Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Scalloped Potatoes



Mmmm....scalloped potatoes. 

They're one of my favorites and one of the ultimate comfort foods. Cheesy, creamy, potatoe-y, hot, crunchy on top. So good. 

And so bad!  Tons of butter, cream, CHEESE!  Carbs and fat, people.  Carbs and fat.  The stuff that dreams are made of, really. 

Luckily, this lightened up recipe contains very little butter, skim milk and only a small amount of cheese!  It still has some carbs and some fat but I've done my best to make sure most of it is healthy, and it's a great option to serve with your Christmas ham! 

What you'll need: 

4 medium potatoes (I used red skinned) 
2 tsp butter
2 tsp olive oil 
1/2 large onion, minced 
2 tbsp whole wheat flour 
1 1/2- 2 cups nonfat milk or unsweetened almond milk (be careful which almond milk you choose.  The one I used the first time had a hint of vanilla even though it was unsweetened and it wasn't great). 
3/4 cup cheddar cheese 
A tsp each of fresh thyme and parsley

Equipment you'll need: 

A mandolin (I got mine for $10 at Sears.  You can also just slice the potatoes yourself, just make sure they're thin and even slices.  And wear a wrist brace). 
A small saucepan 
A medium sized casserole dish (mine was 6X6) 
A whisk  

To begin, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Use your mandolin on a medium thickness setting and slice your potatoes and place in a large bowl.  Once they're all sliced and in the bowl, cover with cold water and allow to soak for at least 15 minutes. 


While the potatoes are soaking, heat a medium saucepan to medium heat.  Add the butter and olive oil to the the pan, then add minced onions.  Saute gently until the onions are softened (do not allow to brown), about 5 minutes. 


Once your potatoes have soaked, drain in a colander and place them on a dry, CLEAN kitchen towel to dry. (You can use paper towels if you'd like). 


While the potatoes are drying (I know we're multi-tasking, get your act together). Add the whole wheat flour to the oil/butter/onion mixture.  Keep stirring on medium heat for a few minutes and let the flour cook and brown a bit. 


Add your milk slowly, a little bit at a time and whisk to incorporate before adding more.  Lower the heat to low-medium and keep whisking until all the milk is added and the mixture is bubbling a little bit.  Start with just 1 1/2 cups of the milk, if the mixture gets too thick then you can add the other 1/2 cup.) When the mixture is thick and creamy, add your herbs and remove from the heat. 

Place a layer of the potatoes in your casserole dish (sprayed with coconut oil).  Spoon some of your cream sauce on top...



Then sprinkle 1/4 cup (1 blue container) of your cheese...


Add another layer of potatoes, then another layer of cream sauce, then more cheese. Do this until you have no more potatoes to add and your casserole dish is full.  Pour ALL remaining cream sauce over the top, then add the last 1/4 cup of your cheese.  (I did this in 3 layers).  

Place your casserole dish in the oven and allow to cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Place on a cookie sheet or lay some foil underneath it so it doesn't bubble over and mess up your oven. 

Drumroll.....



Creamy and delicious scalloped potatoes!  I served with some lean strip steak and broccoli but as I said, this will be a great addition to my Christmas dinner!  

For the full recipe, please see below:

Scalloped Potatoes:

4 medium potatoes 
2 tsp butter
2 tsp olive oil 
1/2 large onion, minced 
2 tbsp whole wheat flour 
1 1/2- 2 cups nonfat milk or unsweetened almond milk
3/4 cup cheddar cheese 
A tsp each of fresh thyme and parsley

Using a sharp knife or a mandolin, slice potatoes into thin slices.  Place them in a large bowl and cover with cold water.  Allow to soak for 15-20 minutes.  Drain and place between two kitchen towels to dry.  

In the meantime, bring your olive oil and butter to medium heat in a small saucepan.  Add minced onions and saute gently until softened.  Add whole wheat flour and stir constantly, until mixture is thickened and fully incorporated (about 5 minutes). Slowly whisk in 1 1/2 cups of milk, and reduce the heat. Allow to simmer gently until the sauce is thickened.  (If it thickens too much, thin out with the remaining milk.)  Add fresh herbs and remove from heat. 

Spray your casserole pan with coconut oil (or olive oil spray) and layer 1/3 of your potatoes.  Top with 1/3 of the cream sauce, then 1/4 cup of cheddar.  Then add the next 1/3 potatoes in the next layer, then the cream sauce, then the cheese.  Keep doing this until your potatoes are gone and your casserole dish is full.  Pour remaining cream sauce on top, and the rest of your cheese. 

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  

Enjoy!

Tip- Try adding some cooked, crumbled bacon in the layers! Mmmm! 

21 Day Fixers- I filled my yellow container and counted 1.5 yellow, 1/2 blue, 1 tsp.  There's a lot going on with the flour, milk, butter and olive oil- this is definitely not a dish you want to over do it with.  Well, you'll want to but you shouldn't. :) 


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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Easy Rice Cooker Thai Quinoa




I had no idea you could actually COOK in a rice cooker!  Hey now! 


This recipe is being thrown together on the fly, so I apologize in advance for my lack of actual "blog" and also the quality of the pictures. I have an eye for food, no eye for photography! 

