Sweet & Spicy Sweet Potato Waffles

IMG_6386Sweet potato waffles sweetened with a touch of brown sugar and spiced with a dash of cayenne pepper. These waffles are a total taste-bud party and make for one delicious breakfast experience.

These waffles solve the all-so-familiar breakfast conundrum of sweet vs. savory. I kid you not, my drive home from the gym every morning involves this little debate. Do protein pancakes sound good? Always. But a breakfast sandwich with eggs, avocado and Sriracha also sounds mighty tasty.

This conundrum turns into a full-blown mental debacle when I actually go out for breakfast or brunch. I usually just say forget it and order an omelet or fancy Benedict with a side of red velvet pancakes and call it a day. Some decisions are just too difficult to make. And let’s face it, those red velvet pancakes alone will send you face first into the hardest food coma ever.

But back to WAFFLES! If you don’t currently own a waffle maker, please add one to your Christmas list. Heck, I’ll even gift you with one myself. The one I’m currently using was made around the same time the automobile was. Not kidding. I actually think it was a wedding gift my parents received?? haha sorry, mom & dad ;). Still works like a charm, though!

These waffles are sooooo soft and moist, they almost melt in your mouth. It can be hard to find “healthified” waffles that still give you the Belgium-waffle experience, but these babies fit the bill. I LOVED topping them with a soft boiled egg and a drizzle of maple syrup. I actually had them for breakfast and dinner the same day. And now I want them right now as a snack.

In other exciting news (!!) — I was recently gifted with a Lowel Digital Imaging Light to enhance the aesthetics of my food photos. It’s especially hard during winter months to work around optimal sun lighting so I was super excited to try it out. This is the first photo I have taken with it so far (at ~7 AM). I’m still playing around with it trying to figure out what angles and reflections work best, but I love the results so far!IMG_6460This breakfast was a toasted English muffin with a slice of grilled honey ham, grilled pineapple and a fried egg topped with avocado and Sriracha. If you’re a fan of the spicy/sweet combo like yours truly, I would definitely give this Hawaiian-inspired breakfast a shot!

…So, let’s have brunch ;)

Sweet and Spicy Sweet Potato Waffles

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Turkey Meatloaf with Red Wine Ketchup

meatloaf3A grown-up version of a childhood classic. Turkey meatloaf with a sweet and savory red wine ketchup that will turn even the avid meatloaf despisers into fans.

..I know because I used to be part of the meatloaf-haters club. I was actually president of the club for a good portion of my childhood. Until I had an epiphany… HELLO, a meatloaf is just a giant-sized meatball and meatballs are quite possibly my favorite food in all the land. So one Saturday afternoon (aka, yesterday), as I was in my obnoxious fluffy pink bathrobe dancing around the kitchen to the N*Sync Christmas album, I had ANOTHER meatloaf epiphany. The one ingredient that I knew would bring my liking of meatloaf from a 4 to maybe an 8 or 9 was the very thing that I was currently drinking out of my Christmas mug: red wine.

And just like that, this happend:

meatloafThe bad news is meatloaf is quite possibly one of the least photogenic foods in the universe. Right up there with anything drenched in gravy. I tried, guys. I really tried.

So what makes this version of meatloaf better than the usual (besides the vino)? It’s incredibly moist (ugh, hate that word), full of flavor and has an extra kick of fiber. The loaf is made out of lean ground turkey, old-fashioned oats, italian seasoning, sautéed onions, low-sodium chicken broth and of course, ketchup. I know some people sub the ketchup for tomato paste in their loafs, but I will forever be a fan of good ol’ ketchup.

This meatloaf is perfect for a weeknight dinner and even BETTER the next day made into a meatloaf sandwich. I would’ve slapped myself for saying that as a kid. But seriously, place a slice in a roll or between two slices of bread, top it with parmesan and let it sit under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese melts and morphs into a glorious blanket of goodness over your loaf-wich. Ugh, SO good.

meatloaf2If ground turkey isn’t your thing, you could substitute it with lean ground beef. The fat content is honestly pretty comparable. Though I wouldn’t recommend using ground turkey breast because it may come out too dry.

