Dinner

Spicy Taco Zoodles (Cookbook Preview!)

spicy taco zoodles healthy recipes shed for the wed

I'm giving you a preview from the soon-to-be released Shed for the Wed Cookbook today! There is a whole section dedicated just to spiraled veggie noodles. I love them! You get almost all of the satisfaction of a hearty pasta dinner without the refined carbs weighing you down.  Do you want to know the secret behind why they are so great? It's the sauce! If you have a good sauce, you do not miss regular noodles. Don't believe me? Try it yourself!

They key here is finding the right marinara. You want to make sure its lower in sugar (the guideline I go off of is 4g or less of sugar per serving). My favorite is Trader Joe's Organic Tomato Basil.  You most definitely can make your own, but it will add on a couple hours to the endeavor. 

I hope you give this recipe a shot! It's a real winner. Scroll to the bottom for the recipe. :)

Also, if you haven't downloaded the FREE food & wellness journal yet, be sure to sign up for emails from me and download it here! I love this freebie because it is what I actually encourage my clients to use! Use it to get a clear impression of your normal habits, and then you can transition to keep you accountable to your lifestyle goals! -AHS

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Wedding Date
Wedding Date

Spicy Taco Zoodles

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1⁄2 lb ground turkey

  • Fajita seasoning (Simply Organic is a good brand)

  • 3 medium zucchini, spiraled*

  • 1⁄2 jar marinara sauce**

  • Optional: sprinkle of cheddar cheese

Instructions

Heat olive oil in a medium pan. Add ground turkey. Lightly coat meat with fajita seasoning and stir. Cook until browned. Mix in spiraled noodles and marinara. Serve with an optional sprinkle of cheddar cheese.

*If you don’t have a spiralizer, never fear! A box grater also works as well as buying them pre-noodled.

**Jarred marinara shouldn’t have more than 4g of sugar/serving.

spicy taco zoodles healthy recipes shredding for the wedding

GF "Breaded" Chicken Thighs AKA "The Best Chicken I Ever Made"

gluten free breaded almond meal chicken thighs

I was messing around in the kitchen last week, and was craving a breaded-style chicken. I had unopened almond meal in my cupboard, and voila, I came up with "The best chicken I ever made" - according to my husband. I served it on a cauliflower rice stir fry. Which was a random throw together of cauliflower rice, frozen broccoli and bell peppers, powdered ginger, paprika, liquid aminos and a dash of rice vinegar. The combo was amazing! "Breading" the chicken took an extra 5 minutes of prep compared to my usual go-tos, and it was worth it! 

 The set up is easy enough! One bowl for egg and one for almond meal. 

The set up is easy enough! One bowl for egg and one for almond meal. 

Have you ever heard of engagement chicken? It's this recipe that every time a woman makes it for her boyfriend she finds herself engaged shortly thereafter. I'm not crazy about the premise of the story, but I feel like this recipe would bear similar results. 😂😂

So without further ado, recipe below! I hope you guys try it. If you do, leave me a comment below! - AHS

 

almond meal chicken thighs breaded gluten free

Gluten Free "Breaded" Chicken Thighs aka "The Best Chicken I Ever Made"

the best chicken i ever made gluten free breaded chicken thighs

Ingredients

  • 5 chicken thighs 
  • 1 egg, whisked 
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • Olive oil spray 
  • Herbs de Provence 
  • Salt and pepper 

 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease baking dish with olive oil spray.  

Dip chicken thighs on each side in egg. Batter with almond meal. Add to baking dish. Gratuitously add herbs de Provence, salt and pepper. (Note: You could mix the herbs de Provence in the almond meal mixture, but it turned out great just sprinkling it on top.) Some almond meal will come off where you grab the chicken. I just sprinkled those spots with more almond meal once they were in the baking dish. 

Cook for 40 minutes or until inside temperature reaches 165. I recommend using a meat thermometer - every oven is different, and you don't have to worry about overcooking your chicken for safety. :) 

Serve warm, but it's great cold for lunch the next day too! 

