Butternut Squash Noodles with Chicken Sausage & Kale

Every time I make something outside of the box, my husband gives me a snarl. Then, he tries it and 9 out of 10 times goes back for seconds and thirds. This was one of those. We literally ate the entire pot and my 1-year-old ate the chicken sausage like it was Apple Flavored Puffs (her favorite).

I wanted to venture away from zucchini with my Vegetti and when I saw butternut squash at our local produce stand, I knew I had to experiment! Thus, this new little dish was created and will be duplicated!

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Butternut Squash Noodles with Chicken Sausage & Kale

1 Tbsp coconut oil
1lb chicken sausage (could use pork or turkey)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 chopped sweet onion
8 oz. of baby kale
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup chicken broth
1 tsp of apple cider vinegar
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground fennel
2 dashes of nutmeg
2 tsp ground sage

Remove the sausage casings if using links – I just squish it out of the ends. Heat a large wide and deep pan over medium heat. Add the oil, then brown and crumble the sausage, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Add the chopped onion and cook until the onions soften and become translucent.

Add the kale, and stir until it is wilted. It will look like it won’t fit in the pan, but it will shrink!

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the chicken stock, apple cider vinegar, and spices. Stir and cook uncovered for 2-3 minutes to reduce a bit of the liquid.

Add the “noodles” to the pan and toss until will mixed.Enjoy!

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Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

In an attempt to lose the baby weight, I’m trying so very hard to stop eating the way I did when I was pregnant – pasta, bread, ice cream…basically anything I wanted. This was the demise that my doctor used as the reason Baby D was such a big baby weighing in a 9.2 lbs. Giving up the deliciousness that is pasta and Italian food makes me sad, but there are always equally delicious alternatives! Spaghetti squash is one of my favorite alternatives to pasta. I’ve yet to try using zucchini noodles, but that is coming soon. This week I took to creating a “lasagna” out of spaghetti squash. It was fantastic and will probably be added to the rotation in our household. Hank and I ate the whole pan – yikes! It’s just some veggies, meat and cheese, no worries! Ha!

If you aren’t sure how to cook a spaghetti squash, it’s easy! Follow these easy steps:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Place spaghetti squash in a microwave safe dish, pierce it a couple of times with a knife, then microwave for 5-8 minutes to soften.
3) Cut squash lengthwise and place face down in an oven safe dish with 1/4 cup water. Bake for 30 minutes.

I didn’t get a great picture of the inside of it, but here’s a shot of the dish before we devoured it.

Spaghetti Squash LasagnaIMG_1760[1]

1lb Italian turkey sausage, casings removed and crumbled
1 cup of cottage cheese
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 cooked spaghetti squash (about 2lbs)
1 cup of mozzarella cheese
Italian seasoning, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 and b

2.Brown the turkey sausage until no longer pink

3. While turkey is cooking, discard seeds from the squash and remove your “spaghetti” using a fork (similar to how you’d shred chicken with a fork)

4. Spoon a little bit of sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish then layer squash + sausage + a little more sauce + 1/3 cup mozzarella + cottage cheese + remaining sauce + remaining mozzarella. Sprinkle with a little Italian seasoning and garlic powder if you wish. And, as always, feel free to add more sauce and cheese if you like things a little more saucy and cheesy!

5. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly – probably about 15 mins.

Pollo Fundido

My husband loves Mexican food…who doesn’t?! His favorite meal at our favorite Mexican restaurant is Pollo Fundido. I decided to try to replicate this meal and make it a smidge healthier than what you can get in a restaurant. I like to serve this with quinoa or brown rice, Amy’s Refried Black Beans, and chips with salsa and guacamole. Disclaimer: The picture looks a little gross, but it’s hard to make cheese and beans look appetizing! Here ya go, ole’!pollofundido

 

Pollo Fundido

1 lb chicken boneless, skinless chicken breast (beat until thin)

1 onion, finely chopped

Mexican cheese dip (I use Newman’s Own white queso dip)

Chili Salt (Mix together in small bowl: 1 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp chili powder, 1/8 tsp cayenne, 1/8 tsp oregano)

Saute the onions and then set them aside in a bowl.
Rub the chicken with the chili salt on both sides so the seasoning really sets in.
Over medium heat, cook chicken in large skillet until cooked through (about 6 minutes per side).
After the chicken has been cooked on both sides, add the onion on top of the chicken.
Pour the cheese dip on the chicken and onions and cook until well melted and heated.
Serve over rice.

