Beef Enchilada Bowls

enchiladaLean ground beef, brown rice, black beans and vegetables simmered in a savory broth of enchilada sauce and spices make a hearty, yet nutritious all-in-one dinner.

We’re eating healthified enchiladas with a spoon today and it may become your new favorite way of eating this Mexican classic. I’ll also let you in on the BEST part of this recipe – it’s all made in ONE pot. Less dishes = less clean-up time = more Bravo watching from my couch = happy food blogger.

enchilada3Instead of wrapping the core enchilada ingredients in a corn tortilla, we’re just throwing the corn right in the mix with the “filling”. Though you still have the liberty of wrapping this mixture up in a tortilla, topping it with a Mexican cheese blend and baking it until the cheese forms a gooey blanket over the enchilada.

This is the perfect kid-friendly recipe to whip up on a busy week-night. It requires very little prep work and is pretty low maintenance once all the ingredients start simmering. Instead of beef, you could use ground turkey, ground or pulled chicken, or leave the meat out entirely if you want to go vegetarian. If you do decide to leave out the meat, I would recommend swapping the brown rice for quinoa to get an extra kick of protein.

enchilada2The one thing I love about Mexican food is it is SO easy to lighten up without skimping on flavor. I always use brown rice or quinoa when recipes call for a grain, and try to add as many additional vegetables as possible. Between the brown rice, black beans, corn and sautéed vegetables, these bowls are packed with fiber and ended up being very filling. Served with a side salad, they made the perfect lunch or dinner!

If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time now, you may have noticed my tendency to be a little overzealous with toppings. No exception here. BUT I have to recommend using 2% fat plain Greek yogurt (in place of sour cream), sliced green onion, chunks of avocado and a splash of freshly squeezed lime juice. They were just the icing on the cake. Err, the salted rim on the margarita? You catch my drift.

Get ready for this Mexican fiesta in your mouth.

Beef Enchilada Bowls

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Maple Frosted Banana Bread Protein Donuts with Caramelized Bananas

donutsI’m giving you a big hug in the form of donuts this morning. Donuts that did not take a bath in the deep fryer, yet are still undeniably delicious.  Donuts that taste like your grandma’s homemade banana bread. Donuts that are topped with a smear of maple peanut butter goodness and THEN topped with sweet, caramelized bananas. Donuts that were promptly demolished by yours truly within minutes after their photo-shoot. De-mol-ished.

Let me tell you how utterly excited I was to receive my donut pan for Christmas last year, and then follow that up by telling you how many times I’ve actually used it…. uhhh, this was the third time. I blame my obsession with other breakfast foods such as pancakes and waffles. As well my impatience to actually bake things in the morning when I’m starvin’ Marvin’. However, these babies only need 10 minutes in the oven and they are good-to-go. I can deal.

donuts3Caramelizing bananas has become one of my new favorite ways to eat them. I’ll add them to my oatmeal, top a piece of toasted bread with peanut butter with them or even throw them in some Greek yogurt once they’ve cooled. Caramelizing adds such a rich, decadent flavor to them, similar to how bananas fosters would taste. A girl can dream, right? ;)

These can easily be made gluten-free by using gluten-free rolled oats, such as Bob’s Red Mill. The maple peanut butter “frosting” is made using none other than Jif Whips Maple and Brown Sugar Peanut Butter (aka my kryptonite) –> only sold at Target. If you haven’t tried it yet, it is a MUST BUY of the season. To make any peanut butter into a spread or “frosting”,  simply whisk in a little water to thin it out. No fancy ingredients necessary.

donuts2The donuts are light and fluffy, yet moist from the banana. Feel free to add in walnuts or even chocolate chips to the batter to make them extra decadent. As long as they end up in your mouth, your morning is off to a stellar start.

New morning priorities: gym, bake donuts, inhale donuts, dream about said donuts. Repeat.

Maple Frosted Banana Bread Donuts with Caramelized Bananas

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Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

redpepper

Spaghetti squash with spinach, mushrooms and chicken tossed in a creamy roasted red pepper sauce. A dish so divine and satisfying, you’ll never believe how light and nutritious it is.

