Saturday, December 28, 2013

{Spaghetti Squash Vegetable Bake}





This new recipe came about because we had squash, vegetables, and chicken, and we needed dinner. Thankfully I discovered a wonderful creation from the end of the week "leftovers" of the cupboard! It was so fun to whip something together and be a bit creative. I am so excited that my little last minute experiment turned out so well.

Spaghetti squash is one of my favorite vegetable staples. I can use it for any meal in almost anyway. I've made spaghetti squash hash-cakes, "spaghetti" and meatballs, and now this bake! As I've mentioned before, I'm going crazy with love for vegetables, so of course I took this opportunity to add as much vegetables as I could. I probably would have added more, but I went a little easy for my not-so-vegetable-loving family :)

Perhaps the greatest achievement of this dish is that my whole family absolutely loved it. Even my papa, who dislikes vegetables ate two helpings! Today for lunch, instead of his favorite taquitos, my dad had some for leftovers! That's like the ultimate compliment when my family gobbles up my creations! :)




This bake is so easy and a true crowd-pleaser for all ages.  Feel free to add in different vegetables. If I had cauliflower, I would have added some "riced" cauliflower for more vegetable goodness. 

May your family fall in love with this vegetable bake as much as mine did! :)

{SPAGHETTI SQUASH VEGETABLE BAKE}


INGREDIENTS:

1 medium spaghetti squash, baked 
1 chicken breast, cooked and chopped to chunks
16 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
6 ounce can tomato paste
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 cup fresh spinach, washed
1/4 cup broccoli, chopped into small florets
1/4 cup carrots, chopped
4 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat the oven to 375 F. Wash and cut the spaghetti squash into two halves. Remove the seeds (save the seeds if you want to roast them later!). Once the oven is ready, bake the squash in the oven, face up for 35-40 minutes, depending on the size of your squash.

Meanwhile, as the squash bakes, prepare the chicken either by baking it in the oven or cooking in a skillet. Prepare the vegetables. 

In a large bowl, combine the vegetables, vegetable broth, tomato paste, tomatoes, basil and cooked chicken. Once the spaghetti squash is done, remove the "spaghetti"  with a fork, placing the strands in the large bowl. Mix it all together, making sure everything is evenly incorporated. 

Place everything in a glass 9x13 baking dish, pressing down and evenly spreading out. Bake at 375 F for 35 minutes. 

Serve and enjoy!



Thursday, December 26, 2013

{Zoodles with Homemade Tomato Sauce and Vegetable Meatballs}





Merry Christmas everyone! I know it is a day late, but I got to use my new vegetable spiralizer, so it was Christmas all over again at lunch! I have been saving up my zucchini, secretly hoping I would find the spiralizer under the tree. 


Can I just say, the spiralizer is AWESOME!!! I absolutely love it!! I cannot wait to try it with many different vegetables.  If you don't have one, you should definitely get one. Christmas is only 364 days away.. :)

Anyway, back to my little lunch. One word- DIVINE!! The zoodles were soft to perfect, harking back memories of my pasta days. The fresh basil in the tomato sauce perfectly complimented this Paleo Italian meal. I'm still drooling a bit as I write this. It was so good. I think I may have it for dinner too. And breakfast. And lunch. 

The tomato sauce and vegetable meatballs were really moments of creative genius. I'm usually not that ambitious, just making stuff up  without a framework or some idea of what I am doing, but I saw vegetables and canned tomatoes and went for it!


Since I've been sugar free for about a month, it has been really hard finding tomato sauces without sugar. Even the organic ones have agave syrup! So I decided if I wanted to have something sugar free, I had to make it myself. Homemade pasta sauce is not really that hard, its easy, its sugar free, and it maybe is even less expensive. So If you are looking for a sugar free option for tomato sauce, I suggest making your own.

I have made the vegetable meatballs before for my family over spaghetti squash, but I haven't posted it until now. So sorry! They are truly delicious! 

My inspiration came from a time when I was flipping through our six TV channels (which NEVER happens!) and I saw a cooking show. The chef was teaching a family how to eat gluten free and suggested adding cooked rice to the meat. Of course I thought, instead I can use cauliflower and vegetables and get the same effect with for a Paleo option with more nutrition. 

That was a moment of brilliance, for I get more vegetables (yay!!!) while using less meat at one time. Feel free to add in other vegetables with the carrot and spinach mix, such as kale or zucchini, being sure it grinds well. 

Since only I ate this, I made a single serving. I made the full recipe for the tomato sauce, but only used as much as I desired to coat the zoodles from one zucchini (which was just 1/4 of the whole tomato sauce recipe).  For the meatballs, I only used about 5 carrots, a small handful of spinach, and a spoonful or two of riced cauliflower with just under a 1/8 pound of ground turkey. 

I hope you enjoy this new favorite as much as I do! May your cravings fro pasta be satisfied by this healthier delicious dish!