Roasted Veggies & Sausage

As my pregnancy is in it’s last month, I’m starting to think how hard it is to lose this pregnancy weight if I don’t start eating more whole foods. While I typically do a good job, I’ve had my fair share of pasta and bread during this pregnancy. I know I can’t keep this up after the pregnancy, so I’m trying to go more towards more protein and veggie based meals. This one is so simple and delicious.

Roasted Veggies & Sausagesweet potatoes

1lb of chicken or turkey sausage (andouille style) cut into 1-inch slices
2 sweet potatoes cut into 2-inch chunks
2 large carrots, chopped into small rounds
1 red pepper, cut into large chunks
1/2 red onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 tsp garlic powder (or 3 cloves)
2 tbs of olive oil
1 1/2 tbs of Italian seasoning
Pinch of Cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, add all sliced veggies and cut sausage links.
Next, add olive oil, seasonings, and toss to coat.
Grease a baking sheet with coconut oil and spread out the veggies and sausage.
Place uncovered in oven and bake 35-45 minutes turning once during cooking.
Bake a total of 35 to 45 minutes, turning veggies and sausage twice during cooking.

Chia Pudding

I love love love Chia Pudding! It is perfect to mix with your favorite fruit, nuts or just eat alone. Sometimes I even throw in a little cocoa powder to get my chocolate fix! It keeps nicely in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, so I typically enjoy it as my sweet treat at night all week.

Chia seeds are high in quality protein – significantly higher than other plant foods. Protein is the most weight loss friendly macronutrient and can drastically reduce cravings.

Chia seeds can seem expensive. However, you can buy them in the bulk section at your local health food store like Earth Fare ($13.99/lb) – 1 lb of chia seeds goes a long way! There are many places to buy chia seeds online, but I really encourage you to support your local health food store – vote with your dollars to keep them in business!

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Chia Pudding

1 (13.5oz) can full-fat coconut milk
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 tbsp. honey (or more to taste)
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients together. Keep in a sealed container in the fridge overnight.
*This will seem very liquidy, but it will thicken overnight.

Vegetarian Chili

If I were to make this chili for my husband he would say, “where’s the meat?” It is rare that I get to enjoy a meal made solely of vegetables until he isn’t around for dinner. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather have him here for dinner, but I do love when I get to make vegetarian dishes. I love it even more when I get to whip out my beautiful blue dutch oven!

This chili is so flavorful and filling! I will no doubt make it for my man piece…but I will add some ground beef just for him.

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Vegetarian Chili
(Serves 2 – make double for leftovers!)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp minced garlic
1 (14oz)can diced tomatoes
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 tbsp honey
1 tsp sea salt
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup fresh cilantro

In a dutch oven or a large pot, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden. Transfer squash to a bowl and set-aside.

chili 1

In the same dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp oil. Add carrots and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir in chili powder and garlic.

chili 3

Add tomatoes, jalapenos, broth, honey, and salt; heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Add beans and squash, stir and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes until squash is tender.

chili 5

Remove from heat, stir in cilantro, and enjoy! I topped mine with goat cheese and cayenne pepper – such amazing flavor!

Chicken & Quinoa Casserole

Quinoa and rice are almost always interchangeable. I prefer to use quinoa instead of rice because it is a source of complete protein and has been called a superfood. It contains essential amino acids like lysine and a good source of fiber, magnesium and iron. It has been said that it is easier to digest than other carbohydrates like rice. For that reason, I took what was a Chicken & Rice Casserole and made it into a Chicken & Quinoa Casserole…
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Chicken & Quinoa Casserole

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
2 large chicken breasts
1.5 cups milk (any kind)
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can rotel, drained
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon (or more) diced jalapeños
Salt

Preheat oven to 350F.
Cook and prepare chicken: Season chicken with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder. Heat coconut oil in a skillet, cook chicken for 4-5 minutes per side. Dice chicken into small cubes.
Combine rice, cheese, chicken, milk, onion, eggs, rotel, cilantro, butter, salt and jalapeños in prepared casserole dish, stir well.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes. Enjoy!

