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Healthy Taco Bake

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Dinner struggles with my two picky eaters is a very real thing in our house. The battles, they bug me so much sometimes. Part of feeling like I’m doing a good job at this whole mom thing is knowing that they’re eating nutritious foods to fuel their bodies.  Oh, did I mention the part about them having many opposite dislikes? She hates tomato sauce, he hates cheese sauce. He loves scrambled eggs with fried onions, she won’t touch it, but she’ll chomp on raw carrots if I bribe her…

This healthy taco bake though – it was a winner for us! And it’s all healthy and balanced, plus it fits into the 21 day fix meal plan perfectly.  You get 1/4 of the entire pan as a serving! (counts as 1 red, 1 green, 1 yellow, and 1 blue container). So take that, you last 10 pounds!  You can use ground turkey in place of the beef, but I wanted to make it more kid-friendly, plus our chili is with turkey, so we needed to change things up a bit.

Healthy Taco Bake

2 cups cooked brown rice
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 pound lean ground beef
1 bell pepper (colour of choice), diced
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce (low sodium and no sugar added)

Preheat oven to 350F and spray a 9×13 inch casserole dish with non-stick spray.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Add onion, garlic and jalapeno, and sauté for about a minute. Add ground beef and break apart, browning for about 5 minutes. Add bell peppers and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until beef is cooked through.

Add lime juice and spices. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Remove from heat and add rice, 1/4 cup of the cheese, tomato sauce, and cilantro. Stir to mix well.

Pour into casserole dish, top with remaining cheese, and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes covered.

Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes, or until nice and bubbly and delicious looking.  Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.

Easy Paleo Friendly Wraps

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I’d been searching for gluten free wraps at my grocery store and could never find anything that I really liked, so I was curious when I came across this recipe. I’ve modified it a bit to make it easier (blend it all in your blender instead of whisking like crazy).  It’s easier than I thought it’d be to whip up a batch of wraps, and they freeze well too, so you can double it and be set for a while.

We used these for shredded chicken tacos, but you could use them in place of crepes for a yummy breakfast or dessert.. Bonus – they’re *kinda* healthy.

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Easy Paleo Wraps

Recipe adapted from Stupid Easy Paleo
Makes 8 6-inch tortillas

2 eggs
2 teaspoons melted coconut oil
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 teaspoons coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Blend all ingredients together on high until smooth.

Heat small nonstick skillet (mine was a 6-inch, but 8 works too) over medium heat. When hot, pour in about 1/8 cup of batter and swirl to coat the bottom. Flip when it starts to bubble like the top of a pancake – about 30 seconds). Cook the other side for about 20 seconds and remove to a plate.

Repeat with the rest of the batter.

To freeze, allow to cool completely, then wrap tightly and lay flat.  Defrost in the fridge overnight before using.

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Healthy Homemade Tomato Sauce

Grandmas tomoato sauce

I love comfort food, and in the winter this easy homemade tomato sauce has been a life saver.   I made a double batch and have used it for zoodles and meatballs (above), as a base for a yummy taco sauce, and in a super simple tomato soup with tons of depth of flavour.  It’s super easy to freeze in portions so you can pull one out whenever you need a bit.

I’ve simplified the recipe from the Fixate cookbook (farourite cookbook right now!). It’s low sodium and packed with healthy things.
Get the cookbook in Canada here.

Healthy and delicious homemade tomato sauce

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (6oz) can tomato paste (no salt added)
2 cans (28-oz each) whole peeled tomatoes or organic crushed tomatoes, pureed in a blender
2 Tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried basil or 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes, until onion’s translucent.

Add garlic and tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes, honey, salt, an dpepper. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

Reduce heat to low and stir occasionally for 1 hour.

Enjoy!

Seared Tuna Bowl

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I have to share, oh yes I do! I had an idea of making this Asian/Hawaiian inspired bowl of awesome, and it turned out so well in my opinion.  There’s an awesome ginger miso sauce that’s the bombay.  I’m semi-scared of raw fish for some reason, especially when I buy it at the grocery store and prepare it myself. Learning to be done! So I seared it, which adds some awesome flavour anyhow, so no harm done!

You really have to try this. It’s got lots of ingredients, but is easy to make! Rice, splash of vinegar. Chopped up veggies, fish, and sauce. boom!

Seared Tuna Bowl

Serves 4

For the sauce:
1 1/2 teaspoons miso paste
2 tablespoons soy sauce or aminos
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger*

Mix everything up and set aside

For the bowl:
4 cups cooked brown rice
4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar (or other vinegar)
2 cups diced cucumber
2 cups grated carrot
4 thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup thinly sliced seaweed**
1 avocado, cubed
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 to 1 1/2 pounds fresh ahi tuna

Heat coconut oil over high heat. Sear Tuna on all sides (like 10 seconds per side, max), then slice into bite sized pieces.

Mix rice wine vinegar with rice. Assemble bowls by adding to each one: 1 cup rice, 1/2 cup each of cucumber and grated carrots, 1/4 avocado, some seaweed, and green onions. Top with tuna and drizzle over some sauce.

* try freezing the ginger whole, then grating with a microplane
** Check the foreign section of your grocery store. Costco also carries little packs of seaweed sheets

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Easy Sheet Pan Asian Pineapple Chicken and Veggies

pineapple chicken

Oh my goodness, you guys, GAME CHANGER right here.

