Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Bars

I’m sorry, did you say you love the chocolate-peanut butter combo and can’t imagine life without it???? Yeah, me too.

This recipe is going to throw you for a loop though. It’s a super awesome, omega-3 packed, fiber-rich, chocolately, peanut buttery, FROZEN snack bar. YEP! Frozen! You can’t even imagine the deliciousness…

I have a Pampered Chef problem. Their kitchen tools and gadgets are super high quality and are really thought out by people who spend TIME in the kitchen! I appreciate the thought they put into their products, knowwhati’msayin? ANYWAY they have a new snack bar maker and it’s pretty awesome. You can bake it, freeze it, and just store your homemade granola bars in it.

This recipe boasts crunchy peanut butter (you can substitute it for other nut butters or soy butter), quick oat, rice cereal, chia and flax seed, and of course to add texture/flavor/stick-togetherness -butter, and of course semi-sweet chocolate chips!

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER NO-BAKE BARS
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)…yes I know, just trust me (you can also use solid coconut oil and I would have had I not run out)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup quick oats
1 cup rice cereal
1 Tablespoon chia seed
1 Tablespoon ground flax seed

  1. In a medium pan over low-medium heat melt butter. Add in the semi-sweet chocolate chips and melt. Then add in the peanut butter to the mixture so that it is smooth (minus the chunks of peanuts). Remove from stove and allow to cool slightly.
  2. In a large bowl mix oats, cereal, chia, and flax seeds. Pour slightly cooled chocolate mixture over the oat mixture and let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Place mixture into a cookie sheet and press flat or if you have a granola bar pan use that!
  4. FREEZE and enjoy!!!!

NOTES: I cut them in small bite size pieces

Why are these better than original No-Bake Cookies????
1. half the butter
2. no added sugar (besides what is in the semi-sweet chocolate chip cookies)
3. chia and flax seed = omega 3 fatty acids = super heart health benefits
4. frozen…because ohhhmagoodness so good!

You can eat well, eat deliciously, and have fun doing it. You don’t need to count calories/fat/carbs in order to be healthy. Eat well, my friends!

Salmon Cakes

Happy New Year!!!!! If you made a New Years Resolution about nutrition (or even if you didn’t) follow me. Follow this blog, my Facebook page, and Instagram! I’m here to provide great recommendations, information, recipes, and comic relief about nutrition in real life ūüôā

These salmon cakes are easy, packed with flavor, and super nutrient rich. Salmon can be expensive so you may not buy it often if ever. If this is the case, canned salmon is your ticket! Wild caught Alaskan salmon (with bones and skin) is cost-effective and just as rich in nutrients (even more if you use the bones!)

Omega 3 fatty acids are the star of this show! With the salmon, which is SUPER rich in omega-3’s, and the chia seeds, that not only help to bind the patties together but also add more omega-3’s, this dish is very anti-inflammatory!!! Woohoo!!! Not to mention packed with veggies, these cakes are ROCKIN it and your body will thank you for them!

Let’s get down to it. Nothing worse than having to scroll through someone’s blog for an hour before you get the recipe!

Salmon Cakes:

Ingredients

  • 2, 14.5 oz cans wild caught salmon (with bones and skin, crushed)
  • 3/4 cup whole grain crackers, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup minced onions
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 1/2 cup minced carrots
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (I used 4 drops lemon essential oil)

Directions

  1. Drain salmon into large bowl to save. Add salmon to a large bowl and crush bones until all are dissolved.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until blended.
  3. Make into 3 oz patties (slightly larger than the palm of your hand)
  4. Pan fry in 1 tablespoon canola oil OR broil in the oven (5 minutes each side)
  5. Serve with a whole grain or starch and a vegetable for a complete meal!

NOTES:

  • Salmon cakes would go great on a salad or you can make them into a sandwich (like a crab cake sandwich but a salmon cake sandwich instead)
  • Adding lemon zest gives it a more bold lemon flavor
  • Make ahead and freeze some for a quick meal!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do as a family!