The taste brings that comforting feeling of home-cooking to your palette, yet the sauce gives that extra little punch that will make you want to dance around to N*Sync music. Don’t fight it. Just join me. ;)

Turkey Meatloaf with Red Wine Ketchup

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A Full Day of Dietitian Eats

Questions I am asked most often when I tell people I am a dietitian:

  1. “So, are you like, the food police?” — Yes, as a matter of fact. Now excuse me while I rummage through your pantry and give you a written citation for those Hostess cakes.
  2. “What should I eat?”
  3. “What do YOU eat?”

Since #2 is very personalized, I decided to expand on #3 and go through an entire day of what I eat. I’m going to lay out every meal and every snack, include information on meal timing and portion sizes, and provide calorie and macro-nutrient information.

I always eat at least three meals and three snacks per day. My meals and snacks are never more than 2-3 hours apart or my appetite will overpower me and I’ll start gnawing on my lower extremities. Ha.. ha… but really.

I always like to give the analogy of your metabolism being like a log fire. If you don’t put anything “on” it, it’s going to be measly flame burning very little calories and giving you very little energy throughout the day. Your body is a machine that runs on the fuel that nutrients provide it with. By refueling your body every few hours, you’re providing it with the resources and energy it needs to function optimally.

So let’s get to it!

5:00 AM – Pre-workout:

1/2 banana and ~1/3 scoop of protein powder mixed with ~3 ounces of coconut water. My two go-to protein powders are Perfect Fit in chocolate and Select Protein in Snickerdoodle. This particular day I went for chocolate. This has been the magic combination for me for early morning workouts.

Bananas are an ideal source of quick-digesting carbohydrates and are packed with potassium, aiding in the maintenance of nerve and muscle function. The small amount of protein powder provides some essential branched-chain amino acids to promote muscle-protein synthesis. Pairing a quick-digesting carb (such as a banana) with a source of protein helps slow down the digestion of the banana while keeping me satiated and energized throughout my workout.

Not pictured: 1/2 cup of black coffee….. or else I’m a walking zombie.

Calories: 85; Fat: 0 gms; Carbohydrates: 17 gms;  Protein: 5 gms

IMG_4076

7:30 AM – Breakfast:

The most important (and my favorite) meal of the day! Breakfast is inhaled ~30-45 minutes after I complete my morning workout. At this point, I’ve entered my “anabolic window” and it’s time to refuel those depleted glycogen stores. Including carbohydrates post-workout is crucial to replenish the muscle glycogen that you burned during your workout.

I try to keep my breakfasts/post-workout meals relatively low in fat, high in protein and relatively high in carbs. This day I toasted a Thomas Double Protein English Muffin and topped one half with 2 egg whites, 1/4 of an avocado and Sriracha. The only half was topped with 1/2 tbsp of Jif Whips Maple Brown Sugar Peanut Butter, half of a banana and a drizzle of sugar-free maple syrup.

Calories: 340; Fat: 9 gm; Carbohydrates: 42 gm; Protein: 19 gm

breakfast

10:00 AM – Mid-morning Snack:

A tall Americano (espresso mixed with hot water) from Starbucks with a splash of half & half paired with one gloriousssss chocolate chip cookie dough Quest bar. Quest bars are the only protein bars I eat and they make snack time my favorite time. My day doesn’t feel complete without one. #addict.

Calories: 230; Fat: 14.5 gm; Carbohydrates: 29 gms; Protein: 29 gms

morningsnack

 12:30 PM – Lunch:

1/2 cup of brown rice mixed with 4.5 ounces of grilled chicken, 1-2 cups of mixed vegetables (zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli and carrots), 1/4 of an avocado and of course, Sriracha.

I cooked the brown rice in half low-sodium chicken broth and half water and seasoned it with a dash of low-sodium soy sauce, garlic powder, ground ginger, cumin and black pepper. I usually prepare batches of brown rice and/or sweet potatoes, assorted vegetables and chicken over the weekend so I have some ingredients on hand to throw together quick, well-balanced meals during the week. Preparation is SO key!!!!

