Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

7 Healthy Weight Loss Lunches to Kick Start Summer

This post is sponsored by Rubbermaid, but all opinions are my own.

Let's kick off summer right!  And healthy!

7 Healthy Weight Loss Lunches to Kick Start Summer...using my Rubbermaid Balance Meal Kit, planning lunches for the week was a breeze! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Every woman in my age range {I'll let you guess...over 30, less than 40} is in the same perdicament this time of year.

The weather is getting warmer.

I'm dragging out last year's shorts and dresses.

I'm not fitting into last year's shorts and dresses.

I need to drop the casseroles, pasta dinners and creamy soups.

I need to jump start my eating for Summer.

You'd think we'd learn our lesson year after year but we don't.  If only we'd eat healthy 80% of the time year round we wouldn't run into this Spring meltdown of I-can't-fit-into-any-of-my-summer-clothes.

But guess what!  I have a solution.  Rather, my friends at Rubbermaid made a solution.  And it's fabulous.  I know, because I tried it out!  I became a part of their new #BalancedBites Influencer Program this Spring and experimented with their brand new Balance Meal Kit.

7 Healthy Weight Loss Lunches to Kick Start Summer...using my Rubbermaid Balance Meal Kit, planning lunches for the week was a breeze! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

This new addition to the Rubbermaid food storage portfolio consists of four pre-portioned BPA-free containers for quick and easy meal prep for every day of the week.  The perfectly-sized containers take the guess work out of portion control for the four essential food groups: protein, grains, fruits and vegetables.

Healthy eating on the go has become the American standard.  We are all living in a rush-rush society. We jam pack our schedules {me included!} and then wonder why we are stuffing our faces with a quick drive-through meal at 8 p.m. that night feeling like crap soon after we finish.

Here's the thing.

I pack my kid's lunches every-single-night after dinner in preparation for school the next day.  So why not, pack my lunch as well?  Even if I stay at home?

After thinking about it a bit, it makes sense.

If I pack my lunch, with healthy foods {perfectly portioned healthy grains, protein, fruits and veggies}, then the chance of me over-eating/eating unhealthy/or grazing instead of eating a meal should be greatly reduced.

And guess what?

IT WORKED.

I did this.  I received my Rubbermaid Balance Meal Kit and packed my lunches for 7 days {minus the two days on the weekend where I then picked back up on Monday}.  It was easy as I was already packing my kids lunches, why not make a third?  Each day once I got the little one down for nap, I opened the fridge, pulled out my lunch and ATE.

I didn't have to stand at the fridge in a zone, staring, wondering, "what should I have?"  It was already there waiting for me.  And to be honest, it felt great eating healthy.

So here are my 7 days.  Let it be known there are SO MANY MORE variations you could have. After my 7 days I realized I never included whole grain rice or pasta as one of my healthy grains and I probably could have included more varieties of vegetables, but to each is own.  Eat what you like!

7 Healthy Weight Loss Lunches to Kick Start Summer...using my Rubbermaid Balance Meal Kit, planning lunches for the week was a breeze! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

DAY 1: Grilled chicken {leftovers from the previous night's dinner}, fresh spinach {that I drizzled with Italian dressing}, whole wheat crackers and blueberries.

7 Healthy Weight Loss Lunches to Kick Start Summer...using my Rubbermaid Balance Meal Kit, planning lunches for the week was a breeze! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

DAY 2: Sun-dried tomato hummus, carrots and broccoli, whole wheat crackers and a clementine orange.

7 Healthy Weight Loss Lunches to Kick Start Summer...using my Rubbermaid Balance Meal Kit, planning lunches for the week was a breeze! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

DAY 3: Two lean turkey sticks, sliced cucumbers, whole grain sprouted wheat bread with cream cheese and strawberries.

7 Healthy Weight Loss Lunches to Kick Start Summer...using my Rubbermaid Balance Meal Kit, planning lunches for the week was a breeze! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

DAY 4: Hard-boiled egg, carrots, Greek vanilla yogurt topped with sunflower seeds, blueberries and strawberries.

7 Healthy Weight Loss Lunches to Kick Start Summer...using my Rubbermaid Balance Meal Kit, planning lunches for the week was a breeze! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

DAY 5: Lean sliced turkey, sweet peppers, whole wheat crackers, unsweetened applesauce.

7 Healthy Weight Loss Lunches to Kick Start Summer...using my Rubbermaid Balance Meal Kit, planning lunches for the week was a breeze! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

DAY 6: Cottage cheese, fresh spinach {that I drizzled with Italian dressing}, whole wheat sprouted bread with cream cheese and a peach.

