Tag Archives: healthy

Life Lately Meal Plan

I Need to Get Back on Track

What a crazy month it’s been!

I’ve traveled a bunch, we got engaged (!!!), Travis’s sister visited, I celebrated one of my best friend’s weddings, and I attended a bunch of events for both work and my blog.

I won’t lie, it’s been FUN, but I have had my fair share of indulgences this month — way more than usual.

Cinnamon Crunch Donut from Sidecar Donuts & Coffee in Santa Monica, CA ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

My ideal healthy lifestyle is all about balance. I aim to workout 5 times a week and eat healthy 85% of the time, leaving the other 15% to allow myself to splurge a bit and just live it up.

Recently, I’ve really been slacking my on diet and because of that, I’ve been feeling super sluggish at the gym. I’m glad I haven’t fallen off the bandwagon with my workouts, but I know that if my diet was better then I would feel way more energetic while working out.

Crispy Chicken Sandwich from Hollywood Burger in Hollywood, CA ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Now that things have calmed down a bit and we have a lot less travel planned, I’ve set myself a few healthy goals for the next few months:

  1. Plan and buy groceries for at least 4 dinners every week. I know that meal planning is one thing that really helps to keep me on track, so I need to be better about planning specific meals as opposed to just winging it when I get home after a long day.
  2. Cut down on that vino! Sure, work is crazy and at times I can be pretty stressed, but having a glass of wine every night isn’t going to fix that. During the week, I am going to swap out my glass of wine for fruit-infused water or green tea and leave the wine for weekends and special events. I know the wine is also contributing to making me feel sluggish in the mornings, which leads me to my next goal…

Rose from The Anchor in Venice, CA ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

3. Work out 5-6 days a week. I’ve been pretty good about keeping up with my workout schedule, but there have been plenty of mornings where I skip my workout because I would prefer to sleep an extra half hour or I tell myself I have too many other things to do. No more excuses — make fitness a priority.

I need to get back on track with my worksouts ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

So keeping with my healthy goals, here’s this week’s meal plan:

Monday: Pizza Spaghetti Pie (Never tried this one, but the reviews are raving!)

Tuesday: Maple-Mustard Salmon + Heirloom Tomato and Peach Salad –> Man, I love summer fruits!

Wednesday: Turkey Meatloaf with Balsamic Glaze (Love this recipe and I haven’t made it in so long!) + Roasted Broccoli

Thursday: Out with friends

Friday: Grilled Skirt Steak + my favorite Extra-Crispy Roasted Potatoes


I am focusing my meals around protein and vegetables with some healthy complex carbs mixed in.

Alright, off to the gym now. I hope you guys have a great start to your week!

Meal Plan

This Week’s Meal Plan 12/7/15

Hi guys! I hope everyone had a great weekend. Mine was jam packed with holiday shopping, organizing our apartment, and planning for a Hanukkah party we had with friends last night. The holidays are in full swing and I couldn’t be happier! I love this time of year.

Keeping with my November goals, I am going strong with meal planning this week. The last two weeks I fell off track because we were away for Thanksgiving and came back in the middle of the week last week, so from Wednesday – Friday we pretty much ate whatever we had in the freezer / what was easy to pick up. Not the best, but that’s why I made a point to stay on track this week.

Meal Plan

Here’s this week’s meal plan:

Sunday (last night): Hanukkah Party with friends! (Chicken, Challah, Kugel, Latkes, Brussels Sprouts + more!)

Monday: Thai Green Curry with Shrimp and Kale + Black Rice

Peeled and deveined shrimp was on sale at Whole Foods, so I bought 2 lbs. and will freeze what we don’t use for this recipe.

Tuesday: Orange and Tomato Simmered Chicken Thighs with Whole Wheat Couscous

Wednesday: Asian Turkey Meatballs with Sesame-Lime Dipping Sauce

I am planning on adding some romaine to this recipe based on the reviews I read.

Thursday: Grilled Chicken with Thai Basil Salad

Friday: Caramelized Onion, Olive, Goat Cheese Whole Wheat Pizza

We have leftover homemade whole wheat pizza dough in our freezer, so this should be an easy one to throw together.

Saturday: Slow Cooker French Onion Soup + Sweet Potato and Apple Potato Pancakes

Keeping with the Hanukkah festivities, I am going to try a variation of the classic latke recipe and use sweet potatoes and apples!