Creamy Cashew Cheese Sauce and Vegan Mac & Cheese

vegan mac and cheese with caramelized onions and spinach

News update! Today, we went live with the "Shed Approved" page of the website. It is your go to resource for things you may need during the Shed program. Go check it out! I will update it occasionally with new finds, too. Also, I decided to test out putting the recipes at the top of the post to make it easier to get to. Babble underneath will give you some other ideas on how to use the sauce! :) Let me know what you think of the new "shop" and format! xo


Creamy Cashew Cheese Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups roasted cashews (I soaked for about 20 minutes, but my food processor is strong. If you are using a blender that may not have strength, soak for a couple hours)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup of water (use until you reach your desired consistency)

Instructions

Blend ingredients in food processor or blender! Use in the following recipe and store excess in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

    vegan mac and cheese with sedalini

    8D086761-A620-4964-9919-22BEAC759C31.JPG

    Vegan Mac & "Cheese"

    (SErves 4)

    Ingredients

    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 onion, sliced
    • Salt 
    • 2 cups spinach
    • 12 oz sedanini lentil pasta (from Trader Joe's)
    • Cashew cheese sauce above (use enough to cover pasta)

    Instructions

    In a medium pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and salt (coat in a layer). Lower heat to medium-low and stir onions occasionally, making sure that they don't stick to the pan (add more oil, if necessary). Continue until onions are golden brown (this can take as long as 40 minutes), salting occasionally.  Add spinach to onions, coat with oil from the pan and stir until wilted.

    Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions on package. Drain, and put back into pot. Add cashew sauce, mix well. Serve in bowls with onions and spinach mixture. NOMS. 


    As I mentioned in last week's post the blizzard we had in Chicago really put me in a cooking frenzy.  And severe winter weather means comfort food. I got very excited to try my hand at making cashew "cheese" sauce to make some healthy mac and cheese!  I've seen recipes with butternut squash, but I wanted to keep this as simple as possible. It's a really versatile sauce. You can serve it over: 

    • Any gluten-free pasta - chickpea, brown rice, sedanini, etc. 
    • Steamed cauliflower - mix the sauce with Frank's hot sauce, it's to die for!
    • Chicken with marinara sauce- like a healthy chicken parm! 

    Basically, this is an awesome sub for anything you would want cheesy goodness. I would love to hear if you decide to try it! Cheers to "cheese"! -AHS

     Cashew sauce in all it's glory. 

    Cashew sauce in all it's glory. 

     I clearly did not listen to my own advice, and had lots of onion stick to the pan. 

    I clearly did not listen to my own advice, and had lots of onion stick to the pan. 

    Three Sisters and Feta Spinach Quinoa Cakes

    three sisters and feta spinach quinoa cake

    There was a restaurant near my old job called Moxee. It recently closed (shame, it was really good!), and they had a dish called the "Three Sisters." To be 100% honest with you, I never had ordered it because 1) beans cause indigestion for me - and I didn't want to eat them at work and 2) typically work was paying, and I went for a higher priced item, like a blackened salmon salad. That being said, this was a favorite for a lot of my colleagues (apparently they didn't have the same issue with beans... *side eye*).  I was asked recently to try and recreate it. The humor in all of this is that I had never eaten it. So I basically I took the ingredients and made my own #shedapproved version. 

    But first, I was intrigued, I hadn't heard of the "three sisters" before this, so I did a quick google, and I was fascinated by my findings. According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, apparently, the three sisters are the three main agricultural crops of various Native American groups in North America: winter squash, maize (corn), and climbing beans.

    "The three crops are planted close together and benefit from each other. The maize provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants use, and the squash spreads along the ground, blocking the sunlight, helping prevent the establishment of weeds. The squash leaves also act as a 'living mulch', creating a microclimate to retain moisture in the soil, and the prickly hairs of the vine deter pests. Corn, beans, and squash contain complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, and all eight essential amino acids, allowing most Native American tribes to thrive on a plant-based diet."

    I mean, I don't know about you, but I think that this is pretty much the most amazing thing ever. How cool that the Native Americans figured this out: 1) From an agricultural standpoint and 2) from a biological, nutritional perspective. This inspired me to do the dish justice. I got to work. 