There are numerous ways to roast red peppers at home, however my preferred method is in the oven.  Though I will warn you in advance, these babies know how to produce some smoke! I would recommend either turning your oven fan on or opening a nearby door or window. I managed to set my fire alarm off three times during the roasting process, thanks to my charming 1-bedroom condo.  Assuming your living quarters are a tad more spacious than mine, you should be able to make it through this process unscathed. And trust me, SO worth it.

Not only did we roast red peppers for this sauce, we also roasted a big head of GARLIC.  For those of you who don’t roast garlic on a regular basis, TRUST ME: you’re wandering around in a culinary void. Roasting garlic brings out a sweet, mellow, almost buttery flavor that is extremely versatile in recipes. Mix it in mashed potatoes, mix it with a little mayo and use as a spread, toss it into steamed veggies or simply toss it in your favorite pasta dish. So undeniably delicious. I literally eat them by the clove. Maybe that’s why I’m still single……. LOL jk ;) thank you, Altoids.

redpepper2Anyhoo, it’s no shocker I’ve posted another squash dish. If it weren’t squash, you know it’d be something pumpkin. I’m trying to pull the reigns back on my pumpkin addiction. Though now I seemed to have over-compensated with squash. Anyone have any recipes requests they’d like to see that do NOT include the before-mentioned??

The all-star of this recipe really is the sauce. You could add in whichever veggies or protein source you’d like. I personally love the combination of sautéed mushrooms with red peppers and garlic, though zucchini or even brussels would be mighty tasty. Get creative! It’s your party on a plate.

As I’ve mentioned, roasting a spaghetti squash makes a LOT of food. This recipe could easily feed a family or serve as the perfect lunch to pack up during the work week. It’s also fine to freeze and reheat for later use. Pair it with a side salad or some crusty Italian bread and you have yourself a ridiculously nutritious, delicious meal.

Let’s just hope your fire alarm won’t repeatedly yell at you like mine did. Cheers!

Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (should make ~4-5 cups cooked)
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves from one head of roasted garlic (if you chose to not roast garlic, simply use 2 cloves of minced garlic)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 pack of fresh white mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 handfuls of fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil for cooking

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Slice red pepper into halves and remove the stem and seeds. Place the red pepper halves on foil with the skin side up. Roast for ~20 minutes, until the skin gets nice and charred.
  2. Remove the blackened red peppers from the oven. Using tongs, place them in a zip-close bag to allow them to steam. Set the bag aside and leave the peppers to sit for 20 minutes. Remove the skin from the peppers after they have had a chance to cool. The blackened skin should easily peel off. Transfer red pepper to food processor.
  3. Decrease oven heat to 400ºF. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and membrane. Rub flesh with a little olive oil and bake for 1 hour, cut side up. This is also the ideal time to roast the garlic. Simply remove some of the peel and trim the top off the head of garlic. Drizzle olive oil over the exposed surface. Wrap garlic in aluminum foil and place directly on oven rack. Roast for 1 hour - remove the garlic and spaghetti squash at the same time. Add 3 cloves of roasted garlic to food processor.
  4. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add chicken, cook 5 minutes, turn and cook 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown. Slice in strips or bite-sized pieces once cool enough to handle.
  5. Maintain heat of skillet and add another tsp of olive oil. Add diced onion and cook until softened, ~3-4 minutes. Transfer to food processor. Add mushrooms to skillet and cook until tender, ~4-5 minutes. Add spinach and sauté until wilted, ~1-2 minutes. Add cooked spaghetti squash and chicken. Reduce heat to low.
  6. Once roasted red pepper, garlic and sautéed onions have been added to the food processor, add chicken broth and basil and process mixture until pureed.  Pour sauce into skillet and toss to combine. Serve.

Apple and Sage Butternut Squash Soup

soupCreamy butternut squash soup flavored with apple, nutmeg, garlic, turmeric and sage. A warm, satisfying autumn dish that is sure to be a family favorite!

Hooray for soup and scarf weather! It only took Florida till November to give us temps below 70 degrees. Of course I thought this meant it was time to turn off the AC and live the open-windows life. Wrong. Highs are still hitting the 80′s and no AC still means pure torture.