Meal Plan

Many of the recipes above I haven’t cooked before, so I am excited to add some new dishes to this week’s dinner menu. If any of them turn out well, I will be sure to make them again and photograph them for you guys.

Hope you have a great Monday!

Eats Lately Fitness Tips and Tricks

New Week, New Month, New Goals

Hi everyone! Happy Monday AND happy November!

Let’s cut right to it. I am going to get completely real with you this morning.


I feel like in every blog post recently, I’ve talked about how busy I’ve been. Ever since we got back from England at the end of August I haven’t felt like my healthy self. It’s almost as if I never got back on track after vacation…even though it’s over two months later. That is SO unlike me.

Don’t get me wrong, I still go to the gym regularly, but my workouts have been complete blah and I honestly attribute that to my not-so-great diet recently. The past two months have been filled with many work events, lots of visitors, celebrations, holidays, and more. In almost all of these situations I’ve let my diet slip (think: carbs on carbs and lots of wine). Even though I still manage to drag myself to the gym the morning after an indulgent night, my workouts are sluggish and they feel ineffective.

So that’s what led me to this blog post. I realized that I have to change a few things in order to start feeling like “myself” again. I told myself that in order to hold myself accountable, I should write down specific goals that I can look back on throughout the month. And what better way to hold myself accountable then to share these goals with you guys and the rest of the blogosphere!?

While I don’t see my crazy work schedule easing up any time soon, I know I need to make more time for myself in order to start feeling healthier and more energized.

Today I am sharing my five goals that will (ideally!) help me get back on a healthy track this November. Let’s do this!


1. No meals / snacks / anything (besides water!) after 8:00PM.

No late night snacking

There have been way too many nights where I’ve given into late night snacking desires. I know this is not good to do right before bed and it’s flat out gotta stop. I often see Travis having a bowl of cereal after dinner, so I’ll do the same (even if I’m not hungry!). He has the metabolism of a race car, so I really shouldn’t be emulating his eating behaviors.

Of course, there will be nights where we’ll have dinner plans with friends or other “life” things after 8PM, but my goal is to stick to this rule whenever I can.


2. Get back on the early morning gym routine.


With my previous job, the only time I had to go to the gym was at 5AM before work, and I was seriously committed to that routine. I talk about my old morning routine and tips to help you work out in the morning in this blog post.

My current job allows me to begin my day a little later, but instead of using that extra time in the morning, I’ve been starting to just sleep in. My goal is to force myself out of bed by 6AM every morning and get my tushie right to the gym. That way I will still have time to do other things (blog, meal prep, etc.) before I leave for work. There have been far too many mornings when I pull myself out of bed around 7AM, have my coffee and breakfast, play around on my computer, and then before I know it, BAM, no time for the gym. Not good.


3. Be smarter about what I eat at work.

Pumpkin Souffle CHAYA Downtown

I work for a restaurant group and part of my job is taste-testing new menu items. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an awesome perk and I love it. But, do I really need to lick a dessert plate clean at 2PM on a Tuesday afternoon? (Guilty as charged!)

What I should be doing is just trying one small bite of a dish (just like the judges on Chopped and MasterChef, you know?). I really have to stick to that.


4. Meal plan every weekend.

Meal Plan - Little Chef Big Appetite

I used to be SO good about this, but have completely fallen off the bandwagon. I’ve mentioned that with the serious heat wave we’ve had, the last thing I wanted to do was turn on the oven or stove, so we resorted to a lot of take out.

No can do anymore! More meal planning –> healthier eating.


5. Two drink maximum when I am out to dinner, at social events, etc.


Enough said. Alcohol leads to low energy and crappier/missed workouts.


Okay, now who is with me!? I need all the support I can get in order to stick to these new goals.

Fitness Tips and Tricks

Four Easy Ways to be Healthier for Summer

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. I was recently invited to become a Blue Diamond Tastemaker, and as a longtime customer, I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity. As always, all opinions are my own and I truly appreciate your support!


Summer is SO CLOSE. Can’t you feel it? It’s right about this time every year that you start seeing hundreds of articles about how to slim down and get that perfect bikini body. While many of these tips are good, sometimes they can be unrealistic. We’re busy! We work, we have social lives, there are going to be times when we want to treat ourselves, and we should. A healthy lifestyle is all about balance.

So today, I want to share with you four easy ways to be healthier for summer. No calorie counting, crazy diet tricks, or anything of the sort. Just REAL tips that YOU can do to be healthier.