    Here was the menu description: "Vegetarian hash with roasted butternut squash, corn, and pinto beans (3 sisters) topped with sweet peppers, onions and a light roasted garlic sauce with a grilled herb polenta cake."

    Well, no knock to polenta, but it's not shed approved, so it was out. To give homage to our South American Native Americans (hello Incans!), I thought quinoa could be a good substitute. As I had never made a "quinoa cake" before, I looked to pinterest for inspiration. It did not disappoint. I found a recipe from the Domestic Superhero that seemed would work perfectly. There was a catch, she had used breadcrumbs in her recipe (not Shed approved) – would it still work? Well spoiler alert: it worked just fine without them. Didn't miss them either! 

    Also, I made one other big change to the original menu item - the light roasted garlic sauce became tzatziki. This gives it a bit of a mediterranean flair (I'm Lebanese, what can I say, can't help myself!). The lemon zest and feta were just asking for the tzatziki. While these vibes seem to not be the same, I can tell you, the flavors complimented each other beautifully.  

    The rest of the recipe seems to speak for itself. I hope you try it- it's perfect for #meatlessmonday! Have a great day, beauties! 

    -AHS


    Three Sisters 

    Ingredients 

    three sisters feta spinach quinoa cakes 2
    • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
    • 1 lb 5 oz butternut squash, cubed
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tsp liquid aminos 
    • 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1 can sweet corn, drained (it's winter- in the summer I would use fresh!)
    • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped 
    • 5 small sweet peppers, deseeded and sliced horizontally

    Instructions

    Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add butternut squash, cook for a couple minutes. Add garlic and add liquid aminos. When butternut squash is 75% finished (softer, but not cooked all the way through), add pinto beans and corn. Mix well. Cook until butternut squash is soft. 

    While butternut squash is cooking, in another skillet heat 1 tbsp olive oil over low heat. Add 1 cup chopped onion and sweet peppers. Cook until onions are browned and peppers are soft. 

    Serve onion and pepper mix on butternut squash mixture. Pair with Feta Spinach Quinoa Cakes. 

    feta spinach quinoa cakes

    (Adapted from Domestic Superhero

    Ingredients 

    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 5 ounces chopped baby spinach
    • 2 large eggs, beaten
    • 1 1/4 cups cooked quinoa
    • 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
    • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    • Tzatziki sauce

    Instructions

    Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the spinach and cook, stirring often, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium-size bowl.

    Add the eggs, quinoa, feta, lemon zest, and 1/4 tsp black pepper and mix well. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes to allow the bread crumbs to absorb some of the moisture.

    Wipe out large skillet, and add extra virgin olive oil. Heat for a few minutes.

    Form quinoa patties about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. Place the patties in skillet, in batches if necessary. Cook the patties until they’re browned on the outside, 4 to 5 minutes per side, and then flip.

    Serve with a dab of Tzatziki sauce on each patty. 

    Notes

    • I eliminated breadcrumbs, a homemade sauce, and dill from the original recipe. 
    • Breadcrumbs were eliminated because they are empty calories. The recipe works without them, but I’m sure it would be great with them as well. 
    • To make life easier I thought it best to use pre-made Tzatziki which already has dill in it. Thought doubling up on dill was unnecessary. 
    • Lastly, you could try baking the patties as well to time the meal better. 

    Update 2/13/18: The first version of this post was missing the measurement for butternut squash. Error is now corrected. 

    Sweet Potato Turkey Bowl

    Sweet Potato Turkey Bowl

    Hey y'all! How have you been doing on your daily gratitudes? I would love to here all that you are thankful for! Remember to tag me and use the #shedgratitudechallenge if you decide to post!

    Today I wanted to share the recipe for one of my fave #shedrecipes, the Sweet Potato Turkey Bowl. You may have noticed, I am obsessed with sweet potatoes and root vegetables in general. They are just so nourishing and satisfying. This week has been particularly crazy with a very sick family member, so it is nice to fall back on the quick and easy "tried and trues" when chaos ensues. (I didn't mean to make that rhyme, I swear.) 

