Healthy Watermelon Popsicles

I want to eat these Watermelon Popsicles every day this summer. These healthy popsicles are made with fresh watermelon, strawberries, and lime juice and are seriously the most refreshing thing on a hot summer day. They rank up there as my favorite frozen treats along with these Creamy Chili Mango Popsicles this Two Ingredient Watermelon Ice Cream.

These Watermelon Strawberry Popsicles are going to be your go-to frozen treat this summer because there really is nothing better than watermelon on a hot day. Lately, we have been going through an obscene amount of watermelon in our house. Everyone loves it and as soon as I begin to cut it, half of it immediately disappears from the cutting board, as hands reach in from all directions to grab it. So that's been inspiring me to think about other ways to utilize watermelon and popsicles was one of the first things I thought of.

Plus, let's have a minute of real talk. My two year old daughter has been demanding freeze pops daily ever since she had her first one last week. Not nicely asking for freeze pops, demanding them and proceeding to melt down if the answer is no. Oh, the lovely two year old tempers.

But given that most freeze pops are nothing more than water, sugar, and a bunch of food coloring, it's not really what I want her eating. So I have been making all kinds of homemade healthy and more natural options using these freeze pop molds. And this strawberry watermelon popsicle has been the most popular. She is happy she is getting a popsicle and I am happy it's a fairly healthy option. Honestly, I don't even put any honey in them unless the watermelon really isn't ripe. The strawberries add plenty of sweetness and as long as your choose a good watermelon, you don't need it.

Watermelon popsicles and pieces of fresh watermelon on a white counter.

Speaking of watermelon, a lot of people are unsure of how to buy one. If you aren't sure, use the tips below to make sure you get a ripe and flavorful watermelon. It makes all the difference in these popsicles and ensures they are brimming with flavor.

How to Pick a Watermelon

  1. Look for a yellow spot: Many people make the mistake of looking for a watermelon that is perfectly green all the way around. Instead, you actually want a watermelon with a nice, creamy yellow spot. This is where the watermelon sat on the ground, meaning it had time to ripen and wasn't picked too early.
  2. Heavy: A watermelon should feel heavy when you hold it. This means it is full of juice, another sign of it being ripe.
  3. Tapping it: You have inevitably seen people tapping and hitting watermelons in the store. They are looking to hear that the watermelon sounds hollow. This is another sign that it is ripe and ready to go.
  4. In doubt: Ask! Whether you are in a grocery store or a farmer's market, ask someone to help you choose a ripe watermelon. Normally they can help you choose one that will be rip, juicy, and full of flavor.

Watermelon Strawberry Popsicles on a dish with fresh watermelon.

Watermelon Popsicles Recipe Ideas

There are so many ways to create variations of this recipe and make up your own flavor combinations. Here are some of our favorites.

  • Watermelon yogurt pops: Add 1 cup of plain or flavored yogurt to your popsicle mix to make a creamy popsicle with some added protein, calcium, and probiotics.
  • Watermelon chili popsicles: We love fruit and chili, so often times I will mix in a Mexican chili powder like Tajin into our popsicles. It's also delicious with some chamoy swirled in.
  • Watermelon coconut: Add a cup of canned coconut milk to the pops for a creamy option.
  • Watermelon popsicles with seeds: Many people love adding a green element to their pops to make it look like an actual watermelon. Make the popsicles as instructed below, leaving the bottom inch of the popsicle mold empty. Once the watermelon portion freezes, add some blended kiwi to the bottom to create a green section that can be the rind.
  • Watermelon lemonade: Add fresh lemon juice to the mixture as well. For this option, you may have to add some honey for sweetness if the lemon flavor gets too strong.
  • Boozy watermelon pops: Adults love these popsicles with some vodka added. Just don't add too much or they won't freeze.

What are your favorite summer popsicles to make?

Calories 47, Total Fat 0g, Total Carbohydrate 12g, Protein 1g, Serving Size 1 popsicleOriginal Article

Grilled Red Potatoes

Grilled red potatoes will quickly become a staple in your home when you are making dinner on the grill. Instead of turning on the oven too, these grilled potatoes are the answer. Served with easy grilled vegetables or grilled broccoli and your sides are ready.

When I grill a meal, I don't want to have to turn on the oven, too. That's where this simple grilled red potato side dish comes in to save the day. The potatoes and onions are packed into aluminum foil packets and cooked right on the grill with a touch of butter and any spices you like. Simple salt and pepper are delicious. Also, consider mixing things up with Cajun spices, paprika, oregano, or Italian seasoning to match whatever you are serving.

Less is more, or so goes the saying. Grilled red potatoes are a simple side dish designed to accompany any meal. The great thing about grilled potatoes is that the skin stays on, which is where all the nutritional value of the potato lies, as opposed to peeling it off as commonly seen with mashed potatoes. The skin contains fiber, B vitamins, iron and potassium.

