Inspiration For Meal Planning
I hate meal planning and deciding what to fix for dinner, but after a long day at work I would rather cobble together something at home than make a stop for take-out, so I try to plan and shop for at least a few healthy meals each week. I found several good recipes from Laura’s weekly meal planning link-ups, but still felt like I was in a rut. When I had an opportunity to review the Runner’s World Cookbook, I jumped at the chance, hoping that it would make me a more inspired cook again.
Runner’s World Cookbook Review
When I first opened the cookbook, I was intrigued by the introduction section called “How To Eat Like A Runner.” It has great nutritional information that really applies to everyone, and lists of top choices from different food categories (fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, meat and fish, etc.). As I started browsing the recipes, I almost had to put it away because it was making me so hungry! I tried to skip the “Snacks and Smoothies” chapter and focus on the main dishes (organized in chapters of “Soups and Stews,” “Sandwiches, Pizzas and Burgers,” “Sauces and Pasta,” “Meat and Poultry,” “Fish and Seafood,” and “Vegetables”) but even those left me drooling–and this was after dinner! I flagged at least a dozen recipes and then put the Runner’s World cookbook out of sight where it couldn’t tempt me.
When it came time to do my weekly grocery shopping, I selected a few recipes to try.
Of course, I had to start with the Banana Oat Energy Bars.
I know you will want to make these, so here is the recipe from the Runner’s World Cookbook with my variations in parenthesis.
Runner’s World Banana Oat Energy Bars Recipe
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans)
2 overripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1.5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup dried cranberries (I used raisins)
Preheat oven to 350F. Coat an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with cooking spray.
Toast walnuts in oven for 5 to 8 minutes until just fragrant. (Oops! I didn’t do this.)
In a large mixing bowl, bash bananas and then add oil, sugar, and vanilla extract and mix until well blended.
In another mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking poweder and baking soda.
Add the dry mixture to the banana mixture and mix until just evenly blended.
Fold in the walnuts and cranberries.
Pour the batter into the baking dish pan and spread evenly.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out nearly clean.
Cool completely before cutting into 12 bars.
Nutrition Information (based on Runner’s World recipe!)
Per bar: 303 calories, 41 g carb, 3 g fiber, 4 g protein, 15 g fat
So, this is a hearty snack bar or breakfast bar, but it is so yummy and filling!
Here are the dinner recipes I tried, with my own variations.
I think the curried coconut squash soup was the only recipe I didn’t modify. 🙂
The mini tuna cakes were supposed to be made with canned salmon, but my husband is more willing to try tuna concoctions than salmon, so I used canned albacore tuna instead. I was surprised at how mild the tuna flavor was and will definitely make these again. I served the tuna cakes with the soup the first night I made them, and had the leftovers on a bed of wild rice. They also would be great as sliders topped with guacamole.
The stove top stew recipe calls for pork tenderloin, but my grocery store was only selling pairs of pork tenderloins for $20 or individual pre-seasoned ones, so I used beef instead. I also added a few cubes of squash leftover from the soup recipe and a diced sweet potato that needed to be used. It was delicious.
The chickpea and spinach stew was supposed to be a drier stir-fry, but I made this after work and decided to use a can of diced tomatoes instead of taking the time to slice a pint of cherry tomatoes like the recipe calls for. My one complaint about this recipe is that it turned out to be very spicy. Maybe my garam masala is hotter than most, or maybe 1 Tbsp is too much for my mouth! This is another recipe that I will make again, although with less spice!
If you are looking for new ideas and inspiration in the kitchen, I really think you should check out the Runner’s World cookbook. Every recipe uses ingredients that are nutritional power houses, and many of them can be prepared in about 30 minutes. If it can inspire me in the kitchen, it surely will inspire you! You can check it out right now using my Amazon affiliate link:
How often do you use a cookbook?
How do you decide what to make for dinner?