Fresh, Easy Spring Meals

The past two weeks have been absolutely beautiful weather wise.  So much so that I’ve really been craving fresh, springtime meals.

When strawberries are in abundance (which they were thanks to my CSA with Lazy Eight Stock Farm), making strawberry yogurt is a no brainer.  No need to buy store bought strawberry flavored yogurt with added sugar and other questionable ingredients when you can easily make your own Strawberry Greek Yogurt.

When spring veggies are easily accessible from your local farmer, fresh and easy meal are doable in about 20 minutes. This is particularly true when you add other quick ingredients like whole grains and cheese.  That’s exactly what you’ll get with the Couscous Lemon Salad with Spinach Feta and Asparagus.

Another meal that deserves some talk time is the Buttermilk Oat Soaked Pancakes.  These are consumed quite often on weekends at my house.  However, let us not forget that breakfast for dinner is always a good idea.  This go round, I substituted buttermilk for regular milk.  Buttermilk helps keep pancakes light and fluffy, and it adds a slight tang to the batter that goes great with pure maple syrup.

Hope Something Makes Your Belly Smile…


Snacks

Strawberry Greek Yogurt


½ c. organic Greek yogurt (alternative: organic plain yogurt)
4-5 organic strawberries
1 t. local honey (alternative: 2-3 drops of organic stevia)
A few drops of organic vanilla extract

Directions: To a single serving bowl, add the strawberries and mash them with a fork.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir.  Sweeten to taste with a bit more honey, if needed.  Enjoy!


Carrot Cake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

 
Adapted from Amy’s Healthy Baking

Dry Ingredients:
1 c. instant oats (measured correctly – good read to refresh your measuring skills)
¾ c. whole wheat white flour (measured correctly)
1 ½ t. baking powder
1 ½ t. cinnamon
1/4 t. sea salt

Wet Ingredients:
2 T. coconut oil (alternative: unsalted organic butter)
1 large organic egg, room temperature
1 t. organic vanilla extract
½ c. pure maple syrup
¾ c. organic carrots, super finely grated
¼ c. organic raisins

Directions: In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  In a larger bowl, stir together the wet ingredient.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring just until combined. Cool in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Scoop cookies into 15-16 rounded mounds on a silicone lined baking sheet or baking stone.  Bake for 12-15 minutes. Edges will be slightly browned.  Allow to cool before eating or they tend to fall apart.


Kale Egg and Rye Bread Bake 

(Don’t judge it with your eyes. Your taste buds will thank you.)

 

adapted from The Nutritionist Reviews

1/2 loaf whole wheat rye bread, cut into bite sized chunks
2 c. organic kale, roughly chopped or organic bagged kale (I have used organic baby kale too)
1 1/2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped OR 1 (14 oz.) can organic diced tomatoes, strained of excess juices
1 small yellow onion chopped or 2-3 chopped green onion or scallions (Carly: added)
5 eggs (Carly: 2 whole eggs plus 4 egg whites)
1/4 c. organic milk
1 c. organic plain Greek yogurt
1-2 cloves crushed garlic
1 t. dried dill
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
1/3 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
Salsa, optional topping
hot sauce, optional topping
organic plain Greek yogurt, optional topping

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a 9×12 baking dish, mix together the kale, tomatoes, onion, and bread.  In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, yogurt, garlic, dill, black pepper, and garlic powder.  Evenly pour the liquid over the kale mixture.  Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until the egg mixture has firmed up (it shouldn’t jiggle when you wiggle the pan).  Remove from the oven and evenly top with the Parmesan cheese.  You could eat it as is…or, you could add some salsa and/or a few dashes of hot sauce. If you’re feeling really adventurous, add a dollop of Greek yogurt along with the salsa and/or hot sauce.


