Made-Over Sloppy Joe’s

IMG_0939Sloppy Joe’s are somewhat of an American past time and often forgot about when trying to eat healthy. Forget about opening up a can of Manwich, adding it to some ground beef, and slopping it on a bun. Hank and I have been making this made-over Sloppy Joe recipe and topping a baked sweet potato with the mixture. We can’t get enough! What’s even better is that it is cheap and easy to make AND you probably have all of the ingredients on hand!

One thing that discredits the typical Sloppy Joe is the sugar content. While a lot of recipes add brown sugar to the recipe, I leave it out and use ketchup. Ketchup has enough sugar in it to make it sweet and I add a squirt of honey. I do try to use an organic or natural version of sugar – whatever you do, make sure it is free of high fructose corn syrup.

Made-Over Sloppy Joe’s

1lb lean ground beef
1/2 green pepper, diced thin
1/2 onion, diced thin
1 cup ketchup
1 tsp mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp cider vinegar
Honey
Salt & Pepper
2 large sweet potatoes

1) Preheat your oven to 450 and bake sweet potatoes for 45 minutes.
2) In a large skillet, brown the ground beef with onions and peppers seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Drain and add back to skillet.
3) Add the ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire, and cider vinegar and mix well until heated through.

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Slow Cooker Beef & Broccoli

I’m not sure what inspired me to cook beef & broccoli, but I’m sure glad I tried it! After throwing this in the slow cooker, our house started smelling like this dish immediately and I must say that it was hard not to continuously peak into the slow cooker in hopes that it was ready for a little taste. It was worth the wait!

We served this over quinoa, but you could serve it over brown rice or just eat it plain.

Slow Cooker Beef & Broccoli beef and broccoli

Ingredients:
1 lb. stew beef
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup soy sauce, tamari, or liquid aminos
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp cornstarch or tapioca starch
1 bag frozen broccoli florets (about 3-4 cups)

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the beef broth, soy sauce, dark brown sugar, sesame oil, and garlic.

Lay the beef in the slow cooker and pour the sauce over, tossing the strips to coat.

Turn the slow cooker on low and cook for about 6 hours. Be sure to check it at the 4 hour mark, as you don’t want the beef to get overdone.

When it is just about done, take 4 Tbsp of the sauce and whisk it in a small bowl with the cornstarch.  Slowly stir this into the slow cooker.  Add the broccoli and cook for about 30 more minutes.

Serve over quinoa or rice and enjoy!

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.

Sweet Garlic Baked Chicken Wings

I made these for the Super Bowl and I’m just now getting around to post em – par the course for me! These are such a great alternative to the usual chicken wings you can order at the bar. These are baked, not fried, and have a deliciously sweet homemade sauce. So, next time you’re having friends over to watch the big game, whip up some of these bad boys and you’ll be sure to impress.

Sweet Garlic Baked Chicken Wings

3 lbs chicken wings (antibiotic & hormone free)
1/3 cup honey
Juice from 1/4 lemon
¼ cup water
2 tablespoon tamari (soy sauce)
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoon garlic powder
¾ teaspoon ground ginger

In a sauce pan, heat oney, lemon juice, water, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and ginger in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Turn heat down to low once it starts to simmer and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. Pour marinade over chicken wings (I like to do this in a large ziplock bag but you could do this in a bowl or baking dish too). Let marinade in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (the more the better).
3. Barbecue chicken wings until cooked, turning once (something like 20 minutes total, depending on how hot your barbecue is). Alternatively, place in a greased baking dish (or line with foil) and bake at 400F for 1 hour, turning once. Enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie

The arctic chill is moving in here in Charlotte and chicken pot pie seemed to be the perfect comfort food to warm us up! I have never made scratch out chicken pot pie, so this was an adventure to be had in my tiny kitchen. I have to preface this recipe article by saying that you could totally make this a vegetarian (not vegan) dish by using potatoes in place of chicken…and I believe it would be just as delicious!