    I keep wanting to use the word "nourish" over and over - because this bowl is the epitome of nourishment. It defines "eating the rainbow": there are so many phytonutrients from the sweet potato, spinach, bell peppers, and onions. The turkey packs in your protein and keeps you full for longer! Honestly, this is the type of meal you could eat every day and it would keep you perfectly balanced. It is an awesome soulful, healthy, eating decision if there ever was one! Nourishing your body & soul! #winning

    ...And did I mention it's flexible? Top this dish off with a fried egg and make it a breakfast!  Or switch up the texture with some nutrient dense kale! Play around and have fun with it, it lends itself so easily for fun swaps! 

    Anyways, I hope you enjoy it! Let me know in the comments if you give it a try! And apologies for all of my cheese this post- couldn't even contain myself!  :D

    xx


    sweet potato turkey bowl 2

    sweet potato turkey bowl

    (serves 1)

    Ingredients

    • 1½ tsp extra virgin olive oil

    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

    • 1 large sweet potato, chopped into about 1-2 inch pieces

    • 1/2 cup bell peppers, diced

    • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced

    • ½ lb ground turkey

    • ½ tsp dried rosemary

    • ½ tsp dried thyme

    • 1 large handful fresh spinach (don't skimp! It all wilts in beautifully!)

    • salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions

    In a skillet, sauté oil and garlic over medium heat for 1 minute. Add in chopped sweet potato and stir. After 4-5 minutes, add in peppers and onions. Sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in ground turkey, rosemary and thyme. Break up turkey with your spatula or spoon. Let cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Mix in fresh spinach, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until slightly wilted. Remove skillet from heat and serve hot. 

    Slow Cooker Chicken Apple Stew

    slowcooker chicken apple stew

    A couple weeks ago I was completely overwhelmed with things to do. I had so much work to do, I was cleaning like a fiend for house guests, I had too many social things on the docket in a very short amount of time, and my husband was out of town for work. 

    ...And I had committed to cooking for our house guests who have eating restrictions. (WHAT WAS I THINKING?!)

    It was time to whip up the old trusty crock pot. 

    I love slow cookers because once you set them, you forget them, and your house smells amazing for hours. It is pretty awesome. I am also absolutely awful at making up recipes for slow cookers. I truly just don't get how to get the right flavors to mix properly when they are cooking slowly for hours. It is a very clear gap in my culinary experience. It's on my to do list. 

    I turned to Whole Foods for a perfect recipe for the occasion. This slow cooker chicken apple stew was super satisfying, and my dinner guests loved it. They talked about it all weekend. <3

    This dish felt perfect on a chilly autumn evening! The Whole Foods recipe is below, but I made some minor tweaks and notes: 

    •  I had purple sweet potatoes, and I swapped one out for one of the normal sweet potatoes.
    • Another confession is I am actually notoriously bad at following recipes. I chopped the apples a bit too small, which made it look a bit mushier than I would've liked.  
    • The original recipe indicated it serves 6-8. I would say it comfortably served 4 with everyone wanting more! (Also, those were big bowls, not the baby one shown! Everyone ate before I took the pics :) ) 

    I think this recipe is a knockout. Especially if you want something gluten and dairy-free! I will definitely be making this again soon! 

     

    Slow cooker chicken apple Stew

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
    • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
    • 3 firm, sweet baking apples, such as Braeburn or Gala, peeled and cut into 6 wedges each
    • 2 medium sweet potatoes (10 ounces each), cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
    • 1 large sweet onion, halved and sliced
    • 2 tablespoons sliced fresh sage leaves
    • 1 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    Instructions

    Toast fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Cut chicken thighs in half. Add chicken, fennel seeds and all remaining ingredients to a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until chicken and apples are very tender, 6 to 7 hours on low or 3 to 3 1/2 hours on high.

    Because this came from WF, I have nutritional info: 

    Per Serving: 300 calories (70 from fat), 8g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 165mg cholesterol, 610mgsodium, 19g carbohydrates, (4 g dietary fiber, 11g sugar), 39g protein.

    IMG_6303.JPG

     

     

    Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

    spaghettisquashbolognese

    I really don't have much to say about this, except for that rarely I give myself a 10/10 on a recipe, and this meal 100% gets a gold star.  Please make it. You deserve this dinner. It's so freaking delicious.  You may think you don't need to eat the full serving, but I'm telling you in advance, you will eat all of it. 