I would still, however, enjoy this soup even in stifling temperatures. It serves as the perfect Jacuzzi for your toasted bread to take a dunk in. Or your grilled cheese sandwich. I literally just started day dreaming about how perfect a fontina, gruyere or parmiagiano-reggiano grilled cheese sandwich would be paired with this soup. Ugh, holy matrimony of noms.

You could also take it a step further and slice some hearty bread into little crouton-y nuggets, throw them under the broiler with a pinch of parmesan cheese and let them get all warm and toasty. Good thing I have enough soup left over to feed a small village so I can partake in those cheesy crouton toppers tonight. It is so on.

soup2This soup is a super-satisfying vegetarian dish that is low in fat and calories, yet very nutrient dense. Butternut squash is brimming with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber. The kind of antioxidants our bodies can definitely use an extra boost of this time of year.

The aromatic flavors of garlic, sautéed onion, turmeric, ginger and sage provide a beautiful, savory contrast to the naturally sweet taste of the squash. You also can’t beat the beautiful golden hue of the final product. Pretty food is always more enjoyable ;)

AND just wait until the heavenly aromatics of this soup invade your kitchen and make it smell like a fall harvest candle (aka heaven).  Make a big batch over the weekend and pack it up for week-day lunches or store extras in the freezer. Nutritious, rich and satisfying. Happy Soup Season!

Apple and Sage Butternut Squash Soup

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Creamy Spaghetti Squash with Chicken Sausage and Spinach

squash22Spaghetti squash tossed in a creamy ricotta sauce with sweet chicken sausage and sautéed spinach. Light on the calories, yet full-fledge on flavor.

Squash and cheese, baby. It’s mac and cheese’s lighter, healthier counterpart. Trust me, you will not miss the mac one bit.

squash21If you’ve never baked spaghetti squash, it is SO easy. Simply slice, bake, shred out the goods and discard the shells. It also makes A LOT. I used a relatively small squash and it easily made four servings. Hellllo easy weeknight dinner!

Speaking of easy, this whole recipe is super simple and requires very little prep work. Once the squash is cooked, the remainder of the recipe takes about 15 minutes to throw together. Best of all – it’s all made in ONE PAN. If you loathe doing dishes even half as much as I do, go ahead and break out your happy dance. Read More →

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Pancakes with Cinnamon Honey Butter

sweetpancakesNutritious and delicious whole wheat sweet potato pancakes that are moist, fluffy and totally face-plant worthy. The perfect lazy Sunday-morning pancakes that won’t put you in a complete food coma afterwards. We’ve all been there!

It can be a bit challenging to conquer a desirable texture when baking with whole wheat flour. I’ve baked my fair share of “healthified” baked goods that came out too dry, too dense or just tasted like cardboard. These, however, would fool even the pickiest of eaters into thinking they are something off the iHop menu.

sweetpancakes2Oh and this cinnamon honey butter…. ohmahgah.

So it’s not the healthiest of toppings, however a little goes a long way. Just a dab will do ya. I just want to add it to my oatmeal and my popcorn and anything else that speaks to me. Dangerous grounds.

These actually turned out to be a great snack during the work day, too. I just tossed a few in Ziploc bag and added a smear of Jif Maple Whipped Peanut Butter on top when I started to experience that “3 o-clock” feeling and I was in snack heaven.

sweetpancakes3I’m obviously on a pumpkin/peanut butter/ALL FALL FOODS/sweet potato kick right now. I was yapping about giving your sweet potatoes a makeover yesterday, and now I’m shoving them in my pancakes. Honestly, I roasted about 2 lbs of sweet potatoes the other day without the slightest clue as to what I was going to do with them. Mind you, I live alone. Therefore, no boyfriend/roommates/family members to force-feed with my creations. Sometimes a girl just has to get creative!

Anyhoo, if you’re in a breakfast rut or just appreciate a fine stack of flapjacks, give these babies a shot. They are high in fiber, low in sugar and will keep you full and satisfied. You totally deserve to reap the benefits of this whole-grain goodness!