Garlic Lemon Artichoke Chicken

My family has had an “eventful” 2017. Don’t get me wrong it’s been full of blessings but it was also filled with multiple stomach bugs (one of which took out my younger son for over a month), learning how to handle very active twin boys (apparently this is not for the faint of heart!), my daughter starting kindergarten, and the passing of my beloved Grandmother. In this whirlwind, I lost sight of meal planning and my usual homecooked meals were comprised of quick fixes like sloppy joes, tacos, breakfast for dinner, leftovers (thanks Mom and Dad), and (full disclosure) fast food/takeout.

Look, this is life and seasons in life, but it doesn’t have to last forever (or for years on end). So this week I decided that I was going to plan meals (AND FOLLOW THROUGH). Sometimes though, you just need inspiration. I mean having the same thing over and over again is just not for me. Flipping through the millions of Pinterest ideas I came across one that uses garlic, lemons, artichokes, and caperberries along with spices I’ve never heard of before. So I decided to SIMPLIFY things without losing the flavor dimensions.

This is a slow cooker recipe but you could also brine this all day and then bake it before dinner. I made it with pasta but you could also serve it with rice, potatoes, quinoa or another grain/starch. Broccoli pairs well with the lemon flavor of the chicken but you could also serve this with a side salad or another vegetable of your choice.

Remeber I’m into EASY recipes that do not take a lot of prep time or purchasing power. This is one of those dump dump¬†mix and set. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons capers plus the brine that is poured in with it
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 3 cloves garlic diced (larger chunks)
  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 onion, chopped

Directions:

  1. Place zest, lemon juice, dijon, vinegar, capers/brine, and minced garlic in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Place chopped onion and the rest of the garlic in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  3. Put drumsticks on top of onion and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour lemon mixture over top of chicken and let marinate for 3-12 hours.
  5. Cook chicken on high 4-6 hours or low 8-10 hours

Serve with whole grain (or gluten-free) pasta

Sauce for Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon non-dairy spread (butter would work great too)
  • 1/2 medium onion minced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoons capers (with juice)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil over medium heat and sautee onions and garlic.
  2. Add lemon juice and mix. Heat until simmering and add capers.
  3. Season with salt and pepper. Add red pepper flakes
  4. Toss with pasta

It was great and we have leftovers for lunch!

Butternut Squash Soup

Guys seriously, this recipe is one of my favorites. This is actually the first time making it but¬†every.single.time I’ve had it my tastebuds were quite happy so I figured I needed to get a good recipe in my arsenal.

I’m making this yummy fall treat for my church’s Women’s Fellowship group. We are having a women’s pampering day focusing on taking care of ourselves, wellness, and simply enjoying each others company. I’m pretty stoked! It’s so important for Christians to surround ourselves with other Christians in order to be built up. Absolutely having friends who aren’t Christians is important…what a better way to have them see Jesus Christ in our own lives BUT surrounding yourself with other Christians is critical to growth.

ANYWAY…

This recipe was SO EASY! Seriously, the hardest part is cutting the stinkin’ butternut squash (and if you buy the frozen or fresh already cubed up, it’s even easier). My slow cooker did all the hard work. For real.

I’m going to annoy a lot of people. I didn’t measure the spices. Because this was the first time making it I was unsure of the amount until I sprinkled and tasted, sprinkled and tasted. Rest assured I estimated and then double checked it with other recipes and I believe this is it.

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 medium onions, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leafs
2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon nutmeg
salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon pepper
1, 14 oz can coconut milk

Directions:
1. Preheat the slow cooker. I put mine on high for 6 hours poured in the chicken broth and then started prepping the vegetables.
2. Toss the butternut squash into the slow cooker along with the onions, celery, and garlic and mix.
3. Add bay leafs, ginger, cumin, turmeric, nutmeg, and pepper over veggies and mix well.
4. Allow the soup to cook until the butternut squash is tender.
5. Once it is tender puree the mixture along with the coconut milk (I used a blender but you can also use an emersion blender which would have been so much easier).
6. Serve with cilantro for a pop of freshness!