A clever way to cook potatoes on the grill is with a foil packet recipe. If you haven’t tried this cooking method out yet, you’ll love how foil packet dinners require no clean up and are super easy to prepare!

How To Grill Potatoes

Why grill instead of baking? While the oven is always an option, the grill is perfect for steamy days. Who wants to turn the oven on to 400 degrees and heat the whole kitchen up when its a hundred degrees outside. Instead, have the resident grill master, or master in training, stoke the fire.

Using heavy-duty aluminum foil is a best practice with a grilled red potato dish. You’ll want to double wrap the potatoes and onion to prevent liquids from leaking through during the cooking process. Additionally, the tighter the seal, the hotter the contents in the foil packet dinner will get.

Avoid the huge flame if possible when grilling. You want an even application of heat and scorching a foil packet will alter the way it cooks. Even heat is the goal.

Onion Advice

Speaking of onions, do you cry when you cut? To minimize the annoying effects they cause, try soaking the onion in cold water before cutting. The cold will chill the gases enough to lessen their impact.

You can also wear contact or glasses when you cut onions. The lenses block the gases and make it sting less. For those who don’t wear contacts or glasses, there is one more trick that may work. It sounds crazy but many people swear by it. Try sticking a piece of bread in your mouth while you slice. The bread will absorb some the gases before they rise up to your nose and eyes. Strange but true!

While the grilled potatoes in this recipe call for an onion, butter, salt and pepper – which is a delicious combination – don’t be afraid to experiment with any variety of other flavors based on your likes and the meal you are preparing.

Spice Ideas for Grilled Potatoes

Don’t be timid when it comes to throwing in new flavors with your grilled red potatoes. It’s okay to experiment. Sometimes you get it right, other times it’s so–so. By trying new things, you’ll discover all kinds of new recipes and turn the basic side dish of grilled potatoes into a potential new favorite.

A note on spices: Ounce for ounce, dried herbs are more potent than fresh. If you grow your own herbs, of course go ahead and use them when cooking. One part dried herb to three parts fresh is a good rule to follow.

Purchasing new spices gets expensive. And if you aren’t sure you’ll use them in the future, start slowly. Buy what you think might be applicable to other dishes you like to cook and add on little by little.

  • Rosemary and Garlic: Substitute minced garlic for onion. Along with the garlic add a healthy dash of fresh rosemary. On another occasion try thyme or sage.
  • Indian Spices: A long roster of the basics include cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, ginger, garam masala (a blend of spices), turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, spicy red chile pepper. A note on the mustard seeds: These need a little prep work to release their flavor as it’s meant to be. Add seeds to hot oil and heat them until they split. Then you can use the oil with the seeds to flavor your red potatoes. A note on the ginger: Buy fresh ginger. It can’t be kept at room temperature. Instead, freeze it and shave off what you need from the frozen block with a potato peeler.
  • Buffalo or hot sauce: If you or the people eating your meal happen to love hot and spicy dishes go ahead and throw hot sauce or buffalo sauce on the cooked potatoes. But wait until after they’re cooked and off the grill to drizzle on the hot sauce. The grilled potatoes can take it. Can you?
  • Moroccan Spices: Salt, pepper, ginger and turmeric are mainstays in Moroccan cuisine. That being said adding any combination of saffron, paprika, cumin, white pepper or cinnamon are options that will yield the flavors reminiscent of vegetable tagines. This combination of spices is meant to invoke a combination of sweet and savory flavor.

These Grilled Red Potatoes couldn't be any more delicious and are so easy. After spending way too many years making potatoes inside while I grilled the rest of dinner, I am excited to finally move our entire meal outside.

Grilled red potatoes in a bowl with a yellow napkin.

Here is a photo of what they will look like if you don't place them on the grill after to brown the edges. They are delicious both ways.

Grilled potatoes with onions on a white plate.

Calories 127, Total Fat 4g, Total Carbohydrate 21g, Protein 3g, Serving Size 1 packetOriginal Article

Pesto Chicken – Grilled or Baked

This healthy Pesto Chicken made with fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice, lean chicken breast, and cherry tomatoes is an easy dish that seriously packs in the flavor. For pesto lovers, add this to your list along with this Pesto Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles and Italian Pesto Chicken Bake.

Pesto chicken is one of those meals I could make weekly. We all love it and since it is such an easy dish to prep, it is something I don't mind making again and again. And don't get me started on the all the ways you can serve it. It is a really versatile recipe with so many delicious options – creamy pesto chicken pasta, pesto chicken sandwiches, rice bowls, you get the idea. Believe me, this will be one of those dishes you make again and again.

Pesto chicken with cherry tomatoes on a white baking sheet.