A while back I had picked up a can of Dancing Deer Baking Company‘s Pie Crust Mix – it was on the discount rack at work, so I had to snag it and all along I had the intention of using it to make chicken pot pie.When I turned the can of pie crust mix over to read the directions, I saw that I needed 2 sticks of butter….YOWZA! I decided to use 1 stick and 2 heaping tablespoons of coconut oil. It turned out beautifully delicious! You can definitely use a pre-made pie crust and it would cut the prep time in half! So, let’s begin.

chicken pot pie1

Chicken Pot Pie

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts – cubedchicken pot pie1 cup diced carrots
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 (9 inch unbaked pie crusts)

Start by slicing and dicing your veggies. Then, cube your chicken.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add enough water to cover the chicken and veggies and boil for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat, drain and set aside. In the same saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder and celery seed. SLOWLY stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust and seal edges with your fingers. Brush with an egg wash for a flaky crush.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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!

chiapudding

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.

Throw Your Chains Away and Be Well!

As I was going through my computer, I found this that I wrote in 2012. Please take a few minutes and read it. It speaks so true to so many women.

Throw Your Chains Away

No carbs. No sugar. Counting calories. Counting points. P90X. Sweatin’ to the Oldies (ha!). Supplements. Slim Fast. At some point in your life, I’m sure you’ve tried something to try to drop a few pounds – a diet, the newest workout fad, the latest get-fit-quick trend. I’ve done it. Keep reading.
When I really think back, my weight issues began at an early age. I remember back to elementary school and I was the one who would only wear one-piece bathing suits at the pool while my friends walked around fearlessly in their cute, two-piece swimsuits. I longed for the day that I could go try one on and feel good in it. I was always a normal, healthy weight and never considered medically “overweight,” but in my mind I was constantly telling myself that I was.

Then middle school and all the things that come along with puberty. Everything got bigger…and so did my clothes. Even though I was active in multiple sports, I couldn’t take the weight off. My mom would try diets and I would follow her lead. I would do 100 crunches in my bedroom just hoping I would be ready for the two-piece swimsuit by summer. Going to sports physicals with my friends was mortifying when I was step on the scale and my number was higher than my best friends number. It wasn’t that I was overweight or obese, but I was bigger than most of my girlfriends. I was bound and chained down to comparison.
High school rolled around and I was still trying to lose weight. I thought I had to cut out a certain food group or run until I puked (I hated running), basically I just thought I had to follow a certain plan to drop the pounds. When I wasn’t dropping pounds I would get frustrated, I even tried using not-so-safe supplements and was on the path to a dangerous eating disorder. My self-esteem was at the bottom of the barrel. Then, one day, it clicked. I started running with a friend, enjoying the sport I was involved in, packing healthy lunches, and just eating better in general. I felt better, I looked better, and I was healthy inside and out. I was free. I was free from the bondage of feeling bound to a diet or an exercise program I didn’t enjoy. I was free from the number on the scale. My chains were starting to fall off.
In college, I took up running and strength training and actually enjoyed it, so I decided to train for a half-marathon. Who would’ve thought that girl whose only goal all through grade school was to fit into a two-piece bathing suit would be able to take control of her life and run a half-marathon? Well, I did it! And I cried at the finish line because in that moment I felt all of those years of low self-esteem and hating myself fall from my shoulders. I was in control and I was a strong, healthy woman who could conquer anything.
I’ve told you my story because I don’t want you to be in bondage to comparison, a strict diet, an exercise program you hate, or to dangerous supplements. Empower yourself by learning ways to eat right and do it. Find an exercise that you enjoy and do it. Don’t compare yourself to others because you are YOU, unique and wonderfully made. Love and respect yourself and your body enough to live healthy. Whatever is holding you back or keeping you from really living…throw those chains away. Freedom is wellness.

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.

chili 4

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!