What you'll need:

1 can light coconut milk 
1 tsp coconut oil 
4 scallions, chopped 
2 tsp grated ginger 
2 chopped garlic cloves 
1 cup quinoa 
2 tsp low sodium soy sauce 
Low or no sodium chicken broth

The equipment you'll need: 

A rice cooker 


First, you want to plug in the rice cooker and set it to "Cook" not "Warm".  To do this, you may need to keep the lid on it. Once it's warmed up, add your coconut oil and ginger, garlic and scallions. Stir to combine, then put the lid back on.  (Make sure it's on "Cook".  Again.) 



Once the veggies have softened, add your quinoa, soy sauce, 1 cup chicken stock, and 1 cup light coconut milk.  Put the cover back on the rice cooker and leave it be! 



That's it!  When the button pops, fluff it up with a fork and serve! 




I served it here with Spicy Thai Marinated Pork Tenderloin and some mixed veggies.   A quick run down on the pork, I used this marinade from my Spicy Peanut Thai Tuna.  I allowed the tenderloin to marinate for half the day.  Then I heated up an oven safe pan to about medium heat, with a bit of olive oil and seared on each side.  Then I poured the rest of the marinade into the pan over the pork, and popped in the oven at 375 for about 30 minutes. Allow to rest outside the oven for 5 minutes before slicing.  (You can stir the sauce and spoon over the pork every 10 mins or so.)  I counted one red of the pork as 1 red, 2 tsp for the sauce. 

It was DIVINE!  For the quick and easy quinoa recipe, please see below!


Easy Rice Cooker Thai Quinoa 

4 scallions, chopped
2 tsp grated ginger 
2 garlic cloves, chopped 
1 tsp coconut oil 
1 cup quinoa 
1 cup light coconut milk 
1 cup chicken broth 
2 tsp low sodium soy sauce 

Heat your rice cooker to Cook, add your coconut oil. Once it's melted, add your ginger, garlic, and scallions.  When the veggies are softened, add your quinoa, coconut milk, chicken broth and soy sauce.  Cover and allow to cook until your rice cooker indicates that it's finished. 

Enjoy! 

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Tips: You're only limited by your imagination here!  Try it with some garlic and onion, add a little balsamic to your water or chicken broth.  Use chopped carrots, celery, and onion and use chicken broth.  Add some shredded chicken and you've got Chicken Soup Quinoa! 

(21 Day Fixers- My serving was 1.5 yellow, 1/2 blue) 



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Spaghetti Squash Bolognese Boats


Bolognese.  It's really just a meat sauce, but it sounds fancier and since that's what my pesky English husband calls it, that's what we're going with.  

It's an easy, satisfying, meaty and carb-free dinner.  From the way my husband and son were shoveling it in...I think it's a hit!  (Ok, a fair bit of shoveling was done on my part too. 

(This recipe serves two, and good news! You'll have lots of sauce left over when you're done!) 

What you'll need: 

1 spaghetti squash, cut in half and seeds removed 
Coconut oil or olive oil spray 
2-3 tsp olive oil 
4 cloves garlic
1 small onion
1 large carrot
1 large celery stalk
2 tomatoes
1 large can of tomato puree, or crushed tomatoes
1 lb. ground turkey 
Garlic powder, onion powder, italian seasoning and fresh parsley and/or basil

Equipment you'll need:

A baking sheet lined with foil 
1 large skillet 

To start, preheat your oven to 400, cut the squash in half and scoop the seeds.  Place on your baking sheet face up, sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and pepper.  Spray with coconut oil/olive oil cooking spray (or brush with olive oil) and bake at 400 for about 45 minutes. 



While the squash is cooking, peel and finely dice your carrots, celery, onions,tomatoes and garlic.  Heat your skillet to medium and add the oil.  Saute your veggies just until softened. 


Once your veggies are softened, add your ground turkey and a tsp each of garlic and onion powder, 1 tablespoon of italian seasoning.  Break up the meat with your spatula and combine all ingredients.  Once the meat is cooked through, add your tomato sauce.  (Drain liquid from the pan before you add the tomato puree.) 



Cover partially, and allow to simmer on low.  When the squash is ready, remove it from the oven and turn the oven to broil.  Starting from the outside in, pull the spaghetti squash strands with your fork to fluff up. Add your herbs to the sauce now. 


Pour about a cup of your Bolognese into the center of the squash.  Add your shredded mozzarella and place back in the oven until the cheese is bubbly and browned. 



Remove from the oven and serve your blurry spaghetti squash!  I served with some roasted asparagus, but a nice salad or some crusty bread would be wonderful. 

For the full recipe, look below and enjoy!!



Spaghetti Squash Bolognese Boats
(serves 2)

1 spaghetti squash, cut in half and seeds removed 
Coconut oil or olive oil spray 
2-3 tsp olive oil 
4 cloves garlic
1 small onion
1 large carrot
1 large celery stalk
2 tomatoes
1 large can of tomato puree, or crushed tomatoes
1 lb. ground turkey 
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp Italian seasoning 
A few tbsp fresh parsley and/or basil
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (1 blue container per side)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Place your spaghetti squash cut side up on a baking sheet.  Spray with coconut oil spray or brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 45 minutes. 

