Simple Cilantro Guacamole

Happy hump day everyone! With my family being here this week I haven’t had much time to test out new recipes, but I made this for taco night a few nights ago and it was a big hit! My mom isn’t a huge fan of cilantro and even she enjoyed it! I definitely made too much, but it gave me the opportunity to have a little leftover which is always a plus!

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This recipe is super easy and can be made in the food processor or a high-quality blender. If you like chunkier guac, I’d recommended just mashing the ingredients yourself with a fork to get a more hearty and chunky texture. While I love avocado, it doesn’t keep for long in the refrigerator, so I’d recommend consuming within 24-48 hours!

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If you are an avocado lover like I am, good guacamole is a must for taco night! While everyone has their own preference for guac flavors, I like fresh and light with a lot of garlic! I use lemon juice for my guac recipe, but I know lime juice is also popular. Avocados are filled with heart healthy monounsaturated fat, so don’t let the high fat content scare you away! They are also high in B vitamins, Vitamin C and E, and other important nutrients such as folate and potassium. While I don’t believe in “super foods”, avocado is pretty high on my list of nutrient-dense food favorites!

I would love for you to give this recipe a try during your next taco night and let me know what you think! Thanks for reading!

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Simple Cilantro Guacamole

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 soft avocados
  • 1 heirloom tomato
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • handful of fresh cilantro
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp garlic granules
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper
  • 1/8 tsp dried basil

Directions

In a food processor, pulse tomato and onion. Add avocados, seasonings (salt, pep, garlic, basil), and lemon juice. Pulse until you achieve your desired consistency. Add cilantro and either mix in or pulse a few times to incorporate. Decorate with a few leaves of cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice before serving!


Simple Quinoa Fried Rice

It’s hump day!!! With hump day has to come a yummy recipe right?

Are you a fan of fried rice? Hub LOVES fried rice; I could take it or leave it. I have been wanting to test out some new recipes this week and since this was one of his favs, I thought I would work on a little healthier version of fried rice. Surprisingly, both Jeff and I loved this dish! I could definitely see it becoming a staple in our weekly meal rotations!

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Another really positive thing about this dish was it only look about 25-30 minutes total including the time it took to bake 2 chicken breasts to add on top. It was so easy and so fast, which is ALWAYS a positive in my book. I chose to use quinoa because it is higher in protein and one of my favorite grains. I would put quinoa in just about any dish and enjoy it! I think it can be extremely versatile and is a great alternative to rice. It is also gluten free for those of you who eat gluten free.

I also used a low-sodium soy sauce from Sprouts Farmer’s Market in this dish. I tend to not use a lot of salt in my cooking in general, so whenever I’m choosing a condiment for a meal I try to pick a low-sodium option so I don’t overwhelm myself with an overly salty taste that I’m not use to.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend <2,300mg of salt per day for good heart health! Take a look at some of your commonly used boxed, canned or packaged foods and see what the sodium content is. I bet you will be surprised! In general I recommend <300mg of salt per serving of food as a general way to try to stay within the 2,300mg/day.

This recipe can be paired with another protein of choice, such as pork, beef or tofu, or even an extra side of veggies! It is also super yummy on its own. I hope you give this one a try, and as always feedback is welcomed!

Simple Quinoa Fried Rice

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa (dry)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (about 1.5c)
  • 1/2 cup frozen pees
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil (or cooking fat of choice; could also sup for 2 Tbsp butter)
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large chicken breast, cut in half (or 2 medium size breasts)
  • Low sodium soy sauce (abut 1/3 cup for the quinoa); I used Sprouts Organic Low Sodium Soy Sauce

Seasonings:

  • 1/2-1 tsp garlic powder (depending on how garlicky you like it!)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch of salt

Chicken seasonings: pinch of black pepper, garlic powder, and ground ginger

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. On a greased baking sheet, season chicken and cook for about 25-30 minutes.