Couscous Lemon Salad with Spinach Feta and Asparagus

 adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

1 c. Israeli Couscous (alternative: whole wheat orzo pasta)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. olive oil
8 asparagus spears, cut into 1 inch pieces
Sea salt/pepper, freshly ground
1 c. fresh organic spinach
1 large lemon, halved
1/3 c. feta cheese

Directions:  Cook couscous according to package directions in salted water.  Drain when done (reserve a cup of the cooking water).  While the couscous cooks, warm a skillet to near medium heat.  Add olive oil and garlic.  Cook until you can smell the garlic.  Add the asparagus and saute for 5 minutes before adding the spinach.  Stir until the spinach begins to wilt.  Squeeze the lemon over the top and toss the asparagus mixture.  To a large serving bowl, combine the cooked couscous, asparagus mixture and feta cheese.  Add 1/2 cup or more of the couscous cooking water and stir to create a bit of a sauce. Season with salt and pepper and give a final squeeze of lemon.  Serve immediately.


Quick Buttermilk Oat Soaked Pancakes


2 c. homemade buttermilk (add 2 T. of white vinegar or lemon juice to organic milk and allow to sit 5 minutes)
2 c. organic rolled oats
2 organic eggs (alternatives: 1 whole egg + 1 egg white OR flax eggs*)
1 t. organic vanilla extract
1 T. local honey, preferably raw
½ c. white whole wheat flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
½ t. sea salt
½ t. cinnamon (optional)

Directions: In a large bowl, add the homemade buttermilk.  Stir in the oats, eggs, vanilla, and honey.  Allow to sit at least 5 minutes.  In a smaller bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Gently stir to combine, being careful not to over stir.  Lightly grease the skillet with an oil of your choosing (we like coconut oil or organic butter).  Top with pure maple syrup or a thin layer of creamy almond butter.

Serve with uncured bacon or preservative free turkey bacon.

Note: Makes 10 pancakes using a 1/3 c. measuring scoop)

*Flax eggs are great substitutes to eggs if you’re vegan or you just prefer not to use eggs.  To make flax eggs, stir together 3 T. of water and 1 T. ground flax seed.  Allow to rest 5 minutes.  (When baking, I’ve found that substituting up to 3 flax eggs works great.  Using more than 3 flax eggs can result in disaster).


Balsamic Watermelon Chicken Salad


Adapted from Pinch of Yum

1 c. balsamic vinegar
1 T. organic coconut palm sugar (alternative: 4-5 drops of organic stevia)
1 lb. organic boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 T. Trader Joe’s 21 Season Salute (alternative: other multi-season blend)
1 T. olive oil
4 c. organic baby spinach or other organic greens
2 c. cubed watermelon
½ c. blue cheese crumbles (alternative: Feta cheese)
¼ c. sliced or crushed almonds (alternative: pine nuts)

Directions: In a small saucepan, add the balsamic vinegar and coconut palm sugar.  Bring to a low boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Allow to simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  It will reduce by about one-half and thicken to a maple syrup consistency.

Tip: Put the cut watermelon in a strainer while preparing the salad to drain some of the excess liquid.

While the vinegar is simmering, season both sides of the chicken with the dry seasoning.  Pan sear or grill until cooked thoroughly.  Remove the chicken from the heat.  Cover and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes.  Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.

To a large serving bowl, layer the spinach, watermelon, chicken, cheese and nuts.  Drizzle with the balsamic reduction to taste.

Another tip: Double the recipe to serve 6-8 people.

Do you CSA?

Have you ever thought about joining a C.S.A. (community supported agriculture)? Now is the time.  For this upcoming season, I’ve teamed up with Lazy Eight Stock Farm.  Many of the Ingredients from my weekly CSA share will be built into the meal plans. Lazy Eight Stock Farm’s produce is certified organic – how great is that!?!  It’s not to late to join – check them out here.

A few words about the menu this week…

If you’ve never tried chocolate pudding with an avocado base, you aren’t living!  The avocado is undetectable – promise. However, the incredibly smooth, creamy, and down right delicious chocolate and banana flavor is unmistakable.  In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, avocados are good for you – packed with tons of nutrients and healthy fat.

The other snack is a salted chocolate oatmeal raisin cookie! Good quality dark chocolate, honey, and sea salt make these soooo good.  Get used to seeing these on weeatforreal.com.  They are staples for us.