While the squash is cooking, peel and dice the vegetables.  Heat a large skillet to medium heat and add olive oil, then vegetables.  Saute for a few minutes, until softened.  Add ground turkey, garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasoning.  Combine and break up with a spatula until the turkey is cooked through. 

Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine.  Cover partially and allow to simmer. 

When the squash is done, remove from the oven and turn to broil. Fluff the strands with a fork working from the outside in.  Pour about a cup (or one purple container full) into the spaghetti squash and top with mozzarella cheese. Place back into the oven for a few minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and browned.  

Enjoy! 

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Tip: Use ground beef or chicken in place of the ground turkey. If you're a vegetarian you could try lentils! 

(21 Day Fixers- 1 squash boat is 1 green, 1 blue, 1/2 purple, 1 red.  If you have a larger squash, count 1.5 green). 

For a more detailed explanation- 

The break, BREAK down is this:  

1 large can of crushed tomato-2 purples. 
1 lb of ground turkey, 4 red. 
1 spaghetti squash (small)- 2 green. 
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese- 2 blue. 
 The rest of the chopped veggies (the carrots, onion, celery and tomato) equaled about 1-1.5 greens before cooking.  After cooking, about 3/4 green for the WHOLE pot of sauce, which I'm not counting (as it would come out to maybe 1/8 green per serving) 

The sauce yielded about 4 servings.  One of those servings went into each half squash.  The rest went into my fridge.





Monday, December 15, 2014

Vegetable Risotto


I'm actually a tiny bit hesitant to call this "risotto".  I think the hipster foodie squad might burn me at the stake.  Generally, a risotto calls for arborio rice, broth and white wine cooked with shallots and garlic.  The basic concept is to toast the rice in some olive oil, then add 1/2 cup of hot chicken broth and a splash of white wine at a time and letting it absorb before adding any more.  This increases the starches in the rice and makes it creamy and gooey and yum.

I used brown rice, and onions instead of garlic...and no wine, but get over yourselves, it's the same concept.

What you need:

1.5 cups long grain brown rice (not instant).
3-4 cups of Chicken Stock or vegetable stock
2 carrots
1 yellow squash
1 bunch of kale
1/2 lb asparagus
1/2 a yellow onion, sliced thin
4 small garlic cloves, chopped
A few tsp of olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and Pepper to taste



Equipment you'll need:

1 large pot
1 medium pot
1 ladle

Time you'll need:  An hour.  Sorry, brown rice doesn't cook the same way white rice does.

(You can use anything you want. Broccoli, tomatoes, broccoli rabe, zucchini, whatever you like.  I used what I had.)

Start by bringing the broth just to a boil, then turn off the heat.  While this is going on, chop up your garlic and slice your onions.  Heat your large pot to medium heat and add your olive oil, then your garlic and onions.  Saute until fragrant and then add the rice.  Toast the rice until lightly browned, stirring regularly.  (DO NOT LET IT BURN.  If it burns, you have to start over).



Once your rice is nice and toasty, add a ladle full (or one half cup) of warm broth to your rice.  Stir it up and leave it be.  The heat should be low-medium for this process.  Once all of that liquid has been absorbed, add another ladle full to the pot and repeat.


While this is going on, prepare your other vegetables.  I chop everything into bite sized pieces and discard the ends and peels.  I also remove the ribs (the hard part in the middle) of the kale and tear the leaves into bite sized pieces.



Once half of your broth is gone and the rice is halfway done (still some chew to it) add your veggies.  Stir up completely and cover.  Repeat the process of adding broth a little at a time, but allow the veggies to cook with the rice and broth. By the time the rice is soft, you'll see all the ingredients are cooked together and the rice has become creamy and delicious.  (You can add a tbsp of milk or cream if you don't have a consistency you like).


Once everything is done, add your Parmesan and stir up.  Serve immediately, I served with Balsamic Marinated Chicken and a big green salad.

For the regular recipe, please see below!


Vegetable Risotto

1.5 cups long grain brown rice (not instant).
3-4 cups of Chicken Stock or vegetable stock 
2 carrots 
1 yellow squash
1 bunch of kale
1/2 lb asparagus 
1/2 a yellow onion, sliced thin 
4 small garlic cloves, chopped 
A few tsp of olive oil 
1/4-1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan 
Salt and Pepper to taste  

In one pot heat your broth to a simmer then turn the heat off.  On another burner, heat a pot to medium heat.  Add olive oil and garlic and onions.  Saute until soft.  Add brown rice to the pot, and toast until lightly browned.  Add 1/2 cup to the rice and lower the heat to low-medium.  Once the rice has absorbed the broth, add another half cup.  Once you're about halfway through your broth, add your vegetables to the pot and cover. 

After about 5 minutes, remove the lid and keep adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time until the rice and vegetables are soft and cooked through and the rice is creamy.  You can add a little milk or cream to make it thicker.  Remove from the heat and stir in Parmesan. 

Serve immediately. 


(Tip- Splash a little bit of white wine every time you add your broth for some extra flavor.  Also, try a tsp of butter along with the olive oil before you toast your rice.)