In a small skillet, scramble two eggs in a little cooking spray, butter, or oil with a pinch of black pepper and salt. Set aside once finished.

While chicken is cooking, bring 1 cup quinoa with about 2.5 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir quinoa frequently, about every 5-8 minutes until water begins to evaporate. You may need to add a little more water as the quinoa cooks to assure it’s tender. Total cooking time should be about 20 minutes.

In a large sauté pan, sauté diced carrot, onion, and garlic with seasonings in 1 Tbsp olive oil for about 7-10 minutes or until onions have began to caramelize. Once quinoa has finished cooking, add to to the pan with another Tbsp of olive oil, soy sauce, and frozen peas (waiting until this time to add peas helps them hold their shape and color!). Lastly, stir in scrambled egg.

Once chicken has cooled, slice and lay on top of the fried rice.

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Sweet & Salty Roasted Brussel Sprout Pizza

You guys know how much I love my summer pizzas! I know I just shared an old recipe a few weeks ago in one of my posts which recap[ed some of my favorite of summer recipes. This one might be up there now with some of my favorite pizzas! I am a big brussel lover and love to trying cooking with them in different ways. Any vegetable roasted usually is a big win for me, so why not add roasted brussels to a pizza?!


The sweet element of this pizza comes from dates and a little drizzle of honey on top. Dates are a perfect way for me to curb a sweet craving (type them with peanut butter… amazing!) when it arises, and tastes perfect with a charred brussel sprout. I also add caramelized onion for a little different type of sweetness. Sweet and salty has always been one of my favorite combinations, so topping the pizza with feta cheese added a salty element that put this pizza on my favorites list!

This is a perfect pizza for a relaxing summer night or to bring to a barbecue or outdoor get together! I used a whole wheat crust, but you can use whatever you like best. Happy Monday readers!

Sweet & Salty Roasted Brussel Sprout Pizza

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 pizza crust (I used a store bought whole wheat crust)
2-3 cups brussel sprouts (depending on size)
1/4 cup chopped white or yellow onion
5-6 large dates, cupped
1/3 cup feta cheese
1/4-1/3 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 tsp olive oil for Brussels + 1 tsp for crust

Brussel seasonings: garlic powder (~1/2 tsp), onion powder (~1/4 tsp), black pepper (~1/8 tsp), salt (pinch!)

Pizza seasonings: black pepper (pinch), garlic powder (pinch), drizzle of honey

Directions


Preheat oven to 400 degree F.

Slice brussel sprouts in half. Toss lightly in olive oil and recommended seasonings. Roast brussels for about 12-15 minutes or until outside leaves start to get golden and crispy.

In a small saute pan, saute sliced onion in a little cooking spray with a pinch of black pepper. To help caramelize the onions, add a little water to the bottle of the pan. Once fully cooked and slightly brown, set aside to let cool.

Roughly chop the dates into small pieces. You can make them as big or small as you desire.

Brush the crust of your pizza with 1 tsp olive oil and a sprinkle a little black pepper and garlic powder on top. Top the pizza with roasted brussels, date pieces, cooled onion, feta cheese, and shredded mozzarella. Add a pinch of salt on top before allowing the pizza to cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and crust is crispy (still on 400 degrees). Cook the pizza on a minimally greased baking sheet or pizza stone for easier clean up.

Once the crust is crispy, remove pizza from the oven and drizzle with a little honey. Let cool before cutting into squares and serving.


Looking Forward to Summer … Opening Up the Recipe Box!

Ok friends, please don’t think I’m loony but I actually kind of miss summer. Yes, 120 is a lot to swallow sometimes BUT lots of pool time and lost of fresh summer fruits and veg always get my recipe wheels turning. Today’s Thursday so I’m going to pull out some of my old recipes to re-share in hopes to get your summer food senses flowing! Of course, these recipes are great for any other time of the year as well and can maybe help brighten up some cold and gloomy days for my east-coasters (sorry, I’m not sorry I left!).