The zoodle recipe is another one you’ve gotta try.  You’ll need a Spiralizer or Zoodler to make the zucchini noodles (aka zoodles).  This fascinating gadget used to be a bit difficult to find.  These days, you can find them just about anywhere – Kroger, Walmart, Target…  The Spiralizer also has tons of other uses like apple chips, easy coleslaw, and shoestring sweet potatoes to name a few!

The last dish you should definitely add to your repertoire is the Creamy Poppy Seed Strawberry & Avocado Spinach Salad. The creaminess from the avocados and the tangy dressing go together beautifully.  Serve it with grilled chicken and dinner is ready in no time!

Snacks

Salted Chocolate Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

IMG_5926

adapted from Clean Eating Magazine

Dry Ingredients:
1 ¼ c old-fashioned oats
½ c whole white wheat flour
1 T. ground flax seed
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. baking powder
¼ t. coarse sea salt (preferably Himalayan pink salt)

Wet Ingredients:
¼ c.+1/8 c. honey
1 organic cage free egg white
2 T. creamy, salted almond butter (or your preferred nut butter)
2 t. organic vanilla extract

Stir in Ingredients:
¼ c. clean dark chocolate, roughly chopped (my favorite is liberty chocolates)
¼ c. organic raisins

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix. Gently stir in chocolate & raisins. Scoop rounded tablespoon size servings onto a baking stone or lined cookie sheet. Cook 9 to 10 min. (Do not over cook. They will be soft and gooey, until they have cooled a bit). Allow to cool on the baking sheet/cooling stone. Makes approximately 16 cookies.

Try to eat just one – dare ya!


Chocolate Banana Avocado (Shhh!) Pudding 

adapted from The Nourishing Gourmet

2 avocados (quick tutorial for cutting an avocado)
2 ripe bananas
1/4 c. honey (preferably local or raw honey)
1/4 to 1/2  c. raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
1 T. organic milk (or almond milk)
1 t. organic vanilla extract
¼  t. sea salt

Directions: Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor. Process until smooth and creamy.   Serve immediately.

Take delicious to decadence by adding 1 tablespoon of creamy almond butter (or other nut butter) to individual servings. Trust me, it’s lose your mind good!


Dinners

One Skillet Grown Up Mac N Cheese 

adapted from DietHood

2 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
pinch of sea salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh organic tomatoes, diced (option: 1 can organic diced tomatoes, liquid strained)
1 bag (8 to 10 ounces) organic baby spinach
½-cup feta cheese, shredded (goat cheese would make a great alternative)
½-cup organic white cheddar cheese, shredded
¼-cup organic mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 cups 100% whole wheat pasta elbow macaroni or other small pasta
1 cup organic vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
½ t.  21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe’s (any other multi-seasoning blend will work)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions: Heat a large, non-stick skillet to medium heat.  Add olive oil, onion, and sea salt.  Cook until softened (about 5 minutes).  Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).  Immediately add the remaining ingredients and stir.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Stir one more time before adding a lid/cover.  Every 5 minutes, remove lid and stir.  Cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until pasta is cooked to your desired doneness (is that a word??).  Season with salt/pepper to taste.

Serve with pan seared chicken sausage.


Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin Bread French Toast

6 organic, cage free eggs  (if that many yolks make you nervous, do 3 whole eggs + 3 egg white)
½ c. organic milk (or almond milk)
1/8 c. organic half and half
sea salt
1 t. organic vanilla extract
¼ t. ground nutmeg
10 slices Ezekiel cinnamon raisin bread
Pure maple syrup
preservative free bacon

Directions:  Warm a nonstick skillet or griddle to low/medium heat.  In a medium bowl, thoroughly whisk the eggs, milk, half and half, sea salt, vanilla, and nutmeg.  Soak bread for about 30 seconds on each side in the egg mixture.  Add a little less than a tablespoon of your preferred nonstick oil or butter to the skillet/griddle.  (We like organic butter or organic coconut oil).  Allow bread to cook about 3 minutes on each side. Serve topped with pure maple syrup.

Tip:  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Add cooked pieces to the oven to keep warm until all slices are done.

Serve with preservative free bacon.


