{ Meal Prep for Beginners }

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Meal prep, or preparing large amounts of healthy food for the week at one time, does not have to be rocket science. Sure, it will leave you tired and your kitchen a mess, but it is so well worth it when you can run out the door in the morning with your breakfast and lunch already packed and portioned. Plus, I’d rather get my kitchen dirty once than all week long! It dawned on me that I often write recipes for people who enjoy cooking. What about those, such as my cousin, who claim they are lazy or can’t cook? Here are a few ways to cook for your workweek in ways that are very basic, time efficient, and healthy. Stay tuned for the breakfast edition . .

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First, choose your favorite protein, veggie, and starch. I recommend starting out with these three staples, but as you get quicker and better at meal prepping, you can do two proteins, two veggies, and two starches to switch things up.

Adjust serving sizes depending on weight loss or weight gain goals. This is why a food scale (at Bed Bath and Beyond) comes in handy. It may sound crazy, like it’s only for bodybuilders, but you would be amazed at how wrong we get our portions.

Here are some ideas for one person, but double ingredients for two, or triple if you are feeding a 6’4 man who eats every two hours! Check with a nutritionist or a health coach to determine what your serving sizes should be.

The key is, with all of these recipes, is that you will be freezing leftovers. Make sure you have plenty of containers for your food. You will want some to use for the week, and some to label and place in the freezer for another week.

Some essentials for meal prep:

  • Crockpot
  • Food Scale
  • Basic cookware
  • Tupperware

Here is a simple way to do a LOT of chicken:

  • 2-3 pounds thin-sliced chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegarette dressing
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  1. Remove any gristle (white parts) from the chicken
  2. Place in all ingredients in Crockpot, toss to coat chicken evenly with seasonings and dressing
  3. Cook covered on low for about 8 hours.
  4. To serve, you can sprinkle your favorite seasonings on top if you need to. We use Lawry’s or Tony Chachere’s, but if you are concerned with sodium try salt-free versions.
  5. For meal prepping – you can weigh out your portions (about 4-5 ounces per person) and place in Tupperware.

 

For your starch, I recommend either a huge pot of brown rice, or baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.

Buy the big bags of brown rice from the grocery store and cook to package directions. Season with soy sauce, light butter, hot sauce, salt and pepper, or your favorite seasonings. Place about 1 cup in each Tupperware container with your protein.

If you prefer a baked potato or sweet potato, try to choose 5 or  6 that are relatively the same size so that they cook evenly.

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Rinse potatoes with water, pat dry.
  3. Stab with a fork a few times.
  4. Place in the oven on a baking sheet.
  5. After one hour, try slicing into potatoes to see if they are done. Do not increase temperature if they are not or break up into pieces, just let them cook for another 20 or so.
  6. Cut in half and place in Tupperware with your meat.

 

An easy veggie to meal prep would be steamed broccoli.

  1. Buy about 4 heads broccoli.
  2. Trim giant stalks off, break broccoli into pieces.
  3. In a large pot or deep pan, place broccoli in about two inches of water. You don’t need to cover completely, the key is to steam.
  4. Cover and bring water to boil.
  5. Steam about 5-8 minutes.
  6. Check broccoli at about 5 minutes and pierce with a fork. You want there to be a “bite” to it.
  7. Drain broccoli in collander.
  8. Place about 1-2 cups broccoli in Tupperware with chicken and starch.
  9. Optional seasonings: Soy sauce, salt-free seasonings, light butter

 

Since this is just breaching the surface of a healthy meal prep, please post your meal prep questions in the comments and stay tuned for more blogs on this topic.

 

 

More Posts:

Healthy On-the-Go Breakfasts to Take to Work }

No Excuses! Tips for Getting Your Workout Done When Traveling

Healthy Red Beans and Rice Recipe

About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the healthy recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She often shares health tips and southern recipes that she turns slightly healthier. On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.”