Busy moms? I’m right there with you. Yes, I love love love to cook, but I’m not always so excited at spending a ton of time making dinner every night.  This is a recipe I love for chicken skewers on the bbq.. but I’ve modified it to be super easy. You can cook a big batch all at once in the oven.

Plop this onto a bed of greens or rice, and you’ve got a super quick and easy YUMMY dinner. boom.  Do my kids eat it? Well, all they’re happy with right now is fruit and bread, so that answers your question.

pineapple chicken salad

I can’t even handle it.. the chicken stays all nice and juicy.. the pineapple adds this sweet amazingness..

Easy sheet pan Asian Chicken and Pineapple with veggies

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized chunks
1/3 cup soy sauce, braggs liquid aminos, or coconut aminos
3 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp grated ginger
1 can pineapple chunks in juice, drained
1 orange or red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 large red onion, cut into chunks

Preheat oven to 4ooF.

Stir together soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger.  If you have time, marinate the chicken in this mixture for half an hour (or up to a day ahead if you wanna get a jump start on dinner).

Dump everything onto a sheet pan and mix up a bit

Bake for 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Serve on a bed of greens or rice.

Recipe adapted from Fixate cookbook by Autumn Calabrese

Grilled Fish Tacos with Cabbage Citrus Slaw

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This is one of my favourites for dinner. My daughter will eat parts (hold the spice). I give her yogurt “dip,” fish, pieces of tortilla, and avocado.

You can get fresh fish if you’ll be making this within a day or so, otherwise I like keeping a bag of cod fillets in the freezer. Pull one out to defrost in the fridge the night before.  The best part is that this recipe only takes about 20 minutes to make, start to finish, including prep! That’s a win for this mama!  When I have it, I LOVE using mango salsa.

Calories will vary depending on the tortillas you use. Mine are 100 calories each. Meal is 425 calories (makes one serving)

6 oz raw cod or other white fish, washed and patted dry
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 6-inch whole wheat tortillas
1 Tablespoon salsa
1 Tablespoon plain non-fat Greek yogurt
¾ cup shredded raw cabbage (I prefer red). Add kale if you like.
1 small handful of fresh cilantro sprigs
¼ of a lime (you’ll use the juice)
cayenne pepper (to taste)
¼ medium avocado, sliced

Preheat broiler to high

Season fish with salt and broil for 3-5 minutes per side, or until it flakes easily with a fork.

Wrap tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds. Place on a plate and top with yogurt, salsa, fish, cabbage, cilantro, avocado and a squeeze of lime juice.  Sprinkle on cayenne pepper to taste.

Fold and serve.

PS: This one can be messy!

Roast Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Pecans

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Not a Brussels sprouts fan?  Let me tell you, I’d only ever taken the required single bite at special holidays these last 30-odd years of my life, until I saw this recipe and just KNEW that it was my ticket to Brussels sprouts enjoyment.. and hey, I was actually right!  I’ll eat a plate full of these now! I’m not even exaggerating!  Tonight when I made them, they were sitting out still, and I kept going back for more to snack on.  They’re like the gateway to any other Brussels Sprouts that might get thrown in your path.

With Thanksgiving coming up, these are a perfect clean option. The maple syrup and balsamic vinegar add some tangy sweetness, and the pecans add some crunch.  I’ve also been known to toss in some dried cranberries.

Here’s what I did:

I washed up the lovely little Brussels Sprouts – I had just under 2 pounds.

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I trimmed off the ends, and cut the bigger ones in half.

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I tossed them along with 1/4 cup chopped pecans and 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt, and freshly ground pepper.

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I popped them into a preheated 450F oven, and baked for about 20 minutes, until I saw some nicely charred bits.

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I stirred up my 2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and 3 Tablespoons of maple syrup, then tossed the lot together.  I served them immediately. YUM!

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Roast Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Pecans
1 1/2 – 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, washed, stems trimmed, and large ones cut in half
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Himalayan Salt, and Freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

I preheated the oven to 450F.
On a parchment lined baking sheet, I tossed together the Brussels sprouts, pecans, oil, and salt and pepper.
I roasted them for about 20 minutes, or until I saw some nice charred bits.
I whisked together the vinegar and maple syrup
I pulled the sprouts pan out of the oven and tossed them with the vinegar/syrup mixture, and served right away.

healthy baked falafels

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Baking falafels.. I know, genius!  I didn’t come up with this myself, even though I should have.  I remember several falafel-making failures, where things were too mushy, my oil was too hot, and well.. too oily!  Black burnt falafels aren’t so great.  Solution? Bake them up until they’re perfectly cooked.

I love that falafels are full of so much flavour, and pack a lot of nutritional value from the chickpeas, garlic, and healthy oil.  These are great inside a pita, on a salad, or even by themselves as a snack!

You can use your favourite falafel recipe, or follow this one below, and bake em up.

Healthy Baked Falafels
Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is

2 cans Chick Peas (540mL each – low sodium), rinsed and drained
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1 egg
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tablespoon melted extra virgin coconut oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup whole wheat flour or spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

I preheated my oven to 400F.

I dumped everything except the flour and baking powder into the food processor, and pulsed until crumbly.  Then I added half the flour and baking powder, and pulsed a bit more to mix. I added the rest of the flour and baking powder, and pulsed a few more times.

I scooped balls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and flattened them slightly into patties.

I baked them for about 25 minutes – until slightly crispy and cooked through, but still soft in the middle.