Tag Archives: healthy alternatives

White Bean and Kale Soup

Soup makes us feel good. It’s warm. Filling. Easy to make. This soup especially is extra healthy as well, so you are basically firing on all cylinders.

Don’t let the kale scare you either – you aren’t going to notice the taste and if a pair of young kids will eat it… you should be fine too!

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced (the celery stalks… at midnight)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 (6 inch) sprigs of rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped, stems reserved (use half of the rosemary if you don’t want this taste to be super strong).
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cans of chickpeas
  • 2 cups chopped kale or other winter green (radish greens, chard, spinach, etc.)
  • 1 ½ tsp miso paste
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to
  • Fresh parsley for garnish

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add the sliced garlic and fry, stirring, until golden brown. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Add the onion to the oil and fry until transparent. Then add the carrots, celery, bay leaves and rosemary stems and fry for a couple of minutes until the vegetables are slightly softened.

Add the stock and beans, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Use an immersion blender to blend some of the beans, being careful to avoid the bay and rosemary, until you reach the consistency you want. Add the chopped rosemary leaves and kale (or other winter green), cover the pot and simmer until the kale is soft.

Remove the pot from the heat, ladle about half a cup of the soup into a bowl and add the miso paste. Stir well to dissolve then add it back into the soup along with the lemon juice. Taste and add salt and pepper, the quantity will depend on how salty your stock and miso paste are – I didn’t add any to mine.

Remove the bay and rosemary stems and serve, garnished with the reserved crispy fried garlic and fresh parsley.

Bean and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers. A great comfort food that is both healthy and high and protein, this vegetarian alternative does a wonderful job of filling out a similar taste, texture, and nutritional profile.

Your salsa choice makes a big impact of the flavor in these, so make sure to try different kinds.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 large red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, halved, seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup salsa (I like Ms. Renfro’s salsa, you can find it in most ethnic food aisles)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup  whole kernel corn, drained

Stuffed pepper toppers:

  • 1 avocado (or guacamole)
  • fresh lime juice
  • hot sauce
  • cilantro, chopped (tastes like soap, but I know some of you out there love it!)
  • diced red or sweet onion

Directions:
Add quinoa and vegetable stock to a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy – about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease/spray baking dish.

Brush halved peppers oil of your choice (extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, etc).

Add cooked quinoa (follow instructions on package) to a large mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients (DO NOT include stuff pepper toppers ingredients). Mix to thoroughly combine then taste and adjust seasonings accordingly, adding salt, pepper, or more spices as desired.

Generously stuff halved peppers with quinoa mixture until all peppers are full, then cover the dish with foil.

Bake for 30 minutes covered. Then remove foil, increase heat to 400 degrees and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until peppers are soft and slightly golden brown.

Add toppers of your choice. I personally prefer guacamole and spicy salsa!

Enjoy yo!

Overnight Quinoa Oatmeal

We are going to supercharge your normal overnight steel cut oat recipe with extra protein and nutrients! This is a great recipe that has a variety of options that allow you to drastically change the flavor profile. Also are included are directions to cook and eat instantly, ’cause ain’t nobody got time to wait all night for their food…

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup large flaked gluten free rolled oats
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 scoop vanilla protien powder
  • 3 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 cup sweetener (pure honey, maple syrup, or agave)
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon ground chia
  • 1 cup raspberries OR 1 cup blueberries
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • Optional Toppings: almond butter, almonds, seeds, dried fruits, fresh fruits (we love bananas), etc

Directions (for overnight oats):

Prepare your quinoa according to package directions. In a medium bowl combine oats, quinoa, protein powder, chia seeds, cinnamon, and sweetner of choice and stir to combine. Add in mashed banana, berries, and peaches. Pour in almond milk, and mix ingredients together. Place in the fridge and leave overnight.

In the morning, remove from the fridge, heat on the stove top or in the microwave, or enjoy cold! If you find the mixture is too thick in the morning just add in some extra almond milk.

Directions if eating immediately:

Prepare your quinoa and steel cut oats according to package directions. Mix the quinoa into the oats along with all of your fruit, chia and sweetener. Add almond butter or other toppings. We love fresh bananas and almond butter!

Vegetarian Chickpea Caeser Salad

Everyone always thinks SALAD when they think vegetarian meals. Well, this time we are actually gonna prove ’em right and eat some salad!

caesar salad

Basically what you are doing is supplementing chickpeas in place of chicken and croutons. And replacing the cheese with nuts. You are going to have a very similar taste profile, but in a more healthy package.

This is a complicated recipe, but it’s delicious and totally worth it when you are sitting down to eat.

