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Cooking Adventures -- A Month Of New Recipes

Sunday, February 4, 2018
Ok, I am pretty sure I have the freezing cold temperatures to blame for this hair-brained idea I had over my Christmas break. I was trapped inside, riding a ten day sugar high and feeling the most rested I've felt in ages, so naturally I thought up something big to tackle -- thirty days of new recipes. Partly in an effort to eat better (hello, ubiquitous urge to sort out your eating habits at the start of the year), but also to get out of a cooking rut, I decided to pre-plan a whole month of dinners and tackle something new each day.

Armed with my trusty bullet journal, the January edition of Cooking Light and the Minimalist Baker's 2017 Fan Favorites ebook, I quickly came up with a huge list of relatively simple but tasty looking recipes. The accidental benefit of relying on only these two recipe sources was that not only were my choices all going to be pretty healthy, but they would also use significantly less meat than I normally would eat. I didn't really set out to become a vegetarian or vegan, but I think reducing my meat consumption was a nice side effect, both for me and for the environment.

Curious to see what all I cooked this month? Here's my meal plan for the four weeks I prepped:
(Note that not every night has a recipe. I eat away from my home on a lot of Mondays, there are several family birthdays to celebrate this month [which always means lots of food, duh] and I also like to leave a little room for spontaneity each week. Hopefully you don't mind my cheating!)

New recipes cooking healthy meal prep planning meals chili cinnamon cooking light ingredients

New recipes cooking healthy meal prep planning meals chili meat cinnamon cooking light

New recipes cooking healthy meal prep planning meals chili puzzle cinnamon cooking light

Week 1
Cinnamon Laced Chili - This one probably sounds weird to most people but I come from Nebraska, home of the chili and cinnamon rolls combination so it seems perfectly natural. This was super meaty and didn't have as much depth as I would have thought but it was still tasty. 4/5
Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes - Super quick, and a really flavorful sauce. I still need to perfect the chickpeas that go with it, because mine weren't as crunchy as I think they should have been. 5/5
One Pot Lentil Dal - So. Delicious. I have a Thing for yellow curry though... I will definitely make this again and again. Also my first adventure with lentils and it went well! 5/5
Lemon Chicken Citrus Bowls - Tasty chicken and rice bowl with a little something extra. 4/5
One Pot Minestrone - Ok so the first week went really well because this too was quite good. Simple to make, tons of leftovers and perfect for winter. 5/5

New recipes cooking healthy meal prep planning meals sweet potato minimalist baker chickpea garbanzo bean hummus lemon knife

New recipes cooking healthy meal prep planning meals sweet potato minimalist baker chickpea garbanzo bean hummus

New recipes cooking healthy meal prep planning meals carrot onion spinach

New recipes cooking healthy meal prep planning meals carrot onion spinach grain bowl sauce

Week 2
Quinoa Tacos - If you don't expect these to actually taste like meat tacos, these are great. Simple to make because most of the flavor is coming from your salsa of choice. Surprisingly filling. 5/5
Tuna, Avocado and Pickled Onion Sandwiches -  I thought these were interesting in flavor but I didn't completely love it. The boyfriend did however, so maybe I'm wrong. 3/5
Thyme White Bean Pot Pies - These were the perfect winter Sunday night dinner. Warm, filling, veggie-filled comfort food. 5/5
Spinach and Chickpea Grain Bowls with Avocado Dressing - I was really surprised how flavorful these bowls were. Plus, the avocado sauce was the craziest green color I've ever seen seen in a food! 5/5 (P.S. I hate kale so it became spinach when I made this...)

New recipes cooking healthy meal prep planning meals thyme pot pie dough rolling pin

New recipes cooking healthy meal prep planning meals thyme pot pie

New recipes cooking healthy meal prep planning meals cauliflower soup stew turmeric

New recipes cooking healthy meal prep planning meals cauliflower soup

Week 3
(This week was birthday week, hence the very small number of recipes. Forgive me!)
Slow Cooker Chicken Mole Tacos - I don't know what happened here, but I was unable to even eat these. No depth of flavor what-so-ever and the texture was also quite strange. 1/5
Creamy Turmeric Cauliflower Soup - This week didn't go so well. This was lacking in flavor and my brain couldn't get past how much it resembled squash but didn't taste anything like it. 2/5

New recipes cooking healthy meal prep planning meals avocado toast tuna pickeled onions


New recipes cooking healthy meal prep minestrone vegetable veggie soup stew prep cut knife chop cutting board

New recipes cooking healthy meal prep minestrone vegetable veggie soup stew ingrediants

New recipes cooking healthy meal prep minestrone vegetable veggie soup stew steam

Week 4
Thai Green Chicken Soup - I forgot to get fresh ginger for this recipe but it was still pretty good. Next time I'll be cutting the vermicelli  noodles first though because they were longgggg. 3.5/5
Garlicky Spinach Salad with Crispy Chickpeas - Again, kale turned into spinach here. I'm not really a big fan of salads, but if I had to eat one, this is at least nice and garlic-y. 3/5
Chipotle Black Bean Tortilla Soup - Really easy, nice spice to it. I can't resist anything with beans and corn in it. We even made our own tortilla chips from leftover corn tortillas! 5/5.

I had a lot of fun cooking this month. I was worried it would quickly become tiresome, or I'd be too burned out after work to want to take time to cook a more complicated meal, but I never really did. Taking more time out every night to cook actually resulted in less time wasted watching TV and more appreciation of a slow, intentional evening.

I also felt a lot better throughout this whole month! Of course I still was working my way through the holiday treat stash, but my regular meals were actually nutritional and didn't leave me with a horribly bloated, heavy feeling. I've discovered some real favorites this month (I'm looking at you, Lentil Dal) which I'm sure I'll continue to cook many times again in the future. This has been a wonderful start to 2018 and I am excited to keep it going in the coming months!
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