7 Healthy Weight Loss Lunches to Kick Start Summer...using my Rubbermaid Balance Meal Kit, planning lunches for the week was a breeze! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

DAY 7: Lean sliced turkey slices, cheddar cheese stick, sliced cucumbers and carrots, whole wheat pita chips and a clementine orange.

7 Healthy Weight Loss Lunches to Kick Start Summer...using my Rubbermaid Balance Meal Kit, planning lunches for the week was a breeze! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

You guys.  After 7 days of eating lunch this way I felt great!  I hope to keep the momentum going. My kids last day of school is TODAY {pray for me}.  So I know this will take a bit more effort with two extra bodies mingling around me, but I know it can be done.

Do you want to try out this Rubbermaid Balance Meal Kit for yourself?

They can be purchased HERE and are found at major retailers such as Target, Walmart, Costco, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Amazon.

To thank you for reading this whole post and seeing how much fun this product is, Rubbermaid is also giving away one to one of my readers!  There are multiple ways to enter below.  Good luck! One random winner will be chosen on Monday, May 29th.

Thank you to Rubbermaid for sponsoring this post.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 19, 2017

Apple Praline Buttermilk Bread

Need a fun, quick, over-the-top tasting loaf for gift giving?
The crunchy praline topping is a game changer!

Apple Praline Buttermilk Bread...this sweet bread gets even better when you pour the HOT praline topping over the finished product.  It gets crunchy and so good! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)


I'm not sure if it's the rainy wet weather we've had one day and the sweltering heat we've had the next day or if I'm just in a funk, but I've been hunkered down in the kitchen on dull days baking.

When I'm not baking, I'm finding myself buying fresh bouquets or planting flowers.  Take a peek HERE.  They are gracing my kitchen table and my deck and just looking at them helps me wish for Summer. Put those two together {flowers + baking} and my life is pretty much made.

Throw in a glass of wine and a good book and you'd think I'd have won the lottery! And maybe some Fixer Upper re-runs and gosh darn it, I'm high on life.

It doesn't take much for me to smile. I live simply and enjoy pleasing others. My house isn't grand, but my kitchen always smells good and my friends know they can often rely on me to deliver a warm baked good.


Apple Praline Buttermilk Bread...this sweet bread gets even better when you pour the HOT praline topping over the finished product.  It gets crunchy and so good! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

In fact after baking up this mouth watering bread I promptly texted a friend and informed her a warm loaf and two jars of my homemade jam would be by her front door when she arrived home from work. You see I bake and then I give most of it away. I cannot be trusted with the sweet little miracles I create!


When dreaming up this sweet loaf I knew I had buttermilk in the fridge to use up and a few lonely apples in the crisper drawer that had seen better days. Why not? I know it's not Fall, where apples are in abundance everywhere, but that doesn't mean we still can't bake with them, right?


Apple Praline Buttermilk Bread...this sweet bread gets even better when you pour the HOT praline topping over the finished product.  It gets crunchy and so good! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

But here's the kicker, the sweet, hot, almost boiling, praline sauce that you pour over the bread when it comes out of the oven? Well, it might be better than flowers, wine and re-runs of Fixer Upper combined.

If that is possible.


My kids who came home from school that day with the everyday sigh of, “I-might-die-right-here-on-the-kitchen-floor-if-I-don't-eat-right-now” look devoured this bread in about 5 seconds flat. In fact, I think one started choking before he took a big gulp of water to wash it down.


Apple Praline Buttermilk Bread...this sweet bread gets even better when you pour the HOT praline topping over the finished product.  It gets crunchy and so good! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

They gave it 5 stars and quickly asked why in the world I would give away the extra loaf when they loved it so much. Kids. Their waistlines are non existent at the meager ages of 3, 6 and 7. If they only knew how much they should be slowly enjoying that hot bread fresh from the oven after school, as in the coming years it will come with lots of guilt.

But, I kept my mouth shut about diets and waistlines and just informed them that it is nice to bake for others unexpectedly.


Who doesn't love to receive a foodie package at their doorstep?

Enjoy this bread warm from the oven or a day later with a nice, cold glass of milk. That praline topping gets crunchy and oh, so delicious!


Apple Praline Buttermilk Bread

Print this Recipe!