If you love savory and slightly sweet, you’ll LOVE this soup. It would make a wonderful side dish for Thanksgiving or any fall dinner! Again, it’s a fan favorite and the twins loved it too!

Check out my Facebook page to see how to cut a butternut squash…simple steps! All you need is a butternut squash and a sharp knife!

Give them Breakfast!

Look…kids (and everyone else) need breakfast. Research shows that kiddos who eat breakfast do better in school, behave better, and have more energy for play/sports later in the day.

I’m a huge advocate of the school breakfast program. Use this resource!!!! But if you are feeding breakfast to your child at home, here are some tips for a smooth morning and some ideas to feed your kiddo!

Breakfast Tips:

  1. Wake up earlier. Mom’s, I know you are already strapped for time and tired. I’m there, in the trenches with you but waking up just 15 minutes earlier to get your kiddos breakfast can keep your kiddos healthy and doing well in school.
  2. Get things ready the night before. Have lunches packed, school bags ready to go, and clothes picked out. This reduces stress in the morning and allows more time to eat a nice calm breakfast.
  3. Let your children help pick out breakfast. If they are involved and invested in what they are eating they’ll be willing to eat a more balanced breakfast.
  4. Have a few grab-and-go breakfasts available. Come on, we all know that some mornings are just hot messes. Even if we don’t plan on these types of mornings, they happen and it’s so important to have a plan B.

Before getting breakfast ideas here are a few breakfast guidelines:

  1. Stay full with PROTEIN (pick one)
    • Animal: eggs, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, Greek yogurt, string cheese, turkey sausage
    • Plant: peanut butter, other nut butter, nuts, soy sausage
  2. Get some ENERGY with Carbohydrates (pick one and/or a fruit)
    • Whole grains: cereal (Cheerios, Mini Wheats, look for at least 3 grams of fiber and 10 grams or less of sugar), oat meal, hot quinoa, whole grain bread, whole grain crackers, buckwheat pancakes
    • Fruits: fresh, frozen, canned in light syrup
  3. Extras for FLAVOR (pick one and/or a veggie)
    • Heart healthy fats: nuts, avocado, oils, peanut butter, nut butter, chia seeds, flax seeds
    • Vegetables: onions, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, salsa, tomatoes, fresh, frozen, canned
Blueberry Spinach Smoothie

20 Super Awesome Balanced Breakfasts Before School

  1. Cheerios with milk, banana, and peanut butter
  2. Whole grain English muffin, with an egg, slice of cheese, and a tomato
  3. Scrambled eggs with whole wheat bread and salsa
  4. Super Awesome Smoothie (frozen fruit, handful of spinach, chia seeds, milk, Greek yogurt)
  5. Banana burrito (whole grain tortilla, peanut butter, banana)
  6. Yogurt parfait (Greek yogurt, fruit, chia seeds, sprinkle of granola)
  7. Breakfast burrito (whole grain tortilla, egg, peppers/onion/black olives)
  8. Fruit salad wrap (whole grain tortilla, ricotta cheese, fresh berries, slivered almonds, drizzle of honey)
  9. Oatmeal with walnuts and blueberries
  10. Overnight oats with apples, cinnamon, and almonds (oatmeal, Greek yogurt, milk, chopped apples, cinnamon, and almond in a glass jar overnight in the refrigerator and microwaved in the morning)
  11. Whole grain waffles with peanut butter and jelly
  12. Buckwheat pancakes with turkey sausage
  13. English muffin with Canadian bacon, tomatoes, and green peppers
  14. Hard-boiled egg with whole grain toast
  15. Cottage cheese and fruit
  16. Breakfast sweet potato with vanilla Greek yogurt and cinnamon
  17. Breakfast pizza (whole grain English muffin, tomato, and shredded mozzarella cheese)
  18. Whole grain mini bagel, cream cheese, smoked salmon, and veggies
  19. Mini quiches (scrambled eggs, veggies, Canadian bacon or turkey sausage, shredded cheese – make ahead and freeze)
  20. Apple sandwiches (core apples, slice so they are in circles, put peanut butter inside, and eat!)