Quick side note! I have noticed recently that I have been having a lot of bloating, cramping, and discomfort when I eat a lot of grains (you have no idea how upsetting that is for me!!). Unfortunately, Celiac disease runs on my dad’s side of the family, so this has me a little nervous of what is to come in the future. Both my aunt and grandmother were diagnosed with Celiac disease later in life and have since adapted to eating gluten free. Because of these reasons, you may notice me start to play around with a few gluten-free recipes just to test the waters! If anyone has any good recipes to try — please send them my way!

Now, on to those recipes! The first one I’m going to share is one of my absolute favorites because it includes a “sauce” made with one of my favorite foods — avocado! This recipe is for my Creamy Avocado Pasta Salad.

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Creamy Avocado Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1 avocado, fairly soft
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/3-1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • garlic powder (I didn’t measure the seasonings, sorry! add to your best judgement)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • paprika

Salad:

  • 2 cups whole wheat pasta, I used penne
  • 1 small container of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2 cups asparagus, chopped
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olive without pits
  • black pepper

Directions

Add all dressing ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside while you prep your other ingredients. Cook your pasta until tender; at the last minute, throw in your chopped asparagus (make sure to chop off the woody, rough end, about 1-2 inches from the bottom). Allow your asparagus to cook for ~2 minutes in the boiling water, then drain both the pasta and asparagus. Set aside to cool.

Chop the rest of you ingredients, including the olives. I halved the olives, but feel free to chop as fine as you like or leave whole. Once pasta is no longer steaming, add the rest of your ingredients to a large bowl and pour in your dressing. Mix until all ingredients are fully coated. Finish with a little sprinkle of black pepper. Serve chilled or lukewarm. Pasta salad will stay good in the refrigerator for ~4-5 days; your avocado may just turn a little brown in color. Enjoy!

Seriously that pasta salad is one of my favs! The sauce is super creamy but light for summer days by the pool! Also, healthy fats — sign me up! Avocado is filled with monounsaturated fat which actually helps lower cholesterol levels and can help provide satiety (feeling of fullness) during a meal or snack. Avocados are also high in Vitamin E, C, and B vitamins, so girls/women reading this — it’s great for hair, skin, and nails!

The second recipe is for my Roasted Summer Vegetable Pizza. This is another one of my favorites because well, who doesn’t like pizza! I use a store-bought whole wheat pizza crust from whole foods and top with yummy summer veggies and a blend of spices and cheeses!

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Roasted Summer Vegetable Pizza

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 prepared whole wheat pizza crust (can also try gluten-free, regular white, or cauliflower crust!)
  • ~1-2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, sliced into about 1/2 in circles, then cut in half
  • 1/3 cup frozen or fresh corn (you may use yellow, white, or sweet)
  • 1/4 medium red onion, sliced
  • 3/4 cup whole-milk shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup fresh feta cheese
  • Seasonings: garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, red pepper flakes
  • hummus

Directions

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

If you are using frozen corn, thaw first, if using fresh there is no need to prep. Toss your zucchini, corn, and sliced onion in about 1-2 Tbsp canola oil, black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder (use as much as you like, or you may switch up the seasonings). Roast your veggies in the oven for about 15 minutes or until they are slightly brown and caramelized. Once your veggies have cooked, top your pizza crust with the veggies and 2 different types of cheese. Top with a little extra garlic powder and a pinch of red pepper flake.

*FYI: Red pepper flakes pack a BIG kick in a very little amount, so unless you want your mouth on fire, I caution you from using to much!

Bake your pizza in the oven for ~15 minutes or until the bottom and edges of your crust are a golden brown and have nice, crispy feel. Allow your pizza 5-10 minutes to cool before slicing and digging in! Again, I topped mine with a little fresh hummus, but you can omit that if you’d like. Enjoy!