1. Schedule your workouts.

4 Easy Ways to be Healthier for Summer

Do you try to wake up early to workout, but end up pressing snooze over and over again? Or do you try to go after work, but end up telling yourself you’re just too tired? If you start thinking of your workouts like you do your work meetings, you will stop skipping them.

You wouldn’t tell your boss, “Sorry, I just wasn’t feeling up to that 2PM meeting,” so you shouldn’t let you tell YOURSELF that either. When setting your schedule for the week, or even just the next day, figure out when you can squeeze in a workout. For me, I always prefer morning workouts because I get it out of the way and it is a really positive way to start the day! You can read my tips to help you workout in the morning.


2. Pack Healthy Snacks

In my job, I am constantly on the go. Since I spend a good amount of time in the car, I always make sure to have healthy options to munch on. That way, I am never tempted to reach for the first unhealthy thing I can find. Also, when you let yourself go hungry for too long, you’re more lucky to overeat later on.

Read this post to see some of my favorite healthy work snacks. Recently, I always have almonds, a healthy protein bar, or fresh fruit like apples and bananas with me in the car or at my desk.

4 Easy Ways to be Healthier for Summer

I’ve always been a loyal Blue Diamond customer, so when their team sent me their new Honey Roasted Cinnamon Almonds to review, I was PUMPED. If you’re a cinnamon-sugar fan like me, you’re going to love these almonds. They taste indulgent, but they’re actually not loaded in sugar. From a nutrition standpoint, they are everything I want in a snack: packed with protein, healthy fats, and SUPER delicious. The only problem is that they are incredibly addicting, so I have to be careful about how many I eat in one sitting, which leads me to my next tip…


3. Portion Control

Portion control is something I am actively working on. It is so easy to sit in front of the TV or computer and mindlessly munch on a bag of chips or popcorn.

I’ve have had these bowls from Sur La Table for a few years now. They come in a set of five and I love them for cooking and baking because there are measurement markers on the inside of each bowl.

4 Easy Ways to be Healthier for Summer

I’ve recently started using these bowls for snacking, as well, because I can measure out a proper serving of almonds, popcorn, cereal, etc. rather than just guessing. If I left it up to my eyes, I would probably eat a double portion (or more!) of everything.

I am certainly not telling you to count calories, but try measuring out a proper serving of a snack you tend to “binge” on. Portion control is a key component to weight loss and healthy living.


4. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!

4 Easy Ways to be Healthier for Summer

I can’t stress this one enough. Often times, when we feel hungry, our bodies actually just need water. Over the next few weeks, practice carrying a water bottle with you wherever you go.

I love my Bobble, especially for travel. It contains a water filter, so I have no qualms filling it up in the airport sink because I am confident that that my water will be filtered, just like from my Brita at home.

If you struggle to drink enough water, try adding sliced fresh fruit like strawberries or oranges. I am considering getting one of these infuser water bottles.



I’d love to hear your thoughts: what other easy ways can we be healthier? Share your ideas in the comments below!


Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a certified nutritionist. These are simply tips that work for me and help me to create a healthier lifestyle.




Bread and Muffins Breakfast

Whole Wheat Blueberry Lemon Muffins

I buy a ton of frozen berries and veggies.


I use the berries in breakfast smoothies and on top of greek yogurt as a yummy snack. The veggies go into soups and stews or are just served as a quick and easy side to a weeknight dinner. As of lately, I am obsessed with baby peas – did you know they are packed with protein?

The great thing about frozen fruit and vegetables that many people don’t know, is that they can actually be healthier than their fresh counterparts. Why? Because they are frozen at peak ripeness, so they are jam-packed with nutrients. Fruits and veggies found in the fresh-produce aisles in grocery stores are often picked before they are ripe, so they don’t often develop all of their vitamins and minerals.

Don’t me wrong – I love fresh produce, but lot’s of people knock the frozen kinds, when in reality they’re great!

I also love to bake with my frozen berries. In fact, I would argue that they give my baked goods even more flavor than fresh berries.

Whole Wheat Blueberry and Lemon Muffins Recipe

I spent way too many hours this weekend researching the perfect healthy blueberry muffin.

Whole Wheat Blueberry and Lemon Muffins Recipe

I love when lemon is paired with blueberry, so I knew some lemon zest would have to be added into the mix.

Whole Wheat Blueberry and Lemon Muffins Recipe

I also wanted a muffin that wasn’t overloaded with sugar, butter or oils.