2 c. flour
½ c. sugar
1 ½ t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 c. buttermilk
1 egg
¼ c. vegetable oil
1 c. finely diced apples
1 t. cinnamon
½ c. finely diced pecans

Topping:
1 stick unsalted buttermilk
½ c. brown sugar

½ c. finely diced pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a stand mixer combine the flour sugar, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Add in the buttermilk, egg, oil, diced apples and pecans. Stir until just combined. Transfer to two greased loaf pans.
4. Bake loaves for 40-45 minutes or until raised and slightly golden.
5. Right before the loaves are finished, melt the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan on the stove. Once melted, bring to a boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. When the loaves are taken out of the oven, pour the hot topping over the bread and top with the remaining chopped pecans.

6. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


Apple Praline Buttermilk Bread...this sweet bread gets even better when you pour the HOT praline topping over the finished product.  It gets crunchy and so good! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Need more bread inspiration? Nothing smells better in the kitchen!


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

5 Minute BLT Frito Dip

My new favorite dip for summer!
People continually come crawling back to this bowl for seconds.

5 Minute BLT Frito Dip...the perfect summer snack!  Served great poolside, at a barbecue or for a potluck! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

So this past weekend, as you all know, was Mother's Day, but it was extra special in our house as our youngest shared Mother's Day with me and celebrated her 3rd birthday.

She's 3!  I cannot believe it.  Remember her birth story?  You can read about it here.  She came to us in a flourish and hasn't stopped since.  Being the youngest, I feel she is wise beyond her 3 years, yet loves her Mama time alone with me all the same.  Unfortunately she was a bit under the weather for her birthday, but judging by this smile, it didn't affect her too much!

We invited family over for a joint Mother's Day and birthday barbecue and it was....HOT!  It truly felt like summer.  I served barbecue pulled pork, potato salad, baked beans, fruit salad and the dip I'm showcasing today, my 5 Minute BLT Frito Dip.

What a hit it was!


I also received beautiful flower's on Mother's Day plus a box of chocolate donut holes {they know the way to their Mother's heart}.  The day was packed with church, parties and outdoor fun, along with a night ball practice thrown in but I wouldn't have had it any other way. 

I hope all you Mom's out there got some special treatment too!

Alright, let's talk DIP.

My favorite course.

5 Minute BLT Frito Dip...the perfect summer snack!  Served great poolside, at a barbecue or for a potluck! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

I have no problem making a meal out of chips and salsa, or chips and guacamole, or cheese and crackers or heck, even a plate of nachos.  I'm a snacker, what can I say?

A good dip is like a good friend.  You just keep going back for more.  This dip?  Beyond easy. And tasty.  I had three people ask me for the recipe on Sunday.  Everyone loved it and not a lick was left when the party was done.

That my friends, is a good sign of a good dip.

5 Minute BLT Frito Dip...the perfect summer snack!  Served great poolside, at a barbecue or for a potluck! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

What's great about this appetizer is that for one it really, truly only takes 5 minutes to prepare! Secondly, you can make it a few hours ahead or a day ahead stick it in the fridge and it's ready to go. Perfect for pool parties, barbecues or.....LUNCH...you know, for those who can make a snack a meal.

Know anyone?

Tuck this one away for the warm months ahead.  Studded with crisp bacon, diced tomatoes, green onions, cheese and a very unique ingredient that gives it a CRUNCH, it will win over most anyone!

5 Minute BLT Frito Dip


1 1/2 c. mayo
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
4 green onions, diced
1/2 c. cooked, chopped bacon
1 small tomato, diced
1/2 c. silvered almonds

1.  In a bowl combine all of the ingredients, cover and chill for at least two hours before serving. Use Frito chips as dippers.

5 Minute BLT Frito Dip...the perfect summer snack!  Served great poolside, at a barbecue or for a potluck! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Are you a dip fanatic like me?  Here are some of my other favorites...


Friday, May 12, 2017

Amish Breakfast Casserole

I've learned that when you saute bacon and onion together it solves the world's problems.
It happened again here with this breakfast casserole.

Amish Breakfast Casserole...the BEST baked egg dish EVER!  Can you guess the secret ingredient? (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

So far this week we've had one weeknight where we were actually home for the WHOLE evening. Which means I had time to cook an actual meal.  You know, one that requires baking time in the oven.  Heard of it?

It had been awhile since I did.  We've been surviving on pre-made dinners such as tacos {where I prepped all the ingredients earlier in the day},  quick grilled sandwiches on the panini press and these delicious Iowa Maid-Rites that can simmer the day away in the crock pot.

Baseball practices are fun, the kids LOVE it, but it can take your once planned dinners to a crazy, un-planned level.

