Operation Nutrition

nutrition, fitness, motherhood, & everything in between

Category: Side Dishes (page 1 of 2)

Thanksgiving 2016

Happy Wednesday, friends! Chances are, you’ll be spending time today prepping some delicious food for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving feast! I figured I’d share some of the recipes we’ll be making. We’re making most of the food, but we did order 2 sides from Wegman’s.

B is smoking a turkey like he did last year. Here is the recipe we’re using again this year Smoked Turkey. Currently, the turkey is in the refrigerator brining. Check out this interesting set up going on. Smile  The brining bag kept falling over, so we used an old Pampers box to keep the sides from falling (so far so good).











I’m also making my favorite macaroni and cheese recipe from this cookbook:









I’ll be making my mother’s Sage Cranberry Stuffing. I’ve never made it before and there isn’t exactly a specific “recipe” (so I’m hoping it will turn out as delicious as hers does). If it turns out, I’ll post how to make it.

For dessert, I’ll be making pumpkin pie, apple pie, and streusel pumpkin cheesecake bars. I’m using the recipe on the back of the Libby’s pumpkin can for the pumpkin pie. For the apple pie, I’m using the recipe from The Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.











The Streusel Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars is a favorite recipe of mine.

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The other sides are coming from Wegman’s. We ordered their Cranberry-Orange Sauce (I tried to make my own and it wasn’t good at all).

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The other side we’re getting from Wegman’s is their Roasted Butternut Squash with Baby Spinach & Cranberries. It’s absolutely delicious!








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Some of our family is brining other dishes, so we should have a lot of delicious food!

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Roasted Carrots

Hi friends, happy Tuesday! I hope you had a nice weekend. We spent time with family & we put up our Christmas tree! I know, I know….it’s not even Thanksgiving. Celebrating holidays has been so much more fun now that we have “S”.  It feels like we’re experiencing it for the first time along with her. Seeing her eyes light up when she saw the tree & other decorations was truly priceless. Hopefully, by putting it up so early, we’ll be able to enjoy it longer (and not feel like the holidays passed by so quickly).

We also picked up our CSA for the week. A few years ago, we were getting a weekly CSA, but then strayed away from it because we weren’t able to eat it all. I felt like we were wasting more than we ate. “B” and I figured we’d give it another try and really make an effort to eat every last fruit & vegetable. Not only does it help support local farmers, but it also is way less expensive than buying organic produce at the grocery store. Here is everything we got in our organic half share. All of this was $30.

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In order to make sure nothing went to waste, I planned all of our meals around the fruits & vegetables included in this week’s CSA. I’m excited because it is forcing me to make new recipes. It is also a way to ensure we’re eating enough veggies!

On Sunday night, I made a new-to-me recipe for roasted carrots. It was originally posted on the Food Network’s website. I pretty much followed the exact recipe & just made a few adjustments (since I was cooking a smaller portion). You can check out the original recipe here. It was super easy to make and was so delicious!



  • 10 medium to small carrots (we has a mixture of white, orange, & purple)
  • 1/2 tsp. pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh dill


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Slice the carrots diagonally in 1 1/2-inch-thick slices. (The carrots will shrink a lot, so be sure to make the slices big).

3. Place carrots into a Ziploc bag (or bowl), toss them with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.

4. Transfer carrots to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone cooking mat.

5. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until carrots are tender.

6. Enjoy!

I hope you have a great week!

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Giant Foods: Limoncello

Happy Sunday! I’m excited to tell you about a new Giant Foods product line. This new line of foods is inspired by the Italian lemon liqueur Limoncello. The zest of Sorrento lemons are steeped in alcohol until the oil is released. Once the oil is released, this liquid is mixed with simple syrup resulting in a strong lemon flavor without the bitterness of lemon juice (FYI: This line of foods doesn’t contain liqueur, just the flavor).

This line of foods would be perfect for a Memorial Day cookout! Between the delicious lemonade, lemon meringue cookies, or olive oil for grilling, you’ll be set for your kick off to summer. Just check out some of the limited Limoncello products Giant Foods is offering:

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Giant Foods was kind enough to send me these 3 products to sample:

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My thoughts?

The meringue cookies were delicious! They aren’t a chewy cookie, but they aren’t hard either. They have more of a shortbread consistency. The cookies are bursting with lemon flavors!