Creamy Poppy Seed Strawberry & Avocado Spinach Salad 

IMG_6029

adapted from The Recipe Critic

Salad:
6 oz. organic baby spinach
1 c. fresh organic strawberries, sliced
2 large avocados, cut into cubes (quick tutorial for cutting an avocado)
¼ c. pine nuts
¼ c. feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing:
⅓ c. mayonnaise or organic Greek Yogurt (or do a combo of both)
¼ c. organic milk
5-6 organic Stevia drops or (2 t. honey)
4 t. apple cider vinegar
2 t. poppy seeds

Directions:  For the dressing, add all ingredients to a jar with a lid and shake! Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.  For the salad…well, make a salad by adding all ingredients to a serving bowl.  Pour about 1/2 of the dressing over the top and mix.  Reserve the remaining dressing for those who like more dressing.  We typically have leftover dressing that is stored in the fridge for later use.

Serve with grilled or pan seared organic chicken breasts.


One Skillet Turkey Bolognese with Zoodles (Spiralized Zucchini Noodles)

 adapted from Rachel Cooks

Note: (a large skillet or stock pot is recommended)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/8 to 1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1 lb. ground turkey (If using extra lean turkey, increase olive oil to 2.5 T)
Sea salt/pepper
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 large or two small organic carrots, shredded
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
28 oz. can organic whole peeled Marzano tomatoes (Marzano tomatoes are the best!)
1 (14.5 oz.) can organic diced tomatoes
1 T. dried oregano
1 t. coconut palm sugar OR 6-8 drops of organic stevia extract
1/2 c. fresh basil, rough chopped
6 organic zucchini, zoodled using a spiralizer (If you don’t have a Spiralizer, you are missing out!)
Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions: Heat skillet or stock pot to medium heat.  Add olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet.  Add the red pepper flakes to flavor the oil.  Allow to cook for about a minute before adding the turkey.  With a wooden spoon, break the turkey into tiny pieces.  Season turkey with salt/pepper.  Cook until no longer pink (about 7 minutes).  Add the onion and carrots.  Cook until the vegetables are softened (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and allow it too cook for about a minute (or until really fragrant).  Immediately add the tomatoes, oregano, and coconut palm sugar or stevia.  Break up the whole tomatoes with the spoon.  Bring the sauce to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes – uncovered.  (This will allow some of the liquid to cook out).  Add the zucchini.  Use tongs to gently mix the zucchini into the sauce.  Allow zucchini to cook until slightly softened (approximately 5 minutes).  Stir in the fresh basil and a sprinkling of cheese.  Plate and finish with a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil and a bit more Parmesan cheese.


Hope something makes your belly smile!

If you’re here for the first time…welcome! If you’re returning…let’s get to the kitchen.

This week has, quite possibly, the easiest muffin to make – ever.  Throw it all in the blender, stir in some blueberries, and bake.  Super easy!

If you’re looking for super fast meals, go for the Easy Caprese Salad or One Skillet Fajitas. Fast, easy, delicious!! These are staples in our house.  They will make weekly appearances here often.

The Pesto Quiche is a versatile dish.  Options are nearly endless with this one.  You can switch out any of the veggies or add a few of your favorites, and you can even get crazy and make your own crust. A fast recipe is here for that too.  If you go with a store bought crust, it’s just a matter of mixing a few ingredients and pouring them into the pre-made crust to bake.

Another favorite is the Cheesy Polenta With Peppers & Chicken Sausage. It’s sooo good and easy.  It’s great for entertaining too!

Snacks

Blueberry Almond Butter Banana Muffins
adapted from Buns in My Oven

1 medium very ripe banana (if a ripe is not available, increase the maple syrup to 1/3 c.)
1 organic egg
1/2 c. creamy, salted almond butter (or other nut butter)
½ t. cinnamon
1/4 c. rolled organic oats (not steel cut)
1/8 c. whole white wheat flour
1/4 c. pure maple syrup
2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 c. organic blueberries, fresh or frozen

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a heavy duty blender or food processor, add all ingredients except the blueberries. Blend until smooth and creamy. Carefully stir in the blueberries. Fill silicone muffin cups (or greased muffin pan) ¾ full and bake 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool before removing from muffin cups/pan.