Amish Breakfast Casserole...the BEST baked egg dish EVER!  Can you guess the secret ingredient? (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

I've made approximately 1,589 breakfast egg dishes in my lifetime.  I am not exaggerating. We eat one at least once a month, whether it breakfast or dinner.  We don't care.  They are easy to prep ahead and throw in the oven later.

Recently I had Fox Chapel Publishing send me this brand new Amish Community Cookbook. As a native Iowan we are used to many Amish communities surrounding the small town country side.  We are also used to their fabulous cooking and baking.

I try and make a trip once a summer to a semi-local Amish community and stock up on their bulk baking ingredients.  They are super duper cheap and last forever.  And let's be honest, I often buy some of their decedant baked goods.  I cannot resist.

Flipping through this cookbook I found a dish that spoke to me.  Bacon and onion sauteed together? A very unique ingredient that I would have never guessed be put in an egg casserole?  Lots of cheese?  

Amish Breakfast Casserole...the BEST baked egg dish EVER!  Can you guess the secret ingredient? (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

I prepped this in the morning while the kids were at school, baked these muffins for a simple side and crossed my fingers it would all be devoured at dinner.

It was not only devoured I'm pretty sure the baking dish was scraped and licked clean. Every single person in my family, including the one who often turns up his or her nose when I announce eggs for dinner took seconds.

The creaminess of these eggs is unbelievable.  And the flavor?  I didn't even have to add salt people. No salt.  Unheard of, right?

Amish Breakfast Casserole...the BEST baked egg dish EVER!  Can you guess the secret ingredient? (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Do me a favor and promptly erase all other egg dishes from your memory and recipe files. This one will replace them.

Amish Breakfast Casserole


1 lb. bacon, chopped and fried crisp
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6 eggs
4 c. frozen shredded hash browns
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 c. small curd cottage cheese

1.  In a large skillet cook the diced bacon and onion until bacon is crisp.  Drain on a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
2.  In a large bowl whisk the eggs.  Add in the hash browns, half of the shredded cheese and cottage cheese.  Fold in 3/4 of the bacon/onion mixture.
3.  Transfer mixture to a greased 9x13 baking dish and sprinkle with remaining bacon/onion/cheese mixture.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let set for 10 minutes before serving.

Amish Breakfast Casserole...the BEST baked egg dish EVER!  Can you guess the secret ingredient? (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Monday, May 8, 2017

Zesty Spaghetti Salad

Want to impress your friends at the next summer barbecue?
This Zesty Spaghetti Salad will do it!

Zesty Spaghetti Salad...my new favorite summer pasta salad!  Tangy, zesty and full of flavor! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Hey everyone!  How was your weekend?  In our neck of the woods the weather was GORGEOUS and that just makes my heart happy.

I got a ton of Vitamin D over the weekend and my soul is rejoicing.  I spent quality time with my girlfriends holding our annual garage sale, such an easy way to make some bucks!  I finished the book The Hillbilly Elegy, which came highly recommended, and the husband and I spent a fun Sunday with the kids going to church, playing ball outside, making stove-top popcorn, grilling burgers for dinner and tackling some household chores {which they didn't think was fun}.

All in all, a great weekend.

Oh, and how about this Zesty Spaghetti Salad!

Zesty Spaghetti Salad...my new favorite summer pasta salad!  Tangy, zesty and full of flavor! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

We had visited my in-laws a couple of weeks back and my husband's aunt brought a similar side dish. It was a big hit and I instantly knew I needed to try it at home.

Because that is what food bloggers do.  They eat something delicious and then run home and frantically try and recreate their version.

I couldn't find one ingredient so I swapped it out with something else.  Then because I cannot leave well enough alone I added a couple of ingredients I had on hand that seemed to fit in well.  It turned out great!  It is the perfect salad to pair with burgers on the grill and homemade steak fries.

Zesty Spaghetti Salad...my new favorite summer pasta salad!  Tangy, zesty and full of flavor! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

I will say I had one particular child walk by while I was making this and they started complaining about the black olives.  Honestly.  That child would rather enlist their seven year old self for World War III then eat a black olive.

And then that particular child wondered {outloud} why anyone would eat spaghetti COLD. Well, bless the heavens above, his idea of any spaghetti noodle is one smothered in red sauce and covered in Parmesan cheese.

I can't blame him.

But, in our house our kids eat everything I make, at least a bite and surprisngly he choked ate this spaghetti salad without too much heartache in the end.

I've decided I'm making this again on Mother's Day {which also happens to be our youngest birthday}.  We are inviting close family over for a barbecue and this will pair perfect with barbecue pork sandwiches, potato salad and baked beans.  The quinnessential summer American meal!

