I’m sharing 3 of my recent favorite and easy meal prep side dishes.

 I’m not a traditional meal prep person where you essentially cook 1 main protein and carb choice in bulk, then portion them into containers for the week.  That method is very helpful and efficient for many people and there’s TONS of ideas if you simply search “meal prep.”  However, I’ve never been able to stick with it because I love to cook and try new things!!

So while my method is very similar, I’m just adding the protein and bringing a little variety each day. So, whatever your method (or lack thereof) rock your next lunch break with one of these 3 delicious and easy meal prep side dishes!

The secret to my easy meal prep side dishes is having items on hand that require little to no prep and can be used in a variety of dishes. That’s right…meal prep that requires little prep.   Each recipe featured today includes edamame!

Meal Prep Side Dish idea #1: Roasted Sweet Potatoes w/edamame and fire roasted peppers and onions (Great alongside eggs for breakfast or paired with your choice of protein)

roasted sweet potatoes

This combination is bursting with flavor and packs a nutritious punch!  Roasted sweet potatoes are a staple in my fridge *almost* every week.  They’re ridiculously easy to prepare and super versatile.  Next time you turn your oven on, toss in a sheet of sweet potato cubes and other veggies you may enjoy.  Carrots, red onions, green beans & cauliflower are other favorites.

Meal Prep Side Dish Idea #2: Cumin & Lime Quinoa Salad w/Edamame and Mini Peppers
quinoa and edamame

Quinoa is so incredibly versatile.  I love the freshness of the lime juice paired with crisp mini peppers, edamame, and some corn for sweetness.  Sprinkle in a little cumin and it’s terrific as a standalone side dish or toss with some leftover chicken for a simple and very nutritious meal.

Disclaimer:  My favorite quinoa side dish is still my copycat BJ’s Brewhouse Copycat Bistro Grains. There have been several versions of this “bistro grains” on their menu, but I’ve never liked another one as much as the one I recreated.

Meal Prep Side Dish #3: Israeli Couscous with Edamame and Carrots 

israeli couscous salad

Last but not least Israeli couscous gets paired with edamame, matchstick carrots, and red onions for yet another super versatile meal prep side dish.  Shown above topped with leftover buffalo grilled chicken.

Israeli Couscous has a wonderful nutty flavor that pairs nicely with just about anything from sweet to savory.  Just a light drizzle of olive oil with some salt and pepper and I could eat the whole pot…

So there you have it!  3 super simple meal prep ideas that start with a main base – sweet potatoes, quinoa, couscous- and are versatile for whatever leftover veggies and protein you have on hand. 

ITEMS/METHOD USED:

*SWEET POTATOES: peeled, cubed, tossed in a bit of coconut or olive oil (or just lightly sprayed with non-stick) and roasted at 350* for 40 minutes.  Season with cinnamon or a combination of cumin/smoked paprika/cinnamon!

*FIRE ROASTED PEPPERS & ONIONS: frozen bag from Trader Joe’s.  Great for adding to omelets, quesadillas, paninis, soups, and more!  The fire roasted gives so much flavor that it’s worth finding a variety similar if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby.

*FROZEN EDAMAME: provides a good amount of protein and crunch to more than just salads!

*QUINOA: if you’ve not given quinoa a try I recommend starting with the red variety.  Cook according to the package and try substituting chicken broth for water depending on the recipe.

 

 

Side Dish

Incredibly delicious and creamy carrot soup that requires little work but is big on flavor and nutrients! Topped with buffalo grilled chicken for a flavor combination that’s too good to be true. Trust me…

creamy carrot soup

My husband thinks I eat weird food sometimes.  Carrot soup would definitely fit that category for him, but I’m telling you there’s more to explore than just chili and chicken and noodle soup.   I mean we enjoy burgers with peanut butter and hot pepper jelly on them so how can carrot soup be so weird? Right?!  Thank you for siding with me.

Soup must be either thick and creamy (like this carrot soup) or full of ingredients with every spoonful. No wimpy broth soups!   The decision to top this with leftover buffalo grilled chicken is brilliant and shouldn’t be left out!! 