Dinners

Spinach Eggplant & Feta Quinoa
adapted from Julia’s Album

1 large eggplant, remove skins and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 T. olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
1 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bag, organic fresh spinach
1 and 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1/4 c. feta cheese, crumbled

Directions: Preheat the oven to 420 degrees (bake, not convection). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with the olive oil and salt/pepper. Transfer eggplant to the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and softened (flip them over at the the halfway mark with a spatula). While the eggplant roasts, warm a skillet to low-medium heat. Add the olive oil and stir in the garlic. Allow to cook for about a minute (it will be very fragrant). Immediately add the spinach and continuously toss the spinach and garlic mixture with tongs until the spinach has wilted and is bright green. Remove from the heat (do not just turn off the burner or you will over cook the garlic). Once the eggplant has finished roasting, add it, the cooked quinoa, and feta to the cooling skillet. Stir mixture and taste. Feta is salty, and so it may be seasoned to your preference as is. Otherwise, add salt/pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Time saving tip: If you don’t have some leftover quinoa waiting to be eaten, don’t worry.  Prepare some according to package directions after you put the eggplant in the oven.


Easy Caprese Salad with Grilled Chicken
adapted from Savory Sweet Life

2 pints organic cheery or grape tomatoes, halved
16 oz. fresh “mini” mozzarella pearls, halved
6-8 T. olive oil
Big bunch basil leaves (18+ leaves), finely chopped or get fancy and chiffonade
½ to 1 t. sea salt
½ to 1 t. freshly ground pepper
Balsamic reduction, optional (easy recipe below)

Directions: In a medium bowl, gently toss the tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Finish with a drizzling of balsamic glaze (optional). Serve immediately.

Serve with pan seared organic chicken breasts

Balsamic Reduction:
1 c. store bought balsamic vinegar
4-5 drops organic stevia drops (optional)

Directions: In a small sauce pan, add the balsamic vinegar and stevia.  Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer until it has reduced by one-half (about 30 minutes), stirring occasionally.  It’s done when it is thick enough to coat a wooden spoon.


One Skillet Chicken Fajitas

For the Fajitas:
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 medium onion, sliced
2-3 large organic bell pepper, seeded/sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 (15 ounce) can organic fire roasted diced tomatoes OR (3-4 chopped medium, fresh tomatoes)
Note: if using fresh tomatoes, add ¼ c. of salsa
2 t. cumin
1 t. paprika
sea salt/pepper
whole wheat tortillas (idea: Ezekiel brand tortillas)

Optional Fajita Fillers:
canned organic black beans, drained & rinsed
organic shredded cheese
organic Greek yogurt or sour cream
salsa
avocado, sliced

Directions: Warm a skillet to medium heat. Season all sides of the chicken with salt, pepper, and paprika. Add the olive oil and chicken. Cook until the chicken is browned on all slides (about 5-6 minutes). Add onions and green peers, cooking until the peppers are softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about a minute, but not much more) before adding all remaining ingredients. Tomatoes will sizzle in the skillet. Reduce heat to a simmer. Allow some liquid to cook out (about 10 minutes). Season with salt/pepper to taste. Serve fajita mixture with whole wheat tortillas and your favorite fajita fillers. Enjoy!


Pesto Quiche with Sun Dried Tomatoes
adapted from Gracious Pantry

1 pre-made whole wheat pie crust (no added sugar) or make your own…

Olive Oil Pasty Dough (adapted from Spicie Foodie):
2 c. whole white wheat flour
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. cold water (may need 1-2 more T. of water to get the right consistency to form a ball)
1/4 t. sea salt

Directions: In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and salt.  Add the water and oil.  Mix with a fork until it begins to come together. (You may need to add water by the tablespoon to get the right consistency) Finish by forming the dough into a ball with your hands.  Rest the dough in the refrigerator while prepping the quiche filling.