    Be sure you pick a marinara sauce with less than 4gs of sugar per serving. I used Trader Joe's Organic Marinara. It has 3gs of sugar per 1/2 cup. This marinara also has parmesan in it (missed that at the grocery- which would make it month 1 #shedapproved. I would recommend a marinara sans cheese so you can make it throughout the duration of the program. Also skip the Romano at the end as well, if you are a month 2 shedder!) 


    Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

    Serves 2

    Ingredients

    • 1 spaghetti squash

    • 2 tbsp(ish) olive oil

    • salt and pepper

    • 2 large garlic cloves, minced

    • 1 lb ground turkey

    • 1/2 25 oz jar of marinara sauce

    • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

    Instructions

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 

    Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Deseed with a spoon. Coat basin and sides with 1 tbsp olive oil. Place on a shallow baking tray greased with olive oil. Salt and pepper. Place in oven. Cook for 50 minutes. 

    Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic to pan. Stir occasionally until garlic has a bit of color. If it is browning too quickly turn heat down. Add ground turkey to the pan. Use your spatula to break it up into smaller bits. Keep cooking on low, stirring occasionally, so it is nice and brown. 

    Remove spaghetti squash from oven (at 50 mins) and let sit. (I was impatient and waited 5 minutes and used a mitt to hold it.) Take a fork - scratch to create “noodles”. Add noodles to ground turkey mixture. Add 1/2 jar of TJ’s organic marinara. Add in almost all the Romano in (saving a bit for garnish) stir to coat. 

    Serve back in the squash (I prefer this way because you maximize the amount of squash you can eat!)  or in a bowl. Top with remaining Romano as garnish. 

     

     

    I tried Eat Purely for the first time, here's what happened.

    eatpurelycubansteak

    Y'all know I find lots of joy in cooking. But cooking every day is exhausting. Meal prepping in advance is great in theory, but does not play out as often as I would like. Make enough for leftovers? Yes, great idea until your husband eats it all in one sitting (love you, boo). Then what? You don't necessarily want to blow your healthy eating on some indulgent carryout. You still want to keep "living the lifestyle" but you don't want to cook right now, dammit. Where can I get healthy delivery for dinner?

    Does anyone remember Sprig? It was in Chicago a couple years ago and I was OBSESSED. It was super healthy, organic meals delivered. But they closed down in Chicago, and I cried. I don't know how it is possible they closed because I was probably single-handedly keeping them in business. I'm still so sad I still haven't deleted the app off my phone. Pathetic. I have been looking for a replacement since they closed down. Cue: Eat Purely. 

    I had heard about the service a bit and I had been meaning to try it for awhile. Last week, the perfect opportunity arose. It had been a busy productive day, but no time to grocery shop. I was tired. I didn't want to go anywhere. But it was a weeknight- aka "you need to keep it clean, Alexandra". Then boom! Epiphany- I could try Eat Purely. 

    Okay so what exactly is Eat Purely? From their website: "artisan chefs use fresh, seasonal ingredients to create a diverse range of restaurant-quality meals and sides. Select from a daily rotating menu of locally-sourced meals. Order on demand or schedule up to a week in advance. Meals arrived chilled so everything stays fresh. A few minutes in your oven or microwave and dinner is piping hot when you're ready to eat.

    Okay so that sounds great but is it healthy? 

    "Our chefs create food that never relies on excess salt, fat, or refined sugars to taste great. We’d rather let our locally-sourced ingredients do the talking... Our vegetables are fresh and seasonal. Our animal proteins are raised, not grown. Our meals are made without chemicals, preservatives, or GMOs."

    Hmmm... well this sound good theoretically. Seasonal and locally-sourced is important for produce. Interesting that they don't use the term "organic" if everything is made without chemicals or GMOs. It's great that animal proteins are "raised" but what are they really committing to? It's hard to say because I couldn't find any further information on the website. :/

    At the end of the day, this information was good enough for me. Why? Because this sounds about equal to the standard I hold myself to. I try to make sure that my animal proteins are grass-fed, no hormones added, and raised humanely- but even at Whole Foods this is hard to accomplish sometimes. You do the best you can for where you are at. And its helluva lot better than most carryout. 