Whole Wheat Blueberry and Lemon Muffins Recipe

I was determined to use all whole wheat flour (as opposed to a blend of white and wheat), knowing quite well that 100% whole wheat muffins can turn out pretty dense and unpleasant sometimes.

Whole Wheat Blueberry and Lemon Muffins Recipe

Well, my friends, I believe these muffins turned out pretty darn amazing. I had a slight mishap during the baking process – my oven decided to turn off on me in the middle. I was nervous they were ruined and I would have to toss the batch, but to my surprise they were still great!

Whole Wheat Blueberry and Lemon Muffins Recipe

Next time around I am going to add a cinnamon-sugary topping!


Whole Wheat Blueberry Lemon Muffins
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 10-12
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (you can sub whole wheat flour here, but expect a denser muffin)
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons milk (I used skim)
  • 1.5 cups frozen blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a standard 12 cup muffin tray or line with baking liners and grease the liners.
  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the applesauce, lemon zest, butter, egg, vanilla and milk. Gently fold in the blueberries. Try not to over mix the batter.
  3. Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin cups. Place the muffin tray on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the tray and allow them to cool on a wire rack.

Side Dishes

Spiced Apples, Carrots and Red Onions with Lemon and Parsley Quinoa

Hi Food Lovers,

Welcome to the new and improved Little Chef Big Appetite. After a few months of reconstruction, I am back. New site, new look, but same old freakin’ delicious grub.  Don’t worry, I certainly did not stop, eating, cooking, baking, biting, or savoring — oh no. In fact, I have lots of goodies to share with you.


This post is all about cooking with color. In California, I am lucky enough to get fresh, colorful produce all year round. But growing up on the East coast, I remember loving summer evenings, strolling through the local farmer’s market with my parents. There was so much delicious fruit to sample and bring home. There was really no other season like it.  Now even though that I live in Southern California where we have a farmer’s market year round, it is still one of my favorite activities. Now on Saturday mornings, I begin my weekend scouring the stands for beautiful colors and unusual vegetables I can bring home to my kitchen.

Spiced Apples, Carrots and Red Onions with Lemon and Parsley Quinoa Recipe

This dish is certainly not lacking in color, but what is great about it is that it is made from produce that is fresh everywhere, all the time. Most importantly, it is full of flavor due to the wonderful spice mixture it incorporates.

Spiced Apples, Carrots and Red Onions with Lemon and Parsley Quinoa Recipe

 Now, I know quinoa is a big thing these days. Everyone seems to have a recipe for it. And I know it’s got it’s health benefits – full of fiber and protein…but I have to be honest, I still find it really bland when eaten on its own.  In this dish, though, I mixed it with lemon and parsley and then served it with the spiced vegetables, so all the flavors really complement each other, and I actually enjoy eating quinoa.

Spiced Apples, Carrots and Red Onions with Lemon and Parsley Quinoa Recipe

This is a relatively easy side dish to pull together and it will truly please your taste buds. Oh, and did I mention that it is vegetarian and gluten-free? Make this one for company – I did and it was a hit. I served it alongside roast chicken, but I don’t see why you couldn’t serve it at your next BBQ or potluck.

Spiced Apples, Carrots and Red Onions with Lemon and Parsley Quinoa Recipe


Spiced Apples, Carrots and Red Onions with Lemon and Parsley Quinoa
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on a bias into ½" thick pieces
  • 1 medium red apple (any kind), halved, cored, and sliced into 1" cubes
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1.5 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • zest of ½ lemon plus 2-3 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • ½ cup finely chopped parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook the quinoa in water according to package directions (do not add salt if directions say to do so).
  2. In a small bowl stir together the cardamom, coriander, black pepper and ¾ teaspoon of the salt. In a large bowl combine the carrots, apple, red onion and olive oil. Add the spice mixture and mix well to combine. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring halfway. Remove the vegetables from the oven when the carrots are tender and the onions begin to turn dark at the edges.
  3. Transfer the quinoa to a serving dish and stir in the remaining salt, lemon zest, lemon juice and parsley. Spread the roasted vegetables on top and serve. Best if eaten same day.
*Recipe adapted from Tasting Table

Vegetarian Meals

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Tomorrow is moving day.

My bags are not even packed. I am trying to squeeze every last item from my room into one of four massive suitcases. I probably won’t be packed until it’s ten minutes past the time I am supposed to leave for the airport.  That’s how these things usually work, don’t they?