Quiche Filling:
1 c. frozen organic spinach
1 c. frozen broccoli, roughly chopped
16 oz. carton of organic egg whites
1 c. shredded organic cheese (cheddar or mozzarella)
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1 T. Trader Joe’s 21 Season Salute spice
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. (generous) sun dried tomatoes (not “packed in oil”)
1 T. pesto (I like Trader Joe’s jarred pesto)
1/2 c. diced mushrooms (optional)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced

Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Press the dough into a pie pan with your fingers. In a large bowl, mix together all quiche ingredients.  Pour the filling into the pie pan. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the egg mixture is solid – even when cut with a knife.  Allow to cool 5 minutes before slicing.  Consider finishing with a dollop of organic Greek yogurt and a dash or two of hot sauce.  Salsa also makes a great topping.

Serve with organic bagged salad


Cheesy Polenta with Bell Peppers & Chicken Sausage
adapted from BevCooks

½ c. organic milk
1 log organic polenta, cut into cubes (precision cutting unnecessary – it will be mashed)
1T. organic butter, optional
1/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan (divided), plus more for garnish
1 pinch coarse salt/ freshly ground pepper
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 pkg. preservative free chicken sausages, sliced on the bias (I like Trader Joe’s spicy Italian or Andouille style)
2 organic red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, sliced in strips
fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (divided)
Hot sauce, optional

Directions: Warm a small sauce pan to low/medium heat. Add the milk and polenta. Mash the polenta with a firm whisk or fork and then stir until creamy.  Add milk by the tablespoon if it’s too thick. If it’s too watery, don’t worry. As it continues to cook, it will thicken. Reduce heat to low and stir in one-half of the cheese and one-half of the cilantro. Allow to rest on low. If your stove top burner is too hot on low and the bottom is sticking, remove it from the heat source. It can warmed easily on low before serving.

While the polenta is resting, heat a large skillet to low/medium heat. Add the olive oil and then sausage. Cook 5-6 minutes or until hot and slightly browned on both sides. (If using precooked sausage, you just need to get it hot). Remove the sausage from the pan (retaining the olive oil and juices) and cover the sausage with foil to keep warm. Add ½ tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and then the peppers. Add some freshly cracked salt/pepper. Cook peppers until softened and slightly blackened. Return the sausage to the skillet. To the polenta, stir in the remaining cheese and cilantro. Season polenta with salt/pepper to taste. To plate, add a generous helping of polenta. Top with the sausage and peppers. Finish with a sprinkling of cilantro. If you want to spice it up, add a few dashes of hot sauce!

Hope something makes your belly smile!

Perfect? No. Functional? Yes!

How about that? The blog is up, and it’s functional.

As this point, it’s housing meal plans from week to week and not much else.  As I figure out how I want things to look/feel, things will change.  Let’s just say you’re accessing an active work in progress.  If I wait until it reaches my standards, well…it will never exist.

So without further delay [drum roll please], here are the recipes.

Hope something makes your belly smile!


Snack

Chocolate Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding
1 c. organic milk (ideas: almond milk, white milk, cashew milk)
¼ c. chia seeds
¼ c. pure maple syrup (depending on how sweet you like it)
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/8 c. to ¼ c. cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch sea salt

Directions: In a glass jar, (preferably one with a lid) add all ingredients. Shake vigorously and refrigerate overnight. When serving, add more milk by the tablespoon to obtain your desired consistency.


Dinners

Chopped Kale, Bacon and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Chicken Sausage

adapted from sugar and grace

Dressing:
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. Dijon mustard
¼ red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/8 t. sea salt
Pinch black pepper
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

Directions: In jar with a lid, add all ingredients.  Shake.

Time saving tip: double this recipe. Store unused portion in the fridge and use for another salad.

For the Salad:
½ bag organic baby kale, chopped
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, finely shredded using a mandolin or spiralized
3-4 slices preservative free turkey bacon, cooked crispy and chopped
1/4 c. almonds slivers or pine nuts
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Served with…

1 pkg. preservative free chicken sausage, pan seared


Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Frittata with Chicken Sausage

adapted from Aggies Kitchen

5 organic eggs + 3 organic egg whites
½ c. organic milk
Sea salt/black pepper, freshly ground
2 t. olive oil
½ red onion
1 organic red bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 bag organic chopped kale (or other preferred greens) roughly chopped
4 oz. goat cheese