Calories: 375; Fat: 9 gm; Carbohydrates: 39 gm; Protein: 36 gm

lunch

 3:00 PM – Afternoon Snack:

1 small apple with 1 tbsp of Skippy natural peanut butter. I find it is much safer for me to portion out my peanut butter ahead of time or else I WILL find my fingers back in that damn peanut butter jar. Danger zone.

Calories: 195; Fat: 8 gm; Carbohydrates: 29 gm; Protein: 4 gm

IMG_6287

5:30 PM – Indulgence/Kryptonite/Treat:

Yanno what they say…… sweat daily, indulge often ;)… or is it just me that says that?

My apologies for the blurry car photo. Though if you want to get weird looks and be silently judged by people around you, just sit in your car during rush hour traffic and gnaw on your Reese’s Christmas Tree while taking selfies.

Nailed it.

Calories: 170; Fat: 10 gm; Carbohydrates: 18 gm; Protein: 4 gm

Reeses

 7:00 PM – Dinner:

4 ounces of chicken seasoned with Himalayan sea salt, loads of black pepper and fresh lemon juice pan-seared in coconut oil, one baked sweet potato topped with 1 tbsp natural peanut butter and cinnamon, and sautéed green beans topped with slivered almonds and Craisins. This is one of my staple dinners. It’s simple, well-balanced and includes a serving of peanut butter – just how I like it ;)

I bake my sweet potatoes in tin foil for 1 hour at 500 degrees F and they come out like perfection every time! They’re so soft, you could scoop them out of the skin and turn them into mashed sweet potato’s for an alternative side dish. The peanut butter + cinnamon combination is also mighty delicious if you haven’t tried it yet.

Calories: 415; Fat: 12 gm; Carbohydrates: 44 gm; Protein: 45 gm

dinner

 8:30 PM – The Holy Grail (aka DESSERT):

A beautiful, decadent vanilla mug cake topped with vanilla maple “frosting” (aka jazzed-up Greek yogurt). I use any and all opportunities to “healthify” desserts because it’s one of life’s great pleasures that you shouldn’t have to go without. Can I get a AMEN?

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup oat flour
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup liquid egg whites
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 tbsp 0% fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp Stevia
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Frosting:

  • 1/3 cup plain 0% fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tbsp sugar-free maple syrup
  • Optional toppings: Dark chocolate chips, slivered almonds

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients for the mug cake and whisk until smooth. Pour batter in a greased big mug or bowl. Microwave for 1 minute and 45 seconds.
  2. Mix topping ingredients together until smooth. Flip the mug cake on a plate, top with “frosting” and add toppings of choice (I used dark chocolate chips and slivered almonds).

Calories: 280; Fat: 7 gm; Carbohydrates: 30 gm; Protein: 24 gm

mugcake

9:00 PM – Bedtime

…..100% serious.

Daily totals: Calories: 2090; Fat: 69.5 gm; Carbohydrates: 248; Protein: 166 gm

That’s going to conclude it, folks! Please feel free to comment below if you have any questions on meal planning, portion sizing, etc. Hopefully this provides a little insight and you find it helpful in embarking on your own meal escapades.

Please keep in mind, I plan my nutrition plan around my goals which are currently to increase strength and add a little muscle (operation: no more twig legs). Everyone’s needs are going to be different based on age, height, weight, gender, activity level, etc. For a personalized nutrition plan, please refer to my services/contact page :)

Peppermint Mocha Protein Donuts

donuts1Florida dropped to the 50’s this week so we’re celebrating by eating these holiday festive delights!

I’m mildly obsessed with the combination of mint + chocolate at the moment. It will never surmount my obsession with peanut butter + chocolate, but around this time of year, this mint-chocolate madness comes in a close second.

I went off my rocker this past week and actually tried to make peanut butter + chocolate + mint work TOGETHER and it was a complete, utter catastrophe. It all started with my attempt to enhance the palatability of a York peppermint patty (to be frank, I think they taste like toothpaste), so I thought, “why not slather some peanut butter on top”? After all, peanut butter makes everything better….