Even though this soup is a vibrant orange, it’s not overly carrot-y.  Does that make sense? hahaha. I was worried it would taste too earthy or bitter and it definitely does not.  Think thick tomato soup, but carrot flavor with a punch.  That punch comes from the roasted red peppers.  DELISH.

carrot soup with chicken

I’ve never gotten the hang of meal prepping for the week but I’m an aficionado when it comes to repurposing leftovers.  So while this post is mainly about the carrot soup, I HIGHLY encourage you to make some marinated buffalo chicken to top it off.  You can use the rest of the chicken for paninis, toss it in a salad, or wrap.  However if you’re short on time this soup is delicious as is and needs nothing but a spoon.

You won’t regret having this on hand though…

buffalo chicken marinade

The recipe makes enough for 3 large bowls.  Each bowl (3 servings without chicken) is approx 115 calories 0fat, 26g. carbs and 6g protein.

Let me know when you try it!

 

Creamy Carrot Soup w/ Buffalo Grilled Chicken

Ingredients

  • 156g carrots, peeled and diced (about 4 carrots)
  • 1 jar fire roasted red peppers, drained (I used Trader joe's)
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • salt to taste
  • Buffalo chicken Marinade

Instructions

  1. Begin by marinating chicken, preferably overnight or at least a few hours. While chicken is marinating preheat oven to 350* and prep carrots. Arrange carrots on baking sheet with non-stick spray and roast 40 minutes. (don't forget to include some other veggies or potatoes while the oven is on!).
  2. In a small pot saute onion 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and saute 1 minute continually stirring. Add broth, roasted peppers, and beans. Bring to a simmer then pour into blender. Add carrots and blend until desired creaminess. Add more broth if desired.
  3. *I 'grill' my chicken indoors either in my cast iron skillet or grill pan.
  4. *After chicken cooks I allow it to rest 5 minutes then slice and add back to skillet (scraping out any burnt marinade pieces) with marinade to soak up all the flavor.
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Soup

Let’s breakdown this title: Low fat – Ham & Pineapple – Flatbread – Pizza.
What’s not to enjoy about that combination?

low fat ham and pineapple flatbread pizza

This ham and pineapple pizza didn’t start out low fat.

Often times I’ll make a quick pepperoni pizza for the kiddos using crescent rolls.  Unfortunately, the only cheese we had on hand when it came time to making the pizza was a block of pepper jack.  The kids really wanted ham and pineapple, but no pineapple was in the house either.

“What would Pioneer Woman do?” I ask myself.

She’d dig through her fridge and make a pizza with what’s she got!  So that’s what we did…and it was fabulous.

crescent roll pizza

The low-fat version I swapped out the shredded pepper jack cheese for a wedge of laughing cow cheese and used a Flat Out wrap instead of the crescent rolls.  I love flat out wraps because they’re low calorie, provide a good amount of protein and fiber!

The low fat version came in around 210 calories providing 24g. carbs, only 6g. fat, and a total of 21.5g. protein! (numbers are approximate calculated from wrap, ham, cheese, and sauce used.)

If using crescent rolls the approximate calories would be 485 with a breakdown of 33c, 25.5f, and 28.5p.  (figuring 2 crescent rolls and 2oz pepper jack cheese, all else remaining the same)

Laughing cow cheese is a staple in my fridge.  We use it in so many ways from pasta sauces, to veggie dip, gyro sandwiches, and even melted in omelets.  While it worked great to keep the fat low in my ham & pineapple pizza, I’d prefer real melty cheese and would probably do it with a little of both next time.  However, it’s nice to have tasty options when you’d rather get your fat calories elsewhere in the day!

flatbread pizza low fat

 

Low Fat Ham & Pineapple Flatbread Pizza

Ingredients

  • Flat out Wrap (I used Italian Herb)
  • 1 wedge Laughing Cow Pepperjack Cheese
  • Pizza sauce to liking
  • Chopped Deli Ham
  • Trader Joe's Island Salsa (or sub pineapple tidbits)
  • Sliced red onion