You don’t have to make them hard. These are relatively easy with little prep work.

What are your favorite go-to breakfasts?

This Shrimp is Bangin’

When I was a kid, every year my family would take a trip to the Carolinas. Not just immediate family but the extended family too. A lot¬†of us. Sometimes more than 20 people would share an enormous beach house. We didn’t eat out…I mean, how could you!? Fun fact, we still go to the beach. It’s not every year nowadays…we are much bigger and it’s hard to get everyone there the same week but we try. These were some of the best memories I have as a child and I’m excited to keep the tradition going with my children.

Yes, that is me and my sister…as adults…playing in the ocean…

When in the Carolinas, you should eat shrimp. When in Rome… At least one night that week there was a huge fish and shrimp feast and ohmagoodness it was delicious! Shrimp, where we go, is very inexpensive compared to purchasing it at a grocery store in the north so we took full advantage! My parents usually took a few pounds home with us too so that we could have some in the winter…what a treat!

I decided to use this post¬†as an ode to the shrimp recipe my family prepares and come up with a new one. I love bang-bang-shrimp but I’m not a huge fan of the whole deep fried shrimp thing. I wanted to make a non-deep fried version that has just as much flavor and similar crunch. Both recipes are quite different but both are posting with tons of flavor and are lean.

Nutrition Side Notes:

  • If you are allergic to shellfish you will be allergic to shrimp. Bottom line, don’t eat it! ūüôā
  • Yes, shrimp is higher in cholesterol (3 ounces provides about 166¬†mg of cholesterol) but so are eggs, beef, and pork. All animal products have cholesterol (anything with a liver has cholesterol).
  • Just as other fish, it is best to buy shrimp that is wild caught not farm raised to avoid antibiotics, fungicides, and other potentially harmful chemicals. There are also pollutants found in some wild caught shrimp from the water. If the water is polluted so are the fish found in it. Source it responsibly.
  • Shrimp has a lot of nutrients including selenium and B12.
  • Shrimp is low in fat compared to other animal meat.
  • If you like shrimp, just like with other animal products, eat it in moderation and enjoy!

 

Bang Bang Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of shrimp
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 teaspoons powdered ginger
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 green onion minced
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons flaked coconut (use whatever coconut you have)
  • SERVE WITH: sweet chili sauce, brown rice, and stir fry veggies

Directions:

  1. Peel and devein shrimp (you can buy it already done but it will cost you) and place in bowl.
  2. In a gallon zipper bag place ginger, garlic, salt, and pepper
  3. Juice lime over shrimp and toss gently. Place shrimp in bag with spices (close the bag) and toss.
  4. Open bag and place corn starch, panko bread crumbs, and minced onion inside. Close and toss.
  5. Place shrimp on cookie sheet and set broiler to high. Place shrimp under the broiler (second shelf) and cook for 2-5 minutes each side.
  6. Once shrimp is cooked through, serve with brown rice, stir fry veggies, and sweet chili sauce.

The sweet chili sauce does have some added sugar. Listen, some added sugar is OK but watch portion sizes!

Twist on my families “Carolina Shrimp”

Ingredients:

  • 1# shrimp
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1/2 Lime
  • 1 green onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 can/bottle beer (your choice I used Corona Light)
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • Old Bay seasoning (at least 2 tablespoons but use more if you love it)

Directions:

  1. Heat a pot or electric skillet on medium-high heat. Squeeze lemon and lime and add green onion and garlic to the pot. Sauté until onion is translucent.
  2. Add beer, apple cider vinegar, and Old Bay to the pot and heat until simmering.
  3. Add shrimp and cook about 5 minutes or until shrimp is done. It doesn’t take long so make sure you don’t overcook (it will get gummy).
  4. Serve with cocktail sauce (ketchup and horseradish).

I served the bang bang shrimp with brown rice and stir fry veggies. The Carolina Shrimp can be served with baked French fries and a salad or eaten on top of a salad. I make my own cocktail sauce with ketchup and horseradish (you can put more Old Bay in that too).