Before we dig into the recipe itself, let's talk about pesto for a minute. Every time I grocery shop, I am tempted to buy the store made pesto sauce. It's easy and doesn't involve pulling out the food processor. It's a good, quick option that works for this recipe if you are short on time.

However, make sure to always take a quick look at the ingredients. Try to find something that only contains ingredients you recognize – basil, fresh herbs, nuts, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, lemon, and spices. It can be shocking when you start looking at labels and realize the pesto is full of things you can hardly pronounce.

Usually, the best option will be in the refrigerated section. And it is important to note, that store-bought options will always contain a lot more oil. The homemade version included in the recipe is a lightened up version to keep things lower calorie and healthy. Both work great, just choose what will work best for your family and lifestyle.

Homemade pesto in a wooden bowl with a spoon.

What is in a pesto sauce?

Pesto is a traditional Italian sauce that is traditionally made with fresh Italian basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt, and pepper. It also sometimes contains an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. It is traditionally used in pasta dishes, vegetable dishes, and soups. Today many people like to make all kinds of pesto sauces by using different combinations of herbs and greens including parsley, cilantro, spinach, and even kale.

Is basil pesto healthy?

Pesto is a healthy sauce and condiment option that contains fresh herbs, nuts, and heart-healthy olive oil. However, it can be high in fat and calories since it normally contains a large amount of olive oil. The homemade version in this recipe cuts way back on the olive oil to make it lighter without losing any of the flavor.

How long can I store pesto in the fridge?

Normally when I make this recipe, I triple the pesto recipe so I can save the extra for other recipes. Homemade pesto will keep in the fridge for 5-7 days. It can also be frozen and stored for 3-4 months.

Healthy Pesto grilled chicken on a baking sheet next to a bowl of homemade pesto.

Leftover and Serving Ideas for Pesto Chicken

There are so many ways you can use this pesto chicken recipe. I always make a double or triple batch because we love the leftovers so much and I can always get at least 2-3 more meals out of it.

  • Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta: Make a double batch of the pesto sauce included in the recipe. Then while the chicken is cooking, cook the pasta. Save 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Once the pasta is cooked, add it back to the post with the pasta cooking liquid, extra pesto sauce, and 1/4 cup of cream cheese. Stir until a smooth sauce forms. Top with the chicken and tomatoes. This works with spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles as well.
  • Pesto Chicken Salad: We eat a lot of green salads for lunch and this pesto chicken makes a really delicious green salad. Combine it with arugula, chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, roasted red peppers, olives, and feta cheese.
  • Pesto Chicken Pizza: Slice up the leftover chicken and use it as a pizza topping with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. To keep things light, you can use a low carb flatbread for the crust or a whole grain pizza dough. Cauliflower pizza crusts also work for a lower carb option.
  • Creamy Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches: We love a good chicken salad and this pesto chicken makes one of the best. Combine the chopped pesto chicken with reduced fat mayo and greek yogurt. Then add some chopped red onion and red bell peppers for crunch.
  • Pesto Chicken Pizza Quesadillas: Lately I have been making pizza quesadillas for the kids. For this version, I use a thin layer of marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh spinach with thinly sliced pesto chicken.
  • Pesto Chicken Minestrone Soup: Sometimes minestrone soup is topped with fresh pesto, so why not top it with pesto chicken. You can use a store-bought or homemade soup.

Calories 253, Total Fat 8g, Total Carbohydrate 7g, Protein 35g, Serving Size 6 oz.Original Article

The Ultimate Guide to Snap Peas

Do you tend to walk right by the snap peas at the grocery store, unsure of what they are and how you’d use them? Or maybe you’ve picked them up to snack on raw, as a naturally sweetened treat for your kids or yourself, but never thought to cook them up, tossing them into your favorite stir-fry or with a simple garlic and soy preparation for a side dish.

If you, like me, are always on the hunt for new, delicious, healthy, and low-calorie ways to prepare vegetables or for new recipes that incorporate veggies you’d really never thought to try, then consider the humble snap pea, also known as the sugar snap pea. Delicious, nutritious, crunchy, crisp, and, quite frankly, not bad to look at, the snap pea is definitely having a moment.

Snap Peas Versus Snow Peas – What’s the Difference?

Although snap peas and snow peas might appear to be interchangeable, as they both have a similar size and shape, belong to the legume family, and grow by climbing up a pole, string, or stalk, they are not the same thing.

Snow peas (also known as Chinese pea pods) are green, flat, and oblong in shape with tiny peas visible through the outside of the pod. They have a mild flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked.

Snap peas are a cross between a snow pea and a garden pea. They can also be eaten whole, raw, or cooked, but they possess a sweet flavor, are juicy, crunchy, and will “snap” when you break them in half. You typically cannot see the peas in a snap pea from the outside of the pod.