Normally, I’m not a fan of lemonade because I find most kinds too bitter. However, this lemonade was like nothing I’ve tried before. It has the perfect amount of sweetness with just a hint of tartness. I was also happy to see that it contained no corn syrup (as most do). I loved this stuff!

The risotto was also delicious. It was the best complement to grilled chicken. The ingredients were very impressive (no Franken food ingredients) since everything was natural (rice, lemon juice, dried onion, dried lemon zest, and dried parsley). This package serves 5-6 people, so it was an added bonus that we had leftovers!

I especially loved the lemon flavor in all of these products because it was different from traditional lemon flavors.

I’m looking forward to trying more of this limited line (especially the olive oil)!


Full disclosure: Giant Foods sent me the cookies, lemonade, and risotto to sample. However, this review and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Greek Salad

Happy Saturday! This past week was my first week back to work so needless to say I had absolutely no time to blog. The extra time I did have I wanted to spend with the babe. I missed her so much while I was at work. The one thing getting me through being away from her is knowing that I’ll be off all summer with her.

Last Saturday I tested out a recipe I saw on the Food Network. It was a Greek salad from the Pioneer Woman. I followed her recipe exactly with no substitutions. It was good, but I think it needed some adaptations to make it taste even better. So today’s post will be with the modifications.

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Greek Salad

Servings: 4
Calories: 272
Fat: 22.3 g
Carbs: 15.3 g
Protein: 6.2 g

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 cucumber, cut into large chunks
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thin
  • 20 whole pitted kalamata olives, cut in half lengthwise
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar 
  • 1.5 tsp. sugar 
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 5 whole kalamata olives, chopped into small pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lemon (for squeezing)

Mix together: lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, halved kalamata olives, and half the feta to a large bowl.

For the dressing: combine olive oil, vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt, pepper, and chopped olives in a bowl. Whisk together until combined.

Pour dressing over salad. Top with additional feta and squeeze a little lemon juice over the top. Serve & enjoy!

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Bang Bang Shrimp

Hey there! I hope you had a nice weekend. Ours was nice. We had a low-key weekend and spent our first Valentine’s Day as a family of 4. Since it was so cold and snowy, we had a quiet evening at home. It was perfect.

One of our favorite places to eat is Bone Fish Grill. Their “Bang Bang Shrimp” appetizer is the best. I went onto Pinterest in search of a recipe for the shrimp (as usual, Pinterest didn’t disappoint). While I still think nothing can beat the real thing, this came pretty close! It was delicious!

Bang Bang Shrimp

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Servings: 5
Serving Size: about 3 oz. of shrimp and 1 tbsp. sauce
Calories: 449
Fat: 18.8 g
Carbs: 40.3 g
Protein: 25.6 g

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for 4 servings:
Recipe adapted from Cinnamon-Spice & Everything Nice

  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Panko bead crumbs, divided
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil

For the sauce:

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tbsp. hot sauce (more or less depending how spicy you like it)
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar

In a small bowl, beat egg and egg white. Set aside.

In a shallow dish, mix together the corn starch, flour, 1/2 cup panko crumbs, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.

On a small plate, pour remaining 1/2 cup of panko crumbs.

Next, dredge peeled and deveined shrimp into the egg mixture. Then put the shrimp into the flour mixture (be sure to coat completely). Lastly, dip the shrimp into the panko crumbs. Set aside on a large plate. Repeat until all shrimp are coated. Place shrimp in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.

While shrimp are setting up in the refrigerator, make the sauce. Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together. Set aside.

Heat oil in a deep skillet. Place shrimp into oil and turn over when browned (I cooked the shrimp for a total of 5 minutes). Place cooked shrimp onto a paper towel so that it absorbs any excess oil.

You can drizzle the shrimp with the sauce or just dip the shrimp. Serve & enjoy!

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Cheese Ball Bites

Hey there! Is it just me or has this month flown by quickly!?!? I cannot believe that Christmas is only 2 days away!  Friday marked the beginning of my Christmas break and the beginning of all of our Christmas festivities (so excited)! My husband and I hosted our annual Christmas dinner for my dad, stepmother, sister, and her boyfriend.  It was a great time with good company and good food. Because I worked the day of our dinner, I took the easy way out and ordered the main course from our favorite Italian restaurant. I did make the appetizer and dessert though. For the appetizer, I made Cheese Ball Bites (recipe below). For dessert, I made Streusel Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars (recipe here).