Today I said my goodbyes “See you soon“‘s. I had my favorite take-out one last time. I went on one last walk with my buddy, Diesel:

(He totally doesn’t understand that I am leaving. Nor does he understand the concept of posing for a picture…even when bribed with treats).

Next time you hear from me I will be in sunny Los Angeles in a new apartment. I’ll be trying my best to make time for the kitchen after my busy work days.

But for now, I bring you one last meal from my favorite kitchen (home, of course!).

Yummy yummy black bean and sweet potato enchiladas!

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas Recipe

I know everything about this dish screams healthy, but trust me, it DOESN’T disappoint. The flavors mixed together are delicious, and even the leftovers taste great, too.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas Recipe

This is a meal that is good to cook with another person (if you can) because you end up using a bunch of different dishes and kitchen appliances. That said, it still is simple enough and WORTH IT.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas Recipe

I served this with grilled corn. Perfect dish for summer.

Bon appetit, my friends! See you in California!


Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 large onion, chopped and divided
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 gloves garlic, chopped
  • 15.5oz can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese (more if you like)
  • 5 8in whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  1. Heat your oven to 450 degrees. In a blender, puree the tomatoes, chili powder, half the onion, 1T of the oil, ½t of salt, ¼t of pepper until smooth.
  2. Heat 1T of the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the rest of the onion and the garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until soft. Add the black beans, sweet potato, oregano, and ¼t each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the sweet potatoes are tender (about 6 minutes).
  3. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl to let cool. Stir in half the cheddar.
  4. Spread 1 cup of the tomato mixture at the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Roll the bean mixture in the tortillas (I did about ⅔ cup in each) and place the rolls seam-side down in the baking dish.
  5. Top with some of the remaining sauce (to taste). Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Bake on the top rack of the oven until the cheese begins to brown (12-15 minutes).
  6. Sprinkle with the scallions and serve.


Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Tenders

Yesterday I was starving. All. Day.

Do you ever have those days? When you just can’t stop eating? I hate it.

Okay, I secretly love it.

I ate a big breakfast (my usual eggs and whole grain toast) and a big lunch (turkey sandwich and a greek yogurt) and snacked throughout the day. A lot of snacking. And by the time I got home at 5PM I was hungry again!

I knew I had to make dinner – fast – or I was going to start gnawing my arm off. I decided to make one of my favorite fast and easy dishes that I often make during the school year.  These parmesan-crusted chicken tenders are SO easy, require very few ingredients and are ready in no time.

It’s healthy too – you bake it rather than fry it.  I KNOW, I know, baked chicken is dry, right? Yeah, usually it is, but this dish really isn’t. The parm and breadcrumbs add a really yummy crust and the tenders are cooked just right. Trust me. It’s good.

Really simply, you just cut up some  boneless chicken breasts, coat it in some olive oil and thyme (I used dried here because I didn’t have any fresh on hand and it was fine – again, this is something you can make FAST and dried thyme is fine in a pinch).

Then, you dip each piece of chicken into the breadcrumb + parm mixture. Are you seeing how simple this is?

Lay the pieces onto a lightly greased baking dish. (So close to being done! So easy, right?)

Throw it in the oven for about 15 minutes until it looks like THIS:

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Tenders Recipe


MMMmmm! Food! Food! Eat! Eat!

I ate this chicken (no – not all of it, silly!) with glazed carrots (recipe to follow) and it was such a healthy, delicious, and quick meal.  Needless to say, I definitely was not hungry afterwards…

I may have had a cookie later.

I may have had two.

I may have…okay, I just had two…



Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Tenders
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 1 lb chicken breast cut into strips
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 t. dried thyme (fresh is best, but dried is fine in a pinch)
  • ⅓ c. whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • ⅓ c. grated Parmesan
  • Course Salt and ground pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. On one plate spread the oil and thyme. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place on the plate of oil.
  2. On another plate (or bowl) combine the breadcrumbs and the Parmesan. Using a fork or tongs, coat the chicken tenders in the breadcrumb mixture.
  3. Place the tenders onto a lightly greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Drizzle a little olive oil on each piece and place in top rack of the oven. Cook for about 15 minutes (or until each piece is cooked through and the top crust is a golden brown).
  4. Be careful not to overcook because no one likes overcooked, dried chicken!
*Recipe adapted from Serious Eats