The Health Benefits of Snap Peas

While many foods are billed as “perfect,” snap peas might be up there with some of the best in terms of the vitamins, nutrients, and other good-for-you components that this lovely little legume provides. Snap peas contain vitamin K, which helps your bones retain calcium, antioxidants from vitamin C, and a host of B-complex vitamins, plus folate, iron, and beta-carotene (another antioxidant that can help ward off cancer cells).

Snap peas make a wonderful addition to many recipes that call for a steamed or cooked vegetable, but they also make a great snack right out of the bag. Their fiber content keeps you full, while the sweet taste can help curb your sweet tooth. One cup of snap peas contains only 41 calories, 7 grams of carbohydrates, 2.5 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 0 grams of fat, and 3 grams of protein.

Garlic sugar snap peas on a plate on a wooden table.

Choosing Snap Peas

You can find snap peas in your grocer’s produce department, either loose or pre-packaged in a clear bag (usually next to the bagged lettuce). You’ll want to choose pods based on their bright green color and smooth skin. Do not pick any that are discolored, spotted, or wrinkled.

If you grow snap peas in your garden, you can pick them when they are bright green and smooth. To test for ripeness, harvest one pod by pulling it gently off the vine and snapping it in half. If the peas are small and the walls are thick and green, then the peas are ready to be eaten.

Storing Snap Peas

As with most peas, the sooner snap peas they are eaten, the fresher they will taste. However, snap peas will keep for up to five days in a resealable plastic bag in your refrigerator. Discard individual pods if they start to discolor or lose their firmness.

Preparing & Cooking Snap Peas

It’s best to cook or eat snap peas soon after picking to lock in as much flavor and freshness as possible. You can eat the entire pod raw or cooked, though some people prefer to trim off the ends and pull of the string that runs down the middle of the pods. For best results, rinse the snap peas, trim the ends, and let your imagination run wild. You’ll find that cooking with snap peas is, well, a snap!

  • As a Side: Whip up a fantastic, bright, flavorful side dish with snap peas in less than 10 minutes, like these Garlic Sugar Snap Peas or Sesame Sugar Snap Peas – two of my go-to healthy side dishes. The best part is, you probably already have all the ingredients in your kitchen, just waiting for the opportunity to transform themselves into something yummy.
  • In Soups and Noodles: Snap peas are an easy ingredient to add to any soup, particularly those that are Asian-inspired, like this Sesame Sugar Snap Pea, Edamame, and Carrot Soba Noodles. They only need a few minutes of cooking time, and you can add them in when your noodles are almost finished – just toss them right in the same pot!
  • In Stir-Fries: In my recipe for Snap Pea and Japanese Eggplant Stir-Fry, I saved time and extra dishes by using the same pan that I seared the tofu in to saute the snap peas and eggplant for just a few minutes before adding the other ingredients back in and serving. This Sesame Tofu and Snap Pea dish is another keeper.
  • In Pasta Dishes: Pasta is like a blank canvas. Why not dress it up with snap peas, garlic, a protein, and a creamy, ooey, gooey, (and don’t forget delicious) low-fat sauce? That’s what I did when I created this recipe for Creamy Snap Pea and Ham Pasta. We also love this Black Pepper and Garlic Snap Pea Pasta and Bacon and Sugar Snap Pea Pasta.
  • Sheet Pan Dinners: Sugar snap peas cook quickly making them perfect for sheet pan meals like this Soy and Mango Marinated Chicken Thighs with Sugar Snap Peas.
  • Salads: Snap peas are a crunchy addition in any green salad and can be added raw, blanched, or cooked. They also make a great addition to entree style salads like this Snap Pea and Farro Salad.

Calories , Total Fat g, Total Carbohydrate g, Protein g, Serving Size Original Article

Healthy Meal Plans: Week 29

Lately, I have been craving tons of fresh veggies since there are so many good ones in season right now – zucchini, corn, tomatoes, asparagus, and green beans. So this week's meal plan celebrates many of those veggies in recipes your family will love.

Now on to this week's meal plan! It starts out with a delicious Protein Packed Banana Oatmeal Pancakes, Cranberry Tuna Salad, and Slow Cooker Hawaiian Chicken. Monday brings Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles and Tuesday is a Spicy Turkey, Green Bean, and Mushroom Stir-fry. Wednesday is a Skillet Gnocchi with Zucchini and Corn and Thursday is Grilled Lemon Dijon Chicken Thighs. To end the week, meals include Turkey Salsa Burgers and a Grilled Balsamic Flank Steak.

Want to try a free meal plan? Click here to download a free one week meal plan.

Here are some of the meals in this week's meal plan!

Potato Gnocchi with Zucchini and Corn: This easy to make creamy summer pasta dish taste like it should have a million calories but is surprisingly light and healthy.

Potato Gnocchi with Zucchini and Corn in a black skillet with fresh basil.