How about a burger? Burgers are a perfect summertime food, but I tend to be partial to vegetarian versions. This recipe is for my Spinach Feta Black Bean Burgers which I actually came up with a few years ago when I was in college! These were so easy and can be made in advance and frozen for later use!

Black beans are a great source of fiber and can be used as a protein for those who choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. They are creamy in texture and can provide a “meaty” flavor when used for vegetarian burgers!

Spinach Feta Black Bean Burger

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed to get ride of any extra seasoning or liquid that they may be sitting in
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 + 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2-3/4 (eyeball, about 1/2 a bag) cups frozen spinach, thawed in the microwave and pressed between paper towels to squeeze out water

Directions

In a large bowl, mash your black beans with a fork until they are fairly smooth. Add the rest of your ingredients and combine well (get your hands dirty — this works best!).

Divide your mixture into 4, forming individual patties. You can wrap and freeze the other 3 to use at another time if you are only cooking for yourself. Cook on medium heat either on a grill or stove-top in a pan with a little cooking spray. Each side should take about 3-4 minutes. Be sure to press down your burger a little when you flip it over! Each side should get a little golden brown. If you still have some of the mixture seeping out of the sides if you push down lightly, cook for a few minutes longer. When finished, top with whatever toppings you like, add your bun, and you are done! I used a little sprinkle of mozzarella cheese, a few extra leaves of spinach, a tsp of dijon mustard, and whole-wheat bread as my bun. Lettuce leaves works well too!

Hope you try one of these out, and of course let me know what you think!

 


Simple Turkey Burger w/ Roasted Veg

Let the Whole 30 recipes continue! Happy hump everyone! Today is day 9 of my Whole 30 journey, and I have to say this is definitely the best recipe yet. I take full credit for this one. It began as a “wing it” recipe that turned into probably my favorite so far in this process! The turkey burger is super simple, but very flavorful and filling. I have been having a hard time feeling full (odd right since I’m eating way more protein and fat than usual?) so this burger came at the perfect time!

For my side, I stuck with simple and delicious. Roasted cauliflower and potato with garlic and herbs. Take a head of cauliflower and break it apart with a small knife. Dice your potatoes into about 1-1 1/2 in chunks. Toss your cauliflower and potatoes in a little olive oil with salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried thyme, and 1 smashed garlic clove. You can also add 1/4 of a diced onion or sprinkle a little onion powder over the top. Roast in the oven on a greased baking sheet for 30-35 minutes at 400 degrees. Delicious!


For my main dish, the burger, I did’t use a bun but you could always use two portobello mushroom caps for a little heartier meal or wrap in lettuce. I topped min with a few slices of avocado and a little roasted garlic salsa (yes, I have been putting salsa on EVERYTHING!). You can add other herbs or spices to your burger to change the flavor as you desire. This is a great base for any veggie or starch side and is minimal in ingredients! As my binder, I chose to use almond meal. If you find that your burgers seem a little too wet, add an additional Tbsp or so to the quantity I provide. I hope you try and enjoy these delicious burgers!

Simple Turkey Burger

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup almond meal (may need to adjust as needed)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (depending on size), minced
  • seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried basil, dried Italian herb blend (may sub oregano) — season to taste. I never measure my seasonings, but I would recommend no less than 1 tsp of the herbs and garlic powder!
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil or olive oil spray
  • toppings of choices

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients with your hands. Carefully incorporate your almond meal to help take away some of the moisture from the ground turkey. Please feel free to add more almond meal if you cannot properly handle the meat or if it is just too sticky to form a patty. It should still be a little sticky regardless (that’s why they are so moist!).

Separate your meat mixture into approximately 4 servings (the burgers will be a good size; if looking for “slider” size, you can separate into 6-7 smaller burgers instead). Once you have formed your patties, either place on the grill or in a heated stove-top pan with a little olive oil or cooking spray for about 4-6 minutes per side. You may need to flip more than once to assure both sides are cooked through. Allow patties to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!