabama right now (knock on wood), but that’s no reason not to celebrate National Hot Breakfast Month. When I get out of bed and my dorm room’s A.C. is kicking, there’s nothing better than a warm breakfast to perk me up before class. Warm foods seem to soothe the body – they gently awaken us, helping us to start the day relaxed instead of in a frenzy of worries and to-do’s. I just picked up this adorable smiley mug at The Confetti Crate (a local boutique), and it makes mornings a little bit sweeter too!

Smiley face mug - happy yellow coffee
Isn’t he adorable?

I love drinking coffee out of a pretty mug, and when you’re living the microwave cooking life, it’s also great for oatmeal. It’s way more aesthetically pleasing than a paper bowl, and you also get to have warm hands while you eat. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend trying a mug breakfast. Besides oatmeal, you can cook eggs, oat cakes, and French toast!

Besides being a good (temperature) warm-up for the day, cooking your own breakfast gives you a self-confidence boost right away. Trying a new recipe or just going to the effort to make yourself something you love sets the intention for the day – it tells your brain “I am not lazy, and I’m not afraid to achieve. I care about taking care of myself.”

Here’s a few hot breakfast ideas I’ve made recently, for your inspiration. You’ll probably notice a lot of oats – but I just bought some eggs, so I’ll be making use of them this week. An open-faced egg sandwich on whole wheat with strawberry all-fruit spread sounds awesome for Valentine’s tomorrow!

And remember this one? OMG yum.

Sweet potato stuffed breakfast with berries dairy-free vegan
Yum. Click here for my post on this!

Here’s the mug oat cake I made today – eek! It was delicious!! I combined the oatmeal directions with a cake batter mug cake recipe, and this was the result. I would’ve made it in my pretty mug, but I went with a smiley cup instead because I was already drinking coffee from it.

Sweet cake batter oatmeal bake
Quaker Protein Oats + vanilla extract + almond milk + egg + a touch of olive oil butter = this cake-y goodness!

I plan to feature the recipe for this oatmeal bake ^^ and my microwave whole grain french toast in an upcoming blog on dorm “baking.” It’s really trial and error – but I can share what I’ve learned!

christmas pancake chocolate chip all foods fit
A real hot breakfast – My family’s Christmas morning chocolate chip pancake feast!

This one’s just me reminiscing… Christmas morning. I think this is why hot breakfasts make me feel happy – I miss my family. Remember, y’all – a microwave will never cook like your dad’s skillet, and that’s ok. Savor every part of life, because each day holds things you’ll miss tomorrow!

Cheers, and happy almost-Valentine’s!

Spread the love,

Rae

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Breakfast-Style Sweet Potato

So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the benefits of natural foods for the body. Yesterday, I spent some time researching the effects of certain foods on the skin, and felt motivated to include more foods in my diet that are minimally processed, lower in refined sugar, and provide a spectrum of vitamins and minerals.

potato-1

As a result, I ended up taking home an extra sweet potato from the dining hall last night. Sweet potatoes are high in Vitamin A, C, and B6, Manganese, Potassium, and fiber. They pack a lot into a small, nutrient dense package – they also generally won’t give us as high of a blood sugar spike as white potatoes. I started thinking about hash browns, and I realized – if white potatoes can make it into the breakfast club, why shouldn’t sweet potatoes? I searched Pinterest for some sweet potato breakfast recipes, and most people made them into a hash (which looked delicious!). Being in my dorm room, that wasn’t really plausible for me – so I came up with my own idea.

This breakfast sweet potato is stuffed with roasted cinnamon and crushed walnuts, and topped with a drizzle of maple almond butter, a few dollops of silk vanilla yogurt, and some fresh berries. These were all ingredients I had on hand – You could mix this up with any type of nut butter, fruit, or yogurt. These are my favorite toppings in the world added to my favorite vegetable, so naturally, this was one of my favorite breakfasts ever made.

Here’s my recipe! You might choose a larger or smaller potato, and more or less toppings than I did, depending on your size and energy needs. If at home or in an apartment, you could get fancy and heat this in the oven, but it was great just microwaved.

Ingredients

  • 1 Medium Sweet Potato (cooked)
  • Roasted cinnamon, to taste
  • 2 walnut halves, broken into small pieces
  • 1 tsp Justin’s Maple Almond Butter
  • Silk vanilla yogurt, 1/4 container
  • Blueberries and raspberries, to garnish

-Pull your left over sweet potato out of the refrigerator. Make a slit down the center, and push the ends in to open it up.

microwaved

-Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir up the inside. Heat for 30 more seconds, and your sweet potato should be warm and ready to top!

-Stir in roasted cinnamon and walnuts; Drizzle almond butter and yogurt; top with berries.


I feel so energized after eating this! I also had my protein coffee and the rest of my silk vanilla yogurt on the side to balance out this breakfast. I’m about to go conquer a beautiful Thursday – 2 exercise science classes, studying, track practice, and weights. I hope your breakfast fuels you to do something great!

Stay vibrant,

Rae