Last week I shared some of the unique and challenging aspects of a commercial airline pilot’s work trip schedule, and how we often meal prep and pack homemade balanced meals to keep my husband from eating out for four days straight. If you’re interested in a little more of the standard (or not-so-standard) lifestyle of this career, definitely check out this post first!
For Zeb’s most recent four-day trip, he requested something low-carb for this week’s meal prep…..maybe our upcoming tropical summer vacation has something to do with that, haha. He would be doing multiple flights a day with nightly hotel stays in Tri-Cities, Washington, Meford, Oregon, and Eugene, Oregon. Not the most glamorous trip route this time.
I took to Pinterest for some low-carb inspiration, found a recipe, and tweaked it a little to make it my own. This trip, I made and packed Zeb a Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake & I kept a container for myself because it was so yummy! I LOVE the flavor of buffalo sauce.
You start by baking a spaghetti squash (which Brynnley kept calling a banana and a ball) and chicken breast. I like to microwave my squash for about 7-8 minutes first to help it cook a little faster, since it does take close to an hour!
In the meantime, you can prep the rest of your ingredients. Thinly sliced celery, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, crumbled blue cheese, ranch dressing, buffalo wing sauce, and parsley for topping.
Once the chicken is cooked and cooled, dice it up and add it to your mixture. Then use two forks to pull apart the spaghetti squash strands and add them to your large bowl.
Place the buffalo chicken spaghetti squash mixture into a greased casserole dish and bake at 400 degrees for another 20 minutes. You can add more cheese on top if you wish!
Zeb did say that I broke my own rule with this one because it wasn’t as good cold. Luckily he ended each day of this trip pretty early and was able to eat his meal in his hotel room with a microwave.
Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake
- 1 Spaghetti Squash
- 2 lb. Chicken Breast
- 1 cup Celery , thinly sliced
- 1 cup Tomato , diced
- 1 cup Shredded cheddar cheese
- 2/3 cup Crumbled Blue Cheese
- 1 cup Ranch Dressing
- 1 cup Buffalo Wing Sauce (or more, dependent on your taste)
- Parsley for garnish
- Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder to taste
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, greased. Also grease a 9×9 baking dish and set aside for later.
- Cut the spaghetti squash in half and place both halves face-down on the foil. Place chicken breast next to them.
- Bake until chicken is heated to 165 degrees internal temperature and remove from sheet. Place squash back into oven until it is very soft and tender.
- While squash and chicken are baking, combine the rest of your ingredients in a LARGE mixing bowl: thinly sliced celery, diced tomato, shredded cheese, crumbled blue cheese, ranch dressing, buffalo sauce, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
- Once the cooked chicken has cooled, cut it into bite-sized cubes and add it to the buffalo mixture.
- Once cooked spaghetti squash has cooled, remove the squash strands with two forks and add to the buffalo mixture. Blend well.
- Add the mixture to the greased baking dish and bake for another 20 minutes. Feel free to add cheese on top and continue baking until it browns. I liked to top mine with extra buffalo sauce.
- Garnish with parsley and add a little ranch dressing drizzle, if you so desire!
And there you have this week’s installment of what I meal prepped for my pilot husband! We are going to enjoy our Memorial Day weekend with our first trip to the pool of the year, and I can’t wait! Last summer, we went to the pool quite often and Brynnley seemed to enjoy it but she was only 5-7 months old. Now she’s nearly a year and a half and can run around the splash pad on her own. She LOVES water and insists on sticking herself in front of the hose whenever I’m out watering my garden.
She and I have been taking 2-3 walks A DAY because the weather is sooo perfect and I know hotter days are coming so we are taking advantage while we can.
I have a fun blog post idea planned for later next week so check back soon! Happy Memorial Day Weekend!
The new country lifestyle’s appeal has not worn off yet…last night I attended my first rodeo! People-watching is one of the best parts (the cow tie-down and roping just looked sad to me), and there were plenty of cowboys to watch. I don’t know what it is about the “western” style but something about a button-down and a good-fitting pair of jeans is so classic.
I talked to one of my best friends from Arizona on the phone while driving to the rodeo and joked how it would be just like the Nicholas Sparks story “The Longest Ride.” It totally was! Well, it was just like the movie if you take out Clint Eastwood’s son, the romance plot line, the North Carolina setting, the southern accents, and the rich guy’s inheritance. Okay basically the only thing it had in common with the movie was the amount of beer. But it was the first time I’ve seen real live bull riding and a few hundred intoxicated rednecks shouting at livestock so it was equally entertaining.
Anyways, a friend and I got together over the weekend and we made a “healthified” quesadilla recipe that I have to share! Quesadillas are always one of my guilty-pleasure cravings, but a bunch of cheese and a tortilla is hardly nutritious. It’s quite a calorie-heavy meal with out any beneficial vitamins or nutrients to offer. By filling up the quesadilla with fresh roasted veggies and lean white-meat chicken, we bring a little more balance and nutrients into the dish and make it a little less guilty :)
We diced up half of a butternut squash, a red onion, some sweet potato and bell peppers. After tossing them in some olive oil, garlic and pepper, we roasted them on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Then cut up some baked chicken into bite-sized chunks and rinsed some green chiles too.
