Your Future Self Will Thank You

Hey folks! Happy Tuesday! I hope you had a great weekend.

Our weekend was spent working (for Justin) napping and chasing tennis balls (for Brody) and hiking and bopping around a street fair/farmers market (for me). Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures to share even though I had my camera with me the whole weekend; I realized while I was hiking that I had left the memory card at home and made a point to put it back in the camera when I got back. Not only did I not put the card back in, but I also brought the camera with me the next day and tried to use it again.

Is it fish oil that helps with brain function? I think I need to pick up some of that.

Anyways, it was a great weekend and it was topped off with some serious productivity. I mentioned awhile back that every couple of weeks I realize how much money is flying out of Brody’s treat fund by buying breakfast and lunch instead of making it at home and bringing it to work. The tough part about bringing premade meals to work is, unfortunately, making them. There usually isn’t a ton of time in the morning to throw something together –  well, in our house at least. No matter how early I wake up (which, let’s be honest, isn’t very early), I’m still running out the door 10 minutes late with a shoe in one hand and my toothbrush in the other.

Punctuality just isn’t my strong suit. I’m working on it.

As a result, if I make a plan to whip up a couple of meals for the day before I head out the door, I’m kind of just setting myself up to fail. I decided to make it easy this week and put together 2 dishes that I know a) will last the week, b) I won’t get sick of after a couple of days and c) I will be able to toss together in less than 3 minutes in the morning and throw in my purse. So in just an hour or so on Sunday evening, I had breakfast and lunches pretty much ready to go for the week. Now these aren’t groundbreaking dishes or anything, but hey – whatever works.

First up was some cranberry walnut chicken salad, which is a favorite and is really easy to make. I started off by seasoning 2 chicken breasts with salt and pepper and then just tossed them on the grill for about 10 or 15 minutes (these ones were pretty thick, so they took a little longer to cook all the way through). While those were grilling, I chopped some celery and walnuts.

Once the chicken was cooked through, I just chopped it up and then tossed it with the rest of the ingredients and voila! Cranberry walnut chicken salad for the week. And if you don’t have a grill, you can broil the chicken or cook it in a skillet with some olive oil. Or if you’re just not feeling the whole cook-the-chicken-yourself thing, grab a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket, pull the meat off and chop it up. Any way you hack it, this stuff is great with some greens as a salad or you can just kick it old school with a chicken salad sandwich.

Either way, delicious. Here are the deets:
Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad
makes: 5 servings / prep time: 15 minutes

  • 1/2 pounds boneless,  skinless chicken breasts (or about 3 cups chopped)
  • 4 celery stalks (or about 1 1/2 cups chopped)
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • a few spoonfuls of mayonnaise (I used a little less than 1/4 cup)

Next up on the list was some granola – more specifically, cherry chocolate chip granola.

I’ve mentioned my love of granola before and it’s still going strong. This recipe is really straightforward – just toss everything in a bowl, mix it up, and bake it. Easy peasy.

My favorite way to eat granola (aside from straight out of the jar) is to put together a yogurt parfait in a mason jar and bring it to work for breakfast. Just layer some fruit (fresh or frozen both work…just make sure you give the frozen fruit a half hour or so to soften before you dig in). It’s a healthy and filling breakfast and you can switch it up with different fruit and yogurt flavors to keep from getting tired of it.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Granola
makes: 10 servings / prep time: 5 minutes / cook time:  25-30 minutes

  • 3 cups of old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped or sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup ground flax seed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (vegetable oil also works)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees and spray a cookie sheet with non-stick baking spray. Mix everything except for the cherries and chocolate chips in a large bowl until fully combined, breaking up any clumps that form. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on the cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through to ensure an even color. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.

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