    I went on the app and instantly found a #shedapproved* meal - an incredible looking Coconut Glazed Salmon- but alas- sold out. 

    eatpurelysalmon1
    eatpurelysalmonnutrition

    I was looking through for another option that would be comparable. I landed on the Cuban Steak. It looked great- gluten free, dairy free, grass-fed meat! And if you follow me at all- you probably know I'm obsessed with sweet potatoes. So this meal is looking pretty fantastic. Unfortunately, when I looked at the nutrition facts, it has more sugar than I would've liked. 15 grams- but sweet potatoes add sugar. The key distinction was the addition of brown sugar. Brown sugar is not #shedapproved and is in the middle of the ingredients list. Bummer. The was rice was tricky too- it seemed by the look of the photo to be brown rice- but the ingredient list said it was "long grain"- which could be both white or brown! What a conundrum. 

    eatpurelycubansteak
    eatpurelycubansteaknutrition

    I order it anyway because I was very hangry (no time- for debating) and it comes incredibly fast. I think it was 15 minutes. I set the oven for 350 degrees per the "heat and eat" directions. I put foil on the top of the container and put it in the oven. I followed the directed amount of time (8-12 mins) but it wasn't hot enough. So I put it in the microwave (no aluminum foil! lol) for a minute and that did the trick.

     It came in this pretty container.&nbsp;

    It came in this pretty container. 

     Straight out of the box, still has pretty presentation! #impressed

    Straight out of the box, still has pretty presentation! #impressed

    It was realllllly tasty and was super satisfying. I loved that there was a variety of veggies. I really was "eating the rainbow": from the sweet potatoes, salsa verde, black beans, to the parsley and pickled onion salad- we got quite a few colors/nutrients in there. By flavor alone I would definitely order again. It is definitely healthier than 95% of most takeout (please don't take that stat seriously). 

    Conclusion? While I love the service and the quality of the ingredients- it is not the easiest to eat #shedapproved meals. You still have to be vigilant checking the ingredient list to see if you are eating within the elimination guidelines. It IS possible to find great healthy options, but don't just order anything off the menu. I also support this for Shed maintenance meals 100%! 

    In the end, it tasted like brown rice to me, so I'm going to stick with that for now. :) 

    If you do decide to give Eat Purely a try-  use my promo code for a $20 credit for you and for me! :) Promo code: ALEXANDRAS21

     Hmmm looks like white rice in this photo!&nbsp;

    Hmmm looks like white rice in this photo! 

    *(It was month 1 approved- soy has gluten- which makes it a month 2 nono)

    **LEGIT - No one paid me to write this. I wish they did, though.**

     

    Bol Provincial

    boldeprovinicial1.jpg

    Last night, doing my favorite "make up a recipe that fits my CSA box ingredients" I started to make what I thought was going to be a great vegetarian soup. What I ended up with was ANOTHER buddha bowl! (If you follow my instagram, you will find that I have a problem.) I can't break the addiction even when I try! But I'm so glad because it is so much more interesting than the other BBowls I have been making as of late- AND IT'S VEGAN! So many wins. 

     (I got a little antsy, the quinoa mayyyy not be totally cooked...not the best for digestion. Whoops :)&nbsp;

    (I got a little antsy, the quinoa mayyyy not be totally cooked...not the best for digestion. Whoops :) 

     Came through in the clutch!&nbsp;

    Came through in the clutch! 

    I don't typically do several grains- but I have been out of my bulk grains since we were in Colorado last week and had this Near East brand quinoa blend that my boo had accidentally bought. It's really easy and the rice is pre-cooked, so you don't have to wait forever for the rice to be ready. {Side note, if you buy the blend, don't use the spice blend. It has soy and gluten in the spices (why?) - and it will mess up this recipe's flavor. If you don't use the blend, I would go straight quinoa or minute rice in the same quantity.}

    Long story short, I ended up making these amazing caramelized onions, and I knew that broth would ruin their perfected sweet and savory flavor. Solution: I skipped broth and made a bowl instead. Ah comme ci comme ça. The beans make this dish hearty and filling - and hello protein! I was able to use the herbs from my garden which gave the bowl freshness and gave me so much joy! It has this simple, rustic flavor that made me feel like I was not in the city of Chicago, but in the French countryside sipping red wine and overlooking fields of lavender, thus the name. 