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350*
  2. Lay Flat Out wrap on cookie sheet and spread surface with pepper jack Laughing Cow Cheese. Spread pizza sauce to your liking, about 2 TB I found is plenty. Spread with ham and a few dollops of Island Salsa or pineapple tidbits. Add some thinly sliced red onion on top and bake in preheated oven until desired crispiness about 10-15 minutes.
  3. *Can be made the same way with crescent rolls pressed into a rectangle and baked 12-15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Slice and return to oven to crisp up edges if desired.
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Uncategorized

A ground beef gyro sandwich? You betcha! In fact, we think it’s the BEST ground beef gyro sandwich and rated it 7 out of 10 stars… also earning its spot in the family of easy ground beef recipes!

ground beef gyro sandwich

The idea to use ground beef for a gyro sandwich isn’t a new concept, but it was new to us!  Greek flavors are one of my favorite whether it’s a hot gyro sandwich or my Greek Chicken & Lentil salad with hunks of feta cheese, you can’t go wrong!  Developing a recipe that not only I found delicious, but my kids too…IT’S A KEEPER!

My beautiful helper in the kitchen has grown a bit since her last time on the blog.  She was busy slathering our gyro sandwich bread with the “secret” sauce, except for one.  My son loves grilled cheese sloppy joes, so that’s how we chose to make his gyro too.  A little less adventurous he is, but he nibbled his sandwich down to the very edge of the crust.

(also photobombed by our cat-dog, Bailey)

ground beef gyro sandwich panini

As we were browning the ground beef it occurred to us that our sandwich needed something to help it all stick together.  Unlike our favorite sloppy joes, there’s no sauce in this gyro sandwich.

Wanting to stick to our original recipe idea of using thick white bakery bread, we busted out some “secret” sauce (aka, garlic and herb Laughing Cow Cheese) and slathered it on one side of the bread while the other side got a coated in some heavenly tzatziki sauce.

easy gyro sandwich with tzatziki

Not only did we create the best ground beef gyro sandwich, but the leftovers made the best greek noodle salad!  Anytime I get a chance to repurpose leftovers I’m giddy with excitement.

Yes, I’m that much of a dork.

Next time though we will double the tzatziki sauce.  Can’t be having any close calls not having leftovers of THAT around.  Trader Joe’s has a great version but it’s a little thinner with sliced cucumbers in it which doesn’t do well on a sandwich (unless you like sauce dripping from you face to your elbows.)

Either way, tzatziki sauce makes it all come together.

greek gyro salad

*I’ve also made this with lean ground turkey and it’s excellent as well.

Gyro sandwich, salad, or both? Beef or Turkey? Let me know when you try one or both!

 

*recipe slightly adapted from Kayotic Kitchen

The Best Ground Beef Gyro Sandwich
with Easy Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (or turkey but beef is better)
  • 1/2 c. chopped white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 TB paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp greek seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp each: curry powder, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, thyme
  • White Italian Bread, sliced thick
  • 1-2 TB light butter
  • Garlic Herb Laughing Cow Cheese (1 per sandwich)
  • Thinly sliced red onion
  • Tomato slices
  • Tzatziki Sauce Recipe

Instructions

  1. Brown ground beef in large skillet with onion over medium-high heat.
  2. While the meat is browning, add all spices to a small bowl.
  3. Drain and return meat to skillet over low heat. Add minced garlic and all seasonings stirring to combine. A little water can be added to help it come together if needed. Remove from heat.
  4. Spread butter on 1 side of bread slices and place butter side down on griddle or large skillet to toast. Spread laughing cow cheese on one slice before turning on griddle/stove then allow 5-8 minutes for the bread to get nice and browned (like a grilled cheese). Remove from heat and spoon gyro meat onto slice with the cheese spread pressing down to pile it high. Top with shredded onion and tomato. Spread tzatziki sauce onto other slice and smoosh the sandwich together, slice in half and devour!
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Beef Sandwich