 INGREDIENTS:

4  Zucchini, spiraled using a spiralizer, or julienne peeler
1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets

For the Homemade Tomato Sauce-

28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
6 ounce can of tomato paste
1 clove garlic, pressed
3 leaves of fresh basil, washed and chopped
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

For the Vegetable Meatballs-
 
1/2 cup spinach
15 baby carrots
1/2 cup riced cauliflower
1 pound ground turkey meat 
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

INSTRUCTIONS:

Begin by preparing the Homemade Tomato Sauce, placing the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste in a  nonstick skillet. Then, add the garlic and herbs. Cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat, allowing it to simmer. Set aside. 

For the meatballs, using a food processor, grind the carrots and spinach into pieces. In a bowl, combine the turkey, ground carrots and spinach, cauliflower, and oregano. Then, form into meatballs. Place the meatballs in another skillet until thoroughly cooked through. 

While the meatballs cook, prepare the zucchini and broccoli. Then, add the broccoli to the simmering tomato sauce and cover to steam the broccoli. Next, when the meatballs are almost done, add the zucchini to the pan with the tomato sauce, and cover the pan to breifly soften the zucchini.

After one minute, remove the cover from the pan with the tomato sauce and zucchini and add the meatballs. Mix thoughoughly, adding more salt and pepper if desired. 

Serve and enjoy!




Sunday, December 22, 2013

The How-To's: Cauliflower Rice

 I decided to begin a series of "how-to's" to explain the best way for making certain staples in my diet. So join me as I go back to basics and share what I cook up in the kitchen on a regular basis!

I began with my latest favorite, cauliflower rice. This amazing version of the vegetable is great to have on hand throughout the week. I usually make a large batch at the beginning of the week so that I can have it on hand.

I like to add riced cauliflower to many meals to add an extra dose of vegetables and nutrients. Riced cauliflower is simple to make, and when made right, makes a world of difference!

Cauliflower rice can take on almost any variation. Some of my favorites are lettuce wraps with cilantro-lime cauliflower rice and guacamole. Another recent is a tuna salad topped with guacamole and cauliflower rice. Last night, I made vegetable meatballs, and added the extra cauliflower rice I had on hand.




{A Step-by-Step Guide to Make Cauliflower Rice}


Begin by washing the cauliflower and preheating the oven to 400 F. Chop into florets and place evenly on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until softened.



 Next, using the grater attachment of the food processor, "rice" the cauliflower. This is somewhat tedious, putting in all the baked florets, but well worth the effort.




After the cauliflower is riced, use immediately, or store to use for later. 
Voila! Your cauliflower is properly riced!!



Lettuce Wraps with Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice and Guacamole

Sunday, December 8, 2013

{Vegetable Sweet Potato Tuna Casserole}

I am really loving my vegetables. I have never felt so good or so healthy in my entire life! It's amazing what eating real and nutritious food can do! I've been on a Whole 30-type diet (no sugar except that little bit in the ketchup I sometimes eat) in attempt to make it a lifestyle,  and I can honestly say, I DON'T LIKE SUGAR ANY MORE! Even fruits, I'm not desperately craving! I am so much more content with my vegetables, and actually crave them. Call me crazy, but honestly, I have never loved vegetables so much as I do now!

Seriously, I saw an autoimmune Paleo dessert idea on Pinterest and thought "I like my vegetables more." I don't know if that's beyond weird, but I challenge you to find your inner love for vegetables. Don't feel like you have to go on a vegetable craze like me, or even crave them, but just see what adding more vegetables and wholesome, grown-in-the-ground ingredients can do!

 That said, I attempted a cozy casserole last night because it was stormy. I wanted soup, but we had no vegetable broth, so casserole it was. 



And can I say it was a delicious decision! I ate it all, no shame. It hit the spot on a stormy winter night! I'm definitely adding this to my list of favorites. It has my vegetables- I think next time I'll add more :)

I only used a 1/2 can of tuna because only I ate it, but feel free to multiply ingredients to the desired serving amount. I hope you enjoy this creation as much as I do!

{VEGETABLE SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE}


Ingredients:

1/4 cup light coconut milk
1 teaspoon coconut flour
1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 1/2 Tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon chicken broth

2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 of a 6 ounce can of tuna
1/4 cup fresh broccoli, chopped
1/4 cup "riced" cauliflower 
3/4 cup grated sweet potato
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

In a pot, whisk together the coconut milk and coconut flour and bring it to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and then add the lemon juice, chicken broth, and rosemary. 

In a bowl, combine the tuna, broccoli, cauliflower, and sweet potato. Pour the coconut milk sauce over and stir until thoroughly incorporated. 

Place in a baking dish (I used two ramekins) and bake at 375 for approximately 25 minutes (depending on the size of you baking dish and casserole).

Remove and serve!

*If you're not a tuna lover, feel free to substitute it with salmon, chicken, turkey, or whatever you want. And feel free to experiment with different vegetables- next time, I' going to try some kale with it :)