Chicken with Avocado and Mozzarella = Mozz-a-Cado Chicken!

Chicken can get so boring, but with a few random ingredients you can make some pretty delicious combos. I’m so excited to share this recipe with you all, so hopefully you can add some excitement to your chicken! The key to this recipe is to use fresh mozzarella – you know, the kind that comes in a ball and then you slice it. So, here ya go…

avocado balsalmic chicken1
Mozz-a-cado Chicken
1 cup balsamic vinegar
4 chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
1/2 cup pre-made bruschetta topping
1 avocado, sliced
4oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
baby spinach, sauteed

Directions:

In a small saucepan, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat to medium then simmer and reduce until vinegar is thick enough to coat a spoon, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool and thicken.
Preheat broiler. Brush chicken breasts with EVOO then season with salt and pepper on both sides. Brush a large skillet over medium-high heat with oil then add chicken breasts and cook for 4-5 minutes a side.
Transfer chicken to a baking sheet sprayed with olive oil or smeared with coconut oil then top with 2 tablespoons bruschetta mixture, 3-4 slices avocado, and 1 slice mozzarella each. Broil until cheese has melted.
While broiling, saute the spinach with some olive oil and garlic powder. Take out chicken and serve over spinach and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar reduction.

Bruschetta Chicken Skillet

As I’ve mentioned before, I love anything that can all be eaten out of one bowl. There are several reasons for this love of one bowl meals – 1) I don’t have to think about what sides to cook and 2) it makes sitting on the couch watching Netflix easier when you can just hold one bowl! In this case, I made somewhat of a pasta dish, but replaced the pasta with zucchini noodles to make sure we were getting some veggies. Make sure to make your noodles before you make the main dish so they’re ready when the good stuff is done.
 
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Bruschetta Chicken Skillet
1 (14.5oz) can Diced Tomatoes, drained
3/4 cup shredded Italian cheese (romano, asiago, or mozzarella)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped or 2 tsp dried
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 (8oz) can Tomato Sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp onion powder
Optional: 2 cups gluten-free crackers or croutons crushed
Olive oil

In a medium bowl, stir together drained tomatoes and sauce, cheese, oregano, onion powder, garlic and basil; set aside.
In a large skillet, add about 1 tbsp of olive oil, then add chicken.
Over medium-high heat, cover chicken with tomato mixture and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Top with crushed crackers and a garnish of cheese before serving over zucchini noodles (see recipe below).

To make Zucchini Noodles: Slice zucchini into thin strips then saute on low-medium heat in about 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper while you’re sauteing.

Freezer Fudge!

I love peanut butter. On a spoon, in a protein shake, in a cookie, in a brownie….you get the picture. This time, I added it to a bunch of other tastey ingredients to make what I call freezer fudge.

So what kind of peanut butter should you choose? You definitely don’t have to take my word for it, but I choose organic in an effort to avoid GMOs. Peanuts are one of the most genetically modified crops out there, so by choosing organic, you’re likely avoiding GMOs in your peanut butter. I usually pick up the kind that we grind fresh in our store, so that it is made from raw organic peanuts and nothing else – that’s right, no salt or sugar in there!

So, let’s talk fudge…

Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudgefudge2

1/2 cup organic peanut butter (or any nut butter)
1/4 cup honey, raw
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut oil
3 tbsp shredded coconut, unsweetened

In a small saucepan, melt coconut oil over low to medium heat. Add the peanut butter and stir until smooth, then add the chocolate chips and stir until smooth. Now, add the honey and vanilla extract and stir. Add coconut and stir.

In a small glass dish or bread pan, pour the fudge. Freeze for 1-2 hours until hardened. Once you’re ready to eat it, just cut it into square with a knife. Enjoy!