For inquiries about your brand being featured on this blog click here.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

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{ 3 Healthy Southern Shrimp Recipes – That Aren’t Fried! }

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{ 3 Healthy Southern Shrimp Recipes that Aren’t Fried }

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In the south, especially at restaurants, everything is fried! Fried shrimp po’boys, fried okra, fried pork chops, you name it. That doesn’t mean I don’t love a good crispy salty fried shrimp every once in awhile, but for cooking during the week shrimp is delicious grilled or sautéed. It doesn’t even need the batter and oil! Here are a few healthier shrimp recipes:

In the first photo  the { No Guilt New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp }. While the traditional version has about 4 sticks of butter, this recipe cuts down on that greatly while maintaining a tasty sauce.

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For a healthier take on those decadent seafood stuffed mushrooms you find at weddings and restaurants, try these { Shrimp Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms } 

Finally, shrimp and grits is a creamy southern staple that can be made healthier right in your own home! { Heavenly Slightly Healthier Shrimp & Grits Recipe }

 

 

 

More Posts:

{ Healthy Easy Sloppy Joes – with a Louisiana twist }

{ Healthy Tailgating Recipes – Appetizer, Main Course, and Dessert }

{ Super Healthy Crock Pot Sweet Potato and Steak Tips }

About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She is known for turning delicious southern staples into slightly healthier versions that can be enjoyed all week long. On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.”

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

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{ Healthy Easy Sloppy Joes – with a Louisiana twist }

SloppyJoes2CrawfishCrunches

These sloppy joes are super healthy and super easy. I love making a big batch in the beginning of the week, almost three times this recipe size for the husband and I, and then eating it all week long for lunch or dinner. I don’t even use the bread! I personally like pairing it with sweet potatoes sometimes. You can get creative too.  The Louisiana twist is the creole seasoning. It’s not spicy – just flavorful. We add it to just about everything down here.

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Serves about 5:

  • 1 lb raw lean ground turkey
  • 1 T dry steak seasoning blend
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1 T onion powder
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 3/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 5 light hamburger buns
  • 1 t creole or cajun seasoning  – low sodium optional

1)  In a large saute pan, cook your ground turkey on medium high heat. Break up into small crumbles with spatula. When there is no pink color left in the pan, drain in a colander.

2) Add your onion and bell pepper to the pan. Saute about five minutes.  Add in garlic and saute one more minute. Add in ground turkey again, stir in with remaining ingredients except bun.

3) Simmer on low heat for at least 10 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. I think it’s even better the next day!

4) Serve on whole wheat buns. For a quick slaw recipe try this.

SloppyJoes3CrawfishCrunches

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{ How to Curb Your Sweet Tooth with Healthy Alternatives }

{ Healthy Crockpot Creole Turkey Meatballs in an Heirloom Tomato Sauce }

{ 3 Tips and Tricks for Packing Healthy Snacks When Flying }

About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She is known for turning delicious southern staples into slightly healthier versions that can be enjoyed all week long.  On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.” 

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here

For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

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How to Curb Your Sweet Tooth with Healthy Alternatives

SWEET TOOTH ZAPPERS CRAWFISH & CRUNCHESIf you know anything about me, you know that I am the QUEEN of sweets. I am known for having a small portion for dinner so that I can have a larger portion of dessert. I am known for dashing out of the car before it is even fully parked when going out for ice cream. Well, people who have seen this crazed state of mine may not know that I do not eat like that all week long, and I have to find healthy alternatives to sweets when I am not treating myself on the weekend. Although making your own treats would be great, I am not opposed to store bought items either. Here are a few ideas, tricks, and tips, that are not JUST fruit!

First, try one of these lighter dessert recipes either for entertaining a crowd or to nibble on throughout the week.

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{ Quick & Skinny Southern Banana Pudding }

{ Healthy Dessert Recipe: Louisiana Strawberry & Cream Parfaits }

If you are attending a party and don’t want to be teased by a giant chocolate cake or endless brownies, bring your own slightly healthier treat.

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Think Louisiana Peach Cobbler with Pecan Praline Streusel. Hey, it’s no peach in the calorie department, but it has about half the sugar of regular versions.