Shrimp is expensive up here in the north. It’s definitely for a special occasion! If you can get shrimp locally (wherever you are) go for it! It will probably be about half the price. Enjoy my friends!

Buffalo Turkey Burgers

We were qualifying for a tricycle race…and having a blast as usual.

Have you ever met someone who not only becomes a person you want to be friends with forever but you also share so much in common in life that you become soul sisters? That’s Heather for me and this is the¬†story of our Buffalo Turkey Burgers.

A few years ago my dear friend/fellow dietitian Heather and I decided to do¬†a healthy spin on a burger. We love burgers and buffalo chicken¬†so why not combine the two! You have to understand a few things¬†about the both of us. Not only do we like burgers, buffalo chicken, ketchup (French fries are just the transportation to get ketchup in our mouths), and dessert…we like healthy foods too ūüėČ We’ve followed each other throughout our¬†careers, working at the same places and usually at the same time. Surprisingly, both of us have¬†identical twins and thankfully I had Heather to support me on the journey to being a new twin mom (I couldn’t have made it through the pregnancy without her encouragement). Oh yeah, we also really love nutrition, cooking/eating¬†food, and we really really like helping¬†people on their personal nutrition journeys. This dynamic duo is fly by the seat of our pants, outside the box, not-your-ordinary dietitians…that’s us and that’s how we roll.

Now that you know our¬†back story here’s how these fantastic burgers came to be. We made¬†up the recipe to be used for a public event. Although we love to fly by the seat of our pants, we definitely had to practice at least once before it was show time and what better audience than the honesty of a children. So we held¬†a run-through with her kiddos. They filmed it, rated us, tried the burgers and…IT WAS A HIT! They loved it! If we could please a bunch of kids then we knew we had a winning recipe on our hands. She actually still makes it for her kids…it’s one of their favorite meals.

We added veggies to the meat¬†and then served veggies on the side with a ranch hummus dip. Listen, we are moms and sometimes we need to fit in as many veggies that we can for our family. When I prepared this for mine the other night my daughter said “Mom, the shreddy carrots really make it good.” Sure does young squire, sure does. This is my spin on our Buffalo Turkey Burgers.

Shreddy carrots…and celery, garlic, and green onion.

Side note: this recipe featured here is not gluten or dairy free. I will show you how to make them both as at the end.

Buffalo Turkey Burgers

Burger Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix (you can definitely use your own dry mix if you make it…this stuff has artificial flavors in it so it’s not my favorite but it’s delicious)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound ground turkey (97/3 or 99% fat free)
  • 1/4 cup minced or finely shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup minced or finely shredded celery
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 minced green onion
  • 1/4-1/2 whole wheat bread crumbs (I usually don’t use these but have on hand if needed and this week I needed)
  • Franks Buffalo Wing Sauce (no amount here, use to your desired spiciness)
  • Whole grain buns
  • Lettuce, tomato, onion, banana peppers, pickles, etc

Hummus Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 packet Bushes hummus starter (it’s got everything you need and no extra stuff)
  • 1 tablespoon Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
  • Carrots and celery (to dip into the hummus)

Directions:

  1. Combine dry ranch, egg, turkey, carrots, celery, garlic, onion, and wing sauce. Add bread crumbs if the mixture seems too wet. You want the burgers to stick together!
  2. Split the meat mixture. For sliders, make 2-3 ounce patties. For burgers make 4 ounce patties.
  3. Grill, broil, or skillet fry the burgers. I used my cast iron skillet (I use this for just about everything).
  4. Ensure that the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees!
  5. While the burgers are cooking start making the hummus. Combine chickpeas, hummus starter, and dry ranch to a food processor. Blend until smooth. If you do not have a food processor use a zipper sealed bag! Seriously, it works just fine.
  6. Serve the burgers on whole wheat buns with hummus, carrots, and celery on the side.