(21 Day Fixers- Measure 1 green container as 1 green, 1 yellow, 1 tsp. I only used 1 blue container of Parmesan for the whole thing so I'm not counting it). 

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

No Sodium Chicken Stock


Making your own chicken stock is easier then you think.

It doesn't take 5 minutes, but it's really not that big of a deal.  And the best part is, NO WASTE!  You're using every single part of the chicken that you purchased with your hard earned money.  To me, that's a pretty big deal and a pretty big positive.  Plus, the flavor of homemade chicken stock is second to none.  When you compare the salt-laden water they give you in a carton for $4.00 a pop...you'll never go back.

What you'll need:

1. The carcass of a chicken you've roasted recently, along with the gizzards. (You can use as many as you want, it just depends on how big your stock pot is! )
2. An array of fresh vegetables.  For one carcass I use 2 large carrots, 2 large celery stalks, 1 onion, a few garlic cloves. No need to peel or chop, just remove the ends and the peel of the onion.  I usually cut in half as well.
3. An array of fresh herbs.  Thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, and a bay leaf. (These are optional but I think they make a beautiful difference).
4. A few tablespoons of whole black peppercorns
5. Water

The equipment you'll need:

1. A large pot with a lid
2. A fine mesh sieve or strainer
3. A few bowls
4. An ice cube tray and a large Ziploc bag as well as a mason jar or tupperware container with a tight fitting lid

To start::

Throw everything you have into your stock pot.  The chicken, veggies, herbs and spices. Fill to cover with water.

Once everything is in the pot, including the water, put a lid on it.  Put the heat to low-medium just enough to keep it on an easy simmer.  You can stir occasionally if you'd like but otherwise you can just forget about it.


After 3-4 hours, turn the heat off.  Allow the stock to cool a bit.


To prepare for the next step, place your fine mesh sieve in a large bowl.  Place a smaller bowl on the side to put the remains in so you don't run out of space in your sieve.


Start pouring the stock into the sieve in batches until there is no more liquid left.


Once this process is complete, dispose of the remains (We pick through THOROUGHLY and remove the bones.  Then we run through a food processor and BAM!  Dog food!) Place the lid on your stock bowl (or saran wrap) and place in the refrigerator until completely cooled, and the fat has separated from the liquid.



Skim off ALL of the congealed fat off the top with a spoon and throw away.  Once you've gotten most of, run through your strainer one last time to remove any excess fat particles.

VOILA!! Your finished product!  It's tasty and delicious and SO much better for you then your standards broths and stocks.  It doesn't last long in the fridge (maybe a week) so I freeze in ice cube trays (or Baby Bullet trays) and store in a Ziploc bag in the freezer and use as needed.



You can use this in rice, soups, stew, pasta dishes, marinara sauce, anything.  It really gives it an amazing background flavor.  For the recipe without any annoying photo comments please look below.

Enjoy!!

(Tip- Use a whole chicken, remove the meat and make yourself a yummy soup! Another tip is to freeze your chicken carcasses until you have a bunch, and make a LARGE batch of stock at a time).

(21 Day Fixers- Free!!!!)

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No Sodium Chicken Stock 

1 chicken carcass (or however many you have) 
2 carrots, ends removed and cut in half
2 celery stalks, cut in half 
1 large onion, ends removed, peels removed and cut in half 
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 bunch of thyme, parsley, and sage. 
1 bay leaf 
2 tbsp whole pepper corns 
Water to cover 

Add all of your ingredients to a large stock pot.  Cover with water and bring to a simmer for 3-4 hours.  Allow the stock to cool and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl.  Place a lid on your bowl or saran wrap, and place in the refrigerator for a few hours-overnight. 

Once the fat has separated from the liquid, skim off with a spoon and discard.  Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve one more time.  

Store in an airtight jar or container for 1 week in the refrigerator.  You can freeze in ice cube trays and store in your freezer as well. 



Friday, December 5, 2014

Spicy Baked Chicken Tenders



I heard you were looking for a healthy fried chicken...

Here is the answer!  You can also use this as a replacement for hot wings!  (The recipe is very easily adapted without the extra heat, but it's SO good with it). 

Instead of frying in oil and butter, it just takes a minuscule amount of cooking spray or coconut oil spray.  It's honesty a lot easier, as well.  It takes away all the frying and draining and oil removal process. 

I used whole grain bread crumbs for this particular recipe but you could easily replace those with your own homemade bread crumbs, or gluten free variety. Whatever you have on hand.  I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!  For a super kid friendly dinner, pair up with this amazing Cauliflower Mac N Cheese.  Great way to get vegetables into your kids bellies! 

I hope you enjoy! 

Spicy Baked Chicken Tenders 

2 large chicken breasts cut into tenders (about 3 oz each)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour 
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons hot sauce (I used Sriracha)
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375. Spray cooking spray on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or tin foil.

Place flour, garlic powder, onion powder and chili powder on a plate and mix well
Add egg whites and sriracha to another plate and mix well
Pour bread crumbs into a third plate
Dip the chicken in the flour, shake excess off. DIp in egg white/hot sauce mixture then roll into bread crumbs. Place on cookie sheet. When all the tenders are on the baking sheet, spray lightly with cooking spray and place in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. Turn the broiler on in on your oven for 1-2 minutes to get the tops browned before removing. 

