#LoveYourLunch – Spinach Artichoke Pasta Salad

{what’s in your cupboard lunch}

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I can’t believe this is the 5th week of the Lunch Your Lunch series!  Cooking Like Lou & I were just going to post for 5 weeks, but I am in for it again next week too.

If you are new to the series, all the details are here in my first Love Your Lunch post.  I definitely started to become more creative when it has come to my lunches.  I really am loving my lunch too!  Sometimes, if the day is busy I tend to just eat at my computer.  However, I try to avoid this at all costs because it is important to get up, stretch, eat, and most importantly take my eyes away from the computer.  Having a yummy lunch makes it a more enjoyable break too.

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So I’d be lying behind these lines if I said this post was planned and I got the ingredients and everything was organized ahead of time.  Nope.  That is why the subtitle of the post is called the “what is in your cupboard lunch”.  This happens to us about 95% of the time, right?  Well, this recipe shows you that if you get a little creative and make lunch ahead of time you will Love. Your. Lunch.

I hadn’t been to the store and knew I needed to prepare my post for today so I dug through the pantry to see what I could throw together as my lunch.

The cast of the show:  leftover box of farfalle, a can of artichoke hearts, bag of spinach, parmesan cheese.

And the recipe was born.

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Pasta for lunch is not typically on my lunch menu.  However, a small amount with some healthy oil and some veggies won’t kill me.  I highly recommend preparing this dish the night before for a grab-and-go morning.  It is especially easy to make if you had pasta for dinner the night before.  Save a bit of whatever noodle you have and add the rest of the ingredients.

spinach & artichoke pasta salad
Recipe By:  Sara
Yields:  2   ///   Prep Time:  10 minutes   ///   Cook time:  10 minutes   ///   Serve:  Chilled

Ingredients:
4-6 oz pasta [I used bow ties]
3-4 artichoke hearts, quartered
1 handful fresh spinach
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

Directions:
1.  Cook pasta according to directions and reserve about 1/4 cup of the cooking water.
2.  Add pasta back into the pot it was cooked in.
3.  Add spinach and artichokes.  Stir until spinach wilts.
4.  Stir in oil, vinegar, pasta water, cheese, and spices.
5.  Place in tupperware and store until the next day.
6.  Eat chilled or warmed in the microwave briefly if desired.

*This recipe made enough for two people so grab a lunch buddy & treat them #loveyourlunch style :)

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Need some more lunch ideas?  Be sure to check out Cooking Like Lou & Two Places at Once have this week!

Enjoy!

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The Three Green Power Smoothie

{so green.  so healthy.  so good.}

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Remember my post about my new thoughts on organic and cleaning eating?  Well one of the topics the documentaries talked about were the powerful benefits of juicing.  This recipe isn’t made with a juicer (I think it could be), but it is a smoothie that will make you feel powerful.

Seriously, this green smoothie is packed with such amazing items that will have your body thanking you and screaming for more.  Drink one of these each morning and you will be giving your body the essential vitamins it needs.  Feel free to swap the fruits for whatever you prefer, but keep the greens the same.

Here’s a breakdown of all the great nutrition and benefits the greens bring to your smoothies.

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SPINACH*

  • Carotenoids help in eye health and function
  • 1 cup provides your daily recommended dose of Vitamin K & 1/2 of your daily dose of Vitamin A
  • A blast of Potassium which aids in nerve and muscle function
  • A mere 7 calories for 1 cup

parsley*

  • The flavenoids act as a strong anti-oxidant which prevents cell damage
  • Freshens breath
  • High in folic acid which aids in heart health and disease prevention
  • Very rich in vitamin C which prevents inflammation and can reduce arthritis pain

kale*

  • Aids in the body’s detoxifying process which flushes the body of unwanted garbage
  • 1 cup is another blast of your daily Vitamin K needs
  • High in fiber which keeps your body’s digestive system running smoothly
  • Linked to anti-cancer studies

So what are you waiting for?  Head to the store and stock up on these valuable pieces of Earth that will increase your longevity.  Put down the pop or Frappuccino & give your body the nutrients it deserves.

*nutritional information is based on my own research and education. 

three green power smoothie

Recipe by: Doughie
Hands on Time:  4 minutes   ///   Cook Time:  0 minutes   ///   Servings:  2

Ingredients:
1/2 cup spinach
1/2 cup kale
1/2 parsley
1 frozen banana
1 cup frozen peaches
1 1/2 cups water

Directions
1.  Add all ingredients to a blender and pulse until smooth.
2.  Add more water for desired consistency.

IMG_3488Enjoy.