NOTES:

  • To make dairy free simply add ranch style spices: dill, parsley, more garlic. For my sons I just omitted the ranch dressing mix all together (and the wing sauce).
  • To make gluten free omit the bread crumbs. If you need to use another dry binder use gluten free oats. Instead of serving it on a bun you can serve it on a salad with beans. I did for lunch and it was quite delicious! REMEMBER if you are eating gluten free you still need starches (carbohydrates). You can’t just eat the burger on lettuce and call it a day. Serve it with rice, fruit, beans, or a gluten free bun.
  • I omitted the wing sauce from this entire recipe for my family. Normally I wouldn’t because kids should try different foods even if they are spicy but I decided to let my family use the wing sauce instead of ketchup on the burger if they chose.
  • I put the wing sauce on the hummus…woah…delish! I recommend that!
Turkey burger on a salad. Delicious!

Thai Chicken Salad

Guys no joke, this was a recipe that I’d never attempted before and I’m so sorry I waited this long. Sure I’ve eaten a Thai salad, I loooove Thai food, and I’ve Pinned tons of Thai recipes…but to be honest I cook very little Asian cuisine at home even though I love it. I went out on a limb just like I encourage all of my readers to do (I would never tell you to do something I would never do myself).

Sometimes people get freaked out when trying a new recipe or a new cuisine at home because they think they’ll need to spend a lot of money on specialty items. The only “specialty” ingredients that I had to buy were rice vinegar and sesame oil. To be honest sometimes I have rice vinegar hanging around because it’s delicious and sometimes it just adds that sweet and sour pop a recipe needs. Regardless, nothing super special except the TASTE!

I’ve talked about my daughter before…she can be a picky eater especially if she’s not
used to the food. Recently, she started cooking with me and this has helped her open up to the foods she has prepared. For this recipe¬†she helped me shred veggies, pour and measure ingredients, and taste the final product. She loved the “brown peanut dressing” (that’s what she calls it). It got her stamp of approval!

This recipe is full of nourishment. From the vegetables to the edamame and the dressing, this salad will give your body so many¬†nutrients from all of these plant foods. To be honest, you could keep out the chicken and it wouldn’t be missing a thing because these vegetables are so filling, crunchy, and satisfying! Can you tell how much I love this recipe?

Nutrition Side Note: Edamame are actually soy beans in their immature¬†form. You can find these in the pods or already shelled either in the produce section or the frozen foods section. I usually get them¬†frozen and just steam ’em up. Soy is beneficial for most people. It gets a bad rap but there is actually little scientific evidence to refute its benefit (given appropriate intake)…even for those with breast cancer and other estrogen related diseases. Take for instance the amazingly low breast and thyroid cancer rates in countries where girls begin eating soy at¬†a very young age. The benefits of soy have been shown with edamame, roasted soy nuts, soy milk, tofu, miso, and tempeh.¬†It is¬†NOT beneficial to eat processed soy lecithin and other soy derived additives in food.¬†Check out what MD Anderson (one of¬†the countries top cancer hospitals) has to say about soy.

Lets dig in to this recipe just like you’ll be digging in to your salad!

Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing

Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 English cucumber without seeds sliced (seeding it is optional)
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup red pepper (julienned)
  • 1/4 cup shredded celery
  • 1/2 cup edamame
  • Rotisserie chicken
  • 2 Tablespoons green onion
  • 4 Tablespoons cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons crushed peanuts

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter (doesn’t have trans fats)
  • 4 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lite soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 Tablespoon cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric

Directions:

  1. Prep all of vegetables and split into 4 bowls. Place 3-4 ounces of chicken over veggies. Top with green onion, cilantro, and crushed peanuts.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing into a food processor and blend together. If you don’t have a food processor a blender will work or simply whisk very well in a bowl.
  3. Drizzle desired amount of dressing over salad (you’ll have leftover).
  4. Enjoy!

NOTES:

  1. You will not need the entire rotisserie chicken so use it for a leftover meal!
  2. You’ll have extra peanut dressing…enjoy!
  3. Use more veggies! Radishes and purple cabbage would be a great addition.
  4. Shrimp would go great in this in place of chicken.
  5. If you are allergic to peanuts try substituting sunflower butter and coconut milk instead. Check out this recipe from the Academy of Culinary Nutrition.