Tips- Use some Greek Yogurt to make some Ranch Dipping Sauce without all the fat and calories! 

(21 Day Fixers- I counted 3 tenders as 1 red, 1 yellow)
 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole

...with vegetables!!

HAHAHA, that title is a little misleading, isn't it? Don't be mad, just eat your veggies and simmer down.

Anyway, I've been really dying to make some comfort food.  I guess I need comfort while sitting outside in the sun looking at pictures of the ice, snow and cold up north.  I guess the theme of the day is "Obnoxious".

So here it is-  again, as with most of my recipes, it's a little bit more involved then opening a can of cream of chicken soup but I promise you, it'll be worth it.  And I promise to give you a few tips at the end for speeding things up and making the recipe a little easier!

Let's get to it, I hope you enjoy!



Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole
Serves 4-6

2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded or cubed.  (2 cups rotisserie chicken)
4 cups broccoli (I used 1 cup broccoli, 3 cups zucchini...I ran out of broccoli).
2 cups cooked brown rice (or 1 cup instant rice)

1.5 cups nonfat milk, or original unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 375. In a large bowl, combine rice, chicken and vegetables. Make sure the veggies are cut to bite size pieces.

Heat a medium saucepan to medium heat.  Melt the butter and olive oil together, then add the flour.  Keep mixing with a wooden spoon until the flour is cooked and it smells nutty.  Do not walk away!  SLOWWWWLLLY whisk the roux (flour mixture) and add the milk while whisking.  KEEP WHISKING DAMN YOU.   Keep whisking until the milk and roux are totally combined and the mixture starts to bubble and thicken.  Stir for about 3-5 minutes after all the whisking until everything reduces down and starts to look like a creamy sauce.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the shredded cheese.  When the cheese is fully combined, pour over the chicken, rice and veggie mixture.
Stir well to combine.  Transfer to an oven safe casserole dish and sprinkle some whole wheat bread crumbs on top.  Bake for 45 minutes.

Enjoy!!

Tips-To make this a little bit more user friendly (but certainly less tasty) just stir all the ingredients together, leaving out the flour and butter.  Stir well and add to the baking dish, bake for an hour.

(21 Day Fixers- I measured 1.5 green containers as one portion, which came out to roughly 1 green, 1.5 yellow, 1/2 red, 1 blue, 1.5 tsp)

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

One Stop Shopping-Healthy Thanksgiving!


So, I'm doing all the work for you! (You're welcome).

This year is my first real Thanksgiving alone with my little family!  It's really important to make it a good one, but I also want to try to make it with the healthiest options I possibly can.  Since I've been doing a little bit of research on my own, I wanted to share it with you as well.  Hopefully, we can do this year right, and avoid that Holiday Weight Gain!

Don't get me wrong, I fully encourage taking the day to enjoy yourself and indulge.  But, my goal with this blog is to provide recipes for healthy AND indulgent options for this Holiday Season!  Some of them will be my own recipes, some will come from other sites and sources.  Either way, I hope you enjoy them!






So- let's start with the most important part. 

Turkey. 

Traditionally, I like to slather my turkey in an herb butter made when the butter is soft, mixed with sage, thyme, rosemary and parsley.  Ridiculously good, but ridiculous amount of butter.  

This Crock Pot Turkey Breast with Gravy recipe from Skinnytaste covers all bases.  First of all, it's made in the damn crock pot so your oven is FREE!!  One of the most annoying thing about Thanksgiving is the lack of an oven, because that turkey bird takes up all the space!

If you do decide to go a traditional route, this Herbed Pan Gravy is a really nice and low calorie way to get that gooey, delicious gravy in there! 

Now, the next most important part...

STUFFING.

It is, just NO friggin' secret how much I love things stuffed.  I just LOVE IT. Except on Thanksgiving, heehee.  This article by Eating Well provides tons of healthier and different types of Stuffing!  I heard someone on a cooking show say that Stuffing isn't just region specific, it's Mother specific.  I prefer a traditional stuffing (whole grain or sprouted grain bread in place of the white) but just sauteeing onions and celery and mixing up with the bread and some chicken broth is where it's at for me.  

Like I said, I'm not a fan of the actual STUFFING of the bird, my mom always made Stuffin' Muffins!  Make your stuffing in whatever way you see fit, spray a muffin tin and fill it up.  Bake until crispy on the outside.  Convenient, and yummy!

Now, to the mostly most important part...

MASHED POTATOES. 

Let's be honest here- there's no way to make a REALLY low fat/low calorie mashed potato option.  They're best when simply done, no denying that.  But, this article from Cooking Light is amazing for some new ideas.  I personally really enjoy this Skinny Garlic Mash recipe.  If you're really looking to go outside the box, please check out my own Parsnip Mash recipe.  Creamy and smooth, and a great alternative to potatoes! 

This might, REALLY be the most important part...

SWEET POTATOES.