    Without further ado, recipe below. Bon appetit!  


    Bol Provincial

    serves 2

    Ingredients

    • 3 tablespoons olive oil 
    • 3 onions (I used 1 sweet and 2 red), chopped
    • 5 small carrots, sliced
    • 1/3 cups dry quinoa and brown rice
    • 1 3/4 cups water
    • Sprinkle of Herbs de Provence 
    • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary 
    • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    • 1 can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed 
    • 8 large basil leaves, chopped

    Instructions

    In a large pot, warm olive oil over medium heat, add onions and carrots. Stir occasionally until onions are browned. Add herbs de Provence (use enough to cover the carrots and onions, rosemary and balsamic. Let simmer until qrains are finished cooking. 

    While onions and carrots are cooking, bring quinoa rice mixture to a boil. Boil gently for 19-22 minutes until water is absorbed. 

    Add cooked grains to the the large pot, mix together. Add beans and basil leaves and mix again. Serve warm! 

    boldeprovincial2.JPG

    Zucca Fresca: Italian Style Butternut Squash

    zuccafresca.jpg

    First, let me proclaim my love of butternut squash. I think it is so much different and more interesting than normal yellow squash, or zucchini, pumpkin, or almost any other vegetable (technically fruit) in the gourd family. There is something about the flavor and texture that just gets me.  I also think that it is a great starter squash for the health novice. It has enough flavor that, if you are open to new textures, is a perfect veggie to start with. Can we also talk about how versatile it is? It could be used in ravioli, soup, pie, or as a main like this recipe! It is also very filling, full of fiber, and countless phyto-nutrients! If you want to know more about the awesomeness that is butternut squash, check THIS out.

    This particular butternut squash I had bought without having any big plans for it, but I surprised myself with this gem of a concoction.

    I may have mentioned that I am descended from generations of Italian-Americans. I also spent 5 months living in Florence (one of the best life decisions ever- email/tweet me, if you ever want to talk about it. Full disclosure: good luck getting me to STOP talking about it). And pretty much my upbringing consisted of awesome Italian meals daily. My mom is an amazing cook, as was my grandmother, and if I inherit any of their skills in the kitchen all will be good in the world. All of that is my precursor to say that Italian food is my weakness and where my improvisational style lends towards the most. So naturally, this butternut squash is mixed with a variation on a cooked caprese salad.

    You really can’t go wrong with fresh mozzarella balls, tomatoes, and basil. This dish was absolutely delicious and I couldn’t stop eating it. Make this. Seriously, it will make your day better. I promise.

    Disclaimer: if you are at the back end of your shedding journey, I advise you to cut back on the mozzarella included. I would not eliminate it because it really adds a lot to the dish, but it does not need to be as cheesy as the recipe below.

    Serves 2 generous portions

    Ingredients

    • 1 2lb butternut squash halved lengthwise and seeded

    • 3 tbsp olive oil

    • salt and ground black pepper

    • 2 pints grape (or cherry) tomatoes

    • 2 cloves minced garlic

    • ¼ cup of vegetable broth

    • ½ 1 onion chopped

    • ¼ cup fresh basil

    • 4 oz bite size fresh mozzarella balls

     

    Instructions

    Brush cut sides of squash with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place squash halves, cut sides down, in a large baking dish. Prick all over with a fork. Bake, uncovered in a 375F degree oven for 30-40 minutes until tender.

    Meanwhile place tomatoes in a large bowl. Add remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, minced garlic, and salt to taste. Stir to coat. Place tomato mixture in a baking dish. Bake in oven with the squash for the last 20 minutes

    In a large skillet bring vegetable broth to a boil, add onion. Cook for about 3 minutes until tender. Remove skillet from heat. Add roasted tomatoes to skillet with onion. Gently press down on tomatoes to pop them (spatula works well!). Add mozzarella and basil to tomato mixture, toss well.

    Using a fork, scrape the squash from shell. Mix into skillet mixture. Serve hot!