Ingredients:

Roasted Chickpea Croutons:
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (add more as needed)
Caesar Dressing (makes 3/4-1 cup):
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 2 tsp capers
  • 1/2 salt
Nut and Seed Parmesan Cheese:
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 2 tbsp hulled hemp seeds
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt to taste
Greens:
  • 1 small bag of kale/spinach mix
  • 2 small heads romaine lettuce (10 cups chopped)

Directions:

Soak your cashews in a bowl of water overnight, trust me on this one. Drain and rinse when done.

Next you’ll roast your chickpea “croutons”: Preheat oven to 400°F. Drain and rinse chickpeas. Place chickpeas in a paper towel and rub dry. Place onto large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle on oil and roll around to coat. Sprinkle on the garlic powder, salt, and cayenne. Make sure they are evenly coated. Roast for 20 minutes at 400°F, then gently roll the chickpeas around in the baking sheet. Roast for another 10-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Dressing is next. Add the cashews and all other dressing ingredients (except salt) into a high-speed blender, and blend on high until the dressing is smooth. You can add a splash of water if necessary to get it blending. Add salt to taste and adjust other seasonings, if desired. Set aside.

Now we are doing our Parmesan “cheese”: Add cashews and garlic into food processor and process until finely chopped. Add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse until the mixture is combined. Salt to taste.

Lastly lets throw it all together. Add dressing onto greens and toss until fully coated. Season with a pinch of salt and mix again. Now sprinkle on the roasted chickpeas and the Parmesan cheese.

Consume immediately.

Strawberry Poppy Seed Chicken Salad

This is a great spring inspired salad that has delicious sweet and savory flavor profile from the fruit and chicken. This recipe is a knockoff of the popular Panera Salad, for that “I want to go out to Panera” taste, without the “I just spent 14 bucks for a salad and a drink at Panera” feel…

You can adjust your protein/veg/fruit levels to your liking.

Ingredients:(for one salad)

  • 1 chicken breast per salad (or half a chicken breast depending on hunger levels)
  • sweet onion chopped finely
  • fresh strawberries
  • fresh blueberries
  • almond slices
  • Panera Poppyseed Salad Dressing (use sparingly, as the cals from this can add up)
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 mixed salad bag or salad green of your choice (I prefer fresh spinach)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

Season chicken breast(s) with olive oil, salt and pepper. Sear in a skillet over medium high heat for 3 minutes per side and then turn heat to medium low, cover the skillet with a lid or foil, and cook for 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, and then chop into bite sized pieces.

Chop cucumbers. Chop strawberries. Chop onion. Add all of your greens to a plate, top with your chicken and fruit. Remember, a little fruit and dressing go a long way, so use it sparingly!

Eat salad.

Selfishly count all the money you saved from eating at home instead of going out!

Chicken Nugget w/ Spicy Dipping Sauce

Chicken and veggies. The bastion of everyone when they start eating healthy, and for many of us, a regular menu item as our healthy eating journey continues.

Variety is the spice of life, and this chicken nugget recipe is a great compromise between healthy and naughty food and one that your entire family will love.

If you are counting calories, keep an eye on how much sauce you are using as it can get you into trouble!

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 pounds of chicken
  • whole wheat italian bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 425. Cut up chicken into bite sized pieces, and season with salt and pepper. Coat chicken with olive oil and dredge in the bread crumbs to thinly coat. Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Put some foil down on your cookie sheets (you’ll need 2) and spray them with cooking spray to save you some clean up time.

Bake nuggets for 10 minutes, flip and bake for another 10 minutes or until cooked through.

Spicy dipping sauce:

  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 4 tbsp scallions, chopped fine plus more for topping
  • 3 tbsp Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
  • 2 tsp Sriracha (or to taste)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and use for dipping your nugge…ys.

Top salad greens with your chicken nuggets and a little bit of the sauce. Serve with cut up veggies for your kiddos!

sloppy joes with carrot noodles

I loooove sloppy joes. Definitely one of my big comfort foods and something I’ve loved ever since I was a shorty.

These days I eat very little grain, so no buns (but you could definitely toss this on a bun for disagreeable spouses or children), but with all the added veggies this really makes a great meal.

Plus a ton less sodium, sugar, and preservatives compared to the canned stuff!

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pepper (red/green/yellow)
  • 2 large onion
  • 2 pound ground turkey
  • 1.5 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup coconut aminos or soy sauce (to taste)
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 bag carrot noodles (you can also use zucchini noodles)

Directions:

Bring a large skillet up to medium heat. Add in your coconut/olive oil along with diced pepper and onions. You’ll want to saute them for about five minutes or until they become translucent.

Add in your ground turkey and break up with spatula. Cook until brown. Add coconut aminos/soy sauce, ketchup, and tomato paste. Add in your salt and garlic powder. Stir to mix it all up.

Let cook on low heat for 20 minutes. This is one of those recipes where you can let it simmer for an hour and it will really help to bring the flavors out!