These pound cake parfaits are light and so easy to make: { Super Simple Pound Cake Pudding Parfait }

Okay, so you hate cooking, you don’t have time, or you just need something in a pinch. Here are a few of my favorite individually portioned store bought desserts:

Weight Watchers Ice Cream Bars: I love the GIANT Chocolate Fudge Bar

Protein bars. Quest Bars to be exact. Find them at your local GNC. Chocolate chip cookie dough, s’mores and Oreo are excellent.

Jello Sugar free pudding cups. These are especially convenient. The  instant powdered packages take about five minutes to make as well.

A few tips:

Always have a few mints on hand to pop in after you eat lunch or dinner. Once you cleanse your pallet with that, you may be less likely to splurge on dessert.

Yes, fruit is one of the best options. Aim to have about one small piece a day.

Do not overload on artificial sweeteners. Sweets are meant to be a treat and even the sugar free kind should be in eaten in moderation.

Live a little! Live by the 90% clean, 10% cheat rule. If your week was 90% full of healthy foods and exercise, go for that brownie sundae on the weekend and enjoy every moment. If your week was a wreck, try some small portions of the recipes and tricks above to stay on track.

 

More Posts:

{ How to Cut Back on Bread – Recipes, Tips, and More }

{ Ways to Use Greek Yogurt Your Totally Missing Out on }

{ 3 Tips and Tricks for Packing Healthy Snacks When Flying }

About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She is known for turning delicious southern staples into slightly healthier versions that can be enjoyed all week long.  On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.” 

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here

For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

 

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Healthy Grocery List Essentials: A Few of My Favorite Products

GROCERY LIST BLOG CRAWFISH AND CRUNCHES

Healthy Grocery List Essentials: A Few of My Favorite Products

When it comes to grocery shopping, there are thousands of lists out there online. Everyone is following a different diet, whether it’s meatless, carb-less, or dairy free. Now that I’m on a new nutrition plan, thanks to my fabulous health coach  sister-in-law, I have found that carbs are not the devil.  I am thrilled to incorporate “clean carbs” into my diet like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and brown rice. My hair  feels healthier, I have less headaches, and a newfound energy. Enough about me, I am here to share a few of my grocery list staples that I personally feel are a part of a very balanced diet, not to mention most products are health coach approved.

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Unsweetened vanilla almond milk, unsweetened cashew milk, or unsweetened almond-coconut milk. Throw it in all your protein shakes or smoothies, mix it with cereal or oatmeal, you name it.

The obvious lean meats and seafoods including, chicken, fish, ground turkey, shrimp. Loving chicken tenderloins lately. So much easier to cook and make for a great snack.

Hardboiled eggs.

Protein bars. I die for Quest Bars. Smore’s, Chocolate Chip, Brownie, White Chocolate Raspberry, Cookies and Cream. I don’t care if I have to take out a loan to finance my addiction.

Low-salt dry roasted mixed nuts. So portable. So convenient.

Brown rice. Any old brand. I make mine in chicken broth for added flavor, season with low-sodium soy sauce, a little cajun seasoning, sometimes hot sauce.

Sweet Potatoes. I bake mine whole, the old fashioned way in the oven at 375 for about an hour depending on the size. I season with cinnamon and they make the perfect partner with a spicy ground turkey skillet, or anything buffalo chicken.

Oatmeal. “Weight Control” Quaker Instant Oats. My favorite flavors are Banana Bread and Maple Brown Sugar.

For veggies, I am constantly roasting them or grilling them in olive oil. In a pinch, I buy the steamer bags that you pop in the microwave.

Those who know me and my voracious sweet tooth might imagine I eat brownies all day everyday. However those are only for weekend treats! For dessert, this is where I get a little creative.  Right now I am mixing Arctic Zero Thin Mint Ice Cream, with a scoop of chocolate protein powder and a splash of almond milk. I pop it in the freezer for about ten minutes and top with a calorie free Walden Farms chocolate syrup. Hello pretend sundae!