Brown sugar.  Marshmallows.  BUTTTTTEEEERRRRR.  Ugh, seriously, is there anything better then these?  Probably not, but they are as ridiculously fattening as they are ridiculously scrumptious.   One amazing alternative (if I do say so myself) is my Whipped Maple Butternut Squash.  You get the sweetness and the creaminess that you're looking for without all the fat and sugar.  (I won't tell if you throw a few marshmallows over it).  These are also, a lot less work! Alternatively, you can try this Light Sweet Potato Casserole from Taste of Home if you're not so into Butternuts! (Which I wouldn't understand at all.) 

Onto maybe, arguably, the least important part.  Which we all pretend is the most important but we're all filthy liars. 

VEGETABLES 

I truly do love my veggies.  I actually do.  But when they're on a plate next to gravified turkey and creamy potatoes and crunchy biscuits...what was I talking about?
Try one of my own personal recipes, these Brussels Sprouts with Honey and Bacon.  They're easy, and good enough to actually make people want to eat them!  Trust me on this. I also really enjoy green beans at Thanksgiving- especially that Green Bean Casserole from Eating Well.  This is obviously the easiest category to find healthy alternatives for!  Like this Honey Glazed Carrot recipe from Damn Delicious.  I'm a little obsessed with it.  Really though, you could just stay simple.  Steam some broccoli or sautee some green beans with some onions and garlic and that'll be just as good.  (Although you probably won't eat as much of it). 

Two more tiny categories and we're almost to the REALLY important stuff. 

BISCUITS AND CRANBERRY SAUCE OR COMPOTE. 

I'm combining these two gems because, let's be honest, they're usually an afterthought.  It's the easiest thing to get a can of cranberry sauce and a pop-open tin of biscuits.  Here are a few other options if you're willing to get a little crazy! Try these Rosemary Garlic Parmesan Biscuits from Skinnytaste or Fluffy Whole Wheat Biscuits from Food Network.  

As for the cranberry sauce, this is pretty simple.  If you don't get the canned stuff (and really, you should try this) this may be the easiest part of your whole dinner. This Sugarless Cranberry Sauce from Wellness Mama contains only fruit to sweeten it.  Or you can try this article by Cooking Light for even more options. 

Aaaaannnd we have arrived. 

DESSERTS. 

Oh, sweet baby Jesus what are we going to do?  Can we get through this day without pumpkin and apple pies? Probably not, but we're going to try!  Let's start with this Crustless Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie.  Sounds pretty great to me!  We also have these Skinny Pumpkin Butterscotch Bars or Skinny Cranberry Bliss Bars.   You could also try this awesome Apple Walnut Crisp from Cooking Light. 





Here's our bottom line, folks.  Have fun with your families and eat delicious food, just try to be smart about it!  I hope you found some good ideas, let me know how it goes!! LET'S DO THIS PEOPLE!!!

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Tomato Sauces


Sauce it up!

I'm going to share the two different tomato sauces that I make  They're not as easy as opening a jar, but the problem with THAT sauce is you have no idea what you're getting.  No idea if they added sugar, chemicals, etc.

I love to make big batches of these and freeze in Ziploc bags.  They taste just as good when they're thawed out and they're so much better for you then anything you'll find in a jar!

So here they are- my favorite sauces!

Sauce #1:

2 large cans PURE crushed tomatoes (the ingredients should say: Tomatoes)
5 cloves garlic
1 medium onion, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons dried italian herbs (oregano, basil, parsley, rosemary)
1/4 cup chicken broth or stock (low or no sodium added)
Fresh basil and/or parsley (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot to medium heat.  When the oil is warm, add garlic and onion.  Saute until fragrant and soft (DO NOT ALLOW TO BROWN! If they start to brown, remove from the heat).  Add the herbs and stir to combine.  Next, add the chicken broth and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add both cans of crushed tomatoes.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Add fresh chopped herbs at the end.

Sauce #2:

8-10 tomatoes, cut into quarters, seeds removed
4 garlic cloves
1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
1 tablespoon dried italian herbs
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
A few tsp of olive oil
Fresh basil and/or parsley (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400.  Toss all ingredients together in a baking dish, and mix well until everything is coated in olive oil.

Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  In small batches, add to your blender and blend until smooth.  You may want to re-heat in a saucepan to bring up to a warmer temperature.

I hope you enjoy these! Either would be perfect served with Vegetable Pasta with Mini Turkey Meatballs !

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Vegetable Pasta with Mini Turkey Meatballs


I believe that sometimes food should take some work.

Sometimes, it should take a little bit of work and a lot of love.

Do you think I'm weird now?  Oh, really?  Bite me.

The point is, that this dish is a bit involved.  I've held off on posting it (even though it's one of my ABSOLUTE favorites) because I feel that in this day and age, most people want something quick and easy.  This isn't quick and it takes a bit of chopping but I promise it is worth it in the end!

This recipe is perfect for big families.  It only uses half the box of penne, 1 lb of ground turkey and some veggies but it stretches out into a very large finished product.  I really hope you'll try it, and enjoy!