I opted for a whole wheat tortilla. A layer of shredded cheese, some veggies, some chicken, and another layer of cheese before folding in half.
We cooked them in a skillet over medium heat, flipping once. It makes them SO crisp with the nice toast marks :)
Obviously it’s not quite as quick n’ easy as microwaving some cheese in a tortilla but the little extra prep work is way worth it.
I realize that I’m a decade late to the party, but I am currently in the middle of watching the entire Harry Potter series for the first time. One of my new friends here just finished reading the novels and wanted to re-watch the movies. I invited myself to join her because I’ve never made it past movie #4 and I wanted to finally see what all the Harry Potter hype was about! Over the weekend, after the Huckleberry Festival and my morning long run, we knocked out movies #5 and #6. They are getting dark!
Tonight we’re having a back-to-back double feature to finish up the last couple of movies in the series and I made some festive HP-themed treats because my obsession with Pinterest crafts run deep. (This is my third cutesy Pinterest recipe of the summer – 4th of July flag pretzels, watermelon rice crispie treats, and now these owl cupcakes.) I have to share a picture before I sign off for the day because they are just too cute to eat!
My Packing for Dorm Life post has been, by far, my most popular on this blog. After four years, it still drives the most traffic to my site – 37% of you found Strong Like My Coffee by searching this topic or finding it’s link on Pinterest! After nearly half a million views, I quickly realized that my “Healthy College Girl” theme was resonating with a lot of my readers. Every single summer for the past four years, my blog’s page views sky rocket….the back-to-school preparation begins and my fellow healthy college girls seem to be researching healthy grocery guides, meal ideas, and tips for finding balance in college before heading off to school soon!
I did the same thing. Pinterest was just getting popular right before my freshman year at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. I looked up dorm decorating ideas, ways to increase storage in tiny living spaces, tips on living with a roommate for the first time, and study tips. But what really interested me were the posts on avoiding the notorious Freshman 15, ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a social life as a freshman, and advice on fitness and nutrition as a busy college student.
After a couple years as a student-athlete, a lot of what I learned was through trial and error and experience. I navigated my way through campus dining and the all-you-can-eat buffets. Sometimes I made my own healthy salad and other times I gave into Temptation Station…AKA the dessert cart, which was stocked up on every type of cookie, pastry, and donut along with a soft-serve ice cream bar.
Some of the most important points I learned about prioritizing health in college:
- Getting enough quality sleep affects your academic performance, your athletic performance, and the nutrition choices you make throughout the day. Oftentimes when we are tired, we crave instant sugary snacks to boost our energy. Quality sleep keeps your brain sharp, your muscles repaired, and your energy levels more stable.
- Lose the “get my money’s worth” mentality in the dining halls. Quality over quantity.
- Pre-plan your “treat” days. Completely restricting certain foods (like that ice cream bar) will most likely lead to a total binge when you’re having an off day. Planned indulgences will keep you from feeling deprived without totally going overboard.
- It’s not just about diet and exercise; reducing stress is a major component of a healthy lifestyle. There are many stressors in college – roommates, finals, frat boys – which can have an impact on our motivation to workout and the foods we crave. Every finals week, I craved allll the sushi, macaroni and cheese, and frozen yogurt. :) Finding healthy ways to cope with stress is one of the biggest pieces of advice I can offer – one that I am still working on myself, one year post-graduation!
- Alcohol and abs don’t mix. Not to sound like a buzz kill, but alcohol consumption has a drastic impact on our bodies. Beverages contain empty calories of carbs and sugars, but alcohol also has an inflammatory effect on the body. Moderation is key! I definitely enjoyed my 21st birthday and a few fun nights downtown, but I also happily volunteered to be designated driver and substituted fruity water. Balance!
I continued to post content relevant to this theme for the past four years. As I noticed my page views beginning to climb again last week, I thought I would put together a “Round Up” of my favorite Healthy College Girl themed posts in one spot. They are in order of my personal favorite! Each link will open in a new tab :)
- 6 Tips for Navigating Through Campus Dining (Guest blog post for Quest Nutrition)
- Healthy College Girl’s Travel Guide
- Observations from a College Campus Gym
- Healthy Study Snack List
- College Girl Grocery Guide – dorm edition
- College Girl Grocery Guide 2.0 – apartment edition
- College Girl Meal Plan
- List of De-stressors
- Sweet Tooth Cures
- By the Time You Turn 22…
Hopefully you found something helpful here! It’s been a year since I graduated. Now that I’m living 1,000 miles from “home” with a brand new marketing job and real life responsibilities, I feel like I have to “re-learn” my own healthy habits. Post-grad life is mostly just figuring it out through trial and error. Figuring out how to balance the normal adult chores and errands, work, enough sleep, healthy meals, workouts, play time, and whatever surprises come up. Having a supportive family with similar goals certainly helps. Surrounding yourself with positive people is probably one of the most important components of your health.
Let me know what other kinds of content you’d like to see, or any healthy tips of your own! Tomorrow marks my two-month anniversary of moving to Idaho and we have an epic day adventure planned. Full recap on Monday! :)