Cranberry Tuna Salad: My absolute favorite tuna salad recipe packed with cranberries, apples, and celery.

Healthy meal plan with Cranberry Tuna Salad for lunch.

Grilled Asparagus with Lemon and Feta: There is no better way to make asparagus than on the grill and adding fresh lemon and feta is always a good idea.

Grilled Asparagus with Lemon and Feta on a white plate with parsley.

Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles: I love shrimp scampi and this lightened up version over zucchini noodles is always a hit.

Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles on a wooden table.

Remember to check out the healthy, low carb, and vegetarian meal plans all with nutritional info and Freestyle SmartPoints.

Love the idea of meal planning but don’t have time to find recipes, create shopping lists, and make meal plans?

Since I know that many people simply don’t have the time to create their own healthy meal plans, we provide delicious and healthy meal plans at Slender Kitchen that you can customize to meet your needs.

Each healthy weekly meal plan comes full of delicious recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The meal plans come in regular, vegetarian, and low carb options. All feature complete nutritional information, Weight Watchers SmartPoints, and categorized shopping lists! There are also two bonus fallback recipes weekly and the option for either a complete meal plan or a Dinner Only plan. This includes our interactive meal planning option where you can customize the number of servings for each meal, swap in new recipes if you don't like something, or build your own meal plan from scratch. All that for less the cost of one cup of coffee per month with the yearly plan.

Calories , Total Fat g, Total Carbohydrate g, Protein g, Serving Size Original Article

7 Amazon Prime Day Kitchen Deals You Don’t Want to Miss

I am an Amazon addict and look forward to Prime Day every year. Here are some of my favorites for the kitchen this year! They include items I seriously can't live without including the Instant Pot, Vitamix, and my favorite cast iron pans.

Remember there are limited numbers so pick up your favorites before they sell out!

1. Instant Pot Duo for $58.99 (usually $99.99)

Instant pot

2. Vitamix Blender for $297.95 (usually $549.99)

Vitamix

3. Bella Air Fryer for $38.99 (usually $62.99)

Air Fryer

4. Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Cookware Set (discount coming at 4:10 PM EST)

Cast iron pans

5. ThermoPro Wireless Cooking Thermometer (discount coming at 8:10 PM EST)

meat thermometer

6. Banza Chickpea Pasta Six Pack (discount coming at 8:20 PM EST)

Banza pasta

7. Mandoline Veggie Slicer (discount coming at 5:00 PM EST)

mandoline

Calories , Total Fat g, Total Carbohydrate g, Protein g, Serving Size Original Article

Honey Garlic Chicken and Asparagus

This easy Honey Garlic Chicken and Asparagus is a weeknight staple since it uses simple ingredients you likely have at home. Plus it is ready in less than twenty minutes. Love this combo? Make sure to check out this One Pan Lemon Garlic Chicken and Asparagus and Sheet Pan Honey Mustard Chicken.

Chicken and asparagus and a dreamy honey mustard garlic sauce. This dish is so so good and couldn't be easier to make. It is fresh, healthy, and kid friendly and is regularly part of our weeknight dinner rotation since everyone loves it. I make it with all kinds of vegetables depending on what I have on hand and usually serve it with quinoa, brown rice, or a baked potato. Plus since I love variation, there are tons of easy ways to customize this and change up the flavors.

Chicken and asparagus in a honey mustard sauce on foil.

Before we dig into ways to customize this chicken and asparagus recipe, let's talk about the sauce because it is one I constantly use in the kitchen. It's made with a combination of honey, Dijon mustard, garlic, soy sauce (or coconut aminos), and olive oil. And let me tell you, it tastes amazing on everything. I use it on salmon, pork, chicken, tofu, and veggies. I even use it as a stir-fry sauce. This stuff is seriously simple and seriously tasty.

Honey Garlic Chicken and Asparagus Recipe Ideas

  • Make it spicy: If you like things on the spicy side, add red pepper flakes to the sauce. It will add a nice amount of heat to the dish. Sriracha also works for an Asian twist.
  • Switch out the veggies: This recipe will work with all kinds of veggies that are quick cooking. Try things like sugar snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, summer squash, boy choy, or green beans. You can also use carrots, just make sure to cut them into matchsticks so they cook quickly.
  • Change the protein: I really like chicken breasts for this recipe since they stay juicy when they are quickly broiled. However, this can be made with chicken thighs, boneless pork chops, or fish. It also works with extra firm tofu for a vegetarian option.
  • Herbs and spices: You can add flavor and depth to the sauce with fresh or dried herbs or your favorite spices. Rosemary and thyme work really well. I also like to sprinkle the chicken with Cajun seasoning to add a touch of spice.

Chicken with asparagus and quinoa on a white plate with garlic on the side.

How do you broil chicken breast?