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Pancakes with Cinnamon Honey Butter

Makes between 8-9 pancakes total; Serves ~3

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mashed sweet potato (~1/2 medium-sized sweet potato. I previously roasted mine in the oven at 500 degrees F for one hour)
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour – I used King Arthur
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg white
  • 3 tbsp sugar-free syrup (may exchange for maple syrup, honey or agave) – I used Walden Farms
  • 3/4 cup milk – I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tbsp melted coconut oil (may exchange for canola or vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Cinnamon Honey Butter (Optional)

  • 1.5 tbsp grass-fed butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat skillet over medium heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray
  2. In a medium bowl, mix dry pancake ingredients together
  3. In a separate bowl, add wet ingredients (sweet potato, egg/egg white, almond milk, syrup, oil) and whisk until combined
  4. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
  5. Using a 1/4-cup measure, scoop batter onto warm skillet. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until small bubbles form on the surface of the pancakes, flip and cook for remaining 1-2 minutes.
  6. Whisk honey and cinnamon into butter and spread onto pancakes. Top with syrup or agave. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts per serving (roughly 3 pancakes without toppings) 

Calories: 250; Total Fat: 7.5 gm; Saturated Fat: 4 gm; Cholesterol: 65 gm; Sodium: 175 mg; Carbohydrates: 38 gm; Fiber: 5 gm; Sugar: 4 gm; Protein: 10 gm

Spicy Turkey Sausage and Kale Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

sweetpotatoSpicy turkey sausage, sautéed kale, dried cranberries and hazelnuts stuffed in a roasted sweet potato topped with a drizzle of honey. The perfect combination of spicy and sweet!

Nothing beats a simple sweet potato recipe. While I’m happy to take mine oven roasted with slab of maple peanut butter any day (don’t knock it till you try it), adding a few contrasting textures and flavors can take plain sweet potatoes from good to glorious. Read More →

Kale, Quinoa & Butternut Salad with Balsamic-Glazed Pears & Fontina

fallsaladSautéed kale, quinoa and roasted butternut squash join forces with sweet balsamic-glazed pears and creamy fontina cheese to create the perfect dish for Fall.

I am in a major squash infatuation and have been roasting it for breakfast, lunch or dinner, as a side or main dish, even as a snack with some maple peanut butter. Thank you, Jif Gods. If I had to describe what autumn tasted like, it would be the epitome of a roasted butternut squash.

fallsalad3But let’s switch gears and briefly discuss my experience with spaghetti squash this week. I wanted to use up the rest of my turkey meatballs in a spaghetti squash dish with some sautéed veggies and a sprinkle brick of parmesan cheese. So, I go into my local grocery store on a hunt for a respectably-sized spaghetti squash and end up coming face-to-face with my worst nightmare.

Not only did my local grocery store only have ONE left, but this lonesome solider was LIT-erally the size of a damn pumpkin. No joke. It almost broke the produce scale coming in at 6.3 lbs. Not only did this thing need a forklift to transfer, but it rang up at 18$!! For a squash! Needless to say, I walked out of the grocery store with whole-wheat bowties.

fallsalad2Ok, back to the squash of the hour. If you’re so inclined, you could also do another version of squash, like kabocha or even acorn… or even sweet potatoes! One thing I will mention as far as roasting squash is to make sure the cubes of squash aren’t too crowded on your roasting pan. Otherwise, they will steam instead of roast and will be lacking that little crisp we all adore. If you’re using a whole butternut squash, you will likely need to roast in two separate batches.

I’m thinking this dish would be a refreshing addition to your Thanksgiving spread this year. It combines sweet and savory with a a nice tart punch from the balsamic. It’s packed with fiber, high in protein and very low in calories. All things we lovvvvvvve <3