Nope… there are, in fact, limits to that statement and I went too far. Moral of the story: either eat a Reese’s or a York and call it day. Some things just aren’t meant to be. (tear)

donutsproTHESE, however, are meant to be in your baking lineup this Christmas. They taste nothing like a Krispy Kreme donut (don’t want to get your hopes up), though they’re very similar in density to a cake donut. I was really just trying to emulate the chocolate cake donuts at Dunkin Donuts. Mission almost accomplished ;)

The typical sugar and fat-laden donut is quite possibly the best and worst way to start your day. Of course it tastes delicious and decant and all-things wonderful, but how do you really feel after eating it? Perhaps a little sluggish and bogged down? Does it just kind of sit in your stomach and linnnggger like an unwanted guest for hours to come? Does it make you crave vegetables?… No? Just me? ;)

Either way, these donuts do not have any of those side-effects. Except maybe the veggie-craving since you’re starting your day off on a nutritious track.

They’re the perfect holiday dessert or breakfast without being overwhelmingly sweet or rich.

The holidays (and life in general) are always better with donuts!

Peppermint Mocha Protein Donuts

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Six Ways to get Back on Track after the Holidays

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We are in full swing of the holiday season which means family gatherings, festive parties and celebrating all we are thankful for. As much joy as this time of year brings, it also brings a lot of opportunity to over-indulge in things we normally don’t get to enjoy year-round (I’m looking at you, Christmas cookies and specialty whiskey cocktails). However, the more consistent you are with a healthy lifestyle, the more wiggle room you have to treat yourself this time of year. What is most important is your ability to get right back on track. So, once the merriment comes to a close and your diet is slightly derailed, ditch the guilt and get back on track by following these six guidelines:

1. Make a PLAN

Sit down, write it out, stick it on your refrigerator or plug it into your smart phone (or smart pad). Your plan can include scheduling your workouts, planning your meals for the week or simply writing down a list of goals you want to achieve. Making a plan holds you accountable to follow-through and can help you stay on track. Just be mindful of feasibility. If you’ve struggled fitting in 4-5 workouts a week in the past, scheduling 6 into your plan may not be feasible and you don’t want to set yourself up for disappointment. Start with a plan that doesn’t sound too daunting and one that you’re confident in your ability to execute. We’re talking small steps toward the bigger goal. A SINGLE healthy change can stop a free fall of bad habits.

 2. Sweat it out

Stay committed to your exercise routine. Even if you have to scale back on the amount of time you’re exercising, make the time count. Try to incorporate at least three 10-15 minute sessions of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) per week to get your heart rate pumping and scorch those extra calories. You can perform a HIIT workout on the treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike or take it to the pavement. Wear a watch that includes a timer and alternate between 30-45 second intervals of high intensity work followed by moderate-low intensity. Also, look into classes at your gym that offer a full-body toning workout, such as Body Pump, TRX or PiYo. If you need to take a week off for travel or what-not, just re-establish your routine as soon you’re back in the groove. One week will not throw you off track unless you let it. Always keep a positive mindset and don’t be too hard on yourself for giving your mind and body a little vacation.

 3. Drink plenty of H2O

Between the excess intake of high-sodium foods and one-too-many cocktails, your body is likely to become dehydrated. Not only does dehydration affect our cognitive and physical functionality, it can also spike CRAVINGS.  Strive for at least 3 liters of water per day (roughly 100 ounces) to avoid these negative side-effects. The best way for me to reach my daily goal of water intake is to carry around some sort of tumbler with a straw. For whatever reason, I always drink liquid faster (and more of it) when using a straw. Try it!

Also, if drinking plain water completely bores you, try adding some freshly squeezed citrus, sliced cucumber or mint to your water for some extra jazz.