My workouts last week were pretty much nonexistent. I was only able to do 1 strength training day and 1 cardio day because I wasn’t feeling well. Remember this post where I wrote how I usually get sick this time of year?!?!? I guess I’m just sticking with tradition. Luckily, I’m feeling a little better so hopefully I’ll be able to get some workouts in later this week.

Since it’s a wet and dreary day here (and I’m still not feeling great), I can see some laziness and Christmas movies taking place today. Smile

Here is the recipe for Cheese Ball Bites (they are not low-calorie, but it’s the holidays Smile):

cheeseball bites

Cheese Ball Bites

Servings: 12-16 (depending on how big you make them)
Serving Size: 1 cheese ball
Calories: 183
Fat: 12.4 g
Carbs: 16.1  g
Protein: 5.3 g

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for 12-16 cheese ball bites:
Recipe adapted from Five Heart Home

  • 8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat feta cheese; crumbled
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries; finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 12-16 small pretzel sticks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast the pecans by spreading them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Cook for about 5 minutes or until lightly toasted. Set aside and let cool.

Using a hand mixer, mix together cream cheese, feta, and cranberries until smooth.

Form cheese mixture into approximately 12-16 tablespoon-sized balls. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours (or until cheese balls are firm). I only needed to refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Roll chilled cheese balls in chopped pecans, pressing down so that they stick to the cheese. If you are making these a day in advance, cover and place in the refrigerator. If you are serving right away, continue to the next step.

Skewer each cheese ball with a pretzel stick. Enjoy!

Tips: You can make these ahead of time. Just be sure not to put the pretzel sticks in them until just before serving (otherwise they will turn soggy). Be sure to check out Samantha’s original recipe at Five Heart Home. She’s got some great variations with delicious flavors that you can also incorporate.

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Cauliflower Couscous

Hi there! I hope you had a nice Tuesday! I am so happy to report that I was able to run longer than 2 miles without having any IT Band issues (although I ran on a treadmill and not outside). However, it does make me hopeful that it is healing and that I will be able to run outside soon (fingers crossed).


As I promised yesterday, I have a recipe to share with you! Last night, I made cauliflower couscous. I found a couple of recipes online, but they were either too involved for a weeknight or I was missing ingredients. In the end, my creation turned out nicely!

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Cauliflower Couscous

Servings: 6
Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Calories: 77
Fat: 5.7 g
Carbs: 6.1 g
Fiber: 2.2 g
Protein: 1.4 g

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for 6 servings:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt & pepper or seasoned salt to taste
  • 12 kalamata olives (optional), chopped
  • 4 tbsp. parsley

Using a grater, grate cauliflower into fine pieces.


Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions, red pepper, and garlic for about 5 minutes (or until the onions and peppers are tender).

Add cauliflower to skillet. Season with salt & pepper or seasoned salt. Cook for about 8 minutes (or until cauliflower is tender). Be sure to stir frequently so that the cauliflower doesn’t burn.

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Add olives & parsley. Stir & enjoy!

This was a great lower calorie alternative to regular couscous plus it is very healthy.

Here is some additional nutrition information:

  • No cholesterol
  • High in dietary fiber
  • Very high in vitamin A
  • Very high in vitamin B6
  • Very high in vitamin C

Have a wonderful rest of your day!

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Parmesan Roasted Asparagus

Happy Tuesday! I hope your week is off to a great start.

I took a 60-minute cycle class yesterday. The instructor incorporated interval training for each song. He had a mix of 20-second speed intervals, 30-second resistance intervals, jumps, & climbs. It didn’t feel like an extremely challenging class, but by the end I was drenched and ended up burning a ton of calories. I guess it was more challenging than I thought.

I was thinking yesterday that I’m really going to miss being able to go to the gym in the middle of the day. My gym offers a lot of great classes throughout the day. They do offer a wide variety of evening classes, but I don’t want to go to the gym at 7:00 pm (I like to get my workouts done right when I leave work).

Last night, I made a new side dish (I have fallen into a rut with dinner side dishes). Lately, we’ve been eating a ton of steamed broccoli with dinner. While I love broccoli, I am getting quite bored with it. I found a bunch of asparagus recipes on Pinterest, but most were a little too time consuming. I decided to combine a bunch of different ideas and came up with a quick and easy creation.