Kale, Quinoa & Butternut Salad with Balsamic-Glazed Pears & Fontina

Serves 6. Serving size: 3/4 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 small butternut squash, cut into ~1-inch cubes
  • 4 generous handfuls of kale, chopped with stems removed
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (or chicken stock)
  • 1 pear, chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 1.5 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
  • .5 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 2 ounces of Fontina cheese, freshly grated
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Halve the squash lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out and discard seeds. Remove skin. Cut into 1-inch cubes. Transfer to a large, rimmed baking sheet. Toss with olive-oil, salt and pepper and spread out in a single layer. Roast, tossing occasionally, until just tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, combine quinoa, 1 cup of vegetable broth and 1 cup of water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. When the water reaches a boil, cover the pot, reduce heat to medium/low, and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed. This will take 12-15 minutes. You will notice that the quinoa becomes sort of translucent and you can “fluff” it with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add kale and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook down ~4-5 minutes until wilted. Remove from skillet and add to bowl of quinoa.
  4. Using the same skillet, add .5 tbsp butter and minced shallot. Cook ~4-5 minutes until slightly caramelized. Add chopped pear and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes until golden. Add chopped sage and balsamic and cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
  5. In a serving dish, add kale and quinoa mixture followed by roasted butternut squash and top with pear and shallot mixture. Grate some fontina cheese on top (it should easily melt from the heat) and serve immediately.

Nutrition facts per serving (3/4 cup)

Calories: 220, Total Fat: 7 gm; Saturated Fat: 2 gm; Cholesterol: 9 mg; Sodium: 250 mg; Carbohydrates: 34 gm; Fiber: 5.5 gm; Sugar: 5 gm; Protein: 8.5 gm

 

The Best Turkey Meatballs

turkeymeatballsI know the title is highly subjective, but as a testament to the tastiness, the title shall stay.

It doesn’t take but a quick glance in my recipe archive to realize I have a thing for meatballs. Meatballs and mini things. Mini things are cuter. Mini things are fun to make and even more fun to eat. Mini things fit in cute little jars and adorable little bowls. They just always win over my foodie heart.

turkeymeatballs3However, it does happen to be football season (aka appetizer season) and these little balls of glory fit the bill. You can shove them in a sub roll or in between two slice of Italian bread or just stick toothpicks in them for a fun finger-food.

These balls are gluten-free, low in fat and have a nice little kick of fiber (thanks to a couple secret ingredients). I shouldn’t even call them secret ingredients because it doesn’t take a genius to guess that I included pumpkin in this recipe. Pumpkin is its own food group in my diet right now. Literally been using it out the wazoo. No shame.

But the other special ingredient is oats! The combination of creamy pumpkin and oats made these meatballs melt-in-your-mouth moist. I also baked them instead of sautéing them in oil which seemed to hold in even more moisture and further decrease the fat content. Double win!

Speaking of fat, I wouldn’t go too lean on the turkey or you’ll sacrifice flavor and they could end up too dry. I recommend using 94% lean ground turkey.

turkeymeatballs2turkeymeatballs2As far as the sauce, I just used a good quality jarred tomato-basil sauce and added ~2 tbsp of half & half while it simmered. I do have a fantastic family recipe for tomato sauce but it’s high maintenance and requires an entire day of sitting on the stove while making your entire home smell like Carrabbas. It’s wonderful but not so conducive to time management.

Thus, grab the jar of sauce and call it a day ;)

..And then come live in meatball land with me.

The Best Turkey Meatballs

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Protein Shake

oatmealshake2Disclaimer: No oatmeal raisin cookies were actually harmed in the making of this recipe. No need to put a perfectly delicious cookie through the trauma of a blender when you can mimic the taste with more nutritious ingredients ;)

This shake is made with protein powder, old-fashioned oats, dates (or raisins), cinnamon, vanilla extract, unsweetened vanilla almond milk and ice. It’s the perfect shake for breakfast, a midday pick-me-up or even dessert. Top it with low-fat cool-whip or perhaps some chocolate-covered raisins for extra decadence without losing the nutritious appeal.

oatmealshakeOf course we all love a fresh baked oatmeal cookie the size of our head but that inevitable sugar-crash that sets in after eating it is not so pleasant. This power protein shake, however, packs enough energy to fuel your morning routine while keeping you full and satisfied, sans the sugar-crash.

I actually made this shake over the weekend to accompany me poolside. My version of day-drinking (#rage). I poured it into a red solo cup and toasted to it being literally 90 degrees in Tampa right now. In mid-October. Did you go into hiding, Fall?!?!

We may not be enjoying hot pumpkin spice lattes as much with this weather, but ice-cold pumpkin beers are tasting extra delicious ;)

oatmealshake3If you’re half as big of an oatmeal raisin cookie fan as I am, you must try this shake! Go home, Otis Spunkmeyer. There is a new sheriff in town.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Protein Shake

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