Nutrition Side Note: Mom’s to be DO NOT be afraid to eat peanuts or peanut butter (if you are clearly not allergic). Parents of little ones: it is actually beneficial to start your kiddos eating peanuts/peanut butter at an early age to reduce the risk of a peanut allergy. Check out this article by the American Academy of Pediatrics for the new peanut guidelines. To be honest, I started all of my kiddos at¬†1¬†year¬†but I also ate peanuts/peanut butter during pregnancy and ate a lot of peanut butter while breastfeeding. There may be no right or wrongs but it’s worth looking in to.

I branched out of my cooking comfort zone. Boy am I grateful I did. This recipe is a keeper and I’m pretty stoked about having it again in a few weeks! Try it…I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Stuffed Pepper Soup

The other day my sister was hungry for stuffed peppers but she doesn’t like to bite into peppers. We were talking about ways to make stuffed peppers without actually stuffing a pepper.¬†What about stuffed pepper soup!? My husband has the same issue. He likes the taste of peppers in cooked food but to actually bite into a pepper is a no-go.

I found some recipes on Pinterest but to be honest, I put a¬†spin on everything I make. I’m not a recipe follower. A rule follower yes, a recipe follower…absolutely not. So I did find some recipes buuuut I like my own ūüėČ

I’m telling you, this soup is good! So good that the babies and my daughter have put their stamp of approval all over it! Now, the boys eat just about everything, but still they were “yum yum yumming” all over the place and signing “more” every time their brother was getting another bite. My daughter is on the picky side.

Another side note: parents, you’re working too hard if you¬†find yourself¬†making the kids “special kid foods” for meals. They can and will eat whatever you are making if you allow it to become the norm. These boys eat anything we are eating (unless it has dairy as they have a dairy allergy). I don’t make two meals for dinner. I also sympathize with parents of picky eaters. My daughter was a great eater until she was 2, then it went down hill. She’s getting better but still has a meat problem. Lately she has helped me cook which is helping her¬†to feel comfortable around different foods and trying new foods because she’s made them. I’m with you in the trenches, parents. Sure I’m a dietitian and kids should (and will) eat healthy foods but I also understand and believe me, it’s not an easy job being a parent. Don’t make it harder on yourself by preparing “kid foods”…there’s no such thing. Kids can eat whatever you are eating if that is the expectation.

OK back to the recipe. I use grass-fed beef. If you can find a farmer who has a herd of grass-fed cattle,¬†go for it! I’ll get into more of the health benefits of choosing grass-fed over corn-fed in another blog but for now just know that it’s better for you (and the cattle). This recipe also uses tomato soup. I use Campbells because it does not have milk in it (babies have a dairy allergy so we adjust accordingly). It does have high fructose corn syrup but I do not add any other added sugars to this recipe.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound ground, grass-fed beef (90/10)
  • 1 large onion diced (almost to a mince)
  • 6 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 green bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/3 cup quinoa
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 10.75 oz can tomato soup
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire¬†sauce
  • 32 oz beef broth (beef stock would be wonderful as well)
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (I used a frozen bag)

Directions

  1. Heat a stock pot or large pot over medium high heat. Add canola oil and ground beef. Cook until beef is almost done and then add the onion and garlic.
  2. Cook until you see the beef is no longer red and then add turmeric, basil, black pepper, oregano, and parsley. Allow this to cook until the onions are almost transparent.
  3. Add red and green bell pepper and cook until they are tender.
  4. Add the cabbage and allow to cook for about 5 minutes until the cabbage cooks down and is tender.
  5. Add quinoa and stir completely through the soup. It doesn’t look like soup yet.
  6. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato soup, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth.
  7. Allow to cook on medium low for 20 minutes.
  8. Add cooked brown rice and allow to cook for 20 more minutes.
  9. Serve with some sprinkled parmesan cheese.
Ground beef with the onions and garlic
Added the peppers and spices
Look at all that cabbage!
Now just let it simmer