For the carrot noodles, follow the directions on the box (basically just saute them with a bit of salt, pepper, and garlic powder).

Serve your sloppy joes over your bed of carrot noodles and enjoy!

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

David’s note – don’t let the length of this recipe intimidate you! It is AMAZING and easy for ANYONE to prepare.

This recipe is essentially a healthier version of a Chipotle burrito bowl that uses cauliflower rice instead of rice or a wrapper.

Nearly everyone who has tried this recipe loves it and rotates it into their normal eating schedule, so put on your adult pants and give it a try!

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
  • 16 oz of salsa, plus extra for topping
  • Cauliflower rice (available at Trader Joe’s-either fresh or frozen, but we prefer fresh)
  • 3 Bell Peppers, sliced
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced
  • Olive Oil
  • Optional Guacamole:
  • Avocados
  • Garlic Salt
  • Salsa

Mash avocado and add garlic salt/salsa to taste! Mash less if you like chunky guac or just cut into chunks and mix. Add lime juice or fruit fresh to keep from browning if you want to make a big batch. We make this fresh each time we eat but you can definitely do it ahead of time!

  • Optional Corn Salsa
  • 1 small can of corn
  • 1 jalepeno, chopped finely (leave this out if you don’t like spicy food)
  • 1 small can green chilies
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped finely
  • Cilantro if desired.

Drain corn, and mix other ingredients in a small bowl. For spicier salsa, leave the seeds in your jalepeno!

Directions:

Put chicken and salsa in the crock pot. Cook on high for 4 hours OR low for 7-8 hours. Shred chicken and drain liquid.

In a skillet over medium high heat, sauté your peppers and onions in a tiny bit of olive oil – let them sit for 3/5 minutes at a time without stirring to caramelize.

Sautee Cauliflower rice in a bit of olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir for 3/4 minutes or until softened-I like mine to have a tiny bit of crunch still for texture.

Layer cauliflower rice, peppers and onions, chicken (and corn salsa/guac if desired) in a bowl and top with salsa!

NOTES: If you want this to last longer or have a big family, make 5 pounds of chicken and use 24 oz of salsa (1.5 jars).

TIPS FOR KIDS/FAMILIES: This recipe is REALLY kid friendly, but if your kids/spouses balk at cauliflower rice, make them a batch of brown rice OR buy a bag of whole wheat tortillas – they can put the filling in there and have fajita “tacos.”

Buy an extra can of corn (or set some aside) for kids or spouses that don’t like spicy food.

Thanks to Melissa Keith for the recipe testing and assistance!

Frozen Banana Dark Chocolate Drizzle

If you’re like me, sometimes you really, REALLY,  miss having ice cream every night as a snack. I mean, ice cream in all it’s forms is amazing.

But you’re eating healthy now, so that stuff is a no go!

These dark chocolate banana slices will go a long way to satisfy your sweet tooth, are super easy, AND are lower calorie than the store bought ones (because you are drizzling, and not dipping).

Ingredients:

  • fresh bananas
  • bakers heat and dip dipping chocolate

Directions:

Peel banana. Slice banana into roughly 8-10 round slices.

Place slice bananas on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper.

Dip a spoon into your dark chocolate tub and swiftly move back and forth to cover bananas.

Put your bananas into the freezer and wait approximately and hour. If you like them a bit softer you can eat them after they’ve been in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

Try to stick to 4 slices per serving as a guideline – if not it’s WAY too easy to eat a whole bunch of these at one time!

 

Turkey Meatloaf Cups

These are a staple in my diet. They are super easy. Freeze amazingly. Reheat more amazingly. And are tasty enough that even your kids or spouse… who may not be on the same healthy eating train as you are will still enjoy em!

Ingredients: (makes 24 meatloaf muffins)

  • 3 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, cut into small chunks
  • 3 ribs celery from the heart of the stalk, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg plus a splash of low fat milk (or plain almond milk), beaten
  • 1.5 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoons Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick
  • 1 cup smoky barbecue sauce (the lower the sugar on your bbq, the healthier it will be!)
  • 1/2 cup tomato salsa
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Put ground turkey into a big bowl. Chop onion, celery and green pepper and add to the bowl. Add egg, beaten with milk, bread crumbs and grill seasoning to the bowl.

Next, mix together the smoky barbecue sauce, the salsa and the Worcestershire sauce. Pour half the sauce mixture into the bowl with the meatloaf mix. Mix the meatloaf together with your hands. Wash up.

Spray your muffin pans with cooking spray. Use an ice cream scoop to help you fill meat into a each tin. Top each meat loaf with a spoonful of extra sauce. Bake about 20 minutes. Cut open 1 muffin to test that the middle is cooked through.