Vegetable Pasta with Mini Turkey Meatballs 

Meatballs-
1 lb. ground turkey
1/4 cup (1 blue) parmesan cheese
1/8 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 egg white
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons grated onion or 1 tsp onion powder
2 teaspoons minced garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder
Handful of chopped parsley

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Preheat oven to 375, measuring with a tablespoon drop onto a sprayed, foil or parchment lined cookie sheet. (They should be small) Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Pasta and Veggies-
1/2 box whole grain penne

4 cups (4 green containers) of your favorite veggies. I used sliced carrots, zucchini, kale, spinach and broccoli. You can always use more veggies!)
1 sliced onion
1 cup (1.5 red containers) of ricotta cheese
2 cups (2 purple containers) of your favorite tomato sauce-- I use my own personal recipes.

Prepare pasta, drain and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Sautee onion and veggies. Add a bit of water and cover, allowing to steam through. Add vegetable mixture to pasta with ricotta and tomato sauce. Mix in meatballs and stir all ingredients together. Serve immediately with 1 blue container of parmesan.

2 yellow
2 green
2 red
1 tsp

1 blue 

Enjoy!  

Tip: You can replace the turkey in the recipe with ground beef, or chicken.  They would be just as good!

(21 Day Fixers- You may have to eyeball this, but I counted 2 green containers full as 2 yellow, 1 green, 1 red, 1 tsp and 1/2 blue)

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Honey Lemon Chicken


I was really nervous this chicken would taste like a cough drop.

It did, a little bit, but a DELICOUS and MEATY cough drop! (I'm totally kidding, it didn't taste like a cough drop).

Anyway, I just wanted something clean, light and fresh for dinner.  I was having a rough day and I just wanted to keep it simple and this recipe was born!

I hope you like it!

Honey Lemon Chicken with Roasted Thyme Potatoes
(serves 2)

2 chicken breasts
1 lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon honey

2 large russet potatoes, cubed and soaked in cold water for 10 minutes, then allowed to dry
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
Sea salt and pepper to taste

To start, combine lemon juice with garlic and honey.  Place in a ziploc or large bowl with chicken and allow to marinate for an hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a pan to medium high heat with 1 tsp olive oil.  Place the chicken breast and allow to brown on each side.  Remove from the heat and pour the rest of the marinade over the chicken and transfer the pan to the oven.  (If you don't have an oven safe pan, transfer the chicken to a foil lined baking dish and pour the marinade on top then place in the oven)

Combine potatoes, olive oil, thyme and garlic powder and mix to coat.  Place potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or tin foil.  Roast in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.

The chicken and potatoes will be ready at the same time if you get them in the oven together!

Tip- This marinade is beautiful, fresh and clean and works perfectly with fish or pork!

(21 Day Fixers- For the chicken count 1 red (1.5 depending on the size).  For the potatoes, count one yellow and 1 tsp).

Enjoy!

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Almond Crusted Cod


Farro is the new Quinoa.

Mark my words on that.

But this post is about FISH!  I love finding new ways to cook fish (I'm getting pretty good at it, if I say so myself) and tonight was the first time I made this particular recipe.  I can tell I'll be making it pretty frequently though, it was amazingly delicious and easy.

Truthfully, I had a hangover today.  I just wasn't in the mood for heavy duty dinner but I wanted something yummy and fried and greeeeeezy.  I served this Almond Crusted deliciousness with this Lemony Farro. (I used less olive oil and didn't use the arugula). But you could easily serve this with plain quinoa, brown rice, whatever tickles your pickle.

 I discussed farro in my Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe.  You need to get yourself familiar with this grain.  It's so yummy, and every single person I've prepared it for became addicted immediately and always called me for the recipe so they could make it at home!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!

Almond Crusted Cod
serves 2

1/2 cup unsalted raw almonds
1/8 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
Two 6 oz pieces of cod
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Coconut oil cooking spray (or whatever you have)

Preheat your oven to 400.  Pour almonds into a food processor and pulse until they resemble bread crumbs.  Pour onto a plate and mix with actual bread crumbs.

 Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or tin foil.  Spray with coconut oil.  Brush fish with Dijon (or use your hands and get dirty) then coat with almond/bread crumb mixture. Place on cookie sheet, sprinkle some of the remaining almond mixture over the top.

Spray lightly with coconut spray and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy!

Tip- This trick would work with chicken, and would also work with any other kind of nut.  Pecans would be delicious.

(21 Day Fixers- For one piece of fish I counted 1 red, 1 blue)

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Meatloaf, Beatloaf.


Meatloaf, beatloaf.

I don't think there's much I can tell you about this particular dish that you don't already know.  It's an American staple and takes most of us back to our childhood.

I'm happy I've found a healthier way to make it without detracting from the flavor and nostalgic feeling of the meatloaf.  Take away the ketchup, add some herbs and spices and change the meat from beef to turkey or chicken.  And for the love of God, saute those veggies before you add them to the meat.  Jeez.

I hope you enjoy my take on your moms classic dinner!  And pair with this amazing Whipped Maple Butternut Squash and it's a revelation!


Herbed Chicken Meatloaf

1 lb ground chicken
1 tsp chopped parsley
1 tsp thyme
1 egg white or 2 tbsp greek yogurt
2 tbsp whole wheat bread crumbs
1 medium onion, minced
1 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp water

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a pan to medium heat and add the olive oil.  Add the onions to the pan and saute until soft (Add some of the water and steam if they start sticking to the pan).  Allow to cool.