  NOTES:

  • This could be¬†a great crock pot recipe. I would brown the beef and then add all of the ingredients to a crock pot allowing it to cook all day.
  • You could use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef. You could also make it vegetarian and omit all meat and add lentils or a small bean like black beans.
  • Go ahead and add more veggies. Zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, more peppers, more onion, more tomatoes, spinach, kale…go wild!
  • Add some cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, or even jalape√Īos to the dish. I usually do but since the boys were eating this I laid low (not because babies can’t have spicy foods, because they can…it’s because my boys get heartburn with spicy foods right now).
  • You can use just quinoa or just brown rice, or frankly any whole grain of your choosing. I prefer¬†the blend of both quinoa and brown rice in this recipe.
  • Most of the recipes that I post are gluten free. It’s not on purpose! See how many options you have if you do have Celiac??? You CAN have¬†a flavorful and fulfilling diet without gluten. **Make sure you check the broth, canned soups, and spices for hidden gluten**

I made it more of a mix of stuffed pepper and stuffed cabbage (halupki) soup. Perhaps my next adventure will be Halupki Soup with sauerkraut to add that punch of tang. Who’s with me!? #slovaksunite #easterneuropeanfood #halupkiorbust

Lemon, Lime, Garlic Chicken

I love the Food Network. Of course I have¬†my favorite shows and hosts that I watch.¬†One of the coolest is Ina Garten. Right after the twins were born, my mom, husband, and I were getting our daily dose of the Food Network while trying to survive sleeplessness. She was preparing her Lemon Chicken and we all looked at each other and knew what to do…we had to get that in our bellies! My mom made it for us and we were blown away by the amazing flavor!

This recipe is inspired by Ina and my mom being a rock star and making her wonderful recipe. Mine is not quite Ina’s but it’s good…good enough to make again and again and again.

This recipe features chicken thighs. And you’re thinking “But why!? They aren’t¬†as healthy as chicken breasts?” Well, they are much more budget friendly. Please do not¬†think that you have to always choose chicken breast to be healthy. Chicken thighs are a better option¬†than beef and if you buy boneless skinless they are surprisingly pretty lean!

 

Listen: I’d rather you eat healthy on a budget than eat poorly because you think you can’t afford it.

At any rate, I’m not sure if you like back stories and the narrative of how I cook it. Usually when a blogger posts a recipe and has soooo much to say I honestly flip right past and read the recipe. If you do like the narrative, comment and let me know but for now I’m going to limit that and just put up the recipe with notes.

Lemon, Lime, Garlic Chicken

Photo cred: Molly Statler Photography

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 small onion diced (I actually used frozen green onions that I had saved)
  • 6 cloves of garlic…more if you love garlic
  • 1 lemon with zest
  • 1 lime with zest
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 Tablespoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • dash of turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Salt to taste
  • 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup water (in the crock pot)

Directions

  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium high heat combine oil, onion, garlic, lemon and lime zest, and the herbs and spices. Heat and then add the juice of the lemon and lime. Turn down to medium heat and add the honey when the mixture is simmering. Salt to taste (optional).
  2. Add chicken thighs to the sauce pan and allow the mixture to cover them. Cook for 1-2 minutes just enough for the coating to get on the chicken.
  3. Place chicken and all of the sauce in the crock pot and pour 1/2 cup of water over the chicken (if you are cooking it on low for 8-10 hours you may want to use 1 cup of water).
  4. Cook on high 4-6 hours or low 8-10 hours.

It came out deliciously! I served it with cilantro lime rice and baby carrots.

Cilantro Lime Rice

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (I love the frozen steamer bags in a pinch)
  • 1 lime zest and juice
  • 1/8 cup cilantro (or more if you love cilantro)
  • 1 tablespoon Earths Balance spread (you can use butter or another type of trans-fat free spread)
  • salt and pepper to taste

I hope you enjoy this as much as my family and I did. It was easy, simple, and pairs well with a lot of side dishes. Enjoy!