If you aren’t that intense, try an occasional treat – individually wrapped Weight Watchers Ice Cream Bars. They aren’t the best for you, but I find that individual servings help prevent from eating a whole pint. Also, try sugar free chocolate pudding cups.

As for dairy – I’m not eating a ton of dairy right now, but if I had to choose I pack Fat-free cottage cheese in my husbands lunch, and if I buy yogurt it is Fat free plain Chobani. I mix in my own fruit, sweetener of choice, and a pop of Kashi Go Lean Crisp Berry Crumble as my “granola.”

What am I forgetting? What are your favorites and why?

More Posts:

{ No Excuses! Tips for Getting Your Workout Done When Traveling }

{ Ways to Use Greek Yogurt Your Totally Missing Out on }

{ 3 Tips and Tricks for Packing Healthy Snacks When Flying }

About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She is known for turning delicious southern staples into slightly healthier versions that can be enjoyed all week long.  On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.” 

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here

For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

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{ Healthy Dessert Recipe: Louisiana Strawberry & Cream Parfaits }

HealthyLouisianaStrawberryParfait

{Healthy Dessert Recipe:  Louisiana Strawberry & Cream Parfaits }

On National Soft Ice Cream Day, I thought that this recipe would be a perfect healthy substitute for anyone watching their waistline.  In this recipe, you will notice a few of my favorite tricks when making anything creamy and delicious – including greek yogurt and light cool whip.  So, go ahead, grab a scoop of this guilt free dessert.

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For one:

  • 1/2 cup plain fat free greek yogurt
  • 2 squirts of liquid stevia – vanilla flavored, or 2 Splenda packets, or sweetener of choice
  • 1/2 cup fat free sugar free cool whip
  • 2 T Kashi Go Lean Crisp
  • 1 drizzle honey (optional)
  • 1/4 C strawberries or food of choice

1) Put greek yogurt in your bowl, then sweeten with your stevia or sweetener of choice, mix.

2) Layer on your cool whip, then cereal, then strawberries, then honey.

 

About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She is known for turning delicious southern staples into slightly healthier versions that can be enjoyed all week long.  On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.” 

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here

For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

More Posts:

{ 3 Healthy Meal Prep Tips }

{ Mom’s Famous Banana Bread }

{ 3 Skinny Must-Make Southern Summer Desserts }

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{ 3 Healthy Meal Prep Tips }

Grilled shrimp crawfish & crunches

What in the world is “meal prep” you ask? Popular among body builders and fitness junkies, a Sunday spent preparing healthy snacks and lunches, or “meal prepping” can set you up for a successful week in the weight loss or health management department. Let’s face it, during the week, you are probably too exhausted to prepare your lunches at night or in the morning. When things get hectic at work and you don’t have fresh veggies or fruit on hand, you may be reaching for the vending machine candy before you know it. Here are a few ways to meal prep like a pro:

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Don’t be afraid to cook A LOT. Especially if you are cooking for two or more, get comfortable with freezing your meals in portioned out tupperware containers. If you get sick of your { super lean and mean mexican skillet } this week, whip it out of the freezer a month or two from now and it will taste like new.

Man the grill. The grill is a great way to get lean proteins and veggies done in a snap. You can lay them out across the grill or skewer them.  Try this recipe to eat all week.

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Pack salads like a pro. Make sure to layer your dressing, then protein, then veggies, then lettuce to keep them from getting soggy in your tupperware.

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About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She is known for turning delicious southern staples into slightly healthier versions that can be enjoyed all week long.  On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.” 

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here

For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

More Posts:

{ Spring Citrus Salad }

{ Mom’s Famous Banana Bread }

{ 3 Skinny Must-Make Southern Summer Desserts }

 

 

 

 

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{ New Orleans Beignets with Salted Caramel & Cream Cheese Icing }

beignets crawfish & crunches 4

{ New Orleans Beignets with Salted Caramel & Cream Cheese Icing }

“Cafe Au Lait makes it possible to get out of bed in the morning, beignets make it worthwhile.”