There are a few important steps to take to broil chicken breast. The first and most important is to cut the chicken into thinner cutlet style pieces. Normally chicken breast is too thick for the broiler and you will end up with a burnt outside and raw inside. Instead, you want to cut the chicken into thinner pieces that will cook quickly at the high temperature of broiling. You can do this by cutting a regular chicken breast in half horizontally. You can also just buy chicken cutlets or chicken tenderloins.

The next thing you think about is how long to broil chicken breast. Thin pieces of chicken breast will normally be fully cooked in 6-8 minutes when they are broiled. Once the juices run clear and the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165 degrees, they are ready.

Do you need to blanch the asparagus first?

There is no need to blanch the asparagus before broiling it. Asparagus cooks very quickly and will come out perfect when broiled for 6-8 minutes.

Can I bake this chicken and asparagus?

Absolutely! Prepare the chicken and asparagus the same way and place them on a baking sheet. Then instead of broiling the chicken, bake it at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked. If you decide to make this with thighs or bone-in chicken, it will take longer. I recommend adding the asparagus during the last ten minutes of cooking so they don't get mushy.

Can I make this as a skillet chicken and asparagus?

This recipe works great in a skillet as well. Start by heating some olive oil in a skillet. Brush the chicken with the honey garlic sauce and add it to the pan in a single layer. Let it cook for 3-5 minutes until browned and then flip and repeat on the other side. Remove the chicken and set aside. Add the asparagus to the pan and toss with the remaining sauce. Cook for 6-8 minutes until just tender and bright green. Serve alongside the chicken.

Side Dishes for Chicken with Asparagus

  • Grains: Since the sauce for this dish is so good, normally I will just serve it alongside couscous, brown rice, or quinoa. The grains soak up some of the extra sauce and it's delicious. Cauliflower rice is also a good option for a lower carb or Paleo meal.
  • Mashed Cauliflower: In colder months, I often serve this with some mashed cauliflower, mashed butternut squash, or mashed potatoes.
  • Potatoes: Our family loves potatoes so they are a popular choice. When I am pressed for time I make simple baked regular or sweet potatoes. When I have more time I will make my favorite easy roasted potatoes.

Calories 253, Total Fat 5g, Total Carbohydrate 12g, Protein 34g, Serving Size 6 oz chicken and 1/2 cup asparagusOriginal Article

Southwest Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn, and Avocado

This easy Southwest Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn, and Avocado is the best quinoa salad. You will crave it. This salad is so easy to make and the homemade cilantro, lime, and yogurt dressing tastes good on everything. If you love these flavors, you may also love this Mexican Chopped Salad and Southwest Kale and Sweet Potato Salad.

I am on a quinoa salad kick and have been making huge salads almost every day for lunch. Usually, I fill them with whatever leftover veggies and protein we have in the fridge, but this Southwestern inspired one came out so good I had to recreate it and share it. Between the sweet corn, earthy black beans, creamy avocado, and the best cilantro dressing – it's hard to find a better quinoa and bean salad. And I would know, I make them all the time.

Southwestern Quinoa salad with black beans, corn, and avocado in a bowl with a spoon.

Like many good recipes, this salad was born out of necessity. I was starving and staring at a fridge of leftovers that needed to be used ASAP. There was some leftover grilled corn on the cob, a half open can of black beans, some cooked quinoa, and an avocado within minutes of its life. I quickly began to throw these things together but then realized that I needed something to bring everything together. Enter my favorite creamy cilantro dressing.

This simple dressing was made for a Southwestern Quinoa salad like this one. It's creamy, full of bright cilantro and lime flavors, and super easy to make. Everything goes into the blender and that's it. You will have a delicious homemade cilantro dressing in just a couple of minutes. This dressing will keep in the fridge for 4-6 days so consider making a double or triple batch. You can also make it spicy by throwing in some jalapeno or chipotle peppers. So good if you like spice.

How to Meal Prep this Southwest Quinoa Salad

This is a great recipe for meal prep and I love making it for lunches on the go since it is really filling and satisfying. It never leaves me looking for a snack an hour after lunch. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when prepping this salad in advance.

  • Dressing: Pack the dressing separately from the rest of the salad so that you can add it right before eating it. Sometimes if it is added in advance, it will thicken up and lose some of its creaminess.
  • Avocado: It's best to add the avocado right before eating so it doesn't brown. You can store leftover avocado in the fridge. Just squeeze some lime juice over it to prevent extra browning. And if you notice your avocado has browned, you can always scrape off the top brown layer with a knife. Underneath it is usually nice and green.
  • Extra protein: If you want to add some extra protein to the salad, consider adding some grilled chicken breast, shrimp, steak, or tofu. It's also delicious with canned tuna or canned salmon if you want something that doesn't take any extra prep time.
  • Mix it up: If you get sick of eating the same thing after a couple of days, consider mixing things up by serving it different ways. Eat it as a salad one day. Then try it wrapped up in lettuce the next day for some quinoa lettuce wraps. Finish the week by adding it to a wrap with some sliced chicken or canned tuna.