Give this one a try.  It's zesty and SO full of flavor!

Zesty Spaghetti Salad


12 oz. spaghetti noodles
12 oz. bottle Zesty Italian dressing
1 tomato, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 small can chopped black olives
1 t. sugar
2 T. Mrs. Dash Original Blend Seasoning
1 T. dried onion flakes
1 c. freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. chopped pepperoni

1.  In a large pot of water brought to a boil, cook the spaghetti noodles as directed.  I also heavily salt my boiling water {it flavors the pasta}.  When cooked, drain and rinse with cold water.
2.  Add the cooked spaghetti to a large serving bowl.  Pour the dressing over the noodles and toss to coat.  It will look like there is too much dressing, but it will gradually soak in.
3.  Add in the reminaing ingredients; tomato, black olives, green onion, sugar, seasoning blend, dried onion, shredded Parmesan and pepperoni.  Combine and toss to coat.
4.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
5.  This pasta salad will stay fresh in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Zesty Spaghetti Salad...my new favorite summer pasta salad!  Tangy, zesty and full of flavor! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

I've got some great foods coming up!  

Anyone interested in Caramel Pecan Pancakes?  Or a 5 Minute BLT Dip?

Until then, enjoy Spring!  Here are a few more of my favorite warm weather dishes for inspiration.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Green Grape Cheesecake Salad

Need a refreshing and easy fruit salad to bring to a gathering?
This one is a crowd pleaser!

Green Grape Cheesecake Salad...a fruit salad that tastes like dessert!  Sweet grapes, creamy filling and crunchy pecans! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

I've been knee deep in boxes and bins and bag of STUFF.  Mostly kid's stuff.  Clothes that they've outgrown, toys they no longer use or have forgotten.  Basically crap that I no longer want to be tripping over.

It is garage sale weekend around these parts and two of my girlfriends and I are gathering all of our...ahem...treasures...sticking a price on them and praying to the God's that someone snatches them up.

We usually have really good luck, as the town is swirling with bargin shoppers and kid's items sell really well.  So even though I complain about getting the stuff ready, it feels FABULOUS to free it from my house and make a little pocket change.

Green Grape Cheesecake Salad...a fruit salad that tastes like dessert!  Sweet grapes, creamy filling and crunchy pecans! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

It also gives me some girl time.  WITHOUT CHILDREN.  Bless their little hearts, but I do enjoy some downtime from them.

We chat in between customers, soak up some rays if the weather is cooperating and just sit and relax. And if this year rings true, we'll also munch on some yummy goodies.  Sometimes we run and grab sub sandwiches for us during lunch and other times we all bring a munchie and graze the afternoon away.

This "salad" if you want to call it that, is one I've brought in previous years.  It's cool, creamy, tart and crunchy.  It pairs perfectly with a sandwich or on a plate with cheese and crackers.  It's most definitely more of a dessert, but I call it salad because there is fruit in it. 

Whatever.  I've never been much about rules.

Green Grape Cheesecake Salad...a fruit salad that tastes like dessert!  Sweet grapes, creamy filling and crunchy pecans! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

The first time I laid my eyes on this salad I was in a corporate job, my first big one after college.  I remember heading to the main conference room for a lunch meeting.  I walked in and the big, center conference table was laden with food.

You name it, it was there.  Sandwiches, dips, salads and so much more.  I was making my way around the table and I came to this bowl that looked like a cross between tuna salad or rather what my mind was thinking "some kind of chopped pickle and grapes mixed into Cool Whip".

I gingerly scooped a mini bite on my plate and sat down.

Then I took a bite.  

Holy crap!  It wasn't chopped pickles mixed into Cool Whip.  It was a delicious fruit salad that tasted like cheesecake, studded with salty pecans.

I was hooked.

Green Grape Cheesecake Salad...a fruit salad that tastes like dessert!  Sweet grapes, creamy filling and crunchy pecans! (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

I've been making this dish ever since.  I take it to potlucks, make it for barbecues and recently took it to a MOPS brunch meeting.

Everyone asks for the recipe...make this soon!

Green Grap Cheesecake Salad


3 lbs. green grapes, halved {lengthwise}
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
4 oz. chopped pecans
2 T. brown sugar

1.  Using a hand held mixer or stand mixer cream together the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until smooth.
2.  Fold in the chopped grapes and pecans.
3.  Chill until served.
4.  This will stay fresh for a couple days in the fridge.