Parmesan Roasted Asparagus

Servings: 2
Serving Size: about 10 spears each
Calories: 136
Fat: 9.5 g
Carbs: 9.3 g
Fiber: 3.8 g
Protein: 7.2 g

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for 2 servings:

  • Fresh asparagus (I used about 20 stalks)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 6 tsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste

Tip: To determine what part of the asparagus is best to use, gently bend the asparagus stalk until it breaks. The most tender part will be left for you to use.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil & spray with cooking spray.

Without overlapping asparagus, place the stalks on the cookie sheet.

Brush each stalk with olive oil. Evenly sprinkle garlic powder, parmesan cheese, salt, & pepper over the asparagus.


Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes. Cooking time may vary due to the thickness of the asparagus. Remove from the oven when asparagus is tender. Enjoy!

Other great nutrition stats for this recipe:

  • Low in cholesterol
  • High in dietary fiber
  • High in iron
  • High in thiamin
  • High in vitamin A
  • High in vitamin C

What are some of your favorite side dishes?

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Cycle Class & Heart Healthy Guacamole

Happy Tuesday! I hope you’re having a nice start to your week.  Yesterday, I took a Cycle class for the first time in a very long time. I forgot just how much I love this class.

If you’ve never heard of Spinning or Cycle, it’s a group fitness class on stationary bikes. The instructor is usually on their own bike facing the class. The instructor guides you through a “ride” that involves flat terrain, hills, seated climbs, and “jumps”. You’re told when to add resistance, when to stand, and how to monitor your speed.

I think one of the best things about Cycle classes is that they are usually appropriate for all fitness levels (beginner, experienced, or even professional racers). The reason it can meet the needs of all fitness levels is because you go at your pace. For example, you can add resistance when you want to push yourself, or go at an easier pace if needed. Sometimes people avoid group fitness classes because some classes can be a little intimidating. I think that cycle is a great way to ease into group fitness classes, because it is not intimidating at all. Since you are going at your own pace and controlling your own resistance, your workout is all about you. You don’t have to worry about learning steps, or going the wrong way. You just focus on your individual workout.

The other thing I really love about this type of cardio workout is that there are usually intervals involved (my favorite way to do cardio).

If you are taking a class for the first time, be sure to arrive early so that the instructor can help you properly set up your bike.

Last week I wrote about how it wasn’t until recently that I started liking avocados. Now that I enjoy avocados, I began making a very easy, yet flavorful guacamole.

As much as I love guacamole, it’s one of those foods that doesn’t photograph well.

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Heart Healthy Guacamole

Servings: 2
Calories: 176
Fat: 14.8 g (healthy fats)
Carbs: 12 g
Protein: 2.6 g

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for 2 servings:

  • 1 medium avocado
  • 1/2 cup of tomato; diced (you can use less or more to taste; I like mine to have a lot of tomato)
  • 1/4 cup onion; chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste

Slice avocado down the middle length-wise, twist, & pull apart. Now you should have 2 avocado halves. Using a spoon, scoop out the avocado. Place all ingredients into a bowl.

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Mash everything together with a fork. Enjoy!

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Avocados are deemed one of the healthiest foods in the world. Here are some of the health benefits of eating avocados:

  • Promotes heart health
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Helps regulate blood sugar levels
  • Helps prevent cancer
  • Helps lower cholesterol
  • Regulates and lowers blood pressure
  • Maintains healthy skin & hair
  • Reduces risk of stroke
  • Helps the body absorb other nutrients
  • Anti-aging properties
  • Promotes eye health
  • Prevents birth defects

What’s not to love when a food can do all of this?!?!

How do you eat avocados (so far, I’ve only had them in my guacamole). I’d love to hear from you! I need some new ideas. Smile

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Italian Zucchini Boats

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Italian Zucchini Boats

Servings: 4
Calories: 100
Fat: 4.4 g
Carbs: 13.7 g
Protein: 3.6 g

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for 4 servings:
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

  • 2 medium zucchinis
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • 1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill; chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley; chopped
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Split zucchinis in half and scoop out the seeds. Season the zucchinis with salt.

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Combine remaining ingredients into a bowl and stir until thoroughly mixed.

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Spoon mixture into the zucchini boats.

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Bake for 25-30 minutes. Enjoy!

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This is a great side dish for a week night meal. This recipe is super easy to make and is only 100 calories per serving!

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