In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, parsley, time, egg white or greek yogurt, bread crumbs and the onions.  Spray a baking dish with coconut oil spray (or whatever you have) and form the meat mixture into a loaf shape.  Top with a little bit more bread crumbs if you like.

Bake for 30 minutes. Slice and serve!

Enjoy!

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Cool Hwhip (Not a typo)

I am so in love with squash right now.  They replace every fattening and delicious starch you can think of!  Sweet potatoes, spaghetti, mashed potatoes...squash can fill any void and satisfy any craving.  That sounds dirty...now I like it even more.

Roast it, mash it, stuff it, fritter it, grate it, bake it, boil it, just cook it and eat it.

I knew I was making Herbed Chicken Meatloaf  tonight but I just wasn't in the market for heavy mashed potatoes tonight and with my husband working late and a 13 month old attached to my legs I just didn't have the time to peel and chop.

This recipe was PERFECTION.   The satisfaction of mashed potatoes with half the carbs and calories and twice the flavor.  Enjoy it!


Maple Whipped Butternut Squash

1 large butternut squash
Coconut oil spray
Sea salt and pepper
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or whatever you have on hand)
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tbsp pure maple syrup

Preheat your oven to 400. Cut the top and bottom off the squash and cut in half (be careful, they're bastards).  Scoop out the seeds and spray with coconut oil.  Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.  Place on a baking sheet CUT SIDE DOWN.  Bake for an hour.

Place the butter,half the almond milk, thyme and syrup in a large mixing bowl.  When the squash is done, remove from the oven and scoop the flesh from the skin immediately and place into the large bowl with the rest of the ingredients.  Whip with a hand mixer for 1 minute or until smooth.  Add more milk if needed.



Tip- Honey would be a great replacement for the syrup, just don't use as much.  Also, any homey herbs (sage, rosemary) would work.

(21 Day Fixers- Good news!! This counts as GREEN! (And a tsp for the butter)

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Something for the Sweet Tooth!

My tooth is more of a salty one.  I could eat Doritos, chips, pretzels, popcorn, all day.  And french fries.  Especially french fries.

When I do get a sugar craving I have a few recipes in my arsenal to avoid going to the store and grabbing a candy bar.  Besides my Healthy Pumpkin Cookies,  there's also this awesome Flourless Peanut Butter Cookie recipe!

But last night I was dying for a cannoli!  There are a ton of recipes going around for Greek Yogurt cookie dip but I find those too sour from the yogurt.  I started making it with Ricotta instead, and last night I came up with this little gem!  It was AMAZING.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Cannoli Dip with Cinnamon Chips
Serves 2

1 whole wheat pita cut into chips
Coconut oil spray
Cinnamon

2 tsp dark chocolate chips
2 tsp honey
3/4 cup (1 red) ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp cocoa powder

Heat the oven to 375.  Spray the pitas with coconut oil and then sprinkle cinnamon. Bake for 5-10 minutes or until crisp.  Keep an eye on them, you don't want them to burn!

While they're cooking, mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl until fully combined.

When the chips are cool, eat with the dip!  YUM!!

Tip- Add a little melted peanut butter in there for something extra!

(21 Day Fixers- I split this with my husband so it came out to 1 yellow, 1 yellow treat replacement, 1 red)

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Sunday, October 26, 2014


Don't Tussle with My Brussels.

I don't even know what that means.

I really think that most people don't like these little cabbage heads because they've never had them roasted.  I LOVE brussels sprouts roasted in the oven.  A little olive oil, sea salt and pepper and let it go to town for 45 minutes at 400.  But that takes toooooooo long!

I wanted to make them more quickly and this recipe was the result.  A little bacon for saltiness, some honey for sweetness...Heaven. I'm hoping if you're not a fan of Brussels, you will be after you try this.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Honey

2 slices of turkey bacon
1 tsp olive oil
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, stem removed and sliced in half
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup water
2 tsp raw honey

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Start by crisping up the bacon in a pan on medium heat with 1 tsp olive oil  (I cooked it fully, then chopped it up but you can do it the other way too.  Just as long as its crisp, and chopped).

Remove the bacon from the pan and add the other two tsp of olive oil.  Add the sprouts SLICED SIDE DOWN.  This gives them that beautiful caramelized, brown sear and believe me- you don't want to miss that.  Let them sit in the pan without touching them for 3-5 minutes or until brown.  Mix them all up in the pan and add the half cup of water and put a lid on the pan.  Allow to steam until the water has dissolved or until the sprouts are softened.  Take the lid off of the pan and if there is more water, let it reduce out.  When there is NO MORE WATER in the pan, add the honey and bacon and mix to combine.

And enjoy!

Tip- Obviously some good salty pork bacon would be awesome with this too.  Add some toasted pine nuts or walnuts as well for a little bit of a crunch!  And try with this awesome Balsamic Crock Pot Chicken !!

(21 Day Fixers- count 1 green container as 1 green and 1 tsp.  I'm not counting the turkey bacon, there wasn't enough to measure!)

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