Southwest Quinoa and Bean Salad in a wooden bowl with cilantro in the background.

Is this Southwestern Quinoa Salad healthy?

There are so many healthy ingredients in this simple salad. Here are some of the nutritional benefits of these ingredients.

  • Quinoa is one of the healthiest grains out there and is high in protein and fiber. Additionally, it is a plant based source of all nine essential amino acids. Plus it is packed with vitamins and minerals including magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E, and various beneficial antioxidants.
  • Black beans are packed with fiber and will help you stay full. Plus they are a good source of folate and Vitamin B6.
  • Cilantro has a ton of health benefits including helping your body to rid itself of heavy metals and preventing urinary tract infections. It also supports heart health and can digestion.
  • Limes and lime juice are known to help aid digestion and pack in tons of Vitamin C.
  • Avocado is a superfood is packed with good for you fats that will keep you full. They also contain more potassium than bananas and is one of the most nutrient packed foods out there.

Tips and Tricks for this Southwest Quinoa Salad

  • Make it spicy: If you like things spicy, consider adding fresh jalapeno or canned chipotles to the dressing. You can add as little or as much as you like to get it to your desired heat level. Usually, I use about half a jalapeno for this recipe. You can also add a touch of honey or maple syrup to balance the heat if needed. Red pepper flakes will work as well but I like the flavor of the jalapenos or chipotles better.
  • Shortcut quinoa: If you don't want to spend time cooking quinoa, look for the prepared frozen quinoa instead. Cook it for about half the time required in the microwave so that it is just defrosted and warm.
  • Add greens: If you like a really voluminous salad, add greens to the mix as well. I love this salad with arugula or chopped romaine.
  • Add protein: For extra protein, you can always add grilled chicken, steak, shrimp, or tofu. For a quick option, use canned salmon or tuna.
  • As a side dish: This makes a very hearty portion. If you are planning to use it as a side dish, you can easily get eight servings from this salad.
  • Hate cilantro: Cilantro is a pretty polarizing ingredient. If you don't like cilantro, you can make the dressing with fresh basil or a combination of basil and parsley.

Calories 346, Total Fat 16g, Total Carbohydrate 45g, Protein 13g, Serving Size 1 cupOriginal Article

Healthy Meal Plans: Week 30

Lately, I have been craving tons of fresh veggies since there are so many good ones in season right now – zucchini, corn, tomatoes, asparagus, and green beans. So this week's meal plan celebrates many of those veggies in recipes your family will love.

Now on to this week's meal plan! It starts out with Broccoli Parmesan Baked Oven Omelet, Mexican Chopped Salad, and Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Chicken. Monday brings Skillet Vegetable Lasagna and Tuesday is a Lemon and Smoked Paprika Chicken Thighs. Wednesday is Broiled Flank Steak with a Grilled Vegetable Caprese and Thursday is Lemon Basil Pork Chops. To end the week, meals include Honey Lime Tilapia and Chicken Sausage with Mashed Potatoes.

Want to try a free meal plan? Click here to download a free one week meal plan.

Here are some of the meals in this week's meal plan!

Blackberry Yogurt Parfaits: With blackberries in season, this easy breakfast couldn't be more delicious and is simple to make and customize.

Blackberry granola yogurt for breakfast in this week's meal plan.

Mexican Chopped Salad with Honey Lime Dressing: This salad is packed with black beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes, jicama and more with an easy and super tasty honey lime dressing.

Healthy meal plan with Mexican Chopped Salad with Honey Lime Dressing for lunch.

Lemon Basil Pork Chops: These pork chops marinated in lemon and basil have so much flavor and taste great on the grill or in the oven.

Lemon Basil Pork Chops on a grill with fresh basil leaves.

Skillet Vegetable Lasagna: This lasagna is so much easier to make than the traditional version and you don't need to turn on the oven and worry about heating up the house.

Skillet Vegetable Lasagna on a wooden table in a large pan.

Remember to check out the healthy, low carb, and vegetarian meal plans all with nutritional info and Freestyle SmartPoints.

Love the idea of meal planning but don’t have time to find recipes, create shopping lists, and make meal plans?

Since I know that many people simply don’t have the time to create their own healthy meal plans, we provide delicious and healthy meal plans at Slender Kitchen that you can customize to meet your needs.

Each healthy weekly meal plan comes full of delicious recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The meal plans come in regular, vegetarian, and low carb options. All feature complete nutritional information, Weight Watchers SmartPoints, and categorized shopping lists! There are also two bonus fallback recipes weekly and the option for either a complete meal plan or a Dinner Only plan. This includes our interactive meal planning option where you can customize the number of servings for each meal, swap in new recipes if you don't like something, or build your own meal plan from scratch. All that for less the cost of one cup of coffee per month with the yearly plan.