4. Meal prep

After overeating on the holidays, the last thing you may want to think about is prepping MORE food. However, prepping meals in advance is the EASIEST way to stay on track with your goals. Focus on whole-food sources such as lean proteins, whole-grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy. Take a few hours out of your weekend to make a few nutritious crock-pot meals, bake a few chicken breasts, roast sweet potatoes and sauté your favorite vegetables. Portion your meals out in Tupperware containers and keep them in the refrigerator for quick, go-to meals and snacks. Some of my favorites:

5. Avoid “CLEANSING”

I always hear people say they are going to “cleanse” after a weekend of over-indulging or to quickly drop weight for an event. Eating a raw-foods diet is one thing, but going to the extreme of only drinking freshly squeezed juices or cayenne-infused lemon water for days on end will only put your body in a nutrient and caloric deficit.

Here is the reality: Your metabolism is like a log fire. If you don’t put anything “on” it, it’s going to be a measly flame burning very little calories during the day, not to mention the energy lulls that will resort in cravings for high-calorie, low-nutrient foods.

Here is the other reality: Your liver works 24-7 to filter and detoxify what you put into your body. That is its main role in the body.

You do NOT need to go to the extreme of cutting out multiple food groups in hopes of more optimal functioning. The exception, of course, is if you have a medical reason to eliminate certain food groups. Otherwise, these cleanses are quite bogus. Your body is a machine and it runs on fuel… EAT REAL FOOD :)

 6. Date Night… with your pillow…

Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night to reset your system and recharge your energy levels. Find a good way to unwind before bed… read a book, practice yoga poses, stretch or take a leisurely stroll with your family or friends. Stray away from the TV or electronic devices. This time is about slowing down your mind and body and giving yourself the ultimate gift of relaxation.

Happy Holidays, friends!

Sweet Potato, Brussels and Apple Hash with Cranberry Turkey Sausage and Goat Cheese

hashAn aromatic mix of cubed sweet potato, shaved Brussels sprouts, sweet apple, herbs and spices tossed with Trader Joe’s cranberry turkey sausage and finished off with herbed goat cheese. It’s a one-skillet meal that will easily have you coming back for seconds!

This dish is just bursting with Autumn vegetables and flavors, I cannot get enough! Even though Thanksgiving has come and gone, this dish is too good (AND EASY) not to share. Plus my addiction to sweet potatoes is not dissipating any time soon. There is just something about sweet potatoes mixed with SAGE and sausage and goat cheese that just makes my head spin.

This hash is probably something I could eat day-in and day-out, sort of like anything and everything with chocolate and peanut butter, without growing tired of it. I even tossed the leftover hash in a skillet the next morning, heated it up and cracked a few eggs on top to transform it into a glorious EGG HASH. Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

hash2If you’re not over squash yet this season, you could sub the sweet potato for butternut or acorn squash.

Let’s also talk about this Trader Joe’s Uncured Cranberry Apple Turkey Sausage that I was super excited to find. Low fat turkey sausage links from vegetarian-fed turkeys with no antibiotics, no added chemicals or nitrites/nitrates with only 1.5 grams of fat per link. They are super delicious and would serve as a great breakfast protein choice, too.

I’ll be honest, unless I walk into TJ’s with a plan of EXACTLY what I need to get, I am a wondering buffoon in that store. There is just SO MUCH produce, specialty sauces/dips/nut butters, meats, WINES. I’ve been overwhelmed ever since one opened in Tampa. I’ve just wanted to try anything and everything. All at once.

One of the things I have grown to love at TJ’s are their bags of pre-cut or pre-skinned produce. I bought a HUGE bag of skinned, chopped sweet potatoes for this recipe and it made meal prep tremendously easier. Yes, these bags are little more expensive but if cooking already seems like a chore and you’re less inclined to cook homemade meals because of this, I think the extra $ is well spent. I actually bought everything in this recipe from TJ’s and I was amazed at the little amount of time AND DISHES I had utilized. Double win.

Oh and the VERY BEST part of this dish: ONE skillet wonder, baby. Who even has time for excess dishes these days??

Sweet Potato, Brussels and Apple Hash with Cranberry Turkey Sausage and Goat Cheese

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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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