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi

{decadent & a bit doughie}

I have wanted to make gnocchi for a long time now.  I made it once and it turned out nice.  However, I recalled the labor required for these little cushions of yum.  This definitely isn’t something to add to your weeknight meal plan, but if you are looking to impress guests or want to have a bit of fun in the kitchen – this is your recipe.  Don’t be intimidated by its name or that you are making your own “pasta”.  The recipe is actually quite simple, but just has a lot of steps.  And that is where Not So Doughie swings into action!  I have provided (per usual) a step-by-step tutorial of how to make the dish.

After spending a few weeks researching different recipes and creating my version, I was ready to take on the challenge of the gnocchi.  I was even more inclined to try it out when I received a picture text from my step-dad of a Sweet Potato with Kale & Walnuts dish he was having at their go-to restaurant – Michael Alberini’s.  It looked so delicious and challenged me to put a spin on my original gnocchi idea.  I love sweet potatoes and so does Bryan so I knew this would be a winner.  However, I had never made this before at all and only made “plain” gnocchi once so I was rather skeptical about posting it on my blog.  Alas my friends, it is being posted!  Afterall, one of the reasons I have my blog is to share my adventures in the kitchen and I never promised they would all be a masterpiece.

To my pleasant surprise, my Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Spinach & Toasted Walnuts in a Brown Butter Rosemary Sauce passed my grading scale, reserving itself a spot on NSD.  After my workout, I swung by Kroger and grabbed my yams & a bag of spinach.  Awesome!  A swanky sounding recipe and yet I only need two ingredients – who woulda thunk!  I continued on with my normal Sunday endeavors and started my journey into the gnocchi world in the early evening (no closet makeover this week due to this lengthy recipe – oops).  After slaving cooking in the kitchen, my pillows of sweetness coated in a nutty, aromatic sauce were complete.  I dished up a plate for Bryan and one for me and dug in.  Yum!  The flavors complemented each other perfectly.  The woodsiness of the rosemary, the nuttiness of the browned butter, the sweetness of the potatoes, and the crunch of the walnuts.  It really was a spectacular recipe and I cannot wait to share it with you all. 

Unfortunately, this recipe yields a bit of doughieness due to the heavy brown butter sauce.  My justification for the rich sauce is the abundance of nutrition in all the other ingredients.  Sweet potatoes, spinach, and walnuts all have a plethora of vitamins and minerals oozing out of them.  Not to mention, life would be downright MISERABLE if butter was completely excluded from ones diet.  So hey, it is the holidays, just don’t plan on squeezing into your skinny jeans post-meal.

If I don’t post before the holiday – Happy Thanksgiving to all of my wonderful readers!  I am thankful for YOU :) :)

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{Click here for the recipe}

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Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

{a little bit doughie salad}

To celebrate Adam’s *belated* birthday and watch the Tiger’s playoff game, we had some people over to grill out and chill out.  The TV was hooked up in the garage and the grill (once again) fired up.  Adam & Brooke brought over fresh made brauts & hoagie rolls.  We grilled sliced onions and peppers to go on top & Bryan created a beer/mustard sauce.  I was in charge of the side.  We always are big on snacks and chips before dinner so I wanted to make something light(er) to go with the grilled sausages.  Rather than just a plain chopped salad, I decided to go a bit more doughie and make bacon the center of my spinach salad.  The vinaigrette can be served warm or chilled over the salad.  Feel free to combine any of your favorite nuts, veggies, and fruits – I just thought this combination paired well together.  Enjoy & happy eats :)

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{Click here for the recipe}

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Quick & Simple Spinach Manicotti

{a weeknight meal}

Now that my parsnip & carrot soup was gone (no one else wanted to eat it) I decided to get back into the kitchen.  Weeknights always go by so fast.  My 45-minute commute causes me to get home at 6:45pm (with mild traffic, heavy traffic well that just makes me crabby).  When Chase is with us I try to cook each night.  It is a time when the three of us can sit together at the dinner table and time can, hopefully, slow down for a minute.  On nights with Chase, I try to come up with quick dinners so that not so much time is spent in the kitchen, but together.  The kid has a pretty large palate for an 8 year old so I’m not serving “kid foods” which is great.  I think it is important to grow up being adventurous with food and to expose kids to all types of flavors.  I especially encourage lots of veggies and minimal fat.

Tonight I decided to create my quick and easy spinach stuffed manicotti.  The “semi-homemade” meal is very easy and simple Italian weeknight meal.  The manicotti shells were served with a slice of garlic bread – made by Bryan :)  I typically serve a vegetable with all meals, but the shells were stuffed with a ton of spinach, which my family loves.  The weather outside was perfectly crisp, but still warm.  Bryan suggested eating outside on our balcony and so Chase gathered the candles.  We enjoyed our romantic dinner for three outside on this beautiful night.  Enjoy!

MAINS

{Click here for the recipe}

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