Calories , Total Fat g, Total Carbohydrate g, Protein g, Serving Size Original Article

Easy Healthy Carnitas – Slow Cooker or Instant Pot

These easy and healthy Carnitas can be made in the slow cooker or Instant Pot and come out deliciously tender and packed with flavor every time. They make the best filling for tacos, burritos, rice bowls, and more. Serve them with these Slow Cooker Pinto Beans or add them to this Mexican Chopped Salad.

Carnitas are the ultimate filling when it comes to all your Mexican favorites. They are crunchy and crispy on the outside while still staying moist and tender inside. Seriously good and this version couldn't be easier to make with options for the crockpot and the Instant Pot.

Slow Cooker Carnitas in corn tortillas with cilantro and onion.

If you have never had carnitas before, it is like a Mexican version of pulled pork made with spices, orange juice, and lime juice. Traditionally they are cooked in a large vat of lard until the pork gets super tender and the outside gets crispy from cooking in fat. However, as you can imagine, this isn't the healthiest option. Luckily, it is pretty easy to make a version without the lard that is still really delicious.

The key to making carnitas at home is taking the extra step to crisp up the pork after it has cooked low and slow. This can be done in the broiler or in a cast iron skillet once the pork has finished cooking and is shredded. Personally, I always do it in the broiler since it is fast and there is less clean up. However I know some people don't love using their broiler, so you can crisp them up in a skillet with a little oil.

What are Carnitas?

Carnitas are a traditional Mexican dish, usually made with pork shoulder that is cooked for hours in lard or cooking fat. It's addictive and delicious and something that almost everyone I know loves once they try it. Since it is cooked in lard, it gets incredibly tender but also gets nice and crispy on the outside. Normally it is cooked with a basic spice blend and served with corn tortillas, cilantro, onions, and a spicy salsa.

Since cooking pork in a vat of lard isn't something most people want to take on, it's actually really easy to make a version at home using the Instant Pot or slow cooker that tastes just as delicious. The only catch is that you have to crisp up the pork after cooking it in the broiler or in a hot skillet.

Instant Pot Carnitas on a baking sheet with tortillas and lime.

How to serve Carnitas?

The most traditional way to serve pork carnitas is in a taco piled high with cilantro, white onion, salsa, and plenty of lime juice. It can also be used to make burritos, rice bowls, enchiladas, nachos, and quesadillas. And around here, I love piling it high on a big green salad with black beans and corn. Honestly, this is such a versatile protein, you can use it so many different ways. And it freezes well so don't be afraid to make a big batch and keep some in the freezer for a quick meal.

How to make Carnitas in the slow cooker? Instant Pot?

Slow Cooker carnitas couldn't be easier to make. First, you will want to trim a pork shoulder to remove extra fat and cut it into three to four large pieces. Then coat it in a spice rub using chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add some lime juice, orange juice, onion, and garlic. Then cook everything for about 8 hours on low until the pork is fork tender and easily shreds.

To make pork carnitas in the Instant Pot, you will follow the same steps to start. When it comes to cooking, just use the meat setting and make sure it is on high pressure. Cook it for 30 minutes and then let is naturally release. Shred the pork using two forks.

Finally to make things crispy, turn the broiler up to high and spread the carnitas out on a baking sheet. Broil for 4-6 minutes until they begin to crisp up and then toss with some of the cooking liquid to add flavor and moisture.

Can I make Carnitas with chicken?

Absolutely! You can use the recipe included here but replace the pork with chicken thighs instead. You will also need to adjust the cooking time. It will take about 4 hours in the slow cooker and about 20 minutes in the Instant Pot. Here is a complete recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Carnitas.

Easy carnitas in three tacos with onion, limes, and cilantro.

What can I serve with carnitas?

There are so many different options when it comes to side dishes for carnitas. The most traditional would be to serve it with refried beans, rice, and a stack of warm corn tortillas. Then each person can assemble their own tacos with fresh cilantro, diced white onion, limes, and salsa. Avocados or guacamole is also always on our table when Mexican food is involved.

When we are eating carnitas tacos, I almost always serve it alongside some type of corn and black bean salad since it is something we all love and it keeps things light and healthy. Usually, I will serve some lettuce wraps as an option too for people who are eating low carb, Paleo, or Whole30.

Then I like to use the leftovers for lunches in my own Chipotle style burrito bowls and salads. I toss in beans, corn, salsa, a little bit of cheese, and some cilantro lime brown rice or cauliflower rice.

Calories 216, Total Fat 9g, Total Carbohydrate 3g, Protein 29g, Serving Size 6 oz.Original Article