This couldn’t really be more true. Cafe Au Lait is a French phrase which means “coffee on milk.” It is used to refer to a beverage made with strong, fresh coffee and hot milk. Now, I always dip my beignets, the French word for a pastry made from fried dough, in coffee, or even hot chocolate at times.

I never really thought it was possible to replicate at home, or at the very least I thought it would be very messy and tricky.  Well, my dreams were made when I used my box mix, yes I said box mix, that can be bought in stores or ordered here. Remember, this blog is about realistic recipes as mentioned in the tagline. The mess of flour and dough and frying splatters are enough to take on,  I didn’t want to measure out the ingredients myself, make more of a mess and risk messing up the recipe. With the box, you just add water. Phew.

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Now, beignets are traditionally doused with powdered sugar, but if they aren’t dipped in hot chocolate or coffee, sometimes I find they need a little something. And what about in summer Louisiana heat when hot chocolate or hot coffee are just not happening? Most out-of-towners are used to a cream filled center like in donuts. I find that turns just turns a beignet into a square donut, hence why I created the caramel and icing drizzle.

If it’s your first time making beignets and you don’t want to make things tricky, just try the powdered sugar. If I had to choose between one topping, I would make the cream cheese icing over the salted caramel, but using both kicks it up a notch.

Make sure to check out my Pinterest for more recipes.

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Tag me on Instagram in your creations.

This is what I pretty much did for the: Salted caramel sauce

Cream cheese icing:

  • 8 T softened butter
  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 3 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 T warm water
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t kosher salt

1) Cook beignets according to box. I did a small trial run on a few – learning that my oil was too hot and the dough was too thin. They improved as I practiced.

2) Let cool and drain on paper towels. Powder with sugar then drizzle on your icing and sauce. You may need to microwave sauce briefly in order to get it to a drizzly consistency.

3) Serve hot! I covered mine with foil, then heated it up later at a party in the microwave just for a minute or two. They are best hot, but as my husband says, “I eat beignets up to three days later!”

Beignets Crawfish & crunches 1

About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She is known for turning delicious southern staples into slightly healthier versions that can be enjoyed all week long.  On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.” For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here. For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

More Recipes:

{ Texas Taco Style Stuffed Bell Peppers }

{ tangy avocado dream dressing }

{ low carb jambalaya skewers }

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{ tangy vegan avocado dream dressing }

Tangy avocado dream dressing crawfish & crunches

Tangy avocado dream dressing 2 crawfish & crunches{ tangy vegan avocado dream dressing }

I’m normally not one to make my own dressings. I know that they are easy. I know that they can be healthy if you make them at home. I need to make them more often. My husband loves avocados. I pack him one for lunch almost every day.  He also loves some tang. The tangy avocado dream dressing recipe was born when I combined those two loves. You literally just throw all the ingredients in the food processor and voila!

I put this on eggs, chicken, fish, salads, veggies, you name it. Get creative.

Make sure to check out my Pinterest for more recipes.

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Tag me on Instagram in your creations.

  • 1 T salt
  • 1 T pepper
  • 1 1/2 avocados
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 5 T EVOO
  • 7 T water
  • 1 C fresh basil
  • 1/4 C fresh parsley
  • 1/4 C fresh chives
  • 1 1/2 lemon – juice extracted
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar

1) Remove pits and skin from avocado. Mix all ingredients in a food processor.

2) Once blended, taste and test consistency. You may want to add more salt and pepper. If you want to loosen the dressing more – add another T water.

3) Garnish with a little extra parsley. Store in an airtight container.

About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She is known for turning delicious southern staples into slightly healthier versions that can be enjoyed all week long.  On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.” For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

More Recipes:

{ Texas Taco Style Stuffed Bell Peppers }

{ grilled cantaloupe summer salad }

{ low carb jambalaya skewers }

Tangy avocado dream dressing 3 crawfish & crunches

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