Directions: In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and salt/pepper. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. To a nonstick skillet heated to medium heat, add the olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add the onions and bell peppers and cook until softened, stirring occasionally (about 5 minutes). Over stirring will prevent the onions from caramelizing which brings out incredibly sweetened flavor. Add the garlic and stir. Allow to cook for a minute or two at the most (just until you can really smell the garlic). Scrape the bottom of the skillet with a spatula to loosen any bits of food. Pour in the egg mixture to evenly coat the pan. Allow to cook until the eggs have firmed up around the edges. Evenly crumble the goat cheese on the top. Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes in the oven. It’s done when the eggs have firmed up in the center and the goat cheese has melted and is bubbly. Serve as is or top with a dollop of organic Greek yogurt, a few dashes of hot sauce, or maybe even a bit of salsa.

Served with…

1 pkg. preservative free chicken sausage, pan seared


Corn and Tomato Pizza

adapted from Bev Cooks

Dough

Trader Joe’s premade whole wheat dough, prepared per package directions

Pizza Toppings
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced or chopped
2-3 NON GMO sweet corn ears, shucked (OR 2 c. frozen NON GMO sweet corn)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small pkg. organic cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 c. organic mozzarella, shredded
2 oz. goat cheese
Sea salt/black pepper, freshly ground
Tabasco style hot sauce, optional topping (recommended if you omit the jalapeno)

Directions: Preheat the oven to required pizza dough temperature. In a medium/large skillet warmed to medium heat, add the olive oil and onion and jalapeno (if using). Sauté until onions are translucent (about 5-7 minutes). Add the corn and sauté another 5 minutes. The next step happens quickly because you do not want to burn the garlic! Add the garlic, stirring constantly, allow it to cook until for about a minute or until you can really smell it. Immediately squeeze the lemon over the skillet and add the cilantro. Stir in the cherry tomatoes and allow the heat to release their juices (about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat. With the dough on the pizza stone or baking sheet, add a thin layer of mozzarella cheese, followed by the corn mixture. Crumble the goat cheese atop the pizza and add the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake according to your pizza crust directions.

This is amazing –  especially with a few drops of hot sauce on each slice!!!


Indian Summer Chili (serves at least 6, if not 8)

adapted from Rachael Ray

3-4 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 lbs. ground turkey breast (not 99% fat free)
4 T. chili powder (check ingredients to avoid preservatives/fillers)
4 T. grill seasoning blend (free of preservatives/fillers: Kroger’s Grill Time Chicken)
2 T. cumin
2 T. Worcestershire sauce, optional
1 – 3 T. hot sauce, medium to extra-spicy (several ingredients add heat – start slow and add more when tasting at the end)
1 large organic onions, chopped
2 large organic green or other color peppers, chopped
1 bottle of beer (alcohol cooks out)
2 (14 or 16-ounce) cans organic tomato sauce
1 can organic diced tomatoes (I often use canned organic fire roasted tomatoes)
1 c. smoky barbecue sauce (I’ve found very few without processed sugars so I make mine – see recipe below)

plain Greek yogurt (optional topping)
crumbled organic tortilla chips (optional topping)
organic cheddar, shredded (optional topping)

Directions: Heat a large stock pot (or Dutch oven) to medium heat. Add olive oil to coat bottom of pan. Add turkey, chili powder, grill seasoning, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Mix ingredients and break up the turkey into tiny bits. Continue cooking until turkey is no longer pink (approx. 5-7 min.). Add onions and green peppers and cook until softened (about 5 min.). Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to barely simmering. Cover and allow to simmer for at least 20 min.
Note: if you double the original recipes it’s simply too spicy!!


Homemade BBQ Sauce

adapted from The Gracious Pantry

1 (15 ounce) can organic tomato sauce – no sugar added
1 (6 ounce) can organic tomato paste – no sugar added
1 t. low sodium soy sauce
2 t. cumin
1 t. paprika
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1 T. garlic powder
1 T. onion powder
4 T. unsulfured molasses
3 T. raw honey
5 T. balsamic vinegar

3 T. raw honey
5 T. balsamic vinegar

Directions: In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir all ingredients.  Pretty easy stuff, right?